Up North Bachelorette Weekend

winery bachelorette party

If you’re from Michigan, Up North is a proper noun, sometimes also referred to as God’s Country. My Grandparent’s built our lake house in Gaylord, Michigan when my mom was pregnant with me, I rolled over for the first time in that house, the first time a boy ever told me he loved me was in that house… I didn’t say it back. But best of all, I fell in love with Sammy in that house.

I always planned to get married on the 11 acres of land where my heart belongs, but baseball’s offseason limited us to getting married in the winter months, leaving an outdoor wedding in Michigan out of the question. So when my little sister/ Maid of Honor asked me where I wanted to go for my bachelorette, we both knew what my answer would be. 

Sweatshirts. Wineries. S’mores. Flannels. Flower crowns. Pasta soup. 


My girls traveled from all over the country to make me feel like the most important girl in the world. It was hands down the most amazing weekend of my life aside from our wedding last weekend. 

My mom made all of us the most precious flower crowns I've ever seen! We only took them off to sleep and shower the entire weekend. AND she made my absolute favorite family recipe, Pasta Soup, (the name really doesn't give justice to the meaty and delicious tomato based soup). 

My sister took DIY supplies up early, and with the help of my mom and sister-in law, decked out the house with special details. Gold dipped feathers, lace tambourines, dreamcatchers and adorable signs that read things like, "Mermaids Enter Here".

No detail left behind. 

My dear friend and bridesmaid Lindsey is a ridiculously talented photographer, capturing every giggle, bubble and beam of sunshine you see in this post. 

The BEST part was introducing some of my best girls to each other, and watching them become friends. (Shout out to Megan and Abby who couldn’t make it!)

Thank you to my sweet girls, for making memories with me in my favorite place on the planet. I love you all so much, and how tolerant you are of me when I'm champagne drunk, as seen here... 

...and here...


"Remember that first sip" a note from Gram

champagne photography

When Sammy and I got engaged we were flooded with well wishes and adrenaline, a high unlike ever before! Soon after was Christmas, and then shortly after that the biggest buzzkill in history... Spring Training. Byeee Fiance. 

vintage coups

It was then I received this box, two champagne coups from FIFTY years ago, my Grandparent's wedding, complete with words of wisdom. 

"Ashley and Sammy, 

As your story begins and unfolds into precious memories, remember that first sip and how you gazed lovingly into each others eyes. Repeat that look over and over and over again and I can guarantee it will be a beautiful life. 

We love you both! 
Grandma & Grandpa"

My mom's parents have captivated our entire family since the beginning. The traditional yet open minded foundation they've built has created a life where cousins feel like siblings and Aunts and Uncles like extra sets of parents. There's no dread or obligation, we genuinely want to be together and share each other's lives. 

The love my Grandparent's model for us is genuine, raw, imperfectly perfect and exactly what I want to have when I grow up. None of us have what it takes to be Patricia, but if my grandkids look up to me half as much as I look up to her, I will be so proud of myself. 

Vintage champagne coups

Sammy was adorable and said, "I don't even want to keep those in the house, I'm too afraid of something happening to them." Truth is, I'm terrified too, and have them wrapped lovingly and on the highest shelf for safe keeping. I hope to pass these precious beauties down to my grandkids one day in all their fragile innocence. 

Vintage champagne glasses
vintage champagne coups

Cheers to having a family I'm so proud to be part of, and making one of our own. 


Thank you to Jenn for photographing these babies for us! Your gentle touch and excitement for others' happiness is a joy to be around. 

Minted // Save the Dates!

As a bride there are so many big decisions to make, and even more small details to orchestrate, Minted helps to painlessly cross some off your list! 

From Shower invites, (my mom and sister got mine from Minted and they were precious), and Thanks You's, to Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations, Minted has the most beautiful collection for any style of event. Sammy and I didn't want to fuss with in person meetings and high price point paper, after all it gets thrown away anyway, so we decided to look into some online options. Let me tell you, there are a LOT of sites for paper goods, and after tons of homework, we feel really good about our decision to use Minted. 

The process was simple and fun, and the turnaround was fantastic, (necessary for me since I waited until the last minute!). We selected a style that reflected both us, and our party, then customized with the perfect fonts and colors. Our designer sent us a proof, we made one minor adjustment and within 12 hours it was complete and the order was sent to print. 


The back of the Save the Dates read:

We dream of a candlelit celebration where we let champagne froth run from wrist to elbow and the blonde curls fade to messy frizz. We plan to dance all night and laugh our absolute hardest. Please join us! 

For all the details please visit

To see our Save the Dates in person made me realize we are GETTIN HITCHED. This is the real deal. It's in print so there's no going back right? I felt like I signed a marriage license sealing each envelope knowing our loved ones would open the rose gold metallics and hang them on their fridge. Next up, invitations!


Thank you to Jennifer Kathryn Photography for capturing how much I love these! 

3 Section Half Up Hair Tutorial

half up half down

Until recently, I didn't understand why I got so many compliments on my "half up/ half down" hair. It's one of the styles in my lazy hair rotation because of how easy and mindless it is. But one day last month I was in Target, so basic, and a woman in line behind me asked, "Excuse me, where did you get your hair done? I would love to get my hair done like that for my friend's wedding next weekend, I love that you can't see any bobby pins!"

I thought, "HUH?! This style took four pins and a lotta dry shampoo because I haven't washed in days on days." But instead I told her I'd post a tutorial on the blog by October and gave her the YSAJ site. 

So HEY Jaclyn, hope those new bath towels are all you've ever dreamed of! 

Let's get to it!

half up hair

^^ BEGIN >> by collecting the hair from your crown, leaving out the hairline, and hair above the ears. Leaving hair out feels less, flower girl-y from the front. A good rule of thumb is to leave out two finger widths of hair from the hairline. Make sure to leave hair above the ear as well!

half up updo

^^ Secure that section with two pins in opposite directions, holding the hair in place. 

easy half up half down
easy half up half down updo

^^ Next take a section of hair to the right of the pins. Place a pin onto the section, a few inches away from the scalp. Pull that section over the first section, and secure it beneath the first pins. 

easy half up half down
half up half down hairstyles

^^ Repeat on the left side. 

half up hairstyle
bridesmaid hair

What do you think? Would you try this look on yourself? It's great for running to Target on a Sunday, or attending a wedding, super easy, and not at all time consuming. If you try this look at home please post a selfie on insta and tag @YourStylistAJ


Thank you to my dear friend and amazing talent Jennifer Kathryn for the beautiful photos!

Around the WWW.

Hey friends! 

This summer has been JAM packed. I know I always say that life seems busy and full to the point of overflowing, but this year truly has been so far. In the best way. 

I've had a wedding or two almost every single weekend of the year, including the beauties above, photographed by the incredible Robyn Rachel Photography. My brides have all been in the midwest so far this season, with multiple in Michigan, Chicago and Ohio. The rest of the year is looking just as exciting, with many more Chicago brides, one in DC and the one we're looking forward to for about 486 reasons, in Puerto Rico next month. 

Meanwhile I've been busy traveling to see Sammy on the road, and have been fortunate enough to go no more than 20 days between visits since Spring Training! It's crazy to think that we're in the home stretch of the season, pun completely intended, and we're trying to remain calm as we anticipate a spot in the playoffs. 

Then there's our wedding, which we're getting more and more excited for each time we check something off the list. HUGE shout out to our planner Karen, of Bubbles In Bucktown, who's kept us on schedule and excited throughout this silly process. The details are all coming together and I can't WAIT to dance the night away with our friends and family this January. My shower was last weekend in Michigan and it kind of kicked off the realness of what's happening in my life. My sister and mom hosted the most magical backyard evening complete with champagne punch and sweet rosemary plants in gorgeous rose gold pots for guests to take home. It's overwhelming to be surrounded by all of the women in your life at the same time, and Sammy and I are beside ourselves with how much love we've received. 

I've been composing lots of blog posts, and finally feel pretty caught up on a long list of to-do's that's been insanely daunting for a couple months. I'll be back next with a tutorial, and have a cocktail recipe up after that. Thank you for being so patient and continuing to check out the blog even during my absence from it! When you can't find me here, you an always find me on instagram @YourStylistAJ, and snapchat username YourStylistAJ!

Like many bloggers, I sat down to write a post and found myself Pinteresting and cruisin' the internet for a bit instead. Here's what I've been loving today!

This is on repeat. 

Head pieces for the boho bride. 

Determining your wedding budget

Get this accessory for your bride-to-be-bestie and retire the sashes! Pair with these for an OMG worthy party. 

Hosting a baby shower? Precious idea. 

This Insta account is the kind of funny I need to break up my days. This post is my favorite.

 Handy advice for your next Tinder date.

This bride's style is so incredible to me.  

Obsession Confession: layering rugs. Next on my to do list. 

There's been so much celebration lately. Might be time for a little three day

Birthday gift she's sure to love. 

What I'm making for dinner tonight for the zillionth time : )



Murad & Massage Envy : A love affair


Massages and facials are not luxury experiences. 

I feel it's super important to say that again. Massages and facials are not luxury experiences. 
They are necessary experiences, that just so happen to be enjoyable, but that doesn't make them a guilty pleasure. 

Is getting your teeth cleaned something you consider a luxury and feel guilty about spending money on? Heck no, it's part of your lifestyle, since taking care of yourself is important to you! Gone be the days where you feel guilty about getting a massage or facial, these services are maintenance for your body, just like getting an oil change or refueling your vehicle. 

YOU GET ONE FACE. Why in the world wouldn't you love it by taking care of it, learning about it, using products tailored to it and protecting it? 

Massage Envy makes services affordable, but low prices don't equate to low expectations. I've had facials at four star hotels, and boutique spas, and every salon I've ever worked in, the best facials I've ever had are at Massage Envy. Here's why! 

  • CONSULTATION. The estheticians will not start your service without learning all about your skin, routine, concerns and history. 
  • MURAD. OMGracious. The premium product line that Massage Envy uses is my skin's soul mate. There are four main facials that estheticians are inspired by, Vitamin C, Acne Treatment, Anti-Aging and Sensitive Skin. I love learning about what products are best for my face, as facials are not a one size fits all experience. I have absolutely found incredible results with this line, and can't recommend it enough! 
  • EDUCATION. When I'm getting a massage, I like a zero dialogue environment where I can melt into the table and totally relax. When I'm getting a facial, I like to learn about skincare and how to better take care of my skin. Every facial I've had has been so informative and interesting for me. I feel totally comfortable asking questions and have always felt like my service provider knows exactly what they're talking about. 
  • JUDGEMENT FREE. Have you ever approached a makeup counter in a department store, and had a girl with perfectly dewy fresh skin look at you and say, "Oh honey sit down you need this! (Presents million dollar face cream), Your skin is dryyyy and dull!" Well I have. And to that girl I would just like to say, that is NOT how to make a sale. When I've gotten Murad facials at Massage Envy the girls have made me feel comfortable even when talking about the areas of my skincare that need improvement. 
  • EMOTIONAL WELLNESS. Facials are relaxing and deliver peace of mind and contentment. It's a great feeling of a fresh start!

There are over 1.000 Massage Envy locations in the United States, so it's about as easy to scoop up a pampering appointment as it is a Starbucks Grande Non-fat latte, (which I desperately need right now). Every time I turn around, another location pops up, making the company's growing success obvious. 

If you haven't had a massage service from Massage Envy yet, do yourself a favor and make an appointment immediately. Then, after you love the service, (because you will- trust me), become a member for discounts that make monthly appointments possible. 

If you made it this far through my rambles, you just earned yourself a chance to win an exclusive Murad Environmental Shield Healthy Regimen Kit sold only at Massage Envy Spas!  

To enter, you must be following @YourStylistAJ on Instagram, and leave a comment below with one thing you could improve on regarding your skin care routine! WINNER will be announced Thursday at 9am, so please get entries in before! 


This is a sponsored post but of COURSE the review of awesomeness is my very own. 

Braided (Hair) Headband // A tutorial

Easy Hair Tutorial

It's all too easy to get stuck on hair autopilot, sporting the same exact look everyday. This braid headband is an easy way to spice up your typical routine needing only a few bobby pins. Extra points if you have texture spray in your product drawer!

Start by adding a styling product that has some grip. I love the Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish as well as the Oribe Dry Texture Spray. Adding this product to the areas you know you'll be putting in bobby pins helps ensure they don't slip right out. 

Bumble and Bumble

Take a medium sized section from just behind the ear. The important part is that this section comes from under the top section.

Hair Tutorial

Braid the section with a standard three strand braid and tie off with a clear hair elastic. Pull the braid apart to "fatten" it up, giving the illusion there's more hair in the braid than there is.

Repeat on the other side. 

hair tutorial

Next lift one of your braids up and over your head creating a headband. 

Pin the braid behind the ear at the base of the other braid. The pins should be hidden under the top section of hair that was left out in the beginning. 

Braid headband DIY

Repeat on the other side. 

If your braids still don't feel secure, you can add a couple more pins hidden within the braid on the top of your head near your part. 

Braid DIY

Prepare yourself. All day today girls will say, "I could never do that to my hair!" Help a sister out and tell her how you did it! ...in like two minutes! 


Show me your SELFIE! If you try this look on yourself please post a pic using the hashtag #AJmademeselfie


BHLDN Bridesmaid Dresses

BHLDN Chicago

 I've had BHLDN on my radar for a while, so when they hosted my wedding planner Karen and I to come in and scope out some styles, they had us at Champagne. BHLDN surpassed every already great expectation I had. Their bridesmaid dress selection is stunning, and the experience they deliver makes you feel like you're their most special bridal party.


The downstairs of the Chicago location makes you want to play dress up for days. Whimsy dresses hang upon industrial piping, and natural light bounces off the many vintage mirrors making you feel like you're in a feminine fairytale. 

The girls had pulled a few dresses for us before we arrived, and even a jumpsuit- dead. We added to the collection and then headed up to our fitting room. 


These aren't just "dressing rooms". Each room is a suite. A suite with a titanic-esque couch. The wood floors are stunning but the rug is even more amazing. There is a dressing room in the dressing room. Basically I want to move in.

BHLDN earrings

Once we were in our suite and the dresses were pulled, our stylist brought us champagne and gifts! It was everything in me not to just take her home or throw her in the bridal party. 

Sofia Champagne
BHLDN dress
BHLDN bridesmaid dress

After some champagne, our dress up dreams came true. Karen and I tried on some favorites and styled them multiple ways. One of my absolute favorite concepts is adding a topper to a dress. Below is Karen in the same dress, worn three ways. Sammy and I are getting married in January, so these toppers are a great addition to a strapless dress, even if only until the reception. 

Bridesmaid dress

BHLDN has such a wide variety of hair accessories. Sometimes it's hard to find accessories that aren't 100% bling and sparkle. 

BHLDN headpiece

I can't help but obsess over Karen's balayage in these pics... 

BHLDN bridesmaid dresses
BHLDN dress

Ok get ready. This is a BRIDESMAID DRESS. I know you're as in shock as I am. At $275, the Juliette Dress could easily be a wedding dress for a bride on a budget!

BHLDN white bridesmaid dress
BHLDN clutch

I seriously can't wait to go back with all my girls. BHLDN has something for every bride, bridesmaid and Mother of the Bride/ Groom. The girls aren't intimidating and instead make you feel like a guest in their home. The experience, dresses and accessories are nothing short of special. Thank you so much BHDLN, for treating us like princesses. 


Photos by // Made to be Mine

Hair Goals #Repunzel


I've pretty much always been a long hair kinda girl. I've definitely had phases of experimenting with shorter styles, but have missed my long hair every single time I make the change. For me, long hair is freedom. It doesn't limit me in any way. I can easily put it in a tight bun to get it completely out of my way, I can go forever without washing it, and when it is down, I feel most like myself with mermaid curtains on the sides of my face. 

Truth is, I'd probably go for the "lob" if I wasn't getting married 7 months from today, but maybe I'm craving a short look just because I "can't" have it right now. 

Either way, lets chat about how to get long hair after a good chopping, and how to keep it looking as healthy as possible once it is long!

  • If you're looking to maintain your current length a trim every 8 weeks is great. (Super short styles can look best with a cut every 6 weeks.)

  • If you're looking to grow your hair longer, stretching your appointments 10 weeks apart should be totally fine.
  • If you wash and dry your hair only once or twice a week, (like me), you might be able to get away with 12 weeks between cuts. This is only possible if you're applying heat on your hair no more than twice a week. 
  • Any time you get a color service involving bleach, you're a great candidate for a trim. 
  • Heat protectants aren't optional! ANYtime you're blowdrying, or using a curling iron, wand, or flat iron, apply a heat protectant first! My favorites are here, here and here
  • Fall asleep with wet hair when possible. I try to shower at night and snooze on wet hair so that when I wake up I can just add messy curls, versus blow dry and curl. It cuts my heat styling in half.
  • Invest in a nice brush. I recommend this bad boy for any type of client because it glides through tangles! It's gentle enough for damaged hair and effective enough for coarse hair. I can't rave about a nice boar bristle brush enough! 
  • Rotate your pony placement. So many clients come in and I can instantly tell that they wear their ponytail in the exact same spot everyday. Hair ties can create damage and breakage, so rock these and rotate your placement. 
  • Opt for braids instead of ponytails when you workout! If you have a ponytail whipping around Lake Shore Drive as you train for the Chicago Marathon, it's gonna take a serious beating. It'll inevitely get tangly and then you'll rip a brush through it after, aggressively creating breakage. Braids hold the hair in place, out of your face, and are much more gentle. 

You grow girl!


Thank you Kristi of Made to be Mine for the gorgeous photo! 

DIY bobby pin hacks

Bobby Pin Hacks

Your boyfriend complains about them being on every surface every time you stay at his place, but when you really need one you can't find one anywhere. Bobby pins are sneaky little creatures and today I'm excited to share some of my favorite summertime hacks!

There's something extra special about gold bobby pins on dark hair. If you're blonde, def opt for black for a strong contrast. Mixing in color is super fun too, I like mixing green, red and yellow for a surf babe look. (If you don't have colored pins, nail polish is a great way to quickly coordinate with your look!)

Festival Hair

Chicago girls that have tickets to LakeShake or Lollapalooza, these are for you! 

Festival Hair
Triangle bobby pins
Photos // Eat Pray Photo

Photos // Eat Pray Photo

What do you think? Would you try this look over a flower crown for your next summer concert?


Guest Post: Bubbles In Bucktown

Sometimes people come into your life at exactly the right time, and you don't even know why yet. I met Karen, (OMG check out her blog), last year and we instantly hit it off! I had so much fun prepping her wedding hair with balayage and extensions, chatting details along the way. I was always always blown away by how organized she was. Never stressed, aside from the little week-of weather frustrations. (It rained on her wedding day, but don't fret, her hair still looked fab!) I was SO excited for her wedding day, and while getting her ready that morning wasn't even the least bit resentful that I was missing the Nationals play the Giants in the playoffs. This job is my big leagues, and her wedding was so special to me. 

When I got engaged I started asking her all kinds of questions and she kept me organized from week ONE. I'm still grateful she helped prep me for the money/parents/planning convos that are undeniably always awkward at first. 

After about a month of Karen just helping me as a great friend, I asked her if she would take me on as her first bride, first client and first wedding to actually plan and be responsible for. She's always thought about starting a wedding biz on the side and this was a great opportunity for us both. She was almost as excited as me, and took me on as a client. Talk about a role reversal! 

I'm so thankful that so far, planning has been a breeze. Karen has kept me on track and at ease the entire time, and I can't recommend her enough. I feel like she's been in the business for years. 

We have some seriously juicy planning posts planned for y'all so stay tuned! But for today, here's some advice for the newly engaged from the freshly married!

PS Happy Birthday KAREN!

Karen Puder // Bubbles in Bucktown

“If I could turn back time.  If I could find a way.”  Ok… enough Cher for today.  Actually, for the year.  But seriously, ladies, getting engaged is the best thing ever!  I want to do it all over again (with my husband John, of course).  It marks the beginning of such an incredible whirlwind of emotions, endless parties, diligent planning, multiple cake tastings (if you play your cards right), and so much more.  Before I got engaged, I thought, “How hard can it be?  It’s just one day.  I got this!”  And then, I dove in headfirst.  And it’s a lot to take in.  But it is honestly the best time of your life.  So embrace it.  It flies by.

So everyone will tell you the normal things – “The day goes by so fast, so make sure to take it all in.”  “You can’t please everyone.”  “Eat your dinner!”  And all of that is true.  But here are a few things I learned through my engagement that made it all a little bit easier.

  1. Start organized and stay organized.  If this isn’t your thing, that’s ok.  Own that, and ask for help.  Ask a friend, hire a planner, utilize online tools, or read planning books.  Excel will become your BFF.  Your Pinterest board categories will start to look like an OCD playground.  Checklists will become an extension of your arm (as will a nice glass of cabernet).  Bottom line: stay on track and you’ll keep your stress levels in-check.  Hold yourself to timelines and goals, and you will coast into the week leading up to your wedding.  Do not leave decor shopping, DIY projects, and gift buying until the month before the wedding.  Reserve that time for what has to wait – final RSVP outreach, seating chart, escort cards, and more cabernet.  
  2. Be kind and gracious to your vendors.  When you are initially reaching out to them, take an extra two minutes to write a well thought-out and heartfelt email.  Compliment their work and let them know why you are interested in working with them.  It makes such a difference!  When you start a relationship off on a sweet, positive note, it will pay off in dividends.  When you decide to book a vendor, continue with this sentiment.  Kindness does not have to be taken for weakness – hold your ground on what you really want, but do it with grace and respect.  Hire people that you feel really understand your vision and who you can see yourself having fun working with.  If you do that, you will not have to micromanage them throughout the process (because who has time for that?!).  Also, if the unthinkable happens and a vendor falls through mid-engagement, you have those nice emails (that you have archived in your “wedding vendors” email folder ☺) that will be more willing to help you out in a pinch since you were oh-so-loveable to start!
  3. Stay true to you – both of you.  This doesn’t mean you have to have over-the-top, intimate touches littered through your wedding.  It doesn’t mean you have to DIY from floor to ceiling.  It just means you should spend time with your fiancé and create an event that feels like the two of you at your core.  Are you not the type to stand on a chair in public and proclaim your love for one another?  Then don’t feel the pressure to write intimate vows and read them out loud in front of 200 people.  Keep it between the two of you and write each other private letters.  Are you not that into an extravagant six-tier cake that breaks the bank?  Skip it and have donuts.  For example: I love cheese.  I love it so much that I think my blood type is cheddar positive.  So I had the crazy idea of making our escort card table a giant cheese display--and everyone loved it!  Who wouldn’t want to find their seat while nibbling on a cube of smoked gouda?!  John and I also have the same taste in music.  So instead of playing all of the typical wedding songs, we danced until we couldn’t stand to all of our favorite hip-hop tracks, and it was SUCH a blast!  (Sorry, Grandma!)
  4. And fire up the cliché horn… but remember why you are doing all of this.  Let me preface it with this: I am a big “details” girl.  I love the perfect pairing of fonts, elegant folds in napkins, ribbons tied straightly on programs, and a subtle color scheme that even Martha Stewart would applaud.  But when you can’t decide between ivory or blush napkins, or when your cheeks are soaked in tears because your budget is becoming glaringly slim, or maybe you just can’t get Uncle Bill to respond with his RSVP… take a deep breath and look at your fiancé.  It’s not about all that stuff.  It is about you marrying the man you are head-over-heels in love with.  Like, love-more-than-a-glass-of-sparkling-rosé-with-a-side-of-fries love.  The moments I cherish the most from our engagement were still coated in salt water, but the tears were flowing for a different reason.  It was because I was picturing standing at the altar with my soon-to-be-husband.  The tears were there when I was daydreaming about looking out at all of our friends and family and reflecting on the fact that they were there just for us.  And they came pouring out when I pictured myself dancing with my dad to a song he had thought about for years.  Those are the moments I hold dearest from our engagement, and imagine this, they are the moments that I remember most from our wedding day as well.  And now I'm crying again!

Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience and cherish it the whole way! 


Karen Elizabeth

INSTA // @bubblesinbucktown

Email // karen@bubblesinbucktown.com



Real Life Love

There’s a scene in the first season of Shameless where Fiona is leaving a horrible day and walking down the sidewalk in the snow. It’s apparent she feels alone and frustrated, shameless messy tears and all. Her man magically pulls up beside her, parks the car in the right lane, literally runs out of the car and romantically embraces her. 

It’s moments like that, that are real and rare, but nonetheless television makes you envy. Moments that I catch myself dreaming up after my own bad days. That maybe, magically, Sammy might pull up alongside me walking the four lane Lasalle Street or while I’m trying to hail a cab in the pouring Spring rain. 

I convince myself once a month that Sammy’s surprising me that day. I make sure to shave my legs and wear waterproof mascara. I make sure my bra and panties match. I throw out last week’s kale I failed to Vitamix as much as I’d hoped. I’m never resentful when he doesn’t show up to surprise me, after all I fully know it’s not possible. There’s still a part of me that’s bummed. 

It takes a different kind of strength to remind myself that what we have IS a fairytale and undoubtably magical. The typical movie scene embraces and silliness I admire might not be realistic, but there’s so much special that deserves credit of it’s own. 

This Valentine’s Day was the first Valentine’s Day Sammy and I have spent together, EVER, and we’ve been dating since 2009. We were staying with friends in Orlando, and I quietly snuck to the restroom at 6am. When I tip-toed back I was smirking in glory that Sammy hadn’t moved and was still sound asleep. I slowly leaned back onto my pillow and crunched on something hard. I reached under my head to find a red envelope. The sweetest message written in the sweetest card in the most thoughtful delivery. Way freaking better than roses. 

Things aren’t always Nicholas Sparks. Not even close. Your tearjerker moments might not involve, “If you’re a bird I’m a bird”, but are worth recognizing. The little in betweens of life are so much more special than the charades. When distance and loneliness has me momentarily doubt how special my relationship is, Sammy quickly brings me back to reality. Even the best stories have moments of normal and we’re making our own movie. One I’m proud to star in. Call me cheesy, I like Velveeta. 

Love you Sammy Palace.

L'Occitane Creme Divine Review

L'Occitane Creme Divine Moisturizer Review

I've used Crisco-like thick moisturizers that made my face feel hydrated, but made my makeup slip right off. I've used night creams. I've used coconut oil. There were some formulas that seemed to work, and left me hydrated all day, but as soon as I washed my face, I was flakey again. I've never found a moisturizer that left my skin feeling great, and didn't interfere with my makeup lasting all day, until last Spring when I tried the L'Occitane Creme Divine for the first time. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, my skin has always been dry. I've been in search of the perfect moisturizer for YEARS. 

This thick and velvety goodness is my favorite moisturizer for all four seasons.  As long as I use it my skin feels fresh and elastic! I swear in the past year, my skin has started to look more youthful, a bonus I wasn't even looking for in a moisturizer. A little goes a long way with this smell-good magic potion, so you don't need to cringe at the price tag as much as you think! 

You can snag your own here, here or here :)


Bridal Balayage


Even if you have virgin hair, you're no foreigner to the trending word, Balayage.

Balayage is a freehand painting technique that delivers the most natural hair color. A sunkissed glow you haven't seen since the summer after fifth grade. It's super low maintenance, and can be as subtle or as noticeable as you prefer. 

We've all had an awful color service at some point, and too often it freaks girls out from ever getting color again. So many brunettes tried highlights in high school or college and ended up looking like a German Shepherd with high contrast muddy streaks, damaged ends, and a harsh line of outgrowth six weeks later. If you're that girl, I'm begging you to hear me out. 

Bride or not, dimensional color is more beautiful than non-dimensional color. Without dimension, there's nothing to separate color from looking like it came straight out of a box from the drugstore. But if you are a bride, it's that much more important. 

I've never had a bride pull up their Pinterest board, point at a photo of non-dimensional color and say, "That's what I want!" It will never happen. We're drawn to styles that have sun kissed highlights, no matter how subtle, otherwise, the detail in the style gets lost forever. Especially in photos. 

This type of detail is so hard to explain to brides or bridesmaids when they're in my chair, so with the help of Emilia and Karen, I bring you, the power of dimensional hair color! 

Emilia's hair color is on the left. It's lovely, exotic and dark, shiny and healthy! I do her color myself, so the last thing I want to do is dog it, BUT, it's the perfect example of hair that's begging for depth. Her bun is lost on the back of her head! (After we shot these photos, she booked an appointment for balayage.) 

Karen's hair was medium brown and virgin before her October 2014 wedding, and I added a soft childlike dimension. Since then she's decided to amp it up even further, and this is her post wedding color with a bit more kick to it. You can undoubtably see the depth of the bun along with the twist and texture, because of the highlights. 

I'm on the right, and obviously there's a whole lotta dimension goin on. Of course you do not need to be blonde for the details of your style to shine through. That said, the more dimension in your color, the more detail in your style. 

If you have any questions on balayage or bridal styles, please hit me up here or leave a comment below! 


A love letter ⌲

Hey girl,

If you’re here right now, you’ve been patient with me as I took a serious break from blogging! You’re here because you’ve been supportive through it all and are still cheering me on. I adore the heck out of you and would love to hug it out. 

I’ve spent a serious amount of time reevaluating what direction I want to take my business in, and didn’t want to prematurely relaunch a business that didn’t completely represent my passions and lifestyle. I’m so happy to say that, I’m BACK, and I’m thrilled to share everything on my mind with you. 

I have so many hair tutorials ready for you to recreate, and product reviews for you to trust. I have random music playlists and DIYs to play with. I have a lot of personal experiences to share, to the point of asking Sammy’s permission before even posting. 

Your Stylist AJ has been the most rewarding adventure I’ve ever been a part of. It has my full attention. My brides, my salon clients, my family who I know is reading this right now, you are the rockstars that have encouraged me to vulnerably share my story, and ultimately, BE MYSELF. 
This website aesthetic isn’t “bridal”. This website has been carefully designed like the gallery wall above my couch or the spare bedroom our friends stay in when they visit. It’s designed to represent who I am entirely, personally and professionally. 

So thanks for coming over! I’ll take your coat. Can I get you a glass of bubbly?

⤜ Love you ⤛





“Will you marry me?” Sammy asked with a smile so wide I could see his back teeth. There was no nervousness in him, no indication that it was coming. Just good conversation turned down-on-one-knee. Instantly I was leaning down, grabbing him by the face and planting my M.A.C. Red lips all over his.

You think about the day you’ll find your person, they day you’ll get engaged, the day you’ll get married. You don’t have the slightest idea it’ll be THIS MUCH FUN! That it’ll feel THIS special.

December 11, 2014 was just another Thursday. I threw on black pants and heels that morning and headed to the salon for a ten hour day. We had dinner plans that night that I almost kind of dreaded because frankly I couldn’t wait to get home, throw my hair up in a messy bun, wash my face, and costume change into some Lulu. But we had a commitment, and I wouldn’t bail on my girl.

Lindsey is a creative lover of life whose passion projects from behind the lens. She is a food and lifestyle photographer, but most importantly one of the most amazing people in my life. The week prior, Lindsey asked Sammy and I if we would be a part of one of her restaurant shoots. She said she just needed shots of our hands eating dessert at the end of a Bavette’s dinner. Bavette’s is my favorite restaurant, so of course we were excited to help out.

Sammy met me at the salon and we walked over to dinner together. When we arrived, our favorite hightop in the back corner was reserved. Complete with two glasses of Malbec.

Lindsey came to our table within minutes and explained that we could order whatever we wanted for dinner, and she only needed to shoot the dessert portion. She said she had to go back to the kitchen to shoot some entrees, and that she’d be back once our dessert came out.

Nothing was out of the norm to me. I didn’t question the authenticity of the situation at ALL. Linds and I are always working on projects together, this was no big deal.

Dinner was fantastic. Conversation even better. Simple, normal, “How was your day?” and “Did you see who the Nats traded?”.

After dinner, two tooprettytoeat desserts came out. Followed by Lindsey, ready for the shoot. She arranged the spoons and our hands and took some ariel shots of the food. Signature @eatprayphoto shots.

“Ok guys I’m gonna have you stand in front of the table for a couple shots.”

That was weird, I expected only our hands to be in the shots, but I shook it off.

“Just talk amongst each other.”

I turned to Sammy and said, “Ok, lets pretend like we’re talking.” And he started talking…

“Can’t wait for our trip tomorrow! It’ll be so fun to see your family and let loose for the weekend. But I wouldn’t feel right about going without asking you something first…”

I felt like I stepped into a sauna. Instantly hot all over. I knew.

AND BOOM. Down on one knee. “Will you marry me?”

The restaurant burst into applaud and strangers were recording the moment. I wish I’d have asked them to send it to me! Bavette’s gifted us champagne and I’m pretty sure I drank it in one gulp!

Needless to say there was no dessert shoot, Sammy asked Lindsey to document our proposal at my favorite restaurant. I still can’t believe I had no idea.

I couldn’t wait to get out of there and call our families! I only had one bite of dessert, grabbed my coat and we headed home.

Sammy secretly recorded me calling our families in the taxi home. Watching the video I realize what an absolute spaz I was that night!

We walked into our apartment and I saw balloons and gold rose petals. Then a LOT of champagne, and a huge banner that said #WelcomeToThePalace.

Then two by two, starting with my sister and her boyfriend, some of our closest friends started pouring out of our bedroom. I was still in shock from the proposal, and all I could do was cry to see our friends gathered together to celebrate this new adventure.

Whiskey Gelato
Bavette's Bar and Bouf
Emerald Cut
Surprise Party
Surprise Party

Thank you to everyone who was involved in such a magical night, and to Sammy Palace, for making me feel like the most special girl in the whole entire world.

Love, AJ

Defined Brow Tutorial

Ever feel like instead of looking someone in the eyes, you're looking them in the brows? ME TOO! Brows are back baby, and the more defined, the better. I teamed up with Ulta Beauty to create this tutorial for a clean brow look. Check it out!

STEP 1: Fill in brow with pencil, using short, fine strokes. // Used Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Skinny Brow Pencil in Soft Brown

STEP 2: Dab brush into concealer. Carve out brows by applying concealer above your eyebrow. // Used NYX Cosmetics Concealer In A Jar in Light

STEP 3: Use brush and fingers to blend in concealer. // Used IT Brushes For ULTA Live Beauty Fully Essential Concealer Brush #212 

STEP 4: Work a highlighting pencil lightly into the arch of your brow. Blend as needed, using fingertip.// Used Benefit High Brow



Quick Party Curls

I teamed up with ULTA Beauty to create a fast and easy hair tutorial for you!

What you’ll need: Hair elastic Heat protectant Curling wand Hair spray Hair accessory

STEP 1: Start with dry hair.

STEP 2: Gather ponytail at crown at head.

STEP 3: Spray heat protectant on hair.

STEP 4: Wrap one section of hair around the curling wand. Hold for a few seconds and let it fall.

STEP 5: Repeat with three more sections of hair (or more, if you have thicker hair).

STEP 6: Let curls set for 5 minutes.

STEP 7: Let hair down and finger comb curls.

STEP 8: Lock in curls with volumizing hair spray.


Product Spotlight : ORIBE Soft Dry Conditioner

Oribe Dry Conditioner Dry Shampoo? Been there, need that. But Dry Conditioner? That was new news to me!

Allow me to introduce you to my new BFF, Oribe Dry Conditioner. At first thought, it's gimmicky and overpriced, but spray this velvet onto your locks and you'll begin buying this in bulk. This is my hands down favorite product for my dry blonde ends, and a great alternative to greasy Moroccan Oil, (which I'm SO over).

This ultrafine mist applied from midshaft to ends of hair, will leave you smelling delicious and feeling insanely soft. I've been walking around creepily petting my own hair.

Treat yourself! Or gift a gal pal a bottle for Christmas! (Available at Thomas West Salon, and HERE.)


Sleep less, dream more.

beauty blog “AJ where did you go to college?”, Facebook prompts me every few months.

“I didn’t go to college you JERK!”, I angrily think back to my innocent computer.

I’m just so over the idea that college is the only way to success. I’m a little angst-y about it. Obviously.

College was our only option growing up. By sophomore year of high school you had your favorite schools scoped out, at SIXTEEN mind you. By your junior year you’d applied and signed up for all the AP classes you could. By your senior year you were rockin the starchiest, logo-ed, crew neck of your school of choice down the hallways. The hallways that you thought mattered SO much.

Now. Please allow me to make myself clear before you stop reading. I think school is wonderful. College is a magical experience for finding yourself if nothing else. For me though, there was just a VERY different path so clear to me, one that some college students may have envied.

I remember so clearly my peers asking where I had applied and where I’d be living in the fall of 2006. I also remember kind of enjoying their freak-out-faces when I told them I was going to cosmetology school and “not going to college”. America’s Funniest Videos kinda faces. JUDGMENTAL faces.

It wasn’t their fault. We, as a generation, were bred to believe that college, and internships, and grad school, were really the only way. Even the parents of my friends judged me. My teachers judged me. My parents and grandparents were scared for me.

And then I witnessed my parents pressing my little sister more clearly. I think they thought maybe if they had provided me with more direction I wouldn’t make such a mistake. They channeled this learning experience through to my sister. (My sister who now is in grad school with dreams of working for the FBI! —-Who I’m so PROUD of!)

I remember my dad researching the annual income of hairdressers, (this was 2004, and in a small town), and sassily informing me it was $11,000. And I CLEARLY remember sassing back, “Well I’m NOT AVERAGE!”

And I’m not. I am not average. No one who knowingly breaks the mold, is average. No one who follows their dream is average. No one who fights for the anti-cubicle lifestyle, is average.


I really don’t care if that’s being a hairdresser. Blogger. Professional baseball player. Firefighter. Rockstar. Moviestar. Model. Actress. Non-profit badass. Start-up badass. Artist.

And maybe YOU is best being a student. FBI agent. Teacher. Doctor. Lawyer.

We’re ALL in this together. The world needs a little of everyone! 

I believe the most important thing is that we all support each other. The way my family came around to support me with an education through Aveda, and a move to Atlanta to work for Aveda’s busiest salon in the world. Followed by moving me home after a lifetime movie breakup, (becuase we all need one of those under our belt to realllllly grow up), and helping me find my balance again.

I believe in you. And ME! US. People doing what we WANT and what makes us happy.

I hope this letter of expression delivers one lesson. YOU might be THAT person, that is unknowingly being rude when you say, “did you go to college”, or, “does it scare you that you don’t have a degree”, or, “do you think you’ll go back to school?”.


Just support me. Tell me you’re happy for me that I’m going against the grain and doing what I love, or frankly, keep it to yo-self!

Follow your dreams. Quit your job. Move to Bali and pursue yoga. I don’t care! Just. Do. YOU. Nothing else counts.

Love, AJ

Photo by my pretty friend Kina Wicks Photography