Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nashville: What I wore and what I did

Cocktail Dress: ABS | Bag: Tory Burch | Heels: Valentino "Rockstud"

Okidoke! Here is part 2 of my Nashville posts - you can read all about what I packed and why in Monday's post here. It was such a long but rewarding and fun but exhausting week! My head is still spinning, but I wanted to recap everything we did while it is fresh in my head. This post outlines the exact outfits I wore and with what we filled our days! I was so absent on social media and blogging while I was gone that it is nice to be able to summarize everything for you now! Before I get started, if you want to catch yourself up with what i do for a living - you can read all about it in this post here.

This conference was our big family reunion. It's mainly focused on our operators (the restaurant managers to be exact), but a select few from the corporate office get to go as well. When I first started here, they used to have these reunions once every 18 months. Then it was every other year. As the company has grown, I'm thinking it's been harder to budget for these things since the attendees exponentially multiply as we open new restaurants. It's been five years since we've had our last one. FIVE! That means this was the first reunion I've been to since I started blogging! Crazy town! Because the amount of attendees has grown, they really cut back on who was allowed to go, which bums me out. Since I was on the team helping to create our design booth, I was granted approval to go, but I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. The husband's department was definitely going, so at least we got to travel together, but half of our other department didn't get to go even though they've been able to go in the past. Oh well, I shall not focus on the negatives! Let's get started!

Cardigan: Grace and Lace | Tunic tank: Grace and Lace | Leggings: Spanx | Sneakers: Converse

Day 1, Saturday: This was mainly a travel day. There were 5 of us traveling in two vehicles stuffed with random boxes for our booth. We left a little after 7am, which brought us at the Gaylord Opryland Resort around noon. We went straight to the loading dock when we got there to unload all of our stuff and start helping with the booth. There were laborers affiliated with the convention center group on site already lifting the support trusses and starting on the perimeter walls. I guess I should explain what our booth was! It was a life-sized mock up of our latest restaurant design. It was the customer-facing areas only, but we're still talking about 3500 square feet of space here! It was massive! We had modular walls to mock the exterior of a building, building signs, awnings, patio seats, in addition to the normal dining room stuff on the interior. We were told right before Christmas that we needed to design this booth. So that means we had exactly 8 weeks to design this thing, coordinate with the event staff, and make sure our vendors had time to fabricate the millwork, furniture, lights, etc. To put things in perspective, I wanted to make sure my tailor had 4 weeks to alter my formal dress! And much of this millwork was built in one-week's time after all was said and done. AMAZING.

But back to this outfit and day one. Since the structure wasn't up yet, there wasn't much we could do but supervise and give direction when needed. We had a late lunch, then stayed on site with the laborers until they were done working for the day at 6pm. We ended up going straight to cocktails from there at Jack Daniel's with dinner at Fuse after. I was introduced to Woodford Reserve and that ended up being my drink of choice for the week! Just on the rocks! It tasted great and didn't hurt in the morning, basically a win/win.

Tee: Locally made custom | Chambray: Caslon | Jeans: American EagleSneakers: Converse

Day 2, Sunday: I was hoping to do more work on the second day, but it was pretty similar to day 1. It took longer to get the perimeter walls up than any of us expected or wanted. We were pretty behind schedule at this point because we wanted the bulk of everything done by 6pm on Sunday so that all we were doing was styling and accessorizing on Monday. That definitely was not the case. The other thing that sucked was that I was in dire need of a mani-pedi, but didn't want to bother with it before I left for Nashville since I knew I'd be using my hands and likely messing my nails up anyway with booth work. I wanted to schedule a mani-pedi on Monday night, when the booth would be finished, but the salon was closed on Monday due to maintenance. Yes, first world problems. That meant I had to get my nails done in the thick of everything Sunday afternoon. My boss, who I had paid for to come with me, ended up having to cancel because too much was going on for her to leave. I totally understood, but just a bummer because she did need the relaxation!

Camo tee: American EagleJeans: American Eagle | Boots: Naya "Fisher" boot (exact style in other colors here)

We had team shirts made, which is what I wore to work in the day. For dinner, we were just going back to Jack Daniel's, but I did decide to freshen up a bit and put on real shoes. Dinner was pretty good actually. Honestly, I was pretty happy with the majority of the food that I ate while we were there. Sunday night ended up being a really late night. I think I was in bed at 1am. No bueno! I felt fine in the morning, but we still had a long week ahead of us and the conference hadn't even started yet!!!

Cardigan: Modcloth | Tank: Fabletics "Eiffel" tank | Leggings: Gap | Sneakers: Converse

Day 3, Monday: The booth still had SO much work to do, and I felt like I was running out of "manual work" clothes to wear. I ended up wearing one of my workout outfits (even though there was no time to work out) and throwing a cardigan over it. When I got to the booth that morning, my coworker asked me if I just came from a workout. Nope! I wish! I just didn't want to waste my "nice" clothes until the conference was actually starting! The booth really started to come together on Monday, which was certainly good, but we were definitely behind schedule. There was still some electrical work that needed to be completed, which was not the best! We had hoped to be able to leave the resort and go downtown that night, but everyone was a bit exhausted and we were in the booth until after 8pm. We decided to just stay at the resort and eat at Old Hickory Steakhouse. By this dinner, I had eaten two double cheeseburgers two lunches in a row, plus steak, and bar food. I just needed soup and salad to give my belly a break! Plus we had a ton of appetizers, so I definitely wasn't shorting myself any food by any means. I didn't bother changing for dinner since it was so late and everyone was equally grungy by this point anyway!

Blazer: Express (optionoption) | Tee: Grace and Lace | Bottoms: American EagleBoots: Naya "Fisher" boot (exact style in other colors here)

Day 4, Tuesday: Tuesday was the big day. The booth opened at 3:30pm, but there was still lots to do. We had the lighting to finish before the furniture could go in. Plus, we had to make a stop at a local restaurant to pick up some styling supplies in addition to a Lowe's and Walmart trip. We divided and conquered though. The husband and I took the truck to run all our errands, which unfortunately took about 3 hours! We made it back to the booth at 11am, and everything was basically done except for styling! So, at 11am Tuesday was where we had expected to be by 6pm on Sunday. Ha! Oh well. It all came together though! If you're lucky, you got to see more of the finished product on Snapchat! 

Blazer: Express (optionoption) | Tee: Grace and Lace | Bottoms: American Eagle | Boots: Naya "Fisher" boot (exact style in other colors here)

I wasn't sure how much time I would have, if any, before the booth opened to change into real clothes, so I went ahead and wore my "real clothes" all day long and just saved my hair and makeup for the evening. What's funny though is that I legit wore this outfit all day, but just changing my hair and make up apparently made a big impact because I kept getting compliments on the outfit as if people were seeing me in it for the first time! I had hoped to wear actual heels with this instead, but my feet were so exhausted by day 4 that the boots felt better and I just had to deal with the rougher aesthetic.

Here's a little snippet of the finished product. Things like that small plant on the table and those newspapers/magazines are what we were running around buying that morning. Everyone loved the restaurant design - we had a lot of great comments. It was funny watching people, seeing what they were interested in, what they were fixated on and taking pictures of. They were going through the space like it was an amusement park ride! So much fun to watch! They have no idea what it took to get it to look like this!!!

Peplum top: Banana Republic | Vest: Two by Vince Camuto  (option) | Bottoms: American Eagle | Booties: Sam Edelman "Blake"

Day 5, Wednesday: The conference started for everyone else on Tuesday morning, but we didn't get to attend any of those events since we were still working behind the scenes. Finally, Wednesday, we would be able to hear some of the senior leaders speak. The booth was only open from 11-1 on Wednesday and THEN WE HAD TO TAKE EVERYTHING DOWN! So yeah, all that work just for people to see it for 7 hours. We tried not to think about that!! The good thing is, it's not all for nothing. The millwork and furniture are going to an actual restaurant, so it's not all a waste. And I can't complain about the amount of time, even though it was A LOT of work. It was great to see it all come together, we all learned so much, and the behind the scenes work was interesting of which to be a part.

Cocktails once again after our hard work was done for the day. This was at The Falls Bar and Lounge inside the resort. The husband and I are in the center of this photo and everyone else is either part of our millwork or furniture vendor team. They're the ones that made the magic happen. They were with us since Saturday as well, and they just amaze me - the things they do for us professionally and personally. Very thankful.

The group event was at the Grand Ole Opry! We had a private concert! Two reunions ago, it was also in Nashville and our private concert back then was Lady Antebellum, Josh Turner, and Darius Rucker. Yep, amazing. That set the bar pretty high for this year! There were only two people in the company that knew who was performing. They wouldn't even email the CEO with the info - they wrote it on a post-it note and slid it across the desk just like they do in the movies! Ha! The final line up was Smithfield, followed by Crystal Gayle, The SteelDrivers, Chris Janson, and then RASCAL FLATTS!! I say Rascal Flatts with such enthusiasm, but they were all pretty great! Chris Janson, OMG, he rocked my world! So engaging! He had the audience so hyped! Even my co-worker who doesn't like country is now a Chris Janson fan. So so good!

Chambray: Caslon | Tunic tank: Grace and Lace | Jeans: American Eagle | Sneakers: Converse

Day 6, Thursday: Yes, we were definitely losing steam by then! By this time, the booth was pretty much non-existent. The laborers were still working to get the last of the perimeter walls down. The only remaining work we had to do was pack up the truck. We did that in the morning before heading back to the general session to hear our Chief Development Officer speak and then finally the CEO. We then had two hours to get ready before the big awards dinner.

Cocktail Dress: ABS Bag: Tory Burch | Heels: Valentino "Rockstud"

We never ever ever get to dress up fancy for anything, so I was super excited to get dolled up! Especially after such a long week of not being dolled up! I did have to get the dress altered. It ran small, so I sized up. It fit perfect at the waist, but was huge in the bust and about 6 inches too long. My tailor took in the bust and then gave it a good hem. The skirt is supposed to have this irregular hem, but she told me she couldn't do it like that. I had hoped she could take it up from the waist as some of my bridesmaids dresses have been altered in the past, but she said no to that. She ended up giving me a straight hem, which I felt took too much away from the aesthetic. SO! I took matters into my own hands and cut the irregular hem myself after I got the dress back. You would never ever know I did it unless you were THISCLOSE to my legs. I love the dress so much!

And this is my team! My boss is in the middle next to me and two years ago, she was a department of one! But as her responsibilities grew, she now has three of us that support her, and she is the best, most nicest person you would ever meet! She ended up winning an award last night, which was so well deserved! It's such a privilege to receive this award one time in your career, and this was her SECOND time getting it. It's a big deal, just trust me on this. We could not be happier for her nor prouder to be a part of the team! There has been a big love fest group text chat between all 4 of us. Maybe it's all the alcohol we drank and time we spent together, but we are one happy and lucky group! And we did it!! The booth was a success and now we shall all nap!!!

Side notes: 1) that was the face I made when the server was telling us that Taylor Swift spent her 21st birthday in the very room in which we were eating and 2) my boss bitmojis! How cool is that, though?!



  1. Whoa, what an epic trip!! I am exhausted for you, and amazed that you had the energy to do these two detailed (and no doubt very time consuming!) posts upon your return. So fun to see all of the outfits (and hairstyles!) you wore. That dress turned out great! So glad you were able to make it work.
    Gina || On the Daily Express

    1. Ha yes, it took time but I knew if I didn't do it asap, all the details would escape me! I'm also glad I hunkered down and knocked out these two posts on Friday because Saturday and Sunday were way too busy to worry about blogging. Sigh.
      Thanks for the kind notes as usual!!

  2. What an amazing trip and boy you did so much. Your company sounds so fun to work for, mine never do anything like this. Also you looked fabulous everyday, so many cute outfits.


  3. Aww my old stomping grounds! It made me miss living there hope you had a great time. Wish I would have still been there to hang out with you :)