Name Change - My Experience with HitchSwitch

When the dust of the wedding and honeymoon excitement settles, real life kicks in. Now that you’re officially a newlywed, it’s time to find your new normal and tackle the daunting process of the name change. To be honest, I wasn’t always sure that I wanted to change my name. I’ve been Caralyn Rose Mirand for my entire life and career, after all! I decided to change my middle name to Mirand so I could still keep things fluid professionally and still have the same last name as my husband and potential future children. So now I’m Caralyn Mirand Koch (pronounced “cook”). It’s a personal choice what to do with your name - there is no right or wrong way to go about it. This is my experience and journey on the name change process and I’m happy to share it with you!

I discovered HitchSwitch on Instagram a few months before the wedding. I was incredibly skeptical about it but saved it to revisit after the wedding. I reached out to them and told them I’d share my experience, they gave my readers a code. Use “CARALYN” for 15% off a package of your choice.

HitchSwitch has two different packages to choose from ranging from $69 to $89. The services essentially make the process significantly easier but you still have to put in a decent amount of work because the US government still has a certain way of how the process needs to be done.

I chose the Platinum plan which includes:

  • Beginning the name change process in minutes

  • Online access to all of your paperwork

  • Receive your auto-filled paperwork in the mail

  • Pre-paid mailing envelopes

  • Free printed passport photo that you can take on your phone

  • Name Change Concierge to answer all questions

Step 1:

You submit a form directly on their website with some basic information: your current name, desired name, wedding date, your address, etc. They then send you all of the paperwork that you need in the proper order to begin the process.

Step 2:

In the mail, you receive a personalized package filled out by the HitchSwitch team with all of the basic and redundant information that you may not want to fill out over and over again (i.e Name, Date of Birth, Your new married name). Each set of documents will come with a set of easy to follow instructions and the appropriate envelope and pre-stamped for your convenience.  All of the paperwork comes with a sheet that tells you exactly what to fill out and what else you need to complete that step. The rules and process can vary state by state so be sure to pay attention to the exact order that they suggest. For example, in New York State it can be illegal to change your maiden name to your middle name unless you follow a certain order. HitchSwitch really lays it all out for you in a thoughtful, fool-proof way. The first official step to a name change is changing your social security card, which they encourage you do to in person. After that, I mailed in my passport information to be updated. I then renewed my driver’s license in person - it was quicker than mailing it in.

Step 3:

Once you complete the major things - social security card, passport, license, you can start updating your TSA Pre Check number, your credit cards, bank accounts, frequent flier accounts, car insurance, health insurance, email address (if you want- I didn’t), etc. This part was actually quite frustrating for me because every credit card and airline had a different process on how to update your name. This is when the HitchSwitch concierge came in… I sent them an email asking for the specific process on each of the store cards I had left. They sent me back these tailored PDF’s of each way to do things. This was SO helpful!

Step 4:

Bask in the glory of your new name change. You deserve it. Buy yourself something nice with your new initials on it! I sure did… here are a few things I bought with my new initials:

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Get more than one certified copy of your marriage license. In some cases, a photocopy will not suffice. You have to mail a certified copy in for your passport so if you want to speed up the process, get an extra copy so you can update your driver’s ID without having to wait for the other one to get mailed back. You can go back to the county clerk’s office (where you got your original copy) for another one. For me, it was $10 for an additional copy.

  • Don’t feel like you need to get this all done in one day. I dedicated a solid week in the beginning to doing something each day but overall the process overall took well over a month. Fact: there are still a few things I need to update. Don’t stress over it!

  • If you’re a frequent traveler, don’t forget to update your Known Traveler Number (TSA Pre-Check Number) BEFORE you book a flight in your new name. Otherwise you will NOT get Pre Check, my rookie mistake there!

Final thoughts:

The name change process is NOT easy but HitchSwitch makes it manageable. I would definitely recommend this service based on the fact that they help keep you organized and provide an easy step by step process of doing things. Considering every store, bank and airline have a different way of changing your name, HitchSwitch has all the answers on how to make this as seamless as possible!

They were kind enough to give my readers 15% off their name change package and they told me they would not let it expire! Use “CARALYN” for that discount!

Would you use a service like this? Do you have any questions? Leave them below!

10 Little White Size Inclusive Dresses For Brides

As many of us are packing away our white dresses for the season, it’s actually the ideal time to buy white. Many stores are having major markdowns on these gorgeous styles that are perfect for engagement parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, etc! Come winter, white dresses become harder to find so I thought I’d round up a bunch of my favorites for you to shop. If you are getting married early next year, now is the time to buy. I had so much fun with my bridal style, I hope you do to! Keep scrolling to shop my picks, many are on major sale. You can click on the images below and it will take you directly to the shopping page!

View this post on Instagram

Rehearsed ✔️ #bcwereinlove

A post shared by Caralyn Mirand Koch (@caralynmirand) on


SHOP ALL LITTLE WHITE DRESSES

4 Tips for Planning An Epic Bridal Shower

My friend Kristin and I met our first day of college at Clarkson University. We have been through a lot together, including planning our weddings! I had the honor of helping plan her bridal shower brunch in Sodus Bay, NY earlier in the summer. She was such a special part of my planning process, I was ecstatic to return the favor. I wouldn't call myself an expert party planner, but after going through this a few times I wanted to share a few of my tips for planning the perfect bridal shower!

tip #1: determine the venue + theme 

The shower took place in a refurbished barn on Lake Ontario. We decided to go for a floral and champagne theme. We wanted to compliment the natural elements of the space while giving it a light and airy feel! The bride loves brunch so we decided to complete the day with a mimosa bar, served with fresh fruits!

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tip #2: personalize + have fun with it! 

Aside from simple gold frames with pictures of the bride and groom in them, I wanted to incorporate a little personalize fun from For Your Party! FYP offers a wide variety of party/ paper goods for any event. I decided to go with cocktail and luncheon napkins to reflect the theme of the party, I've linked the exact ones that I customized below. 

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tip #3: stay true to the bride


It's so easy to get lost in Pinterest ideas but remember to stay true to the bride's personality and style. At the end of the day, this day should reflect her! For my shower, I didn't want guests seated at tables the entire time so I opted for a midday cocktail hour instead. My friend Kristin had a similar format with a brunch feel, complete with an DIY mimosa bar!

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tip #4: designate a photo spot

Most bridal showers I’ve been to include some sort of photo opportunity… Everyone wants either a picture with the bride or a picture of the bride opening her gifts. We decided to set up a super simple photo backdrop using white curtains and fresh eucalyptus for the bride to sit in front of while she opened her gifts. Push the gifts aside afterwards for some adorable group shots!

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Shop the post!

Feel free to click on the images below to shop them directly. 

Thank you to Kristen Mirand for capturing these images. 
Thank you to For Your Party for sponsoring the paper goods.

Do you have any other tips for planning a shower? Leave them in the comments below!

Over The Moon - Our Stay At Cocobay Resort, Antigua

While it sounds exciting, planning the trip of a lifetime can be a stressful task in top of planning a wedding. We tossed around ideas of exotic locations, touring the Amalfi Coast or sailing Santorini, but when it came down to it our love for relaxing in the warm Caribbean sun made for an easy decision.

Not quick to raise his hand for wedding related tasks, Brian volunteered to lead the search for the perfect Caribbean honeymoon spot. We knew wanted something off the beaten path but also all-inclusive. After writing checks the last six months, the last thing we wanted to was pull out our wallets daily. Unfortunately, outside of the usual spots like Cancun, Jamaica, and the Dominican, the concept of “all-inclusive” isn’t all to wide spread.

Nevertheless, the Eastern Caribbean island of Antigua has always been on our radar. Boasting 365 white sandy beaches (one for each day!) and offering some of the most beautiful resorts in the world, it quickly moved to the top of the list. The only problem was that outside of your typical Sandals resort, Antigua wasn't home to many all inclusive resorts that fit our vibe. That was until we stumbled upon Cocobay Resort! We were immediately drawn to Cocobay through their beautifully curated Instagram account. Without hesitation we reached out and booked a 10 day trip in one of their Premium Waterfront Suites.

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We were lucky enough to be able to leave for our honeymoon two days after our wedding. After a quick stop in NYC we were off on a quick four hour direct flight to Antigua. Upon arrival, the online images of Cocobay’s immediately came to life. With its colorful collection of pastel cottages, white sandy beaches, and turquoise water we immediately fell in love with our surroundings.

Upon entering our Premium Waterfront Suite we were instantly relaxed by its spacious interior and one of the best oceanfront views either of us have ever seen. The view was complemented by the cottage private balcony fully equipped with a hammock, daybed, and our very own private plunge pool. Being able to enjoy coffee and cocktails in this private and intimate setting was a highlight of our trip!

Cocobay offered two main swimming pools along with a main bar/clubhouse and food was served at their restaurant, Rafters. Being veterans of the all inclusive life we were a bit skeptical of only having one restaurant to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, however Cocobay exceeded our expectations. We looked forward to the dinner menu daily and frequently indulged in menu items such as beef tenderloin and spiny lobster.  There were also plenty of food options off the resort that were easily accessible via hotel arranged transportation. Luckily for Cocobay guests, the grounds also is home to Sheer Rocks, voted the #1 restaurant in the Caribbean in 2018. We frequently visited Sheer Rocks for cocktails and one night for dinner for a culinary experience we will sure never forget.

 Our View from the pool, stairs to Sheer rocks on the left

Our View from the pool, stairs to Sheer rocks on the left

Where Cocobay really won us over though was through their warm and welcoming staff. From the moment we arrived and we were personally greeted by hotel manager O’Neil Richards, we felt the staff’s personal dedication to making sure our trip was a trip of a lifetime, and they certainly succeeded!

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While we are sad that the wedding journey has come to an end, we are happy we can look back on not only the wedding, but also our honeymoon with no regrets. Thanks to Cocobay we were able to unwind and recharge -together-  in one of the most picturesque settings on earth. If you are looking to do the same I recommend checking them out. We surely hope to return one day!

Questions about planning a honeymoon, anniversary trip, or couples getaway? Leave them below!

First Glimpse at Our Wedding & What's to Come!

Happy #WeddingWednesday from the other side! Now that our wedding has come and gone, we're so excited to be going through our photos and video from our special day. Brian and I are back to work, getting the hang of married life. We sincerely appreciate everyone's well wishes and kind words! For everyone who has asked, married life is going well! It's the same... but different. :)

Since so many of you have been asking to get a little teaser of what our wedding day looked like, our videographers, Sarah + Ryan of Two Palm Films just delivered this little teaser from the wedding day and we couldn't be more excited to see the full thing! Our full length video will be shared through my partnership with Love Stories TV in the coming months. 

Yesterday on my IG stories I asked what you wanted to know specifically about the wedding. This was extremely helpful and enlightening because now I will be sharing things that you actually want to see! I've got a Google Doc saved of all of the questions that I will be answering over the next month, but here are a few:

  • all about bridesmaids: how I asked, what they wore, what they were gifted
  • decor: table scape, florals, how we incorporated our crest
  • what I did for something new, something old, something borrowed and blue
  • dress details: specifically undergarments and tailoring
  • our ceremony music and our first dance song
  • our dessert table: a more in depth look at our custom made cookies with our dog Walter painted on there & glitter donuts!
  • the food: you're after my own heart, loved how many requests we got about this!
  • the day overall: if there were any glitches, hardest part about planning, etc.
  • our incredible vendors, specifically Buffalo based

Be sure to leave a comment here or on my IG if there is anything I might've missed.
Our wedding photos will also be shared on Martha Stewart Weddings, so stay tuned for that as well! 

What do you think?! Would love to hear your thoughts!

Vendors:

Design + coordination: KCYouThere
Photographers: Colin Gordon Photography
Video: Two Palm Films
Florals: Buds and Blooms 716
Dress: Martina Liana #685 from Wedding Atelier
Veil + jewels: Sara Gabriel
Groom suit: custom Joseph Abboud tux from Men's Wearhouse
Wedding bands: Jared the Galleria of Jewelry
Bridesmaids dresses: Jenny Yoo
Bridesmaids jewelry: Sorrelli
Bridal makeup: Rosa Barney
Bridal hair & bridesmaids hair/makeup: Groom Service
Groomsmen suits: custom Joseph Abboud tux from Men's Wearhouse
Groomsmen accessories: The Tie Bar
Paper goods: For Your Party
Invitations: Minted
Dessert table: B Sweet Designs
Signage: Sweet Carolina Collective
Robes: Natori
Greenery backdrop: Buffalo Event Essentials
Neon sign: Echo Neon Studio
Photo booth: Ayers Photography
Linens: Blvd Wedding Concepts
Flatware: McCarthy Events
Table numbers: Rust Belt Love
Custom wedding crest: By Brittany Branson

3 Things You Need To Know For Creating The Best Wedding Registry

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If you've been following my wedding journey, you know that I really struggled with my wedding registry. Brian and I are more of a modern couple, living together for a few years before we decided to tie the knot. When it came to creating our own wedding registries, I was lost. We definitely needed some upgrades on things but we didn't need all of the typical stuff that stores and other online guides were suggesting.  As if wedding planning isn't enough to do, we decided it was also a great time to update our home... Not sure if we're crazy or sane but we wanted to take this time to update our home to reflect this new chapter in our life. That's when we discovered Wayfair and then soon after that, Wayfair Registry! I've teamed up with Wayfair to compile a few helpful hints when it comes to creating a registry of your own. 

Make the registry work for your lifestyle

If you haven't already heard of Wayfair, it is one of the largest online destinations for the home. As Brian and I were in the process of updating our home, we loved purchasing off of Wayfair but didn't realize it offered such a seamless registry process.  Wayfair Registry makes it easier than ever for couples to conveniently register for everything home, all in one place, by selecting from more than 10 million products across all styles, including outdoor, kitchen, bed and bath, living room and home renovation. This was extremely valuable to Brian & I because we needed random things like lamps, dresser drawers and patio cushions... not something you'd typically think of as a registry item but stuff we truly needed.

Do not be scared to register for big ticket items

Since we needed bigger items, it can sometimes feel awkward to register for those things because of the higher price point. Wayfair Registry offers a “group gifting” option, where guests can contribute a dollar amount to big-ticket items like sofas, large appliances, or home renovation needs like lighting fixtures, plumbing materials and more. Fret no more!

Be sure to have fun with it! Make it a date night.

The in-store registration process was really overwhelming for my beloved groom so it was a total luxury that we were able to create our Wayfair Registry from the comfort of our own home! We opened a bottle of wine, snuggled up on the couch and were able to browse their extensive selection of items that we could both agree on!

A few other reasons we love Wayfair:

  • Wayfair Registry offers free shipping on all orders shipped directly to the couple, the convenience of white glove delivery for large items, an extended 90-day return policy, access to dedicated registry specialists who offer personalized support and guidance, and more.
  • Wayfair Registry serves as a hub for couples, letting them personalize their page by uploading photos, sharing notes with guests and tagging their favorite finds.
  • It's easy. It's painless... what more could you want?

Here a few of our favorite registry items:

To get started with your own registry process, click here!

Thank you to Wayfair and Wayfair Registry for collaborating with me on this post! All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Save The Date: Behind the Making of our Wedding Crest with Brittany Branson

Happy Wedding Wednesday, everybody! *GIVEAWAY ALERT* Keep reading to find out! Now that my guests have had plenty of time to receive their save the date's from us, I've decided to share this very special creation with you. Save the dates have a very unfortunate acronym so I'm going to keep spelling out 'save the date' for you. ;) Typically, you'll see save the date cards with photos of couples on them. In my line of work,  I often feel that my family and friends get sick of seeing pictures of me- because I certainly get sick of looking at myself! I also knew I wouldn't be able to commit to one picture of us to live on someone's fridge for 6 months! Therefore, I was inspired to shake things up a bit with our save the date's. Cue Brittany Branson.

I came across Brittany's Instagram in the fall and I was immediately attracted to her bubbly personality and stunning designs. My wedding planner, Karina Lopez connected the two of us and decided to create a custom wedding crest, also known as a watercolor heirloom crest. Brittany thrives o working with couples who aren't afraid to get creative! In that, she loves using their love story or unique aspects of their personality as her inspiration for creating their custom wedding art.

After some careful thought and research, Brian and I pulled together all of the things that embodied our relationship. These ideas were then sent over to Brittany and we gave her creative reign to make something special. And boy, did she deliver! 

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Our requests to Brittany were fairly simple. We wanted our crest to represent the aspects of our relationship but in a tasteful way. Here are the things that we brainstormed about our relationship that we wanted embodied within our crest:

-Downtown Buffalo cityscape // where we first met and fell in love
-Palm tree leaves // we love the beach & traveling to warmer climates
-Walter, our dog, in a bowtie  // we wanted him represented in a way that wasn't overkill, I think she did so well with this concept! 
-A yellow umbrella // How I Met Your Mother reference - one of our favorite shows
-Hydrangeas & white roses // my favorite flowers
-Established in 2018 // for the obvious reason of getting married in June 2018!

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It's simple, thoughtful and yet so meaningful to Brian and I. I know we'll be able to use this crest for years to come. Spoiler alert: I believe we're going to use the crest on our custom stamps for our formal wedding invitations. We also can add it to little details at our wedding as well as frame it in our home for years to come. We had the crest implemented into a simple design on Minted and printed it on a thick card stock through them!

I'm currently running a giveaway on my instagram account to receive your very own custom watercolor heirloom crest! You don't have be engaged to enter to win, this crest could be special for any family at any phase of life. In order to win you must:

1. Follow @CaralynMirand & @ByBrittanyBranson on Instagram

2. Subscribe to CaralynMirand.com by typing in your email (on the sidebar of the blog page on your desktop or on the bottom of this page if you’re on your phone) 

3. Comment on my instagram post why having a custom family crest would be special to you

4. For bonus entries: tag any friends including bride to be's who'd love to enter

Giveaway will run Wednesday, March 14th at 12:00pm EST until Saturday, March 17th at 12:00pm EST. Must be following both of us to enter, subscribed to my website and commented on my photo. No purchase necessary! Winner will be chosen by a random name generator. 

 

What do you think of my crest/ save the date?! Leave your reply below. 
Special thank you to Brittany Branson and Minted for collaborating with me on this post!

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Wedding Wednesday: The Perfect LWD with David's Bridal!

As I’ve been deep in the wedding planning process,  I’ve been on the hunt for EVERYTHING LWD (Little White Dress) for pre-wedding festivities. I’ve searched high and low and I haven’t been able to find many options that were high quality, unique, affordable and SIZE INCLUSIVE! This is why I’m so excited to partner up with David’s Bridal to share the little white dresses they have to offer for events surrounding the wedding. Not to mention, I am into their accessories too. They were kind enough to send my favorite dress from their collection to see how I’d style it for my upcoming wedding events.

I will link all of my outfit details in this post so you can shop directly from this page by clicking the text in bold or the product images!

 Click to shop the   dress ,    purse   and   earrings  ! 

Click to shop the dress, purse and earrings

David’s Bridal is an incredible destination for casual, on trend styles at an affordable price! I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of styles and sizes for all the events surrounding the wedding: whether it’s for an engagement party or photos, bachelorette party, bridal shower, rehearsal, honeymoon, celebrating your first anniversary - David’s Bridal offers so many options at an incredible value for every body type.

Whether you’re a bride to be or not, white dresses will always be timeless! I know I'll be wearing my LWD's long after my wedding. Switch up your accessories to keep the look fresh. You can throw on a leather or denim jacket and re-wear this dress over and over!

Here are a few other LWD’s I’m loving:

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Another reason I’m loving David’s Bridal are their accessories! They’re on trend and extremely affordable. Here is the necklace I’m wearing above as well as a few extra that I’m loving:

For anyone looking for little white dresses, definitely check out David’s Bridal for all of your bridal needs and beyond. To find a store in your area, click here. I was really impressed by their latest offerings and I think you will be too! They're affordable, great quality and size inclusive- three things that go a long way around here.   

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All photos by Ryan Kell

This post is sponsored by David’s Bridal but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wedding Wednesday: Our 6 Month Countdown

I seriously cannot believe we're more than halfway to my wedding- Brian & I got engaged in June 2017 and we're getting married in June 2018! Time has been flying by- being engaged is fun but planning a wedding is a whole different ball game. Up until this point, the wedding day has felt like a distant thought but now that the new year is here, it's time to kick wedding planning mode into high gear.  Yesterday on my Instagram and Instagram Story, I asked if you were interested in a more consistent #WeddingWednesday series! It seems like you are so I am so excited to give you some updates! For anyone who has never planned a wedding before or for anyone just curious about the planning process, here's where we're at 6 months out! I also wanted to give a shameless plug to all of my incredible vendors that I've had the privilege of working with. 

✔️Location & Date: Buffalo, NY - June 29, 2018

This was one of the first things we needed to figure out in order to set a date! We toured a few places and decided on a location and date. It will be a one stop shop, so ceremony & reception all in one place! For privacy purposes, I'd like to keep the location on the down low until after the wedding. But I cannot wait to share with you!

✔️Photographer: Colin Gordon Photography

This was one of the easiest decisions that Brian & I made, for any Buffalo brides out there looking for a photographer be sure to check out Colin and the blog post that I did on working with him!

✔️Florist: Buds & Blooms Floral Studio

My girl Delaney over at Buds & Blooms is seriously THE BEST and easiest to work with! I cannot wait to see our vision come to life

✔️Wedding Planner: KC You There

Karina has been incredible to work with! I feel incredibly grateful and lucky that we are able to work with a wedding planner to make sure everything goes smoothly. Check out the post I did on why you need to hire a wedding planner

✔️Desserts: B Sweet Designs

Marisa at B Sweet Designs is a visionary! I've never met anyone so passionate and good at desserts! I'm so excited to see what she creates for our wedding. 

 sneak peak of some florals and colors we're deciding on! 

sneak peak of some florals and colors we're deciding on! 

Other things we've been able to cross off the list:

✔️Selected Our Bridal Party

✔️Got The Dress!

✔️ Booked our music

✔️Created a wedding website

✔️Created first few drafts of guest list

✔️Set up our gift registry

✔️Selected the menu at our food tasting

✔️Created our wedding website with guest information

✔️Booked hair & makeup

✔️Set up guest hotel accommodations

✔️Figured out theme/ decor

✔️Set a bridal shower date

This may seem like we have a lot done but when it comes to wedding planning, there's always SO MUCH more to do! Here's what we'll be working on within the next few months and I will definitely be able to share more with you as I do it:

🔲 Mail our Save The Date's

🔲 Cake tasting

🔲 Decide on bridal party attire

🔲 Rehearsal Dinner location

🔲 Wedding day transportation

🔲 Start planning honeymoon

🔲 Wedding rings

To any fellow brides to be out there, my biggest token of advice right now is to not take those typical "wedding schedule trackers" too seriously. They will give you heart palpitations and stress you out. Instead, use them as a rough guideline of things you'll need to do but don't stress about them too much. I've been doing my best to be positive about everything, but I won't lie- it's definitely overwhelming and stressful at times. You just have to keep reminding yourself that ideally you'll only do this once so try to enjoy it as much as possible. At the end of the day, it's about marrying your best friend and that's all that matters to me!

Many of you voted that you loved and wanted to see more wedding content, is this the kind of stuff you want to see? If not, leave some suggestions below in the comments! 

Caralyn & Martha: A New Friendship Breaking Boundaries

If you haven't already heard, I've had the privilege of partnering up with Martha Stewart Weddings to share my wedding journey! It's been a few weeks since the first Martha Stewart Weddings post has gone live but it's extremely important for me to talk to you, my people, about why this partnership is so important to not only me, but the plus size community.

 Photo by Jenny Fu

Photo by Jenny Fu

When I first started working on this back in October, it didn't feel real. I couldn't believe that they agreed to have me on board as a monthly contributor! I still have a hard time processing that I'm getting married, it just all feels so surreal sometimes. It's almost like an out-of-body experience– like I'm watching someone else's life unfold! Nonetheless, I do not take this opportunity lightly. Not only is it a chance to share my wedding journey, but it's a chance for a plus-size/ curvy / full-figured / whatever you want to call me, woman to bridge the gap. My question to you: when's the last time you saw a curvy bride publicized in any sort of mainstream media? To be honest, I can count on two fingers over the last 5 years. 

My dream for this project is to be a plus size bridal warrior, connecting the gap between the straight (smaller) size and plus size bridal industry. When I first signed on with them, I selfishly wanted to create content that was strictly for the plus size bride- because as a new bride-to-be, none of the content out there was aimed at me. However, I quickly learned as I began writing that the trials and tribulations of being a bride are not exclusive to a size or body type. Sure, we may have different issues on different sides of the spectrum but I think we can all agree that we're not immune to being self-conscious about our bodies. I also don't think being exclusive ever really gets you ahead, so that's why I've decided to focus on SIZE INCLUSIVITY. 

As a full size 14, I'm placed right in the middle when it comes to women's sizing. I represent the AVERAGE size woman in America. I'm just at the beginning of the plus size range, which can be a challenge since it's hard to find clothing at plus size stores that fit me and hard to find clothes in straight size stores. But what doesn't hurt you, only makes you stronger, and I think this gives me a great perspective when it comes to discussing size inclusivity. I've felt the good and bad from both sides.  And for this reason, I'm excited to continue this journey with Martha Stewart Weddings and serve as the ambassador for all women out there who have dealt with shopping  for wedding dresses! I appreciate all of the support during this exciting time!

Special thanks to my wedding planner, Karina Lopez from KC You There for making this possible. And shout out to my future groom for not only making me a future bride but also believing in this process of documenting our wedding journey! 

 Photo by Jenny Fu

Photo by Jenny Fu

To shop my and Karina's outfit, shop above by clicking on the image!

Thanks to Jenny Fu for all of the photos! 

Bridal Fashion Week: Exclusive Look at Paloma Blanca

Calling all brides to be! Or anyone who loves bridal gowns- this one is for you! I'm excited to share a behind the scenes look at my trip to Bridal Fashion Week in partnership with Paloma Blanca. This was my first time being involved with Bridal Fashion Week and it was incredible! Planning my own wedding has ignited a true passion around all things bridal- especially dresses. I just LOVE looking at how many different versions of white gowns there are. That's why I've teamed up with BRIDES Magazine to show you a sneak peek of Paloma Blanca's Spring 2018 collection. Dress shown below is style #4792.

Paloma Blanca has been a recognized and trusted name in the Bridal Industry since 1937. As the success of their company has grown, their commitment to brides and retailers has far exceeded industry standards. Paloma Blanca takes great pride and care in the design and creation of each individual gown from their own manufacturing facility in Toronto, Canada. Basically our neighbor, fellow Buffalo girls!

I had the opportunity to check out some of their dresses that they were debuting exclusively at Bridal Fashion Week, I chose three of my favorites to show you all! Be sure to visit their site if you are interested in making an appointment with them. They will without a doubt set you up with an incredible dress! 

Dress #1: 4787

I just love the silhouette on the one below. It has a perfect mix of simplicity and detail. I have always found myself gravitating towards a plunging V neckline, its perfect balance of sophisticated and sexy. The nude mesh paneling underneath the lace gives a hint of modesty while still keeping the dress structured. The drop band at the waistline is extremely flattering for those ladies with a pronounced lower waist like I do!

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Dress #2: 4784

This dress immediately caught my eye as soon as I arrived. I haven't seen anything like this, I believe they call this a modern lace. It just has a perfect balance of sweet, playful and sophisticated. This dress actually makes me envision this bride running through a field of green! It's just so whimsical and fun, perfect for an outdoor wedding. I also adore the matching flower lace veil. Its simplicity is a perfect balance to the dress.

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Dress #3: 4795

That racerback though! I just love the uniqueness of this one- it's sporty, girly and chic! If you think about it, the back of your dress is what people see for the first hour of its public existence at your ceremony. Why not make a statement in this eyelash lace back? From the beautiful lace to the beaded belt, this one is such a showstopper. 

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Paloma Blanca truly has something for every bride! Whether you're into lace, florals or beading- they've done a great job at giving their customers a little bit of everything. I was extremely impressed with the intricate detailing on each gown. To try on your very own Paloma Blanca gown, check out the Bridal Shop Locator here!  I had an incredible time viewing the Spring 2018 collection. Thank you to Brides Magazine for making this possible! To any of my upcoming brides, if you haven't bought your dress yet- you should consider a Paloma Blanca! 

This post was sponsored by Paloma Blanca and BRIDES Magazine.
All thoughts, opinions and experiences are my own. 

Wedding Wednesday: Why Weddings Are More Than Dresses

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved going to weddings. As a three-time flower girl, I considered myself a professional. I'd often repurpose my flower girl dresses into halloween costumes because I loved them so much. The romantic in me has always gotten caught up in the magic of the day, seeing the love that the couple shares. Weddings are special because they're all different. Each one is an opportunity to get to know the couple better and for the couple to express themselves.

Last weekend, I had the honor of attending one of my best college friend's wedding. Courtney and Allen had their wedding ceremony at the top of Gunstock Mountain Resort, a perfect location for these adventurous souls. Since they have a passion for the great outdoors, I couldn't imagine a better location for them to exchange their vows! To get to the ceremony we had to take a twenty minute chair lift ride- a first for me. Fun fact: I've never been skiing! The ride up was beautiful.

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Brian and I rode up with my college friend, Kristin and her fiance, Sean. The shoe lover in me had to take a shoe shot on the way up!

Another reason why I love weddings is because it's a time for the guests to express themselves too. As this wedding was full of new experiences (going to a ski resort, taking a chairlift....) I took this as an opportunity to step out of my fashion comfort zone and try something I've never worn before, a jumpsuit!

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Okay, this is a major shout out to any ladies out there who have been interested in trying the jumpsuit trend. I was a little unsure if it was going to look good on me. The key to finding the perfect jumpsuit is fit and fabric. This Vince Camuto jumpsuit was perfect because it hit my waist at the right spot and it had a lot of stretch.  It felt like I was wearing sweatpants- sophisticated sweatpants. This came in clutch on the dance floor!

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Weddings are especially fun for Brian and I, now that we're in the thick of planning one ourselves. Although I don't think we need to match when we attend weddings, I think it's fun to coordinate. My red shoes (only $40) & red lip coordinated well with Brian's red tie. I also received endless compliments on my BaubleBar necklace

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What is your favorite part about weddings? Would you every try this jumpsuit trend? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave them in the comments below!

7 Reasons Why You Need A Wedding Planner


If you're anything like me, the initial engagement jitters quickly wore off and turned into panic. I like to think of myself as a "big picture" person, not excelling at the little details. How am I supposed to plan the most epic day of my life? Where do I start? How do I turn my multiple Pinterest boards into reality? Cue the role of a wedding planner & designer.

I've teamed up with Karina from KC You There and her team, for my wedding planning process and I wouldn't have it any other way. Their detailed, head-on approach gives me an incredible sense of ease. Karina is helping me in all aspects related to design for the wedding. This includes color scheme and all aesthetics like save the dates, our wedding website, invitations, tablescapes and everything in between. These are all things that I sincerely appreciate - yet do not excel at creating them.  As soon as I signed on with Karina, this big beast of an event seemed like an easy, doable task.

That's why I've created a list on reasons why you too should consider hiring a wedding planner and/or designer for your big day.

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  1. Their priority & focus is executing your vision. Many wedding venues churn out multiple weddings per weekend and can easily lose focus on the individuals getting married. The wedding designer/ planner will fight for you and even advocate for you for your vendors. They're there to make sure that this is YOUR wedding, personalized to your expectations and vision.
  2. They are detail oriented and will help with the minor details of major things. If they're not, they probably should consider another industry... For example, nothing intimidates me more than our save the dates. Those bad boys are ideally going to be hanging on peoples' fridges for months. This includes dealing with fonts, colors, verbiage... things that are important but overwhelming when there are thousands of combinations. KC You There handles all of that, presents me with several of their best options, while I have the final ok. One thing we've especially loved is the custom master doc they created for Brian and I to stay incredibly organized and budget conscious! We're able to keep track of everything like vendor contacts, payment due dates, guest list and even music selections!
  3. They are expert problem solvers and brainstormers. Luckily, we've only had minor bumps along the journey so far but Karina is constantly coming up with solutions to any problem that may come our way. Having someone like this on your behalf is incredibly comforting, knowing that no matter what happens - it will be ok!
  4. They allow you to have a life outside of planning a wedding. After the initial excitement of being engaged wore off, Brian and I often bickered about the little details involving the planning process. It can easily consume you. Ever since we hired KC You There, we've been able to enjoy being an engaged couple and not stress the little stuff because we know they've got it covered.
  5. Wedding designers/planners can be more cost effective in the long run. They plan and design weddings for a living. This is their passion and their livelihood. From start to finish, they can help you stay within your budget. They know where you need to spend and where you need to save, or how you can cut corners without sacrificing results. After all, Pinterest ideas can turn into costly DIYs!       
  6. They're a non-biased second opinion that will be upfront with you. One of my favorite things about Karina is that she's not afraid to tell me her opinion. She's not afraid or tiptoeing around my feelings either, whereas a family member would be less likely to. I'd rather know if my ideas are completely irrational or not!
  7. Above all, it is peace of mind. Wedding planning should be ENJOYABLE, not stressful. Although its inevitable that there may be stressful moments, having a wedding planner will ease your mind knowing that in the end, you'll have a team to take on the work while you enjoy every moment of that day (or weekend)!

Have you ever considered hiring a wedding planner and/or designer? I'd love to hear from you about your experience.

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