Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Selfie: Bride Edition

Ok, I did it. I had this photo for ages and held posting it on social media for months. I've never been an avid selfie-taker, but it seemed so apropos. 

Which got me thinking... so many disclose photos and major life events on social media (guilty), so why would I shy away from sharing a selfie on one of the biggest days of my life? Perhaps I was feeling I should be sensitive to appearing too self-absorbed? Too into myself? Thinking no one cared to see it (likely the case)... 

Who knows, but in the end, I'm happy I snapped a rare moment of isolation post-wedding and embraced the social media fever (and word of the year) albeit in a wedding dress. 

With that, behold my wedding selfie. Would love to hear/see if anyone else has snapped one or if it's simply my own lonesome, photo-loving self?! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Sunny Bachelorette

My husband and I have many destination weddings in 2014, and bachelorette parties have followed suit. I was recently in Scottsdale for a college friend's bachelorette... sun, cocktails, games and food with friends ensued. And escaping the Midwest snowstorms made it so much sweeter. Below are some PG highlights of the weekend.

An appropriately-stocked fridge - bubbles, beer, mixers, and plenty of water for hydration. 

The humble condo for the weekend - stunning decor and design...

A serene poolside view for soaking up the sun...

Custom menu celebrating the bride in the private chef's table room Elements restaurant at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain...

...complete with rosé and roses for Valentine's Day.

The lingerie game with goodies for the bachelorette - what bride doesn't want some new undergarment goods as she becomes a Mrs?! Set a price limit for attendees, make sure those who aren't in attendance send along a gift and write cute unsigned notes for the bride to guess who it's from! 

Last night at Dominick's Scottsdale up in the rooftop poolside dining room... cheers to good friends and delicious seafood! 

Scottsdale sunset.

Elements - XII

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thank You Notes

Many overlook the importance of a quality, hand-written thank you note. And wedding "thank you's" should stand no different. 

However, no one tells you these puppies take forever... it seems as if it's a bottomless list! 

I went old-school in my approach (vs. digital), checking off a master printed spreadsheet when the stamps and letters were licked to ensure no one was overlooked. 

Some Suggestions:
-Quality over quantity. Add a personal touch to each and every note and have the husband sign. Hey, he reaps the benefits of the gifts too, no?! I received so many lovely comments on the thoughtful notes and the groom signature.
-Cards. Do you want your wedding photos as your card for guests to remember the night? Ask your photographer if they offer printing as part of your package. Or a simple initial of your new last name is always classic or consider mirroring wedding colors/prints/invitations to match your thank you cards. 
-Custom Stamps. Don't forget a custom return address stamp with your new last name or initial. Nearly all paper shops will carry these and try etsy as well!
-Stamps. Do you really want Lego-Man on your wedding thank you notes? There are lovely floral, love and wedding stamp options. 
-DIY. If feeling a little sassy or crave and added sparkle, put a small adhesive gem on your notes (found at Michael's, Jo-Ann Crafts, etc.)

My setup one snowy afternoon... 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Darling Details

Boasting a creative background, some artistic talent and an undeniable attention to detail, I was easily able to orchestrate much of the decor and planning for my wedding. Because, after all, isn't it all in the details?!

Take a peek at a few of the many from the evening:

Champagne and sparkling water waiting for guests post-ceremony.

Pen and ink bride and groom sketches by yours truly.

"Sweet" childhood photo for the candy/sweet tables... (yes, my husband is a cookie)

Custom chocolate coins at the candy/sweet bar with our names/wedding date.

Dated and custom kippahs.

Metal picture frame table cards for all guests to take home. (I love my photos - so this gift was special to me.)

Chimes post-cocktail/appetizer hour welcoming guests to dinner. 

Individual custom "R" sugar cookie (from my uncle's bakery!) for every guest before dinner... 

...complete with a sweet thank you plum seal.

Vintage bird cage with ribbon and crystal atop a crystal cake stand for cards/gifts. 

Variety of black and silver flip-flops in silver wicker baskets for guests to comfortably dance the night away. 

A limoncello palette cleanser served in martini glasses. 

Custom designed and sketched Instagram reminders. "Let Love Sparkle - Take A Pic" #LeahandDustin

Signature wedding cocktail named in honor of the dear friend who introduced us at all bars: "The Mel-Onade" - Fresh Basil Leaves, Kettle One Vodka, Lemon Juice, Simply Syrup. And custom-stickered bottled water. 

Specially-sourced Boulevard Wheat beer as one of five beer selections - the groom's favorite from college. 

Fun "Leah and Dustin Become One" foam fingers.

Finally, a post-candy, post-cake, post-mini dessert late night treat, the groom's favorite... Lou Malnati's Chicago-style deep dish pizza. 

Majority of photo credit: Husar Photography.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Loved Ones & Wedding Signs

Photo: Husar Photography (with inputted text)

It's truly been a year of highs and lows. And how, when it's a year celebrating one of the most ultimate highs - getting married - could it possibly be a year of lows?!

On a personal note, I lost two very important people in my life within months of each other. And the saddening, depressing feelings seemed to tackle the joyous, exciting, celebratory ones without warning. It's quite a unique juxtaposition, it is. And confusing. I often caught myself with my thoughts in nearly accusatory fashions: how could I possibly be happy when she's not with me?! She should be here doing this/going to this appointment/talking about this coordination... 

But I knew after some time that wasn't fair.

Now, I still cried a steady amount - certain things about every day occurrences would trigger the waterworks and the most upsetting thing was the sinking reality that they wouldn't be there in the flesh on our special day to see me marry my everything. 

In an effort to not make this my most depressing post to date, I wanted to share with brides to take solace in knowing your loved ones who aren't with you WILL be there with you on your day. 

The morning of my wedding day, I had no doubt they'd be there. It was a surreal feeling. My friends, bridesmaids, mom, sisters, wedding planner can all attest - I had a unique calm about me and I attribute it ALL to them. (Oftentimes I can be a bit intense and controlling - I even thought I'd be this way at my own wedding!) They pushed me to live in the moment and savor all the love that the day had to offer. 

They soothed me. It was raining. It stormed. There were large gusts of continuous winds. My wedding was outside. I never flinched. I knew the sky would open up. It did. 

Further, I received two distinct signs:

-Grandma Freed, thank you for the painted nearly electric green Emerald sky after the rain finally settled. It was as if I was Dorothy myself in my silver shoes walking to my home, my love. And thank you for your perfect purple handkerchief that absorbed my sweaty palms wrapped around my bouquet.  (My mother, her daughter and my sisters always shared - still do - a deep love of the Wizard of Oz. Hey, we had an "Oz" room growing up!)

-Aunt Judy, who knows where that darling Golden Retriever pup came from, but once he emerged from the wood, and I was able to hold back tears under the clear afternoon sky in the pagoda, I knew you were there. 

In closing, I am thankful and forever will cherish their energy and signs that day. For anyone struggling with a loss or absence at such a celebratory time, I would first like to give you a big hug and share that it's never easy, but hope you can have a bit of comfort knowing that their love and warmth will be with you on your day. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Wedding SPLASH

Professionally, I am lucky to work with some talented reporters and editors. I'm used to being behind the scenes and my clients taking headlines and center stage. But for our wedding, the tables were turned and it was me and my hubby front and center sharing our story.

The Chicago-Sun Times SPLASH was gracious enough to feature our wedding in the Cheers! section of their November 24-30, 2013 Holiday Issue. We were so pleased with the outcome - a sure memento we will cherish forever. Check out the online article here and online and print mock-ups below:
Online Screengrabs:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wedding Photos Have Arrived!

At long last some initial wedding photos have arrived and I'm thrilled to share with you!

Our talented photographer, Chad Husar / Husar Photography, uploaded some incredible images on his blog and captured some fantastic moments we will cherish forever. We are to receive the big batch in the next 48 hours, and are so pleased already with this bunch.

Take a peek at photos below as well as on his blog link:

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Wedding: Baubles & Bling

I love sparkles. My friends and family know this as well as my new husband.

I love everything shiny, always have, and jewelry is no different. I was and still am lucky to have multiple family members in the jewelry business which further propels my interest and love of gems, precious metals, jewelry design and more. For a brief timeframe, I considered going into the business and taking GIA classes. I even had my own beaded jewelry line in grade school for a stint and sold at local art fairs. But, I digress... 

For my wedding, I was so blessed to wear and give the perfect pieces. Here's a snapshot:

I don't think I've ever been as obsessed with a piece of jewelry. My late grandmother had impeccable style, and, as a wife of a jeweler, her jewelry collection was no different. I was honored at one family gathering to be presented with my "something blue" which came in the form of this ring. Sapphires and diamonds?! Yes, please. I wore this art-deco piece down the aisle and throughout the night so her presence was always with me. 

My dress had a beautiful, detailed crystal-encrusted bodice and sash, therefore, no necklace was needed. Further, the earrings needed to be simple as well as to not draw away from the bodice detail. Enter my grandmother's diamond earrings with a diamond circular drop addition - a perfect fit as the drop piece tied nicely with the bodice dress detail. 

I had to make sure my bridesmaids also sparkled. After researching for quite a bit looking for the perfect modern and vintage piece, I fell in love with these Swarovski "Sensation" chandelier pieces for my wedding party and a modified drop for the young flower girl and ceremony readers.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Friendly Wedding Welcome Bag

A must for any wedding are wedding bags for out of town guests. I'm currently at a family wedding in Florida and just had to share details of "The Friend" cute gift bag. (Yes, my new cousin is becoming Mrs. Friend.)

Contents included: 

-Bottled water, a bubble split, an orange (hey, it's Florida!), M&Ms, cheese crackers, pretzels, Advil (for any nasty hangovers), tissues to dry happy tears, peanuts, cookies, reusable Ft. Lauderdale shopping bag, tourist and shopping guides, sunblock for the Florida sun, canvas beach bag for the pool, and detailed wedding itinerary.

Check out the goods below...

What are some awesome treats/snacks you've received in a wedding gift bag? Would love to hear!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Whirlwind...

Whew, where has the time gone since my last post?!

To quickly recap, I've had two weddings, a Vegas work trip, the start of gala fundraising meetings, and, did I mention one of those weddings was my own?! Yes, I'm thrilled to report I'm a Mrs. now... and with that, I'm excited to share many learnings and wedding details on the blog.

While I work on more posts, thought I'd share a few "week of" wedding prep tips for all you brides out there and some details of my busy wedding week... 

-If able, take off three days prior to the wedding day to focus on wedding activities (see my schedule below).
-Hydrate and get good sleep. 
-Avoid fried foods and salty foods the week of the wedding, why get extra bloated on your wedding week!?
-Do NOT change your beauty routine - use the same face wash, same lotion, etc. If you haven't tried a product before, why do it days before your wedding?
-Practice vows OUT LOUD by yourself to ensure they make sense and they read smoothly. 
-Pack day-of accessories and any gifts separately in ONE bag/suitcase (this may include; wedding purse, lipstick, deodorant, toothbrush, cards, bridesmaids gifts).
-Print out two extra copies of the wedding schedule - there will inevitably be a vendor or someone who will ask.
-Jog/workout/walk a least a few times - the endorphins release will help (trust me), and it's nice to escape on your own for a while!
-Send work updates, reminders and set out of office assistants letting colleagues/clients know you are out. Yes, share that you are getting married!
-Carve out some quiet time for you and your honey! 

For me, my schedule looked something like this:

-Werk. ;)

-Final dress fitting in the AM. Turns out, it needed to be taken in one last time (ah!), but the seamstress was able to work on it in the afternoon, so it & the veil could be steamed for pickup the next morning.
-Picked up waterproof (not water resistant - per my makeup artist!) mascara, cards for mom/mother-in-law/dad/my groom and cute little cards for bridesmaids & flower girl
-Impromptu lunch downtown with my dad!
-Dropped off hair extensions at salon for cleaning/styling 
-Waxing. I'll stop there. 
-Picked up rehearsal dinner dress option from tailor
-Began packing

-Packed up dogs; packed up car 
-Picked up dress (after driving on highway and realizing we had forgotten to pick it up!)
-Placed 150+ calligrapher name cards in frames
-Finished/wrote wedding party cards/thank you's
-Inventory list of items for venue 
-Manicure with the lil' sis
-Dinner with mom and sister

-Packed up items to drop-off at hotel (hospitality room items)
-Packed up items for venue (frames, flip-flops, etc.)
-Quick jog to blow off anxiety!
-Checked into hotel; visited with out of town guests
-Hair & makeup for rehearsal dinner
-Rehearsal at venue 
-Rehearsal dinner! 
-Hospitality room snacks and hangout with family & friends
-Sleepover with my two sisters and cousin! 

Our calligraphy table cards in frames:

Lots of decor & details... 

Obsessed with these mini-cards for little notes for some special attendees & "random notes of appreciation" for my bridesmaids.