Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Return... This Time More Crafty!

I do not have the prowess that my Maid of Honor (Miss Gallery Place) has, when it comes to the Do-It-Yourself projects. Seriously, she posted her about her Save the Dates, and I was so impressed at how great they looked when we received ours in the mail.

I have not been around for awhile, because we have hit that bit of a lull where the venue has been booked, as well as our photographer, DJ, etc. I've decided to take this time, however, and start looking into the small details. Favors, decor, etc. I feel like I'm about to become a squirrel, stock-piling nuts for the winter.

Going back to my original point, I am not crafty, but I think I'm about to take a leap into the big world of DIY.

As many brides with internet connections do, I peruse Weddingbee.com. It was there I fell in love with Mrs. Cherry Pie's favors!


For those of you unaware, Mr. JeffMemorial and I no longer live up to my DC Nearlyweds moniker. Due to having to switch our date and venue, we are now having a beautiful mid to late fall wedding (this November 7th!) in Old Town. Our colors are red, brown, and ivory/white. We're looking for romantic, rustic, and fall going into winter. It's something that suits both of us. We wanted laid back and low maintenance, but we wanted a welcome nicely-decorated vibe, as well. As a side note, it's nice that Mr. JeffM is actually interested in this stuff, and enjoys giving input. A lot of the design and choices have been from his ideas!

Those tags would fit PERFECTLY! I must have them! Sadly this means... I must MAKE them! Per Mrs. Cherry Pie's instructions, they are super easy to make. I buy the tags. I buy the stamp and ink. I stamp the tags. I put rustic-y rope to attach to goodie bag. The end.

But there's that fear of... will they look good enough? It's a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least.

I can't be the only one with DIY fears, heh.

In addition, I also found these FABULOUS picture frames, which I must find a use for:


They're $21 a piece, so my idea of awesome framed table numbers goes out the window, but it might be nice to have a beautiful photo of us put in the frame... perhaps set it on our card/guestbook table? It's a thought.

While I'm not a little details person at all (I couldn't care less about a shade of red, and I don't do personalized matchbooks!), these two things really jumped out and got me excited about planning again. I haven't been too into it recently.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not Bad, Not Bad At All

(photo credit Daniel Laskowski)

The unfortunate thing about a long engagement is that after an initial flurry of wedding planning, there's a long lull where there's no need to plan much of anything.  After booking the venue (which for us included catering), the florist, the band, and the photographer, there just isn't that much else to do at the moment, except for drooling over wedding magazines and blogs.

And then there's the honeymoon.  Many people have said that honeymoon planning is the best part of wedding planning, and I have to say they've got a strong case.  Who wouldn't want to look at travel brochures depicting palm trees swaying in the wind all day?

The nice thing about marrying a Brit is that they travel everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.  British papers are constantly carrying travel supplements that say things like "See Roman ruins in Libya!" or "Why not try Bhutan for this year's holiday!"  I had been thinking that we'd go to the Caribbean or Mexico, but Mr. C-Ville suggested the Maldives, which is a country made up of a series of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean.  Since our wedding date falls smack in the middle of hurricane season, and because it would be a schlep for us to get from Mexico back to London, where we're headed after the wedding, I thought it was an excellent idea.  Check out the picture up above--can you beat that for a beach paradise?

We got a pretty good deal from a British tour operator (the one good thing about the credit crunch is there are deals available).  We'll be able to sit on the beach and do nothing for a week.

(photo credit Kelv71)
Yeah.  That'll be nice.

In two weeks the wedding lull ends, as we start our menu tasting, seating charts, and logistical plan. I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Two Wedding Etiquette Books

I think I wrote about etiquette books before, but now that I'm SO much further along with my planning and have actually really used a few, I wanted to share the two that have been my "go to" books.

The first book is Diane Warner's Contemporary Guide to Wedding Etiquette, which I inherited from The Big Sister. I was skeptical of this book from the get-go as the sub-title is "Advice From America's Most Trusted Wedding Expert," and I had never heard of this woman, and I do consider myself to be a bit of an etiquette maven. When I got into the book there were a few bits that just turned me off completely. Passages like:

"If you fiance isn't excited about going with you to set up gift registries, don't worry about it. Take along your mom or best friend for advice and establish the registries yourself. With today's contemporary choices, however, most men get a kick out of registering for something they understand, like a power drill."
Now, no doubt most dudes don't love spending an entire day debating Vera Wang china versus Kate Spade (I can hear him now, "Who is Kate Spade?"), but this antiquated attitude is perhaps a bit too pervasive in the book for my tastes. After reading a few passages along those lines, I found myself flipping to the front to see when this edition was printed, 2005 to my surprise!! I could go into greater detail here, but I won't bore you.

Anyway, Diane Warner drove me out to Barnes & Noble to search for my own etiquette book with an attitude that was a bit more modern and in line with my own. Since the Emily Post book wasn't in paper back that day, I ended up purchasing Elise Mac Adam's "Something New." Elise is the etiquette column over on IndieBride, one of my favorite message board sites for brides. I had devoured her columns in my first few months as an engaged lady, and knew I was comfortable to her approach. Elise's advice spoke to me more than Diane's because she takes the modern world into account in her advice more. I'm sure many of us are familiar with wacky familiar dynamics of divorce, mixed families, the greater flexibility of wedding styles, the list goes on. One of my favorite features of "Something New" is the letters section at the back of each chapter. Elise uses letters from real brides to illustrate the points made in each chapter. For example, in the chapter on thank you notes, there is a letter from a bride whose thank you notes were mishandled and returned to her by the post office along with Elise's advice to that bride.

Even though I wasn't crazy about Diane's book in the beginning, I have to admit, I've utilized both books equally. I've consulted Elise's book when I've needed some advice on things that are open to interpretation (how to handle invites when there are multiple parties involved in the hosting or dealing with budgets and parents, or guest list negotiations) and I've consulted Diane when I needed more factual advice (such as how to address and invitation to a widow, or who is traditionally included in the rehearsal dinner). Not to say that each book couldn't serve both purposes on their own, but this is how I've used them.

I will paraphrase a favorite saying of mine from Miss Manners here to make my final point. Etiquette isn't about adhering to a bunch of arbitrate rules for the sake of tradition and tradition alone. Etiquette is about treating others with respect and making those around you as comfortable as possible. I think by using both books, the "hard & fast rule book" and the more "modern approach" (which I think Diane Warner would consider a bit hippy dippy) I was able to find a great compromise that still keeps at heart the comfort and best interests of everyone involved.

Have you relied on a particular etiquette source during your planning? Any etiquette book recommendations (or warnings!)??

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Nicole Miller Bridal on Rue La La

FYI, everyone, there is a Nicole Miller Bridal Boutique opening on Rue La La on Monday, March 30 at 11am! If you've dreamed of bring a Nicole Miller bride and want to get a deal, you need to be there!

What's Rue La La? It's an invitation only website that offers online sample sales. "Boutiques" of particular designers and brands open for 2-3 days, allowing shoppers to score AMAZING deals.
Some current and upcoming boutiques include Badgley Mischka, Nicole Miller Dress, and Eva Franco. Past sales include Honora, Lilly Puliltzer, and Kate Spade. Rue La La also has one of their famous "Final Sale" boutiques opening tomorrow morning at 11am! Once or twice a year RLL clears out all the unsold and/or returned items. They are promising more than 30 designers to be included in this sale, so it's sure to be a good one!

Just e-mail me at fairfaxmiss@gmail.com by Sunday at 5pm and I'll send you an invitation to join the site in time for the Nicole Miller sale!

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bare Necessities

So tonight after a lovely dinner with the Future In Laws, we were going over the guidelines from the church that we recently received. The church recently redid them so they've changed a little since we got engaged last June.

The Future MIL finally noticed, as she's seen my dress, a little stipulation in the Church's guidelines...

"In keeping with the nature of the Sacrament of Marriage, all members of the wedding party must be dresses appropriately for church.
In particular, this means no strapless dresses or bare shoulders/"spaghetti straps" for the bride or any member of the wedding party, unless a jacket or sweater is worn over them."

Freaders, this is a problem.

My dress. Is strapless.

And freaders? I love my Church, I respect God and all that schtuff and for Mass? I would never wear a tube top or something like that. But freaders? THIS? Is my wedding gown. All paid for in it's beautiful strapless glory. And I'm going to be stubborn because that dress? Would not look nearly as lovely with a shawl or a sweater. No. Way.

Unfortunately, I am going to have to purchase shawls or pashmina's for my gals, thankfully it'll only be for the ceremony. But still...I just hope and pray (har har) that our priest doesn't say "oh no sorry. You'll have to wear a shawl...blah blah blah. I won't marry you blah blah blah."

Because you know, this is definitely something that could have been brought to my attention back in like...June when we signed up. Because this? I would have noticed. In the guidelines we only briefly got to skim over and didn't receive a copy of until a week ago. Oh bless you Church, for You and I, might have some issues in the coming months.

But contrary to my father's suggestion, it is FAR too late to be changing anything else major in the wedding like the location (another post for another time).

Have you had any issues with your religious ceremony? Are you having a religious ceremony that has similar guidelines? How did you comply/rebel?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I got an email from my aunt today telling me my cousin couldn't be my junior bridesmaid. Apparently with all of her dozens of sports camps blah blah blah, they can't afford to come down for it.

I'm a little, nay, a lot hurt. This is my favorite aunt, and my favorite cousin. The only cousin on my father's side that I bothered to invite simply because I have too many cousins.

I understand, I mean the economy is tough and money is tight. I just got laid off myself (on the six months till the big day day no less!) so you don't need to preach to me about not having dough, blah blah blah. I'm about to go file for unemployment today, and thinking about how we're going to pay for the wedding after all this makes my stomach hurt. I'm sure a few of you can relate.

In lieu of all this, I've made a mental note of what can be sacrificed. Flowers are getting nixed - I'll likely be doing everything myself sans the alter flowers, and the centerpieces. I'm not a big flowers person anyhow, I want to spend that money on other things like our honeymoon to either Ireland, Spain or Italy (still being debated). The Church, reception site are all pretty much set costs, I've been dragging my feet on finalizing the vendors, we've been fighting with the hotel room block for a couple weeks now. I'll probably do the invitations myself, especially with all this free time on my hands.

My mother suggested I just "plan my wedding full time." Riiiiiiight mom. 'Cause I can afford that....I understand that there are many brides who definitely feel that it could be a full time job and maybe in three months I'll feel the same but right now? M'eh.

Recently, I read in the Wall Street Journal that the average cost of a wedding is down from $28,000 to $21,000. We're looking to keep our budget at about $16,000. Shortly after getting engaged a friend of mine told she'd be surprised if we could have the wedding for under $20k. Of course hers was $50k at a high end hotel in Boston paid for by her parents...so the comparison is a little unfair. Still $16k is a decent chunk of change, but with our guest list and "must invite" people, it was hard to get much lower than that - especially in DC. There are tons of ways to cut back costs, but which ones are really worth it? At what point do you sacrifice quality for something budget friendly??

So freaders, what are you doing to cut back costs? If you or your Fiance have been recently laid off how are you accounting for that money if you're paying for the wedding yourself?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Is there anything more fun then a bachelorette party in New Orleans? Answer: NO. This past weekend, me and 7 of of my close friends, invaded New Orleans for my bachelorette party. First, I have to say how flattered and honored I was that 7 people spent a small fortune to attend! Thank you Becca, Laura, Laura, Christine, Cathy, Mairin and Lillian! You guys mean the world to me and I had the time of my life!

The weekend started with a bang! We got in on Friday. The first thing we did was explore. We went up and down Bourbon street, stopping periodically for drinks of course. (did you know you can drink on the street there?!) After a mini nap, we went to dinner at a local suggestion, The Alpine, where we got Po' Boys, Jambalaya, gator, ribs and other Cajun yumminess. We then took part in the Haunted Ghost Tour, which I have been on before. This is where they guide you all around the french quarter and share hauntings! So much fun! The picture below is us right before the ghost tour, can you tell its HUMID there? (remember my hair from previous posts!)

Once the tour was over, we headed back to the hotel, where we had separate rooms, but a shared balcony. Yes a balcony!!! SO FUN! I was surprised with a lingerie shower! I got so many goodies, I am so excited and flattered my girls would do that. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures. My sister in law, Stephanie, also sent us a bottle of champagne and 8 glasses for a toast. My Matron of Honor send a huge basket filled with crackers, cheese, wine, olives, cookies, candy, you name it! I felt to special from all this!

The rest of the day was spent eating beignets at Cafe Du Monde, taking the trolley to the garden district, eating at my favorite place, The Gumbo Shop, and shopping for knick knacks! We also spent some time in the Hustler store looking for honeymoon stuff, wink wink :)

Later that night they dressed me up and gave me a pinata. It was filled with candy, thongs, lip gloss and glow necklaces!

MOH Becca's sister Meg, designed our AWESOME shirts. New Orleans themed, they are Tarot cards! The front says "Madam Rachel's"

Check out the skeleton holding a a diamond in one hand and a timer in the other! Notice my hot bridesmaid's with bouquets of daggers. SO RAD, right!? Thanks Meghan!

And of course, it was time to go out on the town! My favorite part of th enight, which thier are no pictures of, involved us singing Kareoke at "The Cat's Meow" singing, "It's Raining Men" We tore it UP!
The ladies

2 for 1?

Love you guys!!! Thanks again for making it the best weekend ever!

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Finding the Perfect Flowers

I'm not a flower person. I would much rather a Valentines gift include jewelry or a good book - not flowers and chocolates.

I do love me some tulips - in the Spring time. But unfortunately, I'm not getting married in the Spring.

This weekend, I stopped into Florist Possibility #1. It's a little florist in the Eastern Market area of Capitol Hill. They do Nancy Pelosi's flowers ($$) and they did the State Funeral for President Ford ($$$) so I'm thinking? They MIGHT be a little out of my price range.

But as I told my mother last night? I don't know what I want. How can I meet with florists if I don't even know what I flippin' want? I do know that I don't want: roses, carnations, or a white bouquet (for me). I'm thinking Fuschia Dahlias, or Gerbera Daisies, maybe Spider Mums. I want small centerpieces - I loathe the type that are like taller than me, and you can't see across the table because they're so huge. I don't want that.

Things I do like?


This would be perfect for my bouquet - I'd add in white daisies as well for the BM bouquets. (I do NOT want an all white bouquet for me, I think it's too cliché. That's just my opinion though - no offense to anyone who has had/is having an all-white bouquet - they are still just as pretty, it's just not my thing)
I really like these green spider mums. I really like the look of one flower in a couple of colors (white, pink, green are the colors I would want my flowers in).

Finally, because I'm all flowered out - another one I like....

I really like the idea of something like this - different flowers at different tables in different colors. I'd do like green mums, white mums, pink mums, all with of course - navy ribbon around the vase, because well, yeah.

Yesterday, the woman I met with (who was not the actual wedding florist consultant lady) suggested "autumny flowers." Except, I don't consider September 12 autumny. I consider it late summer. The only reason I didn't make it in summer? August is atrocious in DC humidity wise and I think weddings on holiday weekends are tacky (again, no offense to those of you doing your wedding on a holiday weekend).

So I'm at a stand still because I don't know what I want. I feel like what I like is kind of all over the place. How do I put what I think I want - my vision if you will - into...flowers that are not a. obnoxiously expensive, b. roses, c. simply elegant?

What are you doing with flowers? Are you hiring a florist or DIY-ing? *

*(FYI - I'm considering DIYing for centerpieces and only using the florist for the corsages/bouquets/boutonierres/alter flowers...it's just a matter of figuring out what type of flowers I want...)

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thinking of My Girls

Bridesmaids. They're on my range, my to do list. I'm trying to get my girls settled away so that they can begin to save because well, Aria dresses aren't exactly the cheapest dresses in the world (not the most expensive ones either).

So I've been looking at their shoes. How to complete the bridal party look. We picked out the groomsmen ties earlier this week - as I mentioned before, we're going with Vineyard Vines ties. We still haven't really picked out what color suits but m'eh. We'll get there.

In three weeks, I trek to Boston to go with the girls to go to Aria Dress so they can pick out their dresses and thus, I can get them ordered sometime in the next century (in case you haven't noticed? I procrastinate in all things wedding planning).

But I also want to have an idea about their shoes (I'm only mildly obsessed with shoes. Really.)

All my girls, sans two - one being my twelve year old cousin/junior bridesmaid - are significantly taller than me. I'm 5'2"...on a good day - my shoes are 2 1/2" heels, so that'll put me maybe at 5'4 1/2" but realistically, 5'4". When my tallest bridesmaid is 6'0" and my shortest is 5'2" like me, putting them in 3" matching heels? Not an option.

I know, I know, it's what "I want." But since my girls are mostly traveling to be here with me, and the one that's not traveling is getting married two months after me, I don't want them to spend TOO much money on the outfit. That's why I was careful about picking dresses that had styles that they could pick, that they'd be comfortable, and dresses that looked like they could be worn again. Makes sense right?

So I thought, what about classy flip flops. Not the 2 for $5 Old Navy flip flops but classy ones.

[JCrew $78] - a little too pricey for...flip flops. Let's be real.

[Victorias Secret $38.50]

[Gap $39.50]

[Piperlime $49]

and finally....

[Nordstrom $69]

I just know, I KNOW that someone - likely FMIL, or my own darling mother will say something. Too casual, too something that they don't like. But me? I like the style. I live in flip flops from nowish to like, October. So it seems natural to have my girls in flip flops. Especially the last pair because then - navy dresses, white shoes. Me? White dresss, navy shoes. Oh my goodness, this could be perfect.

I'll get a few more opinions, I like to reaffirm my decisions with my girls cause I know sometimes I'm irrational, neurotic and everything in between but this time? This is just me.

Thoughts? Are you letting your girls pick their shoes? Heels? Flip flops? Flats? Am I being too crazy for this??

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Rehersal Dinner Dress(es)

We have yet to plan our rehearsal dinner, haven't even figured out where it will be, but I've bought the dress I'll wear that night, oh yes. I bought my wedding dress the same way. No clue where the wedding would take place, but I went right on and bought the dress anyway. Seemed to work out ok, right?

So I already have this dress, which I love love love. I got it on major sale from Bluefly.com. I do not usually shop there. Even majorly discounted designer clothes are too rich for my blood. I got sucked in by the shopping spree contest they ran back when Shopaholic was released and that was how I found the dress.

It is prefect in every way. It's navy blue, so I'll match Mr. Fairfax (Oh, yes, have already picked out the outfit he'll wear that night). The eyelet fabric is just so sweet, and it will go perfectly with my gold Jack Rogers. Did I further mention that it has pockets (ding!)?
But I keep seeing this dress on etsy and it is really adorable and catching my eye a little too much.

The designer is Amanda Archer, www.amandaarcher.com

Urgh...Bluefly gives you three months to return, so I have awhile to make up my mind!

I love etsy, but I find it a little overwhelming sifting through all the many many talented artists and their goods on the website. I signed up for the etsy "Find" e-mails and read The etsy weddings blog pretty religiously and that keeps me up to date and underwhelmed. :P

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Gorgeous Wedding Cakes

And of course, I cannot write about cakes without showing you all the research I've done! Check out these beauties:

We love the illusion effect of this cake. It's so unique!

Not sure why they chose pillows, but still very beautiful and different.

Photo Credit: WeddingChannel.com

And one of my all-time favorites. I love how beautiful that "lace" looks!
Photo Credit: Brides.com


Where oh where has our cakery gone?

Last night I was so excited about our upcoming weekend. I had appointments at 9:30 AM (tasting), a break for lunch, 1:00 PM (hair and makeup trial), 3:00 PM (wedding invitations), and 5:00 PM (the second tasting). I had emailed both the cakeries our ideas for flavors and designs for the cake and was all set. However, this morning, Teri of Cakes Unlimited LLC emailed to say that she was worried she was not the best fit for our wedding cake. This was a crushing blow as she seemed so sweet, nice, and over-the-top helpful. I had really high hopes. She suggested I contact Mahila Creations and The Small Cake Company as they might be a better match. In so many words, she said: Most of the time, I can re-create my bride's vision for their wedding cake. But, when I believe that I am not the right person to do that, I would rather share you with someone who can make your dream cake happen. Your wedding cake is too important to me for you to be unhappy or disappointed that your wedding cake was not something you really wanted.

Teri was definitely still willing to meet with us this weekend and offered to assist in my reaching out to them, but suggested I taste the other bakery's fondant first before I decide to forego fondant (my fiance and I are big buttercream fans).

So now the quest continues. *sigh* I've contacted both bakeries, but I fear the lack of advance notice for these bakers. Unfortunately, it looks like yet another trip to Charlottesville. I think it's worth it, it's just somewhat frustrating, you know? More updates soon *hopefully*.


In like a lion

I rung in March with a $5,000 deposit on our new reception location. At 8:30a on Monday.

Eep! It's real. I mean, the other reception, we could cut costs, spend less. Invite less. But this? Is more along the lines of what we wanted. Is it out of our budget? Maybe. But I've decided I'm likely making the invitations as well as the centerpieces and possibly the bouquets. So that'll save us some money. I'm still taking it in. This? Is going to be my dream wedding. No doubt about it. I couldn't be happier.

Now that that's all settled, the wedding website is up, the save the dates are out and being raved over by all of our out of town family. Oh yeah, and the hotel room block is confirmed.

As I switched over my planner to March from February, I noticed aside from those two things, I didn't do much. Nothing on my monthly "to do" list that I create for myself got done. Granted, February is shorter. But still, we're a little more than six months out, I'm starting to get behind. My mother has been on vacation the past week so it's been quiet in the nagging department (she's great at that and reminding me to do stuff) but I kind of need that extra kick in the rear to actually get things done.

One big step however, we finished our registries. FINALLY!

But only because I noticed people started buying stuff off of it - a nice deep dish pie tin and a nice 8 setting package of our fine china (SWEET! I love love LOVE our fine china).

This weekend I'm hoping to confirm a photographer (falling out with photographer number 1 to be blogged about in the future aka, why I changed my mind) and do more research into vendors. Mr. GP and I have ZERO plans for the first time in weeks, so we're hoping it'll be a quiet weekend before things get crazy again. A quiet weekend to sit down and bang out some wedding stuff.

This month? I plan to have vendors finalized. Bridesmaids dresses ordered (I'm making a trip to Boston at the end of the month to do so), pick out groomsmen suits (grey? or navy?) and ties, and pick out our invitations and make the decision if we're going to do them ourselves or if we're going to have them made for us. Decisions decisions...deciiisssiionnnss.

Despite all this? I like to think I'm keeping a cool head. The knot.com says I should, essentially be freaking out by it's little exclamation marks of tasks that should have been completed erm...months ago. I have completed 35 tasks, out of 184. I have 192 days to go (YIKES!!!) Hmmm...is it...odd that I'm still not in wedding planning stress out mode? I'm more in marathon training stress out mode as I have a marathon in 2 1/2 months...and my training is non-existent because of a pesky cold I've been fighting for about a month. *sigh*

Are you freaking out yet if your wedding is coming up soon? How do you keep your cool?

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Wedding Bee's Wedding Registry Wiki

As a follow up to my earlier post, I wanted to share the Wedding Bee Wedding Registry Wiki with you! This is user generated content, but there is lots of great tips and ideas! Be sure to check it out!

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Registering has probably been one of the most fun parts of wedding planning so far. It's all the fantasy (remember the days of just imagining your imaginary, budgetless wedding?), without the cold reality (uh, negotiating those 17 distant cousins spots on the guest with your mom). Seriously, what girl doesn't love to hardcore window shop? And if your husband to be is anything like mine, he loves gadgety kitchen toys.

Our first registry experience was with Sur La Table. We LOVE this store. This is our toy store. They have all kinds of amazing things and the value for the quality of the products is great. My favorite Christmas present ever from Mr. Fairfax is from there--it was a tomato knife. Yes, I am a woman who gets excited about a really nice tomato knife and the man who would think to give me one. This is just the kind of people we are. I think it says a lot.

Here's the run down on Sur La Table:

  • High quality kitchen goods, everything from knives to pots and pans to automatic soap dispensers.
  • We registered at the Pentagon City store. The staff there is AWESOME. Very friendly, very helpful. They treated us like gold even though they were very busy and in the middle of inventory. It made the day very special to such great customer service.
  • We broke the scanner. Whoops. We dropped it and the laser broke (SORRY!!!). So if you plan to register, make sure the scanner works, and don't drop it. Typing all those SKUs in by hand is a...
  • The website is pretty terrible. The registry website link is on the bottom of the main Sur La Table page and open in a separate window when you click on it. The website does NOT like Firefox, open it in Explorer for the best results. Even then, many of the items don't have pictures, and the item descriptions are more like stock room jargon than English. We ended up transferring any items available at other stores to another registry and deleting some items from the SLT registry. Bummer. I will be writing a letter to company about this.
All in all we loved picking out items and really like the variety and quality of items available. One word of caution: try to go to the Pentagon City store if you can. After we accidentally broke the scanner we went to the Tyson's Galleria locating to finish up (we got tired of typing in the SKUs), and they were not very friendly. They didn't seem busy, but the staff was quite curt and short with us. Pentagon City though, they're AWESOME.

Bed Bath & Beyond

We ended up doing BBB for a few reasons. Some of the items at Sur La Table were also available at BBB and we opted to transfer them there and not force out guests to decipher the SLT website. Also, we wanted to register for our pots and pans there, a vacuum cleaner, and a few other general home items not available at SLT.

  • This is easy for you and the guests. BBB has everything and most people are familiar with the store.
  • The return policy is crazy awesome.
  • The website is very simple and straightforward for you and your guests.
  • Nothing really, though it's a slightly more generic experience compared to SLT because it's such a big store.

Crate & Barrel
We attended the final Crate & Barrel "Wedding Party" of the season this past Sunday. It was FUN! I'm sorry I didn't get to blog about it earlier and recommend it, but hopefully a number of you have been or will go when they offer the next round. Basically, C&B invites couples into the store on Sunday morning from 9-11am to register while the staff can A) give you their full attention (they even had coat check!) and B) offer product demonstrations (waffles and pancakes! yum!). We had a ton of fun.

Word to the wise--be sure to RSVP. They aren't kidding about that. We showed up without RSVP-ing (because this bride was being a bad citizen) and they let us play anyway. We kind of had to be quick though in order to not deprive another couple who had RSVP'd of their scanner. We took a scanner for 30 minutes, returned it for about an hour while we browsed, ponder glassware (direct quote from Mr. Fairfax: "I didn't think picking out wine glasses would be this hard") and had some pancakes. We got a scanner again at 11am and make quick business of scanning all the other things we liked. It worked out very well, actually.

  • Who doesn't like C&B? The Big Sister said most of their guest gave gifts from C&B, people just really seemed to enjoy picking out the items. And the gift wrapping there is pretty sweet.
  • Again, the the website is super easy to use.
  • Registry completion bonus! Get a 10% discount on items still on your registry after the wedding. Other stores offer this as well.
  • I don't think you can say CON and Crate & Barrel in the same sentence...except I just did.

There were a few "fun" items we knew we wanted to select from stores that don't offer registries like sleeping bags from L.L. Bean, a diploma frame, some coffee mugs from a little pottery in the town where we got engaged, a paper shredder (this is fun, what?) and Mr. Fairfax's favorite: a grill!

There are a number of websites these days that will allow you to list items from multiple stores, so why did I go with MyRegistry? No reason, it was just the first site I went to.

  • You can download a button for your browser from MyRegistry that allows you to add items instantly. For example, if I'm browsing L.L. Bean and see a LED camping lantern I must have, I hit the "add to my registry" button, a window pops up where I log in, enter the relevant information and the item is added. Pretty cool.
  • It's neat.
  • Although I can see the guest view, I'm not 100% sure how intuitive the purchasing process is.
  • The return policy will depend on the individual store, not MyRegistry (as far as I can tell) so keep that in mind.

No, we didn't actually register at 5 stores. I originally wanted to do Macy's for china only, but we had a less than stellar experience so when we figured out the pattern we liked was also available at BBB, we opted to close our Macy's registry. We made a special trip to the Tyson's Galleria location because we thought they would have the best selection and samples of all the china. Hmm, well I know the economy is bad, but really? Macy's was a sad sight. The Registry Associate was perhaps a little overeager, and we were very disappointed to find that they did not have the china we wanted to see. Since there wasn't anything else we wanted, we ended up wandering the store for a respectable amount of time, returning the scanner and heading home. I don't think my experience is representative of all Macy's, everywhere, but I wanted to share.

  • If you want nice sheets, or love the Martha Stewart stuff they carry, definitely go to Macy's.
  • They have lots of registry rewards, as well as a completion discount and I understand there is also a very liberal return policy.
  • We were personally disappointed that some of the china patterns we wanted to see where not in available.
  • While I love good customer service, the Macy's associates had a hint of desperation about them. It was a bit awkward to say the least.
So that was our experience for better or for worse. Just to sum things up here are a few thoughts from Mr. Fairfax and I on the whole process.

  • Don't try to do it all in one weekend. If you do multiple stores in one day, really make a day of it and build in a relaxing lunch and coffee breaks.
  • Make a plan. Pick a day together and plan to go out and register. I was ready to go ANYTIME, but I think Mr. Fairfax was much happier knowing what days we were going, and where we were going so he could be prepared.
  • Set up the registries online first. You won't have to sit around in the store while you tell them your address, and your fiance's address, and your mom's address three times each.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • If there are big ticket items you would like (say, furniture at C&B), but you are hesitant about having that $500 head board on the registry, add them the week of the wedding. That way you can utilize the completion discount after the wedding to add these pieces to your home.
  • Register for pots and pans separately. If you can register for the individual items versus registering for the set, do it. A $400 set of Calphalon pans is pretty big gift. A single saute pan or sauce pan might be a little easier.
  • Go wild and crazy in the store, add EVERYTHING! You can edit online.
  • We probably over-registered, I am in the process of giving everything a nice trim. But I also want to provide options. I've purchased wedding gifts at the last minute when the couple didn't register for much at all and what was left was not a fun, exciting gift I wanted to give (uh, Brita Pitcher or Vacuum Cleaner bags anyone?).
  • Hit all the price points. The Sur La Table sales associates said that gift-givers frequently purchase a "big" gift and then want something little to go with it, like a set of wooden spoons or some dish towels.
  • Finally think about the things that you really will have for a long time, that you'll use to build your home add these types of items to your registry. Obviously dishes, china, and silverware are the prime examples. I know these are the types of gifts I know I like to give when I am a wedding guest.
These are just my experiences and my honest thoughts on them. Anyone else have some good tips or experiences to share?

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Dream a Little Dream

I've been having full on wedding nightmares for about the last 6 months. Anyone else? Yep, I thought so. It's not every night or anything but frequently enough to keep me on my toes!

Usually it something to do with not being on time, not having my shoes or not having my dress. Problems common in my normal, everyday, non-wedding nightmare life. I'm constantly 15 minutes late, can never find the shoes I want, and am constantly tearing drawers apart to find that one t-shirt I know I have somewhere.

Last night's wedding dream was quite heartening. I dreamed that we got married on the day after a big snowstorm and a lot of the guests couldn't make it, my Maid of Honor only made it to the reception, and the florist was late and some of the flowers were frozen. But the main feeling of the dream was that we GOT MARRIED and my wedding band was really pretty. Also that. And were were REALLY happy.

I was not ruffled at all by all the mishaps and just delighted to have gotten married. Hopefully sentiments that I'll have on the real day. When I awoke this morning, I was still a little confused and actually looked at my hand and thought oh, where's my wedding band? Oh, right it was just a dream.


Save the Dates

They've landed! I've been waiting to write this post so that no one would get a sneak peak at the Save the Dates until our future guests had received them. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something like a map or picture that was representative of us but make a picture of us be the focal point of the Save the Date. I'm totally fine if I receive something like that from someone else, but my fiance and I weren't keen on the idea of our faces looking out from a refrigerator at our future guests reminding them about our wedding - just not our style. Also, we wanted something simpler so we didn't have to worry about envelopes and licking and gluing and all that mess.

I, too, love Laura Hooper's work, but alas she was not in the budget. So, I turned to the best alternative, my wonderful sister and Maid of Honor. It was actually really fun to work on them with my sister and now we have a very special keepsake for our wedding with my sister's signature on it, literally. All the way across the ocean in London, she work on different sketches and the font and would send me pictures of what she'd dreamed up. It was always so exciting for me to receive her emails with pictures of her ideas.

Here she is making her drafts and practice sketches over the winter holidays.Also, I wanted them to be hand-addressed, so I undertook the task of addressing them myself. I totally loved it, too, but I love writing stuff out. So found a font that I liked and practiced it several times before trying it out on our postcards. It killed me to cut stuff out, but it was necessary (below is our Photographer's Save the Date).Below, our personalized stamps with a photo from our engagement session, courtesy of our awesome photographer, Robert Holley of Robert Holley Photography. This still keeps with our refusal to look out from the fridge at our future wedding guests, but still allowed us to use a picture because we love them so much.
The Save the Dates en masse:And the front of the Save the Dates:
Oh how I love paper.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A cakery with a sour taste

About 2 weeks ago I started contacting Charlottesville cakeries with the hope of scheduling a tasting this coming weekend. My fiance starts his Spring Break this weekend, so the timing was right and I'll be completely absorbed by work next month as it's the month right before my work event (and May just seemed like it was getting much too close to the wedding...*stifling mild scream of anxiety*). I contacted Cakes Unlimited LLC, True Confections by Carlotta, and Albemarle Baking Co. as they were the vendors recommended by Keswick. The first two were wonderful in responding, being open, welcoming, and helpful. We are so excited to meet with them next week. However my experience with Albemarle Baking Co. was very disappointing. ABC said that they had an opening at 8AM or 8:30AM. I asked if they had an opening later in the day as we were driving from 2 hours away and my mother was driving from 3.5 hours away. (And a cake tasting at the crack of dawn just did not sound appetizing at all.) Her response:

Since we start early in the morning, 8:30AM is my last appointment. If you are serious about meeting that day, I can come back to the bakery later that day to meet you around 2PM. Will that work for you?

I was very surprised by her response but gave her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was having a bad morning, even though it seemed very inappropriate to me. My response:
Good afternoon X,

I am definitely seriously considering Albemarle Baking Company for our wedding cake, that is, if you are not yet booked for August 2, 2009.

I have confirmed with my mother and fiance and you are still available, 2 pm would be a great time to meet. I'm afraid that 8:30 AM would be too early for us to taste the cake and I wouldn't want the early time to affect how we receive it. However, if you much prefer to meet with us on another day, I can let you know when we will be returning to Charlottesville. It will most likely not be until mid-May as I also work events and the last 3 weekends in April are booked for me. . .

I can send you an email later this week with more specifics as to what we are looking for in the cake. Right now, we prefer the square tiers over round and some exotic flavors, like mango, passion fruit, and coffee (but not in the same layer!). . .

ABC responded that they could meet at 2PM but there would be no cake to taste at the bakery. (What kind of bakery doesn't have cake on hand?) BUT, if I wanted to order a cake to sample, it would cost $20-$30. I understand that it's quite expensive to put together a tasting. However, the tone of her response and the overall manner in which she treated me left me with a very sour taste in my mouth. In the end, a hair and makeup artist I'd contacted said she was available to meet at 1:00PM, so we ended up taking her appointment. I let ABC know that our plans had changed, but if we were still looking for cake bakers in mid-May, perhaps I would contact her when our schedules better align.

Hopefully things will work out this weekend . . . but now I have minor cake another minor crisis to tend to. . .

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I'm Officially a Two Shoe Bride

So I broke down and bought another pair of possible wedding shoes on Friday. I was doing ok, I bought my original pair back in October (for full price, $70+, oh yes they were on sale for $29 less than 6 weeks later. THANKS, Bandolino), and I've held out til now. That's something to be proud of, right?

I have my first dress "fitting" in three weeks. It's not really a fitting, I bought my dress on consignment and off the rack, but I do need to get the train bustled. I also need to make the final call on whether I have to get it hemmed. Boo. The dress is 4 layers of filmy organza type fabric, which I'm pretty sure will mean $$ if it has to be hemmed. The heel on the original shoe is about 2.5 inches. When I went home last time, I took the shoes with me and tried them on with the dress. I'm 5' 6" and in the shoes the skirt almost skims the ground almost. As in, if I look down that's enough to make the shirt brush the floor. Since the wedding ceremony is outside I was getting a little nervous that maybe I need a little more height. I originally hoped to wear flats to maximize the height difference between the me and Mr. Fairfax, but even when I'm in three inch heels, the man's got some height on me. the And since I love to shoe shop these reasons were more than enough to justify getting back in the bridal shoe scouting game.

I originally wanted colored shoes. I went from wanting blue to red to settling on brown (the color of the bm's dresses). This time, knowing how hard it was to find something just right in a color and knowing the the height was really the important aspect, I opened up and started looking at traditional bridal shoes and dyeables again.

I saw these on the J Crew Final Sale, and I literally had them in my cart and almost hit "purchase" SO many times. I couldn't justify it though since the shoes would still be around $78 with shipping even if I could get them on an extra 20% off day. I wasn't 100% sold on the t-strap style (it's cute in theory, but what if I hated it?) and the shoes are NOT returnable (that tricky "Final Sale"). I didn't see much of market for the style on eBay leading me to believe, if I got them and hated them, I'd be stuck and out a lot of money.

I also cruised around to Payless again to see if anymore of the Lela Rose shoes had been released. Payless started doing the partnership with high end designers (just like Target!) sometime in the last year and the latest collection is a line of bridal shoes by Lela Rose.

Well, I was in luck. The Lela Rose bridal shoes are out AND the dyeable line is now available. Niiiice. All four shoes are super cute, and they come in two versions: 1) the normal Payless version made of that synthetic matte patent leather type stuff and costing around $25 2) a satin dyeable version for around $45 and that includes the dying costs from what I can tell. My friends, this is a STEAL. You can find them under the "Special Occasion Shoes" and the "Designers for Payless" sections on the Payless website. Information about the satin dyeables can be found on the Unforgettable Moments website.

Yes, yes, this was all online, so I still needed to see them in person. Fortunately, there is a Payless around the corner from my place of employment, so I was able to check them out over my lunch break. Best part ever? They have a t-strap shoe very similar to the J Crew shoe!

I should really have a flow chart to explain this, but my first plan was to try on the t-strap style at Payless and if I liked it, order the J Crew t-strap shoe. Once I got to the store and confirmed the shoes are all cute in person and met my standards I decided to buy the $25 version and if the heel is high enough with my dress (the specs say the heel is 3.5 inches), return for the nicer satin dyeable version. Once I got them home and wore them around the house for a few minutes, I though, heck, these are fine! The synthetic looks nice and you can't even tell it's matte patent leather unless they're two inches form your face. And everyone keeps telling, no one is going to see my shoes anyway (I'm still skeptical of this). Why pay $45 for the white satin shoe when I'm happy with the $25 one?

So in case you were wondering, I can happily confirm, these shoes are pretty sweet. They are quite attractive, reasonably comfortable (actually have a decent bit of padding under the ball of the foot), and the price is seriously right. Lela Rose even added the very sweet bridal touch of a pale blue liner in the shoes. So if you were wondering, go for it! I'm really happy with mine so far!

FYI-They have a few samples of the satin shoes in the stores, but you basically try on the $25 in the store, look at the color palette if you want your shoes dyed and then place your order. The $25 ones aren't bright bright whit, but they aren't off white either. My dress is a "diamond white." Basically you only know it's not true white when you put it next to something that is. The colors will probably be a teeny bit different, but I'm willing to live with that.

Honestly, as much as I was SO determined to have colored shoes and make a little statement with my shoe choice, I just love my white shoes. There's just something extra special and bridal about them. Much like the moment they put the veil on you at the bridal shop, and you really feel like a real bride for the first time, that's kind of how I feel when I put on my white shoes. :)

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I Just Love a Good Checklist

I was on the Real Simple website this evening looking for instructions on making a ribbon caddy from an oatmeal container.

Somehow the search phrase I used brought up the baby shower checklist. Weird, but then I thought, hmm, I wonder if they have a bridal shower checklist. They do! Ohhhh!

I love Real Simple's checklists! If you haven't picked up a copy of the Real Simple Weddings Guide with all it's great checklists and lists of questions to ask vendors, do so immediately. You'll thank me later (you're welcome).

Yes, it's $13.95, but I'm telling you this is the greatest wedding mag ever. I bought the 2008 edition and have probably only purchased 3 other bridal mags in addition to this. The tips are great, the checklists are awesome, and it's SO practical. LOVE IT.

The Bridal Shower check list is great! Whether you are a MoH, a Mom, or a best friend, this is an excellent guide for throwing a great par-tay. You're sure to be the hostess with the mostess if you follow this. I book-marked this on my own computer and I plan to print it out and add it to my stash o' wedding stuff. I obviously won't be throwing my own shower, but hopefully I have a chance to throw a few in the future, and I know I'll want this to make sure I don't forget anything!

Ohh...there's a honeymoon planning checklist too...

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