Let’s Get Organized

When I wrote this title, the first thing that popped into my head was the song, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John. Switch out the last word and you’ve got “Let’s get organized, organized, I wanna get organized.” It’s unfortunately stuck in my head and now it’s probably stuck in yours too and I apologize. To stop the madness that is this damn song in my head, I’ve reverted to listening to a wedding party playlist on Spotify. I guess it’s a win-win situation because I am also able to find songs to play at the wedding reception. 

Back to what this post is actually about: getting organized! I’ve had over a year and a half to figure out what works best for me, and I wanted to share my ride or die’s that have helped me stay sane and on track. To preface this, I am an organized person to begin with. Now I am not insanely organized like Marie Kondo or The Home Edit, but I like a good checklist, color coordination in my closet, and clear bin storage for my fridge if you know what I’m saying. 

The first tool I wanted to recommend is an online planner. The one I use is called Aisle Planner and I was given access by my month of coordinator. It is an all-in-one platform event professionals can use themselves or can give access to couples, allowing for the planning and managing of all details related to weddings or events. What is great about the interface is that it is customizable and has everything you’d want to see and have access to such as, checklists, timelines, budget sheets, guest lists, seating charts, lead management, proposals, and contracts to name a few. Brandon and I can directly communicate with our coordinators through the site making it convenient for both parties. Aisle Planner was designed by a team of wedding industry professionals, and it shows! 

My second recommendation I didn’t find until my best friend and I were looking on Etsy for a detailed checklist a few months back. I have had a book planner since being engaged, but always felt like it was too high level and missing the minor details I craved. I’m so happy we found this wedding checklist because it seriously is next level. Not only does it break down the to-dos for each month, starting with just being engaged, but it also provides a checklist for after tying the knot. And to top it all off, it’s only $5! I have this downloaded on my iPad so I can take notes and then also on my phone to have at any point I need access. Check out this link for the exact wedding checklist from FocusedLifeCo or check out Etsy for other options. 

Organization looks different to everyone, but for me these two have been key in keeping my sanity. Hopefully these help any current or future brides out there. My last bit of advice is to keep it simple and not go overboard in using multiple platforms. Weddings are stressful enough and you do not want to be overwhelmed trying to track everything in different places. If you are using another organization tool and loving it, please share! 



Please RSVP

I now get it. I get how frustrating it can be to follow-up with people to get their RSVP. I’ve never really given it too much thought when I have received other invitations in the past. I typically am pretty good about getting responses turned in a few weeks before the requested date. That’s my personality though. I thrive off checklists and instant gratification. By the way, do you know what RSVP even means? Because I didn’t. Quick fun fact, it’s an initialism derived from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, meaning “Please respond.” Fancy!

I naively thought that the moment people received our invitations they would log on to our wedding website and respond. Well, that wasn’t the case. It has been almost a month since we sent out our invitations (for the second time) and we have received 55 out of 172 responses. If you do the math (or in my case, look at my website tracker because I am lazy) that means we are still waiting on 117 guests to respond. 

Patience has never been my strong suit. Ask my family or my fiance, I’m sure they’d love to comment. As major wedding milestones are quickly approaching, like the detailed 2 hour timeline conversation with our coordinator that’s happening next week, it got me thinking of how I have been following up with people so far and how I am going to reach out when the RSVP date finally comes. 

The Blunt Approach 

This had been my #1 tactic. Mind you, it’s been mostly with my family so far but hey, I’m just getting started. I really thought, out of all the invited guests, my family would be the first to submit their RSVP’s…. nope! It’s been like pulling teeth. I even had to ask my own parents more than 4 times before my mom finally went online and said she was going to go. My advice, if you have a strong relationship with that person and you can directly reach out to them, do it. It’s the quickest way to get a response unless you want to play the waiting game. 

Phone a Friend 

For those guests that are either distant relatives that you don’t see too often, or your parents’ friends that were invited, I recommend utilizing this approach. Call up the person those guests have the closest relationship with and have them give a gentle reminder or get a status pulse. For example, I have already reached out to my dad and had him reach out to all his buddies. First, to ensure they got the invitations and second, to see if they are considering attending. Honestly, I highly recommend doing this because it saves YOU time. Don’t be afraid to delegate. 

Social Media and Your Website 

As it gets closer to the date, you can always send out a reminder that the RSVP date is quickly approaching. There are a few ways you can go about this. The first is through your wedding website. If you have your guests’ emails already saved you can push out a reminder directly online. This requires a little more work upfront to secure all the email addresses. Second, use social media! I guarantee most of your guests have either an Instagram or Facebook account. Type out a generic message and copy and paste that bad boy in a private message. Easy peasy! Lastly, if you are feeling like the first two options are too much work, you can post a reminder on your timeline or story. This last one can be a little tricky because ALL your friends on social media will be able to see the message. This could potentially hurt the feelings of someone not invited. If you are not worried about this, carry on! 

I still have time before having to initiate “crazy bride mode” and following up with all guests who haven’t RSVP’d. However, I still get very excited when I do get the email notification from someone who has responded. My advice to everyone reading this, respond as soon as you know you can or cannot attend. It truly makes that person planning the event’s life much easier. Speaking from experience, it can even make their day. I’m sure I am not alone in this feeling, right?



We’re Going to Hawaii!

Aloha! Yesterday was a great day because my fiancé, Brandon, and I finally booked our honeymoon! A year and a half ago we planned to go to Hawaii for let’s call it, honeymoon 1.0. After postponing the wedding, we decided to cancel 1.0 as we were unsure of how travel restrictions would be a full year later. Up until yesterday we had decided that we wouldn’t be going on a honeymoon at all until we had saved up a little money. Weddings are stupid expensive! 

But yesterday the stars aligned, and Southwest had a massive sale. Fall flights were half off, y’all! I texted and then called my fiancé until he picked up. When I told him the “emergency” was an amazing sale, he said those magical two words I was hoping to hear, “book it.” Gosh, I love that man so much. 

Researching plans for Hawaii brings up a funny memory. A year into our relationship, Brandon and I went to Hawaii to celebrate our one-year anniversary (aww… young love). Me, being the type A personality that I am, booked everything. When booking both hotels and all our dinner reservations, I took it upon myself to always fill out the box where it says, “Tell us, are you celebrating a special occasion?” I always filled out “honeymoon.” Whoops! Poor Brandon was so embarrassed every time we went to check in. The front desk or hostess would say, “Congratulations!” and start asking us questions about our “wedding.” It’s funny looking back on it now, but I guess I’m thankful he didn’t think I was crazy and then make a run for it. Now, three years later, we can finally fill out that section and it’s actually the truth! 

Here I am, spending way too much time on Yelp reading reviews and trying to plan our stay. I’m no Hawaii aficionado so I need all the recommendations! What are some of your favorite restaurants and activities on both the Big Island and/or Maui? Ready, set, go!



Stress, Stress, Go Away

This week has been a shit show and it is only Tuesday. Have you ever had those weeks when everything seems to go wrong? Or there is so much on your plate you feel like you can barely keep your head above water? Cool, me too. Between a full time job that’s approaching it’s fiscal year end (hello, Q4 madness!), taking care of 3 pups while my fiancée is gone, working 96 hours straight, keeping up with class work, and planning a wedding, life seems to be pure chaos! Oh, and apparently Mercury is in retrograde?! That explains a lot. 

Sometimes, like today, I get so overwhelmed that I start to think I’m never going to get anything accomplished. Heck, I was dreaming of opening a bottle of wine at 9:30 this morning. It was bad. But guess, what? I got through it (yes without the wine!). Today I didn’t thrive, but I did survive. 

How did I survive? Well, I’ve been working on setting some boundaries with myself. I want to respond to emails right away, I try to juggle friends and family during the workday, try to remember to play with the dogs, sneak in homework or wedding planning on breaks, but I end up stressing myself out even more! I was doing pretty good up until today when I couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t until 4pm that I realized I didn’t eat lunch. It was time to snap out of it. I went outside for a bit, took a shower, and later I plan to relax and catch up on my shows. Tomorrow is a new day. 

For everyone out there going through a tough season, hang in there! Know you are not alone. Block out time for yourself each day. Step away from the screen. Go for a walk, get some sunshine, read a book, listen to a podcast. It is definitely easier said than done but do something for you! Sometimes we must learn to say no, even if it is to ourselves.



The Makeup Trial Day

Besides the day that I purchased my wedding dress, the second day that I was most looking forward to was my makeup trial. My venue is about two hours away, so my two best friends and I decided to make a day trip out of it. I highly suggest doing this! Even if you are getting married locally. We left early in the morning and drove two hours to San Luis Obispo. Around 11:30am we arrived in town and headed immediately to grab food at a trendy restaurant called 1865 Craft House & Kitchen. 

Anyone else get hangry after a long drive? Everything we ordered was delicious! If you happen to go one day, I highly recommend the crispy cauliflower wings, kung pao brussels, signature wings, and Korean beef salad. After we finished lunch, I decided to show one of my bridesmaids around. We had an hour to spare so we headed towards the rehearsal venue. After checking out the space we headed back into town to find parking. We luckily found a space right away and had a few minutes to check out a boutique right around the corner. 

After a quick ten minutes, it was makeup trial time! I was slightly nervous to get my makeup done. To be honest, I had little to no expectations and had not done enough research on what exactly I would be asking for. The week before I saved a few images from Pinterest, but that was about it. The entire appointment was about an hour and went by quickly. My makeup artist was extremely personable, and the flow of conversation made the hour pass by. Once finished, she told me to take the handheld mirror, stand in front of the window, and then let her know my thoughts. I have to say, I was slightly overwhelmed feeling like I had to have a certain reaction. The first thing I noticed was that the eyeshadow wasn’t the bronze color palette I had hoped. Instead, she had used jewel tones. Thankfully one of my friends recognized that I wasn’t too fond of the colors and helped me relay that message back to the artist. I seriously think without her I might have tried to convince myself that I liked them. Don’t get me wrong, they were pretty, they just weren’t what I had envisioned. I’m so glad I communicated this. The makeup artist completely understood and showed me new colors which ended up being exactly what I had in mind. 

My makeup trial taught me a few lessons: 

  1. Invest time over a few weeks researching makeup looks. Depending on what social media platforms you are on, I highly suggest starting a Pinterest board and/or a saved board on Instagram. 
  2. When researching, it helps to be as descriptive as possible. Use keywords as part of your search to help filter results. For example, I searched phrases such as “wedding makeup for brown eyes,” “bronzed makeup,” and “rustic chic wedding makeup”. 
  3. Bring these photos to your trial for reference. I wish I would’ve been more prepared and had my favorite photos narrowed down. 
  4. Once your makeup is done, don’t just use a mirror under the salon lighting. Walk outside or position yourself in front of a window so that there is natural light. 
  5. Try to schedule your hair trial for the same day. I wish I would have done this to get a full picture of what I would look like at my wedding. 
  6. Lastly, do not be afraid to present feedback. If there’s something you want changed or don’t like, for example an eyeshadow color used, make sure you speak up! This is your chance. 

Once back home, I had the chance to look at myself without anyone around. I realized that besides the eyeshadow colors, I loved everything else. I tried on my dress and veil and for the first time I could picture myself on my wedding day. So many emotions hit at once! Nerves and excitement were definitely the top two for me. If you take anything away from my experience, remember this is your day! Research, enjoy getting pampered, and be sure to provide feedback. 



Guest Lists – Do As I Say, Not As I Do

This past week I sent out wedding invitations for the second time in 365 days. I now can say I am a master envelope sealer on my resume. With invitations out, now we wait for the RSVP’s to start trickling in! It’s been a full year since we first sent out those initial invitations, which got me thinking of all the things I wish I would’ve changed, starting with the guest list. I feel like this is a topic that is not talked about enough and I wish I would’ve followed the advice I’m about to share when I started planning over a year ago. 

Guest lists are kind of like that saying, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” The first thing I would have done differently was make my guest list before choosing a venue and before figuring out my budget. Almost everything will be impacted by how many people you project will come to the big day. So before even thinking about a budget, I’d suggest figuring out how many people you will invite and then add at least another 10%. Why add? Well, I guarantee you will forget about that one family friend you haven’t seen in fifteen years, your parents will want to include in a few of their buddies, or you’ll need to add a plus one for your cousin’s on and off again boyfriend. But seriously trust me…the list will grow. 

Example Guest List Template from theknot.com

One of the biggest opportunities the pandemic gave my fiancée and I was to cut our list. Instead, it grew from 140 to 170, not the direction we were hoping for. Weddings are supposed to be about spending the day with the people you love and enjoy being around the most. If you can’t imagine spending the day without those 200 people then hey, you do you! But if you’re like me and already on the fence about your guest list, make some cutting rules and actually follow them!

  1. After writing all the names of your potential wedding guests, highlight all the names of those who you could not imagine NOT having by you and your partner’s side on the big day. Most times that’s close family and friends and the bridal party. These are your VIP’s. 
  2. On your second pass through the list, ask yourself “have you or your partner spoken to them? Have you ever met them?” If either of these answers are no, don’t invite them. 
  3. So maybe you know who the person is, but have you spoken to them in the past few years? Hell, maybe it’s even one year. If any family members fall under this category you might want to come back and evaluate, but if they are not related to you or your partner then as Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2 said it best, “Hasta la vista, baby.”
  4. Just because you were invited to one person’s wedding, does not mean you need to feel guilty about inviting them to yours. 
  5. Not enthused by the thought of having children at your wedding? Neither am I, and that’s ok! Make it adult only and frame it as though you’re giving your guests an opportunity to celebrate without having to worry about little eyes and ears.

I honestly wish I would have followed some of these rules before I got too deep into my own wedding planning. As I sit here watching the new season of the Bachelorette, I can’t help but wonder if I am the only one who has experienced this dilemma. Anyone out there wish they would have done something differently to their guest list?



T-Minus Three Months, Oh Sh*t

I have this fun tradition I have been doing every Sunday for the past seventeen months. See nineteen months ago I got engaged. It was one of the most exciting times of my life! It’s that moment most girls wait and dream for and when it finally happened, I couldn’t wait to start planning MY dream wedding. One of my closest friends got me these wedding countdown blocks where on one side it counts down the weeks until the big day. Once you get into double digits you can flip it to the other side, and you can start changing it to days. Well, those blocks have turned into my “fun” little Sunday tradition and they have been the one thing that has kept the wedding excitement going over the past nineteen months. 

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Mikell, how in the hell do those blocks have that many days?!” In short, they don’t. My fiancée and I were supposed to get married in September 2020. We did all the things like send out Save the Dates, our wedding invites, I got my dress, and he got his suit, we booked all our vendors, and then made the tough decision to postpone a month before we were supposed to say, “I do.” I’m not going to lie; we went from a high of wedding planning to fighting to keep our 2020 date even if that meant cutting down our guest list significantly and forgoing having a reception. After weeks of being too stressed about the unknown due to COVID we made the decision to postpone an entire year out to September, 2021. For eight months after that decision, wedding planning went straight out the window and was a thing of the past. 

Getting back to the blocks! In May, I started back up the tradition and as this past Sunday came, I went to go change the cubes. This time I noticed they now showed fourteen weeks. Do you know the first thought that came into my head? If you guessed “oh sh*t!” ding ding ding, you’re right! In four days, I will be able to switch to the other side of the blocks to start counting down days. This means it’s time for me to stop procrastinating and get to planning. 

This journey will be filled with funny stories, a few swear words, and lots of love. Buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride to get to the wedding day! Let’s do this damn thing!