Family Travel Planning – Part 1

family, Florida, Travel, wedding

My sister is getting married in October, in Orlando, in a backyard wedding. This means the whole famdamily is going to the wedding. Which means we are going to be trying to make the most of the vacation, family time, and sightseeing in one giant Robinson Wedding Week.

As you can imagine, trying to organize approximately 20 people to show up to pre-wedding events, and another 60 for the wedding, is a bit of a project. While it’s my sister’s wedding, and she is tackling the wedding EVENTm I am working on extra events to keep kids, parents, cousins, and myself sane.

While my family likes a good time, I can’t say they are the best at planning in advance to make the most of their time. If you are in a situation like me, it’s vital that you make a plan and stick to it so that you can actually enjoy your “vacation” without getting lost in a sea of relative needs. Here are my tips for surviving and enjoying the journey.

UNIVERSAL FLORIDA RIDES  
Ivy Friendly “Grown-up” Rides
Minion Mayhem Revenge of the Mummy
Shrek 4-D Men in Black
Simpsons Ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster  
Hogwarts Express  
Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl  
  1. Make Lists
    • Make a list of people going, lists of priority sites and activities, lists of time needed for travel.
    • Lists will help you prioritize and plan more comfortably.
    • If you are headed for theme parks, make a list of activities and rides that are most important, and that will work for different people and ages. For instance, my five year old cousin won’t be able to do many of the rides my 12 y/o step daughter wants to ride. Therefore, with some planning we can split up and get to ride everything we want. (see above)
  2. Plan What You Want or Need
    • Vacations are expensive, so it’s important to make a plan to get the most out of your time on a trip. With a group, things go slower, and sometimes you just won’t get everyone to commit to a plan. Therefore, it’s important to choose what you want and need the most then invite everyone.
    • For example, I pick days that work the best for the most important things. What day do we need to do the Bachelorette for the Bride? What day will be more comfortable for everyone for sleep, timing, obligations etc.
    • You won’t be able to make everyone happy, but people usually will make something work if they want to join in. If they can’t, then they usually find an alternative option.
  3. Know You Won’t Make Everyone Happy
    • Inevitably you will have people that aren’t happy with the schedule. While it’s nice to make things work for everyone, it usually doesn’t ever work. If you waited for everyone to be able to go, the truth is that you probably would never get to go!
    • Prioritize the most important people, sometimes this is the people getting married, sometimes it’s making sure the kids get to have the most at their day at Disney. While it’s nice to wait for Aunt Janet to get her nails done, maybe Janet needs to reschedule or join everyone at another time.
  4. Don’t plan on Being with Everyone All The Time
    • It’s nice to plan on being together a lot, but the truth is that everyone will want to do different things at different times.
    • It’s common for everyone to get sick of each other too. This gives kids and adults a chance to get space, quiet time, and down time to relax.
  5. Plan Ahead
    • The sooner you start trying to book an AirBnB, hotel, rental cars, and other arrangements, the better the rates and the better selection you will have. Booking a last minute flight and room probably won’t give you the best price and options.
    • Start drawing up plans for each day so that you can get a feel for what everyone wants or needs. This gives you time to rearrange plans in case of closures, event changes, or other situations.
  6. Plan for Down Time
    • If kids are involved you will need some time to relax. If adults are involved, you will need some time to sleep, eat, talk, and not have to be anywhere. I highly suggest making a day or two free days, or open days, where loose plans are made, and everything is casual. If people are exhausted, cancel plans, and take time to sleep or just chill.

Read More on Florida:

Happy Travels!

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I’ll Take the Adventure

mexico, musings, Travel, wedding

True story, my engagement ring only cost $60. My wedding ring was inherited from my grandma. I made my own wedding dress, bridal bouquet, invitations, programs, and endless other details. True story, I wanted the honeymoon more than I wanted the wedding.

Not that I didn’t love the celebration of my marriage or being with my partner. I absolutely adored seeing my family and dancing the night away in one of my favorite places in the world. My wedding week and my memories of it are absolute treasures.

That being said, we cut expenses so that we would have the additional adventure of a honeymoon. That to me, to us, was worth so much more than a fancy ring or having a designer wedding gown. We wanted the fun, without the material costs. Which is why we chose the adventure.

We went to Mexico exactly a year ago from today, and it was one of the best trips I have taken. Mexico had the perfect blend of relaxation and luxury, with the adventure, history, and wilds that we both needed. Husband could sit on the beach with a book and cocktail, and I could go hiking around the resort to find monkeys and coati. Mexico was absolutely divine.

Even today I think of a “fancier” ring if we have money. And then I think of what I love more than all my jewelry and material goods, and that will always be a new adventure!

Happy Travels!

More on Mexico

Tulum Snorkeling

Sand is Caracol Resort

Mayan Ceremonies

Chichen Itza

Laura and Ryann’s Colorado Fairytale

colorado, Photography, wedding

I got to shoot another beautiful wedding this year! This was especially gorgeous due to the two magnificent brides that took immense care to piece together their details in the most elegant way.

The wedding, while in October, celebrated a spring-like motif with pastels, succulents, sparkling gems and a pristine mountain setting! It was like walking into a fairytale setting without my work setting everything into place.

A huge thank you to the stunning couple and Lionscrest Manor in Lyons, Colorado.

Adventure of the Week – A Mountain Wedding

documentary, musings, Photography, wedding

I’m a little late in posting this, but it always takes longer to edit photos than I plan. However, it’s worth the wait when you get such beauties like these:

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It helps that this couple was very loving and fun to be around. Their humor, and adoration made their shoot a comfortable and beautiful one that the results speak for themselves.

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I love photographing couples that I know a little bit too, these two grew up with my younger siblings, so knowing them and being around their vibrant personalities allowed me to create a charming collection of photos.

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Happy Happy!

THANK YOU BEN AND CASEY BECKER

Location: Shining Mountain Golf Course

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Adventure of the Week- a Wedding and Graduation

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, family, Photography, wedding

I didn’t even leave Northern Colorado in the last week, but I have done plenty of time on the road and away from my home. My kitchen is a perfect display of the busy.

Yet, though it has been busy there is something invigorating about having fun things to do and celebrate with people.

Last weekend my best friend and maid of honor at my wedding got married!

It started Friday night with an evening of bad movies and carbs.

Saturday night was the rehearsal dinner and lots of nerdy conversation over noms at the Moot House in Fort Collins.

Ryan and Tara tied the knot in their hotel room Sunday afternoon at the Elizabeth in Old Town Fort Collins before having a party at the Social in Old Town.

It was a jazz and bee inspired shindig with fun people, tasty food and drink. And a bride and groom that were all smiles.

Post wedding and Monday night I photographed a darling old family friend who o have known since she was maybe 5!!!!

She’s going to be 22 and is graduating from college in a few weeks. She’s also gorgeous and a ton of fun to photograph. Check out all the cuteness!

It also meant I got to play with my new camera body and some new lenses! It was all the fun!

Happy Travels, near and far.

Next week…..watch for more animals!

When Nerds Unite

family, geek, love, wedding
Ryan and I have many interests that differ, opposites attract if you will. He loves Star Wars, we love Harry Potter. He loves Star Trek, we love X-Files. I ylove costumes, we love jeans and t-shirts. I love traveling, we love vacationing.
We balance it out and find a happy medium. So for our wedding we needed something that blended our quirks into one. So we blended my love of romantic art nouveau, Alphonse Mucha pretty details with our nerdiness to make a fun and entertaining blend of us.
Example A: Our cake. Traditional white frosting with a variety of autumnal saturated colored flowers and leaves. The cake was delicately pieced together to make a stunning result. Then, being us, we had to have a Millenium Falcon crashing into the side. Thank you Das Meyer for working your wonders!

Exhibit B:
We needed something to celebrate my love of Harry Potter, well OUR love (I’m the bigger fan though).
So we brought our wands and had some fun.
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And FINALLY Exhibit C: We entered to the Imperial March from Star Wars, complete with a Vader helmet…
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So that is us, a mix of love and crazy, and nerdiness….

A DIY Wedding

colorado, geek, wedding
If you saw my post on my wedding dress, the other side of that is that I made a majority of what ended up in my wedding. I did the bouquets, the center pieces, mercury glass jars, flower girl petals and leaves. I put together signs and activities, I even dyed my own hair extension.
This saved us a lot of money and brought our budget down, probably by half. If I had bought flowers or paid for each item fully made, I would have spent probably $2,000 more on the shindig. Instead I bought items on sell at JoAnn and online, I used coupons, and I looked on facebook for freebies or just inexpensive items for sale. For instance I got a giant box of glassware from someone on Facebook for FREE! I then bought “Looking Glass” spray paint to make fake mercury glass, and cheap autumn leaves and a glue gun to create the festive candle holders I used. The dollar tree was my best friend for the leaves and LED candles. I do believe the results were grand!
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For invitations I bought kits on clearance and used my home printer, saving hundreds. I designed my own “Save the Dates” and had them printed with VistaPrint for a reasonable price. Finally, my programs were hours of my own printing, cutting, and tying together to make a charming keepsake. 
I used old Alphonse Mucha calendars and dollar store frames for some table art, if they were too narrow I backed them with scrapbooking paper that matched our aesthetic. Making each frame maybe $2 per table. Saving significant money and recycling the art from calendars I already had enjoyed. For signs for food, gifts etc. I used my graphic design skills to put together themed signs and placed them around the venue with their dollar store frames.
For my midnight snack, I used up my girl scout troops left over cookies (I paid for them so we could go camping as a troop) which let people take as many or as little as they want. I was handing out whole boxes at the end!
All photos are from Stefan Rodriguez 

Homemade Wedding Dress

europe, History, wedding
Our obsession with white wedding dresses is purely a concoction from the last 150 years. Why white? Well it represents “purity” but it was also a sign of wealth for those at the start of that 150 years. Having a white dress, that you only wore once, well that was the height of luxury. So with a growing middle class and more disposable income, in addition to cheaper labor, factory weaving and mass production, white dresses became more and more popular. Yet in my family, white dresses has only been a tradition for around 100 years. With my Great-Grandmother’s donning their white gowns in the 1920s and 1930s, but before that wedding photos show women in “sunday’s bests” posed with their husbands in nice suits. Many wore dark colors. Why dark? Dark blues last a lot longer than lighter clothing.

Anyway, we’ll set aside family wedding lore and get us to the 21st century. My grandmother’s wore store-bought dresses, as did my mother. Even though the grandmother’s were avid seamstresses. No doubt, their dresses were beautiful. Juanita wore a 1949 classic dress that had a train and a slim a-line cut with plenty of lace, while Candice went early 1960s in a bell skirt and soft satin.  My mom had a simple 1990s dress that was simple and suited their Western-themed shindig.

For myself, a child and grandchild of crafters and history nerds, I went a new but old direction. No doubt for centuries my relatives made their own clothing or had someone make them clothes, probably a relative, maybe a seamstress. So when it came to my own dress, I started with shopping in stores, and online, and with Etsy. I ended at making my own dress.

Being me, I couldn’t make a normal dress. Because of being stubborn and also being entranced with a certain design from the 18th century. The Chemise a la Reine, which was worn in the late 1700s is the amalgamation of changing culture, feminism and moving away from the strictness of fine dress. It was the beginning of a brief 30 years or so where women wore clothing that was more comfortable and more reasonable for the lives that women were leading. The Chemise a la Reine was controversial in its time for being too simple, too much like underwear. The painting below of Marie Antoinette was scandalous in its day.

So for me, the chance to create and wear something so beautiful, but
representative of how far women have come and the excitement of having something of a “princess” dress was the perfect blend.

Naturally, I made a  few modern changes. I added less poofs, I made a multi-colored under skirt and my hair represented a more modern take. It all also blended well with the Alphonse Mucha fall theme that touched many aspects of our day.

Part II tomorrow.

Honeymoon Planning for Opposites

Travel, wedding
Ryan and I are a classic case of opposites attract. While we have a lot in common, we also seem to balance one another out. While I think we should go hiking for a month in the Amazon, Ryan more practically suggests a weekend camping trip and a tropical resort. Less chance of Malaria that way.
So when it came to planning our honeymoon my adventurous nature thought something along the lines of backpacking or hiking for a week seemed like a great vacation. Ryan disagreed.
Ryan’s idea of a great honeymoon meant another cruise like we did two years previously, with all of our needs met and no need to go anywhere or do anything.
While I didn’t hate our cruise, it would not be my first choice in travel again. I wasn’t keen on hoards of wealthy Americans being dumped off to gawk at poor foreigners that moved chairs for pennies and had minimal rights. This is an argument for another day, but long story short, I wanted something more engaging and more cultural.
To find the happy medium, we needed to narrow down a world of choices. In retrospect I don’t know many people that would find camping for four days, hiking 30 miles, and not showering in that time to be particularly romantic.
At one point we talked about Japan, but when we realized the cost associated and the jet lag that would be involved in a week we knew that it wasn’t the best option.
So we had a lot of extremes and needed to find a middle ground. For me, in many ways, the honeymoon was almost the more important part. We wanted an adventure to really remember and we wanted something we could realistically ask for presents for.
This opposite thing actually comes in handy, as we tend to be able to find a healthy blend in our lives. I want to fly off to Madagascar, and Ryan reminds us that we really only have the money for Mexico.
Which brings us to Mexico. Where we will be headed to in about a week, and where we will get to stay for a week. We have picked a resort in Playa Del Carmen, all inclusive. Meaning Ryan has the ability to sit all day, read a book, eat, and sip margaritas. While I have the ability to explore some history, culture, and a chance to really embrace one place. We both love the beach, and outdoor adventuring such as snorkeling, swimming, ATV’s, and jet skis. Which the resort and our excursions will cover. There are cenotes and resort performances that embrace the Mayan culture of the region. All around, it gives us the chance to get something and everything we actually want.
Ultimately, it means compromise, and though that word is tainted, it meant trying to combine our interests into one perfect trip. My advice is the following:
1. Research what is available, and keep looking for the best rate and things to do.
2. Make a list of “musts” and decide how to hit all of those points.
3. Find what you both have in common and find somewhere that you can hit those and that also has something for each of you.
4. Ask a travel agent, read magazines, shop for deals, and see what you find. We found our resort through Southwest Vacations at a great price and with fantastic reviews for what we wanted.
5. Ask friends and family where they have been, what they liked, what the options are to customize a vacation.
6. Finally, if you can’t decide somewhere, ask for money and save it until you can figure out where to go. There is no harm in waiting a month, 6 months or a year or two until you can take the best trip possible.
 
Happy Travels!

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

wedding
Weddings are meant to be several things.
1) A celebrating of two people in love
2) A public declaration of love and/or a bond
3) A reflection of a couple and their life together now and in the future
All of these things are true and should be the core of the wedding planning process.
So let me remind you, that it’s about you and your partner, so that means you can have what you want. There really aren’t any hard rules to a wedding, not legally (check your state/country maybe?) and not necessarily culturally. While we like to throw traditions around like a crucifix in the exorcist, the truth is that traditions bend and change with time and that means its okay to make new traditions or throw them out completely.
My examples are as follows:
Ryan is a huge Star Wars Fan, so we included these elements. We had a Millennium Falcon crashing into our cake, and our entrance included Ryan in a Darth Vader Mask to the Imperial March. I am a huge Alphonse Mucha Fan so we included his artwork as a “theme” with vibrant florals and romantic outfits. We also got married in October so we utilized the autumn and Halloween vibes of that time of year.
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Finally, we’re both Harry Potter nerds so we did some photos with our wands that we are so excited to get from the photographer.
It ended up being a perfect blend.
Other things we changed:
-Both of my parents walked me down the aisle, which is common in the Jewish tradition, but not so much in Protestant/U.S. Midwestern style.
-We used a Quaich (Scottish/Gaelic tradition) which meant more to me because of my travels to Europe instead of a candle, rope, sand or other ceremony. (This also comes from most of my family coming from the British Isles, specifically Scotland)
-We used music we liked that was not traditional for our ceremony and dances because it had meaning to us, and others enjoyed it having a stamp of cleverness, humor, and wit to it.
-We started our ceremony with the ceremony from the Princess Bride, the cool kids got it, everyone else was confused. But it made us happy. We also had one of my best friends marry us, making it even more special.
tenor
-We never said “I do” because it seemed to simple, so we wrote our own vows, exchanged rings in a traditional manner, and sealed it with a kiss.
-I said vows to my stepdaughter because I am marrying her too, for better or for worse, for sickness and in health (do you know how much kids can puke?!?)
-We did first look photos so that we looked our best and so we had more time just to have fun, this helped calm our nerves for the ceremony too. As best friends, you want to be near them at exciting time.
-One of my sister’s acted as one of Ryan’s groom’s attendants. This was awesome because it showed just how closer everyone is. My sister also looked BOMB in their suit and makeup.
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-We let kids run wild at the reception. Though we had a kid’s table, kids want to be everywhere but where you stick them. So we let them go crazy (within reason) they danced, they took photos, they ate food, and they all left with giant smiles and glow sticks. Also, kids make parties better because they are so damn cute.
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-We celebrated love triumphing over all other issues, moments, scary days, hard days, tears, death and more. Which is the ultimate battle.