Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Flowers By Darlene at North Shore Fruits Baskets in Salem MA

Today I went to Flowers By Darlene at North Shore Fruit Baskets on the recommendation of a coworker.  It didn’t start out well. Traffic was TERRIBLE.  Salem in October is awful.  So I get there, and the neighborhood is, well, on the edge of town.  I walked in the shop and it wasn’t as fancy as the other wedding flower shops I’d been in.  But I looked carefully at the actual flowers around and there was nothing wrong with them.  No wilting.  Nice, full blossoms.

So I met Darlene, the owner, sat and showed her the bridal bouquet I liked.  She had a form and wrote down prices for everything like the manager I met at Rennie’s, except it was all on a single page, nice and clear.  And I got to keep it at the end, unlike the other.

She didn't get into as much detail about the design of the wedding flower arrangements. She seemed to understand that the scale of the bouquet I like is modest.  I mean, I want everything to look gorgeous, but with only 12 guests in a small home I don’t feel like I need to fill the place with as many flowers as if it was a huge hall.  So instead of going big with the bridal bouquets and then leaving out the cymbidium orchids from everything else, she said our table arrangements would be the same as our bouquets.  And instead of talking about wax flowers (gag) or hydrangeas (eh) she talked about white roses and/or roses for the moms’ corsages and all the boutonnieres.  And she suggested long stem white orchids for the alter pieces.  All flowers I like, which she understood from the photo; no further discussion needed.  I was in and out in about 15 minutes.

And the cost was LESS than I was originally hoping!!

Right away I was shocked and elated because while the other florists said my bouquet alone would be $250 and $150 respectively, the first thing Darlene told me after I showed her what I wanted for my bridal bouquet was that it would be $85.  YES!  I told her I'd think about it because I wondered, "Is this too good to be true?"  But I trust my coworker because she's very particular about decor like I am, plus I looked around online and this place got good reviews.

Darlene told me I could come to the shop prior to 10 am on Saturday and see their floral arrangements for weddings; I’d love to do that because it would be nice to see for sure how well put together they are.  The only trouble is the traffic this weekend will pretty much close off the entire city.  Hopefully I can do it next week.  And although the traffic in Salem is a detriment in October, the distance from this place to my venue is a LOT better than Rennie’s in North Andover.  I’ll be a lot better off with such a nearby florist in the winter.

So I'm psyched; I had this number in my head for what I wanted to pay for wedding flowers.  I really didn't want to pay more for a bunch of plants that are going to die in a week.  I might actually also ask my coworker if I could see pictures of her wedding flowers from Flowers by Darlene, just to be sure they really do look okay.  I mean, it's a HUGE price difference between this place and the other two.  I guess when you're not paying to update your shop to look all fancy, you don't have to charge so much on the flowers!  And since my wedding won’t be held at the flower shop, and the flowers looked just as good as the other shops, it looks like I’ve found my florist.  I decided not to call the other wedding florist I was considering.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wedding Florist MA: Rennie’s Flower Shoppe, North Andover

Today I had an appointment with the florist at Rennie’s Flower Shoppe in North Andover.  And although I liked both places, and found both wedding florists ma de good first impressions by being eager to please yet realistic, and have good design ideas about floral arrangements for weddings, this was a very different experience than my one at Evan’s.

I met with the manager, who started out by taking down a lot of information, and continued to work on that form once I showed her the bouquet I wanted.  She had a designer come join us to determine the types and costs of the flowers involved before moving on to come up with ideas for all the other floral arrangements was going to need.

As we worked, her priority seemed to be to get me the best possible price on my flowers.  The only exception was the bridal bouquet.  She said that should be my priority, and she did not try to talk me out of any part of it.  But after that, she kept to a fairly narrow range of options.  Since the red cymbidium orchids featured in my bridal bouquet are really pricy, there would be no more orchids in any of the other flower arrangements or bouquets.  But I wasn’t too bothered with that since the cream colored roses and red berries would be a consistent theme throughout.

The floral designer who she brought in seemed to be more on the same wavelength as me in terms of color (sticking with mostly white with touches of red, but no other arrangements would need peach) as well as in texture (hydrangeas would be a good texture to introduce into the table arrangements, and stick with cedar as opposed to introducing other greens).  The wedding florist ma de me feel at ease; I feel confident in his eye for design.

As the designer and I hashed out the flowers and colors, the manager wrote furiously on what was probably a 10 page document, and once we’d finished she tallied everything for me (although once again I had my spreadsheet open and entered in all totals as we talked).  It was clear the manager was a businesswoman first, but had a good floral designer on staff for the artistic part.  I liked that about this place.  Both aspects are important when planning a wedding, and one person is not usually good at both.

So when it came to the very bottom line, the difference in price for my wedding flowers (including tax and delivery) between Rennie’s Flower Shoppe and Evans Flowers was just over $100.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  I’m going to have to look at some reviews online for Rennie’s (Evan’s has won awards from The Knot so I’m sure they’re a safe bet) before I let price dictate.  But I was satisfied with the planning process, and of course $100 is a decent savings.

Oh, and not only did the flowers and prices talk go well; she also said chocolate brown would be a great choice for my maid of honor’s dress.  Better than black, anyway.  YES.

I still plan to look at two more wedding florists.  Unfortunately Rennie’s is a little bit farther away than I’d have liked (so it’s weird that their delivery charge is less than someone a couple miles away).  And like I said, the floral design process is FUN.  I got two very different takes on altar flower arrangements from each florist I visited.  I’d love to get two more florists’ opinions.  But I have a pretty good feeling at this point that Rennie’s might be my florist for my wedding.

The cost is still more than I was hoping, though I now know it’s fair.  I mean, after getting rough estimates of 6 different florists in Massachusetts that had some arrangements with prices posted online, they had the lowest prices, just like Marcia claimed.  So my plan is once I see what the others have to say, I’ll go back to Rennie’s, book her, and see if I can’t get that bottom line just a little bit lower.  I looked online for winter wedding flowers so I know what’s seasonal (and hopefully cheaper) so I have some ideas in mind already for floral substitutions that might bring down the price.  Hopefully within the next week or two I’ll have selected the best wedding florist in MA for my needs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Visiting Evan’s Flowers for Wedding Flowers in MA

After collecting business cards from 2 years worth of bridal shows and Googling “Wedding flowers, MA” I met with a florist at Evan’s Flowers this afternoon.  I almost didn’t get in because they told me their wedding person had the day off.  But today was the only day I had this week to go in, so although I said I could call back for next week, they made it work.

The flower shop was nice; I didn’t have much of a wait even though they saw an impromptu-last-minute-bride-to-be right before me.

The first thing the florist asked me was if I had done any research or talked to anyone else so far, and I let her know she’s the first florist I saw, but I had looked at plenty of floral arrangements for weddings online, and I brought those in.  On my netbook, hehe.  Along with pictures of the wedding ceremony and reception site.  And a spreadsheet preformatted with the quantities of my all my floral needs.  Yeah, I did my research, hehe.

I had narrowed my search to 9 photos of flower arrangements for weddings that I like, with one that, if she could replicate for me exactly I’d be happy (The image is copyrighted but you can view it here).  I wasn’t 100% sure it was an orchid (because it looked huge).  She said it was not a true red, and, well, that was obvious, hehe.  But as she started referring to it as being on the pink side, I worried a little.  She said closer to the time we'd need to look at precisely what color I have in mind.  She mentioned the greenery too, echoing my own thoughts EXACTLY.  It’s wintery, but not so literally Christmassy that it looks tacky for late February.  Said she LOVES it.  And that overall the floral arrangement has great texture and would be fun for her to do.  I agree; it’s pretty cool!

Then we talked about my maid of honor’s dress.  I told her I was actually hoping she could give me advice on that!  She told me we don’t need to match the house, we just need to look okay in it, hehe.  Which I knew.  But then I told her that my sister didn’t want to wear red.  And It was clear that this was a ridiculous request in her mind, though she stayed professional.  She told me that the dress choice is MINE.  She doesn’t realize that my sister would probably just not show up if I tried to dictate what she wears if she’s not on board.

I could understand her concern, however.  The bouquet has red and white.  If she doesn’t wear red, that leaves white.  And that’s obviously unacceptable for a maid of honor dress!  So I mentioned that I like chocolate brown…and she told me that would look too fall-like.

That broke my heart.  I mean, obviously I need to do what I want.  But she said exactly what I feared.  I like fall colors, but my wedding’s not in the fall.

Next we talked about scale.  I let her know I thought the flower table arrangements should be on the small side because the room is small and the tables will seat 4, so they’ll be small, and she agreed.  I said I want my “altar” flower arrangements to be larger, and she agreed.  She mentioned using branches (thin, curly sort of branches), which I’m not certain about.  Once upon a time I liked the natural look, but I think I’ve outgrown it.

She also talked a bit about the containers.  Just as I thought, she recommended that I do NOT go with the standard glass cubes, and I should get my own somewhere.  I was a little disappointed they didn’t have options for me, but she was helpful in suggesting Micheals or A.C. Moore as a cost effective way to go.

She talked about boutonnieres, and agreed with me that cream colored roses for the men would be best, and red not so much, haha.  And for the mothers of the bride and groom, I was a little unsure.  She told me probably cream for them too, since we don’t know what color their dresses are.  She suggested an orchid that I wasn’t familiar with, so she went and got me one.  It had thinner petals than some orchids, which I was okay with.  And I told her I like that idea because when I go to visit Adam’s family, his mum always puts an orchid in my room.  So that sort of settled that!

When it came down to flower prices, it was higher than I HOPED, but it wasn’t on the high end either.  Really fell right in the middle in terms of price.  So it went okay!  Design-wise we were on the same page 80% of the time!  That made me feel good.  I’m almost glad we weren’t 100% because I don’t want to be patronized; I do want to hear the professional’s ideas, and I got to.

So it went well!  I might hire her.  But this is probably the most artistic I get to be in the wedding planning process.  I don’t want it to end yet!  I’m going to keep playing with the designers for a little longer, and see a couple more wedding florists before I put this to rest, hehe. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Selecting a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts

I really wasn’t looking forward to trying to find a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts.  I hate calling people.  There’s no price shopping.  I feel like there’s this pressure to “find someone you click with.”  Really?  I’m hiring a stranger to talk for 20 minutes.  How am I going to find out if I “click with him?”  I know they do consultations to “get to know the couple.”  But I’ll be on my own until January so it’s all on me to make small talk with a Massachusetts marriage officiant over coffee or whatever.  Ugh.

But it had to be done, so I started in.  The first Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts I called had a really impressive looking website.  I mean, that doesn’t mean he’s a great speaker, it just means he invested in a good webmaster, I’m thinking.  But still, it shows some commitment to the profession.  And it helped me learn a lot about what to expect from him.  It said he doesn’t charge extra fees other than a rehearsal, which I don’t feel like I need.  And the website details how he will direct guests and other professionals (such as cueing the musicians and helping the photographer if I so choose).  He even said he’s willing to videoconference for long distance couples!  This guy sounded like he’s just what Adam and I need in a justice of peace for our wedding ceremony.

So my plan was to call, ask about his availability for my day, explain that I had my program completed (though I’m open to suggestions) and secretly assess his voice!  I mean, other than being licensed to make our marriage ceremony legal, the second most important thing to consider, I’m thinking, is is this a voice people are going to be able to take for 20 minutes nonstop?  I wanted a wedding officiate who was articulate, had a nice tone, and sounded at somewhat animated.

That first Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts I called was Rick Perry.  (No, not the governor from Texas and vice presidential candidate.)  He told me, “Let me tell you a little bit about the process and then I’d be happy to answer your questions.”  Right away I was impressed with his professionalism.  He took charge, yet was prepared to listen as well.  He agreed to look over my wedding program and said he would check his Email tomorrow.  I was pretty satisfied, and sent it along before calling the next guy.

The second JP told me he charges $200 for a ceremony, and that includes a consultation.  He seemed, well, a little bored.  I just wasn’t impressed.  And I thought requiring a consultation in the price was shady way of getting around the legal fee he could charge for the ceremony.  He was a no.

The third guy’s phone was disconnected and the fourth guy wasn’t home.

The fifth Massachusetts wedding officiant, John Ford out of Peabody, was also pretty impressive.  I really liked his voice.  He was also willing to use my program, didn't charge extra fees and agreed I didn't really need a rehearsal.  And when I told him we’d have about 15 people for the ceremony and it would be seated and formal, just small, he said, “That sounds right up my alley.”  So I liked him just fine too.  I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to choose for my wedding ceremony.

But then that night, Perry Emailed me back to say my program looks great.  Except it was missing one thing, which legally needed to be in there, haha.  Well, I was pretty much sold on this guy by this point.  Not only did he get back to me within a few hours, sooner than he had said, he had something positive to say about the work I did, AND he let me know in a straightforward way what was required.

After a few days of phone tag I let him know he’s hired and he’s sending me a contract, yay : )  I’ve got myself a Justice of the Peace for my wedding: Check one more thing off the to do list! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Picking a Bridal Hair Tiara

Choosing just one bridal hair tiara was kind of hard!  On the one hand, I didn't want to spend a lot on it (there's just SO many other elements that go into paying for this wedding, I didn't want accessories to eat up a huge proportion of my wedding budget).  On the other hand, it's closer to my face than say, my shoes, so it's going to be in all the photographs; it had better be a good looking cheap bridal tiara.
I decided that a "bridal headband tiara style" would be preferable to a comb.  Since I'm probably going to have my hair down and curled, I need something that's going to stay in well without having a bun to stick out of.  Plus I'm definitely going for the formal, "princess" look, so I wanted something that's reminiscent of a crown.  I wanted it to wrap around more fully than a comb.

That didn't narrow my options too much!

So next I looked at different bridal hair tiaras that would mimic the lines of the beading on the bodice of my wedding dress.  It would need to be a beaded, rhinestone, or crystal bridal tiara.  This was definitely the most fun part!  

If I was going to get a peaked tiara, I’d have gotten this one.  The lines have pretty scrolls; it's tight enough to look nice and detailed without being too cluttered to notice from far away.  And the center forms almost a heart shape.  If I had a rounder face and could pull off a tall peak like that I would have gotten this classic looking rhinestone bridal tiara.    

I like this one because it’s so classic looking. It has nice detail that matches the beading in my dress probably better than any of the above examples. I just think the peak is a little too high for me. If only it didn't have that fleur de lis at the top I probably could have pulled it off. 

The only problem was, I wasn't sure what they would look like on me.

I went back to a photo taken of me when I tried on my wedding dress.  I loved the dress, and the way it fit my body type, but something wasn't exactly right. I assumed it was my short haircut at the time.  But I wondered if the tall, pointy bridal hair tiara wasn't helping.  So I looked online for advice on how to choose a tiara to suit my face shape.  And to sum up, a "taller" tiara will elongate your face.  A "shorter" one will have the opposite effect.  Since I believe I have an oval face that is longer than it is wide, I think I'm better off with a squattier one.  So I had to rule out the above tiaras. 

But that's okay!  There's plenty of gorgeous tiaras that don't have a tall point.

This one has the best of both worlds: a little peak in the very center, but it’s not angled up too high. In fact, the rounded lines along the top make it look a lot like a crown, would would make me look like a princess, I'm sure.  This rhinestone bridal tiara was a real contender.   

I like this tiara because it doesn’t come to a peak. And the fact that it archs out a little makes it unique.  The lines of the scroll work are very pretty, and I like how close it looks to a crown without being over the top. Really elegant for a cheap wedding tiara!

I really like the shape of this tiara a lot. There’s no peak, and it’s very rounded. It also said it had beading, like my dress, as opposed to all the other rhinestone bridal tiaras I'd seen so far. If they had taken the plastic off so I could get a better look at it I probably would have picked it!  

I like this one a lot because it doesn’t have a peak. It’s pretty unique, and has nice detail.  The lines are very ornate for a tiara at this price point.

I like this one because it’s streamlined and gently tapers away from the center.  The center forms a heart, which is sweet.  And it's a good value.

I like the shape of this one a lot, because it has a gentle peak. But there’s no way to enlarge the picture so I can’t see the detail well enough to make a decision.

The headband style is understated, so I do like it. This style is really hot this year.  It would look great if I wasn't wearing a veil and was going with a more casual spring or summer outdoor wedding dress style. Or even if I was planning on an up-do.  But I'm not going for either of those looks, so I didn’t go with it.

This has a nice compact design, and it has a peak.  I feel like this design wouldn't be too distracting.  It's simple and elegant.

But the winner was...

This!  I like the way it gently tapers away from the center.  I think it strikes a nice balance, not being too streamlined but not being too ornate.  I think that the detail of the design won't be lost in photographs. And I like the line of the design; how it looks a lot like hearts without being too literal.  I think the lines mirror the beading in my wedding dress's bodice pretty well.  And finally I think it's the best value I've seen.  

It was a lot of fun looking at all those cheap wedding tiaras.  I found my perfect bridal hair tiara and didn't spent too much on it.  I can't wait to see how it looks. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Simple Wedding Ceremony Vows Make Life Easier

Today I realized that I can't ask Adam to do the reading I put into the wedding program.  And in the same moment, instead of getting upset, I realized that’s okay.

Adam was clear from the start that he doesn't want to do a speech and he wants to say as little as possible in the ceremony.  So when I looked at sample wedding ceremonies and saw that readings by the couple is customary, I knew all along that it was going to be a problem.

My first thought was if we stuck with someone else’s wedding ceremony wording instead of writing our own vows, that would be easier.  But it’s not just the writing that is the issue; it’s speaking in front of people.  So my next worry was that if he did it, he'd be more nervous the whole wedding ceremony.  So to soften the blow I worked really hard to find something meaningful that was only 4 lines long.  I wrote our wedding program over a year ago, and I’ve been very proud of it all this time.  But a couple weeks ago I realized that it doesn't matter how short that reading is; if I ask him to do it he's still going to say no.

I thought I’d try to ease him into it, so in the week since he asked me to find a Justice of the Peace, I've been sharing bits of the program with him.  It’s been tough going so slowly through it with him, but I tried very hard to be patient because I didn’t want to get into a fight over the readings issue.

So tonight after doing 2 parts, I continued my efforts to be patient and respect the fact that he didn’t want to talk about wedding stuff for a half hour.  So I said, "Do you want to look at one more part, of leave it for the night?"  But instead of saying, “Yeah, I’ve had enough,” he said “Let’s look at one more.”

But I couldn't do it.

I skipped over it to look at a part I felt like he'd be more open to.  And he was!  He liked the rose ceremony better than the idea of a sand ceremony.  That part of the wedding talk went well.  And that's when I realized there's never going to be a good time to bring this up.  He doesn't want to do it and it doesn't matter if he's in a good mood, he's not going to suddenly "forget" that he doesn't want to.  And do I REALLY want to try and force him to say some loving words that he doesn't want to say?


It would be better if he could just relax and enjoy our wedding ceremony and at the end say, "This really was nice; I'm glad we did it."  Or something else sweet that he says that day, in his own words, just off the cuff some time after the ceremony once he's feeling relaxed and having a nice time.  That would be much more meaningful and unforgettable than forcing him to say a few lines that I picked out for him in front of people.  Like he said, he's already marrying me, and saying the vows in front of people.  For someone with social anxiety, that's plenty.  We have nothing to prove.  People aren't going to be thinking, "What?!  They didn't do any readings?!  What a huge oversight!"  Nah, they'll be happy that it's nearly time to eat, haha.

So I'm okay with it now.  This WAS important to me, and suddenly it's not anymore. Maybe it's because we've gone over almost the whole wedding program script at this point and I'm happy that he's been fine with everything I've picked out so far; so I realized it was time for me to compromise.  Or maybe it's because I am feeling more confident that this wedding will be beautiful so there's no reason to over complicate it.  And this would have made things really complicated, created animosity, and I just don't need it.  I would much rather keep Adam happy than have 100% of the prescribed wedding ceremony.  So much so that I even went through the other readings and took out a few lines so that it would be even a little bit shorter.  Not much.  But Adam started to question the length of the ceremony so again, so why not.  I kept all the sentiments I wanted, I just cut out the verbiage. I want to make this work for both of us.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Try to Choose a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts

With the weight of the venue selection off my shoulders I felt a huge sense of, “Phew!  Done!”  And the fact that Adam booked his one-way ticket (and then changed his ticket to come even earlier, but that’s another story) well, I just felt like I was all set.

Of course there’s still PLENTY to do. 

But I told Adam I’m not sure where I want to start?  Flowers?  Hair and makeup?  He suggested finding a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts.  Always practical!  But I figured why not; it needs to be done. 

The thing is, usually a justice of the peace wants to meet before wedding ceremony.  So while Adam picked the most necessary detail for me to tackle, it’s a tricky one.  I can’t just show Adam a picture and say, “That’s pretty, right?” like I can with the flowers.   And I can’t exactly price shop since the state sets the rates they charge (it looks like the cost of justice of the peace in Massachusetts is $100, but then can tack on another $50 for travel expenses.  Plus a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts can get around the fixed price by adding on rehearsals, meetings, and so on).  It’s really just a question of their public speaking ability, personality, and professionalism, which is not as easy for me to judge on my own. 

So I looked up “Massachusetts Justice of the Peace” online and got together a list.  It was really nice when they had a complete website with prices and biographies and even sound clips.

Then I looked up tips for choosing a Justice of the Peace.  There were some great tips that were mainly just empowering.  It basically says that the couple should be making the decisions; the wedding officiate shouldn’t insist on his/her way.  That’s important to me since I’ve already got our wedding program completed!  I don’t want someone who has a set repertoire that I need to choose from.  Not after I put in all the work of finding meaningful components.  The site also explains a good wedding JP should also work with the other professionals, and not act like his/her role is more important.  It’s a shame he’s out of Connecticut because I thought he sounded very professional. 

The next site that was helpful for me provided a list of questions to ask a Justice of the Peace.  I especially liked the one that asked for examples of how he has worked with the other vendors.  To me, that’s nice and open ended, and you can really stop and anylize how comfortable or uptight he or she is.  If s/he gets defensive at this question, it speaks volumes.  If he or she gets nervous or vague, it tells me he lacks experience.  If his/her tone is even and calm, s/he’s probably going to act professionally on the big day. 

And lastly I made note of this site which explains how to officiate a wedding ceremony with your OWN JP.  It says that for $35, anyone can become justice of the peace for a day in Massachusetts and marry us.  Which is nice and cost effective, but I can’t think of someone who is so important to Adam and I that I would give them that role who isn’t already on the guest list.  I want all the important people in our lives to be witnesses not working the event.  It is a cool idea though.

So once I got a sizeable list of names and annotated them, I realized that when I start calling and asking questions and answering questions about the kind of wedding we want, I’m going to need to do the talking for Adam AND I.  Which doesn’t seem right.  I really want Adam to be aware of what he’s going to be agreeing to when he says, “I do,” because I know he’ll be too nervous to hear it on our actual wedding day. 

So before I actually call anyone, I decided I need some input from Adam on our ceremony.  So we started going through the program a little bit at a time.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

We Have Our Perfect Wedding Venue!

I’m so proud I could burst. I saw the house, loved it, and put down the deposit! I have a house to marry Adam in. A house where his family can spend the week when they visit from England for the first time, that's close enough for me to get to easily even in winter.

When I arrived the owner was just as sweet as she was on the phone, and the house looked just as nice, with a few nice surprises!
We went through the living room that I plan to use for the ceremony. I loved the way the double windows framed the room, and I figured Adam and I could stand in front of the dresser.  But when I got there, I saw THIS:

And I thought the place didn’t have a fireplace!!  It doesn’t…but it has a mantle, which is just as weddingy!  Now I’m a little torn over which spot will work better. The windows look dramatic, but might put us in silhouette. The mantle looks great, but doesn’t “feel” like the front of the room.  Plus I might need to cover the mirror.  And I have the wedding arch that I can put in between the windows, so it’s fine.  Maybe I can put the guest book near the mantle!  It can be easily decorated.

My second surprise was upstairs.  I had seen from the street view photo that there was an interesting bay window jutting out of the front, but didn’t see the room in the house with it on the website.  Well, here it is:

It’s just a little sitting room.  But it will be PERFECT for our formal photos!  So two of the things I thought I was going to have to give up with this place is (at least kind of) there!  This place really was meant to be.

And then I got a third surprise.  Something I didn't even think about (it just wasn't at the top of my list of things to worry about).  The photographer (yeah, I already booked one, but that's another story) wanted to know where the bridal prep area would be, so I figured it would just be in one of the bedrooms occupied by Adam's family; no big deal.  The bedrooms were pictured on the website and looked fine, even nice.  Nice and neutral.  But then she pointed out a framed piece on the wall not pictured online:

It just happens to be a piece from an ethnic bridal costume.  Um, I think I just found my bridal prep room.

I knew the place had been part of a commercial tour of historic homes in the area at Christmastime 2 years ago.  The owner said, "You should have seen how they decorated it."  I said I'd love to, and she promised to Email me photos!  So I'll have ideas on how to decorate!!  Maybe not the colors, but the scale for sure. 

The house was as small as you’d expect in Salem.  But there is going to be such a small amount of guests that I think we’ll be fine.  I took measurements of the dining room, then looked online to see how many square feet you need per person and it checked out.  Barely!  But it checked out.  This place is going to work beautifully.  The owner even told me I was free to use whatever flatware and silverware that I wanted; there would be plenty for 12 people.  I could Email her with questions.  And she'd send me photos of the fourth bedroom that I didn't get to see.  I can't wait.  I've found our venue.  I can start booking the rest of the vendors.  And I can finally officially say, when someone asks me if we've set a date: "Yes.  February 21."  :) 

Readers, what is your relationship status?