Wedding Planning: Highs & Lows

Well, we did it! This past weekend we got married!! Best day of our lives, hands down. I’m still combing through photos (and anxiously awaiting the professional ones, which I know will take some time) so I’m going to hold off on recapping the actual wedding until those come in. So I thought I’d share some wedding planning highs & lows that I experienced over the past 8 months…

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Before I got engaged, I always heard that wedding planning was one of the most stressful times of your life. I feel very fortunate that I did not have this experience. Now, let me be clear – there were a handful of times that I thought I may lose it. However, the vast majority of the time (like 90%), it was fun and creative and exciting!

HIGHS

This comes as no surprise but we just loved all of the parties – our engagement party, our wedding showers and our bachelor/ette parties. Because we live out of state, it was such a fun excuse to get all of our families & friends together to celebrate us. We were incredibly spoiled by everyone around us and we just appreciate them so much.

Receiving the wedding RSVPs may have been my favorite part. While we had a general idea of who was/wasn’t coming, it was SO fun opening our mailbox & seeing everyone’s cute notes and event selections. It became a nightly ritual for us to open these together and I’ll definitely miss this.

One of the most fun parts of being engaged was definitely registering! We lucked out that Crate & Barrel had a “engaged only” event where they shut down the store, served coffee & breakfast and let us roam around for 2 hours. We got to make mock place settings, try out different appliances, and touch/feel everything. This was SO much fun! Williams-Sonoma has this too (our timing didn’t work) and I can’t recommend this enough. It’s such an easy, fun way to get your fiancee involved in the planning process.

LOWS

One of the hardest parts of planning was for sure the guest list. On one hand, we wanted to invite everyone that we’re friends with; however, we didn’t want a large wedding, nor did we have the budget for it. I can’t stress enough how much it dictates everything – the size of your wedding party, the amount you spend, the vibe of the wedding, the venue you choose…everything is effected by the guest list. Our goal number was 115 and we ended up at 113…right on target!

Let’s be honest…without a doubt, one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding is discussing budget. Regardless of how much money you have/are gifted, you have to be realistic about what you’re comfortable spending. For us, it was important to be objective with our money and try to get the best bang for our buck with every purchase. I wish we had set a budget prior to looking at venues; however, we lucked out that our #1 venue fell within budget. Given that I am a huge saver, not spender….it was really tough for me to spend this money. I can’t tell you how many times we had the conversation of “should we have eloped and saved all this money?” but in the end, it was worth every penny.

Now that we’re finished with the wedding planning & the big day is over (still so hard to believe), I can honestly say that I am really enjoyed being engaged and for us, 8 months was the perfect amount of time. What a fabulous 8 months it was!

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wedding dress shopping

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Engagement photos

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save the dates

What were your highs & lows of wedding planning?!

 

Our Love Story + Wedding Bands

Today, I’m partnering up with my friends at E.B. Horn to share a bit more about my engagement story, my search for the perfect wedding band & my #1 tip for all you fellas our there when picking the perfect engagement ring.

It’s crazy to think that two weeks from today I’ll be married. A wife, a Mrs, and officially, a Kozmor. It was a short 7 months ago when we got engaged and my how the time has flown by. Many of you already read the details of how the engagement happened, but as we all know, there’s so much more to every love story! You see, there’s this little thing called fate…and let me tell you, I believe in it…

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I moved to Boston in February 2013…smack dab in the middle of winter…with a college friend of mine. We are both born & raised Georgia natives who needed a change of scenery. We were bored with Atlanta, searching for new jobs and ready to see what the world had to offer. When all of the stars aligned in Fall 2012, we found ourselves signing a lease to an apartment (sight unseen) and planning our big move up the East Coast.

I had been dating a guy here in Boston and while he wasn’t the sole reason for my move, he had somewhat of an influence. As most “I’m not moving for you, I swear” relationships go, we quickly crashed & burned within about 12 months of me moving here.

Fast forward six months through your typical break up phases and there I was: 31, single, living on my own for the first time and feeling pretty damn good about life. I had hired a trainer at my local gym and we were kicking butt & taking names. Once day he said to me “you know that guy Terry? He thinks you’re cute and wants me to bring you with me to his housewarming party next weekend”. I think my exact response was “that guy? (pointing at the blonde hair, blue eyed guy across the room) Nah, he’s not my type”. Ha! Well little did I know how my world was about to change. Spoiler alert: I ended up going to the housewarming party with my trainer, Terry & I hit it off, developed a friendship which turned into a first date, and as they say, the rest is history! It’s truly crazy to think of all the little pieces that fell into place that led us to this place. Fate, right?

About 18 months later,  we were living together and talking marriage. Call me crazy, but it’s always been a big fear of mine to be head over heels for someone and have them propose with a ring I hate. I mean, what’s a girl to do?! You can’t say “yes but no to that ring” or “I don’t like that piece of jewelry that you just spent months saving for”. We’ve all seen that SATC where Carrie accidentally finds the hideous ring Aiden’s going to propose with (#yikes).

So, while I am lucky that my now-fiancee has incredible taste, I am even luckier and more grateful that he asked what kind of ring I liked! Guys, I am telling you…my #1 piece of advice, without a doubt, is ask! Ask your girlfriend, ask her sister, ask her best friend, ask her secret Pinterest wedding board (hey, we’ve all been there!). It doesn’t matter who you ask, just ask someone. When you’re spending this kind of money and making this kind of a lifelong commitment, don’t you want to know that she will love the ring?

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Moments after he was down on one knee…admiring my round solitaire with 6 prong basket setting. PERFECTION!

Last week I went down to E.B. Horn in Downtown Crossing and tried on a ton of wedding bands. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to pick the perfect match for my engagement ring! I wanted something contrasting, yet complimentary. Since we travel abroad at least 3-4 times per year (and 10+ times per year domestic), it’s important to me to have a band that I love. When we travel, I’ll be leaving my engagement ring in the safe deposit box and wearing only my band.  I went back & forth with various styles. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Which is your favorite?!

I ended up picking one very similar to the top one on my middle finger. It’s a vintage looking band made up of round diamonds in a milgrain setting. It’s just perfect. Picking my wedding band was a surprisingly emotional experience. It not only symbolizes our eternal love for each other, but also is a ring that I will wear until the day I die that will always remind me of this incredibly special time in our lives. When I think back on the past four years, my mind is just blown. Fate led from me Atlanta to Boston, where I met the love of my life and where, in just two short weeks, we will begin the rest of our lives together. I have never been more ready for anything.

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What’s your #1 piece of ring advice to guys? Who else believes in fate?

A huge thanks to my friends at E.B. Horn. While I received compensation for this post, opinions are my own. They have been an absolute joy to work with and I cannot recommend the company & their jewelery enough.

 

 

6 ways I’m keeping calm with our wedding 30 days away

Ahhhh…less than 1 month from today I will be walking down the aisle! That’s both scary and exciting. Also a little bittersweet because we’ve both loved the planning process so much that we don’t want it to be over. I’m reminded on a daily basis how lucky I am to have a fiancee who not only wants to be involved, but genuinely enjoys planning together. It’s been a really fun bonding experience for us.

That being said, there have been time of high stress and it’s a scary feeling to think that all of these months & months of hard work will come to fruition in a mere 30 days. We’ve got this vision in our heads so we’re praying it turns out even better than we imagine!

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Here are 6 things I’m doing to keep calm during this potentially stressful time:

Working Out: This is KEY! I’m telling you – nothing eases stress like a killer workout. Lucky for me, my crossfit coach totally gets it and my gal pal Amy is the best workout partner so he regularly gives us a “wedding workout” to do (holy arms). We’ve been pushing ourselves 5-6 times per week at our local crossfit box and it’s totally paying off. Did I mention how much I love working out?!

Delegating Details: As a type A control freak, this has not been easy. However, it is beyond necessary. There is a reason I hired these vendors (and are paying them a fortune!) so I’ve learned to trust in them and let them take the reigns. Also, I’m pretty lucky that both my mom and fiancee’s mom are involved & helpful. I’ve been able to count on them to gather information, pictures, etc. and other key tasks that I can’t do from afar.

Keeping our Normal Schedule: Right after we got engaged, I was reading something about how it’s important to not let the wedding take over your everyday life – that means not every dinner conversation needs to revolve around the big day. So while we discuss things often, I try to make a big effort to keep our everyday routines normal. We still go to work at our normal times, take our puppy for walks & watch our girl Dorinda every Wednesday night.

Minimizing Travel: Anyone who knows me knows that this has been the biggest challenge of all! Yes, we went to Iceland. Which was incredible. However, other than that we are laying low and staying local, in an effort to save money & eliminate any added stress to our lives. Plus, we’ve got a pretty incredible honeymoon on the horizon, so we’re saving all of our excitement for that!

Focus on Health: I mentioned working out above, but there’s so much more to “health” than exercise. For me, staying healthy also includes eating healthy, increasing my water intake, sleeping enough, and staying mentally sane. I’ve been focusing a lot on eating whole foods & eliminating as much processed food as possible. This means shopping mainly in the meat, seafood & produce aisles and trying to eat as veggie heavy as possible. Additionally, I’ve been very cognizant of drinking my body weight in water (ounces) and sleeping at least 7 hours per night. I’d love to say I’m getting 8-9, but that’s hard to come by during the week.

Remember the Point: This is by far the most important thing that all brides & grooms must do! Sure, we’re planning a big wedding weekend full of food, drink, activities, music, dancing, etc. And sure, we want to make sure that our family & friends have the best weekend of their lives….but…let’s not forget the reason we’re all coming together. For us, it’s important to stay grounded and remember that we’re hosting this weekend because Terry & I met, fell in love, and are vowing to spend the rest of our lives together. This big day signifies a new chapter in our lives – one of lifelong commitment, starting “our” life together, and beginning our journey as a family. We both take marriage very seriously and so we often remind ourselves how this is oh so much more than a “party”. This is the beginning of the rest of our lives.

What do/did you do to stay calm before your wedding?

Bridesmaid & Groomsmen Gift Ideas

With the wedding less than 6 weeks away (we are in the homestretch, people!), we’re dotting our “i”s and crossing our “t”s. One thing we recently finalized were our wedding party gifts. Now, I’m not going to share which we chose (want it to be a surprise) but I had a lot of fun looking into ideas. These range from $15-$150 per gift, so there are quite a few options at every price point.

For your bridesmaids

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{monogrammed tote | floral robes | bar necklace |spa gift basket | makeup bag|candle| earrings}

*If a tangible gift isn’t your style, think about treating your bridesmaids to a spa day or mani/pedi together on the big day. Sometimes time spent together is the best gift of all!

For your groomsmen

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{leather flask | wedding day socks | overnight bag | dopp kit | bottle of liquor}

*As mentioned above, if a tangible gift isn’t your style, how about treating your guys to a round of golf the day before the wedding, or a professional barber shave?!

 

All you brides out there, what are you getting your girls? What is the best gift you’ve ever received as a bridesmaid?

My Bachelorette Party

Happy  Monday y’all! I’m still on a huge high from pretty much the best weekend ever. All of my best friends & I hopped down to South Florida for a long weekend full of beautiful ocean views, delicious food & drink and endless laughs. I’m so grateful that 10 of my best gal pals were able to join in celebrating my “last sail before the veil” (as our boat Captain Michael said). To say I’m sad the weekend is over is a huge understatement! Isn’t it the best feeling when you bring a group of friends together & everyone not only gets along, but genuinely enjoys spending time together?!

While I won’t share all of the fun details from the weekend, I want to give recap with a few of my my favorite parts.

We spent hours by the pool, soaking in the view…

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We ate delicious food & drank delicious drinks…

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We dressed up & had a night (or two) on the town…

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The girls surprised me with the most amazing bridal brunch…

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And an afternoon on the best boat ever…

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my high school friends

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my college friends

 I can’t thank my friends enough for all of the time, effort, money, generosity, love and thought spent on this weekend. I am one VERY lucky girl!

 

How I chose my “getting ready” wedding venue

When I think of my dream wedding, a few key pieces come to mind: a gorgeous dress, the look in my husband’s eyes, being surrounded by family & friends, and eating, drinking & having fun! Then, when I dive deeper, I think about how I want to feel on my wedding day – excited, nervous, calm, pampered, special, etc. SO many emotions, right?! Since a LOT of excitement comes leading up to the wedding (days prior, getting ready, etc) it was absolutely critical for me to have the perfect place to get ready in. After all, I’ll be there with my bridesmaids, my mom, my grandma, the photographer, videographer, hair & makeup…it takes a village people! haha.

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In all seriousness, I looked long and hard for a location that would be perfect for (a) Terry & I to spend our wedding night and (b) a venue for me & my girls to get ready in.

So…what was the criteria?! I came up with 3 things that were important to me…

It has space

This was HUGE for me! The thought of being cramped on my wedding day immediately stresses me out. With 5 bridesmaids, 3+ family members & a handful of vendors, having an open space with plentiful counterspace is absolutely necessary. We’ll be there for at least 5 hours on Saturday and need the space for hair & makeup stations, a light lunch spread, a champagne bar (obvi!) & of course, plenty of closet space for our dresses!

It feels swanky yet sophisticated

Let’s be honest, when else in your life can you justify splurging on a super nice hotel room for a weekend? (Okay, maybe the honeymoon too…) Since our wedding is out of town, renting a place was our only option. Given that I only plan on getting married once in my life, I want to get ready in a place that is luxurious and chic, yet sophisticated and classy. Something that appeals to both my grandma and my bridesmaids. Something that makes people say “wow” and that makes the photographers swoon. Think of all the pictures that will be taken here!

It feel special

In addition to the aesthetic feel (mentioned above), feeling “special” to me means a place that has amazing customer service, that understands the importance of your wedding day, that will go above & beyond to assure that everything goes as smoothly as possible with minimal stress & worry. Keeping calm on your wedding day is e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

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When I found the Pavilion Grand Hotel, I knew I found the right spot. From my first interaction with the managers to our hotel tour, they made me feel right at home. They understand the excitement & anticipation that comes with your wedding day and they have all the bells & whistles to guarantee that your entire weekend goes smoothly. From valet parking to an on-premise salon to an in-house bistro, they’ve got it all. The space. The swank. The special feel I’ve been dreaming of.

Let the countdown begin! Less than 3 months til the big day. Be sure to stay tuned, as I’ll be sharing many Instagram posts & a follow up post of my experience.

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Thank you to The Pavilion Grand for sponsoring this post. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Green & White Wedding Tablescape Ideas

For all of you not in the Northeast, I’m jealous. We are in the midst of a blizzard, which hasn’t fully hit yet but we’re in “preparation” mode, anticipating 12″-18″.

So. Over. The. Snow.

That being said, I’m taking full advantage of this snow day and doing some wedding planning (eek!). I’ve been cautious to keep the wedding posts to a minimum because (a) this is a design/travel blog, not a wedding blog and (b) I want the big day to be a surprise! I’ve got a fabulous event design team I’ve hired (shout out to BellWether Design), incredible vendors & want to let the pros do their job. I’ll share everything after the big day, once we have our professional pics!

One thing I am l-o-v-i-n-g for weddings and that I am hoping to stay involved in is the tablescape! I just love the white & green & rustic + classic look that comes with this style. Here are  ton of examples of what I’m loving.

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Let’s take a vote! Which is your favorite?!