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!

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!