A Wedding Whirlwind

Now that I’m back in the blogging world, let’s rewind and recap the big event on June 11. You’ll remember our long to-do list (that did all get done!), the vendors we worked with, the wedding nightmares, our DIY projects, banners, centerpieces, and favors, as well as the invitations, and the rings. Well, I’m happy to report that it all went according to plan. Literally. It all went perfectly. I’m not sure what percentage of that was my stellar planning skills, and how much was
just pure luck, but the day could not have been any better.

The weekend actually began on Thursday night, when out-of-town guests started to arrive. I remember being somewhat surprised when we walked into B’s
parents’ house for dinner that evening and a large group of his California relatives were there. Wow!I thought. This is it! This is actually happening! Somehow, seeing these relatives made me realize the reality of
the situation. And it only got better. I can honestly say that was the best part of the weekend–getting to see friends and family that we visit with so infrequently all there together to celebrate our big day.

I’m fairly certain that we had one of the biggest rehearsals ever to happen at GCPC. Since so much of our family was in town, they pretty much all showed up at the church, whether or not they actually had a role in the wedding.

The dinner was wonderful. Since we had originally wanted to have Spin! Pizza for our rehearsal dinner (long story…), the chef at the Doubletree agreed to go off their regular catering menu and whip up some flatbread pizzas for our party. Complemented with toasted rav, chicken fingers, fruit, and cookies, our “finger food” rehearsal dinner turned out fabulously.

Brandon’s mom did these centerpieces–don’t they look great? And now we have a plethora of bud vases left over. Good thing they’re en vogue.

We used some time at the dinner to thank our wedding party and our parents. These gorgeous flower arrangements were done by our florist in these gorgeous vases from Macy’s.

Our flower girls (all four of them!) got T-shirts from PersonalizationMall.com that say “I’m in Charge of the Petals”, and our ring bearer’s says “I’m in Charge of the Rings”. The shirts are personalized with their names and the date. We even customized the hair color of the little character on the shirt. They turned out super-cute.

I gifted my bridesmaids with monogrammed tote bags from L.L. Bean (no longer available, but similar to these), as well as bedazzled “bridesmaid” t-shirts. And Brandon gave his groomsmen each a nice bottle of sustenance for the weekend.

That night, a bunch of our friends and cousins hung out at The Other Place. We love this group picture of so many of our favorite people at one of our favorite bars.

As I already mentioned, everything came together for a perfect wedding day. I feel so blessed that I remembered my earrings, got my hair done on time, and actually showed up to the wedding–all nightmares I was scared would come true.

Mom was the best at lacing up my dress. I’d say “Pull tighter!” and she’d yank and pull until I could hardly breathe. (My MOH did have to loosen it after dinner.)

These next few pictures are from our Private Reveal.

And these next couple show proof–we did it! We’re married!

Our one bad wedding decision? Birdseed. After being pelted with those hard little orbs, I had birdseed wedged in every crease and crevice of my dress, glued in the hairspray in my up-do, and even down my dress, staining the skin of my stomach. Oh, and I forgot to mention that somebody didn’t even open the bag first. Yeah, really…

In the end, our centerpieces turned out great, the Dairy Queen ice cream cake was a huge hit, my DIY banners and place cards were bright and colorful.

So, there it is folks. Our wedding in a whirlwind of a blog post. Don’t worry–it was that much of a whirlwind for me, too. Last night, we finished our last batch of thank-you notes (I know, we took a little too long. Sorry, Miss Manners.), and I completed making our 75-page wedding album on Shutterfly. Those were the last of our wedding-related tasks to be completed, so I guess it’s officially over.

The good news is that now I’ll be one of those women who, looking back over the years, will be able to say, “Our wedding was perfect. It was the happiest day of my life.” And I’ll really mean it.

P.S. We purchased the rights to all of our photographs from RVR Photography, but I’d still like to offer them kudos and a huge THANK YOU for the beautiful images. Not all of these in this post are theirs, but some are.

Time Management

Remember this post where I bragged about how fab our DIY centerpieces were going to be for the reception, and how much money we were going to save by ordering the flowers from Sam’s, using vases we already owned, and…?

Yeah, scratch that.

I am an expert at getting everything that needs to be done completed. I really am. I never missed an assignment in school, I get my workouts in every day, I work multiple jobs. This is a really fantastic quality of mine… usually.

It becomes problematic when I take on too many responsibilities. Because I’m so fabulous at managing my time, I have a hard time saying “no” to things (specifically when it’s a job or money-making possibility), and I have a hard time delegating tasks. If I can find any possible way to fit something into my schedule, I’ll do it. Often this means giving up time with my fiancé, with my family, or with my friends.

I know exactly where this problem stems from. My mom is the exact same way. She is so incredibly involved with everything in her life–I honestly don’t know how she does it. She heads about four groups at church, is involved in about four more, works part-time for a PR firm, writes mystery novels, and still finds time to make hospital visits, cookies, meals, and even baby blankets for anyone who needs one.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were going over scheduling and details of the wedding day, Mom and I both stopped suddenly and looked at each other. We were both thinking the same thing. We’re doing it again

We both realized that slicing oranges, defrosting flowers, arranging bouquets, tying ribbons, making paper cones and more is not what we want to remember about the weekend. We’d rather concentrate on the 250+ friends and family that will be gathered together for the first time in years. We want to visit, and talk, and laugh. We want to have our nails done, our hair, and our make-up, while drinking mimosas and chatting with the other ladies getting ready the morning of the wedding. Suddenly, the price our florist had quoted for the 25 centerpieces and the aisle decorations was not looking so shabby… and our home-made centerpiece idea was.

The nix-ed idea

So, sorry Martha. It’s not that your sliced citrus in vases was not a lovely summery idea–it was–our time is more precious. We’ll be going with The Flower Girl.

Lost in the Great Unknown

You can call me a blog slacker.

I know, I’ve earned it.

I would offer some excuses–you know, about planning a wedding, moving, job searching, car buying–but I won’t. I will, however, offer you a preview of what I’ve been lost in:

 Yes, it’s as scary as it looks. This is life right now. Piles. Boxes. Unstable. Utter chaos.

But have no fear. I’m back, and I’m stronger than ever…



That’s the sound of me checking another item off our to-do list. Have you noticed I’ve been doing a lot of that lately? Yeah. Go, me.

A couple of rainy Sundays ago, B and I decided it was time to venture back to the ring store. (The jewelry store, more specifically, for all of you Friends fans out there who might have been worried.) We knew with 100% certainty that we’d be giving Shane Co. our business once again. Besides their incredibly-enticing radio commercials, we were very impressed with the company back in Nov. 2009 when we were ring shopping for this baby:

Yes, B and I shopped together for an engagement band. Although the “when” “where” and “how” of the engagement were a surprise, we were both involved with the “who” “what” and “why”.

When we first walked into Shane Co., we were immediately greeted by a salesperson who asked first what styles we had in mind, then our price point. At the time, I was interested in a halo style, but knew these could get pretty pricey pretty quickly. Our saleslady assured us that she could help us find a ring that we loved in any style we wanted at our price point. Wow! This was a huge difference from the mall jewelry stores we’d just finished visiting. (We’d walked into a common chain earlier that day, and practically had to chase somebody down to help us. She asked about our budget, flipped open a catalog, and pointed to the only ring she said was available at that point. We got out of there pretty fast, to say the least.)

I ended up not being as deeply in love with the halo style as I thought I’d be, so the sales associate showed us other options for the next couple of hours. Even though it was a busy Saturday afternoon, she was incredibly patient, answering all of our questions, and bringing out choice after choice after choice until I found THE ring.

The ring we chose (pictured above) fit our price point perfectly–and it even came with the wedding band (which is currently locked up in a safety deposit box, but it looks pretty similar to this one).

Another fabulous thing about Shane Co. is that they sell all of their diamonds loose. So, although I picked out the band, B went back later and picked out the center stone himself. In addition to that fabulousness is the fact that at Shane Co., you can always replace a stone with one that’s even bigger and better–and all they’ll charge you is the difference in price of the stone. So, someday when we’re a filthy-rich environmentalist/teacher couple, we can go back and pick out a whopping 4 ct. stone, and we’ll only have to pay a few bucks more. (Or, we could choose a more reasonable half-to-one carat stone to celebrate an anniversary, I suppose.)

Anyway, after a wonderful first impression, we knew Shane Co. would be getting our business once again…

This time, we went in knowing that we wanted an “alternative metal” for B. As a Haz Mat Man, a white gold or platinum ring would be sure to dent up quickly. (They’re also really expensive!) Shane Co. carries two alternative metals: titanium and cobalt. With price tags around the $100 mark for titanium, it sounded like a pretty good deal at first. But then the sales associate explained that it, too, will dent easily, and there’s not much they can do to polish out any damages. Cobalt, however, is quite durable. It prices a little higher (about $300), but it would be the best choice for someone who plays with paint cans and chemicals all day.

I love the style that B picked. We liked the wider band, and the cornered style gives the ring a more modern look. He wasn’t so sure he’d like any rings at first–this is a guy who has never worn jewelry–but when he saw this one, he decided it might not be too bad 🙂

Now both of our wedding bands are tucked safely away, waiting for the big day!

You’re Invited! (Probably)

Sunday evening I put my fiancé, my parents, and my future mother-in-law to work in an assembly line. It was time to break out the box of invitations, response cards, and pre-addressed envelopes we’d ordered six months prior, and I knew it would be no small task.

(My mom never fails to have her “stoic and creepy” look in photos.)
Piles and lists, piles and lists
An enthusiastic… um, licker…

When I first started dreaming of invitations soon after our engagement, I assumed that we’d hire a calligrapher to address them in ink made of white gold (okay, not quite). However, as we began weaving all of the pieces of a wedding together, and budgeting (and re-budgeting) our money, invitations quickly soared to the bottom of our list–we decided we’d be doing those on the cheap.

Then, I began pricing vendors recommended to me by friends, from theknot.com, on Etsy, even materials to make our own from Paper Source, and realized that the $600 I had set aside was not even going to cover the invitations at any of these places, let alone the response cards, the envelopes, the stamps, etc.

Finally, I stumbled across 123print.com. Now, I will forewarn all of you (including those who will be receiving an invitation in their mailbox later this week), don’t be expecting one of those fancy shmancy styles with ribbons and tissue paper, blah blah blah. But I was pleased with 123print for the following reasons:

  1. Their huge selection of colors, styles, and themes. I’d had a heck-of-a-time finding a modern-looking, not-too-girly, summer-y, pink-and-orange choice at any of the other places I’d looked. But on this site I immediately found 3+ options that would mesh well with our wedding vibe. We finally ending up deciding on the Watch Love Grow style with coordinating response cards, rehearsal dinner invites, etc.
  2. They let you design all the wording, the font, the placement of the text, etc. at no additional charge. So many of the other invitation vendors had disclaimers listed like “$0.50 per invitation for an extra line of text” or “limited monograms available” etc. But at 123print.com, you design the whole thing from your personal computer on their extremely user-friendly website.
  3. The prices! Wowwwweeeee! The envelopes are free, the shipping is free, it’s fabulous! I’m just gonna lay it all out there for ya: We ordered 300 invitations with 300 matching envelopes, 300 response cards with 300 matching pre-addressed envelopes, and 50 rehearsal dinner invitations with… matching envelopes… for (drumroll please…) $165.74. This obviously kept us eons below our budgeted amount, which is now allowing us to splurge on professional floral arrangements for our reception centerpieces. (I know, I know… you’re remembering this post where I detailed our homemade centerpiece idea. More on why we’ve changed our minds later…)

So, they’re sent. The (Probably) part of my post title comes from the fact that we were originally told that our reception hall holds 250 people MAX. So, when we were sending out 300 invitations (inviting almost 400 people in all! (oops)), we starting joking about how we would have to call and “un-invite” people if we didn’t get enough “no” responses. Don’t think we’re asking you to decline, though, because after meeting with our banquet coordinator last night, we’ve learned that there will be plenty of space to accommodate a larger crowd. Phew!

Cookies, and Centerpieces, and Banners, Oh My!

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.

~ G. B. Shaw
(Is it bad that all the quotes I find on marriage are extremely cynical? That is, if they’re not incredibly corny.)

With less than three months to go, we’re officially neck deep in wedding projects (hence Arts and Crafts Night earlier this week). I’ve spent the last year and three months or so with DIY wedding projects flying around in my head. I even have a “Wedding” tab on my bookmarks toolbar with various inspirations, and spent countless hours pondering: do I like these favor boxes, these favor cookies, these favor cookies, these centerpieces, or these centerpieces? (You can see that I spent an awful lot of time on marthastewartweddings.com. I even started referring to her as my friend, Martha.)

Although I didn’t end up replicating any of those models exactly (Martha doesn’t seem as concerned about budget as those of us in the real wedding-planning world), I did use some of my friend Martha’s ideas.

For example, from this banner, I’m creating these banners (they’re a work in progress–see ribbon order details below!):

I have yet to add the ribbon, but it’s coming–actually, more than 175 yds. of ribbon are currently in transit to our doorstep. Mom found some awesome bulk-ordering websites this week, and for less than $40 we scored all the ribbon we need for the entire wedding.

Instead of cutting or punching out each of the circles individually (like Martha suggests), I paid a visit to our neighborhood Paper Source (my latest obsession!) where they sell pre-cut circles and circular labels in coordinating colors. I was able to download a template from their website, then easily print the labels right on my home printer. Honestly, I usually avoid anything printed at home with a template–but these were so easy! I just wish I had found Paper Source earlier in the wedding planning stages…

And, from this centerpiece and this one, we created our reception centerpieces, replacing the lemons/limes with oranges:

The actual ribbon for these pieces are expected in the tremendous ribbon shipment later this week. Also, the drooping flowers are not in the plan–we were playing with these arrangements so much that these daisies were a few days old.

In order to cut costs, we’ve decided to order our own reception flowers from Sam’s. Even though our florist is incredibly reasonably-priced and easy-to-work-with, flower arrangements just plain add up. So, we’re going the DIY route on this one. Hopefully we won’t regret it the day before the wedding when we’re slicing bushels of oranges and defrosting packaged Gerbera daisies.

We had planned to go DIY in one other area of the big day–our favors. We decided awhile ago to give decorated sugar cookies to our guests at the reception. And, at the time, my mom, future-MIL and I had fond images of time spent happily baking the afternoon away. But now, with a to-do list a mile long, we’re all about delegating. After some price shopping and time-managing, we decided to send this project out to the pros. We were referred to Shari at Smart Cookies Bakery, who was able to offer us a fantastic price for 260 heart-shaped, pink-glazed sugar cookies. And, the icing on the cake cookie was that she individually wraps each cookie, complete with ribbon in our colors. (This ribbon is separate from the 175 yd. shipment.)

Arts and Crafts Night

“The other kids did drugs; I did crafts. I never knew where I fit in.”

~ Kathie Lee Gifford
(Okay, I was really reaching for a quote there. Give me a break!) 

According to an advertising poster up in the window of JoAnn’s, March is National Crafts Month. B and I decided to celebrate by holding our first crafts night of the almost-wedding season. Tonight, we tackled three projects:

1. Tags for our Welcome Bags

2. A paper flower wreath

3. Shirts for a Harry Potter-themed party we’re attending this weekend… You’ll have to wait for pictures of these. I don’t want to spoil the Big Reveal at the party. Just be excited.

We got the idea for welcome bags when we attended a family wedding in Minnesota a couple summers ago. When we checked into our hotel room, there was a bag on the dresser with bottles of water, salty snacks, chocolate, and a little note from the bride and groom. We loved the personal touch, and knew we wanted to do the same for our guests.

As of know, B’s mom has pink and orange gift bags ready to be filled with snacks and sweets. I’ll include a note, as well as maps to areas of interest in KC. Then, the staff member at the front desk will hand the bags out as our guests check into their rooms. These tags will adorn the outside.

B hard at work gluing the white cardstock to the colored cardstock

B did all the stamp and glue work, while I did most of the cutting and trimming. If we find ourselves invested in paper-crafting in the near future, we may have to spring for a paper cutter. My hand is pretty steady with the scissors, but you can definitely tell these babies were handcut! I kinda like it though–makes it more personal for our guests that way 🙂
The rubber stamp is one we purchased at Michaels. I’ve also seen it at a couple of other craft stores. We love it, and used it on our Save-the-Date envelopes, as well.

The paper flower wreath was made from a simple kit I found at Paper Source today. (Bah! I could buy out their whole store, I love it so!) I have to be honest–I am not a huge fan of crafty projects. 

But this one was easy and quick–and the end result is definitely satisfying.

I’m picturing it hung on the front door of our new apartment. It’ll be a cheerful greeting to whoever comes to our door.

So, that was crafts night. Well, minus the shirts that you’re going to have to wait for 🙂

To-Do List–Check!

Alright, we did it! Phew! Wedding stress over.

Haha. I wish.

But we did get the to-do list made, and I’m feeling good about that. Seeing the list on paper as opposed to a running marquee through my head makes it all feel a lot more manageable.

View the running to-do list (and see me (hopefully) rapidly crossing things off!) under the “To-Do List” tab at the top of the page.

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The Waiting Game

Where thou art – that – is Home.  

~Emily Dickinson 

Our most recent marriage-preparation task has been searching for our future home. We’ve decided to go the apartment route for the first few years while we save for a house. 

I know, I know. Right now, you want to ask: Do we realize that this is a great time to buy a house? Don’t we want the extra space? Why are we willing to throw money away every month on rent, when we could be paying a mortgage? These are the questions we get nearly every day from concerned friends and family. What do I wish I could say to them? Mind your own business. What do I actually say to them? While we might have enough savings for a down-payment, since I don’t have a teaching job yet we’re not comfortable making that kind of commitment.

We began our apartment search with two-bedroom apartments. But after looking over our budget once again, we decided that in order to be able to pay rent, utilities, feed ourselves, and still put money away for a house, we should probably be looking at one-bedrooms. At first, I was a little disappointed. I had already mentally-decorated our guest room/home office, and didn’t want to give up my purple-and-yellow themed space (we’re MN Vikings fans!). And, although I’m still a little nervous about keeping our master bathroom clean enough for visitors, I’ve come around to the idea of snuggling up in a smaller space together and making it our own.

We’ve narrowed it down to two apartment complexes. For the sake of the Internet safety that I preach to my students at school, I won’t tell you the name or location, but they are both in the KC area. B loves his job, and we forsee free baby-sitting from our parents, if we stay in the area.

Here are the floorplans for our two favorites:

As you can see, in this floor plan, we love the kitchen. The island in the center has a ton of storage underneath, and creates a nice, open space into the living and dining area. The cabinets are modern (and pretty!), and it’s a flat-top stove. However, I really dislike having the washer/dryer in the kitchen. I know it’s hard to find a one-bedroom apartment set up any differently (just wait!), but somehow dragging stinky gym clothes through the kitchen is not too appetizing.

I also really like the huge closet in this floor plan. As I told B, there’s plenty of room for me to have one side, and half of his side 🙂 

This floor plan (which was harder to edit in Photoshop), is actually the one we’re leaning towards. We love the “L-shaped” patio, the huge living room, and the separate laundry room. The downsides are the smaller kitchen, a really ugly light fixture in the dining area, and gross folding closet doors. Luckily, the latter two are easily remedied, and the dining area is large enough for a hutch to create some extra storage.

The other interesting thing about this second floor plan is the difference a first floor or second floor apartment makes. We originally really wanted a first floor apartment. As a matter of fact, in floor plan #1 (above), we would definitely want a first floor apartment, since we could let Delilah out from our back door. However, in this floor plan, the bottom floor has low ceilings with a huge beam across the middle of the living room. Yuck. But the top floor has huge, vaulted ceilings, and incredible natural light. B and I have decided that it’s worth the extra calorie-burn to take D down and up a flight of stairs every time she has to go potty.

Neither of these apartment complexes is willing to hold an apartment for us until July (how rude!), so we are in the process of waiting to go on their waiting list. I’ve never been good at waiting (what can I say, I’m Generation Instant Gratification), and it’s killing me to not know for sure where we’ll be creating our future home.