Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Rent The Runway Review May 12, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I want to tell you guys about a service that I tried out called Rent the Runway.  I’m not being paid to write about them.  I was just so pleased about my experience I had to share!  I heard some chatter about it so I thought I’d check it out.  I started out by looking at their website.  Here is how they describe themselves:

Rent the Runway is a fashion company with a technology soul. Powered by a transformative business model, proprietary technology, a unique reverse-logistics operation and some of the smartest people on earth, we’re in a position to challenge old systems and rewrite new rules. By giving people access to remarkable luxury experiences, we’re changing the meaning of ownership — and revolutionizing retail in the process.

Here is why it was a no brainer for me:

  • Since I’m not paying full price to keep the dress, I can look at options that normally wouldn’t be an option for me
  • I won’t be guilted into wearing a dress to multiple events in order to justify the purchase
  • I can rent two sizes at a time (for no extra cost) so I won’t need to be worried about not trying it on ahead of time
  • Vitual process is less exhausting than physically searching through racks and racks of dresses
  • Can plan ahead or find something last minute

Rather than just telling you why I think it’s a smart move, I thought I’d also share my experience with you.  I went on their website and created an account.  This allowed me to create a ‘shortlist’ (think similar to a Pinterest board) for different occasions.  I was searching for a dress to wear to my friend’s rehearsal dinner so I named it ‘HP Rehearsal.’  You enter in the date of the event and then can search by size, occasion, price, length, color, trend, body type, sleeve, neckline, age, style, and or designer.  I love being able to narrow the search so much.  I started my search by date to be sure not to fall in love with a dress that wasn’t available when I needed it.  I took my time ‘hearting’ dresses for a few weeks before choosing one.  Once I finally made a decision, I was able to choose 2 sizes (for no extra charge) and place the order.   I signed up for the PRO Account which pays for itself if you rent twice in one year.  It costs $29.95 and covers shipping and insurance on all orders for one year.  It also provides a free rental on your birthday.  I placed my order and waited for the special day to arrive!

I had arranged for the dress to arrive a day before my event.  It actually ended up being delivered on the day of the event.  This made me a little nervous which prompted me to call their customer service team and request an extra day of rental and it was granted to me!  When I opened the box I was pleasantly surprised to see a free sample of Aveeno lotion along with the garment bag.  I wasn’t sure what the packaging would entail and thought the bag was a fancy touch!  The first one I tried on fit like a glove and I was very relieved my plan worked out because I was not excited about my backup dress.  Even if it didn’t fit, Rent The Runway has a ‘Fit Guarantee’ where if neither of the dresses sent fit they will try to send you an alternative in time for the event or give you a credit.  I really don’t see how you can lose here?!

rent 1
rent 2

I wore the dress to the rehearsal and since I had earned an extra day with the dress, I ended up wearing it on Easter Sunday too.  Monday I placed the two dresses (no garment bag or hangers) into the pre-labeled UPS envelope provided and threw it in a UPS drop-off bin.  The whole process from ordering to returning was incredibly easy and I will be doing it again this year.  In fact I booked a trip to Vegas for my birthday and I think that would be the perfect occasion to rent for.


Photobooth Backdrop April 8, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:47 am
Tags: , , , ,

This past weekend I stood up as the maid of honor in one of my closest friend’s weddings!  I took the week before to help out with special projects and one of my favorites was a homemade photobooth.  To be fair there was no actual booth, but the other bridesmaids and I created a similar concept for a smaller cost than a traditional booth.  Here are the materials we used to put the backdrop together:photobooth

-Curtain Rod
-2 sets of curtains
-3M Hooks
-Two large pieces of tulle
-2 strands of Christmas lights
-paper pennants
-chalk marker
-safety pins

We researched a bunch of different options to be the backdrop to the photobooth.  There were PVC pipe structures, plywood structures, paper streamers, and a curtain setups.  We ended up choosing the curtain option because we thought it would be the simplest and still look professional.

First we had to measure the space we were allowed to use in the venue.  We decided on 5 feet across and 7 feet tall.  We were very lucky that they had no problem with us using 3M hooks on the wall.  We used three heavy duty hooks that were rated to hold 5 lbs each (two on each end and one in the middle). Definitely don’t want the whole thing falling on someone’s head!  We placed the curtains on the rod and hung the whole thing up on the hooks.  We started hanging the lights vertically up and down the curtain and used safety pins at the top to secure the wire in place.  I will note that this was the most time consuming part of the project.  Also because our Christmas lights were a green wire and we had a cream background we ended up flipping the whole thing around so the lights were behind the curtain.  If you had white wire it might have been okay to sandwich the lights between the curtain and tulle instead of at the back.  We draped the tulle over the top of the rod and arranged it at the floor in a bunch.  I was unsure if the tulle would be necessary, but in the end I think it made the look a little softer.  The last thing we added were the paper pennants.  I found these at Michaels and they look like a chalkboard although they are just paper.  We had purchased a chalk marker for the wooden sign you see pictured above and it was perfect for this.  I tried my best to design some chalkboard letters and wrote out their names and the year ahead of time.  When we were putting the photobooth together we used twine to string the pennants into two different strands and tied them to the ends of the curtain rods.  Then we stood back and hoped the lights would show up when it was dark.

We were lucky to be able to leave the booth set up in the space so we actually put it together at the rehearsal dinner and left it up for the wedding the next day.  When we were able to get into the room, we plugged in the lights and it looked amazing!  I could not get over how professional it looked.  The other bridesmaids had worked on procuring and crafting props for everyone to use for pictures.  Since the bride is American and the groom English, they had a lot of fun coming up with funny props to fit those themes.  Cowboy hats and crowns, flags and tea cups.  The list goes on and I think everyone had a ton of fun with all the choices available.  I was very glad the bride and groom asked for our help and we could create the vision they had for their big day!

photobooth 2backdrop


Wedding Recap: The Reception April 16, 2014

Technically I probably could have included our reception in the vendor category, but since it is such a large part of the big day, I saved the best for last. When Matt and I first started looking at reception venues we knew we didn’t want a banquet hall. That helped to narrow down the list. The next requirement was that it be a reflection of us, something that involved the outdoors or rustic elements. So we looked at Cantigny, Brookfield Zoo, The Narnia Estate, Danada House and Two Brothers Roundhouse.

Going into the search I was very leary of Two Brothers Roundhouse because their website does not do due justice to the actual facility. I had to leave my judgement behind, which was a good thing because we were completely blown away by the Roundhouse. Their consistent, friendly staff held our hands through the entire process; from the initial meeting to follow up questions to setting up the tasting and then doing our final walk-through and drop off of everything for our reception. We trusted our vision of northwoods done classy with our colors of navy, yellow, white and silver to their banquet team and our big day, did not disappoint.

Greeting our guests was a ridiculously large image of Matt and I from our engagement shoot – our version of American Gothic, “Northwoods Style”.


Before entering the ballroom our guests were able to view our guest book (created by the very talented Christopher Cannon) and pick up their table card on birch tree branches from a tree cut down by Matt and I in the northwoods of Wisconsin. (Catching on to our theme?)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also in the room we had a spots for guests to complete the guest book, drop of cards/gifts and another table to honor family members who have passed on. Everything was arranged perfectly by the Roundhouse staff.

And for the most important table, the cake! Two Brothers partners with the Cakery in Aurora for all of their wedding cakes. We wanted a simple rustic looking cake that would easily be adorned with some of our flowers to tie in everything. Not only did the cake look beautiful but it tasted amazing! One fun surprise I had in store for Matt on our big day was a groomsmen cake. Working with the Cakery I ordered a lemon cake proudly displaying the University of Michigan.






Now on to the decor. I purchased tulle and lights from Restoration Hardware to dress up the four posts around the dance floor. Thankfully the Roundhouse staff put everything up for us! One splurge was to have silver chiavari chairs. I love how the chairs instantly classed up the room!


Matt made the centerpieces from that same tree we chopped down at my family’s lake house in Wisconsin. That tree also provided us with large branches for the head table which we interspersed with candle holders, provided by my matron of honor, to add some warmth and a different look.I picked up a few larger vases for the girls and myself to use at the head table to show off our flowers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the tables for guests, we left a few notes. One was explaining that instead of favors, a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association as well as the American Cancer Society was made in their honor. Each table also had a note about no glass clinking. Instead, our guests had to perform certain tasks such as singing the National Anthem, start a conga line, share some marriage advice or have the table sing a love song. We wanted to make it a little more challenging/interactive for our guests to make us kiss – and it was worth it! Especially when the head table started singing the National Anthem and got the rest of all the tables to stand and sing along. Moments like those are priceless.


Matt and I had a vision of what the banquet room would look like, but Two Brothers Roundhouse took it to the moon and beyond. Everything turned out better than I had expected.



Wedding Recap: Vendors April 9, 2014

Time to talk wedding vendors. Close friends and the world wide web helped to not only find our wedding vendors, but ensure they were awesome like rock star awesome. Let’s start with close friends, one of which who happens to be a talented photographer.

My engagement photos AND wedding photos are amazing because of Tasha from Redwall Photography. It’s nice to be able to brag that she and her wonderful husband are also close friends. As soon as we got engaged there was no question in our mind who would do our photos, and come to think of it, she was the first vendor we booked. They were an immense help and recommended additional vendors who they had worked with in the past. The hardest part was making sure they were guests at some point and time during our wedding reception! Oh, and did I mention our pictures are breathtaking? Narrowing down to selecting only a few images for our wedding album was not an easy task. Check out a few images in the slideshow below and you’ll see what I mean.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We found our florist, Livvy’s Lilies, on The Knot.After reading reviews there and on Yelp, we set up a meeting. We immediately fell in love with the shop owner, Sheila. She brought so many unique ideas about our flowers spawning from our vision that we had never even entertained. One example was each bridesmade would carry one flower and their groomsmen boutonniere would match. Plus my bouquet would then be a combination of everyones flowers.  Our immediate good rapport set the tone for an amazing vendor relationship. Since we were making our centerpiecesourselves, we had a very specific look we wanted to achieve and Sheila was more than accommodating. We worked on sending her different prototypes and went back and forth on flowers. Everything came together so perfectly, especially in our venue, that I was almost overwhelmed.

Matt was in charge of finding the limo service and DJ. Our good friends Deanna and Ross got married about five months before us and were another great resource for us. They recommended using Absolute Dream Limo Service. With a wedding party of 14 we wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable and would still be in budget. Absolute Dream fit the bill. They were prompt all day and ensured our safe travel around the western suburbs.

Once again going off of Tasha and Aaron’s recommendation we met with Thomas from Essence Entertainment for our DJ. We had a great first meeting and quickly thereafter decided to book with them. Their package was definitely within our budget and they did a great job keeping people moving and grooving all night. Their online music manager was easy to use to select our do not play list and our must have list. Essence also helped us organize our day by calling out special attention to the flow of our reception, when we wanted to do the cake cutting, who was giving speeches and what not. It was great to have their expertise and ear to bend when planning our reception.

Thanks to close friends and the internet we were able to select wonderful vendors that made our day extra special thanks to their close attention to detail and their passion for doing a job they truly love.


Wedding Recap: Paper Projects! April 2, 2014

Our print materials for our wedding definitely evolved from the save the date to our invitations and programs. Our first print project together was our save the date cards. Getting engaged in the fall, we thought about waiting until Christmas to send out our save the date announcement. That way we could say Merry Christmas and save the date with one stamp!  We found a template on Shutterfly, plugged in our favorite engagement photos and lingo for a relatively inexpensive option. Especially due to all the coupons Shutterfly sends out.

The next print project was the invitations. Thankfully my matron of honor was a great resource. She had made all of her wedding invitations by hand and was a great inspiration to me and a creative soundboard. She sent me links to a few places to begin my paper hunt. First stop was PaperandMore, where I ordered countless samples of inserts, envelopes and invitations in a variety of colors including cream, white, gray, silver, and navy. My biggest recommendation is to order the samples because you can’t tell texture or true color on a monitor. After rounds of debating here is what we ordered:

For fun finishing touches on the invitations we utilized Cards and Pockets and Etsy. We had seen some cute uses of bellybands and stickers for closing the pocketfold invitation. But Matt and I wanted something different. Low and behold we found our favorite option at Cards and Pockets a monogram wax seal. I was extremely happy with what we purchased and I plan on using in the future. Who doesn’t like a wax seal?

Cards and Pockets

My matron of honor said the best time saver was the personalized address stamp. This way you don’t have to pay for a calligrapher or have your hand cramp doing all of the writing. Simply stamp away!


For the inserts, we bought white card stock from Staples and cut everything to size with a handy paper cutter. And yes, we printed everything at home. In college I took a few graphic design classes and thankfully have InDesign, so Matt and I were able to customize our look and create consistent elements (fonts, colors) that we used in various elements throughout the wedding. (More examples to come in the post about the reception!)

Here’s the final product!


Our wedding programs were another successful homemade print project. One of my friends did a similar layered program that I fell in love with. So I borrowed her idea :). To get the project started, I found yellow cardstock and thin navy ribbon at JoAnn Fabric. We used regular white printing paper for the inserts. We wrote the content and created the design with InDesign, all similar to our invitations. (Can you tell I work in Marketing – unified fonts, colors and elements please, it’s all about branding!)


If you’re down for a few paper cuts and have the time, consider make a few things for your wedding. Not only will you save a buck or two, but you’ll also appreciate what you make even more on your special day.

All in all, we spent just a little over $260 for everything for our invitations, including stamps. For the programs, thanks to gift cards, I think I ended up spending $5 out of pocket.  I’m so glad we decided to make a lot of our own items for the wedding. And the bulk of it got done thanks to our friends and family. We’re blessed with some crafty folks in our lives and if you didn’t like pizza, I think our fingers would have been in a lot worse shape!




Wedding Recap: Attire March 26, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:44 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Almost six months ago I answered a pretty big question with the phrase “I do”. Many readers followed along with a few wedding project updates but I didn’t want to spoil every bit of the big day. Well now I figured I can definitely blog about it! Over the next month I’ll be posting about different facets from our wedding. From the colors to attire, to the vendors, our print materials, gifts and of course the decor!

To give a little background our wedding color theme was yellow, navy blue, gray, and white. How did we tie everything together with the attire? It was actually very simple. Let’s start with the guys. They wore rented light gray Calvin Klein suits with white shirts from the Men’s Wearhouse. I think they turned out rather dapper.


Matt wore a special pair of suspenders he found online that where navy and maze in honor of his favorite collegiate team. In honor of his favorite team, I also gave him a pair of Michigan dress socks to avoid any cold feet.


Wanting to recognize our grandparents, Matt wore one cufflink that was my Opa’s and one from his grandfather.


Also, as part of our thank you for being part of our big day we gave the guys navy blue suspenders (Sears’s), lego cufflinks (Etsy) and skinny navy ties (Dessy).


I purchased the ties from the same place we ordered the bridesmaid and flower girl’s dresses so everything would come from the same dye lot. Which is a perfect segway to the ladies.

We found the bridesmaid dress in one day and we actually found it at the same place where I purchased my dress.Thanks to my savvy matron of honor, we called around though to find who carried the dress at the best price. It’s amazing that there was a $40 difference between 8 stores! The dress is part of the Dessy collection and I fell in love with the fabric, color and overall cut of the dress. It was sophisticated with a twist of fun in the back. Did I mention everyone looked great in it too? The girls wore silver shoes and silver accessories. I did help with some jewelry though. My girls received simple earrings featuring white sapphires and a yellow diamond.


As for me, I found my dress at Bella Bianca with my mom, mother-in-law and matron of honor. It’s from the Lazaro collection and is a beautiful satin ball gown with a sweetheart neckline, encrusted band of Swarovski crystals at the natural waist and has pockets! The pockets were my favorite feature of the dress followed by the high twirl ability factor.


To help a good cause and stay comfy all night I wore a pair of ivory grosgrain women’s shoes from TOMS.


Jewelry was gift from one of my bridesmaids since she is a talented jeweler. (She even set my engagement ring AND created my wedding ring!). For my big day she made an absolutely stunning pair of blue sapphires with white diamond accented earrings and a matching necklace.


Wanting even more bling, I purchased a crystal broch conterted to a hair comb on Etsy.mattkarlawed044

As a fun accessory we also gave everyone wayfarer sunglasses. Don’t we look like a sharp group? Huge thanks to our amazing photographer, Tasha from Redwall Photo for capturing gorgeous detail shots throughout our day!



A Different Kind of NYE December 31, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 2:29 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

This time last year I was running around with Karla cooking, cleaning, decorating, and getting ready for our last NYE party.  It feels very strange to not be doing that this year.   New Years Eve has always given me anxiety because there is so much pressure to have an epic time.  That is actually why Karla and I would always hold it at our place.  We could still dress up, eat great food, be with our friends, save money, and never worry about what our plans would be.  Now that we no longer live in that apartment I worried what would everyone do this year.  But there was no need!  This year we have a wedding to attend for two of our dearest friends Hollice and Kevin.  I can’t think of a better way to break our normal traditions than celebrating their marriage and partying it up with our closest friends.  I have to say we were all very excited when we found out the date was NYE. We can put off making crazy plans for another year, and let Hollice and Kevin do all the work for us. 🙂

Well I have to start getting ready and get on the road, have you noticed it’s snowing outside?  Hopefully I’ll add a picture later tonight.  Next week I’ll post my look back on my aspirations for 2013 and share my list for 2014.  Anyone who knows me also knows that I love even numbers.  No offense 2013, but you are an awful number and I can’t wait to ring in the new lovely 2014!




%d bloggers like this: