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.



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.

There are two wedding location options at Mount Ida. The first is the barn reception/gazebo ceremony.

Since it was sunset in the middle of winter, these are less than stellar visuals, but you can still get an idea of what the grounds looked like. The gazebo ceremony option didn’t match my personal vision, but it makes for a pretty setting for an intimate ceremony.

The barn’s foyer can serve as a cocktail hour area or a ceremony rain plan. This is a rain plan setting I can get on board with!

This area leads into the bigger reception room with Bridal and Groom Suites leading off those rooms.

Guys, the BRIDAL suites at Mount Ida. They made every single venue we toured pale in comparison, and I never even knew I cared about where I get ready on my wedding day. This setting was beautiful.

Option 2 for Mount Ida was the Mount Ida lodge reception/mountain top ceremony.


Gorgeous, right (even in the dark)?

And the lodge reception location was to die for.

Told ya the bridal suite impressed! Restoration Hardware was the inspo here, and it shows.

Should the mountaintop not work due to weather, this side room in the lodge was the reception rain plan.

We didn’t hate it, that’s for sure. The downside is that Scottsville is over an hour away from Richmond, and about 70% of our wedding guests will be from out of town. For them to fly into Richmond and drive over an hour from there seemed a little difficult.

Remember how I recommended you research the guest accommodations ahead of touring a venue? That was key here. The only reasonable places for our guests to stay that were not Bed & Breakfasts were over 30 minutes away. Hello, hike. Especially after partying all night long.

So, after this tour, we had to decide if the beauty of Mount Ida was worth sacrificing convenience.

Our tour of Venue #4 was at Tuckahoe Plantation, a venue I fell in love with long ago when I happened to stumble upon photos of weddings held there.

We scheduled this tour for Saturday, January 7, the day before my birthday, since Maggie, my Maid of Honor, would be in town. If you remember, this was also the weekend Richmond was hit with a substantial snowstorm.

We were sure Lyndee, the event coordinator, would tell us to come another time, but she encouraged us to make the trek in Alex’s Tahoe and come see the historic sight in the snow.

Although it wouldn’t look like this as I walked down the aisle, isn’t that pretty cool?

Because I had seen quite a few photos of the space prior to our tour, it was still helpful to walk around in the snow. We loved the historic ties to Richmond this venue had, and the idea of getting married amidst such lush greenery was just what we were looking for.

We remarked that if we chose this venue, it would be pretty neat on our wedding day to think about how there was snow everywhere we looked on the first day we visited the grounds.

Tuckahoe Plantation offers a few different areas for separate portions of the wedding. Our favorites were the crape myrtle ceremony site (which you saw pictured above), the reception site to the side of the historic house, and we’d utilize the historic house as a bridal suite and the stables as a groomsman suite.

Even the dogs came for this tour!

Maggie was a real trooper, too. She drove in the snow to make it to my birthday and our venue tour. Britt was supposed to come, too, but she got snowed in at home!

The downside to having a wedding at Tuckahoe Plantation, other than it being a big blank slate for our reception, was a pretty big one: there is no rain plan. If we were to choose this venue, we’d have to cross our fingers and toes we have a dry week (so we don’t have wet grounds) and a dry day for our wedding. I had promised myself we’d find a venue with a rain plan we loved, so Tuckahoe scared me a little.

Finally, Venue #5, Upper Shirley Vineyards. This venue was only a short trek away from home, and as a brand new vineyard close to Richmond, it seemed like a great option for our wedding.

There had only been one wedding at Upper Shirley prior to our tour, so there weren’t many photos to stalk online. The venue itself, however, is definitely made for hosting weddings.

Once again, we had terrible weather for our tour. As you can see from my photos, it was a rather dreary January day.

You can see the outdoor space behind the building here.

I really loved the idea of our ceremony having a view of the water. I grew up with a house on a lake in the Pocono Mountains in PA, so water was a big part of my childhood, and I liked the idea of having that backdrop. We also obviously had a great amount of space in that area as well as several cocktail our options outdoors.

The indoor reception area was pretty simple. The room was set up for a mock reception, so we were able to see just what would be included.

There is a rain plan option outdoors underneath the building overhang on the front porch. It would be a bit of a long, narrow setup, but it is doable.

Can I mention a bridal suite again? This one had a fantastic amount of space, and all the natural light was a photographer’s dream!

After touring Upper Shirley, Alex and I got “that feeling” that told us we knew exactly where we wanted to be married.

Any guesses as to which venue we chose (no cheating!)? 😉


Catch up on “wedding stuff” here!

Wedding Venue Tours Part I // Tips for Wedding Venue Touring // The Engagement // Our Story

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Our Wedding Venue Search

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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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Our Story: The First Date

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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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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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The Bachelorette Recap: Chad will rip your shirt… and all your limbs off.

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This week, as I turn on the T.V. to start the best part of Monday, I’m suddenly reminded of what I have to look forward to. TWO nights of… Buckle up, y’all. Sidenote: I swear I read something a past contestant posted that the girls aren’t allowed to bring weights, leave the property to run, […]

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