Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 Reasons You Must Go On a Honeymoon... ANY Honeymoon

Brian and I have always dreamed of going to the Galapagos Islands.  When we were dating, we decided that would be the perfect destination for our someday honeymoon.

Then we got engaged, started planning a wedding and woke up from our pipe dream.

Unless we wanted to be in debt for the next, oh I don't know, 100 years, there was no way we could afford to pay for a wedding and go on an exotic, two-week long trip.  We were both disappointed.  Okay, I was more like devastated.  We decided we would re-examine our finances after the wedding and book our dream honeymoon a few months later.

That was fine with me except I had an overwhelming fear that we might not ever go.  And what were we going to do right after the wedding?  Hang out at home and hide from our families so we could get some peace and quiet?  I came up with a different, much more affordable solution -- we could go on a "mini moon." 

Brian gave me a miniscule budget and put me in charge of finding a not-too-far place (driving distance) we could go for a few days to just unwind after the wedding.  I chose Block Island, an adorable, laidback island right off the coast of Rhode Island.  We had gone there on our first ever vacation and I had always wanted to go back. 

So we went to Block Island right after our wedding and we had probably the best, most romantic three days of our lives.  We slept in and ate decadent dessert for dinner and took long bike rides and saw seals splashing around in the ocean.  Seals. 

We've been married a few months now and it's easy to see that our "mini moon" was actually our honeymoon.  Sure, we still plan on going to the Galapagos Islands at some point but I'm so glad we didn't hold out for it.  You shouldn't either.  You really must go on a honeymoon... ANY honeymoon.  Here's why:

1.  It's NOW or never.
You went way over-budget for the wedding.  You used all your vacation time this year.  You don't have anyone to watch the dog.  Sure - you can probably think of a million nagging reasons not to go on a honeymoon.  But here's the only reason you need to book your honeymoon: If you don't do it now, there's a very good chance you NEVER will. 

I hate to be a buzzkill but I've seen it happen time and time again.  Couples put off booking their honeymoon with the promise that they will go on an amazing trip eventually.  They'll do it once they've paid off all their wedding vendors or they'll do it once the craziness of the wedding has died down.  But life always ends up getting in the way.  The longer you put it off, the smaller your window of opportunity becomes and before you know it, your 1 year anniversary is right around the corner and you're no closer to booking your honeymoon than you were before the wedding.

Just do it.

2.  The memories.
Whether you're going on a weekend camping trip or staying in 5 star hotels throughout Europe, your honeymoon is all about making your first memories together, as a married couple.  Even if you've been on vacations before, just the two of you, your honeymoon is different because it marks the beginning of a new era in your relationship.  The memories you'll create on your honeymoon will be some of the fondest of your lifetime together.  You'll look back on that trip and revel at how young, naïve and stupid happy your were.  Isn't that what being newlyweds is all about?

Besides, after you're married, who knows when you'll have the opportunity to go on a solo trip with your hubby again (if ever).  Once you have kids and decide to bring them along, it's no longer a vacation.  It's a business trip.

3.  The photos.
You know how every time you embark on an exciting journey (and what's more exciting than going on your honeymoon?), people always say, "Take lots of pictures!"?  Well seriously, I want you to do this.  Take TONS of photos of yourselves on your honeymoon.  You'll both be in the best shape of your lives from all those pre-wedding work outs.  And even better, your post-wedding glow will radiant in every single photo you take. 

My parents were 19 when they got married.  19.  They went to the Poconos for a long weekend for their honeymoon.  My favorite picture of them from that trip is one of them standing in front of a nameless bar, making goofy faces.  They look like two kids at summer camp.  Turns out, they got kicked out of that bar just a few minutes before the photo was taken because they weren't legally old enough to drink on their honeymoon.  I freakin' love that picture.

Just like I've convinced you to get the wedding album, I also hope you heed this advice and take a bajillion photos on your honeymoon.  The memories from that trip will fade a bit in time, as will the "honeymoon period", but every time you take out your photo album from your honeymoon, it'll remind you all over again of the absolute best time of your life.  Together.  Say cheeeeeeeeese!

4.  The perks.
When I was booking my honeymoon, I called around to a bunch of hotels searching for the best deal.  We had like pretty much no money to spend but I still wanted it to feel special.  So I said the magic word: HONEYMOON.  As soon as someone hears that you're booking a room for your honeymoon, they literally just start giving you free stuff.  I'm not kidding.  Every single person I spoke to said something like this, "Oh it's your honeymoon?  Congratulations!  How exciting.  Well in that case we will throw in a free bottle of champagne upon your arrival and upgrade you to a suite at no additional charge."  I chose our hotel based on my favorite freebie (which happened to be complimentary bike rentals). 

And it certainly doesn't stop once you're actually on your honeymoon.  To the embarrassment of my husband, I mentioned to just about everyone we came in contact with that it was our honeymoon.  We were given free rounds of drinks, free dessert and countless offers to take our picture.  I even know a couple who got upgraded to first class on their way to Hawaii when they mentioned to the stewardess that they were on their honeymoon and the groom was terrified of flying.

The point is that the world is full of good, generous people who want your honeymoon to be just as spectacular as you do.  Take advantage of the perks.  You can only say the word HONEYMOON and watch the magic show that ensues exactly once in your life.

5.  The escape.
Even though your wedding was supposed to be all about the two of you, you probably didn't even get two full minutes of time to yourselves before you were ushered to the next photo op or required to say hi to your distant cousin's weird new boyfriend.  Really, most weddings are all about joining two families together and throwing one hell of a party.  And that's okay.  But it's really, really, really important that you and your new husband get the chance to celebrate your new marriage in your own way.  A way that has nothing to do with anyone else but the two of you.

The honeymoon is your escape from the wedding mayhem.  You just had a whirlwind weekend - Friday night was the rehearsal dinner, Saturday was the actual wedding and Sunday was the brunch.  You've most likely taken more photos in the past seventy-two hours than you have in your entire life.  You've been smiling and socializing and smiling some more and every time you go to grab your new husband's hand, to give him that reassuring squeeze, you're being pulled in yet another direction.  Wedding weekends are crazy and the only way to truly get away from all that craziness to quite literally go away.  Even if you guys hide out in the bed and breakfast two towns over and watch bad TV and eat ice cream in bed, you need some time to yourselves. 

Now go book your honeymoon!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The (Un)Veiled Bride

I think the best part about getting married in this day and age is that there are no rules.  Brides are no longer upheld to antiquated standards.  You don't want to get married in a church?  Don't.  You don't want to wear a white dress?  Don't.  You don't want to toss the bouquet?  Don't (and I promise all your single girlfriends will say a silent "Thank God").

You don't want to wear a veil?  Don't.

I was once told by a woman who had probably gotten married about three decades ago that I would surely regret it if I didn't wear a veil.  She said without a veil, I would never feel like a bride; I'd just feel like a girl in a really pretty dress.  I respectfully listened to her opinion, as I did throughout my entire wedding planning process when people offered me their not-at-all-requested opinions.  And then I cried.

I found the more I shared about my wedding plans, the more unwelcome advice I yielded from just about everyone.

Women, and especially bride-to-bes, are natural people pleasers.  We seek approval from our mothers, sisters, bridesmaids, future in-laws and the women we meet in line at the grocery store.  And maybe this just applies to me, but I was also extra sensitive while I was planning my wedding (hence why I cried about the innocuous veil comment).  I felt like every single day I had to make a wedding-related decision that might not be "approved" by each and every person involved in the wedding.  I agonized over this.  When someone, anyone, voiced their disapproval over one of my decisions, I let it eat at me.

I spent an absurd amount of time trying to keep everyone else happy during my 10-month engagement that at some points I was quite unhappy myself.  My wedding planning experience was a series of extremes - really high highs (starting with my fairy tale engagement) and really low lows (when we found out our venue was ruined during Hurricane Sandy).  Although I think every bride can relate at some level, if I could do it all over again, I'd ignore the critics and cynics. 

Luckily, I had a very supportive fiancé whose mantra was basically, "It's OUR day.  All that matters is what WE want." 

Brian and I had many conversations during our engagement that went something like this:
Me: I don't really want to make a big thing out of cutting the cake.  I kind of want it to just be me and you.
Brian: Me too.
Me: But what if {fill-in-the-blank with either of our mother's names} gets upset?
Brian: Who cares?  It's OUR wedding.

I didn't wear a veil on my wedding day and I still very much felt like a bride.  I wore flowers in my hair instead - something that is very me.  A veil just isn't me.  And that's okay.  There are no rules.  Actually - there's just one rule that I want you to follow...

Follow Brian's advice (wow - never thought I'd say that on this blog).  Act like a man for once.  Do what you want.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hump Day Humor #2

Happy Hump Day!  Just a few more days 'til the weekend and if you're a bride-to-be, just a few more days 'til you can fill Saturday & Sunday with all the wedding planning you didn't have time to accomplish during the week. 

But keep in mind why you're going through all of this in the first place...

So you can change your Facebook status to MARRIED!!!

Just kidding.  But in all seriousness, it feels pretty darn spectacular when you can finally announce it to the world.  You'll get so many "likes" -- and I promise I'll be one of them.  :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Timeless Tea Length

I'm obsessed with tea length wedding dresses.  I think they are timeless, classic, simple, chic, stylish, comfortable, retro... the list goes on and on.  The day I went to try on wedding dresses, I was convinced I was going to leave with a tea length dress.  So was everyone else.  My bestie even texted me the pic below and said, "This is how I picture you on your wedding day."

My vision of myself on my wedding day was very similar to that picture except I would be on the beach instead of frolicking in a random field.  But alas, I ended up with a Grecian-style gown that I could not have loved more.

If you're a bride-to-be and you have yet to try on dresses, I guarantee the vision you have of the "perfect dress" will change once you're in the dressing room.  Chances are, you'll end up like me and get a dress that is entirely different from what you thought you wanted.  But as long as you love it, who cares?

I only hope that one day I get to plan a wedding for a bride in a tea length dress because A.) I'll instantly know we have similar style and B.) I can live vicariously through her.  It's still my favorite silhouette because it is flattering on just about every body type.  And with so many designers, from J.Crew to Monique Lhullier, understanding the fabulousness of the tea length dress, you have your choice from daytime casual to black tie elegant to 1950s screen siren. 

There is also a tea length wedding dress out there for just about any budget.  When I did my own online search for a timeless tea length, I found dresses ranging from $225 - $4,000. 

I hope I've inspired you to at least consider this non-traditional type of dress.  And if you need a little bit of extra motivation, just think of the shoe possiblities!

Here is a little pic gallery of some of my all-time favorite tea length dresses:

Order of designers:  Matthew Christopher, Dolly Couture, Monique Lhullier, Tobi Hannah, David Alexander, David's Bridal, Matthew Christopher

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ring Holders for Every Type of Bride-to-be

One of the best parts about getting engaged, aside from ya know, the sparkly diamond ring and the promise of forever is... the gifts!!

One of my favorite and most thoughtful gifts given to me after I got engaged was from my two closest BFFs.  It was a simple, beautiful ceramic ring holder.  That ring holder sits on my night stand and I use it every single day. 

A ring holder is the perfect engagement gift for a bride-to-be because it is practical, useful and allows her to beautifully display her new rock.  She will always know where to find her ring during those rare times she's not flashing it for all the world to see. 

My go-to gift for any of my girlfriends when they get engaged is a ring holder, a bunch of bridal mags and a bottle of bubbly.  And the best part is that there are so many fabulous and affordable ring holders to choose from, you can really personalize it to the bride.  Below is a list of my top favorite ring holder/bride combos:

  1. For the world traveler...
These famous landmark ring holders from Anthropologie are absolutely perfect for the bride-to-be who plans on traveling the world with her new hubby.  Bonus if you they happen to be going to London or Paris on their honeymoon!
    2.  For the animal lover...
How precious is this baby elephant ring holder from Red Envelope?  And the fact that it's silver keeps it from looking too childlike.
    3.  For the eternal optimist...
Give this umbrella ring holder from to the bride-to-be who is always willing to look at the sunny side in life.  And tell her to use this as a reminder that it's good luck if it rains on her wedding day.
    4.  For the dreamer...
This unicorn ring holder from Urban Outfitters should be gifted to any beaming bride who lives in a fantasy world or appreciates a touch of whimsy.
    5.  For the fashionista
This high heel ring holder (found on gives your fashion-obsessed friend enough room to not only store her engagement ring, but her funky, chunky costume rings that she's always been famous for as well.
   6.  For the minimalist...

This classic ring holder from World Market is simple elegance and the ideal gift for any future bride who exudes understated beauty and Jackie O. style.  She wouldn't be caught dead without her string of pearls (and of course her engagement ring). 
Feel free to add to my list in the comments below!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cornhole, Anyone?

The first time I ever played cornhole was at a tailgate party before a Giants game.  Even though I admittedly hate football, I definitely loved this new bean-bag-throwin' sport I'd discovered.  The next time I played cornhole was at a different tailgate party before a concert.  I fell in love with the game all over again.

I sort of figured cornhole was a game specifically meant to be played in parking lots due to all the tailgating I was doing.  But then I noticed it popping up at a lot of summer BBQs and pool parties too.  Brian gets pretty pumped any time he can play a game at a party so our names will inevitably be the first on the cornhole sign-up sheet.  Brian and I usually make a pretty good team in that he sinks most of the shots and I run and fetch us fresh beers while I wait for my turn. 

I now equate cornhole with laidback summer nights.  It's a game that pretty much anyone can play.  I say that because if I can play it, anyone can (I'm limited in the hand/eye coordination department).  The rules are simple and the turnaround time between teams is fairly quick so everybody gets a turn.

When it came time to start planning our backyard wedding, I naturally took the lead since I'm an event planner for a living.  Brian didn't ask for much as far as his "must-haves."  Except he insisted that we have cornhole.  I was a bit hesitant but in his eyes, it was non-negotiable.  Cornhole or bust. 

I obliged. We ended up having our neighbor build us two custom cornhole sets (4 boards total) and painted them in our colors - yellow and navy.  We ordered our bean bags from Etsy.  Easy.

Let me just say this - if you're planning a backyard wedding or any kind of outdoors party, and you want an option for your dance-floor-shy guests, cornhole is a MUST.  Since we were blessed with a perfect summer evening, cornhole ended up being the main attraction at our wedding.  Seriously.  The front yard was packed with people ages 2 - 84, all waiting their turn to play, all night long.

The best part is that we've used the cornhole sets over and over since our wedding weekend.  I'm starting to think people are just inviting us to their summer soirees because they know we'll bring cornhole.

In case you've never played cornhole, here's run down of the rules:
  • Cornhole can be played as doubles or singles.
  • In doubles play one team members pitch from opposite boards. So each team has one player throwing from the left pitcher's box and one throwing from the right.
  • In singles play, a player competes against another player (both pitch from the same board). All other rules are the same for doubles or singles play.
  • Every match is broken down into frames of play. Players alternate pitching until all 8 bags have been pitched, completing the frame. The player who scored in the preceding frame shall pitch first in the next frame. If neither pitcher scores, the player who pitched first in the preceding frame shall pitch first in the next frame.
  • Cornholes - A bag thrown through the hole in the board. A bag can be pushed in by other bags from either player.
  • Cornhole = 3 points.
  • Woody or Boarder - A bag that is not in-the-hole but lands with any portion resting on the board.
  • Woody or Boarder = 1 point.
  • If the bag touches the ground before hitting the board or lands hanging off the board while also touching the ground it is called a "Dirty." Any "Dirty" bags must be removed from play before the next bag is tossed.
  • Stanker or Foul Bag - Any toss that is not a Cornhole or a Woody.
  • Stanker or Foul Bag = 0 points.
  • Bags knocked into foul territory by a foul bag should be returned as closely as possible to their original position. This also applies to bags that are knocked into the hole by a foul bag.

Traditional 21 Scoring - In this game opposing players' frame points cancel one another out. Only those points that do not cancel out apply to the total overall score. Example: Team A scores 5 points in a frame and Team B scores 6 points in the same frame. Team B scores 1 point for that frame.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Great Wedding Album Debate

To say that Brian and I were on a tight budget while planning our wedding would be a major understatement.  We cut corners everywhere we could - our caterer was my BFF's husband, our florist was an old family friend, our DJ was Brian's high school buddy.  All of these people, might I add, kindly cut us a break but are professionals in their fields and did a FABULOUS job.

We also made some sacrifices along the way.  For example, my mode of transportation in getting to our ceremony was my sister/MOH's Nissan Pathfinder since we opted not to splurge for a limo.  We also decided to serve just beer and wine as opposed to mixed drinks with expensive liquor during the reception. 

But the one thing I'm so glad we decided to spend a little bit of extra money on is our wedding album.  This might sound like a premature statement since we haven't even received it.  In fact, we haven't even picked our favorite 80 pictures to go in our wedding album.  I just know I'm going to love it and cherish it for the rest of the my days because it will tell the story of the happiest day of my life - one beautiful photo at a time.

We didn't originally choose the photography package that included the photo album.  When we met with our photographer, we chose the bare bones minimum which basically just gave us the rights to do what we please with the photos she took.  I figured I could always make an album myself using Snapfish or Shutterfly; I mean the rest of our wedding was DIY, why not? 

Then I came across a very well-written and thoughtful article on the Huffington Post, "The Case Against 'Good Enough'" and I had a smart change of heart.  I highly, highly recommend you take a few minutes to read it - especially if you're torn on whether or not to fit the wedding album into your budget.

I think it's easy for brides to get caught up in the day-of details.  I know I did.  Ultimately, though, your wedding day will come and go in a blink and all you're left with is memories. 

When I tell my kids, and even my grandkids, about my wedding day, I'll most likely not bore them with the fact that we had a sushi bar or cookies and milk for dessert.  I'll just sit them on my lap, pull out my wedding album and let the pictures tell the story.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mason Jars: Passe or Here to Stay?

When Brian and I got engaged in August 2012, I had already been secretly planning our rustic, nautical-themed wedding in my mind for quite some time.  You can't really blame me - Brian and I had been to about 20 weddings collectively before our own and I've been a bridesmaid 5 times (M-O-H once).  We're at "that age."

Although I waited to plan most of the details of our wedding during our actual engagement, I knew for years (maybe before I even met  Brian) that I wanted to have mason jars at my wedding.  When I originally hatched this plan, like I said, years ago, mason jars were just beginning to pop up in craft stores and hip restaurants were using them as drinking glasses.  Pinterest didn't even exist.

Fast forward to our wedding this past June (2013).  My dream of incorporating mason jars into my wedding finally came true.  We gave out adorable mason jars with handles and chalk board labels with each guest's name written in chalk as favors and to use throughout the night.  They also acted as place cards with the table number tied to them. 

They were a hit... but they weren't an original hit.  Not a single guest came up to me and said, "Mason jars!  How unique.  You're so clever."  That's because I guarantee that by the time our wedding rolled around, every single one of our guests had been to another wedding with "mason jar mania." 

Here's the thing about wedding trends and pretty much all trends for that matter... at some point, they will become passé.  As a bride-to-be, you will come up with the most fantastic, creative, mind-blowing idea for your wedding and during the year it takes to plan it and get there, odds are some other bride already beat you to the punch.

I say - if you love an idea and absolutely have to have it at your wedding, don't suddenly change your mind or drive yourself crazy just because it has become the latest fad.  If that were the case, pretty much everyone would stop having photo booths (super trendy at the moment) and those are just too fun for your drunk guests to ever pass up.

The jury is still out on whether mason jars are passé or here to stay.  But the good news is that if you find yourself with an overabundance of mason jars because you hopped on that bandwagon and now want to hop off, you can always use them for their intended use as, ya know.... jars.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hump Day Humor

Here's a great e-card that pretty much sums up the way most bride-to-be's will feel at some point during the wedding planning process.

I know for me, I was cool, calm and collected until about 3 weeks before our big day.  People complimented me on how "together" I was.  I should've known. 

This is what the last weeks leading up to my DIY backyard wedding looked like for me -- First came the full-blown insomnia, followed by loss of appetite, then the minor panic attacks kicked in and it was all topped off with random bouts of crying.  Brian, my poor then-fiancé (and thankfully now-husband) treated me like I was a delicate toddler prone to temper tantrums.  I sort of was.

3 days before my wedding, my Facebook status read:
"Is there really any difference between a crack head and a girl who is 3 days out from her wedding?"

That's right... Bat. Shit. Crazy.

But I promise you, stressed-tired-frazzled-frantic-anxious-freaked-out-bride-to-be...
Totally. Worth. It.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

See Sparks Fly

I absolutely love sparklers.  They are fun and festive and look incredible in photos.  My husband and I thought it would be fun to end our wedding with a "Sparkler Send-off."  I'm so glad we did!

This was a cheap and easy thing to put together and I highly recommend it for any couple planning a summer wedding. We simply ordered personalized matchbooks (Wedding Things) and sparklers in bulk (Koyal Wholesale).  We let the DJ know so he could make an announcement and also mentioned it on our programs so our guests were aware of our unique ending of the festivities.

We also gave the photographer a heads up and she definitely delivered on capturing some truly amazing shots!

We displayed the sparklers in a pretty glass jar and added beachy touches.
Our matchbooks said "See Sparks Fly" with our names & the date of the wedding.

The guests really got into it!
And we're off...
One of my absolute favorite pics from the wedding.

For the Couple Who Loves to Spoon

Confession - I'm addicted to Pinterest.  Like seriously addicted.  But here's another confession - I haven't even attempted about 99% of my pins.  Especially the ones on my "Craft-tastic" board.  While I consider myself a crafty person, I also consider myself a busy person and the last time I checked - busy people don't have time for arts and crafts.

Not the case with this adorable DIY gift I recently made for a bride-to-be.  I wanted to give her a silly little gift at her bachelorette party, especially since I can't make it to her destination wedding.  She and her fiancé just purchased a beautiful new home and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a gift that would be suitable for a housewarming/happy-bachelorette-party.  Pinterest to the rescue! 

I went to The Dollar Tree for most of my supplies; the others I had left-over from my wedding:
  • Large silver spoon
  • Small silver spoon
  • 8" x 10" frame
  • Burlap
  • Twine
  • Sharpie marker
  • Pencil
  • Hot glue gun/glue sticks
Ready to get my craft on.

  1. I removed the glass from the frame and set it aside.  I ended up using it as a straight edge when I did my lettering. 
  2. I cut the burlap to fit the frame.
  3. I tied the spoons together with a piece of thin twine.
  4. I hot glued the spoons to the burlap at the top of the frame (I used the frame horizontally).
  5. I wrote out "Spooning since 2007" in pencil first on the burlap. 
  6. I traced over the writing with black Sharpie.
  7. I messed up on the word "since."
  8. I cut another piece of burlap and re-wrote "since" and glued it over top of the messed up "since."  I actually really liked the 3D result.
  9. I inserted the burlap into the frame.
  10. I hot glued a piece of twine tied into a little bow at the bottom of the frame for a finishing touch.

Total cost: $4 (not including the stuff I already had)
Total time: 20 minutes
The look on my friend's face when she opened this unique gift: PRICELESS.

Hi from the Backyard Bride

Hi, all.  I'm Kaysie McKay and I'm an actual backyard bride.  After Hurricane Sandy ruined my original wedding venue, I ended up getting married right in the backyard of my childhood home.  It was the best day.  Ever.  I loved planning my Jersey Shore wedding so much that I decided to make a career out of it.

I'm so glad you've found my blog - a place I intend to share all my wedding inspirations.  Whether it's a DIY project, a great gift idea, a breathtaking centerpiece, vows to melt your heart, an out-of-the-box venue,  a jaw-dropping dress or a little piece of advice, I hope that if you're a bride-to-be, you come to me!

Thanks for stopping by... "I do" it all for the bride.
This is me - glowing on my wedding day.