Why 12-13-14 Was the Best Day Ever

Any guesses? I’ll give you a hint: It was our wedding day … duh!

View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinickyHoly crap. We’re MARRIED! And what’s even crazier is that it has already been over a month since we said “I do.” It’s insane how quickly time flies. I have been dying to write a wedding day recap post since the day after we got hitched, but the past four weeks have been unbelievably busy and I haven’t found the time. So much catching up on life to do! But, now that a month has already gone by, I figured it’s time to bite the bullet and share all about our perfect day.

So, I am declaring the rest of January “#Vinicky121314 Wedding Recap Month” and flooding the Internet with stories and LOTS of photos of our numerical nuptials. You’ve been warned. To kick it off, I’m starting with a detailed recap of our wedding day. However, since I have so much I want to share, I’m breaking down our wedding day into two posts: getting ready/first look/the ceremony and the reception/after party. Here’s part one.

Getting Ready:
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On the morning of December 13, 2014, Jimmy and I woke up in separate rooms at the Andaz Savannah in downtown Savannah, GA and began getting ready for what was sure to be the best day of our lives. I can’t tell you what he was doing that morning, but I can certainly tell you what I was doing: minorly freaking out. Not because I was getting cold feet or nerves were getting the best of me, but because the place cards hadn’t been finished, I hadn’t even started on our wedding programs yet, and my vows were a bunch of jumbled, unorganized thoughts saved in Notes on my iPhone. (Okay, in my defense, I planned the entire wedding – every last detail – on my own, and everything else took priority at the time … and then I ran out of it.)

So, after a restless night (because I was too excited to sleep), I hopped out of bed at 5:45 a.m. and got to work. Two short hours later, my life-saving bridesmaids came to the rescue and helped me out. While I was creating the wedding programs in PhotoShop, Amanda, Whitney and Lauren were finishing the place cards, and Sarah was typing my vows and making us all cry as she read them out loud. Around 11:30 a.m., another life-saver, Meghan, came to the room, took the flash drive with the program file to FedEx/Kinkos, and came back an hour later with our ceremony programs printed and cut. HOLY COW … talk about the start to a wedding morning. All I can say is thank goodness for mimosas, amazing friends, and Sarah’s ability to keep our glasses full.
View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinickyWhile this chaos was taking place, Rachel was starting on makeup and Mrs. Debbie and Heather were starting on hair.
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IMG_1114View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinickyWe all caught our breath, continued getting ready, and the photographers and videographer started doing their thing. And my, oh my, did they do it well. I didn’t even have to give any instructions .. they just did what they love doing and the result was flawless.
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My flower girls finally arrived, I gave them their gifts, and we all helped get them dressed. (P.s. I think it’s safe to say I have the most precious nieces ever!)
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While getting ready, Jimmy and I exchanged gifts. His sister was the messenger, and the photographer captured both of us opening them. I gave him a black and gold watch to go with our wedding colors, along with a pair of personalized collar stays that said “You’re my person” and  “See you at the altar.”
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He gave me a beautiful sparkly bracelet that complimented my dress and other accessories perfectly!
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Once all of us girls were finally ready, it was time for a first look with the bridesmaids. How precious are they?
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Next up: portraits with my gals!
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Everyone looked so spectacular.

First Looks:
Next up, first look with my daddy!

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Are you crying yet? If not, you will when you see these photos of me giving my mom and dad their gifts.
I gave my mom a few goodies, and an embroidered handkerchief that said, Mom, To dry your tears today as you have always dried mine. Thank you for the wedding of my dreams. I love you, Blakeley 12.13.14.
I gave Dad a pair of personalized collar stays that said “I love you, Daddy!” and “Always your little girl.”, a handkerchief that said, Dad, Of all the walks we have taken, this one will forever be my favorite. You’re the first man I have ever loved, and I will forever be your little girl. I love you, Blakeley 12.13.14,” and an appropriate T-shirt.
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I also gave Jimmy’s mom a handkerchief that said, Sue, Thank you for raising the man of my dreams, for your love, support, and for welcoming me into your family. I love you, Blakeley 12.13.14.” She’s a crier, too!
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Now that my eye makeup was smudged from my parents making me cry, it was time for the first look with my almost-hubby! We debated long and hard about seeing each other before the ceremony, but decided to go for it, and I’m glad we did. His sister walked him out with her hands covering his eyes, my bridesmaids peeked out of our hotel room window, and his and my sister secretly watched on the side. We were both so excited to see each other, I think it helped calm us down a little bit, and we were able to get some really great pictures together. Oh, and I cried AGAIN!
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View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinickyWe’ve been together more than five years and have lived together for three. We’ve done a lot together and are each other’s best friends, but there’s just something about seeing the person you love most for the first time on your wedding day. That feeling of love and excitement, knowing you’re about to marry the man of your dreams … I can’t even explain it. It completely took my breath away.

Once we dried each other’s eyes and I wiped the pink lipstick from his face, we were also able to sneak in a few pictures together, too, before the sun went down.
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Shortly after, it was time to head to the ceremony. My girls and I jumped on the trolley and headed to Telfair Square. And guess what … we were a few minutes EARLY! I know, I found it hard to believe, too.
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The Ceremony:
Wedding Programs
Our ceremony took place at 5:30 p.m. in Telfair Square in downtown Savannah, just as the sun was beginning to set, and the weather was absolutely perfect.
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It was so neat driving up to the square and seeing everything set up. I’d pictured it in my head for the past 11 months and worked so hard to create everything, and I was blown away with how beautiful it looked, and how everyone who set up made it look just like I’d imagined. (A huge thank you to those who set up the square!!! You did a fabulous job.)
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We had a hot chocolate bar to keep our guests warm …
View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinicky View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinicky… and my nieces passed out the wedding programs and lavender to toss at the end of the ceremony.
View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinicky 13054 View More: http://finneganphotos.pass.us/vinickyI was excited, anxious, happy, ready, and my mouth was really dry. Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t nervous at all. Just plain happy, and I couldn’t wait to walk down that aisle and marry the love of my life. The trolley pulled up to our drop-off spot, and it was time to make our way down the aisle. I remember everyone gathering around to hide me and fix my dress’ train, and a tour group on a trolley driving by, shouting “Congratulations!” and “You look beautiful!” and snapping pictures.

Then suddenly, I heard my song, everyone stood, and Dad and I started walking down the aisle. I think he was more nervous than me!
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I was waving to people as I walked down and doing just fine, until I made eye contact with Jimmy and saw him choking up. Then my eyes started to leak, too. (Fun fact: Instead of walking to the traditional “Here Comes the Bride,” I walked to the “Portuguese Love Theme” from the movie Love Actually, and surprised Jimmy. That’s his favorite movie and he loves that song, and he knew nothing about it until that very moment. He said it made him start tearing up the second he heard it.)
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In that very moment, everyone seemed to disappear and nothing else in the world mattered. Just us.

Our ceremony was absolutely perfect. Our dear friend and former co-worker of mine who is now a pastor, Michael, officiated our wedding. He did such a wonderful job sharing personal stories of us, and it means the world to me that he was the one to legally solidify our commitment to one another. It was fun hearing him tell personal stories of the two of us, and really meant a lot to hear him say the kind things that he did.
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There were many parts during the ceremony that had us giggling, but one of the funniest parts was right at the beginning when Dad and I made it to the altar. Before Michael even asked, “Who gives this woman away?,” Jimmy was already trying to snatch me from my dad! Dad told him to “Hang on!” and gave me a big ol’ hug, which made Jimmy even more anxious. These pictures that my friend’s mom took are priceless!
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Our fiend Sean sang a song that Jimmy and I have loved for years, “Happy” by NeverShoutNever. He’s just so talented – I had to show him off to our friends and family! (Wonderful job, Sean!)
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Michael read a few beautiful scriptures from the Bible, and my sweet nieces, Hope and Olivia, stood up for additional readings. Hope read “Carrie’s Poem” (from my favorite show, Sex and the City) and Olivia read an excerpt from the book Wild Awake by Hillary T. Smith. They did such a perfect job!
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Jimmy and I decided to write our own vows for our wedding. We wanted to make our wedding completely personal, so doing this only made sense (but it was really hard!). Besides, when else do you really get to say those kinds of things to your special someone? We successfully made each other cry and laugh at the same time. (I’ll share our vows in a later post!)
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We exchanged rings …

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And then the disaster happened. To add to the originality, we decided to create our own unity ceremony. Instead of blending sand or lighting a candle, we thought it would be fun to blend two types of moonshine into one, to symbolize the two of us becoming one.
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We started with homemade peach moonshine (an obvious flavor since I’m from Georgia) and apple moonshine (made with Wisconsin apples – where we vacation with his family every summer), and took turns pouring them into one large jar.
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The plan was to drink a little on the 13th of every month for the first year of our marriage. All was fine and dandy … until Jimmy every-so-slightly touched the wobbly table with his knee and it tipped over, and the jars came crashing down. Before we knew it, glass was all over the ground, peach and apple slices were surrounding our feet, my girls RAN to save my dress, and everyone sat in silence waiting to see how we were going to react.
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That’s when I started laughing … and laughing, and laughing, and laughing. I couldn’t stop!
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Mostly because I’d debated on going through with the moonshine thing up until that morning, AND because Jimmy said he wanted something to go wrong to make our wedding memorable. Well, he definitely got his wish!

A few short minutes later, we shared our first kiss …
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… and were pronounced husband and wife!

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Holy cow! What an amazing feeling. I can’t even begin to explain the rush of love and happiness I felt at that very moment, but I hope it’s something everyone  gets to experience in their life. Pure bliss.

After the ceremony ended, our guests loaded the trolleys and headed to the reception, and we took a few photos with the wedding party …
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… and our families …

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… just the two of us …
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… and even got photo bombed by The Grinch himself!
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Then it was time to load on to the trolley and head to the reception. Party time (post part two)!
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It was the most perfect day of my life, and I wouldn’t change one single thing. The weather was absolutely beautiful, 60 and sunny, and we were surrounded by 240 people we love with all of our hearts. AND WE GOT MARRIED!!!!

A huge thank you to everyone who helped with the ceremony. Whether you were in our bridal party, helped set up, had a part in the ceremony itself, took down the chairs and decor, helped with coordination (Renee!), took pictures or video, or simply came out to witness our marriage, we are eternally grateful to each and every one of you. THANK YOU!

Here’s a full-length video of our ceremony that my step dad recorded on his phone (if you feel like watching!):

So what was our reception like?
To be continued …

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In case you can’t tell, our photographer was PHENOMENAL! Click HERE to see all of the amazing pictures our fabulous photographer, Finnegan Photography, took of our wedding day.
(Note: All other photos were captured by friends and family – Mrs. Monica, Elke and Neil. Thank you all for the beautiful pictures!)

A Brief Reflection on 2014

Wow, what a year! I can’t say much else about 2014 other than the fact that it was amazing, incredible, magical, unbelievable, perfect, and went by way too quickly. It was seriously the best year of my life, and I can’t let it get away without recapping all of the unfathomable things that happened (like getting MARRIED!!).

We’re in our first full week of the new year, and usually by now I would have written about my new year’s resolutions and promises to myself. This year, however, I am going to do something a little different. Instead of a post of new year’s resolutions that I most likely won’t even stick to, I am going to reminisce on what was sure to be the most unforgettable of years.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite memories from each month in 2014:

January 2014
It was our first full month being engaged! What a great way to start the year.
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February
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We got to celebrate our engagement with our friends and family! My parents hosted a fabulous engagement party for us, and Jimmy’s parents even made the trip down from Chicago. (You can read about it here, if you’d like.)
IMG_1928 IMG_1942 IMG_1941While his parents were in town, we thought it would be the perfect time for our parents to get to know one another. His parents had already met my mom and step dad a few times, but my dad and [almost] step mom hadn’t met them until the party. We all enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Cap’s on the Water, and it was just such a great night.
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March 2014

I said “yes” to the dress! I fell in love with the first wedding dress I tried on and just knew I had to have it. Even though I changed my mind about it throughout the next few months and fell in love another, I am so glad I stuck to my original choice. It was perfect. (You can read all about my dress shopping adventure here, if you’d like.)
1898140_10101354634568591_677602473_nWe secured our wedding venues! This was so much fun, and one of my favorite parts about the wedding planning process. (Click here to read about our search for the perfect rehearsal dinner venue.)
IMG_1853Two dear friends of mine and wonderful people, Adam and Lisa, tied the knot on March 29th. They had a beautiful wedding, and we got to spend time with my Jacksonville Landing family!
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April 2014

We took our engagement photos! (You can see all of the photos here.)
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And sent out our Save the Dates!
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My friend Beth got married to her soul mate on April 26th. She was a gorgeous bride, it was a beautiful wedding in Jacksonville, and the two of them are so special to me.
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May 2014

I started at Peak Physiques! I decided to start working with a personal trainer at a nearby gym to get in shape for the wedding, and have never been so happy about a decision. They have completely transformed the way a treat my body, and I am excited to continue working with them this year.
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My mom and step dad threw a Cinco de Mayo party, so we all wore mustaches, sombreros and drank margaritas. Oh, and my step dad drank the worm from the bottle of Mezcal!
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June 2014

My friend Beth (the one who got married in April) had a celebrity-themed costume party, so J and I dressed up as 90’s Justin and Britney. It was so much fun!
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July 2014

The 4th of July is one of Jimmy’s favorite holidays, so we always try to do something fun and all-American. Last year, we spent the morning at the pool, then spent the evening at the Jacksonville Suns baseball game with some of our favorite people and holiday buddies!
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August 2014
Jimmy and I celebrated five years on August 29th! We spent the weekend in Savannah checking items off of our wedding to-do list.
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September 2014
I had the honor of posing as the Real Bride for the latest issue of Bridal Beauty Magazine! I still haven’t seen the issue, but the photo shoot was a lot of fun. (Feel free to read about it and see all of the behind-the-scenes pictures here.)
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We sent out our wedding invitations!
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October 2014
My mom threw us a Jack-and-Jill tailgate wedding shower on the day of the GA/FL game. Everyone wore their team colors, we watched the game, had yummy football food, opened gifts, and took lots of pictures by the photo booth. It was so much fun!
IMG_4989 IMG_4946 IMG_4939 I had not one but TWO bachelorette parties in October! The first one was in Savannah, and I was able to celebrate with all of the girls who couldn’t make it to the destination one. (You can read about it here.)
10700727_10101748954643001_7707547138608880526_oThe next weekend, 12 of my girlfriends joined me in Nashville, TN for the most epic weekend ever. (I haven’t finished that recap post yet, but I did post the pictures from our photo shoot here.)
IMG_5883 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor Halloween, Jimmy and I dressed up as old-school comic book/pop art characters. It was so much fun doing the make up for this!
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November 2014
My bridesmaids Whitney, Brittnee and Heather threw me the most adorable Breakfast at Tiffany’s Bridal Shower! They went all out: decorations, breakfast food, a mimosa bar, accessories and more. So cute and so much fun!
IMG_5145 IMG_5090 IMG_5156Our family holidays and get-togethers are always wonderful, but this past Thanksgiving at my dad’s was just so nice. Perhaps it was because I knew I wouldn’t get to celebrate Christmas with them, but I really enjoyed it and loved having the whole family together.
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December 2014
WE GOT MARRIED!!!!!! 12-13-14 was by far the happiest and most amazing day of my life. I can’t wait to share all the details about that perfect weekend here on the blog! (Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it.)
10835263_829613140414513_9096820856969280938_o10750066_10101852508510221_1204933782788724470_o 10887492_10101885785692481_1275761285701718859_oJimmy and I honeymooned on an eight-day cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. We cruised on Princess Cruiselines, stayed in a beautiful suite with a balcony, and traveled to Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. It was very different but a lot of fun spending Christmas in the Caribbean with just the two of us. We had the time of our lives. (That post is coming soon, too!)
IMG_5706 IMG_5631 IMG_6076 IMG_5793And then, when we got off the ship and decided we weren’t ready to be done yet, we stayed the night in West Palm Beach, where Jimmy caught this lobster from a claw machine! (Then the restaurant cooked it for us to eat.)
IMG_6263Somehow I managed to find time to send out Christmas cards, and they are my favorite ones yet. Only because the timing was so perfect and we will never get to send another like this again!
Christmas Card
We continued our Christmas dinner at Maggiano’s tradition and enjoyed our first date night as husband and wife.
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And then, on the last day of 2014, we celebrated such a phenomenal year with fireworks, champagne, and lots of happiness in downtown Jacksonville.
IMG_6373 IMG_6395 IMG_6396Oh, and I lost 22 pounds and a lot of inches. And I can do push-ups, pull-ups and flip tires!
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See, told you it was a fabulous year :).

2015 will be much different (not planning a wedding and all), but I know it’s going to be another great year. I have several friends getting married, some I know will be expecting their first (or second) child this year, and Jimmy and I will get to enjoy being husband and wife!

So, what can you expect from me this year? Personally, you can expect that I will be doing everything I can to live a better, healthier and happier life. I plan to do that by just being responsible and doing less. Saying “yes” less, spending less, doing less, drinking less, and eating out less. But also by doing more. Making more time for myself, going to the gym more, eating more healthy foods, sleeping more, traveling more, and saving more. Oh, and being the best wife I can be! For my blog, you can expect a lot more posting (including a lot of post-wedding posts. I have a lot to recap and advice to share with future brides!).

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2014 so amazing: my husband (hehe, I like saying that), my friends, my family, my co-workers and my blog readers. I love you all and can’t wait to share 2015 with you.

CHEERS, and happy new year!
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Xo,
Mrs. Vinicky

Get your camera phones ready, wedding people!

If you’re coming to our wedding this weekend, make sure your cell phones are fully charged and you have your charger handy for backup. We’re counting on YOU to capture all of the moments that we don’t get to see, conversations we don’t get to be a part of, your thoughts on everything throughout the day, and all of the important events we partake in!

Many people these days ask their guests not to take photos and use their phones during the festivities. I understand completely, but that’s not the route we are taking. Not only are we encouraging our guests to use our wedding hashtag, #VINICKY121314, but we’re encouraging everyone to take as many photos and videos they want throughout the day and share them with us! (Just as long as you’re not scrolling through Facebook, and you’re actually participating in the fun :).) We put a lot of time, planning, money, thought, and hard work into our big day, and we want as much footage of it as possible! Plus, so many people are coming in from all over the country and we won’t get to spend as much time with them as we’d like, so this will be a way for us to feel like we got more one-on-one time with each person.

So, if you’re coming to the wedding, pull out your phone, go to the app store, and download the “Wedding Mix” app. It’s free and easy to find. When it asks you to find a wedding, type in “VINICKY121314″. Throughout the wedding day, enjoy yourselves and don’t think about being on your phone the entire time, but when the moment seems right, snap a picture or a video! Then, when you’re lying in bed with a slight headache Sunday morning, upload those photos and videos to our wedding in the Wedding Mix app.

In addition to relying on our hired videographer to capture the day, we’re relying on you to help us with a DIY wedding video, baby! No pressure. We’re talking the fun, silly, embarrassing, behind-the-scenes between you and your friends, your table at the reception, those killer (or terrible) moves on the dance floor … those sweet moments of happiness and love … the best man’s hilarious and humiliating speech … my dad’s [probably very long, but very sweet] speech, and so on. You can also view our “requested shot list” in the app. Another cool thing – if you use our hashtag in any of your Instagram pictures during the weekend, they will automatically be pulled into our photo/video library! Pretty neato, huh?

The fine folks at Wedding Mix reached out to me about including them in my wedding, and I just couldn’t refuse. In return, they offered to make me a pre-wedding/bachelorette celebration photo highlight video. Check it out!

I can’t wait to see what they come up with when they have dozens of videos and photos to choose from that our guests take. So, remember to download and then upload. We know you’ll make us proud! :)

WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU THIS WEEKEND FOR THE BEST DAY EVER!!!!!

P.s. If you won’t be celebrating with us in Savannah, feel free to check in on Instagram using #VINICKY121314 over the weekend! (FYI I am @BlakeleyA and Jimmy is @JimmyVinicky.)

Disclaimer: I received a discounted package rate and a complimentary highlight reel in exchange of a blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Get Ready for the Time of Your Life (+ Giveaway)


Enter to win two tickets to Opening Night of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, presented by the FSCJ Artist Series! The North American tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage premieres in Jacksonville from Tuesday, December 9th through Sunday, December 14th for 8 performances only at the Times-Union Center downtown.

Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and Jillian Mueller (Baby) in the North American tour of DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Words cannot even begin to describe how excited I am. Every woman’s favorite movie, favorite cast, favorite soundtrack, favorite storyline, and favorite dance is making its way to Jacksonville for a LIVE performance! I am, of course, talking about Dirty Dancing. And I, ladies (and gentlemen), have two tickets to opening night to give away to one of my fabulous readers. Happy Monday.

Samuel Pergande (Johnny), Jillian Mueller (Baby) and Jenny Winton (Penny) in the North American tour of DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

If you’re one of the sinful few who have not seen this most amazing classic flick (Yes, these people do exist, and my friend Ashley is unfortunate proof. After you enter this contest, head over to her blog and give her hell.), here’s a quick synopsis for you:

Dirty Dancing is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this timeless love story features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart-stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.”

Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and Jillian Mueller (Baby) in the North American tour of DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is on vacation in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents. Mesmerized by the racy dance moves and pounding rhythms she discovers in the resort’s staff quarters, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle, the resort’s sexy dance instructor. Passions ignite and Baby’s life changes forever when she is thrown in to the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady, both on-stage and off.

Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and Jenny Winton (Penny) in the North American tour of DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

I know, you’re covered in goosebumps and your heart is racing with excitement, right? Would it race even faster if I told you that all you have to do to win tickets to the show’s opening night on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville is leave a comment on this post? ‘Tis true!

To enter, leave a comment below telling me your favorite line, song, dance or scene from the classic film. That’s it! I will select one winner at random on Friday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. EST. For an additional entry, Tweet about the giveaway and tell all of your followers how awesome the FSCJ Artist Series and I are. (Sample Tweet: I just entered to win tickets to opening night of Dirty Dancing on ‘s blog, thanks to ! ).

This is my favorite part! Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and the company of the North American tour of DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

I am still so devastated from the loss of Patrick Swayze, so this will be the perfect way to remember him and pretend he is still with us. I mean, how much do these characters look like those from the movie?! It’s uncanny.

Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and Jillian Mueller (Baby) in the North American tour of DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Tickets for Dirty Dancing in Jacksonville start at only $37.50 and can be purchased at HERE, (904) 442-2929, and the FSCJ Artist Series Box Office between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at (904) 442-2947 or groupsales@fscj.edu. Stay updated on show discounts by liking the FSCJ Artist Series’ Facebook page and following them on Twitter.

Dirty Dancing Performance Schedule at Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center:
Tuesday, December 9th at 7:30PM
Wednesday, December 10th at 7:30PM
Thursday, December 11th at 7:30PM
Friday, December 12th at 8PM
Saturday, December 13th at 2PM & 8PM
Sunday, December 14th at 1:30PM & 7PM

If you just can’t wait and need more now, you can go behind-the-scenes of Dirty Dancing with this episode of the Broadway Balances America mini-series during The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television:
http://bit.ly/DirtyDancingBBA

P.s. In all honesty, I asked my FSCJ Artsit Series contact if she could arrange for the cast to teach Jimmy and I THE dance for our first dance at our wedding. (She laughed.) But hey, if anyone knows it and is willing to teach it, I am willing to learn!

Ready for more goosebumps? WATCH THIS!!

Disclaimer: Tickets to the show were provided to me by the FSCJ Artist Series. I am a member of the Artist Series’ Professional Theater Ambassador Program and am compensated with tickets to select shows in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.

Nashville Bachelorette Party Surprise Photo Shoot

Twelve girlfriends and I took on Nashville for my bachelorette party, and it was pretty much the best weekend ever. The girls did SO many amazing things for me and had so many surprises planned (post coming soon!), but I wanted to do something to surprise them as well.

If you know anything about me at all, it’s that you know how much I love pictures. I love to take them, be creative with them, scrapbook them, show them off … anything and everything. They capture memories and create new ones as well. So, for my surprise, I decided that I wanted to hire a photographer to come to the house we rented for a photo shoot! That way it could be something we would all be able to enjoy forever. After days of searching through Google and asking friends for recommendations, I finally discovered Maria Santini Photography, who so graciously agreed to come to town and spend an hour with 13 excited ladies.

We rocked our cowgirl boots for some photos, pink dresses and heels for some, and incorporated a few inside jokes (like the splits) into others. It was such a blast, and I would highly suggest doing this for your next girls getaway or bachelorette party!

Here are some of the amazing moments she captured.
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Color in Motion 5K Giveaway + Exclusive Discount Code

Fresh air, physical activity, fun people and vibrant colors. Could exercise sound any more fun? The Color in Motion 5K is coming to Jacksonville, and I have free entries to give away to two lucky readers (and discount codes!).color run giveaway
If you’ve ever done a color run, you know how much fun they are. If you haven’t, it’s definitely something you need to add to your bucket list. Sure, you’re spending your Saturday morning running 3.1 miles (c’mon, that’s not that bad) instead of sleeping in, but you get to experience something you don’t experience at any other run. That, my friends, is color explosion. As you run through beautiful Nocatee, people who hate running even more than you do will be cheering from the sidelines and throwing bright handfuls of color at you, turning you into a beautiful, colorful chameleon right before their very eyes. You’ll never look so fabulous in your life!
Don’t worry – If you’re not the fastest runner, chances are you will just be the most colorful by the end of the run. And in no way is that a bad thing! Whether you’re a runner or not, this is a great way to get moving, get messy, laugh, and have a fun time. You can walk the whole thing if you want – whatever goes goes at this 5K!
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 So grab your friends, wear white (or tutus, knee-highs, Halloween costumes .. sure, why not?), and sign up for this race! The pictures will be worth every bit of it – I promise.
The Color in Motion 5K is coming to Jacksonville on Saturday, November 8 the Nocatee Community, and the fine folks who organize the run have offered to give two of my readers FREE race entry!
Ready to win? CLICK HERE TO ENTER! Just complete any or all of the simple tasks and you’re entered. I will announce both winners on this post on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. EST. *Note: There is a $3.99 processing fee that we have to paid to the web provider by the winner.
Are your friends ready to sign up, too? My readers get 40% off their entry fee! Just use promo code SWEETTEA at checkout, or click here.
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Good luck, and happy colorfying yourself. I’ll be in Savannah for a wedding shower, so please share your race photos with me … I’m so sad to miss it!
Disclaimer: I received these photos and two free race entries courtesy of Color in Motion 5K. All opinions are my own.

Leapin’ Lizards, Annie is in Town!

Hold onto your curls, ladies and gents, the new U.S. National Tour of the Broadway musical Annie is in town! Now through Sunday, October 26, Annie is live on stage at the Jacksonville Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, presented by the FSCJ Artist Series. And yes, great seats are still available!

I saw the show on Tuesday, opening night, and was completely blown away. The talent that the entire cast posseses, especially all of those little girls,  is unbelievable. I felt just like a kid again watching one of my all-time favorite movies. I was so bummed that I was hoarse and couldn’t sing along to all of my favorites, but I’m sure the folks sitting around me were appreciative.

(l to r) Isabel Wallach as Duffy, Lilly Mae Stewart as Molly, LillyBea Ireland as Tessie, Issie Swickle as Annie, Angelina Carballo as July, Sydney Shuck as Kate and Adia Dant as Pepper in “It’s The Hard Knock Life” Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The show includes all of your favorite songs, including “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” and the one and only, “Tomorrow,” along with a few new tunes.

Issie Swickle as Annie and Sunny as Sandy in “Tomorrow” Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

And, as incredible as everyone was, let’s get one thing straight right now: Lynn Andrews, who plays Miss Hannigan, is uh-mazing. She seriously had me laughing so hard that I had tears running down my face at one point!

Lynn Andrews as Miss Hannigan in “Little Girls” Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Jimmy thoroughly enjoyed the whole play, but his favorite thing about it was Christmas.  Shocker. The play took place around Christmas time in NYC, and the final scene was on Christmas day at Daddy Warbucks’ mansion. Jimmy’s eyes lit up like the sky on the Fourth of July! It was adorable.

The Company in “A New Deal for Christmas” Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Issie Swickle, who plays Annie, is a Florida girl with talents out of this world, and the dog who plays Sandy, Sunny, will melt your heart! Can his/her trainer please come teach my dog how to behave like that?

Issie Swickle as Annie and Company in “We’d Like to Thank You” Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

So if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, with your kids or your significant other, I highly recommend making a date night of it and going to see the show. It will be one of those feel-good nights that everyone needs in their life every now and then, and I promise you the smiles on all of the kids’ faces make it completely worthwhile. (Though you might leave smiling bigger than them!)

Great seats are still available for the remaining performances and shows run through Sunday night. Show days and times are:
Friday, October 24 – 8:00pm
Saturday, October 25 – 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday, October 26 – 1:30pm & 7:00pm

Tickets start at just $37.50 and be purchased by phone at (904) 442-2929 or online HERE.

Better hurry, because tomorrow is only a day away and you don’t want to miss it!

Disclaimer: Tickets to the show were provided to me by the FSCJ Artist Series.  I am a member of the Artist Series’ Professional Theater Ambassador Program and am compensated with tickets to select shows in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.

DIY “Thing” Halloween Costume

DIY
I love Halloween! It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love any excuse to dress up as someone else and get creative, and Halloween is the perfect excuse to do just that. It’s always been a big holiday in my family – my mom and dad always dressed up to the extreme, and my mom always handmade mine and my sister’s costumes each year. The older I got, the more into Halloween and making my own costumes I got. In fact, I honestly don’t remember the last time I purchased a ready-made costume from a store. What fun is that, after all?

Jimmy could really care less about Halloween, but because he loves me soooooo much that he let’s me make the plans and dress him up for this wacky holiday each year without one complaint. Okay, he might complain a little, but he sucks it up and ends up having fun with it :).

Last year, my friend Beth threw a Halloween party and the pressure was on. What to be, what to be? I decided to skip the sexy, skip the scary, and go straight back to our childhood. Jimmy and I would be Dr. Seuss’ Thing 1 and Thing 2. I started our costumes a few days before and had them ready just in time for the party.

Just as a refresher, here’s what the original Thing 1 and Thing 2 look like:

And here’s what we looked like as Thing 1 and Thing 2!
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So, want to make your own Thing costume?
You will need the following:
– Your choice of red shirt
– White scrap material, black paint, a small paintbrush, scissors and fabric glue (if you opt to hand-paint your design like I did) OR iron-on transfer paper and the Thing 1 and/or Thing 2 design
– Blue feather trim
– Your choice of skirt (see below)
– Blue hair chalk
– Accessories of choice (see below)
– A fun attitude!
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Here are seven easy steps to make your own Thing costume:
(P.s. It helps if you have a cute witch dog watching you.)
witch dog
Step 1: Make your shirt.

You can totally buy one, but what fun is that? I wanted a tank top and not a regular T-shirt, so I opted to make my own. I found a cute red tank from Old Navy for $5, and used the back of an old white T-shirt to create the logo on the front. I just eyeballed the design that I found online, but you could definitely print it off and use as a template. With black fabric paint (or a thick black permanent marker), create the Thing “logo” with the corresponding number in the center. Cut and glue to the red shirt using No-Sew fabric glue. If you don’t trust yourself with glue, paint or permanent markers, you can print the design on iron-on transfer paper and iron it on to your red shirt. (Do the same for the guy version, just on a regular T-shirt.)
step 1 - shirt shirt
Step 2: Add feather trim.
Using that same fabric glue, glue blue feather trim to the neckline of your shirt. (I found the feather trim at Michael’s craft store for less than $5.) If you’re a sewer, feel free to sew this bad boy on instead, but the glue held up just fine. (You can omit this part for the guy version. Unless he likes feathers – then totally go for it.)
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Step 3: Buy or make your skirt.
If you’re not a skirt person, you can wear red pants or leggings. I made this blue and red tutu and was super pumped about it, but my cat apparently wanted it more than he wanted me to wear it (he ripped it – evil cat), so I found this red petticoat at a nearby Halloween store at the last-minute (which is why you’ll notice two different skirts in my pictures). But if you don’t feel like making your own tutu, the petticoat is great option! (For the guy version, red sweat pants are perfect!)
step 3 - skirt copy
Step 4: Time for that blue hair you’ve always wanted!
C’mon, you can’t say at one point in your life you didn’t go through a phase when you thought having blue hair would be really cool. Now’s your chance to have at it, baby! I found the perfect blue hair chalk at CVS and streaked away at my locks. (Warning: You may have blue hair for the next two days, especially if you have light hair … for realz). If you’re feeling super crazy, you can use a can of temporary blue hair spray (found in the costume section of most stores), or just buy a blue wig. (For the guy version, follow the same steps.)
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Step 5: Match your makeup.
You know that blue eyeshadow and eyeliner that’s been collecting dust in the back of your makeup drawer? Now’s the time to pull those bad boys out. Pile on the blue shadow all the way up to the brows – don’t be shy – and line your eyes with blue eyeliner on the top, bottom and in the inner corner. Throw on some thick black (or heck, blue!) falsies to really make your eyes pop. (Excuse the shine and lash creases. This picture was taken at the end of the night.) Finish the look with a bold red lip. (For the guy version … makeup is, um, optional?)
step 5 - makeup
Step 6: Accessorize!
This is one of the most important steps, as it can completely make the costume. Get creative here. I used the remainder of the blue feather trim and wrapped it around my wrists, securing it with a safety pin. I also found these great red and white striped knee-high socks that went along nicely. I finished my look with red pumps, blue earrings and a red feather hair clip (also from Michael’s). (For the guy version, you really don’t need too much. We rolled up Jimmy’s sweats so his socks would show, and he just happened to have red and white sneakers that went perfectly.)
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Step 7: Get into character!
What fun is dressing up as two blue-haired things that run around in pajamas if you can’t act like them? In the books, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are mischievous little creatures who are always getting into trouble. Jimmy and I decided to do the same … with Silly String. Poor Sarah might not have loved it as much as we did, but she’s still our friend, so that’s a good sign.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsilly string
And there you have it! Seven simple steps to becoming a Thing for less than $20. I love the fact that A. It’s an inexpensive look to create; B. No one else will have the exact same costume; C. It’s a huge hit with everyone; and D. It literally turns you into a kid for the night. I must say, it might have been the most fun I’ve had dressing up in a while!

Let me know if you end up trying this out! Tag me in Instagram @BlakeleyA so I can see your DIY Thing costume.

Can’t wait to share our costumes for this Halloween with you! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

XoXo, B

Savannah Takeover: Bachelorette Party Round One

Bach Party Collage

I have the best friends. Ever.

Deciding where to go for my bachelorette celebration was easy: Nashville. I’ve always wanted to go there for a girls trip, and everyone seemed to be pretty pumped about the idea of going for my bachelorette party. However, I knew that with limited budgets, few vacation days, kids, and very little free time, it was going to be tough for some of my girls to make it there and I was ready to accept that. But that didn’t mean they didn’t want to have fun.

Two of my bridesmaids, Whitney and Heather, decided to host a local bachelorette party for me, and invited all of the girls who couldn’t make it to Nashville. So, on Saturday, October 11th, 2014, we took over downtown Savannah, GA.

My mom and I decided to make shirts for all of us to wear. Mine said “Future Mrs. Vinicky” and the girls’ said “#Vinicky121314″, our wedding hashtag :).
photo 3(3) IMG_4333 IMG_4326 IMG_4328And Whitney got me this adorable cup to drink from for the day!
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We started the afternoon with a two o’clock Slow Ride through downtown.
bI’d seen these around, but had never have done one before. Basically, it’s a portable bar that is powered by pedaling and takes you on a two-hour pub crawl, stopping at 4-5 local watering holes.
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Thank goodness you can get a to-go drink to sip on the bike, because that thing is a lot of work! I got smart halfway through and sat on the bench on the end that DOESN’T require pedaling (after learning from Lora). (Note to short people: you may not be able to completely reach the pedals, causing you to shift from side to side so that you can, which bruises your rear! You have been warned.) photo 3
Sweat, bruises and tired legs aside, it was a TON of fun and I would highly recommend trying it with a group of friends!
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After the pub crawl and scarfing down a slice of pizza from Vinnie Van Go Go’s, we walked to our hotel, the Marriott SpringHill Suites, to freshen up and get ready for part two.
photo 3(1) 2Whitney made all sorts of fun things, including champagne-soaked Gummy Bears, inappropriately shaped Jello-O shots, cute decorations, and had champagne-a-plenty for us to sip on.
IMG_4340Before getting ready, the girls had another surprise for me: a lingerie shower! I’ve thrown several of these before, but being on the receiving end is much different.
IMG_4362My mom got me a beautiful silk Bride robe …
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… and [most of] the other girls got me beautiful nighties.
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And then there was Melissa’s gift. Leave it to my crazy, hilarious, completely random friend to get me the most incredible gift of all: a leopard-print onesie! She thought it would be “puuuurrrfect for the honeymoon.”
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And what’s a girl to do after receiving so many thoughtful gifts? Pile them all on for a photo shoot, of course!
IMG_4376 IMG_4369After getting a great ab workout in from all of that laughing, we all got ready for dinner and our night on the town. Once all dressed in our sequin attire, it was time for a self-timer photo shoot!
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photo 8OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter about sixty photos, we headed off to dinner at the The Distillery. If you’re looking for a place with a chill atmosphere, fun drinks and delicious food, this is your spot.
photo 2(6)Next, we changed from heels to flats (because no sane girl older than 22 wears heels in downtown Savannah), and headed out for some drinks, music and dancing. We found hanging facial hair in City Market …
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… brown bag PBRs and pickled eggs at The Rail Pub …
photo 5(4)… sequins galore at Gatsby’s …
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… and syringe Jell-O shots at Savannah Smiles.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then they managed to get me on stage with two other bachelorettes.
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The rest of the night consisted of lots of fun, and, imagine this, more pictures! It was such a nice treat getting to catch up with all of my high school and college girlfriends that I don’t get to see nearly enough, and I’m so happy my mom and little sister were able to make it out as well.
photo 3(1)Thank you Whitney and Heather for organizing everything, and thank you Megan, Melissa, Lora, Mom, and my sister Sarah for celebrating such a fabulous day with me. You’re all amazing and I love you to pieces. Can’t wait to do it all again on December 13th!

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Next up: Bachelorette celebration round two – Nashville style!

Time to celebrate one of the best days of the year!

Today, we celebrate America’s favorite beverage. No, not champagne. Not vodka, wine, tequila, beer, or rum either. And definitely not Coke. Today, ladies and gents, we celebrate the one that wakes us up in the morning. The one that warms us from the inside out on those chilly Fall days. The one that we look forward to at 3 p.m. when the work day seems to be crawling by. Have you guessed it yet? I’m talking about coffee, people! “Why?,” you ask. Because today, Monday, September 29, is NATIONAL FREAKIN’ COFFEE DAY my dears! (Did the “Hallelujah” song play for you when you read that, too?)

There are several places celebrating this magical *holiday*, but I, my friends, will be celebrating at Dunkin’ Donuts. Why Dunkin and not somewhere else? Here’s why.
1. Their prices are so much better. Seriously – you can get a large coffee for like $3 instead of $5.
2. They now offer Almond Milk as a milk option. YES! Thank you, DD, for getting with the times before everyone else.
3. They invite me to cool blogger events, so I’m a little partial to them.
4. They’re giving away a FREE medium cup of their new Dark Roast coffee today. Go get yours now! And if you’re at all hungry, keep reading.
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Last week, the fine folks of @DDNEFla invited me to a special #PumpkinatDunkin tasting event. And, even though I am on a hardcore diet and workout plan in preparation for my wedding, I couldn’t say no. I mean, c’mon. Who can say no to PUMPKIN? So I went in determined to only have a small taste of everything, and succeeded.

We were treated to all of the new Fall treats, including the Pumpkin Muffin, Pumpkin Glazed Donut, and Pumpkin Pie Filled Donut.
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To wash it down, we were served tastings of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Creme Brule Latte and Pumpkin Mocha.
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All super tasty! I think my favorite is the regular Pumpkin Spice Latte (with Almond Milk), but they’re all delicious. *Note: The flavors are already slightly sweetened, so try it without adding additional sugar first!

To cool us off, we tried an Iced French Vanilla Latte and an Iced Hazelnut Latte (both available hot as well).
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After loading us up with sweets, they brought out something salty for us to try: the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. Tasty and juicy with just the right amount of kick to it.
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We also got to be the first to taste new menu items before they were released (they’re available now): The Spinach and Artichoke Bagel (pictured) and the Chicken Snack Wrap (not pictured).
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Everything was, as always, extremely delicious and I wish I could have indulged more. If you haven’t visited a Dunkin’ Donuts lately, I highly encourage you to do so on your way home today, or next time you’re out and about. Their coffee is pretty dang tasty, they have several new menu items, and, let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with donuts.

Cheers to you, and MEGA-CHEERS to National Coffee Day!

Disclaimer: I was invited to a tasting event and received samples of everything mentioned above. All photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for having me, Dunkin’!

The everyday happenings of a southern girl living in a big(ger) city.

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