Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dress Requirement #1

#1. Must be able to go to the bathroom unassisted.

I am leaning towards a short dress for many reasons, and this is definitely one of them.

Wedding Questions

So you get a lot of questions when you announce your engagement. There are the usual ones - proposal details, when are you getting married, where are you getting married? Then there are the ones that are more unique - will it be vegetarian? Will it be at the zoo?
The one I'm getting and going to get is, "will you make your own dress?"
I used to sew a lot, so I want the answer to be yes. This is for several reasons:
1.) I get what I want.
2.) No pushy salespeople trying to make me buy a $1500 dress.
3.) It fits the first time around (I have a very weird body type.)
4.) It will be a very personal experience.
5.) It will be cheaper.

There are also reasons to not:
1.) It might be a huge undertaking.
2.) It might be a disaster and then suddenly, 6 months before the wedding I'm at David's Bridal struggling to find a dress.
3.) The fabric will be white and I'll probably cut myself with a seam ripper at some point.
4.) I haven't sewn a full on dress (not a halloween costume) in about 3 years.
5.) I'll have to do it at my parent's house so that Mr. M-A doesn't see it.

I'm still weighing the pros and cons. I got offered a job in Michigan for the summer, so if I take that, I can pack up my sewing machine and maybe do my dressmaking out there and come home with it finished.

If I do decide to make my dress, where do I start? First I hop over to A Practical Wedding, where Meg is working on her own dress. Next step: pattern hunting. First stop: big pattern companies.
(None of these are dresses I'm actually considering for my own dress.)
Simplicity patterns are my personal favorite - they're easier to read and the instructions are better. It's totally a personal choice.
I love this one for a short-dress wedding - there are so many possible variations.
Butterick makes some very nice patterns - I think the one I'll end up using, if I do make mine, is a Butterick. (But not this one.)
Another advantage - a lot of dress patterns have sleeves, so if you're looking for a more modest dress, making it might be the way to go.

Vogue patterns have a rep for being hard, but I'm not sure that its deserved. They do tend to be more complicated, so if I were a beginner, I would go with this Vogue - the cowl neckline is super simple and I'm pretty sure this dress is four pieces. It may not even have a zipper. (I have no idea why this is underlined.) If you are a beginner, your wedding dress should not be your first sewing project - start with simple skirts, then move up to a dress. Sewing really does take awhile, or an expert guide, to get the hang of. Some sewing tips I've picked up are pretty basic, but important:
1.) Read the instructions.
2.) Iron every single seam, every inch of fabric. It's amazing the difference it makes.
3.) Use a rotary cutter & mat and cut out on a table. Saves your back.
4.) Have your sewing machine manual very very handy.
5.) Stock up on extra sewing machine needles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What do I want in a wedding?

I want to follow Meg at A Practical Wedding (darn California weddings!) and her "creative.thrifty.sane." vibe. Particularly most of what she said in this post. At this moment, what I want is for people to have fun. I want the wedding to be about what Mr. MA and I want. However, somebody being not forthcoming about what he wants, I get to fantasize a little. So this is the wedding that I want. I want the long tables and simple centerpieces. I want all of our friends and family in attendance. I want to order cheap food and a lot of it. I want people to dance. I want to dance. I want to not care if somebody ruins my veil or spills on my dress. I want to have fun.
I want to not throw a massive expensive party in light of the economy, but I also don't want to have a wedding I don't want to look back and hate. I don't want to have to set the tables myself. I don't want to worry about chargers. What the hell are chargers anyway? I don't care about the "tablescape." So far, my favorite "centerpieces" is a long table with rose petals down the middle and votive candles. I think it would probably cost about $100 total to pull that off.
I don't want to become the bridezilla that my fiance is terrified I will become. I don't want to hear the word "bridezilla" at all in the planning process. Telling the fiance's ex-girlfriend she can't be a groomsman? Not a bridezilla thing. Wanting to do a running of the brides? Not a bridezilla thing. Being upset that at least 4 other friends of mine will probably get married within the same 2-4 month period and all of our friends will be sick of going to weddings and come to mine out of obligation? Not a bridezilla thing. Wanting to wait to pick bridesmaids to know I'm really sure? Not a bridezilla thing.
I want trees and woods. I want great views. I think I want a tent. I want a Unitarian minister and our friends and family to be involved in the ceremony. I want ice cream. I don't really care if the cake is good, as long as we don't pay a ton of money for an overpriced cake. I want a vegetarian wedding. I'm sorry, but I do. I know that's gonna be the first thing to go, but I would love to have it. I want a photobooth. I want a wedding that feels like a night off instead of a whole lot of work.
Eventually this process will shift from what I want to what we want. This will happen slowly, and I hope with as much sanity as possible and very little fighting or compromising what we really want now, because I do think we want pretty much the same things.

Standing up to the WIC

On January 7, 2009, I subscribed to Brides magazine as well as Modern Bride. Bridal magazines cost about $6 apiece and are mostly ads. Very few people subscribe – most people just buy them off the newsstand. I wasn't engaged yet, but was hoping I would be in the 12-16 weeks it would take for them to arrive. If they started showing up next week, I have some explaining to do. Nonetheless, this, besides not wanting/buying a diamond, is my first major stand against the WIC. Like I said, very few people subscribe – but paying newsstand prices when I could pay $10 for a year’s subscription? A one year subscription is 6 issues – that is less than $2 an issue, which is a saving of $4 per issue, translated to $24. Or, if you are lucky and was having a sale, you pay $6 for a subscription, aka $1 an issue, aka pay newsstand price once but subscribe for a whole year.

One of the first things I said after the proposal was, "man, I'm glad you proposed before my subscription to Modern Bride started showing up." Mr. M-A just stared at me and laughed. Two days later, my first issue of Brides magazine arrived through the mailslot, in its textbook sized glory. I think I counted thirty pages of actual content, and the other 700 are ads. I think I will be using the internet for most of my planning, but for the price of the single issue I could have excitedly bought the day after Mr. Mid-Atlantic opened that box, I will get a year's worth of inspiration, ideas, and dress pictures. It's not supposed to be great substance, but it will come in handy when we run out of toilet paper. Also, it includes a checklist that tells me all the things I should have done by now (Its apparently my wedding. Mr. M-A has nothing to do with it. At all. I think I get to dress him up, which will be fun for me because I spent 4 years costume designing.)

There is actually an excellent article in Modern Bride about wedding weight loss - moral of the story is this: brides are crazy, and most women trying to lose weight for their wedding are already a normal weight who have been driven insane. But the article was very interesting - not worth buying it, but you can come over and read mine.

The Proposal

Two weeks ago, Mr. M-A and I made plans to go to Chicago for Valentine's day. It would be the perfect getaway, because I had been so stressed out by law school and we had barely seen each other. Case in point - that weekend, I volunteered for the annual UBSPI auction which raises money for grants for public interest students, and then spent Saturday with my moot court team and then being cranky about not having enough time. We went skating with my 4 year old cousins school and then hung out with my cousin and my sister. The next day was even crazier, because I went to play hockey at noon, then I ran a bunch of errands and visited my grandmother. I finally got home around 5 and Mr. M-A tried to convince me to go for a walk. I resisted. He pushed it as part of the 30-minutes of cross training he was supposed to do for Cherry Blossom Ten Miler training. I wanted to make dinner.
I suggested that I make dinner and he go for a walk alone. He suggested I put dinner in the oven and go for a walk with him. I told him the apartment would burn down, and quite possibly added something about my Grandpa rolling over in his grave/being very embarrassed in heaven. I finally was convinced, and decided to make the best of it (even though it was quite nice out, I was hungry and tired) by taking my camera so that I could take pictures from Federal Hill, which is a really big hill near our apartment that overlooks Baltimore and the skyline. We headed towards the hill and walked around the path that winds up it while I took a series of goofy, blurry, out of focus pictures (it was already almost six and getting dark). We eventually reached the top of the hill and Mr. M-A sat down so we could admire the view. I attempted to continue to walk, because I was a little afraid the apartment would burn down. He made me sit. We sat for a few minutes and chatted, and then he pulled out a ring box and asked me to marry him.
Because I'm a jerk, I asked him why he wanted to marry me, and forced him to give me a list of reasons why he loves me. When I was satisfied with the list, I said yes :). The ring was a plastic 3-D model of the ring he designed himself in one of his fancy engineering programs and we are now getting made at a local jeweler.
I bet you thought I was going to say that he proposed in Chicago - but he didn't. I mentioned that part because I had said to him on Saturday, "I shouldn't expect anything next weekend, right?" I didn't want to set myself up to be disappointed, because I had been before, and I didn't want to be upset. He said, "Of course not. Who proposes on Valentine's day? That would be lame." I agreed, but I knew it would be his last chance to do it before spring break. Unless of course he decided on a spur-of-the-moment, out-of-the-blue proposal on the hill .5 miles from our apartment. It did keep me from being suspicious when we left the apartment and I said, "lets got to the hill first" and he said "lets end up there." I was completely surprised that he did it that weekend, that night, although by the time we were sitting on the bench, I knew it was coming. It was nice to be surprised, and honestly, that is probably the only way he could have surprised me, because I had been anticipating it and being so overeager for so long.

I will post at length later about how long this proposal was in coming, and how long it felt (in reality, it was only about six months in coming but it felt much much much much longer.) I will talk about how to not go crazy waiting (okay, I don't have a lot of good advice on that front.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I have found that a majority of the "good" wedding planning sites out there are based in either California or New York. So I'm trying to pull together ideas from the area where we live. We are in Baltimore. My family is from DC, his is from NJ. Where we get married or what kind of wedding we have is TBD, because our parents haven't even found out we're engaged yet. We'll be telling them on Sunday, and our friends shortly thereafter.
Stick around - pretty pictures, inspiration, budget savvyness, and a tri-state venue search will be forthcoming. Possibly also a new blog name. Any ideas?