We is Married!

Its been a long time coming, but I am officially married! I have yet to change my name on ALL of my documents, but I signed that paper! And you know, I feel amazing. I have this amazing life partner that I can continue to grow and build with, act silly with, pray with, and enjoy life. Ask me if I would ever get to this point 7 years ago, and I’d laugh in your face. Look how amazing God is. Not too long after that, we were able to witness my best friend marry the love of his life too! God is in the marriage business! Let him work on you! Only if you want.

Now that the festivities are over and I can finally relax, I can tell you all about my experience on the planning and some sound advice I can relay to those who are getting married soon. Getting married can be one of the happiest times of your life and you probably won’t think straight at least for the next few months. You’re thinking about the dress, the flowers, the venue, and how you want everything to look. That was me. I figured, I’m only doing this once in my life, so what if I go overboard on things I won’t even pay attention to on my big day? Pay attention. Pay very much attention.

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Choose quality over quantity EVERYTIME. From your bridal party to your guests, choose the best. When Benjamin and I did our guest list, we had close to 200 people. We don’t even like 200 people! When we initially got a quote from our caterer and our designer, those numbers will give you a heart attack. You mean to tell me, we gotta pay thousands of dollars to treat these people that we probably don’t even like or haven’t talked to in years to witness our day? No. CUT! (movie director’s voice). If we didn’t talk to them in the last 30-60 days, its a wrap. If we know that you’re only coming just to be nosey, and you don’t have out best interest, you were taken off.

We stood before God in front of friends, family, and a couple of people we didn’t like to say “I do.”

And I really wanted this extravagant wedding. I really did. But God was like, “Y’all don’t need all of that.” We were already going through so much in the year of 2017. We were getting knocked down left and right. Which brings me to my next piece of sound advice, keep your planning circle small and block out the unwanted negativity. Those people you haven’t seen in 500 years messaging you for an invitation, or that person who has everything to say about your planning, but are making no contributions, boy bye.

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My best friend/maid of honor

When Benjamin and I finally realized that we were solely responsible for all of the expenses our “extravagant wedding” had to offer, we cut everything out! We realized we were killing ourselves trying to pay for this extravagant wedding and God said, “NO!” We kept our cake, had pretty much no decorations and our day was so intimate and special. We were able to interact with the few that attended and it was more meaningful that way. Don’t get me wrong, we were so broken up about it, but we looked at each other and said, “Babe, we don’t have any wedding debt.”

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Our colors were Navy, Blush, and Gold. Because my girls were paying for their own dress, I wanted them to pick their own style and design as long as they kept the same color and fabric. My sister in law found these gorgeous scarves on Amazon to bring in that blush . The guys wore these gorgeous navy suits, and although the dresses for my flower girls were too bright, my husband wanted to keep them. And it worked out.

My Dress and Hair

Fun fact: I never picked this dress during my hunting days (Check out this blog post). I didn’t look at it and I didn’t asked for it. I tried on all the styles that I wanted and I hated them. I wasn’t a fan of the form fitting, the sparkle, the see-through or the revealing of the skin. I asked my stylist to pick a few of her favorite gowns and she brought this dress to me. We all fell in love with this dress. The princess ball-gown silhouette, the lace sleeves, the flirtatious neckline and the beautiful back of the dress was amazing. Of course, the brand is Morilee by Madeline Gardner. Would you believe that my hair is just a plain ol’ rod set? And I did my own makeup! Winning!

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Shoes

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After spending countless months of shoe shopping for the perfect wedding shoe and giving up on the idea of wearing designer (my pockets was trying to tell me), I went on ASOS one day and happened to browse their wedding section and saw these beautiful weird shoes. They’re a block heel, had a pretty iridescent color and a flower embellishment! That is me on a shoe! I was more excited about these shoes than those $1000 Christian Louboutin heels. It complimented my gown and I can wear this shoe again and again. You can find them here.

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Before the ceremony started 😍

Reception, you may ask? Nope. We were going to plan one for next year for our one year, but now that my mind is SUPER CLEAR and level-headed, there’s no need for a big party. We had all the people we needed to witness our day and we’re gonna spend that money on a two-week honeymoon (one week here, and one week there). Guys, I know I’ve been married for just a few weeks, but I am so excited. God is good. He has great things planned for the both of us. We are a force to be reckoned with.

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Thank you to our beloved friend Marcus Kennedy from MXk Photography for capturing our special day.

Crazy edits by yours truly 🧐

Check out his Facebook page here.

 

Taking my Best Girls Wedding Dress Shopping & Saying Yes!

Wedding dress shopping is probably one of the most epic experiences in a woman’s life, well for me it is. Its a one time deal (supposedly, but life happens) that is meant to last so it should be done right. My shopping experience wasn’t a long, drawn out stressful situation like most gals and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I knew from the day I was getting married that finding a wedding dress was not going to bring me down, so I decided to share my experience and give you tips on how you can successfully find your dream wedding dress.

Bring your BEST Girls!

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My sister-in-law, who’s also my planner and bridesmaid

You don’t need an entourage. You don’t need every woman in your family and his. The more people you bring, the more chaos and confusion. Believe it or not, your entourage are what brings stress into your shopping experience, because you want to please them. This isn’t about them. I visited two bridal shops and I took two people each time. My first visit was with my future mother-in-law and my best friend, who is my maid of honor.

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My Maid of Honor/Best Friend
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My Future Mommy in Law 💕

I picked people who are not only supportive, excited for me, but also have my best interest. They also believed I should try on the styles I loved and also styles I didn’t think I would like and gave their honest opinion.

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Make Sure your desired Bridal Shop has your size and Try on Everything!

Now, when I say try on everything, not every dress in the store. I meant try on the ball gowns, the trumpet, the mermaid, the minimal, the extravagant dress, etc. I say this because I kept saying that my dress MUST have spunk and bling and character, everything!

Let me tell you, when I tried on a dress that was just that, I hated it. I felt like a huge disco ball. My girls laughed so hard! I tried on a mermaid, and didn’t like the way I was shaped in it. The first shop I went to only had a handful of plus size gowns so we didn’t have much of a selection, but I saw this gown.

I love the mermaid, and I felt like if I lost 30lbs, I would like it on me. To be honest, I didn’t want a dress that I had to kill myself to look a certain way in. Bye bye mermaid!

I tried on one with capped sleeves and bunches of lace and almost threw up lol! I told my fiancé this dress below is the winner and he gave me the worst look ever!

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Bestie in the background, lol

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Have fun! There’s no pressure!

There’s no pressure in finding your dress. It’s supposed to be fun! My mother in law was so funny, she kept trying not to cry and I love how she kept bringing me back to earth. “Baby, make sure you get what you want and try the dress that you want.” I love her, she’s one of my best friends. My mommy will love her. My second trip, I brought my sister in law and my maid of honor again and we spent so much time laughing. They told me to try the dress that I wanted first. I will show that to you in a moment.

When we visited the second shop, New York Bride & Groom, we were immediately impressed. It was huge. If you don’t know they are located in Charlotte, NC and they’re selection was amazing. They also offer tuxedo rentals and bridesmaids dresses as well.

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The Dressing Rooms

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We had so much fun picking dresses and I was so excited that there were more than 4 plus size wedding gowns. Big girls deserve to have the same experience as little girls. So the first dress, I tried, was a dress that I wanted. A white, princess ball gown.

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At first, we loved it. It had just the right amount of bling and I love the poofiness of it. Then after 20 minutes, I felt like white was too much and I wanted something softer and realistic looking. I looked like a cake topper. I tried several versions and I didn’t feel like a real life princess. Which brings me to my last tip:

Ask your stylist for their opinion!

Let me tell you something. It is okay to ask a bridal consultant what she/he thinks you would look great in. Face it, we don’t wear wedding gowns everyday and they have way more experience than we do. Besides, its gives them a chance to get creative because they spend their working hours giving us brides what we want. After exhausting my options I asked my consultants to pick their favorites and what they think would look good on me and I waited.

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After I picked my dress 🤗

 

Y’all, let me tell you. I ended up with one of their selections and can you say, REAL LIFE PRINCESS? I was so pleased with the pick and my girls were excited. I waited 3 months, without looking at other dresses and went back to order it! For the sake of my fiancé (he reads my blog) I will not be showing the dress, but stay tuned!!

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They gave me a sweet gift!

 

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They have an Instagram wall 🙂

 

 

A huge thank you to New York Bride and Groom for the amazing experience and looking out for us Plus Size beauties! If you are looking for an awesome Bridal Boutique, stop by!

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Our 1st Engagement Photoshoot!

Hello! March is pretty much gone! Oh my goodness! Before you know it, the BIG day will be here. This past weekend, Benjamin and I traveled to Greenville, SC to visit my big brother Jonathan and sister-in-law Kaycie for a relaxing, yet productive weekend. Kaycie wanted to snap some impromptu engagement pictures of us around the downtown area. Fun Fact: I used to live in Greenville and downtown is pretty nice with all the shops and parks available to the public.

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Falls Park on the Reedy, Downtown Greenville, SC

We decided to snap pictures around the Falls Park area which was perfect. From the beautiful gardens to the lovely flowers and the waterfall was perfect area. Since it’s the beginning of spring, the weather was very pleasant to us.

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Overview of the Park

The weather was so nice this past weekend here. We arrived around noon so it wasn’t much people there yet. First, we were in the garden area and just happened to be behind this really cool restaurant that had brick, and the hanging leaves with the back wooden doors and it reminded me of several pictures floating around Pinterest.  We could even hear the French music playing in the background.

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Ben and I are such goofballs, it was really easy for Kaycie to catch our quirkiness, lol. One thing I loved about taking pictures in the garden is Benjamin’s allergies were pretty much non-existent that day!

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I look back on the pictures and they are so funny to me! For example, in the picture above, Ben was telling me the whole time to look like I’m really into what he was saying while he makes grand gestures with his hands.

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So I haven’t worn heels in so long that I was nervous to wear them for fearing that I would look like an idiot, so when Kaycie told me to walk down the steps, I was like….”I’m scared!” Why Marisa, why! Apparently, I have a fear of falling or wobbling while wearing heels.

 

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Thanks for checking out some of my pics from our first photo shoot! Yep, I said first! Because the wedding is during the winter, we definitely want to take more pictures during the cooler months for our invitations! Stay tuned!

What I’ve Been Up To-Wedding Series

Hello March!! So nice to see you even though you came like a thief in the night. Welcome to the last month of the first quarter of 2017. As you know, I recently got engaged to the love of my life (I feel like everyone says that!) and I am completely stoked! My fiancé and I’ve have been spending every piece of free time planning and our wedding. Check out the first few things we wanted to establish first before we started the fun stuff.

1: Make a Budget/Wedding Planner

The most important part right? I’ve always dreamed of a high five figure wedding, but common sense hit me at a great time. Benjamin and I wanted to make sure that we pick a number that is doable to us and for our families in case they wanted to help. We also love a bargain and any specials that may come around! We also decided to choose a wedding planner, and thank God my sister in law was right there! Her name is Kaycie and her firm is called A’Rae of Events! She’s very detail oriented and she keeps things smooth. She’s one of the reasons why planning is fun.

2: Draft a Guest List

This gets tricky for us because we have big families and friends. When we first drafted a list, it was around 200. Then we started looking at names to see if these people are the type to celebrate with us. Then, it started dropping. I told Benjamin when we write names, to make sure that we want them there and that they would generally care. The thing is, we’re dishing a lot of money so we want to be sure. I also learned to not invite people who don’t have our best interest at heart, even if it comes down to family. If we haven’t talked with these people, they don’t get a free seat on our special day.

3: Decided location and wedding season/theme

Benjamin has horrible allergies. Say goodbye to Spring wedding! No matter where we would have been, pollen literally hurts him. I’m not about to have my husband sneezing in everyone’s face. We decided on a winter theme because we’d rather bundle up than melt in the snow, lol. We also picked the midpoint city for everyone to meet, which is in Columbia, SC.

4: Picked a Venue

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701 Whaley-Columbia, SC

This venue is beyond beautiful! When I first saw this place online, I was immediately attracted to how this place starts with a clean slate. There’s so much design potential with the rustic walls to the concrete floor. Benjamin and I along with our parents took a tour of the place and thought of the idea to have both ceremony and reception here. I will talk more detail in a separate post soon.

Stay tuned for the fun parts!

I’m engaged! My proposal story + Upcoming Wedding Series

God tells me all the time, “He’s different, Marisa.” He’s been telling me since I met this guy over two years ago. Since then, I’ve been the happiest gal on the planet. If you don’t know, his name is Benjamin. He’s this goofy guy that loves to tell crazy jokes, an awesome musician (he plays drums and keyboard), and he wears his heart on his sleeve. I can go on and on about this guy, but maybe I will save it for a Q+A later.

We’ve been talking about getting married for what it seems like ages. We always talk about colors, what season it will be in, what kind of flowers, you name it! A little over 4 months ago, we decided that we wanted to get married and told as few people as possible, for the time being. We started picking out colors, and picked a Winter Wonderland Wedding Theme (he has terrible allergies in the Spring & Summer). I was wearing my promise ring that he gave me on my birthday in 2015, but I was wondering when he was going to do the official proposal. So I was thinking, maybe he would do it on Christmas Eve, which is my birthday, or heck, even Christmas. Well, they passed, and still no proposal. Is he going to do it for New Year’s? Nope? It better not be Valentine’s Day! To me, that is so cliché. He wouldn’t tell me anything and he’s been conspiring with my sister-in-law about everything, the ring, where, when, etc. I was getting flustered, lol.

Fast forward to February 5, 2017, we went to church. We love the Lord, we praise the Lord and we try to live by His word. Our pastor’s sermon was all about going a little deeper, and getting out of your comfort zone. God can’t bless you if you are still in your own little box, you have to step out on faith. We take His word serious.

His mom and his brothers came to visit us in church and there were also some family friends there as well. After the service, everyone is talking and catching up and whatnot, and I go to sit down next to his mother and we have a conversation. Benjamin is talking to everyone and I notice there was somewhat a crowd where we were and he walks to me and I hug him and I whispered something to him about the sermon. I said, “you know honey I did not tell you something,” and of course I told him and we exchanged words. Then he goes, “you know funny you say, there is something that I haven’t told you eiher.” Of course, I chuckled and mentioned to him, “there’s a lot you haven’t told me, so start the telling!”

Why did I say THOSE words? All of a sudden he pulls out this cream colored box and he gets down on one knee with a very shiny sparkling ring in front of the entire church congregation! I could see his mother with her phone and other people with their phones out and I’m like shocked, and frozen. I was laughing and started crying and hollering “what are you doing!! In church!” Here he is, the love of my life, my Dark Knight, on one knee professing his love to me, telling me how much joy I brought into his life for the past two years and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Of course I said YES!  I’m crying hysterically by now and everyone is clapping, our pastor was so excited. Everyone was congratulating us, saying great things. I did not see that coming at all. First of all, it was super bowl Sunday AND my sister-in-law’s birthday.

We cannot wait to share our journey down the aisle with you guys and I will be starting a Wedding Series right here on my blog and on YouTube about the journey so stay tuned!

#BMW2017, #WinterWonderland #BenandRisWedding