Tuesday, November 30, 2010

With a little bit o' luck

The morning of the wedding, Mark's mom presented me with something at the hair salon.  My SIL is getting married next summer and found out about this tradition.  Mark's aunt and uncle brought her one, but they brought me one as well.  I was pretty excited and it made me feel very included and welcomed to have them think of me like this:
Yes, that is a horseshoe.  Apparently it's good luck.  You are supposed to either incorporate it with your bouquet or tie it into your dress.  It was a little large to incorporate into my bouquet, but it tied very nicely into my bustle: 
Eventually we had to bustle my dress and the horseshoe found its way to our table for the rest of the night.  I actually carried a couple of good luck charms, including a medal from my grandmother.  Did this mean our wedding was flawless? No.  Does my superstitious little heart believe this had something to do with the absolutely perfect weather and our ability to let go and enjoy the day?  Hell yes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Photobooth Props

I was doing some holiday shopping this morning and I saw this.  I know you can make your own chalkboard, but some people are not so DIY inclined.  So head over to the PhotoJoJo store and pick yourself up a chalkboard speech bubble.  

There's a handle on the back, which strikes me as ingenious.  I think it would be fun for wedding portraits even if you don't have a photobooth.  

Coming to the Defense of the Updo

When we got engaged, I had short hair.  Not like, bob short, like, short-short.
I miss it.  I'm going back to short hair after I get a job.
Then last summer, I turned 24 and I went a little crazy.  I looked in the mirror and I felt like I had aged 10 years.  Suddenly, I had wrinkles.  It's stupid, but I felt like my haircut made me look "old".  I decided to grow it back out to a chin-length bob.  Rather than growing it out all at once and never getting a haircut, I continued getting haircuts I liked - so it took about 6-8 months for me to get my hair back to chin length.  
Or I'll go back to this length.  Maybe with bangs.
Around May, I was pretty happy with my chin length bob.  I'd even had a mini hair-trial with my stylist back in April and was pleased with the results: 

By June, my hair was long enough to put in a ponytail, which I was relieved by as summer wore on.  I got a last haircut before the bar exam, but as the campaign picked up speed, I turned to the ponytail on a daily basis to deal with my hair.  So when I sat down to my hair trial, my hair had gotten much longer and I could go for the romantic curly look that I originally really wanted.  
There's been a lot out there lately about not getting up-dos.  The latest hairstyles in the magazines are all long and loose, wavy.  That wasn't for me - I like to have my hair up.  And if there is one true statement that all the bloggers agree on, it is that you should feel like yourself on your wedding day.  A girl with long, lose wavy curls is not going to look like me.  It wouldn't have felt right and I would have been uncomfortable.  One of the secrets of having a less "updoy" updo is to have your stylist not pull your hair into a ponytail first - I didn't have enough hair for that, and simply pinning the curls to the back of your head makes everything a bit softer.  

All my bridesmaids wound up with updos and looked gorgeous as well.  


My sister's was my favorite.  I was a little jealous of hers.  I loved the way her hair wrapped around.

After the wedding, I wanted to immediately do a post-wedding chop - also known as the haircut I hadn't had time for since September.  I've held off because right now, we have better uses for that money.  

Are you getting an updo?  Do you also feel uncomfortable with the pressure to "go natural" and wear your hair down?  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Okay now.

So these two little girls came to our house for Thanksgiving.
Afterwards they played Life.  When one of them hit marriage, she opted for a "pink person" for her car.  To which my other little cousin said, "yeah, but that's okay now!"  To which everyone in my family said, "YES!!!"  

I am thankful to have a family that shares my values.  And also that bakes excellent cookies.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Sorry for the light/lame posting - actual recaps start after Thanksgiving, so for now, a few more pro-pics.  All from Kierstin of Prema Photographic.
We walked into the woods after the ceremony, for a few moments of self reflection.

I love this picture of my mom.  She looks SO happy.

Confession time: I stole my sister's bouquet.  Her's had green hypericum berries and wheat in it, and mine had burgundy hypericum and no wheat (my own fault for not closely reading the florist contract or following up with the florist after our initial meeting to say "I've changed my mind and want green berries").  So we switched the wrappings right before the ceremony.  I should have taken the leaf out of mine, but I didn't.  It's all good.

My cousin, who is exactly between my sister and I in age, gave a very sweet toast.
One of my friends, at College Thanksgiving over the weekend, said, "I can't believe how coordinated your first dance was."  I said, "did you see how much I was focused on counting? There are no pictures of my face, because I'm going, 'one two three one two three'"  But Mark looks pretty happy.  

And since it's Thanksgiving week, this is what I look like when I make the thankful face. 
(me, blubbering something like, "thank you all so much for coming, we love you so much and you mean so much to us and we're just soooo glad you're heeeeeeeeeeeere.)

Have a great Thanksgiving!  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blogworthy

So the secret to having a blogworthy wedding?
1) Pick a great photographer.  In fact, pick ours! She's now booking for 2011, happy to travel, and is ridiculously reasonable for what you get.
2) Let them blog about it.

Seriously, Kiersten picked a bunch of great pictures to showcase our wedding, and as much as our wedding wasn't really "blogworthy" to begin with, it looks pretty great in her post.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What's your bag?

Since the holidays are coming up, and there might be a few of you with DSLRs or new lenses or other gear on your wish list, I thought I'd write up a quick review of the camera bag I got for my birthday, as well as how it held up on our honeymoon.
For starters, I shoot with the Canon Rebel T1i (a little graduation gift to myself) and I use both a kit lens and a 50mm lens.  I wanted a bag that could hold at least one lens when I bought my camera bag, and maybe also work as a purse.  I bought my bag from xcesserize designs on Etsy and although it isn't perfect, it is what I had hoped it would be - a not-ugly, not-distinctive camera bag that protects my camera and lenses - for less than $100.

Around the same time, I made the best purchase I've ever made - a Domke Wrap, which is literally a square of padding that Velcros around my camera.  I usually wrap my camera in the wrap and toss it in my cavernous purse.  I don't have a good way to protect my lenses with this system, so I've been using a pair of really thick fluffy socks.  It's not ideal and I'm going to whip something up out of fleece once I get a chance.

For our honeymoon I took both my camera bag and my wrap, which I grabbed at the last second "just in case I put my camera in Mark's backpack".  My camera bag is fine, but doesn't have a protective neck strap and can kind of grate at your neck if you wear it for too long.  I also wound up shoving too much stuff in it and my LCD screen got scratched from my constantly shoving things around in my purse, but it was worth it because I changed lenses a lot on our honeymoon.
Mostly it just looks like a purse.
I can fit my Rebel with a lens attached in the main compartment in the bag, and then another lens in one of the side compartments.  It has a space for a third lens which I use for general purse items.  I would recommend it if you are looking for an inexpensive but nice looking camera bag, or a stop-gap until you figure out what you really need in a camera bag.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cleanliness

Have you guys read A Practical Wedding today?  If you haven't, go, read, and come back.  Then we'll chitchat about cleanliness and sexism.

Meg says, "I worry when I hear about most of us* doing the bulk of the chores around the house. Not because we have to, but because we want to (“I just care more about cleanliness than he does, so I need to take responsibility for that.”)"  


The asterisk explains Meg herself does not care for housework.  Neither, really, do I.  I think I've talked about this before.  I'm a slob.  In college, you couldn't see the floor in my bedroom.  Now, you can't see the floor in whatever space I call my own, be it the side of the bed, my area of the office, the zone in front of my dresser.  I live in heaps.  This isn't a healthy way to live and I'm sure the clutterbugs people would have a lot of choice words about me.  I have a lot of guy friends who are the same way - they live out of a basket of wrinkled laundry.  They don't want to vacuum, ever.  If given the choice, they would let the dirty dishes pile up next to their keyboards until they started growing mold, like I did in high school.*

I live in my own little world of squalor.  Those guys don't.  My husband doesn't pick up after me, and their wives/girlfriends do.  I say, if the dishes are a problem for you, you do them.  He says, that's not fair.  He's right.  But for so, so many of my male friends, they get to live in this relationship dynamic of, "I care more about the house being clean, so I do the cleaning."  And I don't know a single couple like us, where the guy is the neat one and the girl is the slob, where the man feels that way and picks up after his wife.  So it's not just an issue of one person "caring more".  I do really think that ultimately, this comes down to gender roles.  Women don't have a problem feeling like they have to pick up after or "take care" of their husband/the house, and they do it, and then they justify it. Men feel, very reasonably, like they are responsible for their own mess and the other person should be the same.

Over the last three years of us living together, we have navigated this minefield of cleanliness again and again.  We finally got through it a little bit by using the "this thing you do makes me feel this way" instead of saying "you're a slob", Mark says, "when you don't clean up after yourself, I feel like you don't respect me or our space".  I reply with, "when you nag me, I feel like a small child and it makes me resentful."  So over the years, the dynamic is, he puts up with more and I try harder to create/maintain less mess.  It's not perfect, but we're getting better.  I'd be lying though, if I said I didn't wish he would just clean up after me like my friend's wives/girlfriends do.

Do you see this dynamic in yourselves/your friends?  Do you clean up after your spouse?  And for our readers in same-sex relationships, how is the dynamic for you?

*Clearly, I'm a catch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poll

If you get a chance, hop over to the site and check out our new poll - I'm trying to organize the rest of our wedding recaps and would appreciate the feedback so we know how best to proceed!

Memories

So now that we have our professional pictures back, the question remains - what do we do with them?  I've already put together Snapfish photobooks to send over to the grandparents for Christmas - Snapfish had a buy 1 get 2 free deal, so it worked out nicely.  I also took advantage of Snapfish's "buy two 8x10s, get 100 prints free" deal, so 100 prints showed up last week.  Which begs the question - wtf am I going to do with 100 prints of our wedding?  It's okay you guys - I have a plan!!!

First up, photo albums for little girls - I'm going to put together small albums for our program girls as a "thank you" gift.

Secondly, photos for a few people who weren't able to make it to the wedding - they'll either get a packet, or a small album, depending on my level of energy and our finances.

Thirdly, scrapbooking.  My cousins got me a wedding planning scrapbook to put photos in, and so I'm hopefully going to put that together once we get the prints back.  I'm excited about the scrapbook because I can also put in our invitation, escort cards, programs, save the dates, and maybe print some pictures of crafting parties and other details.

Fourthly, our coffee table.  When we moved in together, I told Mark the only way I was letting his hideous coffee table live with me was if he let me refinish it.  It had a tile top which we swapped out for a custom cut piece of glass - we keep felt under the glass, and every few months we change out the pictures that go under the glass.  Over the weekend, I swapped out our engagement pictures for wedding pictures.

If this doesn't go through all of the pictures we got, I think we'll put the rest in a photo-album we got as an engagement gift.  I love photo albums, and I'm excited to have one.  

Our plan was to make a Blurb book printed with an imagewrap cover and premium paper to serve as our stop-gap wedding album, but we got a Blurb book printed with our honeymoon pictures and I wasn't a fan of the print quality.  I don't know if we'll ever get a $$$ album printed, but for right now, it seems like we could put that $1000 to better use in our day-to-day life.  

There was a discussion on twitter recently about how your kids won't want to look through DVDs and you should get a photo album.  This is true - as a kid, I spent HOURS going through old photo albums of family trips, etc.  My mom and I are different - she keeps photos in boxes, and on hard drives, and doesn't do albums.  I used to hole up on her office floor and just go through boxes and boxes.  So I want to do photo albums - I already started filling the one we got as an engagement gift with pictures from the last four years, and I think it's probably best to admit to myself that I never will make a scrapbook from most things, and just get things printed and make albums.  

How are you dealing with albums and prints?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bridesmaids Gifts

I really wanted to get my bridesmaids really nice gifts.  Gifts they would use, yes, but really nice gifts that they would use.  I wanted to get them something they would like, but wouldn't buy for themselves.  I wanted to get them something a little extravagant.  I budgeted more than many people do for bridesmaids gifts, because it was really important to me to treat my girls right.  I looked at two things - Coach wristlets, in the $50-75 range, and Tiffany jewelry, in the $100-150 range.

I will say this about Tiffany - I went in there, in my campaign t-shirt and summer doorknocking shorts and hadn't showered or slept in at least a day, and they treated me with unbelievable respect.  The saleslady treated me like I was the queen of somewhere.  She patiently showed me all of my options, let me try things on, didn't push anything, and respected my budget.  Ultimately, I didn't like any of the pieces in my price range enough.

I was on the fence, and was looking at a number of other possibilities, when I got emailed a "25% off your total purchase" coupon from Coach.  Well, I was sold - I didn't really want to just get my girls wristlets, especially because I knew two of them already had them, but I couldn't afford anything bigger.  When my sister and I were last in the Coach store (she bought me the best purse ever for graduation), she admired the Madison wristlet in silver, but eventually decided it was too impractical.  I checked it out online and saw that it came in silver, brown, purple, and orange - which were perfect colors for my four bridesmaids.
The girls all seem really happy with their wristlets and I hope they will get a lot of use out of them.  The Madison wristlet is more like a small purse and can actually be converted into one if you hook the strap to the other side.

I will also say this about shopping at the Coach store - their customer service is also top-notch, and they wrapped and boxed the wristlets and then gave me gift bags to put them in.  I had to do minimal thinking.  I feel badly though, because I did not write them all wonderful notes about how fantastic they are.  But I have a plan for doing that, so it's okay.

I didn't have a good time for giving them to the girls, so I gave them to them at midnight right before the wedding, when we were all stressed out.  It was poorly executed, and I won't show you the pictures because everybody looks really tired, but there were big smiles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ceremony: Or What Nobody Tells You About Getting Married

Our ceremony was awesome, but truthfully, it was also a surprise and it was totally nerve wracking.  You are told that the ceremony is the most important part, that it is this Big Solemn Thing and a Big F*cking Deal to get married and it is serious and people who don't take their marriages seriously get divorced and you must focus on paying attention and being present and feeling everything that happens to you.  You will expect to feel somber and like the weight of marriage has descended upon you.

I call bullshit.

Okay, for starters, our ceremony was fun.
I wrote our ceremony based on our church pamphlet, Mark gave his thoughts, and then I plagarized a lot from Cupcake Wedding and Weddingbee to make it right.  Our ceremony was very personal and we picked readings that meant a lot to us.  But even with a totally personal ceremony, it's really hard to feel comfortable. I mean, first of all, everyone you know is there and they are all staring at you!  

Secondly, you rehearse, but you don't rehearse specific things.  Like, we talked about whether we would face the Reverend or each other, and then wound up standing all awkward like.  I highly recommend at least having a conversation, so you're in agreement.  Decide how close to each other you will be - I felt like we were uncomfortably far away from each other.  

You might not feel entirely present during the ceremony.  Especially if you are thinking, "why aren't we holding hands and standing closer to each other?" Then you will be super awkward and put out your hand for him to hold.  He will not take the hint that you have suddenly changed your mind about facing each other and would instead like to stand facing the minister and two feet closer than you are right now.  You will worry that he doesn't want to hold your hand at all and YOU ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG.

It's okay to talk to each other.  I really wish I had just said something like, "you're too far away".  Nobody could hear us, since we were outside, and it would have made things easier.

Mark also spent a lot of the ceremony avoiding eye contact.  His totally lame excuse later was that he couldn't look at me without crying (collective awwww).  I was just worried he was having second thoughts.  So don't be surprised if this happens to you.

I was focusing so much on staying present and listening intently that at one point, Mark just looks at me and says, "don't look so scared."  At which point, I cracked up.

So my point is, don't expect to feel a certain way.  You are who you are, both as an individual and as a couple.  Honor that.  Laugh.  As soon as we started laughing during the wine and chocolate ceremony, I felt better.  When we recessed, we joked around as well.  Then we ran off into the woods, literally.

Remember - be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Do what you like. Like what you do.

After the primary campaign was over, I realized how much I hadn't been running or working out in a healthy way.  I started lacing up my sneakers again and got out on the pavement.  It felt really good to be able to run again, but wedding planning began edging it's way in.  Go to the gym? I had favors to stuff!

I had, and would advise you to do the same, religiously kept the weekend before our wedding completely open. I was unwilling to say "we'll do crafting on the 3rd" until about a week before.  I knew I would need time that weekend for projects, and also time to take for myself so I didn't have to stress out for a week.  I knew we would need a break.  So when Mark planned his bachelor party for Friday and Saturday, and my friend asked me if I'd like to go for an 11-mile run on the BWI trail, I said yes.

As a runner, I will tell you, going on an 11-mile run is not very advisable when the most you have run in 6 weeks is 5 miles.  But I was so sick of feeling lazy and out of shape and I was really tired of people telling me things I could and couldn't do that I decided to go for it.  As I was pre-emptively taking pain relievers, making sure I had water, and gearing up, I thought, "this is a terrible idea."  I warned my friend that we would need to take it slowly.  We settled for a run-walk plan of something like 20-30 minutes running, walking for 5-10 minutes.  We finished the run in around 2 hours and despite some lingering hip soreness and foot pain, I felt really good.  Then I came home, took an ice bath, and a nap, and didn't think about the wedding.

Overall, the run did something really good for me - it reminded me that I am badass and about more than this wedding, but more importantly, it reminded me that I had a life to come back to after the wedding.  I had half-marathon training plans and speed goals that awaited our return and I had friends I wanted to spend time with.    It's really easy to get wrapped up in wedding planning, but it's really important to remind yourself that there are goals beyond the wedding that you want to reach.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PSA

We went to Men's Warehouse on Monday because our using them for tux rental earned Mark a free suit.  (It's navy blue and he looks so sharp!)  As we were checking out, the saleslady told us, "and anytime, you can just bring it back here and we'll press it for free."  We were shocked, and she said, "you didn't know we did that?"  I asked if we could bring back his tux and she said "of course!"  So when I go to pick up his new suit next week, I'm going to take back his tux for pressing before we put it away.  Of course, his tux is going back in his closet and he'll be wearing it next summer.  Menswear is so much more practical.  I've been told that showing up in my wedding dress for my SIL's wedding would just be rude.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shoes

A lot of people looked at me in disbelief when I talked about my wedding shoes.
I heard things along the lines of, "tevas?" "plaid?" "wedges?" but you know what? I was comfortable and walking was easy.  And nobody noticed.  The only pictures you can see my shoes in?
And they look just fine.  So go forth and be comfortable.  Seriously.  
I changed into my fancy heels for the dancing, and even though my dress had been hemmed to my slightly lower wedges, it wasn't noticable and made it easier to not trip on my skirt during the reception.  
I think one person commented on my shoes.  And they at least pretended to like them.  You also couldn't see my blue toes, so win.  Oh, and I spent $60 on two pairs of shoes I can wear again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bottoms up!

When we looked for a wedding venue, we wanted to make sure we found a place that let us bring our own beer and wine.  This was for two reasons - one is that Mark likes really good beer, and I support liking really good beer even though I don't drink it; and the second is that I like wine that tastes like juice and they never have it at open bars.
I knew that BYOB would be manageable, because every year I help my old nonprofit with it's annual gala and my job is to bring enough beer and liquor for 450 people.  I wasn't willing to take it to beer/wine/signature drink because that added a level of exhaustion to my thought process.  I also don't know anyone who won't drink beer, wine, or juice-wine.  Most people that like sweet cocktails rather than wine or beer will drink Moscato or Riesling.
For our alcohol, I went up to Beltway Liquors in Towson.  I had been told over the phone that they had "party planning specialists" who would help me decide how much wine we needed and what to serve.  The person I spoke with wasn't that helpful, but I was glad to talk to him.  The one complaint I have about Beltway is that on the phone, I was told that we could order stuff and it took about a week.  When I talked to the party planning specialist, he told me that it would take longer.  This was 10 days before the wedding, so I had to buy off the rack.
We had taste tested reds and whites at a dinner party and decided to serve a Yellowtail Shiraz-Cab blend as our red and Mallee Point Chardonnay as our dry white.  I wanted a moscato and some semi-sweet Terrapin Station Cayuga White as the other two.
Beltway only had a case of the Yellowtail, so I got Gumdrop or Gumtree or something Shiraz and also Mallee Point Shiraz to round out the selection.  I was worried about not having all the same of a wine, but when I thought about it, I decided that wasn't a key concern.  They also only had 4 boxes of the Cayuga White, which is equivalent to 8 bottles.  They had plenty of the Mallee Point chardonnay, so that wasn't an issue.  When we went to pick out the Barefoot Moscato, the specialist suggested I go with SteepleJack instead.  It was $2 cheaper per bottle and was "flying off the shelves", he explained.  I had had it before and liked it, and we were trying to save money here, so I took two cases.  We have a case leftover from the wedding (not everyone likes juice-wine) and I wouldn't let Mark return it because it's so delicious.  And really, it's $6 a bottle, and with the 10% case discount?

And the beer?  The beer is where we got really smart.  When you have a wedding in the Maryland area and you do BYOB, your go-to beer should be Yuengling.  Yuenlging is cheap, but it's really good.  A lot of my friends love it, and it's usually their "go-to" cheap draft beer.  The rest of the lineup was Heavy Seas Gold Ale (which at least 3 of my friends have commented on how happy they were that we had), Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, and Victory Prima Pils.

All of the beer was (fairly) locally brewed, which is good because our wine mostly ended up coming from Australia.  I wish I'd been more committed to finding a red and white from Virginia, but towards the end of the wedding, some of our environmental concerns got laid by the wayside in favor of cost and convenience.  

We also decided at the last minute to add a case of cider.  I wanted to get Original Sin because it's a fun name and it's from New York, so it's sort of local.  Beltway's only cider options were Strongbow and Woodchuck though, so I went for Strongbow, which is an old favorite of mine.  A number of people commented on how thrilled they were that we had cider, and at the end of the night when I was standing around watching people clean up and not being allowed to help, I got the last bottle from the bar, so at least it was popular.

Going with the selection of beer we went with helped with a few things - first of all, it helped me feel less cheap for only serving beer and wine - which we did because it was easier, not because it was cheaper.  (Plus we were having a Sunday afternoon wedding and I didn't really think people would go through the hard alcohol.)  It also made our guests really happy.  My friends who aren't normally heavy beer drinkers tried at least two of the beers - one of them said to me later, "I didn't try the wine at your wedding - usually I drink wine at weddings, but you had so many interesting beers!"  It also cut down on the wine consumption - we only had 2 cases of beer left, and had several cases of wine left at the end.  We got $200 back from Beltway when we returned all the wine, which was nice.

Overall, stocking the bar cost around $800 (original output was $1000).  We could have spent $500 or so on it, but since our motivation for serving our alcohol was to have control and serve what we liked, not just to save money, we had a bigger budget for the bar.  We paid a bartender and had the venue provide soda, water, and a delicious aqua fresca (because I come from a family of non-drinkers).

Are you doing your own bar?  Did you find it to save you a lot of money or just mean you got what you wanted?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rings!

There is a lot of chit-chat over on APW today about engagement rings and wedding bands.  I didn't expect to want a wedding band, but I really really love mine.  It's just a simple palladium band, and I love that it's small enough that I can wear it to run and bike and play hockey, which I can't do with my engagement ring.  I'm really glad we didn't end up going with a custom band that could only fit with my engagement ring.
(on our honeymoon - and yes, my manicure held up great!)
(It fits surprisingly well with my engagement ring, considering my ring's considerable bulk and slight asymmetry) 
We even got ring shots done - there were all kinds of hay bales around the venue, and our photographer took advantage:
(by Prema Photographic)
I had thought originally, before we even got engaged, that once we were married I would just wear a wedding band.  But because my engagement ring is fairly band-like in it's design, I have found that I really like continuing to wear it.  Most people don't notice the wedding band and engagement ring together, but very few people ever looked at my engagement ring and asked me when I was getting married.  They just said, "what a cool ring!"  At which point I brag excessively about my awesome husband.

Do you wear an engagement ring and wedding band or just the band or just the e-ring?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tears of Joy

So you know how you're supposed to get your fiance a gift on your wedding day?  Well, when your fiance is British, and you fancy yourself super-crafty, it's not that hard to figure out what to get him.  I ordered a package of 5 handkerchiefs from Amazon and picked up some embroidery floss, then sat down while Mark was off on his bachelor party and wrote witty things on fabric with needles.  Turns out I am neither witty nor good at embroidery.  Then, I put them in the box in order of which ones I did first (and badly) and then the best ones on top.
In case you didn't know, 101010 is binary for 42. The answer to life, the universe, and everything.  
I wrote a note, that said, among other things, "make sure you bring an extra handkerchief for me", which was totally necessary during the ceremony and the toasts.  


I sent our photographer upstairs with the box and note and specific instructions to photograph his reaction and then bring my gift back to me.  Because we had discussed exchanging gifts.  

I got this note instead. The inside said "can't wait." The outside explained my gift:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holiday Cards

So, it's been a pretty crazy year, to be completely honest.  Between the graduating, the bar, the moving, the election, and the getting married, it's been a big year.  Life is finally slowing down and the holidays are right around the corner.  For the last three years, I have made my own Christmas cards.  I'm not organized about it and it's generally a disaster.  Sitting upstairs in my room are 3 cards I just found that never made it out the door last year.  The idea of dealing with that much stress again this year? No thank you.

This year, we are sending photo-cards.  They will double as wedding announcements for people who were unable to make it to the wedding, and they mean no writing heartfelt notes inside the cards (heartless? Maybe, but seriously, we just wrote 90 heartfelt thank you cards).

Once we had decided on a photo-card, the question remained: what company to use?  My parents use Ritz but I don't really like their options. Then I saw Christiana's post about Shutterfly's 50-free-cards promotion and decided to participate.  In looking through their website, I found a number of designs I really like.
Of the "standard" Christmas photo-cards, this one is definitely my favorite - I'm a big fan of non-denominational holiday cards, and I like that there would be a bit of space to write some kind of affectionate greeting on the bottom.  And how cute is the little red bird?
My favorite by far though came from the slightly-more-expensive lineup of holiday stationary cards.  There is something about the ribbon and the little tag on it that is just so cute!  Plus the green and cranberry colors are in our wedding palette, so it wouldn't be too weird.
I also really like the New Year's cards they have - I personally relish the idea of saying goodbye to 2010 like this card does: 
And another thing I will say for Shutterfly is this - their invitations are great! My friend's bridesmaids used an invite for her shower and I was really impressed by the quality of the invitation.  I'm hosting a baby shower for our friend sometime in the spring and would love to use these invites.  But if you aren't throwing a baby shower, don't worry, you can check out their selection of holiday invites - if we were classier people who had parties, we would be sending these out to invite people to some kind of holiday festivity:
So now it's just a question of picking an image.  Votes?



In other news...

(from our wedding weekend 5k)

I passed the bar! 

With this, the events of what I affectionately call, "the most stressful year of my life", are finally drawing to a close.  Christmas will be business-as-usual (but with fun holiday cards - stay tuned!).  What's next? Eager job-hunting and maybe some actual wedding recaps (but tell the truth - how are you liking the format we've been going with? Would you rather just have really boring traditional recaps? Because if people want those, I'll do them in addition to what I've been doing.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lessons: Things you should do RIGHT NOW

Okay, here is the list of things you should be doing RIGHT NOW.  If you are in a wedding lull period, if you are a procrastinating, if you are agonizing over bridesmaids dresses or wedding hairstyles, you need to be doing these things now.  These are things I wished, as we got closer to the wedding, I had just done when I was thinking about it, or things that I was really glad we had taken care of and I didn't have to think about.
1.) Write your program text.  Even if you don't format it, write the text, so it's ready to go when you do pick a fancy design or when you call it a day and print everything on a folded sheet of paper.
2.) Write up a weekend timeline.  Even if it's just a draft - now is not the time to worry about being fancy, just get things on paper.  I highly recommend making it a Google Doc so you can just share it with you FI and your bridal party.
3.) Make your shot list. At the very least, a list of the people in your family you want pictures of for formal portraits. I wound up making a relatively controlling one at the end of the day, saying, "please make sure to try to get this type of picture", which made me feel awful but also relieved.
4.) Pick and/or download fonts to use.  Something readable but still fancy, whatever.  They don't all have to be the same, you can just pick stuff you like.  We used the same script for the escort cards, signs, and program cover but some people find that nauseating.  Regardless, you should have these at your fingertips for when you realize something needs to be drafted or designed.  Don't waste time later trying to find the perfect font.
5.) Make signs for things you might want to have around the reception area - sign for guestbook, sign for reserved seating, signs for favors, whatever.  Just do them, or at least the text.  Then use your downloaded fonts.  Save the file - you don't have to print them just yet, the point is to take care of it.
6.) Pick readings or readers.  We didn't do this early enough and wound up feeling like it was too late to ask anybody but the wedding party (who, at the rehearsal, we told, "hey, you're doing a reading." We kind of suck.)

Any other "do it, do it now" advice I missed?  I'm serious here - if you don't do these things now, you'll be even more stressed right before the wedding because you didn't take care of it six months ago.  We wrote our weekend timeline back in May and when October rolled around, it was a relief to just make a few edits and have it be good to go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cake!

So it's been more than 3 weeks since the wedding, which means that Mark's ex-girlfriend probably didn't poison me.  (I still can't believe how many people said that!)  Our cake was delicious though.  And beautiful.  I bet you didn't think a cake with columns wouldn't look tacky, but I think our master cakestress did a fantastic job making a column cake not look like an 80s wedding movie fiasco.  
Photo by Prema Photographic
I also love that somebody had the foresight to put the cake on one of the table squares that Mark's mom made, and that our cakestress served the cake on a beautiful wooden cutting board (that is now on our counter at home.)  
Oh yeah, and it was delicious.  We took a couple pieces back to the hotel (and the entire top tier, which we had said not to save.)  At 6:30 the next day, I woke up starving and hungrily ate my piece of cake.  We took the remaining pieces of cake to the post-wedding brunch.  Sadly, we forgot to take any to freeze, but we'll get over it.  

The cake toppers came to us at the last minute at my bridal shower - Mark's mom found them at 10,000 Villages (I think) and they magnet together, kissing.  They were placed wrong on the cake at first, so the metal mouths looked funny, but we fixed them right before cutting the cake so they are "right" in the pictures.  In the end, I'm glad we had cake toppers but I highly recommend using salt and pepper shakers - it's a very green way to have cake toppers, and they come in pairs.  If you like animals, the San Diego Zoo has some really nice ones.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Win.

Yesterday, you may have heard, was election day.  My candidate/cousin won, which means 5 months of extremely hard work has paid off and now Marylanders will reap the rewards.  Woo.
Many many thanks to my husband, who has sacrificed a lot to support me and this campaign that I have believed so strongly in and the victory we worked so hard for.  Since I'm too tired to put together a post, I'm just giving you one of my favorite pictures.
(Photo by Prema Photographic)
If you worked on a campaign, thank you.  No matter the party, no matter the outcome, when people get involved, it makes for better races, better candidates, and more engaged voters.  Except the psycho woman at our polling place who kept knocking over our signs and then lecturing us to be civil.  She's not helping anybody.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pre Wedding Craft Enlistment

So, the week before the wedding, after drafting my mother and cousin into making escort cards with my cousin's wife and I, I realized the wedding projects would be slow going.  I came home and drafted my parents immediately for wedding duty on the following Sunday.  So after a lunch of sushi from Wok & Roll (not as good as Matsuri but open for lunch on Sunday), I put everybody to work.  Mark and Julian went downstairs to work on their own project, and my family stayed upstairs.

My sister finished up our Out Of Town Bags.  The out-of-town bags were originally to be bags, with a reusable water bottle or two, some trail mix, some granola bars, and a few mints and maybe some Tylenol.  I was on the fence about the Tylenol until we got to Matt and Heather's wedding and I had a splitting headache.  Tylenol, I decided, was a must for weary travelers.  Anyway, at some point, after being annoyed about having to spend $1 per bag on an out-of-town bag, we realized that we could just stuff everything into the water bottles.  So voila:
My sister made the little tags a while ago at our May crafting party, and then tied them onto the bottles with ribbons and stuffed in our out-of-town sheets.  I had been filling the bottles as I bought the items at Costco (except the Tylenol, which I had to Amazon Prime) - each bottle, which cost $1 at the dollar store had a nature valley granola bar, a trail mix package, 4 or 5 spearmint lifesavers (the entire bottles smelled like spearmint, btw), and two packets of Tylenol.  I know I ate all the trail mix in my water bottle, took two of the Tylenol, and ate all of the mints, so mostly these were a success.  Since we had two wedding hotels, I reserved 6 bottles to take to the other hotel and never got around to it - I don't know if we ran out at the main hotel, but I know that enough people got them and appreciated them that I call them a win.  Another advantage was that when I took them to the hotel, I only had to carry in one large and bulky box, not several boxes of large and bulky bags.

We also put my dad to work assembling the favors, which were to be served in two "harvest baskets" - we would have Lindor Truffles and Jordan Almonds (brought from Egypt and 10x better than anything you can buy in the store).  We had my Dad wrap the Jordan Almonds.  I was pessimistic about how many we had, and only bought 4 dozen bags.  My dad yelled out, halfway through "I've run out of bags."  I was like "what else can we use? I'm so sick of going to Michaels!!!"  My sister came to the rescue and cut squares of tulle.  My dad, game player that he is, filled the tulle squares and then carefully tied bows.  My dad really loves me, you guys.  Also Jordan Almonds, but he did not eat them.  Which is more than I can say of either me or my sister.
That Lindor Truffles basket was a bit lower by the time it made it to the wedding, and I found the third bag which I was planning to use to refill it, on the floor near the table when we got home the morning after.  What a delicious oops.  

My mom and I set about making chair covers - I cut, and she fraychecked, an entire bolt of burlap.  Then we rolled them up and secured them with rubberbands, which would be used to attach them to people's seats.  Here is how they looked on the benches:
And the way the rubberbands worked:
(by Prema Photographic)

If we had more time and more fray-check, I would have fraychecked all of them, but we wound up just doing the short ends.  They were unraveling quite a bit, but Irvine happily took them as a donation for future events and I hope they come in handy for at least one other wedding.  (Also, this was not an expensive undertaking because the woman at JoAnn checking me out scanned in a 50% off coupon when I complained I had forgotten mine - I saved $36.)  The whole 27 covers took 3 bottles of Fray-Check to just do the ends and having looked at the benches the day before (some of which had squashed stinkbugs on them, etc), I'm really glad we took this on.  

We also took care of small but necessary crafts, like rewrapping the ribbons from my sisters table number holders so that they would be green and blue.  I also finally sat down and took care of cutting all of the dried wheat and grasses for the centerpieces to be the right length - a task I was really glad later that I took care of then.  There was one other craft project we put my mom to work on, but I'll wait until I start the "real recaps" to show that one off.
See? Can't you tell how hard my sister worked on the ribbons?  (by Prema Photographic)
The dried wheat and grass was originally twice the length it needed to be. (by Prema Photographic)

The craft day was also helpful because I got a chance to go over the final wedding-day timeline with my parents so that they could fully understand what was going to happen at the wedding.  I highly recommend trying to take an opportunity like this one to touch base with your family and keep them in the loop.  When you let them help you with crafts as well (just don't be a control freak, kay? Parents aren't perfect.), they are more included in the wedding and will feel more ownership of the day itself.