One Year Down

We made it!

One year ago today, Bill and I tied the knot with no idea what was in store for us. The year has been one of surprises, of bobbing and weaving, of taking hard left turns when we expected the straight road in front of us. Last year at Greengate Ranch in San Luis Obispo, we had no idea that we would go through eye surgeries, new jobs, a cross-country move, and saying goodbye to best friends to set out on our own new adventure. We have some amazing times, we’ve had some rough patches, and I know it sounds cheesy, but given the chance to do it all over again… I would. In a heartbeat.

So while we are living it up on an anniversary trip to Miami, here is a little video from our wedding put together by our photographers (and I’m so lucky they are also my brother and sister-in-law) Dusty and Amy from Drozian Photoworks.

In a heartbeat.

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Weekending: Boots and Ballgowns

Do you ever meet people and have the profound feeling of “these are my people”?

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This is Katie. She is my people. And her people are my people.

I was lucky enough to get a whole lot of this last weekend. My beautiful and amazing friend Katie is getting married at the end of May, and I was so excited to attend her bachelorette party. Now, Katie is not your typical lady, and this was not your typical bachelorette weekend. In fact, it was a huge but welcome contrast to mine last year in Vegas, which was chock full of the outfits, the decor, and of course, the shenanigans that we come to expect from this type of gathering. Katie knew from that start this wasn’t exactly what she would call her ideal, so last weekend was a little different. First of all, the events of the weekend took place in Placerville, CA. If you have never been to Placerville, picture a small California gold-mining town of about 10,000 people 45 miles northeast of Sacramento. Middle. Of. Nowhere. The buildings are charming and a river runs through it – the only other time I’ve been there was for an ex-boyfriend’s family reunion to white water raft. The second amazingly “Katie” logistical detail of the weekend was that our accommodations were in the form of a rented-out updated Victorian house, complete with parlor and sitting porch, staircases with landings, and original crown molding and wainscoting, among other interior details. Katie and I shared the master bed and bath, but there was plenty of room for the 10 other amazing women on the trip.

Upon arriving at our humble abode on Friday night after a 340-mile drive from San Luis Obispo, I quickly learned I was the first “non-family” person there. I write “non-family” in quotation marks because I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of that thought. I first met Katie when I was 3 years old, and after attending pre-school, kindergarten through 8th grade, high school, AND college with her, it would be an understatement to say we grew up together. We made it through heartbreaks and prom and finals together. She was my first solid memory of a best friend, and her family is my family. Her mom helped me through my first sleepover. I looked up to her older sisters Becky and Julie as if they were my sisters. Her brothers were always at my house. And on many occasion we stifled late night giggles while her dad snored in the next room. She stood next to me as Bill and I said our vows last summer, and I am so excited to be a bridesmaid in her upcoming nuptials. All of this goes to say that arriving at this unfamiliar Victorian and hugging Katie and her mom Annie felt so much like coming home.

I know they felt it too because I was IMMEDIATELY roped into the Pinterest-worthy projects of Becky’s incredible mind. I put my luggage down and got to work helping to pin, sew, and hot glue handmade hair pieces constructed of felt, feathers, buttons, and random bits of tulle. We had a big day the next day, and you simply cannot face such an affair without the proper headpiece. A few more fabulous ladies rolled in around midnight, and I worked until my allergies sent me to my big fluffy resting place and I said my goodnights.

The next morning I awoke to laughter on the floor below. Padding softly down the stairs, I entered the living room to find Becky surrounded by yarn and cheerfully crocheting wine slings at 8:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right. WINE SLINGS. Sheer genius. The woman was making everyone their own apparatus to wear around our necks that completely cradled a wine glass, either full or empty, freeing both hands for any and all mischief we may encounter for the day. Attached to each was a nametag bearing the title of a flower. The plan for the weekend was to travel around the county attending a wine festival, and since Becky was unsure of the guest list at the time she purchased the tickets, she registered everyone as flora. Katie designated me Gardenia, and a new persona was born. And so we spent the rest of the morning fueling up on breakfast and Propel, primping, and dressing ourselves in – you guessed it – boots and ballgowns.

The Tales from the Cellar Wine Passport Weekend was about to go down, and our short bus was waiting for us.

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The beautiful bride in her $26 thrift store wedding dress, so proud of her chariot for the day.

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Arriving at our first stop of Nello Olivo, we knew the day was going to be a good one. A winery housed in a huge Victorian, servers dressed in top hats, unlimited wine, and appetizers such as steamed clams and gourmet meatballs… What did we just walk into?! Heaven is the answer, my friends. Heaven.

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It wasn’t long before the wigs started coming out (thanks to Annie’s fabulously spirited friend Francie, in the red wig… for now), yet we still managed to look this classy by the second winery.

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At this point, by winery three or four, we were still focused enough to notice and appreciate the beauty of being out in the country. This is Jennie, modeling the gorgeousness that was the landscaping at a Don Quixote-themed winery. Not pictured: the choreographed dance we performed in the courtyard to the tune of Pitbull and Ke$ha’s “Timber” just minutes after this was taken.

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As you can see, the wigs became much more of a “thing” as the day went on. That is a group of ladies who are ENJOYING themselves.

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And blonde became a new thing, too. You will notice, however, that my champagne bottle is unopened… My allergies were so terrible that I decided to ease off on the partaking throughout the day. The didn’t stop me, however, from fully embracing the blonde.

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Things, of course, got a little rowdier as the day wore on, but I just love this picture because you can just feel the vibe of the day. No pressure, no drama, just pure amazingness. It really was a celebration of Katie, and we were all so grateful to be involved.

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Look at that face. Just look at it. It is amazing to see someone you love so much THIS happy.

And so the day ended with pizza from a small local pizzeria that had only seven types of pizza on their menu. (If you’re wondering what the GFDF like me did, I ate a bowl of cold marinara sauce. No joke. They ONLY had pizza.) An older couple we didn’t know joined us on the street and bought the whole party several bottles of wine.We wandered into a dive bar with a few lonely patrons silently nursing their drinks, saw the sad small town Saturday night state the place was in, and immediately cranked the jukebox. Dance party ensued. Katie acquired a pink unicorn stick horse at some point, which we named Cornelius. We cut cake at the house. And then we all changed into our cozies and cuddled up to watch Katie open presents. One of those presents was Frozen, which we popped into the DVD player immediately until we all eventually headed off to bed.

So that was it. By the time we all packed up on Sunday after eating breakfast and watching Frozen – yes – again, the general consensus was that it will be hard to wait another 5 or 6 weeks until the wedding because that’s how long it will be until this family comes back together.

And until the wigs come back out. Francie pulled me aside as I said my fare-thee-wells, and let’s just say that Gardenia may be making another appearance in the near, near, possibly inappropriate future. But until then…

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What happens in Placerville, stays in Placerville.

Playlisting: The Wedding Soundtrack

Every year on Valentine’s Day, I reach back into my late ’80s/early ’90s roots and put together Bill’s present: a mix CD. Now, I know you may be rolling your eyes at my reference, because if I were TRULY throwing it back I would have said “mix tape”. Let’s be honest, that’s just not realistic anymore. Unfortunately.

I mean, how amazing would it be to go back to the days of sitting by the stereo in your bedroom, waiting on edge for the next song to play? If it was a good one and you had lightning-fast reflexes, you could pound the button with the little red dot and keep that baby (minus a few introductory seconds, am I right?) for the rest of your life. Well, until tape players are no longer standard I suppose.

The first year I made Bill a CD was 2012, and I left it on his doorstep and ran away like a giddy teenager. The next year, I gave it to him in person when I showed up at his apartment after a grad school night class, as ordered, to find a candle-lit home-prepared (don’t care that it all came frozen… he put a lot of thought into that) meal, complete with the most adorable surprise for dessert. Let me tell you, that man sure knows how to steal a girl’s heart, toasting Chocolate Chip Eggo’s and filling them with vanilla ice cream like that. Romance is a frozen waffle ice cream sandwich, if you ask me.

Those CDs consisted of songs meeting one criteria: they had reminded me of him.

This year, the playlist was a lot easier to put together, but a thousand times more meaningful. This year, I got to relive our wedding by creating our soundtrack, something I had been eager to do since July 20th.

Music is such a part of my idea of a wedding, and I spent months and months researching for the right tracks. If it didn’t feel right, it didn’t make the cut. Plain and simple. Although I preferred to have a wedding with unique details, and, what with Pinterest, now ideas are stolen with the click if a “Pin” button, when it came to the music I didn’t care how many times that sucker had been played. It just had to feel like us. Music evokes such a feeling in me, and it can either set the vibe for the night or it can ruin the party. Don’t believe me yet? I bet the top two complaints you’ve had at any wedding, in no particular order, were: food and deejay. Correct?

So I wasn’t so obsessed that I dictated every song throughout the night, but Bill and I did make sure our deejay came with incredible testimonies, a reputation of trustworthiness, and the inspiration of our confidence. Kramer Events was such a great pick, and we signed pretty quickly. But a wedding has a lot of important moments, and those were the ones I wanted to get just right. No one else could pick those, since the most important thing a wedding can reflect is the uniqueness and personalities of the each of the lucky souls pledging undying love to one another.

So for anyone interested in one of the sources of greatest pride in our wedding, and one of the things that went very very right, here is the soundtrack of our wedding day, in order:

1. The Processional: “Marry Me” by Train

I know, I know, this song has gained a lot of popularity recently. The processional song was actually the last song we picked, but once I made the choice to stop resisting it, “Marry Me” made our list.

Processional

2. The Walk Down the Aisle: “I Saw A Light” by The Band Perry

I agonized over which song should play as I entered. AGONIZED. But then I downloaded The Band Perry’s new album the day it dropped – April 2nd, just three months before the big day – and one measure into the song, I already knew this was the one I would walk down the aisle to. It hit me immediately that the music to this song embodied the very essence I wanted our day to have, and as I listened, the words spoke directly to our own story of how we met. Such an important moment needed an equally important accompaniment, and to this day, this is my favorite song I have EVER heard.

Walking Down the Aisle

3. Mid-Ceremony Performance: “The Light” by Sara Barrielles

Our officiant Jessie and her father Kevin are both considered family to Bill (and me!) after living across the street from the Halters for years during childhood. Both are talented musicians and frequently sing at weddings, so it was only natural that we cross our fingers in hopes that they would sing for us during our ceremony. “The Light” has always been one of the most romantic songs in my eyes, and we had to include it in the most romantic moments of our lives together.

Jessie Singing

4. The First Kiss and Recessional: “Brighter Than The Sun” by Colbie Caillat

We got married! That’s super exciting! So the first thing we wanted to hear after that was an upbeat but meaningful song to both celebrate what we just did AND set the tone for the party to come. With our California affair and wish for pure uninhibited happiness, this was another agony-inducing choice that became clear upon hearing the words to this amazing song.

First Kiss

Recessional

5. Wedding Party’s Reception Entrance: “Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project

Bill had one request for our wedding. Ever the sports enthusiast, he wanted our wedding party to enter like the starting lineup, and he wanted to do the announcing. So “Sirius” was a must, and he paced inside barn out of sight with a microphone and an NBA-worthy script as each of our bridesmaid and groomsmen pairs danced their ways into the reception.

Wedding Party Entrance

6. The Presentation of Mr. and Mrs. William Halter: “Love on Top” by Beyoncé

Yoncé herself is a must at any wedding, and “Love on Top” was the perfect upbeat-yet-romantic song to come out to for the first time as husband and wife. Plus, I just love me some Queen Bey.

Presentation of Mr and Mrs

Tunnel

7. Our First Dance: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

This song had long been “our song”. So not only was it a great one for our first dance, but it is forever a reminder of the promise we made to each other on that day, whether the current one is going great or not so well.

First Dance

8. Father-Daughter Dance: “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift

My dad has often been a rock for me during difficult times, whether those were breakups, rejections, or just plain bad days. He is the solid voice on the other end of the phone and the drop-everything-and-drive-seven-hours presence on my doorstep. For years, this song made me cry when I thought of him, and now even more so with such an irreplaceable memory attached to it.

Father Daughter Dance

9. How We Got The Party Started: “Wobble” by V.I.C.

Disclaimer: Transitioning from the Father-Daughter Dance straight into “Wobble” was risky. The deejay even responded with an “Are you sure?” But how incredibly worth it was it to see my dad leading the Wedding Wobble?!? SO worth it. We started the show, soon to be joined by Bill, our previously trained bridesmaids, and finally, with much coercion (physical dragging, embarrassment, and otherwise), our guests, who were game to learn the moves as we went. Best part? Everyone was already on the dance floor as we got the rest of the night underway.

Wobble

Wobble Recruitment

10. The Cake-Cutting: “Tie It Up” by Kelly Clarkson

This song was new, it was (and still is) so fun, and we didn’t want to make a spectacle out of the cake-cutting and ruin the good vibes that were flowing already. Keep dancing everybody, and here’s some sugar to fuel the next two hours.

Cake Cutting

11. The Bouquet Toss: “Show Me How You Burlesque” by Christina Aguilera

After getting sexier than all get out to this song in one of my first Zumba classes, the idea for a ladies-only flashmob was born. My friend Ashleigh choreographed a dance for all my bridesmaids to learn, and a plan was hatched for them to strategically plant themselves around the venue. Bill was kept unaware of the plan, as this was as much a surprise for him as it was entertainment for our guests. As the song began, I made my way to the center of the floor, and my girls came out of the woodwork at a pre-determined time to the surprise of our unsuspecting audience. We did our routine incredibly well considering they had all learned it the night before, and after the first chorus, they took their charge of homing in on the single women in the crowd and dragging them out. Execution = spotless.

Bouquet Toss

Bouquet Toss 2

12. The Garter Toss: “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys

While I was busy planning my surprise for Bill, he was busy planning one for me as well. Having told me that the garter toss was going to happen to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger”, I relinquished control over this detail although I was unimpressed by his choice. But my jaw hit the floor when Bill grabbed the mic and karaoked his way farther into my heart with a rendition of “Everybody”, knowing my weakness for the aforementioned boy band would knock my socks off. True story. This happened. It was spectacular. (Especially when he proceeded to give play-by-play through the same microphone of what was going on under my dress while removing the garter.)

Garter

13. A Must Play: “I Love It” by Icona Pop

We sang this song constantly. We went crazy on the dance floor. So did everyone else.

I Love It

14. The Last Song: “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding

The last song of the night was of incredible importance to me. I wanted something upbeat, unable to resist, and too good to be true. I essentially wanted the audio version of the stuff memories are made of. The last moments of the night were surreal, surrounded by our closest friends and family members and their most loved ones.

Anything Could Happen

So there you have it: the soundtrack to our wedding. Please feel free to snag ideas if they fit your idea of perfection, because we had ours, and you should too.

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Waiting for the Wedding

So I’ve been away awhile. Actually a whole summer’s worth of awhiles. A whole summer’s worth of awhiles full of, well, do(hot mess)ticating. So much has happened in the past three or four months that quite a few of the little things I love to do – like, say, blogging – got lost in the whirlwind, and I’ve spent a lot of time just trying to figure out where to start when it comes to processing and reflecting.

There are many wonderful things I can’t wait to post. So many, in fact, that I get really excited, then overwhelmed, then… oof. Lost. So I’ve decided to follow the lead of many of my favorite books and movies, and tell the stories of the Great Summer of 2013 by starting at the end before revisiting the beginning. So here it is:

I’m writing to you now as a wife (but don’t call me Mrs. Halter – that’s my mother-in-law), a professional (I just adore my job), and one of the seemingly high-brow-intellectual types with letters following my name (read: I 100% graduated from grad school, the prospective actuality of which seemed like an exercise in the careful maintenance of my sanity).

So there’s that. But look out, because I’m excited to say the rest is finally coming.

Operation DIY-saster

One of the best things by far about wedding planning is having an excuse to surround myself with beautiful things. In the past few months, I’ve learned about everything from cakes flavors and dessert bar styling to interior design and antique furniture to graphic design and fancy papers. Now, maybe that doesn’t sound that great to you, but for a girl who has spent the last few years stifling jealousy upon entering a perfectly styled home and longing for time or reasons or excuses to start stretching my decorating/entertaining/beyond muscles, this is exciting stuff. I mean, seriously. I would spend my all-day-every-days scouring lifestyle blogs and Crate&Barrel shelves and wedding magazines if I could. Don’t even get me started on Pinterest. (Swoon.)

However, in my quest to master all things domestic, I think it has become pretty obvious that despite my best intentions, I never quite hit it on the head. But give me a weekend, some amazing sidekicks (what’s up, Mom and Sister-in-Law!), and an ridiculously crafty wedding-related to-do list, and you can be sure that I will knock your socks off with my enthusiasm. You wouldn’t believe the gorgeous inspiration I picked up and the DIY-mishaps got myself into while enjoying a visit from my adorable mama and my uber-talented sister-in-law Amy.

We kicked off the weekends with cupcakes, of course. I love trying new flavors from our baker Breanne from SeaBreeze Cupcakes. These are her “24 Carrot” and “Lemon Drop” flavors.

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One of the highlights of the whole weekend was the result of  referral I received from our amazing wedding coordinator Danae Pearce of Danae Grace Events, who recommended that we check out Embellish Vintage Rentals located in Nipomo, CA. The place is a GOLDMINE. Here are a few snapshots of the beautiful antique and vintage objects available to rent for any special occasion, as well as the breathtaking barn that serves as a drop-dead gorgeous wedding venue.

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A collection of antique clocks caught my eye! Love the two on either end of the front row.

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Glitter signs in French, adorable tins, and some glam golden candelabras. Can’t think of much else a girl could need.

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Rustic meets glam. Yes, please.

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This wall collage of gold mirrors WILL be recreated in my bedroom someday.

We also spent most of Friday night and Saturday organizing our thoughts and narrowing down our DIY projects for wedding decor. This meant a lot of craft store/thrift store/fabric store shopping and about a gazillion questions fired my way requiring me to pull every ounce of my creativity out of nowhere. By Saturday night we had a collection of craft items that would cause Martha Stewart to swoon…

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…and me to pour myself a drink.

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I’m both overwhelmed to have so many projects to finish and excited to have an excuse to do things like this.

If you’d like to participate, I’ll be taking bets on how much of a disaster my good intentions will generate.

An Epidemic of the Aesthetic Kind

The world needs a lot of things. (Especially this week… My heart goes out to Boston and Texas.)

One of these things is this.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Last night, I found myself sitting between two beautiful women while watching Bill play basketball in a league at his gym. One of these women I know well. The other I don’t know as well, but I get to hang out with her on occasion through Bill’s friends. We were having a fantastic time watching the guys and chatting, and the conversation eventually turned, as it usually does, from reality television and baking and going out and laughing to this:

Exchange #1

Me: “I can’t wait until my bachelorette party in Vegas.”

Beautiful Woman on Right: “Me neither! Except I need to do a lot of working out before I go so I can look good in my bikini…”

Me: “Girlfriend, your body is rockin’. You could walk through the basketball court in a bikini right now, and guaranteed the game would stop and all these boys’ jaws would drop.”

BWonR: “That is SO not true.”

Exhange #2

Beautiful Woman on Right: “Holy s*#&! I swear that ball was coming straight at my face!”

Me: “It definitely was. If he hadn’t caught that, you’d FOR SURE have a broken nose.”

BFonR: “Well, that would have been okay. I’ve always wanted a nose job.”

Me: “What?!?!?! WHY???”

BFonR: “I hate my nose. Every woman on my mom’s side has a big awful nose.”

Exchange #3

Beautiful Woman on Right: “We’re starting beach volleyball on Tuesdays next week! I need to firm up my butt so I’m not jiggling all over the place in my bikini!”

Beautiful Woman on Left: “I just went and bought shorts because there is no way I’m jumping around in a bathing suit in front of people.”

Um, wait. There’s another piece to this. Both of these women are tall. And gorgeous. And at least 20 pounds lighter than me. It affected me. I’m not proud of it, but it did.

But it also got me thinking about all the other things that have been playing into that lately too. I remember vividly that last summer when coworkers in the student office I was working in heard that I got engaged, it took approximately 43 seconds for someone to ask when I was going to start getting in shape for the wedding. Except the shape I was in was 5’9″ and athletic-yet-curvy, and I thought it was pretty great already.

And it has been happening steadily since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard terms like “bridal boot camp” and “shedding for the wedding”. In fact, last Tuesday I mentioned to someone that I was going to yoga (which I started to help with stress), and her first reaction was “Good for you! Gotta fit into that wedding dress!” Except when I ordered my dress, the lady at the bridal salon asked me in all seriousness  if I wanted to order my dress in my size (an 8 in bridal gowns) or in a size 6 or 4. Is that a question she commonly has to ask? Isn’t it my dress? So shouldn’t it be in, well, MY size?

I’ve been having a hard time lately. My bachelorette party is in Vegas, which will of course involve days partying by the pool and nights living it up in skin-tight mini dresses. One of my best friends just had a baby, and seeing as how she was a size 0 before she brought that sweet little thing into the world and is well on her way back there, I can guarantee you that she will look “better” than me on that June 1st weekend. And we already know the Beautiful Woman on Right is way smaller than me, and she’ll be there too, not approving of how she looks her her bikini. But now I’ve got it in my head that my bikini has to work 20 lbs harder than her bikini, and it is (and I am) going to be that much less happy about it.

All of a sudden, I went from “I can’t wait until my bachelorette party in Vegas” (see Exchange #1 above) to feeling self-conscious and picking apart my body because all eyes are going to be on me – now the biggest girl there.

Except I’m not big.

How did we get here?

There is an epidemic among girls and women in the country. There is so much pressure for us to look pretty and hot and symmetrical and tan and toned – but not too toned because that’s not attractive – and perfect and cute – but not too cute because that would be creepy.

Frankly, lately I would rather look happy. Healthy. Smart. Funny. Caring. Ambitious. Passionate. And while we’re at it, emotional and capable and complex.

I would rather look like me.

Let’s all work together to make that okay.

Change of Heart

Change of Heart

I was dead set on a beautiful five-tiered wedding cake… but then I met these lovelies.