engageaversary

You guys. This moment was one year ago. I cannot believe it – my heart is still fluttering.

Today marks Eric and I’s Engageaversary! Is that even a word? I don’t know. Who cares! Any reason to celebrate, am I right??

But seriously you guys. Eric did an I N C R E D I B L E job planning this sweet surprise. I literally had no idea that he was going to propose on this trip, let alone propose in front of the Eiffel Tower.

engageaversary

Sure, we had talked about it a few months before. We knew we loved each other more than we ever thought we could love another human. We knew there was no one else we wanted to eat chips and salsa with, or run up to meet every dog in sight with, or spend hours upon hours laughing away at dumb inside jokes with. We knew we’d be getting married sometime in the next couple years, but I thought our engagement would happen towards the end of 2015 to be honest.

Once we announced it, it felt like everyone else knew though – so a big round of applause to family and friends who kept it a secret! That was one of my favorite parts post-engagement actually, hearing from some loved ones gush about how excited they were and couldn’t wait to celebrate with us now that the cat was out of the bag.

engageaversary

We’ve been so fortunate to have a wonderful engagement season of life. From traveling, to the move to Chicago, to starting real jobs, to figuring out this “adult” thing together – all while working to plan a special celebration of our love – has truly been a blessing. It’ll be just over a year and a half by the time we get married, and for us, the long engagement has been 100% the best.

engageaversary

I’ve blogged all about this incredible day and it’s one of my favorite posts ever. Did you know I had a dream the night before that we got engaged?? Crazy. Or that we were sipping champagne, as I gazed up at the Eiffel Tower for the first time ever in complete awe, just moments before? Or that the first guy we asked to take a picture of us didn’t know how to hold a camera straight…and the guy that captured the actual moment was a total rando??

I’d love to share all these details and more with you, because they mark one of the happiest moments of my life – check out the story right here! And if you might be new around here and are wondering what the heck is going on, you can check out our story too.

engageaversary

I get to marry my best friend in just a little over four months and I can’t freakin’ wait. Thankful for today, and the sweet reminder it brings of that blissful day in Paris one year ago.

Days By Day

plan a wedding

“How the heck are we were going to plan a wedding, let alone plan a wedding from states away?”

That was easily one of the first questions that popped into Eric and I’s head once we had selected our venue, but were packed up and jet-setting across the country to settle into our new lives, states away from where were to get married…

I by no means consider myself a wedding planning expert, but I do think we’ve managed to do incredibly well checking things off our list for the big day in Texas, all the way from The Windy City. I’m beyond thankful for this, it’s definitely been a fun learning experience!

That being said, it does come with challenges, so I thought I’d share some tid-bits I’ve picked up along the way that might be of help to those who are currently in similar situations, or could be in the future

  • Consider a long engagement // I don’t think there’s any perfect, cookie cutter length of time to be engaged. A lot of factors go into how long this period should ultimately be – i.e. location, budget, etc. – but for us, erring on the side of a longer engagement has been THE BEST. Eric and I have been engaged for ten months now, and it’ll be just over a year and a half by the time we get married.

plan a wedding

One reason I’m such an advocate for a longer engagement, especially in a situation like ours, is that we have truly been able to just enjoy this sweet chapter of time in our lives, without feeling rushed. We had time to celebrate before diving into planning. It’s also given us the opportunity to continue to do so throughout the process, all the while check things off bit by bit.  Having plenty of time to plan for days off work and periodic trips back home for events like Bridal Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Weekend’s, and lots of vendor appointments has also been so nice. Lastly, being new to this whole wedding planning thing, it’s given us time to learn with a lot of research and questions, so that we can make sure we are making informed decisions that we’re truly happy with!

Like I said, there’s no perfect time, and every couple is different, but we have loved our long engagement.

  • Take time to prioritize and research. // The to-do list can seem overwhelming, especially if you feel like some of your go-to people are far away, but you honestly just have to break it down into manageable steps in chronological order. Once you can visualize priorities for 12 months away versus 5 months away, you realize there’s stuff you don’t needed fully think through just yet. When you know what item you’re looking to check off your list next, put in the time and effort to read reviews on sites like Wedding Wire or The Knot, even Yelp, so that you can get a variety of insight. Your vendors are also SO MUCH HELP here. They are the industry experts and can point you in the right direction when you feel unsure.
  • Don’t be afraid to call // Seeing as you can’t meet in-person for all first appointments from another city, the most convenient next approach is to shoot an email. This totally makes sense, but I’m also a caller. Eric can tell you. I also feel like long distance situations sometimes require more background info than I’d prefer to write out.

A perk to phone calls, especially with people you might be signing a contract to work with for such an important event, is that the relationship instantly becomes much more personable when you can actually speak to the other person and gauge character! You can hear the inflections in their voice, you get to elaborate on points you’re both relating on, or they can jump in with immediate clarification when needed. Even when email has been a first step, I’ve made sure to reach out on the phone to make a connection.

  • It’s all about teamwork // Eric is doing so much with me in all of this planning. I hear about Bride’s doing it all on their own, and fiances being uninvolved, and I just can’t imagine. Like I said earlier, every couple is different, so certain situations might make that the necessary case! Thankfully for me though, Eric has been there every step of the way, making it 1000% less stressful since I’m probably the world’s most indecisive human. We make a killer team,  and tackling our wedding to-dos has been such a cool way to see our partnership in action.

I have to give a shout out to my awesome mama, sister, mother-in-law, and bridesmaids as well! Even scattered across the country, group texts and FaceTimes keep me feeling so connected and supported. Now that most of the big reception decisions are checked off, I’m excited to work with them on all the fun leading up to it. 🙂

  • Pinterest & Google Docs are your BFFs // Oh my gosh, y’all. I was the most out of the loop girl and hardly used Pinterest before planning a wedding, but the help you get from here is so real. I can’t imagine planning without it. Wedding planning timelines, actual wedding timelines, color palette inspiration, etc. – Pinterest is the real MVP. You can check out my wedding board here. It’s definitely been the first place I’ve gone when I’ve had a specific vision in mind and needed a visual for.

The master Google doc spreadsheet to keep track of budget, payment schedules, guest lists, etc. was Eric’s idea actually. He loves crunching numbers and the crazy organization Excel let’s him accomplish, in true engineer fashion. This has been a great tool that has kept everything so visually easy to keep track of. See an example of our guest list sheet below.

how to plan a wedding from far away

Overall, the thing I’ve worked to keep top of mind is to not stress or worry more than necessary, because what good does that do? Have fun with it, and know that with all else going on in life, you’re doing our best – that’s most important!

If you’ve got more tips on how to plan a wedding states, even countries, away – I wanna hear ‘em. 🙂

Days By Day

days by day

Happy February, friends! (How is that possible already?) Now bare with me as I revert back to 2015 for a very delayed reflection that was still super important to me I get down, even if just for my own memories.

January always holds twice the newness for me, due to my birthday that happens just a couple weeks after the New Year. With 2015, and now twenty-two years recently behind me, I figured a brief look at last year was still appropriate.

2015 was a year of self-discovery and some of the best moments in my life to date. There were big wins, big challenges, and big changes. I look back on all that happened and can’t help but smile – not because every single moment was plain peachy (even though lots were), but because now being on the other side of it all, I can see how much I’ve grown. I can see how those around me have grown. I can see how how things work out as they should through God’s plans that he has carefully and lovingly written out for us.

Taking time to acknowledge our hardships is important to me, because that’s life, and our happy-go-lucky Instagram posts don’t really give anyone a full picture. At the same time though, once I acknowledge these moments, I try really hard to grow from them and shift focus back to those happy-go-lucky, rose colored things – they are really what make our worlds go ‘round.

And with all this being said, I’m finishing this reflection (told ya it was brief) with a list of some of my favorite and defining events of 2015 –

Graduating // I’m not going to say my four years at The University of Texas are going to be the best years of my life, because with all the love, dreams, and adventures I’ve got within and around me, I know that can’t be true. That being said, those four years were pretty darn amazing. Meeting my best friends, my future husband, conquering projects we thought would end us, getting exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking that made me smarter…the list goes on.

graduation days by day

Traveling Abroad // Man, this was on my list F O R E V E R – and it was just as magical as I hoped it would be. 28 days, 4 countries, 5 cities. If you want to grow a lot in a little bit of time, travel. There’s just no better answer. A big goal of mine is to get the rest of this trip on the blog by May. Some highlights included learning a little bit of French, drinking a lot of wine, indulging in my love for history, and living out of a backpack. Oh and number three I guess…

days by day

Getting Engaged // I’ll hold this whole moment in my heart forever. I’m so glad that one of the first things I did when we returned from Europe was document this story. Eric and I got engaged in front of the Eiffel Tower on our first full day in Paris, halfway through our journey, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We’ve taught each other a lot, and I couldn’t imagine a better person to grow, love, and adventure with. Now counting down to the big day (11.6.16) and pretending we know how to plan weddings.

engagement days by day

Moving to Chicago // Eric and I have talked about how this is one of the best decisions we could have ever made multiple times. We love that amongst our family and friends, Chicago is our thing, and they’ve been so supportive of our big move. Just as wonderful has been settling in over these last several months, and making friends that have become our family here. Safe to say we love this city and the growth it’s bringing us.

chicago days by day

Vegas Girls Trip // I can have a more fun, less life changing one on the list, right?? Even though this trip was life changing in the fact that a getaway with the girlfriends is SO good for the soul, am I right ladies? Three dear friends and I jetted off to Las Vegas for a few days and lived like celebrities – limos and penthouses and dancing until the wee hours of the night were involved. It was fabulous and it just might happen again this year.

vegas days by day

I already know I’ll have some big moments coming out of this year and I’m pumped about them – now back to 2016!

Days By Day

engaged in paris

I am so excited to be sharing this special post on the blog today! How could I not be?? I know I had said I’d be blogging our trip from the beginning, but after many requests and just being so ready to write about our big moment, I decided I’d be taking a little detour to Paris first. Eric planned the absolute perfect engagement and I am so happy to not only be sharing it with everyone, but also preserving the moment for myself.

It happened on our first full day in Paris, and the craziest part of it all might be that I actually had a dream that we got engaged that very night before it really happened. Crazy, right?! I can’t remember the exact setting, but I know it definitely wasn’t the Eiffel Tower. That morning as Eric and I made the transition from the hostel we stayed at for a night to the first airbnb with a killer view we had booked for the week, I told him all about it. Then of course he shared a dream he supposedly had about zombies or monsters or something, a typical boy dream of sorts. And the whole time, even directly after I mentioned my dream, he didn’t flinch or show or a single sign! I look back now and I’m amazed.

After settling into the airbnb, we set out to the market across the street to pick out a bottle of wine and some sandwiches because I really, reallyyyy wanted to have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower. I had been talking about having one since we left America. (Fun fact: Wine is cheaper than water in Paris. Oh that leads me to – is it time to go back yet?) Later, after the engagement happened, Eric told me he thought our picnic would be a day or two later in the week, but when he saw that I was ready to go and see the landmark I had always dreamed of, he knew he’d be doing it that first day – I guess there was some surprise in it for Eric too!

We picked up a bottle of champagne at the market and a couple of panini (what they call sandwiches in Paris I learned), and did the short walk to Eiffel Tower Park. There is a grassy area on each side of the tower. We sat down to eat on the smaller side next to a fountain area. I was in total awe the whole time of how beautiful the whole scene was! Once we finished our panini, and the bottle of champagne, a gentleman asked if I could take a photo of him and his family, and I asked if he would take one of us after. The funny thing was that he took the photos of us crooked…it was the weirdest thing! At first we thought it was a joke, but once we saw his little boy take a photo that way too, we realized it might just be how they thought regular photos are done.

engaged in paris

We thanked the man for the photos, I took a few more of his family, and then Eric and I picked up our trash to keep moving. We laughed reflecting back on how odd the whole crooked photo thing was, and snapped some more photos ourselves as we crossed a bridge that would lead us to pass right under the tower, and onto the much larger park area on the other side of it. Little did I know, we were snapping these pictures just moments before he’d be popping the question.

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

Once we walked far back enough in the larger field, we decided we wanted a better photo together in front of the tower…so I guess those crooked photos worked in Eric’s favor – they helped his case in making sure we posed for more. When we had asked for photos together thus far, I had just been giving trustworthy looking people my phone, instead of the nice Nikon camera we had with us. I didn’t want anyone to steal it of course, but the Nikon was also proving to be intimidating to people who weren’t really sure how to use it. This time Eric suggested we give the Nikon to a nice looking couple that was sitting down with their own picnic and Nikon camera at their side. I didn’t want to interrupt them since they looked like they were in their own moment, but Eric insisted.

I asked, and told the couple I could take a photo of them together after as well, and the kind man said of course. So I turn around, and Eric is fumbling around in the daypack we had, and I’m saying, “Hurry Eric! He said he could do it!” and waving around, because I don’t like to inconvenience people and I didn’t want to take up the couple’s time with waiting on us.

Then, it all happened so fast in a perfect moment. Eric is suddenly turning around with a box in his hand. He gets down ON ONE KNEE, and I’m thinking WHAT. My first words, you guys, were literally, “ERIC, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” And I’m like smiling as big as humanly possible, and so as he, and I’m covering my mouth, and alternating between “what” and “ohmygosh,” and he says his adorable quick little speech. Then, I’m still trying to process everything and he stands up and goes – “Is that a yes?” – as we both laugh and I go “YES OF COURSE!”

We hug for awhile and I’m saying “I can’t believe it” and just totally gushing over the ring because it is absolutely, amazingly gorgeous. This family behind us is all smiles and taking photos, and we here a lady shout out, “OH MY GOD CONGRATS!”  All the while that random kind sir over there is snapping away some great pics! Seriously, that couple was totally random. I can only imagine what was going through his mind as he got all set up and thought he was taking a normal couple’s photo, and all of a sudden a freakin’ engagement is happening through the lens before his eyes! He’s probably like, “um so can I add this to my portfolio?” I wish we had their contact info, we owe it to him – he did an amazing job!

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

engaged in paris

Afterwards, I kept my offer, and was fumbling around with their camera, trying to calm my giddiness, so I could take their shot in front of the tower. We thanked them, walked off a little from the field, and stopped to say a prayer, thanking God for this perfect moment and each other. It was only after this, when Eric told me how he asked my dad for his blessing and what a great conversation they had – did my eyes start to water a little. No full on tears though. Just endless smiles and hugs and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for this wonderful man.

We continued on to our next stop of the afternoon, the Arc de Triomphe, but did stop on the way to enjoy a celebratory glass of wine! That night we skyped our families and some close friends. It was honestly the most perfect day and I couldn’t feel more thankful for all the support we have received from everyone, and the fact that I get to spend my happily ever after with Eric!

engaged in paris

Whew, typing that out ended up a bit longer than expected, but it was completely worth it – thanks for reading, friends! I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of our trip throughout the next couple of months, in between all the other usual blog shenanigans. This week though, I think I’ll be sharing our first few days abroad in Dublin. 🙂

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First photo back in the States!

First photo back in the States!

A week ago, Eric and I returned from our amazing month long trip abroad! It was absolutely wonderful. Never have I learned so much about different people, cultures, languages, and histories in such a short amount of time. All the adventuring and exploring had us totally in our element.

While I had so badly hoped to do a few posts while traveling, temperamental wifi connections and being on-the-go made it hard. That being said, I now have so many photos to post and places to write about – I can’t wait to share with you all! We had so many great experiences, so I will totally be sharing specific restaurants to check out or tips for certain areas. Reading up on all those definitely helped us make our trip the perfect vacation that it turned out to be, so I am happy to pass along what little expertise I can!

In addition to the probably record number of pains au chocolat (chocolate crossiants) we consumed in Paris, our biggest news from the trip is that Eric and I are now engaged! He will now forever be the queso to my chips and I am so happy to call him my fiancé. As some of you may have seen on my social media, he did it in front of the Eiffel Tower and it was pretty perfect if I do say so myself! More of the story to come of course. 🙂

You’ll have to be patient with me this month as I work through sharing our travel adventures and fight my arch nemesis of PACKING as I prepare for the big move to Chicago happening in early August.  I’m so excited to blog about our adventures though – it’ll be a virtual scrapbook that we get to share with everyone.

For now, here is one favorite photos from each stop of our trip:

Guinness Storehouse tour - Dublin, Ireland.

Guinness Storehouse tour – Dublin, Ireland.

Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace - London, England.

Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace – London, England.

The Heineken Experience // Eric's 23rd Birthday - Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The Heineken Experience // Eric’s 23rd Birthday – Amsterdam, The Netherland

Leaving our mark at Pont de l'Archevêché - aka The Love Lock Bridge - as a newly engaged couple - Paris, France.

Leaving our mark at Pont de l’Archevêché – aka The Love Lock Bridge – as a newly engaged couple – Paris, France.

La Boqueria

La Boqueria Market – Barcelona, Spain.

Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid) - Madrid, Spain.

Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid) – Madrid, Spain.

Cliffs of Moher - County Claire, Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher – County Claire, Ireland.

Hope everyone has been having a wonderful summer and had a great 4th of July! The first European city I’ll be writing about? The first stop in our travels – Dublin, Ireland.

Cheers! (I’m still using European lingo because I’m pretending the trip isn’t over…)

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