Our Honeymoon in Abu Dhabi

One of the biggest questions we were asked on the day of our wedding was, “where are you going for your honeymoon!?” When we answered, “Abu Dhabi,” the immediate response we got was, “where is that?” Abu Dhabi is located in the Middle East, and is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is situated beside the Persian Gulf, south of Iran and shares a land border with Saudi Arabia and Oman. The popular city of Dubai is located about an hour and a half north of Abu Dhabi.

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The day after our wedding we caught an early flight from Charlotte to New York City. From there, we flew 12 hours to the country of Qatar with Qatar Airways. This was the nicest, most comfortable international flight we’ve ever been on in our entire lives. We didn’t even fly first class! When we were booking our flights with Qatar several months ago, we threw around the idea of flying business class since it was our honeymoon. Looking back, we’re super glad we didn’t cave and spend the extra money! Honestly, we didn’t need to upgrade because economy seating was so nice! When we were checking into our flight at JFK, we mentioned that it was our honeymoon and they changed our seats! They gave us the option of choosing exit row seats or having a row with an empty seat between us. We chose the later option because it gave us more space without worrying about another person next to us.

With all the new movies and TV shows available at our seats, our flight passed by quickly. As soon as we arrived in Qatar, we took a short one hour flight across the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi. From there, we took a 30 minute taxi ride to the Emirates Palace.

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This resort was exactly like it sounds, a palace. It was enormous and luxurious, making it the perfect place for us to honeymoon. Upon arrival, we were greeted and personally shown to our suite. One of the sweet receptionists showed us where everything was, and pointed out all the different amenities within our room.

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One end of the Emirates Palace is dedicated to families and larger groups. The other end is for couples and those who want more privacy. To accommodate both ends, there are two swimming pools. The family friendly swimming pool has several waterfalls, a lazy river, a small park, and a large kiddie pool. We stuck to the pool on our side, which was very quiet and relaxing. They had large hammocks in and out of the pool, plus a swim up bar.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR2814.There was also a private beach along the Persian Gulf with stunning turquoise water!

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When Taylor found out that you could ride camels on the beach, he was sold on the idea of traveling to Abu Dhabi. He was SO EXCITED!

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When telling people that we were traveling to the Middle East, we got a lot of concern regarding safety. We stayed at the resort most days, but when we visited the Grand Mosque and walked around the city, we felt completely safe. The local people were so nice and welcoming, so it’s a place we would highly recomend traveling to!

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When visiting the Grand Mosque, you’re required to dress conservatively. This means wearing something that covers your arms and legs. If you’re a women, you’ll need to wear a head covering as well. If you don’t have any of these items with you, you’ll be required to rent something when passing through security.

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fullsizeoutput_35ae.jpegThese are our, “why did we decide to tour during the hottest part of the day in Abu Dhabi” faces! :)

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There are multiple 45 minute tours of the Grand Mosque available for free! If you don’t feel like participating in a tour group you can show yourself around, but you’re limited to what you can see and learn. Our tour guide gave us a detailed history of the Mosque and we really learned a lot! We’d highly recommend completing the tour rather than showing yourself around! The Grand Mosque was STUNNING!

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Our time in Abu Dhabi was unforgettable. I’m really glad that Taylor encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and travel to a place that I’d never considered before. We were able to see a part of the world that some people will sadly, never get to see. Abu Dhabi was breathtaking and offered us culture and experiences that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.

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If you ever find yourself desiring an adventure or an experience that will challenge you and force you to step outside of what you know, we’d highly recommend traveling to the Middle East. You won’t regret it! Or, if you’re looking for the perfect honeymoon destination, please consider the Emirates Palace!

Our Wedding Day!

This post would not be here if it weren’t for one thing. All the glory of this day goes to God! It’s hard to believe that Taylor and I have been together for four years now. Neither of us knew how God was working when he took a boy from South Carolina and a girl from Pennsylvania all the way out to Fort Collins, Colorado. We were both accepted to a seven week summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ. What most people don’t know, is that I applied to one project, and Taylor applied to three! Most students don’t get denied their first and second choice, but Taylor did, forcing him to go to Colorado that summer. From there, God started working in BIG ways, and here we are today!

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To begin, thank you so much to everyone who helped make our wedding day so special. Our engagement was roughly 9 months, and it took a lot of hard work and prayers to make everything come together just the way we wanted. We were so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who traveled all across the United States to see us!!

On the morning of the wedding, it was stormy and the wind was being difficult. However, The Lord answered our prayers and opened up clear blue skies with a gentle breeze. Just in time to get married!!

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This sign was handmade by my beautiful bridesmaid, Lacie!

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Our “Plan A” didn’t include a tent for the ceremony. However, the event rental company told us that we had to make a decision 5 days beforehand. At that point, the weather was questionable. Although we didn’t want the tent originally, and we didn’t actually need it, it still looked okay!

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The letter S on the tree was handmade by me. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased a giant wooden S, then purchased some fake flower heads from Amazon. I think it was the perfect touch for our ceremony!

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When planning all the little details, it was really important to Taylor and I that we incorporate our passion for traveling and the outdoors in a subtle way.

My parents and I hand made this wooden sign, which listed some of the different places that the two of us traveled to. We also borrowed an old suitcase from a family friend for the cards!

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The bridesmaid robes were purchased from the Etsy shop, LovinglyOurs. I was very impressed with the quality and customer service. They were shipped quickly and they fit each bridesmaid perfectly! I also really loved how there was a variety of colors to choose from and several fonts.

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The suits were ordered from Generation Tux. After being disappointed with the navy suits available at some stores, Taylor found Generation Tux online. We took a leap of faith by measuring each groomsmen by hand, but they all turned out great! There were a few minor sizing glitches, but the company sent replacements overnight. Each groomsmen received their tux two weeks before the wedding, and had a week afterwards to return it. Most companies don’t allow you to pick it up until a day before and they make you return it the very next day!!

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We thought it was only appropriate that the groomsmen enter by boat! 😉

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My wedding gown and all of the bridesmaid dresses were ordered from David’s Bridal.

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We decided to set up a cupcake bar with yummy cupcakes from Brett’s Bakery! We had vanilla, red velvet, chocolate peanut butter, salted caramel, and cookie dough!

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All of the gold cupcake stands were made from old plates and candle sticks I found at goodwill. I just glued them together with industrial strength glue and spray painted them with metallic gold paint.

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Originally, we strung lights for our “Plan A” setup. When we chose “Plan B,” the lights were strung in all the wrong areas. They still looked pretty from a distance though!

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Our wedding was truly magical and flew by with a blink of an eye! Taylor and I were overwhelmed with love and support from all our friends and family. It’s not everyday that you have everyone all together under one tent! 🙂 We couldn’t have asked for a more special day together, and we can’t wait to begin this new chapter.

Once again, THANK YOU to all our dear friends and family for making this day possible!! ❤

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Photographer: Marian Ashley 

Flowers: Mill Street Florist

Event Planner: Missy Willis

Cupcakes: Brett’s Bakery 

Food: Mutt’s BBQ

Life Update: Moving, Wedding & Football

Hello Everyone!

Taylor and I have been MIA on our blog lately because we’ve been super busy and adjusting to new changes. After three years of having a long distance relationship, we are finally living in the same city!! The closest we’ve ever lived to each other, was 3 hours. It is so surreal being able to date like a “normal” couple. Now, we’re only a 15 minute drive away. We’re very thankful to be where we are today, and wouldn’t be here without the love and support from our friends and family.

We’ve both officially moved from South Carolina to Florida! Taylor accepted a graduate assistantship with the University of Florida, where he will complete his Masters in Athletic Training, which will take him two years to finish. He’s also started doing research in hopes of going on to complete his PHD. Needless to say, he’s been busy!

A lot of people have been asking us about our living arrangements while we’re down here. Before Taylor moved, he wanted to stay somewhere comfortable without spending his entire salary. He did a lot of research and nothing stood out to him. One day, he came up with the idea of living in my parent’s camper at a local campground!! Ha! I was completely against the idea, so I rent an apartment. However, Taylor has spent the past 3 months living in a camper. If you know Taylor, you know that this is right up his alley! If you want to see a post on how he does this, just let us know in the comments.

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As for myself, I moved at the beginning of September. It was difficult leaving the job I loved and my new friends, but I’m happy we’re finally together. I’ve been working with a company located in Jacksonville as an SEO content writer. The position allows me to work remotely, while incorporating my love for writing. I’ve also taken a full-time position with Chick-fil-A! I had several interviews with companies around the area, but after a lot of prayer and direction, Chick-fil-A was the best place for me and my career goals. I look forward to growing professionally and making advancements.

So far, transitioning to Florida has been smooth. As most of you know, Taylor and I are huge Clemson football fans! We moved from the ACC to the SEC and we’re trying to love the Florida Gators as much as we love the Clemson Tigers. It’s tough, but we’re working on it. 🙂

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The two teams keep our weekends filled with A LOT of football. When we’re not in Gainesville, we’re traveling to Clemson games. So far, we’ve traveled to see Clemson play Auburn and Georgia Tech.

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As for the wedding, the big day is quickly approaching! Our time as an engaged couple is flying, but with all the holiday’s drawing near, the time is only going to pass quicker. So far, we’ve locked down a date, venue, florist, theme, guest list, dress, and photographer. For those of you who don’t know, the wedding will be held in South Carolina during May 2017. You can read about our engagement here.

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Every time I think we’ve got everything under control, I realize there’s 50 other things to do! Currently, we’re working on save the dates, our registry, and our honeymoon destination! We’ll be honest, we had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to pick a honeymoon location. We’ve been scouring the internet looking for the best hotels, flights, and accommodations. There are a few destinations we’ve been eyeing, but nothing has really stood out to us yet. We’re ready to find that “wow” place! We’re always welcome for suggestions!

Thank’s for reading! 🙂

 

 

Our Engagement Story!

On our first full day out west, we woke up early so we could go pick up our rental car from Hertz at the airport. We took a short Uber ride, and when we arrived we had no wait to pick up the car!

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We rented a Nissan, Sentra for one week, which only cost us $260. The car worked out nicely for us because it came with unlimited miles and was great on gas mileage. We racked up over 1,500 miles on this trip so the unlimited miles was a huge plus! The only thing we wished that we could have changed, was the size. It didn’t offer a ton of space for our things, but we made it work. We would’ve loved something bigger and with four wheel drive for Taylor’s dirt road adventures.

Once we got our car, we headed toward Zion National Park (While of course stopping for coffee).  The views on the way were breathtaking and made the two hour drive fly by!

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Once we arrived in Zion, we immediately bought an annual pass for all National Parks. Without the pass, it’s around $30 per park you enter, depending on the popularity. During our trip, we would be visiting 6 different parks, so it made total sense to purchase the annual pass for $80. Not only did we get our money’s worth for this trip, but we have all year to use it too!

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We stopped at the visitors center to check out the maps and pick which trail we wanted to hike. We ended up choosing Angel’s Landing, which is one of the most popular hikes.

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This ended up being the most strenuous hike we did during the entire trip. Not only was it our first day in the desert, but the altitude was so high, that it made it 10x harder. We would NOT recommend this hike for anyone with small children, injuries, or a fear of heights.

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When you’re hiking to the top, you are constantly on an incline for several miles. There is nothing flat about this trail. We really had to push each other to make it to the top. Taylor said that we didn’t have a place to stay that night, so we were slightly pressed for time, but it was so hard not to take a water break every 10 minutes.

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The picture below shows some of the switchbacks that you would have to climb. It was such a heartbreaker to turn a corner and see what you had to climb next, knowing you would need to zig-zag your way up there.

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But by conquering the climbs, it resulted in every plateau offering a breathtaking view of the park below!

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When we thought we made it to the top, we looked up and realized we still had about another hour to go. From where we stood, it was another 1.1 miles to the top! The hike was hard enough making it to where we stood, but the climb to angel’s landing included a very narrow path with only a loose chain to keep you from falling off a 1000 foot drop. No thank you!

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At some points, the trail was only 3 feet wide! I wasn’t keen on heights, so Taylor agreed and said we should start heading back down the mountain. This should’ve been my first clue that he had other plans for the evening. On any normal day, he would’ve really dragged me up that hill.

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At some moments, going down proved to be a little scarier than hiking up!

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Pictured below is the same picture as earlier, except this time we were standing at the top!  It was so relieving to look down rather than up.

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The trail took us about 2+ hours total! Once we reached the bottom, we got back in the car and headed to our next destination.

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Taylor told me that we were going to Arches National Park and stopping for dinner along the way. I kept asking him if we were going the right way, but since I am the most directionally challenged person I know, I just assumed we were headed towards Arches. The drive was soooo long and I began to panic that we wouldn’t be able to find a place to camp. Taylor remind confident we would find something (probably hint number 2 for him having other plans for the day).

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After driving for what seemed like forever, we came to a little park entrance and I was very confused because I knew we weren’t in Arches. Then, Taylor told me, “Surprise!! We’re at the Grand Canyon!” I was super shocked because Taylor has never successfully surprised me with anything. I can usually figure him out.

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At this point, I immediately started asking a million questions, and he told me that he had booked a room at the Grand Canyon Lodge (North Rim) with dinner reservations at 9.

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The Lodge was absolutely beautiful and one of the coolest places we’ve visited. Not only were the views incredible, but everything was cozy and quiet. The lodge is only open from May 15 through October 15 because it’s almost impossible to get to once the colder weather arrives. It’s such a popular destination, that you have to make your reservations a year in advance. They open the dates for the following year every July. Taylor got really lucky because he called several times a week to see if anyone had cancelled. Finally, they told him that there was an opening for July 4, which was perfect!!

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After checking in, we walked around and explored before getting ready for dinner. If you don’t want to stay in the lodge, you can book one of these cute cabins! Some even have porches with rocking chairs.

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Once we put all of our luggage in our room, we showered and changed for dinner. Taylor assured me that the dinner would be fancy since it was held in the lodge, so we both needed to dress nicely.

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We had some time before our reservation, so we decided to watch the sunset over the canyon.

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Towards the end of the sunset, Taylor asked a young couple if they would mind taking our picture in front of the canyon. What I didn’t know, was that he had asked them to keep taking photos because he was about to propose.

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After they took our photo, Tay immediately got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!!

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I was so happy and surprised and could not stop staring at the ring he pulled out!!

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We were so overjoyed and could hardly focus the rest of the night at dinner! Taylor put so much thought and effort into making the entire day and night special. We will never forget that moment and we will definitely be returning to the Grand Canyon Lodge for years to come!

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Thank you for all the love and encouragement!! ❤

Ps dinner was amazing in the Grand Canyon Lodge restaurant and it was such a nice atmosphere in the rustic lodge!