the wedding chronicles | decisions #25 – #32

for those of you who over the past year have been keeping up with the wedding chronicles, you might have wondered where i went for the past couple of months.  well, i went right into the busiest part of wedding planning, that’s where i was!  as such i neglected my posts but am choosing to catch up now.  and even though we are now happily married (for two whole weeks in fact – wooh!), better late than never.  🙂  thank you for joining us on this journey!

decision #25 – the engagement session

after we decided on our photographers for the wedding, the next step with them was to schedule our engagement session.  now, i originally had no desire whatsoever to do an engagement photo shoot, and many of you probably are asking “why?”  well, i personally have never loved getting my photo taken, and the thought of being dragged around for hours and being placed and posed for lovey-dovey photos by someone we don’t know sounded quite undesirable in all honesty.  however, many former brides in my life told me that my reasons for not wanting an engagement session are the reasons exactly why we should have an engagement session.  come again?

see, everyone’s logic (that i ended up accepting as truth after going through it all myself) was that the engagement session is an opportunity to get comfortable with your photographers and start getting to know them.  after all, they do follow you around your entire wedding day, so developing a relationship with them isn’t a bad idea.  another reason an engagement session is worth the while is because it provides a chance for you and your significant other to get used to being all “lovey-dovey” in front of a camera and having someone there to capture that moment.  okay, i guess i can get on board with that reason as well.  and the final reason?  well, for us it was included in the cost, so why the heck not.

so back in november one early saturday morning we met up with our main photographer lisa at ponce city market.  pcm wasn’t too crowded just yet, so lisa worked with us quickly to take advantage of the typically busy and bustling scenery.  the first several photos on the staircase, as it would turn out, were a bit awkward.  i more so than phillip really didn’t understand how to pose and be cuddly with someone else there, and i wasn’t crazy about the first probably 20 photos in the portfolio, which is exactly what worried me in the first place.

thankfully, though, i’d say we hit a better spot as we walked along the beltline and acted more naturally towards each other.  those photos i could look at all day.

and then we had some more close-up, intimate shots now that we were in a bit of a groove.  i think phillip favored these more than me, but i’ll admit there are several i do like.

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my absolute favorites are from when after we had an outfit change and were now really enjoying ourselves.  mm, what a good looking pair!

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all in all, i’d say that even though i was first very skeptical about the engagement session, phillip and our photographer helped me see the value and fun in it.  and even though i wasn’t too sure about the results at first, i have come to love these high quality results and the sweet moments they captured.

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the wedding chronicles | decisions #23 and #24

THE REGISTRY & THE WEBSITE

as you may already know, phillip and i have big plans for our honeymoon in punta cana, and considering we are in major crunch mode (only twelve days to go!), the thought of being on a beach with a margarita and guacamole within reach is sounding utterly divine.  now, although all our family and friends won’t necessarily be joining us on the honeymoon, many of you are still a part of it because of your generous contributions to our honeyfund, and we cannot thank you enough!

now, there may be some folks out there who are unfamiliar with exactly what a honeyfund is.  well, a honeyfund is a great traditional registry alternative for those couples who either already have everything they need or simply want to be a bit unique.  i first heard about a honeyfund when my cousin kate married kenny last year, and what you can do is donate funds to their dream honeymoon.  kenny and kate are currently on a northwestern roadtrip of california, oregon, and washington and, as i understand, are having a fabulous time.  so, instead of needing new pots or pans or plates, for example, guests could donate money to, say, their gas fund for the trip or maybe a night in a nice hotel.  kinda make sense?

well, if any of you know phillip and me, you know that our condo is pretty much filled to the brim with everything we need.  as a couple in their late 20s and having lived together for over two years, we’ve acquired many of the home goods that are necessary in our lives.  as such, i was quite hesitant to get the price gun out and start shooting up all sorts of random knick knacks and kitchen tools at the local department store.  now, the wedding, the registry, and certainly the marriage are not only all about me, so phillip and i had several discussions and eventually were able to compromise in this regard.

first, he was fond of the idea of still registering for some actual gifts.  so, we took two sundays to visit the local bed bath & beyond store and build a registry that i think and hope is not too demanding or over-the-top.  we tried very hard to be practical but also kept in mind that certain items could be added to the list since we hope to be a growing family sometime in the future.  and even though it isn’t easy for me to ask people for gifts, eventually i was able to agree that a registry is a convenient opportunity to upgrade some older items.

after completing our traditional registry, phillip also spun up our honeyfund site where our guests, if they feel so inclined, can contribute any amount to our honeymoon in the dominican republic.  although “writing a check” may not feel as personal to our guests, believe me when i say phillip and i are just as appreciative of this kind of gift.  we will certainly be in desperate need of fun and relaxation after all the planning and preparation, and we couldn’t do it without you all.

after phillip created the site with the basic information, he asked if i’d like to update it with all sorts of fun and interesting facts, like where phillip and i met, how he proposed, how i said “yes,” who our bridesmaids are, who our groomsmen are, so on and so forth.  i paused in contemplation and then as politely as i could i replied, “you know, we’ve got so much else to do for the wedding.  can we put that on the ‘b’ list of to-do items?”  i think phillip could hear what i wasn’t explicitly stating (which was that embellishing our honeyfund site was very low on my priority list), and so he thankfully took it upon himself to add a few details about the wedding, update the template to something tropical, and call it a day.  in my opinion, sometimes less is more and i am grateful i have a partner who can help me focus on the things that are most important.  🙂

the wedding chronicles | decision #18

THE HONEYMOON

Hello!  Phillip Davis here.  By now I am sure that everyone knows who I am:  Kelsey’s fiance, “other half,” photographer for our NRW (New Restaurant Wednesday) excursions, vacation planner aficionado, and finally significant other.  It’s great to finally guest blog on her website, and for that reason I am honored to begin my blogging quest with wedding decision number 18, the honeymoon!

This decision came to me as a surprise because I did not know where to begin.  I have envisioned lots of different places and ideas that could all be very unique to our traveling experiences thus far.  For instance, we could travel abroad and visit new countries over in Europe and make it a week-long excursion by “Euro” hopping around.  We could keep things simple and do a domestic road trip around the Atlantic coastline with food and drink stops along the way.  Or, we could make it a nice getaway to a Caribbean island and relax on the beach.  It was very difficult and challenging to decide because my dialogue with Kelsey for the past year has been something like, “So, honey, where would you like to go for our honeymoon?”  She’d respond, “Oh, it doesn’t matter…as long as we are together.”  This made the decision more difficult in my mind because I would have hoped she could have envisioned the ideal spot for us to land for a week or two.

With the help from our AAA agent Renee, we decided to give her a visit during one of our vacation days away from work and grab some suggestions from her.  Now Renee came highly recommended by our siblings Kyle and Kari since they used her to plan their two-week European excursion a couple of months ago.  The family mentioned to us that “prices were good, “she was the best agent at AAA”, and “you won’t be disappointed.”  Seeing that family is almost always right about these kind of decisions and ideas, Kelsey and I gave her a try.

When we arrived at the AAA office, the entire staff was very friendly and welcomed us inside.  Renee, who was diligently typing away at her computer and finishing a phone call with a prior client, smiled at us and said, “You must be Kelsey and Phillip; please grab a seat.”  Immediately Kelsey and I sat at the two seats at her desk and introduced ourselves.  Renee’s first question to us was “So, where do you envision going for your honeymoon?”  Kelsey began by responding, “Anywhere that is adult-friendly and has no kiddos around.”  I nodded my head in agreement but wasn’t quite sure what to say after, so I let the ladies continue in conversation.  Shortly thereafter Renee grabbed a large AAA destination handbook that literally looked like the Bible for vacationers!  She flipped through the pages and came across some highly recommended resorts in the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, and the Cayman Islands.  Notice the pattern?  I may have mentioned to Renee that a Caribbean resort wouldn’t be such a bad idea, so she went on to peruse the typical spots that most adults had traveled to.  Now I was excited and wanted to see which resorts would be nice for a relaxing time.

Of the countless options we saw in the book, Renee did in fact recommend a few resorts in the Dominican Republic (specifically the Punta Cana area) that would suit us perfectly.  The options were adults only, all-inclusive, provided easy beach access, and included amenities and activities to do.  Shortly after hearing the details of these resorts, Kelsey and I decided to leave the office and think about it together.

I did some more research on my own accord while Kelsey was traveling for work and came to a final decision that would be ideal for our needs.  I decided on the perfect resort in the Dominican Republic that would an ideal spot for our first week as newlyweds.  Besides, I wanted to ensure that Kelsey gets a massage or two while there and that we can go on a snorkeling excursion, which by the way is included in the resort package!  To me it’s a win-win situation and I am sure that Kelsey will enjoy it, and that is all that matters to me.

the wedding chronicles | decision #2

THE BUDGET

one evening last week i was going through my wedding bag, getting things sorted and paperclipped, when i started to wonder what my next entry for the wedding chronicles would be.  with such a plethora of things i could start planning and describing, i thought it might be hard to choose where to go next, but as i looked through the many piles of carefully categorized ideas, it dawned on me that i had perhaps completely (albeit unknowingly) mistaken the venue as decision #1.  decision #1 truly, i think, should be…that’s right…the budget.  cue the dramatic music!

it’s my general opinion that no one really likes to talk about money, unless they have a lot of it.  i mean, i’m talking millions on millions, and since i’m not in that position, i don’t often bring it up in conversation.  am i the only one?  probably not, so maybe because we don’t usually talk about money i seem to have forgotten to mention it as one of the largest factors when planning your big day.

there are oodles of articles and books written about how to portion the money you have in the most sensible way.  for example, everyone these days says to not skimp on the photographer.  eh, that’s pretty understandable.  i’ll give them that.  however, the different percentage breakdowns you see online or in magazines should, i think, really just be a guide for how you and your fiance/fiancee decide to spend the money.  people also say that you should identify those aspects of your wedding that are most important to you and make those purchases worth your while.  for example, if you want live music over a dj on your big day, be prepared to spend a little more and cut back elsewhere.  or, if a five-course plated dinner is your style, understand it likely won’t come cheap.  i think that if you go into things understanding that wedding services are in high demand and, because of this fact, can charge a premium, you may not be as sticker-shocked as you would be otherwise.

and that brings me to a very honest realization i had early on in this planning:  the typical american wedding is expensive.  let’s say you’re feeding around 100 guests at your reception.  if you go on the more conservative end of the menu, you’re probably spending about $50 per person.  that meal, that one meal right there, is $5,000 of your budget.  yeah, it goes that quickly.  and that might not even include booze!  assuming that’s your thing.

regardless of what your budget is or is not, we must all keep in mind (brides, grooms, and guests, too) that even though the wedding is a large celebration of the vows you exchange with your husband or wife, it truly is a single day in the beginning of a long journey together.  yes, getting married at a castle might be your dream, but it might not be reality.  you might even glow the tiniest bit green with envy as you flip through magazines and shows, seeing couples with unlimited budgets.  however, try not to fret, because at the end of the day your satisfaction with what you can/cannot do will be largely influenced by your perspective on it all.  for phillip and me, we understand that we are spending a lot of money for this event.  we also know we could go over budget and spend more.  and, if we do go a little above, we’ll practice forgiveness because it really is the most special day in our lives so far.  however, i think the way a couple handles their money during wedding planning is a large indicator of how it will be handled in the marriage, and getting off on the right foot, happy with and thankful for what you could afford, seems like a pretty good way to start the rest of your life.

the wedding chronicles | decision #1

THE VENUE

although other couples may take a different approach, i suspect most wedding planning begins with either a date or a venue or perhaps both.  some people want to get married during a specific time of the year; others have had a vision of the ceremony and reception occurring at a certain venue for quite some time.  if either of those factors is at play, you and your betrothed might easily be directed to a specific set of choices to fit into that picture.  however, phillip and i didn’t fall into either of those categories, and here is what our experience was.

first, phillip and i live in atlanta, ga.  known as “the hollywood of the south,” atlanta has grown into quite a diverse and large city.  as one can imagine, atlanta really became an oyster in that we had nearly endless options to meet whatever style and feel we want for our wedding day.  we could easily go urban and modern and luxurious in a high-rise hotel with a view, we could have something more casual at the local brewery, or we could even have a shabby chic celebration in a restored barn just outside the city limits.  do you see where i’m going with this?  in a city like atlanta, having so many options can be inspiring but can also lead to indecisiveness.  so!  my first piece of advise is this:  do your research and decide on your top ten venues to tour.  you might be thinking that ten sounds like a lot, but something to keep in mind is that the pictures you look at online don’t always actually represent the space.  you might come upon a venue that looked like a ten on their website but turned out to be a dud.  or, the flip side, the pictures you saw were only somewhat interesting but then the venue was even better in person.  the takeaway is that giving yourself enough variety but not too many options will hopefully lead to a venue that is a good representation of what you all want.

second, you actually may not know what you want or don’t want until you see it.  unless experienced, this is probably the first wedding you are planning, and as such you likely have no idea how you are going to feel as you go throughout the process.  for example, phillip and i had narrowed down our top option to have the ceremony and reception at the same location but then realized that having the ceremony at a church instead was paramount to us.  we reevaluated our options and ultimately changed our plans.  however, when we signed those contracts and wrote the check, we and our families were elated that we were picking places that would make us both happy.  my advice here is to be flexible, patient, and respectful of one another as you explore your wants together.  you don’t want to rush a decision as important as this one, and choosing a venue is one of the many things that brings you closer as a couple.

something else i have learned, even this early on in the process, is that nearly every decision you make during wedding planning is going to be emotional.  sure, from the outside looking in some choices might seem logical (either option a or option b), but in the couples’ minds, hardly anything is that simple.  considering the fact that your wedding day is probably the most important day of your lives thus far, it’s understandable that you want everything to be perfect.  although i encourage you to fight for what you want, i do see the sense in also not overthinking things, especially the “smaller” things.  maybe i need to write this down and keep it in my wedding binder as a reminder for future decisions…!

finally, as far as choosing where and when to plan your nuptials, i say this:  the space you choose may require you to compromise on other aspects of plans you have for your big day.  for example, the reception site we chose isn’t conducive to serving dinner family-style, something that was originally extremely high on my priority list.  however, as you come across this kind of situation, ask yourself what will be worth it at the end of the day.  did i want us to keep looking for a venue just as close to the church that would also do family-style?  or was i willing to “give that up” for a gorgeous building inspired by the town of glendalough, ireland?  well, the latter ended up being the case, and when this happens, it’s okay.  remember, as they all say, sometimes compromise is part of being married.  what better practice to get than when planning your wedding?  😉

the wedding chronicles

as many of you know, phillip and i have been engaged for about four months now.  not wanting to rush the engagement excitement, we didn’t seriously begin forming wedding ideas or plans until about february.  now, i am not the typical bride in that i wouldn’t say i’ve had a dream wedding in mind since my childhood.  however, i would say i have a pretty strong sense of design and personal style that i would ideally incorporate into our big day.  among all the things every couple wants for their wedding day, in the end a celebration that equally represents phillip and me is certainly the goal.

now, in an effort to begin sourcing ideas that might fit well with our style, i must admit that i have already done my fair share of magazine perusing.  i think my mother, kari, and i went through about ten over the Christmas break just ourselves, and i know for certain that i have two editions of the knot:  georgia sitting in my shoulder bag at the moment.  as i looked (and continue to look) through these glossy pages full of tips and tricks and diy secrets, one thing became glaringly clear to me:  planning a wedding involves nearly a countless number of decisions.  from the venue to the caterer to the photographer and hotel, just thinking about all the things to be done can cause a couple to feel overwhelmed.

beyond the pressure that the modern wedding industry has forced on us (particularly the brides), there is the added sense of anticipation from those who will attend the big day.  we’re all guilty of gossiping about a wedding afterwards (or even during it).  for example, “the colors she picked are so out of season.”  or, “this fish is dry, and the green beans are rubbery.”  or, perhaps, the worst of them all, “this dj is trash!”  yes, we all do it and will continue to do so because, like many other things in life, we often think we can do better on something we have no involvement with whatsoever.

now, i’m not staying i’m excluding myself from the wedding gossip cycle.  we’re all human and it’s something that comes with the territory.  however, this desire to please a large crowd of people whose opinions you value greatly only adds more stress to something that is already so stressful in nature.  although i’d like to put myself above the fray on this one (because i tend to be pretty organized and confident), i know there will be moments when i am subject to it all just like every other person in this position.

so!  where am i going with all of this, you ask?  i’ll tell you exactly where all of this is going.  i am going to document (and count) each decision phillip and i have to make to plan this wedding.  this adventure is two-fold:  first, we’ll be able to quantify, in some way, just how much work is required in planning a wedding these days.  second, i’ll get to celebrate a small victory with each choice we make throughout this process.

i think it will be a joyous, exciting, and unpredictable journey.  so, strap yourself in and let’s see where this road takes us!

it’s goin’ down for real!

back in december my cousin ali became engaged to her kind fiance mike (yay!).  like many girls, ali went into full-on wedding planning mode shortly thereafter, despite the fact that her venue is across an ocean from where they live now!

as part of this planning, i received a lovely box at my front door recently.  below the address were the words “must facetime/google hangout/call alison BEFORE opening!”  well, how could i not oblige!  after much phone tag, ali and i finally got a hold of each other and i eagerly ripped open the fedex packaging to find a perfectly wrapped gift.  the ribbon colors were gold and blue, two shades i know i look good in and i know that look good on me.  must be a good sign!

i carefully untied the ribbon and couldn’t help but smile as i opened the lid.  the first thing to do was to open the card, of course, to which i read the sweetest note and then most flattering request to be one of her bridesmaids.  i squeaked “YES!” in between smiling, laughing, and dabbing my eyes.  it’s hard not to get emotional!

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per ali’s instruction, i rummaged through the rest of the box to find the cutest little tokens.  first, fancy nail polish.  everyone knows how i love my nail polish!

next?  darling little hand warmers that i can wear during the ceremony.  after all, the wedding will be in the mountains and i don’t want my pretty little paws to freeze while holding that bouquet!

one of my favorite items was the gold mountain charm necklace.  very appropriate.  🙂

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and, maybe the best of them all, a picture of ali and me.  get ready, cuz!  california kelsey will be out to play in january 2017!  #forevermontoya!

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february 14th – nyc

sunday morning started much like saturday morning, three lazy almost late-twentysomethings bumming around indoors because the outdoors were still harsh.  it should come as no surprise that we proceeded to order more hot & crusty from their lexington location, except this time we opted for bagels with cream cheese and butter.  mm, how new york!  there really wasn’t anything on the to-do list this valentine’s day except a late lunch/early dinner, so we napped on and off until the early afternoon.

now, on our trek up to new york last friday phillip and i both agreed that he needed a new suitcase.  his old rollerboard was a bit beat up and the handle was stuck inside the suitcase, meaning that phillip had to literally carry his carry-on wherever he went.  we all know what that meant:  it was time to go shopping!

natalie, phillip, and i finally peeled ourselves out of bed, petted wyatt goodbye, and quickly grabbed a cab uptown to the local harlem marshall’s.  we figured this place would be a good bet for some new luggage and we were right.  phillip found himself a very stylish black samsonite, four-wheel suitcase.  it looks smart and sharp and expertly suited to him – it’s like it was made just for phillip!  he rolled that bad boy out of the store with a grin on his face.  nothing makes a day great like the perfect find!

we had just enough time to drop off the suitcase and then get back in a big yellow taxi to make our 4:30 reservation at the smith over in the east village.  the hostess took our name, grabbed some menus, and promptly showed us to our table.  this restaurant is, without question, a quintessential new york bistro and, if i do say so myself, quite spacious!  they have a long bar where you can rub elbows with other locals and travelers, large tables for family gatherings, and two- and three-seaters for intimate meals.  we were cozied up with one another at a smaller round table, right in the middle of it all.  although there weren’t many folks around us at the start of the meal, it wasn’t too long before the restaurant filled up with the early dinner crowd.

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now, we were originally under the impression that we’d be doing a late brunch together, especially considering that the table right inside the door was covered with plates full of french toast and egg scrambles.  unfortunately, though, we somehow hit a strange half hour of time between sunday brunch and actual dinner.  the waitress informed us we’d be dining off the twilight menu, so we just had to roll with it.  i’ll say, though, that the people around us who ordered dinner looked spoiled with their huge bowls overflowing with pasta and chicken pot pie.  although we ended up enjoying what we ordered (which i’ll describe next), i’d be lying if i said we weren’t slightly disappointed.  i guess we’ll just have to come back!

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we each put in a drink order and then natalie insisted we have a mound of the hot potato chips, homemade potato chips slathered in bleu cheese fondue.  oh my gosh, you guys, i’m not joking when i say i could have eaten the entire order of them and died happy right then and there.  this starter is a massive portion and can easily satisfy a group of three to five people.  the deep bowl means there are a lot of layers, but the kitchen does right by you to dress nearly every single chip with the fondue.  i don’t doubt that i could write a whole blog about just these chips.  mm!

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my clarky boy

as many of you know, my younger brother clark, whom i affectionately call clarky boy, has lived with me the past year here in atlanta.  well, this week begins a new journey and chapter as he makes a sizable move up to chicago, illinois to start a new job.  phillip and i just saw him off about an hour ago as he zoomed off in the kia westbound to visit mom and dad for a night before heading up north.  i cannot lie; i was teary-eyed as i watched him take a left on roswell towards the interstate.  having the chance to call him my roommate has been nothing but an honor and a privilege.  clark knows how to make any night fabulous and so fun, and it will be quite hard to adjust to his absence.  who will watch the real housewives of orange county on monday nights with me?!  i am now taking applicants for the position.  🙂

this post is a dedication to the best younger brother i could ever have asked to have in my life.  clark, you are a talented, intelligent, and passionate young man.  our friendship is irreplaceable and will always have a prominent place in my heart.  chicago is lucky to you have you in their town, and expect a visit from me before too long.

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band nerd classy

okay, everyone.  i don’t really know how to introduce the subject of this post, so i’m just going to be straight with you all:  i’m officially dating someone now.  eek!  yes, it is an exciting thing that gives me butterflies to share the news with you.  the best part about it all?  okay, maybe it isn’t the best part, but one of the most interesting facts surrounding this new life event is that we owe all the credit to tinder.

yes!  i promise you read it correctly.  phillip and i “met” on tinder on valentine’s day (aawww!).  after both of us swiped right, he struck up conversation as i was out and about shopping for clothes and makeup.  we met for coffee a couple nights later after a long getting-to-know-each-other phone call, and with the last sip of my decaf vanilla latte, i knew something felt right.  i’m usually a ball of nervous anxiety and excitement when i meet a guy, but something at the perimeter pointe starbucks that monday night that was very reassuring.

after many strange and unsuccessful tinder dates those first few months, i had lost a little faith.  i know, no one promised that i would meet my soulmate on tinder, but a little part of me thought “surely it isn’t supposed to be this difficult, is it?”  i had been single for years, and as i’ve written in the past, there are days i loved it and days i hated it.  i spent the better parts of the last four years embracing my single status and being selfish with my time.  tinder was supposed to just be a social experiment to keep me entertained, but it has somehow brought me to something more, something that i wake up being thankful for each morning.

phillip is quite the goofball, a great thing considering i’m a bit of a weirdo myself.  he lets me be silly and doesn’t question all the strange and girly ways i have.  to him i am a complete one-eighty from the girls he’s dated in the past, and i’m just thankful that he finds my differences attractive.  he’s been describing me as “band nerd classy” to his friends and family, something that makes me cringe but probably shouldn’t.  classy is always a good thing to be, and i guess i have to be honest and admit that i am a bit of a band nerd.  i mean, i played piano throughout my childhood and then french horn for over 10 years in wind ensembles and marching band.  in that respect, i’m definitely a good match for him considering he was a voice major at mercer.  who doesn’t love a man who can sing?  i knew you’d agree.  🙂

i promised phillip i’d write some kind of update here on the blog, but i didn’t want it to be too mushy and sweet.  something i like is that he is much more of a romantic than me, so he’s getting me comfortable with that side of a relationship.  for this post, though, i wanted to keep things light, and so a darling little photo shoot was what came to mind.  i really don’t know what the exact inspiration was, but this is what we do in our free time, take strange pictures of our faces doing things.

ah, yes, the yellow pages.  an artifact from times of yore.

just like pooh bear, think, think, think.

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mm, envelopes.  the best tasting things ever.

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i specifically remember we had mcdonald’s that night.  tasty.

i’m so hood…?  #andrichheavy

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…and so is phillip…?

glamour shot!

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