Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I'm sure many of you already subscribe to Daily Candy, but if you happened to miss this week's Deal's Email, get thee to Daily Candy NOW for a 25% off coupon on Gryphon Stationer's beautiful letterpress!
Thank you so much to my wonderful boss who made sure I saw the email today! Gryphon Stationers
is now making letterpress available to you and me! They are so beautiful and classic. If it's too early to buy invitations (it may be for me), its always good inspiration for the future!

Style Me Pretty Picks Monachetti as Vendor Fave

I've made no secret of how much I loved our wedding video from Monachetti and I'm happy to say that their talents are really starting to be recognized. Monachetti was recently picked to be in Style Me Pretty's Little Black Book of the best wedding vendors.  Only 3 vendors are chosen for each category so it's quite an honor to be chosen. They are featured as a top pick for videography in the D.C. area. 

Monachetti has also launched a new website and their new featured video is beautiful! Check it out below. Don't you just love the bridesmaid dresses???

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Surname Shmurname, Right?

I have one of those last names that garnered me quite a bit of negative press in high school, as well as unwanted attention. I heard the same jokes over and over again, and everyone thought they were some original hot shot when they said "I bet you never heard this before..."

The years went on, and even though people got older, the jokes still come. I was a 10 year old saying "I cannot wait to get married so I can change my name! I hate it!"

Now I am getting married, and get this... I'm conflicted!

For so many years I harbored bitterness towards this grief-causing moniker, and now that I finally have the option to change my name, I'm biting my lip!

Mr. JeffMemorial's last name is really nice. I've practiced the signature (of course), and it looks beautiful. It sounds lovely. I've said it a few times around girlfriends and we all smiled and giggled. To say it outloud makes my heart flutter in a wonderful way.

There is this part of me though that is sad to lose my last name. It's almost like it became a part of who I am. It's become my own badge of courage and something I'm proud of, and not from a making fun of standpoint.

I guess when you're younger it's easy to want to change your name. We constantly wish that our parents had named us something different. Heck, it took me forever to find my own first name not boring and frumpy. Now I like it. I kind of grew into my name, so to speak. Instead of it just being a name, it really became an identity... and maybe that's just a part of growing up.

And my mom was right. She would tell me that you may not like your name now, but when you're older you'll realize how lovely and distinguished it sounds.

As a compromise for myself, because I really do want to take Mr. JeffMemorial's name, I am moving my current last name to my middle name when I get married.

I vainly thought about hyphenating and keeping my maiden name prominent, but it sounded and looked ridiculous. It just wasn't an option. My name, as it stands with my first, middle and last name comes in at 22 letters. There is no need to add more to the mix.

This kind of falls under a category of things that come along with wedding planning that you didn't expect to be dealing with. It's not necessarily bad, but I've noticed that part of the planning process, whether we like it or not, is examining who we are now and where we really want to go.


I'm happy with where I'm going, but I'll miss my joke of a last name.


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Finding THE dress

So I found the dress this weekend. Mama GP and FMIL were in town for the weekend and I included them in on the dress shopping experience - I kind of had to include Mama GP since she was buying!

I went to the David's Bridal up in White Flint where I had had a not-so-pleasant experience one other time, not horrible but just not the type of treatment you imagine when shopping for your wedding gown. The experience was replicated on Saturday afternoon with a twenty minute wait upon arrival and then definitely not the one-on-one attention that I should have received. It's funny though, because a pal of mine had a GREAT experience at David's Bridal, so I think mine was one of those that you hear about, but honestly, aside from the fact that the woman helping me was helping at least one other person and wasn't there when I needed her (often leaving me stranded unziped, untied, or just confused) I wouldn't advise people against David's Bridal - they have great dresses at reasonable prices, a great option for the bride on a budget.

So after trying on seven or so dresses - all of which were pretty, but left me feeling lukewarm, we headed up to I Do, I Do in Gaithersburg.

I was pretty excited since I had heard rave reviews - it's a bridal consignment shop, but they don't just carry used wedding gowns, they also sell new ones. It's one of the few places in the DC area you can find Alfred Angelo dresses. These were the dresses I've been swooning over since I got engaged back in June so I was pretty excited to finally make it up there.

The service we received at I Do, I Do was WORLDS difference than David's Bridal. I was the only bride in the store, I picked out four dresses. One was a dress that the woman helping me felt I should try on. So I did. Just for giggles.

No dice. I know what looks good on me and what doesn't. I know I have womanly curves, a slightly bigger bust than I had seven or so years ago. I don't deny this, so I know that certain dresses make my hips look about ten sizes bigger than they are and I know that spaghetti straps make me look like a linebacker. It's okay. I know this all.

Dress number 2. I come out and it's perfect. It's absolutely perfect. I admire myself in the mirror. No pictures allowed till you order but I knew, I just KNEW that that was THE dress. So I look over at my mom who's eyes are teary and red, and I start tearing up and it confirmed everything. So the cameras come out, the pictures are taken. They put a veil on and the woman takes me in to get my measurements.

I take a look at some more veils - still very undecided on that front, and Mama GP pays for the gown. It's ordered. It'll be in in January. Oh my God. I'm getting married and I have a wedding gown. Funny how little things like that just make it all sink in a little bit deeper.

They say that when you find THE dress, you just know. I didn't understand this until I tried on this gown, and I knew. It was the faster beating of my heart, the tears in my eyes and my mothers and the fact that as I looked in the mirror I saw myself on my wedding day in that dress, waiting at the end of the aisle with my father and mother looking down at Mr. GP.

I can not wait till September 12, 2009.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

What kind of Bride Are You?

According to Vera Wang on Weddings I am a Romanticist Bride:

The Romanticist is ruled by higher passions than the reality of the world around her. She considers life a marvelous adventure and revels in the opportunity to realize her deepest emotions. The Romanticist is transported by a dress. For her, fantasy is always a reality. Her innate femininity and love of beauty can inspire a gown of great fragility and enchantment.

• Delicate ruffles, billowing sleeves or a lavish, fully-bustled train are some of the extravagant details that epitomize a romantic wedding gown. • Whether it’s a tulle confection worthy of Degas or an ode to Scarlet O’Hara, the Romanticist refuses to shy away from anything pretty. • Her choice of attire never betrays her true nature. For her, looking girlish need not mean sacrificing style. • Femininity and flirtation are her preferred tools of seduction, and she embraces them equally.

There wasn't a quiz or anything to take on her website, but I definitely identify most with this description over any of the others - especially the parts I highlighted above. When I was looking for a dress for my wedding, I was choosing between two: one very sophisticated and romantic dress with English accordion lace and another with dramatic folds and pick-ups. I looooove pick-ups, but in the end, I went with something that I didn't think would overshadow me but complement me and represent my character well - also it was gorgeous. But more on the dress in a future post.

Miss Vera has many tips and suggestions on her website and I encourage everyone to check it out :)

Eco-Friendly Invites

I have fallen in love with this company out of California, who has an Etsy shop full of letterpressed stationery on tree-free paper and envelopes made out of recycled magazines, books, and maps.  Look at these save-the-dates:
Could they be any more perfect for a destination wedding?

The company, Invited Ink, also does more traditional stationery and other paper products.  I thought these in particular were really inspired.

(photo credit Invited Ink)
You fill the little box with candy, and boom.  Favors. Place cards.  Done.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wedding Weekend #1

This weekend, I will be in my sorority (line) sister's wedding. This is the first of 3 upcoming weddings I'm involved in. I'm getting married in April and my other linesister is getting married in May. This weekend, there are lots of wedding events, rehearsals, dinners, hair appointments, etc., and the actual wedding is on Sunday. It's normal to have such events on a wedding weekend. One thing that is a little unusual is that my linesister, Lady Hanover (I need something to call her) and her fiance are going to have their wedding featured on one of the country's favorite wedding shows. The rehearsal dinner tonight is at the clubhouse of my apartment complex in Elkridge, and I am a little nervous and just wanting things to run very smoothly for her throughout the whole weekend, so that it all looks super fabulous and fun on TV. The wedding ceremony will be at South Asian SDA Church in Silver Spring. The reception is at the Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville, and in between, the bridal party will be taking pictures at Centennial Park in Howard County. Right now, the forecast is calling for scattered thunderstorms on Sunday, but let's all pray the weatherman is wrong. I have no idea when the program will air, but I promise I will let everyone know, so you can see Lady Hanover and her hubby. I'll probably be floating around in the background somewhere, doing my BM duties and making sure my sister's day goes beautifully.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Will you be my bridesmaid?

Beginning in the spring before we were engaged, when I thought about how I was going to ask my closest friends (and my only sister) to be a wedding attendant, it often made me anxious and excited at the same time. I wanted to be able to include many of my closest friends, but I knew that it would be difficult organizing everyone and I'd have no friends left to watch the ceremony! I waffled between 6, 7, and 8 bridesmaids and thought about how pictures would turn out with each number, who would do what, how'd they get along, etc. Then my mother told me that Filipino weddings have a few more wedding attendants than other kinds of weddings:

1) Primary Sponsors - basically same as the couple's wedding godparents.
2) Secondary Sponsors - for the cord (to bind us), candle (to light our ways), and veil (to clothe us)
3) Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
4) Ushers and Usherettes
5) Flower Girl(s), Ring Bearer, and Coin Bearer (the coins are a Spanish tradition, I believe)

This gave me a little more flexibility, but it was still difficult to decide. And then, HOW do I ask them? I wanted to do something a little extra to show the girls that I really appreciate my special relationship with each one of them rather than just asking them in person or over the phone. Also, since not one of them lives in the same city as I, it was a little more difficult (they're in NY, PA, my hometown, Richmond, and my sister is in London). So, I decided to write them a letter thanking them for all their love and support and friendship and begin decorating a scrapbook for each one. I've asked them
to send back their responses on the scrapbook pages that I'll save as a memento of our experiences together. Below is a shot I took in my prep stage:The notecards aren't attached to the page and the girls are free to use them or use something else when they respond.

I've asked all the girls to call me before they respond because I want to make sure they understand what goes into being a bridesmaid (I'm the first of our friends to walk down the aisle) and I want them to be there with me in any way they can, bridesmaid or not. I would never want any of them to feel like they have to be one or be surprised at some of the duties associated with it. Did anyone else do something specific or have something important in mind when "making the ask"?


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What to wear...

Yay, another contract is in! Today, I sent off our deposit and contract to our wedding photographer who has also included our engagement session in his wedding package - AMAAAAZING! Now, what to wear? I want to go for something classic, but definitely me. It's not until October 26, so it may be a little chillier but at least it won't be humid! I think I can stand to wear short sleeves if it's still in the 50s or 60s (if that's what I choose to go with). Also, I checked the the sunset on that day (6:24 pm) so we'll definitely have enough light if we start on time at 3:30 pm.

Now, do I wear:
Cute skinny jeans that could possibly date my outfit in a couple years? But are flattering and make me look taller?
Less trendy and more conservative jeans that flare just a tad at the bottom but complement my derriere (for those backside hand-holding shots)?
Heels? Low heels? Cute flats? (I'm only 5'2" and Signor Keswick is 6'1".)
Short sleeves? Long sleeves? A classic white button-up?
I've already asked my roommate to schedule a manicure date for before for any of those ring close-ups.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions of what to consider for an engagement session? Did you and your fiancé coordinate your outfits? I've tried to conduct research, but one can only take so many slow-motion picture slideshows set to Norah Jones or Jack Johnson.

The Winner Is...

Recently, I had some worries about our reception site. Initially, we had chosen a hotel near Union Station, but when the proposal came out about $15k above our budget (I should note, we haven't made a budget, the proposal was $16 close to $17,000 which we both knew was WAY over budget.) we decided we needed to look elsewhere.

When Mr. GP finally emailed our fabulous wedding planner to tell her the sorry news, she was willing to make it work. But then I came forth and told him my thoughts - "the ballroom? Is ugly. I don't like it. I wouldn't have been happy there." Granted the upstairs for the cocktail hour would have been great! Unfortunately, at their prices, we couldn't afford a cocktail hour.

So we kept looking. We looked at a restaurant - Clyde's Gallery Place and we fell in love. I'm still a bit worried, but mostly because well, when I envisioned my wedding I envisioned a room with lots of lights, candles, a big dance floor, and this room? Hardwood paneling, it's own back bar and room for a...small dance floor. At best. If we keep the guest list down to 110 MAX!

But we put down our deposit. I convinced myself it's nice. We know the food is going to be INCREDIBLE and the man who will be helping us with the planning is beyond competent and incredibly helpful.

So a few weekends ago, as I aforementioned, we came across a restaurant on the Waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. I fell in love. We didn't go inside but I saw large windows, I envisioned hard wood floors perfect for dancing. I had heard nothing but great things about it from a friend who had dined there a few years ago.

Then Mr. GP's brother (Best Man) did some research and found some reviews after we put in a request for a proposal. The reviews were less than stellar. The good ones? Few and far between. The bad ones? Were stuff you don't want to read when you're considering it for a wedding reception. Bad service, mediocre and over priced food...not good.

So we discussed, and given the fact that the planner at Clyde's was amazing and got back to us within 48 hours of us inquiring and now 10 days later I STILL haven't heard anything back from Jane Doe Planner at Restaurant USA, we decided to not even bother with it.

But then he asked me what I wanted - I told him. I want dancing, a dance floor - not carpet (Clyde's doesn't have a dance floor - you have to rent one. Though our planner told us some people have foregone the dance floor and done without), Christmas lights, candles, pretty flowers - I want simple elegance.

He promised me we would make that room into whatever we want. We'll make it pretty, and just how I've always wanted my wedding to be. I smiled at him over my wedding binder, looked down at the pictures of the room, and knew he was right.

So Clyde's it is, this weekend we're taking our families there for lunch. (we couldn't get a tasting though we did try!) After that? The Mothers are going dress shopping with me...don't get me started about how that in itself is stressing me out.

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"Does That Come in My Size?"

Like every girl growing up, I tied white sheets around me at the wee age of six and paraded around our townhouse in Northwest pretending I was wearing the most lavish and beautiful gown in existence. Beading, train, the works!

Even when I was small, I was convinced my dress would be nothing short of fabulous. We all do this. We dream of THE dress, as if it's some ethereal other-worldly creature that doesn't exist on our plane of reality.

Let us flash foward to today. As with every bride, we never quite lose that little girl within, twirling around in sheets. We are different people, though, and to be honest, I was concerned.

I'm a girl that boasts a large personality, but underneath just wants to be happy with what she sees in the mirror, or something equally After School Special.

When it came to finding a dress, I knew it was going to be a challenge, and I almost dreaded the task. I'm just shy of six feet tall, and I am completely in shape, if you consider somewhat round a shape. In addition, I feared that the size of my chest would make strapless dresses impossible.

I made calls, and initially came face to face with my worst fears. Larger sizes would have to be special-ordered, but none were available in my size (or near it) to try in the boutiques. I heard this over and over again, and began to feel very discouraged. I literally had nightmares of going into stores feeling completely awful about finding a dress.

Finally, I caved.

I called David's Bridal - White Flint in Maryland. (Metro accessible: White Flint Stop on Red Line; located in Metro Pike Center, 2nd floor.)

I was hesitant to call. I've heard mixed reviews. Some had horrid experiences, warning people away. Some hated the fact that it was a chain. The positive stories were few and far between, but I cracked because I knew they would carry a good selection in my size to try on.

I took one of my best friends (Miss Gallery Place) with me on my first trip there, as we're both getting married, along with Mr. JeffMemorial. Miss Gallery Place was a peach and helped me with my insecurities and gave great dress advice.

How would I rate my experience? Incredible. Not only that, but I found the dress:

This picture was taken this past weekend, as opposed to my first trip a few weeks ago.

My review of David's Bridal at White Flint is nothing short of a rave. My bridal consultant was sweet, attentive, and really helped me feel comfortable even though I am a plus size. In addition, when I went back, she remembered me, inquired after my family, as well as remembering all of my sizing information.

Not once did I feel pressured or have an unpleasant experience with any of the staff. Also, the prices were very reasonable. My dress actually has gone down in price.

In addition, I'm all smiles about the dress. It's something I never imagined I would have. As soon as I put it on, I knew. I honestly thought I would end up with something a little more on the plain side and most definitely not strapless.

Moral of the story? Just because something is a chain store doesn't mean it's a bad thing. In addition, just because your butt might be bigger than your budget doesn't mean you should have to settle.

I will be buying the dress in November.

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Cakes by Graham

We love our cake baker. He is awesome. Cakes by Graham is the sole cake baker recommended by our venue, Virginia Crossings Resort, and for good reason. Graham's the best. He was a baker with the British Royal Navy for 15 years. Then he crossed the pond, and began working for some top bakeries in Central Virginia when he decided to go into business for himself. We met with Graham for the first time a few weeks ago. I definitely appreciate their scheduling flexibility. We met with them on a Saturday morning, Graham's busiest day of the week, but they new we were coming from Maryland and called to let us know once he had a Saturday opening. On arriving at his business, the first thing we saw was the model cakes in the window. He does cakes for all occasions. When we went inside, we found ourselves in the cutest little sitting room with comfy couches and table holding numerous albums of cakes that Graham had made. In front of us, was a very updated reception desk, with the necessary office equipment and there were cabinets on the two walls behind the desk. Throughout the whole room were little baker collectibles and figurines. Many were in display cases. Some were on tops of the cabinets, a couple were whimsically hung from the ceiling, and all the little bakers looked like Graham! I suppose that many of them were gifts from clients. There were also frames news articles and plaques on the walls, as well as a digital photo frames showing images of some of Graham tasty works of art. We sat on the sofa, and in front of us was a framed welcome sign that read "Welcome Miss Glen Allen and Mr Glen Allen. Please make yourselves comfortable. Graham has another client at the moment, but he will be with you in just a few minutes." How thoughtful! Next to the sign was another little baker figurine holding a tray for samples. In a few minutes, Graham came out a greeted us and brought us into his office, where he sat at this lovely little antique desk. To the right and left behind the desk were armoires holding more display cakes. We discussed out thoughts for our weddings for our wedding cake, pretty briefly, because Fi and I had no idea what we wanted. We were pretty much leaving it to Graham to use his creative license and make a masterpiece. He told us all about the elements of cake construction relating to the shape, size, flavoring, and decoration. We definitely learned alot. We designed what we're sure will be a beautiful cake, and the samples were delicious!!! One thing I had been concerned about was potentially dry cake. Before this meeting, I had never tasted Graham's cake before. Needless to say, I am no longer worried. His cake was so good, and very moist. We left so excited about our wedding cake and about Graham. Our cake will be 3 square tiers, turned, with buttercream frosting, decorated in ivy and pearl designs with our monogram on the top tier. Our cake topper will be fresh flowers, and we will have flowers decorating the rest of the cake as well. Of course, our cake is not baked, yet, but here are a few pictures of some of Grahams creations.
We can't forget about the grooms, now can we? I'm considering changing this to an Xbox 360 for my groom's cake. I detest video games, but for my darling . . . anything.
For Henrico County's finest . . .

A few days later, Graham's assistant placed a follow-up call to us to thank us for our visit and to see if we had any questions. They definitely gave us excellent service and answered all our questions in the first meeting, but it was thoughtful of them to call afterwards. The service provided by Cakes by Graham has been excellent.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Save-The-Dates Arrived!

I was so excited to come home from work yesterday to find my save-the-dates waiting for me.  Hooray!  I got them made by Cheerupcherup, on Etsy, because I loved her design so much--and they look even better in print than they do online.

And here it is!

I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  Now all we have to do is get the website finished, and we'll be officially on our way with this wedding!

Wedding Budget Theory

Sounds like advanced math course at MIT to me!

Before I got engaged, I was already a little (totally) tuned in to wedding-planning-land. I "let" myself look at wedding websites, and I let myself cruise the wedding mags at B&N (but I never bought!! I swear). In all my browsing and pre-engagement planning I started to pick up on was the different ways in which couples designed their budgets. After getting engaged and conducting further research, I've come to conclusion that there are two main theories of wedding budgeting.

1) The Guest List theory.

This theory, the so-called guest list theory, is known as such because it involves basing your budget on your guest list...oh wait, was that totally obvious because of the name? The idea is that if you know you MUST have certain people at your wedding, you figure out what those numbers add up to and decide what you can do based on that number. In other words, if there is not way you're getting away without inviting the 17 cousins on your mom's side AND all their kids, you might use this.

We tried this at first. I think I only made it two weeks after our engagement before I had Mr. Fairfax sitting in front of an Excel spreadsheet, with me saying, "ok if you could invite everyone you ever wanted at your wedding, who would it be?" We knew we had a pretty limited budget, so we thought if we figured out who we absolutely had to have, the guest count + the budget could dictate the wedding we'd have. I think this is how weddings like the picnic in the park or dessert buffet weddings happen (Mmm, dessert. BUFFET!). If you only have to have 15 people and you've got ten grand, awesome--ten course tasting menus and a live bands all around! If you must have a 150 and have ten grand, you might figure out the best way to throw a party that size with what you've got.

This theory worked for us for about 10 minutes. That's how long it to me to remember I don't actually like huge parties, I'm more the intimate cocktail party type. In the time it took Mr. Fairfax to fetch me a paper bag to breath into (yes the thought of a huge wedding was that scary!), we had moved onto budget theory two.

2) The "Pick the Elements Most Important to You and Spend Your Money on That" Theory.
Pretty sure the names says it all there. We talked about what we really enjoyed at other weddings, what our already married friends and family members had said, "yes, we are glad we did that" about their own weddings, and what we like in general. We came up with three items:
  • Food: We are definitely foodies. Having delicious food that we like is important to us.
  • Booze: We are definitely boozie...I mean, appreciative of fine wine and delicious drinks! We want to be able to serve a nice wine, preferably one of our fave varietals, and a nice beer at our reception. We're thinking we might even go here and make our own!
  • Photography: We were so impressed with the photographs from the Big Sister's wedding we knew we wanted a great photographer. What sealed the deal further on this was having a married friend express her regret at letting "Uncle Bob," family photographer extraordinaire, photograph her wedding. She ended up without any pictures of the grooms family...whoops.
Since we knew we would have limited amount to spend on our wedding, we knew focusing our budget in this manner would require having a smaller party. But that's what we were most comfortable with anyway so this worked for us.

It's been helpful in making other decisions along the way because we felt we had some areas, like food, were we felt we could splurge a bit. It's helped us keep our spending in check and just say no with other elements of the wedding because we've already identified our priorities.

Did you have a budget theory? How did you design your budget?


The New Girl: Miss JeffMemorial

Hello, all! Miss JeffMemorial here. I'm the newest addition to DC Nearlyweds, and I'm very excited.

While I am a DC Native (yes, we do exist), Mr. JeffMemorial is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Oddly enough, Mr. JeffMemorial and I have known each other since we were about 18 years old. We never dated. We weren't terribly close, but we got along and were friends. Last year he reappeared in my life; I had moved home to DC after spending six years in Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, and North Carolina. We reconnected and got swept away last December. We just fell right into the relationship, like we had been together forever. But I knew instantly, even before the relationship began. I called our friend up and told her in confidence that I was freaking out, because he was the man I was going to marry. I just knew it.

And I was right.

He proposed in April, and I said yes. While it surprised everyone, all we received were well wishes and support. Anyone who knew us said that us getting married was a wonderful thing.

Mr. JeffMemorial and I now live in Capitol Hill, at Potomac Avenue, with our Scottish Terrier, Horatio.

Now we are doing the unthinkable. We are having a wedding IN Washington DC without putting anything on a credit card and with a budget of $5000.

Some may think I'm joking.

I'm not.

Some may say this seems impossible!

Much to my surprise, it isn't.

While we'd love to adhere to tradition with my family chipping in, it's not possible. The money for a big wedding isn't there on either side; so we're being very 21st century and paying for it all ourselves.

Now I'll admit that the budget restrictions have not always been a source of smiles and rainbows. The wedding has been through a number of incarnations as ideas went from feasible to unreasonable. Throw in a money-eating family emergency for good measure, and you have a recipe for a bride wanting to run off to Vegas and never look back.

Thanks to one superstar bridesmaid and the support of another (who happens to be Miss Gallery Place!) we're not eloping. We're pulling off the impossible, and we have just a bit over a year to do it, with our wedding being on October 10, 2009.

Our vision was to have a wedding that showcased why we loved Washington DC so much. So many write DC off as a fake city, but it's our home, and it's my favorite place.

We've been through art gallery receptions, church hall receptions, you name it... we've tried to plan it. And that's when the idea came up, thanks to my Super Bridesmaid.

Why not have the wedding on the West Lawn of the Jefferson Memorial?

We're looking at a tiny itty bitty cost for permits, as opposed to the astounding non-member fee structures at our church. Not only that, but the scenery is beautiful for our guests, a number of whom are from out of town! Also, Washington DC in the fall is so romantic to me.

Now it isn't officially our location yet, as we cannot purchase permits for use of the memorial more than a year out from our date. Needless to say, on the morning of October 10th I will be calling the Parks & Rec department, check card in hand!

Coming up...!

Can a plus-sized bride find a reasonably priced dress of her dreams?


How can one throw a fabulous reception in Washington DC on a small budget?

In all seriousness though, I'm happy to be here and sharing planning with all of you!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Invitation Timeline

For our April 10 wedding, we've got lots of international guests. FI is American from Queens, NY, and his family would be coming from NY, NC, TX, and TN. My family is Jamaican, and family members would be travelling from Jamaica, Canada, England, NY, NJ, and FL. We expect to send out our save-the-dates in November and the invitations in December. My dear mother is stressing me about sending out invitations much earlier, so people can make their international travel arrangements, but I think sending invitations in December still allows plenty of time for people to make their travel arrangements. Plus, they'll have received their save-the-dates a full month before that, allowing 5 months for travel planning. My question is: Should invitations be sent out earlier to accommodate international guests? If so, how early should they be sent?


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Contract Negotiation

So, we received our first contract from Keswick about a week ago. I read it over several times and it is really general - making me a bit nervous about protecting ourselves in case 1) an unthinkable something should happen and 2) overall because I think so many brides are so excited / naive about the contract negotiation process that they just sign off on whatever thinking that they can't really do anything to negotiate with the venue. I'm a bit of a contract negotiation rookie and it makes me anxious that I'm signing off on such a big ticket without much experience. PLUS, they originally told us during the site visit that we wouldn't have to meet a room or F&B minimum because our wedding is on a Sunday. But now they're "requesting" us to have at least 5 rooms total (instead of 5 rooms for 2 nights each, per usual) because their policies "recently changed."

LUCKILY, my awesome friend / former boss was willing to look over it and help me put in some language that made it more specific (what costs what, etc.) and point out some simple inconsistencies in the contract. Still, it's kinda scary.

Did anyone else try to negotiate their reception venue contract and what did you ask for or find they were willing to bend?

Registry Fun

A few weeks ago, Fiance and I have started our registries. So far, since I haven't planned much - aside from one or two days dress shopping (unsuccessfully), a couple wedding shows, an unfinished wedding website (two months later), and a few unsuccessful attempts at researching photographers (usually leading to much frustration and anger at the outrageous prices!), I feel like I haven't done much.

But one Sunday, about a month ago or so, fiance and I decided to trek down to Macy's in Metro Center to get this party started.

The ah-hem, party, lasted about an hour before we headed back to the Hill for 5pm Mass, thus our registry was left unfinished, and hardly worthy of being shown to anyone. Anyone except our parents of course, both of whom responded "YOU REGISTERED FOR A HEINEKEN BEER TAP BUT NOT POTS AND PANS OR DISHES?!?!"

Well, really we just wanted to have fun with the scanner and get things started, why not right? We did register for other things...you know, some utensils...a Kitchen Aid mixer....with attachments...you know, the fun stuff. Fiance insisted to them that we weren't done yet, and that we still had research to do which, is no lie. We've just kind of been lacking on having the time to do so.

So a couple weekends ago, we went to a lovely Bridal Show up in Woodley Park (which I got him to go to promising tastings as there were some at the last one I went to in Alexandria, there were none at this one. Whoops?) and saw the Macy's table. Macy's, oh how I love thee, especially with the Martha Stewart line. You've never done wrong by me Macy's.

So a lovely woman was talking to us about our registry, the china we plan on registering for, and told us about a fabulous event which today, happened to end up in my Inbox thanks to The Knot yesterday.

Sip and Scan - "an event featuring fun beverages, hors d'oeurves, music, and fabulous registry experts to help you create your dream registry. Bring your fiancé and he can play 007 with the scan gun while you sip your drink and approve his choices." NICE!!!!

Now, not only can we finish our registry (well, one of them) but also, have a fun little date night out at the same time and please both of our mothers by completing the registry at the same time!

Any other DC brides planning on going to Sip and Scan on October 2nd?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Sample Sale Madness

Last night I went to the Mark Ingram Bridal Sample Sale.  It wasn't the scrum I thought it would be--I've been to sample sales before and thought it would be an all-out fight to the death.  This was relatively civilized, although we did all have to try dresses on in a common room.  I'll tell you, when focused on a task like picking a wedding dress, we have no shame.  Everybody was all hanging out in their underwear and even less.

I wear a size 8-10 on the street, which in bridal gown size means I'm a 12-14.  (Can someone please explain why bridal gowns are sized to make you feel fatter?  Anyone?) If you decide to go to a bridal sample sale, be aware that most of the gowns are size 8 or 10, which means you should be a size 4 or 6 to be able to fit into them.  I did manage to squeeze into a few, but altering them would have been impossible.  There were some gorgeous gowns, though.  I did like an Anne Barge similar to this one:

There was another gown I liked from an Italian designer whose name I can't remember, but the lace at the bottom of the hem would have made it impossible to shorten.

I think the problem with shopping for wedding gowns at a sample sale is that it's difficult to imagine them in context.  You're in a big room with 10 other half naked women, all competing for the same dresses, your underwear is sticking out the back, random people with headsets are coming through shouting, "Can I take that?  Do you have any dresses for me to take?"...it's hard to imagine being serene and bridal!  I know lots of women do it but they must be made of sturdier stuff than me.  I really had difficulty imagining myself in any of the dresses on my wedding day.  And normally I'm a sample sale stalwart!  Plus, wedding dresses are big and heavy.  It was tough carrying them around.  

The other thing that I wasn't aware of is that sample sale wedding dresses are not in good shape.  A lot of them have rips, busted zippers, and ragged hems.  You would definitely need a good tailor to have your dress ready to wear on your wedding day.

Did you buy your dress at a sample sale?  Have you ever been to the Running of the Brides?  Do you have any tips or tricks to make it easier?  

Thursday, September 18, 2008

People that want to be married . . .

Last night I was working at the Nationals Stadium - which is very nice, by the way! - and my coworker asked me what made me decide to get married. Note: I have only been working at my new job for about 2 months and this colleague and I do not work on the same project, so we're not well acquainted. I stumbled and stammered a little because when one is posed with a serious quite like that, there is so much to say that it's somewhat hard (at least for me) to articulate a succinct and appropriate answer without gushing or without saying too little - especially for someone I'm still getting to know. We were interrupted a few times, giving me some time to think of what I wanted to say.

I finally was able to tell her that Sig. Keswick and I have known each other for a long time (over 8 years) but have only been dating for 2.5 years. But I knew even before we officially began dating that he was the one. In fact, I knew he was special the day I met him! (More on that in a future post.) However, quite early in our courtship, probably even more than 1.5 years ago, I had already stopped "looking." I was happy whenever I was with him. He understood me better than anyone I knew. When we fought over an issue, we were able to resolve it because we valued each other's opinion and were willing to work through it.

She thought this was interesting as she is in her late late 20s/early 30s, has been engaged once before, but she's not dating anyone currently. She recently finished a book (I won't say which because I don't want to give it away, but let me know if you want to know more about which book it is), in which a mother tells her daughter "People that want to be married are married." This made her wonder what exactly did it mean and how did that apply to her? She's been in serious relationships, but ever since she began working at a nonprofit, she hasn't been in one since.

We discussed it and came up with some possibilities:
  1. People aren't married because they don't want to be - they make excuses not to, they prioritize their work, life, friends, [fill in the blank] over being in a relationship because they don't want to be in one.
  2. People are married because they put up with more (or they settle) -- I don't think it's necessarily that they settle, but it's possible they're willing to work through some issues more than others.
  3. People who are married are mature enough to know what they want and make an active effort to find and keep it.
  4. On the flip side, people who are not married are mature enough to know what they want and do not want to sacrifice what they want in order to be in a relationship.
  5. Some people are just lucky enough to find the right person at the right time -- and then know it and work hard to keep it.
Thus, why did you decide to get married OR what do you think about the idea that are married want to be. We had more theories, but I'll spare you the iterations of the above.

Bella Rosa

Bella Rosa is a gorgeous little bridal boutique, located on the West End of Richmond. They have a wide selection of designers, styles, and prices to suit every bride. The atmosphere is warm and the service is top notch. I have never been to Kleinfeld's in NY, but in terms of the look of the place, I always refer to Bella Rosa as looking like a mini-Kleinfelds. When you get there, and start trying on gowns, they definitely make it all about you. You will definitely get service that is second to none. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, yet still professional. Bella Rosa creates a dress shopping experience that is all about you. This is an actual photo of the bridal area of their boutique. Doesn't it look like every bride's dream?

They definitely have excellent quality gowns because they carry only designer originals. Some places will try and sell you designer replicas. They increase their profit by getting a cheaper, lower quality dress, but mark it up to the same price a reputable boutique would charge for a designer original. You can usually identify a boutique as selling designer replicas, because if you touch a few dresses, regardless of the name of the "designer" on the label, the dresses will all feel the same, like they're made out of a sateen-ish sort of tablecloth or drapery fabric. To digress just a bit, there is a competitor boutique in Richmond on Springfield Road between Nuckols Road and West Broad Street. I actually made a stop here before going to Bella Rosa. They had lesser quality dresses. The lady working there didn't say hello or anything when I and a friend arrived and were looking around. We were the only other people in the store. When she did finally end up speaking with us, she tried to sell me on using her husband as a DJ! So not cool. . .

Anyway, I've visited a couple different boutiques, but Bella Rosa is the one and only place where I've tried gowns on, and I ended up purchasing one of the gowns I fitted in that first visit. Don't think that you have to forgo good service or having a designer gown, just because you've got a budget. When you go to Bella Rosa, they'll ask what style of dress you'd like and what type of wedding you're having (beach, church, etc.). Then, they'll ask how much you want to spend. Designers make dresses in every price range. I told them my target price, and when I started fitting, they not only brought dresses near the top of my budget, but also at some lower price points. The dresses that made it as my top two were both by
2Be bridal, a great designer if you're athletically proportioned like me. The samples I tried on fit me perfectly, and when I checked the price (after I was already in love with them), it turned they were well below my target price. I don't know if this is a sales strategy that Bella Rosa uses, but it worked. I'm happy. They're paid. Bella Rosa also carries mothers, flower girls, and bridesmaids gowns, special occasion dresses, and a full assortment of accessories.

They also have wedding gown samples available for sale. The sample of my gown was on their website and has since been sold for less than 1/2 of what I paid for it.
At Bella Rosa, they can keep your gown in their climate controlled store for as long as you wish. They do alterations on site, and they will steam your dress twice for you at no charge, once usually for bridal portraits and once for your wedding. They also have trunk shows quite regularly. My salesperson, Susan, is no longer there, but everyone else at Bella Rosa is just as wonderful.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Miss Capitol Hill Wedding Recap - Some Details

I promise I'm going to finish recapping my wedding even if it kills me. My only excuse is that life really does go on after you get married and you slowly emerge from the wedding fog.  So to make up for my absence I'll post some shots of the one thing most of you care about...Details!

As always, all photos below the work of Linda Wallace 

^This is what our large main table on the verandah of the Clifton Inn looked like before the flowers. I like this pic cause you can see the beautiful chairs that come included with the rental price of the Inn. 

^ Escort Card Table

^As I mentioned earlier, all the paper was done by Etsy seller andbear 

^Each guest had a name card and menu (both courtesy of andbear) as well as a little favor waiting for them at their seat. 

^These are our adorable and affordable favor boxes that I blogged about so long ago. Inside each we had a chocolate wrapped in foil that matched our kelly green theme.  The great part is the leftover boxes can be used to decorate our first Christmas tree together. 

^Menus by andbear 

^I LOOOVED our reception flowers from Blue Ridge Floral. Crisp, clean, elegant...exactly what I wanted. 

^These calla's were repurposed from our ceremony 

^This was the flower girl's pomander that she quickly discarded

^A nice shot of our guests enjoying themselves at dinner

^A quiet moment while the rest of us were on the dance floor outside 

Vendors So Far:
Video- Monachetti
Photography - Linda Wallace
Hair/Makeup- Daphne Latham
Dress Designer - Vwidon
Shoes - Vera Wang new from Ebay
Bracelet- Carolee
Purse - Belk
Hair Flower - Ella's Alley
Ties - Wild Ties
Socks - The Gap
Bridesmaid Dresses - Maggy London from Nordstrom
Flower Girl Dress- Rare Editions from Dillards
Sportscar - Sports Car Rental
Reception/Accommodations - The Clifton Inn
Getaway Streamerthrows - Aerotechnic
Paper - Andbear

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Newest on the Block

I'm the newest DC Nearlywed here amongst the bunch - Miss Gallery Place. Mr. GP and I live near Eastern Market, we both hail from New England and the only thing stopping me from gettin' hitched on the shores of Lake Champlain (my home turf) is the fact that we were pretty adamant about getting married in "our" church - St. Peters on Capitol Hill.

We had settled on Clyde's in Gallery Place for the reception but as of late, I have become...almost ambivalent about having the reception there. Now the Piedmont room is beautiful. Really it is. It's great if you're of the cigar smoking, whiskey drinking, horse betting crowd from the South. I kid. I kid. You see, recently I changed our colors because I had a "TA DA" moment (as I like to call them) while watching my gal pal try on dresses - I saw two dresses next to each other at David's Bridal that were dark navy blue and clover green. They screamed that they were "my" colors. It was the perfect "ta da" moment, and since I couldn't quite decide on the shades of pink and green that would be perfect for an early September wedding, it was brilliant. I had another one of those this weekend.

Mr. GP and I were celebrating our two year anniversary a couple weeks early in Old Town, I had won a free hotel stay at the Embassy Suites so we decided to cash it in as we were officially one year out from the big day. As we rounded the corner from the Torpedo Factory after lunch, I noticed the Chart House. It was...another TA DA moment. Unfortunately, this kind of throws everything off, we have a deposit down, and while I haven't spoken to them yet, I'm hopeful about the Chart House if only because it absolutely reminds me of home, and not just MY home, but also the Connecticut shore which Mr. GP considers a part of his home (he's a bit further north from the shore though). We'll see though, since we're on such a tight budget, it's going to depend on where we get the better price - honestly? I'd be happy with either.

I digress though, we're getting married in September of 2009 - either in Gallery Place or Old Town. About us? Aside from the above that is, I'm 25, I work for a nonproft in Arlington, I'm training for my second marathon that I'll be running in Hartford in October, and then marathon number 3 which will be Burlington in May 09. Mr. GP is a political consultant, 26, and is...kind of a political junkie. We both enjoy watching too much MSNBC, and spoiling our 1 1/2 year old beagle mix.

How'd we meet you ask? We met shortly after I moved down to the area in 2006. It's a long contrived story so I'll spare you all the gory, dramatic details. Essentially we were introduced by someone I'll just call a mutual friend. A mutual friend I met at a party, had been hanging out with since I had no friends, that had just happened to once upon a time date Mr. GP. He pursued me, I fell for him and the rest is history. Needless to say, mutual friend is no long really...a friend. Whoops? It all kind of worked out and to use a line that a kid once used on me in college when he found out I wasn't romantically interested in him "I have too many friends" (Is that really possible though...I suppose when you're working on the Guest Lists it is...).

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to planning my weddin' and even more so now that I can share it with you all!

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The Invitations Are Coming ... The Invitations Are Coming...

Hello again brides and brides to be, I feel like I should re-introduce myself because I've been away for so long (sister’s wedding). Miss Mich here to gush about my invitations; they are so me and so pretty, and so me, so unique, and I hate to say it but so perfect! Let me rewind and attempt to harness my excitement; shortly after becoming engaged (December) I went to the Bridal expo in Dulles with little direction so early in the wedding planning game. I casually browsed the aisles collecting brochures and looking for wedding inspiration. Well, while I got tons of ideas for table settings and floral arrangements I really was not blown away by any of the invitation vender's, that is until I decided to make one final lap of the convention center to grab extra cake samples (I love cake). As I snagged a second sampling of chocolate amaretto cake I saw what looked like little books spread out on a table. When I approached I realized what I was looking at was no book; I picked up one of the rectangular objects with a puzzled look on my face and a pregnant woman reading my confusion called out it’s a Soji scroll or invitation… huh? As I opened the interesting object it all made sense and I immediately knew this was my invitation. The pregnant woman who I now know as Natasha is the owner of Imagination Creations where she works hand in hand with artist in India who hand make these unique little works of art which can easily set the tone for any event. Natasha explained it is common in India for couples to go all out on their wedding invitations and make a grand statement when announcing their big day. Well what a statement these invites make; I have nothing against the letterpress but it’s sort of predictable or expected in the world of weddings. When I looked around the bridal expo and even online my options were limited to a good, better, and best card stock, paper & ink colors, and if I really wanted to get creative I could throw in some vellum paper or ribbon… ooh! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that someone somewhere had actually re-thought the entire invitation concept, Thank you India! I designed my invitation using a rich chocolate fabric, yes fabric for the exterior and a creamy custom printed stock for the inside announcement. Imagination Creations has everything a bride could dream of when coordinating a wedding from various paper stocks, fabrics, scrolls styles, crystals, big invites, engraved monogram plates, coordinating gift bags, small invites… and best of all, this hand made invitation goodness is not just for the rich the prices are comparable to regular printing & letterpress! The list goes on and on when it comes to this great find and while the website illustrates a fraction of what Imagination Creations can do Natasha has tons of samples and models to inspire any bride at her office. Okay, okay, without further adieu I’ll stop babbling and let you see what all the fuss is about! Enjoy

This print is my style and I know it will not be for everyone but, there are so may alternatives to card stock at Imagination Creations no matter what color, print, or fabric you choose it will be a fabulous, and unexpected, treat for invited guest to receive.

I added an engraved metal plate with our monogram; it gives the invitation an old world feel. Since we decided to marry at Newton White Mansion I wanted our invitations to reflect the decadence and elegance of the venue.

The invite opens like a scroll and reads like a grand announcement.

I'm really not a fan of mailing little cards back and forth so instead of inserts we designed the scroll so when you turn it over it reveals our weekend itinerary, local airports, hotel recommendations, and web address! Imagination Creations...Thinking outside the stock!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We Have a Winner!!!

Congratulations to our Nearlywed Amy Chung and her fiance FH! They just won our Wedding Paper Divas contest and will receive a $100 gift certificate there.

Just so you can get to know Amy and FH a bit more, here's an excerpt from her blog about her beau. It just makes you want to melt...

Whoa, maybe he's no romeo
But he's my lovin one-man show
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Let's hear it for the boy

*FH and I dated off and on for a couple years. A pivotal moment in our relationship occurred the first night he ever complimented me. He said "you look nice." and I was floored. You see, he's not the courting type. He's not a guy to say words he doesn't mean or the type to flatter just to flatter. The first night he really tried to "court" me was after the big night when he complimented me for the first time. I came over b/c he wanted to make me dinner. When i arrived, the room was lit up with candles. Romantic, right? It was very romantic, every unmatching little votive/candle that he put in paper bowls (to prevent the dripping) all over the room... it was so obvious that "courting" a girl was not something that came naturally to him. And for that, it was that much more romantic for me.*

Remember the contest was very simple. You just had to comment on your favorite Wedding Paper Divas design. Here's what Amy had to say:

"I love the cherry blossoms... Since I'm getting married in CA (hometown), but live in DC. i think its a great way to let the invitations reflect where we currently live. I think the Sakura Branch cards and the cherry shower lines are just beautiful!"

So let's hear it for the boy and the girl who'll be planning their nuptials with an extra $100 bucks in their pockets and possibly the Sakura Branch cards from Wedding Paper Divas. Congrats again!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

(Almost) Home Sweet Home

This past weekend, as mentioned below, I visited a dear friend from my childhood. Seriously, it was just what I needed. Driving down I-95 bumping to to Rihanna and Danity Kane (yes, yes I know), I couldn't wait to see her, even though I saw her about 2 months ago when we first became engaged. It was like I'd gone back in time: Friday night we got ready to Nelly and Justin Timberlake before meeting up with some of her friends. We avoided the normal riff-raff at the bar, left around 12:30 am, and then stayed up until 2 am catching up. It was like our sophomore year in high school when I slept over at her house after our Sadie Hawkins dance and we couldn't figure out why boys were so stupid (sometimes we're still doing this).

Saturday morning, she made blueberry muffins, another tradition, and we went shopping! We were easily able to balance normal-speak and wedding-speak. However, my shopping experience (and hers) seemed to be enhanced by my newly minted fiancee status. So many things that we would have loved normally we loved even more because we had another "reason" to buy them. We saw cute these adorable Kate Spade shoes that would be such fun bridesmaid heels! They also come in Black, too!

When we came home, we had a wonderful surprise waiting for us from her mother. She sent coupons (because that's what retired elementary school music teachers and principals have the leisure to do now -I'm secretly excited to start coupon clipping) AND homemade No-Bake Peanut Butter Drops :) They were the perfect combination of sweetness, peanut butter, without making you feel like you had to go to the gym right afterward. I even thought of making something like them for gift bags since VA is known for its peanuts :) Her recipe follows below. Sorry I didn't get to take a picture of them! They were too good.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Drops
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup Quick Oats (one minute oatmeal, any brand)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (i used peanuts)
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Measure oatmeal and peanut butter into large mixing bowl. Combine sugar, butter, and milk in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Boil for one minute. Pout, while hot, over oatmeal and peanut butter. Add nuts and vanilla. Mix together. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper* or cookie sheet. Let stand until firm. *I dropped mine by tablespoons and put them on a no-stick cookie sheet. I thought the cookie sheet worked better than wax paper.

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It's You... Only Better!

Every girl wants to look like a million bucks on her big day! Well fret no more Nearlyweds, Michael Pierce, make-up artist to the stars, has made it easy for you to look just as glam as all your favorite A-list celebs on your wedding day.

Pierce can show you the tips, tricks and techniques to help you create your dream look for your special occasion. He'll show you how to apply your make-up in order to accentuate your best features and bring out your natural beauty.

Don't feel like you need to go it alone either, Michael will come to you and host a little party for you and your best girls to get all dolled up for your event and even for a fun night on the town. Get your wine, champagne, cheese and other fabulous party snacks and have a makeup party.
As the hostess for the event, Michael will give you every product you try as a special thank you.

Each makeup party attendee will receive mascara, lip gloss, lipstick, a lip pencil, a lip plumper and a host of beauty samples. And here's the best part, it's only $95 per person. What more can you ask for for a one-on-one consultation with a make-up artist whose faces have graced red carpets at The Academy Awards, Fashion Week, the Golden Globes and more. You also get a gift and, of course, your make-up.

If you want to get in on the party, feel free to contact Michael at michael@hourglasscosmetics.com to set up an appointment.

When He's "The One" You Just Know

Do you remember the moment you knew? The moment your beau said something goofy, or tripped on the sidewalk or gave you his last bite of food or accepted your child as his own? That moment when it hit you that this was going to be the man you were going to spend the rest of your life with? Was it love at first sight or did it take a while? Was he your archenemy and somehow you found out that you couldn't live without him -- despite his addiction to Playstation and football?

Well the folks at David's Bridal are sure that you remember and want to hear your story. They are hosting a contest that will let you tell the world that you found "The One." It doesn't matter if you've set your date or you're still fantasizing about it, they're offering BIG prizes for the best stories.

The winning prize package is worth over $5,000 and includes a $1,500 gift certificate towards the winner's honeymoon and gives a choice of the following: one wedding gown, up to four bridesmaid dresses, one bridal accessory, up to four bridal party gifts, up to five tuxedo rental packages and the winner's choice of his and her wedding bands from Ice.com.

If you have a story, click here or on the word contest above to tell it all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

27 Dresses . . . No Not Really

Something about hitting the ripe old age of 25 has everyone tying the knot, getting hitched, jumping the broom, and a zillion other euphemisms for getting married. A week before my own 25th birthday, my then-BF/now-FI popped the question. (I'll talk more about that later.) I suppose this is because at this age, most are out of college and have completed or are completing their graduate/professional studies. At this age, many have a solid foothold in their career of choice, and are ready to solidify their personal relationships.

It just seems to be wedding season, at least within my network of friends, family, and sorority sisters. I am a bridesmaid in my sorority sister's wedding in two weeks. I am also the MOH in another linesister's wedding in May, a month after my own April nuptials. My recent weekends have been filled with the fun of bridal showers, bridesmaids luncheons, dress fittings, shoe fittings, makeup consultations, vendor visits, and the list goes on. I am completely honored to have a role in my closest friends' special days and I'm so excited to share in their joy. Both of these ladies are also in my wedding, as my Matron and Maid of Honor. I've been to two other weddings this summer, and look forward to having a role in my MOHs'/LSs' nuptials.

The great part about being involved in weddings as I plan my own is that I get to experience being a bridesmaid, and having that recent knowledge lets me know how to make my BMs' experience in my wedding wonderfully pleasant. At least, I hope that's how they feel when it's all said and done. I also get to witness how 3 brides can have 3 very different styles and personalities, yet it all comes together in equally beautiful events. My Matron of Honor is currently planning a fabulous church wedding and reception at the Ten Oaks Ballroom for over 300 guests, in fall-themed hues of orange and green. Her dress is traditionally appropriate, yet with some contemporary elements, that so suit her style: classic, yet fun and with a flavor all her own. My Maid of Honor is planning a city wedding at the exclusive Engineer's Club in Baltimore for a guest list that is just topping 200, with shades of pink and silver throughout. Her dress is more modern in shape, form-fitting, and with extensive detailing throughout, which so accurately reflect this bride's sassy/jazziness and brilliance.


My own wedding will have an outdoor ceremony, at Virginia Crossings Resort with the spring shades of butter yellow, accented by pink and platinum, and my dress will be more traditional than most would assume. Most days I can be found wearing a business suit and collared shirt. Yet, my wedding gown is a very princessy design, with not-too-much-but-just-enough detailing, and a long train. I love my dress and the next time I visit it at the boutique, I'll be sure to snap a few pics to share.

From having a very close view of these very different weddings in progress, I often marvel at how they are all equally beautiful, yet so distinctly unique. I would say to any nearlywed to choose and do what makes you happy, because the most lovely and meaningful wedding you can plan will be the one that is so perfectly and distinctly you.

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The Charcoal Gray Tux

My darling FI has yet to find and commit to a tux that he wants to wear for our wedding. He knows that he'd like to have his guys wear a standard 3-button black tux. However, he understandably does not wants to blend in with the attendants. So, he has decided to wear a charcoal gray tuxedo. Most of what we've come across have been in a stroller style, with contrasting jacket and pants. He wants a traditional cut, just in charcoal.

We don't mind purchasing the tux, but we've only come across them for rent. We've been told by a vendor that the one Ralph Lauren design we've come across (pictured above) has been discontinued, as new styles are to be added for 2009. However, we have no idea if those styles include a charcoal tux. The Ralph Lauren tux is from Jim's Formalwear. MW Tux/AfterHours does not have a matching grey tux. Does anyone know where one can find a charcoal tux for purchase or rent, or how we'd be able to tux designs for 2009?


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fruity Favors

Does anybody else get a kick out of all the funky vegetables and gorgeous fruit you can find at the farmer's market?  As I was walking around today, I got a great idea for how to incorporate them into a wedding.  

Is there anything more beautiful than rows upon rows of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes?

When I first saw these I thought they were teeny weeny watermelons.

But no!  They are miniature sour cucumbers!  Don't you think they would be cute in glass jars at a green and white wedding?  You can eat them right out of hand--they taste a little like they've already been pickled.

My idea: instead of a candy bar for guests to take away with them, why not a fruit bar?  You could fill glass jars with berries, tomatoes, miniature plums, cherries, or whatever.  Summertime produce is so glorious that I think guests would be really pleased.  The only concern is that fruit might be a little bit more perishable than candy, but not much--I've always found most fruit to be surprisingly sturdy.  Besides, berries and plums are much better for you than M&Ms!

September Flowers

It's really important to me to have seasonal flowers at our wedding.  If you fly peonies or tulips in from Ecuador, it adds substantially to the cost, and isn't very good for the environment.  

One of the facets of our wedding that I really enjoy is that very few guests are familiar with Charlottesville.  I get to introduce just about everyone to one of my favorite places in the world.  I want to make sure that they get a sense of what my hometown is all about--I'd like them to feel as fond of it as I do.  A great way to evoke that feeling and sense of localness is through flowers that grow in the area and are in season.  

OK, so that said, what kind of flowers are in season in early September?  Beats me!  I decided to head over to the Greenmarket to find out.

Spring flowers seem to be delicately, softly colored.  Late summer flowers?  Not so much.  Check out these cockscombs:

I don't know why these aren't more popular flowers.  I could definitely see these as a bouquet surrounded by some cool greenery.

Take a look at these vibrant gladiolas. 

I loved this zinnia.

I could definitely see these sweet flowers in a mason jar as a lovely centerpiece.

And lilies!  I had no idea these could be grown around here, but they can.

I've been considering doing my own flowers (my mom's reaction: "Noooooooooooo!"), and the farmer's market would definitely be a good resource.  The flowers are local, often organic, and you can meet the farmer who grew them.  And you can buy these flowers at the Greenmarket for about 6-12 bucks a bunch.  Not a bad deal.