Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting Married Before Getting Married, TV Style


I was watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother today (a new favorite, so I try to watch all the old ones so that I can follow along with the references in the new ones), and caught Part I of Lily and Marshall's wedding.

In the episode, they showed how initial wedding plans rarely are what you end up with. They went from wanting a small, intimate ceremony in a garden with an acoustic guitar to a 300-person, indoor affair with a harp player where everything went wrong.

And like Pam and Jim of The Office after them, they secretly and spontaneously got married (in a garden with their closest friends and a guitar player) before the ceremony that was planned.

I think that had I seen this episode (or Pam and Jim's wedding) pre- or during planning our wedding, I would have appreciated the sentiment of running off and getting married privately and accepting that sometimes, the big wedding just doesn't work out (like you thought it would or at all). BUT, I'd still probably believe that ours would be different.

I've planned events before. I've helped my friends with their weddings. I am extremely organized and creative. So of course I could pull this off! But when it came down to it, sometimes you can have all the right tools, but if others (caterers, photographers, venues, etc.) aren't willing to work with you, then that big wedding with tons of players and projects and logistics just might not be in the cards. And that's okay.

It reminds me of math. I've been bad at math all my life. And I was raised hearing that if you try your best at something, you have to succeed (and I appreciate that I was raised this way). So when algebra came around and I tried by best and STILL sucked at it, it was a very rude awakening.

Finally deciding that no, our wedding was not going to happen the way I thought it would was also a rude awakening. I had been planning it in my head forever! I had experience! And ideas! But guess what? I can plan parties instead. And thank goodness we didn't waste any more of our time, energy and money just trying to make it work and then run off spontaneously and secretly right before the ceremony anyway.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where I Went

You may be wondering where I went. (Or maybe you haven't. Whatever.)

The answer is that I got a new job! I started on Monday and because of training, I have been so drained each day when I come home. Plus, I don't have the same kind of free time as I did at my last job, so I can't check in throughout the day.*

When I get more settled, I'll be sure to work out a better blogging schedule, but for now, I'll only be in from time to time.

With that, if you're in/from the States, Happy Thanksgiving! Everyone else: have a great day/week/weekend!

*I didn't have much free time at my last job either, but I often had to wait for a lot of my projects to be signed off on, so I'd have some wait time. The new job isn't really like that. Oh, and it's also a huge international company that keeps tabs on what websites its employees visits. Ha.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


[screen shot of my sale alert...I love that coat.]

I get daily sale alerts. My favorite is the Shop It To Me Sale Alert, where I can select what stores I want listed in my email of every little item I can get on sale that day.

So I was scrolling through my sale alert today wondering, "What possessed me to include shops like Neiman Marcus, Anne Klein and Barney's on this list?!" I mean, only shop at places like LOFT and Banana Republic when there's a sale. What made me think that I would buy a $300 watch (after a 50% discount) from Barney's?

And then I remembered. I added these stores to my sale alerts after getting engaged.

Because what if I found the perfect pair of shoes? I'd spend more on them, because they're for the wedding.

Or what if found a GORGEOUS necklace that would go perfectly with the neckline of my dress? Who cares if it's way out of usual Nina-budget. It's my wedding! I'm willing to spend more on a gorgeous necklace because it's for the wedding.

I've always been very, very frugal. I spend money rarely and wisely, and if I do splurge a little, it's an absolute treat and nothing I should let myself get used to. But for some reason, I was going to let myself splurge on just about anything, as long as it was for the wedding.*

Why do we do this? And, what's even worse: why do businesses in the wedding industry exploit this? (Because they're smart. And evil. That's why.)

I'm no psychologist, but wedding spending is one serious mindf*ck. I'm not saying that the day isn't important-- it really, really is. In fact, it's SUCH an important day that we attempt to put a monetary value on it. Maybe not overall, but with individual details like the dress, the cake or the flowers (which, as we know, add up). And that's okay! Sometimes we show that we care about something by putting extra money into it (an expensive haircut comes to mind). But it's important not to lose sight of the REASON the day is so important: the commitment.

And really, there's no amount of money in the world that you can put on that. But we try anyway! And are pressured again and again to put more and more money into proving that your love is the best love.

Man oh man. I hate money sometimes.

*One thing that was on my radar in the sale alerts was my actual wedding dress, because I didn't really want one from a bridal shop. I was more interested in a pretty one I could buy off the rack from a department store. No, I wouldn't buy a $1000+ wedding dress, but I would buy a pretty dress from Neiman Marcus for $500. That was the only exception in (browser) window shopping when scrolling through my sale alerts.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Wedding Checklist at 7 Months

 [Me and my would-be best man. He's obviously making some ridiculous point.]

If we hadn't eloped in September, today we would be exactly seven months out from our wedding.

No, I don't keep a tally of this in my head. I'm actually still on all of those mailing lists for brides planning their weddings. I do this because I still like to blog about weddings and-- to be completely honest-- have wanted to be a wedding/event planner my whole life and try to stay in the loop about trends and ideas that I was on these lists as a "professional" before even getting engaged.

So anyway, I got an email from one of those services (which, while helpful in some ways, usually do more of a disservice to brides because it makes them think that EVERY LITTLE DETAIL is important when really that just can't be the case) telling me:

Nina, with 7 months to go, don't forget to:
  • Pick the perfect bridesmaid dresses with the bridesmaid dress finder.
  • Explore the bridesmaid bouquet gallery for ideas and inspiration.
  • Check out the bridal party channel for advice on picking your bridesmaids.
  • Send updo inspirations from one of the hairstyle galleries to your bridesmaids.
  • Get a head start on saying "thank you"-- start shopping for the perfect bridesmaid gift right now!
  • Is a traditional shower not really your style? Read up on fun alternatives .
  • Dress your bridal party in the hottest styles. Check out the Celebrity Wedding Blog for Brides for the latest Hollywood style inspirations.
With seven months to go, I guess it's important to turn your attention to your bridesmaids. If we were getting married in June 2011, this is where I would be regarding my attendants (going by the bullet point, from top to bottom):
  • The dresses: I was going to ask them to wear whatever dress they wanted. Really.
  •  I might actually go ahead and explore the bouquet gallery, but would probably go for farmer's market flowers the day of (or the day before) anyway.
  • My bridesmaids were already selected. They were going to be my best friend fron high school, my best friend from college, and my brother was going to be my best man (and I was going to ask him to wear whatever suit he wanted).
  • Updo inspiration? They were going to wear their hair however they damn pleased! Who knows how long/short their hair would be anyway?
  • The dresses I won were going to be their presents, and I was going to get my brother a fancy silk tie with other dapper accoutrements like cuff links and a tie bar.
  • I definitely didn't want a traditional shower, and honestly didn't expect to get one because my friends (and especially bridal party) are so spread out around the country.
  • I don't really care what celebrities are doing. And really, because they're celebrities, they are guaranteed to have way more money than I do or am willing to spend on the wedding.
Like I said before, those checklist emails can be helpful (say, for the bride that has no idea what she's doing), but also harmful (for brides that know and don't alike) because they:
1) Stress you out. When you look at all the things these emails tell you to do, your To Do list grows exponentially.
2) Convince you to spend money/time/energy/precious resources on things you might otherwise have never considered.
When, in a nutshell:

You're welcome.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank You Rant

 [via -- Artist: Pablo León-Asuero Moreno]

Richie and I work on our thank you cards a little bit every night. At first we planned to do 5 each day, but when we sit down and start writing, we end up doing much more. So tonight should be our last batch (for now, until the other party and more gifts start coming in).

So here's where the rant part comes in. Richie has been amazingly helpful with these thank you cards. He writes almost as many as I do, despite the fact that he's not thrilled with his penmanship and has to write very slowly to ensure the notes are legible. Last night, as I was putting away the stationery (yes, I put it away after each session), I was patting myself on the back for marrying an awesome guy that helps with the thank you cards while so many women do them all themselves!

Examples, from a forum on a certain wedding-planning website:

"Should my soon-to-be husband and I both sign the thank-you cards if I'm the one writing them? He works A LOT, so it's easier for me to take care of this (and my handwriting is better!). I just don't want to send thank-you cards without his signature if that's proper etiquette."

"Should you have the groom sign his own name to the thank-you cards?"

You'd be amazed at how many questions some women have to basic Thank You 101 posts. Maybe it's because my mom made me write thank you notes for every present I got when I was younger, but is it really that hard?

I digress. As I was thinking about how great Richie is, I got angry that guys are awarded points for being helpful when it comes to things like writing thank you cards. How silly would it sound if this was actually Richie's blog and he was gushing about how his wife really pulls her weight when it comes to wedding related tasks? And guess what? He cooks and cleans, too, and people are always very impressed with him. If we were out to dinner and he said, "Nina's so great. She cooks and cleans as much as I do!" our companions likely wouldn't be too impressed. But what if he did all the work? All the thank you cards, all the cooking, and all the cleaning? I'd be a "bad wife." If I did it all, people would say he's lazy, but "that's men, right?"

This rant doesn't discount the fact that I am extremely appreciative of everything Richie does. He really is great.

...he just shouldn't get any points for it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Party Animal

AAAAHHHH! I've been gone for a while. (Sorry about that.) And in my absence, Richie's parents threw us a reception to celebrate our marriage! And it was lovely.

My parents and my great uncle and aunt flew in for various lengths of time during the week/weekend, so even though I took some time off for it, I definitely didn't have any free time.

When I get some professional pictures, I'll be sure to share them, but for now, here's one of me and Richie that my mom took:

 I love this picture.

I decided not to wear my wedding dress because:
1) It wasn't requested. In fact, in the weeks leading up to it, most dress code conversation was about if I had a dress yet, so I think I just went with the flow and didn't really consider wearing it.
2) It was cold, and my wedding dress is very lightweight and flowy.
3) I scored this adorable retro-looking Maggy London dress at a consignment shop recently and really wanted to wear it.

And may I just point out how cool my necklace is? It looks like it's glowing, but that's just from the flash because it's clear. I found it that very afternoon when my mom and I went to get our makeup done. She bought it for me. Hooray!

Along with the pro photos, I'll share a couple DIY projects I did for the event.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Being Green = Not Easy

[ - sorry about the quality]

Over the weekend, I made a little trip to Michaels. I needed some finishing touches for the card box I made (for the party Richie's parents are throwing us) and whatever other goodies I could find. I spent some time in the wedding aisle (Ha, aisle. Get it?), and was amazed that a DIY mecca such as Michaels only had two eco-friendly items in the wedding department (well, blatantly eco-friendly, but from looking around, there wasn't much else that could qualify-- so much packaging!).

They were both the same brand, I Do! Green. One was a pack of little favor boxes made out of recycled material, and the other was a pack of little favor baskets made out of recycled material, both perfect for little tiny candies or whatever your heart desires.

These are great ideas, and I'm happy to advertise them* here. But what I really want to point out is the lack of products available to brides, grooms and wedding (and party) planners to reduce waste. So, I'm going to start tackling that issue from time to time. Maybe weekly? I don't know. But I'll feature products and ideas to make your wedding (or life celebration) just a little greener.

No matter what colors you choose.

*This is completely unsolicited and uncompensated.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Photo Album

Does anyone have a favorite website for photo albums? Or any tips?

Here's what we're doing:
  1. Upload all of our pictures to Shutterfly (using this because my mom gave us a coupon code to get one album free!). We only have about 50, so we really don't have much editing to do.
  2. Our photographer sent all of the pictures to us (as digital files) in chronological order, so we're leaving them like that. I think it helps with the flow of the book. Ceremony...kissy faces by the pond...posing by a tree...kissy faces in the Shakespeare Garden...
  3. Rearrange however necessary. I'm keeping them in order, but because I chose the "Simple Path*" option where they dump the pictures into the book for you--instead of you placing each one in each slot--some pictures are oddly cropped and they require some love and attention.
As for stylistic details like the color of the pages, I selected one called "Versatile Classics" because, well, that sounds good, right? But I'm still going to play with other options like "Modern Portfolio" and "Dune." I'm trying to keep it classy, you know?

Once we're happy with our album, I think we'll just order a few and give identical ones to our parents. Because we're working with so few pictures, I think it's fine to give everyone all of them.

It definitely makes it easier.

*Also known as the Path of Least Resistance, which, I gotta say, if often underrated.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

57Grand, Part III

Over the summer, I won an awesome contest.

Project Wedding and 57Grand teamed up to give one lucky wannabe-stylist three bridesmaids dresses.

That wannabe was me.

Even though the wedding has come and gone and the ladies over at 57Grand knew (because they found this blog! How cool is that??), I'm still getting the dresses because I won fair and square.

All of the dresses had to be the same design, but they could be any color (offered in said design) and size (no bridesmaid diets here!). So I had the ladies browse around and get back to me with their top dress choices. Only one design made all three lists, so that's the one I selected.

[The Hudson in Peacock and Bordeaux-- two chose peacock and one chose Bordeaux]

I think everyone is going to be very pleased with their gift. The Hudson looks like it's casual enough to wear during the day, but probably can be dressed up easily, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Planning Our Elopement: The End (or Beginning, if you want to get cheesy)

And that's it! Eloping in seven simple steps! I'd be happy to answer questions or elaborate on things I did-- and didn't-- cover.


Coming soon:
  • Our PA reception hosted by Richie's parents
  • Our CA reception hosted by my parents
  • Nikki & Jeff's Boston, MA wedding

Planning Our Elopement: License to Wed

1. Pick a date/time/location for ceremony
2. Write our ceremony

3. Buy wedding rings
4. Find a wedding dress

5. Book a hotel room
6. Find accommodations for the cat

7. Get our marriage license

Going to Clerk's Office on Friday morning was when we realized that this was "meant to be." We got up early and went downstairs to enjoy our hotel's continental breakfast. The coffee was great and I discovered a new favorite cereal, so already the day was awesome.

We took the subway to the Clerk's Office, and even though we initially went to the wrong building, we were quickly pointed in the right direction and got there in no time. The line to get our number was really short and joyous. People were there with their families, all dressed up, waiting to get married! It was awesome. And there were also people like us, just there for paperwork.

The waiting area of the office is really nice, with couches and TVs showing the news. There's also a wall with a blown-up picture of the front of the building meant for taking pictures, and people sell bouquets of flowers right in the hallway, too.

The guy that processed our application was really pleasant. We couldn't believe it. We made it a point to tell him how shocked we were that the process was so smooth! Get in line, get a number, sit on a couch, get your license. Just like that.

Our license was issued at 10:35am on Friday, September 24th, so that meant that we could get married anytime after 10:36am on Saturday, September 25th, because NYC has a 24-hour waiting period (which you can get waived, in certain circumstances). The license is valid for 60 days (except for active military personnel).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Planning Our Elopement: Accommodations


1. Pick a date/time/location for ceremony
2. Write our ceremony

3. Buy wedding rings
4. Find a wedding dress

5. Book a hotel room
6. Find accommodations for the cat

7. Get our marriage license

There's really not much to say regarding finding accommodations for ourselves and our cat, Percy.* I left the hotel booking up to Richie because he knows more about NYC than I do (he did some of his undergrad there), and I was busy trying to find a dress. He picked Brooklyn because we both like it, and we could stay in a nicer place in Brooklyn than Manhattan. We ended up reserving a room (on Wednesday for Thursday-Sunday) at Hotel Le Jolie in Williamsburg, and you can check out my Yelp review here.

As for Percy's vacation, all we did was turn to Google for places in the area. There's one kennel next to my office, but their Sunday hours are impossible (and that's when we were returning), so that was a no-go. We found another one that was a bit more expensive, but their hours were much more convenient and they had really good reviews. Perhaps the hardest part of the entire weekend was getting Percy into his carrier on Thursday when I got home from work (I called Richie almost in tears because I just couldn't get him in the carrier, and the pet resort was closing in 20 minutes).

*Okay, so we were only gone for three nights, which I don't think warrants a kennel stay for a cat. But we recently rescued Percy, and he has some behavioral issues-- especially when we leave for long(ish) periods of time-- that we really didn't want to deal with on our wedding weekend. When I called the vet to have them fax his medical records to the pet resort, the woman was like, "People don't send their cats to kennels!!" And I said, "Oh, that's funny, because this kennel has a special rate and all sorts of amenities for cats. Do you think they meant to write 'dog'?"


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Planning Our Elopement: Rings and Dress

1. Pick a date/time/location for ceremony
2. Write our ceremony

3. Buy wedding rings
4. Find a wedding dress

5. Book a hotel room
6. Find accommodations for the cat
7. Get our marriage license

I was about to write that buying our rings was the easiest part, but almost everything was so easy, I honestly can't pick an easiest part!

We comparison shopped at Blue Nile, James Allen, and Brilliant Earth. We just wanted plain, white gold bands-- which simplified things A LOT-- so all three sites had similarly priced rings. Really, what it came down to was Blue Nile had ridiculously quick shipping times-- overnight, in fact. So that was that.

The dress was a little bit more difficult. Because of the time constraints, I actually set out to find a cute summery dress-- not necessarily white or all that "bridal" at all. After work on Tuesday, I went to a local vintage shop, a boutique, White House Black Market (click for my Yelp review), Loft, and Marshalls. I was so tired and hungry (and sad) by the time I came home...empty-handed.

Since I was really running out of time on Wednesday, I sped over to a bridal shop on my lunch break. I asked the ladies if they had anything I could buy off the rack, and one associate escorted me upstairs and started pulling gowns out. One of them stood out because it was flowy (perfect for a very warm day!) and not too embellished. I tried it on, and wouldn't you know, it was perfect!

...Well, except for the fact that it was long, and I really wanted a short dress (I love my legs). The associate said that they could alter it, no problem. I told the associate about our plans to head up to NYC on Thursday night and get married on Saturday...that meant that I needed the dress by Thursday evening (yes, the very next day!!!). She ran off to talk to the seamstress, and came back saying that I was in luck!

I'm DEFINITELY sending them a thank you card.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Planning Our Elopement: The Ceremony

1. Pick a date/time/location for ceremony
2. Write our ceremony

3. Buy wedding rings
4. Find a wedding dress
5. Book a hotel room
6. Find accommodations for the cat
7. Get our marriage license

Richie and I were planning to spend Saturday, September 25th in NYC anyway, so we said, "Hey! Let's get married then!" Our officiant, Judie, and I emailed back and forth about availability, and we determined that Saturday at 1pm was the time! (That meant that we needed our marriage licensed issued by 12:59pm on Friday, September 24th. More on this when I get to #7.)

But where?

Although we briefly discussed the Museum of Natural History, Central Park was the obvious answer. It was looking like the weather was going to be amazing, so we definitely wanted to be outside. I've always been drawn to ceremonies under trees, and Central Park has trees! So that was it. Richie used to live in NYC, so I asked him what his favorite part of Central Park was (I could only think of Bethesda Terrace), and he said the Turtle Pond. Yes! Perfect!

As for writing our ceremony, I asked Judie to send me her packet of sample ceremonies. It was pages and pages long, but we were drawn to her "Simple Civil Ceremony," but we wanted to personalize it with our own vows and a reading.

After searching the internet for vows that 1) don't say "God" in them; 2) don't make me sound like his property; and 3) mean what we what them to mean, we chose this, which we actually found on The Knot:

"I, ______, take you, ______, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I will respect your integrity and have faith in your abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us."

And for the reading,  I scoured the comments of a few vow-specific posts on A Practical Wedding, and found a poem by Rives. It wasn't the one, but it led me to another Rives poem, entitled "Glaucoma." It was so perfect for who we are and how we imagine our life together...far into the future:

When you and I
are old and grey…

I’ll have a belly,
a hound dog named Shakespeare
and a pickup truck.

You will have
a pretty cotton dress
and glaucoma,
which will steal your sight.
And you’ll stand on our porch in the morning
with your face to the sky,
and I’ll come outside
with the birdseed or something, going:
“Whoa, whoa, baby–don’t stare
right into the sun like that!”

And you’ll say:
“Oh, you old poop!
I may be blind, but I’m not a dope…
I’m a heliotrope.
That’s a fancy word for sunflower,
if you don’t remember!”

And I’ll go:
“Awwwww–I know heliotrope, hell…
I invented it!”

And then I’ll whisper: “Hey.
The yonder is just as wild and blue
as people say it is today.
And you can’t see, but…
I haven’t done yard work for weeks.
The crabgrass is practically piggyback
on the buttercups, Buttercup,
but I love you. I love you.
And I’m gonna keep you mine
like a crow loved to hold
an old telephone line, remember those?”

And you’ll say:
“What, crows?”

And I’ll go:
“Nahhh–telephone lines.
Remember? Back in the days
when the bedding was yours
but the bed was mine.
You remember that, Sunshine?”

And then I’ll shuffle back indoors,
bent but still feisty,
and I’ll do what I always do.

I’ll lie on the floor
with a scrap, and a pen,
I’ll write a poem,
describe the rest of the day for you

you blind, old…


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Planning Our Elopement: A Series

Richie talked me into considering an elopement on Sunday, September 19th. After finding Judie and Liam of Guerrilla Weddings through Offbeat Bride, I was really warming up to the idea. Like a lot.

By the time I heard back from Judie (the civil officiant of Guerrilla Weddings), I was sold.

Our Wedding To-Do List looked a little something like this:

1. Pick a date/time/location for ceremony
2. Write our ceremony
3. Buy wedding rings
4. Find a wedding dress
5. Book a hotel room
6. Find accommodations for the cat
7. Get our marriage license

This list was SO TINY compared to the one we were previously working with for our June 2011 wedding for 60 people. Even though it's a lot to get done in 5 days, I had to laugh maniacally from time to time.

Next Up: How we tackled numbers 1 and 2.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Richie and I got married last Saturday, September 25th!


I just sent my Wedding Graduate post off to Meg at A Practical Wedding, so hopefully that will up soon, but in the meantime, check out our officiant/photographer's blog, Civil Officiant, for an awesome slideshow of our pictures and the reading we selected!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do as I do

Are you in the market for a size 8, flirty little sparkly wedding dress? I took my own advice and posted the little gem above on OnceWed. It could be yours!!!

What does your dream dress look like?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Garlands, what!

I just entered this Hank and Hunt garland giveaway over at Souris Mariage. Hoping to use it for the reception venue...

On Your Dress Not Fitting

 [from Island Bride Jamaica-- with tips on how to fix a stuck zipper!]

Or, On My Dress Not Fitting.

Um, dress doesn't fit. See if this makes sense to you:
  • I tried on the dress at the shop
  • It was a 6, and fit almost perfectly (a little tight)
  • I ordered an 8.
  • While waiting for the dress to arrive, I lost weight.
  • The dress came, and I can't even zip it up.
  • The brand has since discontinued the style, and now the company I bought it from won't take it back or exchange the dress.

First, 3 ways to avoid this mess:
  1. DON'T get a dress from Alfred Angelo
  2. DON'T order from a third party, even though it's cheaper/you had a horrible experience at an Alfred Angelo store.
  3. DON'T order a dress that's about to be discontinued.

      Now, 4 things to do with a dress you're not going to wear and can't return:
      1. Give it away. A few wedding bloggers have started this pay-it-forward type trend of passing on their wedding gowns to brides-to-be. Check out A Practical Wedding and 2000 Dollar Wedding.
      2. Sell it. (they charge $25 for the listing until you sell it), Once Wed, Recycled Bride, ebay, amazon, craiglist...
      3. Donate it. Not to be confused with giving it away, where brides write in to say why they want/deserve the gown, donating it means putting it in a big bag and schlepping it your local donation center or drop-box. There's also Brides Against Breast Cancer, Operation Prom*, and Donate My Dress.
      4. Tear it up and make something new. The skirt part fits, so maybe I could take the bodice off, work some magic, and have a pretty, lacy skirt. Or get more extreme, and use pieces of the dress as decoration at our wedding...or make a Halloween costume for the cat**...
      While I would love to get some warm-fuzzies from giving my dress away or donating it, I gotta say, I really need the money from this dress to go to the next one (or the food at our reception). Maybe after everything is said, done, and paid for, I'll do that with the dress I actually wore.

      *At my junior prom, I remember this one senior showing up in this HUGE, white ballgown. It must have been a wedding dress.
      **I would never actually do that.


        I'm posting about my dress later today, but right now, I have to alert my readers to this post about budgets on A Practical Wedding. The content is in the comments, so read them-- they will continue to pour in, I promise.

        Wednesday, September 15, 2010

        Bridesmaid Questionnaire

        I'm not having traditional bridesmaids. In fact, my brother is going to be my Best Man (it took him a while to wrap his head around that one). I would, however, like two of my close friends to be something like bridesmaids, even though I'm not sure what that means yet. So, to help me decide (and for some fun), I wrote up a questionnaire and sent it to them.

        I broke the questions up into four sections:
        • Favorite Things: this is for help making decisions about the reception (music, food, wine, etc.) and any kind of presents I plan to get them as a thank you. For example...
          • Favorite Song
          • Favorite Cocktail
          • Favorite Color
          • Tupac or Biggie
        • The Weekend: for their wedding-related activities the weekend of the wedding (mani/pedis, hotels, sight-seeing)
        • The Big Day: readings, speeches, hair, make-up preferences
        • Getting Personal: allergies (to food or jewelry), best and worst gifts/favors they've received, special talents/places they'd especially like to help out

        I was so amused with their answers, I almost feel like they've already done their maidenly duty.

        Monday, September 13, 2010

        Free, customizable invitations? Yes please.

        I had a nice distraction from work today, thanks to some freebie templates at You liiiiiike? And what about the wording? I feel like there are too many words at the top. I mean, it's a wedding invitation. Maybe I'll say something like: "This is a wedding invitation. Here are the details:" instead.

        Thursday, September 9, 2010

        Stop and smell.

        Oftentimes, the best way to cut costs is to cut flowers from the budget (this does not mean that you wander into your neighbor's yard or hit up the closest meadow with wildflowers galore-- I wish!), and come up with non-floral centerpieces, accents, etc.

        While I get behind that strategy every once in a while, I don't usually like it.  I'm a fresh flower kind of girl.  Potted, cut, I don't care.  Give me flowers.  And NOT silk ones.  But flowers are expensive.  So how can you have fresh flowers at your event AND not blow your life savings on them?

        Here are some ideas:

        Hit up your local grocer.  Tons of supermarkets have a pretty decent selection of flowers, and they're not just for the impulsive shopper that *only* ran out to get some milk.  Turns out, they're often able to pre-order and arrange flowers...if you ask nicely.

        Try farmers markets or produce stands.  I was able to get enough flowers for around 15 tables for less than $20 at Produce Junction.  I gussied them up by putting them in nontraditional vases like cocktail glasses, and even poked some feathers in (it was a glamorous night).  Of course, this option works if you're willing to deal with what they have.  Hitting up a farmer's market the morning of your event won't guarantee you a gross of, I don't know, yellow dahlias, for example.


        Check out the flower market.  Check to see if your city-- or one near you-- has a flower market.  The Boston Flower Market, for example, is a great source for a huge inventory of wholesale flowers.

        Go online!  If you can't pick up your flowers in person, check out Blooms by the Box, an online retailer of wholesale flowers.  The also have video tutorials, should you need assistance in arranging or tying, and even prearranged flowers, in case you're need more than a little help! I was recently at a wedding with Blooms by the Box centerpieces that looked GREAT. Perhaps the bride will stop by to drop some knowledge on us later...

        [a Blooms by the Box customer creation]

        Buy what's in season.  I can't stress this tip enough.  I mean, do you eat peaches in winter?  (Local peaches in North America, that is?)  No.  Because they're not as good, and they cost much, much more to get them off-season because they come from somewhere way across the globe.  So it's important to research what flowers will be in season (around you/your event) at the time of your event.  Here's a nice, basic round-up of what's in season and when.

        Mix floral with non-floral.  I mentioned adding feathers to some centerpieces.  You could also go with twigs/sticks/branches, grass, pumpkins...get creative!  The more of the other stuff you use, the fewer flowers you need in each arrangement-- but they're still represented.



        [can I just say how in love with this birds nest I am?]

        Wednesday, September 8, 2010


        As big a fan of fresh flowers as I am, I gotta say that these brooch bouquets are absolutely stunning.  Florist Amanda Heer has expanded her services to include amazing creations made from your collection of brooches, pendants, cufflinks, earrings, watches, and the like that you send to her, along with some details on your favorite/most sentimental pieces.  She mixes in a few from her own collection, and voila!

        For more information, check out Amanda Heer's website (with a great gallery) here.

        I wonder how this would turn out if I tried it myself...(best guess: not well.)...only one way to find out!!!

        Tuesday, September 7, 2010


        You might notice that quite a few of my most recent posts attribute the post to a different date. It's because I published them on my other blog, philadelafornia, and have recently decided to separate out the wedding-specific stuff.

        So! To recap:
        Nina's personal life: philadelafornia
        Wedding stuff: So Glad That You Exist

        Carry on.

        America's Next Top Bride (from 8/24/2010)

        Photographer, check!

        That third contest I won was actually a first-come-first-served deal for Philadelphia brides. Because I'm fast like lightning, we got the deal! Half-off a celebrity wedding photographer (so he says, though I think he only did Nigel Barker's, but that's enough for me), whose rates were actually pretty reasonable in the grand scheme of the Wedding Industrial Complex in the first place.

        We put down the deposit last night. WOO HOO!!!

        Oh, but I do love Anthropologie... (from 8/17/2010)

        Haha, check out this post I stumbled upon at A Los Angeles Love.

        That is exactly what I was talking about yesterday!!

        Hi, I'm Nina, and I'm a Planaholic. (from 8/16/2010)

         [image from Martha, of course]

        I was having a Save the Date dilemma. The kind where you want to be crafty and do things entirely on your own, but you also want them to look professional.

        While I am pretty creative and crafty, sometimes getting professional quality from a DIY project just isn't in the cards. And I have to accept that. So now I have to make up my mind between a flawed product that I did myself (plus a sense of accomplishment) and a higher quality product with a price tag to match.

        I spent some time browsing professional options and others' DIY projects, and think I have made up my mind. So start checking your mailboxes soon!

        I imagine this dilemma will be a theme throughout wedding planning. Of course I want an amazing, Martha-worthy wedding full of perfect little handmade details, but I also need to accept the fact that I have a full-time job, hobbies outside of work and wedding planning, and friends to visit with.

        If there were Wedding Planaholics Anonymous meetings, their motto would be: 'One project at a time.'

        A'brewin (from 8/13/2010)

        [from Maro Designs]

        So, as I discovered during a round of dress-up last night (see yesterday's post), I do not own an off-white woven leather belt anymore. I didn't wear it very often, and when I did, it was only okay (which is why I didn't wear it often). So during this last move-- or was it the one prior?-- I donated it. I hope someone else loves it and doesn't think it's only okay.

        And for a quick wedding update (so much progress!), the following items are in the works:
        -Reception venue
        -Save the dates

        AND...I won another contest!!!  (Another two, actually, but one I'm keeping hush-hush until I know more about it.) While not a huge prize, I won a kit of felt lips, mustaches, and glasses on sticks to be used as props in photos (pictures above). Not sure if they will make an appearance at the reception yet, but they will certainly be fun to have around!

        Wedding Wear (from 8/12/2010)

        Wedding season is upon us!  Well, not mine. And it's really probably in full-swing, but the weddings I'm going to this year are both happening this month.

        The gifts have been bought, the hotel rooms have been reserved.  What is there left to do?  Why, pick out my outfits, of course! Because money's tight, I'm going to "shop my closet" for my looks.

        [Note: I don't necessarily own all of these items-- just things similar. The images are the closest representations of the pieces I actually I own I could find.]

        Wedding #1: Cape Cod. Afternoon. Ceremony in a church, outdoor reception at a farm.
        -Cool, light material
        -Covered shoulders for ceremony (sleeves, convertible or accessory)
        -Flats or wedges (lawn)

        Here's what I'm thinking. Imagine the dress is more white, with small blue dots. And any metal accents are silver, not bronze/gold/brass colored.

        What I actually have:
        Dress: J. Crew, thrifted
        Shoes: Aerosoles, Marshalls (or something like it)
        Scarf: gift
        Belt: Badass Diesel double-wrap, thrifted
        Locket: vintage, gift
        Clutch: vintage, thrifted

        The scarf would be to cover my shoulders in the church. I can leave it in the car when we get to the reception.  I'm also undecided on which scarf to take. I have a couple pretty ones in teal, so that's why I picked teal for this board.

        Wedding #2: New Jersey. Evening. Ceremony and reception in a backyard.
        -Cool, light material
        -Flats or wedges (lawn)
        -Extra-stylish because many NYC folks will be there, haha-- the pressure's on!

        Dress: unsure of the brand, Filene's Basement, Boston (the original...sob)
        Shoes: BC Footwear (ostrich!), Marshalls
        Necklace: vintage costume jewelry, gift? thrifted?
        Pearl earrings: gift
        Belt: Urban Outfitters, way back when
        Clutch: vintage, thrifted

        Okay, to be honest, I'm not really thrilled with these stylings (I think I need more POW! COLOR!). I'm going to have to go home and play a good old fashioned couple rounds of dress up!

        Thoughts? Ideas?

        57Grand, Part II (from 8/3/2010)

        ...I WON!!!

        I swore I didn't, because if you followed the polls, "He Loves Me Nautical" was way in the lead.  But I'm wondering if there was some sort of a glitch or something, because the turn-around of the winner announcement from when the contest ended was awfully long (other contest winners get announced right away).  So I double-checked, and what do you know, I really did win!!!

        The ladies over at Project Wedding put me in touch with the designers at 57Grand, so now I'm waiting to see how we do this.


        Just Shoot Us (from 7/16/2010)

        So I'm not a fan of spending money on engagement photos, which is why we aren't.

        ...We're getting them for free!!!

        After some (who am I kidding?  LOTS of) research, I tracked down a recent photography grad from U Arts in Philadelphia regarding our wedding photos.  She had already teamed up with two fellow grads to create their own business, but their portfolios were a little more artsy and a little less real people-y.  So I asked if they'd be comfortable doing a free engagement session to seal the deal with us.  It's a win-win.  We get free photos, get to try on a photographer for size, and they get to beef up their portfolio, and, if they deliver, a client.  Awesome.

        So since Richie can only listen to my fashion-related rants so many times, I'm turning to this blog to mention that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR!!!

        Money's tight right now (I get paid at the end of the month, and at my 15th of the month checkpoint I wasn't in good shape, so...), so I won't be buying anything new for the shoot.

        What I want:
        • A dress
        • Light, airy (it's going to be 90 degrees!)
        • Solid color (maybe neutral)
        • Some kind of statement jewelry (that pops against the neutral, light, airy dress, yes?)
        • Cute, comfortable shoes.  I hurt my foot last weekend and am actually more comfortable in heels.  So maybe a nice sturdy pair of wedges will fit the bill.
        • My hat, maybe?  I don't want to over-accessorize, but both Richie and I wear this hat and it makes for a nice photo prop.
         AND THEN, I need another outfit, since these things usually require a couple looks.  Looks like it's time to go shopping in my closet!

        Wait for it... (from 7/2/2010)

        ....I FOUND MY DRESS!!!

        I will Yelp about the experience soon, but for now I will say that I love it and can't wait to pick out my shoes, jewelry, and other accessories (belt?  fascinator?) to go with it!

        Oh, what the heck-- here's a picture:

        Look familiar?  That's right!  I posted it as one that I liked even before going shopping!  I love that it has a kind of vintage vibe (I got it in ivory).

        So my next move will be the shoes.  I'm thinking red.  Or yellow.  Or camel.  Closed toe.  Heels.  Like:



        [report via zappos]

        I'm willing to spend more money on wedding shoes than I normally spend on shoes, so I really would like for them to be rewearable (to events and maybe even the office), so they can't be too crazy!  I also would like them to go well not only with the dress itself (obviously), but with its vintage-y style. 

        Really, I just need to start shopping!!

        More accessory posts coming soon.

        57Grand (from 6/23/2010)

        So I found this contest for three bridesmaid dresses from 57Grand if I just make an inspiration board with a re-wear idea for one of the dresses.  I chose the Orchard design, in black, because it so classic and beautiful.  All of my friends would look amazing in it, and there's so much you can do to style it for any occasion, from a cocktail party to a day of running errands. 

        While our June 2011 wedding is probably not the best time for black, I was planning on picking it for bridesmaid dresses anyway because 1) everyone already has one; 2) if they don't, they need one; 3) it's the most flattering; 4) it's the easiest to re-wear; and 5) I'm not having colors anyway!

        So without further ado, here's my re-wear inspiration board (I want this outfit badddd):
        click to enlarge!!!

        • Dress-- Orchard from 57Grand: Any bridesmaid would be thrilled with a simple LBD that they can style however they want for the wedding and for summers to come.
        • Hat-- Rat-a-Tat-Hat from Perfect for a sunny day, a bad hair day, or both!
        • Bag-- Vintage straw bag, found on Love To Know: Lightweight and roomy so as not to slow you down.
        • Shoes-- Steve Madden Women's Sysco from Comfortable and sassy.  It really doesn't get any better than that!
        • Watch-- Unisex FL46LB Mini Plasteramic Watch by Toy Watch on Playful as all get-out.  Coaxes a smile out of you every time you check the time-- even if you're running late.
        • Scarf-- It's a Crewel, Crewel Scarf from An adorable piece that cuts out the need for a necklace AND a cardigan!  Too hot?  Just pimp your handbag with it, instead!
        • Earrings-- End of the Rainbow from Anthropologie: Delicate and statement-making at the same time.  Truly wear-with-anything earrings.

        Fun Things (from 5/15/2010)

        Wedding planning is so much fun, but it's also VERY stressful.  I imagine the stress part is true for almost everyone, but sometimes I wonder if certain aspects of planning this particular wedding make this one stressful enough for the books.

        So because of that, I go through phases of being ridiculously stressed out, saying "I'm not even thinking about the wedding again until [insert date/event/goal here]!!!" and then flip over, forget about the stressful part(s), and get ridiculously excited to jump on planning with the gusto of ten brides.

        Right now, I'm in the excited phase (don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the wedding-- and even more excited about the marriage-- all the time, but sometimes the stress eclipses it a little) and am thinking about so many fun things!

        Fun things dress!  A family dress has very generously been offered to me (something borrowed? check!), but until I'm able to try it on and make a decision, here are some of my favorites:
        Alfred Angelo

        Alfred Angelo

         David's Bridal
        Jenny Yoo (this dress is named Nina!)

        Jenny Yoo (this dress is named Hannah, which, according to Richie's mom, is my Hebrew name, haha)

        I don't know where this dress came from, but I LOVE the skirt.

        More fun things to come!!!

        Decisive (from 5/10/2010)

        After talking about my last post with Richie and my mom and then sleeping on it, I've chosen a color palette!!!


        NO COLORS!

        Observe the beauty: