Monday, December 29, 2008

sneak peak...and a welcome visit

I had grand schemes of posting blogs when I was home for the Christmas holiday. When the internet was out at our house for some of Friday, all of Saturday and Sunday, those ideas got nixed. I cooould blog while I am visiting fi in California (where it is 70 degrees right now!!) But who am I kidding?

Instead, I'll give you a little preview of blogs to come. SOON. I promise.

  • DIY-Christmas pictures ornament (my very first wedding-related DIY project EVER) In fact. my very first DIY project since I've been an adult.
  • Engagement photo book. (Can't post pictures until after I give it to E)
  • Ceremony decisions made (i.e. music, order of services, people involved)
  • planning the California reception (with FMIL!)
  • A California New Years! (and lots of pictures)

I had a great, but lonely Christmas...and I am looking forward to being in E's arms again. Every time apart since we've been engaged has been getting harder, and harder and harder.

I'm off to catch my flight! California, here I come!

(ps. no, the reality that I am moving to California has not set in. I still get super excited when I think about visiting it...much less living there :-) )

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the ladies dresses

This isn't THE most exciting post...but I realized I have never shared my bridemaid dresses on the blog!

This was my first and easiest decision in the wedding so far. I looked at about 10 different styles online and narrowed them down. I sent 5 ideas to my bridesmaids and got 5 different opinions.

So I went to a few bridal stores in person with my two younger sisters who were the models.

I was looking for something strapless (for me, the easiest to look good on my bridesmaids bodies--from 5'2 to 5'10 and size A to D....and size 2-10) and simple, with an option for two colors (by using a sash or bow in most cases), and tea-length, to contrast with my dress. I was also looking for a simple rouching or pleating to match with my orginal dress choice (which I have since left behind)

Meet little sis--dubbed K1

I loved the crumb catcher top online, so did one of my bridesmaids, but no one liked it in person. It sits far off the chest and looks like it would live up up to it's name: catching crumbs

on K1: This taffeta-like material was too shiny, the dressy was too long, and the bubble bottom wasn't bubbly. I LOVED the top of the one on K2 and the length, but again, no-likey the material.

I am stuck on this bubble bottom on much so that I cannot even consider at K2's dress. (and i do not like the trim) I also love the sash which is rouched and made of organza which makes a good accent.

I like the top on this one as well....just wasn't sure about the way the bottom of the dress layed.

So here is the Dress! Alfred Angelo 6453. (the dress on K1 in picture 3)
This is the color it will be in--Celadon. However, the sash with be espresso brown.

My plan is to let girls do the rest for themselves, head to toe. I have a few ideas for gifts to accesorize (maybe), but if not, here are my few guidelines:

Hair = au natural. How crazy is it that among five girls whose hair ranges from platinum blonde to dark brown...ALL of them have naturally curly hair. All I ask is that they leave the natural looking curly. It can be up, half up, all down, whatever they come up with.

Jewelry = no long, beady necklaces. Nothing too gaudy. Anything else goes!

Shoes = something strappy and silver.
Bridesmaid dresses = the only easy thing to check off my list so far! wahoo

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a ring to cherish

After finding out what worked and didn't work with E's man-band, I finally got around to mine. I had a million ideas and ended up finding some really neat props and backgrounds around my parents' house to use. It was amazing to me to see the ring transform with the background, so I chose not to limit my photos to one or two as Anne Ruthman suggested.

This shoot was really meaningful to me. It almost felt like a rite of passage: me and my ring have a life-time together ahead of us. I have no hopes or expectations of bigger, better bling 5, 10, or 50 years down the road. I LOVE this ring.

This ring will stay with me through my first year of marriage: the fights, getting used to living to someone completely opposite me, becoming a 'couple'. It will stay with me even when I swell up with a baby, when babies spit up on it and drool on it, when i send my first child off to pre-school, and when I'm at my baby's high school graduation. It will be on my hand in the good times and the bad, symbolizing our commitment to eachother on a day that is now just 6 months away.

I look down at it 10 times a day and think of my love who is sooo far away right now. I look down at it and remember the incredible surprise proposal--the surprise ring, and the incredible man who made it happen so perfectly. I look down at it with anticipation of what's to come.
It will be on my finger for every memorable occasion in my life from this day forward.

So, without further ado, my engagement ring.

I have the played the piano since I was 7 years old. I love my parents' piano. I love the modren look, contrasting colors and lines.

These are wild flowers from summers long past. My siblings and I used to pick flowers for our mom and then she always kept and dried them. This bowl was in her china cabinet filled with old wildflowers.

an old marble egg holder from my grandmother

an antique bell from my great-great grandmother circa 1900's?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

his wedding band is here!

I know that this is about 3 months early on's ultimate checklist, but i have ordered and received (3 days later!!) E's wedding band.

After being so inspired by the bees' engagement ring photos, I decided to get a little creative with his band (and a little with my engagement ring...i don't have my band yet). Besides, with E not here to see it...I couldn't contain myself, I wanted to show him NOW!

So I took Anne Ruthman's advice for engagement rings and applied it to his band. It will be easier to do at his house in cali because there are backgrounds that would better suited to him and the ring. Bling is easier to photograph I learned...his band is made of tungsten and it is scratch free and indestructible. Unfortunately it is also as reflective as a mirror, so it's hard to see the color of the band when it is on any background.

I have a ton more ideas for my engagement ring....that post to come VERY soon!

But until then, here are just the few pics I took for my hubby of his man-band.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the wonderful world of shoes!

I am not a shoe person. I can identify with miss glitter, when she says she was content with $30 shoes until she became a bride-to-be. Suddenly I JUSTGOTTAHAVEIT syndrome crept in and I can't get enough shoes! I am seriously considering wear 3 pairs through the course of the wedding day. One for the ceremony, one for pictures, one for reception. Am I crazy?

Not when I am finding sexy shoes for $20-$60! At the very least I am thinking formal (but still sexy!) ivory shoes for the ceremony and something brown, satiny's and/or sparkly for the reception. (See my color palette below)

I am totally oblivious when it comes to brand names...I just don't care. I am all about a great deal and great shoes. (I realize this is not everyone, and I'm not hating!) But for those who just want cute feet and don't need to show off the name brand...this is the post for you!

Here are some of my absolute favs: (I found these all on of my favorite places to shoe-shop!)

Mia--Tango: $13.98
(or I could go with the fun plaid for the reception!)

Franco Sarto--Universe: $19.15

Coloriffics--Tori: $62 (IN ivory) $16.95 (in gold)

Coloriffics--Fantasy: $68

Coloriffics--Donna: $57

And Lastly, what a STEAL!!

Chinese Laundry--Jemmy: $12.99

HOpe you've enjoyed my heavenly romp into wedding-shoe land.
Now, can you help me decide?
Below is a good board to show my style and colors of the wedding.
Sage/Celadon green, chocolate brown (guys are wearing brown tuxes, girls brown sashes and green dresses) and ivory (for flowers, my dress, etc)
Our wedding ceremony is going to be a traditional on in our church, and our reception is at a country club. I want it to be rustic, elegant, woodsy, romantic, with a touch of fairy-tale (think hansel and gretel)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

lovely idea boards

Wedding 1 by LatteLove

How awesome is this?!

The options are endless, but I found all the stuff that I love...and it pretty much all matches with the wedding theme--rustic, elegant, earthy, but classy. The one thing I was surprised I liked was the broze accents.

Reminder to self: figure out how to incorporate bronze into your decor
(any ideas out there?)

time to slooooow down

This week I had my first bridal breakdown. It happened over several days, and I decided I needed to get away from all things wedding for a just a few days. Were that I was one of the bees like snaps or martini that got to go away on VACATION from all the planning WITH my love.
But alas, 2 weeks and counting til I see E, and it will be all wedding and family. I am saving my travel excitment for my Italian honeymoon!!

I am slowly coming back....and I am ready to make some decisions! The big one will be announced later as I have a meeting with the lady whom this decision post will be about, and I want to bring my blog pictures and more details. Soon!!

But another big one guessed: a honeymoon decision!!

e and I still have all the details to discuss in a couple weeks, but we have settled on a honeymoon in Italy, with goals to visit Florence, Venice, Rome and Sorrento, at least.

E traveled to Rome during his semester abroad in 07 and has been DYING to go back and everything else romantic Italy has to offer. We've got great recommendations from people who travel a lot and whose opinions we trust, so we're going for it!

Is it going to be a financial hardship? Maybe. Maybe it's not THE most responsible decision ever, but as Fi says, "If we don't do it now, we never will."

So, until next time, I leave you with....

image 1 & 2 from

(can't find the original citation!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

more DIY inspiration

My DIY, graphic designer cousin just unleashed yet another limit-less, bottomless, plethora of ideas for me. I"m probably the last DIY bride to find this, but here's all you need to do:

go to

Search "DIY wedding" (or "DIY wedding invitations" or "DIY wedding centerpieces")

voila! hundred of beautiful pictures appear! I'm in awe....and have found yet another wedding obsession.

just take a look

Update: Registry Blues

Remember my awful Macy's registry experience?

Well, just a few days later, I received an email survey from Macy's asking about my experience. I gave them pretty bad ratings (which was difficult for me to do! I didn't want to seem like a total bridezilla). But I followed them up with specific comments about what I was dissatisfied with: lack of service, lack of knowledgeable staff, limited selection, and being told to go online to do our registering (NOT an option for me when picking out bedroom sets and bathroom decor!)

I received a call from Sandy at Macy's--the woman who was off on the day we went to register. She applogized profusely and said she felt terrible about our bad experience. She convinced me not to give up on Macy's (however, we are finishing registering in California...the Macy's are much larger there). She is also planning to send me a Macy's gift card! (and the first thing FI says is: "For how much money? You mean you didn't ask how much?!"). NO dear, I didn't ask how much. I didn't expect a giftcard, but it was a nice gesture, and I appreciated their commitment to customer service.

(I fully believed all those customer surveys go into a black pit once submitted)

So Macy's has been moved back into a reputable place in my book. Though i still wouldn't recommend the Orland Square Macy's unless you call ahead and make sure Sandy is there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

my first big commitment

I did it. I finally made a decision on my centerpieces.

I've been looking almost non-stop on websites, in magazines, and at florists. I think I have been more concerned about my decorations than I have been about my dress!

My two biggest concerns were: keeping with my theme of woodsy, rustic, elegance--and finding something SUPER cheap!
Some other concerns: I wanted to put them all together myself, and if they needed to be last minute put together, they needed to be easy, I didn't want anything too tall, or too inconspicuous (hey, I'm working hard on these, they should be seen, right?!)

Here are just a few of the million ideas I've considered: (All photos should be credited towards

Aren't they all just so much fun?

I love the vase of apples...wish I was getting married in the fall!

But all these lovely pictures (and MANY more) were giving me idea overload. I couldn't pick what I wanted and just LOVE too many things to actually do.
Thank heavens for my wonderful aunt, who is doubling as florist, seamstress, and head wedding designer (though she would never claim the title!) finally convinced me to just make a decision and stick with it!

And I had C, my friend and BM (who is getting married just a month after us!) come along and help me to be decisive.

So we headed over to Hobby Lobby's half-price sale and I picked up these:

So 22 of these suckers were loaded into the a whopping $1.75 each!

I love them!
(And I may need to remember this in the future when I find a bigger, better idea and start getting bridal regret)

We'll be filling the bottom of the bowls with rocks (either white rocks or little river rocks, then water and mixing in white and green hydrangeas like these:

We'll tie raffia around the bowl (the bowls I got have a slight rim)

What a relief, and what a fun night with two wonderfully helpful people!

Here is C goofing around in florals

And Aunt E helping me pick a vase for my ceremony flowers...4 dozen white tulips in two big vases on pedestals at the front of church

I spent a total of $65 for 22 fishbowl vases, two large column vases and 4 rolls of rafia. Yay!

Another post on my thrifting for more decorations to come...

Friday, December 5, 2008

something old, something borrowed

Last night I convinced my mom to take out her old wedding dress for me to try on. We both knew it was not something i might consider wearing, but it was still a sentimental moment for us.
You see, my great-grandmother made the dress for my grandmother, who got married in 1954. My mom wore it for her wedding 29 years later.

But this is what I saw when we took it out of the box.

It looks so yellow. It's lacy and long sleeved and has sparkles (my one vice when it comes to wedding dresses!)
But my mom is pretty laidback when it comes to wedding things and did not mind the dress at all. Wish I had the picture of my grandparents to show you the dress for it's orginal wearer. Here is the dress circa 1983--see how cute they are?! is me in it in 2008!

Not so my style, but so much better than i thought.

The bedroom lighting made the dress look much worse than it looks on. I am thinking of doing a pre-wedding shoot with this dress just to create an album for my mom and grandmother. I can't believe how well it is doing for being 54 years old!

Fast-forward to vintage dress #2. Another dress, another story.

My dad's older sister, my Aunt Dee, died of luekemia when I was in high school. She had a son, my cousin, who I have always been close with and I spent a lot of time over at their housegrowing up. When I got into junior high and got very crafty, she would have me over and we would cross stitch, knit and quilt together.

She made BEAUTIFUL quilts (I'll have to post one on another day) and I'm so sad that I won't be getting my dream wedding ring quilt from her for my wedding. I asked her for it when I was 11 years old.

Isn't it cute? I just love the homey feel it has. But I don't think one not made by my aunt would be the same.
My uncle remarried a couple of years later and cleaned out a bunch of old stuff from their house. He knew how close Aunt Dee and I had been, so he asked me if I wanted to have her wedding dress (he has a daughter, but she is much too big to wear the dress and is already married) So I took it, having no idea if I would ever like it or fit into it, and promptly forgot I had it. We found it when I searched for my mom's dress in the basement and I decided to try it on too!

Here it is, in the box, unopened since 1978.
And here it is on me! Yikes, check out those sleeves! Believe it or not, I like the neckline. (my mom thinks it's terribly ugly) It's so vintage and fun, but it is too big everywhere and it's again, not me. (I'm not sure anything vintage is)
But I had a blast trying on these dresses!
Did you try on any vintage dresses, or wear your mom's dress for a photo shoot? How did you honor your mom or grandmother (or aunt!) with using/wearing their vintage wedding things?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Registry Blues


This is the best descriptor of my experience at Macy's.

E and I trekked to Macy's on Monday before he left for home, hoping to complete the registering we started at BB&B and find a comforter set we both loved.

Outside of the fact that we received poor service, no one knew how to get us started on a registry, there was almost NO selection in the store, and we were both told to basically register online....

You mean, besides that? The thing that irritates me the most is that I went online, just like they said. And I actually found something I think I like (much to my surprised). And E likes it too! We decided on a modern southwestern style for the bedroom. We'll be in southern california. I can dig it.

Here it is, in all it's Calvin Klein glory:

So, I log into my wedding registry account. I search "Sequoia" in the bedding section. Imagine my chagrin when I find that it is not available for registry!

Maybe it was because it is on sale (see, guests, affordable gifts!) But anyway, I have searched high and low (OK, at BB&B and Carson's) and can't find anything that fits both our styles and still fits E's dream of a Southwestern-looking bedroom.

Have you ever had a major registry dissapointment? Did you find yourself buying things yourself, or registering at multiple places just for an item or two?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

back at it: tuxes and a good vendor review!

It's been a few days, but I had a good excuse.

FH has just been dropped off at the airport, tears wiped away as we countdown (again) til the next time we're together, and I am back at work as though my routine hadn't been altered a bit with holidays, shopping, wedding planning and, of course, quality time with FH. But it has, and I have lots of news!

We accomplished a lot this weekend, but amongst registering, DJ interviewing, pre-marital counseling, and more...

We picked out a tux, and I LOVE it.

I am really excited about this right now. Still have to decide on a color scheme for vests/ties...but we can get more specific later. The cut is classy, clean, and the pants only have on pleat (if you have seen two pleated will know why this is a good thing)

We stopped by Men's Wearhouse Tux, and didn't have a great experience with the salesmen there. It might have been a little bit cheaper there, but the woman who helped us at Formally Modern Tuxedo was so much more helpful, and with seven tuxes, we get two free! FH decided to be nice and split the cost with his GMs and it will come out to about $125 each guy.

There are three Chicagoland locations for Formally Modern, but I had a good experience at one of them and I would imgine they are similar at the other two locations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

He's coming, he's coming!

Tomorrow is the day, and boy do I have a lot of lists to make still.

E is coming out for the Thanksgiving weekend to see me and help on some wedding details!
As difficult as it is to plan without him here--I know that when he gets here, the last thing I'm going to want to do is spend our time getting stressed about little wedding details.

So here is my goal:

Spend time with family
Keep wedding planning simple and straightforward
Do a little every day
Don't talk about wedding nonstop!

E is not a big fan of talking via even now that we have a cell phone plan together, we aren't using all the minutes we have. This means that when we talk, I have a million things wedding-related to talk to him about and he gets overwhelmed or frustrated. He always lets me know what he thinks of my ideas and asks what he needs to take care of, but certainly doesn't obsess about every detail like I do.

Does your future hubby get sick of talking wedding 24/7? How stay afloat when you feel drowned in wedding planning? Do you ever just need to stop wedding talk and focus on eachother?

Monday, November 24, 2008

no cake!

The night we got engaged, FH took me on a dinner cruise.
We didn't talk much about wedding, but the one thing we decided, before anything else, is that we didn't want a cake. Neither of us has ever liked why pay that much money for what we could both consider is a decoration more than a dessert.

I know we are breaking tradition! No cake in eachother's face, no picture cutting the cake together, no cake for our guests? It practically won't even be a wedding (or so my family is telling me!)
But we came up with a much better idea....

yep, a chocolate fountain with tons of goodies to douse in chocolate!
I can't be the only one to resist the cake tradition. What fun dessert ideas are you having at your reception?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I finished designing my save-the-date last weekend with my cousin (Thank you!!) Here is a peek before it goes out to all the guests!

(chocolate brown and sage green are our wedding colors)

The actual s-t-d went out with a link to our website information at the bottom...but i left them separate for the blog. We decided to email the s-t-d to save postage and printing costs.

The orginial picture I was going to use from our e-pics was this one, but I thought it looked too serious...and I wanted it to look happy! But this picture is so 'us'

Friday, November 21, 2008

two-reception invitations

my future MIL just emailed me saying that she still hadn't come up with any ideas for what to do for invitations. What to do...

Here is our dilemma:

We are having a rather large (200 people) wedding and reception in the midwest, where I am from (and where a huge majority of our guests are from). My FH and his family are from southern california, and my FMIL is hosting a small dinner party-type reception the month after our wedding for those who couldn't travel (more for friends than family)

We were stuck on how to word invitations, because I didn't want to send wedding invitations to all of my FMIL's friends (and she has LOTS of them), but already some of them were asking when the wedding is and that they would plan on traveling to Chicago for it! We don't have I didn't know what to say.

I bee-lined (no pun intended ;-))it over to the weddingbee boards for some help. After a week of research, here is what I came up with!

-+-We are sending out invitations to all of the people(friends, family, etc) in the midwest for the midwest wedding and reception, as well as close family friends and immediate family of my FH.

-+-We are putting california reception inserts in the invitations of both sides of the immediate family, wedding party and the close california friends.

-+-All of the other friends and more distant family will get a wedding announcement with the california reception insert (we will use the same insert in the wedding announcement as in the midwest invitation)

make sense? Yeah, it took me a while to figure it out too.

Thank you to all of you bees and friends who have gone before me and helped me to handle this invitation situation!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dress Quest (i.e. Dress Mess)

I still have a hard time admiting i am an impulse shopper, because I always budget my money. I just spend it on the wrong things.

Anyway, take that habit to wedding dress shopping. Of course, the first dress i try on is the perfect one. It is classy and Jaqueline Kennedy styled and simple. I love it. And it is exactly my budgeted cost. I tried it on twice and got rave reviews by everyone in the store (moms and other brides)...but my family and my BM's still weren't convinced.

Fast forward to one week later. I found a new favorite dress that looks entirely different, and is roughly 1/3 more $$ than the first. But this time I am convinced this is the one! I find out I can get a much better deal on dress #2, if all my bridesmaids purchase their dresses from the same boutique (which will cost about $15-25 more per bridesmaid)

I am having a hard time not purchasing dress #2 yet, but I wait, because this dress is one thing I can't splurge on...and I feel a tiny bit guilty about making my bridesmaids pay more.

Then, I search the bee boards again and find the website
I find a dress similar to the "one" that is pre-owned but never worn. So dress #3:

Now I am stuck. Do I save a couple hundred $ for dress #3 that I haven't seen in person or tried on...or do I go with the one I've pretty sure about, which will cost myself and bridesmaids a bit more, or do I start over and visit more places? (I've been to 4 stores by now....but there are plenty of others)

I am getting impatient. I just want to have this dress decision done!

How have found the dress of your dreams and still gotten a deal?

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