“Blind” First Look and Wedding Gifts (wedding recap #4)

I only have a few days left before celebrating our one year anniversary and these wedding recaps may have to spread out after June 2 as I have more to share and document for memory’s sake. So if you’re not one for wedding and sentimental talk this week may not be your week at my blog, or ever really since I’m the most sentimental person I know.

I’ve shared my wedding theme and details, my dress and number one wedding dress advice, and my last wedding post recapped my rehearsal day, mini disaster and all. Today I wanted to talk about the moments leading up to when we said “I Do”. 

Sunday June 2, 2013. I woke up bright and early on my wedding day, a ball of nerves. I was worried about the weather above all else. There was a 85% chance that it was going to rain. My entire wedding was outside….

Me, the bridesmaids, and our moms all went to the salon at 9:00 a.m. to start the beautification process. In between checking the weather on my phone every 5 minutes, I got my hair done and my air brush make up applied and sipped Mimosas. As our wedding was on a Sunday we had the entire salon, which was a Victorian mansion, to ourselves. It was a lot of fun.

wedding day salon prep   wedding prep abla
wedding prep salon
wedding day prep salon with moh
As we drove to the venue it started to sprinkle, just a tiny bit. I crossed my fingers that this was all the rain that would be happening that day. 

At the venue we girls quickly ate our lunch and then started to get dressed. All 5 bridesmaids and my mom and Ryan’s mom got dressed in about twenty minutes.

gettting ready 

getting ready
Then it was my turn. It took about 30 minutes to get three people to strap me into my gown. After doing some final touches we ventured outside to take some fun bridesmaid photos.

getting dressed wedding

Luckily no rain yet! I tried to focus on everything that was going on, but everything was so overwhelming, I just kept smiling full force, through my nerves. 

After getting some gorgeous bridesmaid photos we were ushered inside and sequestered into the “bride’s house” on the property. (There was a bride’s house and a groom’s house on the property, very cool.) Ryan and the groomsmen were arriving soon and we had to be out of sight to avoid the faux pas of Ryan seeing me before the ceremony. (I wanted to follow all the traditional rules). 

We poured some Mimosas and I tried to relax while we waited. Weddings are a lot like holidays, a lot of rushing around to just sit and wait. And be anxious. 

mimosas right before the wedding

After I practiced my vows, had some girl talk, and checked the weather five hundred more times, Ryan’s Dad came and escorted me outside for a special pre ceremony meeting with Ryan, where we wouldn’t actually see each other.

Since we decided to follow tradition and not see each other before the ceremony, we found a way to have a romantic rendezvous where we could hold hands, exchange love notes, and give each other that little extra piece of private encouragement before saying “I Do” in front of everyone. We were both highly nervous, not about our commitment, but about being the center of attention. 

The “blind” first look was perfect for us.

blind first look wedding
Ryan’s normally gruff and non sentimental father tenderly walked me up a hill toward one of the barns on the farm. Ryan was hidden away inside of the barn while the photographer set me up on one side of the large barn door. Once I was situated, Ryan quietly made is way out of the barn and to his side of the door. I blindly reached my hand over and we gave each other an encouraging squeeze.

I felt his energy and his love and after all of the stress of the day and worry about the weather, I was instantly reminded that this was what it was all about. We exchanged our notes, shed some tears, and had a perfect moment. 

Our awesome photographer caught the entire experience on film. 


Ryan and I then went back to our separate houses and finished any last wedding prep. During this time my maid of honor delivered my wedding gift to Ryan and Ryan’s best man delivered Ryan’s gift to me. Wedding gifts are just one of those  traditions that have lately gotten way out of control. When we first started wedding planning we decided that our vows and commitment were gift enough (also the honeymoon!). But we still wanted to exchange heart-felt gifts that were under $40 each. 

Ryan gifted me an adorable necklace with a heart and key pendant that has an engraving that says “My Heart Is Locked To All But You”.

wedding gift

wedding day gift

I gifted Ryan and pocket watch engraved with “I Will Love You Til The End of Time” as well as a journal that I had kept over the last three-month. In the journal I had written Ryan a letter/entry for every day from March 1 – June 2.

wedding gift journal

groom gift pocket watch

They were both perfect.

As I gushed over the thoughtfulness of my husband, my friends alerted me to the fact that the string quartet had started to play and the guests were finding their seats.

bride checking on guests
It was time to go. I was going to be getting married in the next hour! The sun was shining and there was no rain. We were going to make it through the ceremony! We weren’t going to have to scramble and move everything inside the tent. Thank goodness!

I had to remind myself to breathe as my mom and maid of honor helped me down the stairs.

My mom and I had a final moment together before she was whisked off to start her walk down the aisle with her father. We shed some light tears over the fact I was wearing the necklace my Nanny (her mother) gave me. It was a delicate gold chain with 5 pearls. She gave me one pearl of each year of my life, she passed when I was 6. We were both wishing she was there.

wedding day necklace mother and daugher
After she left my dad arrived and I held on tightly to his hand.  The day we had been waiting for since December, and since I was a little girl was happening. (also the sun was shining and there was not a drop of rain!). Let’s do this! 

…to be continued. 

xoxo Katie

5 Tips To Stay Stress Free While Wedding Planning

Wedding season is officially upon us! Exactly one year ago I was in a constant mode of anxiety and excitement, jumping through many hoops and putting out many fires. Yes, last May I was deep in the final stages of wedding planning. As I survived and enjoyed a very lovely and beautiful wedding day, I thought I’d share some tips with brides to be on how to stay calm and less stressed in the weeks leading up to your wedding day.

There’s no doubt that the time surrounding a woman’s wedding day is equally one of the most stressful and exciting times in her life. After a quick 6-month engagement, my husband and I got married last June. It was a beautiful day but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I endured my fair share of stress and anxiety throughout those 6 months.

Stress and bride are two words that inevitably go together. No matter how carefully you plan or how organized you are, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. You feel like you’re riding an endless emotional rollercoaster as you deal with the stress and the pressure from vendors, money, family, the wedding party, and all of the upcoming change.

Here are 5 tips to help brides stay stress free during wedding planning:

1. Learn To Delegate Tasks
Weddings take A LOT of work. Do not feel like you have to take it all on by yourself. This was hard for me. Too often I felt like no one else would do it as good as me or that I’d be bothering people by asking them to help. Wrong and wrong! Once I got over it, I realized a lot of people were willing to help.
Split up tasks and delegate small jobs to bridesmaids, your fiancé, family, and other friends. They’ll be happy to be a part of executing your big day!

2. Schedule Date Nights (where no wedding talk is allowed)
Be sure to schedule in some alone time for you and your fiancé. Go out, have fun, let loose, and force yourself to not talk about the wedding. This will help the two of you to stay connected and learn to lean on each other – remember, the big day is about the two of you and the celebration of your life long commitment and love for each other! It’s supposed to be fun!

3. Get Organized!
This may sound like a given, but being truly organized with to-do lists and spreadsheets will help you remain put together and not question if you are forgetting anything important. Even if you hate lists – now is the time to start making them! There are hundreds of tasks, items to remember, and budgets to make. I found it helpful to break down the wedding day tasks into categories and make separate folders with their own lists and spreadsheets for each category. Think: Caterer, Florists, Decorations, Music, Wedding Party etc. This helps to not feel so overwhelmed by the magnitude of things to do.

4. Take Care Of Yourself
Schedule some “me time” and be sure to use it to relax and take care of yourself. Continue to exercise and eat healthy, book a massage, shop for the honeymoon, and get enough sleep. Do any activity that makes you feel relaxed and human. It’s easy to lose yourself amidst all of the stress.

5. Lastly, remember, only you will know if something little goes awry
I get it; I worried painfully about every last detail. I spent so much time designing and selecting every element of my wedding – from the flowers, to the centerpieces, to the escort cards, to the tuxes and dresses. Panic attacks woke me up in the middle of the night on a regular basis. The idea of one of my table settings to turn out not exactly as I imagined drove me mad.

In all honesty, no one else will ever notice or care if something small goes wrong. People are there to witness your love and to enjoy a good party. At the end of the day no one will remember most of the small details.

I nearly died when I discovered our tux rental place had messed up our order and did not have enough of the blush ties I wanted each of the groomsmen to wear. Tears were shed. In the end, the groomsmen wore cream ties and looked just as lovely.

People are going to remember how much of a good time they had and how beautiful you looked, not what shade of white paper the table settings were printed on.

Your wedding day is a day set aside to celebrate you and your love. Once you get as organized as you can, try not to sweat the small stuff and to enjoy every moment. A tremendous amount of pressure is put on weddings, but it’s only one day out of your entire life. The day is going to go by in the blink of an eye, be present in the moment and enjoy the specialness of the day.

wedding abla

This post was originally published on Married To The Game

xoxo Katie


The Day Before the Big Day

rehearsal day katie and ryan wedding

Oh my, how time flies. I can’t believe that we are approaching our one year wedding anniversary in just a little over a month. I promised myself that I would do a total recap of our wedding and I’ve only managed to give a one or two peaks into the beautiful day. 

But back to the wedding.  I love all wedding related topics – even a year after my planning is complete, I can be found going gaga over centerpieces, stationary, and stalking other people’s wedding photos. So other wedding fanatics out there, I hope you find entertainment in my recap. Otherwise, it will be a nice way for me to remember every element of June 2, 2013. 

The one thing I love about this blog is that it serves as a lovely digital photo album, a time piece for me to look back on in the years ahead for not only me but for our future children. I’m sure this blog will exist as a source of giggles and a way to make fun of their dear old mom while also showing them my true heart.

So, with that introduction, let me tell you about the day before our big day, otherwise known as the Rehearsal Day. 

Ryan and I woke up on Saturday June 1 with more nervousness than excitement. The wedding weekend was finally here! All the details and all the work we had been slaving over was finally coming to fruition! We were to be at the wedding venue at 10 for the rehearsal and to run through last-minute items with the venue. 

I was a nervous wreck. I can honestly say that I was more nervous on Saturday than I was on the actual wedding day on Sunday. I was nervous that none of the wedding party was going to be on time. I was worried that the terrible heat wave was going to put people in grumpy moods. I was worried people were going to be complaining about things. I was worried the musicians weren’t going to show. I was mostly worried about other people. It took me nearly all day to realize I should only be worrying about myself and Ryan. 

And of course, everything at the rehearsal went fine. Everyone was on time. Everyone was smiling. And some umbrellas and endless bottles of water helped the heat situation. I made these helpful schedules detailing the wedding weekend events in case anyone forgot anything or needed addresses or phone numbers.

wedding weekend schedule abla

I also pulled my bridezilla card and declared the next 48 hours to be complain free. (gotta use my powers for good, right?!)

Everything was happening so quickly. I had barely hugged my out-of-town bridesmaids hello before I found myself holding my dad’s hand and being directed at how to walk down the aisle. 

Cue the tears. I squeezed his hand and looked into his tear filled eyes and listened as he said, “ok, let’s do this!” Because my dad is the most adorable dad ever, we had, on his insistence, practiced our “walk”. Through happy tears, we did our walk down the aisle while I held my lovely bouquet made from ribbons from the packages received at my bridal shower. I forgot about everyone else and just focussed on my dad and Ryan. This was happening. 

wedding rehearsal with dad
hot wedding rehearsal
Rehearsal 1 Soon the rehearsal was over. The groomsmen and the bridesmaids said our goodbyes and went out separate ways. The men went to get their tuxes while the girls went to get their nails done. We’d meet up again later at night for the rehearsal dinner. It was fun time!

After getting manis and pedis all my bridesmaids and my mom had a lovely lunch together. While I was happily sipping on my mimosa and chatting with the girls my mom got THE phone call. As she sat directly across the table from me, she nervously answered the phone with, “What’s wrong Ryan.” 

I was in panic mode instantly. Why was Ryan calling my mom and not me? What could be wrong? Is he having cold feet? Did something terrible happen?

Turns out that our tuxedo rental company completely screwed up our order. Months earlier, in February we had spent an entire day driving around town selecting the tuxes. We settled on a grey suit with lovely blush ties. The colors looked heavenly together.

When the groomsmen arrived to pick up their suits. They were all given baby blue ties. Baby blue! A color that is not remotely close to the pale blush color we had carefully selected. They tried to pass off an awful bubblegum pink tie to Ryan. He was calling my mom to see if this was okay. I quickly stole the phone and ran into the hallway. I proceed to yell and cry. How couldn’t something this big go wrong in their systems? Here I was crying to my husband the day before my wedding. Over ties.

What made me the most upset was the complete blase attitude the tux company had over the entire situation. Yes, in the scheme of things, ties are not a big deal. But this is a company that is in the wedding business, they know all the stress, and time, and not to mention money that goes into every detail. After a few back and forth phone calls it was discovered that the suit company had 3 blush ties that we could use. We decided that Ryan, my dad, and Ryan’s dad would wear the blush ties and all the other men would wear ivory ties. In the end, no one but us would know the difference. 

The show must go on. I told myself that if this was the worst thing that happened then it wasn’t so bad. 

After our interrupted lunch we headed back to my house to get freshened up before the rehearsal dinner. It was a lovely evening full of fun toasts and gifts. We gave the groomsmen fun mustache beer mugs and I gifted the bridesmaids with the jewelry that they would be wearing at the wedding. I gifted the mothers with their own special jewelry. Everyone enjoyed winding down with drinks and telling old stories. I loved having this last intimate meal to celebrate with my closest friends and family before the big day. 

rehearsal dinner walsh family
bridesmaids at rehearsal

groomsmen rehearsal

dad and mom at rehearsal dinner

Ryan and I decided to hold with tradition and to not sleep in the same house or see each other before the wedding. He went and spent that night at the hotel that his parents were staying in while I went back to our house for a sleepover with some of my bridesmaids.

My girlfriends sat around with me and let me practice my vows in front of them. I couldn’t say them with a straight face. How was I going to do this tomorrow? We got rid of some wedding night nerves by taking a long walk around the golf course that we live on. At night, I lied in bed next to my best friend since seventh grade. We had grown up together and had helped each other through all our growing pains. Once she fell asleep I lied awake and cried happy tears.

Tomorrow was an end of an era and the start of something new and beautiful. 

Return next week to read about our actual wedding day including our vows, music, and more! 

What are your favorite things about weddings? 

xoxo Katie


Darling Bridesmaid Dresses

Let’s talk Bridesmaid dresses.
Is there any joke older than the “Oh but the dresses are SO re wearable!” 
Let’s face it, the options out there aren’t that great. Especially if you want to stick to the under $250 rule. Most dresses are incredibly cheap looking and are not figure flattering. There’s always awkward sashes, ruffles, or belts added on, taking a dress from the “so so” category to “totally heinous” category.  Especially when your maids are 30 rather than 24.
For my own wedding, I chose dresses from J. Crew. They had the perfect dusty pale pink for my wedding. I let the girls pick any style they wanted, as long as it was the same color and fabric.
The soft chiffon was perfect as well for my Secret Garden themed wedding. I think they were simply lovely.
However, I knew that hardly any of my girls would wear that dress again. 
Now it’s my turn to be a bridesmaid. I’m so excited and honored to be the Maid of Honor in  my best friends (and MY maid of honor) wedding.  (Technically I’m a matron of honor but that just sounds SO old so I refuse that title).
Kay did a fabulous job as my right hand gal. We’ve been best friends since seventh grade. We haven’t lived in the same time zone since college, yet we are as close as ever.
maid of honor
Her wedding is  July 5 and the wedding preparations are in full force. I’m getting so excited about the shower, the bachelorette, and the wedding. So much celebrating. It was so fun to be engaged together and share in our childhood wedding fantasies.
She was having SUCH a hard time finding bridesmaid dresses in the perfect shade of blue for her summer vintage wedding. After awhile all the dresses start to look the same, and none of them are that appealing AT ALL.
That was until Alfred Sung came into our lives!
Kay and I went dress shopping this Saturday. It was fun and exhausting. I tried on over 30 dresses! But we found the keepers!
Just check out these DARLING bridesmaid dresses! And yes, I really think most of them are re wearable to a cocktail party, another wedding, or holiday event.
Alfred Sung
I simply had to share this find with you today. I know how hard it is to find dresses that don’t make you feel completely disgusting, like you’re wearing a bag made out of polyester. I tried on 31 of these dresses in every cut imaginable and they were all so pretty.
They will fit women (yes women not GIRLS) of all different body types. The material is thick and doesn’t cling to places you don’t want it to cling. They come in 28 different colors and quite a few different types of fabric. We had the best luck at the Macy’s bridal shop, they had every style of Alfred Sung to try on (compared to others that only had 2-4).
I had six that were my favorites and I was truly considering getting two or three and doing  costume changes throughout the wedding. I simply could not decide which one to choose because I loved them all so much! The prices range from $170 – $230. Alfred Sung is part of the Dessy group and can be found on many online retailers as well.
After hours of debate I chose! Now you’ll have to stay tuned til July to see the pictures because we are all going to look fabulous!
What has been your experience with bridesmaid dresses?

{Love Story part 4} Surprise Engagement (on our Engageaversary!)

You can read the previous parts of our Love Story here:

Love Story Part One When I Lost Sight of Love

Love Story Part Two Rewriting My Story

Love Story Part Three Second Chances

Ryan and Katie Engaged

It was December 4, 2012, a cold Tuesday, and I was at the gym sweating to death in a spin class. Ryan and I had just moved into our new home 3 days prior and I was avoiding the monstrous amount of boxes yet to be unpacked by spending the evening at the gym, deciding to attend a hard spin class after my Pilates class.

I was barely able to walk out to my car as my legs felt like jello. That class was torture! Instead of being wise and taking the time to stretch, I rushed to get home, because Ryan would already be there waiting for me. As this was still one of our first nights together in our new home, I wanted to maximize our time. He was stopping at Home Depot to pick up some light bulbs. I called him on the drive home to ask him to pick up some nails as well, but got his voicemail. I was irritated and knew he wouldn’t listen to the message.

When I opened the door, he had yet to arrive home and he ignored my second attempt to reach him by phone. I couldn’t imagine where he could be. Now I was getting really irritated, especially since I had rushed home to see him. I hopped in the shower and figured he’d be home by the time I was out. As I was drying off, the door bell rung.

I couldn’t imagine who would be ringing the door bell. I was still damp from the shower and had soaking wet hair but figured I should probably make sure it wasn’t an emergency. It was 8 p.m. so it’s not like it was a delivery man or anything. I  quickly threw on sweats and Ryan’s xl law school sweatshirt and ran downstairs.

To my surprise, it was Ryan at the door. Honestly, at first I was annoyed, thinking he forgot his keys.

And then the magic started and my heart began to beat faster than it had in my spin class.

It took me a minute to realize that he was acting out the famous poster board scene from Love Actually, where Andrew Lincoln pronounces his love to Keira Knightley with simple, funny, yet profound words while Silent Night plays from a boom box. Here is a clip in case you need a reminder:

Once I opened the door, Silent Night began playing from Ryan’s cell phone and he began to hold up these messages written simply on poster board, while I stood shaking, slightly confused, and teary eyed in front of him.

Ryan engagement cards 1

Ryan engagement cards 2

Ryan engagement cards 3

Ryan engagement cards 4

Ryan engagement cards 5

And as if reenacting this romantic scene wasn’t enough, he went and upped the ante by adding my favorite girl in the world, Taylor Swift into the mix.

After this card, “to me you mean everything”, Silent Night switched off and “Love Story” by Taylor Swift came on, perfectly timed at the dramatic point where she sings, “He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring, And said, ”marry me Juliet,  You’ll never have to be alone…”

Ryan engagement cards 6

Ryan engagement cards 7

Ryan engagement cards 8

Ryan engagement cards 9

Ryan engagement cards 10

Once he dropped this last card to the ground he fell to his knee and his shaking hand pulled out the ring box. I was in shock! Part of me still couldn’t register what was going on! I remember saying “Is this really happening?” and “Yes! Of course, Yes!”.

It felt so unreal, like a scene out of a movie that you would never imagine happening to you in real life. The fact that I was in my sweats, soaking wet hair, make up free face made it that much more surreal.

I felt beautiful and I felt alive. This man really blew me away and I couldn’t have asked for a more original and from the heart proposal.

I couldn’t stop staring at the ring, or him, or the fact that after only dating for 10 months I had found the man I knew I was to share my life with. That that life was starting now. That I was living my dream.

After we both had time to register, celebrate, and stop shaking and crying we decided to really celebrate! I wanted to tell my parents in person, so after we popped some bubbly and I got dressed up a bit in a favorite little black dress, I called my parents saying that I had to come over because I forgot a prescription at their house.

It was so fun to surprise them with the news and celebrate together. They had a guess as to why I was urgently coming over to their home at 9:30 at night since Ryan had asked for their permission to marry me a few weeks ago. So sweet!

We called Ryan’s family next and then our friends. Honestly, everything still felt like a dream, we were just so incredibly happy! It made the holiday season so fun. I also got right on top of the wedding planning. Within 10 days we had our venue and date selected! What fun!

I was so happy to be caught off guard. Ryan’s proposal proved that he sincerely knows my heart. So grateful to have him in my life and to hold on to the memories from that special night one year ago.



xoxo katie