Our engagement pictures were so much fun to photograph, and I am so in love with the images my photographer, Alicia White, captured of Alex, me, and the doggies.

Since planning for them frazzled me a bit, I thought it might be helpful for me to pull together 10 Tips for Engagement Photo Prep.

  • Decide on the style and “feel” of your photos.
    Have you always pictured yourself in a city street, or do you dream of lush, natural greenery? Would you like to be formal, or you want a relaxed feel? You can always have a little of all of the above with some scenery changes and outfit choices, but it’s good to know this in advance for planning purposes. Think of your wedding style, too, and try to emulate that in at least a few shots for your wedding website.

  • Choose a few locations.
    Think about what makes you two special as a couple and how you can capture that in your engagement photos session. Do you love going out to the local dessert bar? (yes.) Do you love making cocktails at home? (yes.) Do you love walking your dogs downtown? (yes.) These are all places you can make into your engagement photo setting. You can even take photos around the place where you met, places you have lived, or just an iconic area around the city you are getting married.

    • Find “inspiration” photos.
      I loved searching Pinterest and filing through Style Me Pretty‘s collection of gorgeous engagement photos. One of my all-time favorite inspirations, though, is flipping through my photographer‘s website. If you can see what your photographer is already great at capturing, chances are, she/he can emulate that for you.
    • Collect a few outfits.
      This gave me the most angst. I didn’t want our engagement photos to look the same as our wedding photos, so I hadn’t planned to wear any white. I knew I wanted soft colors, so I tried to gather several flattering outfit options in colors I liked, took pictures of them all, and sent ideas to my photographer ahead of time. From there, she helped me select the best options for the camera and how to coordinate what Alex wore with each. We chose lots of solids and one pattern, as you can see from the below photos. Can you tell we like blue? 🙂
    • Avoid tight patterns and red clothing.
      Red clothes reflect onto another person’s skin, making him/her look orange or sunburnt. Try to not be too matchy-matchy and stick with solid colors you both look great in. Definitely avoid wearing the same exact color as your partner.
    • Make your grooming appointments well in advance.
      I had planned to do my own hair and makeup. After our pictures had to be rescheduled a few times, it so happened that I was the most tan my skin is all year round for our photos (hey, end of August!). Therefore, a lot of my makeup didn’t match my face well, and I didn’t trust myself. Fortunately, I have a friend who works the Nordstrom beauty counter who came to my rescue and helped me with my makeup before our photos were taken. Also, since my hair takes me forever to curl, I started getting ready way in advance of the time we actually were due to start taking photos.
    • If you need it, enlist extra assistance.
      Since we won’t have the doggies as a part of our wedding day (I know, I know), we wanted to incorporate Chloe and Maverick into our engagement photos instead. To keep the dogs well-behaved and looking in the direction of the camera, I had planned to ask Alex’s sister to help wrangle the doggies.
    • Have a conversation with your photographer ahead of time.
      What are you two like as a couple? Do you love cutesy photos, or do they make you gag? One of the reasons I chose my photographer, Alicia, is because she is so wonderful at capturing the candid, “in the moment” shots I love, and I wanted my engagement photos to be full of those. I didn’t want any of our photos to look super posed, but instead, just as if we had photos on us spending time together.
    • Don’t stress.
      Although I cared a lot about how our engagement photos turned out, I trusted that Alicia knew what she was doing and would create something beautiful out of our time in front of the camera. Try to trust your photographer and forget why you’re there. Remember why you’re taking the photos in the first place, and love on your fiancé. If you’re natural in that mentality, it will be easy for your photographer to get some great shots of you.
    • Communicate.
      If you feel weird while taking the pictures, chances are, ya look weird, too. Tell your partner and your photographer if you’re not feeling it. A seasoned photographer is used to trying a lot of different personalities, scenes, and poses, and he/she will be able to figure out something that makes you feel comfortable and makes your photos beautiful!

    Isn’t Alicia White Photography amazing? Our time with her — and the outcome — make me so excited for our wedding day. Even if you’re not in the Charlotte area, she travels, so scoop her up if you’re looking for a wedding photog!

    To those of you who have already been through this process, what is your best advice for engagement photography preparation?

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Well, well, well, where did we leave off in our wedding planning updates?

With 282 days to go (but who’s counting?), I’ve definitely exited the “big picture” stage and am beginning to dive into the details.

And for the record, I don’t personally have a countdown. I’m just reminded of our “days to go” every time I log on to edit our wedding website.

Our wedding is set for Saturday, June 2, 2018 at Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond, Virginia.

I gave you the lowdown of our venue tours this past winter. Right after we took a look around Upper Shirley, we knew we had settled on Tuckahoe.

Honestly, while touring, the beauty of Mount Ida Farm really charmed me. But the logistics of planning a Scottsville, VA wedding in Richmond, VA with a large percentage of out-of-town guests was really daunting. Plus, Tuckahoe is a place that has made me swoon for years. We both said touring Tuckahoe Plantation gave us the warm fuzzies… even if our tour was amidst knee-deep snow.

I can’t wait to enter these grounds on June 2… eek!

Once we secured our venue and date, we started knocking vendor bookings off our to-do list.

You know that wedding Pinterest board we all create before we’re even engaged? That took a lot of cleaning up. It bears mentioning mine was named “My Monica Gellar Binder of Wedding Plans.”

Now? I have no less than 12 individual Pinterest boards dedicated to different vendors and separate parts of the planning process. I recommend every bride to do this in the planning process — your vendors will thank you! For example, my florist doesn’t care what kind of shoes I’ve been pinning, she just wants to see all my floral ideas.

The next step was coming to a realization that I had a lot of ideas, but I wasn’t completely sure how to best pull my vision together while sticking to a reasonable budget and making the outcome both low-stress and something dreams are made of.

I recalled watching on social media a former colleague starting her own wedding planning biz. I had followed her for years, and everything she and her business partner coordinated was just dreamy. So, I reached out!

Honestly, how cute are these little wedding magicians?

Tart Event Co. is made up of two masterminds, Amelia and Kelsey, who add the best blend of “cohesive artistic direction to meticulous organization” to event planning. And better yet? They offer levels of event planning services. I wanted to plan my wedding (I actually used to want to be a wedding planner!), but I also knew I needed some organization help, budgeting tips, and creative direction. Therefore, I was a great candidate for their “partial planning” product.

I’m still just a little under 300 days away from my wedding day, and I am so grateful I have had Amelia and Kelsey’s help. They’ve provided me with a big spreadsheet template to keep track of my plans, timeline, guest list, and budget.

I also have consulting hours, about half of which I’ve already used for things like vendor conversations. Amelia and Kelsey will, of course, also be at our wedding to handle day-of coordination to work with Tuckahoe’s staff and our vendors. I’m looking forward to their assistance in providing us a low stress wedding day!

I’m forcing you all to take a peek at their portfolio here. Isn’t it gorgeous?

All Tart coordinated, and so dreamy.

This was a long-winded update, but I’ve got a bottom line. Or two.

  1. In choosing your venue, listen to your gut. It’s worth it to choose a place that makes your heart happy, but it’s also important to be realistic. Think of all your planning logistics and how your guests will get to your venue.
  2. If your budget allows, see if there are any event planners in your area who speak to your aesthetic. I didn’t need or have the budget for a full wedding planner, but I’ve really needed the advice and direction my partial planning package has provided me.

And there you have it. I’ve got plenty more updates to come! We’re getting ready for our engagement photos this weekend, and I’m so excited to share them with you. Here’s to hoping my August tan isn’t too much for romantic photography!


I’m here with a new beauty product you’ve got to check out.

Before you say “nah, I’m covered” (literally), hear me out.

I am really not into wearing a ton of makeup day-to-day. Normally, my everyday makeup routine consists of a clear skin pressed powder base with a touch of bronzer and blush.

Any type of liquid makeup makes me feel cakey, so I really only save it for special occasions or big nights out. Because I assumed all liquid foundations are created equal, anything liquid made me wrinkle my nose.

Enter, Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer.

My friend Erin asked me if I had ever tried it, and I hadn’t even heard of it. I later heard my friend Christina raving about it, too, and I figured if two of my friends from opposite sides of the country are going nuts over this tinted moisturizer, it’s worth trying out.

Erin sent me a bottle, and I, thinking it would be like regular foundation, waited for a special occasion to use it. Dummy.

Honestly, I’m converted. Dew Skin, which is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 20, makes my skin feel so hydrated. It does not feel like I have heavy makeup on, or really, any makeup on at all.

I’m all about the trendy glow, and I’ve bought about 4 different highlighters trying to achieve a certain look. Still, I was using matte powder underneath, and it was making my skin appear pretty dry (which it is). Dew skin gives me a great dewy (duh), glowy base with sheer to moderate coverage, and it serves as a great base for my bronzer. When I apply bronzer atop Dew Skin, I only need a tiny bit, because the powder actually stays put.


I’ve noticed my skin appearing and feeling clearer and better hydrated, my makeup stays on much longer, and I have a great dewy glow that truly lasts all day. It’s low maintenance, and it looks great, so… what’s the catch?

There isn’t one. Dew Skin has also earned an Allure Best of Beauty Award.

Dew Skin very quickly became a part of my everyday makeup routine, and my sensitive skin has reacted beautifully to it. Yay for hydration, SPF protection, and a kind-to-my-skin primer for the rest of my makeup!

If you want to see how it looks upon application, take a gander at this video below. It was taken from the comfort of my own bathroom, and although it doesn’t appear so, I am, in fact, wearing clothing.

Now, it’s your turn to try it. I’m telling ya, this stuff is worth every penny. Contact Erin yourself (here is her shop link), and she’ll hook you up with some Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer.

Thanks, Erin, for converting me! I’m forever grateful.

I didn’t know much about Beautycounter before chatting with Erin, but apparently, only about 10% of the 10,000 chemicals found in our common personal care products actually contain safety data. The U.S. has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938… that’s a long time ago!

Beautycounter’s ingredient selection process is the most strict in the industry. They have banned more than 1,500 ingredients, setting a new health and safety standard. In this process, they’ve still ensured their products are effective and as luxurious as their competitors.

And now, for a giveaway! When I asked Erin if she’d like to host a giveaway on my review, she quickly chose the new Countermatch Moisturizer ($48 value). This stuff sold out within 12 hours of going live!

Give your skin exactly what it needs as you moisturize. From the Beautycounter website, “This lightweight lotion helps skin adapt to the ever-changing aggressors of modern life by adjusting hydration levels throughout the day for a smooth look and feel, and a radiant glow. Breakthrough Bio-Mimic Technology harnesses the unique life-giving properties of plants to exactly match the structure of skin, giving it precisely what it needs and nothing it doesn’t.”


To be entered to win, comment below with a Beautycounter product you’d want to try from Erin’s site and why you’d think it would be a great match for you and your skin.

If you comment on Instagram as well, you will be entered to win twice!

DISCLAIMER: These thoughts and opinions are my own. I was compensated with product only to write my honest personal review.



Our Wedding Venue Search: Part II

May 30, 2017

Check out Part 1 of our wedding venue tour coverage here! For Venue Tour #3, we headed to Mount Ida Farm in Scottsville, Virginia, which I found on Borrowed and Blue. The photos of the lodge immediately captivated me enough to want to trek over an hour away to tour the venue. Beautiful, right? The tour was even better. […]

Read on!

Our Wedding Venue Search

May 24, 2017

Like I mentioned in my last post, with each wedding venue tour, we learned. We got a little smarter with the process, and we learned the types of questions to ask. Now that I’ve thrown my wedding venue touring tips at ya, I’ll cover the venues we actually toured. For me, this was a bit of a Goldilocks & The Three Bears […]

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10 Tips for Your Wedding Venue Tours

April 19, 2017

Since everyone in the land knows how “Type A” I am, it should come as no surprise that immediately after getting engaged, I was itching to set a date and a venue for our wedding. Earlier in our relationship, I told Alex I’ve always dreamt of an outdoor wedding. I grew up in the Episcopal church […]

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Our Story: The First Date

March 2, 2017

In our engagement announcement, I promised wedding planning coverage. So you’re gonna get wedding planning coverage! Before I dive too deep into our wedding venue search, I realize I didn’t cover much about Alex and my relationship on the blog. Why, you ask? I’ll tell ya. When you already have two jobs, finding time to write a […]

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February 23, 2017

It may have been over two months ago, but I guess a serious life event bears mentioning… Soooo, Alex proposed! And ever since, I’ve been in a whirlwind of busy season of my full-time job, the usual madness of teaching Pure Barre in addition, and… wedding planning! But since I’m backtracking to December 17th here, […]

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Everyday Sun Safety – Tips, Facts, & Products!

October 5, 2016

Howdy, hi, hello! I know, I know. Autumn is here, and I’m talking about sun safety. BUT. Although the temperatures are cooler, see that bright thing up in the sky? The sun is still shining on us, and we’ve still gotta protect our skin from it. Since it’s been a hot minute since I threw […]

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We Got A House!

July 19, 2016

Okay, let me clarify. Alex bought a house. I live in it. Sooo…. we got a house! 😉 You may already be clued into this via my Snapchat feed (username: ablyssa). For the past month, we’ve been full steam ahead moving, demolishing, painting, planning, craigslist selling, and reorganizing. And thankfully for me, in his retirement, my […]

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