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!

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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.