OUR FIRST MAC & MIA BOX!

We are less than one month away from our due date for our baby daughter, and after an influx of the most thoughtful packages of hand-me-downs from friends and two incredibly heartwarming baby showers, we are getting closer to "ready" with the basic supplies that we need on hand for when we welcome our little one home. This includes a very full (and organized!) closet. Baby clothes--especially baby girl clothes--are pretty magical. Building our baby's wardrobe has been one of my favorite checklist items to date. It's easy to fall into the trap of buying #allthethings, and even without having invested much in clothing over the last nine months, our girl will be very well dressed. 

We are big believers in smart budgeting, and besides eagerly accepting lovingly used baby clothes from friends, we've found some awesome deals at local consignment shops. So when my friend Sarah asked if I had ever heard of Mac & Mia, I questioned whether this clothing box service for kiddos would be right for our family, since we've bought so few new items for our daughter. But the more I learned from Sarah, a personal stylist for Mac & Mia, the more I realized that this service is actually an awesome fit for family. Here's why: it's not a recurring subscription; you have an opportunity to hear personally from your stylist, a real person; the pieces are hard-to-find and high quality while still affordable; the risk is low; and shipping is free both ways. More on all this below (including a discount code for $20 off your first box!)

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A LOOK INTO MY EXPERIENCE

When I opened the box, there was a kraft paper packet of information with a leaflet from our stylist and a pre-paid return envelope (in addition to some coupons!). The box was packet with 12 items: 9 clothing items, a bow, a swaddle and a hat. The range was awesome: in addition to the hat/swaddle and zippered sleeper for newborn days, there was a variety of items that will fit our girl until she's 6 months. I felt like Sarah had read my mind and truly understood my style: there was a mix of denim, stripes, and geometric patterns along with some feminine and floral pieces as well. (Side note: In time, our daughter will get to develop her own style preferences, but I'm going to soak in every minute of getting to dress her as my mini-me!).

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Here's a look inside our box: 

Copper Pearl swaddle and hat set: I was thrilled to see this hat and swaddle in the box, as I've seen so many recommendations for Copper Pearl out there amongst mom friends. The material is super soft and stretchy, and the hat style is my favorite. VERDICT: We'll definitely be keeping these pieces because we have only a few hats in this stretchy top-knot style and we love the versatility of the swaddle. 

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The second item I pulled out was a swoon-worthy Milkbarn pajama in a reusable bag. This is a brand I've seen in local boutiques with a similarly dreamy soft and stretchy texture. There's a social component to the company's mission, so I was excited about that! The pattern was an elephant in a tutu--I mean, come on. So adorable. VERDICT: While I absolutely loved these jammies, we have an abundance of PJs in the 3-6 month range, and so this is one that I decided to return. 

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The next items that I opened: a thermal jumpsuit from Joules, a brand from the UK. I absolutely adored the pattern and the thick thermal. It also looked so, so cute with the pink bow that Sarah picked out for us. VERDICT: Ultimately, I decided not to keep the thermal jumpsuit because it was a pricier item, and at 0-3 months, I wondered if it would still fit our gal once it got to be truly cold here in Oklahoma. 

I also loved the crew neck sweatshirt from Rylee and Cru, an ivory with a rainbow illustration pattern. THE VERDICT: This one was a higher price point, but it was so adorable that I probably would have kept it if it had been a different color, as I am a bit wary of stains on a white or ivory top. I didn't think to ask Sarah about white or ivory items, but I can do that for our next box! 

Sarah also included a super dreamy pair of stretchy jeans in the 3-6 months size from Mayoral, a brand from Spain. We have a few pairs of baby jeans from Target and Carter's, and the material and stretch just simply does not compare. VERDICT: I found these to be reasonably priced for how long she'd be able to wear them. Because our girl didn't have any jeans in the 3-6 month size, this was an easy yes.

My absolute favorite outfit that Sarah picked out for us was the Go Gently teardrop dress paired with botanical leggings from Emerald August. VERDICT: The teardrop dress was the most expensive item I kept at $38, but as I mentioned above, it can go from a dress to a tunic and it's dressy enough for church. There are also adorable buttons all the way down the back. I LOVED the pattern on the botanical leggings, and because these were handmade, I could feel and appreciate the difference between their quality and construction compared to some of the leggings we have in our drawers from more typical sources. These two pieceswere definite keepers. 

I'm a fan of tees and tops from Splendid myself, so I was excited to see this adorable stripe and star top that is perfect for fall. VERDICT: The size on this one is 3-6 months, and because it's wide, she'll have plenty of room to grow into it. We had very few long-sleeve tunic tops in our closet at that size, so this one was a yes. 

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I already mentioned that the dress and botanical legging set was a favorite, but the grey ruffle coverall from Kapital K. is a very close second. The material is incredibly thick, which is perfect for fall, and because it's a wider cut, it's another piece that Little E can grow into. We have quite a few tank and short sleeve rompers/jumpsuits in our closet that I've consigned for the summer months in the newborn and 12 month size, but we had nothing like this one, with sleeves or thicker fabric. VERDICT: A definite yes! 

Another item that can be worn as a dress and then a tunic was the dashes dress from Miles Baby. This one was so, so cute with buttons at the top of one shoulder. VERDICT: I questioned whether or not I should keep this one, as it was similar to the navy top from Splendid, but ultimately decided to keep it because the pattern was unlike anything we have, and the material is stretchy enough to grow with her. I love the idea of pairing the top with tights and a sweater for fall.  

There you have it! That's our box! Sarah did a truly wonderful job curating items that were perfect for our style, budget, and the season. 

WHY I LOVE MAC & MIA (and a $20 coupon code below!)

Here are a few notes about why I'm so excited about my experience with Mac & Mia:

  • Mac & Mia is not a subscription service! You can request a box when you want one and when you have the budget for one. It's not an auto-recurring system. (This is a HUGE deal for me, after having once been subscribed to a handful of other subscription-type services and finding it hard to cancel when I needed to.)
  • Your stylist acts as your personal shopper. One of the benefits of working with Sarah is that she was able to design my box around the fall/early winter season, for when our girl was in 3-6 month clothing. So many of the stores in my area had very summery colors and styles well into August, and the consignment stores in my area seemed to offer the same seasonal array. It was harder to shop ahead and find fall colors and warmer options. 
  • Your stylist gets to know you. I created a profile that Sarah used to help curate our box, and Sarah took into consideration our preferences on colors, styles, and even details like snaps and zippers. I love that our daughter can share her own preferences and ideas as she grows older.
  • The items are high-quality, hard-to find pieces that are still affordable. While I love a bargain, it's true that you get what you pay for. While I believe in saving as much as possible on absolute basics, I also believe in investing in pieces that will hold up to wear and tear and won't fall apart after one use. The items in our box ranged from $13-14 for accessories and $24-$50 for clothing items. (Side note: $38 was the price of the most expensive item we kept, but I felt strongly that it was something that our daughter will wear for a long time, across seasons, first as a dress and then as a tunic.) I was also excited that many of the pieces Sarah picked for us were made in the USA and the majority were from either small businesses or mom-owned businesses. 
  • You choose what to keep! Each box comes with a $20 styling fee that is waived if you keep two items. Shipping is free both ways, and if you keep everything in your box, you get 15% off the whole shebang. Once you receive your box, you have five days to consider what you want to keep before dropping the pre-paid bag back in the mail with any items you plan not to keep. 
  • TRY IT OUT! If Mac & Mia sounds like it would be a good fit for your family, try it out with my code and get a free $20 off your first box!  Disclaimer: In clicking my referral link, you'll help me earn a small credit towards our next box for Little E! I hope you love the service as much as we loved it! 
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MATERNITY FAVORITES FOR EXPECTANT MOMS

Tomorrow marks 36 weeks of pregnancy! Kent and I found out that we were expecting on New Year's Day, so 2018 has quite literally been the year of maternity life. Though learning that we were expecting Baby Bray was the single most special moment of my life, we've experienced a lot of the normal ups and downs of morning sickness, exhaustion, and worry. The first trimester of pregnancy happened to coincide with my busiest wedding season ever, and during weeks 8-16, I spent every non-working moment laying on the couch, snoozing. :) By the second trimester, I felt much better, but between buying our first home and moving studio spaces in the same month, my best intentions of sharing more about our pregnancy journey fell by the wayside. Now that we're settled in our new home, our nursery is largely complete and the majority of my pre-maternity leave projects are wrapping up, I'm excited to spend the next month (fingers crossed!) of nesting sharing more about what I've learned over the last seven months to help other expectant families. 

 Photo by Holly Felts Photography

Photo by Holly Felts Photography

Throughout my pregnancy, I've gathered so many helpful tips from fellow mamas. Between building our registry, preparing for the postpartum stage, and developing a vision for birth, I've relied on other women who have come before me. For that reason, I wanted to share some of the products and resources that have been helpful in our journey preparing for parenthood. Please note that this is not a sponsored post; I'm simply a fan of everything I share below and want to spread the word! There are so many products that one can buy specifically for the maternity season, and I found that it simply wasn't necessary to go overboard. 

1. Lululemon Wunder Under Crops 

All the praise hands for stretchy pants that fit all the way through pregnancy! Typically, I'm a bargain shopper, but with staples like yoga pants, I'd much rather opt for quality over quantity. While I did find a few lower-cost maternity yoga pants and leggings, I found them to be way less comfortable than the Wunder Under Crops that I had in my wardrobe pre-pregnancy. The pair that I have happens to be a size larger than my normal size in Lululemon, but at 36 weeks, the waist still comfortably stretches around my bump and I find myself washing these many times a week so I can wear them all the time. I will note that my other go-to "All the Right Places" yoga pants from Lululemon stopped fitting comfortably the second I started showing a teeny bit (right around 10-11 weeks). However, I will look forward to wearing the All the Right Places pants that have WAY more compression as I adjust to post-partum life. Or once they fit again. :) 

2. Stainless Water Bottle with Plastic Straw

Hydration is key for pregnancy; most sources will recommend up to 100 ounces of water per day. I found it necessary to make sure that I always had a cup with a straw with me. This helped me stay accountable to getting enough water in. Though we had a lot of straw-type water bottles in our kitchen, none of them fit in my car cup holders and ended up spilling water and rolling around in my car. The one I've linked above is 24 oz (so easy to remember 4 of these per day!), and while it doesn't keep ice solid for any length of time like a more expensive Yeti would, it does keep water COLD. It fits perfectly in my cup holder and I was pleased to find that it fits in my stroller cup holder as well. For me, the easier it is to tote my water bottle around on the go, the more likely I am to get my water in! I found this one at Target for $10 and I may get the next size up for the nursing stage. 

3. Maternity Hand-Me Downs from the Gap

Oh, maternity clothes. For awhile, it's such a gamble trying to figure out what will continue to fit as your belly grows. I was fortunate that many of my flow-y tops, dresses, and rompers fit well into my second trimester, but at a certain point, I really ran out of options. My friend Katie was such a blessing to us with a HUGE stash of hand-me-downs, mostly from Gap maternity. This eliminated the need for me to buy large quantities of maternity clothes. I loved the Gap options. I found their stretchy tank tops, maternity maxi skirts, and pants to be super comfortable all-around. Before you invest a ton of money into maternity clothes (even if you have future babies, you may be pregnant in a totally different season!), ask around and see if anyone has any gently-used maternity clothes they could sell or loan you. (Side note: If you live in an area with a Rhea Lana consignment sale, look there! I volunteered for a local Rhea Lana's sale and there were racks and racks of maternity clothes at good prices.)

4.  New Undies - If Needed!

Early in pregnancy, my chest was so sore that stretchy sports bras were the only thing that I could comfortably wear. While I don't advocate for buying a million maternity things, I highly recommend investing in new bras or sports bras when needed.  I also bought stretchy nursing bras from Amazon way ahead of time; they were comfortable when I removed the nursing pads and used them more as sleep bras. Now I have a few on hand for the hospital before committing to a certain style or size once nursing kicks off in earnest. As far as undies, I found Hanky Panky stretchy lace underwear and Honeydew Intimates from my pre-pregnancy stash to be the BEST. Hanky Panky undies are a splurge for certain but are well worth it. I find both at my local Nordstrom Rack. 

5. Teva Foam Flip Flops

I live in Oklahoma, and it feels like it's been upwards of 100 degrees for months now. Socks and shoes are just no longer a thing in my life. I looked around one of my baby classes and noticed that one hundred percent of the expectant moms had flip flops on. By week 30 or so, it was no longer comfortable for me to put on sandals with a strap without the help of my husband. Even on my daily walks, sneakers were a big no. I happened to have a pair of foam Teva flip flops from a camping trip that I took several years ago, and these have been a God-send. They are supportive enough for 30+ minute walks on gravel and super easy to get on. They also seem to last forever. I wore them on our 10 mile trek around Boston at 32 weeks and not once did my feet hurt. Fashionable? Maybe not so much, but comfort is key at the moment. :) My other go-to flip flops, by the way, are Havianas, but they have far less support. 

6. Tank Dress for Under $10

We don't have a Walmart close to us so I rarely shop there, but I happened to make a trip for a specific errand and found this gem of a $9 tank dress. This one is not exactly the same as the one I purchased (a light grey stripe), but it seems to be the same shape and material, a thick knit. It's not a maternity dress, but I bought a size medium at around 30 weeks and it still fits my bump now that I'm in the ninth month. It washes well and is cut high. Such a steal! 

7. C-Shaped Pillow

If you are newly pregnant for the first time, you may not know about the magic of the C-shaped pillow. It's a game-changer for a lot of people. This one is the one we purchased on Amazon when I was about 15-16 weeks. While I didn't have a very big bump at the time, I slept far more comfortably when my hips were supported, and after using this pillow for one night, I got WAY better sleep. I will say that now that I am at 36 weeks, the pillow is less comfortable for me, as it's hard to get in a comfortable position in general. However, it does help you stay in the recommended side-sleeping position. If you are going to get one, I recommend getting one earlier than you think you'll need it! (Side note: My husband despises it. It takes up a ridiculous amount of room, but it's become a running joke. My sister said that her husband burned hers after their baby was born, and I'm still not sure if that was a joke! Haha!)

8. Isabel Maternity Line at Target

As I mentioned above, I didn't make a TON of maternity-specific clothing purchases, but I did buy a few items from the Isabel Maternity line. I had some favorites--specifically, these jeans and these tanks. I actually outgrew some of the maternity tops that I bought from Target early in pregnancy; the Gap maternity clothes seem to have way more stretch. However, I found a few really great dress options in the Isabel line as well that continue to fit at 36 weeks. 

9. Rainbow Light Food-Based Prenatal Vitamins

I'm leery of even mentioning this here because prenatal vitamins can be such a touchy subject. Of course, the best route is to ask your care provider for his/her recommendation. However, I found these vitamins to be highly rated online and food-based, which is important to me. While I know that some people love shopping online, I appreciate when I can get products locally and easily at the Target down the street, and these are $16 for a 50 day supply at Target. I actually started taking them before we got pregnant and I will continue to take them postpartum. I do recommend eating breakfast before taking them to avoid nausea. 

10. FitBit Charge 2 

I got my FitBit a little over a year ago, and it has been such a huge motivator in helping me stay active. (Note: I do not have an Apple Watch, and if I did, I wouldn't have gotten a FitBit.) While there are many kinds of FitBits, some at lower price points, this one reads your heart rate, which is super interesting to monitor during pregnancy. Before I was pregnant, I ran fairly regularly and monitored my heart fitness on the app. Once I was pregnant, I would start to jog and would get extremely out of breath; my heart rate would skyrocket unless I was just fast-walking. The monitor has helped me stay in a safe zone. The FitBit also tracks sleep, and of course, steps. While I once had a 10k step goal per day, I found this harder to maintain during pregnancy for obvious reasons. Instead, at the suggestion of my OB, I now focus on getting my "active minutes," periods of time when my heart rate is elevated, with a goal of 30 minutes or more per day.  I can also use the FitBit app to track my weight gain through pregnancy, which was especially important for me because we had an umbilical cord complication and for that reason, watch weight gain carefully. While there are surely other pregnancy apps that track weight gain, I found it easier to use the one that I already referenced daily.

11. And one more... PROMPTLY JOURNAL

My friend Brittany Viklund gifted us the Promptly Journal at the very beginning of our pregnancy and I have LOVED it. As an alternative to a traditional baby book, it's considered a childhood "record,"  with prompts for all three trimesters of pregnancy, prompts throughout the first year, and then prompts yearly until age 18. I love that there's plenty of space for notes and stories, but not so much to fill in that it's overwhelming. Of course, the fact that it includes 18 years worth of journaling space makes it an extra special keepsake that we will continue to use for years and years. 

There you have it: eleven of my favorites for this incredibly exciting and ever-changing season of pregnancy. I'd love to hear additional ideas in the comments below--as well as any questions you may have! I'm here to help! And if you're newly expecting, congrats and welcome to the adventure!

SIMPLE GUIDE TO WEDDING INVITATION WORDING

While selecting a wedding stationery design can be one of the most exciting experiences of wedding planning, there’s one task that tends to stump even the savviest of my clients: nailing down the wedding invitation wording. It doesn’t need to be challenging, however! Here is a simple guide to help couples decide how to approach their wedding invitation wording.

Why is it so challenging? 

Wedding invitations are a well-loved carryover of our society’s previous mail-centric culture. While it was once customary for average people to know the etiquette surrounding all types of social mail, many of us our now left scratching our heads. Some couples may know the general guidelines (or where to find them) but are stuck between formal and informal language. To add a layer of complication, a wedding invitation once to came to guests from the hosts directly--traditionally, the parents of the bride. In our current culture, wedding budgets are often built by a variety of contributing parties. Even if one partner's family foots the entire bill, the couple may want to honor both sets of parents (or blended families, even!).

 Photo: Amanda Hedgepeth

Photo: Amanda Hedgepeth

GENERAL RULES OF THUMB:

Basics

  • It’s important to note that invitation is typically comprised of the following pieces: a formal invitation card, and RSVP card and envelope, and usually at least one smaller enclosure card for details. Before wedding websites, it was common for there to be an enclosure card PER topic: one for the reception, one for the directions, one for the accommodations, and so on. While that tradition still lingers a bit, it’s much more common for couples to condense the majority of details to one main details card (or more, if needed). 

How formal do you want to be?

  • The couple should make the decision that best fits the spirit and feel of the wedding. While some couples want to err on the side of tradition, others do not—and that’s perfectly okay. 
  • If you’re having an intimate beach wedding with 30 guests, an informal invitation makes sense for your day. If you’re having a sit-down dinner at a fancy hotel, a more formal invitation makes more sense. The invitation should help set the tone for the day and help your guests understand what to expect (which leads to their comfort once there!). 

Who is hosting?

  • In introductory lines, the phrase “<Host> requests the honour of your presence” is used for a wedding that takes place in a house of worship, while “<Host> requests the pleasure of your company” for a ceremony that takes place in any place other than a house of worship.
  • On that note, the British spelling of “honour” is typically used in the most formal invitation wordings—but if that doesn’t feel resonant for your wedding, use “honor.”
  • If there are many contributors to the wedding budget, or if the couple is hosting the wedding themselves, it’s appropriate to use “Together with their families, Jane Anne Smith and Michael John Tyler invite you to the celebration of their marriage…” instead.

Logistical Details

  • Typically, the invitation includes the date, time, and location for the ceremony only. If the reception will take place at the same location as the ceremony, we simply add “Reception to follow” at the bottom of the card. If there’s a separate reception location, it’s almost always helpful to note this on a separate reception or details card so that there’s plenty of space for the full address and any relevant info that pertains to the reception only (parking, etc.) 
  • Do you really need to have an RSVP card? While each couple should make the decision that works best for them, most stationers recommend leaving any RSVP or website information off the formal invitation itself and including a separate RSVP card with the information listed. Whether your guests are replying by mail or by website, this separate card draws your guests’ attention to the action item that you expect them to take.
  • Other information that may appear on a details card: Parking, shuttles, transportation, welcome or send-off events that apply to the entire body of invited guests, hotel block info, website URL, etc.
  • Most etiquette guidance discourages mentioning registry information anywhere on the invitation. These days, it’s helpful to include a website with links to a registry and let the information spread via word-of-mouth for your less than tech-savvy guests. If you choose to include registry information on the invitation itself, a separate enclosure card should be used.
 Photo: Monica Burgess

Photo: Monica Burgess

SAMPLE WORDING 

Below, you’ll find a variety of sample wedding wordings to support you. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list by any means, and special thanks to the Emily Post Advice resources for some of these example formats. 

  • Bride’s parents are hosting
  • Wedding is happening in a place of worship
  • Reception is offsite; details found on a different card

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith 

request the honour of your presence

at the wedding of their daughter

Anne Marie Smith 

to 

Mark Andrew Jones

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church

Wilmington, Delaware

(Reception note excluded, as reception is offsite)

 

  • Bride’s parents are hosting; married but share different last names.
  • Wedding is happening in a place of worship
  • Reception is offsite; details found on a different card

Mr. John Smith and Ms. Theresa Walker 

request the honour of your presence

at the wedding of their daughter

Anne Marie Smith 

to 

Mark Andrew Jones

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church

Wilmington, Delaware

(Reception note excluded, as reception is offsite)

  • Bride’s parents are hosting
  • Wedding is not happening at a place of worship
  • Reception is in the same location

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith 

request the pleasure of your company

at the wedding of their daughter

Anne Marie Smith 

to 

Mark Andrew Jones

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

The Wilmington Garden Inn

Wilmington, Delaware

Dinner and dancing to follow

  • Couple's parents are hosting together
  • Wedding is not happening at a place of worship
  • Reception is in the same location

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and

Mr. and Mrs. Steven Jones

request the pleasure of your company 

at the wedding of their children

Anne Marie 

and

Mark Andrew

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

The Wilmington Garden Inn

Wilmington, Delaware

Dinner and dancing to follow

  • Couple and their parents are hosting
  • Wedding is not happening at a place of worship
  • Reception is in the same location

Together with their families

Anne Marie Smith 

and

Mark Andrew Jones

request the pleasure of your company at the celebration of their marriage

Saturday, the first of March 

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock 

The Wilmington Garden Inn 

Wilmington, North Carolina

  • Bride’s parents, who are divorced and remarried, host the wedding together
  • Wedding is at a house of worship

Mr. and Mrs. John Carter and

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Owens

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Susanna Jane Carter

and

Doctor Adam Edward Lee

Saturday, the twenty-second of March

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

Temple Beth Israel

Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Bride’s parents, who are divorced and not remarried, host the wedding together
  • Wedding is at a house of worship

Mr. Steven Watson and 

Ms. Julia Gonzalez

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Adriana Cate Watson

to

Taylor Wakefield

Saturday, the twenty-second of March

two thousand eighteen

at six o’clock

The Church of the Nazarene

Brentwood, Tennessee

  • Bride’s parents hosts and groom’s parents are mentioned
  • Wedding is at a house of worship

Mr. and Mrs. Brian Moore

request the honour of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Theresa June

to

Mr. Brian Mitchell Wagner

son of

Captain and Mrs. Joseph Dell Wagner

Saturday, the twenty-fifth of March

two thousand nineteen

at four o’clock

Bentonville Community Church

Bentonville, Arkansas

  • Informal wedding invitation wording, couple hosts, with mention of families
  • Wedding does not take place in a house of worship

Together with their families

Amy Lachner

and

Taylor Jones 

invite you to share

the joy of their wedding day

Saturday, the tenth of July

at half after four o’clock

The Winston House

Richmond, Virginia

  • Informal wedding invitation wording, hosts ambiguous:
  • Wedding does not take place in a house of worship

Stephanie Anne Smith and

Tanner Alan Caldwell

invite you to celebrate

their marriage

Saturday, October 2, 2019

at three o’clock

The Mitchell Barn

Weston, Virginia

Reception to follow