unique gift

How are we already over half way through April?? Time is flying by, and with Mother’s Day, graduations, and Father’s Day over the next couple months, we’ve got special celebrations coming up.

That’s why I’m so excited to have collaborated with JORD to bring you some unique gift inspiration, along with an easy to enter contest!

I’ve always loved watches. Not only do they serve as the perfect arm candy, but they’re a practical accessory to invest in! I’ve had a few pretty time pieces over the years, but never one made of 100% natural wood like this.

unique gift

As soon as I came across JORD’s wood watches, I knew there was some real art here. I had always worn a metal watch, and just knew I had to change it up with one of these special accessories.

From the beautiful packaging to the colorful faces, these watches bring a different flair from the moment you receive them.

unique gift

Photos: Benavides Photography

Because I’m a fan of larger faces, selecting a piece from JORD’s Frankie series was an easy choice! How cool is that dark sandalwood and emerald face combo? A dreamy combo in my book.

For its first wear, I paired my watch with a casual white maxi to let it be the real star of the show, but it truly goes with everything! Another reason I love this statement piece so much – it stands out while fitting seamlessly with my wardrobe.

unique gift

unique gift

unique gift

Earlier this month I had been thinking, what do I gift my sweet mama for Mother’s Day this year? What’s fitting for the most wonderful woman in the whole world? Once I had this JORD watch on my wrist, it hit me. She’s got nothing like this. Mom needs a piece as one-of-a-kind as her!

I’ve been combing through the women’s watches and just can’t decide yet – there are so many beautiful combinations.

And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about dads! There’s actually something for everyone. Wait until you see all the styles in JORD’s men’s section.

unique gift

This shop offers a variety of combos – from zebra, olive, and koa woods to rose gold, smoke, and midnight blue faces – how could you not come across the perfect fit for a loved one?

Or hey, for you. Because #treatyoself, am I right??

So whether you’re in need of a unique gift for mom, dad, an upcoming grad – or looking to change up your go-to watch with a fun accessory, I want to help you make it happen!

WIN $100 TO JORD!

Click HERE and enter to win a $100 gift code to use on JORD’s website! One lucky reader will win, but get this: everyone who enters will receive a $25 gift code once the contest ends.

Psst! Some friendly reminders: The contest closes at 11:59 pm on 4/30/17. Giveaway codes will expire on 6/30/17.

unique gift

Pretty sweet if you ask me – a situation where we’ve got nothing to lose? Yes, please.

Hope you had a wonderful start to your week, friends! Wishing you a productive one full of lots of sunshine. I’m hoping it’s finally here to stay in Chicago!

Days By Day

Thanks to JORD for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

All photos taken + owned by Benavides Photography (Thanks, E!). In Chi and need a photographer? Send a note his way!

bright spring dress

Happy almost Friday!

This girl is happy since we touched down in home sweet Texas last night, and because today I’m getting to share this bright spring dress from PinkBlush with you for some sunny wardrobe inspiration!

bright spring dress

How fun is this floral number? At first, I wasn’t sure if I could pull off the eye catching color, but I completely fell in love with it! The chiffon fabric is so breathable and soft.

These gorgeous florals also had me real life *heart eyes* from the second I opened up my PinkBlush package. Perfect as we set out to embrace this spring season!

bright spring dress

bright spring dress

I knew this would be the perfect piece for brunch with my Style Collective blogger gals! This past weekend, we met up at The Hampton Social – a gorgeous Chicago spot that sweeps you away to the fancy beach house mindset. Bloodys and rose are a must!

bright spring dress

I’ve been so fortunate to meet amazing ladies within the SC community of fashion and lifestyle bloggers. Having a girl tribe where you feel supported and encouraged to succeed at your passions and goals is so important! These friends are exactly that – and we’re just a few of the SC sisters in the Midwest.

If you’re interested in joining this nationwide network, click here to learn more!

bright spring dress

bright spring dress

My PinkBlush dress fit the scene perfectly. To give it a little more shape, I added a black belt around my waist that coordinated with my booties. Gold accessories and my new favorite lip color finished off the look!

I also have to talk about how good it felt to embrace the sunshine and show some leg! This Chicago winter has had us bundled up, but this dress gave me the perfect excuse to break away from the jeans.

Ok, let’s be honest though…it was still a little chilly, so I highly recommend adding a light, long-sleeved piece (bell sleeves at that!) like this one to your closet as we change seasons! I know by swapping in leggings and boots, or sandals and a high bun, this is a dress I’ll be able to rock all year around.

bright spring dress

bright spring dress

bright spring dress

Dress | Booties (similar)| Belt (similar) | Lip Whip

(P.S. Sad to report this donut shop was sold out when we arrived…will report back once we try.)

It was so much fun to partner up with PinkBlush and bring you some bright inspiration for your spring wardrobe! This trendy online boutique is stocked with an amazing selection of looks, from stripes to florals to solids. They even have a section for sweet mamas-to-be!

Want the chance to win a $50 PinkBlush giftcard?? Head on over to my Instagram and find out how to enter for the one I’m giving away.

Days By Day

Thanks to PinkBlush for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

All photos taken and owned by Benavides Photography (Thanks, E!). In Chi and need a photographer? Send a note his way!

wedding part II

Today, I’m excited to be sharing Part II of Eric + I’s wedding – The Ceremony! If you missed the details from getting ready and our first look (probably our favorite moment from the whole day), you can read them here.

You also might notice the new ‘Wedding” tab up there in the header! If you’ve been a reader of the blog, you know the party planner in me absolutely LOVED working on our big day. We did it all ourselves, and learned so much. Thankfully, it was a huge success!

All that being said, I’m looking forward to sharing our journey, tips, and resources here in the coming months in hopes they could help someone else! So stay tuned – if you’ve got questions, I’d love to hear ’em!

Ok back to the wedding…

So it had started to rain just before the ceremony. E and I chatted with our team of vendors (artists is a more like it!), and decided to wait it out some before making the call to move everything inside.

wedding part I

After just a few minutes, the amazing happened. Suddenly the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and sun flooded the big ranch house we all stood in. Our Memory Lane (ML) coordinators gave the signal to wipe down the ceremony seating and ushered us down stairs to line up!

*****

{The Ceremony}

As E & I gathered downstairs with our parents, grandparents, and wedding party, we were smiling ear to ear. I feel like even though we all appeared calm, we were bouncing around on the inside.

It was really time!

Guests that had taken refuge from the rain in the reception hall made their way outside to the benches in the gorgeous ceremony area. Seriously *heart eyes/swoon/mouth drop* at this scene, right??

wedding part II

Giant oak trees sprawled above. At the end of the white stoned aisle, a wooden pagoda (seriously could never remember this was what it was called) stood on the platform where E and I would exchange I dos. It was graced with the dreamiest wine, blush, and ivory florals!

I also have to take a moment to show off these DIY wooden pieces E and I crafted for the ceremony. We opted to save the money instead of doing printed programs since we felt they often ended up getting tossed aside or left behind at other weddings we had attended.

wedding part II

wedding part II

Eric stained the wood, and I put my hand-lettering practice to work. I loved having these personal touches.

You also might notice the aisle liners we made. Phrases from the well-known 1 Corinthians excerpt are written on them. We love these verses and wanted to incorporate them in a unique way since they are often read during a ceremony.

wedding part II

Everyone was finally settled and the procession began.

Marry Me by Train played as our pastor, Eric, the groomsmen, parents, and grandparents made their way down the aisle.

wedding part II

Paying tribute to my fave Queen B, XO by Beyonce played after as the bridesmaids and our sweet flower girls followed. We actually used a cover by John Mayer that could not have fit more perfectly.

It was so surreal to listen to these songs play one after the other. After all the planning, to actually hear the tunes play had me full of anticipation and excitement.

I couldn’t fully see everything happening up ahead, but I knew with each note the minute I’d be walking towards E was coming closer.

wedding part II

We selected Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran for my walk down the aisle. The sweet lyrics about the feeling of falling in love just felt right.

As soon as it began playing, I remember my dad turned to me and said, “You ready?”

I took a deep breath as the biggest smile came over me. I was the most ready I had ever been.

We made our way through the rays of sun shining down upon everyone. A double rainbow had appeared through the trees. I was in awe with how fortunate we were to have the day turn out so beautifully.

wedding part II

wedding part II

Walking towards Eric was the best feeling ever. I quickly stole a few glances from family and friends, but before I knew it, we were at the top of the aisle. My dad placed my hand in Eric’s as they exchanged a few words.

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

While at UT Austin, E and I attended a non-denominational church called The Austin Stone. My faith has always been a priority for me, but I feel like in my four years attending Stone, I learned about and grew more in God than I could’ve ever imagined. Our time at Stone was a real life blessing.

We were lucky enough to get to know one pastor there well in the months leading up to the big day, even all the way from Chicago! Having him marry us and be a reminder of a special place made things all the more wonderful.

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

Grace and biblical marriage are two of my favorite things to learn about in the Bible. Our pastor spoke to both. His message also weaved in background on Eric and I as individuals, and as a couple.

Then came time for E and I to read the vows we each wrote. I loved, loved this part and would relive it over and over again.

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

We exchanged rings and finally our pastor pronounced us husband and wife. The whole thing was done in about 20 minutes! We knew we wanted a shorter ceremony, and it worked wonderfully since we had already shifted the timeline because of the rain.

E and I kissed for the first time as Mr. & Mrs. while Hall & Oates You Make My Dreams Come True began playing. I’m getting goose bumps as I write this just thinking about how blissful the whole atmosphere felt.

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

I thankfully did not forget to grab my bouquet from my sister before leaving the platform (whoops, good thing we have rehearsals, right?!).

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

wedding part II

We headed back to the ranch house to await the rest of the wedding party and immediate family. Once guests cleared the seating, we’d all head back out for photos under the pagoda.

Little did we know a special surprise waited for us inside the house…

E and I actually shared a pre-first dance, first dance with a mariachi band playing celebratory tunes! My dad had worked with the ML coordinators to sneak them in. This made out for a pretty unique moment I’ll never forget.

wedding part II

wedding part II

Afterwards, we made our way back outside. Guests enjoyed cocktail hour as we snapped family photos. We had queso, chips, and salsa as the appetizer because E and I love them so much. They practically make up one of our food groups.

And because Texas.

wedding part II

wedding part II

Saying “I do” to Eric was everything I could’ve ever imagined and more.

I had a husband now (*screams*). He was/is my favorite human in this big ol’ galaxy. Now let’s PARTY.

wedding part II

*****

You guys. Still cannot believe that sun came out and everything went off seamlessly. If you helped orchestrate this whole thing and happen to be reading this, know we love you!

Writing out our big day has been so much fun. Come back and check out Part III next week – I’ll be sharing some dreamy photos Feather & Twine snapped of the wedding party crew as the sun set.

Pssst, some have already been shared on Insta – follow along and get a sneak peak!

Days By Day

wedding part I

I’m taking a deep breath as I sit here beginning to write about Eric and I’s big day. It seems like a big project because I’m so passionate about capturing the details, but I know having these memories written down will be so worth it.

My mind jumps from one moment to the next as I smile, laugh, and then tear up, all before smiling some more thinking about how it was truly my most favorite day ever!

E & I planned the whole celebration ourselves, with the support of some incredible vendors along the way! The party planner in me truly fell in love with the process. I know some couples say wedding planning was stressful or caused arguments, but even in planning a Texas wedding from Chicago, that was thankfully not the case for us.

wedding part I

So all that being said, to do the best day ever justice, I’ve decided a series of posts makes the most sense. Up first, Wedding Part I: Getting Ready + The First Look.

This day was a real life dream, and I so hope you enjoy reading about it as much I did writing it!

*****

{Getting Ready}

We got married just outside of Austin, in a small town called Dripping Springs. I originally grew up in the Houston area, and E is from Dallas. Since we met while attending UT, Austin was our place and right in the middle of it all.

On Wedding’s Eve, the girls and I stayed overnight at a hotel near our venue, where we did hair, make-up, and sipped mimosas all morning. The incredible Makenzi Laine helped some of us get all dolled up. Having her calming presence with me to start the day was a blessing. I was completely in love with my hair/make-up!

wedding part I

All week, the forecast kept switching between scattered showers and clouds – I had my fingers crossed the weather would cooperate. It rained a bit in the morning, which I was fine with (rain is good luck on your wedding day I hear!), but I hoped it’d go away once it was time to get this show moving.

When it was time to check in, we made our way to Memory Lane (ML). I can’t rave about this venue enough – every person there was so amazing and helpful throughout our planning. Our day was actually perfect, and largely in part because of them.

wedding part I

We wanted our venue to have everything in one place to avoid traveling between locations. ML had it all – a gorgeous outdoor ceremony site, next to a beautiful wooden reception hall, and right across the big ranch house we finished getting ready in. The house doubled as post-wedding accommodations for our groomsmen and bridesmaids.

The boys has spent the night in Austin and arrived first, heading to the groom’s suite attached to the house to get dressed. The ladies arrived next, dashing up to the second floor bridal suite to change and add finishing touches. Eric surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet awaiting our arrival.

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

I loved these getting ready moments. It was so fun to laugh with my girls and bounce around in our robes.

These beautiful ladies are my family, friends, and some of my biggest inspirations and supporters. To have them alongside me in these minutes leading up to our first look will forever be one of my happiest memories!

wedding part I

wedding part I

During this time, E and I read cards and opened gifts from each other. He had been eyeing a Daniel Wellington watch for sometime, and I knew it would be the perfect piece for our wedding day.

E gave me my first set of real pearl earrings years back. They’re blush and he had handpicked them in Hawaii. I knew he’d gotten a third one then as well, but we never really made plans for it. On my wedding day, the gift I opened was the pearl set in a gorgeous rose gold band.

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

After this, my mama and sister/MOH helped me get dressed. I opted to just change with everyone there, rather than walk out afterwards. I’m not one to be shy, and couldn’t bear to part from anyone!

I will forever treasure these special memories Feather & Twine (F&T) captured of them helping me slip into my dress and put on my jewelry. I’ve raved about Kelsey (last month’s #girlboss!) and Talon of F&T before – they’re beyond talented, funny, and felt like our long lost friends when we first met about a year ago at our engagement shoot.

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

And of course, E got all snazzy too! *still swooning over these photos*

wedding part I

wedding part I

{First Look}

It was finally time! E and I were back and forth in the beginning as to whether or not we wanted to see each other before the ceremony. After chatting more with Kelsey and Talon, we decided a first look was something we definitely wanted – I’m so thankful we did!

It ended up being one off our favorite, if not our favorite, parts of the whole day. Having fifteen minutes to ourselves (with F&T and David, our wonderful videographer, of course) to freak out about everything finally happening and to soak up all the emotions…there’s just not a moment that compares.

The weather was cooperating – the sky was overcast and the light was beautiful. Kelsey and I made our way side by side through the grass, and I approached E from the back, embracing him with the tightest hug just before the big reveal.

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

We laughed and talked and gushed over each other as our friends snapped away. I’ll never forget these feelings.

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

Eventually, clouds began to roll in and the sky began to turn more gray.

I’ll never forget how sweet and detailed Talon was, not wanting to stop David and Kelsey from documenting, but counting down the seconds to the very moment he knew it’d began to rain according to his phone! He was spot on, and quickly whipped out a big clear umbrella.

At this point, we’re all laughing and hurrying as gracefully as possible back up to the house. I’m so glad we’ve got some snaps from this. If you would’ve told me this was going to happen two days before the wedding, I would’ve been worried.

In that moment though, nothing could feel wrong.

wedding part I

{Counting Down to the Ceremony}

The rain began to come down hard. Our families and wedding party gathered in the big house, chatting and waiting to see if it would let up for the ceremony to start in a half hour.

Unfortunately, it didn’t. Guests began to arrive and the ML staff ushered them into the dry warmth of the gorgeous wooden reception hall.

Kelsey, our day-of ML coordinators, and I began to discuss how to proceed –

Do we move the ceremony inside? How much longer could we wait on the rain so that we could still have time for photos after? Would it even stop?

wedding part I

I had no clue how to predict the rain or to know what was best! I remember a brief moment feeling overwhelmed and saying “What do you recommend? I’ve never gotten married before…Wait, where’s Eric?? I need to ask him what he thinks!”

This was another moment I was really thankful E and I had seen each other already.

He was able to come up to the bridal suite (making a ridiculous dancing entrance the resulted in screams and cheers) to help sort everything out. We all talked more and set a time when we’d make the final call. If it was still raining, we’d move the ceremony into the reception hall.

wedding part I

wedding part I

wedding part I

Spirits were easily kept high with jokes, more pictures, and lots of chatter. I expected to feel stressed, but I felt so at peace with all my people around me.

I was marrying my best friend today! No matter what, it would continue to be the perfect day.

And then, in a matter of seconds, the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. Sun showered into the room and graced the scenery outside with warm light.

Everyone jumped up. Our coordinators gave the signal to wipe down the outside seating and get us all ready to go.

It was time. We were doing this, people!!

wedding part I

*****

Whew, I knew Part I would take some time to write up, but I’m smiling from ear to ear. I have this little diary of the day and I’m so happy to be sharing it with you. So, if you’re still with me, props to you, friend!

New around here and want more? You can read about our engagement in Paris and the story of how we met.

Can’t wait to share Part II with you…hint hint the ceremony may or may not have involved a double rainbow!

Days By Day

spring florals

Happy spring, you guys! It’s still chilly here in Chicago, but we’re rolling with the spring vibes because it’s officially day two.

I can’t talk about this season without instantly thinking of spring florals. While I love being bundled up in sweaters and blanket scarves (um, thank you Chitown winds), finding a good printed go-to is helping this seasonal transition feel right.

A recent girls’ trip to New Orleans was the perfect occasion to debut this cute floral swing top I had just found at Old Navy. It honestly feels as easy-breezy as it looks.

spring florals

spring florals

Florals might feel over done around this time of year, but you know what? You can wear whatever you want, so you feel it, go for it!

Old Navy has tons of pretty new blouses to usher in spring – a couple of my other faves here and here. In other words, I think I’ll be back for more.

Other must-haves on my list for strutting into spring? A brand new pair of casual kicks! I love my white converse. I had to get rid of my old pair after the San Fran rain finished them off, but it was only a couple weeks before I had a new set on my feet.

White kicks are classic, converse our classic.  It’s a win, win!

spring florals

Top | Sunglasses/Similar| Head Wrap (similar) | Jeans | Kicks

The best thing about a girls’ trip? Your closet easily doubles, or in my case, quadrupled – and you get to borrow crazy, cool shades like these.

What are your favorite places to shop fresh looks? Any spring florals I need to get in my closet? Would love for you to share!

Days By Day