My Husband and I got married May 26th, 2018 at the Darby Field Inn; a charming Bed & Breakfast nestled into the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
When we got engaged, it took us a while to figure out what type of wedding we wanted to have. We considered all possibilities, and they all had their benefits. From going to City Hall, destination elopement, a 250 guest backyard wedding, and everything in between. We both have very large families, and wanted to include everyone dearly, but didn’t love the idea of a big wedding, or the price tag.
We knew that buying a house was very important to us. So we made that a financial priority. After much debate, we finally settled on a 50 person guest list, which felt was the perfect “happy medium” from all of our options.
Once we determined the number of guests, it was time to pick a venue. I searched high and low for the perfect venue. I wanted something that would fit our limited budget, but I also wanted the venue to be able to provide an “all inclusive” type of experience. Between house hunting, and starting a new job, I didn’t want to have to be my own wedding planner. Finding caterers, renting table linens, ect. I wanted our venue to be able to provide those details on location. This was a bit of a tall order based on our budget, but our small guest list helped. I found myself doing google searches for “intimate wedding packages” in the area. A lot of these had a max of 10 or 30, but some went up to 50, and that’s how I came across the Darby Field Inn.
Located in Albany, NH, The Darby Field Inn markets itself as a romantic getaway tucked into the White Mountains. Albany is minutes from Conway, a very popular tourist destination in New Hampshire. The Inn has 13 guest rooms, a dining room, a full service bar, a pool, and several picturesque areas on the grounds. It ended up being exactly what we wanted.
A lot of our guests told us how much they loved having the wedding at the inn, and that it was such a unique experience. I decided to make a list for future brides to show you all the ways that a Bed & Breakfast Wedding can be perfect for you too!
10 Reasons to Have your Intimate Wedding at a Bed and Breakfast
1. Renting the entire inn is fun and convenient for guests.
2. On-site drinks, food, & catering will keep costs down.
3. The entire wedding can take place on site.
4. Breakfast with all of your guests the next morning is so fun and relaxed.
5. The atmosphere is completely different from a hotel or banquet hall. It feels quite cozy.
6. The staff will be super attentive and accommodating.
7. For a destination wedding, the inn can continue to serve you throughout the honeymoon.
8. The Inn can provide fun activities or recommendations for guests.
9. An inn has the perfect blend of being somewhere in between a rustic barn wedding, and a more traditional hotel wedding.
10. A Bed and Breakfast has unique charm that guests will remember.
An example of unique memories, one of my favorite moments from our wedding weekend was completely unexpected! We did a welcome dinner, Friday, the night before the wedding at MOAT Mountain Brewery, which was tons of fun! The food was delicious and there was SO MUCH! It was a great opportunity to relax and have fun with everyone in a casual environment. One of my fondest memories of the weekend happened after dinner at MOAT. Those of us staying at the Inn came back to find it had lost power! There had been an issue with the telephone pole on the Kancamagus Highway. The innkeeper, Marc, greeted us with oil lanterns to bring back to our rooms! It was such a hoot! My sister and I kept saying we felt like we were in Little Women! Since there was no power, everyone just hung out together in the dark bar area of the inn laughing and chatting. Marc graciously stayed up with us and refilled drinks as we chatted the night away. The power come back on relatively shortly but we were having so much fun we just kept hanging out!
Another favorite memory: breakfast the day after the wedding. We invited all of our guests back to The Darby Field for breakfast, which was absolutely incredible. I have not stopped thinking about the caramelized French toast casserole, and it’s been three months now! It was another casual gathering where we got to relive the day before and make a few last minute memories before everyone headed home.
Now don’t think I’m forgetting about the actual wedding day! That was perfect! Even when things weren’t going perfectly! For example, our JP texted us the morning of… to let us know she was sick and couldn’t make it! AHH! But, she is such a pro, and had a replacement ready instantly. And Jean Lee did such an amazing job, ESPECIALLY since it was last minute for her! And it was drizzling on the day, but I still thought the whole thing ended up being simply incredible.
And aside from our JP and the weather, everything else on our wedding day was spectacular! I had a great time getting ready with my ladies. Jesse and I had a blast with our photographers during our first look. The ceremony was sweetly short, filled with laughs and tears, and more laughs. Cocktail hour was amazing (and I actually got to enjoy it, thanks to the small size of our wedding and doing a first look). And the reception was outstanding: we danced for hours and hours!
Earlier this summer, I was trying to figure out fun weekend trips I can do to make the most out of my summer, while not taking too much vacation time from work. When I was looking at my map of nearby locations, my eyes fell upon New York City.
Living in Central MA. I do a lot of weekends in New England, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine… I honestly had never reallllly considered traveling to NYC before this exact moment. I’ve always had Boston just a short drive away, and never felt it was necessary to make the trek allllll the way down to NYC. As a young girl, I wasn’t much into city life, but the older I get the more I crave the hustle and bustle of a big city. So now, at 26 years old, I saw NYC on the map and a lightbulb went off in my head. It is SO CLOSE and it is one of the number one travel destinations in the world! How can I not visit NYC?! I booked my hotel and some bus tickets and prepared for a long weekend!
Here’s a look into my itinerary, lodging, restaurants, and transportation! As well as things I’ll do differently if/ when I go back.
I went on this trip with my sister, who lives very close to the Rhode Island border. Therefore, I picked her up from her house and we drove to Providence, RI and grabbed a bus from there. We booked the Peter Pan bus. There were several bus options, but I ultimately chose this one because the times it left RI and NY aligned with my plans the best, and it only made one other quick stop in Providence along the way. The bus was scheduled to take 4 hours to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. It ended up taking much longer, due to traffic, but I’ll get into that more later. We left Providence at 11:00am and got to NYC around 4:15pm.
I looked at a map of NYC and read several blogs about where to stay in New York before I ultimately chose my hotel. I was being very cautious with choosing where to stay; I wanted it to be safe, affordable, and easy. I looked on AirBnB a lot, but decided on a regular hotel instead. On AirBnB, anything that looked nice was out of my price range or out of the way. Anything I wanted was way too expensive. I decided to look for hotels within walking distance of the Bus Terminal. I didn’t want to take cabs or ubers. And despite my experiences in Boston, I was nervous about trying to figure out the subway system (silly me, the subway ended up being one of my favorite things about the city!) We ended up staying a the 36 Hudson Hotel, located in Midtown, but right next to Hell’s Kitchen. It was ½ a mile from the bus station. I really enjoyed the hotel. It was very nice inside and extremely good value for the cost. We paid $153 a night for a room with one king sized bed.
FRIDAY (Day 1)
We were supposed to arrive at 3pm in the city, however due to traffic we didn’t get there until about 4:15. This cause me to stress a bit because it left very little time for me to check into the hotel, change, do my hair, do my make up, and make it to our dinner reservation at 5:30pm! It all turned out fine though. I booked a reservation at Blue Dog Kitchen and Bar. I chose this place due to its convenient location next to the Gershwin Theater (our next stop) and due to the Fired Mac and Cheese balls I saw on their menu. We had a darling time at this restaurant. The food was fantastic, as were the drinks. I loved that the cocktails were named after Broadway shows! The mood set by the restaurant was fantastic. It gave of a vintage vibe, reminding me of the 1920’s. All the staff were dressed in suspenders and bow ties. There was a black and white silent film being projected on the wall behind us. The restaurant was small and packed, but super fun and wonderful.
We had some time after dinner, so we decided to check out Times Square really quickly. It was bustling, loud, and full of tourists. It reminded me of when I was walking the strip in Vegas; people dressed up in ridiculous costumes, asking if you want a picture and then demanding money afterwards. It was showy and kitschy, but amazingly fun at the same time! There was one interesting man who came up to me and my sister and asked if we spoke English. I usually put on my best city-girl face, and ignore people, but I thought mayyybe he was just lost. When I answered yes he motioned to his friend and said “My friend would like a picture with you”. That threw me off! I answered by saying, no, and then we walked away. It was a good gentle reminder to keep our guard up. They were probably harmless, but in a tourist trap area it’s best to not talk to anybody.
We made our way back to the Gershwin so that we could see Wicked! We bought our tickets in advanced, instead of finding those low-cost booths around the city. I had read online that Wicked tickets are never available at those booths, and this was the show we really wanted to see. When I booked, I was trying to get the cheapest tickets possible, with a good view. I ended up discovering the “partial view” seats at the very front of the theater far on the ends. I decided to go for it and got 2 tickets in the second row. Some people hate being that close and that far over, but I enjoyed it! We did miss some of the action on the sides of the stage, or sometimes the supporting cast would be standing to the side of the stage, which ended up blocking our view of the main characters. But being SO CLOSE to action was a fantastic compromise. Every expression could be seen. We also enjoyed getting a peaked of the actors when they were back stage! The show was spectacular, definitely not one to miss!
We debated getting a drink after the show, but we were just so exhausted that we walked backed to our hotel to sleep. We did take the long way home though, so we could walk through Times Square Again.
SATURDAY (Day 2)
To our disappointment, we woke up to thunder, downpours, and our phones warning us about flooding! Saturday was planned as a sightseeing day, all outdoor activity. We didn’t get as early of a start as initially planned, but when we finally left the hotel around 10:00am, the rain was pretty much done. We walked to the closest Subway station, which was about 1/3 of a mile from the hotel. We were trying to get down to the financial district area for brunch and sightseeing. Once we purchased our subway cards we asked someone working there if he could tell us how to get to the area we were looking for. He was very helpful and we were on our way. After that first nerve-wracking journey on the subway, I realized how EASY it is! I’ve heard people talk about how easy NYC is to navigate due to its grid system, but I thought I wouldn’t get the hang of it (I am notoriously bad with directions). But I was wrong, I became an instant fan of the subway and we began taking it everywhere. The google maps app is also super helpful. It even knows when certain lines are in the middle of construction and will bring you to the lines and stops that will work better!
We made it to our brunch with perfect timing. We ate at the Malt House and it was once again, fabulous! Everything was clearly homemade. We especially enjoyed the sausage; I think it was the first time I’ve had one that wasn’t some sort of prepackaged item. So yummy and satisfying. After that, we walked a couple blocks to check out the 9/11 memorial. It was grand, beautiful, and impactful. We walked along the memorial, reading all the names of the victims and remembering that tragic day in history.
We then moved on, and made the quick walk over to the Staten Island Ferry. We grabbed the Ferry as a way to see the NYC skyline and Statue of Liberty for free! It is a great option that I enjoyed thoroughly. The only bummer was the weather. On the way to Staten Island it wasn’t raining at first, but so foggy that you couldn’t see the skyline much. It did start pouring right as I tried to take a picture with the Skyline.
It was a fun little cruise though. On the way back to Manhattan is was pouring so we didn’t get to enjoy the views much at all. When the ferry ride ended, we decided to skip the next trip we had planned; the Brooklyn Bridge. It was so foggy, plus the on and off rain made us decided we would save it for another time.
Instead we jumped back on the subway and headed to Soho for some shopping! By the time we exited the subway the rain had stopped and we were free to walk the streets and peruse the shops. My sister was super excited that we stumbled upon the Glossier showroom. It was fun trying out all the samples and I splurged on an eyebrow gel (I’m usually a drug store make up kind a gal).
We then shopped at little markets in the streets of Soho. We stopped at Dylan’s candy bar for some epic ice cream before heading back to the hotel to rest our feet for a bit.
At the hotel I tried to figure out where we should grab drinks for the evening. After much contemplation we decided to go somewhere close that we could walk to and we ended up at Becco’s and intimate little Italian spot in Hell’s Kitchen. We each got an entrée with their daily pasta special on the side. Let me tell you, that pasta was amazing! Everyday they make 3 specialty pastas and you get to order 1 plate that samples all three pastas. We got a pesto rotini with green beans, an artichoke ravioli, and a spaghetti that had fried shrimp. I was hesitant to order it, because I am an extremely picky eater. All three pastas were incredible though. My lemon chicken entrée was good too, but the pasta was the star of the night. Probably some of the best I’ve ever had. Actually it probably takes the number 1 spot.
It was a late dinner so afterward we headed back to the hotel for bed.
SUNDAY (Day 3)
We woke up just a tad earlier and headed to another brunch. This time we hoped the subway to head up towards Central Park. We went to a place called The Smith. It looked suuuuper busy, but is was so huge inside that we had no problem getting seated right away. I got the $17 pancakes, which seemed outrageous, but once I saw my plate I understood why! These pancakes were huge, topped with toasted pecans, whipped ricotta, and drizzled with a salted caramel sauce. It was tasty for sure, however I will say I prefer a simple chocolate chip pancake with powdered sugar and syrup.
After brunch we strolled the Central Park, which is ginormous! We barely made a dent before heading into The Met. The Met was incredible. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but as we were walking I caught a glimpse of a Monet through a doorway and from there I went room to room, looking at art by some of the most well known artists in history! Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Degas, it was such a treat being in front of all of these pieces that I’ve studied and replicated in my art classes.
We also got see the Heavenly Bodies exhibit, dresses that inspired the celebrities at this years MET Gala, which was a real treat, and my sister loved as well. An additional section of the Met that was impressive was Ancient Egypt. I was taken aback by the number of tombs, shrines, sarcophagus’s that were on display!
We roamed the Met for several hours and then headed back to Central Park for a short bit. At this point our weekend adventure had to end. We pick up our bags and got back on the bus to Providence at 5:00pm.
I realized on the bus home that a long weekend is nowhere near enough time to discover this amazing city. This is how New York is vastly different than Boston; it is just so huge! There are still so many things to do and to see.
For the next trip:
The next time I travel to New York I plan to do a few things differently.
· If I take the bus again, I will make sure it is due to arrive in the City earlier in the day, to try and avoid Friday afternoon traffic. I might however, look into driving as far south as I can, and then taking the subway.
· I won’t stay in Midtown again. It was good for a first trip, but now that I know the subway. I think it would be fun to grab a place in Brooklyn, close to the subway.
· I’ll explore Brooklyn for sure, and finally check out the Brooklyn Bridge.
· I barely saw half of Central Park, so I’ll need to go back there.
What else do you think I should check out the next time I visit NYC? Let me know in the comments!
When one of my best friends told me she was engaged, I was over the moon happy for her! I immediately told her, “Wherever you need us, we will be there!”.
My friend grew up in the same town as I did in Massachusetts, but had been living in Australia for the last 4 years, as that was where she had met her Australian fiancé. We weren’t sure if they wanted to get married here, there, or somewhere in between.
When they settled on Kona, Hawaii as a good half-way point, everyone was thrilled! I don’t think any one of us had been there yet, so it was an exciting new adventure for us to go through together.
At this point we had about a year and half before the big day. I started saving and planning right away, to ensure I would be able to have the best time in Hawaii with my favorite people.
Tips Before the Trip:
-We booked our tickets using our Alaska Airlines credit card. Alaska Airlines has a fantastic deal with their card: Once a year you can purchase 1 round trip ticket, and receive a 2nd ticket for $121.00. We got this credit card for this trip, but I’m so happy I have it for any future trips I may want to take to Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, or California.
-We stayed at the Sheraton Kona for part of the trip, and a HomeAway rental for the other part. Because we were with a wedding party, the Sheraton Kona gave discounted rooms as part of a room block. Even without the discount though, the big island as MUCH more affordable hotel options compared to the other Hawaiian Islands.
5 Day Itinerary:
Day 1 (Saturday):
Arrive in Kona at 10:05am.
Pool/ relaxation time
Kona Brewery Tour
Bachelorette Party (Kaiulu Club Lounge)
Landing in Kona, we knew we were in for a fun get-away immediately! The Kona Airport is completely outdoors! Only in paradise does it rain soooo little that you can have a completely open airport! We booked a shuttle to bring us to the Sheraton Kona, which was $22 per person. The driver greeted us with lei’s and we made our way to the hotel. Upon check in we were happily surprised with a room upgrade from mountain view to a partial ocean view.
We spent the early afternoon catching up with the bride & groom, meeting people, and relaxing at the hotels amazing pool and eating lunch at the Holua Poolside Bar & Lounge.
For the evening the boys went off to downtown Kona for a bit of shopping, and most importantly, to visit the Kona Brewery and go on a tour. My Husband (boyfriend at the time) was thrilled by all the vintage cars he saw downtown.
Us ladies had ourselves a little girls night out/ bachelorette party as well. Kona isn’t really known for a buzzing night-life. They do have some bars with dancing for entertainment, that look to be fantastic! However, after a little deliberation, we decided to stay at the resort, which was a fantastic choice for us! We started our evening at the Kaiulu Club Lounge. The Sheraton Kona graciously offered to let us enjoy drinks and appetizers in their gorgeous club lounge for the night in honor of our beautiful bride. The club lounge offers the most beautiful views overlooking the ocean, and we so enjoyed our special time getting to chat and catch up, since most of us girls live so far apart from each other now. Once we enjoyed enough cheese and wine in the club lounge, we made our way down to Rays on the Bay, The bar/ dining room downstairs in the hotel. This place had a bit more of an upbeat atmosphere. We continued enjoying our drinks and getting excited for the big day.
Day 2 (Sunday):
Morning snorkel Cruise 9:00am- 1:30pm. $140 per person
Wedding rehearsal 4:00-5:00pm (Rays on the Bay)
Myself, my sister, and our significant others woke up early on Sunday to go out on a morning snorkel tour with Fair Wind Cruises. We were happy to find this company, as their dock is an easy walk from the hotel. We got to the boat by 8:30am to get our wetsuits and snorkels ready. The ride out to the Captain Cook Monument, our snorkel spot, taught me something I never knew about myself! I get seasick! Luckily it wasn’t so bad, just enough for me to put my head down between my legs for most of the journey. Once we started our snorkel, all sickness went away and I just swam in awe of all the beauty around me. I have never seen such clear water or colorful fish. It was truly an outstanding experience. I was so happy we got to enjoy it.
Once we got back from our snorkel, we quickly showered and got ready for our wedding rehearsal and dinner. Dinner was once again at Rays on the Bay, in a private area.
Day 3 (Monday):
Monday was wedding day! Before we started bridal prep, we just relaxed by pool. I think this was my man’s favorite part of the whole trip! Total relaxation.
The rest of the day was all wedding! We had such an amazing time! It was absolutely one of the most special weddings I have ever attended.
For those of you interested in visiting the big island tha don’t plan on attending a wedding, the hotel offers many activities that I wish I had a chance to check out. The have the following schedule some mornings:
8:30am: Outside yoga
10:30am: Lei making class
11:00am: Ukulele class
11:30am: Hula class
A Luau is also performed at the resort every Monday and Friday night. I was really bummed we didn’t get a chance to go to one of these during our trip.
And if you wanted to get off the resort, below I have a list of more fun things to do on the island that I didn’t get the chance to see.
Day 4 (Tuesday):
Manta Ray Snorkel 6pm-8pm. $120 per person. Fair Wind
Tuesday we spent the afternoon in downtown Kona looking at all the shops and checking out a market with cute handmade items. We had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp where I got a really cool non-alcholic bev in an awesome souvenir cup! It was so fun to get the Shirley-temple type drinks with my best friend, I felt like we were kids again!
Our plan was to check out of the hotel this day and move to the rental house, but we ended up staying at the hotel one extra night. Our evening activity was another snorkel right next to the hotel, so we didn’t want to force anyone drive us out to the rental so late at night!
The nighttime snorkel was to view the manta rays! What an experience! I will never get a chance to do something like that ever again! It was spectacular. This snorkel gave me the biggest adrenaline rush of my life! We took the cruise ship out to the snorkel spot, which was much closer than the morning snorkel. Manta Ray snorkels happen at night, because they use lights in the water to attract plankton. And the krill attracts the Manta Rays. They had the floating ladder that everyone held onto. We kept our legs lifted with a noodle, so that our bodies were completely floating on the surface of the water and we were just looking down below. Before you knew it, the rays started appearing. They are HUGE! And they are not afraid to get close! The way they swoop upwards and skim the top of the water upside is amazing! This is why our legs were propped up, so that we didn’t accidentally kick any of the rays. Manta Rays are gentle and don’t have stingers, but they are a giant ray species, and only live in certain areas.
Our last full day on the island was spent exploring the Volcanos National Park. Our trip was happening in 2016, so we did not experience all the crazy volcano eruptions that are happening now! We managed to see the super cool crater that had a pool of lava, but it wasn’t actively erupting at the time!
Before we got to Volcanos National Park, we stopped at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. This was another favorite part of the trip for me. Not only was the black sand a fascinating sight to see, but I loved seeing the turtles snoozing on the beach! It was a bit windy and chilly, but truly a beautiful sight!
We stopped at several trails and view points in the Volcanoes National Park. It was fascinating to see how the world around us changed as we drove away from the sunny side of the island filled with lush palm trees, to a barren desert-like land with just black volcanic rocks. And then sprouting in between two rocks might be the bud of a vibrant green bush! I couldn’t believe it made its way through, but it was very cool!
We lucked out on food spending because a lot of our meals were covered by wedding events, or going out to eat with the brides parents! It really is not cheap to eat on the islands, and buying your own groceries if possible is a very smart way to keep costs down.
Other things to do on the Big Island:
We unfortunately only had 5 days on the island, because we couldn’t get more time off of work. Traveling to and from the island included overnight layovers that we had to include in our time-off requests. If we had more Island days I would have loved to check out the following:
Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls. Hilo is beautiful, lush rain forests filled with gorgeous waterfalls.
Papakolea Beach, Green Sand Beach
This was originally on our itinerary, before Punalu’u, but due to some GPS mishaps, we drove past for several miles before realizing. Some people in our group managed to go. I didn’t get the impression that they were super impressed, so I’m not too bummed that I missed it. You either have to walk a couple of miles to the beach, or locals will offer to drive you in their jeep, for a tip. If you’re adventurous, it’s probably worth it!
There you have it! Hawaii was spectacular. Visiting at least one of the islands should be on everyone’s bucket list! I hope to go back some day, when I can afford to!