Graham is Two Months Old!

Graham,

It’s hard to believe you have been ours for two whole months! The day you were born our world was forever changed. Before you were here we read all the books and bought all the things. We knew we had no idea what parenting would be like until you were here, but we sure did try to prepare the best we could. Despite our best efforts we still felt very unprepared when we loaded you up in the car and headed home from the hospital.

I guess that’s the thing I see now, you can’t really ever prepare for your life to take on a whole new meaning. You don’t even know what you’re preparing for. Of course there were many late night Amazon orders for things we forgot, but I think perhaps what we were most unprepared for was just how you would change our lives in all the best ways! We love you so big little one.

The last two months have held some of the most challenging days. Becoming parents is hard, becoming parents in the midst of a global pandemic is very hard. We’ve had lots of people cheering for us from afar, but not too many here helping us with the messy parts of new parenthood. Trust me they would be here, if it wasn’t for this pandemic. So mostly it’s just been us, and in many ways I think of it as a blessing. To have had nowhere to go, no one to host, no unsolicited advice, nothing to distract us from you. Just us becoming a family.

We have all come a long way in a short time. You’re becoming your own person right before our eyes, and your dad and I are learning as we go in our new role as mom and dad. You’re starting to smile and interact with us more everyday, and it just melts us both into a big puddle.

You have brought immeasurable joy to our home. You were the brightest light for us, in what was a very dark year for so many. I hope you will continue to shine that light into our lives forever my love. We love you more than all the stars in the sky.

Here are a few highlights from your first two months:

Three days old – meeting your Aunt Jody

Three days old – meeting Bertie girl

Four days old – meeting Dadima and Grandpa

Four days old – first trip to the pediatrician

Six days old – first stroller ride

Six days old – Mom and Dad’s first solo outing (Chic-Fil-A obviously)

Ten days old – your first sink bath

Two weeks old – Daddy went back to work

First solo day with Mommy

You started sleeping in your crib in your room

Your first Christmas

Two weeks old – what meeting friends in the time of Covid looked like

Three weeks old – first road trip to the beach – during our trip to the beach is also when you figured out the difference between day and night! Thank Goodness!

Three weeks old – first time on the beach

First New Year’s Eve at the coast

One month old – you started smiling

Five weeks old – fresh out of your first big boy bath

Six weeks old – Aunt Jody came again to help Mommy get her second Covid vaccine

At six weeks your smiles were more intentional and just the best thing ever for us to see. Between six and seven weeks we finally fell into a bit of a routing which was a huge success for all of us!! As our schedule became more predictable we start to venture out with you a little more also.

Six weeks old – first brewery

You got new reflux meds and started only waking up once during the night at seven weeks old!

Eight weeks old – first trip to the vineyard

Eight weeks old – Carolina beat Dook for your first Tobacco Road rivalry game!

Bertie has been everywhere you are for the last two months!

Graham’s Nursery

I just love how Graham’s nursey turned out. One of the best things about not working as much during 2020, was that I had the time to enjoy preparing for our little one. I thought a lot about how I wanted his room to come together and was able to create a space that I think is just perfect for him!

One of the best things about his nursery is all of the things from our childhood. My mom saved EVERYTHING. I remember not that long ago, thinking, what on earth am I ever going to do with all this stuff! Now that she isn’t here all the things are extra special. Most of the books on his bookshelf are from both mine and Sean’s childhood. Lamont the Lonely Monster is Sean’s childhood favorite. The wooden rocking chair belonged to me as a kid. The needle point is something that I found when I was going through all of the stuff that had been saved. My mom did it in 1985, so when I was about a year old. I took it and had it framed so there would be a little bit of her in his nursery. The print above his bookshelf is one we picked out from Brian Andreas. I had a special print from him in my room as a kid that my mom bought on a girls trip to Asheville, NC and I just love the sayings on all of his artwork.

The stained glass lamp on his bookshelf is one that my mom made. It’s been at our beach house for years, but I decided it was the perfect little night light for his room and brought it home. The green in the lamp was starting point for the whole room. I had a bluish green vision, with a little bit of an ocean theme. I think it came together perfectly!

Amber did a great job capturing the room when she did our newborn photoshoot!

Graham’s Newborn Photos

I could not love the newborn photos that we had done more! Graham was nine days old. We were oh so tired, but falling more in love with him by the second. Of course Bertie girl stole the show per usual. He has already grown and changed so much since these were taken and I love having them to look back on! We booked them several months before he was born with Amber, and as the day approached we thought about canceling or trying to take them outside due to Covid. We totally trusted her but just felt like having her in our home when we weren’t allowing any other visitors might ruffle some feathers. It was miserably cold, so the outdoors just wasn’t an option. We ultimately decided that since we trusted her and couldn’t get the time back to have them done to go ahead with it. She was super safe and we are so thrilled to have these!!

My Pregnancy Journey

11 weeks

13 weeks

15 weeks

16 weeks

17 weeks! Fourth of July and needing maternity shorts!

20 weeks! Halfway and read ready to announce our quarantine baby!

21 weeks

23 weeks!

25 weeks on my 36th birthday!

26 weeks!

27 weeks!

29 weeks!

30 weeks! Dressed up for our family shower!

31 weeks! Mini babymoon at the coast!

32 weeks!

33 weeks! Drive by COVID shower!

34 weeks! Surprise work baby shower!

35 weeks! (A very dirty mirror and the hospital go bag in the background!)

36 weeks!

37 (almost 38 weeks!) Thanksgiving Day! The turkey is almost done!

38 (one day short of 39) weeks! Last day of work!

39 weeks! Ready to meet our boy!

40 weeks! With my littlest love!

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!

Christmas 2020

We had Graham’s newborn photo shoot done when he was nine days old. Since it was so close to Christmas and our house was all decorated we decided to change outfits and get in a few Christmas shots. As usual Amber did a great job with our photos! The last few pictures I took of him, because I couldn’t resist the Santa outfit. I mean can you even with him under the tree?! We had the most wonderful time celebrating Graham’s first Christmas. It was just us, at home being lazy and honestly I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Wishing you the very merriest this season!

Graham’s Birth Story

December 5th started out like a pretty typical COVID Saturday at our house. We were up relatively early, and I received an email that I had some paperwork I needed to print and sign rather than e-sign for the new job that I plan to start after the baby comes. For some reason, I said to Sean we should go ahead and take care of this just in case I’m not able to on Monday. We went into his office to print and sign everything. After that we went home, and picked up Bertie to get some breakfast and go for a drive.

We grabbed McDonald’s and then drove around looking at different neighborhoods and just chatting. This has become our social outing in the pandemic. As we were heading home, mostly because I had to pee (again), I noticed I was getting a headache. It seemed to get a bit worse as we continued driving, so after we got home I decided I should check my blood pressure. It had been completely normal all of my pregnancy, but sure enough it was elevated. Having that along with the headache made me really nervous for preeclampsia, but I wasn’t having any of the other symptoms. At Sean’s insistence I decided to take some Tylenol, lay down and try to get some rest. The Tylenol did nothing for my headache, and I continued checking my blood pressure all afternoon. It would go down, only to come right back up. I tried taking a bath to relax, tried taking a shower, tried drinking tons of water, tried eating some lunch and nothing really seemed to help. After about 6 or 7 hours of this I called the on call nurse and we decided it would be best to go to the hospital to get it checked out.

Her last picture as an only child, taken on our Saturday morning drive.

Our bags had been mostly packed for awhile, so we grabbed the last minute items, and loaded up the car. As we were heading out the door, Sean decided he needed to water the Christmas tree. Wouldn’t you know it overflowed and we had a huge mess. We quickly cleaned up what we could and left the living room in a mess with packages and tree needles everywhere. We dropped Bertie off with our neighbor and headed to the hospital.

After getting to the hospital we were taken right to a triage room and were seen right away by a nurse, medical student, and a fellow. The first thing they did was to give me some medicine for the headache, which helped quite a bit. Then they wanted to monitor my blood pressure for a while. At first it had come down into the normal range and they considered letting me go back home, but then it came back up again. After a few hours they decided it was best for me to go ahead and have the baby. They paged my doctor to let him know they were admitting me and we were taken to a delivery room to get the process started.

Our nurse Tina was quite the character. She was a little kooky, but she was an amazing nurse and took such good care of us overnight. One great thing for us was that I had been tested for COVID on Friday (in preparation for being induced on Tuesday) and the results had come back negative on Saturday. Because of this Tina said she felt comfortable with me not wearing a mask. This was such a huge relief.

Doctor Thompson showed up around midnight to get things going. He had wanted to give me a medication for my cervix, but due to hospital protocol he wasn’t able to. Apparently I was having contractions that they could measure but I really wasn’t feeling them and the hospital doesn’t allow the medication to be given if you’re having more than a certain amount of contractions per minute. So he had to place a cook catheter and hope that would start labor. I had dialated to 1-2 cm already but, he said it could be up to 12 hours for it to work, and likely if I was lucky the baby would come in about 24 hours. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world and I did start having contractions that were painful shortly after it was placed. We discussed having an epidural and he gave the go ahead to get it whenever I felt like I wanted it.

At some point during the night the contractions subsided and I was actually able to rest a little. Because the contractions had stopped I was able to take the medication for my cervix at about 5:00 am. They prepared me for this to take some time to work, and then later in the day I would start pitocin to induce labor. After I was given the medication Tina said I would have to be mostly in the bed because I needed to be monitored continuously, which was a bummer because the contractions I had earlier in the night were much more tolerable when I was up moving around.

Not long after taking the medication I was experiencing major contractions. By around 6:15 or 6:30 they were nearly unbearable. Sean told me to call Tina for the epidural after I had a contraction that lasted for a full two minutes. Of course, it was also about to be shift change for the nurses, and I wanted to make sure I had what I needed before Tina left. She came right away and seemed a bit surprised that I was asking for it so soon. She checked the catheter and it came right out.

After that Tina didn’t say too much, but our room got really hectic for a little bit. The anesthesiologist showed up and started the epidural right away, and then a few other nurses came in. It seemed like there were papers going everywhere and they were hanging drugs on my IV in a hurry. I had no idea what was going on but I could tell something was up.

Once the epidural started working and the nurses had everything under control Tina told me that I had dialated to 7.5 cm in just over an hour so it wouldn’t be long before I had a baby. This had shocked me (and apparently everyone else too) as no one was expecting it to progress so quickly.

My epidural was great and stopped the pain immediately. I know lots of women do it without, but for me the epidural was the right choice. I went from being miserable to actually laughing during the delivery. I also remember everything and felt very present because I wasn’t in pain. I could still mostly control my left leg but my right became dead weight. There was one small spot on the lower left side of my back that I could still feel the contractions, but otherwise I could feel almost nothing.

Just before go time!

The next couple hours were sort of a blur. I continued to progress quickly and sometime around 10 the nurse said it was almost time to start pushing because I was at 9.5 cm. Around 10:30 am I started pushing, and about 90 minutes later Graham was born at 12:05 pm.

He was immediately placed on my chest and it’s amazing to me how from that moment on I had almost zero awareness of anything else going on in the room. The doctor finished doing his thing and while I knew what was happening it just didn’t seem to register. We spent the next couple hours in the delivery room, while they checked out Graham and did his measurements and initial shots, and waited for my epidural to start to wear off.

The nurse was so sweet, she took my phone and did a photo shoot with Graham
Dad’s first time holding his son!

Once things had calmed down in the delivery room, Sean left to go get Jersey Mike’s subs. I had been craving a huge sub for months and it was everything I dreamed it would be, especially after not eating for so long.

Following this we were moved to our room where we would spend the night. After being up most of the night before and finally being moved to this room in the early evening I was ready to try to get some rest. The hospital offers a special meal to the new parents that was delivered for both of us shortly after we got in the room. If I’m being honest it wasn’t great, but it’s a nice gesture. Graham slept on and off through the night and so did we. The nurses come and go so often because they’re checking vitals and different things that it’s really hard to get any sleep.

24 hours old – fresh out of your first bath
Dressed and ready to go home!
Headed out of the hospital!
The sunset your Grandma Francey sent to welcome you!
Buckled in for your first car ride home from the hospital!

The next morning people started coming into the room pretty early. Once my doctor came in to check on me we got the all clear to go home that day if they could get everything done for Graham. This meant that Monday was exhausting. The pediatrician, the nurses, the lactation specialist etc. were coming and going from the room all day. By late afternoon he had passed all of his newborn screenings, had his first bath, and we were all set to go home. It still took forever to get discharged and we didn’t get to leave until early evening. We had the most epic sunset out our hospital window just before we left, which if you know me, you know I took it as a sign from my mom. So definitely worth waiting for! The staff took great care of us, and it may have been nice to stay one more night, but we were ready to bring our boy home!! When we got in the car to leave “Home” the song by Daughtry was playing on the radio. I hadn’t heard that song in years and it felt sort of serendipitous to hear it as we headed home with our Graham! When we got home we had a huge steak dinner delivered! Graham slept through dinner and as we ate and watched him sleep we just couldn’t believe he was finally ours!

Create Your Own Wedding Photo Booth

How to Create Your Own DIY Wedding Photo Booth Using Photo Booth App

Let’s face it, it can be pretty pricey to have a wedding photo booth. But they’re so much fun and guest love them! Plus you will love having a copy of all the pictures of friends and family having a blast on your wedding day. So why not DIY a photo booth for a fraction of the cost? Using the LumaBooth app and an iPad we were able to set up a simple photo booth at our wedding. The app is free, but requires a $19.99 monthly subscription to be able to access all of the features you will want for a wedding day photo booth.

To set up your DIY wedding photo booth you will need an iPad, a tripod, and a light. You could get fancy with the light source, but we found this cheap clip on selfie light did the trick. You’re also going to want plenty of party props and a sign pointing out the set up for your guests. I ordered most of the party props on Amazon; I found a few at the Dollar Store, and some at Hobby Lobby. The Selfie Station sign is from a template I purchased on Etsy.

Using the LumaBooth app you can create an event, and set up everything in advance so that all guests have to do is press start. The app will direct them for the rest. LumaBooth also allows you to customize the layout of your photos which I really liked. I was able to use the template that I purchased on Etsy so that the prints matched everything else at the wedding. I thought this was a cool feature. The app allows for regular photos, GIFs, and boomerangs. I selected to just use the photo and GIFs. Guests can select for the images to be sent to them via text message or email. One other feature that I really liked is that all of the photos are saved directly to the iPad you set it up on. You have each of the individual photos as well as the final photo grid. I loved being able to look at them all after the wedding. This would be fun to use for a birthday party, or other gathering as well. It was so easy to set up and the photos are such a fun memory.

And for the best part… here are some pictures from our wedding photo booth.

For more on our destination wedding click here.

Makeup Essentials for a Perfect Bridal Look

When you have a destination wedding there are a few things that are just not going to be the same as if you got married in your home town. Finding the perfect makeup artist with a few trial runs might be one of those. Some people find it in their budget to have a hair and makeup artist travel with them, I however did not. Some people practice and do it themselves, I considered this but decided against it. And some people are lucky enough to have a friend or sister who can do it for them.

I had my makeup done at the resort spa and was ultimately satisfied with how it turned out. I feel like she did a good job (especially for not having had a trial run). However one of the best tips I got was to bring ALL of my own makeup with me for her to use. I would highly suggest that if you are planning a destination wedding you consider doing this as well. You do not want to find out on your wedding day that you are allergic to the mascara they used or that not a single shade of foundation they have is gonna work for you.

When I looked into the price of hiring a makeup artist locally, it turns out that buying and bringing your makeup actually ends up being FAR MORE economical, even when you buy high end makeup. Plus it’s yours and you can use it more than just one day.

I am definitely not a makeup expert but I have watched my fair share of YouTube tutorials and have spent WAY TOO much money at Sephora trying products! So here are all the products that were in my makeup bag for the perfect bridal look.

  • Foundation – This particular foundation holds up really well (legit lasts all day) and makes your skin look flawless. Notice that it has no SPF, any foundation with SPF should be off the list as it can make your skin look strange in flash photography.
  • Concealer – I have tried a lot of under eye concealers because I have dark circles even when I’m well rested. This one works especially well for brightening up the under eyes and doesn’t crease like some concealers can.
  • Mascara – Waterproof mascara is essential for your wedding day look. There is no need to spend top dollar on high end beauty brands as this particular one is in the makeup kits of all the pros.
  • Setting Powder – Lock your makeup in place and keep the shine down. Also helps give your skin an airbrushed look. I have tried several and the Make Up Forever is my favorite, but this one is a close second.
  • Eye Shadow Palette – Choose one that has colors that go with your skin, eyes, and hair while still feeling fairly neutral. I loved this one by Stila, but you can get good eyeshadow palettes at many different price points.
  • Blush – You will see I included two. The Bobbi Brown (Sandy Pink) would be my go to for a wedding look if I could just pick one. The NARS colors are much more pigmented and have a shimmer finish. I did use a bit of both because I like how they mix. Be careful with shimmer as it can make you look shiny in photographs. For this reason, you’ll notice I specifically didn’t include any highlighters on this list.
  • False Lashes – I love these lashes. They are the easiest to put on and are completely comfortable to wear. Plus they are v cheap. This particular style is my favorite for a more natural glam look.
  • Setting Spray – This truly does make your makeup last longer and keeps it all in place. Exactly what you need for your wedding day.
  • Corrector – To me this product is the holy grail for dark under eyes. It is designed to neutralize and brighten any darkness. It is used in combination with a concealer under the eyes, do not use it alone.
  • Brow Powder – I have tried tons of different brow products (pencils, pomades, gels) and for me personally, I like the look of powder the best. I feel like it holds up well without looking too overdone. I also add in this clear setting gel.
  • Liquid Liner – I have to give credit to the resort makeup artist for this one as I hadn’t tried it before. It is $3 dollars at the drugstore, doesn’t smudge or run, and is by far the easiest liquid liner to use I have ever tried.
  • Shadow Stick – I have these in lots of colors. They are super versatile for different looks and have serious long lasting power. It takes practice but I also use these as eyeliner. Usually I line the inside of my eyes and my waterline with them and it makes my lashes look so much thicker.
  • Lipstick – I wanted a natural looking pink for a more timeless look. Faux by MAC fit the bill. This is a satin finish so it not drying and holds up well.
  • Shadow Primer – This is the perfect primer for eyeshadow. It perfectly evens out the eyelid tone and gives a great base for shadow to stick to.
  • Lip Liner – I prefer a natural looking lip liner that blends in with the lip color and your lip. Dervish by MAC goes well with the lipstick I chose.
  • Bronzer – This is a great bronzer because you can use it as a contour shade as well as a bronzer. It is also matte so it is good for photography, unlike a lot of bronzers that have shimmer in them.
  • Primer – Starting with a good primer to even the skin and give the makeup something to stick to is important. This primer helps to give an airbrushed flawless look to you skin and definitely helps makeup last.
  • Lash Glue – This is hands down the best lash glue. I always get the one that dries clear. Often lashes come with their own glue, you don’t want to use it – buy this instead.

Proof that my makeup lasted…

I hope that this post is helpful for creating your perfect wedding day look! This post has more details on our destination wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica if you want to know more!

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.