Monday, November 30, 2015

Dressember + Giving Tuesday

After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, comes Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. It also happens to fall on December 1, the first day of Dressember. Because of that, I'm merging my Dressember campaign with Giving Tuesday for a sweet little deal!

For Giving Tuesday, I'm asking you to donate to my Dressember campaign as a way to give back to a very worthy cause. Dressember partners with International Justice Mission and A21 to fight human trafficking--both working to fight injustice and care for victims.

To everyone who gives to my campaign on December 1, I will send a surprise gift! All I need is for you to provide your mailing address so I can send it to you. This is a great way to get involved in Giving Tuesday, feel great about making a donation to a worthy cause, and receive a reminder of your generous gift!

Please consider giving and helping get Dressember going with a great start! If you're looking for more information on the campaign and my participation, check out the Dressember page on this blog, or visit my official Dressember campaign page. I have some different incentives going on and send special updates to all my donors!

I'd love to connect with you if you have more questions about Dressember or if you're participating as well! Please leave a comment below or contact me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving: Why I'm Thankful for Waiting

Thanksgiving is one of those heart-check holidays. It makes you step back and take inventory of your thoughts, what you are truly thankful for. It usually forces me to come face-to-face with the juxtaposition of what I have and what I want, especially this year because I've spent a good chunk of time fixated on what I want.

The reality is I'm in a season of waiting for what I want. And waiting in our culture is seen as a negative. No one wants to have to wait for anything, that's why things like instant downloads and overnight shipping exist. Because we crave instant gratification and want things to come quickly and easily. But let me just put this out there: waiting isn't bad.

This year, I'm thankful for waiting. I'm thankful that I am being forced to wait because it isn't my choice, but through that, I am beginning to see the good in waiting.

I'm thankful for waiting because it gives me an opportunity to put my hopes and desires in God's hands, committing them to Him and not myself. I'm thankful for waiting because I can look with expectancy to how God will answer, how He will act, what He will do. I'm thankful for waiting because it produces the lasting joy of endurance as opposed to the temporary happiness of instant gratification. I'm thankful for waiting because at the end, I will give God the glory and not myself. Waiting forces me to realize that I can't accomplish this on my own, nothing good comes from me.

It's true that the best things in life are worth waiting for. I had to wait 12 years to become a sister, a long and lonely road on which I was mostly impatient before giving up hope. I didn't look with expectancy to God, I just assumed over time that the answer was no and I decided to stop hoping. I missed an opportunity to look to God's timing, glorifying Him for His plan and provision of a little brother.

I waited more years than I thought I wanted to before getting married. The longing to be in a relationship drove me to take matters into my own hands rather than waiting on God's plan for my love life. I wasted the years I could have grown in my relationship with God on numerous dates and dead-end relationships. I chose to ignore opportunities to look for God's plan and grew impatient in the journey. A time that was filled with frustration could have instead been filled with patient waiting for a story only God could write.

I don't want impatience and a fear of waiting to dictate my life or my choices. The reality is that waiting will always happen, but it doesn't have to be seen as something bad or burdensome. In the waiting we are also becoming, becoming who we are going to be in the next stage of life, when this waiting is done.

In singleness we are transforming into who we will be in marriage, a journey that can be filled with expectation, excitement, and once in a lifetime experiences. In growing families, we are adjusting to become the best sibling, the best parent or grandparent we can be for the new person who will join our unit. In other stages and areas of life, we are maturing, expanding, always becoming someone different, and hopefully, someone better.

For once in my life I want to take time to appreciate the process of waiting. I want to find peace in the midst of the uncertainty, joy in the hardship, and grace in the disappointment. And so this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the opportunity to wait. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Plan a Well-Organized Wedding and Rehearsal

One of the most stressful things--for brides, and for those attending their weddings--is a poorly organized event. Nothing makes the wedding weekend crazier than a bunch of people running around asking each other questions with no answers. This is especially true for DIY brides, but even those with a wedding planner will need to sort out the details. So do yourself, and everyone else, a huge favor and take some time to thoroughly organize your big day with these tips.

Start Early

Regardless of how much time you have to plan, get started early on deciding what you do and do not want included in your wedding ceremony and reception. Think through who will be doing what, how you envision the day transpiring, and what elements are important to you. No one else will know just what you want, and if you leave it up to others to decide, you may end up disappointed and they'll end up stressed.

Do keep in mind that even though you're planning everything out now, things may change, and the day may not go exactly as planned. But, having thought through the specifics in advance will help you relax when your wedding weekend comes.

I know some brides don't care as much about the little details, but do keep in mind that someone will. Whether it's the officiant, your family, or the wedding planner, at some point someone will ask what you want. Help out those involved in your big day and plan those details. This will save them from the stress of wondering, "What does the bride want?" Plus, it will help cut down on the questions you will have to answer.

Map it Out

As you begin your early planning process, start a document on your computer or tablet where you can type up your plans. As you determine details and specifics, map out where they fall, both in the timeline of the weekend and in terms of responsibility. It will help you worry less as you'll have the details in writing, and it will help you distribute responsibilities among your bridal party, coordinators, and attendants.

Your map should include all the information your bridal party will need--different events and their locations throughout the weekend, pertinent contact information, etc.--as well as a breakdown of responsibilities for the big day--who will direct the bridal party as they walk down the aisle, who will help bustle your dress, who will be responsible for collecting your gifts and cards. It doesn't hurt to be thorough in writing out instructions.

As your wedding weekend gets closer, continue editing your map until it is ready to go. Provide a copy of it to anyone who may need the information, including your officiant, your wedding or ceremony coordinator, your attendants, and your bridal party. You can also give people individualized lists if they don't need all the information.

Rock Your Rehearsal 

The best wedding rehearsals I've been to have been planned out in advance. The really good ones included a printed breakdown of exactly who was doing what and when. You should meet with your officiant (and coordinator if you have one) before the rehearsal to talk through these details. Your officiant or coordinator may prepare and print a breakdown of the rehearsal for you, but if they don't, you can create one yourself.

The breakdown should be like a more detailed version of your wedding program with clear instructions for everyone involved. Make sure to include details for the officiant, ushers, bridal party (including the ring bearer and flower girl), family members, musicians, and anyone else involved. Everyone will need to know when it's their turn to participate, where they need to go, what they need to do, and what song will be playing. Make sure you have enough copies for everyone involved, and a few extra just in case.

Besides giving everyone thorough instructions, the printout will also help when people aren't paying attention (shocker, some people will talk through the instructions). These socialites can refer to the typed document when they realized they missed the part that was for them.

Don't Stress

Once you've finished your map and assigned responsibilities, try to relax. People will most likely still have questions, so don't feel like you failed if that happens. If the answer is on the map, kindly refer them there or direct them to an attendant who can help. This is your day to enjoy, so relax and tell yourself it's time to reap the rewards of all your hard work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dressember + A Fundraiser Challenge

I've been excited to see donations coming in already for my Dressember campaign! It gives me hope that my crazy goal isn't quite so crazy. If you've donated to my campaign, thank you so much! I can't do this alone and having your support is awesome.

Last year during Dressember, I offered quote art as a bonus to my donors and I've decided to incorporate it again this year, but in a slightly different way to help build momentum.

My hope is to reach at least $1,000 in donations by December 1 (as of hitting publish, we're only $600 away, which breaks down to $30/day). If that goal is reached, I will give each donor of $25 or more a piece of hand-lettered art. All art pieces will be totally unique and lettered on thick, mixed media paper ready for framing or hanging.

If you were waiting for an incentive to give, this is it! Not only will you help fight slavery, but you will also get a beautiful work of art to display or gift to a friend. As soon as we reach $1,000, I will start creating the art and collecting donor addresses so I can get it mailed out as soon as possible. That way, if you're wanting to give your artwork to someone as a Christmas gift, it will *hopefully* arrive on time!

If you're wanting to find some examples of my work, you can check out my Etsy shop, Tumblr or Instagram. Leave any questions you may have in the comments or send them to me via email. You can visit my Dressember page to donate now and find out more about the campaign.

Thanks for considering this great cause and visiting my blog!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dressember Essentials: How to Stay Warm During Dressember

One of the scariest things about participating in Dressember in northern states and cold regions is the idea of wearing dresses all December. It can be intimidating to think about trekking through the snow in a dress. However, if this is the biggest thing keeping you from participating, let me encourage you: it is totally doable!

To take some of the uncertainty out of it, I've made a list of items that will help you stay stylish and warm all month long. I call these my "Dressember Essentials" for my girls in the Midwest and other cold areas. I recently did a Periscope video on this, so if you missed it, you can catch up on what I talked about with this post.

Dressember Essentials

1. Versatile dresses. The best place to start is in your closet. Pick out the most comfortable and versatile dresses you own, even if they are more fit for summer. You don't have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe to participate in Dressember. If you do want to add a new dress to your collection, I recommend pre-ordering the Dressember Dress, shown in wine on the model above. It is ethically made by a sewing center in Nepal.

Last year I styled many dresses that were intended for warmer climates, including all of the dresses featured in this post, and in this post. In fact, pretty much all my dresses were made for spring/summer with the exception of a sweater dress. I like to think of the dresses as blank canvases that I'll pair with my winter-ready essentials.

2. Tights and leggings. I love wearing leggings and Dressember is the perfect time to pull them out! If it gets really cold where you live, stock up on fleece-lined leggings or layer tights under your leggings for added warmth. If it's chilly but not really cold, I like to stick with just tights. I also like to wear athletic-type leggings for their non-clingy texture.

Another item to consider are ponte pants, they're like a thick version of leggings. They typically aren't see-through, plus the thicker the material, the warmer you'll be. I first got introduced to Loft's ponte pants while working there, but you can find them just about anywhere.

3. Cardigans and sweaters. On this board I chose button-down and open front cardigans, but you can also add pull-over sweaters and jackets. Really any type of outerwear is great and can be layered in multiples. I love the look of an open cardigan, I think it adds a pretty, flowy dimension to an outfit. Plus pockets are an added bonus!

My tips for choosing a cardigan or sweater are to think about the climate where you live and also what will work well with most of your wardrobe. If you're in a cold climate, go for a thicker, chunky-knit sweater. If it isn't as cold, go for something lightweight. Choose neutral colors if you have bold or bright dresses, or if you want to be able to easily pair your cardi with other outfits in the future. If you have a lot of solid-color, neutral dresses, go for a red or berry color to brighten things up.

4. Layering add-ons. If it gets really cold where you live, invest in some good layering pieces. These can include long-sleeved tees or undershirts, thick scarves (especially good for dresses with low-cut necklines), wool socks, knit hats, and of course, mittens! With all of these, the thicker the material, the warmer you'll be.

5. Boots. Boots are a style lifesaver when there's snow on the ground. You can look cute while keeping your feet warm and dry. Plus knee-high boots will hide your wool socks. ;)

6. Cute accessories. Let's not forget to top off the look with some fun accessories. Just because it's cold doesn't mean you can't add on pretty details. I especially like belts to cinch in the waistline (which, let's be honest, can disappear under all those layers) and sparkly jewelry to add visual interest and dimension.

These are my Dressember essentials, but I want to know: what would you add? If you have done or are planning to do Dressember, what are your essentials? How do you keep it cute and cozy during the winter months?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cullen Family Photo Shoot

Life is definitely staying busy, but I finally got another fall shoot edited this weekend! I had to force myself to set aside time dedicated to only photo editing (with maybe some football on in the background), which was a little hard with my newfound love for Periscope. Don't judge me.

These photos were from a fun session I had with the Cullen family mid-October at Kent Park in Tiffin, the same place where I look the Clark's family portraits. This location may become my favorite out here, it has beautiful trees, architecture in the form of some bridges, and meadow areas with long grass.

Thanks for checking out my blog! Find out more about my photography and what I offer here.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...