Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Morning of My Wedding Day

I'm writing this fresh off the wedding train! I wanted all of my feelings and recollections to be as close to the wedding day as possible. While I waited several months for the photos to post this, the writing is very much real and raw in my newlywed voice. I hope you enjoy!

 Pale morning light slips through the shutters of the bedroom. My sister is fast asleep next to me. I check the clock. 

Damn, it's 6AM.

There's no way I'm going back to sleep. It's my wedding day. 

A culmination of emotions stir beneath the surface, but outwardly I'm calm and placid.

OK, I coach myself in an encouraging inner monologue, drink some water. Throughout the morning I stumble through a shortened morning routine. I slip some eye pads on to help with the puffiness that set in over night. The bridesmaids, wedding planner, her darling assistant, and the hair and makeup team will all be here within minutes.

Deep breaths. It's only the most important day of your life, no big deal. 

Everyone arrives at what feels like all at once. The makeup artist is asking where she can set up and my bridesmaids are ooing and awing over my morning attire like the sweethearts that they are. They've even brought me a steaming cup of Starbucks matcha!

I've donned a satin blush slip for the morning. But it's the gauzy, blush, feather adorned dressing gown gliding OVER the slip that's the real star of this morning's attire. I found it online when searching for a more typical white and lace getting ready robe for my wedding day. 

The sheer size of it and Scarlett O'Hare vibes had me in a trance. I had to have it. 

It's like something an old Hollywood movie star would wear. When else can one wear something so ostentatious and wildly extreme? 

To be honest, I could hardly breathe until my hair and makeup was done. I wasn't present. I was stressed, even clutching a strawberry gilded mimosa. There was rain in the forecast and while it would most likely end before the ceremony, there were like a gazillion gorgeous cream and pale blush roses that had to be meticulously arranged into our wedding alter focal point by the flower genius Southern Posies.

The rain would surely knock the blooms down from the original wedding arch we had selected. And the delicate draping would be soaked. 

Ceremony Plan B it was. 

Oh, but it wasn't that simple. My mastermind team of Bridesmaids offered amazing solutions to setting up in the rain, but it was ultimately my wizened wedding planner Becky who gave me the most impactful advice. 

With certainty and love in her piercing blue eyes, she told me she recommended Plan B for our wedding ceremony. That meant inside. 

The wedding arch and sunlit exchange of vows all evaporated in an instant and I felt tears prick my freshly mascara applied eyes. 

But somehow, I managed to roll with it. And I'm so glad I did. Getting married inside turned out to be the best decision ever. You'll see why soon...

I think in moments as big as a wedding we humans feel the magnitude of the day and rally to move forward in any way possible. With the help of Becky's guidance, and the reassurance and encouragement of my bridesmaids I was able to pivot on plans that had been set in stone for almost a year. And I was able to do it with grace.

Err...mostly grace.

I think that's one of my favorite lessons from being a bride. Life brings storms, but it's the ability to put your chin up, smile, and stride through them that makes the challenges not so challenging, and maybe even blessings in disguise.

Cheers to 5 days as Mrs. Toro! More to come with our FIRST LOOK, CEREMONY, AND RECEPTION PHOTOS! I can't wait to show you! 


Hair and Makeup: Raww Beauty
Florals: Southern Posies
Dress: The White Room
Wedding Panner: Becky's Brides
Photography: Danielle McBrayer
Videography: The Film Poets
Stationary: Four Things Paper

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Blogger's Guide to New York at Christmas Time Part, 3

I hope everyone had an AMAZING Christmas and *sparkling* New Year's Eve.

I took a little breather during the holidays and in turn, my blog took a bit of a cat nap ;)

But I'm back with a fury, fingers flying about my keyboard, and filled with inspiration for the coming year! Let's dive right into the final installation of my New York at Christmas Time blog series.

Danielle and I knew we wanted to take some pictures at an ice skating rink in New York. So iconic! There are several to choose from, and you really can't go wrong.

We settled on Bryant Park because of the adorable, bustling Winter Village that accompanies this city-centric rink during the holidays.

We were able to purchase some of THE best hot chocolate at one of the village stalls. It came piping hot out of an old-time brass basin and wonderfully took the chill from our bones post skating.

One of the highlights of our trip to Bryant Park was getting to meet up with Taelyr Robinson! She's an adorable blogger, model, and contestant for Miss USA.

We had connected over Instagram and I was so thrilled that she was free to meet up and shoot with us during our stint in the city. While both of our skating skills were somewhat lacking, our smiles and laughter were abundant.

After we downed the remnants of our hot chocolate we all hopped in an Uber together and headed to the MET.

Initially I was excited about capturing Gossip Girl-esque photos on the STEPS to the MET, but once we entered the museum, I was completely transformed.

The amount of history and beauty this museum encompasses seriously pierced something in my soul. It is A MUST SEE if visiting New York.

Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes, because you can easily spend several hours there.

Each painting and sculpture echoed with stories begging to be told. It was one of the most magical experiences ever.

Danielle particularly enjoyed our visit to the MET, being a bit of an art buff. She wowed Taelyr and myself with context on many of the more famous pieces, including details like the era, influence, and techniques used.

And she wore a red beret around the city that day, which was just plain adorable.


If you go with a local New Yorker you can get in with a donation (of any amount!) and forgo paying the designated ticket prices. Just make sure they have their I.D.


Spaghetti Incident

Incredibly cozy, run by true Italians, and DELISH.


Staying at an airbnb and have check in/check out times that leave you lugging your, well, luggage?

Try one of the dozens of hidden luggage holds sprinkled throughout the city!

Thanks to Danielle's travel-savvy dad, we were able to learn about these nifty stowage spots.

Ours was disguised as a falafel shop on the outside, but secretly stowed luggage in the back. You register online and provide them with your confirmation once you arrive, bags in tow.

Then you take a ticket that correlates with your bags and go about your touristing!

While I was skeptical, it was 100% legit!

We used Vertoe.

And they actually sold falafels. Still confused about this.

New York was such a dream, it is truly one of my favorite cities. Let me know if there are any other New York related travel questions you might have! Leave a comment below :)

Until next time,


Gossip Girl.

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Blogger's Guide to New York at Christmas Time, Part 2

The Christmas magic was in full swing by day 3 of our trip to New York. Danielle and I both felt so drawn to the energy of the city.

Dyker Heights

The night before we took a bit of a trek out to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, an affluential neighborhood where the most amazing Christmas light display takes place every year and has been coined "The undisputed capital of Christmas pageantry". 

These homes are unreal in their commitment to conjuring Christmas magic. The rest of the world has picked up on this seemingly local-known attraction and we found food trucks on several street corners selling to light-gazers, and plenty of fellow tourists to join us on our walk. 

The neighborhood light display dates back to the 1980's and seems to grow more and more extravagant by the year. 

This makes for a truly special night and it's so fun if you're visiting New York during Christmas time! Just wear layers and opt for a cup of hot chocolate from the local food vendors parked along the street. 

It really helps take away the chill :)

We felt so full of the holiday spirit by the morning of our 3rd day.

Every coffee shop was a cozy oasis waiting to be discovered, every street corner a prior movie set location. The very sidewalks we tread upon were once walked by a multitude of artists, celebrities, and innovators. We were in a city of dreams.

Tea at The Plaza

So naturally we had to make our way to one of the dreamiest locations in all of New York, The Plaza Hotel.

Iconic is an understatement. 

We made reservations for their famous tea in the Palm Court. I highly, highly, recommend reservations if you're interested in this time-honored tradition. To be allowed access into the hotel, you either need to be a guest, or have a reservation. They're serious about privacy.

At 1:30pm on a Wednesday, the Palm Court inside the Plaza was buzzing with tourists and locals alike. 

We had arrived in New York just in time for their special Holiday Tea. $20 more than their regular afternoon tea, this holiday themed tea offers gingerbread man shaped desserts and Christmas-themed morsels, in addition to the regular assortment of scrumptious sandwiches and warm baked goods.  

Visually, it was a masterpiece, but I don't know if it was worth the extra $20 they attach to the seasonal tea. 

Danielle and I each had our own pot of tea and we took turns trying the other person's. I went for a light, melon citrus blend while Danielle opted for a decadent caramel tea (hers was better!). We shared the three tiers of goodies and, my goodness, we were full by the end of it! 3 people can easily share one of these spherical arrays of gastronomic joy. 

After milling around in the underground shopping mall and food court of the Plaza (Danielle had to see the famous Eloise store, which was darling!), we made our way across the street to the park.

Central Park

Central Park is just...


It's hard to put into words, but I'll try. The park is a wonderful green space right in the middle of some of the most congested parts of the city. There are hills and rock formations and you truly forget you're in a big city.

People are out walking their dogs, selling art, and taking in the beauty around them. There's also a skating rink with the most beautiful views of the city. I'd say it's the most scenic of the rinks in the city, with better views than Rockefeller and Bryant Park's ice skating rinks. 

With Danielle's artful direction we were able to shoot some of my most favorite photos to date!

It was very, very cold when we took these pictures, so I alternated taking some with my coat on and off. I also had TWO pairs of fleece-lined leggings under my skirt and a black thermal under my red turtleneck. 

Staying Warm, While Still Looking Cute

A major key in staying warm in New York (or any cold weather place) is layers. You don't have to walk out of your hotel or airbnb looking like a lumpy sausage though! Think layers like a camisole and a long sleeve shirt UNDER your top layer, this can make a big difference. I did this every. single. day. in New York and rarely felt too cold to enjoy myself. 

Also, hats really do keep your head insulated and hold the warmth in.

Don't skip out on gloves, it's not worth it. Your extremities are the first to go numb in the cold. 

Remember, you can always take your coat off for a quick picture, and once inside you'll be able to show off any outfit you've put together and many places have complimentary coat check. 

I'm so excited for the next blog post about New York at Christmas time! Get ready for museum admission tips, luggage stowage secrets, and more food and coffee recs.

Missed part 1? No worries, read it here


(until this series is over)

Gossip Girl

All photos by Danielle McBrayer.

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