Monday, January 31, 2011

Just trust me: the sequel

I may, occasionally, enter a discussion about a wedding planning detail with a clear vision in my head.  And I may, occasionally, pledge my undying allegiance to that clear vision, poo-pooing any other option in favor of my own pre-conceived decision.  And this fun little system of mine may have bitten me in the butt once before.  You'd think I would have learned my lesson after getting taken to bridal gown school, but no.  Instead,when brainstorming wedding flowers, I did the exact same thing.  I became 100% obsessed with one line of thought and judo-chopped every other idea out of my head.  I may have been a bit off-base in my pre-dress shopping dress decisions, but obviously that couldn't happen again with my pre-flower shopping flower decisions.  Duh.

Before speaking to a single florist, I had about 95% of the details all hammered out.  The main flower would be hydrangea, with touches of roses here and there, just to mix it up.  I wanted the bridesmaids to have very small, tightly-constructed bouquets comprised entirely of green hydrangea, and I wanted to have a bridal bouquet that was formed with white hydrangea instead of green and I wanted one that was a bit bigger, a bit fuller, and had some roses mixed in.  The guys wouldn't be in boutonnieres, but they would be donning pocket squares instead.  The centerpieces would be a blend of high and low, made of mostly hydrangea, to give the reception room some visual interest.  Need some pictures to get the idea?

Image via Studio Stems / Photo by Lindsay Jane Studios / Bouquets by Studio Stems

 Image via OneWed

 Image via WeddingBee Boards

 Image via Real Flowers Pics

Even though I had a clear vision overall, I had one decision that I was utterly positive about.  Even though purple is in our color palette - no purple flowers.  I thought it would be stupid to have purple flowers held against a purple BM dress, I don't like the purple flowers that immediately come to mind for me, and I wanted the colors to pop, so purple was out.

Image via Wedding Flowers (for the photo without the big, angry X that was added by moi)

Like I said before... there's no way I could be wrong about my dress and wrong about my flowers.  No way, whatsoever.

What was your floral vision before picking a florist?  Any flowers that were definitely not going to be included?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Decision made about the 'maids

Last time I talked about BM dresses, I was about 30 seconds from having a bridal meltdown.  I had narrowed my choices down to three contenders and then I went in circles comparing the three, hoping one would jump out at me.  And, truthfully, one did.  The only problem was that the following day, a different one would be the jumper.  And then the third one took a turn.  Honestly, each of the final three dresses had a day to revel in being "the one."  Thankfully, I had scheduled a meeting with our florist (more to come on that!) who needed a fabric swatch to coordinate colors, so I had an official deadline for this dreaded decision.

Finally, when push came to shove, I went with my gut, my heart, my whatever.  I don't know what motivated me, but I decided, and that's all that matters.  My seven lovely ladies will be donning the Belsoie L3009 in Bordeaux, as seen here:
Image via Jasmine Bridal

This dress caught my eye shortly after the first failed shopping extravaganza.  When I submitted it for others' approval, the only even remotely negative thing I heard about it was the length; since we're getting married in August, some of the gals weren't too keen on being a puddle of sweat all in the name of extra formality.  I reached into the blogosphere for some help, contacting WB's own Mrs. Jellyfish, who had originally sparked my love affair with these BM dresses.  She confirmed that her 'maids were a bit on the warm side in their long dresses, but she also mentioned that one of her friends had a Belsoie chiffon dress in knee-length and it was still a stunner, despite the abbreviated hemline.  That message sealed the deal.  We were going with the L3009, but in knee-length.

I can't even begin to tell you what a relief this decision is.  No more scouring dress websites.  No more analyzing low-quality photos of myself in oversized sample dresses.  No more making mental lists of pros and cons.  No more wondering if the 1000 closest people to me would approve of the decision.  It. was. done.  I got the dress I wanted, plus I met Mr. Snow Cone's request for short dresses, plus I met my mom's request for strapped dresses, plus I managed to get a dress that was met with positive feedback from all my 'maids (or, at least, fake positive feedback... regardless, I'm taking it!).  I am one happy bride with one less detail to plan.

How did you finally decide on a BM dress?  Or, on a more cathartic note, what was your biggest planning relief?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our honeymoon decision, y'all!

After realizing we weren't 100% on the same page with our honeymoon ideas, we took a step back from the decision.  We both kind of ruminated on what we wanted out of this vacation, and then tried to meet halfway.  We agreed we wanted a warm beach locale, we wanted to have the freedom to leave our hotel/resort and explore a bit, we wanted some good eatin', and we wanted something that was relaxing, flexible, and low-key.  We didn't want to be go-go-going all day long, but at the same time, we wanted a place that would offer us some opportunities to be active if we wanted to, whether that be watersports, sight-seeing, or shopping.

We honed our search to the southern part of the Atlantic Coast, honing in on Hilton Head, Charleston, and Savannah as real contenders.  Nothing was officially decided until Mr. Snow Cone's cousin, who had recently moved to Charleston, suggested that we look into a resort called Wild Dunes

Image via Travel Golf

It's an island resort located in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston.  Its huge property includes a bunch of different accommodation options - a standard (but luxurious) hotel, condos, beach houses, and villas.  They have a spa and a whole slew of water activities like kayaking, fishing, and sunset cruises.  We were pretty smitten with this place immediately, so we took the plunge and booked ourselves a honeymoon!  We reserved an ocean-front villa that looks like the perfect combination of cozy and spacious for the two of us.  I am kind of in love with the idea of waking up to my new husband and hearing the Atlantic Ocean just a few yards away (*swoon*).  

Image via Wild Dunes

In the process of booking, we found out a few things that served as icing on the honeymoon budget cake.  First of all, the travel industry switches to their fall season the week after our wedding, meaning rates are lowered by a considerable amount per night.  Additionally, we were able to save 10% off the nightly rate by tacking on a prepaid meal at one of the resort's restaurants.  Finally, our beloved Southwest Airlines started flying to Charleston just recently, plus my parents generously gave us ticket vouchers from Southwest points.

We get to laze about on the beach all day, drive into Charleston for some of their supposedly amazing food, and then rinse and repeat the whole thing all over again the next day!  

We overcame our financial hurdles, reached a compromise, picked a destination we love, and put a big, fat, major check on our to-do list, all of which feels pretty nice.

Where are you going on your honeymoon? Any restaurant recommendations for Charleston?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The happiest place on earth... just not for a honeymoon.

San Diego received a universally lukewarm reaction as our proposed honeymoon spot, so I decided to see if I could improve upon this idea by adding some x-factor, like an unexpected side trip to another cool part of California.  It took me about 10 minutes of research before I came upon THE BEST IDEA EVER.  Why just vacation in San Diego when you can vacation in San Diego aaaaand.....


Here's the plan.  We would fly into LA, rent a car, and spend two days at Disneyland before scooting further south to relax at the Del.  It would be perfect.  And by "perfect," I mean mind-blowingly perfect in each and every way.  Allow me to outline my plethora of reasons why incorporating Disney into our honeymoon would be amazing.

1) I. LOVE. DISNEY.  My family has been going to Walt Disney World every other year since I was just a babe, and even though I'm 23 years old, I still get absurdly excited to go back.  GG got to tag along a couple times, too!

 personal photo from 2008

personal photo from 2006

Despite my relationship with Disney World, I have no experience with Disneyland, so this would be a great opportunity to pay this foreign Disney territory a visit!  Can't you just imagine GG and I, traipsing through the park, wearing matching bride and groom Mickey ears?

(see how happy they look??) Source

2) Disney has some seriously good eats.  Sure, you can nosh on fast food from a place probably called something like "Pluto's Pizzeria," but there's way more to Disney cuisine than that.  Disney offers some restaurants with what they call "signature dining" which are definitely upscale eateries, like Napa Rose and Steakhouse 55.  So a side trip to Disneyland wouldn't require us to binge on ice cream and hot dogs for a few days straight... we could eat like grown-ups while acting like kids!

3) Kicking off the trip at Disneyland would give the vacation on a whole some more variety.  We could tire ourselves out by spending two days in the sun, pounding the pavement nonstop as we bopped from ride to ride throughout the park.  Then, we could totally relax for a week straight on the beaches of San Diego before coming back home to reality.  (OK, admittedly, reason #1 was the sole reason I really wanted to go, but I used reasons #2 and #3 to try to justify this desire.  So sue me.)

Unfortunately, my Mickey-fueled plans were not well-received.  By anyone.  Disney virgins and Disney experts alike both thought I had a few screws loose for wanting to go a kids' amusement park for the honeymoon (disclaimer: it is so much more than just a kids' amusement park, so neener neener.)  I couldn't convince anyone that I had, indeed, just come up with THE BEST IDEA EVER.  Sadly, I watched Mickey Mouse wave good-bye from our honeymoon plans, unsure of what to pursue next.

Would you ever consider going to Disney World or Disneyland for your honeymoon?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The honeymoon that wasn't

Once we got our honeymoon thinkin' hats on, we made some important preliminary decisions.  We decided against Europe because travel would eat up too much of our time budget.  We had already nixed the Caribbean because we didn't want a hurricane third-wheeling it with us in paradise.  We ruled out Hawaii because of the prohibitively high cost of airfare and the jet lag/travel time consideration that applied to Europe (this elimination broke my heart a little bit, but I did get GG to propose that we visit Hawaii as our last hurrah before kids... success!)  Mexico was a maybe at best because we didn't really want to deal with the language, electricity, and currency translations, plus we're kind of weenies and scared by news reports of bad things south of the border.

With all of these things crossed off the list, we had pretty much decided that the continental US would be our focus area.  We also agreed that we wanted a beach-based vacation.  Long story short, my parents belong to a Disney-based timeshare organization that gives you access to properties all over the country.  One of which was the Hotel del Coronado, right outside of San Diego.

Neither of us has ever been to San Diego before, so it seemed appropriately foreign and exotic for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  The hotel is steeped in old glamor, giving off very regal and romantic vibes.  Just check out the lobby!

We'd be on the beach so we could take surfing lessons, go fishing, and get a nice tan (or burn, in my case).   At the same time, we'd be still pretty close to the city, so we could do day trips for fabulous restaurants, great shopping, or maybe even pay a visit to the famous San Diego Zoo.  This trip met pretty much all of our pre-requisites, so what was the hold-up?

Well, for one, if we wanted to enjoy some nice meals, our budget would probably only allow us to have a basic room, as opposed to a gorgeous ocean-front room like this:

I'm not really interested in shelling out big(ish) bucks to get close to the ocean and then sit in a room with a view of the parking lot.  On top of the accommodation issue, we also ran into a lot of hesitancy from friends and family, specifically those who had stayed in the Del or spent considerable time in San Diego.  The conversations usually went as follows:

Us: Have you ever been to San Diego or the Del?

Them: Oh, yeah!!

Us: Wow, so is it fair to say you liked it there?

Them: Oh, yeah!!

Us: Great, we're really thinking of honeymooning there!

Them: Um... I don't really know... I probably wouldn't....

No joke, we had this conversation about a half-dozen times with people we crossed paths with.  No one could really pinpoint why this destination wasn't right for a honeymoon or right for our honeymoon, but their complete transformation from rah-rah to nay-nay was enough to make us reconsider.  I wasn't quite ready to let the San Diego dream go away, so I tried to put my own spin on the honeymoon itinerary to try and salvage this plan... stay tuned!

How did you decide where to take your honeymoon?

Monday, January 24, 2011

What are we really talking about here?

When we first got engaged, the term "honeymoon" evoked thoughts of luxurious suites in tropical locations, palm trees, crystal clear water, white sand, and total relaxation.  I was perfectly sold on the idea of sipping frozen beverages on a warm beach in the Caribbean for a week.  Like this photo, but substitute the Snow Cones for the really, really, ridiculously good-looking models in this shot:

 Image via Honeymoon Caribbean
Mr. Snow Cone, on the other hand, wasn't drinking the Caribbean Kool-Aid.  He had some significant concerns with this plan.  Most importantly, the Caribbean in August was quite the risk to be taking.  We're honeymooning in prime hurricane season, so most of the Caribbean is iffy at best.  There are a few islands that are protected, but they are harder to access, meaning more travel time and more travel expense.  On top of the possibility of having our honeymoon wrecked by weather, he also wasn't in love with the idea of blowing all of our wedding money on this trip.  My mentality was that we only get one honeymoon, so we may as well do it up right.  His mentality was that a honeymoon is a nice trip to kick off a married life together, but we should save money for real-world expenses like student loans, car purchases, and house down payments.  Commence tug-of-war: honeymoon edition!

I struggled to hear the sensibility in his arguments.  Instead, I got my nose all bent out of joint that he was so anti-my honeymoon plan.  I took it far more personally than I ever should have.  I just couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to splurge a little (or a lot) to make this the trip of a lifetime.  He then got his nose all bent out of joint because he was alarmed at my lack of financial maturity and how that would impact all of our future decision-making.  I was panicking that he would always want to play it safe, missing out on opportunities for fun in the name of future savings.  He was (likely) panicking that I would need something expensive and exciting to please me for the rest of our days together.

Our conversations about destinations, airfare, and accommodations silently transformed into conversations about finances, priorities, and partnership.  Talking about the honeymoon was just a cover for what we were really talking about.  What seemed like a fun, exciting decision on the outside actually served as a pretty difficult (but very necessary) series of conversations on the inside.  Kind of like the whole Vanessa-Ursula thing.

Image via FanPop / Artwork by Disney

After all was said (and said and said and said) and done, we finally decided on a honeymoon that fits both sets of expectations - it doesn't empty our bank account, but it's still a very nice vacation for the two of us to share as newlyweds.

Did you have any wedding planning discussions that turned into something much bigger?

Our quest to invite our guests

After devoting a couple (hundred) hours to looking at invitations, I wasn't really finding anything that fit my price point and style.  Someone suggested looking at Etsy, which seemed like a terrifying prospect.  That website, to me, just had too many options, too many colors, too many things to consider.  I figured it would drive my indecisive self up a wall.  Just as I was about to write Etsy off, I learned of this magical system called Alchemy.*  Here's how the simplest way I know to describe it: it's a craft want ad.  You describe the item you're looking for and the price you're looking to spend, and crafters who have accounts on Etsy can submit bids and proposals for your approval.  In your initial description, you can be as specific or as generic as you want, including or excluding details like size, medium, colors, and quantity, among others.

I decided I'd put out a request and see what happened.  I kind of expected this function to be neglected on the website; for some reason, I assumed the majority of the traffic centered on shoppers buying preexisting items, and only occasionally did the artisans glance at these pleas for help.  I also expected that most of the requests went unanswered unless they were for big cash cow items, which I didn't consider our wedding invitations to be.

I listed that I was looking for a wedding invitation in our purple, grey, and light green color palette.  I wanted something in a basic, rectangular shape.  I also mentioned that I was looking for something with a hydrangea motif, since it's one of my favorite flowers and will definitely be incorporated into the wedding.  I wanted a minimalist, slightly abstract artistic rendering of the flower as opposed to a realistic watercolor.  And with that somewhat scatterbrained list of requests and my uneducated attempt at describing art terms, I clicked submit.

And I waited.  Well, I waited for about 5 minutes before getting my first response.  Within 24 hours, I had over 40 responses!!  Some of them were not so hot, but others were much closer to what I had in mind.  Then, finally, I found it.  Somehow, my ramblings about colors and flowers managed to make sense to a certain Etsy goddess, and she made a mock-up of exactly what I had constructed in my convoluted little bride brain.  I'm not going to show you it now, since we've yet to send them out and I'd rather our guests see them in their mailboxes before on their computers, but just rest assured, they make me feel happy all over every time I look at them.  Here are some that didn't quite make the cut:

Design by Etsy seller scarlettdesign

 Design by  Etsy seller TheBigDayExpressions

 Design by Etsy seller tinyspace

Design by Etsy seller JulieHoogDesigns

Sorry I can't divulge the winning design for a while more, but trust me, it's worth the wait (at least in my biased opinion). 
Have you used Etsy for any wedding-related purchases?

*The Alchemy function no longer exists.  Thankfully, the site is pretty easy to navigate, making it simple to find some really talented designers who can help with your craft needs!  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our quest to invite our guests: round four

My search for invitations had come up empty, three times over.  I was beginning to become pretty frustrated about the entire thing when I decided to try this offbeat, quirky website I'd heard of on some wedding website in a prior life -  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this delightful little site, the only way I can think to describe it is as a blend of craigslist and eBay but for arts, crafts, jewelry, and paper goods.  Individual artisans and crafters can post their products on this site, allowing online buyers like us to browse through and buy one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted, professionally-designed goods.  Pretty friggin' awesome, if you ask me.

There are a whole bunch of wedding invitations, ranging from basic to mind-boggling in design, complexity, and price.  I poked through this site to my heart's content, amazed at the variety available to me.  Here are some that I bookmarked during my search:

When comparing all of these options, a few things become clear.  One, I like invitations with color and interesting imagery.  Two, I still have a lot of narrowing to do in my search, since these pretty much run the gamut of styles.  Three, I am drawn to nature-inspired graphics, which is sort of surprising, since I'm not an outdoorsy type of gal.  I don't camp, I don't like being too hot or too cold, and I don't like connecting with nature in any sort of way.  I enjoy indoor plumbing, sleeping under a roof, and showering whenever I darned well please.  Here's my typical reaction to being outdoors whenever it doesn't include a lounge chair, a cold drink, and a good book on the beach.

(personal photo)
But I digress.  I could feel my excitement growing at the prospect of getting our invitations from this site - it seemed like the best possible solution.  I could pick an affordable option, choosing to print it on my own or have someone else print and construct it, personalizing it with customized text and colors.  I definitely felt like I was getting closer to finding the right invitation, but I was still pretty bogged down in the multitude of directions I could go.  Perusing the 1000s of invitations was becoming a nightmare, and I started to get slap-happy until I tried one last little idea.  I expected it to be a waste of time, so imagine my glee when it actually worked out - stay tuned!
Have you discovered and fallen in love with  Any other websites come to your rescue?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our quest to invite our guests: round three

As with most things wedding planning, I turned to the internet to find our invitations.  I was looking for an invitation that, by the time it was in my possession, required me to address the envelope and slap a stamp on it - and that's it.  I won't bore you with a step-by-step recollection of all of the different websites I looked at and all of the different designs I contemplated.  But what I will tell you is that invitation shopping is hard work.  It's very difficult to find a design that you like, that comes in the colors you're looking for, and won't break the bank.  Many websites will advertise that a specific design starts "as low as $1.49 per invite," but what they fail to tell you in that eye-catching price quote is that the $1.49 covers the invitation and only the invitation - not the envelope, not the response card, not the response card's envelope, and so on.  AND the unit price of $1.49 is only achieved when you order 500+ invitations.  Nope, nope, nope.

Despite trying to be a fiscally responsible and smart shopper, I still managed to fall in love with a design that was WAY more than what I could ever justify spending.

I loved the color palette, the monogram detailing, and the minimalist look.  I didn't love that it was going to cost us more than $500 for 100 invitations.  And we likely needed more than just 100 invitations.  So, with my budgetary tail between my legs, I redirected my search, looking for lower-cost alternatives.  

I looked at popular sites like, but none of their designs were really hitting home with me.  Some were cute, but I was struck by how many of them looked like party invitations as opposed to wedding invitations.  I also looked at what the wedding industry calls "affordable invitations," and came up with a lot of results reminiscent of this:

You can barely see it, but there's some white-on-white detailing on the paper.  This style of invitation is busy and simple in all the wrong places for my taste.  

So, now I was in a pickle.  I had exhausted all of the wallet-friendly wedding invitations options I knew of, and I had come up empty-handed.  Everything that caught my eye also strangled my finances.  Just as I was about to give up hope and make a choice that either compromised my vision or my budget, I was introduced to the best little website around, and everything was smooth sailing from that point on.  What website?  That's for next time!

How did your search for custom wedding invitations go?  Did you, too, have a hard time finding the right one?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our quest to invite our guests: round two

Even though I am admittedly no DIY queen, I brashly thought that I could manage to DIY our wedding invitations.  How hard can it be?  All you have to do is pick a size, layout, text, paper color, font(s), text color, number of inserts, envelope color, envelope type, whether or not to include extras like bellybands and wraparound labels, whether to print them yourself or outsource to a place like Kinko's.  Oh, and then after those super-easy, make-them-in-your-sleep decisions, you just have to worry about cutting and assembling the invitations, making sure to include any cool extras like envelope liners, calligraphy, embossing, or embellishments.  Oh, and then slap on a couple hundred addresses that you've laboriously hounded your friends and family for.  Seriously.  I don't know why people balk at making their own invitations, it's a piece of cake!

I wasn't so stubborn to think that I couldn't use a wee bit o' guidance in this grand DIY project.  I found this lovely site,, and it seemed to be the answer to all my questions.  Check it out: they pretty much have step-by-step ordering instructions for creating DIY invitations, which is perfect for a DIY-challenged bride like myself.  I was all set to dive in, headfirst, when I made the (un)wise decision of mentioning my grandiose plan to GG.  I tried to casually drop into conversation, just sneakily mentioning my intentions between our conversations about what to eat for dinner and which episode of Friends to watch that night.  My plan was to let him know of my project and then bunker down and just get it done, before he could object.  I would raise my own campaign of shock and awe with these invitations and my mad DIY skillz, sneaking up on him when he least expected it...

Source (for photo)
Awesome edit job by yours truly

Well, imagine my complete and total surprise when he saw through my mastermind plan.  He heard 100% of my invitation intentions and had quite the opinion on the matter.  Specifically, when I suggested that I DIY our invitations, he looked at me like I suggested serving human feces at the reception.  No joke.  That look of utter discontent at my invitation intentions, combined with the thousands of decisions facing this pretty indecisive bride, pushed me over the edge.  I'm more of a DDIY bride... as in, don't do it yourself... for everyone's sake.

With semi-DIY and fully-DIY off the table, I figured that the only real option left was to bite the bullet and purchase custom invitations.  Until that bullet bit back.  Stay tuned!

What DIY projects did you scrap before they even began?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our quest to invite our guests: round one

Now that all of you in blog-land are spending every free minute pining over my soon-to-be-revealed STD, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about more paper.  Specifically, invitations.  This chapter of wedding planning was quite the saga, but I'm pleased as punch to report that there's a happy ending to it all.  And now I invite you to relax, let me pull up a chair as this blogger proudly presents... our invitation quest (10 points if you name that movie reference!)

(here's a hint!)

I didn't really start the invitation search with any real inspiration (probably mistake numero uno).  Right off the bat, I kind of defaulted into the mindset that I would partially DIY them, using a kit from the Brides line available at Michael's craft stores.  My SIL had used these kits for her wedding, and the invitations turned out spectacularly.  In addition to the polished final look, I have clear memories of her remarking at the cost-savings this invitation strategy allowed.  Nice look and less money?  Check and check!

And then I went to my local Michael's to scout out my options.  Let's just say... I was kind of non-plussed.  I knew I wanted a pop of color, and nothing too decorated.  Here's what I found in the purple family:

I wasn't really digging the weird quasi-floral, quasi-vine scroll detailing, nor was I in love with the stark purple and ivory (and only purple and ivory) color palette on these suckers.  I also kind of broke into a nervous sweat when thinking about waging war with my home printer when printing these.  And, knowing how most people cope under pressure and stress, after battling with my printer, GG would probably be next on the bridal stress hit-list.  So, why would I willingly sign myself up for something that was going to be a headache and a half without creating a finished look I was gaga over?  Uncheck and uncheck!

So, as quickly as the whole Michael's idea popped into my head, it popped its way right back out.  Next up: my brilliant idea that I could totally DIY our wedding invitations.  Can't be that hard... right?

How long did it take you to pick out your invitations?  Were you lucky on the first try, or did you have to go back to the drawing board, like me?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I don't think you'll see this recipe on Barefoot Contessa any time soon

What do you get when you mix...

- a 28-cent polar bear
- a drool-inducing engagement picture
- a couple afternoons with Microsoft Publisher
- a killer online printing deal
- and the addresses of your closest family and friends?

Here's a hint...

That's right...I broke down and pledged my allegiance to save-the-dates, and they're here (well, most of them.  More to come on that later).  Shortly after we got engaged, I was firmly anti-STD.  It seemed like a silly expenditure that could easily be avoided in today's world of text messaging, Facebook, email, and the old standby of telephone calls.  Plus, we weren't getting married on a holiday weekend, a faraway land, or a non-traditional day of the week.

Buuuut then I had second thoughts.  The rational part of my brain stood firm while the bridal side of my brain turned to wedding pudding.  I saw other brides' creative and cute STDs, and I reverted to a spoiled little five-year-old who refused to relax until she got what she wanted.  I decided to secretly look around online for some affordable options, secretly look for inspiration, and secretly try to design a little sumthin-sumthin myself.  I figured if it worked out, great, and if not, then no one would know of this failed mission aside from myself.

As the photos above indicate, it all worked out, and now we're prepping to send these babies out to some lovely folks.  I'm not going to share the design until our guests have received them, since I want them to be surprised when they open their mailboxes in a couple weeks' time.  But until then... I'M SO EXCITED!!

What did you change your mind about while wedding planning?  What swayed you away from your initial decision?

(all photos personal)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Swing and a miss

GG and I decided to take advantage of a free Saturday morning and scout out wedding rings.  We both had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted, so we anticipated this shopping outing would be pleasant, efficient, and productive.  And, like in so many other instance of wedding planning, we were pretty off-base in those optimistic expectations. 

Here's some context for you.  GG designed and purchased my engagement ring at a local Pittsburgh jeweler.  He had a marvelous customer-service experience, receiving a lot of one-on-one attention with the company's owner, who guided him through the engagement ring process.  Pretty much since we got engaged, he hasn't shied away from oohing and aahing over the entire experience, so I was excited to finally visit the store and have the same type of fun when selecting our wedding rings.  GG was interested in a medium-width, yellow gold ring with a beveled edge, like this one:

As for me, I was using my engagement ring for some inspiration.  My e-ring's band is actually a wedding band that GG added a center stone setting to.  Here's a glimpse at my e-ring:

personal photo

While shopping for the e-ring, he really warmed to the idea of me using another of the same band, without the center stone setting, as my wedding band.  The band is pretty thin, and I'm looking for a bit more oomph on my finger in terms of width, so I decided that I wanted not one but two of that same thin band, to kind of sandwich my e-ring.  
Unfortunately, even with a specific vision of what we were looking for and a specific store we intended to purchase from, our plan kind of fizzled.  When we visited the store, we found ourselves in a store with two employees trying to pay attention to four or five shopping pairs, which is obviously not going to work smoothly.  Moreover, other couples had appointments who came in shortly after us had appointments, while we were just in on a whim.  As a consequence, the store owner, who GG had raved so highly about, was kind of all over the place, scurrying around, trying to finish our shopping trip as quickly as possible so she could move on to the scheduled customer.  I don't blame her for that strategy, since we didn't have an appointment.  And, if I came into a store with an appointment only to have to wait around while some schmucks who just mosied on in got served for an extended period of time first, I'd be peeved to say the least.  So, I get it.  No hard feelings.

However, the reality is, the customer service was a little average.  I tried on officially one wedding band (the one I wanted, but still... I kind of wanted to look around a smidge more), and GG tried on three.  In addition to the rapid-fire ring shopping, we also got blindsided by the prices.  We were prepared to pay what we considered to be a pretty penny for these rings, and let's just say, our selections came out to be about 2 or 3 pretty pennies.  Between the blink-and-you-miss-it ring selections and the budget-busting price tags, we got gun shy.  No ring purchases for us that day.  Instead, we retreated back to our apartment to lick our wounds and re-evaluate.  

What parts of wedding planning were disappointing or off-putting to you?  How did you recover?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting warmer...

I finally decided to just face the music and have my own BM dress party.  At the bridal salon, I told the consultant that I had no idea what I wanted and I was on a mission to try on as many dresses as it took to make some progress.  She responded by pretty much getting out of my way; and, to be honest, I don't blame her.  I grabbed upwards of 20 dresses and headed off to a teeny, tiny fitting room.  By "teeny, tiny," I mean that there physically was not enough space for me and all of the dresses I had selected.  Thankfully, no other brides were in the BM department at that time, so my humiliation was relatively private.

Here's a look at some of the thumbs-downers:

B2 B2079
B2 B3080

Dessy 2787

Bill Levkoff 529

Bill Levkoff 584 

And now, here are the three finalists:

Bill Levkoff 583

Bill Levkoff 560
(sorry it's blurry!)

Belsoie L3009

You'd think that the dissimilarities between the final three dresses would make the decision easier - I just need to pick and length and/or fabric, and that will automatically whittle the list down.  Unfortunately, I just can't seem to decide and be done with it!  I emailed the three choices to my BMs who all offered feedback - it seems like the 560 is the current front-runner in that no one has a bad thing to say about it.  But is that really how you want your "winner" to be described - as the least disliked one?!  The only criticism I've heard of the L3009 is that it's floor-length... which leads me to wonder if I like it specifically because of that added formality.  Not to mention the fact that we have the option of ordering the L3009 in a knee-length version... would that be better because it would resolve the only issue with the dress, or would it make me less entranced by it?

Too many questions, not enough answers!  Even though I've already reached my decision, which one would you have picked?  On a more important note, am I the only person to struggle immensely when trying to take self-portraits in dressing room mirrors?!

(all photos personal)