Beauty Is… Being Grounded | Ellie Hahn

April 28, 2016


Photos C/O Kat Harris

We had a 6:30a.m. call time in downtown Los Angeles, and a full morning of shooting.  The sun was just making its way over the buildings as our model drove up.  Ellie hopped out of the car with a smile that made me believe this was the most exciting thing in her day.  Then she tackled me with a hug as though we were long lost friends.  The chatter between us started and didn’t stop until we said goodbye hours later.

Ellie carries herself with ease and has a groundedness that surpasses her age.  She has a freedom that catches like wildfire until everyone joins her in a silly Justin Bieber dance.  In an industry that says you matter because of what you look like, she walks on set with a positive attitude and a smile that tears down walls.

Ellie, I’m so proud of who you are, and I am so honored to have you on The Refined Woman.  You inspire me.




I never thought I would be a model. I was the kid who sang Andrea Bocelli for the neighbors while wearing my Elmo pajamas and using a comb as a microphone. I always wanted to sing and act, it was naturally a part of who I was, and who I am to this day.

But when I got the opportunity to model I was astonished at how much I loved it. My first shoot was with a family friend who is a successful fashion photographer. He is very artistic, and for the shoot we went for a New York studio vibe. The entire process inspired me — from arriving on set and meeting the crew, to seeing the final pictures a week later.

I have heard many horror stories about the modeling industry — from creepy guys to drugs to girls ending up sketchy situations. But I have been extremely lucky. I met my lovely agent through a mutual friend and have worked with some incredible people.
People make me light up, and that is one of the reasons I love what I get to do. I get so encouraged and inspired by talking to people from all different walks of life, and listening to their adventures. I also love the creative side of modeling. It’s fascinating to see the vision of the shoot come to life through the work of so many different types of artists.

Modeling also has its challenges. It’s easy to get caught up in yourself, and get lost in the followers and the likes and all the attention you get from having the title, “model,” slapped onto your name.

It’s also easy to assume that because someone is beautiful or successful, everything in their life must be going well, when in reality they may be suffering. It makes me want to try to have a heart for others… regardless of how things might appear on the outside. I try to see the good in people, and the good that God has for them or is doing in their lives.

Another challenge is that I feel compelled to live up to a standard of beauty, and maintain a certain body size. There is a lot of competition, so it’s easy to get discouraged. I sometimes compare myself with other models, and think, “if only I had her legs” or “I wish I had her bone structure.” It can become a very lonely game of competition and vanity!

But the thing that consistently relieves me of my insecurities is my faith. I love to sing and act, and I love my family, but most importantly: I love Jesus. And I get to share the love God has put in my own heart with others.

Spring Whites

April 26, 2016

I’ll be honest: white jeans are not the most practical thing to wear in New York City.  It’s a dirty place, and when you wear white it gets dingy.   But wearing white, especially in this city even when it’s dreary, makes me happy.  So I do it.  I just set my expectation that I will most likely have to bleach it after the first wear.  I go through a lot of bleach.

Now that I’m in the second season of my Capsule experiment I’ve noticed that the pieces in my wardrobe are more transferable between the seasons.  Nothing is new in this outfit.  The shoes are at least 6 years old.  The white jeans are hand-me-downs from Em, and my silk blouse has carried me through a few seasons.
But this is why I’m doing the Capsule.  Maybe I have less pieces, but I have more things I really love, that look good on me, and I know I feel good in.  So now it’s more of a mix-n-match game for me.  And I must say; it’s been pretty fun.

Plus who doesn’t love a yummy warm sweater on a chilly spring day?  When I’m all bundled up in it I just want to snuggle up and watch movies and drink hot chocolate!



Boss Ladies: Courtney Poole

April 21, 2016


Photos c/o Hazel and Pine

We’re both Texas girls, but our paths crossed years ago when we worked for the same non-profit organization in Southern California.  Courtney is a go-getter, and she has the best style — in her wardrobe and her home.  She’s a class act.  A few years ago she started Rose & Fitzgerald, where you can purchase artisan home decor made by Ugandan artists.  The pieces are hand crafted and gorgeous.  It’s a beautiful combination of Courtney’s passion for social justice and her love of style and decor.  The company quickly took off, and now you can find Rose + Fitzgerald in stores all over the US.  I seriously want one of everything.

Courtney:  you are killing it #bossladies.




Growing up I really wanted to be
An actress. Turns out, I can’t cry on command… but a girl can still dream

My most-used emojiis are
Heart eyes, winks and handclaps

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
An almond milk latte

I don’t know how I ever lived without

One thing people don’t know about me is
I’m an adrenaline junkie. I’ve jumped out of a plane, bungee-jumped above the Nile, trekked for mountain gorillas and hiked an active volcano (and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do).

My real life hero is
My friend Jean Labuschagne, a conservationist in Uganda. She’s in her 20s and has been living in a tent and working for a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a couple of years. She uses her talents to protect the park animals from poachers and ensure that the park rangers are safe. It’s a selfless career few young women would take on, in a difficult and dangerous environment.

What I love about my work is
The complete and constant challenge. It requires all of my creativity, problem solving skills, patience and passion. It takes a lot out of me, but the overall joy far outweighs any challenge.

The hardest thing about my work is
Being so far from the artisans who create our handmade goods. When I lived in Africa I had the luxury of working with them every day.  Being in different time zones makes communicating difficult.

How I got started with my current career
A mixture of chance and hard work. My husband and I moved to Uganda in 2012 for his career with a humanitarian foundation. Moving across the world was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  I quickly realized I needed to make this foreign place truly feel like home. I took that task seriously: setting out each day to furnish our old, colonial-style house in a city that had very few options. Through my visits to local craft markets and small carpentry businesses, I met talented individuals who custom-made all kinds of goods for me: décor items, kitchen, barware, and even jewelry. Designing those items opened up a passion I didn’t know I had, and working with the artisans was really satisfying. I wanted to share these rare creations with the Western market and continue to employ these incredible individuals—and so, Rose & Fitzgerald was born.

RoseFitzgerald.CourtneyPoole.3 The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Underestimate how difficult it is to start a business in a foreign country. I was naïve, and didn’t realize how long a process it would be to legally set up a business in Uganda. I’m somewhat grateful for my ignorance, because had I known how hard it would be, I may never have taken it on!

My typical day looks like
I begin by reading my to-do list and prioritizing what needs to be accomplished.  I spend a couple of hours responding to emails, processing orders and dealing with invoicing and accounting. After lunch, I typically tackle a creative task:  working on new designs, copywriting, photo editing, planning a photo shoot, or blogging.

I used to think success meant
Moving up the corporate ladder, achieving the next pay raise and getting a new title.

My current definition of success is
Living your life with purpose and doing something you wouldn’t trade for anything else.

An example of when I pushed through my fear
When I decided to start Rose & Fitzgerald, people told me that producing high-quality goods in Uganda would be impossible, and that finding sales channels would be a huge struggle. Fortunately, I ignored all voices but my own, which was told me I had to try this.


I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When I wake up dreading the tasks ahead of me. The best cure is to take some time off.  It can be as simple as going to the beach for a few hours, taking my dog for a walk, or running errands. My time away from work keeps me motivated and excited to return to it.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Be true to yourself, chase those crazy dreams, and don’t be intimidated when you don’t fit in. You’re going to experience amazing places, make really good friends and find someone who loves you a lot. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you fail. Life really does work out the way it’s supposed to.

The legacy I hope to leave is
I hope my kids (and grandkids), remember me as an adventurer who laughed a lot, took chances, and lived with passion. I hope they remember me as someone who made a positive impact on the world, however big or small; who used her life to create beauty and meaning that wasn’t there before.

The Problem with Flares

April 19, 2016


Here’s the thing: I don’t know why I don’t wear these flares more often.

In my heart of hearts I love them so much! I love the way they make me feel (like a 70s supermodel). I love the way they fit, and I love that I can wear them with heels (that can be a problem when you’re a 35″ inseam)!


The real issue is that I’m the mother of a toddler and I work from home in my sweatpants. Don’t get me wrong — I’m so grateful that this is my reality. It’s pretty sweet.

The only thing that gets confusing is what to do with my closet. I have a lot of aspirational outfits and clothes that are set aside for certain occasions. These flares only come out once or twice a month when I’ve got a blogger event or a date night in the city. And when I’ve got 6-8 other special occasion outfits in my back pocket, the flares don’t always come to mind.


One reason I love the capsule wardrobe is that it forces me to recognize these things about my own closet. Secondly, I have realized what it takes to make some outfits happen, and for a pair of flares, it requires planning. If I don’t have a specific top in mind or heels that work, I’m just not going to wear the outfit. I no longer have the time or energy to put something together on the fly. The capsule experiment helps me be intentional. And sometimes that’s all it takes to move an outfit from the realm of aspirational to reality.



Real Talk Real Moms : Play

April 15, 2016

  real talk real moms \ play
I’m finally getting to the part in my motherhood journey where I can get beyond simply surviving each day. I’ve spent so much time being stressed about optimizing her sleep, my work, travel, and my marriage that I haven’t left much time to play. Sometimes that can make me sad, but I know we all have seasons like that. So now I’m pressing on to what’s ahead.
The good news is Charlie is 2 and she is so much fun. Everything she does makes me laugh.  Now that she can respond with what she does and doesn’t like I am incredibly motivated to go exploring with her. The most incredible thing is to hear her recount the events of her day at dinner or as she’s singing herself to sleep, and it reminds me that it’s worth the trouble to do activities with her on a daily basis.
My goal is to allow her to experiment and experience life without hovering over her at every turn. But for a mom with anxiety this is such a challenge! I try to find grace and allow myself one relaxed day for every adventure day. I’m grateful to live in a place where we have so many options, but sometimes we have to deal with traffic — and then there’s her need to still nap.
I’m grateful for the Saturdays when I’m not working, because I’m more likely to go on an adventure and be lenient with her naps when my husband Aaron is with me. He balances me out in the best way.
This is an area where I would really like to learn more from other mothers. What do you love to do with your toddler — at home or out on adventures?
I am excited to check out the other posts in our real talk series and I hope you check them out too!

Jen | Erin | Samantha | Alex | Hilary | Sarah | Amy | Caitlin | Rebecca




The Black Skirt

April 12, 2016

Y’all wanna know a secret? Doing a jumping shot in high heels is a lot harder than it looks.  This took me about 57 tries.  I almost sprained an ankle, and Em and I laughed way too much!  Mad respect to Karlie Kloss and all the other models who can probably do this in one take.

Recently Amy from Dallas Wardrobe posted a similar outfit. I loved how chic and effortless it felt.  Then I got really excited when I realized I could recreate it with pieces I already had in my closet.

This outfit began with the shoes.  I wear a size 10 which means I can rarely borrow shoes from my friends.  That my roomate is a size 10 means more to me than you know!  When she gets rid of old shoes I get first dibs.

She was getting rid of these boots and I snatched them from her donation bag wondering why in the world she was getting rid of them.  Now I know: they’re terribly uncomfortable.   And I’m all about comfort.  But I don’t even care with these babies.  I feel sassy and sexy when I wear them.  Will I wear them everyday?  No way.  But when I do, it’s worth the pain.

I love that social media gives us access to so much inspiration.  You may not have the exact same pieces as someone else does.  Don’t let that stop or discourage you.  Get creative with what you have!  You’ll be surprised with the fun looks you can come up with!



Let’s Talk About Sex Baby…

April 8, 2016


Being a virgin in my 20s was easy.   Mostly because it’s easy not to have sex when you’re dating life looks like the Sahara Desert.

But then I moved to New York City.   Guys came out of the woodwork to ask me out — on the subway, after church, online, at bars, and at dinner parties.

In one year I had more dates than I’d had in an entire decade. And suddenly the struggle to wait became a little more real.  It was one thing to make a declaration as a high school senior in front of my youth group.  But at 30, sex seemed like an expectation – even from Christian guys. Waiting until marriage seemed like an uphill battle, one I had to fight alone.

During this time I fell hard for a great guy.  We cared for each other deeply.  After one especially amazing date we started kissing, and things began moving fast.  My resolve felt as sturdy as a house of cards.   Within minutes we crossed an invisible line.  We didn’t have sex, but we got close, and it surprised me how easy it was to get there.

Shortly after that, things ended.  I was heartbroken and confused. I realized I had forgotten why I was saving sex for marriage.   There had to be reasons other than the promise I had made in high school.   But I just couldn’t remember what they were.

I embarked on a personal journey that lasted the better part of a year, in search of the reasons behind my decision. Through my dialogues with others and thinking about my own heartbreaks I discovered some practical reasons to hold back on the physical.

1.   Becoming physically involved blurs my vision as I’m trying to discern if we’re even a good fit. Kissing is fun, but do we like each other as friends, and can we have hard conversations? Physical compatibility is not nearly as important as our actual relationship and our level of spiritual compatibility.

2.     When I’ve been physically affectionate with a guy – even just holding hands and kissing — I feel closer to him than I actually am.  A false sense of intimacy develops before the other parts of our relationship have caught up.  True intimacy with another person takes time.

3. Being physically affectionate has an impact on my heart.  I’ve noticed that when I’ve dated a guy and we haven’t kissed or even held hands, a breakup is still painful, but we’re able to walk away with less mess and heartache.

However, as a woman who loves and follows Jesus I was still missing something important:  What is God’s intention for sex?  Having practical reasons to wait feels significant, but is there more?  Does He want me to wait?  And if so, why?

Photo c/o Tutti del Monte

I started to search the Scriptures, and I began to see that God’s heart on sex and sexuality is expansive and sacred.  It turns out He has a lot to say about sex!

We don’t even get through chapter 1 of the first book of the Bible before God starts talking about sex.

He creates Adam and says, it’s not good for man to be alone.  But before God brings a partner for Adam He puts him to work managing Eden and naming all the animals.  It’s as if Adam needed to see for himself the value of hard work and being a leader, while being able to experience that he still longed for more.  What he longed for was companionship, partnership, and love.  God puts Adam to sleep, takes a rib from him and begins designing an altogether separate being:  woman.  He creates a woman for Adam with breasts and curves, and God says all of these things are good.

Adam awakens to discover Eve.  I imagine his jaw dropping to the ground.  He is so taken with her that he immediately bursts into song:  At last this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

And so begins the first marriage:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:24-25

At a glance these verses may seem small and even insignificant, but they are jam-packed with historical meaning.  In Old Testament Hebrew culture to leave home was a massive rite of passage.  When a man did so it made a public statement to his family, friends, and community.  In our culture we simply move out to go to college, but in this context you moved out once.  Moving out meant something; it was taken seriously, and everyone knew about it.

With this in mind, God fleshes out how this type of relationship can look.  He says a marriage between a man and a woman is so powerful that incredible things should happen in response to it.  The groom boldly goes public with his love. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to be with his bride.  He leaves his home, family, friends — perhaps even his career — to cling to her.  He doesn’t do this out of obligation; he is compelled by love and adoration.  No one is going anywhere.  They’re 100% all in this relationship.  The man is serious about his woman.

Scripture then says they become one flesh, and he holds fast to her…a.k.a. they have sex.  They’re naked and unashamed.  And God is in their midst.  Shame is nowhere to be found.

Can you imagine the type of trust, unconditional love, and acceptance these two have for one another in order to be wholly naked and unashamed — not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually?  It must feel so safe, freeing, healing, connecting, and inspiring.  It’s the type of love movies should be made about.

Their physical expression of sex points to an internal commitment.   Sex is the manifestation of the collision of their souls, spirits, and minds.  Their souls become one in marriage, and their bodies follow suit.

This reveals God’s holistic view on sex as an invitation to something much deeper than a physical transaction.  It’s a part of a much grander whole.

And isn’t that just like God:  to invite us to on a journey of wholeness, healing, love, and freedom through relationship.  It’s never just about the physical with Jesus.  He’s always about all of our mind, body, soul, and spirit being connected to Him.

All of this uncovered, and I haven’t even left Genesis 2. My mind is blown.

So do I want to have sex?  Of course.  But I want more than just sex.  Because the physical is never just about the physical – it’s always an invitation to the spiritual.

And I want the whole thing.  I want to experience sex within a Genesis 2 type of relationship.  I want a committed marriage to a man who loves Jesus and has integrity.  A man who is intentional and sees all of me, who loves people well, has vision for his life, and respects and honors me. A man I can dream with, go through heartache with, adventure with and laugh until the tears come.  I want to experience all the parts within the whole.

And I am more than willing to wait for that.



An Ode to the Henley Tee

April 5, 2016


The biggest challenge of the capsule wardrobe is figuring out what my style really is. Since we started The Refined Woman, the style section has been my playground. I enjoy the opportunity to express myself creatively in this way.

I’m incredibly visual, and as I’ve tried out different trends, the way that I’ve been able to determine whether they really ring true is to see how I look in these posts. It hasn’t been the easiest learning experience, nor has it been the cheapest. And I’ve learned a lot of style lessons the hard way — I can’t tell you how many style posts I would love to go back and delete!

Choosing a seasonal capsule wardrobe has challenged me to be intentional with my own closet. Through eliminating the clothes I don’t regularly wear, I’ve realized that what feels most like me are the clothes I wear a lot. Day in and day out.

Last month I was in New York for Fashion Week Kat and I were getting ready to photograph the Mara Hoffman show for our friends at Freda Salvador. I had been in the city for 3 freezing days and I was still recovering from a terrible sinus infection. Usually events like this give me an  excuse to wear something fun and really out there — because when else can I do that?

This year, I just needed to feel like myself. It can be intimidating to photograph at Fashion Week because it’s not my normal arena. Throw me in front of a 21 person bridal party and I’m the queen. At Fashion Week, I am still figuring out my voice and where I belong. It’s like high school all over again.

So I wore this outfit. A henley tee that sometimes I sleep in. A pair of black skinny jeans (they’re like mascara for your legs) and my Freda boots. Flat boots were key so I wouldn’t fall on my face in front of another fashion icon.

And it felt right. It felt good. I like being comfortable. It makes me feel confident. And that, my friends, is everything.

the henley tee / the refined woman

the henley tee / the refined woman

the henley tee / the refined woman

the henley tee / the refined woman




Henley | Jeans | Boots | Beanie | Belt (Vintage)

Beauty is… at rest | Elizabeth Boocks

March 31, 2016


Photos c/o Genevieve Davis

How do I begin to introduce this woman? Elizabeth is one of the most incredible women I have ever met. Seven years ago we became roommates in Newport Beach through a random online classified ad, and I thank God for that all the time. Elizabeth quickly became one of my soul friends.  We’ve walked through some high highs and really low lows. We’ve had dance parties to Justin Bieber, gone on hiking adventures, attended movie premiers, and met each other’s families. She’s nursed me back to health, and wiped my tears through multiple heartaches. She is a fierce woman of God, and continually points me back to His love and kindness. She makes me a much better woman. Last year, she became our editor here at The Refined Woman. Now I get to share her with Emily, who has quickly fallen in love with her too. I really can’t remember what life was like before she was in it.

I want to write more… but I know y’all are just going to want to see her heart for yourself! Elizabeth you are one of my favorites. I love you so much!



As a kid I spoiled the surprise by peeking at my Christmas presents. Sometimes I skip to the last chapter so I can get some sleep. And for me to prepare a meal without nibbling requires a colossal amount of effort.

Patience is something I’ve worked at, and it’s taken me a long time to enjoy the value of delayed gratification.

I had an epiphany about this recently…

There are
1) the things we long for
2) the steps we take to move toward them
3) the ways in which we handle the in-between space, when our goals or dreams are unfulfilled

Admitting your dreams can be hard.

Not the ones that still linger from childhood, like my dream of becoming Cinderella, which is mostly about wanting to dance at a ball in a palace. Or the fun dreams, like going to Fashion Week in Paris or seeing the Northern Lights.

But the ones that really matter, like my dream of becoming a photographer. I buried that when I was still a kid, and it took decades to resurface and come to fruition. Or my current dreams of being in a different place in my career, of owning my own home, and of being married and raising kids with a man who shares my faith.

The more my dreams matter, the harder they can be to articulate. Possibly because once I admit I want something, I have to decide what to do about it. Figuring out those steps, and actually taking them can be challenging!

But the real kicker, the one that determines my quality of life, is what I do with the in-between — that vast space between admitting what I want and seeing it come to pass.

What am I supposed to do with all those dreams swirling about?


I’ve done a lot of things to try to find some relief. One is to judge myself for wanting the things I want. I think the rationale is that if I convince myself I shouldn’t want something, the absence of it will be less painful.

Another is to compare myself to those who are less fortunate. Although I’m grateful I didn’t, for example, grow up in extreme poverty, it doesn’t change my longing to be married or get a promotion. It just makes me feel guilty about something that isn’t my fault.

Sometimes I wallow in regret about the steps I haven’t taken, or bemoan the fact that I wasn’t even aware of some of my dreams until my 40s.

Other times I fret about whether I’m doing enough or pursuing things in the right way. Then I start to compare myself to others (or to a younger version of myself), and worriedly wonder, “What if it doesn’t happen?”

None of these strategies are remotely helpful. If anything, they make things worse – I feel guilty, judged, jealous, full of regret, and consumed with self-pity.

Thankfully there’s an alternative: to live in a place of trust.

I know my dreams are good and honorable. I’m taking personal responsibility to do my part, and I’ve sought wisdom from those who share my values.

With those things in place, I can be at rest and trust God with the timing and execution of what I long for and acknowledge that my life is still rich and full of purpose, regardless of whether my dreams are fulfilled.


There’s something beautiful and simple about that mindset.

When I move through my days with that perspective, the seasons of waiting don’t feel like a waste of time. It doesn’t erase the sadness I sometimes feel, but I’m able to be present and connected to what is good in my life.

It sounds easy. But trust is a choice, one I prayerfully make, several times a day. When I feel discouraged or restless, my thoughts often lead me in a dark direction. I’ve learned that when I indulge them I have to work hard to regain my focus.

I’m still on a journey with this. I have my difficult days.

But when I close my eyes and think about it, I see an ocean, and a boat, and the invitation to crawl in. I can simply rest, and I don’t have to worry about whether there’s a storm ahead, because God is both the captain of the boat and the boat itself. He is the creator of the sky, the wind, and the sea. He may crash the boat or dock it somewhere safe, but no matter what, I am loved, and I am with Him – and my life is still beautiful, and meaningful, and good.



A Message to All the Brides Out There…

March 29, 2016

[Be sure + check out our Bridesmaid feature on Darling today too!]

I wore a pale yellow sleeveless floor-length gown with a beaded bodice.  My braces sparkled, and my hair was in a French braid.  My curled bangs were plastered with so much hairspray I was terrified someone would light a candle next to me and I’d instantly go up in flames.

This was my initiation into the world of a bridesmaid.  My mom was getting remarried and asked me to be her maid of honor.  I don’t think I did any of the things a maid of honor is supposed to do.  But I wore that yellow dress with conviction and stood proudly next to her on a rainy day in March in a tiny Dallas church with emerald green carpet.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

A few weekends ago I was a bridesmaid for the 17th time. When I tell people how many weddings I’ve been in, the response I usually get is, you’re like that girl in 27 Dresses. Outwardly I laugh, but inwardly pray I meet someone well before being a bridesmaid that many times.

The other response I get is pity: you’ve been a bridesmaid that many times?  All the showers, the bachelorette weekends… that must be awful.  Well, you haven’t met my friends.  I have some incredible women in my life, and it’s an honor to walk beside such powerful ladies as they enter into marriage.


(Above images c/o Kelly Moore, Karen KristianAngi WelschShannen Natasha)

As a professional bridesmaid, I have a lot of compassion for brides.  The transition from being single to being engaged overnight is huge.  Before that even soaks in, everyone starts asking about the wedding.  And everyone has an opinion on how it should look, how much it should cost, which band to hire.  You’re thrust into throwing what is probably the most expensive party of your life.  You’ve been given money from your parents, and it usually has some strings attached.  The pressure from everyone else’s dreams and expectations of your wedding can be crushing.

Photo c/o Tutti del Monte

If you’re not careful, your wedding can turn into an impersonal, energy-draining event you dread.  You try to please every person in your life while agonizing — and I mean agonizing — over unimportant details — like which shade of white linen napkins to choose.

Brides, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Let me take a few burdens off your shoulders.

  1.  For the love of all that is good, let your bridesmaids pick out their dresses.  Most floor length gowns will not be worn again.  Trust me.  I don’t care if it’s only $129.  I’d rather pay more for a dress that is well-made and flattering, one I will actually wear again. Praise God for BHLDN.  If I could wear a BHDLN dress in every wedding I’m a part of, I’d be a happy girl.  No one will care that your bridesmaids aren’t wearing the same dress. And as a wedding photographer I can assure you that different colors and silhouettes look beautiful in photos. Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Believe me when I say, no one notices the bridesmaid’s nail polish, or whether the groomsmen have matching socks and cuff links.  What I remember most about weddings I’ve been in, attended, and photographed is the joy and connection of the couple, the amazing dance parties, and catching up with friends.  We’re there because we love you, and are for your marriage… and maybe the dance party too!
  1. Once you make your decisions, stay away from the wedding blogs.They provide inspiration as you start to plan your wedding, but what can happen is this:  you’ve booked your venue, bought the dress, and then you get into the rabbit hole of your favorite wedding blog or Pinterest.  You see a new wedding theme, and in a matter of minutes the joy of your decisions is replaced with regret and comparison.   Once you’ve made your decisions resist the urge to scroll through the blogs.  Trust yourself, choose joy, and have confidence in the decisions you’ve made.
  1. Be mindful of costs for your bridal party.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime event.  You’re splurging, and I don’t blame you!  But it can cost several thousand dollars just to be in a wedding —  dresses, shoes, jewelry, gifts, spa days, flights for bachelorette weekends.  We’re happy to do it because we love you.  But consider some affordable alternatives, like a girls night where everyone paints their own nails.  Or going out to a place that has a good happy hour.  If you really want your girls wearing specific jewelry or shoes, perhaps have that be your bridesmaid gift.
  1. Remember the why. You’re making a life promise to the love of your life.  The wedding day will come and go, but you’re gearing up to spend a lifetime with someone.  Focus on preparing for a life together.  Get pre-marital counseling.  Meet with couples who’ve been together for a few decades.  Learn from them.  Ask questions.

The vows you say to each other are the most important thing.  It doesn’t matter if your wedding takes place in your living room or in a chateau in Provence.  What matters is your relationship.


P.S. Join me on instagram today.  I’ll be doing a Q&A.  Whether you’re a bride or bridesmaid if you have any questions on the wedding you’re planning or the wedding you’re in I’d love to help!

[This post is in collaboration with BHLDN. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.]