Gift giving is kind of my thing, and I absolutely fall into the category of preferring to give rather than receive. I love finding something that I feel is perfect for a friend or family member, and I’m usually overly excited to send it to them. There are bonus points if I’m able to give it to them in person! While I’m a pro at brainstorming ideas, the two areas where I tend to struggle most often go hand-in-hand: finding something sweet that isn’t quite mainstream and staying within my budget. Because I have a feeling we all struggle with what to get our closest girlfriends for birthdays, holidays, and the occasional just because, I thought I would put together a guide of 10 of my favorite go-to gifts. Plus, they’re all under $50!

Birthday-Gifts-for-Her-Under-50

1. Chunky Infinity Scarf – Old Navy ($17.94): You really can’t go wrong with scarves whether you’re thinking of an outerwear option for the fall and winter or a lighter weight option to wear everyday (and all yearlong).

2. Monogrammed Acrylic Pencil Cup – Design Darling ($14): I’ve given this pencil cup as a gift before, and it was a hit! In addition to serving as a pretty piece for a desk, this can also double as a place to store makeup and brushes.

3. Confetti Birthday Letterpress Card – Ink Meets Paper ($6): If you definitely want to send a gift card, up the ante by placing it inside of this card complete with a handwritten note. It really is filled with confetti!

4. Kate Spade Bangle – Nordstrom ($34 on sale; $48 normally): There are few girls who don’t love Kate Spade, and a bangle is perfect to wear with a watch or another stack of bracelets! Plus, a bangle is one of the most affordable ways to gift Kate Spade. PS: My other favorite sources for jewelry are Swell Caroline, Stella & Dot, and BaubleBar.

5. Trust Me You’re Lovely Tote – LH Calligraphy ($15): I have a tote addiction, and I love the sentiment on this calligraphy bag. It can act as a gift bag in the moment, and then your friend can easily reuse it as a tote for work, working out, or running errands.

6. Best Friends in Top Knots Art Print – Simply Jessica Marie ($20): Jessica printed this painting on cards earlier this year that I sent to my best friends for Valentine’s Day. I love that she added the full size print to her shop! It’s a sweet gift for a best friend, sister, or cousin whether she’s in college, moving into her first apartment, or has lived in her home for years.

7. Marshmallow Flower Bouquet – The Bouqs ($40): Although I haven’t ordered a bouquet from The Bouqs yet, they appeared on Shark Tank! Their flowers are grown on the side of a volcano, and you can order a $40 bouquet if time allows. You can also add in additional flowers and a quicker delivery time for $50. You can never ever go wrong by surprising a friend with flowers! PS: Delivery is free.

8. Watercolor Poppy Fields Notebook – May Designs ($19): Perfect to gift to a coworker to take notes during meetings or to a friend who loves to keep lists and journals. Plus, everything is better with a monogram. :)

9. Kate Spade Things We Love Coffee Table Book - Amazon ($26): A book for the preppy inspiration seeker to flip through for years to come.

10.  Annie of Green Gables - Rifle Paper Company ($16): I adore Rifle Paper Company’s designs, and they released redesigned covers as part of their Puffin in Bloom collection. The girl who adores reading will love adding this classic to her collection, plus it’s so pretty she’ll want to display it. PS: Shop the entire collection of classics with redesigned covers.

What are your favorite birthday gifts to give? Let me know in the comments!

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Attending Bridal Market was one of my biggest professional goals a few years ago. I had no idea how to set up appointments, which dresses were considered part of a trend, or how to approach a designer to ask if I could snap a few pictures. This year was absolutely different. Similar to last year, I set up all of my appointments on my own (with a few assists from my friend Jessica!), switched to my camera instead of my iPhone in order to capture better photos, and definitely wasn’t shy when asking questions. There were absolutely times when I was faking confidence, but even still, I noticed I’ve grown as a professional in the wedding industry when I think back to my first Market.

I took far, far too many pictures to share here, which is why I’m so excited to share more later this week and next week on The Styled Bride’s blog! But, I have to share a few of my favorites with you. Welcome to my version of Bridal Market (or Bridal Fashion Week or BFWNY – the number of names and hashtags is seriously out of control). It’s one of the weekends I look forward to most because I get to people watch (I spotted Keija Minor, the Editor-in-Chief of Brides a few times), watch fashion shows in beautiful venues, catch up with friends new and old, and feel like Sarah Jessica Parker while running through New York City to look at wedding dresses. It’s the most exhausting best weekend of the year.

Bridal-Market-1 Bridal-Market-3 Bridal-Market-4 Bridal-Market-5Bridal-Market-9Bridal-Market-6Bridal-Market-7Bridal-Market-10Bridal-Market-11Bridal-Market-12Bridal-Market-14Bridal-Market-15Bridal-Market-16Bridal-Market-17Bridal-Market-18Claire Pettibone’s gowns amaze me with their artistic quality. Plus, that venue and those flowers…I die. Modern Troussau caught my eye at the end of the summer in Charleston, and I spotted my beloved Fawn gown while I was viewing the new collection and chatting with Callie, the designer (!), while drinking tea and eating chocolate. Are you kidding? Best. Appointment. Ever. PS: The model’s ring? She had just gotten engaged, but I thought it was a prop!

Saturday was filled with Watters, a place card with my blog’s name on it that made my day, snapping photos of Des from The Bachelorette with the gowns she designed for Maggie Sottero, seeing Olia Zavozina’s new collection (I interviewed her during my first trip to Bridal Market!), and the loveliest meeting with Anna Campbell. We met last year at the Claire Pettibone show where she asked me if I wanted to view her collection the following day. I ended up trying on a gown…and a veil…at that meeting. I shocked my mom and my best friend with that text message! :) She’s so, so sweet, and I loved catching up with her again!

I wasn’t supposed to go back into town on Sunday, but I was invited to a dinner with a few other bloggers, photographers, and event planners. I left feeling so completely inspired and thankful for a fun night, new friends, and not getting lost once on the subway.

Until next year!

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As an event coordinator and the daughter of an accountant, I’m very aware wedding budgets. I’ve assisted couples at both high budget weddings and those within much more reasonable price ranges, and I’m always interested to see the event come together from a vendor standpoint. Which vendor’s captured the hearts of the couple; which areas are most important to them? For some couples, playing favorites means booking their first choice venue, band, florist, etc. But for most, that’s not the case. And in so many cases, opting against having all of the things (!!) and instead choosing a few favorites makes all of the difference.

Here are three quick budgeting tips:

Three-Tips-for-Wedding-BudgetsPhoto via Belle the Magazine; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

1. Establish your budget early & stick to it: Establishing your wedding budget may be uncomfortable (few people love talking about money), but it should be one of the very first things you tackle in your planning process. You need to know who is contributing to your wedding’s overall cost and how much they’re comfortable contributing. Also, know how much you’re comfortable contributing. Once you establish your budget, don’t deviate from it. Your wedding will be one awesome day, but one awesome day isn’t worth being in debt for many days.

2. Days & seasons matter: You’ve likely heard this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Wedding professionals are the most in demand on Saturdays because your guests will not have to take off from work in order to attend your wedding. Think about hosting your wedding on a Friday or a Sunday. Also, there are two wedding seasons. The first runs from spring through early summer, and the second starts at the very end of summer and runs through much of the fall. Many vendors, like venues, charge a premium to work during this high time, so be prepared. Also, know which flowers are in seasonHint: peonies are only in season during the early spring.

3. Choose Your Top Three: As I mentioned earlier, you may want to hire your favorite vendor from each category, but for most people that’s just not a possibility. And that’s OK! So you’re not left wondering “what if”, decide on your top three must-have vendors with your fiancé, and allocate your budget for them first. From your guests’ perspective, the food served and the music played are highly important because both tie into their overall experience. Realize that your photographer will take photos that you will turn to over and over again, so love the photographer you choose. And know that event planners love working with great industry pros – most planners have a number of suggestions for you that will likely help you and your budget. Hint: your venue, food, and drinks often comprise just about half of your budget depending on your guest count, so plan accordingly!

Bonus: Pinterest is wonderful for searching for inspiration. Visuals are far easier to present to vendors because they can see exactly what inspires you, but don’t let Pinterest rule your budget. So many pieces that are pin-worthy might not be budget-friendly, so be open to suggestions that will incorporate an idea you love at a price that won’t cause you to start to loathe it.

Do you have any budgeting tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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As much as I adore the summer, October is one of my favorite months. The color palette the changing leaves creates is always pretty, and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. But it’s breast cancer awareness that makes this month such a stand out to me. I love that the Today Show’s logo turns pink for a month, and Philadelphia honors survivors and those fighting by lighting up the skyline with pink lights. I love seeing companies I admire offering products specifically designed with donations in mind. Honor and awareness are important always, but it’s so inspiring to me because it seems like every person and organization plays for the same team to fight for the same cause.

Breast cancer awareness is important to me because I was tested for this awful disease when I was 19. I was in college, and one doctor lead to another and another until I left feeling as though cancer could actually be a possibility. That’s what happens when your doctor says they “aren’t 100% sure”. I looked at everyone around me in a different light, especially as I walked out of the hospital after my third (and most intense) appointment. Suddenly, I craved boring – I craved routine – more than anything. I remember looking at people driving from one place to another, and I wanted to be them. They were in their element, and even though I knew in my heart that cancer was a remote possibly, I wanted to have that feeling again of knowing where I was going and what I was doing in the moments and days that followed.

Pink-Roses-Breast-Cancer-Awareness

Going to appointment after appointment and waiting for doctors to call with results was, without a doubt, the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life. I was fortunate to receive the best news – I was fine – but my doctor later followed up with the fact that she had diagnosed a 22 year old girl with breast cancer. That’s why she was concerned about me. I counted on the fact that no one in my family had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer, but I was counting on my age even more. I was young. I was in college. I had my whole life ahead of me; I still do. But for the 22 year old who my sweet doctor had to face, age didn’t matter.

I never want to face that experience ever again. But in the midst of it all, I learned boring is beautiful and routine is the best ever. That’s something I still think about now. Full schedules make me happy, and new experiences fuel me. But in the middle of the busy, I start to crave the moments that I thought were completely boring just like I did when I walked out of the hospital. The moments I so want to fill – those matter too. They matter even more. I constantly remind myself that this moment may be one that I want back the most – the one that’s not filled with any change, but instead filled with complete knowledge of what’s going to happen next.

Boring is beautiful, routine is awesome, and neither is ever guaranteed. Live in the moment. And wear pink.

xoxo

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Happy October!! There are few more loved items in my closet than my chambray shirt. It’s a piece I can wear alone with a pair of jeans or layer during the fall and winter. It’s simple and classic, yet it still feels trendy. But chambray is definitely not limited to everyday fashion. Actually, I may love it the most when I spot chambray in weddings during the cooler months (because I can spot it right away).

I adore when brides layer chambray shirts over wedding dresses (I’ll never tire of chambray and tulle), and when grooms pair this classic, relaxed style with navy blazers. Chambray and a skirt is sweet and simple for flower girls, and it’s just as perfect to add to your wedding day details. Oh, and don’t forget about your engagement photos. Basically, all of the chambray all of the time. Hint: Blue comes across well in photos, which makes chambray a perfect choice. :)

A few favorite chambray looks for your wedding during any season:

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Photos: 1 Chambray & Plaid – The Perfect Palette // 2. Engagement Photo – Ryan Ray Photography // 3. Invitations – Martha Stewart Weddings // 4. Escort Cards – Martha Stewart Weddings // 5. Chambray & Lace – Danielle Poff Photography // 6. Bride & Groom in a Field – Style Me Pretty // 7. Monogram Chambray Shirt - Style Me Pretty // 8. Groom – Project Wedding // 9. Table Design – Wedding Chicks // 10. Flower Girls –  Style Me Pretty // 11. Bride – Every Last Detail // 12. Bride & Groom on the Beach – 100 Layer Cake

Do you have a favorite chambray look?

PS: While looking for inspiration on Pinterest, I spotted…myself. So, so strange!

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Summer is by far my favorite season. I love that it’s filled with warm weather and tons of travel. I love that I can swim in the ocean and walk along the beach, and I love that it stays late long enough to spend time outside long after I’ve finished eating dinner. It’s the sweetest season – one that I look forward to all year long – and it’s one that seems to come to a close much too quickly.

Earlier this year, I said that I wasn’t sure this year could ever top last year. But it already has in so many ways. I’ve met some of the best people, I’ve worked a number of beautiful weddings, and I’ve made it my mission to do things. I’ve learned that the very best way to experience something is to just say yes and make it happen. This summer, I learned how to do calligraphy, traveled to DC twice, visited Asheville (a place my parents and I have said we wanted to see countless times, but this time I said we should go!), adventured to Niagara Falls and faced some of my biggest fears (re: heights and small spaces), and, of course, enjoyed every moment of being on Kiawah Island #myhappyplace.

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I view my blog as a way to document parts of the life I lead. It’s not to brag or draw attention, but instead to share what can happen when you say yes to adventure – whatever adventure means for you. Instead of getting completely excited about the fall, I’m always left feeling sad. When I see the leaves starting to change, I want to turn back the hands of time and make them green again. Because green means the promise of summer lives on. Go & Do became my summertime anthem, and I want to make sure that trend continues long after the leaves have changed color and the trees have become bare in time for winter. My sweet season may have ended, but my anthem continues.

I hope you’re having a wonderful start to this new season! xo

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Obviously, this post was supposed to be live much earlier today. Then my computer seemed to be overheated and starting a fire in order to blog didn’t seem like a great idea. So, better late than never, right? I hope so. ;)

With a number of different weddings on the horizon with a florist and a possible trip to Bridal Market (the wedding industry’s version of Fashion Week), this is my last completely free weekend for a month. And by free, I mean I have a date tomorrow. With my Poppy. He’s 94, and he’s been counting down the days until we have lunch. Other than that, I’m in store for a low key weekend, and I’m really looking forward to it.

My favorite links I’ve been loving:

1. Choosing Meaningful Over Perfect // Carly is Inspired:

Meaningful-is-better-than-perfect

This is one of my favorite posts to date because I truly don’t believe in perfection, but I was so nervous about how it might be received by others. I’m happy to report that it’s gone over really well! Now matter if you work in the wedding industry or not, I think it’s worth a read. Choosing meaningful and purposeful over perfect will never let you down.

2. Getting Out of a Funk // Mackenzie Horan

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Photo via Mackenzie Horan

I always look forward to reading Mackenzie’s blog each morning, and this post was particularly relatable. I think we all have moments when we’re not sure where our lives might take us next, and that causes us to fear making any decisions at all. Especially in this season of my life, I’ve definitely experienced almost everything she’s talking about in her post. And I loved reading through some of the comments to see that there are a bunch of other people in the same boat. In a funk? Not sure what to do? Read Mackenzie’s post.

3. Lauren McCaul’s Home Tour // The Everygirl

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Photo via The Everygirl

Lauren’s style is slightly different than mine, but what I love about her home is how cozy her design has managed to make it feel. I’ve also always been drawn to older homes that have a story, and her home was built before Alabama was even a state. The best part of her feature, in my opinion, is her story about her job. She works for the US Army Corp of Engineers where she orders furniture for military spaces (an honorable position that definitely seems to involve far more rigid choices than the color she’s able to bring into her home). I work for a company that sells furniture to commercial spaces, and I’ve talked to professionals who are in the middle of bidding for government spaces. Maybe those pieces were for Lauren? I’m not positive, but it’s fun to see who you might be working with. :)

4. “Chandelier” Cover by Sara Bareilles:

One of my friends told me I had to watch/listen to Sara Bareilles cover Sia’s “Chandelier”. Sara’s voice is always stunning, and I’ve been known to turn on this video to listen to the cover a few times while I work. The one thing I really wish I could do: sing like Sara Bareilles.

5. Father Daughter Dance to Shake It Off:

There are so many things to love about this video: a.) this dad spending a fun afternoon with his sweet daughter, b.) his daughter’s adorable dance moves, and c.) “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! PS: The first day of fall is on Sunday. WHAT?! It’s basically time for Christmas.

This post is one that’s been on my heart for a long time now, but it’s so hard to put this idea into words. It’s scary to say something so honest and real about an industry I love, and I’ve been trying to determine why this matters so much to me. But a 13 hour road trip has the best way of lending some perspective, so…get ready:

The wedding industry is one that’s largely known for pretty. Professionals, especially event planners, work to create a pretty day – one that’s filled with pretty details in a pretty location with a goal of creating a vendor team to make all of that pretty happen. Of course, each piece will be tied together with a pretty bow that makes the day seem as though it’s perfect.

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Photo by Amanda Young; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

I love pretty details. I’m drawn to each and every one of them (all of the flowers!), and I do believe that each and every piece fits together into a larger wedding day puzzle. But, sometimes the quest for pretty and perfect leaves me feeling flat. Pretty and perfect are great, but they shouldn’t be the only two things that are chased. In fact, perfect shouldn’t be chased at all. Why? Because a wedding day is never perfect. Something will happen. And that’s OK. Because the chances of a wedding day being meaningful are far greater.

“I don’t ever want to just create beautiful things. I want to create beautiful moments. I’m not doing this for the money. It’s to be rich with joy. I used to think my job was full of frivolous things. Now it’s clear my job is indeed full, but full of the unseen and must-be-felts. I’m not building an empire. I’m building a legacy.” – Rhi, Hey Gorgeous Events

I saw Rhi’s post while road tripping home from Charleston, and it’s my favorite note I’ve ever seen about the wedding industry. I often feel like there are so very few people who aren’t chasing perfection. I believe in the must-be-felts, too – moments before a walk down the aisle, groomsmen huddling together to cheer before a ceremony, first dances, family and friends filling the dance floor for the entire night, and all of the pretty details that make a bride smile because it’s how her day was meant to look. Those moments, and the joy I feel when I’m helping a guest, are what make me return again and again to weddings.

Just like Rhi, I also used to question whether this industry is too frivolous. But then I realized over time that what I love and the work I chose to do are meaningful because of the outlook I choose to have. I’m chasing my best work and creating a day that is the best that it can be all while problem solving and rolling with the day as it happens. It won’t be perfect, but it will still be pretty. More importantly, the meaningful moments are what matter and what should be remembered over time. I view weddings as a privilege. It’s a privilege to coordinate the start of someone else’s legacy, to write about someone else’s story, to create a social media plan for a company I believe in with everything I have because each of those elements impacts my own legacy. And I hope it’s one filled with (imperfect) meaning.

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The passage of time is always something that amazes me whether it’s something positive, like a vacation or birthday, or a tragic event, like September 11. The day may seem long in the moment, but time never stops (even when we wish it would…even just for a minute or two).

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September 11 was horrific. I was in 7th grade, and I learned about all of the events one-by-one while in math class. It was all anyone could talk about that day and for many days and weeks after. As tragic as that day was and will forever be, in some ways it’s September 12 that now stands out even more.

Morning came and time marched on as it always will. But for those who tragically passed away, time stopped.

Each victim has missed family birthdays and watching their children grow up. They’ve missed graduations, celebrations in honor of new jobs, and weddings. They’ve missed the little things and the big things that sometimes the rest of us take for granted.

So, just as Joy from Oh Joy! did yesterday, I thought I would share five things that I’m grateful for today:

1. Thanking a Navy serviceman at last night’s 9/11 memorial ceremony in honor of my Grandpa who also served. Thanking servicemen and women is something that always makes me think of my Grandpa, and yesterday would have been his birthday.

2. My trip to Kiawah, seeing my Charleston friends while I was in town, and spending a ton of time on the beach with my family. The beach is my happy place.

3. Serving couples and their families at three weddings this month.

4. The most supportive circle of friends. The ones who make texting fun because they just get you, and the ones who support your every idea over longwinded conversations on the phone.

5. Resilience – both my own and America’s will to never give up. The passion that other’s have is inspiring and makes me realize that I shouldn’t give up on my goals either.

The days may be long, but the years are short. Remember to stop and be grateful as you walk along your path.

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My Nana’s china is my favorite thing she owns. My grandparents are English, and tea is their love language. Plus, my Nana’s china is vintage and from England, which makes it even more a part of her story and mine. With that in mind, I decided to honor her and design a bridal shower shoot primarily inspired by her china.

Welcome, to my version of a vintage tea party shower in my backyard!

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Guests were welcomed with garlands hanging from my backyard fence, and I love the sweet monogramed garland hanging on the bride’s chair. Naturally, I had to pull together a few pieces from my shop. Plus, the monogram you see? It belongs to my photographer, Amanda Young. Surprising her with it was one of my favorite moments from the shoot. :)

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I imagined guests visiting the table first where they would find a teacup with the help of a handmade spoon place card. Because warmer months beckon for cooler drinks, I love the idea of planning an ice tea bar instead of traditional hot tea. Having raspberry, peach, and black ice tea will do the trick! The lunch menu included my Nana’s famous scones, traditional tea sandwiches, and classic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes complete with berries and a DIY rose topper. Amanda and I can both attest to the fact that the cupcakes were SO GOOD. I also hand painted all of the stationery (invitations, menus, and ice tea bar sign) and made sure to include tea cups and flowers to continue to carry my theme throughout each area.

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Finally, I adored each and every one of the floral arrangements I designed. Fifty Flowers graciously sent me flowers (I opted for this box), and I cut peonies the night before from the bushes in my backyard. I filled tea cups, teapots, creamers, milk glass vases, and mason jars with flowers (I had a TON of flowers). I wanted to make each space, from the welcome table and ice tea bar to the table and railing on my deck, feel like a warm area with a dash of pretty where the bride and her guests could catch up.

In addition to honoring my Nana, my goal was to create an approachable design that felt like me but that could also be recreated by a bride’s mom or bridesmaids for a bride’s shower. I’m thrilled that my photo shoot is featured on Every Last Detail, but I’m also offering up my best tips and tricks for planning a shower! Make sure to hop over to ELD and take a peek!

PS: The most memorable moment from this photo shoot? Offering flowers to friends, neighbors, and coworkers to brighten their day. Please never throw away your flowers. Give them away and make someone smile!

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