2020 Year in Review

2020. What a year. What a ride. Because (fingers crossed) there will never be another year like this, here’s how our 2020 went down. While there were many lows and many unexpected events on this roller coaster of a year, we were fortunate to have many highs too.

January 3 – My last day at my job. I left work and went straight to get our Bertie girl.

January 6 – Started my new job. Beyond excited to have finally found a new opportunity using and learning new skills, and very hopeful for the future with the company.

January 17 – Bertie’s first trip to the beach

January 25 – Belated friends Christmas celebration. Everyone catches the flu and unbeknownst to us it would be the first and last friend gathering of 2020.

January 31 – Recover from the flu just in time to road trip to Morgantown, WV for the weekend. Bertie’s first night in a hotel. Front row seats to the basketball game.

February 18 – Fly to Destin, FL for training for my new job. My only air travel of 2020.

February 28 – Old Crow Medicine Show concert. Preceded by champagne and oysters and good times with friends. The last supper of 2020.

March 6 – Travel to the beach for the weekend. Blissfully unaware of what is happening in the rest of the world. Bertie’s first time in the sand.

March 10 – Travel by car to Macon, GA for my new job. Due to the rise in cases of Coronavirus my company has now issued a travel advisory for all employees so I’m unable to fly. To be honest, I shouldn’t even be there based on the travel restrictions issued, but my manager seems to think the rules don’t apply. While in Georgia the world seems to take a turn for the worst. COVID-19 is now rapidly spreading and we have no idea what’s coming. My last meal in a restaurant for months is at a Zoe’s Kitchen in Macon. My last trip to the gym in 2020 is also at a hotel gym in Macon.

March 17 – Last day working in the office. The world had changed almost overnight. We are now starting to realize we’re in a global disaster, but with a barrage of information both reliable and not so much, we don’t know what to believe or how bad things truly are.

March 20 – It becomes apparent we’re going to be on lockdown. We stock up on groceries and plan to be in the house for a few weeks.

Sometime in late March – The new job I had been elated to start has turned out to be a disaster. The lady I’m supposed to report to has died. My new manager is awful. After working from home for several weeks I’ve had no communication from anyone at the company about anything. As 2020 is taking a turn for the worst so is this job.

April 1 – I am convinced I am pregnant but refuse to take a pregnancy test on April Fool’s Day.

April 3 – I confirm my suspicion. I am pregnant. I am all. the. emotions.

April 17 – I am furloughed from my new job. In a short month the job has become almost intolerable. I love the work, but the people are miserable and I’m honestly relieved to have a few weeks away to come up with a plan.

Sometime in late April – With no communication from my new job and no clear end in sight for the furlough (and now knowing I’m expecting a baby and the situation with the pandemic is worsening) I ask for my old job back. Friends this is why they tell you not to burn bridges. You never know when a global pandemic will hit and you will be thankful just to have a job.

April 27 – My first big girl house is sold. After being on the market for less than 48 hours in the height of lockdown I received an offer. A few weeks later we go to the closing, and just like that, I’ve sold my first home I bought for myself.

May 4 – The first doctor visit. Beyond relieved to see that our little nugget is thriving. Still feeling all of the emotions.

May 15 – After nearly two months in the house and going absolutely crazy for a change of scenery, we hit the road for West Virginia prepared to tell Sean’s family our big news. On the way we call and FaceTime my family members to let them in on the secret.

Sometime in late May – Things finally start opening back up. What started as a two week “safer at home order” has now surpassed two months. I’m finally able to go back to work part time at my old job. With millions of people out of work I’m thankful to have the chance to go back to work.

May 22 – We decide to brave it and head for the coast for Memorial Day. With the car loaded down with food and essentials we make it with no issues. While we can’t venture out much, it’s wonderful just to be somewhere besides our own house.

June 3 – We go back to the doctor to check on our nugget. Everything looks perfect and we elect to have genetic testing done. We will be able to find out the gender early from this testing.

June 5 – Our trip to the coast the previous weekend went so well, we decide to do it again this weekend. This time we celebrate Sean’s birthday with our friends at their house in South Carolina. We spend the weekend by the beach and the pool and enjoy takeout from some local spots. Because I’m still not working full time and Sean has some extra time off we extend the trip and head to our beach house for a few days. While Covid has upended everything, it’s nice to have the extra time to relax.

June 8 – We’re in the car driving to pick up takeout for dinner and the nurse unexpectedly calls with our test results. She says the genetic testing came back perfect and that she has the gender. I put the phone on speaker, and in the most uneventful way we find out we’re having a boy as we drive down the road. We’re both elated to find out he’s healthy!! We spend the evening eating our takeout and calling family and friends to share the news!

June 26 – Having not seen friends in months we head back to the beach to meet up with my college friends. Over the past weeks it’s become clear that socializing outdoors is much safer, so we spend the day on the beach with them.

July 1 – Back to the doctor to check on the nugget. We have our anatomy scan that confirms he’s a boy and he’s healthy!

July 2 – We head back to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July. What’s normally a rowdy weekend, with the town full of tourists, a huge festival, partying, and fireworks turns into a quiet weekend on the deck with just the two of us.

July 24 – We go back to the coast for the weekend. I’m now halfway through the pregnancy and we’re ready to make our news public.

July 31 – We close on the beach house. While it’s been in my family for years, and we’ve had the good fortune of being able to enjoy it basically whenever we want. It is now ours. And this feels good. To be honest the beach house has been a huge part of our sanity up to this point in 2020 and I can’t imagine not having this safe escape this year.

August 4 – Four days after closing on the house a Category 1 storm comes ashore. We did nothing to prepare since we’ve made it through Category 5’s with no damage. The storm spun off a water spout that came onshore as a tornado and made its way directly up our driveway. We were fortunate to have only a huge limb across the deck, but the town saw more damage than I’ve seen in 20 hurricane seasons.

August 28 – I am 25 weeks pregnant and celebrate my 36th birthday by going out to eat at a restaurant for the first time since March.

September 21 – We celebrate our first wedding anniversary with P.F. Chang’s takeout and Gigi’s cupcakes at home.

October 3 – We celebrate the baby Zoom style with Sean’s family. The perk of the Zoom celebration is that the family from across the world gets to join us.

October 8 – Back to the coast! We stay several nights and decide this is our “babymoon.” It’s not the trip to Hawaii we imagined, or even the back up trip to Arizona or Colorado we thought would be possible when covid first hit, but we’re thankful to still have a healthy nugget and a happy place to get away to. We enjoy our second meal out at a restaurant since March. I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since we were at our favorite beach restaurant, and we’ve essentially missed their entire season this year.

October 24 – We celebrate the baby with our friends at another Zoom shower along with a drive by shower. We had hoped to have a small celebration in our backyard, but with everything opening up cases are rising and it’s just too risky. Luckily we found a way to celebrate somehow!

October 29 – Hurricane Zeta comes ashore at the Gulf Coast and makes its way north. Because it’s 2020 they’ve run out of names for the storms and started using the Greek alphabet. It’s nearly November and we’re without power for almost two days from a hurricane.

November 1 – We celebrated our Bertie girls first birthday!

November 5 – My coworkers surprised me with another shower for baby boy! It was really special since it was the only real “party” we got to have for him!

November 7- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are finally announced as President and Vice President elect. I cry buckets thinking about what this means for little girls everywhere!

November 10 – I have surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma from my forehead. Keep it coming 2020. Skin cancer are you serious!? Wear sunscreen friends.

November 16- At 36 weeks pregnant I am offered a new job. I cannot believe it.

December 6 – Our baby boy, Graham William, is born. He is the spitting image of his daddy and perfect in every way. We are so lucky to have had this bright light to bring us through 2020.

December 22 & 23 – Christmas comes early this year in the form of a COVID vaccine. Sean got his the 22nd, and I got mine on the 23rd. I cried happy tears getting my shot!! We waited all year for this and to be among some of the first to get it is a huge relief! It seems fitting that my first solo outing with Graham was to get my shot!

December 25 – We celebrate our first Christmas with Graham! He gives us a Christmas miracle and sleeps well the night before. We enjoy our day at home, with just the 3 of us and of course Bertie. We’re in the thick of the newborn phase so we have boxed macaroni for Christmas dinner!

December 31 – Graham goes on his first road trip. We ring in 2021 at the coast with steak and lobster takeout from our favorite restaurant and drink champagne we brought home from France. Graham sleeps through dinner and I don’t know of a more perfectly 2020 way to end the year than at our favorite place, reminiscing about past trips and celebrating what’s to come for our new little family of 4.

I am looking forward to 2021. While 2020 was a tough year for everyone I feel so lucky to have had the greatest joy of all to close out the year! Wishing you and yours a better 2021!

Our Wedding Day at Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall

We were married on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We chose this date because it is my Mom’s birthday. We recently celebrated our first anniversary and it was so wonderful to have the chance to have all the good vibes associated with this day now. While we will always be missing her on this special day, it just felt good to think about all of our friends and family gathered in paradise to celebrate us, instead of think about how we don’t have her here to celebrate another year.

Because we had asked everyone to travel to Jamaica which wasn’t cheap, and because I was pretty non traditional about everything anyway, we did not have a wedding party. I didn’t want them to have the added expense of matching dresses and shoes and hair and makeup etc. I also wanted everyone to feel like it was as much of their own vacation as possible, so keeping wedding things to a minimum helped give them more time to enjoy the trip themselves, in my opinion. I had asked a few of my friends who I knew would be coming to be my Brides-Baes, and it worked out perfectly. They were there for all the “bridesmaids duties” but there wasn’t the same stress.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, my girls joined me in the suite, and we ordered room service breakfast for everyone. We had planned to hangout in the room all day, but thought better of it after seeing what a beautiful day it was. We wanted to go out sailing on the resort catamarans, but the catch was that Sean’s family was out on the beach doing a tumeric ceremony for him. Sean and I had decided we didn’t want to see each other the day of the wedding, so the girls devised a plan and we headed out onto the beach. After nearly being caught we made it to the ocean where we waited for our turn on the boats. I am so glad that we had the chance to do something fun, instead of just stay in the room all day.

While we were out on the beach we discovered that my dad was quite sick. No one had wanted to tell me I guess, but some of our friends came up and asked if he was feeling better. I had no idea what they were talking about and they realized they had let me in on the news. I could see them start to panic as they said “oh I’m sure everything is fine” and they hurried away. I knew I couldn’t deal with it so I quickly texted Sean and told him to (Sorry!).

After coming back from the beach I showered while the girls ordered room service and champagne. A few of the other ladies stopped by the room while we were eating and getting ready. My hair and makeup appointment was set for 2:00. While I went to get done up, the other girls went back to their rooms to get ready. My aunt came with me to the appointment to make sure someone approved. One of the best things I did was to bring my own make up. I am seriously no expert, but I have watched my fair share of YouTube tutorials. Your wedding day is not the time to find out that they don’t have a foundation to match you or you are allergic to their mascara of choice. Overall I felt like she did a really good job with my make up, my hair was fine, but I should have given her a little more guidance on what I wanted. Bring lots of pictures and don’t be afraid to speak up. Looking back I had done my hair and makeup myself for the events leading up to the wedding, and I think I did fine, but I could have had it done, so that I would have had a chance for a trial for the wedding day.

Our wedding photographer showed up to just in time to capture some shots of me having my hair and make up done. We decided against the resort photographer and hired a local wedding photographer in Montego Bay. She brought an assistant who was with Sean while he was getting ready. If I am being honest, I loved her personally, but I am very “meh” about the photos. She was so much fun to work with and had a wonderful personality. She was prompt, she gave great directions leading up to the event which was important since I never met her until she was there to shoot, she worked well with the large group and had no issues giving the group instructions. But overall I don’t really love how the photos turned out. We were married at sunset and the sunset was absolutely magical that day. Many of the photos don’t show this at all and many have either been edited or modified to the point of it looking nothing like what it actually looked like. Several months after the wedding I got the courage to ask her for the unedited images, and she claims that she did not really edit them, rather its the lighting that she used that changed the color of the sky and scenery. I don’t know enough about photography to know if this is true or not, but I do know I’m not a huge fan of the photos. (Just an FYI I am not linking to her or mentioning her here because I have seen MANY positive reviews about her, and frankly I really liked her as a person. She has a portfolio and Instagram full of gorgeous photos so maybe she was just having a bad day. Also because I have re-edited basically every photo that you see here that she took….)

During hair and makeup my aunt had been talking to my dad and my uncle. We had asked my uncle to be ready to walk me down the aisle in the event my dad couldn’t get it together. My dad said he thought he was going to be able to make it but still wasn’t too sure. Trust me something will go awry on your wedding day, no matter how much you plan, and no matter chill you try to be about the whole thing.

After my hair and makeup we went back to the suite to get me in my dress. All of the girls were there ready and waiting with champagne. I hopped in my dress and we had some pictures taken before heading to the ceremony.

A side note on my wedding dress – I really had kind of dreaded going shopping for my dress. I guess because my mom couldn’t be there and because it just wasn’t something I wanted to get super into. When I tried on the dress, I liked it a lot but the voice in my head was saying “it’s SO FLUFFY.” I said to my aunt and my cousins I really like it but it’s just so fluffy. Well I bought it anyway, and to be honest I really liked it each time I went to try it on. The day of the wedding when I put it on I still really liked it. When I look at the pictures now I wonder why the hell I am wearing that fluffy dress. It’s pretty, but very not “me.” I don’t think they did the best job altering it and as I got hotter in the Jamaican heat it stretched out so the top part of it doesn’t fit correctly, and I feel like I am just swallowed in fluff. I had worked out so much and was in probably the best shape of my life and the dress really doesn’t do anything to show that off. Listen to the voice in your head friends.

The ceremony was on the rooftop Sky Lounge of the the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. I waited with the wedding coordinator to go up the elevator until everyone was in place and Sean was heading down the aisle with his mom. I didn’t see my dad until I got to the top of the elevator, he didn’t look great but I was very glad he was able to get it together to be there. I walked down the aisle with my dad to Van Morrison “Into The Mystic.”

The view from the ceremony was stunning. I loved that we chose the rooftop location. I also loved the wedding officiant. He had the perfect Jamaican accent that just added the perfect touch to the vibe. I had written our entire ceremony, and sent it to the wedding coordinator a couple weeks before the big day. I loved that I was able to do this, as we aren’t particularly religious and much of the traditional wedding ceremony wording just didn’t fit us. We also were able to add in a Hindu tradition of exchanging the Mangalsutra necklace. The ceremony was less that fifteen minutes and was exactly what I wanted. We walked back down the aisle to Bob Marley “Is This Love.”

<When I say I have no idea what the photographer did to edit the photos this is what I mean. This is the same picture. She took the one with blue sky, and someone else took the one with the actual sunset with an iPhone. The iPhone shot is honestly what the sky looked like. It’s not that she took bad photos as much as I don’t understand how she changed the actual time of day or why!?>

After the ceremony we asked all of the guests to stay on the rooftop for a quick photo op. Since we had no wedding party, and because we wanted everyone to be part of the day we took group photos of everyone, and then from all the different groups who had come. It was one of my favorite things we did, but again the photos aren’t what I had hoped for.

Again, this is an iPhone shot from a friend and you can see it looks not much like the images she sent…

Following the ceremony we went with the photographer to get our photos, and the guests went to a cocktail hour on the lawn. We had a steel drum band and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. We made it to the cocktail hour just in time to hear the last of the steel drum band.

The wedding coordinator helped get everyone moved to the location for the dinner and reception while we stayed behind. Once they were all seated for dinner, we made our way in. Much to the dismay of the wedding coordinator I elected not to have a seating chart. From what I could tell it worked out perfectly fine. We entered to Maren Morris’ “To Hell and Back” and did a quick first dance. As a side note, her album “Girl” came out while I was away in Prague, and I listened to it for the first time while I was on the plane heading back to the US. When I heard the song for the first time I sat on the plane and cried because I couldn’t believe how much it told our story too.

After our dance we were seated at the head table and the guests were allowed to serve themselves dinner. We had a buffet of all traditional Jamaican food that I am told was delicious. We were served a plate of food by the staff, but I honestly don’t remember it and neither does Sean. I hadn’t planned to dance with my dad, Sean hadn’t planned to dance with his mom, and we had kind of said there would be no toast unless my dad decided spur of the moment that he wanted to. (I told you I don’t like traditional.) Once we were served our food we looked around to see if my dad might be making a toast. He was nowhere to be found, and we realized he had gone back to his room as soon as the ceremony was over. It was a big bummer he couldn’t be at the celebration, but I am thankful he made it to the ceremony. So there were no toasts at our wedding and I was 100% fine with it.

As soon people finished up eating the DJ had them on the dance floor and he kept the party going all night. We had an absolute blast on the dance floor, and so did all of our guests. It was nice to have been able to send him some of the songs that were must play’s in advance and also the songs that were on the under no circumstances will you play this. He did a good job mixing in songs that we requested with songs that he knew would get everyone going. He was even prepared with Jay-Z “Punjabi” when the family requested Indian music. I don’t think it was what they had in mind, but they seemed to like it none the less.

I had also elected not to cut the cake, again with the traditions. I looked around at some point in the night and people were eating cake. The staff had cut it and served it, and it worked out perfectly. Do not feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to, because the tradition says you should or somebody’s grandma said that’s how it has to be. It’s your day and you focus on what will make you enjoy your day.

As the night wrapped up I told the photographer that I was going in the pool in my dress before she left. She came and got me a few minutes before it was time and we went to the pool to set up. It ended up being a bit drawn out because the people from the resort tried to talk us out of it, but we went in all our wedding finest to end the night. We got out of the pool and the DJ was playing John Denver “Country Roads.” Everyone circled around us and sang while we danced soaking wet, a little tipsy, and oh so happy! It could not have been more perfect.

As soon as the party was over we went back to our room to change. My dress was a sandy soaking wet mess. We got into our swimsuits and went to a friends room where everyone had gathered. They had a room with a private swim up pool. We kept the party going as long as we could, but the resort staff really wasn’t too happy with us. The party kept growing and the night kept getting later, and they finally asked us to take it somewhere else. We went to the sports bar on the resort for a just a few minutes before realizing it was time to call it a night.

It was the absolute perfect day in paradise and I am so thankful that we always get to look back on everything from that day as “our day!”

For more on our wedding check here, here, & here.

Prewedding Festivities Part 2

On Friday before the wedding we spent the day hanging with friends and family by the beach and the pool. We had a quick run through of the ceremony before meeting all of our guests at a cocktail hour on the terrace. Again, Sean’s uncle took lots of pictures that I am very thankful for. After the cocktail hour everyone went their separate ways for dinner. We went with a group of our friends to the French restaurant. After dinner we met up in the lobby for all of the girls to have henna done. I spent my last night before the wedding having a slumber party with Kristin and Annie. It was only fitting that after 30+ years of sleepovers with Kristin we have one the night before my wedding.

For more from our wedding see here and here.

Prewedding Festivities

These are a few of my favorite picture from the wedding festivities on Thursday night before the wedding. Sean’s uncle took a lot of the photos, and we were really grateful that he was able to capture a lot of the weekend events. Unfortunately due to the way the images were shared with us the quality of the images is not the best. However, in the years to come I will be thankful to look back on the great time everyone had with these pictures. We held a welcome dinner on the terrace of the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall on Thursday September 19. Dinner was a buffet of traditional Jamaican food. Following dinner a group from the wedding gathered in the piano bar for some fun. I love the picture from the piano bar, because there was a cute couple who offered to take the group photo. We followed this up with the silent disco by the pool.

For more on our destination wedding at Hyatt Zilara Montego Bay see this post.

Our Destination Wedding at Hyatt Ziva-Zilara Rose Hall – A Complete Review

Since we just celebrated our one year anniversary, I thought it was finally time to get busy posting all the deets from our wedding last year. We were married on September 21st at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Overall I have to say it was an absolutely wonderful experience. We had 71 guests in attendance and from what we have heard since then everyone loved the resort.

A few notes on wedding planning, if you read this post, you know that wedding planning was not my jam. I honestly did not care about most of the details and was frankly kind of annoyed by all of it. I was knee deep in MBA school, working full time, and mostly just wanted to have a good time with my people in paradise. We selected the resort and began the planning process in the fall of the previous year.

Once we had finalized the decision on the location, we started to spread the word to friends and family by word of mouth. We sent out save the dates in early January. By the time everything was settled it was nearly Christmas, so we decided to hold off until the holiday rush was over. This allowed nine months for people to plan their trips. Keep in mind that the more notice that you give your guests the more likely they will be able to come. A last minute trip to Jamaica isn’t in many peoples budget or their work schedule.

As soon as we had locked in the dates at the resort and the rooms I began emailing with a wedding coordinator from the resort. We were initially assigned one coordinator, but through her correspondence she just seemed like a hot mess. For example, I had told her that we were going with a mostly white theme, and she sent back an email on purple and burgundy EVERYTHING. So I asked the resort for a new coordinator and they were happy to do so. I gave her an idea of what I wanted and also sent her some pictures I found on Pinterest and she worked really well from that. For the most part she was terrific!!

The only negative I encountered with her throughout the entire process was that she was constantly trying to upsell me on something. I had been pretty clear about our budget and also clear on what I was and wasn’t willing to pay extra for. But every. single. time. I talked to her she was wanting me to buy something else. The resort nickel and dimed us to death and it was frankly really annoying. My only true bridezilla moment was when I lost it on her one day telling her I was not buying another f***** thing because enough was enough. My guess is she works on some type of commission basis so I understand, but it still really got to me.

The way that the wedding works is that you book a package that includes a certain number of guests, hair and makeup for the bride, flowers for the bride and groom, the officiant, a small cake and a few other things that I don’t remember because they honestly weren’t important. Each additional guest over the number in the package is an additional cost per person. That I totally understand due to food, drinks, setup, and servers. There is no decor included, no DJ included, no photography included, just the basics. They are very clear about that up front. But y’all everything is so ridiculously overpriced after the initial package fee. They assume you will not lug suitcases worth of wedding decor to a foreign country so you will pay what they ask.

I HATE negotiating prices with people, some people think it’s fun, I do not. When I told her that I simply would not pay what they were asking for the flowers they were suddenly 40% cheaper. They use an outside vendor which she was apparently able to negotiate with. Because I do not enjoy haggling I’m not sure what else could have been a negotiable price. Much of the decor the resort provides seemed to be non-negotiable prices. $500 dollars per strand to hang lights over the deck…the resort already owned the lights and there are hooks mounted already (the same strand of lights is $45 dollars on Amazon), $1000 dollars to lay a wooden dance floor out in the sand… I know all resorts can be this way, but this seemed really extreme. If I said I would pay for four strings of lights, she wanted me to know six would look better, I agreed to pay for the dance floor and she wanted me to consider the $3000 dollar light up option, I paid for a steel drum band and a DJ, she wanted me to hire an emcee as well. We decided to use a local photographer rather than the one from the resort; it was $1250 dollars for her to step foot onto the resort property (not including what we paid her, plus I still had to pay for her meal although the resort had done NOTHING to actually earn the money). The speakers were included for the wedding ceremony, but if you wanted to play music you had to bring your own auxiliary cable, why not offer the $10 cable too as this is something someone could easily forget (we did and wound up scrambling to find one and what do you know the resort was able to offer us one to use). All of our welcome bags were delivered directly to guests rooms, a nice touch but there’s a charge for that and the resort was “unable” to hand them out at the check in desk like you often see at hotels for weddings.

The upselling and nickel and diming was honestly the absolute worst part. Truly this was the only actual negative that we experienced through the entire process. This is the only wedding I have ever planned, but I hear that it is quite common so this may speak more to planning a wedding than to the actual resort. That aside, I did enjoy working with her, she was really good at her job, and kept everything well organized the day of the wedding.

We arrived on Wednesday, and the wedding was held on Saturday at sunset. It was such a whirlwind that I feel like we didn’t get to experience as much of the resort as we would have liked, but that its very typical with a wedding I guess.

Upon arrival to the airport in Montego Bay, we were actually able to check in to the resort at the airport after clearing through customs. This was a really great option as we didn’t have to do anything except pick up room keys when we got to the resort. (We were able to make a donation to a charity to receive a bracelet that worked as our room key, I would highly suggest this option if you are offered). We found out at check in that our room had been upgraded to a butler suite, which we were beyond pumped about. We took a bus that the travel agent had arranged from the airport to the resort, we waited about twenty minutes for the bus to partially fill up, and then it was about 15-20 minutes before we were dropped off. Also, as a result of the airport check in, our wedding coordinator was waiting to greet us at the front entrance when we arrived which was a nice touch.

After getting to our room we were blown away. We had a gorgeous view of the ocean and the resort. We were greeted by our private butler who provided us a cell phone to use to contact the butler service 24 hours a day. Our room was HUGE and it was so amazing to have the extra space to spread out since we had brought all. the. things. The service that we received from the butlers during our stay was amazing. They were willing to help with anything, and it was so convenient during the weekend events. They also got to know our taste and our routine QUICKLY and kept showing up at the perfect time with wine. What’s not to like about that?

Wednesday night we were supposed to have a private couples dinner on the beach that the wedding coordinator had arranged as part of our wedding package. After arriving and realizing that family and friends were ready to get the celebration started we canceled the private dinner. I’m glad we did as this ended up being our only free night at the resort outside of wedding events.

Thursday morning we had a couples massage in the resort spa that was also part of the wedding package. The spa was really nice, and it was nice to have the time to relax before the weekend got crazy. It was a great massage, but again with the upselling. It was so strange once the massage was over the masseuse walked me backed to the changing room and then she reappeared with a bunch of crap she wanted to sell me. The same thing happened to Sean in the men’s locker room. If anyone from Hyatt is reading this (I’m aware they probably are not)…it’s not a good look for you to have your employees pedaling trinkets in a high end resort atmosphere you worked hard to achieve.

Thursday night we had welcome dinner for all of our guests on the terrace. The dinner was supposed to be in one of the outdoor venues but was moved to the terrace at the last minute due to the threat of rain. The resort was pretty good at making last minute adjustments for weather throughout the weekend. They have a policy that you need to make the call several hours ahead of time so that it allows them time to set up, which is completely understandable. For all of the outdoor events they plan, they keep an indoor location as a backup so you’re not totally screwed which I really appreciated. If you’re someone who would like an outdoor event, but doesn’t want the stress of dealing with the weather I would highly recommend the terrace. It is completely covered but still outdoors and still has beautiful views of the ocean. Following the dinner a big group of us made our way to the silent disco by the pool. It was so funny and so much fun! The resort had plenty of events like this planned, and I wish we had been able to take more advantage of them.

Both Thursday and Friday we spent the day hanging out by the pool and the beach with friends and family. To me this one honestly one of the best parts of having a destination wedding. We actually got to see people and spend time with them. Although at times it seemed like we were constantly being pulled in one direction or another to be with friends, family, the wedding coordinator etc. it was really great to have the time during the day just to spend time with everyone who had traveled to be there with us. As a random side note, the adult pool had events and loud music ALL DAY. Some of it was fun, some of it was over the top. The kids pool was actually much quieter if you’re looking to avoid the bubble party and the random dance offs, stick with the beach or the kids pool. (Same goes for the rooms, we faced out to the family pool and never heard anything.) We ate lunch at the Jerk Hut on the beach both days because it was just that good! As we sat by the beach drinking and eating, different groups of friends and family passed by giving us even more opportunity to catch up with loved ones. If you’re considering a destination wedding THIS would be the reason I say go for it. You’re in paradise, no one has to worry about the cooking or cleaning, and there is always someone there with a refill for your drink, leaving everyone in a much more relaxed state of mind to just enjoy the company of your favorite people.

Friday evening we did a quick run through of the ceremony with the coordinator. Our ceremony was held on the rooftop sky lounge. We chose this location because of its privacy. Most of the outdoor venues available at the resort will still have people passing by, or the be visible from the balconies of the guest rooms. The sky lounge is on the roof of the Ziva side of the resort and was only open to our wedding guest. The view was beautiful and the glass railing allows for an unobstructed view of the ocean. We opted not to have a wedding party so the rehearsal was super quick.

After the rehearsal we met up with all of our guests for a cocktail hour on the terrace. We opted for a cocktail hour only, instead of a dinner because there are so many restaurants at the resort we wanted everyone to have the chance to get out and try the places they wanted, rather than eating what we had chosen for them for diner. I think it worked out well. It gave us a chance to get everyone together and visit but still left our guests with a little free time to enjoy the resort to themselves. I mentioned earlier that we had 71 guests, with this many people it simply was not possible to get everyone together in any of the resort restaurants so it required a private event to gather the group. With a smaller group I think you could certainly choose a restaurant and have everyone meet for dinner. After the cocktail hour, the different family and friend groups went their separate ways each choosing a restaurant. We were able to go with a group of our friends to the French restaurant, which we enjoyed.

We closed out Friday evening with a henna celebration in the hotel lobby. All of the ladies in attendance were invited to have henna done on their hands. A few of the guys even joined in too.

I’m planning to do a separate post with the pictures from all of Thursday and Friday’s events as well as a full post on our wedding day, so stay tuned.

A Week in Prague as an MBA Student

Shopping in Prague
Prague Old Town Square Astronomical Clock
Prague Street Market
Street Market in Prague
Prague Old Town Square Sunset
Sunset in Old Town Square PRague
Sunset in Old Town Square Prague
Old Town Square Sunset
Prague Sunset over old town square
Traditional Czech Food
Kozel Brewery Tour
Kozel Beer Brewery Tour
Prague Castle City Views
Bride at Prague Castle
Prague Castle
Chimney Cake Trdelnik
Sunset over Vltava River
Prague Castle at Sunset
Terezin Concentration Camp Memorial
Statue at Terezin
Jewish Quarter Pinkas Synagogue
Prague Jewish Quarter
Prague Jewish Quarter Cemetery
Jewish Quarter Prague Jewish Museum
Prague City Streets
View from Teresa U Prince Prague
Rooftop Cocktail at Teresa U Prince
Prague City Streets
Charles Bridge Prague
Locks at Vltava River Charles Bridge
Prague River View of the Castle
Charles Bridge Musicians
Lennon Wall Prague
John Lennon Wall Prague #lovespreadthatshit

I had the chance to spend a week in Prague as part of my MBA program. To be honest, I didn’t do much research on the area before going so I had limited expectations. I’m usually not fond of travelling with a group, but this allowed me to finish up my program early and visit a new place. Win.

Because I was traveling as part of a school sponsored trip we had the opportunity to do some things that as a normal tourist I wouldn’t necessarily have been able to do, but that also meant missing out on certain things. Each day we visited one or two businesses and had the opportunity to meet with the company leaders. One of the most interesting visits was to Manufaktura. This could be equated to a US version of Bath and Body Works or Body Shop, but on a smaller scale. It was great to see the products being made and all the research going in to new products. I ended up really liking the skin care products I bought. The other business visit I really enjoyed was the headquarters for McDonald’s in the Czech Republic. We met with the Vice President of Marketing who was very engaging and knowledgeable.

Our trip was so planned out that we didn’t have the opportunity to try out many local spots. The few times we did try the local cuisine I can honestly say I was not a fan. It was very heavy with lots of meats and thick sauces. I normally try to take in as much local food and culture as I can when I go somewhere new, but again traveling with a large group in my opinion makes that harder. We ate lots of Italian food, and found it to be quite good most of the places we stopped in. I have since learned that there is quite a large Vietnamese population in Prague. I wish I had done just a bit more research before the trip and maybe found a few Vietnamese restaurants to try. As a side note, dining out in Prague was quite interesting for us, as we were often in larger groups. Typically the wait staff will not split the bill unless you ask, end even then they still may not. I also found that the waiters want to leave you to enjoy your meal, this means they will not check back often. When you are ready to leave you will have to let them know in no uncertain terms you would like to pay and leave, otherwise they will not bring the check. It’s not bad service, just that the cultural expectation is much different.

The city itself overall seemed VERY touristy and was quite crowded. While it is absolutely beautiful there I don’t know that if I had the chance to go back I would stay for a full week. There honestly just didn’t seem like there was that much to see. Walking around the historic areas of the city was really enjoyable (side note it is v easy to get lost as they do not believe in city blocks) and for the most part allowed you to see all the highlights. I did use the metro a few times while I was there and found that it was really easy to use. Overall the city was clean and felt very safe as well. The party scene in Prague is HUGE. That phase of my life is over…. if it wasn’t I would probably have more to report on the late night scene, which I hear is tons of fun!

Here’s a few of the places I visited that I would recommend checking out if you’re ever in Prague:

  • Old Town Square – The hotel we stayed in was a short walk from the city center at Old Town Square. The famous astronomical clock can be found here. The square will fill up at the top of every hour as people gather round to see the clock. We witnessed some beautiful sunsets here as well. From here you can find your way into high end shopping, touristy shopping, and plenty of restaurants. We were cautioned by the locals to avoid restaurants in this area due to price gauging, but honestly didn’t find this to be the case.
  • Terezin – A concentration camp that is about a 45 minute drive outside the city. Known for being a “propaganda” camp of the Nazis, it was used to convince the Red Cross and others who were concerned for the safety of the Jews that the camps were actually providing a positive experience. It was truly horrifying to see it in real life, but at the same time having a better understanding of this history is so vital.
  • Jewish Quarter – This is a neighborhood in Prague where Jewish families were forced to settle. The Jewish Museum and several historic synagogues are located in the neighborhood. The walls of Pinkas Synagogue contain the hand written names of 80,000 Czech & Moravian Jews who did not survive the holocaust. There is a rich Jewish history here that is worth exploring.
  • Kozel Brewery Tour – Any trip to the Czech Republic is likely going to include lots of beer! The Czech people drink more beer per capita than anywhere in the world and are also known for their beer producers. You will find that the beer is very cheap, cheaper than water! Kozel is a well known Czech beer and they offer tours of the historic building where they have been in production for over a century. We ate at the onsite restaurant here as well and enjoyed the food.
  • Teresa U Prince – A rooftop restaurant and bar located directly across from the astronomical clock. The view of the city is stunning and the food and drinks were quite good as well. It is located on top of the Hotel U Prince but there are no obvious signs that it is there, ask the bellman when you enter the hotel lobby to show you to the correct elevator. I loved eating lunch and having cocktails solo on the rooftop!
  • John Lennon Wall – The Lennon Wall sits just over the Charles Bridge from the main part of town. It is about a city block area of street art that is constantly changing. Worth checking out even if you aren’t a Beatles fan as there really isn’t much to do with The Beatles.
  • Marina Ristorante – A restaurant that is on a (large) docked boat in the Vltava River near the city center. Eat here for the atmosphere and the views, although the food wasn’t bad. The view of the castle and the rest of the city was beautiful. We stumbled upon the restaurant and had no issues eating here with a large group without reservations.
  • Parlour Bar – Seriously cool cocktail bar near Wenceslas Square. It is off the main road and has no sign, and is definitely not a place you will find many other tourist. The vibe is cool and the made to order cocktails were delicious.
  • Letna Beer Garden – Full disclosure we walked all the way here and up a massive hill in the dark to get here and it was closed (the hours listed online were not correct). This seems to be a summer time/warm weather/daylight place. Regardless the view of the city is beautiful. There is a restaurant and tons of outdoor seating. I would hike back up the massive hill to actually enjoy this any summer day again.
  • Prague Castle – It is hard to imagine that the castle was built over 1000 years ago. We did a self guided tour and basically saw the highlights one evening before it closed. It is stunning and the history is unbelievable. I would do a guided tour if I had the opportunity to go back, as the castle is huge and just filled with so much history that I’m sure a guide would do a better job explaining.
  • Charles Bridge – Beautiful historic (pedestrian only) bridge over the Vltava River that was built in the 1300’s. From Old Town Square you can cross over the bridge on the way to the Castle if you’re walking. The bridge has many historic statues as well as views of the city. Warning…it gets VERY crowded and while Prague was generally safe places like this are known for pickpockets.
  • Chimney Cake – Also known as a Trdelnik. This is a hollow tube of dough that is covered in sugar. You have the option to fill it with ice cream and different toppings. Based on what we were told by the locals, it is not really a “tradtional” Czech food but instead something that was created for the tourist. Regardless you can’t go wrong with a sugary dough filled with ice cream and chocolate syrup. You will see tourist lined up all over town at spots selling theses.

Hi from Quarantine…

wearing a mask and face shield in 2020

It’s been awhile since I checked in around this corner of the internet. WOW! Has 2020 been a weird year or what?!?!

Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my neck of the woods this year.

We got a puppy on January 3rd. She has been the absolute best thing of 2020 so far.

cavalier king charles spaniel puppy

cavalier king charles spaniel puppy

cavalier king charles spaniel puppy

cavalier king charles spaniel puppy

cavalier king charles spaniel puppy

cavalier king charles spaniel puppy

I started a new job on January 6th. I did all the training and traveling and all. the. things. for the job from January until March. The job had not been at all what was promised and honestly turned out to be sort of a dumpster fire. On March 18th I came home to work from home and have basically been in social distancing mode ever since. A couple weeks after working from home I was placed on temporary furlough, and with the job really not shaping up to be what I had hoped, I asked for my old job back. I was beyond lucky to have left on a good note and I was offered my job back. I do not take for granted how many people are absolutely not in this same situation now.

For about the last five weeks I have been working one to two days a week at my old/current job. As things *hopefully* get better I will be able to work in person in the office more and more. Right now things are still a complete mess where I live and only getting worse.  As a side note, if you are someone who is opposed to wearing a mask in public I would like to know why you never protested having to wear shoes into Walmart?

I have painted almost my entire house. Planted a garden. (It’s mostly dead now but who’s counting?) Gone for MANY walks. And eaten all the junk foods! But y’all I am OVER. IT. Don’t get me wrong I’m still mostly staying home and following all the rules, but I sure wish I didn’t have to anymore.

full moon over the ocean

full moon

cocktails and a full moon

fourth of july fireworks with a full moon

egret in the marsh

In mid May we started to feel comfortable traveling by car to our beach house again so we are VERY lucky to have had the option of changing scenery. It’s obvious that we aren’t alone in needing a new view as I have honestly never seen so many people at the beach. We are able to find a place to keep to ourselves when we go out on the beach and have avoided going inside bars and restaurants so we feel like we are being responsible.

I feel beyond lucky that 2019 was our epic year. We did so much travelling last year and even had a destination wedding go off without a hitch in the middle of hurricane season in Jamaica. I can’t imagine what we would be going through if 2020 had been the year for all of that. I feel for anyone who has had to cancel big trips they planned for months. Planning a wedding was a true nightmare in best case scenario so I feel for you if 2020 was your year!

I had hoped to use all my new found free time catching up on last years trips and photos here on the blog, but we’re officially four months into quarantine and I’m just getting started. Honestly, it just felt so depressing looking back at photos of us travelling and having the time of our life when going to the grocery store now feels like the closest I’ll get to a vacation this year.

#WanderlustWednesday

The Perfect Parisian Sunset

Paris, France

#sacrecouer #montmarte #sunsetviews

  • Want to work for the royals and get paid to travel? The Queen is hiring a Director of Royal Travel.
  • Did you make it to any of the top 20 most visited cities in 2019?
  • A recent flight spent 11 hours in the air, with the passengers ultimately going nowhere due to a volcano and horses.
  • It’s not too late to take advantage of Southwest’s Cyber Monday deals!
  • The effect social media is having on travel. People are only visiting “gram-worthy” spots.

Hiking to the Top of Diamond Head

diamond head state monument
hiking to the top of diamond head
hiking to the top of diamond head oahu hawaii
view from the lookout diamond head trail
diamond head hike lookout view
diamond head lookout view
diamond head hike tunnel
tunnel to the top of diamond head
stairs to the top of diamond head
view from the pillbox at the top of diamond head
pillbox on top of diamond head
top of diamond head
Honolulu skyline view from the top of diamond head
top of diamond head
gorgeous view from the top of the diamond head trail
Oahu Hawaii Diamond Head Hike
Hawaii Pineapple Stand
Dole Whip
Hawaii Dole Whip Treat

One of our favorite things we did on our trip to Oahu was to climb to the top of Diamond Head. There are plenty of beautiful hikes on the island, many that are lesser known and probably less crowded, but we decided to take the path more traveled…

Although I have been to Oahu before this was my first time doing this hike. Parking was an issue the day we went. We waited for quite awhile in traffic to head up the hill to the small parking lot and found that it was full. We drove back down the hill and parked at a nearby school. I had the brilliant idea to take an Uber back up the steep hill, instead of starting our hike a very steep mile sooner than we planned. This worked out great, and on the way back we were able to walk back to the car down the hill with no issues.

The hike is not terribly difficult, but towards the end there were quite a few stairs, and we ended up in a narrow tunnel which I was not prepared for and totally did not like.  We also took a turn that led us to a small pillbox that we had to crawl out of to see the view. After the hike we were told that we could have taken a turn to miss both the tunnel and the pillbox, so if like me, you’re not a fan of small spaces maybe do some research on that.

On the way down we saw Yasiel Puig full out running up the trail with his training team as we were coming down. If you’re all who is that? Same. But Sean was impressed.

Overall we really enjoyed the hike and the views from the top were definitely worth the stairs and the tight spaces. We finished off the hike with a Dole whip that was well earned.

#WanderlustWednesday

Napa Valley Oakville Grocery

Oakville, California

#CaliforniaDreamin #WineCountry #NapaValley

  • NASA is wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween with their latest image of the sun!
  • A few tips from the New York Times on what to pack to make your travel photos standout on Instagram. (also making it clear that Instagram has taken over the world, since this is now newsworthy)
  • Do you use a travel agent to book your travel? Having just used one for the first time I would agree with the pros and cons in this article.
  • Discount travel sites often use the “only one room left” tactic, but is it true?
  • Vacasa becomes the newest travel site to enter the home rental market, attempting to set itself apart from other options as a full service management  company.