Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

So you know how everyone has those stories about what went wrong at their wedding? We to do, sort of. There were small things that went wrong on the day-of, but honestly, I didn't even notice most of them (and the ones I did notice, I didn't care about). But there was a last minute planning/design emergency that totally freaked me out. But in the end, it ended up making things even better.

On the Monday before the wedding, my friend Laura and I went to the Marston House around noon (approximately the time that the ceremony would take place on Saturday) to check a few things out. Laura would be helping the rental company set up chairs, tables, etc. on the big day. Plus, I was concerned about the sun -- we had initially planned on facing the house, but I was worried that we might need to adjust based on where the sun would be at that time of day.

And my worries were dead on. Once we got there, I realized that if we faced the house, we'd all be staring directly into the sun. So, last minute change of plans, and we decided to flip the opposite direction and face the fountain. Which meant calling the rental company to adjust the placement of the chairs and coming up with some last minute decorations for the fountain.

I know what you're thinking -- that doesn't sound like a big deal. It wasn't. What was? Because the musicians required a shady spot to sit, I was planning on having them sit under the small roofed structure on the west side of the garden. When we got there that Monday...I saw this:

WTF? A beat-up plastic fence in front of some caution tape? A support pillar about to fall over and crush someone? This was not going to work. Since the property is still technically owned by the city, I know calling them would be useless (when have you ever known the city to fix something non-essential in less than a week?). We rented an umbrella for the musicians to sit under, and began brainstorming options for covering up the deteriorating structure. Some sort of curtain? Attaching swags to the plastic fence that the city put up? Then I found it: the rental company had white lattice panels in their inventory. Three of those covered up the caution tape and plastic fencing perfectly. We chose not to decorate the lattice at all because I figured the less we did to draw attention to it, the less likely it would be that anyone would notice that there was something wrong. And that was exactly the case. I don't think anyone even noticed the panels, let alone that there was something crumbling behind them.

I hope my family doesn't mind me posting this picture of them -- it's the only photo that shows the lattice covering up the damaged structure (in the background). As you can see, it looked just fine.

However, the best part about the last minute changes was the decorations that my sister made for the fountain. From day one, before we even knew the when and where, I was daydreaming of having some sort of hanging floral strings, like these. Upon consulting the florist, we learned that, because it would involve so much labor, these would be really expensive. And I didn't trust my last minute DIY abilities (since you can't make fresh floral elements very far in advance), so I just shelved the idea. But my sister kicked into super-maid-of-honor mode, and after a trip to the wholesale flower shop, she spent the Wednesday before the wedding string these beautiful garlands. We also took some of the leftover flowers and scattered them in the fountain's basin. It look absolutely magical.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something Delicious

Starting with the cake to recap our reception might seem like an odd place to start, but if you know how much I love sweets, it would make total sense.

There were three vendors that all played a role made our wedding cake the most fabulous confection ever: CAKE, Che Bella, and Jennifer Murphy.

When we first met the team at CAKE, we were sold simply by the fact that the cake tasted great. Why people settle for wedding cake that tastes like cardboard simply because it looks pretty is beyond me. As the name of this blog implies, do not settle for something that looks nice but has no flavor (both literally and figuratively!). The best part about working with CAKE was how a delicious problem had an even more delicious solution. JT and I were having a darn hard time choosing between two flavors -- dark chocolate with hazelnut mousse and dark chocolate truffle filling, and a simply perfect vanilla cake with vanilla creme and fresh raspberries. The solution? CAKE would do both flavors on alternating tiers for no extra charge! People raved about both flavors.

When it came to the appearance and design of the cake, we knew that we wanted a simple, clean design with a touch of whimsy that would show off the true star of the day, our amazing cake topper custom made by Jennifer Murphy. Wondering why we chose a puppy and a bunny for the critters? Here's the slightly embarrassing truth..."puppy" is my nickname for JT, and his for me is "bunny." I know, I know, you can stop making that face now! But words cannot express how absolutely adorable the topper is. It now sits beautifully on our mantel.

CAKE's talented team did a beautiful job with the buttercream frosting (which, by the way, tasted as good as it looked), piping a delicate dot pattern. Che Bella added the touch of whimsy with their flowers. I especially loved the fiddlehead ferns curling along the sides. However, my poor niece had an unpleasant surprise when she picked one up thinking it was chocolate but discovered upon biting down that ferns are not quite as tasty as they look.

Photos by Aaron Thompson

Monday, December 14, 2009

Polaroid Guest Book

I promise I'll have lots and lots of photos by Aaron Thompson to share with you soon, but in the meantime, let's talk about photos of a different kind: our Polaroid guest book.

We didn't want to do the traditional guest book, and photobooths are all the rage on wedding blogs this year, so of course we wanted to incorporate some sort of photobooth concept. What I thought took it up a notch was the way we gave guests the option of adding a personal message in the photo -- Bleu Boheme has a wall across from the bar that's one giant chalkboard. So next to this wall, we set up a small table with a camera, some extra boxes of film and some chalk with instructions to write a message on the chalkboard and snap your photo in front of it. We got some really adorable, sweet and funny photo messages out of it.

Photo by Aaron Thompson

That is until my mom decided halfway through the reception to use up the "leftover" film and went around snapping through a good 30 sheets....and of course, only about half of the guests had actually made their way over to the chalkboard by that point, so a few of them never got to participate in the fun. But every shot, no matter how goofy or strangely composed, is like gold. It was totally worth the high price that I had to shell out buying Polaroid film on Ebay (because Polaroid was officially discountinued this year, it's been selling like hotcakes on Ebay). But fear not, future brides, Fuji is planning on making a replacement product in 2010.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And Suddenly You're in Love with Everything

The first photos of our wedding from our totally awesome photographer, Aaron Thompson, are in! Here's a little preview of many more to come.

I'll be posting more along with more details about the reception and great vendors we used, but for the time being, you can see more photos on Aaron's blog.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vendor Recap: Ipod DJ

Because so many things happened at the reception, I didn't think a play-by-play would work as it did for the ceremony. Rather, I'll be going item by item, or vendor by vendor. And I've been reluctant to start doing any more recaps until I get the "official" photos back, because I figure that if I'm going to be describing the details of the event, those descriptions should be accompanied by photos.

So I figured I'd kick off more recaps by talking about something that will not be aided by any photos: reception music.

Back when we started planning, we knew we would not be hiring someone to play music at our wedding. From day one of the engagement, we had a giant sheet of butcher paper hanging up our kitchen where we could jot down notes about which songs we would like to play at the party. We spent months adding to the list, JT sequenced and edited them on Itunes (equalizing the volume on each song, making sure all transitions between songs flowed, etc.), and then we loaded the two playlists (one that comprised the cocktail hour and lunch, and one for dancing) onto two Ipods (his, plus his brother's as a back-up in case something went wrong).

A few weeks before the wedding, JT sent me this link in an email:

I thought it was so freaking funny that I made a note that I wanted to go back and blog about it after the wedding. I wanted to wait until after the wedding just so that I could be certain that having an Ipod as our DJ did not, in fact, ruin our wedding. And it didn't. That said, it didn't go perfectly.

There was basically one real problem with the Ipod DJ set up: the restaurant's speakers weren't capable of playing the music loud enough for every song to be heard over our friends and family that were boisterously, and loudly, enjoying themselves. I find it funny that they have music playing every night over hundreds of diners, yet our two families together were louder than all of that. And the soundsystem, which our Ipod was plugged directly into, carried throughout the entire restaurant except for the one corner that we had chosen as the dance floor. This was clearly our bad. This could have been easily rectified with a rented PA system. We just didn't think we'd need it. It really wasn't a big deal though -- most of the songs were heard reasonably clearly.

As far as the cues go, the above video would lead you to believe that a missed cue is the end of the entire world. Believe me, it's not. When we were getting ready to do our first dance, we announced it to our guests and hit 'play' on the dance playlist. The first song was actually a buffer song, meant to give the guests enough time to get up from the dining room and make their way to the dance floor. It ended up being more time than we needed, and we spent a minute or so just waiting for the song to end so we could start our first dance. This was NOT a problem. In fact, it was kind of cute, because some of our guests starting "counting down" to the start of our first dance.

The best part about the Ipod DJ set up is that you have complete creative control. If you want something louder, you can turn it up. If you want to play something again, you can. If you want to pause for toasts, you can. And since you created the playlist and know what's on it, you can use certain songs to cue your activities, so you know that when Ed Harcourt* comes on, it's time to cut the cake without even having to check your watch.

In summary, having an Ipod as my DJ did not, as the video would warn, ruin my wedding. Frankly, paying some cheesy DJ play a song that a family member requested even though I specifically didn't want to hear it would have ruined my wedding. Having to listen to his inane babble in between songs ("this one's for all the laaaddiieees...") would have ruined my wedding. And having to pay someone hundreds of dollars for that would have made it even worse.

*Yes, I will post the whole playlist in the coming days. I know you are dying to know!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ceremony, Part II

JT's sister and brother

We made a lot of budget-friendly decisions, but hiring a string trio probably wouldn't be considered one of them. That said, it was a fantastic decision. Francesca at Caprice Strings was super easy to work with, and having two contemporary songs arranged especially for the ceremony made everything so much more meaningful. As we all took our places to begin walking down the aisle, I was feel good...smiling and excited. Then Caprice Strings began playing Badly Drawn Boy's "The Shining," and by the third note, I couldn't hold back the tears. Walking down the aisle, hearing that song, and seeing all of our friends and family gathered around, I'm pretty sure I was teared up all the way to the altar.

My sister and JT's brother

When I joined JT at the front, David (or friend/officiant) casually said "how you doing?" To which I replied, "I'm already crying!" Interestingly, once we got going, I mostly maintained my composure and was able to get through the rest of the ceremony relatively tear free.

We began with two readings. The first was Corinthians. Neither Jeff nor I practice any religion, but our families do, and this was incorporated to honor them. And to honor my family specifically, it was read by my grandfather in French (did I mention that my family is French?). He began by saying that he would read Corinthians 13 in French, just as it had been read to him and my grandmother at their wedding nearly 60 years ago. People commented all day on how beautiful and moving it was. The next reading was a Native American blessing read by JT's mother, which she picked out. Here, again, the tears started to flow. As she began, she got very choked up, which in turn got everyone else very choked up.

For our vows, JT and I worked on crafting our own based on literature. We reviewed several books of "wedding friendly" literary quotes, selected a few that really spoke to us, and crafted those words into vows that David spoke, having us repeat them to each other. It was absolutely perfect, having our vows say exactly what we wanted to express but exchanged in a traditional way. The vow exchange even prompted a few laughs, as David read off a rather long line, and I got halfway through before stopping and asking him to prompt me. Think of President Obama and Justice Roberts doing the Presidential oath. It was a little like that, and frankly, it was kind of a nice way to lighten the tension.

After exchanging rings and the, as David would say, "ceremonial exchange of cooties," we turned and headed back down the aisle to Caprice Strings playing "Summer is Coming" by Matt Pond PA. Amazing.

A little funny side note from the ceremony: Our adorable flower girls (my sister's daughter and JT's sister's two girls) apparently were having difficulty figuring out how many petals to throw and exactly when to throw them, so when they got up to the end of the aisle, JT's brother-in-law said something to the effect of "make sure you use up all the flowers." So the three of them then stood at the end of the aisle emptying their baskets. I wish I could have seen it, because everyone said it was incredibly cute.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm Baaaack...

JT and I made it back from our fabulous honeymoon yesterday evening. We spent today getting reoriented into the regular world -- doing laundry, going to the bank, grocery shopping, all very glamorous stuff. Although we did start out the day by opening our remaining wedding presents. Since we had spent the 20 hours traveling the day before, we fell asleep at 9 p.m. and were up pretty early this morning. Opening presents while having breakfast felt kind of like Christmas.

During the days immediately before and after the wedding, I kept thinking "I should write down notes about all the things I want to remember and share on the blog." And of course, I never did. So I'll try my best to recap what I do remember...which is a lot.

We'll start this evening with a recap of the wedding morning and a bit of the ceremony. Then, in the coming days, I'll share the reception and break down the vendors and their roles as well.

Ceremony, Part I

The morning of the wedding, I woke up promptly a few minutes before the alarm would have gone off. I slept amazingly well -- I had been expecting that I'd be staring at the ceiling all night, too nervous to sleep. Not the case. I felt wonderfully rested. I put on some coffee, set out some bagels for the ladies that would be joining me shortly, and turned on the stereo. At 7:30, my hair stylist, Heather (who has been cutting my hair for the last 5 years), arrived at the house. My sister joined us a bit later, and the makeup artist (Catrina, from Laura Mercier) arrived just as Heather was finishing up. The plan was that I would be done with my makeup at 10:30, slip into my dress and head over to the Marston House at 10:45 to meet JT for our "first look." Remembering the wedding-morning chaos from when I was a bridesmaid at my sister's wedding, where everything was running about an hour behind schedule and people were constantly busting into her prep room with questions and problems, I was prepared to be similarly running late. But at 10 a.m., my makeup and hair were done, and my sis and I were hanging out, chatting leisurely and enjoying our quiet morning together.

Aaron arrived at the house to get a few shots just as we were about to get dressed, and after slipping on our gowns, my sister and I headed out into the vintage limo right on time. Here's me arriving at the Marston House (since Aaron's pro photos won't be ready for a bit, I'm sharing with you some of those taken by our friend Spencer):

After I quickly grabbed my bouquet from Carla at Che Bella, Aaron led me down the side of the Marston House to where JT was waiting for me. While our family and friends finished setting up the ceremony site, JT and I sneaked off with Aaron for our portraits. Words cannot describe how much fun this was. Standing with JT in Balboa Park, both of us wearing these fancy outfits that we had selected months ago, just staring in awe at each other while Aaron led us around the park...amazing.

Meanwhile, here's how things were shaping up in the garden. See all the flower strands dangling over the fountain? My sister made all of those! The were a last minute addition, but they added SO much to the beauty of the "altar." I'm so glad that we added them and so grateful to my sister for making them.

Our drink station looked so cute...I'm not sure if people actually drank anything, and I hear that the water pitcher's seal didn't work and eventually it had to be taken down, but it still looked cute.

At 11:30, right on time, we were all ready to get started and took our places around the corner from the garden. Check back tomorrow for the rest of the ceremony recap!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Best. Party. Ever.

We did it! We're a couple of married folks now! The wedding was...perfect. Seriously. I kept expecting things to go wrong, and nothing did. At least, nothing that anyone noticed other than me.

We're already getting lots of great photos back from our friends and family, so I'll have plenty to share with you in the coming weeks. But tomorrow, we jet off to Barcelona, so I'll be absent for a little bit, enjoying some quality honeymoon time.

In the meantime, please enjoy this photo taken by our good friend Spencer Tuck. I think it sums it all up nicely.

P.S. Sorry for all the typos in the last couple of posts. I think my mind was elsewhere :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

'Twas the Night Before...

In 13 hours, I'll be walking down the aisle. It feels totally surreal. I'm nervous and excited and so many more things...mostly thrilled at seeing all my friends and family and how happy they are to be celebrating with us.

Right now, I'm enjoying a bit of zen-Candice time, at home all by myself. I know most people would think it's a little odd to want to spend the night before the wedding all alone, but having a little quite time after a very, very busy week is pretty nice. Over the past week, there have been last minute clitches, many of which I will share with you after the big day (though a few things cropped up that gave me momentary panic attacks, they're actually kind of funny. They'll be even funnier one day looking back). There's been lots of crafting, a small amount of crying, and a ton of laughing. And eating. Here are a few moments from the past 2 days:

I can't believe how quickly the last 9 months have gone by! See you on the other side!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Five Days to Go...

The purpose of this post is not for me to complain about how much I feel like I still have to do before this Saturday. Or that I feel like everything is going by WAY too fast. Or that my to-do list keeps getting longer instead of shorter. Or that I'm worried that my skin will break out or my dress won't zip up. Or that there are, of course, crazy last minute glitches that I was really, really not prepared for. It's really not about that, I swear.

This post is a public reminder to myself to enjoy the next four days. And to help keep focused on that goal, here's a picture from Sunday's wedding shower (that's right, I said "wedding" shower and not bridal, because it was a shower for both me and JT. Contrary to popular belief, a wedding also involves a groom). The shower was a wonderful moment of just enjoying and not worrying. I give you JT and our friend/officiant David cracking up at....something.

Thanks to Spencer Tuck for capturing this and many other great moments. I highly recommend making friends with people that are talented behind a camera. You will reap many rewards.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Readers Choice, Part Two

Earlier today, I got a fantastic comment from blog reader Lysa who wrote on the post Hair Raising Accessories, "post pic of rehearsal dress if you have time (which you won't, but post anyway!)" She's right on the money -- with tomorrow marking 10-days-to-go, I'm not going to have much time, but I am going to try to keep posting, as much as I can, in those 10 days. My posts probably won't consist of those planning/vendor-related stories that I've tried to populate this blog with in order to make it the most helpful to other San Diego brides. Instead, my posts between now and the wedding will probably consist of quick snapshots (sometimes literally) of how I've been spending my time. And the good news is that I'll have LOTS of great material for post-wedding posting after we get back from the honeymoon, since there will be plenty of pictures to share along with stories and vendor recaps.

In my post Wigging Out, I asked readers to weigh in on my sister's hair (or rather lack of hair) fashion dilemma. Now it's my turn. No, not for the wedding itself, but for the rehearsal dinner. You saw my previous post about trying to incorporate some sort of veil-inspired hair accessory. Well, here's the dress I purchased over the weekend (sort of):

I couldn't find a picture online of the exact dress, but this one is from the same line and is very similar. The one I got is a brighter blue (more blue-green, less blue-gray) and doesn't have spaghetti straps (it's more of a high scoop neck tank), which I think makes it look a little less casual. But you get the general idea. Something else important to keep in mind is that I'll be wearing black shoes, because that's pretty much all I own. Most likely a pair of wedge heels with ankle straps. Very cute together, but will a little veil work with this ensemble? Will it be overkill? Or will it be just elaborate enough? I've only got a couple of days to decide, so revisit the previous post and share your fashion input!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hair Raising Accessories

Yes, it has indeed been almost a week since my last post. We're just shy of two weeks away from the wedding. My job has gone from relatively calm to pure insanity for the remaining two weeks, so between that and the last minute wedding tasks and the first family members arriving on the 30th, I suspect I won't have much time for blogging. I can also feel pretty good saying that there's not really that much left to blog about, because everything's pretty much settled. Now it's just a matter of implementation.

What hasn't been settled? My rehearsal dinner ensemble! JT and I went shopping last weekend, and I didn't find any dresses that struck my fancy. I'm still hoping to find something that will go with a veil-inspired hair accessory, too. In the meantime, here are some more awesome Etsy finds, with just a hint of "bride."

Hems & Bustles has several headbands with small veils attached.

And check out this dainty little headband from Quirky Beauty!

This headband from Brenda's Bridal Veils makes much more of a statement, but it's so darn cute.

I'll try shopping for a dress again this weekend. Wish me better luck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wigging Out

My sister is having a wedding fashion crisis. A cancer-related wedding fashion crisis.

When JT and I first got engaged and set our wedding date, my sister was enjoying a wonderful cancer-free period, even sporting a pretty good head of regrown hair. It was early this summer that we learned her cancer had returned and it was back to chemo she went. No one anticipated that she would be attending the wedding bald.

Frankly, I'm simply happy to have her at the wedding, regardless of the condition of her hair. She can walk down the aisle in all her bald glory as far as I'm concerned. Few people make bald look as good as my sister can. But not wanting her baldness to be the center of attention, we dicussed some options. Perhaps a cool scarf, with a flower pinned to it. Wigs, after all, are uncomfortable, itchy and hot.

But as the day draws closer, she thinks maybe a wig is the way to go after all. A wig provides more possibilities for hair accessories, since it's pretty hard to attach a feathery fascinator without any hair.

Here's where you come in! Help my sister figure out which way to go. Here's a picture of her at another wedding, fully wigged:

And here she is sporting the scarf look:

What do you think? I was partial to the scarf idea, and I think I know why -- to me, my sister wearing a wig looks like a different person. But my sister wearing a scarf still looks like my sister. Of course, I can totally understand feeling like a scarf won't quite cut it on the wedding day and wanting to do something more formal, more elaborate. No matter what, I want her to pick something that makes her feel comfortable.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Welcome to Our Little Corner of the World

I've gone back and forth about the whole idea of guest welcome baskets several times. At first, I was all excited about the idea of making them. I remembered the weddings I'd been to, and thought that the welcome baskets I'd received as an out of town guest checking into my hotel made me feel way more appreciated than any little favor handed out at the reception. Thinking about ways to cut costs, I thought "I'll skip the favors and just do welcome baskets."

As time went on, JT and I decided on doing some sort of favors after all (actually, we made a charitable donation in lieu of favors). And guest welcome baskets seemed like a waste of money. We're on a pretty tight budget, and expenses kept cropping up like weeds. As we shopped around, we realized that putting together little baskets would set us back way more than we anticipated. Would a little basket in someone's room really make that big of a difference?

Ultimately, I thought it would. We are really fortunate that a lot of our friends and family are flying in from different corners of the country to be here. It may have been an expense, but I think it will be a nice way to say a small "thanks for coming."

So what's in the baskets? I won't tell you everything, because I don't want to spoil the surprise completely for those that will receive them, but you can see a few items here. Our cat, Banjo, was "helping" us put them together over the weekend.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ready for the first dance?

JT and I are ready for ours...well, almost! We've been practicing, and it's getting pretty good. A few more times, and we'll have our first dance down cold.

If you're thinking of learning to dance for your wedding (or for anyone else's), I've got a great tip for you: UCSD recreation classes. Ballroom dance lessons have never been cheap. And I imagine with the popularity of shows like Dancing with the Stars, ballroom studios are probably taking the opportunity to clean up. JT and I had sporadically taken dance lessons in the past. A waltz lesson with our friends when they were getting married, a few tango classes just for kicks. I remembered how expensive those tango classes were -- about $10 per person, per lesson. When JT and I talked about taking more serious lessons for the wedding, I started searching. All the ballroom studios charged at least as much as we had paid previously, some even $12 per person per class. And that was just for the group classes. Plenty of studios are touting their "wedding package" that includes a few private lessons for a few hundred dollars.

So I cranked up my internet sleuthing and found a few free and low cost options. The Balboa Park Dancers offer low cost lessons, and the Vintage Social Dancers offer free lessons in the park as well. The problem with these classes, though, was that classes are usually once a month (not great if you are a beginner and need more regular practice) and are taught by volunteers. No offense to the volunteers, but their instruction wasn't really cutting it for us. Then, by total accident, I stumbled across the UCSD recreation class schedule, and the answer was staring me right in the face: Beginning Ballroom Dance for Couples.

The beauty of this class is that it's taught by a professional dancer and there's no partner switching. Ideal for wedding couples. Also, the class focuses on a different style each week. You'll start out learning East Coast Swing one week, then salsa the next week and foxtrot the week after that. Sounds like a lot to take in, but we found that the more styles we learned, the easier it was to pick up on new ones. And the best part is the price: the sign up fee is $42 per person (if you are a UCSD student, only $32). For 8 weeks of classes, that comes out to about $5 per person. Half the price of a studio, but with the same caliber of instruction!

*Photo by Aaron Thompson

Friday, October 9, 2009

Everyday I Write the Book

My sister has been full of great tips and suggestions when it comes to planning the wedding, but one of the best tips she gave me had to do with the infamous wedding binder. All of you brides out there know you have one -- that binder full of contracts, emails, and pages torn out of magazines. My sister had one when she planned her wedding. So what was her advice? Don't just put all of your wedding documents and inspiration into a plain plastic binder. Put it into some sort of scrapbook, and instantly the tool becomes an album that you can enjoy long after the wedding is done.

I found a generic black faux-leather scrapbook at Michael's, one that has a binding that can be opened up so that you can add and rearrange pages. The pages also have plastic cover sheets. I guess the purpose of these would be to protect your scrapbook pages, but more importantly, those plastic covers were the perfect pockets in which to stick the important wedding related paperwork. I divided it up into sections (ceremony, flowers, fashion, etc.) and began gluing pictures found online and in magazines to the pages. Once the contracts started coming in, they got tucked into the plastic pockets on the adjoining pages, nestled in between design inspiration.

I bought a fancy green pen, and sometimes I even scrawl ideas directly on the pages. And in the very front of the book, I glued in a checklist pulled from Real Simple Weddings and thrill at checking things off that list. It's become like a cell phone or or a security blanket -- something I simply can't be without for very long.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Frock the Casbah

The attire for the wedding party ladies was finally wrapped up today. I know most people get that taken care of right off the bat, but we like to do things a little differently here at Casa Fight the Fondant. Well, putting off getting the dresses for the ladies wasn't really something that anyone wanted to do -- it mostly got sidetracked because of cancer. But things are going swimmingly at the moment, and while we had a loose idea of what all the ladies would be wearing, we finalized everything today. Woo hoo!

The adult ladies were asked to choose a J Crew dress in "Bright Alpine" taffeta. JT's sister, my bridesmaid, chose the Clementine. It looks fab on her!

My sister and matron of honor chose the Lorelei. I love that they chose two different styles because at first I thought they'd end up picking the same dress (not that that would have been bad, but different is fun).

A quick note for anyone thinking of getting J Crew bridesmaids dresses having only seen them online: order some fabric swatches! Initially, from browsing online, I liked the "Clover" green, which is available in cotton and chiffon. I thought the Bright Alpine looked too foresty. But the pictures above are not really accurate. In person, and especially in the sun, the Alpine looks much closer to the moss green that I am basing our wedding decor on. And the Clover looked downright lime!

Interestingly, the hardest part about dressing the ladies of the bridal party has been coming up with something for the youngest ladies, the flower girls, to wear (and there's 3 flower girls!). Finding something that is cute, affordable, and fits in the color scheme is practically impossible. JT's sister found some great green dresses, but they ended up being much too dark when placed next to the J Crew dresses, and it looked off. My sis found a dress that her daughter would enjoy wearing, but since JT's sis's girls are a bit older, it wasn't really up their alley. The solution? Let everyone's girls just be themselves! JT's sister's girls are wearing white dresses they had from a previous wedding updated with adorable green sashes courtesy of JT's mom. It's budget friendly, and the girls will be comfortable, which is what's most important. My sis's daughter is going with this creation by Etsy vendor Sweet Plume:

Though the three girls won't be wearing exactly the same thing, I think they will all complement each other perfectly. It's amazing to see these things coming together, because I'm continually surprised at how what seemed imperfect at first (like not having a handle on what all the girls were wearing) now feels absolutely perfect.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'll Be Wrapped Around Your Finger

I'm not the only one with a special ring now -- JT's got his wedding band! Though he isn't wearing his everyday just yet (for the record, I'm not getting a separate band. I just plan on having one ring, which I am already wearing everyday).

When shopping for JT's band, we set out to find a jeweler that made palladium rings. We wanted something less pricey than platinum, but titanium had too many potential pitfalls, the biggest one being that it can never be resized. So if it doesn't fit just right or you gain/lose any weight, you're just left with a tiny paperweight.

We checked out a few Etsy sellers, but didn't find much in the way of palladium. Then I remembered the awesome jeweler that made my friend Laura's engagement ring: Bario Neal. Not only are their designs unique, but their business practices are ethical to boot. Bonus points. And sure enough, they make several of their commitment bands in palladium. JT chose the Milla in the hammered finish. It's hard to see the texture in the photo I took because I don't have a macro lens that can capture the detail that close, so here is a picture from Bario Neal's website that better shows the hammering texture.

The one problem with ordering from an online vendor that you can't visit in person is sizing. JT and I went to several different major mall chain jewelers to get him sized. And of course, when we went there, each one told us something to the effect of "well, our sizes are specific to our brands, so they won't be the same if you go with someone else." He did end up getting some variance in the results...but I also just think that they were trying to get a sale out of us. At one of the stores, we feigned interest and looked at a few of their rings. Unbelievably, we found one very similar to the one he had picked out on Bario Neal's website, palladium with a hammered finish. For exactly TWICE the price. So, for double the money, I could feel good knowing that I had NO idea how this metal was mined AND be supporting a major retail chain? Uh, no thanks. I'll stick with the awesome indie vendors, thank you. Plus, when you purchase a ring from Bario Neal, it comes in this awesome (and handmade) box.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Well...Have You Sent Yours Yet?

Once out in the world, our RSVPs started steadily pouring in, between 2 to 4 each day for the past 10 days. I suppose the natural progression is to get a lot right away, then nothing for a while, then many more right around the RSVP deadline. Since we didn't have any in the mail yesterday or today, I think we've hit that mid-point lull.

This is our RSVP card clothesline. Is your card hanging there? Don't assume "Oh, they know I'm coming, so I don't need to send it!" Even if we know you'll be there, we still want your beautiful response gracing this line, so drop it in the mail! We've only received about 30 responses from the nearly 100 people that we've invited, so send yours in and you can feel good knowing that you are helping alleviate my fears that no one will come!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Update

Now begins the crunch -- just 40 days to go! Both JT and I knew that after this past week, it was gonna be nothing but appointments and errands, so we had scheduled this weekend to be filled with only fun stuff. Like a sailing trip around San Diego Bay with JT's parents. Little did I know that much more had been planned for me.

My two friends at work had warned me about a special surprise on Saturday, though they gave me very little indication of what that surprise would be. They simply told me to be ready at my house at 11 a.m., at which point they picked me up and whisked me away for an afternoon at the spa! It was pretty darn awesome, and exactly what I needed after a stressful summer. After a massage, a eucalyptus steam, and some poolside cocktails, they dropped me off at home.

But the fun didn't end there. Later that night, JT and I showed up for what I thought was going to be quiet night at our friends' house only to find a surprise party waiting for me. While the guys hung out at home, the girls whisked me out the door and down the street to Lips, a drag dinner theater in North Park. Much hilarity ensued. I told my friend Laura that she could take pictures so long as they didn't end up on the internet. Of course, here I am now sharing a few with you...but only a few.

I'm not a big fan of they got me a really tiny one!

These shots tasted terrible, by the way.

Come Sunday, we hit the seas with JT's folks for a gorgeous sail around the bay. After all the excitement of the previous day, it was a fantastic way to finish off the weekend. to the races! Figuratively, of course, since racing season is over.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Which I Publically Vent My Fears

Six weeks this Saturday -- that's how long we have until the big day. With it so close, I'm starting to get overwhelmed by fear. Not of marriage or any of that, but of the many things that could go wrong. My biggest fear was that my sister wouldn't be able to attend my wedding. Now that it seems that won't be the case (thankfully!), my brain is being held hostage by lots of tiny little fears. So in the interest "maybe if I share them, they won't happen," here's my current list of wedding fears:

-No one will come.
-Those who do come won't have a good time.
-The Ipod or PA won't work at the reception.
-The chairs or flowers or cake or whatever won't be set up on time.
-Our wedding party or families won't be ready on time.
-I won't be ready on time.
-We'll forget some small but important detail, like chalk for the chalkboards.
-It will be really hot on the day of the wedding (interestingly, I am less concerned about rain. I find rain to be fun).
-Our "first look" won't get timed right and will be spoiled.
-We won't get the processional cues right with the musicians.
-There won't be enough room to dance at the reception.
-There will be so many pre-wedding activities during the week that by the time Saturday rolls around, I'll be really exhausted.
-I won't be able to properly pack for the honeymoon, because I won't have any time to do laundry and won't have any clean clothes to pack (yes, I'm serious!).

And the biggest one weighing on me right now: my dress, which is already very tight, will not zip up. Or will be so tight that I'll be majorly uncomfortable all day.

There's probably more, but for now, let's deal with the dress. I'm picking it up on Saturday from the seamstress. Think good zipper thoughts for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hey, Let's Cross the Sea

A few years ago, JT and I made a pact that we would take one trip out of the country every year. It started with France. The next year, since France had been a pretty pricey trip, we played it a little closer to home and went to Canada. Last year, we went to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles.

For our honeymoon, we're hitting up two countries in one trip: Spain and France. We'll be spending 4 days in Barcelona and 3 days in Cannes. The combination of cities basically came from indecision about what kind of honeymoon we wanted to have: did we want a cosmopolitan, urban honeymoon filled with shopping and fine dining, or did we want a relaxing beachside week? I'd never thought of myself as a beach vacation kind of girl, and I'm generally not the kind of person that can lie around doing nothing for very long, but Curacao changed my mind. We had a fantastic time, and I realized that I do enjoy beach vacations...just not the tequila fueled Cabo Spring-Breaky kind.

Usually, for our out of the country excursions, I like to come up with loose itineraries. I don't want every minute planned, but I like to come up with general outlines of what I'd like to see (and eat!). Barcelona obviously has no shortage of great food options. Since I don't speak any Spanish, I'm a little nervous about looking like a giant idiot trying to get around. Especially because I prefer to hit up the un-touristy restaurants where menus are unlikely to have English translations. And eating is one of the most important parts of the trip -- in case you didn't already know, I'm a major foodie.

While I'll probably have a good list of restaurants and attractions to hit while in Barcelona, I'm keeping the schedule for Cannes very unstructured. The Cannes half of the week is meant to be the decompression time. Just wandering wherever the day takes us, and sitting by the beach whenever it's not too cold.

Man, I am really looking forward to this. Time to get some new luggage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Makeup Dilemma Finally Solved

The third time was definitely the charm.

The first time was too dramatic. The second was too natural. I was really holding out hope that my third makeup trial would leave me with an easy decision about whether or not to do my makeup myself, and it did.

When I got to the counter, the makeup area was buzzing with people. It was Saturday, and there were plenty of people shopping, not to mention other brides getting their wedding makeup done at the surrounding counters. One woman at a neighboring counter was wearing a rhinestoned "Bride" tank top and had a tiara in her hair.

While the first artist I tried at Laura Mercier was talented, she didn't do onsite makeup and recommended her colleague Catrina. As Catrina worked, she told me about how she will only work with brides that are relaxed and aren't giving off a "stressed" vibe. She patiently worked with me, creating a look that I thought was a perfect balance between that old-school glamor and natural. I was really, really happy with the result. It was the look I wanted, and executed much better than I could do myself. What sealed the deal? A reasonable rate to boot.

I had also done my hair trial earlier that day (like my feathers?), so the look you're seeing is pretty darn close to my look for the big day.

Across the way, the princess bride was finishing her appointment when a passerby asked her if she was getting ready to go to the prom. Catrina whispered "I would never want to be mistaken for going to the prom on my wedding day!" And I knew she was the artist for me.

By the way, a big thanks to my good friend Laura Coburn for being my personal photojournalist documenting the process with these beautiful shots!