Monday, November 30, 2009

Pushover Bride

So I finally got to win a wedding issue, instead of compromising or giving up. I say finally because well, I'm a bit of a pushover. More so as a bride than anything else - I find that I rarely say no, because I'm so afraid of being deemed a bridezilla that I tend to give up and relent on what I really want.
Wedding planning is mostly about picking your battles and deciding what is worth it, and where you can really let things go. Some people will tell you that it's your day and you shouldn't have to compromise. That is bull. Wedding planning is very similar to other aspects of life.
One battle I picked was long tables. I really really want long tables. I think they help keep things conversational, I think they help make things feel more intimate. It also feels more like Thanksgiving dinner than a corporate banquet. I go to enough corporate events, I don't want our wedding to feel like another charity fundraiser. When you go to a restaurant, you usually sit at long tables and it's fun and it's easy and it's a little different. On the list of things that mattered to me, this was up there.
Another reason to use them is because you can easily dress up plain white fabric with some fantastic table runners and because you can use small centerpieces (or tiny gourds!) spread out down the table and have as much impact as bigger centerpieces. I love the look of the burlap, because even if it's not one of our wedding colors, we could use cranberry thread to tie it in. We could also just do patterned fabric for some variety and fun with color. Or we could do plain colors.
However, life is not without some compromises, no matter what. To get long tables, I was willing to do whatever it took to make Mark more comfortable with the setup. He wanted to have shorter long tables, so they would only be 8 people long. He also wanted to have them more angled. But I'll let him talk about how he got on board with the setup, and the nifty engineering program he used to do it.
What battles have you picked? Did you win them?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For: People that give to charity

Thanksgiving in my house is a two day holiday - right now, there is a raw turkey sitting on the table waiting for my dad to throw it in the oven, and tonight, all of my Dad's family is coming over for our usual "off-day" Thanksgiving. I love this tradition and I don't understand why more people don't embrace the idea of having a family get-together on the Friday, to take the pressure off of having Thanksgiving on a Thursday. If you have a family that is flexible about times, and would rather everybody got together than everybody was there On Thanksgiving Day, consider suggesting the Thanksgiving Friday.

Anyway, since Thanksgiving is continuing, and since today is Friday, I wanted to skip Charity Friday and write, instead, about why I'm thankful for the million nameless, faceless people that donate money to causes they believe in. Because I've worked for a lot of charities, and at the end of the day, we remain absolutely dependent on the kindness of strangers to open their wallets. It is the only way that we can continue to do incredibly powerful work that truly helps people in need.

I am thankful for the students at my school that donated over a thousand pounds of canned food to feed people in need this winter. I am thankful that there exist organizations like Team in Training which exist to encourage ordinary people to reach their goals in extraordinary ways. I am thankful that organizations like Goodwill exist, both because I have bagged up 3 bags of goodwill donations while I am here at home, and also because they serve a dual mission of helping people and providing low cost clothing and household goods. I am thankful for the Red Cross. I am thankful that organizations like UBSPI exist, which is an organization at my school which raises goods and services through an annual silent auction. I am thankful that every day, in every way, there are organizations dedicated to watching over our planet and the people on it.

I could not be more thankful for the people that keep these fantastic organizations going. Between the people that donate an extra dollar when they are at the grocery store and the cashier bugs them at checkout, to the people that donate used clothes to Goodwill, that donate new or used kitchen appliances, that give blood, that make a donation to their friend's Team in Training program and the people that simply open their wallets and write checks, we keep the world going. We make it a cleaner, greener, brighter, better, happier, more hopeful place.

So if you've given to charity lately, please know that on the other end of that donation of goods, services, food, blood, or money, please know that on the other end of that donation is somebody who is as thankful as I am.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hotels - How much does proximity matter?

So we are looking into hotel blocks now, because somebody pointed out to me that our date is extremely popular and we should book our hotel blocks early. Which means making a crucial decision.
Our venue is out in the suburbs, about a 30 minute drive from the heart of Baltimore. We aren't really expecting people who come in from out of town to rent a car. We have a number of people traveling from out of town. (Don't marry a foreigner. This is what happens. If you can, strive to marry somebody with a tiny family and minimal friends, all of whom live within a 10 mile radius of your venue.) We have two options. Well, three, but the third one is cheating.

Option A: Book hotel rooms at a hotel near the venue. This is a good option for people who will come into town on Sunday, go to the wedding, and leave the following morning. It is not a good option for anybody who comes in Friday or Saturday night, and then stays for the full 3-day weekend. Additionally, it would limit us for the rehearsal dinner to a location near the hotel, of which there are limited options.

Option B: Book hotel rooms at a hotel in the city. This is a good option for people who would stay for the full weekend (especially since it isn't race weekend), but not a good option for people who would stay only for the night after the wedding. This also would probably involve providing some kind of shuttle bus, which gets expensive. Additionally, anybody coming by car would have to pay to use the hotel garage.

Option C: Book both. I was totally down with this, but then we went to my cousin's wedding over the weekend. They used the Peabody Court as their hotel, and all wedding-related activities were centered out of the hotel. All the guests were in the same place. Everyone knew where to meet up and where things were going on. Both the pre-wedding cocktail hour and the post-wedding brunch were there. It was nice to have it as a base camp; for weddings with a lot of out-of-town guests that don't often see each other, it's particularly convenient to have them all in one place.

So who do we inconvenience? Do we stick our family members out in the suburbs for a full weekend? Do we go for city-slicker fun so out-of-towners don't have to rent a car to drive into the city and pay to park just to go to the Aquarium or Science Center?

Things Mark is Thankful for

I'll be maintaining my standard ratio of one post for every 4-5 of Ellie's (or is that giving myself too much credit?), and putting down all my expressions of gratitude in this slightly longer post.

I'm thankful to have a decent job (and that almost nobody I know has lost theirs), despite my company going through a pretty slow period this past year. I'm also thankful to have a job that many kids and young engineers dream of, and which makes such a great conversation-starter at parties.

As I pointed out at our first Thanksgiving dinner with Ellie's friends last weekend, I'm thankful that for the first time since 2001, I have gone for more than a year without moving, and I'm thankful that even with our complaints about draftiness, lack of storage space, and the parking scenario, we nevertheless have a good apartment in a great location - one where we're (fortunately) happy to be staying for more than a year.

I'm thankful that my family, both immediate and extended, have all been not only willing but enthusiastic to meet Ellie, to get to know her, and to treat her as part of the family (contrary to FOB's standard joke, in our family that doesn't mean 'like dirt'). My parents and sister (aka Bridesmaid L) are excited to be involved with the wedding, are supportive of our decisions, and all around happy for us.

I'm thankful that Ellie's family is equally accepting of me - particularly Margaret, who could have shown me the door before we had even really started to date but instead learned to live with her little sister showing up to hang out with our mutual friends.

I'm thankful that this blog seems to be going so well, and that it has put us in contact with so many other people who are willing to share their experiences - though that is probably helped by the volume of posts, which, again, I can't really take credit for.

And of course, most of all I'm grateful that I have found a woman who puts up with my occasional ranting, is willing to take on an unfair share of the cooking, and is taking on a slightly more than equal share of the wedding planning and doing an amazing job. She makes me happy to come to her every day and to wake up next to her every morning, and I'm thankful that I have a lot more mornings with her to look forward to.

Things I am Thankful For: My big sister

There are all these things in my life I'm thankful for, which I have been writing about here. And then there is my sister, for whom thankful does not cut it. My sister, my maid of honor, my neighbor, and our biggest cheerleader, even back when we just started dating. Some sisters wouldn't take well to their annoying little sister dating their friend, but my sister took it in stride. My sister, who always told me when I liked somebody who wasn't good enough for me. My sister, who always told me when she hated my boyfriend. My sister, who befriended my ex-boyfriend after he dumped me and then passed along all the juicy gossip about how miserable he was with the girl he dumped me for. (And now I really hope none of them read this.) My sister, who helped me with my homework and with my art projects and tried to help me learn to play the flute. (Some things are a lost cause.) She helped me pick out dresses for dances and do my hair and makeup. There are no words, really, to express how thankful I am for her, but I thought I would post the toast I gave when I was maid-of-honor at her wedding.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I love and worship my big sister. She
has been my family and my best friend, she has always been there for
me, the only one who can make me laugh when I cry, the person I turn
to when I'm in trouble, the person who cheers me on in everything I
do. I have tried to be the same for her. I am so proud to call her
my sister. She is kind, caring, smart, thoughtful, funny, and
incredibly special. She makes the best mashed potatoes in the entire
When Margaret first met somebody who loved her and worshiped her more
than I did, I was upset. I thought I might lose the person who
mattered the most to me. I secretly thought that J. was to be
waited out. Eventually I realized that J. wasn't going anywhere.
Over the past eight years I have come to know J., and I am
genuinely happy to stand up here today and hand over the job of loving
and worshipping my sister to the one person who does it even better
than I do. I know that he will be the one to cheer her up when she is
sad, he will make her feel like she is worth the world to him, because
she is, he will be her family and her best friend, he will support her
in everything she does, he will be everything she wants and everything
she needs, he will stand up to her and he will stand up for her, and
she will do the same for him, and I know that they will do that for
the rest of their lives.
If you would please raise your glasses to my big sister and my brother-in-law."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Things I am Thankful for: my future in laws

When we last went to NJ to visit Mark's family, his mother bestowed us with an engagement gift. They had already given us several engagement gifts, but this one topped them all.
It's a lapquilt, made by my future mother in law and my bridesmaid L. (Mark's sister).

Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted to see it up close? I love the green and the brown and the pattern and oh yeah, it's totally cozy and warm, which is great in our horrendously drafty apartment.
This year, I am thankful to have such wonderful future in-laws, who have welcomed me into their family with open arms and excitedly joined us in this ridiculous planning journey. They are open to our ideas and did not disown me after last Christmas's horrifying display during a game of pictionary of just how sore a loser their future daughter in law is.

Things I'm Thankful For: My Parents

I am reminded at this time of year how much I have to be thankful for, and I always like to take some time to reflect. One of those things is my parents.
My parents, who have been beyond supportive of me, of my decisions, of my life and career choices, and my relationship. My parents, who love Mark and embrace him as a member of the family. My parents, who have generously offered to fund this festive event, and who have done so without inquiry, without strings, without nagging, and without reminders that since I am spending their money, they should have a say. My parents, who have supported me financially and emotionally as I fought my way through high school and college and law school. My parents, who always treated me as if I was worthy of finding somebody that would love me like Mark did, even when I wasn't, and even when I didn't think that highly of myself. My parents can be crazy, and can drive me crazy, but at the end of the day, they mean well and they love us. All families and relationships take communication, respect, and the desire to work hard at maintaining relationships. We often talk about how hard marriage is, but maintaining family ties often takes as much, or more, work, and the parties are usually less willing to work on it. It is a struggle for any family, even a close-knit one, to strike the right balance between being too needy or too critical or too crazy or too pushy or too guilt-trippy. I am thankful that my parents work very hard to make our relationship work, and we strive to do the same.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things I am Thankful for: people who speak truth to power.

This letter came to me via a friend's facebook status about gay marriage. If you have been attempting to reconcile your faith and your feelings about gay marriage, I recommend reading it. If you just want to feel good that there are good people out there who do good things, and not everyone is going to threaten to cut off social services that they provide because they would have to treat people equally, I also recommend reading it.

"As priests and pastors we are speaking out to make clear that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are all members of God’s family, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus and deserving of the same dignity and respect owed any human being. Recognition of the inalienable dignity of the human person is the only path toward justice and reconciliation. We affirm the goodness of all homosexual persons. We root ourselves in the U.S. Bishops’ statement “Always Our Children.” Additionally, we re-affirm the understanding of the goodness of the human person as put forth throughout the papacy of Pope John Paul II. Further, we want to state clearly that ministering to and with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is mutually beneficial, as is all ministerial activity. Pre-judging where any believer’s journey will take them is inappropriate. Walking with them, as we do with our heterosexual brothers and sisters, is the appropriate Christian response.

In the recent past, individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and the Vatican have assumed a tone of such violence and abusiveness toward these sons and daughters of the Church, we can no longer remain silent. Has any other group of people within the Body of Christ been so assaulted and violated by such mean-spirited language? Examples from the most recent Vatican document show all too clearly the demonization of these children of God, referring to homosexuality as a “troubling moral and social phenomenon,” “a serious depravity,” “the spread of the phenomenon,” “approval or legalization of evil,” “grave detriment to the common good,” “harmful to the proper development of human society,” “intrinsically disordered.” Does anyone consider this vile and toxic language invitational?"

Registry vs. Christmas

It's that time of year - the time of year in which my mother wants me to sit down and write a letter to Santa. I say Santa can just look at my Amazon Wishlist, so I had to update mine.

Except I've been using my Amazon Wishlist as a way to keep track of items we'll want to register for. So now I have to go through and move about 40 items to a separate Wishlist, which is fine, except Amazon keeps moving them back. And then there's another issue - what do I want to move, and what do I want Santa to bring me?

Last year, I got kinda sick of waiting to get married and register to get nice things for our kitchen, since I knew we were about 2 years away from marriage. So I put a bunch of nice kitchenware on my Amazon Wishlist which is how we wound up with this and this. (Both are fantastic and I highly recommend.) Right now, we need a few items - our options are to buy tide-me-over versions at Target or Ikea, or to just suffer through what we have. Suffering through is what we have decided on, for the most part. Or at least that was the plan, until last night, when I was making dinner and burned our colander that I use as a steamer. So now, I think this is going to make it's way to my Amazon wishlist (along with a new colander).

All the other things I would normally put on my wish list though, I feel guilty about "poaching" from our potential wedding registry. Which is weird, I think. I really want new juice glasses like these, but I feel like I have to wait so we can register for those. I would like a pizza stone and a new kitchen scale (I may have melted ours). But I can put those on a registry and I can't put a heart rate monitor on there, so I may as well ask for the things I (individually) want for Christmas, right? I guess, but I'm not sure I'll use some of the items of my personal wishlist, but I know I would use the kitchen stuff. Yet I feel the need to save it. But why do we "have" to save everything to pad our registry with? Is it so we don't run out of items on the registry and get things we don't need or want? (Ahem. Crystal Bowl of Doom.) Have other people grappled with this issue?

Monday, November 23, 2009


Recently, I started brewing my own beer with a few friends; so far (two batches) it's been successful, which begs the question - what are we going to call our wedding beer, and how soon do we need to start brewing to give it out as favors?

If we make wedding beer, I think we'll do it pretty early - four weeks is the minimum for the beer to be ready , but we'd probably want to have it finished earlier to leave time to focus on other things, even though the only time where it actually needs attention will be the first day and two weeks later. A typical batch is 5 gallons, which makes 48 bottles; so, for our planning number of 130 guests, we'd need three batches (okay, probably just two since not everyone drinks beer, but I wanted some extra for myself anyway). Fortunately, among my friends, I think we already own three fermenting buckets, so we could have all the beer going at the same time - but it would be a much longer brew day than our typical 3-4 hours.

The expense isn't too bad either, since my batches so far have worked out close to $1/bottle for ingredients; I don't imagine we'd brew something that involves any particularly pricey or exotic ingredients. We would need to buy more bottles for the wedding ($0.60 each). They'd also need labels, which Ellie is excited about designing, but they do add to the cost - $1 apiece if we order them from, the first site I found in my Googling. So, aside from the goodwill of the friends who I'd be asking to provide equipment and to help with the brewing, bottling, and labeling, we're looking at $2.60 per bottle, about $400 for 150. If we just use large square labels that Ellie has in stock, they drop to $1.75/bottle (adding a few cents for ink, without going through the exercise of calculating the cost of a cartrige) or $260 for the batch.

Oh yeah, and picking a style? I'm already tired of making decisions for this wedding! I can't choose a beer (or even two, probably) that will be agreeable to the domestic macrobrew drinkers and the beer-lovers (who are admittedly in the minority, but whose tastes I am more interested in catering to)!

Alternatively, we could just serve the beer at the wedding. Then, we could reuse the bottles we already own, maybe buying one or two extra cases since some of our bottles have walked, and try to have the bartenders hold onto them; there wouldn't be much need to label them (maybe just one labeled bottle on the bar so people see what's on offer and Ellie gets to do the design). Now we're looking at close to $1/bottle, and we could make two or three batches and supplement with purchased beer.

I think for now the idea of favors is being retired, but if we did decide to do it, I'm at least comfortable that it wouldn't be prohibitively expensive or such a huge hassle that it couldn't be done. Serving our own beer, on the other hand, seems pretty straightforward as long as the caterers don't mind, and could be a lot of fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Mossy Centerpieces

I mentioned to my FMIL the idea I found for moss centerpieces last weekend when we were home, and she really liked it. So I'm on the hunt for some more mosspiration.
I found these via lifehacker this morning, and although we were planning to use fake moss, live moss would be great! (Fake moss is apparently kinda expensive.) I also love the way the rock looks in the glass jar on top of the moss. There is something so simple and so natural about it. I think we will be using one tall vase with a candle in it (and maybe some moss on the bottom), and then the shorter jars will have moss and rocks, and the tiny vases will have votive candles in them.

Greasing the Wheels

I've talked about BodyGlide before, and probably will again. But seriously guys, it's the greatest thing ever. One other wedding related use, besides preventing blisters and chafing? Greasing your fingers. This sounds ridiculous, but ask any person with big knuckles - it's tough to get a ring on.
Minutes before my sister's wedding, she looked at me in horror.
"I haven't greased my finger!" She said. I knew what she meant - my sister has large knuckles and ridiculously tiny fingers. (Which are the same size as mine.) She was worried that her husband wouldn't be able to get her ring on. I immediately applied some body glide and then we were good to go.
Further, people get nervous at weddings. They sweat and get hot and their fingers swell. So even if the ring fit perfectly before, you might want to grease up. You can also use lotion or petroleum jelly, but those tend to stain and Bodyglide does not.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When did people start making their own napkins?

Sure, it would probably be simple enough - especially with my serger - but seriously? What's with the DIY napkin trend?
Am I the only person who, if it saved some serious cash, would rather just use the fancy disposable dinner napkins (these or you know, the white ones with the seashells that you buy in the grocery store - tell me what the problem is with that) than spend time before the wedding sewing my own napkins?
I mean, don't get me wrong, if I can find a die or something, I'll totally make these napkin rings or if they look a little too blah, maybe tie a nice ribbon around the napkin, and hopefully we'll be dressing up the tables with runners anyway...whatever they are napkins. They go on laps. Yes, my cousin's tables looked super cool at their wedding with their awesome striped napkins, but the food would have been delicious and I would have had a great time anyway.
Plus, this is not an equal opportunity DIY project for most couples - and definitely for us - Mark can't sew (well, buttons) and would give way too much opportunity to obsess. Sure, you can make a quilt out of it, but guess what? You can make a quilt out of plenty of other stuff that doesn't necessarily involve going insane.
Is anyone making their own napkins?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You bring out the best in me.

Any other 7th Heaven watchers out there? And by "watchers" I mean it used to be on ABC family after Gilmore Girls and Bridesmaid S. and I would watch it while we cooked dinner and we would complain about how pushy the Mom is, how sachharine the show is, and how crazy Lucy was for wanting to get engaged. (1.5 years later, I found myself turning into Lucy Camden, but that is neither here nor there.)

Anyway, one thing on the show is that all the Camden men have their rings engraved with "You bring out the best in me." I genuinely feel that partners bring out the best in each other. We make each other want to be more, not just for ourselves, but for the other person. Remember in As Good As It Gets when Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt that she makes him want to be a better person? That is what love can do. In Little Women, when Laurie confesses his love for Jo, he tells her that all of the positive changes in his lifestyle he has made, he has made because she, and her family, make him want to do and be everything they expect of her. People say that you shouldn't marry a man expecting to be able to change him. And of course that is true. You shouldn't marry anyone expecting them to change. But people do change for each other - not that we change our personalities, of course, but we change our habits, our styles, our desires.

Mark and I struggle regularly with the burden of busy lifestyles and careers and the burden of cooking and housekeeping. That I am messy and he is clean has been the single biggest source of tension in our relationship. (My student status and the fact I have more time to cook and clean and don't is another source.) He had hoped that in living together, I would become cleaner, but in fact, the opposite has happened. So we have been making more of an effort lately to do better at housekeeping and cooking.

Any effort, when made by one person, pushes the other person to make their own effort. For example, this morning, Mark cleaned the bathroom, including the sink, which is, not to be gross, or overshare, usually not that clean. And it makes me crazy, but the sink is frustrating to clean because one of us (I won't say which one) likes to leave her toiletry items out everywhere instead of putting them away. So this morning, when I saw that Mark had cleaned the sink, I immediately felt grateful that he had taken care of it and now our sink is all shiny.

I felt, in fact, so grateful that I decided to do something nice in return. Mark had been complaining about a pile of my stuff in the kitchen, so I tackled that. And I cleared the counter some and put things away and then I even made the bed. (I got so frenzied with cleaning I actually missed the bus, but that is besides the point.) I am optimistic that my cleaning the kitchen will lead to some dish doing, and in turn I just might clear off my side of the bedroom floor. (And by side, I mean the 75% of it that I use as a dresser.)

I truly believe that this back and forth, even if it sometimes comes in bursts like this, is important for the upkeep of a relationship. It is how we remind ourselves of the promises we have made to ourselves and each other to do better for each other. These actions, versus the occasional nagging fights, are how we bring out the best in each other. Nagging fights only make both of us angry. Making an effort because you know it makes your partner happy? Makes both of us happy. I'm not entirely sure how I did not realize this before, but as we work together in our partnerships, we learn stuff.

This realization is only made more compelling by the survey I took on marriage. It was excellent food for thought and you should all go take it!


So we haven't really talked ceremony yet, but I'm not a big Bible girl. In fact, I'm a pretty big anti-Bible girl when you get down to it. But it's important to some people and I think if we did have a Bible verse in the wedding it would be this one:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart

The only thing I don't get is the last part about the cord of three stands. Is that reference to God? Other than not getting that, I like this passage. Especially the part about keeping warm, since in our 1825 apartment, we frequently get into bed and then cuddle up for warmth, all the while telling the other person to keep their freezing cold feet away. (I have bad circulation, okay?) I feel like adding in a bible passage will acknowledge both Mark's Christian upbringing and my Catholic/Protestant roots. And what are weddings, if not an opportunity to acknowledge our past and consider how it carries us forward?
I'm not sure who would read this - whether we would have a friend do it, or whoever performs our ceremony, or have a family member, but ceremony design is the kind of thing we tend to ignore until we have to make the programs.

Are you including bible passages or other religious texts?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Cards

I know, it's November and nobody wants to think about Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other late December holiday. However, this morning I did something I have been meaning to do - I sat down and ordered prints of our engagement pictures. This is not so we can give our loved ones framed photos of us for their mantle, but instead so we can send prints to family members to replace older pictures on their fridge.
Right now there are a couple great promotions going on with photo companies. Kodak is doing a free $15 gift as part of their Million Thanks Giveaway, which I think can be used on anything. Snapfish, my usual go-to photography purchase site, is doing 100 free prints with any purchase today using code Free5. (I'm not sure whether the purchase has to be another item or what. But if you do need to purchase another item, consider doing a photobook to use as a guestbook, or little mini-flip books to serve as your table numbers. Or a mug. Because who doesn't want a mug with your face on it?)
Mark isn't down yet with sending the traditional photo-holiday card, but I make and mail my own cards at Christmas, so I just slip a print in with them. Sometimes I have to trim them down, because my envelopes are smaller than 4x6.
Another thing you could consider is just sending your save-the-dates out as part of your holiday cards - we all go so fancy on the DIY STD route, but you can really do this very simply. Start by downloading Inkscape. (You can use Gimp, but I find text editing in Gimp to be laborious.) Then open the picture you want to use. Click on the little A icon in the left hand toolbar and add a text box. Type whatever you want in the textbox, then go to Font and pick a font. Then pick a color (depending on the picture, white might work best.) Then click the arrow button and move the textbox around until it is somewhere you might like. You can also make the textbox bigger or smaller and the font size will adjust accordingly. If you want to center your text somewhere on the page, go to "Object" and "Align and Distribute". You can then make the text line up with itself, with the page, etc.
And then, five minutes later, you have your save the date!
(Image by Janice Genger Photography)
At $.09, I think it's probably the cheapest thing other than an email. (And remember - today, it's free, so it will probably cost you $3-4 in shipping.) Just slip them in the envelope with the holiday cards for your friends to stick on their fridge or mantle, etc. It's bigger than a magnet, so your family gets a nice picture of you. They can even use all their old magnet STDs to hold this one up :-p.
Disclaimer: I've never tried to print anything that I've added text to. Does anyone know whether it would be a problem?

The Going-Out Purse

I go to a lot of weddings. Most people that get married go to a lot of weddings around the same time as their wedding. We also now go to a number of swanky lawyerly events and charitable events and company Christmas parties and every once in awhile we get dressed up and go out to dinner. So when I started law school, and we had to go to the first in our series of weddings and events, I hit upon the Best Idea Ever. I mean, this may even beat out my stretchable zipper invention. It's the going-out purse.
I bought a silver purse - which has turned out to be an extremely universal color - about 10x5 inches, with a flip top and magnetic clasp and zippable inner compartment - and filled it with all the evening-out essentials. I have a sewing kit, bobby pins, a comb, shout wipes, band aids, safety pins, blister band aids, tiny container of Body Glide, spare lipstick, double-sided tape, nail file, spare earrings and a necklace, etc. all in there just waiting in case of an emergency. When we go to go out, I just grab my going out purse and toss in my wallet, cell phone, and keys. I don't forget anything that I might need, and I always have everything I forgot I would want. I think I may add some of those Wisp toothbrush things as well, because those would be good to have. I don't really need any of the stuff in the purse the rest of the time, because I keep all of that in my medicine cabinet as well, so it works great.
I know a lot of people like to give their bridesmaids clutches that go with their dresses as gifts, and if you do, consider filling it with "going out purse" items. I know people like to throw in the Miss Oops kits or Foot Petals, which are great Going Out Purse items, but consider the more standard items - bandaids and sewing kits (just start stealing them from hotels - your maids won't mind!) and of course Body Glide. (If you are blister prone, you have got to try it.) It's also one of those great things where, since I always have everything, I rarely actually need the items in the purse.
Do you have a going out purse?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Engaged Couples Survey

A researcher at the University of Virginia is looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples. The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you. I just participated in the survey, and the survey itself is fascinating and the results are going to be extremely interesting, so as many people as can should totally take it.

You can:
-Help a doctoral candidate;
-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;
-Support research on marriage and families; and
-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

She is working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at She will send you a link that you can use to access the study.

The more marriage research is out there, the more we will know and understand about marriage! This research benefits all of us, so go take the survey!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

They make tailors for SHOES?

So I write about my foot problems a lot here. My freakishly narrow feet that are too big for my height. My blister prone skin. And of course my podiatry related issues that result in my not being able to wear heels that are more than 2 inches high.
Recently I decided that I needed to get a nicer pair of podiatrist approved black shoes for evening functions. I was willing to spend more than my usual $30 on them, but they had to fit perfectly. I wanted a wedge, so I had enough support, a comfortable footbed, and a narrowish heel so they didn't feel too clunky.
Where is the picky footshonista to go to search for such a shoe? My go-to is the Nordstrom Rack, because they sell my favorite brands, Sofft and Clarks, as well as some other brands (like the Cole Haan Nike Air shoes). Pickings were slim, since I had missed most of the late summer sales and also I have a very average foot size for shopping bargains. But then, there, on the freak-foot-size rack, were the perfect shoes!

(I have pretty sweet dance moves.)
They are a 3 inch wedge, but they didn't bother my feet at all. The only problem was...they didn't fit perfectly. They were a 9 narrow, and they were just a touch too narrow. Though my feet are narrow, its my heel and arch area that is narrow - the base of my foot is pretty standard. Also, despite the shoe being a narrow, the ankle strap was severely lacking in enough holes. I was all set to put them back on the shelf, but then I flashed back to a conversation between my co-workers over the summer. They had been talking about getting shoes...stretched. I could get these stretched! And while I was at it, I could get more holes punched in them.
They were $32 (purchased and returned, possibly because of the not-enough-holes-in-the-strap problem), down from around $110. A quick trip to my local cobbler (yes, it turns out that Federal Hill, despite not having a Starbucks, grocery store, or movie theater actually has more than one cobbler. I went to the closest one.) yielded shoes that fit me perfectly, for only an extra $10. I wore the shoes all night and they only just barely started to give my blisters at the end of the night - although in the interest of full disclosure, I do wear bodyglide anytime I wear fancy shoes.
I don't think that stretching or shoe alterations are necessarily the perfect solution to every slightly ill-fitting pair of shoes, but they certainly could be, and now that I know about it as an option, I can be a little more open minded about wedding shoes instead of laboriously hunting for the perfect-fitting cute pair.

Non-diamond rings.

So, I my ring. Really. It's amazing. Mark did such a good job. But last night I was talking with some friends from high school and two of them mentioned that they didn't really want diamond rings. I sighed and said that I also did not want a diamond. I often refer to my ring as the "compromise ring".
I wanted an amazing, unique ring. I also wanted a colored stone. This was my favorite for a long time.
And these from Green Lake Jewelry (where I showed Mark most of the rings that inspired mine):

Anyway, my ring is the compromise ring because ultimately, Mark wasn't comfortable giving me something that wasn't a diamond, and I wanted him to be happy, so we agreed to use the stone that my aunt promised me at 16. He wanted me to be happy, which is why we didn't just get the stone reset. I'm really happy with the way my ring turned out, but every once in awhile, my ultrahip friends or other bloggers with their even-cooler rings make me feel a little jealous. Then I look back down at my hand, tilt my finger slightly, watch it sparkle, and remember that I love. love. love. my ring.
Do you ever have ring regret?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Current Events

I've spent most of today at the FILs, catching up on a backlog of news items and homework. I'm not sure how I've thus far missed all of this, but I'm trying to wrap my head around the whole Catholic Church objects to gay marriage in DC by proposing to pull funding from social services.
Catholic Charities provides social services to about 1/3rd of the D.C. homeless population. I used to work in housing and homelessness issues - during a booming economy, and I can assure you that, even back then, there were not enough social services in D.C. to meet the needs of its citizens.
As a future lawyer, I am trying to uncover more about this situation before deciding the Church is so far out of line that the line is a dot. I found this article by the Catholic News Agency which more fully explains the Church's problems with the law. This article somewhat addressed the allegation that the Church made about having to allow gay couples to use their facilities. As long as the facilities are open to the public, they would be required to let gay people (as well as Jews, Protestants, and racial or ethnic minorities, I believe) use them. I don't have a problem with this law, but that's because I'm a bleeding heart liberal hippie. I just generally feel that if a space is open to the public, it should be open to the public. (I wrestled with this over a venue I didn't think would allow for gay marriage on their property, although I never verified that.)
Does anyone else know anything more about what is going on with this? I know we have several lawyer readers - any thoughts on this and the first amendment, etc? I'm open to arguments from all sides and I'm willing to believe that there is in fact a narrower way to draw this bill that might make the Church more comfortable, but I haven't seen wording for any of the proposed bills.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charity Friday: I Do and Just Give join forces

I've talked about charitable registries in the past, and the I Do foundation. We hope to register through the I Do foundation, because it is a great way to combine charitable giving and gift giving. This morning I got an email from I Do announcing their merger with This will give the I Do Foundation more tech savvy and more experience, and will hopefully help people become more aware of what they offer. Plus, you can now give charity gift cards and this will connect people to more charities.
The site will be redesigned in February, and I'm looking forward to covering this more then.

Have you done or thought about doing a charity registry? Are you more likely to do a registry where a percentage of the profits go to charity, but you can still register for gifts?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fake Cake Decor

So a friend is making our cake. Mark will talk more about this eventually, since it's his friend. She's just getting into cake making, and isn't a professional baker (she is a professional chef). Since I want to have an ice cream bar (although it's looking like that idea is getting nixed...::sob::) anyway, I don't care that much about the cake.
But I'm so madly in love with the last cake I wrote about here that now, whenever I picture our cake, I picture that cake. Dangerous, I know. But it's not terribly elaborate, and I'd be fine with just one layer with the cutesy whimsical decorations. But I don't want to seem like a bridezilla and I don't want to seem too demanding and this is one of those things where you can be demanding of somebody you pay, but you can't as much with somebody you don't. Also, a cook is not necessarily an artist. So I started thinking about stencils and cake airbrushing or painting, and put it in the back of my mind to look into sometime next April.
So when this crossed my Google Reader recently, I immediately jumped on it. I think one of these paper cutouts around the middle of a 3-tiered chocolate cake would look so cute, but not too cute to eat!
I'm not sure if this would be a DIY or DISE project - I could probably make some kind of etsy alchemy request for it, but I have no idea how much to suggest paying. Is this a $10 item or a $75 item? What to make it out of, because the oils and fats from the cake will bleed right through regular paper if it has to sit on it for 4 hours before we cut the cake. Maybe if it was laminated?
Any ideas?

New Poll!

Please click over to the blog to vote in our new poll - we are trying to purchase our own domain name, but unfortunately is unavailable. We've come up with some alternate domain names, but we're not sure what the best choice is. Please help us out! The poll will close on Sunday morning, because we would like to purchase our domain name and get going on the site redesign sooner rather than later.
If you have other suggestions, please let us know what they are!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Super-Quick DIY Chalkboard

Last Tuesday, I got an email from my cousin-in-law-to-be, saying their photographer had offered to set up a last minute photobooth and could some of us give her a hand finding props? I went out to the party store and bought out what was left of their Halloween stock, and then I went to find the thing most necessary for a photobooth: a chalkboard. (I had heard that whiteboards tended to reflect the flash more.)
Chalkboards, it seems, are very difficult to find these days. Apparently everyone uses whiteboards and smartboards. So I figured I would do the next best thing - make a chalkboard, using chalkboard spray paint.
I went to Michaels (they had tiny "slate"-style chalkboards there, but I'm pretty sure they were meant for painting words on permanently, since they resisted chalk) and picked up a pretty shaped piece of wood (although plywood would have been fine too, I was just at Michaels) and a canister of chalkboard paint. I did end up sanding the edges of this piece of wood, just to avoid splinters.
So I put the piece of wood on a dropcloth, and just started spraying. I wound up doing about 4 coats, just because I was afraid the paint would get wiped off. It was a good size, and a very quick project. I would say aside from my trip to Michaels, I invested about 10 minutes in this project, and 5 of that was finding the sandpaper.
Total cost? $7 - the wood was very cheap, about $3, and the paint was about $7 but I had a 40% coupon so my total cost was $7.
I think it would be really fun to do shapes with pieces of wood, like in the shape of thought bubbles, and then paint them with the chalboard paint, but they also might be awkward to hold up.


So, I'm pretty sure we won't be having kids in the wedding. This decision was mostly made when the mom of a potential flower-girl mentioned that she liked going to weddings without having to worry about taking care of her kids. And I can't help feeling like whether you have to bring your child to a wedding isn't a decision that we should get to make for you. So children are welcome, but so are childfree adult nights out. But if we were having a ringbearer, how cute would this pillow and matching tie set be? (I assume we would purchase additional matching ties for all of the groomsmen.) Etsy Seller MeandMatilda has plenty more where these came from (including a gorgeous Damask set.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That Time of Year

When New Years rolls around this year (and apparently that's sooner than it feels like), Ellie and I will have been cohabitating for 31 months. That doesn't mean very much in and of itself, but it has some indirect significance; it will mark the third year where we have spent the holidays together (well, Christmas). Now, it isn't like we moved in together and declared that, from now on, that was the way things were going to be, but I guess it's when we started taking ourselves more seriously as a couple, and it sort of came naturally. We just worked out a tentative holiday schedule for this year, and it was quite the tense conversation.

Unfortunately, with Ellie's family here in Maryland and mine up in New Jersey, holidays aren't a simple thing to manage. She grew up close with her grandparents - on both sides - and her father's family has developed a great tradition: they celebrate with their in-laws (that is, her mother's family, in her case) on the holiday itself, and get together with each other on an alternate date - the Friday after Thanksgiving, or the weekend before Christmas. This works very well across one generation, but less well when there's a second generation with their own in-laws involved.

Two years ago, we spent Thanksgiving Day apart, but Thanksgiving Friday together. At Christmas, we spent Sunday evening with Ellie's father's family, drove up to NJ for Christmas Eve and most of Christmas Day (Tuesday), then drove back down for Christmas dinner with her grandmother. This mostly worked out well (except that Ellie found herself missing her family, particularly during the church service, and we had to rush early dinner with my family to arrive late at dinner with her family).

Last year, we stayed in Maryland for Thanksgiving, but had my parents down for an early dinner at our apartment (which, all things considered, went rather well, I thought) and then sent them on their way and dashed over to dessert with Ellie's family, followed by Friday Thanksgiving with her other side. We spent Christmas Eve and morning with her family, swung by the family dinner for cooking and appetizers, and ate sandwiches on our way up to NJ for the remainder of the weekend. This might have worked if my mom hadn't been working the next morning and so couldn't just bump the entire Christmas festivities back by 24 hours.

So far, we've managed to miss half of nearly every holiday meal with Ellie's grandmother, but at least had a chance to see everyone on or close to each holiday. This year Ellie said she was determined to avoid "crippling" her dinners, so we're doing it divorce-style and splitting holidays. We're spending Thanksgiving in Maryland (possibly inviting my parents down at some point over the weekend) and Christmas in New Jersey. This actually makes a ton of sense, since we'll be seeing my family not too long before Thanksgiving anyway, and we had already planned to fly out of Newark the day after Christmas for our dive trip with E's family. We'll see how it works...maybe the third time really is the charm and this will be the model we use going forward. Of course, we'll have to hammer out a whole new solution if/when my sister gets married.

How do those of you with geographically diverse families handle holidays? Do you expect any changes once you're married, or is it only when you have kids that you really start to be able to call the shots? Or, if your families are close by, do you get them all together or do you party-hop?

Monday, November 9, 2009

If you are still venue hunting...

when you get married at the zoo, a penguin comes to your wedding:
Although, in all fairness, the penguin did try to bite me.
But it didn't hurt very much, and I was able to drown my sorrows in many kinds of delicious cheese.
Oh, and I can't forget the awesome March Hare or whatever it's real name was.
The bunny is on the left. My dad is on the right. It was a darn good time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Heart on your sleeve...

So I was reading So You're EnGAYged the other day and I saw these! Temporary marriage equality tattoos.
Apparently there exists tattoo paper that you can print on! These could make really fun favors, or just be a neat way of honoring marriage equality during your ceremony. You could put them in a basket with a note explaining why marriage equality is important to you.
And, if you are the bride...well, can you think of a cooler something blue than a marriage equality tattoo peeking out from the back of your dress, or on your ankle so when you take the obligatory "lift up the skirt and show the shoes" picture, the tattoo peaks out?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Charity Friday: Dress for Good

I was perusing the BravoBride website, not at all because I'm rethinking my dress......anyway, one thing I noticed is that a percentage of their upgraded listing fee goes to support Go Red For Women.
Since a key to having a long and happy marriage starts with living a long and happy life, let's talk about heart disease for just a sec here.
Most women worry about breast cancer. You are almost 6 times more likely to have some kind of heart disease than breast cancer. Or most other kinds of cancer. So check out the Go Red For Women website and maybe the American Heart Association too.

Charity Friday: Salving your post-election depression

Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment to all. Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights. Granting same-sex couples all of the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, except the right to call their “ ‘officially recognized, and protected family relationship’ ” a marriage, still denies them equal treatment. - Moreno's dissent on the Prop 8 Decision.

This week, voters in Maine did what voters in 30 other states have done in the past few years. They voted to keep marriage heterosexist. A lot of people have referred to it as heartbreaking, or unbelievable. I find it discouraging, but unsurprising. Not because people in Maine are particularly conservative or because the good people of Maine are a bunch of gay-fearing, narrowminded bigots. But because I did not think that the good people of Maine are remarkably more progressive or less narrowminded than the good people of California, and the problem with any kind of referendum like this is that it is going to be inherently difficult for any minority group to win out. It took women so long to get the vote because they had to find enough men who supported them to give it to them. It will be the same for gay marriage - until there are enough gay allies to really make their voices heard, this kind of heartbreak is going to keep happening.

In reading about Maine, I found this article. And a paragraph I found deeply disturbing. "Voters now understand that legalizing gay marriage would force private citizens and institutions to accept situations they find morally offensive. Citizens could be sued for housing discrimination if they refuse to sell or rent to gay couples. Business owners, including churches, could be forced to hire someone who may advocate a pro-gay lifestyle. Voters aren't buying promises that exemptions in the law for religious beliefs will fully protect them."
The reason I find this disturbing is because I was a history major in college, and took several courses which focused on the civil rights movement. And these were the arguments made against desegregation. That if we de-segregated, that if we had anti-discrimination laws, then landlords would have to rent out their houses to black people! They would have to hire black people! So when this argument is translated to gay rights, I don't buy it. This country is founded on the fundamental idea that everyone is entitled to certain inalienable rights. It is, as Sam Seaborn, my very favorite imaginary politician speechwriter would say, "an idea that has lit the world for two centuries." It is an idea that has changed and progressed over time, but ultimately, we have the ability, as Americans, to make sure that we are all entitled to the equal protection of our laws. So it is up to us to change minds and hearts so we can change laws.

So how can you increase the number of allies for gay rights? Start by talking. In conversation, don't be afraid to bring up how disappointing it is that you can get married but your gay sibling can't. Don't be afraid to ask somebody why they are opposed to same-sex marriage. Don't be afraid to talk about what is so important about marriage and why it's so awful that other people do not get the legal protections that marriage offers. Minds get changed through thoughtful discussions all the time. Don't ever assume that somebody won't come around.

Then put your money where your mouth is. Celebrate your marriage by giving a donation to a gay-rights or gay-marriage organization. Lambda Legal, Equality Maryland, GLAD, or any other organization. (Please share in the comments!) Or register with one. Or get married in a state that supports gay marriage, as readers Heather and MJ are, so the money from your marriage license goes to support a state that supports equality. (As a gay friend of mine said recently about the decision in Iowa, "man, I've always wanted to get married in a cornfield and now I can...") Put a white knot or a Stinkerpants badge on your blog to raise awareness. (Why don't we have one? We are currently redesigning the format of the blog.)

Do you have more ideas? Please share in the comments!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I know I've been hating on the bird cake toppers....

But oh man, these are too cute. Red Light Studio's adorable custom cake toppers were featured in today's Etsy Finds email and I kinda love them. I would totally have gotten my sister a set of these penguins:
And I am such a sucker for that little hair flower and the painted on flowers....
Oh, and the people are pretty adorable too:


I loved this post about bridesmaids.
I just finished asking all my girls and we did our first bridesmaid activity last week, which was pretty fun, and it made me really glad about picking them. But here's the thing - I love my girls, but they have issues. They have financial obligations more important than buying an ugly dress for my wedding. They have social lives and one of them works 3 jobs and one commutes an hour to work and from work and lives more than an hour away from me now. Plus Mark's sister lives in New Jersey. There are also body image issues, boyfriend issues, social issues, shoe issues, etc. for all four of them. But I think knowing what I know going into the process is going to help.
I know that shower planning will be tricky. I know the bachelorette party will have to be cheap. I know that I cannot pick one dress that will fit all of them, or that costs $400. I know I can't demand they all get their hair done at the same expensive salon. I know I have to schedule any events at least 2 months in advance. I know that some drama might come up, somewhere along the way. Especially if they read the blog, and this post and get offended...
My expectations may be wrong - being in the wedding could turn my girls into melodramatic bitches. Or I could turn into a bridezilla and be all demanding. I could be really hurt when one of them can't come to my bachelorette party or bridal shower because of scheduling, financial, or other concerns.
I could have avoided the drama and the issues. I could have just my sister and Mark's sister, who are both similar sizes and have some measure of financial security, and whose schedules I feel like I can be more controlling of, because they are family. But at the end of the day, I cannot imagine my life without these girls, and therefore I cannot imagine getting married without them there to help me and support me. I hope that I can remember that somewhere down the line when issues come up, and for right now, I'm just super-excited to have them by my side.
What are your concerns with your bridal party?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Engagement Party - Pinata fun!

I got a little bridezilla about the engagement party. In that I asked for, nay, demanded, a pinata. And I'm really glad I did.
Bridesmaid S. brought him, and his name was Luis. My dad and I hung him up, and then some of us took turns.
All photos by Mark's Best Man, Chris, and aren't they fantastic? (Sorry, he's a robot designer/mechanical engineer, not a professional photographer.)
I took the first swing. (And isn't my sister gorgeous?)
Mark was next.

We even got my grandmothers to take a swing!
For the casual picnic or engagement party, I highly recommend the pinata! (As does Meg.) It was a little chilly, and had a slightly awkward beginning, but so worth it!

Engagement Party - Food

I love food. I do. I'm not a foodie. But I really like food. I like cooking and eating and spices and flavors. I actually wasn't always like this. My tastes have changed radically in the last six or seven years, and a lot of it is because of Mark. If it weren't for him, I would never have been introduced to the wonder that is fresh garlic, or tofu, or beans, or fresh herbs. I would still be living entirely off of veggie burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pasta.
When it came to serving food at our engagement party, we turned to a number of local and national chain eateries. Originally, we were on course for a California Tortilla taco bar. But my grandmother was throwing this party and she does not like Mexican food.
We wanted the party to be chill, and fun, and pretty casual. While I was on vacation with my sister and brother-in-law, my BIL mentioned that they wanted to have Red Hot & Blue cater their rehearsal dinner. After we got home, we looked into catering from Red Hot & Blue and decided it would be perfect.
The food was amazing and the service was definitely above and beyond what we expected. The servers came, set up the buffet, and explained to everybody what the food was. They were extremely nice and by my second trip, knew I was heading for the mac & cheese. Which was delicious. Order extra mac & cheese for this kind of thing, because no matter how much meat you throw at people, they will always eat my food! Also, the mashed potatoes were fantastic.
I got a lot of reaction, since Red Hot & Blue had been mostly my idea, because it seems like an odd choice for a vegetarian. I can't explain why I was okay with it and not really okay with having a lot of meat at our wedding, except that finding a reasonably priced place to cater a vegetarian party without having Mexican food was much more difficult than serving vegetarian food at our wedding.
At the end of the day, they left us with plenty of leftovers, and we passed them out to departing guests - the venue provided saran-wrap, and so everybody took a plate or two of leftovers with them. We got the leftover barbecue sauce, mac&cheese, and a whole lotta meat.
I highly recommend both Brookeville Academy and Red Hot & Blue as vendors - everyone was great to work with, and if you are looking for a great space to have a party for 75-80 people with fantastic food, they are great options.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Engagement Party: Setup

I've held off on writing much about our engagement party. It's very difficult to do, because it was all so overwhelming. We spent the morning doing this:
(That's my man, finishing his 5.7 mile leg in 45 minutes.)
(I took 63 minutes to finish my 6 mile leg.)
So finally, we finished the race and headed home to shower and get ready. But since we were waiting for the rest of our teams to finish, we headed out to the finish line. Which was a mess, and a disaster, and they didn't even have the right medals. Plus, it was rainy and cold. So finally we went back to our place and Mark and his folks went to take the light rail to the parking lot where his parents parked and I waited for my friends to shower and get ready for the party.
Then I headed out, with a car full of set-up items, to meet my family and bridesmaids out at Brookeville Academy in Olney.
I had asked bridesmaid S. to come early and to bring balloons to mark the front door. She took it one step further and made us balloon centerpieces, which were too cute. The place looked amazing.
So when I came in, balloons were up and looking fantastic, my sister was running around trying to get things set up (did I mention she also ran the relay and kicked ass?) and Mark and his family were setting up the beer and drinks.
The one thing my sister had told me about having the party at a place like Brookeville and not at a restaurant was that she did NOT want to be the person going out to buy extra ice. I promised her 11 times she would not have to go buy ice. Then, when we placed the order with the catering company, I told my dad to make sure he ordered at least 8 bags of ice. The catering people promised to bring extra ice.
You can guess where this is going, right? We didn't have enough ice. My dad went out to buy more, because we had to fill this massive cooler:
Somewhere around here the wheels really started to come off the wagon for me. My mother was asking me what I wanted to do about fitting another table in the room. I didn't know. I didn't care. I had been told that somebody else would deal with this stuff. And they were asking me. Not Mark, me. Suddenly it all felt like a lot of responsibility to make sure this party happened. I started sniping at my mom and acting incredibly childish, just because I was so overwhelmed. My sister was busy setting up a surprise in the other room and she wouldn't let me see it. But my mom kept saying "what do you want to do with X" and I didn't know what X was so I would just snap at her that I wasn't allowed in the back.
Bridesmaid S. helped calm me down and keep me sane and was overall amazing. Eventually my sister was ready and hauled me into the back room to see this:
She had printed out pictures of us from the last 6 years and attached them to cardstock (in our wedding colors!) and set them up by our save-the-dates and "guestbook" (aka how we got everyone's addresses - sneaky!)
Oh, and did I mention these?
Yes, M&Ms with our faces on them. Which were delicious. And a little creepy. But still totally awesome. As soon as I saw these, my heart totally melted and I realized how bitchy and completely unreasonable I was being. I relaxed and smiled and hugged my sister and helped put the little dishes of m&ms on the tables by the balloon centerpieces. I also ate a lot of m&ms. Which helped too. Then we finished setting up. I made spiked lemonade to go in a big jar, and put out the wine for people to drink.
People started showing up - and they all showed up on time, and fast! Things got crazy pretty quickly, and I don't have pictures of most of the food or eating, which I'll talk about in a later post.
The setup for the party had a lot to do with my decision to hire a day-of-coordinator. I suppose I should say "our" but as I said yesterday, since I will be the person that the caterer, the parents, the friends, the musicians, the photographer, the dj, the officiant all come to to ask about the day, I feel comfortable making this call regardless of what Mark thinks. I do not want to be sniping at my sister before the ceremony. I don't want to be fielding questions on where the tables go. I want the good feelings - the loving the setup that other people have done the work on, the appreciating the small gestures of the people I love, without the bad feelings.

Monday, November 2, 2009

To Watermarket we go!

Some of my friends have gotten into photography in the past year or two, which is awesome. Some of them are amazingly talented, and I'm always excited to see what they have going on, so I stalk them on Facebook and on their personal websites. But I can't help notice that very few of them watermark their images.
To me, the watermark is as simple as signing your work. You would sign any photograph you mat and frame and submit to an art exhibit, correct? So why wouldn't you sign your work online?
It's also a great way to spread buzz. This article discusses the watermark as a marketing tool. Early on, I actually watermarked all the images that we posted in our Flickr Gallery, so that people would see them and find their way to the blog to read our review of the venues.
So how do you make a watermark? There are tutorials available online - if you are a "real" photographer, I imagine you use Photoshop or Lightroom 2; but I am a student who can't justify the expense so I get by with the Gimp, which is a pretty great program. Watermarking in The Gimp or Photoshop can be extremely simple. You can also create a watermark in the Gimp or Photoshop and simply batch watermark an image using this program, which is also great for resizing photos for blogs or galleries. (Try using this tutorial to create a watermark with your logo.)
As a consumer, I never mind seeing photographs that have been watermarked, unless the watermark is enormous and over people's faces. Trust me, it only helps you and potentially protects you from intellectual property theft. The only downside to watermarking is the small amount of time it takes to do it.
It is also something that my fellow bloggers may want to consider. There are even online applications that will add a watermark for you, which is pretty cool, and very easy.
Does anyone have any recommendations for programs, etc. they use for watermarking?

Passing the Buck

A few weeks ago, I was struggling to deal with catering. I felt like I was going to fall apart. We suddenly found out that there were 4-5 new caterers we could contact about the food, which opened up our options considerably - but it also increased the number of people we had to contact, meet with, get quotes from, follow up with...and I felt a little done. I felt like I had already contacted at least 10-15 caterers for menus, had already gone through menus for prices, had already done a lot of the work. And it hit me like a ton of bricks - food is not a "chick thing". Food is not the bride's job. This is not dresses, or flowers, or shoes. This is what we are feeding 130 of our nearest and dearest. And somebody was slacking. So I did the honorable thing. I quit. I handed the whole kit 'n caboodle to Mark, told him to contact caterers and set up meetings and tastings. I told him that I was done. Some brides would probably freak out to give up control. I felt nothing but relief. I focused on my midterm, my journal, my job hunt, and my student organizations. After I let go of the catering, I let go of more. I let go of our Save the Dates. Mark took care of them.
Then I contacted a potential Day Of Coordinator. I reallocated our DJ budget to cover the cost of a DOC and have committed to hiring one. I don't want to be fielding questions about where I want tables or tablecloths on centerpieces on the wedding day. I simply do not care enough to want to maintain control. I'm pretty sure the only thing worse than "OMG THEY PUT THE FLOWERS IN THE WRONG PLACE" is being constantly asked where you want the flowers when you do not give an iota. And I say "I" here, because the florist and the caterer are not going to go to Mark with these stupid questions. Because the groom couldn't possibly care or know and the day is all about me! Bull.
There is a pretty common division of labor in most wedding planning. (As confirmed by our recent poll.) Women seem to do somewhere between 60%-80% of the planning themselves or with the help of a Mom or sister. Men do about 5-20% completely on their own, and I would say the remainder is split between the couple. This is purely anecdotal, I have not done studies. The guy usually takes care of the wedding website, the music, the tuxes, and his ring. Those are the typical guy things. Girls usually deal with everything else. I don't really want to be like that. I would say I'm doing about 35% by myself, we are doing 50% together, and Mark does 15% on his own. So I figured it was fair to up his percentage by dumping our catering search on him.
Am I being fair here? Have you shirked your bridely duties by "delegating"? (I hate that term when it comes to wedding planning - I'm not the boss here. We're a team. So I don't think of it so much as delegating as telling your teammate to take the ball and run with it every once in awhile.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009


How do you have a Halloween wedding without having a Halloween wedding? Give it a classy costume theme - you can go dark, like Phantom of the Opera, or you can go Mad Hatter.