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Weddings at The Mansion

Nicki Ann's Wedding Blog

In her blog, Nikki Ann shares with you her insights, thoughts, and feelings on all things women, wedding, marriage, and event-related.

Buff Bride

June 30th, 2011

When the wedding day is approaching quickly and you are scrambling around trying to lock-down vendors, pricing and details, the last thing you are probably thinking about is fitness and diet. I got together with Emily Waters, a NASM certified personal trainer in the DC area and asked her a few questions. Hopefully, her motivating responses help get you up off your butts and moving around!!

NAE: How did you get your start as a personal trainer?

EW: I joined a new gym about 3 years ago and with my membership I got a free personal trainers session. I always had this vision that personal trainers were only for rich and famous people who had the money to pay for it. During my first session I LOVED it. I’ve always enjoyed working out and I’ve been playing a bunch of different sports since I was very young so this wasn’t a surprise to me. I felt so good after my session that I decided to do something for myself and buy a package. It wasn’t cheap and I was hesitant to spend the money on it at first, but it was so worth it in the end. Not only did I lose 12 pounds in the first 2 months (my goal wasn’t really to lose a lot of weight, I really just did it because it was fun to me) but I toned up a lot more and I realized that I was a lot more passionate about fitness than I realized. As I continued to meet with my trainer I realized that I was capable of doing everything he was doing. So I started looking into getting my personal trainers certification. I bought the materials, studied on my free time, took the test and passed. After that it all started with a friend of mine who knew someone who was too intimidated by the trainers in her gym and wanted someone to come to her apartment complex gym to train her. It’s now been about 3 years and I have 7 clients that I train 4 days a week, after my full-time job, in my apartment complex gym. I LOVE IT.

NAE: What is your favorite part about being a personal trainer?

EW: I have two favorite things. First, I love seeing my clients accomplish new goals. When they are able to do a workout that they could barely do when we first started, or when they sign up for a race (I recently had a client start running and has since ran a half marathon and done a few sprint triathlons) and get so excited to tell me how well they did, it’s an amazing feeling. Not only is it a sense of accomplishment for them, but I can see a change in my clients attitude when they meet their goals. Every one of my clients is happier and more excited now that they are more in shape and able to do things they couldn’t before, or wear things that they never fit into before. My first client ever doesn’t meet with me anymore but she’s since gone on to be as much of a fitness fanatic as me and she still sends me pictures when she buys a new cute outfit and is so proud to be able to look good in it. I’ve been fortunate to have most of my clients change their way of life and actually make working out a priority for them, even without my help. It makes me feel like I impacted their lives in a positive way.

My second favorite thing is being able to put my clients through difficult workouts to test them and show them how far you can really push yourselves. A lot of people do not push themselves nearly as far as they should/could. Sometimes my clients will call it torture (while it’s happening) but afterwards I always ask them how they feel and 9 times out of 10 I hear, “I’m exhausted but I feel so good!” I love to hear, “I hate you” during the workout because it means I’m doing my job and not one of them has ever stayed mad at me:)

NAE: I wake up pretty early in the morning to get to work. What is a good 10-15 minute workout that I can squeeze in before heading to work to help wake me up and get me moving for the day?

EW: This is tricky because it’s difficult for me to give a good workout without demonstration. I will say though, that it’s always better to do a quick 15 minute workout then no workout at all. In fact, an intense 15 minute workout to start the day can sometimes be enough. Note…“sometimes” is key here. It really depends on how “in or out” of shape you are and what your goals are. If you are trying to lose weight, while 15 minutes is always better than no workout at all, it might not be enough to reach your weight loss goal. If you were to do a quick 15 minute workout I would highly recommend that it not only be intense, but that you attempt to work your entire body. After all, it’s only 15 minutes and you want to get the most out of the little amount of time that you have. A very effective way to burn calories and keep things interesting is to do circuit training. Select 2-3 leg exercises (lunges, squats), 2-3 upper body exercises (push-ups, dips), and 2-3 ab exercises (it’s much easier to look these up than to have me say a name without an explanation…trust me, there are a ton out there). You can find a ton of exercises online if you simply type in “ab exercises” or “leg exercises”. They will likely have demonstrations online. Once you select the ones you want to do simply rotate through them quickly, only taking a break after you’ve done each exercise. For example: 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 ab exercise, 10 lunges, 10 dips, etc. Doing them back to back, without breaks, will get your heart rate up and create a cardio workout session in addition to strength training, which are both key to losing weight and staying in shape. Cycle through all the exercises a total of 3 times. It will be quick, intense (Push yourself! Don’t be a slacker!), and will give you a total body workout. Mix it up to keep things interesting and invest in dumbbells and other exercise equipment to add variety and work different muscles.

NAE: What is the best workout to squeeze into your lunch break?

EW: Depending on what your job is, it might be difficult to do any sort of strength training or cardio because you might have to be dressed professional. I recommend leaving a pair of sneakers in the office and taking a brisk walk everyday during your lunch break. Recently I started a mid-day tradition in my office called “stairs.” At 1pm, whenever everyone is done with lunch and hitting that wall where they just want to take a nap and not go back to work, we all (the people willing to cooperate with me:)) go out in the hall and since our office is on the 8th floor of a 12 story office building, we talk down the stairs to the bottom. When we get to the bottom we walk all the way back to the top, catch our breath and come back down to the 8th floor. It takes a total of about 10 minutes and really gets your heart racing but isn’t long enough to make people sweat or take up too much of your time. I can’t say that there is a “best” workout for your lunch break, but I can say that anything you do to get up and get moving is much better than sitting around all day. Just make sure that a walk to the vending machine or across the street to McDonald’s isn’t your “activity” for the day :)

NAE: Since wedding gowns usually cover most of your body, with the exception of upper back and arms, what do you suggest as a workout for these areas?

EW: Again, this is tricky, without demonstrations, but if you Google “upper back exercises” you will find a ton of options. Push-ups, lat pull-down (need a machine in the gym), shoulder press (machine), bicep curls (can use dumbbells, bands/tubing, or a machine), or dips are all good. I would also recommend asking someone in your local gym to show you a few upper body exercises. Most will be very willing to help. Or take the time to look at the little picture/instructions on the exercise equipment. Almost all machines show which muscles it works and how to perform the exercise. I would give more suggestions but I know a lot of stuff just by memory (some things I have my own names for) and I’m not as good as Fitness or Shape at explaining workouts step by step. If you are serious about getting in shape though and determined to look your best on your wedding day, there are a TON of resources out there and it won’t even require much research. Even if you Google, “wedding, exercises” you will see a ton of information to help you get in shape for your big day.

NAE: What is the most common misconception about getting fit?

EW: I would say that there are two. First, that it’s too difficult to try or that you have to be very drastic/severe with your diet and exercises choices. Yes, you do have to be very conscious of what you eat and you cannot eat poorly and expect to see the same results, but you do not have to live off of carrots and lettuce either. You can splurge every once in a while and have a cookie or a dessert. The key is to just watch your portion size and to not make a habit of it. If you deprive yourself completely, you will end up over-indulging. What you hear/read in all the magazines/TV shows/etc. is true. Don’t think that it won’t happen for you or “but I can’t do this because…” or “but I’m different because…” It’s not true. Everyone can lose weight and/or stay fit. You have to be willing to make the change first, and then willing to stick with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up one night and over-indulge with pizza. Start over with your next meal and eat healthy. If you make yourself/let yourself feel guilty all it is going to do is ruin your attitude and you won’t be able to stay focused. Be willing to put in the time and effort (because it won’t be super easy) but don’t look at it as an impossible challenge. Set little goals for yourself and work toward one thing at a time.

The second misconception is that “I don’t have enough time” to workout. If you were to give me your schedule for the entire week I guarantee I could call you out on it and find time for you to workout.. The truth is, most people don’t make working out a priority and therefore they don’t have time. You have to be willing to possibly give up a TV show or an hour wasted on Facebook (you know you do it). You might have to go to bed a little earlier so you can get up earlier and workout. You might not be able to go to every happy hour after work because sometimes you have to choose going to the gym instead. I workout 6 days a week. Every day after work I go to the gym for an hour. This is part of my day. If someone asks me to do something between the hours of 4 and 5pm any day of the week I say that I am unavailable. That is my workout time. It’s a priority. It’s something I “have” to do. If something does come up and I have to miss a workout, I will make sure that I then workout on my normal “day off.” It’s about committing to your health. No you don’t need to workout 6 days a week and if you miss a workout, it’s not the end of the world, I’m just trying to show you how making it a priority will force you to make time for it. Also, like I said before, it doesn’t have to be an hour either; you can very easily fit in an intense 15 minute workout and see results.

NAE: How far in advance should you start working out to look stunning on your wedding day?

EW: ASAP. It really depends on how much change you want to see in your body and how much time/effort you are willing to put into it. Obviously, the sooner you start the better chance you have of losing more weight and/or toning up for your big day. If you get engaged and plan your wedding for 3-5 months away, you won’t have as long, but it doesn’t mean you can’t increase the time/effort you put into it and still see results. I feel that everyone should be concerned about the health all the time, and not just concerned with looking good for their big day, BUT I completely understand wanting to feel/look your best and I encourage every bride to be to use this time to motivate themselves to get into shape. I would like to see all new brides keep up their exercise routines and use it as a new way of life. So I say ASAP because not only will you be happy with the results you see but when people get into better shape, it almost always leads to more positive things in other areas of their life. The happier you are with yourself, the happier you’ll come across to other people and it just becomes a positive experience for everyone involved. It’s a win/win! You always read stories about people who lost weight and it changed their life. It’s true, it really does happen! Even if you are just looking to tone up a little, you’ll feel better about the way you look and I would be willing to bet that you notice positive changes in your self-esteem and outlook on everything.

NAE: Pump me up: Any other tips for brides looking to get fit??

EW: Don’t let getting in shape and losing weight ruin the fun and excitement of the fact that you’re GETTING MARRIED! It’s such a happy time and so much fun to plan everything and share your happiness with all your friends and family. Go into it with a positive attitude and if you really are looking to get into shape but you know you have a way to go, find a buddy or someone who will encourage you and support you. You need a positive person who is going to encourage you when you aren’t in the mood to work out or when you’ve dropped a few pounds but then you hit that plateau and you get discouraged. Whether it is your fiancé, your maid of honor, or your mom, ask someone to be your fitness buddy. That person doesn’t always have to work out with you, although that would be a bonus, but they have to be willing to support your efforts to get fit. Tell them to suggest going for a walk the next time you want to hang out, rather than meeting up for drinks or ice cream. Call them when you are feeling lazy and tell them that you want them to motivate you to get to the gym or to get out the workout DVD and just do it. Losing weight and getting in shape is as much of a mental thing as it is physical. You can’t get your body to where you want to be physically if your mind isn’t where it should be mentally.

Also, if it helps, print out pictures of your wedding dress or even your honeymoon destination (where you might be wearing a bathing suit…) and put them up on your fridge, in the cabinet where you normally look for snacks, in your closet near your workout clothes, or on your desk so you see it when you’re wasting time on the internet. Any little thing to remind of your goals and what you need to do to achieve them will help!

Ok, where’s the treadmill?! Seriously, she just makes me want to get out there and burn some calories!

If you have other questions for Emily or are in the DC area and looking for someone to kick your butt, you can contact her at


Friday Finds 6.24.11

June 24th, 2011

If you have been reading for a while, you have probably figured out by this point that I love shoes. I especially love the idea of colored wedding shoes. I think it allows the bride that one place to really showcase her personality. I am also in love with Kate Spade.

For those of you who might not remember my shoe ordeal, you can check it out here. I am not sure if I ever updated you, but I did NOT get the shoes. Thanks to my credit card company, I did get my money back. Anyway, after all that, I ended up with a pretty spectacular pair of Kate Spade shoes.

And of course, I go back to the site to browse, aka daydream, about the other shoes frequently. I came across these shoes and just love them!

Oh la la! They do come in silver and gold as well, but these really pop. And wouldn’t they be perfect for a night out on the town with your hubby (or b-maids!) after the wedding?!


Friday Finds 6.17.11

June 17th, 2011

Again, I was scouring the blogs I follow and came across this and have to share it! It comes from Green Orchid Events in Las Vegas. Hmm… maybe I’ll get to meet them when I am there in September for the conference… any who…

I just had to share this when I saw it because I have a few bridesmaids dresses in my closet. I am sure there are a number of you out there who have a few as well. NewlyMaid is a company that recycles or donates your old bridesmaid, mother of the bride/groom, or even prom dresses and in return you receive a credit toward one of their LBDs (little black dress). Your dress is then either donated or recycled. I was a little confused on how one would recycle a dress, but you can read all about it here. The best part is that you can even recycle the LBD you get from NewlyMaid! So when you tire of that style, you can choose a new one!

So when brides say, “I wanted to pick something that you could wear again,” you can honestly tell them that the dress went to good use and a few alterations made it wearable again!


The Details: Carnival Inspired Shoot

June 16th, 2011

So you’ve seen the photos. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss details and where the ideas for each came from. Jen McKen did such an awesome job of capturing all the details. This wedding is clearly for a fun-loving couple who wants everyone to be reminded of the carefree times of childhood. What better to remind guests of that than a carnival?

I am personally a big fan of the sweetheart table. I think it is so sweet for the bride and groom to have a moment where they can chat alone. There aren’t many moments like that during a wedding day. Small votive holders wrapped in rope brought in a touch of rustic vintage from the Big Top.

When I approached Paulette from Urban Gypsy to do a few arrangements for us for the shoot, I knew I was in for something good. Let me just say that I was beyond impressed with what she designed. The colors were so vibrant and suiting of the fun-natured theme. And the old carnival glass vases and multi-colored ribbons she used were phenomenal! This just goes to show that you do not need to be matchy-matchy with your floral designs. If anywhere, this is where you can get away with using lots of color to really make a statement.

The key to having an elegant, yet fun theme is to add in key elements, but not overload them. The elephant pieces were a small touch we added in a nod to Water for Elephants. Don’t forget the ticket favors so the guests can enjoy a ride on the carousel after dinner!

The red and white striped table runners are reminiscent of the Big Top. The handmade “Mr. & Mrs.” pendant banner adds in a little quirky, fun to the table decor. It is pretty easily removed and would be adorable as a prop in wedding portraits. So it works double duty.

These chairs were perfect for the vintage-y feel we wanted to encompass. They just weren’t doing it for me by themselves though. Adding ribbon is an easy way to change it up a bit and add some flair. It also gets you away from the same old chair covers that just wouldn’t mesh with an outdoor carnival themed wedding.

Cake Creations by Hillary was the mastermind behind this amazing cake. As with the flowers, we left it up to the pros. I just provided the theme and Hillary ran with it. I must say, she did pretty darn well. I would die to have a cake like this! The small elements like the stripes and the golden angels and flowers (yes, they can double for popcorn depending on who is looking at it!) really bring it together with the theme.

What carnival is complete without peanuts, popcorn and candy? Take a slightly different approach to the popular candy buffet and add in all the snacks and treats you remember from the carnivals of your childhood. Who doesn’t love cotton candy after all? Just be warned that it does NOT like the heat. Luckily, I had backups for replacing it as it melted. 

Do you want to take a guess where most of the design elements were purchased? Come on. Take a guess…

I’ll bet you won’t believe that I shopped the Dollar Tree, Big Lots, JoAnne Fabrics, and a little from my own kitchen. Most of the elements are handmade by yours truly. That darn “Mr. & Mrs.” sign took about 2 hours. That little thing! I am slightly OCD when it comes to my crafts though and everything has to be perfect. So what I am trying to tell you is that you do not have to spend a fortune to capture your theme and make your wedding gorgeous. It just takes some creativity and willingness to DIY. If you are not a crafty person, recruit a friend who has the Martha Stewart touch. Or better yet, hire a crafty wedding planner. I happen to know one :)


Carnival Inspired Shoot

June 15th, 2011

A few weekends ago, I got together with a few absolutely wonderful vendors to create this carnival inspired shoot. The wonderful and talented Jen McKen and Dmitriy of Dmitriy Babichenko Photography captured all the details of the day. We couldn’t have pulled off this shoot without the talents of Paulette from Urban Gypsy or Hillary from Cake Creations by Hillary.

Once the thought of shooting at the PNC Carousel in Schenley Park popped in my head, the ideas wouldn’t stop flowing. And yes ladies, you CAN actually have a wedding here!

Tapping into the modeling skills learned from their wedding day, Tara and Mike were the perfect couple for this session (check out their wedding photos from Jen McKen here!).

I mean, seriously. Look at those eyes! I’m pretty sure even I would marry her!!

Here’s a little slideshow of the shoot. I’ll be posting more about the shoot later to give you the deets on how it pulled was all together. But for now, enjoy!!



It’s healthy to forget you are getting married.

June 14th, 2011

I did this past weekend. I had the weekend off. No plans, no responsibilities, no-thing. I had very fleeting thoughts of my wedding. I have been very diligent with entering the RSVPs into The Knot as they come in so that I don’t have to spend hours sitting there entering them all at once, so I entered the one RSVP I received and that was pretty much it.

Do you want to know what I did? I played in the dirt. Yep. I dug out rocks from the planting areas in the front yard along with these random patio stones the previous owners used as decorative pieces. I planted 5 flats of flowers (that’s a LOT of flowers!). I ruined my nicely manicured nails. I planted flowers in pots for the front porch and re-potted plants from the house. I spent some quality time in the good ol’ outdoors and soaked up some vitamin D. I barely saw my fiance even though he was actually home most of the weekend. I talked to my mom for 20 minutes about a bush.

I am by no means a great gardener, but I am trying. I learn new things each year. For example, did you know evergreen bushes and trees do better when planted in the fall? I didn’t either – until yesterday. I didn’t get half the things done I wanted to, but my front yard looks really pretty. It was therapeutic for me.

So a little advice for you while you are planning your weddings… Enjoy the time you have and take some time for yourself. Find that item on your to-do list that you really enjoy, but keeps getting pushed to the bottom because of other “more important” duties. Knock it off your list. Don’t let wedding planning take over your life. I am planning multiple weddings right now and I still found time to spend the ENTIRE weekend sitting in the grass (or driveway) playing in the dirt. Your “me” time may not include planting flowers and relocating displaced worms, but as long as you enjoy it that is all that matters.


Friday Finds 6.10.11

June 10th, 2011

I happened to come across these super cute DIY candles that I think could be really adorable for music-loving brides and grooms. These sheet music candles found on the Room to Inspire blog are absolutely adorable and would serve as great decoration for the escort table or dessert buffet.

Just click right on the photos to go to the Room to Inspire blog to get the how-to!


Friday Finds 6.3.11

June 3rd, 2011

So I stalk blogs. Any and every wedding related blog I can find. This find comes from a post from Style Unveiled. I LOVE these shoes! LOVE! I mean, I know I posted about how the dress doesn’t have to be all about the bling. But what girl doesn’t want just a little bit of bling on their wedding day? These shoes by Benjamin Adams are amazing. Taking a little inspiration from the now fading Royal wedding, these shoes named after the new Duchess of Cambridge, are just a sight for sore eyes. Maybe I appreciate shoes too much. Maybe I am a little crazy. But you cannot deny how adorable these are!


Meaningful shower gifts – Part Deux

June 1st, 2011

As promised, here are a few more ideas for meaningful shower gifts for those women who mean so much to you. I can’t take much credit for these ideas as they were sent to me by a dear friend. But they were just too cute not to share!


The red plate is a tradition that should be in every home. The red plate is to be used to celebrate a joyous occasion. When your husband get a promotion, he eats from the red plate. When it is your birthday, you eat from the red plate. When your child gets straight A’s, they eat from the red plate. It becomes a symbol of celebration and happiness. You can purchase your very own Red Plate here. While it comes with a card explaining the tradition behind the plate, here is a little poem I found online to include for the bride to read when opening by Celebration Ideas Online.

May today be one of many red-letter days
Times you’ll remember in so many ways
This gift is a tradition for you to start
A gift of love, straight from the heart
On days that are special that you’ll want to
Set out the red plate to celebrate it all
Honor the person and their great feat
On this special plate, let them joyously eat
It may be a birthday, promotion, good grade
A Little League win or wise choice that was made
May your years together as husband and wife
Bring you countless special days throughout your life
These wonderful times will come and go
Keep the red plate at the ready as your blessings flow

Here are two more that are similar in style but different mediums.

This tradition is just what you’d think. A basket of candles. But it isn’t just that. Each candle has a meaning to mark certain milestones in the marriage. What you’ll need are two candles of each color (White, Green, Navy blue, Pink, Cream, Red, Purple, Light blue, Silver). Wrap them together in some tulle or a cute ribbon and put in a basket. Be sure to include this cute little poem found here:

A basket of candles that come in a pair
in all different colors, for you two to share.
The white ones burn first;
they are wrapped in white lace
to celebrate your first married night
in your new chosen place.
The green pair is taller, and also much thinner;
burn with the first company you have over for dinner.
The dark blue candles are for after your first fight;
use them to burn while making up all night.
Pink candles set the mood and pave the way
for your first married Valentine’s Day.
Now, when your first year of marriage is through,
the cream anniversary pair, will light for you two.
Red candles aflame, both your futures are bright;
celebrate promotions you’ve worked toward with all of your might.
By this time we hope, maybe, just maybe
you can light the purple ones, on the birth of your baby.
And just when you thought you’d put these away,
take the light blue ones out for your fifth anniversary day.
Now just one more pair left – for the big “two five” –
the anniversary pair that will keep your love alive.
Congratulations (Bride and Groom)
on the start of your forever.
May the two of you always be happy together.
And burn these candles just the way we said,
but please don’t forget: blow them out before bed!


Same idea as above except with wine and you can choose whichever kinds you think the couple will like or go with brand names that are suiting for the event. Each bottle gets its own tag with the following poem:

Wedding Night
The night you have dreamed of is finally here
The future surrounds you with hope and yet fear
You’ve wanted so long to find your perfect mate
Sip this wine and toast this perfect date
The night is meant for you to share
Enjoy each other – a perfect pair!!

First Fight
When fights occur and tempers get hot
Pour a glass and be thankful for what you’ve got
If you always agreed it would certainly be a bore
And by asking for Krissy’s hand Bernie is surely
in for more!

First Anniversary
Been married a year, where did the time go?
No longer newlyweds, now you are pros
Hope the days found you in good health and
good spirit
Keep saying I love you –
one always needs to hear it!
Now toast this first date, it’s certainly not the last
And as you build your future don’t ever forget
the past!

First Dinner Party
Open your home to entertain and eat
Catch up with old friends and new ones to meet
When the night is over share this bottle of wine
But don’t sit down yet – it’s clean up time!!

First Christmas
A wise man said wine is better than beer
And now is the season for lots of holiday cheer
So pop the cork and relax a bit,
And when the night is through,
Kiss goodnight, close your eyes
And Santa will be good to you!

First Baby
The news that a baby will soon share your life
will make you a mother, not only a wife
You’ll see it through good times and sometimes
through bad
______ the loving mother
and _____ the dearest dad
Sadly _____ (groom) must drink this one alone, and _____(bride) with an empty glass
Sit back and relax – nine months will quickly pass!

Just a few more ideas for showers to keep things interesting and to give the bride something other than a pot holder. Have you heard of any other interesting traditions for bridal shower gifts? Please share!