Thoughts on 29


Yesterday was my 29th birthday. In true adult fashion, I spent the day working.

I felt kind of neutral about turning 29. I’m obviously grateful to be given another year to be alive, but I didn’t make any plans to celebrate and the day was mostly just like any other day. I suppose that’s just how it goes once you reach a certain age.

The day did have its sweet moments, though.

The annual birthday phone call from my parents.

Eric made me a cake—a very sweet tradition he’s being doing since my 22 birthday just a few months after we got together. He also bought me a gift card for a 90 minute massage (hurray!).

Some of my friends and coworkers from the restaurant I work at bought me a cake after I stopped in for dinner and a drink last night (Eric was working, so I was flying solo). They’re honestly the best, most thoughtful group of people any one could ask for.

There were lots of birthday texts and messages from friends and family near and far.

I’d like to spend this last year of my twenties checking a few items off the bucket list. I originally was going to make a list of 29 things I wanted to do this year, but the list might end up being smaller and more doable. I’ll save that list for another time.

I’m actually really looking forward to turning 30 next year. For now, I’ll just soak in the joy of still being able to say I’m in my 20s.


Wedding photos: First Look


I’m so excited to share our wedding photos with you and talk a little more in detail about our day.

I’m starting with the first look because they are some my favorite photos from the whole day. I originally didn’t want a first look because I wanted everything to be a surprise as I was walking down the aisle, but we realized we didn’t want to wait until after the ceremony to get all of our photos done.

So, we decided a first look would be fun to do and would give us plenty of time for all the photos we wanted before the ceremony. It also turned out to give us some time to just be together and really soak in the excitement of the day.

Our whole motto for our wedding day is that we wanted it to be easy for everyone. We didn’t want all of the guests to be waiting around for us for an hour and we didn’t want to miss any of the reception.

It all ended up working out perfectly and we only had to do our family photos right after the ceremony. We were able to get right to the reception and didn’t miss anything.

The forecast leading up to the wedding was rain, rain, rain. So I frantically ran into Target before we headed down to West Virginia and picked up the clear umbrella you’ll see in a few of the photos. I’m so glad we did because it gave us some of our favorite pictures. It was just starting to drizzle when we headed outside for our pictures and luckily, the rain held off for the most part.

Now, prepare for photo overload. All photos are by Liv Hefner Photography.



Casual Friday No. 2


Happy Friday, everyone! I had intended for these Casual Friday posts to be a more regular blog series, but I just haven’t kept up with it. I’m hoping to try again to make them at least a monthly post. I enjoy being able to just throw all kinds of thoughts and links together in one post without over-thinking it.

So, grab some tea or coffee and let’s chat!

I’m going to work over the weekend on a series of posts for our wedding photos. I think I’m going to break them up into four posts: “First Look,” “Getting ready,” “Ceremony” and “Reception.” I can’t wait to share them all with you. I’m so, so happy with how they turned out.

I went to see “The Glass Castle” this week. It was so good, but definitely pulled at your heartstrings. I shed more than a few tears—especially toward the end. I never read the memoir that it’s based on, but I’m thinking about going back and reading it now. I’m always a sucker for a good non-fiction book. I love reading about things that actually happened and hearing about other’s life experiences.

I am so ready for fall. I may or may not be wearing booties and a scarf today. I’m just trying to will the 80 degree weather away with my fall wardrobe. I’m just craving the dark, vampy colors of fall, warm drinks and sweaters!

I’m about to enter the last year of my twenties this month! My birthday is Aug. 29. I’m thinking about making a list of things I want to do this year. I think it would be a fun way to say bye to this decade. It’s been a good 10 years, but I’m actually so ready to move into my 30s. I might be the only person to say they are looking forward to turning 30. I think I’m going to write a whole post about reflecting on my 20s.

I’ve been trying to read “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff and I’ve had such a hard time getting into it. We’ve been going to the library more and I picked it up on a whim. I have to return it in a few days, so I’m hoping I can just knock it out. It has some good reviews, so I’m hoping it gets better.

We had a couple of friends visiting last week and went to the Chris Stapleton concert at Keybank Pavillion. It poured rain for the first half hour or so, but then it cleared off. We were soaked, but it was so worth it because he was SO good. I would definitely recommend trying to see him in concert if you like his music.

Have a great weekend!

Niagara Falls Honeymoon recap


Deciding to go to Niagara Falls on our honeymoon was sort-of a quick decision. We had been talking about wanting to go somewhere this summer, but hadn’t decided on a place or time. I already had a week off scheduled at the end of July, so just a few weeks before that we were driving and just casually talking about where we could go. Eric suggested Niagara Falls and I quickly realized that would be perfect. A few days later I booked us a hotel and it was set!

Niagara Falls is only a four-hour trip from Pittsburgh and so easy to get to. We stayed on the New York side because Eric doesn’t have a passport. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and I’m so happy we did. It was one of the nicer hotels on the New York side and it was walking distance to everything.


First night: view from near the visitor’s center

We arrived on Tuesday evening and immediately went down to see the falls. They are so crazy to see in person. It’s amazing to think how much water is rushing over them each day.

On Wednesday we bought adventure passes which included admission to five of the main attractions plus unlimited rides on the trolley for $45.

We did the Cave of the Winds, which takes you right under the falls. We had so much fun doing this that we almost went a second time. It is definitely windy though and you get really wet. Luckily they give you disposable sandals and a poncho.


These three are from the Cave of the Winds

We also went to the aquarium, which was kind of underwhelming. It’s pretty small and didn’t have a ton of exhibits, but they did have some really cute seals.

We walked over to Goat Island, which has the Terrapin Point lookout over the Horseshoe Falls. It’s a great view from there.


View from the Maid of the Mist

We spent some time exploring some of the town and found some neat artwork. There were definitely some run-down parts of the city that you could tell had been neglected for the more touristy area.

On Thursday we went to the wax museum, which was equal parts interesting, terrifying and hilarious. It’s a very old museum and some of the wax figures are bit off. It’s pretty dark and creepy in some parts, but I’m glad we went.

We also did the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes you down into the Niagara River and right near the falls. It was such a great view of them. After that I took a quick trip over the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. Since Eric didn’t have a passport, he stayed at the hotel.


View from Canada

I spent about two hours in Canada walking around. Everyone says the Canada side is so much better, but I didn’t really think so. I found it to be much more touristy than the U.S. side and so much more crowded. The view from the Canada side is unique because you can see all of the falls at once, but honestly, I felt like we got really great views on the U.S. side.


View from the lookout coming back from Maid of the Mist

On Thursday evening we had dinner at the best restaurant that was a couple of miles out of the tourist area. It’s called The Griffon Gastropub and it was so amazing. They had tons of beer on draft and the food was so, so good. I had a steak sandwich with a side of their mac and cheese and Eric had a shrimp po’boy. We literally stuffed ourselves. It was the best meal of the whole trip.

Overall, it was so nice to get away with just the two of us. We hadn’t taken a vacation together in five years! We are definitely going to try and make it a point to get away more often, even if it’s just for a weekend.

How we had a wedding for less than $10,000


Photo by Liv Hefner Photography

I always knew I wanted to do a breakdown of how much our wedding cost because I wanted people to know you can still have an amazing wedding on a budget.

And our wedding was just that — amazing.

It was everything we had envisioned and went so smoothly. Everything was on time, done correctly and it even stopped raining in the afternoon — just in time for photos before the wedding — after storming all morning.

I always enjoyed seeing breakdowns of affordable weddings when I was looking, but often times found that couples were gifted a lot of big ticket items. That wasn’t our case. We were really only gifted a couple of things (which I’ve noted in the breakdown below). And, as I’ve mentioned before, we had a very small wedding with only 40 guests after postponing it.

It was really satisfying to know we paid for everything ourselves. We also paid cash for everything except the hotel room we stayed in for the wedding weekend. So we have come out of it basically debt-free.

We ended up spending around $8,000 for everything all said and done. We didn’t take a honeymoon right away, but we are planning to go to Niagara Falls later this month. We wanted the extra time to save up some money. I’ll save that for another post.

Wedding cost breakdown:

Dress: $1,500 (including alterations)

Veil: $108

Shoes: $50 (From Nordstrom Rack)

Eric’s suit: $200 (Dress shirt, tie, suit coat and suit pants all from J.C. Penny)

Eric’s shoes: $50 (gifted)

Food & alcohol: $1,800 (Appetizer buffet, coffee, tea and beer/wine)

Venue: $350 (gifted) The cost included linens, dishes, table clothes/chair covers and an integrated sound system.

Hotel for the wedding weekend: $800

Cake: $175 (included delivery to hotel on day of wedding)

Flowers: $300 (My bouquet, plus three babies’ breath bouquets for bridesmaids. Price included delivery to the hotel on day of wedding)

Centerpieces: Roughly $50, but paid for with gift card to Michaels (Glass vases with fake flowers and floating LED candle)

Other various decorations: $100-$150 (This includes mini chalk boards, mr & mrs banner, Fujifilm instax camera for guestbook, plus film, etc.)

Guestbook: $30

Hair: $75-including tip

Makeup: $450-including tip (I paid half of the cost for each bridesmaid to have their makeup done, plus mine)

Photography: $1,700 (This included an engagement session, two photographers at the wedding for 8 hours, rights to print our photos, plus a printed book of photos)

Favors: $30


Where we saved money:

No DJ: We made a Spotify playlist and played it through the integrated sound system in our venue. This easily saved between $500-$1,000.

No flowers as decorations: We used fake flowers in our centerpieces, which saved us so much money. It just seemed like such a waste of money for such a little amount of time.

Not serving a full dinner: We decided to do an appetizer buffet instead of a full dinner and I think it went over really well. We still had plenty of food. We served a garden salad with rolls, chicken sewers, mini meatballs, spinach dip, a cheese platter and pinwheel sandwiches. We also had some easy snacks that were left out all night like pretzels, nuts and chips and french onion dip.

DIY favors: We made little bags filled with wild flower seeds that people could plant as a way to always remember our wedding.

Let me know if you have any questions or want to know anything more specific. I hope this helps