Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alternative Color Schemes

Choosing our color scheme was actually pretty easy, as we went with process of elimination. As our motto/theme was to make it as personal as possible, I wanted to avoid colors that had already been used by my sisters (goodbye purple and yellow!). As much as I would have loved to do light pink/black/gray, Tom really didn't want pink. I wasn't really drawn to orange or red for a summer wedding, either. One of Tom's favorite colors is blue, and since I really didn't have a preference, I decided to go with that. Once I saw this picture, the colors really came to life and the decision was final:

Pool blue/apple green. Awesome.

However, if we were to have an infinite number of weddings that I could design/arrange differently every time, you best believe that color would be the first thing I'd play with.

I love this scheme of pinks, oranges, yellows, browns, apricots, greens and blushes:

It would look great with a spring/summer wedding, but would also translate nicely in autumn...

One scheme that I've found recently has become my ultra favorite: Dove gray, marigold yellow and crisp white. How fantastic would some classic Jackie-O type gray dresses with some bright yellow flowers look? Again, this could be used in any season, and could look super amazing in the winter!

What other colors do you love? If you had a second chance, what colors would you use?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm Back! (Sorta!)

So I know I said I was taking a quick break, and I still am, sorta. Instead of taking a complete hiatus, I'll just layoff talking about some of our specific details/arrangements until everything is a bit more refocused.

Enough about that --- on to the pretty things!

How sweet is this??

(via StyleMePretty)

Plus, if you removed the ribbon, you could always use those as centerpieces at the reception. This way, you won't have to sacrifice fresh flowers for the sake of the budget! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Vacation, of Sorts...

Just letting all you loyal readers (probably all 5 of you!) know that I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from the blog/wedding planning right now.

We're taking a quick break from putting down deposits, as next in line is the caterer, and that's the biggest (and non-refundable) expense.

Hopefully a week will be enough to recharge, but who knows?? Once Christmas starts, I don't have to be back to work until January, so you won't find me within 5 feet of a computer!!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Needs Vs. Wants

So one great advantage to having this long engagement is the ability to spend time researching for the best vendors, negotiating great deals, and taking the time to make thoughtful, slow decisions.

It also encourages over-thinking.

For instance, a few weeks ago, I pointed out that I wouldn't be caught dead with chair covers. And now, working with a linen coordinator, I've been offered a GREAT deal on them. And I want them. Why? I'm not even really sure. I still don't find them "aesthetically pleasing," nor do I find them to add any comfort for my guests. I guess I find them the lesser of two evils, as compared to a plain banquet chair.

Or, am I just being sucked into the crazy "You-must-have-this-or-it's-not-a-real-wedding" mentality?

Since we're working on what we've decided is a "small-ish" budget for a Chicago wedding, we've really had to think hard about what we want, what we need, and what we'll sacrifice if need be. We both completely agreed that the location/venue was our number one priority. And while the Danada House is certainly not the most cost-effective choice, we don't regret the decision to have the wedding there. Second is a tie for food and photography. We lucked out with a great photographer who fit EXTREMELY well into our budget. The food, not so much. We're doing the best we can to try to get the style we want, the amount of food we want, along with a high caliber of service, all within budget. And we've discussed the fact that since this budget seems fairly unreasonable, we're going to have to pull some extra money out of our savings to get what we want. And we're okay with that.

However, we're not okay with pulling extra money from our savings for: chair covers, upgraded linens, a top shelf bar, valet parking, exorbitant floral decor, or organic grass-fed beef.

I guess we just have to keep reminding ourselves that there are more important things to put our money towards than satin-covered chairs...

Thursday, December 4, 2008


...for my lack of posting, lately.

Between the upcoming holidays, regular bills, and the demand for wedding deposits, our wallet has been stretched pretty thin, which always leads me to feel uninspired.

However, I think a brief recap may help to remind me of all the "good" that has been accomplished lately.
  • Still in talks with the caterers. There are 2 definite possibilities for the cocktail reception, and 1 definite possibility for a sit-down affair.
  • Met with a florist on Monday. Got a great quote for everything I wanted, proving that small budgets don't necessarily mean giving up what you want.
  • Will be meeting with a "linen specialist" soon. She's quoting us 60% less than the caterer. Talk about a markup!
  • Both the comb and my earrings arrived. I pulled my trusty dress out of storage (hiding under my bed!), and held them up. They both match perfect and I'm super excited that I bought them.
  • On a whim, bought paper to line the envelopes for the invites. It's a small touch that will probably mean a great deal of work, but I don't mind doing it! :) Plus, I got all the paper I need for $2.75. Total spent on invitations so far = $35.00. All I need now is the paper for the programs and I'm done...
  • We've almost finished our Christmas shopping, with the exception of one grab-bag for Tom and our parents. I just bought Tom an AWESOME gift, and I'm bursting to tell him. :( I can't wait to post some pictures of his gift after Christmas!!! :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Catering Chronicles: Part 1,004,567th

So the saga to find a flexible, delicious and budget-friendly caterer continues...

I finally received the last proposal I'd been waiting on --- the one that I think would be workable in our budget. As is the running theme here, I was pretty disappointed when the total was higher than what we discussed. The food was a bit on the haughty side, they included a wedding cake (which we're opting not to have), and they had the whole reception timed incorrectly. Ugh.

Luckily, I had the day off of work and was able to put a call into our rep right away to make a few amendments. So, I'm awaiting the "official" proposal, but it should include:

  • Passed hors d'oeurves (mini hotdogs, bacon wrapped dates, etc.)
  • Cheese & cracker display
  • Fresh veggie display
  • Carved beef & turkey stations
  • Mashed potato bar
  • Made to order salad bar (this might be nixed...I can't remember!)
  • Dessert table to include assorted brownies (rocky road, peanut butter, cream cheese), cheesecake squares, fresh fruit, and chocolate covered strawberries

And hopefully this quote will fall within (or near) our budget, making it that much easier for us to make our choice.

In other semi-related caterer news, how delicious does this look?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

10 Tips to Remember When Shopping on Black Friday!

Black Friday shopping has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. And while I didn't actually get to go shopping until I was in high school, I can remember the year my mother and my aunts went after those $99 tvs. We still have one in our kitchen...

Black Friday shopping is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. Follow my tips and you'll be shopping like a pro in no time!

  1. Strategy, strategy, strategy. You don't go on a vacation without learning about the major attractions, so why would you go shopping without a plan? Start with your gift list, then comb through the ads, several times if need be, to find the appropriate gifts/bargains. Then, figure out what stores you're going to go to. If you're going after a Doorbuster (an awesome bargain that normally sells out quickly), make sure you hit that store as soon as it opens. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to go here first. For example, we usually go to Kohl's first since it opens at 4, then head over to Target and stand in line, since it opens at 6.
  2. Carts are for amateurs and pregnant women. And since at least one of my sisters has been pregnant for the past three years, they get the cart. If you're running for a doorbuster, don't make the mistake of stopping for a cart. Run to the department (usually electronics!!), elbow, push, and yell until you get your item, THEN run back for the cart. If you're going for a big-ticket item like a tv, the salespeople will actually bring it up to the register for you on a flatbed. Remember: Deals first, then cart, then general shopping.
  3. Bring your ads with you. If there's a price discrepancy or you simply can't remember which model you want, the ads are a lifesaver. Don't count on the stores to supply them.
  4. Stick to your list (if you're a list kind of person). With the bargains being overwhelming and the atmosphere impulsive, resist buying things just because they are cheap. If you're not going to use it, you haven't saved any money.
  5. Hit as many stores up as possible. As long as you're up to it (and you still have money left), all stores have some great bargains. Most of the time, smaller shops don't even advertise. For example, one year I was making fleece blankets for Tom's brothers. I knew Hancock Fabrics was having a 50% off fleece sale. I headed over then when it opened (10 am!), and since I was one of the first 10 people (inadvertently), the manager gave me a $10 off coupon. Holla!
  6. Stay organized. Check people off your list once you've bought their presents. By the time you get home and you're showing off your purchases, you'll be pulling out stuff you forgot you bought. Happens every year.
  7. Bring a friend. Black Friday shopping is always more fun with someone else. Sometimes it gets difficult when you need different stores, or different departments, but it's totally worth it to have someone to help you when you second-guess yourself.
  8. Drink sparingly. Weird one, no? Every BF morning, I stop at Dunkin' Donuts to get coffee/hot chocolate for the group. The catch? We consume it while either waiting in line, or when browsing leisurely through Kohl's. We always have our hands open when we hit Target. (See #2). Plus, who wants to be making tons of bathroom breaks??
  9. Beware of mail-in rebates. They can make for a great bargain, but you need to be really organized to be sure you have the rebate form, a copy of your receipt, and the UPC label. And if you're giving the item away as a gift, you can kiss that UPC label goodbye.
  10. Be sure to get gift receipts. In the frenzy of check-out, this can often slip your mind. While you're waiting in line, start figuring out how many you'll need, and tell the cashier right away. At some stores, you can't get a gift receipt once you've paid.

Good luck & Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to report back to me with all your great bargains!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Photographer!

Well, we received word recently that our contract/deposit has been received, so I can officially announce our photographer!

Please meet the amazing work of the lovely Kara Schultz, owner of Karatography:

(All images from Karatography)
I think it's pretty easy to see why once we saw her work, we just had to book!! And, it's also fairly evident what a sucker I am for photojournalism and fine art photography!

Another "Should I Buy?"

So I'm not really sure why I feel it's necessary to buy the accessories to my dress 18 months out. Maybe it makes me feel productive. Maybe it gives me something tangible to stare at since my lovely dress is boxed up beneath my bed.

Who knows.

But, keeping my new hair comb and my dress in mind, what do you all think of these earrings??

I know they look super huge, but they're really only 1.5"(a little smaller than your thumb).

You're looking at your thumb, aren't you? I knew it.

Anywho, they're on, a site I've been perusing (read: stalking) for quite a while. And they're only $29.99. Maybe I could even have someone buy them for me as a Christmas present, hint hint, wink wink, Mother!!

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

Monday, November 24, 2008

We're Getting Closer...

I received another catering proposal today. Again, pretty satisfied with this one. Even though it's almost $4,000, it offers everything we want from the day. I'm feeling pretty zen right now, not stressing out about the numbers, but I'm sure once it hits me, I won't be able to put down my calculator.

Anywho, this is what it includes:

  • Crab rangoon (Tom's fave)
  • Bacon-wrapped dates (my fave)
  • Mini deep dish pizzas (yum - and cute!)

Carving station:

  • Grilled beef tenderloin & seasoned turkey breast, served with rolls, bread, flavored mayos, etc.

Mashed potato martini bar, served with everything a girl can dream about!


  • Grilled veggie display (switching this out to a Bruschetta bar!!)
  • Pizza triangles (Wild mushroom, proscuitto and spinach, goat cheese, pine nuts)

Sweets Display:

  • Homemade cookies
  • Mini fruit tarts
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Eclaires
  • Chocolate mousse cups
  • Cheesecake triangles
  • Mini cannolies
  • and a plethora of after-dinner mints

This also includes the beer, wine, soda bar with 2 "specialty drinks," the appletini (mine!), and the Cuba Libre (Tom's --- basically a dressed up Rum & Coke).

Delish, no??

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Budget Secret #1

One word: Etsy.

Etsy is a cross between eBay and a giant, online craft show.

Each vendor sets up a "shop" where they sell homemade items, and occasionally, vintage stuff. And because this stuff is all homemade, the prices are not neccessarily cheaper than their store bought counterparts, but sometimes it is. And when its not, you can be assured that the quality makes it totally worth it.

Where else can you order custom linen napkins?

Or paintings/prints from budding artists? This is one of my favorites on the site, OlaDesigns. I just love the whimsy of her work, and plan to incorporate her stuff into my future home design :)

And don't forget the bath & beauty category. Homemade soaps, lotions, mousses, etc.

Check out this holiday cranberry soap:

Umm...delicious? This would make a great hostess gift if you bought a few bars and wrapped them up in a cute, gilded basket. Holla!

One other plus to Etsy, if this is your thing, is the commitment to organics. Since most of the sellers tend to be "off the grid" types, most of them use organic ingredients and recyclables. For instance, the hair comb I bought was shipped with recyclable packaging. Most of the beauty products sold on there (including soaps) are free of harsh chemicals.

It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed with everything offered on etsy. I recommend using the category tabs on the left if you're just browsing, and using the "Alchemy" tool if you're looking for something specific. "Alchemy" is basically a classified ad: You (the buyer) posts what you're looking for, and a crafter will contact you if they can make it, along with the price. It's pretty awesome. Check out Etsy if you have the time!

Looking for Opinions...

**Update**: I bought this. A moment of boredom and unusual bravery overtook my indecisiveness. I probably should have checked out the return policy first...

I really like this...I think it might be just the right amount of sparkle. But, since I'm not completely sure what I'm doing with my hair, I don't know if it's a good idea to buy it.

It's only $18.00, though. Opinions??

Also, while I have your attention, what do you think about this Save-the-Date??

It's our absolute favorite movie! :) Too cliche??

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm Lucky I'm Good at Darts...

After working with these caterers, I have a feeling that we might be reducing the guest list.

I'm actually kidding, because there are absolutely no "frivolous" guests on our lists. We really have no way to cut, which is depressing. More guests = more tables. More tables = more linens & centerpieces. More linens & centerpieces = overspending the budget.

Maybe we'll win the lottery in the next 18 months??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Happy 22nd Birthday to Tom!

Oh, don't cry, Tom. Getting older really isn't all that bad!

PS - Sorry for putting up this picture on your birthday, but I couldn't resist. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Photographer - Check!

Yesterday we met with 2 photographers who had made our "short list." It was great to meet them both, especially within a shortened amount of time, so we could make easier comparisons on work, price, personality, etc. Plus, we got to see some albums in person, which was nice. I guess I wasn't expecting them to be as great as they were, and now I want one :(

Anyway, we decided on the photographer about 2 minutes after getting into the car, and are in the process of sending in the contract and deposit. Exciting stuff :)

Once everything's completely "official," I'll definitely post a few of her pics and link up to her website or blog so you all can enjoy the goodness!

So besides her being friendly and helpful as well as the quality of her work, we were impressed by everything offered in her package. For a great price (well within budget), this is what we're getting:
  • 2 engagement sessions (in case 1 doesn't turn out well or we wanted to do them at different times of the year)
  • Unlimited photography the day of the wedding (great since we'll be there in the morning and are potentially having an after-party)
  • A post-session (in case we don't have time for all the "artistic" type photos that I want the day of the wedding --- allowing us more flexibility to spend more time with the guests...
  • Printing rights to ALL of our pictures, sent to us on DVD within 6 weeks of the wedding, once they've been edited and retouched

I really loved the option of having the printing rights, because I thought that not only would we have ALL of our pictures in a great medium for sharing (via blog, email, website, etc.), we can also purchase our prints when it's financially convenient --- there's no rush to spend hundreds of dollars on prints weeks after the wedding. Plus, as we move into new and different houses, we can always conveniently order more to fit the new spaces...

The option also allows us to extend the printing rights to family and friends. Prints can either be distributed and ordered through us, or they can be ordered through her. What Tom and I were really impressed with was that she doesn't price the additional prints to make profit, so those are really affordable as well.

All in all, we're pretty happy, and looking forward to the engagement sessions next year :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Catering Proposal - Take 2

So even though my mind's quieted down a bit since yesterday, I still can't get over that number. Well, 5 numbers, to be exact. Twice the amount of my student loans. A year of college tuition.

So in a mad rush to distract myself with other numbers, I started frantically contacting all the other caterers on the preferred list. Either the proposals will be more reasonable, or I'll just learn that goat-cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes really do cost $1,000.

While at work today, I received a phone call from one of said caterers. I found the woman to be extremely pleasant and personable. As I began to discuss the nightmare of yesterday, I found her to be extremely professional --- she wasn't trying to pry, but was trying to figure out what our real budget is, and where I felt yesterday's quote went wrong. I give her credit for not laughing when I told her what the actual budget was.

All in all, we had a really pleasant chat about the flow and logistics of cocktail receptions, and she gave me lots of advice on the ins and outs of the Danada House, amounts of food, seating arrangements and bar menus. I'm really crossing my fingers that her proposal will be much closer to our budget, as I really heard an air of confidence in her that I liked.

And above all, I'd rather have knowledgeable, confident vendors that I can trust rather than vendors trying to save a buck and cutting corners.

We even talked about moving the ceremony time up to 1:30, that way it's a bit more clear that we're having an afternoon reception. Fine by me :)

So I guess now I just wait. Next week we should have several more quotes coming in from various caterers, so I should have a good base of comparison.

And this Sunday, Tom and I are meeting with 2 photographers. With any luck, we could have everything signed up and confirmed before the end of the month!!! :)

Happy Weekend Everybody!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Inhale, Exhale, Repeat.

Oh man. Oh jeez. Whooo. Aaaahhh. I can't (gasp) seem to get (gasp) enough air over here (gasp).

I just received the first "official" quote from one of the many (and by many, I mean 8) caterers we're interviewing. And by interviewing, I mean being tortured by.

It seriously just feels like someone has sucked all the air out of the room. Melodramatic...maybe. But really, I'm absolutely shaking right now.

By now, I'm sure you've realized that this was not a good quote. Nope. The quote, not including 15% gratuity, is almost 3 TIMES our budget!!! 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Granted it includes absolutely EVERYTHING we want, including the mashed potato martini bar, the custom groom's cake, the 3 signature cocktails, the made-to-order salad station, the fruit & fresh cream bar, gourmet coffee bar, countless hor d'oeurves, and a wedding coordinator, I just wasn't expecting the final number to be more than a new car. A very expensive new car.

And now comes the fork in the road. Of course we'll be entertaining quotes from the other 7 vendors (well, probably 6 because I might have offended one by calling her "Susan" instead of "Diane" in an email...whoops), but the likelihood is that they'll all be just as expensive.

At first glance, the quote seemed very reasonable. The food and beverages were almost on budget. But as I continued to scroll down, I saw more numbers. $12 for napkins for the bread baskets. $0.50 per fork. And we need a lot of forks. $600 just for table linens. $100 for fresh flower garnishes for the buffet table.

Oh man, here comes the panic attack again. Oh no. Aaargh.

Excuse me while I go hyperventilate into a brown paper bag.

PS - Did I mention the quote was higher than the ENTIRE wedding budget?? Ughhhhhh.

Saving Paper...

Even though I LOVE the idea of the cute menu card tucked lovingly into the envelope-style folded napkin on the dinner plate, it seems almost to be a bit silly for a cocktail reception. In the very least, it would be a ton of paper wasted, too.

So instead, how about something cute like this:

I would probably be so nervous about the chalk rubbing off that I might actually paint it myself, but we'll see. I could see this being pretty easy to do, considering the thrift store always has a collection of large artwork that people don't want. I'll just pick up a frame for $10 from them, get some MDF board from Hobby Lobby, and pick up a can of chalkboard paint. Voila!!

We could also tie that in with the seating chart:

(via Style Me Pretty)

If I was really feeling crafty, I could probably design both similarly on paper, and have them printed at Kinko's so they matched...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cute Bar Menus...

So I'm not really in the mood to write today. Instead, you can gaze at 2 cute bar ideas. I would love to do something like either of these...

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Own Personal Olympian...

Most of you, especially those of you who have known Tom since high school, have seen the dramatic difference in his physical stature over the past five years. It's really been the last two years, however, that have made a dramatic impact onto his physique. Ever since the accident with his ankle in Feb. '07, Tom has been forced to rely on his upper body. This has brought about major changes in the way he competes, trains and practices. As such, he's been garnering much more attention from coaches and trainers.

As a component to his training program, Tom has launched a blog where he interacts with other throwers, weight lifters, and fitness enthusiasts. In a recent post, Tom reveals his career aspirations. And let me tell you, they're pretty amazing. In addition to finding a personal coach and trainer, Tom plans on competing in the professional circuit from 2011-2016. Below is an excerpt from his blog:

"Ultimately in a perfect world ( we all know how that never happens) I would like to end my career representing the USA at the 2016 games in front of my hometown of Chicago."

So there you have it, folks. The normally quiet, modest Tom has revealed his ultimate goals. And I could not be more proud. :-)

If you have some time, head on over to his blogs. Weight lifting exercises and run-on sentences aside, he occasionally posts some pretty sweet and profound thoughts about us and the wedding...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ceremony Reading

One of the main reasons Tom and I decided to pursue a secular outdoor ceremony was because we had the freedom to choose the readings, vows and music that we felt defined us best, rather than choosing from a predefined list of readings and music.

Controversial, maybe. But in the end, the day is about the beginning of our marriage, and we want it to accurately reflect our relationship.

Below is an excerpt from a ceremony that I fell in love with once I read it. I'm posting it here not only to share it, but also so I never lose it! :-)

What do you all think??

"Union" by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other for years, through the first glance of acquaintance to this moment of commitment. At some moment, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks - all those sentences that began with "When we’re married" and continued with "I will" and "you will" and "we will" - those late night talks that included "someday" and "somehow" and "maybe" - and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. Just two people working out what they want, what they believe, what they hope for each other. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, "You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed - well, I meant it all, every word." Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another - acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. You have learned that good company and friendship count for more than good looks. And you’ve learned that marriage is a maze into which we wander – a maze that is best got through with a great companion. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this - is my husband, this - is my wife.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Contract...

I don't think I've ever been more excited to receive a contract than I was yesterday. While seeing the pricing information wasn't so pleasant, it was good to see our names (albeit spelled wrong) with an official date next to them.

It's been a long time in coming, I can assure you. Poor Tom has probably endured 3 years of wedding talk, and that's a conservative estimate. I guess it's fairly easy to see how indecisive I really am when you factor in that we picked out 3 different engagement rings, 6 different wedding venues, 2 completely different color schemes, upwards of 10 wedding dates, and countless ideas associated with all of it.

So when I say that this is much more than just a contract, I mean it. More than just a legal agreement, it's a physical embodiment of this planning process, which can be so cerebral.

So, with the first major decision made, signed off on, and partially paid for, it's onward in the planning process for us. And it feels really, really good. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Voting Results...

The people have spoken, and winners have been elected. Without further ado, I bring you the findings of our drink poll:

With the most votes: Appletini, Pina Colada, Strawberry Margarita & Blue Hawaiians.
In second: Cuba Libre & "Other," whatever those may be...
In third, the underdog Mojito.
In fourth, with an astounding 0 votes, the cosmo.

So, I guess we'll definitely be serving the Appletini, since my vote is always the tie breaker, and I'll have Tom choose from one of the frozen beverages. We'll probably serve the Cuba Libre, too, as that's what he drinks (though he doesn't actually know that that's what it's called...).

Now we just have to decide if we'll have the caterer buy and serve the alcohol, or if we'll buy and they serve. I guess the only thing we can do is price it out and go from there...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Grand Announcement!

After a fair bit of wrestling, a 27-email exchange, and a little blood, sweat and tears, Tom and I are now the proud owners of a wedding date at the Danada House.

It has taken us over 3 weeks just to secure a contract --- No easy task, I assure you.

When we inquired to the availability of the 19th, we were told that we were #3 on the list. Really? #3???

We went back to the drawing board. How about the 12th? Nope - there was a wait there, too. The 26th (despite the fact that its my parents' anniversary)? Nope - taken as well. June 5th (my birthday)? The only available date, as luck would have it. And while its certainly not the norm to be married on your birthday, at this point, I couldn't think of a better present :) (and I mean Tom, not the wedding).

And even though this wedding date wasn't our 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd choice, (and as early as yesterday we were trying to be talked into July or August), we're so very excited to have something permanent in this planning process. From here we will begin the search for our caterer (who will undoubtedly play a HUGE role in the day --- food, linens, rentals, etc.) and hopefully make a decision on the photographer. Next on the list? An officiant and florist would be priorities #3 and #4. We're hoping to have contracts signed, deposits down, and plans in place by March, making the rest of the spring and summer relaxed and major-planning free. :)

Go Vote!!!

No matter who you vote for today, just do it!! Don't forget to consider the other issues, like education, that often get lost when discussing the economy, the war, and taxes. As the education platform is extremely close to our hearts, we encourage you to make a thoughtful decision today!

Happy Voting!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The DIY Crazy-Train

So in my fairly naive state, I believe that I'll have time to make the centerpieces for the reception. Why not, right?? If we keep them fairly simple, there shouldn't be too much work involved...

These are a few inspirations:

Don't you just love those yellow ones??? The bride actually did all of those herself. No, really!
I'm thinking small-ish, 4x4" square, low vases, with the banana leaf wrap inside the vase (like the ones above) filled with fluffy white hydrangeas and some green hypericum berries, so they mimic the bouquets. If we go with blue table linens, then we have the entire scheme all wrapped up. :)
Plus, I'm thinking these could be fairly cost-effective, as hydrangea stems are usually around $3.50/stem, and we'd only need 2 per arrangement. The filler would obviously be low cost as well, and with Hobby Lobby/Jo-Ann/Michael's selling vases for under $4, these will definitely help us stay within budget.
know some of you are probably thinking, "Why not just do candles?" Well, if the reception begins before 3:00 pm, and ending before 8:00 pm, there's really no need. The room is almost ALL windows, negating the "glow" that candles would give off.
Any spectacular centerpiece thoughts out there??

Friday, October 31, 2008

Stupid Purchase??

So while at the Salvation Army shopping for part of Tom's Halloween costume, I ran across this:

Well, minus the iron stand. The price? $12.50. What it's selling for at Target is $29.99.
I didn't buy it. YET.
I figured I could sleep on it and go back the next day (today) and pick it up if I wanted to. And I do WANT to. I'm just not sure if it's worth it.
The idea would be to get 2, (I can always purchase the other from Target or check out a different Salvation Army since they get Target cast-offs), and set up a table at the ceremony for beverages.
Like this:
Cute idea, no?
As much as I love it, and know it would be fairly simple to pull off (some water, lemonade mix, some sliced lemon to float on top and a few cups), I feel like it's definitely something we could do without.
But on the other hand, for $50 (after purchasing both jars and the table cloth), it seems like it could be a nice touch that is much appreciated. Remember, it will be a warm, June afternoon outside and I'm sure people would appreciate some cool water & lemonade.
Hmmm. Maybe I could just buy the one for $12.50 and serve water only...
PS - In case you're wondering and I didn't mention it earlier, Tom's Halloween costume is the Hulk. He's teaching at his elementary school this morning, so he's been directed to take lots of pictures of him and the kids. Hopefully I'll be able to post them this weekend!!!

Happy Halloween!!

For your viewing enjoyment, a Halloween wedding:

(Courtesy of Pumpkin Plaid)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Picture Time :)

Photography, as one of the few lasting artifacts of a wedding (alongside the marriage and misc. apparel), has become a rather important priority to us. And while Tom cares more about the substance and I the style (story of my life), finding a photographer to capture both is quite a task.

As such, here is the short list of qualities that we need:

- Must be able to work within budget. MUST.
- Shoots digitally, and will give us the rights to all photos thereafter.
- Photojournalistic style, with fine art emphasis.
- 2 photographers would be ideal.
- Personality is HUGE. Must be patient, creative & flexible. :-)

Tall order, no??

The good news is that I think I've found someone. The bad news is, well, there is no bad news! For now. Hoorah!

We were originally scheduled to meet with her this weekend, but as we don't have an official contract with the venue, meaning our date is subject to change, I thought it would be best to wait until everything was confirmed.

I'll post some of her photos once the contract is signed and whatnot...

'Til then, here's a quick peek at some candid photos from other photographers who specialize in this style...

(All courtesy of Snippet & Ink)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frivolous, But Factual

So you might have remembered me posting about these in many of my Gocco posts, but alas, I love them, so I'm talking about them again.

Well, okay, I didn't actually talk about these, I just posted the picture.

This clever, clever bride took the time to Gocco 1,000+ napkins, each containing one of five random facts about the couple.

How much fun is that?!? (Crazy ton of work, but FUN!). And considering we're doing the hors d'oeurves-y type of reception, I'm guessing cocktail napkins would be abounding anyway.

So, without further ado, I thought I'd throw some more random facts about Tom and I out there in case I plan to Gocco my life away in the future:

  1. So obviously marching band was a huge part of how we ended up dating. (Well, that and a football injury, but I digress.) Normally, Tom played the trombone. When we started dating, however, Tom had a strong command of the finger cymbals, which he aptly renamed "The Man Cymbals."
  2. The first time I met Tom's mom was at about 11 pm at night on a Saturday, when she was forced to come and pick us up in her bathrobe and slippers. Tom had broken his key in half and we couldn't get in his car. At this time, I was suffering from "exhaustion," but was being tested for mono, among other things. She later sent me a piece of apple pie to help me feel better. :)
  3. When Tom had asked me out for our first date, he was on his way to football practice and didn't have time to write my phone number down. Instead, I wrote it on his arm. He proceeded to sweat most of it off during practice, and almost lost it.
  4. Tom and I have both changed our career paths. I once planned on being a high school English teacher, and Tom originally was majoring in History.
  5. Not only has Tom picked out the names of his future children (Olivia, Aiden, Declan & Natalie --- okay, Natalie's mine, but I get some say, right??), he's also picked out the names of his future pets. The names for the dogs include Nelson, Godina, Romulus, Copernicus, Sienna, Kingsley, and a big ol' Mastiff named Periwinkle.
  6. While we're looking at a Mediterranean cruise as our honeymoon, our dream vacation would be a trip to Australia.
  7. Tom has already claimed the basement in our future house as his "Man Cave." Not only is it named, he already has wall paint (Notre Dame green), furniture (a tan/beige sectional big enough to seat 15), and decor (framed Buccaneers jerseys & memorabilia) picked out. Consider this an open invitation to our house for the 2011 Superbowl.
  8. In the span of about 2 years, I've had four or five different wedding plans. First was the fall affair at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. That was traded for the fall affair in Door County, complete with party bus transportation. Next came the tapas reception at one of our favorite restaurants, Meson Sabika. Then came the Catholic Church ceremony/tented Lake Katherine reception. Now we're working on the Danada House affair...

Can you guys think of anything random/fun about us?? Please post in the comments section... :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Multi-Purpose Programs!

So I've had the vision in my head for dual-purpose programs, and as much as I tried to explain them to people, I don't think I was getting my vision across.

And then I found these and all was right in the world. Sorta.

So I want something similar to these, but a little more rectangular in shape, and the paper will be the bluish/aqua to match the invitations. I also want to be able to use both sides of the program, the first for the actual ceremony, and the back for the wedding party and a brief note, much like this example.

I really like the idea of the blue paper, but I'm afraid that the ink (either white or green) will be too difficult to read, especially with the smaller font. We might end up going the ivory paper route with the blue writing, which I think will look better.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Drink Up!

So no party, big or small, is complete without beverages. Especially of the adult kind.

Now it's no surprise that I'm unhappy about the "standard" bar package. (Crowd begins booing).

It's not like I'm trying to be difficult or high maintenance, I just think that standard=boring. Or at least for me. And that's probably because I'm overstimulated on Dunkin Donuts coffee half the time.

But, if I had to choose between spending $16/person on a standard bar package, only to have half of our families nurse their carafe of lemon water on the table, or spending $16/person to have a few fun, exotic drinks, the ULTIMATE coffee bar, and some fun non-alcoholic beverages, I'd obviously choose the latter.

So that said, here are my ideas:

"Signature" drinks: An appletini, a Cuba Libre (rum, coke & lime), and two others (maybe something frozen like a pina colada or strawberry margarita? and something more classic like standard martini??)

Detailed signage at the bar will alert people to their choices, much like a menu:

Wine: 1 red, 1 white. Most people don't drink it anyway.

Beer: We're gonna have a kegger!!! Except, of course, without the red plastic cups. And the $5 admission fee. Instead, we'll have the bartender "hide" it behind his stand and serve it in classy pilsner glasses, like so:

High class, people, high class. And yes, we'll have a standard and a lite. And maybe an import if you people behave.

And, for the piece de resistance, the ULTIMATE coffee bar. (I'm not really sure why I feel the need to capitalize this, it just seems appropriate.)

Coffee: Regular & Decaf
Hot Cocoa: Regular & Dark
Syrups: Vanilla, caramel & mint
Cordials: Bailey's & Kahlua
Extras: Whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sprinkles :-)

Umm ---YUM!!

PS - As stated previously, I have something even better up my sleeve for the non-alcoholic beverages. It's just too good of an idea to share right now. Maybe once I finalize it with the caterer....well, once we finalize a caterer....haha

Thursday, October 23, 2008

DIY Craziness.

So anyone who knows me understands that DIY projects are pretty much my forte. You also know that I tend to take on huge projects, convince myself that they're super easy and inexpensive, then leave them half-finished (the plaques sitting in the computer room, Mom?).

So when I start thinking about the DIY wedding projects, my natural tendency is to go pretty crazy. And by crazy, I mean I've pondered actually doing the catering myself (and yes, I talked myself out of that pretty stinking quickly!). So here's the list of projects I'm definitely going to do myself:

  • Invites
  • Programs
  • Favors
  • Table menus
  • Seating chart
  • Veil
  • Wreaths for the doors (Stupid project, but I'm finished already)

Here's a list of projects I'd like to do myself, but would be okay outsourcing:

  • Ceremony arch/chuppah knock-off
  • Misc. ceremony decor (chair/aisle decorations)
  • Reception centerpieces
  • Flower girl wands (the wand part, not the actual flowers...)

Hmm...I can't seem to think of any more out there. Anybody else??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Unofficial Decision: Timing, Food & Drinks

So though I sort of took a wedding break last week, my unfortunate little brain has been working overtime thinking about all this lately. As I'm a person who can't really handle situations left unsettled, it's not surprising that I'm trying to plan timelines and make decisions 20 months before the wedding.

Gross number, I know.

So, I haven't really consulted Tom about all this yet (mainly because I know his response will be "Umm, yeah, sure." followed by a "Wait, we never talked about this." two months later). BUT, the following are all the thoughts swimming in my pretty little head and I really don't want them up there anymore.

Reception type: Heavy Hors d'ouerves --- Instead of having a separate cocktail hour and "stations" type dinner hour, we'll just combine them. The food will be ready once the ceremony ends, so everyone will gather in the house, grab a drink, we'll walk in, have a toast or two and grace, then everyone can dig in. Meanwhile, we'll sneak out the back for some pictures, then come in when we're finished to kick off the dancing...

Food: Upscale colloquial. Is that even a term? Well, it is now. My thoughts are to stick with some of the foods that we love, but dress them up a bit. For instance, Tom and I spend obscene amounts of time and money at Buffalo Wild Wings. I think it's only appropriate to have buffalo wing bites on skewers, or something similar. And how about those super fun miniature burgers? And of course, my favorite idea ever: the mashed potato bar!!! We'd probably still do the carved prime rib and the fresh fruit and cream station, too.

Drinks: Undecided. Still. Ugh. So I'm still really torn on this whole issue. I love the idea of doing a few signature cocktails, and while I don't think a full bar is necessary (especially at 3:00 in the afternoon), I still feel like that's being a poor host. But when you host a dinner party at your home, how many people have a full bar prepared anyway? Don't you most of the time offer guests their choice of a few beers, wines, and a cocktail or two??? My initial thoughts are an Appletini, Jack & Coke (Tom's favorite), and maybe a mojito. Of course, we'd probably offer a few beers (Rolling Rock --again, Tom's favorite-- and Corona), and a white and red wine, too. Then towards the mid/end of the night, we'd break out the coffee/cocoa bar (more to follow on that later!). Plus, I have another trick up my sleeve for the non-alcoholic beverages.

Reader question: What's the most popular drink to order at bars? Also, what do you usually order???

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just Another Reason I Love Danada :)

So I've been searching this morning, to no avail, for more pictures of the Danada House. But this time, I'm trying to find more of the outside.

One thing that Tom and I instantly fell in love with was the property the house was on, as well as the house & atrium. True to his very personality, the first thing Tom said when he saw the lawn behind the house was "We could bring up our bag sets to play while you guys are getting ready. Wait, maybe we could even play football."

Football was nixed pretty quickly, as I don't think bruises are the fashion statement we want to be making that day. Bags, however, has sort of stuck and morphed into another non-traditional idea.

Since the whole point of the day is really to reflect our personalities and the relationship we've developed, I think it's only normal to want the aspects of the day to reflect that, too. And I guess, since I'm marrying a fitness/P.E. nut, that includes lawn sports. :-)

I actually really like the idea of the guys hanging out that morning, just relaxing and playing around as only they do best. I think it would help reduce anxiety, and give them an outlet for extra energy.

I do, as always though, have one stipulation. The men must wear these:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Now, Now, No Fighting...

Alas, the arguing of two of my sisters over the maid/matron of honor position has brought up a topic we haven't discusses yet: The Bridal Party.

It almost sounds like a death sentence, doesn't it?

It looks as if we're going to have a bit of a lopsided group...Tom, though he denies it, is a social butterfly who hates to hurt people's feelings. Killer combination when creating a bridal party.

I on the other hand, occasionally known as the Ice Queen at work, could really care less. I find it to be more of a burden than a joy to be a bridesmaid, and don't know why people are so eager to drop hundreds of dollars on a dress, pair of shoes, and jewelry that they'll never wear again (AND NO MATTER WHAT PEOPLE SAY, YOU NEVER REALLY DO WEAR IT AGAIN!).

So, while nothing is finalized, as the wedding really still is a long way away and many things can change, it looks like we'll have 3 girls, 5 boys, and a plethora of young children scampering around.

Despite being extremely anal about pretty much everything, I've actually surprised myself (and Tom) and don't care that we'll be lopsided. Okay, maybe I protested a bit at first, but I acquiesced after about 5 minutes --- probably a record.

Since we're not having a head table, seating isn't really an issue, and as long as the photographer's creative, we'll be fine :) This isn't 1982 (thank God!), so we'll be forgoing matching bridesmaid dresses, bridal party numbers, shoulder pads, and butt bows. Well, except I might make Nicole wear one --- partly as punishment for not reading my blog regularly, and partly to protect her butt in case she falls again!! ;)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Paper Cuts...

Well, before yesterday's incident, I had been planning on discussing invitations and whatnot. Well, a little "paper cut" is no reason, not to, right??

Maybe if I share my vision, you will understand the obsession that drove me to Michael's last night.

I want this:

Except the green will be blue, and the pink will be green.


And, I want programs like these:

Except I want those to be blue as well. But I'll settle for white/ivory, with blue or green (or both!) ink. I just think they'd be perfect for an outdoor June ceremony :)

Oh, le sigh, I can only picture each one of them sitting perfectly on a white wooden garden chair.

And then, of course, I picture a big gust of wind or rain and I cry.

The High Price of Being a Bargain Shopper...

As I've mentioned previously, I'll be designing my own invitations using the Gocco. And for this project, I've been religiously stocking up on some fantastic paper sold at Michael's. As they tend to send 40% or 50% coupons weekly, I've been making the weekly trek to buy my paper.

Obsessive, yeah, I know.

Fast forward to last night --- the clincher. I was about to buy the last set of reply cards. THE LAST SET!!! I had 120 invitations, 120 envelopes, and 100 reply cards. I only needed 1 more pack. And to help in my excursion, I brought along my trusty sidekick and maid of honor, my sister Nicole.

I had the paper in my hand, and Nicole was grabbing random Halloween accessories, including a foam hat, when tragedy struck. No really, this isn't a metaphor for an out of stock item.

Nicole, who is wearing a walking cast for a fractured ankle, slipped and fell on the tile. Coming down, she somehow clipped the side of her head on a merchandise rack. At first, I was more worried about her ankle and if she had twisted anything. Until we saw the blood. Somehow she managed to cut behind her ear --- a pretty nasty cut that looked like it needed stitches. So the paramedics (who were amazingly nice & friendly!) came and took us to the hospital. As she's being wheeled out on the gurney, Nicole asks me to buy her pirate hat.

Crazy girl. I didn't do it, nor did I buy my paper.

But alas, I've assigned Tom to the mission, as I really don't want to be going back there anytime soon. I'm glad that was the last set we needed!!

Ambulance ride: $200
7 Stitches: $150
200 sheets of gauze: $50

Attempting to save $1.31 on paper?? Priceless.

Here's to hoping the rest of the wedding planning stays stitches free!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

While We're On the Apparel Train...

Love this. LOVE IT. Maybe more than Tom. Don't tell him I said that.

It's from Bonzie, goddess of all Etsy wraps/shrugs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bridesmaid Dresses: Take 2 (or 3?)

I don't really have an idea of what I want for the bridesmaid dresses, which is odd, because I'm usually a pretty particular person. I think I'll know when I see it, though.

And I might have just seen it.

Aria Dresses seems to be a great solution to the bridesmaid dress conundrum:

Colors that appeal to me, styles that look good on all, look that fits with the garden-type feel but matches the formality of my dress, and affordability.

It's a lot to ask for. But as my mother always reminds me, "Ask and ye shall receive."

Look: my colors! And look: eyelet! (it screams "garden party"!)

Okay, so I'm thinking the eyelet might be a little much for my dress, so we should probably stick with the shantung or the duchess satin:

Aaahh, much better. Me likey. **Note to self/photographer: Don't ask bridesmaids to "lean closer" to bride. Resulting picture looks ridiculous.

But wait! Don't we need different styles of dresses in the same colors and fabrics???


And another plus?? Dresses average about $160 for the shorter style and about $190 for floor-length. Holla!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Please Direct Your Attention to the Top Right Corner.

Good looking couple, eh? ;)

Now, look up about an inch.

Looking at the poll? Good!

So let's talk times, here. If we have the flexibility to have the wedding whenever we want, what would be the best time?

There are a variety of factors that influence this decision, including but not limited to # of out of town guests (Tom's grandparents and a few aunts and or uncles), availability of caterer/photographer/officiant, driving distance for guests, etc.

I really like the idea of a 2 p.m. ceremony with cocktails at 2:30 and dinner to follow around 3:30. Could that even really be called dinner??

Or instead, could we do something entirely unique with the ceremony at 2:00 and the actual food served at 2:30? If it was more cocktail-style as we envision, it might make for a smooth transition...? We can do our entrance, a quick toast or two, then escape for pictures as everyone eats and mingles, then begin the dancing at 3:30...?

If the reception ends around 6:30, that's still PLENTY of sunlight for the out-of-towners to drive home in, and we have lots of time for an after-party (read: Bowling!)

The only downside I can think of is just the awkward mealtime.

Deal breaker?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Looking Ahead to the Weekend...

Tom and I have a fantastic, albeit busy, weekend ahead. In reality, that's how the next few weekends are looking. I can't complain, though. I like being busy :)

On Saturday, I'm taking my goddaughter out on a "date." For her birthday/Christmas gift, I purchased a subscription to a local children's theater. I bought her the book that this play is based off of, If You Take a Mouse to School. I thought it was appropriate, given that she started Kindergarten. I'm really excited about our December show, Hansel & Gretel. I've also signed us up for a Gingerbread House making class!! :)

Later that night, I'll be accompanying my mother to wedding since my dad can't make it. I'm mainly going to take notes, checkout the florist & bakery, and get a free meal. :)

Sunday morning, Tom and I are volunteering at the Chicago Marathon. A coworker of mine was involved with the staffing of the aid stations, so Tom and I decided it would be a fun opportunity to be a part of it. We'll be either handing out water or bananas at Aid Station 19. :)

Sunday afternoon, we're hoping to catch a quick nap. We're leaving for the race at 6 am, and hope to be back by 1. After that, we have to cleanup and get ready to take family pictures. These should be quite interesting, as we now have 3 little ones to attempt to get to smile at once. It'll be fun to see how they all turn out! :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

True Story.

So those of you who know us will know this, and those of you who haven't known me for more than, say, 10 blog posts, probably won't.

Originally, Tom and I had planned on getting married in the fall. Late September, to be exact.

This was the plan as late as March of this year. There were several factors in deciding to move the wedding to summer, including the fact that Tom will be a teacher once he graduates. Getting married at the beginning of the school year didn't seem like such a great plan.

And now that we're in full summer wedding planning mode, I couldn't be happier.

And then, I stumble upon pictures like this that make me regret that we changed the date.

Doesn't this look delicious??????

True Story.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Le Sigh.

Not only am I not really in the mood to talk wedding right now, I don't really have the time to peruse pictures and such like I normally do.

Work is absolutely crazy, with 2 members of my team on vacation. When you take into consideration my team is only 4 people generally, I have a bit more to do this week...

However, I'd like to catch you up to speed about this weekend. We're definitely in talks about putting down a deposit on the Danada House. I went in on Sunday hoping that I would be impressed and it wouldn't be another let-down. Not only was I impressed with the place, but I found the coordinator so extremely helpful and knowledgeable that it definitely put my mind at ease. We talked prices, capacity, future renovations and how they would affect us, weather contingency plans, etc. We got to see it set up for a wedding, and even got to see the bride, too. Poor girl. It rained all day. :(

Anyway, I'll let you all know (obviously) what happens from here. I'd rather not jinx it, so I'll probably not talk about it until after we've officially reserved it.

And while this seems like a great task to have done, now comes the more tedious vendors: florists, photographers, and caterers. My goal is to use the fall & early winter to scope out possibilities, gather references, etc. Then I'm hoping to actually begin meeting with these people in late winter/early spring. I'd rather wait to do this until late spring, but with Tom being so busy, we have few options. And most of the best vendors book up a year early, so waiting until summer is definitely out. Ugh.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Let's Recap, Shall We?

The past few weeks have been rather topsy-turvey in Weddingland.

We've ditched the original venue, are still in discussions about the ceremony location (well, actually not discussions - the decision's up to Tom...), honed in on small details, purchased a Gocco, and began a few DIY projects that will hopefully be featured soon. So, I thought that this would be an opportune time to recap.

When picturing the wedding months ago, I never really pictured the "theme" revolving around an object. I thought it would be dictated by the location, the time, or the season. And to a degree, it still is. But I've found myself making decisions based on a particular picture.

This picture:

(The Knot)

"I love her, and true love lasts a lifetime." (Nicole, name that movie!!)

This bouquet has really come to embody what I want to see from the day. It's elegant, fresh, fun, and just downright pretty.

I also love this. Not necessarily the daisies, but the overall look:

(Sweet Paul, via Snippet & Ink)

And I've bought these:


It was a weak moment, I confess. But they match! And they were on clearance!!

And, sigh, this:

(The Danada House)

I've fallen in love with the Danada House. And I'm hoping that this weekend will only solidify that, rather than change it. We'll be meeting with the coordinator on Sunday, and will get to see it setup for a wedding :)