A few weeks after I got engaged, I went with one of my best friends to a bridal show in Dallas. In a word it was…overwhelming. I had just wrapped my head around the basics of wedding planning and suddenly I was surrounded by hundreds of booths with very active and boisterous sales/vendors pitching me left and right. The one perk we figured? I got a sheet printed with my information on it so I could easily enter into every booth’s raffle giveaway. I made it my mission to enter as many raffles as I could before the overly eager sales people drove us out the doors. From free honeymoons to free wedding cakes, I figured I had to win something.
Well, I did. Although it was not was I was expecting. I got an email a few weeks later saying I’d won a free boudoir shoot. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, you’re not alone. It’s a new trend in the bridal industry that involves having photos taken of yourself in lingerie or next-to-nothing and other props to give as a wedding gift for your husbands eyes only. This particular company will come to Dallas, reserve a room at a boutique hotel such as Hotel Zaza or the Joule and take photos of you in four different looks. It’s honestly something I wouldn’t have spent money on or have thought of doing if I hadn’t won it. But since it was free, I decided why not? And now that I am doing it, I wonder why it wasn’t a priority in the first place. I can think of five solid reasons why doing a bridal boudior shoot is a good idea:
1. If not now then when would you ever consider doing something like this for your husband (or yourself)?
2. You’re already getting in the best shape of your life for the dress, why not have something to document how amazing your body looks beneath that dress (and remind your husband what a lucky guy he is)?
3. Your friends are already spending money on nice lingerie, so you’ll have plenty of new looks to choose from.
4. There are half-naked women practically everywhere these days, from billboards to mainstream television. It’s time your husband had photos (for his eyes only) of his wife looking like a sexy, confident vixen.
5. You will have a personal, unique gift to give your man on the day you get married and he is guaranteed to love it.
I have the shoot scheduled, but I haven’t done it yet. The hardest part for me has been trying to think of outfits I’d like to wear. While I won’t be ordering large prints of the photos (they do offer that), I simply don’t want any photos of myself in super risqué lingerie in the case that (Lord forbid) my future children stumble upon them. For that reason, I’ve been resorting to cute babydolls, chemises, and robes that I could pair with my veil (and that I could also actually wear to sleep in the future). This one from Triumph, for example, would be perfect for a look paired with my veil (and they also have a matching robe!). I’d shared another lingerie set I received from Triumph several months ago, and the navy lace, vintage-inspired set would also pair nicely with a matching robe for the photo shoot. They have amazing options that are also quite comfortable. You can check out their full bridal lingerie line here.
While I’ve become accustom to having my photos taken for the blog, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was extremely nervous about this particular shoot. I’ll be taking my little sister along for moral support. Stay tuned for a review of how the shoot went, and wish me luck!
A few weeks ago, Cole and I spent a lovely weekend in a place dear to our hearts (and where we’ve spent most of our relationship together so far) – Austin, Texas. My friend and incredibly talented photographer Kayla Snell was kind enough to follow Cole and I around a few of our favorite places in ATX to take our engagement photos. Since we agreed to do two different looks, I thought it only fair to do one that was meaningful for Cole and one that was for me. It probably goes without saying that this was “Cole’s” look, but I also spent countless hours at Disch Falk Field in the three years that we were dating and he was pitching for the University of Texas. It was so much fun to have the whole field to ourselves and brought back so many memories to be there again (though mine were mostly from the stands, hence the stands photos.
After blogging for nearly a year now, I’ve mastered the fake laughs that look oh-so-natural and candid on camera, but I must admit I was a bit nervous about Cole. I could just see the “are we done yet?” look shooting from his eyes before we even got started with the shoot. But to my surprise (and delight) Cole was not only a trooper, he was a better engagement session model than me. He was so genuine, loving and goofy, it made the photos such a fun and joyful experience (I literally had to tell him to stop kissing and lifting me so we could have some regular photos). In the end, we had so much fun taking these photos in a place that means so much to Cole, and Kayla managed to catch so many incredible shots of us in a place that means so much to Cole and I.
A huge thank you to Kayla for capturing these amazing shots. If you’re looking for an incredible and unique photographer for your engagement photos in the Austin area, Kayla Snell is your girl. Not only is she crazy talented, but she is the sweetest, easiest person to work with and she’s also such an amazing talent and will make the experience a delight.
And last, a little tidbit about picking our outfits for this look – finding colors to wear against super bright green and orange is not easy. I decided to go with an outfit I would typically wear to a UT sporting event, a white dress and a statement turquoise necklace. This necklace from Teal House Collection was perfect, but finding the perfect white lace dress proved to be a challenge, finally, I came across this number at Dillard’s and it was absolutely perfect. the lace was pretty, thick and had an illusion effect over the nude satin underneath. I wanted Cole to coordinate with me, but not match. I found this casual Ralph Lauren button up in a bright chambray blue and he wore his favorite jeans and cowboy boots with it. I think both of our looks turned out pretty nicely in the photos.
It’s been nearly three months into my engagement, and it has been an absolute whirlwind of the highs and lows of excitement, stress and everything in between (mostly excitement though, don’t worry). While it’s fresh on my mind, I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts on being engaged. While being engaged is impossible to plan for and everyone’s experience varies, hopefully these little tidbits will help give you some piece of mind before or when you engaged.
1. Saying “fiancé” is weird.
Okay it just is. It feels so formal, so pretentious, so…French. In these first months that I’ve been engaged, I frankly found boyfriend rolling off my tongue much more often than “fiancé”, but I’m finally realizing that people expect you to say it, they don’t judge you, and hey, you only get to say it for a small period of your life, so there’s no need to pardon your French. 😉
2. Picking out bridesmaids is like the hardest thing. Like ever.
No matter what stage you are in your life when you get engaged, picking out those ladies who will stand next to you as you say “I do” can be tough. For myself, I felt it especially hard. In fact, it was the decision that’s caused me most stress out of anything so far in wedding planning. I absolutely dread the thought of hurting anyone’s feelings (especially those of my very best friends), and being just two and a half years out of college and still having amazing relationships with my college and high school friends made it so difficult to decide. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d have had 20 girls standing beside me. But it’s not just my wedding, it’s Cole’s too and he talked me down to a more reasonable number (we wanted an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen). Having a bridal/house party in addition is a great way to include more of your best friends as a part of your big day and that’s ultimately what I decided to do, and I’m so glad I did (photos of the boxes I sent them to come)! If I could give advice to myself now it would be to breathe easy and relax – your friends will go through this too one day and will be all the more understanding (if they aren’t already) of how hard that decision can be.
3. You will do things you once rolled your eyes at.
Okay maybe (hopefully) you won’t use the caption “he put a ring on it” on social media, but you will do things you swore to your girlfriends you’d never do. The countless photos with your gal pals holding your left hand in the air. Posting a ring photo on instagram. Staring at your ring while you think no one is watching at your desk. Taking engagement photos of your new fiancé staring hopelessly into your eyes. Smiling giddily all the time. You’ll do it. And likely there will be people who will roll their eyes upon seeing you do or post these things, but that’s okay because they will go through it too sometime and understand. Just embrace it (and let Taylor’s “Shake it Off” song go on repeat in your head) – it will all be over before you know it and you’ll be reminiscing on this unique and special time in your lives.
4. You don’t have to have a planner.
Okay, some people need a planner, I get it. But I don’t like it when I’m told or strongly suggested that I need a planner for a day I’ve been planning since I was two. Most of us have a vision for what we want – all you need is to set aside the time to do some research and organization for yourself. Plus, I’ve heard some of my friends say they strongly dislike and disagree with their planner. My advice is to buy a journal and a calendar/organizer and jot down your thoughts, needs, and to-do’s in lists and join a site like the Knot that will help remind you of which things to do at what time and give you ways to organize your ideas. So far, I have both venues, the band, and the bridal party figured out with the photographer in the works – so, I’m on schedule and I’ve done it all on my own (with the help of my mother and sister, of course). Side note – I do suggest a day-of coordinator, and have been advised to hire one by many. The last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is rounding everyone up for photos, etc. and you wouldn’t want to put that on a family member either.
5. Weddings are EXPENSIVE.
Okay maybe you have heard that. But it’s not until you actually start planning and adding up the dollar signs that you realize it. It simply doesn’t seem financially responsible for anyone to be shelling out well over what many people (or myself at least) make in a whole year’s salary for one day, but that’s simply the nature of the beast. This is why there’s an entire industry that’s booming and making mega bucks off of this one category – weddings. Supply and demand lessons from economics class have quickly become a reality in the last few months. My advice is to meet with your family and come up with a budget that’s reasonable and realistic. If that means waiting a few more months to save up, then do it! Cutting corners on a wedding is doable but not easy and it would be better to wait than rush it and be stressed, in my opinion.
6. People will have a lot of opinions.
The people closest to you, especially your family, will have many opinions about what they want and envision for your day. If you’re anything like me, you can be easily swayed by the opinions of those you love. There’s nothing wrong with that, and you should definitely take these opinions into consideration, but remember it’s your wedding, and at the end of the day, things should be decided by you AND your fiancé.
7. You will feel rushed into buying a dress.
This is something I’ve struggled with recently. In my opinion, picking out your dress is one of the most important things you’ll do. I mean think about it, you’ve seen your mother’s wedding photos, your grandmother’s, not to mention your aunts’, that of the family you babysit for, your neighbors’, etc. You want to look and feel beautiful on your wedding day, but you also wants the photos to look beautiful. Every consultant you meet with will make you believe that NOW, no YESTERDAY, was the time you should have bought your dress and your time is running out. At my second wedding dress consulting appointment (11 months before the big day) my consultant convinced me of this and I literally had nightmares for two nights thinking I had to buy the dress she convinced me was “the one”. I have two snippets of advice for this:
Take your time and find the right dress that you have absolutely no doubt is “the one” (obviously don’t cut it too close).
Be sure to take photos of the dresses you try on with your iPhone and review the way they look on camera after your appointment. Unless your doing a wedding outside in the day where the lighting is fabulous, your dress will most likely be photographed on countless iphones in artificially-lit spaces, so if you don’t like it in photographs, don’t buy it. I’ve been to 4 wedding dress appointments so far and have experienced this – LOVING the dress in person, HATING it in photos. Needless to say, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect dress. 😉
8. People will ask you about the wedding planning. A LOT.
Literally the day after I was engaged, the questions about the wedding started. When are you getting married? What are your colors? Where is your bachelorette party? Where will you get married? While it’s SO fun to talk about wedding stuff, this can send your brain into over drive and create unecessary stress if you let it. Remember that people are simply excited for you and your big day, it doesn’t mean you have to know the answers yet.
9. It’s easy to forget the most important part of it all.
Yes, I’m admitting it, the first month I got engaged Cole sat me down after a stressful vent session about the wedding planning and was like, “hey, we’re getting married, who cares about all that?” SIGH (a reminder of why I love this man so much). I always said I would never be the girl who got so caught up in the wedding planning that she forgot to focus on the most important part of it all – the Holy union between you and your husband-to-be. Thankfully, and with the help of my fiancé I had the “aha” moment very early on and nipped that in the bud really quick, but between all of the questions and the sudden stack of to do’s on my plate, I was headed down the track to be that girl. Not being able to plan for when you’ll be engaged (an ailment that drives almost all girls nutty) means you can’t plan ahead, and suddenly, out of no where, you too will have a stack of to-do’s a mile high and the said questions asked by people over and over. Once again, my advice is to chill – not everything has to be done immediately, and if you need more time to keep your sanity, have a longer engagement. The most important thing is to focus on your relationship and the giant milestone and commitment you two are taking together in a short time. THAT is what all of this nonsense is about (okay it’s not nonsense necessarily but it sure seems like it when you put things into perspective).
Well, there you have it. Those are my thoughts on things nobody tells you or can really even prepare you for when you get engaged. Stay tuned for more thoughts on wedding business and photos of our journey to happily ever after. 🙂
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of asking my bridesmaids to be in my wedding. Knowing that Cole and I wanted to have an equal amount of bridesmaids and groomsmen made the decision extremely tough, because I love and value all of my friendships so much. When I came up with the 13 girls I wanted to stand beside me as I become Mrs. Green, it didn’t take me too long to figure out another 13 ladies I have always adored. There also happens to be 13 official Disney princesses (I promise this had nothing to do with choosing my girls). It was the perfect connection to start planning my Disney princess-themed bridal brunch where I would officially ask each of them. Read on to see photos from the magical day and learn more about the Disney little details I added to the brunch.
I hosted the party at my parent’s home. When 12 of the 13 girls RSVP’d, we knew we’d need a space big enough to fit everyone, so we decided on the game room upstairs. Our game room normally has an old hollywood movie theatre theme, so I went straight to work on transforming the room.
The brown walls weren’t ideal for a princess party, but I added turquoise curtains to give a little bit of color. I used gold and turquoise paper fluffy decorations, but fluffed them all on one side so I could hang them on the wall. I used framed Disney lithographs (stills from the movies) from some of my favorite movies to hang on the walls also, and a chalk board sign reading “Fairytale Hall” (an actual place in Disney World where you can meet and have your photos taken with the princesses).
We had to set the mood, so I had one of my favorite Disney movies playing on our flat screen TV, The Little Mermaid, while Disney music from Disney Pandora played from the speakers. My parent’s game room has a built-in shelf, so rather than re-decorate the entire thing to match my Disney theme, I used the sign that Cole used at our engagement to cover part of it, and to add to the fairytale theme of the room.
I used white linens and accented with gold chargers and gold mercury glass votives for the table settings. I was a member of a Disney card collecting club for a year (don’t even ask…), so I’ve compiled quite the collections of cards featuring artwork and stills from the classic animated movies. When framed with gold and white, they were the perfect accents to add to the table!
I found these adorable shot glasses featuring each of the Disney princesses’ silhouettes on Etsy. To match, I made these sparkly monogram champagne glasses for each girl so we could drink mimosas in style.
I found these darling, personalized notecards on Zazzle and bought one for each of my bridesmaids so I could hand write them a note (my fingers got some serious exercise after I completed all 13 – it probably won’t come at a surprise to know that I tend to be a bit wordy).
Rather than giving each girl a random Disney princess, I carefully selected a princess for each of my bridesmaids, placing a notecard with a personal explanation of their princess and a photo beneath their gold charger. I had each of the girls go around and read their descriptions as an ice breaker to start the party.
I also gifted each of my bridesmaids with a luggage tag featuring a princess castle. There’s been talk of doing my bachelorette party at Disney World (which I would obviously love), but it hasn’t officially been decided.
Other favors included a carriage with a ring pop since I was popping the question, and a fun party horn to add a NYE touch to the party.
I absolutely love flowers, but they can get quite expensive. To add height and color to the tables, I picked up a few bouquets of fun colored blooms from Trader Joes (they have unbeatable prices on flowers) and put them into blue glass vases I found at Hobby Lobby.
One of my favorite games we played was Bridesmaids Bingo, where I created cards that had squares that represented each of them. Some were only related to one of my bridesmaids, while others were related to two or more. I had them each fill out the card with a bridesmaids initial by every square and the two who got the most right received a prize.
Disney trinkets like this Chip mug and Cinderella mug also helped add to the Disney theme.
My bar cart from Target came in handy for the princess bridesmaid party.
Stay tuned for an upcoming DIY on how I made these sparkly monogram champagne glasses (it was so easy!)
I am thankful beyond words for each and every one of these girls and had such a blast planning this party for them. They were so sweet to allow me to indulge in my Disney games and formally ask them to be my princess. It will truly be an honor to have each of them stand beside us as Cole and I take our vows.
Last Friday was a fairytale. I’m still pinching myself at the realization that I’m a fiancé and will be a wife to my own Prince Charming soon. When Cole and I began talking about getting married, the only thing I requested was that he surprise me, because in the seven years that I’ve known him, he has never done such a thing. And boy, did he deliver…
The day started as any normal one would – Cole and I had spent the previous day lounging around and recovering from New Year’s Eve, so he mentioned us going on a date the next day. I woke up on Friday to receive a group text from my best friend Clara saying that our other bestie Michelle (who we refer to as Mimi) was receiving an award from her company and her boyfriend, Preston, wanted to surprise her by having us all show up. Well, I was hesitant to ask Cole because I knew he wanted to have a date night. It was only when my best friend Emmily responded to the group text asking if the guys could come that I decided to go ahead and ask Cole. As expected, Cole responded by acting uninterested and annoyed at the last minute plans. After some convincing, however, he said he’d come along.
Since Clara offered to buy Mimi a card and Emmily said she’d bring flowers (you can see both in the photo above – we literally all signed it for Mimi!), I said I’d buy wine and appetizers for us to have at Cole’s place before we headed to the Gaylord for Mimi’s exciting work banquet (or so I thought). So we all met up and were on our way!
We were told to go to the Yellow Rose banquet room, so we followed the signs once we arrived at the Gaylord (this just so happens to be the place where Cole took me on our first date in August of 2008, but since my family had just been there the weekend before, I was not suspecting anything at all). I still had no idea what was happening as Cole led me to a sign across from our ballroom destination…
(PS – My shoes help giveaway the fact that I had NO idea my engagement would be happening! I only had the dress in my car by chance, and the red booties were the only heeled shoes I had for the banquet. I figured we wouldn’t be taking many photos…)
To be honest, once I saw the “L & C” initials at the setup, my heart began pounding out of my chest, my face went flush and I blacked out. Thankfully, Cole wrote down what he said on a card so I can always remember it.
Cole pulled the ring from his sock – so clever!
There was a pause after he asked because I didn’t hear anything he said! Finally, I realized I should probably just say “YES!” and it was a sealed deal.
The ring was my absolute dream ring! It’s an oval setting with a halo on yellow gold and the most sparkly thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. He did an AMAZING job!
With help from my sister, Cole managed to incorporate one of my favorite Disney movies into the proposal in the most romantic of ways. He had a violinist playing “Beauty and the Beast” and even had a vase covered rose inspired by the movie.
I was still in for another surprise – I hadn’t worn my contacts that night because they always itch my eyes, so I heard clapping when I said yes and turned around to find over 50 of our closest family and friends! My heart was bursting with joy!
My best friend Kristen even flew in all the way from Nashville to be there and two of my other besties, Olivia and Valerie drove in from Austin and Houston. Cole’s best friends from Austin and his cousins and grand parents from Archer City drove in as well. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Cole and I are truly blessed with some amazing friends and family and it meant the absolute world to us for them to share this special moment.
Cole and all of my friends and family who were involved could not have made this night more magical for me. It was literally my perfect version of a fairytale and to be able to share it with the people I love most is a blessing and a memory that I will cherish for a lifetime.
THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts to everyone for making our start to happily ever after one of the best nights of our lives.
Below are more of the photos from the amazing night, which was followed by a beautiful engagement party at my future mother and father-in-law’s home and then a sleepover with our best friends that lasted until 5am! Stay tuned for more photos from the party!
Cannot wait to become Mrs. Lauren Vandiver Green. 🙂
PS – a HUGE thank you to my little sister for helping Cole make me feel like an absolute princess on this unforgettable night. I love you and cherish your friendship more than anything in this world and cannot wait for the year of memories to come!