Saturday, July 31, 2010

Table Numbers for Animal Weddings

My cousins got married at the Baltimore Zoo last fall and had a lovely wedding.  They did not animal theme it nearly as much as I encouraged them too (the elephant invites I found for a kid's bridal shower would have been totally awesome), possibly because they have taste.

But if you are planning a zoo wedding and you want to theme it out, or just want to add a touch of whimsy, check these out:
The bear is kinda nature-center-y, right? No? Okay.

Sadly, they are kind of expensive, definitely more than I would normally advocate paying for for anything silly like table numbers when you can just use a stick.  Maybe the store would discount them if you needed to buy 15 though??

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dressing my mom

This is my mother:
Isn't she cute?  No, that's what she normally looks like.  So how do I find a MOB dress for that?  She likes bright colors, and expressed a desire to wear a colorful dress to the wedding.

Nordstrom.com to the rescue.  In June, Mark's mom let me know she bought a dress.  I did the Totally Normal thing and Freaked Out.  I blame bar review.  I then ordered...oh, 7 dresses from Nordstrom.com for my mother.  First was a batch of 4 incredibly ugly dresses that I'm surprised my mother was still speaking to me after they showed up on her doorstep.  The second were these two:
The first one looked great.  The second one is not for short women, even though it came in petite sizing.  It was gorgeous though, so if you are tall and skinny, you should totally get it.  

Nordstrom.com has a great return policy, so we are keeping the eggplant one for now but I'm keeping an eye out for anything in a similar style, but slightly redder/cranberryier color and perhaps a shinier fabric (this one is actually a heavier knit, which is nice in a lot of ways.) 

The more important question: shoes?  What color goes with purple? I'm thinking maybe a pale gold/champagne color?  She has a silver pair that could work, but would be a bit "meh".  She doesn't do heels.  She might do a slight (1inch) wedge.  Help please!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

72 days

I'm back! Did you miss me?

The bar sucked. But it's not supposed to be fun.  So there's that.  Life doesn't go "back to normal" because for the last 20 years, school is my normal.  Life...starts.

It's pretty cool.

But okay, as of today, we are 72 days away from the wedding.  This is just over two months. So it's time to get moving on projects.  Fate intervened here and this morning I got an email saying fabric for sashes is in.  This afternoon, I settled in with some Bones and some beads and my veil and bedazzled the heck out of it.  The weight the beads add will be good for making sure it stays in place and isn't disturbed by the wind. 

Of course, now that it's done, I put the damn thing on and thought "I look too princess-y traditional and should wear some kind of vintage inspired feather headband pillbox hat thing or something instead."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Go. Read. Now.

You must read Cupcake Wedding's guest post on Souris Mariage.

I take the bar exam tomorrow (thank you for all your kind thoughts and support these last two months, and much luck to HitchDied and Meg's David and Mrs. Spaniel as well as anyone I've left off this list) and Wednesday.  After that, we'll be back and I'll tell you how I caved to the indie-pressure and decided to make tissue paper poms. And vases. And the centerpieces.*  I'm sorry to keep you in such suspense. 

But Thursday starts a new chapter for Mark and myself.  For the first time in my life, I will be free of academic obligations, but I will have adult responsibilities.  I have been updating and sending out my resume for the last two days, and will continue to do so for the next month or two or three or for (the market sucks, in case you haven't heard).  But for this reason, and also possibly because I am under some stress at the moment, Cupcake Wedding's post very nearly made me cry. 


*Spoiler alert: mix of fresh flowers and dried flowers. Ordering dried stuff as a backup in case the fresh doesn't work out. Using old beer bottles as vases = cheap and easy. Win. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wedding Wisdom: Vote With Your Dollars

This came from ThatWife's post about food, but it's true for both food (and why we are serving unbelievably expensive locally sourced and amazingly good food) and other wedding things:
"I’ve adopted a new mantra in life: Vote With Your Dollars. The choices you make when you decide what to eat really do make a difference. The things you choose to put in your grocery cart not only affect you and your family, but the type of food that will continue to be produced based on the way you “voted” with your dollars. If you contribute to stripping the land with harsh fertilizers and pesticides, the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, and the big food corps advertising to your children on Nickelodeon, that’s the food that will continue to be produced. If on the other hand, you seek out local and organic products, you send out a message that these things matter, and that more of them should be produced. Coincidentally you also strike a blow at the profit margin of companies working each year to addict us to fat-laden, sugar-loaded, disease-producing “food products”."  


Look, we all talk about whether or not our weddings are green enough.  We talk about when cheapness wins out over buying handcrafted, or buying local, or buying organic.  We talk about our values and the values we have for our marriages.  I am about to spend almost as much on one day of my life as I will earn in the next year.  That number is horrifying but our parents have been kind and supportive of this investment we are making in our future as a family.  The only thing that makes me feel better about it is the number of times I think about how the choices that we have made strike a blow for independent, fierce, political, practical, local, friendly weddings.

We have chosen vendors we like, or vendors we love.  We have splurged where it was necessary.  But we have said "no" where it was necessary too.  We have said that favors are not more important than inviting the maximum number of guests.  We have said that somebody else's notions of "nice" or "classy" do not mean we need to serve meat.  I said that I hated the typical bridal store experience and I wanted to purchase my dress from someplace that let me walk out of the store with it.

Sometimes I worry that we aren't having a "cooler" wedding.  Sometimes I worry that our wedding won't be cohesive (tissue paper poms and dried flower centerpieces? will that look "right"?), but I never really worry that it won't be "us".  Except when I think about centerpieces, because really, can't I just throw a basket of rolls on the table and call it a night?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lessons Learned

Things I did not know you could have/do at weddings before this summer but that totally work and are awesome:

  • Walk down the aisle together
  • A venue that does escort cards FOR you.  (Yeah. So they weren't shaped like seashells or whatever - I bet they saved the bride a load of stress!)
  • A church wedding that isn't long or preach-y. (I went to a lovely church wedding last summer that may not have been long, but man was it hot.)
  • Open seating (and before you say  it, there were many divorced families there and muchos drama and it still worked out)
  • Paper tablecloths
  • Picnic tables
  • Plastic cups/glasses (went to two weddings with this)
  • An outdoor wedding in southern Maryland in June that wasn't disgustingly hot or horribly buggy
  • Too much food
  • Ice cream cannolis (also an ice cream buffet.  I knew you could have one, but I didn't know how it worked.)
  • Stationed hors d'oeuvres only, no passed
  • Cut the cake before everybody eats dinner
I'm going to try to get the people I know who did these cool things to write a guest post or let me share pictures, but if you have your own experiences (or similar experiences) do tell!  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Centerpiece thoughts

Every once in awhile, I have woken up recently obsessed with our centerpieces.  Or it's flower girl dresses.  Or it's finding a dress that fits me.  Regardless, an obsession grabs me and I can't shake it.  So I've been overthinking our centerpieces.  I oscillate between two main thoughts:
1. Flowers
2. Dead things

Flowers:
Using these:

Pros:
Pretty
Colorful
Can just ask florist to bulk order $100 of burgundy and orange flowers or hypericum berries and some flower
Can get vases from ikea.

Cons:
Somebody has to fill the vases with water and put them on the tables and it's not gonna be me.
This one stressed out my FMIL.

Dead things:
Using these:

Pros:
Easy! Can set these up WEEKS in advance and just have somebody pull them out of a box and put them on the tables.
The glass vases are less than half the price of the white vases.
I have a friend with a farm family.  She might have some extra wheat.

Cons:
Not very colorful (can solve with ribbon or colored dried twiggy things. Or celosia.)
I might want to put small rocks in them. Disaster waiting to happen.  Pretty sure they will break.
Have to order wheat.  This made me feel overwhelmed, but then I found dried flowers 'r us and was happy. Plus they have extra colorful dead things.
Can't find vases in stock at local ikea.

Surely one of you will say "why don't you just combine the two and have awesome wheat and flowers in vases?"  I was thinking about that, especially when I remembered that celosia is really cool looking, comes in our colors, and is in season in October.  But still, which vases? Taller? Shorter? Cheaper? Cuter?

I also am tempted by these nifty vases I saw in the bathroom at Irvine.  Not weird at all....
It's got wheat, dried curly twiggy things, and bright green and red grasses in a mason jar with river rocks and tied with raffia.  They're a little tall, but we could have fewer of them than the little vases, since they are substantial, and less work appeals to me.  I return to the "we are not mason jar rustic canning type people" debate we had months ago, but you know what kind of people we are? Cheap and easy.  That's right.

Thoughts? Inputs? Good source for vases?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Budget Myths: Dresses

There's a lot out there about how to save money on wedding stuff.  A lot of them make me nutty.  They are tips written by people who got married ten years ago, or who aren't married.  They sound sensible, but when you apply them, they don't work. 

One budget myth that makes me a little crazy surrounds dresses. I say this as a person who paid $500 for her wedding-industry-standard poofy frilly designer dress, so yes, I got a good deal.  (I think I probably "saved" about $1000, although really I just got a much nicer dress for my same price.)  There are a lot of myths out there surrounding wedding dresses, but the idea I found the hardest to get past was the idea that I should go simple and get a plain white sheath dress to save money.  I wanted the ballgown (even if I went short) with the poofy skirt that felt like a wedding dress.  And it's a lot harder to get that on a budget.  So here are the myths of dress shopping that I encountered:

Myth: You can get a great value on a dress by buying a used or sample sale dress.
Reality: This is partially true, but do not forget to add in the cost of alterations. Do not buy a dress that doesn't fit you without adding in at least $400 for alterations. I'm not kidding you. It can also cost up to $200 to get a sample dress cleaned enough to buy. Let me put this to you, if you don't know the cost of alterations. A hem alone will run you, at most bridal shops, almost $200. I know I advocate paying somebody for their time and effort, but that hem, unless it is more than 3 layers, isn't taking more than an hour.  Putting in a corset back will cost between $150 and $250.  A bustle might be about $75.  Bra cups? Possibly $50.  You can shop around for alterations, and it'll definitely be cheaper than a salon, but you can only go so far.  Some seamstresses will cap alterations at $250, but I wouldn't budget any less than that.  So if it comes down to spending $400 on a dress that doesn't fit right, or $600 on a dress that fits perfectly, the $600 is probably a better bet. 

Myth: You can resell your designer dress and recoup the value.
Reality: I have seen brides report having to sell their designer dresses for half, or less than half, the price. A lot of people do not want to purchase a used dress for 75% of the original price when they could pay just a little more and have a fresh, clean dress in a size that fits them and hasn't been altered for somebody else. If you sell your dress, that's probably smart, but do not expect to get almost what you paid back. If you are looking at a Vera Wang or other fancy designer, see what they are selling for on eBay before you assume you can get $6000 back for an $8000 dress.

Myth: J.Crew sells reasonably priced, attractive, wedding gowns.
Reality: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
(advantage: they let you return them)

Myth: David's Bridal is the best place to go for a reasonably priced, attractive wedding gown.
Reality: hahahahhahahahahahahaha.......
hmm...
Some people will in fact find this to be true. This is not true if you live in Montgomery County, MD. The Rockville David's is horribly crowded and rude. I don't understand why anybody goes there when you could go, instead, to the Columbia Bridal Boutique, which sells higher quality dresses for the same price point, and also has a large selection of plus sized gowns (I will concede that an advantage of David's is their wide variety of sizes. However, it baffles me that an enormous chain like that does not allow for returns.) Look for a dealer that sells Alfred Angelo, Watters/Wtoo, Maggie Sottero, Casablanca, and similar gowns, because they will be in a similar price range but higher quality and better service at the salon.

Myth: Don't buy a "wedding" dress.
Reality: You may not want a wedding dress, but a lot of us don't want to buy a slinky white evening gown from a department store. A lot of girls want to wear a long dress (or our guys want us to). If not buying a wedding dress works for you, go for it. I'm excited to see the results of A Los Angeles' Love's test of these dresses. 
Also, this you may not realize until you go to try one on, but a lot of wedding dresses are designed to be generally flattering. There really are dresses that look good on most people - they may not be your style, but that's another can of worms. Dress designers strive, more than a lot of designers, to create dresses that accommodate a lot of figures and account for a lot of flaws.  In the alternative dress world, the dresses are lower cut, or flowy-er, or more close fitting.  They also don't have structured foundations, which are a must for those of us on the chubby side that don't want to wear spanx.  

Some additional tips for dress shopping:
1.) Go someplace that has dresses in a variety of sizes, even if it is a consignment store. Knowing your size in a certain brand, instead of guessing it, will help you avoid the cost of alterations if the dress is too big. It will also help you be able to buy a dress online, if you choose to do that.
2.) Haggle. While I don't recommend this for artists like photographers and invite people, I do recommend it for dresses. Ask the bridal shop if they'll be having a trunk show soon, or if they will give you the first-day-buying discount even though it's your third trip. Buying a dress is really like buying a car.  The discounts are there, you just have to ask.
3.) Brave the crazy. Do not underestimate Running of the Brides or any other sample sale. You don't have to go at 6 to get the good dresses. We didn't even find our dresses until 10am when they were released from other Bride's greedy little hands.
4.) Shop around for alterations. If you have a lot of small things that need altering, find a place that caps the price of alterations. If all you need is a hem, maybe you don't need a place that charges a $350 flat rate. Take something else to a tailor to get altered first, to make sure you like their work, or ask another bride where she got her dress altered.
5.) Find out whether the shop will offer a bulk discount if you and your bridesmaids all buy your dresses there. Do not be a crappy person about this - my friend was in a wedding where the bride who tried to make her bridesmaids pay $250 for a dress (that could be bought for $175 online) because the shop would give them all a 10% discount and she would get a discount on her dress, but this meant my friend, who wasn't local, had to then pay an extra amount in shipping costs (that exceeded the 10% discount) for the dress for it to be shipped to Maryland.
6.) Do check out the bridesmaid dress options. I actually found a really great bridesmaid dress (it was way too fussy to really be a bridesmaid dress) that I totally would have worn as a wedding dress. It was about $200, but still really formal and had a big poufy pickup skirt and everything. I wish I had looked into this more as an option, but I have a dress so I'm letting it go.  There are a lot of very formal bridesmaids dresses out there, and a lot of store owners aren't bitchy about brides trying them on.

Any more budget myths/tips?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wedding Wisdom: What kind of love?

I'm trying to read more of your blogs, because more of you have been commenting lately and I'm curious and darnit, you are all fabulous and fascinating! 
I found this gem of wisdom about relationships in Sara's blog:

"It's not a Danielle Steele novel. It's not Shakespeare. And it's not Twilight.

It's more like "Up."

It is committed Love. Decided love. Every day, thanks for doing the dishes and taking out the trash, Love. "

I know that the movie turns out to be quite tragic in ways (in "sobbed through most of it" ways), but finally, a Disney movie that is real about relationships.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bubbles! My bubbles!

At my cousin's wedding, they handed us little heart shaped bubble blowers and asked us to blow bubbles as the couple came out of the church.
I had thought this would be cheesy.  It wasn't.  It was cute.
So what if, I suggested to Mark, people blew bubbles at us as we receeded?  Maybe not people.  Maybe just small children who love to blow bubbles.  (I'm all about pleasing the small children.)
Nothing gets stuck in your hair, and I love bubbles.  Really, I do. 
Plus, bubbles are cheap.  And children are cute.  Win?
Somebody did point out that bubbles are sticky. Meh.
Thoughts?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shoes!

Awhile ago, I was perusing the Aerosoles website.  Looking for an appropriate sandal for graduation, summer weddings, or my wedding.  I found these, which in purple, would have been perfect for my law school graduation (but I am too cheap to spend $60 on shoes.)  They also came in a green-and-gold combination, which I thought would go great with both the dress I wore for our engagement pictures and with, oh yeah, my wedding dress.
Unfortunately, they were expensive.  And I would have to pay for shipping and return shipping if they didn't fit.  So I waited them out.  I hemmed and hawed and tried them on in our local Aerosoles store, where they only had the purple and the black, but I could check my size.  They went on sale, but were still $50.  And that was just more than I wanted to pay, especially because I had to buy ceremony shoes too.

And then, a few Friday mornings ago, into my inbox came the news of 25% off sale sandals AND free shipping!  In five minutes, I had ordered my shoes.  They arrived last weekend and I staged a little photoshoot with them.  (Because corporations is really boring, you guys.)
They were a little darker than I expected, so I don't think they'll go with my green dress - but they will be perfect with any of my 17 black dresses, and they are hip enough that I can wear them out with jeans when I go out to paint the town.
I could rotate this picture, but I think it's more art-y like this, no?
Like most shoes, I will definitely need some body glide to keep the blisters away, but that was going to be true of anything.  I like them a lot and now my only concern is whether the rubber soles will be alright for dancing in - but we have plenty of time to practice, and it's really only a problem for anything where I really have to twirl. But they should be perfect for a waltz!

Whaddya think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wedding Wisdom

"decide on what matters to you, compromise on what matters to key people, and say no to everything else. Practice saying it. Say it out loud. Say it often. No to anything you are not comfortable with. No to wedding expectations that do not reflect you as a couple."  -Lyndal and Stephen

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oh. My. God.

I'm sitting at the testing center where I'm taking a practice MBE.  Two guys near me are having a conversation.
"My wife can't cook." - guy 1
"Why did you marry her?" - guy 2
"My mom lives around the corner. We go to her house." - guy 1

Bigger question? Why did anyone marry any of these guys?

Gah!

Okay, so as of today, I am 13 days from the bar exam and 88 from the wedding.  Cue....masspanichysteria!!!  So on the immediate to-do list? Study like crazy.  On the August to-do list? Well, let's see.   

AUGUST 
Cake - concept sketches and tasting
fix and mail US invitations (yes, they did all fall apart in the heat...why do you ask)
DIY Projects 
  -Order more paper
  -Sewing projects: veil, headband, table runners, vests, ties, bench covers, bridesmaid's sashes
  -Escort cards
  -Mock up program design
  -Thank you notes for shower gifts
OOT bags - acquire contents, assemble (don't add anything w/ chocolate until October)
Groomsmen/Groom - decide on vests, arrange rentals.
mock-up centerpieces and buy vases and wheat/flowers/whatever for centerpieces
Decide whether we want paper lanterns/purchase (you can get them at Ikea now, btw. They have the really huge ones for $6, which is a good price and means you can avoid shipping costs.)
Dress fittings start (find a tailor)
Accessorize for both Bride and Groom
Wedding signs

Also, how much of this can we say "screw it" to at the last minute?  Everything but mailing the invitations and maybe the dress fittings.  So really, it's not so bad.  Also, a lot of it can be pushed into September if necessary, I just really don't want to be dealing with last minute projects. 

The bar exam on the other hand? Can't really say screw it.  Except for biz orgs, where I have decided that I should just guess the answer, because I can't get a grip on the material enough otherwise.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Non-Hosted Activities

I was reading through some of ThatWife's wedding recaps a little while ago, and I noticed that she mentioned that they had a section on their wedding website dedicated to "Non-Hosted Activities" which I think translates to "join us but we won't pay for you." Although instinctively, I think we might feel that this is "tacky" ultimately, it would be unreasonable for the couple to pay for activities and events on top of the wedding, rehearsal dinner, brunch, etc.
I think that this is kind of a fun way for couples on a budget to plan activities that people are welcome to join in on, but don't have to. Since we're getting married on a holiday weekend, and we think people may come into town for the weekend, it would be good to have some stuff planned out to suggest, and potentially join them for.
Starting in September, the Aquarium and Science Center both do Fridays After Five, which is $8 admission to the museum. Guests could choose to go to the Aquarium or the Science Center for almost 1/5th the normal price. Admission includes the imax/shows as well as all exhibits, so it's pretty cool. Obviously not all of our guests could partake in this, but it would be fun for the ones that get to town early.
Friday night after the Aquarium or Science Center, we could invite guests to join us for an evening at a local bar or restaurant. I think guests might even be willing to venture down to Federal Hill where we live and meet us at one of our favorite hangouts. Since not that many people will get to town on Friday, we probably wouldn't have to worry too much about getting a private room.
Saturday morning, after the Wedding 5k, also a non-hosted activity, could bring a nice Harbor Cruise, allowing guests to have some water-based fun. Then the rehearsal lunch for the lucky few, and Saturday afternoon would of course have some free time, since all good school trips allow for free time. We don't want our guests to get too sick of each other!
Saturday night would be the rehearsal for the unlucky few, plus a bar night for the youngsters.
Sunday could involve some kind of suggested light lunch and suggested places for mani-pedis for those that like that sort of thing. Also possibly a listing of local churches for the religious folk. (We wouldn't be joining them for any of this.)
Is this too much to try to plan for people? Would people from out-of-town (not just people who haven't been to Baltimore before, but people who haven't been to the US in at least 10 years) enjoy the suggestions? Should we suggest some DC activities for people that want to go down there?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why does anyone do a rehearsal *dinner*?

In January, Mark's parents came to visit and we talked through the rehearsal.  Since I was a wee bit controlling about the wedding menu*, I was determined to bend over backwards to do absolutely everything that I could to back awaaaaay from the rehearsal dinner and let Mark's mom/parents throw the party they wanted to throw.  I thought through the absolute minimum people that I wanted to invite, told her that was how many seats we needed, and made a few suggestions of locations, both in Baltimore city and in Owings Mills.

Our options in Owings Mills were limited - we could do Linwoods, and we could do Ruth's Chris Steak House, and that was pretty much it.  Ruth's Chris is pretty expensive, and Linwoods was nice but we were having trouble getting menus and price quotes.  When we looked at the city, we ran into an issue with transportation - we wanted people to be able to drink if they wanted to at dinner, but Owings Mills is a half an hour drive away.  We also wanted to have a nice rehearsal dinner, but people would probably go into Baltimore for the day and wouldn't want to wear their dinner clothes around to sightsee.

Then the game changed.  I contacted our site coordinator to set up our rehearsal, and she let me know that we couldn't rehearse until late afternoon on Saturday - like, after 4pm.  Since we also needed to do set-up at the tent that day, I knew we needed a few hours at the venue.  Then, the Best Idea Ever hit me.  A rehearsal lunch.  Or Luncheon, if we were going to be fancy about it.

The Rehearsal Lunch was perfect for a number of reasons:
1.) It meant that the lunch would be a bit more casual, and people could comfortably wear their lunch clothes around sightseeing afterwards without looking or feeling out of place.
2.) It meant that the price would drop at some of the nicer places around the harbor and become feasible.
3.) It meant that we could book places that might have ordinarily have had a very high minimum.
4.) It meant that people would be less likely to drink, and if they did drink a lot, they could go sober up at the aquarium and drive home many hours later.
5.) It meant that we didn't have to feel crunched for time at the rehearsal, rushing to get to the dinner, and then rushing through dinner to get to our Bar Night.

At this point, Mark and I suggested an old Baltimore favorite as a possible rehearsal lunch location - the Rusty Scupper.  The Rusty Scupper is our go-to location with my parents for a delicious, somewhat fancy but not over-the-top, very Baltimore, dinner.
One of my favorite things about the Rusty Scupper is it is right near Federal Hill where we got engaged.

Since we were doing a late lunch, the catering people at the Rusty Scupper were more than happy to work with us on the menu and the minimums.  I don't think they would have been as able to be flexible with dinner.
The rehearsal lunch also frees us up at dinner, which, the more I think about it, the more I love.  I kind of just want to order a pizza or something to Irvine to eat while we set up paper lanterns and get the beer into the fridge.  Or we'll all go to Chipotle afterwards, just the wedding party.

The other thing it frees our parents up to do is catch up later that night with people not invited to the rehearsal.  I dropped all family members except my mother's cousins off the list for the rehearsal, so this way my Dad can see his siblings and, if my grandmother is able to make it, maybe have dinner with her.  Mark's parents have several friends who will be at the wedding but are not coming to the rehearsal, and this gives them the opportunity to spend some time with them.

Are you doing a rehearsal lunch or a dinner?

*What? I like food.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Honeymoon for the Socially Conscious

Okay, so, the original plan for our honeymoon was a cross country train trip.  Somehow that evolved into a week in San Diego.  It is now further evolving into a week....somewhere that hurricanes and the oil spill are not.

I'm not too picky about where we go, as long as it is interesting, not stressful, and not someplace I would rather go with my friends or either of our families or as part of a longer trip.

But I am trying to honor my social conscious with this trip.  That means, in part, picking an eco-friendly destination.  It means trying to pick someplace to go that our tourism dollars might be necessary.  It means not staying at a Marriott.  It means not renting a car and making the most of public transit, if possible. It means not going on a cruise or to a beach that has dredged the sand from the ocean.  It means not going to an all-inclusive resort where I can pretend that the country that surrounds it isn't crumbling under it's own poverty.

I'm using a lot of "I" language, not because these things are not important to Mark.  But some of these tenants are from my own personal sense of ethics and promises I made myself when I was very young (like 13) about how I would live my life.  So it is what I bring to the table in our honeymoon discussions. 

At the same time, for this particular trip, I want to go someplace where I don't have to worry about the quality of the drinking water.  Where I don't have to worry about the mosquitoes.  Where I can take a hot shower if necessary, or lie on a beach.  I don't want to spend a day on an airplane, make twelve stops, or ride a puddlehopper.  I'd rather stay someplace with 3 hours or less of a time difference.  I'd rather go someplace warm or sunny or temperate. 

So suggest to us some possible honeymoon destinations.  Tell us how you are soothing your sense of self-righteousness, social justice, or environmentalism with your honeymoon.

P.S. This isn't intended to guilt anyone out of going to Sandals for a week, or on a fantastic cruise, if that's your thing.  I am a consumerist and enemy of the environment in many other ways, and the best that any of us can do is to be aware of our choices and make them with intent. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wedding Wisdom: Moms

This post by Ms. Bunny has stuck with me ever since she first wrote it.
"I do not understand people who tell me not to worry about my mother's feelings. Wtf. She is my mother. Do you not realize how much of her life she sacrificed for me? Do they disregard their own parents' feelings? I love my mother even though we don't agree and for me to heartlessly break her heart is not cool in my book. While this whole religion issue causes me tons of stress, I cannot and will not hurt her anymore than I have to."  


And that is, in a nutshell, why we spend so much time worrying about our parents and what they think.  Yes, you have to be true to yourself - but there is no need to be mean!  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear anyone who might possibly throw me a shower (or throw a shower for other people):

If we do some kind of "questions about the bride" game, can we please have it be multiple choice?

For an extra challenge, can we do it as MBE style questions?
"Ellie and Mark are menu planning.  They decide to make curry sometime next week.  What type of curry are they most likely to make? Choose the best answer."
A.) Yellow curry with pineapple, because it is delicious.
B.) Yellow curry with pineapple, if Mark is rock climbing.
C.) Red curry, that is extra spicy, because it is delicious.
D.) Red curry, with no spice, because it is all they can agree on.

The correct answer is actually B! (We would really make yellow curry with no pineapple.)

You guys, the bar exam has eaten my brain.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wedding Wisdom

"You know what would be unique? Admitting that most guest books are lame, primarily because we don't know what to say besides "congratulations!" Give us ideas that inspire creativity in our guests, and I'd be more impressed." -A Los Angeles Love

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cake

Have I talked about our cake before?  I mean, OUR cake.  Our painful process of finding a baker and sitting down with sketches and tasting flavors....oh wait, we didn't do any of that.

Our cake baker is a friend-or.  I think I've said that.  Here's the part I haven't mentioned.  She's Mark's ex-girlfriend.  They dated for almost 3 years during high school and college.

I read a board post on Weddingbee recently where a girl was flipping out because her boyfriend invited his ex-hookup-buddy to the wedding.  I may or may not have told her to get over it.

What bothers me is the extraordinary number of people who have told me not to eat the cake.  They are concerned that it will be poisoned.  Or terrible.  Um.  No.  Please take your insecurities about your parter's ex and go project them on someone else.

I have it on good authority that our baker's cakes are delicious.  She was thrilled with the flavor we chose.  We also had similar ideas about decor, and since our baker has to see us at holidays, she's more willing to listen and do what we want than somebody we just have to pay money to.

We met awhile ago and I think we agreed on something inspired by this, but with less flowers and more ferns and moss and leaves and maybe some turtles(!) instead of birds...
I don't really remember.  But I do know that it will be delicious, and that I'm not stressing over finding a cake baker who will make a cake for less than $7 per slice.

Exes at a wedding? Where do you stand?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Real Weddings: Stacy and Mike's invites

When I first got this invitation in the mail last April, I squealed with excitement.  Finally!  The invitations for our friend's wedding!  And they were so cute - seal-and-send, low key but still fancy!  So I asked our friend Stacy to write about the process and she obliged.  So I present: Stacy and Mike and the Seal and Send Invite Saga of 2010.  

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When it came to invitations, my fiance' and I had decided on 3 requirements. They had to be (in the order of importance) relatively inexpensive, capture the essence/theme of our wedding and our relationship, and be simple and more eco-friendly. Since cost was our first priority, I spent a lot of time looking on websites like MagnetStreet and Rexcraft, mostly because they offered free samples and I had no idea where to begin. When I requested samples from Rexcraft though, they proceeded to take a few weeks to respond and then lose the order in the mail. Needless to say, I scratched them off of the "options" list. I toyed with the idea of DIY, especially since we had successfully designed our own fun Save-the-Date through Shutterfly, but was strongly encouraged not to by friends who had recently gone through the hassle of assembling layers and ribbons and manning a printer while it struggled with hundreds of sometimes poorly-printed cards... not to mention the cost factor. [Editor's note: DIY invites are a pain.]

When I received a free ticket to a Bridal Showcase, I decided to give a look around, if only to get ideas of what I did NOT want. Amid all of the pushy salespeople and overwhelming booths, I met Melanie Stewart of An Elegant Invite. She was refreshingly low-key and not pushy at all. I found respite from the craziness of the showcase at her booth and we chatted about how she runs her consultation services. Melanie explained that she has literally thousands of samples of invitations at her home, all in binders. Couples are invited to her in-home office for a free consultation to work with her for a few hours to find the perfect fit. Then, she corresponds with the printing factory to make sure you get what you want, when you want it. I left the showcase with her card, intending to browse a few options and compare costs on her website (though she cautioned me that invites do not "show well" online). Her invitations were cheaper than any I had seen thus far, and I loved the idea of sitting down with a real person to create our invitation. So, we set a time and met her at her home in Olney, MD.

Working with Melanie was great. She'd ask us questions about our preferences for invitations, and our answers would direct her to certain pages in certain binders so that we could flip through invitations that appealed to us (in appearance and price). We easily spent 3 hours without realizing it. By the end, we had selected a "seal-n-send" invitation that allowed us to insert our own photo. Using this style meant it was less expensive than more formal layered and textured options, still somewhat casual, low on paper use, and (most importantly) it allowed us to literally capture the image of our rather unique wedding location, which is so important to us and our relationship history.

We left Melanie's office thrilled with our choice. Even my fiance', who had insisted that he would just nod and smile through the process, enjoyed himself. :-) Unfortunately, that was where the pleasantries ended. Over the course of the next two months, we received two boxes of incorrect invitations. From leaving out the "r" in "Patrick" to using the wrong color ink, printing the return address upside-down, omitting the deckled edge, and mismatching the paper of the invites and response cards, we were worried that we wouldn't get invitations out with enough time for guests to RSVP. Ultimately, we had to settle with some minor modifications to our original order, and change the RSVP date to a later date. While the process was frustrating and a little scary, Melanie was wonderful through it all. She took time from her vacation to deal directly with the factory each time, and eventually refunded our ENTIRE deposit. That's right... we got our invitations for free (along with 300 more unusable ones... so much for saving paper!).

So, after opening the third package with bated breath, we rushed to stamp and seal all of the invitations and get them out the door. *Another huge plus to the seal-n-send is that they usually won't require extra postage.* We've had a lot of fun receiving and opening the RSVP cards, and realized that going for the blank, folded card was a great idea - Guests have been writing lovely notes for us that we'll definitely hold onto to put in albums. While the factory dropped the ball, we highly recommend working with Melanie... she terminated her relationship with that particular printing factory. We were glad to have her on our side through it all. The moral of the story: If you work with a consultant, make sure they'll go to bat for you. It would have been a lot more stressful and a lot less pleasant if we had had to communicate with the factory each time.
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[Editor's Note: My sister also worked with an invitation consultant and loved it.  If you are going to order your invites, I don't actually think you save much, if anything, by going online vs. using the right consultant (somebody who isn't going to talk you into $8 per-person pocketfolds.)  I said before and will repeat: we did DIY because I fell in love with a particular invite and that was the only way to go.  Otherwise we would have gone the consultant route for sure.  But I think a lot of people don't realize that invite consultants can help you find an invite that is within your budget of $1-2 per invite (or less, sometimes) and that it can majorly reduce hassle.]

Thanks for sharing, Stacy and Mike!