Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I don't need an excuse to play with makeup

. . . but I found one anyway!  The Mister's sister is getting married this weekend and since I'll be getting all gussied up for the big event, what better time than to do my first makeup trial!  I love makeup and wear it almost every day so naturally I'll be doing my own makeup for my wedding.  I even went so far to ask for gift cards to  Sephora for my last birthday and Christmas to fund my wedding makeup purchases.

Even though I wear makeup regularly, I don't get the chance to do special occasion makeup very often.  And my wedding day is the most specialist of all special occasions, so I need to step up my game.

That's right, it's time for some inspiration photos!

(Photos of Cameron Diaz and Kristen Bell from PopSugar; Naomi Watts from Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Reese Witherspoon from Girlznight)

I tried my best to stick to images of women with similar coloring as mine - blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin.  My eyes are my favorite feature and I really want the blue to pop. I'm really loving the picture of Reese.  The eyes stand out, she got a warm glow to her skin, and the lips are just the right shade of pink.  But what Cameron, Kristen, Naomi and Reese don't have in common with me is deep set eyes.  My eyes are much more like Taylor Swift's than these ladies. As a nearly 30 year old woman, I generally don't look to teenagers for style inspiration, but she's so classy.  Maybe a look like this would work.

(Photo from BeautySnob)

Now I know that as someone with blond hair and blue eyes I have nothing to complain about when it comes to finding makeup inspiration photos of women with my coloring.  But honestly, the pictures I'm the most drawn to are of women with a slightly darker complexion.  Maybe it's just because Bones and Dexter are two of my favorite shows, but I think Emily Deschanel and Jennifer Carpenter look fantastic in both of these photos.  Emily Deschanel has bone structure that's to die for!  And I love the look of the pale shimmery pink lipstick on Jennifer with that super dark hair and dark eyes.

(Photo of Emily Deschanel from Sodahead; Jennifer Carpenter from About.com)

I dyed my hair a shade similar to Emily Deschanel's once, but it just felt weird and I felt like it made my skin look even paler than what it is (which is already so pale that most of the time the lightest shade of foundation is too dark for me).  So I guess I'll have to stick to the towheads when it comes to beauty inspiration.    

Stay tuned for before and after photos of my first makeup trial!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Details Details: No Cake Wrecks Please!

We're jumping on the cake buffet bandwagon.  Well, that's what people will think anyway, though in reality I've wanted a self-serve cake buffet since the first time I heard about cake cutting fees.  I've got a massive sweet tooth so you don't have to convince me that having multiple cakes and other assorted goodies in lieu of a traditional wedding cake is a good idea.

(This picture makes me drool a little.  Via Snippet & Ink.)

But there are details that need to be hashed out.  Who will make the cakes?  What flavors do we want?  How many do we need?  Do we want non-cake options too?  What about cake stands?  Yikes.  So this cake buffet thing is definitely more work than ordering one big cake and being done with it.  But it's totally worth it to a) have all that deliciousness at our wedding, and b) avoid the cake cutting fee racket.

I briefly entertained the idea of hiring a local baker to just make all the cakes and deliver them to our venue the day of the wedding.  But when I calculated the cost, I realized that we could do this much cheaper on our own.  So, the plan right now is to make a couple of the cakes ourselves and maybe some cookies other non-cake sweets, have a close friend and the Mister's mom, who are both amazing bakers, make a couple of cakes (assuming they're willing, of course), and then maybe pick up a couple of cakes at a local bakery.  I figure cakes can be baked a few days in advance and then frozen, so this project won't be adding too much to our day before/day of to-do list and it's fun and totally within my limited DIY capabilities.

So now that we've got all that squared away, we can get to the fun part - picking recipes!  The Mister is adamant that we must have a carrot cake and a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  That's fine by me, and I'm thinking that we should have some cookies and brownies for people who don't like cake that much.  Plus, I definitely want a coconut cake and a bundt cake (or maybe even a bunch of mini bundt cakes!)

(Yummy and portable.  Maybe mini bundt cakes will be the new cupcakes.  Via Simply Sweet Home.)

Other than that, it's all up in the air.  Any tips on great recipes are appreciated!  What desserts are you serving at your wedding?

Friday, March 26, 2010

What the hell is an indie wedding anyway?

In the wedding blogophere there seem to be two types of weddings:  "traditional" and "indie."  I think we all know the hallmarks of a traditional wedding - think Shelby in Steel Magnolias but updated for 2010.  But the concept of an indie wedding confuses me a little bit, and to be quite honest when people talk about "indie" weddings I just nod my head and pretend like I know what they're talking about.  Are all non-traditional weddings "indie"?  Is "indie" just the catch-all category for everyone who decides to march to the beat of their own drum?  What if my drum likes some tradition? 

It's all so confusing. 
(If we wear Converse to our wedding, does that make it indie? No?  Okay.  Moving on.  Source)

Real weddings I've seen featured in the blogs that get labeled as "indie" all seem to have the same elements- lots of vintage, lots of mismatched, lots of handmade, and completely styled.  It's definitely a different aesthetic than traditional weddings, but underneath the bunting and mismathced thrift store china how are these weddings any different than a traditional wedding? I can't think of anything, can you?*  No matter what your personal aesthetic and attitude toward tradition may be a wedding is still a wedding - a ceremony that unites two people in marriage that is in most cases followed by a party celebrating the new marriage. 

So why am I sweating the "traditional" and "indie" labels?  I think they are completely unhelpful and really do a disservice to those of us who don't fall into either category.  People seem to have this need to label and categorize and these categories just aren't cutting the mustard. Huge swathes of people are being left out.  I am not having a traditional wedding, but I'm not having an "indie" wedding either.  I'm having an "us" wedding - a wedding that uniquely reflects me and my Mister.  I just really wish there were more resources out there that celebrated "us" weddings.  To be sure, there are a few great ones (A Practical Wedding being my personal favorite) and I am very lucky to have found these resources early on in my planning.  But I cannot even imagine how much more stressful wedding planning would be if I hadn't a support system online early on, especially since not all of our loved ones really understand what we're trying to do with our wedding and seem mystified by the fact that we're not doing things like every other wedding they've been to.  But once they see it they'll get it (hopefully) and they'll enjoy themselves (hopefully) and then they won't be so confused the next time someone they love plans an "us" wedding. 

* Well, I guess I can think of one difference.  Hipsters.  For all my confusion about indie weddings, I definitely associate them with hipsters.  Hipsters have "indie" weddings.  And for this reason alone I cannot fathom having an "indie" wedding.  I know and love many a hipster (though they'd probably cringe if they knew I thought they were hipsters), but do not have an ounce of hipster in me.  If you have any confusion on what constitutes a hipster, check this out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reality Check

In case you missed it, I'm reposting this DIY Reality Check Flowchart featured on 100 Layer Cake last week in a post by guest blogger Rachel from Heart of Light

This flowchart is a lifesaver, especially if you're like me and have never been particularly crafty but have been bitten by the DIY wedding bug.  DIY fabric hair flower?  Totally makes it through the flowchart.  (Good thing, because I already did it!)  DIY flowers?  Ermmm...notsomuch.  Question 1 on the flow chart:  Do I have skills in this area?  Hells no!  I have a total black thumb.  I mean, I guess I could put together a bouquet if I didn't care at all what my flowers look like.  Question 2:  Do I really want / have time to learn?  No and no.  There.  Problem solved.  I will be hiring a florist.

The flowchart is a total sanity saver and helps me keep my burning desire to save money in check with reality.  The only reason why I would DIY my flowers is to save money.  What did the flowchart help me realize?  Besides the fact that pretty much the last thing I'd want to do the day before my wedding is drive into downtown L.A. (on a weekday during rush hour no less) to go to the Flower District, I don't know how much money I'd actually save by doing my flowers on my own since we aren't having a ton of flowers in the first place.   Oh, and let's not forget the fact that after picking up the flowers we'd have to actually make time to arrange them without it looking like I assigned this task to a couple of kindergarteners.  Will hiring a florist put me over budget?  Probably.  Silly old me thought I could DIY practically everything back in the day when the budget was made.  But this is definitely one of those projects that's worth going over budget for because it will save my sanity.  I can scrimp elsewhere, if need be.

Plus, now I can have a bouquet that looks like this*

(Photo from The Knot)
Instead of like this

*This is just one of the many bouquets I love.  A post on bouquets is soon to come.  Patience, my dears.  Patience.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our 1st Hidden Cost

Our venue has a built in speaker system.  Our venue contract says that all DJs must use the built in speakers and that if we hire a DJ that's not on their approved DJ list an extra fee of $50 will be charged and an extra security deposit will be required.  The contract says nothing else about using the speaker system.  Our contract came with a list of extra things that we could rent from them for an additional fee, like space heaters, tablecloths, etc.  The sound equipment was not on that list. 

From this, wouldn't you assume that the use of the speaker system is included in the venue rental price?  Well technically it is.  But what isn't included is the equipment to connect to the speaker system so you can actually play music.  If you hire a DJ, they bring their own equipment to connect to the speaker system.  We, however, will be self DJing.  So we have to pay an additional $375 to rent their equipment to connect to the speaker system.  Le boo.

This would be easier to swallow if they gave us self DJers the option to bring our own equipment to connect to the system, but I don't think they do.  (Side Note:  I say "I don't think" because this is what I think the wedding coordinator said, but one of our cell phones was cutting out intermittently and I was in the car with background noise when this conversation went down, so I'm not 100% sure.  Dammit.  I don't want to have to call her again.  Maybe I'll make the Mister do it.)  If a pro DJ can bring their own equipment, why can't I?  I don't get it. 

I kinda want to argue this with our venue but don't want to do anything that could end up damaging our otherwise good relationship with them, which could come back to bite us in the butt later.  Have you run into hidden costs in your wedding planning?  How did you handle it? 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I need a vacation

This month has been crazy.  My weekends have been busier than my work weeks and this weekend is no exception.  I'm attending a bachelorette party today; we're going wine tasting in the Temecula Wine Country.  It should be fun and I'm sure I'll enjoy myself, but right now as I sit here in my pajamas all I can think about is how I would really love to stay in my pajamas all day long.  Alternatively, I'd like to take my honeymoon now, s'il vous plait.

Ah, the honeymoon.  It's already fully planned and has been for months.  You can tell where my priorities are.

(All photos from Hilton.com.) 

Thanks to my Dad and his fantabulous timeshare, we'll be staying at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort on Hawaii's Big Island.  This is our kind of place.  It's fairly small (120 units) and every unit is a 2 bedroom suite with a private lanai.  We've got one that overlooks the golf course.  Nice and serene.  But there is still plenty to do in the area.  Hilton has a much larger hotel resort nearby and we have full access to it, plus we can always head into town for some sightseeing.  We plan on taking a helicopter tour of the island, scuba diving, kayaking, golfing and perhaps going sailing if I can convince the Mister that he won't get seasick.  Besides that, the goal is to R-E-L-A-X. 

Relaxation.  What a novel concept.  I'll get to it one of these days.  

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that there is a poolside bar.  I may never leave.

Do you wish you could push up your honeymoon?  Where are you going?  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ginger Pride!

Alas, I am not a ginger.  But my sister is, and she is beautiful both inside and out.  She will be my maid of honor and my one and only attendant.  Since our colors are purple and green, it was a no brainer that she should wear a green dress to our wedding.  There's nothing quite as stunning as a true ginger in green. :)

I thought the task of finding a green dress for my sister would be easy peasy.  I could waltz into any old department store and pick one up off the racks.  Boy was I wrong.  Finding a dress that's a shade of green I like, that's affordable and that goes with the style of our wedding is hard!  A little more elbow grease is definitely needed.  So, here's my version of elbow grease:  go to Google, enter different variations on "green dress", and wade through a ton of crap to find the few gems.

Here's one I just found today that actually inspired me to put this blog post together because I LOVE it.  It's a great shade of green, it's classy, understated and a great cut for my sister's body.  The one problem?  It's out of stock.  But if it comes back in stock I just might swoop it up.

(Grecian Green Dress from Modcloth)

I love this one too.  The shade of green is nice, though a little less bright than what I was hoping for.  My only hesitation is that it's a "bridesmaid dress" that needs to be ordered through an authorized retailer so you can't really just go and try it on.  I was hoping to avoid that whole mess by having just one attendant!

I like the cut of this dress, but I'm not so sure about the shade of green.  In case you can't tell, I'm partial to high necklines.  And it's a David's Bridal dress, so I can easily see the actual color and dress in person.  Plus, I since I bought my dress there, I have a coupon for bridesmaid dresses!  I love me some coupons.
(David's Bridal dress in Clover)

I like this one, but don't love it.  I'm not sure I want her in a strapless dress, but a cute cardigan or shrug over this might make it work.

(Donna Morgan dress at Nordstrom via ShopStyle)

So far, the first dress is the only one I'm 100% sold on, but like I said, it's out of stock.  So I have to just keep looking.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Details Details: Beer Me!

From the get-go, we new we wanted a self-serve bar at our wedding.  I envisioned beer bottles sitting on ice in galvanized tubs, one or two pre-mixed signature drinks in glass dispensers along with iced tea and lemonade, and water and bottles of wine on the dinner tables.  One of my standard questions when researching venues was whether they required a bartender or not.  So when we fell in love with our venue, the fact that it also did not require a bartender was just icing on the cake.  Everything was rainbows and butterflies until one day I happened to be looking at our venue contract and realized it states loud and clear:


What the what???  I got some clarification from our contact at the venue and she said that what they are concerned about is people walking around with glass containers and dropping them, shattering glass all over the wood deck and getting glass between the planks and in the soil.  So wine bottles are fine and glass drink dispensers are fine, but no glass beer bottles.  My vision of galvanized buckets full of assorted beers was scrapped in one fell swoop.  I will be having kegs at my wedding.

So we're going to have to find a way to hide or prettify the kegs.  Of course, I turned to my trusty internets for inspiration.

Option 1:  We could make no attempt to hide the kegs and instead play up the casual, outdoorsy vibe of our wedding by doing something like this:

(Victoria and Fritz's wedding featured on Once Wed)

Beer in a canoe?  Pretty unique.  And I like the sign.  

Option 2:  Hide the kegs in plain sight by putting the kegs in something like this.

(Val and Garth's wedding featured on Once Wed)

I think this is so cute!  And they even dressed up the plastic cups by putting little chalkboard name tags on them.  This idea is definitely a keeper.

Option 3:  Build a box to cover the kegs with holes on the top for the taps to stick through.  A homemade bar if you will. I couldn't find a picture of this, but there was a thread on the Weddingbee boards that suggested this idea.  This would only work if we got the kind of keg taps that don't require you to pump the keg.

Which brings me to my next point of concern - serving the beer.  I have a confession to make.  I do not know how to tap a keg.  Every keg party I've been to (all 5 of them) the keg had to be pumped, but I know that you can get special taps so that you don't have to pump.  Since I don't know how to properly serve beer from a keg, I don't want to jump to the conclusion that my guests will either.  So I'm thinking that we'll definitely want to get the CO2 taps to eliminate the pumping.  

Are you having kegs at your wedding?  What are you doing to prettify them?

Monday, March 15, 2010

An Organic Wedding

We want our wedding to be organic.  I'm not talking about food or flowers or fabrics, though.  I'm talking about timelines and scripting and programs.  We will not be adhering to a strict timeline for our wedding; just general guidelines on the flow of things.  We want things to happen naturally and not feel forced.  We want to enjoy ourselves on our wedding day instead of being micromanaged by a Day of Coordinator (DOC).  We want to do what feels right in the moment and not blindly adhere to a list of things you must do on your wedding day.
(Loved Frank in the movie, but on my wedding day, notsomuch.  Source)

To accomplish this, we have made a series of calculated decisions.  Our venue doesn't require weddings to start or end at any particular time.  We have the lodge for 2 nights so we can rehearse if we feel like it the night before the wedding, and on our wedding day we can start as early as we want and end as late as we want.  So long as we're out by Sunday at 10 a.m., we're golden.  We've decided not to hire a DOC, but instead have asked the Mister's sister to operate as our informal DOC.  That way we have someone to step in and provide some direction to our guests as needed, but we don't have to worry about someone telling us what we "need" to do next at every turn.*  Finally, we're scrapping a lot of the typical things that you see at weddings, at least in our neck of the woods.  No bouquet toss, no garter toss, no dollar dance (don't even get me started on this one), no slideshow, no grand entrance, no forced "making the rounds" during dinner.  Besides our somewhat traditional scripted ceremony, the first dances and the cake cutting, I can't really think of any "traditional" elements we are incorporating.  And I like it that way.  I'll "make the rounds" when I damn well please thankyouverymuch.

*Well after we decided not to have a DOC, I ended up having a conversation with a DOC who was trying to convince me of all the reasons why I needed a DOC.  The conversation pretty much consisted of her telling me how she would be there rightbymyside the whole time making sure I stuck to the schedule.  Barf.  The only good thing that came out of this convo was that I'm pretty much guaranteed to never second guess my decision not to hire a DOC.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When Life Gets In The Way

I feel like I have been completely unproductive on the wedding planning front the past few weeks.  Life is just getting in the way.  The Mister's sister is getting married in a few weeks, so our weekends are busy with bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and lending a helping hand.  On top of that, the Mister is turning 30 tomorrow and I threw him an epic party last night.  So yesterday was shot (though it was totally worth it!) and today . . . well, you can imagine how I'm feeling today.

In reality, I haven't been entirely unproductive.  I signed our catering contract and finalized our menu and service options.  I scheduled our engagement photo shoot.  I just haven't been able to start tackling any new big DIY projects . . . and I kinda want to (invitations, I'm looking at you).  I may regret what I'm about to write, but I look at these projects as a stress reliever, not a stress creator.  Maybe it's because I'm in a high stress profession, but I am really looking forward to just vegging out and doing arts and crafts.  I can't imagine crafting being more stressful than arguing before a judge.  But then again, the collective widsom of brides before me says that I'm fooling myself on this one.  DIY projects almost inevitably create some stress.

But for now, I'm choosing to ignore that collective wisdom.  I'm sure this decision will come back to haunt me, but for now I need wedding projects to be a stress reliever in my mind.  If I think of them as a source of stress, it might just tip me over the edge.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Evolution of Our Centerpieces

Centerpieces.  For some reason, I latched onto centerpieces early in the planning process as a critical decision.  I don't know why I did this, but hey, at least I got something done early.  At first, I was liking the idea of galvanized buckets.

The Mister and I both have an aversion to tall centerpieces, so we wanted smaller buckets than the one pictured above.  But after search and searching and searching, we were completely unable to find buckets that we liked.  In person, the metal was splotchy looking and after buying one and seeing how it looked with our purple tablecloths, we just didn't like them all that much.  So we moved on to other ideas.

At some point in the hunt for galvanized buckets, I started thinking about potting plants inside the buckets instead of using cut flowers.  It's cheaper and more environmentally friendly.  Plus, we plan on DIY-ing our flowers, so eliminating cut flower centerpieces will dramatically decrease the amount of work to be done the day before the wedding.  With this in mind, I started thinking about using planter boxes for centerpieces.

This is gorgeous!  Obviously, the flowers are cut, but it still gave me an idea of what would look good in a wood planter box.  Low blooms with bright colors.  Ikea sells a strikingly similar planter box (it might even be the same one, actually) for only $3.99, too!  
(Bjuron planter from Ikea)

One morning we trekked out to our local Ikea to buy some DVD storage boxes and decided to pick up one of these planters to see how it looked.  The Mister was not a huge fan, mostly because of the uneven stain on the wood.  We picked one up anyway just to see how it looked with our tablecloths.  

Right across the aisle from the planter boxes was the candle section.  And we both instantly noticed these awesome lanterns.
(Borrby lanterns from Ikea)

We bought one of each color and headed home.  After placing each lantern and the planter on one of our purple tablecloths, the decision was unanimous - the Black Borrby lantern was it.  We bought a bright green pillar candle to go inside it and it just looked fantastic with the purple tablecloths.    

But the centerpieces needed something else to feel complete.  I started searching for lantern centerpieces to get inspired and found this gem on The Knot.

It's the same lantern!  I found some river rock at The Dollar Store for, well, $1 per bag.  Instead of using succulents, I think we will use the heads of large blooming cut flowers, like mums or dahlias.  I bought some mums one day at the grocery store and popped the heads off of a few to see how long they would last and was pleasantly surprised that they looked good for a couple of days.  Yay!

Centerpieces can now be checked off the to-do list.  And without further ado, a picture of our centerpiece mock-up.
(personal photo)

Sorry for the poor image quality.  It was taken on a Blackberry and the flash totally washed out the colors.  What do you think?  Would you add anything else?  

Friday, March 12, 2010

Invitation Embellishments for the Craftiness Challenged

Last night around 9:30 p.m., I decided to open up Word and start fiddling with our invitation layout.  We've decided to go with the booklet style invitations, but haven't put anything down on paper yet.  According to the PaperSource tutorial I told y'all about previously, I should be able to print two invitation pages on one letter size piece of paper.  So the first step would be to create a template that sets the margins where we need them to be and puts two invite pages on one letter size piece of paper. 

Long story short, I suck and would be lost without the Mister when it comes to computers.  Around 9:50, the Mister heard me grumbling and asked what was the problem.  I told him what I was trying to do and he did it in approximately 30 seconds. It is nothing more than a table consisting of two cells fixed to the size we need for our invitations.  Why didn't I think of that?

By the time the Mister came to my rescue I decided to quit while I was ahead so I never actually got to the fun part.  But I did start thinking about affordable ways to embellish our invitations.

The Mister and I are both big fans of desk embossers.  You can customize the plates to have your monogram, return address, or whatever your heart desires!  Plus, in the grand scheme of things they are fairly affordable.  You'll spend around $50-60 for the desk embosser and one custom plate.  Plus, we'd totally reuse this after the wedding.  What a great way to jazz up Christmas cards!  The only downfall is that the largest desk embosser I've seen can accommodate up to a 2" plate, so this isn't really an option if we want to do something larger.

Heat embossing is another option.  I've never done heat embossing before, and it scares me a little bit.  And I have to admit, I had never heard of heat embossing before I started researching DIY invitations.  Since I've never heat embossed before, far be it from me to tell y'all how it's done.  I defer to Ms. Fondue's tutorial on heat embossing.  There are plenty other tutes out there though, so get your Google on!


Step one of heat embossing is to stamp the paper with the design you want to emboss.  But if heat embossing is too much work, why not just leave it at that and go have yourself a glass of wine?  You can buy cute rubber stamps at any craft store and use the ink to impart some more color to your invitation suite. Or you can even order custom rubber stamps online!  Here's an adorable one from an Etsy seller.
(Etsy seller lovetocreatestamps' creation)

I've also heard that you can buy special stamp pads where the ink is translucent so you can use the stamp as a watermark and print right over it. 

The picture of that stamp reminds me of another embellishment . . . wax seals!  I think these are great for sealing the inner envelope on your invitation suite, but I don't think we're going to do inner envelopes, so let's move on.


Cricut is obviously the mother of all paper cutters, but since a Cricut is not exactly affordable I won't tease you all with all the amazing things it can do.  But don't worry!  There are other options!  There are handheld craft punches that punch out different preset shapes and sizes.  Here's a heart shaped one I found at Save-on-Crafts for $8.30.  You can also get other basic shapes like circles, rectangles, and tags.  If you want a custom shape, this obviously isn't the route for you, but if you're like us and just want a cheap way to liven things up a bit, the price can't be beat.  

That's all this not-too-crafty bride can think of for now.  I'm pretty satisfied with these options.  They're simple and accessible, and I think any one of these embellishments will give our invitations that little something special to make them stand out.  What do you think?  Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Go With Your Gut

I love food.  The Mister also loves food.  But when it comes to the foods we love, the Mister and I differ quite a bit.  My perfect dessert is tiramisu, the Mister's is peanut butter cups.  I think you get the picture.  Yet, when the time came to discuss what kind of food we want to serve at our wedding, we were both on the same page.
(Mmmm....that's what I'm talkin' bout!  Source)

That's right.  We'll be serving down home, mouth watering, stick to your ribs BBQ.  Once we came to this agreement, I started looking for BBQ caterers all across Southern California.  We had a couple of delicious local BBQ restaurants on the list - Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ and Canyon City - and the rest were all foreign to us.  My main criteria were that they were affordable, full service, and (most importantly) absolutely delish.  Obviously, to figure out whether the delish criteria was satisfied we'd need to do some tastings.  Life is tough, what can I say.

Our first outing was on my 29th birthday.  I decided that if a big group of us were going to get together for my birthday dinner, why not go to one of the BBQ restaurants on our list and kill two birds with one stone.  So we all met up at Joey's BBQ, a BBQ joint really close to where we live but had never been to before.  I'd heard really great things, but in the end no one was very impressed with the food.  Oh well.  

After the experience at Joey's, the Mister and I had a good talk.  And by "good talk" I mean the Mister talked some sense into me.  It went something like this:

Mister:  In theory, we could continue to drive all over Southern California tasting BBQ with no guarantee that we will like what we taste.  But is that how you want to use your precious spare time?
Me:  Not really.
Mister:  Will engaging in this wild BBQ chase end up saving us a ton of money?
Me:  Not really.
Mister:  So what's the point of tasting the food at every BBQ joint from here to San Diego?
Me:  Ummmm.... (cue crickets chirping)

So, we looked at Lucille's and Canyon City's offerings a little closer, spoke with someone at Canyon City and found out that they only offer pick-up or drop-off catering, not full service or grill-on site, and BOOM the decision was made.  Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ will be catering our wedding.

Don't get me wrong, it was hard at first for me to suppress my deep-seated need to bargain hunt.  But the Mister was totally right on this one.  Deep down, we both wanted Lucille's to cater our wedding from the get go.  Our guts, both literally and figuratively, were telling us Lucille's was what we wanted to eat at our wedding.  But there's something about wedding planning that compels me to research things to death, even when it is totally unnecessary.   That's where the Mister steps in and reminds me that if this were any other party we were planning I would have gone with Lucille's from day one, no questions asked.  So why should our wedding be any different?  It shouldn't.  Thank you Mister.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You betta check yo self before you wreck yo self

Every so often a masochistic urge takes over me and I log onto The Knot to see how many things are on this month’s to-do list.  This morning I caved to the destructive urge and logged on.  It started out okay. 207 days left until your wedding, the site proclaimed.  Phew, that’s still a long ways away, right?  Then, I see the dreaded words: “311 items to do, 51 items overdue.”

Not good people, not good.  And this is after I already went through the checklist and removed all the items that did not apply to our wedding.  Yikes!  Now, I know The Knot’s checklist is repetative (for example, on this month’s to-do list, “start a wedding registry” and “fill out your wedding registry” are two separate entries) but still...I’d have to complete 1.5 items per day to get everything done.  Let’s be real; that’s not going to happen. 

What’s funny about all of this is that I actually feel like I have things under control and that we’re moving at a good pace with our wedding planning until I look at that g-d checklist!  This could be interpreted one of two ways: either I am in denial about the progress of my wedding planning, or The Knot is actually a tool of the man to make bride’s lives more difficult.  I’m going with the latter.  

Maybe I need to develop my own checklist to help me stop looking at the one on The Knot.  Yes, believe it or not, I have not made a comprehensive wedding checklist.  I make to-do lists for everything, but the thought of putting together a comprehensive checklist for an event this big overwhelms me a little.  Instead, I've just been making little to-do lists for the week or the month.  My problem with to-do lists is that once I have one in hand, I want to get everything on it done now.  And that's just not possible with a wedding checklist.  So while I may save myself the occasional torture of seeing how behind I am on The Knot's checklist, I might end up causing myself more stress if I make my own.

Did you make a comprehensive checklist for your wedding, or did you just rely on The Knot or another website?  Any suggestions on how to tackle this situation?

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Search for Shoes

Now that I’ve got my dress squared away, it’s time to get down to the really difficult task – finding the perfect shoes to wear with it.  You might recall how I absolutely love the idea of wearing gold flat sandals.  It’s a good thing I fell in love with this look well before buying a dress, because now flats are a need, not a want.  I’m a little over 5’8” tall and my dress was just the right length when I tried it on barefoot.  Even a 1” heel on me would probably mean that the hem of the dress wouldn’t hit the floor.  I’m okay if the dress floats ever so slightly above the floor, but full inch is too much for my tastes. 

I’m not bothered by having to wear flats.  I want to be comfortable and the Mister and I are pretty much the same height and I don’t want to tower over him.  Plus, the flooring for our outdoor venue is a wood plank deck, so a narrow heel that could get stuck between the planks is out of the question.  What I didn’t anticipate, though, was how difficult it would be to find gold flat sandals that feel special enough to wear with my wedding dress and but that aren’t too blingy.  Here are some contenders thus far:

My most recent find is the Nadia sandal by Calvin Klein.  I think I need to see this one in person.  It’s got rhinestones, which could look garish if not done right.  I’ve never known Calvin Klein to not do things right though, so this are probably the front runners at this point.
(photo from Macy’s)

Then there are these bad boys by Moschino.  They are very expensive, but I’d definitely wear them after the wedding.  So maybe I could write them off as a personal expensive instead of a wedding expense? Who am I kidding.  I’d never buy a $450 pair of sandals for everyday wear.  This is a wedding expense.  Sigh.  But they have a heart on them!  How appropriate for the occasion. 

(photo from Nordstrom’s)

These are cute.  I like the flower detail but I wonder if it might be too distracting or casual.  But at $49, they certainly are priced right.

(photo from Zappos)

These Charles David sandals are nice, too.  They’re simple, but not too simple.  I like their strappiness and would definitely wear these again.  I haven’t had much luck with this style sandal in the past though because my foot runs wide.  The straps tend to cut into me.  Maybe if I order a half size bigger?
(photo from Zappos)

There are a few problems I’m running into in my search for the right sandal. 
  • The gladiator sandal trend is dominating the market right now.  While I love a good gladiator sandal, they don’t go with the style of my dress at all.  
  • I don’t want my foot to be too bare.  By nature, most sandals are bare.  
  • I don’t really want to wear flip flops.  There goes half of the sandal market.  
  • The concept of “evening flats” seems to have escaped the shoe industry.  Whenever I look through the “special occasion” sections in shoe departments (both online and in store) everything has a heel! 

What do you think of the sandals I’ve posted?  Does any one jump out at you?  Should I expand my search beyond sandals?  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Invitation Inspiration

From day one, we knew we were going to DIY our invitations.  We decided to do an email Save the Date through our wedding website, so our invitations will be the first physical item that our guests receive for our wedding.  We want our invitations to make a great first impression and convey the overall feel of our wedding, but we don’t want to break the bank either.

Originally, we really liked invitations that had a vintage, almost western-y feel to them, without being overly literal of course.  I especially liked this one.
(Vintage Carnival invitation by Two Trick Pony)

While we were at a bridal fair, the Mister saw an invitation designed like a ticket and was hooked on that idea for a while.  But we couldn’t find a ticket style invitation online that we liked as much as the one at the bridal fair and the stationer at the bridal fair doesn’t have a picture of the invitation on their website.  Le boo.  Here’s a pretty cool ticket-inspired invite, though it is absolutely nothing like the one we saw at the bridal fair.
(Custom Invitation by Unit Design Collective)

Then, along came Etsy.  I found this invitation on Etsy and fell in love.  This is the first invitation I found that actually made me second guess our decision to DIY, if only for a brief moment.
(Modern Scroll invitation by LetterPunch Design)

If we bought these we’d go slightly over budget, and after getting a sample in the mail I decided that while there were certain elements that I loved, overall I only liked the invitation.  Ergo, not worth going over budget.  Plus, I’ve been looking forward to DIYing the invitations and didn’t want to give the project up!

While scrolling through iDIY, I stumbled upon this lovely invitation, and instantly loved the idea of a booklet invitation. 
(reader submitted DIY invitation from iDIY)

While searching for other booklet style invitations, I also found Weddingbee’s one and only Mrs. Lime’s DIY invitations, which were made with backings from PaperSource, which ultimately lead me to this handy-dandy tutorial from PaperSource on how to make your own booklet invitations!  Score! 

And just to make you drool, here is some more booklet invitation wedding porn.
(Custom design from Dolce Press)
(Reader submitted DIY invitations from Oh So Beautiful Paper)

And last, but certainly not least, is the mother of all booklet invitations.  If I had the talent and time to craft these I totally would.  They take unique to a whole new level.
(DIY invitations by Ryan Masuga for his own wedding)

If you haven’t seen these invites already, you seriously need to go check out all of the photos on Ryan’s website. 

I know I'm dreaming big here.  Obviously, letterpress and thermography are out of the question.  And I don’t own a Gocco or a Cricut or any other nifty (but expensive) devices that are all the rage in the DIY wedding universe.  But a girl can dream, can’t she? In the words of Tim Gunn, I'll just have to find a way to make it work.

You likey?  What’s your invitation inspiration?  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Deciding on the Dress

Since I'm laying low today due to my fever, I figured I should take this time to regale you with the story of how I found my dress.

Looking for the perfect bridal gown is a cherished childhood pastime.  When my sister and I were young, we'd ride our bikes to the local library and check out as many bridal magazines as we could carry and then proceed to flip through every page claiming dresses for ourselves left and right.  The bigger and poofier the dress, the better. This hobby fell to the wayside as we got older, but when I got engaged it brought me right back to my childhood. Problem was, I was all over the map in terms of my taste.  Slim cut allover lace?  Love it!  Belted goddess dresses?  Love it, too!  Ruched bodice?  Love it even more!

Despite my love of searching the internet for dresses, I was actually very nervous about going into shops and trying them on.  I've been in bridal boutiques before and never really liked anything I saw in the stores. Pictures of dresses are one thing, seeing them in person is another. The dresses were all so heavy and embellished to the nth degree.  So even though I had about a million dresses bookmarked in my web browser, I knew that once I saw most of them in person the love would fade.  I was also afraid that I wouldn't like anything that was within my $1,000 budget and that the samples would be too small, leaving me with no idea how the dresses would really look on me.


Friday, March 5, 2010

All By Myself, Don't Wanna Be

All by myself

(That's me summoning Celine Dion, btw)

The Mister is on his way to Vegas for the weekend for his FBIL's bachelor party.  I planned on capitalizing on this weekend of solitude to tackle a huge to-do list - which contains nothing wedding related.  My house is dirrrty (hello two dogs!) and I am throwing the Mister a 30th Birthday Party next weekend and have done absolutely nothing to prepare for it.

Instead, I woke up this morning with a fever and mild body aches.  The aches are staying consistent and the fever is rising.  I dropped the Mister off at his friend's house about 3 hours ago so they can carpool to Vegas, and an hour later he texted me saying he forgot his Blackberry charger and would be turning his phone off to conserve his battery.  Boo!  I'm normally a trooper when I'm sick, but I just want him to be here and take care of me!  I'm craving Jamba Juice and I just want to look at him with puppy dog eyes and ask if he'll go out and get me one.  And he would, because he loves me.  And I would do the same, because I love him.

What has happened to me?  My whole life I've been all about being a strong, independent woman who, in this circumstance, doesn't need a man to go get her some Jamba Juice when she's perfectly capable of getting behind the wheel and getting one herself, fever and all.  I'm still that strong woman, but I've grown.  The Mister has helped me uncover my softer, more vulnerable side, and I like it.  My sister has even commented on this before, ever so delicately informing me that I'm "a lot nicer now."  Geez, thanks sis. :)

But the problem with this newly uncovered side of me is that now here I am, home alone and sick, and I know what it's like to have someone take care of me in my illness and it is so.much.better than taking care of myself.  Alas, I'm left with two choices - wallow in my misery all weekend or summon my grrrl power and go get the Jamba Juice myself.  (Note: ignoring the Jamba Juice craving is impossible, so don't even ask.)

What is a girl to do?  Don't let the suspense kill you.

P.S. I don't have the energy to try to find cute pictures to liven up this post.  You'll just have to make do.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I spent my junior year of college studying abroad in Paris, France and Geneva, Switzerland.  For the first month I lived with a family in Paris while I was working on my French and getting immersed in the culture, and then moved on to Geneva (which is is the French-speaking part of Switzerland and right on the French border) to take classes at the University for the year.  In France, it is tres gauche to talk about money, and it is a widespread stereotype that Americans just l.o.v.e love talking about cold, hard cash.  I don't know whether I agree with this stereotype or not, but that's not the point.

The point is that I'm about to seriously offend some Frenchmen.

That's right, it's time to talk budget.  In all the wedding blogs I read, I've noticed two lines of budget talk.  It's either a) we don't have a lot of money and are on a tight budget, or b) I have a big* budget and make no apologies for it.  Well, the Mister and I fall into neither of these categories, and my gut tells me that we are not the only ones.  We are blessed to have great jobs that pay us well.  We have made conscious decisions in our lives to make sure that we live well within our means, and this principle also applies to how we approach our wedding budget.  When we created our wedding budget, the question we asked ourselves was "how much do we feel comfortable spending?", not "what can we afford?".  With this in mind, we came up with a budget range of $12,000 to $15,000.  $12,000 is the target, but we'd feel comfortable spending up to $15,000, give or take some, of course.  This does not include the cost of rings or our honeymoon.  We already have more than enough money in our savings to cover this, but really plan on paying as we go as much as possible so we don't put too much of a dent in our savings.

We're still trying to stick to our budget as much as possible, but as time has gone on and wedding planning has progressed, our attitude toward the costs of our wedding has changed slightly.  We are both comfortable with going over budget, so long as it is for something that we really, truly want.  For example, I could care less about having a videographer at our wedding, but people keep nudging me toward getting one.  If I cave and it sends me over budget, well that's not going to make me happy.  I hate paying for things I don't want!  But, on the other hand, the Mister and I really want to take the portion of our reception area closest to the dance floor and make it a lounge area so people who don't enjoy dancing that much (which includes the two of us) have a place to hang out that's not their dining table.  If the cost of renting or buying patio furniture for this lounge area sends us over budget, we're fine with it because it's something we both want and will enjoy.  This is all within reason, of course.  The issue with this new attitude is that it will be easy to consistently go over budget a little bit for things we want, and then end up WAY over budget.

Though how much the Mister and I spend on our wedding is nobody's business but ours, I decided to share because I think that it will give you readers much needed perspective.  I know that there have been many times when I've found a wedding on the blogs and wished I knew how much they spent.  If I absolutely adore the wedding, but know that they spent $50,000, that tempers my love for the wedding and gives me a dose of reality.  I too could have a wedding like that if I wanted to spend that much money, but I don't want to spend that much money so I'm okay with not having a wedding like that.  What's frustrating is finding a wedding that the blogs label as "budget" or "DIY"** and give you the impression that it was done on the cheap, when in fact it wasn't.  So I'm letting y'all know our budget up front.  It's only fair, in my book.

* There is obviously no bright line between what constitutes a "big" budget and a "medium" or "little" budget.  But for the purposes of this conversation, it doesn't really matter.  So long as the bride and groom think their budget is big, it is big.  

** This is another pet peeve of mine.  What is a "budget" wedding?  If you have a budget of $100K, you're still on a budget, so is that a "budget" wedding?  And exactly how many DIY projects do you have to do to have a "DIY" wedding?  Is there a craftiness threshold that has to be met?  Ugg.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An (Almost) Perfect Partnership

The Mister and I agree on almost everything when it comes to wedding planning.  In the beginning stages of planning, when lots of the big, expensive decisions were being made we were completely on the same wavelength.  We both knew exactly what venue we wanted, what caterer we wanted, what photographer we wanted, and in general have the same vision for our wedding day.  And, no, it’s not just because he blindly agrees with everything I say. He actually cares quite a bit, and has been really involved in this whole process. And therein lies the difficulty, hive. The one way in which we really, truly differ? Procrastination.

You see, procrastination and I, we don’t mix. We’re like oil and water. The thought of missing a deadline gives me anxiety, so I avoid it all together by getting things done well in advance. The Mister, on the other hand? Procrastination and the Mister are best buds. It’s the peanut butter to his chocolate. (I know, I know, it’s supposed to be peanut butter to his jelly, but the Mister loves him some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so chocolate is really more appropriate in this case.) So, while I’m rip-roaring and ready to go on, well, everything, the Mister is much more laissez-faire.

Believe it or not, our opposing positions on procrastination are actually a good thing, in the grand scheme of things. He’s teaching me to slow down and stop stressing about getting things done. And I’m teaching him to stop putting things off to the point where you end up making things harder on yourself. Case in point: this afternoon the Mister got home from work early and decided to start scoping out where we might want to register, and this weekend he was working on song selections, all without any poking or prodding from me.  And all without me trying to commandeer the situation to get it done faster. 

What makes it even better is that in this whole process, we’re learning that we really enjoy working on projects together! The invitations are a joint project and we're having fun with it so far (though it should be noted that we're in the early stages on the invitations.  I'm sure it won't be all rainbows and butterflies as we get further along).  All in all, I feel really blessed to have a fiancĂ© who actually wants to be involved in planning our wedding. It is OUR wedding, after all, not just mine.

What about you? Is your fiancé involved in the planning your wedding? Do you love it or hate it?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Great Minds Think Alike

This is so great I just had to post it right now.  This afternoon the Mister called me at work to share this great idea he had for our wedding.  I could hear the excitement in his voice and could tell that he was really proud of himself on this one.  He prefaced it by saying that if I didn't like the idea, it was okay, and that I didn't have to make up my mind right away.  Bracing myself for something along the lines of a nacho cheese fountain, he said:
"You know how a lot of people do slideshows at their weddings?  I was thinking that instead of a slideshow, we could just take photos of us and our families and hang them up in our reception area as decoration!"
It took everything in my being not to bust out laughing, causing a ruckus in my office.

You mean like this?
(Mrs. Cowboy Boots' wedding - One of my all-time favorites.  Source.  Photograph by Tec Petaja.)

(Mrs. Cherry Pie's wedding - another one of my all-time favorites.  Source.  Photograph by Piknik Studios.)

It's just too funny.  Not only was the Mister clueless that this is a major trend in wedding decor right now, he was also clueless that it is one of my favorite trends and that two of the weddings that inspire me the most have featured this! 

And this, my friends, is just one example of why the Mister and I are meant for each other.  Great minds think alike.