Katie + Bryan {E-Session by Jen and Jonah}

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Oh, Katie and Bryan. Bryan and Katie. Two souls truly made for one another. Katie, a sweet, quiet but incredibly loving (and downright stunning) gal. Seriously how lovely is she? And Bryan, a gentlemen and all around happy guy with eyes only for Katie. These two are like most of my couples in the sense that I often feel overwhelmingly appreciative of even just being a witness to their love. To see two people so completely head over heels in love with one another makes me realize how sacred and wonderful a marriage really is. And to be given the gift of helping these couples celebrate their love in such a special, involved and curated fashion is absolutely a blessing I don’t ever dare take for granted.

Katie and Bryan are married already. You may remember some of their wedding photos from my Instagram feed over the holidays. They became husband and wife on New Year’s Eve and rang in 2014 the best way possible. Together with their amazing photographers Jen and Jonah Otchy, we also had the pleasure of seeing their engagement session featured on Style Me Pretty; in the most serendipitous of ways the feature went up just as Katie was preparing the walk down the aisle that day. And since the film scans came back earlier this week from the wedding itself (oh my gosh!) I figured today was as wonderful as a day to share the photos and memories that marked the start of their happily ever after.

Katie and I worked together to style the session with minimal props and outfits that would compliment the feel she was after. The rest is thanks to the talent behind the lens, Jen and Jonah. What a treasure to work with such talent.

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The balloon photo was used on their dinner menus as a nod to the new year!

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That lovely mint color of Katie’s dress was used throughout the wedding too. Can’t wait to share more!

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Perfection.

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And this was the photo we used on the couple’s Save the Dates last spring.

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Happy Wednesday, friends. Make it a beautiful one xoxo

5 Tips for Better Work Productivity

If you’re anything like me, you have lots to do in a little amount of time on any given day. While I haven’t perfected the art of managing my time quite yet, I have discovered a few tips and tricks that have helped me stay more in control of my day. Below are the things I’ve both learned over time through trial and error and in discussions with friends, colleagues and other business owners who also deal with the tricky daily task of balancing work and personal time.

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Get Up Early. Seems fairly self explanatory right? But when I say early I mean early, like 5:30 – 6:00 am early. My Dad is a very successful and hardworking business man. I remember as a young kid being aware of him always being up before I was each morning, but it wasn’t until I moved back into my parents basement when I graduated college, couldn’t find a job and then decided to go back to graduate school, that I realized what early truly is. My basement bedroom was directly under where his office chair sat and when I noticed those chair wheels started rolling around 5:00 am each day, I realized there was a direct correlation between getting started early with your day and getting your work done. Side note: I also always feel like I’m ahead of the game when I start my work a bit earlier. No one is calling or emailing me at 7:00 am so I’m usually a bit more productive in the wee hours of the morning.

Build Your List At Night. Your list of tasks that is. Sometimes I forget to do this crucial prep step because I just want to hit my pillow at night but then I spend my mornings rushing through the things I have set aside for pleasure (like my devotional time, time to say good morning to Andrew, a hot shower or bath, getting dressed in real clothes). Instead of knowing what awaits me in my office I feel frazzled and rushed to get into my office to process all the things I have to do. Which wastes time and starts the day off on a terrible foot. Let it all out at night so you can go to bed clear headed and have a list of tasks to start with in fresh in the morning. Even better, keep your list concise and attainable so you can set yourself up for success. Start with three items per client/project/group, etc.

Figure Out Your Flow. This might take a while to do but once you figure out a scheduling formula that makes sense for you, it’s easy to book appointments and strategize when you can get projects done. For example, if I go to a meeting anytime before 3:00 pm, I know after said meeting my levels of productivity are going to be really low. As in, my work day is done. Once I realized this pattern in my behavior I’ve tried to schedule all meetings outside of my home in the afternoons or evenings. I work harder during the day to get my work done before the meeting and can give more of my attention to my ‘date’ because I’m not distracted by the work I could be doing if I were in my office. I also do my best to always start my work week with a bang by compiling emails on Sunday night, saving them to my drafts folder, then rereading and sending on Monday morning. When you send 35 plus emails within 15 minutes of one another on a Monday morning how can you not feel like superwoman? Yup my secret’s out.

Find Simple Pleasures. My simple pleasure used to be Starbucks. Remember that? Then that simple pleasure turned out to be a tad expensive so I started making coffee at home. It’s simple, easy and a tad cliche but coffee at home either in the morning or around 3:00 pm in the afternoon, is for me a great way to feel perked up and content. Same goes for a fresh smelling candle, a 10 minute snuggle with our pets, a texting break with a dear friend, or a jam fest to Pandora, turned up at the highest volume. When you work at home, alone, day in after day out, doing the same list of tasks, things get mundane and tedious. Simple pleasures regardless of how simple they really are, allow you to reward yourself in small doses and refresh your mind so you can finish out your day on a positive note.

Accept Defeat. Guys, seriously. Some days, you CANNOT do it all. This is the biggest thing I’ve had to accept over the years. Some days, I won’t answer every email, I won’t put real clothes on (I actually will wear my piglet pajamas from rise in the morning to bed at night), I won’t cross one single thing off my to do list, I won’t eat lunch or drink a drop of water, or get into my office until 9:30 am because my bed was THAT comfortable. And that’s OK, when you learn to accept that you’re human and you can’t run on autopilot every single day of your life. I look at it this way; if I’m going to spend a good chunk of my time on the weekend working on client’s design proposals because I felt inspired then and knew I could crank out some good stuff (again my choice), I’ll feel comfortable calling it quits on Friday at 2:00 pm in the afternoon when I’m feeling overwhelmed and in need of a break. When you know you need to step away, do it. Accept defeat. Grab some wine or a cheeseburger (or both). And make tomorrow a better day.

Do any of you have some stellar work productivity tips to share? I’d love to hear some new ones :)

On Growing Older and Getting Better

Hi guys! I’ve missed you. I hope you didn’t think I forgot about you.

Because truth is I didn’t. Funny enough when I made my list of New Year’s Resolutions last month not one of them included to blog more. I certainly didn’t plan on blogging less, which is how things have seemingly unfolded, but I planned on making intentional changes and much needed improvements behind the scenes here.  You can catch up a little on my thoughts for 2014 over here. I have so many big aspirations for Hey Gorgeous and what this little empire of mine is to stand for. I’ve learned so very much since I signed up for a blogger account five years ago without any idea I’d be writing this here today. I’ve been battling the glorification of busy but finally being comfortable to admit to myself that I actually enjoy working really hard, sometimes for long periods of time. Guys, five years ago feels like an eternity.

I’ve also grown a lot as a person. In the last four weeks this fact alone really hit me. I’ve grown a lot as a woman. It feels weird to even call myself a woman because in a sense I feel so young, like I’m still just worthy of being called a ‘girl’. Everyone has their perceptions of what’s young and what’s old. I also think the societal nicknames and lingo we have for one another as females (‘girlfriend’ ‘sister’ ‘lady’ ‘gal’) makes being called a ‘woman’ feel so sophisticated. But my heart has softened in my experiences, my goals have changed, my business has continued to exceed my expectations in growth, my personal style has slowly started to evolve, I feel wiser and as a result, all of these things are shaping me into a different woman. And it does have a lot to do with sophistication, actually. Not that I was unsophisticated before, but reflecting on my growth and the change that comes hand in hand is pretty refreshing.

One of my goals for this year was to actually talk less about my goals. And to just do. To be humble in my life as a wife, planner and friend, to work smarter, to challenge myself professionally and keep blinders on as I move forward making my biggest most personal dreams become a reality. I attended Joy Thigpen’s workshop in January and was absolutely changed as a wedding designer, business owner and woman (again back to that woman thing; it’s been this odd epiphany as of late). I think it was there tucked into the quiet of Serenbe that I felt the magnitude of these thoughts of change and growth just sort of come full circle for me. Like an affirmation in my soul that this indeed is the path I’m supposed to be on. Joy you were a true ‘joy’. Thank you for sitting with me on our last day and just listening.

So without being so super random and all over the place on you all, I’ll tell you this much. From here on out there will be more posted via this blog of mine than just one post a month. I promise! I also can’t wait to infuse this space with a little bit more behind the scenes details on a few special upcoming projects, client work, business pursuits and of course final outcomes with the weddings and events my staff (!) and I take on. I’ve been so blessed to be able to pursue what I love and can’t believe it all started here just five years ago. Baby steps always turn into giant leaps.

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And to sum up my feelings for today in the form of a quote I so love: “I love the person I’ve become because I’ve fought to become her.” Rylee Blake. Preach on, woman. And thanks to all of YOU for growing along with me. Have a really wonderful Monday, blogettes! Photo above by Harrison Studio.

Au Revoir 2013

2013. You were lovely. Truly. I loved you so much. See?

View More: http://lovethenelsons.pass.us/rhi-rhi-gorgeous-pants

You were the first full year I was able to get used to the new HGE brand. To truly define what the HGE experience is all about. To fall in love with every ounce of my career and business. And that I sure did. You brought a full year of floral design my way, ten incredible events and couples, four amazing editorial shoots, a massive print feature in The Knot, a tough fork in the road between moving the studio outside our home or finally settling on renovating our basement (it’s all insulated as of last weekend!), two speaking engagements, a trip to Florida, a trip to Texas, a trip to Engage in Arizona, and the decision to create a workshop that has completely lit my heart on fire. You were non-stop and full of movement, life and adventure. Let’s walk through it all again together shall we, friend? Fasten those seat belts.

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In January my friend Leah and I trekked out in the snow for some bouquet goodness. Just to keep inspired and on top of our game. January was cold, cold, cold and did I mention cold? A lot of time was spent in the office praying for sunshine but also working behind the scenes to get ready for what would be a bustling year. At the end of the month, I teamed up with my amazing gal pal Kelly Braman and a team of other fantastic vendors to make a little feature possible for The Everygirl. It was full of girly Valentines Day goodness more of which you can see here and here.

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March was spent making a partnership with BHLDN come to life, again with Kelly. More here and here.

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In April, Andrew turned 30. In May I turned 27. We celebrated with dinner at a favorite restaurant downtown. Andrew and I also celebrated with a photo shoot together (naturally). We loved the results from our friends at Studio 623. And no we did not plan our outfits to coordinate so wonderfully with this striped wall. But how fun is it that we actually matched? We’re fun like that. And we’re hoping to get this photo made into a canvas sometime this year for our home.

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And then just like that, my official 2013 wedding season began. With the ever so anticipated unicorn inspired wedding. The sweet Janet and Jon finally said I do in front of 80 of their closest friends and family in Western Michigan. It was a freezing cold day here in Michigan despite it being the start of summer and everything still came together so wonderfully. You can see more here on Green Wedding Shoes. And more here too. It was a pleasure working with Kelly who brought it all to life so wonderfully in her images. This wedding was creatively a turning point with my brand. It taught me so much. It humbled me. It opened up a whole new can of possibility and creativity. I’m so thankful for that.

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June also brought the amazing wedding of Elise and Kenny in Grand Haven. Love this Southern Belle like you wouldn’t believe. As she told me in one of our meetings, ‘The bigger the hair, the closer to God!’ From endless phone calls and emails between Michigan and Texas she and I curated the prettiest of blooms and lovelites of details for the big day. She also had one of the biggest bridal parties I’ve ever worked with. 10 maids in a row. Photo by Bryan and Mae.

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And we were also out to the East side of the state for a camping themed couple’s shower for Kris and Chris. This one was pretty fun let me tell you! A bonfire, a camping inspired treats table, red gingham everywhere. There’s something to be said about co-ed showers; I’m hoping there’s a shift this year towards these kinds of events. You can check out more here and here over on Inspired By This. The gorgeous photos were actually taken by a former bride of mine, Sarah.

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Then in July, my sweet Maggie finally got hitched. It was my final coordination only wedding. And it sure was one heck of a party to end with! I was able to work with one of my favorite photographer friends, the one and only Jen Lynne. We had a blast working together for one of our industry pals (Maggie owns the wonderful Renee Austin Wedding, Grand Rapids premier wedding gown destination). Fun story? Maggie and her husband JF are expecting their first child, a son this summer! I couldn’t be more thrilled for them both and wish them all the best as the enter parenthood.

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We headed way up to The Homestead later that month for Leigh and John’s fabulous wedding. These two New Yorkers were such a joy, right Ames? Most notably, we strung foot after foot after foot of ribbon over the ceiling beams of the homestead to create a pretty cool ceiling installation that day. It was fun. And Leigh was such a laid back bride with a fret-free attitude. I mean how fierce are her maids and man of honor below? Exactly.

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And before I knew it August was here. I started to realize how nutty things were getting with a full load of weddings. We decided this month to start renovations on our basement so the entire studio could move down to one larger space. I also had the pleasure of finally executing and being a part of a truly special event for Kris and Chris at Meadowbrook Hall. I cannot wait to share more photos from their big day. Months and months of heart and soul went into this lovely celebration! And it was my first event with the amazing Abby Rose Photography to boot. I hope it’s not the last.

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And this little shoot happened. You can see more here and here. Bradley James Photography is simply incredible.

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Over Labor Day weekend, the biggest event I have ever planned, designed and floralized came to life. Ben and Laura from Harrison Studio were there that weekend to capture it all. I’m so thankful. My team and I literally worked for five days prior to this private residence wedding, to ensure set up went according to plan. It was such a big learning experience executing this sort of event. When you see all of the photos you’ll understand why there was such an intense set up schedule. You’ll also see more in April in the national issue of The Knot where we will have the pleasure of having this endeavor featured. Kate Spade meets Lake Michigan meets classic nautical. Oh my heart. Having it all come together without a hitch so beautifully, may just be one of the highlights of all of 2013. Thank you, Lord.

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Then just days after our Lake Michigan wedding, it was back to the East side of the state again for this big day. Rebecca and Dave are some of the most humble people I’ve ever met. It literally rained inches and inches and inches that day leaving Rebecca’s fairytale backyard wedding soaked to the nines. But the show goes on. It always does. And in this case these two finally said I Do after years and years of dating. It was incredibly sweet and beyond a pleasure being a part of their day. I also just loved working with the lovely LinneaLiz Photography for the first time.

View More: http://linnealiz.pass.us/davidrebecca

I nearly fell over when I crossed off a small bucket list item from my list that month too. Two words: Martha Stewart. And HGE! And my girl, Beth who captured it all so beautifully of course. We waited a year for this feature. And it was well worth it. Check out the incredible love between Nicole and Chris and all of the very simple but very sweet details from their day. I want to put these two in my back pocket and keep them there forever that’s how fabulous they are.

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In October, it was home to Canada for Alex and Josh’s big day in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a flat out rad celebration of music and love. These two are just so cool, I mean check out this photo below from Mango Studios. Shouldn’t every groom have that look of happiness on his face post-ceremony? I can’t wait to share the rest of this wedding because this big day was really special (and the videographers did the best job with their wedding trailer). More coming soon!

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October was here before I knew it. Off I flew to Chapel Hill for my second speaking engagement of the year. It was life changing being a part of the Making Things Happen intensive again but this time as a speaker. I shared my story with close to 100 people, some old faces and some new. I left feeling hopeful and inspired for change, as I always do. I left with some new friendships too. And an invitation to return this spring to do it all over again. The Lord is so good for giving me these moments and experiences to better not only my heart but others who are just as open to change as well. Photo below from Anna Paschal Photography of all us speakers before the first day of the intensive.

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And in November, I was back at the airport this time to fly to Austin, Texas for a little thing I like to call a surprise.

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More on this soon, I promise! I stayed with my lovely friend Shay. We actually met in 2012 when we sat beside one another at Making Things Happen in Chicago. We’ve become so close since then and my heart is so more than grateful for our friendship. Not only did she host me while I was in town, but she kept me fed and happy (all is takes is a few Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns to be honest). She also took photos of me, I played flowers, I executed a surprise, she captured this below. Oh Sara and Austin! Let me count the ways I so love you two. September 20th is just so close!

View More: http://lovethenelsons.pass.us/sara-and-austin

And once I got home that month, I made this, shot by these guys and then launched this. We sold out in 8 hours. I cried.

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That same week Sam, Brad and I made this collaboration between West Elm, Style Me Pretty and some other incredible vendors come to life. It was very Merry and very Bright and it makes me want to throw a party for Christmas next December. You can see more here and here. It was one of my favorite non-wedding features ever. The bow wall was one of my favorite simple installations to date. And who knew our front living room could be such a great and neutral backdrops for fun little projects like this? I’m saying yes to more of these in the future please and thank you.

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In December, my friends Ben and Laura came over to shoot my Girl Cave. I love them. More here if you’d like a peak!

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And in December we also celebrated Christmas together at home, just the four of us. Andrew and I, and Chenks and Zoe. Imperfectly perfect home of ours included (check out that pet hair on my leggings, oy)! Brad and Sam shot a few photos for our holiday cards, including this one here which we ended up not using, and I’m so thankful for the obsessive amount of photos I have from different points in our live, milestones or not. One day, I’ll sit here and show these to our kids. How special is that? Oh and it looks like Zoe may be smiling in this photo. That makes me quite happy.

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At the end of December, I faced my craziest planning roadblock yet. My California floral truck for our NYE event, carrying all my client’s garden roses, anemones, greens and more, was 24 hours behind schedule. After finally getting our product, leaving 12 hours late, driving through the night (thank you Andrew!), cleaning 300 hydrangea stems in an Ohio hotel room until 5:30 am, bringing together an onsite team of six for pre-wedding set up, staying up until 1:00 am the night before the event to make sure every little detail was perfect for Katie and Bryan, we did it. It truly takes a village. We pulled off the perfect end to a jam-packed and very blessed year. Oh! And Style Me Pretty featured the now married couple’s engagement session that same day. Go see how lovely they are. It was a sweet day celebrating two special individual’s love, doing what I love, with the one I love. What could be better? The amazing and ever so sweet Jen and Jonah captured all of the details. We’re all on the edge of my seat waiting for film scans to come back.

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2013 I really liked you. I wanted you to be purposeful. And you were. That was actually my word for last year. And it fit well. I feel like so many of my business methods and the things my business stood and still currently stands for were established. I felt less like I owed people an explanation for why I do what I do. And that in and of itself was very liberating. I overcame obstacles, I learned so much more than I could ever fit into a blog post here, and I really had the absolute pleasure and honor of working with amazing clients, their families and vendors. What more could a girl ask for?

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Well, for starters, time with her hubby! It hurts my heart to say it, but there wasn’t much time spent dating, enjoying and falling in love all over again with my husband like I so love to do from time to time (ok, scratch that all the time). I’d also love to take more puppy walks, make home cooked meals, visit the gym more frequently to get strong and fit, feel content with more time away from my phone and social media, spend more purposeful time on projects that matter and less time on things that don’t. More road trips home to see my family. More visits to Andrew’s family down the road. More dinner parties just because. More movies, more books, more risk, more balance, more prayer. More thought on starting a family. 2013 wasn’t bad. But 2014 is going to be better. Much much better.

Happy New Year, friends. May it be made up of all the things that matter the most. Sending you ALL so much love xoxo

(p.s. you can see 2011 in review here, and 2012 in review here)

Happy Holidays!

From the Hey Gorgeous Events’ office to your home, I wish you all nothing less than a holiday season filled with love and what matters most. I’m signing off until Thursday when I am back in for a couple days before Saturday’s departure to Cincinnati for a New Year’s Eve wedding. Until then stay safe and be merry. We all have so much to be thankful for.

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Photo above taken by my good friends, Brad and Sam of Bradley James Photography.