Sunday, 22 September 2019

What We Did In Rome

What We Did In Rome Itshollieann
What We Did In Rome Itshollieann
It's been a whole month since we headed to Rome on the first leg of our honeymoon. It's a city we've both dreamed of visiting for years but we somehow never found the right time, until now. When we were planning our travel for the year we knew we had to add Rome to our list so at the end of August we spent three days in the ancient city. 


WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed at Tritone Top House in Municipio 1 and honestly couldn't recommend it enough. Not only was it in the perfect location for walking to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain but it was also tucked away on a little side street with just a couple of rooms, private terrace to sit and relax along with friendly, helpful owners. 

WHAT WE DID

Even though we wanted to experience everything Rome had to offer, we also wanted a relaxing and slow break. Since we were right near the Trevi Fountain, we headed straight there on our first evening - I have to say, it was stunning. We battled the crowds around 7pm but headed back later, around 9pm for an almost uninterrupted view. On our second morning we took a stroll to the Spanish Steps before grabbing coffee and walked down them before admiring the view from the bottom. We decided against a tour of the Colosseum but made sure to head there to walk around the perimeter and the surrounding area - In all honesty, it was surreal. I completely underestimated the sheer magnitude and just how amazed I'd be, seeing it up close. It was so special and one of my favourite parts of our visit. We also accidentally stumbled upon the Pantheon on an afternoon walk and spent some time in the square, taking in the sights. I'd have loved to see Villa Borghese gardens but by the time I remembered, we were on our way to their airport. With regards to the Vatican, as much as it's historical and special to so many, it wasn't somewhere we were drawn to. We'd absolutely love to visit Rome again in future and do more but for us, this was perfect. 

WHERE WE ATE & DRANK

Within out first few hours, we'd tracked down pizza and wine at Sacro e Profano 11, a medieval church not too far from our hotel. I'd never tried pizza in Italy but as everyone told me, it was incredible. That evening, I had a delicious Caesar salad dining outside at Baccano and on our last day, we went back to sit street-side and drink wine with happy hour bites from the chef. Whenever we were near the Trevi Fountain, we made a gelato stop at Trevi Cafe where, if I could have eaten the whole tub of lemon, I would have.  

The next morning, we headed to Bar Frattina for coffee and sweet treats after vising the Spanish Steps - I could have sat there for hours people watching. On our way to the Colosseum later that day,  we stopped off at The Public House after massively underestimating the walk from our hotel. We sat outside, drinking wine and eating far too many home-cooked chips. We'd originially planned to eat near the Colosseum that evening but I'd filled myself up too much so on the way home, we actually headed back to Sacro e Profano 11 and got talking to the most lovely Australian couple which rounded off our evening perfectly. 

After visiting the Pantheon the next day, we sought out air-conditioning, pizza and cola at La locanda del tempio. The pizzas were huge and more than enough for one each but nonetheless, when in Rome. As I mentioned, we headed back to Baccano on our final evening for wine and nibbles from the chef before making another stop at a wine bar then picking up a McDonalds on the way back to the hotel. We really wanted to seek out a beautiful restaurant but we were so exhausted that we called it a night. 
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Though Rome is a city with so much to see and do, we wanted this trip to be slow. Walking around the narrow streets was enough to keep us occupied so everything else was a bonus. I've also written about what to know before you go to Rome so be sure to give it a read if you're heading there.

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Sunday, 15 September 2019

Planning A Las Vegas Elopement

Planning A Las Vegas Elopement ItsHollieAnn
It's been almost three months since our perfect Las Vegas wedding and ever since, I've been rounding up all things planning to share with you. When I started looking at weddings in Vegas, I was surprised to find very little information especially for UK residents. I hope this helps in some way, if you're planning to do the same. Early on in the prep, I wrote about why we were planning to elope but even if you're having a bigger wedding, there should still be some details in here for you.

In no particular order.. 

LEGALITIES

Starting with the legal stuff. Before doing anything, I checked Gov.uk for the requirements to marry in the USA. At the time of our wedding in June, we didn't have to inform our local registry office, seek permission from our council or file anything when we got home. 

I also checked the Nevada government website to confirm, as a same sex couple, we could marry there and if there was anything they required. Under Nevada law, couples are required to obtain a marriage licence before they marry and so we completed the pre-application online a few months before we flew out (they last for one year) and then went to the Marriage Licence Bureau the day after we arrived to sign and collect our documents which we had to take with us to our wedding.

It's worth noting that your marriage documents will be filed by your officiant soon after the wedding and you will then order your certificates online which you can use in the UK to change your name and prove your marriage where necessary. You don't have to file this anywhere except somewhere safe in your home. Ours took around two weeks to arrive - If you receive anything in the post asking you to order them, don't do this. Use the instructions your officiant gives you to ensure legitimacy.

PHOTOGRAPHY

I found our photographer, JamieY Photography, on Instagram whilst I was in Charleston, a month or so before we got engaged. I sent so many photos to my other half and on our way to a New Years party when I was back home, I messaged her to see if she was available the week we were due to fly out. That night, much to my surprise, we got engaged and the next morning Jamie confirmed she was free. I couldn't believe it. 

I'd looked at her work for months, scoured her website in incredible detail and read endless amazing reviews online. I knew she was perfect right away and even after digging deeper, I found no fault. Jamie was incredible and so fun to work with.

Not only was this amazingly helpful but, without jumping to the next point, she also offered packages. This meant that we could choose one that was right for us that included a whole host of other wedding aspects and see the total cost upfront. Genius. 

PACKAGES

Before we booked a package through Jamie, I searched a little online for other planning companies and what they could offer. As you can imagine, there are a multitude of wedding companies in Las Vegas all offering to help with your day. I followed a few on Instagram to get a feel for what they were like but after delving deeper into what their packages offered, I didn't find any that came close to what Jamie was offering. There seemed to always be a catch or something missing - There were also a few that didn't get back to me which was more frustrating than I care to admit. 

If you're going to opt for a package, be sure to ask what's included. Confirm what the price will be and any additional costs you may incur whether that be from tax, tipping or permit fees. Make sure there are contracts in place to protect you as a consumer but also them as a supplier.  

Generally speaking I found that there were additional costs for transport, permit fees and props. These packages will not cover your licence fee or certificate costs. 

HIRING A PLANNER

We were so lucky to have the help of the wonderful Angelica included in our package. She helped us with everything from choosing our vendors, arranging them for us, coordinating the day and was generally the best person to have with us. She even made our dinner reservations and sourced the champagne I'd been dying to find. Nothing was too much trouble for her.

If I'm honest, especially when planning a wedding overseas, I think a planner is 100% necessary no matter how big or small the day. Angelica knew the market, had connections with great suppliers and vendors and of course, was in the same timezone to everyone she needed to contact. 

In the early stages of planning, I questioned whether it was necessary to hire a planner but the closer our wedding got and the more stressed my fiancee and I became, we knew it was the right decision for us. It's worth noting that it also didn't cost us the ends of the earth which was a huge bonus.

LOCATION

Though Angelica could have helped us find a location, we knew after seeing Jamie's photos that we wanted to get married on El Dorado Dry Lake Bed. As the name suggests, it's a dry lake bed surrounded by mountains about 30 miles outside of Vegas. Our friends and family didn't believe it existed.

It's important to know that not all wedding venues in Las Vegas are chapels. Each hotel will have their own wedding space if that's more up your street. For a permit fee, you can marry in the Valley of Fire or Red Rock Canyon or like us, the Dry Lake is always an option. You can choose to marry in the Grand Canyon however this is covered under Arizona law and so would be a very different scenario - I'd recommend doing separate research on this.

The Dry Lake has no cost, Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon have permit fees and each chapel will have different prices depending what option you choose. Pick a location that suits you as a couple.

OFFICIANT

We were sign posted to three different officiants by Angelica, our planner. From this we read their profiles, watched other ceremonies they'd conducted and like always, read reviews online. If you're not hiring a planner, you can find officiants with a quick search on Google, The Knot or Wedding Wire. Be sure to check they're official by visiting the Nevada government site. We were married by Judy of Wedding Vows Las Vegas and couldn't recommend her enough.

TRANSPORT

It's worth noting, if you're not hiring a planner to organise, you'll need to find a way to get to your chosen location. The Dry Lake we married on was 30 miles outside of the city, in the middle of the desert and so we needed someone to take us there, wait with us and bring us home. The cost of an SUV was far less than I thought and I think, with a tip, it was around $200 and it was booked through Lucky Limo SUV. 

INSPIRATION

Like anything, get some inspiration from Pinterest or Instagram. You'll find a whole host of suppliers, photo and location inspiration, ideas on props, set ups and everything inbetween. Searching the hashtag #LasVegasWeddings results in a real feast for the eyes.
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Happy planning! If you have any questions that I haven't answered above, let me know!

Planning A Las Vegas Elopement ItsHollieAnn

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Saturday, 7 September 2019

Falling In Love With Paris

Falling In Love With Paris ItsHollieAnn
We touched down in Paris just one hour prior but after opening our French doors to breathe in the warm summer air, we knew we'd fallen in love with Paris. I couldn't freshen up quick enough before we headed out to explore. 

We stepped out of our hotel onto a quiet street in the 5th Arrisdonment and walked towards Notre Dame as the sun started to go down. We stood for a moment on Pont Des Coeurs, watching the last of the rays beam onto the towers before heading back to Cafe Victor for a bottle of the finest French rosé. 

We were surrounded by friends meeting for dinner, couples having dates over coffee and an overwhelming sense of relaxation which continued for the weekend. 

There was something about roaming the streets, wandering around the Louvre and sipping wine under the Eiffel Tower that made us so incredibly happy. Pair that with endless pastries in street-side cafes and people watching on Place Saint-Michael and you've got the perfect vacation.

In Paris, there was no pressure. No rush or hustle. Just people, enjoying life, thriving in the company of others. We felt at ease and in love, with each other and with the city, too. 
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It honestly made the perfect honeymoon destination and we can't wait to return as soon as possible.
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