Thursday, January 31, 2008

after the party is the after party

Jake and I went to a gorgeous wedding in St. Louis for two of my college friends last Labor Day weekend. Since most of their guests were out-of-towners, they had a whole weekend of festivities planned. Jake and I stayed at the hotel where the wedding was located and, since it was a Marriott and Jake collects Marriott points like sunshine, we had a lovely room down the hall from the concierge lounge. My friend's family had booked the lounge for the entire weekend, filling it with homemade cookies (so very dangerous after a long night of "celebrating"), coffee, bottled water and occasionally some brewskis. There were also great maps of town and a welcome bag to help us fill our time that weekend. Unfortunately for Jake, he was dragged around on the "this is what Natalie did in college" tour and didn't have time to take them up on any of their lovely suggestions.

Since we have been engaged, every wedding that we attend is filled with "hmmm.. could we do that?", "should we do that?" or "oh my, I would never do that!" We had to have that concierge lounge. Jake's mom had already mentioned that she wanted to rent some kind of suite at our hotel for her grandkids to hang out in after they are done dancing. She wouldn't mind if we used it for other reasons, we just needed to get it booked. Done and done. So... what else could we do with that big, lonely suite after the grandkids are in bed?

Ummm... after party?

Classy! I won't be doing any keg stands, although I do foresee some Fat Tires (in a bottle). All we need is a room with a fridge and our most fun wedding guests. We plan on directing people back to our suite via our late night snack. The caterer will be passing out mini reubens on napkins with a secret message on it. "Pssst... keep the party going in Room 404!" It will be easy, inexpensive and we can keep the party going long after Cafe Brauer kicks us out.

Jake and I have been debating the snack options. We need something simple that we can either just leave in the fridge or order in advance. We also really don't want to spend very much money because I will have just handed over a HUGE check to the caterers. Any ideas? Anyone else through a stress-free after party?

the first wave

Slightly older friends and coworkers had always told me that I will have two wedding seasons. A whole bunch of my friends would get married in our mid 20’s and a whole bunch more around 30. I wasn’t sure, based on the state of my friends' relationships were at the time, if I would have too many during my mid twenties. With all the save the date cards that have been coming in the mail, I now see the error in my thinking. 26 will be my first real cycle and Jake is in the middle of his second- the two cycles are currently crashing together. I was adding all these weddings to my Google calendar last night and- when you throw in traveling, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers and bachelorette parties- I got a little overwhelmed.

My bestest friend (and regular WB reader) Erin is getting married in June to her high school sweetheart. Here they are in one of their gorgeous engagement photos:

photo from Thorsen Photography

We got engaged about a month apart from each other and have had fun being able to support each other with all the planning craziness. We send each other links to dresses, paper products (we are both a little obsessed with paper), make-up artists and flowers. We crab about being engaged for way too long. We gossip about the knot boards. We are sharing a few vendors and the negotiation tactics have been helpful. We drive our friends crazy by talking weddings whenever we are together. Ahhh... what would I do without her? Erin's wedding will kick-off the official summer o'weddings- aka, the wedding season.

Between June and October, we will attend five weddings. Two of these weddings are on the same night. One is a very close friend from growing up and the other is my cousin- there is no way I can miss either of them. We will have to pull off some Three's Company style tricks. Oh, and we will need to squeeze our wedding in at some point, too. The key issue at hand is what to wear. I can probably wear the bridesmaid's dress from Erin's wedding to my cousin's wedding (thank you, Erin, for picking out something I can wear again), but after that I am going to see the same people over and over again. I feel the need to spice it up, with my "no fun stuff due to upcoming wedding" budget in mind.

My normal shopping schedule usually includes:
  1. Walk into Anthropologie
  2. Contemplate knocking off a bank and buying everything in the store
  3. Give up on previous idea and look for places to hide so that I can live there instead
  4. Give up that idea while I clear the wracks of everything in my size and walk to the dressing room
  5. Talk myself out of everything but the one thing I really need
  6. Grab a headband on the way to the counter
  7. Buy my stuff, pretending not to be shocked at my total
This was before the wedding crunch began. Surprisingly enough (to me), Forever 21 and H&M have become my saving grace. Forever 21 makes me a little nauseous because I am an old lady and I get overwhelmed at the mess, the crazy loud music and the crabby teens that work the counters. Crabby because they have to clean that mess up? Perhaps. I did, however, find this.

Yup, beading.

The best part (other than my excellent foresight in buying this dress months in advance)?

If my luck keeps up, I might be able to make it through this summer without resorting to my bath robe.

Monday, January 28, 2008

google makes me happy

As we all know, trying to manage all the little details of a wedding can get a little overwhelming. Miss Hydrangea shared her secrets to keeping her sanity. Here are mine. And I know how nerdy I am about to sound, but apparently being nerdy has become the new cool.

Before Jake proposed, I loved my Gmail account. I would tell everyone about how they needed to get out of whatever tired email account they had because Gmail rocked. Then, as we started talking guest lists, booking appointments with vendors and reading mass amounts of wedding blogs, I realized that my love for Google went beyond their near perfect email system and large database of images. I don't actually mean to pick favorites, but I can't find any similar programs out there that work as well. Here are the highlights!

Google Reader
I started stockpiling bookmarks in my browser once I began to discover all the great sources for wedding inspiration on the internets. I could get into a super geeky explanation of RSS feeds, but all you really need to know is that most of your favorite blogs and websites have them. If you read sites that frequently update their content, Google can pull (via the "feed") the latest from the site and dump it into your Reader. Its all in one place. Of course Weddingbee is in my reader, but so are Chicago Tribune news headlines and Wonkette. It can keep the inspiration coming and keep you up to date on world events at the same time. There is also a way to "download" everything in your reader so that you can catch up without internet access. This is great if you have a long plane ride ahead of you and you want to catch up with your celebrity gossip blogs.


Google Docs
Google Docs are very similar to Microsoft Word applications (and you can copy and paste from one into the other), but everything is online. There are applications for spreadsheets, text (Word) documents and presentations (Power Point). You can share your documents with friends and work on the same doc simultaneously. This means that, as long as you have internet access and a computer, you have access to all your files. This also means that you, your fiance, your parents and his parents can all have access to the guest list and seating charts. You won't need 25 versions of the same list floating around while you try to collect correct spellings of names and mailing addresses. This is assuming that all of these individuals are somewhat tech savvy, but lucky for me this hasn't been a problem.

Google Calendar

This is my favorite. Its also a little reminiscent of a Microsoft program (Outlook), but is again a little more transportable. Jake and I each have a Google Calendar and we share access with each other. This means that I can look at his calendar before scheduling cake tasting appointments and I can double check to make sure that said appointment is actually on his calendar. I sent him a scheduling request for our wedding last night- it was kind of exciting! This has been incredibly helpful in keeping my life organized since I have never had a healthy relationship with a day planner. I set it up so that Google sends me a text message 15 minutes before any appointment. Since I can save all the important info in the appointment (addresses, phone numbers, etc), it also keeps me from getting too lost en route.

I hope this helps anyone trying to keep their head on straight (in wedding planning or otherwise)!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

pretty things for rings, part II

Like quite a few other people, I fell in love with the Scarlet Alley orb.

I hesitate to even post that picture as they have stopped making the orb and this might provoke frustration and frenzied ebay searching.

Since the orb is out, I have been looking for a pretty little something to hold my rings while I am getting ready in the morning or while I am writing papers. Currently, I take it off and leave it on the sink, on my notebooks, in my makeup bag... I am totally asking for it. I need a dedicated spot for my ring or I know I am going to lose it.

I dug around on etsy and in my Google reader and found a few fun options.

You can customize your message on these little bowls from Etsy seller palomasnest


from Etsy seller JDWolfePottery


The Loyal Loot Log Bowl from Rose and Radish
Michael Aram Lotus Dish

Any other good ideas for keeping your ring safe?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

white house weddings

So, you know that section in US Weekly entitled, "Stars, They're Just Like Us!"? (Anyone else claim gossip rags as a guilty pleasure? No?) Well, sometimes they ARE! One of Bush twins has announced her wedding date. Jenna Bush and her fiance, Henry Hager, will be married on May 10th at the family's Texas ranch. There will also be a lovely bridal shower at the White House this weekend. I wonder where she is registered...


I find this exciting because the President's family kind of plays the role of American royalty. I don't think Jenna's wedding will be reminiscent of Princess Diana's- Westminster Abbey and the ranch in Crawford don't seem to have a lot in common- but there still seems to be something kind of magical about it. I did a little digging around for some other White House weddings and was pleased to find an entire website dedicated to first child nuptials. There haven't been that many of them, so we will be able to witness a little history come May. Did you know that Grover Cleveland was elected as a lifelong bachelor and got married while in the White House? It reminds me of that Michael Douglas and Annette Bening movie.

Here is Luci Johnson at her 1966 wedding. Although that tower of cake might be distracting, be sure to note the bridesmaids attire. Are they wearing bright pink veils?


Lynda Bird Johnson caught her sister Luci's bouquet and was married the following year. I love this photo of her and her new husband.

Miss Shortcake already wrote about Tricia Nixon's 1971 wedding. She apparently dropped the long sleeve tradition.


Although I bet the Bush ranch is gorgeous, it would have been fun to see photos of another wedding at the White House!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

fun things for rings

I saw these adorable pin cushions on Heather Bailey this morning and I thought they would make adorable ring pillows.

I love buttons and I have been looking for little ways to sneak them in since it doesn't actually fit into my theme. She includes a link to the instructions and after some minor adjustments, it should be pretty easy to make these the appropriate size. Just add some ribbon around the button to hold the rings and you are ready to go. I have been thinking that I will use fake rings just to ease my nerves that day. My little soon-to-be nephews are very trustworthy, but who knows what kind of crazy shenanigans might take place as they are waiting to walk down the aisle.

I also love this ring pillow from Chicago knottie KatVon as featured on Style Me Pretty.

Flowers by Anthony Gowder, photography by Dennis Lee (Mrs. Emerald's photog!)

Although I love the fresh look of these flowers, you could probably DIY this with some small silk flowers. What are those? Little mums? That fat chocolate silk ribbon is also a nice touch.

I think it might have something to do with the fact that I am a sucker for little kids with glasses, but I like Martha's ribbon ring pillow also:

She also includes some DIY instructions. Substitute in your grammy's handkerchief or a piece of your mom's veil and you have a gorgeous something old and a little pillow for your home.

Any other fun DIY ideas for ring pillows?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

sweet temptation

Tomorrow is a very exciting day. I am going to a cake tasting.

Poor Jake has to go to work while my sister (my maid of honor) and I go stuff our faces with yummy bites of cake. My first stop on the sweetness train is at take the cake.


Photos from Style Me Pretty (because take the cake's site is a stinker)

They have a lot of photos of cakes with delicate, soft details that I love. I don't really want anything that has a big POW of color. An off-white cake like that first one with that big sugar ribbon wrapped around it, and the ends meeting at that gorgeous flower.

I was able to give take the cake a little test run at a wedding show that I attended last weekend. My mom, sister and I tried a few little cupcakes- vanilla with whipped vanilla frosting, chocolate with chocolate ganache filling and chocolate frosting and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Verrrry tasty. I could have skipped the fancy lunch and just ate cake and drank champagne all afternoon. On another note, I am totally done with those shows. No matter how fancy it is, you are still paying to walk into an advertising trap. Anyone with me?

I also plan on spending some time with the Cake Girls, the Turano boys and at the Sugar Syndicate and Bittersweet. The Cake Girls are pretty much the cake queens of Chicago and apparently their talent has been recognized by FoodTV. They couldn't book a tasting with me until April because they are going to have their own show- like Duff!

My favorite Cake Girls cake, although it was tough to pick...

Any other recommendations for cake bakeries in Chicago?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Martha Experience

Firstly, let me mention that Martha's wedding show is on tomorrow (Friday)... check your local listings and then tivo it because you are probably at work whenever it is on.

Jake and I were one of the lucky few engaged couples (along with Miss Lovebird) who won tickets to Martha Stewart's wedding show. Martha is cool and everything, but really I have a huge crush on Darcy Miller. She has an insanely cool job- she and Reem Acra are on a first name basis- and she does it so well. I think she might have my dream profession, if the whole grad school thing doesn't work out.

Anyway, we got to the studio about 2 hours before the doors opened. I was expecting a huge group to get there early, even though it was COLD out. I was right- there were about 30 women waiting to get in- all women. Jake gave me a loving "if this is what I think it is, you are in for a lot of trouble" look and I just meekly smiled. Uht oh. Where were the grooms?! The email said that you had to be part of a couple. Then I caught the sign on the door... that was the Tyra line. Martha was down the block. Close call.

Once we reached our true destination, we realized that we were the first to arrive. Yay! The two hours between our arrival and our entrance into the studio felt like an eternity, particularly when I was no longer able to feel my toes. A front row seat made me feel much better. Yay for being first in line! The show was obviously fabulous and I was thisclose to Darcy and was even able to pick up on some floral tips that she was giving the bride seated behind us (those with "friends in the show" got some one on one time). Badgley, Mischka and all their models sauntered past us (lotsa bling) and Wendy Kromer talked about her and Martha's new wedding cakes book. Darcy spent some time on how to personalize your wedding and then she and Martha showed off her new line of Wedgwood china. Oooooh, ahhhh.... mmmmm....

We ended making our day a talk show extravaganza with sweet seats at David Letterman. We have a friend in the show ;) Unfortunately, that didn't score us any private time with Mr. Letterman, but we did get some free t-shirts!

Here are some photos from our very exciting day. No pictures from Letterman- they will kick you out for those kinds of shenanigans!

First in line! If you are going to fly in from Chicago, you best go big

Front row! Watching the madness as they decide to scrap some kind of lamp segment

My most favoritest Martha cake ever

Martha had an emergency at her apartment, so she left Darcy behind for the Q&A

Darcy telling the audience that you can never register for too much china

Let me know what you thought of the show!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Me on TV!

Want to see the real, live me? I will be broadcasting on Weddingbee's BeeTV Thursday night at 7 EST (6 Chicago time).


Come chat so that I am not just talking to myself the whole time! We can talk flowers, vendors, paper, significant other's not picking up his dirty socks, whatever is on your mind :)

Pretty Little Lavender Cones

I fell in love when I saw these on Something Old, Something New:

I hadn't really thought about the post ceremony "throw something at the bride and groom" part. I have seen fun pictures of bubbles, ribbon wands and sparklers, but nothing really caught my attention. These lavender cones have gotten me thinking. They are an environmentally friendly option. They also smell really wonderful. Lavender is one of my most favorite scents. It is just so organic and relaxing. I would love to be surrounded by this as I walk down the aisle. I wonder how it would photograph when tossed. Has anyone seen this done?

Here is a link to the DIY instructions and a spot to buy the lavender.

Love Transforms

I love all the fun new stuff at Poppytalk Handmade! The theme this month is Love Transforms and the shop is full of valentine and wedding related items. If you were looking for a little wedding related art or some fun handmade favors, here you go!


sarah parrot


inkylivie

enfin, la voila! (not wedding related- but a gorgeous peacock, no?)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

27 Dresses Premiere Extravaganza

I'm not sure if its my wedding brain, that awesome Regina Spektor song playing during the preview or my crush on Katherine Heigl, but I am very excited to see the movie 27 Dresses.



Those dresses look AWESOME... as does James Marsden. Whoever is producing 27 Dresses is teaming up with Palm and the Princess Project to collect your old (no older than 2002) bridesmaids dresses. The first 27 people to show up at the screening with your entry ticket and a bridesmaid dress will receive a Palm smartphone. The phone doesn't get me as excited as the special screening and donating a few old bridesmaid and formal dresses. I have been wanting to donate to the Glass Slipper Project but somehow I keep missing their events. Has anyone else donated a dress to a program like this? Did you have a good experience?

Monday, January 7, 2008

An Offbeat Wedding

A friend of mine, who is an amazing but not professional photographer, took these lovely photos of her friends after their Chicago courthouse wedding.




Notice the lack of white dress, tuxedo and bouquet. They are married and in love and it is so beautiful! I can't wait to celebrate with my friends and family, but it is nice to have a little reminder- when we get stressed about the wedding party, the flowers or the favors- of what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fun with a Laser Gun

Jake and I started our registry on Friday night. Although you wouldn't guess from looking at our kitchen, Jake loves to cook. There are just a few pots and pans, gadgets and utensils. Our knives are bad news. Every tool does double and triple duty. Because of this, we have been looking forward to registering for awhile. We weren't totally sure of what we were doing, but we did have a few rules:

1) If we have it and its in good condition, we don't need another one.
2) If we have never thought, "gee, I could really use a xxx," we don't need it. This came in handy with the ice cream maker/waffle iron/cappuccino maker
3) We don't need the most expensive version of anything. We made a small exception with the Kitchenaid mixer.
4) Just because an item is on the handy list of "things you should register for," it doesn't mean that we need it in our home.

Perusing the china patterns. Snooze.

Registering was kinda weird. I don't normally ask for gifts, other than when I was 12 and I handed a Christmas list to my mom. It was easy to keep things to a minimum when we considered who would read our lists and buy wedding gifts for us. The most fun part of the experience was wandering around the store, talking about what our new kitchen will look like and what kind of fun things we could make with some gadget. A lot of the conversation was "wouldn't it have been nice if we would have had that for the deep dish pizza you made the other night?" or "man, I wish Anthropologie had a better registry!"

Jake and "the lists"

After we got tired of wandering the store and had made a list of the things to add via the internets, we had pizza and wine at a fun new place in the Chicago's River North neighborhood. We went over our lists- the "what you should register for" list and the "what you did register for list." They didn't match perfectly, which made us happy. Mission accomplished, and we had fun together while we were at it.

Any other good tips that I left out?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Everybody on the Trolley!***

Hiring a trolley for your wedding day transport has become pretty ubiquitous in Chicago. All the knotties are talking about trolley rates, tipping your driver and whether or not to buy the "wedding decor" package which includes some tulle and a "Just Married" sign.

photo from flickr

I am usually a little hesitant to go for something that is so popular. I like to do my own thing. The basic outline of my wedding is pretty traditional, but I like to think that the little details are all my own. I had a hard time deciding on my wedding day transportation. I wanted to invite all the members of our large-ish wedding party, their dates and our parents to join us on the photo tour. I needed something to take us around for pictures before the ceremony and then take the wedding party (or whoever can fit!) from the church to the reception site. My options were a trolley, bus or some ginormous limo. The trolley sounded like the best choice, as there are all kinds of fun photos you can take both inside and outside of the trolley.

photo from flickr

Some trolley companies (including ours) will allow you to bring a cooler of snacks and beverages on board, so its pretty much a party on wheels. Woohooo! San Francisco has the real deal running day and night, but for some reason Chicago decided to create a fleet of knock-offs and I love it!

Did anyone else use a (somewhat) unique method to transport their wedding party or guests around?


***As much as I enjoyed my "i heart blah blah" title naming pattern, it has really been annoying me when the posts are carried over to Weddingbee. What do you all think?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

i heart getting crafty

Santa brought me a tool kit for some of my little craft supplies. Santa noticed that I kept losing my xacto knife while making Christmas cards and got a little worried about me. I couldn't fit everything in there, but I was able to pack away all the little embossing powders, stamps and pens that I ALWAYS lose.

The rest is divided up between this storage container and those shopping bags. Craft supplies + trying to sell your condo= desperate need for organization. I'm still working on it.


Santa also worked hard to find a Gocco (PG-11). It has been sitting on our family room floor scaring me for a few days, but I finally busted it open this morning and I have started thinking about my save the dates. I can't wait to play with it! Who else has a PG-11 and wants to teach me how to use it?

i heart our honeymoon options

Jake's job has had him traveling all over the place in the past year. It has been tough on us as it means lots of time apart and trying to maintain our relationship via phone calls and emails. Whenever we start feeling down about it, we remember all the American Airlines and Marriott points that he is racking up and we feel a little better. He was smart to become loyal to an airline and hotel early on rather than having points all over the place. Jake realized a few months ago that Marriott has a few all-inclusive resorts, which means that we can use his points for the hotel, the food and the mai tais. Yes kids, we will be going on a virtually free honeymoon.

Winter has hit Chicago hard, so what better time to start fantasizing about tropical locations? Due to our school schedules, we will be taking our honeymoon one year from now- a few months after the wedding. Here are our favorite options:

Aruba
We would stay at the Renaissance Aruba at the Marina. The Marina and its pool are kid-free which, although we love kids, is kinda nice when you're on your honeymoon. The Renaissance also has a private island off of Aruba which is supposed to be gorgeous... although several reviewers on TripAdvisor mentioned that there is a bit of a lizard problem. Jake's sister and brother-in-law are going there in April so we are looking forward to their review.

Curacao

I'm sorry, I know I am missing the pretty little swoosh under the c, but I don't know how to type it! This was Mrs. Onion's honeymoon spot. We would stay at the Renaissance Curacao, which is still under construction. I don't know a lot about it, but Mrs. Onion gave the island a great review and the photos are gorgeous. Its also kind of unique in that it doesn't attract a ton of US tourists.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts Marriott Resort had the best reviews on TripAdvisor out of all our favorites. This is your typical Caribbean resort. It seems to have lots of yummy restaurants and fun activities. We probably wouldn't need to leave the resort... which sounds very nice.

Costa Rica
This is the Los Suenos Marriott. I love that picture. I can't stop staring at it. I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica. It seems like there is so much to do with all the wildlife and gorgeous land. A friend of mine spent the summer in Costa Rica (traveling rotation for med school, luck girl) and she raved about it.

Did anyone else go the all-inclusive route? Did you enjoy it or did you want to get out on the town? Also, has anyone stayed at any of these resorts?
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