Monday, December 22, 2008

Our wedding colors are ... all of them?!

This Saturday I met with a florist in Denver who I'm pretty sure will be doing our wedding! I loved Sue from the moment I saw her website. Her portfolio was vibrant and gorgeous, and she helpfully listed several sample budgets to illustrate how couples had spent floral budgets from $200 to $2500. She also had rave reviews on WeddingWire.com. I went to the meeting with high hopes and I wasn't at all disappointed!

This is the bouquet I showed her for inspiration:

Image from TheKnot.com.

I did want to make some changes -- yellow instead of orange, take out the green orchids, add some touches of blue and white. Sue gave it the thumbs up and suggested bouquets of roses, gerbera daisies, freesia, delphinium, and some white stephanotis. (Did I know what freesia, delphinium or stephanotis looked like before our meeting? No. But thankfully there were pictures!) Sue also didn't laugh at my tiny budget for centerpieces and thought it would be no trouble to fill a 4" cylinder vase with a mix of inexpensive flowers and place it on top of a mirror.


This was what I had
in mind for the centerpieces,
only with more colors!
Image from KimballFloral.com.

The rest of the meeting was a total blur. I'd only thought about centerpieces and bouquets. Boutennieres, corsages, ceremony flowers? No clue. But Sue had some wonderful ideas (she's worked at our venue before) and we pulled together a preliminary list of what everything could look like, with the understanding that it can all change between now and the wedding.

So now that I've met with the florist, it appears that the concept of "wedding colors" has more or less gone out the window, at least as far as the flowers are concerned. In the end I wasn't a monochromatic sort of girl. I'm still toying with the idea of using a slightly more muted color scheme inside the mansion -- somehow hot pink daisies feel like a mismatch with the mansion's interior. But we've got lots of time to work that out, and for now, I'm just happy to have one more vendor booked and ready to go!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Talk about bad timing!

Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of my first date with Econo Boy. We had a romantic evening in all planned: we splurged on nice cheese to make fondue, bought some champagne, put up Christmas lights around our apartment, and were ready to indulge ourselves with melty Gruyere and a bottle of Blanc des Blancs.

At 4:30 yesterday, I got a call from a woman we'll call "Janey," who works at my bridal salon.

Janey: "Good news -- your dress arrived today!"
Me: "Yay!"
Janey: "You have 2 weeks to come try it on and verify that it's what you ordered..."
Me: "Oh NO! I'm leaving tomorrow for Colorado and I won't be back until January!"
Janey: "... oh. [Clearly not thrilled, but coping.] Well, if you're going to be out of town, that's OK, when can you come in?"

So an appointment was made for January 8. And now I'm all tied up in knots, anxious to see my dress and regretting not driving to the bridal salon right away to see it, and double regretting not trying to squeeze in an appointment before I went to the airport today. Neither of these were very practical (I didn't want to be late for our last "dativersary" or cope with East Coast rush-hour traffic, and making a trip today would have been a tight fit time-wise), but I still feel like I should have tried harder.

This isn't just a case of "OMG THE DRESS is here!!" Ever since I ordered the dress, I've been a bit nervous about what it will look like in my size. The gown has a subtle trumpet shape to it, and I wasn't able to get a great idea of what the back would look like when the dress wasn't three sizes too big. I'm also nervous about whether it will fit. Yes, a professional took my measurements twice to verify that I should order the 6, but after all I'd heard about tiny bridal sizes I'd expected to order an 8 or a 10. And now I'm worried that if something is wrong with the gown in January it will be too late for me to return it.

Well, nothing to be done about it, I guess (except for stopping with the stupid obsessing -- I promise I'm trying!). I shall take the following steps to make myself feel better.

1. Call Gateaux and arrange for a cake tasting.
2. Post a picture of my dress, which I'm sure will be beautiful and will fit perfectly (once the chest is taken in to accommodate my total lack of cleavage).


La Sposa's Melodia -- I didn't order the jacket
and I'm undecided on whether I'll wear the little bow,

but otherwise it should look pretty much like this!
Image from http://nicolettecouture.com.


Happy Holidays, safe travels to everyone, and oh yeah ... Sweet T, have an amazing wedding!

Monday, December 15, 2008

On polite disagreement over the Internet

Let me be clear as I start this post: I've been really psyched by the comments people leave me on this blog! Everyone who's posted something here has been cool and thoughtful, and I haven't had a single spam post offering to enhance the size of my non-existent male anatomy. On the internet, that's pretty dang good.

So I'm not writing this because someone hurt my delicate feelings on this blog. But lately I've noticed several comments on other wedding blogs that are ... less than supportive. Think things that Regina from "Mean Girls" would write in her slam book. Things like, "You're stupid for buying into the David's Bridal 'white dress' fantasy, no wonder you don't like how you look" or "Ugh. Your invitations are lame and cheesy, and I hate cheesy." Tragically, there are many women who prove that John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory holds true for both genders: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad. (For the original illustration of this equation, visit Penny Arcade.)

To combat this phenomenon (however futile my efforts may be), I hereby present: Bride in Exile's Guide to Polite Disagreement Over the Internet.

So you've encountered a blog post, or comment on a blog post, that horribly offends your sensibilities? You're not alone. And you are almost certainly typing up a witty, scathing response to said post or comment. But before you hit "submit," I humbly suggest you take the following steps:
  • Pretend the person who wrote the blog post or comment is a real person. (This should be easy, since they are real people!)
  • Remember that we all have different tastes and different preferences, and that no one can be reasonably expected to agree with you about absolutely everything.
Then, when composing your comment:
  • Don't type anything you wouldn't say to someone's face. Instead of phrasing what you have to say in the nastiest way possible, think about what you'd say if you were sitting across from this person at a dinner table. Would you really say, "Brown and blue weddings are utterly hideous. Picking those colors shows you have no creativity" to someone in person? (If you would, uh ... I commend your blunt honesty, but don't expect to get invited to many dinner parties.) Often, the best thing to say in situations like this is nothing at all. Just because someone said their colors are brown and blue doesn't mean YOU have to like brown and blue.
  • If you can think of a gentle, polite way to express your disagreement, go for it! Honest, courteous discussion is a great thing. But something along the lines of, "I was uncomfortable with that option for X reason" or "I did Y instead of X, I think it was better because of Z" will get you much further than saying "Ugh, Option X is so cliched and cheesy."
  • If what this person has to say is so offensive that you can't possibly be polite, go ahead and leave your nasty comment ... and then go read something else. Don't be a troll. It just ratchets up your blood pressure and wastes valuable time.
So there we have it -- my advice for politely expressing disagreements of opinion. Not to get all soapboxy, but I think this is a skill we really need more of in the US. To be frank, the last thing that will convince me to vote for John McCain is being told that anyone who votes for Barack Obama clearly doesn't read newspapers. (Actual line said by someone at my grandmother's funeral. Ugh.)

Phew! OK, now to cleanse the palate, here's a gorgeous photo of a short-haired bride I just spotted on Brides.com.


As a short-haired bride myself, I'm always looking for inspiration like this -- I do want to wear a veil during the ceremony, but now I'm super-tempted to find a sparkly comb or hair clip to wear during the reception!

Belated/early Wine Wednesday

Yikes, what a week! The last week of the semester brought the end of the course I was teaching, no less than three holiday parties, and a massive headache that's still kind of throbbing in the back of my head.

As far as the wedding blogging goes, inspiration is failing me a bit. Should I write about my upcoming meeting with a very cool-sounding florist who will hopefully not laugh at my complete ignorance about all things flower-related? (I can tell a carnation from a calla lily. After that things get shaky.) Our upcoming engagement party and bridal shower? Or my frustration with invitation software and templates that don't have enough room to list divorced parents on separate lines? (I can't be the only person having this problem. Why on earth Wedding Paper Divas assumes you can always squeeze the bride's parents onto a single line is beyond me. And don't even get me started on Jean M.'s delusional belief that all you need for any invitation is 12 lines.)

Nah. Instead I'll blog about my recent wine-buying adventures, and a fantastic $8 Cabernet that's gone on the short list for wedding wines.

I recently had the delightful task of buying lots of alcohol for a holiday party, and I put a lot of thought (probably too much) into providing a well-balanced selection of wines for the guests to enjoy. (Good practice for the wedding, I figure.) After the party I was so thrilled to overhear people praising the great variety of drinks! Here was the list:
* Pillar Box White from Australia -- this is a great blend of unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. A bit sharp and citrusy for some, but Econo Boy and I love it.
* Sagta Torrontes from Argentina -- Torrontes is a great grape for fruity, slightly fuller-bodied white wines. This one was new to me, but I thought it was very nice, although not quite as good as the Las Brisas white I mentioned in my last Wine Wednesday post.
* Smoking Loon Pinot Noir from California -- an old standby, light and drinkable, a great inexpensive wine.
* Wishing Tree Shiraz from Australia -- I'm not a big fan of Shiraz, I find it too heavy, but Econo Boy assures me this is a balanced and pleasant one.
* Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile -- a home run! Spicy and dry, just like a good Cab should be in my book. And at $8 a bottle it's a huge steal. My friends who've been urging me to drink more South American wine are on to something!


I did, however, learn a lesson: buy half red and half white. I did 2/3 red & 1/3 white, and by the end of the party the white was almost gone while we still had plenty of red. For a July wedding, we might even consider buying slightly more white than red. (Now how am I going to explain this to my white-loathing father? Maybe if I promise no Rieslings ...)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dude, labels are, like, everywhere

I must be kind of psychic or something. Very shortly after posting about how I was refusing to use labels for our wedding invitations, I made a visit to Weddingbee and was hit with not one but two posts from brides using labels, and countless comments in support of said practice. Using computer-printed labels seems to be much more common than I thought -- in fact, it seems downright fashionable!

Image from Martha Stewart Weddings
via www.weddingbee.com.
Invitation suite by Hello! Lucky


OK, uncle, I give! I will admit it: the labels above are very, very pretty. And no, my handwritten addresses will probably not be as pretty or flourish-y as the ones people print using computer script fonts.

But somehow, I just can't see myself using labels, even ones as pretty as these. There's just something about a hand-addressed envelope that I think is kind of, well, special. Almost everything I get in the mail these days has a computer-printed label on it -- 90% of my mail is either junk mail or financial documents, pretty yawn-worthy. But when I see something that's been hand-addressed, I get excited, because I know it's a card from a family member, news from a friend, or something else out of the ordinary.

I'm not crafty; I won't be hand-weaving any tablecloths or painting any murals for our wedding. But I do love pens and paper and getting old-fashioned letters in the mail. And so come April, I'll be busting out my fountain pen, turning on some music, and addressing my envelopes by hand. Yeah, I'm a square. But I'm OK with it :-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Miss Manners and invitations

The other day, Econo Boy and I were filling addresses into our guest list on Google Docs (yes, we have a spreadsheet. Yes, we are nerds), and we returned to a topic of conversation we've discussed before: how we will be addressing the invitations.

Econo Boy: "This spreadsheet will make it so easy for me to do the mail merge when we print our invitation envelopes." (Note the sneaky tactic of pretending I've already agreed to doing this!)

Me: "Nice try. We need to hand-write the addresses. If we use the tea-length envelope, printing the address on a laser printer will make it look like junk mail."

Econo Boy: "People will know it's not junk mail. The paper is too nice."

Me: "How would we feed the envelopes through the printer? The paper's too thick and soft, the printer will chew it up. Besides, feeding the envelopes through one by one will take almost as long as just writing the addresses by hand."

I foolishly believed I had unveiled my trump card, the "we'll ruin the expensive paper and/or it won't save time" argument. Then Econo Boy uttered these words.

Econo Boy: "I have a bunch of white labels, I was just going to print the addresses on those and stick them on the envelopes."

What?! Ugly, mass-mail, laser-printed-in-Times-New-Roman white labels on our beautiful ivory, hand-milled Italian paper envelopes? I managed to control the twitch in my eye. "That would look awful and tacky and we will not be doing it," I told him primly.*

In search of support, I Googled "Miss Manners handwritten invitations," certain she would have just the right pithy sentence to explain to Econo Boy that printing address labels on a computer was not the way to go. Instead, I got a shock: apparently, our invitations will violate proper invitation etiquette before they're even addressed!

From Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, page 391:
"The world is full of nasty people who examine the backs of wedding invitations and run fingernails over the front in order to tell whether the thing was properly engraved. Miss Manners is one of them. Handwriting and engraving are equally correct; fake engraving and computer-generated fonts are imposters."
Well then!

I've always been skeptical of people who say "we're not bothering with that stuffy old 'etiquette' nonsense." Personally I'm a fan of old-fashioned etiquette. What's so awful about writing prompt thank-you notes and not treating your guests like ATMs or robots whose sole purpose is to produce presents? But I have to say, in the above passage, Miss Manners does come across as a bit behind the times, not to mention financially clueless. Engraving is incredibly expensive! Is it really "incorrect" to spend less than $10 an invitation? (Miss Manners, I'm sure, would tell me that if we cannot afford to have the invitations engraved, we ought to hand-write all of them. The mind boggles at the thought of hand-writing 102 invitations.)

So I guess our invitations will be falling somewhat short of "excruciatingly correct." But I've decided I'm OK with "mostly correct." In other words, we're still using flat printing, but Econo Boy will not be spoiling our lovely envelopes with laser-printed white labels!

Which probably means I'll be hand-addressing all 102 invitations myself. Ah well. I can pretend I'm actually DIY-ing something!

In other invitation news, I'm in love with the White Aisle's new printed vellum inserts, like this one for the Hong Kong invitation set:

Image from http://whiteaisle.com

I haven't decided yet if I'll splurge and add them to my own invites, but how pretty are they?

* Note: If you and your sweetie laser-printed labels to address your wedding invitations, and calling it "tacky" hurts your feelings, my apologies. I just prefer hand-written envelopes, and you should feel free to ignore me and my opinions as you see fit!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wine Wednesday 3: Las Brisas white

A few weeks ago, Econo Boy and I treated ourselves to a mixed case of wines. We threw in a few old favorites, but the majority of the bottles we picked were new to us -- and among the few bottles we've opened we've already found some new favorites!

On Thanksgiving, we broke out two bottles of Cabernet to go with the dinner -- our old favorite Annabella Cab and a Rodney Strong 2006 Sonoma Cab (which I thought tasted too strongly of vanilla, but was nice with the food). But my favorite Thanksgiving wine was the white we opened to serve with the appetizers: the 2007 Las Brisas Rueda white from Spain.

Image from www.thewinebuyer.com

This white is absolutely wonderful -- slightly sharp and citrusy, but not too dry, and with just enough body to stand up to the cheeses we had out for pre-dinner snacks without feeling heavy. And at $8-10 a bottle it's a great value. In fact, it's gone on the short list for wines we might serve at our wedding!

Monday, December 1, 2008

some random wedding planning observations

Is it just me, or does wedding planning come in waves? One minute I'm ignoring everything wedding-related (except for the chance to ramble on my blog), and the next it's all wedding all the time. Thanksgiving weekend definitely fell into the latter category. Between ordering the bridesmaids' dresses (which shipped today! Nice work, J. Crew!), discussing the guest list with Econo Boy's parents (more on that soon), showing off my gorgeous White Aisle invitation samples (the tea-length Blossom invitation is the front-runner), and trying to coordinate both a shower and an engagement party with the hosts of said events, I'm kinda wedding-ed out.

Here's my favorite invitation so far!
Image from http://whiteaisle.com;
click the photo to see this invitation set
on the White Aisle website.


Ah yes ... the guest list. Based on my totally scientific reading of 3 wedding magazines and various bridal blogs, it seems that the major source of stress for most wedding planners is the dreaded guest list. Econo Boy and I knew going in that it was extremely important to his parents to invite not only Econo Boy's sizeable family, but also their sizeable social circle (we both grew up in Colorado and so it's a hometown wedding for both of us).

So practically the first thing we did after getting engaged was ask both sets of parents to come up with a list of all of the people they might want to invite to the wedding. The final tally, including our own pals, was 190. Based on that number, we estimated that we'll have less than 150 guests, but we chose a venue that can hold up to 200 people so we don't have to stress about getting enough "no" RSVPs.

So we're happy, our parents are happy, it's all good, right? Well, sort of. A fair number of our married friends are horrified that we're letting our families have any say at all in the guest list. "You don't have to give in to that," they say. "It's stupid to invite a bunch of people you barely know just because your parents want them there. Trust us, we've been through this wedding thing. Your parents' friends don't belong at your wedding."

Hmmm. On the one hand, yeah, in my ideal world we'd have an expected head count closer to 80 -- I'm worried about our wedding feeling giant and impersonal. But on the other hand, this is important to our families as well, and many of our parents' friends have watched us grow up, helped us with school projects, given us graduation presents, and generally been part of that whole "takes a village to raise a child" thing. Plus, Econo Boy's parents gave us a very generous gift towards the wedding fund to ensure that inviting their big guest list won't mean everyone is eating bulk-purchased pretzels for dinner. So I'm OK with the "big tent" approach to our guest list. Not thrilled, per se, but I think everyone will be happier with this strategy.

How much say did your parents have in your guest list? Was this at all influenced by who was paying? Are we insane for throwing open the doors and letting our parents invite whoever they want, or smart for prioritizing family happiness?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am a very proud bargain-hunter

I did it! I picked a bridesmaids' dress!

Whew. That's been a long road. Initially, my "vision" was to find a nice line of bridesmaids' dresses and tell my ladies to pick anything they liked in navy. This sounded simple, but it wasn't. First off, several of the styles I liked didn't come in navy (I know - what?). Second, I'm a fabric snob. I didn't want to ask my bridesmaids to pay $200 for a dress that looked and felt like cheap polyester -- which meant most traditional bridesmaids lines (Dessy, I'm looking at you) were out of the question. Third, I wanted to find a line with at least one dress that would let the girls wear a regular bra. Nothing but spaghetti straps, halters and strapless for miles around, let me tell you.

I flirted briefly with Aria Bridesmaids, but I ordered one of their dresses to try on and just wasn't impressed with the quality. J. Crew had one cute dress in navy and was planning to sell more navy dresses in their spring collection, but was that too long to wait? Melissa Sweet and Priscilla of Boston had several cute bridesmaids' dresses but nothing that quite worked. I loved the photos on the Jenny Yoo website of their newest silk shantung collection, but was a little worried about the cost, and I wasn't in love with their particular shade of navy.

I had just made an appointment to visit the Jenny Yoo boutique in NYC when one of my frequent visits to the J. Crew bridesmaids website paid off. The dress I'd always liked, the Sophia short silk dress in navy, was on sale for $125. And when I visited the J. Crew homepage, I learned they were running a Black Friday sale ... 30% off orders over $250!

Like Miss Hot Cocoa, I hadn't planned for all of my ladies to wear identical dresses. But faced with such a great bargain, I realized that my bridesmaids would probably rather save money than pay $200 for a dress that they kind of picked out themselves but probably still wouldn't wear again. Plus, this dress was super bra-friendly (it even has lingerie straps to secure the bra under the dress!).

So yesterday I called all of my bridesmaids and got their sizes (one of the great things about ordering from J. Crew: they all owned at least 1 item of J. Crew clothing and knew their size!), went online, punched in the coupon code, and ordered the dresses! Here she is: the J. Crew silk Sophia dress in navy.


The final price? $87.50 per dress. Heck yeah! (Fellow bargain-hunters: the J. Crew sale expires at midnight EST tonight. But even if you miss out on the Black Friday discounts, there are still many cute dresses on sale at J. Crew. I often feel that J. Crew clothes are a bit overpriced, but I'll say this: when they put something on sale they mean business!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wine Wednesday 2: Cabernets

My taste in wine was (and still is) very strongly influenced by my father. We both disdain sweet wines in favor of dry, bold, complex ones -- usually reds.* I grew up hearing my dad extol the unique virtues of Cabernet Sauvignon, and I have to say I agree with him. A good Cab is hard to beat, and when I'm shopping for a special red, I often find myself heading for the Cabernet aisle.

The Annabella 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet, from Michael Pozzan, is a recent bargain find. It runs around $12-$15 a bottle, and it's wonderful -- rich, bold, and slightly fruity without being syrupy. At this price it's hard to beat.

Image from www.michaelpozzanwinery.com.

If you're going for a major splurge, on the other hand ... allow me to suggest the best Cab I've ever had. Introducing: the 2004 Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet.

Yes, I know this is the 2005 label,
but I couldn't find the 2004.
Image from shop.cakebread.com.


At $65 a bottle, this is by far the most expensive wine I've ever purchased -- and I didn't even buy it for myself! I tried it while wine-tasting with friends in Napa several years ago, and knew immediately that it was something special. A couple of months later, as my brother and I combed the wine store looking for something to give our dad for Christmas, we happened upon this. I jumped for joy and insisted that this was the one we should get him.

In January, I asked my dad how he'd liked the wine. Now, my dad has never been shy about telling us that the wines we give him are "just OK" when he doesn't like them. But this time, his eyes widened with remembered bliss. "That was probably the best wine I've ever had. It was absolutely amazing." At last! Success! We had finally managed to get something that my dad not only liked, but loved.

Despite my fondness for this wine, I've never splurged on a bottle for myself -- $65 is a bit hard to justify on our budget. But I think when I finish my PhD, I'll track down a bottle of Cakebread Cabernet to celebrate my triumph. It's that special.

* My brother, on the other hand, has somehow developed a taste for ultra-sweet Rieslings. We're not sure where we went wrong.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It begins ...

"Time to add gifts," says my Crate and Barrel registry helpfully. "There are only 7 items left on your gift registry."

"Cram it, C&B," I respond grumpily. "Just back off, we'll get to it. Someday."

Econo Boy and I recently, and very tentatively, began the process of registering for wedding gifts. 8 months out is pretty early, I think, but the process got accelerated because my maid of honor is throwing me a shower over Christmas. We're mostly doing it so we can have an excuse to bake things and play silly games, but my MOH encouraged me to build at least a small list for people who couldn't imagine showing up to a shower empty-handed. So I opened registries on Amazon.com and Crate and Barrel, and threw together a list of things I knew I could fit in my suitcase -- a digital meat thermometer, a couple of cookbooks, a butter dish, and an AeroLatte milk frother for making homemade lattes.
The amazing AeroLatte milk frother!

Putting together a registry, I realized, is weirdly tricky. Econo Boy and I will almost certainly be moving to a new state after the wedding. Will we have a house? Another apartment? A condo? We have no idea. Also in the "we have no idea" column: how much storage space our new kitchen will have and whether it will be easy or hard to transport wedding gifts to our new home. Econo Boy has applied to jobs all over the country -- this time next year, we could be almost anywhere! And it's more than likely that we'll be moving again a year or two after that when I start looking for jobs.*

"Milk frother? Meat thermometer? Potholders?! What is this?!" cries my C&B registry. "Where is the china? The crystal champagne flutes? The $400 KitchenAid standing mixer?" (The Amazon.com registry is not nearly so judgmental.)

"Give it up," I tell the registry. "In our transient state, registering for ten china place settings just doesn't make sense. Plus, we already have nice wine glasses. You'll get what we give you and be happy with it. Here, I'll add a wine decanter to make you feel better."
I decide not to tell the registry that I never wanted china in the first place. Having china just makes me nervous about breaking it. I'd rather have sturdy but affordable stoneware in pretty colors and interesting designs. And Econo Boy is opposed on principle to anything that costs more than he thinks it should. Needless to say he is not a fan of $50 plates, no matter how delicate and pretty.

The wine decanter does not appease the registry. "Why did you even bother opening me?" it asks unhappily. "If you're going to be semi-homeless wandering scholars with no use for china, why register at all?"

"We have our reasons," I tell the registry.

And, indeed, we do have our reasons. Two reasons, in fact. The first, nobler one, is to save our guests hassle. When I'm invited to a wedding, I really want to give my friends something to celebrate their union, preferably something they can use and enjoy as a couple. But I don't really want to spend an entire weekend searching every department store and cute kitchen boutique for the "perfect" gift. Registries take the guesswork out of wedding gift-giving. I can buy a coffee pot or a set of dishes for the couple knowing that it's *exactly* what they want and that they'll use it over and over again. I like that, and I know many of our guests will too.

The second reason is less noble. We want to register because we don't want people to give us things we don't want or can't use (follow the link for an advice column from Tomato Nation on this dilemma). Of course, this may happen whether or not we register for anything. Every family has some variation on Crazy Aunt Phyllis who will give you life-sized hand-decorated lawn flamingos no matter what you put on your wish list. But I think the risk that anyone will try to get us a 40-pound crystal punch bowl or a giant tie-dyed painting of jazz musicians does go down a bit if our loved ones see that our registry is small and filled with easily-transportable items.

Did you register for gifts? Was your registry tiny like ours, or bigger and more traditional? As a guest, do you prefer shopping from a registry? Or do you like selecting something more personal?


* Assuming, of course, that there are jobs, and that anyone wants to hire me. This economy is really depressing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wine Wednesday 1: Cline Cellars Viognier

I've decided to try out a new semi-regular feature on this blog. Introducing: Wine Wednesdays!

This may seem weird in a blog about wedding planning, but it's actually not entirely unrelated. Econo Boy and I spend a wonderful, romantic weekend together in Sonoma visiting various wineries, and ever since we've had a blast trying new wines together. (I even bought a wine log app for my iPod touch that lets me keep a database of everything we try and how much we like it.)

Because it's something we enjoy so much as a couple, we really want to put together a special wine list for our wedding. One of my requirements of our venue was that they let us bring our own alcohol so we could do exactly that. So really, Wine Wednesday is just as much a part of the planning process as me complaining about bridesmaids' dresses. :-)

A few disclaimers before we get started:
  1. I am not a wine expert. I do not pretend to be a wine expert. I enjoy wine, I try lots of different ones, but I have a long way to go in my "wine education" before I know the right vocabulary to describe the tannins in a Cabernet. (If you want a real expert take, read the Wall Street Journal's fabulous Tastings column, written by the dynamic married duo of Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.)
  2. The vast majority of wines I will talk about cost under $15 a bottle. I may mention some of the really special wines we tried and bought on our trip to Sonoma, but in general this is our poor-grad-student price range for wine.
  3. Special mention will go to eco-friendly wines by sustainable producers or small wineries.
All right! On to our first selection for Wine Wednesday: the Cline Cellars 2007 Viognier.


It took me a while to start enjoying white wines. I blame California Chardonnay for this failing. 90% of the wines you'll be served at parties are Chardonnays, and many of them are too oaky, too buttery, too heavy, or too sweet. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you get the ultra-sharp, ultra-dry whites that taste like paint thinner. Ick.

The Cline Cellars Viognier, which Econo Boy and I tried together in Sonoma, was the white wine that opened my eyes. This wine is fruity and refreshing, but not overly sweet. It's light and crisp without being too thin or dry. I could see myself drinking it at a barbeque on a hot summer day, serving it at a dinner party with spicy Mexican food, or sipping it all on its own just because I felt like a glass of wine.

Best of all? It's reasonably priced. The vineyard sells it for $16 a bottle. It's a bit hard to find outside of California (Cline is a fairly small vineyard), but if you see it on the shelf in your local wine store, snap it up. Trust me, you'll thank me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I have a secret ...

I've tried to keep my secret quietly so I don't hurt anyone. But I can't take it anymore. I have to confess.

I hate wedding cakes.

There, I said it!

I hate how over-decorated they are. I hate how they get gunked up with flowers and ribbons and pearls (PEARLS?!) and icing in colors that no sensible human being would actually consume. I hate how they're made in cutesy ridiculous shapes. Let me give you some examples:


Images from Brides.com.

See what I mean? The bright blue icing! The squiggly metallic gold flowers! The elaborate shape! The $1000+ price tag! Aaargh!

Please don't confuse this with a hatred for cakes in general. I actually love cake. If I could figure out how to live on nothing but cake, believe me, I'd do it. My dislike for wedding cakes comes in part from the fact that they look nothing like real cakes. They're pretty, and there's clearly a lot of hard work and talent that goes into a cake like the ones above, but they don't make my mouth water like a real cake should. Generally speaking, they also taste nothing like real cakes. Fondant is pretty, but taste- and texture-wise it's the work of the devil.

My dislike for wedding cakes also won't prevent us from having cake at our wedding. I think what Econo Boy and I will do is order 1 or 2 sheet cakes for the caterers to serve, and then have a smaller two- or three-tiered cake for cake-cutting purposes. My dream cake would probably look like a cross between these two -- simple and yummy-looking, and decorated with lush summer berries. And buttercream icing only -- NO FONDANT!

Images from www.gateauxpastries.com. Gateaux
is a Denver-based bakery and will definitely be one of
my cake-tasting stops this December!


Am I insane? Am I a cake-hating philistine with no style or taste? Or am I just a purist, yearning for a simpler time when wedding cakes looked and tasted delicious rather than being contorted into elaborate dessert sculptures? I leave the verdict to you. Also, if you haven't already, check out the hilarious blog Cake Wrecks for amusingly misspelled, hideously ugly, or just plain ill-conceived cake disasters.

Uber Amazing Blogs!

Sweet T, the stylish, snarky, socially conscious blogger behind Cats, Cheese and a Wedding, Please! just named me the recipient of an Uber Amazing Blog award! Thanks, Sweet T!


The catch, of course, is that now I must nominate 5 blogs to receive this prestigious honor :-) So in no particular order, they are:

1. Manolo for the Brides. I was reading this one before I even got engaged (in my defense, I started reading it because I was a bridesmaid). Blogger Never teh Bride is like a free-spirited, awesomely supportive older sister. And I'm pretty sure I share a brain with weekend blogger and etiquette maven Twistie -- what I hate, she hates, and what she loves, I love.

2. Doubly Happy Too. Miss Hot Cocoa also posts over at Weddingbee, which is how I found her blog. Her account of her conversion to Judaism has been fascinating and moving, and she also has an amazing sense of style. I was blown away when she convinced me that feathers in a bouquet not only work, but can be stunning.

3. A Practical Wedding. It never fails -- whenever I'm stressing about something wedding-related (my bridal party, wedding favors, the horrible economy), along Meg comes with a post that puts everything into perspective. I'm also in awe of the amazing wedding photos she posts -- Meg, where do you find this gorgeousness?

4. Introverted Bride. Want to read about a fun, quirky, totally unique wedding? Tired of hearing from brides who say things like "I've been planning my wedding since I was 5!"? This is the blog for you!

And at #5, we have a 3-way tie between blogs who have already received the Uber Amazing Blogs award from other admirers:
The Broke-Ass Bride
Our Little Haus
and, of course, Cats, Cheese and a Wedding, Please!

If you want to nominate some Uber Amazing blogs, steal this icon and nominate away!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guests in exile, or, is brunch worth a plane ticket?

Econo Boy and I tend to be of one mind on almost everything. It's actually kind of disturbing. Sometimes I worry that we'll end up like those couples who dress alike and speak in unison and basically freak everyone out with their scary identical-ness.

Because we're so similar, it tends to take us aback when we discover a point of disagreement. For example, what kind of wedding we should have.

I can't remember where I read this, but I remember reading at some point that Sunday brunch receptions tend to be much less expensive than Saturday night dinner receptions. I love brunch, so I immediately pictured us saying our vows at 11am and heading in to a scrumptious buffet.

Hello, delicious! Image from JoellesFrenchBistro.com.

But when I floated this idea by Econo Boy, he was less than enthusiastic. Actually, he was appalled. "We can't ask people to come to Colorado just for BRUNCH!" he said, his eyes wide with horror.

I could see he had his heart on Saturday night dinner and dancing and I gave way, but I remained completely baffled by his insistence that a brunch reception was an unacceptable slight to our guests. (This is a man who thought it would be "no big deal" to choose a ceremony site that didn't have enough seats for everyone!)

Today, Meg at A Practical Wedding (one of my two favorite wedding blogs -- if you haven't, definitely check it out!) wrote a post about a 1927 wedding that elicited much commentary about how much simpler weddings were before World War II. It's true, most of them were! And I think the shift has been in large part due to the increasing number of out of town guests at most weddings. Back In The Day, more people spent their entire lives in the same area, if not the same town. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends almost certainly lived nearby. Since few had to travel a great distance to the wedding, I think there was less pressure to do anything beyond cake and punch or a wedding breakfast.

But now, with so many people who go to college out-of-state and/or move far from their parents, it's much likelier that our friends and family are scattered all over the country, if not the world. The idea that your nearest and dearest are plunking down a big chunk of change for airfare and hotels in order to be with you definitely ratchets up the pressure to "go big."

Personally, and I say this as an airport-hating out-of-town-guest veteran, I think a lot of couples (and, apparently, Econo Boy) put too much weight on "making it worth the trip." "Will the party be big enough to justify the cost of my plane ticket?" has honestly never entered into my decision about whether to attend a wedding.

But I do think if your guest list contains many people who are coming from out of town, it's good to be thoughtful about the fact that travel is a hassle and do what you can to make it easier for them. Some of my favorite out-of-town-guest gestures are:
  1. Maps. I have no sense of direction, so I love it when couples include Mapquest directions with the invitations, on the website, or in out-of-town guest bags.
  2. Booking blocks of hotel rooms. This is so much easier than researching dozens of hotels in an unfamiliar city and trying to figure out which ones are closest to the reception site.
  3. Inviting OOT guests to the rehearsal dinner. This one's a bit controversial, and I'd never be offended if I wasn't invited to a rehearsal dinner, but I usually fly in the day before the wedding and it's lovely to have a meal already planned and people to talk to!
Some things I think aren't necessary:
  1. "Activities" to fill the time. I'm a grownup. I don't need you to book me a bus tour of San Francisco in order to keep me entertained.
  2. Out of town guest bags. They're a lovely gesture, and I do like it when maps are included, but if putting them together means lots of extra expense and stress, skip it!
  3. Putting yourself into debt to throw a party you can't afford.
What does everyone else think? Does inviting out of town guests obligate you to throw a huge party? Or will people be happy to be there regardless?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mmmm, shoe porn

I try very hard not to torture myself with looking at items (wedding-related or otherwise) that I can't possibly afford. But for some reason, looking at insanely expensive designer shoes is just ... fun. Sort of like going to an art museum. You can't afford the Rembrandts, but that doesn't make it less fun to look.

If I had an unlimited budget (and if I could walk in 3-inch heels), these are the shoes I'd track down and try on for the big day.

1. Manolo Blahnik d'Orsay Pumps.

If I ever go totally nuts and decide to drop $600+ on a pair of shoes, they'll probably be Manolo Blahniks. I've heard that Manolos are the most comfortable of the crazy-expensive designer shoes, and they almost always make me swoon. Check out this gorgeousness:


I also love this peacock color. Something about the ivory dress just screams for brightly-colored shoes.

2. Kate Spade Mattie

I love Kate Spade shoes -- they're preppy and classic, exactly my style. And these 2" heels actually look like I could walk in them!


3. Stuart Weitzman Delovely

Simple, classic, delicate.



4. Christian Louboutin pink pumps

I have a soft spot for pink, and these are just stunning.


5. Rene Caovilla rhinestone sandals

4.25" heel. Rhinestone straps. Giant flower. How amazingly, gorgeously impractical can you get?!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Get that glue gun away from me!

With the stock market collapsing and so many people worried about losing their jobs, the wedding blogosphere is full of advice on how to trim wedding budgets. Econo Boy and I are both cautious about spending money, so I usually read these articles intently and think about how to incorporate the suggestions into our own wedding. Candle centerpieces instead of flowers? Great idea! Surf E-Bay for deals on tablecloths? Also a great idea! Forget the calla lilies and orchids and choose less expensive wildflower bouquets? Tell me more!

Candles are pretty! Image from Xanga.com.

But there is one piece of advice that I don’t find particularly useful: save money through DIY projects. (DIY, for the uninitiated, stands for “Do It Yourself.”)

I am not a DIY believer. Even as a kid, I hated arts and crafts because my projects always turned out, well, crappy. I’m all thumbs when it comes to paint, clay, glue, and glitter. My projects never, ever looked like the perky illustrations in the how-to guide the teacher handed out. And since I’m a perfectionist, viewing the imperfect results of my efforts would reduce me to a stressed-out, unhappy mess. One of the great pleasures of adulthood is that no one makes me use a hot glue gun or an X-acto knife anymore.

So frankly, I would rather shave my head than devote several Saturdays to hand-painting an “Econo Boy and Bride in Exile” monogram on 150 hand-stitched wedding favor bags. (In fact, I’m mildly hostile to the entire concept of wedding favors, and I think wedding monograms are kind of weird, but that’s another post.) I’ll hand-write the addresses on my invitations and I’m perfectly willing to put my own candles in their candle holders for the table, but that’s it. If we can’t afford to pay someone else to do it, it ain’t happening at our wedding.

I’m not against DIY for everyone. I’ve encountered tons of blogs written by women who genuinely love handcrafting charming details for their weddings. If that’s you, go for it! (Also, if that’s you, I’m completely jealous of your talents.) Wedding planning should be something we enjoy at least a little bit, and if you have always been an arts-and-crafts goddess, it would be a crime not to indulge yourself in as many awesome DIY projects as you have time for.

But I feel like the “save money through DIY” advice is far more limited than Martha Stewart and Weddingbee would have us believe, because it really only works for people who don’t hate crafty projects. For some of us, the stress and frustration isn’t worth the savings.

Is anyone else annoyed by the constant call to “DIY”? What are some great money-saving tips that don’t involve sacrificing every evening and weekend before the wedding?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Possibly the awesomest proposal EVER

I love proposal stories. Econo Boy popped the question in the most romantic way I could have imagined -- by taking me away to our favorite B&B, somehow managing to sneak along two dozen roses and a bottle of champagne, and laying a trail of flowers out to the B&B gardens after breakfast. Part of me suspected that my practical sweetie might one day propose by suggesting that we take a look at the tax codes and figuring out which wedding date would maximize our tax savings, and so this surprise champagne-and-roses proposal completely swept me off my feet.

So I'm a big fan of the traditional down-on-one-knee proposals. But I also love the more unusual ones, and when I read today's entry in Manolo for the Brides, I got a big goofy grin on my face. It's about a guy who proposed to his girlfriend by hacking a role-playing game called Chrono Trigger.

Confession time: I'm a video game geek. Back when I was a kid, my brother and I saved our pennies to buy a Super Nintendo and then a Playstation, and Chrono Trigger was among my very favorite games. So this proposal spoke to a very deep place in my heart. All the best to my fellow video game geeks!

Now, if only I could get Econo Boy to let me register for a PlayStation 3 ...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Color scheme?

Does our wedding need a "color scheme"? I'm still undecided on this question. On the one hand, the whole idea of "wedding colors" seems a bit silly -- the last thing I want is to start down the slippery slope of agonizing over the difference between "lilac" and "lavender." On the other hand, choosing three or so "wedding colors" would be enormously helpful in narrowing down our options for flowers and other decorations. Plus, I'm not that gifted in the design-type areas of life. Deciding on a color palate could very well save my poor bridesmaids from a clashing color situation.

There are a couple of things I know for sure. First, I want the bridesmaids' dresses to be navy. I've flirted with other ideas (lavender, sky blue, patterned), but I keep coming back to navy. It's classic, flattering to many skin tones, and maybe even re-wearable (I know, wishful thinking!). I also know that while brown may be a popular accent color I really don't want it in our decor. I am not a fan of brown and blue together -- the super-popular combo of Tiffany blue and chocolate brown never fails to give me a headache. (If these were/are your wedding colors, please don't be offended -- just remember that we are both entitled to our opinions, and also that I don't know what I'm talking about.)

But even with a good starting point, figuring out what color palate to use is surprisingly tricky. Color combinations that I like for my wedding party don't work when I picture them in a table setting, and vice versa. So far, here are my ideas on color schemes.

* Navy + other blues + ivory
Pros: Monochromatic is easy -- the tables would look chic and classic.
Cons: Monochromatic is also a little boring. I've seen lots of photos of bridesmaids in navy carrying blue and white bouquets, and I have to be honest, it doesn't do much for me. It's nice but a bit too bland.


* Navy + lilac + dark pink
Pros: I love purple flowers, and I think a bouquet with various purples and some pink in it, like this one, would really pop against the navy dresses.

Cons: Would a combination of deep, cool colors (navy and purple) look too dark and somber? Also, I'm not sure what I would do with the tables -- maybe ivory linens with navy napkins and a few purple accents? Or just be lazy and go with navy/ivory inside?

* Navy + bright pink + yellow
Pros: I love the thought of my navy-clad bridesmaids carrying something like this:


Bright, gorgeous, and fun!
Cons: Absolutely no idea what to do with the tables. I love the idea of pink in the bouquets, but in the centerpieces or table settings I'm not such a fan.

Any ideas?

Monday, October 6, 2008

My new internet obsession

For a while there, every time I turned on my computer, I couldn't resist looking at wedding gowns. Now that I've put down my hefty deposit on my gorgeous La Sposa, however, I've quit gown-surfing cold turkey. Instead, I have a new obsession: invitations.

I'm kind of a stationery addict. I absolutely adore Crane's, that grand old stationery store (I always hit up their sales for lovely thank-you cards), and when I was a kid I requested personalized stationery for Christmas or my birthday several times. I didn't have anyone to write to, but that wasn't the point. Eventually I printed my own on our crummy Canon inkjet, but it wasn't the same.

Now, finally, here's my chance to have my own gorgeous personalized bits of paper! I quickly informed Econo Boy that the invitations, like the gown, would be my domain. (He wanted to buy plain ecru cards and print them on our crummy HP inkjet. "It will convey the same information," he said. Econo Boy is always ruining my fun by being concerned with things like logic and functionality.) But a visit to Crane and Company killed my dream of ordering my invites there -- over $1000 for just invitations and RSVP cards, folks. Much as I love stationery I just couldn't justify spending that kind of money on an item that (let's be honest) will almost certainly end up being thrown away by most of my guests.

So I'm looking for something with a vintage vibe, preferably with a subtle floral design. I'd like to spend $4 or so a set (a set being an invitation, an RSVP card, and all necessary envelopes). And I'd like the color theme to be blue. So far, here are my candidates!

Two Econo Boy-approved favorites are from the amazing Wedding Paper Divas:
I also love the invitations at The White Aisle, including this one (which can be ordered in blue).


Finally, a Weddingbee reader alerted us to Glidewell Press, a printing company that does affordable letterpress invitations. (Letterpress is a printing technique that presses the ink into the cards for a very cool, old-fashioned look. Gorgeous but normally quite expensive. The rest of the invitations I've posted here are flat printing.) I'm a big fan of this design:


But I could probably only afford to have it done in the single-color option -- would this look OK if I did it in all navy or all sky blue?

Tell me which one's your favorite and why!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sale of a favorite blog

One of my favorite wedding blogs, Weddingbee, is now absent from my blog list. The founder has sold the site to eHarmony.

That kind of bugs me, and I'm not the only one. A major reason many Weddingbee readers are uncomfortable with the new ownership is that eHarmony does not match same-sex couples – only heterosexual couples. That in itself is not so upsetting to me. My capitalist little heart says it’s a totally legit business strategy to go after one particular market (in this case, straight couples looking for long-term relationships), and I wouldn’t get mad about a dating site that catered only to same-sex couples.

What does bother the heck out of me is that eHarmony founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren has very close ties to Focus on the Family, to the extent that eHarmony once billed itself as “founded by Neil Clark Warren, author of Focus on the Family’s relationship books." As recently as 2005, eHarmony sent Focus on the Family-published literature to its new members. Also, there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence from the interwebs to suggest that eHarmony has been resistant to suggesting interracial matches, even when members indicated that they preferred dating people of other races.

Yikes. I won’t get in to my reasons for not liking FoF here – they’re pretty much what you might guess. (Short version: I’m a Methodist and I resent FoF founder James Dobson for giving a bad name to Christians, not to mention the state of Colorado.) What’s important is that I don’t really want to help generate revenue for a company that seems so buddy-buddy with an organization that stands against what I see as simple justice and equality. The whole "not matching same-sex couples" thing took on a new light when I read about the FoF connection.

Many of my favorite bloggers have chosen to stay, and I find their arguments for staying pretty compelling – if everyone who supports marriage equality left Weddingbee, it would go from a vibrant, diverse community to a much less diverse (and much less interesting, IMHO), place. And eHarmony would be able to justify its policies by telling itself “well, we’re still making money even though all those folks left, guess they’re not that important.” Maybe, just maybe, having an eHarmony-funded blog where gay and lesbian couples are celebrated would begin to change the company’s attitude. At the very least, it would be cool to see eHarmony’s money used to support a site where beautiful photos of gay and lesbian weddings are pinned up for the world to see and admire.

But I am still on the fence about whether I’ll be reading Weddingbee regularly from now on. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the blog, I love the bloggers, and I love the boards where brides can get help and advice from others who are in the middle of this stressful planning process. And if some of my favorite bloggers will continue to post about marriage equality and show off gorgeous photos of gay weddings, I want to support them. But I don’t know if I can live with the thought of Neil Clark Warren making money off my web surfing addiction, even though I know that my clicks generate only about 1/100 of a penny in ad revenue for the site. And had I been one of those bloggers, I really don’t think I could have agreed to volunteer my time to make money for eHarmony and its founder (the Bees aren’t paid as far as I know).

So I’m undecided about my future as a Weddingbee reader. I've removed Weddingbee from my blog roll and instead added the personal blogs of some of my favorite Bees. But mostly I’m just bummed that such a cool site was bought by such a sketchy organization.

This post was edited to remove earlier factual errors.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yes, I'm engaged. No, I am not a lunatic.

I've noticed a funny phenomenon since becoming engaged: some people assume I'm a nut.

By "people," I mostly mean vendors. I've noticed that when I call to check up on something wedding-related (e.g. the venue contract that was five, count 'em, five weeks late), I get a little chuckle and an assurance that everything's fine, delivered in a soothing voice, as though the vendor is talking to a stroke victim.

By contrast, if Econo Boy calls, the reaction is "I'll take care of that right away."

I am beginning to suspect that by virtue of being a) engaged and b) female, I am being put into the dreaded "Bridezilla" box. If I call to ask a question, or express a concern, I *must* be overreacting or worrying my pretty little Bridezilla head. I am engaged and female, and therefore not to be taken seriously. Econo Boy, however, is gifted with masculine rationality and perspective, so if he thinks something's amiss and calls to check up, it must be a real issue (as opposed to one of my silly girl issues).

I thought of this today as I was reading a Weddingbee post by a recently married blogger: When Bad Things Happen. The blogger, who goes by the pseudonym "Mrs. Cream Puff," hired two day-of coordinators to set up the ceremony area, organize the hired trolley from the ceremony to the reception, and manage the reception so that things ran smoothly. Well, the coordinators messed up the ceremony setup that they'd been given weeks in advance. The trolleys got most of the guests (and the bride and groom) to the reception after the cocktail hour due to poor organization. And during the reception, the coordinators decided to hit the bar.

Now, these sound like pretty legitimate complaints to me. The bride and groom hired these people to perform certain services. They either didn't perform those services or did them badly. And since it was part of her wedding, and she's a wedding blogger, the bride blogged about it (without ever mentioning the names of her coordinators, I should add) -- and a couple of commenters called her "anal" or said she was overreacting and whining.

I can't help thinking those comments were a result of the same mentality that any woman who is getting married is by definition a high-maintenance bitch, and that therefore her complaints aren't valid. And frankly it's a sexist attitude and it bugs the shit out of me. Yes, there are some of the legendary "Bridezillas" out there, but I doubt there are enough of them to justify this blanket assumption that any woman planning her wedding is automatically a lunatic.

I am now making a pledge to myself: I will not give money to anyone who treats me as though I must, as an engaged female, be missing 75 IQ points and any sense of perspective.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The "Anti-Wedding"?

I just read a very interesting article in the Washington Post about two friends' attempts to plan the "anti-wedding." You can read it here: The Anti-Wedding.

In a nutshell, Caitlin Gibson and Rachel Manteuffel, two frequent bridesmaids who were fed up with the insanity of the typical modern wedding, decided to offer their services to plan an "anti-wedding," one that would buck all of the conventions of the Big Bad Wedding Industrial Complex. They solicited submissions from couples willing to let them plan their wedding, and ended up organizing an event where their clients/guinea pigs were married on public property while the guests protested against the Big Bad Wedding Industrial Complex.

The article shone an interesting light on the assumptions our society holds about “weddings” – for one thing, it’s kind of disturbing to know that the Washington DC city government considers a wedding more disruptive than a protest!

But ultimately, I think Gibson & Manteuffel’s attempt to plan an “anti-wedding” was a resounding failure. A wedding ceremony held during a protest against the wedding industry is definitely unusual. But Gibson and Manteuffel's “anti-wedding” seems just as much shaped by the Big Bad Wedding-Industrial Complex (BBWIC) as the mega-celebrations featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. Their version of the “anti-wedding” seems to consist of saying “no” to anything that even hints at the BBWIC. You think it would be fun to get married in a botanical garden? Nope, sorry. Flowers are part of the BBWIC. Oh, you want to send out invitations so people know the time and place? But that’s so BBWIC! Let’s make them do a lengthy scavenger hunt in the rain instead! Frankly I’m surprised they let their bride purchase any kind of new dress at all (a new dress being part of the BBWIC) – from the tone of the article I half expected them to have both bride and groom say their vows while wearing old, stretched-out swimsuits and/or garbage bags.

In my opinion, if you’re structuring your entire wedding around saying “no” to what the latest issue of Modern Bride suggests, you are just as controlled by the BBWIC as the bride who thinks she has to copy those suggestions to the letter. Either way you’re letting other people define what you will and will not do instead of just going with the things that matter to you, whether or not they’re typical.

Furthermore, the Gibson & Manteuffel “anti-wedding” seems to have involved just as much stress, frustration, and detailed planning as a smallish “traditional” wedding in someone’s backyard. They investigated multiple "anti-wedding" locations only to be told that they needed permits or that weddings were forbidden on that particular property. To be honest, it sounds like they spent way more time finding a place to have their anti-wedding than Econo Boy and I did finding our venue! How is arguing with half a dozen city officials supposed to free us from wedding-planning madness?

I think a much more interesting, fun, and moving anti-wedding is this one that Manolo for the Brides blogged about last week: "It's a Nice Day for a Wet Wedding?" An Oregon couple said their vows underwater while scuba-diving. They planned the whole thing in 5 days. It centered around a favorite shared activity. It was small, intimate, free-spirited, and probably just what the couple wanted. Now that is an anti-wedding! (Even if the bride wore a veil.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shopping for other people is hard

Now that I have my dress, I can start on the next wedding day clothes project: bridesmaid's dresses! (You might say the next project is what the groom wears, but that's his department!) I want them to be navy (I have visions of brightly colored bouquets standing out against the navy dresses), and I want them to be roughly the same level of formality as my gown. Aside from that I'm not terribly picky.

And yet, the search for a nice bridesmaid's dress is proving even more puzzling than the search for my own gown. I would love to find a line of dresses where each bridesmaid can choose a different neckline, but this is trickier than I thought. For example, I went to a bridesmaids' salon in Denver and loved Amsale's line of tissue taffeta gowns -- they are elegant and modern, and come in a gorgeous navy blue.



I'm strongly considering telling my bridesmaids to just pick any Amsale tissue taffeta gown they like. But one of my 'maids is well-endowed and has never found a comfortable strapless bra. Although she has promised to resume the search for a strapless bra should I choose a dress that needs one, I'd really prefer to find a gown that gives her the option of wearing a normal bra. And unfortunately, the only Amsale that has actual straps is this bubble-hemmed monstrosity:


I tried this dress on. In mango (think shiny pinky-orange). It was, without question, the ugliest garment I have ever worn. It made me look like I was wearing a pink potato sack over the world's most enormous butt. AND there was a giant bow in the back. No! Bad designer! Bad!

Another potential option seems to be Aria Bridesmaids, which lets the bride choose the fabric and length but lets each bridesmaid choose the neckline and silhouette she likes best. That's great for my bridesmaid who'd like to wear a good supportive bra -- she loves boatneck dresses like this one.


They also come in a great midnight (aka navy) silk shantung. I've ordered a dress to try on (they have a try-on program, you pay $15 to have a dress shipped to you and you're responsible for shipping it back within a week), and I'm eager to see what I think in person.

The problem here: the dresses are GIGANTIC. According to their size chart, I'm a 0, which I find sort of amazing. My closet is filled with 4s, 6s, and the occasional 8 -- but no 0s. I have never been a 0 in my life. And that's their smallest size, and one of my bridesmaids is definitely smaller than I am. I don't want to saddle her with a gigantic alterations bill.

At the suggestion of pretty much everyone in the whole entire world, I also checked out the website for the wildly popular J Crew bridesmaids collection -- and let me tell you, I almost passed out from shock when I saw the prices. $350?! Holy crap! I tried on a Vera Wang that was $250! But I did like this silk V-neck number (which is fortunately "only" $195):


No neckline options here, though. Hmmm ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I did it ... I bought a dress!

Phew! After a whole bunch of searching and back-and-forth, I did it: I picked a dress!

It came down to two gowns. One was the one I showed in my last post -- delicate, feminine, light as a feather. The other was one I found in New Jersey -- also lace, also sparkly, also a strapless A-line.


Are we seeing a pattern here? :-)

I had a hard time choosing between the two, mostly because they were so darn similar. But I ended up choosing the one in this post, for the following reasons:
1. It has more of a shape to it -- the fabric is a bit thicker and more luxurious, and it sucked me in and smoothed me down without making me feel like I was wearing a corset. The other gown was lightweight and I loved how the skirt swung around me, but it wasn't quite as flattering.
2. It has pearls in the embroidery. I ::heart:: pearls.
3. It has a shorter train -- I could have gotten the other gown with a sweep train, but the change would have cost me extra and likely put that gown out of my price range.

After all my back-and-forth on which dress I wanted, I thought I'd second-guess myself once I finally made a decision. But I haven't. I love this dress and I'm so thrilled to have chosen one at last!

Next post: my top choices for bridesmaids' dresses.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We'll start with the bad and move on to the good

This wedding planning stuff is seeming much more real every day -- and that's not always a good thing. Sure, it's tons of fun imagining myself in pretty gowns and picturing the flowers and the delicious food we'll serve. But when that gorgeous dress from the magazine makes you look stumpy and the coordinator from the venue you want won't call you back and you're suddenly worrying about how you'll afford all of this -- that's real, but also annoying.

Bad:
* We wildly underestimated catering costs, mostly because we didn't realize that caterers' listed meal prices did not include staff wages. Because of our venue, I'd really like to do a plated meal and not a buffet. Space will already be a bit tight, and devoting space to a buffet would make it even tighter -- and regardless, we'd only have room for one buffet table, which every caterer has said is not enough for 150 guests.

But bringing the dinners to the guests means more staff, which means more money. And Econo Boy, who insisted on the most expensive day of the week (Saturday) and the most expensive time (evening) and the most expensive season (summer), is now insisting that we should go with the cheaper option, guest comfort be darned. He says the buffet would be "fine" and that people won't mind waiting over an hour to get through the line. (Personally, I would mind. Would I get mad and hate the hosts forever? No. But I'd be hungry and bored.)

* Another budget issue: photography. I would really have loved to get a custom-designed album from our photographer, but at $1000 that's just not possible. So we're going to design our own ... which I guess is fine, but wow, you should have seen these professional albums. So pretty.

* Dress shopping was fun, but picking a dress has turned out to be harder than I thought. The "OMG this dress is PERFECT" moment doesn't happen for everyone, I know, and since I'm not the kind of bride who's dreamed about her dress since childhood, I pretty much had no idea what I wanted going in. All I knew is that I didn't want to be another bride in a strapless a-line gown.

And now, my front-runner dress is ... a strapless a-line gown.

Granted, it's not entirely plain. It's a lace gown, with a pleated blush sash and buttons down the back. I feel lovely in it, and it's so light and comfortable. But I don't entirely trust my own fashion sense and I'm worried I will look boring and frumpy as yet another strapless a-line bride, especially one with very little boobage to speak of.


Note: The gown I have on in this picture is all blush, but I would order it in ivory with a blush sash, which I think will make it a bit brighter and more interesting. Also, my gown would be custom-ordered and fitted, which is to say not held together by giant orange clips in the back (check out the mirror).

Good:
* Our venue, a lovely historic mansion in Denver, is now booked -- July 25, 2009!! We're just waiting for the site contract before it becomes truly official. I know it doesn't look like much up against all of the frustrations I just listed, but having a date makes everything seem so much more concrete. Also, even though we couldn't afford an album, I really like our photographer and I think he'll do a great job.

* I have taken advantage of Apple's current "free iPod with new Mac" promo and purchased a new iMac desktop, with a free iPod touch. No, this is not wedding-related, but I think it will be much comfier writing my dissertation on a desktop instead of hunched over a laptop screen. Also, the iPod touch? So awesome. Not quite iPhone awesome, but still pretty dang cool.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bridesmaids' dresses ... ai yi yi!

I've put my own gown search on hold because in just two more weeks, a very important person will be able to help me with my search. I call her Mom.

Mom and I have pretty similar tastes. We each have our own style (mine's a bit more conservative than hers) but when we shop together, we are almost always in perfect sync about what's flattering and what's not. I'm so excited to shop with another person in tow! (For one thing, it means I won't be holding my own camera. Yeesh.)

Instead, I've been surfing bridesmaids dresses, which is much less fun, largely because most of the ones I've seen are so hideous and imagining my friends in them makes me very depressed. Part of the problem is that many of them are photographed in hideous colors such as creamsicle orange and electric blue. But the truth is that many of the designs are frumpy and unfashionable and wouldn't look very good in any color. Here are some of the worst offenders:

1. Actually, this dress isn't hideous. But who wears a perfectly color-coordinated shawl *and* purse with her gown?


2. See what I mean about bad colors?



3. No. Oh dear saintly heavens, no. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad in a different color, but I don't think there's any salvaging that weird, scrunchy skirt. The poor model looks like a character out of a Strawberry Shortcake cartoon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More gowns from the internet

I'm currently away in England for five weeks for research-related purposes. Although I'm glad to get away from the miserable summers on the East Coast, I can't help feeling like all of my fun party planning has been rudely interrupted by this journey abroad. Also, I miss Econo Boy terribly. When you're used to coming home to your sweetheart in a lovingly decorated apartment and sitting down for a nice homemade dinner with some wine, coming home to an empty dorm room and living on microwave curries can get a bit depressing.

So how do I cheer myself up? Online gown browsing, duh! Here are four that I really like (complete with design numbers so I can ask bridal salons about them when I go home).

#1
Sottero & Midgeley SSM5049. I love three things about it: 1) the silhouette -- it's a slim skirt but not too clingy; 2) the ruching on the bodice; 3) the corset back.

I'm also excited about the color shown here -- it's pale pink. I'm not sure if I'm bold enough to go with such an ultra-girly color, but I hope the sample gown is pink so I can get an idea of what it might look like.

#2
2185 by Mori Lee. I really liked that strapless lace gown I tried on at my one and only visit to a bridal salon, but at $1300 it's a little more than I want to spend. I've been looking for similar gowns that aren't quite as pricey, and I think this Mori Lee gown is really lovely (except for the long train, hopefully I could ask to have it made shorter).



#3
C912 from Jasmine Bridals (the company who designed my friend Susan's gown -- Susan, incidentally, was the person who introduced me & Econo Boy!). It's hard to see on this small internet picture, but I saw this gown in a magazine ad and the detailing on the neckline and bodice is gorgeous. It's a bit heavier and more elaborate than the others but I think it's romantic and would probably be really flattering on me.


#4
Elyssa from Sophia Tolli. I'm kind of in love with this dress -- I think the fabric looks amazing, really soft and luxurious.


Of course, if my first visit to a bridal salon was any indication, what I like online will have almost nothing to do with what I actually get to try on in the store! Also, it kind of stinks that I can't try on any more gowns for another five weeks, just when I'm having so much fun looking. (I guess I could pester some poor British bridal shop person into letting me try stuff on, but I'd feel bad about wasting her time. There definitely isn't any room in my suitcase for a wedding dress!)