Tips for Visiting Versailles + an overnight at Waldorf Astoria Versailles!

Tips for Visiting Versailles + an overnight at Waldorf Astoria Versailles!

Tips for Visiting Versailles + an overnight at Waldorf Astoria Versailles!

Ohhhhhh Versailles!!!! Be still my heart!!! I know you’ve seen all the pictures from the amazing gardens to the Hall of Mirrors but pictures do not do this place any justice at all. I remember as a little girl day dreaming while pouring over books and pictures of Versailles. My parents had visited when I was an infant (yes they left me at home) and both my mom and dad would talk about how out of this world Versailles it is. Let me tell you – visiting in person does not disappoint. When we were in France for our honeymoon #2 adventure we decided to take a full day to visit Versailles and even do an overnight! Here are some of my tips for visiting Versailles + an overnight at Waldorf Astoria Versailles! Yes you should definitely fit in an overnight if you can.

Versailles is absolutely gigantic! The chateau and all it’s grounds, fountains, & gardens to also include the Palaces of Trianon are spread out over 800 hectacres which is roughly 1,976 acres. So there truly is a lot to take in. You could walk for hours or days just through the gardens alone. Planning ahead of time your “plan of attack” will insure that you get to see all the good stuff. And really there is no bad stuff.

Highlights-

* Stay overnight at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace! You get to stay in the lap of luxury for one night and have The Palace of Versailles right in your back yard. The hotel is absolutely gorgeous and everything is impeccable. No detail is spared and the staff is of course amazing too. We rented a car in Paris and drove straight to the hotel. It was kind of funny rolling up in an economy rental car with all the crazy luxury cars pulling in around us. Ballin’ on a budget right!?

A little fun back story on the hotel- It was opened in 1910 and the Treaty of Versaille was drafted here in 1919! It’s one of the most luxurious hotels in the Paris area, has been a favorite haunt for famous personalities, kings and queens, and acted as a military base during two world wars. I love some good history!!! If walls could talk…

Our room was on the top floor and beyond words.  We had a window that opened up to a view of forest and farm land that was studded with sheep and goats. Our room was laid out with chocolates, linens, and a hand written note welcoming us. I was especially in love with the bathroom and the super deep separate tub. I took a long hot bath in the evening. Some Harry Potter, red wine, and these amazing cookies we picked up a little market.

* Buy your tickets to visit the Palace ahead of time and choose a timed entry. I cannot stress this enough!!!! You will want to book the passport with timed entry. You will save HOURS of time and I’m not even joking a little bit. The line for people who didn’t have a timed entry was hundreds of people deep. We walked to the front of that line and to the left and basically cut in front of the whole line with our timed entry tickets. Winner Winner. My husband was impressed with my research skills!

Make sure you check the official website for Versailles and read over all the information. The Palace is closed on Mondays and if you want to enjoy the Musical Fountains Shows and the Musical Gardens  you will have to visit April 4th to November 1st. Also during the summer on Saturday nights you can discover the Gardens of Versailles differently with the Night Fountains Shows. So depending on the time of year you visit you will have different opportunities.

We visited in late summer and chose to visit the Palace on a Sunday with a 3pm timed entry to the Palace. I pre-purchased the Passport with timed entry with Musical Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens. At the time it was 27 Euros a ticket. Well worth it to have timed entry and access to everything.

* The Palace is gorgeous and you don’t want to miss it! Depending on how much you want to read while walking through you can do it fast or slow. We are not big lingerers so we bypassed a lot of the other tourists who were reading every sign. The Hall of Mirrors is certainly a sight to behold! It is breath taking and walking through it is worth the whole price of admission in my opinion. I cannot even imagine having been there back in the time. It’s crazy!

* Take your time strolling through the gardens and seeing all the fountains. We got a map at the Versailles welcome office and decided which ones we really wanted to see before we aimlessly wandered. You could spend days in these gardens. You can also rent golf carts or ride a little train to different parts of the grounds. The wait for the golf carts was a bit long and the price wasn’t cheap so we skipped that. In retrospect we should have bitten the bullet! We could have zoomed through all the gardens!

* You must visit The Petit Trianon – which was the estate of Queen Marie Antoinette. It is also beautiful and has gorgeous gardens and grounds. Easiest way to get there from The Palace is to hop the little train. It will save you some walking time for sure!

* If you’re staying at the Waldorf Astoria is just a short walk from The Petit Trianon to the hotel! Like I said it’s in the back yard 🙂 It’s an absolutely lovely walk past gardens, through the trees, past farm fields with herds of goats, and more.

* We stayed overnight on a Sunday and found that there were not a lot of restaurants open. You would have a lot more options on a weekday so just keep that in mind. However we found a lovely French cafe for lunch and then ate really good Chinese in the evening.

* You could eat a grand breakfast at the hotel (which is VERY pricey I might add) or you can take a little morning walk to the local boulangerie / patisserie – which is what we did. Oh my!!! I made it a point to try something new every time I ordered a pastry. It was so fun standing in line with all of the locals and to order something in my not so good French. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. At this particular bakery there was a woman in front of us who didn’t have enough money to buy everything she wanted so she kept putting things back. When we figured out what was going on we gave the cashier some change to cover her purchases. With the language barrier we didn’t know her situation but felt compelled to help. She thanked us endlessly and the cashier smiled at us. Remember to always be kind and help where you can – even on vacation! Kindness knows no language barrier.

* Depending on your plans for the next day you could further explore the grounds of Versailles, walk around the city, or lounge outside or inside the hotel. We decided to pack it up after breakfast and start on the rest of our France adventure! However we could have easily spent another full day to see everything and fully take it in. It’s that massive and impressive for sure. There are cute shops for shopping and there’s always the impressive spa at the Waldorf!

I hope my tips for Visiting Versailles + an overnight at Waldorf Astoria Versailles is helpful to you! It’s one place you won’t be sorry you visited that for sure!!! I told my husband that I can totally understand the French Revolution after seeing the opulence that the royalty lived in. It was so surreal.

If you’re visiting Versailles than you might also be visiting Paris! I have a 5 days in Paris detailed itinerary that offers some great tips for visiting Paris! Including some ideas of where to stay, what to see, and a custom google walking map to see all of Île de la Cité!!

5 Days in Paris Detailed Itinerary

5 days in paris detailed itinerary

I could gush on and on about Paris and my husband’s and my French adventure! It was our second honeymoon, so romantic, and an absolutely perfect vacation. I believe that all of my planning really paid off and led to our trip being such a success. The trick is finding the right balance of seeing all the things you want to see but not running around like a crazy person and then not enjoying your trip. Before we left for our adventures I planned a fairly detailed itinerary. I created a quick-glance master sheet and then day-by-day detailed plans as well. I even made a few custom google walking maps! I’ve had so many people ask about our trip details that I decided to share my 5 Days In Paris Detailed Itinerary. I even included an optional 6th bonus day in Versailles.

When planning this trip to Paris I used my 5 Essential Vacation Planning Tips which you can read all about in my previous post HERE. These tips work for any trip you plan! I’ve used these exact same steps to plan a visit to Nashville, The Bahamas, and now Hawaii too (as well as many other locations.) It might be helpful to read those tips right after reading this 5 Days In Paris Detailed Itinerary post so you can decide what your must-dos are on your next trip!

Disclaimer  before I lay out my 5 Days In Paris Detailed Itinerary:

  • I’m not including the travel days here in the day count. We left on a Monday from Washington DC on a direct flight to Paris and landed at CDG (Charles de Gaulle airport) the following morning. So Day 1 begins the morning we arrived.
  • We spent a total of 15 days in France this is just the itinerary for Paris.
  • Obviously what was super important to us might vary with what is important to you to see and do. Keep this in mind when reading and know you can easily swap some things out!
  • I kept wiggle room in the itinerary in case we wanted to veer off the plan or wanted to linger anywhere. Always pad your time so you’re not rushed!!
  • Even though there is some wiggle room this is a very full 5 days. Lots of walking! Lots of sightseeing! Lots of wine!

Day 1 –

  1. Arrive in Paris! We arrived at 7:30am (perfect time to arrive in order to start day one off with a bang!). We made our way from CDG to our hotel by G7 taxi. I need to say here that taxis in Paris are legit the nicest taxis I have ever seen. Everyone we rode is was a Mercedes, super clean, and smelled good. It almost felt a bit luxury riding in a taxi. Do yourself a favor and download the G7 Taxi app to your phone before leaving. It’s so very helpful. For our first 3 days in Paris we stayed at: Holiday Inn Paris – Gare de Lyon Bastille. Such a wonderful location located conveniently next to the Gare de Lyon train station. So easy to grab the metro and bonus points Le Train Bleu restaurant is here. So pretty!!
  2. Check into your hotel or at least store your bags so you can start seeing Paris!! The staff was so friendly and welcoming. We stored our bags and I changed my clothes. I had been traveling overnight and wanted to start fresh for the day in Paris. Be smart and pack an outfit in your carry on or right on top in your suitcase for an easy change. I also had packed some deodorant wipes and skin refreshing wipes so I did a little wipe down in the bathroom while changing. Felt like a new woman ready to take on Paris!!
  3. Grab some lunch somewhere close to your hotel. We walked around the block and found the cutest little épicerie. We ordered a sandwich to split (ham and butter on a baguette + cheese) and I had my first café in Paris!! There were two little bistro tables in front of the store and we sat down there to enjoy our food and take in the fact that yes we were indeed in Paris.
  4. To get an overview of the city take a 2CV tour!!! I surprised my husband with this and we both absolutely loved our drive drive around the city. Our driver was awesome and took us on a two hour tour around Paris in the cutest car ever. It gave us a great overall view of the city and helped us know the layout. Highly recommend!!
  5. Head back to the hotel to shower, change, take a cat nap if you need it. This is where the extra built in time comes in handy! You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of extra built in chill time!
  6. Go to Montparnasse Tower for sunset. We purchased our tickets ahead of time so we didn’t have to stand in any lines. The tower has the highest viewpoint of Paris and is divine at sunset with a 360 degree rooftop view. So beautiful!!!! I successfully navigated us here on the metro + a little walk. A little metro tip – download the Paris Metro App before you go. Oh my goodness it made our lives sooooo easy figuring out the metro system and what trains and stops to take.
  7. Eat dinner at Bouillon Chartier in Montparnasse. You can walk there right from the tower…it’s just a few blocks. They do not take reservations but get people in and out fast. The restaurant is beyond beautiful!!! All of my Art Noveau dreams in one restaurant. Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling. Also as a note – if you haven’t been to Paris before keep in mind that at restaurants and cafes you may very well be sat right next to someone else. Like shoulder to shoulder next to someone. They make use of all their space in restaurants so keep in mind that “personal space” is something you will have to kick out the door. Eat the Duck Confit -it was so good!!!! Also one thing you’ll find is that good wine is cheap in France! So grab a bottle of Burgundy and sip away.

Day 2 –

  1. Get up early for a sunrise photoshoot!!! Yes we planned this way in advance and hired the perfect photographer – Brian of French Gray Photography. We met Brian at the Trocadero just before sunrise and spent several hours together getting some of my very favorite photos of Mike and I ever. This did mean I had to get up super early to do my hair and makeup and we took at taxi there. I honestly didn’t want to get on the metro with a full on evening gown. We started  photos with the Eiffel tower in the background then headed over by the Louvre to do some more photos. Such an amazing experience and I can’t recommend Brian more.
  2. Head back to hotel to change clothes and regroup.
  3. Go on a covered passages walking tour. Paris has some of the most beautiful and historic covered passageways. When researching I found Wanderlust K blog and loosely used the author’s covered passages walking tour. You can find that HERE. We were so hungry by this point so as soon as we got off the metro and started on our journey we started to look for food. We found a quaint little cafe and ate outside to enjoy Paris and the sunshine. I of course caffeinated for the walking tour with some espresso. Yum! Like I said we loosely followed the walking tour, adding in some spots and avoiding some others. Must sees were: * La Mere de Famille – the most beautiful chocolate & candy shop you have ever seen!!!! Make sure you buy something to eat on your walk. *Passage Verdeau – covered arcade built in 1847, an antique lovers paradise with many antique bookshops & vintage postcards. * Passage Jouffroy- interesting window displays, it even has a hotel, museum, & a nightclub.* Passage des Panoramas- full of vintage stamp & coin shops * Galerie Vivienne- very famous passage with a variety of shops, luxury goods, & adorable used bookstores. Overall the passageways are just gorgeous and so different than what you might find in America. It’s a nice little stroll through the city for sure.
  4. Stroll through the Jardin de Palais Royal. It’s such an iconic little garden. The trees are sooo cool. Can you imagine being the tree trimmer? Full time job for sure.
  5. Walk by the Palais Royal which was a former royal palace dating back to the 17th century. It’s rather famous for its black and white columns. Perfect spot for a photo!
  6. Now here’s where you can decide to go back to your hotel for a little rest or keep pushing through to see more of gorgeous Paris!! We kept walking…because Paris.
  7. Stroll through the Tuilleries Gardens. It’s so very beautiful!! Full of gardens, flowers, statues, and a carousel too!
  8. Place de la Concorde & Fontaine des Mers. At the other end of the Tuilleries is an 18th century plaza with an obelisk and a  gorgeous fountain.
  9. Walk down Av des Champs-Élysées. We didn’t do much of any shopping but my husband did go into the French National Teams soccer store. The door to get into the Louis V store was around the block!
  10. Go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. I bought tickets ahead of time to go to the top but we did have to figure out how to get there. Haha. The view from the top was awesome- looking down the Champs-Élysées in one direction and the Avenue de la Grande Armée in the other direction. The traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe is not for the faint of heart. Our 2CV driver took us around it a few times for fun and I’m just glad we didn’t have to drive around it ourselves.
  11. Dinner at Bouillon Julien. I made reservations here ahead of time too! This is another jaw dropping gorgeous restaurant. Worth the visit just to look! I must also say that it has one of the most reasonably priced menus we found. We ordered a bottle of Burgundy and I had the demi-coquelet grillé (grilled half-cockerel). Beyond good! And if you didn’t know a cockerel is a young male chicken. The frites were very good too & I had two desserts because it’s Paris!
  12. Back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep!

Day 3 –

I’m calling this the Classic Paris Walk About Day!!! Exploring Île de la Cité and more. Maybe my favorite day!!?? Since we were staying at Holiday Inn Paris – Gare de Lyon Bastille it was an easy place to begin our walk for the day! You could just as easy make your way to the Gare de Lyon train station and start from there if you’re on the metro or find another point closer for yourself. I’ll go through all the great things to see and points of interest. AND double bonus I’m linking you to my very special custom Google Map just for this walking adventure. You can access that HERE. Here’s the morning / afternoon plan!

  1. Follow the map and walk towards Île de la Cité. It’s a really beautiful walk with so many pretty things to look at. If you’re starving you can grab some crepes at La Crepe En L’isle! Keep following along and walk down Rue des Chantres – one of the narrowest streets in the city. It’s so awesome.
  2. Walk Rue Chanoinesse – (Rue Chanoinesse 75004 Paris) – it’s a glimpse of medieval Paris with views of Notre Dame and great eateries. The street was once home to an order of Monks and is also home to the Gravestone Courtyard of Paris.
  3. Walk by Au Vieux d’Arcole (24 Rue Chanoinesse) – oh so Parisian. Cutest café in Paris and so instagrammable!!!! It wasn’t open when we walked by but I did stop for photos.
  4. Paris Point Zero (Parvis Notre-Dame) is the city’s true centre. This is the point of Paris from which all other signs in France are measured. 
  5. Notre Dame- Of course you can’t go up in it and there are no tours right now as it’s under construction but it is worth seeing for sure!!!! When you are facing the cathedral, walk around right hand side of it (as you’re facing it) to check out the gardens. Make sure to view from rear & the view from the Pont de l’Archeveche (used to be the famous love lock bridge). Of course many views are blocked right now with the construction so best of luck to you!!!
  6. If you haven’t eaten yet try out Le Quasimodo Cafe Notre Dame. Yes it’s in a super touristy area. Yes it’s a ridiculous name. But we were there very early before many tourists and had a lovely breakfast of fresh crepes and coffee! It was a cute little place with a lovely view of Notre Dame and there were so many cute little buildings all around.
  7. Hotel Dieu – The oldest hospital in Paris. You can walk around it or….head in to view the courtyard. Head to the Parvis of Notre Dame. When facing the façade of the cathedral face on, head left and towards the large blue door. Once through sliding doors ask for directions to the central courtyard. Or enter main doors, turn left, then turn right. Voila!
  8. Shakespeare & Company (5 minute walk. There is a little back tracking here so look at the map and points of interest to see what makes most sense to you.) This is Paris most famous bookstore!!! If you’re into books then this is a MUST and for me it was one of the highlights of my day!!!! The store is a series of winding little rooms with books in every nook and cranny. Every room has so many books that you don’t even know where to look. I spent forever in here trying to find the perfect book to buy and bring home. Keep in mind that they will stamp any book you buy with their stamp on the title page! Also there is a store cat that lives upstairs…I made it my mission to find her/him. All the signs tell you not to disturb it, but it will jump up in your lap for a nap if you’re in one of the its favorite sleeping spots.  The view from 2nd floor over the Seine & Notre Dame is divine. Keep in mind that NO pictures are allowed inside the store or I would have a photo of the kitty here for you!!
  9. Flower Market – Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux (Alee Celestin Hennion 75004 Paris) –  The famous “Flowers and Birds Market” has been located since 1808 on the Ile de la Cité. It’s beautiful and so refreshing in the middle of the city.
  10. Oldest Clock in Paris (2 Boulevard du Palais 75001 Paris) – Affixed to the street facing side of the Conciergerie. It’s been there since 14th century and escaped unscathed through French Revolution.
  11. Conciergerie – Once a prison that housed Marie Antoinette before her execution. Once known as “Palais de la City”. You can do a tour if you like but we just walked around it.
  12. Saint Chapelle (6 min “ish” walk) – To me if you’re only going to see one thing on this whole walking tour Saint Chapelle is the place hands down!!! I’m not even slightly joking when I say I climbed the stairs  to 2nd floor, took in the amazing stained glass and immediately started crying!! It was beyond beautiful. I did purchase our entry tickets ahead of time. You must visit here. No excuses!!
  13. Here’s where you have a few choices for lunch!!! You can pick up picnic supplies for lunch in Luxembourg gardens (next stop) or you can walk through the gorgeous gardens and stop at #14 before for lunch. Luxembourg Gardens (15 min walk) – distinctly Parisian garden. Luxembourg Palace sits to one side (walk by and admire it). This is a great place for picnic lunch. You can walk to Luxembourg Gardens from St Chapelle with a longer route that takes you by the Pantheon also just depends on how you’re walking feet are feeling and how you are on time.
  14. Stop at Café de Flore!!!! It’s so beautiful!!!! And so instagrammable. Everything is branded and absolutely top notch. We ended up having lunch here and it was my husband’s least favorite meal in the city. Go to figure it was one of my favorite because it was just so pretty!! It is definitely on the pricey side as you’re paying for Café de Flore.
  15. Eglise Saint-Sulpice – Yep the same church as featured in The Davinci Code!! Worth a look around inside and out.
  16. Next and last stop for the afternoon is Musee d’Orsay. The museum itself is gorgeous and set in a former train station. There are many famous works of art here and well worth the visit!! Pre-purchase your tickets to avoid the line and enter the museum through the reserved entrance C.
  17. Wow what a morning and afternoon!!!!! Your feet might be hurting by now so head back to the hotel (metro or taxi) to regroup, rest, nap.
  18. Dinner River Cruise night with Bateaux Mouches! This was so beautiful, tasty, and fun. Make sure to pre-purchase your tickets!!! There are many different river cruises so pick what you like best. We opted for the sunset dinner cruise and it was excellent. We boarded when it was light out & had a window seat. We headed up/down the Seine (don’t know my directions here) and then turned around and came back for the perfect viewing of the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night and sparkly!!! It was magnificent. I thought the food was really good, my husband however who isn’t into fancy food and has a bit of a limited palette, didn’t enjoy the food as much as I did. He absolutely loved the whole evening though. You can go up on top of the deck up top and take in all the sights as you pass by almost close enough to touch. Worth every penny!
  19. Back to your hotel to sleep sooooo good!!!!

Day 4 –

We changed hotels this day to a different part of the city and stayed the next two days at the Crown Plaza Paris – Republique. Another beautiful place to stay! It’s always fun to change things up so try staying in a different hotel or airbnb to get to know the city a little

  1. Take luggage to hotel and have them check it in for storage.
  2. Food Tour in le Marais with Secret Food Tours!!! Omg this was soooo fun!!!! Fortunately our hotel was close and we could just walk to meet up with our group. The tour was several hours and our tour guide was awesome. She showed us all around le Marais and told us about the history of the area and we ate so much good food. I highly recommend taking a food tour on any trip. It was a small group and very manageable to get in and out of places and try so many things. Our guide told us about the foods we were trying as well as their history. It was also fun meeting everyone else on the tour and hearing their stories. Make sure you book ahead of time as they fill up.
  3. After the tour you can wander around le Marais and take in more of the area, chill at a cafe (although you’ll be so full that eating and drinking any more will probably be out of the question), or you can head back to your hotel to relax and take a little nap. Remember what I said about not over doing it so you can enjoy it all!!
  4. Time for the Louvre! Please note that we visited on a Friday evening when the museum is open late. Trying to avoid the long lines and too many people I pre-purchased timed entry tickets for 6pm. It was absolutely perfect and hardly any line at all. We spent the evening seeing as much of the famous museum as we could. It’s huge so we visited the highlights first and then took our time looking at everything else. Yes we saw the Mona Lisa which of course had the longest line. My two favorites were the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Liberty Leading the People.
  5. Dinner at le Relais de l’entrecote on Rue Saint-Benoit. Absolutely fantastic endless steak and frites. The sauce is to die for!!! Keep in mind they do not take reservations and you will have to wait in line. It’s that popular and yes that good and well worth the wait. Order a bottle of red wine of course and take it all in. The rum babka for dessert was pretty awesome too.
  6. Back to the hotel to sleep!

Day 5 –

Montmartre day!!!! It’s time to spend the morning and afternoon wandering the streets of Montmartre and soaking in all it’s glory!!!! In medieval ages most of Montmartre was an abbey which was destroyed during the French Revolution. During the time of impressionists it gained a reputation for cafes, dance halls, and cabarets. I’ll give you a few highlights and places to look for below. They’re pretty much in order for walking.

  1. Take the metro to the Abbesses stop to start your walking tour!
  2. Le mur des je t’aime – the I Love You wall!!
  3. Place du Tertre – street artists working / pretty alleyways
  4. Sacre Coeur – AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! You’ve climbed the winding hills for this beauty!!!! Make sure you come early because this is very much a place full of tourists. It opens at 6am. Start by climbing  the steps to it & walk towards the forecourt of the church and enjoy the panoramic views of Paris. Walk inside & look at stained glass & the mosaic of Christ in the glory (largest mosaic in France). Yes you need to also climb the 300 spiral steps to the dome of the basilica! You will NEED TO PURCHASE TICKETS to walk to the top. It’s glorious up there!!! The views are breath taking and the gargoyles up close are amazing. We purchased tickets day of as I couldn’t find a way to pre-purchase.
  5. Rue de la Bonne – for best views of Sacre Coeur without the crowds walk around the other side of it.
  6. Clos Montmartre – the only vineyard in Montmartre & the oldest vineyard in Paris.
  7. La Maison Rose – coffee shop Picasso once frequented! So cute and on my Instagram list for sure.
  8. Rue de l’abreuvoir – winding street named for the water trough that used to exist. Lovely street to walk.
  9. Place Dalida – a square along the end of the prettiest street in Paris.
  10. Villa Leandre – widely considered to be one of the most beautiful streets of Paris. Homes sell in the millions.
  11. Le Moulin de la Galette – one of last remaining windmills in Montmartre.
  12. Bateau Lavoire – once used as Picasso’s studio. Not open to the public but you know you’ve found it if you find the green door.
  13. Make sure you find a place to eat when you get hungry!!! We ate at Le Relais de la Butte which had the cutest outside cafe with a beautiful view!! We earned those glasses of wine!
  14. Rue Durantin – cute street.
  15. 45 Rue Lepic – functional studio is one of the few artist studios in Montmartre that you can enter. Be quiet & polite.
  16. Maison de Van Gogh – Van Gogh’s home in Paris (42 Rue Lepic)
  17. Café des Deux Moulins – iconic café in Amelie.
  18. Cite Veron – narrow street has been perfectly preserved from the 20s. Lots of greenery. Toward end of alley you’ll find a stunning 1920s house stuck in time.
  19. Moulin Rouge – birthplace of the can can dance.
  20. Villa Des Platanes – private villa constructed in 1896. – view through fence
  21. Cite du Midi – charming street filled with ivy away from crowds & tourists.
  22. Back to the hotel to shower, change and rest.
  23. Watch a soccer game at Stade de France!!! Viva la France! My husband is a huge soccer fan and his favorite team is the French National Team. We planned our trip around a home game to make his dream come true of seeing France play a game at Stade de France. I must say it was so very fun!!! We took the metro there and back and I have to say that France has a wonderful system for sure. We also ate stadium food for dinner because we were at a stadium and it’s totally fitting.
  24. Back to the hotel to sleep.

That ends my 5 Day detailed Paris itinerary. Five glorious days in Paris for sure!!! If you want to throw in a 6th day then keep reading!

Day 6 in Paris (on add-on but sooo worth it!!)-

Since we were staying in France and heading to Burgundy next we rented a car and drove to Versailles. You can opt to take the metro there or sign up for a tour and have them transport you. A full day dedicated just to Versailles is a must in my book especially if you’re traveling to Versailles and then back in to Paris on the same day. Pre-purchase your timed Versailles entry to save hours of your time!!!!!!!!! I think my husband might have thought that I was a little crazy with pre-purchasing all of our tickets. However when he saw the hours long line to get in he turned to me and smiled and said “great thinking!”. Hahaha. Again I can’t stress enough to get a timed entry ticket!! Stroll all the lovely gardens before and after your time.

Wow! What a trip!!!! Hopefully my 5 days in Paris detailed itinerary gives you a good place to start planning your trip. Paris is so large and there’s just so much to see that it’s a bit overwhelming for sure. I’ve done much of the planning and research for you ahead of time. Feel free to leave me a comment on your favorite things to see in Paris or ask me a question.

To get some helpful planning tips for your next trip READ MY POST HERE. I share my 5  essential planning tips for any vacation or get-away. The same exact tips I used to plan my 5 Days in Paris Detailed Itinerary!

A Great Gatsby Affair to Remember + 10 Wedding Planning Must-Dos

Great Gatsby Wedding plus 10 wedding planning must dos

Mike and I have been married 10 months now!!! Where has the time gone? It seriously was THE BEST DAY EVER!  Today I’m sharing our Great Gatsby wedding plus 10 wedding planning must dos so that you too can have the best day ever.

I want to share our gorgeous wedding photos with you but I also want to talk about what made it so absolutely perfect. Recently our wedding was published on Richmond Weddings Blog and one of the questions they asked was “what we loved most about our wedding” but also “what advice do you have for other brides planning their wedding”. So I’ve come up with my 10 Wedding Planning Must-Dos in order to have THE BEST DAY EVER!

To start here they are and I’m gonna break them down as I talk about our day.

  1. Make it YOUR wedding. Not your mom’s, dad’s, sister’s, best friend’s, or the lady’s on Pinterest.
  2. Stop worrying so much about what anyone else will think about your decisions. This again goes with #1 but also don’t worry about what your guests will think about your decisions. It’s YOUR wedding. You’re inviting people to celebrate with you at YOUR wedding.
  3. Pick your vendors very, very carefully and thoughtfully. Your wedding vendors can really make or break your wedding day.
  4. Don’t let your vendors steamroll you with the way weddings are normally done. Yes listen to them and their advice. After all they’re professionals and do this all the time but…keep in mind that this is YOUR wedding & you’re paying them so you can get what you want.
  5. Ignore all the wedding traditions that you don’t want to participate in. Add new ones that you love.
  6. Have a First Look with your photographer and get all those photos out of the way before the ceremony.
  7. Decide what you will splurge on and where you want the money to go ahead of time.
  8. Brides!!!! Hire a professional hair and makeup artist for you and your wedding party.
  9. Pick a theme & style of wedding day you want. This makes it so much easier when planning out the whole day.
  10. Hire a wedding planner/coordinator!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe it’s because this was our second go around with the whole wedding/ being married process? Maybe it’s because we’re older and wiser? Maybe it’s because we know ourselves better at this stage in our lives? Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the wedding industry for so many years? I mean how did we end up planning and executing our perfect wedding day? First it’s those 10 Wedding Planning Must-Dos in order to have THE BEST DAY EVER above. Let’s also add in the fact that I don’t give a fuck what other people think of my choices. Ok now that’s a bit harsh sounding and my sweet husband wouldn’t put it quite that way but I’m keeping it real here and that’s my truth.

Honestly when Mike proposed I thought that we would probably elope. I wasn’t thinking the full wedding kit and kaboodle. The last 12 years I was primarily a wedding photographer and although I had daydreamed of getting married again I wasn’t really thinking about a full out wedding. Having a wedding day with friends and family present was very important to Mike though! And I do LOVE a good party! And I wanted Mike to get the wedding of his dreams too! So I went into full force wedding planning like a boss.

Since I have been to so many wedding venues it was easy to narrow down what we didn’t want. I took Mike to three venues and told him to choose. Luckily we both had the same #1 choice which was The Mill at Fine Creek. We both wanted a wedding venue where we could do everything in one place – get ready, ceremony, party. Bonus was that we and many friends could also stay right onsite by renting their really cute glammed up cabins.

Here’s a little bonus tip for cutting down your venue cost – have a non -Saturday wedding! I knew we didn’t want a Sunday wedding (they suck because all your guests leave early because they have to work Monday) …so we went with a Friday wedding! It cut our costs drastically. Second cost savings tip – choose a non-high season wedding date. Again easy for us because I knew I wanted more of a winter”esque” wedding. We for sure didn’t want to sweat to near death in late spring, summer, or fall. (I have photographed so many weddings where the bride, groom, and guests were absolutely miserable. And the vendors too!!) So we set a March date. Choosing an off season wedding date and non-traditional day of the week for our wedding really helped to bring down the venue price and it was our wedding so we got to choose the date! Check number 1 & 2 above!

Straight away it was an easy choice for a theme/feeling for our day. I wanted more of a glam cocktail party/gala feeling and less of a wedding feeling. Great Gatsby”esque” it was!!! Black and gold and glam all the way baby! I wanted Mike and I to walk into the reception and be “WOW this is a gorgeous party!!” and less “wow this is a gorgeous wedding”. We carried the theme from our wedding stationary, to my dresses & accessories, through to the reception. It was kind of just sprinkled throughout the day and not too overboard! Tips #9 & #2

Early on we knew that we would do things a bit non-traditionally. I honestly wasn’t the least bit worried about traditional the only thing I was thinking about was what would make Mike and I happy on our day. Here are a few non-traditional things we did. Tips #1 #2 #5

  • We walked ourselves down the aisle with our French bulldog Francois
  • We wrote our own vows
  • We had a very non-traditional reading during the ceremony. (No bible verses here)
  • My wedding party didn’t carry bouquets – instead they carried lanterns & no bouts for the guys
  • No wedding favors
  • We opted for Gumbo to be served as the first course instead of a salad that nobody tends to eat. It was amazing!!!
  • We had croquembouches in lieu of a wedding cake for dessert. We also had mini tarts & chocolate covered strawberries. So no cake cutting.
  • No bouquet toss, no parent dances, no giving away of anybody, no awkward wedding reception games, no till death do you parts
  • We also wrote our whole ceremony & had one of our very good friends marry us!
  • I had TWO different dresses both of which were evening gowns not wedding dresses
  • We gave a welcome speech together at our reception
  • We had all 5 of our kids + our best friends + our dog in our wedding party

Being in the wedding industry did help when picking out our vendors. I knew a lot of them already so I also knew their work ahead of time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire people that you like, are easy to work with, listen to you, know what they’re doing, and add joy to your day. The wrong vendors can really take your day from a 10 to a 5. I’d say the top vendors to make sure you’re in love with (in no order) – photographer, hair & makeup artist, wedding planner/coordinator, dj/band.

Friends you’re with both your wedding planner/coordinator & photographer all damn day!! You need to love them and trust them. You want to look Ahhhh-mazing on your wedding day so you’d better hire someone you love and trust to put on your face and do that hair. And seriously your dj/band runs the whole reception and keeps the good vibes flowing for the whole evening. A bad dj can ruin a wedding reception. Tips #3 #4 #8 #10

As a bride, photographer, and wedding guest I say that a First Look is a must. Hands down. No doubts. Get all those photos out of the way so that you can actually enjoy and be a part of your wedding day. Having a first look insures that you get the photos you want without being interrupted by all the guests you want to talk to or all the wedding things that are happening on a timeline. It also insures that you can get some good lighting for those images and that you have time to enjoy the process. On top of all that do you really think it’s fair to keep your guests waiting for 2 hours to start a reception while you’re out taking photos? Nope. The biggest part though is that you get quiet time with you and your beloved before the whole wedding craziness kicks into full gear. You get to talk to each other, hug, kiss, laugh, cry, really look at each other. It helps to calm all those wedding jitters when you have your person there by your side and you’re chatting about what you’ve been doing all morning and how excited you are to marry them! Tip #6

NO matter how Type A you are and how much planning you’ve done you really need a wedding planner/coordinator. You can opt for many different types but I went with a Day of Coordinator. Which really is more a month of Coordinator if I’m being honest. Also don’t fully believe what your wedding venue tells you. They often claim that you get a day of coordinator with the venue. Yes they have a day of coordinator on site but he/she is there for the venue not for your every want/need/wish/desire and they’re not going to deal with all the possible problems of the day and make sure that you get your dream wedding. So hire a planner!!!!! For instance our wedding planner Chelsea of Illumination Event Studio (who is the most awesome ever) dealt with so many coordination things before the wedding in reaching out to all our vendors and on the day in making sure they were all there and doing their jobs on time. She did most of this without ever even having to come to me to discuss. This is because we had talked in length before the wedding and she knew what I wanted and how I wanted it all to go. Chelsea was a life saver and one of the main reasons our wedding day was empty of any disasters. She calmly told me about the weather forecast of rain and more rain and then continued rain for the day. She calmly told me that I had to make a rain call for the ceremony (it was supposed to be outside) and then she handled all the coordination for moving it inside. She asked me about the inside layout and then dealt with “flipping of the room”. I didn’t have to do anything because I knew she was handling it and I knew she would make sure it was beautiful. Tip #10

I had a very specific vision for our wedding day and for our reception. I wanted things done a certain way and those were very important to me. I stuck to my guns and my vendors made it all come together. This is where the This is YOUR wedding part also comes in. You know what you want so make sure you get it (if it’s possible). My florist and wedding decorator Casey of Cultivate Events Co. was awesome!!! She listened to my vision and suggested all sorts of great ideas to make it happen & she did an amazing job. From my non-traditional bouquet to our sweetheart table alcove. She made my wedding vision come together.

I had four things about the venue that I decided to do differently than they usually do. Some they were happier about than others but they did help to make them happen for me. This is why knowing your vision and sticking to your guns is soooooo important. Tip #4

  • I didn’t use the bridal suite at all and opted for getting ready in the area that’s usually used for the guys. Honestly I hated the venue’s bridal suite. I think it’s too small and I also didn’t like the way it photographs. That’s the photographer in me for sure! Mike and the guys rented one of the cabins on site for them to get ready in while I took over The Miller’s Cottage with my girls.
  • I wanted the reception room flipped. The area in the reception space that is usually used for the cake I instead wanted used for our sweetheart table and then the desserts went where the sweetheart table usually is. I wanted this for several reasons. From a photography stand point I didn’t want a wall of glass behind our sweetheart table and I really wanted the intimacy of a little alcove for our table. Our florist hooked us up and hung little twinkly lights and vines from the landing above and it was gorgeous.
  • The reception area consists of two rooms at the venue. The main part has a really high ceiling (two stories) and the second room has a rather low ceiling. The second room is where the dance floor is and the two rooms are located right next to each other. The first dance always happens in the 2nd room because that’s where the dance floor is. I said NOPE, I’m having our first dance in the main room! So our floor plan for the room had the tables moved out a bit to create a little dance floor right in front of our sweetheart table for us. I wanted it in the main room mostly for photography purposes and because the majority of the guests were seated in this room. It was gorgeous and photographed so much better!!
  • Lastly because of the height differences between the rooms I wanted to visually bring down the height of the main room and have it be eye catching. In comes my lighting guys Leap AV who said they could string bistro lights across the ceiling of the main room without doing any harm to any part of the building. What???? They were hired!!! They also put in all kinds of uplighting around both rooms to help them to flow together and bring in that glam feeling.

We definitely had a few splurges for the wedding! These were the parts that were so important to us that it made sense to splurge. As far as splurges go – that lighting was a splurge & 100% worth it!!!! Those croquembouche and desserts were a little extra but so worth it! I also opted last minute for a paper flower wall by Sweet Pear Paper and that I must say was one of the best decisions I made for the day! I opted for letterpress wedding stationary – splurge! And I opted to have the envelopes hand lettered and our seating chart was hand-lettered as well. More splurges but soooo pretty.

I’m also am a bit of a thrifty girl when I need to be so I did my part in keeping the budget down as much as possible. For instance I knew I wanted two wedding dresses! I also didn’t want to spend $20k. It helped that I wanted non-traditional and more evening gown”ish” dresses. I searched and found the perfect store where I fell in love with both dresses and spent less money on 2 than most brides spend on 1. To keep the budget down and have my splurges I also DIY’d a bunch of the wedding decor. I made the signs, provided the lanterns and candles and gold chargers. I bought the sequin runners and had some donated from a friend. I put together the lanterns the girls walked with, including spray painting them, and painted the mirror for the seating chart. It was a balance of splurge and DIY/budget for sure. Tip #7

I cannot stress enough how having YOUR wedding day is the most important part of making sure you have THE BEST DAY EVER! Be true to you and your partner and it will surely be a dream. A funny little side note. When writing my vows I included an f-bomb. That’s right I wrote into my vows the word fuck. Anyone who knows me knows that that’s a very Amber thing so it seemed natural to me. Well it was funny when during my vows I dropped this well placed “fuck” and I could hear all the laughs, some inhales of disbelief, and Mike was laughing. I didn’t care what anyone else would think. These were my vows to my husband what did it matter what people thought of them? Now I’m not saying that you should say fuck in your wedding vows but I am here to tell you that you need to be true to yourself and not care what anyone thinks about your choices for your wedding day!!! And that my friends is how you have the BEST DAY EVER!

Wedding Photography: Rebecca Keeling Studio | Rehearsal Dinner + Catering: The Mill at Fine Creek – Miller’s Cottage | Wedding Videography: Double Take | Wedding Day-of-Coordinator: Chelsea with Illumination Events Studio | Ceremony + Reception Site: The Mill at Fine Creek (moved inside due to rain) | Officiant: Family Friend | Gown: Glitter and Lace Formals | Shoes: Kate Spade + Gianni Bini | Hair: Lara with LGB Hair Designs | Makeup: Kara with Kara Waggoner Beauty | Groom’s Bands: Manly Bands | Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse | Bride’s Accessories: Stella and Dot + Kendra Scott | Invitations + Stationery: Monday Morning Press | Flowers: Cultivate Event Co. (Formerly known as Stems and Sweets) | Flower Wall: Sweet Pear Paper | Calligraphy: The Lettering Lady | Lighting: Leap AV | Cake/Sweets: Liberty BakingEdible Arrangements, + Family Friend

A Great Gatsby Affair to Remember plus 10 Wedding Planning Must Dos

 

 

 

5 Essential Tips for Planning Your Next Vacation

5 essential tips for planning your next vacation anywhere

Travel is one of the great loves of my life! Before Mike and I got married we both agreed that travel would be an essential part of our lives as we both want to explore this gorgeous world we live in. I’ve always had the travel bug…even if I couldn’t go I dreamed about going and seeing and experiencing other places. I still do that!!! Mike and I have an ongoing bucket list that we add to and it’s so fun to dream. When Mike and I were discussing honeymoons it was an easy decision to choose France! We had 2 weeks (15 days) for travel and so many ideas on what we wanted to see and where we wanted to go. The what to do, where to go, what to eat,  what to see part of travel can be a bit overwhelming for sure. Through the process of planning our 15 day France adventure I came up with these 5 essential tips for planning your next vacation.

These tips have helped me plan several other trips and little get-aways and they’re the tips I’m using to plan our one year anniversary trip to Hawai’i next month!!! Friends I can get a little carried away and not get any work done when I’m planning a trip. Haha. I think 50% of the fun of travel is in planning and anticipation! I imagine myself in far away balconies, on beaches, strolling down a side street, gazing at gorgeous art, drinking a glass of wine, all the fun stuff!!

Ok let’s get started with the 5 essential tips for planning your next vacation!!! These are so fun & helpful.

#1 Sit down and talk about your must-sees, wants, & ideas with your travel partner

This is the first big step friends!!! If you’re traveling with another person then considering their wants and needs is critical to making sure that your trip together will be amazing for BOTH of you! This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s so easy when you starting planning and looking at what to do to just get wrapped up in the ideas of what you want and steam roll your travel partner. Travel, like a relationship, takes compromise!  This is especially important if you both like different things and have different visions for your trip. Sit. Talk. Drink wine. Laugh. Have fun going over all the things you both want to do on your trip.

I suggest making a list of things that you think want to do. Have your partner make a list of what he/she wants to do. Then sit down to talk and compare! Sometimes things will overlap and sometimes they won’t…that’s where the compromise comes in.

My husband and I like some very different things. I could spend weeks in museums and art galleries. He could watch every soccer game known to man. I could eat all the fancy foods from every 5 star Michelin rated restaurant. He could live on bread, steak, and wine. I could spend every day roaming a different cathedral or chateau. He could visit every winery in a 50 mile radius. So we compromise!

In discussing France we both had our lists. The top of mine- explore Paris. The top of Mike’s- drink wine in Burgundy. So we decided to split our 2 weeks in France evenly between the two places. Compromise! When planning our days in Paris I knew that too many museums / art galleries would bore him so I chose my must-sees carefully, fully keeping him in mind and what he might like to see too. Mike really wanted to see the French National Team play a game in Stade de France so we made that happen and I added two museums to balance. (hahahah) When planning Burgundy we scheduled lots of wine and vineyards and sprinkled in many little medieval villages and chateaus. Our trip was the best of all that we both love!

Talk. Talk. And more talk with your travel partner. Run by new ideas, things you’ve learned. Show pictures you’ve found, share reviews of places and menus. Give options. It will all be so worth it when you look at each other after your trip and know you had the best trip ever.

 

#2 Research. Research. Research. Before.

Omg it’s soooooo easy to research any destination these days!!!! I’m not sure what people did before the internet. I know, I know…guide books…but they only get you so far and often they’re not very up to date. Some of the very, very best things we did in France were from all my research before our trip. I won’t lie friends I spent months planning! To me all the research was fun and as I found new places to visit, new things to see, places to eat, specific things I wanted to eat, specific spots I wanted to take photos, my heart would race and I’d get even more excited about the trip.

Here are a few of my very favorite ways to research a vacation destination-

  • Online travel blogs – I love travel blogs…may be why I’m half transforming this photo blog into a travel blog!!! It’s so awesome reading other people’s travel experiences and getting their personal recommendations. It’s often the best way to find little hidden gems and some great tips on traveling to your specific destination. A simple google search of “(your destination) travel blogs” brings up so many options to read through. You’ll quickly discover the blogs that speak to your heart and your style of travel. Beware they will lead you down the slippery slope of web surfing for hours.
  • Instagram- It’s no secret that I’m slightly addicted to Instagram in general but it’s also an amazing tool for finding awesome places you need to see and places to eat at. Also if you’re anything like me it’s great for finding iconic picture spots!! Here’s where geo-tagging and hashtag searching comes in handy. I like to search for hashtags first and then see where that takes me. So for instance before France I searched #parislove #parisfood #parisphotographer #visitparis and a lot more! But those got me started and did me right. I fact I found the photographer we hired via Instagram, many of our pictures spots, and a few stores to visit.
  •  Google – Yes I mentioned online travel blogs already but a few simple google searches will also bring up plenty of travel ideas outside of travel blogs. I like to search things like “10 best places to eat in Paris” “must see places in paris” “where to eat in beaune france”. This also will send you down the rabbit hole of internet land but I found so many of the places we ate at in France doing this.
  • Podcasts / FB Groups – I listen to podcasts all the time so I figured it was worth the search to see if there were any France travel related ones. I hit the jackpot last summer by finding the podcast  “Join Us In France”. This lead to their Facebook Group which lead to their private FB Group. All of which were absolutely wonderful and so helpful with planning our trip! Take the time to see if you can find any podcasts or Facebook Groups associated with your destination.

#3 Budget & Plan Where to Splurge.

Travel can be super expensive. Money, or lack thereof, is the reason most people cite for not traveling. I’m not here to give you any cheap travel tips but what I do believe is that if you choose carefully ahead of time what you want to splurge on then it’s much easier to budget the rest of your trip. Mike and I talked extensively about some of our bucket list items before France…the things we just knew we had to do while we were in France. We each had a list of a few that were on the more pricey side and then whittled that list down to be manageable on the budget. We then paired these splurges with less expensive activities and meals.

For instance – I knew we HAD to have a Paris photoshoot with a Paris based professional photographer! Mike knew we HAD to take a hot air balloon ride over Burgundy. Check and check. Mike HAD to attend a soccer game in Paris and I HAD to eat at least one fancy meal at a to-die-for restaurant. Again check and check. We researched and planned these things first! We budgeted for them first as well and then we planned the rest of the trip around them. This meant that there were quite a few things that we didn’t do. Nope I didn’t get to take the cooking class I wanted to in Beaune and we didn’t eat dinner at a few other restaurants that I had starred and underlined. But choosing and planning ahead of time on where and what to spend the majority of our money made us very happy with our decisions and we never felt like we missed out on anything.

#4 Google Maps Are Your Best Friend

I became best friends with google maps before our trip. In fact I made several custom maps! Google maps are great so that you can see how far apart the places are that you want to walk or drive to. This is so helpful in planning a days itinerary. I started by making a Paris map and pinned our hotels to it. Next I pinned the places I knew we were going to go at some point. For instance – the Louvre, Saint Chapelle, Notre Dame, + many more. Then I began breaking down the days we would be there and what we wanted to see each day and what made sense according to their location. When choosing restaurants I used this location criteria for each day and each meal. It worked like a charm!!!

Bonus is that you can make as many custom maps as you like and you can include walking/ driving directions as well. Next step is to download them for offline usage. This is especially helpful if you’re without cell phone coverage or wifi. I made separate walking maps for each day we were in Paris and pinned all of our stopping points and points of interest. I also included extra stops in case we had time or just felt like veering off course.

#5 Plan BUT Make a Flexible Itinerary

Now that I just told you to Google map your whole trip I’m going to say….but make it flexible. Hahahahaha. The truth is you can plan until you’re blue in the face but #1 things will not always go as planned and #2 when you over plan then you leave no room for some beautiful serendipity. Planes are late, you can’t figure out the subway tickets, dinner runs over, you’re tired and your feet hurt. Life happens even on vacation so leave some room in your trip plans for down moments or for alternative plans. Leave some extra time to peruse all the titles in the book store, to chat longer over that cup of cafe creme, to stand and stare in awe in the museum, to wander side streets and look at gorgeous front doors, to drive through villages and look for houses for sale, to sip an extra glass of wine.

I must say that I’m pretty proud of myself for padding our days with extra time to just BE in France and soak it all up with each other. For instance if my google map estimated it would take 2 hours to walk to all the places I had pinned then I gave us 4-5 hours to do it! That gave us time to walk slow, read, stop and eat a croissant, take more pictures for Instagram, or sit on a park bench. In Burgundy when my map estimated a 30 minute drive I figured in 90 minutes. That way we could drive the slow winding road through the vineyards and jump out whenever we wanted to enjoy the view and the moments.

One of our most serendipitous moments was a morning we were  driving to a winery about 40 minutes away from our Airbnb. I turned off the car gps and used my phone map to guide us down the little roads that wound through the vineyards and gorgeous medieval villages. Some spots of the roads were only one car width wide….we could have touched the walls of the houses if we had just stuck our arms out the side windows of the car. Every turn was more beautiful than the next. Plump pinot noir grapes, dark as night, were in bunches on the vines, chickens strutted about their morning in the street, gorgeous flower boxes full of geraniums were everywhere. We came around a big blind curve in the road and there I saw a sign that read “Pelletier et Fils” next to a vineyard . Mike saw it after me and quickly hit the brakes. If you didn’t know his last name is Pelletier (I haven’t changed mine yet) and that vineyard was Pelletier and Sons. Michael Pelletier and Sons to be exact. Well Mike had to stop. He knocked on the door to the house and through hand gestures and broken English to French and showing the gentleman his driver’s license he communicated that he too was Michael Pelletier. Same name. The man smiled and laughed and said yes he was Michael Pelletier and he was the winemaker. That’s pretty much all the English he spoke so he got his wife to come down and she sold us Pelletier et Fils wine. We drove off with our special wine, smiles on our faces, and a beautiful adventure to always remember.

I hope these 5 essential tips for planning your next vacation are helpful in your vacation planning. The same tips can be used for anywhere you travel. I’ve used them for The Bahamas, France, Nashville, and Hawai’i as I’ve streamlined my planning process. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!!!

To read about more of our travels click HERE to see our Tradewinds catamaran trip to the Bahamas!

2nd Annual WEAR RVA- We Rocked That Runway!!!

wear rva 2019

The 2nd Annual WEAR RVA 2019 was 6 weeks ago! It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 2 months and that we’re already busy planning next year’s event. The time just flies by when you’re doing things that you love & are passionate about. If you’re wondering what WEAR RVA is all about read this POST I wrote last year all about our show and the backstory.

richmond fashion show

This year WEAR RVA was held at The Renaissance and it was so pretty and also SOLD OUT!!! Taylor and I put so many months work into bringing the show to life and making sure that it was a full production event. We were supported by more people than I can possibly name and by countless sponsors. WEAR RVA has grown exponentially in just one year and it takes a spectacular team to bring it all together.

wear rva 2019

 

An exciting component to this year’s show is that WEAR RVA was THE FEATURED Thursday show for RVA Fashion Week! What??!! I know right we were so excited to be asked to join RVA Fashion Week. Just another reminder of what dreaming big with no limitations looks like.

wear rva2019
Co-Founders Amber Kay & Taylor with RVA Fashion Week Executive Producer Jimmy Budd

 

We had 360 ticketed guests this year, 80 models, 11 boutiques & designers, 25 hair and makeup artists, plus over 25 team members & support staff. That’s over 500 people that came together to make this show amazingly awesome (if I do say so myself. Haha.) We also had amazing food sponsors!! The food by Goodrich Gourmet Catering blew us away and how about this WEAR RVA cake by J. Kelsey Designs?!

We had so many amazing sponsors for our show too and our hair and makeup teams knocked it out of the park for sure!!!!

wear rva 2019 j kelsey designs cake

We also had the most amazing emcees/hosts in existence! Total girl bosses who came on to support our cause with so much excitement & so many good ideas. We’re all about women supporting women and it’s heart warming and re-confirming to our mission when others are as excited about this as we are!! Thank you to Janna Hall (of Leap Innovative Group / Funemployed) and Caroline Kalentzos (of The Carline Doll / Posh PR) for being amazing examples of women coming together to cheer on other women! We couldn’t have done this show without your beautiful selves.

wear rva 2019

The net proceeds from WEAR RVA go to a scholarship fund for RVA area high school girls. Really that is the cornerstone of why we do what we do! The scholarship fund is run through The Network of Enterprising Women. You should totally check them out if you’re an RVA area woman! N.E.W. is both a women’s networking group and a philanthropical organization. They established their scholarship fund 30 years ago! Again women lifting up and empowering other women. Last year we were able to give over $5,000 to N.E.W. and support 5 scholarships. Wow!!! We are announcing our totals for this year tomorrow at N.E.W.’s June luncheon!

wear rva 2019 network of enterprising women
So many members of The Network of Enterprising Women came out to support WEAR RVA this year!

We had 80 models this year rocking that runway!!! These 80 girls are from our local area and current high school students. The only requirements to be a model for WEAR RVA are 1) current high school student in the Richmond area 2) available on two required dates for learning how to walk the runway and our event date. We want girls of all backgrounds, sizes, heights, shapes, diversity!! We want to show these girls that fashion is for everyone and we want to empower to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. We just love our girls so much and WOW they all look like supermodels!

Last year WEAR RVA was just a dream. One of those big things you think about doing but you’re a lot scared of doing and not even sure where to begin. This dream became a reality because of an incredible partnership!!! Honestly I get a little teary eyed when I think of the serendipity of how things fell together. I met Taylor. I pitched my idea after knowing her for maybe 10 minutes. Taylor said let’s do it. WE MADE A F’ING FASHION SHOW!!!!! Now that perhaps is the condensed version but it’s true. I’m so happy to say that not only did I find an incredible business partner but I also gained an incredible friend in Taylor. WEAR RVA is equal parts both of us and I know that it’s because of our partnership that we’ve been a success.

Taylor and I are busy dreaming up & planning next year but also dreaming up and planning some other awesomeness. We have some big crazy ideas and goals & I’m so excited to see what the future holds. Thanks Taylor – I love you to pieces and I’m so very thankful for you and our friendship & partnership. Women supporting and empowering women!!!!!

I also need to give a shout out to my amazing husband. Without his unending support and love I wouldn’t be able to live out my crazy dreams and bring them to reality. He also makes great arm candy!! (Hello hot husband.)

wear rva 2019 amber kay and husband

If you’re interested in more information about how to be involved in WEAR RVA please check out our website HERE, our Facebook page HERE, or email us at wearrva@gmail.com . We would love to have you come on board to make WEAR RVA 202o the best year yet!!

All photos featured here of WEAR RVA 2019 are by the amazing Xiaoqi Li Photography. Thank you so much for your time and talent Xiaoqi!!