Friday, November 11, 2011

Wedding Reception Catering: A Haute Dish in N. Andover, MA

After the ordeal with the seamstress I almost didn’t want to think about catering for my wedding, or anything else wedding related.  But I started to feel the first bout of pressure and time constraints.  Here I have 3 days off; I should be making the most of them, not wallowing in one bad experience. 

And yet, I was NOT going to make the same mistake twice.  I would NOT be blindsided again.  I was determined to educate myself this time about what I might expect when it comes time to talk to caterers.  So I Googled “Wedding tasting,” and Google Suggest gave me “Wedding tasting etiquette” so I went with that, and I made myself some notes on what to ask:
  • Do you have tastings?
  • Is there a fee?
  • Can I bring my mom?
  • I have a variety of dietary needs:  Chicken, fish, vegetarian and vegan
And before I sign a contract, I should ask:
  • For pictures of staff attire
  • If I bring my own wine, do you serve it? 
  • An estimate for price per plate
Next, I dug out two of the caterer’s information that I liked best and had set apart from the rest.  I made a list for each of them, for each course, that had both my likes and would satisfy my guests’ needs.  And I took a deep breath, and called A Hot Dish Catering in Haverhill, MA.

And found that the number was out of service.

That didn’t help the anxiety I was still feeling from just one hour ago.  I had previously messed up the seamstress’s number too.  So I looked online, got the new number (they moved to North Andover and changed the name to "A Haute Dish"), and called.

The owner/executive chef Jennifer was just as personable as I remembered.  Just like my JP, she got to a clearer phone so that we could communicate better.  I told her about our dietary needs, and she was okay with it.  I went through her menu and picked out items that would cover our range of needs.  And sure enough when I told Adam about my menu choices after, and he was happy about the crab, goat's cheese, salad, and palette cleanser.  He wasn't thrilled when I told her I almost don't want dessert because we have such a big cake for what we need, but then I remembered our vegan can't eat it so I'd like fruit.  But she said that would work well (don't worry Adam: remember, TWO different cake flavors.  Mmmm).  Plus she got me thinking about a few things I was unsure of:

1.    She asked if I wanted a chicken meal and a vegan meal that everyone with dietary restrictions could select and I said that I’d really prefer a chicken, a fish, and a vegan dish, but that she could just add cheese for the vegetarian and she’d be happy, and she said that could work.
2.    She mentioned that instead of salad we could have soup, and I was tempted at first since it WILL be the winter.  But when I thought about how many soups I’ve made for their lunches I decided that they’d be sick of soup.  Plus the salad with goat’s cheese and nuts sounds awesome, and easy enough to make one without cheese for our vegan guest.
3.    She asked me if we like potatoes or rice with our chicken and I faltered, haha.  I really don’t eat EITHER.  Although it hasn’t been a conscious decision, for the last few weeks I haven’t been eating carbs with my meals other than corn and carrots.  And Adam, well, he likes potatoes, I know, but on the other hand he likes rice with Indian food.  But since we’re not doing Indian food I told her potatoes.
4.    She asked if we’d have hors d'oeuvres during the photos, and I said I did want that.  But when she learned I’d have so few guests, she said we’d be finished with photos so quickly we might not need it.  I said that on the other hand, those few guests not involved with photos would have nothing to do in the meantime, so a little something might be nice, and she said maybe she could do a platter, so I was happy.
5.    She asked if I was going to have a meal count for her in advance and I said I can do that.  What I didn't say is I'm looking forward to creating a menu to put in with the invitations, hehe. 
6.    She asked me if I needed a bartender, and I said I’m not sure; I was really thinking of just wine.  She said we could do wine, beer, and a signature cocktail, and to make it more classy we could have a bartender, but when I told her 12 people she again said maybe I don’t need one because they can take care of themselves.  I’m a little iffy on what that means; I hope we don’t just have a cooler somewhere of beer and bottles, haha.  So I said maybe she could go over costs with me with and without later on. 
7.    She asked me if I need linen and flatware.  I was SO glad she brought that up!  Mom told me caterers might be able to take care of that for me and I sort of didn’t believe her, haha.  I said we have silverware but DO need linens, plates and cups.  That made me feel good.

And when it was all said and done, instead of telling me a day I should come in to taste things like I expected (and was prepared to ask about a fee, because I learned online that sometimes they do charge) she said she’d Email me a proposal!  I was so psyched!  So I can have time to really look it all over, decide if I can afford it, and have no pressure to say how I felt about it right away.  Perfect.  In the meantime, I think tomorrow I’ll call the other place.  Because even if they give me a harder sell, I’ll have to say, “I am awaiting a proposal from one other place.”  And they’ll know that I’m an informed consumer.  Phew.

Wedding Dress Alterations: Pins and Needles in Danvers, MA

I’m going to write a review of my experience at Pins and Needles in Danvers, MA because I started this blog in order to help other brides.  This company looks like it does fine work (their pictures on their website are nice) but their initial process, well, it didn’t go smoothly in my mind.  I don’t know if what I experienced was typical or not, but it would have been helpful for me to know what I was getting into.  Please chime in in the comment section below with your thoughts.

A year ago a coworker recommended that I use Pins and Needles for my wedding dress alterations.  I’ve given up on losing more than a few pounds before my wedding because it’s getting to be too late to put this off any longer.  Since I had the day off I called and the woman who answered said I could come in today.

There was construction on the ramp from 128 North to get to the shop.  And the shops in the area are so crowded together that it was difficult to find them (and difficult to find a parking spot).  I had a little bit of a walk with my garment bag with a really heavy dress and two pairs of wedding shoes, but it turns out they are directly across the street from Cakes for Occasions!  When I got to the third floor, there was a sign that said, “Please remove your shoes.”  I thought that was strange, but after I did and I opened the door I saw that their carpets looked brand new.  So okay.

The place is REALLY cute inside.  And soon a woman came out to greet me, walked over to a dressing room, pulled open the curtain and said, “You can go ahead in here.”  I walked in and she pulled the curtain closed and went back into the other room.

Is it me, or was that a little odd?  No, “You can change into your dress so that I can see what needs to be done,” or dates or timelines or pricing or any sort of wedding related chit chat.  She just went back to her sewing machine while I got dressed.

So I put on the gown, not even sure if I should have my shoes on at this point because of the sign, and stepped out.  She came back out and told me to stand on the platform, and quickly got down and started pinning the bottom of my dress!  I hadn’t hired her yet!!!

I was feeling even more awkward at this point.  I had gone on Yelp and saw that this place had 3 stars, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt because some reviewers seem to enjoy being sarcastic and shocking, and as I said, a coworker recommended them.  But I mention this because I had seen a reviewer say, “They charged $10 for a consultation and didn’t even tell me they were going to.”  I figured that $10 in the grand scheme of things was not a big deal; I could give them 10 bucks and walk out if they were too expensive.  But as I stood there on the platform getting pinned, I saw a sign that said there was a $35 dollar consultation fee.

Now I really felt blind sided.  This woman started working on my dress and was going to charge me $35 and I didn’t even know what she was going to charge.

Then once she got the front pinned, she stopped and said incredulously, “You’re not wearing your shoes!”

Well…no.  I didn’t really have a chance to ask about the whole process.  All I had to go on was a sign out front that said I need to take them off.

So she got my shoes for me, and repinned me.  I thought she was NICE; and her pinning was quick and neat, I just would have liked a little preparation.  She did tell me that although she was pinning the bottom, that was just for the measurement; she’d actually take it up from the top of the skirt (since there was so much bead work at the bottom) but I already knew that.  At least she explained that part though; had I not known that I’d have been REALLY concerned!

When she finished, she said, “So that’s it.  When you come next time we’ll do the bodice.”


“Uh, can we talk about PRICE?”

“Yup, it will be $350.  Once you get changed we can go over stuff.”

I felt dizzy.  I was really hoping she’d be LESS than the bridal shop, not more.  That was more than I paid for the dress itself.  But if I left, I lose $35 and it’s awkward.  It’s not like I knew of another shop that would do a good job.  I tried researching them online but I didn’t really know what I was looking for, and prices aren’t listed.  Everything in the wedding industry is so SECRETIVE until they’ve got you there; it’s frustrating.  At least with cakes and flowers you’re expected to do a little shopping around to see if they’re a good fit for your style.

I tried to make myself feel better knowing that she was personally recommended to me.  So although I would have liked to hunt for a better deal, it’s not like I had NOTHING to compare them to.  But I still didn’t have a nice feeling.  And having to leave my dress with anyone would have probably been a little gut wrenching, but leaving it there along with a 50% deposit was really rough.  I have my receipt, and an appointment for my next fitting in December, but an empty space in my closet.

Plus, I was a little surprised she didn’t ask me about the value of the dress.  When I worked at a frame shop we always asked about the cost of the print they were leaving with us in case we damaged it.  I mean, what if something went wrong, or there was a fire or the roof leaked or something beyond their control?  Are they even insured?

So brides, I’m not saying don’t go to this place.  Like I said; on their site they look like they do beautiful work.  But if I had read a blog like this about Pins and Needles before I went, I would have felt a lot more in control than I did.  I would have:

1.    Called somewhere else FIRST and asked if they charge a consultation fee
2.    Right away said, “Before I get changed, I have a few questions”
3.    Asked what the range of price is for the length and bustle
4.    Put on my shoes despite the sign
5.    Asked what kind of bustles they do
6.    Asked if they were insured

And maybe I would have gotten answers that satisfied me.  But I just wasn’t quick enough on my feet to think of them on the spot.  : (  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bridal Show Expo: Ethan Allen in North Andover, MA

Although a power outage that threatened to cancel the show, the lights came on in time and mom and I spent a couple hours at the Ethan Allen in North Andover, MA, checking out the few vendors I still need amidst beautiful décor.  But the bridal show expo had its share of ups and downs.

As with most bridal shows, the majority of vendors were photographers (why is this?)  There were also not one but 2 wedding cake places!  And as much as I love my cake place, Chickadee Hill is a FIERCE competitor!  They were every bit as good and every bit as pretty.  I don’t know what the cost was (Jacques isn’t the cheapest, but I feel their prices are very reasonable for the quality they provide).  The other place, well…it was very average.  They had cupcakes, and I felt they were a little on the heavy and dry side, although they had a fairly rich nice taste.  Plus I’m just so not interested in cupcakes as opposed to a traditional wedding cake that I’m biased. 

Although mom and I had fun (I love that each room in Ethan Allen looks like a different house.  It’s like eye candy around every corner!) there were a few snags.  First (don’t freak out, Adam, I’ll sort it out) I ran into guys from the company where I ordered my tuxes.  I said I already had them from them, I think, and they’re in Saugus, right?  “No.  Beverly.”  THAT was a surprise; they closed shop and moved.  So they called to find out if my order was transferred.  No.  I wasn’t even in the system.  So I said, “Well, I have the contract, so I’ll be bringing that in to the shop.”  Sheesh. 

Another issue was with the Mary Kay consultant.  She told me I’d get this and that if I book a consultation.  I played that game before.  Wasn’t really interested in doing it again.  But boy, was she good.  She didn’t ask me IF I wanted a consultation.  She said in a conspiratal tone, “Don’t worry if you have to change the day” *looks over her shoulder to make sure the imaginary person behind her isn’t hearing this fantastic opportunity she’s allowing me* “You can still get these free brushes valued at $80 on the day of the makeover.”  And then she straightened up, “So what’s good for you?  Afternoons or evenings? 
“Evenings, but I don’t think…” 
“Later in the week or earlier in the week?” 
“Later, but I’m not sure…”
“Let me just see what’s available.  We can do next week *looks at a calendar filled with Xs because she is in SUCH high demand* but actually that’s not going to work, how about December 1st at 5pm?”
I knew I wasn’t going to ease my way out of this.  I mean, I could have been direct and said, “No thank you,” but I just smiled and nodded.  And when I got home I sent her an Email saying “Whoops, that day doesn’t work for me; don’t call me; I’ll call you.” 

But these little uncomfortable moments aside, what really surprised me was the number of vendors at this show who regarded me with thinly veiled  CONTEMPT.

1.  There was one photographer who, when I asked if I had chosen a photographer and I answered yes, asked if I considered video.  When I said I was not having video, he went into the spiel of how photos don’t capture this and that.  I said, “I know, I was interested but my fiance said no.”  So he said, “Well come on, who’s the boss?”  Nice.  You think you’ll get my business if you try and drive a wedge between me and my intended?  “Well, it’s all about compromise,” I came back with. 

He didn’t stop there.  He told me he was married for 32 years and still regretted not having a video.  Um, okay.  Maybe time to get over that.  Maybe it’s hard when that’s your job, but pressuring me isn’t going to ease your pain, guy.

I said that he is just not comfortable with the idea, but thank you, and he said, "We'll be 30 feet away at all times."  I said oh, cool, I'll think about it then, and started to walk away, but he kept talking!  So I muttered to mom extra loudly, "If they were 30 feet away Adam would be fine with it, since they'd be out on the lawn."  


"It's a small house."  I told him.  But he still refused to give up.  He said that I should go on his website and look at the collection of commercials (right away how fun does that sound, right?) about “How to decide if you want video.”  And on it there are these 2 little girls, one of them who cries because her mommy and daddy don’t have a wedding video.

I am not making that up.

2.  The makeup artist who gave me a trial pulled the old “tear them down so you can build them back up” trick with me.  When I PAY for a haircut, I get compliments on my hair.  Because they want a tip.

I guess with a freebie, comes abuse because they’re not getting paid and they subconsciously want to take that out on you.  That and they’re trying to get more business so saying “You’re a natural beauty” isn’t going to help.  So although she could have said worse, she steered the conversation to:

 “Do you wax your eyebrows?”
 “No, I pluck.  Just a few to clean them up.”
 “Oh I could totally shape them for you…”
 *I make a face*
 “They won’t look thin!”
 *I look up at her shoestring brows*
 “They’ll just give you that lift.  It will make your face look thinner.”
 Mom:  “Or surprised that you actually got a man to marry you?”
 I laughed.  The stylist got defensive that that’s not what she meant at all.  Mom laughed.  “Seriously,” the stylist said desperately, “You could get them cleaned up, it’s easier than you think and it would make a huge impact.  You’d open the area up, you could put more highlight up in here, you should come in and I’ll do it.”
 “Ugh!  Do it NOW!”  Her coworker chimed in.
Thanks.  I’ll just wear a bag over my head until I can get an appointment.

My eyebrows are FINE.  Thank you. 

3.  The next vendor was a woman who designs invitations.  She asked me if I had mine and I said yes.  And she asked, “Who did you go with?”

Now, it’s one thing if you’re going to make polite conversation instead of an awkward, “Oh.” before turning your back on the person so you can get to a potential customer.  But she clearly wasn’t going for polite when she said, “You didn’t get them off the internet, did you?”


I’ve seen PLENTY of really nice invitations on the internet!  There are some folks at Etsy who are every bit as good as a professional; they just don’t have a brick and mortar store yet! 

I told her, “No, I got them at Michaels.” 

“Ugh.  WHY?”


I probably should have walked away at that point instead of justifying myself to her.  But two wrongs don’t make a right, so I wasted my time trying to be polite. 

“Because I liked them.  And I only needed 12.”

“I could have done something for you…”


“…and I do my own calligraphy, so I wanted to give them something really special and personal.”

Now, I DO do calligraphy.  I do a pretty good job of it.  But I don’t even plan on doing it for my invitations, haha.  They are just not a priority for me, in terms of the time, effort, and cost.  I would much rather put that money towards the food and cake.  Has there ever been a wedding guest who said, “The food was awful but this clever/gorgeous/picture of them with their dog invitation totally made the wedding special.” 

Vendors, please don’t “Ugh” a bride just because she didn’t pick you.  Her wedding is about celebrating the fact that she’s making a commitment, not wondering what could have been.

4.  The above issues made me laugh.  But the one that had me walking away feeling angry was a caterer.  And not just because they didn’t bring food to sample, but that didn’t help.  No, they asked me about what I was looking for for a menu, and I told them, “meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan.  For 12 people.”  And at first they were all interested and said we could talk more.  “I said, “that would be great!”  And they said I could spin their prize wheel, so I said I’d like to.  I did…and it landed on a free limo!  I was about to jump for joy, when they moved it and said, “That’s only if you book with us.  Why don’t you spin it again?” 

I was so shocked that I didn’t even say anything.  I just did what I was told, and got a sewing kit.  You know the sort that fits in your purse.  What the HELL?  Here I was, WANTING a caterer, I would have been happy to set up an appointment with them, and they took a free limo right out of my grasp.  Mom was all, “Why didn’t you say something?”  I somehow doubt a little dry erase board on a wheel that no one but us saw is exactly legally binding, so if they didn’t want to give me a limo that’s their prerogative.  But I do not plan on setting up an appointment with them.  They obviously have little desire to make their customers happy! 

So all in all, we didn’t have much luck.  I did get a really nice makeover, which helped me figure out what I do and don’t want for my wedding day.  But otherwise, I don’t have much farther to go.  I’m starting to outgrow bridal shows!  I’m a little sad.  But then I think of how much free time I’ll have.  And how I’ll get to spend it with Adam.  After the abuse I got tonight, I think I’m trading up : ) 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wedding Cake Tasting: Jacques Fine European Pastries in Suncook, NH

I hate driving.

I drove an hour and a half to get to Jacques Pastries to look at wedding cakes. 

I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I've known for nearly 2 years that I wanted Jacques to make my wedding cake.  I'm pretty sure it was the second bridal show mom and I went to that I saw them.  The first was at Spinelli's, and while they were very good, they wouldn't make me a small cake.  At the second show I went to, they were there along with one or two other bakeries.  And there was just no comparison, Jacques' cakes were by far the best tasting cake there.  Mom encouraged me to ask, "Can you make a small 3 tiered cake?  I'm having fewer than 25 people."  They said yes, so that was that.  I've had my heart set on them ever since.  I tried other cakes at other bridal shows and never changed my mind.

So I made the 90 minute trek up to Suncook, NH.  I have to say, much as I hate driving, heading up the highway in New England in the fall on a crisp day will put ANYONE in a good mood.  It was beautiful.  The foliage lit up in the sunlight against a cloudless blue sky, the bridges, the rivers, it was like looking at postcards for an hour and a half.

Another thing that put me in a good mood was the fact that I am alive during a time when GPS exists.  If I was driving there prior to that little innovation I probably would not have made it.  And if I had attempted to drive there prior to MapQuest I am certain I would not have made it (seriously; I gave up on a job interview once because I got too lost).  I only hit one small snag getting there; the GPS said, "You have reached your destination," and I clearly had not.  So after a few minutes of looking for a place to pull over that had a sort of landmark I could give them, parked, and happened to look across the street.  It was right there.

And perfect timing too; I left early, drove pretty fast, but only had 10 minutes to spare.  So if you're traveling from Massachusetts to visit them, keep all this in mind but trust me when I tell you it's worth it.  I was one of 3 other groups all scheduled for a tasting at the same time.  The shop was really cute, and the staff seemed friendly.

We sat down and talked about the day and location of the wedding.  I asked if it was possible for them to deliver it to my mom's house because it's about a half hour closer to their shop (and it's a small cake) and they said sure.  She even checked for me a little later on and it turns out I'd save $60 that way, yay!  We agreed on a 9 am delivery for that day.

Then we talked size.  I told her I was only going to have 12 people, and that I was told I could get 3 tiers.  She balked a little and I said that I didn't mind having some left over.  I wasn't thrilled when she told me it would serve 25, (everyone, please take TWO slices) but I bit the bullet.  My cake topper will fit, it won't look like a cupcake, and she even said the top tier can be a little shorter in order to make it proportionate.  

Next we talked design.  I showed her a printout of 9 wedding cakes, basically white with some filigree/swirly sort of designs, with 3 round tiers.  One of them was even on Jacques' website.  It looked a little on the simple side, and not really intricate and elegant.  But my priority was more that it would just have that traditional feel to it, and that's achieved with the color and silhouette more than how tight the filigree is, I think.

My cake will be this but 3 tiers and no flowers.
So when she confirmed that the more lacy-looking design was going to cost more, and the one I printed from their site is their most basic design, I was okay with that.  After all, at the last bridal show I went to, they had their "mock wedding," and the couple went over to the stunning work of art that was actually a real cake from Jacques, I was horrified when I thought they were cutting into it.  I flinched, I turned away, I said to mom afterwards, "They didn't actually cut it, did they?!?"  It was like a horror movie.

I decided that I want to enjoy how yummy my cake is, not feel like I'm destroying something beautiful when I cut into it.  And I already know that feeling; Adam has gotten me custom made cakes for my birthday and it always kills me to watch them sliced.  No, there's too many expenses when it comes to the wedding; I'd rather save the money than have the most ornate design I can come up with.

On the other hand, when it comes to the TASTE of the cake, I wanted something a bit special.  I've heard that people expect the wedding cake to taste bad.  That form is paramount to function when it comes to wedding cakes.  Well, like I said I've tasted their cakes before so I already knew that does not have to be the case.  And I was prepared to spend $5 per slice (plus delivery) for a cake that people were going to really enjoy, as opposed to $3 per slice that they eat out of obligation.  That was the real reason I made the trek.  And I overheard a group at the next table say that they came from Maine, but it was totally worth it.

So I told her what Adam and I discussed last night:
  • Top tier:  (For our anniversary) Spice cake with cinnamon frosting
  • Middle tier:  (For Adam) White or Red Velvet cake with vanilla or black cherry frosting
  • Bottom tier:  (For me) Lemon cake with raspberry or strawberry preserve
She recommended black Russian frosting on the red velvet, which I said I'd be happy to try, as well as chocolate filling for the white cake, which I'd never turn down even though I knew Adam felt chocolate in a wedding cake is blasphemous.  She came out with the 4 cake flavors we talked about with "vanilla" frosting, and little cups of the other flavors so that I could mix and match how I liked.  That's exactly how I was imagining this tasting would happen!  Otherwise how would they have everything stocked that I wanted to sample? 

So I tried everything, and the top tier was good, my tier was easy to decide (raspberry beat strawberry by a good margin).  Adam's was trickier because, well, I had to guess what he'd like!  I thought the cherry and black Russian were both really good, but really different and I'm not sure which he'd like better, or if he wouldn't like either and prefer plain.  She said I could wrap it up and bring it home for him, and I explained that home for him is England, and I assumed that a month out from the wedding would be too close to make changes.  She said no, they only needed 2 weeks notice to change things, and that gave me an idea.  "What if I took a piece home to FREEZE for him?"  And that's just what I did.  I got a piece, the remainder of both little cups of frosting, and put down vanilla for now.  Paid my deposit, finished off my slices of yummy, yummy cakes, and left happy!  One more task checked off of the wedding to do list!

Top Wedding Planning Tips:
1.  Bring your cake topper with you when you go for your tasting so they can put it on for you.
2.  Bring a palette cleanser!  I put some shredded wheat in a small container to eat after each bite.  This was especially important when eating the same flavor cake with different frostings.  I overheard someone at a nearby group say, "I don't know what's wrong with me; it's all starting to taste the same!"  I didn't have that problem, nor did I have the problem of too much sugar making my mouth hurt and pucker.  The baker provided water but that doesn't really help.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wedding Hair Trial: On Broadway in Revere, MA

Today I had my first wedding hair trial.

At a bridal show.

Mom and I went to the bridal show at the Andover Country Club.  This was the same place that I got to bring Adam to last April, so I felt nostalgic when I walked in. :)

Mom and I arrived at almost exactly the same time, I signed in quickly, and we went in.  It looked like there were fewer vendors than usual, and not even as many people or tables as usual.  Or maybe I'm just used to them now.

We walked around and there weren't many vendors I needed to see!  Wedding dress, done.  Tuxes, done.  Wedding photos, done.  Flowers...well, pretty much done but I talked to them anyway.  We had some cheese and crackers, hit the mashed potato bar (not as amazing as those lobster mashed potatoes at the Methuen Golf Club last week, but chicken, onions and masala gravy are not bad either!) and had some bananas foster.  We made our rounds in about 20 minutes.  Which meant we had 2 hours before the raffles started.  Ouch.

As we met with the last vendor, Jenna with On Broadway Hair Salon, she asked if I knew how I wanted my hair yet.  And I said probably down and curled because I don't like it up.  She told me in February that's fine; I couldn't wear my hair down for the wedding if it was in the summer because it gets frizzy (I'll add that to my list of "pros" for having a winter wedding, heh).  But she said I should have the sides of my hair up in order to give my veil a "base" so it doesn't slide down.  I said I wasn't sure I needed that (and I don't like my sides of my hair up) since the tiara is on a headband, and she said, "Well, I'm doing wedding hair trials tonight, so if you want I can show you what I mean."

A wedding hair a bridal show?

I looked behind her and she had all sorts of hair styling equipment set up on a tray.  We had 2 hours to kill; we'd just be sitting anyway.  "Do you mind?"  I asked mom.  I knew it would end up taking at least an hour because my hair is so thick and fairly long.  She said she didn't, so I went for it!

I have to say, the back looks REALLY cool.  She pinned some curls up so they look like a cascade.  But the  Like I said, I just really don't like my sides up.  And the curls are so tight that I feel like my hair looks really weighted down.  It doesn't help that it's a really formal hairstyle for a button down blouse, hehe.  But I decided to reserve judgement.

After winning nothing in the raffles because I didn't have Adam for a lucky charm (there were 5 $200 cash prizes, and two cash $500 prizes!!!) I went home and put on my whole wedding ensamble.  The dress, the tiara, the veil, the jewelry, and the gloves.  And I was THRILLED.  It was the first time I'd tried on everything together, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  I wasn't lamenting that I'm 20 pounds too heavy, I didn't feel unsure about my hair, I didn't feel like my jewelry clashed with my tiara.  I looked like a princess bride and it was amazing :)

So I learned that each detail really doesn't matter.  I have cheap jewelry, a cheap tiara, cheap gloves, the dress was on sale, and I didn't even wear the shoes.  You don't have to go all out, just pick pieces that you like and you think will work with the overall look, then choose the cheapest.  And as for the hairstyle, once the veil was on, you can't even see the hair style!  The weird little bumps on the sides are completely covered.  And, unfortunately, so are the amazing cascading curls in the back.  So don't worry too too much about the exact style either, if you're going to wear a veil. 

Feeling really good about how everything was falling into place, I took out all the bobby pins and fluffed up the curls slightly.  And I liked the look even better:

I plan to bring the pictures with me when I go to my own stylist to point out how large I like the curls, and to point out those bumps that I don't like, in case she can improve on it.  But even if she can't, I'm not worried about my wedding day hair style any more.  :) 

Readers, what is your relationship status?