Goals for 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!!!  I'm still in total disbelief that 2016 is over and we've been gifted with a brand new year.  Time seems to be flying by faster and faster and it's just plain crazy.  2016 was a pretty great year for me {I shared lots of my favorite business moments here last week} and in some ways I'm sad to see it go.  But I'm also beyond pumped to make 2017 an even better year, both personally and professionally.

I've got big dreams for this little business of mine and also big goals to better myself.  I always like to share a few of my goals on here to help hold myself accountable.  So here goes nothin!

Book an Out-of-State Wedding
One of my goals in 2016 was to book a wedding outside of Hampton Roads.  And I did!  Thanks to my dear friends Julia and Justin, I coordinated my first wedding at King Family Vineyard in Crozet, VA.  It was an absolutely perfect day and I can't wait to share more of it later this month!  Now this year, I want to coordinate a wedding outside of Virginia.  I would love to take JDE to North Carolina or Maryland...but if I'm dreaming big and putting it all out there, I'd cry the happiest tears if I booked a wedding in Nashville or Charleston.

Take Better Care of Myself
2016 seemed to be the year of putting myself last and letting myself gooooo.  I'm not proud of the shape I'm in or the habits I've developed, and I'm ready to be a better me.  So my goal for this year is to wake up earlier, eat healthier, drink more water, and workout regularly.    Yes I know how cliche that sounds this time of year.  But I'm making a promise to myself to do better.

Begin Transitioning to Part Time in my Day Job
This is a huge one to admit ya'll.  HUGE.  March marks 6 years {!!!!!} of operating JDE while working a full time job.  It's been some of the hardest work I've ever done and I've loved just about every second of it.  But now it's about time I start making a few changes so that I can focus more and more on growing this business.  It's going to mean more hard work and some big changes, but I'm ready to embrace all of that 100%.

Get Outside More
If you know me at all, you know I love to be outside.  I love to play sports, go for long runs, go hunting with Wes, hike mountains, spend time on the beach with my puppy.  I tend to feel more like ME when I'm outside.  But over the last year or so, I've let work take over.  Between working 8-10 hours at my day job and then coming home to accomplish as much as I can before bedtime, I haven't been making much time at all to be outside.  About a month or so ago, I made myself a promise that I would start doing whatever I could to better balance work and life.  Right about that time, I was invited to be a part of a local group called Girls Who Hike, put together by a wedding friend of mine.  I'm so excited for my first hike with the group later this month!  I can't wait to be outside, meeting new people, and having some time to hit the reset button.

So there they are....my four big goals for the year.  I have a handful of smaller goals, simple things I want to accomplish.  But these are the ones that I'm putting the most effort into and marking as most important.

I'd love to hear what you are planning to accomplish this year.  How are you holding yourself accountable?  I'd love to cheer you on!

Weekend Recap: Northern Neck Wineries

A couple weeks ago, the stars aligned and Wes and I both had a day off, without work or plans with friends.  This so rarely happens.  Usually when it does, we stay home on the couch, snuggle the puppy, open a bottle of wine, and catch up on the shows we have on the DVR.  But this time, we decided to take a quick trip to check out a few wineries we hadn’t yet visited.  We headed to the Northern Neck of Virginia, about two hours from home.  The drive, despite the drizzly weather, was absolutely beautiful!

The first stop we made was at Athena Vineyards in Heathsville.  It was so adorable.  It’s a small little building with a super cute front porch with rockers and everything.  Their wines were really yummy too!

Next up was my favorite of the day….Good Luck Cellars in Kilmarnock.  You guys….this place was gorgeous.  They have 3000 square feet of covered porch wrapping around the building which made the best spot for us to eat the big lunch I packed us.  Their wines were definitely my favorite, the staff was so nice, and it was just a perfect spot.  I can’t wait to go back.

Our last stop was at Dog & Oyster Vineyard in Irvington.  While we didn’t love the wines from here, this place was more about the experience.  We sat outside on a screened-in porch while we tasted and ate fresh oysters.  The tables were covered in oyster shells that everyone had written notes on.  And we could see the two packs of rescued beagles running around the vineyards.  On the way out, we stopped to take pictures with the 40-foot tall corkscrews that flank the entrance.

Somehow I managed to come home with only one bottle of wine from each winery.  If you know me at all, you know this is a huge success for me, as I really like wine.  I suppose I’ll also call the Like I said, this doesn’t happen often.  So we really soaked up the time to just be together and laugh at each other.  And of course, drink wine together.

Update: #ourboywyatt

Remember that 11 pound puppy we brought home back in February???  Yeah well, he’s now an 85 pound lap dog.  He’s by far the best thing to ever happen to our little family.  Wes and I probably say 15 times a day how good he is….and how pretty he is….and how we love him more than anything ever.  I keep telling Wes that, if a little puppy-fluff made us total pushovers, we’re going to have serious problems if we ever have human babies.

In the past few months, Wyatt has learned lots of manners {he doesn’t jump on people at all anymore and he doesn't beg while you eat}.  He’s learned to stay out of his kennel all day without eating most of the walls in our condo.  He’s turned snugglier than ever and has grown a thousand times more attached to Wes.  He’s learned a whole bunch of commands and how to hunt dove.  He’s pretty much the smartest dog in the world and certainly the prettiest {I might be biased}.

We just love him so incredibly much and he's changed our little family for the better.

So here are a few new pictures of my sweet boo.  Enjoy!

It's Possible

As some of you may know, I‘ve been running Just Dandy Events part time for the past 5 years.  Like so many other small business owners, I also work a full time job.  From 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, I sit in front of a computer in a corporate office, wishing I was 100% my own boss.  I’m working as hard as I can right now to get to the point of being able to make my own schedule, answer only to myself and my couples, and put my family first as much as possible.  I’ll get there eventually.  But for now, my reality is a delicate balance between my day job and my dream job….and everything in between.  A few weeks ago, this balance was seriously tested.

I was told I had to travel to Maryland for about 36 hours to attend a summit for my day job.  To say I was unhappy about this would be an understatement.  First of all, I cherish my evenings with my little family.  Especially this time of year, when we’re coming out of summer where Wes & I very rarely get any time together.  Up to this point, I hadn’t even spent a night away from #ourboywyatt yet since we brought him home in February {yes I’m that dog mom}.  And honestly, I'm just very much a homebody.  So being away for "so long" was not a happy thought for me.

Second, my evenings are often used to work on JDE things {whatever I can’t get done during my lunch breaks}.  I tend to blog in the evenings while Wes and I watch football.  I answer emails while I cook dinner and work on projects right before bed while Wes showers.  Again, balance.  To add a little more urgency to my workload, I had a really big and important styled shoot for the Aisle Society quickly approaching {I can't wait to share more about this!} and I felt like I needed to spend every bit of my down time working on that.

Sadly, my bosses did not agree.  And so I flew to Baltimore around 5am on a Tuesday.  I spent my time before dawn sitting at the gate working on wedding day timelines on my tablet.  When I landed and took the hour long ride to the office, I was on my phone answering emails from my brides.  I sat through 8 hours of meetings and then spent 45 minutes working from my hotel bed...on conference calls, working out details for the AS styled shoot, and handling a hundred other things that needed to be done….all before going out for a company outing to a Baltimore Orioles game.

When I got home the next evening, surprisingly, I didn’t feel that behind.  I didn’t feel like I’d been “out of office” for close to two straight days.  I felt like I still had a pretty good handle on everything that I had coming up.

 When I was packing for my time away, I made sure to bring any and everything that I thought I might need to get some serious JDE work done while I was “out of office”.  I packed my planner {let’s be real, I am never without my planner}, my notebook, my tablet, and notes from all the projects I had going on.  I was 100% prepared to run my business, regardless of not being at a desk and in front of my computer.  I made it happen.

Those 36 hours were not my favorite...by any stretch.  But you know, I was almost as productive then as I was when I was home in Virginia.  And for that, I was so proud of myself.
My point in recapping all of this, is that it’s possible.  No matter how much you have on your plate.  No matter what big projects and impending deadlines you have approaching.  No matter how much extra “stuff” you have being thrown your way.  It’s possible.  You can get everything accomplished that you want to and need to and dream of, as long as you put in the work.  You have to prioritize and plan and prepare.  But it’s possible.

My Blog Reading List

Do ya’ll ever wonder what we did before the internet, blogs, pinterest, and all that jazz?  I can tell you what we did.  We did research in libraries instead of on Google.  We {or at least I} had binders filled with magazine clippings…recipes, décor ideas, wedding stuff.  And as for blogs….well I guess we just read what was in books and magazines.  Which means, unless you were really someone, your word never got out to anyone else.  That's depressing.

I just love that everyone can have a voice now if they want to.  Anyone can publish a blog and I like being able to “get to know” someone on the other side of the country, or even the world, by reading their stories.  I have a long list of ones that I follow and read on a weekly basis.  They range from wedding stuff to food, from DIY to just plain life.  Here are a few of my favorites that you just might enjoy!
What are some of YOUR favorite blogs?!  I’ve always got room for a few more on my reading list!

An Update on Life

So….summer is winding down.  And I honestly couldn’t be happier to see it go.  I’m not really a “summer girl”.  I like the sunshine just as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong.  But really, I just prefer fall over summer.  I don’t like to sweat!  I like to wear jeans, scarves, and boots.  I love the smell of pumpkin and anything Wes is cooking in the smoker.  Football on the tv, hunting on the weekends.  All things that make my heart so happy.  Come on September 22nd!  In the meantime, I guess I should celebrate what has been this summer.
Just Dandy Events has been crazy busy in so many good ways.  I’m beyond thankful for all the great things I’ve had the opportunity to participate in over the last few months.  I’ve had two beautiful weddings, with a third coming up next weekend.  I’ve styled three shoots that were gorgeous and such a blast to be a part of.  I’ve attended parties and met tons of new wedding friends.  I took a mini road trip with my #vendorsoulmate and celebrated her accomplishment of going full time.  2015 has really felt like “my year” as far as JDE is concerned and this summer has definitely proved that.

Heidi Calma Photography

  On a more personal level, I’ve spent lots and lots of time with my sweet puppy.  #ourboywyatt is growing like crazy and he’s becoming more and more fun.  I was afraid he would grow out of his snuggly phase super quickly, but so far that hasn’t happened.  He still enjoys his snuggling time with me every afternoon and then, when Wes finally comes home from work, he’s glued to him until the next morning.  It’s wonderful to have him as part of our family.  I just don’t know what we did before he came along!

  If you know me and Wes at all, you know that summer isn’t our season for togetherness.  We see very little of each other because he works some crazy long hours at the marina and, hello….it’s Wedding Season for me.  I see him in the mornings around 6:15 when I hand him his coffee and his lunch and he heads out the door.  And then most evenings I see him sometime between 9:30 and 11:30 when I hand him his dinner.  While fall brings on hunting season and takes him away from home for days at a time, at least then he’s not home long enough to make a mess that I’m left to clean up and I’m only cooking for one person.  :)  So again, come on September.  But, we’re celebrating our date-aversary this weekend and I love that boy more than I ever have before.  10 years as friends, 6 years together, and he’s still the best person in my life.  I’m a lucky girl to say the least.
So that’s it….my little life update.  Things are wonderful and crazy and the absolute best they’ve ever been.  I’m so thankful for this phase of my life and can’t wait to see what fall brings!

10 Random Facts about Holly

I don't feel like I'm all that interesting of a person to be perfectly honest.  :D  But I always love when the bloggers I follow post a few fun facts about themselves.  Makes me feel like I "know" them a little better.  So I figured why not share a few about myself?

1. I have a recurring nightmare about being back in high school and forgetting the combination to my locker.  I wake up in a cold sweat every time.
2. I can’t stand grocery shopping.  I dread walking through those sliding doors like some people dread getting gas in the cold.  If I could pay someone to do the shopping for me and deliver it to my door, I would without thinking twice.
3. There really isn’t a single food I refuse to try at least once.  I’ve found that I’m totally in love with a few foods that I wouldn’t have guessed I'd like.
4. I do my best work in the evenings with country music on the radio and a glass of wine in my hand.  Having a yummy candle burning doesn’t hurt either.  Favorite scents include: Autumn Wreath & Raspberry Ice Sangria
5. Despite the fact that I'm not pregnant, nor have I ever been, I feel like I’m in a constant state of nesting.  I’m always trying to make our home more comfortable and pretty.  It’s annoying, and expensive.
6. I am absolutely petrified of clowns.  More so than snakes or spiders or sharks.  The whole thing started when I watched that Stephen King movie, It.  Terrible idea.
7. When I was a kid, I was convinced I was going to be a dolphin trainer when I "grew up" {when does that happen anyways?}.  If not a dolphin trainer, then a ballerina or a gymnast.  Turns out, none of those were in the cards for me.  Thank goodness.
8. If I find something in a store or online that I absolutely adore and must have, I immediately start figuring out a way I can DIY it.  Or have one of my incredibly talented friends DIY it for me.  There's something to be said about someone coming into your home or office, complimenting something you have there, and being able to tell them "oh thanks, I made it."  I love that feeling.  A lot.
9. 9 times out of 10, I'll choose to stay home, on my couch with my puppy and my guy, and of course a glass of wine...over going out for any reason.  Even if food is offered.  That's saying something.
10. I'm really great at keeping our laundry washed/dried.  However, after it's taken out of the dryer, it almost never gets folded & put away.  I hate that part of the laundry cycle and avoid it every chance I get.

So there you have it!  A bit of random knowledge about this crazy interesting girl {insert sarcasm here}.  Tell me something random about yourself.  I'd love to know you better!!

What Made Me Want To Be A Wedding Planner

Every time I meet a new friend in the industry, I’m asked why I started Just Dandy Events.  “What made you want to be a wedding planner?”  I always wish I had some crazy awesome story, about knowing since toddlerhood that I was destined to arrange center pieces and fluff tulle and carry bouquets.  But that’s just not the case.  And I think I’m ok with that.  Even though that would be a very pretty story, it wouldn’t be real.  And I’m all about real life over here ya’ll.
So, what made me want to be a wedding planner?  Well, I guess I’ve always been interested in weddings.  That part is definitely true.  But what little girl hasn’t always been infatuated with the pretty dresses, gorgeous diamonds, and the happily-ever-afters?

As a kid, when I would be forced to accompany my mom to the grocery store, I would walk straight to the magazine rack and grab a wedding magazine.  I’d follow behind my mom, planning out my entire wedding.  Flowers, dresses, bowties, even the food.  I must have planned a hundred or so different weddings for myself.  That was about the only thing that made those trips tolerable.  And to this day, I still hate going to the grocery shopping….thanks mom.
Fast forward to my early twenties, and I found myself engaged and planning my own real wedding.  I remember talking to friends while I was planning and they were always telling me that I had a knack for creating a vision and pulling together all the elements to execute it.  While it was not the right relationship for me and I eventually ended the engagement, I really did enjoy planning out all the details and watching it start to come together.
I went on to help a few friends plan their weddings and also watched a few other friends plan their weddings without any help at all.  I hated the conversations following weddings where these new brides would say something along the lines of “I love being married.  But planning the wedding was a total nightmare.”  I would cringe and sort of tear up for each of them.  How sad to feel that way about a time in your life that should be filled with excitement and anticipation and all the happy feels!
I don’t remember who it was that I was talking to, but one day I just let it all out.  “I can’t stomach hearing another bride-to-be tell me how ready she is to just run off and elope because wedding planning is so unbearably hard.  I can’t keep listening to newlyweds say they wish they had skipped the whole wedding and just gone to City Hall.  It just breaks my heart.  I really think I can make a difference in that season of their lives.  I want to make them look back and smile over the memories of dress shopping, vendor meetings, and all the tastings.  I think I can do this.  I want to do this.”
And so the seed was planted.  When I get an idea that I’m really excited about, it tends to be all I think about.  Before I go to sleep, when I first wake up, and every minute in between, I’m formulating how I can make my idea a reality.  And this was no different.  I came up with a name, started a Facebook page and a blog, then I posted an ad on Craigslist.  I knew that, even though I had a little bit of experience planning friends’ weddings, I really needed to build a portfolio.  So I advertised that I would be coordinating 4 weddings free of charge {that in itself was a learning experience meant for another blog entirely}.
So, that’s it…my un-pretty, but super real story of how Just Dandy Events came to be.  It's sort of funny to think I just sort of took a chance over four years ago and now I can't imagine not planning weddings.  It's just become part of who I am and what makes me very happy.

Elizabeth Henson Photos

Personal: Vacation Recap

A few weeks ago, my little family took a much needed mini vacation.  The original plan was to head down to Buxton in the Outer Banks for a couple days.  Sadly, good old Mother Nature had other plans for us and threw a major storm in the mix that caused us to change our plans and head north instead.

We headed up to Pocahontas State Park outside of Richmond and rented the cutest little cabin that was absolutely perfect for the two of us and Wyatt.  We hiked a whole bunch, took Wyatt for some swims, and even took naps.  We enjoyed having no schedule whatsoever and just relaxed and enjoyed each others company.  It was glorious to have no distractions and to just feel unplugged for a few days.  We pretty much decided this trip will be a yearly thing.  A couple days away in the spring to recharge before the busy season for the both of us.

To anyone looking for a quick trip in Virginia, I would highly recommend Pocahontas State Park.  It's clean, beautiful, and just far enough away.

I'm so grateful we were able to take this trip and I think it's going to help this crazy summer be a little more bearable.  :)  Can't wait for next year!

Personal Update

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a personal post, so I figured why not??  Let’s see, what’s new?  I’ve run a couple different races in the past month.  The Shamrock 8k was a blast, as was the ODU Big Blue 5k.  I ran both of them last year and enjoyed them so much…. And they definitely didn’t disappoint this year.
Things at home have been super fantastic, especially since we brought Wyatt home!  This puppy is the coolest, most well-behaved and super adorable puppy I’ve ever met.  I might be biased, but others have confirmed!  We’ve been having so much fun introducing him to new people, places, and things.  We took him to the beach to run off some of his endless puppy energy a couple weekends ago.  At one point he dove headfirst into the water, and I swear he came out smiling.  Looks like we’ve got a water dog on our hands for sure!

We’ve tried every time we’ve taken him to the beach to get a decent picture of the 3 of us.  Finally, when the dog is 15 weeks old and 34 pounds {HARDLY even a puppy anymore!} we got one that wasn’t blurry and that no one looked ridiculous in.  I just love my little family so much!

 We had some friends in town this past weekend and we had the BEST time.  We’re so thankful we get to see them as often as we do, since they don’t live close by.  The weather cooperated while they were here and was absolutely beautiful.  So we played tourists all weekend.  We went to the Virginia Aquarium, which I haven't done in almost 10 years.  We finally checked out Back Bay Brewery.  I'm not a beer drinker at all, but I still had the best time, and everyone else LOVED the beers.  It was just the perfect weekend with friends.

Now I’m just gearing up for wedding season, including my little sister’s wedding next weekend!!!  Holy cow, how has that day gotten here already?!  Isn’t she still 3 years old?  So nuts.  I’m probably going to cry.  Fingers crossed it’s not an ugly cry.  She’d kill me if I ruined the pictures!  Lol
Other than that, I’m looking forward to a quick camping trip with Wes & Wyatt, some beautiful weddings {including one I’m going to be a GUEST at…WHAT?!?!}, some incredible styled shoots and special projects, a little bit of time in the garden, and hopefully some down time by the pool.  I’m just so happy spring is here!  Give me all the flowers & sunshine!

Personal: Meet Wyatt

So remember when I said Wes & I were getting a puppy??  Well, I'd like to introduce you all to Wyatt!

I won't bore you with all the details of how incredibly smart and well-behaved he is already.  Just take my word for it....he's perfect.  To say we're totally smitten is a huge understatement.  Wes & I look at each other and say "He's just so good" about twelve times a day.  Not even kidding.  We love him We love him We love him.

If you wanna keep up with Wyatt and watch him grow, feel free to follow #ourboywyatt on Instagram.  In the meantime, here are a few pictures for you to "awww" over. <3

Personal: DC Friendiversary

Happy February friends!!!  I can't believe we're already over a month into 2015.  CRAZINESS!  So far, this year is off to a great start.  Lots of fun, lots of planning for future projects.  I've got a couple styled shoots in the works, as well as some moves towards making JDE more than a part-time job.  Wes & I decided to get a puppy...he'll be here in less than two weeks!  {I apologize in advance for all the pictures I'll be posting}  And I got to go on a weekend getaway with my best friend just last weekend!

Ali & I met in the third grade and have been best friends ever since.  Some people would say we're complete opposites, and in most ways they'd be right.  But she's totally my person and I love that we've stayed so close since that first recess.  It had been a long time {about six years I think} since we had taken a trip just the two of us.  So we figured our "20th friendiversary" was a great excuse for a weekend in DC.  20 years....good lord, we're getting old.

We stayed in a hotel far too fancy for us, visited a few museums, ate way too much, had some cocktails, and took a lot of selfies.  To say the weekend was a success would be an understatement.  Here are a few pictures from our cell phones.  :)

We discovered Uber while we were in the city.  GREATEST THING EVER.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
On our way home.  We conquered the Metro!

Thanks for being such a wonderful friend Ali!  Love you to pieces and can't wait for our next trip together!

Giving Thanks: The People You Meet

I know Thanksgiving has come and gone.  But it's never too late to give a little thanks.  I'm so incredibly thankful for this little journey that I'm on.  I started coordinating weddings because I enjoyed it.  I loved the details and the planning and the end result of brides seeing what they'd dreamed of since they were little girls come to life.  It's fun and it's rewarding and I can't imagine not doing it.

But, what I've found I enjoy and value, even more than the details and planning and looks on brides' faces, is getting to meet so many incredible new people.  The brides & grooms I've been fortunate enough to meet and impact their big day.  The parents of the newlyweds that go on and on about how happy their "babies" are.  The vendors I've had the pleasure of working with and getting to know.  The clients and vendors that have turned into friends.

Going into this whole thing, I never fathomed I'd be making new friends.  I mean, I guess I knew that other wedding professionals had done it.  I've seen the Instagram posts showing parties with "friendors" and all that.  I just never thought I would be lucky enough to experience it.  To have people in my life that share the same outlook , that know what it's like not to have free Saturdays.  People that know what it's like to juggle your full-time job with your dream job, as well as trying to maintain a social life and not lose your mind.  People that understand the stress and fear that go hand-in-hand with starting your own business.  To be friends with people that just GET IT.

It's the craziest feeling and I'm so incredibly thankful that I'm actually experiencing this all first hand.  Even more so recently, in the past year.  2014 wasn't my busiest year so far.  I only had 3 weddings total.  But it definitely turned out to be my most impacting year to date.  I crossed a couple of things off my bucket list.  I networked quite a bit more than I have in the past {which has TOTALLY paid off}.  I had the privilege of working with a few high profile vendors that I totally admire.  I worked on a project that is now going to be published at the end of this month.  I met my vendor soul mate BFF goofy friend who has pushed me and motivated me in every way I needed.  I joined a network of small business girls that has supported me and provided so much knowledge and insight.  I had clients that I've kept in touch with, and even managed to involve them in other projects I coordinated just so we could hang out again.

Again, I'm just plain thankful.  Here's hoping this is just the beginning.  That things keep moving in this super exciting, quickly growing direction.  I can't wait to see what next year has in store for Just Dandy Events!

Personal: Vacation!!!!

You know how, when you're really hungry, food tastes 100 times better than it ever has before?  That's how good a vacation feels when you need it more than ever before.  My guy and I don't get to take frequent breaks together.  I've always got stuff going on.  He works....a lot.  The last time he was able to take time off during the summer months, he was a teenager.  So the fact that we were able to work out a few days away with his family in the middle of August...well it's a small miracle.  And I'm so grateful for it.

On our way to the mountains, we stopped at Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville.  It.Was.Beautiful!  We got there right after they opened and were the first visitors of the day.  We love their wines and may or may not have left with 8 bottles.  Oops!

Then it was onward to Luray!  We spent the next few days fishing, hiking, and playing in the river.  We ate too much, stayed up too late, and had the best time with family that we don't get to see nearly enough.

Here's hoping this little getaway will hold us off until we make the trip again for Thanksgiving!