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.