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You are engaged, now what?

It’s been a couple of days, maybe even weeks since he popped the question. You’re excited but a bit overwhelmed, and now thinking, what’s next? Don’t worry, you are not alone! You may or may not have a bunch of bridal magazines already, some people probably suggested for you to attend bridal expos, and maybe make a picture board.  Then you also have the questions, “when’s your engagement party” ,  “when’s the Big Day”. Here is my first advice, breathe! Then, read my guide below:

  1. The first question to answer is the question that everyone keeps asking, “When is your wedding day?” Both, and I mean BOTH, of you should set the date you two are comfortable with. Don’t be a bridezilla and make all of the decisions on your own. Pick a date that is special to the both of you, or pick a certain date in the time of year you would like to get married in and let that be your wedding date. I highly suggest having 2 dates that you would be happy with in case your first choice is unavailable.
  2. Now that you have a date in mind, set your budget. This is not as exciting as setting your wedding day, but it is mandatory. The two of you must agree on the number and who will be paying for the wedding.  Will it be self-funded, contributed to by family, or totally paid for by someone else? These are all very important questions to go over with your fiancé. One thing for sure is to have some “wiggle” room that you will be comfortable with, because you will quickly realize that your budget in the beginning will most likely not be the budget that you actually end up spending. If you are set on spending no more than 40,000 on your wedding day, then your budget should be 35,000. Trust me on this, and you’ll thank me later when you are not pulling the hair out of your head trying to cut down costs.
  3. You have your wedding day and your budget is set, good job! Now make sure your ring is insured and re-sized if necessary. You don’t want to lose your beautiful engagement ring or lose it down the drain! I recently discovered that it is a lot cheaper to protect your ring through your renters/home owners insurance policy.
  4. To have or not to have an engagement party…Engagement parties are becoming extremely popular. The question is, do you need to have an engagement party? The answer is No. Do you want to have an engagement party? Now dear, that is really up to you. There are pros and cons to both having and not having an engagement party, and I suggest you weigh both options before making that decision.
  5.  Hire a wedding planner. They will help guide you through your engagement process. This will make your planning much easier and will keep the stress off of your shoulders.
  6. You might already know exactly how you want your wedding day to be, but have you asked your fiancé for his opinion? What is important to the both of you? How do the two of you imagine your wedding day? Give him a piece of paper and ask him to write down his wedding day vision. It can be a collaboration of random words you might not understand yet, but it’s a great start. Does he want to have a beach wedding, while you have always dreamed of a countryside wedding? Now is the time to find out!
  7. Hopefully your wedding visions are somewhat similar, if they are not, find out how you can incorporate both of your visions into one. Once you do that, Pinterest, Instagram, and wedding magazines are your best friends. Look for inspirations and SAVE THEM! You might see something that you really like and assume that you will remember it, but in reality with so many options out there, you probably will not. Save your ideas, create a picture board of things you absolutely love, or things that make you happy. You will thank me later when you go to visit your vendors and they ask you about your favorite colors, inspirations and etc. Purple might be your favorite color, but you might absolutely hate it for your wedding day, just keep that in mind.
  8. You have your ideal wedding day in mind, you know your wedding budget, your ring is insured and fits perfectly, you might or might not be planning your engagement party, you have your wedding planner in hand and figured out you and your fiancé’s wedding vision. Last but not the least, it’s time to select your bridal party. You can either ask directly or have fun with it, make something cute for your girls and help him come up with ideas for his groomsmen. These are the people that will see you at your worst, your best, and still love you, so treat them nicely. Once you select your wedding party and they agree to stand by your side through thick and thin of your wedding planning process, get them together. They might or might not know each other and this can not be a better time to introduce them over brunch, drinks, a night out or night in, spa day, or whatever else you like to do. It doesn’t really matter, as long as all of you can make it! One thing for sure, be prepared for their questions, as they will want to know what, when and how. This is when you can take out your “picture board” and introduce them to your wedding vision!

Wedding Registry Must Haves

With so many items to choose from, how do you stop yourself from selecting everything that you like in the store? Go to the store with a plan, that’s how! Look at everything that you already have and see what needs to be replaced, then add everything that you don’t have but desperately need in your “love nest”. Its super tempting to add expensive china to your registry list, but are you really going to use it and hand wash it after each use? That’s something to think about. Here is my guide for must have items that you should have on your registry.

Appetizer Plates. At some point you will have your friends and family come over and you will prep delicious appetizers for everyone to enjoy, but what are you going to put them in? Yes, paper plates can get the job done, but it’s always better to have the real thing.

Slow Cooker. This is a crowd pleaser and will save you a ton of time in the kitchen for those days when you don’t feel like cooking at all.

Hand Mixer. You are probably going to hate me for this, but if you are not a baker, you don’t need a stand mixer! Stand mixers take up a ton of space, although they do look super cute on the countertops! How often do you need a mixer? If your answer is anywhere from 1-3 times a week, then go ahead and add a Stand Mixer to your wedding registry, but if you only need a mixer once a month then you can’t beat a hand mixer. It takes up less space, it’s easy to store, and it gets the job done just as good.

 

Pans and Pots. You can never have too many, and if you like to cook a good set is a must! Do your research beforehand. With so many options to choose from, you want to pick the right set for you.

Dinnerware set. You will be a starting a new family together with you fiancé, and if you have 10 different types of cups and plates from everywhere you traveled it might be cute but not everyone knows the story behind them. Get one set that you can use on formal dinner nights or at least when your family comes over. It just looks so much better and more put together.

Towels. You can never have too many towels, and when you have people over you don’t want to be embarrassed from your old, scratchy towels that are way past their life expectancy.

Bed Sheets. Have at least 2 sets that you can interchange between washes and 1 extra set in case someone stays over. You have to be prepared, right?

Cookie Sheets. I don’t know what the deal with cookie sheets is but no matter how many you have there are always not enough! Get yourself new cookie sheets and while you are at it, add a cookie cooling rack. Not only are these great for cookies, but they are amazing for baking chicken wings as well!

 

Party Appetizers!

Everyone loves food and with so many options to choose from it’s almost overwhelming to put together a menu for a big or even a small event. Here are my go to recipes that never fail:

Cheese Platter. Who doesn’t like cheese, right? My favorite is mozzarella balls, parmigiano reggiano, warm brie with honey, and goat cheese. In order to make your cheese platter a party hit, pair your cheese with some prosciutto and salami slices, a small bowl of olives and cornichons at each end with crackers on the side. Decorate your platter with branches of rosemary, or fruit such as grapes and figs. You can’t go wrong here!

 

Dip. 3 words- Seven Layer Dip. You can serve it hot or cold and it’s super easy to make. If you are not a fan of seven layer dip, then any other dip would be great as well, onion or spinach dip with vegetables, it’s your call.

Shrimp Cocktail. Who doesn’t love shrimp, right? Boil your shrimp a night before and prep the sauce ahead, this way you just have to take it out of the fridge before everyone arrives.

Stuffed Mushrooms. The best part about this appetizer is the fact that you can prepare it ahead of time and just throw it in the oven before everyone arrives.

Crostini. My favorite crostini is with garlic and parmigiano reggiano cheese. Not only is it a party hit, it’s super easy. Slice Italian baguette, melt butter and squeeze garlic, combine the two and spread on your cut slices of bread and toast until they are lightly browned. Meanwhile, shred the cheese and top your slices at the end with the generous amount of cheese. Then add the cheese, let it melt and it’s ready! These are great hot or cold.

Meatballs. Prep ahead, reheat in the oven before everyone arrives and add toothpicks so it’s easy for everyone to grab without a fork. I prefer reheating everything in the oven because I feel like whenever something it reheated in the microwave because it is healthier and doesn’t get rubbery.

Wedding Workout and Diet

Wedding Workout

All of us want to look great, and if you have something special like your wedding day to prepare for, not only do you want to look great you want to feel great as well. Unfortunately most of us have to work and finding time for a workout everyday will seem like a chore. My husband is amazing on how consistent he is when it comes to the gym, when it comes to me, not so much. He likes to workout in the evening, for me that hardly ever works because after cooking dinner I am done! So what I started doing is working out at work, I am super lucky to have gym at work but even that was a struggle at first until I went on YouTube and found 10 minute workouts. I figured that 10 minutes was better than nothing, right? So I started going to the gym at work for 30 min, I would focus on cardio for 10 minutes, weights for 10 minutes and 10 minute video that focused on different types of my body. Before I knew it, the results started to show! Everytime I felt lazy I told myself that its only 10 minutes and I do not have an excuses not to work out. Some days I didn’t feel like doing a cardio so I started viewing two YouTube videos. The best thing about YouTube is the fact that there are so many workout tutorials that I can workout out everyday and never repeat the same workout ever again. Here are some of my favorite workouts that I still do after my wedding, and I always search for more workouts to keep it fresh, because believe me, I get bored easily!

Great workouts for free on YouTube:
Fitness Blender is one of my favorite go to for 10 minute workouts, but this is my favorite workout to get toned all over: https://youtu.be/69Mg5mKxlOg
If you are feeling complete lazy, this 3 minute workouts from Bow Flex can not be beat! Link: https://youtu.be/4gdL-I6rhFg
Ultimate challenge workouts from Blogilates will kick your butt. I actually have a love/hate relationship with Cassey’s videos, I love her workouts but I hate pushing myself through them because it might look easy but all of those workout will leave you sore the next day, and before you know it you will keep coming back for more!  Link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIJwWYOfsCfz6PjxbONYXSg

Wedding Diet

There are so many diet’s out there, the best one is the one that works for you. I knew that no matter what I did, nothing would work unless I didn’t eat past 7PM. It’s still true now, if I eat a crumb after 7PM I automatically gain weight, I really don’t know what it is but it’s a complete bummer because everything tastes better after 7PM! Another big thing is sugary drinks, I had to completely switch to water, no soda or juices what so ever, the good thing is that I actually got used to this habit and now I don’t even crave sugary drinks, although I do cheat sometimes by having a couple of sips from my husband’s glass of Sprite. Clean up your diet, but don’t cut out everything all at once making it almost impossible to succeed, do what feels right for you and baby steps is the way to go. Don’t forget though, you must work out and combine weights with cardio if you want the results of your healthy regimen to show faster.
Probiotics: no matter what you do, if you don’t have good bacteria in your stomach it will show. If you are healthy on the inside, you will look healthy on the outside. I buy non dairy probiotic products because unfortunately I break out from dairy, which leads us to your skin regiment.


Skin Care: you know better than anyone what works best for your skin, one thing that goes for everyone is exfoliation, moisturizer and SPF. I try to exfoliate every week and follow it with mud mask application. I strongly stand behind Sabon’s Mud Mask, I have tried a ton of products and this one is still my favorite. Keep in mind though, no matter how good your skin care is, if you don’t eat well and hydrate your body, no matter what you do to your skin your body will show the imperfections, so watch your diet and what causes breakouts and tired skin.

Link to Sabon Mud Mask: http://www.sabonnyc.com/skin-type/sensitive/mud-mask.html

How to Choose Your Wedding Colors

Once your initial engagement excitement is winding down, you will start thinking about planning your perfect wedding day. Other than selecting your wedding venue or any other vendors, the first step is usually to identify your wedding day colors.

Are you one of those girls who is into everything organic, natural and don’t see yourself having a big wedding? Or are you one of those girls who wants to have top of the line décor and the most ultimate wedding experience with over 300 guests? You might be even someone who is in between. Whichever girl you identify with the most, the questions still stands, how to choose your wedding colors?

In what season do you plan on getting married? Each season has its own colors that complements Mother Nature. Red in the summer looks a little “heavy”, while red in the fall brings out the yellows and the oranges of the leaves. You see where I am going with this?

Wedding Mood. Are your going for dramatic décor? If so, then you need deep colors like royal blues, purple, dark green, gold and etc. Are you going for something more whimsical and natural? Then a neutral color palette is your best friend.

Look around you. By now you are probably following every wedding blog, and wedding designer/planner on your social media. The real question is, what exactly do you like and don’t like? Go back to your likes on Instagram and see which pictures you liked subconsciously. What colors do you love? What attracted your eye and made you go “WOW”. Look around your house, what colors make you happy?

Pinterest. Start saving all of your wedding inspirations. See if you feel the same about the photos that you liked 2-3 months from now. Tastes change and you might love blush and gold now but may hate it 2 months from now. Your florist can always tweak around and find the perfect balance, so don’t settle for anything that you are not happy with.

Don’t stress yourself out. Wedding planning is overwhelming and you don’t have to do everything in one week. Take your time and let the vision come to you. You never know, you might find it in the most unexpected places!

How to Word Wedding Invitations

The first thing you need to decide is if you are going to have a traditional wedding invitation or not. Sample text for traditional invitations.

Mom and Dad Names (hers)

Request the honor of your presence

At the marriage of their daughter

Bride’s Name

And

Groom’s name

Day of the week, date

At time (spelled out, no numbers)

Address of the Ceremony (spelled out, no numbers)

Reception will follow (if at the same location)

 

Side note: You can either put down honor (American English way) or honour, which is the old English spelling, both way would be correct. Formal invitations are usually printed on a heavier weight paper as well.

Invitation Etiquette Tip: Usually when you put down “request the honor of your presence” it is reserved for religious ceremonies. If you are putting down “request the pleasure of your company” it is referred to civil ceremonies. If yours or his parents are divorced and remarried, you should list the spouse on your wedding invitation as well.

Informal Invitation: “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks. “ Less rules here, informal invitations can be as casual as the one below.

Mom and Dad Names

His mom and dad (if you would like, or if both parents are hosting)

Request the pleasure of your company

At the Wedding Celebration of their children

Bride’s Name

+

Groom’s name

Day of the week, date

Location

 

There are also a lot of great sources where you can find more invitation wording. I personally love Minted, Wedding Invitation Wording for inspirations. It gives you different case scenarios too, your parents hosting, his parents hosting, both parents hosting or you as a couple hosting, etc. The most important thing is to be you, don’t feel pressured to have one set of wording invitation or the other, you can mix and match to create your perfect wedding invitation.

 

 

Important Questions to ask your Wedding Venue

Choosing your wedding venue is one of the most important “vendor” decisions that you are going to make for your wedding day. This is a place where you will spend the most time with your guests and you obviously want to love where you will be celebrating your special day. Here are some important questions to ask your wedding venue before putting down the deposit to secure your wedding day.

What is the maximum capacity for your room? You don’t want to end up switching your room last minute because your guest list doubled and you thought that everyone was going to fit. Another important question to ask is what is the minimum capacity for your room? You don’t want your room to look empty on your wedding day either.

What is the cancellation policy? You might not be thinking about it right now, but you never know what can happen down the road…

If you are booking an outdoor space, what is your weather contingency plan? This is crucial because you don’t want to be coming up with a Plan B last minute.

Can you hold the ceremony at the venue? If yes, is there an additional charge? No one wants to be hit with additional fee for a ceremony, therefore know your additional costs before you sign the contract.

What is included in your contract? Will your venue provide linens? If yes, do they have colors that you can choose from? If you are using outside caterer, is there an additional fee to use your venue’s kitchen? Will the venue provide coat check and valet parking or is that something additional that you have to pay for? Will there be a bathroom attendant? How about security? Will the gratuity for the staff on your wedding day be included on your final bill or is that something you have to take care of on your own?

Does the venue allow candles? If you plan to have votive candles as part of your wedding décor, make sure that the venue allows it first. Some venues only allow electronic candles, which will look a little different from the natural candle light, so make sure you know what your venue allows beforehand.

Fog Machines. Same story here, if you are set on having a fog machine for your wedding day, you have to make sure fire alarms are not going to go off from the smoke.

Is there a wedding before or during your ceremony/reception? If there is, you want to make sure that yours guests are not going to be confused where to go and hopefully you will not be seeing the other bride on your wedding day. If the venue has beautiful grounds and you planned to take pictures outdoors, you need to make sure that the other bride is not planning her photo session at the same time as you are.

How much time do your vendors have to set up before your event?  This is important because each vendor needs to have access to the room beforehand to make sure that the sound is tested and all of the tables are properly set up with your planned décor, etc.

Do you have a bridal suite that you can use to get ready? You need to know where you will be getting ready and if your bridesmaids plan to get ready with you beforehand. This way your venue can tell you ahead of time if all of your bridal party can fit in the same room with you, if only you and your mom/grandmother can stay in the room or if they don’t even provide a bridal suite to begin with. Another good question to ask your wedding venue is where can the guys hang out before the ceremony/reception?

Can you use outside vendors? Most of the wedding venues will provide you with their preferred vendor list, but just in case you already have your mind set on a particular photographer or bakery that you would like to make your wedding cake, you need to make sure that outside vendors are allowed.

Hot Wedding Trends of 2017

Metallic Colors – Gold, rose-gold, copper…you get the idea! Now add that splash of metallic to your color theme and pair it up with bold colors like emerald green or fuchsia pink to really make a statement.

Venue – industrial warehouses are hotter this year than they were last year! This year you will see higher-end vintage glamour and timeless pieces that will “wow” even the pickiest critique.

Color Palettes – we are still going to be working with the neutral color palettes although bolder colors are coming back, especially for the fall weddings. The “It” color of 2017? Emerald Green.

  

Flowers – local blooms are still in, although big, statement centerpieces are coming back strong this year. You will also see a lot of different flower varieties and more hanging décor.

Invitations – foil stamping and eye catching details, expect bold color envelopes in the mail if you are attending a wedding in 2017!

Menu – Farm to table, and it better be organic or local!

Wedding Cake – tall cakes are in, while cake pops, doughnuts and pies are slowly fading.

Drones – this year, every couple is going to be asking their photo/video team for overhead shots that capture their wedding from the birds-eye view.

Photo Credit: ZTS Photo

Entertainment – couples are not just letting their DJ’s to do all of the work anymore. They are pushing the envelope with live performances to mix in.

 

DIY Weddings

Every bride wants to add a personal touch to their wedding day, but certain do-it-yourself details might cost more than hiring a pro. Here is my advice on what to do yourself and what to hire a pro for.

Save the Dates: You can definitely DIY and have lots of fun with it. No need for expensive stationary!

Invitations: If you are creative with Photoshop, definitely go with DIY and send your final product to the printing firm. You will save a good amount of money vs. buying ready design invitations. For those of you who aren’t that savvy with Photoshop, your best bet is to buy them.

Flowers: Unless you have a rustic theme wedding where you plan on using baby breath, sunflowers and any other low maintenance flowers, I would suggest a pro. I have coordinated weddings where couples really tried saving on their flowers and unfortunately 75% of all self-made arrangements ended up dying overnight. Flowers need proper temperature and water additives to last. My advice is to go with a pro and use local flowers that are in season to save on the cost.

Wedding planner/coordinator: You might be the most organized person on this planet but when it comes to your wedding day, please be a bride and enjoy your day. If you are running around making sure everything is being set up the way you envisioned, you are never going to get ready on time and be extremely stressed out. Leave it to the pro to bring your dream wedding day to life.

Wedding Favors: Fantastic DIY activity. Just be careful with perishable goods and make sure beforehand with your wedding venue that they allow outside food (if you are doing cookies, for example). Otherwise, you can’t get more personal than creating your own wedding favors for the guests. Tip: Invite your bridesmaids, Mom, Grandmother, etc. and make it a party! You will have lots of fun and your bridal party and family can feel involved too.

Music: Hire a pro. It might seem like a great idea to put together a playlist for your wedding day, but everyone has a different taste in music and a professional DJ can really make your wedding memorable. Also, when it comes to speeches, grand entrance and ceremony music, you want someone professional to be in charge.

Dance Lessons: I would highly suggest looking for a Livingsocial or a Groupon deal just for 1 or 2 lessons with a pro, otherwise you can’t beat YouTube. Dance lessons can cost up to $200 an hour for a couple’s first dance choreography, and most of you will need more than just one lesson. Therefore, I would suggest a DIY choreography.

Photographer: Your pictures are going to last you a lifetime, and you can’t rewind your wedding. Hire a pro! Your Uncle might be great at taking pictures but at a wedding you will often find him talking to people who he hasn’t seen in years, which runs a high probability of him missing your special moments.

 

 

Survival Guide for a Perfect Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, and not because of the presents, but because of the celebration of Love! Here is the survival guide for a perfect Valentine’s Day!

  1. Plan ahead. If you are just starting to look for a place where to take your significant other on Valentine’s Day, you might be out of luck because restaurants get VERY busy. So if you happen to find yourself scrambling to find a last minute reservation, it might be the right time to move on to plan B!
  2. Plan B. Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be celebrated at a restaurant, although it is unacceptable to make your significant other cook that day, unless they absolutely want to. So men, it’s time to find your apron and put together a simple menu for the night. May Pinterest help you find something easy and delicious to make, and please don’t forget about the candles and wine!
  3. Plan C. In case your significant other works late and an intimate dinner is not an option, how about a nice breakfast? What could be better than starting off your morning with your significant other and a cup of coffee? Even if you are a horrible cook, this gesture will be highly appreciated and if you add flowers, your sweetheart is going to have a perfect beginning to the day!
  4. Plan D. I keep writing about food – I guess love and food go hand in hand. Just in case plans A, B and C fail or is not an option, or your sweetheart lives miles away, I did come up with a last resort – order delivery. If your significant other doesn’t do breakfast and you guys are not seeing each other later on in the evening, there is still a way to make him or her smile – consider food delivery. You probably know what your valentine’s favorite food is, so why not surprise them with a prepaid delivery to home/work? It’s a cute surprise, it is very thoughtful, and no one that I know ever said no to a delicious lunch/dinner delivered directly to them.
  5. Fun Valentine’s Day Activities: Now, if you are lucky enough to spend your Valentine’s Day with your significant other, and I hope that is the case for the most of us, there are a bunch of activities that you can do which won’t break the bank.
  6. Wine and Paint! This is last year’s trend that is still a hit. You will be guided with step by step instructions on how to create your own masterpiece, in addition to drinking wine most places will allow you to bring snacks!
  7. Cooking / Baking Class. You will enjoy this fun activity where you can have fun while creating something you most likely would have never tried at home.
  8. Beauty House Calls! Let the Salon come to you. There are so many websites such as Glam Squad and Primp In-Home that send beauty professionals to your door. The registration process takes less than a minute – all you need is an e-mail address and a zip code. My other favorite is Zeel, this website provides licensed massage therapist for on-location massage. I actually tried this one out with my husband and we were not disappointed. It’s a must try and is very romantic if you add some background music and candles!
  9. Ice Skating! Even if you can’t ice skate, you will love this fun and romantic winter activity!
  10. If all else fails. If everything seems to be going wrong, there is still hope. There are little things that you can do which will make Valentine’s Day special for your significant other. Step 1: Details. At your regular grocery store or party city, purchase Valentine’s Day paper napkins and plates. If you want to go a step further, pick up some pink and red balloons to hang from the ceiling. Step 2: Pick up some candles to make your place look and feel intimate. Step 3: Cook or order food beforehand, this way it gets delivered before your date arrives – sushi is a great option because it doesn’t need reheating. Also, don’t forget about dessert! Step 4: Clean your place and make it look presentable! Step 5: Preselect some intimate background music for your dinner, and find a couple of movie options to watch.
  11. Be Prepared. Everyone wants to feel special, so please think of a plan beforehand. There is nothing worse than showing up at a restaurant that has a 2 hour wait time, finding out that all of the tickets to the latest movie are sold out and not having a backup plan. Out of all of the date nights in the year, make sure this one is extra special!

 

Average Wedding Cost

Average Cost of the Wedding

What is the average cost of the wedding? This is the most coveted question from the brides to wedding planners, along with “How much do you think my wedding is going to cost me?”. Well the real question is “How much are you willing to spend without breaking the bank?”. If you have a million dollar Pinterest board but your budget is $10,000 for 150 people, we will have to nail down what really matters and what we can “X” out altogether. Unfortunately I see way too many brides who are let down by the price tag of their grand ideas, but we have to be realistic here too, especially if you live in NYC, weddings are not cheap. You shouldn’t count on getting most of your money back either, you should really only spend what you can afford, and please add additional $2,000-$5,000 to that number because that’s where you will most likely end up. I highly suggest creating your budget with your fiancé and there are great websites that provide amazing and easy templates that will do all of the math for you. If you are wondering what’s the average cost of the wedding in your state, than you will love this latest article from The Knot that just came out with 2016 Real Weddings Study. Please keep in mind though, you CAN plan a wedding on a lower than the average budget for your state, and it will still be amazing, you will just have to splurge a little less and do a little more vendor research.

 

The National Average Cost of a Wedding Is $35,329

We just released the 10th annual The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study, and that means it’s time to talk wedding costs and spending trends. After surveying …