Monday, February 28, 2011

Bridal Booze

When Mr. Snow Cone and I were mapping out our wedding, one thing we never debated for a single second was having an open bar.  Our friends enjoy a good imbibing, as do a good portion of our family members, and as do we!  We wanted everyone to have a good time, and it's no secret that a little liquid courage can get a few extra bodies out on the dance floor, heightening the fun factor for everyone there.  When we met with our venue coordinator to start mapping out details of the big day, we talked through the logistics of the bar situation.  Here's what we came up with:
  • Open bar, as mentioned above, but with standard alcohol as opposed to premium.  Although we want everyone to have a good time, we don't want people to make the bar bill astronomical.  Plus, we know that a good number of our friends are fresh out of college, so very few of them have significant liquor preferences.  And for those who do, tough patooties.  Cheap vodka has the same effect as expensive vodka, especially once you're at drinks two, three, and beyond.  
  • In addition to the standard open bar liquors, we'll have a couple standard wines and champagnes, too, for the wine-os in the bunch.
  • Since I'm not a beer drinker, Mr. Snow Cone took full control when picking out the brewskies.  Here are his three selections:
Image via Frachelli

Image via AllPosters

Image via Music Maven
  • Last but not least, we've decided to offer some guidance to our wedding guests who may be stumped when it comes to drink selection.  From our limited wedding experience, it can be hard to tell what the bar is actually carrying, and it's not ideal to have the bar line stalling while a poor guest is trying to figure out what's available and what he/she wants.  Therefore, we're going to have three "signature" cocktails; however, they're a little bit different than the traditional wedding signature cocktails.  Instead of concocting three inventively new beverages, we're only going to come up with one new drink.  Our other two signature drinks will be our individual favorite drinks.  Mr. Snow Cone is quite the fan of Jameson on the rocks, so that drink will be advertised as "The Mr. Snow Cone."  On the other hand, my go-to drink is a sweet tea vodka with lemonade, so that one will be advertised as "The Miss Snow Cone."  Finally, we'll have one new drink that will blend our favorite liquors and flavors, which will be "The Mr. & Mrs. Snow Cone."  Our hopes are, with this system, our guests will have an easier time making an order, might learn something about us they previously didn't know, and will hopefully try a new cocktail or two by the end of the night!
 Image via Twin City Mustangs: "The Mr. Snow Cone"

Image via Wonderland Papers: "The Miss Snow Cone"
Image via Market Street Inn Salisbury: "The Mr. & Mrs. Snow Cone," perhaps?

Now all we need to do is experiment with drink recipes to come up with our third signature wedding drink.  Right now, we're thinking something with raspberry and lemon flavors.

Any ideas for great recipes to use for the "Mr. & Mrs. Snow Cone?"  How are you handling the wedding trend of signature cocktails?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Missing puzzle piece: found!

A while back, I posted about my hopes of doing a twist on the traditional escort cards.  I really wanted to make a grandiose seating chart, so our guests could just mosey on up to the chart, find their assigned table, and then continue enjoying cocktail hour without having to carry around a little seating card.  However, I was grappling with how to combine a central seating chart with entree choices - how do you inform the waitstaff of who ordered what in a timely, organized manner?

Thanks to a little pow-wow with our venue coordinator, that issue has been resolved!  Mr. Snow Cone, my parents, and I all scooted over to Sunnehanna to have a little tasting of our reception menu choices.  As we considered the logistics of the evening, we all came to the same conclusion - the entire evening would be a bit smoother and easier if guests' entree selections were limited to chicken or vegetarian.  The chicken dish was tasty enough to stand on its own, having a streamlined list of options would expedite the table service, and this plan allowed me to follow through with my seating chart plan!  Now, with only chicken and veggie entrees, all I have to do is let the coordinator know how many vegetarian entrees to deliver to which specific tables, as we're expecting the vast majority of guests to go with the chicken option.

One of my favorite parts of this idea is how many different directions you can go - you can keep it crisp and minimalist, using only names and table numbers, or you could incorporate one of your engagement pictures:

Image via Wedding Girl

Or a wedding theme:

Or something really personalized, like having pictures of all of your guests with their assignments:
I'm so excited to have this opportunity pretty much fall into our laps; what a great way to infuse some personalization into a detail that normally is so standardized and overlooked!

How are you displaying your seating arrangements?  Are you taking a traditional approach or mixing it up a bit?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cherished Chicken

When we sat down to sort out our reception menu, one thing was very clear - no matter what side dishes, appetizers, beverages, and cake flavors we choose, there's one dish that will be making an appearance on our guests' plates.  Here's a hint: it's one part chicken, one part ham, one part cheese, and all parts dee-licious.  It's chicken cordon bleu!

Video via YouTube / Footage from Fox

Here's the story behind our love affair with this delectable dish.  Alllllll the way back in January of 2003, Mr. Snow Cone and I got together with some friends to go to our high school's winter formal.  Instead of going out to dinner like most of our classmates did, the guys in our group decided to cook a multi-course dinner for the girls.  The entree?  Chicken cordon bleu.  I'd never had it before, and I'm a picky eater, so the thought of mixing ham, cheese, and chicken was kind of unappealing.  But, they'd worked and worked to make this big dinner, so obviously I was going to tough it out.  Surprise, surprise, I love chicken cordon bleu!

9th grade Mr. Snow Cone, working on dinner

The Snow Cones at the 9th grade formal. Young, skinny, baby Snow Cones.

This yum-tastic dish resurfaced when I was preparing to study abroad.  Mr. Snow Cone surprised me with a homemade dinner before I left, making sure to feature my beloved chicken cordon bleu.
I'm surprised a photo of this meal exists, since it took me about 30 seconds to inhale it.

Cooking for a girl is definitely going to win you points, but cooking a sentimental meal?  Copious points!  

Over our 8+ years of dating, chicken cordon bleu has kind of become "our" meal, if you will.  It was a no-brainer to make sure it worked itself into our reception menu.  This dish can be a bit labor intensive, with the stuffing and rolling and tooth-picking, so we're serving a deconstructed version, if you will.  All the same parts, just not in the presentation that you automatically envision when thinking of chicken cordon bleu.  Even though the look wasn't identical to most versions, the taste was, so we're good to go!

What dishes are special to you and your fiance?  Are you featuring them during your wedding festivities?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two very important words

Now that we've blown past the 100-day mark, I decided to take a mental inventory of the decisions we've made in our planning.  I wanted to make sure we weren't making haphazard choices that would result in a horribly uncoordinated affair.  I guess it makes sense to first tell you about the type of wedding we're gunning for.

Once we had a date secured, Mr. Snow Cone and I sat down to map out what we wanted our wedding to look and feel like.  We never entertained the idea of a theme, per se.  Instead, following advice my SIL gave me, we tried to decide on a two-word phrase that would guide our decisions, describing a general style for the wedding.  In a perfect world, this style would be the commonality among all of our details, apparel, decor, and the like, resulting in one impressive finished product.  We ultimately decided on "updated classics."  We're both pretty traditional people.  We like things that are familiar and comfortable.  They're traditions for a reason, after all!  At the same time, though, we didn't want our wedding day to look and feel like it could have occurred 10, 20, or 30 years ago.  We wanted a little flair to show off our personalities, making it a personal affair for the two of us.  We've decided our goal is to take traditional elements and maintain their predictability for the most part, but with a dose of originality and individuality, making them our traditions instead of wedding world traditions in general.  Ideally, I don't want people to see something and ponder, "What was that?!"  Instead, I'd love for them to bemuse, "That was so cool!"  We're using personalization to attempt to push people an inch out of their comfort zone instead of a mile.

So, without further ado, here's our six-month check-up in inspiration board form. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Facing the dreaded R-monster

For about two months now, Mr. Snow Cone and I have had "register for gifts" on our wedding to-do list.  And, for about two months now, we've managed to bob and weave, trying our very best to avoid this dreaded task.  Now, to an outsider, registering may seem like an awesome task to have.  Think about it: you walk through a store and hand-pick each and every item you want other people to buy for you.  It's just that easy!  To those facing the R-monster in the eyes, you know it to be a serious sweat-inducer.  In reality, you're walking through a store that is inevitably much larger than you had ever realized, trying to decide which of the 30 different types of towels you want in which of the 15 available colors.  You're also trying to compromise your own stylistic preferences with those of your future spouse's.  You're also trying to stay calm and patient with the whole process while being focused and efficient.  And you're also trying to make sure you pick the right stuff, since this is one of the few opportunities in life where you get pretty much full control over what gifts you receive.  No pressure at all!

We finally buckled down and started taming the R-monster.  We headed off to our local Bed, Bath, and Beyond to start deciding what items we needed for our bedroom, our bathroom, and our beyondroom.  After filling out some quick paperwork and getting our hands on that lovely scanner gun, we started to make our way through the store.  Everyone knows BB&B is a doozy of a shop; however, when you're looking at roughly 80% of their merchandise, "doozy" is quite the understatement.  We shopped for about three hours, and not surprisingly, we ran into one minor meltdown.  Surprisingly, however, it was courtesy of yours truly.  Registering can be such a brain drain, and I'm fully confident that everyone has a breaking point where you don't want to weigh picking one set of muffin tins over the other, and you just want to get the hell outta Dodge.  Mr. Snow Cone wasn't as easily deterred, so he foraged onward, pulling my temper-tantrumy butt into the last leg of the store before we could finally call it a day.

The end result?  We don't have nearly enough on the friggin' list.  We have about 100 items, which sounds reasonable.  However, I'd bet about 2/3 of the items are $20 or under, and the remaining 1/3 weigh in at $200 or above.  Not exactly ideal gift-buying terrain for our guests.  We also failed to include flatware, dishes, and bedding, hoping to knock it out in a subsequent store.  Despite our mediocre showing, here are a few of my most highly-coveted items:

The ubiquitous KitchenAid stand mixer.  Yes, I know that this lovely contraption crops up on the majority of the registries, and yes, I know it's on the expensive side of things with a price tag of $300.  However, I love me some baking, Mr. Snow Cone bought me a beginner's cake decorating kit for Christmas, and I've been counting down the days until my wedding for a long, long time, knowing this beaut would be more than likely coming my way at that point in time.  Fingers crossed we have a very generous guest, or a group of very organized guests who would like to all chip in!

These may look like regular, ol' bathroom mats.  But don't be fooled!  They are memory foam bathroom mats, AKA little pieces of heaven for your feet.  Just imagine how much more comfortable I'll be while brushing my teeth!  Maybe not a traditional top-priority item, but I'm a sucker for memory foam anything.

Right now, I'm surviving largely on hand-me-downs and college apartment leftovers when it comes to my kitchen arsenal.  Not exactly the ideal set-up.  So, you can imagine my desire for a full set of CorningWare; I'm ready to live, cook, and eat like a grown-up, and hopefully this will be a step in the right direction. 

Now that round one of taming the R-monster is done, I feel like a weight's been lifted off.  BB&B is likely our biggest registry trip, so everything should be downhill from here.  I think the outing went far better than expected, probably because we approached it with a laid-back attitude.  Whatever we got done would be OK, and we could always come back to finish up and round out the registry in the future.  Even though the entire process was a bit scary, we managed to handle it with a morsel of success, I do believe!
How did you first attempt at registering go?  Any tips for people just starting to tame the R-monster?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saving money while saving the date

My initial hesitancy to embark upon the STD journey was mostly budget-related.  I viewed STDs as excessive and unnecessary; I could cut them out and save everyone a bit of cash, time, and energy.  However, now that they're nothing but a memory, I've looked back upon the process to realize that it was surprisingly low-key and low-budget.  So, in the hopes of helping another bride-to-be figure out if STDs are in her budget, here are a few tips I picked up along the way.

 Image via Bridesmaid Blog

1) If using VistaPrint, don't pay for the postcards!  They run those periodic sales which you can have pop up in your email inbox, if you so desire.  Or you can turn to Google and search for something like "Vistaprint free postcards" and get them for free whenever you please!  It seems like they are always trying to lure in new customers, so with a little bit of legwork, you can get your hands on a good deal even when it isn't advertised across the entire website.  I don't know if this is always the case, but the free postcard promotion I used also entitled me to 50% off upload fees, which also helps you save a couple buckaroos!

2) If using postcards, don't bother paying for color back side printing.  The back side probably contains "boring" information like the guest's address and some short greeting from the bride and groom.  The majority of people who plan to display your STDs will show the side with the fun text, picture, calendar, whatever.  The difference in cost between color printing and gray-scale printing on the back side was only about $4, but when you're looking to save every penny you can, it's something to keep in mind.

3) 100 postcards not enough?  Utilize VistaPrint's "reorder" function.  Once you've set up an account on the site and ordered your first batch of free postcards, log back in and search for your recent orders.  When looking at your previously ordered products, there should be a prominently featured button that says "reorder" - this function allows you to purchase the exact same product in the exact same quantity and only pay for printing/shipping.  In other words, you don't need to pay for a second round of uploading fees in order to get your hands on 100 more.  Even better news?  As long as you pay attention to what's in your cart, you can successfully use the free postcard promotion for your second batch of 100.  If you do this, you only have to pay for shipping, yet again!

4) Don't bother paying for accelerated shipping.  I opted for the slowest mode possible, which is supposed to be up to 21 business days.  Apparently "21 business days" is code for "4 business days."  I had the postcards in hand very promptly, both times I ordered!

Overall Cost Breakdown
- Postcards, first order (includes shipping and uploading):  $13.48
- Postcards, second order (just shipping): $9.50
- Stamps (130 postcard stamps): $36.40
- Corner rounder (reusable, purchased with a ubiquitous Michael's coupon): about $8.00

Grand total: $67.38 for 130 postcards -- just over 50 cents per STD (and more than 50% of this per-STD cost was postage alone!)

Plus, I have 70 postcards left over!  Sure, I won't be able to use them for anything beyond bookmarks and mementos, but "buying" another batch of 100 free postcards was significantly less expensive than buying a smaller batch of 25 or 50.  It also gave me the peace of mind I so greatly needed to dabble in corner rounding, knowing I could make an mistake (or 70!) and still be good to go.

Even though I was hesitant at the beginning, I'm really glad we opted to do the STDs!

Did you learn any great money-saving tips while doing your own wedding mailers?

Friday, February 18, 2011


As I designed, printed, and prepared our STDs for their grand voyage with the USPS, I came to an important realization about the wedding planning, my overall level of craftiness, and where I plan to go from here.  Simply put... I'm not a DIY bride, by any stretch.  But that doesn't mean I'm totally inept with creativity, vision, and execution.  Ergo, I've decided I'm a D(po)IY bride, which stands for Do (part of) It Yourself!  I'm not rushing out to my nearest craft store to buy every last supply I could ever need for every last project and then squirrelling myself away in my apartment, waging war with hot glue guns, reams of fabric, and lots and lots of glitter.  However, I am interested in adding some extra touches here and there through some low-maintenance but high-quality finishing details.  Sure, others may never notice the little things here and there that are courtesy of this up and coming Martha Stewart extraordinaire, but I'll know, and that's worth something!

My first DpoIY project was our STDs.  As I alluded to in the previous post, I was pleased with how the postcards came back from VistaPrint, but they lacked a little snap, crackle, and pop.  After carefully considering  my options, I decided the best course of action would be to invest in a corner-rounder and make the postcards a little special.

First, a little FYI for the DIY-challenged.  I bought a Fiskars 2-in-1 corner rounder.  I didn't really know what the 2nd mode of the "2-in-1" meant, since I just assumed it rounded corners, period.  Well, apparently I'm a moron and never realized that you could round corners in any number of ways.  Look at this:

The mode on the left makes a subtle, short curve of the corners, while the mode on the right makes a more noticeable, swooping curve of the corners. In the following picture, you may be able to see the slight difference.  The postcard on the bottom has the smaller curve, while the postcard on the top has the larger curve (I think the most noticeable differences are seen when you look at the postcards' bottom right corners). 
It took me quite a while to realize that there was indeed a difference, and that the larger punch still didn't cut off too much paper on each corner.  I liked the look of the larger corners (top postcard) better, so away we went!

I punched and punched and punched, with varying results.  The corner rounder isn't the heartiest device I've ever used, so it got jammed up with corner carnage every couple of punches.  In order to avoid this issue and keep each punch as crisp as possible, I employed the highly-scientific method of shaking the punch frantically after every punch.  Whether it worked or not, I'll never know, but at least it provided me with some mental relief.  Over the course of my punching, I took notice that I had better results if I held the postcards in a certain relative position to the punch.

Holding the postcard in a vertical alignment to the punch like this:

Worked better than holding the card in a horizontal alignment to the punch, like this:

I think I had more success with the vertical versus the horizontal because I was able to more accurately push the corner flush against the internal punching mechanism.  It was pretty much just a process of trial-and-error (and lots, and lots of error).  

After punching all of them, I sorted the postcards based on how presentable their corners looked.  Fortunately, 150 were deemed to be of high-quality, so we had more than enough good ones to send to all of our friends and family.  Like I said above, I doubt anyone is going to open their mailbox and exclaim, "Oh, yay!  A postcard with rounded corners!  Look how great that looks!!" buuuuut I'm still happy I did it.  I thought (and still think) it looks a bit nicer, and it shows a little extra effort went into it.

So there you have it!  I DpoIY'd the STDs; I claim full responsibility, for better or for worse, for the design and corner quality.  I think I could get used to this DpoIY attitude, so hopefully it serves me well in the upcoming months!

Did you attempt any new crafting skills during your wedding planning?  How did it go?

(all photos personal.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The big reveal: STD edition!

Now that I've received some positive feedback in the form of text messages with multiple capital letters and exclamation points from friends all over the country, I think it's safe to assume that most of our guests have received their save the dates.  So, without further ado, here they are!!

Zee "back":

And zee "front":
So, here's how these little pups came to be.  As you may recall, I was pretty wishy-washy on the whole STD thing. While daydreaming about what our STDs would look like if we did them, I quickly determined that if we were going to do STDs, we'd do postcards.  Why?  A couple reasons:
  • They are cheaper to mail, postage-wise.
  • They don't require envelopes (another cost-savings).
  •  A lot of couples do magnets, and I was interested in doing something slightly different.
  • Postcards aren't relegated to magnetic surfaces only - they can be tacked to corkboards, used as bookmarks, or still slapped on a fridge with a recipient's pre-owned, fully-functional magnets... think of all the possible places our STD could end up!!
  • And, most importantly of all, they're shockingly affordable to print!
A while back in my wedding planning, I stumbled upon a nice little site called VistaPrint, which basically lets you print anything you want on any type of item you want.  Periodically, they run obscene sales, offering things like 100 postcards for free - all you have to pay for is shipping!  A few months ago, I got bitten by the STD bug.  Before getting ahead of myself, I decided to double-check with our photog to make sure she was OK with using an e-pic on the mailer (fortunately, she warmly agreed!).  With our photographer's blessing, all I had to do was keep an eye out for another one of those pesky sales.  Sure enough, shortly after the first of the year, I had a message in my inbox saying that I could make 100 postcards for zilch.  I dove into action, using my handy-dandy Microsoft Publisher software, a decent amount of patience, and the better part of one afternoon.

I really liked the idea of including a picture of us and a calendar.  Fortunately, the software makes it ridiculously easy... all you do is enter your month and year of choice, and you're good to go!  I then added the heart, using one of their pre-designed shape models, tweaking its size, placement, and transparency (so you can see the date it's highlighting).  For the text, I downloaded a new font called "Throw My Hands Up in the Air" from, using the steps I outlined here.  I then saved my Publisher document as a PDF, uploaded it to VistaPrint's website, and that was pretty much it!  All I had to pay for was shipping, 2 upload fees (which happened to be 50% off, so $2.50 each), and back-side printing.

Overall, are they absolutely perfect in every single way?  No, not quite.  I was nervous about part of the calendar or text being cut off during the printing process, so I erred on the side of caution with the bleed marks.  As a consequence, I had some minor white border action going on: 

I decided that that wasn't the end of the world nor was it worth the extreme losses of time and sanity it would cost me to try and meticulously trim all the edges of all the postcards.  For the cheap, cheap price I paid, I figured it was a fair trade-off to have some minor imperfections.  I said "good enough" and carried on my merry way... well, almost.  I didn't mind the white edges, but part of me wanted a little something more out of these postcards, so I decided to add an extra touch.  More on that to come!

How did your STDs come into existence?

(all photos personal.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Wedding VIP (Very Important Papa)

I'd like to take some time to discuss a very special participant in my wedding day.

Image via MasJo / Credit: Touchstone Pictures

No, not Steve Martin.  I'm talking about my dad, AKA the father of the bride!  

Wee Miss Snow Cone + Dad Snow Cone, circa 1989

Here's the deal.  I have three brothers, but my dad has always been the go-to man in the Snow Cone household.  When I was a little squirt, he worked as the team physician for our local minor-league hockey team.  What that meant, for him, was that he had to go to a fair number of games, tending to busted up hockey players if the situation arose.  What that meant, for me, was that I got to tag along and score some nachos and cheese, which was kind of like junk food Mecca for five-year-old me.  I have a feeling my motivation for asking to go to the games may been a bit transparent, but my dad always gladly took me along, funding my nacho habit.  I still clearly remember getting back to the house after the boring, cold games (minus the nachos), and he'd always thank me for being his date that night.  I remember thinking that was kind of goofy, since obviously he was married to my mom and therefore shouldn't be going out on dates, but that kind of sums up my dad.  Combining humor, family, love, and a non-stop work ethic, and doing whatever it takes to make me happy (in this case, lots and lots of nachos).

He's also one smart cookie.  He knows a ridiculous amount of stuff about a ridiculous amount of stuff.  I am seriously amazed at both his breadth and width of knowledge, ranging from complete, off-the-wall trivia to intricate medical procedures.  I consider myself to be an above-average crossword puzzler; despite my best efforts, I'm still stumped more than I'd like to admit.  Over the years of road tripping to various sporting events (more often than not at Notre Dame), I occasionally barraged him with a crossword clue that I had NO idea on, and he'd immediately spout off the right answer, whether it be about historic British colleges or endangered species of American birds.  99% of the time, I'd fire back with a "How'd you know that?!" and he would just kind of shrug and keep on driving.

Bleeding blue and gold, 2009

His smart cookie-dom seems to have rubbed off on his kids, too.  He went to Notre Dame and absolutely fell in love with the place.  Whether intentionally or not, he managed to instill some of that adoration onto his five kids.  All of us have followed in his footsteps, making a home in Northwestern Indiana for four years of our young adult lives.  Look at the proud parentals during my graduation:

And how could they not, given what a class act I had become?

Now that I'm preparing to marry my dream guy, I'm continually struck by how much Mr. Snow Cone reminds me of my dad, in ways big and small.  I won't go into detail here, but suffice it to say that every time Mr. Snow Cone does something reminiscent of my dad, I know, without a doubt, I've made the right choice in my future husband.

Aside from yammering on about my daddy-o, this post does actually have some wedding-related point to it, I swear.  My dad is one helluva music fan.  He has more LPs, cassettes, and CDs than any five people I know combined.  He's been fanatically accruing some sweet tunes since his high school days, so his repertoire is quite extensive, quite varied, and quite awesome.  As a result, I decided that it would be foolish for me to try to pick the perfect father-daughter song for the reception.  I'm only familiar with the new stuff and the oldies that are so popular (and maybe overdone?) that they've resurrected themselves in the 21st century wedding circuit.  I presented my dad with three options: I could pick the song, he could pick the song and let me in on his selection, or he could pick the song and keep it a surprise from me.  I'm happy to say that he picked the last option.  I have no idea what song he'll select, but I what I do know is that it will be exceptionally well thought out, personal, and one of my favorite parts of the entire wedding.

So, Dad, here's to you.  Thanks for spending the last 23 years teaching me what a man in my life should be, and for helping get me to where I am today!

Would you consider giving your dad full song selection power, or do you have a specific song that is "your" song?

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted.)

Spreading our STDs

Despite the icky-sounding title to this post, it actually contains some really great news!  This morning, I dropped some very special pieces of mail into the mailbox - my cable bill, a Netflix movie, and our save the dates!  I'm so relieved they are in the mail, on their way to their new homes.

 Our lovely neighborhood mailbox, temporary home to our STDs.

I decided asking the neighborhood crossing guard to take a picture of me mailing these suckers would be more than a little odd, so I sheepishly snapped a cell phone picture of my fond farewell to these lovely pieces of wedding stationary. 

I originally hoped to have them out last week so they would have a slight chance of arriving at their new destinations prior to the six-month mark, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Who knows... maybe, because I mailed them on Valentine's Day, they'll have a cute heart postmark that will make them extra wedding-tastic.  Once I start hearing some fabulous feedback on them, I'll post a more detailed look at the STDs and the creative process behind them.

Were you sad to see your first wedding mail go into the great, blue mailbox beyond, or was it a big relief?

(all photos personal.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Missing one piece of the puzzle

Our wedding reception consists of a pretty densely-packed country club ballroom and a seated, multi-course meal.  Therefore, to make things as streamlined as possible, we're definitely going to be doing seating arrangements.  Maybe not specifically assigned seats, but at least assigned tables.  I don't like the idea of the doors opening up to our ballroom and our friends and family participating in a glorified cattle drive.  I crave order, predictability, and a low level of stress on the wedding day, so seating arrangements are definitely in our future.

There's an antique grand piano in the area we'll be using for our cocktail hour, and the coordinator mentioned that most couples place escort cards there.

 Image via TheKnot / Photo by LCD Photography

I don't mind that idea, but it just feels a little bit blah to me.  Although I want predictability for myself, I wouldn't mind a little bit of a curveball detail here or there to make our guests say, "Oh, cool!"  I've been wracking my brain, trying to figure out how I'd like to present who's sitting where, and then I came across the idea of putting all of the seating assignments on one giant poster to be framed or displayed outside the ballroom.  

 Image via Alannah Rose
Image via Wedding Elegante

The names can be laid out by last name or by table assignment.  I'm leaning toward using last names, solely to keep the traffic jam at the poster to a minimum.  Realistically, everyone knows their last initial, so they can quickly scan the appropriate chunk of names, find their assignment, and move onto cocktail hour or into the ballroom; this may not be as swift if people have to check multiple table groupings to find their names.  I absolutely love this idea, and I think it's incredible do-able, even in the final days leading up to the wedding when the seating is being finally finalized.

However, for a long period of the planning, I was suffering from one major obstacle.  We've since circumvented it (by making it a non-issue... stay tuned!), but I'm confident I'm not alone in this quandary, so I'm hoping someone out there could lend a hand to other brides facing this issue.  For all the weddings I've attended, when the guests have a choice of entree, the meal choice is signified in some way on the escort card.  Here's my hang-up.  If there are no escort cards, then how does a couple communicate to the wait staff at the reception about food choice?  Some people suggested doing a chart and escort cards which seems like crazy-talk to me.  Surely there's got to be a way for multi-entree brides to also employ the seating chart!  Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Unveiling my veil

I recently paid a visit to my beloved dress, eager to see it on and try to find a veil that would help to make me look and feel more bridal.  I knew I wanted to wear a veil, but nothing had captured my heart so far.  Everything I looked at seemed... OK, and everything that I had tried on while dress shopping had seemed... OK.  Nothing special, really.  But, I knew a veil was in my future, so the hunt began.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The long and short of it

Having already picked out my dress, the next step in completing my bridal look was the veil.  You know how, on TV, whenever a bride goes dress shopping and a consultant slips a veil onto her head, everyone in a three-mile radius automatically begins tearing up because she finally looks like a real bride?  I definitely didn't have that experience when dress shopping.  I tried on a few veils, but never did I have an extra-bridal moment.  Instead, I felt kind of weird having a big piece of tulle hanging from my scalp.  Despite this lack of immediate attraction, I knew that I would be donning a veil, so I needed to do some research.

The Short
It seems like the most defining characteristic of a veil is its length; beyond that, you can play with different colors, materials, and adornments, but the length is kind of the go-to decision.  On the short end of things, you have the birdcage veil, which is usually a very short piece of netting or tulle that hangs no lower than the chin.  I had never even heard of this until I saw Reese Witherspoon's bridal look in Sweet Home Alabama.

Image via Astra Bridal / Artwork by Touchstone Studios

I immediately equated a birdcage veil with a traditional, quaint, Southern wedding... meaning it probably wasn't the look for me.  I love how sweet it looks, but it doesn't really mesh with the style of my dress or the entire event.  However, it seems like I may be in the minority with that opinion, because, as Heidi Klum would say, these things are selling like bagels.  The birdcage veil is cropping up all over the various wedding materials I peruse, even making into a celebrity wedding, so they clearly aren't restricted to the South.

Image via Elizabeth Anne Designs / Photo by OK! Magazine

The Long
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have the cathedral veil, which is usually made of over 100 inches of tulle.  Depending on the gown's train, the veil may actually be longer than the dress!  These veils are definitely high-drama, but they make for some pretty stunning photos.

During my research, though, whenever I saw a bride with a cathedral veil, I always had a similar reaction to seeing a bride in a birdcage veil: nice, but not for me.  I could just see myself wrestling with the yards of fabric, trying to keep it clean and pristine for the walk down the aisle.  A cathedral veil just seemed like more, in general, than what I was interested in.

Even though I had a gut feeling I wouldn't go with a birdcage or a cathedral, I had little to no idea beyond that what I wanted.  Multiple tiers?  A blusher?  Beading and/or lace?  It became pretty clear that the only way I could sort all this out was to pay a visit to a bridal salon, try my dress on, and begin the parade of veils.

What veil length did you select?  Would you consider a super-long or a super-short one?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Flower power

On a cold Saturday afternoon,  my mom, and I paid a visit to Bob's Floral to sort out the various wedding flowers.  I figured this would be about a 45-minute meeting, tops, due to my highly specific floral vision.  I would march right in there, lay it all out for Bob, who would inevitably praise me for my organization and exquisite taste, and then we'd be outta there.

Well, I quickly realized that maybe my vision wasn't everything it was cracked up to be.  Three (!!!) hours later, we had most of our wedding flowers selected.  Let me start at the beginning.

My hydrangea-heavy wishlist was lacking a bit something according to Bob.  His flowers generally have more pop, pizazz, color, depth, whatever you want to call it.  So multiple balls of hydrangeas were kind of blasé to him.  He then walked me through his portfolio of previous bouquets, and I realized that he had a point.  The simple bouquets didn't photograph stupendously well, nor did they really match my personal style.  My hydrangea vision got the axe about 10 minutes into the meeting.  A full hour later, I finally decided on my bridal bouquet and accompanying bridesmaids' bouquets.

My bridesmaids will be carrying a combination of green hydrangea and lavender roses (right... lavender roses, as in purple flowers, as in the sole type of flower I was opposed to.  He showed me a photo of a bridal party wearing purple dresses and carrying bouquets with lavender roses, and I was sold immediately.  Apparently I'm not the floral know-it-all that I thought I was.  Go figure.)

Hydrangea (via Fiore Farms) & Rose (via Flowers for Her
Collage done by me

My bouquet will be made of the same two flowers, plus some white mini calla lilies.

Calla Lilies (via I Do Inspiration), Hydrangea (via Fiore Farms) & Rose (via Flowers for Her)
Collage done by me

Here's a picture that's pretty close to what my bouquet is set to look like, but minus the berries, with lighter purple flowers, and with green hydrangea instead of roses:

Image via Stadium Flowers

We then spent the next two hours sorting out church and reception decor.  Our church aisle will be decked out in clusters of baby's breath with some white ribbon, kind of like this, but in clusters instead of a wreath:

 Image via Ruffled / Photo by Leigh Miller Photography

The big tripping point was the centerpiece.  When we left the meeting, some of the details still needed to be sorted out for the final version, but the basic outline is a centerpiece with submerged lavender roses and mini bouquets of hydrangea.   Think along these lines, but with roses in the tall vase instead of orchids:
Image via TheKnot / Photo by Meghan Doll / Centerpiece by Floral Logic

Here's my grand floral round-up, comparing my decisions before meeting Bob to the finished product.

  • No purple flowers
  • Hydrangeas are #1
  • High & low centerpieces
  • BM bouquets small, with 1 flower type
  • Lavender roses as far as the eye can see
  • Hydrangeas are filler around the roses and calla lilies
  • All centerpieces the same, with high & low elements
  • BM bouquets are fuller, with multiple flower types

Once again, apparently I'm not the masterful floral artist I originally assumed.

So, my advice to fellow brides-to-be: spend some time thinking about what flowers you like and what flowers you want to be featured in your wedding, but go into your florist meeting with a partially open mind.  The florists are professionals for a reason and know what pairings work well, what flowers will photograph flat, and those sorts of details.  Stand your ground if something's important to you, but also listen to hear what guidance they're giving you.  Oh, and most importantly, do not expect your consultation to be quick, especially if your goal is to figure out all of the flowers in one meeting!

Did your vision about certain wedding details change once you met with your vendor?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finding "those guys"

After having carefully constructed my floral vision, all I needed was for a professional to execute it.  There are a handful of flower shops around Johnstown, some with better reputations than others.  Between the relatively high number of options and the (probably) relatively low demand for wedding flowers in my small town, I kind of shuffled "finding a florist" to the back-burner.  I figured that a rose is a rose is a rose, so it wouldn't really matter if I got Joe's Floral or Mary's Flowers or City Florists or any other place to slap together some flowers, tie them in a ribbon, and call it a day.  Maybe I was naive, maybe I was stupid, or maybe I was right.  At this point in time, though, I'll never know.

Image via Wedding Obsessions by TheKnot / Photo by Jennifer Davis Photography / Bouquet by Colonial Flower Shop
 (OK, maybe not all roses are created equal...)

The reason I don't know if all florists are actually interchangeable is because I never really looked into my options, good or bad.  I never did site visits to receive proposals and hear their visions of my wedding day flowers.  Instead of poring over each and every option, which I've been known to do, I got one recommendation and went with it.  I know that may sound kind of bold, but let me clarify.  I got one recommendation over and over and over again.  It seemed like every person in the Johnstown area who had attended or planned a wedding in the past 2 years all kept echoing the same name.  Well, sort of.  They actually kept echoing a vague but glowing review, such as, "Oh, you have to get those guys out in Hollsopple.  Or Davidsville.  Or Hooversville.  Somewhere out there.  They do amazing work."  No real names, no phone numbers, no websites.  Just "those guys out there."  And we heard about "those guys out there" repeatedly

Realistically speaking, for as little as we knew about these guys, if any of the pairs shown below could construct amazing wedding flowers and lived in rural Western-Central PA, they honestly could have been the florists in question.
 Image via Crispy Gamer / Artwork by Nintendo

 Image via The VAR Guy / Artwork by Columbia Pictures
Image via Tech Banyan / Artwork by PBS

Image via Unreality Mag / Man Candy by Warner Bros. Pictures

Finally, a family friend was able to track down their real name (Bob's Floral) and their phone number.  The combination of the non-stop parade of positive reviews and the headache of trying to locate these florists who are apparently enrolled in some sort of wedding witness protection program made me more than inclined to just book 'em, Dan-o.  So, I finally got my hands on their phone number, gave them a call, and plopped myself into their calendar for August 2011.  It was such a breath of fresh air to book a vendor on the first try, without wringing my hands and wondering if I made the right choice.  It was a bit nerve-wracking that we signed on without having laid eyes on the florists, their shop, or their work, but I figure everyone couldn't really be wrong about "those guys out there."

Did you ever book a vendor solely based on others' reviews?