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2020 Bride

Well friends, I planned on doing this blog post as a “5 months til the big day wedding update” with vendors, where we are in the planning process, and all that fun stuff. But, coronavirus.

I want to preface this blog post by saying I know we are extremely lucky. So many people that I know have had to cancel/postpone their spring weddings and my heart breaks for them! We are not at that point yet, but I think it’s safe to say that there is SO much unknown, and every bride getting married this year is kind of freaking out. Virtually sending hugs (and wine) to anyone who has already had to make these really hard decisions.

When we set our fall of 2020 wedding date back in January of 2019, we never would have seen this coming! As dramatic as it may sound, the last month has been such a rollercoaster of emotions. 

Where am I now? Honestly, kind of mad! Mad isn’t quite the right word, but let’s go with it. I’m mad that when I now tell people I’m getting married this year they feel sorry for me- instead of saying ‘congrats how exciting!”. That’s childish of me, I know. But it’s a crappy feeling. 

I’m mad that everyone has an opinion on what we should do- yet no one really knows the right answer. Can someone just secretly tell all the 2020 brides what the future holds?! We will keep it to ourselves, we promise 😉

I’m mad that the months leading up to our wedding feel “tainted’ by the uncertainty and stress of this virus and what the next 5 months will look like. I’m sad for my friends getting married before me, and mad that we can’t spend these next few months in our bubble of almost married joy and bliss this summer!

I’m mad that the next few months seem to have a cloud hanging over them, when they should have been spent at bridal showers for some of my closest friends and myself, flights to bachelorette parties, and shopping for numerous white dresses for all the fun occasions.

But, some things I need to remind myself of:

  • I am marrying the love of my life, either way! It may not be in 2020, but it will still happen! That in itself makes this all worth it. I’d go through this all again and again if the end result was marrying Justin!
  • Our wedding will look the way I’ve always dreamed of, regardless of the date. For some reason I have to keep reminding myself that our wedding will literally be the exact same event even if it happens next year. We’ve decided that if our original date doesn’t work, we will wait until we can do the full out thing we planned rather than do a smaller version, and that brings me a lot of peace.
  • Honestly, as of right now I’m not as worried about the actual wedding date as I am the things leading up to it like the shower and bachelorette party. I know this isn’t what getting married is all about, but these are precious, joy filled memories I was so looking forward to sharing with my favorite people. I have to remind myself that if they can’t happen when they are originally planned to, I’ll still get those memories. They will happen before our new wedding date, if it comes down to that. We won’t just totally forget about these things and never do them.

Again, if I’m being super transparent, I have the most anxiety about these next few months being tainted by the coronavirus cloud of doom. But… I have come to realize no one can taint that unless I let it. 

If I can walk through the next five months, happy, filled with joy to marry the love of my life, filled with hope and light- nothing can take that away. I really am in control of what our attitude can be like leading up to this experience, and I am now determined to walk through the next 5 months full of hope and joy. 

What’s the worst case? I walk through this time with hope & joy, and have to reschedule? Fine! We will still get our day and I saved myself a LOT of stress and sadness  🙂

What’s the best case? I walk through this time with hope & joy and get to marry my future husband as planned? AMAZING. We proved our strength and didn’t taint our experience by giving into fear and anxiety.

Either way, it’s a win! Either way, memories will be made with my best friends, my family, and Justin!

Imagine this: I give into the fear and anxiety and spend the next 5 months a ball of stress, bad moods, and tears (aka my last week lol)… and THEN our original planned date works out? I will be so, so mad at myself that I didn’t fully enjoy those months and that ME and ONLY me, tainted those memories. 

So friends, and 2020 Brides, I FREAKING FEEL YOU. Here’s to raising a virtual glass of wine, and filling the rest of our year with hope, joy, and positive vibes. WE. GOT. THIS. If anyone is set up for a long happy marriage, it’s couples planning a wedding during COVID-19 😉


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Nordstrom Sale- What I’m Adding to Cart!

Hey, friends! Here are my personal picks for the Nordstrom sale. I’m breaking them up into categories, and will be adding items often as I see things! So, bookmark this page and check back often!

As a reminder, tomorrow the sale goes live for cardholders, and the 19th it goes live for the public! But, as I mentioned in this post, preparing your shopping cart now is the best way to shop!

I also want to remind you all how thankful I am when you shop through my links! I’ll be transparent here- publishing to this site and putting this content out here costs bloggers money! So, if during the N Sale one of your fav. bloggers posts something that you are excited to buy- shop their link 🙂 It will mean the world to them that you are supporting their hustle!

OK. THE SALE: *Be sure to scroll on the widgets- there’s way more than 2 items per category!!

What I’m Adding to Cart ASAP. These are items expected to sell out fast! Check back often for re-stocks if an item you want says it’s out of stock.

Basics. I always stock up on these items during the sale.

Barefoot Dreams. People, this is worth the splurge I promise!

Athletic Wear. Great Zella deals, but don’t stress if you miss them- go look at the Rack!

Sweaters. The best time to get good quality sweaters for an even better price.

Splurges. Justin if you’re reading this- I promise to not buy ANY of these items 😉

Shoes. Basics, and a few high-quality splurges.

Jewelry. Love finding Kendra Scott on sale.

Check back for more additions as the sale goes on! Tag me on Insta if you end up buying & loving any of these!

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Nordstrom Sale Tips

So, I won’t give you the ENTIRE low-down because I am sure you have heard it 200 times by now from other bloggers!

But, what I will say… you HAVE to shop this sale! It’s one of the only times during the year Nordstrom puts high end or really popular brands on sale (North Face, Steve Madden, BP, SO much more!).

I normally use this time to stock up on basics, and splurge on one high-end product (normally shoes). One of the best parts of the sale… you are not getting last seasons reject items! Everything on sale is relevant to now, in trend, and NEW.

Here are my tips for shopping the sale:

Don’t feel like you NEED to get the Nordstrom Credit Card to shop early. This may be an unpopular view, but honestly I don’t have the card and have never had an issue getting what I want at the sale as long as I shop the first day. So many bloggers will be pushing it- don’t feel pressured!

During the early access, save everything you want in your Nordstrom account online. This way, the day of the sale opens to the public all you have to do is click ‘add to cart’!

BUY. ONLINE. Nordstrom’s return policy is so great (free shipping and free returns), just buy online (multiple sizes if you’re unsure) and return what you don’t want! This is the best way to ensure you get what you want.

Don’t count on ‘buy online pick up in store’ during the sale. Last year, there was an item I really wanted, so I bought it for store pick-up, and passed on doing the typical online/ship. Bad call- an hour later I got an email saying the store no longer had it AND by that time it was sold out online. Tragic lol!

That being said, check back often for restocks if you are really dying for something that is showing as out of stock. Things come back quick!

Don’t forget about home goods! The sale is most famous for clothing, but there are some great deals on home decor, textiles, and bedding.

Don’t feel redic getting some Christmas shopping done! I know… it’s July… but hey if you can get Mom a Tory Burch bag for 70% off… it’s worth hanging onto for a few months!

Moral of the story- SHOP ONLINE.

I tend to wake up the morning of the sale, and place an online order. Then, if time allows that day/weekend I will also go into the store to see what there is.

Most of the time once I get to the store, I find an item I bought online and realize I got the wrong size, so I will purchase it again in store. I know- this sounds SO complicated… but when you see these deals… they’re worth the calculations and time spent plotting! Plus, everything is returnable. Shop now, decide later!

Be on the lookout for a post on July 12th when the sale goes live to the public- and I’ll be sharing a post with all my favorite items on July 9th when the early access opens.

Happy shopping!

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Wedding Check-In

I did an Insta-poll last week to see who was interested in hearing about our wedding planning thus far, and I am so excited to finally be sharing! I wanted to write this post almost as a “diary entry”, since I know these days are going to fly by and sentimental me is going to want to remember all these exciting details!

I’m going to start by sharing some of the vendors we have selected/used so far and our thoughts as we were selecting them.

Photography: Ben Ramos Photography

Confession: I reached out to Ben BEFORE we even announced our engagement on Facebook or to a majority of our family LOL. If that doesn’t tell you how good he is, nothing will. Ben is a true professional, but also such a hype-man! I don’t know about you, but I want that kind of vibe surrounding me on my wedding day!

We have already done our engagment shoot with him (featured photo), and we cannot wait to see all our photos! The shoot was so fun- even Justin said it was a blast and the 1.5 hours flew by. It helps that I know Ben from high school, but honestly even if he was a stranger- it would have been the same amazing experience!

This was one area we KNEW we were going to splurge in- I have heard horror stories about wedding photographers and knew I didn’t want to skimp here. To each their own of course, but I am already so confident with our decision to invest in Ben!

Reception Venue: Hotel Arista, Naperville IL

With so much event experience under my belt from my career, I thought this step would be easy. Spoiler Alert: it. was. not.

I thought I was sold on Elements at Water Street, before even seeing it in person. I had always dreamed of having my wedding there! So, when we toured and it didn’t live up to our expectations, I was crushed (there may have been actual tears… #NotACrazyBride).

We continued on our venue search, and eventually came to find Hotel Arista. Hotel Arista and Katie, their wedding coordinator, had amazing reviews! We made an appointment, and from the first step in, everything was perfect.

Hotel Arista is a boutique hotel, so it is decorated very unique! Think white marble, gold fixtures, leather couches, navy velvet curtains… totally our vibe! When we stepped in, we were greeted with the most friendly faces and given a very through tour of the actual hotel and their amenities before even seeing the event space, which was a great touch!

Katie totally understood my vision, and was so great to talk with from the very first moment. That was the kind of vibe I was looking for. At this point, it was a no-brainer that Hotel Arista was where we wanted to be!

Ceremony Venue: Our Lady of Mercy Church

DJ/Photobooth: DJ D.JONES // Spark Entertainment Group

I found DJ D.Jones via The Knot- and I am so glad I did! Durrel is so professional, but also so friendly and outgoing. From the first conversation, he gave so much amazing advice and insight into our day as a whole that I was 100% sold on him.

He will be sure to keep our wedding feeling more like a party- which is exactly what we wanted!

Durrel and his company also have Photobooths for rental. What we loved about his photobooth was that they will set up hours beforehand, even if the photobooth will only be open for a part of our reception. We deff did not want workers setting up our photobooth as our guests tried to eat dinner.

The final selling point on DJ D.Jones was his website! All his couples get access into a custom portal where we can give song suggestions, make a do not play and must play list, and enter in our run of show. If you know organized me- you know that is amazing!

Suggestions from Others:

A couple of weeks ago I asked my insta-friends to share their biggest regrets/suggestions from their wedding days, here are some of my favorites:

Get a videographer

Don’t party the night away at your rehearsal dinner

Have a well seasoned photographer to keep you on track

Don’t leave for your honeymoon the next morning

Eat a good meal before- you won’t eat a bite during your reception

Signage asking guests to not take cell phone pics during your ceremony


Planning Thoughts:

So far, the easiest parts of planning have been choosing decor and colors (not sharing this til the day of!), and everything with our bridal party (they are all seriously the best!)

Hardest parts so far have been deciding how much we want to invest in flowers (not a big flower person), finding a videographer (send your recommendations my way!) and WEDDING DRESS shopping.

As I am sure you all know, we went to Klienfeld’s in NYC to dress shop! Although I didn’t ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ there, it was such an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change a thing about! It gave me a better idea of exactly what I was looking for… fingers crossed that clarity is given at the next appointment we have back home in Naperville later on this month!

I am honestly loving every second of this planning so far, and am already wondering what I am going to do when it’s all done! Good thing we have until October 3rd, 2020…or 473 days… but who’s counting?! 😉

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Workout Wear

Three of my favorite stores are having some amazing sales on active wear this week! I am the kind of person who is largely motivated to workout by having the right outfit, so new workout clothes for summer are always a must.

First, Nordstrom! There are so many Zella and Nike sales! If you haven’t tried the Zella leggings yet- now is the time! I find myself reaching for my Zella leggings more than my LuLu ones… and that’s saying a lot. The quality cannot be beat for $40.

Next up, Old Navy! They recently launched a new line of active wear, and it is to die for. I just placed a huge order and can’t wait to do a try-on for you all. Check out all the fun sets!

Finally, our BFF Target. Target’s C9 line of active wear has also been stepping its game up lately. Most of these items are currently on sale- so jump on them!

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Memorial Day Round Up

I’m sharing my favorite Memorial Day sales that are continuing though the week! All products are shoppable by clicking the image or by following me in the app! And- nothing is over $50!

Nordstrom: The half yearly sale is here! Shop some of my fav. items here:

J.CREW Factory: 60% off and free shipping with code SUMMERSALE. Perfect time to stock up on some warm-weather work outfits!

Old Navy: 20% off your entire purchase and up to 60% off throughout the store. Stock up on basics, shorts and swimsuits!

Abercrombie: There are some great, trendy styles for 50% off right now! Be sure to sign up for a reward account for an extra savings at checkout.

Kate Spade: Up to 75% off the site, plus an extra 10% off if you spend $150! No links here, just an FYI 😉

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Summer Swaps

I am the kind of person that LIVES for summer. With Memorial Day just around the corner… I am so looking forward to weekends full of laying by the pool during the day and bonfires with friends at night! Of course, these days come with a LOT of food & drinking as well.

As much as I love all the unhealthy snacks that come with summer, I don’t always love the way they make me fee. In honor of Memorial Day, here are my 8 tricks I use during the summer to make these pool days a bit healthier!

  1. Check Your Drink: I love a sugar filled cocktail… but it’s not ideal for a pool day. When you know you’ll be lounging all day swap your usual beer or cocktail for something lower in calories, carbs, and sugar. SOCIAL Sparkling Wine is perfect for these days! 88 calories and 4 grams of carbs makes it THE cleanest option when it comes to alcohol. It’s also light & refreshing, and won’t leave you feeling bloated and gross!
  • Eat Before: I feel like I always end up at a mid-day pool party having skipped breakfast or lunch in preparation for all the snacks I know our friends will bring! Now, I try to make an effort to eat a balanced meal before heading to these events. Filling up on a protein, some greens, and some healthy carbs before heading out of the house helps make sure I reach for the snacks less.
Close-up of Salad in Plate
  • Swap the Chips: Did you know carrots and celery taste just as good dipped in guac & salsa as tortilla chips? Now, I’m not saying you need to ditch the chips all together… but maybe go 70/30 when it comes to veggies & chips that you’re using to eat all those dips! Not only is it healthier because it’s lower in carbs, but the less salt you eat on these days, the better you will feel.
  • Watch Your Fruit: Stick to some low-sugar fruit options. Strawberries, peaches, and blackberries are great options. You’re most likely already consuming sugar through your beverage (even though with SOCIAL it won’t be a ton 😉 ) So be sure to not add in excessive amounts elsewhere.
Sliced Fruits on Tray
  • Move Around: This is probably advice I need to take more often myself LOL. I know it is so tempting to just lay in the sun or on your donut shaped pool float all day… but if your friends start up a game of Frisbee or Bags, get in on the action! Even moving around for 15 minutes is good for your body!
  • Bring the Snacks: Offer to bring a few snacks for the group! This way you know there will be something you can munch on without feeling guilty, and I am sure your group will appreciate the healthier options! Hummus with veggies, salsa, and guac is a great crowd pleaser. Or, show of your fancier side with these mozzarella and tomato skewers!
Assorted Vegetable Dishes on White Plate
  • Ditch the Bun: Load up your burger with lettuce, tomato, guac, cheese… just ditch the bun! After a day spent lounging in the sun those heavy carbs won’t make you feel so great. Protein is most likely what your body needs at this point in the day.
Image result for burger lettuce wrap
  • Don’t Stress It: If all else fails, try to use a few of these tips… but don’t ruin a fun day spent relaxing & enjoying beverages over trying to be 100% health conscious! Hey- that’s what Sunday morning spin class is for right? 😉

If I had to choose one of these as the most important, it would be the first one, hands down! Watching your drinks is so important. Once I realized that drinking 3 of my favorite ciders on a pool day was the equivalent amount of carbs to eating 3 bagels I knew I had to find a new option! It’s crazy how quick those carbs & sugar add up during a summer day.

So, my one piece of advice, check out SOCIAL here for a great, low calorie, low carb drink option to help you get through pool party and BBQ season! & trust me… you will not be sacrificing taste 😉

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Summer Favorites

By overwhelming demand… per my Instagram poll sounds like everyone is looking for two things: swim and tassel/fringe earrings! Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom to see my FAVORITE swimsuit I’ve bought this season… that literally cost me under $2. Be sure to click the photos for pricing and purchasing information.

First up, Target! AKA all girl’s Their new line Shade & Shore has some great mix & match swim options, as well as some cute one pieces (warning, there is a glitch that is making these all show as sold out- but they are all still in stock if you follow the link):

Target is also currently offering free shipping & returns on all swim!

Next, Aerie! I am recently loving their items! The high-neck swimsuit style is so cute, and flattering on all bodies!

Finally, Amazon Swimmies! Cupshe is one of my favorite swim brands, the quality is SO good for such a great price. This first one-piece was my first Cupshe purchase, and I was hooked after that!

Links to Amazon Swim from left to right:

Striped Bikini, High Neck, Velvet Bikini, Ruffle Bikini, One Piece

Okay, finally my $2 swimsuit! I bought this on a whim after one of my favorite bloggers (Jena Green) posted hers! Its currently $1.62 (price does fluctuate but I have never seen it for more than $2.50).

Honestly- I was afraid to get this in after I saw it was shipping from China. I have such bad luck with buying clothing made overseas and having it come in WAY too small! BUT- this swimsuit fits me better than anything I currently have…it’s that good! It’s double lined on both pieces, and has removable padding in the top. I would suggest ordering a size up, just because the top is a bit narrow. Or, buy 2 sizes and give the one that doesn’t fit away LOL for $2 you can’t go wrong.

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New York City

We took the quickest trip ever to NYC (see previous post as to why we were there!) But, we managed to fit in a ton of great sights! Below is a rough breakdown of what we did for three days in NYC!

Day 1: We were off the plane and at Hotel Henri by 1pm! This hotel was so cute (with a great rooftop bar) and in a great location. Right next to the hotel was Tappo Thin Crust Pizza– our first stop! I would highly recommend.

Next, we walked to the Empire State Building and went up to the top for the amazing city views! It took us about two hours from start to finish to see the top.

After this, we walked to Times Square! We took in all the views along the way, and the less than a mile walk felt great after a morning spent on a plane! We grabbed a coffee and took in all that Times Square has to offer!

After Times Square, we took a slight detour and walked towards Radio City. Right near here is the iconic LOVE sculpture! After this, we stopped at Joe and the Juice for a quick snack. We spent some time window shopping, and then it was time for dinner!

We wanted to do dinner in Times Square, so that we could see the area at night as well! We tried Dos Caminios, and it was great! By the time dinner was done and we got some photos of TS at night, we were so exhausted from a day of travel, and headed back to the hotel!

Day 2: The morning of this day was spent dress shopping, see this post if you want all the details on how our morning was!

For lunch, we grabbed an uber to the start of Madison Ave near Central Park. We found this amazing soup & salad spot! From here, we walked and did some shopping! I was pretty much in heaven with all my favorite designers on one street. I would highly recommend the Kate Spade store on Madison Ave (it’s 4 floors!), Tory Burch, and Laduree!

Speaking of, we needed a pick-me-up around this time so we grabbed lattes and macaroons. Laduree is so worth the hype, and is a must when in NYC!

Next, we took some time to stroll around Central Park! It was so beautiful with all the spring flowers blooming. I would recommend starting Central Park from the corner of __ and __ and then heading north towards the Met! We didn’t go into the Met, but it was so cool to see from the outside (xoxo, gossip girl).

We then headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner! We went to our hotel’s rooftop bar, Sir Henri Penthouse, which I would recommend checking out even if you don’t stay at this hotel! They have some great views (and such an insta-worthy space), and happy hour deals!

We had a reservation for The Smith for dinner, but some other places on our list were Gato for Italian food, or Galli for medditerian food. These were both not in walking distance, so we opted for a walk to The Smith!

Day 3: We started today with breakfast at Le Pain, can’t go wrong with gluten-free avocado toast! From there, we took an uber to the 9/11 Memorial.

After seeing the memorial it started pouring rain, so we checked out the Oculus! This mall is so cool on the inside, and worth checking out while you’re in the area!

We spent the rest of this afternoon wandering through Washington Square Park at the farmers market, drinking coffee in the park, and of course shopping on 5th Ave!

For our last meal, we decided to head to Eataly to get out of the rain! Even though we have one of these in Chicago, it didn’t dissapoint! It’s a great way to kill a couple of hours in the city if the weather is less than ideal. We ended our weekend with the best pasta we have ever had- and a couple glasses of wine of course!

Overall, for a quick weekend a Thursday-Saturday trip to NYC was perfect. I would love to go back, but would keep the trip around that length again, and head to some new areas! Any must-see’s in NYC that I missed on this trip? Comment below or on Instagram & let me know!

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Kleinfeld, NYC

So, seeing as this was probably the best day of my life, and I am getting so many questions about it, I figured I would share all about my Kelinfeld Bridal experience via blog post!

I have been watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ with my mom for years, so when I got engaged she knew this is where we had to go for the dress. She surprised me around by birthday with this trip- and I was so so excited!

After we booked the trip, we found out Hayley Paige would be at the store that day launching her Fall 2019 collection. Seeing as Hayley Paige is one of my favorite bridal designers, I was so excited she would be there!! (Not to mention, she responded to my message on Instagram and chatted with me about when we would be there!)

We flew into NYC, saw some sights, and the next day it was the day! Arriving at Kleinfeld’s literally felt like I was watching myself in the show. Every first impression from walking through those doors, to checking in, to waiting in the waiting area was surreal! As we waited, we saw so many familiar faces walking by us (Shay, Randy’s mom, Diane, Ally, Lisa!!!)

As it came time for the next round of brides to head into the salon, consultants started to come out and call our names one by one. I didn’t recognize any of the consultants coming out to get their brides- but eventually I was the only one left! Cue *last kid to get picked for kickball at recess feeling* lol! I was kind of like “what the heck where is MY consultant?!” for a moment. Then, Diane came out. I(f you don’t watch the show- Diane is the God of Kleinfeld.) My mom looked at me and jokingly said “what if Diane is your consultant?!”

Next thing I know, Diane was coming towards me saying “Jennifer? I will be your consultant today!”

I. Literally. Died.

I was worried my experience at Kleinfeld would almost feel like a “watered down” version of the show. Not true. My mom was sat on the blue velvet couches in the center of the salon, with our own area for me to come out to the mirror at… just like on the show!

Next, Diane walked me around the salon and we looked at dresses, pointing out what I liked and didn’t like. I mentioned to her I was very interested in Hayley Paige dresses, so we started there!

When I came out in the first dress, a Hayley Paige that had just been released that day, it felt so surreal to be standing on the step in the middle of Kleinfeld’s in a wedding dress! But- things got better.

Next thing I know, Hayley Paige was running up to me saying “my dress! my dress!” She hugged me right away, and was complementing the style… she was legit so nice! She asked me all kinds of questions about my style, and even gushed over my engagement ring (100 points to Justin). CRAZIER: as I told her about what I liked in dresses, she grabbed her iPhone and started flipping through her camera roll showing me some of her new designs that haven’t even been created yet!

So, we went on trying on some dresses, all of which were amazing of course! I won’t share if I “Said Yes to the Dress”… but I will tell you there were lots of tears either way!

It was crazy seeing myself in a gown… and even crazier when Diane insisted we try on a veil as well. Its so cliche… but I swear the second she set that cathedral length veil on my head I lost it! I was just staring at myself thinking “Wow. I am MARRYING my best friend, the most amazing guy I know…” it was honestly such an emotional moment. Even other people around us started crying seeing how worked up I was lol!

Overall, Kleinfled’s truly treats each and every women that steps into that salon like a princess. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, or consultant (I mean… DIANE! It still doesn’t feel real that I spent 2 hours with a Kleinfeld legend). Meeting Hayley Paige and chatting with her was probably the highlight of my 25 years of life.

So, if you are engaged I highly recommend making a girls weekend out of it, and heading to NYC to the most well known bridal salon in the world! It was truly 2 hours of my life I will never, ever forget and am so thankful for.

Now if you need me, I’ll be watching STYTD re-runs for the rest of time.