Saturday, August 25, 2007

i heart our engagement party invitations

I am so very excited, because my parents are throwing Jake and I an engagement party this weekend! We have been engaged since December, so we have gone 8 months of being engaged without really celebrating it. This is a nice excuse to get our family and friends together.

We sent invitations out a month ago. I really wanted to make them because I have been thinking about making my wedding invitations and I wanted some practice. I found a stamp ("Cottage Bloom") that I loved at Paper Source, as well as some pretty blue ("Lake") cards and ivory cardstock. I also tested out my new embossing blow dryer with a watermark stamp and some light gold powder. Here are the results:

Invite Done!

The ivory cards were 4.5x4.5 and the blue cards are 5x5. Cutting squares was pretty easy, compared to my previous forays into cutting rectangles. I loved using the embossing powders and I even had fun picking out the fonts. I think this was a success and I am feeling pretty confident about making the wedding invites. They will be a little more complicated... but I have enough time to get it right, right?

Friday, August 24, 2007

i heart my photographer

I have second-guessed almost every decision that I have made about this wedding. I usually can talk myself off the ledge and be happy again, but there is still a nagging voice in the back of my head... "Are you SURE you want to do that?!" Even the beautiful Cafe Brauer has taken a beating, mostly due to a recent staff change. We even considered moving the whole thing up to St. Joe, Michigan and cutting the guest list in half. I love our caterer, but I could drop that for a clambake on Lake Michigan.

While considering this option, the one vendor that I wanted to take with me was our photographer, Dean Thorsen. I haven't spent a lot of time with him and he seems great, but his photos are amazing. I feel validated every time I see another one of his weddings. The photos are unique and colorful. I really feel like I can get to know the couple by looking through a handful of their wedding pictures. How awesome is this shot:

Check out that fascinator!

I found Dean through Erin (my bestest friend from growing up and a fellow bride). Her cousin Pat, whose wedding is tonight, is using him. She showed me his website and I instantly decided to use him. Because it is my nature to research potential decisions to death, I did so and I didn't see any other photographers as talented as him. I keep checking his website and his blog for new photos and I am always impressed. When Erin's photographer decided to move to China shortly after her wedding, she switched over to Dean, too.

One more for fun-

See her parents kissing in the back? I love that!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

i heart sunday's forecast

Nothing better than seeing this forcast for your outdoor engagement party:

Particularly as it is currently storming outside. Until the storms started, the weather has been soupy- hot, humid and sweaty. If it wasn't for Maisy and a few appointments, I would not be going outside.

i heart lists

I had a list of things to do before school started. School starts on Monday and I have can check two of them off my list. I mean, I only had four weeks of absolutely nothing to do.

Buy my dress
I have found it! (Hurray!) I have to buy it before the end of the month to get the 10% discount, so it will happen soon.

Choose bridesmaids dresses
This one was settled. More news on that later. I am very excited about these.

Book band
Jake is in charge of this. Let's just say he knows my deadline.

Book florist
I have met with four so far and I will probably meet with one or two more. This part is much harder than I thought.

Book makeup and hair people
These could have been done. I scheduled someone that I was really excited about for a trial on Sunday. I just got an email that she will be a bridesmaid in someone else's wedding that weekend... any suggestions for someone new? The good news is that it sounds like my hair stylist is willing to call in sick to work and come do our hair!

I still have four days...

i heart little soaps

I spent a good chunk of last night looking for cute things to put in suitcases. It sounds like a random way to spend one's Tuesday night, but Jake was traveling and I couldn't sleep. Next time, I will crack one of my new books for school. I swear.

Here are some of the fun things I found:

These little soaps would look so cute in the bathroom at Cafe Brauer. I know they already come in that pretty box, but wouldn't they look even better in one of those Paper Source suitcases?

Or, I could take a trip over to Merz Apothecary in Lincoln Square.

The place is apparently a treasure trove of unique little gifts. I cant believe I have never been there. There are so many neat places in Chicago. I am always excited when another one turns up.

Finally, the bridesmaid's gift idea-

I am starting to sour on the flip flops at weddings thing, but maybe a cute pair of slippers and some other comfy stuff would do the trick.

I will keep on my mission until the perfect idea turns up!

i heart thoughtful marriage proposals

This is really wonderful.

He put so much time and thought into this. He is also very talented! There is nothing wrong with the old standby of ring in a champagne glass, but there is something impressive about his ability to make something so unique. I can only imagine how she felt! I am sure it was nice to be surrounded by her friends.

My proposal story is also insanely unique, thoughtful and romantic and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But, I still love hearing these stories!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

i heart paper source

Just to warn you... I will probably use that title for many-a-post between now and September 6, 2008. But, I found these and I had to write about them:

This is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. And its $10! When does anything at Paper Source surprise me by the LOW cost? Never. Nope, never. Sometimes I say to myself, "oh, thats reasonable," but inexpensive? I am just dreaming of all the things I could use this for- in the wedding, and beyond. Just stacking a few of these in a little girls room would be classic.

But, since I am currently planning for a wedding, back to that. The smaller version ($8!) would be cute as a "basket" full of goodies in the bathroom at Cafe Brauer. Out of towner welcome gift? I could just replace the word "basket" with "adorable suitcase." I could give the bridesmaids all kinds of goodies in here.

And then, I could put a luggage tag on it!
Although I am pretty sure I could make these, I am still excited by the idea! The wheels are churning...

Friday, August 17, 2007

i heart martha's new blog

I am insanely jealous of Darcy Miller, the editor in chief of Martha Stewart Weddings. I saw her on the Today Show yesterday talking about wedding themes and DIY projects and I just kept thinking of how badly I want her job. I have often toyed with the idea of being a wedding planner, but I don't think I could give up all of my Saturdays. Jake has been traveling so frequently that Saturdays are one of the few days that I know he will be home. Also, I would probably have to drop out of school... Anyway, I digress. Darcy Miller has the coolest job ever because she can plan weddings without actually going to the weddings.

Martha Stewart Weddings just started a new blog and Darcy is the blogger. There have already been some great ideas and I like Darcy's writing style. I hope she keeps it up, because if I can get a little MSW every day, I would be a happy girl!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

i heart palette generators (hee hee)

I still don't know my wedding colors. It's not really that big of a deal, but people keep asking and I feel like I should have an answer. I don't feel like I need wedding colors... I don't want single color bouquets or centerpieces. I want the wedding to feel eclectic and colorful. Also, I love colors and I can't seem to settle on one and be happy with it. Every time I see a pretty layout on Style Me Pretty, I feel compelled to change my mind.

I have found, on a variety of blogs, palette generators that will allow you to download a photo and it will detect the colors and create a palette. Here is one that is pretty easy to use. I thought this might help me narrow it down. Here is the image (from Style Me Pretty) I used and the results:

I like these colors... I can work with this. There is obviously a lot of yellow in the original photo and I like the oranges and coppers that the palette generator pulled out of it. It would look really pretty with chocolate bridesmaid dresses and ivory. Mmm... citrusy!

i heart kate parker weddings

Kate Parker is a wedding planner in New England with a fabulous website. She has lots and lots of photos of pretty, preppy weddings that she has planned. I love all the blue hydrangea. It is also very nice of her to post her photos online for people who don't live in New England or can't afford her services.

I have been saving her photos into my wedding files for months. Then I stumbled across her online store and found this:

It is a basket full of fun Chicago things for out-of-towners. Some of the choices are a little questionable, however...
  • 2 brownies from Chicago Brownie co., Chicago
  • 1 pack of candy covered nuts from Illinois Nut, Skokie
  • 12 oz. of coffee from Metropolis Coffee, Chicago
  • 2 (11 oz.) bottles of Fiji Water
Are these the best known Chicago vendors? I would trade the coffee out for Intelligentsia, at least. What about Frango or Fannie May? I guess they are formerly Chicago items, but they remind me more of Chicago than the until now unknown Chicago Brownie, Co. How about some Garrett's popcorn? Yummers. I thought that was just a tourist trap until Jake and I picked some up last fall. Finally, you have to include a coupon for some Home Run Inn Pizza. The frozen ones wouldn't last very long in a basket, but it would be worth the trip out once you got here.

We probably won't have too many out-of-towners, but this is a great idea for the handful we will have!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

i heart my deodorant

After I read this post on Weddingbee, I had to comment. It seemed like kind of a random thing, but people get really excited their deodorant. Another reader and I mentioned that we use Kiehl's Superbly Efficient Anti-perspirant and Deodorant and it started a string of conversations about it and its effectiveness compared to other deodorants. There were a few other contenders mentioned, but I just can't believe that I would like them any better than this one.

I love it because it smoothes on like lotion- not a stick, gel or other goo- and absorbs into your skin. It doesn't smell like anything- not baby powder or "tropical fresh." It just fights sweat and smells and I love it. The fact that it is Kiehl's and I love all of their products didn't hurt. Then today I saw a post on Faye and Greer, one of my favorite sites, praising the Kiehl's product. I thought it might be worthwhile to post on here and join the parade!

I am currently in Key Largo, Florida. It's August. It's 92 degrees and humid as can be without actual rain forming. I have spent all morning laying out by the ocean and have literally been dripping in sweat. Pretty picture, I know! I put my deodorant on yesterday around 3:00 and its still working. If I was going to trust anything on my wedding day, it would be my deodorant. My dress might rip while I am putting it on, right before I spill red wine all over it. My florist might show up with a truck-full of spray painted purple carnations. Jake might decide to go for the Fighting Illini tux after all. But I will smell fresh as a peony.

i heart our wedding website

Since Jake is a web-geek and Google employee, he has pimped out our wedding website. Most of my engaged friends have a Knot or Wedding Channel website. The more planning loving friends have in depth bios on the Knot's message boards. I think that ours is pretty unique and very savvy. Jake has tricked it out with polls, a countdown widget, a blog roll, feeds and all kinds of other things that I don't really understand. I think he has fun testing things out. He keeps trying to talk me into putting ads on there, but I think he is going to lose that battle.

That site is mainly for wedding news and updates. Most of our readers are close friends and family and I am not sure how many of them want to read my planning notes- hence the creation of iheartpeonies. It's hard now to decide what goes where. I am pretty sure that we will have a lot of wedding news in the coming weeks to share and I will feel a little less guilty about posting on here.

It's been a lot of fun planning posts with Jake and having a project together. It has also helped me understand his job and his passions a little better. I think it will be even more fun when we get close to the wedding and things really start happening. Until then, I can write up a storm here!

i heart fascinators

I found this beautiful post on wedlog this morning on fascinators, and I am fascinated. I love their vintage look and the fact that they aren't a tiara. I'm not a tiara kind of girl, but that doesn't mean I don't want something pretty and sparkly in my hair. I am also thinking about making a cathedral length veil for the ceremony and I am not interested in wearing that crazy thing all night. It would be fun to take that off but put something equally bridal in its place.

I started looking around this morning for something that I might be able to knock off and I have found a lot online. My favorite since before I was engaged is Jennifer Behr. I bought one of her headbands from Anthropologie and I love it. I don't know if those huge, beautiful silk peonies are "fascinators" per se, because they don't have feathers, but she does have other feathery items and some gorgeous beaded headbands.

Absolutely Gorgeous also features this little number-

I don't think the flower is as pretty as the Jennifer Behr peony, but I love the feathers. Maybe my mom and I will have to do a little DIY. Silk flowers are a pretty foreign concept to me. I walk into Michaels and make a beeline past the fake flowers. I have found some really beautiful silk roses which sit on my kitchen counter to Jake's dismay (story for another day), but I bought those at a little boutique in California. I am not sure if I could find something so beautiful that I would want it to be stuck to my head all day and look at the photos for the rest of my life.

Option number two is to not even use a realistic looking flower. I love these from Etsy seller begurple.

Mom and I could definitely find some pretty white fabric to make petals. Where would I buy feathers from, though? These even look beaded! My DIY list is growing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

i heart UPS

The UPS man brought two very exciting things today. Exhibit 1, the personalized napkins!

I really could not get a good photo, but this one is closest to the true colors. The blue is "French Blue" and the script is in gold. The napkins match the invitations that my mom and I made. I will do a post about those, too.

Exhibit 2, my first textbook as a PhD student!

Out of the many that I will be reading this semester, it was the only one I could get quickly on Amazon. Most of them were pretty obscure and/or out of print. When books go out of print, is that because they are so interesting that people become overwhelmed and stop buying it? Probably not... :) This bad boy is coming on vacation with me tomorrow!

i heart french general

I spent some time on the French General site last night and I found a lot of fun ideas! The first thing that caught my eye was this-

You can buy a kit full of those cute little lady bug and green beads and make boutonniere pins with them. I think this is such a novel idea- to replace the pins with the pearl heads with something that you actually want people to notice. I wonder if the guys will mind...

And then I noticed this-

I thought these would make beautiful hairpins or would dress up a headband. There were so many inspirational things on that site. Some of it was pretty pricey, but doable in small amounts. I also love all the Martha references, as in "Martha planned an evening cocktail party in the garden of French General and invited her advertisers" or "Martha came up with this wonderful idea using our materials." I feel closer to her just reading that site... ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

i heart personalized napkins

After snooping around trying to find some fun items for our engagement party, my mom and I remembered For Your Party. Jake and I first found them at the Blue Plate Wedding Show. He spent most of his time at their table, drooling over the monogrammed matchbooks. I could only lure him away with cupcakes. It's so funny what gets him excited.

When I needed personalized napkins and stem wraps for the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, I placed an order with them. It was within our budget (they gave us a little non profit discount), there was great customer service and they got it to us quickly. We were all very excited when the boxes arrived and we (and most importantly, the sponsor) were really happy with the result.

Mom and I ordered napkins with two clinking champagne glasses and "Natalie & Jake" underneath. I can't wait for them to show up next week!

Abby at Style Me Pretty (one of my favorites) just wrote a post about them. FYP just unveiled a new website and there are all kinds of fun things on there.

You can make everything right on their website... try it out! It's fun!

i heart dahlias, too

It was during my first meeting with a florist that I heard the heartbreaking news. Peonies- my all-time favorite flower, the flower that prompted me to choose Indiana for my 5th grade state report, the flower that grows big and beautiful in my mom's yard- are out of season in September. I would have to pay a bazillion dollars to get them shipped in. Oh, and those ranunculus that I had been eying? Also out of season. Garden roses? In season! But crazy expensive.

So the very nice florist recommended dahlias...

photo from Rose and Radish

photo from flickr

photo from flickr

They are kinda like peonies, but the petals are pointy instead of rounded. They come in beautiful colors and all different sizes. And... Martha Stewart, in her infinite wisdom, has created a kit to make them out of tissue paper! I bought some in her craft department at Michaels. I have started making them and I think I am going to keep going until I get really sick of them. My tissue paper collection has started as well. "Oh, thank you for the lovely handbag!" really means "Oooh... look at all the tissue paper they crammed into this box!"

I think Jake took our camera with him on his work trip, so I had to take the photo with my Photo Booth on my Mac. It's not so hot, but you get the idea. Making them was fun :) Ask me again after I hit 200 tissue paper dahlias.

As a side note, although I do love Martha Stewart, she is the reason that I fell in love with Ranunculus and Garden Roses. And paper covered vases. And letterpress. All the things that will make me cringe when I try to squeeze them into my budget.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

i heart vera

If I had a million dollars...
I would have bought this handmade, Vera Wang Luxe dress. Then, I would have had Jeeves drive me to my beach house in Santa Barbara.

But since I don't, I am on a mission to find a suitable replacement. Damn you, Vera Wang, for breaking girls hearts all across America. I am becoming a good shopper though. I have been on four trips and the last one went very well. I have two more scheduled and then my search should be complete. It's strange how confusing this can be. I was so much better at this when it was just looking for homecoming dresses. I like a lot of it. Too much of it. I should be counting all the times that I have slipped into a huge white gown.

It is still fun. I still have a hard time sleeping at night before my mom and I go. I am still pouring through and every designer's website looking for dresses. I am a little nervous about what I will do after I buy my dress. However much I love it, I am worried that I will still feel the need to comb through Martha Stewart Weddings looking for a better dress.

I used to say that I wasn't worried about my dress. I was wrong. Next thing you know, I will be stressing about monogrammed napkins.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Welcome to my Brain!

Since Jake and I became engaged last December, I have been trying to hold back on my wedding craziness. I knew that once I unleashed my inner wedding planner, I would not be able to rein her back in. I was doing pretty well until I quit my job a few weeks ago. I will be going back to school at the end of the month and I wanted some time off to plan, go on vacation with my family and get everything set for graduate school.

The planning has taken over. Yes, I am working on my FAFSA application. Yes, I have opted out of the insurance plan. And yes, we are leaving for vacation on Saturday. But... I have been checking Weddingbee and the Knot message boards obsessive-compulsively. I have been dress shopping. I have started to create a timeline for the next year. I kinda love it.

I decided to start blogging here because the lovely website that Jake created wasn't cutting it for me, creative-wise. I couldn't really go to town with all my planning ideas. It has been really nice for updating my friends and family about what is going on with us. I just don't think my aunt and my former coworkers want to read all about my debate between chocolate brown and champagne bridesmaids dresses. However... I am hoping that some other brides to be might be interested!

Anyway, welcome... I hope for lots of comments, suggestions, and playing of the devil's advocate. I also hope to steal lots and lots of other people's ideas. Let's go!
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