Selecting a Wedding Venue

Full disclosure here because I am all about being honest... I did a blog post about selecting a wedding venue for my work, Longwood Venues, so I may or may not be using some of the same information.  I promise I'll change it up a bit and add more personal information from my experience.  That being said, we could not have had a better experience with our venue, The Carriage House.  It blew us out of the water and I have pretty high standards since I work for a company that owns five luxury event venues.

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Now that I let you know where I am coming from, I will tell you as much as I can so that you can select your wedding venue with ease.  For starters, decide on the aesthetic of your day.  When you begin your search, you need to make sure you and your fiance are on the same page for what you are looking for.  Make sure your personalities shine through.  Walking into one of the venues I toured screamed Philadelphia to me.  While it was beautiful and I loved the chapel on site, I knew it would not fit the aesthetic I was aiming for.  In addition, T has no connection to Philadelphia other than me.  Why would he want to get married at a wedding venue with nods to a city that means nothing to him?  After leaving that venue, I learned that even though you can make each space your own, it is not easy to plan a style-specific wedding at every venue.

The quality of food is another huge factor when selecting a wedding venue.  As stated on the Longwood blog, "It is important to ask questions about where the food comes from and what items are made in-house.  Find out if the food is prepared on-site or in a commissary.  If the venue’s food is prepared in a commissary, be aware of the use of hot boxes (aka food warmers, meaning food probably sits in these boxes for a period of time before being served to guests).  You should also find out if the food is frozen.  Frozen products are usually lower in quality."  I wanted to use that exact quote because it rings true for so many reasons.  You want to make sure the food is delicious and fresh.  It is a huge part of your day and something your guests will talk about for a long time after the wedding is over.  People are still telling T and me how delicious everything was at our wedding and that The Carriage House had amazing food.  We feel extremely lucky that that was our friends and family's response.  Imagine if it was horrible? Yikes.

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Another thing to know before starting your search is a rough estimate for the guest count.  You don't want to waste your time looking at venues that can only fit 100 people if you plan on inviting 230 people.  We assumed that we would invite around 150 when we started selecting a wedding venue.  While we ended up inviting 198 people, we knew ahead of time that our venue could accommodate that because it was something we kept in mind when our search began.  Many venues also have varying spaces that can accommodate different guest counts so make sure you look into that when selecting a wedding venue. 

I also think it is key to have a connection with the employees and salespeople you meet at the venue.  If you don't have a connection, don't let that deter you though.  Find someone at the venue that you feel comfortable with.  You will be speaking to them often throughout the process so you want to make sure you get along.  The saleswoman at The Carriage House made the process extremely fun for me.  She told me that all my dreams were possible (cheese fry bar included).  After we booked, our saleswoman left the venue however, they made it a point to make sure I still felt comfortable and confident in them.  The staff was amazing.  You must listen to your gut.  Take note of how long they take to respond to you and if they listen to your needs.  You want the relationship to be open and transparent.

The last thing I will say is to have fun and relax. Keep in mind that you are about to marry your soul mate so the day will be perfect no matter what.  Check out the Longwood Venues blog for a more in-depth explanation for selecting a wedding venue.  You can also always check out our venues.  We have five throughout New England and I guarantee one will be your dream wedding venue.

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*All photography in this post is from our wedding photographer, Elizabeth Friske Photography.  I cannot recommend her enough.  Trust me on this. You can check out her blog post about our wedding here.*

#itsbacheloretteszn

Don't worry if you can't keep up, I can't either.  My family and friends have SERIOUSLY outdone themselves over the last year.  For those that follow me, you know I am getting married in about a month but we have been engaged for about a year and eight months.  

We have a super fun situation in which we both have huge families that we are extremely close with and friends in both states we grew up in (plus a dozen other states).  We live in Rhode Island, where Teddy grew up so that makes half the battle a bit easier.  The best way to sum up what I am trying to say is, we have been partying for the last year and a half.  Right after the engagement, we headed to Sea Isle City for an informal celebration with my close friends and family.  Then, around Thanksgiving, we had a second engagement party in New Jersey because the whole family was in town at my mom's house.  We then proceeded to continue the party in Rhode Island when T's mom threw us an engagement party in Newport.  Are you still following?

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Fast forward to the past few months and I have now had two bridal showers (one in both states) and two/three? bachelorette parties.  It sounds totally crazy but it makes perfect sense to everyone involved, promise, haha.  The weekend of my Jersey shower, me and my besties hit the town in Philadelphia for a night of fun.  I then went to Miami a few weeks after with a smaller group.  Most recently, after my shower at T's mom's house, my girlfriends in Rhode Island surprised us with a night of fun and reckless behavior.  I am guessing you all understand the hashtag now, hahaha.

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I had gotten a few questions about everything and although it shouldn't matter, I thought I would explain it for those curious.  Teddy still has his bachelor party coming up but his friends joined us this past weekend with mine.  If the last year and a half is any bit of a preview for the wedding, we are all in for the best. weekend. ever!

Target's New Line - Opal House

As much as I love our little cottage, we neeeeeed a new house.  I know it will be some time before we get one but I thought it would be fun to look through Target's new line, Opal House, and see what I would buy.  I fell seriously in love with some pieces.  That chair? Holy cow, I need.  The little elephant would be perfect for a house plant in a bathroom or living room.  It's even cute just styled on its own.  

I would definitely want to get that artificial fiddle leaf fig tree because your girl cannot even keep an air plant alive lately.  It looks pretty real too and the price is great compared to some of the other ones I've seen (exhibit A and exhibit B).  I would probably put the tree's pot into the large woven basket I was eyeing.  I have been loving the way people are using baskets as planters lately.

This bar cart is amazing.  We do have a bar cart already but we could definitely have two if we had a bigger house.  #neverenoughwine  But really, they could be styled in completely different rooms and hold different things.  One doesn't even have to be a "bar cart."  The trinket basket and pillow are just must haves if you ask me.  They would serve no purpose other than being adorable in a new home.

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Do you love the line as much as I do?  I kind of wish there was a bit more blue and white accessories but it may be a sign that I have enough of those already! 

Wedding Inspiration

We are officially less than two months away from the big day so I decided to finally give you some details.  We don't have a "theme" for our big day but more so an aesthetic.  You would think that my wedding would be all beachy and what not but honestly, that is not how I imagined my day when I was growing up.  I wanted my wedding to reflect my taste (and my future husband's but at the time I didn't have him picked out yet) and that is exactly what it the day will do.  Below is a small snippet of a mood board that reflects some aspects of our day.

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For as long as I can remember, I have loved ginger jars and the combination of blue and white.  My dad's mother, one of my mom-moms, has always said that one day, all of her blue and white China would be mine.  Luckily for T and me (and our bank accounts), she has already started handing some down and we get to include it into our decor.  I think she is going to love what I end up using it all for.

The florals throughout the entire day will be white hydrangeas.  I kind of surprised everyone, myself included, when I made that decision.  Sunflowers have always been an obsession with mine.  I love the color yellow and everything that sunflowers stand for but I decided I didn't want them to be surrounding my on my big day.  I will have a sunflower bouquet to toss instead of tossing my own so they won't be completely absent. ;) 

I think the rest of the details within the mood board are kind of self explanatory.  The shoes are the ones I will be wearing that have been so kindly gifted to me by someone insanely special.  The "rsvp" is the font used on our invitations and the graphic I created for our custom stamps on the return envelopes.  I will have to put together a post all about our invitations soon.  They are everything I dreamed of.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this little peak into what our big day will be like.  You can follow along here and on Instagram with the hashtags #caitandtedfinallywed, #itsbacheloretteszn, and #greetingsfromjamestown.

You are a Badass Calendar Review

Not too long ago, I started posting inspirational quotes from my daily calendar on my Instagram stories.  I didn't think as many of you would take notice but darn was I wrong.  You all are constantly messaging me about the quotes, saying thank you, or asking where I got the calendar from. 

 
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I purchased this calendar on a whim when I start my new job.  It had been sitting on my dresser in the box just waiting to be opened in 2018.  I decided to bring it into work at the end of December anticipating the new year.  I was looking to start the new year on a great note and knew that this would help with some daily affirmations.  I read the book, You are a Badass, about a year ago and it changed my outlook on life.  I think more positively and I do not let other's actions hurt my feelings as much as they used to.  I walk to the beat of my own drum (cliche, I know) and try not to worry about others.  I still have my moments, but the book really helped with my confidence and outlook on the world around me.

I was a little bummed when I realized the calendar is just quotes and excerpts from the book but the reminder every morning is still inspiring.  I suggest reading the book in its whole but having the desk calendar to look at each day is a fun reminder.  The fact that they are the same doesn't discourage me from recommending them.  I still would say they are both awesome to read, especially considering the inexpensive price tag.  

If you read the book or have the calendar, I would love your opinion on it.  Do you love it/dislike it?  Let me know!

North Moat Mountain

T and I went up to New Hampshire with friends to celebrate two (they're twins) birthdays.  We had the best time and came home sore as ever after climbing North Moat Mountain.  When I made it to the top, all I could think of was how that was the hardest thing I have done physically in years.  I totally regretted not having my inhaler but I am so thankful I didn't give up.  I didn't take many pictures that weekend other than climbing the mountain so here are some of those shots!

Treat Yourself

I decided to put together a gift guide for you to treat yourself.  This time of year, everyone is giving back and spoiling others so much that I think we forget to take care of ourselves.  A spa day or a simple manicure could do the trick or you could pick one of these (which I would totally do because seriously... all the heart eyes).

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  1. Louis Vuitton Key Pouch - This is the best way to carry around your keys and cards and license when you are constantly switching bags (guilty!)  I know it looks small but trust me, it fits your cards as well.  I have been using one by Tory Burch from my aunt for years but I think it has seen better days.
  2. Velvet Hair Tie Ribbon - As most of my friends and family know, I am a die hard scrunchie girl.  Most of the time they are my old gymnastics schrunchies that all have matching leotards, might I add.  These little guys are so cute I might actually put the schrunchie away for the day.  I love both the blush and green colors!
  3. Yeti Rambler, 30oz. - I have heard the best reviews on this travel mug and although it is a bit pricier, it's worth it.  And I'm a sucker for pink so....
  4. Barbour Beadnell Waxed Cotton Jacket - I have been dying for this jacket since I was a freshman in college.  One day I will just treat myself to this New England staple, I swear.
  5. What do you Meme? - Similar to cards against humanity but with memes.  Do I need to say more?
  6. Reversible Belt - This Talbots belt is killer.  I spotted it a few months ago and have been lusting after it since.  I also feel like you could justify the price because a. good quality and b. its a two-for-one deal since it is reversible.
  7. Leather Tech Gloves - Sophisticated enough for work but also great because I constantly need to use my phone for work.  Win, win.  These also come in a beautiful pecan color and in black but there is something so fun about the pink.  Probably more practical if I got the pecan though.
  8. Wanderlust Map - This gold scratch of map is perfect for those who want to track where they have been.  I have an app on my phone that I use but kind of thought it would be cool to have something I could physically hang in my dressing/guest room.
  9. Bean Boots - I am obsessed with my bean boots but this pair looks so comfy and warm for those days when I am out shoveling snow or playing with Dakota.  Can you really have too many pairs of bean boots when you live in New England?
  10. Mophie - Here is a little extra that isn't feature above.  I totally forgot I wanted one of these until this very moment.  It is the most intense phone charger and I am pretty positive I am going to need one soon.  I am constantly killing my battery and my spare battery that I got a few years ago.  I have hear amazing things about Mophies and think that they would last much longer.

When was the last time you treated yourself?  My fall treat just came in the mail (hiiii faux fur coat), so these won't be in my hands for a while but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.

Bucket List Item

Similar to Mackenzie's 101 in 1001 list, I have started keeping a New England bucket list.  While yes, these activities and adventures can take place anywhere, I am looking to do them up here.  Some of the travel is out of the country so those do not exactly apply to the New England theme but I promise, for the most part, they all will!

My first list item that I want to share with all of you is... spend the night in a lighthouse. 

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There is a surprisingly high number of lighthouses to can rent for the night within New England but I narrowed it down to seven that I would totally go for!

  1. Rose Island Lighthouse - Newport, RI:  this one is right in our backyard practically.  The price is seriously affordable and it is on the national register of historical places. You have to take a boat out to the island but I can think of worse places to be stuck for the night.
  2. Race Point Lighthouse - North Truro, MA:  Depending on the time of year, you can see whales and seals right from the beach.  Talk about a dream to me.
  3. Goose Rocks Light - North Haven, ME: Goose Rocks Light has enough to room for up to six guests!  Lighthouse party anyone?
  4. Borden Flats Lighthouse - Fall River, MA:  Other than a few modern day conveniences (i.e. solar electricity and a modern kitchen), Borden Flats Lighthouse remains true to the late 1800s.  This lighthouse stands alone and has been around for over a century.
  5. Wings Neck Lighthouse - Pocasset, ME:  Wings Neck Lighthouse is a former Coast Guard property that can accommodate up to 8 guests.  Talk about fun!
  6. Little River Lighthouse - Cutler, ME:  Little River Lighthouse is situated on a 15-acre island with stunning views of Cutler Harbor.  Only accessible by boat, this little slice of heaven is a place for relaxation and adventure.
  7. Cuckholds Lighthouse - W. Southport, ME:  Cuckholds Lighthouse actually a luxury Inn.  You can rent a suite or even the whole island and it is the perfect for a romantic getaway or a vacation with family.  A lighthouse you can be pampered at?  Sign. me. up.

October Mood Board

Things have been a bit slow around here lately (not that they are ever really that consistent), but I am looking to change that.  I started my new job at the end of September and love is an understatement.  I feel like I was meant for this job and I cannot wait to continue to grow there.  

Since fall has arrived, the temperatures only dropped to sweater weather for a few days while a hurricane was in town. I am in no rush for the weather to cool down but getting dressed in the morning has proven to be difficult.  I have found that short sleeve sweaters are my go to right now.  They are they perfect in between.  And while I cannot sport my bean boots too often just yet, they will be in heavy rotation soon.

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picnic image via sarah vickers | sweater | bean boot painting via meredith hanson

Charlestown, RI

When my friend, Jordan, was home for the weekend, we knew we wanted to head to her mom's house and explore the neighborhood.  Yes, that's right.  The pictures below are from her neighborhood.  It took about two minutes to walk there from her back door.  How amazing is this view?  We felt pretty darn lucky to explore on such a beautiful day, we had to snap some pics. 

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skirt + top set sold out, same set here 

September Mood Board

Summer is not over until the 22nd so I am clearly still living like its July. (#summerforever) I did switch out our pillows for a more "fall" look with the below navy gingham set from Target.  They don't scream summer or fall so I can handle that.  I also have started switching out my short sleeve stripes for longer options.  I am hanging on to the warm weather for as long as possible.

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My Ring Story

Every now and again I catch myself looking down at my finger in awe.  I say “in awe” because I cannot believe how lucky I am to wear the same diamonds on my finger that my father proposed to my mother with pictured below. (I took the shot of my mother's engagement ring and wedding band a year or two ago.)

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I was extremely young when my dad passed and unfortunately, I have lived more than half my life without him.  Although our time together was short (10 years to be exact), I know he loved my mom more than anything.  I remember seeing them together and knowing that their relationship would be the kind I want some day. (I never thought I would be the one so attached to skiing and T would be the one with a torn ligament on the slopes.  My parents had it the other way around 😉).

I honestly don’t know how the conversation happened but at some point, my sister and I decided who would get what of my mom’s jewelry one day.  When it came time to talk about things from my dad, Jacqui had her eyes set on a specific diamond necklace so I went with the rings.  Little did I know how much it would mean to me later on.   After T asked my mom for permission, she gave him the rings in a favorite little town of ours, Sea Isle.  Don’t ask how I missed the hand off but somehow, I didn’t take notice.

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Our conversations soon became much more serious about marriage and you bet I made sure T had an idea in mind of what I wanted for an engagement ring.  He had the ring reset and held on to it for the perfect moment to ask.  I was getting a little suspicious and annoying, I assume, so T had to catch me by surprise (like really catch me) so I wouldn’t ruin it for myself.

He did a pretty darn good job, if I do say so myself. *all the heart eyes*

photographs by elizabeth friske

Mellow Yellow

People might think I am crazy for this but I am going to say it anyways; yellow is the new millennial pink.  I may be biased because yellow is my absolute favorite color and always has been but I really believe it is on the rise.  Several of my favorite brands have taken notice and are including it in their new lines or as their brand colors.

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Summersalt is my new favorite bathing suit line.  They have the most flattering suits and they have a style for everyone.  You can even try them on at home before ordering.  Another brand decked out in yellow is Fishers Island Lemonade.  Albeit on the opposite end of the spectrum than a bathing suit, it is equally a favorite of mine.  Their spiked lemonade tastes amazing and their branding is pretty rad as well.

I don’t think millennial pink will be going anywhere anytime soon but it should definitely watch its back.

images above via summersalt

INSTAGRAM TUP TUESDAY #8

The last Instagram Tip Tuesday is self explanatory.  As much as I don't like it and neither will you, we have to deal with it.

 
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Accepting change is not always easy but it is a must.  Our culture is constantly changing and evolving so Instagram must change with it.

If you don't want to deal with the change, you can always hire me (you knew that was coming)!

INSTAGRAM TIP TUESDAY #7

When someone on Instagram clicks on a hashtag under an image, it goes to the stream of images containing that hashtag. This means that thousands and thousands of people can see your image by clicking on a simple word you type!  

 
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You can also find trending and popular images by searching different hashtags.  It is a way to gather photos themed around similar topics.  Many people use hashtags to chronicle weddings, vacations, blogs.  For instance, my Rhode Island adventures are filed under #oceanstatecait while my pictures of my pup can be found under #littleladydakota.

The basic line is, if you hashtag strategically, more people will see your account and interact with it and possibly follow you.  If you can see what your competitors are hashtagging and what popular pages that are in the same genre as you use, you will be able to benefit.  Use similar hashtags as those in your industry if they are pertinent to the image you post and see how the work out.

Need advice on which hashtags work best for your account?  Need to create a company hashtag?  You can always hire me!

WEEKEND FUN

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This weekend flew by but was definitely one of the most fun this summer and I wanted to share just a few pictures from it.  The Washington County Fair started on Wednesday and I tagged along with a bestie her family on Thursday.  We had the best fried pickles ever and sung our hearts out to Michael Ray.

Saturday, I spent the day at the beach... it was relaxing and just what I needed.  Saturday night, T and I headed to the fair with a group of friends.  Jess and I had to get the fried pickles again and we hugged a massive cow.  Seriously massive.  I also was able to convince T to hop on a few carnival rides with me!  Slightly off-balance and rickety rides are not exactly his forte but he was just fine :).

Sunday was a little less relaxing than usual seeing as we had my work's summer party.  Although not relaxing, the view was beautiful!  The owner of the company just bought the most beautiful property and was kind enough to host the event there.  T said the clam chowder was out of this world too (I don't have as much experience to give my opinion on that one)!

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Long time no talk!  I was busy celebrating a family wedding all weekend so here we are with two Tuesday tips in a row.  

 
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Something that most people don't take advantage of is their caption for each photo.  Yes, sometimes it is easier and more fun to post a witty quote or pun with an emoji but sometimes, it is necessary to say something with meaning.  Captions give you the ability to tell a story about the picture.  You are able to tell your audience how you felt, what you smelled, what happened right before you shot the image.  These small details allow your picture to have a bigger meaning.

Along with the meaning behind your image being explained, you are able to build relationships through the caption.  You can prompt your audience with a question or just tell a story.  Either way, all of this will help build a deeper connection with your followers and create authentic engagement.

If taking the time to think of a caption seems a bit daunting, you can always hire me to help.

INSTAGRAM TIP TUESDAY #5

Posting intentionally is important when it comes to Instagram.  You want to make sure you are thinking of your followers before posting an image.  Why would they want to see this image?  Is there a meaning behind this picture?  Is there a purpose to this caption?

 
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When you post an image, you want to make sure it has a purpose.  Consistent and useful content will show your followers exactly what you do and provide a clear brand message.  When you begin to post without a reason why, that is when your feed begins to look unprofessional and sloppy. If you think it is necessary to post on specific holidays, make sure you listen to tip number two and plan ahead.

Although this tip is pretty simple, it is still important.  If you don't have anything to say, don't say anything at all.  And if you have something to say but don't know how to say, hire me.

FIVE MINDLESS ACTIVITIES TO GET YOUR MIND OFF THINGS

This morning I had the strangest encounter at Dunkin’ Donuts.  Don’t get me wrong, I am aware I made a mistake however, these two creepy men screamed at me for it.  Needless to say, it has been bothering me all day.  I always struggle with things like that.  I let feelings and thoughts fester (ew, just realized I don’t like that word) until they eat me up inside.

I have been trying to not let my mind control my days as I used to.  Trying not to focus on the little things that will not matter by tomorrow or next week has always been difficult for me.  Letting these things get to me has always affects my mood, my work, everything.  Although I am still working on it, I thought I would tell you what helps me distract myself from my own thoughts.

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Reading a book always helps me clear my head.  I dive in to another person’s life or story and immerse myself into their narrative.  I find that fiction books work best for this since they describe imaginary events and people.

Painting + photography are two hobbies of mine that I use to clear my head.  If you focus on a task that requires your full concentration, you will slowly start to relax and clear your mind. You don’t have have the same hobbies as I do. You can knit, crochet, write, cook; whatever you enjoy doing, do that.

Working out helps clearing your head and I don’t know about you, but I have never been upset or worrisome after a good sweat.  Get your endorphins going and focus on what you love about yourself.  You will be clear of negative thoughts soon.

Taking a nap is like hitting a reset button for me.  If you have the time, close your eyes for a quick power nap and you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.

Netflix is a great way to immerse yourself in something if reading a book is not really your thing.  Sometimes you just need to sit and watch an episode (or 12) of your favorite show to relax and declutter your mind.

What are some ways you clear your mind of negative or overwhelming thoughts?  Let me know!  I am always looking for new ways to get my mind off things that shouldn’t be there.