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“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late” – Shakespeare

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En route to Colorado
May 2014

We wanted to leave earlier for Buffalo to get to the airport hotel, but I ended up getting stuck trying to finish some items up for work. We didn’t get to leave until around 8pm…We thought about cancelling our hotel room and just leaving at 12am or 1am to head down to the airport…..in hindsight, we should have!!!! At least we now have a laughable story to share.

We arrived at the Marriott hotel late at night.  We ended up keeping our hotel reservation because we wanted a place to park our car while we were away.  The website indicated that parking would be complimentary.  However, upon arrival we were informed that although the wording can be confusing, the parking is only for the duration of the hotel stay unless an additional fee is paid.  This was a frustrating start to the trip, but nothing was going to hold us back from enjoying our time in Colorado.

Our room was nice enough for an airport hotel and the bed was comfortable…obviously a little too comfortable as we missed our flight!  Lesson – when setting a cellphone alarm, make sure the volume is on.  Or, an even better take away, use the hotel’s wake up service.

We woke up just as our morning flight was rolling out on the tarmac.  I called JetBlue in a panic and they were absolutely wonderful!  They got us on another flight leaving later that day.  We had to pay a small fee, but it was worth it.  After grabbing a few more hours of much needed sleep, we headed off to the airport to catch our rescheduled flight.

I love traveling through the Buffalo International airport.  It is always a quick and enjoyable experience.

Finally, a few hours later, we arrived in beautiful Colorado!

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The car rental company had rented out most of their “small” cars since we had missed our initial pick up time…however, we travel very light so we didn’t need a large car.  We searched around the lot frantically until we found one final vehicle remaining. A cobalt blue Fiat.

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I was obsessed.  I’ve always wanted to tour around in a Fiat and let me tell you, this car was a lot of fun.  Parking was a breeze and gas was cheap, we couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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Our first night we stayed in Denver.  We stopped at the first hotel we came across and it ended up being beautiful.  The room was huge and spacious (it even had an extra living room, huge walk in closet and two bathrooms).  The price was very reasonable and it came with a stunning roof top pool.

The next day we toured around the city and then drove over to check out Red Rocks.  The amphitheatre clearly gets a lot of use.  People were doing yoga and cardio while others just sat and observed the beauty of the scenery.

We had breakfast in Morrison, CO (I don’t think it’s possible for this little city to get any cuter…).  While we enjoyed breakfast we waited for some tumbleweed to roll by.  We felt like we were in a Western movie.

 

Colorado is absolutely breathtaking.  The rolling hills and mountains accompanied by the lush greenery made it a place we will never forget.

Our next stop, Colorado Springs.  Another amazing city.  It was absolutely picturesque and my camera could not keep up with all of the photos!

We drove around to check out the area and the Garden of the Gods and then decided to grab a hotel room, somewhere close by.  We never wanted to leave this city.

We stayed at the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.  Not only was it very reasonable it was also relatively close to Red Rocks and it had the most amazing views I’ve ever seen.  Our room was huge and had a gorgeous balcony with these views…

This place is truly paradise.  It took us about 1.5 hours to get back to Red Rocks for our concert (it was rush hour traffic and a crazy rain storm).  The Fiat got us there safely!   Red Rocks is organized so efficiently.  The amphitheatre staff were awesome.  We quickly found a parking spot and then made our climb up to our seats.  We were about 15 rows back.  Hands down, this was the best concert we have ever been to.  We saw One Republic play and they definitely knew how to get the crowd pumped up.

A few days later we decided to take the Fiat up Pikes Peak.  This was well worth it.  I think it was about $10.00 to enter (very reasonable)…and yes, we did make it to the top in the Fiat!

We went through crazy weather changes and at times we could hardly see the road.  Next time, I would wear better shoes (and not my flip flops)…

We cannot wait to get back to Colorado.  There’s still so much more to see!

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California Dreaming

San Francisco

San Francisco had a little something for everyone.  Whether it was riding bikes around the city, wandering the Pier, visiting Alcatraz or heading over to Muir Woods, the city did not disappoint.

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We decided to boycott Christmas in 2013 and travel to San Fran/ LA and Vegas instead.  Hands down, this was one of our most memorable trips to date.  Our first night we checked out the local nightlife and celebrated at a few Karaoke bars.  We felt right at home, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.  The one bar even let us bring in our own pizza since we all had missed dinner earlier in the evening.

Pier 39 is a non stop action packed place that anyone of any age can enjoy.  It looked especially beautiful during the holiday season as it had gorgeous Christmas decorations.  Despite the vast crowds, it was still easy to navigate the Pier without feeling overwhelmed.

The perfect weather definitely helped keep our energy going.  We wandered the Pier for the entire day, taking in the breathtaking views and shops along the way.  We were very eager to visit Alcatraz however, we didn’t purchase our tickets ahead of time.  My advice to anyone travelling to San Fran would be to purchase your tickets for Alcatraz well in advance.  It would be such a shame to miss out on seeing it.

Luckily, we decided we wanted to be true tourists and take a bus tour around the city.  Since we had limited time in the city we wanted to be sure we were maximizing our time to check everything out.  This tour did not disappoint.  We purchased our pass for the City Sightseeing Hop on Hop Off tour with the Alcatraz pass.

Our pass allowed us to visit Alcatraz during one of the morning tours.  We got to the Pier well in advance and took turns wandering around the Pier while waiting in the line.  We got to Alcatraz around 10:30am.  The sun was shining, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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We also decided to take part in the audio tour while on the island.  This was certainly worth it.  We wandered the island for about 2.5-3 hours.  We were all ready to head back to land by then.

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We got on the Hop on Hop Off bus and took it for a cruise around the city.  We sat at the top of the bus which was all open.  It ended up getting a little bit chilly along the drive but the sights were too great to pass up.

Riding over the Golden Gate bridge was so much fun.  The length of the bridge is incredible and the views from up top where amazing.

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After going over the bridge we ventured over to Haight Street.  This was a lot of fun.  It looked like there were nice boutiques along this road as well.

 

We went back to the Pier and stumbled across a vintage arcade called Playland.  We spent a few hours in here taking pictures of the old games and testing a few out.  For the price of the games, this was well worth the stop!

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We crammed a lot in during our short stay in San Francisco, we picked up our rental car and started our road trip to LA.  Before leaving SF, we took a quick tour past AT & T stadium and then took an impromptu trip back over the bridge to Sausalito.  After touring around we decided to go check out the Muir Woods.  The winding roads left me feeling a little bit car sick (which is very unlikely for me), but the journey was well worth it.  The woods were spectacular!

 

After this pit stop, we headed back on the road to begin our trek to LA.  We were all very excited to drive Highway 1, but we should have done a bit more research and figured out our timelines a little bit better.  Since we left later than expected we ended up driving Highway 1 in the pitch black.  This was terrifying!

We’re all able to look back and laugh on the drive now, but at the time it felt painful.  We couldn’t find a hotel if our lives depended on it…or if we were able to track down a motel they were all full.

Despite that glitch, we made it to LA safe and sound.  With only about 24 hours to spend in the city, we decided to quickly check into our hotel then wander the town.  We went to Universal Studios but were all pretty unimpressed by the park.  The line ups were outrageous, the park was way too overcrowded and the rides were few and far between.  I definitely wouldn’t return to this park again.  We stayed at the Roosevelt hotel.  The lobby was gorgeous but our room was horrible.  We opened the blinds to discover we had literally no view from our window.  We did get to see some piping outdoors though.  We requested to be switched from this room and they were unwilling to accommodate our request.  We wouldn’t return to this hotel again.

We were all excited to get on the road to Vegas after our disappointing stop in LA.

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We had a blast finishing off the road trip and Vegas was amazing as always.  The city was full of energy and everyone was looking forward to having a good time.  We wandered the strip, played a view slots and enjoyed yard stick drinks at the one bar.

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On New Years Eve, we went to Tao where they had snacks being passed around and free drinks until just before midnight.  We also got to enjoy a concert by Miguel at 12:00AM.

Vegas was a wonderful place to ring in the New Year!

Another successful trip for the books! Vegas NYE 13

 

 

 

 

First Comes Love…

Our wedding day was one of the most amazing days of my life.  Don’t get me wrong, we had some bumps along the way, but for the most part it was smooth sailing.

I attribute all of our wedding success to being extremely laid back throughout the months leading up to it.  I understand the importance of being very organized and prepared for the big day, however, maintaining a carefree attitude will ensure your day goes off without a hitch!  (Even if it doesn’t – you’ll find ways to laugh along the way).

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It’s safe to say that something will go wrong at one point or another on your wedding day.  Maybe it’s not the weather you were hoping for or the decorator miscounted and didn’t provide enough decorations/table settings/ chairs and so on.  All in all, all of the above are so inconsequential, they shouldn’t even fluster you for a second!

When you look back on your day, all of those minor things will NOT be important and they will remain as the stories you tell for years to come after your wedding.  So, remember… take a step back and try to laugh or shrug it off.

Here are some tips to help you avoid unnecessary stress and worry before your big day!

Dress shopping

Go with a small group of people so you’re not bombarded with many different opinions.  Bring the people you can trust to give you honest advice but also those who will be happy with whatever you choose.  After all, it is your day!

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Selecting your Venue

Pick a venue that suits your needs, your guests’ needs and really highlights you as a couple.  We selected a venue that was at a public park we use to visit growing up.  It was close for all of our guests, reasonably priced and would hold the amount of guests we were inviting.

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Selecting your Guest List

Be very selective about who you are inviting to your special day.  Don’t invite someone just because you think “you have to”.  Same goes for friends of your parents.  When it comes down to the big day, you want the group to be your core friends and family.  It becomes especially awkward when your parents are introducing you to their friends on your wedding day.  Make sure you are selective about the guest list.  Try and picture these people and see if you can envision them in your life a few years from now.  If you don’t think they will be, exclude them from your list.

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Hair & Makeup

Go in with a vision but remain open minded.  I wanted something that would be off of my face (in case it was windy out during photos).  I knew I wanted some type of low bun, but I wasn’t concerned with anything beyond that.  I’m not a professional hair stylist and I won’t pretend to be one…so I was happy to allow the professional to do what she does best! Same went for makeup.  I typically don’t wear a lot of makeup beyond some mascara every now and again, so I wanted to stay true to that on our wedding day.

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Photographer

This is a great place to spend the extra money.  An awesome photographer will ensure you get the best pictures and will capture all of the fabulous memories.  These are memories you will want to cherish and look back on for many years to come.  It’s also a lot of fun to get creative with your photos.  Our wedding happened to coincide with Kitchener’s Oktoberfest so we wandered down after our makeup was done to capture a few shots of the group before finishing getting ready.  This type of spontaneity makes for some great shots!

 

Formal vs Informal

My husband and I were very excited about having an informal relaxed wedding.  We found a fabulous officiant and served our food at different stations throughout our venue.  We wanted something a little bit different.  Sometimes a seated meal can feel long, awkward and tiring.  Instead, we mixed it up by serving a pasta bar, slider bar and spring rolls throughout the hall.  This kept people up and mingling and enjoying the atmosphere instead of being forced into awkward table conversations.

 

These are a few things that worked really well for us.  I’ve seen weddings where the bride was a complete micromanager and couldn’t sit back to enjoy the day because she was so stressed about everything going perfectly.  Sometimes the imperfect parts are the best memories.

All in all, have fun and cherish every second!