Friday, November 10, 2017

Danfredo Photos & Films

I met Danielle of Danfredo Photos & Films randomly. One of my writer friends introduced me to Danielle’s blog and I reached out to her to purchase some ad space to promote my second book. During our emails back and forth, we discovered that we literally lived one minute away from each other, so we decided to meet in person. Danielle was easy to fall in love with and she instantly became my friend. 

When Danielle and I first met, she hadn't taken the leap into photography just yet, but when she did I was elated that she asked me to be one of her test subjects. Her photos were absolutely incredible! Danielle possessed the natural ability to direct and to snap beautiful candid shots of me mid-laugh after she just cracked a hilarious joke. I would be expecting my face to be contorted into some grotesque expression, but the photo would always be gorgeous! Danielle and her hubby, Wil, giving birth to Danfredo Photos & Films was not a matter of ‘if’, it was a matter of ‘when’.

I reached out to Danfredo the second Edward proposed to me because OF COURSE they would be the ones to document one of the most important events to take place in our lives. Edward and I already knew the date that we planned on getting married, and with less than a year to plan, we can only thank the Lord that they weren’t already booked for our date.

There is a huge level of comfort that comes with having your good friends take control of such an intimate part of your wedding. Because we are all familiar with each other, Edward and I were able to be our true selves in front of the camera instead of a stiff, stuffy married couple that we wouldn't have recognized as ourselves.

I am obsessed with each and every single image that was captured at our wedding, but this is one of my absolute favorites:

The night that Edward and I received our photos and video from Danfredo, we stayed up (on a school night) until some ridiculous hour in the morning ooh-ing, aah-ing and laughing hysterically at the moments Danfredo documented that we missed because we were busy getting married.

I don't have enough words to justify the range of emotions I experience each time I delve into our photos (which is quite often. I should be embarrassed about this, but I’m not). My heart becomes so full from the love that is displayed. Love from our friends, love from our families, Edward and I’s love for each other and the love that radiated to us from behind the lens. And I am overwhelmed with appreciation of the fact that we get to repeatedly relive one of our most important days due to the immense care and detail that was put into documenting our day.

I’ve falling deeper in love with Danielle, Wil and the entire staff of Danfredo Photos & Films ☺.

Up Next: The Groom

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Details

Save the Dates

I love playing with paper so of course I wanted to make my save the dates from scratch. I found a template on Pinterest for DIY Instagram Save the Dates that was easy enough and got to cutting, taping and gluing. Putting together 130 save the dates was a lot, but this was just the beginning of the cutting of the papers so I enjoyed every minute of it. 

The Invitations

I wanted to make my invitations from scratch as well, but everything I found was way too time consuming. These DIY Wedding Invitations weren't exactly made from scratch, but I already had my hands full so they were about as close as I was going to get to making them from scratch. The color scheme was perfect and I also found them on sale at Target! Yeay!!

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film

Escort Cards, Favor Tags & More Favor Tags

Surprisingly I couldn't find any templates that would fit with our wedding favors or any templates that I loved where I could just plug in the names of our guests and print, so I designed my own with an Avery label template. When I start something, I have to finish it, so I sat on the living room floor for hours with my paper cutter, slicing 130 escort cards, then 130 favor tags, then 130 tags stating what the favors were, which I ended up not using because anyone in their right mind could see what the favors were. Like I said, I love playing with paper, but this was beginning to stress me out. I should have asked for help, but I never do, so I didn't. 

My original idea was to attach the escort cards to mini bottles of champagne, but our budget didn't call for this champagne type of expense so my Plan B was to go with mini bottles of sparkling water. Groomsman-Randy ended up gifting us with cans of Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, the best ginger ale I have ever tasted in my life. The ginger ale ended up working out perfectly especially because the color of the ginger ale can coincided the color scheme of our wedding.

Maid of Honor-Giselle and Bridesmaid-Daisy came over to help me put the favors and escort cards together. At this point I stopped trying to do everything by myself and began accepting help wherever I could get it. Edward could see that I was becoming a bit frazzled so he offered to help and I gave him the task of snipping 130 pieces of ribbon.

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film

The Flowers

I'd read an article that suggested Costco as a good place for purchasing flowers in bulk. This ended up being a very cost effective recommendation, but it involved more work. I would have to assemble and arrange the flowers myself. Bridesmaid-Daisy came over to assist with that task. I ordered three hundred stems of babies breath which was more than enough to create the bridesmaid bouquets, the table setting arrangements and serve as decorations for the ceremony. There were so many flowers that, sadly, I ended up having to toss a few bunches at the end of the wedding. Two hundred stems would have been enough.

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film

The Cake

... was fake. Kevin, Maid of Honor-Giselle's hubby, is extremely crafty, so I asked for his help with quite a few of the decor items that we used in our wedding. I purchased the cake shaped tiers of Styrofoam from Michael's and handed them over to Kevin so that he could work his magic. Our edible wedding cake came from BJ's which was also cost effective and delicious! Two sheet cakes were enough to feed all of our guests and we still had a third of one cake left untouched.

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film

The Wishing Well

I also asked Kevin for his services to paint our wishing well, welcome sign and table numbers. Our wishing well came from Michael's and our table numbers (among other items) came from IKEA. Since I don't have any wheels of my own just yet, Mr. & Mrs. Maid of Honor were awesome enough to make runs to IKEA on my behalf. I will forever be grateful to them for actually humoring my ideas and having a huge hand in bringing them to life.

I didn't find a template for the table numbers that worked for me, so I designed my own template in a word document which meant more cutting of papers. I found mini envelopes on Amazon for the wishing well notes, but I couldn't find any mini note cards that matched our color scheme (or maybe I was just too cheap to buy them). I ended up buying a ream of card stock and commenced the cutting of the papers...

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film

Although it was a bit overwhelming, I still thoroughly enjoyed all of the creative projects that I burdened myself with. I could have spent the money to have most of these details taken care of, but there was an inexplicable thrill of satisfaction in handling most of the projects myself. I'm so looking
utilizing some of these ideas when the times comes for planning a baby shower - but for that event I will be shelling out the loot so that someone else can do the bulk of the handiwork ☺.

Up Next: Danfredo Photos & Films

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Wedding Planner

I suffer from a severe case of RBF and I have a reputation for being antisocial. This is true and not true. When I don’t want to be bothered with socializing, I’m absolutely fine enjoying my own company while being in the midst of normal people mingling with each other. But at work I can’t isolate myself in that way so I fake the funk; and in that faking of the funk, I end up meeting people that I actually like, enjoy talking to and who end up becoming my friends.

What I like about being forced to socialize at work is that I end up having the best, most enlightening, deep conversations with people I otherwise would never cross paths with. Some of these conversations with random coworkers have really encouraged and uplifted my life – another blog on that later.

One of the regular visitors to my desk was Daniel who had just moved over to the US from Australia with his wife, Karina. I’m not at all good with small talk, but some people just have a knack for making good conversation with weirdos like myself. Daniel possessed that wonderful conversation making skill and because of that he quickly became my friend. When I shared the news with him about my engagement and confessed that I had no idea how I was going to pull everything together by myself, he suggested that I reach out to his wife who was an event designer and planner.

Wasting no time, I reached out to Karina immediately and set up an appointment for a consultation later that week. Karina was an absolute delight and of course she became my friend as well.

After showing Karina the venue and rambling off a few of my out-of-reach ideas, Karina asked me sensible questions that got me thinking about what really mattered. The answers to those sensible questions kept my expectations reasonably at bay. In the end I realized that a lot of the things that I wanted were totally unnecessary. The venue was already a lovely space on its own so any additional adorning would have only created excess work for me.

I could have surrendered some of my control and allowed Karina to design my wedding completely, but I didn't spend days of my life Pinning obsessively for no reason. I'm not the most artsy person, but I do consider myself to be creative and I was looking forward to adding my own splash of creativity to the wedding. I wanted to have a hand in every single detail, I just didn't know how some of those details would come to fruition. Even though I needed Karina mainly for day-of-coordination, she (thankfully) still consulted me throughout the entire wedding process and helped my visions materialize.

I know that Karina was just doing her job, but there is no way the day would have gone as smoothly as it did without her. Coordination of the wedding day was a lot for one person to handle on their own, and if Karina felt overwhelmed, I couldn't tell. She completely maintained a sense of cool, calm and control throughout the entire day which is exactly what the bride and groom need on their wedding day.

Because we are such a silly bunch of grown-ups, I found it amusing that Karina took us serious. I so appreciate her dedication to making our day as wonderful as it was. My only regret is that in all of the mayhem of the day, Karina and I weren't able to get a photo together - I have a tendency to become attached, can you tell? But as Karina wonderfully stated, "We’ll have the rest of our lives to create memories and take photos together..."

Up Next: The Details

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Venue

Edward didn’t ask for much when it came to our wedding, but one of his requests was that our wedding ceremony take place in a church. Although we both have Christian upbringings, I was less attached to the idea of having our ceremony in a church. I mean, pastors travel and Jesus is everywhere. Jesus put Edward and I together and I knew He (Jesus) would be sure to make it to our wedding ceremony regardless of where it took place.

One of the things I cared about most in our wedding was dancing; with Edward, with my friends, by myself. I didn’t care who I was dancing with, I just knew that I wanted to be on the floor dancing until the very last song. And if that was the case, we would definitely have to have our wedding reception at another location, because I wasn’t trying to get struck down for disrespecting the Lord’s house by gettin’ down in a church.

I definitely thought it was more logical to have our wedding ceremony and reception at the same location. I tried explaining to Edward that it would be an inconvenience and also time consuming for the wedding party and guests to have to travel from one location to another. One of the things I’d heard a lot from other couples was how fast their wedding day went and I wanted to enjoy every second of our day without it feeling rushed. I didn’t want to waste the day dealing with traveling, traffic and being stressed out by time constraints. I wanted things to be simple and easy for everyone. 

We were already on a budget and splitting up the ceremony and reception locations only added to that budget. We would have to book a hotel and rent some sort of car service when we could just eliminate those costs by having the ceremony and reception take place at one location.

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film
I showed Edward a few online photos of Flushing Town Hall, which is a venue that I’d had my eye on for years. I thought Flushing Town Hall was great for us because it was affordable, unique and very scenic. Flushing Town Hall had a few spaces that we could use for different blocks of our day which I thought was perfect!

My husband is extremely stubborn so he was insistent on us having our ceremony in a church. Since we began planning our wedding less than a year to our wedding date, we didn’t really have time to waste going back and forth with each other when we didn’t yet have a venue booked to be going back and forth about. We put the location of our wedding ceremony on the back burner for the moment and made a few appointments to check out some venues.

As I’ve said before, I just don’t have the energy that I used to have, so I wasn’t interested in traveling back and forth visiting venue after venue. So like an episode of House Hunters, we made appointments to visit three venues, all in Queens and we were GOING TO agree on one of them.
Since I’d already had my eye on Flushing Town Hall and it was close to where we live, it only made sense that it be the first place we visit.

The moment we stepped into Flushing Town Hall the heavens opened and angels literally began singing; AND playing their harps. The weather was gorgeous that day, so Edward and I were able to get an accurate vision of what our wedding would look like if the weather held up.

The venue manager, Kevin, took us on a tour of the garden, the gallery and the theater which all could be booked for one reasonable price. We could use the gallery for the cocktail hour and the theater for our reception. We would have the entire building to ourselves verses having to share the space with multiple events also taking place on the same day; which would have been fine with me, but I’m bougie so I preferred the idea of us having the building to ourselves.

Image by Danfredo Photos & Film
Kevin suggested that we have our ceremony in the garden. The second I began mentioning to Kevin that Edward wanted to have the ceremony at his church, Edward interrupted me by stating that it was fine for us to have our ceremony in the Flushing Town Hall garden. Psssh… Sometimes you have to be quiet and let people see things for themselves – which is something I’m going to try and remember in my marriage.

When Edward and I floated out of Flushing Town Hall, we were on a dreamy high. It was perfect for us! When hunting for anything worthwhile, you always want  to keep your options open and not commit so quickly to the first thing that comes your way; so even though we’d already  fallen in love with Flushing Town Hall, we still  gave our following two appointments a chance. Needless to say, we couldn’t get over Flushing Town Hall and Flushing Town Hall won. 

There was a lot of work to be done. Flushing Town Hall would provide us with the tables and chairs so at least we wouldn’t have to rent them, but we would have to take care of all of the other details ourselves- decorations, catering, table settings etc... I’m pretty creative and I had Pinterest on my side, but the thought of putting my entire wedding together on my own was extremely overwhelming.  I certainly had my work cut out for me.

How in the world was I going to pull this off?

Up Next: The Wedding Planner 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Wedding Party

I have way too much fun by myself - I was in absolute hysterical stitches as I put together these avatar caricatures of our wedding party for our wedding website. The program I used has favoritism towards Puerto Ricans, because Daisy’s and Edward’s avatars are the only ones that actually resemble them.

The wedding party was easy. Edward’s party of groomsmen consisted of three of his best high school/college friends and I wanted a small bridal party to begin with, so three bridesmaids it was. That should have been the end of it, but I have a knack for complicating things when I don’t take a moment to think things through. 

Although I’d already chosen my three bridesmaids, I got greedy. I think with my heart, so if I could have, I would have asked just about every good girl and guy friend of mine to be in my bridal party. And in my excitement, I did. But after I took the time to really think about what I wanted for myself, I accepted that I didn’t want a wedding that bordered on looking like a sweet 16 (no offense to those who have large bridal parties). So I had to go back and tell my friends, like a loser, that whoops I kinda jumped the gun in asking them to be in my wedding. Absolutely tacky! Thankfully this dilemma I’d brought upon myself took place the instant Edward slipped the ring on my finger and before any real wedding plans were in motion. Thankfully, my friends love me and they know me; they know that I’m ditsy and they know that my heart was in the right place.

As if creating predicaments on my end wasn’t enough, I had to go poking my nose into the business of Edward and his groomsmen.

Edward and his friends have what I viewed as an unhealthy attachment to each other. Yes, I have been super critical and extremely judgmental of his relationship with his boys. Hey, at least I recognize my flaws.

One of Edward’s groomsmen lives in Poland yet Edward was adamant about including Polish Rob as one of his groomsmen. As far as I knew Rob was a ghost and a figment of Edward’s imagination. I’d heard lots and lots about Rob from Edward and his boys, but I’d never met Rob. I just assumed that Edward and his band of merry nincompoops were over here dreamily grasping at the last remaining straws of their boyish youth, and that Rob was over there in Poland moving on with his life without these fools. 

I repeatedly badgered Edward with a series of annoying questions:

How often do you speak to Rob? 
When is the last time you spoke to Rob? 
So you don’t speak to Rob that often, and you think he’s going to make the trip from Poland for someone he speaks to occasionally? 
Have you heard from Rob?
You think he'll make it to the wedding?
You still want him to be in the wedding? 
Did you reach out to Rob? 
Did Rob say if he could make it? 
Have you heard from Rob?
Have you heard from Rob? 
Have you heard from Rob?

I can now see why this line of questioning usually ended up in an argument. Bitches be crazy; especially when it comes to their weddings. My bad.

My issue wasn’t with Rob at all. Edward has a big heart and I feel like he can cling to a relationship all because that person lent him a dollar back in 1993; so at times I don’t trust his judgment when it comes to his idea of friendship. I recognize that this trait of mine can be extremely frustrating for Edward, and I’m sorry Boo.

As convinced as Edward was that Rob was going to make it to our wedding, I was equally convinced that Edward was about to have a rude awakening about his friendships; but I was the one who was about to be woke.

In addition to Polish Rob shutting down all of my skepticism by getting on a plane and flying over from Poland, Edward’s two other friends whom I earlier referred to as fools, shut down every criticism and judgment I’d ever held against them.

From the moment of our engagement to the last second of our wedding, Edward’s groomsmen banded together as one solid unit to make sure that everything went flawlessly for him; for us. I was extremely moved, impressed and honored by the support, love, care, respect and loyalty that they showed for me and for each other.

I couldn’t help myself - I fell in love with them. I certainly didn’t expect such a display of love from a group of dudes. Not that Edward needed my approval, but I now understood his attachment to these men.

All in all, our wedding party consisted of good, old friends; friends who have known us both from our tens, to our twenties and into our thirties. Having friends who have known us for most of our lives stand by our side on such an important and wonderful day was such an absolute blessing! 

The Unofficials:

A special, special thank you to the unofficial members of our wedding party:

Anadi, Mikey, Tim, Kevin, Angie, David, Beata, Lisa, Niketta and Dwight.

Thank you for chauffeuring, makeuping, errand running, cake delivering, performing, painting, assembling, rolling up your sleeves and pitching in. We needed you, we thank you and we love you forever!

Up Next: The Venue

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Wedding Series

This blog is WAY overdue, but at least I’m getting to it before I’ve been married for a full year. Maybe I’m getting old – actually, I know I’m getting old. Had my wedding taken place when I was in my 20’s I might have shared daily, weekly or at least monthly blog posts in the midst of the wedding planning mayhem, but I just don’t have the same oomph that I did back then. And although I made many notes throughout my wedding planning journey, I was so overwhelmed and stressed that I didn’t have the energy to pull a full blog post together.

I learned a lot about myself during the process of planning my wedding and reaffirmed things I already knew about myself but had forgotten. For one, I am super anal. I like order. I want everything to be perfect. I want things the way I want them; and when I want a certain thing to go a certain way and it goes left or right, I begin to spiral.

When planning a wedding, no matter how perfect you expect everything to go, you need to accept that an area of your expectations might not be met – and that’s okay. Things may not go exactly the way you anticipated, but everything will turn out to be amazing! I’m still working with myself on my expectations, reality and ACCEPTING reality. It is a daily struggle.

Anyway – on to my reason for being here...

The Proposal:

Edward proposed to me at the karaoke bar where we first met. Kudos to him for remembering, because I’d completely forgotten the name of the place. Trickery and lies were used to get me to the karaoke bar (and how good can a surprise be if there isn’t some level of deception involved?). I thought I was there to eat food and have drinks with a friend of ours and I was hungry and ready for some adult beverages so I wasn’t really paying attention. Although I did have an idea that a proposal was on the way, I was still totally thrown off.

I don’t know how I remember this, but the moment when Edward walked into the karaoke room on the day we first met, my friends and I were all singing and booty popping to Get Low, by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz. So after Edward proposed to me in such a special and profound way; with such class and heartfelt emotion, it only made sense that I trash up the moment by playing that song in honor of the day he walked into my life.

The Ring:

Edward proposed to me with a ring, but it wasn’t THE ring. Edward is very traditional, but he broke tradition by taking me to the ring shop and giving me the option of choosing my own ring (which I stare at often). The following days and weeks went something like this: 


With our engagement now in full effect, it was time to begin the wedding planning process. I have a SEVERE magazine addiction so I really expected that I would subscribe to just about every bridal magazine available, but I surprised myself by not subscribing to any because - Pinterest.

I pulled my Pinterest boards together in a ridiculously short amount of time. Edward and I had been together for 10 years so I was ready and prepared, like yesterday, for this wedding to take place. With my pin-boards settled, I thought I had just about everything figured out. I was very na├»ve about how many details, timelines and dollars actually go into a wedding, depending on the type of wedding you envision for yourself. And this girl right here had bourgie aspirations on a penny pinching budget. I wanted to feel like a celebrity on that day, and feeling like a celebrity damn sure aint cheap.

Up Next: The Wedding Party

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year!

I have a few goals for 2017 but the most important one is learning to relax for the sake of my health.

2016 was incredibly amazing, but it was also stressful, overwhelming and anxiety ridden. Although I have always had a clean bill of health I still never took my health for granted. I always thanked the Lord that my annual visits to the doctor have all been clear.

Phone calls from the doctor are usually not a good thing and in 2016 my doctor’s number flashed across my caller ID more than I would have liked. Nothing extremely serious is wrong but the doctor wasn’t calling me to chit-chat either. I’m the weirdo who actually enjoys going to the doctor, but in 2016 I came to dread those visits because there was one issue after another to resolve.

My mom told me that I have been a worrier since I was little and I never really accepted this. Even though I internalized the things that I worried about I would eventually get over them. But over the past few years, I realize and accept that I don’t handle stress as well as I used to or at least as well as I thought I did. I get overwhelmed and anxious easily. Even when I don’t feel the stress or anxiety it still manifests itself in my body and is apparent in my blood pressure.

It’s known how stressful planning a wedding can be (and it was stressful); and planning a wedding in conjunction with having surgery, having other minor health issues pop up here and there throughout the year and then, ending the year with having to have the same surgery that I had before the wedding was A LOT. I’m exhausted.

In 2017 I want to learn how to really chill out. I realize that I’m not so good at relaxing. Even when I’m sitting still my mind is still going. I want to not take things so seriously. Even if things are serious, there are some things that are out of my control and I need to let those things go and let God…

Exercise is one of the things that is effective in lowering stress and combating high blood pressure. I don’t think I’ll ever be crazy about exercise, but I do see the positive effects working out has had on my health. I had to find something that I would stick with and Lumowell at home workouts seem to keep me motivated. I haven’t been able to work out in a few weeks because I’m still recovering (and I cannot believe I’m saying this!), but I’m looking forward to working out again. If exercise can naturally help to relieve some of my health issues, then I’ll do whatever I have to.

I know that things could be worse for me, so I’m grateful that everything that was wrong with me has turned out to be ok. I’m grateful to be alive because putting my life into the hands of others, even for something minor, is nerve wrecking. I’m grateful to have a wonderful, amazing husband who stayed home and waited on me like a handsome nurse/butler. Everybody doesn’t have a partner who will drop everything for them and I’m so blessed to have that in him.

All in all I’m hoping for a healthier year.

Happy 2017!

- Louise