Archive for March, 2009

Shoes Schmoos

Posted on March 31, 2009. Filed under: the goods |

I almost completely forgot to blog about this, what with the chaos of ripping up our front yard to fix the drainage system and trying to get invites out the door.

I bought shoes!


They’re happy, comfy, and will match my bouquet (um, maybe)… yay!  Oh, yea, and ON SALE.  For less. than. thirty. bucks. including. tax.  Score!  I’ll change into them after traversing the path to our ceremony site (which is now lined with gravel courtesy of my man).

So, that’s the good news.  The bad news is that I left my comfy Cole Haan ballet flats, which I’d planned to wear to and from the ceremony site, on the hood of my SUV and drove off, not noticing the situation until a SHOE FRIGGING FLEW OVER MY WINDSHIELD INTO THE ROAD.  Sigh.  I was running late and the road was busy so I was unable to rescue my shoe.  We shall see if I can tomorrow.

Anyone else done a dumb (shoe -related or otherwise) thing lately?

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Operation Perspective continues…

Posted on March 31, 2009. Filed under: reality |

I just had to share this advice I got from a reader, Jen, who left neither a blog link nor email, but to whom I am indebted.

Due to factors beyond our control, my husband and I had only about two months to plan our wedding — the whole thing! This meant that my dreams — both for a few expensive splurges and for DIY-simple (which can often require more planning/time than the ready-made store-bought things) — all had to bow to The Possible.

What budget-friendly reception venues were still un-booked at this point? I took the first one that offered the time-slot I wanted. What dress under $300 did I fit into without needing alterations? I bought it, although the style wasn’t “perfect”…

This was annoying and upsetting during the planning phase… but ultimately freeing. On the wedding day, I knew I’d done the best I could with the time & money I’d had… and that freed me (usually a such control freak) to let go.

As a result, my personal advice to all my soon-to-be-married friends is: don’t just budget your money… budget the time you let yourself plan. Even if it’s something “cheap” or a “minor detail” giving it too much time will make it expand until it feels like a “big deal.” Save yourself the emotional explosion.


Also, I wanted to address the part about smiling… because, you see, I don’t beam and glow. Ever. In fact, I usually have a deep-in-though expression that others usually interpret as annoyance.

Before the wedding, then, I felt required to practice a nice, glowing smile. It was weird. And it looked phony. And it was depressing. So I finally resolved that my wedding was the one time I would defy the American Smile Standard (which has a three-letter abbreviation to express my feelings about it exactly). Whatever expression happened to be on my face, I would leave it there.

The result? For the first time ever, I saw *me* in a picture! Me with the slightly-serious expression that both my husband and I know is “my look” for peaceful. And thanks to that, anytime I look at a wedding picture I re-capture the feelings I really felt — the happiness, the nervousness, the peace, the stress… all of it — because it’s all still right there on my face.

I treasure my wedding pictures in a way I know I couldn’t if I’d “played the actor” and pasted on a grin.

Sorry so long & hope that helps!

It helped.

I love this response. The reality is that, hard as I try, my mouth will be open in raucous laughter in all of the candids, my eyes will be closed in most of the posed shots, and up until recently, I could have cared less about photos, believing that life is to be lived rather than captured.

Originally, I wanted to get married within three months, knowing myself well enough to know that the more time I had, the more stress I’d invite. In terms of actual wedding planning, I haven’t really exceeded that. Hell, in terms of actual wedding planning, I could have done it all in a month. But, I needed the extra time to be ready emotionally, to be ready to do this joyously.

And what “joyous” looks like in my world — as you reminded me — is not at all what “joyous” looks like in someone else’s. Serene, collected, glowing I am not. Ecstatic, excited, crazy-happy I am.

I love this engagement picture because it captures us perfectly.  He’s sporting some kind of crazy happy excited expression; I’m laughing with my whole body (you can’t see it, but my left leg is cocked and sticking out!).  That’s the point of the photography, after all.  To capture a moment so that you’re reminded — in your soul — when you see it.

Thanks, Jen!  Anyone else getting great advice on keeping your perspective (or have any to offer)?

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On finding perspective

Posted on March 27, 2009. Filed under: reality |

[Note: this is from a few weeks ago.  I did not lose my sh!t twice in two days, though I seem to be careening crazily in that direction.]

I had one of those moments today, moments when you step back from yourself in stunned surprise at the path of your thoughts.  I was standing in front of a smorgasboard of makeup options, trying to decide if I needed a ten-palette eyeshadow or if three was enough, thinking that maybe I should just give in and order that “bridal palette” I saw advertised in a magazine.

What is it about a wedding that suckers you into doing (and thinking!) things that are totally out of character?  Don’t get me wrong, I once owned 90% of the eyeshadow colors sold by Aveda.  I like pretty fancy shimmery pretties just as much as the next girl.  But since those days, I’ve found that I’m just as happy with drugstore products when I bother to wear them.  Case in point: I stopped at Walgreens on the way to our engagement photo shoot and grabbed the first dark brown eyeshadow palette that was on sale, and I was quite happy with it.

For me, the sucker factor is that it’s a special day.  Evidently, spending more money confirms this specialness, if only because nobody wants to worry that they “cheaped out” on the one day they’ll be followed around by a photographer.  The entire wedding industry feeds on our fear of regret.

I’m willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a one-day makeup application, but find myself wondering if we really need a tent (um, yes, chairs in the street without a tent are just… sad).  Thing is, my budget consciousness has never really been about being unwilling to spend money; rather, I want us to spend our money in thoughtful ways.  My savings account is healthy, my parents are willing to contribute, and my future hubby’s credit is nearly perfect.  We pay out of pocket for home renovations on two houses, the care and feeding of seven animals, and my weakness for restaurants.  We could choose to spend close to the national average on our wedding, but while the temptation to do so is great, our determination to keep our perspective on our wedding — as a celebration, not an event — is greater.

As my guy sometimes has to remind me, our fun and enjoyment isn’t dependent on the state of our kitchen remodel (or lack thereof) or whether we spend more on appetizers.  We want our people to remember their joy and laughter and to be touched by our love and happiness.  Perfect centerpieces don’t necessarily contribute to that goal, though they do give me something to worry about other than how to handle having everyone’s eyes on us.

My biggest fear, as it turns out, is that I’ll not quite be ready to bask in the glow of the love of our people.  Have you looked at Mrs. Lovebug’s ceremony pictures lately?  Her smile lights up the planet.  Or how ’bout Mrs. Seabreeze?  Now that woman is H.A.P.P.Y. and it’s obvious.  What if instead of feeling happy, I fidget nervously under the weight of people’s eyes?  What if I take comfort in stress and panic rather than remembering to breathe and enjoy?

I found the pictures from my first wedding this morning, and everyone looked so happy.  It’s been nine years and I’ve lost all three of my grandparents since then, so I was struck by how young they looked.  I remembered them dancing, laughing, enjoying themselves. I’d completely forgotten that all the men wore tuxedos, or that I hated my makeup, or that I wore a sparkly veil and tiara (shut it, it was practically still the 90’s, ok?).

So I’m embarking on Operation Perspective, because it seems that I’ve lost mine.  I’m going to wear my own makeup but find someone to do my hair, stop worrying about the invitations, and let my guy decide on the men’s attire.  As much as I’d like to prove that self-catering can be done, I’m going to bring in a good friend who’s also a caterer.  Thoughtful touches like a cutesy drink menu and silly stories about us don’t cost much.  And I’m going to focus on two projects that I’m simultaneously dreading and excited about: a family tree and our ceremony.

First, though, I’m taking a deep breath, sending my guy a sweet text message, and hugging a dog.  Have you lost (and found) your perspective?

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Because my mom is the best

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: crafty-crafty, Thanks |

So, back before I unsubscribed to wedding inspiration blogs, I saw this on Junebug Weddings:


Oh!  The very first wedding dress I was smitten by, before we were even engaged, was this one (and I can’t find the source to save my life, so if you know it, please speak up!):

manuel2source unknown

Something about that ruffled collar makes me swoon.  So, when I saw the picture in my blog reader, I sent my mom an email that went something like, “Hi, my favoritest dearest mom in the whole world.  Have I told you how much I love you?  Can you make me a shrug like this {the first picture}?  I would try it myself but that seems like a bad thing to attempt for the first time with only two months to go.  Love, your favorite oldest daughter.”

And I kid you not, within fifteen hours (eight of which she spent at work), I got this:

0325092239Forgive the quality of the photo; it was a cell phone picture.  More importantly, HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS MY MOM?  That pretty little shrug was designed, materials sourced and sewn in less than a day.  One. Day.  I can’t even pick out a paint color in a day.  And it’s silk shantung.  *swoon*

Go on, scroll up to the first picture and compare, then come back.  Don’t you wish you had my mama now? (Sorry, had to gloat a bit to make up for all of the times I’ve come here, sad face on, to confess that I suck at something.)

I will share more pictures when I receive it in the mail and commence to dance around my house in it, promise.  I’ll even put on other clothes on first so you don’t have to scream “ARGH!  Put some clothes on!”  In the meantime, there’s a lesson: if you’re willing to ask, you’ll often get responses beyond your wildest dreams.  So maybe inspiration blogs aren’t so bad. 😉

{Oh, yea, and while my mom doesn’t have a shop or store or webfront, she’s usually willing to help a girl out — even if the girl isn’t related to her.  PM me if you have a need that an awesome sew-er can fill.}

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Are blogs (sometimes) bad?

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: reality |

Now, you all know that I think you’re fabulous, you who have given me inspiration, support, friendship, and the knowledge that I am not alone in my Crazy, wedding-related or otherwise.  But I am finding myself losing my sh!t way too often lately, and with two months to go, my guy staged a bit of an intervention.

Background: It’s Wedding Wednesday, and we’ve just finished going through a checklist of “stuff.”  Invites, check.  Guest list, check. RSVP options, check.  I ask if he’s thought about first dance songs, and off we go down the YouTube rabbit hole.  90 minutes later, we have a long list of fun and happy songs for our playlist… and two romantic songs, one of which is totally cheesy.


We’re in bed, in the dark, and I’m sniffling because we’re not romantic, I know, but I thought that for this one day, at least… and on and on.  He’s great, he really is, and the bright side to these “sessions” is that I’m reminded how supportive and sweet he is.  And also that he’ll only be sweet and supportive for so long before he gets annoyed and basically asks me to buck up.


And then, as kindly as he can manage, he suggests that Blogs are Bad.  That I am getting caught up in exactly the kind of stuff I used to scoff at, and that it’s becoming a detriment to our (somewhat precarious*) happiness.  This isn’t the first time he’s said it, but it is the first time I’ve really heard him.  I agree to think about it.

I’m a girl who revels in possibility.  I love to dream, to imagine, to consider the options and opportunities.  Wedding blogs have filled in the gaps, helped me imagine pretty things, and provided me with more than a few ideas for which I get full credit (ha).  I’m also a girl who gets overwhelmed when it’s time to choose something, to commit to one of the many options and then forge confidently ahead.  I melt down.  I know this, and so does everyone who’s ever had to hear me obsess about paint colors or invite designs or the pants I just paid full price for.

The hardest part of wedding planning, for me, is finding a balance between everything I wish I was and everything I can’t help but being.  I wish — oh, how I wish — that I was crafty and had one single shred of design sense (in wedding terms) in my body.  I do not.  I do, however, have an abundance of nerve (hello, tent in the street), creativity and furniture.  And the ability (nee, need) to prioritize.

So, I unsubscribed to every wedding inspiration blog in my reader.  With sixty days to go, it’s time to say adios to inspiration and hola to getting things done.  If I haven’t heard of it, pictured it, or imagined it, it’s no longer a possibility.  I will limit my visual inspiration to the pictures I’ve already saved off to my pc.  Wedding information will be on an as-needed basis, and any and all “pushed” communication is cut off.

As with every project, it’s a little bit sad to realize that everything you’ve dreamed of won’t happen.  The family tree I’d planned probably won’t happen (too much dependence on other people’s willingness to hunt down old pictures for me).  The lovey dovey conversations dreaming about our wedding day definitely won’t happen (we’re just not that kind of couple).  My mental photograph of a bride in a vintage lace dress (I’m too busty for vintage) and a bunch of dressed up people grilling steaks in the late afternoon (too difficult to pull off) won’t happen.

But in a few months, I’ll marry a guy that makes me smile, makes me laugh, and makes me believe that this whole marriage thing is worth the risk and rollercoaster.  If he thinks that my Crazy is being exacerbated by the bazillion blog entries I read in a day, I will trust that he is trying to look out for me.  And I will unsubscribe.

Um, except for Weddingbee and A Practical Wedding.  I’m feeling totally justified because those are about the experience of planning a wedding, not the details of said wedding.  Or so I’m telling myself.

Your turn.  Have you hit a Blogs Are Bad point in your wedding planning?

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Two months and counting… a status update

Posted on March 25, 2009. Filed under: reality |

I’m guessing that many of you prefer the posts where I pour my heart out in honesty and angst (it’s ok, I think I might prefer those too) while others are curious about this whole at-home wedding thing I’m planning.  I’m hoping that my posts over the next few months will go in both directions, but lately my brain is all about the task list, so bear with me if you’re in the first camp.  I will be back to soul searching shortly.

As of today, we have (oh, gawd, I just checked) sixty days.  Exactly.  Excuse me while I have a heart attack and find some booze, probably not in that order.

Okay, I’m back. I’m going to show you my to-do list so that a) you can commiserate with me, b) you might notice something you’ve forgotten on your own to-do list, and c) you can see what having an at-home wedding might be like and make an informed decision about whether that’s the right thing for you.  After we survive our wedding, I’ll do a Lessons Learned post just for at-home weddings.

Here’s what I have done:

  • (Finally) Finished the design for our invites.  It’s nothing spectacular, but I like it.  I will share it soon. Check.
  • Confirmed that we do in fact have someone to marry us, on the right day, at the right time.  Check.
  • Written my vows. Check.
  • Thought about our ceremony and the elements I would like to include. Half-check (for thinking and not yet doing).
  • Decided on attire for groomsmen and dads (more on that soon). Check.
  • Found a dress for our junior bridesmaid, my tween niece (more on that soon).  Check (thanks, Mom).
  • Purchased the components of the cake platters (more on that soon).  Half-check.
  • Put together miscellaneous printed stuff (recipes, menu descriptions, etc). Half-check.
  • Decided to print pictures of our guests to go with their thank you notes. Half-check.  Alternate plan: use the same graphic from our invites on the outer envelope.
  • (Mostly) Hired a caterer. Half-check.
  • Dropped off my wedding band to be sized.  Discovered that it cannot be engraved (boo, hiss).  Must discuss with my guy. Half-check.
  • Decided to hell with it on the makeup drama.  I will use the makeup I already have, applied with a slightly heavier hand and set with powder, and will worry about it for not one minute more. Half-check (because I know I will continue to obsess over this one).
  • Ordered my groom’s suit (again, more on this soon). Check.
  • Started to compile a list of songs we like.  Oh, and I’m really excited about this: my brother has agreed to play guitar and sing for our ceremony.

Here’s what I have to do, in no particular order:

  • Print, assemble and mail invitations.
  • Tent layout (anyone have a strong recommendation for a particular software?) of tables, food, music, etc.
  • Send my little bro a playlist, both for the ceremony and reception music.
  • Write the ceremony.
  • Build cake platters.
  • Print miscellaneous printed items.
  • Write guest gratitude notes.
  • Buy a bra (yes, bad girl, haven’t done that).
  • Schedule a fitting… and find someone with whom to have said fitting.
  • Buy shoes (but I know which ones I want!)
  • Find a hair stylist.
  • We need to pick a first dance song and ceremony music, book our honeymoon, and reconfirm the guest list.  Ah, yes, and write the ceremony.

Oh, yea, and let’s not forget:

  • Paint the living room (yes, again).
  • Paint the kitchen.
  • Paint the kitchen cabinets.
  • Finish landscaping the front yard (ie: beautify the area we just destroyed when we — okay, he — dug a trench, laid new drainage pipe, and covered it all up with gravel).
  • Paint the porch.
  • Paint the garage door.
  • Plant the garden (not wedding-related, exactly).
  • Spread gravel down the trail to ceremony site.
  • Create various somewhat smart alecky signs for the trail to the ceremony site.
  • Plant clover on ceremony site.
  • Paint guest “quarter’s” (the 1600 square foot completely finished basement area – bedroom, bathroom, living area, kitchen).

If you’ve read this far, I think we can consider ourselves bff’s, because that was a long and very boring list. 🙂  And if you’re wondering what happened after my last meltdown (I think it was about invites), I will say that I just decided to not give a rat’s *ss about anything that I didn’t care about.  Duh, right?  If it’s on my list and I don’t get around to it because it doesn’t excite me, so be it.  Either someone will swoop in and save me (if it’s that important) or we’ll live without it.  I can only be me, even if I am playing a bride for a while.

And what excites me is furniture and house stuff so wait until I show you my latest projects!  I figure they’re wedding-related by virtue of the fact that we’re getting married here, right?

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Always a bright side…

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: the goal |

I’ve been an Eeyore lately, all doom and gloom about… everything.  Chalk it up to having two months to go before our big day, but I’m feeling panic, denial, and a complete lack of motivation in equal amounts.  With 60-ish days to go, I don’t feel like we’ve accomplished enough, will ever accomplish enough, or even want to accomplish enough!

After much mulling and pondering, though, I’ve remembered that sometimes (usually!) it’s all about the attitude.  It’s so surprisingly easy to forget who you are as you plan a wedding, to lose sight of your priorities and preferences, to revel in the stress because at least that’s an acceptable feeling for a bride.

And me, I’m a “bright side” kind of person.  At least, I am when I’m not making backup plans for worst-case scenarios.

Situation: My guy worked all weekend on a side gig that took up way more time than expected.  After a long and somewhat frantic Sunday, we’re still feeling behind and unrested.

Bright side: He’s feeling good about his ability to make extra money (good money!) and the usefulness of his skills.  I remembered that I need plenty of alone time to be a settled, sane person.  And I’m proud of him.  It may be a bit retro, but I know he can take care of our family if necessary.

Situation: I haven’t finalized our wedding invitations.  They’re close, but still not quite right.

Bright side: Possibilities! Endless possibilities still abound! And I have the opportunity to decide on something that really feels right and “us.”

Situation: I haven’t ordered a bra, and thus, haven’t scheduled a fitting for my dress.  I have found the shoes I will wear, but haven’t purchased them.

Bright side: Good reason to spend some time shopping online.

Situation: We haven’t done much with the trail or ceremony site.

Bright side: We know what we’re going to do and we still have time.  Plus, the greener things get, the less sad and messy they look.  We may pretend that we really did plan a “messy is natural” type of look. 🙂

Situation: The living room paint color isn’t quite right… after three different attempts.

Bright side: Painting is a great upper body workout!  If I ever lose my job, I can probably find work as a painter…?  The paint chip drawer has just about every color by every paint manufacturer; no need to go get them anymore!

Situation: So. Many. Details.  And they’re multiplying like bunnies (or mosquitos)!

Bright side: Never a dull moment.  My brain is nice and busy all the time.

There will be more installments of “there’s always a bright side” as we approach our big day.  Your turn: what’s your bright side today?

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Let’s talk about budgets again

Posted on March 18, 2009. Filed under: reality |

I’ve been very honest and direct about a) my cheapness (which I prefer to call financial efficiency), b) my desire to keep our wedding from turning into an “event,” and c) the tininess (extremeness?) of our budget.  What I haven’t been up front about is whether or not that tiny budget is really by necessity.

In terms of salaries, we do pretty well.  In fact, together we make more than our parents, most of our friends, and most people in general.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we aren’t rich (by either political party’s definition!), but we do pretty well.

Do you think our tiny budget is less charming and more tightwad now?  I sometimes wonder if we have some unspoken obligation to our friends and family to spend more on our wedding.  It’s one thing to ask people for help in lieu of hiring a vendor because that’s your only option; it’s another to do it because you just don’t want to spend the money on something you can collectively do yourselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we don’t have piles of cash laying around or anything.  Our expenses are pretty significant at this point — two houses both under renovation suck up the bucks, let me tell you.  We’re also remedying a bit of debt we were carrying on credit cards and paying vet bills.  So while our incomes are good, our net worth isn’t that great.

In the end, though, expenses are a choice and income is a blessing.  Do we have an obligation or expectation to spend more because we can?

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Quick and easy Save the Dates

Posted on March 17, 2009. Filed under: the goods |

Back before I started obsessing over fonts and stressing over text, I threw together our Save the Dates in about 10 minutes.  They’re not the most amazing, unusual, surprising or unbelievable Save the Dates, but they are cute and they were quick.  And cheap.


That’s the front, created by adding a single line of text to one of our engagement pictures.

stdbackblurredAnd here’s the back.

I used VistaPrint and am very happy with the quality and price.  I signed up for their email specials, and while they do spam you a bit (Daily emails?  C’mon!), you can dig through them all to find the best deal when you’re ready to order.  I only paid for shipping.  Yup, I got 100 full color postcards for $12.00!

So there you go.  You can, if you so desire (and have the skills) make fabulous Save the Dates, but if you lack either and have one great picture and 10 minutes, you can have happy ones.

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Because y’all are the best at ideas

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Hello, hive! I need some creative suggestions, pretty please.

We’ll be placing a handwritten note of appreciation at each guest’s seat. Since I didn’t hand-write our invitations as I’d once imagined, I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to express how much I (ahem, “we”) love and appreciate each person in our lives. The letter writing I can handle (I’m a well-practiced letter writer) but I need some help deciding how to jazz up the plain white envelopes.

I considered putting our monogram on the outside, but that seemed a little, I don’t know, narcissistic. I mean, if I write a thank you note to a friend, I don’t put my initials on the outside.  I could just write their names nicely, but that’s a little boring.

Will you help me choose?

A: the guest’s monogram or initial


B: a tiny picture of the guest with one of us (this is harder and more time-consuming, but I’d love it if I was a guest)


c: something else (tell me more in your comment!)

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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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