Watters Bridesmaids Dresses

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Watters. The opinions and text are all mine.

Earlier this year, my bridesmaids and I visited the Watters headquarters to pick out their bridesmaids dresses! In May, they received all of their dresses, and this past weekend, I got to shoot a few of them in it!

This was one of my favorite shoots all YEAR because I got to capture my beautiful bridesmaids in their dresses for the first time! Not everyone could make it, but I'm happy to have been able to shoot Jen, Angela, and Kat!

 Left to right: Jen wearing  Deni , Angela wearing  Summer , and Kat wearing  Lottie

Left to right: Jen wearing Deni, Angela wearing Summer, and Kat wearing Lottie

I really loved that everyone got to choose a dress they liked from the Watters/Wtoo collections also! I wanted to be sure that everyone felt confident in how they look and feel in their dresses in September!

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Don't they all look so beautiful? I'm so proud to call them my bridesmaids! I can't wait to see the other three girls in their dresses also! I know everyone is going to look amazing!

South Carolina: Montage Palmetto Bluff

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Montage Palmetto Bluff. The opinions and text are all mine.

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A couple weekends ago, Montage Palmetto Bluff graciously hosted a group of us at their property. The itinerary was so carefully planned out so that we could experience our next few days through the eyes of the guests who come back again and again to this beautiful resort. We rode horses, shot clay targets, kayaked, tubed in the May River, rode our bikes around the neighborhood, and so much more! I felt like I was living a whole summer in only a few days! And the inn itself has the most gorgeous decor... Even the residences were beautiful, and even though they were mainly second or third homes for a lot of Northeasterners, they were fully and impeccably furnished. Hopefully, my blog post does the experience justice, and you'll be able to relive the trip with me.

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Day 1

On the first day, we checked in and relaxed a bit before going on a tour of the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy. The property is 20,000 acres, and they are extremely passionate about keeping the ecological and environmental integrity of the lands the same as it was before they built upon it. In fact, more species thrive here now than before. Scientists actually come here to conduct studies of wildlife that they don't have access to anywhere else (like the Northern long-eared bats, which have never been seen this far south).  

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On this tour, we attempted to release a 2-year-old turtle into a pond, but there was an 8'9" alligator coming towards us, so our guide Justin saved it for another time! We also looked into a bird nest and found newly hatched chicks! Then we walked through the forest, where Justin taught us about all the different trees, plants, animals, and even gave us fun facts about the history of the land. I really loved how passionate he is about his job, and I would later find out that everyone who works here is passionate about Palmetto Bluff. The area is what attracts the best of the best, whether it's a sommelier, boating tour guide, or property manager! 

In the evening, we visited a 5-story treehouse that overlooked the marshes. It was an incredible view! We saw people fishing on the dock, and blue and green as far as the eye could see.

After our sightseeing, we went to eat dinner at Cole's, which had stunning views of the marsh! I couldn't stop staring out the window at the humongous trees! I felt like we were in a safari treehouse. And when the sun was setting... oh wow. After dinner was bowling, which was in the same building! What a fun restaurant!

Day 2

The second day, we woke up dark and early! Yep, we kayaked the May River as the sun was rising. We even saw dolphins! All the while, our guide was telling us about the habitat, oysters, fish, and birds in the area. Another passionate soul, as I was telling you about! 

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In the afternoon, we went to the Palmetto Shooting Club where I went clay target shooting for the first time! I'm actually pretty scared of guns, but it was a good time, and I managed to shoot a few targets down! Eeek. 

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Octagon Porch

During our downtimes when we could get breakfast or lunch at leisure, I was always drawn to the Octagon Porch. The porch seating is GORGEOUS! And it just opened up in May! It used to be a regular porch, but the staff noticed that people liked to hang out there a lot and would even ask to bring their meals from the restaurant into this area. So they turned this space into a dining area. I love how much thought and attention they pay their guests! I think it's so impressive they noticed an area could be better utilized and turned it into something people loved even more.

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After lunch, we spent the entire afternoon on the water! We got on a boat and headed to Page Island, where we ate snacks and relaxed. On the way there, our guide had the BEST stories that kept us laughing, and, again, we learned so much about the history of Palmetto Bluff! More and more, I fell in love with the area and the people!

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As we headed to back to the river for some swimming, the skies opened up, and we actually had a blast jumping off the dock and tubing the rest of the way home! That's what I love about South Carolina - the storms pass quickly, and it's as if they never happened! 

After our Page Island excursion, we still weren't done! We got cleaned up and then went on a May River cruise down to the quaint town of Bluffton.

We got to take a bike taxi tour through the streets, where learned more about the antebellum homes, historic churches, and history of the town.

Our final destination in Bluffton was FARM, one of the best farm-to-table restaurants I've eaten at in awhile... everything was amazing! I love that the restaurant carefully selects their partners based on mutual respect for the land, the animal, and the people who tend to them.

Day 3

My last full day started with a late morning trail ride. The stables were so stunning and built from the perspective of a horse! It was my first time horseback riding since 5th grade, so I was a little intimidated (I have a fear of being kicked by a horse), but the horses were so gentle and had such fun personalities! 

After the trail ride, I went to get my 90-minute massage at the spa. I fell asleep and woke up sooo refreshed!

After a bit of relaxation time, we headed to the inn fire pit to enjoy an evening sampling of Culinary Heirlooms. "Each evening, the culinary team shares one of four items that they have determined to be culturally significant in the gastronomic history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry." They have shrimp & grits, frogmore stew, Hoppin' John, and grilled oysters. This night was oysters!

After that, they drove the bar cart over to us, and we got to taste the resort's Signature barrel-aged Artillery Punch.

Afterward, we had our farewell dinner at Octagon Porch and s'mores back at the fire pit! What a beautiful ending to our trip! 

I hope you were able to relive this weekend with me! There was so much to see and do, and I loved learning about Lowcountry culture! My friends at Montage Palmetto Bluff were also gracious enough to provide me with a promo code to give to all of you: Reserve two nights in a guest house suite or cottage accommodation and receive a third night complimentary for select dates in Summer. Click here to book with the promo code KarenL!

Multicultural Wedding Planning

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of WeddingWire. The opinions and text are all mine.

Asian weddings. I love them, and I hate them. My hopes on the first few wedding venue options were crushed when I learned it didn't have the capacity to hold all our guests. Why must we have almost 300 guests, with 200 being family and/or people we don't know? How do we pay respect to our elders when we're not fluent in the language? How do we let non-Asian guests know that our culture takes cash as wedding gifts? It's been a tough aspect of our wedding planning.

I'm Chinese, and Brian is Vietnamese. My family is actually from Vietnam, so culturally, I didn't mind doing a Vietnamese tea ceremony. However, the logistics were hard to plan because neither of our parents live in the same city as us. I also asked my mom how to plan for a tea ceremony, and she basically shrugged and said her mom planned it for her. I don't know how to speak about weddings in Cantonese. Cue headache.

I looked into a helpful WeddingWire article on this topic as well: 11 Tips to Help You Plan a Multicultural Wedding. There were some tips I'm used to, like holding two separate ceremonies, but it also gave me ideas I never thought about, like hiring a wedding planner with experience. However, I didn't know where to begin to look for a tea ceremony planner, and we didn't want to spend extra money on a just a tea ceremony.

However much I wanted to wear a pretty ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) and have our families meet, it just wasn't coming to fruition. In the end, it seemed like neither of our families would be disappointed if we DIDN'T have a tea ceremony, so we decided not to. However, we are going to wear our traditional gowns during the reception, which I saw was something WeddingWire also suggested! I actually won't be wearing an ao dai but a cheongsam (Chinese traditional dress) instead.

 A wedding I helped shoot, with the mother of the bride in a traditional Korean hanbok

A wedding I helped shoot, with the mother of the bride in a traditional Korean hanbok

We're also going to be serving Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine! In the end, we're keeping a lot of our culture, and we're happy enough with that! As for the tradition of receiving cash gifts, the WeddingWire forums have also been very helpful! We just won't set up a registry, but we won't ASK for cash either because it's perceived as rude to ask money. I also learned that in some cultures, it's rude to set up a registry. Ahh traditions.