Monday, May 29, 2017

It's the Final Countdown

Two weeks until you #MeettheJacksons

The last few months have kind of been a whirlwind. Between school (Im taking a PMU class that is INTENSE), changing jobs, and planning my wedding, I don't usually know whether I am coming or going!

I made a LOT of stuff for the wedding, including table decor, (sans flower arrangements. I WAS going to make my own, but my florist uncle insisted he make the bigger arrangements and bouts) favors and altar backdrop.  I even painted my wedding shoes and bedazzled them. I originally bought some Giussepi Zanotti shoes, but they KILLED my feet. There was no way I would make it through the day with those torture devices strapped to my feet. SO I took some comfortable shoes I already owned and painted them to match my wedding clothes!

I never thought I was a good visual artist, but this wedding has brought out some latent genetic talent. LOL My family is very talented with their hands, but I never displayed any signs that it was part of me growing up. I guess sometimes necessity brings out the skills. The thing is, I wanted everything to be nice and personalized, and since we couldn't afford to pay other people to do it for us, I did it.

James couldn't really be bothered with details such as esthetics, so I took the reigns and RAN. It was fun. Time consuming, but fun. I even made the wedding program on a mirror. I wrote it myself, and it came out really nice. We love it.

I did garner a little help from my stepdaughter, London. She assisted with the paper flowers and photo props. (Yes, we are doing the cheesy photo props.) We had a good time.

We were a little backward with the engagement photos, so I will post them here for you to see. I used some on the wedding website, but I posted them AFTER most of the RSVPs so not many of my guests saw them LOL

We decided to be unconventional with much of the ceremony and reception, so that too is different... Im very nervous. I have never put an event together before alone, so I feel like its all a reflection of me. And I do NOT want to look bad.

James is very laid back. That was challenging for me in the beginning. But he really is all on board. He's taken the boys suit shopping, started working out, and always asks if I need help. (I usually say no.) He and my dad will deep clean the house to accommodate all our guests. That is the one thing I did request of James. I keep a decent house, but when it comes to guests, I want spring cleaning type of clean. I was going to hire a cleaning service, but James is not having that. He said he would take care of it. And he promised I will be satisfied, so I'm going to let him take the lead on that. Besides, my dad is so OCD, Im sure the house will sparkle when they are through.

I guess I've done enough talking. Time for pics. Enjoy! If you follow my IG, you'll see other pics. This isn't the conclusive list.

**Photo Credit goes to Allen Matthew Stephenson, of Stephenson Art in Hampton Va. Photos belong to me. Please do not repost without my permission.**

#blacklove, #wedding, #diywedding, #love #marriage

Monday, June 27, 2016

You Will NOT Believe How Much My Invitations Cost

I am THRILLED to write this post tonight. I just finished creating my wedding invitations from scratch. We are getting 100 4x6 glossy, color, (printed front and back), with graphics AND matching envelopes for a STEAL. (IMO) I will let you all know the name of the company once I receive the invitations. I don't want to recommend them just yet. I will admit that I have used this company in the past for marketing material and was very pleased. Glad they sent me a promo email earlier in the week. Otherwise I had forgotten all about them. I haven't gotten email from them all year. I guess this was simply serendipity!                               
it's getting real!

I really want to show the invites to you, but I have to wait until I mail them out. I worked on them all day. Thankfully, James liked them too. He's hated all the other invitations I made up. For now,  Im just waiting for the proof to arrive in my inbox before I give the printing company the green light. They should be here by June 30 which will be perfect because then I can hand some out at James' parents' July 4th BBQ. (Heheeee saving on postage like a BOSS)

BTW I am just itching to tell you how much my invitations cost! Okay... Are you sitting down?


That's it. That INCLUDES SHIPPING of $13. (Insert happy dance)

This lady is sticking to the $10K and below budget that we set.

Stick with me til the end, and I will give you a breakdown of all the expenses! I just might be able to help other couples have an elegant, yet inexpensive wedding. Maybe I will put all the data together to make a little webpage or something for other DIY couples on a budget.

So far, we have cut down costs by having a shorter reception, and although I will be sending out hard-copy invitations, we are getting all RSVPs online. This solves the problem of how we were going to get the word out in the first place.

I'm so excited about the progress we are making here. I know it's crunch time.

Now, if only a beautiful eggplant or plum colored suit for James would fall into my lap... That is the next hurdle we need to cross.

PS> It looks as though our color palette is shrinking to just two colors -- Baby Blue and Plum. Its been tough for me to work the sage in. I guess the flowers will have to reflect that. They dont allow a whole lot of decorating at the Museum, so minus the flowers, and tablecloths, there's no place to display the "color palette." Im fine with that.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Update Post: Workout, Bride Box Subscription, Staying on Budget, SHOES

Yeah, things haven't been too exciting on the wedding planning front, so I have been quiet as far as posting. Right now, we are just making plans for everything and paying installment payments on everything....

I bought my wedding shoes. They're a beautiful pair of vintage Giuseppe Zanotti sandals. The heels are over four inches. I bought these special inserts that are supposed to shift the pressure off the balls of my feet to my heels. I hope they work! I also got some metatarsal gel pads that stick to your feet instead of your shoe. That way, when the photographer takes the "shoe pic" it won't have ugly shoe inserts showing. LOL

I got the shoes from eBay for $75. (Yes we are still on course to spend less that $10,000 on this wedding)

One exciting part of the preparation is the big party we are having the night before the wedding.

The invites have gone out and I believe it will be a great event. It's a costumed party to the theme of the Martin show. James and I will surprise everyone with our costumes.

Another exciting thing that happened is I received my bridal gift box. Last month I signed up to receive a Natural Hair Bride box. It's not an expensive subscription (especially for all you get inside) and I like the idea of getting gifts each month leading up to the wedding. Big stress reliever.  I was thinking I could definitely use the boxes later AND probably use some of the items to gift my besties for all their help.

Below is the video that shows all that came inside the inaugural box.

If you want a box, go to


--We are a little over three months out and we still need to finalize invites. I do have the website up and running. Just need a formal invite to get people to the site, and I still need all of James' contacts. I sent out invitations to closest friends and family just to get a preliminary headcount. I think we may need to order more food  (-_-)

-- The suit place I wanted to go to doesn't have the color suit I want for James. We may still use them though. May need to choose an alternate color.

-- Spoke with my floral coordinator (my uncle) and he's gonna donate two 4-ft columns and an archway :) We love free stuff

-- I've begun my bridal bootcamp workout and I LOVE it. I am toning up and James is taking notice. It's been a full two weeks and I see results, so definitely not giving up.

Here are the videos I've been using in case you want to get in shape with me

**Bridal Bootcamp that I do every day  

**Butt Blast so my legs and butt look good in my silhouette  (I do this 2-3 times a week)

 **Inner Thigh workout blast (I only do once a week)

** MY FAVE Booty Burn (I do 2-3x a week to switch it up a tad)

-- We still have yet to do a cake tasting or formally hire a cake vendor, although I think I have one. Problem is I may have to sacrifice my dream of cake pops and cupcakes... :(

Love you guys. Will keep you posted!

PS. If you would like to check out our registry, and leave us a message you can do so HERE


Monday, June 6, 2016

The Deposit Has Been Paid, We Are Getting Married at a Museum

Marine Corps Museum Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel

 Last month James and I did a walkthrough at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. It wasn't really planned, but I am so glad it happened! Remember how upset I was that we lost Glen Garden? Well, this is a better venue and CHEAPER! (ayyyeeeee)

You know we had some drama in April concerning the venue, but we got it all straight and decided to renew our commitment to each other.  We kind of let other people's expectations of our wedding event got the best of us. I tell you, wedding planning is a CHALLENGE!

James and I promised to focus on building our new life with each other, and not let anything or anyone come between us. We realized that we lost sight of what was most important -- us. And believe it or not, we hadn't been communicating properly which took a heavy toll!

One thing we have always been good at is being open with each other, and we learned that if we are not open, then we begin to build animosity. We literally almost broke up!

The drama is over now. We really like the museum and the museum chapel. We decided to rent the Overlook in Leatherneck Gallery and Tun Tavern. I love that we have a ready made theme. And people will be entertained just by the venue alone! We are holding the wedding right before the museum closes, so our guests can walk around and see the exhibits while James and I take photos. Nobody will be bored!

The museum is perfect. It has everything that we both want:

-- Accommodates up to 200 people (now James can invite all his peeps)
-- Sleek modern design with a garden feel (the chapel is in the woods and the whole thing is made up of wood and big old windows so the view is amazing, which satisfies my desire for a garden wedding)
-- Price point is right (and tax deductible) We wanted to spend less than $10,000 total, and we WILL.
--  Unique venue that makes for great memories and pics (I love to leave a lasting impression)
-- Easy to locate and close to my home (Don't want all the out-of-towners getting lost) You can see the museum from I95.

View from the altar area looking back toward the entrance.The benches now have cushions
View from the back of the chapel near entrance
During our walkthrough, we also settled on the catering. We opted for a two-hour standing reception with cash bar. We will have heavy hors d'oeuvres served and a self-serve gourmet cheese fruit and nut platter with assorted gourmet crackers.  We chose an array of appetizers from vegetarian to seafood. Everyone is covered! James was adamant about choosing special table linens for some reason. The catering manager said she's never had a groom so involved. I told her it's not as great as it seems because he keeps getting in my way. She just laughed and James grinned.

We concluded our meeting and put down the deposit. We are officially on to the next phase of wedding planning. I'm not exactly sure what that is, but I've created our wedding website and sent out invitations to our closest family and friends in order to get a preliminary headcount.

Here is my list of things to do/things that are done:

We still need to secure a pastry chef to make our cupcakes and cakepops.

Flowers are taken care of! My uncle will make my bouquet. I am so honored as he is a world class floral designer. Very well known in that business.  One of my best friends volunteered to handle the table decorations and James' sister will decorate the chapel.

I know which favors I will order, so I guess that's out the way too.

I would love to take dancing lessons with James for our first dance. (Not sure that will happen)

I am meeting with a makeup artist this weekend, so hopefully that box will be checked.

I have to come up with a program for the wedding day. That shouldn't be difficult.

We already have our bachelor/bachelorette party invites and FB event set up. That party will be amazing! It's a costume party set to the MARTIN show. James and I have our costume ideas already and they're top secret but guaranteed funny.

I guess my next move is formal invitations. We have decided to go with the electronic invitations in order to save money, and to keep things simple. It's so much easier to track RSVPs with the evites.

Next week James and I are heading to the tailor to look for him a suit.

I got measured for my sample gown. The seamstress is officially underway!  We are looking for the perfect shoes too. That is proving to be more difficult than I had imagined it would be.

I think that's it. Im sure Im missing something, but these are on my immediate radar at the moment.

Curious about the wedding website? Well feel free to check out our wedding website HERE (don't mind the pics. We had to postpone our professional shoot due to rain)

We will be on the second deck, so here is the view from the Overlook
Tun Tavern (the tables will have table cloths and stuff)

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Honeyfund Experiment
This is our Honeyfund Webpage

What James and I really want is a luxurious honeymoon complete with adventurous excursions, spa days and secluded beaches. We want a whole two weeks to enjoy Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. We want to do things that neither of us will ever forget. Have a vacation like the rich and famous! LOL Start our life together with a trip for the storybooks!! James and I know how to make the most of what we have, but it would be so amazing if we could go on vacation without a care in the world other than having fun, relaxing and loving each other. That is where the Honeyfund website comes in.

If you have been following our relationship, you'd know that both James and I have our own independent households. We will be combining them and James will move in with me until we save enough to buy a bigger, more suitable home for six.

With that being said, a traditional wedding registry is simply unnecessary. We have been blessed to have everything we need to embark on a life together, barring some home improvement projects that are relatively inexpensive. I found this wedding registry website called Honeyfund, where you list your registries including your honeymoon wishes. Yes! Your loved ones, family, and friends can contribute to your honeymoon, instead of getting you gifts or cards filled with cash.

As this is the second wedding for us both, we are paying for everything ourselves. Suffice it to say the ideal gift for our circumstances and position in life IS money or gift cards. Various home goods would be nice, but even then, we wouldn't be getting anything that we do not already own. We would just be getting newer versions. At this time, what we currently own is just fine. We don't need new stuff!  I'm talking about small appliances, bedding, etc... You get the drift. So I think it's smart to steer people toward the honeymoon registry since that is what the both of us truly want.

We have opted to do a minimoon for two days immediately following our wedding. We will have our true honeymoon vacation around New Year's. It gives us time to save and plan the exact honeymoon we want.

James is not totally onboard with the idea of Honeyfund. He feels like it's begging for money and comes across as tacky. I told him that times are changing. Most of our gifts will be cash anyway! People aren't offended by us being honest! And besides, what is even more tacky would be returning gifts we do not need! Why not give people the link to our honeymoon registry when they ask us where we are registered? This way people can choose what they contribute to specifically. They can choose from helping pay for airfare, to hotel stays and excursions.

I am not saying we should put the link in the invitation, but when people ask, we share. I think it's a great alternative to the traditional registry, and I truly believe people will want to see us go on this epic honeymoon. We have let them into our lives, so why wouldn't they appreciate an avenue to share in our joy?

What do you think? Check out the page I made for us. We even got our own hashtag. So people can keep up with our wedding posts and updates.

If you have been following me since 2012, you know the WHOLE story. Thank you for all the love and well wishes. If you would like to contribute, click here --->> James and Shaahn Honeymoon in Tahiti

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Our Fall Wedding Color Palette Revealed PLUS Save the Date Contest Deets Inside

Plum, Seafoam, Dusty Rose, Beige, and Blush are Perfect Colors for Our Fall Wedding
Our wedding color palette from which we draw our inspiration for decor... Initially, I chose cranberry but I am going with plum because I love the deep tone. If we want, we can still use some cranberry accents as well, since they are in the same color family. In fact, we can use any color that compliments my chosen color palette, so we have lots of room to play. (Most likely won't use cranberry though!)

Im trying to convince James to wear a plum or Marsala-colored blazer because that will set off our colors very well. I can easily imagine his deep, rich pigment against my soft pale hue. There's also a beige blazer that would match up well, but it isn't as contrasting and it's simply too safe for my liking. Even a gray-ish blue blazer would work well. What do you think?  James is not a risk-taker. He needs to feel comfortable too, so I will take him to some boutique suit shops so he can see the color against his skin.

Don't you think the plum is better against the other colors? I love all these colored blazers!

James is not as fashion-forward as I am, although he likes to think he is ever since he got named best dressed in high school (insert snicker and eye roll here). At first he told me a flat out, "No," but last night he said he just needed to see it on his body before committing. I can work with that.

The Seamstress, Lisa Walton, traveled to New York to find the perfect color of silk faille. She is sending me swatches as I type this entry. I am so excited. Things feel as though they are coming together. Still have to get flowers, food, and James' ring. And James needs to measure me so I can send the measurements to Lisa.


Calendar Style
Knot Style
James and I have a photo shoot scheduled for May 21. We will be shooting our engagement pics in Philly (my hometown).

I will use a photo from that session to use with the Save the Dates.

Here are our choices.

Which do you like best?

Calendar or Knot?
I may do a combo of them both... Decisions, decisions  (^_^)

Voice your opinion in the comments section below. Whichever gets the most votes, wins! We will use them to send out to guests.

Thank you for helping!

Keep reading as our wedding story unfolds.
Next post will be about



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Moving Forward

we are now on the same page and of one mind
Yesterday James and I talked for about four hours. We clarified our thoughts about the wedding and what actually happened the weekend James spoke with his parents about inviting more of his family.
He told me that he loved Glen Garden and that when he agreed to it, he wasn't feeling pressured from me. He genuinely liked the place. With that said, he still felt torn about not being about to invite everyone but decided to proceed anyway. He said he wrote the check and would sort the guest list later.

When his parents spoke to him about "contributing," he felt compelled to at least consider it because it would allow him to invite all his family, which he is close with. James is from a big family who is very tightknit. He never wanted to invite some without inviting others. If anything, he would elope before picking and choosing between those he cares for. His compassion for his family clouded his vision and so he promised his parents that he would speak with me about the situation. When he brought it up to me, I felt as though he undermined our relationship and the decision WE made to book the venue. I guess it was because he wasn't expressive of his thoughts. He blindsided me with his inaction. (Especially not mailing the contract)

I think he should have stood up to his parents. I did not understand how he truly felt about inviting his family because he agreed to Glen Garden. He really did like the place and made sure to drive that point home to me. Personally, I view the wedding as something that is between me and James, and not anyone else. To me, the rest of the world is secondary. James expressed to me that he does not feel that way. For him, a wedding is a family affair. He feels torn having to exclude people. I suggested that we throw a party so everyone can be a part of our celebration, but to him, that isn't the solution because he wants his family to witness our actual vow exchange. If anything, a reception is unnecessary in his eyes. He said the vows are what he feels are the most important part of the process.

I guess we will never see eye to eye on that, and we may end up postponing the wedding, or simply eloping. But we both would rather be able to share our special day with those we love. EVERYONE.

James said he would take a bigger part in the planning and that he already made some phone calls to a venue he has in mind. He apologized for not being more outspoken but he will work on that. We spoke about communicating better and he promised me he would not leave me out of his thought process again. I told him his behavior was relationship threatening.  He agreed and said that he will be more mindful and start treating me as he would he wife.

I told him that I never took him for a people pleaser and he assured me that he wasn't. It wasn't his parents' feelings that had him stalling about Glen Garden. It was him! So We agreed to keep things 100 between each other as we have always done. I told him that his keeping that information was so contrary to how we usually roll! We ALWAYS talk about any issues. That's our THING!

Yall know we just had an interview last month and talked about how we always keep things real with each other. James said he didn't want to disappoint me, so  he procrastinated talking to me about the wedding and how he felt about things.

I told James that I wanted to know how he truly felt about everything. He told me he wanted a list from me detailing how I felt. I said I thought it would be best to just talk in person. He was good with that. I liked his list. I told him I would comply. And he said he would comply with mine.

I was afraid that maybe I was making a mistake, but I blew things out of proportion due to James' silence (Well, in addition to that, the last thing he mentioned was pushing the wedding back and his parents wanting more people there... blah blah blah, so of course I was upset!). Now that we worked it out, I am confident we will be fine.

I can't see myself without this man. I am not throwing in the towel, and I am proceeding with the wedding plans for October. I told James I was handing everything over to him, but I was lying. Im still gonna search too! Hahahahha

Oh, get this: James has a hookup where he can get free tables and chairs. I was like, WHAT? Why aint you tell me that in the beginning? That changes a lot. Ughhhh men! Gotta love 'em.

Before I end this post, I want to thank everyone for their advice and comments. I appreciate it and it helped guide my conversation with James.

Stay tuned as our story unfolds. #J_Shaahn2016 in full effect. (^_^)