Friday, February 28, 2014

My Swagbucks Experience

I kept hearing people talk about Swagbucks, and last summer I finally broke down and joined.  I didn't have a ton of time to spend on the site what with wedding planning and all, but when I was able to get a free $5 Amazon gift card by doing a handful of surveys and tasks? I was hooked.

I can't say I go on there every day.  And I've even gone weeks at a time without logging on.  But when I do get the urge to hop on, I'm usually able to easily rack up some points.

If you haven't check it out, I encourage you to do so.  You can use my referral link here.  I think we both get some bonus points or something if you use it, though don't quote me on that.

I think I've earned about $25 in Amazon gift cards for maybe a few hours combined total of time.  I realize that no, that's not a great hourly rate or anything to brag about... but considering I piddle on the site most of the time when I'm sitting and watching tv (and otherwise wouldn't be doing anything else except watching tv), it's really not half bad.

They have a lot of options for what gift cards you can cash in points for and get, but I like that the Amazon $5 cards are only 450 points whereas a lot of the other $5 cards are 500 points. Plus, we use Amazon a lot to get things for the house, gifts, etc.  Whenever I cash in points, it typically takes only 1-2 days before I get the email with the gift card code, and then it's immediately able to be added to our Amazon account to use whenever we wish.

I don't know that I'll ever be someone who tries to make a ton of money with online surveys or that will get into stocking up on stuff for free with coupons at the grocery store, but I love finding little ways that I can contribute to us saving money wherever I can. To piddle around on this site for a few minutes here and there and occasionally get a free gift card from it?  It's pretty cool!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Wedding - The Ceremony

After the slew of pictures all afternoon, we had scheduled a little downtime for everyone to relax a bit. We had some sub sandwiches brought in so we could have some dinner. Before I knew it, it was time to get my veil on and go get married!

This was when my mom finally broke down and started crying.  She said, "but now you're really a bride!"  I had decided to only wear my veil for the ceremony itself, but I did like how I looked like a bride with it on!

We shuffled over from the suite to the main building, and everyone got lined up.  It was sort of a surreal feeling for me... I was so excited, and it was sort of crazy to be down the stairs knowing everything was getting started and everyone was waiting on me to come down the aisle.

Before the ceremony, we had some of our favorite music from artists like Mumford and Sons, Dave Barnes and such playing.  Adam seated both of the moms, and then it was time for the processional!

I love this photo of Adam and Ben (our close friend who performed our ceremony) waiting for everyone to start coming down the aisle.  Adam looks so happy!

Our processional was to "On Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons.  We wanted for there to be a fun and exciting ambiance, and I encouraged our wedding party to dance down the aisle.  It's easier to see in our video of course, but I was so happy that they all danced and twirled down the aisle and had fun with it! I really love the lyrics to this song, and we felt like it was perfect for describing how we felt about this special day.

Connor was adorable as ever, of course! I am so glad we opted to have him carry this sign (that my awesome mom made).  We felt he was too old to walk down carrying a pillow, and that sort of fru fru stuff just really isn't my thing anyways, haha.

And then my daddy walked me down the aisle to my groom!

Our ceremony was about 20 minutes or so.  We had worked with Ben in advance and written a lot of what we wanted shared, but he also worked up a few parts himself.  Ben knew both of us separately at MTSU, and then he has been a dear friend as we got together and fell in love.

We opted to have the kids sit down after the prayer. Then, Ben shared with everyone a bit of our story - how we met in 2003, how our lives weaved in and out for years, and how we came together in 2012 and fell in love.

We each wrote our own vows, and I'm so glad we did.  I feel like it kept everything very personal and allowed folks who attended that only knew one of us get to know the other person and learn more about our relationship. We also wrote what we wanted to repeat during our ring exchange.  We really went pretty non-traditional on most everything, but I love everything we did.

And before we knew it, we were husband and wife and had our first kiss!

Our recessional was to "You and Me" by Dave Matthews Band (another favorite that we felt perfectly described how we feel about starting our life together), and we all headed downstairs.  After everyone was escorted out, my amazingly talented friend Courtney played piano and sang "When the Right One Comes Along" from the Nashville soundtrack.  I know that may sound cheesy, but I watch the show and fell in love with that song last year because it perfectly describes how I felt about finding my man after all these years of praying for him to come my way.

We had a few minutes to just sort of chill while everyone upstairs enjoyed the performance.  I love this photo of me bent down talking to Connor.  I think I was asking him if he was looking forward to our dance together at the reception. (He was pretty excited, and we loved seeing how much fun he was having!)

After the performance, we headed back to the crowd to snap some of the needed family photos before the reception. Those are up next!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Wedding: Paper, Decor and Such

Before we move on to the ceremony, I want to share a few more photos of some of the paper items and decor that we chose for the wedding.

My friend Matt was awesome and designed our Save the Date's and Invitations for us as a wedding gift.  I couldn't have been happier with how he took my vision and put it on paper perfectly.  We used a local print shop in town to print them.  A lot of our wedding was rather untraditional including our paper items.  Adam and I just couldn't justify spending a ton of our budget on something that everyone other than us would likely throw in the trash at some point.

We planned a pretty southern wedding complete with mason jars and burlap, so I was thrilled that Matt was able to translate that to our Save the Dates.  My favorite color is green so it was a no brainer we'd use it in everything!

Our invitations had the same color scheme, and we kept the design and the content as simple as possible.  We tied a small green ribbon around these before they went in the envelope.

My amazing friend Keri designed our program as a gift, another item we didn't want to put a lot of money into. We kept the same color scheme, and we made them fun including fun facts about us!

And for all our fellow Dave fans out there, I'm sure you'll appreciate our fire dancer instead of an ampersand. We used a good bit of DMB music at the wedding!

All of our decor is thanks to my mother and a lot of her lady friends. I am not really as crafty as she is in general, but she loves that sort of stuff so it was her project for the wedding.  She spent hours making everything we needed, and I couldn't be more thankful.  I basically gave her my vision and she made it happen.  Everything looked amazing and exactly how I wanted! (And Adam liked it, too.  He kept telling me that he loved my ideas so we went with them.)

My dad built this arch, and then mom made the flower arrangement (fake!) and wrapped it in fabric.  We found some inexpensive plant stands and borrowed ferns from a family friend.  The venue came with the string lights.  This is the corner where we did the ceremony.  I love how simple but elegant it turned out.

Each of the tables had a green cloth and then an arrangement of wine bottles and mason jars that mom decorated with all sorts of burlap flowers she made.  Some of the jars also had sand and candles that were lit before the reception.

You've already seen them, but here's another gratuitous picture of my gorgeous flowers - but with our rings on them!

Our main table - this is where folks signed our guest book (an album of our engagement pictures).  We had mints and the "Mint to be" sign along with a photo and our memory candle. 

Memory candle and note

Our gift table - this is also where we had the container of bags of rainbow sprinkles that guests would toss when we leave. 

Another shot of the gift table along with my flowers

My cake table

Our beautiful cake! Keep in mind that we did a dessert reception, so we opted for a smaller cake as we knew not all the guests would want cake.

Groom's cake - It looked so good!

Adam's cake table - Mom made sure to decorate those tables, too!

This is also a good place to note my something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue... we didn't really take photos per se, but I did make a point to ensure I had one of each  - because I do like some tradition!

My old was that a piece of my mom's dress was sewn on to mine.
My new was my gown (and garter, veil and head piece).
My borrowed was the earrings I wore that are my sister's.
My blue was my underwear. ;)

Our venue was gorgeous so we didn't need a ton of decor, but I am pleased with how everything we did turned out.  Everything was so simple but "classy Southern."  I just love how it all looked!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Our Wedding - Candids from Before the Ceremony

I hope you're not getting tired of the wedding posts just yet.  I still want to share about our decor, and then the ceremony... and then it gets really fun with the reception shots where the REAL party started!

For now, I want to share a few more photos that our photographers at Brown Lab Photography snapped throughout the day that capture some more candid moments.  I love having these glimpses into the activities of the day!

The gals helped to get drinks iced down for everyone to enjoy throughout the day.

Relaxing a bit in the bridal suite.

Amanda having some fun.

Stephanie signing the guest book. 

Connor relaxing a bit with his great aunt before getting changed into his tux.

Adam's mom pinning on his boutonniere.

This shot is from the First Look.  What I love most about it is how Adam is doing his lips... it's something he does when he's nervous.

It was a small feat for me to get down on the floor like this, and an even bigger one for the two photographers and Adam to help me get back up.

Bridal Suite

Bridal Suite

My mom helped me make initialed glasses for those who were there in the morning to have for their mimosas/other beverages.

Our little one being himself as Daddy helps him get ready.  I love that they snapped this!

Sweet kiddos

The flower girls killing some time before the ceremony.

A family friend helping to carry my flowers as we took a few more pictures before the ceremony.

There are so many things I love about this picture. I have no idea when this was taken or what was going on, but I love this incredulous look that all of the girls are giving Tony.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Wedding - The Wedding Party

Adam and I decided early on in the planning that we wanted to keep our wedding party on the smaller side. It's not that we don't have a lot of close friends that we would have LOVED to have stand with us as we do!  But we knew that the "corner" of The Mill where we would stand for the ceremony wasn't that big, and we didn't want to have an overwhelming crowd up there.

Adam asked his brother to be the Best Man, and then two of his close friends from MTSU served as groomsmen.  And of course, Connor was our sign bearer!

I asked my sister to be the Maid of Honor, and then the two girlfriends I've had the longest served as my bridesmaids.  I asked the two daughters of a family friend to be our flower girls.  I think I mentioned this before, but their mom was the flower girl in my parents' wedding in 1977!

It was amazing to have all of these people as such an important part of our big day.  We couldn't be more thankful for each of them and all that they did to make the day even more special than we ever imagined!

We LOVE some of the great shots our photographers at Brown Lab Photography got of our wedding party.  Here are some of my favorites:

The bridesmaid dresses hanging with mine.

The guys didn't have to show up until lunch time to start getting ready.  It's fun to see shots of things I didn't see since I was hidden in the suite.

All of us ladies sporting our monogrammed shirts.

Have I mentioned yet how pleased I am with the dresses being the PERFECT shade of green?! They look so good in these pictures.

My beautiful sister playing around a bit as we took pictures outside.

All the ladies!

All the fellas!

So when I asked the girls to be in the wedding, I had found some awesome cards on etsy of a bride and a toilet with the words "a little help?" I knew at some point I was going to have to use the bathroom in the gown, and I wanted to capture the moment.  I had told our photographers this, and I don't think they took me seriously because they blushed a bit when I summoned one of them to come with us to the bathroom.  But I think this shot was totally worth it, and he was dismissed before I actually tinkled.  I couldn't have gone without these ladies helping me, and I'm proud to say this was the only time I went while in the gown for 10 hours. (I think because it was August in TN and I sweated out all my liquids.)

This shot was planned from the beginning.  Adam loves football.  Heck, we're from the south so we all love football.  Everyone was happy to comply to the bride and groom's demands for this photo.

A more classic outdoor wedding shot of the party.

And finally, my best friend was 8 months pregnant on our wedding day.  A month and 2 days later she would give birth to Ivan.  I look forward to showing him this picture someday!