Hacks For a Stress-Free Wedding

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We’ve all heard about how stressful weddings can be. For many people, it’s the first (and possibly only) time they’ll plan an event on this large of a scale. And to top it off, it concerns one of the most important days of their lives. So, the pressure really is on. Unless you choose to elope or get married at the courthouse, it’s almost impossible to avoid the stress that accompanies wedding planning. We’ve all seen this unfold in our own lives – your most laid-back sister, brother, or friend shows you a side you didn’t know existed. So how do we avoid it? Well, you don’t really, but we do have a few ways to take the pressure down a notch:

{ Photo: Charity Swords, Robes: Doie Lounge }

  • Have you ever heard the saying “Luck favors the prepared”? I can’t think of a better example of this maxim than with planning a wedding. Think of everything that could wrong – weather, absent or extra guests, an uncooperative band, slow service, and be prepared for at least one. You will not be as caught off guard if you prepare as much as possible as soon as possible. Try not to leave anything to the last minute – that is the number one cause of stress, truly. You’re probably going to be engaged for at least a few months, so get it done, don’t wait.

 

  • Find a venue that has catering and bartenders included. Sara and Chad’s (link to your bio here), venue, Barndiva in Healdsburg, provided the food and drinks as part of the package. Many venues will not allow outside food or drink (fortunately the food was delicious), and this option takes a lot of stress out of finding a caterer.

 

  • Think about what you can live without. I remember when my sister-in-law got married in San Francisco a few years ago, she opted to forego the gift bags, a wedding party, and the morning brunch. Maybe you opt to not do programs for the ceremony, or table assignments, which are both way more time-consuming than you may realize. But guess what? When people look back on your wedding, they’re going to remember the magical moments, not what was missing.

 

  • On the subject of wedding parties, if you know that you are going to have a difficult bridesmaid in the mix, appoint a friend or family member to keep an eye on her, so you don’t have to worry. Let’s be honest, we all have that friend or family member who drives us crazy, but whom we could never get away with not including – in fact, they would make our lives worse if we didn’t, so stay ahead of this one, and let a few people know that you’d rather not have to be responsible for her on your big day.

 

  • Rain plan!! Not having one is so stressful. I’d add extreme heat plan too. As I’ve shared here before, I was so afraid of rain at my June wedding in Vermont, that I never considered heat. Instead of thinking about indoor ceremony venue and umbrellas, I should have looked at the weather and provided fans and extra water.

 

I’m sure some of you have had some more experiences that we haven’t mentioned here. Ultimately, you really can’t control your guests’ experience, so give yourself a break. When the day comes, enjoy yourself no matter what. The weddings with bad weather or a silly band or an awkward toast end up being the ones that stand out among the rest. A little yoga and meditation leading up to the wedding isn’t a bad idea either, to remind you to stay present regardless of what happens.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag

If you’ve never given birth before, and you plan to do so in a hospital, it can be overwhelming wondering what you might need for your delivery. Have no fear, lifestyle blogger and mother of three, Chandra Fredrick (of Oh Lovely Day) spells out exactly what you need to take with you, as well as some of her favorite brands (Doie Lounge included!).

{ Photo: Chandra Fredrick }

Chandra spills it all to the Land of Nod blog, and you can read it right here.

xx

Sara

Planning For Your Honeymoon

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So the wedding is planned and you’re ready to relax, but guess what? The honeymoon will most likely follow shortly afterwards, so let’s get you ready. As our dear founder (and avid traveler), Sara Kirsner Stith, knows, you can never be too prepared. Tip number one: there’s way more to travel prep than just packing, especially if you’re traveling abroad. Here are few more of Sara’s tips for planning your honeymoon:

{ Photo: Anatara Dhigu Maldives }

  • Talk to friends or family who have already traveled to your destination. Sara shared that she never wore heels in Thailand or Cambodia – even at her fancy hotel. Knowing this, she advises friends heading to Southeast Asia to pack wedges and flats instead. While books and websites are extremely useful, you can save a lot of time with a quick email or post asking friends to recommend their top three things to see or do at your destination. If you don’t have a friend who has been to where you plan to go, check out The Hitch List to get real reviews from honeymooners.

 

  • If the locals don’t speak English where you’re headed, learn a little of their language. There are plenty of apps available. Study ahead of time while you’re at the gym or folding the laundry. Even knowing just a few basic words will make your life easier when you’re traveling, and the locals always appreciate the effort.

 

  • Pack the right prescriptions and be sure to get the correct vaccinations. Check out the Center for Disease Control website, which has a handy list of shots required for each country. Don’t take for granted that things like Advil, tampons, or Band-Aids will be easy to come by. If you really want to be covered, you can also purchase insurance from DAN, which is an inexpensive way to be assisted in a medical emergency, anywhere in the world, (even if you are not a diver).

 

  • Remember to think about comfort for the long plane rides: a sleep mask is a must, and travel neck pillows will make the hours pass in comfort. Make a travel play-list and wear pants or leggings that are comfortable at the waist. And don’t forget to bring snacks!

 

  • If you’re one of the lucky one who will be traveling to multiple destinations, keep in mind that you should pack light and plan on repurposing many of your clothes. You don’t want to be burdened by heavy luggage, so think about layers and clothes that don’t require ironing. Also, be sure to bring some basics that can be mixed and matched to create a few different looks, with limited pieces. Jewelry, and a cardigan, are always key in taking a look from day to night, and they don’t take up much room in your bag.

 

  • Do a little research: remember one of the best parts of traveling is that you’ll be exposed to different cultures and customs. A polite gesture in one country could be offensive in another. There are loads of books and web sites that deal with specific cultures; Kwintessential and Cutlure Trip both cover a lot of ground.

 

  • Last, but definitely not least, make sure that your passport is up to date! Also, most countries require that your passport should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. Most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final day of travel.

 

Remember what they say about “the best-laid plans” – even the most prepared traveler will still most likely have an experience that she has not arranged for. The most important thing you can pack is a good attitude – especially since you’ll be traveling with your new spouse. Enjoy it, and laugh it off with things don’t go as planned. These will be the stories you share when you come home.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

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Love is in the air, can you feel it? It’s time for our Valentine’s Day gift guide! Short and sweet– from self-love, to pet-love, and everything in between.

Photo: Shop BoxFox

New Love

Congratulations, you’re in love! Maybe you’ve told him/her, maybe you haven’t, but you’re sure you want to kick it up a notch, take it to the next level. These “My Place” and “Your Place” keychains, from Box Fox are the perfect way to say “let’s do this,” without going over the top. Chocolates and jewelry are predictable– this gift says so much more. Nothing says “love,” like trusting someone in your place when you aren’t home.

Photo: Jesse Goff for Doie Lounge

Friend Love

Have a friend who might need a little pick-me-up, or a friend who you just want to thank for her love and friendship? You can’t go wrong with a girly, super-luxe, robe (in pink!).  These robes are unbelievably soft and made in Los Angeles with the highest quality fabrics. This glamorous gift fits most bodies, comes in sizes XS-XL, and looks stunning on both short and tall frames.

 

Photo: Via

Self Love

Treat yourself! Give yourself the ultimate gift of love, balance, and well being with a Reiki session. Replenish your energy and restore balance with the healing energy of love. If you are unfamiliar with Reiki, you can learn more about it here. Ready to spoil yourself? Make an appointment with Nicole Montano here.

 

Photo: Barkbox

Pet Love

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I stop by my sister’s house under the guise that I want to say a “quick hello” to her, but I really just want a little snuggle with her dog! Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see my sister and her family, but I’m just obsessed with that happy little fluff ball that meets me at the door. Do you have a pet that you love? Surprise your furry friend with Barkbox, a themed monthly subscription box filled with toys and treats.

Photo: Google Images

Romantic Love

I’m of the mindset that “experience” gifts are often the most valuable gifts of all. A couples massage is not only romantic, it’s relaxing and will take you both to a “blissed out” happy place that will carry on throughout the night. This is also a great last-minute gift, as gift certificates are often available if you will be doing the massage at a later date.

 

Love to all and Happy Valentine’s Day!

xx

Sara

Shibori Themed Weddings

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Shibori, a Japanese dying technique that often resembles tie-dye, has been used in Japan since the 8th century, but has just recently become trendy in the United States. Sometimes referred to as Indigo-dyed, Shibori, has been an emerging theme on the wedding scene lately and can be used as an accent, or as the cornerstone, on which to build the entire wedding design around.

{ Photo: Dima Dychek }

{ Photo: Ulmer Studios }

A common thread in Shibori themed weddings is the deep indigo color contrasted with white. There are several variations and interpretations of this trend seen in paper goods, linens, and even incorporated into fashion like the below wedding dress and bridal robe.

{ Photo: Via }

{ Bridal Robe from Doie Lounge }

Cakes make a great canvas on which to showcase this trend. The options are seemingly endless as both patterns, and abstract designs, work well. This is also an opportunity to add some accent colors with flowers or a metallic frosting. As the wedding cake is almost always on display, this is a great way to keep the Shibori theme throughout, but in a subtle way.

{ Photo: Katie Pritchard }

{Photo: Via }

The most obvious and easiest way to incorporate the Shibori theme into a wedding is to use napkins and other fabric goods, such as table runners, in the tablescape. These are easily found on places like Etsy or there are several DYI online tutorials. I love this one by Honestly WTF. If you have a wedding planner, he or she might also know where you can rent Indigo dyed linens.

{ Another great DYI by Alice and Lois }

{ Photo: Pinterest }

From flowers to favors, there is so much more than can be done to incorporate Shibori elements into your special day. Exploring Pinterest is always a good place to start. Whether adding a few indigo dyed pieces into the mix, or taking this theme as far as it can go, Shibori themed weddings take “something blue” to a whole new level. Happy Planning!

xx

Sara

Destination Weddings

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Originally, destination weddings were more synonymous with eloping or an alternative to big, over-the-top weddings: you’d grab a few close friends and family and head down south for a quick get-away. But over the past fifteen years or so, destination weddings have become increasingly popular and include everywhere from Sonoma to Aspen, to Maine and Florida – with many adventurous couples even planning weddings abroad. And why not? Most often, destination weddings are less formal, more cost effective, and involve less drama than hometown weddings.

Photo Via WedFest

The true impetus for many is the desire to have something original, a wedding weekend that stands out among the more cookie-cutter ones. With the advent of destination weddings, brides and grooms have more ownership over decisions as neither set of parents can lay claim on the venue. With the help of Pinterest and wedding web sites, couples can tailor their weddings to the location. Weddings in the mountains may feature barns or cabins, wildflowers, haystacks – possibly even horses or livestock. Coastal weddings may include ceremonies on the beach, fruity cocktails, steel drum or calypso bands.

Song Saa Wedding, Photo by Mott Visual Weddings

Another added bonus? The guests who are able to make the trip will have many more activities available to them. At a certain close friend’s recent wedding in Healdsburg, we spent one afternoon wine tasting around Sonoma and the next day touring breweries. My husband’s most memorable destination wedding activity was a trip to the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum in Jupiter Florida. No kidding – he still has the hat he bought at the gift shop. Point being – we all love to travel to new places, have novel experiences, and being a guest at a destination wedding is often a mini-vacation.

Photo: Erica Chan

A few final things to keep in mind:

  • If kids are involved, you’ll keep everyone happy if you schedule a destination wedding during the summer break.
  • Even at the height of wedding season, there will be conflicts. Don’t take it personally if not every single person you invite can make it; for many, the cost of plane tickets and lodging will prevent them from attending.
  • For those who do make the trek, put together an extra special welcome bag. It’s a nice gesture to great your guests with something to eat and drink upon their arrival. For your bridesmaids, who have most likely put in even more effort, make them feel appreciated with special tokens for the weekend – matching robes that you can all wear as you’re getting dressed or a gift that ties into the location – wraps for cold weather, sandals or flip flops for the tropics. You get the idea…

Destination Weddings Bridesmaid Gift via Doie Lounge

And remember, a destination wedding does not exempt you from the regular potential pitfalls of a wedding: there could be rain, snow or excessive heat, and at least a few guests will most likely be over-served. But as they say, a rainy wedding day predicts a happy marriage.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

Free Shipping, Always

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We love our customers and want to show them, so… standard shipping is now on us! No cost changes, no hidden fees, no minimums, just our new way of doing business.

Photo: Rebecca Rotherberg Photography

 

Small Business Shopping

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The holidays. Though this is a festive, celebratory time of year, doesn’t it seem harder and harder each year to come up with original gift ideas? While the internet provides ample opportunities to support independent artists (hello Etsy), this is also a great time to support local, independent businesses that depend on the holidays for much of the year’s revenues. From where I sit on the east coast, just outside of New York City, it seems like another mom and pop store closes each day. Yes, it’s easier (and many times cheaper) to shop online, but we should be mindful of how that collective behavior affects our towns and neighborhoods. We can’t expect our favorite local bookstore to stay in business if we never shop there. So let’s make it our pledge this year, to not only get creative, but to support each other while we’re at it. If you’re traveling for the holidays, think about something special that exists only where you live, and bring these items as hostess and holidays gifts. Here are four other ways to shop mindfully:

shop-small

  • Shop fair trade stores and nonprofits where you’re more likely to find handmade or artisan treasures. These stores are easier to find than you think; many have popped up in recent years as a backlash to the corporate conglomerates. Fair trade stores only sell items in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries, while nonprofits donate all or most of their profits to local and global organizations. You’re also more likely to find unique gifts at these stores.
  • Shop consigned items. Who doesn’t love a rare find at a local flea market? Well, okay, not everyone, but you are sure to impress that discerning family member with a rare art print, an antique china collection, or piece of mid-century flare (so on trend right now). Consignment shops are everywhere, and you can also find many high quality consigned goods and hand-crafted items at a Women’s Exchange. Check out the Federation of Women’s Exchanges to see if there is one near you or where you are traveling.
  • Craft fairs: These seem to be everywhere and every weekend this month. Local artisans gather in an open-space setting (schools auditoriums, libraries, warehouses, fields if the weather allows), to sell their artwork, repurposed furniture, jewelry, and fashions. If you’re lucky, your pop up market may even provide food trucks and some entertainment to keep the mood festive while you shop.
  • If you must shop online, find sites that are Certified B corporations like Etsy, that take into account social and environmental concerns along with its business goals, retailers like The Little Market that feature fair trade global handmade goods, or blogs like Emmaline Bride that focus on handmade wedding planning.

local-craft-fair

So there you have it. That should be enough to get you going. If a busy career or just a busy life makes it impossible for you to leave the house to shop, there are ways to shop mindfully online. Do your research, and remember everyone loves to receive meaningful gifts with unique stories.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First: Advice For New Moms

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Odds are, if you’ve had a baby in the past year or so, someone has said to you at some point: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” But this can be frustrating, right? There always so much to do while they sleep: clean the burp rags; wash the bottles; take out the dirty diapers; find the exact paci or bouncy seat or swing that will soothe your hysterical child; research some strange infliction you’re convinced your baby has. And none of that takes you, the mother, into account. But as they say at the beginning of airplane flights: “in the event of an emergency, put your own mask on before your child’s.” How can you help your child if you can’t breathe? Here are some simple strategies for how you can take care of yourself during those first few weeks or months of being a new mom:

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Robe and sleep mask from Doie Lounge

  • Shut your eyes: even for just ten minutes. Wherever you are -sitting upright at the kitchen counter, sitting in the driver’s seat (in park of course) outside of CVS, on your couch while pumping a bottle – close your eyes. Odds are you won’t have time to go upstairs and get under the covers for a two-hour nap. Sleep masks help with this, and white noise, too. I also love the Headspace app that eases you into short daily meditations.
  • Take a drive or a stroll (not a walk). Ideally, this drive or walk is alone and you are singing along to your favorite tunes or nodding your head along to a podcast. Meander around your favorite roads, or slowly walk around a neighborhood that makes you feel peaceful. The idea here is not exercise – we’ve all heard that is good for your mental health and stress release; just take a break, albeit short, from the intense daily grind of taking care of a baby.
  • See a movie or go check out some art. This may seem obvious, but I did find it extremely rewarding during those early years to transport myself to a different (mental) place by going to see a movie –not too realistic, maybe avoid family dramas, or checking out an art exhibit. These types of excursions feed your soul in a way that make you fill a little more complete when you step back into your every day reality.
  • Call a friend. Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how people change when they have children. I always, always, always felt better after calling a friend – and in many cases crying – about one baby-related issue or another. They’ll provide much-needed support and you’ll be better off having vented whatever you probably had pent up inside.
  • Kick everyone out. If you have no budget for babysitting or you’re living in a new place and have not made any friends yet, ask your partner or a family member to take the baby out for a few hours, put on a robe, kick your feet up, and do whatever little thing you miss doing now that someone else’s needs come before your own: paint your nails (hey, maybe even file them), pluck your eyebrows, do a cleansing mask, read a mindless magazine or watch the Housewives. Try to be present and enjoy the sound of a quiet house while you can.

Obviously if you have round-the-clock help, these ideas won’t apply to you, but for the rest of us, it’s important to let go any ideas of perfection or mastery (that’s not good for the baby either). Accept that some days will bring you to your knees, but that every day your baby is getting a tiny bit older, and you are becoming a stronger, more seasoned mom.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

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