Lifestyle

Lessons Learned From Our Wedding

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

All photography by  Brant Smith

All photography by Brant Smith

Wow! It’s been almost a month since our wedding, and I feel like a whole new woman. The stress disappeared instantly, and it was all worth it. Not worth doing again, but totally worth it this one and only time. Here are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned from wedding planning.

1. Delegate/Ask for Help

This one seems like a no-brainer. But as a Type A personality, it was hard to let things go. And that was because I thought I had it all figured out! I had planned 75% of my wedding within 3 months, so I had the mentality of, “Duh, I got this.” I was even ahead in my WeddingWire monthly checklist (heck yeah)!

But unexpected things pop up. Parents want to invite 50 more guests. Wedding favors didn’t turn out the way you thought they would. You have too much on your plate to run errands after work. I thought I could provide all the answers, but it turned out Brian and our friends were saviors. Brian was at the front lines dealing with parents’ requests, my creative friend Vivian of Lefty Design volunteered to make us last-minute wedding favors, and, once again, Brian stepped up to purchase all of the alcohol and miscellaneous supplies for the wedding. These tremendously helped me in the last month of the wedding when I was breaking out in stress acne and cried more than I had cried the entire year!

2. Expect the Unexpected

You can’t expect everything to go right at your wedding. I came to terms with that the morning of. I let EVERY expectation go. And I had never felt more calm.

On my way to the venue, Brian called from a friend’s phone to tell me he lost his phone… Okay, no problem. We came up with a game plan for communicating with family.

Our guests drank all of the Hennessy, Jameson, and white wine during cocktail hour, despite us researching alcohol quantities on WeddingWire’s forums and our bartender and coordinator giving us their estimated amounts. Our coordinator said, “I’ve never seen this before.” So proud of our friends, ha! Brian made the call on how much more liquor to buy because the bartenders were willing to go on a liquor store run. Crisis averted.

One of our friends got laid out flat during my bouquet toss! I had to walk over fire ant hills during my ceremony (“as long as you keep moving, they won’t get you”). I went to change in my bridal room and saw a random girl sleeping in a chair. I went again for another outfit change and a GROOMSMAN was sleeping in the room!

I was just going with the flow, so it was all simply amusing! I’m so glad I faced the day with that attitude instead of wanting everything to go 100% smoothly. All of these were so unexpected but made our day SO memorable and a million times more beautiful.

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3. Everything Will Work Out

I was talking to someone about my wedding worries, such as details being forgotten (plates, napkins, cutlery, etc.), but they told me that everyone is so willing to help out that I wouldn’t even need to worry about it. Her example was that they forgot to get plates for the cake at their wedding, but a cousin volunteered to go buy some before she even realized there weren’t any plates! Just like the alcohol example in #2, we didn’t even think of the possibility of running out of THE MOST important liquor (Asians love that Henneyyyy) by cocktail hour. But our coordinator notified us right away, and we were able to get more! Just don’t even stress yourself out thinking of worst case scenarios because things will sort themselves out!

4. Spend on What Matters to Both of You

Everyone has their opinion on what weddings should include. Fancy menus. Elaborate seating charts. Videographer. What was most important to us was good food and good alcohol to keep our guests happy! I didn’t spend much on decor at ALL because we wanted a simple venue that was beautiful in itself from the get-go. Floral was a little more expensive but that was to make up for the lack of extra decor.

We didn’t spend a ton on invitations or save the dates either. I’m lucky that I know Photoshop and have design skills to create my own, but this was in addition to us not caring about fancy stationery. We also researched fancy cake ideas on WeddingWire, but we ended up going with something that was truly us: berry Chantilly cake!

I also didn’t care to come up with ideas and material for a seating chart and opted to go with ushers instead. To be honest, I don’t know if they got my list of table seating at all, but everyone was able to find their seats! Another example of “don’t worry too much because everything will sort itself out.”

5. You WILL Go Over Budget

I asked our main vendors for estimates such as food, floral, and alcohol, but you never know until get closer to that final guest count! And we dropped a pretty penny on more alcohol because of our Hennessy debacle. But also, small things really add up. I’m a spreadsheet type of planner, and I still didn’t think to add in menu stands for each table, last minute ideas such as customized coffee sleeves, our last minute wedding favors, the extra hair stylist we needed, and our personal sign-in table decor. You truly can’t think of everything in the beginning phase of planning! So yes, do plan to go over your original budget!

Thank you for reading and following along on our wedding journey! A huge thanks to all of our vendors for making our day so easy. And another huge thank you to WeddingWire for being my resource for the past YEAR!

Here is a beautiful sneak peek of our wedding day by Thy Ngo!

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Coordinator: Love + Sparrows
Floral & Design: Love + Sparrows
Venue: The Venue at Waterstone
Hair & Makeup: AKP Artistry
Hair pieces: Maggie Wu Studio
Wedding Dress: Mockingbird BridalCristiano Lucci
Bridesmaids Dresses: Watters
Suits: The Black Tux
Photography: Brant Smith
Videography: Thy Ngo
DJ: RLF Society
Catering: Andy’s Catering


Michelob ULTRA Fit Fest

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

A few weekends ago, I traveled out to Scottsdale, Arizona to experience the very first Michelob #ULTRAFitFest! It was a weekend full of fitness activities, informative panels, recovery, live music, and more! It was actually the weekend before my wedding, but it was everything I needed to sweat out any remaining stress and recover for the big day.

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I got in on Friday and immediately went to a Gluteus Maxout class. I thought classes would be toned down because the weekend would be jam-packed full of fitness classes, but nope… that workout really set the tone for the whole weekend. I was SO sore the next day!

The whole experience was so cool because we got to pick and choose our classes through an app. You could customize your experience to be as active or relaxing as you wanted it! For example, one of my days started with Y7 Yoga in the morning, then a panel about Building Your Best Runner, a training camp, recovery at the Manor House where I got my hair braided, a nutrition panel, the WaveMaker workout with Gerren Liles and BODY by Kenny Santucci, and a fireside chat with Jera Foster-Fell about Defeating the Odds.

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This was all before Pure Golden Hour, a celebration with Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold! We also got to see a live performance by Kali Uchis!

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We also had delicious, healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Not pictured: barbecue, rice, beans, salmon, zoodles, and more… it was all so good!

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There was also an awesome pool party, but I didn’t get to jump in because I didn’t want tan lines before putting on a wedding dress! I wish I could have taken so many other classes too, like outdoor City Surf or the meal prep cooking demo, but spots filled up fast. I’m super passionate about fitness and nutrition, so I had an amazing experience. I worked every muscle in my body and was able to walk away with more knowledge about running and nutrition. I can truly say that this fun-filled weekend made both my body and mind extremely happy.

I’ll look forward to next year’s annual ULTRA Fit Fest!

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I wish I could’ve brought my camera around more, but below are some great shots by LYVISUALS!


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!