Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Shot List

I've tackled the shot list before, and now that our wedding is long over, I have some other ideas on the shot list.  For those who think that of course the photographer will take a picture of the bride with the bouquet, etc., I will remind you that we forgot/ran out of time to do any real "portraits" before the wedding and forgot during the actual picture time as well.

One of the comments I got on this post was to make sure I got a shot with my readers, since my friend Amanda didn't.  I read that and thought, "we don't have a reader," so I didn't think any more about it. We didn't have a reader, but we did have two ceremony musicians who I forgot to get a shot with until the very end of the night.  We also had a few people who I would have loved to get pictures with, like my cousin's wife who helped us get ready and was so busy running around and throwing us a wedding that we didn't get a chance to get a picture.

These things you may not be able to get in a shot list; but day-of, don't assume you'll get a shot with the person you are talking to later - grab your photographer (or somebody else with a camera - there will be about 100 of them) then and there and ask them to take a picture.  Make a list of the most important shots, that you'll be sad if you don't have - details, family photo lineups, and the more stylistic things, like getting shots of people dancing, etc., or to take pictures of the guests and not only of you and your new spouse.  Also, it is very very important to realize that your photographer is only one or two people, they will not capture absolutely everything, and if you want a casual, photojournalist style, you won't necessarily get pictures of everything.  (But oh man, the pictures you get will be amazing and they will make your heart sing and all you have to do on a crummy day is just look at them and feel better.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Email Vendors

Wedding vendors can be annoying.  They are cagey, they don't put their pricing on the website, and when you e-mail them, they try to suck you into a meeting so that you'll like them and book them no matter how outrageous they are.

My friend K. is getting married next year and as I like to pounce on the newly engaged, I asked her how it was going and she mentioned how frustrating it is to contact vendors, not hear back from them, and when she does hear back, can't figure out how much things cost.  Yes, I know how that is.  We certainly went through that, with all of the caterers, most of the DJs, and a couple florists.  In fairness, some of them can't know exactly how much it costs until they actually price it out, but there is no reason they can't ballpark it.

So finally I got the hang of emailing vendors to actually get a straight answer out of them.  It was easiest to start by telling them what we needed, and then see if they could give it to us.  So here is my email template:

Dear Vendor:  
My fiance and I are getting married on 10-10-10, and we are currently looking for VENDOR.  We are thinking to have [personal flowers using seasonal wildflowers/a DJ for the cocktail hour and reception/food that doesn't suck].  Our budget for this is about $500/1000/10,000.  Do you think that this would be possible, and if so, can you give us more information on your services and pricing?  
Thank you,
Ellie and Mark  

I found that this worked pretty well.  Some vendors got back to me and said, "that price is way too low and you are only going to find crummy quality at that price" (which turned out to be true for food; not that we went with the caterer that said that), but most got back to me and said, "that budget is definitely workable, this is what you can have for that price, if you can go up at all we can do this."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I don't think I've kept this a secret, but I LOVE stamps.  So I was really psyched when I had to wait in line at the post office the other day and I got to check out the awesome stamps for 2011.  Firstly, did you know that all commemorative stamps issued in 2011 are Forever stamps? So even if you are getting married "someday", you can stock up on them now.  Also, you can buy extra stamps for thank-you notes and other things, and not worry about them going "bad" (we used this method and I love always having stamps in the house. When we only have like, two sheets left, I go buy more Forever stamps.).

My favorites, hands down, are the "LOVE" stamps.  Usually the Love stamp is cheesy, but this one...well, I kinda think it's badass.
(I also think that my black hockey sweatshirt makes me badass, so it's possible my definition is off.)
But really, they are so cool.  I think they are the perfect wedding stamp for a slightly offbeat or outdoorsy wedding, and would have loved to use them.  
Some others?
If you are having a shipboard/waterfront/marina wedding, either of these are a nice choice.
If you are awesome.
For the really traditional.
Perfect for RSVP envelopes, especially if they are colorful.

For those holiday cards which make good use of your engagement or wedding pictures.

Anyone else share my glee for stamps?  What stamps are you using for your wedding?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Celebrations

Those red candles are part of a bridal shower gift that my sister in law got me.  The red ones are for celebrating promotions, and they've been taunting me since September.  

We burned the white candles, then the green ones, the pink ones, and these red ones were just waiting.  Waiting for me to find a job.  When I got a job, finally, I didn't burn the candles, because I thought my part-time job that paid less than a cashier at a grocery store wasn't worthy of burning the red candles. Then I lost my funding, and started looking for another job.  Nothing came, and the red candles just stared at me from the pile.  So finally, when I found a new job, again, a part-time position that pays well enough, but not great, I decided we would burn the candles this time.  Because all progress is a step forward and should be celebrated.  Because anything that I can contribute to our family feels good.  Because we both breathe a little easier when we're not living on one income.  

So not only did we make a fancy dinner and burn the candles, Mark brought me flowers.  He's brought me flowers something like four other times in our relationship, and I really like being surprised with flowers, so it meant a lot that he made the effort to get me them.  Once I get a "real" job, we'll probably go out for a fancy dinner someplace to celebrate for-reals, but for now, the small celebrations of the small victories work pretty well.  

Do you try to celebrate early and often, or are you celebration stingy? 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cylburn Arboretum

So I went out to Cylburn Arboretum yesterday to meet with their venue coordinator.  My friend Jen is most likely getting married there next June, and she couldn't meet with the venue coordinator because she's off being a fancypants optometrist in San Francisco. Since I'm bona fide wedding obsessed, I'm helping her out, and so I met with the lady from Cylburn.
Cylburn has recently built a new visitor center (above) with a fantastic wedding reception space that fits 200 people and a dance floor and has a huge floor to ceiling window on the back wall and will be an awesome blank canvas for decor (without *needing* to be decorated the way some blank canvas venues do).  The wedding ceremony can be held on the East Lawn, the Formal Gardens, the Lawn with the Gazebo, or the Flat Plain (the title for that one needs some work).

The outside area of the reception space (where the cocktail hour would be) looks like this:
(by me)
The inside venue has the same tall windows and views of the trees and light-colored wood accents and gray floor.

But here's the problem - I'm having trouble finding pictures of the space itself.  Even I don't have any from when we went to look at it, and yesterday, they were having a conference in there.  So is anybody else who reads this blog getting married/gotten married at Cylburn and have pictures of their ceremony site or reception space?  I even tried my usual trick of stalking photographer's blogs and can't even find anything there!  So if you can help us out, please post some links or send me an email.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Food for thought

A couple people I know have linked to this post on Jezebel about a couple's "Colonial Africa" themed wedding.  I think there are a lot of things worth talking about surrounding this issue, including - many people have said that the couple put their wedding out there, therefore it's fine for everybody to trash them, call them out for being racist, and generally make nasty comments about their insensitive wedding choices - but a lot of the comments don't seem to realize that the blog that Jezebel linked to is their photographer's blog, and not a larger style blog like Style Me Pretty.    Also, a discussion that is probably worth having is did the couple realize the waitstaff would be all-Black, because we certainly didn't know what anybody on our waitstaff looked like, and thinking back on it now, I have no idea what any of our waitstaff looked like.  Because I think we can all agree that while having a "Colonial Africa" theme is not a good idea, because the couple clearly romanticized colonialism and did not understand it, having a "Colonial Africa" theme and ordering or hand-picking an all-Black waitstaff to accompany it is a worse idea. 

Then there is the discussion this led to in the comments of whether or not we should have weddings on plantations.  And at what point do we ignore our history in favor of having a really nice venue?  And I grappled with this issue a little bit for our wedding.  Because two of the venues we looked at both had ties to slavery - the Elkridge Furnace Inn has a slave hut that you can pose for pictures in front of, and the Historic Waverly Mansion has a building that was used as a slave jail for escaped slaves from the underground railroad.  We would have had our ceremony right in front of it.  And we very seriously considered it, and the reason we didn't go with it wasn't because of the slave jail (although I think I would have moved the ceremony). 

So yeah, for those of us who want to have a wedding in a lovely historic mansion somewhere, how do we acknowledge the gruesome history that sometimes comes with it, without celebrating or ignoring it?  I know being in Maryland, which I sometimes refer to as the Almost-South, a lot of historic places come with a gritty history when it comes to slavery - but that we often have to pick between that and a hotel ballroom that doesn't feel like it has any history, and as a person who believes in preserving history, I would rather my money went to people who preserve history, gritty or otherwise, because it can't help any of us to ignore it.  So how do we do it without being insensitive?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


My friend K. just got engaged and I'm totally psyched for her.  So one of the first things I did was invite her to Pinterest.  Pinterest is a great way to catalog your wedding inspiration and details - the only annoyance is that it's invite-only.  But it's a really fun way to pull together ideas, and share ideas with other people.  For example, I created a board for my friend Jen, who is planning a black-and-white-and-red wedding for next June.  I also really like being able to make comments, which you can't do on a regular inspiration board.  Also, you can continually add things, which you can't do on an inspiration board, but everything is all in one place.  It also saves the links, which you can't do when you just right-click and save-as, so you aren't looking back through a mess of bookmarks and google images later to find those great invites.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard of Pinterest, but every once in awhile I see somebody saying, "what is Pinterest?" so I thought I would clear it up.  Pinterest is also great for assembling boards for home/personal style/books you want to read.

Do you use Pinterest? Do you use it for wedding planning or inspiration or "real life"?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Talking about your marriage

For some reason, when it comes to talking about my marriage, my instinct is to downplay how good it is.  I talk about how hard it is, how often we fight, how often my partner is annoyed at things that I do, or how often my partner is annoying.  I'm not sure why this is - whether it is too many years of bad TV shows with idiot husbands and their wives making fun of them; too many people in my life who talk smack about their own marriages; or maybe I'm just a negative person.  Because I know that it isn't because I have a bad marriage, because I don't.  But it has not escaped me that when I talk to other people, I sometimes put the emphasis on the bad parts.

With some people, it's a way of commiserating.  I know their relationships are difficult, and I don't want to rub in how good mine is.  With some people, particularly people who are older, divorced, or getting divorced, it's a way of trying to show that I'm not young, stupid, or delusional about my marriage.  With some people, it's a way of letting them know that I am secure in my relationship - that we fight, but it's our way of asking for what we need from each other.  But with some people, it's just me whining or trying to be funny, because through years of social conditioning, I've learned that it's funny to complain about your partner's flaws.

I know two things though: my partner doesn't talk about me or our marriage like I do, and I need to be more positive.  So how do I approach being more positive, without making myself seems silly?  How do I turn off complaining about my partner when sometimes I need to vent?  How do I talk about the difficult parts of my relationship without airing our dirty laundry all over town?

What do you do when you talk about your partner?  Are you able to stop yourself from complaining or being negative?  Do you have one or two specific people you do all your complaining to?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Happy 4th

We are home from the beach, where we did this.
See, last week, I took this idea and made this list:
Because we missed so much last summer (bar exam, campaign, wedding), we were determined to make up for it.  So one of the items was to ride a tandem.  Which was so awesome we are thinking about buying one, if we can figure out where to put it.  

So here's hoping you all had happy fourths, and if you are in the throes of wedding planning, don't forget to make time to have some fun!  

Friday, July 1, 2011

So exciting!

This weekend is a big weekend for weddings, including our (because she is "ours", no matter that this community doesn't have a name other than the #TBCB hashtag on twitter, which I don't know what it means...) very own Bunny.  
Bunny has been so totally there for me throughout the past...I think it's two years we've gone through this whole planning thing together.  Also, in the morning when I get up and try to put together some kind of stylish-yet-professional outfit, and I can't decide if it goes, I totally post it on twitter and once she tells me she likes it, I know I'm good to go.  Bunny has most certainly had more than her fair share of troubles throughout the planning process and in the past year, but here's hoping their fabulous Chicago wedding is a whole lot of fun for her and Mr. Beagle.