Monday, February 28, 2011

Starfish, the Not-Dead Kind

My apparent love affair with starfish started shortly after Tom and I chose our ceremony venue. We decided to go with a nautical theme, and for what ever reason, the starfish became a design element. Thus far, the starfish has primarily made an appearance in graphic form. For example, we have starfish on the belly band of our invitations, starfish are the back drop of our wedding day stationary, and foil starfish make an appearance on our personalized matchbooks.

You'll notice I didn't mention starfish in our decor. This is where I ran into trouble. I love the look of starfish, I don't love the smell of dried starfish. I also did not like the principle of decorating our reception with dead sea creatures. The reality of the dried starfish that people pick up at craft stores is this, live starfish are either farm raised or wild caught, and then kiln dried flat. That's not a very nice thing to do in my opinion. There are also horror stories online about guests contracting food poisoning and other illnesses from handling improperly cleaned starfish and seashells prior to eating dinner. All things considered, I quickly nixed any decor ideas that I had that involved starfish.

Then I went shopping, and I found these:

All the natural beauty of a starfish without the guilt of killing innocent sea creatures. These are artificial starfish made of acrylic. I'm in love. 

Made in China! Not real! 
The larger "white pencil" starfish are about six inches across, the smaller starfish are about three inches across. I bought 18 of the larger ones first (three packages of six), and I was so impressed with the quality that I went back and bought 60 of the smaller ones. The larger ones will be used through out the reception decor, possibly on the tables, on the cake, where ever. I have another plan for the smaller starfish...
Escort cards! I purchased ivory "print-your-own" escort cards that I will print with guest's names and table numbers, then I'll pop a hole in each one and attach it to a starfish with a purple ribbon.

My starfish love is becoming a cohesive theme! I love it when things work out.

Are you using starfish in your wedding decor? Are you using real or artificial?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our First (and last) Bridal Show

As far as bridal shows go, Tom and I missed out on them during the planning phases. Up here in Maine, wedding shows seem to occur around the beginning and very end of the year (off-season). At this time last year, we were not yet planning the wedding, and by the very end of last year I had already picked out most of our vendors, so I did not see a point. I did want to experience one, just so that I can cross it off my list of things that I have experienced. When we booked our reception venue, the event coordinator invited us to a bridal show that the venue was hosting. I decided that this would as perfect of a time as ever to go to a bridal show.

I should begin by saying that I have THE BEST fiancé, and that I owe him big time. Tom not only accompanied me to the bridal show without complaint, he also took advantage of the event and used it as an opportunity to connect with a local travel agent. I should also say that even though I've already book all of our vendors, I am very happy that I attended the bridal show. Many of my vendors were there, so it became possible for me to mentally pull everything together. Since it was our reception venue, they had a "typical reception table" set up (pictured above). I was very, very happy, to say the least. Also, they had a fashion show (hosted by the bridal shop I ordered my dress from!), so I was able to see how wedding gowns looked under the chandeliers, I was quite happy with that as well.

When we were doing our wedding cake tastings, Tom tasted the cake by the baker we hired and insisted that we make the deposit right then and there. When I asked him why he was so insistent, he explained to me that the cake was better than any wedding cake he had tried. At the time I smiled and nodded, at the bridal show, I tried a slice of wedding cake from another baker. To say Tom was right was an understatement. Our baker was at the bridal show too... so I made sure to tell her that the other baker confirmed my decision to book her for our wedding day!

We also had the opportunity to touch base with a couple of vendors that we had not yet booked. For example, Tom touched base with a local travel agent. We are only going on a mini-moon for a couple of days after our wedding in September, but we would like to go on a larger honeymoon at some point in 2012. This is Tom's project. I met with a representative from a day spa, and they did my make-up with Bare Minerals. I was really impressed, and I'm going to be contacting them about a bridesmaid's spa day and my day-of hair. We also touched base with a local sandwich shop about catering our rehearsal dinner. We also met with someone from our reception venue about hosting a possible Sunday brunch.

All in all, I would say it was a great experience, and I am really happy that I went. As I hinted in the title of this post, it will likely be our only bridal show experience in that I really can't justify going to another one. We have all of our vendors booked and contracts signed.

Did you go to any bridal shows? What was your experience like?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that once the word "wedding" is tacked on to something, the price immediately increases dramatically? When Tom and I first became engaged, a friend of ours jokingly commented that by adding the word "wedding" to something, the price immediately increases 5 times. At first I thought he was being silly, but then I started planning our wedding.

The proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" occurred when I started researching event rental companies to provide chairs for our ceremony. I called one location in search of 150 chairs. The gentlemen was ready to let me rent economical black folding chairs until I mentioned that they were for a wedding. Suddenly, he was only willing to rent me white "wedding chairs" for twice the price; because, in his words, the other chairs would not be appropriate for a wedding. Ultimately, Tom and I took our business elsewhere; however, this leaves me asking, why does planning a wedding imply that businesses can charge you extra?

The problem is, once you step back and look at things objectively, it is clear that the wedding industry does this all the time. For example, it is not common to find "wedding toasting flutes" on sale for $50 or more; whereas it is possible to buy an entire set of 12 champagne flutes for around $20. A sheet cake for a birthday party generally costs between $20 and $40, but wedding cakes average $5/slice. Then there are all the "personalized keepsakes" that are out there: personalized napkins, coasters, koozies, glasswear, etc. The other day I saw "personalized forks" for the bride and groom's "first bites of cake" for $40. No wonder the average price of a wedding is over $20,000.

To be fair, I will admit that I purchased personalized matches, on sale, to go with the candles that we are giving away for favors. I know some guests do appreciate a keepsake, so I wanted to leave that option. We are also planning to purchase a personalized server set. We happen to have a curio cabinet, and I think it would look lovely on display. At the same time, we are taking careful steps to select wedding accessories that can be used again after the wedding. I am also saving money by purchasing non-wedding specific items and decorating them to match our wedding theme and colors. The point that I'm trying to make is that it is unfair for the wedding industry to immediately increase the price of an item or service because it is labeled "wedding" and by doing this, many brides are lured into spending significantly more for something than necessary.

Have you experienced any price increases because of the word "wedding"?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DIY Personalized Hangers

I decided to jump on the bandwagon and create personalized hangers for all the female wedding party members and VIPs (our moms). To those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept, personalized hangers appear to be a new trend among brides, and, from what I can tell, are fairly popular on wedding blogs and message boards. I surfed around on the internet a bit for inspiration, and then I decided to attempt my own. I did not use any specific set of directions, it was more of a situation where I saw a picture and decided "I can do that!" Unfortunately, I was a bad blogger, and I did not take pictures of the process this time. I apologize about that, but in exchange, I will provide some of my best tips. If you still need help, feel free to either comment to this post, or, just google "personalize hangers" and you should get a fair amount of directions. I promise, these are a lot easier to make than they look.

You will need:

  • 12 gauge florist wire (I got mine in the floral department at Joann Fabrics)
  • Wooden shirt hangers, you want the ones that do NOT have the wooden dowel across the bottom. I got mine at Wal-Mart, five for $4.00
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Drill, with a bit that is just larger than the wire
  • White glue
  • Ribbon, or other embellishments to decorate the hangers

What you do:
  1. Using a hanger as a template, bend the wire into the shapes of names. Make sure to leave about six inches of wire at the beginning so that you can center your wire in the hanger. Also, do not cut the wire until you are done shaping the name. Shorter names use less wire than longer names, and there is really no good way to estimate how much wire you will need. I opted to use cursive because the letters naturally flow together. Use the pliers to "crimp" the wire together. I did not use a pattern to shape the letters, I just sort of went with it. Just make sure to periodically compare the wire to the hanger to ensure that the name will fit inside the hanger.
  2. Cut the wire once the name is shaped, again leaving a few inches on the end so that you can center the name inside the hanger.
  3. Bend the wire in a 90 degree angle (L shape) on either side of the name, such that it will fit inside the hanger and be centered. Mark on the hanger where the wire meets the hanger. Trim the ends of the wire as necessary.
  4. Drill holes on either side of the hanger, from the bottom. 
  5. Put a drop of white glue inside each hole before popping in the wire. 
  6. Shape the name until you achieve your desired look, then lay the hanger flat to allow the glue to dry.
  7. Decorate the hanger with ribbons as desired.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our Colors

About a year ago, when Tom and I first started planning our wedding, we were still in Kansas City, and we were looking at getting married in a rose garden. We were going to have an evening event with the theme "A Midsummer's Night Dream" and we wanted our colors to be dark purple, silver, and black. Then we moved to Maine. Our ceremony went from evening to afternoon, and our rose garden turned into a Civil War era fort surrounded by ocean. Things needed to change. The funny thing is, we never sat back down and discussed a theme or colors, they just sort of, happened.

I should begin by saying that Tom and I both like purple. It's our favorite color. Tom is a bit more subtle with his love for the color, I'm borderline obsessed. So, purple was a given as one of our wedding colors. That being said, the first change I made was to the shade of purple that we would be using. Our wedding ceremony is taking place at 4 in the afternoon. I did not think that a dark purple would be appropriate for attire at that time of day, but I did not want a pastel. I took some inspiration from our venue, and decided to look for a "washed out" or "weathered" purple. I came up with a color that Alfred Angelo calls "Victorian lilac." I went dress shopping with my mom a couple weeks later and saw "Victorian lilac" in person, and fell in love. Speaking of dress shopping, that is where another color came from, ivory. I thought I wanted a white dress, but ivory just looks better with my skin tone. Subsequently, everything else that would have been white has been changed to ivory, and it is also the color of the majority of our stationary.

Celadon green became an accent color after I met with the florist and discovered green hydrangeas. I love the coloring, they are in season in September, and they compliment lavender roses nicely. We chose celadon because it fits in with our "washed out" or "weathered" palette. We also have brushed silver as an accent color for things like our cake topper and serving set, which more or less carried over from our original wedding colors. As for the dark purple, the color I was originally trying to steer away from, it sort of snuck back in, as an accent color. At first I was concerned about having two different shades of purple, but I think they compliment nicely.

What colors are you using for your wedding?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another DIY Project in the Works

I've been busy with my newest project. What is it you ask? You will have to wait and see. It's not a wedding gown, I'll tell you that much. It is definitely wearable, and ivory. It is also the most ambitious project I have taken on so far. I just hope I can pull it off.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seven Months!

Seven months from today, I will be Mrs. Tomslastname. The whole day is really starting to materialize, and I'm getting to the point that I just want 9.10.11 to be here. We are ready.

This month has proven to be very productive, we sent in the deposits and contracts for the dj and the classical guitarist for the ceremony. This was huge, because not only do we now have music for our big day, we also have all of our major vendors booked. The other major accomplishment is in the area of attire. I finally ordered my dress! Now it is just a matter of waiting 12-18 weeks for it to get here. We also got the remainder of our save-the-date magnets sent out in mid-January.

On the DIY front, I finished up my veil, which I still need to take pictures of. I have also been working on some other projects, but more on those later.

On a personal note, Tom and I celebrated our 1-year engagement anniversary, if that even exists. On the 15th we'll be celebrating two years as a couple. It nearly brings tears to my eyes to think that at this time next year, we'll be husband and wife.

My goals for next month are rather simple, to finish collecting measurements and deposits from my girls so that I can order the bridesmaids dresses, to continue working on the request lists for our DJ, to reserve chairs and things for the ceremony from a rental company, to finalize our ceremony and send it out to our officiants, and to work on any DIY projects that I come up with.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Engagement Story

February 8, 2010 was kind of a big deal for me an Tom. It was the day that Tom proposed, and I said yes. I realized that I had not yet shared our engagement story, so I figured today would be a good opportunity to do so.

I knew that something was up when Tom texted me at work one night in the middle of January, 2010. He flat out asked me what size ring I wore. I responded back, "which one?" and he answered, "the one that counts." So I knew that he was, at the very least, ring shopping. He later texted me to inform me that we had dinner reservations for the Wednesday night before Valentine's Day, and that I needed to wear something nice. I immediately put two and two together and got all excited. I thought that Tom was going to propose at the restaurant.

That night, I picked Tom up from work, and started asking questions about the ring. Tom immediately put a damper on everything. He told me that he was looking at rings, but that he wanted to wait a bit before proposing. I asked him a couple more times over the course of the month, and he was adamant that he was not buying me a ring yet. I started to believe him, but in the back of my mind, I was holding out for our Valentine's date. I should also add that during the month of January, Tom and I bought a car together. It was our first major purchase as a couple.

A couple weeks later, it was the week of our big date. Tom and I both worked Thursday-Monday, and were off on Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday night, I was at work, and slightly excited about my upcoming "weekend" and our date. Tom called me, and told me that he was really concerned about black ice on the roads. He insisted on picking me up from work. I am a Maine girl, black ice does not scare me, so I told him that I would be fine. Several hours later, I was making arrangements with my supervisor to leave work an hour early so that Tom could pick me up.

Once I got outside, the first thing I noticed was that there was no black ice in the parking lot. I walked over to Tom, in our new car, and mentioned that to him as I got into the passenger seat. Tom made a comment about how the ice was worse closer to our apartment. He then asked me to get something out of the center console so that we could "listen to music on the way home." Apparently, my ring was in the console, but I somehow missed it. Once we got closer to home, we stopped at a local convenience store and Tom asked me to run inside to get us a couple drinks. We do this all the time, and I did not think anything of it, so I went in. I got back to the car with two drinks, and attempted to put my drink in the cup holder, but it did not fit. Tom asked me if something was in the way, so I reached down, and found a black velvet box. Tom asked me to open it, and I did. From the street lights, I could see a gorgeous three-stone diamond ring. Tom looked me in the eyes and said, "You already know the question that I am going to ask you, I just hope that you say yes." Of course, I said yes and slipped the ring on my finger. I then commenced to giggle maniacally and bounce around in my seat. I was more than a little excited.

Once we got back to our apartment, I wanted to start calling everyone, only, it was 11 o'clock at night. I made due by calling my sister and texting everyone else a picture of my ring and the message "I said yes!." The next day was spent calling friends and family and sharing the good news. We also had an informal "engagement party" in that we invited a bunch of our friends over for to play Rockband.

That Wednesday, Tom and I went out for our fancy dinner to celebrate our engagement. He took me to an Argentinian restaurant that was up on a hill overlooking the Kansas City skyline. I wish I could say I enjoyed the view, but I was much too busy staring at the sparkly ring on my hand, and my handsome fiancé across the table.

That was a year ago, and our wedding seemed so far off. Here we are now, the wedding is just shy of 7 months away and we are in the middle of planning. I still feel like the luckiest girl on earth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Marriage: The End of MY and the Beginning of OUR

I hate pink weddings. Fuchsia? I'm okay with that, especially when paired with orange. I can even deal with pink being used as an accent color, but when the primary color of the wedding is a soft, pastel pink it drives me nuts. Maybe I'm just silly, but when I go to a wedding and the groomsmen are wearing soft pink vests/ties, I just get this image in my head of a bride-to-be standing over her fiancé and informing him that she likes pink and the groomsmen will survive if they wear it for one day. Seriously, what kind of guy willingly wears soft pink?  Maybe my issue with pink weddings has less to do with the color and more to do with how the media tries portray things.

Watch a wedding show on TV, just pick one. I can guarantee you that at some point during the 30 minute show you will hear the lines "do what you want, it's YOUR day!" There just seems to be this mindset going around that weddings are all about the bride. Yes, the bride gets to wear the big fancy dress, but last I checked, weddings require a groom (or second bride, or two grooms!) too. A vital part of a healthy marriage is the ability to compromise, to learn how to be flexible, and meet each other half way. The wedding should reflect this as well. After all, if a couple can not find compromise in the year or so that they are planning their wedding, how are they supposed to get through the next fifty years or so of life? 

The wedding should be a celebration and representation of the couple. The groom should have equal say as the bride in all aspects of wedding planning. If a bride's favorite color is pastel pink and she would like her bridesmaids to wear that color, go for it, but that bride should also allow her groom to choose something that he likes, in a color he likes, for his groomsmen to wear. The same goes for decor and every other little detail. My fiancé could care less about what flowers we have, or what the centerpieces look like, but he wanted to have significant input on the music, food, and cake, he also chose exactly what he and the groomsmen would be wearing. In the end, we are creating a wedding that we are both happy with.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Finally Did It

I interrupt this seemingly regularly scheduled snow storm for an important announcement. I ordered my dress. The dress. It should be at the bridal shop in between 12 and 18 weeks Alfred Angelo style 2086 in ivory with Victorian lilac trim. To say that I'm excited would be a bit of an understatement. The picture to the left does not do the dress justice. The jewels, the metallic embroidery, the flow, I love it.

I have been wanting to order my dress since Thanksgiving, but one thing after another came up and prevented me from doing so. Life does that. Fortunately, as Tom keeps telling me, everything works out in the end. I asked the seamstress back in November when I would have to have the dress ordered in order to have the alterations done in time. She told me the end of February. Tom and I then made it our goal to have the deposit by the end of January. Last week, my mom found out that she would be finished work an hour and a half early on Friday. We decided to use the extra time to our advantage and headed to the bridal shop to order my dress. I was ready. I had my purple shoes, my long-line bra, and my handmade veil in tow. We got to the bridal shop, and several minutes later they were lacing me into my dress.

No veil, but this is me in the sample of my dress
Did I mention that I made my veil? Ivory, bridal illusion, single-tiered and cathedral length. I put it together one evening. It is really quite simple to do. My goal was to have a veil that extended just beyond the train of my dress. When I tried the veil on at home, it seemed way too long, but I wanted to try it on with my dress before adjusting the length. Good thing I waited. The seamstress had my put my veil on, and it only needed to be trimmed a couple of inches. Then to my surprise, the seamstress pulled out a pair of scissors and trimmed my veil to perfectly match the curve of my dress. I was really impressed with her willingness to go above and beyond. I also appreciated the opportunity to see myself in my veil and dress. I wish I took a picture, but I guess everyone will just have to wait until my dress comes in. I'll post some pictures of just my veil in a later post. ;)

Anyways, I also want to thank everyone for the kind comments to my previous post. I am going to start allowing my personality, and life, to come out a bit in my posts. I will also continue to post my DIY projects as they come up.

Until next time!