Friday, December 14, 2018

Wedding Check-In -- No. 1

Happy Friday, all! I wanted to take today to do a little wedding check-in of sorts. I'd like to do several of these posts intermittently as we're planning just to document the process. I created a few prompts I hope to use for each check-in.

Wedding Details
Date: October 3, 2020
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Current Guest Count: 300+ (We know, we know...)

What We're Inspired By
Sammy and I are always inspired by people who seem to be able to harness a specific style effortlessly, and these people tend to be our family members, specifically our cousins. I am endlessly inspired by their ability to make their homes and celebrations so lovely and classic with seemingly little effort. We're both inspired by what I call a base taste (and this is how we are in everything from our home decor to our fashion aesthetic) which is simple, classic, and timeless. But then we're each drawn to a specific "twist"; he, modern, me, vintage-esque. Luckily, we both like one another's twists ;)

We're not looking to do any theme, except maybe play to the season's charm. We're drawn to many neutrals and greenery, clean lines and timeless accents. And since we're both extremely close to our families and hold them, their histories, and their stories in such high regard, we're always inspired by ways we can incorporate family traditions/elements into our wedding. I've tried very hard to incorporate a personal aspect into every decision we've made because it's important to us for our wedding to feel personal and specific to us.

Having said that, some specific things I've pinned that I'm/we're (I haven't shared all these with Sammy yet—ha!) inspired by:

While Sammy isn't as big of a snacker as I am (I take things to a whole new level), we both definitely like our snacks, so I thought an idea like this would be really cute (and cheap! and easy for the venue!) for favors. We're also both very autonomous, so we're all about anything that shows our individuality, which is somewhat hard within the industry when everyone is becoming "one soul." *major eye roll*

We're going to have an enormous bridal party, so I'm not sure if we're going to have everyone stand up with us during the ceremony, so we may need rows of seats reserved for the bridal party, or even just our parents and grandparents, and I love the simplicity of this instead of having a RESERVED sign on certain chairs.

I definitely want lanterns to line the aisle during the ceremony. BIG fan of lanterns. And I love how it looks with these chairs which are what our chairs will look like (and I love the alternating size of lantern).

I initially was dead set on having one color and having all bridesmaids choose whatever kind of dress they wanted as long as it was in that color family. And then I saw these dresses haha. I still don't like the idea of one dress in the exact same color, so if I choose one dress, I would want to mix and match the colors—I'm thinking whatever this nude color is, champagne, even cream, and then dark-ass ox blood. I'm sure this dress only comes in one color haha so that plan will get shot to shit, but I just adore the effortless simplicity of it. 

What We're Working On
I was adamant that we try to get the venue solidified before the new year just so we technically didn't need to plan one more thing for an entire year haha. If only so we had an exact date chosen which allows us to vendor shop at our leisure. So right now, we're not working on much after the venue search frenzy. And it's been nice to just enjoy the holiday season without Our Wedding being the focus which I was very against, especially since it's our first Christmas in our home and with Henry, so I want that to be the focus.

It's been nice to just come across wedding-related things organically rather than actively searching for them. I guess the only active thing we're doing is finishing up our bridal party proposals which has been so fun for me (and hopefully Sammy too!).

What We've Done
-We have officially booked our venue! We will be getting married on October 3, 2020 (which is insanely crazy to say/write/type etc.) at Geneva National Resort in Lake Geneva. We have a large guest count but can't afford or ask our parents to pay what most venues that can accommodate us want to charge, so the venue search has been a struggle. I was really set on getting married downtown. I just love the city so much, we both do, so that's where I focused the search initially. Turns out, a lot of spaces just can't hold all of our friends and family, and the ones that can want to charge a criminal amount of money. So, I started to extend the search outward where I could get my outdoor space which was a high item on the criteria list (and something that was hard to find downtown).

Sammy and I have always really enjoyed Lake Geneva. His mom's family's picnic is there every summer, he and I took our annual Christmas trip there last year, and we just generally enjoy being near water. I think we're both inherently connected to it and calmed by it, so it was kind of no-brainer when we went and toured Geneva National.

We had such a wonderful experience touring the venue that I knew we wouldn't have any problems planning our wedding with the staff there. I'm really excited to start brainstorming how to utilize all the spaces we have available to us and I'm even more excited we're going to have our outdoor ceremony after all. I was so excited to get a coordinator assigned to us but then a little bummed when she told us the next official step (our tasting!) won't happen until this time next year—ha!

I'm also really excited that it's going to feel like a destination wedding without all the hassle of an actual destination wedding haha. Lake Geneva is actually closer to our house than downtown Chicago is, so it feels like you're "getting away" without the travel aspect. Plus I think it makes the whole weekend feel more like an event because most close family members and our whole bridal party (hopefully) will be staying up there from Friday night to Sunday.

-We have begun asking our bridal party, as I mentioned, and I've enjoyed it SO much. This was one of the things I've been looking so forward to and I'm happy that it's lived up to my expectations. I've asked all my girlfriends and my sister and all the ladies in Sammy's family will be up next. I'm highly considering adding one more cousin to the mix which will make my bridesmaid round at lucky sixteen. I KNOW. But we're Italian, I'm not sure what you want from me. And before ya judge, Sammy has twelve groomsman, okay? You know, I keep saying, this is truly a wonderful "problem" to have. We have so many people we're genuinely close to and love and want as part of our party. It's going to be so much fun.

My ladies all got individual "proposals" which has been so fun for me to put together. I really didn't want to do the same thing for each person because each person is an individual and I wanted their gift to reflect that. I do have groupings of proposals that are the same depending on who they are (my girlfriends got similar ones, Sammy's cousins got similar ones, etc.) and how old they are.

One of my girlfriends got a "The Office" themed (since we're obsessed) proposal where I put a note inside a teapot that looked like the one Jim gives to Pam in the show.

These were the proposals I did for my girlfriends and I think they went over really well! I included a note on the inside of each box lid with something I share with each of the girls. This one was Chelsie's, my matron of honor, and it was Sex and the City, naturally.

I made cards like this for my sister, SIL, and two of Sammy's older cousins. And my sister got a combination of things I gave my girlfriends and things I'm giving my SIL and Sammy's cousins.

And then this necklace as well. I found a crystal necklace for my granola sister (who am I kidding? I have crystals in our guest rooms for guests—ha!) and it's actually so stunning in person.

A terrible picture I took in the car of my brother's gift, but you get the idea. I'm going to try to make the remaining tags on my Cricket machine or something.

We went to my mom's for dinner last week and asked both of them there which my mom lived for.

My brother told Sammy he was "honored" and I can't even with him.

 Dead for this picture.

I don't have pictures of the remaining proposals yet because they're not all officially put together, but we'll be asking all of Sammy's older cousins, brother, and SIL when we host our Christmas get together on the 22nd, I'll ask his younger cousins on Christmas Eve, and I'll ask one of my first cousins on Christmas Day if she's with us.

The older cousins and my SIL are getting a box like my sister with a monogrammed stemless flute, mini bottle of champagne, and gold candy scattered throughout. The younger girls are getting boxes with the gold candy too but filled with these monogrammed candles (in rose gold) and hair ties instead of the champagne. 

And my first cousin is getting these gemstone bracelets because she's also super granola like my sister ;) the pink is rose quartz and the black are lava beads that you can rub essential oil into and wear. I'll make it look pretty in box with a cute card too. I think she's going to be really surprised which should be a lot fun.

As you saw, Sammy got all his men the same thing because #classic. He had black Yeti koozies monogrammed and added each guy's favorite beer with a "groomsman" tag hanging from the neck and called it a day. They're super cool and a great idea. I was impressed when he told me.

-We've officially have an officiant! We've asked my cousin to officiate which is going to be so special. She's got this fantastic performer quality to her personality that's going to lend itself so well to officiating our ceremony. And we're both writers, so I'm excited to write the ceremony with her and share that experience as well.

What We're Looking Foward To
I think we're both looking forward to allowing this next year to include planning but done so on our schedule and time frame. We're going to be two days shy of a two-year engagement by the time we get married, and having a longer engagement was very intentional (even though all venues are already booked for 2019 so we'd have to pick 2020 anyway haha) just so we'd be able to plan leisurely, if we choose to. Knowing us, we'll probably have 90% of things planned by this time next year (haha can't wait to look back on this post and laugh at myself!) just 'cause we're planners by nature, but I'm looking forward to the option of not planning if we don't feel like it.

I'm also looking forward to enjoying the early stages of being engaged! It feels like we've been engaged for a year already when it's only been two months. It's crazy. I think sometime in the new year our family is going to throw us an engagement party which I'm crazy nutso excited for. And for a Lake Geneva wedding show that should be taking place at the end of February. I'm trying to max out on all the early stage things before much is planned when your engagement still feels relatively new.

Next Steps
Next steps are to enjoy being engaged and leisurely start to "vendor shop" as our coordinator puts it. I really want to nail down our photographer first, if possible. I've been following one for almost two years now that I absolutely adore but has recently relocated, so I'm not sure she'd be able to do it. I want to reach out really soon though!

How We're Feeling
I'm relieved and happy to report that I feel like just within this last week or so we've finally found our groove. Getting engaged in October (one of my very favorite months) was thrilling and romantic and picturesque and amazing and all the wonderful things it's "supposed" to be. But it was also surreal and overwhelming and sometimes uncomfortable and a little stressful, if I'm being honest, when happening right before my birthday, two impending trips, one month after we got our puppy, and just before all the major holidays (and everything that comes with those).

I spent the first two months back and forth between high emotions: one day I would be filled with joy and oh so excited and the next, or often later that same day, I would be filled with immense worry and doubt. Those are hard emotions to swing back and forth between. I'm still figuring it all out, and therapy has definitely helped, but I think giving myself grace, realizing I need more time than others to adapt to change, and giving myself that time has made a huge difference.

And I take solace in knowing that even though this is a big change, our relationship hasn't changed at all, which I think was an irrational fear I was dealing with in the early weeks of our engagement. I also take solace in recognizing when it seems like Sammy might be struggling similarly. We're not the couple that regularly checks in with one another in terms of our emotions. Maybe we should be, but what seems to work for us is allowing the other the space they need to work through their own shit and have the trust to know if we were really struggling internally, we would come to the other for support. I've appreciated the moments when I may answer a wedding-related question a little too quickly or with a short response in the hopes it will end the conversation entirely and quickly, that he's never pushed or prodded for more information. And I've extended the same to him.

It's odd to go through something like an engagement, a milestone in one's life our society has constructed an entire industry around and told us exactly what it's supposed to look like, and feel alone a lot. I've been trying to lean into those feelings and honor that they're there instead of pushing them away. But now that I think we're on the upswing, I'm really looking forward to enjoying this time together and as a future bride, a term I've always been a little uncomfortable with but also dreamed about.

The journey so far has felt like a constant exercise in walking the line; going back and forth between emotions, balancing between how a role or experience is supposed to feel vs how it does vs how I want it to. But such is life, no? A balance act. A constant exercise in walking the line.

Have I maxed you out on wedding stuff? I bet I have about 19 paragraphs ago. ;) I'm excited to have a festive weekend coming up. Girls night tonight to watch Christmas movies, a FULL day of nothing on the calendar tomorrow that I plan on filling up with many a festive thing, and a Polar Express experience with our niece and Sammy's family on Sunday. I can't wait!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

*bare with me when I post wedding-related stuff, I know it's not for everyone! but I also know how much I'm going to love looking back on these posts, so I definitely want to get them down while the memories and opinions and reflections are fresh. And if anyone has any advice to give, I would sure love to hear it!*

*Linking up with Andrea!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Weekend Recap / 2018 Christmas Bucket List

Hi all!

This weekend was a good, good, good one. So happy to be recapping it today.

Per the title of this post, it feels pretty lazy to include our Christmas bucket list at the end of a recap post, and it is pretty lazy. But we're heading toward the middle of the month, we've already completed a good portion of these, and I just want to get this on the blog for the sake of documenting so at the bottom of a random post it goes.

But first—the recap!

Chelsie came over Friday night so we could make many, many cookies. My future MIL does this with her best friend and they make enough to last them through Christmas (and then some) and I've always thought having cookies on hand throughout the season was a great plan, so we decided to do it this year!

We made five different ones (started small this year) and we split the ingredients and the resulting cookies. I grabbed a frozen pizza from the store and had it ready when she got there so we wouldn't waste our time with cooking stuff for dinner or waiting on delivery.

We made white chocolate, peppermint, Oreo cookies (stupidly good), chocolate chip, peanut butter with Hershey kisses in the middle, shortbread, and pretzels with kisses and M&Ms.

We exchanged our gifts as well, which really means I got a gift and Chelsie got to HEAR about her gift since Amazon ruined hers. But first, she got Henry a Christmas gift which was so sweet!

When we were in SJP's pop-up shop in NYC, we smelled her candle and decided we would get it for each other for Christmas, so she gave me her candle (the part of her gift from me that Amazon ruined) and this insanely beautiful ornament for our tree. I love, love, love it. I told her her candle is on the way... and also got her a pair of socks from Barefoot Dreams.

Our haul.

And this guy watched over us all night and was pretty darn good except for eating one whole cookie and a Hershey kiss with the foil still on.

And I went outside to see her new car and we realized we didn't take any picture inside sooo we took a selfie in front of my garage hahaha.

Saturday morning, Morgan and I met up and went to a "holiday faire" at the McHenry County fairgrounds. In addition to being a craft fair, they had events you could enter for best chocolate chip cookie, decorated cookie, crafted stocking, ornament, etc. Well Morgan and I showed up and no one else brought in their entry and it remained that way until we left. We were the only dorks in the county who entered cookies--ha! Morgan received an email this morning saying that she won first place (obviously...), but I, hilariously, have yet to receive my email, so either it's still coming, or I made a REALLY bad cookie.

After the fair, we stopped at Allen's Corner so I could introduce Morgan to the amazingness. And then we chatted for a little while at my house and exchanged Christmas gifts. I gave her a blanket that says "This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching blanket" (because we're obsessed) and two Harry Potter items that have yet to arrive. She gave me (for my birthday and Christmas) this AMAZING mug I will use until I'm 1000 years old, a HP blanket (so I guess I'm officially a fan now), vanilla dipped spoons for coffee, and gorgeous hand sewn Paris themed tote bag.

I was happy to stay home all night cleaning the house (for a brunch I was hosting the next morning), doing laundry, organizing our guest room closet, and working on our Christmas cards (which still have to be sent out). I also got a chance to watch Dumplin' and I loved it. I loved the book, so I was glad the movie lived up to it.

Finished the night putting away a big pile of laundry, watching Girls Incarcerated (swear to God, I'm obsessed with our prison system), while Sammy clung to Henry as soon as he got home from work. You know, the usual.

Sunday morning I planned a brunch so some of my favorite people could come over and see our house and Henry, and so we could all be together during the busiest, most wonderful time of the year. And so Sammy (before we went to work) and I could ask one of our cousins to be the officiant at our wedding.

I kept it pretty simple. We did many mimosas, two dips as appetizers, and for brunch, my mom made two quiches, I found stuffed bagels at the grocery store (Bantam Bagels if you've never heard of them, they're real good), and my grandma made spinach pinwheels. 

Some boy was incredibly good all day, I was pretty damn shocked. Even after everyone left, he kept on napping and being such a sweet guy. We may be out of the insane puppy phase after all!

The women... I can't even describe how I feel about them. Being in their presence completely lifts me up. They are my church and my religion. And asking one of them to be our officiant was so fun. She and my mom teared up, and she was so surprised, even though she definitely shouldn't have been. (She was born to do this stuff!)

I truly love them (and their children) more than I can say. I was so happy to have them in our home and spend the day with them.

We sat around eating cookies and talking, while they asked me what songs I wanted to play at our wedding and I played a few through the TV. These are the best kind of memories and I'm so grateful for them.

It was a wonderful weekend and left me feeling rejuvenated for the week. Now—the bucket list! I want to handwrite this like I did our 2018 Fall bucket list and post it on the fridge, (which Sammy may add to if I have forgotten something!) but I want it here as well.

2018 Christmas Bucket List

Pick out our Christmas tree
This would be an example of me cheating a little on this list because I wrote this down after we already did it ;) we got our tree the day after Thanksgiving, just as I had hoped. We cut it down this year and I think that'll be the last time haha. I just want the tree, I don't need to make a whole thing out of obtaining the tree. Next year, we'll go to the church parking lot down the street ;)

Decorate the house
Another cheat. Done before I wrote the list! Decorating a home for this time of year is truly the number one reason why I wanted to buy a house. I can't tell you how much this means to me and I love how it turned out.

Decorate our gingerbread house
Doing this week!

Get Henry a festive bandana
Done! Plus a bow tie for Christmas Day ;)

Play outside in the snow with Henry
Done! We didn't stay out long because Momma can't hang, but I'm sure we'll get another opportunity or two before the season is over.

Do at least one festive thing with each of our extended families
We have plans this Sunday to have a Polar Express experience with Sammy's family. And we'll be hosting Cugini Christmas this year at our house with all of Sammy's first cousins.

I've already gone to a Christmas craft show this season with my mom, she's come to CL for the Christmas parade and tree lighting, and the brunch I hosted this past Sunday felt relatively festive. I also have traditions with my dad and siblings that I'm sure we'll do this year too. Always happy to tack on festive events/traditions each year with our families.

Host a festive gathering in our home
Done! And more to come!

Watch Home Alone 78 times
Well on our way.

Watch nostalgic Christmas movies/shows
Always a favorite. I've been trying to watch something festive almost every day.

Go to a festive event in town
Done! Went to two so far! I hope to squeeze more in or just more time downtown CL while it's all decorated.

Start a new tradition
This came about organically without even discussing the idea of starting a new tradition. Sammy mentioned to me he bought me an ornament as one of my Christmas gifts because he saw one he thought I would like, and then he said he wanted to start a tradition of getting each other an ornament each year. Check that off the list! And I can't wait to see what he picked out. I still have to find him one!

Read three Christmasy books
I have one on my Kindle right now from the library, and should be able to plow through two more if they're "light" enough.

Do something festive every day
This has been easy and so fun. Whether it's having a cup of cocoa by the tree, reading by the tree, watching a festive movie, wearing festive pajamas, or all of the above, I try to do something every day that's specific to the season.

Continue my wrapping tradition
Every Christmas, once all of the gifts I'm giving have been purchased and delivered, I gather everything, make mac & cheese, grab a Coke, turn on Home Alone, and eat and then wrap all the gifts in front of the TV. I absolutely love doing it and now I get to wrap even more gifts because Sammy is decidedly not a fan of wrapping ;)

Start a Christmas tradition with a friend(s)
Another one that came about organically. I feel like we spend a lot of time making an effort to have traditions with our immediate families and significant others, which is obviously very important, but I think it's also important to make time for traditions with our friends as well. Chelsie and I started our cookie baking tradition this year, and I hope we carry it on until we can barely walk. My girlfriend is also hosting us this Friday for a festive girls night and I hope we're able to do that every year as well!

That's it for me all. If you made it this far, you're a saint. xo

Friday, November 30, 2018

Life Lately

Hi, friends. It feels like I haven't posted in a month, but it's only been a week! I have much to share and document.

This past holiday weekend was just so, so good. Sammy and I got to spend a lot of time together, we saw our families, and Henry was relatively calm (could we possibly be moving a tiny bit out of the puppy phase?!) every day. 

We did many festive things and even fit in another venue tour (of which, I'm super excited about).

But back to last week...

We were able to leave work early on Wednesday afternoon, which was a nice treat! When I got home, I snapped a few photos of our "Thanksgiving decor" while it was up because I knew come Friday it would all come down to make room for the best decor of all ;)

Sammy went out with his friends for Black Wednesday, and Henry and I were very content to stay home and watch Jeopardy before calling it an early night. 

I got up early on Thanksgiving morning and watched An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving because it seemed like something that would be right up this nerd's alley. And it was. And because I knew Sammy would never want to watch it with me ;)

But he was keen on making us pancakes to eat while we watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Only the greatest Thanksgiving film ever created. And I think we found ourselves a new tradition.

We spent the morning in our pajamas, lounging around.

And then I made Henry take several staged photos "for Thanksgiving."

Before I started getting ready for dinner, and after Sammy went to work, Henry and I went on a walk. While we were walking I was thinking of how different this Thanksgiving day was for me. I've never spent one minute of Thanksgiving by myself or home alone, so it was kind of weird, but also nice, to have such a leisure day. 

I got on the train later that night and headed over to my grandma's. She lives real close to the train station, so I took the opportunity to walk through their downtown and see some of the lights they put up.

Forever love men in the kitchen ;)

My dad always comes to my grandma's for dessert, and it's forever a reminder how blessed we are to have parents who (now) get along post divorce.

All bets were off Friday morning when it went from fall to CHRISTMAS real quick in our house. Sammy had to work later that day/night, so we got up early in the morning to get our Christmas tree :)

Someone HAD to roll in all the mud. I think next year we'll go to the church down the street and get our tree from their lot haha.

Very impressed with himself haha.

We got home and I laid out all the Christmas decorations we've collected so far while Sammy put the tree in our stand.

And this guy watched over everything.

We decorated the entire house, except for our trees. Sammy had to go to work so I figured the real tree could use a day to relax and sit in some water before decorating (which we did Saturday). I'm hoping to do a separate post showing our outside and inside decor.

I proceeded to eat leftovers and watch Home Alone. I've watched it several times already, so get ready for many references. And yes, that's a Home Alone picture book. It's a lifestyle.

More snacks, of course, and Hallmark movies for the rest of the day.

My mom came over later that night for pizza and to go to the tree lighting ceremony/parade downtown CL. We met Tina and Brad who were there with Tina's family, and it was fun to be together for the little parade.

I felt like I was in a Hallmark movie during the tree lighting. There were so many people there and everyone cheered when the lights when on the tree--I almost cried haha. Such a sucker for this community.

Saturday morning we got up early again to head up to Lake Geneva to see another venue. They had champagne waiting for us, so I was sold. Where do I sign?

We toured Geneva National and I'm officially obsessed.

There were a bunch of indoor spaces in addition to the ballroom we could use for whatever we want (extra cocktail hour space, place cards, favors, dessert later, etc.) and a gorgeous outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour space.

Doesn't look like much here haha, but the balcony is so pretty off the ballroom/indoor space. I've seen gorgeous photos of people using draping and string lights to make this space look so romantic.

The only slight downside is while the ballroom is pretty, it isn't totally our style. So we'd have to make a few changes decor wise to make it a little prettier, but if those windows aren't redeeming, I don't know what is.

Hopefully it can look something like this, a little more airy is all we want.

We came home and decorated our tree downstairs as well as our tree in loft upstairs.

Later on, we got ready to go to a second Thanksgiving at Sammy's aunt's house.

Sammy had to work Thanksgiving, so I know he was thrilled to have an opportunity to celebrate with part of his family Saturday night.

Where we played with lots of animals and did lots of airplanes.


When we got home, part of Sammy's groomsmen proposals had delivered. He got all his guys monogrammed yeti koozies. He's going to put their favorite beer in each one and I'm attempting to make "will you be my groomsman?" tags to hang from the neck of each beer. I think they turned out awesome.

And then Henry spent the rest of the night burning off alllllll his energy while we tried to watch The Grinch ;)

Sunday we laid around lazily which is my favorite thing on earth.

Sammy had to work again, so Henry and I had the house to ourselves which meant cozy food (aka pastina) and Hallmark movies.

But he did stop home for a visit halfway through his shift :)

I had groceries delivered because why leave the house?

We played in the snow before it started to really come down hard.

Did more napping #blessed

And proceeded to only go outside in short bursts because the wind had picked up to 25 mph and it was snowingggg. Which meant... I got to work from home on Monday because we ended up with way more snow than we thought.

Lived my absolute best on Monday. It was so nice to be able to stay home. Forever grateful for a company who is as flexible as they are awesome.

It was a really great weekend, and I'm looking forward to a good coming up! I have no plans tonight or Sunday #blessedtobealone, but I'm meeting Sammy's mom and SIL for a nails appointment and lunch tomorrow, and then my mom and I have plans to go to a craft show in the afternoon. Love getting to spend time with some of my favorite women.

Have a wonderful weekend all!

*linking up with Andrea & Della!