Millennial Homeowner

Homeownership for Americans 35 and under declined to 36.2 percent, down from 36.8 percent in 2013 and the lowest on record since the census’s Housing Vacancy Survey began tabulating homeownership by age in 1982. (source USA News)

When I came across this stat after I had my closing date set, I actually studied the facts further and even started to doubt my decision to buy a home with my husband.

I have had three close friends go through foreclosures and now are renting. I have no single friends that own homes right now that I can think of.  A few that are newly married that have chosen to wait to buy a house “until it’s the best time in the market”. Then finally the friends that do own homes all have children and are in the construction industry “when it just makes sense”.

Really, the facts have always been clear that the millennial lifestyle is just not like our parents.

card from lindsey

New homeowner cards filled the mailbox the first week. My favorite card from a college friend and fellow millennial.



It wasn’t taken on the day of our closing…but the photo holds the memory and the key that doesn’t work anymore (we changed the locks of course) to our home.


I think of one of the earliest research stats I can remember, the average number of children per couple. Gallup has been asking Americans “What do you think is the ideal number of children for a family to have?” since 1936, when the ideal number per family was 3.6. This number declined between 1957 and 1978 to an average of about 2.5 children, where it remains today—OK enough on that stat that’s another blog post, and no I’m not pregnant.

Steve and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary in our home this weekend. Just for the record, we have also already done 91 Home Depot, Menards and Lowes visits in just three weeks (glad the 11% Menards rebate was going on too). Don’t worry friends this blog won’t turn into a BEFORE and AFTER or DIY picture over-share… we will save that for Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by. Three advertising and marketing events this week, so stay tuned for strategic updates and thought-starters (now I really have to write about at least one).

Your newest millennial homeowner,
MN Design Gal plus Steve 

fun in front of the home

Severson to a leanger

As the bride, when the wedding is over, there are many things that still need to be done–like changing your name. The name change is a big deal and there are many steps that are involved in converting an identity you have been born with to a brand new one. It isn’t just practicing your signature and changing the name on your checks anymore…

I knew that changing my name after decades of being a Severson would be hard, and actually wasn’t really looking forward to it. As a designer your name is your brand, your digital footprint. I branded myself MNdesignGal after starting a Twitter handle for myself and other social channels soon followed, so transitioning in the social space actually helped it become pretty seamless.


For email, I secured months before the wedding to make sure my new name wouldn’t need a number 69 or 21 after it to make it unique.

My Google + account and circles was luckily pretty easily transferable with all the attached history with them. It takes about 7 days, but once that is up and running you can shut down your old maiden name Google+. You do lose your Google +’s on webpages from the past name but that can be quickly made-up for right? Right.
Also you can only combine accounts twice in a lifetime, so beware. [As of December 2013]

google+tricia youtube tricia

YouTube videos and history can NOT be transferred or combined to a new account. So no more TriciaJo22 from 2006, it will now be TriciaJoSeverson connected through my new Gmail account. All videos need to be re-uploaded losing your stats and views. This leaves yourself wondering if should keep both accounts active. #WhatAPain

Facebook name change is easy, my question is how long do I keep my maiden up in as “formally known as (Severson)”? 6 months? A few years? Forever?

Work email transfer will never be perfect, a co-worker will always reference you with your maiden name because of the history the email account will have. I will always need to have an email re-direct from the maiden name. Google chat doesn’t let you change you name, everyone would need to delete you and re-add you with your new name (that is a waste of time and who will do that?).  I’m also not putting on the bottom of my signature ” as of November 16, please refer me as Tricia Leanger” – who am I Prince? Formally known as? No ones reads a signature anyway.

US social security office line

Finally, the social security card change. Get ready ladies for a fun little day trip. I found the 6-county area office that is off of Chicago Ave downtown Minneapolis. Find your location before heading over. In most cities it’s a different office than your friendly and local DMV (I learned the hard way). I thought it was such a great idea to take off work the Monday after my honeymoon to mark this one-off my TO-DO list. From the research I have had, there is never a good time to get there. I stood in line for 2 hours (outside in November) then made my way through a metal-detector and got questioned by an officer (for real). Then I waited over 3 hours in a crowded DMV-type-office with about 100 other people. Ladies don’t worry, the only times you have to go there is if you lose your card or change your name. Thankfully hospitals file for your new baby social security cards.

us social security office 1

What to bring to the Social Security office:
– Wedding License
– Driver’s License
– Current social security card
– Hand sanitizer
– Something to drink (you may be able to sneak something in)
– A snack
– Your phone / iPad fully charged

TIP: Get 2 copies of your wedding license when you go in with your fiancé. It will only be $10 more. This way you can send it to get your Passport changed and even your Social Security without being too nervous about losing the only copy you have. 

Overall the name change has been successful and I have re-branded myself.




Cheers to a new name and an exciting time in any gal’s life. It only happens once–right?!

your MN Design Gal TRICIA jo leanger

a new bride

Wedding Follow-up (the more pictures post)

As many of you know, being a MN Design Wife, the post-wedding keeps me busy with  organizing the photos (5,000 to be exact). Also I have edited my own video for the entire wedding day and trip.

I have turned the wedding website into a lifestyle blog that features post-wedding and ongoing life milestones

lovinrlife capture

I also wanted to follow-up to give Esther Bernal Photography the shout-out it deserves! Esther and Oscar (Wife and Husband team) gave the energy, experience and confidence a Minnesota Bride needed. Esther brought-on her romance being also an editorial photographer for Maxim Magazine and Oscar never left the guy’s side all afternoon. Getting to have both their experience and lens’ on us just made it pretty damn perfect.


We met a few days before the wedding, the second day after we arrived in Cabo, at Villa Valentina’s, where I had seen Esther take pictures in a previous shoot. It has the charm of true Mexico and it would also give my groom and I some short time alone before the ceremony. The venue was full of life and some of those pictures were our favorites for sure.

I would highly recommend Esther and Oscar for future Cabo weddings– they are expecting their first bambino any day. Send them well wishes and great prayers.

Here are just a few of the Bride’s favorites from our November 15, 2013 wedding day captured by Esther and Oscar.


IMG_7492 IMG_7438IMG_7624IMG_5567_thedip IMG_5679 IMG_7262_ashme IMG_8299 IMG_6061 IMG_6497 IMG_6764effect_portrait IMG_8602 IMG_8316 IMG_7985_MandyJT IMG_8000_lindslin IMG_8012_marleneandme IMG_8024_camandtinaus parentsbest IMG_8179bw IMG_7992_jimandjess IMG_8043_ashbrianwithflowers IMG_6984eff_holdingparents IMG_6110eff IMG_6000_KTdust_us IMG_5233 onthebeach_nosetonoce IMG_8263eff.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8 IMG_8077_cheerswedparty.a76ef047d8d24c03823acdf41c4ee7c8

IMG_8146_jump_SM IMG_8944Thanks again for letting this newly wed showcase some of her memories. Remember to Like and Share Esther’s work properly by tagging this blog post from ( )–even better tag Esther Bernal by placing her URL in your post.

Dreaming of Los Cabos,
your Cabo Bride – Tricia 


My Wedding Dress

A simple wedding spotlight on THE DRESS.

I purchased my wedding dress on Valentine’s Day 2012. This dress spoke to me a few weeks earlier when I tried it on with my mom and sister in-store at Posh in Wayzata, MN. I remember trying on about 3 others at the store, but when I came out in that one I literally danced around in it. It is designed by Novia D’art, a Spanish designer. Marie actually no longer carried this designer in her store due to some of the Midwest bridal styles that were much more popular.

In the wedding process this is actually BEFORE Steve and I actually had narrowed our wedding down to Cabo, Mexico. It just felt so right though! I was slightly in denial after leaving there and Mom even suggested we go back to the store that same day and try it on again. We didn’t go back that day, I just needed to think.

Marie, the fabulous store owner, stayed in touch with me over Twitter and DM’d me a week after being in store with my mom and sister asking about my dress search. She then spilled to me the sample sale that was coming up on February 14, just a week away.

Trina and I made our way to Posh that romantic Holiday, I didn’t tell anyone, not even Trina that we were going back to Posh to try on the mysterious dress again. When I got into it and the sample size 16 got pulled tight, it felt so right. Knowing the sale was just today too, we popped the champagne and within 30 minutes I had said, “Yes to the Dress.”

Yes to the dressIMG_0878


Knowing the dress would be a working progress and it was a sample I negotiated my alternations to be included in my dress price. This insured me that I would be happy with not only the fit but the results of taking this designer gown down from a size 16.

The next step is just to wait. Posh let me keep the dress in-store with their team until my first fitting which was in June. Then after a few months I went in-store for alterations at Amazing Alterations in Anoka, MN.

I met Brenda, the owner of the shop and was very excited to continue the alterations with her. She was very passionate about her job, clients and best fit. I would highly recommend her shop. My alterations were to add a simple heart neckline and get that dress to fit me like a glove.

The final fitting came around and I got to include my 2 cousins Kate and Beth to be part of the excitement. My auntie Kara, Mom and Trina joined again too.

bethkate_me_indress weddingdresswKaragirlsmomtrina


This style has been trend over the last year and it has been making it’s way from Europe to the states. Monqiue Lhuillier has featured designs on her website and print ads this year to keep the trend going. Also some supermodels sported the dress on their big days. It’s referenced as a “mullet dress” in one article, which is actually pretty entertaining to me to even think about!

I have taken a chance on destination wedding appropriate high to low and won’t regret this unique and fabulous trend… yet.

High to low 1Monique L homepagehigh to low around the worldSuper model trendmullet? maybesupermodel high low


Moving forward with the wedding day, it was 80 degrees and we were in San Juan Los Cabos at the Hyatt Ziva Resort.

My mom helped me put my wedding dress on while Trina took pictures of the moment and my bridesmaids were close in toe.

All photos below are taken by: 507 STUDIO Photography

IMG_6422-24 IMG_6358-19 IMG_6356-18 IMG_6346-17Shoes1_webbracelet_webmagic 3


Hair shot by 507 STUDIOTricia_Steve_1stLook_507STUDIO_7x10IMG_6534-42dip on wedding dayThanks Team Tricia Bridal Gown for making my dreams come true! 

Tips on shopping for bridal gown from this MN bride’s perspective:

1. Go with your closest sister or friend and MOM if she is also a best friend the VERY first time you try on dresses. It will make a lot of sense to do this with them and make for incredible memories.

2. Try expensive bridal stores and try on dresses way over your budget. They may have samples or sales on one kind in-store that they don’t advertise or tell others about, you won’t know and then you can narrow down your styles.

3. Don’t feel bad that all the bridesmaids can’t come or are not invited to the shopping trips. This one was hard for me but in the end, only my sister and Mom knew my dress style in Cabo and it was an incredibly fun and great surprise for all!

4. Stick to your budget (within $500). In my case, my veil was only $20 (YES that is correct, I had shopped a sample sale after wedding season) so that balanced out my budget for $100-$200 for that and I added it to my dress expenses.

5. Small shops will allow for negotiation, but ONLY with the owner. Remember the women that help with the dresses are nice but they don’t make $$$ decisions so look up the owner before going to the store and look for her to deal with when it comes to the price.

6. Ivory and White are different in every dress. I went in with my dress shopping knowing white would be too harsh with my light skin. It didn’t matter if that high to low dress was gray, purple or black, I was in love with it! (Ok maybe not purple)

7. Don’t regret anything.

8. Do buy your dress within 9 months, but not 2 years. Too many friends get engaged and buy the dress that same week. Research, think and ENJOY the experience with your mom and closest friends.

9. Size doesn’t matter. Seriously size doesn’t matter. It’s your alterations studio that will be your best friend and make it fit perfectly if off the rack or bought too big or even (don’t do it) too small.

10. Alterations are expensive so plan for it– or negotiate them part of your dress cost.

Happy dress shopping!

your MN design Bride …. Oh MY I’m a Wife now!


Wedding Print Materials

When it comes to being a design gal and getting married, the invite comes first to mind, but it doesn’t stop there. Since our wedding was a destination wedding, we knew it was important to make sure the guests felt comfortable with the city, know others traveling in the group, have a schedule of events and have a personal thank you for them in their rooms to read and refer to.

Gathering this info was a simple and fun thing to do to involve the groom. I knew I wanted it to be a simple small package for to the rooms so found flat card envelopes with the perfect ocean design. To print on them, I simply ran though my Epson Ink Jet printer! It took a bit of trial and error, but inserting the sealed bottom first made it easy for the printer to grab and print. Since my design didn’t need to be perfectly straight, I didn’t need to fuss with it being slightly not centered or it being angled.

TIP> Have someone in your wedding party deliver the envelopes and schedules to the guests and their rooms because asking room service to do this will result in extra charges.

best day ever printed bags

packet inserts for weddingSince all the guests were staying at an all inclusive resort, we knew most wouldn’t travel too far but we wanted to include a quick guide of tips and places to see if they chose to experience some local flavor.

local flavor

Many people were meeting each other the first time in Cabo for the wedding, so we wanted to have a few memorable stats about each person. Our group was about 25; this was the perfect opportunity to spotlight not just the traditional wedding party but everyone traveling for the wedding. On the bottom of the handout was the Gracias note to the guests from the bride and groom.
Below is the 1 page printed 2 sided insert.


The schedule was something that was important but slightly tricky, since this was destination the times and reception location weren’t quite hammered out before arriving. We had to be specific for the wedding party, while more general for the other guests. We settled on 3 different schedules that would be inserted for each guest making most sense to them. The Guys, Sexy Ladies and The Friends – Guests main schedule is shown below.

TIP> tell guests to remove their wrist bands. Each resort will be different but if you ask they can be removed then put back on when the wedding is over the next day. This will make your photos prettier. In our case all the Groomsmen forgot to remove their bands. Mother of the Bride had a pair of mini scissors handy for them though luckily. 

wedding day schedule guestsA thank you was a must and not only did we include that on the guest handout but we also made a personal note to each guest printed on the backs of scraps from the main invite.

TIP> Remember that if your getting custom printed invites they WILL have scraps and WILL throw them away. If you go to the press check make sure to let the printer know you want the scraps, or stay (like I did) and watch the printing happen and grab them yourself before they go into the garbage. Makes for great gift tags and notes later.

rings on scraps

Finally included had to be a fun door hanger with some humorous personality. It was a quick custom design that fit perfectly into the printed room bag. Printed on a white cover stock and the hole was punched out by Printer Mike’s wife scrapbooking die cuts.

TIP> Need a printer? Contact Mike Oslund, he will work with you. Having friends that are outstanding printers is a designer’s forever best friend.

door hanger press readycome and knock on my door

The table setting for the wedding needed to be simple yet personal. I also got a tip from other destination wedding brides that assigned seating was a must because it took away a lot of the fuss and awkward seat saving. I quickly made 2 seating charts that were possible with 2 different table sizes. Then thought more about the table reading materials. Knowing we would be oceanside the wind could be a factor, so a metal starfish was placed on each setting as a paperweight. These were found by the Mother of the Bride and also owner of This or That Services and Ideas.
Remember the wedding invite? There was about 25 extras so those were used as the template on the plate with a new personal message from the newly weds.

sitting chart

wedding invite by Tricia  place setting 1 place settingplace setting 2message from bride and groom dinner

Did you notice the unique table vases? Those are mercury glass and were brought to Cabo by the Mother of the Bride. The table runner sparkled with the candles and was bought at Crate and Barrel. The bridesmaid bouquets were placed in the middle of the table, just enough to not get in the way of the view of the others across the table and enough to finish the table look.

table setting candles

Don’t you hate it when you sit down and don’t know or remember what you picked for dinner at a wedding? We agreed, so included a simple menu with the courses and tucked it under the plate reading materials, notice it on the right side of the plate.

TIP> Print the menus before and if there is a last minute change, the guests won’t mind. Carrots turn into green beans or mashed potatoes are now french fries, just include a small friendly disclaimer on the bottom of the menu. Your guests will laugh and drink more wine.

dinner menu

The other idea we wanted for our guests was an activity to do while they were sitting together at the harvest table. This activity needed to be simple yet easy to execute and also be a simple conversation starter. Included were printed note cards by Write On Riot with fill in the blank options for the guests. Pens with the resort name on it were distributed to the table between the 1st and 2nd courses. Then the guests placed them further up on the table to be collected by the maid of honor before dinner was over.


Don’t think that the wedding printed materials need to stop with paper. I made custom designed can koozies the week we booked the wedding venue. I didn’t use a fancy printer, many online sites will do, just pay close attention to the quality breaks and die prices for custom designs. My online source was Discount

The koozies were given to the guests when they arrived at the pool on their first day at the resort. Each guest had them at their side throughout the entire trip and couldn’t wait to take them home.
Koozies are great for these reasons:
1- Reminder to all guests (including the Bride and Groom) who is part of their wedding crew while at the pool a few margaritas in.

2- Hides all plastic cup wear and makes for incredible photo-opts.

3- Actually keeps your beer colder, drinks cooler and your hand off those frosty beer cans.

4- Guests love free stuff and this is another cost-effective way to send something home with them.

Outlined Design ready for upload:  Can_koozie_blk_otline
nterested in doing one for an event or your wedding? Just send me a note, I’m happy to help a friend out and will work inside your budget.

koozies for weddingcan kookie and my flowersa bride gets thirsty too!

With a cigar bar at the resort a book of matches was needed. These were printed off of the knot’s wed shop just because they had a good deal on them one day.
After my 100 matches arrived, I relaized that TSA says no matches on planes– not even allowed in your check bag! Good thing this photo was taken back at home from sand at Lake Calhoun… 

wedding matches

Cheers to you and your wedding printing!

Your newly wed gal Tricia 

the newly wed

photos taken and credited to: 507 Studio Photography by Trina Severson

Write on Riot flashback video post.

Back from #CaboWedWeek

The newly weds are back from Cabo San Lucas after getting married with 25 of our closest friends and family. Too many stories, memories and laughter to share– along with thousands of photos and hours of video to still edit.

The trip overall went smoothly, by far exceeding expectations at the Resort Hyatt Ziva and I am happy to share some first look photos by 507 STUDIO Photography. Trina not only was my Maid of Honor and sister, but she also took photos and video on the wedding day between being in the stop-light herself. She has an incredible eye and I’m excited to share her amazing photography with you. Please tag her website and/or Facebook Page if you share or Pin the photos below. Enjoy!

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Designed by Tricia Jo (your MN design Gal)


Designed and created by your MN Design Gal


Bracelet and something blue by J. Crew San Francisco.


Room packets were dropped off the day after everyone arrived. Designed by Tricia and bags were printed at home through ink jet printer.


Table settings included a personal place card, metal star fish as a paper weight and souvenir and the dinner menu, a thoughtful note from the couple and activity cards to fill out by each guest.

Tricia_Steve_1stLook_507STUDIO_7x10 IMG_6515-39_hairedit_FINAL_SM_blogready IMG_6143-5_web IMG_6167-7_SM IMG_6188-12_web Shoes1_web TandS_VillaV_sm IMG_6477-31 IMG_6534-42 IMG_6635-49 IMG_6727-59

More photos will come late December by the main local Cabo wedding photography. Stay tuned and look forward to many blog recaps and day summaries. was the wedding website and will stay part of my life as an universal life website with milestones and future family adventures shared. MNdesignGal Social Type will stay as the main blog for up to date thoughts on digital and capture life’s important moments, travels and smart thinking. This MN Design Gal will not ever go away no matter what stage in life I am in or where I live.

Top 5 Tips to successful photography from a Bride’s perspective:

1. Your make-up needs to be thought out and tested before the big day. I used Studio Fix by MAC after lots of research on what to wear and made sure I had a powder to absorb shine and matte lipstick and bronzer.

2. Plan on a hair touch-up appointment day of wedding. I got my hair done at 11AM then saw my man at 2PM for a 2-3PM photo shoot. Then got my hair touched-up at 3:15-3:30PM with fresh curls and a last-minute up-do if needed because of the wind. It gave me a chance to correct things if needed or make a decision due to the weather if needed, in my case 80 degrees and little wind, I stayed down.

Hair shot by 507 STUDIO

3. Sister / Maid of Honor / Personal attendant stays with you during photos, even the one on one groom + bride photos. This helped because Trina knew what was my best side (my right side), how my hair should fall and what lip stuff I needed. She also was the expert  with the shot list in hand. (item #4)

4. Have a shot list including your Pinterest MUST-HAVE’s and nice to have’s. This was a simple print-out I made before the trip and the Maid of Honor was briefed on it. It was actually 507 STUDIO’s idea and I ran with it. The groom was aware of the shot list too. Below is a copy of my first page.

Shot list5. Practice Dipping with your Groom. This is a signature move the photographer will ask you to do multiple times, at the end of the aisle, on the beach and about 10 more times over the few hours of the day. My groom and I did NOT practice this and it was awkward and he even almost dropped me on my head at the end of our ceremony! (LOL true story) Take 5 minutes and teach your groom and work with an expert before the big day.

lift on wedding day dip on wedding day

We will see you soon…
Your Just Married Design Gal

your MN design Gal

Credits to: 507 Studio for all photography showcased, all wedding Design pieces were done by Tricia your MN Design Gal: Save the Dates, Main invites, Bags printed at home, Wedding collateral designed by Tricia and printed by Mike Oslund at Daily Printing.

#CaboWedWeek – 1 week away

Ladies and Gentlemen the official final week before the wedding has arrived.

Not only am I just 7 days, 18 hours and 34 mins away from becoming a Mrs., but my bags are just about packed for the exciting adventure over to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Life is truly good.
It has been my motto the last few days because I’m so incredibly thankful for the supportive friends and family, fun-loving co-workers and awesome network of talented people. Life is good. Destination weddings have their own unique energy surrounding them and I can appreciate the candid thoughts, kind surprises and packages to my door and positive wishes from all.

Steve asked me to marry him here November 30, 2012. oneknee_Nov302012

And we will be getting married here November 15, 2013.013_Los-Cabos-Mexico-by-AlecT10

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel with 21 guests to this incredible destination.





Now I’m off to get married!
your MN design gal – forever a gal, and soon to be a wife


English Tea Party Bridal Shower

Cover bridal showBeing a bride-to-be there are many events that you stress over, plan and prepare for. The bridal shower is a special event where I got to show up and had no idea what to expect or much to prepare myself for. It was truly a delightful afternoon and couldn’t have asked for anything more.


tea sips

guests hellos

On Saturday, my 3 aunts threw me an English Tea Party Bridal Shower. It was hosted at my Aunt Kara’s home in Rogers, Minnesota.

The guests were encouraged to bring a wedding picture of their wedding or one that stood out to them in their life. My bridesmaids brought one of their parent’s wedding pictures while 1 of my single bridesmaids brought a cut out from a magazine of her future wedding day. #loveit

There was a wall of pictures that featured me as a little girl dressing up in wedding attire, playing with Barbies and with family and friends.

There was a wall of tea cups that was from my Grandmother Carole who brought her huge collection to showcase and share with us. Everyone had a different tea-cup and there was even a demonstration of how to make tea like the English. The accent was true and Nanny Joan hasn’t lived in England since 1963.  Both my Grandmother’s had their dresses showcased along with my Mom’s wedding dress, which I ended up trying on later.

allison leanger

Allison is Steve’s only niece and she is 3 years old.

cute kids and guests games with aunts mustaches and lips

What goes with tea? Of course delicious tarts, biscuits and crumb-its!

There were games where Kim lead with the grocery love story game. That included gifts from Comet, Pledge, Brawny TP, a Bridal Barbie, Extra gum and so much more. Can you guess where some of these fit in? I share the real-life story that was told.

my first bride barbie

Steve and Tricia’s Romantic Grocery Story
One morning, just before DAWN, Steve set out to SCOPE the land for a BRIDE. It was no SECRET that he was ready to share his LIFE with a PREMIUM woman.

Tricia had ALWAYS dreamt of a BRAWNY man who was CHARMIN and romantic. She imagined an EXTRA special someone to SNUGGLE with every night. She set OFF to find her true love.

Steve was about to FINISH his search. He ended up in FAMOUS DAVE’S talking to the BAR KEEPER’S FRIEND, when KABOOM, he spotted her by DIJON. He let out a CHEER and took her in his arms. He could feel the soft CARESS of her touch and he showered her with HUGS AND KISSES.

Steve said, “I PLEDGE my love to you, Tricia”, got on his knee and asked her to marry him.

And they lived happily ever after as MR. and MRS. Leanger.

mustache ride tea party sisters

Next mini lips and mustaches were handed to every guest. We participated in a game that was He said She said. Some of the most surprising things were that my bridesmaids got almost all right and even my Grandma participated and were surprised with “spicey” answers they thought I said but Steve did! The moment of looking over and seeing everyone with funny lips and mustaches was priceless. They would watch me for my reaction while I got to laugh at answers that were unexpected from the Groom.

Did you know that Steve’s celebrity crush is Reese Witherspoon?

gift openinggift opening

The gift opening is pretty standard practice at a shower where you sit in-front of the ladies and enjoy the thoughtful cards and opening of gorgeous things of the registry and new things that would start our lives together. What you have to be cautious of is the pictures that are being taken and what your facial expressions are telling about you. Being able to pronounce the guest’s names correctly is crucial. Be aware of your guest list, last thing you want to do is mispronounce someone’s name on the card that is at your shower. This may get difficult with new extended families, but in my case I was sitting good with all my guests knowing very well.

What took me by surprise was a simple gift my sister and Maid of Honor decided to present me with unexpectedly. She will have me open an envelope every Friday before the wedding and present me with advice that I gave her over the years for me to reflect on.

Many amazing gifts from guests that included my contemporary champagne glasses, full sets of my new everyday china dishes, cloth napkins and rings, serving pieces and our fancy knife set. Nanny Joan got me the tea set that matched my dishes – how fitting!

20130924-081153.jpgtshirt made by mom My Mom surprised me with a T-shirt that she got custom-made after being engaged to my Dad. I ended up wearing it later that night after going through the dishes and gifts at the house.

Grandma Carole gave me her grandmother’s white hankie that she used on her wedding day. That was very special and I will be using that on the wedding day in Cabo.

The best part about showers is getting together for a celebration and keeping the tradition of ladies showering each other with lovely gifts and best wishes.

This custom originated in the 1890s and is today most common in the United States, Canada, and by North American influence, in Australia. The Origin of Bridal showers were originally arranged to only present gifts to the bride since they commonly took care of the household deeds, however in more modern times the bridal shower has been more commonly dedicated towards the giving of lingerie and sex enhancing toys. 

china opening

My China accent plate (lower right).

guests aunties love 3 generations

We stepped outside to take some candid pictures that I will forever keep close to my heart. The generation pictures of both my Grandmother’s hands and mine was the perfect touch to end the day, along with a fashion show that starred their wedding dresses from over 50 years ago. I am pictured wearing my Mom’s wedding dress from November 14, 1981.

grandma's face dress up

Trina stepped into a dress from 1959 where Nanny Carole wore it on June 20, 1959.


Special thanks to STUDIO 507 that took all photos that day. Trina is not only the best maid of honor yet, but she takes the time and has the skills to multi-task and take incredible pictures and catch those special moments.

Some DIY ideas for decorations to think about for future parties and tea parties:

tea pot hanging







dress of candies

Wow that was a lot to share with you today. I’m truly blessed and hope you can use some of these ideas for future showers. I highly recommend the tea party theme!

Cheers to a successful shower!
Bride-to-Be and your MN Design Gal


Click here to view this photo book larger Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.

Destination Wedding Planning – catch all

Many of you may know that I am a Bride-to-Be and am gettin’ hitched in November out of the country.

Snow to Sand

I thought it was time to recap and look at the process thus far. Many of my followers, co-workers and life-long friends have been intrigued on how it is planning a destination wedding and what is left on the list to do.

Advice: if you don’t have thick skin and not for sure on a destination wedding, Don’t DO IT.
The first thing I found is people have their opinions and will be quick to ask how many of the friends and family are going. If your wishy-washy about your decision it will be way to easy to feel bad about others not being able to attend or travel and you will start to feel bad and the whole experience will be a #FAIL.

Luckily, my Groom and I weighed out many locations, venues and destinations before deciding on Los Cabos, Mexico drastically. I have not regretted it [thus far] and am very excited to say that I wouldn’t want it any other way.


The next question everyone will ask Where are you getting married? Cabo is a very common location that people have heard before but many don’t know that it is in Mexico. Also if you want to be “technical” Cabo is slang for Los Cabos which is the entire peninsula, while the resort our vows will be is San Jose, just north-east of Cabo San Lucas.


Are Kids Invited?

Resorts are either kid-friendly or adult-only. When picking it is hard to think about not including the small ones or the kids of your friends. In our case, we didn’t make it the only reason but it also was something I was thinking more of then my groom and I didn’t want to exclude anyone under 18 that would or could come. Needless to say, our confirmed guest list is all above 18 and we are at a kid-friendly resort currently. Can’t plan for that one.

The Groom picked our resort out of the many choices and some help from travel agents knowing we wanted:
1. Excellent service *****
2. New experience for guests
3. Outstanding food

“How many guests are coming?”

Why are people curious about the number of guests at the wedding? I guess this one got tricky because originally the groom and I thought if we were doing destination it would also be the solution to inviting extended family. Then after thinking more closely we realized that when you invite someone you also have to expect that they may come, and that made our group to still be small and quaint group.

The Planning

In the movies, they portray it as you pick 1 color of flower and just show-up. There is more to that if you plan on having a Minister, music, planned dinner, bridesmaid flowers and a reception that is outside. Of course, it is simplified and thinking of all the small things for the table and decorations for the church is not needed – your on the ocean with palm trees people. As a designer, I’m taking the time to create custom hand-outs and menus that would reflect our branding and wedding theme.

Wedding Coordinators

Your on-site wedding coordinator will answer your questions in about 5-10 days and will only answer your questions, not expand on more information or friendly discussions. My impression is that they have a lot of brides and until your on-site they know you may change your mind and nerves can be calmed by tequila and the view of the ocean. [Mine will be. Lime please – no salt.]



Having a photographer that had a true, bright intimate personality was my goal. I knew that I had talented friends and family to take pictures but didn’t want to worry about that. I started my search with $8,000+ photographers that were used at high-end resorts and restaurants in the area. I even wrote a bride that had her wedding at a popular sunset resort and ended-up chatting with her multiple times to get references.
Setting up phone calls with a few high-end photographers led me to writing down tips on the timeline of the day, ceremony recommends and even got my minister through a reference.
A referral to a referral to another referral led me to Esther who I enjoyed her work and sincere down-to-earth approach to her photography. It ended up working out perfectly that my wedding coordinator gave me the 5 photographers that were preferred and didn’t require any additional money since they work with the resort. Esther was available and agreed to giving original photos along with touched-up and was within my turn-a-round time-frame.

Bridal Party Planning

Again, thinking about destination I knew my only sister would be my maid of honor and was fine with a very nontraditional set-up. But after starting the planning process and friends and guests started to book and plan to come, I couldn’t help but want them in beautiful dresses and be my bridesmaids. Once I started, I wanted more friends to also be included, but the mother-of-the-bride made a point, “You must also have guests at your wedding, otherwise no one will be sitting down for your ceremony.” [laugh out loud] Right? It’s true – so I had decided on 4 bridesmaids made up my longest friends that are attending our wedding celebration. My groom actually had to also have a thick skin with his only brother not being able to attend the wedding out of the country, so he has 3 best men including my brother.

What to Wear

My maids inspiration Brides example 2

The ladies I had a vision and even though it was more work, it will be worth it! Everyone has their own individual style and long chiffon dress by different designers within the same color palette family of rose gold. They will pair that with neutral and white wedges and mystery jewelry they will receive before the trip. This look was inspired by a celebrity wedding of course:

The grooms dress was actually harder than I had planned. Going out to Cabo we didn’t want to deal with renting and having suits or pieces left behind, so we knew from the start we would be buying the pieces. Visiting 5 different Jos. A. Banks, we were disappointed with their color choices and a lot of their retail sales staff. We choice Men’s Warehouse where Steve will be wearing Kenneth Cole in a textured pattern Taupe suit. The groomsmen aren’t wearing full suits but a Calvin Klein textured white shirt, Taupe slacks and a stylish tie clip. We went with a blue Steve Madden boat shoe that has modern no laces and white trim that Steve gifted the guys.


I will pack for two weeks and have shopped end of summer sales for bright color dresses and a swimsuit for every day. Just the other day I took a picture of the beach wear and also laid-out and marked in the groom’s closet what shirts he will bring and noted the things he still needed. [I literally put post-its on a few dress shirts to mark them.] Of course I will be carrying my wedding dress on with me and Steve will have his suit as our carry-on’s.

Capturing and Social Planning

We plan to have friends and family take their own video and tag @LovinRlife on @instagram or Facebook #LovinRlife as the main digital foot print staying on theme with the wedding website

Recapping the event will include a few blog posts along with gathering video so that he can be archived.


Since the Holidays are coming after the wedding, a Holiday card / New Year card with wedding pictures will have to be in order.



The Groom and I will be staying at our resort to ensure we time and money to visit the downtown and culture of Los Cabos. Why leave a resort when you have the Honeymoon Suite?

Lastly my overall thoughts is a destination wedding is an experience that you simply can’t explain how it feels until you experience it for yourself. Planning a trip is fun and already has a lot of energy surrounds it but having it also be part of the best day of your life is just an incredible feeling. Friends and Family that make the effort to come will be in your life forever. This isn’t just an event you get a free meal or dance at a fancy entertainment venue – it’s a true commitment. Overall my support has been outstanding and the kind gestures from the people that matter is really thrilling and truly unforgettable.

1 month & 27 days to go!

Your Cabo Bride-to-Be

Unfriendyou funny

The Wedding Invites

Some little girls dream of their wedding dress and the flowers while this bride-to-be has been dreaming of her letterpress self-designed invites since she was 12! My letterpress dream came true with the help of Kim from Vandalia Street Press.

Kim rocked her press skills on her 1956 Heidleberg Windmill. This was a referral of referral of a referral (for real). Thanks to Gina Nacey from Adventure Creative Group in St Cloud and Mary from Bruno Press for leading me to Kim.

The planning began one sunny afternoon. As you can see from our tabletop instagram, we meant business.




The color had to be right. The PMS was 485 and we added some transparency and yellow to it to tone it down to ensure it wasn’t a “red” but a watermelon.

The paper I chose was a Pearl White Crane letterpress paper at 220 weight. I actually ended up buying the envelopes online at Amazon because I needed that side open in the same Crane stock and the local paper store only sold it in hundreds and I needed only 40.






Very excited as we loaded the plates on the press after the final tests. Did you know that simple text outlined PDF’s make the letterpress plates?


Thumbs-up for even the groom showing up to participate with this experience. He was the one asking the main questions too. Who knew?!






Have the professionals cut your invites too. Better then loosing the tip of your finger to your rusty exact knife from college. 20130605-164019.jpg

Invites are sent! What a relief!
It truly was a dream of mine, but feels good to have them out of my hands and into our bestest friends and closest family. The stamps were bought months ago and the coral and white tropical flowers were saved between the others to pull out the tropical theme and oranges and corals.


Stay away from printing the main invites yourself, between the overall printer maintenance, color correction and ink replacement nightmares and additional stress just let the experts do it. You can stick to making your own mini jars of M&M’s and shopping on Etsy.

The main event:

DSC02252 DSC02253 DSC02257 DSC02258 DSC02260 DSC02283

DSC02274 DSC02275

Copper letterpress plates mounted on wood from Owasso Graphics in Michigan. My design was just outlined and exported to a PDF to make these exact size plates for the press. I paid $20 more for the Copper because Magnesium just wasn’t as cool with the coloring and aging of the metal.

This will be a forever keepsake displayed in my office. Plus the groom’s favorite metal is Copper (wires though).

DSC02276 DSC02303 DSC02304 DSC02307 DSC02313 The Save Our Dates were sent out in April and were just the start to the branding of the wedding. They were printed digitally by Printer Mike Oslund from Daily Printing locally in Minneapolis.DSC02321 To help stay focused with the wedding brand. I created this 1-sheet style guide that outlines the colors, fonts and imagery.

Wedding Brand Sheet DSC02324

[design plug] I’m happy to help personalize your day because everyone deserves a one-of-a-kind invite experience. Remember invites can be printed online (scary but true) on a traditional off-set printer or even-handed-off to your local guy. Letterpress was just my little dream.

Bride-To-Be and Your MN Design Gal

Questions? Ideation? Email me.

My work here is done! Wait- we have wedding day materials now to do...

My work here is done! Wait- we have wedding day materials now to do…