My Fredericksburg Bachelorette Party

I bet you're totally surprised that I had my Bachelorette party in Fredericksburg, right?!

Honestly, I just couldn't think of a better place to have it. I LOVE Fredericksburg and I wanted the chance to show it off a little to all of my out of town friends. And between the amazing food, things to do and history, it definitely did not disappoint!

Thank Yous

Before I get into what we did, I just wanted to take a second to thank you. First, I want to thank my amazing sister and best friend Jeri for all of the planning and organizing she helped with, as well as two of my bridesmaids, Courtney & Whitney for their help as well. Without their help, this weekend would not have been so smooth and fun. I had a vision and they all made it happen! 

Second, I want to thank everyone who came out this weekend to celebrate with me. I continue to walk away from these wedding-related events just realizing how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. I had friends from High School, College, my Sorority, work, Fredericksburg, and even friends I knew in Elementary School that came. I am still riding the high of this weekend and how many people came to celebrate and have fun! It was everything I could have wanted and more and I only wish it hadn't gone by so quickly! So thank you to every person who was there this weekend; you made my weekend so incredibly special!

And last, but most certainly not least, thank you to the small businesses that made this weekend so incredible (I'll be talking about them later in the post!). Every business we used this weekend was a local biz that is special to Fredericksburg and it made me so happy to be able to give back a little bit to my community by having my Bachelorette here. And they did an incredible job taking care of us and made me look really good in front of my friends! hahaha

What We Did

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For the entire weekend, we rented out Braehead Manor, which is about 10 minutes from downtown. Mary, the innkeeper and one of my good friends, did the most incredible job all weekend. She had everything set up for us, was the best host and everyone felt right at home! I had a large group of over 15, so it was really nice to be able to all stay in one place together. It makes it much more fun! 

Friday we had a spa day at Skin Touch Therapy + Spa, which was incredibly relaxing. They did an amazing job scheduling 10 girls manis, pedis and massages flawlessly and everyone left feeling relaxed and ready for the weekend. They did such a good job that we finished right on time and were able to swing by everyone's favorite shop, Monkee's

Kybecca Wine Bar

Kybecca Wine Bar

That evening, we scheduled a two course dinner with wine pairings at Kybecca Wine Bar.  Because we had 15+ ladies, we were able to reserve their wine cellar downstairs, which gave us some privacy. The food was delicious, the wine was perfect and we had a really enjoyable dinner that wasn't rushed or busy so we could enjoy each others company. And after dinner, we just had a pajama party at the manor with champagne and popsicles in wine glasses that I decorated.

Ready for the wine tour!

Ready for the wine tour!

Saturday was a Wine Trolley Tour with the Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg! We didn't actually get to ride in a trolley, but we had a really nice bus that took us from place to place. Because of the large group, we only did three wineries. We started at Wilderness Run Vineyards, then stopped at Harvest Market to pick up some snacks, then to Lake Anna Winery and then a final stop at Mattaponi Winery.  It was the perfect afternoon and I had so much fun surrounded by some of my favorite people!

Bride's Babes

Bride's Babes

And of course, we had matching T-shirts with the Fredericksburg Skyline. What else did you expect? I had 'Bride's Babes' on all of my friends shirts in the mint green; my shirt said 'Bride to Be;' my sister and maid of honor's said 'Babe of Honor;' my moms said 'She got it from her mama;' and Mrs. Pleban's said 'the O.G. Mrs. Pleban.' They were so much fun and I definitely have to make a point to get better photos taken of them because they are so stinkin' cute. 

By the time we got back to the Manor, the pizza was delivered for dinner and everyone ate and had free time to nap, relax or (as requested by some of my friends) visit the Popcorn Bag. It was just the recovery we needed before a night out on the town. 

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If you've ever seen The Wedding Date with Debra Messing & Dermot Mulroney, you'll understand my bar crawl theme...which was golf and you have to order a different drink at each bar. It was so cute in the movie, and even more fun in real life because we got to wear skorts, tennis shoes, and sports bras, making it cute and comfy to  be out on the dance floor all night. We started at Sky Bar, which is the new rooftop bar above Castiglia's, then moved to Jay's Sports Bar, then to the Bourbon Room for some dancing and finished up at Capital Ale House for some french fries before heading home...although a few girls went back to the Bourbon Room for a little more dancing. 

My biggest planning tip

Planning ahead and including all pricing for EVERYTHING. When I sent out the cost for the weekend to my friends, I included the hotel/manor (which included breakfast both days), the dinner at Kybecca (a preset menu & wine pairing including gluten free and vegetarian options), the trolley tour with t-shirts, pizza for dinner on Saturday and snacks and wine at the manor all weekend, as well as spa treatments pending what people wanted. I paid everything the week before the bachelorette, so when showed up for all of the activities everything was completely paid for including tax and tip. No splitting checks, no adding tip or tax, nothing. The only additional fee was if you wanted to purchase wine on the tour or drinks out on Saturday night. It literally took so much stress out of the entire weekend and I highly recommend it. Plus, people are budgets and money can be tight! If you can plan ahead how much you'll be spending, it makes it so much easier to account for. 

BEST WEEKEND EVER

This past weekend was seriously everything I could have ever wanted in a bachelorette. I had the BEST time ever, and am mostly just sad it's over. I already wanna do it all over again! Thank you so so much to everyone involved and for making my weekend so incredibly special!

THE SET-UP

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friday night

Most of the Gang for Friday Night Dinner

Most of the Gang for Friday Night Dinner

Me & Brittany

Me & Brittany

Me & Jael

Me & Jael

The CNU Crew

The CNU Crew

Whitney, a Bridesmaid, myself, Jeri, my maid of honor, and Courtney, A Bridesmaid

Whitney, a Bridesmaid, myself, Jeri, my maid of honor, and Courtney, A Bridesmaid

Kaley, Joe's Sister and a Bridesmaid

Kaley, Joe's Sister and a Bridesmaid

Phi Mus

Phi Mus

My High School Besties

My High School Besties

Of course we had to add an order of oysters because they are the BEST!

Of course we had to add an order of oysters because they are the BEST!

Everyone after Dinner at Kybecca

Everyone after Dinner at Kybecca

Popsicles & Champagne

Popsicles & Champagne

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Wine Trolley Tour

Because who doesn't hang out in a beautiful porcelain tub with balloons?!

Because who doesn't hang out in a beautiful porcelain tub with balloons?!

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Wilderness Run Winery

Wilderness Run Winery

My Future Sister-In-Law, me and My sister/Maid of Honor!

My Future Sister-In-Law, me and My sister/Maid of Honor!

Celebrating two engagements in our family!

Celebrating two engagements in our family!

Hanging with Pierre at Lake Anna Winery

Hanging with Pierre at Lake Anna Winery

My Mom & Mrs. Pleban

My Mom & Mrs. Pleban

Golf Themed Bar Crawl

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My Work Wife and My Work Bestie

My Work Wife and My Work Bestie

High School Friends!

High School Friends!

Engaged?! Congratulations!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m just now getting caught up from the holidays and getting myself back into the swing of things. And yes, it has been a month. A very long month. But between traveling, Joe being home and fighting off sickness, it hasn’t been the most productive.

That all said, I need to get caught up and say Congratulations to all those brides who got engaged over Christmas!

Congratulations! What an exciting time! I’m so happy for you.

It can be a little overwhelming though, can’t it?! I know I was overwhelmed at first. So many questions you have, so many questions from other people, so many decisions to make, so many things to consider. Well, I’m here to help!

As most of you know, I got engaged last summer. And did a few blogs about what the first things I did were after I got engaged, and I thought it might be helpful to bring it back up. So now that some time has passed and I'm sure you're starting to get into more wedding planning mode, here are some blogs to hopefully help!

So You're Engaged...Now What?

Saying Yes to the Dress

Different Wedding Websites

Finding Your Venue

So What Goes on an RSVP Anyways

Anatomy of an Invitation Suite


And what's a blog without some pretty photos? So let's do a little recap of my incredible 2017 brides, who were absolutely amazing and just blew me away. I had such a fun year working with every single bride. Here’s a look back on some of my favorite invitations from last year.

Lizzie & Danny

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Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Jillian Michelle Photography

Jillian Michelle Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

ALEX & STEPHEN

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Bri & Wes Photography

Bri & Wes Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Jason Jarvis Photography

Jason Jarvis Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Photography by Marirosa

Photography by Marirosa

Hope Taylor Photography

Hope Taylor Photography

Different Wedding Websites

I have worked with some of these websites in the past as a vendor- trying to create profiles, seeing what works the best for me and mu budget (or lack there of). But now that I'm in wedding planning mode, I'm using these sites way more and very differently. 

To be honest, I knew some things about these sites, but not a lot. I didn't really know how brides used them, what they were more known for or how I should be using them. Sure I check out their blogs here and there and see their gorgeous wedding photos, but functionality wise, I haven't really done much research. 

My first thought when I got started was to use the Knot. They are the most prevalent at bridal shows, I have their magazines, and that was just my gut reaction on where to get started. I also found, and purchased, their wedding planning binder, after asking a planner what their thoughts on planners were. I chose it because it looked simple enough to use, it wasn't super expensivem it wasn't too froo-froo-y, and it had a plastic sheet to hold on to additional papers in the back. I love magazines and get a ton of inspiration from them, so this plastic sheet meant I could cut pages out and hang on to them.

Some of these websites below, I have had free business profiles for a while. I mostly have them just to have them and don't invest too much other than ensuring my profile is up to date. But in order to get the full experience as a bride (and not get a ton of spam to my personal email address), I created an email address just for the wedding and created new profiles with it on all of the sites. 

That said, in case you're like me and maybe don't know what each different wedding website really does, here's a quick synopsis of what I've found so far. 

THE KNOT  |  As a vendor, I've heard a lot of different stories, some good, a lot bad, about the Knot. But whether I truly like to admit it or not, it has been the biggest help to me. I've used it for my checklist, budgeting and researching vendors. I downloaded the app on my iPad and it lets me check things off as I do them and gives me a really good timeline as to when I should have things done by. 

The biggest vendor the Knot helped me with was my Venue. I was able to plug in the amount of guests, location radius, and budget and it gave me multiple options that I could look at. 

WEDDING WIRE  |  I also created an account on Wedding Wire and downloaded the app to take a look. It's very similar to the Knot, just different. If I hadn't download the Knot app first, I probably could've used Wedding Wire just as easily.

Working in the wedding industry, I know that different vendors invest in different websites. And different brides relate to different wedding websites. So I have researched vendors on this site as well as the Knot to get more thorough information regarding vendors I don't have any background on. 

Wedding Wire also had a similar venue search and even included the available dates. Although I will say my concern with available dates is, do vendors really update that regularly? What are the chances that if I contacted a vendor that Wedding Wire said had the date open, but they aren't open and hadn't updated it? That makes me a little skeptical....

STYLE ME PRETTY  |  Style Me Pretty is more of an inspiration that anything else. I searched for vendors a few times, but their lists are pretty scarce, so I didn't find much. I did enjoy looking at gorgeous photos and their wedding inspiration and plan on using it more for inspiration than finding vendors. I will say that on the weddings in the blogs that I found gorgeous, I did research those vendors on other sites and in Google to see if they would work with what I needed. I'm a visual person, so photos are a great way for me to see what the vendors have to offer.

SOUTHERN WEDDINGS  |  I LOVE the Southern Wedding magazine the most! Like that is my absolute favorite part of Southern Weddings. They have gorgeous photos, fun inspirations, traditions, and great articles, especially if you want that southern touch. I've gotten some fun ideas and traditions from the magazine that I can't wait to incorporate into my wedding. However, I wouldn't go there for much more than inspiration. Their vendor list is very limited.

WEDDING LOVELY  |  Wedding Lovely is actually the site I had my first Twila & Co. free profile on. It is similar to the Knot and Wedding Wire in that it's more about planning and vendors. They do have a blog for inspiration, it's also easy to use and has a lot of good information, it's just not quite as 'known' as the Knot or Wedding Wire.

WEDDING.COM  |  Wedding.com is an interesting one. I wasn't as blown away with it as I was the others. There weren't a ton of vendor profiles, the website was both underwhelming and overwhelming at the same time in that it was somewhat chaotic and unorganized, but as not aesthetically pleasing as the others. It didn't impress me enough to want to create a profile and get more information.


Just a note from a vendor perspective, it didn't matter if the vendor profiles had paid/developed profiles on any of the websites. I still researched each vendor on other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and their websites and looked at reviews on various platforms. 

And a note on vendor reviews. Reviews can be an interesting thing to read. As a small business, I know that sometimes reviews don't always tell the whole story and only share one side. I've seen a lot of situations in the industry that have two very different sides, so I always take reviews with a grain of salt. If a vendor has one bad review but 10 good ones, I kind of assume that that one particular bad one was just an unfortunate situation. If the vendor has multiple bad reviews from differing people with different situations, then I see it as a red flag. I also look up reviews on different websites such as Facebook, Google, and even the business page. It helps to get a more well-rounded point of view before booking. 

So You're Engaged...Now What?

So You're Engaged. Hooray! Congratulations! It's so exciting! But literally the next thing out of people's mouths is 'have you set a date?' I mean, even within the first 24 hours. And yes, I know they mean well! They want details, they want to know what's going on, they want to celebrate and be excited with you and maybe don't know what else to ask, but let's be real. In those last 24 hours you were not calling venues and photographers and caterers or really even looking at your calendar. You were looking at your ring and basking in the glory that the love of your life just asked you to marry him! 

But then your mind gets rolling (at least mine did) and you want to do ALL OF THE THINGS and get them all done and it's overwhelming and where do you even start?! At least that's where my mind went.

First things first, pick a time of year. If you have a specific date in mind, that's great too, although it make things harder if you have no flexibilty. For Joe and I, we decided a fall time frame of next year so it wasn't so hot here in Virginia.  That narrowed it down to September, October, or November.

I've been in the wedding industry long enough to know what things booked up the fastest, so that's where I started: the venue and the photographer. A third vendor to book at this time would be that specific vendor that you just have to have. My 'have-to-have' vendor was the photographer, so I only had two. 

A few days after the proposal and the excitement died down a little bit, I contacted a few the photographer (my have-to-have vendor) to get some available dates. 

Let me tell you, things book up FAST. I am not saying that to scare you by any means, but more to encourage you to not wait too long before you contacting these vendors. Just for a bit of a reference here, I got engaged at the end of June, contacted the photographer within a week and had a Skype session the first of July. As I said before, we are looking at the Fall of 2018. By the time we talked to the photographer, she already had all of October booked and a few dates in September. And that's more than a year out. 

Once I had a list of dates from my photographer, I got a list of dates from the potential venue and matched them up to see which dates they had in common. I took those dates to Joe to chat about what dates he preferred, and then placed soft holds with the photographer and venue while I finalize a few details (particularly, the guest list and how many people we are inviting, but that's for another blog!).

So to recap, here's your first to-dos:

  1. Pick a time of year
  2. Tour venues
  3. Chat with photographers
  4. Match up dates between your favorite venue and photographer
  5. Book that date!

But most importantly, ENJOY IT. This is your time! Make sure to take a deep breath and take it all in as this time will fly right by! Cheers!

 

The Best Birthday Ever

Oh my gosh. I don't even know where to begin with this blog. I had planned to blog last week and I'm truly attempting to get better at blogging again, but these past few weeks have just been crazy with everything that's going on. I finally feel like things are starting to get back to normal!

So first off, just in case you haven't heard, Joe and I are engaged! Hooray! And last week was my 30th birthday. It was a big week, and we had a LOT to celebrate. 

Because this year was such a big birthday, we had planned a big party the Saturday before to get all our friends and family together. So Saturday (June 24th), we scheduled a party and even my brother, Sean, and his gf, Colleen flew in from Chicago to be there to celebrate. Jeri, my sister, wanted to do a brunch with everyone Saturday morning so we could have some family time before the festivities began, so Joe and I decided to take Grohl on a walk at Chatham Manor (one of my favorite spots in Fredericksburg) beforehand. 

Joe is so funny. He kept saying he wanted to match with me at breakfast because Sean and Colleen always dressed nice, and he wanted to make sure we looked nice too and that I didn't wear my blue jean romper because I wore it all the time. He probably talked about that thing like 10 times, and made me swear not to wear it. He even had Jeri in on it and Jeri gave me like 5 outfits to choose from in case I needed something. For the record, the blue jean romper is super cute and I don't wear it ALL THE TIME. It's just something cute and comfy to throw on when I don't want to think about it. I didn't realize it was that big of a deal. 

Anyways, we matched and it was cute. Even Grohl matched in his little bandanna. So off we went to Chatham Manor.

We got there and let Grohl roam around off leash because he's well behaved and likes his freedom. And before I know it we're standing at the edge of the property that overlooks the city (photos below!) and Joe's telling me how much he loves me as he gets down on one knee, and asks me to marry him. I can't honestly tell you what I said, but I believe it was along the lines of just yelling Joey and slapping him like this was joke. I was beyond surprised. 

After a few minutes of actually registering what was going on, he told me that Minh of Instant de Vie Photography was there capturing the moment, and out popped Minh from behind the wall with her camera! And so we did a little photoshoot along the grounds.

Grohl was very well behaved until about half way through when we made our way to the side with the beautiful gardens and he saw some fish in a pond and jumped right in...So if you closely enough, the second half of the shoot features a very wet pup where as the first half he is very dry. What a nut!

So along with me trying to comprehend exactly what was going on, I was asking Joe who knew other than him, and he said only my sister. That he didn't tell anyone else because he wanted me to be able to do it...including he had not told my dad. I was a little taken aback by that and surprised because we are very close with both of our families and I thought for sure that he would have told everyone! So I tried to formulate a plan so that we could still tell my dad first and get his blessing before breakfast.

I had a plan all worked out. As soon as we got to breakfast, I would take my ring off and we would talk to my dad before telling everyone that we were engaged. 

So we went home to drop Grohl off, and Joe begs me not to take my ring off. So I agree trying not to forget before breakfast. I get out of the car to walk back and let Grohl in the gate to our backyard, and as I walk back there, both of our families are back there waiting for us with a huge breakfast! Surprise #2 that Joe got me with.

Apparently, every body knew except for me, and as soon as we left the house, our families swooped in to set up everything. They even made a congratulations video, and set up a video of me arriving and balling my eyes out. I love surprises, but as a Type A, detail oriented person who doesn't miss much, it's really hard to get one past me. And Joe completely got me. I had no idea and it was so unexpected, but I am still in somewhat of a shock that this all really happened.

After such an amazing morning, I knew all of my friends were coming in for the party that night, so as much as I wanted to post it and shout it out on the rooftops, I decided to wait so that I could enjoy telling everyone in person at the party. So once we had most of the people there at the party, we made the announcement! It was so much fun to celebrate with everyone and getting to spend time with all the people who came out for my birthday. We had so much to celebrate and are so thankful for every person who was able to come celebrate with us.

Not only do I get to marry my best friend, but I had the best birthday ever. 

So a huge, huge THANK YOU. Thank you to to everyone who made my birthday so incredibly special with their well wishes and love for my birthday and the engagement. The out-pour of love, 'Finallys' and 'It's about time's' was amazing. And I read each and every post over the past few weeks. I seriously cannot thank everyone enough. My heart is so full and I am so incredibly blessed by each and every person. 

A big thank you to Jeri who I know had a large part of this and helped Joe with the details and keeping it a surprise from me. Best sister ever; to Sean and Colleen from coming in for my birthday and being there to celebrate with me! It wouldn't have been complete without you; to my parents for being so supportive and excited, even if my mom didn't call me for a week so that she wouldn't spill the beans; to the Plebans for making me a part of the family from the beginning and being excited to make it official.

And last but not least, a big thank you to Joe, of course. For being the love of my life, my best friend and fellow goofball. I was never really sure how I wanted to be proposed to and had imagined it a hundred different ways, but this was by far the best way it could have been done. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who made this birthday the best one ever! 

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