Friday, October 30, 2009

the big two killed my baby (read: making my wedding awesome)

Early on in this magical/tedious process called wedding planning, my fiance and I talked about our priorities -- what we liked about weddings, what we wish was better at weddings, and what we could totally do without. It has been so so helpful using that as a basis for our budget.

Our first priority was the music. The very first vendor I booked was the DJ, long before I signed a contract for our venue. I seriously heart dancing. If there's a live band playing somewhere, anywhere, I'm up dancing to it. If a store has good music, I'm shaking my butt. When I'm riding the Metro, I bob my head and do this weird finger pointing dance (especially if it's the intro for "Gold Digger"..). Mr. D isn't quite like that, but he'll get his groove on too! So, while I have no shame dancing to anything, most people do. They get all awkward and just sort of stand there -- it's sad really. Therefore, a killer DJ was needed.

I found The Flashdance through blogs. It's a collaboration between Michael Antonia, aka The Human Jukebox, photographers Max Wanger, and Jesse and Whitney from Our Labor of Love. I had been reading Weddingbee for a few months when Mrs. Meatball posted about her DJ. After I saw his videos, I was hooked.

how to make it hype pt. 2 from Michael Antonia on Vimeo.

Unfortunately, he was also local to LA. My wedding is in Indiana. Clearly it was hopeless.

Oh ha, it wasn't. We exchanged a few emails and I realized I could make it work in our budget, as long as I eliminated low priority stuff (like silly favors). This is also where having a small wedding becomes fortuitous: your budget just goes a lot further and you can do crazy stuff like fly a DJ to your wedding. Totally. My only concern now is how I'm going to get down and dirty in a big ass dress.

The second priority was photography. Ever since I read "Camera Lucida" by Roland Barthes, I've had a new, amazing respect for photography, not perfect pictures. I've written a few scholarly essays on this subject, so before this paragraph get too dry and didactic -- we really searched high and low to find a photographer that embraced the realness of the day. I'm so excited about who we booked!

I found Our Labor of Love through The Flashdance. I originally had my heart set on Max Wanger, but due to some date conflicts and budget worries, that wasn't going to happen. I started searching for Bloomington-area photographers, thinking I had already used up whatever budget wiggle room I had on the DJ. They were all competent, talented people, but nothing.. fit. So on a whim I contacted OLOL. While I ultimately decided Jesse and Whitney were out of my budget, they did refer me to someone else from OLOL: Heidi. Amazingly, she was the same price as my first choice from Bloomington, but far far far more fitting for us as a couple. Her photos are so amazingly saturated. Gorgeous. Behold, the wonders of Heidi!


Now, OLOL is based in Atlanta. Another long-distance vendor. Do you think I'm insane yet? Well, Heidi is pretty nutty too, because she's going to drive with her assistant to Bloomington! I can't wait to meet this woman. Damn.

Obviously, I've had to eliminate things from the budget to make room for these talented people. I kicked favors and a limo/schmancy car to the curb. I'm printing almost all of my paper products at home on an inkjet printer. We're putting off the big honeymoon for six months. I'm doing my own make-up. These are the sacrifices. But honestly? None of them feel that way.

What are you priorities for your wedding? Are you eliminating "required" wedding items from your budget?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

putting the mini on the moon

In terms of our budget, we're reaching the end. My parents are contributing a significant amount (the majority) and are within their own set budget, which is fabulous. But there are things we felt we needed to pay for as a couple and unfortunately, we underestimated a few of them. This leaves our honeymoon in a bit of a limbo.

Since we're getting married in June, tropical beach locales aren't going to be so refreshing - they'll be humid and hot. We originally wanted to do an all-inclusive in Mexico, but with the lack of funds and the potentially oppressive weather, we're going to save that trip for the winter. We're disappointed, but going to the beach in the middle of January feels sooo much better than going in June.

So instead, we're figuring out a minimoon. We'll take three or four nights, relax, but not spend nearly as much. One of my favorite contendors is Palm Springs, at the Ace Hotel. It's not quite the beach, but the desert might just do!

The Ace Hotel is actually a converted Howard Johnson motel, in the desert, with a boho vibe. Looking pretty swank!

The idea is to save our super-luxe honeymoon lounge on the beach all day experience until the big one next winter. So we may rough it in Palm Springs. We still have other options to explore, though, and I'll definitely be sharing them!

Are you considering doing a mini-moon?

Monday, October 26, 2009

the reception venue

I've avoided this subject for a bit because it's the only part of the wedding with which I'm a little disappointed. We were originally supposed to have the reception here:

neal marshall black cultural center

Or, more specifically, here, minus the chairs:


Lovely, yes? The windows are amazing. I felt like it was a room that could take nearly any decoration.

Unfortunately one of the downsides of getting married on a campus is not every facility is truly equipped to handle a wedding reception. The coordinator here lost my original date request and refused to draw up a contract. He said he didn't "do" deposits. Well, a few months later and a nightmare or two about losing the room, we called him again. He had upped the room rate considerably and proclaimed that there was no dancing, as of last week when he got the floors cleaned.

Um, what?

So I had to move and I had to move fast. My caterer, who handles all of the rooms at the Indiana Memorial Union, offered what she could: the Frangipani Room and the University Club.

The University Club is a small-ish room (unfortunately can't find a reasonably-sized photo), that's fairly stuffy. There's a lot of wallpaper and red furniture, which doesn't jive with me. It's a cool room, but not right for my wedding.

Which only leaves the Frangipani:

This is by no means my ideal. At all. But it has a contract, dancing, and a non-flakey coordinator. For my sanity, a pretty reception room was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

But it's not all hopeless. IU has a gorgeous campus and the ceremony site is lovely. We'll get amazing outdoor shots and the photographer can just take those pretty detail shots :)

the IMU

Did you make any sacrifices in your wedding for the sake of sleeping at night? 

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I took a whirlwind day trip to New York yesterday - it was my first time there and completely wedding un-related.

After a long bus ride back, a lot of oversleeping, and copious amounts of caffeine, I attempted some DIY this morning that involved minor sewing. Let's just say I didn't have the stamina for that project.

Home-made prize ribbons-1, Diorable-0.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

save the date

I'm already experiencing some bouts of insomnia over this wedding, but luckily, it makes me pretty productive. Last night while Mr. D slumbered, I drafted our save the dates in Illustrator. I'm by no means talented with this program, but I do know how to trace with the pen. Here's the first attempt:

I better explain what exactly is going on here.

I wanted to do the ever-popular silhouettes of us, but decided I wanted to up the quirk factor. People that know me, know that I love poodles, big standard poodles. My parents have a real one; I fake it with a ceramic one. Mr. D, on the other hand, is obsessed with cars, particularly foreign-made insanely expensive ones.

So I decided to make silhouettes of the things we love: poodles and Aston Martins. And in terms of first drafts, I quite like this.

How are you saving the date?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My dress is meant to have a ribbon sash. There's been a lot of tension between my mom and I regarding this. I've wanted a black ribbon since August. She wants pink or peach. We both agreed grosgrain was the way to go.

Well I just spied this on the Martha Stewart Weddings blog.

Tulle (maybe organza) ribbon?? WHAT? Who thinks of that? Oh right, Vera Wang.

I'm loving every second of it and will absolutely have this. It looks like a pretty cinch-y DIY too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

our caterer

We're getting married on our college campus. Since I'm planning from a few states away, I decided early on that I wanted to centralize as much of the process as possible and thus decided to use the on-campus catering service. With that service comes an events coordinator that seriously knows her stuff. She'll be handling all of the annoying reception decor that I DIY, like seating cards, menus, candy buffet, etc. At the last meeting I had with her, a bride dropped off a mountain of crap (beautiful crap!), so I'm feeling great about her role.

But certainly, the thought of a campus catering service doesn't make you want to crash my wedding. I get that. But here's the menu for our buffet reception:

Cocktail hour
Sautéed Crab Cake on Toast with Rémoulade
Shaved Peppered Sirloin of Beef with Roasted Red Peppers On Pita Chip
Garlic Hummus on Cucumber Slice
Shrimp Shooter

Mesclun Salad with Belgium Endive, Dried Cherries, Toasted Almonds, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Breast of Chicken Stuffed with Spinach and Boursin Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
Oven Roasted Salmon with Fresh Fruit Salsa
Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes
Green Beans and Red Peppers
Melange of Seasonal Vegetables

"Finishing touches"
Truffles, Assorted Petit Fours and Chocolate Covered Fruit
Assorted beverages, open bar (four hours)
Wedding cake
Champagne toast

Now all of that is within one stupidly affordable package.  It's not a super posh menu, but it's a yummy one all the same.

Did you go on a foodie trek for a caterer or did you take the easy, but still nom-able, option?

Friday, October 16, 2009

get that man a suit

When we started discussing suiting for Mr. D, "investment" was a term thrown around a lot.  We both agreed it should be pretty classic, black, and tailored to perfection. We envisioned something so exquisitely crafted, it could be a tux substitute.

Well then we realized our budget was a little more conservative, that the wiggle room we built in for this kind of purchase got wiggled out for other vendors. So the new quest was to get something under $500.

We went to a Nordstrom suiting department just to get a lay of the suit land. We got really valuable and free advice: Mr. D should be wearing a smaller sized jacket. Hooray.

So last week I got the email from J.Crew: 20% off your entire purchase. Stirred to action, we started looking over the options at J.Crew. The cuts are classic, the wool is a nice quality, and the price with the discount was something I could deal with. Mr. D ultimately opted for the Ludlow in black.. and it arrived today!

(Please disregard his shirt and tie - I made him put the suit on when he got home from work, poor guy couldn't even put on a real shirt)

It still needs to be tailored and he will perhaps tie his shoes on the wedding. Picture it with french cuffs and a satin black tie. Total snazz.

Did you opt to buy a suit or do you have other plans?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

more color inspiration, too

Last Christmas Mr. D got me a very appropriate gift.

It's pretty basic information, but gosh it looks pretty sitting on my desk. This is probably where my need to have black in the wedding came from. But then I spied another book, not yet in my collection.

Lovely, yes? The pink of that book cover is such perfection. But wait, there's more!

Trying to properly express my color love, I googled around for a floral pattern I could wreck in Photoshop. At first I made the above. And then I discovered Dorothy Draper wall paper (ok, confession, every time I start tying Dorothy Draper I want to write Betty. ugh)

Again, I fooled around with the pattern in Photoshop, trying to achieve some semblance of a color scheme. There's still too much blue here for my tastes (I want it to be a pop, not a common thread) and I don't think I've hit the peachy hue I want either.

Will I succeed in expressing my wedding color scheme in a single floral pattern? And will I share a simple tutorial of how to manipulate patterns in Photoshop to achieve such a feat? Maybe.

another mood board, of course

100 layer cake went ahead and made a color board with my name all over it. They're calling it sweet and sassy, I'm calling it hot french..hotness.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

giant pink flower = always great

What a gorgeous reception hair piece from - a little steep in the price area, but the flowers are vintage! I suddenly have the urge to run out and buy a bunch of hot pink organza.

wowza wedding

So I get home from work, starving as usual and waiting for Mr. D to get home and make me something (oh heck yes I'm that lazy). It was a good time to check up on my blogs.

Well thank you Style Me Pretty for featuring a wedding that is so ridiculously gorgeous. ALL images are from Justin & Mary Marantz Photography.

Seriously. I. DIE.




Obviously I'm ogling all over the flowers. They're major. And that cake! What is that. It's bananas. Again, all photography is from J&M - I've died, passed on, ceased to be, expired, met my maker.

So let's just mentally swap the silver containers for gold ones and call it a day. I'll take it all.

Monday, October 12, 2009


When we started discussing the possibility of getting married, I jumped right into ring shopping. After quickly realizing the price of diamonds, I switched tracks to gemstones.

A brief caveat: it really wasn't about blood diamonds and being green - that's just how it turned out. But those are two bonuses of getting an estate ring.

Meet the aquamarine. It's a charming little gemstone that happens to look great with baby diamonds. And you can get 4+ carats for the price of .25 carat diamond. Yeah I went there.

It's been 1.5 years since we did this research and shopping so I don't remember every detail and ring I looked at. So instead, I'll share my sources!

This site has an enormous amount of estate jewelry, especially aquamarines.

You can find a nice variety of new designs that feature gem stones, like this pretty thing:

Not much suspense, but this is where Mr. Diorable eventually bought my ring. Oh yes, we bought my engagement ring off the internet. We're those people. 

The service was ridiculously good. They didn't have exactly what I was looking for featured on the site, so be sure to ask them what else they have - that's how I found my ring. The shipping went off without a hitch, but that was not the mark of their great service. About a month after I moved to DC, I was loading something into the trunk of our car and somehow smashed my ring. A prong bent and the stone fell out.

Word. The stone fell out. I eventually found the stone (hooray) but the ring looked truly mangled. We called Bela Dora, explained the situation, and they fixed the ring for free. Yay.

So without further ado, my engagement ring:


Did you get an unusual ring in an unusual place?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

love for all

A right delayed is a right denied.

Friday, October 9, 2009

too adorable for words

100 layer cake posted this fabulous vintage wallpaper project. Definitely worth looking at, if only to feel woefully inadequate as a crafter!

Also, here's a question I've always wondered about envelope liners: how do you insure someone sees it, i.e. opens the flap, doesn't cut it with a letter opener - the way one typically opens a letter? This has been stumping me since I saw my very first envelope liner tutorial..

dorothy draper

Lovely, clear colors have a vital effect on our mental happiness.
- Miss Dorothy

Obvious statement of the day: I love pink. It's endlessly cheerful, pretty, sometimes even a little ridiculous. While I knew I wanted pink to be the main color of the wedding, I also knew I wanted to pair it with something to make it feel a little more unexpected.

I don't know when I stumbled upon Dorothy Draper's interiors, but it was love. Serendipitously, she is also a purveyor of pink.

So what about her interiors are so inspiring?

Stripes! This is actually one of her more subdued rooms, but the stripes are whimsical and striking. I have plans for stripes in the wedding invitations.

This is a great room for one major reason - pattern mixing. We have oversized stripes, a patterned carpet, and a floral couch. And do I spy some hot pink in the background?  Oh my yes.

Seeing these images helped me arrive at my current palette. Blush pink, hot pink, black, gold, and an accent of aqua. Gold and pink is so very vintage glam, but the aqua keeps things lively. It also matches my ring!

Did you happen upon your color story in an usual way or place?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

how we got here

Mr. Ribbons and I met in May at the end of my third year of undergrad. It was going into the summer term and I had been accepted as an opinion columnist on the college paper. He was the opinion editor. Scandalous!

After some gchat flirtations, we started dating. We weren't attached at the hip that summer because he was finishing courses to graduate, but it was just sort of lovely being with someone that was on the same level as me. I had come out of a relationship with someone who had major commitment problems, so it was nice to learn from that and be a better person for Ribbons.

By July we started to plan a trip, where I would drive back with him to Maryland and fly back to Indiana in time for the fall semester. I think it was then that we were starting to acknowledge we saw a future in the relationship. Two semesters later, he flew in for my graduation (there were visits in between don't worry!)

I won't pretend that the proposal was a surprise, a shock, or anything like that. I helped pick out the ring - I'll share that story later - and pretty much knew he would ask sometime before I moved to DC. However, I didn't expect him to get too excited and ask me the night before I graduated, when we were in bed! (It was very g-rated, worry not).

It's not an amazing proposal story and it's a little embarrassing to tell to family. So we lie. Yes. We tell people he proposed at this gazebo on campus.

Sometimes, after being plied with alcohol, the truth may slip out of me with a lot of giggling. I think the real story is very us -- we're tragically lazy. But compared to all of the amazing proposal stories in the blog world, it seems..quaint.

Have you ever embellished your proposal story?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

florists make me happy

I just got off the phone with a florist, who made me sound like the most stylish, pulled-together bride ever. We talked about my desire, nay, need, for a pink peony bouquet, ideas for a mix of centerpieces, vintage vases, oh it goes on.

Thank god she's a peony enthusiast too. My obsession stems mostly from how much they remind me of home. My mom has a giant peony bush, so seeing/smelling them sends me back to early summer days in Indiana, when I was a wee lass. Aye! So having them at my wedding is a must.

We also talked hostas. Again, mom has a ton of hostas. I think they look amazing as greenery, so we'll be using those as well. I'll leave you with some inspiration, while I wait for a quote that might give me some sort of cardiac event.




the mighty dress search, part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The tally on dresses that were just beyond, in the immortal words of Rachel Zoe? 2.

I wasn't ready to give up still. I had the J.Crew and it was fine. But I knew there was a whole world made of tulle out there and I just needed to find its discount aisle.

Again, bless the blogs. I was just doing my normal reading when Miss Perfume of Weddingbee mentioned one of her sample dress sources:

I combed the entire site for the Two, but they weren't there. After reading a description of another Vera though, there was hope: it was from the Vera Wang store in Chevy Chase, i.e., where I found the marvel of perfect poof. I signed up for the email notifications and then largely forgot about it.

A few weeks later an email appeared. New Designer Styles, it said. I looked around the office for hoverers (we don't have cubes, shudder), and followed the link. I clicked over to the Vera Wang section and scrolled down ever so slightly... what is this? MY dress?

And the price! A MERE $300 more than the agreed-upon dress budget (and nearly 1,000 cheaper than the store)?

I frantically called my mom. She needed to think. I went home absolutely delighted/ecstatic. The next morning she said it was obvious, as long as I agreed to pay the difference. I returned the J.Crew dress that weekend.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of me wearing it - when I visited my parents last month, I didn't think to take a picture, which saddens me. Boo.

Did you go to great lengths to find the one?

the mighty dress search, part 3

Part 1
Part 2

So there I was, owner of a J.Crew wedding gown I didn't love. At some point during this saga, my parents visited DC. But first, let me come clean:

I went to Vera Wang a few weeks after Saks. I asked to see their sample gowns and said my budget was $3,000 (fearing I wouldn't be shown anything for less than that). Amazingly enough, dresses existed in that range, albeit a range I couldn't realistically afford.

So I tried on these two dresses.

Obviously we can conclude which one I was smitten with. It was $2700. A little bit too much.

Thus when my parents were visiting to look at cherry blossoms, I dragged my mom over to the store. She agreed it was perfect and there was a brief time, maybe 30 minutes or so, where we all seriously considered purchasing it. But then we all started thinking rationally again and that was that. They left and I was Vera-less but not dress-less.

Did you have second thoughts about the dress you bought?

the mighty dress search, part 2

Part 1

No, of course I wasn't getting my dress that easily.

The seller became slow to reply and eventually admitted she wanted to keep the dress. I was heartbroken. But determined to find THE dress and completely bitten by the designer bug, I looked at my options.

This became my addiction. Everyday I'd check under Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, and Oscar de la Renta for new gowns.

Another site with used gowns, I'd check it weekly.

A month or so passed of obsessively checking these sites and I needed even more options. I was opening up the field to vintage. Vintageous became another mainstay of my browsing at work, except the really fab dresses sold out lickety-split.

I was getting antsy. Nothing was crying out to me. So I considered the old standby: J. Crew.

Enter Fontaine. I think the style has been discontinued at this point, but I saw potential. With some great accessories and perhaps a monster head piece, this could be chic.

I went to the nearest J.Crew and asked about ordering it. They said they would have it shipped to the store so I could try it on and see if I liked it (no charge). Wow. That's some amazing customer service.

After about a week the dress was at the store. They called me and I went to try it on. It wasn't an OMG LOVE moment, but I kept rationalizing to myself how I could make it work. And the price was within my ideal budget of 1500. So I bought it.

o hai old studio apartment

Perhaps not the best decision.

the mighty dress search, part 1

The first store I went to on my magical dress journey was Saks. I heard they were getting rid of the wedding departments at most of their stores, so I lunged at the chance for a sample designer gown. The DC area store was already sold out, so we ventured down to Richmond, VA.

I was allowed to pull whatever I wanted from the racks. All of the gowns were in bags so it was hell figuring out what was what and I will admit, I was looking for big name designers. I ended up with an Amsale, Carolina Herrera and who knows what else in my dressing room.

The Amsale was pretty but it didn't spark much in me. The Herrera I found by chance -- it actually looked a little scary in the bag, but I noticed the grosgrain ribbons and decided to give it a chance.

Oh. My. Lordy. It was ballgown-tastic. There is something about a giant Scarlet O'Hara skirt that just makes me die. I wanted the dress and I wanted it bad. However, once I found out the price my mood quickly changed to despair. It was a sample gown; it wasn't in perfect condition and it was still $3,000? Spending a fifth of the wedding budget made me nauseous.

I lamented on the Weddingbee boards. I was looking for validation, a "it's okay to spend that much on an imperfect but beautiful Herrera gown!" Instead I got a lead. A sleuthy Weddingbee reader had found the SAME dress listed on Craigslist. Apparently it had been bought at a Neiman sale and the seller wanted $1,000. WHAT.

I emailed the seller immediately. I started researching safe ways to make that sort of transaction. The girl sent me pictures of the dress and it looked flawless. Was this really happening? Was I getting the dress this easily, on basically my first try?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

oh, dresses

Before I start the magical series of dress posts, I must say, I have my dress.

Yes, indeed. It's currently living in my parents' guest room. In a box. A very big box.

So while I may write longingly about a particular dream dress, I have mine and there's a very happy ending. So do not fear!

Anyhow, I had started saving images of dresses before I was engaged. I was that person.

I wanted tulle. A hot tulle mess. It's romantic, ethereal, and girly and such a flipping throw back, I had to have it.

However, tulle is not very "in" these days. Mermaid and trumpet gowns are about all you can find at bridal stores. And if they have a tulle skirt, it's covered in rhinestones and beads, straight out of a Bedazzler sweatshop. I wanted simple

Oh, silly silly me.

Did you have a certain expectation for your wedding dress that made things a teense difficult?

faux make-up trial

I'm doing my own make-up for the wedding and since I can NOT wait to buy the tools, I've started playing with the look. Yes, the wedding is June. No, I don't really care. Because I'm not getting married in this area and because I love any excuse to drop way too much money at Sephora, this decision was simple.

Here's the point where I'd show you my inspiration look. I have one, I swear, I just can't find it online.. But let's just say it's sort of like this. I want to look young - because I am!

Here are the main products I worked with:



I used a sample of Nars make-up primer and some Clinique foundation, plus some mineral powder from the Boots line at Target. After all that, here was the result:

 Looking serious..

Not totally inspiring, not totally awful either. Now, one mistake was that I thought the highlighter could function as, not really. So next time I will use a peony-hued cream blush that I have and see if it perks things up.  The lipstick is, surprisingly, not as shocking as it is in the tube. I really think the matte tempers the color, to the point where I may pick up a sheer gold lip gloss to layer on top.

Are you doing your own make-up and if so, do you have a major shopping list?