Wedding Wednesday: My Bridal Portraits

It's finally time to share my bridal portraits! I made a trip home to NC in April to do my hair and makeup trials and shoot these photos all at the same time. I thought it was a great way to see the full look a few weeks before the wedding, and of course an excuse to wear the dress early! Our setting was the beautiful Graylyn Estate in Winston Salem, NC. Graylyn typically only allow bridal sessions for brides having their wedding there. But our photographer, Liz Grogan Photography shoots there often and was given permission. The property is all around gorgeous, and we had so many options of where to shoot. We had the above photo framed at the entrance of the reception, and I just love how this staircase showed off the train of my dress.

I plan on doing a full details post about my dress, shoes, accessories and how I found them later. But I'll start by saying my dress is by Eddy K, which we found it at Elizabella's Bridal Boutique in Greensboro!

A sweet family friend made my bouquet for the portraits, and I loved what she put together! I didn't have a lot of pink flowers in mind for the day of, so I really like how this one got to be a little different.

My veil and beaded belt were also from Elizabella's! Once I started looking around for my dress, I loved the idea of a mostly simple dress and an embellished veil.

Fun fact: to protect the dress, we carried white sheets all around the property and laid them down before I stood over a certain spot. I also saved my shoes for the big day, and was wearing my trusty Jack Rogers wedges for these photos.

I wore the straps over my shoulders for most of the wedding day, but I liked having them off the shoulder for portraits. We also brought up some fabric from the hem to fill in the originally somewhat low-cut bodice of the dress.

Both of my parents came to the portrait session, which was so much fun! Liz thinks my dad was the first one she's had come to a bridal session, and I'm so glad he came along. The timing worked out perfectly for us to go to dinner right after as well. We thought it was going to rain all afternoon, but it held off until we were leaving the property. The whole experience also saved some time on the wedding day for more photos with TJ or groups, since I had all of these photos of myself already done. I have several future post ideas in mind for once we have all of our photos. But please let me know if there is anything specific you would like to see of our day!

Thanks for reading!

Wedding Wednesday: All of the White Dresses I Wore Before the Big Day

A fun part of being engaged is all of the little white dresses for various pre-wedding events! So I thought I would share what I wore for each event, although several of them are Lilly Pulitzer sale finds. But who's surprised there?

The first occasion was our engagement photos (full post on that here) and I scooped this Lilly Pulitzer "Railee" shift up in a sale just a few weeks after we got engaged. Sizes are available on Poshmark, eBay, etc. but the yellow version can actually be found on Amazon.

My mom's friends threw me the most beautiful bridal shower in Greensboro at the end of March. I found this Lilly Pulitzer "Daniela" dress at the end of the summer last year at Belk, and was saving it for the right pre-wedding event. This one unfortunately is only still available on Poshmark, eBay, Mercari.

Sticking with the theme here...I wore this Lilly Pulitzer "Edona" white lace halter romper on the first night of my bachelorette weekend.  There's a full post on that here, and I actually got this one on Poshmark. It was new with tags, and was perfect for a night out in Charleston!

I wore this ruffled dress with tie straps from Nasty Gal for the Saturday on my bachelorette weekend. I definitely recommend it for spending most of the day outside in the heat. We walked all over Charleston that day!

I wore this seersucker halter from Lauren James for our couple's shower held in Charlotte by TJ's aunts. This photo admittedly doesn't show the dress very well, but I actually did a full post on it right after our engagement in this post! It ended up getting a little chilly that night, and this dress paired great with a denim jacket.

The second to last dress before the real deal was for my bridesmaids luncheon we held a few hours before the rehearsal dinner. I actually graduated from college in this dress. Surprise, it's an old Lilly Pulitzer! It is from 2015, so I unfortunately could not find the style name. But the Valli shift seems to be offered year after year, and is quite similar with metallic embellishments.

Last but not least before the big day was my rehearsal dinner dress! I was almost as excited to look for this one as I was the wedding dress. I originally found this boatneck fit and flare "Blanca Daffodil" dress by Erin Fetherson on Rent the Runway. But I ended up later finding it in my size on eBay for about the same price as the rental! My shoes are also a plain satin pair from J. Crew with clips found from Amazon. I thought I would wear them for the wedding, but ended up with something a little more comfortable.

 Closing it out with this white dress I wore on the honeymoon! I picked it up on the end of my bachelorette weekend at the Gretchen Scott Designs store on King St. It was such a lovely shopping experience with my bridesmaids. Being a Sunday morning, they gave out mimosas, I could have spent all day there! I tied another great memory to the dress by wearing it out for dinner and drinks with TJ in Key West!

Thanks for reading!

Our Honeymoon in the Florida Keys

What better way to come back to posting after the wedding than sharing our honeymoon? TJ and I had an incredible time in the Florida Keys full of exploring, some beach time, and a lot of key lime pie. We left the Monday after the wedding and stayed for 10 days. We flew out of Fort Lauderdale and rented a car, which ended up being upgraded to a Mustang convertible! It really added to the excitement of getting there driving with the top down. It was actually the first of many upgrades we received on the trip. Our very first stop once we got to Key Largo was lunch at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen. It seems to be a Key Largo favorite and we knew why as soon as we got the food. I loved the crabcake sandwich and their sweet potato fries. 

We had actually re-booked the whole trip trip about 6 weeks out, as we were originally set to go to Puerto Rico. But they unfortunately had a big spike in Covid cases in April, that resulted in a lot of new restrictions. We have been fully vaccinated since around the same time, so we decided we would rather go somewhere where we wouldn't have any restrictions. The only real downside to the switch was trying to re-book hotels with all points. The availability was a little limited, so we ended up staying in a different hotel each night on the first part of the trip. So on the first day we checked into the Hampton Inn which had a beach bar and a bay area for swimming. We spent a little time out there and headed to Sundowners for dinner. As the name might suggest, it was a great place to catch the sunset!

We started our first full day with the only real excursion we ended up doing, which was snorkeling! I had never been before, and I really enjoyed it. We went to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and were brought out to the horseshoe reef. It was a lot of fun to swim right above so many groups of fish and unique corals. We even saw a barracuda! I was a little worried I was going to get some motion sickness (I don't have the best history with boats...), but I did pretty well even despite some rough water. Then we ate a late lunch at Evelyn's, which had some great tacos and housemade tortilla chips. We later got drinks at the Gilbert's Resort tiki bar on the beach, and a late dinner at Sharkey's Shark Bite Grill on the marina.

We started the next day of at Pinecrest Bakery, which is a Miami based Cuban bakery. We loved their breakfast sandwich, and the unique flavor of a guava and cheese pastry. We grabbed lunch at another local favorite, Hobo's Cafe. Their shaded patio was so nice and they had some great seafood. Our next stop was our favorite of the whole trip, Baker's Cay Resort! The property is so beautiful, with so much to do. They had watersports, bikes, games, and more. One of my favorite parts was the nightly sunset toast where they hand out champagne on the dock.

As I previously mentioned, hotel availability was sort of all over the place since we changed destinations. So we spent our last night in Key Largo at Baker's Cay before we headed down to Key West. But we had also planned to go back for our last 2 nights there. On the first night, we were upgraded to a beautiful oceanfront suite with an amazing balcony. Although it was a little different way of doing things, we got to see all the property had to offer, and had ideas of what we wanted to do when we got back for the later part of the trip.

We had a nice breakfast on the resort before making our way down for a night in Marathon. 
We made a stop in Islamorada at the Islamorado Brewery and Distillery for a flight. Of course the former Charlotte residents have to stop at a brewery when they see one! Being both a brewery and distillery, they mix beer and cocktails on the same flight. We enjoyed their beers (and even got a 6 pack on the way out) but what we really remember was their frozen key lime pie cocktail. Although it was the mini flight sized version, it was served complete with a graham cracker rimmed glass. 

We made it to Marathon and stayed at the Blue Waters Courtyard Marriott. They had a great infinity pool and waterfront views. The neighboring Tranquility Bay resort had a TJ's Tiki Bar. So TJ and I of course had to pay them a visit for some appetizers, drinks, and key lime pie. Their key lime pie was actually the reigning favorite for a few days on the trip! TJ will be taking over the blog for a day to share our key lime pie rankings in more detail!

It was very windy in Marathon. But it was honestly kind of a relief, as we really felt the Florida heat our first few days in Key Largo. We spent the rest of that day with some drinks by the pool, watched the sunset on a hammock, and ended up staying for dinner at the hotel. They also had a great breakfast, which we enjoyed before heading out to Key West.

We were hoping to take bikes on the Old 7 Mile Bridge on our way out of Marathon. But the section that is typically open to visitors is unfortunately under construction. However, we were able to walk down a another section of the old highway that has now been turned into a fishing bridge to see the abandoned stretch of the road. We later stopped at Boondock's in Ramrod for lunch and mini golf. TJ likes to mini golf in just about every beach town, and this was surprisingly the only one in the Keys! Fun fact: it is also the southernmost mini golf course in the US.

Our next stop was the Casa Marina, the Waldorf Astoria of Key West. We stayed there for the next 3 nights and enjoyed their picturesque pool, in-room espresso, and our ground floor balcony which was basically an extension of the pool area. We kicked off our time in Key West by going to the Sunset Festival on Mallory Square, where we picked up some Italian ice and street-side guacamole. We then walked Duval Street and had dinner at Caroline's Cafe.

We started our first full day in Key West at the Butterfly Conservatory. As soon as you walk in, there are many varieties of butterflies flying past you in all directions. I was very excited to get to see the flamingos, their names are Rhett and Scarlet! We even brought a preserved butterfly back with us to remember it by. We spent the afternoon at the resort pool and walked down Duval street for a late lunch. We ended up stopping for croque monsieurs at Banana Cafe and tried the chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick from another cafe on the street. We will spare our thoughts until TJ's previously mentioned pie post.

We got a few photos before heading off to dinner at Viva, an Argentinian steakhouse. We loved their live music, great food, and extensive cocktail menu. This was TJ's favorite meal of the trip! We also stopped at the Southernmost Point on our walk back to the hotel. It might not have been lit up very well, but we were not willing to wait in line for a photo during the day. So it worked out fine for us, as there were still plenty of people around willing to take photos for each other!

Staying at The Waldorf, we also had access to all of the amenities of The Reach, the nearby Curio resort. We spent some time there the following day, eating lunch at their beachside restaurant, Four Marlins. We also spent the afternoon at their pool, taking a beach nap, and playing a game of giant chess. We later had dinner at the Waldorf's restaurant, Sun Sun. We shared the steak and seafood risotto special, which was my favorite meal of the trip. We followed dinner with a beachside dessert (any guesses what it might have been?) from Salute on the Beach.

We ended our stay in Key West with lunch at the Southernmost house. They have a beachside cafe with great pizza and sandwiches. Although we lucked out with weather for most of the trip, we left this meal in the rain, and ran into some severe weather as we headed back into the upper keys. Once the weather started to clear up, we stopped at Bahia Honda State Park. This park has some beautiful public beaches with an old railroad bridge, and views from Highway 1. We later made another stop for a late lunch at Bad Boy Burrito in Islamorada.

We were then back in Key Largo, and checked in for our last 2 nights at Baker's Cay. To our surprise, we got another upgrade! We were very excited to stay just down the hall from our previous night oceanfront. TJ's diamond member status from work travel definitely helped us out on more than one occasion! We spent a little time on the beach, we caught another sunset toast, and headed back out for pizza at C&C Woodfired Eats and a particular world famous dessert at The Fish House. We had our first manatee sighting while walking the dock after we had returned. There were 2 of them hanging out under the lights of the dock!

We wanted to get the most out of the beach area at this resort on our last full day, and spent some time on the kayaks in the morning. We had to visit local legend Hariette's Restaurant for a key lime muffin and some breakfast favorites. We later got some more time in the sun, and another manatee sighting as one floated right past us! We went over to Islamorada for an early dinner at Habanos on the Creek. You can sit on the water's edge, up close and personal with some fish who hang around waiting for food to be dropped in the water.  We had a sunset cruise planned for our last night, which unfortunately was rained out shortly after we had departed. But we enjoyed it while it lasted and made the best of it. We took advantage of the games available on the resort like cornhole, giant Scrabble, and a pool table.

Another feature we enjoyed of the resort was the love lock arch. We just had to contribute one with our wedding date! We placed the lock before our last breakfast of the trip. The resort's outdoor dining area had incredible views of the water, and they serve drinks out of the cutest pineapple shaped glasses. We packed our bags, but squeezed in one last activity taking the resort bikes out around the property.

We had an evening flight, so we were able to leisurely make our way back to Fort Lauderdale to come home. We grabbed one last meal at Key's Bite, I highly recommend the breakfast skillet! We flew back in to Charlotte, and actually squeezed in another 2 beach days at Holden Beach in NC with TJ's family. It worked out so well since we had another friend's wedding to attend in Charlotte that Saturday. We stayed around for the 4th, and finally made our way back to Atlanta that Monday. Although the honeymoon was 10 days, we spent the week before our wedding in North Carolina as well. So it was a very long time to be away, and packed full of activities, but so much fun!

Thanks for reading!