deciding

Dress Saga Follow-Up

Posted on October 24, 2008. Filed under: deciding | Tags: |

The Dress Saga

{Mr. Cheese, DELETE NOW.}

After I begged for help in deciding which dress to wear, reader lmdh helpfully suggested that I take a picture of myself wearing the bridesmaid’s dress with the pickups from Mori Lee.  So, this cheesy gal hopped right up from her comfy spot on the couch (hey, I work blog from home, call it a coffee break) and pulled out the dress.

Brief side note: I KNEW it was going to be too big.  I kindly suggested to the bridal shop woman that I’d need a size smaller than she might think because I have a small ribcage and (can’tbelieveI’msayingthisinpublicmuchlessontheInternet) amorphous boobage.  If the dress is too big, my breasts will sag to my waist and my dress will try to fall off.  She evidently believed that I just wasn’t at peace with my bridal dress size (speaking of which, why not go DOWN in size to make a bride feel better rather than worse, Bridal Marketing Gurus?) and ordered me a bridal size 10.  It’s.  Too.  Big.  In the pics that follow, I used clothespins to suck in at least four inches.  Argh.

If you look closely, you can totally see my opportunistic pooch chewing on my running shoe (in the right corner).  And no, I didn’t comb my hair today.  I work from home, remember?

Again, it’s the David’s Bridal dress (reposting the pic from before) or the bridesmaid’s dress.

I hate deciding! And I can’t tell whether I like the pickups dress or whether I just can’t believe my arms look pretty good in those pics (yes, I’m a little vain). Incidentally, whichever dress I don’t wear will be for sale once I decide.  And seriously, for heaven’s sake, if you’re on a budget, consider bridesmaid’s dresses.  I would never have guessed that the Mori Lee dress cost $140!!

Still the DB dress, y’all think?  My Cheesy Mama pragmatically suggested that by the time I get the too-big Mori Lee dress altered the two dress sizes I need, I’ll spend another hundred or more bucks.  I also like the idea that with the DB dress’s spunkiness (amazing that spell-check thinks that’s a word), I can somehow incorporate feathers or other fabulous frivolity!

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My dress saga

Posted on October 23, 2008. Filed under: deciding | Tags: |

A three dress bride?  Ridiculous, but possibly true.

Sigh.  I have no idea what to do about my dress situation, so I’m hoping that you can help me.  Pretty please?  I’ll trade you embarrassing unflattering pictures of myself in return for your help.

{Mr. Cheese, if you’ve read this far, DELETE THIS EMAIL — he gets every one of my posts emailed to him by this service — NOW!  QUICKLY!}

I’ve mentioned before that I’m busty and vertically challenged, so I wasn’t looking forward to dress shopping. I was looking for something unique, comfortable, glamorous and “me” that I could successfully wear while navigating the trail through our backyard.  Uh, huh.  Good luck, right?   I was also a bit uncomfortable about the whole big-white-dress concept because this is my second wedding*.

It took three steps to get through the discomfort.  First, I dropped by a bridal shop all by myself and asked to try a few things on.  Without any pressure or need to be “the public me,” I tried on everything they had in my size.  I didn’t take my camera (sorry!) but the shop owner and I assessed each style.  In the end, I decided that I wanted a bridesmaid’s dress in white or cream — simple, inexpensive, practical, and flattering.

Then, I made an unexpected trip home to New Mexico, and my mom and I made a quick visit to a bridal shop there.  We agreed that a bridesmaid’s dress was the way to go (though she did try to talk me into a more traditional dress).

Third step: I talked my two best girls into joining me back at that first bridal shop, and I roped them into trying on dresses with me.  If you can somehow finagle this, I highly recommend it.  We had a blast trying them on together!

Final step: my best girl and I went to David’s to try on this dress:

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… and this is how I looked in it.  (Quick note: the date on my camera was wrong, apparently.)

As you can see by my face, I wasn’t much into it.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good.  Here’s a better picture where I’m not pouting (but not much better!):

Then I tried this one on:

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Ohhhhh, yea.  Now we’re talking.  It was glamorous and yet wearable.  The boobage was well-supported and it didn’t seem overwhelming on my body.  Problem: I just didn’t want to spend $500 on a dress.  I know, I know, it’s the only day I’ll get to wear it and all, but FROM MY PERSPECTIVE (and only mine, of course) there were more important things.  {And I’m perfectly okay living vicariously through those of you wearing Monique Lhuillier.  Really.}

We dropped by one last bridal shop and found this bridesmaid’s dress (which I couldn’t take a picture of myself in because of that strange and totally ridiculous no-pictures policy some shops have don’tevengetmestartedonthat):

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… and this bridesmaid’s dress:

source: Mori Lee website.
Seriously, if you’re looking for a budget wedding gown, you should at least consider bridesmaid’s dresses.  Each of these was under $150 and in white or cream still made me look like a bride.

{Quick trip down memory lane.  Granted, it’s MY memory lane, but join me anyway….  Initially, J and I were going to get married in October.  Remember? And, in a wacky attempt to make traveling easier on my family (all in the southwest), we thought we’d just have a second reception, sort of, in Las Vegas.  This was before I figured out what this wedding thing is all about — for me, anyway — and my big goal was to inconvenience people as little as possible.  Feel free to point and laugh.}

While I was considering my options, I realized that I wouldn’t have time to get my dress dry cleaned before heading for Vegas.  We’d be tromping around our backyard on Saturday and then hop on a plane Sunday for a renewal of vows on Monday — no time to get a dress dry cleaned.  For practical reasons, then, I needed two dresses.  Also for practical reasons, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money.  I’ll talk more about my wedding planning strategy soon, but let’s just say that I could neither afford nor desire a super expensive dress for one day… and now I needed two.

But I still didn’t want to pay 500 bucks for a dress.  Enter eBay!  Within 10 minutes of searching, I found that exact dress in my size for sale by a bride who’d been married a few months before.  Score!  I bought it for $200 plus shipping and it arrived a week later in perfect condition.

Because I wanted to go traditional for our hometown reception, I chose the pickups dress (in black above).

Fast forward to today. We’re having one reception in Knoxville, with backyard and trail to the clearing and all that.  I have two dresses hanging in my closet, one of which I love more than the other… but of course that one’s less practical and safe (ya know, for descending a trail).  I’m also feeling like I chose them both during my rush-through-the-process phase, and what I reeeeaaaalllly wanted was lace.  I also loved how fun the super sassy bombshell bridesmaid dress (the navy blue picture) was, not to mention how bombshell-ish I looked.  And yet, I’ve said all along that I don’t want to place too much importance on my dress.

Help?  What would you do?  Wear the glamorous-but-somewhat-constricting-when-walking dress from David’s?  Wear the much safer, but much less fun more-traditional-bridesmaid’s-dress-with-pickups?  Buy a third (ridiculous, I know) sexy-bombshell-bridesmaid’s-dress and have to suck it in all night? Sell both and start the search anew?  Meaningful and lasting isn’t helping me here!

*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  This is a new relationship worthy of the respect and traditions that come with creating a new family through marriage.  Don’t let the fact that you were married before intrude on your wedding day.  Yes, by all means, process and find peace with that fact for your own emotional health before you get married again, but let your decisions about The Day You Will Pledge Yourself To Your Husband Forever be driven by the present.  Wear the dress you would wear if this was your first marriage, this time, at this age as this person that you are today.

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Now, about the ring…

Posted on October 17, 2008. Filed under: deciding | Tags: , |

Well, hello, there, darling.  What a pretty color you are!  Wanna come live with me?

Yes, I’m a dork.  I’m a dork with that thing (pointing to the left) as my engagement ring.  I got quite a few questions when I first showed y’all this picture, so I’m going to take you through my ring saga, as promised.

First, we went ring shopping together. He liked much more delicate styles than I thought I did, and then so did I.  I knew I wanted something classic, not too “blingy,” not too expensive, and meaningful. I have to say, it was great fun showing him things and watching to see his reaction.  Anyway, in the end, I pulled together a bunch of links and emailed them to him and figured I’d stay out of it.

Not so much.  Something kept bothering me, and I finally put my finger on it: I wasn’t being genuine.  I’m not much of a jewelry person.  I wear earrings (from my grandmother), a ring (from my mom) and a necklace (from my dad).  They’re beautiful, but I could care less about that.  I wear them because they’re meaningful to me.  You know that ee cummings poem?  I carry them with me.

This isn’t the last piece of jewelry I’ll ever have but it is important that it always mean something to me.  So, instead of a cool-looking piece of sparkle, I needed to decide what matters most. For me, that was continuity, the physical symbol of “forever and ever,” the personal message that means that we will stick it out.

Also, I like vintage. I like the idea that the things I have lived a life before me, and that they have come to live with me now (yes, I’m a weirdo).  I love that my furniture isn’t new (I collect mid-century furniture), that it has a soul (weird, yes), and that it hasn’t affected the world by being manufactured.  If that’s what guides what I wear and what I sit on and live with (even my animals are rescues!), then shouldn’t it at least be a consideration now?

I did a search for vintage rings and found Fay Cullen — great selection, great prices, so-so reviews on the ‘net.

I emailed the poor mister a bazillion links, then admitted that the one I really loved best, the one that really caught my heart, the one that happened to match my cat’s eyes… was the least expensive.  Uh, huh.  As expected, this made him uncomfortable (“You want me to buy you an engagement ring ON SALE?”), but because it’s one of a kind, he indulged me.
So, here she is: approximately one carat of a “vivid light lilac” sapphire surrounded by teeeeeeny tiny diamonds in yellow gold.  As far as Fay Cullen goes, they ship very quickly and have a great selection and prices, but they don’t take returns.  Now I just have to figure out what kind of wedding band will go with it.
(And yes, in retrospect, I could have just gone with whatever he picked out, and I would have been thrilled… but alas, my meddling soul prevented that.)
Were you involved in choosing your engagement ring?  Did anybody (anybody?) struggle to pick a ring that felt genuine and just right?  And (this one’s just for Mr. Cheese), any other ladies out there that had a hard time with the idea of a super expensive piece of jewelry?
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What’s in a name?

Posted on October 14, 2008. Filed under: deciding |

Mrs. Hydrangea posted recently about her decision to change her name in a rather unusual way, and it got me thinking about my name decision (ahem, more like a non-decision). Having been married before, I’ve done the name change thing (and then reversed it). The whole thing was awful. When I first adopted my new married name, I felt lost, like all of my history up to that point had been wiped out, even though I was 21 at the time. Then when I reverted to my maiden name, I was even more devastated. In the years I was married, I graduated and my career really took off. Suddenly, the plaques and awards on my wall were in a different name. “That’s not me anymore!” I’d think each time I’d look at them… but I’d left my maiden name so long before that it didn’t feel right either. And I won’t mention the awkwardness of being congratulated by coworkers (whom I obviously didn’t know very well) on my marriage when in fact my name changed because of the d-word.

In desperation, I did the only thing I could. I decided that my real name, my true identity, was my first name. Gone went multi-letter monograms. I’ll take just the “M”, thankyouverymuch. My last name is evidently dynamic, but my first name won’t change.

Now I have the freedom to choose to take Mr. Cheese’s last name… or not. He’s pretty firmly on the name-change side of the fence, and I’m pretty firmly ON the fence. I would love for my future children and my current pets to share my last name; as a side benefit, his last initial is the same as my first initial, so the single letter monograms are still useful! On the other hand, I don’t want to change my name professionally again.

If I worked for a different company, I’d change my name personally but keep my name professionally. {Side note: which one becomes your legal name? If it’s the personal name, how do you handle your taxes at work? If it’s the professional name, how will you sign your kids’ permission slips?} Unfortunately, at my very large corporate employer, your identity is dictated by your tax records. If my name changes legally, so do my email address, IM name, corporate directory, and business cards.

I’m leaning toward changing my name once I have kids. We’ll call that the procrastinator’s solution. But then I wonder, when, exactly? When I find out I’m pregnant? When the child is actually born? And not to be too pragmatic, but what a mess to change my name while dealing with insurance and doctors and hormones! Ugg, I also dread bringing my personal life into my professional life again by changing my name. I deal with hundreds of people, and every one would have to be notified of my new name.

So, for now, I’m not deciding. The beauty of engagement is that it gives you (me) the opportunity to ponder these dilemmas while not forcing you (me) to decide immediately. I suspect that in the end, I’ll take Mr. Cheese’s last name, but I’m holding off on checking that one off the list.

What are your plans regarding your last name? Will you take your fiance’s name or keep your own? Will you hyphenate or have you come up with some other hybrid solution? Details, please! I’m a practical gal!

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Can you be in love with stationery?

Posted on October 8, 2008. Filed under: deciding, invites |

I got my order from Paper Source today, and I’m. In. Love. Also, about to kill my cat for trying to walk all over it (not really… it’s not his fault I spread it all out to make googoo eyes at it).

The “Gravel” envelopes are just as serious as I’d hoped, and the “Cement” cards and paper are calm and neutral. Love. The “Starlight Sapphire” (gag, name) inserts are just a little bit shiny, and together they form one serious image. In contrast to the handwritten invites we decided on, this is just perfection!

I’m still struggling a bit with the wording. The stationery is nice and serious, the handwritten invite lends a personal touch… so how formal should the wording be? I think it would be silly to handwrite “The honor of your presence is requested at the wedding of {my man’s full name} and {my full name}” when we’re doing the inviting and we’re handwriting said invite. On the other hand, “Come join us to celebrate” is so, well, simple. I know, I know, that’s what I was going for, but I also want people to know how important it is to us that they be a part of our celebration, because we love them and they love us.

I’m overthinking, aren’t I? Did anyone else feel that formal invites were too much for their casual affair?

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Color indecision

Posted on October 8, 2008. Filed under: deciding, invites |

I’m a terrible decider of things. Too many options and I shut down, so the simplest tasks like choosing invitation paper leave me frustrated and overwhelmed. I start out with a vision, which morphs when I see other options, then disappears when I see too many. Too. Much. Decision-making.

New rule: when the panicky feeling sets in, a choice must be made, purchased, completed. “I will order invitation paper today,” I said. I’ll start with the things I love.

I love blue skies. I love the green-ness of this city. I love simplicity and neutral grays.

So, sky blue accents + green surroundings + white linens + gray base.

SUCH a relief to decide. I’m throwing in “night sky blue” (read: navy) in envelopes and “starry night sky blue” in inserts (because the regular sky blue wasn’t available).

Drumroll, please…

Blue!
Blue!… just because – maybe personal requests?
Cement!
Cement… invitations
Starry Night (er, Stardream Sapphire)
Starry Night (er, Stardream Sapphire) – additional info like parking, etc
Gravel envelopes (so serious... love)
Gravel envelopes (so serious… love)

And let’s not leave out…

Night envelopes... love
Night envelopes… love. LOVE.
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A cake strategy

Posted on October 6, 2008. Filed under: cake, deciding |

The F can’t picture things until he sees (you guessed it) pictures. Since I’m the researcher in our family, the system we’ve devised is that I create simple blog posts on our very own private blog on a specific topic (with relevant pictures), then we review them and make a decision.

When I asked J what he pictured when he thought about a wedding, he mentioned three things: a ceremony in the clearing, a “GQ looking” suit, and a cake. We’d already talked about the clearing and hadn’t gotten to the suit (since I hadn’t yet picked a dress), so we talked about cakes next.

Simplest

Simplest

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Cake Buffet

Cake Buffet

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Many small cakes (or cupcakes!)

Many small cakes (or cupcakes!)

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More multiples

More multiples

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There’s also the traditional stacked cake, but not only is it more expensive, I don’t think we have enough time…

Traditional stacked cake

Traditional stacked cake

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Cupcakes! I told you.

Cupcakes! When I mentioned this option to him, he didn't believe me. "Cupcakes," he said, "Who has CUPCAKES instead of a real cake? And why?" Men.

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Simple and monogrammed

Simple and monogrammed

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First we picked a style, then we picked flavors, and then we had to decide whether to a) make very simple cakes ourselves, b) talk our friends into making very simple cakes, or c) try to order a last-minute cake from the yummy cake place downtown.

We chose the cake buffet and to bake cakes ourselves and freeze them then do icing the day of. We also chose these flavors:

  • Coconut frosting on white cake
  • Chocolate w/ fudge frosting
  • Carrot cake w/ cream cheese frosting
  • My friend Laura’s lemon cake
  • Pastel de Tres Leches (we might buy this one)

Our backup plan is to ask very close friends to each bring a cake. We’ll be prepared with vintage cake stands (which I’ve yet to buy) and just plop their contributions on each one! I’ll admit, I love the idea of our closest friends bringing the cakes that symbolize our first meal as a married couple.

Did anyone else decide to go the DIY route with cakes? Any experiences with doing it successfully? {Check out this link… awesome!}

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Revisiting a decision

Posted on August 10, 2008. Filed under: deciding, reality |

We have revisited (and re-decided) one of our first decisions. In fact, this decision is one of the first we made after deciding to get married. It went something like this:

Let’s get married!

Where? The Clearing behind our house!

When? October, since it’ll be too cold after that!

I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with this fact, but we have too much going on right now. We own two houses, one of which is undergoing major renovations. To compound the pressure, my family (and only my family) live far away, so we were feeling the need to get major work done on our new house before they can stay with us for the wedding. We just got a puppy, and neither of us has ever had a puppy before. J is majorly stressed by the pressure to finish up the work on the other house, and while I can do most of the puppy-raising on my own, I don’t want to plan a wedding on my own, and that’s how it was turning out.

I’d become one stressed out, grumpy, resentful woman at a time when we just don’t need any more stress. The reality is that we don’t have the time or the capacity to joyfully plan a wedding in two months. After much angst and soul-searching, we realized that what we want, more than anything, is to enjoy this whole thing, and imposing a short timeline upon ourselves puts that goal in serious jeopardy.

A great friend of mine advised me, back when I was going through some major drama, that some things can’t be expedited. “It’s a human process, not just a legal one, and those can’t be rushed.” As a project manager, I know that you can push through even the biggest task list or event by prioritizing and planning. However, as a bride, as a woman about to pledge her life to another, I need to take the time to let the process unfold. In addition to being a great party, a celebration of family, and an opportunity to profess your love and commitment to another person, getting married is also about the rite of passage from being single (I am responsible for myself, above all) to being a partner (I am responsible for us, and you, in addition to myself). Respecting the traditions, allowing them to guide you through the emotional aspects of being a bride – this is all important too.

And so, this weekend, my love and I decided to take more time in our engagement and get married next spring. We’re toying with the idea of getting married near our anniversary date (June 10), in fact. I am lucky enough to be loved by wonderful people, all of whom are supporting (and somewhat relieved by) this decision, even though they’re incurring some hefty airline fees.

I am now spending the weekend becoming accustomed to being engaged without the quickly-approaching wedding date looming. My fiance is mowing the grass at a leisurely pace. All is well in the world, again.

Did you have to revisit any of your major decisions? Like me, did you feel relieved once you did?

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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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