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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Self Care Tips for SAH Moms of Tots

Having a little human to run around after, all day long, is exhausting. Being a mom is amazing and ultra-rewarding but many of us fail to carve out a little time to do things that benefit…us. In honor of Mothers Day coming up, here are some of my favorite tips to help you find yourself again 🙂 

Be Thankful. There is always something we can be happy for. Be happy if you have a healthy child. Be happy that your husband has a good job. Be happy that your best friend got a promotion. Be happy that your in laws are taking a nice vacation. Sometimes we have to look outside ourselves and be thankful for what our loved ones are experiencing. 
Have a cozy corner. For me, it’s our oversized couch in the family room, where I’ll plop myself down to read after I’ve put Frankie down for a nap. It can be your front porch, a bench in your backyard, a stoop on your back door. Find a little spot where you can go and have a few minutes to yourself from time to time.

Move more! You knew this was coming 😉 Exercise gives us endorphins. I’ve been loving running with Frankie lately, but if you don’t have a jogging stroller, there’s other things you can do. Find a local exercise studio that has babysitting and being your kid along. Go to the park and do air squats and jumping jacks as you push your child on the swings. Hold plank while you build Lego masterpieces on the floor. 


Pamper yourself. Use products that make you happy. I became a Rodan+Fields consultant a year ago after looking for new anti-aging products. The products are really top notch and do what they’re meant to do. It may be hard to have both a morning and nighttime routine when you’re a tired mom, but there’s always something you can do. Have a mini regimen and stick to it every night. Invest in that great eyecream and moisturizer. Give yourself a mini facial once a month. Buy a pretty lipstick. And always wear sunscreen!


Find a (Mom) Tribe. A mom tribe is obviously ideal because you may all be going through the similar things, but don’t underestimate the benefit of having friends who are in different stages in life. It may be hard to have a social life when the kids are young but there’s other ways to find support. Have your single neighbors over for cocktails. Talk to the elderly lady who you see walking her dog every afternoon. There are people around us who are probably also looking to make new friends.

Unplug. Yes I love social media and think it’s great for keeping us connected to friends and family far away or for making new friends and acquaintances. But don’t forget to connect with the people that are right in front of you. I make it a point to not read emails or messages when I’m playing with Frankie. Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook sometimes is hard so I put my phone in another room or leave it charged. Also remember that people usually post their highlights and hardly ever show the backstage to their lives, so be easy on yourself when you see a mom who seems to have it all together. Who knows how long it took her to stage that photo that she shared. 

There are many other things that you can do to have your Me Time. These are just some of my favorite ones! 

Stay healthy mamas,

Julia

Frankie’s First Beach Trip

Yesterday we got back from a 4-day trip to Cape May down at Exit 0 of the New Jersey Turnkpike. It was Frankie’s first road trip and his first time at the beach. Although it took him a couple of days to really “get it,”by the last day, he was bouncing and splashing in the water with his Dad holding him up. 

First toe dips in the ocean.


Unfortunately he had a terrible diaper rash and tummy issues so I was a nervous wreck the whole time.  The first night was the worst- he was up way past his bedtime which led him to being cranky and overtired and waking up multiple times that night. Being out of his element and his routine was rough on all of us but overall we still a very nice time. Frank’s family was also spending time down there so we were able to sketch in some fun memories with Frankie for all.

We stayed at this lovely B&B that I found on Airbnb. Coopers Guest House was a very charming white colonial with teal trim. Located just a block and a half from the beach and a few blocks from downtown, its location was excellent. We were also only about 1 mile away from my sister in law’s house so meeting up with them didn’t take a long time.

Cooper’s Guest House.

Cute Colonials across the street.

Some more Colonial charm.


Friday night, Frank and I put Frankie to bed and snuck off to have a dinner date night at our favorite restaurant, 410 Bank Street. Their cuisine has a French-New Orleans medley with Caribbean flair. We both had our favorite dish there, the voodoo shrimp. I swear, this stuff must really do voodoo because it’s soo delicious you’ll take your bread and soak up the scrumptious sauce until your plate is practically clean and not even care.


At night, Frank and I would make a drink and bring Frankie’s monitor down to the front porch with us. One of my recent best ideas 👌🏻

Frankie loved the seagulls and all the small airplanes flying around. He was also fascinated by all the bicycles everywhere! It was a nice trip and even though I could’ve done without the diapey issues, our boy was a champ. We shared good laughs and Frankie got to spend some time with his Hickman family. 

Hickman cousins.


What road trips or beach trips have you taken this summer? 
Catch you later!

Xoxo

A Rodan+Fields Gift Guide for Mom

About 10 days ago, I decided to become an independent consultant for Rodan+Fields skincare. Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields are the two dermatologists behind the acne treatment line ProActiv, and are now focused on their anti-aging products among other amazing skincare essentials. I’m very excited about this small business of mine and hope you’ll think about buying from my online site when you’re in need of new skin goodies that actually work! Rodan+Fields is currently the number 1 fastest growing premium skincare company…and they are only being sold in the US and Canada right now. I’m just imagining the possibilities!
Previously sold in Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, Rodan+Fields was then taken out of retail and sold as a social commerce brand after market research showed that their customers were buying the products after hearing about it from their friends. I mean, seriously, that’s how I do a lot of my shopping, through family or friend recommendations. They have 0 advertising budget, yet they are mentioned in tons of beauty and other respectable magazines. Forbes recently said, “Rodan+Fields is increasingly rising to become one of the most well-respected skincare companies in the world.” Ahhmazing!

I took “before” pictures and look forward to sharing the “after” after a few months 🙂

To launch my new little side biz on the blog and since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, I thought I’d do a post on some R+F beauty loot perfect for Mom. Because we’re hard working, beautiful, intelligent women and we need to take care of our skin! Just like we take care of our bodies and our health. Have fun shopping!

1) Give Mom the gift of beautiful eyes with the REDEFINE Eye Cloths & Multi-function Eye Cream. Everything she needs to combat some of those signs of aging- crow’s feet, undereye circles, yuck!

$30 & $60

2) Pamper her with youthful-looking lips with the REDEFINE Lip Serum and ESSENTIALS Lip Shield.

$54

$16

3) Give her radiant, glowing skin with the ENHANCEMENTS Microdermabrasion Paste and the ESSENTIALS Foaming Sunless Tanner. Because we should not be doing real tans!

$78

$24

4) Treat Mom’s hard working hands to a deluxe makeover with the REDEFINE Hand Treatment Regimen and Age Shield Hand Balm. Bye, bye brown spots!

$67

$43

I highly suggest you order as a Preferred Customer when checking out to save 10% and get free shipping. You can always delay your orders if you’re not ready for the next shipment. Feel free to message me with any questions or if you’re not sure what you should be using.

Now, for a little fitness, here’s the WOD I did on Saturday after coaching:

Run 3 miles, then 3 rounds of:

1 Power Clean

10 Front Squats (75#)

20 Slow Mt Climbers

20 Slow Side Mt Climbers

My legs were on fire the next day!

Have a great Monday!

xoxo