The Top 10 Things for Couples to Do in Washington, DC

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Image: Beau Considine via Flickr

Guys! I am SO excited today to be sharing a post I created in partnership with the fine folks at Expedia.com, we teamed up to showcase the coolest things to do in DC on a romantic weekend or honeymoon! Now I know most of my readers here are DC area locals, so though you might not be honeymooning here (though, staycations can be SO awesome and budget-friendly!), the post will give you some ideas for a fun weekend adventure with your partner.

But for everyone else outside of DC, we’ve got the ultimate top 10 places to see in Washington, D.C. for a honeymoon or a romantic getaway. Just in case you never thought DC would be a cool honeymoon location, I’m about to prove you wrong.

Top 10 Things for Couples to Do in DC

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Image: Eugene L Meyer for the New York Times (left) | Atlantic Plumbing Facebook (right)

1) Shop at The Shay & Atlantic Plumbing

Within the neighborhood some media sources refer to as “North End Shaw”, there lies a new and awesome place to shop. Two buildings built this past year, are home to local Washington DC makers and top International clothing & accessory brands. So skip the typical shopping destination that some might point you to (ahem, Georgetown, or worse, Tyson’s Corner) and head to S & T Street NW, just north of the Shaw Metro Stop or a quick walk from the U Street Metro Stop.

You’ll find: Kit & Ace, Warby Parker, Chrome Industries, Frank & Oak, and more at The Shay. You’ll find: Cherry Blossom Creative, Typecase Industries, Foundry Interior, & Bazaar Spices at Atlantic Plumbing.

And probably more stuff by the time this post is published.

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Image: Morgan H. West for A Creative DC

2) Visit Funky Art Collectives/Studios (The Lemon Bowl, Lab 1270, Off the Beaten Track Warehouse, Brewmaster Studios, Monroe Street Arts Walk)

Art studios and collectives seem to be popping up all over the city. These places where artists, makers, and curators, come together to share space, creativity, and inspiration, and sell their goodies or run workshops too!.  Our list below vary in size, type of makers available, and location – they’re all over our fine city. Here are my favorite collectives and some of the fine creatives you can locate there:

The Lemon Bowl  – Sill Life, Katthryn Zaremba, Linny Giffin Jewelry, & more (they host workshops too!) | Lab 1270 – Niko & Ava Kidswear, Time Off, Thursday Boot Co, Guerilla Vending & more | Off the Beaten Track Warehouse – Highway 2 Hill Flowers, WoodInspire, District Clay, Grey Moggie Press & a TON more | Brewmaster Studios – Matine, Mallory Shelter Jewelry, Sea Heart City Press, & more | Monroe Street Arts Walk – Stitch & Rivet, Wildhands Workspace, Analog & more

3) Catch an indie flick at our Indie Movie Theaters

In case it rains, or you’re looking for somewhere to rest your tired feet (seriously DC is SO walkable and bikeable) check out one of our “indie” cinemas. The original is E Street Cinema, downtown, but we also have Angelika Theater in NE DC and Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema too.

4) Visit Art Spaces like Renwick Gallery or Blind Whino

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Image: Gerry Suchy as seen on Curbed DC

Though the Corcoran was sold in melded into the National Gallery of Art, DC has some seriously cool (and fairly new) art spaces to check out while you are here. My current favorites are Renwick Gallery and Blind Whino.

5) Stay at Mason & Rook or Embassy Row Hotel

One of the nice things about honeymooning in DC is that you can typically (unless there’s a massive event, or it’s Cherry Blossom Season) find a hotel to stay at for well under what it costs to stay in The Big Apple. We have a LOT of hotel options (which Expedia or Priceline or other websites will show you) but I have two recommendations if you are looking to stay somewhere centrally located and in more of a hip, boutique space.

Check out the Embassy Row Hotel in Dupont Circle – for it’s awesome interior design, and interior paintings by local street artist, Kelly Towles, or stay at the newly renovated Mason & Rook (formerly Hotel Helix, but now Illuminati-themed), that will leave you a very short walk to a ton of restaurants and night-light on 14th street in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

6) Discover and enjoy delicious desserts with a “Sweet Tooth Tour”

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Though you probably know about DC’s infamous cupcake storefront thanks to that TLC show, we have so much more to offer in terms of local sweets & treats. Take your partner or loved ones on a “sweet tooth tour” stopping at some of my favorite non-cupcake treat shops:

Rare Sweets, Dolcezzo Gelato Lab & Coffee Factory, Pie Sisters, Frenchies (find them at Maketto), Pleasant Pops, and Ice Cream Jubilee (to name a few!)

7) Brewery & Distillery Hop

DC’s Brewery & Distillery scene is ever-growing, thanks to some brave entreprenuers finally changing DC’s prohibition era laws on brewing and selling in the District. We’ve got websites that specialize on our breweries and distilleries, but my favorites to check out are:

Beer: Atlas Brew Works, DC Brau, Right Proper | Liquor: Green Hat, One Eight Distilling, Jos A Magnus & Co.

8) EAT ALL THE THINGS

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 Image: TPW via Flickr

DC’s restaurant scene has been and continues to be exploding in recent years (in a good way). Eat at Rose’s Luxury, eat at Toki Underground and/or Maketto, eat at any Mike Isabella Concepts restaurant, eat at The Red Hen … Ok, this could be an entire post – so I’ll let my readers continue to post their favorite food spots in the comments.

9) View & Taste Local Food and Drink Makers

To celebrate (and support!) all the local food & drink makers in DC, markets and storefronts have popped up that sell completely local goodies. These places would be easy ways to hit multiple DC food & drink makers, in one stop. Check out: Glen’s Gardner Market, Union Kitchen Grocery, & Union Market.

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Image: Kims World of Art on Flickr

10) OK Fine, Do Some Touristy Stuff

One of the best things about vacationing or honeymooning in DC is how much stuff you can do FOR FREE. Most of the main “tourist” attractions of Washington, DC (The Monument, The Mall, The Capitol Building, etc) are free. As are the Smithsonian Museums AND the Zoo (plus we’ve got PANDAS). Personally, I love Archives & the DC War Memorial (a great place for a picnic). The African American History Museum also just opened!

And just in case I missed anything – sound off in the comments below on any other “MUST DO” things for couples in DC!

*this post is in partnership with Expedia.com for Capitol Romance. Capitol Romance was compensated to create & share this content on this blog, however, it was verified that this content was confirmed to meet its requirements and mission*

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Corina & Ben’s Intimate, DIY Wedding in Maryland

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Photographer: Jonah Koch for MBK Photography via Two Bright Lights

Happy Friday Romancers!! Another week has come to an end, and with it (like most weeks) I wonder where the time went and I feel like I have so much to do. I wasn’t the best at blogging this week, but I did finally make it out to an “Art Club” meet-up last night with two fantabulous DC artists/designers. It’s so inspiring to meet freelance artists that create such beautifully creative and unique pieces. Though it didn’t help my to-do list, it certainly helped my mind & soul a bit. Also my belly – because we had THE MOST DELICIOUS wine & cheese during our discussion. We are NJ/PA bound for the weekend first thing tomorrow for some family time & a baby shower! Hope you guys have a great one too! Enjoy this super sweet, vintage-inspired (with a TON of DIY details) Maryland wedding for today!

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I didn’t want the wedding to be one-sided. Too often weddings tend to be about the bride, which misses the point. It’s about the marriage and the union of two people and I wanted it to be a nice balance that satisfied my husband.

We chose the venue because it was financial feasible and it worked out aesthetically. We decided on a tea ceremony – something very common in my culture – and cramped everyone in our tiny apartment, which made it ever so much more intimate.

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I’m not sure I accomplished my goal but I was going for a noir bridal themed wedding. I like my designs clean cut and uncluttered. Black and white were the tones I naturally gravitated towards and red embodied cultural significance for me and my family. I designed a wedding grocery bag because weddings tend to give away useless trinkets. I wanted to give people things they could use while reminding them of our wedding.

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We met at Duke University as undergraduates. We since have endured a 7-year long-distance relationship. At one point I was serving in the US Peace Corps in Samoa in the South Pacific and he was serving in Iraq in the military. We were able to skype during that year – pretty incredible technology feat.

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Nowhere in my wedding did I include flowers. If you can afford them, flowers can be a great accent. With my go big or go home attitude if I wasn’t going to saturate my whole wedding with flowers I wasn’t going to include them at all. Also, like I said previously, I wanted a balanced wedding that wasn’t too feminine.

I enjoy wedding planning/ designing and as I lived far from my family, I did most of the pre-wedding work myself. I also managed to squeeze out some help from my husband, much to his protest.

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I made the backdrop to the stage where the musicians played. While any bystander would have written the streamers off, those designs took three whole months to complete by myself. My brother, a concept designer from California, designed the backdrop of my dessert table – probably one of the most notable designs in the wedding.

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Vol 5: The Real Life of a Mompreneur – Navigating Maternity Leave as a Small Business Owner

View More: http://rachellynphotography.pass.us/steenhoek

Images: Rachel Lyn Photography

We’re back with another super amazing guest post in our #Momprenuer series (Vol1, Vol2, Vol3 Vol4, if you missed them!). Today we have Lori from Love, Lori Michelle (one of my ABSOLUTE favorite jewelry designers in DC) sharing her journey into motherhood and what that meant for taking maternity leave as a small business owner. I’ve continually told anyone (that listens to me) that I feel lucky that my day job allowed me to take 4 solid months of PAID leave. I know I shouldn’t feel lucky, as that should be a basic human right in our civilized nation, not luck – but for small business owners in our country, maternity leave is …. well, non-existent. Lori is here to share her personal experience of how she managed, and what she would have done differently (so listen up all you pregnant or maybe someday pregnant small biz owners!). Take it away Lori.

 Hi! Iʼm Lori, a longtime reader of Capitol Romance and one of Breeʼs neighbors in NE, DC. Bree asked if Iʼd be willing to share some of my thoughts on maternity leave as a small business owner, so here goes…

For the past five years, I have run two small business out of my home. Iʼm a 3D-artist and owner of Capital Pixel, a design company that specializes in architectural visualization for real estate marketing — the “day job” as I like to call it. And, as my creative outlet, I design and sell custom, 3D-printed jewelry at Love, Lori Michelle. Both of these ventures are run by just myself, and I love the freedom and autonomy that provides.

When you work for yourself, in addition to just doing the actual work that needs to get done, you have to wear all the other business-related hats as well: accountant, bookkeeper, administrative assistant, web designer, social media guru, and so on. And this is something I wholly embrace, the chance to control every aspect of what I do. On occasion, when my workload gets overwhelming, I have several connections (other artists like myself) that I can call upon for hourly contract work. Itʼs a great way for me to meet deadlines and still get everything done, and I pay for the work on an as-needed basis without having to hire a full-time employee, since Iʼm just not quite there just yet.


When I found out I was pregnant in 2013, I was ecstatic, nervous, excited, all the emotions you would expect rolled into one. The preparations began as most new parents-to-be would do: painting the nursery, stocking up on diapers, and buying too many pairs of ridiculously cute baby shoes.

But then the thought of maternity leave and child-care logistics began to weigh down on me as we got closer to my due date. Luckily my husbandʼs company had a 2-week paternity leave policy, and we had lots of family nearby to help with the arrival of our baby girl.

But I felt stuck. And worried. Could I afford to be out of work for several months? Who was going to run my business? There wasnʼt, and still isnʼt, another single person who knows the ins-and-outs of my work and could keep things afloat for me once the baby arrived. What was maternity leave actually going to look like for me? I had never really thought that far ahead.

The funny irony is that, when I told friends and family (and even clients) I was pregnant, so many responses went like this: “Congratulations! Thatʼs so exciting. And itʼs SO lucky for you to be able to work from home with the baby.” I would usually smile and nod my head in agreement, but I felt like screaming inside “It doesnʼt work like that!!!”.

One myth Iʼd like to dispel is that working from home does not imply that someone is necessarily under-employed, part-time employed, or just sitting around having fun without being required to shower. Sure, I have a busy times and slow times, just like everyone does, but on average Iʼm putting in 50-hour+ weeks. In fact, I think that most people who work from home actually work longer and harder hours to get ahead, build a business, or be an entrepreneur. Can I work in my pajamas? Yes. Are my hours flexible? Definitely. Can I still crank out 50 hour work weeks while caring for a child? Absolutely not. Itʼs no different than asking someone who works in a traditional office to care for a baby while at work. The only difference is the location.

So while parental leave is a hot-button topic these days, I felt like I had nowhere to chime into the discussion. On one hand, Iʼm lucky that I could theoretically take as much time off as I needed, but financially that wasnʼt an option and for the growth of my companies that wasnʼt an option. Plus, I wanted to keep working. Iʼm also lucky that I have a spouse that is employed with a steady source of income. Where would I be if I were a single mother?

On the other hand, I donʼt have a job with coworkers and a support network of colleagues who could cover my workload. I felt like I was in uncharted territory. As more people become self-employed it will be interesting to see how parental leave policies will or wonʼt affect this sector of the workforce.

So, my plan was to take 3 months off work to be home with my daughter. In June 2014, with about a month left to go in my pregnancy, I sent an email out to my longtime clients informing them of my leave, my need to wrap up loose ends on ongoing projects, and that I wouldnʼt be taking on new work until the fall. My hands were shaking as I wrote
and re-wrote the wording in that email until it felt right. Somehow, it felt like my pregnancy was a problem, that I was saying sorry, and that I wasnʼt making myself available enough to carry on my business and bring a baby into the world at the same time. There were also some new work inquiries coming in during that time that I just had
to flat out turn down. That was incredibly hard for me to swallow. I had worked so hard to build something up, and I felt like I was suddenly burying it.


 

Lyla was born on July 11, and she was perfect. I loved becoming a mother, it was the wildest thing Iʼd ever done in my life. We were so excited to bring her home and introduce her to everyone. When she was born, she looked just like her daddy. Over the summer, I continued to answer work emails. I got a few small work-related things done every week while Lyla would nap. The first month passed in a blur. Then slowly the emails and work requests started to trickle back in. Clients forgot that I was still on maternity leave. More new work requests came in and things just slowly pickedback up until I was suddenly going full steam ahead again, earlier than intended. It just happened, I had a really hard time saying “No, this has to wait.”

At two and a half months, we put Lyla into a nanny share with another child and family. It all happened faster than I had planned. I think any mother would agree that maternity leave whizzes by, no matter how long you have, itʼs never enough. Now that Lyla is 18 months and I can look back, I realize that many things went differently than I had planned. So, here’s what I’d do next time (with the caveat/disclaimer that any “mom” advice of thoughts you read, including mind, don’t work for everyone!):

1. Not feel guilty about taking maternity leave. I just wouldnʼt. End of story. For some reason our society applauds the overworking-and-doing-it-all mentality. It just doesnʼt have to be that way, and it starts with each individual. I wish I didnʼt buy into that feeling of having to keep it all going and under control. Especially as a woman running a small business, I felt like staying away too long would make me lose too much and look like a failure. Now, I realize I donʼt get a do-over.

2. Be more vocal. Iʼd be more honest with friends and family about the working/child care situation. People should know that itʼs impossible to work from home full-time and care for a child at the same time. We shouldnʼt even expect that as a reality from any parent.

3. Accept help, both at work and home. Itʼs ok to rely on friends who want to bring you food and family members who want to snuggle your baby. Going forward, Iʼve tried to accept that I canʼt do everything myself. Iʼve hired an accountant and a web designer to help lighten my work load.

4. Give myself a break. Early-on I had major FOMO on industry events and hated the thought of turning down invitations. Itʼs ok to miss out on work-related things. Those who know you will welcome you back with open arms when you return.

5. Realize who really matters. I was worried about my clients not understanding my need to take maternity leave. In retrospect, people were far more understanding than I thought theyʼd be. And if they werenʼt, they were not the kind of client I wanted to have anyways. Many clients even willingly shared their own stories about their kids and families, which humanized the whole experience for me.

6. Plan better financially. Itʼs a possibility that any of us could be out of work at any time, whether for having a child, an unexpected injury, whatever. I would have felt more at ease had I started planning a little earlier to have several months of income reserved for the time I had to take off.

In the end, both my businesses continue to grow. Lyla continues to grow, as well, and I donʼt see that either part of my life — as business owner or mother — has suffered too greatly. In fact, they now just feed off each other. My daughter makes me want to build a bigger and better business so that, when sheʼs older, she can see how hard I work at the things Iʼm passionate about. And in the meantime, it will help me afford to continue buying ALL the baby shoes for her.

Sohie & Kos’ Washington DC Engagement Pictures at the National Gallery of Art

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Image: Megan Noonan Photography via Two Bright Lights

What a little tease this weekend was, right? I took Evie on a nice long walk on Saturday, sans coat, and we played, OUTDOORS, at a playground down on The Hill. In February. But I’ve been here long enough to know that DC’s winter is far from over. We all know we’ll be getting a snow storm in March. However, I’ll take Saturday’s weather whenever I can get it, and revel in the fact that Spring will be here before we know it. Today’s engagement session has me feeling all the Spring vibes too (short dresses! Tulips!). And minus this is it a cold or is it allergies, crap I have been dealing with since last week, I really can’t wait for Spring. But for now, I’ll enjoy this session:

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DC will always have a special place in our hearts; it is where we first met and where our relationship took off. With every weekend neighborhood excursion, we fell more in love with the District as we did with each other. DC became the home of our relationship so it seemed only fitting for it to be the site of our engagement session and future wedding. Besides, DC is so pretty! So much to see and explore!

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We met on match.com and our first date was at The Codmother on U Street. Sohie wasn’t particularly excited about it and arranged a back up plan with her sister in case the date didn’t go well. But six hours later, the conversation was still flowing, spilling over from dinner to desserts and drinks. We spoke of food, family, our travels, our career goals; our values. It wasn’t love at first sight but the connection was instant and strong and we knew we had something special.

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Introducing (Officially) the Capitol Romance Wedding Planner – Now on Sale!

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Images: Maggie with Pop! Wed Co.

Though you might have seen our huge news on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or maybe you noticed the images & links within our blog banner, this is the first OFFICIAL announcement of the Capitol Romance Wedding Planner here on the blog. We wanted to see how the first run of sales went AND we wanted to get some nice, professional pictures of the planner to properly market it. And so here we are!

The first run of 11 planners sold out within 2 weeks and I was so excited! It’s always nice to have something you worked REALLLLY long and hard on, be so well received! So we’re back, with another small batch of planners (still in hot pink for this run!) and to celebrate the official launch, we’ve got all the details, a gorgeous peak at the insides, AND we’re giving one away to one lucky reader (Scroll to bottom to enter)!

Buy the Planner!

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The Capitol Romance Wedding Planner was an idea that came to my mind during my attendance at The Blogcademy. I thought, man from blogging about weddings for 5 years, and now starting my 4th year of wedding coordination, I sure know a heck of a lot about how to plan and execute a practical wedding. I LOVE helping to keep my clients sane, organized, and void of stress and I’d love to be able to share all of this with more than just my clients – but how the heck do I do that?

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Boom. Take what I’ve learned, what I tell my clients, and some of the tools & resources I’ve already created, and have a kick-ass, local DC design company, design it into a beautiful, 3-ring binder (with tabs, pockets, and more). Enter Typecase Industries. One email and these ladies were set and it was an instant spark of excitement, imagination, and planning. MONTHS (I’m telling you MONTHS) of emails, meetings, drafts, edits, excitement, more edits, trials, errors, and finally, last December the planner was in my hands. And it was magical.

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So what’s this planner all about, you might ask? Well let me tell you:

  • A recycled (eco-friendly!) binder kicks things off, to keep the planner light but sturdy
  • The cover options are ah-mazing, designed by Rexmake, and soon to be available in different colors
  • Tabs for the different sections helps to keep all the wedding planning documents you will amass, organized and easy to find
  • Pages to doodle, dream, take notes, and capture all of your planning ideas
  • Questions to ask each of the vendors you meet with, specific to their vendor area
  • An entire page (seen above) devoted to my favorite & top tips, tricks, and secrets, for helping to plan your wedding
  • Budget & Calendar templates to help you track costs, deposits, and final payments in both a budget list and Calendar view
  • Our custom Capitol Romance Wedding Planning Timeline & Checklist – that one of my clients said, “is definitely the best/most useful timeline we’ve seen.”
  • AND SO MUCH MORE (you’ll just have to buy one to find out!)

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So to celebrate the official launch of the planner here on the blog today, I thought it might be fun to offer one up for free to one lucky reader! Use the rafflecopter widget, leave us a blog comment on why you’d like to win one, and share on Facebook & Twitter for extra chances at winning (easy, peasey).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you just can’t wait until the giveaway ends next Friday, February 26th, go get your copy now while our 2nd batch lasts! Available to ship anywhere in the US of A!

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DIY Workshop Recap: Photostyling 101 with Lauren Louise Photography

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Images: Photos from the Harty

The first District Bliss DIY Workshop was last month and it was a HUGE success (it sold out!). Attendees got to meet and learn from Lauren Louise Photography on how to create beautiful images for their business. Lauren touched on exposure, lighting, and how to style their pictures to up their social media and website promo shot game. For a TON more information on Photo 101, check out Lauren’s blog post here. And now for the gorgeous images from the workshop (check out those Dip Dyed Pink tablecloths – UM LOVE). Stay tuned as well for information on the next District Bliss Workshop!

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Gretchen & Sean’s Blizzard Wedding at George Washington Masonic Memorial in Old Town Alexandria

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Images: Jon Fleming Photography

I recently listened to Episode 4 of the Put a Ring On It Podcast, all about bad weather on your wedding day. The guests on the show had survived REALLY bad weather, like hurricane and blizzard weather, and still lived to tell the tale (and still got married!). So while I type this post with rain pouring against my window (like so much rain!) I can’t help but think how if it stayed cold, this would have been another crazy snow storm! And that makes today’s real wedding feature, pretty appropriate – as they got married during the DC Blizzard last month. The couple provides some awesome advice and input into facing severe weather on your wedding weekend. They also included Harry Potter winks … which, we all know how I feel about that. So let’s get to it – there’s SO many gorgeous winter wedding & gold themed details in this one. Enjoy.

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“The week before Winter Storm Jonas hit, most people were making emergency trips to Trader Joe’s, purchasing extra snow shovels from Home Depot, and waiting in line to fill up their gas tanks. Me? I was preparing to get married.

Yep, the wedding I’d been meticulously planning for the better part of a year fell smack dab in the middle of the worst blizzard DC has seen in many, many years. But thanks to my family, wedding party, and quite a few seriously amazing wedding vendors, I was still able to marry the love of my life and had an absolutely magical night!

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Sadly, but completely understandably, many guests were unable to attend the wedding on Saturday night. But between family and out-of-town guests who were staying at a hotel very closer to our venue, as well as a couple of EXTREMELY brave souls who did travel locally to attend, we still ended up partying it up with well over half of our guests!

Our hair & makeup vendors canceled on us, so bridesmaids and friends jumped in to make sure we all got our hair done (my bridesmaid Holly did my hair beautifully!), and I did my own makeup. The DJ was also unfortunately unable to make it, but had set up his sound equipment the day before, so between my brother and the Best Man pinch-hitting as DJs and a friend stepping in as MC, we were still able to party it up!

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My wedding vision was to have an elegant, formal wedding with an Old Hollywood vibe, a few subtle Harry Potter references (HP being my true love… after Sean, of course), and lots of personal touches. Our venue was the gorgeous and historic George Washington Masonic Memorial in Old Town Alexandria, and their dedication to shoveling, plowing, and sweeping the snow throughout Friday and Saturday was the #1 reason our wedding was still able to take place as planned.

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I DIY’d quite a bit of stuff for the wedding, including painting all of the glasses and bottles for our centerpieces, hand-folding and stringing 1,000 paper cranes for our ceremony backdrop, carving a cardbox out of all 7 Harry Potter books, making brooch flowers for our bouquets, making cake stands for the dessert bar out of thrifted plates and glasses, turning old picture frames into chalkboard signs, and hot-gluing wings to our Ferrero Rocher favors to turn them into golden snitches. And more! I went a little crazy with the DIY, but I love crafting and wanted to insert tons of personality and personal touches into our big day.

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READ MORE FOR THE REST OF SEAN & GRETCHEN’S DIY, WINTER WEDDING (INCLUDING ALL THE SUPER AWESOME HARRY POTTER WEDDING DETAILS!)

Vol 4: The Real Life of a Mompreneur – Mom Brain is Real (& How I Cope With It)

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Image: Maggie with Pop! Wed Co

This week felt long! Not entirely sure why. Maybe there is just a lot going on this week (and continuing into the weekend – did you get your Harper Macaw #BiteMeDC tickets yet?!) and the craziness of my day job is causing long days. I don’t know, but I am especially excited it’s Friday and happy to be sharing another #momprenuer post on the blog today.

In case you are new to the blog, or these posts, you can read Vol 1, Vol 2, and Vol 3, each capturing one small facet of what it’s like to attempt to juggle running your own business and being a mother, without completely going crazy. And since I haven’t gotten any “please stop blogging about being a momprenuer” emails yet, I’ll continue to share them. They’re therapeutic to me, hopefully helpful to others, and maybe even a bit entertaining for all you non-parents out there.

For today I wanted to tackle “mom brain”. I had a rather easy pregnancy and though everyone loved to throw the “baby brain” phrase around (a term given to the mind fog some pregnant women get), I never really got it. I was able to perform and remember all my differing job duties while pregnant, and never really felt that my brain felt less than. I never really got the having to pee every 10 seconds thing either, but that’s another story.

So because I never got baby brain, there was a large part of me that thought I would also be immune to “mom brain“. And for a while I was almost scoffing at moms that used the baby and mom brain “excuse”, thinking there was little reality to the phrases and was just another mommy-blog word some women used to heighten their position as a mom.

Boy was I wrong.

When I went back to my day job and Evie started day-care, everything changed. My brain & memory went from functioning like it normally did, down to like 50%. I couldn’t remember simple tasks. I couldn’t remember people’s names (worse than usual). I’d start talking and mid sentence my brain would go POOF and I would stop, at a complete loss for where I was going with that sentence. Or my favorite, I’d say a word that made almost no sense, or had no correlation to what I actually meant to say. Something like: “Hey can someone help me with this … kalidescope?” When I really meant to ask for help with hanging curtains.

So yes, Mom Brain is real, but it’s not some inexplicable thing, thanks to this post I saw online (thanks Reddit!), there is a perfectly good reason why it’s real. You now have an entire new job and PERSON to worry and think and remember things for, and there just isn’t that much space capacity in your mind and memory. And so other things get pushed out … like words, and names, and tasks. Here is the image. A husband asked his wife to draw what she was thinking about …. this about sums it up:

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Image: Stephen Bridges / Via imgur.com / via Buzzfeed

So this isn’t exactly the best thing to have when you are running a small business, working a day job, co-parenting a child, and still trying to keep your partner & marriage a priority in your life. No, it’s not ideal, but it is a reality and so there’s things I’ve had to do to help myself and these 3 things are ones I will happily share with any new momprenuers out there (or really anyone who is feeling so overwhelmed that their brain can no longer hold all the things).

#1. Admit You Have It

I think the easiest first step is to admit that you have a problem. (Duh, thanks captain obvious). But really, for me, this was crucial. As I mentioned earlier, I really did think “Baby/Mom Brain” was made-up and it took me a while to admit and realize that no, it’s real and my brain is suffering from “Mom Brain” and I need to do something about it.

#2. Write Things Down

Again, another super easy/obvious thing – but again, something I failed to do initially (and to be completely honest, am still failing at). I am a total list lover, but pre-Evie I could remember things pretty easily and didn’t always need to write things down when it came to life activities, or even for my wedding coordination clients. Suddenly I was forgetting that the couple changed just the card table linen, or we agreed to put the DJ across from his original setup location and that is not ok and not how you run a business. And so I write. I take notes, I write lists, I use both an electronic AND paper day planners and I write the second it is told to me. Because otherwise, if I wait even a few seconds to write it down, my brain has already filled that space with something else and I will completely forget.

#3. Ask For Help

A final, (and again) seemingly obvious piece of advice, but one that was (and still is) super hard for me to do. Being a Type A, planner-of-all-things, I am used to being the person that people go to for help. I am used to having everything under control and used to (mostly) managing it on my own. That was all pre-Evie of course. Now there is just TOO MUCH to do. Though she’s not yet a year, and not yet 20 pounds, she requires SO. MUCH. STUFF. Yesterday, I completely forgot to bring clothes down to the nanny for her (even though I mentally told myself 3 times that morning to grab clothes!) so she stayed in her PJs all day (yeah, I’m jealous too). Had I just asked my husband 1 of the 3 times I thought about the clothes, to grab them, it would have happened. And I know this is a silly example (having your kid in PJs all day is not a real issue), but I am constantly overwhelmed with all the things going on, and when I brim over and my frustration comes out in a curt comment to my husband, he kindly responds with, “Babe, all you have to do is ask.”. Simple truth, but something I am still struggling at doing.

So there you have it – my personal experience with “mom brain” and how I am trying to deal with it. If you’ve got any other tips, I’d LOVE to hear them. Happy Friday all.

Uzair & Kaire’s Blizzard Anniversary Pictures and Marriage Reflection

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Images: Red October Photography

Ok I know the blizzard was overkill, but I was a little disappointed this week when DC only got cold rain instead of a small amount of snow. I think I’d take one more decent snow dump before the winter season is through, just me? Well in case you’d rather reminisce through pictures and not REAL snow, I have an adorable anniversary session for you today (with some rather frank and hilarious marriage & wedding planning advice from the couple featured).

The photographer shares, “Uzair and Kaire are coming up on their second anniversary and last year we did the shoot in the Spring, so this year wanted to take advantage of a different season. We had so much fun not being rushed or limited to time and just walking around empty streets of Alexandria.”

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The best thing about being married/together:

Burping and farting with no consequences. (Uzair) To always have your partner in crime next to me, he supports me but also brings me down to earth when I have my crazy moments. (Kaire)

The hardest thing to learn after getting married/being together:

Finding tampons in my glove compartment with a Britney Spears cd, explain that to your single friends. (Uzair). The beginning of living together, have to get used to the habits I was unaware of before :D Socks all over the place etc. (Kaire)

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Any advice to couples that are getting married/in new relationships:

When he/she is the one, fight for it, with your life . You will know this when you see yourself phasing your friends out and family . That ” oh she’s always with him” or ” man I wish he was here but he has a gf”. This is a sign that you are moving forward and they’re not . Remember, UNDERSTANDING between you and your spouse/gf is the key. As long as you know that you are good for each other, no one can change that perspective. (Uzair) I think Uzair gave a good one :) (Kaire)

Our biggest regret from our wedding day:

The hangover and the high was real. (Uzair) Since we haven had a huge wedding yet, I can’t say we have any. I wish Uzair had not shaved his beard for the Courthouse wedding :D (Kaire)

If we got married all over, we would have done ____ differently:

So far we have been married twice : in court and in a mosque. It’s safe to say that we both agree on a destination wedding, maybe on a vineyard in Spain (Uzair). Have a bigger party! (Kaire)

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