lifestyle, tips

Tips for Saving Money Each Month

Hi all,

I can’t believe I almost missed today’s post with just a few days left in my blogging challenge!

But I made it in time, and I’m here to share some money saving hacks with you.

These are little things you can do each month to help you save here and there, and eventually you small monthly savings will add up over time.

All of these things don’t require much effort and are therefore easy to start or implement into your current monthly routine.

Let’s jump right in!

Set up a monthly budget. If you don’t have one already, you should absolutely create a budget ASAP. You can use online resources like Mint or do it on your own. Creating a budget doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just list out all of the expenses you know you have each month, then list out any luxuries that you splurge on regularly. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income, and you’ll get an idea of how much money you have left over. If you notice that you don’t have much left over each month, you may want to consider spending less on luxuries or cutting some out altogether.

Contribute to a savings account. If you don’t already have a separate bank account just for savings, the first thing you need to do is create one. This is an extra account that is not meant to be used or even touched for a long period of time. Once you have the account, make sure you are contributing to it every month (or every 2 weeks, if you can swing it). I have a set transfer from my checking account to my savings account, occurring twice monthly. As my expenses and my salary change, I change this amount, but I do make sure it is always happening bi-monthly. I’ve managed to save up a nice chunk over the last year or so, and because my transfer isn’t a huge amount and it happens automatically, I hardly even notice the money coming out.

Bring your lunch. If you work full time, you may have fallen into the pattern of going out or buying lunch every day. Not only does this get expensive, it also probably isn’t the most healthy option. Since I started working full time 6 years ago, I have always made and/or brought my lunches to work, and it blows my mind to hear others talk about how much money they spend in a week on food. I light to eat multiple light meals throughout the day and then a big dinner at night, so I bring things like granola bars, fruit, rice cakes, protein shakes, cheese, raw vegetables, and nuts with me to work with me. Meal prepping is another great option; my sister makes all of her lunches for the week on Sunday, and she packs things like salad, guac and hummus with pita and vegetables, cooked vegetables, grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, you name it! When you’re buying and making your own food, you’ll likely save money AND you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food.

Don’t pay full price for things. Okay, so this isn’t always an option, but when you can manage it you’ll probably save yourself from spending a lot of extra money. Let’s talk shopping, for example. I have a post about apps you can use to save money while shopping, and one of them helps you to track items that you want to buy. It notifies you when they go on sale, so you can wait before buying something to see if the price goes down. I recently did this with a new pair of Steve Madden slides I’ve been wanting. They caught my eye weeks ago but I made myself wait to see if they would go on sale, and they did this weekend! I ordered them today at 30% off (plus 10% cash back!) and saved big! That money I would’ve spent by paying full price can now be saved for something else in the future. I know it can be hard to be patient living in this instantly gratifying world that we do, but forcing yourself to shop a little smarter (and not instantly buy every pretty thing you see) is a good exercise that I think a lot of us could benefit from.

Those are my quick hacks for saving a little bit each month.

Whether you want to have more spending money, are saving up for a house, or anything in between, I believe that these small efforts can pay you big dividends if you stick to them.

Feel free to share any additional tips you have for saving, or shopping smarter!

You guys know by now that I love a good shopping score. 🙂 ❤

books, tips

How I Read 50+ Books in One Year

Hey everyone,

Today I want to talk about a big goal that I accomplished recently.

Last year i set out to read 50 books in 365 days, and I was able to do it!

I read as often as I have time to, but this was still far more books than I’d previously read in one year.

Now, by some readers’ standards 50 books in one year isn’t a lot, but I was impressed with myself being able to read this many books while training for a marathon, planning a wedding, and working full time.

Here are a few ways I was able to maximize my reading time, and make progress towards my goal even with a hectic schedule.

Bring a book everywhere you go

We’ve all had to endure unexpected delays or wait times for things.

Luckily, with modern technology most of us are able to stay amused or pass the time on the Internet or playing around on our phones, but having a book on you during that time can make a big difference when it comes to reaching your reading goals.

I usually try to keep a book with me when I know I’ll have downtime, like when I’m getting on a plane or going to be waiting at the dentist’s office.

While trying to meet my reading goal last year, I started to become very aware of times that I could’ve been reading, but wasn’t able to because I didn’t have a hard copy book or one loaded onto my phone.

It was at that point that I started to carry a book with me wherever I went, even if I didn’t think I’d have time to pull it out.

I ended up having a lot more additional reading opportunities than I expected, so always having the book there allowed me to capitalize on those moments and, therefore, get further ahead in my goal

Use audiobooks and e-readers

So, I’m very much one of those people who doesn’t like to read books on electronic devices.

However, I decided to make an exception to help me meet my goal last year, and it did prove to be very effective.

For some reason it is actually socially acceptable these days to ignore others to stare at your phone, but if you pull out a book in a public setting you get a lot of weird looks and are deemed antisocial.

I don’t understand this, but there are a lot of other social “norms” that baffle me, so I decided to get a couple of books on my phone and in those very situations I was able to read quietly to myself without “disturbing” others by whipping out a few-hundred-page book and slapping it on top of a table.

I also made good use of my two hour round-trip commute by listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work.

Not only did my drive go by much faster those days, but I was able to get through even more books.

I was worried my attention span or retention level wouldn’t be as great when listening to a book rather than actually seeing the words, but I got really into the stories and, especially when there were talented narrators, the book stuck in my mind just as it would if I had read a hard copy

Set aside time to read each day – and stick to it

Saying you are going to read every day is one thing, but actually following through with that is another.

At the end of my workdays my brain tends to be exhausted, as do my eyes after staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

I often find myself getting lazy when it comes to reading, but because I had a goal to work towards last year I really made myself commit to nightly reading before bed.

Promising myself I was going to do so, and then actually pushing myself to do it, really helped me stick to reading on a regular basis.

Replace screen time (and other activities) with reading

Like I mentioned, I’m very tired when I get home from work.

A lot of times all I want to do, and all that I end up doing, is binging mindless TV series.

It’s much easier to stare at a screen and not have to think much, especially when you’re mentally overexerted, but it’s not nearly as rewarding as sitting down and reading a book after a long day.

In order to make time for reading in my busy schedule, I had to swap out a few other things.

Late night TV watching was one of those things, but I didn’t miss it much once I got into reading at night before bed.

I was actually much more relaxed on nights when I skipped my teen dramas for a novel, and found that my mind was a lot calmer, as well.

Share your goals and progress with others

This is a common method for trying to stick to goals; when you share your aspirations with others, not only are you holding yourself accountable, you have an outside source that’s holding you accountable as well.

By sharing my reading goal with friends and family, I was even more motivated to make it happen.

Whenever I was asked how the reading was going, it was a friendly reminder to me that I had to keep going.

In a way, my telling others that I would read 50 books in one year was me speaking it into reality, and after that it was up to me to keep that statement honest.

The bottom line is that, even though we all have so much going on in our lives, there is always time to do what we love or what we truly want to accomplish.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read so much last year, and I learned a few new ways to make reading more present in my life.

If you really want to make something happen, like reading a certain number of books in a year, all you have to do is take that plunge and fully commit to it.

Make the time to read, and then stick to it. Always have some form of a book with you, and use all of the extra time you have to read that book. And, of course, make sure you are enjoying what you’re reading.

There’s no shame in closing a book that just isn’t doing anything for you after 50-100 pages.

Reading is a way for us to gain knowledge but it’s also a form of escape for a lot of us.

If it starts to feel like a chore or if you find yourself dreading opening up a certain book, it’s time to cut your losses and move on to the next one.

I discovered so many wonderful and touching stories last year, and I can’t wait to discover more this year.

Happy reading, and I hope these tips help you maximize your book-devouring potential

Comment below to let me know some other ways you’re able to meet your reading goals. ❤ 🙂

lifestyle, tips

My Best and Worst Traits

Hi everyone,

Part of my goal with this blogging challenge, and this blog in general, is to let you guys get to know me better.

Today I’m taking a look inward and thinking about what my best and worst traits are.

These are based on self-observation, as well as things I’ve heard from others time and time again.

It’s not easy to point out to an entire virtual universe of strangers what your worst qualities are (or your best ones if you are a modest person), but I’ve done it and I’m ready to share with you all.

My best and worst traits are that I am…

Empathetic: I’ve always been very good at seeing things from other people’s point of views and understanding what others might be feeling.

I think it might be due to the fact that I got interested in reading at a young age, which exposed me to a broad range of emotions and got me used to looking at things through the eyes of so many different storytellers.

I see this as a positive trait because it helps me communicate better with others and sometimes it helps me to know what my loved ones need and exactly when they need it.

I look at empathy as a deep emotional understanding of others, and it’s something that I think is important to develop and use regularly.

Selfless: This is likely driven by my empathy, but I consider myself to be a pretty selfless person.

I enjoy doing things for others and I have no problem sacrificing certain things in my own life if I feel it will make the people I care about happier or better off.

I think another reason why I am able to practice selflessness is because I also have like-minded people in my life who make sure I am taken care of.

A challenge for selfless people is that they get too caught up in making others happy and they forget to check in with themselves or do things to promote their own happiness, so I’m grateful that my husband, family members, and friends look out for me and, therefore, give me the ability to do the same for them.

Driven: I am not really an aggressive person, but I am absolutely a go-getter, and I often refuse to accept limitations.

I used to think this meant I was stubborn, but I’ve found that it’s actually just determination and has helped me get a lot further in terms of my career and my personal relationships.

I’m generally a soft-spoken person, but my drive keeps me from being a doormat or from being passed over for things, as can sometimes happen to quieter people.

Moody: Clearly this is falling into the “worst traits” category.

I try not to let hormones or mood swings affect me, but it can’t be denied. Sometimes I am just plain moody.

I’ve tried to be more conscious about not taking out stress on other people, but I still haven’t mastered controlling my emotions enough to stop this from happening yet.

It’s definitely a challenge and something I’m continuing to work on improving.

Perfectionist: This one isn’t all bad, but it does cause me to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and, at times, others.

I get so obsessed with making sure things are the best they can be that sometimes I push too hard or set unrealistic expectations for myself.

I can’t help but feel like a failure when I don’t execute things flawlessly, but I’m practicing giving myself a bit of a break here and there.

I do think that constantly striving for improvement can be a positive thing, and I try to let my perfectionism feed my drive and make my work better, without letting it completely take over my view of things.

Closed off: I’ve always been a very private person and tend to keep my emotions bottled up inside.

Sometimes I think this helps me because I can keep from getting overly emotional about things, but it can also be really bad when I let things build up too much and try to handle the burden of everything I’m dealing with completely on my own.

I’ve actually been forcing myself to open up more in a work setting, which is something I never thought would be a good idea.

Just this afternoon I opened up to my supervisor for the first time about things that have been bothering me and affecting my attitude at work, and I’m so glad I talked to him about it.

I felt so much better just having gotten these things off my chest and I felt optimistic about the future knowing that my concerns were really being heard.

One thing that I noticed as I was writing this is that a lot of the traits I consider to be my “best” could actually become bad things if taken too far, and a lot of my “worst” traits have benefited me in some way in the past.

I think the key to being a successful, kind, and grounded person is just finding balance within yourself.

Do some self-reflection and be honest with yourself about good and bad traits that you have.

Once you’ve discovered those traits, think of how they can be used to your advantage or how you can challenge yourself to become a better person either because, or in spite of, them.

When I set out to write this post, it was just another item on my list of things to complete this month.

I didn’t think that I’d actually learn about myself, or about the philosophy of who we are as people in general.

I’ve really enjoyed this one and I hope that my insights can be useful or even inspirational to anyone who reads this.

It’s only day 3 of my blogging challenge but I’m now even more excited to keep going with this, because it will be interesting to see how I can grow throughout the process and what I might find out about myself along the way.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see my day 4 post. ❤ 🙂

lifestyle, tips

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is just about 6 weeks away, so it’s a great time to start thinking about what to get your mom, grandma, and any other maternal figure you want to celebrate this May 12th!

Moms do so much for us; most of the time without getting a lot of recognition or praise.

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show your appreciation and your love for your mom, and to find that perfect gift that makes her feel special.

Here are some great gift suggestions, at a range of different prices.

Happy shopping and an early Happy Mother’s Day to you and all of the wonderful moms in your life!

A personalized keepsake: Over the years I’ve given my mom tons of gifts like this.

It’s a great idea because there are so many different things you can choose from and you can really get creative with the personalization.

Decorative pillows or framed prints with her favorite quote or a message you write yourself make for lovely gifts.

If you’re not as into words, put a picture of the two of you onto a useful household item, such as a pot holder, magnet, or throw blanket.

A foot spa: Moms rarely ever have time for themselves—especially new moms. My best friend just had a baby in October so I bought her this at home foot bath.

Not only will it help moms feel pampered and relaxed, it’s also a great excuse for them to take some time for themselves without having to leave the house or pay for a spa visit.

An insulated mug: My mom is obsessed with coffee, but she always ends up having to put her morning cup in the microwave after getting distracted with work and other things that come up.

This year, I got her the Yeti Insulated Coffee Mug, which comes with its own cover.

It keeps coffee (or another hot drink of choice) from getting cold while moms have to step away and tend to other things.

Her favorite things: Put together a little basket containing your mom’s favorite makeup, hair products, or anything else she uses on a regular basis.

Add tissue paper, glitter, ribbon, and other decorative elements to pretty it up.

A cozy robe and slippers: What woman doesn’t love those treasured few moments during and after the shower that we have to ourselves?

Make this little daily escape extra luxurious for your mom by gifting her a super soft, fluffy robe and a plush pair of slippers that feel like heaven every time she puts them on.

A recipe book or box: It might be cliché, but a lot of moms do love to cook and bake!

Why not give your mom a beautiful keepsake that she can use to keep track of her best recipes?

If you really want to surprise her, get the book started by filling in some recipes (either ask her for them or add ones of hers you might already know).

You can even add pictures of the relatives who originally created the recipes, events where your mom has previously made those meals, or just pictures of your family…or cook and photograph the meals yourself to include in the book!

A monthly subscription service: This is another one I’ve tried that has been really successful.

There are so many subscription boxes and products these days, so it should be easy to find one that is appropriate for your mom.

A lot of them have different subscription lengths to choose from too, so if your budget is a little lower you can choose a nice box that only gets sent for 3-6 months in a row.

I recently bought my mom a 6-month subscription to MixCups, so she got a variety pack of K-cups (I’m not kidding, she’s coffee-obsessed!) sent to her doorstop every month.

She loved getting a surprise in the mail each month and trying out the new flavors.

A day out: Sometimes all moms want is to be able to spend time with their children.

Planning a girls’ day for the two of you might be more touching to your mom than any other material gift.

Get your nails done, go out to lunch, have some afternoon cocktails, or go see a play!

The possibilities for this one are endless, and can be tailored to your mom’s own personal interests.

The only thing that matters is that it’s something the two of you will do together.

I hope this sparked some great ideas about how you can make Mother’s Day even more special for your mom, grandma, mom-friends, or anyone else you’re celebrating this Mother’s Day.

Comment below with any additional gift ideas you have, and anything you plan on doing for Mother’s Day.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you soon! 🙂 ❤

advice, lifestyle, tips

Storage Hacks for Small Homes

My husband and I are currently in the process of building our forever home, and I’m SO excited for it to be ready.

However, that probably won’t be until the end of this year, so for now we’re living in my condo.

I really like where I live and this was the first place I bought on my own, so it means a lot to me.

It’s a good size place for a single girl just starting out, but once my husband moved in we quickly realized that storage space is a little tight for all of the stuff we collectively own.

Over the last year I’ve had to get a little creative as far as making things fit, and I came up with some clever hacks that have worked well for us.

I figured I would share them for anyone who is facing similar challenges or who wants some ideas on how to make the most of their space.

1. Put extras on display

Anyone else have a bunch of toiletries that are taking up a ton of space in their closet?

Between freebies from dental cleanings, leftover travel essentials, and spare emergency items from my wedding, an entire shelf of my bathroom closet was being filled up with these things and I just didn’t have a place for them!

For my wedding, I put together men’s and women’s restroom baskets with essentials for guests (spray deodorant, tampons, gum, hairspray, you name it) and had almost all of these things left over afterwards.

I didn’t want to get rid of them because they were all things I could use, but as I was going to put them in the bathroom closet, I noticed how many packs of floss, mini tubes of toothpaste, small bottles of hand lotion, and other miscellaneous items had accumulated.

Rather than dumping the contents of the restroom baskets on top of what was already there, I got an idea.

I grabbed a larger decorative basket and arranged ALL of my extra bathroom supplies inside of it.

I went from having a mess of loose extra items to having a really cute and convenient array of supplies for future guests.

This was the perfect solution for my personal hygiene extra, but can also be an aesthetically pleasing way to store snacks, cleaning supplies, or jewelry.

Amazon, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby all have lots of great baskets at cheap prices. Here are a few that I like:
Basket 1
Basket 2
Basket 3
Assortment

2. Stow away 

This applies to household items as well as clothing and shoes.

As much as it makes me sad to put things up into my attic (ok, let’s be real…I have never actually climbed the ladder up into my attic…my husband is the one who puts my things up there) it’s a great way to store things I’m not currently using but don’t want to get rid of.

After my bridal shower, I got so many gifts that will be perfect for our new house, but that aren’t really needed (or are just too big) to use in my condo.

We put a lot of things right up into the attic without even opening the boxes. This way, the items were still sealed and protected until we’re ready to break them out and put them to use.

When it comes to clothes, I use large plastic bins to store the ones I don’t wear very often. I have a pretty large selection of dress pants, blazers, and suits for work, but since I’m in advertising I only dress up like that for client meetings and stick to jeans/more casual looks whenever I’m in the office.

I keep about half of my work wardrobe in my closet, and the rest is neatly packed away.

Mid-year I take out all the stuff from storage and replace it with the other half of my work clothes.

That way, I get to maximize my closet space and still refresh my wardrobe with new things I haven’t worn in forever!

Plastic bins come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. I use them for attic storage, as well as keeping together my nail polishes and other makeup products. Here are some cheap but reliable ones:
Bin 1
Bin 2
Bin 3
Bin 4

3. Double up on hangers

This is a simple trick that has actually helped make a lot of space in my closet!

Hangers not only take up space, but they also add extra weight to the racks.

When hanging things in my closet I’ll put two (or sometimes three) lightweight items onto one hanger.

You have to make sure the hanger is sturdy and that the clothes aren’t too heavy, so try it with with sundresses, tank tops, lightweight items like that.

You’ll be surprised at how much more fits into your closet by doing this, and since the items you’re doubling up are so light, having a few more in your closet won’t put extra strain on the rack itself (most times when I’m doing this I’ll notice that the hanger I’m removing weighs twice as much, or more, than the item I’m taking off of it!).

Hangers are all over the place and are usually pretty cheap. A few that I use to hold multiple clothes items (and have never had problems with) are here:
Hanger 1
Hanger 2
Hanger 3
Hanger 4

4. Binge and purge

That is, binge watch Netflix and purge the extra items you don’t need.

Marie Kondo has some really great tips in her popular streaming show, so if you haven’t watched that yet it may help you find new ways to declutter your space.

Another tip I heard a while back that works well is to turn all of the hangers in your closet to face the same way.

The first time you wear an item, turn the hanger to face the other direction.

After a year goes by (or whatever time frame you’d like) take note of all the clothes still hanging in the original direction.

If you haven’t worn them after a whole year, maybe it’s time to let go of them.

It can be tough to get rid of clothes that you’ve had for a while or really like, but purging can be less painful if you get a little reward out of it.

When my closet is getting too full I hold off from buying anything new until I make space for it by removing some old items.

I like to donate my old clothes or give them to someone I know who is in need, because it makes me feel less sad getting rid of something if I know it’s going to help someone else.

You can also sell some of your lightly used clothing on sites like Poshmark to earn some extra cash.

I’d like to think that once we move into our house, I’ll never have to worry about where to put things again. But I know that isn’t realistic.

No matter how much space we have, things always seem to pile up and we’re left wondering how we acquired so much stuff and where we’ll put it all.

I’m glad that I’ve already started finding new ways to maximize my space, and I know these are approaches I’ll continue to find useful wherever I live.

I hope some of these ideas work for you, as well.

As always, I’d love to hear your own take on this! What are some storage hacks that you swear by?

I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many solutions to one problem. 🙂

advice, fashion, lifestyle, shopping, tips

Smart (and Free!) Ways to Save Money While Online Shopping

Hi all,

So, this is probably no secret by now, but I have quite the passion for online shopping. I love finding new looks and am constantly browsing my favorite sites for new items.

Seeing those packages at my doorstep is always a pleasant surprise to come home to, especially when I get to do fun try-ons and share my finds with you all here and on my Instagram.

One of my absolute favorite parts about online shopping is finding great deals or other ways to save money, and any way that I’m able to save or find quality items for cheaper is a huge win in my eyes.

Since I do a lot of shopping and bargain hunting, I’ve discovered many great methods for saving, and sometimes even earning, extra money while I shop.

Here’s a list of my top online shopping hacks, and they’re all completely free!

1. Join Flash Sale Websites

There are a ton of websites out there that offer flash sales for top brands. Basically, they sell quality items that are overstocked or are no longer considered New Arrivals, for a fraction of the original price.

The sales typically last for a few days each, and these sites have a bunch of new sales going on every single day!

My top favorite flash sale sites are Hautelook (by Nordstrom), Saks Off 5th (by Saks 5th Avenue) and Ruelala.

These sites all offer frequently feature top expensive brands with large percentages off, and they all offer free shipping after a certain dollar amount is in your cart. Ruelala even offers free shipping for 365 days with a one-time purchase.

You do need to sign up for an account to purchase from the sites, but all 3 accounts are completely free to sign up for and use.

If you like to buy designer or higher-end merchandise but don’t want to pay a ridiculously high price, these sites are great for you.

Click any of these links to sign up for the sites: Hautelook, Saks Off 5th, Ruelala.

2. Use Cash Back Add-Ons

Have you ever heard of apps like Ebates or Honey? They are getting more popular but a lot of people still don’t know about these amazing tools that literally pay you to shop!

You download the apps either on your phone or as an add-on to your web browser (or both!) and, voila! You start to get cash back for your shopping.

When you navigate to a website, the Ebates or Honey add-on will ask you to “activate” whatever percentage of cash back is available for that site. Once you do that, cash back will be added to your account after you make a purchase.

It’s so easy, and I’ve already gotten back hundreds of dollars using these apps.

Sign up using my links and you can get a bonus $10 to start yourself off: Ebates, Honey.

3. Shop Around Before Buying

When I’m shopping, my goal isn’t just to get something on sale. It’s to get it for the absolute lowest price available.

So even if I see an item is on sale, I don’t stop there. I usually plug it into Google or another site to see if any other stores are offering lower prices.

I like using Google Shopping because not only does it show you the price of the item from multiple stores, it also shows results for different colors of that item are available.

Simply go to google.com/shopping and type in the name of the item you’re looking for.

It’s always better to be more specific, so try to copy and paste the exact name of the product from the original site if you can find it.

If you can’t find the original name, Google may include results for some similar products, but I’ve actually found items that I liked even better than the original that way!

4. Track Items Before You Buy

Sometimes there’s a bag or pair of shoes that I just have to have, but it isn’t on sale. Rather than buying it at full price, I decide to wait a little and see if the price goes down.

Price tracking apps are perfect for situations like this, because they keep track of your favorite items and notify you when things go on sale

There are a lot of apps like this, but Shoptagr and Lyst are two of the highest rated, and also happen to be two of my favorites.

Not only do they keep track your favorite items and stores for sales, they also help you find other places where the items are available! Never miss a sale, or have trouble finding a great item, again.

I hope the tips above help you save some money and become the savviest shopper you can be.

What other tips and tricks do you have about saving (or even earning) money while shopping? Share in the comments below so we can all help one another score big!

Stay tuned for more future posts where I’ll share some of my best finds, my favorite online retailers, and other great tips.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 ❤

advice, lifestyle blog, tips, wedding planning

Key Tips for Planning an Amazing Wedding

I can’t believe it has already been one month since the best day of my life! My wedding day truly felt perfect, and even though it took a lot of time and effort to make it happen, every second was totally worth it.

As I look back and remember the wonderful time I had planning and then attending my own wedding, I’m also reflecting on the process itself—what worked, what I could have done better, and what I wish I had known going into it.

I’ve wielded this down to four key things that I think it’s important to remember when planning a wedding. There are a lot of other things to consider, but keep these in mind to help take your wedding to the next level.

Do your homework

There are so many decisions to make when you start planning your wedding—where to have it, when to have it, what type of entertainment to include for the party…it’s a lot to think about, and going in blind can make the process even more complicated.

Before you meet with any vendors or commit to anything, compare your options online. Look at reviews written by other couples (The Knot and Wedding Wire have tons), and try to get price estimates (Wedding Spot has a calculator you can use that was pretty on par with the venues we actually got quotes from).

I would suggest doing a lot of your research online/by speaking with others rather than meeting in person with a lot of vendors up front.

Narrow it down to a few favorites and go see those in person—this will save you a lot of time and make your decision a little easier in the long run, because you’ll eliminate several before you even start setting up meetings.

Don’t be afraid to take suggestions from coworkers, friends, or family members (trust me, you will get a LOT of them). In the end, make your own decisions, but use the experience and advice of others to help guide you.

Make it personal

My husband and I really wanted our wedding to reflect who we are, both as individuals and as a couple. We tried to find fun little ways to incorporate our interests and passions into our wedding.

We got pretty into it and ended up adding a LOT of little details, but our guests thoroughly enjoyed them and my brother even saw it as a challenge to find all of the little “Easter eggs” hidden throughout the day.

Some of my favorite things we added that may spark ideas for you:

• Bitmoji cake topper

• Horror-themed hashtag/snapchat filter (#TheHillHaveIDos :P)

• Handmade book flowers (I surprised all of my bridesmaids with their favorite book/song lyrics for this!)

These things weren’t too expensive or difficult to add, and they really personalized the wedding for us. I definitely recommend integrating parts of yourself/your relationship into your wedding decor to truly make it your own.

Prioritize your spending

Ok, so you had to know something cost-related would be included in here. Throwing a wedding is so expensive, even for a discount shopping expert like myself.

Everyone’s budget and means are different, so you really have to talk with your s/o and anyone else who is helping pay for your wedding and set realistic expectations.

Once your budget is set, a tip for ensuring you don’t go overboard is to prioritize.

What can you absolutely not live without?

Where can you potentially cut back a little or go with something cheaper without sacrificing the vision you have for your big day?

My husband and I picked a few key things that we wanted to splurge on, and then found ways to make up the cost elsewhere.

We splurged on our photographer/videographer because we felt that it was really important to have the beautiful memories of the day captured, and once we found our company we knew no one else could do a better job for us.

We also chose to add a fireworks display offered by our venue, which we didn’t tell any of our guests about beforehand and definitely added a huge wow factor.

We got lucky with flowers; I wanted mainly book flowers for the bridesmaids, and since we got married 10 days before Christmas our church was already beautifully decorated.

We kept it simple with some pew bows and went with winter greens, pine cones, and Christmas lights for our reception centerpieces, which turned out beautifully and saved us a lot of money.

We put together our Christmas ornament favors ourselves to save a bit there, decided we could do without church programs, and I did a lot of cute DIY-type things for my bridesmaid gifts. I found a lot of great ideas and tutorials on Pinterest, so definitely look there if you’re going the DIY route.

Overall, we probably spent what the average couple does these days on a wedding, but felt that our experience and ambiance were well above average.

I’m so glad we decided to save money in certain areas in order to splurge on others, and definitely see it as an effective way of getting more bang for your buck.

Let go and enjoy it

When it comes to your wedding day, the only that actually matters is that you have fun. I repeat, the ONLY thing that matters on your wedding day is that you and your s/o have a good time. Seriously, things will go wrong.

My beautiful wedding gown actually ripped during our reception (you can see it in some of the pictures) but even as I heard the unmistakable tear of fabric as a guest stepped on my train for the 45394th time, I took a deep breath, smiled, and decided that I would worry about t later.

I was still fully covered, every part my dress was intact, and it certainly wasn’t preventing me from walking around or dancing, so…oh well!

I know it sounds crazy for me to be so aloof about a dress I spent a lot of money on and months getting fitted for, but the reality is, there was nothing I could do in that moment and I wasn’t going to let one little mishap be the thing to define the biggest day of my life.

I should add a disclaimer here that I am normally not this cool about things going wrong AT ALL. I’m a lifelong perfectionist who obsesses about every detail and I definitely tend to overreact when things don’t go as planned.

So, how did I let go and stay cool the day of?

In the months leading up to my wedding, I heard so many stories from friends, family members, and colleagues about things that had gone wrong at their weddings.

My one college buddy’s cake fell over onto the floor before it was brought out at the reception (honestly, I was at this wedding and had no idea the cake was missing…trust me, your guests don’t notice nearly as much as you think they will…) and her mom immediately started breaking down.

My friend, the bride, assured her mom it was fine, stayed calm, and asked the wait staff to cut up the remaining part of the cake that hadn’t fallen and serve it to the guests. The

night went on without anyone knowing what had happened and without my friend feeling disappointed on her big day.

Stories like this one helped me mentally prepare for the fact that things would inevitably get messed up on my wedding day.

Therefore, I decided in advance that I was not going to worry about things I couldn’t control when the day finally came.

Weeks before my wedding I started reciting to myself things like “the day will be perfect no matter what happens,” and “if I can’t control it I’m not going to worry about it.”

These became mantras that I would repeat to myself daily, sometimes even multiple times a day, and it worked like a charm.

The mindset almost became second nature, and by the time my wedding day rolled around I really was able to ignore all of the nonsense and just have a great time.

I cannot stress enough how big of a difference this made for me and how glad I am that I mentally prepared myself to make my own feelings and enjoyment the highest priority on my wedding day.

The big bonus was that so many of my guests told me afterwards that the thing they enjoyed most at the wedding was seeing how incredibly happy my husband and I looked the entire time.

There will always be another time to stress, to worry, or to get upset over plans gone astray. Your wedding day is the one time to take a break from all of that and simply be happy.

Planning a wedding is not easy. I gets really stressful and frustrating, and since a lot of us these days are planning on our own dimes and with plenty of other time-consuming priorities to work around, it can seem like an impossible feat.

But there are SO many resources and tools to help you plan the perfect wedding for you and your spouse.

The key thing to focus on is how you can make the day best represent the two of you, and how you can make it the most fun for yourselves.

With all of the craziness going on in the world lately, just finding someone you truly love and who loves you back is rare—I personally consider it a miracle. And that is the whole reason for having a wedding.

As long as you view your wedding as a celebration of your love and the start of a wonderful life for you and your s/o, you’ll be just fine.

And I am always happy to answer questions or offer up advice! Leave a comment bellow or send me a message on Instagram.

You can also leave a comment if you have some additional wedding advice you want to share with others.

Thanks so much for visiting this post and I hope to see you on my blog again! ❤

Laura

All photos courtesy of MPW Media Group