I had a completely different post in mind for today. But then I read Kat’s post yesterday, and I realized I had to echo so many of her thoughts from my perspective. The biggest thing I want you to take away is this: create change; build and be part of a community.

Carly-is-Inspired-Inspire-Change-Community-Wedding-IndustryPhoto via Style Me Pretty; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

One of the most striking things I learned in college and continue to experience is there are far more people who aren’t interested in creating change for the better and being part of a community. Instead, they strongly believe in doing the exact same thing that those before them have done whether it’s right or wrong. I believe in continuing trends when what is happening works in a great way, but if there’s something better – a way that’s more helpful – you should do that instead. Even if it’s just you following that new path, change course and see who follows. Those who matter will believe in the same thing too and may have already changed their course. Go find them. They’re out there.

Kat mentions in her post that she contacted planners in her area to introduce herself as someone new to the field. Some responded, some said rude things, and some said she had to “pay her dues” just like everyone else. From my first internship in college until now, I’ve experience so many of the same experiences as Kat. My biggest takeaway, just like Kat, is this: I don’t believe in simply paying your dues. And the greatest people I’ve met in this industry don’t either.

There are a host of things I’ve experienced that have been terrible. They’re things I never want anyone else to experience even though they may represent time at the bottom of the totem pole. Did I learn things through those experiences? Yes, I learned exactly what I don’t want, which is definitely valuable. But instead of saying that someone else needs to experience the same “bottom of the totem pole” things as me, I say something instead. I want to stop the cycle because, while some people don’t believe there’s another way, I do. Always. Do you need experience? YES. But should that come at the expense of doing something that won’t provide as much potential to learn, grow, and see yourself as someone who has both value and worth? NO. You may feel that another opportunity won’t present itself, but it will. When one door closes, another one opens. But only if you’re hustling to make that other door open.

The greatest way to find another open door is to find a community. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it 5,000 times more, but attending Making Things Happen was the greatest introduction into the importance of community. Since then, I’ve met even more creative people who I love calling my friends. I’m part of a group of amazing ladies (and a few gents!) who are all trying to better their businesses and their lives by sharing what they’re doing and experiencing. Sharing is so much better than staying silent and working away with your head down.

The biggest thing I want to fade away, and that I see fading away in some areas, is the idea of competition. Like Kat mentioned in her post, be genuine and be you. Do YOUR thing in YOUR way. Don’t copy what someone else is already doing because they’re already doing it. At the same time, don’t be afraid to share what you’re doing out of fear that someone else may copy you. Share when you love a vendor, share when you find something that works really well, share when something goes terribly wrong. Basically, learn to love talking and emailing about what works and what doesn’t. When you see someone is frustrated because something isn’t working and you’ve experienced that it doesn’t work either, SAY SOMETHING. There’s something to be said about the importance of trial and error and learning from your mistakes, but there’s also something to be said for skipping a potential error and starting your next trial much earlier.

Kat mentions it, and I believe in the same thing wholeheartedly: we’re all playing for the same team. We all want to succeed whether we’re working in the wedding industry or another (equally awesome) industry. But success is much sweeter when you help someone else along the way, and when you have a community of people cheering you on. Don’t follow the same path that everyone else is following. Change your course, find your community, and bring new people on your journey with you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! :)

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Growing up, I tried just about every sport. The only one that stuck with me is tennis. I’ve played since I was six, and I think I love it more now than I ever did before. I realize the benefits of the workout I’m getting when I play, and I also always have fun on the court. Having fun is definitely the most important part!

Aside from tennis, there aren’t too many workouts that have made it past the first few weeks. I tried yoga and Pilates, but realized that I didn’t like or look forward to either. I had a gym membership, which I technically still have but it’s frozen because I would rather run and walk outside. And I run. That one I really do like and have continued to do. Winner! :)

My best friend raved about Barre, but I was so nervous to try it. So I avoided it. Because avoidance allows you to workout and build strength. Just kidding. I was nervous to go to my first class because I’m really not very coordinated. The word “barre” brought me back to my ballet days, and I was so nervous we would dance across the floor. But I was completely wrong. There’s no dancing. Bless the hearts of the inventors of Barre.

I went to one class, and just like my best friend said, I was hooked. Here’s why Barre is different:

5-Reasons-I-Love-Barre-WorkoutPhoto via Cody; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

1. I make the class convenient: If it’s hard for me to attend, I don’t always want to take the steps to go. So I schedule my class on Mondays because it’s one of two days during the week when I’m in the area where my studio is located. I look forward to the class while I’m teaching tennis, and I don’t want to face the regret of not attending when I literally drive past on my way home.

2. The studio is beautiful: As someone who loves interior design (and design in general!), one of the best ways to make me want to visit is to design an inspiring space. I would move into this studio, or at least take a chandelier with me, if the option ever presented itself.

3. The exercises are simple: When I used to go to Pilates, I always found myself getting confused and frustrated at some point. We spent so much time on our backs that I ended up annoyed and in pain wondering if I was doing the stretches correctly in the first place. Barre is totally different. Part of the class is spent in the center of the floor, part is spent at the barre, part is spent on a mat, and we stretch at the end. I’m never confused (yay!), plus the classes are small and the instructor offer tips if she sees you’re doing something completely wrong. I know I’m working out the entire time.

4. Strength > burning calories: Barre is the bomb for this reason. The classes aren’t about how many reps you can do, how many calories you’re burning, or when you will transform your body. The entire class is centered around building strength at your speed. There’s always a mention of honoring yourself, noting that you’re enough, and encouraging you to keep going. My instructor also openly mentions that her legs or arms are done too toward the end of the class. Misery likes company! I leave knowing that I’ve done enough, but I want to go back each week to work better (not harder).

5. I’m forced to forget and focus: Somewhere between doing pushups at the barre and focusing on balancing on a mat at the end of the class, I’ve forgotten about everything else that happened that day or that will happen that week. I’m too focused on making sure I’m doing each stretch correctly, remembering to breathe, and keeping my posture in check. I can’t think about anything else than the present, and I don’t want to.

I’ve been going to Barre classes for the past month, and I can already tell it’s a workout that will stay with me. Oh, and I offset the cost by only going once per week. I’m hoping as Barre becomes more and more popular, the cost to go will lessen to the point that I can go more each week without ruining my finances. Until then, Mondays are my favorite.

Do you go to Barre? Why do you love it? Sound off in the comments!

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Happy Friday! It’s always a little difficult to kickstart a new week right after such a fun weekend. I celebrated my birthday (and my parents’ anniversary!) with an entire day in NYC, and I finally was able to meet a work friend who I talk to constantly on the phone and through email. I love meeting people in person! This week was filled with copywriting consultations (so excited!), marketing, and playing tennis for the first time in months.

I’m a little too excited about this week’s collection of links. I’m sharing a few snaps from last weekend, an episode of The Lively Show I loved, a video I can’t stop watching, and more! Take a peek…

Staten Island Ferry // New York City:

Carly-is-Inspired-Staten-Island-Ferry-2Carly-is-Inspired-Staten-Island-Ferry-3Carly-is-Inspired-Staten-Island-Ferry-1

A few snaps from my trip to NYC last weekend. My parents and I had originally planned to bike in Central Park, but it was far too cold for that. The next best thing: the Staten Island Ferry. A roundtrip on the ferry takes about an hour, you’ll see some of the city’s best landmarks (One World Trade, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Libery), and it’s free. It’s one of the best hidden gems, but be careful if you plan to take the ferry on a weekday because it’s very popular for commuters. Obviously, heart sunglasses from TomKat Studio are a birthday must. ;)

67 Collection Judit Booties // Anthropologie:

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I am staying very true to my vow to not shop for the month of November except for these booties. I’ve been searching for a pair, and I spotted these at Antropologie on my birthday. Ground rule #1: shopping on my birthday was allowed if I loved the item. LOVE these! I love the detailing on the sides of the boots, there’s a gold zipper in the back, and the heel height is perfect (read: essentially nonexistent). A quick tip: Browse Anthropologie online and then visit your local store. Their shipping is so high ($13+), but if you order in the store you don’t have to pay it. Game on, shipping. Game on. 

The Art of Relaxation & Creativity with Jen Gotch // The Lively Show:

TheLivelyShowJenGotch

I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again: The Lively Show is my favorite thing about Thursdays. I haven’t listened to this week’s episode, but I was so excited to hear Jen Gotch was the guest last week. She talked all about her career path; creativity; selling her business, ban.do; as well as how and why she values relaxation. Ban.do’s branding is so on point – I always know it’s something they created when I see a post on Instagram – so it was awesome to listen to Jen’s story.

Lily Dress Fuchsia // Camilyn Beth:

Camilyn-Beth-Lilly-Dress-Fuchsia

I have several events to attend next year, and I’m already thinking about what to wear. I would much rather invest in a piece I can turn to again and again than purchase something that’s less expensive. Quality over quantity is something I’m valuing much, much more as I think about my goal to continue to shop less. I’m coveting Camilyn Beth’s dresses. I love that they’re feminine, preppy, and in this case…PINK. Aside from the Lily dress, I also love the Madeline dress because it has bow details on the back. All of the dresses, please!

the waiting game // Kate Spade:

This video is everything. I’ve watched it five times since yesterday. Let’s get real. Anna Kendrick is perfect, and the clothes are beautiful. Plus, Christmas. Need I say more?

I’ll be setting up my final wedding of the season tomorrow, and as much as I adore weddings and events, I’m so grateful to have a bit of a break. I hope you have a wonderful Saturday and Sunday!

PS: Monday, we’re talking about Barre thanks to my best friend! Stay tuned.

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Fact: I have three email addresses. One address is strictly for personal use. A few friends and family use it, and it’s the address I always use for shopping. My second address is still personal, but it’s one I look to for all of my business emails. My third address is reserved for my blog. It sounds crazy to have to keep track of three different addresses, but I love my setup. I’m able to keep each area completely separate, plus I’m able to easily search and find emails that I need to reread down the line. It’s one of my favorite ways to stay organized!

Just like I have different emails for different purposes, one of the simplest (and most powerful!) tips I can offer when planning your wedding is to create a dedicated email address.  It can be a variation of your personal email or one that ties both of your names together with a nod to the fact that you’re getting married (i.e.: JenandJoeGetMarried{at}gmail.com). Here are my three tips for managing your wedding email address:

Create-a-Wedding-Email-AddressPhoto via The Glitter Guide; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

1. Create your email early: Just before you contact your first vendor, create your email address. All of your communication will be in one place from the very beginning, so you won’t have to search at all down the line. Feeling uncertain about where an email is filed is one of the worst feelings ever.

2. Use your wedding email for all communication: Whether you’re attending a bridal show, chatting back and forth with one of your vendors, or answering questions from guests, plan to always use your wedding email. Like I mentioned above, you will keep everything in one place, which is particularly important once you start receiving initial and finalized contracts. You can also easily add your address to your wedding website as a way for guests to contact you. Lastly, because your communication is in one place, you will be able to disconnect from planning when you need to.

3. Keep your personal email personal: Having a separate email will help to keep you organized, plus it’s an easy way to create a joint account you and your fiancé can both easily access. However, the core reason to create a wedding address is to keep your personal email personal. Because you will want to receive everything in writing, you will receive more emails than you may realize when you start. Knowing you have too many emails waiting for you to read is the quickest way to avoid it altogether, and it’s also such an overwhelming feeling if you’re simply looking for a work reminder or a note from your best friend. So, don’t give out your personal address…ever (unless you have a surprise planned you don’t want your fiancé to see)!

PS: Don’t create an email address and forget to check it! That would be the opposite of the organized goal. :)

Have you created a wedding email? Do you have any simple tips for staying organized while planning? Leave a comment below!

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Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve debated whether or not to write a post to commemorate it. I’ve decided to press onward with pressing “publish” mainly because I’ve been reflecting so much on growth. And maybe someone else might benefit from my own experiences.

I tend to cry right before (and usually on) my birthday. Sometimes I’m reacting to getting older, sometimes I’m reacting to the unknown, and at some point I cry because of an overflow of joy. I’m also just super emotional. :) I view my birthday as the one day each and every year when I’m special. I stay up until midnight the night before my birthday and am super cheesy in that I say happy birthday to myself…usually by myself. I tend to reflect for a few minutes, and I’m always excited to see what the rest of the day will bring.

Celebrating-Growth-26-Birthday

Last year, I spent the day in New York City (one of my favorite places!), and in the middle of Times Square I became super overwhelmed by the unknown. And started to cry. At lunch. Classic New York moment right there. I became hyper aware of the many questions that I had been wondering – what would happen over the next year; who would I spend the year with; would I still be living in the same city? All of the questions. But the year started to look up when I pressed onward with my day…and won Lady Antebellum tickets hours later.

A year later, I still wonder about many of those questions. And I still love Lady Antebellum. But the questions don’t consume my each and every thought as much as they used to. This year I’ve learned about the power of resilience and believing in my personal mission. I’ve learned how to believe in myself more fiercely – to believe in my worth both personally and professionally. I’ve learned the importance of having a plan, but being willing to leave some of it up to chance and “we’ll see how this goes”. The leaving things up to chance part is really hard for me to do. I’ve learned even more about the joy of taking chances on people, opportunities, and places. And the joy I feel when others take a chance on me. I’ve learned that creating my own opportunities does, in fact, take years sometimes, but when I see things coming to fruition, it’s SO worth it. I’ve learned that part of the reason I struggled with anxiety is so I would one day experience the fearlessness I felt when I finally shared part of my story and helped others at the same time. I’ve learned that one bad day is just that – a day – it’s not a sign that I should give up. I’ve learned that when all else fails, the best idea is to find joy in my family and friends (who are basically family). This year wasn’t perfect, but it was filled with progress. And that’s far better.

25 allowed me to start to find true joy and happiness. And it’s one of my best years yet (maybe even the best!). I’ll likely cry tomorrow, but it won’t be from not knowing about what will happen next. It will be because I’m so grateful to celebrate my day (…in New York City…again) and the journey that I’m on wherever that leads me next. Here’s to 26!

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The Everygirl, which is one of my favorite sites, announced their new #TEG30DayChallenge on Friday – wear your wardrobe for 30 days. I haven’t participated in any of The Everygirl’s 30 Day Challenges yet, but when I saw this one I was immediately interested and on board (with ground rules – see below). The focus of this challenge is to save money and be creative with what I already own. It’s the creativity part that truly won me over because I find myself reaching for the same pieces over and over again. They’re things I love (chambray!), but I also think I’m reaching for the pieces that are easy to style. I want to wear more of what I own because I have to, and I also really want to let go of things I just don’t like at the end of 30 days.

I love layering, plaid, scarves, and denim during the fall (…all of the time), and I’m taking notes from Pinterest on a few new ways to style my favorite pieces:

Stripes-Plaid-Scarf-Fall-Style UnFancy-fall-outfit-ideas-40 Sweater-Chambray-Fall-StylePlaid-Fall-StylePlaid-Scarf-Fall-StylePolka-Dot-Sweater-Gingham-Fall-StyleUnFancy-fall-outfit-ideas-671Carly-is-Inspired-Chambray

Photos: 1. Southern Charm via Bloglovin’ // 2. Un-Fancy // 3. Caroline’s Mode // 4. With Love From Kat // 5. Pearls & Twirls // 6. Pinterest // 7. Un-Fancy // 8. Carly is Inspired (aka: me + one of my go-to styles)

A few of the outfits shown above are Caroline’s. She writes a blog called Un-Fancy, which I talked about here. My ultimate goal is really to determine which outfits and pieces I look forward to wearing the most over the next month and then creating my own version of a capsule wardrobe. That may mean having 37 pieces (the amount in each of Caroline’s seasonal wardrobes), but I have a feeling it will likely mean focusing more on only owning pieces I love (however many that may be). It should be interesting; I’m bound to hit a wall at some point; but I’m excited to see what I choose to do if shopping isn’t an option.

*I have a few ground rules for this challenge. Mainly, there are two days that I’m not counting as “challenge days” – 1.) my birthday because birthdays are international holidays not to be messed with, plus I’ll be in NYC, and  2.) Black Friday because I look forward to this day every.single.year. The reasons for the ground rules: a.) both days are special to me, and b.) I don’t want this to just be a challenge. My goal is to make modified shopping a way of life long after December 1.

Do you want to or are you already participating in this challenge? Let me know in the comments because we can cheer each other on! I’ll be sure to offer an update towards the middle of the month.

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While I was at Bridal Market, I realized how much I’ve grown as a young professional, and I’ve been thinking about the idea of growth ever since. As much as I would love to say I work full-time in the wedding and lifestyle industries – whether it’s writing, marketing through social media, or planning events – I don’t (yet). But it’s because of the network of people I’ve built that I work in the wedding industry much more consistently than I ever did three years ago. And it’s because of this same network that I will be able to work in this industry full-time as long as I continue to connect, work hard, and never give up. Whether you’re trying to build up your roster of contacts or switch industries entirely, here are my top five tips for building your network of go-to industry pros:

How-to-Build-a-NetworkPhoto via: Lace and Locks; Graphic by Carly is Inspired

1. Start a blog: Blogging has reinforced my love of writing (and weddings), and it’s also taught me how utilize social media to my benefit. (Hint: If you mention a company or industry professional in a post, send it to them. Twitter works best!) It’s because of the volume of posts that I’ve written, and the fact that I always include a link to my blog when I connect with someone new, that other industry professionals have noticed me. They can sense the knowledge and passion I have for my industry, but they can also see my writing, marketing, and planning skill set at work before we start talking. If you blog consistently, you’ll come to mind when an industry professional has a need they think you can meet. Long story short: starting a blog is singlehandedly the greatest thing I ever did.

2. Brand yourself on social media: Are my photos perfectly styled on Instagram? No, but I try to make them relevant to the things I’m passionate about. I mention companies if I’m wearing a piece I really love, I try to make the subject clear and bright (Pictapgo! is my go-to app to quickly edit photos before I post them), and I caption photos exactly how I would on my blog to continue to showcase my writing style. I include a link to my blog in my bio, share posts on Twitter, and use hashtags. By having a consistent feed and using hashtags, you’ll slowly start to see your network build. Plus, I always click over to someone else’s profile when they’ve liked a photo. That’s how I’ve found and followed people who truly inspire me. Whether it’s someone who is known or just starting out, don’t be afraid to leave a comment either! Writing back and forth is how someone you admire from afar will get to know you. All of the above is applicable for Twitter and Facebook too! PS: Notice that you’re in the same town? Ask to meet for coffee!

3. Send a note: Sending an email to let someone know I love what they’re doing or going further to say I would love to collaborate with them has led to informational interviews, conference calls, and/or working together consistently. Stopping myself from wondering what the person on the other end will think because I’m sending an out-of-the-blue email has been worth it almost every time. I’ve gained contacts, friends, opportunities, and confidence as a result. By reaching out to one person, they’ll likely point you in the direction of a few more. Over time, you’ll have slowly built up a group of go-to people! PS: If someone suggests that you keep in touch, do it.

4. Attend industry events: Networking online is easier in some ways because you’re able to edit yourself as you go. Talking to people in person is definitely completely different! But if you can up your confidence level to the point where you’re able to talk to one person and then another, it’s truly to your benefit. This group likely has the same interests as you, so you should be able to find common ground. Piece together an outfit that you love, bring business cards, always follow up, and say yes to attending even if no sounds more comfortable. When a friend asked if I wanted to go to a dinner two weeks ago with a number of industry people she knew, I said yes even though it meant commuting back into the city for a three hour meet up and getting home late. Everything about that night was completely worth it particularly because I was able to put a face with a name and talk in person.

5. Go to a workshop or conference: Each week it seems like someone else is jumping on the workshop bandwagon, especially in the creative industry. There are so.many.workshops to choose from. Oftentimes they can be really pricey, but if you’re budget allows, try to attend at least one. Ask other people in your industry if they’ve attended a workshop or conference they’ve loved, follow hashtags on Instagram, and see if anyone you admire is hosting a one or the other. My favorite conferences for creative + wedding industry professionals are Making Things Happen (I attended and LOVED it), Pursue: The Workshop, AH Inspired, Creative at Heart, and Engage!. Most conferences will allow you to meet likeminded people in person and join a private group on Facebook where you can connect and ask questions. The right conference is invaluable.

This post is long, y’all! But I sincerely hope it helps at least one of you to start or continue to build your network. The process is long and never ending, but the people I know and have met mean the world to me. It’s because of them that I’ve grown and will continue to do so. Networking – all of it – is so worth it. If you have your own tips and tricks to add, leave a note in the comments! We can make networking a team effort. :)

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Happy Friday! For the past month, I’ve had something to do every single weekend, so I am overjoyed to have an almost clear slate this weekend. Never underestimate the power of rest. :) With that said, I’m truly looking forward to snapping a few pictures of one of my closest friends from college and her fiancé in a local park filled with the prettiest fall foliage. Engagement photos are fun! I’ll be sure to post a sneak peek on Instagram.

A few of my favorite recent links, purchases, and inspiration:

1. Blush & Ivory Philadelphia Wedding // Junebug Weddings:

Chic-Philadelphia-Wedding-The-Styled-Bride

Photo via Junebug Weddings

I love when friends are featured, and receiving an email saying this chic Philadelphia wedding planned by The Styled Bride was featured on Junebug Weddings made my day. I adore this bride’s style, and I love that she wore her grandmother’s veil paired with two strands of heirloom pearls.

2. The Transport Tote // Madewell:

Kendie-Everyday-Madewell-Transport-Tote

Photo via Kendi Everyday

I. Love. Bags. I cannot wait until my new Transport Tote arrives in the mail. I love its chic simplicity, and I naturally had a small monogram added in gold foil. It’s a bit more of a spurge, but I plan to use this for years and years for meetings, vacations, you name it. Professional and pretty are a win-win.

3. Birthday Gifts for Her Under $50 // Carly is Inspired: 

Birthday-Gifts-for-Her-Under-50

Gift giving is my thing. However, in an effort to find something memorable and affordable, the search for a sweet gift for my closest girlfriends can become daunting and frustrating. Do you ever feel the same way? From jewelry to flowers, I realized there are 10 gifts that I turn to all the time. So, I created a top ten list of gifts under $50! I hope it’s helpful for at least one of you.

4. Bow Cake // Pinterest:

Pink-Gold-Bow-Cake

Photo via Pinterest

Your friends know you really well when they start messaging you perfect pins on Pinterest. I adore this bow cake! It’s pink, gold, and absolutely on brand. It’s a lovely inspiration point for a birthday or shower cake! PS: Are you following me on Pinterest?

5. Out of the Woods // Taylor Swift:

I am a huge fan of Taylor Swift. When I heard she was changing her sound and becoming a pop artist, I was so disappointed (to put it lightly). I love country, and I thought she put such a unique spin on her country sound. Plus, she’s a killer writer (something that can get lost on a pop song). But her pop music? It fits her perfectly, and her writing is still just as awesome. 1989 comes out on Monday, and I’ll be listening to the album on repeat for the next month. Join me?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

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!

Stay tied to Carly is Inspired…

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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!

Stay tied to Carly is Inspired…

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