Showering The Bride With Love!

Welcome back to Thoughts & Musings!

We love Wednesdays because that means that we can share some insight on whatever topic was requested most by our readers. In today’s post, we will not being talking about the wedding day specifically, but one of the events leading up to the big day:

THE BRIDAL SHOWER!

Traditionally, the Maid of Honor will throw the Bride a shower (along with the help of the other bridesmaids), although it could be anyone associated with the bride and/or groom. This can be an overwhelming task, especially if said person has never had to do it before, but that’s where we come in! Read on and you will have a easy-to-follow checklist and timeline to make the planning, the execution, and the fun all happen smoothly!

PREPARATION STAGE:
1. Pick a date!
Speaking for the majority, most bridal showers are held about two weeks to two months before the wedding date.
2. Determine the budget! Check with the other bridesmaids and see what they are willing and able to contribute to the bridal shower. Keep in mind that, as a rule, guests shouldn’t ever be expected to pay for their own meals (or drinks, for that matter).
3. Choose a location! Once the budget is set, it will be easier to decide on whether to use a venue ($$), or have an intimate gathering at one’s home ($).
4. Gather a guest list! Once the budget is set, compile a list of guests that you (AND MOSTLY THE BRIDE) want to come celebrate. Be sure that anyone who is invited to the shower is also invited to the wedding!
5. Pick a theme! You can either have the bride help decide what theme the bridal shower will have, or keep it a secret. If you do keep it a surprise, just make sure it’s something that matches the bride’s interests and taste.
6. Invitations! You can either buy invitations from a party-chain store, make invitations yourself, or have them made (Etsy saves lives, y’all!). As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to put where the bride and groom are registered on the invite, so that guests know where to shop for the things the couple wants/needs, as well as an RSVP by date.
*PS - if you are keeping the bridal shower a surprise, as stated above, be sure to put that on the invite as well so nobody accidentally spoils it!

FOUR TO SIX WEEKS BEFORE THE SHOWER:
1. Send out the invitations!
See above for invitation details. Add directions/address to the shower location!
2. Decide on decor! Are the centerpieces going to be floral arrangements? Does that match the theme of the event? Discuss and determine which person will be in charge of picking up/making items.
3. Call the rental company! Put in your rental order for tables, chairs, chair covers, linens, runners, etc.
*Pro tip: The extra couple of dollars it costs for set up and break down by the rental company’s staff is SO. WORTH. IT!
4. Pick your menu! If you know the Bride-to-be’s favorite meal, this is an easy decision. If not, well, it’s time to get creative. You can tie the menu into the theme - maybe a taco bar for a fiesta-themed shower. Or, if not, maybe soup and salads for a light lunch. Either way, make sure to have plenty of whatever you pick!
5. Choose which games you’ll play (if any)! We know, we know - most shower games are lame. However, if you are looking for a twist on the traditional bridal bingo, just search it on Pinterest! You’ll have endless options to choose from (that won’t make your guests’ eyes roll).
6. Purchase party favors/prizes! Even if you decide against games, you should still get something for your guests to go home with as a “thank you for your time, energy, gifts, and love”.

THE WEEK OF THE SHOWER:
1. Get the Bride-to-be a gift!
As a rule of thumb, an appropriate amount to spend is between $30-$50. You are throwing the shower, after all!
2. Gather the last RSVPs! Despite the final RSVP date being days earlier, you are bound to have late bloomers and those whom just simply forget to reply to your invite. Take this time to reach out to those you have yet to hear from.
3. Confirm delivery times with vendors! The last thing you want is unnecessary stress on the day of the shower with incorrect or late deliveries. Be sure to call the venue, caterer, bakery, rental company, etc., just to confirm. Don’t worry about being needy; vendors are used to it by now!

ONE DAY BEFORE THE SHOWER:
1. Follow up with bridesmaids!
Much like confirming the details with the vendors, you should do the same with the bridesmaids. It eliminates confusion and chaos the morning of the shower.
2. Prep what you can of the food! If you are catering the event yourself, it would be wise to prepare whatever you can of the food now. Cut the fruit for the trays, put the condiments in bowls, etc. Even completing the smallest tasks can be beneficial in crunch time.

SHOWER DAY!!!
1. Set up and HAVE FUN!
Now’s the time to bring your weeks’ worth of hard work and dedication to fruition!

We hope this skeleton of shower planning helps ease some of the anxiety you may be feeling when you realize that you are the chosen one! And, of course, if you need some more guidance, feel free to give us a call! We’d be happy to help, or do it all, for you!

Talk to you next time on Thoughts & Musings!

T.M.I (but, Valuable Nonetheless)!

Welcome back to Thoughts & Musings!

As a bride, it’s typical to be overwhelmed with questions, decisions, details, and more. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about what exactly the “more” is, and fair warning, it’s about to get personal!

We are here to shed some light on the worries that brides will have the closer it gets to wedding day - the worries that aren’t normally discussed (but should be!) when it comes to being THE BRIDE! Although a bit taboo, trust us when we say that you’re not the first bride to panic over these lingering questions, and you surely won’t be the last…

Personal question #1: How will I be able to use the bathroom while dressed in my wedding gown?
You could, although it would be A LOT of work, take the dress off completely every time you have to go tinkle, but this wouldn’t be our recommendation. Instead, you know those bridesmaids you chose to stand by your side on your big day? Well, if you weren’t close before, you surely will be now. Typically it takes two (sometimes even three, depending on the dress) bridesmaids to help you go potty; one bridesmaid will stand on either side of you to hold your dress, while you focus on not soiling your undergarments. No room for modesty on your wedding day (well, ONLY while in the bathroom, that is). Another pro tip: sit on the toilet seat backwards, so you are facing the wall, to avoid the train of your dress from possibly slipping into the toilet bowl.

Personal question #2: What if Aunt Flo decides to come, even if she wasn’t invited?
Ahhh yes, our dear Aunt Flo. We love her (when we are expecting her), don’t we? If you happen to be on the pill, you can talk with your doctor about how to safely tweak your schedule to either speed up or delay your cycle, depending on which makes the most sense for your wedding day. Typically, you can alter your natural schedule by skipping your sugar pills, but we are wedding planners, NOT DOCTORS!! Be sure to talk to your physician about what is best for your body!
If you are not on the pill, still go talk to your doctor - there may be something he/she can do! However, even if Aunt Flo demands she be at your big day, don’t stress too much about it. You’re a woman. It’s natural. Just be prepared with EXTRA protection so you can change frequently to avoid an accident!

Personal question #3: You know how when some girls get too warm, they glisten? Yeah, that’s not me! I SWEAT! How do I avoid pit stains on my wedding dress and keep my BO away?
First and foremost, even “those” girls who only glisten still produce body odor. Again, keep in mind that sweating is NATURAL. It’s your body’s way of it keeping itself cool… but, we do understand that you don’t want to worry about these pesky things on your big day, so here are some solutions:
Some brides will get Botox injections in their armpits to prevent excessive sweating. That, however, can be a bit extreme to others, so we encourage you to keep a mini travel-size deoderant in your purse (or have one of your bridesmaids hold onto it in theirs) to apply throughout the day. We have heard wonderful things about “Certain Dri”, for what it’s worth.

Personal question #4: Would I just be the worst bride/wife on the planet if I were too tired to have sex on my wedding night?
NOT AT ALL! You’d be surprised how many newlyweds actually don’t have sex on their wedding night for that very reason (or because they drank one drink too many)! In a recent survey, AT LEAST 25% of just married couples refrain from having sex on the night of their wedding. Remember, the day of the wedding wasn’t just one day - it was months of planning and preparation, and THAT can be tiring. Plus, you literally have the rest of your lives to get busy in the bedroom!

Personal question #5: I really don’t like being the center of attention, and I know that on my wedding day everyone will be looking at me. That makes me nervous, and when I get nervous, my mouth gets drier than the Sahara and my breath starts to stink. How can I make sure that my breath stays fresh all day?
Before your wedding day, it would be a VERY good idea to take a trip to the dentist (for obvious reasons). You can ask the dentist to give your teeth a good cleaning to remove the built up plaque, for that is the culprit for bad breath. Leading up to the big day, and especially on the big day, be sure to drink lots of water since lack of fluids can impact your breath (if you were worried about drinking too much fluid because of needing to use the bathroom, refer to personal question #1). Mints are also a good idea. Have the bridesmaid who is holding your deoderant add mints to their purse, too! Although gum can be helpful, we don’t recommend that for no one wants to see a gorgeous bride in a beautiful gown chomping away on a piece of Bazooka Bubble Gum.

Of course, there are more concerning thoughts that go through a bride’s mind, as the wedding day approaches, but just remember this:

THERE IS A SOLUTION FOR EVERYTHING! And, even if there wasn’t, at the end of the day you will be married to the man or woman your heart desires most, and that’s the greatest solution of them all!

Looking forward to chatting with you again soon on Thoughts & Musings!

The Great Outdoors

Welcome back to Thoughts & Musings!

With the weather (finally) breaking here in the Midwest, there is so much more buzz outside… which includes wedding ceremonies and receptions! Outdoor weddings in the summer are hands-down some of the best. It’s hard to beat the warm rays, nice breeze, refreshing cocktails, and romantic sunset backdrops.

However, if you’re planning an outdoor summer wedding of your own, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you go walking down that aisle to start your forever. Keep reading for 9 key things to consider when celebrating outside:

  1. HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN! Obviously you don’t necessarily want an indoor wedding (or else you wouldn’t have planned an outdoor one), but Mother Nature calls the shots around here. It’s best to come up with a backup plan, just in case. Having a solution for inclement weather will save you a lot of wedding day stress.

  2. AVOID STARTING THE CEREMONY TOO EARLY! This can be tough due to the excitement of kissing your now-husband, but you’ll thank us later for this one. Avoid having your ceremony during the hottest part of the day so that you and your guests don’t melt.

  3. ONE WORD: SUNSCREEN! Even if you do take our advice and push your festivities back a couple hours towards dusk, sunscreen is still a must! Make sure to stash some mini bottles of sunscreen in the bag that your future-mother-in-law is responsible for so that it is on site for you, and/or your guests, to use. They could even be your wedding favors!

  4. COVER THE CHAIRS! Have you ever sat in a chair without a cushion that’s been sitting out in the sun for hours? Okay then, you know it’s not a very pleasant feeling. Save your guests from potentially burning the back of their legs on hot chairs by putting simple chair covers on them. You’ll be doing your guests a huge favor providing chair covers, cushions or basically anything else that will prevent the scorching hot chair from coming into contact with their skin.

  5. WHO WORE IT BEST? Both you and your maids are going to sweat like crazy at your summer wedding, assuming Mother Nature is in a good mood that day. It’s inevitable. You will be miserable if you choose dresses for yourself and your bridal party that are made of thick, heavier fabric. It’s summer, so opt for lightweight fabrics and shorter styles. No one, including yourself, wants to look (or feel) like a hot mess the entire day.

  6. PICK APPROPRIATE SUMMER WEDDING FOOD! Be very wary of the foods choices you provide your guests with at your summer wedding. Many dishes will either melt or spoil in hot warm temperatures. It’s best to avoid items like cheese, dairy, spreads, and anything else that must be served cold; unless of course, you can leave it inside. If possible, consider having the dinner take place in an indoor setting, or at least have the food set up inside somewhere!

  7. DON’T SET THE CAKE UP FOR FAILURE! Fondant has a time and a place, and it’s certainly at summer weddings. If you’re planning on having your wedding on a hot summer day, we highly advise against getting your wedding cake made with regular icing. Your beautiful dream cake won’t look too dreamy as it melts all over the table. Fondant will hold up in the heat, unlike other creamier frostings, saving yourself a gigantic, sticky mess.

  8. HYDRATION STATION! Weddings are a wonderful place for cocktails, sure! But when out in the hot sun all day with nothing flowing through the veins but alcohol, it is the recipe for disaster (…okay fine, that’s a little extreme. We meant dehydration). Have easy accessibility to ice water, or place watermelon wedges around the bar area for guests to grab, as they please. You don’t want anyone passing out from the heat or dehydration.

  9. SHOO, FLY! If you’re getting married outdoors in the heat of summer, bug spray is a definite must. NOTHING is worse than getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and honestly, I would leave a reception early solely for that reason! The last thing you want is for people to bail out on your special day early because they’re having a horribly, itchy time. Place a few bottles of bug spray in the bathrooms and around common areas at your wedding venue. If you don’t want the unpleasant smell of bug spray in the air, try lighting bug-repelling candles on the tables!

Keep the outdoors great for your wedding with these hacks! After all, it is your big day and it should be PERFECT!

See you next time on Thoughts & Musings!

Don't Be That Guy (or Girl)

Welcome back to Thoughts & Musings!!

If you’re from the Midwest like we are, you know just how long Winter seemed to stick around, so now that the sun is shining more often than it isn’t, the birds are singing their tunes, and the days are getting longer (and warmer), we could not be more excited! All things Spring symbolize one major thing to us… THE START OF WEDDING SEASON!!

With the upcoming wedding season, we thought it would be appropriate to post a blog not about the Bride, or the Groom, or planning a wedding even, but about how to follow the proper etiquette as a wedding GUEST. It is an honor to be invited to be apart of arguably the most special day of someone’s life, and it’s only right to treat it as such.

If you have never been to a wedding before, or you need a refresher for the ones you have coming up this season, we put together a list of DO’s and DON’Ts when you are attending a wedding! Check them out below:

  • DO RSVP on time! Wedding invitations are typically sent out 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding, and it’s pretty standard that the Bride and Groom as that you RSVP 4 weeks before the wedding date. Why are timely RSVPs such a big deal? Vendors require a final head count a few weeks ahead of time to make sure there's enough seating and food available.

    • DON’T wait to RSVP or sneak in your response past the deadline,. If you do so, you are adding unnecessary stress to the Bride, the wedding planners, and the vendor by making several people scramble last-minute to accommodate you.

    • DON’T assume that you can bring a “plus one”. I’m sure you know that every penny counts when it comes to weddings, and trust us when we say that every couple goes through a painstaking process of deciding how many people they can (afford to) have at their wedding. If the invitation you receive does not say, "Ms. Jane Doe and Guest”, then it is intended that you are the only one invited to this celebration.

    • DON’T assume that kids are welcome. Since we are discussing proper etiquette here, let me give you a little insight: it is considered BAD etiquette for a Bride and Groom to send an invite that flat-out says “Adults Only Please”. Instead, the Bride and Groom will leave it up to (pretty clear) interpretation by the wording on the envelope. If the invitation is addressed to "The Doe Family" on the outside, or if the names of you and your children are listed individually on the inner envelope, you are free to roll with an entourage. If not, hire a babysitter and leave the little ones at home; let’s be honest, you love them, but you wanted a nice night out without them anyway ;)

  • DO make dietary restrictions known early! It is not uncommon, especially in this day and age, for people to have specific dietary needs/avoidance. Sometimes an RSVP card, in addition to listing meal options, will include a space for you to write in any allergies or food restrictions you might have. If the one you received doesn't, don’t fret! Just simply contact the Bride or Groom, and remind them of your severe nut allergy or gluten intolerance. With enough notice, it’s not a big deal for a caterer to arrange an alternative for you. So, what is a big deal? Demanding on the day of that your Alfredo be prepared sans cream and cheese. 

  • DO respect the Bridal suite and the Groom’s room. The room where the Bride (and Groom) gets ready before the ceremony is often off-limits. Most of the time, there is a sign on the door requesting privacy or an usher nearby to keep the area clear, but even if there isn't, resist the urge to pop in for a quick hello. The newlyweds will be busy prepping for their aisle debut, and this is a moment that they will remember for a lifetime; don’t disturb it. Plus, you'll have their full attention after the ceremony to offer your congratulations.

  • DO arrive on time, and by on time, we mean EARLY. Making an entrance after the Bride is unacceptable behavior, so plan to be on the premises at least 30 minutes before the ceremony start time. We do, however, understand that sometimes life just gets in the way of your plans - heavy traffic, late babysitter, wardrobe malfunction (they do happen!) - and if that is the case, wait until the “I dos” are finished and the guests have left their seats to join the celebration.

    • DON’T ever interrupt a ceremony! This one is self-explanatory, I’d say.

    • DO NOT (this one is SO important that I had to separate the words) play paparazzi!!! Especially during the ceremony!! Just as your phone can be a major distraction to you throughout the day, it’s going to be doubly so for a Bride and Groom at their ceremony. The couple wants to look out and see your smiling faces—not the back of your phone or, even worse, your iPad—beaming back at them. Plus, they spend LOTS of money on a photographer (or three) to capture their candid, lovey-dovey, last-a-lifetime moments! Those moments DO NOT include your black and gold glittery phone case and cracked screens, I promise. Unless otherwise instructed, keep phones and all cameras out of sight until the reception.

  • DO look the part! This is a celebration and it is important to treat it like one, which not only includes your behavior, but your appearance too. Most often, guests know where the wedding ceremony and reception are taking place (which means that they can gauge the proper dress code): beach wedding? Flowy floral dress and strappy sandals. Catholic church ceremony? Modest, formal dresses with a low heel. If you don’t happen to know, just simply ask.

    • DON’T (for the ladies) wear white!! Even if the Bride chooses to wear ivory or champagne or a HOT PINK (yes, I’ve seen it) wedding dress, you are still NOT supposed to wear white to a wedding. Just respect the rule.

  • DO be a team player. Is there a coat check at the reception? Use it. Is everyone expected to join in on the first dance? Boogie on up (even if you really, really don’t want to). In accepting the couple's invitation, you're implying that you're down with whatever they throw your way. They've no doubt been dreaming of this day for a long time - your happiness and accommodating attitude will help make it just as wonderful as they imagined.

  • DO DO DO (again, this is an important one) drink responsibly!! Here's a friendly PSA: Drinking to ridiculous excess isn't just unbecoming, annoying, and distasteful, it's dangerous, especially if you haven't lined up a ride home beforehand. When the bride and groom provide an open bar, they're providing a courtesy. A great way to show gratitude: Pace yourself so you can continue to toast the happy couple well into the wee hours of the morn.

So there you have it, a list of DOs and DON’Ts as a wedding guest. Really, all you have to be is respectful, while enjoying the accommodations paid for by the Bride and Groom, to celebrate their beginning of forever. Now, put on your dancing shoes and bust a move! We’ll see you next time on Thoughts & Musings!

Love Story: Christian Jewkes & Brittney Robb

Welcome back to Thoughts & Musings, and our next edition of our Love Story series! Today’s love story takes “love at first sight” to a whole new level with Christian and Brittney! Take a look for yourself:

“I guess starting from the beginning would make the most sense. Let’s take things back to 2013, I was attending a Vemma Focus convention, the Network Marketing company I was in at the time, and that’s where I first saw the man that I will soon call my husband this year! From the moment Christian walked across that stage, I just knew that my life was never going to be the same as it was before. Believe it or not, I turned to a good friend of mine who was sitting next to me and I said, with NO hesitation whatsoever, “That’s my future husband.” I had no idea who he was nor where he was from, but I can still feel the chills my whole body experienced when I laid my eyes on him.

Despite seeing him at the conference, we never actually met. That didn’t change my mind, though; I knew, deep down, that he was the man God designed for me. Over a year or so, I followed Christian’s journey through social media platforms (what a time to be alive). I never actually made a move until he posted a picture of a burrito one day from Chipotle; at the time, Chipotle was experiencing an eColi outbreak, so I commented saying, “Don’t get sick.” And it was that slick move of mine that marked the beginning of Brittney protecting Christian, and Christian realizing that maybe he wanted to save me, too.

I was living in Canada at the time, and Christian in North Carolina, so we FaceTimed for months. We were able to conquer all the challenges that long distance, time difference, and entrepreneurship pose to a young couple. We finally met in person for the first time at (another) business convention in Orlando, Florida in 2015. The moment I saw Christian again in person, I immediately started bawling. I had never known a love like this, and the thought of not being with him forever was devastating to me. It may seem extreme, but there was no way I was leaving without knowing when I’d see him again. I flew home the next day, ran up to my Dad and said, “You have to meet my future husband.” He told her to fly him in the next day (he’s the best!). Christian had no idea how persistent I was until he looked at his email and saw a ticket to Arizona, where my Dad lived. Needless to say, my Dad approved, and the rest is history!

Three years into a bond and relationship that has never been questioned, we are living together and fulfilling what we believe to be our purpose is - serving and leading others in a global movement. From long distance, to living in an apartment together located in Scottsdale, Arizona, there was no doubt that Christian was going to pop the question… eventually!

Christian asked for my Father’s blessing and shared with my family how he was going to propose, which left them all in tears! First, we flew to North Carolina to visit Christian’s family, then down to Miami, Florida. When we landed in Miami, we got settled into our hotel, then ventured on to a cute urban restaurant on South Beach. I remember ordering the strawberry Kale salad (which is such an insignificant detail). We went on a stroll on the white sand after lunch. We splashed in the water, laughed a lot, danced in the sand, and when I turned around, Christian was down on one knee! I, of course, said yes!!!

Right after that, we hopped in a helicopter that was waiting to take us on a tour of Miami. Everything was so perfect, I had to make sure I wasn’t actually dreaming!! I couldn’t help myself from smiling, and staring at my fiance and then my ring, back to my fiance, and thinking just how wonderful God is!”

- Brittney Robb