MEP to MEC: Our Welcome to Town Dinner

Happy Wednesday, friends! This Wednesday seemed as good as any to have a Wedding Wednesday post. Over the next months, I’ll be sharing more details from our big day, so I thought that I would start with the event the kicked off the weekend’s activities!

Because so much of our guest list were out-of-towners, we started having guests arrive on Thursday before our wedding. I had been feeling guilty for months about bringing so many people to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and not serving them true Maryland seafood (We actually had seafood as an option for our rehearsal dinner, but due to the size of the venue, we kept our group to a minimum). It wasn’t until my uncle asked what seafood I’d be serving that I had the idea to have a dinner for all of our guests that arrived a few days ahead of time. I wanted to keep the event very casual and laid-back, so I chose my favorite crab shack to invite our guests to join us! Harris Crab House has been a staple in my family for years and I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to kickoff our weekend. The restaurant is location right on the Narrows, near Stevensville, and has breath-taking views of the water that surrounds this part of the world. It is right off the highway exit, making this a place our guests could literally jump off before continuing on to the hotel.

Ironically, a few others decided this was the perfect location for their gathering as well. We arrived right behind two parties of 18 people each, so when we asked for seating for another 19 people, I’m fairly certain the poor hostess panicked. Luckily enough, our guests had gathered down by the dock bar, and Harris’ didn’t seem to mind when we asked if we could sit out there.

Jody and I greeted everyone down by the dock (adorned with Bride and Groom buttons :)), and did our best to do introductions, while hugging each person that arrived next. It was completely overwhelming, in the most wonderful way, to reach the realization that all of these wonderful people were here, ordering the best seafood, in anticipation of our wedding, in just two short days.

19366420_1477007132320445_9004454293688194203_n (1)19366218_1477005905653901_5899726777391352869_n

 

We laughed, drank, ate, caught up with family and friends until after the sun sunk into the bay. All throughout dinner though, I kept taking a peek at my soon-to-be husband. I couldn’t wrap my head around how on earth I am lucky enough to marry my best friend that I met on the tennis courts four years prior. Even though the stress had caught up to me that day, all of the worries I had disappeared because now, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, or my light at the end of the aisle. In two days, the wedding would be over, but our lives would be just beginning.

After the crab cakes, soft crabs, salmon, hushpuppies, and cornbread were all had, we said goodbye for the night as I headed home to finish up some last-minute details on the decor that we would be delivering to the venues the next morning. I knew sleep in the next 48 hours would be scarce, but our wedding weekend was finally underway. I could not wait.

Wedding Gift Etiquette for Guests

As wedding season is in full swing, purchasing wedding gifts may be at the forefront of your mind. Being on both sides of the gift-giving and receiving this year, I thought I would share a thing or two I’ve learned about gift etiquette that I’d like to share with you today!

Zola Card 1 The Registry

As I have shared in previous posts, registering for gifts as a couple during your engagement is such an exciting time! For someone who tends to lean on the more practical side of things, it was a bit challenging for me to realize what we could have to build our home, versus only registering for the things that we needed. However, it was so wonderful to stroll the aisle (and virtual aisles online!) picking out items that we could imagine in our home. Most brides and grooms spend quality time picking out items to put on their registry, so if you are looking for a gift that you want the bride and groom to love, stick to the registry. However, I don’t think that means you can’t buy something off of the registry for the newlywed couple. We received an engraved pizza cutter as a gift, and it was one of the cleverest gifts that we received! If you do choose to not purchase an item off of the registry, be sure that you get a gift receipt.

As a bride, the biggest tip I would give those who either don’t have a lot of wedding experience or someone wanting to get the happy couple something that they’d like, don’t ask the bride or groom want they want. The couple took the time to make the registry for a reason, where they handpicked items they’d like, so they would be pleased with anything from those lists. In addition, often the bride and groom are so distracted by planning their wedding, they can’t remember what they even registered for in the first place. Don’t be that guest that bothers the soon-to-be newlyweds only a few weeks (or days– it happens!) before their wedding.

Zola Card 2 How Much To GiveWith the amount of weddings Jody and I have attended in the past year, while planning our own, I know firsthand how it can financially add up over the course of a few months. I do my best to plan ahead – either I purchase both the bridal shower and wedding gift at the same time, or I make sure I note at the beginning of each month in my planner what gifts need to be purchased for that month. Even during the months where the money is tight, I do the best I can to at least cover my plate. If finances are tight (or it’s a very busy wedding season), I think it also a wonderful idea to go the meaningful route. That could be a handwritten letter with marriage advice, a sweet Mr. and Mrs. Picture frame, or a bottle of bubbly for the couple to share on their first anniversary!

Zola Card 3 - When To GiveIn the past, it would still be considered “on time” if guests bought a gift for the happy couple within a year of the wedding. However, especially with how attainable and convenient wedding gift shopping is now with online registries, I suggest purchasing the gift within three months of the wedding. Chances are, if you wait longer than three months, you may forget about it and the bride and groom may think you didn’t think of them during their special time. While it is not required to purchase a gift, it is customary to get one for each event you attend.

While I personally didn’t use Zola for our registry, I can definitely see why so many people choose to! Not only can you add any staple branded products, but you can also include experiences, monetary funds and more in one central location. This prevents having to register at several different locations, and remember what you registered for where – I know that was a problem I had! It even makes the process super simple for guests too. There is a group gifting option, where your guests can donate the amount that they are so graciously willing to contribute to a high-priced item that you may not normally receive. Additionally, it is all online and will ship right to the bride and groom, which means not having to lug around a wedding gift to the actual event. That is such an incentive for those out-of-town guests!

I hope a few of these tips help in the midst of this wedding season! We only have two more weddings this season, but I’m sure these tips will serve as great reminders as we head to our next wedding as guests, rather than the guests of honor. I’d love to know; do you have any other tips when it comes to purchasing gifts for a wedding? Tell me in the comments below!

Our Honeymoon in Jamaica

If you remember my post back in February, you may recall that deciding on a place to go for our honeymoon was a bit of a challenge. But y’all, we just loved Jamaica and could not imagine celebrating our first few days of newlywed bliss anywhere else! The location of our resort was far from most of the touristy sites, which made it feel even more secluded. After such a whirlwind couple of weeks leading up to the wedding, it was the perfect place to relax and unwind. It was the perfect decision for us, and I’d love to share a few of our favorite experiences!

IMG_5982

Prior to arriving, I was concerned that I would get tired of sitting all week, especially since I was constantly on the go on my previous vacations. To my delight, I loved hanging out in the pool and heading out to the beach each day! It took us until our third day in paradise to fully feel energized again, so floating in the pool with my new hubby was just magical.  We also lucked out by having our room adjacent to the pool with the swim-up bar. Jody and I found it so convenient to be able to walk out onto our patio and into the pool. As our room didn’t have a mini-bar, it was just as nice to be able to go just as far to get a refreshing tropical drink. 🙂

DSC_1245

We ate so well while in Jamaica. Apparently, there is a stigma with all-inclusive resorts with the food not being all that great, but boy, did we luck out. We had thought it was delicious our first night there (albeit, we were exhausted), but after talking to several other couples who have visited other Sandals resorts, South Coast has the best food, at least out of all of their other resorts in Jamaica. We made sure we ate at all of them at least once, and then saved room towards the end of the trip to frequent some once more. Most of the restaurants reflected the resort’s European theme. There was Mediterranean, French, a patisserie (yum!), Caribbean, Italian, Sushi and Asian. While we never had a bad experience, our favorite dining experience was breakfast. Jody and I barely saw each other in the week leading up to the wedding, so to start our mornings off with coffee, small talk and omelets, these moments became one of my favorite memories from our entire honeymoon experience.

We were so spoiled as honeymooners as well! On our first night, we received a bottle of champagne in our room during the turn down service. Later in the week, we received a do not disturb honeymoon sign for our door, a congratulatory note, and breakfast in bed. The staff would often ask how our honeymoon was going and give us their best wishes — it was so fun to be pampered all week! We also enjoyed a couples massage, which was singlehandedly the best 60 minutes of my life (after our wedding ceremony, of course!). We giggled that as it was designed to rejuvenate our love, it was only the beginning for us. Nonetheless, a little pampering can make you feel like true royalty.

IMG_5994

We went on two excursions — one of which was a wedding gift, and the other came with our package when we booked our trip. And y’all, we had more fun than I ever imagined. Our first excursion was the Black River Safari tour and trip to YS Falls. We didn’t know much about it, other than it was the closest excursion to our resort, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. But after cruising on the Black river, spotting crocodiles and Jamaican wildlife, and then jumping OFF OF A WATERFALL CLIFF, we were blown away by how much fun we had! We lucked out with an amazing driver and tour guide, who gave us a glimpse into Jamaican culture and we had such a blast facing our my fears, especially when it came to the falls. I honestly thought that all we were doing was taking pictures of it and playing in its natural pools, but am so glad that we had the opportunity to climb up the falls, and then jump off of the cliffs with my new hubs. It was such an adrenaline rush!

Our other excursion was a sunset catamaran cruise that left from our resort, and sailed along the coast until sunset. We dropped the anchor shortly into the cruise, which gave us an opportunity to (again) jump off of the side of the ship into the Caribbean waters below. Even though that excursion was towards the end of our week, it was still the first time we had been in the ocean since we had been there. We enjoyed drinks and snacks, once back on board, and we sailing into the sunset, when we experienced another surprise — a torrential downpour! Our captain did a great job keeping everyone’s spirits up while we were all damp, and for surprise #3, the sun came back out as we were sailing back up to the resort. We loved that the staff were such happy people. They love to laugh and everything was “no problem, mon”, which was such a great environment to be in. It is hard to complain when you are surrounded by so many blessings!

JXVV8976

In the evenings, we typically would wind down after dinner by attending the entertainment on the resort that was provided to us. We attended a Newlyweds Game Show, Jamaican night, White night, and live music out on the terrace. My favorite moment was when one of the musicians started playing “Wagon Wheel” and Jody and I join other couples and danced. It was so surreal to be dancing with my husband to a song we played all of the time in college, danced to a number of times in the kitchen and dancing to surrounded by our family and friends just days before. It was one of the moment when it hit me that I have the rest of my life with my best friend.

DSC_1326DSC_1332DSC_1198DSC_1269IMG_6073IMG_5997

After seven blissfully wonderful days in Jamaican paradise, we couldn’t believe that our honeymoon had already come to an end. We weren’t ready to leave, but anxious to begin married life back home. We were excited to visit with our families, open wedding gifts and settle into our new apartment together, but we wouldn’t be lying if we said that we were sad to leave Jamaica. Although, after being greeted to a welcome home goodie bag in our car at the airport, champagne at our apartment, and of course, Jody carrying me  “over the threshold” and up the stairs when we arrived home, I began to realize that our time in paradise wasn’t over, it was only just beginning. And from what I can tell so far, it’s going to be pretty great.

My Bachelorette Party

 

Three weeks before the big day, I piled in the car with my sister, Madison, and my friend, Jackie and headed towards Wintergreen Resort, tucked away in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains for my bachelorette party. I didn’t know the plans of the weekend until I arrived, but I was so excited to spend the weekend with some of my closest friends. I was the perfect escape in the midst of wedding craziness!

Since I knew all of my wedding party would have to take off work to come to town for the wedding, it was important to me to not have them have to do the same a few before. A lot of my friends were in other weddings this year, I knew how hard that can be, especially when working. With that being said, the Friday night of the weekend was rather low-key, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My (at this point) soon to be father-in-law so graciously let us stay with him on Friday to break up the drive. We arrived in Richmond around 8pm, which allowed us some time to head downtown and take a trip to one of my favorite bars, 3 Monkeys. Unbeknownst to my friends, I had been seriously homesick from RIchmond the past few weeks, so being able to walk around and see so many familiar sites was more therapeutic than anything else. Needless to say, a few drinks in RVA made me even more excited for the festivities that were to come.

On Saturday, we had an early wake-up call in order to make the most out of the day. After breakfast at my favorite brunch location in Richmond, (friends, if you are ever in Richmond and you need a place to brunch this is it!) and some coffee for the road, we headed towards Charlottesville. As we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was so distracted by the breath-taking views, I didn’t even realized that we had arrived! I was then met by three of my other bridesmaids, Olivia, Amber and Logan, and the cutest decorations in the house we were staying at. I especially loved the napkins, but that’s just me loving any paper product. Shortly after a quick toast, we piled in the cars and headed down the mountain to the plethora of wineries that are in Nelson County.


Our first stop was at Flying Fox Vineyard. It was tucked off of the main road, and was a small little tasting room, but I highly suggest stopping at this winery, if you are ever in the area! They have eight staple wines, but they are all very different from one another, which makes a tasting even more interesting. While we might have blown through the tasting a little fast (oops), I thoroughly enjoyed using this time to catch up with some of my best friends!

Our second stop was at Veritas Vineyard & Winery, and y’all, this place is breathtakingly beautiful. Click on the link to see what I mean — I wish I had thought to bring my Nikon with me!
We decided to grab a bite to eat on The Terrace, since it was a little after lunch time, and to forgo the tasting. Instead, we each got a glass and found a table on the porch to allow us to eat, sip, and chat. I tried to freeze that moment in time — wine, some of my closest friends, and beautiful scenery– it was the perfect snapshot! I had a glass of the rose, which was delicious, but I will definitely have to make a trip back to try the others!

We tried to make it to Pippin Hill Vineyards, but they were closed for a private event. Since most wineries close at 5pm, we only had time for one more. Our final winery of the day was at Cardinal Point Winery. We participated in a tasting and Olivia and I enjoyed a glass of wine outside, while the band was finishing up for the afternoon. The highlight of this winery (in addition to the wine) was that there was a dog in the tasting room!
I had so much fun wine tasting, but I was super excited to go to Devil’s Backbone for dinner. Jody and I had visited this brewery a few years ago but I couldn’t wait to go back. The weather was on the warm side, so we were thankful when a table opened up inside. After a delicious dinner, we headed back outside to finish our drinks and play a few rounds of cornhole before we made our way back up the mountain. Saturday night included games back at the house where we were staying. After one too many cupcakes and laughing our way to a six-pack, we headed off to dreamland before we all headed home the next day.

Before heading out on Sunday, my gals prepared me the cutest breakfast, and then we sat out on the deck and sipped on our coffee. We talked about what I was looking forward to about our wedding, and I shared some details that I hadn’t told the girls yet. It was at this point that it started to sink it that we were getting so close to our wedding. The conclusion of this weekend was the last big celebration before wedding weekend, and I couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to kickoff the biggest month of my life.

July Goals

Now that we are back from our honeymoon and are beginning to settle into newlywed life, I’m excited to see how Jody and I decide to tackle all of this newly discovered free time that we have! We’ve began to brainstorm what we’d like to accomplish this summer, and now that I have more free mental space than I did in the past 12 month combined, I hope we are in for a very productive month. Here’s a peek at what I checked off my goals last month, and what I’m hoping to work on this month!

June Goals

  • Continue with marriage devotionals We hope to continue this throughout our marriage!
  • Finish planning my wedding!
  • Make myself find time to exercise, even if it is just going on a walk or ab work on my floor
  • Finish moving our belongings into our newlywed apartment and have it set up so Jody can move in It was livable… now to get it decorated!
  • Celebrate my 24th birthday!
  • Welcome our guests to town and get married!!!

July Goals

  • Get back into a workout routine, choosing to be active at least twice a week
  • Officially change my name
  • Research places to get my wedding dress cleaned (Shore friends, I am open to suggestions for this!)
  • Begin tackling my porch project
  • Go on a day trip to somewhere new
  • Celebrate one month of marriage!

We’re Married!!

Hi Friends! After a whirlwind last ten days, I am happy to be back as a married gal! Jody and I are SO grateful for all of the love, support and best wishes that we have received over the past two weeks. June 24th was truly the best day of our lives as we’ve repeated “how did that happen so fast” and “we are so lucky” close to a million times.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset
I love this shot captured by our friend, Ben during our reception.

Our wedding day was incredible, and every. single. thing. was perfect. Our vendors were amazing and we had the greatest time celebrating with all of our guests throughout the weekend. While we will have to wait to share our wedding for a bit longer, I have a few other fun wedding related posts (including our honeymoon!) to share as well. I have also been brainstorming some other post ideas, now that the wedding is over, so let me know if there is anything you’d like to hear more about!

Thank y’all so much for the love and support. Happy to be back as Morgan Cox! xo

MEP to MEC: Ten Days to Go!

When I was at the store earlier this week, a few fellow shoppers asked who was getting married, based on the items in my cart. After I said that I was, they asked when the big day is and I tried my best to keep my cool when I said “Next weekend”,  because in actuality, I was somewhere in between “Oh. My. God.” and “Fiiiinnnnallly”! But later that night, I was carrying boxes into our new apartment with Jody, which is now furnished (yay!), I remembered that in just a few short days, my best friend for the past four years will become my husband and we will embark on a lifetime of adventures. As much as I have loved planning our wedding, it has been easy to lose focus on the days the will come after our magical day, especially in these last few days. My hope that the next nine days are full of laughter, joy and excitement for our beginning of forever.

18893208_1310754525645027_8151854125597994261_n

Completed In the Past Two and Half Weeks:

  • Finalized all music
  • Got our marriage license
  • Celebrated at my Bachelorette Party
  • Crafted wedding day details
  • Finalized menu with caterer
  • Find table runners
  • Purchased wedding gifts for bridal party, parents, and each other
  • Completed our final pre-marital counseling session
  • Attended second dress fitting
  • Ordered day-of accessories
  • Collected family pictures
  • Sent Rehearsal Dinner invitations

On the List for the Next Ten Days:

  • Make wedding favors
  • Write Thank You’s for wedding gifts we’ve already received
  • Finish all decor signage
  • Wrap gifts
  • Finalize and practice vows
  • Confirm our weekend timeline and send it to all relevant parties
  • Finalize and pack all attire and details
  • Assemble our seating chart
  • Write letters to each other
  • Print ceremony programs
  • Pack for honeymoon!
  • Go to our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner!!
  • Get married!!!

MEP to MEC: One Month to Go

My heart is pounding as I type the title of today’s post –One Month to Go. My emotions have been so intense today, from nervousness about how many things that still have to be completed to straight giddiness to where I cannot sit still. I get all teary eyed whenever I imagine the moment when I put my dress on, when I see Jody for the first time, when we share our first dance or our last before we leave the reception for the rest of our lives.  I imagine these emotions will only continue to intensify over the next 31 sweetest days. I pray that the last month of our engagement is productive, joyful, and intentional as we prepare our hearts for marriage.

7767d3cd44e2c2528c58296533b1065e.jpgCompleted in May

  • Pick the rehearsal dinner menu
  • Order linens
  • Talk through ceremony with our officiant
  • Finalize order with florist
  • Finalize bar details
  • Order Cake topper
  • Make a playlist for cocktail hour
  • Exercise like crazy for dress fittings
  • Order rehearsal dinner invitations
  • Picked hair and makeup style and had my trial run
  • Picked ceremony readings
  • Picked (most!) of our reception music

On the List to Complete in the Next Two Weeks

  • Finalize ceremony music
  • Celebrate at my Bachlorette party
  • Begin crafting wedding day details
  • Finalize menu with caterer
  • Find table runners
  • Order the few table rentals
  • Purchase wedding gifts for bridal party, parents, and each other
  • Complete our final pre-marital counseling session
  • Compete more Tone It Up workouts
  • Attend second dress fitting
  • Order day-of accessories
  • Send Rehearsal Dinner invitations

 

MEP to MEC: Two Months to Go

IMG_5845.JPG

Two Months. 61 days. That is all we have left until we are finally Mr. and Mrs! Admittedly, it was hard to feel excited all of the time, especially when the big day seemed so far away. However, having our wedding invitations spread out all over the dining room table and piles of boxes in the front room with “Wedding” stuff on the right and “House” stuff on the left is starting to make this whole process even more real. Not to mention Jody picked up our wedding bands this past weekend as well! Y’all, we are getting married!!

While it is easy to become distracted by the billions of things that still haven’t been checked off of the to-do list, I am trying my best to savour every moment we have left of our engagement. Decisions are being made every day, which has made my brain run on wedding mode constantly. It has been so much fun to plan one of the biggest days of my life, but my favorite memories along the way have been when Jody gets excited when we hear a song that we are planning to play at the reception, or when I picture my groom at the end of the aisle — imagining these sweet moments take my breath away every time! But in two months, we won’t be imagining these moment any longer. 🙂

Completed in April

  • Officially book hair and makeup
  • Scheduled hair and makeup trial
  • Began gather bridal style inspiration
  • Printed invitations
  • Mailed our invitations (!!!!)
  • Celebrate with family and friends at my Bridal Shower 
  • Pick out our ceremony readings We have a list of options but just need to pick our favorite 
  • Scheduled my first dress fitting
  • Began searching for day of shoes and jewelry
  • Decide on table centerpieces for the reception

Need to Complete in May

  • Finalize ceremony music
  • Pick the rehearsal dinner menu
  • Buy reception decor pieces
  • Purchase gifts for our wedding party, parents, and each other
  • Begin crafting wedding day details
  • Order linens
  • Talk through ceremony with our officiant
  • Finalize order with florist
  • Finalize bar and catering details
  • Order Cake topper
  • Make a playlist for cocktail hour
  • Complete packet for our DJ
  • Exercise like crazy for dress fittings
  • Order rehearsal dinner invitations

 

My Pre-Wedding Workout Inspiration

Over the past two years, I’ve started to keep track of my monthly goals that I’ve learned to set for myself. I’ve been setting New Years Resolutions for years, but before I started writing them down, it became easy to forget what my goals for the year even were. My weekly planning includes a goal setting section at the beginning of each month, which has been a fabulous place to keep me focused on what I’d like to accomplish each month. If you have been following with my monthly goals, you have learned a little bit more about what I’m currently working towards, one of which being the process of developing a healthy lifestyle.

I want to preface this by saying I am in no way an expert when it comes to eating healthy and workout out religiously. However, I started to make some changes in my diet and workout routine in the past year, and I love how much better I feel! Without getting too personal, I am still working towards my overall goal of learning to balance a healthy lifestyle so I thought I would share a couple of things I’ve learned with y’all.

  1. Develop a Routine: I am all about a routine, but sometimes I need to switch it up. When I first attempted to start working out (relatively) consistently, I had to find a way to get myself excited about getting a workout it. I tried a couple of barre classes in Richmond, which I loved, but the closest studio to me now is 45 minutes away, which is just too far to go after work. I started biking, and once I started to notice how much better I felt when I got a workout in, it become easier to motivate myself to go to the gym. I even schedule workouts in my planner, which holds me accountable to go on the days that I would rather go home.
  2. Only Eat When Hungry: It has taken me a long time to wrap my head around this one, especially as one who schedules so much of their life. But I’ve also noticed how much better I feel when I don’t force myself to eat if I’m not hungry. My go to is just a quick smoothie after a workout — just hits the spot!
  3. Find Your Motivation: Luckily, right now, my motivation comes easy since we are getting close to our wedding date! However, when the date still seemed like a year away, it was sometimes hard to find the motivation I needed to push myself through a workout. I began to use my time while doing cardio to watch wedding videos (it becomes an even harder workout when you’re trying not to bawl on the elliptical!) and videos of our resort in Jamaica. I also have a playlist of songs that we plan to use at some point during our wedding day, so I usually listen to those when I am making my way through the weights. Not only does it keep me motivated through the workout, but energizes me with all that is to come.

That’s it! These small changes have helped me feel so much better, I’ve had a lot more success working towards my goals.What tips or tricks have you tried? I’d love to hear more ideas of how to balance a healthy lifestyle, especially when I don’t have a wedding to motivate me anymore!