Friday, September 28, 2007

i heart jennifer behr

I posted awhile ago about my love for fascinators. I kept finding myself on the Jennifer Behr website, drooling over the flower hairpins, feathers and golden headbands. Then I would look at the price and think... there are so many things I could do with that $200. I will find something less expensive that I will love even more.

I have been looking- hard. On Etsy, in bridal shops, on ebay... I wasn't having any luck. Nothing impressed me in the same way. The silk flowers looked too fake, there was too much beading or it wasn't the right size. I kept toying with the idea of wearing a real flower but I worried about it falling apart before the reception.

Then, lo and behold, a glorious email appeared on my Blackberry. Daily Candy's weekly deals included a 30% off coupon to everything on Jennifer Behr's website. Yup, everything. I couldn't get myself home fast enough to check it out, make sure it was real and then purchase.

I tried to decide between these lovely numbers:

Number 3 was the winner! It is the perfect combination of girly, unique and a little vintage. It will look amazing with my dress. I can't wait for it to arrive!

i heart cafe brauer or i heart my venue (part 3)

Our final decision really came down between Cafe Brauer and CSO. The pressure was on for me to make up my mind and I was having a really hard time. Jake was trying to help by not helping. He loved them all and figured I would make the right choice. He did have his opinion, but whenever I would ask for it he would say that I already knew what I wanted and I should just sign the contract. I hate it when he is right!

We visited Cafe Brauer with my parents on our tour of downtown Chicago locations. I used to run there all the time when I lived in Lincoln Park. I also worked "freelance" (read: cheap weekend labor) for a large event planning company and I had been there once or twice to set up for a wedding. It is a sweet and magical kind of place. It is a prairie style building next door to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There are huge windows and an amazing view of the Chicago skyline from the balconies. The area that surrounds it is perfect for pictures- the park, the lake, the skyline- and with the zoo right next door there would be something for our guests to do in between the ceremony and the reception.

Here are some of my favorite photos from flickr-

Thomas Slack Photography

Aren't those hanging votives beautiful? When the lights are low, it makes it look like their are stars floating above the crowd. I love, love, love Cafe Brauer and I am so very excited to be holding my reception there.

If you want to revel more in the beauty of the CB, visit Joree Adilman Weinstein's photos on flickr.

Friday, September 21, 2007

i heart my venue (part 2)

Growing up, my only real experience with a country club was the historic Medinah Country Club in the Chicago suburbs. It is gorgeous- the grounds, the trees, the clubhouse... I always dreamed about getting married in the ballroom. The ceiling is painted with clouds. There is a stage with a huge velvet curtain and the wood floors seem to go on for miles. For an 8 year old girl, it was like a playground.

Both my mom and I always imagined my wedding at Medinah. When Jake and I went to visit with my parents, there were a lot of upsides. Besides the beauty of the place, Medinah comes equipped with an excellent staff, a gourmet chef and tables, chairs and linens.

Here are some photos from their site. Unfortunately, we didn't take any oursleves while we were there.

The major downside was that it was quite a haul from our church in Lincoln Park. I was also looking for something a little different from the standard country club suburban wedding. Although Medinah is anything but standard, the "country club" setting wasn't settling with me. After a little heartbreak, we decided to keep looking.

Number two in our final list was the lovely Chicago Symphony Center, home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I LOVED this place. The ballroom was gorgeous. You could wander around, sit in the fancy boxes and check out the amazing view down Michigan Avenue.

This picture is pretty bad, but yet again, we took no photos while we were there. Picture a Marie Antoinette-esque ballroom in ivory and gold, huge windows looking out onto Millennium Park and the Art Institute and a brand-new hardwood floor. The main problem was that the ballroom could only hold 175 people, and we were hoping for 175 people. Another problem was that the CSO's schedule had not yet been set as of last December and they wouldn't book us without knowing whether or not they would be performing. Done and done. I was very sad.

Moving on... to the final installment and our selection.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

i heart peacocks!

Bzzzzz... What's that noise? Oh, it must be the new Weddingbee, Miss Peacock!

That was so cheesy I am having a hard time not hitting delete. But a post like this deserves a cheesy opener!

I am going to be a bee! I submitted my application a little prematurely last June. I received a response back from Ms. Lovebug that I was their first bee with that long of a time span between application and actually wedding date (Score! Can't you feel my enthusiasm?!). Ms. Lovebug asked me to resubmit my application this winter, but in the meantime they would keep an eye on our wedding blog. That inspired me to create i heart peonies so that I could post more on my planning and DIY, keeping in step with what Weddingbee is really about.

Then, a few weeks ago, I got this email:
Hi Natalie!
The bees overwhelmingly agree - your blog is great!!!! We'd love to add you as a bee, but your wedding is still a bit far away, and we probably won't be able to add you for a couple months.
But in the meantime, you can choose a character (a flower, a candy, or a bird) if you'd like and we'll hold it for you. We'll be sending over more details shortly, but we just want to say welcome to weddingbee!!!!!!!

My immediate reaction was to scream and jump around the family room. Maisy was a bit alarmed. Jake was on his way home from the airport. I called, out of breath, to see when he would be home. Here is our conversation...
Jake: Why? What happened?! Did you get an assistantship (funding for my PhD program that I have been waiting on)?!

Me, slightly disheartened: No...

Jake: Did our condo sell?

Me: No. You are ruining it!

Jake: Oh, then, I'll just see you when I get home.

Me: Boo. Goodbye.

He showed some restrained excitement once he had a chance to read the email, but I was still going crazy. I called my parents and emailed friends. My dad was confused- "So, are they paying you?" They are paying me with blogging love, Dad.

I had a hard time picking between flowers, candy and birds. Clearly, Miss Peony was my first choice but someone had already snatched that up. My other thought was Miss Dahlia but I had no emotional attachement to Dahlias- unlike the freshly announced Miss Dahlia! Read her post here. As much as I love candy, I don't think Miss Swedish Fish rolls off the tongue. I kept coming back to peacocks for a variety of reasons. One is my love for Clue and the payoff of being Mrs. Peacock would be oh-so-nice. Another is this fun photo from Jake and my engagement trip of me chasing a peacock, while attempting to walk like a peacock.

Find the symbolism in this photo.

Yet another is my love of the peacock colors which will undoubtedly be making an appearance in my wedding. And finally, peacock starts with a "p," as does Jake's last name.

I'm not sure exactly when we will make our debut, but in the meantime, here is my little peacock.
Did the NBC chimes just go off in your head, too?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

i heart our venue (part 1)

Here is the story of how we choose the beautiful Cafe Brauer as the site for our reception.

We started the venue search within 24 hours of our engagement. Here is the full version of that story. It was quite amazing, if I do say so myself. The quickie version is that Jake surprised me with a trip to San Diego. The day after the proposal, we went to the breathtaking Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island. We had lunch, including a bottle of their yummy house champagne, and met with the events coordinator. She gave us a tour of the Del's amazing event rooms and a private spot on the beach where we could have our ceremony.

We even scoped out this beautiful little church a few blocks from the Del.

The Del was ruled out once we started talking about the logistics involved in a destination wedding. With a few notable exceptions, our families and friends live in Chicago. Those that do not live in Chicago live in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey, states that are not close to California. We also couldn't really have that beautiful beach wedding as we are Catholics and you have to work very hard to find a Catholic priest who will marry you outside of a church. That beautiful little church wasn't our church and they weren't open to non-parishioners coming in just for a wedding.

Back at home, we spent a few days visiting somewhat unconventional spots around Chicago. We didn't look at any real banquet or hotel spaces. We did look at several museums and historical sites. After a few weeks of weighing the pros and cons of every option we could think of, we came up with a top 3: Medinah Golf Club, the Chicago Symphony Center and Cafe Brauer.

More later!

Monday, September 17, 2007

i heart the golden girls

I don't know if it was the day spent reading about the art of political manipulation, my allergies or from a lack of sleep, but I just cried my way through the last episode of the Golden Girls.

The series finale has Dorothy and Blanche's uncle Lucas (Leslie Nielsen- don't ask me how that was biologically possible) falling madly in love. In a very romantic move, they decide to get married after only knowing each other for a short time. I think the best part, however, may be Dorothy's dress:

Is that calamari around her neck? Dorothy Zbornak is known for her tent like dresses and crazy outfits covering every inch of her body, and this fits that bill. There is nothing better than a lace turleneck and long sleeves for a Miami wedding. I do think that her bouquet of calla lilies would still be loved by most brides today. I never noticed how handsome Leslie Nielson was... grrrrowl! With all this and their usual killer punchlines, why the tears? Dorothy was moving out and until the last moments, so were Rose and Sophia. The thought of those ladies splitting up just got to me!

For me, the tough thing about full time graduate school is that its hard to turn it off when I get home. My brain is still wired from class and there is always more reading to do or papers to get an early start on. I can find Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia in my Tivo queue and just zone out. The show started when I was 4 years old and wrapped up when I was 11, and I don't know how or why, but I remember watching it and loving it. If I saw any of those ladies walking down the street today, I would have to hug them. Fortunately, my brother Charlie recognized this and bought me season 2 for my birthday. Even though the show has ended, their friendship can live on through my DVD player.

Friday, September 14, 2007

i heart anthropologie dishes

Anthropologie is my favorite store, hands down. Its like a department store that only carries my favorite things. I have a hard time walking out of there without something- a dress, a headband, some hand lotion, a candle. It is the best place for gifts!

If I could, I would decorate my entire house in Anthropologie. That is the first thing that pops into my head when I play the "what if I won the lottery?" game. Couches, bedding, chandeliers, oh my! I also love the dishes. I have had the latte bowls for years and they are the best things in the world for cereal. I can't eat cereal out of another bowl anymore, I spill all over myself.

I have been playing around with the idea of registering there, but they don't have the best system. They have a wishlist, which can be used for any variety of things. Its more set up for a birthday or Christmas list. It hasn't quite caught up with Pottery Barn as far as ease of use. Its also not searchable on the Knot or, my two sources for finding someone's registry. So, I decided to compromise with myself. 95% of our registry will be housed elsewhere, but I will put the fancy dishes on my Anthropologie wishlist, along with a few glasses and more latte bowls!

Here are our fancy dishes:

How cute is that sugar bowl?! The colors seem a little funny here, but they are all part of the same collection so they are the same shade of white. They remind me of my Gramy's milkglass that I love.

i heart petal play designs

In a few weeks I will be meeting with Petal Play Design in suburban Lemont. I heard about them through my bridesmaid Erin and I spent some time on their site. LOVE it! I booked an appointment with them right away. Their flowers have a lot of texture and movement. I can't wait to learn more.

In the meantime, here are some shots from their site. Enjoy!

While this isn't the best photo, it conveys the feeling I want to go for- warm colors, lots of candles and a little late night magic. Oh, and the champagne is nice, too!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

i heart the fact that i chose my own fiance

Update! This IS a fake, thank goodness. It has been haunting me for days. Here is the article. Thanks Miranda!

Sorry to go off my normal happy topic route, but I wanted to share something crazy.

While avoiding my schoolwork this morning, I found a post about on one of my favorite blogs. It seems to arrange marriages between the parents of a teenage girl and an online suitor for a large fee. I am not one to judge, particularly when it comes to religion, but how can you sell your daughter's future? Are the girls actively participating in this? I can't even imagine the kind of man who would use that site to find his (15 year old) wife.

I understand that arranged marriage is a time honored tradition in some countries and since that is not a part of my culture I would not try to critique it. This just seems to take a strange twist on that tradition. Is this kind of money usually involved? And at that age? In this country?

This one in particular bothered me.

If you can't get control of your daughter, why would you count on a strange man to do it for you? Someone please tell me this is a joke... That propose button is kind of comical though. Its like you can just add her to your shopping cart!

This makes me so appreciative of what I have with Jake and of our future together. We got to choose each other after learning a lot of lessons about relationships and love. And dowries were not involved, at least to my knowledge. Thanks to Manolo for the Brides for sharing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

i heart... my first idea

So, a few months ago I decided to make an inspiration board. By "I," I mean I picked out photos and Jake put it together in Photoshop. Thank goodness he is so talented with that because I was using Word. Here is what I came up with.

I was lucky enough to get it featured on Style Me Pretty and I was thrilled to have something to take with me to florists and to keep in the back of my head while looking for dresses, invites, etc.

I loved it at the time, but I am having color issues and it is impending my ability to get it together. I think about it every time I go on my favorite wedding sites and I see some amazing wedding using all burgundy or navy. I secretly love black, white and yellow but that doesn't fit into my usual shabby chic tastes.

The moral of the story is... I am going to stick with this and bring out a little more yellow. Its all my favorite stuff- the Jennifer Behr hair pin, all the Martha Stewart inspiration, the soft and pretty letterpress. Trust your first instincts, ladies. They are usually right on the money!

i heart mark staff photography

As I have previously mentioned, I also heart my own photographer, but Mark Staff would be a close second. Faye and Greer posted photos from this unbelievable wedding at the Inn at Palmeto Bluff. As soon as I saw this place, it went on my list of places I need to sleep in before I die.

Look at this beautiful cottage!

It is right on the ocean and it is full of everything appealing about southern charm. I can almost smell the magnolias.

As I am currently on a yellow kick, I LOVE the bridesmaids dresses. And who wouldn't want the adorable Reese Witherspoon as a bridesmaid?

I love this shot.

Can't you just feel how calm and happy she is? I want to have that face all day long. I love how she is standing in this photo and I love the backdrop. What a beautiful wedding! It's not the only one on his site and I would love to spend more time there. I think that the Faye and Greer traffic may have choked it a bit, but you can see a few images from each one that will make you want to see more!

Friday, September 7, 2007

i heart being a celebrity stalker

As creepy as this grainy photo from Kate Walsh's wedding might be and as much as I know that I shouldn't be using it...

Where did she get those bridesmaids dresses? I love them! I want one and an excuse to wear it. Also, is that Sara Ramirez on the left? She is my favorite. I really enjoy how she shows off her curves and doesn't seem to be hopping on the anorexia train anytime soon. I would love to see the real photos. I bet it was a really beautiful wedding!

i heart kaldi's coffee

Right now I am snuggled up on my couch, listening to the rain, watching Golden Girls and drinking a cup of my all-time favorite coffee. I don't have class tonight so I can put my reading off a little longer. Maisy is sound asleep on a pillow next to me. I could only be happier if Jake wasn't trying to fly home from Boston right now- the rain isn't helping.

Last weekend Jake and I went to St. Louis for my friend's beautiful wedding. I wrote more about the trip on our wedding site, go take a look. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Kaldi's Coffee. Its located down the street from my first apartment and I went there almost daily. All of their coffee is delicious, but one brew makes me smile just thinking about it. Highlander Grogg. Strange name, amazing taste. Thank goodness they were serving it Saturday morning. It has a rich flavor and a hint of maple. Yummm...

That is Kaldi's in the background. Don't I look happy?

I brought home a pound of the Grogg and I am drinking it now. Ahhh... It got me to thinking- I wonder if Calihan would let me buy a few pounds of beans to serve with dessert. I had mentioned serving Intelligentsia to her earlier and my coordinator went for it, so this should work too. I have to pay for the beans anyway, regardless of what they serve, so I might as well make sure its something delicious!

i heart ariella chezar

Oh, if only I lived in Albany... I could have my wedding flowers designed by the lovely and talented Ariella Chezar. I am not sure what the other benefits of living in Albany are, but that is definitely a big perk.

Just look at this...

And this!
Ohhh and this...

That dress is kind of fabulous. Don't you wish that you could get a list of vendors with every wedding photo?

I think that Ms. Chezar will travel for her art, but my budget doesn't include those kinds of expenses. I have been interviewing several florists and they all seem very talented, but I keep coming back to these photos and getting jealous. At least she shows a lot of her design online so that I can try and replicate it here.

How did you pick your florist?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

i heart peter kruty editions

After seeing the lovely letterpress invites that were designed for Mrs. Bird of Paradise on Weddingbee, I spent some time on the Peter Kruty site. Besides being a fun, interactive site, the designs are very unique- from others that I have seen and from each other! Here are a few of my favorites, with Mrs. BoP's on top!

I am definitely on the lookout for a letterpress vendor and I honestly have no idea where to start. They all seem so beautiful. I will post a few more of the contenders on here!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

i heart my brother

Me and my dad

My brother Charlie is an aspiring journalist and, I believe, stand-up comedian. He is also a pretty gifted photographer. He took some photos at the engagement party and put his favorites together in a Picasa Album. I thought I would share these since the comments are very funny. I can't tell if you need to be a Moran to get it, but I will throw it out there anyway.

The cast of characters includes my dad (tan polo, glasses), my mom (brunette, glasses) my sister Elise (the other blonde), my brother Charlie (light green polo), my brother Peter (dark green polo), Elise's boyfriend Bill (glasses), their new puppy Bobby, Jake's niece Sophie (the little blonde who was having way too much fun in the puppy play pen), my Grampy, Jake (cute guy in navy polo) and me (purple dress). Enjoy!

i heart... my dress!

The Good

I got my dress!!! It is my "dream" dress- meaning that it is vintage (1950's-esque), ivory, fabric covered buttons and with a slight train- and its a Vera Wang. No pick-ups, no beading and very little of what everyone else seems to be doing. The fabric is soft and lush. I love it. No, I am not posting pictures. Jake wants to be surprised.

The Blah

I bought it at the Macy's State Street store. I have been boycotting Macy's since they took over Marshall Fields. I was very emotional about the sale of Field's. I love my city and I am proud of the things that originate here. I am very sensitive about New York people (like Donald Trump and his ugly skyscraper) and companies coming in and thinking they can do better. Chicago is cool on its own. I signed petitions, sent out emails and began my boycott. The rub is that when I was little and shopping with my Grandmother, I accidentally wandered into the bridal salon. I thought it was a magical, secret place and I knew I shouldn't have been there. That was always in the back of my head while shopping, regardless of how many classy bridal salons I walked into. I couldn't have Marshall Field's back and this was as close as I was going to get. I just took a deep breath and a long look at the Marshall Field's sign still hanging on the corner of Randolph and State before walking in. The service was great and I had a very nice experience, but I still gave money to the enemy.

The Fabulous

I found my dress at the new Vera Wang Salon on Oak Street. The shop is the Tiffany's of bridal salons- beautiful show room, impeccable customer service and it carries its own sense of fame and mystique. I was very nervous to visit because I didn't want to find anything. I purposefully, and successfully, avoided the Luxe (read: over 10k) section because I could only have fun there with a million dollar budget. I tried on my dress and felt comfortable, beautiful and happy in it. It was "me." My mom, sister and bridesmaid Christine agreed. I took a few mental notes and made another appointment. The day of said appointment, I decided to call Macy's for fun. They are the only other Vera Wang retailer in the area and I thought I would just verify that I wasn't going to pay too much for this dress. While Macy's did offer it for about $150 less, I was still going to go with the VW salon to avoid shopping at Macy's. Then the very sweet sales associate mentioned that Macy's had my dress as a sample- 50% off. It was the same size that the VW Salon was going to order for me. It was in excellent condition. Done and done. Hurray! I picked "her" up that day and brought her home. I had the biggest smile on my face, riding down the escalators at the State Street store and then through the streets of Chicago with a huge white garment bag. I wish I had a photo of it. The only downside to this is that she has to live in my old closet at my parent's house until I am ready for cleaning and alterations next June. Just try and keep me from taking her for a test drive at least once a month.

The moral of the story is...

Shop around. You don't have to break your budget for your dream dress. Most of the big designers have a sample sale once a year or you can try your local sample stores. And if I can have two morals- its okay to sell your morals for a dress, if its a Vera Wang on sample. No, really.

"Marshall Fields" State Street Store
Photo by rachelleb

i heart champagne

One of the unfortunate details in our liquor contract is that we have to pay for a champagne toast by the glass. I LOVE champagne/sparkling wine and I would prefer to have it flowing all night. I also don't think that everyone (Jake, namely) likes the bubbly as much as I do and so many glasses will go to waste.

If I could have my way, I would bring in a few cases and just let everyone pass the bottles around. I would also get something a little better than the Freixenet that is currently part of my package. We tried Coppola's Sofia at our engagement party. It was yummy and came in a beautiful shabby chic bottle. That bottle was wrapped in pink plastic wrap, which adds a little excitement.

It was a little sweeter than I usually prefer, but not sugary enough to turn me away from it. I also love that it is named after Sofia Coppola and I usually enjoy her movies. Her father, aside from being a famous movie maker, also has a beautiful vineyard in Napa where he makes some very tasty Cabernet.

There is also a mini, canned version of this champagne which might be adorable at a wedding reception. The cans are cute, anyway. The popping noise might be kind of funny right before the toast. I guess it depends on what kind of bride/hostess you are. Crass and quirky is apparently right in my wheelhouse.

If I really wanted to implode my budget, I would buy a few cases of Vueve Clicquot Rose. The VC Yellow Label was my gateway drug into the world of fizzy cocktails. I have been totally on board with the recent re-emergence of pink champagne and the VC Rose is a great example.

Nothing like thinking about champagne at 7:30 in the morning! Mimosa, anyone?
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