Ready - Set - PLAN!

The time is here, wedding planning! Some say I'm wedding planning obsessed, and sometimes I think they're right but I'm okay with that. Here are a few details I've learned to get in order right out of the engagement gate:

* Get organized! Whatever your system is, get it together soon. My plan of attack was a large binder complete with a calendar, divider tabs, pockets, folders, paper get the idea. This book will become my lifeline. It's intended to hold to-do lists, inspiration, wedding party information, vendors and contracts, guest lists, notes, registry information, etc.

* Set a budget. You've got this great organized book ready to hit the bridal pavement and start making those dreams come true. The reality of it is no one likes to window shop when you're planning a wedding. You need to get the cash plan together as soon as you can. Whatever your dream wedding consists of, start researching. Talk to recently married friends and family members to get an idea of what the real cost of doing wedding business is these days. Once you have a ballpark idea of how many additional jobs you're going to need to work is when you start putting the pen to paper. Are you and your fiance going to be paying for the wedding yourselves? Is family going to help or even pay for the entire wedding? These are important questions to talk through to find out how to set your budget. Once you have the budget in place is when you can start shopping and allocating money accordingly. If you've taken my advice and purchased David Tutera's new book, he has a great breakdown of how any wedding budget typically should be used.

* Appraise and purchase insurance for your engagement ring. Your honey spent a lot of time and money on that investment, so be sure to protect it!

* Start flipping through those wedding and bridal magazines to get ideas and inspiration.

* Begin thinking and wedding dates and venues. This will also be a key role in your budget that you've already set!

* Create a wedding website. There are many free sites that offer you a variety of ways to keep loved ones up-to-date with your wedding plans. I chose The Knot to host our website. That whole website is great for the planning process too!

* Get an idea of where you want to register for gifts. Start making a list of what you and your fiance are in need of or want for your new life together. However, know when to register and don't do it too soon if you're planning a long engagement. I know it's exciting but keep in mind seasonal and discontinued items. Seven to nine months prior to your wedding date is a good time to start firing away those registering guns! Also, try to include a store that guests can access online to shop/buy/ship your gift in case they're not close to the brick and mortar location.

* Have an engagement party! Many couples are hosting this party themselves or having family/friends host it for them. Remember to budget for this too and to not let it upstage the wedding and its planning. Pick a theme that's completely different from what your wedding theme will be. Gifts are not expected at these parties however if you love to shop, picture frames, bridal magazine subscriptions, and scrapbook supplies are all great places to start.

* Start that wedding/honeymoon fitness routine if it's been awhile since the treadmill took you out on a date.

* Take some time off. You've now plunged into wedding planning head first. Relax, breathe, and spend some time with your fiance without any talk of wedding planning. Remember to include him but not overwhelm him. Do not become a Bridezilla and so involved that planning takes over your life. Enjoy this time!

Cloud 9

I've been wishing and waiting for this new "relationship" status to change for quite some time now and it's finally here!! Where to start?

Being that I have a big interest in event planning, I right away wanted to dive right in; however, I received a great piece of advice from David Tutera's book, The Big White Book of Weddings ... Enjoy your time on cloud 9. Plain and simple. I highly recommend his book.

Ladies, place a temporary hold on planning because once you start, it's extremely hard to stop! Take time to spend with your new fiance', cherish this new exciting time, gaze at your beautiful ring, and retell the proposal story. Take it all in and celebrate your new relationship status!


One of the first "demands" I got and am still getting is, "SHOW ME THE RING!" Being absolutely in love with my perfect and gorgeous new piece of sparkling jewelry, I have no problem showing it off! Sean did it all on his own and I couldn't be more proud of him!

So for all those BLING lovers, here it is ...

The Surprises Keep Coming!

Moments after my big shock - I was greeted by even more family members and friends in the restaurant. My "girls night out" dinner turned into a reservation for 20! It was perfect; I only wish my friends and family from Georgia could have been there. We'll see them soon though! Here is a few photos from mine and Sean's surprise proposal dinner...

The AMAZING cake designed by my mom

Great Friends



He Proposed!

Shortly after starting his new job, Sean began putting in long hours at the office. I knew how hard he was working however I didn’t necessarily realize exactly for what reason. Sean began planning the engagement from the moment he got his job and plans started to come together about a month before he would ask the love of his life to marry him. Sean told me how well he was doing at work and convinced me that he had to travel to Louisiana for a weekend of training; however he was really planning on driving to Atlanta to ask my dad for his blessing to marry me instead. Within a couple of weeks of his trip, Sean ran into many obstacles that would cause him to alter his plans on a daily basis. He often left work early to scope out various beaches and restaurants in order to find that perfect spot to ask the most important question of his life. After many failed attempts Sean finally found the ideal spot, Little Harbor. The beach was beautiful, secluded, and it had the most amazing restaurant on the beach to host our engagement dinner afterwards.

Sean realized that everyone that needed to be involved with the proposal had conflicting schedules and the only date that would work would be the Saturday of his planned Atlanta weekend. This meant he had to drive to Atlanta after work on Thursday evening and leave the following night to make it back for work on Saturday at 9am (in Tampa!). Sean’s only intentions for this extremely brief trip to Georgia were to have dinner with an unsuspecting future father-in-law. Sean had been coordinating with my brother Brooks for weeks to ensure everything went according plan since the window of opportunity was exceptionally narrow to surprise my dad.

Now I was still oblivious to everything going and on that Thursday, I wished him a safe trip to “Louisiana.” He coordinated real flight schedules, layovers, and time zones. The night he left for “Louisiana,” he drove to Atlanta. He would pull over numerous times on the side of the road to tell me he landed and arrived at his hotel. Sean arrived at Emily’s house, my best friend, around 1am Friday morning, who did not know why he was driving up. Sean decided to surprise Emily and her other friend Nikki with the good news.

The next day Sean drove across North Atlanta to visit my old college of Kennesaw State University and one of our favorite destinations, Chateau Elan, to gather gifts for me. Later that night Sean surprised my dad, Steve, and asked him if he could marry his daughter. Steve was so happy and so ecstatic that I had found a good man in Sean, one who respected both him and me enough to drive all the way to Atlanta for one day to ask a single question. After dinner Sean began his seven hour drive back home and arrived home at 3am only to have to turn around and go to work at 9am that same morning.

Meanwhile, I had planned to go out to dinner with my friends, Kim and Jincy, at Little Harbor that Saturday night. When Saturday rolled around, I was really missing Sean and wishing he was home. While I was pulling into the parking lot, I received a text from Kim saying she and Jincy were already there and had walked far down the beach. Being that I was 10 minutes early (which never happens), I was confused on how they were already there and managed to walk so far already. I was more concerned though and a bit irritated at the fact I had on heels and a nice dress, clearly not the ideal beach outfit. What were Kim and Jincy thinking? While I walked and walked to meet my friends, I finally could see them way down the beach and became more irritated that they weren’t walking fast enough to meet me!

As I walked a little further, I saw a guy walk down towards the beach that looked a lot like Sean. I thought to myself, “Okay you are seriously losing your mind, that is NOT Sean!” But he kept walking towards me and I realized that it really WAS Sean! What was he doing here? Why wasn’t he in Louisiana? Why was he hiding? So many questions ran through my confused mind as he got closer. Little did I know that he had a question for me.

Sean got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so overwhelmed and shocked with what was going on that I didn’t even answer and just threw my arms around Sean! He had to say, “So, I take that as a ‘yes’?” And that is when I came to, screamed “YES!” and jumped back into Sean’s arms!

Friends and a few family members were watching from various locations as well hiding in the bushes to take pictures to capture that great moment!