Friday, October 31, 2014

Five on {Halloween} Friday

You know what I love? Halloweens on a Friday! I remember feeling this way when I was younger too, because you still got to go to school to share your excitement with your friends, but then you also didn't have to worry about homework and school the next day! (I am, and have always been, a planner. Yes, I think about these things.) 

As if Halloween isn't enough to be happy about, it's officially my FALL BREAK! Y'all, this semester has been a loooong one without a break, since Fall Break is usually mid-October. However, Clemson tried to be sneaky and only give us one extra day off, since Tuesday we'd technically have off anyways for elections, but whatever.... We're on to you, Clemson! Here are five things other than Halloween and Fall Break that are making me smile today. 

1. Ain't Nothin' But a Fang. 

I know I don't talk about them much on here (since I'm pretty much never here, but whatever), but I. Love. My. School. Kiddos. They're seriously so dear to me, and I just had to fix them up a little something for Halloween! However, I didn't want to go overboard, in case my teacher didn't want me to do anything, I didn't want to get them candy, and I also didn't want to spend a fortune. (Still a college girl, technically.) Here was my solution: 
"Thanks for being a FANG-tastic student! Love, Miss VerHage"
 (I saw the idea here using "Have a FANG-tastic Halloween!" but I didn't want to mention Halloween in the little note, since some of the students' families don't celebrate Halloween.) 

Bonus? They came in so many cute colors! I got a pack of 25 for just a few dollars at Target. 
2. Stamp Situation

Speaking of cutesy teacher stuff, I'm currently debating what bookplate design I want to ask for for Christmas. I'm accumulating a pretty great library for my future classroom,  and I want to make sure these books don't get lost or stolen! If my name's in there, a student (or another teacher!) can't take mistake the book for their own! 

There are some really cute stamps on Etsy, but I'm debating whether or not I want to go super teacher-y or not. I mean, who knows if I'll be in the classroom forever, or if some day I'll wind up doing something different! Hey, some day, I might want some of my school books to come home and stay on my (way off in the future) kids' bookshelves.

With that being said, I've been contemplating whether I want one like the one on the right (via Swoozies) or left (via Etsy): 

The left is adorable, but definitely for a teacher, and the right could be customized to be for a family. Obviously, I would change the text on the right side one to say "From the Library of the Whittens" instead of mentioning putting on your"Big Girl Panties..." 

I've also contemplated just getting a custom stamp made with my name on it, so it doesn't have to apply to just books. It's cheaper than you'd think to get a stamp made, so I'm not ruling it out! Here are some fonts I'm looking at: 
Do any of these look cute to y'all? Confession: they all look cute to me because they're with my future name! Eeek! 

Anyone have any advice or preference on this? (At this point y'all probably think I'm a psycho for spending this much time on a stamp to go in the front of books, but THIS IS A REAL DECISION, PEOPLE.) 

3. Engagement Sneak Peek!

While we're on the topic of name-changing and whatnot, can I show y'all a picture from our engagement session?! Our photographers are super fabulous and gave us a sneak peek of the goodness to come when we get all of our pictures back! Here is one of the five pictures we've seen so far (and this one isn't even my favorite!): 

4. Technology Reboot

One of my good friends recently pinned something about a technology detox. The concept was to slowly but surely wean people off their phones, one day at a time for a week. Now, truth be told, I'm pretty good at forgetting about checking my phone. Almost to a fault (at least in others' eyes!).  Now, I could rant about how much I hate being connected to others and pressured to be available 24/7, but that's another topic for another day.
Anyways, I was inspired by the pin, not necessarily to detox, but to clean and organize my computer. I need to organize pictures and documents into folders and back everything up on my external hard drive. This definitely isn't going to be a quick task, but I find organizing so relaxing and satisfying, so it'll be 100% worth it! If anyone has any tips for organizing files and folders, please let me know, because I'm definitely not tech savvy!  

Y'all. This album could have sufficed as my 1-5 this Friday, because it is that good. Let me be straightforward here: I became a Taylor Swift fan the moment I heard "Tim McGraw" on the radio for the first time eight years ago. I loved her when she was a pure-country singer, I loved her when she did cross-over pop, and I still love her as a full-on pop star. It's so much more than her genre; it's her songwriting, it's her delivery, and it's her charm. I could gush forever about this album, and I'd like to think if you've never liked Taylor, you will now. However, that doesn't mean if you used to like her you won't now, because this album is just solid. It's been on repeat since Monday, when I excitedly bought the digital copy in the morning and the deluxe edition at Target in the afternoon. (In my defense, I needed the Target one for the extra tracks, but elementary schools start before Target opens, and I was too eager to wait until after school to listen.) 

My favorites? Blank Space, Style, All You Had To Do Was Stay, and absolutely every single other song on that list. Seriously, I love listening to an album and just letting it play on repeat without having to worry about skipping certain tracks, and that's very rare for me (I've been known to listen to 15 seconds of a song and then change it). 
Okay, between my obsessive Taylor Swift rant and my thorough stamp contemplation, y'all probably think I've gone batty, but hey, it's Halloween isn't it?! ;) Enjoy it safely, friends! 
post signature

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Picking Our Wedding Theme (and Colors!)

If you're reading this, congrats- you've made it past Hump Day! The past 12 days I've been away from the blog have just flown by, thanks to several big assignments due for practicum teaching and full social calendars on the weekends. However, don't think I've forgotten about filling y'all in on wedding updates! I still haven't shared our wedding theme and colors with you!

You should know by now I'm obsessed with weddings. I'm also the most indecisive person ever at times. This makes for a bad combo when picking out wedding details. One thing I knew: there would be pink. Lots of pink. I know pink is probably cheesy to some, but I am one of the pinkest people I know, and I know looking back, I'd be mad at myself for worrying about what others thought, and not going with my favorite color. 
This summer, I wrote down my three main theme ideas for our wedding. Here they are, in the same format I wrote them down months ago: 

Sweet, Romantic, Southern
- Blush, black, and white
- Mercury glass
- Blush pink peonies 
- White anemones
- Checkered dance floor

Sweet, Romantic, Southern Wedding Theme
To view my inspiration board on Polyvore, click the image. 

Classic, Bold, City-Meets-Southern
- Pink, black+white OR navy+white
- Patterns (stripes, trellis)
- Thick grosgrain striped ribbon bouquets
- Some patterned table linens
- Peonies, hydrangeas (mini), dahlias
- Kate Spade vibe
- Gold accents

Classic, Bold, Striped
To view my inspiration board on Polyvore, click the image. 

Cheery, Bright, Southern
- Baker miller/ hot pink, white, gold, khaki 
- Bright pink and white peonies
- Milk glass, hobnail style
- Peaches and peach baskets
- Hydrangeas, tulips, ranunculus 
- Colorful flowers
- Gold accents

(Side note: I fell IN.LOVE. with this wedding featured on Southern Weddings! It's seriously my favorite Real Wedding post, and hopefully you'll see why if you read it. That wedding inspired my peach obsession, as well as my attention to small southern details. Bonus: I later realized the gorgeous bride works at Southern Weddings, so I can still keep up with her newlywed life!)
Classic, Bold, Striped
To view my inspiration board on Polyvore, click the image. 

I know this looks ridiculous, and I'm so silly, but dreaming like this helped me visualize things better. I still love all three of these general looks, but I had to decide which best represented John and me. I knew anything too fancy just wouldn't fit us as a couple, or our outdoor venue, for that matter, so the first was out.  Easy enough! Now moving on. 

I was seriously so obsessed with the idea of incorporating peaches into our wedding, since one of our hometown's most adorable traits is its Peach Stand! Plus, peaches would definitely be a cheap and yummy centerpiece on some tables, and they just scream summer in the south! However, let's remember, I wan lots of pink at our wedding, because I'm a pink girl. Not a coral girl, not a peach girl, but a true-pink girl. On top of the dilemma, I realized it would be hard to walk the fine line of southern without being kitschy, which is definitely not my style, so the third was out. 

That leaves us with style 2, or what I'd originally thought of us "Classic, bold, city-meets-southern." Now, while I love the black and white stripes, bold and bright Kate Spade vibe, I leaned more towards the navy and white. I can't quite explain why, but I just thought it was more "us." Navy and white has a classic, preppy feel that I love. 

Ultimately, I decided to combine aspects from all three styles: the checkered dance floor from the first (because, swoon), the stripes and colors from the second, and the southern details of the third. We're still figuring out details and making lots of little decisions, but here's the overall look we hope to achieve:
Wedding Style Inspiration
To view my inspiration board on Polyvore, click the image. 

Our venue (bottom right picture in the board above) obviously calls for southern details, but not bushel baskets like the peach theme. Antique silver and julep cups are my dream flower vases. The picture of a dinner jacket is just because I adore men in dinner jackets, especially just the groom, because it feels so Rhett Butler to me! Alas, John doesn't feel the same way, so all tuxes it is. Luckily, he's handsome in anything, and I guess settling on a tux isn't too bad... ;)

My one concern: how bad do will navy and white stripes be in contrast with the black and white checkered dance floor and the groomsmen tuxes? I appreciate honesty, so tell me what y'all think! Be back on Friday- I'm hoping to have a special picture to show y'all (possibly from our engagement shoot....!)! 
post signature

Friday, October 10, 2014

Two is Better Than One: Five on Friday + Oh Hey Friday!

We made it to Friday, y’all! Woohoo! That’s reason enough to smile, but here are five more things that are making me happy right now that I’d love to share:

1. Winner Winner 
Well, I can no longer be one of those people that says "I never win things!" because I just found out that I won the most fabulous BaubleBar prize! I can hardly believe my luck, and I am ecstatic to have won the entire BaubleBar BRIDES collection and a year-long subscription to BRIDES Magazine! I know it can seem silly sometimes to repost pictures on Instagram, but this is proof that those contests are worth a shot! I can’t wait to show y’all some of my new pretties!

 The gorgeous picture that helped me win! 

2. Field Trip Fun
This week I experienced my first field trip “on the other side” as a teacher, and let me tell ya, it was about as exhausting as I thought it would be! I cannot tell you how many times I counted the number 17 (the number of kids who went from our class) in my head that day. It was a huge responsibility, but it was so neat to be there as many kids saw an apple orchard for the first time in their lives! 

Here's one of the most precious first graders in the whole, wide world. Can you tell who was more excited to take this picture?! I promise he loves Miss VerHage too! ;) 

On top of the little baggy of apples I picked, I bought some homemade, no-sugar-added apple butter, and it has been delightful! So far, I’ve spread it on toasted Ezekiel Bread and used it as a dip for graham crackers as a treat!  

3. SheReadsTruth Plan Reveal
 I know SheReadsTruth was on my 5 last week, but I am still just loving their plans, and I’m super pumped because they just announced their final four plans for the year! Eek! SheReadsTruth offers the most beautiful study packs for their plans, and I’m especially loving the next study’s set from Ashlee Proffitt! 
How beautiful are these?! I'm looking forward to seeing Hospitality in its true light, as more than the cute place settings and parties we traditionally think of. 

As if that plan wasn’t pretty enough, they also released their advent series…

I’m not afraid to say I got giddy when I saw it, y’all. It’s beautiful, functional, and it comes with so many extras.... I’m trying to convince myself I do not need it, but Advent is such a special time I feel like it might be worth the splurge. What do you think, friends?

4. Sensationail Kit
 A couple months ago, Corey’s girlfriend, Morgan, let me borrow her at-home-gel-nail kit, and I was seriously impressed. I’ve used it twice since that first time, and today I decided it was time for me to invest in my own! Here was my reasoning: the mani lasts around two weeks, and this way, I don’t have to keep bugging Morgan to borrow hers! I found it decently priced (AKA around the same price I’d pay for one good gel manicure at a salon) on Amazon, and I can’t wait to get it next week! Sidenote: some people have complained about the removal process, but it’s been super easy for me, and I’d highly recommend Sensationail to anyone!
All of this for 40% off its original price? Yes please!  

5. Wedding weekend
 John and I are actually on the road to a wedding as I type! His cousin is marrying her long-time boyfriend, and I’m so excited to see so many members of my future family-in-law! (Plus, yay for cake, dancing, and champs!)

The lovely Five on Friday ladies are doing a giveaway this week, and obviously, I'm feeling lucky! Go check out Darci, April, Christina, and Natasha's blogs to see more details! 

Also, I got the sweetest email from Karli of September Farm (AKA one of the cutest mama blogs out there) last week, and she reminded me of her Oh Hey Friday! linkup, and I just had to join! Why limit myself to one fab linkup when I could be part of two?!

Anyone else have fun weekend plans?! Whatever you’re doing the next couple days, I hope you’re making what matters happen, and enjoy every second of this precious weekend!

post signature

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five on Friday Fall Return

I was pleased as peas to see my favorite weekly linkup was returning- especially because it coincided with my returning to the blog world! 

Yay! Let's see if I remember how this goes...
1. Happy Fall, Y'all!
I try not to complain about warm weather, because I know as soon as it hits the upper forties, I'm going to be whining (and freezing!) my hiney off... However, we're officially 10 days in to Autumn, and I'm ready for some sweater weather! I'm not asking for snow or blustering winds or anything- just that crisp and cool fall weather that makes me feel like sipping some cider! Thankfully, even if the weather is a bit warm, we can still pull out the pumpkins and pour out some candy corn, because it's October! 

Love this delicate yet fun calligraphy print- and the Anne of Green Gables quotation, of course!

2. Target
How "basic" do I sound right now? Fall, Target... Don't worry, Pumpkin Spice Lattes won't be next, I promise. ;) I'm just coming down from a major Target-trip-high! Y'all, I meandered the store for over an hour, and I scored some great finds- some of them from the dollar section! How cute are these little page flags?! 

I'm just a tad bit excited to use these in my gorgeous Whitney English starting in January... (And yes, planners can be gorgeous!) 

3. SheReadsTruth
Since school has started, I've decided to devote the first thirty minutes of my day to some one-on-one God and Chelsea time. I know thirty minutes isn't very much to some, but when it means I need to wake up at 5 AM on student teaching days and 6 AM on class days, it seems like a lot! In the past, I would "commit" to a devotional and then put it off because I didn't want to wake up early. Pushing myself to suck it up and just get up earlier has been crucial. I start my day off on the right foot every day, and I feel "blegh" now if I don't set aside that time... It's the most amazing thing. Honestly, I cannot remember a time I felt more connected with God, and while putting in more quiet time helps, the devotionals I read are also key. 

I know lots of people like Jesus Calling, but the language isn't really my thing. The intentions of the content are good though, and I like using it as a "warm up" to get me focused on worship. My favorite devotional right now is from SheReadsTruth- a women's devotional blog, with free, daily posts. I really like the community aspect of it, with lots of women reflecting on the day's material.  I could ramble about this for an entire post, because the benefits from this have been tremendous. I encourage all of you to check out SheReadsTruth!

4. One Week Without the Wonder Dog
A week ago, my parents made the tough decision to put our family dog to sleep after a tumor was affecting the quality of her life. We adopted Bess 11 years ago from a rescue mission. When the mission found her, she was on the side of the road, pregnant. My parents decided we were not going to get a puppy, because they were much more work to train. I was devastated to learn we were going to take home the fat mom dog instead of one of her precious puppies, and equally upset that the rescuers named said fat dog Bess! Over the years, Bess took on many nicknames, such as Bessie, Bessie Lou, Lou Lou, and my dad's favorite: The Wonder Dog.

I took this picture, one of my all-time favorite of Bess, this summer.   

 Looking back, we laugh at the fact that my parents thought Bessie would be easier to train, because that dog was a piece of work! However, no amount of potty stains could compare to the amount of love and joy she brought to our family- especially to my dad. 

When I was in middle school, Bess wasn't a fan of me (probably because middle-school-Chelsea was a bit of a diva), and the feeling was mutual.  However, as I got older, I appreciated her company more, and over the past few years, I definitely got more attached to her. It's hard to think about going back home, and not seeing her curled up in her bed, or hearing her howl at the door to come inside, but it makes me happy to know she's not in pain here. I'm so thankful our family got to experience the love and companionship of such a wonderful dog!

5. Time to Tailgate
Thankfully, even though it's been a bit of a glum week, there's lots to look forward to! I'm pretty excited for tomorrow's game against NC State, since some super fun members of the Wolfpack are visiting for the weekend! Mitch and Alyse started interning with Duke Power the same summer John did, and the three were close friends. However, John definitely wasn't as close as Mitch and Alyse... Four years later, the two are now a couple! John and I love double-dating with them, and we're looking forward to showing them why Death Valley is the place to be on Game Day! 

I hope even if you've been struggling this week, you find things to look forward to and be thankful for, too! For starters, let's all be thankful for Friday! Enjoy the weekend, friends! 

post signature

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Picking a Wedding Style

Ideally, one of the very first things a couple decides on when wedding planning is a wedding style. However, John and I may have done things a bit backwards, because we didn't really intentionally hone in on the overall style we wanted to achieve until after picking a venue (which definitely affects the style) and setting a date (which obviously determines the season, which affects the style).  

The date, my parents' anniversary, was obviously super important to me; it was kind of a no-brainer for us. Okay, technically, it was a no-brainer for me because of the anniversary thing... Honestly, John just wanted a summer wedding because he wanted to get married before football season started... Yep. 


The venue was almost as easy to choose as the date. When we visited Vesuvius Vineyards for the first time, we knew we'd found somewhere special. You can read more about how we picked our venue here

Simple yet grand house in black and white- the two most versatile colors ever- plus naturally pretty grounds? It doesn't get much better than this!

Even though John and I weren't intentionally thinking about our wedding style when we picked Vesuvius, we picked a place that spoke to both of us- a place that fits the combination of our tastes. It's the perfect balance between down-home Southern charm and Old South swank

Obviously, our venue inspired us while we thought of our wedding style, but so did all the weddings we went to this summer. We were able to go to weddings, see what we loved, and make mental notes of those things. Seeing other weddings got us asking questions like, "When we get married, will it be a big party, or a small celebration? Will it be modern or traditional? What kind of dancing will there be?" 

Obviously, there is a lot to decide on when planning a wedding. Here are the basics we decided on together:
  • We want the whole day to be a joyful celebration with our closest friends and family. Our list quickly grew with big families and fabulous friends, and it wasn't easy, but we finally settled at 200 invitees. 
  • We want our ceremony to reflect our genuine love for one another and our beliefs about the meaning of marriage. 
  • We want everyone to have a good time. To John, that means lots of food and drinks. For me, that means lots of dancing and cake. 
More than anything else, I knew the style of our wedding needed to be classic and southern. I cannot even explain how many times I've used those words to describe my vision to people. Here's my position on wedding trends, no matter how cute and genius they are: fads may come and go, but pictures are forever. I know it's inevitable that one day our wedding will look outdated, but I am attempting to avoid trendy and cheesy at almost all costs... Minus sparklers. John has warned me they're definitely trendy, but I just can't get enough of 'em! I love love love sparkler exits, and I have such happy memories of sparklers with John, so they're definitely going to be our exception to the rule. 

Figuring out our style has been an interesting process, but the bigger challenge was (and still is!) nailing down a specific theme.... Stay tuned for that, but expect a Five on Friday post first! That's right- everyone's favorite Friday linkup is back, and I can't wait to join in! One sleep until the weekend, friends!

post signature

Sunday, September 28, 2014

When September Ends

Okay, let's address the whole "I haven't blogged in three weeks" thing.... I'm about to take it back to 2005 (oh hey, brace-faced Chelsea!) and ask if y'all remember the Green Day song Wake Me Up When September Ends... I know, super lame, but when I was thinking about how to sum up this whole month, that song title quickly came to mind. I've just been ready for this month to be over. 

Now, I realize this is not a super positive way to welcome you back to my corner of the internet, but it's kind of true! Let me explain.... 

School has been good, but that doesn't mean I haven't been overwhelmed at times. It's been tricky to balance being a student at Clemson half the time and a first grade student-teacher the other half. It's incredibly rewarding, but tricky. 

Since I've just been getting in the swing of things school-wise, my brain is a little tired.  I'll have random urges to write a blog post during the day, but honestly, by the time I get home, the only thing I really want to do is turn on the TV and mindlessly watch Law & Order (my new obsession). 

Yeah... I need to start running again...

I let myself use "I'm too tired" as an excuse for not blogging for a few weeks, but then I realized something: blogging isn't a chore. It's something that brings me much more happiness and fulfillment than an episode of Law & Order ever could! I need to take some advice from Lara Casey and make what matters happen. 

After several tragic deaths of Clemson students in the past month, I've realized just how important it is to do this. To make our lives what God intended for them to be- full. Full of love, full of grace, full of happiness, full of Him.  

I can't say I intended for this post to get so "real" but that's the point of having this blog, isn't it? To show my real self and share it with friends. I'm definitely looking forward to October to begin, but sometimes I need Septembers to appreciate what I have. This past month was a reminder that life can be hard, but it is far too short to spend all of it curled up on my bed watching criminal justice dramas from the '90s. 

Since I'm trying to make the most of my time, you'll be seeing a lot more of my real life here on the blog! I cannot wait to share more of my life with y'all! On a related note, does anyone know of any 12 step programs for Law & Order addicts? ;)  

post signature

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Out With the Old (But Not Just Yet!)

Hi, sweet blog friends! It's been a while since I've posted, but not intentionally! I've just spent so much time getting settled into my new apartment and getting all my ducks in a row for my classes. I can't believe this is my FIFTH and final year of undergrad!
Since it's almost time to say goodbye to college life and single life, I figured I'd leave college with the same kind of decor I started with: pink, pink, pink! Most 22 year olds probably wouldn't adore my style, but I'm going to soak up living in my favorite hue for as long as I can before tying the knot. I mean, let's face it: John would probably die before we had a pink-filled house!
Here's my last girly-as-it-gets room: 

Walking in.... Does a two year old live here, or a twenty-two year old?

Last chance to use my maiden-name monogram canvas from Morgan... Sniff sniff! 

One of the things I may miss most: my card ribbon! I put all of my recent (and favorite) cards on there- right now there are several engagement congratulations cards!

Closet numero uno...

And closet dos! Yes, this room has two closets, and no, I don't know what I'll do when there's one closet for two people, not vice-versa... 

I didn't take pictures of the wall across from my bed, but I figured y'all probably got the gist of the room! (Plus, my dresser, TV, and storage ottoman aren't that exciting...) Most of this girly goodness will get the boot at the end of this year, but I think John may have to give me at least a little space in our future place for some of these things.... After all, where else will I store my wrapping paper collection?!

I don't think it's too much to ask for a separate room for crafting and creativity.... ;)

While I may not be quite ready to part with my old bedroom, I was definitely ready for a change in my blog design! On a whim last week, I decided to get rid of my old template and just improvise a temporary design before finding a new look. Honestly, I'm kind of digging this spur-of-the-moment, makeshift one, though, so I haven't been in a rush to replace it... What do y'all think?

post signature

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Best-Laid Plans...

Often go awry. And I'm trying to learn that's okay. 

It's very rare that I feel the need to post something, but this post has been on my mind all week. In fact, I think it's been on my heart. 

Those of you who know "real life" Chelsea know I'm a planner. Those of you in the blogging world may find that hard to believe, since I go through spurts of MIA-ness here on the blog, but it's true. In fact, on the phone this morning, I had a calligrapher exclaim, "Well, you're quite the planner, aren't you?!" when she learned our wedding wasn't until next June.
I like to stay on top of things, because if I let due dates sneak up on me, I panic, and it's ugly. One thing I wasn't going to let sneak up on me? My first day of practicum in the classroom this semester. 

I'm a senior early-childhood-education major, which means half of my time this semester is spent in an elementary school classroom and the other half in classes at Clemson. At the beginning of the month, my classmates and I were given our field placements. I was assigned a first grade teacher at a school in Greenville, about 40 minutes away. Being the planner I am, I immediately emailed her, introducing myself and explaining how excited I was to work with her (while avoiding using too many exclamation marks!). I went to Meet the Teacher, and set four alarms for the First Day of School- three "wake up" alarms, and one "leave the house to pick up friends" alarm. I triple-checked these alarms before going to sleep.

Somehow, my phone managed to burrow itself under pillows, and I didn't wake up until my 6:20 alarm... Which would have been fine, if that wasn't the final alarm.

Chelsea-the Planner-VerHage woke up as her alarm reminded her it was time to leave the house. On her first day of school. 

I promise y'all, I do not even vaguely, fuzzily remember hitting "Snooze" or hearing those first three alarms at all. I bolted out of bed, turned on my straightener to give it time to warm up (I knew I wouldn't have time to do all of my hair, but I could at least primp my bangs!), and texted the girls I was carpooling with. (They got a good laugh out of the "JUST WOKE UP GO AHEAD AND LEAVE I AM SO SORRY I HATE MYSELF" message...) 

I quickly changed, threw on minimal makeup, and reached for my trusty straightening iron....
And it did nothing. Yes, folks, that's right. My straightening iron, which was working perfectly the night before (not to mention the last several years), straight-up died on me in a time of desperate need. I tried to stay calm as I dashed out the door and to my car, but it was difficult.

Thankfully, I arrived at 7:15- school doesn't start until 7:45. 

I know, I know... Some of you may have the same reaction as John, which was, "What?! You act like you were so late when really you were ridiculously early!"

Now, that's early on a normal day, but I had these great plans to be there early-early, arriving with my friends (hair perfectly styled to boot!), and I ruined those plans. As soon as I woke up and realized my mistake, I was embarrassed and mad at myself. 

However, those weren't the only things I felt. I also felt humbled. I starting praying the moment I woke up, and I wasn't asking God to get me to school on time! I was just talking, because it was the only thing that could possibly calm me down. It was so comforting to know He was with me even when my plans weren't working out. I prayed that I would still be able to be the best I could for the kids in my class on their first day of school. 

For the record, it was a great first day. Actually, despite the fact I felt like a hobo, several of the sweet boys and girls told me how beautiful I was throughout the day. Ha! 

My second day went a lot smoother, but I'm actually thankful I had that mishap the first day. I realized it will be okay even if things don't work out according to my plans. Especially if I just pray....

And listen to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."  Because that song is just making me happy this week. 

 photo blogsigpng_zpscb1d9054.png

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Creating a Wedding Hashtag

Yes, the entirety of this post will be about hashtags. No, I do not blame you if you leave now, because hashtags kind of get a bad rep. (I highly recommend you click that link, if you love Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, and laughing.) However, you should know that wedding hashtags aren't a stupid trend. They are useful, and here's why: they help document the wedding from the guests' perspective. 
Our photographers are going to be AMAZING (seriously, they're fab, and I cannot wait to share more info on them soon!), but I'll be honest... I can be a bit impatient, and to get the gorgeous pictures we want, we'll have to wait a while for the end result. Having our guests take pictures on their phones and then using our special hashtag will create an archive of wedding pictures for me to pore over before we get our professional photos back. Although I know some people don't use the hashtag-searching-feature (or whatever the technical term is) on social media, I love it! I love knowing John and I, along with our family and friends, will be able to search for all posts with our hashtag and see everything documenting our wedding.
So, now that I've convinced you that hashtags are indeed useful, it's time to talk about the actual hashtag itself. It has to be at least semi-original, because if we were to use the popular hashtag #whittenwedding, we would see the 314 pics with that tag on Instagram already. 
My first thought? Something simple without a lot of room for spelling errors. #whittenwedding, #thewhittenwedding, and #whittenwedding2015 were already taken, and no one else seemed to be okay with just doing #weddingwhitten (it's just #whittenwedding backwards!) so I was kind of out of luck.

Second thought? Something witty. My best friend (and MOH!), Kara, liked #gettinwhittenwithit but that breaks all kinds of rules in my book. 1. Room for spelling errors ("Is it gettin' or getting?"). 2. John's last name, Whitten, does not even kind of rhyme with jiggy- the actual word in the Will Smith song, so I don't really think that counts as clever. I told her we could use that for the bachelorette if she really wants! ;)

So, I felt pressure to come up with something funny or cool, but that just wasn't in the cards. I mean, when it comes down to it, it's just a hashtag. Want to know what John and I decided on? 

From now on, this chica will be using #smittenwhittens to document any and all wedding planning leading up to next June 27th! Is it the most creative hashtag ever? Probably not, but John and I both like it- we'd like to think it describes us pretty well! (Well, technically, it just describes him well- I'm not a Whitten yet!) 

We hope our guests like the idea of using hashtags on social media as much as we do, but we also hope they understand our wishes for an "unplugged" ceremony. More on that later! 

 photo blogsigpng_zpscb1d9054.png

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Setting a Date

I kind of posted a little out of order when I told you our venue before our date... Oops! Normally, I'd say venue should be first priority and then setting a date based on availability. However, a couple months ago, I realized something: my parents' anniversary falls on a Saturday next summer.
I had an inkling a summer wedding might be in the books for us, so in my mind, that anniversary date was my "dream date." A couple of things on this: I'd checked the calendar to see when John's parents' anniversary was too, because they had a summer wedding as well, but theirs fell on a weekday, so it was out of the question. Obviously, once John and I got engaged, we talked about the date. At first, John was worried we might be stealing my parents' thunder by sharing their anniversary, but I thought it was, if anything, a good way to honor them. 

Thankfully, when we went to Vesuvius Vineyards, the date was still available, although they warned us several other couples were thinking about it. John and I took a big breath and committed.

We are officially getting married on June 27th, 2015. 

Eeek! With the contract signed, we could start planning everything else! My next concern? Talking to Pastor Steve Morgan. He's the man who married my parents and baptized me. He's been a part of my family's lives for a long time, despite moving before I was old enough to get to know him. Thankfully, I met him by chance on a church mission trip in high school, and I feel like our paths have crossed too many times to ignore. I'd had visions of him marrying my future husband and me for years, until he retired last year. I resigned myself to being open-minded about our officiant, until John and I picked that special anniversary date... I just knew that I'd kick myself if I didn't ask him to officiate our wedding then! 
A blurry photo of my first ceremony with Pastor Steve: my baptism. (Is it just me, or does this resemble the beginning of the Lion King?)

Thankfully, he was thrilled I'd asked, and his answer was "YES!" He and his wife are traveling in England right now, but John and I are looking forward to premarital counseling with Steve next year. 

I don't know when I got so sentimental, but it warms my heart thinking about these special details of our wedding. After all, these are the most important things about the wedding! Without a minister, we couldn't get married, and without a date, we couldn't start booking everything else... And I couldn't update y'all with our wedding countdown- only 318 days until I'm John's wife!
 photo blogsigpng_zpscb1d9054.png

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Location, Location, Location: Picking a Venue

When I was younger, I thought I'd get married at The Dairy Barn in my hometown of Fort Mill, South Carolina. I was a junior bridesmaid in a gorgeous wedding there twelve years ago, and I've been in love with its magical southern charm ever since. 

However, The Dairy Barn has grown in popularity since then. In fact, before John and I got engaged, he already knew he'd be a groomsman in a wedding taking place there next summer! Now, John and I aren't "hipsters" in the slightest, but we weren't exactly crazy about having our wedding somewhere a few weeks after our friends. Plus, let's face it: John and I are southern, and we wanted to incorporate that into our big day, but I'm not at all a rustic girl. 

I was determined to find somewhere beautiful yet reasonable- a combination that is trickier than it may seem. Here were my thoughts about our potential venue: 

- I don't really care if it's indoors or outdoors.
- However, if it's indoors it cannot. have. hideous. carpet.
- Also, no hideous wallpaper or decorations. The plainer, the better. 
- It must not be ridiculously priced. 
- It must be beautiful. 

Now, I looked at a few places online, including: 
The Ballantyne Hotel

The Ballantyne is gorgeous, and it's in Charlotte, which is a big bonus. I loved that it was very clear on its website what was included (like chiavari chairs- swoon!) and pricing. I also loved that it was a hotel for convenience for our many out of town guests, but at the same time, I hated that it was a hotel for carpet. Yes, I realize this is probably stupid to most, but not to me. Ultimately, I realized a ballroom just wouldn't be our thing, so the Ballantyne was out. 
Pretty, but... Not us. 

The Cliffs at Glassy

I really loved The Cliffs website when I saw it for the first time. And the second time. And the third time. This place was gorgeous, especially this chapel: 
I mean, who wouldn't want to get married there?!

Obviously, lots of people want to get married there, since they do three ceremonies each Saturday and you don't get to pick which of the three time slot you get... This seemed a little nuts since you'd be paying lots to rent it, just for an hour or two, and on top of that, still have to rent a separate Cliffs clubhouse for the reception. It was definitely out of our budget, and in hindsight, the small chapel would not have held all of our guests.  
Vesuvius Vineyards

I don't remember how I found Vesuvius; my best guess is WeddingWire, but I'm not quite sure. Regardless of where I found it, when I read about it for the first time, I thought, "Why am I just now hearing about this place?!" It turns out, this venue has only been around for a few years, even though the gorgeous plantation style home is the oldest in the entire county. That may be why it just oozes southern charm!
I fell in love the instant I saw Vesuvius in pictures, and it was even more beautiful when John and I went and saw the estate in person. Although the actual vineyard on the property is small (and the grapes haven't produced wine yet), there is so much else it offers. Sprawling land, a gorgeous home to get ready in, and a lovely reception pavilion that gives the best of both indoor and outdoor worlds- the indoor comforts of restrooms and ceiling fans and the beauty of the outdoors, which means less decorating is necessary! 

John and I really clicked with the two owners of Vesuvius, and it didn't take us long to realize we wanted to work with them. I was ecstatic we'd found such an incredible place that fit all of our requirements (and then some!) at our very first venue we toured. While it's forty-five minutes away, I think it will be well worth our drive. What do y'all think?!
 photo blogsigpng_zpscb1d9054.png