From my Hart: The Fun Committee

Work life balance, or lack there of, is something I see so many people struggle with. Heck, it’s something I struggle with! What helps the most is when your employer finds this to be important as well.

There is even a statistic that states “58 per cent of those who had not experienced workplace fun had been off sick for 11 or more days…” Onrec further states that office fun alleviates stress and boosts performance and productivity!

My work allows us to work from home when we can and we also have a fun committee at work, which helps with making work a bit more fun! I’ve put together some of our fun committee ideas that I think would be fun for you to try and suggest.

Office supplied lunches / breakfasts

My office has a budget they allot per month to spend on foods for us to cook with, order meals with, etc. They also don’t hesitate to supply us with lunch or a breakfast too just because.

What I’m really looking forward to is a Halloween Feast that we are having at the end of the month. The office is supplying the BOOze, while employees are encouraged to bring monstrous main course, scary sides & devilish desserts to share. This is possible because we have a full kitchen, but getting Panera or doughnuts once a month is simple and effective!

Themed days

We had a cabin fever day this past February. The entire office wass encouraged to wear slippers, pajamas and BYOB (bring your own blanket)! Think of themed days like spirit days in high school: you could do team days, wacky tacky days, or any other fun themed day to get the office involved.

Holiday Parties

We had a St. Partick’s Day party in March. Everyone brings a dish, and we all gather to enjoy the day! We also host a summer party with all of our families and a Holiday Party at the end of the year with our significant others.

You could make up a holiday, or celebrate everyone’s birthday on one day.

Office Outings

Have the office go out and play a round of mini golf or go bowling. Even taking a nice trip to the trail on a summer day is a great idea.What’s important is that you bring your employees together to enjoy being a human- not a work machine. When employees build bonds with one another, they are more willing to help each other out, and enjoy staying with their current employer. At least, that’s how I feel!

I hope you bring up the idea of a fun committee at your office! It’s so great to celebrate holidays, and even life events! My office thew me a surprise engagement party brunch & gave my fiance and I a lovely house warming gift.

Start small, birthday cards are a great way to show others you care. You don’t have to bring the puppies in for a visit, though I highly encourage it, to make a big impact in the work environment. Give the fun committee a try!

From my Hart: Asking the Groomsmen

Hey all! I’m back with more wedding updates! I’m super pleased to have a fun and quick bridal party update today for you all.

My fiance was so excited to ask his groomsmen, and he had a brilliant idea!

He asked each of them what their favorite liquor was, under the white lie that he was curious what kind we should supply for the wedding. Once he knew their favorites, off to the liquor store we went!

My fiance has a connection with an engraver, and he took the bottles to him to be engraved! HELLO HOW BRILLIANT! I’m obsessed with how great they turned out.

 

 

His groomsman all were so excited to be ask, and plan on keeping the bottles, unopened, forever! I just love this idea. It could be used for any life event. Think of a bottle of champagne engraved as a wedding gift or an engraved wine bottle commemorate buying a home! I wish I had thought of this for the bottle of pink bubbly I bought my cousin for the birth of her baby girl!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. I cannot wait to celebrate another wonderful friend’s wedding & attend a huge craft festival that is tradition for my Mom and I. See you all next week!

Thank you to Nick at Smyth Jewelers for the feature image

From my Hart: Popping some Questions

Happy Friyay all! After a week of moving, and celebrating one of my dearest friends wedding, I come back to you with some fun, DIY and wedding updates.

It was officially my turn to pop the question!

I needed to gather my gals & ask our officiant if they would do us the honor of being part of our wedding. If you happen to have social media, which I will assume you do since you are reading this, there is a good chance you have seen bridesmaids proposals. There are so many fun way ways in which this can be done!

I knew I wanted to keep it simple, informative & save money so I could give the best gifts to my maids on our wedding day. It was important to me that the proposal set the tone for the wedding, informed the gals of the plan so far & was adorable & fun!

With some tissue paper & pretty boxes, it was exactly what I was envisioning… thanks to HomeGoods of course.

In each box was the following:

Informative: the wedding colors

the day of information: date, time, location

the goal image for the bridesmaid’s dresses

Fun: a gold bag that could be used for pencils, essential oils, medicationss, makeup, etc.

a picture frame or nail polish

a card popping the question

and finally a sweet treat!

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For my best friend, who is gluten & dairy free, I found some delicious turmeric tea in place of the Italian wedding cookies!

 

For our officiant, I took a similar approach.

I curated a box similar to the maids boxes. I switched things up by including a notebook & inside of the picture frame was a note from my fiance and I asking her to be our officiant.

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All together, I am ultra pleased. These were so fun to make and I’m so happy with how they turned out! I’m so excited to share this idea with you all!

Next week I will share how my fiance asked his groomsman… It’s over the top!

From my Hart: Wedding Thoughts

Happy Friday once again friends! Today I wanted to touch on some wedding “issues” that I’ve seen pop-up a lot over the last few weeks. These three items I’ve either been personally asked about for our wedding, or I’ve seen come up with friends of mine as they plan their big days & thought I could give my opinion! Let’s get into it.

Guest List

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First up, the guest list, and quite possibly the most agonizing item any bride & groom will face during the planning process. We’ve all seen the dramatics played out in TV and movies, family members threatening not to come, feuds erupting, and people unable to sit near certain people.

In planning our wedding, the biggest road block has been the size of my family. I have approximately 196 family members, who I see on the regular. I’m blessed to have an army behind me, and love spending time with each of them.

For any bride and groom, depending on their venue, the guest list may have to be cut. We’re fairly confident we may be choosing one of to two venues: one of which is close but has less room while the other has ample room for guests but is located two hours away.

An important fact I want to stress, and cannot stress enough, is that the guest list is not a list of who is loved versus who is not. The guest list is not a list of who is loved versus who is not. Trust that the bride and groom have put their heart and minds into the guest list. They, and whoever else is involved in the planning, did not throw caution to the wind when selecting the attendees.

Also, don’t get discouraged! I’ve seen couples have a “B List” ready and waiting and as no RSVPs start flowing in, those “B list” invitations start going out. However, I have seen people get cut from the B list for how poorly they reacted after not getting an initial invitation, so please tread lightly. No guest or couple wants to deal with dramatics about who was or wasn’t invited. As I’ve mentioned above, it was most likely not an easy decision to make and does not reflect the amount, or lack, of love from the couple.

RSVP

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Once you get “the number” of guests, the invitations and the way in which they are addressed, tends to extend the guest list issue. I’ve written other blog posts about this issue alone, but as a quick recap:

Mr. & Mrs. Joe Shmoe = husband & wife invited (the same can be said for same sex couples)
Ms. Suzie Q = just Suzie is invited, no plus one
Ms. Suzie Q & Guest = Suzie & a date get to attend
The Shmoe Family = the parents & children are invited

Let’s not forget how important it is to RSVP on time. It doesn’t matter if you are in the wedding, or live in the bride and groom’s basement, they need the RSVP card and they need to know what you’re eating. Expect a phone call if you don’t RSVP in time, but please save everyone the stress.

Also, the line on some RSVP cards that reads “M__________________” is for you to write your name. The M is for Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. and then your name. Please DO NOT forget this- it is the ONLY way the bride / groom will know who is RSVPing back to them. Yes, some brides have tricks for tracking this, but I won’t divulge, because y’all need to do this step haha!

Also, the blank line for you to write in the number of guest(s) attending does not mean you get to fill it in with any number you wish. Please refer to how the invitation was addressed. If the invitation was for Ms. Suzie Q but she fills in the number 4, as her total number of guest- she will be getting a phone call to explain that only she was invited.

And if day of something terrible has happened and you are unable to attend, you need to let someone in the bridal party know! Also, “I don’t feel like going” is not an acceptable reason, don’t let something that would not keep you from work keep you from attending. Or at least lie and say you’ve been throwing up all day. Not showing up is just terribly rude.

Now as a disclosure- we are just beginning to review our guest list, and our final venue choice has not been made. Please remember the above is a combination of my own thoughts from my planning process as well as what I have witnessed other friends agonize over.

Unplugged Ceremony

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Unplugged ceremonies are quite a new concept but something I la-la-love! As you can imagine, cell phones have become so popular and so ingrained into our daily lives, the thought of whipping out your cell to capture a moment is knee-jerk.

However, imagine with me for a moment, you are trying to watch your best friend get married and someone’s cell is blocking the view. Or perhaps you are the bride and look out expecting to see the faces of those who you love the most as you stand next to your husband to be, and all you see is the back of cell phones. Or you get back your wedding photos and the ceremony pictures are scattered with cell phones.

Not to mention the distraction of a cell phone going off or an unwarranted and distracting flash. If this doesn’t bother you- then more power to you! I will speak for my fiancé and myself here and say, our wedding ceremony will be unplugged. Please turn off your cell phones- we want you to be as fully present in the moment as we are. Take all the pictures you wish during cocktail hour and the reception!

Final Thoughts!

Bottom line, for all three “issues” above, whatever the bride and groom request of you, you should respect. If they want an unplugged ceremony, please be respectful. If they do not give you a plus one, please do not argue or bring one anyway. If you were not invited or some other issues arises, please understand it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

Oh- and don’t wear white to a wedding 😉

With all my love & happy planning to brides-to-be, happy FriYay everyone. Enjoy your weekend!

Feature Image from Caitlin Joyce Co
Unplugged photo from this article
RSVP image from Pinterest
Guest list image from Pinterest

From my Hart: Anniversary Gifts & Message!

Today is the day! It’s my best friends 5th wedding anniversary!

Five years ago today, I rolled over & got as close to my sisters face as I could without scaring her, and told her “today is the day… you’re getting married!”

We spent the entire morning drinking mimosa’s & Starbucks, dancing, singing, & getting ready for her to marry her best friend! It truly was one of the best days, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

And then they up and moved to Florida… hahaha. Don’t get me wrong, that has it’s perks for sure. We still talk daily & hang out whenever one of us is in the other’s state. I couldn’t imagine my life without her, or her husband for that matter.

Each year, I order them a anniversary gift that fit’s the traditional gift for the year of their marriage.

Year one: Paper… I sent them a nice print with their wedding date on it!

Year two: Cotton… they received a pillow with a picture from their wedding day!

Year three: Leather… Mr. & Mrs. luggage tags!

Year four: Fruit & Flowers… edible arrangement all the way!

Year five: Wood…wooden crab mallets (we’re from MD & the bride ordered crabs as a surprise gift) with their last name & wedding date engraved on them! (& another special wooden gift just for the bride that is en route!)

It has become a fun game that I spend a lot of time thinking about & really enjoy always surprising them with this years gift! I think as the Maid of Honor, it’s my duty to keep the traditions going year after year. After all, they do so much for me…

Bonus gratitude post!

To my couple, thank you. Thank you both for picking me up when I’m down. For supporting me. For listening to my crazy stories or ideas. For helping me with computer issues, or phone issues, or any issues. For shared laughs. For amazing memories. For always being friends I can count on, no matter the distance.

Thank you for loving one another, through tick and thin. For supporting and caring for each other. For keeping your faith alive and your family close. For juggling your jobs and a social life. For pushing one another. For keeping your relationship fun. For having such big hearts and for loving each other, always.

To Andrew, you’ll always be Briana’s knight in dress blues… & to Briana, there’s no better friend than a sister, and there’s no better sister than you.

Happy Anniversary!

From my Hart: Wedding Guest Costs

I was on LinkedIn the other day when I stumbled upon the article above, written for guests attending weddings. I thought it was filled with a lot of great information for guests who are trying to save on costs. Kudos to Cain for writing a unique take on wedding costs from the guest perspective; I love spinning new angles on topics!

I did think of a few things while reading that I wished Cain touched on. So, I thought… why not add my own tips? Below you will see my addendum to Cain’s article on saving money as a wedding guest.

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I try and put myself into the couple’s shoes, as they have invited guests and want them to attend. However, I’ve had to RSVP no to some weddings because of the distance and time of traveling. PTO, and the additional costs associated with traveling can really be a burden for some!

If you can, go in with other guests, as Cain mentioned, to cut costs is ideal. This could be done by going in on hotel room, get two queen beds and split the cots with four friends, or by sharing airlines miles, etc. Also, as Cain mentioned, booking early is key!

Something Cain didn’t mention in detail, is the planning of your finances. When the save the date comes out, or as soon as you get wind from the couple that travel will be involved, start budgeting! I take any expendable / extra income I have (babysitting, lunches out, etc.) and start putting that money aside for the wedding. You’d be surprised how quickly by consciously saving early, you will have enough money to make attending the wedding less stressful.

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In the realm of etiquette, I am shocked whenever I see guess breaking these two simple rules, it makes my blood boil, total pet peeve.

1. Do not wear white
2. Stick to the dress code

Please for the love of all that is good, do NOT wear white, to a wedding. White dress shirts for the men, fine, ladies- stay far far away. I’ve seen guests wear a white dress to a wedding- only the bride should be in white, unless otherwise specified.

As a footnote to the above: if you know the colors of the bridal party, don’t wear that specific color either. Let those ladies and men have their shining moment as a standout member of the bridal party. Yes- I’ve seen quite a few people be mistaken for bridesmaids at weddings.

For the dress code, please adhere to it. The couple is putting in the effort to create a magical moment for guests and having a dress code can help set the mood!

How do you know if there is a dress code? Easy!

1. It’s listed on the invitation or wedding website.
2. A night wedding is always more formal, unless otherwise specified.
3. Look to the location: barn weddings tend to be less formal & don’t wear jeans to a ballroom, etc.
4. Still unsure? Ask, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Fun Fashion Fact: The Mother of the Groom’s dress color should complement the Mother of the Bride’s dress color

Gifts

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The cost of your wedding gift should, in theory and by traditional standards, offset what the Bride and Groom are spending on you as a guest per plate. Let’s say the average cost per head is $100 for dinner, you and your plus one should aim to spend $200 on your wedding gift.

Get creative! I love when guests have themed gifts. For my Big’s (big sister in the sorority) I did a “drunk in love” theme and purchased some really like drink wear, etc. for the gifts. I also always gift thank you cards. Even if the couple designs their own thank you cards post wedding, there will never be a time that these won’t come in handy.

Further, don’t forget to think outside of the box and add some smaller items to a big gift! Cute napkins and a sugar dish in addition to a Ninja Coffee Bar really pull the gift together, and let the couple know you’re thinking of them.

Do not wait until the week of the wedding to find a gift. Not only will this cause undue stress, but it will also cause your costs to go up! Rush shipping is not a fun price, neither is checking the registry and seeing everything purchased. Womp Womp.

Key factor here: Cain points out sending a gift even if you RSVP no, is proper etiquette. Don’t feel obliged to go crazy on the gift, especially if you are RSVPing no due to finances, however you should still think of the couple, as they so clearly thought of you.

Overall thoughts?

Weddings are fun. Attending weddings are fun! The celebration of love should forever remain at the forefront, even when budging and planning out gifts, etc. The article above, as well as my addendum, are tips. You should never let any of the above become more important, or all consuming than enjoying yourself with the bride & groom.

Wedding season is officially upon us! Enjoy & spread the love!

 

the images from this post were all free icon images from various sites: medialoot, vector guild & freepik.
The feature image is from my sister Katie R.

From my Hart: Drawing a blank

Happy Monday everyone! Today I’m off work, as I hope many of you are. Happy President’s Day! I’ve been going, going, going recently, and when I logged on today to see what I could post, I was met with four half finished blogs and my mind drawing a blank.

Since I vowed to keep things real with y’all, I decided to just be real. I’m drawing a blank. I had felt really moved to write a lot of posts about kindness, and I feel those served me well. Now, I feel as if I am in a resting period, processing everything that’s been going on.

What’s going on?

For the past month, my family and I have been sick. It started with the flu, morphed into sinus infections, bronchitis, and now strep throat for me. I also found out Friday into Saturday that I am allergic to penicillin…. huzzah -.-

Graduate School

Between all of that, I’ve been getting my butt in gear to finish up my last few classes of graduate school! I decided to take a break during my lag in employment, so I will now be graduating this December! I love learning and writing, but I am also very excited to finish this chapter in my life- cross the sage, and get my Masters.

Relationship

My boyfriend and I have been having real adult conversations with one another about our future. Things like marriage, homes, goals… you know, the usual. One thing we’ve both realized is that him and I are doing this. As he put it so eloquently, at the end of the day its us living with our decisions, so we have to figure things out. 0_o adulting can be scary.

We are both blessed with wonderful families, and so many people who care for us. The reason I share this with you is because maybe you are trying to make life decisions, and are worried about what others think of your decision or may want you to do. It’s a balance between respect an independence: it can be met.

Food

Thanks to a co-worker, I’ve gone starch free. This has been super difficult, mainly because I am living with my family who is not starch free. I will say, when I get my crap together and plan my meals out, it’s very easy to cut out things like breads, pastas, potatoes, etc. Did you know banana’s are a starch? I do now.

I feel great, I’m down eight pounds, and sleep so much better at night. My body is processing my food as energy instead of storing it up. It’s been interesting, but so long as I’m eating “real foods,” things go pretty smoothly overall! Eventually I will reintroduce good starches, like sweet potatoes, back in. However, there is no need for me to eat three doughnuts in a day, or reach for a starch filled snack that won’t last, when I could have something better for me.

Personally

All of that being said, I’m really being tested with my patience recently. If you know me personally, you know I have about a teaspoon of patience. It’s a shame, and something I want to fix. I need to realize in the moment to count to ten and ground myself… because Lord knows, this is where I fall apart.

If you’ve got some patience growing tips, please share haha. It’s a work in progress. I’m just thankful my boyfriend doesn’t give up on me, he also knows exactly how to ground me, which is a miracle. I’ll get there, one step at a time.

What’s next?

Great question! Graduate school starts up in March, so my posts may go down to once a week, depending on how well I am able to balance two jobs and my school work.

You guys always come up with the best post ideas; I encourage you to let me know of any topics you’d like to hear. It’s my hope, that we all take some time to process now and again. It’s actually kind of relaxing to just sit, and be. Happy Monday y’all!