you make my world spin round.

(photo by one of my bridesmaids...layout by me)

One month ago today...

I was hugging my mother good morning...she had no clue her little girl was getting married that day.
A barista was scrawling the word "bride" across my coffee cup just as the sun said hello.
I was penning the final touches on vows I knew wouldn't leave my lips without a few tears shed.
We were secretly frolicing through orange trees, kissing for the camera.

Then we were shouting "surprise", watching my parents cry as they realized what was happening.

I was hand in hand with my mother, whisking her off to put on a very special dress.
I was tucking a hankie in my daddy's jacket pocket and linking my arm in his.
My father was walking me into the sunset, toward the big oak tree with ribbons blowing in the breeze.

One month ago today, my fiance became my husband and I became his wife.

Although in the first month of marriage I've said more "goodnights" to my husband from across an ocean than I have face to face, it has been a joy. Well, mostly a joy...it's not perfect, we have our moments...it's no fairytale.

But it is good. So very, very good. Most days I wonder how I tripped into such a beautiful life place, where I'm respected, considered, loved and cherished. A few folks have told me that I'm "just in the honeymoon phase", but I don't believe that's true. He's not Prince Charming and I'm no Cinderella. My feet are very much on the ground, but my heart is very much in deciding to be happy every single day. Deciding to love my husband, even if there are tough days, until my last breath.

Cause that's what love is. And that's how we roll.


i believe in little moments.

(instagram: wwrinserepeat or view my photos here)

The day after our wedding, Gabe activated my iPhone...a much debated purchase about which I wasn't completely keen. You see, I'm a tech-minimalist--my circa 2009 brick cell was more than enough for me. Anything more advanced was likely to leave me cussing like a sailor while trying to check my voicemail.

Unfortunately, my technophile husband couldn't stand my behind-the-times phone. So, upgrade we did. And it is he who I now blame for my addiction to Instagram, the ultra fast photo editing app that I use at least ten times a day.

I'm the type whose house may be a mess, but still fiddles with the salt and pepper shaker until they're standing in perfect harmony, or takes a moment to categorize my shelves by color, simply because I feel life is prettier that way. Prior to having an iPhone, I didn't stop to document these little things using my camera because it was rather time consuming.

I believe in those little moments, in catching the way an apple looks sitting on the table. Even if that's silly to everyone else, certain things are worth taking a moment to fidget with, to honor beauty in the smallest of things. Even if the rest of the world is in chaos, the ability to control one little beautiful moment is fulfilling.

So....yep. I'm now one of those people...I believe in Instagraming the heck out of life! Do you Instagram?

In other news, my good friend Shannon is running a week-long series on starting your dream creative business. So many of us girls are either livin' that dream or quietly thinking about it (I fall into the latter category, still too shy to start!). Any of you girls fall into those categories? :) Well, she's got a crew of amazing folks who are sharing their experiences and advice this week...be sure to pop over and check out the Livin' the Dream series!



When I met up with my friend Amanda this weekend, she gifted me these Valentine's bowls as a wedding gift. Adorable, right? I haven't been able to bring myself to dirty them with ice cream yet, which is really a miracle in my household. Instead I've put them to work holding various craft supplies and jewelry...I rather like them that way. Why dirty a good thing, right?

I'm pretty jazzed about Valentine's Day. Even in my single days, I love, love, loved it. Call me a sap (cause it's true), but I buy into the entire holiday: pinks, reds, doilies, flowers...the whole durn thing. Even though I'll be in Kuwait, I'm planning to wear something sweet and have a romantic dinner.

Gabe and I are the gift-giving type. Nothing extravagant, but we love having a surprise up our sleeves. So, here's what's on my Valentine's crush list:

1. What Would Audrey Do? by Modcloth.
2. Sloane Enamel Bracelet by Stella and Dot.
3. Exclamation Point Pumps by Seychelles.
4. Supercalifragilipstick! by Kate Spade.
 5. Gold Dot Case by Kate Spade.
6. Lychee Macarons by 'Lette.

Honey, if you're reading...any of these items will do. ;)

How about you? Love Valentines Day, or hate it? If you've got a significant other, do you wine and dine...or are you a no-frills, no-gifts household?



On Saturday I invited my mama over for brunch. This is epic because I never, ever cook--it was the second time I used my stove since moving in June. (Blush.) But, it was also epic because I finally got a chance to catch up with my amazing mom, who I missed so much in the past busy month.

Until we sat down across from each other, I didn't realize how much time had passed since we'd actually caught up! Mostly we talked about the wedding, the crazed planning and the beautiful day.

While my mom and I are incredibly different religiously, politically and all that "on paper" jazz, we have very similar spirits. We're all about the creation of little moments and living in the now. I love that while she is still very much "mom", a woman I honor and want to make proud...she is now a person that I consider my friend...someone to celebrate with, to consult and to get a little buzzed and giggly with on a snowy Saturday.

Oh, and she has the rockinist pure white hair, milky skin and gorgeous blue eyes. Pity I didn't get those baby blues, but I'm crossing my fingers I'll discover in 30 years that I genetically inherited those pure white locks.

I pulled my bistro set from the porch, cloaked it with a rather-rumpled blush sheet and draped a handful of leftover wedding ribbons across the top. Mom provided the baby's breath and I dug out the vintage wedding dishes I had purchased for the June wedding...she spent the morning convincing me to keep all of them...

...just incase I wanted to have a 40-guest dinner party someday. Okay, mama. Okay. :)

We both wore pearls and red lipstick...like the classy broads we are. It's truly a shame I didn't buy another bottle of champagne, with a bit more bubbly we could have easily kept the party going til dinner.

Moments like this are bittersweet for me. My days left in Wisconsin are dwindling, we're just waiting for Gabe to get a permanent position overseas...then I'll be packing up my little apartment, all the memories, and jetting off to live something I've dreamed of for years.

Standing with my toes just this side of a dream-becoming-reality is exhilarating. But, dreams-becoming-reality usually means the closing of a chapter you have loved. Somedays I don't want to close my little hometown chapter, to swear I'll never leave. But I'd be disappointed if I never pursued my own dreams.

So for now I'm soaking up all the Smalltown, USA moments I can get my hands on. Brunch with mama included. :)


i believe in planning. (er, at least having a planner.)

(my brand, spankin' new planner by russell + hazel)

On our honeymoon, Gabe told me that he missed my "I Believe in Mondays" series...so, I'm getting back on track with that. This one's for you, sweetheart!
This Monday, I believe....in having a physical, write-in-able planner. And a cute pen to go with.

Now that we're in the final days of January, I'm aware that the ol' "I just got married...life is crazy" excuse is about to expire. Infact, I believe it expires on your one month anniversary, meaning I've got exactly one week to get my rear in gear. Incase you weren't aware, I am not a planner. But, this year I'm trying to jot down one little to-do every day that will keep me more "together".

Today's operation: Respond to mountain of emails + messages from family, friends, blog friends and others. I kept receiving all these sweet words while I was packing up wedding things, getting on planes, on my honeymoon, repacking...and they all got set aside until I had a moment to breathe + properly respond. Well, newsflash! Life will probably never bring you that moment unless you sit down and make it. So, that's happening today.

Tomorrow's operation: Send out belated holiday packages. Ish. That's embarassing.

Speaking of planning...see that heart-filled square above? It says, "Spend day with husband". Yes! In Kuwait, of all places. I leave in two weeks. We've never been face-to-face for V-day, and I'm so excited. Even if Kuwait isn't the most romantic location on the planet, we'll take it. :)

How about you? Do you carry a planner, and regularly make notes? Or do you use your iPhone to keep yourself on track? Or are you free-spirited enough to live without one?


a friday catchall.

(words written by Theodore Roethke/graphic by me)

Friends, thank you so much for the encouraging comments + emails that came this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your words were amazing.

I never planned to share those stormy moments from the past few months--every intention was to leave it in the life-vault. My husband and a few others knew, that was enough vulnerability for me. But without complete vulnerability, I could never accurately express why we scrapped a wedding, did things our way. The whole experience was a total life shift, and meant so very much...I'm a bit of a changed woman, and not only because I'm now a wife. :)

Next week, I'm going to keep filling you in on the wedding deets, and it's gonna be a good time. I swear. Because after people ask "Why did you move up your wedding by six months?" their next question is always, "How?!"

Oh, friends. "How" is where it gets interesting. And pretty stinkin' joyful. :)

Happy Weekend!

P.S. This week my bridesmaids' boxes were ranked #2 in the Top 10 Posts of 2011 over at Wedding Chicks. My mother was pretty proud, but I think I may have been more so! Go check out the list...there's some pretty lovely posts included!:)


wedding reflection: part 2 of why.

(Photo taken by me.)

It was fall, and I'd been in therapy for a few months. Every Wednesday at 10am, I'd clack up for four flights of stairs to the counselor's office where I'd arrive sweaty and breathless, then wait for my therapist, Jeanne, to call my name. Her office was plain, but cozy, and her presence was always warm. The brown recliner would be empty, I'd settle in and without fail, I would cry. At the end of our hour, I would say goodbye, head down the stairs and walk a block to a coffee shop for lunch. My booth was always open, and I'd sit for an hour or two thinking about what Jeanne and I had discussed in therapy.

I don't know why it happened that day in October, perhaps it just happens that one day, something finally clicks. But, suddenly towards the end of our session I stumbled upon it: Somewhere in the years of dating really terrible boys, of finding "Bethany is ugly" scrawled in a public place in high school, of being told by a man that I was too fat to be loved...I had decided that I didn't have a voice. That I simply wasn't worthy of having ideas or of being heard, and that these nasty incidents were just the truest reflections of who I was.

Our session ended, and as I clacked down the stairs from the fourth floor counselors office to the street, I got pissed. Really, terribly, very pissed...more so with every step. Pissed at people in the past for the hurt they caused. But, mostly pissed at myself for allowing it. I'd crumbled into a giant people-pleaser who formed my identity around what a handful of truly messed-up individuals had told me about myself. And I'd spent the past ten years believing it all was true.

But once the anger passed, I became determined. I shoved open the door to the courtyard, and it was like breathing air for the first time...sharp, chilly October air that catches in your lungs, but leaves you feeling fresh and new. I wanted to do everything differently. I wanted to allow myself to be the girl I'd always dreamed I could be, to simply live as me. Stop worrying about whether those around me thought I was fat, unattractive, over-the-top or boring. So, right there, I swore to myself that I was going to have a voice again. I was going to be me, and regardless of what others said or did, I was worthy of love and a voice.

After I'd settled into my usual booth at the coffee shop, I started thinking about Gabe, about our plans to elope. Eloping, I realized, had just been my way of crumbling again. A wedding had been too scary for me...too much attention. Too much room for judgement. Too much work to make everyone else happy.

I thought about what I really wanted: I wanted to marry the only man who had ever made me feel worthy and cherished. I didn't need a fancy dress or 200 people there. Regardless of what every wedding blog or magazine was showcasing at the time, what I really wanted was to have my father walk me up the aisle to pledge my love to Gabe. Mostly, I was ready to start living spontaneously and joyfully, two words that described the girl I once was, and the girl I so wanted to be again.

This was the first step. That night I texted Gabe;

"Idea: What if we have a surprise wedding on New Years Eve, with just our immediate families and our bridal party?"

He texted back that it sounded fun, but that I needed to really make sure it was what I wanted. Silly boy. I was a new girl. And I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to marry the first boy who had truly cherished me. I wanted to marry the boy who had loved me through this mess...

...and I didn't want to wait eight more months to do it.


wedding reflection: part I of why.

For years, I've prided myself on my ability to be emotionally opaque. Life can be crumbling, but I can paste on a smile and engage in cheerful conversation with a friend over coffee as if life is nothing but bubbles and sunshine.

Never have I leaned as heavily on that skill as I did this summer, shortly after getting engaged. While there was a smile on my face in public, I was an unhappy, unhealthy girl. I should have been joyous, but I spent countless hours in bed, with covers pulled over my head. When I wasn't in bed, I was exercising and counting calories, which I'd strictly limited to less than 700 a day. I was just getting bridal ready, I told myself. It was just for a month or two.

But in my heart, I knew it wasn't that simple.

Every day felt like a lifetime or more. The sun rose on a girl who thought that perhaps this was the day she could chase her demons away, but that sun always went down on an exhausted girl who was so tired of battling her own mind. I was endlessly aware of every flaw, every way in which the girl I saw in the mirror wasn't the girls in the magazines: my hair was too frizzy, my nose was too large, I was too short, my waist was too wide, my hips too full...my thighs touched. The girl I saw was so flawed, so ugly and so unlovable. There were days in which I don't remember looking in the mirror, because the battle that ensued would be too draining. Sometimes after catching a glimpse in the mirror, I would admit defeat, cancel my plans and lay in bed, crying. There I'd swear I wouldn't eat for as long as possible. Until there was a decisive sliver of light between my thighs. Until I suddenly could love and accept myself...something I was sure would happen within a few pounds.

Of course that wasn't true. When you're dealing with an eating disorder and a severe body image disconnect, nothing changes within a few pounds. You're not happier. Your habits are just more deeply ingrained, and you're still too exhausted to fight the sickness in your mind.

Those days and weeks were dark, friends. I didn't want to die, although I thought about what it might feel like. But no, that wasn't it, I finally told myself. I just wanted to disappear. To crumble into a thousand pieces...to become dust and blow far away, to a place where I didn't exist physically. To a place where my mind could rest and there was peace.

The very thought of putting myself on display in a wedding dress, even to try on a few samples, left me breathless. My stomach rolled and my throat tightened. My palms began to sweat, and I could feel tears well up in the corner of my eyes. Brides are supposed to be flawless. They're supposed to beautiful. They glow. I was none of those things. And standing in a wedding dress would only emphasize it.

One night, during a Skype date with Gabe, I began sobbing:

"I just don't want anyone to see me--I don't want anyone to look at me. I want to marry you, but please don't make me have a wedding...please can we just elope?"

Gabe was heartbroken over this girl he loved, who he found so beautiful, so flawless. He wanted to fix her. To hold her. To at least ease the pain. But he was 6,000 miles away and so very helpless...all he could do was watch her crumble.

So, we decided we would elope over the holidays. I bought a white ruffled dress. We read up on the elopement process and checked the available dates + times. I learned how to make my own bouquet, and we told our best friends to meet us at the San Francisco City Hall on December 28th.

That wasn't exactly how things ended...as I was married on December 31st, surrounded by family and a few friends. And certainly not in the $60 dollar elopement dress.

But that is how things started. :)



It's currently 5:14pm, and I'm writing this later than intended.

Late seems to be the theme of my life recently, as I've been continually apologizing for late emails, unfinished tasks or unreturned calls...and people give me the funniest looks or responses. Apparently throwing a surprise wedding during the holidays, honeymooning and sending your husband back overseas within a ten day time period is an event that forgives a myriad of etiquette sins.


Although I can't think of anything truly epic that's occupied my time, the past few days have felt full. From Thursday to present, I've eaten lots of meals with family members, polished off several bottles of wine, unpacked a few suitcases and tidied up around my house. I've been back to work and chatted with co-workers, all of whom I'd missed and were so sweetly excited to hear about our wedding. 

Speaking of weddings, tonight I'm settling in to write my first wedding post...starting with the "why", why we moved up our day half a year earlier than planned! It's a little heavy, and though I'm rarely shy about sharing here, I'm slightly timid this time because it's deeply personal. Bear with me. I promise we'll come out on the sunny side, and I promise that the final destination is joy.

See you tomorrow. :)


a little mantra.

My sister gifted me this coffee mug a few days before the wedding...just a little inspiration incase anything went haywire during the final planning phases! It didn't, although I certainly ate my fair share of cake.

But, it's now functioning as my mantra for today! After a few quick hugs + kisses at the airport, and a "see you soon" I sent my husband back overseas. This time to Kuwait (no more Iraq!) and we're hoping to be split for only a month before seeing each other again...somehow that made our newlywed goodbyes so much easier. Perhaps when you've braved six months apart, a few weeks is old hat?

That's not to say that my apartment doesn't feel rather lonely right now. Or that I didn't eat my weight in Oreos at 5:30am after returning from the airport. Oh yes, the Oreo package is empty.

But I'm not complaining. I try not to complain too much about being apart these days, because it is something that we choose. Gabe isn't considered deployed (although he has been previously), since he works on various Army or Navy bases for the government. It's tricky work at which he excels. Now that we're married it offers the opportunity for us to live abroad very safely and easily in the near future...something we've talked about doing since a few days after we met.

Ah. Future. That's a nice word...I'm excited about that, even if we're living in the Middle East for a few months until we can get transferred to a more, uh, European destination. :)


I'm so eager to share details about the wedding, but our fantastic photos won't be ready for a few weeks! Maybe I'll put together a few posts about why we chose to change our wedding so drastically (not pregnant, swear!), all the "behind the scenes" secret-keeping and some of my favorite wedding vendors. Would that whet your wedding palate for the time being? :) 


fistful of memories.

We'd been married two days, were making our way to the airport for our honeymoon when one of us said it. Gabe was the brave one, but his tone was shy and unsure.

"Is it just me...or does nothing feel different?"

The words had barely left his mouth before I laughingly shouted, "THANK YOU. Thank you! I've been thinking the same, but didn't want to say it. I feel like we're supposed to be changed or completely blissed out. Or freaked out. Or crestfallen that the wedding is over. But I just feel like regular ol' Gabe and Bethany!"

I'd been fully prepared to have wedding let-down. After all the planning, the prettiness, the  attention passed I thought for sure Gabe would find me in a sobbing puddle, shoveling leftover cake into my mouth, staring at Pinterest wedding boards and numbly mumbling, "It's over...it's really over...". But that didn't happen.

And here's why: People often talk about your wedding as the "biggest day of your life", and it's certainly one of them, yes. But I like to believe that when you marry the right person, your biggest days are still ahead. There's so much planning and dreaming to do...there will be more big days. There will. The honeymoon is over, but the happiness isn't. We're closer, we're happier and we're each more loved. And...bonus! We've got a few more memories under our belt.

If that's what marriage is...then sign me up for the long haul.


Thank you so much for your sweet congratulatory comments here and on my Facebook page! You are amazing. I'm getting back into the blogging swing now that I'm home, but if you just can't wait to see honeymoon + a few wedding deets, find my photos for the past few weeks on Instagram: wwrinserepeat. :)


dreams do come true.

(photo by the amazing Flory Photo)

Dear friends,

I have a tendency to shorten lengthy stories by quickly stating the basic premise, then tying it up with a tidy, "So...that happened." Like this:

On New Years Eve, we threw a surprise wedding and got married! So...that happened.

Mmhmm...it's true and I've been bursting to tell you all!! Remember that New Years Eve Engagement Party I wrote about? Well, we planned that months ago. But a few weeks ago we came to the realization that we were ready to get married. That life is so short. There's something about being oceans and countries apart that makes you reevaluate your choices and priorities. Suddenly it was crystal clear: We didn't need to wait six more months. We didn't need a storybook wedding. And we certainly didn't need everyone we know present.

We just needed us. And our families. And my bridesmaids. As if it was meant to be, almost all of them would be at our house on New Years Eve.

When we made this decision, I assumed we'd wind up getting hitched in the backyard. I had no clue if I'd find a dress I loved, and I thought I might be baking my own cake. And that was all okay, because our truest, purest hope was to simply be husband and wife. Everything else was just a beautiful bonus. But we got so, so much more...we were so blessed. I'll admit that all the extras were largely due to our incredible wedding coordinator, Jacin Fitzgerald of Lovely Little Details, who wouldn't settle for anything less than dreams-come-true. (Hire her. Hire her stat, brides.)

Of course there are lots of details, like how we managed to keep this enormous secret for the past few weeks! But for now, I'm off for a quick honeymoon with my adorable husband. And I feel I'll be doing a lot of this:

(photo by Flory Photo)

I promise to return in a few days and tell you all the story of how our day came together! :)

Lots of Love,
Mrs. Bethany Contreras


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