Friday, July 31, 2009

STD Week: Fun STDs

If you want your STDs to say "we're totally fun and awesome" consider Stinkerpants Designs.
I could totally see us going with these, with either the background being us hiking around Irvine or sitting on a bench overlooking the inner harbor (possibly wearing awesome crabby hats!)
What would yours look like?

Giveaway reminder!

Don't forget to enter our giveaway and possibly win yourself a free custom monogram. You have until tomorrow to enter!

Charity Friday: Charitable STDs?

Okay, so there isn't a ton I can find on charitable STDs. It occurred to me that you could send an E-STD and then spend the budget from STDs on some kind of charity item.
You could also order STDs where some of the profits are donated to charity. These go to Mesothelioma research, March of Dimes, and Breast Cancer Research.
You can also buy through Carlson Craft through the I Do Foundation. 10% of the profits go to Charity.
Additionally, if you are satisfied simply being Eco-Friendly, consider ordering some eco save the dates.
You could also get plantable Save the Dates which will let your guests grow them into flowers once your wedding is over.
Any other ideas for how to contribute to charity with your Save the Dates?

STD Week: STD Porn

Loving this DIY STD by Mrs. Licorice over at WB (has anyone else noticed my favorite STDs and everything else wedding related is green?) Save the Dates can be a great way to use your engagement pictures if you get them taken.
How else can you incorporate your engagement pictures into your save-the-dates besides cards, postcards, or magnets?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

STD Week: Magnets

I like the Save the Date Magnets, but as we now have four on our fridge and I'm not totally sure what to do with them since the weddings have passed...it's much easier to just recycle a postcard. Nonetheless, the magnet on the fridge always reminded me about the upcoming wedding as we went to get out milk or tofu or fruit.
Plus you can get pretty creative with magnets:
I favor the photo-strip, but I do love the more artsy design too:
Also you could go with the calendar day reminder:

STD Week: STD Porn

STD porn would be pretty gross, wouldn't it? Ew.
But this kind of porn...totally acceptable:
I love the tree with the wording on it...and the couple kissing underneath it could only be more perfect for us if they were sitting on a park bench.
The artist said she got the images from iStockphoto.com and then modified them herself. I am super impressed!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

STD Week: Coasters

I was at a great shop around the corner from us called The Funky Beehive and I saw a set of really cute cocktail party invitation coasters - on the front they said "you're invited" and on the back they had the usual date/time/place info. That's when it hit me - coasters would be the perfect save the dates for us! We use coasters all over our house - it's one of the few things Mark has trained me to do. Mark also is a collector of beer mats from bars and pubs we go to, so we have a bunch of the paper coasters around our house, which were what we were thinking of. I rushed home and excitedly told Mark. He got totally psyched and started jumping up and down.
I kid, I kid. I'm not sure that Mark has ever jumped up and down ever. But he did get a quietly interested look on his face and nodded his head, saying, "I wonder how much that costs." So I did a little research. These, from a typical wedding website cost about $91 for 50, which is a little more than the like, $0.50 apiece I wanted to spend on a Save the Date. Also, I would like to send 2 coasters to everybody, so these were pretty much out. But how cool is the definition one?
Loving these gorgeous ones from Oh So Beautiful Paper! But since they're letterpress, my guess is that they are muy expensive.
This pack of 6 costs $12, so still about $2 apiece.
So I started looking into promotions companies that make beer mats. This was hard because a lot of them have minimums, like, 5000 piece minimums. So the fact that they were like $.09 cents apiece didn't matter because it would still cost a lot.
So someplace like this which charges $0.30 apiece and only has a minimum of 500 (coming out to $150 for 500) is a pretty good deal, although really, we only need about 200. These were more expensive, but you can keep it to 200. It's actually more expensive though, because they cost $1 apiece. These were the cheapest, but they're a little basic.
So I checked the DIY route.
Blank coasters: $12 for a pack of 115; so $24
Custom Rubber Stamp: $40
Permanent Ink: $8

Alternative to custom stamp plan:
Adorable Parc Stampin Up Stamp Set: $23.95
Green stamp pad: $6
Additional stamp pad (in Orange, Cranberry, Navy, or whatever our wedding colors are): $6
Custom Stamp that will just say our names and the date underneath them: $10

With the DIY or alternative plan, the cost will be about $70, or 30 cents per coaster. Additionally, with the alternative plan, we would have a set of stamps we could use as a theme running throughout our wedding stationary, etc, plus use after the wedding. With the DIY plan, the total cost of something we won't use again is $40, with the alternative plan, it's $0.

DIY, as usual, will be more time consuming because we would be using 3 stamps per coaster and making 200 of these. Fortunately, I think my house + wedding party + a few bottles of wine = good times. Unfortunately, we're pretty busy this fall. So we may not go with the coasters.

There is also the issue of mailing - we would use the lightest coasters possible, and still have to put them in envelopes and mail them, probably for more than $.44 cents. Which is how I came upon the idea of simply bundling them together and handing them out at our engagement party, and then printing and sending some postcards as well, or just sending an email save-the-date. Is it STD overkill? I don't know. Thoughts?

More coaster ideas -
Miss Fondue over on Weddingbee
Miss Penguin and her Custom Coaster Favors

Also, if you went the pre-printed coaster route, what better way to use your custom monogram from Double Trouble Designs? You still have 2 days left to enter our contest!

STD Week: The rising cost of stamps makes me feel old.

When I first learned about postage, it was because I had a penpal in Austrailia. My mother explained to me that it cost two stamps to mail something to Austrailia. We eventually purchased airmail stamps, but for awhile I was putting two 29c stamps on things. Eventually stamps went up to 32c. Then 33c. Then 37c. Year after year they kept raising the prices. Stamps are 44c right now, and probably going to go up again soon. Or the post office will simply implode, there will be no more mail, and I can send e-vites to the wedding.
My point here is that I went to buy stamps yesterday for some postcards, and postcard stamps now cost 28 cents. I was stunned, and felt ancient. I remember using 27c stamps. They also only have one kind of postcard stamp, and it has a polar bear. Which isn't great.
For our postcard save-the-dates, we could use the polar bear. Or we could use some fabulous vintage stamps from my childhood:
I mean this literally, because we still have a mess of 29 cent stamps lying around in the stamp drawer at my mom's house. (I had these exact circus ones...loved 'em! Also a wedding is a circus, so I like the implication.) Or I could try to buy some of these slightly more nature-center appropriate ones off of ebay:
The only thing I foresee being a problem with this idea are the following:
1: Collectors reselling stamps for more than they are worth.
2: Not being able to get enough, although we can fill in with the polar bears because nobody will notice.
3: Licking 20 year old stamps I bought off of ebay strikes me as gross. I think this can be solved with a gluestick.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

STD Week: STD Porn

Sometimes I just like to go look at the pretty pictures in the Weddingbee Gallery. These aren't even my style, but they're soooo pretty! I'm totally loving the bellyband!

STD Week: Postcards

One of the wedding themes Ellie proposed that I thought sounded really neat was a travel theme. Not overly frilly - I can get on board with that. I think we wound up moving away from it because it was too similar to something one of her cousins had done, unfortunately, but I guess there's no reason we can't still share some of the neat ideas we had for it.

The STD for a travel theme is, of course, a postcard. You could perhaps also do them as invitations but there's not a lot of room to enclose directions, RSVP, etc., so they probably work better as STDs (although Ellie did have some crazy idea that involved using them as RSVP cards but that seemed backwards to me). I suppose they might be particularly appropriate for a couple having a destination wedding...


One source that's particularly popular is VistaPrint - you can usually get 100 cards free / for the cost of shipping - sometimes more with a coupon. Just be sure you put your own design on the back or you may get stuck with their logo on it; assuming that you plan to put the details of your wedding somewhere on the postcard, I don't imagine that'll be much trouble. The USPS has a site as well (www.premiumpostcard.com), and there's also www.overnightprints.com, zazzle.com, and probably a dozen more if you just search. Prices and probably quality vary but all seem to be well reviewed. You could always just get some cardstock from Staples and print them yourself using a template.

The one thing that concerns me a little about the postcard idea is that anybody can get all the details. I know that's a little paranoid - is somebody's postal carrier really going to crash the wedding? - but it just seems a little odd to me.

Has anybody done - or plan to do - postcard STDs? Did you use a service, or print them yourself? Did you have any privacy concerns?

STD Week: Giveaway Reminder!

Just a reminder to go enter the contest for a free custom monogram from Double Trouble Designs!

STD Week: Bookmarks

Save the Date Bookmarks were an early idea that I had, although it has fallen by the wayside in the wake of other ideas.
This would certainly be an easy way to deal with bookmark save-the-dates, but I would love to do something a little more creative.
Consider a photo-strip bookmark, which could be done by using an ordinary webcam or a camera with self-timer on tripod.
This set of 50 bookmarks is only $58 for the set, so slightly over $1 apiece. Better yet, a set of 100 is only $80, so less than $1 apiece.
Bookmarks are a great idea for the couple that reads to send out, and they also can be easily attached to a bulletin board or refrigerator for those who don't want to use the bookmarks.
These are also probably an extremely easy DIY project. Printer, meet cardstock. This bride had them printed and laminated at Staples for about $10.
I also love these bookmarks:
I definitely prefer the bookmarks that have a little tassel on them - it makes it more obvious that it's a bookmark. I also don't know whether I would send one to each couple or each person.
Did you send bookmark STDs?

Monday, July 27, 2009

STD Week: E-STD

For the e-STD, for those who are more environmentally conscious, you have several options.
You can insert the STD into the email, particularly by following these instructions.
You could also draft up your wedding website with a "save the date" on the front page and then send people a link to the website. This means no dealing with guests who can't view emails in HTML or can't view images, etc.
You can also go the someecards route, although maybe not for your humorless guests (why are you inviting them to your wedding anyway?)
Rather than get off the pot, I've decided to shit
It's going to be a great first marriage
Just a reminder that our wedding's coming up and you may be too fat for your suit or tux pants

STD Week: The Giveaway!

This week, as part of our Save-the-Date week extravaganza, we will be giving away one free custom monogram from Double Trouble Designs.
A lot of couples view the Save the Date as the "opening shot" fired by their wedding, a way to set the tone for the festivities to come. For couples that are planning to use a monogram, the Save the Date creates a perfect opportunity to use the monogram for the first time. Enter Double Trouble Designs:
I first found Double Trouble Designs via Weddingbee, and started checking out their cute and affordable designs. In their own words:
"At Double Trouble Designs we specialize in custom designs; from anything you could possibly want or need designed for a wedding or special event, to creating a logo and promoting your business. We can work with you to find that perfect design you have been dreaming about. When it comes to possibilities..... the sky's the limit.... "
We are teaming up with Double Trouble Designs to give away a free custom monogram!
To enter, head over to the Double Trouble Designs shop and tell us which custom monogram is your favorite!
My pick would be a monogram with the full names, because we don't, and won't, have the same last initial. (I would go M0110 with an ampersand instead of the initial).

You have until Saturday at noon to comment and tell us your favorite design! The winner will be announced next Monday.
*New WeddingforTwo Contest rules apply - no immediate family members are eligible to win this giveaway!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

STD Week: HPV

Okay, I couldn't resist a little STD humor for STD week.
Seriously though, are any of our readers aged 12-26 or whatever it is who are engaged getting vaccinated against HPV? Most of my single friends in college got it, but being wary, I held off. Because even though almost half of all sexually active people will contract HPV, I'm in a long term committed relationship and I'm getting married. (Which we all know is a totally valid form of STD protection, right????)
Mostly its a very new vaccine and if I don't have to get it, I'm reluctant. My doctor was reluctant too, when she asked me about whether I would like it and I hemmed and hawwed. She asked if I was in a committed relationship, and I said yes. She took my side, and told me if Mark and I broke up I should come in and get it. She also said that they will probably be able to give it to women as they get older, so I'm holding off for now. It seemed unnecessary, time consuming, and well, even though I give blood, I hate shots.
If I have daughters, I will have them vaccinated at a young age, because I think that its important, and I encourage any of my friends who aren't in committed relationships (or if I think their boyfriends are losers and they will break up eventually.)
What about the rest of you?

STD Week: Pretty!

At a dollar apiece, these are relatively reasonably priced Save - the - Dates, although a similar effect could be achieved through a standard desktop publishing program and a local print shop, probably for quite a bit cheaper. These could be either a postcard or a magnet or a card of some kind. My sister sent me these when I mentioned I was thinking about green and orange. I think I would do the print in the same green as the flower stems, but I love the green with the orange and the little splash of red.

Introducing STD Week

This week we will be featuring different ideas and possible ways to do Save-the-Dates! Some people find Save the Dates unnecessary, but for us, because we have so many people coming from out of town for our wedding, we think they are a good idea.
Also, the importance of Save-the-Dates aside, I think they are a good way to add a bit of whimsy to your wedding; because invites tend to be more formal, what better way to say "we're fun and our wedding will be fun and aren't you happy to be saving the date?"
There are a lot of ideas out there, from magnets to stickers to emails to sending people live birds (please don't do this).
Save-the-Dates are often an easy and fun DIY project, or they can be done cheaply through any variety of internet or real-life sources.
We would love for you to tell us about your STDs or ideas for STDs so that we can feature them as part of this week, so leave a comment to tell us about it!
We will be having a fun giveaway as part of this week as well, so keep an eye out for that!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wedding Impulse Buys

So far, since we don't have colors or an actual plan or anything but a location and a cake-baker, I have been able to keep the wedding impulse buys to a minimum. Like. Uh. My dress.
Anyway, I came across this interesting test on Lifehacker when I was clearing out my reader feeds and I am filing it away in my head for when I'm faced with say, an impulse purchase of 400 yards of tulle.
I think if we really look at wedding budgets, we realize that it's those little impulse buys that we don't budget for that end up adding up in the end and putting us over the edge.
(I'm not totally against impulse buys, and in fact have several impulse buys that have been smarter purchases than things I wanted, saved, and bargain-hunted for. But I also have a ton of crap that I bought thinking "oh it's cheap and it will come in handy" and it never has.")
What impulse purchases have you made for your wedding?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Charity Friday: Slightly NWR

If you have looked into Love Life Images, you might have checked out their Photo Nights for Charity. Though this is slightly Not Wedding Related, it would be a cool way to interact with the photographers at Love Life Images and maybe network with amateur photographers in the area who would be interested in picking up a little work???
Also these events are potlucks, with an opportunity to donate to charity and also to bid on photographs that are up for silent auction. The potluck part just sounds downright delicious. I'm not sure when the next one is, but as long as I don't have class and as long as I'm home, I'm so there.
Photo Nights for Charity are at the Love Life Images studio in Savage, MD.

Do you...canditto?

I came across Canditto last night and am finding myself intrigued....yes, $450 is more than a $25 flickr pro account and some cards telling your guests to upload their photos; but....not everyone uploads their photos, and it would be really nice to get everyone's pictures before the night is over.
Especially if you are going to take a gamble on your photographer and hire somebody up-and-coming, or who doesn't have a lot of reviews; or you're only going to have one shooter.

Free...Wedding?

Now there's two words you don't ever hear in the same sentence. Pier 5 Hotel and the Admiral Fell Inn are giving away a free wedding for 100 people with Memorable Moments. The details are pretty sketchy (the radio commercial is much more descriptive - $17,000 value, there may be one for each hotel) but if a hotel wedding is your style and you don't already have one booked, I'm sure either of these would be lovely - particularly the garden under the lighthouse on Pier 5 (as long as they take away the signs advertising that they do weddings)... All you have to do is submit a 'memorable romantic moment', and since you only get 50 words, I guess you have to be pretty concise about it. Good luck!

http://www.harbormagic.com/freewedding/

There's also a link for "Enter to Win" on the main Memorable Moments page, which seems to be for a more general getaway - plane tickets, hotel nights, etc.

UPDATE: Must be present to win - thanks for pointing that out, Lysandra. Monday is the last day to enter, and of course they own your entry and can put photos of the winners in ads.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

things I can't do

I'm pretty sure if I tried to do this, I would get my dress tangled in the chain of my bike and fall over. There also isn't really any place to bike around at Irvine, sadly. So I'm just gonna let it go, like it when other people do it, and realize that while there are a million things out there that will make great pictures, we can't possibly do all of them.
I have toyed with the idea of using bikes in our e-pics, because it is something that we like to do together.
And with that, I'm going to go on a nice evening bike ride.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Green and Orange Inspiration

And this time it's not from another wedding blog or bio, it's from our own past. We went apple picking and pumpkin patching last fall and I found these pictures today. So these shades are kind of what I have in mind for green and orange...so now my question is, is October 10, 2010 too early to go all fall themed and break out pumpkins and apples? These pictures were taken in mid October last year, like the 20th...I don't want to go totally fall-nuts, but a little fall theme-ing could be fun...

I really want this cake.

It would be seasonally and color-scheme appropriate, plus, I promised my sister that we would have a fun topsy-turvy cake.
Is it too busy or just too awesome?

So. Cool.

I'm sure a lot of you get the emails from Etsy as well, but I thought Monday's was particularly great. My favorite item?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Running of the Brides Next Week!

Next week is the Running of the Brides in DC! Who is going?
You should totally enter this contest if you are, and maybe win a free dress!
Also review my rules for these events so you know what to expect and how to behave (not that any of you don't know how to behave - but other people might not!) Also consider that not every dress there will be stunning - I definitely tried on some duds, but I love my dress, so win-win.
Let me know if you go and if you find anything!

Colors?

We still don't have colors, but last Friday I saw beautiful pictures of a green and orange wedding and I started thinking. I'm not wild about orange, but Mark actually likes it (unlike purple). It's also a slightly unusual color combination. (Green and purple is sooooo popular right now.)
I'm thinking a fall green - deep, mossy, something natural; alongside a burnt or pumpkin orange. (And now I'm picturing carved pumpkins filled with flowers as centerpieces.)
The problem is, lately, I've been a little short on time, and most of my inspiration board folder is full of weddings that are either red, turquiose, and white; or green and purple.
So I'm on the hunt:
Is it just me, or is there a lot of work that goes into finding enough pictures of a color scheme that you can see whether you like it or not, all to decide that you may not want it after all?

Grief, table for one

Once we got engaged and told our families, there were a few other people on my list of people to tell in person - my grandmother, and my good friends. I knew I wanted to tell my grandmother in person, because I have a lot of difficulty communicating with her on the phone. Also, she usually appreciates visitors, so I made the 45-minute drive out to the middle of nowhere to see her.
My grandmother told me she was thrilled that our wedding was back on (btw, she's in a memory loss treatment facility and has a bizarre form of dementia that is not Alzheimer's but manifests itself in sometimes total brain confusion and an ability to remember very specific facts that are probably not true. Like how I work for the navy. She always remembers that Mark designs roller coasters.) She had decided that we got engaged back when my sister got engaged, and then were holding off. So I was happy that she was able to reconcile this in her head.
As I drove home though, I felt a little empty. Because somebody was missing. Somebody who I should have been able to tell this to. I could picture the look on my grandfather's face perfectly, how his eyes would light up and he would clap his hands and say how fantastic it was that Mark and I are getting married. He liked Mark a lot. He told me this frequently, without implying that we should immediately get married (mostly because I was twenty). I went to other weddings with my grandfather in attendance, where he toasted the bride and groom, or told stories about him and my grandma's wedding and honeymoon, where he danced with me and everybody else he could get out on the dance floor. And I don't get to have that.
My mother's father would be happy as well, although not as vocal. But I truly believe he would have danced at our wedding. He would have sung along with songs that he knew and he would have danced. I remember him dancing with me and Margaret when we were little girls, and how much fun we would have. He would have loved the nature center, and wandered around during cocktail hour identifying plants and mushrooms. He would have thought the building was fascinating. He would have thought the way Mark designed my ring was pretty darn cool.
We lost both my grandpas back in 2006 - it was a pretty miserable year. Not only did both my grandfathers die, but it seemed like everybody I knew was grandfatherless by the end of it.
I know that my grandfathers will not be the only ones who can't make it to our wedding. There will be other people who can't make it, for health or economic, or simply convenience reasons. Mark's grandparents will not be able to cross the pond for the wedding, and that makes me sad. I have other family members and friends with health issues and complications that might be unable to make it. I have made my peace with this - if people are able to attend our wedding, we will be honored, and we will do our best to accomodate any special needs. But if they are unable to attend, we understand completely. For my grandfathers and our other beloved late family members, we will acknowledge them in some way.
The thing is though, the people that can't make it, they still know. We still got to call Mark's grandparents and talk to them, we still got to see them over spring break. When it comes to my grandfathers, I have to know that they would be happy, but I can't know that they are, and something about that really bothers me. I'm not actively grieving, but sometimes I just miss my grandpas.
Is anybody else in this position? How do you get past it?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Divorce Law in Maryland: What you should know before you get married.

Miss Mary Jane mentioned the other day that divorce sucks and you shouldn't go into your marriage expecting it. I wanted to expand on this to explain that particularly, divorce sucks in Maryland.
In Michigan, there is no-fault divorce and if you don't have children, you file, wait 60 days, go in front of the judge and explain that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there is no hope of reconciliation. It's pretty awesome.
In Maryland, there is fault-based divorce. It is decidedly un-awesome. If you are having an amicable divorce, you will have to separate for one year. This means separate - move out of the house, and live separately and apart, with a meeting of the minds that the marriage is over. This means you can't crash on your wife's couch for six weeks six months after you separate if you can't find a place to live. This means you can't have a one-night-stand quickie.
If you do not have that meeting of the minds, like if one of you thinks that you'll get back together, you have to wait two years. A two year separation (following the same rules as a one-year separation) is Maryland's only true no-fault divorce, by which all you have to do to get divorced is separate, and stay separated.
Desertion is another option, which requires a 12-month separation and a leaving of the marriage with an intent to leave the marriage.
As far as fault based divorce, for which there is not a waiting period, your options are adultery, for which you have to prove opportunity to commit the crime, like you saw your husband and another woman go into a hotel for three hours, and disposition to commit adultery, meaning things like a public display of intimacy or an indifference to propriety. You or somebody else needs to witness or prove this. (Oh, and if you're the adulterer, you can't file for divorce based on the grounds of adultery. You also can't collude to have one spouse commit adultery just to get divorced faster.)
Another option is cruelty and excessively vicious conduct. Technically these are separate categories and they are usually lumped together, so its not really clear what is cruelty and what is excessively vicious conduct, but cruelty seems to be regular events and EVC is sometimes just one really bad act.
I'm not going to get into property division or anything else, except to say that to change your maiden name back is a pain in the ass, but you are entitled (but not required) to have it back. Also that divorce can't happen on a contingency fee basis like many other cases, where your lawyer only has to get paid as long as you can recover attorney's fees - so you will have to pay an attorney an hourly rate, if you choose to hire an attorney. As a warning, I find that it takes me at least 6 hours to just draft a judgment of divorce, and as a further warning, the "low bono" attorneys in Maryland bill at something like $80 an hour as their low rate - which is with MVLSC paying about half the bill, and if you can afford a wedding, you probably don't qualify.
Anyway, if you are going into your marriage thinking, well, if it doesn't work out, I'll just get divorced, I think you should know that divorce isn't as easy in Maryland as it is for Hollywood celebrities. My personal experience with divorce is limited to anecdotal evidence and my own work experience, but my personal experience is that divorce sucks and while I am grateful that it is an option, (unlike back in the early nineteenth century when women couldn't get divorced, no matter how much their husbands hit them) I hope to never go through it. I am sure that most, if not all, of you feel this way as well. Nonetheless, I think it is good information for all of us to know and keep in mind.
(Note: I'm not a real lawyer yet - this is from my notes from my family law class, so don't use this to get divorced - get a lawyer.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Charity Friday: Audubon Naturalist Society

I went to a couple of summer camps at the Audubon Naturalist Society (probably because my mother hoped that if she sent me to enough science camps, I wouldn't go to law school) and I don't remember much of exactly what we learned (I think I must have gone to like, 10 or 15 different science camps when I was a kid, so forgive me if they run together) except we learned about nature. I remember having fun, and that the programs were good and interesting (although apparently not particularly memorable.) We walked all around the grounds and learned about meadows and forests and animals.
The Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States is a conservation group dedicated at preserving nature.
The kicker though? They have two potential wedding venues - Woodend Mansion (in Maryland) and Rust Manor (in Virginia). Both facilities are gorgeous, although I've only been to Woodend Mansion. They are pricey though not outrageous, and the site fees go to help maintain the society and their buildings, grounds, and educational venues. A portion of the rental fee is even tax deductable!
Check out these pictures of a wedding held at Woodend Sanctuary, and if you are venue shopping in the DC/Montgomery County area, you should definitely put it on your list!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Real Weddings: Danny and Rachel (part II)

Danny and Rachel's wedding reception consisted of several parts. The first was the long wait outside the ballroom, at the hotel. If you are having a church wedding, the gap is usually inevitable. So what I learned from this is that you should do something to keep, at the very least, the children entertained. Kids get bored and restless. So do grownups, but we at least had a baseball game to watch at the bar.
The reception started and we headed into the ballroom. Danny and Rachel were announced and came in, and then did their first dance. (Warning: Rachel has horrible, uncorrectable red eye and the lighting in the ballroom was pretty bad for digital cameras.)
Then it was time for food and toasts, and eventually the DJ got the party started with a slideshow. The slideshow was cool, but they made Danny and Rachel sit in the middle of the ballroom so we could all stare at their reaction.
The thing is though, the alternating looks of horror and laughter on their faces as childhood pictures went up. (Now is a good time to mention that Danny and Rachel both wore enormous glasses in their early days.) It was also just pretty cool to see a ton of pictures from their relationship as they grew and changed over time.
It did run a little long though, and cut into the partying. Eventually, the DJ got the party started with stupid games. I don't mean to be rude, and I'm not trying to write a review of their wedding, but often when we write about people's weddings we write about how great they were. So I'm just gonna say it. The DJ was horrible. His mission was to get everybody on the dance floor - but he was on a mission to do it. The DJ started things off by making us play hot potato with a packet of sweet and low, and then everybody at the table got assigned a role like "team captain" or "party animal". Nobody stuck with these roles, and so it served as just a waste of time. Then we had to get onto the dance floor and divide up in to groups of girls and guys and see who could yell the loudest. Danny was having a great time, and I guess that's what matters, but I really just wanted to get my groove on. Eventually we did - and I don't think I left the dance floor for most of the night.
I like to dance. I had to befriend the bridesmaids though, because nobody from my table (funny, not the party animal or team captain or any of those people) wanted to dance. Well, except Kim, who is the girl in the black dress who was willing to cut a rug with me.
Something they did that was pretty interesting was they requested the DJ play two slow songs in a row. This was nice because it usually takes me half a song to get Mark up and dancing, so when it ends and they put on some Bon Jovi, he makes a mad dash for the table. This way, I got to spend some more time with my date.
They also did the traditional father-daughter and mother-son dances. Rachel and her dad had worked out choreography for their dance, which made me a little sad that both me and my Dad are so uncoordinated. There was also cake. I find that I don't tend to remember wedding cake very well. I don't know why. I like cake, but I usually find myself simply enjoying it and then moving on to dance some more.
I will say though, that the vegetarian dish was delicious - it was an eggplant and ricotta roll-up of some kind, and it was amazingly good. Amazing. It was the best vegetarian wedding food I have had in a long time.
When you are engaged, other people's weddings are basically a (really fun) learning experience. It's unavoidable that you find yourself thinking "we should do that." Something I found hopeful about the wedding was that even if the DJ totally sucks, you can still have a fantastic time. I also learned from this that weddings are more fun the more people you know. I'd never been to a wedding where I only knew a single table worth of guests, and it really does make a difference. It helped cement my idea that having an engagement party that we invite our friends to is a good idea, and I had been rethinking the rehearsal/out of town dinner, but once I realized how much more fun it is to know people, I definitely want to do it. Sometimes, like in this case, it's unavoidable. There was no option for us to go to an out of town dinner, because I was at a bachelorette party the night before, and Danny and Rachel really did make an effort to have all of their DC and area friends meet as frequently as possible - considering only two of Danny's friends from UB came to the wedding, it's surprising to me that I even knew our entire table before we sat down. It would have sucked even more to be alone, or just Mark and I, not knowing anybody. So we will make like Danny and Rachel, and make an effort to make sure our friends get to know people in advance.
Do you find yourself comparing other people's weddings and using them to help plan your own?

Real Weddings: Danny and Rachel

In May, we attended my friend's wedding up in Reading, PA. He is one of my most recent friends, but one of my best friends from law school and since they started planning it was a given that I and our other close friend would be invited.
We were so psyched for this wedding. We talked about it excitedly for a year. Since we were mostly friends with Danny, we grilled him for details, asked him how planning was going, and let him complain if something was stressing him. For the most part, nothing was. His only stress was that his future wife was stressed. After we got engaged, I got more and more envious. Danny got to take the backseat to Rachel and their moms, putting in input where he wanted to and ignoring things that were unimportant to him. I'm working to achieve this with our own affair, and have ceded control of the music to Mark and will cede control of the flowers to somebody else eventually, specifying colors and little else. The trick is not just in hiring somebody to do the thing, but in trusting somebody else to do the initial screening and trusting their judgment in making a decision.
The one thing that Danny talked about freely and frequently, and was involved in, was their religions. He is Jewish and Rachel is some kind of Christian (Lutheran? Methodist?) and they were getting married in her church. This is how I know that even if you are having a "wonderfully simple" wedding, parts of it will also be extremely complicated.
Danny and Rachel struggled with how to incorporate both of their faiths and heritages into their ceremony, but they came up with a good mix. I've only ever been to Jewish or atheist or Jewish/something else weddings, and this was the first wedding I've ever been to in a church. The minister got up and said, "I've done interfaith weddings before, but not these faiths." It had never occurred to me that there were people out there who had never been to or never presided over a half-Jewish wedding. (Kind of like how when I met my hockey teammate from Minnesota, I couldn't believe she'd never met anyone Jewish before.) The priest led a mostly Christian service, talking about the bible, but he did a really gracious job of reading from the Old Testament when he talked about Danny and reading from the New Testament when he talked about Rachel. He talked a lot about how woman was created because "man was not meant to be alone," which if you've met Danny, is certainly true. Then it was followed by the reading of the Seven Blessings as well as some other jewish blessing and singing. Then they smashed a glass and all of Rachel's family confusedly mispronounced Mazel Tov.
Another thing they did was signed a Ketubah:
and we all did the horah:
I've been to more half-Jewish weddings than any other type of wedding, and I really appreciated that Danny and Rachel tried to be respectful of each other and of their families as they put together a ceremony that was ultimately meaningful to them. It was wonderfully complicated (although extremely hot in the church, and the ceremony took an hour) and I'm really glad we got the chance to see both their faiths represented.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Insecurity

Lately, I've been gripped by a feeling of inadequacy and insecurity. I look at these gorgeous real weddings, and it seem like for all of them, the bride has a wonderfully simple, flowing or fitting column or mermaid style dress. I'm beginning to feel like maybe I'm dowdy and out of style with my princess dress. It seems like everybody else is rejecting the big puffy ballgown and the traditional wedding. We're rejecting the traditional wedding, so why do I still want to look like a giant cream puff?
To be honest, part of my reason for picking a dress with a fuller skirt was that it's more flattering. I carry most of my extra weight around my midsection, and a full skirt creates the illusion of a more narrow waist. So of course, looking at pictures where the bride is wearing a beautiful, simple dress makes me feel like a total failure because I cannot possibly look that good in a dress that style. I looked ridiculous in all of the mermaid style dresses, and had too much room in the top and not nearly enough in the hips. My dress, which I think is supposed to have a big puffy crinoline, accommodates my pear shapedness quite nicely. Plus I look gorgeous. And I love my dress. And Mark had already told me that he didn't like mermaid style dresses or dresses that didn't look like wedding dresses, but I know he'll like mine. Somehow, none of this knowledge helps.
We're having this wonderful outdoorsy, whimsical, hopefully fun and raucous nature center wedding. And all the inspiration boards I can find for a fantastic forest wedding imply that I should ditch my fabulous ball gown and order a dress from J.Crew. On top of that, simple is trendy. Non-wedding wedding dresses are trendy. And when we get so bombarded by all the latest styles, trends, and fashions on the blogs, well, it's natural to start to feel like we should be doing that too. Subverting the WIC has become so trendy that I'm starting to feel that there's a BIC (Blog-Industrial-Complex) in which we have created this competitive force-field to make our weddings as non-WIC, as interesting and unique as possible. It's like in high school when to be in the cool kids crowd, you had to hate all the popular kids and only buy your clothes from a thrift store and not wear anything from Abercrombie.
Posts by other people who talk about a "wonderfully simple" wedding (which I have seen a lot of lately) just make me feel frustrated and insecure, because we can't have one. And also...I don't want one. And I think it's okay to want a complicated wedding that's a big to-do. Why do we no longer applaud the wonderfully complicated wedding? Or the wedding by the couple that struggled to involve everybody they love in their ceremony even though it made the planning process incredibly difficult? Why don't we talk about the couple who did their wedding by the book, because believe it or not, it is sometimes simpler to just do what the knot and your mother tells you to do? Even the wonderfully simple weddings I've been to, where the bride wore a non-wedding-dress and we did the decorations an hour before the ceremony, have been enormously complicated. Constantly telling people that weddings can, or should be, "wonderfully simple" is going to give us all a complex.
So lets be real here. Let's tell it like it is. Life is complicated and weddings are not, cannot be, an exception. We do what we can to keep the process sane, to keep the budget under control, to keep our families happy, to stay true to ourselves. Even our engagement party, for half as many people as our wedding, is starting to turn into a complicated mess. And you know why? Because life is complicated. So I think that we should all try to remember that, and also, as always, weddings aren't like high school where you had to do what everybody else did to stay in the cool kids crowd. And maybe if you do, that's not a crowd you want to be a part of. Also lets remember that simple is as simple does, and what looks wonderfully simple to people who write about a wedding from the outside may not have any idea what went into the planning, and maybe it's not so simple after all.
Tomorrow is our first "Real Wedding" post about my friends fantastic, fun, and totally traditional wedding. And the BIC can suck it.

Honeymoon toys: TripIt

I travel semi-regularly for work - 4-6x a year - not to mention various trips with Ellie. My favorite tool for the last 8 months or so has been TripIt, a web site that aggregates and organizes all your travel information from various sources. Basically, whenever you make a reservation - hotel, flight, car rental - you forward the confirmation email and the behind-the-scenes magic pulls out all the relevant information and summarizes it in a convenient itinerary, like so:

I probably spend a little more time than is strictly healthy playing around on TripIt whenever I'm going somewhere. The best thing about it is that with the app they released a couple of months back on my iPod Touch, my trip information is saved offline, so I can pull up my hotel address or remind myself of my connecting flight time without having to pay $10 for internet access at the airport.

Other key features on TripIt - sharing and collaborating on trips, and pulling down trip details as an iCal feed which I can see both in my Google Calendar and in Outlook at work.

There's also a Pro version that will do things like updating you if your flight is delayed or cancelled and help you find another flight, but I don't feel any particular inclination to sign up for the free trial because I'll just forget to cancel it and have to pay for a month I don't want.

My favorite trick with TripIt: I have a trip set up with dates a couple of years away, which has an entry for each of my frequent flyer accounts, with their numbers, my username, and a password hint. This has been invaluable on many occasions because the information is always available from any computer, or on the road using my Touch.

We haven't started planning our honeymoon yet to the degree that any of it is on here, but you can be sure that as soon as we pick dates that'll be the first thing we do.

Weddings on Facebook

Has anybody used any of those Facebook wedding apps? Like countdowns or ones that say where/when you are getting married? I care less about it saying whose in my wedding party and whatnot, but since we haven't sent out STDs yet, some people don't know when the wedding is, etc.
I'm not really worried that if I put it on Facebook, people who aren't invited will be offended or will show up. (Do people really do that?)
Recommendations please - I don't want anything super annoying, super obtrusive, or otherwise. (I really just wish that they would add a line of code that says when somebody says they are engaged, it asks "when and where is the wedding?".)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Maybe this wedding thing wasn't such a great idea after all...

Ways you hope your wedding day doesn't turn out:

Honeymoon toys: iPod Touch

I'm not a smartphone kind of guy; it's never been important to me to have a constant connection to my email or the web. But I do enjoy gadgets, and we received our company bonus in the form of a gift card, so I got myself a shiny iPod Touch 2G. I haven't wound up using it quite as much or in quite the way I imagined, but it's definitely been nice to have. I use it at home when I want to check my email quickly without waiting for my laptop to boot. It can handle multiple email accounts, so it's the easiest way for me to check our wedding account without logging out of my personal account, and it stores email offline, so I can generally reference things conveniently when I'm out and about, as long as I signed in and synced it up recently. One particularly handy instance was, when a caterer didn't show up for our tour of a venue, being able to look at her message and confirm that we were in fact there at the right time.

The main situation where I find the Touch especially useful is for traveling. There's the music, of course, and the games, but the key thing is that I can go away for the weekend without feeling the need to bring a laptop. With the Touch, as long as my hotel (or the hotel I'm standing outside of) has WiFi, I can check my email, search for restaurants (UrbanSpoon app), make and manage reservations (OpenTable), and find directions. At the same time, it's awkward enough that it's hard to just sit and surf on it all day, the way I might be tempted to with a laptop.

The Touch was the only form of computer we took when we went to Chicago for Valentines' Day, and it was great. We were able to find the information we needed, when we needed it, and focus on enjoying our trip together without being distracted by the real world - which to me sounds like the perfect honeymoon gadget.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Walk this way...

Via classic bride, these fantastic signposts which are exactly what I had in mind when I wrote this post. I thought they were $75 for the whole thing, but it appears that each wooden 6"x24" sign is $75 and you can get 10 for a mere $650. (Or...we could get some plywood and some paint. Or create an Etsy alchemy request...)
It would also be a potential thing to Bride$hare, with anybody else getting married in the same place with the same or a similar setup.
I think it might be fun to have the sign have "extra" signs, like "merriment" pointing at the reception tent and "fun and games" towards the lawn (if I get to execute my dream of having lawn games). But it also could be fun to have miscellaneous extra signs, like one to England and one to New Jersey and one to Bethesda and one to Baltimore, with mileage, like you sometimes see along a trail where everybody has taken a piece of wood and written their hometown on it with the miles.
Would people get it or would it just be weird?

Is a wedding dress an "investment" or just a big fat waste?

I went to check out road bikes yesterday, in preparation for my triathlon. I went over to Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness, which was amazing. I had no idea what it felt like to be on a road bike, to balance on narrow tires, how it would feel different from my hybrid bike, and I also had no idea how much it would cost. I walked around the store a little bit, checking price tags and ruling everything out of my price range. When they asked if they could help, I explained that I was just starting to look. They measured me and when I explained that I probably wouldn't buy a bike today, the guy still insisted on calibrating a bike entirely to my measurements so I could test drive it and they could decide what would fit me. He asked about my budget and I said, "low." Because I couldn't bear to tell him, "under $200" because I knew that is a pipe dream for a new road bike.
(This bike at $810 was on sale.)
As I was waiting for him to put something on the bike that would make it longer and as I tried to calculate what 15% off $810 might be, I found myself comparing this to wedding dress shopping. Like wedding dress shopping, I was a little ashamed of my low budget, but I was willing to try on stuff that was more expensive to see if it fit right.
It also occurred to me that I had been willing to spend up to $1000 on a wedding dress that I would wear for a single day versus a bicycle that, even if all I use it for is to train for two months and then to do a sprint triathlon, I would get more use out of than my wedding dress.
So why is it that I can't bring myself to spend the money? Maybe it's because I know it's a slippery slope towards justifying a lot of money on everything because "costs less than a wedding." Maybe its because the fact that I spent a lot of money on a dress means I have less for other fun stuff.
Really though, I know the answer. And you know the answer. It's because weddings are "special". It's okay to spend a lot of money on a wedding dress - because that's what things cost. So we spend the money.
Almost everything else in my life that is this expensive that I might like to have - be it a bike, a fancy DSLR camera, a Vespa, a big screen TV, a better laptop - is something I consider an investment. An investment in myself, in physical fitness, in personal enjoyment, in together time, in my education. A wedding dress is an investment in what? My marriage? My future with Mark? In having really nice wedding pictures? I'll buy that a photographer, a videographer are an investment in memories that you share with your children...but they're gonna think most dresses being worn today are hideously out of style by then anyway, so why do we let ourselves get talked into spending so much money on something? Is anything that brings you happiness an acceptable investment? If so, how do any of us manage to not have a billion dollars in credit card debt?
I don't really think of my wedding dress as an investment - I think of it as a bargain, a well made dress for a small amount of money; but I still can't believe dresses usually cost so much. At the same time, I know what fabric costs - I know any dress I bought or made would have to cost well over a hundred dollars to be made of remotely acceptable material, so I don't think I overpaid by an excessive amount. I know that somewhere along the way somebody has to make a profit off of the dress; I understand all of this. I'm not saying I don't think that my wedding dress is worth the money I paid for it. I'm saying that I have a really hard time seeing something I will wear once, that I will then clean and hang up again or resell, I have a hard time seeing it as an investment.
Do you think of your wedding dress as an investment? What is it an investment in? Do you normally try to write off big purchases in your life as investments, like I do, or are you much more comfortable just spending money sometimes because it makes you happy or makes a problem go away?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weight Loss Tips for Couples

I was cleaning out my Google reader this morning and I came across this article linked to on Lifehacker about couples losing weight together. I think that this is relevant to weddings and marriage, not just because many couples want to drop a few pounds before their weddings, but studies have shown that women on average gain weight after marriage or after moving in together. Factors like not sticking to an exercise routine, being so excited to cook newleywed meals together that you don't consider health or calories, serving each other the same portions, wanting to spend time together instead of working out, going out together, etc. all contribute to post shacking-up or post-marriage weight gain. Many of my married friends have complained about this. So I think that there are a lot of people who would find this article interesting.
Most of them are no-brainers, like agree on a diet, but some are interesting -
Take photos
: It’s hard to see weight loss when you’re together every day, so use photos to see how well you’ve progressed.
Plan vacations around activities: Instead of planning vacations around food, shift the focus to activities like walking tours, swimming, and sports.

It recommends exercising together, which works for my sister and her husband, but honestly, we can't really. We can't run together - Mark runs too fast, picks crappy routes, gets us lost, and inevitably has to stop and walk after getting us lost. We also can't go to the gym together, because we have different routines. We bike together sometimes, and that is really nice, until Mark bikes too fast and then I end up getting lost because I didn't see which way he turned, or rides too close behind me up a really steep hill and freaks me out. There are some things that we do manage to do without killing each other though, so that's nice.
We do go rock climbing together, and that is pretty fun, but I always get frustrated because I'm not very good and I wish I was better. Plus all the other people that Mark has introduced to climbing go a lot more often and are way better than me, so it's frustrating.
One thing I do really recommend is joining a team together - last fall I played on Mark's dodgeball team as a sub, and it was amazingly fun. We played with his coworkers, who like me because I "let" him go out to the bar with them on a school-night, and occasionally join them. The thing is though, you can't play a sport that one of you is good at and the other one isn't (as I learned when I played intramural soccer with him), or you won't have any fun. It has to be a sport that you are both stunningly mediocre at. Otherwise one of you will yell at the other one for losing the game.

Are you and your fiance trying to lose weight or stay in shape together or do you do it separately?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Charitable Ice Cream?

For those of you who are new to the blog, I started Charity Fridays because I feel like weddings are probably one of the most expensive things we will do in our lifetime (second only to buying a house and sending our kids to college), and that anytime you spend many thousands of dollars on something, you should think about where that money goes, who it supports, and how much good it can do. I originally just wanted to showcase different charities that people could donate to in lieu of or in addition to favors, or charities that people can use as their charity to donate to as part of their I Do Foundation registry.
As the project has evolved, we have taken to trying to find other ways to use the money you spend on your wedding for good. This way, when you have your wedding at a venue that is also a charity that you want to help support, or you buy a dress from a foundation that donates the profits to charity, you get what you need for your wedding, and your dollars also go towards something bigger than yourselves and your wedding. I love that the money that we are spending on our wedding will continue to last even after the cake has been eaten and the flowers have wilted. Our venue fee will help keep Irvine running, our floral budget will help keep teaching special needs kids, a percentage of the money spent on gifts will go to a charity we believe in. In this way, the money we spent on the wedding will outlast it. In this way, we are not blowing $15,000 on a single day - we are spending smartly, in a way that supports the community in which we live.
Nobody should feel pressured to make their entire wedding tax-deductible. We will certainly be buying a lot of products that don't have a double-duty bottom line. But if everybody makes an effort to make one decision with their wedding that supports something greater than themselves, it will make a difference. So we here at Wedding for Two will continue striving to show you unexpected ways to use your wedding budget to do double duty - wedding fun plus a good cause! Today's surprising way to do good with your wedding? An ice cream bar!
Today's charity is actually fairly local to me - I go to school at the University of Baltimore, and today's charity is the Sylvan Beach Cafe, which used to be around the corner. It is now Tahkara Brothers Ice Cream Shop, and they do Ice Cream Parties!!!!
The Sylvan Beach Foundation is a business run to support a foundation and residential program that serves disadvantaged young adults ages 18-22.
I want an ice cream bar ridiculously badly for our wedding, and honestly, at $4 per person, this costs less than most wedding cakes do. I think that an ice cream sundae bar plus a mediocre cake from Safeway or Giant would be the perfect combination for post-dancing deliciousness.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sil Vous Plait?

We're probably doing online RSVPs, but I love some of the RSVP cards out there - especially when they say fun things like this:
I just love the sauciness of "Can't come, Golden Girl's marathon is on that night!"
Some other cute ones I've seen include, for a destination wedding, "Packing my flip flops" or "Sorry, passport expired."
I've also seen some with multiple options:I think maybe ours can reference our venue in some way, like, "Bringing my bug spray" or "Sorry - Allergy season!" Although I think that will freak people out and make them wonder if our venue is going to be buggy.
Another option is to go the super sarcastic Someecards.com type of approach - "Please don't stick us at the loser table." or "I'm sure I'll enjoy your wedding despite not enjoying any other wedding I've ever been to." and "I don't think I have a good enough chance of getting laid at your wedding to explain the expense of attending."
To just have our RSVP say "yes" or "no" seems very un-us. I want something that says "this wedding will be witty and fun like the people throwing it!"
What are you putting on yours? Are you satisfied with a simple and classy yes/no?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Actually Danceable?

Has anybody heard of Hey Lady?
Check out that arch support! Oh baby!
Unfortunately, the 3-inch heels and the stiletto goodness is out for us and our woodsy wedding and my crummy feet, but I love the idea of these shoes. (Also, the budget...$240? That's almost half my dress price!) Some of them, like these champagne ones, are rewearable, but many of them are white and I'm just not gonna wear those again.
Just curious - what is the most you are willing to spend on wedding shoes? And how does it compare to what you spend on shoes normally?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Honeymoon Toys: The mini tripod

I'm a picture person. I love taking pictures, and I love having pictures of Mark and I. After all of our trips, I make a photo collage over on Snapfish.com and we frame it and put it on the wall.
I started to get frustrated though, because we usually didn't have that many pictures of the two of us. We would do the occasional self-timed shot with the camera precariously perched on a trash can or car roof, and we would ask total strangers to take our pictures. Not to mention the awkward hold-the-camera-out-and-take-a-picture shots:
(Always the double chin! Not to mention the shadows in my face.)
Then I would upload them, and they would be blurry, or my hair would be in my face, or the shot would be timed poorly. I started to lust after one of these:

Instead of getting one of these, Mark dug out his old tiny tripod that came with his first ever digital camera. It's about four inches in length, tucks into a pocket or a purse, and changed the way we take pictures.
(See how far away and well framed we are?)
Another thing that we have started to do is set the self timer to take three shots at once (every Canon has this feature). So if my hair is blowing across my face, it usually moves out of the way by the third frame and usually we get one decent shot out of three. We can also change positions so we can get some variety in our pictures:
It's amazing how much freedom you can get from something as geeky as a tripod. Our pictures from our recent trips have been so much better than the ones from before that. Mark doesn't really like it, because I'm constantly trying to make him take pictures, so I did tone it down a bit.
I plan to purchase myself a fancier mini-tripod sometime in the near future - ours doesn't wrap around stuff - but I feel like a lot of people are afraid to use tripods because they are a little nerdy, but I feel like it is a honeymoon must-have.
Even if you don't want to drop a lot of dough, the tripod that we have is less than $2 on Amazon. (They might make great stocking stuffers as well!) I think that it's a small price to pay to not get awkward chin pictures.