Never Forget Your Honeymoon.

When my hubby and I were planning our honeymoon to Puerto Rico, we new that we were about to have a once in a lifetime experience. Similar to the wedding day itself, we also knew that the honeymoon would fly by quicker than we could imagine. We wanted a way to forever remember the love and romance that came with our honeymoon experience in Humacao, PR. I decided that photos were a great way to achieve this. But after what we paid for our wedding, there was no way we could afford to hire a photographer to follow us around for the trip, or even an hour of the trip. So I bought a $15 tripod on amazon, set it up in the sand and we had our own early morning beach honeymoon shoot! And the results are dreamy and intensely romantic!!!

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All photos are taken by me and my tripod! No photographer necessary! Contact me with any questions!! Where did you and your sweetie go on your honeymoon?! 

Featured Piece of the Week. Russian Vintage Camera.

I JUST got this incredible new piece and I am SOOO excited to share it that I can’t even wait a week to post about it! This camera is from the Soviet Union and is incredibly intricate. It was a film camera and comes with the original black leather strap! This is a one-of-a-kind piece that adds a whimsical flare to any wedding! It also makes an adorable prop for engagement photos! It has so much character and the details are so intricate!

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Photo is from OldSovietPretties on etsy! Contact me for pricing!

Love is in the Air.

This is the time of year when most Wisconsin-ites begin to get a little crazy. The cold, the wind, the snow… uhg, the ice scraping and the shoveling. Miserable. Every year this time, I ponder of why I actually continue to live here. All it would take is to pack up our things and we could settle somewhere where we would see the sun for more than 5 months out of the year.

But if there is one thing that the cold does do for us, well, it brings us closer to the ones we love! Cozy fireplaces and cuddling under thick knitted blankies, comfort food galore, and of course, some good movie/couch time! So, when all else in the world seems to be frozen over, grab a glass of wine and get cuddled up with the ones you love. So here’s to you babe!

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Talia and Ryley-380 Talia and Ryley-381Our beautiful wedding photos are taken by Emily Steffen. She is amazing!! Check her out here!

X-Mas Cards!

Last Christmas was the first year that Ryley and I sent out Christmas cards together (as an engaged couple), but this year is our first official married couple card! Hooray! 🙂 And it helps that they are SO pretty! The envelopes are even gold lined! When we had the calligraphy done for our wedding stationary, we had the calligrapher make us a personal stamp with our home address on it, so we got to use this for the first time too! Such a nice personal touch! Links below.

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These beautiful cards are printed by Simply To Impress. Photos of the card are taken by me in our kitchen! The wedding photo on the card is by Emily Steffen Photography and was taken at The Barn at Harvest Moon Pond in Poynette, Wi. The gorgeous calligraphy stamp was created by Abany Bauer of Brown Linen Design. She did AMAZINGLY beautiful work for our wedding paper goods!

The Big Day. From the Mother-of-the-Bride’s Eyes.

When you start planning your wedding it suddenly seems as though every person in your life thinks that their sole purpose is to give you advice on what the big day should be like. This can be great… if you are actually interested in hearing what Great Great Aunt Bittie has to say about your wedding taste. But all joking aside, a week before my wedding I received one of the best pieces of advice I could have ever asked for. A close friend told me to make sure that no matter what happens on the big day, that my now-husband and I take a moment to remove ourselves from the scene and just “take it all in.” To visually look at the moments before us. It is something many couples wish they had done in retrospect.

And so we did. My husband and I stepped aside and spent a moment just absorbing the beauty in front of us. I could spend all day describing what that moment felt like as the bride. When you plan your own wedding, it is so easy to get swept away in flowers, dresses, caterers and cakes. You don’t realize what the day feels like from someone else’s perspective. My mother, who happens to be an excellent writer, decided to spend some time recapping the day from the eyes of the mother-of-the-bride. This piece she wrote is truly touching and is a perspective most brides don’t take the time to consider. I will let her words speak for themselves. I hope you find this to be as enlightening and beautiful as I do.

So my piece of advice to all future brides is simply this: don’t forget what a big day this is for the ones who love you too.

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Written by Robyn Martino. Photos by Emily Steffen.

Love and Joy

February 8th, 2013:  “Mom, where are you guys” my daughter shouted through the phone?   “We’re on our way home, what’s up,” I asked?  “Hurry up, I have to show you something,” Talia screamed.  Mike and I drove expediently home where I scrambled out of the car the second Mike put it into park, and moved toward where Talia was jumping up and down, and waving her hand toward me.  “Look, I’m engaged,” she squealed.  Hugging, jumping up and down, and girly screaming ensued.  Of course, Mike and I knew it was coming, as her love, Ryley, had already asked us for her hand in marriage.  Now fast forward to this summer!

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be “The Mother-of-the-Bride”.  I have always known how much I love my daughters. You know, the heart-ripping, passionate, overwhelming spidey-sense tingling need to protect from all evil, can’t sleep at night, fear of everything scary, and find yourself just staring at them in awe, love.  Of course, parents raise their kids to be independent and leave us – how unfair is that, really?  (Now, I suppose that depends upon the child!)

For me, it is difficult – I don’t think I have really let go even though my girls are 22 and 25 years old.  I love them, fear for them, worry about them, and enjoy every minute I get with them – a regular old love-fest!  We are very close and get together almost weekly!  Must be love, right?

That’s what I thought – love.  However, this summer, I think I truly experienced one of those sweet moments of real love.  The planning was complete.  Vintage everything, barn this, barn that, depression glass, calligraphy, dresses – oh, the dresses!  A girly girl’s dream.  Seriously, a place where I shine!  I was in heaven and enjoyed every second of planning for the wedding.  A sense of fun, joy, and a taste of beauty evolving in design for June 22nd.

Then the big day!  I didn’t really know what to expect on her wedding day.  People had certainly asked me how I was feeling about it, and many asked about my son-in-law,still others told their own stories of marrying off their children.  I genuinely thought I would be a mess of emotion.  I was, but not how I expected.  I thought I might be sad – you know – to GIVE my daughter away, or to think I was losing her – all that love and nurturing, done, gone, complete – an ending.  How could love feel so empty?

Surprisingly, none of those emotions capture the day.  There is only one word to describe the day.  Pure, genuine, JOY!  At its purest, finest, state, JOY is overwhelming.  A state of existence where you likely are out of body, mind, and any physical state.  A state of love – everlasting, always changing, growing, nurturing, and eternal. Joyful.

The brides room was buzzing.  Two hairstylists curling, spraying, teasing.  Make-up: every brand, color, and item you can imagine (at least those that went with pale pink).  Four bridesmaid dresses, a flower girl’s dress, two Mother’s dresses, and the brides’ dress all hanging from a steel-pipe-made clothing rack on deep mahogany hangers.  The only distinguishing feature between them was the letter of their first names in gold calligraphy on their hanger.  The bride’s hanger unique, in that the middle brace made of gold wire was artistically bent to spell out Mrs. Laird.  Glistening, Cinderella shoes were planted firmly below the bride’s dress – a major photo opp.  Crystal jewelry, my mother’s hand mirror, a small beaded purse, and the bridal rings adorned the table in this room.  Getting ready was serious, big business – sentimental perfection.  But, there was more.  I slipped silently out of the room to go upstairs and look at the barn, now fully decorated, cakes and flowers proudly filling their designated spaces.

Every detail; yes, every detail had been carefully thought about and executed.  A table filled with 13 glass pedestal cake plates had now been completed with matching cakes of differing sizes, the icing concealing the tasty flavor hidden beneath.  Pink Depression Glass artifacts, pale pink Peonies, and 1930’s glass lanterns completing the look.  A candy-bar filled with a variety of shaped topiary jars, and glass containers each housing delicious ivory candy treats filled a table adding a savory tempting sweetness to the room.  Each table setting complete with a hand-calligraphed menu, a name card, and burlap napkin, flowers in natural wood boxes weaving through the tables.   400 feet of individually placed Bistro lights cascaded like Christmas garland across the barn rafters.  156 mason jars detailed in burlap, lace, flowers, and ribbon placed every foot around the perimeter of the barn with their soft glow illuminating the stories of the authentic barn boards surrounding its guests.

Down below me, the soft sound of male laughter as the groomsmen began the ordeal of figuring out how to put on the tuxedo, the suspenders, and the bowtie.  I hear beer popping open, and think that a beer always helps figure out these advanced things, you know, like bowties and suspenders!  Walking past the groom’s room, I witness a much different scene than I left in the bride’s room.  First, the door was open – clearly, no secrecy around how the groom looks.  All the groomsmen with a beer in hand, smiles on their faces, and every now and again a loud burst of gusty laughter resonating the barn.  An interesting contrast to the brides room.

Back in the bride’s room, I sat in awe, watching my two beautiful daughters; one the bride, one the maid-of-honor.  No surprise that their inseparable childhood partnership would manifest into these roles, and when the time is right, will manifest in reversed roles of bride and maid-of-honor.   Crystals of love sparkled in their eyes when they looked at and to each other.  Talia smiling and glowing throughout the day as she looked at Tori as if to say, can you believe this?  Tori looking back at Talia as only a little sister can. “Wow, is this MY sister? She is so amazing.”

Four o’clock – it is time.  My daughter prepared for the exit from her changing room – my loving husband at her side.  It was time for me to move out into my seat.  A quick look back at the two of them; a proud father, loving daughter, a family gaining a son!  A moment I couldn’t prepare for.  Amazingly, while tears peaked out of my eyes at this scene and many others throughout the wedding, I didn’t feel sad.  It was something I had not recognized or felt in the past.  I was happy, delighted, and found great pleasure in every moment of the day.  I can only describe it as joy.  A  joy that originated from pure love.  The dream of a future and all that it will hold – nothing more precious than watching your children grow.

Epilogue:

Bye-the-way, I believe that adult children do not grow up to leave you, rather they grow up to form a new relationship with you – one totally reflective of the relationship you built for all those formative years, one that is worth every investment of time, love, fear, worry, and growth.  And, another thought, kids aren’t the only ones who grow up!

JOY!  Not just for the holidays, anymore.  ( A line adapted from the Movie, Santa Clause).

 

Succulents and Nostalgia

So the start of the school year is almost here and last night I got to meet my brand new 6th grade sweeties! It was so much fun to help them open their very first locker and to talk to their families about all the wonderful things we are going to do with the children this year! What excitement! 🙂

Buttt… with the excitement comes long hours. Lately, I have been working like a mad woman trying to get ready for my new role in KM Create! So exciting, but also exhausting! It turns out that creating a school from scratch isn’t so easy! The other day I was driving home after a long day of meetings, training, and intense philosophical reasoning only to realize that we had NOTHING to eat for dinner. I stopped at the local grocery store to pick up some pasta to make shrimp alfredo (one of my go-to’s). Like most grocery stores, there is a small aisle of florals with mostly cliche stuff like poorly-grown roses and carnations died various colors that are entirely unnatural for flowers to be. However, a small, burlap wrapped pot caught my eye. In the pot was a tiny green succulent. The feelings of nostalgia came rushing in as I recalled the beautiful succulents that were a part of my wedding day only two months ago. Ahh… the incredible smell of peonies came rushing back! This small plant brought me a TON of happiness, so I just HAD to share it! Hopefully it will bring you as much joy as it did for me! Enjoy! 🙂

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What is something that brings you a sense of joy, nostalgia, peace, or happiness? Please share by writing a comment on this post for others to read! Spread the inspiration!

 

A Recipe for Rustic!

The latest and, in my opinion, the greatest new thing to hit the wedding industry seems to be brides that are willing to forego the traditional chapel experience and embrace the beauty of wood, candlelight, and the great outdoors. Rustic weddings are, by far, my favorite wedding inspiration. Having just finished planning the rustic wedding of my dreams, I have a few ideas about how it all came together! So what are some of the ways you can add some rustic flair to your big day? Here are the ingredients to planning a beautiful rustic affair!

 

Selecting your canvas.

The venue that you select is probably the single most important component to planning a rustic wedding! I like to think of the venue as the canvas for which you will paint the picture of your big day. The venue will provide the basic atmosphere for your wedding festivities. It will give your wedding a particular “feel” and possibly even a color palette. Some of my favorite canvases for a rustic wedding are barns, gardens, vineyards, or the great outdoors! At our wedding, we knew we wanted a rustic feel, but we also wanted to have modern amenities, so we opted for the most AMAZING wedding venue- we selected a barn in Poynette, Wisconsin. Be sure to consider amenities when you select a venue. Many of the barns we visited did not have air conditioning, heat or even restrooms! Imagine lil grandma trying to use a port-a-john… not quite the image we all had in mind.

Flowers Set the Stage.

Pick a florist you trust to help you create your rustic vision. Some of my favorite flowers for a rustic feel include peonies, ranunculus, dusty miller, succulents, seeded eucalyptus, dahlias, and baby’s breath. Keep it simple if you are having your soiree outdoors so nature can speak for itself. You will notice my husband and I went with aged buckets of baby’s breath for our ceremony decor- simple, romantic, and very rustic! Bring light pastels into your color palette for a beautiful romantic feel!  Bring flowers into EVERY part of your wedding for an overall intimate day, including your cake, your decorations, and even your centerpieces! I love how the long wooden plantar boxes accentuated the soft color palette we chose for our wedding day! I also love how the beautiful puffy peonies complimented the long, romantic, soft bridesmaids dresses my ladies selected!

 

Personal Touches.

A rustic wedding can’t go without some personal, intimate touches! This is the part that if you are planning the wedding by yourself can feel really crazy to coordinate! But trust me- it is SOOO worth it to have a wedding that truly reflects the love that you and your significant other share together! This is what makes your wedding different than every other wedding ever held at your venue!

We focused on hand-made details that were meaningful to us. We included a bonfire with s’mores after dinner because that is probably what we would have been doing that evening had we not been getting married, we created a rubber stamp that we used on items throughout the wedding day, I learned calligraphy to create hand-made signs for throughout the barn, we incorporated some beautiful flowers that my father grew for us in his garden, we had a guest book specifically designed for us  by a local artist, we included romantic lace everywhere we could and my mother even sewed our lace table runners. I collected some vintage handkerchiefs and had my aunt hand embroider them for a sweet gift to each of our mothers. We created a candy station for our favors where guests could fill a linen bag that we had hand-stamped to take home. We even collected antique pieces of pink depression glass to sprinkle throughout the barn for a more personal feel. All of the plantar boxes for the flowers as well as the table numbers were hand made by a family friend. We lined the entire perimeter of the barn with candle-lit mason jars that we hand-decorated (about 150 lit jars!) and strung globe lights for a cozy feel for dancing! As an added sentiment to our families, we included a beautiful picture of each of our parents’ weddings in vintage frames; after all, they are our examples of how a loving marriage should be. For my something borrowed, I used a handkerchief that has been passed down through many generations of women (including my mother). Since my grandmother passed away shortly after we got engaged, I decided to include her in the “getting ready festivities” by using her antique gold hand-mirror.  On the bottom of the menus, we wrote “Per Centanni” which is an Italian blessing to honor my deceased grandfather who spoke Italian and loved all things Italy. My favorite detail of all, is the small heart-shaped patch that I hand-embroidered (which I learned how to do for the first time!) and sewed on the back of my handsome groom’s tie.

 

Be Yourselves and FEEL THE LOVE!

This is supposed to be the happiest day of your life! One of the trademarks of a rustic wedding is that you and your significant other are sooooo in LOVE that the guests can FEEL it when they watch you look at each other! Enjoy every moment, from getting ready to I Do, and try not to stress! Just be PRESENT. The glow of love is what rustic is ALL ABOUT!

 

All photo credits go to the AMAZING Emily Steffen!!

Florals You CAN’T miss for your big day!

When it comes to wedding planning, there is soooo much to consider! It is easy for any bride to get bogged down in all of the decisions and lose sight of the vision they were hoping to create on their big day! Looking back at my own wedding in retrospect, it is easy to see how all of the details came together and how all of the decisions, big and small, helped to create a unique atmosphere at our wedding. However, during my planning, I did find myself wondering what direction to go, where to prioritize in my budget, and how all of the small details would look when brought together. In my mind, florals can be the difference between a beautiful, well put together day and a day that feels disconnected. Florals can give your day a warm, intimate feeling, or a classic romance that is the stuff of fairytales. It is crucial that when you meet with your florist you feel like she “gets you” because you will be trusting her to encompass your vision. Pick vendors that can connect naturally with what you are hoping to create for an easier process and a stress free big day! Make sure to bring along lots of inspiration so they can really visualize exactly what you are hoping for. To help with that, here are some inspirational blooms (from various florists) that you CAN’T go wrong with- these blooms are all kinds of PRETTY!

 

engagements that are “so you”

It has now been a year since we had our engagements done and our wedding has come and gone. Looking back on the experience, I only wish someone would have given me some tips on getting engagement pictures that are both unique and true to the special bond that Ryley and I share. Here are some of the things I wish I would have known!

. get cozy .

The best pictures from our entire session were the ones where you could see the love in our eyes or the passion in our embrace, so don’t be afraid to get cozy and lovey with your hunny!

. location, location, location .

Choose somewhere special or significant to your relationship to have your lovely engage session. Not only will it allow you to have pics that no one else could have, but it will be something you look back on fondly. We chose to have our pics taken on Ryley’s family farm and we will never forget the experience of running through the fields where his grandparents and parents have farmed for years!

. forget about the weather .

It would have been easy for Ryley and I to get discouraged. I had checked the radar for two weeks straight and it had said beautiful, sunny, 75 degrees with a light breeze. On the day of our session, it misted the entire time and was nothing but gloom. In the end, our pictures still came out great because of our amazing photographer. The love will shine through any storm, so don’t give it a second thought!

. bring props .

To make your session even more “you” consider bringing in props that are unique to you and your partner, or your loved ones. For our photos, I wore a locket that my grandfather had given me as a little girl. I also brought a quilt that was handmade by my grandmother and passed down through the generations. We made sure to take some pictures with an old tractor that Ryley’s grandfather used on the farm (and it is still used by his father to this day!). We also brought a cute little chalkboard to display our wedding date! These little touches were meaningful to us and made our photos even more special!

. don’t forget about the fun .

Last tip- be yourself and have fun! This is a chance for you to really just enjoy being engaged and to have some fun photos taken where you and your partner aren’t in “wedding attire”. These pictures should show your personality. Don’t obsess over making sure they are just like something you saw on pinterest. You don’t want to have the same pictures as everyone else!

Photo credits go to the amazzzzing Emily Steffen!