Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New England Bridal Show: Black Country Club, Georgetown, MA

I won!

If you’ve ever been to a bridal show expo, you’ll know that they always have raffles at the end of the night?  And usually they're crappy, like a discount, not an actual thing you get free and clear?

Well I won $200 cash!

A lot of the expos I go to are actually New England Bridal shows.  At the end of every one of their bridal shows they pull 5 names for people to win $200.  So mom and I were sitting there doing our usual thing as the lame raffles started.  I'd say "I didn't enter that, I don't want botox for free, never mind half off and I have to pay the other half," or "I didn't even want to put my name in that photographer's raffle cause his photos are terrible, but when he asked me outright I didn't want to tell him that, so if they call my name pretend it's not me."  Haha, I'm not ALL sour grapes, but I don't get my hopes up. 

And there was one that was $1000 off a venue (the country club we were at) so I said to mom that if they called me I'd have to pretend it wasn't me, because the place would be too big for me to use, so in good conscience I didn't want to take that $1000 from someone who really wanted to use the place: that's an AMAZING discount if you're going to book the place, it's just not for me."  So immediately after they pulled that name, they they announced they were doing the cash prizes next.   Mom said, "You wouldn't turn THAT down, now would you?"  And I said no, no I would not.  And she teased, "Even if someone else couldn't get it?"  And I said, "I'd just have to learn to live with the guilt."  And the guy announced "I'm going to butcher this last name..." and called me! 

A jolt went through me and I yelled, jumped up and ran up before they thought I wasn't there and called someone else, haha :D  CASH MONEY.  First one up!  Concidering all the little winnings I've accumulated, I figure if we put off this wedding another couple years I might be able to get the whole thing for free, haha.

The food at the Black Swan Country Club (with their on-site restaurant, Keon's) was good too.  It started out slow.  There was little veggies in a wonton that was boring.  Mom got something that looked like catfood but I missed it (till it came around again later and tasted like catfood.  But with mustard).  Then we saw a cheese and fruit spread, which was better than nothing but still disappointing.  Then we saw a little dessert table which was exciting, but, well, we were hoping for actual dinner stuff, hehe.  Well, finally we went in the other room and discovered the REAL food. 

I had prime rib (OMG YUM), shrimp, and grilled veggies.  It was all cold unfortunately, but the beef and veg were so tasty it didn't even matter.  And for dessert I got a small canoli, chocolate covered strawberry, and a little cup of chocolate mousse.  And when I say "cup," I mean "cup-shaped chocolate shell that contained chocolate mousse."  So yummy.  Then later they came around with mango chicken (a little dry but hey, this is all free, so I can deal) and this awesome little hors d’orves with blue cheese, cranberry, and walnut on a pastry.  I wish there were more of those!!  Oh, and a little crabcake.  So yeah, Keons was great.  It wasn't THE tastiest, compared to other bridal shows (Spinellis beats all) but it was a LOT of fun.  They had a nice variety of stuff, so I call that a successful show.  I mean, I ate so much that by the time we found the wedding cake I was too full to have a slice!  A crime, I know, but the canoli took priority. 

I never thought I'd actually win one of the grand prizes cause I'm not lucky that way.  But I guess after 2 years and all the shows I’ve attended I was bound to eventually.  And after the first show where I just didn’t really know the drill or what to expect at bridal shows, I always stay just in case (cause you have to be present at the end when they pull the names to win).  So brides to be, keep your eyes peeled for free bridal trade shows in your area because they are a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On Vacation: Auto-Update

I get to see my fiance twice per year.

This is one of those times.  *beams*

I've actually been here in England since July 10!  I'm setting this post to auto-update on a Friday during my trip, since I tend to post my wedding planning progress on Fridays.  If and when you DO read this post, thanks for being a loyal reader, and I'll be back to read and write blogs at the end of August!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Choosing from Different Wedding Veil Styles

I just bought a wedding veil on an impulse.

Kinda like how I bought my wedding dress, actually.

I thought wedding planning was a stressful and agonizing process? 

But no, this was pretty easy.  And I suppose it wasn’t a TOTAL impulse.  See, I first started thinking about wedding veils when I was trying on wedding dresses.  The salesperson wanted to sell me a…I mean, let me see how a veil would look with my dress.  The veils she put on me didn’t seem extraordinary.  Big sheet of tulle.  And the prices were kind of crazy.  I wasn’t going to drop another $100 or so for those.  Sure the dress buying process is emotional, but I have a little bit more self control than that.  (Really hard to say no to those tiaras though…)

Well, fast forward a bit.  I came across a wedding website that was having a giveaway for a custom made bridal veil.  Part of the contest requirements was to tell what you were looking for in a veil.  So, knowing how outrageous veil prices can be, that seemed like a contest worth trying for!  So I spent some time researching different wedding veil styles.  I learned about bridal illusion and organza.  I looked at beaded, lined, and lace veils.  I looked at elbow, fingertip, and cathedral veils.  And in the end I think my entry sounded like this:
“Thank you for this opportunity!  My dream wedding veil would need to be ivory to match my gown.  My favorite veils are 3 tier veils because to me, they seem to mimic the shape of a traditional wedding cake, and I want a very traditional wedding.  It would be a bridal illusion veil so I could use the top tier as a blusher.  And since my dress has a lot of intricate beading in the bodice, instead of competing with the beading, I’d like just a simple pencil trim.  I think that would look elegant and give it just enough structure.”

Wedding veil styles noob to pro in a matter of hours.  I was pretty proud of myself.

I didn’t win though.

So fast forward to this week.  I was in A.C. Moore looking for ribbon for gifts for Adam’s family (for hosting me for the whole summer) and “accidentally” ended up in the wedding isle.  And I just happened upon a “child’s veil.” 

So it was just a little version of a bridal veil?

I’m kinda little. 

It was $12.

I had $12.

So I grabbed the veil and a ton of sparkly white and silvery seed beads and tried it on at home.  (No, I didn’t try it on with my wedding dress: not until I lose another 5 pounds). 

Well, I wasn’t 100% thrilled with the veil.  For one thing, it really was very short.  If I was wearing a tea length wedding dress, which is pretty hot right now, I bet it would have looked cute.  But I don’t have the dress or legs for that.  And another issue I had with the veil is the fact that there was a ball of tulle at the top that didn’t look so cute.  In their defense, the picture on the box discloses that perfectly well, I was just hoping it wouldn’t look as bad in real life.  So I returned my “priced right veil” and all the beads.  FYI, the veil WITH all the beads was about $32. 

So I finally broke down and looked on Etsy.  Blogging brides have raved about Etsy.  I’ve just been too scared to look on it.  It just seemed so vast, and have so many hidden treasures where would I start?  And more importantly, if I started, would I be able to stop?

I started with the search function (Duh, why did I stress that before looking at the site?) and typed in the sort of wedding veil I was looking for.  And 8 veils popped up.  Just 8.  Not 327 generic pages of all different wedding veil styles for me to flick through all night.  (Partly relieved, partly disappointed).  And one of those 8 had the following description:

*Ivory (nice)
*3 tier (excellent)
*Bridal illusion (what I wanted for a blusher)
*Delicate pencil trim

Ding ding ding ding!

Price:  $42.

So for an extra $10, I don’t have to spend hours embellishing the edge with hand sewn beads which I didn’t even want in the first place.

I waited until after my shower (to give me time to think, since I worry that impulse buying for my wedding could become an expensive habit if I’m not careful).  But the more I pondered, the more I thought, “I’m not going to find a wedding veil that's cheaper and is exactly what I said I wanted.”  And considering I hadn’t changed my mind in the months that passed between entering that contest and today, there was no reason to wait.  The seller’s feedback regarding the quality of the wedding veils was nothing but positive.  There were a few bad reviews about speed of delivery, but I’m not in a hurry to receive it, so even if I was one of the unlucky few (out of 98% positive) it would not be a real problem for me. 

I gots myself a veil!
Photos courtesy of:

Lee J Haywood  

David Chartier  
YourDreamTouch Photography

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Amber's (Blog Award Winning) Story

Thank you to JEM (Aqua Bride)  for selecting me for "The Gorgeous Blogger Award!" That was a nice surprise. I've been following her blog for a while now for inspiration, and now her wedding is less than 3 months away.  Very exciting!

The rules:
  • Accept and thank the person who gave it to you
  • List 10 things about yourself
  • List 5 additional things you DON'T like
  • Then pick ten people to give this lovely award to
So this post will take a break from the typical wedding planning process.  Allow me to (further) introduce myself!
  1. I teach fourth grade.  I've been at this school for 4 years, and this is currently my most difficult year at this school.
  2. I have 2 cats who hate each other and fight all the time but I love them both.
  3. I live on a coastal city in Massachusetts and I love it here.
  4. My fiance's name is Adam, and he lives in England (more on that here).
  5. I bought my own home before I was 30, and I'm proud of that :)
  6. I was a lifeguard for years and taught swimming.  That's what made me decide I wanted to be a teacher.
  7. I can draw (I drew my avatar).
  8. I am obsessed with Glee.
  9. I'm half Portuguese and I look the part.
  10. I spend WAY too much time on the internet!
I don't like:
  1. Having my time wasted.  Like meetings where we are required to meet but there's nothing that needs to be said.  (And yet 3 days later, we find that we need to discuss something but there's no meeting scheduled then.  GAH!)
  2. Living 3,000 miles away from my fiance.
  3. Wine.  I wish I did, because people look so sophisticated drinking it, but there's very few I can even tolerate the taste of, never mind enjoy.
  4. Driving.
  5. Only being able to choose 10 bloggers for this award.
I'm awarding this to:
  1. Amour, Amour:  Great fashion inspiration, since I'm still looking for ideas on bridesmaid dresses (I want to give my maid of honor some choices) 
  2. Confessions of an Indecisive Bride:  Her fiance lives in England too! 
  3. Anne Ruthmann Anne was very kind to me, and pointed me in the direction of some day-of-wedding coordinators.  Her wedding photography is beautiful too.
  4. Cake Journal:  As you can guess, gorgeous cakes! 
  5. Globetrotting Bride: Great inspiration for all things wedding and travel.   
  6. With This Ring:  Pretty inspiration photos
  7. Burning River Bride:  Good common sense advice for wedding planning 
  8. Snippet and Ink:  More daily inspiration 
  9. Dog n Bird:  She was one of the first people to comment regularly on my blog.  I really appreciate the support she gave me when I was a new blogger. 
  10. Red (Her wedding is TODAY!  Wish her luck for a beautiful day!)
Thanks again, Aqua Bride.  It's really nice to know that people are not only reading my blog, but also enjoying it.  It's great to be part of a community of brides who share their ideas about all the little details that tend to bore family and friends who are NOT planning their weddings.  This way I can still indulge myself without the guilt!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Macy's Wedding Gift Registry Event

Tonight mom and I went to Macy’s wedding gift registry event.  When they’d first called to tell me about it they called it, “date night,” so I wasn’t sure it was the sort of thing I could bring mom to. They mentioned dinner for “the two of you.” Which seemed odd because though they said on my answering machine to please RSVP so they’d have enough food, I couldn’t imagine eating dinner in Macy’s.  Well it turns out they gave us a gift certificate for food, and had munchies there. Very decent munchies though! Fruit kebabs, stuffed chicken breast with a plum sauce, little crackers with an apricot spread and blue cheese crumbles, cheese and crackers, and for dessert a raspberry crumb bar and a chocolate brownie that was more like fudge than brownie. Yum. The “mocktails” were lousy, but there was bottled water too, so all in all, totally worth the trip.

As for the actual gift registry…that didn’t go so smoothly. We were greeted and brought over to a computer desk where they took my name and contact info. As usual when they asked for Adam’s as well I just told them, “England. So for simplicity’s sake, you can just put the same as mine.” Haha. Then the woman showed me a printout and asked, “Could you just verify this is correct?”

I looked and said “This is not correct. That’s not my name.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure that’s not my name.”

I said it jokingly.  But mom looked like she was going to wet herself, so the poor saleswoman seemed to be nervous and overwhelmed so I felt bad even though I said it lightheartedly. It wasn’t a big deal; I knew she just grabbed a different girl’s paper off the printer. But I just felt really laid back about the whole wedding gift registry thing. I don’t need gifts for my wedding; I have everything I need already so I’d almost prefer wedding guests just buy us thoughtful little trinkets than a cooling rack for baking. And Adam’s family probably won’t be using our registry since I don’t think there are Macys in England. I’m really only planning to tell people about my wedding registry if they ask about it. I was just there for the free food tonight!

Well, we went around with the scanning gun anyway, and at first it was a little agonizing to find anything I need/want, but eventually I got into the swing of things. We just about finished when the woman came over and said, “Stop! Hold on, let me check your scanner!” She looked and turned to a tall blond and said, “Yes, this is it, this is your scanner.” The blond looked at me and said, “So you’re going to need to start over.” Before I could say, “Huh?” the saleswoman said, “We will take care of it. You can come on back here with us,” and led the blond away. The other saleswoman started tinkering with the scanner and explained that everything I scanned was showing up on the blond’s registry! They were confirming it with her and saw things kept appearing. So they got me a new gun (a nice small one as opposed to the clunker that was hurting my back it was so huge) and said I could keep going.

Well, I was more than done at that point. I scanned one more gift item since I figured if I didn’t they’d think they upset me, which they didn’t, or else they’d get all nervous that my new items weren’t showing up on the registry, which I didn’t need either. And we head back to the desk.

They were all aflutter at this point, the saleswoman started saying something really loud and upset about the blond, to the point where the other hushed her. She was saying things like she didn’t know how I ended up with the wrong gun and didn’t know who gave it to me.

I know how I got the wrong gun.

And I have a feeling she knew too. First of all, she gave it to me; I doubt she’d have denied that. But when she gave me that paper at the beginning and I told her that was not my name, I wasn’t sure, but I thought she scanned the barcode on it, instead of on mine. That’s why my things went on the wrong girl’s wedding gift registry. I wasn’t certain she scanned the wrong one at the time or I’d have said something, but it would explain why that happened.

So I just smiled and said, “It’s fine, take your time, I’ll just have a seat and enjoy my brownie.” At which point all the salespeople laughed and relaxed, even asked me if I wanted a bottled water, and it was all fine. Just like when I registered at Pottery Barn I got the, “Is this ALL you wanted to register for!?” And I reminded them that I’ll have less than 25 guests, plus I own my own home so I have everything I need. At least at Macys they were a lot less judgmental/pushy because she said, “Oh that’s fine, I just wanted to make sure.”

Well, before I left, she asked another saleswoman to get her “a bag,” and told me she wanted to give me a little gift to make up for the mix up. Again, I just smiled and said that’s very nice of her and thanked her. What I got was a very nice looking red tote bag, as well as a beautiful pair of wine glasses!  So pair that with the free food and $50 gift card to a restaurant, and I’d say the Macys wedding gift registry event was a productive evening!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New England Bridal Show: Andover Country Club

The show itself was kind of same old same old at this point.  Mostly the same wedding vendors were there and I didn't win anything.  Classic Tuxedo tried to suck me into talk me into making an appointment to look at their store until I told them, “I already did and rented from you, thanks!”  They laughed an gave me a  thumbs up. 

I saw the photographer’s studio that I want for my wedding was represented, and both wedding florists that are located right near me that I’ll probably be choosing from. 

For refreshments the Andover Country Club served…some mashed potatoes. And for dessert:  Bananas Foster.  Meh.   As for the wedding cakes, one bakery’s cake was a nightmare (visually TERRIBLE, and just meh in terms of taste) but the other was not bad.   

The only new vendor that stood out was the ice sculpture from Brilliant Ice Sculpture.  Wow.  I'm not talking some cheesy swan or something.  This thing was a block of ice with stuff frozen inside of it all artistic like, like martini glasses and strawberries and flowers.  And a chute that you can pour your drink down, with a place to put your glass in and catch the drink as it swirls down the chute.  Amazing!  At $200 I don't think it's an expense I need to be taking on for my summer wedding, but if I'd won one in the raffle I sure wouldn't have said no!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Looking at Gold Wedding Rings

After the Pottery Barn wedding registry event, I finished off the day with a little shoe shopping and then I poked around in a couple jewelry stores to try on wedding rings.  Very fun. 

I think the first jewelry store I went to to look at gold wedding bands was Belden, but I had more luck in Zales.  I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted:  a two tone gold wedding band with a twist effect to match my engagement ring.  But once I tried it on with my round solitaire it did not look nice at all!  I felt pretty disappointed.  I don't know if it's because my engagement ring is 18K gold and this was 10K or 14K, or if having more than one twist meant too much going on at once or what.  But it was not doing it for me.

The gold wedding band I did like was a pretty classic channel setting, with round stones.  It was slim, and a half caret.   

The ultra slim ones did not look nice at all, and the wider ones of course were competing too much with my solitaire.   

 Nice, but too much.

But I liked the slim channel ring, and it wasn’t much of a problem sitting against my engagement ring.  Also, the salesperson offered to clean my engagement ring (but I’d just cleaned it last night) and told me that if a diamond fell out of my band they’d replace it for free.  That’s something I need to seriously discuss with Adam.  If we buy a wedding band in England I won’t have that luxury.  I do enjoy looking at rings with him, but maybe it’s not work the potential problems years down the road.  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wedding Registry: Pottery Barn, Peabody Massachusetts

Every once in a while I start to feel a little blue about the whole long distance relationship thing.  You’d think I’d be used to it.  You’d think that being engaged would make me feel like being apart is a temporary setback.  And of course it has helped!  But I guess it’s only normal to miss the one you love.  So being smack dab in the middle of visits (saw Adam at Christmas, visiting him in July, and it’s currently the end of March) I’ve found myself in a bit of a funk.  Hence the blog-writing hiatus.  Planning my wedding was feeling a little like I was torturing myself instead of cheering me up.

Well, today I had myself a little “bridal day.”  Pottery Barn was having a little bridal expo.  I actually got to start my first registry, which was kind of exciting.  I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the show, since the wedding is so far away.  In fact, I have been sort of anti-registry for a while.  I think it’s a little rude to tell people what you want them to get you unless they ask.  But people DO ask.  I like to ask people what they’d like.  I want to be sure the gift I give is one that the person will actually enjoy, so I’m sure there are others like me.  I think I might not include the registry information in with the invitation though; I’ll only tell people who ask.

It was kind of fun going around with the scanner.  I didn’t select a ton of things because, well, I’m a professional supporting myself so I own everything I need.  And if I see something I’m lacking, I tend to buy it, not wait a year and a half for someone to get it for me.  However, Adam will be moving country, and might not have everything that he wants.  So I looked around for things that I know he’s used to at home, and that he missed when he was here visiting.  That made me feel much less greedy. 

Well, the salesperson who was helping me (who by the way, was awfully cold and detached, getting Adam’s name wrong, the wedding date wrong, the venue wrong, my hometown wrong, and my password wrong) was not pleased with my Spartan list.  She told me that I didn’t have enough things on it.  I know it’s her job to sell stuff, but you don’t have to be rude about it.  She even changed my quantities on a few items to double (which I went in and changed back online once I was home).  So I smiled sweetly and told her that of course I’d be back another day with my fiancé to pick out more things!  (If and when I feel like it).  After all, he needs to have some say too.  She bought that line, and said yes, come back often.  Some seasonal items get discontinued so I need to update that list frequently.  Somehow I doubt Adam’s white towels and wine glasses are going to be taken off the shelves for summertime though.

The rest of the bridal expo was equally as rinky-dink.  There was a bridal dress shop (got mine already) a tuxedo shop (also check) and a photographer who I’ve seen all over (with photos that look totally amateur).  I didn’t even get a piece of cake because I’d waited too long, and was stuck with a slice of banana bread.  So not much new information today besides the registry.  The only thing that was new and different was a salon station where I got a free facial and “makeover.”  The concept was very cool, and it was pretty fun, although I looked worse than the 2 minute job I’d spent on myself this morning once they were done with me.  I told them at the start that if I didn’t like their work I’d wear my sunglasses out.  They laughed, and got started.  Even though I told them I have oily skin, she used an oil based cleanser on me, so I looked all slick and shiny after.  And the makeup looked pretty much like what I do on my own, just again, that shine was coming through so I looked silly.  I wore my sunglasses out.  I didn’t really care how I looked today though, and now I’ve learned about one salon that I will DEFINITELY not use for my wedding.

When I told Adam about the registry, he seemed a little bit wary at first, (he wasn’t familiar with the concept) but when he saw the few things I picked out and saw they were mostly for him, he warmed up, haha.  We even talked for a little while about what he’ll want for a desk.  It was great how this led to a nice chat about our future together, even if it was just furniture related, hehe.

So it does stink that I have to spend my engagement apart from Adam, and I do sometimes feel a little cheated that what I always thought was the most romantic phase in a relationship is lonelier than I thought, it’s days like today that help me remember that it’s not all bad!  I won’t be able to enjoy these little wedding planning perks after I’m married.  Though cuddling up with Adam on the couch will beat a greasy facial at the mall any day. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Considering a Professional Wedding Planner

Since I’ve never planned a wedding before, and I want the day to go smoothly, I’m considering hiring a professional wedding planner.  Well, not a planner, exactly, but someone to help out with things on the day of the wedding.  I learned that what I really want isn’t a planner, but a wedding planner coordinator.

When I first started thinking about my wedding I thought that a professional wedding planner was the LAST thing I was going to want.  I’m artistic and I’m cheap.  I thought a planner would take away my artistic license and my money.  Yes, I know, you work WITH a wedding planner, going over your likes and dislikes, but still.  I wanted to pick out every last detail.  And I do a decent job of it, so I felt like a professional wedding planner was not something I wanted/needed to have to budget for.  I’d rather put the money I save toward a better string ensemble.  I assumed they’d charge a percentage of the budget, and I just didn’t like that arrangement.

But then a commenter on this blog, Anne Ruthmann, pointed me in the direction of a couple event planning companies in my area.  I looked on their website and discovered that one of the services they provide is “day of coordinating,” in which they charge by the day.


So wait a minute.  Does this mean I could have someone take care of setup, cleanup, and directing people?  I wouldn’t need to work up a sweat or have family members have to have little “jobs” on the day of the ceremony?  I like this idea.

So I have a new plan.  I’ll find my own wedding vendors and do my own price shopping.  I’ll create my own paper products, work with the florist on what I want for flowers, work with the baker on the design of my cake, talk to the ensemble about what songs I want, and speak with the photographer about what shots I want.  I’ll design my own table scape, pick out my own decorations and my own venue.

I’ll either sketch out how I want my ceremony and reception areas to look, or photograph mock-ups.

And then I can present all that to the wedding planner coordinator, and she can put it all into action on the day of?

If a wedding planner coordinator can do all that, the hourly rate will be TOTALLY worth it. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Massachusetts Wedding Photographer: Anne Ruthmann

A while back I had posted my thoughts about wedding venues for my small wedding.  I'd realized renting a vacation home for a backyard wedding would fit the size, accommodate Adam's family who would be visiting from England, and be budget friendly.  Of course, a person's home isn't going to have an all inclusive wedding package, so it would put more stress on me, sorting out what needed to be done.

Enter Anne Ruthmann.  She's a photographer not terribly far from where I live, and she does do weddings.  She left me comment with supportive advice, and mentioned that I might want to hire a professional wedding planner to help things go smoothly.  When I had more questions she was happy to point me in the right direction.  Oh, and did I mention her wedding photos are BEAUTIFUL?

So I wanted to put her name out there, since she is a wedding photographer in Massachusetts, and I know that's what most of my readership is looking for!  You can see for yourself on her photography website that she does beautiful work.  But the fact that she was so helpful to me and I'm not even a paying client speaks volumes.  I've heard from friends that got married that the quality of the photos is only half the battle.  If you have someone that's got talent but doesn't listen, you will miss out on wedding photos that you wanted to happen.  So have a look at Anne's work if you're still looking for a wedding photographer here in Massachusetts.  She even says on her website she's happy to meet you at her studio for a cup of tea.  Precious. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wedding Etiquette: Is Timing Everything?

One thing that really bothered me on the wedding website I visited had to do with the timing of the wedding.  Now, I don’t know how the visa application process is going to work.  I don’t know how big of a window we’re going to get between the time we get the approval to marry, and the time that the visa expires if we’re not married. I feel as though there is a very real chance that this wedding could suddenly get RUSHED.  That’s why I’m looking at vendors now. And originally I told Adam it doesn’t matter, if I have to marry you at City Hall to keep you legal and then we have the ceremony a few months later, so be it.

Well according to some people, on a certain wedding website, that is a HUGE faux pas.

That made me sad. Posters said things like it makes the wedding into a big “gift grab.”  And “Shame on you for wanting a BWW (big white wedding) when a wedding isn’t about the show, it’s about getting married.”  Not to me directly.  I kept my mouth shut on there as they ripped into some other poor girl.  But it bothered me just as much.

If we end up forced to marry in, say, March, I don’t want Adam’s family to have to take a transatlantic flight for a single wedding weekend (or be stuck entertaining themselves while I work if they come for longer) on their first ever trip here to the states. As a school teacher I can’t just take a week vacation when I want.

And I don’t want a big wedding. I plan on having fewer than 25 guests. I don’t care about gifts. I own my own home and I have everything I need; people can keep their toasters.

What I DO want is to have good food, a showy dress, pretty flowers, nice music, and photos to commemorate one of the most important days in our lives. Something significant for such a significant part of our relationship. However, apparently, this is one of the tackiest things you can do for a wedding.

I think of myself as a traditional girl. I want my wedding to be traditional. White dress, classical music, white cake.  So this makes me sad. I really hope I don’t end up having to choose between a wedding that works for me and my family, and following proper wedding etiquette. Add one to the list of wedding stressors.
Photo Courtesy of:
J El Caganer

Friday, March 12, 2010

Goodies for My Wedding: Edible Favors

With a summer theme in mind, I thought about what might make nice wedding favors.  And after browsing online for a bit, the two best options I found were edible wedding favors or plantable wedding favors. 

Really the idea for edible favors  came when I first thought about what would make good wedding favors, and found it was easier to narrow down what I did NOT want.  At my friend’s wedding, if I remember right she gave 2 favors.  The first was a tiny flower pot candle holder that had been sponge painted with green and yellow paint over the red clay, with a yellow candle inside, and a yellow candle.  The second was a tiny pillow that she and her maid of honor hand embroidered.

Of course both ended up in my closet.

I don’t have the heart to just toss stuff, but really, what else could you do with them?  When I think of all the EFFORT they put in, hand making dozens and dozens of these things, I can’t just pitch them.

So even though I used to like candles, I realized that even candles in my wedding colors would not appeal to everyone.  And I want my favors to be something that most people would appreciate.  I don’t like to waste money, and a gift that people shove in a closet seems like a waste of my money.

The plantable wedding favors section did appeal to me at first.  They’re just seeds.  They’re not something people are going to put on a shelf to gather dust, and I’m thinking people would either plant them or pitch them without much guilt.  And our name, date, and adorable little message about planting the seeds of love/love blooming/a blossoming relationship/nurturing our love, etc. etc. can go on the seed packet.  After perusing different examples I thought I could definitely replicate that look to create my own plantable wedding favors for a fraction of the cost.

But then I found saw a section of “edible wedding favors,” like the one above online, I was sold.  This is something that people will NOT keep in a closet.  They’ll either eat it, give it to someone else to eat, or pitch it.  I could still have our names and date on the container, and no one but our moms will save the container.  Everyone else can throw that part out and it’s not a big deal.  So I looked at cookies, chocolates, hot chocolate mixes, and all sorts of edible wedding favors.  I looked at fancy boxes/labels/ribbon and thought about putting my own treats inside.

And then one day after commenting on another blog, I won a giveaway!  When I looked in the edible wedding favors  section of the site sponsoring the gift card, I saw that they had these cute tea favors, like the ones below, with the couple’s name and date on the label, and a variety of colors to go on the label.  So I left a comment saying that would be perfect for my wedding, since Adam’s family is English.  Plus my mom is a huge tea drinker.  So they’d be the perfect edible favors.  And I managed to get them free!

Big relief.  Because when I see some of the wedding favors out there, they seem to fly in the face of my mission.  Not only were they stylized, but they had the couple’s names, date, and even faces on them!  Come on!  Would you really put out a coaster with your aunt and uncle’s wedding on your coffee table?  Is that really adding to the décor?  I suppose some people would, family first and all that, but all I can think of is the host of every HGTV show shaking their head and saying, “What were you thinking?”  I’m telling you, edible favors are the way to go.  If you’ve already picked out wedding favors, what sort did you go with?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Looking at Bridesmaids Dresses

I want a very traditionally themed wedding, I started looking at long, formal bridesmaids dresses.  In terms of color, I’d decided to step slightly out of my comfort zone (which is neutrals) and indulge in my new found interest in deep, rich color.  My color palette (provided we can in fact have a summer wedding) is raspberry, orange and plum.  The plum is for Adam, since he loves purple.  The orange is for me, because I love fall colors, and the raspberry seems to be the way to go to bring the two colors together in a warm, complementary way (instead of a clashing clown suit way).  Think jewel tones.  Or as another blogger recently said, think “sunset.”  I love that.  I hope she doesn’t mind me using that term! 

So when I thought about which of those 3 colors the bridesmaid dress would be, it was really about process of elimination.  An orange dress would not really say “traditional wedding here.”  If I tried to put my gothic sibling in a pink dress, she’d cuss me out and I’d end up with no maid of honor that day.  So the obvious choice for me is purple bridesmaid dresses!

But the question is, 

First              Second              Third              Fourth

The purples look elegant:

 I think they're gorgeous!  But I don't think I'd like orange and raspberry next to them.

I love the plum dresses even more.  I hope they’re not too pinkish for Adam and my sister’s taste.

I even looked at shorter bridesmaid dresses here.

I’m a little torn.  I DO want a formal, traditional look to the wedding, but on the other hand, I want it outside.  Will it look silly to be in formal gowns outside?  My dress has a train, so I think it’s a little too late to worry about being too formal and time to just embrace it.  I just hope my sister’s okay with it.  Then again, she and I are very different, but we do both love to dress up (just so happens she likes to be over the top in black and metal, but it’s still basically playing dress up).  So I’ll probably get away with it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bridesmaid Responsibilities: The Wedding Party as Wedding Guests and Not Slave Labor

Having had a bad experience as a bridesmaid, I started thinking about traditional (and additional) bridesmaid responsibilities and thought, “How do I expect people to serve me on my day:”

1.    Show up in semi-formal attire.
2.    Don’t air dirty laundry.

That’s about it.

I don’t get it.  Unless you’re paid vendor (in which case you’d very well better serve me and serve me like royalty if I’m paying you 3 or 4 figures) why do so many brides go off on their bridal party?  Carry my flowers, carry my train, bring me this and that.  I know they’re called bride’s “maids” but I think that’s a little appalling, actually.  On my wedding day I get to dress pretty, be showered with gifts, eat yummy food, be amongst gorgeous surroundings, hear pretty music, be amongst people who love me, and most importantly of all, I get to have the love of my life promise to spend the rest of his life with me.  Why does that also mean I would turn around and treat my family like servants?

I understand that friends and family would want to help out the bride.  They’re happy, you look like a princess, it’s natural that they just want to add to the moment, and that’s very sweet : )

But I’ve also read about brides who get mad about members of their bridal party who, “Didn’t take their bridesmaid responsibilities seriously,” like those who aren’t there to carry their train every minute, or are busy tending to their children, or are having problems scheduling time for dress shopping (not their own dresses, I mean a dress for the bride ) or who aren’t as helpful as they should be with DIY favors, flowers, invitations, and so on.  I’ve even heard of brides who were not satisfied with their bridesmaids’ weight and let that be known.  Wow.

It’s sad.  I guess people feel so much pressure to have a perfect day that their demands on everyone around them get crazy.  I’m sure it’s insecurity that they’re scared they aren’t perfect, or couldn’t orchestrate this flawless day.  I think some brides just bite off more than they can chew, and over-complicate the DIY just like some brides go over their budget.  When it comes to a wedding, enough is just not enough.  And in my mind, that’s not a good enough excuse to give a bridesmaid responsibilities that are in excess of what she can handle.

So I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to ask of my for the wedding party and attendees.  I’ll be planning and paying for the wedding myself.  Doing the paper products myself.  I plan to let my sister pick her maid of honor dress from a wide range of styles, and since she's paying if she finds one on her own instead I just need to okay it first.  I even picked a color I know she likes, like the dresses below.

 I don't care about bachelorette parties or bridal showers and I certainly won't be making her do a religious reading.  I’m not going to force her or anyone else get their hair, makeup, or nails done professionally.  I hope to hire people to do the setup because I don’t want my family to be sweaty or exhausted before the wedding.  Hopefully the only thing I’ll need help with is bustling the dress.  I hope I can have a simple one.

As for my out of town guests, since they are actually overseas I figure their travel costs are so high that I am going to try to provide accommodations so long as they pay for their own flights.  Just seems like a compromise for the unique situation I'm in, though now I know it's not the norm.

Readers, am I being too cavalier?  With a small wedding, and hired help, is it possible to keep it simple and let all attendees, including bridesslaves…er, bridesmaids, just relax and enjoy the day?  Or am I going to be eating my words here and finding out I have to rely on my maid of honor for a lot more than I think?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Clueless About Bridesmaid Etiquette (What I Wish I Knew Then)

I had a real eye opening experience as a bridesmaid.  It was the first wedding I’d been to since I was a child so I what not really up on my bridesmaid etiquette when my friend asked me to be one.  I was 21 at the time and didn't know what being a bridesmaid entailed, so I asked someone (don't remember who, probably my mom) and they said "you just get invited to parties and show up at the wedding.”  I hadn't talked much to this friend much since we'd graduated college, but I was happy for her, so I said sure, I’d be happy to be in her wedding.

She told me that I could find my own bridesmaid shoes so I’d be comfortable.  And since our bridesmaids gifts were candles it seemed that jewelry was up to us too, so I bought a cute necklace and earrings that were perfect bridesmaid jewelry to coordinate with the dress, but versatile enough that I still wear 10 years later.

All that was fine so far.  But I'd never driven out of state on my own before and as I’ve mentioned before, I have an awful sense of direction (this was long before GPS, kids).  So my stress over the situation started knowing I was going to drive 6 hours to get to her wedding (and yes, I got so lost it added another hour onto my travel time).

Then I learned I had to pay for my bridesmaid dress.  It makes sense to me now, I mean, the bridesmaid gets to keep the dress (though she doesn’t get to choose it) but mom hadn’t mentioned that was customary. And it was actually a very pretty dress.  A lot like the purple bridesmaid dress below.

So while I don’t fault her for making me pay, it was a real shock to my system this bridesmaid dress was more than twice as much as any dress I'd ever bought for myself.  I never bought “couture” before; I handmade my own prom dress.  That freaked me out right there, because I had JUST moved out of my parents' house and started full time work and grad school was not used to supporting myself or budgeting money.  And due to unforeseen circumstances, money was REALLY tight.

Then came the hairstyle I had to pay for.  It was 10 times more money than I was used to paying for a haircut, and at least a haircut lasts more than a single day!

Then the manicure I had to pay for.  I never had one before; I do a fine job of filing and polishing; always thought they were a waste of money.

She didn't tell me about the hair and manicure until I had already arrived in her state, so there was no backing out then!

And then, nothing to do with money, but she wanted me to do a reading.  I'm not of the same faith as her, and when I looked at the piece it made me so uncomfortable that I finally did draw the line there when she told me the day before the wedding that I’d be doing this, and handed it to me.  I felt horrible because I know it was her day, but I just couldn't bring myself to stand in a church and say things I didn't believe in.

Lots of this is common knowledge in terms of bridesmaid etiquette I guess, but back then it wasn't common knowledge to ME and it was a horrible experience.  I was already in debt, so the whole time I felt so mortified, but went along with all the expenses without one word because I didn't want to put a damper on her day.  The friendship didn't last long after that, but like I said, it had been dwindling prior anyways so I felt like she just wanted another person in purple next to her.  I don't think she did any of the above to be mean spirited or greedy, she was NEVER like that.  My point is just that some people have NO CLUE about wedding protocol, and though I asked, I was not given the whole story!

So based on that bad experience, I started thinking about the whole concept of “the roles of people in my wedding.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dealing with Uninvited Wedding Guests

I’ve read about other brides' moms inviting guests who they don’t want coming to their wedding.  Guests they don't want to invite for various reasons.  It might be personal, or it might be that they want to keep the guest list under a certain number because of the size of their venue or budget.  I’ve always respected that.  And for months now I’ve felt very confident that I was not going to have to deal with that awkward situation at my wedding.  (Oops).  Because I know my mom, she always says that I'm an adult and can make my own choices (and it's my money) and she supports my decisions.  (...)

See, early on in my wedding planning process, I had some fears about our wedding guest list.  One had to do with an estranged family member, but that person is not the focus of this post.  Another fear had to do with the fact that Adam is very shy and not good with crowds (and though I don’t get “stage fright,” I am also painfully shy) so I want to keep the wedding guest list small.

So I talked to mom about my worries about the guest list.  She agreed that this estranged family member does not need to be invited to the wedding.  Totally respected my feelings and fears about the situation.  It was a HUGE load off my mind.  During this same conversation, I let her know about how concerned I am about Adam being comfortable too.  I want him to enjoy our wedding and be more happy than nervous!  So I mentioned another family member that I was not really comfortable inviting.  Her sister.

Now, my mom complains about my aunt all the time.  She tries to be controlling, she’s kooky, and she’s very self centered.  Mom’s successfully dodged her visits for several years now (she invites herself over every summer and mom’s figured out a way out of it each time).  So we were on the same page when I said, “I’m not sure where to seat her…” and mom said “You don’t have to invite her either.”  Cool.

*Takes a moment to prepare for a flaming for this post*

It’s not that I hate my aunt.  She’s not awful to me.  It’s just that she acts REALLY entitled.  She will hit on married or 20 year old men.  I could see her hitting on Adam on our wedding day, and/or his dad, who is in a relationship (seen her do similar in the past).  She’s fussy, and I could see her insult our caterer (seen her do this in restaurants).  She’s a fashion consultant so she prides herself on what she wears, and I know she would be the one to wear white to my wedding (seen her dress inappropriately for a funeral).  And how often are my new English family going to get together with my blood relatives?  I’m thinking so few that it could take DECADES to erase the image of my family that she paints in a single day from the minds of my new family.  And I’m thinking that her presence is NOT going to make the day more special for Adam (or anyone else, but again, I’m most worried about my future husband on OUR wedding day).

I have a feeling many people would say, “But she’s family.  That’s what the wedding is about, not proper behavior, so laugh it off.”  And I get that.  I do.

But when I think about our situation coupled with my relationship with her in general, my gut tells me to just not invite her.  I haven’t seen her in about 10 years.  She’s never bought me a birthday gift.  When my sister was still a kid and mom was getting things set for Nana's funeral, she bought HERSELF lunch and told us she didn’t get enough for us so we’d have to go buy something (I’d just got my license and we were in a strange town and there was literally no food in Nana’s fridge.  Also, this was well before the GPS was invented and I have NO sense of direction).  So yeah, she’s family, but I’m having fewer than 25 guests.  IMMEDIATE family and friends.  I think that is grounds for disqualifying her.  And it was mom’s idea, so it’s not hurting HER any.  No problem, right?

Well, tonight mom told me, “Your worst nightmare is coming true.”


“Your aunt has invited herself to your wedding.”

“Oh really.”  I wouldn’t say it’s my worst nightmare, and I was more amused than upset.  “How did she do that?  We don’t even have a date set.”

“Oh.”  Mom thinks a minute.  “Well, I told her you were hoping to get married next summer.” 

“Oh.  YOU told her that, hmm?”

“Yeah.  Oh, I remember.  She was interested about those bridal shows you go to…”

[I’m sorry, just an aside here:  Once she found out that I have been having fun attending bridal shows, she started signing up for some.  She is not getting married or even seeing anyone currently.]

“She was interested in those bridal shows you go to and I told her that you need to tell them the date of your wedding so you tell them August 15, 2011.”

“Ahh.”  I didn’t say anything else.  One of us changed the subject at that point (I think we were getting out of the car and heading into a store and started focusing on the thrill of the impending shopping).  But what I was thinking was, “I wonder how YOU are going to tell her that she’s not coming.”

Like I said.  My aunt doesn’t even buy me birthday gifts.  She’s never called or written to me.  I haven’t seen or spoken to her in 10 years.  If I decided to become a Mrs. tomorrow, neglected to tell her, and she gets put off, that’s no skin off my nose.  I already have my list of who's getting an invitation.

Mom’s the one who talks to her every other week.  Mom’s the one who suggested I don’t invite her.  Mom’s the one who told her when I hope to be getting married before we can even set a date.

Sorry mom.  This one is not my problem.

Looking at Womens Wedding Rings Some More!

Since my three ideas about what my wedding band should be were all turning out to be NOT ideal, I wasn’t sure what I wanted in womens wedding rings anymore.  But the good news was I still had LOADS of time.  Over a year to try to find a nice two tone gold wedding band.  Which means I got to look online at LOTS of pretties!
SO romantic!  If only Adam didn’t hate his handwriting.  With his OCD I just know he’d find something about his writing that he’d forever hate and obsess over when he looked down at my left hand.  Such a shame.  There’s so many pretty womens wedding rings along with the handwritten one here though.  Some with paisley, and wedding vows.  I could look at rings for hours (and I have).

Plus I don't want to deviate TOO much from the look of my rounded band, two tone round solitaire engagement ring.

I could go with my first wish for a plain yellow gold band.  If I chose something very thin it would give prominence to my engagement ring, and if I chose something rounded it would not only be very traditional, but mirror the contours of my engagement ring.  But again, I feared that it wouldn’t sit right up against my diamond.  So I realized that what I’d really like was a band that coordinates with my engagement ring.  One that is two tone, and has a twist.  That would look best, and that would mean there would be a notch that my diamond could fit beside.  But I figured that was going to be impossible.  How do you go about searching online for womens wedding rings that coordinate with a unique looking ring from a tiny family shop?

Eventually, after aimless searching of Google Images I found a ring online that is along the idea of what I wanted.  It’s very pretty, but it looks like white gold instead of yellow, which I prefer.  As I read on I learned it's actually “palladium,” whatever that is.  But at least I learned something.  First, the twist design for womens wedding rings DOES exist outside of Totang.  Second, it seems that the twist style is called an eternity band.  Ah ha!  So I continued my search, still hoping for a two tone gold wedding band.  And I found this:

Now we’re talking!  I found that that wedding ring here.  I like the yellow gold better than palladium, and that notch would DEFINITELY allow for my round diamond to nestle in.  I was finally getting somewhere!
And then I came across this ring that nicely tapers and this really cheap two tone ring (so I fear the yellows will look different,) and it’s cubic zirconia instead of diamonds.  But the funny thing about these two rings, that I just happened to come across using a Google Image search, is that they just happen to be at a shop that’s about a 2 minute walk from where Adam got my engagement ring!  Adam said we can go to HSamuel this summer; so I’m excited!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Looking For a Two Tone Gold Wedding Band

When I was a kid, I thought of womens wedding rings as being a plain gold bands.  Very shiny and rounded.  I was lucky enough to get the round diamond solitaire ring I wanted just like mom.  But her two tone gold wedding band was not the plain yellow gold one I would think of when I thought “traditional wedding rings.”  My dad’s was.  I guess on mom's left hand the diamond had the most prominence so I never paid attention to her band, but a mens wedding ring is the only one dad wore, so it stuck out more.  So for a wedding band dad’s design stuck with me as the “correct” kind.
But my view on that simple wedding band style above sort of changed.  Once Adam and I started talking about getting engaged when I went to see him in England over the summer, we started looking at rings.  He found a two tone gold wedding band, just as my engagement ring is.  But he likes a more matte finish, and a stripe running through like the two tone wedding band below, not the yellow gold band like my dad’s.  Not what I envisioned, but that was fine, I want him to have a style he’ll enjoy. 
So then I wondered about if we were “supposed” to have matching wedding rings.  However, after looking at the ladies version of the mens wedding ring he liked, I realized that instead of trying to talk him into polished gold like I like, or going with brushed gold that wouldn’t really go with my ring, maybe we’d both be happier staying true to our individual styles.  He didn’t seem to be bothered either way, so I started looking around.

Since the plain gold band idea for us was void, and the matching wedding rings for us wasn’t happening either, my next thought was about comfort.  I was a little concerned about how womens wedding rings fit up against the diamond.  I didn’t want to make a mistake I’d regret with a ring that wasn’t comfortable.  I didn’t want them to look mismatched, and I didn't want them to have a gap where they didn't fit up against each other, like this: 

Unfortunately, by the time I thought about this, learned about what a bridal set is, and saw pretty ones like these rings it was pretty much the night before we were going to pick out my engagement ring:
Ooooops.  Of course Adam wasn’t prepared for that, (I give him a lot of credit for not losing it that I even brought it up so late in the game).  I knew it wasn’t right to throw him for a loop with such a big purchase.  I felt nervous because these are going to be on my hand for the rest of my life, and my worries now were more about comfort than the look, but I knew it wouldn’t be fair to push that on him the night before.  I kicked myself for not bringing it up earlier.  I just had to drop it, wait, and hope that things worked out later.

Readers, what is your relationship status?