Smile #220 – Say Yes to Wedding Favors

Now that we have selected our wedding theme, let’s get started on the rest of the planning!  🙂  Ideas are all twirling in my head.  Should we do this or that?  How about this and how about that?  Well, one thing I could narrow down is luggage tags.  It serves as name tags and guest favors.  Killing two birds with one stone!  Boo yah!

I scouted the internet for leather luggage tags.  Some vendors were priced out of our budget, some didn’t offer the color section, some didn’t offer personalization.  Finally I turned to the questionable, yet resourceful Alibaba Express to find these luggage tags.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too sure about this transaction.  There is a lot of mixed reviews on this site.  But the vendor on Alibaba has a lot and I mean A LOT of options.  From the shape of the luggage tag to the measurement to color selection, she offered it all!  We could customize it however we’d like.  I mean…sometimes you just gotta give a little trust!

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Despite my many many questions, she always answered my message promptly and courteously.  She even shared photos of previous samples for reference.

We changed our minds at least twice before selecting #6, a light pastel blush color instead.  We sent over the wedding logo design and she started working on the sample.  A week later, she shared with us a sample luggage tag.  The tag looks great…except one thing.  The tag looked a whole lot pink-er than we had expected.

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Back to the drawing board, we reviewed the color options again.  This time we selected a much more neutral color.

I had a lot of fun designing this tag from the logo to the color to the shape and now it is in our procession.  The finished product looks exactly how we wanted it.  🙂   Thank you so much, L for your patience with us!



Smile #218 – Us the Duo

Through their Vine’s six second video clip of top hit covers, Us the Duo has amassed millions of followers across the globe.  They have toured with Oprah and Pentatonix and have performed live on Good Morning America.  For the first time, the talented and adorable duo, Michael and Carissa Alvarado, are headlining their own solo tour.  They are traveling around the nation.

Bubble has been a fan since those good ol’ Legends’ concert nights.  It has been years since we went to Michael’s concert at App.  We were excited to see they will be stopping in Charlotte.  I have been binging on their music on Spotify.

Before the doors were open, eagered fans already lined up outside of The Underground.  A room of 600 people stood waiting patiently for the night of music to begin.  Bubble and I were surprised at how intimate the venue was.  It was a nice sized room with seating on one side for VIP.  We found a spot with a clear view of the stage, even for fun sized people, aka me.

The night opened with songwriter and singer, Hailey Knox.  She began her music career on YouTube with unique acoustic covers of pop songs.  This is her second tour, first one with Charlie Puth last fall and now with Us the Duo.  She sang songs from her newest EP – Awkward.  Her songs are catchy and lyrics are relatable.

She came down to meet the guest after her performance.

Next up, Us the Duo.  The crowd roared in excitement.  The duo began with their  2014 pop song medley.  The pair wanted to show the audience, “where it all started.”  They used to jam in their living room.  What better way of bringing fans together than showing them their actual living room sofa and a standing lamp.

Carissa’s vocal and Michael’s multi-instrumental play, they were unstoppable.  They sang songs from their older collection and their latest Public EP.  In between their original songs, they also played covered of Sway and Build Their Me Up Buttercup.  Their acapella rendition of Meghan Trainor and John Legend’s hit song Like I’m Gonna Lose You capture complete attention from the room.

In between songs, they joked and teased.  Their love was contagious.   They set up a Q&A session where fans can ask any questions.  One fan asked for love advice.  Carissa joked to put toilet paper roll back in the roll instead of leaving it on top.


The night ended with their wedding vows song – No Matter Where You Are.  Of course, the audience wouldn’t let them leave that easily.  All the chanting brought them back on stage for one last song – Medley of 2016.

Bubble and I both enjoyed the concert.  Carissa and Michael’s performance definitely satisfied every expectation.

Smile #217 – Paris for One

With only so many hours in a day, it is hard to allocate a time to sit and read.  Ding, ding, ding, audiobooks is here for the rescue!   Audiobooks is the perfect companion on the way and back from work.

Ever since I listened to One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, I am addicted to her books.  She is the author of the popular title and now a motion picture, Me Before You.  She has also penned so many other great novels.   Her latest is Paris for One and Other Stories.  I have been on the waiting list at the library for a few weeks.  I was excited to pop the CD in my car.


Without spoiling any details, Paris for One is about Nell, a 26 years old, who has never been to Paris.  She’s never been on a romantic weekend away to anywhere before.  Nell was left alone in Paris when her boyfriend ditched her for their romantic getaway.  Under the unfortunate circumstances, she discovered more about herself and a whole lot more.

This story is charming and sweet.  Moyes managed to developed each character is just a few chapters.  I was immersed in the storyline.  While it is predictable at times, you can’t help but go through the entire emotional roller coaster with Nell.

It brought back the time when my friends and I took a cross-Europe road trip upon the completion of our study abroad.  One of the stops was Paris.  Given we were there for New Years, the city was absolutely chaotics.  Despite the crowded streets, the city still relay a romantic vibe.  As unrealistics as the story is (or isn’t), a weekend in Paris is always a good choice.



Smile #216 – Bechler by Night

Many can recognize the shiny disco mosaics sculpture on S. Tryon, but how many can tell you about the museum behind it. I admit, I can’t…I have passed by the building numerous time over the years, but not once have I stepped inside.  This statement will change after tonight.

The building referred to is the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.  The famous sculpture is titled the Firebird or Le Grand Oiseau de Feu sur l’Arche by an artist named Niki de Saint Phalle.

I stumbled across Bechler by Night program via Charlotte Agenda’s Agenda Weekender. In partnership with Bank of America, the Bechtler Museum hosts Bechtler By Night.  On the third Friday of each month, the museum opens its four gallery floor to allow guests who don’t normally have the opportunity to see the galleries during normal hours.  February’s theme is Travel Abroad.  The title was enough to convinced we must go.

Unsure of what to expect, Bubble and I were greeted by quite a crowd.  People clustered around the welcome table for their passport and bingo card.  With the passport, you are to search for arts and artists from different parts of the world.  The bingo card is basically a scavenger hunt.  Mark down the floor the image was found on the card and return for a prize.

We headed straight to the fourth floor and began our walk through Bechler Collection: Relaunched and Rediscovered collection.  The expansive collection includes work from a variety of different artists.  Bubble and I both enjoyed the pop art section.  One painting poked fun of consumerism.  Another mocked America’s democracy.  We then made our way down to Alberto Giacometti: 45 Drawings Portfolio exhibit.  His work includes sculptures and paintings.

As we strolled through the museum, we hunted for items on our bingo cards.  We had a lot of fun competing against each other.  Bubble and I managed to find all the images, except one.  We have no idea where it could be from.  All the big prizes were already given out, but we are free to pick up a postcard.  Bubble picked one with the Small Swiss Female Head and I picked the Alberto Giacometti, Annette.  Both were on our Bingo sheet.

We both enjoyed our night at the museum.  It was a unique way of engaging with the art.  🙂

Smile #215 – Say Yes to the Photographer(s)

We get one shot at our wedding.  There is no second take.  Therefore I want the very best our budget can afford to capture every moment of our wedding.

One photographer for 8 hours or two photographers for 7 hours?  Fine art photography or photojournalistic?  Natural or dramatic?  I reviewed so many wedding photographer’s portfolios, evaluated every package offerings and examined each photos on their site.  Each photographer’s style is different and depending on the angle used the photo expresses a different vibe.

Searching for the perfect photographer became a bit of an obsession.  After gathering a quote from everyone, I created a spreadsheet listing what each package entails and jogged down notes on each collections.  Perhaps it’s the lighting, perhaps it’s the editing or perhaps it is simply out of our price range.  This process helped filter and eliminate a number of photographers from our list.

Aside from a beautiful portfolio, we also wanted to make sure we meshed well with the photographers.  After all, we will be spending all day with them!  We conducted a phone interview or in person meeting with each one.

But one particular pair absolutely shined through.  We are excited to be working with Rob & Kristen Photography!


The husband and wife duo have a beautiful portfolio.  They shared with us a few collections and we loved every one of them!  They know how to get the shot and how to take advantage of every circumstance throughout the day to deliver the best result.  Plus their sweet and laidback personality made us feel comfortable and relaxed.  We can’t wait to take our engagement shoot and spend our wedding day with them!  🙂