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?

Readers, what is your relationship status?