Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Vendors Join the Team

I have very few vendors taking part in my wedding in comparison to most weddings, I suspect. That's not to say I'm forgoing the services provided by these vendors, but I've delegated to friends and family or taken on these projects myself. My brother's the DJ, my cousin's the ceremony musician, I'm the florist, my grandmother is one of the bakers, my sister's making the edible favors, etc.

Well, within the last week, I've added 2 vendors to the uber-exclusive little group of vendors we are hiring.

I had previously arranged for a friend (AKA "ex-boyfriend") and his fiance to shoot our wedding with my equipment with the understanding that I'd feed them, give 'em some cash, and edit the photos myself. And then I fell head over heels for the work of the photographer who shot my bridal portraits for free when she was just starting her business. We're talking madly in love here. And not only is her work great, but she's an absolute sweetheart to boot. The only problem? Her ridiculously incredibly absolutely reasonable or rather, cheap prices (Only $600 for high-quality professional wedding coverage? Unheard of!!) were about double what I had budgeted for photography, being the cheapskate, err.. budget-conscious bride that I am. Nevertheless, I managed to finagle (by which I don't mean "trick, swindle, or cheat", Mr. Webster) my way into affording to hire this lovely lady for the big day itself.

By the by, she just posted a blog entry about my bridal session.

Thus, Jenna Cole is our wedding photographer!

And for my next magic trick, I started browsing through some of the classified ads on Weddingbee, looking for reasonably priced (or more honestly, next-to-nothing or free, given my budget) day-of-coordinators in the Dallas area. While I absolutely want my mother involved in the day of my wedding, and the planning thereof, I don't want her to end up worrying herself sick over every little detail that I can't personally attend to while I'm busy being the bride. My wedding planning is very much a labor of love, but it would be quite a relief to hand the reins off to someone in the few days leading up to the wedding itself.

Enter Chrishawn Sontia. She's just launching her wedding planning business and is advertising free planning services to build her portfolio. [raises hand] Yes please!

We met up at Starbucks (my life revolves around Starbucks, I swear) just to make sure our personalities mesh before I entrust her with the details of our day, and she passed inspection with flying colors. She's super organized, gregarious, outgoing, and I have to say, I admire the woman's clothing ensemble color coordination. Just sayin'. She was rockin' the purple like I rock the brown and/or green 90% of the time (hence my wedding color palette).

Chrishawn will be helping me pull together a day-of timeline, run the show at our rehearsal, help decorate on our very time-constricted wedding day, organize vendor payments, and all that other coordinator-y jazz. She's also super willing to help me with my million & one craft projects, if I'm ever organized enough to decide in advance that I'll work on something at a particular time and place.

I'm very pleased I've found these ladies. I know our wedding will be even better thanks to them!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Somethin' Old Bracelet

I've been pondering whether or not to buy a bracelet for the wedding since I'm planning to forgo wearing a necklace. I spent quite a while window shopping for delicate little pearl bracelets on etsy. Then I decided to go shop in my own jewelry box instead.

I found two bracelets with potential, but they both needed some cleaning up. The top one had a bunch of gunk on the mother of pearl, and the bottom one had a nasty green patina. Either of them could serve as my "something old" for the wedding.

I like the art deco nature of this one a lot. I think it goes well with my finger wave hairstyle and vintage-inspired gown. If memory serves, my mom bought this at an antique store for me. I wore it to prom. It appears to have been well-loved by a prior owner. A chain link that I need to remove anyhow to make it fit better is almost worn through.

This bracelet was some of my maternal grandmother's "junk" jewelry. The clear glass beads were actually painted to look like pearls. When I started cleaning off the patina, the paint started chipping off with it, so I just went ahead and removed all of the paint. It has a really pretty clasp and I love its delicate nature. I also think it hangs better on my wrist than the alternative. The only downside I see to this one is the color of the metal. All of my other jewelry for the wedding is white gold or silver toned. I'm tempted to ignore that little detail so that I can wear something of my grandmother's for the wedding, even if it is just some of her "junk" jewelry. I guess it's been a little over 4 years now since she passed away. I'd like to include her and my grandfather in the day in some way. I miss them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Immortal Bouquet

Y'know how I said I was curious how long the Baby's Breath bouquet would last? Well, we made it on Monday, and here it is Friday. I took it out of the beer fridge (oh yes, we're all classy people here) in the garage today, and it looks just as fresh as it did the night we made it! I took photos galore as proof.


Click on any o' the above to enlarge.

This is very exciting news. That's not to say I plan on making the bouquets 5 days in advance, but I could make 'em maybe 2 or 3 days in advance, stick 'em in the fridge and not fret about it. Yay for fewer last minute projects!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Budget

I was a little wary of sitting down and really assessing where we stand with our wedding budget. However, I needed to figure out if we could expand one section of our budget, so I couldn't put it off any longer.

I know a number of little purchases here and there for crafting projects and such aren't completely accounted for in my assessment, but I'm still really pleasantly surprised to see we're still well within our budget!

I know money is often a bit of a taboo subject, but I figure I'll go ahead and come out and say what the budget is that we're working with. It puts the need for do-it-yourself projects and family involvement into perspective.

We're planning a wedding in the Dallas, Texas area with roughly 130 invited guests for $5000.

I don't so much feel constricted by our budget as I feel liberated. I'm free to edit out details I don't really care about, with the very valid excuse that our budget won't accommodate these items. Also, I'm totally addicted to bargain hunting, so planning a pretty large wedding on a budget which our society defines as very small (though it strikes me as a very significant chunk of change, thank you very much!) is providing ample opportunity to flex my deal-finding muscles.

Technically speaking, we have money in savings that we could also allot for the wedding, but we could not really do so in good conscience. I want to have a lovely, enjoyable, memorable wedding, but not at the expense of our financial well-being. I think $5000 is ample funds with which to throw a nice party, despite what the wedding industry may have to say to the contrary.

I know that some guests may find elements of our "budget" wedding tacky or distasteful but I suspect none of the people whose opinions I really value will fall in that category. I'm not willing to shell out the extra dough to impress everyone, which wouldn't be possible anyway.

There are some song lyrics I took to heart long ago. They go a-like this:

"But it's all right now, I've learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself"
-Garden Party, Ricky Nelson

And that's exactly what I aim to do! This wedding-in-the-works pleases me so much. It makes me giddy every time I think about it, not stressed about the reception it may or may not receive from my guests. I wish every bride could feel this way.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bridesmaid Bouquet Trial Run

Ta dah!

My buddio and bridesmaid Kelsey is finally back in town for the summer, and we've been making up for lost time by hanging out into the wee hours most every night. Today, she accompanied me on a very exciting Sam's Club run. At check out, my grocery cart contained: pudding, a whole baked chicken, string cheese, Member's Mark Ensure equivalent, blackberries, and Baby's Breath. That's just how I roll. The cashier told me that he thought only weight lifters drink Member's Mark Nutritional Drink, and then asked me how much I bench. Silly me.. I thought Old People predominately drink Ensure.

Then we went back to my house, I guzzled down an oh-so-nutritionally-balanced meal of chicken and "nutritional drink" (I feel *stronger* already), and we set to work on a trial run of the Baby's Breath bridesmaid's bouquets.

Kelsey models the bridesmaid's bouquet. Imagine she's wearing a chocolate brown dress. Note the approving smile. Yay, bridesmaid bouquet gets bridesmaid's approval. Maid of Honor, what say you?

With 2 bouquets under our belts now, we make a pretty good bouquet-making team. I'm curious to see how long this bouquet lasts, to see if it'd be possible to make it 1 or 2 days in advance, rather than the morning of the wedding, but either way, we can knock out the 2 fresh flower bouquets in no time.

I may also use fresh flowers for the mothers' corsages, but I have time to figure that out.

Marginally successful boutonniere

I also tried to throw together a Baby's Breath boutonniere, since my male attendant won't be carrying a bouquet, but I'd like to distinguish him from the groomsmen while also linking his boutonniere to the bridesmaids' bouquets. I obviously need to refine my stem wrapping technique, and I think it needs some long leaves or something as an accent behind it, but at least I know it can be done. It seems like a pretty hardy little boutonniere, too.

All in all, I deem the bouquet trial a success. It's currently hanging out in the kitchen, looking pretty in 1 of the 16 vases I bought 2 days ago at Ikea for about $2 each. These vases will ultimately be used as part of our centerpieces.

Look for tablescape test runs hopefully sooner rather than later. I'm supposed to meet with someone about buying table linens tomorrow, and I've found the fabric I want to make table squares out of.. I'm just waiting for it to go on sale, and hoping it isn't discontinued first.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lack of Officiantiness

Well, we met with the officiant on Tuesday, as planned. It wasn't until the day of our meeting that I bothered to ask Opie what denomination this preacher is. As soon as he said, "Baptist", I instantly became apprehensive. I try to be as open-minded about religion and religious sects as possible, but a large percentage of my negative experiences in regards to religion have come via Baptists. That's not by any means to say that Baptists are bad people! I've just encountered fewer open-minded Baptists than open-minded "insert-other-Denomination-here"s, and am therefore sometimes wary of interactions with Baptists where religion will dominate the conversation.

As we pulled up to the church, my apprehension developed into a heavy stone in my stomach. I've seen a lot of huge churches, but this one is pretty uber-huge, without becoming the stereotypical concrete super-church you run into on the highways of Texas. Beautiful traditional brick architecture, but seemingly the size of an airport, and with an underground parking garage to boot. Eep. As an agnostic with somewhat atheistic leanings, I felt rather like I was entering a trap, while driving into the underbelly of this enormous church, with the express purpose of explaining my religious beliefs to a minister.

I think Opie was (understandably) a little amused by my palpable fear, but in the moment, I was far from amused by his amusement. I hadn't had a one-on-one meeting with a minister since I went through confirmation in 6th grade, and I was even nervous then! Despite the fact that I've attended copious amounts of churches since going down a "wayward" path, out of respect for the other attendees of the church, I always keep mum about any issues I may find with the religious proceedings. It's certainly not my place to come into their place of worship and question their beliefs. Which is exactly what I felt like I was preparing to do. Whee!

We wound up having to employ the help of a security guard and some sort of church employee to guide us to the minister's office, which happened to be as far from where we parked as humanly possible, with a never-ending labyrinth of stairs and hallways in between.

And you know what? All my fears were for naught. The minister was one heck of a nice guy, and completely respectful of our beliefs, as we were of his. I think all 3 of us enjoyed the open-minded religious philosophical discussion that ensued. If anyone wants a religious officiant in the Dallas area, I would gladly pass you his information.

Unfortunately, just as we would feel insincere having a religious ceremony when we are nonreligious, the minister would feel insincere in performing a nonreligious ceremony when he believes that God is an important part of marriage. We completely understand, though it is a little disappointing, since he's a really great guy and the only officiant we have any personal recommendation for thus far... but we'll figure something else out.

Since I assigned finding an officiant to Opie, I'm doing my best to stay out of researching it too much, but I'll be somewhat surprised if we don't end up using a Justice of the Peace. I don't know what rates they charge, but I'm sure it can't be worse than the cheesy wedding officiants we've found offering their services online.

Friday, May 8, 2009


One of the things I've delegated to Opie is to find the officiant for our ceremony. I initially started researching it myself, but the prices and cheesiness of everything I was finding was just.. toooo much. The average rate for a ceremony in Dallas appears to be around $200, $250. That's ridiculous in my opinion. What all do they do? They show up in somewhat nice attire, read a few lines aloud from a binder, sign some papers, and skedaddle. That's a pretty sweet hourly rate for them, eh?

We thought we had a good solution to this problem. Opie's uncle would make a great officiant! Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons that I can understand, his uncle declined our request. Back to square one. I have a few family members of my own that would probably play the role well, but we think the wedding is probably already a little too focused on my family, so we're exploring other options first.

Opie's mom suggested a pastor from her church, with the recommendation that he's really good with young people. That kind of scared me off a bit. Despite my lack of religious affiliation, I've attended a lot of churches of numerous denominations over the years, and I normally can't stand youth ministers. Nevertheless, since we have no other recommendations, Opie called the guy up today. Apparently he's actually the minister for 30 & 40-year-olds. I didn't even know they had specializations like that, to be entirely honest. I haven't talked to him yet, but Opie laid out our requirements (no premarital counseling, at most only minimal mention of God in the ceremony, respect for our personal beliefs, no church ceremony) and he was pretty pleased with the guy's openness to our wishes, so we have a meeting with him on Tuesday. We don't know yet what he charges, but at least we've found a possible contender.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


or am I the coolest bride evarr?

It's official. I AM the coolest bride evarrrrrr.

In other news, Weddingbee rejected my application today. WHATEVA'. They don't know the awesomeness that they're missing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Prayer-Flags for the Pavilion

"Bunting" might be the more appropriate name for what I have in mind, but I've always loved Tibetan prayer flags, despite my lack of any particular religious affiliation.


I've been looking for some way to add something festive to our reception space. I drew inspiration from today's Offbeat Bride post, wherein the bride decorated her reception space with hand-made bunting, or affectionately dubbed "midwestern prayer flags".


I've actually done a similar DIY project in the past. I made something along the lines of narcissistic prayer flags when I was in Higher Level IB Art in high school. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the final result - I strung up a whole bunch of them at my gallery show at the end of the course. I do have a photo of a single flag from early in the series though:

Obviously I won't stamp a bunch of pictures of myself on flags to hang around at our wedding, but I could happily pour some time into creating a linoleum block stamp to print onto our flags! I don't know what the stamp would say/look like, but once the stamp was created, it'd be a pretty easy and fun (if a bit time-consuming) mass production project.

I don't know if I want to make the flags triangular like traditional bunting, or more rectangular along the lines of prayer flags. I like the look of both a lot. What do you think?

Although we won't have a tent, that's the cutest tent decor ever.

This, however, IS our venue, and I still think we could use them. It seems to me we could hang them from the cross beams between the pillars at the edge of the covered area. There are also lights in those cross beams, so we could still see them after dark! We could theoretically also hang them from the trees, but I think I'd rather stick with lights in the trees. Oh, we could hang some more bunting on the railing around the patio, though! That'd be a lot a lot a lot a loooot of bunting though. Where do you think I should draw the line?

Save that Date! (Part 2)

I'm about halfway finished with my finals and projects, with a nice little lull in between, so I'll finish filling you in on our Save the Dates. Also, I've heard from a number of folks across the country who already received theirs, so it's a good deal more likely my guests will encounter the final result in their mailbox before they find it here.

I played around with various nature-themed stamps to ornament our STDs. I ultimately decided on a leaf stamp, playing off the fact that we chose our wedding date almost exclusively based on the Autumn season we love so much.

I employed something of an assembly line method, despite the fact that I was running the show alone. I basically stamped one with brown pigment ink, covered the ink in clear embossing powder, and then set it aside to stamp & powder another card. Rinse, repeat, until I had just about the whole kitchen table filled with cards, and then I busted out the heat gun and melted the embossing powder on all of them at once.

The color of the leaves appears muted here because they're all covered in embossing powder, but have not yet met the heat gun.

I felt quite a sense of accomplishment as the stack of completed homemade cards grew and grew.

Here's the final result!

The embossed leaf is difficult to photograph properly since it's somewhat shiny, but this gives you a good idea. I really like the outcome! It's pretty simple, but it serves its purpose and doesn't look too shabby in the process. I initially wanted to order magnet STDs, but I figure most people will still stick this postcard on a clip or under a magnet on their fridge.

The stamps we used.

I've always poked fun at these stamps when we've received postcards (pretty well exclusively junk mail) that sport them. I then came to find out that they're the only 27 cent stamp that the post office sells. I could pay more for a different stamp, but then that would defeat the whole purpose of sending postcards - affordability. The postal rates go up on the 11th of this month, I believe it is. I wonder what the 28 cent stamps will look like, but I'm glad to have spent one less cent per card nonetheless.

Why, you might ask, do I find these stamps so amusing? Because I have a juvenile sense of humor, that's why.


I mean, REALLY! Did Georgia O'Keefe design this line of stamps or something? It's just ridiculous. But I used them anyway! I just chuckled to myself everytime I stuck the guava or papaya stamp on anyone's card. The kiwi stamp is also questionable when viewed alongside these suggestive stamps. The word "dentata" comes to mind.

This is one of those times in the planning process where I've decided it's perfectly fine for things to not be perfect. Stamps that resemble lady-parts on our "STDs" are pretty far from perfect, and that's perfectly okay.

Are there any details of your wedding that have become something of an inside joke?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Save that Date! (Part 1)

Opie and I dropped off all but 2 of the Save-the-Dates at the post office today! It's a pretty neat feeling, I must say. The wedding has felt very real for a very long time now, but sending out postcards telling all of our friends and family the official date makes it all that much more.. official!

I suspect some of our local guests might get the postcard STDs (this acronym is always fun for the immature like myself) by tomorrow. Before I went to the trouble of stamping and embossing all 60 or so of the STDs, I mailed myself a copy to make sure it survived the hands of the postal service. It returned to me the very next day slightly worse for wear, but perfectly acceptable in my mind. It just has a few small smudges and a neon orange tracking bar across the bottom of the front design. I think that's to be expected with something that's travelling without an envelope.

There are already a number of handy dandy heat embossing tutorials out there on the net (like this one by Miss Fondue on Weddingbee) so I probably won't go into great detail about that portion of its creation, but I will give you a general idea of the DIY process for our STDs.

First, I created the text portion of the STD in Photoshop. It took quite a few hours of fiddling around with fonts and layouts until I achieved something I was happy with. Then I showed it to Opie and he didn't care for the way his name was written. Seeing as the STD is an informal notice of our date, I felt like it'd be a great time to let my relatives know that he goes by Opie, since his real name (from which Opie is not even remotely derived) is all that will appear on our invitations. He was concerned that there'd be a disjoint in communication, and ample confusion if the STD just calls him Opie, and the invitation only calls him by his given name. I knew he was probably right, but I cried about it and fought it nonetheless. I know, I know, total overreaction, but I had just spent a metric $#!%-ton of time adjusting font spacing and alignment that 8 more characters would completely, entirely throw off, and I don't think my hormones were behaving well that day. Egh. Poor Opie.

Here's the first creation that caused the tears. Like the obvious pseudonyms to protect our identity on the interwebz?
The fonts are Poor Richard and Scriptina. I love Scriptina.

Unfortunately, Scriptina became far too much for the design when 8 characters were added to Opie's otherwise very abbreviated name. I had to start exploring new fonts. Explore, explore, explore. I'm not sure how many fonts I downloaded from in the pursuit of the perfect combination of fonts!

I was initially set on a serif font for the information and a script font for our names, as in the first iteration of the design. I eventually found that it needed to be simplified more than that. I wound up using two fonts from fontspace that seem to me to belong to a bygone era - Aspire (the Script-ish font) and Parisian (the san serif font). I actually found both by searching the 1920s tag on fontspace.

See? I put Opie's real name (not actually Opediah, though that's what I often tell people his given name is when they're being nosy) followed by his nickname in quotation marks. This satisfied both of us, finally.

The colors got corrupted in the file conversion of those images, but the vital information is in an espresso/chocolate brown, while the names are in green. I laid out the file with 4 STDs per 8.5"x11" page. I then printed them on ivory cardstock from Staples with my Canon printer. This went really quickly, and while I was concerned about paper jams with my top loading printer, there were no snags at all.

I then snuck into my old high school (I always go in holding a note like I'm on my way to the office or back to class, since I can still blend in as a student, which is much easier than dealing with the visitation rules. Don't tell on me!) with the ruse of visiting an old art teacher, and used the art department's paper cutter to neatly cut them all in about 5 minutes. Since I was being all sneaky-like, I don't have any pictures of this step, but it's a very standard guillotine-like paper cutter that threatens to chop off offending fingers.

^Like so^

While this project would surely have been expedited with the help of various willing friends or family, I ran solo on about 99% of it and still made pretty good time on it. I got a great portion of it finished during Opie's last business trip. It was good to have something to keep me busy in his absence.

Alas, it's past my bedtime but if my packed study schedule tomorrow allows, I'll finish filling you in on our Save the Dates!