Life After the Dress {Episode 22} Stephanie Hedger

Life After The Dress Marriage Series

Hello and welcome to the next episode of my #LifeAfterTheDress series here on my blog. In this series I interview married women of all ages and from all walks of life and ask them real questions about their lives now, after all the glitter and sparkle of their wedding day is over.  You can read more about the other ladies I have interviewed so far by clicking here.

Today I have blogger and traveler extraordinaire, Stephanie Hedger. Stephanie makes up half of the drool worthy, Hedgers Abroad blog along with her husband, Ryan. Having connected with her over social media, I am so looking forward to meeting her in person later this month to collaborate on a new styled photo shoot I have in the pipeline.

So grab yourself a cuppa and get ready to be inspired.

x

Life After TheDress Stephanie Hedger

Q1: Please introduce yourself (age, of both yourself and your husband, where do you live, what do you do & how long have you been married for?)

Hi! My name is Stephanie and my husband’s is Ryan. We are both 28 years old and are we are from small towns in Oklahoma. Two and a half years ago we moved to South Korea to teach English and blog about our travels at Hedgers Abroad! In July we celebrated our 4 year (?!) wedding anniversary!

Q2: Which Disney character do you feel sums you up to a ‘T’?

Good, well rounded Disney female characters are hard to come by. Most of them are just girls who go through some sort of hardship which is eventually solved by falling in love.

I think the character that I could identify most with would be Merida from “Brave.” When I was young, I was very headstrong and quite the tomboy. I had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with my parents and always wanted to do things my way. I guess I am still sort of like that now haha!

Q3: How did you and your hubby meet?

We met in college while hosting a conference for Oklahoma State University. It was awful timing as he was planning to pack up and move to Chicago for photography school in just a few short months. We just had the summer to be together and by the end of it we decided that we were simply just meant to be. He stayed just to be with me and reenrolled at our university. We have been inseparable ever since.

Q4: Was your wedding everything you hoped it would be? Would you go back and change anything? Do you have any advice for brides-to-be?

Planning our wedding was stressful. A lot of people had a lot of opinions about how we should be doing it. We actually considered eloping halfway through the planning, but stuck it out. In the end, our day turned out to be really special and our friends and family came from all over the country just to be there. We were glad that we stuck it out and had the celebration with everyone there. If we could go back and change anything, we would just have kept everything low key and simple; get married in the fall out in our family’s backyard.

There is so much pressure to have the PERFECT wedding that couples can easily lose sight of what is most important. So figure out what’s the most important for you to have on your special day and consider nixing the rest. Don’t get so caught up in the planning that you forget to enjoy yourself!

Q5: Has ‘life after the dress’ been as you imagined it would be?

Yes! We dated for three years before getting married, two of which we spent living together. We were basically already a married couple at that point without the actual paperwork. By the time we were married, we already knew everything about each other and the only thing that changed was my last name.

This trend is becoming more popular with couples and I think it really helps to test relationships. When there is a fight, you can’t just walk away and wait to see who will call to apologize first. You have to face problems head-on. You become a team and, in time, you are able to see the other person’s values and priorities.

We loved living together and even adopted a few animals in the process. We knew pretty much right away that we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives and after that, it was only a matter of time before Ryan popped the question!

Q6: What do you think makes marriage work?

My advice is to never stop dating each other. Just because you are married doesn’t mean you can just stop trying! Do new and exciting things together, be spontaneous, learn something new, go on road trips, or find a new hobby to do together. Don’t become complacent.

Q7: What have you learnt about yourself since being married?

I have learned that I have the tendency to pile WAY TO MUCH onto my plate. Eventually, I stress out and in the midst of my panic and frustration, there’s Ryan to pull me out of my spiral. He goes through life with such a carefree attitude and it is something I really admire. I get so caught up in life that sometimes I completely forget to take it easy, but I am working on it.

Q8: If you could describe your marriage in 3 words, what would they be?

Fun, daring, happy

Q9: Do you have any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with my readers about being married? Perhaps something some wise person once told you, or something you’ve learnt the hard way?

 Be silly. Make each other laugh. Life isn’t as serious as everyone makes it out to be.

CityGirlSearching Life After The Dress Hedgers Abroad

You can follow our journey!
Blog: Hedgers Abroad (www.hedgersabroad.wordpress.com)

Instagram: @hedgersabroad (https://instagram.com/hedgersabroad/)

Facebook: Hedgers Abroad (https://www.facebook.com/hedgersabroad)


I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

If you would like to be featured here on the blog, you can drop me an email using the contact form above or leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Life After The Dress {Episode 21} Kristin Louw

LifeAfterTheDRess CityGirlSearching Interview

It's been a little while since my last #LifeAfterTheDress post and I have been wanting to share Kristin's story with you for ages, so I am very happy to finally have it ready here on the blog. 

In this series I interview married women of all ages and from all walks of life and ask them real questions about their lives now, after all the glitter and sparkle of their wedding day is over.  You can read more about the other ladies I have interviewed so far by clicking here.

So grab yourself a cup of tea and get ready to be inspired by Kristin's story.

x

LifeAfterTheDress CityGirlSearching

Q1: Please introduce yourself (age, of both yourself and your husband, where do you live, what do you do & how long have you been married for?)

My name is Kristin Louw (28), married to my husband Etienne Louw (29) for one year and seven months. We live in an apartment complex in Greenstone, Johanneburg (South Africa). My husband is a software developer and I work as Digital Marketing Services Manager for NAB Caxton. We had dated for 6.5 years when we got married. He proposed on New Year's Eve, an awesome surprise, and were engaged for just over a year before tying the knot!

Q2: Which Disney character do you feel sums you up to a ‘T’?

Probably Ariel due to her fondness for collecting things and upcyling things for a new purpose! Plus I love the seaside.

Q3: How did you and your hubby meet?

We met at university where we were each donating blood with a friend! I brought him juice & biscuits afterwards because I thought he was cute :)

Q4: Was your wedding everything you hoped it would be? Would you go back and change anything? Do you have any advice for brides-to-be?

It was the most perfect, blissful day surrounded by family & friends. The day before POURED (and I mean POURED) with rain so we were a little nervous, but after all you can't predict the weather when you set the date a year ago! But on the day itself we were blessed with blue skies and just a little drizzle that started as we did our first dance so it was kind of magical.

My advice to brides to be would be to a.) BREATHE and b.) Enjoy every second - from the time you get engaged to the moment you through that bouquet and jet off on honeymoon. It really does go by extremely fast, especially the big day itself. Take the time to catch your breath, take in your surroundings and soak up the moment. When else will you ever have all the people that you love in one room again? But at the end of it all, even if your wedding was not the "flawless day" you imagined, just remember it's one day in a long lifetime of days and every day of marriage can be better than the last.

Another piece of advice that I would perhaps give to my pre-married self would be to take a local honeymoon! Firstly, nowhere is more beautiful than our own country, but you can save yourself the jet lag, 25 hour travel time and extra money. While we went on honeymoon to Thailand and we both really did enjoy it, both my husband & I agreed afterwards that overseas travel is all about adventure & exploring, whereas honeymoon is a time to really just relax, sleep and enjoy your first weeks as husband & wife while recovering from the race to the wedding.

Q5: Has ‘life after the dress’ been as you imagined it would be?

It's been weird & wonderful - what I expected & not (in a good way). My husband & I did not live together before we were married so there was a lot to get used to. While we did bicker a little at first, we soon found our groove and it has been lovely overall. We love not having to balance our schedules and make arrangements to see each other - you just wake up and decide what you want to do together that day! It's like having a sleep over every day with your best friend.

Q6: What do you think makes marriage work?

We give each other space to our own person, but always remember that we are two parts of the same whole at the end of the day. I think faith, trust, love and appreciation are key ingredients that make marriage work. Plus a good healthy dose of patience! Ultimately however, I think a marriage with God as the foundation is the most important thing to making it work.

Q7: What have you learnt about yourself since being married?

I quite like baking, which my husband does not complain about! ;)

Q8: If you could describe your marriage in 3 words, what would they be?

Adventure, honesty, laughter

Q9: Do you have any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with my readers about being married? Perhaps something some wise person once told you, or something you’ve learnt the hard way?

I was once told that marriage is not 50/50. It's 100/100, and if you both give it your all every day, you will never run out as you will always balance & refuel each other.

Also, marriage is a triangle with you and your partner on the bottom corners & God at the top. The closer you grow to God, the closer you will ultimately grow to each other :)

LifeAfterTHeDress CityGirlSearching

I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

If you would like to be featured here on the blog, you can drop me an email using the contact form above or leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Who is CityGirlSearching?

Who is CityGirlSearching

I recently wrote this blog post and asked readers what it is they want to see more of here on the blog. One of the comments was from Nihaad (who blogs over here) and she said she'd like to know a little more about me and the journey I took to get where I am right now. I don't usually share very personal posts on my blog, as I often think that no one really wants to hear the day to day ramblings of yet another blogger, but her comment made me think. Since it was still churning over in my mind a week later I have decided to start doing a few more personal posts, thrown in amongst the beauty reviews and travel guides.

I'd love to hear from you as to whether this is something you want to read more of, and as always look forward to your comments below. 

The girl behind the brand

I am a 27 year old South African living and teaching English in South Korea with my husband and rescue pup, Shadow the Jindo. In 2009, just before graduating from Rhodes University with a BA in English Literature & Industrial Psychology, I met this farmboy.  He was everything I was not, and considering I had a long term boyfriend at the time, I was simply not interested. Fast forward a few months, while making T-shirts together for a non-profit charity group we were both a part of, and I felt myself falling head over heels for this barefoot free spirit. You can read the full story here.

After dating for 5 months we left South Africa in search of a little adventure in South Korea.

Packed and ready for our first trip to Korea.

Packed and ready for our first trip to Korea.

We were both unemployed, and wanted to see more of the world and so when TeachKorea did a presentation at our University we both dove straight in, competed our application forms and started the long process of moving to Korea. In February 2010 we boarded a plane and began our first year of teaching in Daejeon, one of the biggest cities in South Korea. We did lots of traveling (Cambodia, Jeju Island and The Phillipines) and spent a very interesting year learning a lot about ourselves and of course each other as we navigated the sometimes difficult waters of life in a foreign country. Towards the end of our one year contract, Farmboy was feeling under an immense amount of pressure to have concrete answers for friends and family with their constant bombardment of "What next?" "When are you going to get a real job?" and "What are you going to do when you get back to South Africa?". We knew everyone meant well with their questions but it didn't help our worries about the future.

The first 6 months back in South Africa were really hard. Farmboy had by then been out of University (having graduated with his BSC Honors in Biology & Environmental Science) for 3 years, meaning he was 3 years behind his classmates in the job sphere. We were living with my mom in Joburg (alternating between visits to his family farm in KZN). I was loving being back home, being brought tea in bed by my mom and being able to catch up with her after being gone for such a long time. But it wasn't real. We were living in a bubble, a very happy bubble for me and a very frustrating bubble for Farmboy. We had some money saved from Korea, but not much as we had really wanted to travel and experience as much as possible while in Korea and so there were financial pressures too. To give you an idea, in 2010 a first time English teacher in Korea with no experience (with a TEFL certificate) was paid R18 000 a month and was given a rent free apartment. We both had no loans to pay off and the cost of living was relatively inexpensive. But, holidays cost money, eating out costs money (when you miss home and the comfort of home cooked food and you realise you have no problem spending R200 a person for a curry that tastes a little bit like home). As we lived on the outskirts of a big city it took us an hour to get into the main areas where the shops and restaurants were and so we were also spending a lot of money on taxis. And then let's not forget the amazing fashion, stationery and makeup products Korea is so well known for. After a year, Farmboy had R40 000 saved and I had R75 000. I had more saved than him because he always paid whenever we went out for dinner (such a gentleman).  This may sound like a lot of money, and it was when it was all clumped together. But when rent costs R4 000, food costs R4 000 and petrol costs another R2 000 that money isn't going to go very far. We also needed to buy Farmboy a car. We chalked up our time in Korea to fun and adventure, and not as a saving year abroad.

Then there was the pressure we were feeling regarding marriage. We had both gone full circle with our feelings towards marriage (at first I had no desire to get married and he wanted us to take our relationship seriously and commit to one another, this changed when we got back and I wanted to start thinking about marriage and he was wanting to wait until we were both settled with steady jobs). During this time I had been for numerous interviews with companies wanting to take complete advantage of me and my skills in blogging and social media. After a few freelance social media positions and a short, horrible 6 week stint as a wedding & conference coordinator, I decided to do my Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching in Pietermaritzburg. Farmboy had at this time finally secured a great job in Pietermaritzburg and had moved there to work on the oil pipe line between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. He moved in with his grandparents in August 2011, and I followed in November that year, moving into a tiny one bedroom flat

FarmboyCityGirl

Life went on, I was studying and Farmboys job allowed him a lot of flexibility. It was mostly field work and when he had done what he needed to do he could go home so it meant we were able to spend a lot of time together which was great.

CityGirl Farm Wedding South Africa

We got engaged in May 2012 and were married on his family dairy farm in September that year. You can see more photographs from our wedding here. After the wedding and an incredible honeymoon in Greece (click here) we returned to 'normal' life in Pietermaritzburg. We were happy about the life we had begun together, but I was feeling antsy.

So many of my friends at the time were wanting to start a family and I just wanted to hop on a plane and experience strange things again. Korea began to creep up into our conversations more and more. But by this time Farmboy had gotten a great job in Hillcrest at a really awesome Environmental agency and had been traveling all over Africa (he was doing Environmental Impact Assessments on mining sites) and as awesome as it was for him, we were apart for weeks at a time. I had also found a great temporary teaching post that I was hoping would become permanent. But a few weeks after starting my job, I was told the school could no longer offer me a permanent post and it hit me exactly where it was that I wanted to go next. Farmboy and I then made the difficult decision to pack up our lives again, and start the process to return to Korea.

As we already had a years experience in Korea it wasn't long before a couple post was offered to us. We thought we would have had more time but by April 2013 we had to make a definite decision and decided to accept the contracts for Korea. Our jobs started in June and so Farmboy gave his notice, we spent our last month visiting family and friends in KZN and Joburg and finally boarded a plane bound for Korea (again) on the 23rd June. 

Korea round 2!

Korea round 2!

We have loved our second time here in Korea because it has been so different from before. We are now in a tiny town out in the countryside, we are earning a bit more and our family got a little bigger last year when we rescued Shadow from the side of the road. 

Huttons in Korea

Our goal this second time around has been to spend 3 years trying to reach our saving goal. We have just started our third year and with that money we hope to either buy a house somewhere, or to put it away for our children's education. There are lots of options for us for when we return home next year, but right now instead of worrying about them, we are trying to enjoy our last year of complete freedom.

Living in Korea isn't always as easy and glamorous as it looks in my photographs. It's hard being on this side of the world when family members are sick and when grandparents pass away. It's hard being here when it seems like our classmates are making such huge successes of themselves out in the corporate or 'real world'. It's also hard being away from everything you have ever known as normal (food, ways of doing things, ways of solving problems) and it's hard being in a country where very few people can understand what you are saying. 

Farmboy CityGirl

It's hard being a young adult in this day and age, with jobs being so hard to come by and so many people trying to start their own businesses. Not all of us will be successful entrepreneurs and not all of us are able to (or want to) be like the people who live those idyllic lives on Instagram.  I often put so much pressure on myself to have a super successful blog, to have a million followers on all my social media platforms, to be that person who becomes a great success over night. But this is just not real. I am okay with being a teacher when we go back, being a farmers wife or just having a regular job (okay this is still something I am making peace with but I know that in my heart of hearts it doesn't matter what job I do, and someone has to do the 'normal' jobs...if no one worked in banks, hospitals, schools, kitchens and restaurants the world just wouldn't work). 

Social media only shows us the best of the best, the highlights of peoples lives and those highlights are mostly (if not all) staged and styled. We have to asses our own priorities and be honest with ourselves about what makes us happy. We have to learn to be completely accepting of ourselves and who we are . I want to be someone whose day doesn't depend on how many likes and followers I have. I want to stop letting social media dictate my mood. I do believe it is possible to lead a balanced life with Facebook & Instagram as a part of it. I don't believe we have to get rid of it all to be truly happy, but I do believe there has to be a balance. I still have a way to go with getting that balance right, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Cherry Blossoms in Korea

Right now I am in a bit of a funny head space with this blog (wanting to take it full time but not really having any particular focus for it). I know people read my blog and think that I have got everything figured out but really, I'm just like most of you; a young woman trying to carve a space out in this world.

Writing this blog makes me happy.

Taking pretty photographs makes me happy.

And having people I don't know comment and email me to tell to say they found something helpful or felt inspired by something makes me feel like all the effort and time I put into this space is absolutely worth it.

That's why I blog. 

Where are you right now in your life? Do you have blog, what are some of the reasons you blog and some of the reasons you keep on blogging? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Sometimes we just need to hear that someone is going through something similar to realise that what we are feeling is completely normal. 

Farmboy and I have traveled to so many incredible places because Korea has given us the opportunity to save as well as travel. We have met so many like minded people and are grateful for what we have here. We may go through feelings of frustration and anxiety about the future (just live every other person!) but we have each other (and Shadow) and we have our faith in God that everything will work out. His plan may be different from ours, but whatever it is, it will better than anything we can imagine for ourselves. 

Pink Flowers in Korea

Inspirational Instagram Profiles

InstagramInspiration.png

Instagram has been my favourite social media platform for a while now. When I first started I was following all sorts of random people. As the months went by I realised just how powerful Instagram is as a networking tool and I began to look for fellow creatives in my field (lifestyle/travel/beauty bloggers) to follow and I've built real friendships with a lot of them. I even collaborated with someone I met via Instagram on this Boho Bridal styled Wedding shoot (click here to see my photographs). 

A basic search will turn up loads of interesting new brands and people to follow, but I'm not so much interested in the huge corporations as I am the smaller business owners and creatives. I find the people who are in the same boat as I am, trying to take our blogs and businesses out into this big bad world and so much more real, more genuine, and ultimately so much more likely to spend time following you back or commenting and actively engaging in your work. I'm not sure about you but I know that I'd rather have 100 engaging followers than 100 000 fans who simply follow without knowing a single things about who the person is behind my brand. 

I find that the more relatable creatives I follow, the more I am inspired to create better content for my own feed and more my blog. Are there any Instagram profiles you absolutely love? Share them with me in the comments below. Even better than that, share your own profile below and I'll pop by and say hello. 

Here is small list of some of my current favourite profiles on Instagram, simply click each image to find them on Instagram.

Enjoy!

Fall For DIY

Life After The Dress {Episode 19} Marketa Forstova-Horton

LifeAfterTheDress

In this series I interview married women of all ages and from all walks of life and ask them real questions about their lives now, after all the glitter and sparkle of their wedding day is over.  You can read more about the other ladies I have interviewed so far by clicking here.

Today I've got Marketa, an incredible talented illustrator & creative who blogs over at Bohemian Mint. I found Marketa's blog one day on Pinterest and just loved her style and illustrations so much that I sent her a hello email. We have been friends ever since! Marketa is just such a lovely soul and I really hope to meet her in real life sometime soon. We are planning a very special collaboration in the next few months that I can't wait to share with you...watch this space! In the mean time, grab yourself a cup of tea and get ready to be inspired!

x

#LifeAfterTheDressMarriageSeries

Q1: Please introduce yourself (age, of both yourself and your husband, where do you live, what do you do & how long have you been married for?) 

Hi! My name is Marketa Forstova-Horton, I just turned 30 and I work in the wedding industry - I am a wedding invitation designer and an editor for a wedding website. My husband’s name is Eugene Horton, he is 32 and works for a  plumbing company. We have been married for almost 8 years and we currently live on Long Island, New York.

Q2: Which Disney character do you feel sums you up to a ‘T’?

Hmmm. In order to answer this question, I would need to take a trip to Disney world! J I grew up in the Czech Republic, so I am not gonna lie- there are gaps in my Disney knowledge! Is there something like a fairy with a whimsical sense of humor who loves insane amounts of chocolate? If not, somebody suggests to Disney to create that character, please.

Q3: How did you and your hubby meet?

We met in college. We both took the same class, and Eugene was sitting a few rows behind me. One day after class, he caught up with me and asked me how I liked the class. Turns out I liked him much more than the class (I ended up dropping the class, but kept him).

Q4: Was your wedding everything you hoped it would be? Would you go back and change anything? Do you have any advice for brides-to-be?

My wedding was nothing like I ever imagined for two reasons:

1.     At 22, I really never thought about weddings.

2.     We eloped, so I didn’t really have time to think about my dream wedding. It happened on a Tuesday night- I wore a white and black dress that I picked up at Macy’s and a pair of black pumps. (Since then, the dress fell apart but I save myself a little scrap from it!)

Looking back, the one thing I regret is not having my family there. My husband and I are actually planning to do a vow-renewal ceremony, where we invite our families. Oh, and I am having an awesome naked wedding cake with a ton of berries on it for sure. Considering I work in the wedding industry, I am overflowing with ideas!

My advice- and I think that’s the only advice I can give, considering my elopement, would be not to stress anything out. The ceremony became about us, not about the flowers, the shoes, or whether the favors are placed in the right or the left corner.

Q5: Has ‘life after the dress’ been as you imagined it would be?

Again, everything became so sudden that I had no time to think about it. It just happened. In a way, it was great, because there was no time for second-guessing and worrying. But we have been married for almost 8 years, so I suppose this strategy works! J

Q6: What do you think makes marriage work?

Though different for everyone, for me, it’s the idea of us being a team. “Marriage is like communism”, I say. There is no such thing as “my money”, or “I earned this, so this is mine.” We each have our career and passions but we always make the big decisions together.

At the same time, however, I think it’s important to have something that’s solely your own- your job and your hobbies.

But if you lie or cheat, then even communism can’t save you.

Q7: What have you learnt about yourself since being married?

Before I met my husband, I thought that I wouldn’t get married until I was like 35- I wanted a life of adventures first. I ended up getting married at 22 and I learnt that all the adventures I had in mind were more fun when I shared them with someone. I suppose I have learnt that I really love marriage and the idea of having a teammate for life.

Q8: If you could describe your marriage in 3 words, what would they be?

Love, Teamwork, Adventure

Q9: Do you have any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with my readers about being married? Perhaps something some wise person once told you, or something you’ve learnt the hard way?

Stuff I've learnt:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. And let stuff go. Dirty socks on the floor are not worth the fight- I learnt that after about 2 months of marriage.

Also, before I got married, I used to look at married couples and say: “I would never do…XY. Ever.” And then I caught myself doing XY. So the chances are that the stuff you say you would never do (like go to bed angry or throw out the dinner you cooked because you are just so damn mad), I bet your bottom dollar that you will- and it’s okay!  

Lastly, marriage is a marathon. If you are in it for the long run, there will be times when you are out of breath or when you trip over. (And there will be times when you will want to trip him over, believe me) Don’t sweat it. Love is beautiful, love is messy. And as long as you are running together and having fun, you are all right! 

LifeAfterTheDressBohemianMint

You can find Marketa at the following places:

I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

If you would like to be featured here on the blog, you can drop me an email using the contact form above or leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Life After The Dress {Episode 16} Megan Wait

In this series I interview married women of all ages and from all walks of life and ask them real questions about their lives now, after all the glitter and sparkle of their wedding day is over. If you'd like to read more about the series and meet the other ladies I have interviewed, click here.

Today's interview is with Megan, who blogs over at The Sun House:

TheSunHouseBlog

Megan is a newlywed like me and has a lovely blog where she writes about her and her husbands adventures with their pups. So grab a cup of tea or coffee and get ready to be inspired.

x

LifeAfterTheDressMeganWait

Q1: Please introduce yourself (age, of both yourself and your husband, where do you live, what do you do & how long have you been married for?)

Hi there, my name is Megan, and besides being an editor by day, I am also a blogger at The Sun House. I live in a house on Sun street, with my husband of just over a year (12 October for the win). His name is Flip. Our garden needs a bit of tending. We also have three dogs.

Flip is three years my senior, an old man of 29 ;) He owns his own logistics company. 

Q2: Which Disney character do you feel sums you up to a ‘T’?

Oh, uhm, I think the girl from Tangled might be my best bet. She is feisty, cooky, has an insatiable desire for adventure, even though she gets more than she has bargained for, but in the end, she is still a girl, and vulnerable at that. I like that she isn’t your typical, helpless Princess. She’s free-spirited and independent. Or Merida from Brave. Oh wait, I just saw that it doesn’t have to be a princess. I’m definitely Gus Gus from Cinderella. Haha. I love food. And used to love fine wine. 

Q3: How did you and your hubby meet?

We met through mutual friends at a braai. He fancied the crap out of me and I was entirely oblivious, because I fancied someone else. But then one day, he sent me a Facebook message: “I think you are hot and awesome, this is all for now.”I didn’t even reply. I was a bit flabbergasted.Three weeks later, I got another message: “Would you go on a date with me?” We saw each other a couple of times in between and this didn’t come up once. It was really so funny. He suggested a movie, I said no. Then he suggested dinner and he took me to a sushi restaurant. I never had sushi prior to this – now I’m hooked. 

I officially fell for him when one evening I told he could not come over because I was colouring my hair and when I got to my room, the whole bed was spread in white and red roses. My roommate sneaked it in. He officially fell for me when I stuck a fork in his leg. 

Q4: Was your wedding everything you hoped it would be? Would you go back and change anything? Do you have any advice for brides-to-be?

Our wedding was the most humbling event of my life. As soon as I put on my dress, I became a nervous wreck. I was in pieces, but I refused to take any calming stuff, because I wanted to live and feel every part of our day. I loved every minute of it. Our wedding was also very intimate, with only 60 guests. This, to me, made it all the more personal.

If I could change anything, it would probably be the fact that I walked down the aisle very fast, which I didn’t even realise. I was also so nervous that I couldn’t keep looking at Flip as I was walking down. I would want that moment over.

My advice to brides-to-be would be that if your mother wants to be part of your wedding day, let her. It’s just as an important day to her as it is to you. My mother practically took over all the décor planning and I couldn’t be happier about it. It relieved me of so much stress to know that she was there and that she helped me in every way she could.

Q5: Has ‘life after the dress’ been as you imagined it would be? 

Yes, it is. There were some serious changes in the dynamics of our relationship. But one thing I can say is that everyone’s telling the truth when they say that being married is the best thing ever. 

Q6: What have you learnt about yourself since being married?

Surprisingly, I learnt that I am an uncompromising brat. Under Construction

Q7: If you could describe your marriage in 3 words, what would they be?

Wow, this is really difficult. I would describe it as ‘perfectly us’.

Q8: Do you have any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with my readers about being married? Perhaps something some wise person once told you, or something you’ve learnt the hard way?

The best thing in life is to love and be loved in return. But sometimes it will be hard work and other times it will be smooth sailing. If you have a fight, listen first, understand, respect your spouse’s feelings and talk it out.This might sound like a newlywed speaking here, but find something about your spouse that will make you fall in love with them every day.

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You can find Meg at the following places:

I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

If you would like to be featured here on the blog, you can drop me an email using the contact form above or leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Life After The Dress {Episode 15} Hannah Keppler

In this series I interview married women of all ages and from all walks of life and ask them real questions about their lives now, after all the glitter and sparkle of their wedding day is over. If you'd like to read more about the series and meet the other ladies I have interviewed, click here.

Today's interview is with Hannah, owner of The Ruby Orchard in Howick:

I used to stop by The Ruby Orchard whenever I was in Howick and longed for the day that I had a home to fill with all of the delightful goodies in store. It's been so wonderful getting to know Hannah (although it has all been over email) and I look forward to meeting her for 'real' soon.

Go grab yourself a cup of tea and get ready to be inspired.

x

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Q1: Please introduce yourself (age, of both yourself and your husband, where do you live, what do you do & how long have you been married for?)

Hello! I am Hannah a 33 year old British Mum on a South African adventure! I am married to Greg a 38 year old South African and we live in Howick, KZN. We have been married for almost 6 years... and then we were 3! Our 3 year old Jonah arrived 3 years into our marriage – possibly the cutest boy on the planet!

We lived in the sleepy Devonshire Countryside in UK, and were both career monkeys who barely saw each other. Since moving to SA in 2012, Greg has joined the family business and I have opened The Ruby Orchard a décor furniture and gift shop in the Midlands. From Director of Sport to buying pretty things and designing furniture – Such a change, but so worth it. Greg and I now see each at least 4 times a day and I blog about our shop, decor ideas and products at TheRubyOrchard.

Q2: Which Disney character do you feel sums you up to a ‘T’?

Sally from cars. She grew tired of her high powered job and made a new start in a small town. She is straight forward, hardworking, and witty! 

Q3: How did you and your hubby meet?

Cringe... The Walkabout bar in Exeter, Devon. Jugs of snake bite, dancing, kebabs... the usual shenanigans of a 22 year old singleton. 

Q4: Was your wedding everything you hoped it would be? Would you go back and change anything? Do you have any advice for brides-to-be?

Our wedding was 100% everything I had hoped for and more. So many wonderful friend and family have said since that it was the most relaxed wedding they had ever been to. No strict timings for the day (apart from the ceremony) made it flow effortlessly. 

What I would change...? Maybe the music. In hindsight I wish we had had a live band rather than a DJ. Mainly because my mother in law kept hijacking the decks with Celine Dion... ah man...! 

My advice for brides-to-be: You don’t have to spend a fortune, have a fancy venue and hundreds of guests to have a beautiful wedding. We got married on my parents farm, arranged the flowers on the tables ourselves, I did my own makeup, friends played the music in the church, we hired the students I was teaching to run the bar and waitress and we borrowed our wedding cars from friends and famous Cricketers! 

Q5: Has ‘life after the dress’ been as you imagined it would be?

I have loved every minute of building our lives together. Our 6 years of marriage have been pretty hectic (careers, finding forever home, a baby boy, packing up our lives, goodbye forever home, immigrating, starting a business, drawing plans for forever SA home). Doing these things with a husband who supports and cares, is honest and gentlemanly has made life after marriage exactly what I hoped it would be. 

Q6: What do you think makes marriage work?

Acceptance, appreciation and lots of giggling. Accept each other for whom and what you are, you should not have to change to make a marriage work. Appreciate each other every single day and always giggle... especially at the little things that only the two of you understand! 

Q7: What have you learnt about yourself since being married?

I have leant I don’t need hobbies or sport or things anymore... A Sunday with Greg and Jonah washing the car, mowing the lawn, doing washing and baking in our little cocoon family world is pure bliss. 

Q8: If you could describe your marriage in 3 words, what would they be?

 Trusting – Devoted - Understood 

Q9: Do you have any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with my readers about being married? Perhaps something some wise person once told you, or something you've learnt the hard way?

Never go to bed with an issue that hasn't been resolved, if you are cross, upset or unsure... it needs to be ironed out over a cuppa and chocolate before bedtime! 

I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

If you would like to be featured here on the blog, you can drop me an email using the contact form above or leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Weekly Wishes

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Hello and welcome to my Weekly Wishes series where I talk about my goals and wishes for the week ahead. Popping them here on the blog will hopefully help me to stay on track with the things I want to do or get done. These posts are part of a link up by The Nectar Collective where Melissa has a wonderful community of women who link up their weekly wishes and are there to support and encourage one another. It's also a great way to make new friends and find new blogs to follow, why don't you join me?

It's Monday, and the perfect day to share my wishes for the upcoming week. If you'd like to join in simply click here (and then click on the comments section of the top post) and link up your blog post. 

Last week's wishes were pretty much accomplished (although I STILL haven't been very good about removing my phone from the bedroom at night). I am going to keep on putting this wish down until I finally get my act together and make this change. I also decided not to join another yoga challenge (as I found I was far less focused on the actual yoga poses and more focused on getting the right photograph to post on Instagram, truth be told). So I am going to be telling you a little bit more about another fitness/pilates/yoga guru I have been following and working out with. I booked our cooking course for Bali (my mom is meeting us in Bali for our summer holidays...I am so excited to see her, it has been over a year since we have seen any family!). I also got stuck in with my camp planning and have been doing lots of research into practical ways of helping to end the way against Human Trafficking, by following along closely with the amazing work that goes on at The Exodus Road

This Weeks Wishes

1. Continue my research into human trafficking, with the objective of finding practical ways that we can make an actual difference in the lives of those affected by it. 

2. Finalise a new giveaway for the blog (this one is going to be a goodie, you don't want to miss out!).

3. Photograph the new stock I have in my Stationery Store, including putting together a few new smaller sized packages of pretty washi tapes and notebooks.

4. Finish at least 5 out of the 7 workouts scheduled for this week in the Blogilates July Workout Calendar. I have been following Jillian Michaels 3 day shred workouts for the past 9 months, and by now I can officially say I am bored out of my mind. So I downloaded the Blogilates app which is free, and then paid the $1.99 fee for the July calendar and have been loving the workouts! Each day there is a list of video workouts, ranging from 5 - 17 minutes, that are only unlocked on the day you start the challenge. It's still early in the month, and not too late for you to sign up, even if you aren't getting the full 31 days out of your $1.99. It's so worth it! Casey is a spunky and inspiring young lady (but she does talk the WHOLE way through her videos and some of you might find her constant sprouting of rainbows and pixie dust a little annoying. I don't, and I find the more she talks the less I actually concentrate on just how HARD the workouts are). There is no risk of getting bored as each of the workout videos (there are usually 4 - 7 per day) are different and focus on different parts of the body. And I cannot even explain to you just how stiff I am every morning. Even after doing Jillian for 9 months. It works!

On the app and on the website Cassey has free monthly workout calendars and eating plans, as well as forums for you to join and get inspired by reading the stories from the community of women who have seen amazing results. I like prefer the app because all the videos are in one place, you simply click on the next one in the list, do the workout, tick the box when you're done and open up the next video, all on the same 'screen/window' on the iPhone. It's super easy to follow and helps me when I really lazy, which is most days. She has workouts for everyday of the week, but one day is a stretch day where she combines pilates moves with elements of yoga to give your body a well deserved break, while still working on our flexibility and posture.

Let me know if you try Blogilates, I'd love to know your thoughts!

5. REMOVE MY PHONE FROM THE BEDROOM AT NIGHT!

Do you have anything you really need to get done this week? Drop me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

Have a wonderful week everyone <3

Fun Wedding Cake Ideas

From our wedding last year {CLICK HERE to see more wedding posts}, I am still signed up to rather a large amount of wedding inspiration websites and newsletters. For the most part I tend to delete each one that I get, but this one in particular caught my eye as each of the cakes below could be used at any celebration, not just for a wedding.

And aren't these idea's lovely! 

And I had to throw in some photographs of our yummy wedding cake too, as well as our cupcakes and candy bar...just for fun <3

{Found on GreenWeddingShoes, original content by BHLDN}

Anna Inghardt Photography

Lately I have been developing a deep appreciation for film photography. There is something special about film. Although the film effect can be reproduced through various editing programs, the feel of holding your very own roll of film, patiently waiting to get them developed, and finally holding the finished photographs in your hands is something that digital just can't beat. 

I'm not sure if these images from the very talented Swedish photographer Anna Inghardt were taken on film, but they do have the light and whimsical feel associated with it. 

I am in love with each and every one. 

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Do you like the white on white colours? How do you feel about the grainy texture? Do they make you want to whip our your camera, find some white percale linen and get snapping as much as I do?

x

Happy Weekend everyone!

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Go out there with your camera and snap away. 

Often the best photographs and the unscripted ones. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, just point and shoot, delete, retake. And most importantly...have fun.

x

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Watercolour Inspiration...

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Lately, I have been feeling very inspired by local South African blogger Fathima over at {HappiessIs}. Her illustrations are beautiful, her freelance design work is oogle worthy, and her doodles are just so gosh darn cute. You should pop on over to her blog and say hi!

Here are a few of my Pinterest pins from my {inspiration} board. I am in a crafty mood, and seeing as South Korea seems to be the heart of all things stationery, I am contemplating getting myself a set of watercolour paints and just going bananas. 

Well, until something starts to resemble art :) 

Do you like watercolour paintings/drawings/illustrations? Ever tried to paint anything yourself?

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