What To Do in Barcelona + Amsterdam

Last fall, my friend and I traveled to Barcelona, Spain and Amsterdam, Netherlands for a 2 week trip. I haven’t created a blog post from our experience but thought this was the perfect time to wanderlust  for when our boarders open up again #covidlife. 

Check out a few tips we have for planning an amazing European trip!

1) Book your hotel/hostel in the middle of the action!

In Barcelona, we booked at the Yeah Hostel Barcelona, which had a rooftop, perfect for morning vibes, and was walking distance from food and tourist spots. If it’s just you and a friend, I would suggest springing for a private room. We didn’t and while it wasn’t a big deal, having a private room in Amsterdam was luxury. In Amsterdam, we stayed at The Bulldog Hotel which had a bar in the lobby and a cafe attached, right on the water. We also booked the Bulldog because it had a really cool bathroom that we obviously had to do a photoshoot in.

2) Walk as much as you can!

Plan your route in the morning but also make sure to have fun along the way! We planned a few days that were scheduled (some museums are ticketed for a certain time) but for the most part we planned a few places we wanted to hit throughout the day but weren’t restrained for time so we could adventure! In Barcelona, we stumbled upon a leather shop where they made us custom Barcelona belts. Magic like that doesn’t happy on a schedule! We also love photo shoots so we obviously made time for that whenever we wanted.

3) Make sure you book tickets in advance for a few tourist attractions.

In Barcelona, you don’t want to miss Sagrada Família and Park Güell by Antoni Gaudí. We just walked around Sagrada Faília but you could get tickets anytime. Definitely buy tickets in advance to Park Güell. In Amsterdam, we bought tickets to the Anne Frank House which you had to go at a certain time. Another museum you should definitely buy tickets to in advance is the Van Gogh Museum. We didn’t get into Park Güell, but definitely did another photo shoot.

5) Don’t skimp on meals

If you want to really experience a culture, make sure to enjoy their local cuisine. In Barcelona, we got tapas in the local square, gelato while strolling the city, and paella at El Cercle. In Amsterdam, we enjoyed cafes and fresh mint tea, street fries, and fresh stroopwafels. Check out our permanent stories in our bio for where we went @rachelvkinglifestyle.

4) Take a day off! 

I’m definitely not a wake up super early go all day to fit everything in kind of traveler. I like to enjoy the environment, sit for hours with a coffee and people watch, go out at night and wake up late. I definitely suggest taking a beach day (we went to Playa de La Barceloneta) and grabbing a bite by the water. 

After two weeks of traveling, we were ready to do it again!

Have you traveled to Barcelona or Amsterdam? What were your favorite things to do?

(All images © Rachel V King Lifestyle, Kodak Portra 400 film)

How To Elope in New York City

YOURE ENGAGED! We’re so excited!! You’ve told your friends and families, you’re so elated…and then you start the planning. It’s WAY more than you thought and for some reason everyone else knew to reserve their wedding venue about 20 years in advance? You don’t care about huge venues and elaborate tablescapes. Maybe this isn’t your first marriage or you want to spend your money on a honeymoon or your home. You want an elegant and fun wedding day with no stress and with the people you love the most…is that too much to ask?! Let me ask you a question…have you thought to elope?

This doesn’t mean you have to run down to City Hall in the clothes you’re wearing, not telling a soul, and get a few blurry pictures on your phone. An elopement can be a simple ceremony with the people you care about the most in the city you love. It means you can pick and choose the parts of the wedding you actually want instead of just going along with it all. These days, couples are opting for smaller weddings, especially in big cities like New York City, spending more on the elements they care about, rather than over the top floral arrangements or the five extra tables of people they barely know (but hey, to each their own!). I am going to give you 6 secret steps on how to plan the elopement of your dreams while not missing out on anything that is important to you. Yes, that means your list will only have 6 items to check off for your special day! Let’s get started!

1. Choose your favorite city location!

Where do you want your ceremony? We have a few FREE timeless suggestions! We love New York City for its architecture! Manhattan holds a few timeless gems that are perfect for an elopement backdrop. We first suggest The New York Public Library, the second largest library in the United States and third largest in the world. With plenty of room for a quick ceremony on the grand stairs, you can sneak inside for a few portraits amongst the books and of course, the lions out front! Head down 5th Ave for a few just married city portraits!

For the couple looking for a little more art and culture in their lives, we suggest The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s front steps.  The grandiose steps are perfect for a small ceremony with your loved ones and a stunning backdrop. You can also walk around the Upper East Side for some classic New York City shots as well as stroll through Central Park for some nature.

My lovely Baltimore clients, Renee and Fran, had the perfect backdrop of the historical George Peabody Library in the cozy neighborhood of Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Maryland. Consistently ranked amongst the most beautiful libraries in the world, this was the perfect location for an intimate elopement.

2. Plan a second location for portraits

You love your city because of its architecture, people, and the memories it holds! Is there a neighborhood or park you two like to spend time in? What do you love about your city? Capture those feelings on your day (and try to make it as close as possible to your first location).

Mount Vernon in Baltimore is known for its architecture and cobble stone streets. We grabbed a few fun portraits in the center of Mount Vernon and then walked through the park just as the sun was setting for a stunning golden hour. We created gorgeous, keepsake images in less than 30 minutes! 

3. Hire your favorite wedding photographer!

Maybe this should have been first for how important this is for your wedding day! Now, this is the part where you might say “You’re just saying this because you’re a photographer.” Honestly, I think the most devastating thing that could happen after a wedding, small or large, is looking at your wedding pictures and being unhappy with how they came out. Maybe you thought you could save some extra money hiring your friend who dabbles in photography or you went with the photographer you didn’t love as much just because they were cheaper. DON’T BE THAT PERSON! I believe you are investing in your memories and heirlooms by hiring your perfect photographer. You’re saving on venue, catering, and travel…go all out with your photographer. PLUS, your favorite photographer probably has cheaper elopement deals. So say it with me. 

“I deserve my favorite wedding photographer for my wedding day.” Phew, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

4. Ladies, go with a jumpsuit!

Now hear me out. You’ll be wandering around the city all day, walking up and down steps, and darting across the street. If you can do all of that in a full gown, more power to ya, but you want to enjoy your day, not worry if your train just landed in a puddle. Brides these days are opting for more non-traditional wedding dresses and jumpsuits. I absolutely adore them because of their versatility and customization. Wide leg, skinny leg, short sleeve, long sleeve, lace, simple, classic. Whatever bride you are, you can find in a jumpsuit.

The final reason I will hype up jumpsuits all day long is they’re usually cheaper! You can find a gorgeous white jumpsuit from a non wedding brand for a decent price. This means you can splurge on the Louis Vuton heels you’ll wear forever and pass on as an heirloom, or stunning handmade jewelry from local artists. This bride wore handmade Herkimer Diamond Earrings from local artist, Eaarthbones Jewelry. This goes for men too! Wear a classic suit and pair it with the Rayban sunglasses, cuff links, Ferragamo shoes you’ll  always wear. 

To me, it’s not about buying something you’ll wear once and forget about in the back of your closet. It’s about the timeless, quality pieces that whenever you put them on, you’ll remember how happy you were on your wedding day.

5. Hire a hair and makeup artist

This is important for your gorgeous pictures you are investing in as well as a stress free day! A tip for this, hire your photographer first. Your photographer has their favorite hair and makeup artists that they can suggest for you! This means they’ve probably worked together before and love the HMU artist already, so you’re in good hands! You’ve probably already been talking about what you want to your photographer, so your photographer can communicate with the hair and makeup artist and take it off of your hands. They can also usually come to your home so it’s one less thing you have to worry about on your day!

6. Create your own bouquet, tie with hand dyed silk

New York City is filled with flower bodegas on every corner. Most other cities have something local of the sort, and usually seasonal. This is a much cheaper option and is unique because you picked it! To boost the look, wrap the stems In hand dyed fabric. We tied the brides simple bouquet with silk from Silk & Willow which completely elevated the look! You can also use the silk to thread in keepsakes like charms and jewelry into your bouquet. 

7. Meet up with your friends and family in Little Italy for a celebration!

Grab a few more shots as newlyweds in gorgeous Little Italy (both New York City and Baltimore have great pasta!), then gather with your friends and family to celebrate the night away with bruschetta, pasta, wine, and laughs! You can also order a custom cake from a local baker to be delivered to your restaurant so you won’t miss out on cutting the cake if that’s important to you! Want to dance the pasta and cake off? There are plenty of bars and clubs around Little Italy if that’s your speed!

Have I sold you on an elopement, because honestly after writing this, I’m ready to do this for myself and I’m not even engaged! As I mentioned earlier, most photographers offer elopement packages, as do we! Our Elopement Packages start at $2,000 and is customizable! For more information, head over to our website and send us a message! We’re so excited to hear from you!



All Images Copyright Rachel V King Photography 

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