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Best Day Ever

On August 5, 2017, I married my best friend. How lucky am I to be able to say that? It’s been about two months and I still get butterflies when I hear a song from our wedding or look through our pictures. It was truly a perfect day – and I’d like to share it with you!

The night before, we had our rehearsal dinner and Matt and I went our separate ways for the night. He went to his parents – I stayed home with my high school best friend and beautiful bridesmaid, Danielle. When we woke up on the day of, I still had to write my vows. Funny enough, I had had a nightmare about two months prior to this that I woke up on my wedding day and hadn’t written my vows yet. I promised myself I would have them (and everything else) done before then. BUT, I didn’t. However, I’m glad I waited, because writing them with the wedding day butterflies brought out my deepest feelings for my husband-to-be. My nerves started to hit me shortly after this.

The day started with getting ready (of course – we needed hours). I did my own hair and luckily finished early, because we immediately hit our first crisis of the day. Mom called me FREAKING out, because her hair dresser made her look like, and I quote, “An 80’s Prom Queen.” She made the hair dresser do her hair TWICE and she still hated it it. So, Mom needed bride to do her hair. I had emotionally prepared for things to go wrong, so we handled the hair, mom was happy, Danielle did my makeup, and we went to Noodles for a quick grab and go lunch.

Next was our arrival to the venue. I’ll tell you, that feeling is something else. Walking into your venue with your best girls, seeing the day starting to come together, cake arriving, bartenders getting ready… That’s when the nerves amped up a little bit. In that moment, it started to feel real. Like, WHAT? I’m getting married today!

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My wishbone pin was a family heirloom my mom let me use for my something old and blue, and my necklace was my something borrowed, also from my mom, brought from Italy. The pin belonged to my now guardian angel… Adding these touches brought me a sense of comfort that day – I knew she was watching over. And I give her all the credit for our absolutely perfect weather that day!

Once we were all in our dresses, it was time for pictures with my parents, sister/MOH, and beautiful bridesmaids!

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As soon as we were done, we had to rush back and hide in the bridal room so Matt didn’t catch a glimpse of me as they were arriving! I was SO anxious that Matt was going to come walking into the bridal room. But, then it was time for his pictures with his groomsmen and family…

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Right after this is when the nerves REALLY hit for the first time. I made the mistake of peeking out the doors and saw all our friends and family starting to arrive and instantly started panicking. Like, panic panic. My bridesmaids had to coach my breathing. I was about to really do this. I think I said this to myself 500 times that day. “THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.”

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That half-hour was hands-down the longest of my life.

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And then, it was finally time. *Cue piano version of Thousand Years and my stomach dropping to my feet*

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My good friend from undergrad, Joel, agreed to officiate our ceremony. This meant the world to us!

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Maid of Honor and my sister, Taryn, with Best Man and brother of the groom, Mike, walking our Chase.

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Groomsmen Mike with Bridesmaid Danielle…

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Groomsmen Nick with Bridesmaid Lindsey…

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Groomsmen Jake with Bridesmaid Raquel…

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My cousin Talon, our Ring Bearer…

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Our lovely flower girl, my cousin Mazy…

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Peep my sister sobbing on the Left.

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We opted for a short, nontraditional ceremony, with Joel speaking some words of his own, followed by my sister doing a ceremony reading.

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“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.” – The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

We each wrote our own vows, which we almost decided not to do in the stress of finalizing everything for the big day. Looking back, I’m so glad we did.

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“People often say that home is not a place, it’s a person. And I’ve found my home in you.”

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The big ring exchange…

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“It is my great honor and privilege to be the first to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Muntner!”

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*Cue Come to Me by Goo Goo Dolls* The songs are necessary for context, guys. Gotta get the whole effect!

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Almost party time, but first: more pictures, of course!

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And just like that, two families became one!

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Our reception was perfect. My sister and Danielle gave incredible, heartfelt speeches. Mike, the best man, had everyone near peeing themselves with his speech. The food was great, and the open bar had everyone feelin’ pretty good! I’ll keep the reception pics short, you all know how these things go!

And there you have it! The best day ever. And also, probably the longest blog post you’ll ever see from me, even though it’s mostly pictures. I’ll cherish every moment of this day for the rest of my life, but for now, I’ll keep reveling in the newlywed bliss 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

– Tiana

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Sweater Weather

Since I piece together a lot of my looks from stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, my cute finds are not always linkable. BUT, I’ve searched the web for similar finds so you can piece this look together without breaking the bank! Scroll down 🙂

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You can snatch the same pair of booties I’m wearing from H&M for only $35! They’re super comfy and the rubber heel makes them easy to walk in all around campus.

Watch is Kate Spade’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere watch and Carsons has this color, plus navy and black. I scored this off the Dillard’s clearance rack in Tampa, FL for only $70, so keep your eyes out while strolling through the mall!

Black knee-ripped jeans – Forever 21 for only $30

You can also score a similar lace-up sweater from Forever 21 (mine was found at my local TJ Maxx).

My Nicole Miller bag was another clearance find at my local TJ Maxx, but I’ve linked a similar Calvin Klein crossbody that is on MAJOR sale right now at Macy’s!

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

XOXO

– LawandLooks

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Our Honeymoon – Clearwater Beach, FL

As many of you know, Matt and I tied the knot on August 5th, which was hands-down the single most magical day of my life.

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See, there’s the magic. (More pics will be posted on the next blog post – stay tuned!)

Anyways, Matt and I decided from the early days of our engagement that we were going to budget extremely tight for this wedding – but still make our dreams happen. Did you know the national average cost of a wedding (as of 2016) is over $35,000??? Yeah, not happening. We didn’t want any of the money we received from the wedding going towards massive credit card bills or ridiculous wedding loans. We also didn’t want the typical house decor or kitchen appliances, since we’ve lived together for quite some time and have all that stuff already. Instead, we started a Honeyfund page, and raised money for our dream honeymoon – and guess what – we actually pulled it off! I’m sharing this post as a kind of half-personal-post and half-guide to honeymooning or vacationing in Clearwater Beach. Let’s start with the Honeyfund

Honeyfund.com is Wedding registry app/website that allows you to create your own personal honeymoon profile, listing all the activities you both want to do while on your honeymoon. For example, we created our profile for Clearwater Beach, Florida (our favorite vacation spot), and then we selected every aspect of the trip our family and friends could donate to – such as our hotel, airfare, drinks, food, jet skiis, a dinner cruise, shopping, etc.

The page is linked directly to your Paypal or bank account, so when a guest donates to your page, you get the money right away. This also makes it more fun for your guests, because instead of stuffing money into an envelope, they get to choose to help with specific aspects of your trip. The site also allows your guests to leave a personal note with their donation. Honeyfund does take a very small portion of each donation for payment of using the site, but it doesn’t make a dent in your gifts.

I highly recommend saying “screw that” to our new ridiculous national $35,000 average wedding, and taking a paid-for trip you’ve always dreamed of with your new hubby – guilt-free. The relaxation post-wedding chaos was a NECESSITY. Honeyfund made that possible for us. Of course, many people gave us money and checks in cards at the wedding, but we didn’t have a wedding registry loaded with gifts. When people saw that we registered on Honeyfund and only wanted donations to our honeymoon, everyone pretty much followed along.

Now for the fun stuff – CLEARWATER BEACH!

We stayed the entire week at the newly-built Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. This Resort exceeded both of our expectations – you didn’t even have to leave the place, it was paradise in itself. It’s located right on the Gulf Coast, right next to the famous and popular Pier 60, with about 75% of the rooms having a breathtaking Gulf-view balcony (which means Gulf sunset views!).

The rooms were modern, spotless and gorgeous. They made me want to redesign our own bedroom at home. The 24/7 room service was not outrageously expensive, and the breakfast-in-bed was oh-so convenient when we slept in way too late. Their amazing “lobby bar”, Eskpades, serves Maui Mules in a copper (painted) pineapple mug (totally isntagram-worthy!), and their in-hotel restaurant, Ocean Hai, has the best vegetarian gluten-free sushi I’ve ever had (order the Roll with the Beet!). Matt loved his sushi and ribs, too!

The pool has a hot-tub, comfortable mattress lounge cabanas for two or more, and pool-side food and bar service brought right to your chair. Also, they’re one of the only hotels on the beach that actually have the fancy mattress beach cabanas. They will run you about $80 for a day – so if you’re gonna do it, make a day of it and get on the beach early!

The gym (which I sadly only glanced at) overlooks the pool and Gulf, and the hotel spa is spotless and five-stars, hands-down. We did a couple’s swedish massage package, where we had a private couple’s room, complete with a jacuzzi and champagne. Two steamrooms, luxury rain showers, complete privacy, and an actually relaxing relaxation room proved this place to be top-of-the-line. It was a little pricy, but totally worth it after a year and a half of stressful wedding planning, with the stress from the actual wedding day topping it off.

Aside from the resort, there was TOO much we wanted to do, but we managed to do it all. We’re basically professional Clearwater Beach tourists at this point, so we already narrowed it down to the TOP best things to do while visiting. Instead of going into detail for the rest, I’ll share our carefully-crafted honeymoon dining, drinking and activities to-do list with you all here:

1. Sunsets at Pier 60 

A nightly festival on the Pier. This is a tourist MUST. The Pier is filled with artists of all kinds, setting up a nightly craft show just in time for the breathtaking sunset. AND – I’ve seen dolphins swimming next to the Pier at sunset every time I’ve gone! Pro-tip – don’t forget to bring a couple bucks to get to the “fishing” side of the pier – aka the best view of the sunset (and dolphins!).

2. The Sea Screamer 

Speaking of Dolphins – this is my absolute favorite thing to do in Clearwater. It’s only about $25 a person, and you get taken out onto the Gulf looking for dolphins. When they’re spotted, the boat crew speeds the boat up, creating a wake, to see if the dolphins are up for some fun. Both times I’ve gone, the dolphins have body surfed with our boat – it’s unbelievable. Here’s my crappy snapchat I took while I was freaking out in awe!

 

3. Honeymoon Island 

Honeymoon Island is the perfect place to go if you like shelling. Matt and I woke up early one morning and drove a little north of CWB to get first dibs on the morning shells that washed up overnight. Honeymoon Island is actually a Florida State Park, full of wildlife and even rattlesnakes. It’s beautiful and quiet. Not tourist-filled, but you can swim and set up camp on the beach for the day.

4. Yacht StarShip Dinner Cruise

Matt and I were extremely pleased with our choice of dinner cruise this year at StarShip! Eating on vacation can be extremely difficult when you’re a gluten-free vegetarian. This cruise line has a gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly buffet, with salad, seasonal vegetables, and a delicious gluten-free citrus rice pilaf choice of entree. The drinks are enormous and worth their money, because you get to take the giant glass home as a souvenir. They go the whole nine yards, with dinner, drinks, dancing, and pictures printed on-site. Tickets are $50 a person, dinner is included, drinks and photos are separate. We both thought it was well worth the money for our “fancy” dinner night!

5. Crabby’s Dockside

This place is newly remodeled – and its views are amazing – but we primarily came back this year because this is where we went immediately after Matt proposed on the beach at sunset. The third-story open-air rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf is the best part – throw in the rum and margarita buckets and you’ve got a good night ahead!

6. Jimmy’s Crows Nest 

Speaking of sunsets, Gulf views and dranks, you cannot take a trip to Clearwater Beach and skip Jimmy’s Crows Nest at Sunset. Jimmy’s is a rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf, and they do a countdown to sunset with free sunset punch shots for anyone who’s there to witness it!

7. Spotted Donkey Cantina

Celiacs always take a risk when they eat at ANY restaurant – but I tend to be more risky eating at Mexican restaurants, because you can’t keep me away from tacos. This cantina restaurant is actually newish to CWB and it’s located on the little downtown strip. They are vegetarian-friendly as well. I ordered corn tacos with fajita veggies, avo, cheese, black beans, pico de Gallo, and more, and they were super accommodating, even though a build-your-own taco was definitely NOT on the menu. We both enjoyed our food so much that we went back for a second time during our one week stay! When I asked Matt what his favorite “place” was in CWB – this was his first response.

8. Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill and Bar

If you’re looking for a place to DRINK drink, but don’t want to end up at the CWB version of Molly’s (DeKalb people know), Palm Pavilion is perfect. It’s right on the beach; their drinks don’t break the bank; and they have music blasting all night. It’s an all-around great atmosphere, and let’s just say we didn’t even mind the loooong walk back to our hotel.

Clearwater Beach will probably always be our favorite vacation spot. From our engagement to our honeymoon, we’ve built such great memories there, and hopefully this guide helps anyone else planning a trip there!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next blog post full of wedding day details and pictures!