Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perfect for the couple who is "waiting"....

Can you imagine getting married here? Yes the space is lovely, but I'm not sure I could put that name on an invitation.

Monday, June 29, 2009

DIY Alcohol

Awhile ago we had some friends over, and briefly talked wedding. One guy mentioned that he was looking forward to our open bar. I said we were just going to do open beer and wine, and were they cool with it? Our friend looked at me and said, happily, "I can get just as drunk on wine as anything else."
What surprised me though, as we started to caterer-hunt, was how picky I was about alcohol. Yeah, I didn't want to do the top shelf open bar for a Sunday afternoon wedding, and I definitely didn't think alcohol would be a priority - we would just serve whatever the caterer has.
I did not know that the average caterer open beer and wine selection was something along the lines of Miller and Coors Light, with a bottle of cheap chardonnay and some kind of red as the wine selections. I don't even drink beer, but I refused to serve our guests Coors Light. Bringing in our own alcohol is often touted as a savings - and we will save some - but mostly because this way we don't have to pay to serve our 20 guests who don't drink. We're going to spend more because we are getting better stuff, and if we had to pay more per-person to get decent alcohol, we probably would. I actually offered one place that we could bring in our own alcohol and still pay for their open bar in addition, because it would be cheaper than going up to the next level.
Ultimately, we're pretty sure that we will be bringing in our own stuff, but we're not sure what to do about bartenders.
We can pay for a bartender through some of the catering companies, and they will bring soda and mixers as well; or we can hire a friend's little brother or we can hire somebody from a bartending company.
We could also do a self-serve bar. Originally I had been like "wait, why can't we just have giant buckets of ice with bottles of beer in them?" and Mark objected because it wasn't classy. Then we went to the Atlantic catering event where they had a self-serve set up, but it looked nice and was hassle free - plus less standing in line to order when nobody is pouring you anything. I think that as long as we have somebody checking on the ice levels and whether the drinks are running low, it would be fine being unattended. There are a handful of underage people coming to the wedding, so I'm not sure if an unattended bar would be legal.
Has anyone done a self-serve bar? Or seen one done? Does it work?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Everybody should get to have this much fun at their wedding.

I finally got around to posting and sorting through some 450 pictures I took in May, so expect to see some more shots from some wedding related events. I will say that I think this may be, hands down, my favorite picture from my friend's wedding. These are two people who somehow approach life with the appropriate mix of serious and good times. What I remember the most about the wedding was how happy our friend was (the guy) and how much fun his wife was having - she was goofing off on the dance floor, giggling with her friends, and posing for fun pictures. At the end of the night they passed around light up necklaces for the kids and she wasted no time procuring some for herself and her bridesmaids.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vacation


Posting is gonna be light for the next week - because we're going to the beach! We're spending 7 days in Sunny Bethany Beach with my sister and 3 of my cousins, plus their spouses, children, and my future sister-in-law. It's gonna be legendary!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Charity Idea: Flowers for Good

I found this series of the Bee Budgets to be interesting, because holy crap are flowers expensive. I was surprised by how much they cost for my sister's wedding, but most of the Bees spent significantly more than she did on flowers. I had already been planning to DIY or DISE the flowers, but now I'm even more committed to that idea.
I did not think that there was a way to use your florals to be a force for good, but I have been proven wrong. Talmar Gardens out in Parkville is a nonprofit horticultural garden designed to serve "all people of all ages with a focus on those with special needs and disabilities. Our goal is to positively contribute to the mind, body and spirit of the individuals we serve by improving their physical, psychological, recreational, educational and social well being." Talmar achieves this by providing vocational training, summer camps, as well as community based instruction, as well as horticultural therapy.
They grow flowers specifically for people to come in and cut them on a weekly basis for special occasions (April through October). This is an option for anyone DIYing, or maybe you could bring the flowers to your florist and just pay for the labor. Talmar also offers a CSA type subscription service - so ask your florist if they would be interested in subscribing!

And for those of you planning a green wedding?
"At TALMAR, our sustainable methods for growing flowers are safer for your home and family. These methods, which reduce pollution and employ only organic methods of growing, use only natural herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers."

Happy picking!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Budgets and Savings

Project Wedding recently had a "Budget Savvy Bride" contest and I found myself getting cranky.
I get really irritated when I see "budget" bridal bloggers who write about how much they saved on something, not in practical terms, but in ethereal ones. For example, people that say, "I saved $4000 on a wedding dress by not buying a Vera Wang." I am not impressed by your budget-savvyness! Do not simply compare yourself to the absolute top of the market and tell me that you "saved" that way. That is cheating, because you were probably never going to spend that much money in the first place!
So this got me thinking - how is "saving" defined? I think of it as the difference between what you can spend and what you do spend.
For example: how much had you budgeted for the item originally, and what did you do to come in under budget. My wedding dress budget was $1000, and I spent $500. I don't tell people that I saved $1000 on my dress because it was a $1500 dress and I bought it for $500 - because I would not have spent that on a dress.
When it comes to a wedding, everybody has a budget they have to meet. They find different ways to pay less for things that are less important to them, or that they can get for a lower price. Or they wind up going over budget because something was more important to them. We all set priorities. Then we change them. It's okay, and it's not a reflection on you as a person or your marriage.
Yes, we saved money on our venue by going with someplace outside of Baltimore that is only starting to get well known. We also saved money by having our wedding on a Sunday - but we still went over our original budget for a venue, so I don't consider this a savings and I'm not going to make myself feel better about it by telling myself that we saved $2000 by going with Irvine instead of another venue.
I guess I think of savings as "what does that exact item normally cost, and how much less did you pay for it." So we saved $250 on our venue because we are now members of Irvine Nature Center and therefore get a 10% discount on facility rentals.
It would probably be cheaper to have a wedding at my church, which would be free, and the reception at either the church or a nearby restaurant or hotel, which might simply have a food or drink minimum instead of requiring us to pay a rental fee and catering costs.
I understand that when you write up your budget and post it, the instinct is to point out that you only spent $700 on food instead of $7,000. And that is fine - just don't then calculate it to "savings of $6300" if your original food budget was $1,000. It is totally okay, and I think preferred, for you to say what you originally thought you would spend on an item and then say how you cut corners to get it, instead of comparing what you spent to "market value" to make yourself seem more budget savvy than you are.
(Also, don't try to tell me you "saved" money on favors by not having them. That is not a savings. I'm saving money by not having an elephant at my wedding. Negative evidence is not evidence. Just leave them out entirely.)
What has been your biggest budget saver so far? As in, what did you budget a lot for that you managed to make cost a lot less than you budgeted? And are you spending that "found" money on some other aspect of the wedding, or is it going towards something else?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2nd Hand Wedding Dresses

Did anybody else see the 100th episode of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? WTF is with the planner when he wigs out because the bride is wearing a secondhand dress? This couple was so hard up that they actually postponed their wedding - and the planner is giving her crap about buying a used wedding dress?
He makes this face and goes, "somebody wore this before you." And she's like, "yeah, but its not like she had Herpes."
Then he gets all bent out of shape and goes, "I'm not going to let any bride wear a used wedding dress. It's her wedding. She should feel special."
I'm sorry, but why should anybody feel more special because they are wearing a dress that they will wear once that cost a lot of money? And why do we think that the dress is so all powerful that it somehow is going to drive how we feel? I bet most people who wear used wedding dresses feel special because they are getting married to the person they love, and because everyone they know showed up to celebrate and support that, not because they are the first person to wear their dress.
I bought my dress new, but I hope to be able to part with it enough to sell it - I love the idea that it might bring other people happiness, for a lower price. If I hadn't found a dress at RoTB, I probably would have bought a dress from preownedweddingdresses.com or bravobride.com or the Weddingbee Classifieds. There are even wedding dress consignment shops (I went to the one in Gaithersburg with my sister - I do I do - but their selection was mediocre, a little overpriced, and the sales staff was pretty rude.)
Initially when I mentioned that I would probably buy a dress used, Mark raised an eyebrow and objected. Not because he thought it was an issue of me not feeling special because I would wear a dress that somebody else had worn, but because for some reason he heard "used" and thought "jilted". He was worried about karma. I'm willing to accept this for certain things - like jewelery. One of my friends friends has a 2ct diamond ring that was her mother's, until her mother got divorced. She calls it "the divorce ring" but she wears it. I'm not sure that I would do that. That's where karma gets to me. But with dresses? It's not like you should blame the dress for the wedding being called off (I guess you shouldn't blame the ring either), and it's not like you should blame somebody else by refusing to wear their dress. The majority of dresses I find being sold online were either worn once or were purchased and then the bride found another dress. This is not bad karma. Especially when buying from a two dress bride. "Their haste and indecision is now your shopportunity."
Did anyone buy a used dress? Did anyone buy a new dress because they were afraid that they wouldn't feel special in a used dress? And does anybody who is actually planning a wedding watch Whose Wedding is it Anyway? I find I can't stand it now because the planners and their "you must have this" attitude makes me go nuts.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Destination Wedding: Where would you go?

If we had not found Irvine, I was fairly ready to chuck it all, call up some all-inclusive resort on some island, and tell them to plan a wedding for October of 2010 for me. I would show up with a dress and a man. Done and done.
I did seriously toy with the idea of a destination wedding. Ultimately, Mark's family (plus some of mine) and the economy stopped me. How could we possibly ask his family to fly not just to New Jersey or Baltimore, but to somewhere even further? How could we ask people in this economy like our friends who can barely afford their rent to pay at least $500 to come party with us in the Caribbean? And how could my friends, who would just be graduating from law school, who would just be starting, or not even starting to accrue vacation, to make a 4-7 hour trip for a weekend? But I toyed with the idea.
Where was my first choice?
We are SCUBA divers. I've been certified since I was 12; both my parents are certified, my sister is certified. As far as Caribbean diving goes, Bonaire is the top and there isn't a lot else. (Okay, so the Caymans was okay. But really.) The shore diving is probably the best in the world.
Unfortunately, the island has 15,000 people on it and nothing to do but diving and some windsurfing. My family would have a great time at our wedding. Also its a long flight - two flights, usually with a layover in Jamaica or San Juan. (Advantage - its pretty far south of the hurricane zone, and we are talking October.)
We have stayed in the past at the Plaza Resort Bonaire, which for about $1070 offers a wedding package for a wedding on the beach. It includes cake for ten. Ten would probably be the total number of people we could drag to Bonaire as well (four parents, two siblings, two sibling-in-laws, bride, groom). Okay, so our friend Tom would come. Maybe Andy. But really, that's pretty much it. We'd need to get extra cake.
My family just planned a trip here for the holidays, and I'm pretty excited. So I find myself turning again to the idea of getting married at the beach. Just Mark and I, and our immediate families, small, simple, a simple dress that won't overheat, him in shorts and a polo, both of us barefoot, some giant tropical flower in my hair. Then we could celebrate with a night dive and a barbecue on the beach. It would be awesome.
Then Mark and I could head off to Aruba, Jamaica, or South America for the honeymoon. Our family could stay on Bonaire and hang out - actually, they would have to - flights only go in and out on Saturdays....
This is probably the most selfish or simple way to do our wedding. It would deprive our family and friends of seeing us get married. And the people we invited would feel obligated to spend a lot of money or would feel guilty that they couldn't come to the wedding or they would feel angry that we expected them to spend a lot on plane tickets and lodging. They would feel bored when they got there and relieved to go home.
If we were having a small wedding, with just our parents and siblings, we could do it here, of course. We could do it in our backyard, at city hall, wherever. But if it was Bonaire or city hall, I think I would pick this, and I think we would all be pretty happy with the outcome. We could just turn it into a fun-filled family vacation, which included some vows and lifelong commitments.
Where would your destination wedding be? Are you having a destination wedding?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Baby Cakes giveaway winner!

And the winner (chosen at random from the commenters thanks to the random.org generator) is... Mariko Y! Congratulations! Please leave a comment on this post with your email address (won't be published) and we'll get you in touch with Emie.

Thanks again to Emie Jane's Baby Cakes for sponsoring the giveaway! And now, for the rest of you who didn't win...I guess it's time to go order yourself a batch; I know that's what I'll be doing (just in time for a week at the beach with various cousins and other family members, so we won't have to eat them all ourselves...).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Honor of Father's Day: Guestpost by the FOB

Last week my worst nightmare happened: My dad found the blog. I have no problem sharing personal details or wedding planning with the entire rest of the world, but my parents? I didn't really want them reading the blog. Mostly because it limits the amount of complaining I can do about them on it. Also because sometimes, I have found, is better to keep people in the dark about wedding plans, and let them know what you've decided afterwards. My father read this post and came up with his own list of suggestions, which, for Father's Day, I am posting here:

Rules for the father of the Bride

1) Do not call your daughter a bridezilla, it is mean

2) Don’t think, it hurts the ball club

3) Do not call your daughter a bridezilla, She has too many knives nearby

4) If your older married daughter is the chief attendant, do not call her the matron of honor, or you could end up in a powder blue tux and ruffled shirt.

5) Do not call your daughter a bridezilla, she chooses your nursing home

6) Do not complain about the shoes. The Worst shoes a man can have are heaven compared to the monstrosities the ladies wear.

7) Do not call your daughter a bridezilla, she would then have no incentive not to become one.

8) If you have to ask what it is, don’t.

9) Remember Dirty Dozen Major John Reisman: “You've seen a general inspecting troops before haven't you? Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!”

10) Remember that the toughest, feminist, Ice hockey paying vegetarian lawyer has been dreaming of this day since she was 5. Let her have it her way

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bridal Shower Week: Crafternoon

This post is going up a little late, but it's taken me a bit of time to get in touch with Emily. I got this idea from Wild and Crazy Pearl. Instead of just having a bridal shower, host a crafternoon! (Crafting + Afternoon). When Emily did this, she invited an instructor from a local crafting shop to come and bring supplies to complete a fun project. The guests decoupaged picture frames as the craft portion of the day, and if you pick a light project like that, it leaves plenty of time for gifts and food as well.
I talked to Emily about her Crafternoon and she filled me in on the details. She had Karen from Ipso Crafto in DC (DC's only independant woman-owned craft store, sadly now closed). She still has the inventory from her shop, so she can do activities like this without it being too much of a burden. Karen brought everything and then came back and picked it up (which is probably what excited me the most). In response to anybody who might be like, "isn't that kind of awkward?" Emily explained that Karen didn't actually spend much time at the party - she brought the supplies and stayed at the party for about an hour, and then came back to get the materials. Guests were asked to cover the costs of the supplies and instruction - $10 per person, but the hostess could simply pay this fee, because it wouldn't necessarily be insane.
You don't have to decoupage picture frames - picture frames makes a lot of sense for Emily, because she takes fabulous pictures, but for somebody like my sister, we would have thrown a papercrafting and stamp party. The craft project wouldn't necessarily have to be wedding-related, in fact, it shouldn't be. It could be a variety of projects, like making cards, soap, candy flowers or some kind of home decor. Emily mentioned that they talked about paper-cutting demonstrations, decoupaging other things, etc. You could consider consulting somebody from Beadazzled about coming to do beading, or a local Stampin Up demonstrator (especially if it's somebody you know who wouldn't be so focused on selling your guests stuff and instead is willing to just let people play with their stuff; this is probably something that can be accomplished with a reasonable fee). You could also just have a crafty friend show everybody how to do something, or you could just let people run hog-wild.
You could even do multiple projects and set up "stations" like they do in elementary school where everybody can work on different projects in different areas. You can do seasonal crafts depending on the time of year. Or you could all work together on some kind of craft project for a local hospital or charity. (Emily said they discussed puppets.) Additionally, any leftover supplies can be donated to a local school or summer camp.
The Invites: Something creative - maybe break out your old spin art machine and make postcard invites? Or you call your sister and you stamp invitations. Or you hit up the local kitschy independant store and buy some invitations there. Anything that looks homemade and heartfelt, but also fun. Or evite :).
Decor: Really? No. You don't need to decorate. Just make sure you have enough tables. Everybody will be looking at the crafty goodness anyway. Just make sure you have enough tables and chairs. Emily did mention that the space issue was a difficulty - she referred to 40 people in her 2 bedroom apartment as "a little crowded". This is the kind of activity that would be great if you have access to any kind of nearby space that is big enough - but the great thing about bridal showers is usually somebody that you know has a big enough house that you can impose on to ask to host the shower.
Food: Low key. Something easy to eat over in a corner or in the kitchen, so the food and the glue aren't too close together. I think pasta salad would be good for this, because you can eat it with a fork and not your hands.
Gifts: If you design it right, the craft could take up the whole afternoon and you might not even have to do gifts. If you do gifts, you could ask that they be craft related, or crafting supplies (I would love this and Mark would hate it, because of my ever expanding craft collection.)
Favors: Crafternoon also potentially eliminates favors, because guests would, in effect, make their own.

This brings Bridal Shower Week to a close - we hope you've gotten some good ideas, and don't forget to enter the give-away!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bridal Shower Week: Charity Fundraiser Shower

I will admit that I am somewhat half-assing this charity post, because I do not have the time nor the energy to catalog every event out there. I have already written about some possible ideas for charity bridal shower type activities, but I wanted to consider the idea of instead of volunteering, having a fun day or evening out.
For a Bridal Shower get-together, consider a fundraiser that supports charity. Buy a table at a brunch, an afternoon tea, or even a swanky evening event (might also work for a bachelorette party). Some ideas (I apologize that I don't have exact dates for many of these):
The Hope Gala - an annual event put on by the Howard County DV center in October.
The Evening of Chocolate - an annual event by NARAL ProChoice Maryland - October 24 this year.
House of Ruth Cabaret - July 16, 2009 - I think this is just a general fun jazzy evening.
You have events like the New Years Charity Ball on New Years Eve.
Women's Law Center of Maryland - Wine and Chocolate event in April
The Mother-Daughter Charity Tea and Clothing Drive in May
Honestly, if you want to consider finding a charity event to attend, just pick organizations you/the bride believe in and see whether they have an event coming up. This is an alternative to a wild bachelorette party or a gift-centered shower. It also means that your bridesmaids don't have to do a ton of work and planning, and your money goes to a great cause.

Bridal Shower Week: Our First Giveaway!

We have a special treat for the end of bridal shower week - our first giveaway!
I found picking a favor to be the most frustrating part of bridal shower planning. I did not want to end up giving away candles or anything else useless. So instead of going useless, go delicious!
Enter Emie Jane's Baby Cakes!
I've been reading Oh me, oh my wedding! for awhile and Emie recently announced she was going to start her own Etsy mini-cake and cupcake business which looked pretty delicious. (Did I mention they are coated in a hard candy chocolate or vanilla shell? Yum!) Yesterday she announced the launch of Emie Jane's Baby Cakes and today we are pleased to announce our first give-away!
Comment below by midnight Saturday 6/20/09 with your name and last initial and you will win 3 dozen of Emie Jane's Baby Cakes for your bridal shower or other event where you might serve or eat 3 dozen baby cakes (...uh, like any Tuesday night....) A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday evening.
Baby cakes come in a variety of shapes, flavors, and colors, with a variety of sprinkles.
The best part though, is that even if you don't win the giveaway, you can purchase your very own set of 3 dozen babycakes for only $.50 apiece ($18)!

(UPDATE: Corrected Saturday morning to show the correct time. Drat those pesky AM and PMs...)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bridal Shower Week: The Lingerie Shower

I attended my first real "lingerie" themed bridal shower recently, and it was in interesting experience. Since it was for my ultramarathoner/triathlete friend, we got her some sexy lingerie as well as a cute sports bra and an under armor thong.
My friend is lucky because she has the kind of family that it is not awkward to open lingerie in front of. She, her mom, and her aunts are all very comfortable around each other. Her future mother-in-law was also extremely awesome and chill about everything.
The Invites: The invites were really cute - they were just invitations typed on blue cardstock which was then pasted on white cardstock. My favorite part though was the little note about my friend's size which was attached to the top left hand corner. It was typed with a "handwriting" style of font, and attached with a little leopard print ribbion. Somehow, the leopard print ribbon gave it just the right touch of "sauciness".
The Food: Anything goes. I have seen cookies shaped like underwear on some of the blogs. At the shower I was at, the cake had a leopard print band around the outside and was delicious. Also having regular food works, because it doesn't have to be themed.
The Fun: The only lingerie themed game I can think of is the one in which everybody buys you a pair of underwear and you have to guess who gave you what. I think this would be fun. At my friend's shower, we played some interesting non-lingerie games - the first one was pretty fun, but a little awkward, as a get-to-know-people game where everybody got a post-it with somebody famous's name on the back, and you had to ask questions about the person and guess who it was. This game usually makes me feel stupid, so I didn't enjoy it as much as other people. It did break the ice quite nicely. What got really fun was when they passed out a questionnaire about how well we knew the bride - including things like favorite color, favorite movie, favorite book, favorite food, first job, shoe size, first kiss, how she met her fiance, etc...since the party had gotten a little inappropriate already, and most of us didn't know the answer to the questions, we all just made up joke answers. For "first job" a surprising number of people wrote "blow", etc. It was fun and funny, and the raunchiest answers were written in by her aunts. After we all answered our questionaires, we passed them in and her aunt read them aloud. It was good but it took awhile, because there were about 30 questionaires. This is a better game for teams. We also played wedding scattegories.
The gifts: Lingerie. Lingerie has different price points and can be purchased at Target or somewhere fancier. If you are uncomfortable getting sexy stuff, you can get cute pajamas. If you are comfortable getting sexy stuff, you can go nuts.
The favors: One of my favorite ideas would be to do lingere sachets - just get small cloth bags and fill them with lavender or other dried herbs. It would be a cheap and easy favor. You can also do racy candy, or regular candy. Other options as favors or probably prizes, because they would be more expensive, would be lingerie accessories - bra strap keepers, strap holders, a bra bag for the washer, double sided tape, etc. I like these ideas because they are practical, therefore less likely to be thrown away like most favors or prizes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bridal Shower Week: The Cooking Shower

This is one of my personal favorite shower ideas - host some kind of cooking class or demonstration. If you have a friend or family member who is a pretty good cook, start with them. You can also check with The Pantry and other local caterers who might be interested in offering some kind of service. The big issue for this is where to host it. Ever since I found out that all my church (Cedar Lane down in Montgomery County) charges for members to rent it is a custodial fee, I've considered whether we could have my bridal shower there, to save my parents the trouble and stress of having all my family members and friend invade the house. Bonus - there is a giant kitchen there which would be great for some kind of cooking demonstration or class. My current church, First Unitarian, might be willing to let us use their kitchen as well - possibly for a fee, or in exchange for some kind of service to the church. Any church or community center with a kitchen might be willing to let you rent their space.
Another idea that I have seen, that might very well be "tacky" is to have a Pampered Chef bridal shower. We spoke to some people at the Atlantic Catering open house about doing it, and I honestly really liked the idea. Except for how tacky it is. But the Pampered Chef folk do a cooking demonstration, and you register with them, and they bring a giant science fair board to the shower that has pictures of what you want, and then your guests buy you the items they want to get you in lieu of bringing a gift. Can anybody come up with a way for me to justify having a shower like this that somehow doesn't scream "tupperware party bridal shower! tacky! tacky! tacky!"? (I have considered hosting a "registry party" instead, in which I host a cooking show and decide on what to register for there at the show. Plus it could be co-ed.)
There actually isn't anything about a cooking shower that says "girls only". Most couples I know cook together, so why not have a fabulous co-ed shower?
The Invites: There are a lot of options, but my favorite idea is to do a recipe postcard. Perhaps if you are an Elvis Fan...or you can make your own using Vistaprint or any other postcard printing service - perhaps with a picture of you and one of your signature dishes.
Another idea is to write out the invite like it is a recipe for something. Take a cue from this recipe card invite for a cookie swap (and who says you can't have your shower be a cookie swap?):
The Food: You can either have it be delicious food that you make at the lesson or during the demonstration, or food made in advance. I can't help feeling, though, that the food for a gourmet class should be homemade. (Another favorite food shower idea of mine is a potluck shower in which everybody brings a dish and a recipe and some kind of tool that is specialized to making the dish, like cookies with a rolling pin and icing with a hand mixer or casserole and a casserole dish, etc.)
The Fun: The cooking lesson/show! This is a great option for people who don't want to play stupid games. Another idea is to have some kind of "at home" iron chef - maybe bride vs. groom, if you're going co-ed, and have the MOH/BM pick the "secret ingredient"; or have the bride pick the secret ingredient and pit the MOB/MOG against each other (my Mom would so lose, unless this was a takeout-ordering-iron chef...secret ingredient is..."telephone!"). There are all kinds of other options as well - this is the only kind of shower for which I think "sniff the condiment" is acceptable (pass around jars with mystery ingredients and smell them to determine what they are). Also, perhaps a recipe mad-libs game.
The Gifts: Uh. Cooking related stuff. This is where I run into problems with my "no registry gifts at the shower" rule. In this case, I'm somewhat willing to make an exception, but you have to make sure that your registry has a lot of other stuff on it - it's not fair to your guests who aren't invited to the shower if all the good stuff gets bought off the registry before they can get to it. Make sure the registry has a lot of linens and other things that you need, not just kitchenware. Also, encourage your guests to get creative - showers are great because the guest is there, watching you open the gift, and when you hold up the thingy and go, "wtf?" they can say, "that's a cannoli stuffer!" In the spirit of the potluck party, the shower host/hostess can simply ask guests to include a recipe with their gift so you can use it. This gives excellent fodder for thank you notes later as well, in which you say, "I loved making mini lemon bundt cakes with the mini bundt pan you gave me. Please come over for dessert sometime so I can make them for you!" Or even, "I tried to make lemon meringue pie in my new pie pan but the crust melted and fell and lit the oven on fire. Please come show me how to do it properly!"
The Favors/Prizes: This is my favorite part. A lot of the wedding websites have goofy things like bride and groom salt and pepper shakers, or a perfect "pair" salt and pepper shakers, or a "love" cheeseknife or tiny fondue sets, etc. I say for favors, if your cooking lesson & registry and tastes tend more towards baking, consider cookie cutter favors. You can buy a jumbo set of cookie cutters for $10-20 and your guests can choose what shape they want; or you can go with something more wedding-y. Bonus - tie them with a great sugar cookie recipe. Or one of the bridesmaids can gather recipes from everybody in advance and make little cookbooks and hand those out as favors.
For prizes, I say go uber-practical. Heat resistant silicone spatulas (run $5-10); a cookie scoop; a flexible spatula (great for cookies and fish); a set of wooden or nylon spoons; potholders, trivets, a coated whisk - any of these things are must-haves and can-never-have-too-manys. (Maybe the cookie scoop. I'm projecting. I want one.)
Another idea - instead of a guest book, use a recipe book and have guests sign pages or annotate recipes that are similar to what they make.

Sorry this post has been so long and overwhelming - I just get a little excited when it comes to food. I know there's more great ideas for food-themed showers out there, so keep 'em coming.

Bridal Shower Week: Favor Idea

Did You Know.... Plastic shopping bags are typically used less than 30 minutes and only 1 % are recycled. The average American adult uses approximately 288 bags a year, or 22,000* in an average lifetime... make and use a Recycled T-Shirt Totebag today! *Source: 2008 Piedmont Environmental Alliance, NC

Every time I volunteer at something, give blood, run a race, or show up too early to a baseball game, somebody hands me a free t-shirt. I seriously have a ridiculous amount of them. I have a dedicated t-shirt drawer at home and its overflowing. I don't even wear them to the gym because I hate working out in cotton.

The above link is a girl scout trying to earn her gold award who wrote a DIY instructable for making tote bags out of your t-shirts. It occurred to me that this would be a fantastic favor for the eco-friendly bride (why hello!) or groom having a shower. The only thing I have to add to the instructable is that you should consider sewing everything with a zig zag stitch instead of a straight stitch because it has been my experience that zigzag holds better on stretchy fabrics.

Bonus: use kids t-shirts to make lunch sacs!

"Bridal" Shower Week: the Coed Shower

And you thought you weren't going to hear from me this week! (Since the giveaway isn't done, I'm declaring that the week isn't over yet either)

I've only been to one "wedding" shower (which I suppose is how you say it when you make it coed and don't want to scare the guys away); it was a good time, and only a little awkward. It also happened that I was the best man, so it perhaps made some sense for me to be there, although the other groomsmen weren't, as they lived further away; it's not really the sort of thing that people want to come into town for, I suppose. The main reason for doing the coed shower was that the bride's group of friends included fewer girls.

The invites: Nothing too fancy. Skip the ribbons and potpourri.

The decor: Decor? What's that? Really though, I don't remember the shower we went to having much if any decorations. Maybe one of those hanging-letter Congratulations! banners from the party store. If you're not having a super-themed shower, do you really need decor?

The food: Anything you want. I think grilling is a great way to keep it from feeling too froofy, but as long as you're not serving quiche and cosmos I don't think you can go too far wrong.

The fun: No toilet paper bride. No lingerie games. Games with an element of competition are always a good way to get us awkward feeling guys to loosen up. Quiz games about the bride and groom, or quizzing the bride and groom about each other, are good. Sniff the candle, not so much. Team games are a plus too - especially guys vs girls, because if you're having a coed shower, why not?

The gifts: let's stay away from the lingerie and sex toys. That's awkward enough with a group of women, it's going to be much worse when the guys are there (particularly the one that the bride will be using them with). You could go with one of the themes Ellie posted about - honeymoon, for instance - or maybe (G-rated) activities two people can enjoy together, like tickets to a show or the movies, board games that don't suck with only two players, cooking lessons for two, gift certificate for a couples massage (if they wouldn't find that uncomfortable; I think we would).

The favors: We have an unreasonable portion of our horizontal space filled with candles and other items that came from events like this. Edible is good. Edible doesn't take up space for long. Otherwise...use your imagination, I guess. =)

Bridal Shower Week: The Board Games Shower

Some shower ideas work best with larger showers, some with smaller showers. One of my friends was trying to come up with a casual shower theme for a friend's shower. Somehow she came onto the idea of a board games shower, which I wholeheartedly agreed with. If the group is small enough, like 10-12, you can really just set up checkerboards and play games. If it's larger, adapt some board games for a big group. (Large scale pictionary on an easel, etc.)
The invites: If you're going paper, check out these. Use a classic board game image, like monopoly pieces, or an image of the board as the backing. An image of dice, etc. There are also some cute options over at evite.
The decor: Board games set up around? Maybe checkers tabletops? Dice and gamepieces? You could also go streamers and anything colorful - nothing says cheerful and fun like board games.
The food: Anything goes - but when I was a kid, we had a kids cookbook that had recipes for domino brownies (just draw the numbers on the brownies in white frosting); you can do
cookies and put them on a checkerboard. You could
The fun: Pictionary with wedding stuff, or not. At the last shower I was at, we did wedding scattegories, wedding style - draw a grid on a piece of paper. The left axis will be wedding related categories; the top axis is either the bride's name (if it's 4-6 letters with no repeats) or just the word "BRIDE". Categories? Stuff like "things you find at a wedding" "wedding gifts" "honeymoon destinations" "first dance songs" "famous couples", etc. The usual scatergories rules apply, except you get like, 5 minutes and you fill out the entire sheet. (I would do a practice run first and see how much time is enough time.) It worked really well - although there were only like, 10 of us doing it - so if you have more people, I would break them into teams (teams might be more fun anyway, because it encourages people to get to know each other.) If you have small enough numbers, just divide into teams and play taboo and outburst and stuff.
The gifts: Board games! You can expand to puzzles if you want. Board games are great because they can be really cheap, and can be purchased anywhere. You can get really creative or be really classic, and it gives the gifts a lot of freedom. You may run the risk of getting 10 kinds of monopoly though...
The favors: Decks of cards? Poker chips? Travel board games? Those cheap games they sell at Kay Bee Toys for like, 2 for $3.
Have fun and run with it! If you have more ideas, let me know!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A brief interruption :


Via Classic Bride - there is a Priscilla of Boston Sample Sale this Friday - gowns from $199 up! Bridesmaids dresses from $19.99 up! PoB isn't really my style for wedding dresses, except some of the short ones, but I loooooooooove her bridesmaids dresses! (I can totally see my sister in the one above on the right.)
There is a salon in Tyson's Corner for all you lucky people still in the area! (And nothing in Michigan...)

Bridal Shower Week: Who throws a shower?

It occurs to me as I write these posts as it may be construed as tacky or telling you to either expect a shower or to request a shower. I tend to write these posts saying, "you" instead of your host/hostess. So I want to clarify a few points.
Firstly, somebody is probably going to throw you a shower, and if they don't, don't sweat it. If you really want one, approach your most trusted friend and ask them about it. Don't throw a fit if you don't get one, showers are not an obligation.
Secondly, there is a concept that since the shower is a gift, you don't get any control. I disagree with this to an extent. No, don't micromanage your shower. But yes, it is okay to tell your hostess that you really would rather not have a lingerie themed shower, or that you want a co-ed shower, or that you want to keep the guest list for the shower small. It's not a guarantee that it will happen, but it is okay to make some requests. Asking that the shower be on a convenient date or in a convenient location is also acceptable. I don't think that I would have thought of any of these things as rude when I threw my sister's shower. And I've been to plenty of showers where the bride would have been much happier if everybody she had asked for advice hadn't told her it would be rude to make requests of her shower-throwers.
Thirdly, your shower-thrower may want help. They may ask you flat out what kind of shower you want. Everybody winds up happier that way unless your response is, "I want a surprise shower" because then you at least know you're getting a shower. So if the shower thrower wants help, and you happen to see an idea on the blog that you like for a shower, it is easy to say, "I saw this idea online...it could be neat" and pass along the link. I've done the micromanaging for you :-p.
Fourthly, you will probably have to throw a shower too someday. And most people do not desire to sit through an afternoon of "sniff the candle" and compete over who can say "ooh that's nice" the loudest when you get gifts. So I wanted to put the ideas out there.
I just wanted to clear the air in case anybody couldn't believe that we were telling people what kind of showers to throw themselves or expect.

Bridal Shower Week: The Book Shower

I love the idea of the Book Shower that Meg at A Practical Wedding had. I absolutely love to read, and so does Mark, so this is a great idea for a girls-only or coed shower.
The Invite: You can always go simple - evite or a simple invite with a picture of books. Or you could do a really cute invitation made to look like a book. Or do something a little fancier like this - but the ruining the book breaks my heart! Or go with a literary theme for the invites themselves - like these cute mad hatter cards:
The Decor: Keep it simple, fun, and festive. Maybe have a bunch of coffee table books lying around for people to persue?
The Food: Depends on the time of day - you could do it as a tea party, or a coffeehouse type affair - coffee, scones, coffeecake, etc. And of course a cake shaped like a book.
(Yeah. That's my Contracts professor. You may have seen him, and me, on Ace of Cakes.)
The Fun: Charades with book titles, or the usual games - toilet paper bride, he said, she said. Bonus points to anybody who can come up with better game ideas than mine. Ooooh maybe toilet paper literary bride where you dress your poor friend up as a wedding book character. And perhaps some madlibs from great literary tomes.
The Gifts: Books! Books are great because they have a bunch of price points. Your guests can get something that reflects them and their relationship with you. I can guarantee you that I know who would give me cookbooks, who would give me trashy chick lit, who would give me fantastic action spy thriller books, and who would give me a guide to training for a triathlon.
The Favors: Bookmarks. Or just raid a pile of used books at the 25 cent table and let everybody take home a book. Prizes could be Amazon or Borders gift cards.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bridal Shower Week: The Honeymoon Shower

It's bridal shower week here at Wedding for Two, so every day I'll post about a different type of bridal shower that you can throw for somebody/have somebody throw for you. First up is the only bridal shower I've ever thrown - the Honeymoon shower.
For my sister's shower, she had specifically said she didn't want lingerie (because at my cousin's shower, her future mother-in-law gave her lingerie and somebody was like, "so did you enjoy picking out sex clothes for your son?") So I wanted to come up with a theme so we could offer guidance and ideas on what to buy, without being like, "buy something off the registry." (My pet peeve with showers.) Somehow, out of this the idea for a honeymoon/travel themed shower was born (and everybody got the message to not buy lingerie.) Her honeymoon was in Greece, and offered the opportunity for all kinds of ideas - bathing suits, cute swim coverups, purses/bags, flip flops, sunscreen, beach/plane reading, etc. I considered having her make an amazon wishlist to put on the e-vite but then just made a list of some ideas and left it at that.
The details:
The invite: Evite, including a picture of Santorini. If we had used paper invites, perhaps a vintage postcard with the invite on the back. Now, I really wish we had used paper invites...but since I don't have a time machine, I'm letting it go.
The decor: Her friends were kind enough to host the shower at their house, and they did the decor. They went with a beautiful carribbean blue with hot pink accents. You could also throw in some stuff like "Bon Voyage" signs or posters of/from the area where the bride or couple is honeymooning.
The food: We actually went with mostly stuff from Lebanese Taverna, because there is a lot of crossover and I couldn't find a good greek restaurant that delivered. Obviously, this is pretty easy - you go with whatever food is local to the honeymoon destination. I really wanted to label all the foods and various things in the room in Greek, so that people could learn the Greek words for things, but like many other ideas, this never materialized. (Event planning is all about letting things go.)
The fun: We played the standard games - toilet paper bride; and the one where you ask the groom questions beforehand. I couldn't come up with anything very honeymoon themed - but it could be very easy to do so. You could do a trivia game, or some kind of charade with movies/books set in that area. (For Italy, this would be especially easy. La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday, Under the Tuscan Sun, Daisy Miller...)
The gifts: Only two people brought lingerie, the rest went with clothes, flip-flops, swim coverups, gift cards, bags, sunscreen, and gourmet food. Very few gifts off the registry, and the ones that were were relevant and mixed with food. Gifts spanned a range of price ranges and I don't think there was much pressure to spend more than you wanted to. It also allowed for creative thinking. Some of us cheated and specifically asked what the bride wanted. In the end though, it worked out really well, and the gifts were actually fun to open because they weren't all gifts off the registry that people had seen before.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bridal Shower Week

I wanted to take some time to feature awesome ideas I have seen/heard for bridal showers, because I think typical showers are really lame, but I love the concept behind a shower - an intimate gathering of your close friends and family to offer them an opportunity to get to know each other and have fun. And I guess gifts. I'm very big on people getting to know each other before the wedding, especially if you have a lot of friends who won't know anybody. A shower is a much better opportunity for them to get to meet people than the wedding itself.
I want to focus on themes because I think that having a theme can offer you the opportunity to encourage fun creative thinking for gifts. I hate showers that just encourage people to buy a second expensive gift off the registry. The buying gifts off the registry thing bothers me for three reasons - firstly, it means that the gifts aren't for the bride, they are for the couple, yet somehow the bride is responsible for receiving them and acting gracious; secondly, because I believe you should get creative with gifts and that buying two gifts off the registry is annoyingly restrictive; thirdly, it seems rude to ask your guests for two expensive gifts. A shower theme can easily encourage your guest to limit their spending.
If you have any great ideas for shower themes, send me an email or a comment - I love new and different ideas!
P.S. Clearly, Mark has nothing to do with this series. Showers are so obviously a girl thing....or are they?????

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Other people are just so darn talented.

Check out these invites by evapaul over at Etsy:
I think that this is so cute, with the little green birds on the tree branch and I love the vintage typewriter type...
How cute is this little birdie?
And then there is this guy...for some reason the "handwritten"esque note down in the corner almost makes me want to cry....it seems so personal and lovely!
Unfortunately at $4 a pop, these kind of break our "less than a dollar an invite" price range. Although at some point we need to sit down with our spreadsheet and figure out how many people we actually need to send invites to - I think that for 130 people, we'll probably need 50-60 invites...so maybe spending $100 or $150 on the invites isn't totally unreasonable. However, considering the degree to which we slashed the budget recently, I think that I will have to settle for using these guys as inspiration when I go to design ours. I think I would ideally go for some combo of the second and fourth....maybe a tree or tree branch with some leaves just changing colors, with a "handwritten" note.
Is anybody else hopelessly in love with something just a wee bit out of range? Also, is it somehow wrong to want to really blatantly take inspiration from something you love that is expensive? Kind of like buying a knock-off or "inspired by" dress? If there are any IP lawyers out there, please stand up!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pre-Wedding Surgery

I'm always surprised when I hear people talking about getting work done for their weddings. Uh, that was a lie. I'm surprised when I hear people talking about getting work done, period.
There was an episode of Say Yes To The Dress I saw once where a girl showed up and was like, "yeah, since my last fitting I got my boobs done, so I want to make sure my dress fits."
I was pretty stunned. Whatever happened to loving yourself just the way you are?
Okay, lets not lie here. I'll be honest. Even I am not totally in love with myself just the way I am. But like Carla says in Scrubs, "I can hop out of the shower and look at my naked body for a whole ten seconds without totally losing it -- that's more than most women!" Yes, I'm still trying to lose 10 pounds. But that's no reason to go all "Extreme Makeover"!
Maybe part of it is the usual using the wedding as an excuse. We use weddings as an excuse to buy Jimmy Choos, to buy Goccos, to buy 10,000 dresses, expensive makeups...why not use it as an excuse to buy yourself some new parts?
I guess its like most other things related to weddings: if you had always wanted to get whatever it is done, then maybe, yeah, throw an extra 10k in the budget for your new boobs or nose or ears or whatever. Because if you're planning to do it after the wedding, you might as well do it before - otherwise, you will always look at your wedding pictures and consider that you don't look like yourself.
But don't get plastic surgery to fit into the dress! Don't alter yourself to fit Vera! There is a dress out there that flatters you, not the you that Modern Bride thinks you should look like.
Also, don't go into debt for plastic surgery for your wedding. That is not worth it.
What say you, readers? Yay or nay? Plastic surgery for weddings? Would you judge somebody who did it? Is it all just the bitter end of the "look your best on your special day" mentality?

Charity Friday: Helping the homeless

What do you do with all the items you're replacing with upgraded registry gifts? Put them in storage or the basement for 20 years, so you can give them to the kids when they go off to college? Turn pots and bowls into decorative plant pots, and play frisbee with the plates? How about putting them to good use instead?

Ellie's father brought up a local men's shelter that he often donates used goods to. Their web site is here, but not all that detailed; here's a slightly better description from the Jewish Information and Referrals Service:
Transitional housing for 15 homeless men with chronic mental illness. Provide them with medication monitoring, psychiatric and medical care, and addiction recovery. Program offers job training, daily living skills training, disability benefits, and resources needed to obtain permanent housing and employment. Referrals accepted from case managers from county or social services agencies only. Serve 3 meals/day, shower and laundry. Accept donations of men's clothing, toiletries, clothing, cereals, condiments, other food.-call main line for info.
Open to Montgomery County residents only.
So basically, since they're setting these guys up for independent living, anything you need to fit out a small apartment - cookware, plates and cups, linens, etc. - is a helpful donation. And that list looks suspiciously similar to a list of typical registry items. So if you

Here are some similar operations in Baltimore that are looking for "in-kind" donations of this sort:
Marian House (women's transitional housing)
At Jacob's Well (Transition and permanent housing for mentally ill men and women)
Project PLASE (Baltimore transitional housing for the homeless; also accepts food.)

Please comment and let us know about any additional charities in the area that would be able to accept our somewhat gently used pots, pans, plates, sheets, towels, etc.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How did the Wedding Day 5k go?

Remeber how I talked about our plans to run a 5k on my friend's wedding day?

We all did pretty well and had a great time. I set a new 5k time for myself - 27 minutes 29 seconds. People enjoyed seeing my friend running with her hat veil, and we all had a super awesome time. The course was also great - looping from the Columbia Maryland Library to Lake Elkhorn and back. I highly recommend running an 8am 5k if you have a 5pm wedding - we were out of there by 8:45 - plenty of time to shower and get pretty!

Last name change

Out here in Michigan I have been trying to use my single last name and "new" shorter initials. This is partly in preparation for my career, and partly in preparation for my "married" last name being half of my current last name.
It's really hard. I don't understand how people do this. I keep writing the wrong initials on food and other stuff I have to initial. I keep messing up and stuttering over my last name when I talk to people on the phone. I forget which last name I gave to people in the past and I don' t know what they have me in their system under.
However, I do love having one last name. It's so simple. It's so easy. Spelling it is cake! My clients call me and they don't sound confused by my last name.
I can understand why people go from unpronounceable last names to "Brown". It's so easy! I can understand why people go from anything with 20 consonants to like, five letters. I mean, I'm not so down with the total identity change, but I understand the desire for simplicity.
How do people get used to it though? The initials thing is really throwing me...any tips?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sometimes you want to write other bloggers a "thank you" card.

So over to theunbride - thank you.
I've only been in two weddings. But when I see people on blogs assemble their bridesmaids gifts, I can't help thinking, "ugh, I don't want that."
In her words, about what your bridesmaids might like, "They do not want a) Another monogrammed tote bag containing ‘cute’ flip flops b) A picture frame with or without a photo of the two of you c) A random piece of jewelry that is solely pertinent to their bridesmaid’s dress or d) All of the above."
I've only been in two weddings. For one of them I got item C as well as a thing of bath products. For the other, I got this:
It's the Tiffany starfish necklace. I've been eying it since I discovered the internet and tiffany.com. Every girl in my high school had the heart. I never wanted the heart. I wanted the starfish. (This sounds really selfish. It's not like I was waiting for my high school sweetheart to buy it for me.) However, since it was ridiculously expensive and I knew I would never spend that on myself, or ask anyone else to, I simply bought a knock off...but it wasn't as nice. And it was awkwardly sized.
My sister watched me occasionally pull it up online. She watched me eye it in the Tiffany window. And since she knew that I was far too thrifty to ever buy it for myself, but because she believes I deserve the very best, it was my bridesmaid/maid of honor gift for her wedding. I tried to tell her that it was too much, but she wouldn't hear of it. Initially, I felt guilty accepting it - I was a mediocre maid of honor. (It was my first time! The first time isn't good for anyone!)
But I wear it all the time. I love it. The quality is better than all of my other jewelry, and it's just so darn cute! As all the best gifts are, it was something I really wanted but would never get myself.
And it wasn't the same as everybody else's. Our bridesmaids gifts reflected who were were as people. As I consider my own ladies, I know that I will go the same route - because I love these people because they are different from each other, and they all have different tastes and needs. So I suspect that even if each girl does get some token piece of jewelry, they will also get some sort of gift that reflects their individuality, our relationship, and how grateful I am to them for their help. And I don't think that you have to present matching gifts to everybody at the rehearsal dinner, and I don't think that you have to get everyone gifts of the same value. This comes up sometimes on Weddingbee and a bridesmaid isn't pulling her weight and somebody is like "I bought her a really nice gift but I don't want to give it to her." I think if you think of it as giving something more to your bridesmaids who were really there for you during the planning, instead of some kind of punishment for the ones who didn't have the time or just didn't want to be involved, it seems reasonable.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gay Marriage in Michigan

I sat through a presentation by a gentleman from the Michigan ACLU yesterday about LGBT rights in Michigan. It was incredibly depressing. I watched this man and wondered how he gets out of bed in the morning, continuing to fight the same old losing fight with very little hope on the horizon.
Maryland is far from having gay marriage - but we do have anti-discrimination laws that prevent people from denying housing based on sexual orientation. We have hate crimes legislation. We have second-parent adoption. We allow state benefits to be extended to same sex partners. (Stop me if I say something wrong.) For the most part, we are the epitome of a state that does not recognize "special" rights for gay people, but gay people get the same rights as the rest of us. (Don't get me started on special rights. Equal rights are not special rights.) Michigan doesn't have these proctections. You can kick people out of your apartment complex for being gay. You can only be part of a second-parent adoption if you are married to the parent (aka a step parent.) You can't have visitation with your kid if you're transgender. You can't have overnight visitation with your kid if a person who is not the parent of the child spends the night at your house. You can't put a domestic partner on your health insurance if you work for a local or state entity, like the public library.
I can understand, somewhat, being against gay marriage. But being against gay families? Families come in, have always come in, all different shapes and sizes. Friends and sisters raise children together; grandparents raise children; teenagers raise children. Plenty of couples never have children. Telling people that their family cannot look a certain way is just wrong. (If you're going to throw polygamy or incest at me, don't bother.) Some families are large, some families are small. Ultimately though, families are the core units which make up our society. And everyone should be allowed to have them.
I also don't understand being against domestic partner benefits. I don't. Ultimately, people are gay. They exist. And it is none of your damn business who gets covered by their employer. Every day, your tax dollars go to fund things that you don't agree with. They fund wars, they fund abstinence-only sex education; they fund weapons and schools and libraries and abortion clinics and everything else in between. To pick on families, families with children, who love each other, whose employers want to give them benefits like health insurance - how can you take that away? I don't understand it.
As I sat there with my blood boiling, I considered two things: that I am grateful to be a Marylander, despite our backwards catholic laws; and that I am extremely unhappy to be getting married at a time in which most of my gay friends cannot. Not unhappy enough to hold out for gay marriage the way Brangelia and Charleze Theron are; but unhappy enough to feel somewhat guilty sometimes for enjoying this right. I know though, that my gay friends are happy for me, and they do not fault me my right to marry. Instead, they wish they had it too. And so do I. So for now, I think the best I can do is simply continue to support gay marriage, to continue to care, to continue to write to my congresspeople and state legislature and remind our readers that if our marriages are legal not only where we live, but in every other state, then we are very very lucky, and we should not take those rights for granted.
Truely, no one can be free while others are oppressed. And until gay marriage is recognized, all of our marriages remain a weak institution that is a product of state-controlled whims and mandates on who can love one another.

Shoes and the Difficult Feet that Wear Them

I survived both a bachelorette party and a wedding recently in my 2-inch heels, and while I still have twinges of occasional pain where my old foot injury threatens to reoccur I think as long as I can stick with 2-inch (or less) heels and wear them for a fairly short period of time, I will be okay. So I can put shoes with heels on my possible wedding shoes list. This is mostly because I find it extremely hard to dance in flats or wedges - after taking 2 years of ballroom dance lessons, you get used to being able to place your weight on the heel and use a high heeled shoe to help you dance. So I'm on the hunt for heels.
So then the only problem is the same old problem - the problem I have had with almost every pair of shoes.
Blisters.
I have extremely sensitive skin. It swells easily, chafes easily, and blisters quickly. In my evening bag that I always carry is a sewing kit, four kinds of bandaids (blister, knuckle/fingertip (the best for heels), small and round, and standard), and bodyglide. I may have a lower tolerance for blisters than other people, but I also blister faster.
My requirements for shoes are first of all (bad vegetarian) that they be leather, because leather is about 50% less likely to cause blisters. Even less likely if it is expensive leather, really soft, and not poorly stitched. Further requirements: not too strappy (fewer contact points for blisters) and flexible sole. Is it too much to ask that they be attractive as well?
My first instinct is to wear some kind of sturdy, non-trippable shoe for the ceremony and tromping around in the woods for pictures, and then some kind of ballroom dance shoe for the rest of it.
Ballroom dance shoes have an extremely flexible sole - and they let you have a lot of freedom on the dance floor. Plus, places like dance shoes online sell them for a fairly reasonable price - but you have to know your size. Most ballroom shoes cost around or over $100, but people regularly buy themselves Kate Spade or Christian Loubeitan (sp?) shoes for their weddings and I'm pretty sure they never wear them again. That does not make this okay, but if we did get back into ballroom dancing, I would rewear my dance shoes. I worry though, that I would ruin them at the wedding because I would probably walk around outside in them, etc.
There is also the option of trying to simply find a really comfortable shoe. I'm starting now, because this is often a months-long hunt. I like to go to zappos, search women's comfort shoes, narrow it down to white sandals, pick a mid-heel, and then scoff at how unbelievably overpriced the shoes are. However, much to my surprise, recently, I found these:
1) Not totally hideous.
2) Comfort brand, which sometimes means squat and but often means they are okay
3) 59.99. Not bad. More than I spend on shoes I wear every day to work, but in the world of weddings, totally cheap (let me pull out my wedding calculator...10x(what I usually spend) = $200 shoe budget).
The great thing about zappos is you can read the reviews - I usually total up all of the comments people make, and take them into account, because if one person had that problem, I will probably as well. Based on the reviews that complain about the shoes not being narrow enough, and not padded enough, and not having the arch support in the right place, I will not be ordering these.
I am feeling encouraged though, and will be keeping my eyes out when I go to the discount stores.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How to be an Engaged Divorce Lawyer

So some of you know, and I'm not sure if I mentioned exactly why I was picking up and heading out to Michigan for the summer, but I'm out in Ann Arbor practicing family law. (Yes, actually practicing - the student practice laws out here are very flexible.) Family law, you say, isn't that divorces and stuff? Isn't that incredible depressing and draining work?
I say, why yes, yes it is. Truth be told, for the truly romantic, family law can be a soul crushing and draining experience. You sometimes represent clients who will spend every penny they have to make sure their ex goes just as broke as they are. You represent people who use their kids as a toy to get what they want out of their spouse.
When I first got interested in family law, I couldn't believe how depressing it was. I was temping down in DC at a large family law firm where the lowest paid attorney there billed at $400 an hour, and the top guy was at $800. People spent as much on their divorces as they did on their weddings.
I would read their transcripts and answer the phones and meet clients who, despite having stood up in front of their friends and family and promised to stand beside each other, until death did them part, were out to rip each other to shreds. I saw clients who had literally, ala first wives club, given the best years of their life to their spouses, only to be kicked to the curb. I saw clients who were dealing with cheating wives who were using drugs. I saw men stalk their spouses through their cell phones and GPS devices. I saw clients who hired bodygaurds to keep their spouse away from their kid. These were people at their absolute lowest and sleaziest.
I think if I had been there for more than a few weeks, it would have killed me, and any belief I had left in marriage. As it was, it took me quite some time to recover. Quite some time to realize, "I don't ever want to be like that," and more importantly, to realize I didn't have to be.
When I started to get into family law, I approached it from the DV standpoint. With DV, sometimes our clients make bad choices, and sometimes they don't know what they are getting into. But in DV cases, I know who I want to win and it's never the abuser. In cases with really poor clients, who are who I represent now, you know they aren't wasting your time just to make the other party miserable. They just want to get out of the relationship with what is left of their spirit intact.
I have clients who have an amazing resilience, an enormous capacity to handle pain and heartbreak. I have clients who are poor, bitter, broken shells of the people they used to be. Clients who say things like, "if only I had kept my job and stayed in my apartment, I would be better off right now."
I think if you don't consider the divorce rate, and the reasons why people get divorced, and you get married anyway without realizing that it could happen to you, you are deliberately blinding yourself. And to walk into a marriage simply saying, "marriage is hard, but you make it work" can also be a devastating mistake.
Some marriages don't work. I understand this. Some marriages are going to fail, from the first day when you put on the dress and you walked down the aisle and said that you did. Sometimes it's because you didn't. Sometimes it's because he didn't. So make sure that this is somebody you can spend your life with - not just in a romantic sense, but in a practical sense. Does he or she treat you well? Does he or she genuinely respect you? Respect your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions? Do they listen to you when you speak and consider your ideas about things that matter? Do they let you make some of the decisions?
I find it difficult to deal with my clients who say things like, "I never should have married him." Because I sit there with my ring on my finger (sometimes really feeling self conscious and hoping they don't realize its an engagement ring) and I make plans and I intend to pledge myself, wholly and fully, to a single other person, for the rest of my life. I wonder if I will be like them in ten or twenty or forty years, sobbing over the wreckage of my life and wondering how I could have wasted so much time on somebody who wasn't worth it.
I know that part of why I do the work that I do is that I believe firmly and fully that my clients are deserve real happiness. They deserve what I have. They deserve somebody who really respects them, who will support them and help them to be the best person they can be. They do not deserve to be with somebody who wants to break them down, to insult them so they have no self esteem, to be with somebody who pushes them to use drugs or alcohol to make them feel better. For the most part I don't tell them this, and I would never tell a client that I was engaged unless asked a direct question that I couldn't avoid. I simply try to listen, and I remind them that nobody deserves to be hit, or to be called a lazy bitch, or anything along those lines.
I'm not sure that I will ever go back to rich people divorce - yes, an attorney can make a lot of money, but I'm not sure that I can stand to watch people throwing it away on making each other miserable, or using their kids. Ultimately, I've found that the really bad divorces all hinge on the same element - there is not enough respect. Love, it turns out, is irrelevant. Respect is what matters. If you respect somebody as a person, you can make a clean break - you can say, "we are simply too different people to make this marriage work for any longer." When you don't respect somebody, you try to control them. You try to make them feel the way you want them to feel, because it makes you feel better.
Ultimately, the way to be an engaged, or married, or single divorce lawyer without losing your soul is to constantly examine and reexamine your own realationship, considering what similarities and differences you have with your clients. Don't pretend there aren't any, that will not help you. When you see similarities, consider how to work through them. If it's a really tough similarity, consider bringing in third party help. Often though, talking to your partner about it and about why it worries you will help to bring the issue to light and can help a lot as long as you are both aware of it.

Wedding Bouquet Trial

One of the things on my to-do list was to test out a fabric bouquet ala this post. Having some spare time, now that I live alone and can ignore how messy my room is, I decided to tackle this. So I trekked out to the Jo-Ann's and bought myself some fabric from the discount bin. I was hoping for some nice reds/purples/blues so I could play with more colors, but I did find a champagne, a gold, and a green in nice fabrics for $5 a yard. I got a quarter yard of each to play around with.
Here is what I came up with:
Obviously, tutorial to come, once I get better. I used some pre-made stems that they had in the fake flower section as a starting point. I think that a hot glue gun in the future could be pretty helpful, but mine is at home and I'm not sure if it can come carry-on with Mark. Also, a nice ribbon around the stems will be essential, as well as some possible "accessories" - I've considered feathers, twigs, wheat, and berries...
Also, since the whole bouquet is fabric, I would like to make the wrap around the stems look a little difference - maybe using more than just ribbon. Any ideas?

All Things in Moderation

I think everybody knows it's a bad idea for the honored couple to overindulge at their wedding and reception. But you'd never expect it to get this bad...

http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSTRE54O39H20090525

I don't think we really need to worry too much about that particular ending; however, not having a chance to get at any food (except maybe those tasty little strawberries in each glass of champagne, a la Lily in How I Met Your Mother - couldn't find a clip) could make trouble a little more likely. As we (probably) aren't doing a full open bar nobody will be buying us shots - unless we do margaritas as our signature drink I'm pretty sure everything will be just fine...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Google Forms Registry

While technically registering for money/home equity is tacky, I love Miss Bear Cub's approach to it - asking guests to pay for specific items, like the kitchen sink. Since we will probably be buying or furnishing a house around the time we get married, but we may not have a house yet, this might work as a way to semi-tactfully ask for money for items that we will need to buy in the future but don't have room for at the moment. (Or we will rent a storage unit. It will depend on how the house hunting - and bar exam - go.) Also - can we use this to register for a dog (and a year's supply of food)? Maybe this guy:
(His name is Macbeth and you can pick him up at Southern Maryland Beagle Rescue! Please do! We have another year on our no-pets lease!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Signature drinks

We're pretty set on doing only beer and wine. But since we are doing our own bar, hopefully, we can do a signature drink or two, and only budget for who we think will actually drink them (which will be like, 40-60 guests). Plus, honestly, if we run out, it's not the end of the world because there will be plenty of beer and wine to tide people over. So we might do signature drinks, which means I can start testing them now, right?
Some ideas?
A watermelon keg? Watermelon probably won't be in season when we get married, but it's a nice idea.
A Hawaiian martini? My favorite drink ever - amaretto, malibu, pineapple juice, and berry juice. It's amazing. Plus it's slightly purple and if we end up using that as a color, it would go with our color scheme. We could give it a more wedding-y name.
Rum and coke? This is my go-to drink at a bar.
Amaretto sours? For when I want to mix it up.
Margaritas? Perfect for the Cal-Tor wedding I originally wanted.
Sangria? Can be put in gorgeous jars like infused vodkas/liquors with fruit floating in it and look really classy, but still classy looking. The problem with these is that we won't necessarily be able to refill them at any point in the evening, so we'll just have to get a big enough jug.
There are a lot of logistical issues we have with the signature drinks, especially if we end up with a serve-yourself bar. Is anybody else doing signature drinks and their own alcohol? Can we pull this off? Also, if I put hawaiian martinis in a big jug, will they separate over the course of an evening?
Plus, who is going to put things in a big jug? Well, that would be the job of my hockey teammates/ushers/bartenders who have already been recruited. And are excited. It's not slave labor - it's a chance for them to hang out and have fun!

Recessionista??? (Or just clumsy...)

Anybody else toying with the idea of a reception dress? Maybe you are worried about overheating and maybe you just realized at the two weddings you attended that a long formal gown will seriously hamper your ability to get down and also to do the YMCA???
And then there's the new Alfred Angelo Recessionista Collection, with cute short dresses.
Bridal. Doesn't look like a cupcake with legs. And still enough sartorial freedom to jump...jump...jump around!
Have you considered a second dress?

Charity Friday: Accessories with Heart

Another way to use your wedding for good is to buy products that support real people, or that give part of their proceeds to charity.
Example: these silk sashes. In the words of the website:
"These silk dress sashes are each handmade in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by one of the many young women trying to move their lives forward after being victims of sex trafficking. 100% of the profit for this item will go back to the local day center we work with. It will pay the salaries of these girls, and expand the facility to include full time housing so that they no longer have to go to the brothels in the evenings. This program not only provides them with income, but also a new skill and a feeling of empowerment. It's a first step out of what is an unimaginable life for most of us."
Another example? Charity Charms, which are charms of the logo of organizations you support. If you didn't listen to my advice about bridesmaids gifts, this might be a nice gift. The earrings above are pretty, practical, rewearable, and $40. It is unclear though, what charity these go to support and I find that frustrating and wonder if the items that are not specific to charity actually go to charity.
Another online store, possibly not technically a charity, is the Global Girlfriend Store, which says:
"Our fair-trade boutique offers a line of trend-setting, women-made, fair-trade products including stylish apparel, accessories and gifts with one purpose -- helping women in need help themselves. We believe passionately that economic opportunity for women holds the promise for real change in the world; because when women have an income, they reinvest in themselves and in their children's health, education and nutrition, building stronger families and communities over time."

I love the idea that while we consume and buy things that are old, new, and blue for the wedding, maybe we could put our dollars towards small businesses or female artisans or somehow use our dollars to truly help people get out of poverty. I know that using sources like Etsy also allows us to do this, but somehow it seems more real when its supporting somebody for whom artisan crafts are the only way for them to make money, not them supplementing their income (which many Etsy sellers are, not that there is anything wrong with it.)
What are some other "accessories with heart" that you know about or have heard about?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wedding Dress Closure

I read this post by Miss Bear Cub and it really rang true - I too have been feeling the need for some dress closure. Not that I don't love my dress, just that I feel like I need to make absolutely sure that it's perfect. Well, with my general attitude, I want to make sure that it is still satisfactory.
That sounds really horrible. But we are told to get so swept up in the WIC that we must find "the one". The one is how you spend billions of dollars on a dress for a single day. Well, not billions. But for what other occasion will you ever spend $3,000 or $6,000 on a dress you will wear once?
It seems like the general rule for weddings is "take what you would spend on the item normally, and then multiply it by 10." So for me, for a dress, I usually spend around $50. If I have to spend more than that, I get a bit queesy. I like it when I can get away with spending $25-40 on a dress. I have one dress that was $80, but I've worn it at least 6 times and plan to wear it more in the future. So for my wedding dress, this rings pretty true - $50 x 10 = $500. (I think if my dress had been more expensive, I wouldn't tell people what it cost.)
Anyway, even though I am happy with my dress and happy with what it cost, I still need some wedding dress closure. There is one dress that when we got engaged, I knew I wanted to try on. I know I still want to try it on. There is another dress that I tried on that was amazing - and I do stalk ebay for it, although its a pretty new design so I don't know if I would find it. I need to know that I did not make the wrong choice with my dress. I don't know why that matters to me, but it does. Anyway, since I don't want to do it twice, I think I will go dress shopping next spring, and then go ahead and get mine altered.
Did you need dress closure?