by Hope Johnson
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blog

The Modern Magnolia | TLBC x Artisaire

So did you know I have a thing for paper? HA. Obviously. ...but I really think that even MORE than the paper. Even MORE than those beautifully deckled edges of luxiourous cotton papers, more than the letterpress printed impression, more than it all - I love the presentation. 

The vintage stamps, the not so standard return address art, the hand sealed emblem of hot pressed wax. Presentation is everything.

I mean ...I have a collection of Anthropologie's tissue paper. ...you know, the tissue paper they put in your bag after checking out? They care. I care too.

A few months ago, I got a happy little email from Artisaire, the company I get my custom wax seals for my brides made from (the best people EVER). I was invited to join their creative community and license one of my designs with their collection of seals.

So I introduce to you, The Modern Magnolia ...y'all. I just felt like that needed a y'all. 

PIN IT FOR LATER

The Modern Magnolia from Artisaire by Hope Johnson with The Little Blue Chair | SHOP NOW AT ARTISAIRE.COM
The Modern Magnolia from Artisaire by Hope Johnson with The Little Blue Chair | SHOP NOW AT ARTISAIRE.COM
The Modern Magnolia from Artisaire by Hope Johnson with The Little Blue Chair | SHOP NOW AT ARTISAIRE.COM

THE STORY | q&a style

Can you tell us about how you got started as a #creativepreneur?
I suppose I’ve always been a flower child. I’ve had a love for paper, drawing florals, and the details that go into storytelling. I graduated from college in Fine Arts and Printmaking where I spent my days in a studio making my own hours and my own art ...and somewhere down the line, a wedding stationery design and letterpress printing studio found its way in my life - and it's been a beautiful ride.

Can you please tell us a little bit more about your signature wax seal design?
I chose to design a modern take on a magnolia flower - a southern classic to my hometown of Louisiana and our surrounding sister states. I had two childhood homes growing up - both with magnolia trees outside my bedroom window. I woke to that tree every morning.

The idea of taking such a symbolic and delicate floral and pairing it with a modern frame represents the balance between life's pairings. Revived and aged, young and old, ...and a newlywed couple joining two families as one.

Where did your inspiration for your design come from?
The magnolia flower represents purity ...newness - much like a newlywed couple embarking on a story that has never been told.

How would you recommend using your wax seal design?
Although I naturally gravitate towards wedding stationery, I believe any floral loving individual could use this wax seal if you find the symbolism resonates with a comparable moment in your life ...or simply, you enjoy its beauty.

What are your favorite ways to use wax seals?
Presentation - be it a wedding invitation or a child’s birthday present wrapped in twine - there’s never a wrong time to seal a package with a wax seal.

What are your thoughts on becoming a member of our Creative Community [of Artisaire].
It is quite an honor - truth be told - to be a part of Artisaire’s Creative Community. To be sought out and paired with the individuals I share this community with has me blushing. I am over the moon grateful for the opportunity to contribute the craft I consider myself lucky to have been given.

If one person looks at Artisaire’s new addition and says “my goodness, I love this,” then my day will be made.

...and everyone loves flowers, right? Right.

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Hope JohnsonComment
TLBC x Silk and Willow

IT'S OFFICIAL.

The Wedding Guide has a home away from home at one of my FAVORITE shops, Silk and Willow. If you're not already a fan, become one and thank me later. The second you place your eyes on their products, you'll say "ohhhh I can see why Hope loves this shop."

This planner has been purchased as gifts as much as it has by brides.
EITHER SNATCH IT UP OR PIN IT FOR THAT GO-TO GIFT LATER.


 
meet Hope Johnson with The Little Blue Chair

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.

 

LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest

Hope JohnsonComment
The Wedding Collection :: Q&A

We are a few days into August, you guys. ...and Y'ALL. It's about to be wedding/proposal season! This is the season of Q&As for me. I start to get a lot of questions about wedding stationery - when should you send out save the dates, inquiries on wedding invitations, and etiquette tips and tricks. 

In the spring of 2017, TLBC launched The Wedding Collection (that I refer to simply as The Collection) . I launched a set of suites that I set out to design with YOU in mind. I thought to myself, "what would I want to create if I were "this" type of bride or "that" type of bride." 

And so I did.

I understood that this wasn't the typical set up for your "pre-designed" collection of wedding invitations. And I didn't want it to be. I wanted these pieces to be as intentional and carry the same aesthetic you'd find in my custom work.

With that, I get a lot of questions simply about how it all works. 

So I've answered them here for ya! If nothing else, you can you can grab your favorite below (mine is currently the simplicity of the Jillian and Karl suite) and pin them for later!
 

PIN YOUR FAVORITE

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The Ellie and Thomas Suite | the little blue chair by Hope Johnson
The Hannah and Tyler Suite | the little blue chair by Hope Johnson
The Jillian and Karl Suite | the little blue chair by Hope Johnson

Q&A:

NO 01:
WHAT CAN I PURCHASE FROM THE COLLECTION?


In increments of 25, starting at a minimum of 50 sets, you may want to purchase the following:

-save the dates
-invitation + reply card set (envelope included)
-map card
-additional enclosure card

You may also add the following to any purchase:
-add venue sketch to
any additional card
-add guest addressing to envelopes (return and rsvp envelope included already)
-add vintage postage


NO 02:
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT THE PROCESS


The Collection is set up as a product that we will customize. Browse through the eight designs and discover the one that best suits your style.

Directly from the shop, you can alter your quantity, set pieces needed, and the printing medium you'd like and simply add to cart.

You'll then receive an email prompting for the customization details.


NO 03:
WHAT CAN I CUSTOMIZE?


you may customize the script or typeface selection, ink color, and language details - minor changes to the layout are allowed - the wording is completely customizable - you may also select between letterpress printing or gold foil printing


NO 04:
CAN I SEE A SAMPLE?


absolutely - we'd be happy to mail you some paper samples to get a feel for what the texture of each paper option is ...your samples may be a mix of styles or suites, but will definitely give you a feel for the general aesthetic of TLBC's work


NO. 05:
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE TURNAROUND?


typically 4-5 weeks from the time your final proof is approved plus shipping time


NO. 06:
CAN I HAVE MY GUEST ADDRESSES PRINTED?


yes - simply add the “guest address” add-on from the shop - this is a retainer only and the final price will be based on a submitted guest list and the difference issued separately


NO. 07:
CAN I CHANGE MY PAPER AND ENVELOPE TYPE?


the paper materials were intentionally selected to achieve a certain design aesthetic
however, on a case-by-case basis, this has been done - please inquire



NO. 08:
HOW MUCH POSTAGE WILL I NEED


postage rates will vary depending on local post office regulations and the changing USPS regulations - it is suggested to account for $0.71 - $0.92 (at least) per envelope and $0.50 for reply card envelopes

*exclusions may apply



NO. 09:
HOW DO VINTAGE STAMPS WORK?


if you’d like to include vintage stamps to your order, simply add the “vintage stamps” add-on from the shop - this is a  retainer only and the final price will be based on the final stamp design

a curated collection of 3-5 vintage stamps will be made that add up to the total postage needed
(for example, for a $0.71 postage requirement, we may have a vintage 50 cent stamp, a 10 cent stamp, and an 11 cent stamp)



NO. 10:
WILL MY RETURN AND REPLY ADDRESS BE PRINTED?

yes - your return address on your sending envelope and your reply envelope address will be letterpress (or foil) printed and is included in all purchases

guest addressing is an add-on


GET FAMILIAR WITH THE MATERIALS, CUSTOMIZATIONS, AND PRINTING OPTIONS


DOUBLE TAP
to shop each suite

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If you have a question about The Collection, comment below and I'd be happy to answer it for you, my dear!


 
meet Hope Johnson with The Little Blue Chair

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.

 

LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest      

Hope JohnsonComment
Why You Should Create a LIVE Mood Board for Your Wedding

Okay, pretty lady. I know you. I AM you. Before you were even engaged (or after you've been married for a while like me), you've had those hidden wedding boards on Pinterest. You've been planning that big day for quite some time.
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SIDE NOTE: OH my word. I've recently combed through my Pinterest, spring clean-out style. You should see my craze.
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Here's the thing with Pinterest ...sometimes, it can be a little more literal than you intend. When a client reaches out and we start chatting about all the paper things, I can tell right away that we're probably not a good fit if she sends me a specific wedding invitation design and says "I'd love something JUST like this."

I've perfected my "inspiration discovery" with clients and anyone who has dove into The Wedding Guide ...and now YOU.
 

BUSY OR JUST SCROLLING BY?
PIN FOR LATER

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Wedding Inspiration by The Little Blue Chair_live mood board inspiration
 

SO...
What is a LIVE mood board?

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Imagine one of your Pinterest board comes to life and finds a happy home on a wall or surface. THIS is a live mood board. Textures and visual aspects resonate SO much better this way and is how I begin any project of mine - from stationery design to home design. 

And there's something pretty fancy about having this visual in your home or workspace - I know for me, it makes me feel like an interior designer and therefore, awesome!

 Styling by  @ginnyau

Styling by @ginnyau


CHALLENGE:

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Go visit your Pinterest
(or magazine clippings if you have a pre-pinterest collection of inspo ...#guilty)

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Select 5-7 images that really resonate with your overall wedding vision.

As you begin to plan details like your wedding party attire or your stationery, collect a fabric swatch, paper sample, ribbons, etc.

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Find a place in your home or office space to whether its a wall, cork board, or movable surface (like a canvas), start to "live pin" different pieces and parts that compliment your vision. This will be such an inspiration process, unfolding as you plan.

This doesn't have to be objective details (like the exact color swatch or bridesmaids dress fabric), this can be an emotional inspiration - how you want your wedding to feel. 


 Styling by  Laura Jayne

Styling by Laura Jayne

 Styling by  Katy Bohls

Styling by Katy Bohls


You 'bes believe I have devoted an entire Pinterest board to live mood board inspiration. Doesn't that almost seems like a double negative? In any case, if you do NOTHING else today, go follow along for a digital version of the lovely styling you see here (plus loads more).

COME PIN WITH ME


 
thelittlebluechairwww.thepicturepeoplela.com||Printingrightsreleased(61of80).jpg

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.

 

LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest      

3 STEPS to Finding Your Wedding Vibe

I've seen many-a-themes in my day living in la la wedding world. Enter Pinterest, circa December 2009 (a few months after I got married). To be quite frank, I'm SO glad Pinterest wasn't around when I was engaged. I probably would have busted some budgets.

Over the years, Pinterest has truly become a visual search engine more than a social media platform. And don't lie to me or yourself and pretend like you don't have a hidden wedding-related board - married, engaged, or neither (I'm absolutely guilty of this ...you should see my extensive board collection here).

I want to share 3 STEPS to finding your wedding vibe ...you know, that "theme" ...but without being too theme-ish. ...and although I didn't intend this to be about ways to use Pinterest for your wedding, this is more about finding your voice - your wedding vibe, and your overall intentions.

Let's get to it...


SNATCH THIS AND PIN FOR LATER

Finding Your Wedding Vibe or Wedding Theme (without being too theme-ish) | The Little Blue Chair by Hope Johnson
 
 

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PICK THREE VISION WORDS

Think about how an interior designer would take on an empty room ...or how a branding agency would brand a newly launched business.

Think of your wedding in this same fashion. If you were describing your wedding to one of your vendors, think about the emotional aspects of what you're going for and pick THREE words that could describe that.

For example, for a small garden wedding, you may want a more intimate and casual feel. To explain say, to your florist, the vibe you're going for so she/he can get inspired, you can say:

I'm going for an intimate, feminine, and airy feel.

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WHAT ARE YOUR MUST HAVES

Most people think of their "must haves" as tactile, physical things. Of course, this is absolutely normal and acceptable (the dress, duh). You may know you want a certain style dress. You may know you must have a certain venue.

Think about your "Must Haves" list, but don't forget about your three vision words. One of your Must Haves can simply be a certain emotion.

For instance, if you know you want a more intimate setting for your big day. Perhaps to acheive that, you know you must have only 100 guest-tops.

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CREATE TWO PINTEREST BOARDS

I want you to create TWO pinterest boards. Yep - two.

Title your first board something general or whatever you currently have it titled (because you know you have a wedding board).

Title your second board:
Wedding Vibes: intimate, romantic, and organic
(except pick YOUR three wedding vision words ...these are mine).


The pins your save to your Wedding Vibes board should be extremely specific to your wedding vibe, your wedding brand if you will. Your three wedding vision words should CLEARLY be represented with every pin saved.


MY THREE WEDDING VISION WORDS:
intimate, romantic, and organic

WHAT ARE YOURS
leave a blog comment below and let's hear them

 

NEED SOME INSPO?
. . .
CHECK OUT TLBC ON PINTEREST TO SEE HOW I USE MY THREE VISION WORDS TO FIND INSPIRATION

 

 
thelittlebluechairwww.thepicturepeoplela.com||Printingrightsreleased(61of80).jpg

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.

 

LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest      


Hope JohnsonComment
MAILING YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY and why you should hand cancel your envelopes

On a recent instagram post, I thanked my local post office for a number of things. It was national postal worker day and I wanted to shout my amens.

THE LITTLE BLUE CHAIR_the collection_the laura and randall suite_23.jpg

PICK YOUR FAV & PIN FOR LATER

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TIPS FROM THE PROS:

When you take your wedding stationery to the post office, ask your postman (or woman) to hand cancel your stationery. This avoids having the machine sort your envelopes, ensuring a careful handling of those pretty envelopes.
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Hand canceling your envelopes is ...quite literally... “marking” the stamp as used - you know, that cute little circle postmark stamp (instead of the computer generators barcode). 
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TRUE STORY: I once heard that a calligrapher took their stationery to the post office after writing each guest name and address. Without hand canceling them, the post office's machine sorter printed a black barcode over that pretty writing. Every calligrapher's nightmare, right
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BUTTTT for those vintage stamp lovers like me ...this means if you have four vintage stamps across 200 envelopes, that’s 800 hand motions.

So keep that in mind when you bring your stationery in. Maybe add a few extra lead-time days to your mailing goal date because this is just a time-consuming task and it may take your post office a few extra days to get everything out!

True story: I once hand-canceled a set of 200 envelopes (five vintage stamps across each envelope) because the post office was a bit backed up over a holiday month. Yep! The crazy paper lady over here. #guilty #sonotguilty


FOR MORE TIPS, TRICKS, AND A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK, FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTA


 
thelittlebluechairwww.thepicturepeoplela.com||Printingrightsreleased(61of80).jpg

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.

 

LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest     

Hope JohnsonComment
ORGANIC STATIONERY INSPIRATION | editorial with Wedding Sparrow + Jen Huang

I'm not going to say I didn't squeal. But when I opened my inbox and saw an invitation to join the editorial shoot between Wedding Sparrow and photographer, Jen Huang, my face made that wide-eyed emoji.
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And I squealed.
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When I think about summer weddings, the words dreamy, airy, and romantic are what resonates for me - everything in this shoot. From the storybook venue, St. Giles House to the luxury florals and dreamscapes, it's as if The Secret Garden and a Jane Austen novel came to life.


 

PICK YOUR FAV (or all three) & ADD TO YOUR PINTEREST BOARD

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Organic Wedding Stationery || custom venue sketch || handmade paper wedding invitations || The Little Blue Chair by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
Organic Wedding Stationery || custom venue sketch || vellum wedding invitations || handmade paper wedding invitations || The Little Blue Chair by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
Organic Wedding Stationery || custom venue sketch || vellum wedding invitations || handmade paper wedding invitations || The Little Blue Chair by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
floral inspiration editorial shoot - the little blue chair by Hope Johnson
floral inspiration editorial shoot - the little blue chair by Hope Johnson
Organic Wedding Stationery || custom venue sketch || vellum wedding invitations || handmade paper wedding invitations || The Little Blue Chair by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
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Organic Wedding Stationery || custom venue sketch || vellum wedding invitations || handmade paper wedding invitations || The Little Blue Chair by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
floral inspiration editorial shoot - the little blue chair by Hope Johnson
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LOOKING FOR SIMILAR INSPIRATION?


 
thelittlebluechairwww.thepicturepeoplela.com||Printingrightsreleased(61of80).jpg

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.


LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest      


DUSTY BLUE MEETS NEW ORLEANS WEDDING INSPO | Sully Mansion Editorial
 

Between these vintage stamps and this dress, I think we've all found our something blue. Featured on Hey Wedding Lady, local New Orleans vendors teamed for a stunning editorial. These dusty blues and muted greens are my kind of color.

 

I MEAN ...THIS DRESS, Y'ALL.

I can probably create an entire dusty blue wedding inspired Pinterest board just off of this shoot.
 

. . .

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
When incorporating color into your stationery, try not to let the color tell the story. Color is important, sure, but bring it in subtly within, perhaps, an envelope liner, your ink color, or my favorite way - some vintage stamps!

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PIN YOU FAV (or all three) FOR LATER

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dusty blue wedding stationery || The Little Blue Chair  by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
dusty blue wedding stationery || The Little Blue Chair  by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
dusty blue wedding stationery || The Little Blue Chair  by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner

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dusty blue wedding stationery || The Little Blue Chair  by Hope Johnson || thelittlebluechair.com/theonepageweddingplanner
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dusty blue wedding stationery || the little blue chair by hope johnson || thelittlebluechair.com
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LOOKING FOR A LIBRARY OF INSPO?

Snatch up The ONE Page Wedding Planner (yes) and I'll send you that ...plus all kinds of snail mail goodies!

 

 
Hi. I'm Hope ...freckled face behind the studio doors of The Little Blue Chair

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.

 

LET'S CONNECT ||     instagram      facebook      pinterest      


WEDDING TECH TALK

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- 3 -
EXPERT WEDDING-TECH TIPS
to get organized from the start

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So ...I'm ready to tackle a client's save the dates. We have this beautiful illustration of the wedding venue, my favorite script typeface from Rare Bird Font Foundry and we go to add the wedding website to the bottom of the handmade, deckled edge piece.
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THEN I SAW IT.
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www.WeddingHost.com/US/31458/brideandgroom

My stationery-loving, typography fueled heart shatters just a little bit. I had what I like to call a "come-to-Jesus" with my bride. We opted for a custom domain (a nominal fee of 10 bucks or so for the year), we used the playful wedding hashtag she has already created: www.HitchedToHarrington.com

Crisis averted!

Now I'm no tech-guru, but I'm sharing THREE Wedding-Tech Tasks you MUST tackle first to avoid a stationer's nightmare PLUS make your planning more organized from the start.

Can I get an amen?


PICK YOUR FAV & PIN FOR LATER

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CUSTOM DOMAIN NAME

I am listing this first just in case you get tech-bored and leave me. There are plenty of wedding website services out there that will allow you a free wedding website!

Do yourself a favor and purchase a custom domain (I use GoDaddy.com). It's usually about 10 bucks for a year and you can apply that domain to your own free wedding website or build your own (I like Squarespace.com to build your own).

By doing this, you will:
-snatch a completely unique-to-you website title
-be able to easily translate that in conversation to guests
-and MOST importantly (in my opinion), avoid a really long, jumbled URL on your stationery


…because
www.WeddingHost.com/US/31458/brideandgroom
isn’t as pretty as

www.HitchedToHarrington.com

…put that wedding hashtag to work!

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CREATE A SEPARATE WEDDING EMAIL

Filter ALL your wedding emails to one email account to easily access information, contracts, and vendor questions. Don't miss a beat, message, retainer, or important message!

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APPLY FOR A CREDIT CARD

I’ve had a lot of brides use credit cards with a point system, such a frequent flyer miles (hello free honeymoon airfare) to use for only wedding-related expenses.

This is a great way to easily keep track of true costs too (which may or may not be a good thing for whoever is fronting this bill)!

 



NEW AROUND HERE?

Snatch up The ONE Page Wedding Planner (yes, one page) for an easy, at a glance look at ALL things planning.

 
 
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...because I have some intense boards geared towards inspiring your story!

I once designed a stationery suite based off of a kitchen photo (because sometimes you just feel what you need to feel to get inspired).


 
thelittlebluechairwww.thepicturepeoplela.com||Printingrightsreleased(61of80).jpg

I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.
 

 

Plan your wedding BEFORE you're engaged

Call me crazy. ...but don’t tell me you don’t have a hidden Pinterest board with your secret
wedding crazies locked up in a grid of “one-day” dreams. Amiright? Of course I’m right! Because I know I would and on most days, I consider myself a fairly normal adult.

From greenery centerpieces to cute little chalk painted flower girl and ring bearer signs singing “here comes the bride,” courting their way down the aisle, yes ma'am you've got it pinned. Meanwhile, that chalkboard holding flower girl walks down the aisle of said Pinterest wedding and she just made a mental note to go ahead and start her secret Pinterest board.

 

So maybe you and your significant other have already talked about tying the knot, but you haven’t officially said “yes” yet. Maybe you follow all the stories on How He Asked, dreaming of submitting your own someday. Maybe you know you’ll want a short engagement whenever that time comes! Either way...

Get the bulk of your planning done BEFORE you’re engaged - because hey, it’s never too early.

SO LET'S GET TO IT...

01. Priority Vendors: Make a list of priority vendors. Priority vendors are vendors that have a
long lead time and often book up far in advance.

-wedding planners
-the venue
-photographers
-bands or DJs


02. Set the Season: If an engagement is on the horizon and the subject with your future hubs is
something you guys talk about freely, perhaps plan a tentative season. If you know you want to
get married in the summer, start thinking about seasonal decisions:

-floral inspiration
-color pallets
-appropriate seasonal menu options for reception dinners


03. Word from the Wise: Talk to close family members or friends that have already been through the ropes. You'll likely get an ear full of references, maybe some unasked for guidance, and a “I wish I would/wouldn’t” have done list.

Me? I wish I would have cut my guest list in half for a smaller, more intimate feel. OH, and I wish I would have hired a videographer! 

Planning ahead and saving for the big day? Download The Budget Generator and Expense Tracker here.

Don’t poke fun, but I’m kind of a spreadsheet nerd. I get it from my dad. This budget and expense tracker is formula-driven. Type in your expected overall budget and Voilà, the numbers magically formulate (based on common industry standards) to what you can expect to spend.

...then track how well you behave! Don't worry, there are directions for you non-spreadsheet people.

OH another thing you may love. The ONE Page Wedding Planner. That's right. One page... I managed to comfortably fit a year's worth of to-do's on to a printable letter size sheet of paper. Stick it on your fridge ...your workspace wall. 

Happy planning to ya... errrr ...pre-planning!


hostingHope JohnsonComment
Three Scriptures EVERY Future Bride Should Memorize

Can you believe autumn?? …and if you’re from the south, I’m betting it still feels like mid-August with the occasional cold front, but nonetheless, I hope you are enjoying cooler breezes (even if it’s few and far between, Louisiana-style), all the pumpkin spiced everything, new memories, and a revitalized outlook on life as the year begins to wrap itself up.

This part of the year is one of my favorites. For obvious reasons: layers, boots, and scarves. But my work begins to shift from wrapping up late summer brides to starting the journey with upcoming new brides. This new leaf of excitement has me seeing the beginning and end at the same time, watching brides turn in to wives and watching the newly engaged start their journey. I am reminded of a set of scriptures I keep on hand. …planning a wedding, whether you find yourself in the beginning stages or final to-dos, will lead you to the same destination: a marriage. These scriptures will walk you through various moments throughout your engagement as you plan for your wedding. Write ‘em down. Save these photos. Memorize them. They’re some good ones!

Oh also, they totally work for phone screen savers ....just saying.

 
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PS: Are you a new bride? Because if you are (or maybe you know someone engaged …everyone knows someone getting married, right?)., sign up for TLBC’s Paper Dose ...because there are some wonderful things coming for 2018.

The Ultimate Guest List Guide and Download

When the hubby and I were expecting baby #1, we were on cloud nine. I admittedly had that sought after “all belly” look (which comes at a high price of extreme back pain during labor by the way). Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed being pregnant. Then a year later, here comes baby #2. …there was no all belly figure. There was no glow …except for shine of sweat from hot flashes. It was the opposite of my first pregnancy, BUT there was a brief period during the second trimester where morning sickness leveled out to a minimum and I wasn’t quiiiite nearing the physical pain and discomfort that the third trimester would soon bring.

The second trimester is referred to as “the honeymoon phase” for many expecting mothers. For brides planning a wedding, there’s a similar honeymoon phase …not the actual honeymoon, that’s later. The honeymoon phase is the middle of your engagement. You are at the half way point, celebrating at the top of the hill. You’ve tackled all the big items, what a relief, right? …and you don’t have to worry with the tedious tying of loose ends yet because hey, you still have plenty of time.

The "first trimester" of the engagement, before the honeymoon phase, can stir up some anxiety and stress. I cannot tell you how many brides admit that creating the guest list is one of THE MAJOR STRESSORS in planning. It's often what holds up the production of stationery ...you know, since the guest list sort of kind of dictates the number of invitations you need... among other things. 

The Guest List is built from many elements and much of your planning hinges on that final headcount. 

So you go to get started thinking "I'm going to tackle this and be done", but then you wonder, “what’s the proper way to address these guests anyway?” Who receives what? How do I address Uncle Joseph who is serving in the military? Does your cousin/college student who still lives with her parents need her own invitation (yes, she does)?

Take the "measure twice, cut once" approach to building your guest list. .....because if you’re going to spend the time investment collecting all the necessary information from each guest, you may as well do it right and do it once.


 
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IS THERE A PROPER WAY TO WRITE MY GUEST’S NAME?
If possible, collect the full name (first, middle, last) of your guest(s). Be sure to collect the proper social, professional, or military titles for all guests.

HOW DO I INCLUDE A GUEST AND THEIR CHILDREN?
Traditionally, a formal invitation is mailed in two envelopes. The inner envelope is reserved for the individual names of the main invitees and additional invitees, such as children or an invitee and a guest. If you are mailing your stationery in a single envelope, you would include the added invitees on the single envelope.

WHO RECEIVES WHAT?
All guests who receive a save the date should receive a wedding invitation. It should be considered that engagement party invitees should also receive at least one invitation to a pre-ceremony celebration, such as a couple’s shower or bridal shower. Every guest or person who offers a gift or service in your honor should receive a thank-you note.

ABBREVIATIONS
-Abbreviations are not used, except for Mr., Mrs., Ms.
-Jr. and Sr., along with Doctor and Military titles are preferably spelled out unless the name is particularly long written on a single line. 
-For the address line, the words Street, Avenue, Boulevard, and Post Office Box are written in full. State names should be written out.


SOCIAL TITLES
-Professional titles are written in full but social titles may be used if preferred.
-Educational degree titles are not used in wedding invitations, envelope addressing, or announcements, but replaced with social titles.
-People who are customarily addressed by their professional titles may use them on the invitation—Judge, Mayor, etc.
-If a partner holds a professional title and the spouse a social title, the professional title will outrank the social title. The wording for invitations and addresses would appear like:
Doctor Mary Wentworth and Mr. Ryan Wentworth


MILTARY TITLES
-All military titles are written in full on invitations, announcements, and addressed envelopes. The rank is traditionally included under the guest's title. It is acceptable if military personnel would rather use their professional or social titles.


MARRIED COUPLES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
If an outer and inner envelope if used, you will address the outer envelope with the formal name of the parents only. The inner envelope would

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If you know the children well, you may indicate their first names only on a single line under their parent’s name on the inner envelope. Otherwise, use the children’s full names written on their own line.

SPECIAL NOTE ON TEENAGERS IN THE HOME
Children aged thirteen and over should receive an individual invitation. If that is not possible, you may   include them with using same rules as above. If you are using formal courtesy titles, Miss is reserved for teenage girls between the age of 13 and 18, Ms. reserved for 18 and older. Teenage boys receive the title Mr. once they reach 18 years of age.
 

COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER
Couples who live together may receive their invitation together. The outer and inner envelope would be addressed as:

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SPECIAL NOTE ON COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER
If you know the couple well, you may indicate first names only on a single line for a more casual approach to the inner envelope.
 

AN INVITEE AND A GUEST
If you are using an outer and inner envelope, you would address the outer envelope to your invitee and    reserve “Mr. McGee and Guest” for the inner envelope.

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GUESTS WITH MILITARY AND PROFESSIONAL TITLES
On the inner envelope, you should treat military and professional titles as you would social titles, written in full, along with the surnames only. If one or both the invitee and spouse or guest serve in the military, the higher ranking title would appear first (regardless of the gender).
 

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Still need a hand?

Download
The Ultimate Guest List Tracker

Track your guests, addresses, rsvp replies, thank you notes, and all kinds of greatness. …or simply leave a comment below and I’ll be your answering guide!

…your Fairy Godmother of envelope & guest list etiquette.

Q&A With New Orleans Florist

For as long as I can remember, my mother would tell me "you should be a floral designer." What a dream! I love flowers ...flowers of ALL kinds. I love making wreaths and arrangements. When I got married there were two very important things on my hierarchy list of I MUST HAVE THIS, probably higher up that my own gown: the stationery (of course) and the flowers!

The problem with my mother's suggestion that is my green thumb, well, it's not green. It's more of that olive green/brown where I get real excited about spring time visits to the nursery. I buy pretty coffee table books like The Cut Flower Garden, by Erin Benzakein, with sole intensions of having a cut flower garden one day (it's in my retirement plan).

As long as my sprinkler timer is set, we are good. If it's up to me to keep the pretty flowers thriving, well, let's just say I'm better at other things. Thankfully, there are New Orleans artisans like Sarah Perez Ekanger with Antigua Floral to rescue table-scapes and flourished scenes that make your eyes turn in to cartoon hearts.

I recently interviewed Sara and what a typical day looks like for this New Orleans floral designer! 

 Kristen Soileau Photography

Kristen Soileau Photography


As a flower child at heart, it's only natural to be drawn to your floral design. Can you tell me more about how you begin work in your field? How long have you been in the floral design business? What's your background with floral design? 

Growing up my mother had a garden and we had so many plants and flowers around the house. Because of my mom, I fell in love plants!  When my husband and I moved to New Orleans as newly weds,  there was a flower shop around the corner from our place. At that flower shop, I learned so much much floral design and started freelancing around the city for about 4 years.  Fast forward to present day and Antigua Floral became a reality and is over a year old! Woo!


What does a typical day look like for Antigua Floral?  

It honestly depends on the day! Ha! From Monday -Tuesday its office life. Wed-Friday is going to the wholesaler, processing flowers and designing. Saturdays are meant for final touches and set ups. Then Sundays we sleep! 


What type of hosted event does your work primarily cater to? Moreover, what does Antigua Floral's ideal project look like? 

We do weddings, events and photoshoots, but primarily weddings. No matter what we do, we want people to walk into a space and smile when they see our florals. Flowers always makes a difference and I love making people smile! 


When you work, do you work alone, with company, to music? What's gives you motivation? 

We have a team of AMAZING  ladies! When we design, we range from listening to podcasts, listening to old school 90s rap and no matter what, we watch Ellen at 3pm. I feel most motivated when we see all of the florals and colors come together when designing. After all of the planning, it's an amazing feeling seeing all of the florals in person. 


Can you explain your process of design? ...whether for a client or personal use. How do you start?  

For a client, we hear what they are envisioning and we create a proposal for them based on that conversation including florals selection, colors and a description of each item. Once we have a set proposal and we are closer to their date, I will order the flowers and even go to the wholesaler myself to make sure we have a beautiful selection for their event. Then we will design and create floral arrangements based on the proposal making sure everything looks fresh and stunning! ( hope that I answered this one correctly!) 


Because we absolutely have to ask, what's your favorite floral?

Oh, it honestly changes almost every week! From Cafe Au Laits dahliahs, kiera garden roses to a classic white peony, they really do vary! Ha!


If you had to critique, what would you say the biggest eye sore in a floral arrangement? Is there a typical flower that's just considered a bad choice? Is there a design or arrangement concept that makes your nose cringe? Let's hear the do's and the dont's! 

I'm not too sure if there is a correct answer for this one. I would say that a "pet-peeve" would be when an arrangement looks tired. No matter the budget, you put your effort and creativity in each arrangements fulfilling your clients request. Flowers make people happy and every client should enjoy their arrangements. Also, I don't like baby's breath. :) 


What other creative areas do you spend your time on? Further, what other arts do you follow for personal or inspirational purposes? 

I really wish that I can say that I do other things! I do enjoy working out and I've been running lately. When I run, I feel like it clears up my mind and even get my best ideas after! True story! 

 Kristen Soileau Photography

Kristen Soileau Photography

 Katie Osgood Photography

Katie Osgood Photography


 Sun + Life Photography

Sun + Life Photography

Sara's work has been featured on Borrowed and BlueExpertise,  Kate Osgood, Sun + Life, and 100 Layered Cake!

If you're in route to New Orleans to tie the knot, reach out to Sara and let her working hands do some magic for your big day!

Marriage Lessons from The Gaines

What I learned about myself after reading The Magnolia Story, by The Gaines ...and how surprised I was.

A few years ago, during my little one's nap time, I tried to listen to all of the veteran moms that barked the repetition: "you should nap when they nap." On a Wednesday afternoon, I attempted to rest as I flipped through the channels stumbling across the newly popular show, Fixer Upper. You know, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Jo Jo (my long lost half sister). I'm slightly embarrassed to admit, but I cried once I finished the episode. It was THAT beautiful. 

Now, I should state that I was newly pregnant with baby #2 at the time, so emotions (and maybe hormones), were heightened. But nonetheless, I was just overwhelmed with excitement that someone got me. Finally, someone understood the value of character and charm and how it alone could tell the best story. It was a show about how chasing the next big thing wasn't the answer, it was the it's always been right here that was so beautiful. 

Soon, the world would have the same epiphany as white washed shiplap became in high demand. The highly sought out Farm House look was Pinterest's most searched terms. I grew up in a house built in 1911. There were transoms above every door, large based boards and crown molding, and all the charm a house that old comes with. The show became a natural attraction for me.

I was anxious to read The Magnolia Story and dig deeper in their story. I was actually scared to read it. I'm an extremely ambitious person, almost to a fault. I jump high when I jump and often catch too much air. You see, there are constant battles I face daily. I often find myself constantly reaching forward before finishing what's in front of me.

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So I carved out some time over the course of a week to read the book ...that I finished in two days. It was honestly exhausting ...in all the wondrous ways. It was challenging, it was inspiring, it was eye opening.

I learned some interesting things about myself and how I may relate to the story plus three astonishing marriage revelations.

I AM MORE LIKE CHIP THAN JOANNA.

What now!? That's right. Anyone who knows me knows I have an eye for simplicity, for that sweet primitive farm house appeal. But after reading The Magnolia Story, I realized I am much more like Chip in so many ways. Joanna was the safety net and Chip was the risk taker and entrepreneur. When I was 18 years old, I saw this property that had plenty of road frontage. Young and full of ambition (and nothing to lose), I thought "I could subdivide this and make two pieces of land out of this one and double my investment." ...and that's exactly what I did. ...and I did it a few more times. By twenty, Michael and I were replicated this 1800s historic Acadian style home that we live in today ...with four extra feet gracing the hallways.

...but I'm still a Joanna, designer at heart.

Aside from the obvious delight in The Magnolia Story, there became a series of elemental lessons I learned through my reading that have cleared some fog that seemed to have acculumated itself on my heart's windows.


Choosing Humility. Throughout the book, you see an unleveling trust in a higher power. There's an unbreakable faith in The Lord as He moved disciples of His, through the graces and not-so-graceful moments of life. It's easy for individuals to long for the future and what it holds (guilty). Paul David Tripp writes in his book "Awe," [people] never really understood God's agenda between the already and the not yet, and because they didn't their faith didn't rescue, encourage, protect, comfort, or guide them. Tripp's book is a series of intense lessons of the value of what humility can do for your soul. Applied here though, it's the same lesson. The same exercise of portraying pure humility for yoru life, both the good, the graceful, the bad, and the learning experiences ...all to sum up in trusting your story. The already. And the not yet.

Grace in a Marriage. There's a certain level of unsafe territory when your spouse is an entrepreneur, twice the carry-on baggage if BOTH partners are entrepreneurs. You never know what the times will bring, you never know what the economy will present, and you never know when that wild card will lay itself on your table as your spouse brings home yet another great idea. What I love about the Gaines is their indestructible devotion towards their marriage. It's a very real representation of "in the good times and the bad." There's a graceful trust umbrella they hold together over their hearts and marriage. I found I admired that deeply as I realized my husband and I hold the same umbrella, holding it hand-in-hand together. I write this not long after my husband comes home with our third fixer upper of the year. There was one line in the book early on from Joanna that basically said "well, I married him, so I'm in it..." Something along those lines. That kind of grace really acts as a daily glue in a marriage, and I'm in it. Good times and bad.

Faith & Risk ...and the difference between the two. When you accept and follow the ministry of your heart, your life will present itself to you ...by Him. You are not promised or guaranteed greatness. You are not assured financial security or a worry-free career or a get-out-of-jail-free card. You are will be tested to jump off of what seems like an impossible cliff. You will hear His voice lead you towards doors to close and doors to open. You may hear that voice urging a career change, a leap of faith, a jump. You will be guided, at every moment ...but only if you listen. I learned the great difference between faith and risk after reading The Magnolia Story. Having faith means you are listening to Him as you are lead through life's journeys and roads, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense on paper. Taking risks, un-calculated ones anyway, means you are listening to You as your lead yourself through your life's journeys and roads.


So go find a cozy corner spot and read The Magnolia Story. You won't regret it. It's just a heart-warming and inspirational story of a very relatable journey, whether you're an entrepreneur, mother, father, creative, non-creative, or in any walk in your life. 

...and if nothing else, it'll surely make you want to plant a garden and find an old 20's fixer upper to flip!

Summer Tea Cocktail Recipe

Summer is well before us, in all its glory. The locust sing their songs well in to the evening. There are swimsuits hanging to dry. The freezer is full of homemade popscicles and the days simply aren't long enough. 

I'm a natural born summer lover. With a May birthday, I'm a bit forced to love the summer. Now, May is technically spring, yes, but in Louisiana, we go straight from winter to summer around this time and I'm always itching for that first sweat first thing in the morning heat. Don't get me wrong, that heat becomes overbearing, but that's when you just need to find some water to dive in to.

There's no pressure during those summer months. Kids are out of school, vacations are in the works, usual bedtimes seem to be just a little later... My favorite part of summer are all the impromptu get-togethers that inevitably happen. Friends end up piling together as the little kids wear themselves chasing fireflies and the grown ups talk about the same ole' high school stories we always talk about. There are summer infused foods, lots of ice-cream (with way too many sprinkles), and beat-the-heat cocktails like this tasty one from Ashlyn Holmes of Shirley and Eadie, a blog about food, fiber arts, homemaking, gratefulness, and love.

Ashlyn is just the best thing on earth and on a mission to soak up the littlest simplest moments of our everyday and give thanks for them all. If you're not a follower of her blog or instagram, you should be! I reached out to Ashlyn for a sweet summer cocktail and as usual, she didn't disappoint. 


SUMMER TEA COCKTAIL

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 tsp. Piper and Leaf Sweet Dixie Tea (or your favorite summer loose leaf tea)
Fresh Mint
Vodka
Lemons
Agave


Directions

1. Place loose leaf tea in a pitcher or teapot and add 3 cups of water. Place in the fridge and allow to brew for at least six hours.

2. Place 2 to 3 mint leaves in the bottom of each glass a long with the juice of half a lemon and muddle.

3. Add an ounce of vodka to each glass.

4. Using a strainer, top each drink with tea leaving a bit of room in the glass for ice.

5. Add ½ tsp. of agave to each drink and stir.

6. Top with ice and serve.


THE little BLUE CHAIR - summer cocktail - Shirley & Eadie Featuring Piper and Leaf Tea Co.-1.JPG
THE little BLUE CHAIR - summer cocktail - Shirley & Eadie Featuring Piper and Leaf Tea Co.-6.JPG

Another fantastic reason why I love Ashlyn and all that she stands for: she knows all kinds of great things! ...like this company, Piper & Leaf. Local to Huntsville, Alabama, this tea artisan tea company has some amazing products, from subscriptions, to locally foraged tea blends, to wedding favors to ...YES, a traveling wedding tea bar service! Can you imagine how charming a tea bar at a wedding would be? I can't get enough of that thought.

Check out more about Piper & Leaf's wedding catering (and all of their lovely goods) HERE and check out Ashlyn's blog HERE and add them both to your arsenal of amazing things. 


THE little BLUE CHAIR - summer cocktail - Shirley & Eadie Featuring Piper and Leaf Tea Co.-2.JPG
 

A little bit more about Ashlyn. Ashlyn has curated the blog, Shirley and Eadie, named after both of my sweet and strong grandmothers. ...a space to share her love of fiber arts, good home cooking, and southern traditions which she is inspired by the two lovely ladies mentioned above. 

Ashlyn lives with her husband in their 1920s farmhouse and for that reason alone, I'm a big fan and follower. I'm a sucker for charming old homes.


Check her out on instagram (click here).

Handwritten Notes

Do whatever you think would be pretty! I like neutrals. 

That's what this bride of mine told me when it was time to plan her wedding stationery. Now granted, this bride is one of my best friends on the earth. Her and I go way back to first grade, where we did not like each other, but nonetheless our friendship has tested time and won. So here I am, bridesmaid/planner/friend/stationery designer. 

Amber and Shane. Shane and Amber. Shamber? No, let's not. These two though are the sweetest example of God's work in the series of waiting for THE ONE. I have never seen this woman smile as much as I have in these last few years. 

I was honored to host a fun holiday themed bridal shower with an Italian menu, since they were planning an Italian honeymoon. It rained. It POURED actually. I was so upset because I had my outdoor area decorated for the holidays, but we couldn't use the space. In turn though, it forced everyone to the porches and house in a beautiful way. The entire day quickly turned to intimate conversations, good food, and traditional southern hospitality. You can see more of that here. In exchange for helping inspire some planning aspects, maybe living vicariously through her, I got to see her wedding dress before all of the other bridesmaids. ...which was a terrible idea because I'm the WORST secret keeper. I told Amber I needed to see it for stationery inspiration, which was a slight fib on my part. I just wanted to see her dress. When I found out Shane was going to propose, I avoided Amber for months.

PS: sorry if you thought I was mad at you

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

When it was time to plan the wedding, she pretty much let me hold the reins, at least for her stationery. 

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THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_2.jpg
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THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_4.jpg

NEUTRALS + FLORALS + VINTAGE STAMPS
...always a winner. 

One of the things I really regret with my own weddings is not writing my own vows. Maybe it's in hindsight, because I know my husband would be full of giggles displaying his emotions up at the alter, but I still wish we would have written them for each other. However, what I do treasure are all of his handwritten notes over the years. I have a sticky note on my computer, the computer I'm typing from now, that says "hey! you are beautiful." 

I adore the moment before a wedding when a bride is reading a note from her groom. Tradition calls that you are not to see your bride or groom on the wedding day. But that note. It's like they're there, right there in your ear, whispering all the words you'd want to hear on such a day.

Handwritten notes are said to be falling in to the dying art category, but OH I disagree. There's a heightened revival of handwritten notes. I believe that this current generation is craving tradition, hoping for intimacy, and longing for the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest of theirs. In a world of reproductions, quick response time, and energy spread so thin, it's barely seen, having a moment to stop time and read will pause your heart and mind. In this world and for this next generation, we need more and more of that.
 

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

Margaret Shepherd published the book "The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication." In her book, she exclaims that the handwritten note is NOT in fact a dying art, that it's alive more than ever. In her introduction, I love how she writes this simple explanation of the power of the handwritten note:


...it certainly is an art, because it brings out the best in both the person who creates it and the person who looks at it.
— The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication

Could anything be more true? I am that person that keeps EVERYTHING. I have paintings and drawings from my childhood (that my mom thought I should keep at my house) and have started to create a hefty collection of notes and drawings from my own kids. I have every note I've written my husband ...and every one he's left for me. I have notes my great-grandfather sent my great-grandmother. I have handwritten grocery lists from my grandparents. You just can't throw that away. That's gold. I don't see our children's children scrolling through old text messages of their ancestors, reminiscing about these days. Let's leave them something to hold. 

If my dear husband would have texted me the same message I have written on this sticky note, "hey! You are beautiful," I would have smiled, yes, and continued on my day. It's written down now. I see it every day. It's a constant reminder of his most honest and bare heart from the day he wrote that simple little note.

So maybe you're not the express your own vows at the alter type, but that doesn't stop you from getting your message to your loved ones. Leave a sticky note, leave a message in the front seat of your love's vehicle. Leave a written note of encouragement in your spouse's sock drawer. Leave special notes out for your kids. Write more. ..and write ALL the time. It's a practice and an art.  

I guess that's why I love stationery so much. It's sort of like a handwritten note to all of your loves ones that witnessed your big day. I have a boxes and boxes of notes, a boxes of evolving pictures from my little ones, and yes. I have a box of wedding invitations from friends and family. 

What's going to fill your hope chest?

Pure Vintage Rentals - a must have Louisiana wedding vendor

The south. The south brings with it a wedding scene like no other. From antebellum plantation homes to the second lines in New Orleans, it's always a magical existence when you are greeted and graced with the formal hospitality of a southern gathering such as a wedding. The wedding industry in South Louisiana is tailor made to style nothing short of a the perfect alluring garden soirée or the captivating panorama of the Mississippi River as it gracefully mantles the city of New Orleans. There are so many hidden gems.

Ashley Smith of Pure Vintage Rentals is one of those hidden gems. Not so hidden actually; featured on many national publications, such as Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, Ruffled Blog, Junebug Weddings, and Artfully Wed, to name a few.

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

PV Rentals has a timeless meets boho meets industrial aesthetic found through out their pieces and when mixed together, always create a beautiful mesh of an experience for her clients and their guests.

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Ashley has curated a jaw dropping collection of antiques, architectural pieces, accessories, and furnishings. She and her husband find her rentals traveling the gulf and east coast, from New Orleans to North Carolina. Her husband, being the handy man he is, has also built many of their pieces.

Ashley's ideal client has a keen understanding over the overall wedding vision, entrusting PV Rentals and their experience to execute the design. An intimate and organic backyard wedding, marked with candle light, floral infused table-scapes, and a cozy lounge area makes a good day for PV Rentals.

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans


Note from TLBC:

I've worked with PV Rentals both personally and commercially and Ashley is nothing short of remarkable. She has a fine eye for detail and has a homey, organic feel to everything her designer heart touches, and she's adorable.

You won't regret adding this gem to your wedding vendor list.

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Don't forget to look...

When you're my age, it's probable that you've witnessed a marriage ceremony or two, both as a guest or a bridesmaid. I was recently a bridesmaid in TWO weddings this past spring. It's been a very active wedding season for me. I will say though, these two weddings were probably my last to attend as a bridesmaid. I'm pretty sure most of my friends are married. My sister is still left, but no doubt she will elope. I found myself super emotional actually. I mean, I was married before I could legally drink. Fast forward almost a decade later, I have learned how much I've grown as a designer and person. I wondered what our wedding would have been like if we had met later in life and married closer to thirty rather than barely twenty. 

I digress. When it comes to attending a wedding, I think men and women have different perspectives. When I open up that pretty wedding stationery, I'm instantly giddy. I mean, who doesn't love a reason to dress up, a heartfelt ceremony, followed by a dance floor? ...well, not that part. I can't dance. Men. When my husband learns one of his weekends is booked up, he grumbles at the thought of putting on decent clothes and a pair of matching socks. I can physically feel his eyes roll as he lets out the most dramatic, award winning sigh. 

Inevitably though, as the wedding day comes and the excitement fills the air, you can't help but feel the love. A few years ago, Michael and I stood by two of our best friends as they tied the knot. As we stood up at the alter, him next to the groom and me next to the bride, we made eye contact. Like any true female, I was probably hoping for a wink or smile with a rush of emotion swept across his face as he looked in to my eyes thinking "this was us, I love you so much." Maybe even a teary eyed gleam. Nope. He did send an expression my way, but it was a goofy, crossed eyed silly face. No tears, that's for sure. Except the ones I was holding back with laughter. 

Men and women may look at weddings with a complete opposite perspective. At least my husband and I do, but emotions are unavoidable. Despite his silliness, Michael and I have never attended a wedding were our own emotions were not heightened with joy and nostalgia as we realize how much we've accomplished as a couple and how much we have grown in love, from two teenagers to newlyweds to parents. 

 photo by The Picture People LA

photo by The Picture People LA

Look your loved one in the eyes, smile (or make a silly face). I mean, if you could shed a tear or two, that would be great too. More importantly though, that look must be shed far more often than across the crowd at your next wedding. 

That look, in its most sensible form, is paramount whether its across a dance floor or across the kitchen table. 

 an old favorite from Quaint + Whim

an old favorite from Quaint + Whim

A few weeks ago, Michael and I sat down for dinner and we felt like we were on the outside looking in (with a possible reality show on our hands). The dog had sped through the front door covered in mud and took a slight curve to make sure she could use the couch for a sling shot of momentum out the back door. The kids were two steps behind her, the girl had no clothes on, except for some fairy wings, the boy right next to her, fleeing out the back door. Michael and I just gave each other this widen eyed glare like "what in the world" as we noticed the scattered trucks and baby dolls around the house. We both immediately smiled as we silently gave each other the "this is our life" look ...and we savored that moment. 

 spring wedding season selfie

spring wedding season selfie

 the previously mentioned wild ones

the previously mentioned wild ones

Those looks will change throughout the years. Marriage is a series of tidal waves, coming and going with ease and hardships. It's a balancing act of faith and patience, of grace and grit. Before you know it, you're hand in hand with your husband, wondering how 7+ years got here so quick; wondering how in the world people make it to 30 and 50 years. I can hear Michael saying "oh Lord, 50 years" right now. Trust me, if we've put up with each other's antics this long, we're in it for the long haul. 

I pray simply that I will always give and get the look ...be it a teary eyed gleam or a goofy laugh induced face. 

Dinner napkins, dollies, and southern women

Hosting at home is just something my family does. ...and it's usually to the nines. For a while, I didn't know the difference between napkins and dinner napkins. Paper plates, my grandmother would have a heart attack. You use glass plates. ...and a different type of glass plate depending on what you're serving. A few weeks ago, I was out and about and I get a frantic call from my mom, "are you going to town?" 

Side Note: I (along with everyone I've ever known) live in a small town near Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is just NOT that far away, maybe 15-20 minutes from our small town. So I always laugh when my mom asks "are you going to town?" like it's a huge day-long endeavor.  

She needed cream dollies, not stark white, not too beige, CREAM. I'm not sure if this is a southern thing, but dollies are the small, ornate mandala looking lace paper circles that you'd place under a plate of sweets. My mother and aunts are obsessed with them and it's become a family joke. 

My dear cousin will soon be wed this April and at the end of March, the family threw her a bridal shower to celebrate. My mother, grandmother, and aunts put their hosting genes together to host nothing short of a good ole southern brunch for the bride to be. 

I'm the girl with the sweets. If you have a cookie up at the register I can buy, you bes' believe I'm leaving with it. Open my purse, you'll find something with sugar to eat. My sweet mom had in her mind to have these hand painted cookies for the shower, no doubt something she saw on Pinterest in the middle of the night. So I tried my hand at them. Don't judge, they are so ...rough. But GOODNESS they tasted good.

My other cousin (we have lots of cousins) is the baker behind The Bakery Bar in New Orleans and when I asked her for a solid sugar cookie recipe, I knew she wouldn't disappoint. The fondant and watercolor tutorial was my own Pinterest find. You can check that out here.

Fondant with pretty flowers or not, the sugar cookie recipes is below, passed on with love.

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CLASSIC SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

you will need:
-
8oz of butter (two sticks)
-8oz of sugar (about one cup)
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-12oz of flour (about two cups)
-1 teaspoon of baking powder

instructions:
Combine your butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a standing or hand-mixer. Once combined evenly, mix in the remaining ingredients. That's it, seriously. 

It's best to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is completely chilled, but once chilled, you can roll out the cookies, wrap the dough in a cylinder shape, or shaped in to round balls. The world is your oyster. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

For the cookies above, I shaped about 3 tablespoons of dough in a round ball, flatted out the ball with the bottom of a glass drinking cup, and baked for 10 minutes. I wanted the cookie and the fondant to be the same size for more of a biscuit affect, so I took a cookie cutter to the cookie after it was baked.

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I love encouraging at-home hosted parties, on the occasion of a bridal shower or as simple as a porch party. Our family loves a good porch party. ...you know, the ones that started as a simple visit, but then you end up on the porch well in to the night telling the same ole stories you've heard 1000 times! Those are the best. 

...and I always encourage cookies.

I still blush when he introduces me as "His Wife"

The wedding has passed. You are home from your honeymoon. You have hit the one year ...then somehow, the eight year anniversary. 


Years of marriage will surely unavoidably change you, as a person and as a couple. I remember saying to my high school self, "I will never NOT have mascara on in front of my future husband." I can hear my husband laughing now. Hilariously naive, right? High school sweet hearts and what feels like a century later, we are in bed by 8:00pm, no make up on this face, and kids begging for five more minutes. Five or six years ago, I couldn't tell you what we did in our pre-children days. I suppose we stayed up late. Maybe we went out ...or stayed in watching our shows and not Curious George reruns or Frozen (for the 100th time). 

On the contrary though, I recently told someone, in the midst of I'm sure a yawn, that I still feel like I'm in the honeymoon phase. It's certainly ...different. It's definitely not room service for a Mexican platter of snacks and mojitos. It's more like left over mac and cheese and recorded Nick Jr. shows. In many ways though, it's the same. I am loved in so many of the same ways, plus loads more. 

Everyone has their things, right? The little things you do for each other. My parents, I know if my marriage yields half the return theirs has, I'll consider mine a success. Every morning, my dad brings my mom coffee. I don't know that I've ever seen my mom fix herself coffee, in the morning anyway. They drink coffee ALL day. They'll make a fresh pot at 5:00pm before dinner. These things though, every couple has their own set of idiosyncrasies and mannerisms. I think these sentiments are what almost subconsciously keep the honeymoon phase present. 

Michael, bless his heart, doesn't get enough credit for how wonderful he is. I recently started to take note of our own mannerisms and things that haven't changed in our near eight years. ...and I hope they never do. 

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10 things that haven't changed since we've said "I do."

1) It's a rare car ride if my husband doesn't hold my hand.
2) As much as I hate it (but secretly love it), I am still serenaded with music in the morning ...but with replaced, goofy, sometimes inappropriate, made up lyrics.
3) I go by my middle name. Jessica is actually my first name, but no one calls me Jessica. ...except for Michael, who refers to me as Jess sometimes. I like it. 
4) When I'm home and the hubby is out of town, I can't sleep. Neither can he. We always end up texting "are you awake?" in the wee hours of the night, then start up a conversation. 
5) In a crowded room, if we make eye contact, I get a wink.
6) I know if my husband happens to read this post, he will probably feel like I'm displaying his man-card for grabs for being too mushy. He's a pretty sentimental guy, but no one would know it.
7) When I'm fixing dinner, I make sure he gets the plate the looks the best. 
8) He still dances with me ...even when I'm being stubborn and "too busy," he will force me until I put down the laundry and stop. It's really annoying and endearing. 
9) There is a pure trust we have in each other. I trust him when he's driving, he trusts me with child raising. We trust our plans and our faith. ...and I can always trust that he knows how to fix/assemble the random furniture or projects I bring home.
10) I still have this inner giggle, the butterflies I guess, when I hear him introduce me as his wife. I remember the first time I was introduced with such a title. I know my face turned red. Still to this day, there's a flutter inside when I hear his country voice say the word wife.

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I don't think there's ONE secret key in a marriage. I don't think it's at all possible to avoid the change that will materialize over the years. Marriage is a tide of easy waves, then hard waves. It's a constant ebb and flow of happiness, hardships, challenges, adventure, excitement, and every emotion in the book. There are no promises it will be easy, but nothing worth it in life is, right? 

Now that I'm a big mess of tears as I write this, I'll go take this mascara off, because ...well I mean we've been married for a while. Mascara is for leaving the house. 

Make a list of ten things in your relationship that haven't changed. Safeguard that list and bring it to life. You may be surprised at how much hasn't changed (in a good way). I'd love to hear the silly little things you and your spouse do for each other!

PS: Thank you ThePicturePeopleLA for capturing these sweet moments.