Friday, January 29, 2010

Feel Good Friday: Supporting Local Business

So recently I have been soliciting donations for my school's silent auction, happening next weekend. I solicited local businesses here in Federal Hill, and one that was kind enough to donate was Lucinda Gallery on S. Charles St.
One thing I noticed in the shop as the owner kindly wrapped up the beautiful oil painting she was donating was the hand-painted wine glasses. I asked about them, and the owner explained that she does art for custom wine glasses and toasting flutes, which are then dishwasher safe. The coolest part is that she will do them on any glasses that you bring to her, so you only pay for the artwork. So yes, you can buy ikea wine glasses to use as toasting flutes and have them decorated.
She suggested something else that a lot of people do, which is make a set for the members of the bridal party, and then the bridal party keeps the glasses. I really like the idea of doing this - so they would come out something like these (although probably with a dragonfly instead of the monogram):

and since we're sitting the bridal party with their dates, everybody that would want one would get a set of two glasses.
Shopping at a place like Lucinda is a great way to give back to your local community, and for me, is a great way to support somebody who made such a generous donation.

How do you like to support local businesses in your community? How are you planning to incorporate them into your wedding planning?

Photography Meeting #2: Prema Photographic

Our second meeting was with Kiersten Rowland of Prema Photographic. I'm going to now say something about Kiersten that will have the wedding photographers out there getting mighty nervous. Kiersten is a family friend. Her parents go on vacation with Mark's parents. She is Bridesmaid L.'s best friend. She is also a professional wedding photographer who recently launched her own wedding business after spending time as a photojournalist. When I first met Kiersten, I thought she was too cool. She was heading off to South America to do photography after college, and I just thought she was awesome. She's also incredibly nice, and she really, really loves weddings. Kiersten is the friend-with-a-camera that you want so badly to shoot your wedding that you stalk her blog, message her on Facebook, and finally sit down and sign the contract. Which we did on Tuesday.

When we got engaged, Kiersten's name came up in our discussions of potential photographers. But at the time, she wasn't shooting weddings - she was a photojournalist. I was afraid to hire somebody who didn't specialize in weddings - and then Kiersten started to shoot weddings. She would post pictures from some of them on Facebook and I thought they were nice. We talked a little bit about doing an engagement shoot sometime last fall, but the timing was poor, so we put it off. Then Kiersten's official photography blog and business launched, and she started to put up some of her pictures. Once I saw this wedding, I was sold. Kiersten describes her photography style as modern and emotional. It is the perfect description, and since I the thing I wanted the most on film at the end of the day was all the ways we felt during the day, I knew I wanted to go with Kiersten.

Oh, I'm sorry, did you want to see more of her work? These were some more of her shots that made me absolutely sure that she was right for us:
I plan to look this happy on our wedding day, and I want to remember that. This bride is positively glowing, and she looks thrilled, and it's beautifully captured.
I have no idea what is going on in this picture, but they just look like they're having so much fun.
Look - you can see her dress move and swish! You can see how happy they are!

I love photography because when it's done right, you can feel everything that is happening in the pictures. In the top picture, can't you just hear the bride tapping the mike, getting everybody's attention, to thank them all for coming? In the second photograph, I hear the laughter. And in the last shot, I hear the soft ruffle of tulle as the bride and groom walk, giddily, into their reception. That we could get all of this beauty from somebody we already knew and liked and who liked us? Score!

So now lets talk honestly about money. Kiersten is a steal at twice the price, but for now, packages start at $1950, and you should hire her now while she's still on the rise. Kiersten has second shot for Punam Bean at several weddings, so not only does she have experience shooting solo weddings, she has experience second shooting with an amazing photographer, both experiences that I think are invaluable in the "risky" world of hiring an up-and-coming photographer (but trust me, she's not a risk). So go on, go check her out!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Finance followup

Right behind our conversation about the mechanics of managing money as a married couple comes this post from newlywed Baltimore Sun blogger Liz Kay looking for advice on the same subject. Be sure to check out the comments - whichever approach you're leaning toward, there's someone there with an anecdote to support it.

Photography Meeting #1: Square Root of Red

We only met with two photographers. One was Michele from Square Root of Red photography. Michele appealed to us because she was a good photographer with a lot of photography experience and technical skill but her prices were really close to our small photography budget. If you go to her website, you'll see that she starts at $1500. Michele has a day job (she's a lawyer!) and that allows her to keep her prices lower than photographers who are trying to make a living off of their business which has it's own pros and cons, and comes down to your personal expectations of your photographer.

The thing is though, the real reason I wanted to meet with Michele wasn't her price point - it was the honesty with which she approached her business practice. Her blog is awesome - she talks about the edits she makes, the software she uses, and her process. She also shares other fun wedding details, like renting bridesmaid dresses and how to make your own photobooth. When I emailed her, she was responsive and she really understood what I was asking when I asked about things like her style.

Oh, and then there was that thing that we would be hiring a photographer to do - take awesome pictures:

So when we met with Michele, I did everything you shouldn't do, according to the knot, and everything that felt right, according to me. I didn't bring a list. I asked the questions that mattered to me. Mark asked the questions that mattered to him. We talked about photography style and philosophy, we talked about lighting, we talked about the day itself. We talked about daytime vs. nighttime, we talked about posed portraits vs. letting the moment happen, we talked about Square Root of Red and where Michele saw it going. We talked about time and how many weddings she books. We talked about why she photographs weddings. We talked about what she shoots on and second shooters and all of that. Another thing I really liked about Michele was her personality. The wedding industry is an industry that lends itself to really artistic people who can be difficult for people like lawyers and engineers to interact with. Michele comes across as throughly practical and realistic, and just artsy enough. One of the first things I asked her was, "why weddings?" Her response was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for - there's something really nice about photographing people at their happiest. I liked that, because who wants to hire a wedding photographer that hates weddings?

After the meeting, I emailed Michele to ask for a copy of her contract and whether we could see a full wedding that she's shot, from start to finish. I think that these are the two most important things to ask for - anyone can put the 10 great pictures from a wedding on their blog or portfolio; but you want more than 10 great shots from your wedding. A contract is key because a lot of the stupid questions they say to ask are easily ascertained in the standard photography contract.

We really liked Michele, but ultimately we decided on someone else, who I will post about tomorrow (oh the suspense!) But you should totally consider hiring her if you live in the DC or Baltimore area, because she is really awesome.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blogging Awards

Alright, it's time to come clean. I know a few of you have nominated us for these new "blog awards" that are becoming a thing, but until now they felt a little too much like old school chain letters. However, I was just thinking about how many of you have blogs that I have recently discovered and I love, and I received this award from Miss Fancy Pants:

And, how wonderful, the rules instruct you to give the award to blogs you have recently discovered. So this, probably, is the only time I will choose to actually accept and pass on one of these awards, by which I mean I'm using it as an excuse to say "somebody likes me! ha!" and also to point the rest of our readers in the direction of some truly awesome blogs. Also, for what it's worth, I have found many of these blogs through comments here, because I love your comments and so I follow you to your blog. Really, I do love comments. They're like crack. You guys are the best. Really.

There are rules. I'm not really following them. But if you are a rules-following-type, which based on your comments, most of you are not, here they are so you can repost them when you brag about how much somebody likes you.

1. To accept the award, you must post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted you the award, and a link to their blog.
2. Pass the award on to approximately 10-15 other blogs that you recently discovered, and think are great!
3. Contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Ms. Awesome Weds (also Miss Stripe on WeddingBee)

Our Photography Hunt: Priorities

In this post, I mentioned reading a couple different perspectives on photography, and it was interesting to think about this as we went through our photographer search. There is one side of the photography debate, which I'll call the photo-priority side. There is another side which I'll call the bucking convention side. I loved reading both of these posts for some perspective as we went into our search and I tried to ground myself in what we wanted, not what other people wanted. It's always good to remember that we are all different, and blogs aren't bibles to live by, so just because others were spending 20% of their budget on photography didn't mean we needed to. And there is nothing wrong with any of us!
For us, not having professional photography was not an option. This was for a few reasons, mostly because I've been to weddings and events with my family members and friends, and I either never see the pictures, or there aren't enough really good shots to make up for not having a pro. We'll potentially be asking a few friends with DSLRs to play second shooter during the cocktail hour, but I wanted there to be a person whose entire job it was to take pictures to be the one responsible for capturing the day. Yes, this probably isn't something that we need to spend thousands on, but since that's the going rate, that's what we'll be spending. I wish that comfortable shoes didn't cost more than $30, but they do, so I buy them. Some things are just a matter of market.
I always thought that I would value photography the most and that would be the financial priority. Photographs are the only thing that lasts after the wedding is over, and I really really love great photography. The thing I found interesting though, as I perused wedding blogs, other bloggers and I didn't have the same idea of great photography. Other blogger's idea of great photography included photographers that take hazy, vintage-looking photographs, with an almost sunwashed hue, or photos that involved blurry, out of focus shots. I like the out of focus shots, as art, but I also like the idea that in 50 years, I won't be looking at a hazy picture of my grandmother from the wedding and thinking, "gee, I wish I had a clear picture." Photography is both art, and a way to capture life, and I sometimes think the two don't meet. Truthfully, I don't think I will look at our wedding pictures and regret that they aren't art. Ultimately, photographs capture a moment in time, and the right picture, the right moment, will always make you feel like you felt the moment it was taken. I think I would regret not having those moments more than I would regret not having art.
I also started to learn more about photography generally, because I've spent three years in law school to chuck it all and become a starving artist...not really, but I do really want to learn to take better pictures. I took photography in high school and it interests me. So I sat down to think about what I really wanted in a photographer. This might seem kind of selfish, but I was pretty sure that Mark and I had the same general taste, and that my criteria was going to be pickier because I knew more about photography and what it could do. So I made a list, and I set out to find a photographer that could do all of that, within our measly photography budget.
I wanted pictures that captured emotions.



I wanted pictures that captured how much fun the party was.

I wanted pictures that captured how much we love our bridal party.

I wanted pictures that captured how much we love each other.

And so I started our hunt with these things in mind. (All of these photographs are from photographers I looked at during the process. In order, from top down, the first two are Prema Photographic, then Murial Silva, Paired Images, and Lara Swanson.)

What were your priorities? Do you want pictures or do you want art? Did you make photography a budget buster or a budget saver?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TV inspired hair

Okay, so I know that I said I'm not growing my hair out, and also that I wasn't gonna show off my hairstyle possibilities so they would be a secret....but I have to share these.
How many of you watch Chuck? I want to see everybody's hand up.
Anyway, if you watched a couple weeks ago and saw Chuck vs. The Angel de la Muerte and I realized that while Sarah's hair isn't bad, and she is certainly beautiful:
Ellie's hair is exactly how I want to wear my hair for the wedding. It's romantic, but still pulled back, and it looks different from the front than it does every day. It's classic without being vintage (because vintage works for some people, but not others).
So here's the real question - how do I mimic this kind of look with my chin length bob? Which may or may not be a shoulder length bob by the time October comes around, depending on my stylists new rates....but regardless, I may not have enough hair. So here's the call for inspiration for similar romantic styles for short hair. (And please - nothing that looks like this...) So come, brainstorm with me!

What does Elope mean?

So I was sitting at lunch a few days before Christmas with two old friends, and the talk turned to weddings. But they were two boys, so the wedding talk wasn't the usual shoesandflowersomg! We talked food and who from my high school I'm going to invite. Then I griped about weddings and made a comment about how we should just elope. P. says, "or just go to the Justice of the Peace." The other two of us just looked at him and said, "that is eloping." So then we got into a discussion of eloping. P. said he thought it meant you had to go somewhere, like Vegas, or Virginia and I said it just meant "fast, quiet, or small."

The reason that people think eloping means going away probably has to do with the waiting periods and other requirements for a marriage license required in certain states. For example, in DC, you need to get tested for STIs. In Maryland, you have to wait 3 days between a license and the ceremony. In Virginia, there is no waiting period, so people from this area frequently elope to Virginia and several Virginia hotels offer "elopement packages". Vegas is the same way, what with it's drive-thru chapels.

(I would elope here too!)
There is some discussion that we have "bastardized" elopement by creating elopement packages and selling elopement as not-just-city-hall, but I think that ignores the origins and intent of eloping. Some couples plan elaborate destination elopements, which take months of forethought. They simply don't want to deal with family drama, or they don't want to have a wedding. Some people elope because it is a way to separate the commitment you are making to another person from the party part of wedding planning, which is what causes the drama and the stress. I'm in favor of elopement for those that want/need it - and while I think that elopement packages might border on ridiculous, for people that want to avoid the stress, buying a package just makes the whole wedding thing go away. (Although having to book 6 months in advance does defeat the "fast" purpose of eloping.)

How do you define elopement?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Will your daughter wear your dress?

My mom's dress was the first wedding dress I tried on. Ever, and also after we got engaged.
I'm not gonna lie to you guys. It wasn't pretty.
Lets start with some simple numbers. My mom was a size 3 in 1975 when she got married. I was a size 8 in 2010 sizes.
If it was just an issue of sizing, it probably could be dealt with. However, it was also an issue of...well, everything. The long sleeves, where the waistline fell, how even though the waist was at the natural waist, the lace overlay on the bodice came to my hips. I love the idea of wearing the same dress that my mother and my grandmother wore. But I hated the idea of feeling fat and dumpy in my wedding dress. It's a beautiful dress, and my mother looked stunning, and someday I might post pictures of my parents' wedding. Today, sadly for you, is not that day.
But I saw this post on Eco Chic Weddings and it talked about picking classic styling so that somebody else can wear your dress.

(Lets pretend for a second that this short dress fit me and looked good. Do I think for a second that my daughter would want to wear it in 30 years? No.)
The thing is though, there is simply no guarantee that my daughters will want to wear my dress. Or that I will have girls at all. (There is even less guarantee I will have a cross-dressing son.) Or that my girls will have weddings. Or that we won't get divorced and my kids won't think my wedding dress has bad karma. Also, my dress doesn't have classic styling. So realistically, keeping the dress would be entirely sentimental. And man, that's a lot of closet space to devote to sentiment.
The answer, for me, on all fronts, seems to me to be the simplest: sell the dress after the wedding. Sell it to somebody else who wants the trendy styling now. Don't bank on your kids wanting to wear it. It's much greener to sell or donate your dress than to let it sit in your closet for your imaginary child to never wear. In my case, I doubt I would be able to get back more than half of what I paid for my dress if I sell it, but I get the added benefit of helping another girl get a really nice dress for a low price.

I'm curious to know though - what are other people's feelings about this? Why are you or aren't you keeping your dress?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rejection Bites

The least favorite task related to wedding planning for me is rejecting vendors. I know some people would rather just avoid the confrontation at all, but that didn't feel right. I know I wouldn't want to be keeping a date open only for a few months to go by.
The problem is though, rejection sucks. There is no easy way to deal with it. Having received a large number of "I'm sorry, I've chosen another clerk" letters in the past few months, all of which very nicely tell me that it was a pleasure to meet with me and wish me the best of luck in the future, I know that nice words do nothing to ease the sting. Even during a process during which I experience a lot of rejection, it doesn't get much easier. The only thing that would be worse is NEVER hearing back from the person I interviewed with.

So I sat down to do the impossible - write a rejection note that was friendly and appreciative, and that made it clear that our decision wasn't personal, that we could use for all of our vendors. (Except that it was. It always is. It's ultimately going to come down to, "I liked somebody else more than you." No matter the reason - they had more experience so you liked them more. They understood your vision, so you liked them more. You're friends with them, so you liked them more. They were cheaper, so you liked them more.)

The language I finally found was something along the lines of: Hello Vendor, Thank you so much for meeting with us. We both liked your work and found it beautiful/delicious. We have decided to use Bob Jones as our Vendor [if applicable or necessary, say why]. Thank you again for taking the time to meet/speak with us and we will be sure to recommend your services to our friends and readers! Thanks, Us.

So please, don't leave your vendors hanging - just write a quick rejection letter and get on with your planning. Have you come up with a form letter for rejection?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Told you we'd be back with the pretty


Ann Taylor's new bridesmaid dresses are out. I am in love with this pretty, simple, flattering dress that comes in all the shades of sherbert you could want....can we change our color scheme? And the time of year we are getting married? At $185, this baby comes in under budget, and Ann Taylor often offers coupons for full priced items, so it's just a matter of waiting it out.
I love Ann Taylor bridesmaid dresses not because they are cheaper than other dresses, but because they are a good value - the quality of the dress is so much better (silk vs. sticky satin), and most girls (who are not oddly shaped) do not even need to get them altered the way you have to with regular dresses.
So spring brides still in need of bridesmaid dresses - go forth and shop!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice Day

I'm going to start this post by saying that Mark didn't really understand the point of it. I told him that he hasn't worked in the field of reproductive health for four years so he's probably not going to get it. But it's Blog for Choice day, and we are pro-choice. And one of the things we give you here at Wedding for Two is honesty. The other is straight talk. And like Sarah Palin, I'm going to come atcha with the truth. The truth about contraception, abortion, and marriage. (I'm leaving comments on for now, because I want to hear your opinions, but the first person that tells me I'm going to hell is getting deleted and I will turn comments off. If you want to skip this post, I completely understand, and my opinions are my own here. I promise, tomorrow, we will go back to pretty fluffy wedding stuff, and leave the politics at the door.)

I used to hand out condoms on campus when the aborted-fetus-on-signs people came to town. We would surround them with baskets of orange condoms and hand out condoms to students passing by, encouraging them to, "prevent abortion - wear a condom!" We were generally fairly well received except for two types of people. One was the abstinence kids, who said, "I'm waiting for marriage." I would then chase them down with a condom yelling, "it doesn't expire until 2011!" Then there were the others. The people who held up their left hand and said, "I'm married."

I've seen other people express the idea that married people don't or shouldn't have to use condoms. That using condoms when you are married is a sign that you don't trust your partner, or that marriage means you don't need to worry about STDs or unintended pregnancy. The worst part is, they then express these ideas aloud, in public, as if all married couples should follow the same rules.

Firstly, I'd like to put something out there. Even though you are getting married, you need to think about STIs. Please don't ever forget that some diseases, such as yeast infections, can be sexually transmitted even though they weren't sexually transmitted to you. Please also do not forget that diseases like HPV and Herpes may remain dormant for a period of time, and then become apparent. Please also remember that we are seeing a rise in asymptomatic males with STIs. It is possible that your partner has an STI that he doesn't know about that he (or she) could pass to you. So please, please, please: get tested before you discontinue condom use. If you do not, you are compromising your health and your fertility.

I'm not trying to tell you that your partner is cheating on you and going to give you syphilis. But I think condoms have gotten unfairly stigmatized, particularly their use in marriages. And not just by health teachers who will tell you that condoms are only 80% effective. By married people who say things like, "I'm so glad that being married means I don't have to use condoms anymore." By people generally who say things like, "condoms mean you don't trust your partner."


(These elephants are clearly married. You can tell by the nagging and the "I don't have to try anymore" nightgown.)

What do condoms actually mean, in a marriage or otherwise? They mean that the pill, diaphragms, and IUDs don't work for everybody. So here's the straight talk (*disclaimer* I'm not a doctor, just a girl who got an A+ in sex ed. And I mean that literally. It was a college course.):

Let's talk about birth control and its supposedly 99.9% efficacy. In the last 4 years, I have known five or six women who had unintended pregnancies. All of them were using birth control, and not backing it up. They took the pill every day, but not at the same time. They sometimes missed a day. If you are not able to take your birth control pill every day, and you are not eligible for the patch or the Nuva ring, and you do not intend to conceive, consider using condoms or another method as a backup. 50% of all pregnancies in this country are unintended. Which includes married couples.

Let's also talk about birth control and the major disadvantages that come with it, before my dad writes in with an extremely long comment about the birth control-breast cancer link. Birth control pills can have very damaging effects for certain women. The long term implications of being on hormones aren't very well understood yet, and although the risk for breast cancer has decreased, we still don't know enough about it. The dosages for pills are still being worked on. Birth control pills cause an increased risk of blood clots and of other very serious health implications. These risks are even higher if you smoke. Birth control pills also have a somewhat more limited efficacy related to your body mass index. (If your BMI is high, be sure to bring up this concern with your doctor.) Some women just have a very difficult time with birth control pills. Some pills make you depressed, some pills make you cranky, some pills make you fat. Oh yeah! And some of them kill your sex drive. If switching pills doesn't work for you, stop trying to force it. Find a birth control method that works for you and your partner, and do not be afraid to ask your partner for what you need, whether it's a daily reminder to take the pill, or for you to use a non-hormonal method.

Then there are the factors of birth control that are unique to marriages and committed partnerships. Who pays for the pills? Do you pay for them jointly or is the wife still footing the bill? Whose job is it to make sure that she takes the pill? Women remain responsible for most of the birth control decisions that happen in relationships. It is an extremely sexist dynamic. I think it is important to find a way to make it more balanced. It's also important to talk about it with your partner, which is the great thing about marriage - you get a partner.

Okay. So moving on. What happens if your birth control does fail? This is where I'm going to get myself into trouble, so hopefully most of you have already decided that I was crazy and stopped reading.

In our society, we treat marriage as a viable solution to an unintended pregnancy. As long as the unwed teenage mom gets married, as long as the loser boyfriend "does the right thing", everything will be okay. Somehow they'll have money, they'll have healthcare, they'll have childcare and life will be fine. There is also an implication that if you are married, even though a baby might not be the right thing, or something you wanted, you have to have it or raise it. So here is where I'm going to say the unpopular, controversial, difficult thing to say.

Married women have abortions. Married women give children up for adoption.

And it's not just women who are married and their husbands are losers or they're in abusive relationships. It's people for whom the timing is poor and the money isn't there or their marriage can't handle the strain. It's women who have already had children. It's families in which one partner has a severely disabling illness. It's families for whom having a child, or having another child, would be an impossible, unimaginable strain on the marriage, on their lives, on the lives of their other children. And sometimes, it's families for whom there is something tragically wrong with the child, or a burden the family cannot bear.

My point, ultimately, with all of this, is as follows: People's reasons for making the reproductive choices that they are making are their own. They are personal. They are health-related, they are financial, they are spiritual. And for the foreseeable future, all choices are still legal choices.

One thing we celebrate in the wedding planning community is the incredible diversity that is here. One person loves bird cake toppers and another thinks they are hideous. One person loves cupcakes instead of cake, and another thinks a pie buffet is the way to go. And we, as bloggers, as anti-Knot planners, and as incredibly amazing, strong, independent women, know that one of our jobs is to quit passing harsh, vocal, judgment on people who make choices that we don't understand and wouldn't make ourselves. So please, when your married friends talk about condoms, don't assume it's because there isn't any trust in their relationship. Please don't judge your friends who choose religious-based methods of family planning. Please don't assume that just because you are married means that you HAVE to do what everyone else does and just use one form of birth control that doesn't work for you. Don't think that being married means you need to follow a specified path as far as childbearing goes. It's nobody's business but yours. Please don't assume that there is a right way or a wrong way to approach reproductive health, and even if you do think that, please don't pass that judgment on to another person. Also, don't ever be afraid to share knowledge or experiences with each other - your experiences may be a great comfort to a friend. It's true of wedding planning, but it's true of life.

And lastly - if you are waiting for marriage, want to use birth control, and you attended one of our nation's most excellent and factually truthful abstinence-only sex-education programs (::chokes::), please, please, please - get a book, talk to a doctor, attend a sex-ed course or lecture - educate yourself on all of your options and decide what is best for you and your partner!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Honeymoon in a Day

So we're getting married on the Sunday on Columbus Day Weekend, which means that even if I ever do find a job and they DON'T let me take even a single day off, we can still honeymoon for a night. My emergency stop-gap plan if this happens is to push the ceremony earlier in the day so we can leave sooner. If the ceremony was at 2:30, the reception would be over around 7:30, leaving us enough time to get to a nearby destination. (This is my plan because Mark says I should wait until I get offered a job to worry. Being several rejection letters into job hunting, I know beggars can't be choosers.)
So I started thinking about where we would go if we only had a night. I think it's important to get away and relax and just enjoy being married. I would like to go someplace we haven't been before that isn't more than 2 hours away. This doesn't offer a ton of options. One option I was hoping for was Deep Creek Lake, but that's 3 hours away. There are plenty of B&Bs in the nearby area, but those are less fun and more familiar, since we've been there.
So our options would be:
  • Kent Island - only an hour away, but all the way on the other side of the bay! This would be especially great if we could get a limo to drive us. Or a boat. I haven't been to Kent Island before, other than driving through it, so it could be fun to stay here.
  • Frederick - a lot of people make fun of Frederick, but I've heard good things about it. There are B&Bs and probably enough stuff to do there that would keep use entertained for the half-day we would be there. Possibly including horseback riding.
  • Gettysburg - celebrate your marriage by going to the site of the greatest carnage in US history! Nonetheless, Gettysburg is pretty cool. And you can also ride horses. Apparently fall in PA is pretty nice.
  • Philadelphia - this was the site of our first trip away together. It's a little further than I wanted to go, but it holds more sentimental value than any of the other places. Plus cheesesteaks. Which I don't eat, but that's not the point.
  • DC - we could go down to the district, stay someplace nice, and hit up the Spy Museum or the Newseum on Monday. Especially because Columbus day isn't a school holiday for the DC area, so the museums would be pretty kid-free. The thing is though, museums are not relaxing, or particularly honeymoon-appropriate.
  • Hagerstown - we've been camping out here and it's nice to be out in nature, away from everything. Not really sure what else there is to do here, but we won't be here for that long. We probably just need to find one thing to visit, and then possibly a nice relaxing couples massage, and it'll be time to go home and go back to work.
I think what will matter more if we do a honeymoon-in-a-day is going to be where we stay, not where we go - so recommendations for a nice relaxing place to stay, near good restaurants or fun places to walk around, that are outside of downtown Baltimore, would be highly appreciated!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eco-friendly Relationships

I take 3-minute showers. Mark takes 10 minute showers. At least. I think it's excessive. He turns off the lights when he leaves a room. I don't. I like to buy organic produce and hippie cleaning products. I also like to save the environment by never using those cleaning products. He wants to bike or take the bus to work. I like that my car is warm and leaves when I want it to. (I've finally switched to full-time public transit because they started charging more for parking.)

I remember a conversation between two of our engaged friends last summer about purchasing organic or locally grown or hormone free meat. She said, "once Bob* is out of school and we can afford it, we're going to start eating the free-range local meat." Bob immediately said, "no we aren't." This resulted in a discussion over whether buying free-range or hormone-free was worth the added cost.

So when I saw this article, I thought about us, and I thought about our friends, and I thought about all the couples out there that are struggling to make eco-friendliness work with their relationship. Oh, and I got really offended at how sexist some of the people in the article are about gender roles. Anyway, I think the bottom line is that ultimately, the answer is going to be found in facts. And the fact of the matter is, most pollution and global warming is caused by major corporations and the fact that we are not regulating heavy polluters. Oh, and population explosion. So just remember that there is no environmental impact that is going to come out of your lifestyle changes that is going to be worth sacrificing your relationship over. Do what you can. If it matters to you, encourage your partner to make changes that don't involve extra money, time, or effort. Make the eco-friendly changes that save you money, time, and effort, like CFLs and reusable tupperware and lowering the heat and putting a rock in the toilet tank so that less water is wasted with every flush.

Do you and your partner fight about whose greener?

*Names have been changed.

Baltimore Area Venues

Since at least four of my friends have gotten engaged over the past couple of months, I thought I'd go through a quick roundup of our venue hunt and throw out some links. I'll follow up shortly with a by-the-numbers look at getting married in Baltimore.
Places we looked at:
Other places we encountered
If you have pictures, please upload them to our venue photo directory!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Editing

Okay, just wanted to say that even if you are devoted Snippet & Ink readers like I am, today's post is particularly great. One of my friends said last week that she was concerned her wedding would have no cohesion. I told her cohesion was for suckers, but I also understand her concern, which is why we aren't having the fish-themed wedding I wanted - because we're getting married at a nature center.

Anyway, wise Katheryn says: "First, remember that this is not the last party you'll ever have, and making your own jam or envelope liners will certainly be much more manageable when there aren't so many people on the guest list.

Second, learn to edit. Choose two things instead of twelve (not limiting yourself to colors), and you'll find it easy to create a cohesive look, especially when you choose elements that make sense for your wedding's venue and season)."

I tried this approach, by the way, for Christmas cards, deciding to line them because I knew that lining only 20 envelopes would be way easier than lining 85. I gave up after cutting two liners and decided that people simply won't know what they're missing, and I'm okay with that. One thing that I have been doing is relegating DIY projects like growing my own flower favors to the bridal shower I'm selfishly assuming somebody will throw me, instead of tackling that for the wedding itself.

As far as a color palette though, I say, don't go with two colors. Go with a tone. Earthy, jewel, technicolor - whatever. Don't come up with anything so restrictive that you just can't have those invites you love because they don't match your bridesmaids dresses.* Having an inclusive palette actually leads to more cohesion, as long as everything is all in the same family.

How are you editing your wedding to a manageable scale?

*and lets review here: nobody is bringing the invite to the wedding to compare it to your theme or colors. The invite sets the stage, so go with something you love that represents you and your wedding, not something you feel like you have to have because of your color scheme or theme. Within reason. I'm still not using these. But I will, someday, for some kind of aquarium themed party. Because this is not the only party we will ever have.

Those crazy kids

So we aren't having kids in the wedding, but we do want them at the wedding. I came across this post on the Weddingbee boards and I had an idea. I'm not big on disposable cameras at the tables, but it would actually be really fun to give each kid their own disposable camera with their name on it. (And if there aren't that many kids coming, I would totally spring for a real digital camera for a couple of my cousin's kids, as they are apparently very cheap on EBay.)

Cameras are great for entertaining kids but also having them feel like they are a part of the party. I loved having a camera at that age - my mom let me use her old Olympus point and shoot at family functions, and it always made it more fun. I also love some of the pictures I took back then. Kids also like to take detail pictures - pictures of flowers, centerpieces, etc. I also think that if I got pictures of their butts, I could handle it way better than if one of my Uncles (and I wouldn't put it past him) decided to go take a picture of his butt.

Then I remembered polaroids. My grandfather had a polaroid camera and we LOVED it when he brought it out. I thought about a polaroid guestbook early on but rejected it in favor of a photobooth. Fuji has come out with the Instax camera:

This little guy produces credit card sized (2x3 inch) photos and retails for about $80. I love the idea of an instant film camera because it means the kids would have that instant gratification that is so important now that you no longer have to wait a week for film to be processed. There is a full-sized version that is larger. The biggest drawback is that the film is expensive - about $1 an image, which is pretty high.

So I guess it's back to disposable cameras (unless I can find my grandpa's polaroid), unless I find a coupon for the film. The single use cameras cost about $6 apiece and I wouldn't have to worry about anybody fighting over it. I've had very good luck in the past with disposables, so I think we might get a few pictures we enjoy, and I think it would mean the pint-sized guests have a bit more fun.

Are you using disposable cameras? How are you entertaining the young'uns?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Normal took a left turn sometime last February.

Today we ran out of bowls for cereal. I decided to have an afternoon snack of cereal. You know what normal people do when they are out of bowls? They run the dishwasher.

You know what engaged people do? They spend 20 minutes online finding the perfect cereal bowls to register for, while eating Special K out of a mug.

I am now understanding the purpose of going to a store and looking at the products that we will be registering for. Because it turns out that nobody puts the dimensions of how tall a stack of 4 bowls is on the website, so I don't know if they will reasonably fit in our cabinet. These pesky stores also don't put whether the china is likely to break or chip on there. Or how heavy the bowl is. So I think it's going to eventually come down to a little bit of Mr. Bean style recon work.



(Start at 3 minutes. Or at 5 minutes. Or watch the entire thing.) It'll be the best part of your day, I promise.

DIY Hair Flower

I wanted to test out a hair flower over break, so one morning, I sat down with my:
- rotary cutter & matt
- 1/8 yard of 60" wide tulle fabric
- wire hair comb
- hot glue gun

and went at it. I started by cutting leaves out of the tulle. I freehanded these with my rotary cutter, and cut about 15 large and 15 small leaves. Then I lay them over each other in a row like so:
Then I hot glue gunned them all to each other and myself. One I scraped the glue off my fingers and applied burn ointment, I glued them to my 2" wire hair comb.
I added that hideous bead over on the right for some sparkle. I hate it. But I would try it with more attractive beads - these are cheap craft beads left over from an elementary school project.
The end result?
I even did my hair up all nice because I was having trouble visualizing it (and the comb wouldn't stay unless my hair was pulled back).
It's harder to see the flower in this picture, but doesn't my hair look good?
I don't actually plan to wear this, because it's a little too whisper-y and tulle-y and fluffy for my dress, but I am pretty happy with the result of this 10-minute, zero-effort, free (materials on hand) project. I'd like to try something similar, but with a heavier and more colorful fabric combination - possibly moss green and champagne dupioni silks - and a little less fluff. So really, by trying something similar, I mean try something totally different, but this is a process of elimination and the haircombs came in packs of three anyway, so there is plenty of room for trial and error. I think I'll wear this one for my bachelorette party I'm selfishly assuming my bridemaids will throw me.
Have you tried to DIY your hair flower or other accessories?

[NOTE: Comments closed because this post for some reason attracts more spam than any other.]

Friday, January 15, 2010

More Haiti Relief

Check out BEST to see which members are donating proceeds from their items to different relief efforts. Additionally there is this list. Any more vendors, please comment.

Also this list of local DC area restaurants and stores donating a portion of proceeds from lunch or dinner today to Haiti relief. Or you could stay in, eat PB&J and donate the $60 you would have spent on dinner to the Red Cross or Doctors without Boarders or other organizations - again, if you have ideas, put it in the comments.

Charity Friday: Haiti

I love it when other people do my job for me. Ghenet posted about White Aisle's efforts to donate 50% of their profits from jewlery sales to Doctor's Without Borders. If you're following the situation in Haiti, you probably know what's going on. I've been following my first week of classes, so all I know is that 7,000 people have already been buried and that relief isn't getting where it needs to, or there isn't enough relief. So if you had been thinking about your wedding jewelry, please consider puchasing now.
I'm a big fan of this pearl and crystal flower comb myself:

So go - shop for good!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The downside of our venue.

I kid, Irvine does not have a downside. I love it. It's totally perfect in every way.
Okay, fine, except one. There are no big church doors to be flung open as we make our grand exit. No big church doors upon which we could hang these:
I was perusing Save on Crafts, which I'd heard about and looked at for some stuff, but never looked into for natural materials, like moss, and I found these amazing wreaths. I also found things we can actually use - ferns, moss covered rocks, polished rocks, corsage holders, and some things I'd never considered using but now Must Have. (But probably won't because I'm allergic to fake feathers. And also, I'm not sure that we are cool enough to pull off peacock feathers.)

Have you found any gorgeous decorations for a wedding you aren't having?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Register or not to Register?

Of course we're going to register. I am faaaaaaaaaar too picky about pots to leave it up to people that would think that an 8piece nonstick pot set is better than 2 individual anodized aluminum pots. But that's not the point of this post.

I've had a few friends say recently that they don't give gifts off their friends registries because, "nobody actually wants the stuff on the registry - they just want money." First of all, hearing this always hurts my feelings. Because it's not true, and it's not fair. Some people would surely rather have cash, and there are people for whom that makes sense. My sister found that what they really needed was grownup furniture. But they still registered for things they wanted and needed, and enjoyed receiving those gifts and didn't register for anything they didn't actually need or want. Because why would you? Even if the online app is telling you that you haven't registered for enough, why put down things you don't actually want? Please don't do that. If you can't find enough stuff, tell your parents (who are who your guests will complain to about your registry) that what you would really need is money for your honeymoon, your house, furniture, etc. People understand that you already have a toaster, they do.

The reason this "nobody wants the things on their registry" mentality bothers me though, is because, yes, I do want the things on our registry. And if you just give us cash instead of buying us the Roomba, the cash is going to go into our joint savings account. Instead of buying our Roomba, we will procrastinate and we will buy food with the money instead. When we do go to buy the Roomba, because the money went from being "your" money to "our" money, our instinct will be to save it. It will be to say, "well, the vacuum we have is good enough." We will do the same thing with our pots, our pans, our toaster. When we do buy the item, it will be a cheaper model, because now we're spending our money. It will be to let your wonderful, generous wedding gift go unused or towards other things that are not wedding-gift worthy.

There's another reason though. If you give us cash, we will have to go shop for the item that you could have bought us, but gave us cash for instead. And therein lies the problem with us: we really hate going shopping together (except for to the grocery store). It's pretty much the least pleasant thing we've ever done together. We bicker and we argue and instead of just buying the damn thing off the registry, that we bickered about putting on the registry, we will instead re-evaluate whether we want that item. Then we will research it on Amazon and see if the one we registered for wherever we registered for it is really the best value, the best model. If you had just bought us the damn mandoline, you would have saved us an afternoon of agony and annoyance.

So please, don't listen to people who say things like "nobody wants the things on their registry" and "doesn't everybody just want cash nowadays?" I also like it when people give cash for "a nice dinner out" or to cover the cost of a particular item or service, like a couples massage or steam cleaning the carpets or anything that you think, or know, that they need and would enjoy. If you know the couple wants cash, that is one thing. But if you know they just bought a house and they've been getting by with their crappy college Ikea pots and pans? No, they don't just want cash. If their registry has a lot on it, assume they actually need the items, and assume that they don't, in fact, want the joy of shopping for their own gifts.

Do you think registries are a good thing, or an elaborate hoax by the couple to just ask for cash instead?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Books - primitive versions of the DVD

So I hunt around on the internets for fabric flower tutorials, and I was starting to feel frustrated. The internet is great, but usually people that write tutorials don't get anything out of it, so there is no quality control. I was feeling particularly daunted by one tutorial and then I heard a tiny nagging voice in the back of my mind.
"Books"
Remember books? Remember this place? Right!
A quick Amazon search found me fabulous fabric flowers, Fun to Wear Fabric Flowers, Fast Fun & Easy, and a gingham shower curtain. ?
I could get Fun to Wear Fabric Flowers and a couple others at the local library, so I trekked the mile up to Central Library (it is gorgeous, by the way, if you live in Baltimore and you've never been to it, you are cheating yourself). It took about 10 minutes to find the second floor (the stairs are to the right as you come in, before you enter the "main" room), and then another 10 to try to find the book, then finally caving and admitting to the guy at the main desk that I needed help. Why I can admit to 100 internet readers that I wanted to check out a book on fabric flowers, but not to the librarian, I don't know, but I felt embarrassed.
He brought me Fun to Wear Fabric Flowers and I sat down and read it. The flowers in it are really nice, and the instructions were simple and clear. I went downstairs and registered my library card and checked out my new book. I came home optimistic that these would be more user friendly and wouldn't make my eyes hurt.
I tried the first one on Saturday and um, I was wrong. Except for the eyes thing, cuz the book is better for that. See this? This is supposed to turn into a peony.
The book is very clear as far as the stitching goes, and then, it's a little fuzzy on the how it gets from the hot mess above into a flower. And since it's a book, I can comment on the blog post and ask the writer for better instructions.
I plan to figure this out, but it will have to wait until next weekend.
The book does have some definite pros - it gave me the idea to try dupioni silk as the material for the flowers - I had purchased some heavy satin remnants to first try this with and have been disappointed with how they looked. Dupioni silk comes in a wide array of colors, is very thin but is easy to work with compared to organza or charmeuse, which can be really slippery. It irons easy and is easy to work with.
The book also has some nice ideas for how to execute roses and other flowers. I haven't figured out yet how to make a bouquet of the flowers instead of sewing them to some buckram (and word to the wise - don't ever sew anything to buckram) and pinning them on my blazer.
I would say if your local library has a copy and you are interested in fabric flowers, you should definitely check it out, but I wouldn't buy it unless your spatial perception is REALLY good.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Merge Ahead


Speaking of money, Trent at the Simple Dollar posted an article recently recommending merging your bank accounts and other finances as soon as you get married:
...[keeping separate accounts] had serious disadvantages, chief among them the fact that it was hard for either one of us to really get a grip on what our true financial situation was.

I would not recommend doing that unless you have a very good, clear reason for doing so. It’s very clear in that wonderful 20/20 hindsight that the disadvantages of such a split far outweigh the advantages.

Instead, I would fold your accounts together...
That sounds like excellent advice for somebody who needs to do some figuring to know what their financial situation. Personally, I've always managed to keep a pretty close eye on what I have, even if improving my planning and budgeting has become a repeat resolution. So I find myself a little resistant to the idea of just dumping everything into one pot. But when you step away from Trent's purely practical reasoning, pooling your resources is part of the commitment you make to become a family, right? (of course, he also points out the value of a pre-nup in case things go south)

For our individual case, I imagine (although we haven't had the official conversation yet...bad engaged couple!) we'll move away from this slightly and each keep a personal account that we can use to fund our personal hobbies, gift buying, and other expenses that might be best kept separate (not to mention the gambling and escorts).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Resolution Solutions

I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions. Mostly because I like to do things when I want to start doing them, and when they occur to me. However, I usually try to come up with one achievable resolution. I keep it general, and that makes it easier to keep. Three years ago, my resolution was to start running. Last year, it was to walk to school more (more than...twice, so it was surprisingly keepable.) This year, it's to start budgeting my finances. I realize that "managing your money" is a pretty common resolution, but it's important to me for 2010 in particular because I graduate this year. There is a chance I will be gainfully employed in 8 months. And we're getting married. Which means that Mark will suddenly be very concerned that I'm spending all of "his" money on shoes. So I want to be able to get a handle on my spending, so I can know how I'm spending my money, and so we can know how we're spending our money. (Right now the plan is to contribute a percentage of our incomes to a joint account and keep our own money for personal stuff - more on that later.)
So how am I planning to get a grip?
There are a few online resources I'm looking into: mainly mint.com and quickenonline.com to track my credit card spending in one place. Mint.com also has resources that help with budgeting. And it lets you do pie charts. I love pie charts. I decided to go with Mint.com and entered my account info. Mint then produced a pie chart based on my spending. (This is mostly Christmas related, so it's higher than usual.)

To try to get a handle on this, I turned to a favorite resource of savers and cheapos everywhere - www.thesimpledollar.com - which talks about how sites like this are good if you have trouble managing all of your bank accounts, but really, you should simply have fewer accounts. I disagree with this approach - I only have two credit cards, but I really need a way to look at my spending all at once, because I tend to indiscriminately put things on my credit card and debit card. (This is not necessarily a good habit, but I generally resolve to not take on too much self-fixing with my new year's resolutions, so I'm choosing to deal with budgeting for now and general financial savvyness later.)

I feel like this will be a good thing for me personally, and for our relationship generally. We've talked in the past about how much we spend on groceries and other household expenses, and that we don't have a good sense of it, and that we would like to start budgeting a certain amount to spend per year on traveling. We also don't go out much to dinner or movies or other fun stuff, but we both really like doing those things - so I think if we budget a certain amount per month for entertainment, we will do that more, instead of my arbitrarily deciding that I can't afford to go see a movie or go ballroom dancing. I'm cautiously optimistic about this and will let you guys know how it goes.

Any resolutions out there? Anybody have any budgeting tips to share?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Charity Friday: It's fun to stay at the

YMCA!
I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of a lot of the Christian service organizations that are out there, because I feel that they often let their values override their desire to provide meaningful services. One exception though, is the YMCA. I've belonged to 3 different YMCAs in my lifetime, and I genuinely feel that the YMCA is committed to doing good work while keeping its religious agenda mostly to itself. (Speak up in the comments if you have had a different experience.)

If you are considering joining a local gym, as part of your New Year's Resolution or part of your wedding weight loss goals, consider your local YMCA. I joined ours because it had a pool and was $25 less than all of the other gyms in the area. Our YMCA also had no joining fee and no year-long commitment required. Both the Ann Arbor YMCA and this YMCA have a "young person" rate that is lower than their standard rate - although the age of a "young person" is lower in Baltimore than Ann Arbor. I also like that if I'm going to join a gym and not get the full value of my membership, the money goes back into my local community.

I attended YMCA summer camps and took swimming lessons there for many years. I've always thought that they were an extremely valuable part of my growing up, even the negative experiences I had. I can now right a capsized canoe in deep water. Or swim to safety - the choice is up to me. I like that the Y is committed to helping people who do not have a lot of money reach for and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The fact that a lot of Ys can be found in lower-income areas where there are no other gyms; as well as the fact that they provide childcare while their parents work out; and the fact that they offer financial assistance to low-income persons is a start to helping blur the stark barriers between income and obesity that are very common.

So if you are looking into a gym membership, consider your local Y. They may not be as fancy as some of those $75 a month gyms, but they do good work and may be a much more affordable option if you don't want a long-term contract or feel that towel service is excessive. (Although the Y in Ann Arbor did have towel service.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cheating. And Lying.

I've been lying to you for awhile. I guess I mean omitting the truth kind of lying. The kind where I don't mention the massive second thoughts I've been having. Not about the wedding generally, but one aspect of the wedding specifically. My dress. See, a few months ago, I kinda cheated on my dress. You can read about my dilemma here. Mark, you can't. Go away.
So my dress, which is at home, safely tucked away, was $500 plus tax. This dress was $2500 plus tax. That is more than twice my rent. It's our photography budget and DJ budget combined. It was unquestionably out of the question.

After the suggestions about the dress from Alfred Angelo, I looked into it. Alfred Anglo has a store in Glen Burnie. I decided to go there sometime in March and look for some dress closure - either I would find a dress for a price similar to what I paid for my dress; or I would conclude what I concluded earlier - my dress is nicer than anything I can find in my price range in a store.

I was headed to Costco yesterday to get frozen salmon and goat cheese and vitamins and it turns out that the Alfred Angelo store is on my way home. I'd never noticed it before, and since I knew Mark was working late, I figured that I might as well go in. I wasn't planning to try anything on, because I didn't have an appointment and I know how snooty bridal shop ladies hate brides that don't make appointments. I mostly wanted to feel the fabric, because I really didn't want to wear a dress made of cheap feeling polyester.

I'm gonna interrupt this now to say: GO TO THE ALFRED ANGELO STORE. The salesladies are so nice! The store is so bright and airy! Oh, and the saleslady gave me a bra and a slip before she helped me into my gown, so I didn't have to get naked in front of a total stranger. Sweet! They are having their grand opening this Saturday and a sale until the 15th. They also will let you take pictures (I didn't have a camera).

Once I got through the door and explained I just wanted to look around, I started lying. I should have just said that I had a dress already. But I didn't. And then I got more and more tangled in my web of lies! I'm also the worst liar ever and it gives me a funny feeling in my stomach. The salesladies asked me if I had been shopping already and I said yes, and they tried to get me to stress over the fact that our wedding is 8 months away and I don't have a dress yet, but I kinda shrugged them off. Cuz I'm not worried about it. Because...oh yeah...I already have a dress.

Anyway, the dress helped me a lot. It gave me quite a bit of closure. I love the fabric of my dress, I love the way the skirt feels when I run my hands over it, and this dress didn't have that. It did have pockets. I'll be adding those to my dress, they were awesome. The thing though, standing there in this dress, it was beautiful, but it was very stark white, and the only other option was an ivory-ish color. Neither are great options. I also found myself focusing on the dress, not myself, as I was in it. Ultimately, I felt like the dress was wearing me. I also couldn't get over an issue at the waistline where it puffed out and made me look...a little chubby. I think this could be fixed with an additional layer of tulle in the skirt, but the skirt was already really puffy! And I like ballgowns and poof, so you know it was a lot!

As I stood there, staring at myself, I realized that while I liked the neckline, and the sparkle trim, and the fact that it was $650 and the fabric didn't look as cheap as it felt, it didn't give me that same feeling as my dress gave me. That soft, "oh" feeling I got in the pit of my stomach. I also realized, looking at the dress, that it's total whiteness and the poofiness of the skirt overwhelmed me. That the dress was kind of wearing me. I also realized some silly things. That the necklace that my aunt gave me when I was born, that was passed down through four generations of my family wouldn't go with this dress. And that that necklace means more to me than any dress would. That I liked my dress because there is something romantic and soft about it, even though I'm not particularly romantic. (Just soft.) I realized that this dress wouldn't go nearly as well with my awesome shoes. That it didn't look right with my short hair. I also realized that my biggest concern about my dress, the basque waist, was actually a good thing because it made me look skinny instead of chubby.

I might keep looking for a dress, but I think instead I will look for a seamstress that will fix my other concerns about my dress - the neckline and the fact that it's a wee bit too small. For the moment, I have come full circle. My dress may not be "the one", but it's a pretty good second best, and ultimately, the dress I will wear to marry my husband will have it's own special meaning, no matter how I feel about it right now. I remember the always-eloquent Mrs. Cheese, and what she said, "You will. At any price point. You will find a dress that will be with you on the day you get married. It will be, quite frankly, any of the dresses you pick today. (See how that works?) Your happiness and joy at finally getting to marry that handsome man of yours will overshadow any “lace or puffy or flowy or fitted” angst."
So for the moment I have come full circle, back to wearing the dress that I like, and relieved at having some closure, and feeling extremely guilty about lying to the very lovely women at the Alfred Angelo Store. (Which you should really go to on Saturday. She said there would be cake!)

Did anyone else cheat on their dress and tell a large number of lies in the process?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Green Bridal Showers

So we talk a lot about "going green" for weddings, but I hadn't heard much about green bridal showers until recently. I think it's a nice idea, but as always, the key is in the execution.

So it got me thinking - what makes for a "green" bridal shower? Is it holding it at a local "green" facility or restaurant? (*hint to anyone possibly thinking of throwing me a shower* I love One World Cafe.) Sending e-vites to save paper? Is it asking guests to purchase gifts that are "green"? (Reusable sandwich bags, a salad spinner, bamboo cutting boards, organic baking mixes, recycled potholders, organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp sheets.) Is it asking guests to re-gift items from their homes instead of purchasing new gifts? What about asking guests to find a creative way to wrap their gifts that doesn't involve wrapping paper? Giving prizes of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies or cosmetics? Favors that are organic chocolate bars? (mmmm Dagoba....) No favors at all?

I'd like to put together a list of green bridal shower tips - so shout them out! How do we "green" the bridal shower? It doesn't necessarily have to be a theme - just ideas to keep in mind when planning a shower to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

This is fairly NWR, but I know during the first few weeks in January, people like to make resolutions and set goals. I'm not a big resolution maker, and my main resolution isn't about running, it's about money, and I'll be talking more about it later. However, I like the idea of setting goals and when I read Us meets UK and Christiana talked about setting a number of miles to run in 2010, I liked the idea. So I picked my own number to run or walk - a nice even 1000 miles. 1000 miles works out to almost 20 miles a week, which is a number I've been striving to meet anyway. It also will encourage me to keep my resolution from last year, to walk to school more, which is about 2 miles away.

I track my progress using www.dailymile.com, which lets me track routes, enter mileage, rate my workouts, and has a really fantastic mapping tool. It also lets me use a little emoticon that says whether my workout was good or great or awful or tired or injured. It lets me keep track of details like "26 degrees outside - had trouble breathing" so that next time I go running below freezing, I remember to bring my face mask. I can also put in my heart rate, once I get my new heart rate monitor working.

Though this is NWR, I'm not sure that it's not not-relationship-related. I think that when we set these kinds of personal challenges for ourselves, we can't possibly succeed without the support of our spouses. I also told him about this goal before I set it - because I knew if he wasn't on board, a goal like this probably wouldn't be achievable - nor would any goal that changes our lifestyle or eating habits. In turn, that would make me extremely resentful and would make our relationship more challenging. I try to be equally supportive of him in the things he would like to achieve and the goals that he sets, and we also try to set goals together - not necessarily physical goals, but goals about meal planning, about travel, and about finances are the specific ones we have talked about recently.

Do you and your partner set goals? Do you do it together or separately?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Coloring Books

Saw this link shortly before Christmas and thought it might make a nice addition to a kids table or OOT bag. I'm not sure if it works in Gimp but I might look into it sometime.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Ceremony Shoes

I bought my wedding shoes in the beginning of December, ordered them shipped to the store, and picked them up last week. I had actually ordered them in a too-large size from Zappos, and they were $70, which was high, because I plan to have ceremony and reception shoes. (I need to wear wedges for the ceremony, but I have to be able to dance properly during the reception.)
I was inspired by a friend of ours who asked me to be the emergency girl during her wedding. (I wound up sewing a couple of the bridesmaids into their dresses.) When the moment came to put on her shoes, she pulled out a box and pulled out these.
They're Clarks. My grandmother has the same pair. For a second, I thought (and maybe said, "are you serious?") Then I realized that this was so very my friend. She is a sensible person who wanted to be comfortable. Also, only the 10 people in that room noticed. Nobody else noticed or cared. I thought it was awesome. Ever since then, I've known that I too can be comfortable under my wedding dress.
So when I say the phrase "wedding tevas" and people scoff, I say to hell with them. Oh, also they're adorable.
With a perfect 2-inch wedge heel, ideal for tromping around the grounds at our nature center wedding.
They even look pretty darn okay with my rehearsal dinner dress! And will be very rewearable with cute shorts during the summers. Plus, they came in on budget at $30, leaving me $70 to spend on ballroom/dancing shoes!
The only problem? The stitching needs some breaking in. I'm not sure what the best way to deal with slightly uncomfortable/stiff stitching is. I know foot petals makes strappy strips, and I have some of those. But is there any way to soften the stitching?