Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You Won: Classic Tuxedos

Adam was visiting over Christmas break.  Of course we had a great time overall, but as all couples inevitably do, we had a little fight.  And in the middle of it, the phone rang.

“Hi this is Classic Tuxedos.  You won our raffle…”

I almost hung up the phone and said I wasn’t interested.  Not only was I grumpy with Adam at the moment, but these raffle prizes turned out to be a scam every time.  But I took their number and said I’d call back when I was ready to rent a tux, and when the guy said “I said you won, are you happy?”  I kind of laughed to myself.  The least I could do was to check the place out and learn more about what’s available.

So as I did when shopping for wedding dresses, I looked at some of the tuxes on the Classic Tuxedos website.  I got a good idea of the look I wanted before I went in to rent a tux.  Since I’m going for traditional and elegant they’ll be black, and I think the 2 buttoned jackets look more structured than the 1 button, and have a nicer cut than the 3 buttons.  I also learned that what I consider a traditional style is called a "notch lapel."

I knew (from the bridal shows) that the shirt was supposed to be off white like my dress so my dress won’t look dingier by comparison.  Otherwise, no frills, just very classic.  I wasn’t sure if Adam wanted a purple handkerchief or something; he didn’t have any requests when I told him I was going, all I got was a, “Good luck.” I’m sure he was just happy I was willing to rent a tux for him so he didn’t have to try to handle it from across the ocean.  And I could guess that he didn't want anything that stands out as being very "different" looking.

So I went in to Classic Tuxedos find out what this “deal” was.  I was prepared for this to be another sale masked as a prize, but learned that I had actually won one rental for free, plus the rest of the tuxedo rentals were 50% off.


The next hurdle was the fact that I didn’t have a date yet.  But the guy said that was perfectly fine!  Of course he wanted to put a date into the computer, but I just need to call to move it once we set the date.

My next worry was getting the right sizes and fits.  The guy said that they could go to any tailor in the U.S. get fitted, and send in the sizes, so if they don’t live nearby, no problem.

“Except they live in England.”  I waited for him to balk.

“Oh wow.  Okay, no problem, you can convert the sizes and send them in…”

No date no problem, overseas no problem, and over half off.  I LIKE this guy.

He helped me choose a style once I told him about the buttons and lapel and the fact that it’s going to be in the summer, he helped me choose a style.  It’s an AMAZING style.  As much as I love my wedding dress, I think Adam might end up showing me up on our wedding day.

I picked out shoes (I didn’t know shoes, shirt, socks, vest, and tie were all going to come included at Classic Tuxedos!)  I learned that the groom’s tie and vest would be ivory and the others would be black.  That was fine with me.  The only other thing that I was unsure about was the style of tie.  He confirmed the same thing as a coworker told me: bow ties are out.  That’s fine with me.  But he told me, “Since your fiancé is European, you might want to go with an ascot.  That’s more the done thing over there.”  I took a look, and I just wasn’t that impressed.  Since he said I could change anything as long as it was three months before the wedding, I went with regular ties.  Later when I asked Adam what he prefers, he told me he didn’t know what an ascot was.  I guess it’s not that common in Europe then!

So that was another big CHECK on the bridal to do list.  It feels a little weird doing everything in the “wrong” order.  I got the dress, then rented tuxedos, and then later on we’ll set a date.  It sounds crazy, but I just get scared that once Adam DOES get a visa, we’ll be pressed for time.  So why NOT get our attire now?  Better to do it way in advance than to scramble and have to compromise on style and cost if I leave it until later.
Photos courtesy of:
Aaron                                      kent wang                      jscatty                 ben + sam
PetroleumJellife            louis ian riley             jscatty

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wedding Dress Shopping: Not the Bonding Experience They Show You in the Movies

Not everything about my wedding dress shopping experience was positive.  Though I did feel that high people talk about when it comes to finding “THE dress,” there was something else going on with mom. 

Mom was so quiet that I wondered if she was just out of her element.  Though I was looking for clearance wedding dresses, she paid $15 at a department store for the dress she wore for her wedding, so this was just all foreign to her.  But I expected her to be making embarrassing jokes and laughing too loudly at them, not staying quiet.  I felt a little  disappointed, because I had this vision of us tearing up at the sight of me in a wedding dress...haha SO cheesy, I know, but, well, yeah.  At the very least I thought going to a wedding gown store with her and trying them on would be fun, but she was so stony faced that I felt a little uncomfortable, like I could have done this alone for the whole lack of input I was getting. 

Well, I tried to shrug it off because I was still excited, as soon as I put that dress on I was felt, "This is it; this is exactly what I had in mind."  So I figured, "It's not like I’m lost without her advice and she's letting me down, so no use feeling bad here." I'm glad I looked at lots of wedding dresses online before making my first appointment!

So with all that going on in my head, once I was ready to make a deposit they told me the price of the alterations.  That’s when I felt freaked out.  The cost of alterations was going to nearly double the price.

That’s when it hit me.  I asked myself, "Do I really want to spend all this money for a dress I'll wear once?  It's just a dress; I could wear any white dress and the wedding could still go on and it will be totally special."  Mom said just what I knew she'd say: “Well, it’s up to you.”  Yes, obviously; I’m the one paying.  I decided that maybe I won't do alterations through the wedding gown store, I could shop around for a seamstress.  So we put down a deposit and walked out.

And that’s when she finally she told me she had "devastating news." 

I just knew her head was not in it.  

Her news is that they cut her hours in half at work.  And if that's not hard enough to manage, (it's going to be 8 to 12 hours per week) now that she's part time, she's losing her health insurance.  It's illegal to be without health insurance in Massachusetts, and it’ll cost her more than she'll be making each month.  If they laid her off she'd be collecting unemployment and get help with insurance, but since she's still employed, she felt like she was stuck.  
So I was upset for both reasons.  I felt cheated about the experience of shopping for a wedding dress with my mom.  I had thought this was going to be a night she and I would always remember fondly, her first born becoming a bride.  I tried to suck it up and be supportive since she suffered in silence while I tried on gowns, and because hers is a much bigger issue than my dress.  I immediately told her that this is a blessing in disguise because it's been clear how much she hates this job; it was killing her and this is going to force her to make a change.  But I knew she was right when she said, "But the economy's bad and I'm old."  It took her nearly a year last time to find a job.  

So I didn’t enjoy our dinner out after that.  I was upset for her, plus I couldn't get the voice in my head to stop saying, "You're paying THAT MUCH for a dress you'll wear ONCE?!"  So by the end of dinner, she made some comment to the effect that I shouldn't have made the deposit.  Instead of saying something I'd regret I excused myself to use the restroom because I felt really overwhelmed. 

Once I calmed down and came back I think she realized that wasn't fair; I'd asked her for advice before I paid and then she told me AFTER the fact that I did the wrong thing.  So she told me what she meant was that SHE wouldn't have paid that much, but I made the right choice.  Everyone in the store said how beautiful that wedding dress was (there were I think 3 other brides plus their entourages) and how beautiful I looked in it, and how she and I have different tastes but we both agreed that was the best dress for me.  So I felt better.  I know she was just stressed when she upset me.  And I knew I found the one I wanted, and I got a good deal, so I didn't have a right to feel upset about tonight.  But I couldn’t really feel happy now either.  I worked on focusing on her worries instead of my wedding dress any more with her.    

Fortunately, when I got back to mom’s house, before I headed home, I found that Adam had stayed up (until after 1 am UK time) to ask me how my dinner out was (I'd left out the part about going to look for wedding dresses when I told him I was visiting her today).  And although he doesn’t like to hear about the wedding planning stuff (he says it’s too soon to plan anything before we can apply for a visa) I couldn’t keep this a secret.  Amazingly, instead of freaking out, he was happy for me!  I told him it was the first store I went to, and it was such an amazing price that I couldn’t pass it up, and he seemed very pleased.  And I felt less disappointed about the stuff with mom.  My groom was happy and so was I. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Finding MY DRESS Among the Clearance Wedding Dresses Racks

I looked online at a lot of clearance wedding dresses.  I even watched a little bit of Say Yes to the Dress.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted for a wedding dress, so I looked at a lot of photos online for inspiration.

One thing I was pretty sure was that I wanted a V neck wedding dress.  I look best in this style shirt since I’m pretty buxom, and have a comparatively small waist.  But I wasn’t sure what type of skirt I wanted.  Those mermaid and trumpet skirts look so sexy. But as I looked at photos, they only looked good on the skinny models, not on us short curvy girls.  So I decided that a classic A-line would be more flattering on me. 

I started shopping online for clearance wedding dresses.  It's amazing that I found some clearance wedding dresses for under $300!  There was one here that I really liked.  It’s simple, but the cut looks flattering.  Plus it has that bit of filigree embellishments that I love, and will use in the wedding décor.  And you can’t beat the price!  Under $400!  I decided that this would be a terrific back-up dress.  I still wanted to visit a physical Massachusetts wedding gown store David’s Bridal since it’s so close by, and have the experience of trying on several big and pretty white gowns, but I created another folder on my computer, labeled this one “clearance wedding dresses,” and saved this website.  Then I took my favorite Google images of wedding dresses to also put in the folder.

Then one day out of the blue I got an Email from a shop near my mom’s house called “125 Bridal.”   It said that this coming week, right before Thanksgiving, they’d have clearance wedding dresses since they were remodeling their store.  These gowns were going to be 60% off!  That’s a good deal on a small item, but on an item that normally costs over $1000, that was just too good to pass up.

I was nervous because that did not leave me with enough time to shop around at a single Massachusetts wedding gown store first, but I called mom up anyway, booked an appointment, and fought crazy traffic after work for my first bridal appointment.  This wedding planning was suddenly a lot more “real.”  I’ve never needed an appointment to buy something before, other than my house. 

The staff couldn’t be nicer and more understanding when I arrived late.  Mom was trying on Mother of the Bride dresses while she waited.  So after introductions I showed my consultant the inspiration page I’d slapped together in Photoshop the night before with my favorite Google images.  I annotated what I liked on each, what I did not want, and things that I wasn’t sure about.

  • V neck wedding dress
  • A-line
  • Straps or capped sleeves
  • Fitted waist
  • A bodice that goes straight across
  • Sleeveless
Not Sure:
  • Material
  • Beading or lace bridal gowns
  • Ivory or white bridal gown
  • wedding dress train
  • Halter wedding gowns 

So she encouraged me to go through the rack of clearance wedding dresses with her and pull any of the ones I’d like to try on, and she’d pull dresses that she thought fit my criteria also.

With that finished, she led me to the dressing room.  This was an experience I hoped to never go through again.  Being pampered is nice and all, but being a grown woman and needing another adult to help dress you was not in any way fun.  And the bodice undergarment thing they had me wear under each dress was awful.  First of all, it’s used: ew.  Second, though I got a slip to wear, it was just not a pretty sight standing there in the two garments.  I knew I wasn’t at my fittest at that point, but I’d never looked dumpier as I did in that getup.  And third, she let me know that wedding dresses run small.  So looking at the tag, it felt like I’d put on 10 pounds.  And sure enough, the dresses off the rack felt VERY snug; some didn’t zip up all the way.  All the while the skinny young consultant was cheerfully patronizing, saying “oh that can be altered, don’t worry.”  I thought trying on wedding dresses was going to be an experience that made me feel like a princess?  It was just the opposite.

Until I tried on the second dress.

That’s when I felt like Adam’s princess bride.

Now, this isn't me or the actual dress since it would be bad luck for Adam to see!  But it's pretty close :)

I tried on a few (/several) other clearance wedding dresses just to compare the waist, the bead work, how a halter wedding gown looked compared to a v-neck, and it was all a lot more fun now, because I knew I found the dress for me.  Even the price was amazing; not much more than the one I saw online.  But it was clearly a better quality gown.  It has a more subtle, elegant design to the bead work, the material is more substantial looking, and it even has a train, which I never dared to dream about.  I was so amazingly proud of my clearance wedding dress that looked like something out of a magazine.  I didn’t even care that I didn’t get to compare with a Massachusetts wedding gown store.
Photos courtesy of:

tokuriki                              Jakob Montrasio              avlxyz
timothyhorrigan        DeusXFlorida                    DeusXFlorida
Yiqun Ding                      e.t                                                blacksapphire
e.t                                            epSos.de                                  Ryan Smith Photography
spettacolopuro             dunikowski                          dunikowski
killrbeez                           corey ann                               jakob montrasio
pashmina                       flippinyank                          L8o

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New England Bridal Show Expo: Portsmouth, NH Ethan Allen

I was a little wary of a bridal show expo hosted at a furniture store instead of a restaurant because I figured the food wouldn’t be as good.  But when I walked in, it was actually very pretty.

There wasn't LOTS of food at this bridal trade show, but what they did have was very good.  They had clam chowder, which I like.  And lobster bisque.  I never had it before; it a little looked gross to me (pureed lobster in a cream base...eek.)  But it was DELICIOUS.  So creamy, with a buttery lobster flavor.  I wouldn’t mind having that at my wedding reception!  It was so rich that even though we just got these tiny little samples of it, that was enough (at first; I had to get seconds after the next hour, haha).  There were wedding cakes too, and I tried 5 of them, haha.  One place at the bridal trade show was just so so, but the other place had a very unique (and good) carrot cake, and a REALLY rich chocolate wedding cake.

There were no raffles at this bridal trade show (well, I'm sure I'll "win" stuff through email, hah) but I did get a present a pretty nice gift!  When Adam visits at Christmastime we can use them for New Year’s.

We can use them to have our champagne on New Year's!

As we were looking through some sample wedding albums, a photographer was chatting with us.  Somehow my engagement photos came up, and he asked where we had them done, so I said England, and he said, "Oh, so no one I know!"  Heh.  He asked where and actually had heard of Kettering (or lied and pretended to hah).  He asked why we got them in England, and asked if I was "bi-coastal" or something, and I said, "because my fiancé lives in England."

Now, usually at this point, the pat answer from vendors at a bridal show expo is, "Oh, wow."  Or, “That's cool," or something happy and positive, smiling cause the customer is always right and needs to be patronized or whatever.  Instead he said, "Oh!  That SUCKS."  

Hahaha!  I LOVED that!  I said, "It DOES suck!"  Haha  I want Adam to BE HERE during our engagement but I can’t have that.  Instead I’m spending my engagement with these same vendors over and over at each bridal show expo.  So it felt good to just have someone voice that, instead of me smiling and pretending like it's all rainbows when I just really miss Adam.  It validated that it’s okay and normal to feel lonely without him here with me. 

Ethan Allen: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

I was a little wary of a bridal show expo hosted at a furniture store instead of a restaurant because I figured the food wouldn’t be as good.  But when I walked in, it was actually very pretty.

There wasn't LOTS of food at this bridal show expo, but what they did have was very good.  They had clam chowder, which I like.  And lobster bisque.  I never had it before; it a little looked gross to me (pureed lobster in a cream base...eek.)  But it was DELICIOUS.  So creamy, with a buttery lobster flavor.  I wouldn’t mind having that at my wedding reception!  It was so rich that even though we just got these tiny little samples of it, that was enough (at first; I had to get seconds after the next hour, haha).  There were wedding cakes too, and I tried 5 of them, haha.  One place at the bridal trade show was just so so, but the other place had a very unique (and good) carrot cake, and a REALLY rich chocolate wedding cake.

There were no raffles at this bridal trade show (well, I'm sure I'll "win" stuff through email, hah) but I did get a present a pretty nice gift!  When Adam visits at Christmastime we can use them for New Year’s.  We can use them to have our champagne on New Year's!

As we were looking through some sample wedding albums, a photographer was chatting with us.  Somehow my engagement photos came up, and he asked where we had them done, so I said England, and he said, "Oh, so no one I know!"  Heh.  He asked where and actually had heard of Kettering (or lied and pretended to hah).  He asked why we got them in England, and asked if I was "bi-coastal" or something, and I said, "because my fiancé lives in England."

Now, usually at this point, the pat answer from vendors at a bridal show expo is, "Oh, wow."  Or, “That's cool," or something happy and positive, smiling cause the customer is always right and needs to be patronized or whatever.  Instead he said, "Oh!  That SUCKS."

Hahaha!  I LOVED that!  I said, "It DOES suck!"  Haha  I want Adam to BE HERE during our engagement but I can’t have that.  Instead I’m spending my engagement with these same vendors over and over at each bridal show expo.  So it felt good to just have someone voice that, instead of me smiling and pretending like it's all rainbows when I just really miss Adam.  It validated that it’s okay and normal to feel lonely without him here with me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sizing up a Traditional Three Tier Wedding Cake

Besides the hors d’ourves, the next best thing at the bridal shows are the wedding cakes.  I’m not sure exactly what sort of decorations or colors I want, but I AM sure I want a traditional, round, three tier wedding cake for my wedding.  I want my wedding to have lots of traditional elements: fancy white dress, classical music, and to me, nothing says classic wedding like a three tier wedding cake.  So I was excited to find that vendors brought samples of their gourmet cakes to try. 

Spinellis had several gourmet cakes on display.  I wasn’t sure what look I really wanted though.  I thought of my color palette, with the orange, pink, and purple.  Should I get flowers on it?  That does seem to be the trend with gourmet cakes for weddings, it seems.  There was a very pretty three tier wedding cake with orchids cascading down.  I do love orchids.  But I feel like those bold colors I plan for my color scheme are too much of a contrast with the white.  I would prefer the intricate filigree to be the center of attention on the cake.  For me, I think that I want to look across the reception and see my white three tier wedding cake; not the colors, just the silhouette.  I want the close up photos of it to show the elegant filigree decorating it, but I don’t want to see that from far away.  Just nice and subtle.

So I tried the different gourmet cakes at Spinellis.  Instead of going for the chocolate (as usual) I thought the white cake with raspberry mousse frosting.  It really was nice and light with whipped cream mixed in.  It’s no wonder people rave about their cakes at work.  Could do with some sliced strawberries in the center though!  Mom liked the chocolate too, I just figured I’d try the white cake since that’s Adam’s go-to flavor for special events. 

Since Spinellis was my first ever bridal show, I didn’t know what sort of questions to even ask at that point.  After the show some questions started popping up in my mind.  For one thing, if I’m only going to have less than 20 guests, won’t a three tier wedding cake be WAY too big!?  I felt so down about this; I had my heart set on that silhouette.  I started to feel bad about having a small wedding, and wondered what other things I’d end up not being able to do up as grand as I envisioned.

However a month or so later I went to a second bridal show in Haverhill, at the Bradford Country club.  This wasn’t as fun; there was less food, and they stuck us in a tent on a FREEZING night.  I didn’t realize it was going to be outdoors so I didn’t dress for it.  But the one thing that made up for this place was the gourmet cakes that we got to sample.  This one was even better than Spinellis.  It was moist and the frosting was not too sugary.  It was nice and creamy but light.  They were beautiful too, so I asked if they could make a three tier wedding cake for 20 guests, and they said yes!  THAT was a load off my mind.  The dream of my three tier wedding cake was ON!

When I got home that night I looked around online to see what the average price of a wedding cake costs.  It appears that the average price for gourmet cakes is $5 or $6 per slice.  That doesn’t seem too bad, given the importance and design of it.  I saved the information from the baker I enjoyed, but I’ll still shop around.
Photos courtesy of:
Afroswede          Cherry Pi           Frostnova     
Samdogs             Caribou               Daveynin
Soa2002              Donnaphoto     Amy the Nurse
Basykes              Phil_g                   Karla Cakes    


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New England Bridal Show Expo: Bradford Country Club

This New England bridal show expo was not quite as fun as Spinellis.  Oh sure, there was some free food (cheese, veggies and fruit) and the strawberry champagne punch was great.  But the problem I had was the locale.  See, I grew up not far from the Bradford Country Club.  I always envisioned it as a really fancy place, and always wondered what it was like.  So I was excited to get to check the place out.  Mom and I pulled up on to this bridal show expo this chilly October evening, head along the path, and came to…THE TENT.  We didn’t even get to see inside: the whole event took place out in the freezing cold tent.  We weren’t dressed for an outdoor event either.

This bridal trade show event was kind of a blur anyway.  I had been planning to invite my sister along.  I haven’t asked her to be my maid of honor yet, so I thought she might get into the spirit of wedding stuff if she was being fed.  Unfortunately, she was in a car accident (got rear ended.  Twice).  The 3 car pile up was bad enough to make the news.  She was walking around, but in a lot of pain.  But instead of getting her warmed up to the idea, I almost didn’t go because of her.  I felt weird going and having fun after I learned about her and mom spending the afternoon at the hospital.  But they both said there was no point to canceling the trip to the New England bridal show expo; she just needed to go to bed.

So we did the typical bridal trade show stuff like literature collecting from the vendors, tasting some cakes, (found one AMAZING cake) ran into a friend from high school (working the event) and then watched the presentation done by the DJs.  This portion of the bridal show expo felt more like a real wedding reception, which was somewhat of an improvement.  They led people in line dances and cheesy games, and mom had to leave right before the raffles started, but I stayed and froze like a sucker.  I didn't win any raffles tonight, which figures; because there were prizes unlike those at the previous bridal trade show where you get $100 off if you book with them tonight.  Those didn’t help me since I haven’t set a date yet, but these were prizes I could actually have, like gift baskets and cash.  Oh well.  The whole point of going to these things is that I get to marry Adam, so I win every time.  I dropped of some chocolates I got there at mom’s house for my sister, and head home.
Photos courtesy of:
Karen 2873
Kristin a (Meringue Bake Shop)
The People’s Tribune

Monday, October 12, 2009

Looking for a String Quartet for Wedding Music

For my wedding I want classical music.  Maybe a harp, maybe a piano, or even a string quartet for wedding music.  I’d read on a wedding website a while back that to ensure that people don’t expect or miss the dancing, the music being played should be “undanceable.”  So after the terrible DJs at the last bridal show, I had a new found commitment to research classical Massachusetts wedding bands for my wedding.

I started Googling “string quartet for wedding,” “Massachusetts wedding bands,” and “wedding orchestra.”  Most of the websites had music samples available, so I started a word document called “Wedding orchestra” to paste addresses in to listen to later.  Then I created a folder (also titled “wedding orchestra”) for the document as well as samples that I was able to download to listen to later. 

Some of the musicians I listened to included:
  • http://www.newenglandharp.com/wedding-music.htm a harpist.  Hey, when you think of wedding ceremony music, you think light, romantic, angelic, and all those things fit in with a harp.  But when I listened to it, it was a little too plain.  I know I’m just having a small backyard wedding, but I’d like a richer wedding orchestra type sound, I think.
  • http://www.lizary.net/listen.htm was the next one I heard, which also included a harp, and it did have a richer sound.  It helped that she had a violinist or two playing with her. 
  • http://twoofusduo.com/sonare/repertoire.html was another duo, this time with a flute.  I’ve never been fond of flutes, and this didn’t change my mind.  The flutist sounded very breathy.  Although outside from a slight distance that probably wouldn’t be noticeable; I don’t think we’ll have/need amplification.
  • www.intermezzoplayers.com played Pachelbel so beautifully that it made me cry.  They're one of the best wedding orchestra groups that I came across, but was out of our price range for 2 hours.
Most Massachusetts wedding bands websites don’t have a price list.  But from what I saw, hiring a string quartet for wedding music was pricier than a trio (obviously) and having a trio for 3 hours costs right around $1,000.  Hmm.  The costs of a wedding sure do add up FAST.  And although it would be nice to have a wedding orchestra sound, would it be overkill to have 3 musicians for such a small wedding?  It would feel awfully impersonal if the vendors started outnumbering the guest list.  So finally I researched guitars for weddings.  After all, the wedding episode on “How I Met Your Mother” was awfully sweet, with the guitarist playing at the intimate outdoor ceremony.  Sure enough, the cost was closer to $700.  And although the sound isn’t quite as rich as a string quartet for wedding music, it was still pretty nice.

I guess the question I really need to think about is what can I live with more easily.  Having everything I want in my wedding because I’m only doing it once, or spending a ton on one day.  No matter which way I decide, I could end up with wedding day regret, I know.  So for now I’ll just keep price hunting for a trio or string quartet for wedding music and do a bit of soul searching before we actually set a date.
Photos courtesy of:
Nrkbeta             Hans s
Stringbot           Thenobel1
Beige Alert        Spbutterworth

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Checking out Massachusetts Wedding Photographers at the BE Entertainment Expo

I went to another bridal show to check out Massachusetts wedding photographers, and this wedding expo was...interesting.  It was very different from Spinellis.  (Yes, Spinellis will be the bridal show I will hereby gauge all other bridal shows by).  There were way fewer people here, and not as much food (though the cheese and wine was VERY good).  And though I thought it was going to just feature Massachusetts wedding photographers, the company has DJs as well.

So mom and I sat through this DJ’s hour long presentation, when we just wanted to see the wedding albums done by the different Massachusetts wedding photographers.  They played music, did the whole, "How are you all feeling tonight?"  (Which wore thin by the time the 5th guy asked as he came up to introduce himself). And then they did lame stuff getting people up to dance.  UGH.  I told mom after that I didn't even want a DJ, I want a musician(s) playing classical music at my wedding.  She said "Oh thank god, because those guys were terrible."  Haha, I didn't feel like I was a good judge since it's just so not my scene, but there you go. 

The only good that came of the spectacle was when I won a raffle!  Luckily it wasn’t for the DJs, it was for any one of the Massachusetts wedding photographers present.  The trouble was they said I had to book THAT NIGHT, so of course that was out since I can’t set a wedding date yet.  Made me feel a little down that since the visa application process is so at the mercy of the government that I can’t even take advantage of deals by booking early.  But again, it wouldn’t have wanted to be pressured into booking the first Massachusetts wedding photographers company I saw; I need to see what’s out there in terms of price and talent.  It was a shame though, because it was a good prize: a $150 "parents" wedding album.  Oh well. 

Once the silly program was over it was REALLY interesting seeing the photos/albums done by different photographers.  One of the Massachusetts wedding photographers albums I looked at was, well, lousy.  Lots of blurry photos.  I guess some think that’s artistic, but I think wedding photos can be nice and crisp and still artsy, but blurry photos look like you don’t know how to keep your camera still.  Talking to the photographer was awkward too, because I didn't know what to ask. He asked, "Do you like candids or posed photos?"  Uhhh?  I never thought about that.  I just picked one, (apparently the wrong one) because he said, "Well that can get boring after a while" and turned around to talk to someone else instead!

I didn’t realize photographers had different “specialties;” I thought they take some photos of the couple, some of the family standing in front of somewhere pretty, pictures of the ceremony, and pictures at the reception.  So basically I expect that the photographer will do both.  Is that too much to ask?  Besides, it might be boring to HIM since he's shot (presumably) dozens or hundreds of weddings, but this is going to be my one and only.  I want all the classic shots, and if that means boring to the rest of the world, so be it.  I'll cherish it always.

Another of the Massachusetts wedding photographers were equally as rude to me, but for a completely different reason.  He asked me when my wedding is, and when I told him August 15 2011, he said, “Oh,” and just turned around to talk to someone else.  Again, this was NOT a really big bridal show, so while I understand that they want to get as many clients as possible, I was pretty shocked that they’d ignore me just because I’m looking so far in advance!

The next Massachusetts wedding photographers album I looked at was really strange.   Few, if any, of his photos were straight on.  And to make things even more strange, he seemed to be overly into the Photoshopping.  He used this effect, like “bloat” or something, so that the walls seemed to curve, and it just looked trippy.  And others had the lighting exaggerated so it looked like a rainbow was vaporizing in the forefront.  Just awful. 

I was about to give up.  The photos Adam and I took on our trips through England were better than these; maybe I’d be happier with an amateur taking pictures at my wedding.  When finally, I looked through one of the Massachusetts wedding photographers album and it was EXCELLENT.  He clearly had a nice sense of balance and composition.  None of them were blurry.  I told him that his were the best photos I’d seen, and he was very nice and outgoing.  He told me that he isn’t obtrusive at the reception, but he will ask someone to move a beer out of the way if he thinks it will improve the shot.  That’s the guy I want.  He’s going to make my wedding photos look good.  I got a price list and I'll keep his name, but I still plan shop around at these bridal expos to see equally talented Massachusetts wedding photographers for cheaper.

Photos courtesy of:
Deusxflorida                                                                Joanna8555               Wili_hybrid
Wedding Photography by Jon Day             Hotmeteor                    W C Lybbert
Wedding Photography by Jon Day             Tobyotter                      W C Lybbert
Wedding Photography by Jon Day             Charles Chan            W C Lybbert
Wedding Photography by Jon Day             Jerry Liu                       W C Lybbert
Joanna8555                                                                 Yummiec00kies       

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Researching Homes for a Backyard Wedding Reception

I was getting closer to deciding on the perfect location to marry Adam.  I had realized a vacation home would be my best bet for a backyard wedding reception and ceremony.  Since I wanted an outdoor small wedding, with fewer than 20 people, this seemed like something I could make elegant and exactly to my tastes, and it would be economical to have Adam's family stay there for a week.  So it was time to start looking at vacation homes online.  I used several websites in my search:   www.vacationrentals.com, www.vrbo.com, and www.homeaway.com. and I mostly stuck with the following criteria:

  • 3+ bedrooms
  • Seaside community
  • Scenic outdoors
  • Good looking indoors

I figured I needed at least 3 bedrooms to accommodate Adam’s family.  A fourth bedroom wouldn’t hurt, in case his best friend is able to make the journey from England to Massachusetts for us.  And if the place is far enough from my condo, a fifth bedroom would be good so we could stay overnight.

At first I started looking at some seaside communities, because I’d love to have a backyard wedding reception near a beach for photos.  I didn’t want to traipse through sand during the ceremony, but after might be nice.  So I started looking at houses on Cape Cod with space for an outdoor small wedding, and worked my way up.  I looked in Plymoth, Chatham and Dennis, which were all beautiful. 

Then mom told me that Cape Cod would be WAY too far for me.  She knows I hate driving, so I needed something closer.  I looked in Salem, but there’s pretty much no yards in Salem.  If I wanted a gorgeous historical building Salem would be great, but I couldn’t have a backyard wedding reception there.  I tried Salisbury since that’s closer to her, but the yards all sandy, not gardens.  Newburyport just didn’t have much available.  I looked in Glouster, and finally Rockport.  These places are much closer, and have some pretty nice spaces for an outdoor small wedding.

As I looked at dozens (/hundreds?) of houses, I made notes on the price, bedrooms, and the look.  Though a scenic outdoor space for the backyard wedding reception is the most important thing for me, at this point I still wasn’t sure exactly what my priority was for the outdoors: Ocean? Garden? Lake? Trees? Lawn? Architecture/exterior paint color?  I made haphazard notes on all those things.  I guess in a way it’s good: by not having my heart set on one thing, maybe I’ll be happy with whatever?  But in a way it’s not good, because of course deep down I want it ALL.  But for now, I’m just gathering information and seeing what’s out there for what price point.  For now, looking at all these pretty places and getting a vision for my outdoor small wedding is fun.

Now the INSIDE is so much easier to decide on.  Some of these places are so rustic that they were a definite no.  No offense to the brides who are going that route: I understand that’s very big this season, it’s just not what I’m looking for.  Wood paneled walls, floors, and ceilings don’t say elegant to me, and I’m going for elegant.  I don’t like the typical blue and white interior either.  That’s very relaxing, and would fit a beach theme wedding I know, but I like the neutrals and warm colors instead.  So all in all, I’m not sure yet what I want for my backyard wedding reception, but I sure know what I DON’T want.   

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ideas for Wedding Reception Activities

Not only was I unsure of a wedding venue, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for a reception.  I thought of a wedding reception as a dinner followed by dancing.  I don’t really like dances so much; I mean, I’d love to slow dance with Adam, but after that, it would be hours of loud music.  Adam likes dancing even less.  And because it’s a small wedding, I know most of the people invited are unattached, so we’d be the only ones slow dancing.  No, this wouldn’t work.  I needed ideas for other wedding reception activities. 

So I spent some time Googling around for wedding reception activities instead of dancing.  I searched for: “wedding reception no dancing.”  And I actually found ideas on lots of different wedding websites that I noted as alternatives to dinner + dancing = reception: 

Rejects from various wedding websites:
  • Boat: Good chance Adam and I will already be queasy with nerves, no sense adding seasickness to the mix
  • Clam bake: Too casual
  • Barbeque: Too casual.  Also, barbeque sauce + expensive white gown?  I think not.
My kind of wedding reception activities:
  • Brunch
  • Croquet, bocce ball, badminton or horseshoes
  • Lunch at a nice restaurant with a good view
  • Cards and board games
  • Swimming/hot tub
That’s IT!  All these wedding reception activities are really homey.  Not MY home, not mom’s home, but a vacation home could have any of these amenities!  I think this is the way to go!  We could get married outside, and then have people all over the house for the reception instead of all in the same room with us.  I could decorate prior, and set up activities.  I could have maps with the locations of each of the wedding reception activities for the guests.  I’d set up the brunch so they get the maps at beginning of the table.  It would all be homey and comfortable.  No driving from one thing to the other.  Maybe we could even have some computer games in one room, like Wii bowling.  Cape Cod would have really nice ocean side vacation homes.  We could have our honeymoon in the same house or take a limo to nearby hotel.  If I rent it for the week I’ll have time to set up whatever I want, or 2 days might be more economical.  Things were really falling into place!

Then I saw another tidbit on one of the wedding websites I found.  Someone mentioned that the entertainment should be “undanceable.”  So instead of hiring a band, have instruments, such as a string quartet.


Adam and I both love classical music, and that would make a perfect backdrop to all the low key wedding reception activities going on!

Then I had a third revelation:  Adam’s family can stay in the house instead of a hotel!  They should come the week before so I can entertain them!  Then we can have a rehearsal dinner, they can enjoy the house for a few days, then they leave the day after the wedding since Adam and I will go on honeymoon.  My mom and brother could get them to the airport, probably.  Wow, it would be amazing to be able to return the hospitality that his family gave me when Adam first met, and the following summer.  Cooking for them in a beautiful house would be so much nicer than having them stuck in hotel rooms for the duration.  This would be cozier and probably more economical than renting an over-sized function hall for a day.

This created a lot of questions in my mind, though. 
  • Should I get en extra bedroom so I could stay there with them, or drive in every day? 
  • Would his parents be comfortable staying in the same house since they’re fairly recently divorced?
  • Where would they like to visit once they’re here?
  • How does the breaking down of the wedding/cleanup happen?  Do I hire a wedding coordinator just for that even if I do all the booking and designing myself?
  • What “stuff” do I need since this isn’t the typical all inclusive wedding venue?
I really hope I’m not setting myself up for more stress with this idea, because it really does seem perfect for what I need.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Considering Different Weddings Venues in Massachusetts

At first I wasn’t really sure what sort of wedding I wanted. I know I want the white dress, the white cake, and the groom to be Adam.  But otherwise…not sure.  I wasn’t sure what’s out there in terms of small wedding venues in Massachusetts.  My mom and coworkers tried to talk me into getting married in England, so they’d have an excuse to visit.  But as beautiful as the countryside where Adam’s from is, there were two big reasons why I don’t think that’s best.  The first is that I don’t see how I could feasibly plan it.  I wouldn’t be able to see anything firsthand, or taste the food or cakes.  And dealing with all the currency conversion and exchange rates would make everything way more expensive.  But also I really want to stick with wedding venues in Massachusetts because I want Adam’s family to be able to come here and see Adam’s new home, and a little bit of the area where he’ll be living.

So once we decided on which country to get married in, I started to think about what sort of venue I wanted.  I didn’t want a church wedding because I’m just not a church goer and wouldn’t feel comfortable in one.  Since I want a small wedding venue for less than 20 guests, I wasn’t sure I wanted it in a huge reception hall like Spinellis, as beautiful as it is in there.  Other than a friend from college who did both of those things for her ceremony and reception, my only other wedding experience was outdoors.  I was just a kid, but I remember some uncle had their wedding in the backyard.  We all stood and watched the ceremony.  I don’t remember anything else.  Just that it was a nice warm sunny day.  I kind of like that idea.  I started thinking about different outdoor wedding venues in Massachusetts.

Someone at work had a beach wedding.  Nice sunny day, relaxing waves, salty air, and golden sand?  I do like that.  I’m certain there’s plenty of wedding venues in Massachusetts that are on the ocean.  But as much as I love the beach, I love to be in my bathing suit on the beach.  I didn’t think I’d like to be in an elegant wedding gown in the sand.  Plus seeing as how I used to work at the beach as a lifeguard, I decided I didn’t want to go that route for a wedding venue.  No, the backyard idea was more appealing for a small wedding venue.

The backyard I knew when I was a child would have been kind of pretty.  There was a nice lawn, with apple trees in the back, and tiger lilies all along the house.  Not bad.  The problem is, the trees are gone and a house was built on top of them.  There’s a lot LESS yard now than there was, since “our backyard” was actually the neighbor’s, she just let us play on it.  And she sold it.  So that wasn’t an option.  And my condo has no yard at all.

Mom told me that she got married in a park, not far from where I live.  That did sound very nice and pretty, but public.  No, I’d really rather a private, intimate ceremony at a small wedding venue without people gawking at us.  I knew Adam would like that even less, so I didn’t even ask.  No, I needed to give this some thought.  It needs to be small, but elegant.  But I just don’t know the first place to look for wedding venues in Massachusetts that are small enough to accommodate just immediate family and close friends.

Without a venue, it’s kind of hard to imagine what my wedding is going to look like.  Here I thought just finding Mr. Right is the hard part, hah.  Again, I decided it’s best not to get my hopes up envisioning something before I know how to make it a reality.  Maybe the bridal shows I register for will feature a few different wedding venues in Massachusetts. 
Photo courtesy of:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bridal Trade Show: Spinellis

Since we’re going to be at the mercy of immigration when it comes to planning a wedding, and due to a personal family situation we can’t start that process yet, Adam has said it’s too early to start planning a wedding.

And out of respect for his wishes, I don’t let on that it’s all I think about in my spare time.

So being a total noob when it comes to planning a wedding, I started Googling around.  First I looked up florists.  Yup.  Got a list of florists in Massachusetts.  Um.  Okay, I guess I try cakes now.  Right, these places make cakes.  Great.  I didn’t have much direction at this point.  And by the way, florists and wedding cake bakeries don’t put prices on their website just to make things more difficult.  But as I was clicking around hoping for pictures or something to feed my wedding-lust, I came upon Spinellis website.  Spinellis is a restaurant not too far from where I work, and the teachers and parents rave about their cakes, so I looked at their site, and found a whole wedding section.  And then, at the top of the page, I saw a banner saying “click here to register for the New England Bridal Show.”


So I did, and I learned there are actually THREE bridal shows hosted by New England Bride, and one of those was near me too.  And they are free.  And I can bring a guest.  So I put +1 and called mom and she said she’d love to go.

Now, I had been to a business expo before.  So I figured similarly, at a bridal trade show that there would be tables, and you’d get a bag, and people at the tables would give you pamphlets and maybe a piece of candy or pen or whatever.  And they basically had a room just like that.  Only pretty and wedding-y.

What I was NOT prepared for at my first bridal trade show was the other room.  There were no vendors in there.  Just FOOD.  So much food!  A waiter was walking around with glasses of champagne with a strawberry on the rim.  Followed by more waiters, with all sorts of little hors d’oeuvres.  And then there was a carving station, where we could try the chicken saltimbocca.  And the pasta station with a tomato sauce and one with a cream sauce.  And the samples of wedding cake.  And the dessert buffet that took up about 4 tables.  I could not believe this.  Registration for the bridal trade show was free, and all this food was just free for the taking?  We had SO much fun. 

Eventually we DID go to the other room to talk to the vendors.  The other surprise for the evening was we were given a sheet of stickers with my contact information on it, and as we went to each table there were raffle tickets to stick them on.  I didn’t win anything, but I was impressed with the system the New England bridal show used because I didn’t have to write my name 50 times.  It was a good setup.  And I am well aware that the point of these is for vendors to send me a ton of their junk mail, at least I gave a rarely used Email address to cut down on some of it. 

So I collected brochures, pamphlets and cards, smiled and nodded politely at the vendors.  After all, I had no idea what I was doing.  So while they had hundreds of other girls to introduce themselves to, I had a buffet line to get back to. 
Photo courtesy of:
Emery Co Photo

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Choosing August Wedding Flowers

Choosing August wedding flowers was more fun than I thought it was going to be.  When I was younger, I used to hate flowers.  First of all, I had horrible allergies, so when I’d walk into a room and get a whiff I’d hold my breath and duck out in fear of triggering the watery eyes and wheezing from the pollen.  Second, since they die, I thought that was a TERRIBLE gift for a romantic relationship.  “My love for you is like this rose.  It’ll last a week tops, even if you care for it properly.”  I never thought I’d care so much about which were the best wedding flowers.

But here I am, caring.

With my color palette in mind, I first Googled “August wedding flowers.”  I wanted to see what flowers were in season in August, because I heard you can get the best wedding flowers prices when you get them in season.  Which makes sense.  I started saving those pictures in a folder on my computer called “wedding.”  There were several different August wedding flowers I liked, fortunately.  There were purple Gladiolus and red Tuberose, neither of which I’d heard of, but they looked nice, and came in the right colors.

But for me, the best wedding flowers I saw were the lilies.  Not the trendy calla lilies that are so popular this year (though they are nice too).  I like the big huge blossoms that look like stars, in orange, or even deep pink.  I actually saw one bridal bouquet of nothing but deep pink lilies.  No other flowers, no greenery, no Queen Anne’s lace, no frills.  Just a handful of star-flowers.  That simple bouquet of deep pink lilies is one of my favorite images of August wedding flowers.  I saved lots of others, and even some fall arrangements just in case I have a change of heart (or date!)

Once I knew which singular flowers were good for an August wedding in New England, I started looking at wholesale online florists for ideas on how bouquets are created.  I thought about how these flowers would look together as a whole composition.  The lilies could be orange or pinkish-red.  The tuberose was a nice red color, and the Gladiolus come in purple.  I think these were the best wedding flowers for me because they were all different enough shapes that they'd look good together in a bouquet, I thought.  So I drew a sketch to see.

Yeah, that could work!
Photos courtesy of:
James Jordan    Corey Leopold
Galif548             KaCey97007
Wolfpix              Audreyjm529 

The1pony          Faeparsons
The Gifted Photographer
Barbara L. Hanson
Galif548           J Wynia    

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Choosing Colors for a Wedding

One of the first things I thought about after Adam proposed was a wedding color scheme.  I love looking at color schemes.  If things went just a little bit differently in my life, I think I’d have pursued a career in interior design instead of teaching.  So I was excited to start choosing colors for a wedding.

My first love when it comes to color schemes is actually fall colors.  I love the warm colors:  red, burnt orange, all shades of brown from beige to chocolate to clay.  I love gold and warm greens like sage.  All those colors are in my home, and they make me feel comfortable.

I just had 3 small problems: 

1. I want a wedding during summer vacation.
2. Adam loves purple.
3. I don’t like fall colors next to white.


First I tried to think of how I could incorporate red, brown, and orange into my theme and end up with it still looking like August wedding colors.

But it seemed purple would look out of place in that color palette.  I decided that if I was going to use Adam’s favorite color (and I wanted to do that for him) then I should pick ONE color I wanted with it, and the third (or more) color would influence the seasonal feeling of the color palette.  I'd just have to make sure that third color didn't clash with the other two and was popular for August wedding colors.  So I looked around online at the best wedding colors for some inspiration.

I decided that above all, I wanted orange, since it's more cheerful and less cliche than pink. Plus there were plenty of orange flowers in the photos of August wedding colors I found.  Now, at first I felt scared, because orange and purple sound like clown colors.  But I thought since both colors have some red in them, my third color could tone down the contrast if it was a variation of red.  Since deep rose red (as much as I like that color) was more for winter winter weddings than for August wedding colors, I decided on a deep coral instead.  The three colors together are very vibrant, but don’t overpower each other so they’ll be elegant.  The orange will make it feel warm, but the vibrant colors are more summery, not too fall like.  And I could use gold or champagne with chocolate brown as a neutral. 

Yes, I think with the right flowers, these would make nice wedding colors for summer.  


Photos courtesof: 
Ellev8studeio           linh.ngan
Berriehol                          Arpana Sanjay           Russelljsmith
Egor.gribanov                    Egor.gribanov           Stereogab
Joanna8555                       Berriehol                 Paul L. Nettles
Ewen and donabel              Berriehol                 Tracy Hunter     
Caitlinscottphototgraphy     Bah humbug            Tracy Hunter    
Sweet Clementine              Emilie raguso           Stereogab       
Dashes Clay                     AMP PHOTO         AMP PHOTO
Elev8studio                      George Jonathan       Emilie raguso
AMP PHOTO                  AMP PHOTO          Emilie raguso 

Readers, what is your relationship status?