Tips on Toasting


If you kept up with my weekend whereabouts this fall, you know WD & I kept busy on the wedding circuit.

Todd Events out of Dallas does floral decor the biggest and best I've ever seen.  Follow his Insta, and prepare to be floored.

One of his best friend's older sister got married on October 1st, and the ballroom was breathtaking.

had my bestie and my boy by my side for bananas foster and dancing at Brennan's of Houston
Later that month, my high school bestie, Julianne, exchanged vows with Justin in a true-to-her ceremony and reception--both simple and stunning--here in Houston as well.

McConn Marry Christmas card circa 2016!
Fast forward to December, when my brother Jimmy and his bride Laura said 'I do' on the 3rd.

a daddy daughter moment
And last but not least, Olivia and Matt got married the weekend before Christmas.

All six of my siblings are with spouse now, so I've been to my fair share of rehearsal dinners. It's always my favorite night of the weekend: close friends and family gather to gab about how much they love the bride and groom. Growing up, I was much too shy to stand up and give a speech for my sisters and by the time my brothers tied the knot, I decided to say only a few words before introducing the couple's "through the years" slideshow I had made. But when my college best friend Olivia got engaged, I knew it was time to stand up and give a toast. In preparing, I recalled all the rehearsal dinners to make it the most memorable and meaningful to the couple.

Below are five tips on how to be the toasters with the mostest: 

1 :: Partner up if it's fitting.
Oftentimes, the speech portion of the evening is lengthy, so teaming up gets two done in one turn. 

ex: Nicole and I lived with Olivia our senior year at Texas, so we shared many memories and our friendship felt the same in a lot of ways, so it made sense to join forces at the mic that night.

2 :: List it out.
Organizing your thoughts and feelings about one of your closest friends can be tough, so putting it in a list format provides a framework to guide you through the process. 

ex: Nicole and I went back and forth listing things we loved learning about Liv while living with her since Matt would soon be her roommate for life!

3 :: Tell stories.
In lieu of vague and maybe obvious descriptions about the bride and/or groom, tell stories about your time spent together. Everyone knows this person is kind or silly, so tell them something they don't know. 

ex: I'll never forget climbing countertops to kill cockroaches with Nicole's GMAT prep books in me and Olivia's bathroom. I let Matt know killing crawling creatures under their roof was up to him.

4 :: Acknowledge the significant other as much as possible.
Sometimes you've only met the significant other at a shower or two, but chances are, the person you're close to has told you all the things about them. Don't sit down before recognizing how delighted you are they have found them and maybe a reason why. 

ex: Having lived with Olivia the year leading up to Matt's Christmas proposal, we witnessed how much she missed him and loved visiting him. Alluding to that helped the audience relive part of their love story.

5 :: Write it down if you miss your turn.
Most likely, you'll prepare your words ahead of time, so if you don't make it up to the mic, put your thoughts on pen and paper and give it to the newlyweds when they return from their honeymoon. 

ex: This happened to me at brother Andy's, and I've since been told they treasure holding onto the written words. This way, you can say exactly what you intended to and make it more personal.

Here's to a happy 2017 filled with just as many celebrations of love!

The Makings of a Merry Christmas


image c/o Biscuit Home
It's December 26th, and when I was a kid, this was by and large the saddest day of the year. Christmas was 364 sleeps away, and school assignments, studying and other to-dos stood between the last season and the next.

I hate to sound Scroogey, but at 23 going on 24, I feel the opposite: a wave of relief hit me this morning when I realized I had a day in front of me with no plans, primping or meal-prepping. 

wedding eve: WD & I leaving Jimmy & Laura's rehearsal dinner downtown (dress here)

Today's day of rest created a feeling that resembles the kind when you return from an incredible vacation or a Sunday after a solid, celebratory weekend. Your time and energy was well spent with the most significant people in your life. You loved it, and given the chance, you wouldn't do it any differently the second time.

That's how this Christmas season was; here's what made it so very merry for me:

dessert: Dulce de Leche Cremeux with Sopapilla Chips, Spiced Pecan Streusel, Horchata Foam & Colored Meringues
My company party, which included a performance and a beautiful dinner in my boss's backyard.

let it be known: Lupe lived up to the Houston hype according to him
Date night with WD, a first-time fajita eater at legendary Lupe Tortilla's, followed by a neighborhood light tour.

left to right: Kirby, Amy, Carolyn, Erin, Molly, Lindsay and Mimi, the matriarch

A very, merry McConn wedding when #JimmyWentWholeHogg

Nico, KK & me

and a winter white one, too, when lovely Livy said I do to Mr. Skidmore. 

And of course, being home for Christmas and staying here in Houston for the New Year.

I'll be off all week (blessed!) and posting aplenty. Stay tuned!