Toast Talk

November 9, 2015

This blog has been happening for five years. The anniversary date just occurred to me because I've been thinking a lot about how much has changed in the "content creating world" since Sally and I started the blog in 2010. Five years doesn't seem like a tremendously long amount of time but picture this when you think back to November 2010: Pinterest was in its infancy and largely unused (it introduced as a closed beta site in March 2010 and gained around 10,000 members by Winter 2011), Instagram had just been invented but hadn't really taken off yet, and blogging was truly more about community and engagement than competition and comparison. November 2015 is tricky - not just for someone who has been blogging for five years and trying to maintain a presence as trends and ideals shift - but for everyone else being constantly bombarded by what the numbers of followers, fans, likes and comments represent.

 

Blogs, as I experienced them, really started for the sharing aspect, and the way to grow a successful blog was by communicating and connecting with others in online and real life communities. Sally and I wouldn’t have had our blog grow the way it did after our initial launch had it not been for the connections and friendships we made with other bloggers – both through posts comments and Tweets- and those initial connections have also led to meaningful longterm friendships we cherish.

As we grew into the blogging community, we began attendingconferences like Alt Summit where we learned that being a good blogger meant taking on the responsibly of creating content. The phrase “content is king” really stuck with me and led me to pursuing photography and leaning more on writing- two passions that I am proud to have grown my skill for through blogging. Even more than content, in those days blogging provided an inspirational platform for personal branding and a point of view that separated each great blog from the next and it was exciting to see how each site had a different look and feel. We had a community of friends, content we were proud of, and were growing our skills and identities online; and then we actually had the chance to have the blog support us financially.

As opportunities for monetization came our way, we prepared a media kit and included statistics with our social media following and fan numbers. I’d say that 2012 was when those numbers became more and more important – both to us (it was easy to see how our peers numbers were compared to ours, whereas before Instagram you could only really compare blog traffic through Alexa ratings) and the clients we worked with. As years passed, it became more obvious that while content was still important for the sake of posting, that content quality wasn’t the way we were being evaluated for financial opportunities and rather the higher the following, the more valuable the blog and blogger.

I’ll tell you something many other bloggers won’t: my blog’s traffic numbers are half (half!) of what they were a year ago. I’ve compared notes among other bloggers and the loss of traffic is happening across the board. No longer do I meet people and hear, “I read your blog!” – it’s now typically, “I follow you on Instagram.” Well, thanks for that follow – that is immensely flattering – but the A Piece of Instagram is really nothing compared to the content Sally and I work so hard to produce and post the the blog. I totally understand how easy it is to follow people on Instagram and do the scroll, but I selfishly wish that people were still inclined to take the time to visit and read blogs.

Having the mentality of content being king has always been a goal worth striving for with the blog because a post typically contains multiple images and writing that involves storytelling. But with all the time, love, and creativity I pour into the blog, I just never thought of Instagram being worthy of the same attention. For me, Instagram is fun and a freeing way to post something without the same stresses and time consuming nature that comes with blogging. I like that I can use VSCO to edit iPhone photos before uploading them, that shameless selfies are becoming more normal, and that I have a vehicle for positing way too many pictures of my handsome pup.

But for comparisons sake, A Piece of Toast is not winning the number of followers race on Instagram – at least compared to a lot of other bloggers. This didn’t bother me because I want people to visit the blog more than follow us on Instagram, but with a loss of blog traffic I wonder if I’ve been doing things wrong in not caring more about Instagram…or at least making an effort to post more often. What’s always held me back is that posting more would require me to share more of my personal life – or stage my personal life for public consumption – neither of which seemed like a good idea for me. But lately I feel lucky that I was able to make that choice for myself, even if it means to some advertisers A Piece of Toast is less valuable than my peers, because that doesn’t make me feel less valuable as a person.

I don’t really care about the realness or lack of it in the posts I see in Instagram. Realness or not, I came into using the app as an adult 20-something and can separate what I see from letting it affect me and the way I live my life. But what’s truly unsettling is how the younger generations are growing up along side Instagram and so many other social media channels and apps that they are literally being shaped by what they see and how they interpret it.

Being an older sister to five siblings below the age of 18 (my youngest brother is 11) and friends with people with babies and children means that I give a considerable amount of thought to how technology is all too present. I love my iPhone, but I didn’t get a phone until I was 16 and driving, and I wasn’t allowed to text till my sophomore year of college. And okay fine, I can understand why a 7-year-old might need a phone for emergency situations – but even without social media accounts, how can he or she be protected from seeing what’s readily available online? Or live a life that isn’t constantly connected and makes for easy comparison? Bailey likes to point out that my/our generation is the last one to grow up where we didn’t have “everything” technology wise…we remember having second phone lines, dial up Internet, using libraries for school research projects, Nokia flip phones without texting, and fax machines. We love the new advances that make our life easier but it’s scarily apparent how much different things will be for our kids.

Essena O’Neill is a 19-year-old who is getting a lot of buzz for quitting social media. After being a very popular, beautiful, and envied star on Instagram (570,00+ followers), YouTube (250,000+ subscribes), tumblr (250,000+), and Snapchat (60,000+ average views), Essena has deleted her Snapchat and tumblr, left her YouTube channel’s videos about vegan education before removing the entire account, and was deleting many of her Instagram images or editing descriptions (to reveal if something was sponsored, or how even though she looked happy and beautiful she felt miserable and lonely) but now that account is also gone. I don’t know how people are largely receiving this teen’s message, but I for one am completely sympathetic and empathetic to much of what she is saying, feeling, and revealing. The visual nature of social media makes one feel like they have to constantly be posting, posting, posting. And not just posting a sunset, but a selfie that’s both envious and aspirational or a beautifully posed lifestyle shot. All the posting would be pointless without the visible number of followers, likes and contributed comments. Measuring a photo’s “worth” is easy when you can see whether or not people like it.

It’s certainly not unfathomable that Essena (and other teens, adults, brand, retailers, etc.) latched on the idea that success means those growing (or stagnant) numbers. But those important numbers can be bought (shocker!) and with all the macarons and coffee in the world, pretty photos can be staged (shocker!) and filters and apps can make anyone look magazine worthy (shocker!). “Social media is not real life,” is what Essena’s Instagram profile boasted before she deleted the account. I’m not sure if I totally agree that social media isn’t real life – loads of people post what’s real and use various channels to stay connected and archive their day-to-day lives – the thing is having the self awareness not to post something that portrays something not real for the sake of the approval of others.

I enjoy a scroll through Instagram more than anyone. It’s addictive. And I’m the first to admit that I don’t read many blogs outside of my close friends. The more I reflect on the past five years and take stock of the current situation (declined readership, social media importance, etc.) the more I realize that one of the parts I’ve enjoyed most about blogging is that it’s always been a “learn as I go” project and job. There’s no handbook for how to make money or stay relevant – or be authentic doing both – so I’ve been doing the best I can with what I know I’m willing to put out there. I try not to think to hard about what the next five years will look like both for blogging and social media. I do think a lot about what authenticity means for me and try to keep in mind what I like both about blogging and social posting and stay true to myself while doing both.

It might be too late for blogs – numbers may continue to go down as more people rely on Instagram and Facebook for visual content vs. reading lengthy posts like this one. Which, obviously is alarming for me and my job security, but more importantly seems to be shifting the balance away from sharing the words and stories that give context to the pretty picture.

It makes me sad that Essena felt suffocated because social media for her meant striving for, and projecting perfection when for me it has been more about meeting like-minded friends, and developing my passions into skills. For Essena, shutting down all her accounts was easier than starting over as her “true” self, and I don’t know how to feel about the fact that she couldn’t be her self all along.

I wonder if teenagers and younger groups of users need more of an education when it comes to documenting and sharing a life online and/or social media and what all that entails. For myself, I’ve been able to define a line of what I will and will not share on social media – it’s all still “me” but it’s not all of me. I think that most adults can probably understand that the images they see on social media are only a piece of a bigger picture, but it seems that kids are experiencing social media as the big picture, the end unto itself, and that is a scary and confusing thing to be a part of.

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Toast Talk

September 14, 2015

I hadn't realized it had been a while since I posted a Toast Talk till one of you left a comment requesting one (thanks, Christina). It's always a balance to know how much of my personal life to share but I've been thinking about writing about a topic for a while and figured now was as good of a time as any. Dating and being single. I know I'm not the only twenty-something woman navigating these waters and I'd like to be honest in letting everyone know what I think about this current life stage: it sucks. You can be as content with your professional life (which I am), have amazing friends (which I do), and be busy with your own life and exciting things (yup) and still feel like there is something missing. There are a lot of perks to not being in a committed relationship but after spending a few years dating - and I mean really dating and putting yourself out there - it becomes frustrating to keep grinding away at the process. I turn 28 next month. I know, I know...I'm so young, right?! Right. Okay, got it. But I'm at an age where I'd like to be in a committed relationship with someone who really likes me. And I don't think it's unreasonable to feel those feelings.

 

Don’t worry, I’m not desperate enough to try and go on the next season of The Bachelor (although this is something my family likes to joke with me about – hilarious!). But I was desperate enough to sign up for Tinder at the beginning of June. For me, downloading this app and making an account was almost worse than putting myself on TV. Mostly because it was the vehicle my ex-boyfriend used to cheat on me two years ago. But I had been in Houston for almost a month and was feeling all, “Okay, I’m in this new city with no gentlemen callers and I’d like to have a little attention.” If you’ve never experienced Tinder, I’d like to paint you a little picture…

To make a Tinder account you have to do so via Facebook (because the app will let you know if you have friends in common). So that’s all fine and good except for the fact that the only photos of yourself you can post have to be ones that are on Facebook already. That posed a problem for me since I only have five profile photos: my current one where you can’t see my face and four from college (one of which has me cuddling my little brother). These are not the “come hither” types of photos I imagined needing. So then I had to do something totally embarrassing andgo through a ton of photos of myself, chose ones where I thought I looked best, and upload said photos to my Facebook account. This wouldn’t have been so bad had I made the upload invisible to all of my friends…oops. How obvious is it that someone is making a Tinder profile than when you see them add five photos of themselves where they look fantastic? I just, I just can’t.

Ok! So I had my photos all ready to go and after crafting what I felt was a short, sweet, and witty little bio I was ready to start “swiping” as they say. I guess I should mention that I took this leap around 8:00am CST. This is only important to know because after an hour or so of making swipes I had more matches than I could count on my fingers and toes. What. A. Confidence. Boost. “I’m not going to die alone!” I thought. The first 12 hours of using the app feels like some sort of high. The butterflies you get when you first chat with someone cute in person – that’s what I would compare it to. But after 24 hours I was starting to feel drained. Sure I was having some conversations through the app (it’s like texting but these strangers don’t have your number or last name) but none of the chats were great and most all of them were very dumb. The time consuming back and forth quickly became exhausting and by day two I was feeling dread anytime I saw a message come through.

But I pushed on. I went on a drinks date. The guy was very nice but we had better conversation through the Tinder app than we did in person. That’s kind of like meeting someone who looks better in photographs than they do in person, right? My second drinks date was fine but not great. I didn’t plan on following-up with either guy. By the end of my fourth day with the app I had two more dates set up for the following week…after going through the weekend I canceled on both and haven’t opened Tinder since.

The good news is that even though my experience with the app ended, I was able to meet a guy in life the “normal way” (through friends) who I really liked. I mean, I still really like this guy. There was just one teeny tiny problem: his job is incredibly demanding and I never really got to see him. When a relationship never gets the opportunity to take off things can’t progress. I’m a pretty low-key person when it comes to dating – I do my own thing but I like feeling like the person I am interested in is also into me and wants to see me – but I start to lose my mind when things turn hot and cold. Rather than make this very busy and somewhat clueless man feel like he’s been murdering my emotions for weeks upon weeks, I let him know that I thought we were on different pages at the moment and that the timing didn’t feel right. Sigh. I’m not a girl who likes to hold out hope out guys (I literally cut ties and move on) but like I said, I like this guy, so I didn’t want to completely burn the bridge. You never know right?

So where am I now…I’m not on the Tinder. And I think know my friends have run out of the short list of guys they could set me up with. And really, while being set up by friends can be awesome, it can also be hard when you meet one of your friend’s friend(s) and you don’t feel a spark with them. This happens to me more than I care to admit and I always leave the date wanting to punch myself in the face and mail the guy money for the drinks he bought me. These non-spark guys are always really nice and really great on paper – the kind of man I want to end up with – but I know within 15 minutes (sometimes less) if I’m into someone or not and I just don’t see the point in making more dates happen if I don’t feel it. My friends joke that this gut feeling of mine is sabotaging my dating life…but I reason that I’m just being fair to myself and to the guys.

I’m super single. That’s were I am at the moment. I’ve read books – including Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (in hopes of understanding how to navigate dating in 2015 with all the apps and texting) and Why Men Love Bitches (in hopes of knowing how to make a man fall in love with me) but neither have helped my soul mate materialize any faster. If anything, Aziz just made me realized how screwed I am because dating in this technology heavy day in age reallllly sucks and it doesn’t seem like it will be getting any easier to find a mate when everyone now thinks the next best thing is just one swipe or app download away. No, I don’t want to download Bumble, Hinge, or The League. I don’t want to be on match.com or send out a pathetic PSA to everyone I know that I’d like to be set up with someone awesome. I know that plenty of people create fabulous relationships from these forms of dating (the apps and sites – not the PSAs) and that makes me really happy for them, but I just don’t think they are for me. What I want is for things to be as easy – like they were in college, when meeting someone was as easy as making the rounds at bars and you and your friends were all in the same boat.

Alas, I know that I need to be patient. I’d like to think that meeting my person isn’t an “if” but a “when,” and that timing is everything. If any of you single ladies (read that in a Beyoncé singing voice) have any words of wisdom that will help me get through this less than ideal time I am all ears. If you don’t, I’d just be grateful for some good vibes that I’ll find someone to be sent my way. But, I’m also happy to focus on the great things I’ve got going on and relish the good parts of being single. I’d also like to go on record and say that I would kill it if I were on The Bachelor. But don’t worry, Mom and Dad – I won’t do it!

 

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Toast Talk

June 3, 2015

Le sigh, I have been having trouble getting into the swing of things. This is my fourth week of living in Houston and so far I am very happy. But I'll be honest, the first week or so I was feeling really weird - just out of sorts and overwhelmed - and it took me a minute to realize why. It has been more than five years since I started a new job and also had to learn a new city. As I job hopped over the past years I was always in Dallas so even though I was getting into a new work routine, I still had the comfort of a city I knew. I was so confident about my move to Houston (and I'm definitely not regretting the decision!) but new city, new apartment, and new work environment really threw me for a loop that I wasn't expecting.

 

I’m not trying to complain here – I really am happy – but I want to acknowledge that the move hasn’t been the super easy transition I was expecting. If working from home by myself (with Blue) seemed hard, transitioning back into a work environment with others is even more difficult. I got so accustomed to the silence and even though it felt lonely sometimes, I did end up getting a lot done…now I get so excited to be around other people during the day that I’d rather talk, or do Biscuit-related things than do A Piece of Toast stuff. It doesn’t help that I have spent the past three weeks trying to find a profesh photographer to take my pictures. Knowing how to take pictures doesn’t do me much good when I can’t turn the lens on myself.

Womp, womp – enough of all that whining. Here are a few other things that have been on my mind/happening in life that I couldn’t flesh out as full posts…

Free Press Summer Fest is the big Houston-based music festival happening this weekend that Sally and my brother-in-law (love saying that!) are coming in town for. It’s usually held in Eleanor Tinsley Park but because of all the epic flooding, it got moved to a parking lot. A parking lot outside of the Reliant Stadium. Which is…fine. But a little disappointing. A funny friend said that thinking about a music festival weekend spent on asphalt brings to mind drunk girls with skinned knees and now that’s all I can think about. Needless to say, we decided that we would forgo attending the festie this year since the vibe will be so different. We got our tickets reimbursed and will be having a low-key country weekend instead. Sounds pretty pleasant to me!

Last week I binged watched all five seasons of Girls. Why am I just now getting acquainted with a show that’s been on since 20102? Well I got bored and signed up for HBO NOW on my Apple Tv….I started by watching a few documentaries about Scientology (mind. blown.) and movies like Chef (I liked) but Girls is what has made HBO a truly amazing addition to my life. I don’t care what people say about the frequency of Lena’s nudity, I’m obsessed with the characters, the scenarios, the writing, all of it. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite Girl because I can’t do it. Thinking that my next show to get into will be either Mad Men or House of Cards – let me know if you suggest one over the other.

I just started re-reading The Secret. Have I talked about how much I love the book before? I first read it in college and the power of visualization and positive thinking really appealed t0 me. Ever since then I’ve tried to actively engage in what it promotes and I usually read it again every couple years or so for a refresher. Going back to the first two paragraphs above and how I’ve been feeling out of sorts, something was telling me what I needed to pick the book back up and re-focus my mind on goals/wants/needs/etc. I’m already feeling so much better now that I’m concentrating on sending good vibes into the universe. Don’t knock it till you’ve read it!

“Bae” is an acronym for “before anyone else” – this whole time I had just thought it was short for “babe” or something (#notupwiththeslang). Add to the list of things-I-not-know: Slut Shaming is a real deal thing. I have heard the term thrown around so much lately (probably because of Girls and my avid watching of The Bachelorette) and now I’m just doing a bit of Googling and reading on the subject.

The most adorable looking nail salon, Dripped, is about to open a few doors down from Biscuit and I’m already dreaming about what kind of things I’m going to get on my nailzzz. I’ve been taking a break from having gel polish – my nails just get too thinned out after abusing them with gel for months on end and I try to go at least two months off while using this treatment. Not sure if I can make it to the end of eight weeks without trying out some nail art.

Lastly, I liked Jon Stewart’s take on what Caitlyn Jenner has to look forward to…watch the clip if you haven’t seen it already.

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Toast Talk

May 4, 2015

By this time next week, I'll no longer be a Dallasite. After five years (almost down to the day) of being in Dallas, I'm making the move to another Texas city: Houston. Almost every person I've told about this - friend or otherwise - has asked, "But, why?" It requires a multi-layed response but I could easily sum it up by saying, "It's perfect timing." This move has been a long-time coming but not because I don't love Dallas and haven't enjoyed the city. Dallas was the ideal place for me to land as a fresh post-graduate and when I think about how much I have changed and grown both personally and professionally in five short years, I know I couldn't have had a better experience anywhere else. From meeting life-long friends to loosing love, narrowly escaping Ebola and almost becoming a fan of the Cowboys - I have so many ridiculous, hilarious, and tender memories that have happened in this city. So Houston...I'd love to explain a little bit of the why behind this move I'm so excited to make.

 

I’ll start out by saying that I didn’t know anything about Houston other than it is wildly humid and has no zoning laws until about two years ago. During my first “real” visit (re: not a short one day work trip) there something about it reminded me of my real home – Kansas City, Missouri – and I still have trouble putting my finger on what that is. But I think that it’s because: it feels very family oriented, many Houstonians return back to live there permanently, small businesses and stores thrive, there’s a sense of community and the atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming, and while it’s a massive city there are really great designated neighborhoods that are green with huge trees and homes. So much of that makes me think about what makes Kansas City great (minus the massive city part).

I have basically been wanting to be in Houston for a year and a half. But the logistics of having a lease, living with Sally, and just not being fully “ready” kept me in Dallas. When Sally moved to San Francisco last August it felt like someone turned out the light in part of my world. I love living by myself but I suddenly felt incredibly alone. Working from home became even more isolating and I would go days without talking to anyone other than Blue…who doesn’t talk back. I didn’t notice it at first, but once October rolled around and I had to move from our empty two-bedroom into a single apartment it was like loneliness really set in and stayed. I saw my friends but was by myself 95% of the time. Such an Eeyore, right?!

During this super-sad-Molly time I took every opportunity possible to drive down to Houston. The 3.5 hour drive started to feel like a normal commute and I was unfazed by traffic if it meant I got to be with my best friends (re: The McCarthy’s) in the city that felt like it was hugging me. Starting sentences with “When Molly Moves to Houston” became a regular thing but the reality of moving still seemed like a pipe dream. I had the responsibility of a lease! I had lived in Dallas for five years! It just felt like I would never do it (at least not until my lease ended in October 2016).

But then January rolled around. And after my second visit down in 2.5 weeks Bailey and I were talking and I said, “What am I doing. Why don’t I just live here already? I need to just move.” She confirmed that it was ludicrous I hadn’t pulled the trigger and firmly encouraged me to make my long-talked about plans a reality. Bailey and I have always dreamed about me joining the team at Biscuit – it’s not a secret that I love the brand and products as if they were my own – and it really felt like the time was right to fold me into a position within the company. All I really remember from the rest of that trip was celebrating Harry’s 1st birthday and having a huge smile on my face because it was all “really going to happen.” The thought of working with awesome, inspiring, hard-working women everyday was enough to make me cry with happiness. I wasn’t going to be Eeyore anymore (re: a lonely loner) and my creative mojo was going to be reignited.

Even with the plan made, it still took me till February to go to my leasing office and see what breaking a lease would entail. Since the reason for moving was technically job related I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t going to be hit with that big of a fine. And really, when you’re weighing quality of life vs. money – quality of life always wins (at least in my world). I put in my 60-day notice, easily found another apartment in Houston and squealed in excitement like a piglet.

The 60 days really flew by thanks to an insane amount of travel in February and March, Sally’s wedding in April, and the past few weeks spent working on the logistics of moving. Some of you might remember what it was like for me the last time I moved by myself (I wrote a post complaining about it here). I was essentially traumatized by the experience. So I took Hitha’s fantastic advice and budgeted so that I could “throw money at the problem” this time around. I flew Sally in this past weekend to help me pack and it was like having a legitimate angel with me. We got everything in boxes (which I picked up used from Treehuggers – highly recommend using them if you have a move coming up!) and I feel so organized and ready for the movers that come at the end of the week.

This week I get to spend my last days as a Dallas resident hanging out with my favorite people and taking care of loose errands. Friday everything gets loaded into a truck by strong men, I clean my apartment and turn in my keys. Saturday I get to host an amazing Etsy event at West Elm. Sunday I drive to Houston very early and all my stuff gets unpacked from the truck and into my new place. Monday my mama comes to help me unpack and get organized (she’s my hero). Then real life in the new city gets to take place!

A move is really just a relocation but something about all this feels like I’m finally making life happen, rather than waiting for life to happen to me. I definitely think that up until January when I decided to make the wheels start turning, that I was just sitting around waiting to feel inspired, waiting for a perfect guy to fall into my lap, waiting for the loneliness to go away. But now I’m being an active participant in going towards the life I want. Forget finding the perfect guy – that will happen when and how it should – but at least I’m going to be in a city I love, among some of the people who make me happiest and always encourage me to let my freak flag fly, working on something other than the blog (which will inspire me tremendously) and with people who I’m obsessed with. It’s going to be good great.

Dallas treated me very well. I’m still completely in love with my dear friends and I am really glad to know that I’ll still be seeing them often (because I’m obviously going to be coming back for routine visits!). I will miss the ease of knowing my way around, having all my favorite spots for shopping, eating and getting my beauty on but I can’t wait to explore and get to discover all those new faves in Houston!

This is something new, something different, and something that at 27 years old makes sense. Again, the long story short answer is “perfect timing.” (:

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Toast Talk

April 16, 2015

Back. Sally's wedding last Saturday was just...everything. We arrived at the beach on Monday April 6th (with three pups in tow) and the rest of the week - leading up to the ceremony and reception on April 11th - was a total sprint of activity. As the Maid of Honor, I made it my mission to absorb as much of Sally's bridal stress as possible. I learned a lot. Some things I did perfectly but hindsight is 20/20 and there are parts I wish I had done differently. I thought I'd pass along my MOH findings today because, why not?

 

 

What I did well:

.Say Yes. I’m not typically a “yes” person (it was one of my huge downfalls in the corporate world). I am stubborn, I question everything, and I’m a slave to my own needs and schedule. But whenever my mom or Sally called and asked me to do something wedding related my answer was always, “Yes.” Even though this wasn’t my wedding, I knew the stress of planning everything from states away and it was easy for me to want to help. I ran errands, mailed invitations, took care of the bridesmaid dresses, and was always available when my mom or Sally needed to vent or get an opinion about something. The week of the wedding was an “all hands on deck” situation…as much as I wanted to sneak away to the beach, I never could have done it when I knew how much stuff needed to get done.

.Be The Fixer. In the final days leading to the big day, lots of things can go wrong. Sally was unpacking her bag and realized that her wedding shoes – a pale blue suede version of these – somehow got stained by something that leaked in her bag. No problem, I immediately ordered her a new pair. The thank you notes that are suppose to go with the programs are slipping out and there’s no way to make them stay. No problem, let’s get some gold paperclips. What I’ve learned from being in a big family and working in several high stress environments is that when there’s a problem, the worst thing you can do is waste time complaining or playing the blame game…it’s so much easier to offer a solution and then be the one to execute it.

.Put The Bride First. This was easy for me. Because Sally is my sister and best friend, I wanted to make sure she was 100% take care of. Whether that meant me telling the manicurist that her nails needed to look the best they ever had, always making sure she was fed and drinking lots of water (a hydrated bride is a happy bride?), or forgoing putting on my own makeup so that I could get her out the door and where she needed to be – it was my main priority that she feel absolutely incredible for all the wedding-related events.

.Get Bossy. Someone has to be the bossy one and I figured it was better that I be the “Psychotic Maid of Honor” than Sally be a “Bridezilla.” I gave orders, delegated tasks, got Type-A on just about every situation, and was a general control freak. The result was exactly what I planned: I became the no-nonsense police and Sally was a very relaxed and happy bride.

.Be Prepared. Easier said than done. I wish I could take credit for having everything on hand that the bridal party could have needed but it was really Pinch Provisions and their amazing kits that saved us in many situations. I had my Skinny Minimergency kit with me all week and was able to offer ponytail holders, chapstick, and a nail file on the fly. But it was really the Bridetasktic kit with 101 wedding essentials that killed it in the preparedness department. Just a few examples of what came in handy: nailpolish remover pads so Flower Girl Grace could get a mani touchup, bobby pins for attaching Sally’s flower crown at the reception, bandaids for the obvious blisters, deodorant towelettes for perspiring bridesmaids (you know it happens), and stain remover for a groom that got a little something on his white dinner jacket. My mom and I constantly looked over at each other and said, “what would we do without this thing,” in reference to the silver tote we brought with us everywhere during the day-of. If you’re in a wedding party or a bride-to-be, I really, really suggest investing in one of these things and keeping it glued to you during the big day!

.Lashes. I talked Sally into having lash extensions put on before we left for Florida and I’m so glad she got them. Not only did Shelby at Lashing Out do an amazing job, but after getting about a 75% volume coverage of extensions, Sally didn’t have to worry about wearing mascara the whole week and she legit looked like an angel. I didn’t feel like I needed extensions (because I’m a slave to using these products!) but I got my lashes tinted and it was the best tint job I’ve ever had done in my life…Shelby uses an all-organic formula and for the first time ever I didn’t have a ton of black dye all over my face and around my eyes. We almost scratched our plan to treat our lashes due to time but I’m really happy we gave them some attention because it made for less worry when it came to wedding time!

.Write The Toast. I had planned on writing my toast/speech for the rehearsal dinner weeks in advance. Haha – my procrastinating personality would never have let that happen! I briefly thought about winging it and just getting up without anything written down but after eating quickly, I took about ten minutes with a pen and pad of paper at the rehearsal dinner to write down what I had outlined in my brain for weeks. I’m sooo glad I did this…not only did I get to say everything I wanted to, but having it planned out meant I didn’t ramble. I’d also think that an audience listens better when they know the speaker has something prepared (:

 

What I wish I had done:

.Test the Bustle. I wasn’t at Sally’s final dress fitting where they explained and demonstrated how her bridal gown was suppose to bustle. I guess I figured my mom could walk me through it at the reception…but mama doesn’t have the best eyes (bless her heart) and her explanation of, “you hook the loops to the buttons,” was less than helpful when I didn’t know where said loops and buttons were located. Basically, I bustled the dress incorrectly and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for not figuring out how to do it properly ahead of time.

.Stay on Time. Keeping a wedding party with eight bridesmaids and ten groomsmen on task is not easy. Because I was so hyper focused on taking care of Sally, I totally neglected making sure that the rest of the crew knew where they needed to be and when. Whoops! Everyone got down the aisle on schedule (which is what really matters) but I def let angry Maid of Honor out of the bag in the process of getting everyone on the bus that took us to the chapel, and for that I am sad. I wish that my mom and I had made really detailed itineraries (with maps) to prevent a lot of miscommunication…but maybe we can do that for my wedding someday.

.Take Phone Photos. Being the paparazzi I am, I’m ashamed by the lack of photos I took on my phone of the Bridesmaid Luncheon, Rehearsal Dinner, and Wedding Day stuffs. I felt pretty overwhelmed most of the time and forgot to snap pics of all the prettiness happening…not ideal when you’re wanting to reflect back on everything and get some Instagrams up. At least we had Leslee capturing everything with her cameras! Can’t wait to see what magic she has in store for us…

 

I’m sure there are more things that I’m forgetting but the above are definitely my biggest Maid of Honor take aways. Maybe they’ll be helpful? Either way, Sal and I are looking forward to sharing more details from the wedding as we get photos back!

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