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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Changing your last name

So the wedding's over, the honeymoon's over and we're back to reality.  The first thing I wanted to do after all of the craziness was to make my new last name official!

In some states, you are able to apply and submit all of your information online to get your name changed, but in Florida it seems that you have to go into all of the actual offices to get your new name.  You can opt to try to figure out how to do everything through the mail, but for me that was more trouble that it was worth...

There is also a legal name changing kit you can purchase online.  As much as I was tempted to do this, Mr. Hess and I agreed that it was silly to pay extra for something that I can handle by myself.  The trade of for this agreement? He had to go to all of the name changing stops with me!  Just in case you're interested in taking the easy route, HERE's an example of a name change kit.  Not feeling that one? Simply google "name change kit" and you'll find several options to chose from.

As for the DIY's, it took a little bit of research, a few days off and a lot of patience to get the task done:

Naturally, the first thing I wanted to do after we got back from the honeymoon was to handle EVERTHING!  I woke up bright and early my first day off of work ready to find out exactly how I go about changing my name and realized an important factor to have with me wasn't in my hands yet.  If you get married - legally - you are required to purchase a marriage license before the ceremony and after your vows it gets sent off and turned into the right hands to notarize it and then return it to you as a marriage certificate.  This can have a turnaround up to 2 weeks after the wedding, and that can seem like a long time in transition mode, but finally she was in my hands.

Now that I had the marriage certificate in my possesion, I created the following TO-DO list to check off as a new MRS:
  • NEW Social Security Card - this is free, but requires you to come into your local office in person and fill out the appication.  To do this you need your marriage license, your old SS Card, a form of ID, and proof that your are a US Citizen (your birth certificate).  You can opt to mail the application in instead, but I didn't trust handing any form of my personal documents over to anyone...not to mention the extra time it would take to go through snail mail.  Also, if you are planning on changing your address, you need to provide the new one to this office.

  • NEW Driver's License - this is not free, but is has a small one-time fee of $25.  You must get your new SS Card before you do this in FL, OR have an official document from the SS Office with you saying your new card is on it's way.  Again, if you are planning on also changing your address, you need to provide the new one to the DMV WITH 2 documents with the address on it as proof.  Bring your old ID with you, and they will do you the pleasure of snapping the corner from it so that it's unusable.  DO NOT forget any of these things when you go to the DMV, or they will turn you away before if not after you wait in that crazy long line!

Once you have your new Social Security card and Driver's License, you can move onto notifying anyone else who needs to know of your new surname.  This can include:

  • Friends and family

  • Employers/payroll

  • Post office

  • Phone company and other utilities

  • Banks and other financial institutions

  • Credit card companies

  • Schools and alumni associations

  • Voter registration

These tasks aren't necessarily as time consuming as the two main ones I mentioned, but that doesn't mean that they aren't as important.  When I was at the DMV, they asked me if I would like to update my voter registration right then and there, and I did - why not?!

After the DMV, we headed over to my Mr. Hess's bank and added me onto his bank account.  I've never been more excited to hand over an ID, (well, maybe this was second to getting ID'd  on my 21st birthday!) but regardless, it was so nice and shiny and said all of the right information I've been waiting for!  It's completely up to you and your spouse what you do with banking accounts, but for us it just made more sense for everything to be in one place.  For now, I am keeping my own account at my bank, but this will only be temporary.  Since my name has officially changed in the system at work, my paychecks will now say MRS. and just so there isn't any confusion I made a copy of my driver's license that says my maiden name to hand into the bank.  This way, they have it on file and note that it's really ME trying to access MY account.

Once that's done, don't forget to get your new name on these documents as well:
  • Passport - Do not do this before the wedding.  Your passport name must match the name on your ticket and all other travel documents! Although you will want to show it off, it's wayyy easier to take your honeymoon with your maiden name.

  • Mortgages and leases

  • Wills 

  • Insurance policies

  • E-mail address - if you wish to incorporate it.

  • Social Networking sites - just for FUN! I changed my last name the very next morning after the wedding! lol.

Now that I had my trustee TO-DO list together, it was time to actually get everything done! 

When the marriage certificate arrived, and my next day off came around I headed over to the Social Security office first.  In Florida, you have to change your SS Card before you do any other formalities.  Not sure exactly where to go?  You can find your closest SS Office near your area HERE.  So, off I went to the SS Office, planning to go to the DMV next and knock out everything I could in one day...but little did I know that's not quite how the system works.

The reason you go get your SS Card first is because you need it for everything else.  Once you apply for a new card, your new last name is changed into their system that night at midnight.  The lady that helped me at the SS Office told me to wait at least 24 hours before going over the the DMV, so I waited until the next day.  Luckily, before I drove over there something told me to give this DMV a call and see what their policy is for name changes.  I'm SO glad I did because although it takes 24 hours for your new name to be applied in the SS system, it takes a total of 48-72 hours to be applied to the system the DMV uses!  If I had gone the next day, I could have gotten all the way through the line and THEN have been told I was denied because the new name wouldn't have been "verified." Can you imagine?! That would have been awful.

Playing it on the safe side, I waited until my next day off which was 3 days later.  By this time I KNEW I had allowed enough time for my name to change in every system and we were good to go.  So...FINALLY....attempt 3 was a success and after a crazy day at the DMV I had a new license and a new address.  HALLELUJAH! Like I said before, these two things were the hardest of them all to get my new last name onto.  Now that I have them with me, it hasn't taken very long to change any of the other things on my list.

If you have any questions at all about changing your name, ask me & I will hopefully have an answer for you.  I'm not an expert on this, but at least I can say I've "been there & done that"...which is at least worth a blog post. Hope this helps!

Until next time,
Mrs. Presh <3

Monday, August 22, 2011

1 Month Anniversary!

Today, we have officially been MARRIED for one month!  The wedding went by in a blink of an eye, but the last month seemed to have gone by even faster...

For the last 30 days, Mr. Hess and I have embraced the married life, enjoyed setting up and organizing our home, and have finally gotten used to using the "husband" and "wife" terms in our every day vocabulary.  The last month has certainly been wonderful, but we have also endured some challenges quickly.  Mr. Hess went under the knife about two weeks ago for shoulder surgery and right when we got back from the honeymoon it was my new full time job to play Housewife, Personal Assistant & Nurse.

I loved all three of these roles.  In fact, I loved them a little too much.  A dream life for me would include being a full time housewife, mom & work for fun more than for money.  Of course it's a "dream"...but we are both really hoping that one day that will happen for us.  Being home with him for 3 days and nights really helped me expand my personal recipe book (in my mind, lol) and gave me an incentive to learn how to put actual meals from scratch together.  I spent 3 days organizing, cleaning, uploading honeymoon photos, making name it, I did it and yes, you can call me Susie Homemaker for it.  I've never known exactly what I've wanted to do as a career...and right now both of us are at a turning point in our lives where the sky is the limit.  We're both open minded and ready to take chances and even change zip codes or state license plates, if necessary.  Pretty crazy thoughts and discussions of endless possibilities have been going on over here.  But, don't get too excited - Mr. Hess is pretty much out of commission for at least 3 more months.  We'll still be doing what we're doing - settling in, and enjoying the married life here in Orlando for now.

To celebrate our 1 Month of being married together, Mr. Hess and I had a SUPER productive day!  First, let me preface some of the pampering part by letting you know something exciting:  

Tomorrow, we will be doing a "Rock the Dress" kind of photo-shoot together!  

My Bridal Bouquet, 2nd version: a little smaller (& cuter if you ask me!)
For a few more hours, we will get to re-live the wedding day and capture everything we didn't get to...

When the wedding day came around everything seemed to be perfect.  Of course there were a few things here and there that didn't go exactly like we wanted (there always will be)...but overall our wedding day was pretty much perfect to us except one thing: RAIN!  Right after the ceremony, it started storming and we weren't able to do any photos together outside.  This was a huge let down for both us and our photographer, because we had some fun shots in mind to try.  When Victoria (our wonderful photag) suggested we do a re-shoot we were all about it, and I can't believe the day is TOMORROW!

I'm not sure if I'm more excited about the photos we'll get for the shoot, or getting to get dolled up with my wedding day accessories and wear my wedding dress again!  All of those things seem pretty wonderful & certainly weren't expected.  After giving it a lot of thought, we decided I am going to do my own hair & make-up, scale down my bouquet to be a little smaller, easier to work with, and affordable, and provide Mr. Hess with a more fun & casual look than his rented grey tux he wore for the wedding day.  We wanted it to be obvious that this was a different day, since it was going to cost wayyyyyyy to much to try and re-create it.  This way, we are both looking forward to shooting some fun and more "us" shots, similar to our Engagement Photos, and won't be breaking our wallets (again!)

Getting the "bling" ready for our photos!

So, back to today - we started it off by both getting our hair done, and then headed over to the DMV, followed by the bank and...I am excited to announce I am OFFICIALLY a MRS. with a new last name and address and have the plastic to prove it! ;) 

To celebrate, we finished off the day with a trip to our fabulous florist, a pedicure and got our rings nice and shiny clean for the shoot tomorrow.  It's almost like I was getting ready for the wedding day all over again!

For a 1 Month Anniversary, it was very much an exciting "new life" day for me.  We've gotten a great start at a new life together and are celebrating by having more wedding photos done tomorrow...

That's a pretty perfect way to spend a day if you ask me! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011


From the get go, Mr. Hess and I wanted to have some kind of photo booth at our wedding reception.  At first, we were going to hire a standard photo booth that allowed both the guest and the Bride & Groom to keep a copy of each picture and create a guest book that guests could write messages to us in.  This would be a great keepsake for both us, as well as our guests, since we opted against having wedding favors.  We were searching and searching for what company to work with, when BAM...when we least expected it - here comes... PHOTOMINGLE!!!!

Me and my wonderful parents!

What the heck am I talking about?! You've probably seen the picture of this before in Wedding Hint #9, but just keep you on my page here check out this video:

We actually heard this new "must have" from a Shannon at Big City Catering.  We met with her when we were choosing a caterer and immediately when she saw our contemporary and fun style she said "you're going to hate me for showing you this...but you HAVE to have it at your wedding!"  And...of course, the second she explained what it was and showed us their pamphlet we both fell in love.

Photomingle is basically an iPad version of a photo booth:  You take the picture (as many as you want) and see right away what it looks like, write a message on it and print it out.  Also, the background is set to your wedding colors and you pick what message shows up on the bottom of every photo.  The package we chose included printed out photos for guests to take home as well as an instant upload to Facebook!  It might sound a little complicated, but to get this automatic upload all I had to do was click a link from my e-mail inbox and sign into Facebook to accept the photo album the day before.  Towards the end of the wedding planning process, the budget was NOT forgiving, but we decided this was a MUST HAVE and worked our way around getting it there!

Pose, Shoot, Write, Print & Upload!!! HOW FUN!!!

Throughout the night, we had so many people come up to us and tell us how fun the photo booth was. To us, that was the greatest affirmation we could have heard on deciding against the favors and for this instead.  I'm SO glad we decided to do it!

Compared to a regular photo booth, the price was considerably higher...but if you ask me, it was well worth it.  No one had really seen it before, the look of it couldn't have complimented our venue better & everyone had so much fun with it.

And the best part?!  All of these photos were instantly uploaded to my facebook photo album page.  If someone wanted another copy of their photo or wanted it to be online, it was as easy as clicking on my profile page.  Something I really enjoyed doing the morning after the wedding was browsing through all of the photos - and some of our guests got reallllllly creative!

Oh, brother & sister relationships...

This is pretty good...

My beautiful (& hysterical) Bridesmaids!

There were SO many good ones & funny ones, but those are some I wanted to give some props to! :)

It's pretty clear this is one of the things Mr. Hess and I are SO GLAD we booked for our big day.  Even though the decision to book them was pretty last minute, their staff was completely accommodating and helpful every step of the way.  We would recommend Photomingle to anyone and everyone getting married, or even just having an event that calls for any kind of photo documentation ;)

Alright you twisted my's a few more:

Just in case you were worried...

Nice HBSH Monogram! :)

Silly bridesmaids.

Don't be surprised if this gem shows up at something else of ours down the road...

A night we'll always remember! <3

Until next time,
Mrs. Presh

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Seating Chart Game

In the previous post I mentioned that I'd be letting a lot of "cats out of the bag" by sharing secret projects Scott and I had worked on hard for our wedding day...and here's a FUN one!

When it came to the seating chart for our guests, we really wanted to do something creative and interactive.  At first, we were going to just use our favorite movie quotes about love on each table, but then we conspired together and came up with a great scavenger hunt type of game for our guests to play during cocktail hour in order to find where exactly they were supposed to sit.

Let me explain our Seating Chart Game:

Each guest's name was listed in a group of ten under a popular quote from one of our favorite movies.  As a guest, you were to look for your name and then identify what movie the quote it was under is from.  We tried to match certain movies with certain personality types, or to people who would know what movie that particular quote came from.  The whole point of this was to give the guests something to do during cocktail hour, while Scott and I finish up our wedding photos.

It was finally the wedding week and we had to put this thing together.  I'm not going to lie...this project turned into a pretty big headache pretty quickly, but that's what I've always heard about seating charts - regardless.  So, why not make it fun?!  It was a Monday night when we started this puppy and it probably took about 5 good hours for 2 nights to finish it off.  Now, this time wasn't ALL on the craft part...but also on placement of our guests, which can take FOREVER!

Night 1:  

We get into the nitty gritty.  It was finally time to decide who sat where with who.  This can be a nightmare if you have a ton of guests who don't know each other, or if you have a large number, but thankfully our guests were extremely easy to work with and pair up.  At least half of the room knew each other, if not more than that, so once we paired people up it didn't take that long to place them at certain tables.  Since we had a sweetheart table for us, we decided to use the tables surrounding the dance floor for Bridal Party and our immediate families only.

After being a bridesmaid in a few weddings now, I have preferred to sit at a round table with my date and other members of the Bridal Party, rather than sitting at a head table...simply because you're sitting next to people in one straight line and you can't really talk to anyone but the 2 people next to you.  PLUS, OUR Bridal Party was the size of a kindergarten classroom, so adding dates to that and sitting everyone at one table just wasn't an option.

closeup of the chart - but overexposed so you can't see names!

We had 8 main tables for family and Bridal Party and the rest were filled with our wonderful friends.  I know people think placement of certain people or certain tables is for a reason, but honestly it's NOT!  I felt bad placing some friends in the corners of the room...but SOMEBODY has to sit there!  We tried to seat everyone as fairly as possible, and realized our reception was probably the type that people wouldn't be sitting in their seats for very long anyways, so we concentrated more on getting the game together than worrying about hurting people's feeling with something that's truly inevitable.

The first night we spent pairing people up, placing them at tables, and picking out our 20 favorite movies to use quotes from.

Night 2:

The second night was all about putting it all down on our chart and making the game happen.  It was hard to pick just 20 movies, and agree on them with Scott because we are both HUGE movie buffs.  We finally decided on our bunch and here's some of my favorite highlights:

"Wawawewa...I Like You!"
"Slippery Little Suckers."
"Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner!"

Can you think of the movies any of those fabulous quotes came from?  Well, just in case you have no idea we made a CHEAT deck of cards with the corresponding movie to movie quote on each one.  (By the way, the first one was from Borat, the second was Pretty Woman & the third was Dirty Dancing...all of MY FAVS!!)

We gave a copy of these movie to movie quote cheats to our wedding coordinator, as well as kept it hanging on the seating chart itself.

Here's an example of a movie quote that would be above the guest's name.

Flip the card over to see what movie it came from.
Here's the CHEAT cards we had hanging on the chart.

Once you found your movie, then it was time to look for your table!  Each movie was attached to the back of a picture of us found on each table.  We decided to use our Engagement Photos for all of the tables, except for our family tables, which my mom requested we use our Baby Photos for instead.  Since we had all of them scanned and out from our slide show, I thought it was a great idea and turned out absolutely adorable.

The front had our pictures and the back had the movie covers.

Pretty simple, once you get it - RIGHT?!

Find your name under a quote, think reallllllly hard about where that quote came from, (use the cheat sheet if you can't think of it), get the movie & look for the table with your movie on it!

This was the title on the top of the chart...GOOD LUCK! :)

We thought this idea was genius and was a fun way to keep our guests entertained throughout cocktail hour.  At first, my parents thought it might be too confusing for guests, but Scott stood strong on making this happen and we figured out a way for them to cheat and ask the wedding coordinator as we were eventually all on board.  The only bad thing about this adventure is that Scott and I completely missed it! :( Of course, that's what it was designed for, but we were still kind of sad we didn't see all of the action and chaos throughout the game.

So there you have it!  Most people use table numbers or love quotes, but we decided to use a flipping scavenger movie quote hunt to seat our guests.  Go figure!  Now you can see why I barely did any posting in July...THIS was the kind of stuff we were working on!

From what we heard, the game was fun and definitely kept people busy.  I can't wait to see the video during cocktail hour - and how the guests perceived it.  As a guest, the last thing I want to do is sit there waiting on the Bride & Groom while looking at my watch thinking "when is this thing going to start?!"

If you're getting married, I would suggest doing something fun and entertaining during cocktail hour, and just know that you're going to miss out on it.  Believe me, it might be a bit of a headache at first, but if you plan your time accordingly your guests will thank you in the end.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adding the Irish & Scottish "touch"

I had been debating back and forth on whether or not to post on the next subject before the wedding, and finally decided it would have to wait until after the big day was over.  There were so many special touches Scott and I put into our wedding, it was hard for me not to share them ALL with you before the wedding day, but I'm excited to say that I can finally share it ALL now, post by post!

First on the revealing list: Wedding Hint #8
What the heck was that thing?!

From day 1, I really wanted to incorporate the Irish heritage into our wedding. Since Scott's heritage is Irish & Scottish, he was totally on board with this idea.  Originally, we wanted to get married around St. Patrick's Day and have different shades of green and white as our colors, green hydrangeas, Irish food...the whole 9.  But, timing for us & a wedding in March was impossible.

Knowing this, we both agreed to incorporate little things here and there that represented both, but mostly the Irish heritage.  So I hopped onto the computer and started googling "Irish Wedding traditions" and found several ideas right away.

My DIY Handfasting Cord

My favorite Irish touch at our wedding was the unity ceremony called Handfasting.  We really, really wanted a different way to unite our lives during the ceremony than the standard unity candle, or sand ceremony and when I found this I knew it was something we HAD to do.

First, I hopped online to try to find the perfect cord for us...and big surprise, I didn't find exactly what I wanted so I made my own!  It isn't that difficult to make your own cord...but unfortunately, I threw our cord together literally RIGHT BEFORE the ceremony rehearsal (literally) and didn't get to document putting it together like I wanted to.'ll see how fast the wedding week you took "off" of work goes and how many last minute projects to truly have! For this reason, I don't have step-by-step pictures, but what I can tell you is what you would need to make a handfasting cord:

3 cords - 3 different colors
clear duct tape
embellishments (optional)

When I first tried to put a cord together, I started with ribbon only - I picked out 3 different types of each color (pink, green and white) and I planned on braiding those together first to create my own cords.  After a few failed attempts, I decided to call that task quits and search for actual colored cords.  I found the 3 colored cords pictured at The Sewing Studio in Maitland.  You might be able to find similar ones a JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels, but I'm not positive on that one.

Hanfasting cords have to be long enough to wrap around each persons wrist, so you should get anywhere between 4 - 6 feet of cording.  Knowing I had crosses at the bottom to hang, I opted for a yard and a half (or 4.5') and it turned out to be the perfect length.

Next, I put the 3 cords side by side and put a heavy book on top of them so I could braid it together.  This was not challenging, but tricky to keep the same look throughout the entire be sure to see how much length and width you're giving each part of the braid.

When I finished braiding, I took some clear duct tape and wrapped it around the two edges of the cord.  I wanted to add dangling crosses to each side, so this is where I put part of the pink cord I didn't use through the loops of both crosses, dangled them on each end, and taped extra pink cording to the end of each side.

I got these beauties at Michaels in the beading department and thought they were the perfect addition!

Since taped on dangling crosses doesn't look the prettiest, this is where the ribbon comes in.

Cut two strips about 4 inches long of your ribbon of choice and wrap one around each tape gathering.  I used more clear duct tape to fasten the ribbon on the back of the cord, but ideally if I had more time I would have preferred to have sewn it instead.  And, VOILA!

Your very own DIY Handfasting cord:
Although, it's only tied to me.

We knew our guests wouldn't really understand right away what exactly what we were doing tying ourselves together with this cord, so we decided to explain it in our ceremony program which read:

"An ancient Celtic tradition practiced when a couple could not afford a formal ceremony, or when a priest could not be found, this involves literally tying the couple together by the wrist in a sign of unifying their lives.  A couple would traditionally only be bound for one year and a day, sparking the phrase 'forever and a day,' although we plan to be bound for life.

They will be wrapped by a cord of three ribbons: a green one representing him, a pink one representing her, and a white one representing Christ.  The pastor will form a unity symbol around their wrists with a cord, and then he will tie it in a knot to seal the unity.  This is also where the phrase "tie the knot" originated."
When we explained the idea of Handfasting to our Pastor, he loved what it represented but also saw it as a challenge when it came to tying the thing correctly!  Luckily, he practiced on the Groom & a groomsmen before the ceremony, so it went perfectly.

Another Irish tradition I had on the big day was incorporating things into my wedding day attire.  It is thought of to be good luck for the bride to wear blue on her wedding day, but I wasn't too sure about that we added blue a different way - in all of our bouquets!  In my bridal bouquet, as well as in all of the bridesmaids bouquets sat 2 blue pins: 1 representing me and 1 representing him, standing together.

closeup of the pins...but that's not where they were in the bouquet.

Next, I found that it is also tradition for and Irish bride to wear her hair in a braid.  Since I wanted to wear my hair mostly down, I though this might be somewhat of a challenge.  It took me the LONGEST time to decide on a hairstyle...since I kept going back and forth on whether I wanted a flower, a broach, a headband or what...and how to incorporate a braid into it.

With the help of my bridesmaid Lauren & my hairstylist, I decided on using fresh lime green orchids to pull it half up. On that side of my hair that was back, we put 2 finely braided pieces that met in the middle at the flowers.  Not many people would probably notice this, but when pictures finally come back I'm sure it will be noticeable at least in a photo or two - and I knew it was it made me happy.  Once again, the braids represented 1 for me, 1 for him and the two of us standing together.

Here I am with 2 of my Irish bridesmaids - and...shamrock mints

Last, we wanted to have the Scottish heritage represented as well, so the best way we thought of doing that was having a bagpiper!  He was great, and played during our guests arrival to the church ceremony, as well as on their way out to the reception.  He was in full Scottish garb, and we got a lot of compliments on him.

Honestly, I didn't get to see this...because I was at the church earlier than he was supposed to show up - but from what pictures I've seen, he looked great!  Unfortunately, I don't have any of my pictures back yet to share ours with you, but you get the idea:

Little by little, I'm starting to learn more about the Irish & Scottish culture and next on my list for of expanding my new heritage is to learn how to cook some of their famous dishes!

I'm sure Scott wouldn't complain...Shepard's Pie is one of his favorites and it alllllllmost made the appetizers list.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Honeymoon Album & Video Reel

It's safe to say that Scott and I have turned into quite the "documenters" through our wedding planning process.  Once the honeymoon rolled around, we didn't want to miss a beat - although there could have literally been 50 more videos.  I've said it a gazillion times to anyone who's asked me about it, but Costa Rica was PERFECT!!!! It was so hard to leave, which is why we took over 500 pictures and over 25 videos.

In case you missed it, read all about our honeymoon adventures in Our Costa Rican Honeymoon & Our Costa Rican Honeymoon...cont'd.

I've been home for the last few days taking care of the Mr. (he recently underwent shoulder surgery), so I've finally had some time to finish up my Honeymoons posts & compile a honeymoon video reel to share with all of you. Yesterday, I spent most of my day working on that & Our Honeymoon Album when I wasn't playing nurse.  I've actually enjoyed my time at home and would love to be a full-time housewife and mother one day (hint, hint).  Back in February, I bought Mr. Hess and I a Valentines present and posted all about it.  You can find out what I'm talking about from Our Honeymoon Album post.

I am very happy to say my hard work paid off and the album is officially finished!

To make your own album, you need:

  • Honeymoon (or different themed Album)
  • 20 pages worth of your favorite pictures
  • Double-sided tape (or a glue stick)
  • scissors.
I like to do albums in layers.  It's fun for me to add the stickers and sayings to each page, but first I cut out all of the pictures and put them in order to tell the story.  Once the pictures are in place, I use the double-sided tape to stick them to the pages.  The beauty of using the tape is that you can always change the position of the pictures if you decide to change your mind or want to move things around.

Once the pictures are in place comes the fun part...adding all of the cute stickers, picture borders and sayings.  Just try not to use TOO many on one page, or it can start to look cheesy... ;)

Here's how mine turned out:
The first cover page for our album.

And, to wrap up all of this Honeymoon's the video I've put together. I didn't get to include the beginning driving adventures, as that video was 5 minutes on its own. 

Yeah....we're big dorks, but entertaining, right?!  ;)

Where was YOUR dream honeymoon destination?
What was your favorite excursion or event?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Costa Rican Honeymoon...cont'd.

The first few days of our honeymoon couldn't have been better.  Besides the drama of getting the rental car and the traffic getting to Guanacaste, it was EVERYTHING I pictured to start of our week, and then some.  Heading into the final days of our honeymoon, I was excited to hit Tamarindo Beach, hit the cloud forest of Monteverde and then head back to San Jose.

Day 3: Tamarindo Beach
Loved this day on the beach!

After finally getting to sleep in a little, we grabbed breakfast (I still taste the amazing buffet now...) and hit the road to Tamarindo Beach.  We heard from the locals that this was the beach to go surfing at and was supposed to be a fun little town, so we wanted to check it out.  Mr. Hess really wanted to hit the waves, and I really wanted to hit my magazines on the beach, so it turned out to the perfect little relax day for us.

When we pulled up, I found where I wanted to hang right away and starting basking in the beautiful Costa Rican sun.  After about 10 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised by a gift from Mr. Hess: cocunut water, right from the tree!  Later on the drive out, we saw exactly where it came about a hard line of work - you should have seen how tall these trees were and the strategy this men were using to get them down.

Playa Conchal

After a full day of surfing, we wanted to explore this funky little town of Tamarindo and found a lot of great spots.  Eventually, we got back on the road to heading towards our resort, but wanted to check out some of the other beaches first.  They are all lined up in a row and only a few miles from one another so we actually got to see a few.  First, we went to Playa Conchal.  This was by far the most beautiful beach we saw, and I only got 2 pictures of it & then my camera died.  

I was upset that it died, but then REALLY upset when we parked and looked up.  The parking attendant pointed out a howler monkey in a tree right above us.  WOW!  We were captivated by the little guy eating, and then he told us to look over to the right to see a whole family of them.  There were at least 10 monkeys hanging out and swinging all over the place right over us!!! HOW COOL! It was just our luck that all of this was happening at the most beautiful beach, during sunset with NO camera.  Oh well, we will both  remember that moment of the trip...always.  

After a few minutes of watching the monkeys, we headed towards another few beaches to check them out.  My favorite after Conchal was Playa Flamingo!  And no, this is not because I'm from Florida.  This area reminded me of a Costa Rican-Miami and was filled with TONS of HUGE mansions and resorts all up and down on the coast.  I WISH I WISH I had my camera for some of this, but ohhhhh well.  We were determined that some celebrities had to have owned some of these compounds, and then later found out from our resort staff that in fact Pink & Mel Gibson are just a few that own houses there.

Our dinning friend, Burrito.

We then headed in to get ready for dinner and went to the pool bar, where some of the other honeymooners we met were.  We got to know some fun couples and shared stories about what to do and where to go on the trip.  At dinner, we also met a new furry friend of ours: Burrito.  Although he looked like a kitten, we later found out that he was about 4 years old and lives at the resort.  Right away when we saw him he stuck around from the beginning until the end of dinner, and (don't tell anyone) enjoyed some shrimp, scallops and sea bass! It wasn't long before some of his friends joined him and we ended up having a whole cat clan by the end of's a good thing we're cat people!

Day 4: Heading to the cloud forest in Monteverde
View from the Hidden Canopy Lobby

I guess it was time to say goodbye to Guanacaste.  It was bittersweet because I wanted to stay at the resort a little longer, but Mr. Hess was excited to get to the cloud forest.  I'm SO glad we decided to head that way and stay a night in Monteverde because where we stayed turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the whole trip!  Before we left, Mr. Hess googled places to stay in Costa, and we were looking for somewhere on the way back to San Jose.  The cloud forest just so happened to be on the way, but it was DEFINITELY an adventure to get up there!  

Remember the driving video on the previous post? Well...picture that x 1,000 - except trade the clouds and the darkness for bumpy, muddy, rainy & uncharted roads up the mountain.  EEK!  There were a few points of the trip up there where I thought we really weren't going to make it in our little Lancer.  Everyone else had SUVs and 4-wheel drives and there we were....putting up the mountain, barely, and after an hour of it we finally made it to the
Hidden Canopy Treehouses Boutique Hotel.

SO COOL! We are literally in a tree house!

The owner of this place is from California, and then one day had the idea of coming to her favorite spot in Costa Rica and starting her own Bed & Breakfast at the top of the mountains in Monteverde.  She came up with the brilliant idea of treehouses, and ever since they have been open (a little over 2 years) there has rarely been a night without patrons in the treehouses, which amazes me!  It's a fantastic stay, but the website doesn't do the place any sort of justice.  We were absolutely WOWed by the owner, Jennifer, her staff, afternoon tea (which is really cocktails and dessert...YUM!), and her hospitality.  Already, Mr. Hess and I want to book a trip back up there and this time we want to stay more than one night.

View from the lobby of afternoon tea.
Starting the coffee tour. was raining & I have shorts on!

The tree houses are all unique and built differently.  We stayed in the "Neverland" suite...which was absolutely beautiful.  The best part of all of them is the skylights on the tops, and I swear at 5am when we woke up to see the sunset the next morning I saw an animal.  She set up motion detector lights, exactly for this reason...and I saw something moving from tree to tree.  How cool!  We took some pictures and then it was time for our coffee plantation tour.

We had a great guide who is actually from this part of Costa & he took us to a plantation where they grow, pick, de-shell, grind, sift, make and sell coffee.  He went through the entire process with us and even let us partake in the business.  We learned so much on this tour, mainly that Americans don't know how to drink coffee.  Apparently, dark roast is the "burnt & leftover coffee"...and that's what espresso and cappuccinos are made out of.  Medium roast is better and light roast is the best of the best - but nearly impossible to get.
Who would ever know that?!

crushing the coffee beans out of their shells...
Then grinding the coffee!

Dinner in...and don't be jealous of the sweatshirt! lol

When we got back from the tour we had a great time with the owner, Jennifer and the other patrons of the tree houses.  The only thing I wasn't feeling here was the weather.  I didn't get the memo that it gets chilly at night in some parts of Costa, ESPECIALLY at the top of the cloud forest and all I had was bathing suits, sundresses and shorts for the 62 degree weather.  Luckily, Jennifer let Mr. Hess and I borrow her sweatshirts, (and yes...I would never actually chose to wear Winnie the Pooh on my own...) and embraced them.  Our night turned into ordering dinner in, lots of conversation, and sangria with everyone staying there.  It was nice to unwind a little bit and feel like we were home.

Day 5: Nature Tour in the Cloud Forest

Since the sun comes up about 5am and sets before 7pm, we missed a lot of the sunrises and sunsets...but we finally caught one and it was beautiful.  We were served a great breakfast and then it was time to head out for an animal tour of the forest with another great guide.  He new SO much about SO many different animals, we could tell he had been studying them for quite a while.  We headed towards the nature walk and on the way we stopped to see a 3-toed sloth!  It was sleeping (of course), but it was still cool to see.

When we arrived to the forest we were excited to see some more monkeys! Unfortunately, we didn't get to see them in this tour...but we did get to see TONS of different animals including bell birds, toucans, tarantulas, coatis, and more!  I loved exploring all of the animals with Mr. Hess, since we are both huge animal lovers and the scenery was UNREAL.  It was a great experience.

Caught the sunrise! So proud we were awake for it...
Kind of the Cloud Forest
Bell Bird.
Coati.  They are so cute!
We couldn't believe how close we got to them!

When the tour was over, we went back to our tree house and packed up to head back to San Jose.  We were sad to leave the cloud forest, but stopped by a great little Argentian restaurant on the way out.  They had the best iced tea and lemonades EVER - like half slurpee, topped with foam.  And don't even get me started on their hot chocolate!! Everything was so good and we topped our meal off with some delicious homemade chocolate.  YUM!!!

SO much chocolate, we bought a lot!

During lunch, it started pouring & we were nervous about driving down the mountain in that weather.  Here is a little highlight about how THAT went.

After a few detours (well, us jamming out to music and not hearing the GPS) we finally got to our hotel next to the airport in San Jose.  We decided to stay in the ever so understand Hampton Inn, since we splurged on the tree house and decided to go out for a nice dinner on our last night.  Our cocierge recommended this great place on the top of a mountain called "The View" and man....was their one!

We missed sunset, but it was still beautiful and it was so crazy because by the end of the dinner, all of the lights disappeared.  The clouds had moved up the mountain and once again we were faced by driving home in the clouds....big surprise!  Oh well, the food was "okay," but I enjoyed our last night out in Costa with my new husband.

Our last dinner in Costa.
It was so hard to get this pic...but in real life, this was AMAZING!

Day 6 was unfortunately the last morning in Costa.  We woke up for breakfast and headed out to the airport.  There were a few delays, but that was okay with us because we didn't really want to come home!  I've said it before and I'll say it again...Costa Rica was one of the COOLEST places I have ever been and it couldn't have been a better pick for our honeymoon.  There was relaxation for me and adventure for the Mr. and there was always somewhere to go, something to see, or something to do.  We have already talked about coming back and we think it would also be fun to come with a group of people and share all of what we learned with them.  My brother and brother-in-law frequent Costa almost every year to go surfing...and now I see why! It was ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.

We didn't want to leave!

And, once again...there were TOO many pictures I had to share, so I created another slide show: 

Well, I guess that wraps things up.  There's our honeymoon for you...absolute paradise.  It was just what we needed after a crazy year of wedding planning.  I'm really excited about putting together Our Honeymoon Album, I mentioned in an earlier post around Valentines Day and got the pictures printed out for it today.  But, whether there are pictures, videos, an album or not...we will have memories to last a lifetime and I am now so excited to start our new lives together.

PURA VIDA! (which means the pure - or good life).

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