Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple Solutions

Once we did our flip flop tags and I had a basket, I wondered what to write on the basket.  Most people do cute little poems but they're not really our style.  Then I was perusing the DIY gallery on Weddingbee and saw this:
And problem solved. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A little secret

I hate champagne.  I mean, seriously.  I hate it.  It's dry and too bubbly.  There's just something about it that I can't stand.
But, but, you say, it's just not a wedding if you don't toast with champagne!  Whatever will you do?

Meet Barefoot Vineyards Moscato.  The magnums of this are something like $15.  (There is also a Moscato they sell at Costco for pretty cheap that we will get if I feel up to driving to Virginia.)  It's bubbly and tastes like juice, which is how I like my wine.  We'll serve other wines, and people can toast with whatever they have.  This wouldn't be presented tableside, it would just be at the bar with everything else.  

But this post is not about wine.  It is about champagne alternatives - and we have several people coming to the wedding that do not consume alcohol at all.**  Plus children.  So what do they toast with?  The options are:
  • soda or water (basically, whatever they would be drinking) - but it's bad luck to toast with water and this makes me nervous
  • sparkling cider
  • ginger ale 
Ginger ale is my go-to at weddings where I feel like I have to look like I'm toasting with champagne (I'm sitting at the head table or dating the best man.)  But sparkling cider seems fancier, especially for kids.  I'm thinking to direct whoever is offering tableside wine to offer sparkling cider to our dry table and to the kids table.  

Do you have a dry table?  Are you worrying about this?  Is it weird that I'm thinking about it when I really don't care what everyone else is drinking?  

[Edited to say: You don't have to serve champagne.  Nobody has to serve champagne.  Please don't think I'm saying you have to serve champagne.  ALosAngelesLove is right when she says it goes fairly wasted at weddings.  I decided that I wanted something bubbly because, oh hell, it makes me feel fancy.  It's also not more expensive than any other wine we would serve, and Moscato is much more drinkable than champagne.  Plus, we brought a few bottles to a family thing and one person, who really hates sweet wine, said he liked how the bubbles cut the sweetness a little bit.  So this way I* can serve it and reisling juicewine that I like, and it's all good.]

*Uh, we, I guess.  Mark is in charge of beer, and I called dibs on the juicewine.  I'm not sure who will be in charge of regular wine.  
**These are people in the wedding party or my parents and close family.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Moving matters

Yesterday, we undertook our 3rd move together as a couple.  (Plus Mark and I each moved at least 3 times since we've been together.)  This time, we accomplished the move with minimal fighting, which is impressive.  I had to take a full length practice bar exam over the weekend, so I was very little help.  Mark managed the movers and directed everything. In retrospect, I think this was a good thing, because he could do all of his organized moving things that he likes to do (like decide exactly where furniture goes before it goes in a room, and color code the boxes) and I wasn't there to be impatient and angry.  (In retrospect, it is possible that the complicated parts of moving are all related to me, because I get really cranky when I'm hot and hungry.  I also throw things in boxes and then am confounded as to why it takes 3 months to find soap.)

But this post isn't actually about moving.  It's about telling people that you've moved.  With weddings, it is especially important that people have your current address.  (If you get a gift, and it gets sent back to the shipper, and the shipper was the store, and you don't send a thank-you note for said gift, I imagine it is terrible.)

After Mark had set up my bar review corner in my new dressing room,  (Yes, both he and the new apartment rock.)  I settled in and sent an email to pretty much all of our friends and family, alerting them to our new address.  However, I think we will still copy an idea from an acquaintance who got married.  They put an "at home" announcement in the back of their program.

According to The Knot, the at-home "card" is a good way to "clarify how the bride and groom will be addressed".  They then follow this with a number of examples of what you do when you are a lady doctor and you get married and you keep or hyphenate your last name.  So score one for the knot.

Ours will probably be just a note on the bottom of the last page of the program, to save paper and expense, but I'm not sure how to word it.  According to Mrs. Tulip, much of the wording is antiquated.  A note that says, "After our honeymoon, we can be found at home at:" would be my instinct, but that doesn't clarify any name-changes we make.  Or a superhero motif that says, "our new married identities are:" and "find us at our lair" but I'm not sure we'll be goofy enough for that in the program.

I think maybe just:
After the wedding/honeymoon:
Mark HisLast
Ellie Mylast-Myotherlast
can be found/reached/annoyed at home
Our new address
Baltimore, MD 212XX
If you are going to just show up, please bring a casserole or some beer.

Okay, maybe minus the casserole, but I think it works.  Even though the address isn't new, it will be new enough to plenty of people.  Should we specify the date we will be back from the honeymoon?

Is anybody else doing an at-home announcement?  Can we start a revolution here?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wedding Wisdom: Mothers-in-Law

From APW's guest post on Mothers-in-Law on May 26.

"Here’s the thing. We have invested in our identities as good child rearers, and we’re proud of everything we accomplished. Our children represent us in one way or another. And you are about to make a public cultural and aesthetic statement which reflects on us, the families we came from, and the families we created. "

The list that follows is stuff that I eventually figured out on my own, but wish I had known sooner. It is everything you should know when you get engaged. But the most important thing to remember as you plan your wedding, in terms of how to deal with and include your parents, is that your wedding is a reflection of you, but it is also a reflection of them. It is a reflection of how you were raised by them. It is a reflection of your entire family's values. My family values family, food, sharing, good works, and charity. Our wedding reflects these values, from my choice to invite my entire, enormous, occasionally embarrassing family; to our delicious, varied dinner; to our non-profit venue; to the charitable donation we will make to celebrate our wedding. My family doesn't really value good taste or matching plates or decor. And if they do value those things, they also value common courtesy and would never say, "you know, the china you picked didn't match your table runners."

Mark's family has their own values, and we try to respect those as well.  But it's hard.  It's really really hard.

What have been your familial challenges?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Photographers I Would Have Picked

I have a friend who is getting married and she had a status message the other day about her photographer.  Her budget was higher than ours was, which I was relieved to hear, because even though we got lucky with Kiersten, I found our $2,000 budget hard to work with.  (I have no doubt you can get a good photographer for 2k, but because we really wanted somebody with a lot of experience, it was a challenge.)
Along the way I found a few photographers who I loooooved, but were just a little too high.
The first was Paired Images.  They shot my friend Renee's wedding and I stalked her pictures on facebook and they were jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Kelly Prizel Photography - I found Kelly early on when I found out about So You're EnGAYged and love her work.  She's in NE, but from her website at the time it seemed like she shot DC weddings.
Stacy Richardson Photography - Our friends posted their engagement pictures on Facebook and I seriously gasped.  It really looked like a magazine shoot.
But of course, I would recommend Prema Photographic to anyone as well:
(And since Kiersten is so reasonably priced, it makes paying travel fees seem less daunting.)

Dream Dress

I had a really weird wedding dream last night.  (Like, really weird.  I wasn't marrying Mark, but that was okay, because I wasn't me.  Plus there was a snowstorm and a flood and a friend who died and then a voiceover bit where a guy was like, "and when I returned, years later, to the family...."  Really really weird.)  But at one point I opened up the closet and there was my dress.
And holy cr*p it was the most amazing dress I've ever seen in my life.
It had a crumb catcher like this one, and it nipped in at the waist and then flowed down to the floor:
Only it was blue and white brocade.  It was a white background, with a light blue pattern and I could not wait to wear it!  

A friend and I discussed on Saturday whether wedding dresses had to be white.  I don't really think that they do, but I also didn't buy the pink dress that I tried on in the store (and loved.) 

I would have bought my dream dress though.  Cuz it was amazing.  Have you ever done that or am I totally weird?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Leave Your Butts Outside

On our very first venue visit, the man showing us around pointed out to the front porch and said, "that's the bench that smokers use, since smoking isn't allowed in the Inn."  I laughed.  Because well, we don't have any smokers.  I thought about it a little harder, and realized that 5-6 of our guests are smokers.  Some of whom are usually in one stage of quitting or another.

My grandfather used to have an ashtray shaped like a skull that said, "No smoking."  Growing up, I was overly sensitive to cigarette smoke and the smell of it, particularly on an airplane , would make me feel sick.*  My house always had a "no smoking" sign by the front door.  So the issue of smokers at the wedding never even occurred to me.

I'm not sure whether smoking is allowed at Irvine, but I'm going to leave that up to somebody else to figure out.  I assume that our family and friends who do smoke would not smoke inside the tent itself, but am I assuming wrong?

Also, I'm a little bummed that I can't get those customized matchbooks as favors because nobody will use them.

*Yes, I remember smoking on planes being legal.  It was legal on international flights until I was 11 or 12 years old.  I used to dread flying because of it. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

A few things

Just wanted to drop in and say a couple of things -
  • If you look to the right hand side of the blog, you'll notice that we now have an official blog email address!  We can be reached at wedding 4 two [at] gmail dot com if you have any personal questions or ideas for blog posts.  
  • If I read your blog, you may notice for the next few days that I am commenting as "E." and it's not connected to this blog.  This is for personal reasons, and has to do with the fact that when I set up the blog, I didn't make it as anonymous as I should have (see, above, finally after a year and four months, getting a blog email address.)  
  • I'm selling the centerpieces from my sister's wedding.  There are 3 sizes of square vases - tall, short, and votive - and can be used for candles, flowers, candy dishes, etc.  If you are local to the Baltimore/DC area and might be interested, shoot me an e-mail.  We move this weekend, so we'd really like to get them out of the house instead of moving them.  I think we'll probably be asking $100-ish depending on how much you would like.  
  • We move this weekend; posting will be light.  I'll be back someday to show off our new apartment and our wedding storage room.  (aka the "guest room" but I think we all know the truth.) 
  • I'm starting to feel the crunch of bar panic and the time-suck that is the internet, so this morning I unsubscribed from WeddingBee.  I'm not unsubscribing from any personal blogs yet, but there are like, 5 brand new bees and I just don't have the energy to read all of their proposal stories and I feel stressed when I have 24 unread posts at the end of the day.  Since I follow most of my favorites on Twitter or subscribe to their blogs, I know when they post, and I'll still check in on the main site, so I don't think I'll miss too much.  Have any of the rest of you had to do this too?  
  • Also, you should totally enter Miss Fancy Pants' giveaway (and maybe leave her some well wishes because I think she gets married this weekend!!!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Really Really Awesome Favors

There is a lot of talk about wedding favors. Some say they're silly, some say they're nice, some say they are likely to be tacky. I think skipping them is an easy way to save $300; and that stressing over them is an easy way to go crazy. Those who are doing favors often worry about giving out knickknacks, but don't want to be boring and just do a piece of chocolate.  So here is your solution:
If you are a food person, and you want to give out edible favors, look no further. We had friends distribute this hot sauce as their wedding favors and it is absolutely the only favor I have heard everybody who attended the wedding rave about. Even I rave about it, and I'm not a big hot sauce person. It's a perfect temperature, with a slightly smoky flavor. (The Knot is also usually running a promotional deal so that these are pretty reasonable.) Although it might be a little more expensive than some favors, your guests will use it. We got two bottles from our friend's wedding, and they were both gone within a year. Fortunately, our friends got bottles for their friends for Christmas as well. But when this one runs out, I may have to just start getting it by the case.

What's your favorite wedding favor?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wedding Wisdom and a Real Wedding: Proposals

A Los Angeles Love talked recently about proposals and not needing to hire somebody to plan it for you (or to photograph it, but I do still think that is kinda cool.)

Anyway, she said this about proposals in the comments, and I thought it was really very true:

"The proposal is icing on the relationship cake and a chance to express how much we love each other, not a chance to buy a lot of expensive services in an attempt to make it special and important."

I will say this about public proposals and about having pictures of them:
Meet my friends, Mike and Stacy, who got engaged after he took her skydiving for her birthday. (They're getting married today and you'll get to see their amazing invites shortly as well!) I love this picture because it is very very them, and I love that their friends get to feel let in on the proposal, but my favorite part of the story was told to us later, and I hope I'm retelling it properly. Stacy was nervous as they were about to actually make the jump, and Mike went first. Right before he went, he showed her the ring box, then jumped. I think that's a pretty good reason to go out of a plane :).

So yeah, pictures are great.  But they can't ever capture everything.

Also, a lot of people have said that proposals are such a private moment and why would you want people to watch you?  Can somebody please explain the difference between that and having a ceremony?  Thanks!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh, I'm sorry, did you have an opinion?

When it came down to picking the invitations, I feel a little guilty.  Only a little.   I found our invite design.  It was the one.  No other design could POSSIBLY do; and I knew that, because I had been hunting for months for the right design.  I sent the link to Mark and asked if he liked it.  He said sure.  Then I sent it to our entire family and started contacting printers.

Then when we sat down to work out our wording, and Mark says, "Wait, when did we decide to go with this one? What other options are there?"  I will admit, I felt fear catch in my throat.  Was I going to need to throw a temper tantrum?  I wanted these invitations more than I wanted anything else that had to do with our wedding.  I'm serious.  From the very beginning, the invites have mattered to me.  I love stationary.  I love invitations.  I love pretty paper and cute designs and I got way too obsessed with the invites.  I would be damned if Mark was going to swoop in here at the last minute and try to change my dream invitations.

But I took a deep breath, reminded myself gently that Mark doesn't obsessively check out invite sites, and so I showed him the 3-4 options in our price range I had found that weren't too girlie.  I explained the pros and cons of Printable Press, and the pros and cons of Jean M (I do love me some thermography, but their design that I loved was WAY girlie) and the pros and cons of Whimsical Prints and eventually I think he caught onto the quiver in my lip and he said of course we could go with the ones I picked out because he didn't like any of the others that much (by which I think he meant "enough to fight about this.")

He didn't harp on the fact that the shade of green is a little too bright, or that finding our own printer is a hassle, or complain that the cost of the design was too high (it's more than I wanted to pay, certainly.)  He simply let me have this one, after he knew that we were spending our money fairly wisely.  But I still feel a little bad that I wasn't more mindful of his opinion, that I simply found the invites that I liked and clung to them like a 2-year-old at the candy counter.  I do wish we had gone to an invite place together and gone through books and found something together, but I don't wish it badly enough to give up my perfect invitations.  Which makes me feel guilty.

However, we can't be perfect all the time and I think it shows growth and self-awareness that I understand that I made this decision and he let it go.  And I love him for it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I'm impressed as hell by couples who train for marathons together.  I feel like everywhere, there are descriptions of couples who run together.  I know some couples who run together.  I know some guys who would never dream of leaving their girlfriend or wife behind while they run.

And then, well, there's us.  And we don't run together.  It's a disaster.  There are just some things that some people can't do together, and run with Mr. Super-Speedy-No-Endurance is one thing that little Ms. Slowpoke just can't handle.

Runs have ended in fights, tears, getting lost, and a series of other disasters.  So we stopped trying, because we didn't want to make it work.  Making it work would have meant I learned to run faster; and it would have meant that he would have to retrain his muscles to run slower; neither being a viable option.

Yet I still get jealous when I see other couples talking about training for, or running a marathon together.  How nice it must be to have that kind of together time! To undertake an adventure of that difficulty and magnitude, and know that your partner is by your side.  To have their support and understanding when you lower yourself into an ice-water bath post run.  But then I remind myself that having a training partner means fighting over the tub, instead of asking him to scrub and fill it for you, and I feel better.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Local Event: Gay Marriage in Maryland

I just got an email from Equality Maryland with two workshops coming up (same workshop, different locations) that you should be interested in if you aren't stuck in Bar Review all summer.  Technically these are aimed at gay couples, but I bet they include advice that would also be good for straight couples.  Like you should have a will, and advance directives.*

June 27th - 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm - Rockville, MD - "Seven Steps To Take Before You Walk 
Down the Aisle"
We can get married in D.C. now, but what does that mean for you and your family? Local attorneys, Emily Russell and Heather McCabe of McCabe Russell will walk you through the joys and pitfalls of marriage in the metro area. Wine and cheese provided at this free event, which will be held at their home in Rockville. Please email Kevin at kevin at or call (410) 685-6567 for more information or to RSVP.

July 1st - 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm - Baltimore, MD (EQMD Offices) - "Seven Steps To Take Before You Walk Down the Aisle"
We can get married in D.C. now, but what does that mean for you and your family? Local attorneys, Emily Russell and Heather McCabe of McCabe Russell will walk you through the joys and pitfalls of marriage in the metro area. Wine and cheese provided at this free event, which will be held at their home in Rockville. Please email Kevin at kevin at or call (410) 685-6567 for more information or to RSVP.

I hope they do more of these so I can go and report back.  As a future family lawyer (if I can actually understand double jeopardy and the automobile exclusion), I find this area of law fascinating.  

*Why do you need a will if you are a heterosexual couple getting married?  In the words of my T&E professor, as depressing as this is, young married couples often die together.  Do you really want your parents to have to deal with your estate? And what if you don't have a simultaneous death clause? A what? That's right. Get you to a lawyer!  

An open letter to Bridesmaid Dress Manufacturers

Dear Bridesmaid Dress Manufacturers and the Bridal Shops that Sell Them:

I understand, truly, I do, that the most cost-efficient way for you to sell dresses is to simply have sample sizes and force women to gamble their hard-earned wages on your lovely dresses.
However, I would suggest to you that perhaps you might consider sampling a few additional sizes of your most popular dresses.  You know, those ones that look pretty good on just about everyone?  Would it be so difficult for you to carry a few dresses from each line in a 6, a 10, and a 14?  Or even consider having a "sample size" line in which you have one dress in every size it comes in, for the bridesmaids to try on, so they know what size they are, leading to a decrease in the cost of alterations?  Yes, I know the stores like to gouge us on the alterations, but maybe this way they could gouge us a little less?

If you can't do this, please add a feature to your websites, in which, in addition to seeing the dress in different colors, I could see what the dress might look like on a different sized person.  For example, what might this dress look like on somebody who is busty?  Who has big hips?  Who has broad shoulders?  What about a woman who is completely flat chested?

You make lovely dresses.  They really do look good on a wide range of women, and many of them are extremely flattering.  So please make it as easy as possible for bridesmaids to understand that they will look good in the dress, and save them the 4 months of worry until it comes in in their size.

Wedding for Two

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Super Nerdy STDs we never showed you

It occurred to me that we never showed you our super-nerdy STDs that reflect our wedding being on 10-10-10, which is binary for 42.  If you haven't read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you should probably just stop reading now.

These save-the-dates went to our really nerdy friends, a lot of whom didn't even get the reference.  I think part of the reason I haven't written about them is because they were somewhat poorly executed.  I mean, the save-the-dates are cute; but we mailed them out with no explanation and never heard anything from anyone who got them, except for one friend.  (Who loved them.)  But...I was disappointed with the way everything happened. 

I also never wrote about them because somebody would have asked how we did them.  The process was this:

1.) I stole a bunch of clip art from the Google Image engine until I found a good image of the planets.  Then I found a bunch more clip art. I'm not proud of this, but we only mailed out 12 and I ran it by my IP friend and he said as long as it was proper parody and not for sale, we would be okay.
2.) I put the images in Gimp shop to manipulate.  I failed and eventually Mark did it by trial and error.
3.)  I put together the images in Inkscape and used fonts from DaFont.  At the last minute, I added the starry background at Mark's suggestion.  
4.) I attempted to print them about 11 times before I finally got the layout correct.  I had to .pdf them on my laptop and email them to my desktop to print them and it was really frustrating.
We printed our website on the back and printed Don't Panic! on the envelope.

I was really happy with how these came out, but like I said, I wasn't happy with the way we then executed it.  The original design I had was much more explanatory, but Mark came up with this one and  I deferred to his judgment, since they were mostly going to his friends.  In retrospect, I shouldn't have done that.  Truthfully, I think I did because I'm the girl.  I'm the one who doesn't know binary.  I'm the one who didn't read Hitchhiker's until my freshman year of college.  So I deferred to his judgment at that point, but later, when he wanted to make a small change that would make a lot more sense, I refused because getting them to print had been such a nightmare and I wasn't going to reprint them and I just wanted them to be gone!

Mark also got annoyed when I tried to explain it to people before we sent them (he didn't want me to "ruin the surprise", which I understand), and nobody asked us about it afterwards.  We also gave them to guests who had already received regular STDs, so they were super-confused.

What have been your wedding fails so far?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another Friend-or booked

Back in March, I spent a brief amount of time looking into pricing makeup artists.  Considering we had found a florist that cost significantly less than we thought it would, and my hair would cost less than I thought it would, I thought maybe with some creative googling, I could find a makeup artist.

Well, no such luck.  I'm just painfully cheap when it comes to having somebody else put stuff on my face.  $20 seemed like a lot to spend, so $75 was out of the question. So I did the next logical thing - I emailed my bridesmaid, L.  L. used to do my hair and makeup for college events, and it always looked good.  L. promised to do my (and anybody else's) makeup and also come makeup shopping with me.  We made a quick trip to Ulta and talked about style, and she recommended I look into foundations, etc. and see what would work well for my hyper-sensitive skin, and we would go back in the summertime.

On Sunday morning, we went out to take our e-pics and my bridesmaids had spent the night the night before because my graduation party was on Sunday after the pictures.  Right before we left, I remembered I wasn't wearing any makeup, and dumped the entire contents* of the makeup into L.'s lap and said "pretty me now!!! please!!!!"  L. got to work and ten minutes later, I looked like this:

L. explained to Kiersten and Mark's sister that when I do my own makeup, particularly eye makeup, especially eye liner, I look, well, cheap.  Having done my own makeup for my cousin's wedding last weekend, she's totally right.  When L. did my makeup though, I felt gorgeous all day.  I felt seriously pretty - which is how I want to feel on our wedding day, so I'm thrilled that she can do that.

The lessons I took away from this, which I will continue practicing in the meantime, are that white eyeshadow is key and should go in the corner of your eyes, and that eyeliner should be applied to the outside corner of your eyes and smudged by somebody who isn't a klutz.  Oh - and smile, then apply blush to the apples of your cheeks.  It looks way better than my trying-to-follow-my-cheekbones method.

We're going to go shopping for new makeup soon, so does anybody have recommendations for lightweight but long-lasting foundation that doesn't make your skin break out?  Also, for anybody who is having a bridesmaid do their makeup, any suggestions for sequencing? I'm thinking that my sister and L. will go first for hair, and do their makeup while I get my hair done, and then L. will do my makeup while the other two BMs get their hair done.  Can the other two bridesmaids do makeup first and then get their hair done? Because that might work too....

*one foundation, one blush, some finishing powder, four eye shadows, a mascara, and some eyeliner. Oh, and a brush.  To which L. said, "uh, we're getting you new brushes. This is crap."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Body-Friendly Alterna-Dresses

This post is dedicated to my new blog-friend Angie who has a wedding in 64 (or something) days and does not have a dress.  She mentioned how difficult it is to find something for us busty pear shaped gals, and I agree.  Although I am less busty and more pear shaped than I used to be, I still sympathize. 
So here is my current round up of long alterna-dresses for "ir"regular shaped people:
I love this maxi dress from NY & Co:
and it's $34, making it appropriate for budget brides as well.  The full skirt hides the hips, but the spaghetti straps may need some altering to be able to wear a regular bra. (It's $34. You could buy a whole extra dress and make some cap sleeves or wide straps out of it.) 
Then I headed over to my good friend
I don't do the 1 - shoulder look, because I feel like it makes me look short - but I love this dress and the fuller skirt would be good for a pear-shape and...still no bra.  Damn.
But what have we here? The same dress, with a halter top, and a cheaper price tag?
The problem is the truly bra-friendly dress is for the woman who does not fear the spanx.  And for a summer wedding, Spanx are a layer of hot & sweaty.
 There are some more dubious bra-friendly options that may not be for the pear shaped -
But the matte jersey would be great for the casual summer park wedding, but is still a heavier fabric that tends to show any unfavorable body parts in a favorable light
And then there are the "plus size" (or "average" if you will) options:
And the sleeves will cover your tattoo that you were concerned about not having finished!  And at $200, it's not a bad deal. Plus, 11 reviewers would recommend it to a friend. Sadly, it is so popular it only comes in a 16/18/20 and not in more sizes.  (Also, only comes in a plus size - because I can't imagine any woman who is less than a size 16 who might want a dress with sleeves and wide straps to hide a bra.)

Leaving Nordstrom, there are a few more options.  This dress from Newport News has built in shapewear.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Perhaps a lovely summer sundress?
Anyone else have dress suggestions for Angie? 

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Most Important Part of DIY Invites

Seriously.  I'm not kidding.
We polished off a handle of this after finishing the invites.  And played taboo.  And had a sleepover.  It was awesome.
However you celebrate, make sure you schedule it in for post-invites.  You don't need alcohol to have fun, but you do need to have fun to have fun.  So whatever it takes.  Bask in the glow of your (crafting team's) accomplishments and celebrate your success!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to Buy Paper

Shannon (I think. The bar is getting to me.) commented that the purchasing of paper is what freaks her out about DIY invites.  This was my favorite part, although I made it more complicated than I had to, so I figured I would write in a little more detail. 

I originally wanted to use an online printing company to print our invites for us, but after ordering a number of samples, I was disappointed.  The online printing companies I found all used very "high gloss" techniques and didn't deliver a nice matte finish like I wanted.  (Note: when it comes to this part of the invite process, I means I. I doesn't mean "we". I means "I micromanaged and obsessed." I'm not proud of it, but this was the thing that I cared about more than anything else.)

I ordered samples from and almost went with them but ultimately didn't because they didn't have a recycled paper option and if we were going to order the paper ourselves, it was cheaper to get them printed locally. 

I looked into several places for paper, but would up getting samples from only one -  I almost went with which has a wide variety of eco-friendly paper and uses renewable energy but I felt daunted by their selection and couldn't find a flat recycled navy cardstock to use as a backer.  Plus, Paper and More had flat rate shipping, which was very important to me. lets you purchase individual sheets of cardstock so that you can test run them through a printer.  I ordered 3-4 types of cardstock and ultimately decided on the Recycled Bright White Cardstock for the invites. I used the recycled cardstock for the backing, and sold out my environmental side to my aesthetic side and ordered regular cardstock (which turned out to be 30% postconsumer recycled just like the other papers anyway) for use with our table numbers, place cards and other wedding related projects. 

There are a few things you should understand before you go and order paper.  I'm not a paper expert, but this is what we found:
80# pound cardstock was easy to run through a printer but still had a good heft to it
100# pound cardstock was difficult to use with a cricut and probably would have been even more difficult to fold. 
A linen finish means the paper has a texture to it in kind of a fabric-y/crosshatch pattern.  Smooth means the paper does not have texture to it. 
You should make sure you have extra paper in case Staples prints 25 sheets of your rehearsal dinner invites, instead of the 10 they asked you to.  (Did I not mention this in my I hate Staples post?  No, we didn't get money back or new paper. I hate Staples.) 

I obsessed over the paper because I was unreasonably concerned about our invites looking like a cheap craft project.  Our invitations will be people's first view of the wedding and  I didn't want to look cheap, or boring, which is why I didn't just order lovely plain invitations.  I was afraid that cheap looking invites (which I have never received) would say, "we will serve lousy food but still expect gifts."*  I wanted our invites to be creative and quirky, but still classy.*  If you are also unreasonably concerned about this, I think that the most important thing is to pick the right paper. The easiest way to pick the right paper is to order samples and test print - which means start your paper search at least 2-3 months in advance of your invite printing and assembly process. 

*Nobody I know would think this. I don't like people that think this. Hence the unreasonable concern. Regardless.
**I'm none of these things.  Isn't it funny how weddings make us want to be totally different people?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paper Cutters: Seriously, stop being so cheap.

That seriously is directed at you, loyal readers.  I know, I know, you're on a budget.  But if I give you one piece of advice regarding DIY invites, it is this.
Instead of investing $200 in a new printer, and then cutting your invites with a paper cutter from the craft store, invest in a professional paper cutter (and get your invites printed for you - it's way cheaper, and so much less headache).

We cut our rehearsal dinner invites with my sister's seriously dull paper cutter.  They came out with a lovely deckled edge.  I had to be talked off the cliff of trying to recut all of them when we were almost done.  It still kills me that they look like that.
Look, some people might say that you will never use a paper cutter again.  Bullsh*t.  You will use it all the time.  You will use it for things that you didn't ever think about needing to do, like cutting out pictures of a traffic intersection where you ran a red light to make an evidence board for court.
You will use it for a million and one projects with your kids.
You will use it to help decorate your home, to help send out christmas cards, to cut the cheesy taglines off family christmas cards so you can just have a normal picture on your fridge.

So, I know I mentioned this in December, but really, invest.  Budget $150 for a paper cutter and then order one that fits your needs.  They don't make the brand that my mom has anymore, but you want a ROTARY cutter.  You want a PROFESSIONAL model.  You want a metal plate, you want a magnet or other tool for alignment, and you want a self-sharpening blade.  If it's made in Germany, that is good, because man do they know how to make knives.  Fortunately, a lot of the pro ones that are super expensive are actually HUGE so you can buy the "small" model that is still like, 12"x14" and cuts a full sheet of paper.  (Don't buy anything smaller.)

Normally, I'm not the person who is all, "don't buy tools just for your wedding." This tool isn't just for your wedding. It's for the rest of your lives.

Sticky Issues

Usually for craft projects, I like to use the double sided adhesive roller that works kind of like those white out dispensers.  These are great because you can refill them. I was concerned that application would be too time consuming when it came to mounting our invites on cardstock, and also I wanted the whole card affixed to the cardstock, not just the edges.  I wasn't sure what else to use thought.  I considered spray adhesive, but could only find repositionable spray adhesive.  That definitely wasn't what we wanted.   I contemplated Rubber Cement, the adhesive of my science fair project days*, but the drying process is so complicated that I couldn't imagine using it for 100 invites.

So then I turned to my stage crew staple - the Glue Stick.
I picked up two of the Elmer's Craft Bond Extra Strength Glue Sticks at my local Michaels - at $3 apiece, these were a much more affordable solution than the double-sided adhesive, and I am pleased to report that they do, in fact, stick pretty well.  Two of these was plenty to glue 100 invitations to cardstock backings.  I hope it holds, but a small part of me is concerned that when we stuff the invites in August, the glue will have self-destructed and our invites will have fallen apart.  I don't let myself think about that too much though.

Have you also searched for a good adhesive? Any recommendations?  Did you have a negative experience with Elmer's that led to all of your invites disassembling in the mail?

*Concluding that stainless steel thermoses are the best and there is no stain remover that gets out paint.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You would think I would know how to run a mailing.

I have held at least 5 nonprofit/campaign jobs.  I can stuff envelopes like it's my job, because it was.  But when it came to organizing out invites for invite stuffing, I ran into one very critical mistake which I want to discourage you from making:
Make sure you have everything ready to go before people get there. 

The real problem here was that we waited too long to order the invites.  We were cutting it close, and our designer had a family emergency, so we were running even more behind.  (They were FANTASTIC to work with, by the way.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about Printable Press.)  We got stuck on the wording and just dragged our feet.  That is the Big Mistake that we made.  Everything else snowballed.

On Thursday, we got our first round of proofs from Printable Press.  We managed to turn them around and get the edits back to the designer by Friday so we could have proofs, because I needed to get them to Staples ASAP to print them.  (We were planning to use the copy shop from my school, but they close early on Fridays and aren't open Saturdays.)

[A quick note about Printable Press - they were WONDERFUL to work with, and I am positive they would have had the final proof to us sooner except that the designer had a family emergency so they had an interim designer - but PP bent over backwards to make sure we had the design ASAP and was really really wonderful.  I will write more about them when I unveil our invites, but I did want to say that for now.]

Friday, I hop in my car with the files for the proof and our response cards and rehearsal dinner invites and 100 sheets of fancy paper (100% recycled linen paper from and drive the six blocks to our local Staples.  Which closed sometime in the last three weeks!  So I drove to the Staples I used to use in Columbia.  Was there somewhere closer? Yes, but I figured I could get it taken care of while I bought glue at Michaels.

The woman at Staples was confused by my order and reluctant to take instructions on how to cut the invites ("follow the lines" was too difficult).  She printed me a sample, which looked great, so I asked her when they would be done.  She said the earliest they could do was Saturday by 1pm.  Since we had a bridesmaids dress appointment at 1, I figured Mark could zip down and get them.  I assumed they had some kind of professional cutting capability and would just cut the invites while he was there.

HUGE mistake.  This is where everything went to hell.

Saturday, Mark gets to Staples at 1pm.  Sometime around 2, he lets me know that they can only cut 10-15 pieces of paper at once, and he has been there for awhile.  We wound up not having them cut the cardstock backing, figuring we could do it ourselves while people assembled other parts of the invites.  There was also serious traffic in and out of the city, so it took poor Mark over 2 hours to take care of it.

Once we picked bridesmaids dresses, the bridesmaids, our photographer, and the moms came back to the apartment.  Everyone was antsy to get started on stuff, and my mom was trying to be helpful by asking me what she could do.  When I said we couldn't start until the invites got there, she suggested we start other projects.  I was reluctant to start other projects first, because the invites had to get done and the other projects wouldn't easily move out of the way. So I acted like a four year old and yelled at my mommy.  Do NOT do this.  It is cruel and makes you look like a terrible child!

When Mark showed up with the invites, I almost cried.  The person in charge of cutting at Staples was clearly a kindergarten failure who did not understand the concept of "cut along the line".  He had cut entire sets poorly - chopping off the top of the trees, or not centering the invite properly.  The worst were the ones he had cut too wide for the envelopes!  I stood there, staring at them, lip quivering.

Because we still had to cut the cardstock backing, as well as the rehearsal dinner invites and the RSVP cards, we got to work and there was no time to wallow in what the moron at Staples had done to my beautiful invitations!  The biggest assembly problem was that nobody could cut things as fast as anybody could glue, etc.  For awhile we puttered along, with me cutting the cardstock backing to a size I thought looked "pretty good".  After I had done like, thirty or so, Mark reminded me that the cardstock had to fit in the envelopes, so then Mark's mom checked the backings and handed me ones to trim, letting me know where to trim.  Through this all, my mother very patiently cut blue cardstock, response cards, and rehearsal dinner invitations.*  The rest of the bridesmaids stamped, glued, and assured me that since nobody was getting two invitations, they would not compare and realize that they Did Not Look The Same.**

I will say a few things, which is that I am actually the least persnickety of all of the members of my bridal party - my girls are all very precise people who make everything look good.  So that they were reassuring me that it looked fine to have things slightly crooked was very sweet of them and made me feel better.  Mostly, by the end I was just so frustrated that it didn't go like clockwork.  I think I put a lot of pressure on myself for Craft Day to go perfectly because I have a reputation for being crafty.***  I am also crazy insecure around Mark's family, for no good reason - and I always want his parents to know that I'm not totally incompetent.

In the end, the invites do look great, even the poorly cut ones, and the really bad ones are going to my friends Tom and Paul and other friends who are not into details.

Oh, the other thing I learned is that I am not doing a single craft project the wedding weekend.  Life is too short for that kind of stress, and I'm just not doing it.  So....yeah.  If it's not done by October 4th, it's just not happening.  Fortunately, now that the invites are done, all the important stuff is finished and nothing else matters nearly as much.

Did you learn any important lessons you would like to share during your invite assembly? Or were you smart enough to pay somebody else to do it for you?

*Despite the fact that her youngest daughter is a heinous b*tch.  At least my sister is nice.  
**This wasn't really my concern - I was pissed because the tops of the trees got cut off!!!!! 
***This reputation is ill deserved - I like craft projects, but they always look like craft projects.  My reputation for making excellent macaroni and cheese, on the other hand, is totally earned. Which is what I eventually did while everybody else made our invitations.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Free Stuff

So I saw these on the Weddingbee DIY gallery awhile ago, but I kept forgetting to post them.  Having done the DIY-ish invite thing, it's really not so bad (minus the disaster of getting them cut at Staples.)  We purchased our invite from Printable Press, but I seriously considered the gorgeous invites by Anna Skye over at Download And Print:
Anyway, if you get them printed on fancy paper, even simple DIY invites look pretty nice.  I highly recommend something with a linen finish. 
You download the files, change the wording, and print them yourself (or get them printed at Staples. But don't have them cut them - more on our invitation drama this week!)  You can mount them on a piece of nice card stock or stick them inside a pocketfold.  (How good would that flower one look on a blue backing?)  It makes DIY anything about a thousand times easier to have somebody else do the design for you. 

Another great resource are these free and very inexpensive ones from as blogged about today on $2000 Wedding.  

Are you DIYing your invites?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Back when we hired a photographer, we moved our video budget to photography. I knew there was no preventing my mother from videotaping everything, especially now that she has a Flip HD (which we gave her for Christmas cuz we're a bunch of enablers), and I knew the chances that we would watch the video weren't so high...but I still wanted the day on film, so I wanted to ask a friend to videotape the wedding. Fortunately, we have a friend who does video-editing and video-stuff anyway, and thus I recently secured our videographer, via g-chat, as all good friend-or meetings should go. I'd asked her awhile ago, but I wanted to see if she was still willing recently.

me: are you still willing to videotape our wedding?
because I vaguely remember asking you about this like, a year ago
Sarah: I mean obviously I'd rather be drunk. But assuming I'm still working at [place where she works doing video editing] I'll do it

The conversation continued and she offered to do the video, to edit it together, and to tape the ceremony, plus the toasts and first dance. (But my mom will videotape the whole reception and there is nothing I can do about it, so I've given up trying.)

She also asked to come to our rehearsal so she could check the place out. But of course! I think she is at least a little excited as well, because they don't have to buy us anything from Bed Bath & Beyond. And I'm really excited that we will have a good video of the wedding to show the grandparents who can't make it, because that was the part that made me saddest about cutting the video. Will they really want to watch it? I don't know. But will I be upset if they really want to watch it and we have nothing to show them? Yes.

Does this border vaguely on asking my friend to work during a wedding? Yes, but I told her as soon as the alcohol is out, she can start drinking, so I don't think it will be that big of a deal.

Do you have any friendors?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Boring is in the eye of the beholder.

I see people talk about "plain boring envelopes" and I get insecure about our white linen envelopes from Paper and More.  I look at our envelopes, with addresses printed, not calligraphed, and I get even more insecure.
I think about how easy it would be to just take a small corner flourish stamp and add it to the bottom corner of the envelopes.  How easy it would be to stamp a tree on the back like Mariko and Jeff did.

Then I look up at the 13 bar review books I have on the shelf above my desk.  I think, "I could stamp these, or I could do MBE questions and guarantee myself the future that I promised myself and my partner when I started law school."

Because in the long term, there are things that matter, and there are things that do not matter.  Since most of the invites won't go out until after the bar, maybe I will choose to stamp them then.  But maybe I will choose to do better, bigger, funner things with my time.  Because the only person who is judging me is me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bridesmaids dresses: Check!

On Craft Day we also picked bridesmaids dresses.  Before, when we went shopping, we were leaning towards this style from Priscilla of Boston.  It looked great on 3/4 of my 'maids and was within budget*.  However, for the next two months, I proceeded to waffle.  I could get it in navy, cranberry, or green.  And despite the fact that I had wanted the girls in navy, I began to stress that it wouldn't look right with tuxes, that it would be too formal, that it would be too dark.

So we met at Bella Bridesmaids in Federal Hill to re-try on the dress, and so I could pick a color and we could place our order.  The stylist pulled dresses I had tried on before on a scouting mission (okay, and for fun), which were the original halter, and this belted dress.  Mark's sister tried on the belted dress first, and it looked really cute on her.  This was unsurprising, because everything looked cute on her.  My sister was a little vocal about not liking the belt, and I explained that I was thinking about a sash instead of the belt.  I pulled a pink sash from the rack and tied it around her waist.  Kelly, the consultant, immediately replaced it with an apple green sash.

That was it.  The green sash gave it a pop of color, made it a little more day-appropriate and casual, and I was totally sold on the look. I was additionally sold by the fact that with the belt, the dress looked really chic and could be reworn for a formal event without looking like a bridesmaid's dress, and I also loved that the sashes can be tied in a million different ways, so each girl can look a little different in a way that reflects her personality. I also love that the guys can wear green vests that match the sashes and it will look cohesive but still fun. 

As soon as my 2 late bridesmaids (who got lost and stuck in traffic on the way) showed up, I shoved them into the dress**, told them they looked fantastic, and bless them, they knew by now I was so frustrated that if they didn't like the dress, they had better lie.  I sat down on the couch comfortably while they filled out their cards and we called it a day.

I owe Kelly and Bella Bridesmaids a huge "Thank You!" and highly recommend them for all your chic bridesmaiding needs in Baltimore.  It doesn't hurt that they are 4 blocks from our apartment.  I will say that PoB was probably one of the more reasonably priced lines they carried with long dresses, and they had a limited long dress selection - but if you are looking for cute short dresses, you will be so happy! 

*And the bridesmaid it didn't look as good on was willing to wear it.and would have looked fine but not great.  There was no dress that looked good on everyone - there weren't even two dresses from the same line that looked good on everyone!
**I swear, I'm NOT a bridezilla.  Or maybe I am, but there was another appointment after us and I really just needed to make a damn decision.