Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fair Share?

It seems to me that recently everybody's weddings have been falling apart a bit on them, from people not showing up to items being lost or destroyed for the wedding.  I read their posts and tweets and think, "but it will be okay. It was okay for us, and we had our fair share of problems."

Then I rethink that statement.  Because you know what?  At the end of the day, we didn't have our fair share of problems.  We had something like three guests back out at the last minute, one because she had massive health problems and one because of childcare issues.  My grandmother couldn't make it, but when she moved to Colorado, I knew she wasn't coming to the wedding.  I lost my makeup three weeks before the wedding, but fortunately, I had been keeping my expensive "wedding makeup" separate and supplemented the rest with Target makeup.  (Sure, I had a total nervous breakdown at Target trying to figure out what kind of blush to buy, but that's neither here nor there.)

Sure, I spent three weeks before the wedding up to my elbows in crafts, wondering how it would get done.  But I'm lucky - firstly, I wasn't working at all, secondly, I'm crafty, and thirdly, I used to throw events for work.  So I knew what had to get done, how to prioritize, how to make sure it all happened, how to wrangle people, what to give up.  Sure, our printer Refused To Work several times right before the wedding, and that was a problem.  But if we hadn't had programs, it wouldn't have been the end of the world.  They were wrong anyway.  And it wasn't the end of the world.

But these are all small-time problems.  Blips on the radar of the larger problems surrounding weddings.  Compared to the massive family drama, the religion discussions, the dealing-with-divorced/dead/spiteful parents that some people are doing, we just didn't have it.  Plain and simple, we were lucky.  Lucky that our families got along, that our parents like each other, that our sisters worked well together, that bridesmaid sniping was kept to a minimum, that all my bridesmaids knew better than to tell me if anything was wrong.  Lucky that the morning of the wedding dawned with the perfect sunshine that my grandmother promised, lucky that my Dad was able to get sewing kits from the hotel and find my makeup in my sister's car.  We were lucky that we had an army of people who came out and set up and cleaned up.

So while I can't tell you all that everything will be alright with respect to your weddings, I will tell you that yes, some of you have more than your fair share of problems.  And it sucks, big time.  All I can tell you is, it's been more than six months since we got married, and when I wrote this post, I really had to wrack my brain to think about all the things that went wrong.  So yes, eventually this will all, good and bad, be behind you.  Just breathe and get through it.  Solve one crises at a time, then move quickly to the next.  But put everything down the day before the wedding and have a good time with the people that love you, and just try to keep the rest as far away from you as you can.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Function over Perfection

Or How I Made A Veil In 10 Minutes.

See this veil?
That is not my wedding veil.  My wedding veil is in NJ, with my sister in law.  This veil was made from the yard and a half I had leftover.  As I quickly cobbled my hair together, I realized that my original plan of it not mattering how bad my hair looked in my bun under my veil wouldn't work if I didn't have a veil.  So I grabbed a hair comb and my hot glue gun and headed down to the sewing room.  
I hastily trimmed the tulle I had into a "U" shape, and then I did a rush cut job on the edges of the veil, hoping they would look as clean as possible, and then sewed a quick stitch across the top, gathered it, and then glued the whole thing on with a hot glue gun.  Then I ironed it, because the fabric has been sitting in a heap on the table for a few months.  
The resulting veil was much longer than my original, and actually a bit narrower, which worked well for this shoot.  It didn't have any beading, so it blew around in the wind, which would have been annoying on our wedding day, but was a lot of fun for the shoot.  

So yeah, if anybody is telling you that you "need" to pay $300 for a veil, don't listen.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Giant Metal Chickens

My cousin shared this story on Facebook over the weekend and I thought it was pretty funny, at least too funny to not share.  Go read.

My first reaction, was of course, to wonder what it must be like to have enough money that you can waste $100 on a practical joke.  My second was, oh man, I've had that fight over towels/something else I thought needed replacing and my frugal husband didn't.  I don't think even if we had the money, I would get a giant metal chicken, but I might get something else and say, "at least it isn't towels."

But anyway, my cousin shared this on Facebook and her wall erupted with comments over whether the husband is abusive and threatening, whether the couple has a good relationship or not, on where one can get a giant chicken, and I thought I would share here, because I can't help but wonder how much of this argument is accurately retold and how much is sensationalized for the internet.  Either way, I'm not so sure it's such a good idea - but maybe I'm wrong.  Other thoughts?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rock the Dress: Part 1

I was lucky enough to do a TTD session at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.  For more pictures from the shoot, please e-mail me.

Once I was in the dress, we headed over to the museum.  There is a gate there, so you don't have to actually get a ticket just to come in and sit on the benches and play with the trains.

There is also a series of murals of painted trains on part of the building, and they actually created a really nice backdrop.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rocking the Dress

Remember how I mentioned that the Baltimore APW group is awesome?  Well, we are.  Amongst the awesome women of the group is Vanessa Bovee, who is a photographer considering launching her own business.  We were talking about helping her build a portfolio, and I asked if maybe we could do a Trash-The-Dress shoot.  Since I've been dying to do one anyway, and also since we didn't do bridal portraits on the day of the wedding, I thought this would be kinda fun.  Nothing actually got trashed, so this is more of a "Rock the Dress" shoot.
I was wrong.  It wasn't "kind of" fun.  It was so totally ridiculously awesome that I would heartily recommend it to anyone.
Recently Becca talked about whether you can capture all the wedding joy in a post-wedding bridal shoot.  No, of course you can't.  But you can still look pretty.
And you get to wear the dress again!  This part was really a lot of fun.  Because I just got to run around and play.  Because on your wedding day, even though everything is wonderful and joyful and glow-y, you're also really stressed out, and you've been smiling a lot, and that shows too.  It shows in tired eyes and half-smile half-sneer expressions.  I had a fair share of those.  
 Also, I got to adopt a more sullen, pout-y look for a lot of the shots, so instead of having to look happy, I could instead look soulful.  Or angry.
More to come this week, and details on how to make a veil in 10 minutes and how to do your hair all fancy-like yourself. And possibly, "how to hike in a wedding dress."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Travel

I feel, somehow, like the blogging community is full of people who like to travel.  People with life lists that include trekking through Thailand or scaling mountains in Switzerland or skiing in Utah.  We talk about having dreams, and not putting them on hold, and making them happen.  But in my day-to-day life, I know as many people who want to go everywhere and see everything as I do people who are perfectly happy to spend a week at the beach every summer or spend every vacation visiting the same Sandals resort in which they get served delicious drinks and have a great time.  And there is nothing wrong with any of it.  

We each came into our marriage with a life history of traveling.  My family traveled a lot, and my parents still travel a lot (they are out west right now...I know, they were just in London.  My Dad came home for a week, then they packed up and headed back out).  Since Mark is from the UK and has family all over the world, he spent quite a bit of time in Europe and Canada growing up.  So the pressure isn't on to Go Everywhere and See Everything the way it is for other people.

Nonetheless, we are trying to navigate how we will travel as a couple.  For example, do we want to take one big, fancy, expensive trip a year or a lot of smaller, cheaper trips?  Do we want to re-visit places we have already been?  What about visiting family?  What about traveling with family?  How much do we want to spend on trips a year?  When we travel, should we stay in hostels or hotels?  What do we consider "fun" when we go someplace?  What are good places to travel now, before we have children, and what are okay places to take children?  (Since I have had a passport since I was about a week old, I can assure you that traveling with small children is possible, but there are certain places that work better than others.)

For the most part, for right now, the rule is that we don't revisit most places we've been together; instead, we go someplace new.  We take one big semi-fancy trip, and a lot of smaller really cheap trips, like camping trips, or driving trips where we stay with friends.  We'd rather go more places than stay in luxurious digs and eat fancy meals. We've done a few trips with our parents and/or siblings, and it's usually a pretty good time, but sometimes we like to be on our own.  I think it's also important to recognize that our travel style will evolve with our marriage, and we should avoid being particularly tied to a method of traveling, and more importantly, be open to trying something new.  Our honeymoon was the first trip where we stayed in hotels and ate out all the time, which had it's advantages and disadvantages, but was fun to get to try.  Our England trip this summer will be a combination of hostels and staying with family, which is our usual style (and our third UK trip in this style).  We have several friends that travel a lot more than we do, and probably feel sorry for us that we only get to take one real trip a year, but I know there are a lot of people that don't even get to do that much, so instead, I choose to be grateful to get what we can.  

And for what it's worth, I think a lot of us act like we should all be working towards traveling more, or going on fantastic vacations, and sometimes, a quiet weekend at home with my husband is as relaxing as any week in the Caribbean.  So if you don't want to travel at all, and you spend your vacation days on long weekends with your spouse, or an occasional break from work to take care of errands or , there's nothing wrong with that either.  It's only a regret to not travel more if you actually regret it. Nobody ever gets anywhere regretting not doing things they didn't want, if that makes sense.

What is your travel style?  How much do you travel?  Where are you going this year, and what do you take into account when you plan trips?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: 10 Things I Love About Being Married

I was thinking that I tend to talk a lot, openly, about the really difficult parts of being married.  And marriage is hard, but it's also awesome.  So I thought I'd talk today about the top 10 Things I Love About Being Married.  These are all subtle changes I've noticed over the past eight months, small shifts in our relationship dynamic as we transition into being Married, rather than just living together.  When people ask me if I feel different, I tell them yes, and they're always surprised (so why ask the question?).  So yes, being married is different.  And awesome.  So:

10 Things I Love About Being Married

1.) I am always happy to see my husband when he gets home.  Unless I've just spilled something/made a giant mess, and then he walks in on the kitchen and I'm standing on the floor in the middle of a pile of spilled peas.  Which he takes much better than he used to, and he just asks if I would like some help.  By which he means he will go get the broom.  (Marriage is awesome, not perfect.)

2.) We have fun.  We've been dating each other a little more lately, as cheaply as possible.  We've been to two movies lately, since we had Fandango coupons from Living Social, and we went to the beach, and we've been going on long bike rides to train for our upcoming UK trip. We didn't spend this much time together when we were in college or I was in law school, at least not without schoolwork hanging over our heads.

3.) When I dress up, my husband notices. This either is new-ish, or I spend so little time dressed up these days that I'm making it easy for him.  Either way, I like it.

4.) I get to use the term "my husband", which I'm a big fan of.  You may have noticed I throw it around a lot.  When I need to get out of something, I can usually just say, "I'm sorry, I have to check with my husband," or, "You'll have to ask my husband about that."

5.) We are a team.  We have combined finances, so we have a joint ownership feeling over our money and how we spend it.  We ask each other before making financial decisions.  When I had my last job interview, we stayed up for an extra hour talking about what questions I might get asked and how I should answer them. We undertake projects together and feel proud of ourselves when we are successful.  

6.) We are there for each other.  When something happens that totally sucks, like, say, getting laid off, my husband was completely there for me.  In a "we're going to be okay" way that he couldn't have been before we were married.  Everything feels just a little bit more secure than it did before we were married.

7.) We are constantly learning.  We are learning things we like to do together, we are learning more about each other, we are learning more about ourselves.  We are learning to be patient and accepting and caring.

8.) We try to be better for each other. I try not to leave my cereal bowls lying around the house, he tries not to complain when I inevitably forget. We make an effort because I know that not making an effort leads to a lifetime of resentment.

9.) His parents let us sleep in the same room when we go to their house.  When we visit his grandparents, we've already been invited to stay with his aunt and uncle. Who will let us sleep in the same room.  No more twin beds for us! (Except...uh...we're staying in hostels for the rest of the trip. That's so not the point.)  But the point is, our families see us as our own family, and they respect us.  It's cool.

10.) We don't have to plan a wedding anymore.  Sure, I miss planning sometimes, but I don't miss us planning.  I don't miss spending all of our weekends and free time talking about weddings.  I don't miss driving to the vendors and the meetings and the feeling awkward and the thousand tiny decisions to make.

What are your favorite things about being married or what do you look forward to the most?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Surprise Shower!

We threw my SIL a surprise shower over the weekend - which was tricky, since we had to go to NJ and stay with the in-laws.  So we found a wine festival to go to for mother's day/father's day to try to throw her off, and then we threw an extra wrench in the plans and pretended to leave early to get home for a last minute trip Mark had scheduled for work that left on Sunday.  That was ultimately what really threw her off (especially when I called my mom and told her that Mark wouldn't be able to come to the birthday dinner we had planned, since he had a last minute work trip), and Sunday morning, she showed up to this:
How 65 people managed to keep this thing a secret, I don't know, but when the bride shows up at the shower wearing a bathing suit and basketball shorts, you know it was a surprise.  

I'll talk more about the shower shortly, including some of the really fun games, but a few tips on having a surprise shower for somebody:  
1) Have clothes for them to change into and if they have unruly hair, bring a brush, bobby pins, and a straightener.  Don't forget to bring a bra/undergarments that will go with the clothes/dress though, in case the bride shows up in a swimsuit.  
2) If anyone is coming in from out of town, don't tell the bride/guest of honor - it will tip them off immediately. L. was pretty sure that the shower would be last weekend until we left on Saturday.  Thankfully, we thought of that plan and it was enough to throw her off.  
3) Have the shower early - the wedding is still more than two months away, but if it was later, she would have been expecting it every weekend, since she knew it was a surprise.  
4) Put Surprise in big letters on the invitation and make sure everybody knows it was a surprise.  
5) Have the excuse that gets the guest of honor there be a spontaneous one - L. had plans with her roommate to spend the whole day with her (to make sure she had no other plans) but then at the last minute her roommate got "run off the road" conveniently at the Elks Lodge where the party was.  
6) Have a plan in place of things for people to do while they wait for the bride/guest of honor to get presentable - everyone filled out their bingo cards for the gift-opening bingo, and the bridesmaids all started in on the wine, since they were finally able to relax.  

I will admit, I was dubious and very stressed out about the surprise shower.  I was nervous all morning and all of the bridesmaids were extremely tense to make sure that everything went off without a hitch, but everything worked perfectly and L. was either really surprised, or did an excellent job of faking it.

Albums, Part 2

Once you decide to get an album, you have to decide what pictures go in it.  Um.  Our wedding pictures are phenomenal.  How could we possibly choose?

Since I'm unemployed, I took on the difficult task of narrowing down pictures.  I managed to get it down to 150, and then from there, to 114.  I was aiming to get under 100, because the design fees from A La Carte are charged by number of images.  My parent's wedding album is something like 6 pictures, by the way, so I think I should be able to tell the story of our day in 100 images or less.

The biggest question I had about cutting pictures was this: do I want this album to be for us, or for our children/grandchildren?  If it's for us, then I cram it full of pictures of our friends and pictures that are slightly fuzzy around the edges but show how much fun we had.  I include all the pictures of me cracking up.  So that someday, when life is difficult and the children are screaming about how we won't let them have a car and our parents are in and out of hospitals, we can look through the album and think, "All those things we hoped and promised and dreamed? I meant it all, every word."

I don't think I'll ever be able to look at this picture without thinking, "how lucky am I?"

If I want the album for posterity, for our children to look through and laugh at the funny fashions and marvel at how young we looked, how much Mark looks like our own son, how my hair used to be any color but gray, how much the world has changed since we got married.  How the more things change, the more things stay the same.  There are your grandmothers, doing the same reading from Ruth, that your grandparents did at their wedding.  My parents have a tiny wedding album, my mom lost her mother before I was born, and whenever I look at their wedding pictures, I want more pictures of them, of their parents, of my aunts and uncles.  I couldn't care less what their cake or tables looked like.
For the family, fewer kissing shots, more pictures of people that we know will still be in our lives in 50 years.
There is, of course, a balance here.  I cut a few of the shots of me cracking up, there are fewer pictures of friends playing with the photobooth props than I might have picked anyway, and the album focuses a lot more on Mark and I than I would have originally have decided.  But I didn't pick a lot of our posed portraits from the woods - instead, I went for the reception pictures.

Did anybody else face these issues when they sat down to pick their album pictures?  What did you end up deciding?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wedding Inspiration Help: Beth and Joe's Wedding

Last week our friend Beth came to me with a request for help in transitioning her sister's barn for their upcoming wedding.  The barn has unfinished frame walls (not rustic unfinished wood plank barn walls).  And it's a daytime/lunch wedding so they need ideas for how to hide the unfinished wall-ness without draping it in a ton of tulle, or covering it with twinkly lights, since it's a daytime wedding.  So far, we've brainstormed fabric, quilts on the walls or hay bales stacked high (but there are concerns this will make the room feel claustrophobic). What other ideas haven't we thought of? 

I love the look of this colorful draped fabric, which might pull attention away from the walls and make the barn feel taller.
Which brings us to issue 2 - the lighting.  The lighting in the barn is florescent, which is a little harsh for Beth's taste - so what else can they use to light a daytime event?  The only lighting terms I know are "uplights" "spotlights" and "gels" (I did lighting for our talent show in high school).   Is this much twinklyness too much for a daytime wedding? 
(by One Love Photo source

I am loving these wrought-iron chandeliers as a source of lighting - they fit with the barn and since the family owns the barn, they will probably let her hang them.  They could be hung pretty close to the tables. 
Issue # 3 is the theme, which we'll be talking a lot more about in the coming weeks - but I'm only bringing it up today because Mouse is doing an awesome giveaway today for Dandy You events.  I mention this because Beth is talking about having a rustic-festive county fair theme!  What is more perfect for a county fair theme than striped straws and fancy text banners that say things like "Just Married" over the front door of the barn where the newleyweds will enter?  So if you, like Beth and Joe, might be interested in fabulous party trappings for an adorably festive event, go over to Souris Mariage today and enter!

Do you have ideas for Beth and Joe?  Any wall covering or lighting ideas? Any sources for wrought iron chandeliers? 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Age Matters

Today is my birthday. I tell you this not because I want you all to wish me a happy birthday, but because I was thinking a lot about how I was eighteen when I met Mark, and seven birthdays later, here we are, still together.

Seven birthdays is a lot when you are only 26. Seven birthdays means that I was a teenager when I met my husband.  Seven birthdays means that somewhere, along the way, I went from being a confused and lonely college kid still trying to figure out her life to a lawyer.  I mean, seriously. When I met Mark, I had a lot of growing up left to do.  I suspect he did as well, he just did a better job of covering it.  At least these days, he's off to work in pants that don't have holes in them and a shirt that fits him.

I think having an older boyfriend in college helped me grow up a little bit faster - Mark was already extremely responsible, and so I started to be more responsible, because I wanted to impress him (and also make sure he didn't think it was a mistake to date somebody who was quite a bit younger than him.)  We also struggled a lot with the fact that we wanted to have a mature and adult relationship, but we weren't really adults yet.  So we started to mimic adult behaviors.  Adults did things like went on vacations together.  So we tried to go on vacations together.  Some of them were successes, some of them were failures, but all of them were learning experiences.  Adults went grocery shopping and cooked dinner together.  So we did that.  Adults went to bed at a reasonable time, and then got up in the morning at a reasonable time.  So we did that.  Adults had arguments. So we did that. Adults did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen. So we did that.  Adults went to dinner with their parents, whether they wanted to or not.  So we did that.  I think by going through the motions like that, we managed to grow up a lot and also set the stage for the life we live now.

The other thing about meeting young and dating for a long time and growing up together means that we dated for a lot longer than other people that get married.  If you think about it, most people who meet in high school or college date for at least six years before they get married.  So when I tell people that Mark and I were together for seven years before getting married, they are surprised.  Then I remind them that I was 25 when we got married, and getting married at 21 wasn't really in the cards for us.  But our friends meet now and date for a year or two, then get engaged and get married.  I think it's because when you are already grown-ups when you meet, and you don't have so much growing up left to do, and you also know whether you will be compatible with a person much faster (especially if you've already dated people.)  If anyone we knew in college had dated for a year and then announced they were getting married, we would have called them crazy.  But in the Real World of Being Grownups, my friends who date for a year get engaged and I say, "yay!" or if it's two years, I say, "finally!"

Did you meet young and date for a long time?  Did you grow up together?  Did one of you help the other one grow up?  Or have you met recently as full-fledged adults who already know who you are?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Albums, Part I

We haven't gotten a "real" album yet.  Why not?  Simply put, they are expensive; we were tired.  We have the money left from our budget to afford a nice album, so the question is: how much do we want to spend, and what company do we want to use?

See above, exhausted.  I don't want to do more research.  I don't want to design the album myself.  If I'm going to spend $400 on a flush mount album, but have to design it myself, I will agonize over it obsessively.  So, we're going pro.  I found through A Practical Wedding, and I fell in love with their selection.  Nothing that I had seen on Picaboo or any of the other companies that do flush mount albums had featured as many options for flush mount albums.  Nobody had the amazing brocade covers - and I love love love pretty fabric.  (See: wedding dress.)

I've narrowed our options down to two choices - the Flush Mount, or the Bordered Magazine Style.  Mark wants an album that feels substantial and impressive.  He really likes the look of the flush mount, but we both have trouble with the idea of spending that much money on an album.  Yes, our photographer was a steal. We get it.  We should be willing to spend the $1000 on an album.  But seriously, raise your hand if you think spending more than a month's rent is a wise thing for an unemployed person to do.

There are a lot of people who say that you should get an album so that your kids/grandkids can look through them, because they won't want to look at DVDs.  I get that.  But assembling an album for our children and grandchildren to look through is as easy as buying an archival quality album, getting good prints done, and putting pictures in an album.  I'm sorry, but it really doesn't have to be the flush mount goodness that we all swoon over.  And they say that the flush mount albums will last forever, but I have seen no proof of this and neither have the people that design them.

We could get a photobook done and call that our album, but I'm unwilling to do that.  If it's going to be our album, it's going to be an album. It's going to have heavy pages and a weighty feel to it, the way a photo album does when it's weighted down with pictures.  So the question is, do we go with the bordered magazine style, do we do the flush mount, or do we scrap it all and get prints done and put them in a fancy photo-album, the way my parents did and their parents did before that?