Friday, December 31, 2010

Real Flowers, On a Budget

 Our wedding flowers are one of those things that I am really picky about. I'm using silk flowers for the ceremony, candle centerpieces for the reception, but for my bouquet, I wanted real flowers. I also wanted roses. And I was not budging. Fortunately, Tom understood my desire for a real flower bouquet and without debate made sure that there was room in the budget for them.

Wow... maybe I should explain myself. 

I'll begin by stating that I have absolutely nothing against silk flowers or some other non-flower bouquet (brooches, butterflies, etc.) They just are not for me. I have seen some silk bouquets that look so real I've had to do a double take, and my mom will likely make a silk replica of my bouquet as a keepsake (she has for everyone else). My reasoning behind wanting real flowers is simple, I love roses. They are my favorite flower, which is something I share with my grandmother. Rose is also my middle name, so really, it's only fitting. I have yet to see a silk rose that truly captures the intricate beauty of a rose. I have also yet to see a silk rose that properly captures the scent of a real rose. Real it is. 

Real flowers have two major drawbacks. First and foremost, they die. There isn't much that can be done about that. My goal is to keep flowers in the fridge for as long as possible. Part of my reception decor will include vases put out on the head table full of water for bouquets. I'm also trying to figure out a way to keep the flowers in water on the way to and from the ceremony. I have time. 

The other major drawback is the price. Flowers are expensive. This is where I did my homework. First and foremost, I started limiting my total flower order. I opted to use silk flowers on my wedding arch and flower cones. This is definitely more economical, but it also makes more logistical sense. Tom and the boys will be setting up our ceremony site before the ceremony. Which means that the flowers will be sitting out in the September sun in a windy, ocean side environment for several hours before the ceremony begins. I was afraid the flowers would be wilted before the ceremony began. Not to mention, our ceremony is only going to be about half an hour long, I couldn't justify spending money on flowers that would only be used for such a brief period of time. As I hinted to above, our bouquets will be doing double-duty at the reception as decor.

In terms of reception flowers, I opted for candle centerpieces instead of the traditional floral ones. Most of my guests are travelling from out-of-state and would not be able to take the centerpieces anyway. I also love the look of candle light, and I really think it add a cozy, intimate feel to our reception. 

So, with reception decor and ceremony decor out, I was left with "personal flowers," which include my bouquet, my bridesmaid's bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. To save money here, I did my homework again. First of all, it was really important for me to have roses, but not so important for everyone else to have roses. So I have roses in my bouquet to set it apart from the bridesmaids bouquet. Tom has a rose in his boutonniere to set his apart from the groomsmen's bouts. Secondly, I researched what flowers would be locally available in September and came up with hydrangeas. It is difficult and expensive to ship flowers from across the country, or across the world for that matter. This cost is added to the price per stem. If you purchase locally, you will get a better price, AND as an added benefit, your flowers will be fresher and should last longer. My final strategy was to put faith in experts. When I visited the florist, I explained that I was on a budget, that my colors were Victorian lilac and celadon green, and that I was open to any recommendations she could give me. With that, the florist gave me the suggestion of limonium, which is like a purple baby's breath, and hypericum berries. I guess I should also add that I shopped around with different florists. I had five different consultations before I finally chose my florist and put my deposit down. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Our Home to Yours

The tree is decorated, the lights are lit, shopping is done, presents are wrapped, and cookies are baked. It is definitely that time of year again. 

Tom and I would like to wish all of you a wonderful and safe holiday season. 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keeping Everyone Informed, our Wedding Party Newsletter

Tom and I are in Maine, which, conveniently is where our wedding is going to be. This adds a significant amount of convenience to the hole wedding planning process. If I need to look at a venue or speak with a vendor, they are all just a few minutes away. The wedding party, not so much. Tom and I chose our nearest and dearest friends to stand up with us as we exchange wedding vows. Sadly, this means that our wedding party is entirely out-of-state, peppered across New York, Missouri, and Florida. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we have been able to keep in touch with our friends through various instant messaging programs, Skype, Facebook, phone calls, and text messaging. The problem we ran into was getting everyone the same information at the same time.

Our first attempt was to create a Facebook Group, but this did not work out for various reasons. Then we thought about sending out mass e-mails, but I wanted to do something a little more creative. Our final product? As you see pictured above, we created a "Wedding Party Newsletter." It is really simple and straight forward; the first page features a note from me and Tom and our contact info, the second page contains information about wedding attire (deposits, measurements, due dates, dress style numbers), and the final page contains a wedding schedule and travel information. We wanted something straight to the point that provides the information they need in a format that can be easily accessed for when they need it.

I designed the newsletter on Open Office, my goal was to create something that looked like an actual newsletter. I simply used the Draw program, created text boxes,  typed in my information, and then surrounded the text box with a random shape. I also played around with fonts a bit. I'm quite happy with the final result. We mailed these puppies out on Friday, so the wedding party should be receiving them any time now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Choosing the Ceremony Music

To simply say that I love guitar music would be an understatement. All of my favorite bands happen to have amazing guitarists too. I have been slowly learning to play guitar for the last couple of years, completely self-taught at that. I have liking for all guitar music, from rock-style riff of an electric guitar to the bellowing melody of an acoustic playing classical guitar.

When it came to ceremony music, I dreamed of having a classical guitarist play as I walked down the aisle. I neglected to look into the actual cost of hiring one because I assumed it was way out of my budget. I was planning loading my stereo with batteries and burning a CD. One lesson that I have learned in the process of planning our wedding is to stop assuming things.

I was prodded by a friend to look into the cost of a ceremony musician. I did, with the intention of seeing for myself that they were way out of my budget. My intention was to make myself feel better about burning a CD of our ceremony music. Like I said, assume nothing. I found a local classical guitarist that was well within my budget.

Now, I really want to walk down the aisle to "Storybook Love," which is the theme from Princess Bride. The movie is one of my favorite of all time. Seriously, I have gotten in trouble among friends because I can recite every single word of the script along with the movie. I digress. Anyway, I asked the guitarist if he could play "Storybook Love." He asked me to send him the name of the song and the composer, which I did. He responded back with a youtube video, just to confirm it was the right song. He went on to explain that he will learn the song for our wedding, for me to walk down the aisle to. I almost cried, happy tears of course.

Since then, I have been working to figure out the ceremony music. The guitarist will play half an hour of prelude music, I am leaving this up to him. He has a huge repertoire of music, which includes Latin music, classical, and contemporary pieces. I am also leaving him to his own devices for the postlude music. As for the actual ceremony music, this is what we have decided:

Our mothers will enter to Schubert's "Ave Maria." Yes, it's traditional, it's expected, but it's beautiful.

The bridesmaids will enter to Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1 by Bach.

And I will walk down the aisle to "Storybook Love" by Mark Knopfler.

Just listening to this, with the mental image of walking down the aisle to Tom in my wedding gown, makes me cry. I knew I was going to cry during our ceremony, but at this point, if I make it halfway down the aisle before the tears go, I would say I'm doing good.

Are you hiring a ceremony musician? What music did you choose?

Friday, December 10, 2010

9 months!!!

9 months to go! We are down to the single digits. I remember back when we were first engaged and the wedding was 19 months away, it seemed like it would take forever.

Despite the onset of the holiday season, I have to say that we were really productive this month. Major accomplishments include having our professional engagement pictures taken, signing the contract and putting down a deposit on our wedding cake, tasting our wedding cake, picking out the bridesmaid's dresses, and choosing our favors. On the DIY front, I decorated our card basket and toasting flutes, I finished our pinwheels, started the ribbon wands and bubbles, created pearl bobby pins, and corsages out of paper roses that I will use at the rehearsal dinner. I also started my out-of-town bags by ordering directions cards and welcome brochures, as well as ordered my bridesmaid's tea invitations, favor tags, guestbook pens, and a tote bag.

On the personal side of things, Tom got to meet half of my extended family over Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house. I would consider this a huge success, he fit in perfectly with my family.

My goals for next month are to address all the save-the-date cards, pay the deposits on the ceremony musician and florist, and order my dress. I am also going to be mailing out a bridal party newsletter that I designed. In terms of DIY projects, I am sad to say that I have no major projects planned for the next month aside from finishing my ribbon wands and the bubbles. If you look at my to-do list you will see that I have completed most of my projects, and the ones that are left; centerpieces, favors, and the wedding arch, will be completed in the months immediately before the wedding.

Until next month!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Professional Engagement Pictures are In!

Shortly after I posted about our engagement pictures yesterday, I received a phone call from our photographer to check my e-mail. They sent me a link to our pictures!

So here they are. I decided to post my favorites. The pictures really speak for themselves. The sky was clear, the ocean a deep blue, and the air was crisp, perfect for snuggling. The one to the left is my personal favorite.









Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Suspense is Killing Me

I got a phone call this afternoon from our photographer. He finished editing our engagement pictures this morning, and is now in the process of uploading them. I should be able to view them online in the next 12-24 hours. I appreciate the heads up, and our photographer is absolutely amazing. The only thing is...  now the suspense is killing me. We had our pictures taken on a chilly November afternoon the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The weather was sunny, the skies were clear. It was just perfect. I can't wait to see the pictures!

Monday, December 6, 2010

DIY Toasting Flutes

It was my intent to slow down a bit on wedding planning for the month of December. It was my goal to enjoy the holidays and really focus on job hunting. This weekend, I went Christmas shopping with my mother at the Christmas Tree Shop. My intention was to find Christmas stockings for me and Tom, and maybe pick up a couple presents along the way. Mom and I got to the kitchen section, and we found these gorgeous crystal champagne flutes. My mother suggested using them for our wedding flutes. The price was amazing, $1.99 each. So I picked up a couple. So much for slowing down on wedding planning...

Once I got them home, I decided to decorate them a bit. I tied some ribbon around the stems into bows, and I added a seashell embellishment. It was really simple, but added the perfect little touch to our flutes. The look really pretty and elegant.

Tom expressed some concern when I initially began looking at toasting flutes and serving sets that the wedding sets are really expensive for something we would only use once. These flutes cost me just under $4 total, and we can easily take the bows off (if we decide to) and use the flutes for special occasions like New Year's Eve and anniversaries.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cake Tested, Bride and Groom (to-be) Approved!

Tom and I went cake tasting today with the baker we met with last month. We wanted to make sure that our wedding cake tastes as good as it looks. We were met with four cupcake boxes with two pieces of cake in each box. Two boxes contained lemon cake with almond buttercream, the other two boxes contained lemon cake with fudge buttercream. I tried the lemon/almond and Tom got to try his lemon/fudge. I was pleasantly surprised. I expected a dry, rich cake with an overly sweet frosting. In reality, it was a moist, lemony cake with a not-too-sweet but definitely almond buttercream. I loved it. The almond complimented the lemon perfectly.

To say that Tom loved his cake would be an understatement. He went silent and had a moment with his cake. He let me have a bite, and I was surprised yet again to discover that the fudge does indeed compliment the lemon. The fudge is more of a semi-sweet chocolate, so it works with the lemon.

The baker mentioned that she only bakes one cake each weekend so that she can give full attention to each cake that she makes. We were so impressed that we put down the deposit and signed the contract, and I have yet another detail about our wedding to be excited about!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's December!

My goodness, it's December already. When did that happen? The last week has been spent getting ready for the holidays. We have been Christmas shopping in full force, and I'm happy to say that we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have also been decorating. We put up our first tree, and have strings of lights everywhere. On the 18th, Tom and I will be going to his company's Christmas party for dinner and dancing. My plans for today include going shopping for our stockings. The holidays are my favorite time of year, and there is something about having Tom around that makes them that much better.

On the wedding front, we have our first cake tasting tomorrow. I am hoping that all goes well because I really like this baker. I was so excited for cake tasting, that I baked some fuzzy navel cupcakes yesterday, and decorated them for the season (yum!).

We are also anxiously awaiting our engagement pictures to be released. The photographer said it should take about a week, and it has been almost two, so they should be ready any day now.

Perhaps the biggest news is the possibility of a ceremony musician. We were discussing ceremony music on a message board that I frequent, and one of the users mentioned that I should really look into hiring a guitarist for our ceremony. I thought that a ceremony musician was out of the budget, but I decided to look anyway just to see what I could find. To my surprise, they are a lot more affordable that I had originally expected. So now I'm in conversations with a classical guitarist about ceremony music. I am beyond excited. If this works out, it might just be my favorite detail of the wedding... well, that and every other detail of our wedding... Anyways, more on this later.

Finally, to end this post on a good note. I drove Tom into work this morning, and we both realized that next year for Christmas, we will be married. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.