Monday, January 31, 2011

A Couple of Changes Around Here

When I first started blogging about Tom and my upcoming wedding, my intention was to help other brides with my budget solutions and DIY projects. This all worked out well until a couple of weeks ago when I realized that I am almost done my DIY projects, all of my vendors are booked, and I have little to write about for the next seven and a half months. That's no fun. I also realized that I was missing out on the whole point of blogging, the entire journaling process. I've documented what I've made and what I've purchased, but I have done little to explain how I've felt through the entire process. I think I've been a bit too candid, so I am going to start being more open about things. I am going to use this blog as my sounding board, to tell my story. Now is a perfect time to start telling the story because Tom and I's anniversary is coming up in about two weeks. At the same time, as they come up, I will continue to share my projects and any milestones with the wedding. I promise.

In my efforts to be less candid, there is one major thing that I need to get off of my chest. This is not my first wedding. It's my second. It's Tom's first. Yes, I am having a big wedding for the second time around, and this is why. I was first married in 2002, I was about two weeks shy of my 21st birthday. I was young and stupid. I got married because I thought I fell in love. I was one of those girls that never had a boyfriend in high school, so once I finally got one, I wanted to hold on and never let go. Big mistake. I ended up marrying a scam artist that was also emotionally and physically abusive. After six years of screaming matches, arguments, and lies, he finally left me in 2008 for a new target. I was heartbroken, but quickly realized that I was given a chance to start over. I took a couple of months for me and re-grounded myself, then I moved on. Tom and I have been close friends forever, he served as a confident throughout my marriage, and after giving me significant time to heal, he asked me to be his. After a year of dating, he proposed, and after a 19 month engagement we will be exchanging vows. I took my time this time around.

I would be lying if I said that my first marriage has no effect on the second one. It does. I'm cautious this time, and I've learned that relationships require patience and compromise. I've learned that it takes two people to have an argument, and that each are responsible for it, regardless of how one-sided an argument may seem. My relationship with Tom is a healthy one, my first marriage was not. It's funny because family and friends have actually commented that I look happy. I definitely feel happier.

Aside from the emotional influences, my first marriage also plays a significant role in the planning of my second one. My first marriage took place in a Catholic church and various details were chosen to please my family. This time, Tom and I are planning our day, although, we are remembering our guests too. When planning my first marriage, I tried to include everything that I thought were supposed to be part of a wedding: expensive invitations, floral centerpieces, limos, etc. and I got really upset if I could not have it, almost as though it would make the wedding less valid. This time around, my mantra is "at the end of the day Tom and I will be husband and wife." We are skipping out on the limo, I'm making my invitations and wedding stationary, and our centerpieces are something that I am putting together as well. Our marriage will be no less valid because of it.

I know that it is not traditional to have a huge wedding the second time around, but I am not a traditional kind of person. I don't want my memories of my wedding day to be with an abusive jerk. I want my memories to be of the day that Tom and I proclaimed our love in front of our families and friends. That is exactly what it will be.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reception Music

Every couple has one or two things that they give special attention to when it comes to planning a wedding. For Tom and I, we have two major focuses: food and music. Food has obvious reasons, we wanted to give everyone a good meal. Good music is much more personal. When we selected our ceremony music, I discussed how important music is to me, specifically instrumental music. As we begin to choose our reception music, it's time to discuss the importance of music for us.

Tom and I are both into the music scene. Tom has been to countless concerts, I was a DJ for my college radio station. We both have iPods that are full of music, and have turned to music to help up through some of the more difficult points in our lives. Some of our earliest conversations were about bands that we like, there is a lot of overlap. 

While definitely one of my favorite parts of wedding planning, I mean, who doesn't love blasting music off of youtube? Choosing the reception music is also proving to be one of the more difficult aspects of planning. Music plays a major roll in setting the tone of a space. Just think of the last movie you watched, music plays a huge roll. When I originally hired a DJ for the reception, I was only thinking of the dancing portion of the reception. I completely forgot about the cocktail hour and dinner portions, which also require appropriate music as a backdrop. 

As far as the dancing portion of the reception goes, our wedding has taken on a classic feel. Nothing too trendy (minus my purple shoes), just a classic, timeless wedding. We want our evening music to fit right in. We are trying to avoid most music that was released this millennium, although some newer pieces might  make it in. The music we have selected so far are classic rock pieces from the 70's, a little bit of funk, a little bit of 80's, and the occasional ballad because, well, this is a wedding. As far as dinner and cocktail hour go, our feelings change by the hour. Good thing we have 8 months to go. 

What type of music did you play at your reception? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Inventing our Own Save-the-Date Etiquette

Tom and I reached a bit of a milestone with our wedding planning on Friday by sending out the save-the-dates, and so far we have gotten a bit of mixed reviews. My future mother-in-law likes the magnet, but keeps telling us that she has never heard of save-the-dates before. Several of our friends have thanked us for the invitation, and others have complimented us for the magnets and "being on top of things" by setting up hotel blocks. I am amused by the mixed reviews, and I would be lying if I said that I did not expect them. Save-the-dates are a new trend. I remember the first time I saw one, I was at a friend's apartment and she had two of them stuck to her refrigerator. I thought to myself, "what a good idea!" and filed it somewhere in my brain. When Tom and I first got engaged, it was the save-the-date magnets that I first started looking at before anything else. When our wedding moved from Missouri to Maine, which subsequently meant that the majority of our guest list would now be coming from out of state, save-the-dates went from being something fun to something necessary. 

In terms of wedding stationary, save-the-dates are definitely the new kid and they are still largely viewed as optional. Due to their novelty, there is very little established etiquette. Save-the-dates did not exist when Emily Post literally wrote the book on wedding stationary etiquette. That being said, Tom and I looked at the "rules" for wedding invitations, and "re-invented" them for our save-the-dates.

Etiquette Rules we Maintained:
  • Save-the-dates were only sent to people that would later receive an invitation to the wedding
  • We addressed the envelopes with formal titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss)
  • We provided hotel information on the save-the-date card as well as on the wedding website. This permits guests that do not use the internet access to the hotel information.
Save-the-Date Rules that we Invented:
  • We sent one save-the-date to each household, regardless if adult children lived their or not. Most households consist of one kitchen with one refrigerator. Our save-the-dates are magnets, it did not make sense to us to send multiple magnets to one household. Adult children will each receive an invitation in July. 
  • We did not include guests on the envelope. We included the names of people we actually know. For example, if my cousin Beth is dating John, the envelope was addressed to Beth only. The wedding is still 8 months away, things could change between Beth and John, and we want to avoid awkward situations.
  • We printed the addresses on then envelopes. The "correct" way is to write each address out by hand, but Tom and I both have horrendous handwriting. I opted to download a font that looks like handwriting. The end result was very nice looking, and legible.
So far, no complaints. We shall see if the proverbial "etiquette police" come after us. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

And they are off!

After numerous hours of cutting, pasting, collecting addresses, and licking envelopes; our save-the-date magnets are in the mail. I fell as though we have reached a milestone in our wedding planning. When we first starting seriously planning in August, the wedding was "ours." Back in December, we brought our wedding party on board by sending out the wedding party newsletter. Now we have added our guests to the mix.

I should mention that we sent our save-the-dates out in two batches. The first batch of about 40 went out at the beginning of the month. Back when I ordered the magnets in October, our guest list was still on the smallish side and was far from being finalized. I ended up about 30 magnets short, so we decided to first send save-the-dates out to the people that would be traveling the farthest so that they could have first pick of our hotel blocks. I made my re-order for the additional 30 magnets at the same time with the plan to send out a second round as soon as they came in. Last night we mailed out the save-the-dates to the more "local" people on our guest list, which we defined as people that would not require a flight to get here. Lesson learned the hard way. To all future brides, I know that you are excited to start planning your weddings. Take a step back, and finalize your guest list and budget before booking/ordering anything. It is so much easier than having to re-do things later.

Did you send out save-the-dates for your wedding?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's Cookin? Our Reception Menu

One of Tom's favorite hobbies is cooking, and he is really good at it. We have spent many evenings cooking various culinary delights for a living room full of friends and would would never think of having it any other way. That being said, food at our wedding was definitely a priority. Tom refuses to serve his guests sub-par food, and insisted on trying the food before considering a place as a possible reception venue. Our reception venue passed Tom's scrutiny with flying colors. We booked the place shortly thereafter.

Over the holidays, we had the chance to sit down with our reception site coordinator to discuss the menu. Our original intention was to have a sit-down buffet, or family-style meal. Our guest list is full of notoriously picky eaters, and to accommodate everyone, we decided on a selection of comfort foods. After discussing this with the coordinator, it was decided that a traditional buffet would be the most efficient way to serve everyone. At first this made me nervous, I was concerned about the formality of a buffet, and I did not want my guests to be standing in line for long periods of time. Our coordinator assured me that everything will be run as efficiently a possible, with two double-sided buffets that will allow four lines of guests to be accommodated at one time. It took me a minute, but I warmed to the idea. Once the dinner style was selected, we were able to focus on what we would be serving. We chose a variety of appetizers to be served during cocktail hour, as well as the various entrĂ©es that would make up our buffet.

We are expecting to have a short cocktail hour, so we opted to go with simple hors d'oeuvres that would not spoil dinner. Upon arriving to our reception, guests will be welcomed with platters of local cheeses, fresh vegetables, fruits, and cocktail snacks. After Tom and I arrive, guests will be served salads at their tables. Then they will be called by table to the buffet where they will have their choice of a variety of comfort foods, such as Italian meatballs, vegetarian lasagna, honey mustard chicken, and baked haddock (we had to incorporate Maine somehow!). Guests will also have their selection of a variety of sides, including mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, and various side salads. Dessert will be our wedding cake, which is lemon cake with choice of almond or fudge buttercream.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

My approach to our wedding menu was inspired by a wedding show that I was watching one day. The host was helping a bride choose her reception menu, and asked her to think not only about what she thought of each dish, but what her guests thought of each dish. We wanted to have a menu that made our guests happy and left them satisfied. I think that our menu will do just that.

Did you include a meal as part of your reception?

Monday, January 10, 2011

8 months!!!

8 months to go! Where did the last month go? I feel like I just wrote my 9 month entry. Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are behind us, Tom and I have the joy of being able to say "we are getting married this year." It feels nice that 2011 is finally here. This is our year. It was easy to come up with New Year's resolutions this year; to find a job, take better care of myself, and get married.

Despite the busy holiday season, I was able to get a lot accomplished this month (most of which I haven't been able to write about yet!). I finished up finding our vendors. Our florist has been selected, the contract was signed, and a deposit was paid. All of our wedding flowers have been selected, and I know what my bouquet will look like.

We met with our reception venue coordinator and reserved our wedding night suite. We also selected our reception menu, and started reception planning. On the DIY side of things, I started figuring out how to decorate the reception tables, including centerpiece mock-ups.

We also starting planning our wedding music. I found a classical guitarist to play our ceremony music and we selected music for our ceremony processional and recessional. Just yesterday I had a phone consultation with a DJ, and once he sends me a contract we will be well on the way towards planning the reception music as well.

This month also begins the involvement of the wedding party and guests with our wedding. We sent out a wedding party newsletter to put our entire wedding party on the same page in regards to attire, travel arrangements, and weekend scheduling. We also stayed up late one evening addressing save-the-date envelopes and sent them out to our guests that will be travelling the farthest. The remaining save-the-dates will be sent out this month.

I am planning on ordering my dress in the next week or so, and I have been working to get everything that I will need for that. I finally found my purple wedding shoes. I am still on the look-out for a strapless long-line bra. Oh, and I almost forgot. Tom got me a little "something blue" for Christmas. 

My goals for the next month are to order my dress (this week!), send out the rest of my save-the-date magnets, obtain measurements from bridesmaids in preparation for ordering their dresses, finish the bubbles and ribbon wands that I have been putting off, and pay the deposits for my ceremony musician and dj.

I'm enjoying the rather relaxed feeling towards wedding planning that I have right now. All of my major vendors are either selected or booked and the majority of my DIY projects are complete. Now I get to just relax, enjoy being engaged, and look forward to the wedding in 8 months.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Decorating the reception tables

One of the many things that I love about our reception venue is that in terms of decor, it is a blank slate. The walls are a neutral shade of ivory, the floor is hues of gray, the chairs are a grayish-ivory, and the table linens are ivory. I do not have any pre-existing themes or color schemes to work around. Perfect. I also love the chandeliers above each table. For weddings, they lower the chandeliers over each table, it really creates a nice abiance.

I am not planning to have a lot of decorations at the reception. My budget does not exactly allow me to, but at the same time, the space already has a certain elegance to it, and we really want that clean look. Our cake baker will be decorating the cake table, the gift table more or less will decorate itself, the same is true with the escort card table, and I have some definite ideas for the guest book table (more on that later). All that is left are the guest tables and the head table. I decided to start by figuring out the guest tables, and maybe that will lead me to how to decorate the head table. If not, well, I guess I have about 8 months to figure that out.

First things first, the guest tables are huge. Each one fits between 10-12 people. On the positive side, this cuts down on the number of centerpieces that I will need. On the down side, each table is this huge canvas of ivory that needs serious attention. To start, we are going to put a Victorian lilac table runners on each table. To add to the mood, each table will also have several purple votive candles as well. Each table will also have a seashell table number.

In regards to place settings, I have fallen in love with the picture to the left. Unfortunately, it is completely unrealistic to do this at our reception. We are having a buffet, so it would be useless to have chargers at each setting, and what would I do with 150 chargers after the wedding? For the same reason, the lavender napkins are also out. I would have to purchase them all, and I cannot think of a good use for 150 lavender napkins. So, my goal is to replicate the look, without the charger, with an ivory napkin, and a menu that I make on Vistaprint. We'll see how it goes. Each place setting will also have a candle favor.

As far as centerpieces go, this is where I plan to mix things up a bit. In an earlier post I mentioned that we were avoiding floral centerpieces. This is what I came up with in place. Half of the tables will have wooden sailboats that look like the picture to the right. They are 9" wide and 19" tall, which is the perfect size to add height to some of the tables, but still allow guests to have conversations across the table.

The remaining half of the tables will have handmade centerpieces. I wanted a way to incorporate seashells into my centerpieces without having them out on the tables where they could potentially come in contact with food. After looking online for some inspiration, this is what I came up with. The glass vase is filled with varying shades of green sea glass, sea shells, and a vanilla pillar candle. They are really simple to assemble, and, the best part is I was able to purchase all the supplies at the local dollar store. Each centerpiece costs me about $4 to make, and I have tons of extra shells left over to use elsewhere.

They look really pretty lit up too.

How did you decorate the tables at your reception? Did you make your centerpieces?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Purple Wedding Shoes!

One of the first things that caught my eye when I started planning our wedding were these pictures of brides with brightly colored shoes. I fell in love instantly, and I knew that this was a wedding trend that I would definitely be taking part in. It was then that I started my quest to find purple shoes. Which proved to be easier said than done. Purple is one of my favorite colors, so I was looking for a pair of purple shoes that I could wear to the wedding, but then incorporate into my wardrobe. This required me to find a pair of shoes that were actually purple, as opposed to dyable shoes. Dyables are pretty, don't get me wrong, but they tend to be made of satin, which catches on things, and they really are not meant to be worn more than a couple of times.

My other requirements for purple shoes were to have a slight heel, but nothing more than two inches, and to be comfortable, since I will be wearing them for at least the duration of the wedding ceremony. Much to my chagrin, purple shoes are hard to find. Especially at a price that is within my budget. I exhausted online resources and finally started searching local shoe stores with little to no avail. When I could find purple shoes, they tended to have a three to four inch heel. They were not comfy, and I could not imagine walking in them outside at our ceremony venue. I was starting to think that my purple shoes may be coming in the form of converses.

Then came Thursday. I was out shopping and I found my shoes. Simple, comfortable, two inch heel, suede, and, most importantly, purple. Well, plum technically. I put them on and fell in love. I have my shoes! I've already worn them around the house to "break them in." These will definitely become part of my wardrobe after my wedding. As for the purple converses, I might need a pair of purple dancing shoes for the reception. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our Wedding Flowers- Our Parents

Last but not least are the flowers for our parents, specifically for my mom, Tom's mom, my father, and step-father.

Our mothers will (hopefully) be wearing green, so to compliment they will be wearing lavender rose corsages. Depending on what type of attire they decide on, I may switch things up and give them wrist corsages in place of pin on corsages.

The fathers will be wearing lavender rose boutonnieres, which will be different from Tom's in that they will just be a lavender rose, no hypericum berries or limonium.

Once again, all of the flower pictures from the last three posts are courtesy of google image search. They are not our actual wedding flowers because well, our wedding has not happened yet ;) . So that is why the roses are not all the same, and why there are extra types of greenery and extra flowers. Regardless, I am excited.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our Wedding Flowers- The Wedding Party

Next up in my little series on our wedding flowers is our wedding party. The starting point for flowers for our wedding party was actually the bridesmaid's dresses. The reasoning here was not-so-much the style of the dress, but more the color. We wanted the girl's bouquets to "pop" against their dresses. Since that pretty much knocks purple out, and it would look funny for the girls to be carrying white if the bride isn't carrying white, we were left with green. Our florist recommended bouquets of green hydrangeas with green hypericum berries for texture, and purple limonium for a hint of color. I was sold.

This would probably be a good place for me to mention my growing love for hydrangea. When ordering a bulk amount of flowers, the florist usually charges you per stem of whatever flowers you want. In the case of roses, a stem yields a single flower. This brings the price up quickly. In contrast, for hydrangea, a stem can have literally dozens of flowers on it in one big poof. In the case of my bridesmaids bouquets, the girls will each be able to carry a good sized bouquet, which in reality is only about four stems. This is definitely something to look into if you are like me, and not so thrilled with the idea of your bridesmaids carrying single stems in order to save money. Anyway, I digress.

Once the bridesmaid's bouquets were decided, the next step was to determine the groomsmen's boutonnieres. I actually have to hand full credit on this one over to the florist. She suggested hypericum berries with hints of limonium for color. They will match the bridesmaid's bouquets in that they will be green with a touch of purple, but at the same time, they are not completely matchy-matchy. I love the idea and I think the hypericum boutonnieres are a bit more masculine than the traditional flower ones. I am also happy that the florist was able to suggest this to me, because I was racking my brain in attempt to figure out how to make hydrangea work in a boutonniere. Our groomswoman will wear a larger version of the groomsmen's boutonniere with ribbon on it for a feminine touch. Our ring bearer will wear a smaller version of the groomsmen's boutonniere.

The only member of the wedding party that is left is the flower girl. She is the exception to my "real flowers for the wedding party" rule. Our flower girl will be just over 2 1/2 at the time of our wedding. I know that rose petals are non-toxic, but one can never be certain about the pesticides used on the rose petals. To play everything safe, I've opted to fill her basket with lavender and ivory silk rose petals. To my surprise, I have since learned that there are other benefits to silk petals. They are much more cost effective than actual petals, I do not have to worry about natural pigments staining my dress, and they are significantly easier to clean up after the ceremony.

What did your wedding party's flowers look like? Did you use real flowers or silk?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our Wedding Flowers- The Bride and Groom

As I hinted about it in my first post about our flowers, after receiving consults from several local florists, I was finally able to find one that could grant me everything I wanted at a price that was well within our budget. I signed the contract and deposited that florist this past  Wednesday, and through the wonders of Google Image Search I am able to post rough approximations of what our flowers will look like.

First things first, my bouquet. Aside from my insistence on having roses and hydrangea, I also wanted a hand-tied bouquet with no white. I wanted my bouquet to be a pop of color against my dress. The florist suggested a hand-tied bouquet of green hydrangea, lavender roses, green hypericum berries, and purple limonium. This would be very similar to the bouquet I have pictured to the left, minus the large purple flowers that are not roses, and the larger white flowers.

Tom's boutonniere will coordinate with my bouquet in that it will consist of a lavender rose with green hypericum berries and a touch of limonium.

On a side note, I was once told that a groom's boutonniere traditionally matches the bride's bouquet because in medieval times a knight always wore his ladies colors. I don't know if this is true or not, but the history geek in my loves it.

What types of flowers did you incorporate in your wedding bouquet? Did your groom "wear his ladies colors"?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Farewell 2010, Bring on 2011

Happy New Year! I wish that I could provide pictures of my and Tom ringing in the new year, but sadly, we made it to about 11pm and then crashed. I guess you can say we are getting old. On the positive side, we have all kinds of munchies for the football game today.

The new year always makes me reflective. This year a bit more so, because 2010 was a year of transition for me. I became engaged, I started looking forward to my future, I moved from Missouri to Maine, and I am between careers. Through all of this Tom and I are still together, and smiling. So I would have to say that we are doing okay. 2011 starts with us preparing for one of the biggest transitions of our lives. Our marriage. The day that we say goodbye to the single life forever and start facing the world as a single unit. There are not words to express how excited I am. At the same time, I am trying hard not to wish away the next few months so that I can enjoy wedding planning.

I have several New Year's Resolutions this year. To find a job, to shed a couple of pounds, to get our finances in order, to move into our own apartment, and, of course, to get married. Once September passes, our goals will shift to saving up for a down payment on our first home, and starting a family.