five years later

Once again, I flew off the radar! No, it hasn't been quite five years since I blogged last, but having a baby in February + several very demanding (incredible!) full-scale planning events have put this on the backburner. We all need grace, and this is certainly one of those areas I need it in! (Priorities > blogging)

But five years! Five years ago, I was getting my nails painted and dashing off to pick up last-minute wedding props and showing up late to my own rehearsal and panickedly calling my wedding venue owner because Drew left his late mother's diamond engagement ring on a table before another big event that was happening after we rehearsed. Tomorrow will be our fifth wedding anniversary (and no, I sadly haven't picked out a wooden gift for Drew... we definitely fail on the whole gift-giving thing at this time of year). 

Five years have seen us survive the CPA exam, two pregnancies and subsequent chunky babies, buy a house, start a business, get a couple of unfortunate diagnoses, drink a lot of wine, and eat a lot of Mexican food. We've been out of the country twice, to Charleston countless times, moved twice, and celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving at the beach a LOT.

We gained and lost 60-something pounds between the two of us over five years. We stopped eating bread for the most part and discovered a legitimately good $5 sparkling wine (Trader Joe's Secco -- you're welcome.). We've painted walls and a deck, assembled a lot of furniture (and an insanely complicated play kitchen), hung and rewired a chandelier, planted and killed a ton of basil, and swept a lot of floors.

We bought two new cars, sold the damn Jeep, adopted a second cat, and talked endlessly about our imaginary poodle Lulu (who will one day be my diabetic alert dog). We've laughed, cried, dreamed, prayed, fought, and spent way too much money on a couch our cat destroyed in about a week. We made it through yoga teacher training, a four-month stint working in Knoxville, high-risk pregnancies, an ant infestation, and nearly getting scammed by some dude in Africa pretending to rent us a house in Franklin.

We've been to funerals and weddings, held friends' babies at hospitals, thrown showers, and shared a lot of dinners with friends. Drew met his best friend who happens to be marrying my college roommate / friend from and for forever, who we happened to name our second baby after. I met my estranged grandmother, and my daughters met all three of their living great-grandmothers. I birthed a baby the same exact day as my best friend (both girls).

We've learned countless lessons over the course of five years:  to not make assumptions in business, to turn on water and electricity and gas when you move into a new house, that a relaxing vacation usually means we're coming back to something challenging, to make friends with neighbors, to always have a spare key, that investing in the kingdom of God always has great ROI, to fail to plan is to plan to fail, how much our parents actually love us, to forge our own paths, that we're awfully resilient, the value in persistence and loyalty, and that baby mole our cat chased into our kitchen is actually a shrew. We've made a lot of guacamole (AKA avocado + garlic + pink sea salt), a lot of french press coffee, and finally bought a crockpot. 

We've become totally different people than we were five years ago (particularly when I was handed a brand new brain in 2015 upon Lilly's arrival into the world), but I like us so much more now. We are abundantly wealthy, with medical insurance and running water and HVAC and working cars and shelter and clothes and groceries, more than we could ever want or need and family nearby. 

We have been blessed beyond measure these last five years. I can't imagine what could top this in 5 more, but I'm willing to stick around and see what happens, to say the least.

Happy anniversary, Drew!

nearing the end of 2016

Happy holidays, y'all! We are somehow staring down the end of the year with less than three weeks until Christmas -- which also means our final wedding of the 2016 season. We are closing out 2016 with a big ole' wedding bang:  Lauren & Chris' downtown Nashville New Year's Eve wedding!!! You can expect to see many sparkles, confetti flakes, balloons, and candles galore shared as we close out the year and enter into one of our most exciting wedding years yet. 2017 is shaping up to be busy, beautiful, and a new pace for Kelly Dellinger Events. 

Personally, I'll be giving birth to our second child (another girl - Julianna Cate!) in late winter. For this reason, we have not taken on any weddings for production in January - April. We will also be halting in-person consultations for the month of March (as we adjust to live as a family of four and I recover physically -- not to mention soak in all those newborn snuggles! Swoon!). Then we'll be back in the saddle and ready to take on our whirlwind of 2017 weddings!!!! *heart eyes*

We're SO excited for our roster of 2017 clients -- couples from Arizona, Chicago, Atlanta, and our own backyard of Nashville will be getting married at stunning venues like Ruby, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Richland Country Club, Belle Meade Plantation, and a private estate in Owensboro, Kentucky! 

2016 was a great year -- full of challenges, new lessons learned, some incredible people met, really amazing travels, and obviously the growing of our family. I'm looking forward to recapping our eventful 2016 wedding season here on the blog in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that! 

I'll leave you with these family photos my dear friend Amy Cherry did for us in September. Wishing you & yours the merriest of Christmases and a very happy close to your year!

 

 

curating the perfect wedding guest list

Curating the guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. Nothing can spark a huge fight quite like your future MIL sending you a list of 65 friends she wants to include when all you wanted was a TOTAL guest count of 30. Or when you plan to invite your entire sorority pledge class, but try to limit your fiancé to 3 friends outside of groomsmen. It requires a delicate balance of compromise, negotiation, and lots of grace / communication to get it right. Here are my "rules" and recommendations for alleviating some of the stress involved:

{all images in this post are by Bamber Photography}

1. First and foremost, figure out what your absolute restrictions are. Maybe your venue can only accommodate 120 guests, tops. Maybe your budget only allows you to have the scale of wedding you'd love to have if you invite a maximum of 150. Figure out what the ABSOLUTE largest number of guests you can have is, and keep that number in mind. Communicate that number over to family members creating guest lists. ("No, you cannot invite 90 'close friends.' We can only have 100 guests TOTAL, Mom.")

2. With every guest, ask yourself this question -- would you take this person out and pay for their dinner? That's essentially what you're doing by hosting them. Do you have an ongoing relationship with them, do you plan to stay close with them long term? Or did they play a very meaningful part of one stage of your life and therefore leave a lasting mark that you'd like to acknowledge by including them?

3. Do not give in to pressure points like "well, they invited me to their wedding" or "they said something to me about attending the wedding" or "we were close for a very short period of time" (but definitely not anymore). It's even OK to say no to certain family members if you're not remotely close and it won't cause detrimental damage to family dynamics to exclude them. (Also - wedding guests-to-be, QUIT ASSUMING YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO BE INVITED. Sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut and just say congratulations when you hear of a friend getting engaged. Be delighted and surprised when you receive an invitation! It is much better to be pleasantly surprised than utterly disappointed. One day you will too be in their shoes, or perhaps you already were. Empathy, y'all!)

4. Remember this aspect of the wedding is not just about you -- you're accommodating your fiance's friends and family, as well as your parents' friends and families too. Sometimes with divorced parents, you may be dealing with 2 - 6+ different "guest lists" to combine, pare down, and work with. Definitely encourage parents to narrow down their lists dramatically if they give you a million people to add, maybe even a set number they can't exceed. This can be tricky territory, especially when someone other than you is paying for the wedding.

5. Make sure to write every single person's name on the invitation you send so there are no questions if just the head of household is invited or the entire family. It's totally fine to personally explain to people (or have a diplomatic family member reach out) if they ask why they were excluded. Leave no room for confusion, however. No one wins when who is invited is left up to personal interpretation -- a guest without a seat and plated dinner at the reception will not be happy, so better to let the disappointment set in on the front end than to deal with that humiliation on the back end. (NOTE:  You only have to purchase enough invitations to send one per household. So don't think you need 300 invites for 300 guests.)

6. It's ok to be uneven on sides -- if you have a huge family and your groom doesn't or vice versa. Try to be fair with friend lists and family friend guests, while keeping in mind who is footing the bill.

7. For coworkers -- do not fall into the trap of "invite everyone or invite no one." People are understanding for the most part (and if they're not, their loss), and it's ridiculous to invite an entire department just for the sake of saving face. DO NOT hand out invitations at work (LAWDAMERCY NO), but feel free to mail invites to those people you are closest to. Use discretion with inviting your boss. (Are you actually close? Will this detrimentally affect your work life if you don't invite them?)

8. GENERALLY, you can expect 75% of your invited guests to attend. This can obviously vary depending on the percentage of guests required to travel to get to the wedding or the time of year (if you're having a Christmastime wedding, do not be surprised to see that number dip to 40 - 50%), but as a general rule, not everyone you invite will come, and some of the people you were CERTAIN would not come WILL come. You will also have some guests RSVP and not actually attend, and some guests show up that did NOT RSVP. You can manage this better by hassling them around the RSVP date to give you a DEFINITE ANSWER and generally pressuring them to be accurate. But all this is to say -- if you can only fit 75 guests in your venue and you want to invite 400, YOU ARE CRAZY AND IT WILL NOT WORK. (Exception:  If 300 of those guests are celebrities / President Obama / people you have absolutely no relationship with whatsoever.)

End point:  It is impossible to include everyone that has ever meant anything in you and your fiancé's (and your families') lives. You must be cutthroat. Who do you actually want to see on your wedding day? You can always blame the venue and say, "We simply don't have room."

Happy planning!

anniversary time:: another list of do-over's!

Every year as I approach my husband's and my wedding anniversary, we get a little older and wiser and look back with retrospect at how we did our wedding, and what we might do differently had we gotten married later. Of course, I would've killed Drew had he not proposed until we'd been dating 8 or 9 years, but this is hypothetical anyways. And also I totally understand that this is coming from a place of having had our wedding exactly as it was (so maybe if we HAD eloped and only had 20 guests, I'd be sitting here writing about the huge Southern wedding we wished we could've had... the grass is always greener on the other side).

{See what we would've done differently one year out here!}

Without further ado, here are the things I think four years out, we might have done differently:

Pay more attention in writing invitations. Include everyone's names on envelopes. Cut down the guest list but communicate clearly to avoid hurt feelings later on.

Smaller bridal party and guest list, probably. As you get older you pare down those you're closest to!

Keep up with thank you notes!!! Better system for tracking, follow up where needed. (I'm still getting flack about screwing these up. Brides, take heed and get organized in this arena!)

Try the pistachio cake!!! Juanita doesn't make it anymore. :(

Pay for a bigger cake.

Opt for a smaller bachelorette party group, and go on a little weekend excursion to a beach city away (like NOLA or Charleston or Savannah).

Hot glue the cake topper to its base, since Ken kept falling off. 

More classic bridesmaid shoes and accessories. I wanted to go whimsical and I did, but I now look back and think what?? Some pretty pink teardrop earrings would've gone with my emerald ones and looked lovely. And an almond-toed leather shoe in a similar hue would have looked a little more timeless than the rounded suede pink pumps I had them wear. But it was just the style then!

Wear Clean Feel bug spray (non-greasy! unscented! my favorite!) to avoid those millions of mosquito bites.

Start the wedding a hour earlier, add on extra hour of dancing. Attend cocktails and serve a simple dinner. I did love our cake and coffee reception but we were starving and I'm sure guests were too!

Not feel bad asserting boundaries and cutting off people who chatted us up too long.

Maybe nix the ice cream bar, since it melted anyways in the 95-degree heat!

Ante up the cash to provide ample champagne for guests. We didn't need to serve a full bar (that's not really our style), but we needed way more champ than we had.

Provide hair stylist for bridesmaids. We did fine without it, but it would've been nice to pamper everyone.

More classic song selections. I've mentioned this before, but I was really trying to be clever with Pour Some Sugar On Me for our cake cutting...

Walk slower down the aisle. I dragged my dad at lightspeed... 

Cut my dad's jacket stays.

Not set an alarm the morning after the wedding. We had all day to sleep in and catch up on rest, but instead we woke up too early and were bored out of our minds all day.

Put more thought into the letters we wrote one another.

Store a nice bottle of champ that ages well in our wine box. 

Opt for a looser style updo and darker lips. Maybe do a lighter nail color. 

Thank my vendor team in my speech.

Do different favors and nicer escort cards and table numbers.

Finalize seating chart the week of/before the wedding and tell people no when they tried to RSVP late.

Pare down our photo list so the things that were most important got captured. Like the punch bowl.

Label items better, have fewer knickknacks for planner to keep up with.

Opt for nicer champagne. Get a bottle of Veuve for me & Drew.

Maybe buy the more expensive wedding dress. I still think about it.

Put more thought into comprising our ceremony script. Change the verses to more meaningful ones.

Dance with my dad to the song he actually requested.

Do a post-wedding brunch to see everyone before they departed.

Cut our honeymoon down to 6 days, 5 nights in Riviera Maya, and not go to Cozumel afterwards.

In all honesty, if we redid our wedding older and wiser, we'd probably elope to some destination beach, only invite absolute closest friends and family, and spoil the heck out of them. We were so concerned with trying to include everyone that we didn't even get to see 1/3 of the guests that came. We didn't have any semblance of an unlimited budget so this would've allowed us to "do right" for a few guests rather than scrape by for everyone (and still piss people off because that's inevitable). We could've sent announcements after the fact so no one felt pressured to give us a gift but could still be in the loop. That would've saved the headache of keeping up with so many table assignments / thank you cards / last-minute RSVPs / getting to talk to everyone. We probably would've been a little sad to not include everyone but I think it would've been worth it. Ah well!!!

Photo credits: Kelsey & Jon Bufkin and Kristine Neeley.

last-minute Mother's Day gifting

Oh haiiiii -- totally been MIA over here in 2016. We've been buried deep in planning beautiful weddings, putting together the cutest welcome boxes, setting up elaborate installations for parties, fulfilling a couple bridesmaid/MOH duties (#2016yearofthewedding), attending many a cake tasting, and making some dreams come to life. No big deal, right? ;) Oh, and also spending ample time with my ONE YEAR OLD (!!!). Yep, just like that, it happened. One year. One year down in the parenting track. Can't handle. Won't handle.

Anyways, now that I'm a mom, I understand the importance of celebrating the mothers in your life even more than ever before. These women birthed you, reared you, cheered you on, prayed for you, stayed up with you when you wouldn't sleep, took care of you when you were sick, probably got bitten by you, gave up their previous lives for you... you get the picture. Even if she's not your biological mother, I pray we all have someone (s) who serve in this capacity.

So even if you're a procrastinator (Mother's Day is Sunday, May 8, y'all!), here are a few suggestions for something lovely to express a token of your gratitude for that person who answers to "Mommmmmmmmm!!!!" (Or you know, just answers your late-night sobbing phone call when you can't take college anymore / feel homesick / have a sick newborn baby of your own / fill-in-the-blank.)

FLOWERS.

smells divine, will always make her smile! peony bouquet by Amanda Jerkins,  captured by Spindle Photography

smells divine, will always make her smile! peony bouquet by Amanda Jerkins,  captured by Spindle Photography

Okay, yes, this is maybe the most generic of all mother's day gifts, but even as someone who sees a lot of flowers in my day, I still appreciate their beauty and love getting a bouquet that was specifically picked out for me. (As opposed to taking home a centerpiece or two after an event.) Tulips, dahlias, peonies, garden roses, big pink lilies... can't go wrong unless she's allergic.

SPA/SALON GIFT CARD.

This is another one-size-fits-most gift. Pedicures were a way I took time for myself a couple weeks before I had Lilly, and the first thing I did when I got a couple hours alone the month after she was born. Massages are also an A+! Pampering = good idea.

EVERYDAY JEWELRY.

Kendra Scott Elisa -- classic, dainty, sparkly, not gaudy. perfect for everyday!

Kendra Scott Elisa -- classic, dainty, sparkly, not gaudy. perfect for everyday!

You obviously have to know your audience, but I feel like a beautiful piece of everyday jewelry is a great idea. Doesn't have to be anything insane (I'm not saying you should go out and buy that wedding band topper ring unless you really want to), but a pretty pair of freshwater pearl stud earrings (make sure you get the right size -- some of us are PICKY), a gorgeous druzy pendant necklace (I haven't met a woman yet that didn't like SOMETHING at Kendra Scott. Am I crazy? Or is her stuff that crowd-pleasing?), something sterling silver or gold engraved with her baby's birthday or initials, a nice twisted cuff bracelet, or even just a pretty monogrammed right-hand ring would be so lovely. Bonus points for engraving / personalizing / tying in her children or grandchildren into the design. But maybe not the little square picture bracelets that were popular in the early 2000s. Think legitimately wearable. Less is more!

FUN JEWELRY

pinch pinch

On the other hand, maybe she'd appreciate something fun that she wouldn't otherwise buy herself (but still fits her style / is legitimately wearable). A statement necklace, a pretty set of stackable beaded bracelets, a lovely pair of earrings, maybe a fun watch. J Crew Factory is a goldmine for gorgeous statement jewelry that doesn't break the bank and even Charming Charlie's has some fun pieces (that are also excellent and inexpensive for buying in bulk for your matching bridesmaids -- brides take note!).

CHAMPAGNE

An excellent addition to anything else (champagne & peonies go GREAT together, don't they?!), you could also opt for a stand-alone bubbly like Veuve Cliquot orange label. YUM!

THE GIFT OF SHOES

melissa wedges

Maybe she resigned herself to wearing sensible shoes after the birth of her baby. A gift card to DSW would help her find her shoe mojo again, right? Or at least replace that nasty pair of wedges she's worn and loved since the pre-baby years?

MOMENTS CAPTURED

If it's been since her wedding that she's had a professional take photos of her, wouldn't it be nice to gift her a photography session of her & her little (or big) ones? It doesn't matter if her children are adults, it's always nice to have moments in time captured beautifully. OR, alternatively, if she has all the images but never takes the time to print them, it would mean so much to have beautiful prints or an album or photo book to look back rather than scrolling through years of instagram feeds. With companies like Chatbooks (that literally print your instagram) and even high-quality Apple photo books, it's so easy to make these! I love Mpix for prints, too.

A TROPICAL VACATION

this hat would be a definite plus to commemorate the occasion!

this hat would be a definite plus to commemorate the occasion!

Perhaps the best idea of them all, what mom wouldn't like to get away with a fruity cocktail in a coconut with no responsibilities?! Call up my good friend Carlie and find yourself thousands of miles away with just the ocean breeze. But maybe avoid the Zyka virus areas if she wants more kids soon... (Yikes.)

Other Ideas:

You don't have to spend any actual money. It's the THOUGHT, the APPRECIATION, and the effort that makes a difference. Saying Happy Mother's Day, going a little out of your way to do something nice for her (change all the diapers that day? let her get away with no laundry or cooking? wash her car?), or writing a super sweet note to express your gratitude for who she is and what she's done can mean the world to a mom. Maybe she wants a day to just chill at home, no plans. Maybe she wants to go out to brunch at a cute restaurant and get some bottomless mimosas. Maybe she wants a hot shower, a nap, and a meditative yoga class. (Doesn't that sound nice?!) Know the mom you're honoring. What would she love? What would she delight in? Do that.

For me, I'm hoping for some baby snuggles (I'm in luck -- snuggliest baby ever over here), taking a lot of posed photos with nobody complaining (ahem, Drew), and a sweet card. Last Mother's Day was a hormonal blur -- we had a two-week-old and were traveling to three different family members' houses, it was the official last day of Drew's paternity leave, and anxiety was high.

Here's to a beyond-survival-mode Mother's Day, and honoring all those incredible women who made us who we are today!

simple successful salads

This may be a little odd for a wedding planning blog, but today I bring you the simplest formula for a successful salad. Behold, the ultimate delicious-maker combo: fruit + nut + cheese. Plus salad, obviously. Mix and match your favorite leafy greens and vegetables of choice. 

Watermelon + Feta + Arugula -- Cru Catering's masterpiece at our Charleston shoot, photographed by Amy Cherry

Watermelon + Feta + Arugula -- Cru Catering's masterpiece at our Charleston shoot, photographed by Amy Cherry

Some favorite combinations: 

- Romaine + pistachios + bleu cheese + blueberries
- Spinach + strawberries + pine nuts + goat cheese
- Butter lettuce + avocado + pecans + bleu cheese
- Butter lettuce + peanuts + carrot sticks + mandarin oranges (not sure what cheese would complement this one but I'm sure there is one!)
- Romaine + shaved parmesan + avocado + pepitas
- Spring greens + raspberries + feta + almonds
- Spring greens + sliced almonds + cranberries + goat cheese

Whatever you've got on hand, toss and serve! Delicious!

Side note:  I'm very picky, and our favorite store-bought salad dressings come from the Simply Dressed line (we get ours at Publix but I'm sure they're everywhere). Loooove their Caesar and Bleu Cheese dressings.

new year, new resolve

HELLOOOOO, 2016! I'm coming for you.

2015 kicked me on my rear in a big way, so I'm starting this one off ridiculously optimistic and probably unrealistic, too. I am DETERMINED to try my best 100% this year in every avenue.

I'm not going to pretend like I'll be blogging daily or suddenly have a perfect social media calendar planned or a crazy roster of 25 weddings this year, but I am setting (hopefully) attainable goals and planning for success in '16.

You know how last year I wanted "nourish" to be my word, my intention? And how I so desperately did NOT want it to be "survive"? It was totally survive. Sometimes you just can't beat fate.

I don't know if I have a word yet, besides "try." Usually the ACTUAL word doesn't reveal itself until we're a few months in, so maybe I'll let this one happen organically. For now, my focus is to try.

BIG GOALS to aspire to:

2016.png

1. Wake before 7am most days. Maybe not weekends, but at least during the week. There are morning hours when Lilly sleeps that are precious for my productivity. Must. Capitalize!

2. No alcohol. This is a big one -- a hard one for the socially-careered folks like me, especially. (Do you know how often I get offered champagne on a weekly basis? FOR FREE? Do you know how much I love champagne?! The bubbles! The swankiness! The taste!) I teeter between having grace with myself on this one (it's hard to be all-or-nothing) and needing to buckle down. It's a spiritual issue for me, so it truly is important that I stick to my guns this year. Plus, I obviously made it easily 9+ months abstaining just last year, so this is mostly a breaking-habits kind of thing now.

3. Go to bed reasonably early. (Preferably always before midnight.) Especially with Lilly's middle-of-the-night wakeups we've been revisiting since the holidays and FOMO hit us hard, I've been seeing 3am and 4am and 5am a lot more lately. It helps when I've had enough sleep beforehand so I don't snooze way past my desired wakeup time later on in the morning.

4. Get dressed + wear more color in the winter + wear makeup when I'm at home. I have a new "busy mom" beauty regime and it involves a swipe of some brown-black eyeliner, a dash of mascara, and my favorite tinted (Zinnia!) lip balm. BAM! I suddenly feel alive and alert and am ready for mama-baby yoga, working from home, grocery shopping, or whatever comes my way! As for wearing more color, for whatever reason I gravitate towards black yoga pants and gray tops when it's wintertime. I have a closet full of Lilly prints that I break out at business meetings and social occasions, but I need to actually get dressed more often when I'm focusing on emails/calls/planning from home. I will have grace because I do have a baby and spit happens.

5. Less TV. I don't watch a lot of TV as it is, but Drew and I occasionally fall into a habit of binge-watching netflix in the evenings. It's more enjoyable to have actual conversations (I can't tell you how many weeks went by last year that we didn't REALLY talk), read books or good articles online or scripture, take baths, and do life things. Main goal: do more life things!!!! What makes me alive?!

6. Be much more diligent with diet -- healthy foods, more water, balanced meals. I have legitimate health concerns and need to put myself in the best situation possible. Confessional: last year I ate a lot of ice cream chased by red wine (because wine lowered the blood sugar I'd just spiked by eating the ice cream). Temporarily "helped", but in truth -- not such a great combo overall health-wise. Heyyyyy, salad. Any good resources for literature on foods that notoriously stabilize blood sugar? Hit me up.

7. Actually going to church and reading the bible. I'm too old to just be skating by. I need Jesus WAY too much for that crap, anyways.

8. Be wiser with money. I lowered a bunch of bills today by calling and negotiating / getting rid of pointless stuff we don't need. YAY ME! 

9. Be tidier. Keep paring down belongings. Take care of my belongings. The uzsch. 

Ok, so in recap -- I'm basically like every single other human making new years resolutions.

And then there's my business goals, specifically:
- Book 3 - 5 more weddings for the 2016 season
- Relocate KDE HQ! ++ Create calm, beautiful, peaceful home office space.
- Update package presentation, online galleries, overall business cohesiveness (DETAILS!), and direction organization presentation.
- Maintain more consistent marketing.
- Learn a few new things!


Lots for me to focus on this year! What are you working on in 2016? Happy new year, everyone!