Category Archives: Wedding

Wedding Wednesday: What I Learned from the Bachelorette Wedding

Like so many ladies (and gents), I watched the Bachelortette wedding Sunday night. Well, I watched most of it until the cable completely went out as they were about to say their vows. I took that as a sign it was probably time to dry my eyes and go to bed. But something earlier in the show, when Ashley and J.P. met with their wedding planner, really stuck with me. She seemed to ask them rapid-fire questions about what their visions were for style, colors, bridal party, flower girls, first dance, party favors, cake, food, bridal party gifts, and a million other things. Not once did she ask them whether they wanted any of these items in the first place and not once did Ashley and J.P. seem to stop and consider that question on their own.

That moment made it more clear to me than ever before that we need to be careful. Really, really careful. At times it can be easy to do things simply because you think you’re supposed to do them. From the start, we’ve tried to throw the rules out the window and make decisions about the day that are truly meaningful to us. The Bachelorette wedding was a great reminder to stick to that framework. I want to be really aware of framing the question, are we doing this? Before we ask how are we going to do it?

For instance, instead of “who’s going to sit at the head table?” we’ve asked,”are we having a head table?” (Probably not.) Instead of “what kind of flowers do we want for our centerpieces?” we’ve asked, “are we doing centerpieces and if so, what kind?” (TBD.) Instead of “what are our wedding colors?” we’ve asked, “are we having wedding colors?” (Nope.) Instead of “what kind of cake should we have?” we’ve asked “are we having a cake?” (Is the sky blue?)

I hope it doesn’t seem like wedding planning has been one long list of no’s for us–I promise it hasn’t (just see our big YES to a videographer, venue, and my yes to the dress). It’s just that unless we stop to consider these things it can quickly become a bunch of yeses without much purpose or meaning behind them. Heck, we even intentionally decided to have a traditional wedding in the first place. We discussed many other options like eloping to Europe or a having a much smaller family wedding before deciding it was truly important to us to be able to celebrate with our family and friends. Plus, I really, really, really want a big dance party–it’s my favorite part of any wedding. For our day, each yes we’ve made is an upper case YES with about 10 million exclamation points after it!

For the most part, many of our decisions are made with our priorities in mind. For me, decor is low on my list of priorities. Maybe I’m missing a gene, but I can’t get excited about overall design (one reason we chose a naturally beautiful and charming venue to begin with). I want to marry my guy and celebrate! I don’t want to worry about what colors our chair garlands (yeah, it’s a thing) should be. That’s why we’ve decided to put most of our budget and energy toward things that have to do with the overall experience (like a band, the venue, and some fun surprises for guests) vs. those that are about the details (though they will still get some attention). I already know the day and the space will be filled with so much love, joy, and romance. In my mind those are feelings no amount of flowers or candles could ever convey.

Just for fun I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite wedding inspiration that captures the simplicity I love so much.

What it's all about

What it’s all about. via 

Classic. Elegant. Perfection.

Classic. Elegant. Perfection. via

All you need is love. And an adorable groom. Done. via

If this doesn't look like two newlyweds having a blast at their wedding I don't know what does.

If this doesn’t look like two newlyweds having a blast at their wedding I don’t know what does. via

The moment I already can't wait for: Time to hit the floor and dance!

The moment I already can’t wait for: Hitting the dance floor with my new husband!! via

Wedding Wednesday

How To Know When You’ve Found The One
il_570xN.339444587Sketch (not of my dress) via 

You hear it, see it, and read about it all the time: The bride tries on a dress and the mother and bridesmaids immediately dissolve into a pool of tears. They know she’s found The One. Or the couple walk into a venue and immediately feel at home. It’s so “them.” They know they’ve found The One.

For me, the only part of the wedding planning process that’s given me tears in my eyes, butterflies in my tummy, and a knowing sense in my gut has been my guy. The rest? Not so much. This wedding planning jazz has actually caused me to be way more rational than I normally tend to be, which is hilarious in a way. The one time in life you’re given a free pass to be somewhat non-sensical, to make decisions from an irrational/emotional place, and to let your crazy flag fly is when my head has never been screwed on tighter. But I’m okay with that because it means our decisions have been deliberate and intentional every step of the way. Here are two recent examples.

The Venue

I truly thought we’d get that knowing feeling people talk about the moment we found the right place. We were on the same page with this all along: We wanted someplace warm and inviting that could host both the ceremony and reception and we knew a ballroom or loft (common options in Chicago) weren’t for us. We also wanted a place that offered plenty of character so we wouldn’t have to do too much in the way of decor. I knew for sure that moment would happen when we looked at a place in Vermont. After searching throughout Chicago (online and in person) I’d decided that a city wedding wasn’t for me. I’m no city slicker. I’m a take a hike with my dogs, fly down a ski hill, curl up by the fire kind of girl. Vermont had to be IT and my parents found a beautiful venue, an Inn, less than a mile from the vacation home we’ve had there for nearly 20 years. The location was both beautiful and meaningful and, in a way, a kind of hometown to me. It had to be The One. But when Robert and I toured the venue in October–the absolutely perfect venue–I felt nothing. In the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think about how much I’d fixate on the weather leading up to the wedding and if it rained the choice of having a destination wedding (where much of the day would be outdoors) would (quite literally) be awash.

The day before our trip to VT after some hardcore Googling I stumbled upon a venue, The Racquet Club of Chicago, less than 2 miles from our home. Just how hardcore was my Googling? They don’t even have a website. Robert and I were able to tour it that night and we liked it. A lot. Did I get any certain, knowing feeling that it was The One? Absolutely not. It wasn’t until after seeing the Vermont option that I started thinking about this place more and more. As we talked about it I began envisioning exactly how the day would unfold and flow from one area of the venue to the next. The place is nothing if not warm and inviting with chunky wood ceilings, giant floor to ceiling windows, old school chandeliers, a library, and fireplaces in every room. What’s more, the evening we saw the venue it was pouring rain outside and inside felt safe and cozy. While I’ll pray for sunshine on our big day, I can also rest assured that rain wouldn’t detract from our choice of location one bit.

Check out the nerdy/swoon-worthy library/bar via

emmatom_2115$!210xSo, for me, there wasn’t a moment or a feeling that it was The One.  The decision happened gradually, over time, and with lots of thought and discussion. Once we were able to really see and imagine what the day would look and feel like in that space it became The One.

(Side note: I may or may not drive past The Racquet Club in a slightly stalkerish manner every chance I get…)

The Dress

In an effort to prevent this post from going on for days (believe me it could) let me just say this about the dress: I found it during an appointment, which I attended alone, sandwiched between interviews at the oh so unromantic hour of 1 p.m. last Thursday. There was no champagne. There were no tears. (This coming from the girl whose eyes well up during a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial.) I didn’t even know the dress was The One. By the time I put this dress on I’d already tried on hundreds since August. Not one spoke to me. But after staring at an iPhone photo of myself in this dress  for well over 48 hours like an obsessive egomaniac I was pretty sure I was in love. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I even woke up in the middle of the night one night to look at the picture. Still, after finding that dress I went to three more appointments last week and found nothing that even remotely held a candle to how I looked or felt in the dress that would become The One. Ever since deciding it was The One (and getting measured and ordering it yesterday afternoon!!!!) I’ve never been more ecstatic/in love with a piece of clothing in my entire life. It’s perfect. Just like the venue, there was no distinct moment of clarity, but rather a gradual knowing that I’d found The One. Or perhaps it was simply the fact that the designer’s first name isn’t Monique, Vera, Jenny, Jim, Alexander, or Oscar.

It’s Robert.

Wedding Wednesday: Saying “I Do” To a Videographer

The second bouquet I caught in a year

Wedding Wednesday? Yes, I’ve officially gone off the blogging deep end. Swan dive and all. It’s just that after last week’s post about asking my bridesmaids I realized that blogging about our wedding is so. much. fun. I still can’t believe this is real life. Shortly after Robert proposed my sister said to me that I’m like romantic comedy happy. Nothing about that has changed.  Every decision we’ve made hasn’t been the easiest, but once we take the plunge we’re 100 percent committed to it and get even more excited about the big day.  That day just happens to be exactly 10 months or 304 days from today (achem, if anyone would like to produce us a flower girl you still have time…) See what I mean about the deep end? I can’t be held responsible for the things I say.

While I don’t plan on posting about the wedding for the next 40 or so weeks I’ll share any fun, new decisions or developments as they arise and seem blog-worthy.  We’ve made so many big decisions in the past month that a part of me wishes we chose an earlier date because we pretty much have all of the pieces in place. (So what if I have nothing to wear and would have to scrounge together a bouquet of flat leaf parsley and cilantro?)

The most recent development will happen today shortly after I hit “Publish” on this post when I’ll e-mail the signed contract and send the deposit to the videographer. Let me start by saying that when I dreamed about our wedding a videographer was never part of it. (And I really do mean “our” wedding; I never imagined what my wedding might look like until I met Robert and knew very early on that he was my forever.) The idea of a videographer only occurred to me after Robert proposed. It was such a huge surprise and I was so ecstatically blissed out that I barely remember it. When I call the memory to mind I can see Robert down on one knee in the park across the street from our new home and me standing there with both hands over my mouth saying, “Is this happening? Wait, is this really happening? OH MY GOD THIS IS HAPPENING!” In other words it’s an out of body experience based on what I think actually happened, but I can’t remember exactly what it felt like to be in my body in that moment. And I really wish I could. That experience made me realize that our wedding day may very likely cause mind-erasing bliss and I want to be able to remember it all.

Once I did some research and realized how big of an investment a truly great videographer is (if we’re going to do it we may as well go with the best) I put the question of whether or not to hire a videographer out to the Facebook world. I was overwhelmed with the responses and it’s really what sealed the deal for us. Friends I haven’t spoken to in more than 10 years went out of their way to let me know their thoughts, which meant so very much to me. Many people who had a videographer said it was one of the best decisions they made (even if they were opposed to it at first) and some made the point that they didn’t have one and really wish they had so they could relive the day. We already have an incredible photographer (so happy with our decision!), but the idea of reliving it through a documentary-style video on top of that makes me feel like we really can capture every meaningful moment.

The question of which videographer to hire was probably the easiest part of this decision. I’ve had the biggest crush on I Do Films for some time and was more than thrilled when Robert gave them his seal of approval, too. I’m powerless in the presence of those films. I cry every. single. time. I also had a sweet yoga friend send me the full-length edited copy of her DVD by I Do and after that I was sold. I bawled through her entire film and I wasn’t even there! (Here’s the short version of their film.)

Although it took us some time to make this decision once and for all I couldn’t be happier that we went through with it. I already can’t wait for the day about six months after our wedding when the DVDs arrive in the mail and we’ll get to relive our wedding day as many times as we like for countless years to come.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

This time of year food bloggers everywhere are posting countless recipes for Thanksgiving, which happens to be tomorrow. (Will somebody please tell me how that happened?) Robert and I are flying to Vermont tonight to spend the holiday with my parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law. My whole family will hang out in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day cooking up a feast. Besides making a butterflied, grilled turkey (so delicious!) we tend to be traditionalists when it comes to the other parts of the meal so there’s not much to add to the Thanksgiving food conversation. If we were to do away with any staple or change it in anyway – the stuffing, the potatoes, the gravy, or the cranberry sauce – it wouldn’t quite be Thanksgiving to me.

So, for me, this Thanksgiving week isn’t just about the food as much as it’s about something else: Giving thanks to the best friends a girl could ever wish for. This Saturday I planned a lunch to let my best girlfriends know just how much they mean to me and to ask them to be my bridesmaids. Saturday morning I was so giddy with anticipation I launched out of bed before 8 a.m. I was more than Christmas-morning excited.

Truth? I’ve known who my bridesmaids would be for a while even though I had absolutely no idea Robert was going to propose when he did. I think at some point in life you just know. I also knew I wanted to ask them in some special way so I gave myself some time to figure out exactly how I was going to do it. The idea started to form when I recently developed a love for Rifle Paper Co. The designs are so beautiful, whimsical, and fun. Then I found the “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” and “Will You Be My Matron of Honor?” stationary. I was done. I ordered the stationary and wrote each girl a personal note expressing how much they mean to me and asked them to be my bridesmaids/Matron of Honor.

Next, I reached out to my super-talented high school friend Kiera of She bakes, designs, and decorates the most gorgeous edible treats you’ve ever seen. When I ran the idea of doing Rifle Paper Co. inspired Will You Be My Bridesmaid? cookies by her she was more than game. She took the idea and created the most beautiful cookies that were light years beyond anything I possibly could have dreamed of. She then came up with packaging ideas that took everything to a whole other dimension. (Please forgive my less-than perfect photos. Kiera’s husband is a photographer and I’m sure she’ll have some professional-level pics on her blog at some point so keep checking!) 

See what I mean? Stunning. Below are the packages she created with handwritten chalkboard-like labels (I mean what?!?!?!) By the way, these flew from San Francisco where Kiera lives and arrived at my home in Chicago in flawless condition:

Below is what the cookies look like inside the boxes (the two pictured above were extra samples Kiera sent Robert and me.) We can confirm that the cookies aren’t just pretty they taste delicious, too! Check out those labels below!!!

Saturday, I invited the girls to a fancy champagne lunch at Fred’s at Barneys New York. The restaurant is located at the top of the store with views of downtown and Lake Michigan. My sister wasn’t able to fly in from New York (it was super short notice), but she surprised us with a bottle of champagne when we arrived at the table! It was like she was there in spirit and bubbles. Thank you so much, Leah!! Best. Surprise. Ever.

I had Kiera send a similar cookie package to Leah in NY with a “Will You Be My Matron of Honor” label, which Leah opened with me over video chat.

Here we are at Fred’s. I’ve known all of these girls since freshman year at Northwestern, which means we’ve been friends for 10 YEARS!!! It sounds like a crazy-long time to me now, but I know we’ll look back at these pictures some day and talk about how young we were and how this was just the beginning of life-long friendships.

Love you all so much! Thank you for making me the happiest and luckiest gal ever. xoxoxo

Zuppa Verde

Hello friends!!! I’m back and so excited to get cooking with you again. So much has happened since the last time I posted. Let’s see…

I chopped about 8 inches off of my hair. (Yes this is major blog-worthy news.)

I moved into a new apartment with my guy that looked like this for longer than I’d like to admit.

I went on a wonderful vacation to The Greenbrier in West Virginia with Robert and his family.

I auditioned to teach at CorePower Yoga–and passed!

I learned that the book I’ve been working on was officially accepted by the publisher and will be published in March 2013!

And Saturday night, Aug 11, I got engaged to my best friend and the love of my life! Should I have mentioned that sooner? I’m still in complete shock, bliss, and excitement. This has been my state ever since the moment he got down on one knee in the beautiful park across from our home, pulled out the most beautiful ring from his pocket, and asked me to spend forever with him.

It’s hard to believe that earlier in the day we were shopping for dressers at IKEA and by the end of the evening I was drinking champagne in a bar with my brand-new fiance and a group of our friends Robert arranged to be there as a complete surprise to me. The entire time we were in IKEA (not my favorite place on earth) Robert made it so easy and fun that I couldn’t stop thinking how much I wanted to spend my life with this man. And then, well, my dream came true!! Later that night I had the opportunity to share the incredible news with my parents who are currently on a cruise in Alaska. (As it turns out, they already knew because Robert secretly flew to New York a few weeks before to ask them for my hand. That sneaky, wonderful guy!) When they had cell reception again and called a few days after he proposed I confessed that I couldn’t remember anything I said on the phone the night we got engaged. (See: champagne. Also: bliss, shock, and excitement.) My mom said that I just kept repeating “I’m the luckiest girl, I’m so lucky!” Well, that’s exactly how I feel.

To say the past few weeks have been a whirlwind is the understatement of the century. I feel like everything has changed in the most thrilling, perfect ways possible. The way we got engaged and the way that I feel knowing we get to spend our lives together is beyond anything I ever could have imagined.

Now let’s talk food. Somehow, earlier this week I managed to fire enough brain cells at once to put together this soup that’s hands down the easiest, fastest, and healthiest weeknight soup I’ve ever made. I realize that making hot soup in the summer is an odd thing to do. And while I can’t be trusted to do anything logical or rational right now it was an unusually chilly and rainy day so it made sense at the time.

This is such a great recipe to keep in your arsenal when you want a comforting homemade meal with minimal effort. There isn’t even any slicing of vegetables involved since it uses frozen veggies and frozen greens (making it budget-friendly, too).

Here’s the recipe so you can get cooking while I get back to staring at that sparkly thing on my left hand : )

Zuppa Verde
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta such as fusilli
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes with no salt added
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper (use more, less, or omit depending on how hot you like it)
1 15 oz can kidney beans with no salt added
12 oz frozen mixed vegetables (I used 3/4 of a 16 oz bag of Whole Foods 365 organic Mediterranean blend vegetables)
8 oz frozen greens (I used 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of Whole Foods 365 frozen mixed leafy greens – a combination of collard greens, kale, and mustard greens)
Salt & Pepper

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth, tomatoes, oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper, and beans to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Add the frozen vegetables and greens and simmer for 10 more minutes. Stir in the pasta, add salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat, and serve.

Source: Whole Foods Health Starts Here recipe card