So you’re planning a wedding- congratulations! But, you’re slightly freaking out. I get it. There are so many things you have to do and think about when you plan your own wedding, without mentioning working full-time or juggling regular life.

I had over a year to plan my wedding, and while I needed every second of that time, I tried to stay as stress free as possible. It’s not really my personality to get worried over every little thing, but there were definitely were moments where I was completely overwhelmed. Over the course of that time, I learned a few things that guided me throughout the process and into wedding day to keep me calm! That being said, here are my top 5 tips to doing this whole thing as stress free as possible.

If you’re interested in more of my wedding details or planning advice, let me know and I will be happy to share. & don’t worry, I’ll be posting an overload of wedding photos asap!

Take your planning stuff with you.

On my wedding day I brought my binder that had all my receipts, invoices, menus, agreements, etc stuffed in it and I am SO glad I did. There was an issue with some of the rentals, with the vendors saying I had only rented 6 tables, but I was able to quickly whip out that invoice and show them that I paid for 17. They recognized their mistake and quickly fixed the problem, but it could have been a disaster if that situation wasn’t resolved quickly. While I know you don’t want to think about having an issue on wedding day, it’s probably inevitable so you might as well be prepared for it!

Southern Style Diaries, Ivana Hrynkiw, wedding, wedding planning

Don’t flip if your fiancé doesn’t want to be involved.

This one is going to be controversial I’m sure, but my husband didn’t want to be involved in the wedding-planning process… so he wasn’t. And that’s okay! I was able to pick everything I wanted and make all the decisions, and didn’t have to worry about him being unhappy with the color scheme or the flower types. Really, there’s zero point to having him involved in these decisions or meetings if he isn’t interested. It’s only going to cause a fight and a headache for you! If he says he doesn’t care, LADIES, he truly does not care. Pick what you want.

Choose your bridesmaids carefully.

I am so lucky to have the most amazing group of friends and every single one of my bridesmaids was a blessing to have stand beside me on my wedding day. But, I’ve heard horror stories about women choosing a sometimes-difficult friend to be a bridesmaid, and that maid makes everyone else miserable. You don’t need that on wedding day, or during any type of wedding festivity. If you have a girlfriend who doesn’t get along with your core group or who can be a little rough around the edges, give her another job in your big day to feel included, but leave her out of the bridesmaids group.Southern Style Diaries, Ivana Hrynkiw, wedding, wedding planning

Be nice, but stern.

Vendors can be pushy, and you come to expect that. Be nice and accommodating, but know there’s a time to put your foot down and say what you need done- without being a brideszilla. I think it’s helpful to, in the very beginning, talk to your vendors about your expectations and what they can provide. If they can’t provide something you consider vital, that needs to be known up front. Also don’t forget to get prices on everything! I fell into the “oh, of course we can do that!” trap… meaning, sure they can do it, for a cost. Make sure every single thing is listed with a price on your contract or agreement.

Calm down.

Things will go wrong— like my table incident, or when my dad photobombed our first look. But that’s okay! Laugh it off, and know that the most important things are your family, friends, and— of course— groom. Everything else is small potatoes.

Pictures by Arden Ward Upton


With all the hustle and bustle of the world, it can be easy to get drained. You know the feeling, when you’re so over your day job, but too tired to even enjoy your hobbies. By the time you feel recharged, its Monday all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But juggling everything can be exhausting, and sometimes its easy to put everything— work, keeping the house clean, taking care of family/pets/etc.— above yourself. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself first.

I feel like as women, we’re wired to think that we have to fix everything for everyone else… or at least, that’s definitely my personality. I also have a problem of thinking I constantly have to be productive, and I have to build Greece in a day. It’s obviously not my best trait!

I have had to learn over the years that taking care of yourself, mind and body, is so important for this very reason. You can’t take care of everyone else if you haven’t also checked on yourself, and anything you do won’t be done 100% if you’re not completely present.

For me, it’s super important to take a little time every evening for myself. Whether that’s reading a new book for 30 minutes before bed or having a cup of coffee on the porch, I find that I operate so much better in every aspect of my life when I have a little time to recharge.

Here are my top five ways to take a little time to center myself at the end of the day! I highly recommend trying some way, even if its not one of these, to check on yourself each day.


Take a nap

Yes, we’re adults. Yes, we need naps. Sometimes, as much as I want to do something productive and creative, I just need to lay down and sleep. A good 30-minute nap after work and before dinner has definitely saved my life many times.

Read a good book

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s one of my go-to things to calm myself down after a long day. There’s something so relaxing about losing yourself in a good story! I try to read before bed, and make sure I save my place in case I fall asleep in the process.

Have dessert

Let’s start by saying I am not really a cook. I love to bake, probably because I could absolutely live off sugar, and I have the biggest sweet tooth, it’s like ALL my teeth are sweet. I have something for dessert every. single. night. It can be a mini Hershey’s bar and a giant marshmallow, or a bowl of ice cream… but, I always look forward to it, and it can make my night if I’ve had a less than great day. Don’t deprive yourself.

Watch your shows in bed

We have a TV in our bedroom but we don’t have cable there, so I’ll watch a new Netflix drama after dinner while curled up with the dogs in bed. I also have a guilty pleasure of binging YouTube makeup videos, so I’ll lay down with my iPad and go to town. The dogs love having an excuse to lay down, and so do I.

Take a walk and listen to a podcast

A short walk around the block is good for your health, but it’s also a lot more enjoyable (for me at least) when you have something to listen to. I’m a podcast junkie, so I take my earbuds and listen to the newest episode of my favorite show while getting a little exercise and vitamin D. Win-win! And if you have dogs, or cats that like leashes (I’ve known a few), take them along to boost both of your moods.


This is something that’s hard for me to put into words, but I’m going to try. I love new makeup, and a good pair of shoes, and my fancy KitchenAid mixer, but I think we’ve all started taking these things for granted and started giving too little.

More and more, as I slather on my tinted sunscreen and mascara before work in the mornings, I realize how lucky I am to do this, and to live this life. 

Just today I spent $30 at Walmart on beauty and skincare items. It hit me while I was checking out, couldn’t someone use this $30 more than I do? Couldn’t someone use this money for something more— like food, or water, or a blanket— than the new L’Oreal eye shadow palette I bought?

L'Oreal, Flower Beauty, makeup, beauty

(We’ll talk more about that later)

I think about this kind of thing a lot lately. Sometimes I fall into this thought that since I’m not a millionaire, I can’t give or make a difference. But then I remember the little things I try to do, like donate clothes I don’t wear, give cash to someone who needs it, feed the neighborhood strays, and listen to someone who needs to talk. While I can’t give $10,000 to charity, I like to think that these little things I do can make a difference in someone’s (or an animal’s) life.

On a slightly separate but related note, I think what you do with your words and actions is equally important. Last weekend, my fiancé and I went to Waffle House down the street from our house. We walked in and sat down and just then, a server approached a man at a nearby table. In a completely unnecessary, degrading tone, she told the man that he couldn’t sit there because he didn’t order food and he needed to leave the restaurant. The man, who had a WH to go cup in his hand, politely explained that he had ordered and was waiting on his food. Obviously surprised, she tucked her tail and walked off… while the clearly embarrassed man got up and walked to stand by the door. Turns out, the people next to us had bought the man a meal, and he was waiting to get it.

My amazing fiancé (who will kill me if he reads this) looked at me and said, “I know you’re hungry baby, but I can’t eat here with someone who acts like that.” Neither could I.

We got up, left, and ate somewhere that welcomes everyone for breakfast.

I’m not saying this to brag, but because it reminded me that goodness and giving doesn’t have to be measured by dollar signs. It’s measured by kindness.


I know I don’t usually talk about my health on my blog, but I think it’s important and I wanted to tell you about my health and fitness journey, and how happy I’ve become with my body and overall health over the past year.

I’ve always liked exercising, but struggled to find a consistent workout routine that I didn’t get bored of or dread. In high school and at the beginning of college, I opted for the treadmill/ elliptical for sometimes two hours just to feel like I was burning “enough calories” to lose a few pounds. I was also at a really rough part in my life in the first semester of college, so I compensated by exercising for hours to feel like I was in control of something.

Fast forward to the middle of college, I tried (and failed) to get into trial/outside running. I was also eating horribly, but I didn’t try to change that because I wasn’t gaining any weight. Because I looked okay, I thought what I was putting into my body didn’t matter. I felt so tired all the time, probably because I was consuming so much sugar and empty calories.

But last year, I did a total health 180. I found a workout program that is perfect for me, and one I actually look forward to going to! I got on a steady schedule, which I need to be consistent, and I hardly ever miss a class. When I do, I am never happy about it and I find myself working harder at my next class to make up for it. I couldn’t love my trainers more and they push me to be my best, without ever making me feel embarrassed or not good enough.

Ivana Hrynkiw, Southern Style Diaries, kickboxing, Gauntlet

If you’re like me, you never thought you needed a trainer. You are wrong! I think having such great trainers has pushed me to want to do better and want to stay on track. You don’t have to have a bootcamp type trainer– I hate that– but you need to have someone to encourage and support you, no matter what kind of exercising you do.

After nearly a year of being at my gym, I got my level 1 kickboxing certification! It may be silly, but I was so proud of myself and my body, and I can’t wait to keep testing for the next level.


Aside from fitness, last year I totally changed the way I ate. I started paying more attention to what I was putting in my body, but without being obsessive. Now I eat healthy, prepped meals most days for lunch and dinners during the week, so I know exactly the nutrition I’m putting into my body and I can keep track of what I am not getting enough of. And, I don’t feel bad about scarfing down nachos on Saturdays and having a few drinks!

It makes so much sense, but I never thought about how the things I was putting in my body were affecting me negatively. Now, let’s get this straight. I still have to have at least one ice cream per week, and I still can knock out a whole pizza and a bowl of cheese dip in one sitting… but, I don’t feel so bad about it. It’s all about balance!

I’m so proud of myself because I made this change for me. I wasn’t necessarily trying to lose weight (although I did), but I wanted to tone up (which I also did) and feel more confident in my body. I am so happy with my health these days, and it breaks my heart to see girls who are not. I hope my story can inspire someone to change their lifestyle and get in shape for THEMSELVES. Not to fit in a dress, and not to look good for bikini season. Do it for you and you only! Your health and fitness is crucial to YOU.




Ivana Hrynkiw, Southern Style DiariesI realized recently that a lot of ya’ll who are new to SSD don’t know me, so I wanted to take a minute to tell you about me, my job, and why I started this blog.

My name’s Ivana, and I work for— the biggest online news source in Alabama. We produce three papers across the state, and typically I’m writing several stories a day.

The thing is, I don’t write about entertainment, or style, or food. I cover homicides, fatal fires, fatal car crashes, etc. for half of my day. The other half I spend in courtrooms covering the trials for those responsible for those crimes. I know, ya’ll weren’t expecting that from me.

I always say, I meet people on the worst days of their lives. I’ll never get used to parents finding out their child is dead, or a child being killed in a horrible way. I’ll never be okay with a wife sobbing in court because her husband was murdered from a stray bullet, which was fired from a drug deal across the street. It’s hard, and it doesn’t get easier.

With that being said, I have to believe this job has made me realize that you have to appreciate the small things in life. For me, that’s a good pair of jeans and red lipstick. You have to appreciate your family, like when I have dinner with my fiancé or go shopping with my mama. These are the things that keep me going and motivated to tell the stories of those who can’t.

I’ve had several blogs over the years, but I created SSD in 2016 when I was at a turning point in my career and needed a place to channel my love of all these things, and share what my tips and tricks to being a woman in the south with some dang good style. It’s not been an easy journey to handle this blog AND a full-time job, but it’s totally worth it. I get to do both things I love in the same way: Telling stories.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. Questions about my day job or the Southern Style Diaries? Leave them in the comments because I would love to share! Also, if you ever have requests for posts on this blog, please let me know and I would be happy to do it. 




Style Collective stock

They say you can’t do it all, but with a little time management and a whole lot of hustle, I think you can.

I work full-time, go to the gym 3-4 times a week, and run the Southern Style Diaries… all while trying to maintain a (very) small social life and hang out with my fiancé and family. Did I mention I’m also planning a wedding?

It can be really overwhelming sometimes when I look at my to-do list. But, I’ve found a way to mostly manage my schedule and balance all my activities so that I don’t lose a lot of sleep, and I don’t take away time with my loved ones.

I know this isn’t a unique problem. People tell me constantly how stressed they are with managing their time, and I always say I get it— because I do, and I used to be that person. I still am occasionally, but not nearly as much!

Today I’m going to share several tips of mine on how to balance work, home, fitness, your side hustle, and whatever else you have going on!

I hope this helps you when you feel overwhelmed, and please leave me tips in the comment section about how you manage your time!

Have a bed time

I know, we’re not 8 anymore. But, when I started scheduling myself to go to bed every night around a certain time, everything changed. I have more energy to get things done during the day, and I sleep without tossing and turning through the night and waking up exhausted. Its all about your body clock and getting that regulated. If you are going to bed at midnight one day and 8 p.m. the next, your body gets so out of whack it doesn’t know when to be tired and when to be alert. Get yourself on a schedule where you’re getting between 6-8 hours a sleep every night, and stick with it. You’ll get so much more done during the day, and when bedtime comes you’ll sleep like a baby.

Eat, but eat well!

If I skip meals or don’t eat, I get incredibly cranky. Not only that, but I get killer headaches and feel lightheaded… meaning, I usually have to lay down and totally waste the rest of the day. I hate not feeling well and missing out on a perfectly good time to finish a blog post or to have dinner with my family! That’s why I make sure I’m eating something small every few hours, and I don’t miss meals. I buy prepped meals for my lunches and dinners during the week (I’m planning to do a post on that soon!) so they are portioned out based on calories, carbs, protein, and veggies. Getting all those nutrients in my system makes me feel so satisfied, and I get energy that I wouldn’t get from shoving McDonalds in my face (which I sometimes still do). I firmly believe if you put good things in your body, it’ll do good things for you!

Write everything down

This is another necessity for me! Every single thing gets written in my planner, and I mean everything. My gym schedule, work deadlines, when to fill out my time card, when bills are due… My planner looks like a ball point pen exploded, but that’s ok! If I write something down, I’m more likely to remember it. Also, I need to be able to look at my week (or month) and see what needs to get done and when. If you’re not a planner person, try using Post-It notes or a legal pad. Or, get a desk calendar and use the daily boxes to plan your week ahead.

Stick to a gym schedule

Lots of folks don’t want to hear this, but schedules are key to consistency with anything. To ensure that I don’t  get “too busy” for the gym, I have a hard schedule that I almost never break. Knowing what days and times I workout lets me plan around it, and I also exercise harder because I’m not thinking about the 17 things I have to do when I get home. That’s an hour where I just focus on me and my body, and it’s such a stress reliever! I can go into the gym worried about 90 things, and leave feeling like I can conquer them all and more. I need that for my physical AND mental health.

Have a plan, but don’t freak out when it goes up in flames

No matter how much you plan and schedule, sometimes things just go to hell. And that’s okay! It’s inevitable. You’ll have car trouble, or be sick, or your friend is in town and you really want to have a drink with her. It’s okay to step back for a minute and remember, you are human and things happen. Give yourself permission to take a day or an afternoon off, and take a break. If you don’t, you’re going to burn out… and that’s one thing I know for sure. It’s all about balance— and of course, having a little fun too 🙂


I love podcasts.

I love turning on a podcast when I’m doing my makeup, or getting dressed, because it’s the perfect time to completely zone into a show without sacrificing time I already have trouble finding. Also, I love listening to podcasts in the car because it makes time go by so fast– especially on long trips!

I put together a list of my top 6 podcast favorites so you can check out what I’m listening to, or if you’re a podcast newbie, you can find your new favorite. Happy listening!

Southern Style Diaries, podcasts, Ivana Hrynkiw

Heaven’s Gate

Heaven’s Gate was not what I expected it to be. The show is about a cult, named Heaven’s Gate, where dozens of members committed a mass suicide in the 1990s in a California mansion. The podcast starts at the beginning, with background on the founders of the cult and how they started the group. Host Glynn Washington, who actually grew up in a cult environment, shares some of his experiences too… and it’s fascinating to hear the story through his perspective. Washington talks to members who left the group before the suicide, including some who still believe in the group’s ideals. It was weird, sometimes creepy, and fascinating all at the same time. If you’re into dark movies and shows (hello, me) then you will love this!

The Influencer Podcast

This podcast comes from Julie Solomon, the Goddess of internet marketing and blogging. While I am in no way caught up in this show, I love taking an hour or two out of my week to hear her advice and tips on how to successfully grow in this ever-changing, sometimes scary, and amazing thing we call the internet. The show is done in an interview format with a new guest each week, and I love Julie’s interview tactics. She always asks the questions I want to hear and has a great knack for picking up on key takeaway points from each week. I always learn something during this podcast and I love being able to implement it in my website immediately! Even if you aren’t a blogger or influencer, you can see the passion Julie has and how carefully she studies the field.


As a crime reporter myself, of course I got sucked into Serial. The format is a little different than I expected it to be, but each episode hooked me even more. Season one of the show is about a man named Adnan, who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in 1999… but, he may have got a raw deal. Season two is about Bowe Bergdahl, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but I ended up loving. Both seasons are fast-paced but also give you every detail you need, and each lets you make up your mind on what you think really happened.

Up and Vanished

This podcast took over my life! It’s about an murder in Georgia that’s been unsolved for more than a decade, and the case is allegedly the largest in GBI history. It’s a long show, but host Payne Lindsey talks to everyone involved in the case from start to finish. He talks about tons of crazy theories, and his investigation actually led to an arrest in the case last year. Now, the case is unfolding in real time, which is fascinating. Again, it’s looooong, but I was interested in every episode. I hope Payne updates the show as the alleged killer goes through the court process! He’s got a new podcast now, called Atlanta Monster, but I am not as into it as I was UAV.

A Killing on the Cape

If you liked Serial, you’ll love A Killing on the Cape. The podcast is from ABC’s 20/20 team, and is about a murder in the early 2000s on Cape Cod. The victim was a single mom, who was also a fashion writer for top magazines like W and Vogue. After years of investigating, authorities arrest a man and convict him of her murder. The story is intriguing and heartbreaking, and truth be told I have more questions now than I did before listening. That being said, it’s worth it.

Becoming Fearless

Similar to The Influencer podcast, Becoming Fearless is the Style Collective podcast by SC creator Annie Spano. You don’t have to be a SC member to access the show though! It’s also in interview format, and features Annie talking to marketers, influencers, motivational speakers, and more. While it is a lot like Julie Solomon’s show, I think Annie’s focuses a little less on the business aspect of entrepreneurship and more on the mindset. She talks a lot about spiritual wellbeing, meditation, and how to get in the right head space for starting a blog or an online business. I get a lot of inspiration from hearing Annie’s conversations, and I think you will too.

This post was not sponsored; all opinions are my own.


If you’re planning a wedding, I feel you. It’s hard work, and it’s stressful…but, it’s also the most fun thing in the world!

I’m planning my own wedding, with the help of amazing family and friends. I have done SO much research about topics from flowers to linens to chairs, and I also joined a wedding library in town that gives me helpful tips and recommends popular vendors to me. While I still have a little way to go, I feel like I have gotten so much done in a relatively short amount of time!

To be truthful though, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started working on my dream wedding. Here are my top tips for planning your own wedding, so you can hopefully learn from my mistakes and have a stress-free experience! The most important thing to remember is to breathe, and have fun!

Happy planning!

wedding, wedding planning, Southern Style Diaries, Ivana Hrynkiw

Get organized immediately

Start off on the right foot, and keep everything organized from day one. Immediately after getting engaged, you’ll start paying more attention to weddings you attend or see in magazines, and chances are there will either be something you love and want to copy, or something you want to avoid. You’ll need a place to keep all of that so you can look back at it, and also add more important documents for safe keeping! My wedding planning binder is from the ladies of Southern Weddings, and it’s precious. It comes with the cutest little tips and tricks, and reminds you to enjoy the planning process! It also has plenty of room to add in pages (with page protectors… I learned the hard way!) or stuff folders in, which you can tell I took full advantage of.

Know the basics (of what you want)

I don’t mean you have to know what color your bridesmaids dresses will be or what your date is. But, I do think it’s wise to have a basic idea of what you want your day to be like— outside or inside? Church or a swanky ballroom or a rustic barn? Winter, or summer? Things like this will make it easier to envision your day, and then your details can start to come together in your head. Everything is so beautiful, it can really sway brides when looking at venues if you don;t have any idea what you want. Things will change along the process, but if you go ahead and know the basics your life will be a lot easier.

Don’t panic when you get your first round of prices

Learn from my mistakes— stuff is expensive. You *think* you understand that, but when you write everything down for your budget, suddenly you are hyperventilating and that’s not going to help anything! Be aware of the price ranges that wedding things cost. You can easily find this online or in a wedding planning book if you purchase one— just for a general idea, reception venues can be $3000 and up, while food can range around $20-30 a person. And don’t forget your tables, chairs, servers, bartenders, etc… it adds up fast, so be mentally prepared.

Pinterest is your best friend

If you already have a wedding Pinterest board you started way before you even thought getting married was in the near future, I suggest either deleting things that you can’t truly see yourself doing/wearing OR starting a new board. When I got engaged and got a general idea of what I wanted (see #x above) I realized that all the poufy dress and the flower walls were beautiful, but they just weren’t for my dream day. Having some kind of vision board, if you don’t use Pinterest, is insanely helpful to both you and your vendors! I use Pinterest and I cut out pictures from magazines and keep them in my binder.

Get help of a trusted family member, friend, or wedding planner

I’m lucky enough to have an awesome mom, aunt, cousin, and mother-in-law, along with tons of friends, that have helped me tremendously through this process. They’ve kept this whole thing moving! I’m pretty convinced no one has it better than me in that department, but if you do, use them to your advantage! Most of your family members will want to help you in some way, so it will help you and make them feel good if you give them a job. Also, this isn’t their first rodeo, so they know better than I do. If you don’t have any family/friends that you want to help you, get a wedding planner! It will take so much work and stress off your plate.

Venue first, then everything else

Venue, venue, venue! Do not book anything else until you do this. Sometimes certain venues require you to use certain vendors– so if you love the venue, you have to play by their rules. Don’t get into a situation where you’ve committed to a vendor and have to back out, or you have everything except your dream venue and it’s booked on your date because you didn’t start looking soon enough. Just save yourself the trouble and trust me, book it first.

Do everything earlier than you think you need to

I know someone will disagree with me on this, but I jumped ahead of the typical planning calendar guidelines by like two months. I am a person that needs to know details ASAP, and to me, there was no sense in waiting. Once I had the venue, I was excited to start looking into other vendors and getting them secured for my date. Sooner is better than later in my opinion, always. Plus, it’ll save you so much stress when you have your dress a year in advance, rather than running to every bridal store in one weekend trying to find the perfect gown.

You’re not going to buy the dress you think you want

I wanted dress A, and I ended up with dress Z. If you think you know exactly what you want, chances are you’re going to get it on and say, “eh,” and go back to the drawing board. All I’m saying is be open minded and don’t set your heart on something until you have it on your body!

Break tradition…or don’t.

Your mom, aunt, cousin, and sister all wore grandma’s wedding dress… but you want a Hayley Paige studded gown. Or everyone is very religious and got married in a church, but that’s just not your thing. Sit down and talk with your family, and explain to them your concerns. Just because everyone else did something does not mean you have to do it! You wedding is hopefully something you only do once, which brings me to my next point…

It’s YOUR day!

Remember that, and own it! Don’t be a brideszilla, but keep in mind that your opinion is the most important. It’s not selfish, its making sure that your day is what you want. I had to be told this several times, and stop putting everyone else’s feelings and wants in front of my own. And you know what? They were right. While I have kept everyone’s opinions in my head (and sided with 99% of them) I have had to make several calls that were different than what some people would have preferred. If you’re like me, you might feel bad in the moment… but that’s better than being disappointed on your wedding day.


It can be so challenging to eat well during the holidays.
I know when I am with my family and off my daily schedule, I want to eat like a trash can. And sometimes I do, but I wanted to give ya’ll 10 quick tips on how to stay healthy and stay (mostly!) on track with your eating during the holiday season.

I hope these tips help you! If you need motivation, feel free to reach out and we can do this together… in between Christmas cookies.

Southern Style Diaries

(Yes, my Christmas cooking tips all stem from Paula Deen!)

-Eat a fiber-filled, balanced breakfast. Those cinnamon rolls are fine once or twice, but try to start your day out with good carbs (like a banana nut muffin) and yogurt, or an egg sandwich and a fruit cup.

-Guzzle that water! If you’re like me and love a good glass of eggnog (or two), you need to make sure you’re staying hydrated and getting your electrolytes. A Gatorade is also good to add in, especially if you feel like you went a little too hard at the ugly sweater party.

-Divide your plate. At buffet-style gatherings, try to fill half your plate with veggies. Use the other two quarters each for protein and starchy dishes. Also, try not to up your serving size more than you would at a typical dinner at home.

-Speaking of veggies, try to bring a good veggie plate to your gatherings, so everyone can have a healthier option. My mom always makes a veggie and cheese board shaped like a tree for Christmas morning, and it’s gone within the hour! Check that out on my Pinterest here.

-Have a dessert rule. Try not to go for the sweets at every event– stop by the dessert table at one party, and skip it at the next.

-Eat your lean meats! Lean chicken and turkey are better options than a pork chop or a steak smothered in butter.

-And get in your protein if you aren’t into meat. Peanut butter is my go to for a good shot of protein if I need something fast between meals!

-Pre-made meals are your friend. I typically eat prepped meals throughout the week anyway, but it’s SO helpful during the holiday season, because things are always much busier than normal and it’s hard to find a healthy option. For lunch, they can be a lifesaver–either at work or doing last minute Christmas shopping.

-While I know I said this post was about eating well, I have to add this in: Get in exercise when you can! It’s really tough to make time for the gym when you have parties and family obligations, but everyone can fit in some type of exercise. Take a walk with your baby cousins, opt for the stairs at the mall, lift the heavy presents and carry them to the car. Anything helps, especially when you’re probably consuming more food and being more sedentary than normal. If you want some of my ideas for quick exercises you can do at home, click here.

-Don’t beat yourself up over a binge. It’s the holidays, for the Lord’s sake. Have a peppermint cupcake.


We recently did our engagement photos, and we had SO much fun! I’ve had so many requests to share them, I figured this was the perfect platform to do that.

I definitely didn’t want our pictures to look staged or stuffy, and I really trusted our photographer to pose us and pick our spots. She did not disappoint! I’ll include links to her website and information at the bottom of the page if you’re in the Birmingham area and are interested!


Ivana Hrynkiw, Ivana, Southern Style Diaries

For the first outfit, I went with a basic white v-neck and my Spanx leather leggings. I was hoping the leggings would look a little more shiny, but I still how the look turned out. I also wore a BP plaid cape with fringe, and I think the colors were perfect for our scenery!

I’ll admit it… I did by this cape just for the pictures. Glitter and Gingham made me do it.

In case you’re wondering, the Spanx leggings are COMPLETELY worth it. I bought mine during the Nordstrom sale so they were a little cheaper than retail price, but I may buy another pair at regular price… That’s how much I love them. I am a size 27/28 in jeans and I bought a medium in these for reference. My tee is from Madewell and its easily my favorite white tee of all time! My mom steals it daily, and I actually had to rummage in her closet to find it for this shoot.

Ivana Hrynkiw

Top: Madewell Whisper Cotton Tee

Leggings: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings

Cape: BP. Plaid Cape


The second outfit we (when I say we, I mean I) wanted to be a little more formal, so I went with this On the Road velvet maxi. I am in love with this dress and want to wear it everywhere, so I was really excited to wear it for our engagement pictures.

The color is a beautiful, rich purple and the fabric is very thick, so it hangs nicely. You could wear this to a wedding and use tape to secure your chest so it would be a deep V, but that just wasn’t going to work for me in these pictures! Or ever, to be honest…

I bought this dress at the Neiman Marcus Last Call outlet, and I can’t wait to wear it again. I bought it for the pictures, but ended up wearing it to a friend’s wedding about two weeks before the shoot!

For reference, I am wearing a small.

Ivana Hrynkiw, Southern Style Diaries

The boots I have on in this look are from Forever 21 a few years back, but I’ve linked some similar styles!

Southern Style Diaries Ivana Hrynkiw

Dress: On the Road Temptress Velvet Plunge-Neck Dress

Boots: Similar here and here

I hope you enjoyed our photos as much as we have. It’s hard to pick favorites! In 99 percent of them, we are laughing and looking like goobers… but that’s us, and that’s what I love.

Photographer: Arden Ward Upton | Arden Photography 

Venue: Windwood Farms, Pelham AL