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Calm, cool, and collected

28 May

So much for being the calm, cool, and collected bride-to-be… 

I had a slight anxiety attack yesterday morning after I thought about everything I needed to do in the next five months for the wedding.  I started making a checklist for the wedding and I sent it to my family to look over and ensure that nothing was left off.  Two people who know a few things about weddings are my oldest sister and my mother, who both just planned my sister’s wedding two years ago.  They politely informed me that I needed to add a few things to the “to do” list and – poof!  – the list quadrupled in size within a few minutes! 

Although it’s in my nature to easily get overwhelmed, I don’t like the feeling of it, emotionally and physically.  Dealing with the symptoms of stress is just plain awful – the constant nagging feeling of worry, the tightness of the chest, the short breathes. I don’t like stressing out, period.  But sometimes I get caught up in the chaos and I have to bring myself back in check to normalcy.  So, I picked up the book that I’m currently reading, Benjamin Hoff’s The Te of Piglet, in hopes that it would tame the insanity make me feel better.  Lo and behold, the first page that I read stated this:

To the Taoist, unhappiness is the result of being guided by illusions…Problems, be they economical, ecological, or whatever, are caused by a failure to see What’s There.  Unpleasant feelings come from illusions: fear from What Might Be (which hasn’t happened yet), sadness from What Might Have Been (which is not necessarily what would have been), and so on. [People] living in fear of What’s Coming Next, What Can Go Wrong, What If I Do Something Foolish, and such, cannot enjoy and make the most of the present moment.

This paragraph jumped out at me because it described exactly what I was feeling – I was anxious and not happy because I was focusing too much on the What Might Be and not the present.  Another quote that follows the same theme as Hoff’s, comes from the book I just finished reading, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann:

There is still a point where the present, the now, winds around itself, and nothing is tangled. The river is not where it begins or ends, but right in the middle point, anchored by what has happened and what is to arrive.

I do understand that the whole point of planning a wedding is to prepare for a future event, but at the same time why not enjoy the present moment?  Remaining focused on the here and now and the entire point of why I’m planning this occasion (mine and Kevin’s commitment to one another) is key to staying calm, cool, and collected.

Don’t worry about a thing!

24 May

I was telling Kevin the other day that I wanted to start writing again because it has been awhile, but when I logged into my account I was shocked to see that my last entry was two months ago.  I know it has been a busy two months, but I really dropped the ball on this one!

In a nutshell, within the past month, half of the wedding party has moved out of state.  When Kevin and I haven’t been attending going-away parties, we’ve been celebrating birthdays and visiting with out-of-town guests.  Somehow in the midst of it all, we’ve secured an amazing wedding band and an incredibly talented wedding photographer.  Not to mention, the bridesmaids have their dress picked out and are ready to be fitted.

There are definitely more items to check off the wedding to-do list, but everything is really coming together nicely.  My co-worker recently told me that I seem so calm considering I’m in the middle of planning a big wedding.  I think many factors attribute to my collectedness, with the main ingredient being the support system made up of mine and Kevin’s family and friends.  Without them, I would have lost my mind by now. 

Juggling between planning a wedding and keeping my job in line, while also trying to enjoy free time, has been slightly difficult lately.  Even though I sometimes feel like my head is being shaken around like a Boggle board game, once I just deeply breathe all the stress and negativity out of my body, everything comes into perspective.  I was recently told by a wise man that life is all about your reaction to the situation and your perception will determine the final outcome.  I keep trying to tell myself to remain positive and I remind myself of the late Bob Marley’s words, every little thing gonna be all right! 

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

28 Mar

As the Carpenters once sang, breaking up is hard to do. Especially with people you barely know. With seeing close to 10 venues for the wedding and finally landing on “the one” I needed to slowly break the news to the others. I’ve never broken up with someone through e-mail until now. The “it’s not you, it’s me” line doesn’t really work as well when you can’t give a good re-assuring tap of “it’s all going to work out for the best” on the side of their arm. At least with e-mail you can be non-confrontational, whereas the phone break up has such long awkward pauses and constant rambling about nothingness on my part.

My one and only time I had to break up over the phone for the wedding was when I answered the phone to an unknown number thinking it was someone else calling about the wedding. I wasn’t prepared for the let down and it showed. I flattered the person to death and then said I’d keep them in mind if anything changed. It was so disheartening. I went home that night and sadly told Kevin of my awful conversation. The positive outlook on that situation was both parties had closure and it didn’t leave anyone in the unknown of why it didn’t quite work out.

This leads me to my least favorite method where you never contact them to say that you found someone else to have your wedding. You ignore their pleading phone calls and persistent e-mails because it just hurts too much to explain that the end has come to the relationship.

All in all, the hardships were all worth it because of the unimaginable place we found to have the wedding. Ivy Hall in Historic Roswell fits Kevin and I like a glove with its incredible scenery, beautiful decor, and overall atmosphere. I don’t want to give too much away because I don’t want to ruin the element of surprise for the guests, but as soon as we visited Ivy Hall it was truly love at first sight.

Paper Heart’s Quest for Love

8 Mar

Kevin and I recently watched the movie Paper Heart, which starred Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi. The theme of the movie was to discover the meaning of love. Charlyne Yi interviewed a wide variety of people from all over the U.S. She received answers that scaled from a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary to high school seniors on the brink of marriage. Yi got responses from individuals that ranged from a playground full of young kids to a motorcycle gang. Not one answer was alike when she asked “what is love?”

As Kevin and I prepare to get married, Paper Heart got me thinking what would my answer be to the popular question “what is love?” I’ve always believed there are all types of love, so my answer came from the romantic point of view. Even as an aspiring writer, it was extremely hard for me to put my response in words, but this is what I landed on:

Love is two souls balancing each other emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. It is the respect for the other person’s being in both their shortcomings and their strengths. Love is finding your equilibrium in life that creates an indescribable feeling. It is when two hearts are overwhelmingly content with one another. Love is an emotion that connects two people that is never the same with any other person.

It was not hard for me to believe that everyone’s answer in the movie, Paper Heart, was different when Yi questioned the meaning of love. With so many various opinions on the definition of love, the word “love” becomes so powerful. People may never agree on what love means, but it is worth a moment for people to take the time and form their own perspective on love to gain a fuller understanding of themselves and the world around them. I’d like to take Yi’s concept and question my readers, what does love mean to you?

Bride of Frankenstein? No thank you!

12 Feb

I would have felt the same way about my upcoming wedding as the Bride of Frankenstein if I did not use Atlanta Bridal’s website to find Atlanta wedding locations.

At first, Kevin and I were thinking of having our wedding in St. Augustine, FL, where he proposed.  I was stressed trying to communicate with these venues that were over 300 miles away.  The only lines of contact were e-mail and the venues’ websites.  Some of the websites barely had any pictures on them and of the pictures that were posted, it was hard to tell if it was what we were looking for in a wedding venue.  Then, one night my parents suggested we look in Atlanta because we might be happily surprised with what we find.  I argued that we wanted a destination wedding and Atlanta didn’t seem all that great of a choice to us.  My dad always has great advice and he said something along the lines of, “It may not be a destination to you, but it would be a destination to the out-of-town guests.” 

I went home that night after talking with my parents and thought, ‘How do I even start a search for Atlanta wedding venues?’  The metro-Atlanta area encompasses so many different types of towns and I really didn’t know where to begin my quest to find the perfect wedding venue.  So I typed in Google “Atlanta wedding venues” and Atlanta Bridal’s website was the first result to pop up.  And, boy am I glad that I found this website!  

Atlanta Bridal’s website is genius – it’s a time saver, stress free, and subdues most psychological problems the bride-to-be might face during the wedding planning process. Not to mention, it completely changed my mind about having my wedding in Atlanta. I was able to search historic homes, which is the type of place Kevin and I liked for our wedding, and I’ve already found some great places. I’ve already visited six venues and and I also have appointments with a few other locations in the next week.  Kevin and I have done all that and we’ve only been engaged for a little over a month!    

The creator of, Lei Lydle, said in her welcoming e-mail:

I hope you will use all of the site’s resources – they are designed to help [and]…relieve some of the stress of your wedding planning experience… Thank you for choosing to help you plan your wedding!

No, Lei, thank you times a million!!  Without you I would have had a streak of grey in my hair and looked like I was constantly singing opera.

I present to you the bridal party…

24 Jan

I’m the youngest of three girls: my oldest sister, Jess, and I are only four years apart; and there is only a 17 month difference in age with me and my middle sister, Liz. Despite Jess being a little bit older than Liz and I, we were all very close growing up. The three of us are very different and unique in our own ways, but I’d have to say that the two of them are the closest friends I’ve had my entire life. We’ve all witnessed each other’s good and bad moments for 25 years now, so naturally I’d want the two of them to stand next to me as bridesmaids on my special day.

I didn’t do anything special when I asked them to be my bridesmaids like I probably should have, but I made sure I asked them in person. We were all in Jess’s kitchen hanging out for Liz’s birthday and everyone was getting ready to leave. I clumsily blurted out, “Well before you guys go, I was wondering if you two will be my bridesmaids.”  The fear of rejection lingering overhead was unsettling and it made me very nervous, even in front of my own family.  Thankfully, my two sisters quickly said “Of course” and gave me big hugs. I told them that my maid of honor would be my best friend and closest thing to having another sister, Julia. I explained to them, just as I did to Julia, why I made this the final decision instead of having one of my sisters as the maid, or matron, of honor.

Julia and I went out to lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and then went to IKEA one Sunday afternoon.  It was a girl’s heaven – eating, shopping, and girl-talk. Julia was about to drop me off at my apartment when I asked her to be my maid of honor.  I believe she was in shock because she said, “Oh my God, yes, but…are you sure?”  

I said “Of course I’m sure.” Then I asked her, “Are you really that surprised? I figured you were expecting this.”
She said, “Well yeah, but not maid of honor. I figured you would have wanted one of your sisters to do that.”
I said, “I think it would have been too much for Liz and Jess would have been too much for me. Plus you’re the closest friend I have and I’ve always considered you as one of my sisters.”
She was excited and said, “I’m going to have to look up what to do as maid of honor because I have no idea what to do.”
I said, “Julia, I have no idea what I’m doing, so I’ll help you along the way too.”

When I searched “maid of honor duties” in Google over 70,000 results popped up in less than 25 seconds. So, here’s a good start, Julia:

I found a blog that said your maid of honor is the second most important person to you in the wedding next to your groom, of course. Although I didn’t folllow the 5 steps in this blog on how to ask Julia to be my maid of honor (and she’s probably happy that I didn’t), it was a no-brainer to ask her to be my second in command. Can’t you tell by these pictures?

I know that Julia, along with my sisters Jess and Liz, will always be by my side regardless of it being my wedding or not.  And the feeling is reciprocal – I’ll always be there for them too.  Now that I have my bridal party, the planning fun begins.  I cannot wait to celebrate with the three of them alongside me.

Show me the Money!

16 Jan

Hi, my name is Alison and I’m addicted to winning free stuff on-line for my wedding.  There, I said it.  Now I can seriously face my addiction. 

I’ve always loved winning contests or getting free stuff, but now I’ve become obsessed with it.  I’ve entered contests for The Proposal Story and Lucky in Love Engagement, and I have multiple drawings entered through On-line Sweepstakes.

I check the contest websites and my e-mail each day (or multiple times a day but, really, who’s counting?) to see if the sponsors have picked a winner, even though I well know the winner isn’t going to be announced until a month from now. 

The Proposal Story is the one competition that has been a roller coaster ride for me for the past few days.  On the first day that I posted my proposal story, I e-mailed my closest relatives to read the story and rate it on a scale of 1 to 5 diamonds (it’s like stars but, I believe, the website uses diamonds because the sponsor is Tiffany’s).  

I went on the contest website later that evening and I saw that my story was in the top 5 on their webpage.  I got so excited and clicked on my profile to see how many diamonds my story was rated.  I had 2 ratings of 3 diamonds.  That was out of 5 diamonds.  I could not believe my eyes.  Why would someone rate my story 3 out of 5 when I specifically asked them to vote because I wanted to win the competition?  That was beyond my comprehension, but Kevin and I got a good laugh out of the irony of it.  I didn’t really mind, considering I was still in the top 5. 

Then, I decided to promote my story on Facebook and explain to people in a nice way to give it a good rating if they vote.  This was my request to my Facebook friends:

“I entered a contest to win free stuff for the wedding (who doesn’t like free stuff, right?). Click on the link, read the proposal story, and if you like it then use the diamonds above the story to rate it (preferably a 5 please…wink wink). Thanks everyone!!!”

My family and friends were extremely supportive and voted (higher ratings) and even told their friends on Facebook to vote on my story.  I received a great response and remained in the top 5 on The Proposal Story website. 

As I said earlier, I’ve been checking the websites daily.  So, I went on The Proposal Story’s website this morning and, believe it or not, there was a new story in the top 5 titled “Alison and Kevin’s very funny proposal story.” 

My reaction – “Oh shoot!”  Well, that’s actually the censored version.  But, what are the chances that someone else spells their name like mine, with one “l”, and is getting engaged to a guy named Kevin?!  Obviously people got the stories mixed up and voted on the wrong one, right?  Well, that’s what I’d like to believe, so just roll with me here.

Regardless, I’m still excited about the contest because I’m in the top 5 of the stories posted on their homepage and the first story listed on their top 20 page.  But, it’s nerve-racking.  Thankfully, there are several different components that the judges look at when deciding who wins the competition.  As the website rules say, “Judging is based on the following criteria: quality of the writing style, creativity of the story, and ranking level achieved (judged by the community), with equal weight given to each criterion.”  

Even if people don’t give me good ratings or confuse my story for someone else’s, I still have somewhat of a chance to win $1,000 to Tiffany’s.  Keep your fingers crossed on my winnings…I know my parents are!

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