Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Relinquishing Control

The newly engaged woman usually dips her toe into wedding planning waters with excitement.  She's soon knee deep though, with to-do lists showing hundreds of past due tasks awaiting her on wedding planning websites and shelves of binders and organizers waiting for her at the bookstore.  Everywhere she looks, there are subtle and not-so-subtle messages that she's supposed to be controlling every detail associated with her wedding.

I have definitely been of the "control everything" mindset for months now, but during my last meeting with floral designers Pat Roberts and Sherry Spencer of Pat's Floral Design, I turned a big corner.  I realized that I hired these talented, creative, thoughtful women and I totally trusted them.  I didn't feel the need to discuss every petal and stem that would be part of our wedding.  I felt completely at ease relinquishing control. 

We were finalizing my flower proposal at this meeting.  The tables at our reception will have a mix of large arrangements and ones that will consist of a few items clustered together.  As Sherry rotated vessels in and out of a mock up of the cluster arrangement, I remember feeling like they had really explored a slew of options and I didn't have to worry too much about this anymore.  They knew my favorite elements (peonies, silver brunia berries, and dusty miller).  They knew my color scheme. I voiced a few opinions, but knew that Pat and Sherry would take care of this for me and put together beautiful arrangements.

I'm not sure if everyone feels this way, but realizing that I fully trust these highly competent women to design beautiful flowers for our wedding has my focus shifting.  Instead of fixating on controlling every little detail, I've stated to focus on the big picture.  We're getting married!  The day doesn't hinge on the exactly perfect color of peony (though it sure is fun to look at pretty peonies).  When the day is done, if we are married and our guests enjoyed themselves, it will have been a successful day. 

Who knew that a meeting about flowers could bring about such a dramatic change in perspective?  I'm so thankful to Pat and Sherry for getting me to this point.

Was there a time in your planning when you stopped worrying about details and started looking at the big picture?  Did you have an especially wonderful vendor who helped you with that?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More Menu Planning With the Carnivore and the Vegetarian

The last time I talked about menu planning, we were working out a menu for our rehearsal dinner at my meat loving fiance's favorite new restaurant.  We recently revisited menu planning when we had our testing at our venue, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards.

With a farm-to-table philosophy, the Pippin Hill menu is seasonal, so we knew we'd be putting this part of our planning off until a couple months before our wedding.  When the Spring menu came out, we pored over nine pages of options to pick our tasting menu.  We'd taste seven hors d'oeuvres, two salads, and two entrees to select five hors d'oeuvres for cocktail hour, one salad, and one or two entrees.  We had a lot of trouble narrowing down all the options, but ultimately would up with this tasting menu:

Marc, Marc's mother and I were joined by Whitney and Kelly from Pippin Hill for our tasting.  Forgive me, but I was so caught up in the amazing food that I didn't snap a single picture of what we ate.  Kelly emailed me some pictures of the tasting portions of our salads and entrees.  These are much smaller servings that what our guests will get.
The hors d'oeurvres were are fantastic, but we ultimately cut the grilled prawn and croque monsieur off the menu.  We liked both of them, but thought the lobster roll and friend oyster were great options for the seafood lovers.  The croque was fantastic, but we'll have another croque at our rehearsal dinner and wanted a little variety.  The big surprise was the goat cheese lollipop.  I didn't expect to like it, but I absolutely loved it!  The stuffed baby potato came with a little dab of crème fraîche and they'll add a dribble of caviar on the big day.  It seems simple, but that tiny bite was wonderful.

For the salad course, we were choosing between a watercress salad with fruit, nuts, and ash covered cheese and an heirloom tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella.

 Photos by Kelly Knox of Pippin Hill Farm

I personally love heirloom tomatoes, but Marc isn't a huge fan, so while I wanted the second salad, I thought the first would be the winner.  Surprisingly, I loved the first salad more!  The cheese from Caromont Farm was amazing.  I found myself really hoping that I get to eat at the wedding.  Marc and his mother liked both and didn't seem to favor one over the other.  I think we're going with the watercress.

Next, we had to taste the entrees.  We were fairly certain we were going to offer a choice of beef or salmon. 

 Photos by Kelly Knox of Pippin Hill Farm

As the vegetarian (really pescetarian), I was only really interested in the salmon.  I gave Marc the tenderloin off the meat plate and ate the rest (truffle potato fondue, grilled asparagus, and heirloom beets with oyster mushrooms).  I thought it was great.  Everyone cleaned their salmon plates, though.  When I read the menu, I wasn't sure about the buttered leeks that came under the salmon, but they were delicious, as were the balsamic tomatoes and grilled asparagus on that plate.  Marc and his mom raved about the salmon dish.  They both said they'd be ordering the salmon.

We decided to still offer both the meat and salmon options, but Marc said he's going to strongly recommend the salmon to his meat loving friends

I left our tasting very surprised, but pleased, by the outcome!

Was anyone else surprised by how their menu turned out? 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting Professional Help

Way back when we first got engaged, I considered hiring a wedding planner. I was worried about how much time I'd have to devote to planning between business travel in the fall and my busy season at work in the winter and spring.  I spoke with a number of coordinators in the area about full or partial planning, but realized that I didn't necessarily want to hand the reigns over to someone else during this process.

Like many other brides, I decided to look for a Day of Coordinator.  The advanced planning would be fun, but I wanted someone to take over at the end.   I want to make sure our contracts are executed properly, that we stay relatively close to our yet-to-be-determined timeline, and that both our guests and vendors are taken care of properly.  In a nutshell, I wanted someone to tend to the details on the big day so I can relax and enjoy the hours leading up to the walk down the aisle.

As I met with "day of" coordinators (DOCs), I realized that I was most attracted to those who exuded a sense of calm.  Obviously, being assertive is a characteristic that all coordinators have, but not all put out a soothing vibe.  While I try to be laid back much of the time, I definitely have bouts of worrying and I knew that having a calm, even keeled coordinator would be a blessing for me on our wedding day.  This realization led me to Amanda Gray of Ashley Baber Weddings.

Besides having the personality that seems perfectly cut out for coordinating events, Amanda also offered open communication between the time when I signed a contact with her and the wedding.  She also offered three planning meetings, at intervals of my choosing, during the planning period.  This didn't seem to be standard.  Many DOCs offer services during the week or month leading up to a wedding, but I felt Amanda's contract was the most generous when it came to time. 

 Photo by Allegra's Studio

My business trips and busy season haven't given me much time for planning meetings, but I don't think a week goes by without emails, tweets, or Facebook messages bouncing back and forth between me and Amanda.  I also know that she's keeping an eye on my blogging.  I feel as though she's been alongside me during this planning process and will be ready to take over when the big day is here.

Photo by Elisa Bricker of Elisa B Photography / Posted with permission

Did you hire a Day of Coordinator?  What characteristics or personality type did you look for?  How did it work out?
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Shoppnig for the Little White Dress

Hive, I don't think I have adequately conveyed how much I love Mink Mink, Marc's niece and our flower girl.  She is one of the sweetest, cutest, charming little girls I have ever met.  I'm tempted to tell you a dozen stories about times she's had us howling with laughter or delighted us with her thoughtfulness.  She's only four years old and I'm already imagining what an amazing person she is going to be.

Two weeks ago, Marc's mother, sister, and I went shopping for a dress for Marc's mother to wear for the wedding.  Marc's sister brought around her two children, who are both going to be part of the wedding party.  The Minis were complete angels during the shopping trip, possibly due to the entertainment provided by the ipad.  When we finished, with two outfits purchased for Marc's mother, we headed home.  There was a bridal shop on the way and we decided to stop in for a quick visit to see if there were any flower girl dresses for Mini Mink to wear.

It's prom season here, so the shop was full of teenagers looking at party dresses.  A sales person showed us to the flower girl dresses in the back of the store and I quickly picked out two that I thought would work with our colors.  Mini Mink made a beeline for the jewelry as we headed for the dressing room and declared that she'd also like to wear earrings and a tiara.  At four years old, she is already quite a little shopper.

We put the first dress on her and she clasped her hands over her heart in delight.  It was adorable, but not the kind of dress I wanted for her.

Mini Mink didn't really like the dress after a few minutes and decided to slip it off...while we were in front of the huge mirrors along with the prom shoppers.  That was an interesting moment.

The second dress was more like what I had imaged for Mink Mink.  It was cream, had some pouf, and the cutest little ruffles on the cap sleeve and hem.  When Mini Mink saw herself in the mirrors, she started dancing.  The pictures I have of her were taken mid bops and twirls.  The sight of her doing this with the teenagers trying to be sophisticated in their slinky dresses nearby was hilarious. By the way, what in the world has happened to prom dresses?  High slits, plunging necklines, and almost no back coverage seemed to be the standard.

Back to the dancing Mini Mink, the dress was a tad expensive for the materials (just over $150 for polyester), so I suggested that we keep looking to see if we could find something else.  We got Mini Mink dressed and she suddenly burst into tears.  I thought she was tired, but through her sobs she said "I want to take it hooooome.  I felt like a princess!"  My heart almost broke in two.  We explained that even if the dress was perfect, this was the kind of store where you can't take things home right away.  Poor thing.  She was asleep as soon as she was in the car.

I made a second attempt at finding a dress for Mini Mink last weekend, when I headed to my favorite source for special occasion dresses, the stores run by the J. Crew headquarters in Lynchburg, VA.  There were plenty of flower girl dresses at the store that day, but only one that was ivory and looked like it would fit Mini Mink.  It was a sample dress and didn't have a size, so I held it up against other dresses in Mini Mink's size and was pretty sure it would fit.  I decided that the price ($40 for a silk taffeta dress from the higher end "Collection" line that J. Crew makes) was worth the risk.

Once I got home, I added a sash using the grosgrain ribbon that I used on some of my DIY projects and sent some pictures to Marc's mother and sister.

This was all coming together so easily!  Too easily, it turns out.  The dress is too big.  Mink Mink liked it, but I think it was hard for her to love it because it didn't fit properly.

Now, we have a decision to make.  Do we take this dress to a seamstress to fix it or do we tuck it away for Mini Mink to grow into and continue searching for a dress?
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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Evolution of the Guestbook

Guestbook alternatives have become pretty common in recent years.  It seems downright rare to sign your name in a book of simple, lined pages these days.  Many brides make their own books with images in them.  Some have guests write on cards or slips of paper that are hung on a tree or deposited in a special box.  Many have guests write on a matte or poster.  Posters of trees on which guests leave their thumbprints have taken the wedding world by storm lately.  There seem to be so many creative takes on the guestbook.

When I thought about our guestbook, I didn't really want an actual book.  I saw a poster in an old issue of Martha Stewart Weddings that I really liked, but its colors weren't right for our wedding.  I searched Etsy for guestbook posters and stumbled upon this one by AmerpandInk Designs:

Do you know what really sold me on this idea?  The dog.  The listing said the design could be customized and after staring at the image for a few days, I took the leap and made my purchase.  I didn't expect the amount of customization that Tasha Montgomery, the artist behind AmpersandInk, would do for me.  She asked for pictures of me and Marc as well as any elements that we'd want on our certificate. I made a little Picasa album with some of the images I've shared on past posts to give her an idea of our style and what our venue looked like.

About a week later, we had a first draft and a few decisions to make about the placement of the main element, the granary at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards.  I was delighted by the beautiful flower border that Tasha drew based on our wedding monogram and the little cartoon Minks. 

We decided that we liked the granary off to the side.  Tasha suggested that we put something on the other side of the image to provide balance and I sent her pictures of the vineyard part of Pippin Hill to be her inspiration.  I also asked her to add the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background, which were a huge part of our decision to get married at Pippin Hill.  The second draft arrived and suggestions went back and forth to get to our third draft.

Tasha didn't love the tree on the third draft and asked if there was a tree that might be "very Virginia" that could be used instead.  My first thought was the magnolia tree, but those are pretty huge.  I was coming up blank and showed the draft to a colleague who instantly said we should use a dogwood.  Of course!  Dogwood trees are hugely popular in my area.  We even have a Dogwood Festival each year!

As I looked at the draft, I started thinking that the Pippin Hill granary was looking a little sad over on the right.  That's when local photographer Jen Fariello posted some beautiful images from a winter wedding at the venue.

Pat Roberts and Sherry Spencer from Pat's Floral Designs (who happen to be my florists!), had put up some gorgeous wreaths at Pippin Hill for the holiday season.  I loved them so much that I emailed one of Jen's images to Tasha right away and asked if she could incorporate the wreaths into her design.

The final proof arrived last week and I was giddy over how beautifully it came out.  I sent a quick tweet asking for some recommendations for local printers and my photographer's husband responded that they liked to use T&N Printing.  I rushed down to the shop where a nice man named Ken showed me paper options.  He had the poster printed within minutes and even gave me a second copy for free.

Are you ready?  Here's the final copy:
(names are edited, of course)

Seeing Baxter on the bottom makes my heart almost burst with excitement.  I'm so happy with how this came out and am so thankful that Tasha was willing to go through multiple drafts with me to arrive at the final design.

What do you think of non-traditional guest books?  Have you seen any in person at weddings?  How were they received?
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Sneak Peek Into Invitation Assembly

Weddingbee tradition seems to dictate keeping invitations a secret on the blog until guests have seen them.  I can't wait to tell you all about my invitations and how I got them, but I don't want to spoil the surprise for our guests and post them here.  However, I do want to share two tips that have made the assembly of our invitations a little easier.

As you may remember, we send our envelopes to Elizabeth Bartucci of Tuccicursive, who did a beautiful job addressing them.  Once they came back, I decided to put all of our envelope liners in place.  I figured that breaking up the invitation assembly into smaller parts would make it a little less tedious.

We ordered our liners, but they can obviously be made with scrapbook paper or wrapping paper.  I think many people use glue sticks to secure their liners, but sometimes glue causes paper to wrinkle or bubble a little bit.  Instead of glue, I used adhesive that rolls off tape.  I found this little tool in the scrapbook section of the craft store and love it!  I think it's officially called a "tape runner."  In the picture below, you can see the sheen of the adhesive on the back of the envelope liner.  It's not wet at all, so the paper won't wrinkle once the pieces are secured in place.

Labeling RSVP cards has become the norm these days.  Once upon a time, people knew exactly what to do when they saw a "M_________________________" on an RSVP card.  Perhaps there are just fewer occasions that require a formal RSVP these days and people have forgotten what that line is for?  There are always comments on the Weddingbee boards about RSVP cards coming back without any names on them.

The simple solution to this problem is the number the backs of the RSVP cards.  In recent years, many brides have used invisible ink pens for this so a guest isn't aware that they are number 62 on the guest list.

I looked for invisible ink pens locally, but couldn't find them.  Ordering online seemed like the only option available, but I wasn't too excited about yet another purchase of an item that would be used once.  I decided on a very simple, inexpensive alternative.  I lifted one of the side flaps of the RSVP envelopes and very faintly penciled in numbers that correspond to the rows on our invitation spreadsheet.  If anyone forgets to put their name on their RSVP, I'll just peek inside the envelope to figure out whose card I have.

Look closely! There's a 39 ther

Did you think of any inexpensive alternatives to common wedding practices?
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Monday, March 12, 2012

New Traditions

While I love bridal fashion, I don't particularly like shopping for other kinds of clothes.  I have always been much more excited about paint, fabric, and furniture than about fashion.  The idea of shopping for a rehearsal dinner dress was not appealing.

 I originally thought I'd wear one of the dresses I bought for myself during the big J. Crew sale where I got my bridesmaids' dresses.  Alas, I hadn't yet heard that brides-to-be wear white dresses to rehearsal dinners.  I don't think this is a hard and fast rule, but it definitely seems like a fairly common practice.

I can only think of one attending one rehearsal dinner where the bride wore white, so I thought I'd brush off what might be a new tradition.  But the idea grew on me.  I started to think that it was kind of sweet that brides were embracing white dresses beyond the wedding day. 

I didn't have the time to do extensive shopping during my busy season at work, so I looked for a rehearsal dinner dress online. I guess I did something pretty predictable to those who have followed my posts: I looked for white dresses on the J. Crew website.  It's the one company whose clothes I can buy without trying them on.  Most of the short, white dresses they had were casual, but one creamy, beige dress caught my eye.  White is an odd color for some of us with super pale skin, so the redheaded model wearing the dress made me think "sweet almond" would work out for me. 

The dress came in two days (hooray for living near the J. Crew headquarters!).  I have the same dress in two other fabrics, so I knew it would be flattering, but I wasn't sure about the color.  It's definitely not white, but I think it'll work.

Have you noticed more brides wearing white at their rehearsal dinners?  Do you think this is a new tradition?
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Friday, March 9, 2012

Dressing the Men

Three posts about clothing and accessories in a week?  This is quite a change for Small & Chic.  Rest assured, the wedding is 84 days away and after that, I'll be back to talking about design.  I'll be sharing info about the 2012 Charlottesville Design House soon, too!  This year's house is fascinating!

With all the projects and blog reading I've done in recent months, you'd think that I would have a strong opinion about how Marc and his groomsmen dress.  Back when we first got engaged and started talking generally about our wedding, I told Marc that I was fine with him wearing a suit, if that's what he wanted.  I actually imagined the men in tan suits and the picture in my mind was quite nice!  Marc surprised me and said that he wanted to wear a tuxedo.

While we watched CBS Sunday Morning's piece on the origin of the tuxedo or dinner jacket on the morning of the Oscars, I was reminded that it was time for Marc to make some concrete decisions.

Buying a tuxedo made no sense, since one doesn't have many occasions to which to wear formal attire in the craft beer world, so we headed to Men's Warehouse to look at tuxedo rental options.  There are other places to rent a formal wear in our area, but Men's Warehouse was the only one that seemed to have most of their options available in the store.  I didn't think Marc would be comfortable ordering out of a book.

Though we made an appointment, we walked into a very busy store and had to wait a while to work with a consultant.  As we waited, I exhausted my limited knowledge of tuxedos by showing Mr. Mink notched and shawl collars and flipping through vest options.   

When the consultant came over to work with us, Marc surprised me by pointing at the first tuxedo we saw, the one on the mannequin, and said "I like this one."

I looked at it more closely and I liked it, too. The striking feature was the lack of shine.  The lapels were a different texture than the rest of the jacket, but they weren't that smooth, shiny satin that is typically used on tuxedo collars.  The stripe on the pant was the same way.  It was there, but not shiny.  Not bad, Marc.  Not bad at all.

I had a moment when I realized whose name was on the label...

Is there anything Vera Wang can't do?  Let's take stock of how she has expanded her brand.  She started with her couture wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and ready-to-wear collections, but now she has the David's Bridal wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, shoes, perfume, jewelry (she just debuted a line for Khols), formal china, crystal stemware, casual clothing (Kohls), luggage, flowers (through FTD), bedding, stationary, glasses/sunglasses, and now tuxedos.  My goodness, the woman is busy!  She's come a long way since I first heard about her when she designed Nancy Kerrigan's skating costumes in the early 1990s.

Well, thank you, Vera.  I think Marc's tuxedo is going to look fabulous.

Back to the tuxedo shopping.  Marc had no idea there were so many decisions to make after selecting his tux.  I thought it was sweet that he looked at me each time the consultant asked for a preference on something, but I encouraged Marc to make the decisions.  After a decision about shirts and vests, he rolled through picking a bow tie, shirt studs, shoes, and delivery options.

Marc has been enthusiastic about every other part of planning, but he wasn't looking forward to picking a tuxedo.  I think our consultant made it relatively painless.  We were out of the store within an hour.

What part of wedding planning did your fiance(e) enjoy the least?  Was there one task that wasn't as tedious as expected?
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

From Jane By Design...

I'm watching an episode of ABC Family's Jane By Design On Demand right now.  They're designing a royal wedding gown and the first dress is Reem Acra's Begonia.  It's an $11,000+ gown and the sample was selling for $650 at a charity bridal shop last summer.

I'm pretty sure the final gown they design is another of Reem's gowns, the Olivia Wilde.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Project to Keep the Little Ones Happy

When I think of all the cute kids that are going to be in our wedding, my heart swells.  I seriously love all those little munchkins and wish I could be in the audience at my own wedding just to see them walk down the aisle.

I've tried to be mindful about letting the members of our bridal party be who they are and not insisting that they conform to a strict look or standard.  After all, we've asked them to have a special position at our wedding because we love who they are.  That extends to the ring bearers and flower girl, who I'll call the Minis.  I have a feeling that the Minis will enjoy sharing the spotlight during our ceremony, but I'm not sure they'll love the entire reception.  When I think of children at wedding receptions, I often thing of a scene that looks like bit like this:

This might be one of my favorite wedding photos ever! Do you see the shoes? / Photo by Caroline & Ben Photography

Realizing that the Minis might not make it through a multiple course dinner, I decided to make them activity bags.  My hope is that these will provide a little entertainment before the dancing starts at our reception.

This DIY project was so easy.  It only took a couple hours to make a stack of bags.  If you only have one or two to make, you could have this done in an hour.

Supply list
  • Canvas tote bags
  • Iron transfer paper
  • Scissors
  • Iron
I've become a huge fan of iron transfer paper due to all of my wedding DIY projects.  It's probably most commonly used with t-shirts, but it has allowed me to get our wedding monogram on a range of materials.  I've learned that there is a difference in quality out there and spending a few extra dollars on the more expensive iron transfer paper is worth it.

First off, I ironed each canvas bag, which had been packaged folded up.  It's probably best to use steam at this point, but when ironing the designs onto the bags, you aren't supposed to use steam, so empty the water from the iron when you're done.

I printed the design out on the iron transfer paper, but flipped text.  Just like when I made flags for my ring bearers, I used my teeniest pair of scissors to cut out the floral design. It only took a couple episodes of Downton Abbey on Netflicks to get them all done.

I put the different parts of the design in place and ironed over them for about a minute.  With the more expensive transfer paper, was I able to peel the backing off right away.  With the less expensive paper, I had to wait until the bag was completely cool before peeling.  They both suggest you wait for the best results.

Violà! I loved personalized things when I was a child (perhaps because my name isn't common) and I hope the Minis like seeing their names on their tote bags.

Of course, we have to put some fun things inside the tote bags to keep all of the Minis entertained!  We had some fun shopping for the contents.  We wound up buying some wedding coloring books, packs of stickers, mini maracas, harmonicas, Match Box cars for the boys, and little LED lights that can be worn as rings. We replaced the crayons that came with the coloring books with larger packs of washable crayons and we'll add packs of glow stick bracelets a little closer to our wedding date.  We were thinking of putting some healthy snacks in the bags as well, but we'll probably consult a few of the parents before we do that.

I have to admit that we played with the LED rings...and might buy more

Did you have children at your wedding?  What parts of the wedding entertained them?  Did they make it through the whole reception?
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Monday, March 5, 2012

A Little Sparkle (A Discussion of Decision Fatigue)

You may remember that I started looking for wedding shoes before I started shopping for my wedding gown. Making appointments at bridal salons seemed like a big step and looking at shoes online seemed like a good way to ease myself into thinking about my bridal "look."  I didn't mention that at the same time, I was also looking at a lot of jewelry.

I knew that I wouldn't buy any jewelry until I had my dress, but it didn't hurt to look at options, right?  As I gathered inspiration pictures, I found myself gravitating towards statement necklaces.

Necklace from Dillard's / From Style Me Pretty / Photo by Aruna B. Photography

Big, beautiful necklaces are so popular right now.  I haven't seen a single one that I don't love.  From the bib necklace to chunky pearls to necklaces with color, I think all statement necklaces on brides look fantastic.  This is one trendy item that I don't think I'll tired of seeing.

I started assuming that I'd wear the simple, diamond stud earrings that I wear every day on my wedding day and find the most amazing statement necklace to be my main piece of jewelry on by big day.  Even before I had a color scheme in mind for our wedding, I was thinking of wearing a necklace that had color. 

Anyone who is on the back half of the wedding planning journey is probably chuckling at my making this decision before I tried on a single dress.  Weeks later, I won my wedding gown and was flown to Charleston to pick it up at the Maddison Row bridal salon.  About two minutes after I had my dress on, shop manager Lindsay and Wedding Row/Smitten Magazine editor Della MacNickolas commented that my dress was a "no necklace" dress.

I agreed with them, especially since I like to wear my hair down.  An ornate bodice with my mop of red hair (I have a lot of hair) and a statement necklace would probably look very fussy. We decided some sparkle on my wrist and ears would probably look best.

Shopping for jewelry isn't something I do often.  As I mentioned above, I wear the same earrings every day.  Marc has given me jewelry over the years.  I immediately started to worry about earrings and made a few impulse purchases as a result.

 An email from Saks about a big jewelry sale sent me to their website and I showed a few options to my Maid of Honor, who is a bit of a jewelry collector.  The options I liked best:

 My MOH suggested I eliminate one pair and order the other two, knowing that I could return one or both if they didn't work out.  She was pulling for the pair on the far right, but I was worried about how large they were and thought the pair on the far left was best.  I ordered those two and showed them both to my MOH when they arrived.  We agreed that both were beautiful, but the ones on the right looked a little more special.  I sent the pair on the left back.  Lesson learned: trust my MOH with jewelry decisions.

That should have been the end of the earring discussion, but I worried that the sterling silver on the pair I kept didn't go well with the creamy ivory color of my dress.  I was also a little uncomfortable with how heavy they were.  I know many people wear earrings that are far bigger and heavier, going from wearing a pair of studs every day to one of those is a bit of a change for me!

I started to look at sparkly, gold, button style earrings at this point. I found so many fantastic options. My three favorites were from Kate Spade and J. Crew.  The J. Crew earrings sold out online almost immediately after they came out, so when I saw them at a brick and mortar store, I snapped them up.

Now I had two pairs of earrings that were very different. I was a year away from my wedding, so I decided to just tuck both pairs away and revisit my jewelry closer to the wedding.  A few months later, around the time that most other brides would have been thinking about jewelry, one of my aunts generously offered to loan me some of her jewelry as my "something borrowed."  Clearly, it'd be exciting to wear something with some family history.  I thought I'd go home for the holidays and we'd have some fun looking at the options, but my busy season at work kept me in Virginia this year.

I'm closer to the big day now, but I am avoiding thinking about jewelry entirely. Is this the start of the decision fatigue that strikes many brides?  We make so many decisions throughout the planning process that at some point, we don't want to deal with certain details.  My dream scenario right now is that someone will hand me some jewelry as I'm getting ready and the decision will be made.

Have you dealt with decision fatigue?  What aspect of your wedding did it affect and how did you deal with it?
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Monogram Inspiration

I've gotten some lovely comments about our wedding "monogram" on posts in which I've used it. I think it's about time that I give credit where it's do and share the sources of inspiration for the design that I put on the corn hole boards and ring bearer flags that we'll be using at our wedding.

Some of you probably recognized the bottom of the design right away.  I took that from a free, downloadable design that's available on The Wedding Chicks website.  The colors weren't quite right for our wedding's color scheme, but that wasn't a major concern. I loved the banner and the flowers on either side of it.

This wasn't the direction in which I originally went, though.  I initially wanted to use the exactly same design that is on our wedding invitations on all of these items.  I wrote to Alethea and Ruth, who created the invitation design, to ask for permission.  Rachel Simonson, half of the Alethea and Ruth team, quickly replied that she was flattered that I liked her work and was fine with my using it elsewhere, but she unfortunately didn't own the rights to it anymore.  Her designs are offered through and they owned it.  I had had wonderful interactions with Minted while ordering our invitations, so I emailed them to explain what I wanted to do. A few people told me this was silly, that Minted wouldn't care if I lifted a design to use on something they don't even sell, but I wanted to be a good blogger and make sure I had their blessing.

Well, I never got a reply to my email.  Figuring they were pretty busy folks, I emailed Minted again.  I never heard back.  I have since had still more wonderful interactions with Minted staff, so I'm still a big fan of the company.  However, during the wait for a response to a third email, I got nervous and started to look for alternatives.  That's how I arrived at The Wedding Chicks design.

The design on The Wedding Chicks was nice, but I wanted a more substantial wreath of flowers around our monogram.  I found almost exactly what I wanted on a Minted blog post about Alethea and Ruth's creative process.

If those sketches came out of your fingers, wouldn't you be thrilled?  The floral wreath at the bottom of the sketch pictures on the post was calling my name!  It was far too ornate for me to copy with my limited abilities, but I went through the sketches and the final designs and lifted a few flowers here and there.

Love! / Image from's blog

With some cutting and pasting, I put together a Frankenstein image to use in my DIY projects, thanks to The Wedding Chicks and the team at Alethea and Ruth. 

What were your favorite places to find inspiration for your DIY projects?
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Shower Free Bride

Back when I asked my bridesmaids to be in our wedding party, I told them that I simply wanted them to show up, wear a pretty dress, and have a great time at our wedding.  I didn't want them planning a bridal shower or bachelorette party for me.

While I love a good party and can admire beautiful images from bridal showers on event blogs like everyone else, I had a few reasons for not wanting those events for myself.

Event styling by Amy Atlas Events / From OnceWed 

First of all, I didn't want being a bridesmaid to be full of obligatory duties.  While I have loved being a bridesmaid in the past, there were times when the roll seemed to come with a fairly lengthy list of chores.

My bridesmaids are busy women with active lives.  All are married, one is a stay at home mom, and the other two have jobs that require a bit of travel.  My Maid of Honor is a colleague, so I'm well aware of the demands on her schedule.  I put myself in my bridesmaids' shoes and decided that planning a shower would be a bit of a burden and be logistically difficult since only one lives in Charlottesville. Once our wedding is over, I want my bridesmaids to look back on their role fondly, not be relieved that they're done with it.

The other reason that I didn't want showers or a bachelorette party is that I don't feel like I have time for them.  I think back to how life seemed for friends who got married years ago and I'm a little jealous. They seemed to be pretty focused on their weddings.  While I'm obviously paying a lot of attention to our wedding as a Weddingbee blogger, the wedding is not my top priority right now. At this time of year, I work pretty crazy hours and I fit wedding projects in on weekends, after I've gotten some work done.  I can't imagine pushing my work off to attend a shower during my busy season. 

Event styling by Amber Karson Events / Photo from Hostess With the Mostess
There are times when I feel like I'm running a marathon and the only respite will come when we pass through security at the airport, on the way to our honeymoon. I'm enjoying the planning process, but I definitely wish my plate wasn't as full so I had a little more time to enjoy myself.

Is anyone else juggling a demanding job and wedding planning?  How are you prioritizing?  Did you forgo a shower or bachelorette party because of your schedule?
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