Pre-Wedding Beauty Tips

Everyone wants to feel beautiful on their wedding day!  I wanted to share a few things that you can do to try and get yourself wedding-day ready and feeling your best for your big day!  These are all of the things that I am personally going to do leading up to my wedding.  Just remember that the truth is, even if you have a pesky pimple the day of or your hair just won’t cooperate, you still get to marry the love of your life and THAT is what it’s all about!

Skincare

IMG_4823 (1) Mario Badescu AHA Body Soap

Price: $8

It’s all about the A.H.A’s!!!  Alpha Hydroxy Acids are known for their exfoliating abilities.  I will go more into detail about these later, but they are a true skincare game changer.  I LOVE this body soap from Mario Badescu because it really gets rid of any little bumps you may have on your arms or legs and brightens your overall complexion.  It also smells amazing!

 

 

IMG_4827 (1) Exuviance Peel

Price: $77

I picked this pack up during the Ulta 21 days of beauty for half off–I just couldn’t pass it up!  I wanted something stronger to add to my skincare regimen before the wedding, and with over 400 amazing reviews I knew I had to try this.

Once again, we have an AHA product.  The word “peel” might scare a lot of people, because who wants to actually peel!?  But most peels do not make your skin peel off.  They just exfoliate the top layer of your skin using chemicals instead of physical beads.  For myself, I notice a BIG difference using chemical exfoliators versus physical.  This box is a 6 week supply of 2 step pads that you swipe all over your face, neck, and I go over my arms too.  It is said to smooth texture, shrink pores, even skin tone, create brightness, and diminish wrinkles.  I have definitely noticed that my dark spots are lightening and my texture is pretty much gone!  So far I am really glad I have this!  It’s the perfect pre-wedding boost!

Son & Park Beauty Water  Price: $30

Ole Henrikson Invigorating Night Transformation Gel  Price: $48

OIe Henrikson Invigorating Night Transformation Cream  Price: $50

Surprise, more AHAs!  Honestly, when I was introduced to AHAs it changed my skin.  When I would try new products, the oiliness and texture would come right back, and I would get out my AHA gel, and my skin would go back to normal!  I have had so many estheticians recommend AHA products to me, so I finally decided to give it a try and I have been so happy with my skin ever since!  Everyone is different, but for me–I am no longer oily, I rarely breakout like I used to, my skin tone is finally becoming more even, my skin is brighter, and my makeup goes on so smooth.  Every single night I use these 3 products, and that’s it!  This is my holy grail combination!

I’ve said it once in a previous post (Sephora & Ulta Haul!) and I will say it again, this “water” is amazing and I don’t see myself ever being without it.  After I wash my face or use a makeup wipe, I put some of this on a cotton round and swipe it over my entire face and I get SO MUCH DIRT that I didn’t even see on my skin!  It’s amazing!  I really think that just properly cleaning my skin with this has led to my skin texture clearing up because my pores do not get as clogged.

Ole Henrikson makes my favorite skincare products.  I think the brand is a little underrated, because I haven’t tried a single thing that I did not like!  These two products from the invigorating night transformation line work together like a DREAM.  Yes, this is the old packaging, but that’s because I find these at TJ Maxx for about 1/3 of the price!!!  Even if I had to pay full price for these, I would do it in a heartbeat because they work for me so well.  You put the gel serum on first, and you will experience some tingling.  Wait for that to dry down, and follow with the cream!  Whenever I wake up my skin is noticeably brighter and any potential bumps I had coming up are either diminished or gone.  My fiancé has even made comments about my skin glowing!

For your daytime skincare, be sure to follow up with SPF!  AHA products can make you more sensitive to the sun, so be sure you are protecting yourself during the day!

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The slogan of the popular hydrafacial sounds like wedding-ready skin to me!  I have watched as so many of my favorite YouTubers receive hydrafacials before big events, and their skin is always glowing!  They rave about the results, and I have always wanted to try one.  The thing is that for a facial, they are very pricey.  But, what better time to splurge than for your wedding!?  I finally booked one for myself for a week before the wedding and I am soooo excited to see what it’s all about!  The website says it is for all skin types and will help with congested skin, fine lines, skin texture, vibrancy, elasticity, and pores.  They use what is called a “vortex” tool to suction everything out of your pores and leave your skin silky smooth.  At the end, they even show you your skin’s “waste”! (Ew, but cool?).  I can’t wait to share my results!  The average cost of a hydrafacial is around $150.

IMG_6549.JPG Lastly for skincare, I always recommend doing 1 sheet mask a week!  Not only do they benefit your skin, they are so relaxing!!!  I always look forward to sitting down with my face mask and some wine and just unwinding for 20 minutes!  I still suggest My Top 5 Sheet Masks because these are really the ones I use all of the time!  Depending on what your skin needs, these can offer hydration, clarity, brightness, you name it!

Other Beauty Tips

Teeth Whitening

IMG_4826 (1) Crest 3D Whitestrips Gentle

Price: $47

I want whiter teeth for the wedding, but my teeth are so sensitive!  Any time that I use the regular white strips, my teeth hurt for days.  I have found that using the gentle routine strips for just 10 minutes a day is perfect for me!  This pack has 28 treatments, so for the month before the wedding, it’s perfect to pop these on every night while you get ready for bed!

Fragrances

IMG_8888.JPG This is one of my absolute favorite pre-wedding “beauty” things to share.  I really love the idea of having a wedding day scent.  Smells have the ability to bring back memories and take you back to certain times in your life, and I wanted to choose a special perfume to do that for our wedding.  My plan is to only wear it on our anniversary so that it can remind us of our special day!  So, we went together to Neiman Marcus to start smelling perfumes and decide on the perfect one, and we ended up finding scents for both of us!  Everyone is very different when it comes to perfumes and colognes, so what smells good on my skin might smell totally different on the next person.  I ended up choosing the Armani Prive Pivione Suzhou which has a raspberry and rose scent.  For my fiancé, we picked the Armani Prive Vetiver D’Hiver which lists its fragrance notes as woodsy and raw.  What made this so special was that the woman who helped us at the counter was SO nice and told us that we could get a special wooden box to showcase our fragrances along with free engraving!  This is a pricey item for sure, but I am so happy that we have scents that we can wear on special occasions that will always remind us of our wedding.  This is the first item we had engraved with our joint last name, and I’m so happy we did this!  Also, she gave us an atomizer to fill with our fragrances so that we do not have to travel with these glass bottles!  So helpful!

Sunglasses

IMG_4802 (1)  Don’t forget to pack your favorite pair of sunglasses!  For us with a destination wedding, this was a must.  When one of my favorite YouTubers, Desi Perkins, came out with her new Quay X Desi sunnies in white, I thought they were perfect!  I’m so excited to wear these on our wedding vacation!

 

Hair and Makeup

Don’t forget to plan out your hair and makeup for the big day!  Get on Pinterest and see what you are drawn to.  You will want to send pictures to your hairstylist and makeup artist before hand so they have a good idea of what you want.  Also, keep in mind what you want your hair to be like for the wedding.  Do you picture it long?  A different color?  Prepare accordingly and make appointments to help get your hair exactly how you want it before you go to your hair trials.

Nails and Eyebrows

Make your appointments ahead of time!  When my eyebrows are trimmed and cleaned up, it makes everything look so much better.  I get them threaded about once a month and I love it!  As for nails, going with something white will always look nice!  Just make sure you get the appointment close to your wedding day so that it all stays nice and perfect with no chips!

Tanning

We don’t want to look pale next to our white wedding dress!  It’s controversial, but I personally think that tanning in a bed for a week is the best way to get a good solid base color and glow.  I have very rarely seen a spray tan that looks good, and even if parts of it look good, the hands ALWAYS get rubbed off and look splotchy.  I don’t want a picture of my holding my bouquet with patchy hands!  So plan accordingly and get a couple day pass to a tanning salon right before your wedding to get some healthy looking color!

Gym

Yes, “shedding for the wedding” is a popular thing and we all want to look our best.  Personally, I think it is more important to go to the gym before the wedding in order to help you manage your stress!  Exercising can be a huge part in stress relief, and with all of the planning, you will need something to help you unwind!  Go to the gym to be healthy both physically and mentally!

 

There you have it!  My beauty and wellness tips to help you get ready for the wedding!  Please let me know if there are any tips that helped you get ready for your wedding!

 

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Amalfi Coast, Italy Trip Itinerary

We all want to make the most out of our time when on vacation, especially when traveling abroad.  There are so many things to do and you have to fit it all into a limited window of time!  This can be the hardest part of planning a trip, and for us, we were also including a wedding!  I wanted to share our itinerary so that anyone looking to plan a wedding or vacation in Italy can get some ideas as to what we found worked the best!

 

Itinerary

Our trip gives us 10 full days to make the most of our time in Italy.  Here is a full breakdown of what we have planned!

Friday

Goodbye U.S.–Hello Italy! We will be departing Florida and heading to Europe!  We will be flying overnight.

Saturday

Ciao! We will be landing in Rome at around 10 am.  We will be taking a private transfer from the Rome airport to our Villa in the Amalfi Coast.  This journey is expected to take around 4 hours.

We will all check into our Villa around 4 pm.  As our welcome to Italy, a Chef will host a pizza making party for us!

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Our Villa outdoor dining area

Sunday

We will be embarking on a private boat tour to the island of Capri and 3 grottos!  We will leave at 10 am and return to the Villa at 6 pm.  The marina is a 10 minute walk from the Villa.  We will have our own sailor and will be able to swim, walk around on the island, or whatever we wish to do.

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Blue grotto

For the evening, we will have the Chef prepare a dinner for us in the Villa for when we return.  The menu for tonight is pasta with zucchini, dessert, and wine.

Monday

Today we will be hiking the Athena Loop Trail with a private guide.  The hike can be strenuous, but the views are spectacular.  We will be transported from the Villa with a pickup time of 8:40 am to the starting point at the square of Termini for a starting time of 9:00 am.  We will also be having a picnic lunch along the way.  The tour will last around 3 hours and we will be taken back to the Villa around 12:00 pm.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 9.22.33 AM.png
Athena Loop Trail hike

For the evening, the Chef will prepare us dinner in the Villa.  The menu tonight is grilled chicken, a mixed salad, dessert, and wine.

Tuesday

Today we will tour Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius!  We will leave the Villa at 9:30 am and spend 2 hours visiting Pompeii and then 2 hours at Vesuvius.  This is an 8 hour trip with a minibus for 13 people and a private driver along with a private guide for 2 hours in Pompeii.

During our trip, we will also have a lunch and wine tour at the Mount Vesuvius area!  This will include homemade bruschetta, salami, cheese, bread and olive oil, 3 different types of wines, pasta with red sauce, and cake for dessert.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 9.23.15 AM.png
Mount Vesuvius

The evening will consist of another dinner prepared by the Chef and the menu will be ravioli with ricotta and mozzarella cheese, dessert, and wine.

Wednesday

It’s the day before the wedding!  Today we will be taking it easy!  You can leave the Villa to explore, or hang out by the pool!  There will be 2 masseuses coming to the Villa and providing massages.

We will be having the rehearsal dinner at La Tagliata in Positano.  This restaurant is about 1 hour from the Villa, with a drive consisting of gorgeous coastline views the entire time.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 9.25.21 AM
La Tagliata restaurant

Thursday

It’s Wedding Day!!!

We will spend the day getting ready at the Villa!

4:00 pm- The transportation will arrive at the Villa to take us to the ceremony.

5:00 pm- The ceremony will take place at Villa Fondi.

6:00 pm- We will head to the reception to celebrate!

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Antico Bagno Nettuno restaurant on a jetty for our reception dinner

Friday

For our “day after” celebration, we will be going on a Mozzarella and Limoncello tasting/making tour!  We will leave the villa at 9:15 am and travel to the farm where we will taste 8 different types of cheeses and learn how to make mozzarella ourselves.  Next, we will taste limoncello and learn the Italian secrets to producing it.  We will return to the Villa around 2:15.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 9.27.03 AM
Limoncello farm

Our final evening will be spent with the Chef preparing us a dinner in the Villa.  The menu will be caprese salad, grilled eggplant, bruschetta, dessert, and wine.

Saturday

10:00 am- We will check out of the Villa and head to Rome!  Private transportation will take us the 4 hour journey to Rome.

The rest of the adventure in Rome will begin!

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 9.27.46 AM.png

Today we will check into our new Villa, explore the area, and find a good spot for dinner!

Sunday

We will be exploring Rome on foot!  We will take in all of the sites and enjoy the city!

Monday

We will be touring Vatican City!  We will have a private guide to show us the history and help us steer clear of long lines.

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Vatican City

Tuesday

We will be heading to the airport and going back home, but this time as husband and wife!

 

Things to Consider

  • Remember transportation!  Most people will tell you not to drive in Italy or rent a car there.  It isn’t worth the stress or potential fines that most people say they receive for some type of driving infraction.  The good thing is that private transportation is readily available!  You have to make sure you set it up for each place you go!  If you want to go to dinner, you need to get there and back.  If you do on a tour, you need to get to the starting point and back to your Villa, etc.
  • Our Villa had an in-house Event Coordinator who I worked with to plan all of our excursions and dinners, which was AMAZING.  Check and see if this is an option for you!  It makes a world of a difference having someone who knows the area and good times to go see certain sites.
  • If you do have an event coordinator, keep these emails in your binder that I mentioned in the last wedding post.  You will want to stay organized and make sure you have confirmations on everything!
  • Having dinners out with a big group is very challenging if not impossible at times.  The restaurants in Italy are not big, so trying to find a place to accommodate a large party will be a headache each time you try to go get a meal.  This is why we opted for in-Villa dinners with a chef.  We all get to relax and be together with no worries about finding a table!  In the end, the price evens out because we do not have to pay for transportation to a restaurant, so it’s totally worth it!
  • Another tip I have is to see if someone who works for the Villa will get your group groceries before you arrive.  This way, you all have something you like when you get there and you don’t have to go out to find breakfast or lunch!
  • Take all of your plans into consideration when packing!! Good walking shoes are a must!  Check the weather before hand and make sure you are prepared!

 

I hope this post helps other people organize their trip!  It is a lot of work, but SO worth it!  Let me know other places you visited on your Amalfi Coast, Italy trip!

 

How To Plan A Destination/International Wedding

April is here!!! I can barely believe it because exactly 1 month from today I will be boarding a plane to head to my WEDDING in Italy!  I have been planning this wedding for about a year now, and I am beyond excited that it’s almost time for it to happen!  With that being said, I want to start a 4 part weekly series of wedding blog posts to share some of my planning efforts!  Let the wedding countdown and month of posts begin!

 

Planning an International Wedding

Choosing your Destination

Soooo many people (and I mean almost everyone) ask us “why/how did you choose Italy to get married?”  We had been engaged for 3 years when we starting seriously planning and our choice was made pretty simply.  We toured several venues, all of which were gorgeous and located on Amelia Island in Florida.  Not only were the locations beautiful, they were extremely expensive.  I could see us getting married there, but I wasn’t necessarily “in love” with the venues because it just seemed overpriced and over the top.  Here’s how I saw it: a 4 hour, $150 per person dinner party that will cost you at least $20,000.  My fiance and I met in high school, and one of the places we had always said we wanted to visit together was Italy.  Specifically, I’ve seen pictures of the Amalfi Coast and dreamed about going for years now.  After talking with my parents about my venue dilemma, they asked me: if you could get married anywhere, where would you do it?  Without hesitation I said the Amalfi Coast of Italy and whipped out my Pinterest board filled with pictures of my dream vacation.  They responded by reminding me of the absolute truth–that life is short.  If we wanted to get married in Italy, why not do it?

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Amalfi Coast, Italy

So we decided we would do it, we would get married in Italy (still crazy to say)!  That was our perfect location!  What you have to keep in mind when choosing your destination is how this will effect your potential guest list.  For us, we never wanted a “big” wedding, so we were totally fine with it.  I always pictured myself with an intimate wedding and maybe a party later, but I knew I just wanted my very closest friends and family to actually be there when I got married.  There are a lot of people who will not be able to come to a destination wedding, and that’s okay!  At the end of the day, the wedding is about you and your significant other, and that is it.  After we told everyone what we were doing, we started planning away!

Finding a Place to Stay

After choosing your date and deciding on the amount of time you want to spend at your destination, step 1 is to make sure you can find good lodging!  We knew we wanted to go in May because the weather would be perfect, and after looking at dates for school and work, we settled on our trip lasting from May 4th to the 15th with our wedding day on the 10th pretty much because we liked the number and we could have the ceremony whenever we wanted.

Next, we started researching places to stay and I highly suggest using VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner).  We thought it would be best if our group could all stay together to make everything easier, so we narrowed our searches to having the right amount of bedrooms.  Pretty quickly we came across a 10 bedroom/10 bathroom Villa overlooking the Amalfi Coast and I fell in love.  It had amazing reviews left from several people who got married in Italy–which was so perfect!  We contacted the owner and it couldn’t have been better because he introduced us to his in-Villa event coordinator and a wedding planner, how lucky were we!?

Find a Wedding Planner

Planning an international wedding is not easy.  The hardest part is trying to figure out all of the legal documents needed to have an actual wedding–most of which are in Italian.  You need to visit the U.S Consulate here with several forms filled out, bring a translator with you, have your birth certificates translated into Italian and printed out, bring all of that with you to Italy, and then follow another long series of appointments at the Italian Consulate so receive the proper paperwork.  If one thing is wrong, the wedding isn’t happening.  So for me, I knew I wanted to hire someone in Italy that could help me make sure I had everything in order and make that process a smoother one.  The owner of the Villa introduced me to the Book of Dreams owner, Alessandra, and she quickly began helping me plan everything I had been envisioning.  If you choose this route, make sure you know what they offer as far as helping you with legal paperwork.  Alessandra makes appointments in Italy for you, fills out forms, and offers to go with you to appointments  in Italy so that you have someone who speaks Italian with you.

There is no way we could have planned this wedding without a professional planner based out of Italy.  She knew the area, gave advice on locations, contacted every vendor and made all arrangements, and has been making sure everything will be in order for our big day.

Start Planning Wedding Day Details

Your planner will most likely have a list of vendors lined up that they generally work with.  First, we chose the venue.  I knew I wanted to get married somewhere outside and by the water, which is why she suggested Villa Fondi and I immediately agreed.

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Villa Fondi, our wedding venue

Keep in mind that in order to legally get married in Italy, you have to get married at a town hall location.  Italian town halls are clearly not like what we are used to, because most of them have gorgeous balconies or gardens for a beautiful wedding!

After the venue comes transportation to and from the wedding (I will talk more about transportation later, but I highly suggest having someone drive you everywhere and not driving yourself), flowers, photography, decorations, makeup and hair, music, and your reception.  All of this is just whatever package you prefer!  Think about what colors you want, what flowers will be in season, what hair would go best with your dress, it’s time to break out your Pinterest board and go to work!!!

Things to Consider

Transportation

  • Are you going to rent a car?  I suggest not, just because several people who have been to Italy have told me that they were constantly lost, the roads are windy, they got pulled over, and they overall wished they would have just had someone drive them who knew where to go.
  • Do you want to take a separate car the day of the wedding than your significant other?  I personally don’t want him to see me!  So I made sure to arrange for 2 vehicles.

Flowers

  • What colors do you want for your wedding theme?  I’ll be honest, you won’t have too many options because these venues only offer so much.  I went with red and white because I thought it would look beautiful next to the blue water.  From here, I just Pinterest searched bouquets and sent what I found to my planner!

Photography

  • Do you want just pictures or picture and video?  We decided to just go with photos because I couldn’t see us ever really watching a video again, plus it’s a big expense!
  • What pictures are must-haves for you?  This will help you choose the right package.  I knew I wanted some pictures of us getting ready at the Villa, pictures at the ceremony, and pictures of us cutting our cake (we aren’t having a traditional reception–it’s just our group of 12 adults and 1 child!).  I relayed what I was looking for, and this fit in a half-day package!
  • Make sure you ask how you will be getting your photos after everything is done.  It is common for them to mail you a USB drive once you leave Italy.

Decorations

  • Stick with your color theme!  You probably will get to choose the aisle color, chair color, and if you want to add any sashes to your chairs.  I wanted to add more color than just the flowers so I chose a red aisle to walk down, white chairs, and red sashes.

Makeup and Hair

  • My suggestion is to pick what looks best with your dress style.  Some dresses have so much detail and you want your hair mostly up to show it off.
  • Yes, I am a professional makeup artist.  No, I do not want to do my own makeup for my wedding.  I do other people’s makeup all of the time!  I want to relax on my wedding day and let someone else do mine.  Choose whatever works the best for you!
  • You will also be able to choose if you want a trial or just hair and makeup the day of the event.  I personally did not care enough to take a day out of my Italy vacation to go to a salon for a trial run, so whatever happens, happens!

Music

  • What do you want to hear when you walk down the aisle?  After a few hours of listening to YouTube wedding music played on various instruments, we chose a guitar player.  For the songs we wanted, it sounded so beautiful.
  • You get to choose songs for various parts of the ceremony.  We wanted to pick songs that we loved and that meant something to us.  Here is what we chose:
    • Arrival of the bride: Canon in D (Pachelbel)
    • Exchange of the rings: A Thousand Years (Christina Perri)
    • Signing of the register: Say You Won’t Let Go (James Arthur)
    • Exit of the couple: All of Me (John Legend)

Reception

  • How far are you willing to travel after your ceremony?  We did not want to have to go far, I wanted to keep that special feeling going right into the reception!  The venue we chose has a beach right below it that leads out to a restaurant on a jetty.  We wanted to have a really fun family dinner here on the water!  The restaurant had wedding dinner menus, cake options, and they play music, so this was perfect for us!  All within walking distance!
  • What type of atmosphere do you want?  Maybe you really want to dance!  It would be nice to choose a location with a dance floor and music.  Keep in mind the size of your group because renting an entire space for a small group might not have that “party” vibe to it.

Make a Binder

One of my biggest pieces of advice–STAY ORGANIZED.  As soon as we started planning, I started my huge binder.  Here are my binder sections:

Emails

Print out every email between you and your planner for future reference.  You will forget things she told you over this process and through all of your threads it gets hard to find in your inbox, trust me!  Highlight all of the important parts.

Receipts

Keep all of your receipts together!  You never know when you will need something.

Ideas

Print out Pinterest ideas!  Keep a list of things you see in magazines or random thoughts that come to you so that you can run them by your planner.

Spending/Prices

Make a document that has all of your potential spending points such as the venue, flowers, cost of the planner, etc. and fill in the quoted price as you go.  Mark what you have paid for when you send money!  This will help you keep track of your budget and make sure you know what prices to expect for your total bill.

Villa

Keep track of your reservation for the Villa along with your check-in and check-out times.

Wedding

I like to print out all of the package options and then highlight what I want to pick, that way I can look back and see what choices there were.

Itinerary

I will talk a lot more about this, but this trip is more than just a wedding!  It’s a vacation!  Here you can start planning all of the things you want to do while you are in Italy!

Get Flights

Start looking way in advance!  The farther out you book, the better chance of getting the best deal!  Also, keep in mind that there are certain times of the year where airlines offer specials!  Don’t forget to coordinate with the group you are traveling with.  I knew I wanted us to sit together for the long part of the flight, so we all bought our tickets at the same time and picked seats together.

Get All Important Documents

You will need to make sure that everyone has a valid passport!  You and your significant other also need your birth certificates, so don’t wait until the last minute to find all of your necessary paperwork!

Start Saving

Set savings goals for each month!  It will add up quickly and then you won’t be stressed as you get closer to your wedding date!  Almost everything will require that you pay cash in Euros once you get to Italy, so you really have the entire planning process to save money which makes it nice.  Don’t forget that on top of the wedding day essentials, you are on vacation and you will need daily food, money for excursions, etc.  Also, it is important to keep in mind that all of the prices you are quoted are usually in Euros!!  You need to convert the Euro to the Dollar and make sure you save accordingly.

Start Planning Itinerary

I will be making this part an entire separate post!  Just be sure that you start making a list of things you want to do while in Italy!  Do research, ask around, read blogs, get all of the ideas you can!  There are so many options and so little time, so make sure you pick things that are at the top of your list!  The hardest part will be deciding which day to do which thing, which takes a lot of time and patience to properly plan.  I will be sharing how I created our 10 day Italy itinerary in my next post!

Make a Wedding Website

This is an incredibly fun and easy way to stay organized, while also letting your destination wedding group know the plan!  It’s hard to always update people individually, especially when your head is in a million different places between planning an international wedding and real life in general.  I found that updating the website when I received new information from our wedding planner or our event coordinator was the best way to let everyone know what was going on.  I was sure to include prices, locations, and most importantly our itinerary.  It’s been so nice to refer back to now that I started to pack my clothes and organize our budget, you just pull up your site and you have prices of each excursion, transport, and dinner!  I thought that The Knot was a great way to make a website–plus it’s free!

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Find Your Dress and Get the Tux

Dress shopping is FUN!  You basically get to feel like a princess the entire day!  I can’t wait to share the dress that I picked after our wedding and we get our pictures back!  I’ve been keeping it a secret from most people!  Give yourself plenty of time for alterations and to pick accessories.  You will learn a lot at the alteration appointment–such as if you want a veil, if you want to add cups, if you want a crinoline slip, etc.  Bring your shoes to check your height and just enjoy it!

Make sure that you go look at tuxes with enough time to get alterations done to it as well.  I must say, the tux shopping is much more simple and laid back than the dress!  Here you do have the chance to add in your wedding colors and see your future hubby in his wedding day attire (heart face emoji for sure).

Get Wedding Accessories

Don’t forget to pick out jewelry and shoes!  Also, decide on a veil or hair piece!  There are so many options, so don’t get overwhelmed and just try and think what you can picture for yourself in your dress.  My parents surprised me with the most gorgeous necklace, earrings, and bracelet set of pearls for my wedding day.  Pearls are timeless, classic, and very bridal, which makes them perfect!  I wanted cute heels for our pictures, but I also bought a pair of rose gold sparkly Toms for the reception!  Keep your comfort in mind, it is likely to be a long night and I knew I wouldn’t last in heels!

Order Wedding Favors & Gifts

Etsy is a magical, wonderful place filled with so many creative things!  I ordered our wedding gifts and favors from different vendors on here, and I am thrilled with each purchase.  I can’t talk about the gifts just yet, but I can’t wait to share them after the wedding!  They turned out so good!  For wedding favors, I know our group is small, but I really wanted something with our date on it so we could all have a keepsake.  I found the cutest shop that had Italy themed favors and she worked with me to make can coolers and wine glasses!  Check out String Bird Bridal for some awesome wedding ideas.

Don’t Forget the Pets

You will need to arrange for petsitting/boarding for your trip!  Do this in advance, you never know how quickly people can book up!  We have one cat and one dog, so we had to do something different for each one.  For the cat, she is most comfortable at home and would be too upset to be boarded for that long.  We bought a security camera from Amazon that allows us to both hear what’s going on and talk through the camera.  This way we can see our baby while we are gone!  It also gives peace of mind when having someone come into your home to check on your pet.  I can make sure her food bowl gets filled and that she is safe and happy.  For the dog, I suggest checking out doggy day care centers that also board!  During the day, she gets to run around, swim, and have play time.  At night, she gets a room to herself with a bed and a video camera so we can see her!  I’m already nervous to leave our girls, but knowing they are safe will help ease the worry of traveling so far.

Extra Things to Keep in Mind

  • Credit Cards
    • Don’t forget to call your credit card companies and let them know you are traveling internationally.
  • Cell Phones
    • Check out what international plans your phone company offers.  Don’t turn on phones that you don’t have to use while you are over there, because you will rack up bills just by receiving texts and using data to get notifications.  Choose a designated phone to use as the calling and texting phone and add the international plan to that one!
  • Clothes
    • Start thinking about what you will be doing during the day on your trip and planning accordingly!  I will have a separate post on packing, but grab items here and there that you know you will want on your trip.  For example, I personally wanted a few cute “bride to be” things to wear leading up to the big day!  Just keep your eye out over the course of wedding planning so you are not stressed at the end trying to desperately find cute outfits!
  • Beauty
    • A post on this will be coming soon!  Start thinking of things you want to do to get ready for your big day in the realm of skincare and makeup!  I can’t wait to share what I have been doing and my suggestions!
  • Cash
    • Almost everything you reserve will need to be paid for with cash Euros when you arrive in Italy.  Make sure you head to your bank and order the correct amount of Euros that you need ahead of time to save A LOT of money in conversion fees at the airport.

 

There it is!  My list of everything I can think of that I have been working on for the past 11 months or so.  It’s surreal that my day is almost here, so I hope that this list helps other future brides who are thinking about doing a destination wedding!  All I can say so far is if you have been thinking about it, do it.  I am so incredibly excited that we are doing our wedding this way!  Yes, it is very different and there are sacrifices you have to make in order to travel to another country for your wedding, but so far I think it is worth it.  Your money goes A LOT farther, and you get an entire vacation out of it rather than just a one night party!  Let me know any questions you might have and I look forward to sharing 3 more wedding posts with you soon!

 

 

 

The Four Agreements

For my first blog post of 2018, I wanted to share something that could not only help you to have a great year, but it could change your outlook on life.  I was told to read The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz for my yoga teacher training, and once I started it, I could not put it down.  As you can see above, my copy is covered with post it notes because there were so many good parts to mark and go back to!  As soon as I finished it, I started telling everyone to read it!  I have given this book as a gift several times and everyone who has read it has said the same thing–it is nothing short of amazing.  The premise is pretty simple: if you practice 4 principles in your every day life, you will always have happiness and love.

The First Agreement:  Be Impeccable with your Word

The Second Agreement:  Don’t Take Anything Personally

The Third Agreement:  Don’t Make Assumptions

The Fourth Agreement:  Always Do Your Best

Sounds pretty easy, right?  Understanding them is easy, but living by these principles is a daily challenge.  While it will be hard to change patterns and think about things in a different way, these agreements will change your life–all in only 138 pages!

This book is based on Toltec wisdom that Miguel Ruiz learned from his family.  The first question you might ask is why are these called “agreements”?  The book explains that when you are a child, you always “agree” with what adults tell you.  If an adult tells you that you are bad, you believe them.  If they tell you that you are smart, you believe them.  Everything children know to be true was formed through “agreements” that they did not know any better than to make with the adults.  As we grow older, we can begin to question these agreements and make our own new ones: hence the idea of the four agreements that we need to make to live our best life.

Be Impeccable with your Word

This means that whatever you say, mean it.  Speak clearly and truthfully, and most importantly, do not speak against yourself.  Be positive towards yourself and others and be aware of the power of words.  If you tell yourself “I’m not good enough, I won’t succeed at that”, then the chances are you won’t.  One of the examples in the book that gets me every time is a story about a mother who just got home from work, exhausted and with a pounding headache.  Her daughter is in a good mood, dancing and singing around the room.  With very little patience left, the mom snaps at her daughter, and tells her “be quiet!  No one wants to hear you sing!”.  That little girl hears those words, and takes them to heart.  She no longer sings in her school chorus, she stops sharing her voice, and she grows up thinking that she shouldn’t sing because no one wants to hear her.  I’m sure the mom didn’t mean it–she was just tired and irritable–but because she was not impeccable with her word, in that instant she changed her daughter’s outlook on herself.  Always remember how your words can effect yourself and others.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing that someone else does is because of you.  This goes for both positive and negative things.  If someone says “you are great!”, don’t take it personally.  If someone says “you are terrible!”, don’t take it personally.  Once you stop succumbing to the opinions or actions of other people, you can be really free and form your own reality, not theirs.  How others act is often a reflection of themselves, not of you, so do not let others project themselves onto you.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Making assumptions can be one of the most detrimental things we do in relationships with others.  When you think about it, you begin to realize how many fights or arguments were started all because of an assumption.  We often times think we know what someone is thinking or what they mean.  If we stopped assuming and started speaking clearly and asking questions to clarify, we would avoid a lot of unnecessary drama and frustration.

Always Do Your Best

No matter what you are doing, do your best, not less and not more.  Do not try and do better than your best by pushing yourself too hard.  Do not do less than your best and open yourself up to be disappointed and judge yourself harshly.  Also keep in mind that your “best” will change over time as life circumstances change.  As long as you are trying to be your best self, you can never regret it and you will always be proud of your decisions.  When you come to a crossroads and need to make a choice–ask yourself, “am I doing the best that I can here?”  Living life this way will never be a negative thing.

So there you have it, with just four agreements you can change your life!  Reading this book will be one of the best things you do!  There are so many eye-opening examples and each one has a different lesson to be learned.  Whether you are a newlywed looking to communicate with your partner, someone going through new stages of life, or just a person who wants to feel better, this one is for you.

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My Four Agreements bracelet from the Etsy shop Positively Abundant 

 

Here’s to an amazing 2018 filled with health and happiness!

Current Hair Care Must-Haves

During my undergrad at Florida State, I was able to work in a hair salon as a receptionist.  This job allowed me to learn so much about different brands and what exactly my hair needed as I was surrounded by talented stylists all day long!  In general, I have curly hair with oily roots.  I used to have very dry hair (probably due to having access to free hair color all of the time!), but I have a few products that truly saved my hair and brought it back to life again.  These products are my must-haves in order to keep my hair soft, healthy, and clean!

Oils

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It might seem pretty counterintuitive to put oils on oily hair, but just like oils for the face, these work magic.  My two favorite oils are the Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil and the Verb Ghost Oil.  I love to do one pump of each, mix them together, and apply the oils to my wet hair from the middle of my head by my ears down to my ends.  To me, these oils are similar but different enough that I like to have both.  The Invisible Oil is a thinner, more liquid consistency than the Ghost Oil.  There is a pretty big price difference between these two ($40 for Bumble and Bumble VS $16 for Verb), so if you are just picking one I would go with the Ghost Oil.  I never dry my hair without one of these!  They leave your hair silky soft, and protect your hair from heat!  When my hair was at its driest point, I think that these oils were the key ingredient to restoring shine and softness.

Styling Products for Damp Hair

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After I use my oils, I always spray the Living Proof Restore Perfecting Spray all over my damp hair.  I have always had really tangled hair–no matter what I do, brushing it is just a struggle sometimes!  This spray is the best detangler I have used.  Not only does it get rid of any and all knots with a few sprays, it gives strength to damaged hair, provides shine, and it is a heat protectant up to 400 degrees!  I first received this in a sample size, and after I used up the entire little bottle, I knew it was a new holy grail product for me!

Next, I decide whether I am planning to wear my hair curly or straight.  If I want curls, I use a dime sized amount of my Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer and scrunch my hair all over.  I love this stuff!  All of Aveda’s products smell amazing, and this one really gives my curls definition without making them crunchy or letting them be frizzy.  If I’m wanting straight hair, I apply Aveda Smooth Infusion Style Prep Smoother.  The main reason I use this product is because it provides 12 hours of defense against humidity–I live in Florida, so this is very essential!

Styling Product for Dry Hair

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Whether I am wearing my hair curly or straight, I use this bad boy every day.  If the smell of this product doesn’t sell you right away, then the results will!  This gives you amazing volume with just one spray.  It is an aerosol spray that leaves no cast or residue.  If you want an instant lift at the roots, the Living Proof Dry Volume Blast is the product for you.

Dry Shampoos

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If I had to pick my “desert island” hair product, without a doubt it would be dry shampoo.  I depend on this stuff and use it every single day.  I personally use dry shampoo to get rid of oil at my roots, not really to add any texture.  I want dry shampoo to clean my hair and keep it that way throughout my day.  Are these three options pricey?  Yes.  Are they worth it?  Absolutely.  The first one I started using was the Bumble and Bumble Pret a Powder in the small bottle.  The salon I worked at was a Bumble and Bumble salon, so I was able to test out almost all of their products over my time there.  This was the one product I was obsessed with!  It is an actual powder form, and you just sprinkle it in the roots and rub in.  Watch your oil disappear and the volume begin!  Once I started using the newer aerosol dry shampoos, I transitioned this one into my kit that I use on clients and on film sets.  This is still a must-have for me because it works on every hair type and everyone loves it!

Next up is the sister to my beloved Pret a Powder–the Pret a Powder Tres Invisible Dry Shampoo.  This is a fairly new product, but my love for the original brought me to immediately buy this new one.  I love this so much!  What makes this product different is that it is a completely clear dry shampoo.  A lot of people are put off by the white cast that most dry shampoos leave, so this product eliminates that problem.  It really takes away oil and also lifts the roots–a win for me!

The Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo is one of the top rated dry shampoo products for a reason.  Once again, this Living Proof product smells amazing!  I get compliments when I use this!  This does come out as white, but it is easily worked into the hair and the white cast fades away.  What I love about this product is that it actually cleans my hair.  It literally feels like I just washed it!  You wouldn’t even know I had used dry shampoo!  So many of these products can leave your hair feeling very gritty and you can no longer run your fingers through your hair–but not this one.  This dry shampoo takes away oil and leaves no trace!

Styling Tool

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My favorite way to style my hair is to do the “beachy waves” look with my short hair.  I have tried many different curling irons, and this Bed Head Curlipops 1 1/4 inch Styling Iron is by far the absolute best if you are wanting that messy curly look!  A wand takes getting used to, but I prefer it over a curling iron.  I even used this to do big loose curls on a bride recently!

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My hair styled with the curling wand!

These are my favorite hair products that I can’t be without!  Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or what some of your must-haves are!

Monthly Favorites: October

Tomorrow is the last day of October and I can barely believe it!  I feel like this month flew by, but honestly this whole year has flown by!  Monthly favorites are some of my absolute favorite YouTube videos to watch, and when I started this blog I knew I wanted to include my own version.  While most of these favorites may fall under the “beauty” category, I also wanted to include just my general favorite products that I have been loving this month!

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MAC Nourishing Pro Longwear Foundation

Price: $35

My first favorite for the month has to go to this foundation.  I picked this up when I was doing my friend’s makeup for her wedding and then I started loving it myself!  It is my go-to foundation specifically for a night out or for an event.  It is waterproof, sweat proof, basically bullet proof.  The reason I love this for events is also because it has no SPF in it, therefore there is no flashback if anyone is taking photos.  I think this foundation glides right on, and the “nourishing” aspect doesn’t make it too drying for me.  You can also use this as a foundation or as a concealer, and as a previous fan of the Pro Longwear Concealer , I actually prefer this new version more.  I pick this as my must-have for any brides as well!

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Marshmallow Fireside Wallflower

Price: $6.50 regularly but they constantly have sales for $3.50

Now for a non “makeup” favorite item!  October is my favorite month of the year.  Yes, my birthday is in October (which is fun I can’t lie), but I love October because it finally starts to feel like fall!  I am one of those people who loves pumpkin EVERYTHING and I think fall scents are by far the best.  So when October rolls around it is totally acceptable for me to decorate my house and make everything smell like fall and I take full advantage!  Every year I can’t wait for the release of the Bath and Body Works fall candles and wallflowers, and this year I discovered what I think is my favorite scent of all: Marshmallow Fireside.  I can’t even describe how delicious and warm this smell is!  I have been obsessed and buying more of these all month so I just had to include it here.

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Swatch of “Smoldering Satin” Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow

 

Stila Magnificent Metals

Price: $24

I have seen these little liquid eyeshadows all over YouTube, and I always wanted one!  I finally decided to pick one up from Ulta, and basically now I want them all.  These are  amazing!!  If you want to add a little something to an eye look for a night out, these are perfect.  The sparkle and glitter is so pretty!  I picked mine up in the shade “Smoldering Satin” and I think the undertone of this is great.  It’s like a taupey/brown with silver and I specifically thought I would use it with my Natasha Denona 2 palette which I reviewed in my last post.  I wore this shadow when I met Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper (also in a previous post) and I received complements on it all night long.  Also, the staying power is impressive!  Once you apply this to your lid and it dries, it isn’t going anywhere.  I do suggest doing your eye makeup first with this because when initially blending, there will be fallout.  But once it’s set, you are good to go!

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“Zebra” on top and “Kween” on bottom

 

Colourpop Ultra Metallic Lip in “Zebra” and “Kween”

Price: $6 each

If you love makeup, you have probably heard of this up and coming company Colourpop that offers insanely good products for an extremely low price.  They are taking the makeup world by storm, and the fact that they launch in Sephora this week just proves that.  I started buying from Colourpop around 3 years ago when the only thing they sold was eyeshadow pots!  They have grown a lot, and actually one of my favorite products they have now are their liquid lipsticks and glosses.  When I start transitioning into “fall” makeup, I always reach for those deeper, richer colors.  I also am a big fan of the metallic looking lip to pop on with a cozy sweater (might as well hand me a PSL).  These lip products hit all of that for me!  They are not drying, they have the perfect amount of metallic (not too much at all), and they stay put.  What more could you ask for?

 

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Bath and Body Works Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte Line

Price: $13.50-16.50

Did I mention that I love the scent of marshmallows and pumpkin?  This line from Bath and Body Works is my favorite!  The thing that I love about Bath and Body Works is the COUPONS.  They have probably some of the best coupons out there because I almost always end up getting free items.  So in order to pick up the entire line, I had to strategize and stack coupons.  Basically they almost always offer “spend $10 get a free item up to $13.50”.  Then I use my 20% off coupon, and on top of that they usually do “buy 2 body care items, get 1 free”.  All of these combine for such a good deal!  This was my first time using the shower body scrub, and I have to say I think it is such a nice touch.  Exfoliating feels so nice and leaves you so soft!  Then I like to use the matching lotion and body spray and voila!  I match my house and smell like a marshmallow pumpkin fall-obsessed person :).

There you have it, my favorite items during the month of October!  Let me know what your favorite products were this month!

 

Find Three Hobbies You Love

Pinterest is full of wonderful things.  From crafts to recipes to outfits, I love scrolling through Pinterest and getting new ideas.  The other day I was doing my usual perusing and I scrolled right over this quote: “Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.”  I immediately stopped scrolling and pinned this.  This was what I had been looking for, without even knowing that I needed to see it.

You go to college and right away you are told to pick a major.  Pick what you want to study and do for the rest of your life.  For some of us, we just know, we are drawn to a certain field and the choice comes naturally.  For others (ehh em, hi that’s me), we have no idea what we want to eat for lunch, much less what we want to do with our lives.  I loved school, I always have!  I wanted to take classes, learn, and enjoy college life.  But the entire time I felt the pressure to choose my future weighing down on me.  All I knew was that I was so intrigued by the brain and psychology that I wanted to keep taking those classes and pursing it while working in the department.  Then you blink, and it’s time to graduate.  And here you are with a degree in Psychology, some research experience, and no idea what to do with that.  Next, you end up finding out about this other field you never knew about, Speech-Language Pathology, and you are ready to dive right in.  But wait!  You were rushed right through undergrad and had to pick a major, and you didn’t pick the major for Speech Pathology, so good luck with that.  So now, you have to find a graduate program that will allow you to catch up on prerequisites so you can follow this path.  But is this the right path?  I mean, you have so many interests!  And this is the rest of your life we are talking about!  See how stressful this can be?  That’s where this awesome quote comes in.

I know I can’t be the only one out there who has felt completely overwhelmed by making huge life choices all without completely 100% knowing if they were right.  For years, I have worried about if I was picking the right major, shadowing the right people, doing the right research, you name it.  I had so many things that I loved to do, and I felt like I needed to pick one and stick with it.  But guess what, you don’t have to pick just one!  I know, this feels like the opposite of what school told you for four years, but it’s true.  I ALWAYS had teaching yoga and doing makeup in the back of my mind.  Every time I was in the library studying, I had the “what if” thought.  The reason I truly love this little Pinterest picture is because your “work” should be a hobby, and you should have more than one.  I wasn’t wrong for loving more than one thing.  My career in Speech Pathology will make me money and fulfill me as I get to truly help others.  Teaching yoga will keep me in shape, and it will give me the chance to show others how to live the best life possible through the mind, body, and spirit.  Doing makeup and blogging will allow me to express my creative side, try new things, and step out of my comfort zone every day.

I am extremely lucky to have a family and a partner who support me more than I could ask for.  When I doubt myself, they pick me back up.  When I question everything I’m doing, they make me take a deep breath and tell me it will all work out.  Life is all about balance, and even though it may be “normal” to pick one thing and commit to it, that doesn’t mean that is the only way to live your life.

So have three hobbies.  Have five, have twenty-seven!  Whatever makes you HAPPY.  Life is way too short to “wonder” or have “what ifs”.  Follow your passions, do something that freaks you out, and always do your best.  That is part of what pushed me to start this blog.  That, and my support system.  I must say, I am having the time of my life doing all three of my favorite hobbies and I can’t wait to see where they take me.

 

I Met Andy Cohen & Anderson Cooper: DREAMS COME TRUE

I am seriously still pinching myself to make sure this past weekend was real–it felt like a dream!!!

My fiancé planned out a surprise weekend in Tampa for us, and it was COMPLETELY AMAZING.  I still can’t get over it.  I wanted to share what we did not only because I am still so excited about it, but also because I thought it might give some people ideas about what to do for their next date weekend!

We arrived in Tampa on Saturday and it was our first time ever visiting this city, and it was beautiful!  Almost everywhere we drove we could see the water, which I loved.  We checked into the hotel, got all ready, and that is when the fun began!  We headed to dinner at the Capital Grille and had one of the best dinners, I highly recommend the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese!  Then, I was told we had an event to get to!  When we arrived at the Straz Center, I knew what was happening.  I was here to see AC2!!!!  I had been dying to see this event ever since I first heard about it way back in February.  To say I am a big fan of Andy Cohen is an understatement.  I have watched his shows and all of the shows that he produces for years and they are some of my absolute favorites.  From “Watch What Happens Live” to “Flipping Out” to “The Real Housewives of Everywhere” to “Love Connection”, Andy Cohen is a TV genius.  Not only do I think he makes amazing television, I have always thought he seemed hilarious, genuine, and kind.  Plus, we are both from St. Louis!  As much as I am all about Andy, I also think that Anderson Cooper is an amazing human.  His stories of loss (his brother’s suicide and his father’s passing when he was young) and how that shaped him are inspiring.  He is dedicated and incredibly passionate about his job, and he is also Andy’s best friend for over 20 years!  So basically, seeing them both in an event was all I could ask for.

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Cheers to an amazing evening!

As for the event itself, I won’t say too much other than if you have the chance to see it, DO IT.  I don’t think I stopped laughing once.  Both Andy and Anderson asked the audience to please not post anything about the event or the stories about their lives or other celebrities that they shared; it truly was a night of them talking to the audience like we were all old friends.  I learned so much about both of them and I kept wishing it wouldn’t end!

Now we get to the BEST PART EVER.  The show ends and we get VIP passes to go backstage and get autographs and pictures with Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper.  I. Am. Freaking. Out.  As soon as I get in line, I realize that standing right in front of us is Kate Chastain from Below Deck!  As I mentioned before, Bravo is my favorite channel, so I love all of the shows and I immediately motion to my fiancé—Look who it is!!!  She was super nice and took a picture with me, this night is just on a roll.

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Standing in line with Kate Chastain–Chief Stewardess on Below Deck!

When I get up to meet Andy and Anderson I am full blown shaking with excitement!  They asked me my name, shook my hand and gave me a hug, they asked me about my wedding, and we took pictures!  It was insane.  They were even nicer than I thought they would be.  I remember Anderson introducing himself, “Hey! I’m Anderson, what’s your name?” and I’m like YOU’RE ANDERSON COOPER YOU DON’T HAVE TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF OMG!  But that is just the type of person he is, extremely humble and kind.  After pictures I was handed autographed copies of both of their books, and I couldn’t believe what had just happened!  What a night.  It is safe to say that I did not sleep on Saturday.

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Totally fan-girling about getting to meet Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper!
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My face when Andy asked me about coming to my wedding!

We get up on Sunday and my face is pretty much frozen in a smile.  We head out for the next surprise and I have no idea what to expect.  We arrive at the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary  to go on a tour and I am so excited!!!  I am a crazy cat lady, so that includes cats of all sizes of course.  If you get the chance to come here, do the Keeper Tour!  You will not regret it!  You get to make toys and treats for the cats and go with the Keeper as she gives them out and teaches you about the species.  The key part of this tour is that the cats know that the Keeper gives them the good stuff, so they come right up to her!  You get to see tigers, lions, bobcats, servals, and more right in front of you.  She even works with them on commands and you get to watch the whole thing.

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This sanctuary is pretty amazing.  They are completely non-profit, and the keepers are all volunteers.  The money from your tour buys a meal for the cats, as does anything from the gift shop.  They work so hard to rescue and provide care for these cats, most of which were horribly mistreated and it makes your blood boil just thinking about it.  At the end of the tour, our keeper informed us of the best way that we can help these animals, and I encourage you to check it out as well.  She explained that they have a bill they are trying to get passed called the Big Cat Public Safety Act.  If passed, this will restrict anyone from breeding or possessing exotic wildlife species.  It will also make amendments that will enhance the quality of life for big cats if someone does currently own one.  Currently, the minimum requirements for a cage for a big cat barely allows them to move.  They could stay in this cage for their entire life.  This bill aims to make new requirements that ensure they are properly cared for.  She handed out cards to us that will help get this law in place, and I am happy to share it!

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You would think that the surprises would stop there–how much more can my heart handle!?  We ended the trip with a surprise lunch at….drum roll please…Portillo’s!!! If anyone has had an original Portillo’s Chicago dog in Chicago and then searched for them other places, you would know that they are not all created equal.  I had no idea that they had a location in Tampa, so I was pumped!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

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What is a “Chicago Dog” you ask?  An all-beef hot dog with mustard, relish, celery salt, onion, tomatoes, a pickle, and peppers all on a poppy seed bun.  Just try it.

All in all, it was a weekend I will never forget!!!  Please let me know in the comments what other Tampa things I need to check out next time I’m there!