champagne & black coffee

A lifestyle and fashion blog offering personal style & beauty tips, inspiration, and glimpses into my everyday life.

Month: May 2016

6 Pieces of Priceless Wedding Day Advice

Wedding Series:  Part 3 of 5

We’ve all heard the standard commentary from any bride and groom who just married:  the day flies by / it’s all a blur / you forget to eat / you didn’t get to spend enough time with anyone, including your new spouse! / you’re pulled in a million different directions and have no control over your time / it was the best day but you don’t remember half of it … the list could go on and on.

I heard all of these things, too, and was determined to find a way around some of them – all of them – if possible!  We received some really great tips along the way and came up with some on our own as well, and I’m here to share my absolute best day-of advice I have to offer.

1) Pick 3 different run-of-the-mill moments and “snapshot” them in your mind
Not the big huge moments, not the guaranteed-to-be-photographed moments, but random snapshots in time.  Take 10/30/60 seconds and just look around, take it all in, and specifically remember those points in time.  Someone gave my husband and I this advice and it’s the same advice we give to our friends if they ask.  We each have 3 separate “moments” stored forever in our mind and I love that.  Six moments that would’ve otherwise been lost forever, but we managed to capture them.  It’s super cool.  Trust me and do this one thing if you use nothing else on this list.


2) Give yourself MUCH more time than you think you need
Schedules and timelines are important – super important! BUT. Once you map out your day-of timeline, add a bit more time to each item on the list. Even if it’s just 5 or 10 more minutes.  If you have a 5:00 wedding and plan to start hair/makeup/etc. at 11, make it 9:30.  If pictures start at 3, move it up 30 minutes.  Your stress-level will really appreciate it.  I know you already have the weight of putting on this perfect event on your shoulders – why give yourself the added stress of having a tight timeline that has little to no wiggle room?  Everything will take longer than you think, you’ll have a problem with something, and you’ll appreciate the extra buffer.  Give yourself the gift of the extra buffer. 🙂


3) Do as many traditional post-ceremony activities BEFORE the ceremony, where possible
Now, I’m not telling you to change your entire belief system or to go against everything you believe in. That’s not the point.  The point is to get as many pictures taken and as many things done BEFORE the ceremony as possible, that way you’ll have more time to spend with your guests enjoying your day!  Here are a few suggestions that will not work for everyone, but might work for you.

A planned first look –> I loved this idea so much.  We were able to have a private moment that no one else (other than the photographer) was able to experience on our wedding day.  The rest of the day is chaos and being pulled in a million directions, but we were able to spend some time – just us – and experience that first look (and all of the emotions that come with it) privately.  One of my wedding-day fears was always ugly-crying all the way down the aisle.  I honestly think this one helped me to avoid that possibility! P.S. – my husband, and others I know who have chosen this path, claims that this did not take away from any of those feelings and emotions of seeing your bride walking down the aisle toward you.

weddingseries3.2 weddingseries3.3

Pre-wedding pictures, almost all of them! –>  One benefit of a first look is that you are able to take even more pictures pre-wedding so you don’t spend 2 hours posing after the ceremony.  This one was huge for us.  I think we may have spent 30 -45 minutes max taking pictures after the ceremony and before the reception.  We wanted to hurry up and get to the good stuff and we wanted our wedding party to be able to do the same thing.  We took some of the standard family pics, and some of the two of us outside as the sun was going down, but otherwise everything was handled and everyone was able to get to the party faster!


4) Instead of having ushers release the rows for the recessional, do it yourself!!
How many brides and grooms you know have claimed to either not have spoken to everyone they needed to or spent all of their time talking and no time eating (or dancing)?  Almost all of them.  I’ve been to weddings where there was a receiving line – and that’s one way to knock this one out, but I really love the alternative we chose.  After you’ve exited the ceremony, walk all the way back down the aisle with your spouse and release your guests row by row yourselves.  This gives every single person at the wedding the opportunity to speak with and hug the bride or groom and it knocks your small talk time down significantly.  Even better, it gives you more time to actually eat and to do all the fun things!  It’s a win-win!

5) EAT!!
Brides are notorious for hardly eating or not eating at their own wedding.  You’ve picked out all this delicious food (and paid for it!), why not make certain you get to enjoy it!?  The two previous items help with this piece of advice, but it really is important.  I may be a bit less polite than some, but I decided that I was absolutely NOT getting up from my dinner table until I had eaten my fill. And I didn’t.  And it was perfect!  I didn’t care if I was interrupted, as long as they didn’t care that I was chewing my food and drinking my champagne while we talked.  I was just certain I did not want to be the person who didn’t eat on her wedding day (and consequently passed out or got hammered drunk because of it) 🙂 Trust me – eat that delicious food!!

6) Hire a day-of coordinator (or entrust a friend or family member to handle it)
This one isn’t in everyone’s budget – and unfortunately it wasn’t in ours – but it is a HUGE difference-maker.  To have one or two people who basically manage your day will take a big load off of the bride and groom.  If it’s a friend or family member, it would ideally be a person who is not already involved in the wedding party.  Having someone manage the event will ensure you keep your schedule, people are where they need to be when they need to be there, and they can handle the sticky situations as well.  We had 2 different aunts who handled decor execution as well as ceremony direction.  I’m certain the whole thing would’ve fallen apart without them!


Regardless of any of this “advice”, remember that this is yours and your spouse’s day and everyone is there for YOU.  They’re there because they love and support you and, while it likely won’t go off without a hitch, it will be great and it will be memorable!  Just do your best to sneak away with as many of those little memories as possible.

Part 1:  6 Unique Wedding DIYs & Cost Saving Tips
Part 2: 6 Wedding Planning Tips That Are Guaranteed To Reduce Stress
Part 4:  Contrary to Popular Belief…

Part 5:  OK You’re Married, Now What?


**All photos by Realities Photography


Motherhood: Evolution From the Inside Out

Almost a year and a half ago I became a Mom.  It’s changed me in the best of ways – It’s different than I could’ve ever imagined, but it’s everything I’ve ever needed.  Do you find motherhood  to be hard to explain as well?  There’s something so raw and inescapably life-changing about being entirely responsible for another human being.  My husband and I wanted to be parents for a long time and even battled with infertility.  But even when it’s something you want more than anything, nothing can quite prepare you for how it will change you.

Motherhood has helped me to become more than I ever thought I could be.

I love more – and deeper – than I ever thought I could love.
I’ve learned to forgive when I thought forgiveness was something I could not offer.
Giving and serving now come from a place of selflessness instead of selfishness.
I’ve been able to find a peace within, where there was none before.
I’ve extended myself further than I ever thought I could go.
I’ve developed a patience that I was previously lacking.
Gratitude and thankfulness now come from a different, deeper perspective.
My motivation for internal growth has completely changed.
My desire to offer acceptance and understanding has exponentially multiplied.
I’ve found a new appreciation and recognition of the smallest of moments.
I’ve learned to trust myself and my heart.
I now strive to remind myself to extend grace wherever I can.

I think the biggest surprise for me on this journey so far was how naturally all of these things occurred.  It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to fundamentally change as a person, although in a few instances it was.  I just evolved.  Very quickly and very slowly at the same time.   When I look into the future, all I think about is making sure my son knows he is loved and supported and that I am proud to be his mom.  I want him to be able to see me the way that I see my own Mom, and those are some really huge shoes to fill.  I want to be many, many things, but nothing more than to be a gracious and supportive Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms out there!  You are amazing and you are enough!!

Day 003 - Amos with Mom 2
3 days old

5 Top Spring SPLURGE vs. STEAL Picks

My 5 Top Spring 2016 Splurges and similar finds at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re like me and spend wayyyy too much time browsing every social media site known to man, you’ve probably come across some of the items below a few 100 times or so.   Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE every single one of the splurge items and designer names, but I don’t have an income to support my taste sometimes.  I’ve searched the internet high and low to bring you my 5 current favorite designer style trends and their lower investment cousins.  You’re welcome!

1) SPLURGE:  The Chloe’ “Marcie – Medium” Saddlebag – $1,395
I absolutely adore this bag!  It’s that perfect combination of on-trend and classic.  I couldn’t imagine it not being a bag I’d still want to carry 10 years from now.  But as much as I love it, I can’t think of any scenario where I’d spend almost $1,400 on a bag (or much of anything for that matter!).  Enter my STEAL pick, the Old Navy Tassel Saddle Purse.  Both bags below come in a brown/cognac color, but I really dig the blush color.  In fact, I own this one and have gotten tons of compliments on it each time I carry it!!  If you’re looking for a new spring bag that won’t break your bank account, head on over to the Old Navy link above and scoop up this purse before it’s gone!

Compare Saddlebag

2) SPLURGE:  Aquazzura’s “Wild Thing” Sandal in lipstick red – $795
All fringe all the time!!  We all have at least one item with a hint of fringe, right?  Well, if not… c’mon and join the club!  These red block heel shoes from Aquazzura are calling my name!!  With the combo of a lower block heel, slingback heel, and strappy tassel ankle ties, what’s not to love?  I can’t imagine these shoes NOT being comfortable, and I’m too old to wear super uncomfortable shoes, especially if I’m paying an arm and a leg for them.  But again with that pesky price tag!
My comparable STEAL pick are these Steve Madden Sassey Two-Piece Fringe Sandals. (no, that is not a typo).  The heel height and ankle strap differ slightly, but these shoes are a really similar style option at a price point that is easier to stomach.  I have not tried these guys on (yet) and walked around in them for a bit, but I plan to!

Compare Red Fringe

3) SPLURGE:  Dolce&Gabbana Tie Shoulder Lemon Print Dress – $2,495
I can’t see lemons (or pineapples for that matter) and not think “summertime”.   This D&G dress just oozes summer and I can’t get over it.  The shoulder ties, the perfect flattering cut, and the slight ruffled hem.  It’s just gorgeous!  I would totally wear the heck outta this thing (and some Spanx!) 🙂  But no. Just no on the price tag for me.  I just can’t.  I’m having anxiety just thinking about spending more than my mortgage payment on a dress.
But you guys! Check out my comparable STEAL pick for this one.  New York & Company now carries the adorable Eva Mendes Collection and her Felicity Dress in Lemon Print is just adorable.   I could see myself wearing this dress just about anywhere!  Work, brunch, dinner, church, date night… you name it!  The cut is extremely flattering (and forgiving), it’s modest but sexy, and it has pockets!!  It’s in my shopping cart right now. Literally.  At less than $60, why wouldn’t it be?  (p.s. this site has a very cool Find Your True Fit engine and it’s very impressive!)

Compare Lemon Dress

4) SPLURGE:  Kendra Scott ‘Rayne’ Stone Tassel Pendant Necklace – $80
Kendra Scott everything is all over social media.  I love it.  Very trendy and very cute!  I’ve almost pulled the trigger a number of times on this necklace and a pair of her “Elle” Drop Earrings.  While $80 isn’t over my maximum threshold for an item in general, I just haven’t yet been able to rationalize the spend.  In fact, I love this necklace more than almost all of my recent necklace purchases, but for right now, I’d rather buy 3-4 different necklaces for around the same cost as the one.
My STEAL pick for this one comes from a cute lil’ Etsy shop named thebohemianbuffalo.  There are TONS of Kendra Scott handmade knockoffs out there, but so far, this one is my favorite based on the look and the price point.  I have not purchased from this particular shop (yet), but my husband and I are both Etsy fanatics!  (p.s. If BB&Co made a necklace similar to this one in pink or teal I would buy it in a second!)

Compare Tassel Necklace

5) SPLURGE: BCBGMAXAZRIA Ellsie Blouse – $138
The off-the-should style has been on my radar (and everyone else’s for that matter) for awhile now.  I’ve been hesitant to make an online purchase to this point because I’m afraid the style will not be flattering with my body type.  I’m a bit larger in the chest area, and while that’s not really my issue, finding a strapless bra that works for me IS.  I really love the striped seer-sucker look of the BCBG blouse and the back is split about halfway down so it’s open and airy.  REALLY cute, and not too crazy expensive.  I think it’s one I’d need to try on in person first, though.
I recently came across my STEAL pick, this similar style from Banana Republic, but I think – no, I know! – I like it better (for me)!  The fit is a bit more tailored and I love the extra ruching/cinch detail at the shoulders contrasted with the flat panel hemline across the collarbone.  The back is more work-appropriate than the BCBG option, but it has an extra button detail all the way down the middle that gives it that extra touch.  Based on the reviews, this off-the-shoulder stays in place better than others on the market and has 10 5-star reviews out of 10.  I think I may be pulling the trigger on this one, even if I can’t find one in-store to try on first!

Compare OfftheShoulder

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Splurge vs Steal roundup, and even more importantly, I hope you may have discovered the next addition to your wardrobe!!

Weekly Roundup 5.1.16: What I Wore

This week’s roundup, linked where possible:

This blush colored saddle bag is a great under $35 style hack imitating some of the really higher end looks right now like this Chole’ purse.  And if you’re looking for a really versatile eye palette for spring/summer I urge you to go check out the latest Naked palette from Urban Decay Cosmetics – the Naked Smoky melds the best of both neutral and smoky worlds! (plus of course they still have Nakeds 1, 2 and 3)

Shoes – Enzo Angiolini @ DSW // Purse – Old Navy // Palette – Urban Decay Naked Smoky // Lip Gloss – ULTA Butter Balm in Fiona // Jeans – Michael Kors (last season)


This pencil skirt is my personal style challenge for the week – I’ve never owned a pencil skirt that wasn’t boring ol’ black or grey, and have never had ANYTHING that hit below the knee that wasn’t a maxi.  Do yourself a favor and go to your closest Target and try on this skirt!!  Two different floral prints by WhoWhatWear for under $28 each.  So solid.


Skirt – WhoWhatWear for Target (currently Buy 1, Get 1 50% off) // Shoes – Nine West (old)  Go there now and search “peplum”.  You’ll find this top on clearance for just $12.50!, along with quite a few other great steals!


Shirt – Old Navy (clearance, just $12.50) // Jeans – Loft // Sandals – Frye (last season)


I’ve had my eye on these yellow eyelet shorts for about a month.  They can be found at Belk, but the deal I got was apparently in store only.  These guys were on the clearance rack for an additional 50% off, dropping the price to under $10.  They’re still $42 + 40% off online, so stop by your local Belk (if you’re in the South!)


Shorts – Crown & Ivy @ Belk (on clearance in store only for $9.99) // Shoes – Me Too @ TJMaxx / Tee and necklace – Target (currently Buy 2, Get 1 Free jewelry)


I can’t say enough about the Le Tote style service.  I’ve been a loyal customer for almost 1 year now and it seems like their selection and style variety expands weekly.  If you want to try them out for free for a month, send me your first and last name + email.  I have 1 free tote left I can “give” to a friend.  (no strings, and I do not personally benefit from it).  It’s a win/win!


Dress – Chelsea & Theodore from LeTote // Necklace – Target // Not shown:  Shoes – Katie & Kelly

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