Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yay!

Our Pro Pics are in!




I still have a few more posts scheduled with non-pro pics, but expect these to work their way in shortly.  All by Kiersten from Prema Photographic.  

Friday, October 29, 2010

Unavoidable Pain

Among other things, our ceremony included the Wine and Chocolate ritual that Mrs. Lovebug came up with.  I loved this ritual, and it allowed us to echo the Jewish tradition of drinking wine without appropriating it.  Particularly relevant to us right now is the chocolate portion, for which we ate 89% dark chocolate.  My grandmother passed away early this morning, and we are coping with this as well as several other difficulties in our young marriage.  So I take comfort in the words our minister read to us:


There will come in your life days of great sweetness, and days of bitter sorrow. There will be celebrations, and there will be tears. There will be triumphs, and there will be tragedies. Life holds indescribable happiness in store for you both - and unavoidable pain, as well.  And so to symbolize your acceptance of this reality, today you will share the bitter and the sweet, just as you will share them in the years to come.  Both of you, take and eat this bitter, dark chocolate. Taste in it the dark days which will rock your marriage and test its strength. It represents disappointment, illness, grief. Know that these hard times will come, and with them, the opportunity to deepen your bond as husband and wife.


Since this is a totally depressing post, I offer you this picture of what the chocolate tasted like.
  

And this picture, sweetness to symbolize the joy we will feel as well:  
That wine was delicious.  I had seconds.
Then this happened:
And then this:

So I choose to believe that the indescribable happiness will be coming.  

(P.S. All pictures by Prema Photographic.  We got our pro pics on Wednesday!  There is a post with more teasers tomorrow, this post interrupted your regularly scheduled posting.)  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lessons: Thank You Notes

1.) Do not rely on making your thank-you notes.  Just order them.  For serious, yo.  Or make them right now.  No, not next week.  No, you don't have "plenty of time."  This is something you must get done now, or you will run headfirst into crafting burnout and try to put off writing thank you notes because you don't have time to make them.  Or you just don't want to make them.
2.) Don't write shower notes and then either lose them or not send them until after the wedding.  Because then you will have written, "can't wait to see you next weekend" and it will have already passed.  Then you will either be lame, lazy, or both.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can I have a do-over?

The list of regrets from the wedding is really very small.  The top of the list? The crummy rush-job I did on the programs.  We didn't print the programs until 4 days before the wedding, since we hadn't finalized the ceremony.  I printed them, folded them, and delivered them to my sister for her to stamp our tree stamp on the cover.
I woke up the next morning in horror and realized that I had forgotten the minister's name.  I also, at some point, realized that I'd forgotten to put in our parents names.  I had two options - reprint the programs, or add stickers.  We had plenty of paper left to reprint, and I found some really nice sample programs online, but reprinting 100 programs just isn't eco-friendly.  It would have taken less time to do the reprint than to do what I did, which was  sticker 100 programs.
So my point is...please stop reading this now and go put together a template for your programs.  I mean, seriously.  At least write out the bridal party and for the love of all that is holy, please please please include your parents names.  I felt so bad about this, because when I mentioned to our mom's that we'd forgotten this, Mark's mom got this...slightly wounded look on her face.  I felt terrible and I really really wish I had done the reprint.
The programs were also frustrating because I'd designed them two weeks earlier and shown them to Mark.  He'd added a good suggestion, which is, "why don't we just put the photo upload information in here?"  Since we had also put in our new address, we hoped people would keep the programs anyway (they didn't.)  So we put in the photo upload information, but we wrote it in as a placeholder and then Mark set up our flickr account...so you can see where this is going...the information was wrong and I didn't double check it before I hit print.

So if I could have a do-over, what would I do?  Well, I might make the programs more fun.  I know, I know, nobody cares.  Nobody cared that our program was only a folded sheet of paper - but I can't help thinking that if they were fun, people would have actually kept them and now wouldn't be emailing us to ask for our address.  I think I would have done a design like these from Hello Tenfold.  But truthfully, we were drowning in DIY at this point and it wouldn't have been worth it.  So I employed the "eff it" technique I learned from APW. I reminded myself that many weddings don't have programs, so who would care that ours were bad?

I would also do more research beforehand.  I thought I knew what went into a ceremony program, but once I started searching, I found much nicer examples than what I had written.  I should have redesigned and reprinted but I was so tired at this point and I figured no-one would care.  I underestimated how much I would care.  So I'm writing this post to wallow in my own self pity and then get the hell over myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Father-Daughter Dance

The father daughter dance is something I had been looking forward to for more than a year.  I had told my dad that we would be dancing to "Waltzing with Bears", a song about a family taking care of their insane old uncle.  Secretly, I knew we would be dancing to one of my favorite childhood songs - "If a Brontosaurus Came to Lunch Today" from "Dino Songs with Don Cooper", a cassette we had growing up.  Kiddie songs are great - they are pretty short, and a lot of fun.  My dad and I had a really great time - it made a sappy moment a lot easier because we were both laughing the whole time, and my dad had this look on his face which I can only describe as "delighted".
If you have the chance to spring this kind of surprise on your father, I highly recommend it.  A lot of people asked about our dance later, and it was more fun (I think) than normal dances.  Don't worry though - we also still did Waltzing with Bears later in the night, but my sister and my mom joined in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Props and Costumes

With Halloween coming up, I know some of you are planning Halloween-themed weddings.  May I suggest that you have a box of photobooth props or dress up clothes in the corner?  Especially if you have kids coming to the wedding.  Because the small children, they love the lightsabers.  If you have a lot of nerdy groomsmen and boys of nerdy parents coming, you should probably have more than one lightsaber.  
Unfortunately, we couldn't find our second in time. 

I also recommend to anyone currently planning, who is going to have an October/Halloween wedding or photobooth next year, buy your props right after Halloween is over.  I did this for my cousin's wedding last year, and got everything we needed for half off.  They also got used twice, so that was great (and I'm loaning them to a friend for her hallowedding.)  I was really pleased that at our wedding, nearly every photobooth picture involves some kind of props.  Oh, wait, you want to see?  Well.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Fun

Rocking the dress at the Greene Turtle - picture by the best man.  
I really didn't expect to want to go out - I thought I would be exhausted and dying to sit down and get out of the dress.  But when the wedding wound down, I put our friends to work organizing an after party - it was only 8:30 and I was so not ready for the party to end.  Once I put my Earth flipflops back on, I was totally ready to party.  By which I mean "sit on a bar stool and drink a creamsicle because they don't have milkshakes" but still.  Oh, and they tried to card me.  I told her I left my ID in my other dress.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't have second thoughts

I really struggled with my dress.  Looking back, it's no surprise.  First of all, my dress didn't fit when I bought it, and secondly, the next time I tried it on was when I was in my childhood bedroom, in front of a terrible mirror.  But thirdly, when I bought it, it looked like this:
And this was the dress I got married in:
So there you go - a talented (although flaky) seamstress can really turn your dress from a "I guess I like it and the price is good" dress into the "ohmigoshimafairyprincess" dress of your dreams.  Because, especially for somebody like me, a dress fitting really well is actually what makes a dress "the one".  Oh, and the way the skirt felt when I touched it (admittedly, it weirded a lot of people out when I said, "touch my skirt!" when they told me how nice the dress was).
True story: I loved my dress so much I refused to take it off at the end of the night and insisted on wearing it to the afterparty at the Greene Turtle.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Via APW

This booklet from the Ottawa First Unitarian Church, is somewhat similar to the booklet we used to plan our ceremony, but it has more readings and more instructions.  If you are penning your own ceremony, I highly recommend you check it out - I wish I had done a little more research when planning our ceremony and found this, because I think it would have saved us a lot of work.  And don't be perturbed by the word "church".  Unitarians take the word "church" to mean "place where like-minded liberals meet", so it's really very secular.

Hold Out.

In the beginning, in the venue search, I despaired.  I worried we would never find the right venue.  Then we found Irvine and it was amazing.  Then...a week before the wedding, the site coordinator mentioned that they were doing construction work in the woods, right over our ceremony site.  Since I'm rational, I freaked out and drove out there to insist that we have the ceremony in the woods.  She agreed to make it work, and at the rehearsal (after a few stressful days for Mark, who hadn't seen the changes and didn't trust my lack of spacial perception), we decided to use the far corner of the woodsy area as our site - it required a bit of flexibility on our part, and our guests would be in narrower rows than we had planned originally, and nothing was totally symmetrical, but it was still pretty much what we wanted.
But seriously, hold out for what you want.  You might feel like you are being pushy or making people's lives difficult, but as long as the weather cooperates, have the wedding you want.  Because well, the result is kind of awesome:
(See that trench full of rocks in the bottom of the picture? That's basically where we had originally planned to have our aisle. Much thanks to my Aunt Frances for the picture.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nightmare

I woke up at 5:30 this morning in a cold sweat.  The reason?  Another bad wedding dream.  This was the worst yet, and it's been haunting me ever since.  
In the dream, our wedding was a disaster.  For some reason, two hours before the wedding I decided I hated my hair and washed all the hairspray out.  Then I had no way to dry it.  My bridesmaids abandoned me completely and I was hiding in the basement of the venue trying to figure out what to do next to salvage my appearance and get my makeup on.  3:30 came and went.  Then 4:30.  I think the wedding ceremony finally started 3 hours late.  We begged the venue coordinator for an extra hour or two on the reception.  I was distraught and abandoned, and everybody was angry at me for being late.  My hair was wet, I couldn't find my dress, and I just felt frantic and stressed out.  By the time the ceremony started, it had gone pitch dark.  The photographer was nowhere to be found and my husband kept giving me this sad puppydog face.  The theme of the dream was, "I ruined my wedding."  
When I woke up, my mind kept racing and turning over and over all the tiny disappointments of the wedding day - all the ways that I could have been more organized, done a better job, kept bad things from happening. I feel beyond guilty about what I put some people through just to have our dream wedding and somehow this dream made me feel insanely selfish about the way I acted generally.  Sure, our ceremony only started ten minutes late but that was because I freaked out before the ceremony and demanded that we sign the marriage contract before the ceremony - something that could have been done afterwards, I'm sure (although we were so pressed for time with pictures that it wasn't worth it.)  
In the space of about six hours, I've gone from feeling really great about our wedding to thinking about nothing but the (minimal) things that wrong and the (minimally) terrible and freaked out way I reacted to things that went wrong.  I keep reliving the two hours before the ceremony in my head and wishing I could go back and do them over again.  But mostly I want to keep this nightmare from ever coming back.  I thought the wedding happening would mean that I didn't have crazy wedding dreams anymore.  Can't I have nightmares about my unemployment or how long it took us to open a joint checking account or that we'll never finish the thank you notes?  

Tiny Little Girls

So there are a few communication things I kind of botched with the wedding - the most important being my treatment of the program girls, aka my 5,6, and 8 year old cousins.  I hadn't planned to ask any children to be in the wedding initially, because well, children are difficult.  But then last May, I was sitting on the hammock at my cousin's house and my two older little cousins came up to me and settled in.  We had such a nice (and adorable - kids are CUTE) conversation that I left thinking, "Man, I really love these girls, and they love me.  How can I not ask them to be a part of our wedding???"  Because really, that is what asking flower girls is about.  Irvine doesn't let you throw flowers, so I settled on putting them in matching dresses and asking them to hand out programs and blow bubbles during the recession.

The next issue was the matching dresses.  Where the hell would I find matching dresses (that I would be paying for) two months from the wedding?  Well, Nordstrom Rack, always the answer!  I went over there the day I picked up our marriage license and found three dresses with lacy ivory tops and navy skirts.
Add a green sash (frantically handmade by me) for a tie-in to the bridesmaids dresses and you have three adorable little girls.  The part where I goofed was waiting too long to ask them, not asking them in person, and asking their moms to pick up my slack and explain the girl's job to them.  My cousins are really awesome though, and they must love me a lot.  The girls were also amazing to me all weekend - so cute, so excited to help out, and so totally psyched to blow bubbles and dance.  They actually started a dance party at the reception before the first dance even came on - but it's okay, because adorable girls in matching dresses can do anything they want!!! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ushering

If there were wedding awards that got given out, the title of Most Valuable Player would be split pretty evenly between my cousin's wife, A. and my brother-in-law, Julian.
We could tell from early on, because Julian is awesome and superhelpful, that he would play a big part in our wedding.  I wanted to ask him to play a role in the wedding, officially, to recognize what we already knew, but frankly, the title of usher, while possibly fitting, was beneath how much we knew he would come through for us.  (Julian drove the bachelor party mobile, loaded and unloaded wedding-weekend cars, set up, cleaned up, and then when we got back from our honeymoon, provided a coat hanger to fish the car keys out of the storm drain that Mark dropped them down.)  My dad refers to Julian as a "Mensch" and the term is very, very fitting.
Anyway, about 2 months before the wedding, I asked Julian to be an usher, because well, we couldn't think of a better way to recognize how important he is to us.  We also asked Mark's FBIL, who was a huge help as well.  We also asked the ushers to seat our program hander-outers last, which meant that they basically processed.
(Actually the recessional - photo taken by a friend.)
But I wanted a way to tie them in a little more to the bridal party and make it clear that they were part of the wedding VIPs, which is how I wound up making them ties a week before the wedding.
I followed this tutorial and used the extra fabric from Lula Kate that I'd purchased for the bridesmaids sashes.  The ties wound up looking really great and tied in nicely with the bridesmaids sashes.
(us with Mark's sister and her fiance)  
Overall, yes, I could have bought ties or done without the headache of making the ties or told the guys to wear whatever they wanted.  But I did this, because I really wanted to make it clear that these guys are special.  I also ordered them the same bouts as the groomsmen wore, which were super-cute and looked great with the ties. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home.

So we're back, and we're married*.  And in case you have had any doubts: 
(by my cousin Matt)
I've decided, for the most part, to not do recaps.  I'm going to keep writing the way I've been writing, tackling small issues, big issues, details, decor, family drama, and everything else taking it one day at a time.  But I don't really care for, "and then we did our first dance and here are all of the pictures of our first dance."  I will illustrate these posts with our professional pictures, when we have them, and until then, with pictures by our VERY talented amateur friends.  
(taken by Mark's 16 year old cousin)

I also will start with this one Very Important Lesson about getting married the way we did: you will owe people.  You will owe them BIG TIME.  You will owe them your soul, and will probably need to name your firstborn child after them to make it up to them.  Your friends will come through for you in ways you cannot imagine, and they will make your wedding happen for you.  It was amazing to have an entire community of people helping us out the way they did, but I will probably always feel a little bit guilty about how hard everyone worked to make this day special for me.  I could say for us but Mark and the guys put themselves through hell on our wedding day to make sure that everything I had worked for went off without a hitch.  It's hard not to feel really loved when that kind of thing happens.  

*We totally don't feel married.  My sister assures me that weddings are like birthdays - you don't feel older on your birthday, but eventually you feel old.  I have been clinging to this to reassure me that we did not do something wrong that resulted in not feeling married.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Classic W42 - Engagement Photos

What I learned through the two engagement sessions we did is that everyone should do engagement pictures.  It's really important to feel comfortable being the center of attention and being photographed that much.  But what I wrote about in this post also rings true: engagement pictures are about all the rest of your days, not just that one single day.  So far, with our engagement pictures, we have printed a poster that we haven't hung up, and gotten several pictures printed that we use under the glass in our photo-coffee table.  We used some from our original shoot for Christmas cards.    


Mark and I have been deciding on the logistics for our engagement pictures - when and where to shoot, and who we want to take them. Considering I was on the fence originally, I think it's interesting that I'm now pretty set on them. I actually wouldn't mind taking more than one set. This probably seems ridiculous, and like I'm really vain. That's not what it is.
Something Meg (congrats, btw!) said way back when I first wrote about this was that we are about to embark on the most expensive photo shoot of our lives, so why waste more time and money taking pictures of ourselves in our every day clothes?
The answer I have finally come to is that...our life is about so much more than our wedding. And I don't want to just be using pictures from our wedding as the default pictures we hand to our family members to put on the mantle or on the refrigerator. I don't want the only really amazing pictures of us to be of us all dressed up. I want them to be of us as we are, having fun, enjoying ourselves and just hanging out together. I don't want them to be awkward chin shots. I want pictures where I feel pretty in an everyday kind of way, not a wedding kind of way. I want pictures where Mark looks like the man who comes home to me every night, not the guy in the suit I take to weddings. (Don't get me wrong, that guy is totally handsome. But I see that man five times a year. So I wouldn't mind having some pictures of the other guy.)
Maybe we won't do very much with these pictures. Maybe we won't even give them to our parents or friends. Maybe we'll just have them, print a couple prints and some collages and use them as our background pictures on our computers. I still think that I want to have them when we're older so we can look back and marvel about how young we were, how much we thought we knew, how wrong we turned out to be.
Our wedding pictures will be about the "best day of our lives". Engagement pictures will be about all the rest of the days. So as long as they don't cost an insane amount of money, we will do them.


I'm going to close with this, taken by our photographer, which I printed in black and white and hung on our wall:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Classic W42 - Big Weddings and Big Dresses

I wrote this post when I was first gripped by fears that my wedding might not be "blogworthy", or worse, not cool.  I forgot for a moment there that I'm not cool, and thought that at least I was cool with the other uncool folks.  But the truth is kids, bloggers with their hip-indie weddings are cool.  Like in high school, the rest of us are just trying to be ourselves without getting swallowed whole.  Just repeat after me: "Do what you want, and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter."  


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



I would also like to point out that my puffy princess dress took me 4 hours shopping, total, to find.  Sounds pretty simple to me!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Classic W42 - Running of the Brides

In April of 2009, I ran with the brides at Filene's basement.  In fact, I ran with two other brides and two of the three of us found our dresses there.  It was such a totally fun day, and although I had a LOT of anxiety about my dress, ultimately, my sister was right.  Trust your seamstress, but I will tell you that I paid $500 for my dress and $485 for the alterations.  My original budget was $1000, so I came in under it, and other dresses I loved more in the store were way over it.  When I tell people where my dress came from, they get a really freaked out look on their face, like they can't imagine going to the running of the brides.  They are missing out, my friends.  It's totally awesome.  But there are a few rules I came up with after our experience - and I will tell you, there is no reason to get there at 7am.  That is all hype.  Go at 10am and browse dresses - I didn't find mine until 10.  Don't expect fancy designers either - you'll see a few, but you'll also find several-year-old samples like mine that don't appear to have ever been sold in the US.  It's a small price to pay for a good deal on a nice dress and not having to deal with a bridal shop. 

There were definitely people this morning who bordered between rude and downright deserving of a punch in the face. 
True to the description that Filene's sent out, within minutes, the racks were absolutely stripped. People grabbed everything. My sister headed off to grab whatever she could find that people weren't guarding. She handed me a pink dress with pickups, which I loved and wore around for about ten minutes. Eventually we began to acquire some dresses. In the Filene's basement world, any dress is collateral, because you can trade it. The trading was absolutely the most obnoxious part. From about 8:00-8:15, everybody was just sorting through the dresses they had grabbed. Then they all started to trade - but because there was a group of about 20 brides who had large teams and had amassed about 20-30 dresses apiece, and were still trying all of them on and wouldn't let any of them go, the rest of us who only had five or six dresses started to trade among ourselves, but what happened was that even if, like me, you were perfectly happy to let the dresses go without getting anything in return, nobody else was, so you felt like you had to trade. 
So here are my rules for RoTB:
1.) If you have a dress, don't be too picky about what you trade it for. The people who had a dress that one of us really liked, but that didn't like what we had to offer, were some of the most annoying people in the store. If you are walking around with a size 10 dress, and looking for a six, and somebody wants to try the ten on, take the other ten that they are offering you. You have as good a chance of trading it as the one you are holding. 
2.) Get the hell over yourself. I would say that about 40% of the dresses there had seen their share of Filene's RoTB events - and (see previous post) some of them were downright ugly. Don't treat people like crap just because the dress they are offering to trade you isn't a Vera Wang. 
3.) Don't hoard. There were a limited number of dresses that were a size 16-20, and it was because this one girl had grabbed every single one she could get her hands on, and then was "considering" all of them. Then she would only trade for another dress that was a size 16-20 and we were kind of like, "we can't possibly trade you anything because you have all the dresses." 
4.) Don't push or shove. When you push or shove somebody to get a dress, and then another person yells, "if you push me again, I'm going to call the police", the store security comes and neither of you get the dress.
5.) Don't bring your own security force. The most hated groups were the ones that managed to snag the racks that were next to the mirror, one of which brought her parents or fiance or something with her and the guy in their party was fairly large and tough looking and stood at the end of their racks with a scowl on, wouldn't let anybody pass, and would screen your trades. I tried to trade them a dress for a really nice one they had, and the guy just said, "oh, no, not that." Which frankly, hurt my feelings because I really liked that dress and it hadn't fit me right but it was gorgeous. At that point I got snotty and was like, "fine" and started stalking away and he could tell I was pissed and tried to be like, "no, we can trade" but I was just so annoyed that I took my dress back and waited for somebody that wanted it. At this point, by the way, most of the trading had ceased, because enough people had found dresses or released theirs that there were enough floating around and these jerks were still demanding a trade. Eventually, they decided to "just let the dresses go" so I went after the dress I had wanted to try on - and the guy then tried to joke about it with me, being like, "what are you going to trade for that?" and then was like "just messin' with you." If you were an asshole before, don't be surprised when you act like an ass and I don't think you're kidding. 
6.) Don't keep more dresses than you can keep your hands on. 
7.) Decide on 1-4 favorites, not 20. If you are that uncertain about what you like, give it up and go to a real bridal shop to get a better idea of what you're looking for.
8.) Have specific styles in mind. I was looking for pickups and no beading, but I wound up trying all 5 styles they had with pickups, and buying one of those.
9.) Try to make friends. Befriend another girl who has a similar sense of style but is a different size - pass her stuff that doesn't fit you and she'll do the same. I'm sure a lot of people approach this as a "I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to find my dream dress." 
10.) Bring a notepad and a sharpie. The smartest group I saw had a rack of dresses, and they marked their "maybe" dresses by taking a piece of paper, writing maybe on it, and then slipping it through the neck of the hanger. Then they put the sizes on all of their for-trade ones, so you knew if they were in your range or not. 
11.) Organize your tradeable dresses - we were a variety of sizes, and my sister organized our tradeable dresses in order by size so that people who were looking to trade for an 18 or a 10 knew which side to check on. 
12.) Bring your own mirror - or steal one from the housewares section - and bring tape!. The people that were hoarding the 3 way mirror were the worst - but the people in front of the regular mirror were pretty bad. One group brought their own, and it slipped and fell. Bring one and either affix it to a hanger beforehand, or affix it to the rack. 
13.) Bring at least one friend - maybe its just for those of us with carpal tunnel, but I couldn't zip those dresses alone.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Classic W42- Values Based Spending

I went out to Irvine the week before the wedding and fell into a conversation with the event manager there about the kind of people who get married at a place like Irvine.  She said she really loved how the couples she works with are so nice, and care so much about the local community.  I told her that a big part of that is that people who don't care about the local community don't tend to seek out places like Irvine to get married at.  I have nothing against big hotel weddings, especially for people who don't have the kind of time we had to put into a wedding.  But at the same time, a driving factor in our venue search was this idea that we wanted to support the right kind of place with our money, and whenever we went out to Irvine, we were overjoyed with knowing what our venue fees were going to support.  I wrote this post back when we first started planning, but it still rings true.  

So one thing I believe we have established here already is that Weddings Are Expensive.
I like to support small local businesses. When I bought my bicycle, one of the reasons I bought it from Wheaton Cycles was because it was a small, local business with a wonderful owner who was very friendly and personal. I like to support nice people who are trying to make a living.
In the summer, we hit the farmer's market to support local farmers so they don't have to ship their products across the country. Some of it is organic, some isn't, and I care more that it is local than it being organic. I don't really like to shop at Whole Foods because so much of their produce is imported from California.
I try to buy local Maryland wines - they tend to be sweeter, which I prefer anyway, but it is one thing that is much easier to just buy a local wine because its so much better environmentally. It also supports local businesses, which puts dollars in your local community.
My point here though, is that for a wedding, which will cost about 60x what my bike cost, we want that money to go, for lack of a better word, to a good cause. All this means for me at the moment is this - no hotels.
Bed and breakfast or small inns (like the venue we checked out yesterday, which I will let Mark write about) are acceptable. But the local Hyatt or Sheraton (which would be very convenient, and the Inner Harbor one is quite nice) is not going to put money into the local Baltimore community (something it desperately needs), in addition to the fact that the money does not "go to" anything but the hotel's profits.
So where does this put us? Most of the historical homes in the area are non-profits, run by historical societies or the counties they are in. Some of them are privately owned, but if they are historical buildings I would rather support them. Some of the places we are looking at are owned by the state park system or the department of natural resources. I'm not ruling out my church - which is a nonprofit and a place I like to support. The aquarium and Science Center gouge a little bit, but they are membership based organizations that are also funded by grants and fund nonprofit programs. The EPA building is run by a non-profit. These are the people who I want to receive the 2-4k we are putting down for the cost of the venue. It's not just about the place being cool, unique, or original - its about where the cost of the wedding ultimately goes, and its about who I want profiting off of our wedding - I'm fine with the vendors and services costing money - but I want to feel comfortable with where that money goes. The catering company that I've already emailed a week ago that has not responded at all? (Who has also not responded to my cousin who is wedding planning also.) I don't think I want them to get our money.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Signing off!

I have dreaded writing this post.  How do I say thank you and goodbye to so many wonderful people?  How can I possibly express to you how much your wonderful comments and amazing support has meant to us over the last 20 months?  I can't, so all I will say is thank you all so very very much.
We started this journey seven years ago, when my freshman hallmate asked me to come meet the boy she liked.  We first talked about getting married five months later, early on a Sunday morning, by saying something like, "y'know, I know this sounds really weird, but unless something...weird...happens, I can really see us getting married."
I will also warn you that it is possible that the events of your wedding weekend will be stressful and overwhelming and that there will be moments that you are annoyed at your loved ones, your fiance, and your hotel for sticking you in a room with a damp carpet the night before your wedding.  None of this matters, because on your wedding day your sister will wake up and ask you if you want to jump on the bed yelling, "I'm getting married today!!!"  Which you should do.
See you on the other side! This week, while we are off honeymooning, I've scheduled a few "Classic W42" posts from the archives that I think still ring true.  Enjoy and I'll see you in a week!

Friday, October 8, 2010

DIY = DONE

Last night I completed my very own veil-hat and was completely done with my DIY projects.  (Mine. I'm still doing some of Mark's.)  In the last week I have:
-Made 2 ties (for the ushers and boy am I glad I didn't make 5) - I used this super-easy printable pattern and they look really good.
-Done the curtains/backdrop for the photobooth
-Made a sash for one of the attendants (my word for tiny girls handing out programs)
-Made 30 bench covers out of burlap (don't worry, we only fray checked these, we didn't sew them)
-Made 125 programs (125 programs for 155 guests - that's enough, right? If we run out, we run out) on which I forgot to put the minister's name.
-Created and printed signs for the guestbook, flip flops, card box, etc.
-Finished our Out Of Town Bags
-Finished our awesome wooden signs
-Bought and labeled bottles of bubbles
-Finalized the ceremony, timeline and our shot list

There are some other projects that I have forgotten, but I just wanted to say that although I had imagined that our wedding wouldn't be that DIY-tastic, it happened anyway.  Which is to say that you really shouldn't take on a ton of DIY projects.  Take on one or two, because the rest creep up on you.  I was planning to make programs, OOT bags, and wooden signs.  Everything else wasn't on the list until the month before the wedding.  Anything that is on the list that you can get done early, get done early - even if it's silly things like buying bubbles and putting labels on them.

Also, for goodness sake, please please please finalize your ceremony at least a month before the wedding.  Seriously.  Ask people to do readings, etc. Because we didn't, and we finished the ceremony yesterday.

The fun part

Okay, ladies and gents - last night I finished the last of my DIY projects (and just have to help Mark a smidgen) which means it's time to move on to the fun stuff: honeymoon planning and packing!
So I need some book recommendations! I prefer fiction, I like books that feature strong female leads, and although murder-mysteries interest me, I do not care for books with gruesome details that make my skin crawl.  I enjoy historical fiction (any time period) and I don't really like fantasy.  I like good writing and books that talk about complicated issues in a simple way or books that talk about simple issues in a complicated way.  I don't really like "difficult" books.  I do like short story/essay collections, particularly by funny people.  Some of my favorite recent reads are:
-The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
-Animal Dreams (Barbara Kingsolver)
-Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingsolver)
-Water for Elephants
-Summer at Tiffany (Marjorie Hart)
-The Lacuna (okay, I'm a big Kingsolver fan)

I'm currently reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which has not yet picked up for me in a way that helps me understand what the fuss is about.  I'm considering checking out The Meaning of Wife - anybody read that?  I might also download Dan Savage's The Commitment, which sounds pretty good, but I'm always open to some good fiction recs, so lets hear them!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Real Engagements

I hope she doesn't mind, but my good friend Shannon got engaged last fall and she just posted her engagement pictures on her blog and normally I don't go for the theme shoots but this one is AMAZING, so I had to share it.  Go check it out!

I'm going to go back to packing everything into boxes, ripping CDs for the DJ, and trying to find my veil. Thanks everybody for your helpful suggestions!

Some very smart and some last minute thoughts.

I started reading bestselling books in college, because I realized something - usually, books that are popular are actually pretty good.  Sometimes they are just entertaining, but they are usually a cut above other "entertaining" books.  Anyway, I read Twilight last summer and I didn't tell anyone unless I saw them reading Twilight.  My friends make fun of Twilight and I laugh uncomfortably.  Finally, one day, I stuck up for teenage girls and told my friend that if he hadn't read the books, he should shut up, because he had no right to decide that something was terrible just because teenage girls liked it.  

So my point is, what Meg said today really resonated with me.  This is part of what I was talking about last week - and although this week, I've embraced the wedding-mania that engulfs my life, I still don't like to tell people I write a wedding blog.  Even though I write a wedding blog that has over 100 subscribers, most of whom are smart and thoughtful, I still feel silly.  I talk more about my cooking blog, which has like, 12 subscribers.  

Oh, and speaking of smart: how the hell are we supposed to pack the car for the wedding?  I mean, first of all, how do I pack? I've got one night in a hotel room with the bridesmaids, one night with Mark, and then we go on our honeymoon.  I'm thinking to pack two totally separate suitcases and just move my toiletries bag on Monday before we leave.  (Clothing suggestions for SF/SD this time of year most appreciated, btw. I have no time to think. Operating without core containment here, people.) But I also have to pack a bag for the venue with my shoes, veil, jewelry, makeup, emergency kit (I should make one of those), etc.  

And then there is  the other stuff.  Stuff like the ceremony decorations, the table numbers, the escort cards, the guestbook stuff.  My instict is to pack everything designated by region - ceremony, reception, bathroom baskets, etc. - but then there is stuff doing double duty.  My other instinct is to clearly label every box with it's contents, throw things where they fit, and then roll with it.  Any thoughts? Marrieds, what did you wish you had done, organizationally?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thought Process

This might be oversharing, but I had the following thought process a few weeks ago in Target.
"The wedding is coming up.  Maybe I should buy one of these home teeth-whitening kits.  But my friend said that it made her gums really irritated when she tried it for her wedding.  Maybe if I did one of these ones with the tray and then tried that tip from Self where I fill the tooth whitening thing with sensodyne after doing the tooth whitening, that will help.  But my teeth and gums are already pretty seriously sensitive.  This is one of those things you should probably ask a dentist about beforehand.  And I'm pretty sure mine would say, 'you already have inflamed gums. Have you been flossing?' But still, I am kind of self conscious about my incisors...but then again, will anybody really see those in photos? Wait, seriously?  I'm crazy.  Maybe instead I should consider flossing my teeth five times a week like I promised the dentist.  And not drinking soda."

My grip on reality was tenuous at best even two weeks ago - I compared it to what the Revers do in Firefly - "operating without core containment".  There is no real "track" to your thoughts, they just rattle around in your head and there is no right answer to anything.  You bounce from one task to the next and then spend the entire time you are out running errands wondering if you left the iron on this morning when you were ironing the ties for the ushers.  (This is why you bought an iron with self-shut-off, sweetie.)

Also, in general, if you don't smoke, your teeth are probably fine.  They probably don't sparkle like the people in magazines do, but you know what? You can photoshop those out just like they do.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Conquering the To-Do List

As we are 5 days away from The Wedding, I wanted to share some of my tips for conquering the to-do list.  The first is stop working.  Seriously, if you have the vacation time for it, you will need the honeymoon so much less if you take the week before the wedding off from work.  Mark doesn't have that kind of time.

First thing is, just start crossing things off.  Make a giant list of things that have to get done, and things that must be bought to get them done.  Then buy those things and just get things done. No matter if you can't totally complete the project, some is better than none.  We have been stuffing our OOT bags slowly throughout the last three weeks, and they're pretty much done.  Much better than sitting down and doing them all at once with all the things that go in them.

Second thing is, enlist help.  If help is offered, take it - yes, you do need it.  Then consult the to-do list.  Forget about things you wanted to do "by yourself" or "perfectly" or "won't take long" and just get it done.  My wonderful cousin-in-law (and my cousin) sacrificed an evening of their time last week to help me assemble escort cards.  At the last minute, I roped in my mom.  It still took us 3 hours to get everything together.  After that, I asked my parents to trek up to Baltimore and help with crafts.  They came up on Sunday and my dad stuffed favors, my sister finished off the OOT bags, and my mom and I cut and fray checked 27 bench covers.

Third thing is, when you think of something, make sure it goes on the list or in the pile.  If you are thinking, "we must remember to bring the pen to sign the ketubah", put the pen in the favor basket.  Put the favor baskets in a box so they are ready to go.  Collect everything in one place and start doing it now, because holy h*ll there is a sh*tton of stuff that needs to go to the venue.

Fourth thing is, try to break your to-do list out by days.  Make the list, then assign 2-3 tasks per day for the week - don't get all wrapped up in "it's Sunday and I'm not supposed to do programs until Wednesday" because that is not the point.  The point is to realize that you have 5 days to do 13 tasks, and you can get them done.  If you get them done early, GREAT.

Fifth thing: prioritize.  If my toss boquet doesn't get done, it doesn't get done.  If the programs don't get done, I have a pint sized disaster on my hands.

Sixth thing: take breaks.  I went to my character interview yesterday morning, went out and bought rehearsal lunch clothes and more makeup, and then came home and sat around in my bathrobe for an hour.  Sometimes you need it.

Wrong again

Last week, we had the following conversation:
"I think next week, we should try to go to bed at 9 every night like we did the week before the bar*" - Me
"That's not going to happen." - Mark
"We can do it!" - Me

Yeah, I think you can tell what happened to that plan.  I do recommend it before the bar exam though.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Makeup

I've been questing for makeup and have taken many of your suggestions and spent some time at Ulta and Sephora - here's what I have right now for the "basics" (more to come on liner, shadow, etc.)
-Brushes by Ulta and EcoTools
-Make-Up For Ever foundation - this is frustrating, because thanks to the crappy lighting in the Friendship Heights Sephora, I bought a shade two shades lighter than what I should have bought.  I'm going to try to return it.
-Tart bare 04 concealer (for undereye circles) - this gets pretty good coverage and feels less waxy than my usual wet 'n wild concealer.  They applied it for me at Sephora today and it looks really good.
-Covergirl LashBlast Water Resistant mascara - I wore this for Matt and Heather's wedding.  I sobbed through their ceremony and it held up perfectly.  I also love that I can get everyday coverage or dramatic coverage, and it doesn't make my eyelashes feel sticky or break off.  Win.

I'm also noticing some dry skin due to the change in seasons, and since I don't have time to test out drugstore brands, I bought a Clinique moisturizer while I was at Sephora today.  It's more than I usually spend on pants, so if it doesn't work, I'm writing them an angry letter.  So far though, they applied it under my makeup and I have noticed no skin flaking/peeling like I usually do, so I think it was a good investment.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am an almost-lawyer and it is worth it to look professional and not like a college kid who can't get her skin under control, so this is not just about one day.

I am out of chickens for makeup, so does anybody have any suggestions for drugstore brands of blush and a white eyeshadow/highlighter?  Until last week, I owned these things but my makeup bag has gone AWOL.  BTW, you guys are fantastic and are totally helping keep me sane right now.  Just wanted to say that, since I don't say it enough.  Sorry the blogging has gone totally sporadic, but I would rather write stuff now than have to revisit it after the wedding.  And I know some of you share our date.

Groupthink: The Shot List

Okay, on The Knot's pesky to-do list is "give your photographer a shot list".  I've already made a list of our family that we must get posed portraits of, and I trust our awesome photographer to get pictures of us cutting the cake and of the toasts, so what else should go on the shot list?  We need a massive mural picture of all of us jumping for the south wall of our apartment, right?  Something that can be blown up to 16 feet wide???

Another question: I have 116 acres at my disposal.  It would be a shame not to ask our photographer to go use the nearby tree stump for details shots, rather than just having them sit in their boring little boxes (I lie. I don't have boxes.), right?

So let me have your ideas! What shots do you love when you see them? Marrieds - what were you sad or really happy that the photographer hadn't/had caught?  What's on your shot list?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Big Tent Is Too Big For Lanterns

And for poms.
But this means, ultimately, less work for us, save the ikea trip to return the lanterns and finding the receipt.

Our venue gave us a scare yesterday when they told me that we could no longer have the ceremony where we wanted to, in the wooded picnic area.  This was heartbreaking and since I'm mature, I nearly cried.  I went out there today and determined that we will have to be more flexible, but that we can make it work.  Our guests won't be able to sit neatly in two straight rows, but we can fit everybody under the trees.  It is possible that there aren't enough benches and a few people will have to stand if they are late, but there are worse things.  Like having to get married in a field instead of the woods (why yes, I have a grasp on reality and what constitutes a disaster, why do you ask?)

I then went to the fabric store so I could buy burlap to make bench covers with and then I went to the grocery store to buy a lot of food.  Because I had kind of forgotten, but one of the groomsmen and his sister are coming to stay with us next week, and I figured it would be good to have things like cereal and sandwich meat.  In retrospect, I'm not sure that this was a good idea, but I'm really excited to see them, so yay!

Just for fun

I read an article this morning with a visualization from Wordle , so I thought I'd try it out on the blog to see what it is that we really like to talk about here...

I know, we're all so surprised by which words are the biggest.  9 days to go, and that "s" word isn't getting any smaller (no thanks to a close call with disaster involving our ceremony space)!