Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Blogger's Guide to New York At Christmas Time


The streets are aglow with Christmas lights, the chill in the air makes you draw your coat closer around you, and the holiday spirit is literally palpable on the streets of New York during Christmas time.

The nights seem so much BRIGHTER and every bar and restaurant looks like a movie scene with their twinkling holiday decor and frosted glass windows.

It was the perfect place to officially turn 30 years old on planet earth. Bringing my friend and talented photographer Danielle along was icing on the cake!

The night we landed we grabbed apps at Dirty French and then braved the cold and headed straight to Rockefeller Center for all the Home Alone 2 nostalgia and Christmas tree pics.



We arrived about 30 minutes until closing and the crowds were minimal. It was the perfect time to snap a few shots of the infamous Rockefeller Christmas tree in all her glory :)





The next day we nibbled on peanut butter and toast in the morning light (purchased from the grocery store on the corner the night before) and then navigated the subway to Brooklyn Bridge. Well, I should say DANIELLE navigated the subway. She was pretty much the trailblazer for every place we went to in NY, and for that I'm very grateful.






I was super excited to rock this plaid coat, the colors really popped against the grey skies and steely makeup of the bridge and cityscape. 

Living in San Diego, it's rare I get to don a heavy coat, so as silly as it seems, this aspect really added to the magic and took me back to my days as a midwest girl. 

The red beret I've had since college, but I found a similar one here

It was such a fun addition to the outfit. 


The Brooklyn Bridge offers sweeping views of the city (especially when coming from the Brooklyn side). The walk is actually much prettier heading from Brooklyn TO Manhattan, the opposite of what we did.




After a frigid hour or so on the bridge we took an Uber deeper into Brooklyn to grab coffee and pastries at the most quaint bakery ever. The place was so full of charm and it felt like a locals only kind of place, a true escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

I opted for a lemon tart that was bursting with flavor and Danielle and I sat for some time in the bakery, enjoying the warmth and ambiance.



The wind chill was bitter cold, but these pictures truly warm my heart.

It was an amazing first two days in the city. We did a TON of walking, which made up for the TON of calories we consumed as well ;)

MUCH more to come,

xoxo,  Gossip Girl


Shop the post:




All photos are by Danielle McBrayer.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Interview with a Wedding Planner, Why You 100% Need One




Wedding planners are a key player in the most important day of a couple's life. 

They orchestrate beauty from chaos, bringing all the ideas from the past months (or years, if you've been planning since you were 5 like me), numerous vendors, and intricate plans to life. If you think planning a wedding is simple, you're surely mistaken.

Sitting here three weeks post my walk down the aisle, I can't help but reminisce back to that enchanting day. But it's not the flower adorned champagne glasses or my vows that I'm thinking back on. It's Becky, my wedding planner! 

Yes, I may have developed a bit of a girl crush.

If I had one recommendation for anyone planning a wedding, it's GET A PLANNER. 

Like for real, for real. 

How could I not share this wonderful human with boat loads of knowledge with you guys? I knew from the start that I had to ask Becky to be on the blog. 




Meet Becky! Isn't she gorgeous? 

Let's get right to it. 

After nearly a year of e-mails, texts, FaceTimes, and IG likes I feel like you are more than just my wedding planner, but my friend too! I'm so excited to get the inside scoop from you on running your own wedding planning business and how you marry the art and science of creating people's most important days! 

How did you decide to become a wedding planner?

It was actually an accident, haha!  My degree is in Accounting and I started my career back in 2008 as an accountant at a large general contractor firm in Birmingham, AL.  About a year in, I realized that I actually HATED being an accountant.  Luckily the company I worked for knew it too and let me start working part time on corporate events.  That led to girls in the department asking me to help them plan their weddings, and after the first one I was hooked! 

What was it like being an entrepreneur and breaking into the wedding industry? 

It was somewhat difficult.  A lot of people start out in the wedding industry and never make it past 5 years.  It takes a LOT of hard work, networking, drive, and determination to make it in this market.  I was fortunate though to make some fabulous connections with other vendors in my area (even a few other planners!) that really mentored me and helped me when I needed it. 

What are some common misconceptions people have about being a wedding planner?

That we run around on wedding days with a headset, donning a business suit, looking adorable and giving orders like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner.  Being a wedding planner is a lot of fun, but it is HARD WORK, particularly physically. 

 It's also very stressful because our brides are depending on us more than anyone to make sure their wedding day is absolutely perfect. There is a reason why "event planner" is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs! 

What's your best advice for a newly engaged couple who's unsure where to even begin in regards to planning their wedding? 

Hire a wedding planner! ;) Most brides have never done this before, and we do it all of the time.  Imagine trying to build a house without a general contractor, that's what planning a wedding without a planner is like! 

When it comes to the Becky's Brides team, what qualities are you looking for in those who work along side you in creating people's most memorable days? (I low key want to work for Becky's Brides)

Drive, good personal style, and a positive, willing-to-do-anything-attitude.  I can teach the rest!  I personally think those attributes are things that can't be taught - you either have it or you don't.  




OK, we have to know!! Who is typically the most difficult person to deal with on a wedding day?

We get this question a lot, and it varies!  

Honestly it's usually a vendor, an inexperienced one.  Sometimes we have to work with vendors who don't have the wedding experience we would prefer and it definitely makes our jobs harder.  

We have to micromanage them a little more (and they don't like that), and rarely are our expectations (or our brides' expectations) met. It is worth it to invest in experienced WEDDING vendors! (I can attest that my main source of wedding stress, other than weather, was due to an unprofessional vendor that I personally selected)  

What's one of your favorite or most unique wedding details you've had the pleasure of coordinating?

 I love small details that really make wedding days special. You'll see in a lot of our weddings we try to incorporate champagne displays/bars because we feel like it kicks off the celebration is fun and classy way, AND it's a fun design element.  

My favorite one to date, was YOURS!  Southern Posies adorned each champagne coup with a flower and it was so beautiful and special! 




Can you tell us about a wedding day disaster you've encountered? 

Becky's Brides weddings don't ever have disasters! ;) But I'd say the closest call we've had is always related to the weather.  We've had a few brides chance it with an outdoor ceremony and or reception despite the forecast, and that always gives me major anxiety!! We've been lucky in the past, and now we always insist on a plan B!




What was the style and feel of your own wedding? What did you LOVE about that day? Is there anything you would go back in change?

 I LOVED our wedding day!  It was truly one of the best days of my life.  The weather was perfect, and we were surrounded by our family and friends and we promised to love and honor each other for the rest of our lives. 

If I had to change anything it would be two things: I wouldn't have gotten married in October because it's our busiest month of the year as far as weddings and it was hard to celebrate! 

And I would have had a smaller guest count. I'm all about more intimate weddings these days, and some of our guests we aren't really close to but I felt pressured to invite.  I would have been more firm about that.

Weddings can be quite the financial investment. What are some ways brides can cut costs without diminishing their special day?

Weddings are definitely expensive!  The easiest way to cut costs is to trim the guest list!  It's amazing how much each guest cost. It's not just food and beverage, it's a save the date, invitations, stamps, a ceremony chair, and reception chair, linen, and centerpiece...the list goes on!  So before you add those guests to your list, make sure you want to spend several hundred dollars on them. (cringes inwardly at the people who RSVPed YES and didn't show up to our wedding. No big deal, someone just HAND-CALLIGRAFIED their names in gold ink on an escort card)




Your offices are located in Birmingham, AL, also known as "the Magic City". What's your favorite part of being based in Birmingham?

I LOVE Birmingham!  In the last couple of years Birmingham has really undergone a revitalization of sorts. We have a lot of wonderful restaurants and fun breweries.  I don't think people realize that about Birmingham. It's a cool city without being overwhelming.  I am confident Birmingham will be our home forever!

I love the phrase "community over competition". In an industry that can be very competitive, how do you navigate?

We operate with two thoughts in mind: ALWAYS be kind, and we truly don't have any competition. We are not the right fit for every bride, and that's totally fine!  It's important to us that every bride books the planner that's right for THEM. And that's not always us. Our brides are the ones who value what we do and whose personalities match well with ours.  And those are the brides we want to work with, and who will have the best experience with us.

Do you have any special projects we should know about? 

Going back to how much we love Birmingham, we recently launched I Do Birmingham, a digital resource for brides marrying in the Birmingham area, and a way to show off the best vendors in our city!  We are excited that we get to celebrate even more brides' stories and show off all the Magic City has to offer! 




What sort of aspects help get weddings featured online or in print? 

This is a great question because a lot of our brides really want their weddings featured! There are 3 things that are really important when thinking about weddings getting picked up by publications: 

1. Photography!  There are a LOT of weddings for publications to choose from, so the photography has to be ON POINT.  Every detail has to be photographed, and edited to perfection.  Additionally many publications have a certain style of photography they feature, so if there is a certain publication a bride wants to be featured in, her photographer's style would need to match the publication's photography style.  

2. Details, details, details!  Publications are mostly used to inspire future brides, so they are looking for details, particularly unique details, to be able to showcase.  

3.  A good storyline.  Readers love a good story, so if the bride and groom have a story or details that are special, be sure to share the storyline with the publication.

You just had your first little one! Congrats! What's it like being a full-time business owner and a mom? 

Thank you!  It's challenging!  Our baby girl is 7 weeks old, so right now it's all about figuring out how to fit the previous 40-60-hour work weeks into a much shorter work week. 

I really spent the year evaluating how and where I spend my time and cutting out things that don't serve my family or my business goals well.  I'm a yes girl, and I'm having to learn how to say no to more things that just aren't in line with our goals.  It's a hard lesson, but our beautiful baby girl is so worth it.  

I'm incredibly thankful to have a career that is flexible and allows me to be home with her a lot.




When you're not on-site for weddings, what does your typical work day look like?

We are generally in the office Tuesdays - Fridays from 9:00 to 5:00. 

I like to start my day with some caffeine - I'm not much of a coffee or a tea drinker, but I love a Dr. Pepper to get my day started (completely unhealthy, I know!).  

We spend those days in all kinds of bridal meetings, from design meetings to tastings, to onsite evaluations and beyond.  When we aren't in meetings, we spend our time answering e-mails, working on timelines, working on design plans, blogging, planning out social media content, and more.  

There is a LOT of work that goes on behind the scenes of not only wedding planning, but running a successful business, so there is always something to do! 

On to some rapid fire questions!

Ballgown or mermaid dress? Mermaid

Cathedral veil or blusher? Cathedral

Sweet or savory for late night reception food? Savory (although I have a massive sweet tooth!)

Small or large guest count? Small

Live band or DJ? DJ

Night out or night in? Night in (I'm a homebody!)

East coast or West coast? West Coast - some of my favorite trips have been to the West Coast

Let's talk a little about my wedding day. What was your favorite part of planning it?!

My favorite part was definitely the design elements.  You placed a big focus on aesthetics and I LOVED seeing all of the beauty we worked on together come to life!  Plus you love pink as much as I do, so it was a personal favorite!  I also loved that you kept your guest list intimate so we were able to do some really beautiful personal touches such as the floral adorned champagne coupes and the hand written menus.

What was most challenging when it came to planning my wedding day?

You living so far away! I love to be able to spend more quality time with my brides, so I'm always a little sad when that is limited based on distance. 

(agreed!! We are totally getting coffee, or Dr. Pepper in your case, next time I'm in Birmingham!)

If someone is interested in learning more about your services, what's the best way for them to reach you?

They can contact me directly at Becky@BeckysBrides.com

xo

A huge, endless thank you to Becky for making me feel SO CONFIDANT in planning the day I've dreamed about forever, while also being on the other side of the country!

She made wedding planning fun and so stress free, even with me not being there in person for so many elements.

If you love wedding inpso as much as I do, following Becky's Bride's IG feed is a MUST. It's what drew me to her brand in the first place :) 




If you're engaged or just a fan of weddings, comment below with some questions for Becky! 

Talk soon.

xo

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Cutest Holiday Gift Guide






Hmm...the cutest holiday gift guide EVER? That's a lofty feat, but I'm up for the challenge!

Black Friday is winding down, the husband is snoozing (probably due to a prolonged turkey coma), and I'm diving into finding holiday gift options to make you go "AWW!", while costing you LESS THAN $40.

Here we go!

1. Pink Mini Waffle Maker




Can you SMELL the adorableness oozing from this thing? Picture yourself making mini gluten free waffles in your pjs on Christmas morning. You are SO cute.


I like a waffle maker because (if I'm being honest) my pancakes tend to go rogue, sporting weird shapes and burnt bellies. A waffle maker just takes out the fuss. 

Stuff your stocking or that of another's with this cutie, shop it here. (pssst, this one is on my Christmas list)



2. Knitted Pom Pom Throw 

Comes in grey, pink, and white! I personally think you can never have too many blankets or throw pillows. The more texture and warmth, the better. I have this exact one and the size and thickness is great! Also, the poms are just so fluffy and cute.


Shop it here


3. Lashes Mug


Perfect for the girl boss in your life.

Or anyone who hates mornings, drinks coffee, drinks tea, has to wake up each day, has a job, or moves their body.

The gold dipped handle is such a cute detail!

Shop it here


4. Pom Pom Slippers 

Slippers make for a timeless gift. Who doesn't want to feel cozy padding around their home over the holidays (or sneakily slipping to and from the kitchen for seconds on Christmas cookies)?

I couldn't decide between the pink or grey! There is also a Tiffany blue pair that are super cute. 


Shop these cuties here.



5. Sandal Slippers

Another adorable take on the slipper. Free People and Nordstrom retail a similar style to these for a pretty penny! 


Shop these pretties here


6. Faux Fur Pillows

AMAZING REVIEWS. Stack these bad boys on your couch or throw them in the mix with your existing collection of throw pillows on the bed (you know, the ones your boyfriend doesn't understand their reason for existence).

Or help add warmth to your mom's new bedroom set. 

The pink ones are perfect for the little princess in your life (that could very well be yourself and not the daughter or niece I am implying). 

They come in multiple sizes and colors! Take a peek. 


Shop the fuzzies here.


7. Statement Earrings

Classy, statement earrings - ooh la la! I think dramatic earrings with a simple sweater are so fun! Kind of glam-ma vibes, you know? 

This pair comes in so many different colors (although I like white best), are on Amazon prime, and have over 100 reviews!


Shop them here.


8. Knit Essentials

The sweetest winter basics set. This fur pom beanie is absurdly cute. And the price? So affordable! 


Shop all the colors here.


9. Mug Warmer

There's nothing like a warm cup of coffee lasting through the day. Give the gift of COZY with this mug warmer. 

I bought one for my dad last year (the man would reheat his coffee like 4-5 times throughout the morning and in the dang microwave). 


Shop it here


10. Cute Coasters 

Wine, coffee, green smoothies; they all look better nestled on a trendy coaster. 

Shop them here.



The air is BUZZING with anticipation for the Christmas season. I love the warmth this time of year brings. 

It's always fun reading reviews and rounding up some great products for you guys! Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see.

Happy stocking stuffin' :)

xo

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

10 Adorable Sweaters Under $40 on Amazon Prime



There's nothing better than a cute, cozy sweater for the holiday season!

Sweaters are really my absolute favorite right now. They're super comfortable and so easy to pair with jeans or leggings.

In honor of the holiday season I've hand-picked 10 sweaters that are not only super cute, but super affordable, pre-approved with 4-5 star review ratings, AND on Amazon prime :)

Let's get to it!

1. Knit Heart Sweater

Classy, comes in different colors, and can be worn for Valentine's Day in addition to any cozy winter events!


Shop it here



2. Camel Pullover

Love the milk and caramel tones.


Shop it here



3. Oversized Crew Neck

Reminds me of pumpkin spice. 

Shop it here



4. Fleece Sherpa Pullover 

I've been on the hunt for one of these! This one is so affordable.


Shop it here



5. Simplee Knit Sweater

A ruby red sweater is so iconic for the holiday season.


Shop it here



6. Long Leopard Print Cardigan 

I'm really into the leopard print this year and this long open-front cardigan makes for a versatile winter staple! Cinch it with a gold emblem belt for a trendy look.


Shop it here



7. Emerald Loose Knit 

I love a loose fit, especially for around the holidays (hello PIE). The neckline is super flattering too. 


Shop it here



8. Fringe Cropped Sweater

I love, love this top! The fringe and off the shoulder combo are so cute and earthy feeling. 

Shop it here



9. Chunky Knit Pullover 

For cuteness and warmth. 


Shop it here



10.  Reindeer Sweater 

Meets ugly Christmas sweater qualifications, while also being just plane adorable. 
Shop it here

There you have it! 10 sweaters that your wallet will love. Don't forget that they are ALL on Amazon prime, so if you need something ASAP for a holiday party, you are totally covered. 

Stay cozy!

xo