Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Look, it's our wedding!

SMP's inspiration board feature? Awesome. Loving this tent shot - the blue with the gold chairs and the green grass....
Cool Blue Easy

Credits: Belathee, Amanda Kraft Photography



and this one is just gorgeous. Love the tent on the bottom left.
flowers/tables

DIY Wedding Website

It seems like it's pretty much a given these days that if you're getting married, you'll need a wedding web site. I'm pretty sure that every wedding we've attended in the last couple of years had one, and I've visited the sites for at least three of the seven weddings happening in the next year.
There are various ways to obtain and manage your web site, depending on your budget and degree of technical prowess:

Willing to spend some money / not so great with this Internet thing:
  • Get a prebuilt site from weddingchannel.com, wedorama.com, wedsite.com, ewedding.com, etc. Some of these are free, but there's probably add-ons like domain names, RSVP management systems, etc.
  • PRO: everything's done for you; you just fill in your name, date, etc. There's probably a MadLibs-style form for your "how we met" story. If you want to spend the money you can add other services with, again, not a lot of work.
  • CON: everything's done for you. You have limited control over layout, content, etc
Minimal budget / used the Netscape WYSIWYG HTML editor to build your Geocities page (don't forget the BLINK tags!):
  • Build your own site using Google Sites, and host it on your own domain. See below for complete instructions.
  • PRO: complete control over content. Ability to add "gadgets", the obvious one being a countdown clock. Ability to embed Google Docs (more on this in a later post, perhaps, if I come up with a use for it that actually makes sense)
  • CON: limited control over layout and color. You're stuck with Google's themes and a selection of layouts with sidebars and such; we found a theme that worked well enough for us, so we went with it.
No budget / wrote your own grade tracking software so you could maintain your 4.0 with the least amount of effort possible:
  • Locate the site on the domain you already own, host it on the webserver in your basement, and write your own RSVP system.
  • PRO: absolute complete control over everything, everything, everything. Near-infinite ability to create additional services like advance playlist requests, interactive wedding crosswords, album for your guests to upload photos of themselves with you.
  • CON: takes time, excessive temptation to tinker, spike in your utility bill as your server struggles to handle the sudden increase from two hits a week to seven.
If you fall into the first category, let us know which service(s) you use and how you liked them. If you're in the second, and don't have a site yet, check out the tutorial below and let us know if it helped / if we made any mistakes (I wrote this a few weeks after I set up our site, but I referred back to the same instructions I used). If you're in the third, we might have a favor to ask...just kidding, but tell us about the coolest feature you built into your site!

1) Set up a Google Site
Go to http://sites.google.com; if you already have a Google account, you can just sign in and create a new site. If you don't have a Google account, why not? Get one and then proceed as above.
Pick a URL, like "http://sites.google.com/site/myweddingwebsite", pick a theme, and fill in the other details. (If you plan to obtain your own top-level domain, keep reading.)
2) Start creating pages! Google makes this pretty easy.
3) Give access to anybody you're sharing creative control with (fiance, wedding party members, etc.). As the Owner there are some things only you can do, like editing the content of the sidebar. We set up the site using our "we-mail" account and gave access to each of our personal accounts - then couldn't figure out why we couldn't set the correct date on the countdown gadget in the sidebar. But with your permission, anybody can create and edit pages, which is the primary thing here.
4) Tell people about it! We put it in our engagement party invites, and when we send them, our STDs and of course main invites will also list it.

Setting up your own domain
My experience here is limited; I used GoDaddy, on the recommendation of FBIL and FMIL, so that's what I'll be describing. If you choose to go with another registrar, the process will likely be similar.

1) Buy your domain.
There's some general advice about that here (ignore the bit about knowing your two DNS numbers - we aren't going to be running our own servers, Google's going to do that for us). The important steps are, choose a domain, check that it's available, pick a registrar and hit "buy". They'll try to sell you hosting and other extra services; for what we're doing, you don't need any of that.

2) Tell your Google Site that it belongs to your domain.
This is one of those things that only the site owner can do. Go to the "More actions" button and select "Manage Site", then select "Web address". Add your new domain to the list.

3) Tell your domain that your Google Site belongs to it.
Log into your registrar, select the domain you want to manage (if you're using these instructions you probably only have one to work with), and go to the place where you can manage your DNS; with GoDaddy it's the "Total DNS Control Panel". Look in the "CNAME" column for "www", and set it to "ghs.google.com". This means that anyone who visits "www.yourdomain.com" will be passed to google, which, thanks to step 2, will magically recognize where you're trying to send people and send them there.

For a more authoritative reference, here are Google's instructions on how to associate a domain with your site.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Poll

If you subscribe via RSS, head over to the website and vote in our new poll.
If I left out a trend that you are over, feel free to comment!
(And please don't feel judged if something you love is in the poll - I personally love damask, and I know a lot of people love cupcakes, and I can't wait to go to a wedding with a candy buffet - but lets be realistic - we do see these things a lot, and I think the candy buffet just might be the new chocolate fountain...which I also love. Mmmmm pineapple in chocolate....)

More DIY invites

My sister recently received an invite in the mail that she thought was really neat; she was pretty sure it came from a DIY kit, but it looked really cool nevertheless. I found the kit at A.C.Moore but I couldn't find any pictures online. I came across this one on WeddingBee recently and realized it was the same template.
Things I really like about it?
1) The all-inclusive design, meaning that once it's all together, you stick on a nice label and you don't need an envelope!
2) The price. $40 for 30 invites - plus with Michael's or A.C. Moore, you can almost always use a 50% off coupon, and bring friends to also use a 50% coupon. Which works out to about $0.70 apiece. Now, that is the kind of math we like here at WeddingforTwo!
3) The pattern. The invite my sister got was black and white damask - which is pretty, but is well, a little too classy for our nature-center wedding. Um, and I love those RSVP envelopes.
4) Since they are print-your-own, we can create a matching info card with hotel info, etc. and include it.
5) Since they are PYO, we can print some RSVP cards to be mailed back, and we can print some to instruct guests to RSVP online - mostly for our younger guests.

Drawbacks:
1) OMGITSNOTINOURCOLORSCHEME. Yes, I have contemplated copying the template and doing it on navy cardstock and getting the invites printed with green ink. Haven't decided yet if this is insane. Pretty sure it is though.
2) That's a lot of cardstock and that will be heavy to mail. We will probably spend as much on postage as we do on invites with this. That still would only come out to $130ish, plus RSVP postage.
3) We have to print our own. Or take them to a print shop and have them take care of it...yes, I like that better.
4) They might look cheap and make people afraid to come to our skinflint wedding which is, in the words of Franc Eglehoffer, "not chic but chip."

Have you found surprisingly classy PYO invites?

Engagement Pictures: Tough Lessons

Besides learning that I'm a total nutcase, our engagement pictures were a learning experience both for us and our photographer. I desperately wanted to do a shoot at HersheyPark, as it is the sweetest place on Earth, and also Mark designs roller coasters, and also it seemed like more fun than a lot of our other options. So I hunted around, found a photographer from Hershey who was doing portfolio building, and contacted her. She got back to me, let me know her very reasonable rates ($30 for an e-session), and we picked a date. At the end of the night, we all agreed that it was much harder than we had thought it would be. Lessons learned? So glad you asked. (These are mostly amusement park specific.)

1) Lines. We picked a Sunday in September, went in at 4pm, and still wound up waiting about a half an hour for the Trailblazer (I've never waited that long for the Trailblazer, I swear - it's a mine train!) and at least 20 minutes for the Ferris Wheel. If the Trailblazer line hadn't been so long, we probably would have ridden it at least 3 times and gotten a lot of really great shots - it's got perfect vantage points to shoot from the ground, and is gentle enough to shoot from in front or behind. They were only running one car, which accounted for the line. So definitely factor in waiting in line, and be careful if your photographer has hard-and-fast time constraints (we were very lucky that ours wanted to make sure to get all the shots we wanted).

2) Roller coasters. Roller coaster shots are harder than we thought they would be. We thought maybe on Lightning Racers (dueling wooden coasters) we could get some shots when the cars pass each other, but it just didn't work because of the vibrations, and there isn't a good vantage point on the ground. On a steel dueling coaster (if there is one with a layout where the cars cross paths so many times) we might have had more luck, but layouts like this are much more common with woodies. Again, the Trailblazer probably would have worked better if they were running two cars and we could ride it a few times. (We could have ridden it more, we just didn't want those to be the only shots we got.)

3) Just have fun. If you make having fun your #1 priority, you will care less how the pictures come out. I'm not sure whether any of our pictures will come out from most of the rides, but we also grabbed some shots on park benches, the carousel, and this great antique car. So we will, at the very least, have some decent pictures of us to share with family and friends and to use as our backgrounds; and we also had a great day at the park. (Okay, so we did slightly fewer rides than we usually would have, but I got to ride the Great Bear so I am one happy camper. Best roller coaster ever.)

4) Get a Pack Mule. I didn't want to carry much with me, so I didn't bring a bag or anything. I found myself alternately grateful that I hadn't and completely parched and starving wishing I could carry around a bottle of water and some snacks. The solution seems to be to bring some kind of pack mule who will carry your stuff for you and hold it while you go on rides. Hershey should really provide these. [Ed. note: don't rely on the guy for this, as he will get annoyed about taking photos where his pockets are all bulgy with your crap, and you will look at the pictures later and say things like, "why are your pockets all full?"]

5) Comfortable footwear. Yes, I dedicated pretty much a whole post to these, but still. It's an amusement park, you do a ton of walking. There is no excuse for not wearing comfortable shoes that will stay on your feet. There will not be enough pictures of your shoes to make it worth wearing your cute-but-uncomfortable heels or ballet flats that chew up the back of your foot.

6) Time. It took a lot longer than I had thought. I'm not sure whether I imagined that we have superhuman walking speed or what, but it just takes awhile to get around the park.

7) Make a list, but don't marry it. We had a list of shots we wanted, but we didn't get to a lot of them. I'm really happy with what we got to though, and I think we would have been at the park for 5-6 hours to hit the whole list. And we would have had too many pictures. It was good to have priorities, but to stay flexible, and to know when to quit.

8) People. There will be other people in the way. Always. It's like they are following you around and trying to ruin your shoot. Try to get out of their way first, but if they are standing in your shot, ask them politely to move.

9) Eat. I should know that if you are going to engage in physical activity, you must replenish your carb stores after 60-90 minutes, but I still had to resort to a bag of Twizzlers while Mark was riding Stormrunner, because everything not a candy shop had closed. Walking for 3 hours with no food or water? Bad idea. At least bring some Sport Beans or some Gatorade.

10) Hire somebody local that knows the park. Our photographer grew up in Hershey, and had worked at the park, so she knew the shortcuts and ride history and where the good vantage points were. She had even pre-scouted some locations when she was at the park during the summer. Having somebody with the inside scoop did help make us more efficient, because I found myself having trouble remembering exactly where a ride was.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ooooooh.

I love this:
(source)
How pretty would these be for jazzing up a plain table and napkins? They are $10.50 for a set of 10, so a little pricy, but possibly cheaper than colored napkins. I'm now obsessed with how to get my hands on my own set, but don't worry, the hysteria will pass any minute now.
Or would there be a way to make them with my fancy new Sizzix Big Shot? There doesn't seem to be a die that would work. Perhaps with the appropriate software, I could borrow Mark's sister's Cricut - but all the software for that is expensive also. Oh, plus I don't want to make people put napkin rings on our napkins. So...letting them go.
They are really pretty though.

Engagement Pictures: What to wear.

So our engagement pictures were at HersheyPark last Sunday and they were a lot of fun. They were also a little stressful, in that I neurotically stressed beforehand. As we were getting dressed, and I was fussing over what to wear, and Mark finally said, "it's only $30." At which point I stopped fussing, put on an outfit that I like (which did not include any one of the new shirts I had bought as a potential candidate), put on my crappy old tevas, brushed my hair, and called it a day. I felt much better after that.

The shirt I wound up wearing is one of my favorites, that I wear all the time, and have in two colors. I hadn't planned to wear this particular shirt because I felt like it looked too big. I tried it on again and realized I was imagining the problem. I had been trying to avoid bright colors because I had heard that they distract and also that they wash you out. I was pretty torn, because I like bright colors and I wear them a lot. Finally, I just decided to dress for a fun day at Hershey, and to not worry about how it looked in pictures.

After four hours at the park, I was also so glad I had worn my crappy tevas (okay, seriously, they are 10 years old and have a moon-and-stars celestial pattern, the velcro is going, and the woven fabric part is getting pretty unraveled.) I'm not sure that I would have been comfortable in anything else, other than sneakers, and truthfully, at the end of the day, I am a person who chooses comfort over fashion. (Because I am too cheap to choose both.) Any cheap shoes I buy that hurt my feet after more than 2 wearings? Into the goodwill bag. Which is why all I had to wear were my crappy tevas or a pair of Clarks that would not have stayed on my feet during any rides. I stressed for hours over what shoes to wear - and I had zero luck finding new shoes. I was really worried about this - because we see so many cute engagement shoots where the girl is wearing fantastic shoes and there is a great picture of the cute shoes. Then I realized that I could just not ask the photographer to take a picture of my shoes. I could also actively ask her to not take pictures of my shoes. Problem solved!

Ultimately, I decided that as long as we were comfortable and having fun, we would look much better than if either of us was uncomfortable and unable to have fun. At the end of the day, we had a great time at the park, and we'll see how the pictures come out.

So why did I obsess so much? Um. The BIC. I see other bloggers complain about their e-pics and rehearsal dinners and bridal showers and how they need to buy a new dress or they have nothing to wear or they are torn between this sweater and that sweater or they purchased new shoes. I let it get to me. I obsessed. So I'm telling you to just close the window when you see a post obsessing about the engagement pictures. Close the window, go to your closet, and pick out your favorite shirt. Your favorite pants. Your most comfortable shoes. Add a nice necklace and you're done. Then walk away and stop overthinking it. When you see other bloggers obsessing, tell them to do the same. Maybe we can create a climate of sanity instead of panic. You already own clothes that you like, and you own them because you like them. Just trust yourself, trust the judgment you had before you became a "bride" (or groom) and stopped being a normal, functioning human being. You will feel much happier after that.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Memorabilia

I'm sure that you have all seen this guest book. On the one hand, what a great idea! I was thinking recently that it would be great if we could somehow incorporate the letters and postcards we wrote to each other while Mark was studying abroad into some kind of display at the wedding, and I remembered this book. We also have saved some of our memorabilia from our relationship. It would be pretty easy to scan it and incorporate it into a photo-book guest book if we wanted to.
The thing is though, for maybe the first year I kept ticket stubs and things like that. I have a shoebox I shoved some of them in. Then I started putting other junk in it. Then, eventually, I just started throwing things away. I come from a family of packrats that keep everything. My mother has not only all of her notebooks from when she was in grade school, she has all of her mother's. Oh, and her grandmother's. In an effort to rebel, in college, I decided I didn't want to do that and keeping everything (in little messy piles all around my room) was just making my life more stressful. So I started to recycle things like ticket stubs and brochures from places we went, because they weren't useful and I am still working on a scrapbook from my trip to Italy my junior year of college. Which means that the book would be "incomplete." On a scale of 1-10, I'm gonna let you guess how much you think I care about that...
At the same time, we've been together for five years. Five. We're actually just hitting our 6-year meetaversary. We should be able to scrape together enough things we didn't throw away to make a pretty cute photobook. Which brings us to issue #2. I'm not sure that I want to invest the amount of time that this will take. Scanning the ticket stubs and everything else and then arranging them? That's a lot of work. Coming up with captions or explanations?
Sounds like time to bring in a ringer....like my FMIL and FSIL who are good at scrapbooking and would probably enjoy this project. Or at least pretend to. I think if we organized our memorabilia for them, and organized the pictures we would like to use, they might be willing to take over the work of scanning the stuff and organizing a book for us. Sounds like the perfect do-it-together project. Especially if it involves sitting around the table with a few mugs of tea, a couple cats curled up in the sunshine, and reminiscining about our relationship.
Would it be over-the-line to ask them to help with this? Plus, as a guest, would you enjoy looking through a scrapbook about the couple or do you simply not care? I find that thinking of something clever to write in the guestbook is my least favorite part of wedding, and maybe if we make it more like a high school yearbook people will be more likely to tell us things like "omg, lets be bff 4 eva!" or "have a great summer!!" So basically - would looking over the couple's past fix or exacerbate guest book writer's block?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Engagement Party - When and where?

Once we established that we were having a party (which my grandmother generously offered to throw us), the next question was where to have the party. I immediately thought of my parents' place, with its spacious backyard and plentiful poison ivy, but we quickly ruled it out. It would simply be far too stressful for both us and my parents, plus parking would be an issue. Our own place holds about 15 people for a party, and we were talking about inviting at least 50 people. There were no friends we were comfortable asking to host. So we were looking at renting a space - which brought up two questions - community center/hall/fire department party room type space + food; or a restaurant?
I don't mean to stir up bad feelings again, but remember what I talked about in this post? What happened was my parents accidentally scheduled a trip to during the weekend we had picked for our engagement party. Then, because my dad had trips scheduled for at least 6 weekends in September and October, there was one weekend left open. Which has complicated things immensely, because it's the weekend of this. I love this race. It's absolutely the best way to see Baltimore, and it brings out the best in Baltimoreans, and it's an amazing way to feel connected to the city. I cannot begin to describe to you how much I love this race. So far, I've run the half and the relay. I wanted to run the half again this fall, because there's no way I can run it next year, as it will either be the week before or the day before our wedding. I was planning to run the half until I realized it really wasn't feasible. So now I'm running the relay with some of my former hockey teammates. Mark is running it with my sister, BIL, and some other guy.
The race will also tie up the entire city, fill the streets with people, fill the restaurants with recovering marathoners, and fill the hotels. Even though the race will be over by the time we get the party started, we found ourselves unwilling to go into downtown Baltimore because some of the road blocks would still be up, and the minimums might be higher for restaurants. This complicated our venue search. We kept coming up with good ideas in the city, and then ruling them out.
We looked at a lot of restaurants. Restaurants would be easier for the people throwing the party. Everything would be taken care of. Nobody would be sent out mid-party to buy ice. We looked at a few us-type places, like brewpubs or Mexican restaurants. But it just didn't feel right. We're getting married in the woods, and partying it up in a tent. So having the party in a restaurant that is nicer than where we are getting married? It just seemed odd. There was also an issue of making our friends feel uncomfortable by forcing them to sit down and eat dinner with my family. It made it seem less like a "party" and more formal (like a wedding). So we decided to find a place and then have some catered food brought in.
The place we really wanted was the pavilion at Lake Elkhorn. It's screened in, has electricity, bathrooms downstairs, and a gorgeous view of the lake. It's also pretty close to the parking lot and handicapped accessible. Unfortunately, the lake is being dredged in October and they are not renting out the pavilion. So we started hunting again.
It got so frustrating it was almost as bad as wedding-venue hunting again. For some reason, we couldn't find a fire station with a party room in reasonable driving distance. With the majority of our guests coming from DC or Baltimore, we were trying to find something in Columbia. It got more complicated when I pictured the party in my head. There was no reason for everybody to be in one room, and I was actually hoping for more than one room so that my friends could at least try to escape from my family members who will back them into a corner and talk at them all night. (If this is offensive to any of my family members who read this, rest assured, I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about somebody else.) We also wanted somewhere with a little outdoor space, so kids could run around outside or we could have lawn games and just a little more space to spread out in.
I checked out these places and they were decent options, within the budget(ish), but they weren't that convenient and they were a little more expensive, and finally my aunt suggested a place out in Olney. We were so tired of the venue hunt that we just checked to make sure that it was handicapped accessible, had multiple rooms, and an outdoor space for hanging out. Check, check, and check. It also has the advantage of looking beautiful and historic and very "us." We booked it and felt a very definite sense of relief. After this, I'm not looking forward to finding a place for the rehearsal dinner, especially if it's marathon weekend again next year (I'm holding out hope that the race will be the week before.) I'm really tempted to just book Brewer's Art now and get that over with.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I can't get my hands off organizing.

Since running two student organizations, and planning our engagement party and wedding, and serving on the board of a large state organization where I have to recruit people to come to events all the time clearly was not enough event planning for me....come to the Baltimore Bee Meetup tomorrow night!
Yes - I should have mentioned this earlier. But I figured I'm so worshipful of the 'bee all the time I didn't want to push it on anybody, and also this blog's focus has shifted to be a little less Baltimore specific than it was originally. Plus I'm pretty burned out of event planning and I kept forgetting. People do this for a living? I'm so glad I'm in law school.
Anyway, if you want to bitch about weddings, or talk about weddings, or chitchat about Baltimore, or talk about feminism, sprained fingers, triathlons, marathons, law school, comfortable shoes or anything else, come tomorrow night! Let me know if you want to come, because I'll try to make a reservation or grab a table or something. (Fiances are also welcome.)

Charity Friday: Dress donations

I am taking down the charity Friday link from this morning because this section of their website was pointed out to me:
"Condoms offer only a very limited protection from STDs. In fact it is clear that women who are more aggressive sexually on the basis of the protection that condoms give them are likely to end up with a serious malady. Most will become infected with STDs and suffer the infertility, cancer or other disease symptoms that comes with them. Condoms do not make sex "safe". Statistics show that the majority of unchaste single women will end up contracting one or more STD in their twenties regardless of whether they have faithfully used condoms. Only women who choose abstinence until marriage will protect their ability to conceive and bear children."
and this
"Finaly, you should know the other issues associated with abortion. Did you know that abortion has been strongly associated with breast cancer in the overwhelming number of medical studies on this topic? Click here for more on this. Also it has been strongly linked to emotional health problems and even suicidal tendancies in aborting mothers."

I cannot support or condone supporting an organization that lies like this. Condoms are 97% effective and help prevent all STDs except skin-to-skin STDs in which an exposed leison is outside the area the condom would cover. (HPV is the most commonly transmitted STD because of this, so please do be careful.) Additionally, misconceptions about condoms lead to lower rates of condom use. Additionally the abortion-breast cancer link has been solidly disproven and even most pro-life organizations no longer discuss it. It is a shame that this organization chooses to use these scare tactics, because they do have a wonderful mission.

In the future I promise to maintain an even more careful screening process to ensure that the charities we encourage you to support do not deliberately misinform people about their health or anything else.

If you would like to donate your dress to a charity, or purchase a discounted dress; consider Brides Against Breast cancer or a similar organization. http://bridesagainstbreastcancer.org/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When in doubt, go chocolate.

I'm not a big fan of traditional cake toppers, and we make an effort to not accumulate junk. What better for the couple that moves frequently, hates junk, and loves chocolate than one of these bad boys as your topper?
Only $15, which is pretty cheap for a cake topper! They are on the smaller side - less than 5 inches tall (I was picturing them as a giant chocolate bunny that is like, a foot tall.) It would be nice for a smaller cake or cake on a buffet because the topper wouldn't overwhelm the cake. You can get same-sex or mix-and-match brides and grooms as well, so yay!
There's just one question I have - we're extremely white - but we love dark chocolate. Would it be in any way racially insensitive to have the dark chocolate toppers?

Ann Taylor Bridesmaids Dresses

Ann Taylor has their new line of bridesmaids dresses out! I'm liking this "galaxy" color and I think it would go really well with our color scheme. The only thing is - I'm not sure that they would be universally flattering.



The middle one is my favorite, and my vote for the most universally flattering. (Plus you could totally tie the sash around the front instead of the back, to avoid the butt bow effect.) I also like that the sashes on all of them are removable - and you could replace them with another color (maybe champagne?) The only thing I don't like are the prices - $215 is a little high for such a plain dress, but it would be very easy to wear again, and $215 isn't totally off the charts for a bridesmaid dress - particularly pure silk. Ann Taylor also frequently has sales or coupons for spending more than a certain amount, and also usually has free shipping for orders over a certain amount. They also offer free returns and all dresses come with a return label so you can mail it back if it doesn't fit. The downside are the limited color choices and styles. But the upside is your dress comes in 2 weeks and you can return it.
Did you go mainstream bridal store or some kind of alternative like Ann Taylor or J.Crew? What were the advantages and disadvantages?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Makeup Issues

Remember this? They were Sunday and I'll be writing more about them, and possibly sharing some pictures, but first I wanted to finish out my makeup dilemma, in case anybody else out there is a total cheapskate and wants all-day makeup without breaking the bank.
In my case, both my overwhelming cheapness and my social awkwardness won out over my desire to finally spend a decent amount of money on good makeup. I tried to go to Ulta and had plans to ask somebody to help me, but nobody offered and there was a whole group of bitchy teenage girls in front of me in line for a makeover, so I gave up, because well, I didn't want to ask for help and get told I would be after the cheerleaders and would I like to go look at the age reducing makeup while I waited?
I wound up going to Target/CVS to acquire makeup for the engagement pictures. Total spent? $20, give or take. I had blush and finishing powder already, and brushes, and mascara, so I wound up buying foundation, eyeshadow, and lipstick. It all stayed on and looked pretty good at the end of the day (although the verdict won't be in until we get pictures.) So here is what I used:
For foundation, I went with Rimmel London's Lasting Finish. I actually picked out a lighter shade of CG Aqua Smoothers from Target, but it turns out my face is tanner than I thought and it was too pale, so I returned that to Target and picked this up at CVS at the last minute. It stayed on until the end of the day (about 6 hours), so it works pretty well for foundation under $7. I applied it with those foam sponges that are like, $2 for a pack and probably not very eco-conscious (oops.)
For eyeshadow, Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Color - this stuff is amazing - I've never had an eyeshadow stay this long without creasing, fading, or flaking off. I wanted something natural, so I went with this caramel color. I wound up using my own eyeshadow brush to apply the color, because the one that came with it required a more precise hand than I had, and didn't blend very well. (I highly recommend investing in decent makeup brushes - Ulta often has 2-for-1 sales or promos that if you spend a certain amount on their products, you get a free brush. Their brushes are reasonably priced and substantially better quality than a crummy drugstore set.)

For lipstick, I picked a Revlon shade - Endless Spice. Revlon lipstick is really the only longwear lipstick I have found to last at all. It's great - although by the end of the day, it did feel kind of grainy. It's about $10, and fancier lipsticks are only $14-18, so I'm willing to upgrade if you have a fav to recommend that doesn't eventually feel like I'm eating sand. I went with this shade because my favorite, Sheer Rosette, looks a little too bright against my slightly tanner skin.

Mascara - I use the neutrogena acuvue recommended lash tint - it doesn't make my eye lashes feel all sticky or gross, and it doesn't give me raccoon eyes. It's also supposedly more contact lens safe than other mascaras, but I'm not sure if I buy that. I didn't have a problem, but I also don't remember having a problem with other mascaras and my contacts. Except when I stab myself in the eye.
Blush and Finishing poweder from the Ulta Mineral makeup kit I have, and I was good to go! (The Ulta mineral kit is $28 and includes a foundation, blush, finishing powder, and retractable kabuki brush - highly recommended for daily use if you don't want to look like you're wearing a ton of makeup.)
Hope this helps you if you are questing for makeup!

Centerpieces

There are some advantages and disadvantages to being the second child to get married. Disadvantages? The incredibly high standards set by my sister's awesomely fun and spectacular wedding. Advantages? Oodles of advice. Somebody who already did the legwork of finding all the family addresses. Crafting help. Oh and free centerpieces. As I look for inspiration, I keep an eye out for some way to repurpose these in a way that doesn't make it totally obvious that we're reusing them.
There aren't a ton of square centerpieces out there, and even fewer that I liked or that didn't involve a ton of flowers or work. Then, yesterday, when I was reading Style Me Pretty, I saw these.




I'm not sure how I feel about the apples, but I love the moss with the candles. And normally I hate white flowers, but somehow it really works, plus only 3 lillies per table would be way cheaper. It's simple and elegant but also nature-y. Also, because we could assemble these with fake moss and candles and a glue gun beforehand, they wouldn't involve a ton of wedding day prep except setting them out and having somebody light the candles. We would probably stick to 2-3 vases per table to keep it from looking too busy. Would fake lilies look cheap or cheesy? And how could we convert this to an arrangement for long tables if I get my way and we have long tables instead of rounds? (This is one of those disputes where we each assume that sometime in the next year, the other will come around. I think eventually it will be settled by a coin toss.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ring Talk

The other day, a friend of mine said to me, "oh, I still haven't seen your ring!" I did what I normally do, and pulled it off my finger and passed it to her. She reacted, surprised, saying, "oh, you didn't have to take it off!" I shrugged. She examined it, tried it on, asked how tiny my fingers were, and then passed it back. She and the girl sitting next to her started talking about how this other girl they know would never do that. (Apparently her ring is way nicer than mine though :-p.)
I don't really have a problem with handing people my ring. I don't think they are going to steal it, drop it, or eat it. I actually hate standing there with them examining my finger, so I would rather hand it to them. Plus, my ring in particular is easier to see when I'm not wearing it. I also don't really have a problem with people trying it on - unless of course, they have swine flu. I don't think it's a karma thing, like they'll give it bad juju; and when I wasn't engaged, I always wanted to try on other people's rings (which is kinda how my sister's got stuck on my finger once). So I understand the urge.
What do you do when people ask to see yours?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weddings are a marathon, not a sprint.

I first got turned onto Jamie's blog by Google Reader over the summer - and I started reading it. She's an ultra-runner, of the craziest kind. It's addictive to read about somebody else's pain and power to endure this kind of challenge. People have extraordinary capacity, they really do. I can't see myself ever being able to run a 100-mile race, but I have other skills. (Like my sub-3 minute showers. Cuz clearly that's the same.)
Anyway, today she talked about Ultramarathon and 24-hour races. The quotes she used struck me as funny because weddings are clearly 24-hour races, spread out over a year or more.

Go easy. Go relaxed. Save energy. Ignore the world. Forget the deep habit of every runner who loves to race which makes you yearn to close up on the pair of heels in front.

I am in one of the worst hours or running I have ever endured. In some odd way, I am losing my nerve. But my memory comes to my aid and I remember other times. These things happen, and you get through them after a while. Bad patches don't go on forever.

It is not pain I feel but sinking. My involvement with the world grows dimmer. It occurs to me that it would be nice to keel over. A barely audible whisper says it would be a way out. It seems almost impossible to bother any more...but I do.

When wedding planning, especially when you are just at the beginning, it is hard to believe that there is a finish line ahead of you. Just focus on yourself and your partner, and don't burn yourself all out on planning all at once. Relax whenever possible. If a weekend, or even a conversation, goes by without talking about weddings, we count it as a bonus, not time lost. Last week, I kept having to remind myself that after I initially freaked out, I would calm down again. It's true. The bad patches don't go on forever. You get over the hill. You get to the next mile marker. You just keep truckin' for the time being. And even though it would be so easy to quit, to elope, to not care anymore about anything, for some reason we keep going. You keep your strides even and your breathing steady, and eventually you cross that finish line.

What sport do you compare wedding planning to?

Engagement Party - Why?

Some people say they don't understand the point of an engagement party. And honestly, I didn't either. So why are we currently formulating a plan for a party of our closest (I mean geographically) friends and family? This is a huge party, by the way, because when it comes to the idea of celebrating our wedding, I'm reluctant to leave anybody out. Our wedding is pretty limited to our closest friends and family, it just happens to be a lot of people.
Had my friends and family not reacted to our engagement with the same question - "when are we getting together to celebrate?" - I'm not sure that I would be so gung ho. I'm not sure that I would have wanted to invite my friends.
But there was another factor - I want the important people in our lives to start to get to know each other. Because as Sara of $2000 Wedding wrote earlier, your wedding isn't your only day to do something fun with your family. Over our lifetimes, we will have housewarming parties, we will have backyard barbecues, we will have christenings (uh, baby naming ceremonies actually, because if I'm going to Hell, I'm taking everyone with me), and childrens' birthday parties. We will have retirement parties, we will have anniversary parties. Our wedding is not the only time that our families will get together, nor should it be. And why wait until our wedding to get everybody together to celebrate and have fun?
The weddings I have the most fun at are the ones in which I know the most people. At Danny's wedding, we knew our table - and most of them we had only met a few times. Whereas at our friend's wedding where Mark was the best man, I knew all of Mark's friends, plus members of the bridal party and family that we met at the bridal shower and the rehearsal dinner. It is nice to meet people before weddings, because then you have more people to talk to at the wedding, and it makes the wedding more fun. (Why can't people get to know each other at the wedding? They can, but for some reason it's harder than at a casual party.)
We have enough single friends or singular friends that don't know many others who are invited to the wedding, and it would be nice if they could get to know each other without having to be seated at a particular table; if they could feel like they don't have to stay the whole night; if we are there to help introduce them to people we think they might connect with.
So yes, our engagement party is definitely one part giant match/friendmaking scheme.
Additionally, people coming to the engagement party might not be able to make it to the wedding, but this way we still get to celebrate with them.
So there you have it. When asked now why have a party, I list the following reasons:
1) We need a reason to have a party? Parties are fun.
2) Having people meet each other and get to know each other - to possibly become friends, or at least to become familiar with each other.
3) It's a long engagement and we like our family and friends enough to want to see them in the meantime. (Our engagement party will be a -1 Anniversary or 1-year-countdown party.)
4) To get to spend more time with the people we love, without a DJ and a photographer and a caterer telling us where to go, what we have to do when, and when we have to cut the cake.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Color Palettes

Since I read so much wedding stuff, I see a lot of color schemes come across my laptop screen, so I had a pretty good idea of some of the more common schemes. I would run them by Mark, and he would make a face. I made inspiration boards of some of my favorites, but he looked at my green and purple board and made a face. He didn't really suggest any color ideas (except black and silver, to which I told him that our wedding was not my high school prom) except commenting regularly that he likes blue and it's his wedding too.
I continued combing inspiration boards in my search for our wedding colors, and then I got annoyed. I didn't want just one or two colors and to have everything match everything, and I knew nobody would care if their invitations matched the tablecloths. I know I'm not alone these days, and that more and more people are choosing to have several colors be part of their overall wedding ambiance. I didn't want to be faced with a fabulous invitation or bridesmaids dress and then have to rule it out because "it's not one of our colors". (Ultimately why we aren't going with my coveted green and orange scheme.)
I kept coming back to the color scheme I suggested here, except possibly with a dark blue instead of eggplant, but I couldn't get Mark to visualize it. Somehow, he couldn't grasp champagne and cranberry and the particular shade of green I meant. He couldn't see them all together.
Since I was in Michigan at the time, and my inspiration boards had failed me in the past, I decided I needed a more crafty solution.
I went to my local Jo-Ann's and rustled up some cardstock in the right shades. I couldn't find the right shade of cranberry, so I finally just grabbed some ribbon in the right color. At home with my paper cutter, I assembled four samples of different colors and I mailed them to Mark. He opened them, shrugged (I'm guessing), thought I was a little weird (I know), and set them on our kitchen counter. After a month and a half, he mentioned that since they were still sitting on the kitchen counter, they had kind of grown on him. After I got home and was considering green and orange, I made him some new little samples. He lined them all up and decided he still liked the navy (it's actually not-quite-navy, but it's close), green, champagne and cranberry sample the best, so...we have colors! Since blue is his favorite color and mine is green, it makes sense. The champagne and cranberry will add enough pizzaz so it doesn't look too "preppy" and instead looks just early-fall-appropriate enough to work. Additionally, I like looking at all the samples I made together and knowing that purple and orange also "go" with the colors that we have, so if we want pumkin centerpieces, we can have pumpkin centerpieces, or anything else that suits our fancy. It also gives a lot more flexibility with the dresses for the Moms, because all four of these colors are very "wearable" and so whatever color the bridesmaids wear, the Moms will just wear one of the other colors or a different shade of whatever color the bridesmaids are wearing. I also like using the champagne because my dress has champagne accents. Shhhh!
Once we had colors, we could actually get moving on a couple other projects (like our STDs!), and I've been scouting the flowers at the local farmer's market to see what is in season. It was nice to have something decided.
How did you pick your colors? Do you have just one or two, or a whole bunch?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Will you be my friendor?

As we were leaving class today, my friend Kay* and I started talking weddings and she mentioned a friend who wants Kay to make her wedding dress. I made a face, because I contemplated this and thinking about it made me feel exhausted. I even bought a pattern, and I would love to try to make a dress for a TTD session or something, but still...man, it's an undertaking. I could never ask that of a friend.
Kay then mentioned that this girl is attempting to do this with all of her friends by saying, "oh, your skill of X can be your gift to me." Their friend who is a photographer, for example. But Kay pointed out that working as a photographer at somebody's wedding is a gift valued at well over $1000. (It occurred to me later that, in addition, by coming to your wedding, your friend has already given up a chance to work for a day.)
I picked Kay's brain for a little longer about how far over the line is too far to ask of your talented friends, and I think I've found the line. This is specifically things you would ask of your friends "as their gift" to make yourself feel better about asking too much of them. This is not the same as asking your friend for a favor, or to help you with certain tasks, and it certainly does not include most bridesmaids duties (although bridesmaid abuse we will discuss at a later date.)

The Right Side of the Line:
Skills that can be used before the big day (graphic design, invite printing, making bouquets, making the cake, an engagement shoot)
Skills that don't require working during the wedding (hair dressing, makeup)
Skills that don't require working more than 30 minutes during the wedding (ceremony music, manning the iPod, acting as MC)
Skills that can be used after the big day (designing a photo album, a custom painting of the bride and groom in their wedding attire).
Services that would cost less than $500 if you had to pay for them yourself.

The Wrong Side of the Line:
Asking your friendor to sacrifice more than 2+ hours on the wedding day (making food, set-up or clean-up, crafting elaborate centerpieces)
Asking a friend to serve as DOC to the point where you ask her/him to deal with the caterers during the ceremony.
Asking a friend to design, print, and assemble all of your invitations for you.
Services that would cost more than $500 if you had to pay for them yourself.

The Line is a Dot:
Asking a friend to photograph your wedding as the only photographer, expecting a professional quality to the pictures.
Asking a friend to not only make, but design your dress based off of a dress that she saw in a store.
Asking a friend to cater the entire wedding.
Services that would cost more than $1000 if you had to pay for them yourself.

If you are a friend who is put in the unfortunate situation of saying no to a friend who is asking too much, Kay and I came up with a possible tactic. Say gracefully, "I'm not really comfortable providing that service for you, but how about I do [this]?" Then suggest something that is a reasonable thing for you to do. For Kay, I suggested she offer to make her friend's veil instead of her dress. The photographer friend could offer an engagement session or post-processing of pictures (which would allow them to go with a lower-cost photographer), or album design help.

This doesn't apply to friends who offer you a skill of theirs as their gift. In that case you should asses what the friend is offering and whether you feel comfortable accepting it. The above strategy also works in reverse - i.e. "it's so sweet of you to offer to make my dress, but I think I'm going to find a dressmaker because the dress I want is really elaborate - but would you be willing to make my veil?"

Where do you think the friendor line is? What have friends had the nerve to ask you to do for their wedding?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things are starting to get complicated.

When people, even well meaning people, tell me that I am the bride and the wedding is all about what the bride wants, I want to punch them in the face. Because it's a total lie! The wedding is about what your family wants, and what you think your guests want, and what your partner wants, and what your partner thinks other people want, and what will offend or bother other people the least. It's about what your vendors are willing to offer and it's about what you can afford. Most of us, by the end of this, find ourselves planning weddings that we don't recognize.
We find ourselves sacrificing our dream dress or awesome photography or a live band so that we can afford better food or upgrade the beer and wine selection. We resign ourselves to the fact that we won't be able to eat the delicious food that we order, that we won't remember any part of the day, that our shoes will be uncomfortable, and that we will just be so relieved when it is all over. We convince ourselves that wedding planning is so horrible that we will never do it again*, hence our marriages will last longer.
The worst part is though, that we make these sacrifices and no matter what we give up - letterpress invitations so that more money can go into the hors d'oeuvres, flowers so that we can rent sturdier chairs, colored table linens in favor of a better tasting cake - there is always somebody around the corner waiting to call us a bridezilla for wanting the thing we're sacrificing.

Weddings are not all about the bride. Maybe some weddings are, but this one isn't. Even though, for some reason, I'm planning most of it, with sometimes very little input except after I get really really excited about an idea, Mark makes a face, tells me he hates it, and we're back to square one. I'm planning it with everybody else in mind. We're not having an awesome camping wedding because a lot of my family members aren't capable of camping and a lot of my friends hate sleeping on the ground. We're not going to play SR-71's Mosquito at the reception, I'm guessing, out of fear that it will offend people or that it isn't very "wedding-y" or "danceable". We're not going to serve mushrooms as part of the main entree because I know too many people don't like them. We're not going to have pineapple filled cake because Mark hates pineapple! We're not going to have mini-crabcakes because if we do, they will blow our whole hors d'oeuvres budget. We're probably going to get a DJ, even though I hate them, because somewhere along the way I will listen to somebody's argument or horror story about their iPod reception and what went wrong, believe them, book a DJ, and spend the wedding hating him.
At some point, or at many points, I will crack under the pressure of planning and burst into tears out of my fear that since nobody actually likes me, they will show up at our wedding for free food and booze, and be disappointed because they get served "weird" food and the bar is beer and wine only!
These are the moments I think about eloping. About going to city hall or whatever and getting married and then going out to dinner afterwards at The Brewer's Art where we can eat food that we like and not be annoyed by having to make conversation with all the people coming to our wedding that I didn't even want to invite!
So no, kind stranger who commented out of the blue on my wedding planning as I was bitching about the catering to a friend. The wedding isn't all about me. And I'm not going to tell guests that if they don't want to eat my food, they can stay home. I'm going to serve food that will please people, and hope that it tastes edible.
I would like to offer you all some hope at the end of this post about how I have found the light at the end of the tunnel and stopped freaking out. I have not. This is day 2 of my freakout. I'm either going to break down and cry soon** or I'm going to grow the hell up and quit whining about how it's my party and I will stop acting like a two year old about this whole damn thing and be a grown-up and be gracious and continue to plan the party that I think other people will enjoy. I will remember that this is only one day (that costs as much as a down payment on a house) and that it will never matter as much to other people as it does to me, but that still doesn't mean that I get to decide everything without considering other's feelings.

*This was also how I felt about the LSATs and why I didn't retake them, get a 170, and go to the school of my dreams. I simply have no interest in ever repeating the experience.
**Hopefully not in class. How embarassing would that be? "I'm crying because I can't serve mini-crabcakes at my wedding!!! And they keep saying its all about me but it's just not truuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuue. ::hiccup:: So the facts of Terry v. Ohio are ::hiccup::"

DIY Invites

I've talked before about doing or not doing our own invitations, and I think as long as we keep it reasonable, we can DIT/DISE them.
First of all, these invites would look great with the cake I showed on Tuesday (because everybody will bring their invitation to the wedding and compare it), and secondly, when printed, they could go very nicely in a pocketfold or an envelofold. We would probably get the inserts printed at a local print shop and then take on the task of attaching them ourselves, which would be just enough DIY.
Other options are some kits I've seen, some of which are really nice and would make very easy but elegant looking invitations.
At this point, all I know is that any invites, if we do choose to DIY them, cannot and will not involve cutting all of the paper to size; printing 5 different insert cards ourselves; printing on vellum; or making our own pocketfolds. This list will get longer, and unless DIY will result in substantial savings or what we really want that we can't find for sale; we'll probably just skip it for the invites.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marriage Equality

I found this article this morning very interesting, and a good explanation for those of you who are wondering about the future of Prop 8. I found the following argument to be the most compelling (despite the assumption that elderly voters supported prop 8 and also the visible relief that they are going to die soon):

"Repealing 8 in 2012 has many advantages; four more years of elderly voters will be removed from the rolls and four more years of young voters will be added, two more years of Californians will come out to their families and friends, volunteers have two more years to regroup after post-2008 burnout, and the 2012 presidential voter turnout will be significantly greater than the 2010 turnout for the gubernatorial election. Yet by bringing the issue of marriage equality back into the public eye sooner, in 2010, the repeated messaging will allow for greater visibility and acceptance of queer California culture."

For political and stategic reasons, I would say that it would be smarter to wait - but then I think of everyone who would like to get married in the next three years. We're pretty tired of being engaged already - and we're still over a year away. I think of all those people who will be denied hospital visitation, those people who will be unable to inherit from their partner through the laws of intestacy, those people who would like to stand up in front of their families and declare their commitment, but they don't want to deal with people commenting on the fact it isn't "real" because it isn't legal. Three years is a long time to wait for that.

How long would you wait to get married, once you were ready?

e-pics prep (mostly makeup)

I told myself that this wouldn't happen - but it is. I'm overthinking our engagement pictures. I'm taking extra good care of my skin (and trying to clear out the last of a really weird breakout I had recently.) I went shopping and bought 5 potential shirts (which I will probably then try on, take pictures of, and send the pictures to my sister and female friends for their opinions.)
I created an inspiration album on Picasa to send to our photographer, and then I made a list of must-have shots. I went shoe shopping. I'm fussing over my upcoming haircut. Now I'm considering my makeup.
Mark is not overthinking the engagement pictures. Mark's only question so far has been, "When is your triathlon training thing that morning? And where? What time are we getting to the e-pics after that?" Mark has not wondered what he should wear, or whether he should buy new shoes. (I always need new shoes, people!) Oh, he did get a haircut, but that was also partially because he looked really shaggy and also because he had a work thing.
So now I'm dealing with a breakout and my quarter-life crisis and considering what to do about makeup. I don't wear makeup. It's a laziness thing. Also it's pretty messy. You would think being an insecure person would prompt me to wear a lot of makeup, because I feel like I look so much better when I wear makeup, but I just...can't be bothered, I guess.
But when I break out the fluffy kibuki brush and the Ulta brand bare minerals kit and the best lipstick ever? I look pretty good.
The problem is, the makeup wears off after a couple of hours, and then I just look like me - which I wouldn't normally mind, but these days I've been really needing some kind of foundation/evenness just to make me look a little more polished. I have heard good things about MAC makeup, but part of my thing is that I like to use mostly organic or natural products whenever possible - but I know that petroleum is probably what makes for a really good foundation. I love Kiss My Face products, but they only make a tinted moisturizer (which I may look into for day-to-day, because frankly, I'm getting old.)
Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm open to anything, but I'm not spending more than $20 on a foundation unless its really amazing and will also do my dishes. Okay, I might go up to $30 - but you gotta make a case for it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Dream OOT Bag

So, if I had a million dollars to spend on our wedding, despite having more food and a grilled cheese station, I would make really really fancy OOT bags.
We were at a party on Saturday night and they had Berger cookies there, and they were amazing, which just reminded me about how we must make sure to put them in our OOT bags or in some way make sure our guests experience them. Then I read this article, which reminded me how bad bottled water is generally, and I started wishing I was rich enough to give all of our guests reusable BPA free water bottles like we use. (Okay, Mark still uses his old BPA-tastic Nalgene, but I have switched to mostly non-BPA sources.)
I would start by stuffing everything into this bag (the front pocket is key with a tote bag - helps you keep track of keys and smaller items):
then I would fill it with the usual Maryland staples:
And since I'm dreaming anyway, why not throw in a bottle of my favorite Maryland wine (their reisling) and a couple bottles of one of Mark's favorite local beers?


Then I would toss in one of these bad boys, to solve the water bottle problem:
And of course, an UnderArmour T-Shirt:
Add a gift certificate to a favorite local restaurant (DuClaw, probably) and a family fun pass to the aquarium and call it a day. And to think that this OOT bag experience can be your guest's for only $175!
Okay, so it's a little outrageous - but sometimes it's fun to dream! We will probably use bottled water, but since I would like to make our own labels anyway, I think the best we can do is put on a "please recycle" tag. I think we'll also have to settle for providing coupons for local restaurants and attractions, because we are already serving most of these folks +1 meal. Oh, and using tote bags that cost $1, not $12.
What is in your dream bag?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cakes for the Sunday

Another cake, in addition to my Monday post, via Style Me Pretty:
Simple, edible, looks delicious but clearly fits the nature theme...and for once, I don't think the bird cake toppers look stupid. (I'm sorry, but I seriously don't get why they are so popular. Can somebody explain it to me?)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Charity Friday: Fallen Heroes

Has it really been 8 years? 8 years since terrorist attacks changed the way we think, the way we vote, the way we do business? 8 years since the day somebody came into my Social Studies class and said that somebody bombed the WTC? (BTW, I had no idea what the WTC was at the time.) 8 years since we sat in my high school "law" class and my teacher pulled out the radio/tape player that was in the closet and we all sat, silently, listening to the news being broadcast?
(I have changed the image that was originally here, which was a picture of the towers burning, because I received several comments that it was too graphic and jarring. I chose it because when I saw it, I remembered exactly how I felt on this day 8 years ago, and I genuinely believe that remembering that pain is a good thing, but I have replaced that image with this one out of respect for our readership and my understanding that my emotions are not the same as yours and everyone processes this day differently.)

I think the world changed for everyone that day, but for any of us that lived near New York or D.C., it was particularly difficult. The chances that you knew someone were higher, and the aftermath was all the more devastating. I will never forget the look on my mother's face when she told me that one of my father's former coworkers was on the plane that went into the pentagon. With her family, including her children.

I come from a firefighting/fire protection/fire code family, and my father and my grandfather took the deaths of the firefighters particularly hard, almost personally. Consider that of the victims that day, 411 city firefighters, police and medical personnel died trying to save people they had never met. These are people that saw the buildings burning and ran into the fire to help, because it was their job, their duty, their calling.

It is in the memory of September 11th that I urge you to consider the spirit of the rescue workers as they put their own lives on the line to help others. If you are planning to register for charitable donations, or to support a charity through a registry, or to give a donation in lieu of favors or just to celebrate your marriage, considering giving to your local fire department or rescue squad. Firefighters and rescue workers deserve and need our support. Giving to them now will help guarantee that they can help all of us in times of need in the future. You could announce your donation near the guestbook with a plastic fire helmet and a card explaining your donation, and you could even fill the helmet with these firefighter themed buttermints. I know that September 11th is one of the Saturdays available for weddings next year, and this would be a really nice way to recognize the day.

Feel free to share any stories, memories, or other 9/11 charities in the comments.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

E-Pic Outfit Scouting

So we scheduled our engagement pictures for September 20th. This means that I have 10 days to put together a totally awesome and completely perfect outfit that is flattering, the right color, and will photograph well. Shouldn't I already own said outfit, considering my burgeoning closet? Well, it turns out I do not. I've lost about 6-7 pounds, and most of my shirts are now hanging a little too loosely and looking kind of awkward. So I'm on the prowl...
I need something that is appropriately casual and also figure hugging, and it turns out that boxy shirts are really in style. I think Stacy and Clinton would disagree - I believe I am supposed to pick a shirt that focuses on the narrowest part of my body, from all my WNTW tutelege.
So I could go with something like this from Ann Taylor Loft, which might be kind of flattering, but pink usually makes me look like a strawberry:
I was thinking something more like this number from Overstock (in Lake Blue):

As a more casual option, there is this one from New York and Company, but I think it might be a little too basic (but I could dress it up with a pretty necklace):
Although I think this one is my personal favorite (also New York and Company):
That last one is the most my style - I wear a lot of teal, I usually prefer v-necks, and I think it would be appropriately flattering without it being too tight.
What do you think? Have you seen anything recently in your shopping travels that fits my description of what I need? Please share!

I don't often wish we were having a church wedding

but sometimes:
I think I saw little lanterns like these at Ikea for pretty cheap, and they would be a great thing for couples getting married in the same location to share, or a nice thing to donate to the church after you are done so that others can enjoy using them too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So! Cool!

Montgomery County Parks is having a "Not So Big Wedding Challenge". The object seems to be that a team of 5 wedding service providers comes up with a package deal to offer to couples that includes the reception, food, drinks, flowers, photography, and music at one of the Montgomery County Parks reception sites (Brookside Gardens, etc.). The package prices must stay valid for 6 months after the expo that they are having on November 8th. (Which you should totally go to!)
Oh, did I mention the total cost of the wedding has to be under $15,000? The only catch is that the wedding is for 65 people (including the bride and groom).
This seems like a really great way for couples to get to one-stop-shop and find all of this for a really good price. I'm not sure whether any of the vendors would be open to keeping their rates similar and say, planning a wedding for 100 people for like, $17,000. The only added costs would be food and table linens, and maybe floral arrangements.
If you are planning a wedding for a small group, having vendors fight over who can give you the best wedding for your budget seems like the way to go!

Jewelry Cleaning

We went camping out at Greenbrier State Park for labor day weekend, and I was afraid to take my ring off because I didn't want to lose it, so I wore it for everything. By Saturday night, some of the spaces in between the stones had gotten filled with some kind of weird white soap scum and there was dirt collecting on the back of the stones.
(Though I love my ring, the open spaces are kind of a dirt magnet, it turns out.)
Fortunately, my jeweler gave us some of this when we picked up my ring, so last night, I soaked and swirled and brushed my ring until it was all clean and shiny again. (I'm not sure the stuff is anything more than soap and water, but the little brush was handy and it was free, so I'm not complaining.)
Another alternative is this recipe, but be careful to make sure you are using natural toothpaste, and not any toothpaste with harsh abrasives or chemicals because that could damage the metal and stones. You could also try just using a small, soft toothbrush to keep your ring dirt free.
How do you clean your jewelry? Does anyone have one of those fancy ultrasonic cleaners? Do they work?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Feminist Marriage

I came across this article, and being a sucker for any "feminists don't get married!" type of tripe, I had to read it. And then all of the articles it links to. I found the Jezebel take particularly cathartic.

It made me think though, about this comment from a reader of our blog:
"So yeah, I just found your blog. It was linked a couple times over to a blog which you would despise btw. I'm a conservative law student in a liberal city so I know many, many feminist types. I find it interesting that you are getting married so young - that's pretty rare for liberal Northeasterners. I guess you'll be about 25 or so. Anyway, your husband must be some masochist to marry a hardcore feminist law student (who played ice hockey)!

Oh, I kid...sort of. You seem like a genuinely nice person on your blog. But the feminist complex knows how to recruit, obviously. In your gay marriage post, which was kind of nice btw and made me think, you mention family as being so important. Do you realize that the aim of the feminist movement for decades was the elimination of the family? That's why they supported unfettered abortion, no-fault divorce, draconian child support laws, etc. They want women to be able to kick their husbands, and their kids' fathers, out of the house on a whim - and who cares what's best for the kids. And of course, that IS what is happening. The destruction of the family - 40% illegitimate births, 50% divorce rate, etc. And I can back all of this up.

....

Oh, and even if you stay a feminist, it seems you really love your fiance...so good luck to you both. He'll need it!;)"


I recently passed the 24-year-anniversary of my being a feminist, and frankly, you don't grow up as the shrill feminist in your high school without getting a lot of comments like this. It's how I know I'm doing something right. There are a lot of stupid people out there, and most of them exist in the form of online commentors. I don't really care what this guy thinks of me. Am I getting married young? Yeah, compared to most women with postgraduate degrees, I probably am. Am I a bitter feminist divorce lawyer who supports unfettered abortion and no-fault divorce? You bet I am. Do I cheer the destruction of the American family? No - but I do cheer the destruction of a sexist system of values that leads to women being devalued both at work and at home, which I think is a major contributing factor to divorce rates. I cheer the destruction of proscribed gender roles, but I also cheer the building of equal partnerships and healthy relationships.

That last statement in the comment really did get to me, I'll admit it. And it is connected to these articles. There is this idea that feminists can't love; that feminists don't value life-long partnerships; that feminists don't get married; and that married people can't be independent. I know a lot of married feminists. Many of whom married other feminists. Many of whom have really strong marriages that set an example for the way I want our marriage to be - an equal partnership in which each person works very hard. My grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my sister, and my friends have all shown me that this kind of relationship is possible. That we can all treat our spouses with respect for who they are as people, without losing who we are as people.

Marriage has always been something that I wanted, even before I met the man I'm going to marry, and I have never, for one second, felt that it was unfeminist of me to want it. It would be, perhaps, unfeminist to want it because of somebody telling me that as a woman, I should be married. Or if I felt that marriage was the ultimate end goal of being a lady. Instead, I genuinely believe that marriage is about two people, standing together, facing the world. For a lot of us, it is not an end goal but simply a part of our humanity, of our lives. I believe that people are not meant to go through the world alone, or lonely. I understand that marriage is not necessarily for everyone, but strong relationships do have a place in most people's lives. Some of us have them with our significant others, some have them with very good friends, but very few people are truly happy being completely by themselves.

Despite the fact that Mark and I have each other, neither of us are less independent for it, and I genuinely believe that having Mark in my life makes me more of who I am, as a person and as a feminist, not less. Because he loves me for being myself, he makes me feel unafraid to be myself. I don't have to try to censor myself out of a fear that he won't love me for being who I am. I was told, constantly, by a great many well-educated and well-meaning people, that if I didn't tone down my feminism, I wouldn't have friends, let alone a boyfriend. That if I couldn't just let sexist comments go, I would never find a man who wanted to be around me. That if I played hockey, nobody would be interested in dating me because I would be too aggressive. As I struggled to find myself in a sea of advice about how not to be myself, I found the courage to stop being afraid of who I was, and I found the strength to trust that if I could love myself for who I was, somebody else would too. I was lucky to find that person early, and I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to spend the rest of my life with him.

I may not fit anyone else's idea of what a feminist looks like, from the outside (or as we plan our giant traditional wedding that doesn't feel very feminist sometimes, no matter how hard I try) and I'm guessing most of our readers don't look (or sometimes feel) that feminist either. I'm guessing not all of you call yourselves feminists, but I'm also guessing that out of those of you who don't, not one of you has said, "well, I'm not a feminist because I'm getting married." I'm also guessing not one of you who does identify as a feminist has wondered whether undertaking to exchange marriage vows means you have to turn in your copy of Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and your feminist membership card. (It doesn't.)

How many of you are planning to "stay a feminist" after you're married and simply hope that your husband or wife loves you in spite of it?

Cakes for a Long Day

I thought a little delicious eye candy would be a good way to start the day while we recover from labor day weekend. From the Martha Stewart Weddings 50 Cakes Gallery, the only one I even kind of liked was this one, which just looks like it's mostly rich chocolate icing (the only kind of icing I really like). I like how simple it is, although I think Mark would find it a little sloppy looking (but you could totally just stick your finger in the icing and take a swipe and nobody would notice!):
However, if you're going to go fussy, I say make it pretty but not too pretty to eat.
I am quite the fan of the fancy layer sandwiched in between the two plain layers. It's just enough decoration, not too fancy, and it still looks totally yummy!I've been in love with Mrs. Lemon's cake forever. It's the perfect blend of whimsical Dr. Seuss fun and totally elegant wedding cake.
This cake just knocked Mrs. Lemon's off my "dream cake" pedestal though. It's whimsical, elegant, beautiful and still delicious looking! I think this cake would be just so amazing for a nature center wedding! I love the little details with the tiny animals, the flowers, the plants....swoon. This would even look great with just one layer sandwiched between two plain white layers.
When it comes to cakes, where are your priorities? Do you want an amazing work of art or do you just want deliciousness?