Friday, August 22, 2008

Emplume for the Non-Floral Bride

Today I ran across a great new find and had to share. Emplume is a Michigan based company that creates feather bouquets for weddings. They use feathers, ribbon, preserved floral and foliage, and a little bling to create one-of-a-kind arrangements for your wedding.

This is a great alternative for an allergic bride or a bride wanting something a little different. I also think they would look particularly good for a winter bride. They will ship anywhere! I wish I could say that this alternative to flowers will also save you money but bouquets start around $150, bridesmaids around $75 and Bouts around $20. Yes you can find flowers for much cheaper but the bonus is these will last forever.

^This one is my favorite.

As much as a I love the above bouquets. I REALLY LOVE the Bouts! These are fab.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gifts for the Gents...

Yesterday was our "One month to the big day"...so that means as of today I can officially say "we are less than one month away"...ahhh it is so exciting yet a tad terrifying when I think of my to-do list in relation to actual hours in the day. Anyways, I have been getting my girls there gifts all along, and I have shared those with you--I felt that I should share what FI is getting his groomsman, since it is such a good deal! About a week ago FI had an "a-ha" moment in deciding what to get his groomsman, which was good timing if you ask me, since we are getting a tad bit close ( I was starting to for-see a night before shopping spree at Macy's :) ). Originally FI had decided on getting all of the guys ties that they could wear on the big day and to have in the future, he found ties that were $100 each, and although they matched the bridesmaid dresses perfectly, he still wasn't sure. He was looking around the web the other day and he ended up on Red envelope . There he found a great selection of cuff links highly discounted! They are regularly between $110-$140 and they are on sale for $39.99 what a great deal!! I know they still have some available, here is a picture of all the cuff links :

FI Ended up getting the Garnet Cuff links for the guys:

^ He received them in the mail the beginning of this week and they are beautiful. They all come in a custom red box, and I think the guys will love them. I believe he is still going to get him a tie, but at half the price of the other tie...and there are the gifts for the gents! What are you getting your groomsman?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Miss Capitol Hill Wedding Recap - Why You Should Have a Receiving Line

In continuation of my wedding recap - Husband and I left the church and drove down the road to our reception site at The Clifton Inn.   For my reception I was sure of a couple of the things from the start and one of those golden rules was : There would be absolutely no MC/DJ type introductions of the wedding party or of Husband and I at dinner.   I hate these at weddings...I hate being part of them and I hate watching them...it always makes it seem like a circus or a production to me instead of a nice gathering of friends and family. I was going for intimate and warm not Price is Right "come on down!" 

What I wanted instead was something that is kind of going out of fashion...a receiving line. I really wanted to greet people at the door of our cute Inn and welcome them to our reception...as though I was welcoming them into my own home. I wanted them to feel a personal connection immediately and not stand around waiting for the bride and groom to make an appearance.   All over the wedding world I see comments about how horrible receiving lines are, but I think that's probably b/c most people don't do them right.   

I think in order for receiving line to be successful you should adhere to a two key rules

1) You need to have a small wedding.  Sorry, but receiving lines take too long and get jammed up if you want to say hello to each of your 400 guests. Part of the reason people hate receiving lines is because they have to wait around. And really if you have a large wedding then intimacy isn't probably one of your main goals to begin with and the receiving line would just seem mechanical cause you couldn't actually spend time talking to each guest. 

2) It needs to be just you and husband.  This might be controversial especially if your parents are hosting but when you start adding parents, grandparents, wedding party, etc. then that's what slows the line down and people are standing around and waiting again.  Plus many guests may not know your parents or your maid of honor so they will probably feel awkward having to shake their hand and say some niceties.  But everyone there knows either you or your husband and they are all their too see you, so no one feels awkward saying hello. 

The bonus of the receiving line is that you don't have to go around table to table later, since you've already talked to everyone at least once....this means that you and Husband actually get to eat! 

All photos below the work of Linda Wallace 
^Waiting at the door of the Clifton Inn as our guests arrived

^Hugging and laughing with Husband's extended family

^We were lucky that there was only one way into our reception site so all of our arrivals were staggered since they had to drive in one-by-one. We never had a line of people waiting. 

^You might recognize this couple from Ben's awesome travel blog The Flashpacker and from their wedding last November. 

^Still more hugs!

^Our photographer was able to catch pictures with us and many of our friends and family during the receiving line. The artsy shots are great, of course, but honestly these types of pictures are what your guests will probably put in a frame or print out for themselves. And if you live in Chicago and are looking to buy or sell a house then make sure you contact that smiling face above! 

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Things I'm Pretty Sure I'm Not Going to Need for My Wedding (The First in an Occasional Series)

Not that I'm one to judge, but every once in a while I come across something that I find very difficult to imagine using during a wedding.  I don't know who might buy these things (no doubt somebody will) but I just say to myself, "I really don't think so." 

The inaugural installment of this feature is this idea from my beloved Martha Stewart.  Do you think a pile of discarded toothpicks looks too much like trash?  Well, if you glue tiny daisies to one end of the toothpicks, they can look like a pretty bouquet of flowers before you throw them away! (15 teeny flowers cost $48.)

Oh, Martha, no.

My Dress

Those of you that have been reading me for the past year know that I had a huge "issue" finding the dress. I went to many many stores and tried on MANY MANY dresses, before finding "the one' at Riziks in D.C. I had always known I loved Peter Langner--the first dress I tried on was during a Peter Langner trunk show, I just loved the styles/fabric/design. So it wasn't that much of a surprise to me, when I fell in love with the dress at Riziks and realized it was Peter Langner. Unfortunately, I did not fall in love with the price tag. I posted about this at the time, but it was hard for me to fathom spending that much on a dress, it was almost double the budget I had set aside for my dress. However, I knew it was the one and my mom and aunt seconded that notion. So I decided to get the dress. I knew it wouldn't be fair to go over the budget that Fiance and I had so carefully worked on, so I had to come up with the difference on my own. Thankfully I have amazing family and friends! My birthday and Christmas are one day apart, and all i asked for from my whole family/friends was American Express gift cards. It worked out, I managed to get 60% of the cost thru these gifts, yes I didn't get anything for Christmas/bday, but this is what I wanted more than anything. Two Saturday's ago I had my first fitting, I had to pay the difference that I owed ( thankfully had just received a bonus at work) and now it is PAID FOR! Upon trying it on , all doubt was erased from my mind. It is the dress for me, and I can not wait to wear it on my special days. I am so excited for the big day 33 DAYS!! Anyways,I present you my dress--I am sorry for the bad photos of myself

*****Mr.Alexandria if you HAPPEN to be reading this, even though you have been warned otherwise, leave NOW***********************

^ It will obviously be steamed professionally, but I love the fabric, it is silk and amazing

^ Getting it altered, you can see the sweet heart neckline, looovee it

^ It's very simply, but it is so me!! I can't wait to go back in September and see the beautiful bustle!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Judgment Day

I've just finished One Perfect Day, Rebecca Mead's expose of the wedding industry.  I realize I'm a little bit late to the party on this one, but I wasn't about to spend $25 on a 200 page book.  Talk about overpriced wedding-related products!
I thought the book was pretty interesting, and it's definitely worth a read to take a look at some of the more outlandish things people will do to create "The Most Important Day Of My Life!",  but in the end it's indicative of a problem I've noticed when anybody, especially online, discusses the cost of weddings: Judgment Day.  There is no other event or product that causes people to judge and dismiss others without even the slightest shred of evidence.  
Let's say there's an article online about how the economy is causing people to cut back on wedding expenses.  The comments will all fall into two camps: either it's "I had 450 people at my wedding and it only cost $19.99 and everyone said it was the best wedding they've ever been to" or "anybody who spends over $5000 for their wedding will get divorced in less than a year, guaranteed."  This thread on Consumerist is a great example, with one lovely person opining, "Any of you idiots who spend $20,000+ on a wedding deserve to have your spouse cheat on you and get divorced."  
Why is it weddings in particular bring out such senseless bile?  Nobody says, "Hey, I spent $350 on a car, and it's so much better than that $30,000 hybrid you're driving around.  I'm having fun!"  But, say the insult defenders, a wedding only lasts for a day.  However, there are lots of things which last for less than day, and nobody makes judgments about indulging in those inflated costs.  $20 for a movie and some popcorn?  Waste of money!  You could've rented from Netflix!  $100 for baseball tickets for you and your kids, plus hotdogs and soda?  You deserve to get beaned in the head by a foul ball!  You could've watched it on TV for a fraction of the cost!  
There are some wrong ways to do weddings, sure.  We've all seen them.  But there's no one right way to have a wedding, either.  Mead doesn't approve of spending too much money, because then you're falling into the clutches of the Evil Wedding Industry.  She doesn't approve of spending too little money--she thinks eloping to Vegas is tacky.  The only right way to have a wedding, in her opinion, is to do what she did; have your wedding at City Hall and then have a small party in your backyard while wearing a bright orange dress.  Well, that's nice, Ms. Mead, but I want to have a beautiful wedding wearing a white dress, eating great food, drinking great wine, and celebrating with my family and friends that I love--all of us dancing the night away to my favorite bluegrass band.  And that's right too.  It's not your business to judge me--I have a conscience and I will follow it.
To put it another way, this is the right way to have a wedding:

And this is also the right way to have a wedding:

And there are a myriad other right ways to have a wedding.  So can we please lay off each other?

(Although if you did have a wedding for 450 and it cost you $19.99, can you tell me how you did it?)

Did You Get Married in a Barn?

Every once in a while Martha Stewart features a wedding that makes me say, "I'd like everything exactly like that, please."  This is a very dangerous thing, as the weddings featured by dear Martha are always people who are much richer, have much better taste, and are much better at art projects than I am.  I know, I know, it's inspiration.  These weddings have prop stylists!  I don't really think I want a prop stylist at my wedding.  But still, here it is, my inspirational wedding, online.  

This is exactly the kind of quirky, rustic wedding I imagine for my own. 
A big reason these people are in the magazine and I won't be are these gorgeous, glowy trees.
(How did they do that?)
I can, however, say, "I'd like my flowers to look exactly like this."  
OK, OK, just one more picture.  Check out their beautiful cake:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Official E-Mail

Yesterday I sent my FIRST official wedding party e-mail to the lovely ladies who will be standing up with me. One of the girls, KLH just finished up the Virginia Bar Exam (YAY!) so I figured that was excuse enough to start sending frivolous e-mails her way. First order of business was, of course, the dresses. I'm not 100% set on the company yet. I want to see the dresses in person before saying, "yes, this is it," but I did want to show them what I was thinking of and what the price range we'd likely end up in.

^This is what I'm thinking, sans the flower girls and possibly sans the sashes. I love the chocolate brown and KLH, A, and College Roommate all look lovely in rich colors. From the Aria Photo Album

The plan (pending in-person meeting with said dresses) is to use Aria Bridesmaids because of their excellent reputation for quality and re-wear-ability. Aria offers so many style options, hopefully each of my friends will be able to pick a dress she really likes and will feel comfortable in. Plus they do petites!

^There's that pink and navy again! And the sash is a celadon color, it's a little hard to see in the small picture.

^This is kind of cool where each bridesmaid is wearing a different style AND color!

The price tag freaked me out a little at first, just the WIC* rearing it's ugly head, but after discussing with a few important people--the ones who have to buy and wear the dresses--I've been assured this is perfectly reasonable.

^Aria offers the contrasting hem on the top or bottom free of charge. Contrasting sashes can also be included free of charge.

ALSO, I LOVE RAW SILK aka silk shantung. It's a light-weight silk that has slubs (nubby bits) in the fabric and therefore a beautiful natural texture. It's very flattering and easy to wear and in October it will be perfectly weather appropriate too. Aria is one of the few places I saw raw silk dresses under $200. So as long as the dresses measure up in person, I think "select bridesmaids attire" can be ticked off the check list. Of course that still leaves fitting, ordering, receiving, altering, bridesmaids' dresses to go.

^This is my favorite style, #170. I like the empire waist and I think the tie straps are really feminine and elegant. I'd pick this one if I were my bridesmaid...haha.

How did you decide on bridesmaid dresses?

*Wedding Industrial Complex

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Escort Cards

Escort Cards--I've been to many weddings recently and seen various different cute ways to make/display escort cards. One bride incorporated the fact that her husband proposed while fishing, and made the escort cards in the shape of fish--another bride did the classic white escort card on a table--yet another bride had them in different colors and pinned to a board---there are many ways, but there has only been one way that I have had my heart set on since I saw it in Style Me Pretty months ago

^ *Sigh* picture me sitting at my desk gazing lovingly at this picture, yes I am a huge huge dork. I just Love this--love love it. However, I pushed it to the back of my mind, figuring it would either 1. be to expensive 2. to time consuming 3. not enough space for all the cards or 4. all of the above

So I went back to looking at a more "traditional" style of escort cards , as seen below:

Although I know this would be the easier way, a part of me just kept being drawn back to my "original love". So yesterday while at work ( during my lunch break of course :)) I decided to try to figure out how I would even go about making the beautiful display. Well it turns out Style Me Pretty walks you thru how to make it!

I contacted the Manzanita Dealer that Style me Pretty suggested--Nettleton Hollow asking them if I wanted to create the look how many branches would I need. They gave me suggestions, and were really quite helpful. I also located some fringe I could use, for the escort cards. Fiance feels pretty confident that he can make the base, and my mom, who is coming down two weeks before the wedding, feels she can help with the assembly. Right now I'm just hedging if we need this task. This will come to about $150-200 more than doing the "traditional" escort cards. Also it is much more labor intensive. Do you think it's worth it? How are you displaying your escort cards?

Silver? Harder to Pick than It Would Seem...

So, DRB (my soon-to-be) did some investigative shopping last weekend to educate ourselves on the process of selecting fine china, silver, and stemware. OK, can we say overwhelming?! I visited the Enchanted Owl in Greenville, a must-do for Delaware brides. Expecting to find a stuffy atmosphere with old ladies that could be Emily Post or Letitia Baldridge reincarnated, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did the store have beautiful things that I actually like (!), the staff was DELIGHTFUL.

We worked with Mary who was a hoot (no pun intended) and had great advice - while she was older, she was young at heart and quite spritely! She knew her etiquette and every item in the store, but steered us away from "unnecessary" items like charger plates! I figured charger plates would be a must-have, although she astutely pointed out, why bother - they get removed after the first course anyway and then there is just more to wash! We quickly picked a very beautiful, traditional fine china, but with a non-conservative flair to it. It's Marielle Indigo by Thomas O'Brien for Reed & Barton. It is surprisingly more affordable than expected.
The stemware was another easy pick - Nachtman (a division of Reidel) Samba. Again, surprisingly affordable for the quality.
And, then came the sterling silver selection. Now, that is a whole different ball game. There were no prices on the pattern I selected - she would have to call for them. But, Mary reinforced that the pattern I selected was really expensive. I was slightly put off by that - after all, while I look young, I'm not and my friends are at the point in their lives that they have some disposable income. I don't want to choose cheap silver.

So, when we returned home, I jumped on my trusty Macbook and found the silver I had selected. It's called Triumph by Tuttle. Um, yeah. So, a full set is $12,224!!! It's $700 a place setting with no extras! Holy Moly! I almost passed out. I truly had no idea that silver was this expensive. I totally thought a set was going to be between $2500 - $5000 depending on what we selected. Yeah, so that is not the case. Clearly.

So back to the drawing board on silver. Here are some other patterns I have selected that I also like - not as much but I can live with them.
Williamsburg Shell

Old Newbury


Hester Bateman (which sooo makes me giggle and think of Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter)

So what do you think? Which do you like best? Help me pick!!! And, if you have any pointers or advice in picking silver - I'm all ears!!! Speak up!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bridal Board Round-Up

In doing some internet research today, I've compiled a pretty comprehensive list of all the wedding/bridal message boards & forums out there. I thought I'd share my list. Which ones do you participate on? What are your favorites? Are there others that should be on this list? I'm looking forward to your input Brides & Brides-to-Be!!

The Wedding Channel
The Knot
Top Wedding Links
Brides (Magazine)
Party Pop
Indie Bride
Don't Be That Bride
About.com - Weddings
iVillage - Weddings
One Wed
Bunch O' Brides
Top Wedding Questions
Wedding Solutions
Wedding Tactics
Wedding Bee
Project Wedding
Wedding Ideas
PASH Weddings


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

OOT bags ..the actual bags

As I posted about before, the OOT bags are going to be a pretty big endeavour--with about 50 or so out of town guests, they are quite an undertaking. I already posted about the bags that we had chosen --we even received them in the mail! They looked just as great in person, were perfect with our wedding color scheme, I thought we were good to go. Than this past weekend was a huge wedding weekend for me ( bridal shower/dress fitting/make-up and hair trial) and The moms and aunts came in for the weekend. My Mom and Aunt managed to take the guilt i already felt , over not using re-usable/earth friendly bags--and doubled it. While at Giant they commented that although there shopping bags weren't beautiful, at only 99 cents each, it wasn't too bad.

There is also this option for a bag from whole foods

^ Both of these bags are 99 cents, so total would be around $50 vs $25. I am starting to believe though that the $25 extra would be worth it, to give our guests a bag they would hopefully use over again, and that is better for the environment. What are your thoughts? You think I should stick with our color scheme and the bags I have, or ease my conscience and go with the reusable bags?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wedding Planners of the Paperback Variety

As I mentioned in my previous post, a friend, The Librarian, dear dear friend of my Co-Worker, recently got engaged (hurrah!)! Co-worker is the Maid of Honor so after hearing about the engagement and having the requisite happy hour to see the ring, Co-worker asked me to join her on a Barnes & Noble trip to pick out a wedding planning book as a gift for The Librarian.

Just as no two brides are quite alike or have quite the same vision for their wedding , no two wedding planners are quite alike. The Librarian is no question a simple elegant girl, and a simple elegant planner was in order.

I went straight to what I consider to be the standard in all wedding planning: Martha (obvi!).

The Martha Stewart Keepsake Wedding Planner incorporates Martha's vast (and vast it is) universe of wedding knowledge into an attractive mid-size binder. There are little pockets for holding business cards and even a three-hole punch inside. I like this wedding planner because I like the Martha aesthetic and I know I'm generally going to like whatever Martha throws at me. This would also be great for a bride who is really the scrap-booky type and wants to savor every moment of her engagement and planning. Like it says on the cover, it's a keepsake planner, so it has lots of checklists, fill-in sheets, pockets, etc. to preserve your wedding planning experience. You might also like this book if you might have the opportunity to pass on your wedding knowledge to a friend or sister.

We decided Martha and her keepsake-ness might be a little too much for The Librarian and moved on to another of my favorites (I'm a master of the B&N wedding section), Simple Stunning Wedding Organizer.

Simple Stunning Weddings is actually a whole line of books by Karen Bussen, a New York-based floral and event designer. Karen has a whole line of books in addition to the organizer, including the one above which focuses on overall ceremony decor, another that focuses on florals and yet another on etiquette. Type "simple stunning" into the search bar at B&N.com and you'll bring up all of her titles. I looooove this line of books. You just sigh and relax when you look at the pictures because everything is so simple and effortless looking. The overall aesthetic that Karen presents in the book is really, as she says, simple yet stunning. This is a great book for someone who already knows what's what in wedding-planning-land and has a lot of ideas, but wants to get organized and get some extra inspiration. If you need more guidance, more precise check lists of what to do precisely 82 days out, etc. You might want to try the next book...

The Knot ULTIMATE Wedding Planner (emphasis my own) by Carley Roney and The Knot Team.

It says ultimate on the cover and it certainly has enough advice, organizing charts and check-lists to merit the adjective. I think this is a great book if you are looking for a solid guide on how to go about doing the basics: booking a venue, considering a florist, etc. Carley and The Knot team cover the bases of wedding planning in a comprehensive, easy to understand manner. This book would be my top pick for a gift, especially if I was unsure of the type or style of wedding the recipient might want, or how "wedding savvy" a couple might or might not be. Mother's of the Bride and Groom who want to help out and give a great engagement gift--I would recommend this book hands down.

However, we opted for this last selection for the The Librarian, Emily's Posts Wedding Planner by Peggy Post.

Image from Emily Post

After looking at and considering all the great option on the B&N shelves, Co-Worker opted for the Emily Post Wedding Planner. It covers all the basic bases (creating a budget, finding a venue, questions to ask your vendors) with a good dose of Emily Post's timeless etiquette advice. Co-Worker felt The Librarian would appreciate the simple and straight forward planning advice and enjoy the etiquette aspect of the book as well.

There are many more excellent Wedding Planners on the shelves. These are just a small selection of titles available! If you're looking for some guidance on how to get started or how to accomplish a specific task, you might want to look into investing in one. The books I've mentioned here range in price from around $15 up to $29.99 and if you purchase online, they're discounted anywhere from $5 to $10. Again, most of these books would be perfectly appropriate to pass along to someone later with all your wedding information inside. The Big Sister passed her planning notebook down to me and it's been invaluable as a resource to us.

Happy Planner Planning!

All images from Barnes & Noble unless otherwise noted.

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I'm Alive!

Yes, yes, I know. I knew it had been far too long since I posted when one of my CO-WORKERS (tsk tsk, why are you reading blogs at work?) reprimanded me for my lack of posting. In all fairness, The Camera accompanied Mr. Fairfax to our friend Sailfast's bachelor party at the beach, and the camera decided to make an extended stay of it.

Excuses aside, all kinds of fun things have happened! I've received a few wedding invitations in the mail, which I will show you as SOON as the wayward camera returns. A friend, The Librarian, got engaged and we have dress shopped and even picked up a great wedding planning book the title of which I will share in my very next post.

Here's to catching up (and it's 5 o'clock!), Cheers!

PS Making up silly aliases for people is a LOT of fun.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Taza Treats

Today I was reading the Express paper and saw this little feature on Taza Chocolate and immediately I thought they would make great favors for your guests.  Both the shape and the packaging is unique. They would look great at a place setting.  

Plus it's a favor your guests can actually use...the chocolate is used to make hot chocolate or it can also be eaten alone (for lovers of dark chocolate).  You can order boxes of 24 which would average out to about $3.50 each.  Not the cheapest favors but by no means the most expensive.