Engagement Shots: The Woods

It is the end of the road for our beautiful photographs by Dear Olive Photography, but I could not be more thrilled to share this last location with you all, friends! As the snow falls outside my bay window, it is hard to believe these pictures were taken only a month ago. With the fantastic Fall colors and lack of parkas and sock hats, I think it’s pretty funny how I was complaining about the cold during the shoot. The day might have been overcast, but at least temperatures were above the frigid 25 degrees of today.

I’m going to take this last post as my own sort of escape from the cold and blistery weather outside and hope they will hold me until spring arrives…

woods1.jpgIt amazes what photography can do with landscaping. Looking around us during the shoot, I wouldn’t have said I was extremely taken by any of our surroundings. Actually, the majority of these shots taken “in the woods” were not done in the actual woods at all! They were taken in front of a small patch of trees still holding their leaves along the sidelines of Grand Mere’s parking lot. Goes to show what talent our photographer has by catching the perfect angles and making a small area so whimsical.

These pictures were before all out other locations. (Don’t ask me why I chose to finally reveal them last — I honestly did not have a thought concerning their order.) So looking through these brings a lot of warm, fuzzy memories for me. G and I were just getting into the swing of being the main attraction for the camera. Neither of us are particularly keen on acting front-and-center, but here we were taking the spotlight for our engagement shoot. We wanted to look natural, but also better than our usual-natural. Just like anyone would if they were having their pictures professionally taken, right?

Staci was a huge help in calming our nerves though. She told us to make one another laugh and not pay attention to the camera or herself. Act like we were alone. Sometimes giving instructions on how to stand or where to place our hands, overall we were free to be ourselves. Which ultimately made for the best experience either of us could have imagined!

I’ve had a few brides-to-be message me on Instagram and Twitter (I love to hear from y’all!) and asked how I narrowed my engagement attire to only two outfits. I’ll share my secret now: I had three outfits chosen for this shoot and wore none of them! An hour before G and I were to leave for the park, I was sitting on my bed almost in tears. I wasn’t feel too fit for a photo shoot and was hitting a very low point in my self-esteem.

G, bless his heart, tried to console me by saying he had never know a more beautiful woman. I remember dropping my hands to my sides and looking at the ceiling.

“I appreciate that but I just don’t have anything to wear for this!”

Looking to my walk-in closet and the multitude of clothes inside, G raised an eyebrow, “I’m sure we can figure something out.”

It is such a blessing to have a man willing to handle a woman’s crazy when it comes to clothing. Typically I stick to the same outfits on a weekly basis even though I have enough clothes to never shop again. (Why is that, by the way? Why do I buy certain things thinking they look good but then never actually wear them? I know I’m not the only one! It must be a criteria for finally hitting womanhood…) However, on this day in particular I couldn’t even picture myself in one of my “usuals.”

Somehow after cancelling nearly half my wardrobe from the acceptable options, I was left with a thought. I turned to G, who was witnessing my various outfits being paraded in front of him as he attempted to watch some YouTube video about machining, and asked, “Pick a dress and a shirt for me.”

That was how I came about choosing my dress from The Lake shoot — G chose the perfect option.

As for this little polka dot number, it was unashamedly from my dirty laundry basket. I had previously worn this while dressed as Lois Lane to G’s Clark Kent on Halloween only a few days prior to our engagement session. It was a staple to my wardrobe about two years ago, but as any woman can tell you, we tend to cycle in our weekly options. So it had been awhile since I’d actually worn this outfit professionally or socially. Knowing it was a good fit and neutral colors helped in my decision as well.

All in all, I recommend going with outfits that are comfortable and simple. I did not go overboard with my jewelry and chose against wearing any bright colors. I think this had a wonderful effect in allowing the colors of our environment really stand out and make the photographs more dimensional and dynamic.

In the end, the pictures aren’t truly about what you’re wearing anyways. Always remember that and take into account the real purpose of having your engagement pictures taken.

I never want to stop making memories with you.

Every day brings a plethora of new memories, each one my favorite. I cannot wait to see where else we go and what more we do, G. Forever and always.


Engagement Shots: The Road

Round Two is here, friends! As promised, I’m continuing with the second post of three for our stunning engagement photographs taken by Dear Olive Photography, and I have to admit, I’m pretty astonished in my own ability to keep these little gems off social media thus far. G and I have already printed all our pictures over the past week, plus ordered a few specialty items such as a photo book for our coffee table. The Christmas season is the perfect time to receive your professional pictures back — all the online stores (Walgreens, Shutterfly, etc.) are having amazing sales! So I am attempting to keep myself reigned in on the buying front and simply enjoy all these images digitally.

This post should help!

The day’s dreary skies had us worried how these photographs would turn out. I’ve dabbled in photography for fun in the past and know sunlight can be a pest for the art as well due to shadows and squinting and what-have-you, but the clouds truly appeared as if they were going to open on us at any moment throughout the whole shoot. Seeing these vivid colors and how amazingly Staci captured our natural surroundings though, I am so glad we were able to take these shots when we did! Given another week the trees would have been bear and the wind would have been our worst enemy. We were blessed!

One thing G and I always make sure to have time for in the mornings is our coffee. How we take our coffees varies just like our personalities, but in the end we love coffee and it’s one of the biggest reasons we are able to make it through every day. Kind of a symbolism our relationship. How we make our coffees is a symbol of our personalities — we differ in many ways and are very strong on different fronts. However, the core of our beings — our values, morals, beliefs, goals, etc. — the coffee itself if you will, is the same. Having one another in each other’s lives pushes us forward each and every day. We make each other better people. Happier people.

We love coffee.

I could use some coffee, actually…

Anyways, thinking of different props we could possibly use, we happened to find these adorable mugs at Pier 1 Imports and came up with the coffee idea. We brought two thermos of our favorite coffees and served one another, an act which is common in our livelihood. The pictures couldn’t have come out any cuter in my opinion! And, please, do not judge me on my coffee habits — I tend to like just a bit of coffee with my butter pecan creamer.

All that you are is all that I’ll ever need.

Thank you for being the one thing in my life to remain constant and consistent, G. You make me a better person, in every way, every single day, and I am so proud to call you my fiance. Forever and always.

Budgeting 101: Save the Dates

Now that we have our engagement pictures, G and I are ready to begin the trek into the wonderful world of postage, stationary, and all things calligraphy. I say wonderful very loosely though, friends, because as I have started to look into options it seems as if this stage may be one of the most over-looked expenses a bride-to-be has during her wedding planning experience! I mean, I never realized different envelope types needed different stamp costs. Nor did I know that there were so many options for stationary: postcard, petite, classic, folded, etc. When in the world did a card become so expensive?!

That brings me to today’s discussion: Save the Dates.

I’m sitting here with a glass of Cab Sauv thinking about budgeting and wishing my glass was a little bit more full… As I’ve said before, G and I are trying to be as thrifty as possible with our wedding. So spending an arm and leg on paper isn’t our idea of a party — we’d much rather spend more money on the actual party! Thus, I’ve been doing a lot of research.

Here are the most popular Save the Date stationary wedding websites and a little blurb on them:

Vistaprint – seems to be better for those needing smaller quantities; able to customize completely; most beginning cost of 10 for $7.30

Basic Invite – many templates; instant online customer service through chatbox; cost beginning as low as $0.64 with large quantity orders

Zazzle – range of amateur to professional looks; usually a special promotion happening every month; cost beginning at $0.95 per

Shutterfly – known for good quality with photographs; able to sort by price (!!); costs begin at $0.40 with large quantity orders

Minted – stunning designs; matching websites and other stationary; work with individual artists to customize; typically more pricey with costs beginning at $1.14 per

Of course, there is always Etsy as well, but it can be overwhelming simply sifting through the various stationary websites let alone all the individual storefronts. I recommend having a precise design in mind if you venture onto the crafting site. There are some adorable options, so definitely do not out-rule it if its within budget.

As we narrowed down our guest list, though, G and I began to realize that even some of the less expensive online options were going to be higher than our anticipated cost on our budget. (Granted, we honestly had no idea what number to put down under “stationary” when we first created the budget but still…) We are currently looking at about 200 guests, meaning about 110 Save the Dates need to be mailed out and when you do the math, that cost is pretty steep. So we looked at alternative options.

With my line of work I sometimes am placed into the position of contacting and working with local printing shops. Considering that we could also keep our money localized, G and I figured we might as well get some quotes on what creating our own Save the Dates might be and having them printed. So, jumping into my love for graphic design, I drew up a Save the Date postcard creation and asked for an estimate from the printing shop I work with the most.

Their quote brought a smile to our faces!

Given that quantities on most of the websites go in 25’s (100, 125, 150, etc.) we were pricing our stationary at 125 cards. This meant our average cost ran about $140 without envelopes and postage included. The printing shop though? For 125 4.25″ x 5.5″ postcards of our design would be around $36. Hmm…

The $36 quote was only for one-sided printing and would include an additional $12 for envelopes. We debated. Envelopes would mean sticking both our home address labels and our guests’ address labels to them, sticking a stamp to the corner, plus licking each to close the postcard inside. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of licking envelopes. Instead, I proposed we create a second side to the postcard — an actual postcard look with a message — and eliminate the need for envelopes altogether. In this manner we would only need to stick on the Deliver To address labels and a stamp and be Good. To. Go.

Done deal, friends!

Here is our final Save the Date graphic (they will have rounded corners when printed):

The final quote for this two-sided postcard is $56, which is such a far cry from the $140 + envelopes and postage. Plus, now that we are using 4.25″ x 5.5″ postcards, postage stamps are only $0.34! We’re so excited to have saved nearly $100 on this stationary which we can now apply towards something else on the budget. Woot!

Not just the budgeting factor makes this Save the Date the best for us as a couple. Like G said, I was able to create this postcard exactly as I wanted it — every inch of it is my creation. It may not be perfect. The fonts may not be exactly lined up or the paper have foil accents to it, but this was made by me. I love designing, and I was able to design my own Save the Date. I’m a bride who finds that to be really awesome! And we’ll be continuing this conception through to our other paper products for the wedding also… G and I are quickly becoming budgeting pros, finding corners to snip here and there to make this wedding our own while also affordable. I’m proud of us.

However, perhaps this option isn’t for you! That is completely okay. What are some other options you’ve found to be savvy with your stationary dollars while wedding planning? All of us brides-to-be would love to hear! Leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram @uncorkingpeonies. I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, friends,


Engagement Shots: The Lake

We have our engagement photographs back and we are ABSOLUTELY AMAZED at Staci’s talent (of Dear Olive Photography) and cannot wait for our wedding to be documented by her come June 2018! I am going to /attempt/ to restrain myself over the next three weeks and stretch all her amazing shots out into three beautiful posts because there are just so many pictures I just have to designate this much time to making inspiration boards for each setting she had G and I pose for her.

This is going to be extremely tough for me, friends, and I already can tell you the blog will be the last place you’ll be finding these pictures posted unfortunately. Now that G and I have meticulously gone through the files, I’ll be uploading the pictures to Facebook and sharing them on Instagram over the next few days for my friends and family to see.

These first set of images were actually the last ones we took the day of our shoot. It was almost dusk and all three of us were pretty much done with the day as a whole. Sunday, November 5th was the first day in about a month that Michigan had decided to stop raining. Yet, even though Mother Nature had decided she’d hold off on the waterworks, she still threatened us with an ominous sky and very cold temperatures. As G and I had spent the previous hour in the mucky and muddy woods at Grand Mere smiling for the camera, we were already pretty wet and cold as was by the time we made it to the beach, and I for the sake of style had chosen to wear a thin dress with a slit. We wanted these pictures to go quickly!

Staci did an amazing job at not letting the audience know how freezing G and me were at this point in the shoot, didn’t she?! I am also personally relieved that she caught the cute-side of my crinkly-nosed-squinty-eyed-realer-than-real-smile. When you see me smiling that smile, you know I’m not faking it. And hey, Staci caught me smiling like that pretty frequently with G and I’m still ridiculously fanatic about these pictures! This woman is a rock star.

Pardon my language but… Damn. These. Colors. Are. Incredible.

Not only that, but have you SEEN my fiance? Holy cow, friends! On top of being an amazingly hardworking, selfless, appreciative, family-oriented, God-loving, strong, encouraging, and honest man, the person I am marrying is H-O-T. I am, hands down, the luckiest woman in the world.

“I crave a love so deep, the ocean would be jealous.”

With you, I have found such a love, G, and I relish making the waves jealous every day. Forever and always.

How We Met: Her Story

I first came across the name “G” in my email’s inbox. As contact person for our church’s 20-something’s Bible study group, House, G had requested information on learning more about the group. I sent my little happy blurb about our friends and where he could join us for Bible study, and wouldn’t you know the next week in walks this blue-eyed, Clark Kent look-alike.

Over the next few months there were countless studies, dinners, and gatherings that allowed for me to watch and listen to G and witness his character. It was obvious how strong and confident he is in his actions and the type of influence he has on those around him. He is the type of person who demands respect, yet has a kind and reserved spirit. He is a good man.

So, it was easy to fall for him.

But I wasn’t sure of his feelings for me. Was I just a good friend to venture to car shows with and laugh with at parties or was I a bit more? I decided to try my cards and find out.

G’s parents were out of town one weekend and I was lucky enough to be allowed my parents’ Corvette to drive for a friend’s wedding. Knowing how much G would coo over the car, I offered to pick him up and take him to church in style Sunday morning. We cruised around town, him going over all the mechanics of the car, until I dropped him back off at his house. Then, before he exited the Vette (and forgot his lunch leftovers in the passenger seat), he asked me if he could take me on a date “just one on one” sometime. I smiled and nodded. We didn’t define any actual day or time, but I did find out his feelings for me.

I zipped away laughing to myself.

And the funnier part? The date turned out to be that evening! Neither of us had plans and the weather was absolutely perfect, so we went for a hike at Grand Mere State Park. It was G’s idea; after witnessing months of me wearing professional clothes to our Bible studies and always seeming to be so put together, G wanted to be sure I wasn’t too “prissy” for his ol’ country boy ways and could handle getting sweaty in the great outdoors. He says it was a great surprise when I got out on the dunes, t-shirt and ponytail, and never complained about the heat or miles we hiked. We spent hours talking and laughing, and I fell even harder that evening.

And the rest is history…