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. 

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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! 

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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!
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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?!
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Monday, August 11, 2014

One Month Check-in

Hi, friends! I know, I know... I said a while ago I was going to get back in the swing of blogging. I had the best intentions, too! However, this past month has been a bit jam-packed with fun, and I've been the best kind of busy. More specifically, I've been the "newly engaged" kind of busy, and I adore it. I've been trying to get as much "planning" done as possible before school starts next week (say it ain't so!), which means if I've been on the computer, it's been to look up flowers and tablescapes and letterpress vs. thermography. I have always had a passion for all things wedding, so this extreme-planning has been a blast, but I've missed the blogging community!

Still just as happy as I was our engagement weekend! 

I think John's and my one month engagement-versary (because that's a thing, right?) is the right time for me to get back into blogging. Now that I've really used this time to soak in being engaged to my fiancĂ© for exactly one month, I can share all this joy with y'all! In order to catch you up on planning and life in general, I'm going to post each day this week, sharing bits and pieces of what I've planned so far. Here's to a fun week of posts! 

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