Wedding Planning

Hi friends! Before I start, let me first say that all the details, all the people involved, and all the “stuff” that’s involved in wedding planning cannot possibly go into one single blog post. At least not the way I write. I’m sure it’s WordPress-possible, but no one would like to read a blog post that long. So, what I’ve put together here is a “brief” snap shot of the major planning decisions which impacted our day immensely. What it doesn’t talk about how incredible our families were in helping to prepare for this day in advance, how many “behind the scenes” details that my mom, dad, and sister ironed out down there in NC prior to the wedding, and what it felt like to walk through the day as a bride. I hope to write about all that soon. But for now, especially as it’s been 3 months since our wedding and I haven’t written about it yet….I figured this is a good start below. Enjoy…

The Date

December 8th, 2012 was our wedding date. How did we choose it? Weeeell, I originally dreamed of getting married in the fall; autumn leaves covering some distant rolling hills, cozy colors to surround the wedding theme, etc. However…between my fall travel season for work, and simply finding a date that wasn’t already taken by vendors, we thought “why not early December?” It was perfect. Just about any vendor is free in the winter months, and we knew that most of our guests wouldn’t be conflicted with Thanksgiving and Christmas travel plans as the 8th fell right in the middle.

Recommendations – choose a date that’s right for you AND for the majority of your guests. Try not to compete with major holidays, or other friends’ weddings that season. Most importantly just ask yourselves – what date feels comfy for us, and for our favorite people?

The Dress

K & DressJust one month after Sean proposed in 2011, I said a second “YES!” … this time to “the dress” on a beautiful afternoon in Wayne, Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve day. My stunning sister Carolyn (who was also my matron of honor) and my beautiful momma Jane were gleefully by my side for this special decision. At the time, Mom and Dad were still in Pennsylvania in their last year before retirement, Carolyn and her precious children and husband were down in Columbia, South Carolina, and I was of course in D.C. That said, we rarely had a moment like this to be together, just the three of us again.

A week before, I called to scheduled an appointment with The Wedding Shoppe in Wayne. They asked me what style I was looking for, the date of the wedding, my wedding theme, how Sean proposed, etc. It was happening….I was TOTALLY feeling like a bride now. Heheee! So Christmas Eve day arrived and I was beaming. My favorite holiday was here, my family was all under one roof, and I was going to try on wedding dresses with my two most cherished ladies. A few choices, and a glass of champagne later (oh yes, they totally popped the bottle for our special day – big surprise, and made the day so giggle-worthy & fun!), I had found my dress. Monique Lhuillier’s 2012 Bliss collection was hosted in a trunk show that weekend which allowed us to get a pretty sweet discount. It just felt “Katherine.”

Recommendations – fancy up your hair & make-up a bit before trying on wedding dresses. I curled my hair and dolled up my make up before we left. Trying on dresses is such a special experience…so treat it like one! Doll yourself up a bit to better picture how you’ll look and feel the day-of. You’ll look beautiful without make-up, I have no doubt about that. BUT taking time to look your best makes yourself shine in each dress! …that totally rhymed 😉 Also…try on designs that you think are beautiful, but aren’t what you’ve always imagined yourself in. You might find yourself in awe of a dress that is more “you” than you ever dreamed of.

The Chapel

The tiny, beautifully manicured mountain town of Montreat, North Carolina has been an annual sanctuary and vacation spot for me and my family since I can remember. If you ever find yourself traveling to the heavenly Blue Ridge Mountains, you MUST swing through the main streets of both towns – Black Mountain and Montreat. Southern hospitality is at it’s finest, the backdrop of classic rolling mountains keep your spirit humbled with just one look, and the sweet mountain air is something I miss the moment I have to leave it. Each summer I grew up “rock-hoping,” roasting smores, hiking, falling in love with Bluegrass music, laughing hysterically with my family, and reconnecting with God. Needless to say – this was where I had always dreamed to marry the love of my life. Little selfish, sure. Cause like…what if he wanted to get married somewhere else? But thank the Lord, I didn’t have to worry! Love you, Sean…and thank you 🙂

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Spring, Summer, Winter, or Fall…it could rain…it could sleet…it could snow…it could do anything. Outdoor weddings are spectacular, and I love attending them. For my own little nerves, however, I really wanted to be inside to avoid the fear of a downpour on our guests…and maybe my dress too. I also grew up in churches with my father as my minister. It was home. The classic beauty of this chapel was everything I’ve ever hoped to marry Sean in. It also created a feeling for us all where we were free from outside distractions. It was only about our ceremony, about love, about God, and about the sanctity of marriage.

Recommendations – even if you don’t choose a wedding venue that holds special meaning for either of you, choose one that celebrates you as a couple. A vineyard, an open field, a “newlie” found church that seems to just “fit” your love, etc. Make sure it’s truly you. This is just me…but I’m a strong believer in putting the most effort into the ceremony. After all, it’s the ceremony that signifies your decision to be together for the rest of your lives. Cherish that venue!

The Minister (a.k.a. “Dad”)

I totally got the easy choice with this one. This was planned since I was born. My dad, the inspirational minister and mentor to so many people, was without question the one to both give me away AND marry me and Sean. Dad, we cannot thank you enough for your wisdom, energy, and heartfelt words on our wedding day. You were perfect. No other words to say. If you’d like to hear how well my father spoke, how well he gave me away, and how well he intertwined his blessing with his wishes for us, you can hear his homily via the link below. It’s so beautifully woven into a photo slideshow thanks to our photographer, Ashley Jones, Associate Photographer for Sposa Bella Photography:

http://www.sposabellaphotography.com/mason

Recommendations Search for the minister/officiant who will celebrate who you are as a couple, who “gets” you both, and who you would welcome guidance from. Those points also just so happens to cover what he/she will talk about in their homily for you: a celebration of your marriage, a moment to capture who you are, and an offering of guidance.

The Readers

THIS MOMENT was what brought us, and our entire ceremony to tears. Oh my gosh. Let’s start with Charlene, my college roomie:

Charlene Phillips

Char. Lenie. “Roomie for life,” and “best friend” are some other names that she’s received. This girl was totally hand picked by God to be my freshman year college roommate. Over 10 years later, I asked her to read a scripture at our wedding. Charlene’s faith in God has remained an inspiration to me for as long as I’ve known her. She has an incredibly calm, ambitious, and heartfelt spirit. She applauded the happiness that Sean brought me, and there was no question in my mind of who else to ask to read this scripture for us:

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Colossians 3:12-18
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Beth Kephart

This lady. Where do I even begin to explain her marvelous brilliance, her sensational spirit, and her heartfelt kindness. She’s truly amazing.

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Beth is an award winning author, nationally recognized for her numerous hit-selling novels. And yes, I’ve previously waltzed into Barnes & Noble before and stumbled upon my friend Beth’s best selling books just hangin out there on the shelves. No big deal…just my friend Beth…the writer taking the world by storm….did I mention we’re friends?!

So, I asked her to read something at our wedding ceremony. I didn’t really give her much direction, just asked for anything that she felt was a great representation of marriage in words. Could be something that she would write organically, or has written in the past, or maybe it was something that she just adored from another writer. Up to her. She was so happy to do this, and I was over the moon with joy. So, we get to the ceremony, Charlene brings me to tears with her reading of the scripture, and then it’s Beth’s turn…

What happened next brought our entire ceremony (and me…duh) to unstoppable tears flowing straight from the heart. Here’s what she wrote and said:

If you know Katherine Wilson—if you love her—you know what joy is.  It is the color, I’ve decided, of winter sun, 4 PM, Saturday afternoon—more pink than gold, generous and fulgent.  It’s homemade strawberry jam, lemon-rosemary chicken, the salad that doesn’t need a dressing because it’s been sensationalized with just a little tiny bit of garlic salt.  Joy is a side of Parmesan risotto, a hot tray of zucchini chips, a glass of honey wine, a long drive or a weekend in, an evening by the fire, an oar dipped into a river at dawn.

Joy radiates.  It is contagious.  And if you step even this close to Katherine Wilson, you’re already gone, done in.  You’ve been joy-ified, and there will be no going back.  As long as Katherine’s near, you’re smiling.

The same thing happens, by the way, in Carolyn’s presence.  I’m guessing red-haired, black-haired, light-haired genetics.

Katherine’s joy is why we’re here today.  Katherine’s joy and the most ridiculously lucky fact that there is someone in this world—just the right, rare someone—who wants Katherine to be happier than she already, innately is.  Someone who makes Katherine happiest.

It might not have happened.  Life doesn’t always yield, doors don’t always open, but into Katherine’s world stepped this man who has the kind of huge wide heart that knows what treasure is.  A man who wanted to keep Katherine safe.  A man who wanted to build her a home.  A man who wanted to photograph her against the rising and the setting sun.  A man who lets Katherine know how beautiful she is, and look how beautiful she is, in the face of love.

“I just like to sit and think about how lucky I am and about how much I love my life,” Katherine is known to write—on her blog, or on Facebook.  “The biggest feeling Sean and I both have is that we are just so grateful for each other, grateful for our family and friends, and grateful to God for the friends and families that this marriage is bringing together,” Katherine wrote to me, a few weeks ago.

Maybe gratitude isn’t always easy.  But when it is found, when it is honored, when it is sustained, it makes everything so simple, and that’s the thing about Katherine and Sean’s love.  It is uncomplicated.  It is therefore good.

Astonishing things happen in grace.   Life is lived bigger through awe.  Katherine alone is a wonder, of course, but Katherine with Sean is something approximating a miracle.  They together remind us what love can be—how full of giving, how without limits, how holy, dear, and fulgent.

Happy Wedding Day, dear Katherine and Sean.

My dear Beth, I’m wiping away tears again as I read this…again, but I must say for the 73042th time, thank you. You blew us away. You captured and put into words for our special day just how and why we love each other so much. Your words are a gift to us forever.

You can also view Beth’s blog post about her weekend in Asheville here, or you can visit and follow her blog: Beth Kephart Books.

Recommendation– have readers. Even if it’s a short poem that has touched your heart in some way. It’s the most meaningful moment to incorporate a reader or two into your ceremony. It gives the celebration multiple voices and perspectives, offering even more joy to your wedding ceremony than ever imaginable.

The Reception

Ain’t no party like an Asheville party!!! Oh my gosh. We had THE TIME OF OUR LIVES at our reception in downtown Asheville, NC. The Venue was absolutely sensational. The name? No … seriously …it’s actually just called “The Venue.” If anyone ever considers downtown Asheville for a reception vendor to cater, decorate, and manage your wedding…just be prepared to hear me sing the praises of Marta and Jon (owner and general manager) for as long as possible. Those two answered my emails within 24 hours, in detail, without missing a beat…always. I’m kind of a perfectionist. Secret’s out! Ahhh! But I mean, let’s be real, this was my wedding day. The day I was going to marry the man of my dreams. I was totally allowed to be a perfectionist. Marta and Jon never once made me nervous. If anything, they prompted me with things I never thought about. And their decor! It was more than I dreamed of. When my sister and I toured reception venues a year ago I just knew this was the one. It’s like the store “Anthropologie” (my favorite store btw) meets classic country, with a wintry/Christmas twist. Check out this little slideshow:

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The DJ

mitch fortuneMitch Fortune. Are you reading this? YOU ARE THE MAN!

Mitch Fortune was our DJ. At first we went back and forth between a band and a DJ. I adored the idea of a live band, who doesn’t, but the price of the bands we actually liked were just killer. Also, Sean reminded me that sometimes, nothing compares to hearing the song in its truest form on the speakers…sung as it’s known, and how it should be presented. Glad he reminded me of that. My best friend from high school, Katie (hi Bambi!!!) asked “what can I do to help?” one afternoon as I vented to her about my stresses of balancing busy work life with real life and wedding planning life. Well, Katie-to-the-rescue went to work and found Mitch. Now, before finding Mitch I was SUPER annoyed with the classic shaky-headed radio sounding DJ’s (e.g. “Heeyyyyy KaatherINE! Heh heh. Grrrreat to hear from yaaah.” kind of voicemails in response to my DJ inquiries) who seemed to be everywhere. But Mitch was different. Mitch is down for the bottom line, never tried to sell, was incredibly honest and upfront about his costs and options (as is his detailed website) and happened to also have a great speaking voice. We couldn’t/didn’t want to afford a wedding planner for the reception, so Mitch simply stepped in as the lead (along with Marta and Jon from The Venue) to remind me when to do the bouquet toss, the cake cutting, the speeches, the first dances, the mingling moments, etc.

Mitch – thank you for being everything we ever hoped for in our DJ! I highly recommend him to anyone in the NC area who is looking for a DJ.

Recommendations – DJ or Band or iPod, doesn’t matter, just make sure it’s what you REALLY want, and that it fits your budget. Then, if it’s a DJ or Band…do your research. Don’t get just anyone. Does the website look good? Do they return your phone calls/emails appropriately? Are there any warning signs? Check for that kind of stuff. And of course, enlist the help of you friends for research. The more help – the better.

The Photographer

Ashley Jones, I don’t even know where to begin to thank you for being so sensational. Ashley and her company, Sposa Bella Photography, are located in Greenville, South Carolina. They came recommended by another reception vendor we looked into a year ago, and they ACTUALLY passed Sean’s approval. To those of you who don’t know, Sean’s an amazing photographer. He calls himself an armature, but I think some of his recent photos beg to differ. Anywho…he was tough on our potential photographers. Not only are they expensive, but you can tell when they’re not excellent. Ashley was excellent. She understood the complex lighting, how to get our precious flower girls to look up for a hot second before getting distracted elsewhere, how to capture the few moments I had to look out the window and watch our guests arrive before the ceremony, and to hop up on a chair to document Sean busting out “the worm” on the dance floor at our reception. Need I say more? She’s spectacular.

This girl ALSO taught me, camera in hand, how to do “the wobble” on the dance floor. I mean…just sayin’…she blew us away. I mentioned this link up above in my father’s section, but I’ll post it again so that you can focus more on her actual photos. Here’s the slideshow that she put together for us:

sposabellaphotography.com/mason

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So there you have it. Some recommendations in there, hope you enjoyed. I left out a lot like…the florist, the cake, the invitation designers, the program designers, and perhaps one day I’ll get around to writing about them too. But, let’s be real, you’d probably never want to read another Newlie blog again if it meant they all were this long. Gotta stop somewhere! More to come.

Happy planning : )

Hello, “love!”

Newlie has become a special little blog where I can archive my weekly attempts to balance an assortment of goodies in life: cooking, baking, exercising, catching up with family and friends, learning how to make a house into our home, etc. But there’s something that I haven’t written about yet. It’s kind of the reason and inspiration for my blog….

…I’M IN LOVE!

Like…shout it from the mountain tops while holding a radio over my head – kind of in love. And what’s even better than that? He loves meeeeee! And we’re getting maaaaaarried! Am I making you sick to your stomach? Should I stop talking? Too bad. We get to spend the rest of our lives together, and I can’t even begin to express the joy that brings us. Sean is truly the most amazing, kind hearted, hilarious, handsome man I have ever met. And now…comes a very exciting next step:

Wedding Planning. 

Goodness GRACIOUS there’s a lot that goes into this stuff. Seriously! First of all, there’s the wedding date to choose. Then there’s the wedding websites to pick from. Then you begin the search for the perfect: venue, caterer, photographer, cake bakery, ceremony music, reception music, wedding dress, save the date cards, invitations, color scheme, ceremony program, place settings, place cards, dinner choices, rehearsal dinner restaurant, accommodations, gift registry, thank you cards, flowers, wedding favors, minister, budget, hair and make up artists…and believe me…the list goes on and on. But you know what? I’m seriously loving every minute of planning. It has been such a joy to plan the day that we’ll become husband and wife. I know I’m not the only lady out there planning a wedding right now, or maybe for some of you ladies, SOON to plan a wedding? Ehh!? So I’d love to share the websites and companies I’ve worked with so far who have made the process easy, breezy, and beautiful. Enjoy:

I definitely sprinted to the computer to make a Pinterest board named “I’m getting MARRIED!!!!” within the week that Sean proposed. It’s so much fun. Probably too much fun, to the point of slight addiction, but my fellow Pinterest lovers will understand. If you want to check out some of my “Pin-spirations” just click the icon above.

Wedding Wire is an absolute dream in terms of helping me to keep track of everything like: our budget, the wedding guest list, seating arrangements (our wedding is not ’til December, so I haven’t used that part – but it looks like fun!), monthly check lists, vendor searches, making your own wedding website for your guests, and tons more. It’s a huge help, and I personally like it much more than theKnot.com (too many ads on that site).

Wedding Paper Divas has been a gloooorious help because it’s affordable, personalized, beautiful, and gave us an adorable template for our Save the Dates. Our Save the Dates were delivered to our home within the week. Then…are you ready for this?…..I lost them. Like, totally misplaced them, had absolutely no clue where they were. Now…please tell me…WHAT BRIDE LOSES HER SAVE THE DATES?! I couldn’t find them for weeks. Started to reorder them, and then found them one afternoon conveniently snuggled in the trunk of my car. Apparently I had taken them with me to Pennsylvania to show them to my family one weekend, and then just forgot where I packed them. Whatever – problem solved!
Once it was time for us to look into wedding invitations, I really wanted to go with a privately owned company. Wedding Paper Divas was great for our Save the Dates. But for our invitations, Sean and I both a very traditional and formal look, and for someone to talk to us about all the options; to make the process informative, seamless and personable.  Ideally we’d find a privately owned small business so that our budgeted amount for these invitations could go toward a small business. And did I mentioned we also were hoping for affordable? So naturally we though, “Uhh…is that combination even possible?” Apparently it is. I just happend to Google “Wedding Invitations D.C.” and came across this precious-beyond-words little company, Just Paper and Tea, located along P Street in heart of fancy shmancy Georgetown. I called their number and the woman who answered the phone was named Carolyn. “OOHHH!! HAH! YAY! That’s my sister’s name!” (who also happens to be my Matron of Honor), I enthusiastically replied. I tend to get a little excited about small things from time to time :). Carolyn was such a sweetheart, and proceeded to answer all my initial burning questions about costs and how it met various style expectations. We scheduled a visit for that afternoon, I was late….woopsiessss….but she and her husband stayed late anyway.
OH MY GOSH….you HAVE to check out there adorable store (seen off to the right). It’s a small cozy little two room space with stationary in the first room, plenty of tea options as you enter the second room, and then ENDLESS invitation binders of invitation samples off to the right. Carolyn’s husband, Nick, went through various designs with me so that I’d feel a little more educated on all the various invitation options. After an hour and a half, I had more of a grasp on the enormous world of wedding invitations. It was a little overwhelming at first due to the CRAZY amount of options that our world has produced for weddings these days. Once I knew what I liked, I made an appointment for the next morning and brought the man himself, Mr. Sean Karl Mason, back to the store with me. You think I was overwhelmed? HAH! Sean just kept saying “Wow….uh…..I had no idea there were so many choices…….” but Nick was fantastic. Any confusion, worries, or questions that we had, he answered perfectly. One week later, he delivered us our first proof. Super fast. I cannot recommend this place enough! Check it out when you’re in Georgetown next, even if you’re only looking for cute teas or stationary.
That’s all for now. I’ll try to write more about any other vendors that make the world a better place once we’re finished working with them. For now: It’s a beautiful day, I have Frank Sinatra singing to me through the powers of Pandora Radio, and I want to attempt to cook a mouthwatering meal that I’ve made before. It’s the recipe I made at the end of the “True Life: I have the day off (Part II)” post from March.
Love, and thanks for reading 🙂

Day Off (Part I)

Ever need a day to yourself when the rest of the world is working? One that frees you from work, an agenda, and permits your heart and soul to truly define the day?

Today is my day.

That’s right! I have the day off. “HOLLERRRR!” What to dooo!? Well, last weekend was spent in both Westchester County and Long Island, NY for work, so I intend to smush a weekend full of my wish list adventures into today. Special shout out to my AMAZING team (Andrew Bunting, Daniel Zimmet, and Mark Mansdoerfer) who I traveled with. Our mission was to host two admitted student receptions in those areas over the weekend. It was a TOTAL success!

Today’s post will come in two parts:

1) Part I: What I want to do with my day.

2) Part II: What I actually accomplished (both productive, and delightfully unproductive). I’ll deliver Part II after New Girl tonight, so stay tuned. Both for that show (9 p.m. on Fox) and for my little day off report that is 😉 And just because I’m excited…let’s take a little looksie at a preview of tonight’s show:

A day off is typically a day to sleep in and do nothing if your schedule allows for it, am I right? Well, not today. I have a wish list of all-things-delightful to accomplish, and I intend to takle it head-on. Not an agenda…just a wish list:

  • My day-off breakfast. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon.
  • Target time! I’m convinced that shopping at Target is one of the greatest things in life. I have things to buy, Starbucks coffee to enjoy, discounts to get excited over, and new decoration ideas to be inspired by.
  • A clean house. I adore coming home to a clean home…and call me old fashioned, but seeing the smile on Sean’s face when he comes home from work and the entire house is clean (this only happens when I’ve had the day off – don’t be fooled), is priceless.
  • Running with Stella. Remember when I was a rockstar last weekend? If not, read my last post! I need to keep up the athleticism, and today just so happens to be beautiful again. SO beautiful, in fact, that the sunshine just smacks a smile right on your face the moment you step outside. It’s time to exercise.
  • Wedding Wishes. 9 months from our wedding day may seem like an eternity, but the list of things to both plan, and RE-plan is growing by the minute. News on that later.
  • Pinterest. I mean let’s be honest, we all know it’s going to happen. Might as well add it to the list so that I can feel especially productive later!
  • Cupcakes! I love to bake. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, anyone? I think it’s gonna happen. Work friends at Mason’s Office of Admissions – if you cheer me on in this task… you’ll be “sweetly” rewarded when I return tomorrow!
  • New recipe. I’m loving the ideas in one of my new recipe cookbooks. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon as well.
  • Cute new dress. I LOVE dresses, and would love a new one. Let’s see if I can fit this task in as well.

Oh my…it’s already 10:43 a.m….time to go. Who’s excited!? THIS GIRL!

Stay tuned.