Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Lifetime of Tomorrows

Sadly, it's about that time.  I've said all I have to say about our engagement and wedding, and now it's time for me to retire this pretty little blog and, with it, this chapter of my life.

Just about two years ago, I moved to Pittsburgh with a shiny new ring on my hand, transitioning to a new city with a new support system.  It wasn't the hardest move ever, as I had Mr. Snow Cone by my side, but there was a definite vacancy in my life.  The vast majority of my social life consisted of hanging out with guys who, for the most part, wouldn't even know that there are different chair options for a reception, let alone that people go gaga for specific varieties.  I had all of my bridesmaids and my mom to go along the planning journey with me, but I always felt that I (rightfully so) cared more about the nitty-gritty details than they did.  I was trying to be sensitive and not eat up all of their time with the grand debate of ivory versus white, so I needed a space of my own to discuss these details with people who were engaged, interested, and understanding.  And that, my friends, was WeddingBee.

It's been such a special privilege to tell my story here, and I will forever be grateful for the support, camaraderie, feedback, and love that I've experienced.  Being engaged was already such a fun, exciting chapter of my life, and the opportunity to contribute to this site made it that much more memorable.  I'm so glad I took the time to transcribe this journey, from start to finish; I have no doubt that I will look back on these words with fondness in 5, 10, or 50 years.  I hope you've enjoyed this experience a mere morsel as much as I have.

I've truly loved being your Snow Cone.

 Photo courtesy of Mrs. Bunting!

As much as I've loved being engaged and newly married, I'm even more excited about what comes next - a lifetime of tomorrows with my amazing husband.  Feel free to check in on what we're up to at my new blog, The Strawberry Blonde Life.

 Photo courtesy of Christina Garber

Hugs and high fives,
Mrs. Snow Cone

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Bee's Life: Snow Cone!

WeddingBee, I just can't quit you.  So you get one more post before the dreaded farewell.

How I Found WeddingBee
About 48 hours after I got engaged, I got the planning bug and started to Google color schemes.  I think my search for some peacock inspiration landed me on the WeddingBee boards.  I was shocked that a resource existed in which people could upload their own photos as ways of sparking inspiration for others.  All of my knowledge of the online world prior to this point was limited to "Real Weddings" on other sites which normally come with no budget information but you have no doubt that they're, well, lavish.  Not exactly helpful.  I loved the accessibility of this new little treasure trove of ideas.

A few days later, I stumbled across the blog portion of the site.  I think I was looking for Pennsylvania weddings, and Mrs. Octopus had been introduced mere days before I got engaged.  It was clearly meant to be.  That serendipity didn't help me to make heads or tails of this site, though.  As far as I could tell, a bunch of anonymous people were creating fake identities to exist in this online world, and why anyone would want to be known as Mrs. Insert-Inanimate-Object-Here was beyond me.  I decided it was a little too "out there" for me and kindly bid it adieu.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was honestly just curious to figure out the whole schtick behind this site with Cheeseburgers and Octopi and Penguins.  If I happened to pick up some wedding inspiration along the way, so be it.  Once I figured out the whole blog element of the site, I was totally hooked. 

My Application Story
Shortly after I fell in love with the site, I decided that I would apply to be a blogger, even though I hadn't ever blogged, with the exception a semester abroad.  Before I could begin my wedding blog, though, I got cold feet.  What if I started it and never saw it through?  I considered this to be a very real possibility, given that I had school, work, and wedding planning eating up most of my time.  I decided to table the whole blog idea before it even got off the ground.

As I neared the eight-month mark, though, I started to feel the itch.  I desperately wanted to blog for WeddingBee, and if that meant I had to work on my time management, so be it.  I realized I had never identified a specific goal and not thrown myself head-first into trying to make it happen, so why should this be any different?  After confirming that I didn't need to be marrying in a major metropolitan area, I took the plunge and started my blog.

I plodded along happily, walking through the story of us and our wedding planning to date.  On December 13, I sent in my application and then waited.  I was both wildly confident and horrifically wary about my chances of being selected.  I even kept a chart of the brunch generation icons, putting red x's over the selected one so I could have a head start in choosing my hypothetical future moniker.  Well, the weeks came and passed.  I read between nonexistent lines, thinking that a dry spell with no response maybe meant I was an automatic no.  Or I was a maybe.  Or I was a yes but they needed to space out introductions.  I drove myself insane and then, finally, the day came.  The day I realized I'd passed the five-week mark and needed to check back in.  Sure enough, my application had gotten lost in the shuffle and would be immediately evaluated.  A few days later, I woke up to a rejection email and actually felt great about it.

Sure, it stung at first, but I was driving myself bonkers with the incessant email checking and stressing.  I decided to put my head down and keep blogging.  After about a month of new posts and a mild refinement of my writing voice, I reapplied.  And, finally, the day I'd been waiting for arrived.  The day I realized that I had, once again, passed the five-week mark.  So, I emailed Pengy, and a few days later, I found out I was in!  I still remember all the details of that day and how nervous I was as I crafted my intro post at 5 in the morning because I was too jazzed to sleep.

 something like that

Being a Blogger Bee
At the risk of sounding dramatic, being a blogger bee is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time (minus that whole marrying my soulmate thing).  It's provided me with such an outlet in every sense of the word.  Few things are as gratifying as laboring over a detail or an event and receiving positive feedback from people who may not know you, but still support you.  Still to this day, a full year after I joined the site as a blogger, I get all warm and fuzzy reading through the comments on any of my posts.  And, still to this day, it occasionally surprises me to remember that just as I sapped inspiration from bees past, some readers may like an idea that I used!  While I may not blog with the site in mind (see below), that hasn't prevented me from putting down deep, happy roots in this wonderful online world.

Tips for Aspiring Bees!
When I applied (and re-applied), I voraciously read these "Bee's Life" posts and was always kind of put off with the abstract advice.  While they were undoubtedly accurate, I still needed real, hard suggestions to put into motion, people! So, in the hopes of helping some neurotic little ladies like myself, here are some "real" tips that helped me in my applying.
  • Have one of your nearest and dearest friends who knows you really well but isn't afraid to give you honest feedback read your posts.  Ask her (or him!) if she can hear your voice telling her this story.  I struggled with my writing style in the beginning, and bounced posts off one of my best friends.  I felt so validated when she finally assessed that my writing actually sounded like me!
  • Write for you.  It's really easy to get caught up in the mindset that there's a formula for preparing a WeddingBee-worthy application blog, like you need x posts about your proposal, y posts about picking a florist, and z posts about font selections.  In reality, that's more than likely going to set you up for some stiff, clunky writing.  Instead, recognize that you are already a reader of WeddingBee.  What is it that you want to read about?  And, along those same lines, write about what's important to you.  In 10 years, the only person who is likely to flip through these posts is going to be you.  Create a version of this special chapter in your life that will still resonate for yourself.  Sure, there are readers who could also be taking a look at your posts, but it will ring truer if you do it for you.
  • Tell a story.  Instead of rattling off a list of what you need to accomplish this month, delve into a few specific details of one specific task.  Tell the readers (and yourself) why you were stressing over picking your invitation design, or why you've always been so confident about your wedding band selection.  Think of it this way - what's more interesting, when a friend tells you what she bought at the grocery store, or when a friend tells you about that crazy guy she saw smelling all the melons in the produce aisle?
  • Along those same lines, try to find a hook within your story.  Lots and lots of people buy wedding dresses.  What detail about your experience with your dress hunt is most interesting or surprising?  What detail are you going to tell your kids about when they ask you about how you decided that dress was the one?
  • Don't worry about your wedding not being _____ enough.  When I was waiting to hear back on my first application, I fell into a nasty mindset in which I convinced myself that a rejection would mean my wedding needed improvement, rather than my blogging.  This could not be further from the truth.  The only "improvement" I can think of that an applicant wedding may need is purely nailing down specifics.  It's a lot easier to tell interesting stories about places you've visited, rather than places you've considered traveling to, you know?  But, back to my original point.  Everyone's weddings will have repeated aspects and individual details.  What's important is that you embrace the path your wedding is taking and tell us about it.  Simple as that.
Sorry for going on and on; I can be pretty easily excitable and run on at the mouth keyboard.

Monday, June 11, 2012

You're My Everything: Inspiration Turned Reality

One of my favorite posts on WeddingBee is seeing brides compare the wedding's inspiration board as it stood during the planning phase, and how it compared to the eventual finished product.  Apparently, during planning, I decided that one inspiration board just wasn't enough, so I crafted an original one shortly after we got engaged and needed to pick colors and then updated it to check my progress on how our "updated classics" style was coming together.

Here's inspiration board #1, which helped seal the deal that purple, green, and grey would indeed be our wedding colors.

Collage created by me.  Sources, clockwise from top left: (1) Cake via TheKnot / Photo by Look Photography / Cake by Classic Confection Cakes, (2) Pew flowers via TheKnot / Photo by Alliance Photography / Flowers by Indigo Floral, (3) Bridesmaids via TheKnot / Photo by Melissa Jill Photography / Dresses by Priscilla of Boston, (4) Boutonniere via TheKnot / Photo by L Photographie / Boutonniere by Thorn Studio, LLC, (5) Bouquet via TheKnot / Photo by Kay English Photography / Bouquet by Kay Reynolds, Bridal Bouquet Design, (6) Groomsmen via TheKnot / Photo by Elizabeth Messina Photography / Attire by Banana Republic,   (7) Menu via TheKnot / Photo by Marni Rothschild Photos / Menu by Studio R, (8) Shoes via TheKnot / Photo by D. Bryant Photography

Here's inspiration board #2, that I made 100 days before our wedding.  Some of the pictures were representative of choices we'd already made, while others were still details we hoped would come together for us.
Collage created by me.  Sources, clockwise, starting at bottom-left: (1) BM dress via Jasmine Bridal, (2) B&W photo via hive member Lindsay05 on the Weddingbee Boards / Photo by Joi Photography, (3) Shoes via, (4) Letters via Elizabeth Anne Designs / Photo by Jennifer Brum Photography, (5) Jumping via Milla C. Photography, (6) Dudes via Milla C. Photography, (7) Wedding dress via Recycled Bride, (8) Candles via Weddingbee Classifieds, (9) Tie via, (10) Cake via Long Island Weddings, (11) Veil via Wedding Spotter, (12) Bouquet via Holly Chapple Flowers, (13) Hydrangea stamp via Kissin’ Krafts on Etsy, (14) Necklace via Ann Taylor

And, finally, here's our "reality board," complete with images from our very own event.

 Collage created by me, all photos courtesy of Christina Garber

Not too shabby, right?  Overall, I couldn't be happier with the finished look and feel of our wedding.  It was fun, familiar, and traditional, with just a touch of modernity.  I'm obviously biased, but I think we achieved our goal of "updated classic!"

How did you use inspiration boards in your planning?  Any other newlyweds compare planning inspiration versus reality after the wedding?

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Hate Regret.

If I had to describe my attitude/mentality in three words, I'd say "I hate regrets."  Seriously.  Hate them.  I'm not just talking about wishing you had majored in something else in college or wishing you had traveled the world before settling down.  Nope, I get majorly upset at even the tiniest comments that could be twisted into regrets, like when Mr. Snow Cone says that he wishes he would have gotten Beer A instead of Beer B at the restaurant.  A statement that seems off-handed to him makes me cringe and grit my teeth.  I've done a bit of soul-searching on this matter, and here's what I've come up with - for better or worse, I am at my happiest when those I care about are at their happiest.  So, when Mr. Snow Cone says he wishes he would have ordered a different beer while we're out to eat, I hear that he's not at his maximum happiness, and I feel a nearly overwhelming urge to do something to problem solve this situation.  It's just not in my nature to sit idly by and let a "problem" persist; I want to help!

Anyhow, this mentality has motivated me to recognize what I can and cannot change and form my reactions along that fundamental divide.  I try my hardest to not let something I perceive to be unchanging eat away at me, becoming a regret.

So how does all of this psycho babble relate to weddings?  Here's the truth of the matter.  I regret not having someone, anyone videotape the important parts of our wedding day.  Nearly 10 months after the fact, and I still can't shake this deep, pit-of-the-stomach, ugly regret that one of the most monumental moments of my life could have been captured on film, and yet, it wasn't.  Don't get me wrong, we considered videography, but came up empty-handed when travel and cost logistics were realistically evaluated.  I intended to ask someone to tape it, but that detail kind of got lost in the shuffle as the wedding day approached.  I guess I assumed someone would whip out a video camera and catch the moments came.  Wrong. 

The good news is that these pangs of regret come less frequently now that we're almost a year after the fact.  But, when they do come, I throw a pretty mean pity party for myself.  To be perfectly honest, since our wedding, I've pretty much avoided watching anyone else's wedding videos, for fear of stirring up some largely-repressed emotions.  While this strategy has been working on some level, still even seeing others' video posts is enough to make me fall into a minor funk.  The worst part?  I know I can't do a gosh darned thing about it.  If you regret ordering Beer A, shell out the extra five bucks and order Beer B.  If you regret not filming your wedding, you... pout.  And stew.  And try to forget it.  Those are about your only forms of recourse, so it seems.

But, here's the decision I've reached.  Yes, I can't do a single thing to capture moments of the wedding day on film.  That doesn't mean I have to feel sorry for myself or, God forbid, lump my entire wedding day under this tiny umbrella of disappointment.  From a rational approach, I've recognized that I likely would watch the video multiples times the first year of marriage, and increasingly infrequently thereafter.  What I may lack in video footage (I feel) I more than make up for with this blog adventure and our gorgeous photographs.  I poured every detail I could remember into our recaps, and I'm confident that I'll enjoy and connect with those artifacts in a more meaningful manner than I would with a video.  It may be just an attitude I'm forcing myself into, but it's what I'm focusing on right now.  That attitude should hold me over at least until Marty McFly and Doc Brown pick me up in their souped-up Delorean to transport me back to August 2011 to watch the entire thing unfold all over again, right?

Photo via Giant Robot; photo credit Universal

I guess all of this is to say that you should take a moment to reflect on what type of wedding memories are going to be most fulfilling to you, because you only get one shot at this.

What wedding regrets have you faced?