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!


 

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!

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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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- 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.

 

 

 

 

 

November Goals

In October, I posted a few goals so I thought it would be fun to revisit these goals, and then to make some new goals for November.

 

My October goals were:

Move everyday- I think I did an okay job with this.  I have tried to do some type of strength activity 3 times a week and I have tried to run twice a week. I also try to walk outside whenever the weather permits. Not every week is perfect, but I feel pretty good about this overall.

Eat more veggies- I have been good about eating a salad or some type of veggie every afternoon so that I’m getting more than just one serving a day.

Settle in to our new home- This hasn’t happened yet because our house is STILL being renovated!!

Sleep- This still is a challenge.  Connor is teething so we’ve had some really rough nights this past month.

Wash my face each night- I haven’t washed my face every night, but have been making more of an effort to be better about it.

Do lots of fall activities- Yes!  We went on a hayride, to a pumpkin farm, and celebrated Halloween!

 

Here are my November goals! I challenge you to make at least 3 attainable goals for this month!

Blog more! I have totally stunk at blogging so my goal is to blog at least twice a week.

Settle into our new home- I hope this will happen this month!

Host Thanksgiving- We are going to host Jim’s family, and I’m so excited to decorate and get everything ready.

Cook and bake- I want to research a recipe and actually cook it, and bake some yummy treats this month.

 

Healthy Football Snacks


Football season is upon us! Jim is OBSESSED with football. He literally will watch every game on tv if he can. I am becoming more of a football fan as the years go by because it is always on at our house. My favorite part of football is the food- wings, chips and dip, and beer. Yum! However, eating like this on a regular basis isn’t the best idea. Here are some of my favorite healthy football snacks!

Veggies and Dip

I love some good old fashioned celery, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli or cauliflower cut up to dip into low fat ranch. You get the crunch without the calories. 

Pita chips and dip or salsa 

Pita chips are usually a healthier alternative to regular chips, and salsa is a healthy option as well. Chobani Meze Dip is a new healthy dip that is low in calories – 25 for 2 tablespoons, and high in taste! With flavors like chili lime and roasted red pepper, these are a crowd pleaser. You wouldn’t even know they are healthy! 


Apples and Caramel Dip

 Nothing says fall and football season more than Carmel apples! By cutting up apples and dipping them into caramel dip, you save calories over eating a traditional caramel apple. 

October Goals


I am still trying to get myself together in terms of balancing staying home full time with my baby, writing, and working as a writing tutor.  I struggle with feeling like I didn’t accomplish what I intended to at the end of each day.  Partially, I set my goals so high, that there is no way I can possibly do everything in the 24 hours we are all given.  I have decided to take a good look at my schedule and what I want to do with my day, and focus on the most important things.  Heather gave me the idea to set some goals for October, and then revisit them at the end of the month to see how I did.

 

Move everyday

I have given up on the idea that I will complete a formal workout everyday.  My baby is a really bad sleeper, and there are many, many days when I need to take a nap in order to survive, and that takes precedence over working out.  Now I have decided to focus on doing something everyday- whether it is a nap time yoga flow, a run with the jogging stroller, or even just a nice long walk outside, something is better than nothing, and that is what I will focus on for October.

Eat more veggies

I have been horrible lately about eating vegetables.  I usually eat some fruit during the day, but no veggies until dinnertime.  My goal is to eat some vegetables with lunch everyday.

 

Settle in to our new home

We are renovating a house and hopefully it will be done in October.  I’ll be doing a full post soon.  I just want to move in and start getting settled in, without getting stressed out.  The thought of unpacking a whole house full of things with a crazy 8 month old baby seems quite daunting!

Sleep

This is an ongoing, unattainable goal.  I have been better lately about taking a nap when I am sleep deprived.  In the past I would just try to power through the day and drink extra coffee, but when I am super tired, I am unproductive, I get sick, and I am crabby, so sleep is a priority.  Once we are settled in to our new home, I am going to do some form of sleep training, but in the meantime, napping is my saving grace!

Wash my face each night

Kind of tied into the no sleeping thing- once bedtime rolls around I’m pooped and the thought of washing my face seems too exhausting.  I am trying really hard to change this bad habit.  It only takes a few minutes and my wrinkles will thank me later 😉

 

Do lots of fall activities

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I plan on taking full advantage of the month of October to go a pumpkin farm, go on a hayride, and eat apple cider donuts!

 

 

 

 

2 Quick Ways to Get Happy

On Monday I started my week out on such a positive note. I did a 30 minute vinyasa yoga class and took a lovely walk. It led me to think about fast, easy ways to boost my mood. These are two of my favs! 

Yoga

It’s no secret that I love yoga (hence the name of this blog)! Although I don’t get to practice as much as I used to, I still love to fit it in whenever I can. Nowadays I am happy when I can do a quick 30 minute vinyasa class during nap times! You don’t have to be a super bendy and in amazing shape to reap the benefits of yoga- just taking some time to breathe deeply, clear your mind, and stretch is what it’s all about. Even a few minutes a day of this helps my mental state immensely! 

Walking

I set out on a new route on Monday to fine a playground for Connor. The air was crisp, the sun was shining, I had a mug of flavored coffee in my hand, and Connor was happy after just waking up from a nap. It was a perfect combo and the brisk walk made my mood soar.  Walking outside and getting some fresh air on a daily basis is a quick, easy, free way to take a break from the daily grind, and release some endorphins.