#MeetTheMindells: Our Proposal Story + Plans Begin!

How about two personal posts in one week!? Can we handle this? It’s been just about two months since we got engaged, and I wanted to start sharing a little bit about our wedding here on the blog. I’m not 100% positive how I’ll share about the wedding as we go down the line, whether it’s here or elsewhere, but as of now I’m planning to post about once a month, with an update and even a few questions for all of you that have already gotten hitched! It’s going to be another wordy post, so brace yourselves! And I’ll tell you right now, I’m going to be honest about the good and the bad of being engaged and planning a wedding. But first I figured, how better to kick this off than with our proposal story!?

Balloon Proposal

First, a little background on us! Jeff and I officially “met” our senior year of high school (I say “met” because we come from a pretty small town, so everyone knows who everyone is!). We were both voted best dressed and that kind of kicked everything off. Ha! About six months into our relationship, it was time to head off to college and I went to LA, while Jeff went to DC. We did the long distance thing for a year, before I realized the school I was at wasn’t right for me and so I transferred to DC. After another long distance bout while Jeff studied abroad in London, we graduated and moved to LA! We’ve now been together for 6 1/2 years and, well, it was about time to get engaged, no!?

I’ve been dropping hints to Jeff for a little while that I’ve always dreamed of a balloon-filled engagement. I usually get weird looks when I say this, but my favorite movie is Patch Adams. Remember it? There’s a scene where Patch fills a room with balloons and, well, ever since I saw that I’ve had it bookmarked in my mind. Lucky for me, Jeff took the balloon hints pretty well. And he recruited the one, the only Jihan of Geronimo Balloons to help him make my dream proposal happen! (Unbeknownst to me, of course. I was 100% convinced he would never propose. And I let him know it. Not my proudest moment, folks! But nobody tells you how hard the period between ring shopping and actually getting the ring is! Let me tell you: It’s hard. At least for impatient people like me.) Now, for how it all went down!

Balloon Proposal

I would like to preface this with the fact that I am virtually 100% impossible to surprise. I always figure things out, without trying, mind you. I love surprises. My best friend Lauren was in town, and surprise got engaged to her now-fiancé Mike while she was here! The four of us went to Trails in Griffith Park for lunch the day they were headed back home and Jeff decided to “take the long way” out of the park. I was pretty confused as to why he was doing this, but never really thought much of it. So, we went up around the hills and as we were coming back down, I spy a glorious, amazing Geronimo Balloons mirage in the park. Of course, in my mind, this is normal, and I exclaim… “OH LOOK! It’s Geronimo!” And then Jeff pulled the car over and parked.

Balloon Proposal

Everyone got out of the car, except me, I was frozen. At that point, I knew. And I was in shock. Like I said, I love surprises, but I never really get to experience them because of my perpetual figuring-it-out issue/talent. Jeff finally got me out of the car, and walked me up under the canopy of balloons AND THEN…. I don’t remember anything. HA! Isn’t that terrible? I was a sobbing, overwhelmed mess and all I remember is him getting on one knee, with the most beautiful ring ever, and me saying YES! Please tell me this has happened to someone else!?!? I’m sure what he said was beautiful and meaningful, but man… I really needed a transcript after the fact!

Balloon Proposal

Balloon Proposal

After it was said and done, I notice that in addition to Lauren and Mike witnessing this, Mary is there capturing the whole thing, my sister-in-law Eileen is there hiding in the trees, and Jihan and her sweet team are watching from afar too! The next few minutes were filled with crying, hugging and thanking everyone for helping pull off what was probably the first REAL surprise of my life, and obviously one of the best and most memorable days! It was amazing, and it really was my dream come true. Nevermind the fact that I was now ENGAGED to the love of my life!

Balloon Proposal

Balloon Proposal

Balloon Proposal

Guys. I didn’t waste any time getting started on the wedding planning, let me tell you! Jeff always told me he was afraid to propose because of the wrath of wedding-planning-Kelly that would unleash. I’ve been reading wedding magazines since before I met him, and used to work in the industry back in DC, so he was kind of right! Within 24 hours, I had emails out to my wedding dream team… and guess what? They are ALL. IN. Here’s a bit of the scoop on what we’ve done so far, how we feel about the wedding planning process, and a few questions for you guys! Help!

Balloon Proposal

The Basics

We knew we wanted a Palm Springs wedding. We both love the area and vibe in PS, and thought it would be a better destination than LA for our guests, who will largely be traveling from the East Coast and Mid-West. I have always dreamed of a summer wedding, but summer in Palm Springs would probably lead to me passed out in my dress in 115 degree heat, so fall it is! We’ll be having a fall wedding in Palm Springs, with about 150+ guests. And probably the biggest point of all that I should bring up, and shock some of you with…. Our wedding will not be a “DIY Wedding.” Will I DIY a few things? Of COURSE I will! But after working in this industry, I know the value of hiring professionals, and that is just what I plan to do. Since I DIY my brains out all the time, I want our wedding day, and wedding week, to be as relaxed, fun and stress-free as it can be, which means I’ll be putting down my glue gun and letting the pros handle everything!

(I should note here that I think DIY weddings can be so awesome for the right couples, and they can be great money savers if done well! It just isn’t right for us!)

Balloon Proposal

What We’ve Done

– First things first, we hired a wedding planner! I have always admired the work of Bash, Please and how their weddings incorporate unique, awesome elements but always seem timeless too. We do not want a trendy wedding. We are so excited to be working with Melissa and her team, and are so grateful already for their expertise.

– We hired a photographer, too! We’ve known for years and years that we wanted film photography for our wedding. The light and the feel of film photos really blows my mind, and is exactly what we’re looking for in our photos. Ever since working in the industry in DC, I’ve had my eye on Katie Stoops. I’ve told her and told her, expect a call when I get engaged and I wasn’t kidding. She was my second email, and she was IN! Yes!!!

– We hired a floral designer! Decor-wise, flowers are my number one priority. I want flowers everywhere, and I want them to be the main element of decor. Lucky for me, I used to work for the most amazing, sweet floral designer Holly of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers and she has, I kid you not, asked me every time I’ve spoken with her since when we were getting engaged and when could she finally do my wedding flowers!? She was in Russia at the time teaching a floral design class, but that didn’t stop me from getting in touch to share the good news! She is in too, and I could not be happier!!!!!

– We got Jihan on board! After being such a big part of our proposal, we knew Geronimo needed to make a big ol’ appearance at the wedding. I am ridiculously excited to see what we can create together!

– We picked a date, and then we picked a date again. When you go in to your wedding with several vendors you just have to have finding a date that works for everyone is infinitely harder. We settled on one, had a venue contract in hand, and then found out the weekend we picked was Gay Pride weekend in Palm Springs. Unfortunately, this meant hotels were filling up and reluctant to giving us room blocks, and with 150 people needing a room, that wasn’t going to fly! So we went back to the drawing board and finally picked another date.

– And then! We booked a venue. We knew a few things when looking for a venue: We wanted the entire wedding outdoors. We really didn’t want a hotel, as we are interested in alternative catering options than what hotels typically offer. We wanted a venue that had distinct ceremony, cocktail and reception spaces. Guess what? WE FOUND IT! We’ll be getting married at a private estate called La Chureya. It is absolutely beautiful and the second we walked on the property we knew it was the one.

Balloon Proposal

What We Need to Do

– Hotels! We are locking in hotel buyouts and room blocks to ensure we find affordable (but awesome!) hotels for our guests to stay in, easier said than done in Palm Springs.

– We need to start looking at catering options. We want something non-traditional, and something that speaks to California. We’re thinking fresh, light, maybe even Mexican food!? I can’t wait to really start pinning this down. But Jeff will be taking the lead on this one. Food is his game.

– We need to find a DJ. We want our wedding to be a giant dance party. Enough said.

– We need to get our Save the Dates underway, since everyone is coming from so far. This is probably the decision that intimidates me the most. I looooveee paper. I love letterpress, I love gold, I love watercolor, I love a lot. Stationery says so much about what to expect at the wedding, so this decision will be a tough one for me!

– We need to get a design plan going! Believe it or not, I don’t have a clear vision for the wedding design. I know the style of flowers I love, and I know there will be gold involved, but this is one of the reasons we hired Bash. I need someone to help hone my design ideas into something cohesive, and that’s their specialty!

Balloon Proposal

How We’re Feeling About It

I won’t lie. We’ve threatened to elope approximately 173 times already. Nobody really tells you until you’re engaged how utterly miserable it is getting the guest list figured out. The politics, I tell ya! Sheesh! I think most of it is past us now though, thank goodness. The date change was also very stressful, but we’re signed on the dotted line for one now. Phew! We’re pretty excited about our list of to-dos, Jeff with the food, and me with the design elements. He always told me I could handle everything but the food, but it turns out he really wants to be involved in it all! Which I love (and kind of knew would happen). Luckily, we’ve been on the same page with every decision so far, and that’s really been great!

Balloon Proposal

Help! (Or, Questions for You Hitched Folks!)

Honeymoon Destinations! I would love your insight and suggestions on honeymoon spots. Here’s what were looking for: A beautiful resort with an amazing pool that we (ok, I. This one is really just me) can sit next to and not move, Water sports (Yeah, that would be just Jeff. “I really just want a jet ski,” says Jeff), A Spa (Again, Jeff.), A town we can walk to and experience not as a tourist. Ok, we’re both on board with that last one. We are not set on going on our honeymoon right after our wedding, though it would be great if we could. We’ve tossed around The Greek Isles and Portugal, but want to ensure that we are able to really relax and not feel like we have to tour and see everything. We’ve also thought about more exotic destinations, though with my medical history, we don’t want to go to some place super, super remote. The more unique the destination though, the better! So, do you guys have any suggestions!?

Balloon Proposal

Phew! I’m going to set a record this week for these lengthy posts! But I had to get you guys all caught up! I’m excited to share my planning experience with you all, and a few wedding DIYs along the way, too!

Balloon Proposal

All Photos by Mary Costa Photography

In the meantime, you can follow along with wedding updates via our #meetthemindells hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And, you can check out my ever-growing wedding Pinterest board.

A Review of 2013 + What to Expect in 2014!

I know, we’re already almost a week in to 2014 and I’m going way back to 2013 and talking about it, again! Sheesh! But, bear with me as I had to give it one last little nod. I’ve officially deemed 2013 “The Year That Threw Me For a Loop!” In the best of ways, and the worst of ways, mind you. 2013 will always be remembered, in my mind, as a turning point for Studio DIY (huge, huge! overwhelming growth) and as the year we got engaged! Unfortunately, 2013 also brought about some medical challenges for both my family, and that “overwhelming” growth? Yeah, that meant many sleepless nights and our apartment looking like a party war zone 24-7. I’ll touch a bit on everything in this post, while sharing the tippy top posts of 2013 (You guys love balloons!), some hilarious (or terrifying?) behind the scenes shots, and a little bit about what I’ve got cookin’ for 2014, too!

Most Popular Posts of 2013!
(Says Pinterest + Google Analytics, unscientifically combined to make this list! And there are six because I love all six and didn’t want to pick just five.)

Studio DIY Top Projects of 2013

Ornament Balloon Photo by Mary Costa Photography, All Other Photos by Studio DIY

1. Giant Crepe Paper Roses: I was asked to make these for a Martha Stewart and Jurlique collaboration and decided, on a whim, to share my results here. And BAM! You guys lost your minds, pinned the heck out of them, and they became my most popular post of the year.

2. Confetti Dipped Balloons: I posted this project after my site had been down for a few days thanks to a server crash. I scheduled the post, then went into a day of meetings on a business trip to SLC. By the time I had a chance to check in that evening, they had already been pinned 16,000 times and you guys were going confetti balloon CRAZY! Now they’ve been pinned over 63,000 times, coming in just short of the roses.

3. Balloon Surprise Box: I’ll always remember this post as the first post of mine featured on Buzzfeed. It exploded my traffic and I got so excited! I also think it is the best idea EVER (Sorry, does that sound self centered? I just really want to receive a box of balloons some day.), so I have a few ideas up my sleeve this year for re-inventing it.

4. Conversation Heart Cakes: I think conversation heart crafts are my most fave (Can’t wait to get some of ’em going for Valentine’s Day!), and apparently you like your conversation hearts in cake form. I knew I liked you guys.

5. DIY Giant Ornament Balloons: Goodness! Despite being posted less than a month ago, this clocked in as my 5th most trafficked project of the year! Cracks me up considering how spontaneous this whole project was, sneaking it in after our big Martha party. But man, I do love these so.

6. Donut Balloons: 2013 was also the year of the donut. I think I’ve determined that you guys are the most vocal about the donut projects. The numbers may say that you like confetti balloons and roses, but the tweets, comments and re-grams say WE LOVE DONUTS. Don’t worry, donuts aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So we can all continue this love affair together. I won’t play favorites, but I’m totally playing favorites, and saying that this was probably my most favorite project of the year. (Don’t tell the other ones!)

Perhaps I should just become a balloon blog, eh? Ha! I wouldn’t complain about that.


When you take 8 zillion photos of yourself and balloons outdoors, amongst the general public and all the elements, there’s bound to be a few winning outtakes. I actually get a lot of questions like “Do you really stand outside wearing a giant cake costume?” Yep. “Do people give you weird looks?” Yep. Though, I live in LA, where people photographing, modeling and doing other, shall we say, “bizarre” things on the street is quite normal. Here’s a few of the real star outtakes. Now I’ll just hope these don’t start circulating Pinterest, especially the one right below… where I look like a flower-crown-holding mobster.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes9

I feel like I should be in an alley way, facing off with some other crown-yielding mobster with this face.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes8

Cropped that car right outta this one! This is a wall we often shoot in front of, and Jeff stands in the middle of the street to get the shot, dependent on me to warn him of oncoming traffic. It’s a hazardous job, folks. Luckily it’s a pretty high priority of mine to keep him alive.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes7

That time a donut balloon made a run for it.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes5

There was no stopping it. While I DO NOT support letting balloons loose for environmental reasons, I couldn’t help but laugh about what the people who saw this floating around LA thought. It’s not every day that you see a donut soaring through the sky.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes4

As recently evidenced on Instagram… I like to dance. And I do so between shots. Or, during shots, in this case. Pineapples were another big theme this year and I had SO MUCH FUN creating a bunch of pineapple DIYs. They may stick around for 2014 too.

Behind the Scenes

Everything on this blog always looks pretty put together. I try really hard to style and take the perfect shot. But what you don’t see is the pure INSANITY behind the camera. I wanted to keep it real here today, so I’m showing it all! Now run, screaming, away from the computer because the pure MESS that is behind the camera is hurting your eyes! Don’t worry, it hurts mine too. And this isn’t even the worst of it. But that’s what we call life folks, and it explains one of the 2014 plans I’ll discuss below.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes1

How many Studio DIY projects can you spy in this picture? I spy five.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes

I was recruited to help with a photo background for an international store opening. When you must make a 5′ x 8′ background, there’s only one place for it to go… on your curtain rod.

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes2

Sometimes I get so crazed that I don’t clean up one project before starting another. (Ok, all the time.) This was the end of my honeycomb backdrop, and my test run for my giant balloon 2014. (p.s. Do you like how the donut and heart piñatas have photo bombed three photos already?)

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes6

Another example of not cleaning up before starting a new project. Leftover confetti wands from this shoot, peonies from this one and a whole lot of sprinkles thrown in there too!

Studio DIY Behind the Scenes3

Sometimes you hand off the cake for your shoot to the photo studio rep and he slams it in a too-small fridge. Then Leah comes to your rescue and fixes it right up. Bet ya couldn’t tell it was once smooshed, eh?

And Just a Few More Things

Studio DIY 2013 Review

I’ve already gushed and gushed about how thankful I am for how much love you have all shown Studio DIY in 2013, so I won’t bore you with my sappy “I LOVE YOU GUYS!” talk any longer. But there is one thing I wanted to address, a not-as-fun theme that seemed to stick around for 2013. As Studio DIY started getting featured on bigger sites, and pinned by the biggest of pinners, the nasty comments came out. It happens to everyone, and that’s why they tell you not to read the comments. But I’m glad I did, because I saw a bunch of readers stick up for me and well, shoot. You guys rock. So I figured I should share a little something with you so you know just how much you’re sticking up for!

What are these comments you ask? Well, they’re about my weight. If you haven’t noticed, yes, I am very skinny. I know it, and apparently the world knows it too! I’ve been accused of not eating, having an eating disorder, and even photoshopping my body because “nobody’s legs really look like that.” Welp, none of the above are true dudes! And here’s why. (And I’m sharing this because I want to, because I want to be open and honest with you guys, not because I feel I need to prove anything to these anonymous Internet trolls!) Ready? When I was 13, I was diagnosed with a rare form (for children) of stomach cancer. It eventually led to a total gastrectomy. For those of you that don’t speak doctor, that means I don’t have a stomach. At all. Think of it like extreme gastric bypass surgery, but not for weight reasons. I am happy to report that I am 11 years and counting cancer free now, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lingering effects from my major surgery. Essentially, it’s near impossible for me to gain a significant amount of weight. I can only eat a very small amount at a time, and my body doesn’t absorb nutrients like a normal body does. I have very weird sensitivities to bizarre foods (So, if you’re ever with me at a conference or somewhere where I don’t get to screen the food and you wonder why I’m not eating. It’s probably because I can’t eat one of the ingredients on the plate, not because I don’t eat at all!) So, other than if I’m lucky enough to ever be pregnant, I’ll probably always be around this weight. If you’ve wondered how my Instagram is filled with donuts and macarons and how I remain so skinny, I guess you can say that’s just the one “perk” of this whole ordeal. Though I also suffer from frequent episodes of nausea and pain too, so.. you win some you lose some! Honestly, I feel extra extra lucky that you guys have supported Studio DIY and allowed me to be self-employed because it means if I’m having a bad day, I can grab my laptop and work from the couch. Having a limited number of “sick days” at a 9-5 job just wouldn’t work for me and I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with that.

And for those of you that have been following my recent medical battles, they are indirectly related to lasting effects from my big surgery. In October, I was hospitalized for severe anemia. That’s because my body can’t absorb iron! Luckily, we’ve got that under control now with IV iron treatments that I’ll get every few months for the rest of my life. (Hey, it could be worse!) They discovered the anemia when I went to the ER with severe chest pains after a rough plane flight. Turns out I also had a minor pneumothorax (aka a collapsed lung), something tall and very skinny people are prone to. After a relapse of that in November, they decided to do surgery in hopes of preventing future problems and that is why I was in the hospital again over Christmas. I’m out of the hospital now and healing slowly, but it didn’t stop me from dancing this weekend!

Phew! Are you still here? I promise the parties and confetti will return real soon. But I thought, after all of your well wishes while I was in the hospital, and after you fought back against the trolls of the Internet accusing me of things that just weren’t true, that you all deserved a little background! Quite frankly, I also have my whole cancer story to thank for this career of mine. It was when I was out of school for nearly a year, stuck at home and BORED, that I picked up a sketch book and started getting in to design, realizing my longtime passion for crafting and creating could actually make me money some day. Everything happens for a reason right?

And on to 2014!

Studio DIY 2014 Plans

Photo by Mary Costa Photography

Now that THAT is out of the way, let’s talk about 2014, shall we!? If one thing is for sure, I never really know what a year will bring. But I can tell you a few things I’m thinking about and working on!

1. Our Wedding!! Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a wedding blog. But! I am going to share a bit about our wedding plans here, maybe once a month or so. Look out for the first installment soon!

2. New Series! Remember that time, way back when, that I got your opinions on some new series ideas? And then I didn’t do anything with them. Yeah, me too. Well, 2014 is the year! I’m hoping to get a DIY date night series going, a cake decorating series going and a few other things too. WOOHOO!

3. A Real Life Studio! As evidenced above, Studio DIY needs a space of it’s own. A tiny one bedroom apartment can only take so many giant piñatas! So in 2014 I’m taking the steps to get the space I need, whether it’s a separate studio, or a separate workspace in a new home.

4. Sponsors! I was lucky to work with so many AMAZING sponsors in 2013, and I plan to continue working with sponsors who fit the Studio DIY brand. I really, truly enjoy working with these brands because they help me bring content that I love to life! It goes without saying that every brand I work with is one I love, and every sponsored post I do is something I would post whether I was paid for it or not! I already told you about my exciting partnership with Balloon Time (Did you know that all came to be because of a Twitter conversation!? Social media RULES!), I have two pretty ridiculously amazing (secret-for-now) projects in the works, and I have my sights set on some other great partners too!

5. Conferences + The Like! It’s about time I officially say it, but I will no longer be attending Alt Summit this year. SAD!!!! Because of my lung surgery, I’m not allowed to fly or go to high altitudes for a bit, and that kind of knocks SLC right out, doesn’t it!? But! I will be speaking (My first speaking gig!) at Craftcation in April which I’m really excited about!

And that officially ends my longest post of all time. From here on out we’ll go back to our typical photo:word ratio! Ha! Thanks for sticking with me, for supporting Studio DIY, and for (hopefully) being PSYCHED about 2014! If you have any questions for me about anything I discussed here, ask away in the comments below! I’m an open book: medical, behind the scenes, 2014 plans. Ask away!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all you awesome folks a very Merry (cookie filled!) Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas Card c/o Minted

See you in 2014!

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