The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy Monday, folks!

‘Tis a great Monday indeed, since it’s the very last Monday before… CHRISTMAS!!!!!!1!!!11!!!!!!!!!!1!!

If you’re thinking, “Gretchen, ease up on the exclamation points and formatting, it’s just a holiday…” then you obviously don’t know me at all. Christmas is my FAVORITE holiday, my favorite time of year, my favorite everything. I’m totally that girl when it comes to Christmas. And this year, my whole fam is heading down to Atlanta to ring in Christmas morn at my sister Jen’s house.

It actually feels like the Christmas festivities have kind of already started, though, because even though we’re all going to her house for Christmas in just a few days, my sister and my nieces were actually up here this past weekend!

 
This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also certainly the busiest! This past week has held my work holiday celebration, my brother’s birthday, a photoshoot, and a baby shower — as well as plenty of time spent with the best kiddos in the world, of course. 🙂

Wednesday night, I went out to dinner with my coworkers to celebrate 2016 and the upcoming holidays. We don’t have an actual office here in the DC area (I work from home), but I’m luckier than a lot of other remote Yelp employees in that there are actually quite a few of us in the same area! This gives us the luxury of getting me out from behind my computer screen every once in a while to love on each other in person (and gives me an excuse to get dolled up, too!)

 
I know I probably humblebrag about my job far too much already, but I just have the best coworkers. We went to this new-ish restaurant in DC called Mythology that I loooooved, and ate, drank, and chatted the night away. I don’t go into the city all that often, but this place already has me thinking about my next trip, it was so good! The deets are all on–you guessed it–Yelp, so take a gander if you’re interested:

Read Gretchen F.‘s review of Mythology on Yelp

Thursday was my brother’s birthday, and was also the day that Jenny and the girls came into town. We had a family dinner at my parents’ house, and then went to see Rogue One on opening night (no spoilers, but it was awesome.)

 
Saturday morning was spent twiddling my thumbs waiting for the insane ice that had taken over the Metro Area to melt. It was insanely icy that morning — I almost fell flat on my butt just stepping out my front door, and there were literally dozens and dozens of terrible traffic accidents throughout the morning (including a THIRTY CAR PILEUP on the beltway. :()

Luckily (and weirdly), it warmed up and the ice was all but melted by noon, so I still got to fill the majority of the day with fun stuff… and even had a special guest star that some of you may recognize:

Anne! My brother and sister-in-law were shooting some photos for Anne’s business, so I played the role of makeup artist for the day. I can’t wait to see the finished shots!

 
Getting to test out my makeup skills is always fun for me, especially as my interest in makeup artistry has continued to grow. I’ve been getting more experimental with my own makeup lately (perhaps I’ve been getting bolder as a side effect of chopping off my hair, hehe), and, much to Sean’s chagrin, have been investing in a broader range and breadth of products.

Maybe one day I’ll get confident enough to start a side hustle beautifying folks, but for now, it’s enough to showcase my extreme vanity all over Instagram. And here, too, I guess. 😉

Finally, my weekend capped off with my beautiful friend Lara’s baby shower! This was the main reason Jen was back in town, as she was co-hosting it, and it just worked out really well that it was around the same time as Ben’s birthday.

Lara is a big Crossfit nut, so the shower was actually Crossfit themed! I helped Jen out by trying to replicate some of the things that she found on Pinterest. Some were a big win (the barbell diaper cake!), some were passable (the kettle bell cake balls), and some were a huge, time-wasting fail (WHY ARE SUGAR COOKIES SO HARD TO DECORATE?!?!). Regardless, I had a ton of fun prepping with Jen and, of course, loving on Lara and her soon-to-be baby girl!

So, that just about catches us up! Jen and the girls head back to Atlanta today with my parents, and the rest of us will be following suit later this week. So the next few days are sure be super busy as I try to wrap up work stuff, personal stuff, and try to keep my raging Christmas spirit in check ’til I make it to the ATL! And if I don’t make it back for another post before the end of the week, we wish you the happiest of holidays and merriest of Christmases!

 

28 Years Young

So, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve been back in these parts, and I don’t even have a single excuse (other than, well, y’know, life). I truly, honestly, genuinely meant to get back to blogging much sooner than this, what with all the wedding DIY projects I want to share, various trips I’ve taken, and additional hair colors I’ve gone through.

So I apologize for taking so long to get back to my blogging roots. But today I make my triumphant return to the interwebs and we begin again!

First off, some updates:

  • I chopped off my hair basically the minute I returned from my honeymoon, and have proceeded to dye it varying shades of purple and also shave designs into the back of my head. I’m kind of loving it.

  • I got a new tattoo about a month ago. It’s a vial of Felix Felicis, the liquid luck potion from Harry Potter, and I think it’s pretty rad. I got it done at Patriots Tattoo in Fairfax.

  • Sean’s grandfather sadly passed away at the end of February, so we took a quick trip down to San Antonio to be with his family. We are so grateful that he was able to be at the wedding and that we got as much time with him as we did. <3

  • We had our annual Yelp regional conference a few weeks ago, which not only gave me the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by my coworkers (our team spans from PA to NC), but also to bust out my trusty Pikachu onesie. (#bestjobever)

  • My niece/goddaughter Mia also turned 3 at the end of March! Unghhhh, look how little she used to be…

  • And finally, speaking of birthdays…

Today is mine! Huzzah! I am 28 years young today which means it’s time to update my bio and start thinking about what to put on my before-I-turn-30 bucket list, heh. Fun fact: I don’t know if I’ve already shared this, but Sean’s mom and I actually have the same birthday! So did he luck out or what? He only has to remember the one date for both of us! 😉

I spent this past weekend in Macon, GA with my family for my baby niece Kira’s baptism, but we also snuck in an early birthday celebration while we were all together. We went to Dovetail, this awesome hyper-local farm-to-table concept — my kinda place.

I know I probably say this every year, but I think that 28 is shaping up to be my best year yet! I mean, I’ve already got a blizzard wedding under my belt, so pretty much everything in life seems easy breezy in comparison. I’m still loving my kickass job with Yelp, I’ve got a rad family, a home into which I can pour all my post-wedding extracurricular energy (a post on my obsession with my new bar cart is forthcoming), and my awesome grumpy old man pups (plus I basically timeshare my brother’s dog Pixel).

And as a perfect birthday present, I just received my wedding video! So please, feast your eyes on the wonderful video that the wonderful Doug Stanford created, which really showcases just how awesome and crazy and sentimental and special our wedding day really was.

Those last shots at the end are my favorite. 🙂

With that, I leave you for now — with the promise that much more is to come soon. (Although, I realize that my promises mean essentially nothing to you, since I’ve been promising to blog more for like, a year. Hahahaha…haha…ha.) I fly back to DC tonight (still in Macon for the day), so I’ll catch you on the flip!

40 Days, Baby!

As you read this, Daxter & I are likely high in the skies above, flying back home after spending a few days in Macon, GA with my sister and beautiful nieces, Mia & Kira.

Yeah, we met Elsa & Anna. No big deal. 😉

It was super nice, as always, to get away for a little bit and spend time with my family, but with us nearing the one-month mark for the wedding, plus with all the holiday stuff coming up, I can’t help feeling more anxious than not coming back into everything. My sister has been doing her best to help me tackle things one by one, prioritize, and not freak out, and I’m trying to follow her advice, but I seem to be incapable of de-stressing even as I am crossings things off of my ever-growing to-do list. Le sigh.

Gretchen___Sean_»_Eat__Drink__and_Be_Foxy_

I mean, I know that we’re getting into the home stretch, and at this point even totally normal people who aren’t A) DIY-ing way so much crazy sh*t and B) already prone to being overly anxious, emotionally compromised stressballs are apt to reach their boiling point. I swear, I am trying to keep it all in perspective: I still have 5 – 6 weeks to get everything done, my sister’s coming up in a couple more weeks and will be staying for the entire month before the wedding, and my two other bridesmaids will be in town for the full week prior. But I’m in this weird limbo where I feel like I’m both doing too much and not doing enough, lol.

I do feel better after meeting with Caitlin, my awesome day-of coordinator. She’s really ending up as more of a month-of coordinator, and I am so, so glad that I have someone there to reassure me that everything will work out (that I’m not related to, that is), and who is there to specifically help me execute all of my ridonkulous ideas. It makes the fact that I’m putting all these man-hours into details that barely anyone will actually notice much less suicide-inducing, hahaha.

I also have a walkthrough with our caterer scheduled for next week, which I’m sure will also put me more at ease, since it’ll give me the opportunity to ask all of the zillion questions I have on how exactly everything’s going to work. #notabridezillaiswear

I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s really not all bad. I mean, one of the things that I crossed off my list while in Macon was taste-testing specialty cocktails for the wedding!

Hey, it was a tough job, but somebody had to do it!

Check out that Asian glow! 😉

And speaking of crossing things off my list… let’s take another look at that, shall we? (Are we super annoyed with this incessant list-updating yet?)

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☑

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

Makeup Artist: ☑

Hair Stylist: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☑

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☑

Wedding Rings: ☑

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☑

Dress Fittings: ☑

Registry: ☑

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Wedding-Day Transportation: ☑

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☑

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐

Alcohol: ☐

Signature Cocktail: ☑

Centerpiece Bottles: ☑

Table Numbers: ☐

Ceremony Backdrop: ☐

Card Box: ☐

Keys to Success: ☐

Popcorn Bar: ☐

Wedding-Day Surprise Element ;): ☐

Guestbook: ☑

Write Vows: ☐

Marriage License: ☐

Create Timeline: ☑

Order Thank You Cards: ☐

Select Ceremony Music: ☐

Wedding Week Beauty Appts – Hair: ☑ Brows: ☑ Nails: ☑

Honeymoon: ☑

Book Honeymoon Excursions: ☐

Book Honeymoon Return Flight: ☐

I actually had to reneg and un-check the popcorn bar one, because I was getting a little ahead of myself. I have all the containers and whatnot, but haven’t placed an order for the actual popcorn yet, oops.

Still makin’ pretty good progress, but since this week is super busy for me work-wise, and the following week is, uh, Christmas week, I don’t really know how much I’ll get done until after Christmas… guess we’ll just have to see how the next couple of weeks go!

If I don’t make it back to update you guys before then, I hope you have the most amaaaaaaah-zing holiday season!

From Muggle to Mrs

Hiiiiiiii!

Another month has passed which means I’m still pretty much the worst blogger ever. But! I have lots to update you on, so let’s just breeze right on past all the standard contrition and jump right into the good stuff.

My November kicked off with an epic bridal shower which was, much to my delight, Harry Potter-themed!

I had no idea it was Harry Potter-themed, but was obviously VERY happy when I walked in the door. My awesome bridesmaids also pulled off a second surprise when my bridesmaid Holly surprised me by coming for the bridal shower… from Canada! It was all kinds of perfect.

 

The bridal shower was wonderful — having a whole bunch of my friends all together in one place, sharing memories and, of course, getting to open presents (bahaha). They really went all out with the decorations and special touches — there was a “pensieve” where folks could write down their favorite Gretchen memory, and they made a batch of Felix Felicis as a (super delicious) specialty drink.

We also played a game where I had to answer a bunch of questions that my sister had previously asked Sean. You know, stuff like “What’s Gretchen’s favorite color?” (He got it right) and “What’s the theme of your wedding?” (He got it wrong, hahahahaha.) Then, if I guessed what he answered correctly, I got a doller, and if I got it wrong, I had to stick a piece of Bubble Yum in my mouth.

It was hilarious and terrible. My sister was a ruthless game host — Sean misread one of the questions (the question was “What was your first date?” but he answered it as if it was “When was your first date?”), Jenny still asked me the question, which of course I got wrong because he didn’t even answer it correctly!

So by the end I had 14 pieces of gum in my mouth and 15 dollers. So I still came out ahead!

The only problem I had with my bridal shower was how short it felt! The two-hours literally FLEW by. My friends said that it’ll seem even faster on the actual wedding day, so I guess it was good preparation, but still! It was just that much fun. I’m a really lucky gal to have such wonderful friends and family. 🙂

And speaking of family, the wedding festivities didn’t end there! One week after the bridal shower, my entire family headed down to Houston to see my grandmother.

As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, and for both of my siblings’ weddings, we’ve performed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at the rehearsal dinner. We’ll be doing the same thing at my own rehearsal dinner, but since my grandmother’s health isn’t too great and she can’t travel, we went down to Houston to do the tea ceremony with her early.

It was really special, and some of Sean’s family who live in Texas were also able to come out and join in!

Everything else that’s been going on over the past month has been just one giant mix of wedding planning and work stuff. I’ve actually got an Elite Event tonight — our annual Yelp Northern Virginia holiday party! So tonight should be full of fun and festiveness — two of my favorite things!

I also finally checked off two of the remaining big ticket items on my wedding to-do list. I finished all of the centerpiece bottles I’ve been working on (my nightmares are nothing but glitter and Mod Podge), and I finally placed my floral order!

Dude, I know that a lot of you think I am certifiably insane for wanting to do my own wedding flowers, but this is what I have to say about that: I’m spending less than $500 on my wedding flowers. And after several multi-thousand dollar quotes from florists, I am perfectly happy to put in the legwork (with the help of a couple of my crafty bridesmaids!) and put this stuff together at home.

At Potomac Floral Wholesale, that amount got me 125 Milky Way roses, 50 Emely roses, 20 White Akito roses, 40 hydrangeas, 6 bunches of stock, 2 bunches of dusty miller, 1 bunch of silver brunia, 1 bunch of wax flowers, 4 bunches of glittered birch branches, and some additional floral supplies. Flowers everywhere!

Also, there are WAY TOO MANY different kinds of roses. Part of the reason it took me so long to place the order was just because I was overwhelmed with how many different kinds of roses there are! I know most brides would never risk doing their flowers on their own in the first place, and even for brides that are into that, they probably don’t have time to research all the different varieties (or they probably just don’t care as much as I apparently do!) But, that being said, if you are one in that small percentage of extra-crazy brides like moi and want to learn more, there are rose comparison studies on the website Flirty Fleurs that I found ridiculously helpful.

Okay, I’ll wrap it up for now, but we’re really getting into the home stretch here! Now that it’s officially Decemeber, I can actually say that my wedding is NEXT MONTH and not be lying.

Unghhhhghghh wait that’s too real I’m not ready ahhhhhhhhhhhh

129 Days and Counting!

Howdy, folks! It’s been yet another while since my last update, I know, but things have been moving along pretty swimmingly! Between work, wedding planning, and family stuff, I’ve definitely been keeping busy. In fact, I just came back from spending some time down in Macon getting to meet (and take photos of) my new niece, Kira!

Coming back home after spending some time with my adorable nieces meant jumping right back into wedding planning and work stuff. I’m actually hosting an Elite Event tonight, another one on Monday, and another one on the 27th. Whew! And next month brings another three events, three weddings (one of which I’m shooting with Ben & Taylor!), AND a trip up to Pittsburgh to help out at my coworker’s Yelper Party. WHEW.

But, hey, no rest for the wicked, right? And all this work craziness does come at a pretty good time, since I’m sure that as soon as I enter November, the wedding insanity will start to REALLY set in. November brings my bridal shower (squee!), a trip to Houston to visit my grandmother (she won’t be able to attend my wedding, so we’re going to perform the traditional Chinese tea ceremony for her), and, then, of course, the beginning of the Holiday Season! Double whew.

Luckily, I think I’m in pretty good shape with things right now. As far as most of the wedding planning timelines and to-do lists that I’m able to find online, it looks like we’re pretty much on target! Here’s where things stand:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers:☑

Centerpieces:☑

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

Wait a second… are you seeing what I’m seeing? That’s a lot of checked boxes! Like, almost all of them! And while some of the checks are really more like, half-checks, since I can’t actually complete them juuuust yet, the decisions have been made. So I’m counting it!

After all, we’ve figured out the exact configuration of the centerpieces, the flower count is being calculated, the invitations are being designed, and, best of all, my real, ACTUAL dress came in!

No spoilers for you (that isn’t even my real veil!) BUT, I’m pretty darn excited. And miracle of miracles, it actually fits really well! It will still need some alterations, of course, but those don’t need to start until November.

All of which means that, um, the big things on my wedding checklist are basically complete! CRAZY!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the planning is over by a long shot.the majority of what I have left to work on right now falls under the whole Death by DIY heading that I’ve already mentioned. You know, making the ceremony backdrop, painting the rest of the centerpiece items, finishing up the dessert bar decor (turns out that making cake stands from thrift store plates and glasses is pretty much the easiest thing ever!), and getting my bridal accessories. And I know that as we get closer to the date of the wedding I’m sure more and more things are sure to pop up.

In fact, here are just a few additional things that weren’t originally included on the “main” list that I think I should probably start keeping track of, even if the deadlines are still a ways off:

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☐

Wedding Rings: ☐

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☐

Registry: ☑ (Thanks to everyone who told me about Zola, it’s really cool!)

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Shuttle/Transportation: ☐ (The hotels are technically walkable to the GW Masonic Memorial, but it’s January, so I’m trying to figure out is providing transportation is still a good idea.)

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☐

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐ (Obviously this won’t be doable until after the invitations have gone out and RSVPs have come back, but it’s still good to keep in mind, as it’s a pretty important to-do.)

Alcohol: ☐ (We are able to purchase our own for the wedding — yay! — so I need to figure out amounts/types.)

Honeymoon: ☑ (Wheeeee!)

Oh boy. The list just keeps on growing. Heh. Oh well, whatever, you guys know I love this ish.

Speaking of the honeymoon, we finally decided on escaping the winter weather on a cruise out of Miami! It’s a 7-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Escape! I’ve never cruised Norwegian before, but am a big fan of cruising in general, and am super excited about the prospect of a brand spankin’ new boat (seriously, the ship hasn’t even started sailing yet. Eee!)

We are also going to spend a few days beforehand touring the Florida Keys, which neither Sean nor I have been to before. So if any of you have any tips about which cities in the Keys to visit, where to stay, or honeymoon-y things to do, please let me know!

Okay, I think that just about catches us up. I’m sure that the secondary list will just keep growing and growing, but I am super excited! We are 129 days out, and I am definitely already getting antsy, hehe. Onward we go!