reception

It’s here, it’s here…and wayyy overdue! I’ve finally finished blogging the final part of our wedding. Re-reading the details of this sweet day makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

We left off in Part III, where Eric and I + the best wedding party ever ventured into the peaceful field on our venue’s property for some of the dreamiest sunset photos in existence. (Want to catch up further back? I got you – Part I and Part II here.)

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You may remember I ended Part III with a little trivia regarding the 90s movie theme song we entered into the reception with, per the wedding party’s vote!

Hint was that a famous Chicago Bulls basketball player starred in the film…

Any guesses? Let’s dive into this party – find out below!

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We had of course spent too much time giggling and snapping photos in the field, so by the time we lined up outside the big wooden reception hall doors to be announced, our coordinators had to wrangle up our group of blissfully happy and silly friends.

I sometimes think the announcement of the wedding party, and everyone dancing in 2 by 2 can be awkward, but definitely not when your people are a pack of fun and weird humans.

Everyone paired up and coordinated their dance moves, the doors were propped open, and SPACE JAM boomed from the speakers. *cue excited cheers and childhood nostalgia*

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E and I may have decided to chest bump. We definitely did.

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I loved the way we had the reception house decorated. I wanted to weave in the blush and deep wine throughout, but keep an overall clean and natural feel by incorporating woods and metals throughout the space.

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We tried to incorporate unique spins on some of the classic wedding components too. Our guest book was actually a large black and white canvas of one of our engagement photos in downtown Austin. We had loved ones sign with a gold sharpie and this is probably our favorite piece of art hanging in our apartment!

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The seating chart was an old antique frame that we stapled chicken wire to (thanks sir at Home Depot for help us!). This is another cool piece we had shipped back to Chicago that we now have pictures displayed on.

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Our favors were heart shaped Mexican cinnamon sugar cookies. I grew up eating them in the Rio Grande Valley with my grandparents, so this was a really special little piece of south Texas for us. Koozies were also a solid last minute addition!

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We walked straight into our first dance to The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra. I’m not one who ever really thought about my wedding or planned it out growing up, but the one thing I did dream of for years was doing a first dance to this sweet song. Luckily, E is a Sinatra fan too, so it worked out nicely!

One of our favorite things to do is dance, so this was a really special moment to share together, singing along and laughing and twirling.

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Afterwards, my dad and I danced to I Loved Her First by Heartland, followed by E and his mama’s dance to You’ll Be in My Heart by Phil Collins. Gah, SO CUTE, right?!

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Then it was tacoooo time. We had a fajita buffet with all the fixings for our dinner because Tex-Mex is life. I remember people telling us you don’t usually get to eat at your own wedding, but we made it a priority. It wasn’t a full meal, but we weren’t going to order those tasty tacos and not get some of the goods!

So future brides, you totally can and should eat yours too. 🙂

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No one panic though, E and I literally ate a full tray of fajitas, rice, and beans at the end of the night that our incredible Memory Lane coordinators packed up for us. Honeymoon suite livin’ at it’s finest.

E and I cut our cakes next! I’ve learned that having a Groom’s cake is largely a southern tradition? Not until I started talking about ours, did I find myself explaining that back home it’s common to have a classic wedding cake, or the Bride’s cake, and a Groom’s cake that usually has a fun theme close to heart for the couple!

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For those that know my husband, it should come at know surprise the Groom’s cake was inspired by his love for our alma mater, The University of Texas. It was delicious dark chocolate cake with layers of fresh strawberries. The Bride’s cake was a tasty French vanilla with vanilla mousse filling. A huge thanks to Classic Cakes by Lori for these beauties!

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A funny little thing most guests probably never knew was that we had an extra French vanilla sheet cake in the reception kitchen that never made it to the floor. So we’re actually super sorry if you didn’t get a piece of cake haha, the venue crew never realized it was there!

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The good news? My family ate cake for days after. We even got some after the honeymoon, and there is still some for us to eat for our first anniversary since we hadn’t planned on saving any.

Speeches by our Maid of Honor and Best Man were next. My sister teared up during what was the sweetest and funniest toast I’ll ever hear. Eric’s brother killed the speech game too! I loved hearing their stories (some details may have been fabricated, *cough cough*, lookin’ at you P!) and jokes.

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The best surprise ever was when the two of them legit broke out into rehearsed song and dance. You guys. It was AMAZING. They wrote they’re own lyrics for a mashup of rap and pop jams, ending with my favorite Crazy in Love by Queen B, to which we all strutted across the dance floor – a tribute to a story my sister shared in her speech from our childhood.

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My parents shared a few sweet words and then it was time to get this dance floor going, y’all! I mentioned E and I are dancers, and the same goes for our family and friends!

Our wedding vendors actually told us afterwards they were so amazed that once everyone started, it never stopped. That usually there’s a moment when it’s a bit slower, but that our guests were just going the whole night. DJ Brian rocked.

Haha I truly wouldn’t have expected anything less, our people made us proud!

I remember for awhile Eric and I kept getting pulled in different directions to talk to others or take photos, as expected and of course we were so appreciative that we could see everyone, but at one point I turned to him and said “Ok, after this one, we have to go to the dance floor! We should be dancing!”

He immediately took me there, confirming what I already knew – that my husband rocks. Marry someone who pulls you onto dance floors, people.

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At one point, Crazy in Love came on again and everyone chanted so I would strut again. So there I went, strutting around to Beyonce with all my favorite people. It was definitely one of my top life moments ever because duh.

A personal touch for the dance floor was playing Go Cubs Go! in honor of the World Series win we had just a few days before we got married, and the UT fight song of course!

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We did the classic bouquet and garter tosses, and perhaps my favorite reception touch – had an open air photo booth in the corner printing out classic strips! I was beyond happy we had one, I just couldn’t go without it and loved how much fun everyone had in there.

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With our amazing photographers, Kelsey and Talon of Feather & Twine!

The whole night was amazing. E and I were blissfully happy. It truly was the best day ever. All we could’ve ever hoped for and more!

Sadly, the dancing had to eventually end. We had the happiest, brightest exit with sparklers though! It was like our personal fireworks send off, and it made for some pretty gorgeous photos.

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Our venue housing us + our wedding party for the night meant the party continued. I was really thankful for this time together since we knew it would be awhile before we saw some of these friends again!

So in summary, tacos + dance floor + photo booth + E = truly the best celebration ever! The whole night was all we could’ve ever hoped for and more. I’ll cherish these photos and details forever.

I love you, E. // 11.06.16

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*****

The next morning, we were up and at ’em early for an 8:00 am flight to Jamaica! Our honeymoon is a whole other adventure I’ve already written about here and here. If you’re looking for a beach getaway, cannot recommend Couples Swept Away enough!

Wow, my first post in quite awhile. It’s been a packed summer and I’ve missed blogging, friends. Capturing memories and sharing stories with our words is one of life’s simplest, yet sweetest, things – don’t ya think?

Stay tuned for some fun posts I’m working on! Happy Monday!

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perĂș

Eeek, you guys, E and I leave in less than ONE week for our trip to South America. Back in February, I announced our big international adventure for 2017 was going to be a trip to PerĂș to hike Machu Picchu, and now I can’t believe it’s almost here!

It is no secret that I strongly dislike packing, like very much dislike it. Packing is my enemy.

Poor E usually has to deal with my incredible indecisiveness and dance party breaks into the wee hours of the night before we leave for a trip, but I’m determined to be ready wayyy ahead of schedule this time.

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Me to my responsibilities as a packing llama: New phone, who dis? 

We fly out next Thursday, but I’m going to aim to have a majority of my packing done this weekend. *claps for self*

We’ll see. Wish me luck.

Regardless of what happens, I think I deserve brownie points, because we’re packing everything up in our Kelty Redwing 44 backpacks.

I looove this bag! Highly recommend it if you’re traveling abroad and want something that’s compact enough for international airlines (we had no problems using them as carry-ons), but spacious enough to fit all you’ll need.

After E and I graduated, we took these babies on a month long trip across Europe. I repeat, 30 DAYS – and they worked like a gem.

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They’re such good quality, and available for a solid price online right now. We just bought one as a gift for my sister. It’s truly a symbol of adventure to me.

All that being said, these bags bring back all sorts of happy memories (did you know we got engaged on that Europe trip??), and I’m excited to break them out again!

Two little items I’m excited to be packing this time…my new stackable wedding bands from Qalo! These flexible, fun alternatives have been perfect to wear when staying active on the beach or at the gym.

I love that they’ll be perfect for our hike – no worry of banging up my real bands or anything happening to it while traveling. E got one too!

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My last piece of news to share is that there are a ridiculous amount of adorable llama pics on the internet, FYI. Would you guys believe that when we were booking our hike with Alpaca Expeditions, I live chatted them to confirm we’d see llamas/alpacas on our trek because our hike description didn’t mention them, while others did…?

The answer was of course, yes. Hehe. I’m sure the person replying to me super enjoyed that. But hey, this is going to be my Emperor’s New Groove childhood dream come true!!

via Buzzfeed

Well, time I go back to googling packing lists in between my animal photo searches. Happy weekend, friends!

If you’ve got any PerĂș packing tips, comment away!

Days By Day

off the shoulder

It was toasty this past weekend, you guys! Well, at least by Chicago standards.

Not complaining though, because as much as I love fall and winter fashion, it feels good to show some skin and work on my tan! (I’ll forever be trying to beat my husband, Eric.)

I ran over to Old Navy last week for a workout top, and left with a few additional unplanned items –  including this fun off the shoulder piece!

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Photos by Benavides Photography

I was immediately drawn to this one because of how bright and beautiful the color is. It’s definitely not a shade I owned, and I 100% needed it in my life (um, bonus it’s on sale for less than $15 right now, people).

To be honest, the florals had me feeling like I belonged in Barcelona or Hawaii instead of that Chicago dressing room…*sigh* note to self: book that beach trip I keep talking about.

If this color isn’t your favorite, have no fear! Old Navy had a whole wall of patterns, and I’ve rounded up a few other favorites I’ve come across below, because I think what really makes the look are the major summer vibes this style gives.

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You can totally dress up off the shoulder tops with jeans and a cute pair of wedges, or wear it out and about for casual exploring with more laid back pieces. Same goes for dresses and rompers of this style!

I chose the latter this weekend, pairing my off the shoulder top with easy sandals (shout out Target’s shoe department, am I right?), old cut-offs (probably from a thrift store), and favorite cross body bag.

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Top | Shorts (Similar) | Sandals | Cross body

What are some of your summer style go-tos?? I want to hear!

In other news, E and I leave for PerĂș in just over a week, eeek! So while open toe booties are my ideal next purchase, I should probably hunt for the last of our packing list items instead…

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Days By Day

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

summertime in Chicago

Happy June, friends! AKA HAPPY SUMMER CHICAGO. Is there a more appropriate photo to represent this feeling than a movie in the park + rosé?

Well, fingers crossed, this beautiful mid-70 degree weather is here to stay.

I’m not gonna lie, y’all. May was tough, and that’s why I’ve been MIA these last few weeks. Eric and I had to go home unexpectedly for a series of unfortunate events, ranging from surgery to the loss of loved ones – the hardest being my family’s ten year old sweet pup, Gordo, to cancer.

If you’ve lost a pet before, than I know you know how it feels. There are just no words. They are true family members that grow up along side us.

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All that being said, the quality time with our families was so, so good and the break from everything else was much needed.

Now that we’re feeling recharged, it’s back to groovin’ and we are ready for summertime in Chicago! The people are out and about, ready to break out of their winter hibernation. It’s a pretty magical feeling – one that makes this city so special.

To celebrate this sweet new season around the corner, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite signs that it’s finally here in The Windy City.

{Paleteria Carts on the Beach} // Bring your cash folks! There’s nothing I love more on a warm Chicago day than hitting up the paleteria vendors on the beach. The authentic Mexican ice cream treats you can find are unbeatable and so delicious – my favorite are the cookies and cream popsicles!

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Spoiler alert: These treats can ruin exercise intentions, because sometimes you can’t help but stop for one. Oh, maybe that’s just me?

{Street Festivals} // To me, this is a quintessential sign of summertime in Chicago – street fests on street fests each week. Everyone has been locked up for 8 months, so now every weekend you can find multiple festivals happening across the city.

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From the best hot dog round up to traditional German celebrations, there’s always something to explore! The best parts? Festivals are often free and come with awesome live music.

Side note: Tuesday movies in the park might not technically count as festivals, but they’re in this same category of awesomeness for us!

{Beaches & Balls} // This one’s pretty straightforward – the warmer it gets, the more packed the beaches get. Our favorite way to spend a Saturday includes tunes, snacks, and back-to-back sand volleyball games.

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It’s a strange concept to be laying out on the sand and turning around to a skyline, but it sure is pretty! (Also, confirming this is actual footage from a ChiTown beach.)

{Legs} // Until this month, I literally don’t think I had shown my legs outside since October? Well, except when I desperately ran to the drug store next to us for a dessert craving.

You know when those dresses, shorts, and skirts start showing up all over town, it’s a good sign. And sometimes, you just have to wear them and freeze a little because mind > matter.

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{Happy Pups} // It’s a sad sight to see all the cold doggies outside freezing their little bootys off with the rest of us during the winter because they have no choice – they gotta do their business!

That being said, you an tell it’s a good day when all the dogs are out with big smiles instead of pet sweaters. Running in the park, wind in their hair – Chicago summer pups are really living their best lives.

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Honoring Gordo with a photo from him soaking up the sun on Fourth of July a few years back. I know he would’ve freakin’ loved summertime in this city.

Now, I’m hoping I totally didn’t just jinx us with all this talk! What are the key signs of summer where you live??

Days By Day

five years

Happy Monday, friends! No start of the week blues over here today, because it’s a special milestone for Eric and I. We’re celebrating five years together and we’re pretty excited about it.

This past Saturday also marked six months of marriage, so I guess you could say the past few days have been full of all the extra giddy feels.

E and I are by no means relationship experts, but after reflecting on these five years, we couldn’t help but think back on all that we’ve learned. The more we got to chatting, the more I realized there were a solid five lessons we were most passionate about when it came to our relationship.

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Since I’m always one for learning and growing, it was important to me to take time to reflect and share these nuggets E and I hold strong to.

So here they are folks, our five lessons for five years!

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{Celebrate the little stuff.}

I know some people might be chuckling at the thought of us making a big deal out of six months of marriage, but hey, that’s exciting to us! Half-way through our first year?! Time flies and we’re loving every minute of it.

My whole point here is even if it might be a smaller milestone, or a less significant event, always find reasons to celebrate! An anniversary (no matter how long), pretending to be adults with your very own phone plan, heck, even having enough willpower to only eat out once during the work week…if it’s a big deal to you, then it’s worth calling out.

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Our go-to is usually the donut shop at our corner, picking up a bottle of wine for dinner at home, or a good ol’ mini dance party. The point is take a second to cheer about the little stuff – it keeps life fun and exciting!

{Having different opinions is a good thing.}

E and I don’t agree on everything. We have different view points on a lot of things and I think that’s healthy. It brings fresh perspectives to our conversations and challenges us to learn from each other. It also encourages a healthy dose of respect.

I think being generally aligned in core beliefs is always a good thing, but thinking differently helps us grow and stay open minded.

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{Work towards your goals together and encourage each other.}

This goes for individual goals and mutual ones. I’m passionate about writing and blogging. Eric has really dived into his love for photography this year. We both get really excited in cheering each other on as we pursue these hobbies – and we keep each other accountable in not giving up.

This could look like us both heading to a coffee shop in the evening to knock out some posts or editing, giving one another honest feedback, or just reminding each other that we are kicking butt and making progress when we feel discouraged.

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All this applies to our mutual goals too. E and I want to move abroad in a few years. We would love to have our own business one day and/or be able to work from wherever our adventures might take us. We know these things take time and will challenge us, but how cool that we can work towards them as a team??

{You should always be “dating.”}

Even though we’re married, we still consider ourselves to be dating.

Dating, to me, means always striving to learn more about each other – after all, we’re still changing and growing with age. It means it’s important to carve out time for just us, without distractions or stresses. It means we genuinely love spending time together, and making each other feel noticed and cherished.

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Whether it’s planning special date nights that are more than just a dinner out, surprising each other with new adventures, or sharing sweet compliments – keeping the dating mindset alive is something we strive to do.

{Make each other the priority.}

This one’s pretty straight forward. Aside from our relationship with God, E and I’s number one priority is the other person. No matter what. Period.

As husband and wife, we’re committed to taking care of each other. We know if our relationship isn’t solid, than the other things around us will suffer. We make the choice daily to love the other unconditionally and invest in our relationship. In turn, we can love others well and focus on our other priorities together.

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***

I’m currently sitting across from E, dressed in a red plaid button up and a backwards Cubs hat, and thinking about how freakin’ awesome (and handsome) he is. Thankful for this human and the fact that I’m the lucky lady who gets to spend forever with him.

Have your own relationship lessons to share?? I’d love to hear ’em! As I said, always learning and growing – that’s my jam.

Days By Day