Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Confessions of a Pickaholic

I've been thinking about my wedding for a long, long time.  I wasn't necessarily one of those little girls who tossed a white pillowcase on her head and pranced around, pretending it was a veil.  Instead, I was one of those little girls who started to think up what colors I'd like, what dress I wanted, and what food I hoped to eat.  I was more of a planner than a dreamer, I guess you could say.  So it's not really a surprise that one of my earliest wedding memories is from way, way back in my childhood.  The only problem is, it's not a positive one.
 Image via Random Inklings

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, that up until a few months ago, I had literally told no one.  Here goes.  I have vivid memories (yes, plural) of crying myself to sleep when thinking about my future wedding.  What on earth could cause such absurdly-timed and -placed sorrow to a little girl?  I had multiple freak-outs about one specific detail of my wedding dress - the sleeves.  More specifically, I wept and wept, horrified at the thought of wearing a long-sleeved wedding dress to cover up all the little scars I had inflicted upon my knobby arms because of my addiction to picking. You know how kids get all sorts of scrapes and cuts as they just go about life?  Well, I was no different.  But I perseverated on those little scabs, picking them off at an alarming rate.  As a consequence, I got a hearty smattering of little white scab-scars all over my arms, which led me to the dramatic conclusion that I would have to don a long-sleeved wedding dress in my future.  And that broke my heart.

(Disclaimer: I was having spaz attacks about this back when long-sleeved dresses looked like this:

  Image via So Vintage Patterns
... and less like this:

 Image via Wedding Plan Ideas

Quite the difference a couple decades makes!)

Here we are, a good number of years later, and I, sure enough, am not wearing a long-sleeved wedding dress.  Unfortunately, though, my picking habits have not died with my nightmares of the sleeves.  Anything that can be picked, I'm all over it.  Fingernails, cuticles, zits, scabs, peeling skin, the whole gamut.  It's gross, don't get me wrong.  The more I mature and take a step back to analyze this habit, the more unnerved and disgusted I become.  Why on earth would I continue to engage in a behavior that often leaves me mildly bloodied and in a bit of pain?  Why do I obsess over getting every last bit of whatever it is I'm picking?  When loved ones who know of my habit tell me to stop, they are spouting mere lunacy.  May as well tell me to stop breathing.  Sometimes I know I'm doing it and can't stop, and sometimes I don't even realize my hands have drifted to my newest pimple until the deed's done.  Frankly, I'm getting grossed out just talking about it this much.

Anyhow, my nightmares of long-sleeved dresses are now replaced with nightmares of stubby, gnawed-upon fingernails, big red patches on my face from my newest conquest, and just a generally crappy look come wedding day.  I know that I, in theory, can just express some more self-control and avoid picking, but the thing is, it's sort of my comfort zone in times of stress.  A time of stress.  As in, the weeks leading up to the wedding, perhaps?  I'm putting all of this out in cyberspace, hoping I'll feel a bit more compelled to be a good girl and resist the urge to pick, as I'm now accountable to a group that consists of more than just myself.  Here's hoping that I can defeat my pickaholic ways in the very near future!

Any other pickaholics out there?  Or, anyone else have a bizarre wedding fear from childhood?

Monday, May 30, 2011

One easy shopping trip

Wedding planning always goes more efficiently when Mr. Snow Cone's in the mix.  While I like to take a look at all the options available to me, he likes to make a decision and move on.  Even though his decision-making process is quite different than mine, including him in the wedding planning is always a breath of fresh air because he recognizes that there are many ways to achieve happiness so it's not necessary to experience a buttload of stress trying to find the singular best option.  Just find something that makes you happy and keep on keepin' on.

With that being said, it's really no surprise that our ring shopping consisted of one stop to one store to try on a very small handful of rings.  We popped into Brooks Diamonds in the Clark Building of downtown Pittsburgh, where Mr. Snow Cone designed my e-ring.  My ring shopping experience was pretty darned simple because of some forethought on Mr. Snow Cone's part.  When he designed my e-ring, he opted to place a prong setting on top of a diamond wedding band, with the intention of me getting that exact same band without the prong setting as my wedding ring.  All I can say is, the boy has good taste.  I slipped the band on with my e-ring, stared at it for a few seconds, and then promptly decided that would be it.  One ring, one decision.  Not too shabby.

Here's a picture of my e-ring flying solo:

And here's my ring with its matching band:

We discussed purchasing me two bands, to sandwich my e-ring, but we ultimately decided to start with one and maybe pick up a second along the way for an anniversary present.  I was a little nervous that the band would be too narrow for my taste, but I think it's perfect for my e-ring and my hand!

Unfortunately, I was just too excited about my own ring success to remember to take any photos of Mr. Snow Cone's ring selection.  But here's a picture to give you an idea of what he picked:

It took him a little bit longer to land on his final choice (AKA he tried on about four compared to my one), but he couldn't be happier.  He proudly wears a silver watch and a yellow gold Pitt class ring, so the two-tone look is a perfect complement to both of those pieces.  Plus, the yellow gold matches the metal in my set, while the white gold kind of plays off the diamonds on my rings, so I think they'll look marvelous next to each other. 

And just like that, we had our wedding rings!  They're nestled in a safety deposit box right now, to ensure that we don't misplace them and to quell the temptation to wear them needlessly.  As of now, we don't have anything engraved on the inside of them, but that is hopefully not going to be the case come w-day...

Was it easy or difficult for you to select your wedding ring?  Does your fiance make wedding planning decisions more easily than you?

(all photos personal unless noted.)

#463 on the list of things I really don't need to be worrying about

At this point in our planning, we have the framework pretty defined.  The big picture details are all confirmed and finalized, for the most part, so now it's easy to pay attention to the tiny little details that very few people outside of the individual(s) planning the event will notice.  One of those details?  The first kiss.

Admittedly, this is an unbelievably small detail in the scope of the entire day.  However, it is one of the most cherished and most photographed moments of the day, so I don't think I'm 100% bonkers for wanting it to go off smoothly and beautifully.  I mean, look at the flak the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received when their first kiss wasn't deemed satisfactory.  It seems as though there are a good number of ways to make this moment imperfect in the eyes of the observers - too short, too long, too G-rated, too R-rated.  Not to mention where you put your face and arms in relation to your partner's face and arms.  That's a lot to think about if you're over-analyzing things such as I am!  I've decided to take action, thoroughly researching the photographic evidence of the available first kiss styles to determine which one is right for the Snow Cones on our big day. 

Option 1: The demure, hands-touching-only style: very sweet, good photo visibility for both bride and groom

Option 2: The mild embrace style: a little bit more intimate, but nothing overly dramatic

Option 3: The "c'mere you!" face grab style, male edition: very dramatic and passionate
Photos by Luster Studios

Option 4: The "c'mere you!" face grab style, female edition: a little sweeter, in my opinion

Option 5: The mutual waist grab style: good for upper body visibility in photos

Option 6: the full embrace style: great emotion behind it

So many options for just one moment!  What's your favorite first kiss style?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ready to be roomies

Mr. Snow Cone and I don't live together currently; we didn't come to this decision easily or quickly.  Neither of us really harbors any deep opposition to premarital cohabitation, in general.  However, through our discussions about our own living situation, we discovered that we were both against premarital cohabitation for us.  Prior to last year, we had spent the previous four years 400 miles apart, visiting each other about once a month.  When faced with the exciting prospect of finally seeing each other for more than 36 hours every 30 days, we wanted to make sure we handled this transition properly.  Given how accustomed we had become to a long-distance relationship, we were nervous that going from two states away to two feet away would be too harsh of a transition too quickly.  As a result, we decided to give ourselves a one-year grace period of living in the same zip code but not in the same apartment.  I'm not trying to insinuate that we thought we couldn't handle that large of a transition; we simply decided that we probably shouldn't.  We wanted to get accustomed to seeing each other daily without causing too severe of a shock to our individual and joint systems.

When we made our living decision, one reason to live separately centered on the wedding - we didn't want to live together, establish a routine, have a grandiose wedding, and then revert right back to that routine.  We wanted the wedding to mark a definite transition in our lives, rather than a giant party that was thrown over the weekend before we got back to life as normal.  Now that the wedding is creeping ever closer, that reason to not live together is quickly becoming more valid.  From an economic standpoint, our decision to live separately was absurd - we could have saved oodles of money by paying one rent instead of two.  More importantly, though, from an emotional standpoint, our decision was completely sound.  I am very much looking forward to that day in August when we finally get to move into our apartment after our wedding as husband and wife.  I think that extra dose of transition and new-ness will add just a dash of extra excitement to the entire affair.

 Image via Reel Movie News / Credit: Columbia Pictures

This past year of living separately has been totally worth it, but with that being said, I am definitely ready for it to come to a close.  I'm ready to not have to take a couple flights of stairs just to see Mr. Snow Cone.  I'm ready to not have to have an extra key on my key ring.  I'm ready to sleep in a non-twin bed and feel like a grown-up, going to sleep and waking up to one very handsome dude.  I'm just ready. 

How did you and your fiance navigate premarital living situations?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Envelop(e) me in love, frustration, and acceptance

Our invitations are currently being printed and assembled and I am absolutely itching to get them into my pasty little hands.  I was a bit slow off the mark with actually finalizing our design and wording, so my original goal of getting the invitations out by Memorial Day is now a distant memory.  This self-created delay originally caused be a decent amount of stress; however, I've been working tirelessly on our invitation envelopes so when the invites themselves actually arrive, they'll have beauteous homes to carry them to their final destination.  The saga of our envelopes has been a little emotional for me, so let me walk you through it...

Image via Natalie Dee

Once I got a more accurate timeline for the production and delivery of our invitations, I decided to order the envelopes separately so that I could address them while the invitations were being created, to expedite the entire turnaround time once I had the invitations myself.  After ordering some samples from Cards & Pockets, we settled on a color, placed our order through Envelope Mall, and got to business.  I was really nervous to try printing addresses on the envelopes because of the paper's metallic finish - I'd heard that ink never really adheres and dries on this paper, resulting in text that was always vulnerable to moisture, smearing, and smudging.  Fortunately, we managed to sidestep that issue entirely by buying a simple laser printer which worked wonders.  After I formatted all of the addresses, I just plopped down with my computer and my new bff printer and manually fed all 150 envelopes through twice - once for the return address on the back and once for the guest address on the front.  AND I LOVED THE FINISHED RESULT.  It is just so... pretty.  If I could hug paper, I would in this instance.  I was/am over the moon and so excited to get the invitation train a-chugging.

Image via MotiFake

But having kick-ass envelopes on the outside just wasn't good enough.  They needed some pizazz on the inside, too!  Namely, envelope liners.  During my months of blog-stalking, I'd become enamored with these little scraps of paper.  I loved how they added a dose of formality to an otherwise simple mailing.  When you open an envelope and it's lined, you know it's legit.  Or, at least, I do.  So I embarked upon phase two of my magical envelope journey and started to work on envelope liners.  After about 5 templates, a handful of wasted sheets of paper, and lots of lots of muffled cursing under my breath, it finally got crossed off my to-do list... because I just gave it the axe.  I could not for the life of me get the angles and lines to look right, the paper I was working with cheapened the overall look, the adhesive wasn't working to my liking, and I was just too dedicated to our precious envelope exteriors to do anything that could potentially bruise them.  So, with both a heavy heart and a great deal of relief, I kissed the idea of envelope liners good-bye.


Sure, I wasn't exactly over the moon to admit defeat in a seemingly manageable DIY project.  How hard can it realistically be to cut out a couple dozen oddly-shaped pieces of paper and glue them into an envelope?! After sleeping on the decision, I've come to realize that it was 100% the right one.  My apartment has about 2 square inches of workable flat surfaces, making cutting and gluing a nightmare.  The paper wasn't working out, and I wasn't interested in making another shot in the dark online order, waiting for it to arrive, and facing the same uphill battle all over again.  Plus, like I mentioned, our invitations on a whole are a little on the tardy side; they're (hopefully) going to arrive next week, and I simply cannot stomach the idea of delaying their ultimate delivery to our guests because I'm waging war with the glue stick gods.  It's not like the invitations are being co-delivered with a Howler to let our guests know that I had previously intended to line the envelopes but just couldn't pass muster.
 Image via OMG Harry Potter / Credit: WB

I am rationalizing to myself that no one will notice that the envelopes are unlined, in the exact same way that next to no one would notice if the envelopes were lined.  The way I see it, I have gifted myself more time and less stress by cutting out a completely unnecessary detail that would be overlooked by 99% of people it came in contact with.

What DIY projects got the axe for you?  How did you find acceptance in this change of plans?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apparently I'm not the best at paying atte...

I pride myself on having my crap together.  I like things to be orderly and organized so that I can minimize the stress and uncertainty in my life.  I think I'm pretty darned good at dotting i's and crossing t's and get overwhelmingly frustrated when others lack my awesome skills in that department.  As a result, the entirety of this wedding planning journey has been taxing but nothing my exceptional organizational powers can't handle.  The only downfall of my inherent planning awesomeness is that when I (infrequently) falter, it's a long, long, way to fall.

The most recent example of this?  Scheduling my dress fittings.  For those of you who don't actively track my wedding dress progression (for shame!) here's the run-down: I bought my dress 14 months before my wedding, it came into the shop 8 months before my wedding, and I paid it a visit 6 months before my wedding.  During that 6-month check-in, one of the consultants working with me pointed out that my alterations would probably be pretty minimal, so I shouldn't sweat it too much this far out.  She then proceeded to say, "You don't need to worry about alterations until after the 4th of July."  

I think because I was too busy staring at myself in my dress and veil to listen properly, I heard her say, "You don't need to worry about calling about alterations until after the 4th of July."  Two extra words in my interpretation kind of create a world of difference, eh?

So here I am, twiddling my wedding-dress-related thumbs, dutifully waiting until early July to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment.  THANKFULLY, I ordered my BM dresses from the same salon, so when the BM dresses arrived and the store owner called to let me know, we briefly discussed alterations for the BMs.  Off-handedly, she remarked that it was good that I had already taken care of my fittings because their summer appointments are filling up fast.  My ears did a double-take, so to speak, and I informed her that no, indeed, I had no alterations set up quite yet, as I was told to wait until the 4th of July.

Her response:  stone cold silence, followed by a stressed out sigh, and a rapid-fire turning of sheets in what I can only assume would be their appointment book.  She then said that we needed to get me in the book right away and she wasn't sure how many spots they had left for the summer.  
It was at this point in time that I started to sweat profusely, sure that I would be walking down the aisle in a dress that was too long, bustle-less, and made for someone who's actually hit puberty in the bust region (aka not me).  Or, I would have to take it to someone like Spike's Tailoring, who doesn't care about the differences between a wedding gown and a tablecloth.  Thankfully, my day-nightmares were interrupted when the owner informed me she had an appointment left at the very end of July... for my mid-August wedding.  This is way closer than I would prefer to cut it, especially given that it's usually a 3-appointment journey, but what can I do?  Besides build a time machine, listen better, and call earlier, obviously.  

Image via Experience It All / Credit: ABC

Let this be a warning to all other brides out there - pay close, close attention to the timeframes your vendors outline, and it's always better to jump the gun too soon and be told to call back rather than wait it out and be stuck with a serious problem on your hands.

Did you have any big miscommunications during your planning?  How did you resolve them?

We need to practice dinner?

For whatever reason, shortly after getting engaged, Mr. Snow Cone and I sat down to dinner one night and hashed out where we wanted to hold our rehearsal dinner.  We knew with our relatively large bridal party (14 attendants), our relatively large immediate families (a combined total of 12), and whatever ceremony participants needed to be included, our dinner guest list would probably add up pretty quickly.  Johnstown doesn't offer a plethora of restaurants that have spaces large enough to hold our group.  Aside from the space restrictions, neither of us was smitten with the idea of having all of us squeezed into a room, plopped down around tables, trying to tiptoe around the restaurant staff to socialize with everyone else at the dinner. 

We wanted something that was more relaxed, with all of our loved ones able to cross paths casually, chit-chatting with familiar faces and being introduced to new ones while genuinely enjoying themselves.  Thankfully, we knew just the place - my house.

My house is the ideal rehearsal dinner setting for us - it's free, it won't get double-booked, and the owners aren't too bad to work with.  All joking aside, we decided to have the dinner in my backyard because it's  logistical gem for us - sizable enough for everyone to mingle comfortably, grab a bite to eat, and just soak in the last moments of pre-wedding craziness without being too overwhelming.  Plus, my house is about 45 seconds, give or take, from our caterer's shop, so that should help the event go off without a hitch.

Beyond the logistics, this rehearsal dinner site just works for us.  It's a great blend of familiar, comfortable, formal, casual, and fun.  My sentimental side loves that we'll be eating our last meal as an unwed couple in the same location we've watched so many movies, inhaled so many pizzas, and just spent so many hours together, working to the ultimate goal that's just around the corner.  

getting our prom on in my backyard, 2006

To be honest, having our nearest and dearest within arm's reach at the rehearsal dinner is one of the moments I'm most excitedly anticipating over our wedding weekend.  I can't wait to have the opportunity to take in the scene of my soon-to-be husband, our friends, and our families mingling on the eve of our wedding!

Where are you having your rehearsal dinner?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fearing the earrings

Truthfully speaking, few things make me happier than crossing off items on a to-do list.  I'll admit, I'm the type of person to put "write to-do list" as the first item on my to-do list so I can cross that sucker off within about 30 seconds.  I'm an accomplishment junkie, I guess... the less exciting counterpart of the adrenaline junkie, you could say.  So you can imagine my sheer frustration that I cannot for the life of my manage to finalize a very specific item on my wedding list of tasks - my jewelry.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Presenting my bridesmaid presents

Over my months of wedding planning, I've been repeatedly humbled by my seven extraordinary bridesmaids.  None of them have batted an eye at offering support when I request it, an opinion when I need it, or a distraction when I really need it.  Equally impressive, but in a different scope, is the time and money each of them are spending in order to attend the shower, bachelorette party, and wedding.  Even though I've only been a bridesmaid once, I definitely have an acute understanding of how much goes into this role.  I searched high and low before finding a gift that I thought matched my style, my BMs' style, my level of gratitude, and my budget.

Make-up Miracles

Hive, I'm just beside myself.  I decided to finally take the plunge and schedule a bridal make-up consultation with Julie Marckisotto of Pittsburgh Makeup (you can also see her work with the lovely Mrs. Octopus!)  I wasn't sure what to expect since I was receiving a "bridal makeup lesson" from Julie, as opposed to her wedding day services.  Within about 20 seconds, she calmed all of my anxieties and uncertainties.  Here's an abbreviated list of why this consultation was a great, great decision.

  • Examples - As soon as I got to her studio, Julie sat me down and had me look through a wedding makeup look book.  She asked me to point out photos with aspects I liked/didn't like.  She never poo-poo'd any of my ideas or feedback, and she was super eager to make my selected work look for me.
  • Education - She then took that inspiration photo and re-created the look on me, using shades that she thought would work their magic on my Swedish skin.  She explained what she was doing, why she was doing it, and quick tips to ensure that my own attempts at the look would be as successful as possible.
  • Incorporation - Julie requested that I bring my own daily make-up kit so she could get a handle on what I use and which of my products could actually be utilized on w-day.  This was the biggest surprise to me - I was really expecting her to say that I just had to buy all new everything from some relatively expensive and high-quality brand that she's affiliated with.  Thankfully, she pointed out which of my products would work, which I should consider replacing, and where I could find good deals on her recommended new products.  Fabulous.
Enough gum-flapping.  Here's the goods!
 Immediately after the trial

12 very humid hours later

Now, all I need to do is make a few key purchases and practice, practice, practice!

Just for fun, what's your best make-up tip for other brides out there?

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Inspiration via girl crushes

    Without many brown-eyed, strawberry blonde-haired celebrities to look to for make-up inspiration, I decided to expand my search a bit by honing in on my girl crushes.  These women are celebrities whose style I think is a decent parallel to my own, and their natural coloring isn't so wildly different from my own to be an insurmountable issue.  I plopped down in front of my good friend Google images and started typing in random celebrity names and the phrase "red carpet" to get some good glam make-up photos.  Here are some of my favorite looks on my favorite celebrities:

     Image via Ohverly Critical
    Image via Sicka Than Average
    Image via Beauty Snob
     Image via Bella Cene'
    Image via Sparkle Like the Stars

    Looking at this compilation, it's pretty clear that I like a relatively natural look.  Nothing crazy like a big smoky eye or a crazy red lip.  I love a heavy upper lash line; to me, it's the perfect blend of glam and natural.  Then, to complement those statement eyes, just some nice dewy, peachy cheeks and a soft, pink lip.  Sure, I ended up completely discarding the whole idea of looking for stars with similar color palettes; nevertheless, I think my plan b strategy helped me to define what I'm looking for in my make-up look for W-day.

    What's the most important part of your W-day make-up?  And, on a sillier note, who are your Hollywood girl crushes?

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    The plight of my natural coloring

    When looking for some make-up inspiration, I decided I'd start with celebrities with hair color similar to my own, since redheads kind of have their own wonky coloring.  I figured make-up looks that work for ginger celebs would (in theory) work for me.

    Let's play a game.  Quick, name some red-headed celebrities.  Common answers (according to Google images): Amy Adams, Lindsay Lohan (pre-druggie days), Nicole Kidman (pre-monochromatic skin + hair days), Julianne Moore, and Marcia Cross.  Now let's take a closer look:

     Image via Marie Claire

     Image via Best Week Ever
    Image via Cleveland Couture 
    Image via Her Daily
    Image via Only In My L.A.

    All beautiful, for sure.  Nevertheless, none of these photos really seem like great make-up options for me, for one main reason.  Need a hint?

    The big issue: none of these popular red-headed starlets have brown eyes!  Take another look: Amy = blue, Lindsay = blue, Nicole = blue, Julianne = green, Marcia = blue.  Not a brown pair in the mix.  Plus, just to add insult to injury, I'm not really on par with their hair color.  They are all true red heads, while I dabble more in strawberry blonde-hood.  When you type "strawberry blonde celebrity" into Google images, here's a sampling of what you get:
    Image via Hairfinder

    Never mind the fact that both Jessica and Sienna are faux-strawberry blonde, neither of them really match my overall coloring.  Ms. Alba is a couple thousand shades tanner than I'll ever be, and then Ms. Miller has those blasted baby blue eyes again.

    Apparently finding a celebrity with strawberry blonde hair and brown eyes is quite the task.  As with all things in wedding planning, I had to resort to plan b in order to find some wedding make-up inspiration from my celeb friends: girl crushes.

    Did you have a hard time finding make-up looks for your natural color palette?  What celebrities do you look to for make-up inspiration?

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Bridal Beauty Bribery

    After weighing my make-up options, I decided that, barring any huge curveball, I would be doing my own wedding day make-up.  Instead of splurging on a professional make-up artist for my wedding, I decided I'd pursue a much smaller splurge and schedule a professional make-up consultation to help guide my DIY make-up on W-day.  I researched some options and landed on a make-up artist who offered a service called a "bridal make-up lesson," which is designed for people who are pretty comfortable with basic make-up application but are interested in adding some oomph for the big day... I'd say that describes my make-up situation pretty perfectly!

    Instead of just picking up the phone and scheduling a consultation, I decided to make a little wager with myself.  As so many brides before me have described, every woman wants to look and feel her best on her wedding day, which usually translates to toning up and/or dropping a few pounds.  Physique-wise, I'm not shooting for anything drastic.  I just want to be healthy and feel good about the way I look in my dress, period, end of discussion.  So, to recap, I wanted to be healthier AND I wanted a make-up consultation.  I let these two desires join forces, and engaged in a little bridal beauty bribery.

    Image via The Gloss

    I decided that if I worked out 18 out of 30 consecutive days, I'd treat myself to a make-up consultation.  I chose April as the month for the self-induced bet, and got to work.  I didn't quite hit my mark of 18, but I did exercise more regularly than I normally do, and I did get pretty close to the magical and arbitrarily selected number of 18.  Therefore, I gave myself a passing grade for this challenge.  Sure, maybe I'm fudging the results a smidge, but the reality is that I did succeed in embracing a healthier lifestyle with more regular exercise.  I felt more energetic, more productive, and more accomplished.  I decided that, like weight and size, the number of work-outs per month is really just a number.  The more important barometer is how you feel when you're working toward a healthful lifestyle.  Now that I've "succeeded" in my little work-out challenge, it's off to a make-up consultation to create my w-day look! 

    Have you ever bribed yourself with something for the wedding?  Spill!