Category: Everything Else

Not Another Gift Guide

Each holiday, nearly every blogger and business crafts a curated guide of their top gifts for the season. In the past, I too have composed my fair share of gift guides. I’ve even written a post addressing whether these lists, infographics, and collages are actually helpful or hindering. Last year, I felt truly passionate about my shop small gift guide, which focused on supporting local businesses during the season of giving, but this year, I couldn’t bring myself to create another. Yes, most of us have to give a gift or two (or three or a dozen) during the holidays, but I think we could all use a reminder that the most valuable gift we can give is our time.

holiday baking stock

I’m sure your grandparents will make good use of the newfangled Keurig coffee maker you got them, but wouldn’t they love if you sat with them for an hour and worked on a puzzle? Every mom adores a new piece of jewelry for the holidays, but wouldn’t she love for you to join her in the kitchen and bake a batch of cookies from scratch? Your brother may desperately need a new wallet after he accidently washed his in the laundry, but wouldn’t he love to go out back and build a snowman like you used to as kids?

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So, this holiday season, I don’t have another gift guide filled with fabulous suggestions for all the friends and family on your list. This year, I’m challenging you to think about how you can give your time to the ones you love. Take a post-Christmas dinner walk with your boyfriend, gather your cousins for a card game, or get together with your girlfriends and have a gift wrapping party. This holiday season, make a memory that will live on for holiday seasons to come.

AOC Wedding Series: The Reader

Welcome to the next installment of the AOC Wedding Series! In case you missed it, I’ve already covered the biggest wedding role of all (after the bride of course), the Maid of Honor. Now, I’ll be covering a role I believe to be totally underestimated, the reader! In my experience, when it comes to the actual day of the wedding, the reader is more challenging than the Maid of Honor – yes, I said it! As the reader, you have to battle nerves and emotions while actually speaking in front of the entire wedding party and guests. Do not make light of this key role!

Kat and Cait B

Photo by Angie Webb

I also want to acknowledge that my experience as a reader may be somewhat atypical and some of the following advice may not be applicable to all readers. Oftentimes, a reader is a cousin, brother/sister in-law, or someone who was not included in the wedding party that the bride and groom want to involve in the wedding in a special way. In my particular experience as a reader, the bride didn’t have a traditional wedding party, and much of my pre-wedding involvement consisted of duties often designated for bridesmaids. This is a great example of how every wedding is a unique and personal experience for those participating and attending. Now without further ado… the reader!


 

5 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Estimate Expenses, Create a Budget, & Start Saving

  • Here’s a list of some possible expenses you should plan for as the reader:
  1. The Bachelorette Party (see below for a breakdown of potential bachelorette expenses)
  2. Your Dress, Shoes, and Accessories for the Wedding (keep in mind, you may already have something in your closet that will suit the dress code for the big day!)
  3. Bridal Shower (see below for a breakdown of potential bridal shower expenses)
  4. Wedding Gift
  5. Transportation and Accommodations for the Wedding

 

4 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Mark Your Calendar for the Bachelorette Weekend

Bachelorette

  • Communicate your schedule to the Maid of Honor so that she can coordinate a day or weekend that works with everyone’s calendar – keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • Follow the reimbursement plan and repay the MOH
  • Be clear on the game plan for the weekend, and ask the MOH if you can help contribute to the festivities in any way

P.S. Don’t forget, the bachelorette party may include a lingerie shower!


3 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Begin Dress Shopping or Getting Alterations for Yourself

  • Some brides may want to help you select a dress that will coordinate with the colors and aesthetic of the wedding party, and others may leave it up to you – either way, don’t forget about shoes and accessories
  • If the bride wants to help you select a dress, you may need to get alterations
  • If you’re selecting a dress for yourself, be sure to communicate with the bride about your options

2 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Attend a Bridal Shower

  • You may be invited to attend a bridal shower, so head to the registry and get a gift – again, keep in mind this may require a trip to another city

1 MONTH BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Start Practicing Your Reading

  • Don’t put off familiarizing yourself with your reading – you don’t necessarily have to memorize the reading unless the bride specifically asked this of you
  • Address any words or points of inflection you’re stumbling on
  • Practice reading it out loud to a friend, family member, or significant other

DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING:

The Rehearsal

  • Be sure to have a few easy to read copies of your reading printed, packed, and ready for the rehearsal
  • Get clear on the point at which you’ll be reading in the ceremony – make note of what happens or what the officiant will say right before your big moment
  • Know how you will enter and exit

DAY OF THE WEDDING:

Practice + Drink Plenty of Water (and maybe a little champagne) + Breathe!

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Photo by Angie Webb

  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Be sure you and your plus one each have a copy of the reading in case of emergency
  • Keep yourself hydrated so that your voice and throat are clear (don’t forget, a little champagne never hurt to calm your nerves)
  • Breathe and speak slowly, deliberately, and confidently
  • Stand up with your girl and try not to cry – you got this!

AOC Wedding Series: The Maid of Honor

6 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Estimate Expenses, Create a Budget, & Start Saving

  • Here’s a list of some possible expenses you should plan for as a MOH:
  1. Plane Ticket for Dress Shopping
  2. The Bachelorette Party (see below for a breakdown of potential bachelorette expenses)
  3. Your Dress, Shoes, and Accessories for the Wedding
  4. Bridal Shower (see below for a breakdown of potential bridal shower expenses)
  5. Wedding Gift
  6. Transportation and Accommodations for the Wedding

5 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Accompany the Bride Dress Shopping

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  • Coordinate a weekend to go dress shopping – keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • Keep the bride nourished and hydrated throughout the process
  • Take photos of the bride in the dresses from every angle so she can look back and analyze
  • Give honest feedback
  • Bring a simple surprise or souvenir to celebrate when she says YES to the dress

4 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Plan the Bachelorette Party

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  • Talk to the bride about her vision for the festivities
  • Communicate with the bridesmaids and bride to coordinate a day or weekend that works with everyone’s schedule – again, keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • Determine a budget and reimbursement plan that works for the bridesmaids
  • Research and book reservations for whatever is needed: a venue, hotel or housing accommodations, transportation, restaurants, spa day, etc.
  • Make a game plan for the celebration: think about meals, games, gift bags, decorations, activities, etc.

P.S. Don’t forget the bachelorette party can be a great time for a lingerie shower too!


3 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Begin Dress Shopping or Getting Alterations for Yourself

  • Some brides may select a dress for you, and others may select a color and allow you to select a style – either way, don’t forget about shoes and accessories
  • If the bride selects a dress for you, you may need to get alterations
  • If you’re selecting a dress for yourself, be sure to communicate with the bride and other bridesmaids about your options

2 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Host or Attend a Bridal Shower

Bodine Feather Wedding Shower

  • You may decide to host or co-host a bridal shower or you may just be asked to attend a bridal shower – and again, keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • If you’re hosting, be sure to coordinate a date and guest list with the bride and plan for a venue, food, drink, decorations, games, etc.
  • If you’re attending, head to the registry and get a gift

1 MONTH BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Help the Bride with the Details

Evan Tables

Photos by Angie Webb

  • This step may vary depending on the your location and the location of the bride and the wedding, but be sure to offer to help with any of the wedding details – you could easily communicate over email or video call to help the bride finalize things like floral arrangements, centerpieces, or her accessories for the big day

MONTH OF THE WEDDING:

Provide Emotional Support & Encouragement for the Bride

  • Plain and simple, check in regularly and ask: How are you doing, and what can I help with? Don’t forget that the bride is one of your best friends. After the wedding talk, remember to catch up about work or chat about your favorite reality TV show

WEEK OF THE WEDDING:

Write Your Toast for the Reception

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Photo by Angie Webb

  • Don’t put off your toast for the reception – lock this thing down and get it in your head so you can speak through the nerves and tears on the big day

DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Be there for the Bride

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Photo by Angie Webb

  • Get your nails done, enjoy the rehearsal dinner, and get a good night’s sleep

DAY OF THE WEDDING:

Breathe! Take Care of the Bride & Any Hiccups that Arise

Bodine Feather Wedding Collage

Photos by Angie Webb

  • Keep the bride nourished and hydrated
  • Do something nurturing, restorative, and relaxing like a yoga class or massage if time permits
  • Accompany the bride to hair and makeup
  • Check in with the wedding planner, florist, caterer, etc. and be sure everything is going smoothly
  • If you can, field and address any hiccups before the bride finds out
  • Assist the bride in getting out of her clothes and into her dress
  • Be sure the bride looks her best in the photographs
  • Stand up with your girl and try not to cry
  • Head to the reception, toast the happy couple, and dance

 

If you’re a future Maid of Honor, download my Maid of Honor Checklist to help you prepare for your BFF’s big day!

AOC Wedding Series

Wedding season happens every spring, but the time to start preparing is now! I may not be quite like Jane from 27 Dresses, but I’ve been in my fair share of weddings and am ready to share the wealth of information I’ve learned so that you can make the most of your friend’s wedding celebration. This month, I’m finally launching the AOC Wedding Series!

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Photo by Angie Webb

How many save the dates have you already received for 2016? Which of your girlfriends has or may ask you to be part of her big day? Whether you’re going to be a Maid of Honor, a Bridesmaid, a Reader, or a role that falls in the “other” category, I’ve been there and done that! I’m going to help you tackle all of your wedding duties over the next several months. By the time spring rolls around, you’ll be ready to stand up and celebrate with your friend throughout all the festivities.

If you’re starting to panic about being part your best friend’s wedding, just take a step back and breathe! I’m going address each step of the process, including the top stressors of being in a wedding like budgeting for the big day. We’re about six months out from the peak of wedding season. Don’t worry, we’ve got time, and we’re going to do this together!

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Photo by Angie Webb

So, if you’re already fretting about your friend’s spring wedding, you’re in the right place. My first AOC Wedding Series post is going to address the biggest role of all (after the bride of course): the Maid of Honor. If you’ve been granted this esteemed (and somewhat intimidating) task, you will not want to miss the first installment of the AOC Wedding series. Calling all my future Maid of Honors – we got this! Stay tuned to AOC Blog – the next post in the AOC Wedding Series is for you!

5 Ways to Start Fall in Style

Growing up in the south, fall never felt like a profound transition. Sure we went back to school and started following football instead of baseball, but the weather remained temperate, if not hot, well into October.

This year, at almost the exact moment we transitioned to the autumnal equinox, fall fell on New York City. The air has started to get cool and crisp in the early morning and at sunset, and there’s a distinct sensation that something is shifting.

The changing of seasons can be time to slip into a slump or, oppositely, get caught up and carried away with transformation. I urge you to ease yourself into autumn, and start fall in style with five of my favorite seasonal activities:


1. CURL UP WITH A NEW BOOK

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Photo by Angie Webb

One of my favorite fall pastimes is holing up in my apartment on a Saturday with a good book and a warm cup of tea. When weather permits, it’s also lovely to embrace the chill in the air, pile on a scarf and some layers, and soak up the last remaining months before winter by posting up on a park bench and reading outside.


2. STAY ACTIVE

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Photo by Sonali Prabhu

Bikini season is over and the weather is getting cooler, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important to stay active in the fall and winter months. Prepare for rich foods and overindulging during the holiday season now by maintaining your exercise routine. Staying connected to your body will also help you weather the transition!


3. RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD BAR

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Mercedes Bleth, Photo by Logan Potterf

Fall is a time when everyone tends to return home and settle into their typical routines. Now that everybody is back from irregular summer schedules and trips, it’s a great time to come together and reconnect. Simply gather with your friends on a Friday night at your neighborhood bar and catch up!


4. REASSESS YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE

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Photo by Sonali Prabhu

When the weather changes, so should your beauty routine. With cooler temperatures, drier air, and increased winds, it’s important to keep your skin nourished. Reassess your bases, like moisturizer and foundation, and invest in products that will keep you hydrated into the winter.


5. SUPPORT THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE

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Erica Bryan, Photo by Alyson Jarvis

Concerts are a great indoor activity for fall whether you’re planning a date night or enjoying a girl’s night out. Indulging in artistic entertainment will help boost your spirits and eliminate the cold weather blues. Scope out your city’s venues, check out the tour dates for your favorite artists, and support the local music scene this season!