Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Save The Date: Texas Style Council Camp

If you haven’t heard of Texas Style Council yet… where have you been?! But no really, if you’re a blogger or business owner, you should really be marking the weekend of March 20-22 as busy. TxSC has consistently been one of my favorite blog events. I’ve been to several conferences, and my favorite comes down to this one. It’s down-to-earth, fun, and approachable. A lot of times when I was in NYC, I felt out of place or that I couldn’t relate to some of the bigger bloggers there. But in Austin, I had so many great friends, fellow bloggers, and people I’ve met that made me feel right at home, even if they weren’t from Texas.

This is the final year they are having Texas Style Council, and this year they are getting “back to the basics”. It’s going to be held at Camp Texlake, Texas and we are going to CAMP (Create A Meaningful Presence) with our blogs and businesses. It’ll be a smaller, more intimate retreat - focusing on content and story telling. I’ll be a camp counselor this year, and I’m really excited to connect with other counselors and campers on the topic I’m speaking on!

The event goes from Friday, March 20 to Sunday, March 22 and will include keynote speakers, bonfires, campfire coffees, fun workshops, camp jamboree party, camp photos, brunches, free time, you name it. That sounds pretty darn amazing to me! I know the initial cost may seem a bit daunting, but this is such an affordable conference of its type, and it includes lodging and all meals, which is such a deal! You can read more on cost and what registration includes here.

I hope some of you will be able to attend this final Texas Style Council! I’m really looking forward to it. Be sure to leave me a message in the comments if you plan on attending. I’d love to meet you! xo

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foggy park

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We've had the most dreary weather ever lately. I'd so much rather it snow for Christmas! Eric and I finally got out last night to do some Christmas shopping. We decided to get ourselves an iPad as a shared gift, so I'm excited about that. Our very first one! Now I can Pinterest in bed until the wee hours of the night, and Eric can play way too many hours of Clash of Clans. I think for everyone else, we're mostly getting gift cards and easy things. I get too stressed out every year trying to think of things to get everyone. Plus, I always appreciate a gift card, so I'm sure others do too. Have you all gotten your Christmas shopping done? xo

Outfit details:
Celinda Burgundy Dress c/o No Rest For Bridget
Urban Outfitters Green Cardigan (similar)
Target Brown Tights (similar)
Felt Floppy Hat in Brown c/o Sosie (similar)
Multicolor Textured Scarf c/o Maurices (similar)
Gold "Oh Deer" Antler Necklace ℅ Accessory Fanatic
Seychelles Boots (similar)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Michigan's Little Bavaria

This past weekend, Eric and I headed over to my favorite place to visit around the holidays, Frankenmuth, Michigan. If you've never been to Frankenmuth or haven't heard of it before, it's a Christmas wonderland! It's home to Bronner's, the world's largest Christmas store. During the holidays, the streets are completely lit up with Christmas lights, lines are out the door to shop at the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, or to eat a famous chicken dinner at Zehnder's or Bavarian Inn. Horse-drawn carriages are carting people around, tons of people are walking the streets, and there's just a festive spirit in the air. I love this little town.

Nicknamed "Little Bavaria" or "Muth", Frankenmuth is located just south of Saginaw in Michigan. The town was settled and named in 1845 by German immigrants from what's now known as Bavaria, Germany. There is a strong influence of Franconian-style architecture in the town. The buildings very recognizably resemble buildings found in Germany, with the use of timbers in "square" and "X" patterns on the outside of buildings. It's so quaint. Our first stop was to Bronner's World's Largest Christmas Store. We found a parking spot, and headed inside to browse! It was a total madhouse, but completely worth it. It's such a magical place!

Bronner's was founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner, and is visited annually by over 2 million people. The building alone is 7.35 acres, and the grounds are 27 acres! When you drive past this place at night, it is completely lit up with lights. The only thing we ended up buying there was a small guitar ornament that Eric loved, but I just loved walking around and checking everything out! Afterwards, we headed downtown to check out the Frankenmuth Brewery for the first time. It was so so busy, so we could only stand and have one drink, but it was super fun. And the Moscato I had was great!

After having a drink at the brewery, we started walking down the street toward the Bavarian Inn. But first, we stopped to the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus to sample cheeses. I ended up loving the chocolate cheese and bought some for our January wine club! I love strolling through little gift shops. We got to Zehnder's to wait for a chicken dinner, but decided to go across the street to Bavarian Inn because we heard better reviews, and the wait was inside the building instead of out! If you're familiar with both, do you have a preference? I think we're sold on Bavarian Inn now!

We ended up waiting 1 hour and 45 minutes for a table at Bavarian Inn, but it was so completely worth it. They had a server who would bring people drinks in line, so we just ordered tall glasses of beer and wine and enjoyed the wait! It was actually so fun to people watch, talk, and just anticipate one of the best meals ever! Once we finally got seated, we both ordered the Family Style Chicken Dinner (what made both Zehnder's and Bavarian Inn famous) and it was amazing and SO much fun. Eric got up to put his coat on, and was like, "Are you ready?" And I didn't want to leave, because I just loved that night and the memory of that occasion so much.

This was definitely one of my favorite nights of the entire year. Afterwards, we made a quick stop to do a little shopping at the Birch Run Outlets and headed home. Perfect day. xo

Outfit details:
Add Another Log Cardigan c/o ModCloth (similar)
Forever21 Black Dress (similar)
Urban Outfitters Belt (similar)
Aldo hat
Candy Cottages Tights in Ginger c/o ModCloth
Melinda Cut-Out Bootie c/o White Plum

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Decorating for the holidays

Hi friends! Just popping in with a few photos from our decorated apartment for the holidays. I absolutely love how a lit-up tree makes a living room feel so cozy at night! Bundled up in a blanket, with a bowl of popcorn, watching Christmas movies? Perfection. I'm really excited because I took all of these pictures myself on MANUAL. I know. I've been blogging for five years and I've either had help taking photos, or I've shot on auto always. I just finished ABM's Mastering your DSLR class and it was super helpful. I finally get what shutter speed, aperture and ISO means! They don't have that exact class anymore, but they do have a DSLR Basics class that sounds really similar. My goal in the new year is to start taking my own outfit photos again. As much as I love Eric and his photography skills, we barely see each other in daylight. The only way I'm going to continue this blog is if I get out there and start doing things myself! When I used to blog 25x a month, I would always go out, set up my tripod and take pictures. I'm excited to start doing that again, but now with more expertise in how my photos will turn out (instead of how auto will produce them). Here's to blogging more! xo

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bride School Workshop

A few weeks ago, I attended an amazing local workshop put on by two of my friends, Jamie and Kaci, called Bride School Workshop. It was perfect timing to kick off my wedding planning! The weekend Eric and I were engaged, I texted Jamie and was like, “I need to come! But we can’t tell anyone yet!” Haha. I’m so glad I was able to partake in this day. In a nutshell, Bride School is a one-day workshop where local experts give brides the guidelines on wedding planning to create the day we dream of, on the budget we’ve allotted ourselves.

They had different “semesters” with a different “professor” for each. I’m going to quickly go over a few things I learned from my day, to help all of you brides-to-be! And if you’re local here in Grand Rapids, they will be having another one in March. I’d highly recommend it. I had so much fun and learned a lot about planning a wedding on a budget, how to do things yourself, and when to hire a professional.

In this session, we learned to listen to what’s important to you. Name your top three things you want to focus on at your wedding, and spend the majority of your budget on those items. To me, it was photography, venue/location and a fun party. So! I’m focusing my budget on a great photographer, the cutest barn, and lots of food/drinks/dance jams for a fun party. They gave us a few guidelines - like your catering should be 40% of your budget, photographer 8%, etc. It was super helpful to take a look at my amount of guests and to determine a budget. Personally, I’m hoping to keep my budget around $10K for 100 guests.

Our professor, local DJ Adrian Butler, gave us some great tips on how to provide entertainment for your wedding. First to think about is… band vs. DJ? A few tips… meet the DJ or band before your wedding, requests from guests are good, keep bar close to the dance floor, keep older guests away from your DJ and keep your dance floor small for more energy (and better photos!)

In this session, we actually got to sit down and practice our calligraphy! I learned that I am horrible at that amazing hand-lettering you see everywhere on Pinterest. Haha! Thank goodness for typefaces you can purchase! We talked about how your save-the-dates and invitations set the tone for your wedding. I want a simple, rustic feel for my stationary items. Also a good tip - invitations go out 6-8 weeks before your wedding!

Photography is a huge thing for me. I loved photography long before I started my blog, but even more so now that I’ve been blogging for so many years. Our professor, Sam of Shutter Sam Photography, said you want your photographer’s style/aesthetic to be the same as you want your day to look like. For me, I wanted a photographer who was consistent, experienced, and had bright/clean photos with a rustic feel, just like I want our wedding day to be. A few tips: make sure you have a connection with your photographer, and check to see how your photographer shoots a FULL wedding, not just a few photos in their portfolio.

Videography is another important thing for me. I especially decided to hire one after this workshop, because they told us that 98% of brides regret not hiring a videographer. Eric will laugh at me because I just sit at my computer watching wedding videos, and crying. I’m such a girl. But this was big to me! Just look at what videographers offer in a package. It was important to me to have a 5-minute edited video, along with access to all additional footage shot throughout the day.

For the catering session, we sat down to an amazing meal of a deconstructed chicken caesar salad. It was SO good! Food should (again) reflect the theme of your day. And also? What are your favorite foods? Your wedding should reflect you and your groom. Since Eric and I are having a small, rustic barn wedding, we decided to go with country foods. Pulled pork, mashed potatoes, buttered corn, and home-cookin’ foods. A few tips I learned? Have a late night snack! Order in pizzas, hire a food truck, or have a french fry bar! I’m planning on having a popcorn cart with seasonings, toppings & personalized bags! Popcorn is my favorite, so do what is you.

Think about your wedding’s theme, and your dress should match that style. I’m thinking an off-white, simple, embroidered or crocheted dress? You should also think about what style of dress makes you comfortable. For me, I’ve always loved sleeved dresses. Think about the items in your closet you love most, and use those as inspiration! A few tips I learned… make sure you don’t have to “hike” anything up, and choose a color that works best for your skin tone. Ivory is typically a safe choice.

Experience design was great to help identify key elements that are important to you, and to consider all touch points that help create a unique event. This included seating chart planning, signage, wayfinding, furniture, centerpieces, you name it. Close your eyes and walk through your venue. Where should a welcome table go? Your dessert table? Your bridal table? How do you want it all to look? And again? Just think about what makes you and your groom YOU, and what you want your day to be like. I’m thinking pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins. :)

Jason from our local favorite bakery, Cakabakery, came to talk about desserts. And we even learned how to frost cupcakes! A few tips? Make sure you know delivery fees, and have cake service available through your bakery and/or caterer. Think about cute cake toppers! Plan on 1.5-2 treats per person. Think about your theme. For our fall wedding, I’m planning on assorted pies and cider donuts. A wedding cake will be the most expensive thing you order if you decide to go that route. So if you're looking to save money, look at providing multiple options - cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, etc. You can always order a small cake for you and your groom to cut. That's what we're doing!

For our floral session, we learned how to put together a beautiful arrangement. It’s actually quite easy and affordable to DIY your own flowers, but it can be time consuming, so beware! You could also get creative and do unique bouquets for your bridesmaids - pine cones, wheat grass, etc. Flowers are not SUPER important to me, so I will cut back on this in my budget a bit. I’ll have a bridal bouquet, and smaller bouquets for my bridesmaids, but will skip on centerpieces and boutonnieres. It’s all in what’s important to you.

I love making timelines. It’s probably because I’m just a super organized person overall and have always been a list-maker, but this was a fun topic for me. A few weeks before your wedding, just make sure you sit down and create a timeline. Most of your vendors will require one, and it’ll be helpful for your bridal party to know where to be and what time. And during your day of, don’t forget lunch/snacks for your bridal party! Be sure to send your finalized, detailed timeline one week before your wedding. And if you can't afford a day-of coordinator, just make sure you have family members or friends willing to help keep everything on schedule that day. You'll want to relax!

I hope I was able to give you some great tips and things I learned at Bride School Workshop! I learned so much more, but I can’t tell you everything, so you’ll have to go for yourself! Hopefully they’ll end up taking this on the road someday. I could see so many brides (especially crafty DIY gals) benefitting from this workshop. I'll be sure to announce on my blog and social media when they confirm the date of the next one. xo