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.