How to Plan a Wedding in 6 Months or Less

When Jim and I got engaged it was Christmas Eve. I was beyond excited, and couldn’t wait to start planning. I am a planner at heart, and love researching and planning. This was right up my alley! Of course I had a vision of what type of wedding I wanted. Because I was teaching full time, I knew I wanted to get married in the summer so I wouldn’t have to take any time off of work. Since I was 31 when I got engaged, I didn’t want a long engagement, but knew that we might have to wait until the following summer if all the venues were already booked. Much to my delight, there were a few openings at the church we wanted, and at a few great venues. Everything came together much easier than I thought.  Here are my tips for planning a wedding in 6 months or less!

Look at Venues First

If you don’t have a venue, there is no point in looking at vendors, dresses, etc. The day after Christmas I started searching for hotels (we wanted a hotel so it would be easy for our guests to just stay there instead of staying elsewhere and having to worry about transportation). I started emailing the wedding planners at the hotels and also contacted two churches we were interested in. I explained that we were looking at this summer, and asked if there was availability, and also asked for prices. I wanted to know the prices ahead of time, as some venues want you to come in so you’ll fall in love with the location before knowing the prices. We had a somewhat set budget and I knew that some venues were out of our price range right off the bat. That same day, two hotels were open to giving us a tour and talking about having our wedding there. They had openings that summer, which surprised and delighted me!


Use Your Venue’s Preferred Vendor List

After we had booked our venue and secured the church, we moved on to the other important things- flowers, DJ, and photographer. Our venue, The Westin, supplied us with a list of preferred vendors. I found this to be really helpful because there are millions of photographers, DJs, and florists available in the Chicagoland area. Having this list helped me to research and narrow it down easier. I figured I would start with these, and I’m glad I did. I looked up their ratings on The Knot, and Yelp and looked at their websites. I emailed a few of them that I liked the best, and set appointments.


Interview Two of Each Type of Vendor

After I interviewed them, I scheduled meetings with two of each type of vendor- two DJs, two photographers, and two florists. I figured if I didn’t like them, we could move on to more interviews, but this way we could see a few to start out. With the DJs, we liked the first one so much we booked them immediately. Easy peasy! With the photographers, we really disliked the first one, and then really like the second one. With the florist, I loved the first one we went to, and also liked the second one, so we went with the second because a friend used her for her own wedding, and everything turned out beautifully. If you are in a time crunch, I suggest starting with two of each vendor. Some brides visit five or more of each type of vendor, but the nice thing about not having much time is that you don’t have much time to over-analyze. If you trust your reception location’s vendor list and you research ahead of time, choosing these should be a fairly easy process.


Get Your Dress ASAP!

Many bridal gowns need to be ordered well ahead of time to allow for shipping and alterations. If you are 6 months out, go get your dress immediately! This also goes for bridesmaid dresses. Many bridesmaid dresses also need a long lead time, and most girls need alterations. I went with my cousins to pick out the bridesmaid dresses within a month of booking our wedding, and was lucky enough to travel to NYC in January and get my dress at Kleinfeld’s. Many of the dresses were not an option because of the small amount of time, but there were still plenty of beautiful dresses available.


Relax and Have Fun!

If you choose to plan your wedding in a short time frame, try to enjoy every minute of the planning process. It will fly by! Once you have your dress, venue and vendors, the rest falls into place very easily. Soon you will be sipping champagne on your honeymoon with your husband! The wedding is just one day, and it truly does fly by, so try to enjoy the planning and the day as much as you possibly can!


 

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

With Christmas right around the corner, it seems like everywhere we turn, there are trees up and holiday tunes playing. I love Christmas and the holiday season. I love to get totally into the spirit of the season. Here are some ways I get ready for the holidays!

Decorating

This is my favorite part of the holidays. I love decorating my home. Even though we just moved two weeks ago, I have still managed to do a fair amount of decorating. Usually I go more all out, but at least we got a real tree, and I filled up our shelves with decor.

Huge icicles!

Connor gets a little holiday cheer in his room!


 

Shopping

Of course, a huge part of Christmas is the shopping. I have a lot of my list done but still have a few more people to buy for. I love Christmas shopping, and try to do at least some of it at the stores because it always feels so exciting and cheerful in the stores at this time of year. Of course, a big part of my shopping is done online. I usually end up buying myself a gift or two because I come across things I can’t pass up! This year I’m eyeing these comfy but nice looking pants for my upcoming trip to Europe this spring. Betabrand has tons of comfy but nice looking pants and they fit so well with my current lifestyle of being casual but still wanting to look put together. 

Hot Chocolate

For some reason, hot chocolate is one of my favorite things about Christmastime and winter in general. Last year when I was pregnant,  I got hot chocolate almost everyday towards the end! I have been making it at home this year a lot to try to save a little money. I love hot chocolate as a sweet treat at the end of the day, and it helps me get some calcium from the milk. Totally healthy 😉 I have the tree turned on, and love cozying up with a nice warm mug of hot chocolate and a warm blanket.

 

How do you get into the holiday spirit?

Holiday Yoga Challenge 


It is typical to start a workout challenge after the holidays. Everyone is on board to get healthy, diet, workout and overall become a better version of him/herself. This is the time when the gyms are packed and all the ads on TV are for weight loss plans, gyms, and quick fixes. Some people might stick with their goals throughout the year but others forget about all of their health endeavors by February. While I love January and all that it encompasses- health, quiet nights at home, and an overall time to buckle down and get back to regular life, I think that health and fitness can be achieved anytime of the year, including in December.

I decided to challenge myself to do a little yoga everyday between now and Christmas. Will I be able to accomplish this goal? I don’t know! But I hope so! I have shied away from yoga recently because my workout time is during the baby’s morning nap. This nap is always a crap shoot. It can be 2 hours or 20 minutes. His afternoon nap is more consistent, but this is when I eat lunch, take a cat nap, clean, shower, etc. The morning is the time when I feel the most energized and ready to workout. However, because I never know how long this time is, I had stopped doing yoga. I felt like if I didn’t get a complete practice in, including savasana, then it wasn’t worth it. For many months I gravitated towards quick strength workouts. While these are wonderful, and very important, I have found myself really missing yoga. I have decided to stop having an “all or nothing” attitude with yoga. If I complete my yoga class, great! If not, something is better than nothing.

Each day I will do yoga. Maybe it is an online class from yogadownload.com or maybe it is a flow I complete on my own, or maybe I will actually get to go take a class at a studio! Even if I do yoga for 5 to 10 minutes, I will consider that a win. I’ll check in and share my progress.

Would you like to join me in a quick holiday yoga challenge? If so, comment or message me!

Recent Happenings

I don’t have a formal post but thought I’d check in! We moved last weekend so it’s been all consuming. We went from 1400 square feet to 2400 square feet so we have much more space and need to fill a few empty rooms. Unpacking with a 10 month old is challenging but I’ve been keeping him entertained with random boxes and Tupperware, and doing most of the unpacking during his naps. 

We renovated our new house so I plan on doing a full post of before and after pics and survival tips for anyone doing a renovation. 

We are currently just unpacking and putting together our new furniture. It’s fun but also I just want it all done! 

Setting up furniture requires wine! Haha


Ive been enjoying homemade cookies a little too much lately. They are just so delicious straight out of the oven. 

My brother’s best friend got married and I got to be my mom’s plus one. It was so fun and I just love weddings! The whole night was just beautiful! 


Jim made a yummy dinner of pasta with meatballs and we had a delicious bottle of wine from Kamen wines in Sonoma. It was a nice way to end the weekend. I got to take home a centerpiece from the wedding and I’m obsessed with it! I aspire to be able to create flower arrangements like this! 

Finally, we got our first real tree this year. It was really fun to pick it out and it smells amazing! 


I hope you had a great weekend! 

Merry Moderate Holidays

I love the holiday season and everything it entails. From pumpkin bread to hot chocolate to Christmas dinner, there are so many festive things to eat and drink! I’m in my third holiday season where I feel like I have my eating and drinking under control and can indulge in lots of yummy things but still not feel guilty. This is what I’ve learned through years of experience and what works for me in terms of staying healthy and happy over the holidays. Moderation!

Stop Eating When I Feel Satisfied

I try to never actually feel full. As soon as I feel satisfied I stop eating. This helps me to not feel bloated and unhappy that I overdid it. As long as I do this, I don’t feel guilty eating things that aren’t super healthy, because I ate a regular sized portion and stopped before getting stuffed.

Stay Active 

Even if it is just a quick walk around the neighborhood, exercise helps me to feel good about myself when I am eating more treats than normal. My favorite workouts during the busy holidays are quick strength routines, and walking and running. It is easy to fit in a fast workout and I typically try to think “Something is better than nothing” during the holidays.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is super important when eating and drinking more than normal. The obvious reasons for staying hydrated when drinking- the more water you drink the better you feel the next day. Also, I often find that when I feel hungry, I am in need of water. I usually try to drink a glass of water before I eat something if it is too early for a real meal, because sometimes my body shows its thirst with hunger.

Two Drink Maximum

I never used to adhere to this policy, but now that I am a mom, I almost never have more than two drinks in a day, and this helps with moderation. I am in control of myself, I don’t want to eat lots of junk food, and I feel fine the next day. I am much more pick y with my drinks these days, since I know I won’t be having tons of them. I like to drink wine, or a good IPA. Telling myself two is the most I can have helps me to drink slowly and enjoy the taste, and prevents hangovers. Hangovers also lead to McDonald’s and pizza, which makes one night of overindulging turn into a whole weekend.

Eat Normally Most of the Time

The holiday season is just that- a season. There are plenty of days that are regular weekdays that don’t involve parties or fun. On these days I do my best to eat what I normally do, and not indulge in extra treats. This makes the parties and weekends that much more enjoyable because I feel like I earned it.

Relax!

Most importantly, I just tell myself to relax. The holidays are meant to be fun and enjoyable, and worrying about calories or the scale ruins the fun. It is a short time, and everything goes back to normal in January.

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Thankful

I am thankful for so many things! This year has been such a whirlwind and I am so happy with the place I am in life right now.

Here are a few things I am thankful for. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Family

I am pretty sure I have the best family ever! I am super close with my family, and feel so lucky that I get to see many of them all of the time. Both my family and Jim’s family are so supportive and awesome. My mom is my best friend, and I feel so lucky that I can say that. We have been living with her for the past four months while we wait for our new house to be renovated, and it has been so fun seeing my mom everyday.

 

Jim

Although Jim is my family, he gets his own category. :) I feel like we have successfully navigated so many life changes this year-having a baby, selling a house, buying a new house, selling a car, buying new car, and moving. We are always on the same page with major life decisions, and the whole renovation process, while stressful, wasn’t stressful for us a couple, which I feel really happy about. We managed to almost get through our first year of parenthood together, and I think we make a pretty good team. I am also beyond thankful that Jim has an awesome job that allows me to stay at home with our baby. It is so rare nowadays to be able to stay home, and I cherish every minute of it.


Connor

I try to keep Connor private on the blog, but I can’t help but write about him today, as I am beyond thankful for him. He is the light of my life, and I love him beyond what I ever thought imaginable. I truly never knew that I could love someone so much. He is such a happy baby, and our days are so fun together. I am so grateful that he is healthy and happy and that I have him as my son.
Health

On that note, I am so thankful that my family is all healthy, and that my body successfully produced another human! Having a baby and a hard delivery was no walk in the park, but I am fine now!


Ok now on to the less mushy stuff!

Coffee

While Connor is a great baby, he is a pretty horrible sleeper! He still wakes up a ton, and I am planning on doing some type of sleep training soon. In the meantime, coffee is my savior. I literally look forward everyday to the time in the morning when I can start drinking coffee!


Dessert

I have always been a sweets lover, but once I got pregnant that intensified. I thought after I had a baby I would stop eating a dessert everyday, but that is not the case. I still eat dessert everyday and have no plans to stop. Eating a small sweet treat does not mean that I have gained weight or feel out of control in any way. I watch my portions and believe in moderation!

 

Suburb Life

I lived in the city for 15 years and just moved to the suburbs this past summer. Our town is particularly special in that it has a cute downtown that we can walk to, so I still get the city feel of being able to walk to the grocery store, to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. But now I don’t have the congestion, traffic and noise. Our town is also surrounded by beautiful woods and farms, and I am loving the quiet life of living in a small town. And the best part is we can hop on the train or in the car and be in the city within an hour.

 

 

My Trip to Kleinfeld’s in New York

I started blogging after I was already married, so I thought it would be fun to do a few wedding posts now.

Wedding planning was both fun and stressful. For the most part I really enjoyed it, and loved putting my vision to work. We didn’t have a wedding planner, and my mom and I did all of the planning ourselves! One of the highlights was our trip to New York to go to Kleinfeld’s! My mom and I both love Say Yes to the Dress and had said for years that we would go when I got engaged. Once I was engaged, we decided to do it! We planned a quick overnight trip to the big apple.

We arrived on a Saturday morning and walked around, went to eat, and to the big Macy’s to work on my registry. Then we went to Cafe Un Deux Trois, and saw Once.


  
  
  
The next morning was a little hectic. Our flight was cancelled due to a blizzard that was coming to Chicago. They said they could only get us on an early morning flight which meant we would have to miss our Kleinfeld’s appointment! After lots of back and forth we were able to get on a later flight. The funniest part was when we arrived back in Chicago, all the schools were closed for the next day, so we could have stayed an extra day anyway.
I was so happy our appointment was still on! It was so exciting to be at this world- renowned store! Our consultant was Diane and she was a nice as could be. I tried on lots of dresses and they were all pretty traditional. Diane said she pictured me as Grace Kelly- how flattering :-) she saved the best for last- a gorgeous Augusta Jones dress, Pnina Tornai belt, and cathedral length veil with lace. I was in love and we said yes to the dress!


  
  
  
It was a magical weekend, and I am still so happy we went for it and did it. I absolutely loved my dress, and the accessories, and everything felt absolutely perfect.

Easy dinner-baked chicken with baked veggies

I made another quick and easy dinner last night. Baked chicken and green beans. 


Chicken

I just used olive oil, sliced lemons, and fresh rosemary. 

Potatoes and Green Beans

We had a few leftover red potatoes so I used these with green beans and red onion all covered in olive oil and garlic. 

Overall

I totally forgot to put the potatoes in ahead of everything else so they were a bit under cooked. Live and learn! This was a good and quick meal for a week night. Just prep everything and throw it in the oven!

Easy Dinner- Pasta with Meat Sauce

Now that I am a stay at home mom, I realize I need to be more “domestic”. I have always loved decorating my home and have never minded cleaning. I also love baking. However, I am not a huge fan of cooking. Jim typically did all the cooking for us. But now we have a crazy 9 month old, and by the time Jim gets home and makes dinner, it is Connor’s bedtime. I realized that something needs to change. I am making a concerted effort to get better at making healthy, semi-fast week night meals. I thought it would be fun to document them on the blog in case anyone else needs ideas for weeknight dinners, and to note any epic fails, which I am sure will occur! 

 

Last night was my first night of doing this, so it’s still a work in progress! I stuck with a simple dinner of salad, garlic bread, and pasta with meat sauce.  Super easy!

Salad

This was a spinach salad with red onion and candied pecans. I also made a yummy vinaigrette.  I just threw in some olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and sugar. It really made the salad.


 

Pasta with Meat Sauce

I browned up some ground beef with garlic and olive oil. Then I just combined it with a store-bought sauce and whole wheat spaghetti.

 

Garlic Bread

This is a total no brainer! We had bought two loaves of French bread on the weekend, so I just put some butter and garlic and popped them in the oven while everything else cooked.

 

Overall

This meal was easy and fool-proof. I always make sure to try to do the dishes as I go so that there isn’t a huge clean up after dinner. There were a few pots and pans to wash but that’s to be expected. This meal is pretty healthy, and of course the garlic bread could be eliminated, and ground turkey could be swapped for the ground beef.