From Planning to Bonding

There is something very special about a bride’s relationship with her mother. I have always looked up to my mom and how she has kept a successful marriage of almost 30 years thriving. As I approach my wedding day, I find myself turning to her for guidance and advice. (After all, mothers do know best!) My mom has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to helping me plan. She helped me find my dream wedding dress and has been my therapy when I feel stressed or anxious about planning. I hear horror stories of some mothers controlling their daughter’s wedding plans attempting to live vicariously through them. But my mom is my rock. She keeps me calm and level-headed about planning.

My mother was always very close with her mom up until her passing in 1998. I used to admire the closeness they shared and hoped that one day I could have that with my mom. This wedding planning process has drawn us much closer. We bounce ideas off each other and conceptualize with the overall vision of the “big day.” She did plan her own wedding without the help of a planner but enlisted her mother’s love and support to get her through the process. I find myself emotional at times during planning where I always turn to my mom for the right thing to say. When I put my dress and veil on for the first fitting, I saw myself in the mirror and couldn’t hold back tears. I turned to her with teary eyes and she just smiled. It was comforting in a moment that felt so real and honest in my heart. I don’t know what I would do without her.

One of the hardest parts about planning this wedding for me has been missing my grandmother-my mom’s mother. When I was little and would get injured playing outside she used to comfort me by saying “That scar will be gone by the time you get married and I promise you I will be there to make sure of it!” It’s hard thinking she won’t be there physically to see me marry my best friend but I know she is there in spirit. My mom has done a great job keeping me from letting her absence affect my emotions in the present day and on the wedding day.

I feel very lucky to have a supportive and understanding mom throughout this planning process. I would probably become a “Bridezilla” of some sorts if it weren’t for her bringing me back down to earth! I don’t care what anyone tells you-you will get stressed planning a wedding. There is a lot that goes into planning an event like this alone or with your significant other. Enlisting support from family and friends can ease the stress and make planning seem like a piece of cake. I felt the need to really lean on my mom to provide me with the kind of love and support only mothers can give. I am thankful for the memories my mom and I have made during this planning process and look forward to seeing our relationship flourish over the years.



Farewell 2013, Hello 2014!

Happy New Year!! It’s amazing how quickly a year can pass us by. 2013 was a big year for me personally. I started a new job in my field, got engaged to my best friend, spent more time with my family and reconnected with old friends. It was year with many ups and a few downs but never the less a great year at that. I am proud of the things I have accomplished and the goals I continue to work towards. 2013 was a year of growth. Like every year, I strived to become more financially stable, something not many young adults can admit. I also tapped into my inner chef and began experimenting in the kitchen launching my blog segment “Cooking My Way Through Pinterest.” It helped me branch out from the normal chicken and rice or pasta we had been cycling for the past 3 years! Overall, 2013 was a great year filled with moments and memories that will last a lifetime!

2014 is looking to be a big year! I turn 25 in just twenty days and with that I will be considering what my quarter life crisis should be. Don’t worry, it won’t be a sports car or an extreme hair color change-I’ve grown out of that phase! More than likely it will be a change in attitude and outlook on life. A positive outlook on life and the obstacles that come along the way. This year will be filled with moments I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. I will be marrying my best friend in the fall surrounded by family and close friends. Marriage is a journey that Judd and I are ready to begin. It is also a joining of our two families as one.

In terms of resolutions, I want to work on being a better person. A better daughter, sister, girlfriend/wife, friend and coworker. Every year is a chance to make things better and what better way then to start on January 1. Happy New Year friends and followers! Your support means so much to me!

Shannon Judd Esess-156


Photo by the talented Steph Owens Photography.

& Then There Was a Ring

Every girl looks forward to the day she will meet “the one.” She then dreams of the day he will ask her to marry him. On April 27th, 2013 this dream became my reality when my boyfriend, Judd, asked for my hand in marriage. We had been talking about getting engaged for a while now but I never really believed it would happen. Low and behold he surprised me that spring day in my parents formal living room. (With my loyal golden retriever Connor by his side.) We had driven back to my hometown after work Friday night to spend the weekend with my parents, attend a Rush concert and celebrate my brother’s birthday. We planned to keep it a low keep and just spend time visiting families and a few close friends. I had no idea what was about to happen.

The Proposal.

Grooms Version

After graduating college together and entering the work world as young successful professionals, I decided to propose to Shannon on April 27, 2013.  All the closest people to me knew that I planned to propose.  The moment occurred at the soon-to-be bride’s parent’s house.  Family is very important to us so this was the perfect setting for such an important event. Connor, Shannon’s golden retriever accompanied me in the moments leading up to the event.  Shannon said yes and I  carefully placed the engagement ring I had been hiding for a week over my bride-to-be’s finger.  We now look forward to celebrating our future together with a wedding planned for November of 2014.

Bride’s Version

On Saturday the 27th, I was very slow to get ready. I spent the morning lounging around the house with my dog. Judd was trying to motivate me to get up and get dressed so we could do lunch with Judd’s grandmother and brother. I got ready around noon when I noticed Judd standing in the formal living room at the front of the house. He told me to come in the room. I walked into the room-thinking he was only going to show me something outside. Instead, Judd took my hands in his and started to say how long we’ve been together and how amazing the past 2 and a half years have been. Suddenly it hit me what he was doing-he was proposing! I started to freak out. When I freak out, I talk a lot and become repetitive. I started to shake and cry hysterically as he reached in his pocket for the ring box. I don’t even recall him getting on his knee-apparently he was on his knee for only a second. He was about to ask the golden question when suddenly I blurted out yes. I jumped the gun on him asking. I was overly excited and ecstatic this was happening. He got the question out and opened the box, took the ring out and struggled to get it over my knuckles. Finally after a few minutes of laughing and struggling, the ring was on. I threw my arms around him and hugged him as tight as I possibly could. The entire time he was asking my parents watched. My dad took pictures of us from the time he asked the question to my mom admiring the new piece on my ring finger. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way-he proposed at my parents house, in my hometown and on my brother’s birthday. What an amazing day! :)


One of the images my father caught of Judd proposing. This is right around the time shock settled in!

Giving Thanks

What is better than family, food and parades? Being thankful. Today is all about being thankful. So what are the things I am most thankful for?

My Family. Even though I won’t be with them today, I am thankful for my supportive family. They are the reason I am who I am today. They may seem crazy but I wouldn’t trade them for the world!


My Job. After an emotionally draining past few days of work I am still thankful to have a job. I love being able to work with animals even in their time of need. I’m also thankful for my coworkers who boost my confidence even on the tough days!


My Education. There is something so humbling about having an education. This year I accomplished my life goal of graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. Even though I am not in a career that utilizes my degree yet, it still makes me feel proud to have earned my education. It also motivates me to continue working hard towards a future for myself.


My friends. They certainly have come and gone but the ones that remain mean the most to me. No matter how far away we may all live from each other I will always cherish our friendships no matter what.

My love, Judd. It is amazing to me that someone could love me so much. It hasn’t been easy at times dealing with life’s roller coaster and juggling things on top of a relationship but we manage to do it gracefully. I am so thankful for our almost two years together and look forward to many more to come!

Instead of panicking about the upcoming holiday’s, I will continue to be thankful even after today. There is so much in life to be grateful for and so is a life itself. Take time out of your day and think of all you are thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, readers!


Twenty-Three’s a Charm

This weekend I surpassed another birthday-my 23rd. I’ve been dreading it for the last few months even though it’s not at all old. But I’ve accomplished a lot in the last 23 years.

  • I have traveled across the country.
  • My hobby of photography grew to a passion.
  • I made some terrific friends.
  • I earned two associates degrees: one in photography and one in general education which were both honors. I will also be graduating with my Bachelor’s this spring.
  • Fell in love with the man of my dreams. (Cheesy but true.)
  • All the while doing these things, I rocked some awesome heels!

My birthday was wonderful. Judd took me to Saint Augustine and we stayed at a bed and breakfast. My parents met us the next day for shopping and lunch. Even though my brother couldn’t make it, I still really enjoyed my birthday. I love my parents and my Judd. They really made this year special!

Mom, Me, and Judd

Dad, me, and Judd.

Judd and I at the fort.

Pirate Jail!