Friday, July 30, 2010

She's Got the Look

Ok, for my final post this week (and yes, I know there have been a lot so far!), I’m so excited to say that we’ve booked our wedding photographer! Her name is Megan Lange, and her company is Lime Green Photography.

I’ve mentioned before how photography is one of my budget priorities, but in my opinion, it’s also one of the most important aspects of your wedding. The wedding and reception last a few hours, but you have the pictures forever. And since I’m one of those people who actually enjoys looking through old pictures over and over again, I really, really, really want to love my wedding pictures.

I said in my first post that Knot editors don’t really get as many perks as you would think when we’re planning our weddings, but there is one thing about my job that gives me a leg up on some brides: connections. Because even though no one is giving me a free wedding, my colleagues and I know some of the most talented people in the wedding industry. I found Megan because she went to school with one of my friends at work (thanks again, Jaimie!), and boy is she talented:

Can’t wait to meet you in October, Megan!

What about you? Which vendors were your priority and how did you find them?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Location, Location, Location

Ok, so as you can probably tell from the frequency of posts this week, a LOT of wedding planning happened the weekend my parents were here.

You know about the dress, but another major decision? We picked our reception venue!

As you know, we started looking at catering halls before my parents’ visit so we could narrow down our top two to show them.We ended up with Chateau Briand and The Riviera at Massapequa.

I have to say, I was honestly torn between the two places. They are completely different styles, with one on the water with a more rustic, old-time mansion style, and the other more reminiscent of old Hollywood and Sinatra and packed with Art Deco details. They both had great food and wonderful staff that were willing to accommodate just about all of our requests.

As of the Saturday of my parents’ visit, we had decided (well, I had decided…for some reason everyone left it up to me. So. Much. Pressure.) on the Chateau. The Fiance and I agreed that we wouldn’t be disappointed with either place, and the Chateau had a few extra amenities (like a free hotel room on our wedding night and a few extra meal options) that it was tough to say no to.

Then I woke up Sunday morning, signed onto my Google reader (with which I follow several hundred wedding blogs…as part of my job…I swear), and the first thing to pop up was this sweet, quirky wedding in a rustic venue. It was exactly the type of wedding I fall in love with over and over again. And I knew right then that I could never have that in the venue we had picked.

So I talked it over with The Fiance, my parents, and his parents, and in the end we decided the Riviera was just more our style. Plus, they had offered us a free chocolate fountain, but since I have a phobia about combining chocolate and big white dresses and The Fiance hates chocolate anyway, we asked if they could swap it out for an extra meal option. They readily complied AND threw in two other extras, including an “expresso” bar (I can’t decide if they’re being cute or just didn’t use spell check…but when someone is giving you something for free, it is NOT the time to correct their spelling).

Last night we went to sign the contract and drop off our deposit, and I have to say, I know in my gut we made the right decision. The Riviera is so much more "us," and we both love the water so it’s nice having such a great view of it. I can't wait!

So many big things are getting decided! This whole “getting hitched” thing is starting to feel more and more real…go figure. I paid a deposit on one other vendor, but I’ll save that for another day!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Heart Cake Toppers

Ok, I know I've already posted once today, but I just spotted this picture on one of my favorite wedding blogs and I can't get over it.

It is cake topper perfection. And totally within my sewing capabilities!

Photo by: Our Labor of Love

Wedding Dress to Impress

So, I bought my wedding dress on Monday. No big deal.

PSYCH! It’s the BIGGEST of deals!!!

Now, I should say that similar to flowers, the dress was never really a budget priority for me. I wanted to look pretty, I wanted to feel comfortable, and I wanted to be able to dance in it (correction: NEEDED to be able to dance in it).

But other than that, I’ve never really been the type to spend a wad of cash on a piece of clothing. And the fact that I would only wear this dress once (and for a few hours at that) weighed heavily on my budget-conscious mind.

So, naturally, my first stop was David’s Bridal. Okay, I know this place has kind of a negative rap for being cheesy, boring, or cheap, but guys, DB has really stepped up their game. Not only did I try on about seven totally different dresses, they were all classy, lovely, and affordable.

Though I had a pretty solid list in my mind of what I like (simple, fitted on top, matte fabrics) and what I don’t (all-over beading, pickups in the skirt, anything too princess-y), I tried to go in with the mindset we recommend to all of our brides on Namely, an open one.

I had resolved to try on whatever someone handed to me (after explaining to my posse -- my mom, my FMIL, and my FSIL -- and the DB assistant Nina the likes and dislikes), even if it didn’t immediately seem like my style. After reading enough message board posts about brides who ended up with a dress totally unlike what they expected, I know that sometimes you have no idea what looks good on you until you actually put it on.

The first dress was nice, but definitely creeping into princess territory. (Although, not going to lie, just seeing myself in any kind of wedding dress gave me thrills.)

(Doing the robot?)

Next was an adorable tea-length number with a high-low skirt and a flower detail on the bust. I actually loved it and thought maybe my search would end earlier than I anticipated. But, like a good Knot bride, I knew I had a bit more trying on to do.

Next was something totally different. It was slinkier, more Grecian-inspired. It was very pretty, but we all agreed it wasn’t really my style.

The fourth dress was probably my least favorite. The mermaid cut was nice (Nina, my wonderful salesperson, totally made my day by going on and on about how my figure was perfect for it. Yes, I know she’s a salesperson, and no, I do not care.), but as I mentioned, pickups are just not my thing.

And then…there was the dress. The dress. And I just knew. And my mom cried, so apparently she knew too. As I looked in the mirror, all I could think was, “I’m going to marry him in this dress.” Sounds like a winner, right? (Scroll down for photo!)


PSYCH AGAIN! (Apparently it’s 1995.)

C’mon, guys! The Fiance is one of those supportive types who actually reads what I write. No way am I risking him seeing it here. But suffice to say it’s a style I never thought I would pick.

And guess what else I learned? I’m a veil person! Who knew, right? But the second they put it on my head, it was like, “Well, dang. I feel like a bride.” I think I’m going to add that as another attempted DIY project, though. Something about spending over $100 on a piece of tulle and a plastic comb doesn’t sit right with me.

We went to one other bridal salon, but the dresses were expensive, the salespeople were a bit snooty, and, let’s face it, I had already found my dress.

So, to sum up, here are the lessons wedding dressing shopping taught me:

1. David’s Bridal is awesome. (And so is Nina!)
2. Try everything. If you hate it, you hang it back up -- no harm, no foul.
3. When you know, you know.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Girl Likes to Party All the Time

 Wow, what a busy weekend! We made a lot of major wedding decisions while my parents were here (think: venues, dates, photographers, and DRESSES!), but to avoid wedding overload (and to avoid running out of things to talk about!), I’m going to break it into a few posts.

First, we took my parents on a tour of Long Island, including a relaxing evening at a winery. Look, everyone getting along!

Then, we had our engagement party! It was pretty small since we borrowed the house of a really (really, really, really, really…) awesome couple friend of ours – just church friends and immediate family – but it was nice for my parents to get to meet everyone out here.

We don’t really do engagement parties in the Midwest (did I mention I grew up in Iowa? Midwest shout-out!), so in my mind I imagined it was something like a bridal shower. Well, apparently it can be anything from that to a full-on party, complete with a rented hall, dinner, and dancing.

No offense if that’s your thing (because really, who hates an extra party?), but in budget bride world that just sounds like a lot of dough I could put toward the actual wedding day. Fortunately, the fiancé and I tend to see eye-to-eye on budgetary things, so he agreed.

So we decided to have a barbecue. But even though we were eating simple (and delicious) burgers, hot dogs, and sides, I don’t think the party felt low-budget at all. It’s amazing what good friends and a gorgeous backyard can add to ambiance.

Of course, things weren’t perfect. It rained (and there was a tornado watch) for up to, ya know, like fifteen minutes before our outdoor shindig was supposed to start (no one even wanted to talk to me until the sun came out I was so stressed out), but in the end the weather was perfect and everyone seemed to have a really great time. Put it this way: It was a good lesson in the fact that your attitude determines the party; not the forecast. Besides, look at the pictures! We look happy, right?

What about you? How are you cutting budget corners (without anyone noticing)?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Game of Love

 I’m not going to lie to you and say that my fiancé is 100% SUPER into wedding planning, but it does thrill me when I some aspect of it actually gets him excited.

For example, before we were engaged (but he was still forced to discuss weddings thanks to my employment), I once mentioned something about a couple who had a mini cake for each table at their reception.

The fiancé was instantly interested, responding immediately with, “Wait. How many cakes can you have?”

Me: I don’t know, I guess as many as you can afford.

Him: That is cool.

Or the time we did our wedding registry and discovered that instead of a standard 2-in-one-cake-platter-punch-bowl set, we could instead purchase a FIVE-in-one-cake-platter-punch-bowl-veggie-dip-and-who-knows-what-else set. He actually used the word “awesome.” Multiple times. About a cake platter. It was a proud moment for this wedding enthusiast.

To his credit, though, he does make an effort to be involved. And he’s actually had a few amazing ideas. For example, right after we got engaged (and were finally able to discuss our wedding in a non-hypothetical setting), I asked him what was the one thing he really, REALLY wanted at our wedding. His eyes lit up and he said (albeit half joking), “An air-hockey table!”

My response? “We are doing that.”

Now my favorite part of venue visits is when they ask if we have any questions, because the first words out of his mouth are, “Well, we want to rent an air-hockey table…”

Since he’s actually quite the hockey enthusiast, I’ve started trying to think of other (tasteful) ways to incorporate his favorite sport into our wedding. I’m thinking I will spray paint a few old pucks gold and use them for table numbers (similar to what Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher did for their escort cards):

Anyone have any other ideas for a subtly sporty touch?

(Photo courtesy of People magazine)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meet The Parents

Hello, fellow brides!

Ok, so here’s a quick update while I have a free second at work. My parents are coming into town on Thursday to spend the weekend. Here’s what this means:
1. We will be picking our wedding venue and getting our official wedding date! (Yay!)
2. The fiancé’s parents are throwing a little engagement party so my parents can meet a bunch of people out here. (Yay!)
3. My parents will meet my fiancé’s parents for the first. Time. Ever. (Eep!)

I’m not actually that concerned about this. They’re all perfectly nice, relatively-easy-to-get-along-with people. It’s just weird because I don’t think they have that much in common besides the fact that their children want to spend the rest of their lives together. So, you know, there’s that.

I figure they will just spend the weekend talking about us. (Good thing his parents like me and mine are ready to adopt him, huh?)

Anyone have any wacky “meet the parents”-type stories to make me feel less anxious about the whole thing?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

And now, a little music.

The fiance and I don’t have a song. We never have. This bothers me, and I can’t really say why.

So anyway, here we are, presented with the perfect opportunity to pick a song. And I’ve. Got. Nothing.

To be fair, he’s more of a musical person than me. He knows more bands, more song titles. He made me a mixed CD for our six-month anniversary based entirely on songs with lyrics relevant to our current situation. (Yes, I am saying it’s all his fault. Juuuuust kidding, hon!)

It needs to be sweet (because I’m romantic) but a little rock-y too (because he’s a little bit rock’n’roll). Does anyone have any ideas?

A ridiculously grainy picture of us, but it's the only one I have of us dancing. So you know I love it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Etiquette Life Lessons

If you've ever spent any time on message boards, you've undoubtedly learned three things:

1. Once you ask a girl to be your bridesmaid, there is never-ever-under-any-circumstances any excuse to un-ask her (unless you genuinely want to end the friendship). Never.
2. Money comes with strings. Always.
3. Pretty much every bride asks pretty much the same exact questions.

The benefit of being a Knot editor? Part of my job is working with our Community team, meaning I spend a lot of time working with brides and scouring the message boards for popular topics and story ideas. What I'm saying is, in terms of modern wedding etiquette, I often feel I have a leg up.

Here are a few other common lessons that are taught and re-taught (and re-taught, and re-taught, and re-taught…) on the boards:

1. One day, your future mother-in-law (FMIL) is going to be your mother-in-law (MIL). Forever. Play nice.

2. If you have an adults-only reception, someone will be angry about it.

3. There will always be a guest who RSVPs for extra people than you invited.

4. It's your fiance's job to defend you to his family. If he doesn't, then you have bigger problems than your MIL shooting down all your wedding ideas.

5. Did they get a save-the-date? Then they get a wedding invitation. No exceptions.

6. Don't stress out about the potential for "drama" at your wedding. You will be busy on your wedding day. If your future sister-in-law gets in a fight with her boyfriend of the moment, you probably won't even know it happened.

In other wedding news, we've narrowed down our top two reception venues! My parents get into town (from the glorious Midwest!) on the 22nd, and we're hoping to have the venue/date picked that Saturday. (Eep!) Plus my mom, the fiance's mom, the fiance's sister, I are going WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING that Monday. I literally cannot think about it without getting butterflies. (Douple eep!) Wish me luck!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flora Faux Pas

Let’s get one thing straight: I like flowers. I do. I think they’re really pretty, and I think it’s super fun to get them. (The fiancé once sent me a bunch at work for our 6-month anniversary and I was a goofy grins-a-lot for the rest of the week.)

But even though I really like flowers, they have just never been one of my wedding priorities. Meaning, I just can’t bring myself to spend a gagillion dollars on something that is going to wilt and die within a day or so.

Which isn’t to say I don’t think you should! Last summer we had an intern who was one of the most petal-crazed girls I’ve ever met. She was willing to dedicate a substantial percentage of her budget to her wedding, and I say more power to her. It’s your wedding day -- your money should go toward what you love. For me, that’s photographs and food, but for you it could be paper goods, linens, music, or, of course, really lovely flowers.

That being said, I do still want SOME flowers. Just inexpensive ones. Which is why for the bulk of my flowers I plan on using baby’s breath and carnations -- stay with me.

I know there are probably high-brow flower connoisseurs out there who think I just named a couple of weeds, but I actually like the look of these blooms when they’re grouped together. I like the natural, soft shape they take on. Who cares what the price tag says if I like the look, right? Which is why it’s especially thrilling when I find something like this on one of the wedding blogs I follow:

(See the full shoot here!)

Dreamy, right?

Anyone else prioritizing their wedding budget? Or does anyone have any other inexpensive flower suggestions for me?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Color Me Happy

Speaking of inspiration overload, realized that I never told you guys what my original wedding inspiration was. (And before you ask, yes, I knew this long before I was actually engaged -- another curse of working at The Knot!)

It started with this inspiration board:

I mean, I think my jaw literally dropped when I saw it. Seaglass green-blue and gold? Yum. It’s a little frilly, though, so I knew I wanted to toughen the look up with gray or chocolate brown. Like you can see here:

Inspiration boards courtesy of Delight by Design and The Perfect Palette

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wedding Inspiration Overload

Sometimes the other editors and I talk about the "curse" of working at The Knot – namely, we are constantly surrounded with amazing wedding ideas, so those of us that are married want a do-over, and those of us who aren't are sometimes just plain overwhelmed. (Don't believe me? Check out editor Anja Winikka and photo editor Rebecca Crumley's Wedding Obsessions Blog. Brace yourself for awesomeness.)

Case in point? These three brilliant ideas I found while editing and uploading the latest batch of Real Weddings:

1. Mini Donut Wedding Snacks
I mean, come on. Part of my job at The Knot is working the catering beat (yeah, it's rough), which means I see a bunch of fantastic wedding chow ideas, but these little pastries stopped me dead in my tracks. Mini donuts displayed over milk shooters? Talk about giving a girl a Dunkin craving.

2. Adorable Favor Boxes
Ok, I don't even like jelly beans and I am ga-ga for these favors. I think it's the cutesy catch phrase. Note to self: Favors should be clever and cool. Duly noted.

3. "Yay!" Wedding Banners
I literally cannot stop thinking about (and planning how to accomplish) this detail. I'm for sure passing out "yay!" flags to my guests. So cute!

So, yeah, we have a lot of crazy cool ideas floating around. Here's hoping I can get narrowed down which ones I want by the time my own wedding rolls around.

What about you? What online inspiration has you a-twitter these days?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This wedding looks familiar...

We’ve started looking at reception venues!

Since my parents live in another state, we’re trying to get it narrowed down to two places before they visit at the end of the month. Then we’ll make the final decision together (and finally have our wedding date!).

In our area, people tend to get married in a lot of the same places, so my fiancé and/or his parents have usually been to at least one wedding in every place we visit. This is good because they have an idea what the food is like, how the site looks set up, and whether or not the place was enjoyable as a guest, but it does make me a little nervous.

I guess I feel a little extra pressure to make my wedding this fantastic, totally unique event because I work at The Knot. (Or at least, that’s what I feel like my friends are expecting.) I know, I know, in the end all that matters is that I marry the man I love and people have a decent time, but it’s hard to completely shake off everyone’s expectations. Especially if over half the people invited have already been to one or more receptions at our venue.

Any other brides feeling the pressure to live up to wedding hype? What are you doing to make your wedding stand out?

photo courtesy of Sassy Bella Melange

Friday, July 2, 2010

We Make Mistakes Too

Well, I had my first “d’oh!” moment of wedding planning. (Yup, turns out being a big fancy Knot editor doesn’t entirely protect you from those…)

So you know how we registered last Sunday. Well, exactly TWO days later I was helping our tech team figure out a bug with our Gift Registry 360 tool, when they started telling me that the products I was saying were on the list were not there. Baffled, I quickly checked the store’s registry, only to discover that about ten items were no longer available. In a two-day span.

I was livid.

After ranting to Joe for a bit, we just decided to re-register for those products at a store that doesn’t change over its inventory quite as often. So, in the end, it all worked out. (But I’m still holding a tiny grudge…)

Someone please tell me that I’m not the only one to make this mistake!