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:
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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:,, and 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

Readers, what is your relationship status?