first anniversary trip to Maine.

This weekend, Matt and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. (WHAT??) I’m sure it’s hard for any couple to believe that a full 365 days has passed since they got married, but with all of the changes we’ve gone through over these last few months since I started writing full-time, it feels like the time has flown by especially fast.

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I think Matt and I were both feeling a little anxious about whether or not we would be “anniversary people.” A few months ago, we planned a road trip up to southern Maine for the occasion, but we’ve been traveling so much lately that I personally was nervous that it would just feel like one more long stretch in the car! Guys, we were so wrong. We are totally anniversary people. I honestly loved my anniversary weekend almost as much as I loved my wedding (and if I’d been able to wear my dress again and dance around to old school jams with my best friends for even an hour over the course of this past weekend, I think it would have been a tie!).

It was so nice to get away from the city as a couple and to explore a place that was totally new for both of us. We spent time in three sweet little beach towns — Kennebunkport, Wells, and Ogunquit (which was our favorite!) — and loved them all. Even better than the beautiful sights we saw and the delicious food (and cocktails) we had, though, was the chance to actively reflect on the last twelve months and how much they’ve meant to both of us. Marriage has been such a gift. Even though Matt and I were together for almost seven years by the time we tied the knot last June, there really has been something so special and distinct about this past year. I loved kicking back at our little rental cottage to go through our wedding album, watch all of the footage from our wedding day (you can check out our trailer here!), and swap favorite memories. I also made a playlist of songs from our past eight years together, so we even got sentimental with our soundtrack.

Here are some photos from our anniversary weekend!

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Checking out the beach (and this guy) from the rocks in Wells.

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Dinner (and a ridiculously strong and delicious strawberry lemonade cocktail that knocked me on my you-know what) at Barnacle Billy’s in Perkin’s Cove. This may have been the highlight of the trip for me! 

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So much lobster!

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Ice cream excitement at The Scoop Deck. (All those flavors!)

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Boozy strawberry lemonade was the theme of my weekend.

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Walking on the beach in Oguinquit. The water was so cold — the Jersey shore girl in me wasn’t ready for that.

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Dinner at Earth in Kennebunport.

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Walking on the beautiful Marginal Way in Ogunquit before we left on Sunday morning. 

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When we got back to New York on Sunday night, we cut into the top layer of our wedding cake (which had been waiting in the freezer since last year) and exchanged cards and gifts. It was nice to have one more thing to look forward to after our getaway was over, especially since we sat in three extra hours worth of traffic on the way home!

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I still love the way a ring looks on that man! 

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I’m not a huge fan of cake, but I was happy to finally get a chance to try a few bites, since I only got a taste at the actual wedding. It held up almost perfectly in the freezer, so I’m glad we stuck with the tradition.

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Since it was our paper anniversary, Matt got me a full-year subscription to the New York Times, which is something I’ve been talking about for ages. I’m so excited! He knows me well (and he loves a theme). That candle is the same one we had burning when Matt proposed, and we only take it out for special occasions. : ) 

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I didn’t stick to the paper theme, but I did have this box made for Matt. For months before our wedding, he was on the hunt for a special box for us to keep our keepsakes, and he never found anything he liked, so I thought this was the perfect way to celebrate our first year. I worked with an amazing Etsy shop on it. I also had something carved on the inside, and the finished product is beautiful. 

 

So grateful for our weekend away, and more excited than ever to see what happens in year two of our marriage! xo

ALSO…

…don’t forget to enter this months’ giveaway! The prize is a bracelet from The Shine Project! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Thursday 5/29, so get those entries in ASAP!

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monthly goals recap –> january + february.

It’s (somehow) the start of a new month (how did that happen???), which means it’s time to check in on my goals for January and start looking ahead to February. Here’s a recap from last month:

  • Work on my book outline. √ YES! This process is still slow-going, but I’m happy to say that I’ve at least gotten started. I spent the first half of the month researching best practices for book outlines and then started working on research and an outline in Scrivener during the back half.  
  • Hit 45 blog posts. As of today, I have 43 posts (this is my 44th). While I didn’t technically “achieve” this goal, I’m not going to count it as a failure because I actually feel really good about the pacing of my posts this month! Would you like to see me post more or less often? Feel free to let me know in the comments below (or contact me elsewhere)!
  • Run 5 miles. √ YES! Half marathon training is officially underway!
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m very close to finishing my third book from the month of January, but I didn’t quite get there. To be fair, I’ve been reading pretty hefty books — but I need to do a better job at making time for reading, which is still one of my favorite things to do.
  • Confirm first copyediting/copywriting gig. √ YES!
  • Write another piece for Bustle √ YES! I pitched a few pieces to Bustle earlier in the month that didn’t quite land, so I wasn’t feeling too confident about this goal. At the very end of the month, though, I had an unexpected opportunity to write this piece about the late, great Mary Tyler Moore and what her show (and its theme song) means to me.
  • Break into at least one new outlet. Not this month!
  • Keep weeknights sacred. √ YES! I’ve been doing a much better job at this so far in 2017. Matt and I are really enjoying having more time together during the week just to spend time together and recharge.

Yesterday, I wrote out my goals for February in my Passion Planner (which I’m still loving, by the way). Here is what I’m hoping to accomplish in the next (short) month:

  • Successfully launch the Bulldog Yoga blog. I’ve been hired to launch and run the blog for an amazing yoga studio near Philadelphia. The content will go live in the middle of February, and I can’t wait to see all of our hard work come together! (P.S. If you live in or are visiting the Philly area, you should definitely check out Bulldog.)
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I got to spend a day at Bulldog Yoga earlier this week… how cute is Gracie, the mascot?

  • FINISH my book outline and start the writing process. I thrive off of organization and structure, so I’m hoping that once I have an outline in place, I’ll be able to jump into a first draft a bit more easily. The outline process is more labor-intensive than I would have expected, but I think it’s going to be key to my success on this project.
  • Write another piece for Bustlereally enjoyed working on my latest piece for their Feature section, so I’m definitely hoping to pitch and write for them again. Let’s get some momentum going!
  • Feel strong and healthy in my first month of half marathon trainingA few days into my training program, I’m already feeling great! My goal is to keep myself healthy so that I can make the most of my runs and lay good groundwork for the rest of my race prep.
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This morning’s run!

  • Continue pitching to Refinery29In early January, my essay about “quitting The Bachelor ran on this amazing site. I pitched a few more concepts to my editor there mid-month, and none of them were exactly the right fit, but I’m going to keep trying in February.
  • Break into a new outlet. The constant freelancer’s goal!
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m going to get my reading mojo back!
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The next books on my reading list. Let the record show that there is not a “light read” among them!

  • Finish our wedding album! I started creating our album (using the amazing photos from Bri Cibene Photography) in mid-January, and I’m hoping to have it finished and ordered by the end of February. I’m having so much fun making it — the only problem is that I want to include all of the pictures and there just isn’t space!
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Here’s a sneak peek at the first full spread of our album!

What are your goals for February! I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

my word for 2017.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all finished out the holiday season with plenty of good vibes and that your 2017 is already feeling fantastic : )

Over here, it’s (unfortunately) looking like the first sleepless night of the new year (ugh), but I’m super excited about this post, so I thought I would get a jump on it, anyway!

Last week, I blogged about the word I used to set up my intentions for 2016 (check it out here), and I spent some time over the last few days reflecting about my word for 2017. I feel really great about using this word as a theme, and I’m psyched to be sharing it with you here. I hope you’ll help keep me accountable! My word for 2017 is…

ABUNDANCE

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Although I couldn’t have predicted it back in January of 2016, last year ended up being about paring things down. As most of you know, once things calmed down a bit after our wedding in June, I was forced to think really hard about the parts of my life that I could strip down, dismantle, and simplify. I needed to take a super close look at the things that were most important to me, and in doing so, I had to give myself permission to let go of the stresses and expectations that were making me feel so crummy all the time (and for no good reason). Lots of reflection and worrying brought me here, to this brand new world of freelance writing and the completely different lifestyle that has come with it.

I am so grateful for last year’s focus on peace. Without it, I’m not sure I would have understood how important it was for me to make some life-shaking decisions over the past few months. But after a year of stripping down and simplifying, I’m ready to take a new approach to 2017, which brings me to: abundance.

My goal for the coming year is to approach every aspect of my life with the expectation that there are abundant opportunities open to me. I want to put in an abundance of work and (hopefully) reap abundant rewards as a result. I am ready to approach my professional life with new energy and commitment, and I don’t want there to be any limits on what I’m willing to do in order to grow my writing career. In my personal life, I want to seek abundance, too. I’ve always tended to feel like there is some sort of cap on the amount of joy allotted per person (it’s silly, I know) or on the extent to which every day can feel special or magical — and I’m going to work hard to change my perspective on that. In the three months since I’ve decided to totally switch gears, I’ve realized just how abundant the opportunities are for us to enjoy the simplest things in our daily routines. In 2017, I am going to try to squeeze every last bit of that goodness out of life. I also hope that I can grow to be more abundantly generous in my relationships this year.

I’ve never been one for excess, and while my focus on abundance isn’t really about going over the top, I do want to allow myself to work for, ask for, and enjoy MORE of all of the good things that life has to offer in the year ahead.

Last year, I wore a mantra necklace (from The Shine Project, of course) to remind me to practice peace. This year, I’ve decided to give myself a daily reminder right here on my desk — there’s no way to ignore it!

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Do you have a word in mind to inspire you in 2017? I’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments below!

(P.S. — I’m still bragging my latest byline over at Refinery29. Check it out here — this was a bucket list writing opportunity for me and I couldn’t be more excited about it!)

six months married.

Hello hello! I hope everyone had a beautiful weekend of holiday celebrations (no matter what you celebrate!) and that this last week of 2016 is off to a good start, whether you are still in holiday mode or back at the office. Matt and I are staying here in Pennsylvania for the rest of the week — it’s rare that he gets to take time like this off from work, so we are logging some serious down time and I am working from my parents’ kitchen table. Not a bad way to wind down the year!

In the excitement of the holiday season, I missed the opportunity to more officially celebrate our six-month wedding anniversary. I’m sure decades from now, when we’ve been married for years and years, these monthly milestones will seem less significant, but for now, half a year still seems like a pretty big deal! We’ve now been together for almost eight years, but this six-month anniversary of our marriage feels monumental compared with every other unofficial anniversary we’ve celebrated.

I never doubted that Matt would be an incredible husband, but he’s surpassed even my expectations. Neither of us expected that our lives would so drastically change in the months immediately after our wedding, but thanks to my major career shift, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the second half of 2016. Matt has never once questioned our ability to weather the changes as a team, and he’s never given me a reason to question myself, either. He’s consistently been my supporter, a mirror for my optimism — and on the days when it’s harder to feel confident, he’s strong, reliable, and reassuring. He is capable and selfless, and he makes me laugh for all the best (and weirdest) reasons. He has somehow helped to make what could have been a scary and overwhelming time feel comfortable and full of promise.

Ours is not a perfect marriage, and we are learning all the time. But I don’t think I could have possibly wished for a stronger foundation to build my adult life on, and I know I could not have wished for a better partner to do it with. Matt, thank you for standing by my side and loving me so well for these last six months. I can’t wait for the hundreds and hundreds of months still to come.

Check out some photos from our wedding below — I wasn’t blogging then, so this is my first chance to share them and brag a little about my brilliant friends at Bri Cibene Photography! Seriously, Bri and her husband Michael are incredible, and I can’t imagine anyone capturing our day better. You can check out her blog post about our wedding here, but keep scrolling for just a few of my (many) favorite images.

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Oh wow, I really miss this day : )

***One last note… don’t forget to enter the December giveaway so you can win this beautiful bracelet from The Shine Project!  All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner this Thursday, so you only have two days left! ***

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gratitude diaries #4: thanksgiving edition.

We’re still back in Pennsylvania, winding down celebrations for Thanksgiving.  As I mentioned last week, this is my favorite holiday, and it’s hard to believe that it’s already over!  We’ve eaten LOTS of delicious food, spent time with members of both sides of my family, and gotten a much-needed dose of the fall-on-the-verge-of-winter PA that I love so very much.

To wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend (and to help kick off the rest of the holiday season!), I’ve written a special edition of Gratitude Diaries (check out the last installment here).  Here are a few things that are especially meaningful to me on this cozy weekend:

  • FAMILY, FAMILY, FAMILY.  I know it’s sort of expected to put this at the top of the list — especially at this time of year — but it wouldn’t be ME if I didn’t!  I talked about this a bit in my first Thanksgiving post, but this holiday is particularly special for me as a child of divorce and blended families because I have a chance to see almost EVERYONE from both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family.  I love that the primary expectation for Thanksgiving is to spend quality time with each other, and I always try to soak in as much of that as I can.  Almost six months after our wedding, I feel especially thankful for my family and all of the support and love we felt in the months before and after we said “I do.”  I only wish that my in-laws didn’t live on the opposite side of the country so we could all spend more time together!
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Both sides of my immediate family.  (Photo credit: Bri Cibene Photography)

  • My hometown.  Both of my parents live in Bethlehem, PA, and while I love it year-round, it always feels extra special as we approach the holiday season.  Unsurprisingly, we are known as “The Christmas City,” so what’s not to love?  We tend to do a lot of driving back and forth between Brooklyn and Pennsylvania in November and December, but I hardly mind, because being here in my hometown makes it THAT much easier to get into the spirit of the season.
  • Gilmore Girls.  Like so many others, I was PSYCHED about the Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life revival hitting Netflix this week.  My mom and I spent six hours straight yesterday watching all four installments back-to-back, and even though I knew I was excited in advance, I had no idea how emotional I would feel about actually watching it!  The series has meant so much to me over the years (I think I’ve watched it all the way through about seven or eight times).  Along with the rest of the social media community, I’m still wrapping my head around how I feel about the new episodes (more on that later, maybe), but regardless, it was special to spend some time this weekend revisiting characters that feel like an extension of my family.  Did you watch the revival?  I’d love to hear what you thought about it in the comments section below!

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  • Our wedding video.  We got our wedding trailer about a month ago (check it out below!), but just before we left New York to come home for Thanksgiving, we got the FULL video.  It’s been really fun to relive our special day with family during our visit, and it’s been an extra reminder of how grateful I am for the events of these last few months.

I have another day or two left in Pennsylvania, and then it’s back to the city to buckle down on work for the rest of the year and get our little home ready for the holidays.  In other festive news, I’ve had some fun seasonal pieces posted to Brit + Co over the last few days, and you can check them out here!

***Don’t forget about my November giveaway, where you have a chance to win a beautiful pair of earrings from The Shine Project (pictured below).  To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on my most recent post!  I’ll be drawing the winner this coming Wednesday 11/30. ***

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gratitude diaries #3

I’ll be honest — this week has me feeling just a little disoriented.  I spent the majority of the week working from Pennsylvania where my family lives, and while I was able to use that time to get lots of work done and also do a little fresh-air-reboot outside of the city, the mid-week travel has set me off of my game.  The regular deadline cycle I’m now working on means that the weekends require work and research and Monday through Wednesday are the most intense days of writing, so I’m also adjusting to a bizarre-feeling schedule where Thursdays and Fridays are naturally a little quieter.  Add in a brewing cold virus and I’m just not quite myself.

What better way to perk up than a little Gratitude Diaries?  Here are a few things that I am feeling especially thankful for right about now:

  • Matt.  While I’m working hard to respect the privacy of my loved ones and avoid sharing TOO much about them here, it’s basically impossible for me to leave my husband out!  He jokes that he’s become the “star of the blog,” which is particularly funny given the fact that he’s about as removed from social media as you can possibly be in 2016.  I’m pretty sure that this is the only thing he reads online other than the news, which I guess I should take as a major compliment : ) ANYWAY, I’m going to embarrass him just a little bit today because he is at the top of my gratitude list.  We spent the majority of the week apart while I was working and spending time with family, and being away from him really reminded me of how much I value our little life here in Brooklyn.  Matt is my truest friend and such an incredible cheerleader for everything I do.  I’m pretty sure we both laugh about ten times more often when we are together than when we are apart, mostly about the silliest things.  I appreciate all of our weird conversations (last night, we may or may not have talked about the movie Babe for about 30 minutes) and inside jokes.  I feel really lucky to have him as my husband.
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My current favorite wedding photo (it changes weekly, thanks to the genius of Bri Cibene Photography).

  • Semi-sick days.  My throat started hurting while I was in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been feeling increasingly crummy ever since.  One of the awesome benefits of my old company was an amazing sick day policy, and I’m seeing that one of the both advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself is not having “official” days off when you’re not feeling well.  Especially in this early stage of building my business and body of work, I’m not comfortable taking a full day off just because I’m sick, but I’m also far from operating at 100%.  It feels weird to be taking breaks to relax and watch TV throughout the day, but I’m trying to be kind to my body and remind myself that, even though I may lose a few hours this week, I’m still getting a lot more work done than I ever did when I was sick at my corporate job.  I’m grateful for the flexibility I have to take better care of myself these days.  Feeling under the weather has also been a good reminder of how much I enjoy what I’m doing for work now, because it makes me sad that I’m having to scale back while I get better.
  • Good Girls Revolt.  Matt and I tend to have a really hard time finding TV shows that we can agree on, so most of the time we end up binge watching our old favorites over and over again.  I’ve never watched any of the Amazon original shows before, but “Good Girls Revolt” caught my eye last week, and we finally got around to watching the first episode last night.  I would absolutely recommend it!  I’m a big fan of music and fashion from the ’60s and ’70s, so the setting totally appeals to me, PLUS it’s about a bunch of fierce female magazine writers who I’m kind of obsessed with.  I’m especially grateful that we stumbled on this show just before the weather starts to get cold so we can start working our way through it as winter hibernation sets in.
  • My new laptop.  Somehow, my old MacBook Pro was still hangin’ in there from my college days, but it was realllllly starting to slow me down now that I’m working full-time from my home computer.  Thanks to contributions from my family members as my birthday gift, we were finally able to pick up my new MacBook Air this weekend!  Since I’m pretty frugal, it’s rare that I make big investments like this, which makes me all the more appreciative when it happens.  My old laptop was wasting even more of my time than I realized, and working on a better system is making it a lot more fun to come to work.  (PLUS, I ordered a really fun girly case that makes me smile every time I see it.)

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  • Lemongrass Grill.  Because we treated ourselves to take-out when I got back from Pennsylvania and this is my absolute FAVORITE place to order from, especially when I’m sick.  Thank you, Lemongrass, for magically making my throat feel a little better!

Happy weekend, everyone!  Is there anything that you’re feeling extra grateful for this week?

a brooklyn wedding weekend.

One of my best friends on the planet got married this weekend here in Brooklyn, and being part of this wedding was so magical that I just have to share it on the blog today!

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Katie and I met in eighth grade at Eyer Middle School in Macungie, PA.  I was the new girl, and even though we didn’t fall into the same circle right away, I could tell from sharing classes with her that she was funny, creative, authentic, and kind– some of my favorite qualities in a person to this day.  She blew everyone away at the end of that school year in her starring role in the musical, and by the time we got to high school a few months later, she was already a superstar in our theater department.

As juniors in high school, we were both lucky enough to land in a homeroom/first period class working on the student-run TV news program– ETV.  We were chosen as part of that class for both junior and senior year, and the rest is pretty much history.  Something about the chemistry in that small class brought a group of us together in a really special way, and ten years later, my ETV friends are still some of my closest.

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Katie and I on our last day of high school! (June 2008)

Fast forward to 2012, and Katie and I had both moved to New York City, where we fell in love with each other all over again.  Simultaneously, I was falling in love with Matt (another Eyer Middle School grad!), and she was swept off her feet by her (now) brand new husband, Sean.  Katie and Sean live about fifteen minutes down the street from us here in Brooklyn, and having them as neighbors feels like having family nearby.  Reconnecting with Katie and becoming “grown up” best friends has been one of the biggest blessings of my life here in New York, which made it all the more meaningful when we got to share our engagements and wedding planning over the last year and a half.  Katie was a bridesmaid in my wedding in June, and I was thrilled to stand up with her this weekend, too.  Her special day was so beautiful and so perfectly Katie, and I was thrilled that she gave me the OK (all the way from her Hawaii honeymoon!) to share a bit about it on the blog.

As we knew she would be, Katie was a drop-dead-gorgeous bride.  Seriously, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone look more like a movie star in real life.

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Katie and Sean’s fabulous friend Samantha Sleeper designed her stunning custom wedding dress.  It was the perfect blend of high fashion Cinderella, magical mermaid, and glam city bride, and I loved how much it reflected my friend’s personality.  We couldn’t take our eyes off of her, especially on the sidelines of her iconic bridal portrait shoot at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

After photos, we were whisked off in a trolley (with music provided by Sean’s groomsmen) to The Bell House for the ceremony and reception.  After months of swapping wedding plans with Katie, I knew she had assembled something special, but she really outdid herself and exceeded all expectations.  The whole scene felt enchanted, with bistro lights and Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling and creeping vines down the aisle and around the room.  Katie and Sean were married (!!!) in a deeply personal ceremony, and within an hour the room was transformed into a mega-cool party, featuring amazing live music, fried chicken served family style, and a make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae bar.  We danced until our feet hurt, and it felt so good to be reunited with my old friends for such a fun occasion.

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I’m really grateful for these wonderful people, and the way we’ve continued to support each other through major life changes and celebrations.  One of my favorite things about this wedding was the way it made me feel such a sense of community, and I feel lucky to be a part of this community of friends still going strong after a decade, a community that now includes significant others who have learned to appreciate our sense of humor and high volume.  I also felt a strong sense throughout the day of my community here in New York City, and of the community that happens naturally when you meet people who love the same people who you love.  All told, it was a day full of warm and fuzzy feelings, and I am still overwhelmingly happy that I had a chance to be part of it.

These sneak peek photos from Katie’s wedding photographer Lauren Gibson Photography capture the glamour and Brooklyn edge of the whole day.  Honestly, have you ever seen anything cooler?

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Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Hutchy.  Wishing you many years of the same vibes of love, happiness, and community that surrounded all of us at your wedding.  I love you to the moon, beautiful friend!