Thursday, December 29, 2011

How we found our wedding photographer in a pizza shop

I never attempted to write about our photographer before.  I think I digest thousands of photos each evening, as I flip through the posts from my favorite blogs.  With my feet in two blogging worlds, wedding and design, I'm keeping track of hundreds of feeds with my blog reader.  I love photography. Photography is so important to me that I felt like a post about it deserved a lot of my time.  Having taken a few days off around the holidays, I now feel as though I can write about this aspect of our wedding.

You'd think that someone who loves photography would have launched an exhaustive search of portfolios, interviewed a dozen photographers, and created an elaborate assessment tool before picking a vendor.  I like to say that I made up my mind in a pizza parlor...but it's not entirely true.

In the winter of 2010, some people Marc knows opened a pizza shop in Charlottesville.  When we visited for the first time, I was struck by their choice to make the interior very modern since most pizza places attempt an old world look.  The shop had a wall covered in steel panels that immediately occurred to me as something cool to photograph or to use as a backdrop for a photo shoot.  The next time we visited, a photographer showed up with a couple and started doing a maternity shoot against that wall.  I remember thinking that if that photographer also saw something appealing in that steel wall, I had to see more of her work.

Did an image from a maternity session sell me on a photographer?  Not really.  However, it led me to start watching her blog and the blogs of other local photographers to get a sense of the different styles out there. I quickly realized that Charlottesville has an amazing community of photographers.  Marc knew a few personally and we would later get to know a few more through friends.  The options were fantastic, but that's not always a good thing if you appreciate different styles.  I started to fear that it could take us months to find a photographer for our wedding.

I found myself going back to the blog of the photographer I saw at the pizza shop again and again.  Her name is Elisa Bricker.  Elisa and her husband, Edward, run Elisa B Photography.

Recognize the location of this video? / Video by Josh Gooden of Josh Gooden Cinematography

Elisa and I met at a coffee shop during the busy season in my industry, which means I was probably a bit chatty after working in solitude for too many days in a row.  We had a fun conversation about blogs and shoes and flowers and other things that I don't remember right now.  I remember thinking that I wouldn't mind having Elisa by my side on the most important day of my life.  I liked that she worked with her husband, so a second shooter wouldn't by a mystery.   I also liked that she was tech savvy and involved in social media.

 About a week after our coffee shop meeting, we signed a contact and gave Elisa a deposit.  We could have drawn the process out for weeks or months, but I decided to trust my instinct and resist the urge to mount an elaborate search.  I'm so happy with our decision.

Did anyone else simply trust their instinct when it came to one of their wedding vendors in lieu of doing a thorough search of all the options?
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More fun with fabric (my framed table numbers)

Before we started wedding planning, I had two speeds when it came to DIY projects: full speed or full stop.  I almost never chipped away at a project slowly.  I did it all or I didn't do it.  When it came to making our table numbers, I went full speed and got them done...three different times.

I mentioned my first project when I talked about my table number inspiration pictures.  I made clay plaques to use as numbers and I didn't like them.  The second round was with Ikea Tolsby frames, which seem to have become a staple of wedding DIYers.  I liked the frames, but they didn't really go with our wedding's style.  Finally, I decided to use this Style Me Pretty picture as inspiration for my third and final attempt at table numbers:

I love fabric.  I knew I could find a fabric that worked with our colors if I searched long enough.  I looked locally, I looked while I was on a business trip, and I looked online.  I found plenty of possibilities, but one fabric stood out among the thousands of swatches I saw.  It was a Robert Allen for Dwell Studio fabric that I saw at Calico Corners.  While the colors weren't right, the feel of the fabric was.

Vintage Plumes by Robert Allen in the Birch colorwa

 After looking around, I realized that it came in a blue colorway, but Calico Corners didn't have that in stock.  I took the sample home with me and decided that it would be perfect for a few wedding projects.  The $70 per yard price, on the other hand, was not perfect.

A quick check online showed that most online fabric stores were selling the fabric for around $56 per yard.  While this is an okay price for upholstery fabric, it's not great for something that's going to be used in crafts.  I debated for a few days while I looked for other options.  Nothing compared.  I ordered two precious yards.  When it arrived, I unrolled the fabric and couldn't help starting at it for a while.  Isn't it pretty?

Vintage Plumes by Robert Allen in the Jade colorwa

My next task was to find some nice, but relatively inexpensive frames.  I imagined wood frames with a weathered, silver finish looking great with my fabric.  Stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls had plenty of frames, but couldn't find too many multiples of the ones I liked.  Michael's and Hobby Lobby had a few possibilities, but nothing jumped off the shelf at me.

On a whim, I went into a craft store called Ben Franklin while in Richmond one evening a couple weeks ago.  I remember there being a Ben Franklin in a neighboring town when I was growing up, but the store had closed long ago.  A staff member told me that they originated in Richmond, VA and only operate seven stores now, all of which are in Virginia.  As luck would have it, they had the perfect frames.  The price on them was so low that I had to ask if it was correct.

 I had thought I'd spend about $10 per frame originally and I wound up spending just over $12 for all ten frames! 

Next I had to pick a paint color for the wooden numbers that would be mounted on my Robert Allen fabric and framed in my $1.20 frames.  Marc was a champ as I debated colors in the paint aisle at the craft store.  He didn't see a difference between the two colors I decided to test.  I thought there was a clear winner.  I painted each number, then sprayed them all with a matte, acrylic top coat. 

The paint on the right won

Assembling all the pieces was my favorite part.  The weave of my fabric wasn't tight, so I flipped the frame liner and glued it to the back of the frame so black wouldn't show through in the end.   I cut ten, 4x6 rectangles of my precious fabric and used a Mod Podge to mount them on the back of each picture frame. Mod Podge has a formula specifically for fabrics, but I used a jar of the basic kind that I had on hand and that worked just fine.

I let the glue and Mod Podge dry for a while, put the frames together, and then glued the painted numbers to the fabric with light, even strokes of hot glue.  Start to finish, the assembly part of this project took about an hour and a half, not counting drying time.

I have to admit that I was almost giddy over how well this project turned out!  This might be my favorite DIY so far!

What have been your favorite DIY projects?
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Creative table numbers

I've been going to weddings for ten years and I have never seen table numbers handled in a creative way.  This might be why I love seeing pictures of interesting ways to present the numbers on wedding blogs.  I knew that I'd be making our table numbers pretty soon into our planning.  I just had to find a favorite idea among all the inspirations pictures on my Pinterest boards.

Marc, who seems to notice more details than the average groom-to-be, couldn't fathom what I meant when I talked about our table numbers.  I think he was also used to just seeing a simple number on a metal stick.  As with all of my DIY projects, he was encouraging and was on board once he saw some pictures.

One idea we nixed was using places, songs, or some other words instead of numbers.  We had been watching an episode of Four Weddings during which the guest brides couldn't find their seats in a large reception room because the tables had names instead of numbers.  Perhaps the words being used were in alphabetical order, but the poor guests seemed lost.

We briefly considered a combination of numbers and pictures.  We thought about staging a photo shoot with Baxter in which he'd have the different numbers on or around him, but we decided that from afar, the numbers probably wouldn't stand out.  We visualized our guests being just like those on the Four Weddings episode.  They'd be wandering around the room, peering at the tables in attempts to figure out which one was theirs.

I made the clay plaques above by following the tutorial on The Sweetest Occasion's blog, but they wound up being the size of a playing card.  That seemed a bit small.  I used white clay, but there wasn't any contrast in color and I again worried about people being able to see the number from afar.

Using chalkboards was a cute idea, but they felt a tad too rustic for the overall feel we were going for with our wedding.  I can be a perfectionist when it comes to projects and I knew I'd want my chalk numbers to be the prettiest ones ever made, which would probably mean freaking out with chalk all over me on the morning of the big day.

From Merrily Wed / Photo by Courtney Aaron

When I found pictures of moss numbers, I was pretty excited.  I already made moss covered letters to use outside, so the little letters could continue the theme.  They were so cute!

When I came across pictures that used patterns, either with fabric or paper, the thoughts of the moss covered letters disappeared.  These were definitely the projects that made me most excited.  I just had to decide which I liked best and how I could mount the numbers in a way that would be clearly visible to guests entering our reception.

Have you seen table numbers displayed in a creative way?  Did you DIY table numbers or are you planning to?  What are you going to do?
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm back...sort of

Since I became a Weddingbee blogger about a month ago, almost every free moment I've had has been dedicated to getting my Miss Mink persona up and running on the site.  Well, at this point, I think I'm in a comfortable rhythm and can get back to updating you all on what's happening at Maison Small & Chic.

During the start-up phase at the Bee, I was a two-posts-per-day blogger, which took quite a bit of time...time I don't necessarily have during my busy season at work.  I'm not longer a newbee and my pace is my own now.  I have a self-imposed pace that mimics the one I had here for the last few years.

If you want to follow me in both places, hit the Weddingbee image above and you'll be taken to my line of posts on the site.  Go to the main Weddingbee site to see the posts from all of the bloggers.

If you are getting married or think that is on the horizon, consider starting a blog and applying to be a Bee when you are 7 months away from your wedding.  I had no idea that becoming a Bee is akin to joining a sorority.  The Bee bloggers are a sorority where creativity and writing skills are the common bond.  I feel so lucky to be part of this amazing group of women.  After just a few weeks, I feel overwhelmed by the support I feel as part of the group. 
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Registry Regret

In October, I spent a few hours at Macy's to create our registry.  I was pretty happy with how it went and felt like Macy's registry page was easy to navigate and simple to use. 

Last week, when Rue La La had some items from my china pattern for sale, I wondered if the pattern was being discontinued.  I quick went to Macy's and saw a bunch of notes that looked like this:

While that screen shot is of a note on my flatware, it was also under every single item on my china list.  I called Waterford right away.  They told me that they didn't discontinue my pattern and that demand actually exceeded the supply.  They couldn't keep it in stock because it's pretty popular.

Macy's decided on it's own to stop carrying the pattern, which is kind of funny in light of how popular it is.  In about 10 minutes time, I moved my entire registry over to Bed, Bath & Beyond.  See ya later, Macy's!

My mother went in to BB&B to buy something off the registry and told me that she found the people in the little wedding office to be very helpful.  She thought the process of buying off the BB&B registry was quick and easy.

Anyone have any great experiences with registries?  How about not-so-great experiences?  I'm curious if Macy's routinely discontinues items despite them being popular. 
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