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i’m back!
August 20th, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding


To try to explain this trip will not be easy. It was delightful, relaxing, and will be forever sentimental for Mr. Lively and I.

As I get back into the swing of things (due to a delightfully productive period of jet lag), I want to share a few photos from the trip. I’ll go over our wedding ceremony and honeymoon in more detail later this week. As many have requested last week, there will be lots of photos!

Here are a few to start…

what i am wearing on my wedding day
August 17th, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding


Now for the fun part, my outfit!

Though our wedding isn’t traditional in many ways, I still wanted a white dress. However, since we are most likely holding the ceremony in a garden or someplace quiet, but public, I didn’t want to attract too much attention with a big gown. Anything that could draw a crowd was out of the question… but I still wanted it to feel special.

Given our tight timeline, I knew ordering a bridal gown was unlikely which made my shopping trips limited and focused. I went to Nordstrom, Bhldn, and J.Crew. I also knew that I wanted to wear flats. So a short dress seemed ideal to not overwhelm my height or attract a crowd.

And again, going for short, white, wedding dress that is off the rack made the search even more specific.

Though I found some nice options at all the places I tried, the one that hit exactly the right feel and fit for me was at J.Crew in their bridesmaids dresses. 

Yep, I’m wearing an ivory bridesmaid dress that I got for $240 with tax. Because I opened up a J.Crew card with all my honeymoon shopping, I snagged some savings on the dress at the same time.

So though the dress is not “inexpensive” for a bridesmaid dress, it is a great bargain for a wedding gown. Especially since it fit off the rack.

The savings on this piece opened up my wedding gift clothing budget for lots of other items I’ll be able to wear on our honeymoon and year-round. Plus, my wedding dress can be worn on our special day and possibly at our friends and family parties, too. It’s a win-win-win.

In fact, the shoes I found ended up costing more than the dress.

Ever since we abandoned the traditional wedding route, I no longer had to consider wedding colors or bridesmaids dresses to match (which would have been coral). So I used the old adage “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” for inspiration.

Because of my short dress, my shoes were an obvious place for me to have some fun with blue. Which apparently Something Bleu agrees with too.

Even the box matched my impromptu wedding color scheme.

As did this lovely pair of flats.

French blue. Flat. With a bow! I mean, common, they were begging to be worn in a Paris elopement ceremony (or any special occasion for that matter).

They are comfy and dressed up enough to add a little something extra to an otherwise pretty simple wedding dress.

And then it was time to add the sparkle.

The rhinestone bracelet and earrings were my late Grandma Constable’s. I am thankful that I’ll also have a piece from my late Grandma Gravette: my engagement stone. So my Grandma’s will be with me through these special pieces.

The pin, which will go on my waist, is from the 1930’s and was bought from a Brooklyn street vendor for $20. The lady vendor had a huge tray of vintage pieces, and this pin seemed more special than any that I had seen in the stores. I adore it’s design and tarnished patina so much. It also fits right in with my Grandmas’ jewelry.

I’ll also be using my Grandma Gravette’s beaded purse. When she passed away in 2004 I inherited a lot of her accessories. This was one of them. Though I’m not sure, I like to think that she might have been married with this purse, too.

For the “something borrowed” part of the equation I’ll be wearing an item my mom sent me to wear which was given to her by her mother (Grandma Gravette) on her wedding day. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I can’t wait to find out.

When it comes to hair and makeup, it cost a pretty penny 200 euros at a local Paris salon to get my hair done on a Sunday (when most salons are closed). So rather than splurge on the hair, I’ve decided to do it myself* and buy new makeup which I will apply myself.

Thanks so much for following me on this journey this week, I can’t wait to share details from the trip when I am home!


* To ensure that my curling iron would work in Europe, Mr. Lively did some Amazon research and found what I can only call The Mega Converter. Hopefully this monster will do the job.

[sponsor] fashion for home
August 16th, 2012     |    Life

This post is brought to you by Fashion For Home.

Question: Revolutionary prices for beautiful design?

Answer: Fashion For Home

Let’s face it, beauty and good design are at the top of any interior design enthusiast’s wishlist; no one wants trash cluttering up their hallway or hanging from their light fittings! But given that indulging in your favourite designers can often come with a hefty price tag that promises to go into the thousands (and more…), for most of us value for money is also a seriously important buying factor when its comes to our homes.

What’s that I hear?: “You can’t get both”! Nonsense!

Someone once said “Negativity is expensive” and in this case, they couldn’t be more right! So drumroll please…  I present the stuff that interior dreams are made of: Fashion for Home. This Berlin-based furniture company has eshops in the U.S, the UK, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands and with over 40 designers across 7 different ranges, there is  something to whet everyone’s styling appetite!

In terms of Fashion For Home’s 7 lines, my personal favorite is Fashion for HomeStudio Copenhagen. While many of us recognize the classic straight, crisp lines of traditional Scandinavian design, this range adds some gorgeous, soft curves to the mix: a fusion which has proven very popular among Fashion For Home’s customers. Within Studio Copenhagen, Fashion for Homethe Wimbledon sofas and armchairs are one of the best sellers and are a great example of this union of the curvy and the minimal. Other ranges such as Amore di Casa have been praised for having a far more traditional and delicate aesthetic, with intricately carved wood playing a central role in design.

I have been asked time and time again, “what’s the catch? How do you keep prices low on such great products?” The truth of the matter is that Fashion For Home cuts out storage costs, which significantly increase prices, by making-to-order. Once you order your product it will be made and shipped directly to you, without any hanging around on the way. So there isn’t a catch, there just isn’t a store!


When scouting for a DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviewee this week, I turned to my fellow Jess LC intern, Kiley. Kiley is one of those girls who has everything going for her: looks, smarts, talent, drive, and did I mention the girl can dress? You can see for yourself on her style blog, Off Randolph. At the same time, she’s one of the nicest and most down to earth girls you’ll meet. She’s jetting off to Italy soon for a semester abroad, so I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to ask her to share her intentions with us. Thanks for sharing, Kiley! Enjoy!  -Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kiley of Off Randolph

To me, this comes above all. I often find myself saying “I’m too busy” to keep in touch with certain people, only to realize that instead of pressing snooze five times that morning I could have called my cousin who lives in a different state or an old friend. My latest goal has been to make time for those people in my life that I love, but don’t talk to nearly enough, because ultimately those relationships are the most precious things in our short life.

This Fall, instead of heading back down to Nashville, where I’m a student at Vanderbilt, I leave for Italy to study abroad for the semester. This summer has been spent preparing, getting excited, attempting to fit everything I want to pack in one checked bag (whoever made that rule was surely a man), but mostly hearing tips from everyone about how to best take advantage of my time in Europe. The thing that I hear most is “depth over breadth”; instead of racing through every European city I’m dying to see (that would be all of them), I hope to really experience a smaller number of cities, make lasting relationships with people I would not have met otherwise, and go off the beaten path in each place I have the opportunity to spend time.

I may be alone on this one, but I probably spend over an hour every day dreaming—in class, on the bus, while I walk, everywhere. And while I have no idea what my future job will be or what my future home will look like, I think there is a certain importance in dreaming because without the dreams to start out with, there is no hope of them becoming a reality.

The idea of giving back is huge to me—HUGE. Growing up, I was never a sports person or a theater person or an artsy person. I was, however, a huge fan of school and wanted to take classes all year round (weird kid, I know). One summer I took a class called Youth and Society, which exposed me to a different non-profit organization in Chicago each day. Volunteering almost every day that summer was the most satisfying thing I could have done with my time; making others happy is definitely one of the keys to being happy yourself.

In a perfect world, we’d all immediately succeed in whatever we set out to do, but that doesn’t sound like a very interesting world to me. Planning on making mistakes helps me deal with them when they happen and more importantly, learn from them quickly. Knowing that I’ll make more mistakes than I’d probably like to makes it easier to aim higher since I’ve accepted mistakes as something good in life.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


This week while I’m away, Helena (Queen of the Nuts and Bolts and Sweeter CPA) is going to be answering a question that I asked her earlier this summer: What accounting software should I choose? You see, I have used Quickbooks for years and wasn’t sure if it was time for me to change systems or not.

Tomorrow Helena will go into detail about the pros and cons of two major accounting programs for small businesses.

If you’d like to get the email, simply sign up by clicking on the image below. This email list is also where I announce upcoming Workshops and other BWI updates.

(If you have signed up for the BWI newsletter, you will automatically get this series.)

designing our wedding with intention
August 14th, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding

Now that I’ve shared why we decided to elope, I’ll share what traditions we decided to keep, what we edited, and what we invented.

As I’ve mentioned before, our decision to pass on a traditional wedding is saving us a substantial amount of money. Which has allowed us to intentionally splurge in some areas like our honeymoon and wedding gifts, and save on others like an expensive wedding dress, floral arrangements, and venue.

Overall, I think we’ve successfully tailored our wedding to our personal preferences. I feel over-the-top excited about our plans and incredibly grateful for such an unexpected and unconventional way of getting married. I never would have imagined we’d be eloping, but it turned out to be a perfect fit for us.

Which of course goes to show how individual each wedding should be. What we have done is certainly not right for everyone. It’s really all about doing what is best for each individual couple and their intentions.

Here’s how we crafted our wedding traditions.

Engagement Photos

Though we did not plan to get engagement photos taken, we got very lucky. My friend and photographer Kelly Stonelake tweeted me about a photography workshop (Film Is Not Dead) in Chicago that needed engagement couples to shoot. So we snatched up the opportunity and got some great free photos like this one by Catherine.

The other few engagement photos on the last few posts were by the adorable Jonah of Jen and Jonah (if you live in Ohio, I definitely recommend them!).

Wedding Invites

When it came to wedding invites, this was high up on my priority list. And though we weren’t inviting people to our ceremony, our friend and family celebrations definitely warranted nice looking invitations.

And when it came to invites, I knew exactly who I wanted to design them: Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio. (She’s also the designer behind our Jess LC stationery as well.)

And when it comes to packaging, Claudia kills it.

I still can’t believe my invites were inside these adorable packages! (I was pretty much squealing when I opened them.)

And there she is. Our lovely little invite.

We decided to make it an announcement about our elopement without event details. Printing only one announcement for both the family and the friend gatherings helped us save money and keep things simple. I also designed a wedding website (through Blogger so I could customize the look) and have the party details going out in an email to friends and family later this week.

You’ll notice that we went with a French blue and gray scheme which is very… French looking. But in fact the color choice originated from the color of my shoes. I’ll share more about what I’m wearing soon.

Somehow the beautiful blue color also popped up in most of our wedding details despite the fact that I’m not personally a huge fan of blue (except for this shade, of course). If I had a traditional wedding it would have been gray, white, coral, and gold all the way.

But crazy things happen when you do something completely different than you imagine.

And it all just seems right.

I cannot wait to see the invite framed on the wall with a photo of our shoes.

Wedding Officiant and Photographer

When we first decided to elope in two month’s time, the task of finding French officiants and photographers sounded… not fun.

So we instantly decided to invite our friends to fill these roles, rather than try to work with people we’ve never met before.

photo by

We are flying our friends Kim and Scott to Paris with us. Kim is a fantastic photographer and Scott is exactly the kind of person who is perfect for running the ceremony. So rather than fork over a chunk of cash to people we don’t know, we are treating our friends to a trip to Paris instead. (They are super psyched.)

Kim and Scott will be with us for three days and then fly home. At which point Mr. Lively and I will stay for our honeymoon.

Side Note: we decided to skip the hassle of trying to get a French wedding license and did it here in Chicago ahead of time. So as Mr. Lively likes to say, we were “legally” married for a few weeks, but not “officially” until our ceremony.

Ceremony and Dinner

We devised the ceremony itself (this was a big deal to us) and I’ll will share it in more detail when I get back.

But as far as location and restaurant afterwards, we don’t really know yet. Getting married on an August Sunday evening in Paris means quite a lot of places will be closed (we’ve heard) so we are going to wing it.

I’ll share more on what we decided to do when we return.

I’ll also be finding a little bouquet from a market on Saturday… of whatever looks fresh and beautiful.

Wedding Gifts

Because we are eloping and not having a traditional wedding, we are skipping a wedding registry. I’m happy that we can leave the gifts out of the equation and just spend our time with our friends and families when we celebrate with them in September and November.

But we didn’t ditch the idea of a wedding gifts for one another. This is where we intentionally splurged.

I got Mr. Lively a fancy-pants espresso maker. Since Mr. Lively worked as a barista one summer in college, our kitchen is now a mini-Starbucks, much to his delight. (I really think he likes making me lattes just so he can foam the milk.)

And Mr. Lively gifted me a very generous shopping budget for new clothes and my wedding outfit. I’ve been beyond thankful for his gift and he’s loved watching me evolve my wardrobe this summer.

Much to my intern Caitlin’s delight, she’s reaped the benefits of my wedding gift as well. She’s been on the receiving end of a substantial closet exfoliation.

Bachelorette Party

Since we were keeping the elopement a secret, it was not possible to have a bachelorette party ahead of time. So when we celebrate with friends I won’t be a bachelorette anymore.

Which is why I’ve decided to have a “Mrs. Party.”

Yep, I’m inventing my own special lady party that is going to celebrate the fact that I’m already married. I’ll elaborate more on this party once it happens.

So there you have it! I’d love to hear if anyone has made similar choices in their weddings or elopements. (And if these ideas resonate with others and get adopted into their own nuptials I would be thrilled!)

DESIGN YOUR LOOK 2012: pin your heart out!
August 13th, 2012     |    Life

Hi all! We were beyond impressed by the submissions for this year’s Design Your Look contest—serious talent. So as we explained last week, the entries are now all on the Design Your Look Contest board on Jess’ Pinterest.

The look that gets the most repins by noon on Monday, August 20 will win! Remember, we will be monitoring the board and multiple repins of an entry by the same Pinterest user will not be counted and may lead to disqualification from the contest. We will announce the winner next week here on the blog.

Good luck and happy pinning!

-Caitlin and Kiley













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