Fall Bucket List

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I cannot believe it’s fall again — it feels like just yesterday we were returning from our trip to Asheville! Although this fall is packed — G and I both have our bachelorette and bachelor parties, we’re doing holidays together for the first time, and really starting to crack down on wedding planning — I still wanted to make a bucket list of things I would like to do this season. Since our schedules are already filling up fast with wedding-related shenanigans, I’ve sneakily been planning my weekends around things that I knew would make it on the list! Read on for my fall bucket list.

  • Go on a hike – as a James Madison Alum and a Northern Virginia local, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never hiked the Shenandoah mountains — my only real hikes have been in other states! Surprisingly, there are tons of places close to DC where you can get some fresh air and take in the foliage. This weekend, one of my besties and I are taking her pup to hike the Billy Goat Trail, which allows dogs on sections B and C. She’s just scooping me from the McLean metro stop and it’s only a 10 minute drive from there! Of course there’s always Harper’s Ferry, the C&O Canal Trail, and Rock Creek Park.

 

  • Visit a winery: I’m lucking out with this item because my Bach party is actually taking a bus out to two wineries! We’re hitting up Stone Tower Winery and Bluemont Vineyard, but I’m also hoping to stop into Veritas in Charlottesville when we go see Gerald’s family at Thanksgiving

 

  • DIY Halloween costumes: Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, blame it on growing up as a dancer, but I love dressing up and thinking of creative costume ideas. I spent way too long making Gerald’s Dalmatian costume last year so it’s definitely being repurposed in a fun way this year, and I found a pair of shorts while rummaging through my dresser that are going to make the perfect tribute to my current favorite Netflix show.

 

  • Get into yoga: I’ll be honest, yoga isn’t my favorite way to exercise but whenever I take a class I always feel so much calmer and dare I say, centered? As shit gets real with the wedding planning chaos, I want to commit to going to a class once a week to help with the stress.

 

  • Catch a live show: It’s been a hot sec since I went to a live music show — I honestly can’t even remember the last concert I saw! I’ve been itching to get to The Anthem, but also love the traditional venues like 9:30 club and Rock N’ Roll Hotel.

 

  • Closet Clean Out: as always, I’m planning to purge my closet when I swap out my summer items for fall clothes. I got $55 off of my last ThredUp bag! Not too shabby. I’m also trying to tackle changing all of Gerald’s wire hangers out for nice space saving velvet ones. Wish me luck!

Shop My Look: 

Top: Forever21 (similar & similar)

Pants: TopShop

Shoes: LuLus

Transitional Dress from Amazon

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There’s a reason you’ve probably seen this button down, ruffle dress in your Instagram feeds already, it’s the perfect transitional piece for fall!

In DC, the changing of the seasons is pretty bonkers. It’s October 10 and as I’m writing this I’m sitting in the Metro sweating from running around Bethesda trying to find a clients’ office — things that should not be happening when we’re busy buying pumpkins and planning our Halloween costumes. I can’t remember who posted this on Instagram the other day, but they captured it perfectly — fall in DC means a sweater in the morning and sweat on your upper lip come noon.

I digress. As you guys know, I’ve been loving shopping on Amazon lately. (You can catch some of my favorite finds here and here.) I had seen this dress on the site a few times but didn’t bite the bullet until I saw it on Jenn Rog’s Instagram, but as soon as she vouched for it I clicked “make purchase” in my cart. As a blogger, I’ve come to truly value my peer’s opinions when it comes to making purchases and they’re always willing to answer any questions I might have about a product or piece of clothing! If you ever have a question about something I’m sharing, I’m always happy to give a candid and honest opinion, whether it’s something on stories or featured in a post!

This dress is great because it’s super lightweight and while it looks short in the pictures, it’s actually totally appropriate for work and passes the fingertip test. You will likely have to steam or iron the heck out of it when it arrives, but that’s expected when you receive inexpensive clothes in the mail. It didn’t wash as well as I had hoped (I shot this when it was my second time wearing it) and I had tried to iron out the wrinkles, but I think a steamer would do a much better job. Ashlee from Cobalt Chronicles also has it in the orange/red color and as she pointed it, it does have functioning buttons!

Shop My Look:

Dress | Amazon 

Booties | Vestique (similar)

Clutch | South Moon Under (similar)

Date Night in the District

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Shop My Look: 

Pants | TopShop

Shoes | LuLus

Top | Similar 

I am two things — extremely type A and a creature of habit. While I love trying and experiencing new things, it’s hard not to stick to places we already know and love when it comes to planning a date night. To inspire us to get out of our comfort zone and venture somewhere other than our tired and true spots, the control freak in me made a Google Doc with all of the places I want to try in the city, complete with the type of cuisine the restaurant serves and down-to-the-minute details of how long it would take to get there from our apartment — both in terms of walking and hailing a ride share. Like I said, I’m a control freak.

The doc has come in handy quite a few times when trying to figure out where to go with friends, which is exactly how we ended up at District Winery for our latest double date. I just sent the doc to our friends and had them pick since I knew I’d be happy with any of the choices!

If you don’t have a dining bucket list, consider this your jumping off point and start your own! Below are some of our favorite spots to go, and you can always check out my main DC Dining Guide for more inspiration!

If You’re Feeling “Sceney” | District Winery

Situated in Navy Yard,  the winery has a tasting bar and full-service restaurant and doubles as an event venue. We kicked off the evening with a wine tasting (orange wine is actually amazing!) and then had a great meal at their restaurant Ana. Head over to Bluejacket Brewery after dinner if you want to continue your evening!

If You’re Too Tired To Go Out | Beau Thai + Netflix

I knew I had a problem when I added Beau Thai as a contact in my phone. Gerald and I order from here at least once a week — usually right before we settle in for a few episodes of whatever show we’re watching (this month, it’s Ozark Season 2). We’re lucky enough to live right around the corner from the traditional Thai spot, but they also have a location in Mount Pleasant and deliver! I always go for the Pad Pik King Tofu and G alternates between the Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles.

If You Want a Traditional Date Night | Ghibellina + a movie

While we love our Netflix shows, we actually prefer to go to the movies! I got us MoviePasses in the spring and one of our favorite things to do is hit up Ghibellina’s happy hour and then walk it off by catching a flick at E Street Cinema or Atlantic Plumbing. Ghibellina has happy hour every day and they have pizzas on their happy hour! We both can eat a lot, so we usually order our own pizzas, but the walk to the movie theater (about a mile each way) helps us feel less guilty.

For When You Want a Good Meal and Solid Service | Red Hen

Red Hen is one of my top three favorite restaurants in the city and we love bringing our friends here. My dad is a super picky eater and even he loved it! Red Hen’s menu changes seasonally and I’ve never tried something I didn’t like there. They always have one vegetarian pasta on the menu (obvi my order) and the burratta appetizer is always the first thing we ask for.

If you want to relive my birthday for the last three years 😊| Lauriol Plaza + happy hour at The Riggsby

I know it’s not chic or forward-thinking, but Lauriol Plaza is seriously my favorite restaurant in the city. Every year for my birthday I ask that Gerald takes me to happy hour at The Riggsby (a 1960s-inspired supper club in Dupont Circle) and then we walk over to Lauriol Plaza for dinner and a pitcher of margs. The Riggsby’s happy hour is on point — I literally think about their gimlets on the regular — and it has a fun yet intimate vibe despite being in a hotel.

Fall Ready Event | Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

I am a summer girl through and through, but I have to admit, I do get excited about fall because the changing of the seasons is a great excuse to fuel my shopping addictions. While I default to the fast-fashion shops around Metro Center when I need a quick retail therapy fix, nothing beats a full mall shopping experience. Sure, the crowds can be overwhelming, but having a plethora of shops, brands, and food all in the same space is actually quite the treat.

You’ve heard me talk about how I grew up going to the Pentagon City Mall, now dubbed the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, and I truly mean it when I say that it’s a serious gem that Washingtonians need to take advantage of. Even though the Fashion Centre is across state lines, once you hop on the yellow or blue line it’s an insanely easy Metro ride — and parts of it are even above ground! (Looking at you coworkers who are scared of the underground.) I left my office on Pennsylvania Ave last night at 5:50 pm and was walking into Matchbox for the Fall Ready event at the mall by 6:12 pm — even with a 6-minute Metro wait.

If you’re like me and you’re looking for an excuse to shop, or even want to switch up your beauty routine, Saturday, September 22 is your day. Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is hosting their Fall Ready Event from 1 – 5 pm and it’s full of amazing perks! Stop by the mall for complementary makeovers, fall fashion previews, and more. The best part is that any shoppers who spend $150 or more at any store in the mall will receive a complimentary tote filled with giveaways! Just swing by Guest Services next to Sephora to claim it. Read on for a sneak peek of some fall highlights from some of the Centre’s top retailers.

The Body Shop | Did you know that The Body Shop was the first beauty shop to stand against product testing on animals? They’ve been around for eons but they were truly a leader in sustainable beauty! Gerald’s been struggling with a bit of skin inflammation and my cal Elisabeth of District of Chic recommended The Body Shop’s shaving cream for mens’ sensitive skin. I can’t wait to pick a can up for him on my next trip to the mall.

Kate Spade | Is there anything this brand can’t make fashionable? Their new fall line features a super sassy line of handbags and accessories with foxes and couldn’t be cuter.

L’OCCITANE| I actually didn’t know that L’OCCITANE products are organic! I’m on a bit of a natural skincare kick and I was so excited to learn that they use organic ingredients. The beauty shop recently launched a new Reboost product that’s meant to revitalize your skin after traveling and I’m so excited to try it out. Stay tuned for a review on stories!

TUMI| First let me start by saying, the store manager at TUMI is such a doll. She’s so passionate about the products TUMI creates that I was sold the second she told us that the brand is creating five new collections made just for women. The new collections are seriously chic, and I’m hoping I can somehow wrangle their suitcase and weekender bag into my wedding registry…

COACH | I NEED THIS DINKY BAG IN MY LIFE. I am utterly obsessed with this bag, and the whole Coach fall line is gorgeous — think western-inspired styles and hand-painted prints.

48 Hours in Chicago

When Gerald and I went to Chicago to celebrate my longtime friend Victoria’s birthday (and squeeze in some quality time with Rox!) I did not expect to fall in love with the city. I’d heard horror stories about the cold, so I automatically assumed it wasn’t a city I would like — I was SO wrong. Chicago officially has a piece of my heart. It has so many things to do and places to explore, plus a lake and a beach, and the people there are SO NICE. Not to mention there’s fabulous shopping and a great food scene.

We literally spent 49 1/2 hours in the city, landing around 8 am on Friday morning and leaving at 9:30 am on Sunday. The flight was super easy — I slept the whole time both ways — and about an hour and a half from Reagan airport. Chicago does have a one hour time difference, so it was really nice to get that extra hour on Friday.

Since our flights were a little pricey — $330 each — we decided to forgo a nice hotel for the cheapest we could find and stayed at The Congress Plaza Hotel. It’s definitely one of the older hotels in Chicago, but the price was right and it was in a great location in the Loop, right near Millennium and Grant Park. I can’t really brag about the amenities or the room, but considering we were really only there to sleep and shower, it was a fine stay. We took the L (Chicago’s version of the Metro) straight from the airport to our hotel on Friday morning to drop our bags off and I was shocked at how easy the transit system was to navigate. We flew into O’Hare and it was about an hour ride to downtown, but the line is mostly above ground so you didn’t feel like you were stuck on a commuter train.

After dropping our bags, we headed to the Riverwalk to take one of the famed Chicago Architecture Tours. The tour is right on the river and you get to learn so much about the city and its architectural history! It sounds a little cheesy, but it was definitely a highlight of the trip. I booked our tour a few weeks in advance through Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, which is run by the Chicago Architecture Center, so I knew it would be legit. The first floor of the boat was covered (which was perfect since it was pouring rain), and had a bar! We rather aggressively had some 10 am mimosas, but it just added to the charm of the tour. We ended up going on the top half of the boat for the majority of the tour since it offered the best views, and the rain really didn’t ruin it. (Let’s just say it was not a good hair day for me.) I 100% recommend booking one of these tours if you visit the Windy City!

After the boat tour, I was so cold that I had to go buy pants. Rox gave me the location of the closest Forever 21, but on the way there we passed by Nordstrom and I am SO glad we went it. The Nordstrom on on Michigan Avenue, aka the Magnificent Mile, is actually the flagship store and it is insane — it made Tysons look like a dump. There are full TopShop, Reformation, Free People, and Madewell sections, in addition to a bar on the men’s floor! I snagged a pair of TopShop pants and a top and was so much happier in the chilly weather.

Straight from Nordstrom, we hopped on the L again and headed to Wrigley Field to catch a Cubs game. Wrigley Field is the second oldest baseball stadium in the US and it had SO much character. We went to a 1:20 pm game and I was shocked at how many people had dipped out of work to attend it! While I’m not a Cubs fan (#GoNats), it was a really fun game and it even went into overtime. We got tickets for a pretty great deal on StubHub (around $35 each I think?) and since the stadium is on the smaller side, every seat in the house is pretty solid.

We took the L back into the city and took some quick naps before meeting up with Rox and the Husband of Glam for dinner. (I’m not a napper, but in our defense, we had gotten up at 4:30 am EST.) We met at Beatrix in the Aloft hotel in River North and it was SO good. It was a total scene and the food was super veg-friendly. I’m still thinking about the chopped Thai salad I had! (Great choice, Rox.)

From there, the birthday celebrations started and I was reunited with my biffy since 5th grade at Point and Feather.  We had so much fun catching up with Vic and my college frat brother and playing darts (sorry I was a horrible teammate, Nina) and then decided to be insane people and go get bottle service across the street at Hubbard Inn. I’m not used to staying up partying till a bar closes anymore, but we had so much fun dancing the night away. Trust me, I paid for it with the hangover the next day.

Due to the night before, we had a slower start to our Saturday morning and walked over to Eataly for lunch. Eataly was SO cute and definitely worth checking out. Imagine if Union Market was 100% Italian, and that’s basically was it is. To nurse our hangovers, we each got a Neopolitan pizza and split a bottle of wine. I could have spent hours in the food hall exploring the different wines and sampling fare from each of the different mini restaurants, but we had a city to see!

To burn off the carbs, we walked to the lake and took a stroll around the Ohio Beach area. The lake is absolutely gorgeous and offers amazing views of the skyline. We both love people watching and had so much fun seeing all of the party yachts roll in. #Goals. Right next to the lake is Navy Pier, which was pretty touristy, but still a fun spot to check out! We grabbed a beer and hung out in the amphitheater area watching all of the riverboat tours sail by.

We headed back towards hotel via the Riverwalk, and I wish we’d had more time to check out all of the restaurants right on the water — definitely something to add to your list if you are visiting Chi! We had to stop into Millennium Park and see The Bean, and there was actually a dance festival going on! I convinced G to undergo five minutes of a salsa dance lesson on one of the park lawns, you can imagine how thrilled he was. We took an obligatory selfie in The Bean, then headed to the neighboring Crown Fountain to see the splash park.

Fast forward to dinner — we tried to go to the Milk Room, a speakeasy at the Chicago Athletic Association, for a pre-meal cocktail but it was fully booked for the evening so we headed to The Gage, which used to be a woman-run hat factory! We then hopped in an Uber to Bucktown to my favorite kind of restaurant, a Mexican hole-in-the-wall to meet up with the birthday girl. Estrella Negra was perfect, inexpensive and delicious!

To cap off the night, we headed to The Whistler, a dive bar with a live DJ around the corner where I got to reconnect with one of my old coworkers!  I kid you not, I ordered a round that included a glass of wine, a vodka soda, and an IPA and nearly spit my drink out when I saw that it was only $15. That’s ONE cocktail in DC! The District has ruined me.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, chock-full of adventures. I can’t wait to go back.

Amazon Finds Round 2

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I got so much positive feedback from my original Amazon fast fashion round up post that I figured I’d do round two! I’ve been loving how easy it is to order clothes at affordable prices and since Amazon is such a large, streamlined company, it’s super easy to do returns and track packages.

I have been ordering some items in multiple sizes because I’m not sure how they’ll fit, but the reviews are extremely helpful and I love that some customers leave their own photos. I wore this romper to a friend’s birthday celebration at Mission, and it was a little large, but I don’t think it looks bad!

Shop some of my most recent finds below, as well as some of my tired and true staples.

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Oitom FitBit Band | I’m obsessed with my FitBit and feel absolutely naked without it on. I love how much nicer the gold mesh band looks compared to the black rubber band that FitBits come with, and I’m happy to report that it doesn’t feel weird sweating in it at the gym!

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Two Tone Ankle Strap Sandals | I ordered these on Prime Day and have been wearing them nonstop! They are insanely comfortable — I clocked 22,000 steps around Chicago in them!

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Zaful Leopard Bikini | This suit is by far my favorite bikini purchase of the year. I did have a slight mishap with sizing — I ordered both a small and a medium, assuming one would fit and ultimately decided to keep the medium even though the top ran a little large, but wasn’t able to return the suit, even after debating directly with Zaful. Since it was so cheap, I didn’t mind eating the cost and wear the medium bottoms with the small top!

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Romwe Rainbow Tee | How adorable is this tee!? The fabric is actually super soft and I can’t wait to break this out for Pride next year!

Ivy Wild | Clean Beauty + Skincare

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A year ago, I thought skincare was using a drugstore face wash in the shower at night, dabbing some Witch Hazel on my icky spots (if I remembered), and wearing the same moisturizer I’d been using since I was 11 years old. I had always longed to be one of those girls who had pimple free chins and didn’t have to wear foundation, but I thought that I couldn’t afford nice skincare products and didn’t have the first clue about what products to use, let alone what my skin type was.

Last February, I had the worst breakout I’ve ever had, RIGHT before my 27th birthday. I was so embarrassed about it that I almost didn’t want to go out for my birthday brunch — it was like my skin was rebelling against me and I’d never felt more self conscious about my face. With our wedding looming, I decided it was time to actually start a skincare regimen and oh my gosh, I don’t know why I didn’t jump on the clean beauty bandwagon earlier.

It turns out, clean products are exactly what they’re hyped up to be. Essentially, clean products are made from non-toxic ingredients and harsh chemicals. If you read a label and can’t pronounce anything, chances are it isn’t “clean”. I recently had a conversation with my coworkers about skincare and one of them mentioned that you should never put anything on your face that you wouldn’t eat, and let me tell you — the products at Ivy Wild make the cut!. I had the opportunity to visit the new natural beauty and skincare shop in in the Manhattan Laundry building (14th and Florida, right next to 305 and across from Maydan) and had the best time sampling new products and getting made over by the founder, Rachel.

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Ivy Wild carries both skincare and beauty products and I had the chance to try a ton of them during my visit! Before my makeover, I wiped off my work makeup with Little Barn Blue Yarrow + Geranium Cleansing Oil — I’ve been hearing a lot about oils as skincare products and was super skeptical about putting it on my face, but it definitely didn’t have the greasy feel I was expecting, and it turns out that oils actually help penetrate your skin more deeply than regular cleansers! I also tried the Soleil Toujours Set + Protect Micro Mist (SPF 30) and it was super refreshing. I’ve recently become obsessed with applying daily sunscreen and the mist makes application super quick and easy.

 

Next up was the fun part, getting my makeup done by Rachel! Before we met, I had mentioned that I was interested in a long-lasting foundation that would hold up on my sweaty two-mile-each-way walk to work and Ivy Wild certainly delivered. Rachel helped me swatch match my perfect shade of Saint Cosmetics liquid foundation and I am obsessed. For some reason, I thought that natural makeup wouldn’t have the coverage that I was hoping for, but boy was I wrong. This foundation has amazing coverage and feels like silk going on. The bottle says long wear and it is 100% accurate — I couldn’t believe how good my makeup looked after spending all day sweating at a winery the first time I wore it out! I may have also accidentally fallen asleep in it and woke up blemish free.

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While doing my makeup, Rachel made sure to teach me how to apply it properly, and I swear it’s changed my makeup routine. She taught me how to contour with a Vapour Organic Beauty Solar Translucent Bronzer Stick (I will be back for it) and I’ve been having so much fun experimenting with the application at home with an old bronzer. Rachel also taught me the right way to apply blush (I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been applying it totally wrong for 10+ years) and I’ve been loving the Rituel de Fille Inner Glow Creme Pigment compact that came home with me! Creme blush is actually way easier to apply than it seems and can repurposed as a lip color. I’m not a lipstick gal, but Rachel convinced me to try it as a light lipstick and I’m slowly warming up to the idea.

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Another product that surprised me was a brown tinted mascara. I’m usually a bolder-the-better girl when it comes to lashes, but I really liked the softer look that the Saint Cosmetics Mascara in Brownie Points gave me and it’s inspired me to swap out my harsh black eyeliner for a warm chocolate this summer.

In a nutshell, Ivy Wild doesn’t just sell beauty products, they actually help you find what works for you and teach you how to to wear it. I usually scurry into big brand makeup stores, grab what I want, and get out of there as soon as I can because I’m intimidated by the fancy makeup gals, but I could have hung out with Rachel and her team all afternoon long. I’m so excited that Ivy Wild helped me find new products that I love AND are good for my skin. Thank you for a fabulous experience! Catch them on IG at @ivy.wild.beauty for all the gorgeous things!

Photography by Mary Godier of Ringlet Studio and Mary Elizabeth Creative 

Engagement Photo Shoot Tips

I haven’t written much about wedding planning on here, so please let me know if you guys are into this type of content or if you already feel like you’re inundated with wedding stuff from too many platforms as it is.

While a handful of my friends are married, I’ve only really seen two of them actually tie the knot! My other close friends that are wifed up were already married when I met them, so I didn’t get to learn from them as they went through their own wedding planning experiences. I try to not talk about my own wedding planning too much because I don’t want to annoy people, and as a result I haven’t been asking them too many questions. (On the flip side, feel free to ask me anything and everything, I’m an open book!) If you’re in the same boat as me, I thought it might be helpful to chronicle what I learned from my engagement shoot and offer up a few tips for looking your best!

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Our photographer Hayley is actually one of my bridesmaids’ best friends. The first wedding-related thing we did was book her because photographers’ schedules fill up so fast! We started talking in February and booked her in March, almost exactly a year out from the wedding. Our engagement shoot was part of our overall photography package, and I highly recommend taking advantage of it! While it’s wonderful to have professional photos of you and your partner not in wedding attire, it’s also a great way to make sure you mesh well with your photographer and like the outcome of the photos before your big day.

THE LOCATION

Since we are getting married in the winter, I knew I wanted our engagement shoot to be somewhere outside so we could have photos with greenery in the background. We initially wanted to shoot at the National Arboretum, but there’s actually a pretty extensive permitting process to shoot on any land that belongs to the DC National Park Service. While lamenting about the permitting process at work, my coworker suggested we do the shoot at a winery, and it was SUCH a good idea.

I chose Stone Tower Winery because I knew it had a lot of different places to take photos — in the vines, their stone patio and deck, and plenty of rolling hills. There was a $75 fee to shoot at the winery, but we got to come at 9 am and have the whole place to ourselves before they opened at 11 am. The perks of shooting early meant no one would awkwardly show up in the back of our shots, and we didn’t have an audience. While I’m used to taking photos in public for the blog, Gerald hates having his picture taken in front of people so it really helped us both loosen up. I definitely recommend shooting at an off time if possible!

THE OUTFITS

Pick two options — one more casual and one more “formal”, if you have the time to shot two different looks. I chose one dress that was very “on brand” for myself and went a little bit more conservative with my white dress.

You don’t need to rush out and buy something new — a tired and true dress that you feel pretty and comfortable in is going to translate better into photos versus something that you constantly need to adjust. You also risk the chance of your outfit not arriving on time…I ordered a maxi dress that was supposed to be delivered by noon the day before and USPS lost it. Needless to say I was a mess and spent Friday evening frantically running around Metro Center trying to find something. I ended up going with the black dress I wore for our first outfit — I’ve had it since 2013!

I did a lot of Googling about patterns in photos (something you think I would know!) and was a bit worried about how the polka dots in my white dress would translate to photos, but I lucked out! I would advise steering clear of any thin stripes, but other than that, you don’t need to stick to solids. Let your personality show!

Definitely opt for fabrics that don’t wrinkle. We ironed Gerald’s clothes the night before and hung them up in the car so that they would stay neat on the drive to the winery and while there are still some shots that have wrinkles, they aren’t so bad that they distract from the shot. Also make sure to keep an eye on your guy’s tuck, Gerald’s shirts always creep out of his belts in the back, especially if you’re doing poses like the “princess carry”.

THE DAY BEFORE

  • Drink at least 12 glasses of water, (6 Swell bottles worth!) this will help your skin look hydrated, help flush out toxins, debloat, and help your makeup take to your face better the next day
  • Refrain from alcohol and super salty foods, both can make you bloat and when I drink it goes straight to my face the next day
  • Do a face mask and/or scrub to prep your skin!
  • Lay out and iron all of your clothes. Also make sure to put accessories and shoes with your outfit or in bags by the door — you’ll likely be a little frazzled and don’t want to forget anything!
  • Get a mani for sure,and a pedi if you will be wearing open-toe shoes. You’ll likely be taking shots up close of your ring and you don’t want chipped nails all up in there! (Also make sure your partner neatly trims their nails, ask gently though!)

THE DAY OF

  • Get a workout in if you can! It will help you feel more confident and those post-sweat endorphins will help create a natural glow. You can use an an ice roller to firm up your skin and help reduce any redness after exercising! I have this one from Amazon and keep it in the freezer
  • Water, water, water and try not to drink too much caffeine, which drys out your skin. This sounds weird, but the whites of your eyes also are more white when you’re hydrated, making your eye color pop!
  • Put a little more makeup on than you typically do, even if you feel silly in real life it will translate well to photos, but not so much that you don’t look like yourself.
  • Use hair product! I woke up at the crack of dawn to blow it and curl my hair for our photos and while I used hairspray, it was no match for the humidity. I hadn’t realized that Gerald’s car air conditioning was broken and by the time we got to the winery (an hour away) it was in full on frizz mode. I was pretty upset and hate the way my hair looks in the majority of our photos, but it is what it is

THE POSES / SHOTS

I’m actually a total nerd when it comes to posing in front of the camera (I can get real awkward real quick) and Gerald has two poses, so I was a little worried about what the heck we were going to do with ourselves in all of the photos. Luckily, Hayley told us exactly what to do the entire time and we basically didn’t have to think! A good photographer should be able to direct you what to do, and it’s definitely a question you should ask when you’re narrowing down potential photographers — “Will you tell us how to pose throughout the shoot?”

Even though the shoot was so easy with Hayley’s direction, I wish I had laid out a few shots I wanted beforehand. I think I was so stressed out in the heat and with making sure Gerald was okay I forgot to speak up! I wish I had asked for some more detail shots of my ring (realizing I can get these on our wedding day, but still!) and some more simple shots of us smiling straight on at the camera.

You’re going to feel SUPER cheesy doing most of the poses that your photographer suggests you do, but just go for it! They know what they’re doing. I would never be able to get Gerald to take a picture twirling me around in any other setting, so it’s definitely fun to have some silly shots.

One other tip would be to ask your photographer if they’ll be editing some images in grayscale and some in color. I know a lot like to keep their creative license, but upfront and before you sign a contract, I’d ask if you can have the photos in both edits, color and grayscale.

All in all, don’t get too stressed out by the engagement shoot and try and remember to be yourselves!

All photos by Hay Alexandra Photography

End of Summer Bucket List

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I don’t know HOW it is already August! This summer, and really this whole year, have flown by. I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of things already this season, but there are definitely still a few I’d love to experience before the cooler weather sets in. Read on for my end-of-summer bucket list!

Visit the Hishorn Museum – I’m a local, so I’m not quite sure how there are museums I haven’t been to left in this city! The exhibits always look amazing when I scroll past them on Instagram, and the current ones definitely look interesting.

Explore The Wharf – while I’ve been to The Wharf twice, I’ve only been to two bars and didn’t spend any time actually walking around and seeing all that the development has to offer. I’d love to catch a show at Pearl Street Warehouse and I’m dying to try Mi Vida!

Cheer on the home team – I’ve only been to two Nats games this year! Usually Gerald and I average around five, so I’m definitely trying to squeeze in a few more before the season ends. I love exploring Navy Yard after the games — especially hitting up Bluejacket!

Visit one of DC’s new wineries – DC is now home to two wineries — District Winery in Navy Yard and City Winery in Ivy City. I’m not sure if the vino is any good at either one, but I’m definitely game to find out.

Purge my closet – I know this isn’t exciting, but I always feel so good after getting rid of clothes I don’t wear any more (and even better if I can sell them!) I’m aiming to get rid of a whopping 50% of my closet before I pull out my fall wardrobe…do you think I can do it?

Go to Jazz In the Garden – can you believe I have only been to this free, quintessential DC event ONCE?! I had so much fun the last time we went, it’s just so hard to find a Friday where both Gerald and I can actually leave work early to make it

Shop My Look: 

Dress | Forever 21

Shoes | Similar 

Tax Free Weekend at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

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PSA — this upcoming weekend is Tax Free Weekend at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City! Starting Friday, August 3 – Sunday, August 5, you can shop tax free on items under $100! Growing up in Northern Virginia, my mom and I would always take advantage of the weekend for back to school shopping, but the specials are open to everyone! It’s the perfect time to revamp your fall wardrobe or snag summer styles at a discount. I’m eyeing some new sandals (for some reason I really want Birkenstocks??) and definitely want to stock up on basics like cotton tanks and a new pair of black jeans from TopShop at Nordstrom.

Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is also offering a free backpack to shoppers who spend $150 or more at any store in the mall as well as hosting a backpack drive! The drive is being held August 4 from 1-4 pm and they are accepting both backpacks and school supplies.

The perks of shopping at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City don’t end there — it’s only a few Metro stops from DC (it only took us 12 minutes to get there from Shaw!) and there are some great dining options in the mall. Gerald and I stopped into Sugar Factory for pre-dinner drinks and then carbo-loaded at MatchBox after scoping out the fall offerings at some of my favorite retailers. There’s also a Shake Shack AND a honeygrow!

Check out some of my favorite retailers the mall below, all with a plethora of items under $100 and eligible for the tax free weekend specials. (PS. You can shop my entire outfit at the end of this post. I picked up the cami from the Forever 21 at Pentagon City and the jeans are available in the Madewell section of Nordstrom!)

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t.b.d  at Nordstrom – I used to work at the Nordstrom in Tysons, and always day-dreamed of being cool enough to shop in this section. At the time, my college income wasn’t sufficient enough to nab the dreamy Free People and designer denim the section carries, but now they’ve added in some amazing and more affordable brands like Madewell and TopShop! Madewell and TopShop are my go-tos for denim, and you know I love me a boho piece from Free People.

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Forever 21 – located in the ground floor of Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, this is one of the most well-organized Forever 21s I’ve ever been in. I’m used to going to the one downtown that just gets slammed with tourists and it’s so refreshing to walk into this location! Head straight to the back of the store for boho-inspired pieces and hook a right for their contemporary style section.

DSC06348Ann Taylor – I feel like Ann Taylor gets overlooked a lot, but they have amazing staples for work! All of their products are polished and high-quality, perfect for stocking up for your fall work wardrobe. They also have some pretty stellar shoe options! One of my favorite pairs of peep toe booties are from Ann Taylor and have held up amazingly well over 4 years.

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GAP – I adore GAP. My mom has always loved it and it’s seriously the best spot for basics. From ripped boyfriend jeans to cute and breathable workout clothes to high-quality flannels, some of my most worn items are from this retailer! GAP’s not just for the girls either, Gerald really likes the way their slim fit jeans look and we both love the price tags on their pieces.

Shop  My Look 

Top | Forever 21

Jeans | Madewell

Necklace | Sugarfix by Bauble Bar (similar)

Shoes | Forever 21