How I planned my wedding 4 years ago

Since today marks my 4th wedding anniversary, I thought I’d write about my experience planning my wedding.

Rachel Miranda Photography

Photo by my friend Rachel of Rachel Miranda Photography

Frank and I were on the same page from the start about having either an early summer or early fall wedding, to avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures while enjoying beautifully bloomed flowers. We luckily got a date for June 21, 2014- 9 days before my 30th birthday and on the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice.

One of the first things I did was buy my wedding dress and shoes. My shoes were gold Christian Louboutin sandals that I bought on sale online before I got engaged. After the engagement, I decided to save them for my big day.

I had been looking at wedding dresses (and engagement rings) pretty much ever since I met Frank 😆 I saved photos of dresses I loved on my laptop and knew I wanted either a Vera Wang or Monique Lhuiller trumpet style dress. When I decided to start shopping for my dress, I did a lot of research on where to go to try and find a sample sale, as I did not want to spend $6000 -$8000 (which is the price range of the dresses I loved). I considered going to Kleinfeld’s sale but I don’t like the large, crazy crowd that it would probably attract and I also knew that I would probably not find a small size.

That’s when I stumbled upon the website Preowned Wedding Dresses. I loved the fact that they sell brand new dresses as well. I searched for a few months and saved a few dresses on my account. Then one day I logged back in and noticed that one of the Monique dresses I loved was for sale in my exact size, brand new, and in Hoboken, where I was working at the time. I exchanged a few messages with the girl selling it and then decided to meet her to try it on. To my luck, the bride had had buyers remorse and found another dress (so it wasn’t an “unlucky” divorce dress or anything). I took my mom and my cousin Patricia to go try it on. No fancy salon could’ve topped all the feelings I had when I put it on. It was my dress. Even though my mom was paying for my dress and told me not to worry about price, I felt great saving her thousands of dollars!

My mom added a custom belt to the dress which gave it a little bit of bling.

Having a ceremony at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the church my family attends, was a priority, so that helped us narrow down a possible reception location.

Rachel Miranda Photography
Photo by Rachel of Rachel Miranda Photography

I wanted something glam but with some antique touches like big chandeliers and gold-lacquered mirrors. I also wanted a little rustic feel like big barn doors. I envisioned a tent decorated with lights where people could dress up as much as they wanted or keep it simple if they chose to.

After touring a few locations, we chose The Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. A former dairy barn built by the Saint Elizabeth School Sisters across the street, I was charmed by the history and the small details, like a private small silo in an upstairs part of the building, where I could have some privacy as the bride.

The cocktail hour was held in the main area which featured beautiful antique chandeliers, fireplaces and a brick walls. The reception was held in an attached tent which was more like a stunning, large glass room, offering views of the beautiful gardens and a little bridge over a small koi pond. I got the location I had always dreamed of.

Our reception package included a 12-month membership to their members-only dining club. They’re now just finishing up a big renovation, and from photos on their website, my wedding tent looks very different- more luxurious than the rustic-glam feel I went for. I’m sure weddings they host going forward will be as beautiful and special as mine was for me four years ago.

My wedding coordinator recommended a local florist who designed my bouquet, the wedding party flowers and other floral arrangements. I wanted peach colored flowers and ended up selecting Juliet roses and peonies among other flowers. I also wanted a lot of green leaves in the bouquet to go with the rustic feel.

For music, we chose The Bachelor Boys after hearing them play at another wedding. We also hired a Paraguayan harpist who played during the cocktail hour as well as during dinner. My cousin, Nicole, also played a few songs on her harp.

My hair was done by my long-time hairstylist, Laura Gray of Bellizima Blowout Bar. She did a beautiful job of bringing my vision to life. I wanted a glamorous updo that could easily be brought down right before the reception to portray another look.

My makeup artist was Jenny from Illustrated Beauty in Somerville. She gave me a natural look with pale pink lips and some eyeliner and lashes. I put on a reddish-fuschia Chanel lip color right before the reception, again, to change up my look a bit.

My photographer was Andres Calle who captured beautiful moments of me getting ready at The Westin Governor Morris Hotel, the ceremony and the party.

I chose to also have a video of the ceremony and reception. Husband and wife, Of Ditty Photography. I wanted to be able to send my family in Paraguay a copy of the video so they could see my wedding.

My tips for brides currently planning their wedding is to give yourselves plenty of time. Don’t worry about the small stuff. Notice will notice it but you. If someone offers to help, accept it or give them a specific job (like doing the seating chart…that was one I disliked!).

At the end of the day, your wedding is going just a big party to celebrate the union of you and your new husband. Enjoy the whole process of getting there and enjoy the party even more!

Cheers,

Julia

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How Kate Spade Inspired My Style

This blog contains the word “fastinista” for a reason. I love love love fashion and brands and designers and even though this blog focuses a lot on running and working out, I want to make sure I still talk about my other passion. With recent events in the news, I feel called upon again to write more.

“Fastinista” is supposed to be a play on the words “fast” and “fashionista.” I may not always feel so fashionable in my “mom uniform” leggings and tank tops, but I still try to keep up with fashion as much as I can.

Let’s rewind back to my high school years when I would flip through magazines and learn about the latest fads. I collected magazine after magazine that I refused to throw away. Allure, Elle and Glamour were always at arm’s reach.

I first learned about Kate Spade bags from a good high school friend. It was a right of passage; it seemed like all the fashionable girls carried a Kate Spade bag to school. I borrowed my friend’s plain, black bag for a party to “test it out” and eventually saved up enough to purchase my own ivory and brown plaid “Sam” purse.

Photo from Tradesy

Shortly after, my mom gifted me the same black one that my friend had and I was beyond thrilled. Although they were certainly not cheap, at around $200 or just under, they were much more affordable than European brands that at the time I simply couldn’t afford.

Years later, while living in Atlanta, I began working as assistant manager at one of her stores. I remember telling the hiring manager the story of my first Kate Spade bag. It was a job I really, really enjoyed. Working in retail management in the South where customers were usually sweet and gracious was a far cry from my retail experience in north Jersey.

I unknowingly became a Kate loyalist. Always classic, with fun color combinations, her accessories have always been just girly enough to complete an outfit.

As my budget increased, my shoe and purse collection grew larger with other designers and brands. But a few things were still simply Kate: my agenda and my diaper bag, a summer clutch, shoes, and more handbags.

Kate built a brand that inspired so many. She was an amazing businesswoman. Such a tragedy that her life had to end the way it did. I truly hope her husband, daughter and the rest of her family and close friend find peace in their hearts to carry on.

Before I had the chance to publish this post, I found out about the tragic death of another icon: Anthony Bourdain.

With the outpouring of grief I saw on social media, I can tell I’m not alone in feeling like I knew him. When Frank and I traveled to San Francisco together for the first time in 2012, we followed some of his recommendations and visited some of the bars he had featured on one of his shows. He was an excellent writer and true adventurer. He even visited Paraguay where his great, great, great grandfather was rumored to have lived and been buried.

Anthony was mostly known for his food and travel, but his cool, laid-back style and silver fox appeal made him a very stylish guy in my opinion.

I leave you with a quote by him:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch. Move.”

Kate and Anthony may have been different in a lot of ways, but I would say they both inspired their fans to have adventures and live life colorfully…May they Rest In Peace.

Julia