Tips For Being A Good Bride

I always thought I knew what I wanted for my wedding, so I figured I wouldn't turn into those crazy brides you always hear about. And while this was sort of true, I found myself getting a little crazy at times! I mean, where does that come from? I've come to realize, after going through this myself and dealing with so many brides, that this phenomena is ok, and actually rather normal, sort of. being-a-good-bride

And here is why. You are faced with the fact that your wedding day needs to be the best day ever. You tend to obsess over things you would have never thought mattered and you can't help but picture the day over and over again to the point where you know exactly how every move is going to go. 

Likely this is going to happen, at least to some extent (I have worked with so many wonderfully calm and awesome brides who seem to handle the pressure so very well). So here are a few tips on how to stay positive and awesome while planning your wedding:

Choose your vendor team first:


Before even thinking about design, escort cards and straw choices, get your vendor team in line. Trust your gut and choose a team that is willing to work with you, bring up suggestions and offer advice when needed. You don't have to be alone while planning and you'll realize that your vendors actually have a lot to offer if you ask.

Work through the wedding day:


The easiest way to plan a wedding is to work through it. It is much easier when you realize you don't have to do everything at once. Start with the ceremony. Pick the songs, altar decor and chair selections, then move forward with the cocktail hour. You'll define your style as you go and won't have a todo list the size of your leg!

Don't sweat the small stuff:


It is all in the details, we all know that. But focus on the details that matter before you obsess over which color straw is the perfect fit for your drink.

I blame Pinterest for a lot of the newfound stress that comes with wedding planning. A lot. The options are endless, as are the budgets. It is fun, but sometimes it isn't real. We all love a good Pinterest board, but realize what can and can't be accomplished and focus on the good. Choose a few awesome things and leave the other ideas for parties you'll be planning in the future.

You can have something cool and detailed at every turn but I promise that most of your guests won't even notice it all. Things like floral, place settings and ceremony decor will make the biggest difference to your guests. The best way to spend the money is to focus on the personal experience each guest will have then move forward on some of those awesome tidbits you'd love to see at your wedding.

It will all be alright:


Here is the thing that no one tells you. Your wedding day will be even more amazing if you aren't so stressed. I was so involved and concerned about how everything turned out that if anything was a little off, I was upset. Relinquishing control and not knowing exactly how the final product is going to turn out will allow you to be pleasantly surprised on your wedding day. Who cares if people didn't sit in the exact spot you wanted them in or if your throw pillows weren't placed on the exact chair you wanted them on. You'll be much happier if you leave a little bit of chance up to your very talented vendor team. They know what they are doing and will make decisions to make your wedding day look its very best. Trust in your team and let the small things go.

You will have the best wedding you've ever seen because it is yours. No one can take that away from you except for you. I wasn't a very good bride but it was no one's fault but my own. My team did an even more amazing job than I could ever have imagined but my own stress and "this shouldn't be there" made me obsess way too much over the small stuff.

Lesson learned. Too little too late, but hopefully you won't make the same mistakes I did!

{Travel Help} France, Italy & Croatia

Alright bloggities! I'm beginning to plan a trip to Italy this coming September, and I need some recommendations! I am planning & designing a destination wedding in Italy, and since I will be over there, I am hoping to make the most of it. But I need your help! Here is the route we currently have mapped. Getting excited just looking at it.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 12.21.00 PM

Here is the rundown:


Before heading to Italy, we are going to spent a little stint in Paris. The plan is to fly from SFO to Paris and stay there for 2 or 3 days. Yes, this is going to be crazy. Any hotel recommendations?


We will be flying into Rome but will only be there for a day. I'm not into Rome, but my husband really wants to poke around and look at buildings. So fine. We will spend one night there and head to the wedding venue the very next morning. Since we don't have much time I'd like to have this portion planned very well so we see the cool stuff and don't waste any time. Favorite Rome spots?


The wedding is in a small town called Scansano. The nearest big city is Grosseto which looks pretty cool via Google Images. They have some amazing beaches and wonderful little downtown spots tucked into gorgeous scenery.


We will be in the Scansano/Grosseto area for about 5 days. Since it isn't the traditional "tourist" spot, I'm looking forward to exploring in places that aren't as well traveled. The photo above of Scansano is actually the wedding venue, gorgeous isn't it?

Anyone know of anything cool that we should definitely check out?


We will leave bright and early Saturday morning and head from Scansano to Venice. This is a 4 hour drive but we are expecting to take our time and visit some of the cities and towns in between. Breakfast in Siena, maybe a little trip for Tuscany (is it worth it to drive out of the way to visit Tuscany?) lunch in Florence, and dinner in Bologna. This will be the most jam-packed day of the entire trip, but it is the best way to visit so much and still keep the trip going.


Ok, this is where things get good. After a crazy trip of small stints in each location, we will be spending the most time in Venice. I'm sure there is SO much to see, and I doubt we will have time for it all, but I'd love some must visit locations as well as your favorite hotels in the area!


What? Oh ya, we are going to Croatia too. The ferry from Venice to Croatia is only a few hours so we plan to spend at least an afternoon there but I'm thinking about extending and spending a night there. What is the best city to go to? They all look amazing.

I just don't have the time to research the bejesus out of the country so I'd LOVE any help you can offer. Favorite spots, favorite hotels and must see things! Thanks a million billion for all the help!

12 Things You'll Regret Not Having On Your Wedding Day

must have wedding photos blog

With all the planning that goes into your wedding day, it goes without saying that you'll want it to be one of the most amazing days of your life. However, there are so many different pieces that make up the big day, it's easy to get bride brain and forget something that may make a huge difference. Well put those fears aside, brideys - we've compiled a list of 12 different things that you might regret doing on your wedding day in hindsight.

1. Not having a videographer. They don't come cheap, but a professional video of your wedding day will be something you'll treasure forever.



2. Not having all photos that your guests take at your engagement party, bridal shower, wedding day, and all your other special events! (Psst…Wedding Party is perfect for this!)

collect wedding party

Wedding Party

3. Not having an open bar - trust us on this one.

open bar

Harwell Photography via Wedding Chicks

4. Not doing personal vows, or personalizing your ceremony in any way. This day should reflect your uniqueness as a couple and your relationship!

personal vows

Tammy Horton Photography via Style Me Pretty

5. Not wearing comfy shoes for the reception. How are you supposed to enjoy the reception when your feet are killing you?

comfy flats

Katherine Elizabeth Photography via Ruffled

6. Not feeding your guests at the right time. This one isn't obvious, but it's important! You don't want guests to be drunk or too hungry during key parts of your reception. Grumpy or uncomfortable guests will have a hard time paying attention to toasts or meaningful speeches.

hungry wedding

Davina and Daniel Photography via 100 Layer Cake

7. Not putting a limit on who can give toasts at your wedding reception, or putting a limit on how long those toasts can run. While a few heartfelt speeches are important, nobody likes sitting through too many long and rambling ones!


Studio 222 Photography via

8. Not after-partying with your closest friends/bridal party after the reception. You may be tired, but your friends and family want to party with you!

partying bride

Kaitie Bryant

9. Not discussing with your photographer all the photos and wedding details you want him/her to capture. If you don't communicate the must-have photos, you may end up disappointed when you get your photos back!


Anna Delores Photography

10. Not getting your makeup/hair done for your wedding. What better time than your wedding day to pamper yourself and get your hair and makeup done professionally?

hair and makeup

Kaitie Bryant

11. Not doing a morning of gift for your bride/groom. It's a meaningful way to connect before you get to see each other at the wedding ceremony, and chances are you're going to treasure that gift forever.

wedding day gifts

Kaitie Bryant

12. Not getting ready with your bridal party the morning of the big day - getting dressed up with your girls is always fun, so why would you skip out on some quality girl time before you get married?

getting ready bridesmaids

Kaitie Bryant

GUEST BLOGGER: My name is Stephanie, and I work at Wedding Party, a startup that specializes in creating technology and apps for weddings. Our first product, Wedding Party, is a free app that you can download for iPhone and Android. Wedding Party lets couples collect all the wedding photos their guests take, and provides a unique, social way for guests to interact with the each other on the couple’s big day.

Set up your own Wedding Party app today, and check out more of my musings on the Wedding Party blog.

5 Tips to Stay Within Your Wedding Budget

It has been 2 years since I got married, and one thing I have noticed is that the average cost of a wedding has increased drastically since then. I wrote a blog post about the budget right after getting married, but I feel like things have changed a bit since that point. 15

Always Think With Less:

If your budget is $30,000, always tell your vendors (and yourself) that your budget is $25,000. There are a lot of unforeseen expenses as well as things you'll want to splurge on, this mentality will keep you in check throughout the planning process. Most couples go over budget so giving yourself a buffer will enable you to go over budget without spending more than you originally wanted.

Don't Be Afraid To Negotiate:

I hear a lot of talk from vendors about how much they hate brides negotiating with them. But here is the thing. If they don't have set pricing and packages on their website for you to think with, you have no idea what you should expect to pay. The concept is to fall in love with a vendor, find out their pricing and be willing to pay it. This is such a twisted way of doing business. I don't walk into the store, fall in love with a dress then find out the price tag and say ok. Instead I know the price tag and know if I should fall in love with the dress. If it was the other way around you better believe I'd be in Nordstrom negotiating pricing.

A lot of vendors are willing to work with your budget. For example, your expenses with a florist will vary greatly depending on the amount as well as the types of flowers you want. Vendors are small businesses and they have things they will and won't negotiate, but it never hurts to ask. Of course you don't want to insult them, and never ask for just a discount, but be willing to work with the services they offer. If you don't need something, let them know. They might be willing to take it out of their proposal. In the end, you may or may not get any discounts but you never get what you don't ask for. So politely try to work with them to see if there is anything they can do.


Figure Out Your Splurges In The Beginning:

No two budget will be the same. Some brides want a great venue and are willing to give up things like transportation. Some brides don't care as much about the venue but won't budge on getting a Vera Wang dress. Figure out where your splurge moments will be right off the bat (and it can't be everything!) What is important to you? What do you want your guests to walk away remembering? What do you want to remember in 30 years? Then figure out what things you don't care about. For me it was transportation. Some might be ok with buying a cheaper dress, or not having flowers in the ceremony. Whatever it is, figure out what you don't care about and leave those things out.


Create The Best Guest Experience:

In terms of design, you can do a lot. But think about the things that will enhance the guest experience vs. things that won't be noticed. For example, if your venue provides tables and chairs, figure out ways to dress those up before opting to spend several thousand on rentals. Small details at each place setting will add to the overall look and feel of the table without adding too many elements on your tablescape. Nix a huge paper lantern display and go for something a little more original. Have a really fun photo-booth (you can DIY that one) to give guests something to spend their time doing. Chances are guests are going to notice a custom bar you had custom made, but they will care about the drinks. Cut the things that won't lend themselves to drastically enhancing the overall look. That doesn't mean cheaping out on everything, but pick those spots that people will actually notice and forget the rest.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 10.12.55 AM

Pay Off Your Wedding As Quickly As Possible:

While planning my wedding I would pay off vendors every time I had a new chunk of money. This allowed me to keep an incredibly accurate count on how much I had and how much was still outstanding. My vendors were paid off months before they were supposed to be and I was free to spend money I had in new areas without losing count of my overall budget. I realize there is a concern that the vendor could just not show up on your wedding day and take your money, but hopefully you have hired a team of complete professionals where this wouldn't even be a concern. (I had a videographer from craigslist who I paid the day of......because you better believe I didn't feel right about giving him the money up front.)

Keep a spreadsheet for your budget. In the beginning it was filled with a lot of estimated costs for things. As I started booking more and more vendors it turned into tracking expenses, balances paid and those that were outstanding, etc. This was such a lifesaver when I was getting married and something I referred to all the time.


The budget is probably the least fun part of planning a wedding, but it is the most critical. Hopefully these tips will help you stay somewhat on track. As always, if you have more questions or need some extra help, I'm here to answer any questions. I have recently created some budget tracking sheets that I can send to you as well. Email and I'll send those over.


Want more awesome information like this? I'm hosting a wedding planning workshop for brides who don't want to hire a planner but need help making sense of it all. Check out all the details!

Planning a Wine Country Wedding, Part 3: Where did you get that?

As an event designer, one of the questions I’m asked most by both clients and wedding guests is where I find all the unique elements — from the perfect dinner chairs to the adorable ring bearer’s pillow — that make a couple’s wedding uniquely them. For wine country weddings, you typically want thoughtful details that beautifully bridge both rustic and elegant looks. Here I share some of Esla Events' favorite sources.

Paper Goods


The Aerialist Press. They offer beautiful designs – both house and couture collections, and are two of the nicest people you will ever meet, who are inspiringly passionate about what they do.

Little Miss Press. She offers beautiful stationery design AND stunning calligraphy. Getting your invitations designed, printed, and addressed all in one spot? Can’t get any easier than that.


Materials & Special Touches



Save on Crafts. For all you DIYers out there, this is a gold mine for materials. From candles to moss to baskets, this national site’s warehouse is located just down south in Watsonville, so getting your items is very quick and easy.

Pressed Cotton. One of my new favorite sites for special little details. The products are tastefully done and well curated.

BHLDN. While some items are overpriced, sometimes you just can’t find that perfect coral cake stand anywhere else. Great for items you think you’ll want to keep long after the wedding.

Etsy. And no list can be complete without this “DIYer outsourcing” site. Sometimes it takes some patience to dig through all the postings, but usually you can find the perfect item at a great price.


Pretty Sweets


Miette. A San Francisco classic, this store just makes you happy. If you can incorporate some of their jaw-droppingly beautiful cupcakes and macarons into your dessert table, do.

Batter. One of my favorite sources for baked goods. Delicious, unique, and beautiful.

Candy Warehouse. There isn’t anything that glamorous about this site or source, but it’s a lifesaver if you’re trying to find a range of candies in one particular shade.



Hartmann Studio Rentals. Tip: They have one of the best shrubbery collections in the region. So if you need some olive trees or boxwoods to help define large outdoor spaces, and make ceremony spaces more intimate, this is the place to go.

Wine Country Party & Events. Not surprisingly, their inventory is geared beautifully towards the rustic yet romantic and elegant look of Napa and Sonoma weddings.

Classic Party Rentals. Looking for a great dark-wood farm table? They rent them for $85. Also, their benches and Descanso lounge furniture are quite popular with my clients.

For fans of mid century modern, industrial, and custom design rentals, keep an eye out for YEAH! Rentals and rEvolve (site coming soon!), who will both be expanding their presence in the Bay Area this coming year.


Vintage Touches


One True Love Vintage Rentals. Incredibly tasteful collection, with exceptionally beautiful pieces for lounge vignettes.

Heritage & Craft. With a beautiful selection of vintage goods, they also are able to craft custom pieces for you.

MilkGlass Vintage Rentals. Her selection of tables and glassware are fantastic, and she also can help you create a customized piece to perfectly suit your needs.

Wine Country Party’s Circa. Need to try and get all your rentals from the same place to avoid multiple delivery charges? Wine Country Party has a Circa line of vintage goods, so you can get 150 standard white plates and 5 wooden crates for styling your dessert table all in one place.



Napa Valley Linens. Amazing customer service and a constantly updated and beautiful selection of linens.

La Tavola. My clients go crazy for their Tuscano line (which are linen linens). Beautiful understated elegance. They have showrooms in both Napa and San Francisco, making sample viewing a snap.

Happy hunting for your perfect items!

Planning a Wine Country Wedding, Part 2: The Design

Laurel here from Esla Events for the next installment of our Wine Country wedding series. This week’s topic: designing and styling your big day. There is no shortage of inspiration out there these days, from blogs to magazines to books (my current favorites are this one and that one). So instead of getting into the style of your design, below I provide some tips to consider when styling your designs. None are rocket science but, as any bride can tell you, it's really easy to get so deep into the specifics of your idea that you overlook some styling basics. Think of this as a 7-point cheat sheet for taking your designs from concept to execution successfully, and for getting yourself unstuck when needed. 1. Ask yourself, “What’s behind it?” Sure, you’ve considered the backdrop for your ceremony, but what about your dessert table? Your head table? Your bar? You’ll want these to be in convenient locations that makes sense for access and flow, but don’t forget about the overall visual experience. If there isn’t a gorgeously textured barn wall or natural feature to help frame the component, create one by hanging something (see point #7).

Photo by MEF Photography | Rentals by OTL Vintage | Design and Styling by Esla Events and Amanda O'Shannessy Creative


2. Incorporate a few specialty pieces. One of the easiest and most surefire ways to enhance the look of your day is to rent a few signature items. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, focusing your limited dollars on one or two additions or upgrades can really help elevate your aesthetic. Some favorite strategies include: creating a lounge area with beautiful vintage pieces from One True Love, Heritage & Craft, or Milk Glass, upgrading your napkins and dinner table linens to La Tavola’s Tuscano line, or switching out basic folding chairs for crossback chairs, available at Wine Country Party, Hartmann Studios, and Classic Party Rentals.

 Photo by MEF Photography | Rentals by OTL Vintage | Design and Styling by Esla Events and Amanda O'Shannessy Creative


3. Use varying display heights. Use stands, wood crates, or other props to create height on your various stations and display areas. Not sure how to do this? Just check out your favorite boutique or coffee shop for ideas on how to execute this well. The end result is a more friendly, engaging, and visually pleasing design.

Photo and Design by Esla Events


4. When in doubt, use the rule of three. Most items look better in clusters of three, especially when they’re varied in height. Not sure why, they just do.

Photo by MEF Photography | Florals by Leigh Okies Design | Design and Styling by Esla Events and Amanda O'Shannessy Creative


5. Consider the white space. In addition to figuring out what should go where, think about what shouldn’t be there. Giving core design elements breathing room can amplify their visual impact.

Florals by Studio Choo | Photo by Esla Events 


6. Hang something. Many venues in Napa and Sonoma have arbors, wine racks, and other easy-to-hang-from anchor points. Hanging candles, lights, ribbon, signs, and chalkboards are all easy ways to personalize a space, add that romantic touch, and get the most visual impact for your efforts.

Photo by Meg Perotti  |  Florals by Studio Choo  | Rentals by Heritage & Craft  |  Ribbon wall and design by Esla Events


7. If you're not sure whether it will work, prototype it. Sketch it. Count it out. Visit a rental showroom. Make a floor plan. Make a sample. Whatever your strategy, getting the idea out of your head and into a physical form will ensure there are no surprises on the big day, and might even give you additional ideas. And don't be shy! As you can tell from my sketch below, you don't need to be an artist to use this trick—just doodle to get clear on your idea!


Still feeling design-challenged? Consider hiring an event designer to help you flesh out your ideas, help you find all the needed materials and rentals, and handle all the styling on the big day. Or better yet, check out Amanda O’Shannessey’s recently launched workshop series, Styled.


Planning a Wine Country Wedding, Part 1: When & Where

Today we are announcing a new Engaged & Inspired series, Planning a Wine Country Wedding. This series is written by one of my favorite Wine Country wedding planners, Laurel of Esla Events. Esla Events is responsible for some absolutely gorgeous weddings, no seriously, check out her gallery of work. Truly breathtaking. Find out more about Laurel and Esla Events right here. Take it away Laurel! 


I’m thrilled to contribute to Engaged & Inspired’s wealth of information and insight for real brides who are planning real weddings. My four-part series will focus on planning a wedding in Napa, Sonoma, and the surrounding areas. While I have a few ideas for the upcoming posts, I want to first open it up to you, Engaged & Inspired readers: What would you like to know? Feel free to email me directly at, or leave a comment on this post.

Two of the first major decisions you’ll need to make when planning your wine country wedding are where and when to get married, so let’s begin there.

“When” is relatively straight-forward. Prime wedding weather in Napa, Sonoma, and surrounding areas is mid-May through mid-October, with the most reliably comfortable months being June and September. However, couples get married year round in this beautiful area. Even now in February, there are beautiful blankets of yellow mustard among the vineyards and, just yesterday, I was comfortably running around Yountville in a dress. The weather is of course less predictable from November to April, but if you’re on a budget or have a challenging schedule, don’t feel limited to just the prime summer and fall months.

"Where” to get married is the more interesting, and often more personal and challenging, question.

Beautiful custom map by The Aerialist Press

You might have a vision in your head already — a cozy dinner with a beautiful vineyard backdrop and soft magical light, right? But beyond that, you might be surprised by the range of variables you’ll need to consider. Here are a few questions I always ask clients when beginning the venue hunt:

How far from San Francisco do you want your guests to drive? If you want to encourage all guests – including your San Francisco friends and family – to make a weekend of it and stay overnight one or more nights, select a venue in Healdsburg, Glen Ellen, or Calistoga, which are a solid 1.5-2 hours outside San Francisco. This can make for livelier receptions, as your guests won’t have to worry about driving home after the celebrating (assuming you provide transportation back to the main hotel, if needed). However, if convenience is a bigger factor for you, and you don’t want to ask your out-of-town guests to drive another two or three hours after their cross-country flight, then opt for a venue near the cities of Sonoma or Napa. Some favorites include The Carneros Inn and Gundlach Bundschu.

How late do you want your wedding to go? Local noise ordinances makes outdoor dance parties impossible after 9 or 10pm. If you want to twirl late into the night with your friends and new husband, seek out venues with indoor reception areas, such as Cline Cellars and Calistoga Ranch.

Do you want cocktails to be served? If so, be sure to check whether the venue you’re considering allows hard alcohol. Many vineyards only allow wine (often only their own) and beer, but many other types of venues allow both, especially hotels and estates, such as Solage and Beaulieu Garden.

What does an “intimate setting” mean to you? Many couples are drawn to wine country for the promise of an intimate, relaxed, and beautiful setting. There are many types of “intimate” in wine country though, and getting clear on what exactly that means to you and your fiancé will help focus your search. Do you want all your family and friends to stay onsite all weekend at a property like Dawn Ranch? Or do you imaging whisking all your guests away to a beautiful hideaway like Healdsburg Country Gardens? Or does is really mean renting a wing of rooms at your favorite hotel like Bardessono, and having all festivities right there onsite?

Talking about those four basic questions with your fiancé will help focus your search, and make the most of your initial visits to the area.  Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, check out search tools like Here Comes the Bride, the local venue list at The Collection, or simply cruise around Engaged & Inspired and other blogs for leads. I recommend seeing no more than 3-4 sites in one day to avoid venue-overload.

And now for a little visual fun: photos of a few of my favorite venues by some of my favorite photographers!

Beaulieu Garden Located in Rutherford, this beautiful private estate is full of magical features like a sunken garden, fountains, and vine-covered arbors. This venue is perfect for couples wanting an elegant, extremely private, al fresco setting for their big day (and for those with a decent-sized budget.)

Photo by Larissa Cleveland

Photos by Larissa Cleveland

Photos by Larissa Cleveland


The Carneros Inn For those of you skeptical of hotels as wedding venues, this modern-meets-rustic oasis will win you over with its impeccable design (no crazy carpets here!), beautiful layout, and private-feeling event areas. One of my favorite spots.

Photo by Carlie Statsky Photography

Photo by Carlie Statsky Photography

Photo by Carlie Statsky Photography

Annadel Estate Winery This is one of the most intimate and beautifully raw settings I’ve come across in Wine Country. The vine-covered ruins are the centerpiece of the property, and they’re beautifully complemented by a large lawn and barn.

  Photos by MEF Photography


Calistoga Ranch For smaller weddings, this gem offers several different site options, including a beautiful lawn area overlooking a small lake on one side and a valley on the other, a gorgeous pool area, and a cozy wine cave.

Photo by Sabine Scherer Photography

Photo by Sabine Scherer Photography

Photo by Sabine Scherer Photography


Gundlach Bundschu While I haven’t personally planned a wedding here yet, I’ve visited the wine tasting room many times and have fallen in love with the ceremony site. Conveniently located near Sonoma, Gundlach sits on a hill overlooking beautiful hills and vineyards.

  Photos by Jessica Burke Photography

 Coming up next: TBD! Email me your topic requests, or post them in the comments below.

Making It

3 years ago this month I was getting ready to launch Engaged & Inspired. I had been engaged for a month and I was over the moon about starting this venture of mine. At that time my concept of "made it" was to be running this blog full time, doing what I love.

Fast forward 3 years. I'm in a place where I do this full time, yet I feel so far from "making it". Hence this little gem of a quote resounding so much with me I feel the urge to write an entire post about it. Truth be told, so many parts of Engaged & Inspired aren't what I want them to be. They were great at one time but as I continue to move forward and grow as a person and a brand, the only word I feel properly describes my felling is "stodgy". Which, yes, is the worst feeling to have about something you worked so hard to create. No one gets that as much as I.

I feel there will always be different levels of "making it" and that is what makes companies so great. There is always a new challenge, a new level and if your work is great, you will always look back on the earlier stuff cringing. And that is growth.

I haven't had very much time in this new year to reflect & set goals just yet. (Thanks to The Lab & speaking at Alt believe me, I'm not complaining!) Despite all the work and long hours I have been putting in this month, this quote and the future of Engaged & Inspired have taken up every free second I can possibly muster.

Since I am not one of those people that dwells in the woes of life, or writes posts to collect sympathy, I won't leave on such a note. The new site design is coming soon, and with that comes some major changes, additions, and of course work to be done. The fact that this place isn't exactly what I want it to be pushes me even harder and drives me even more every single day because it will become (very soon in fact) the most perfect place for me and the most perfect place to cultivate and grow this brand of mine.

Despite it all I have seen tremendous growth in the past year and I send out my sincerest thank you to each and every one of you.  Thanks for finding something to love and finding something to come back for.

I'm extremely excited for the future, the possibilities and for the opportunity to call myself a full-time blogger. Not many people have the luxury to do so, and even more people can't even begin to understand everything that a title like that means. I will say it with pride and never again think that such a title isn't good enough. It is.

Announcing --> The Lab iPhone App

It is time to let the cat out of the bag! The Lab is a bridal experience taking place in Sonoma, Ca on January 12. As one of the founders of the event, we have been working day and night creating the perfect event for brides! While we ramp up for our event, we have been secretly working on a little something special. I am so very excited to finally let you in on a little something I have been working very hard on for the last few months. The Lab iPhone App!

We are serious when we say that it is our top priority to connect brides with the right type of vendors. We want to showcase some of the best talent for you so you don't have to go and do all the research yourself. At The Lab we will have 6 spaces decked out to give you endless amounts of inspiration along with bites, great music and of course, our fashion show! We also offer a library of vendor portfolios to look through at your leisure. All this is good and all, but we wanted to take it a step further and give you a place to search through our extensive library of vendors before, during or after the event. See something you love while walking The Lab? With the app you can save to favorites or just go ahead and shoot them an email right then and there!

Download it now!

Advice From A NewlyWed {Plus A Sneak Peek}

Remember me? The "California Casual" bride? Well I've finally come up for air post-wedding and am so excited to share some advice (and a few amazing photos!) with you all. I'm sitting here in my living room, surrounded by boxes, thank you notes and slightly beat up wedding decorations, reflecting on the amazingness that just occurred over the last month. I'm happy, exhausted, overwhelmed with love and excited to begin the next chapter of our life!

The wedding was incredible. The weather was absolutely perfect, the details came together and everyone had an amazing time. There was so much love during the whole weekend...from the rehearsal dinner excitement, to the magical wedding day to the lovely Sunday BBQ that wrapped up the weekend. We felt so blessed all weekend long.

In thinking about my advice for other brides, I think it can be wrapped up in one word: perspective. If you can keep the right perspective of what the day is all about, a lot of stress can be avoided. For us, the day was all about our love and the friends and family who helped us get where we are today.

At the beginning of the planning process, I told myself not to sweat the small stuff. I knew that no one would remember if we served salmon or cod, if the flowers were orange or yellow or if the bridesmaids dresses were strapless or not. This did end up putting a little extra pressure on myself for the bigger decisions such as venue and dress, but it did help me take a step back whenever I found myself getting caught up in little details.

I also found that, for each key person involved, especially parents, there was something that was particularly important to them. So let them own it! My mother-in-law loves flowers, so she was very involved in selecting a florist and working with her on designs. For me, all the printed materials became a big focus. So I took the lead of all the paper goods.

I think my absolute favorite thing we did was involve our friends and family in the wedding. My uncle and a close friend or ours shared officiating duties, which made for an incredibly personal and memorable ceremony. My dad involved my wedding party in his toast and we had two very talented friends perform our first dance song. All of these touches made the wedding feel personal, warm and comfortable, which was exactly what we were going for.

All in all, the day was incredible. It was perfect in its imperfections. And ultimately, I came out married to a wonderful man! And then we topped everything off with an incredible honeymoon in France.

Really, what more could a girl ask for?

Photos by Ken Kienow