Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Most brides these days are incorporating handmade, personally crafted elements into their wedding for a more intimate and down-home feel.

I, on the other hand, am cheap...

I decided a while back when I first started planning my wedding that I was going to DIY
a few things here and there in order to save some money. This idea has turned into quite a laundry list of projects (24 to be exact).

So I figured I needed to find a way to avoid the inevitable stress that DIY projects bring...Yes, that's right...STRESS...I said it! Some wedding blogs would have y
ou to believe that DIY is ssooo much fun! They take you step by step through the process as they do it, you envision some lovely girl with an apron on and a copy of Everyday Living sitting next to her as she meticulously and perfectly glues, cuts, folds and sprinkles crafty goodness into her special day...I begin to day dream and see myself as an urban Martha Stewart, gluing, cutting, folding and sprinkling pieces of crafty magic everywhere...but in actuality, I end up with a scene similar to this... (source)

My plan is to tackle one project at a time. I know that sounds so simple, but for someone like me, it is easier said than done. I have a list that I am working from (it of course has no order) and I decided to just go down the list, find inspiration or instructions on what I want to do and how I want it to look and then, as Nike says, "Just Do It!" With 8.5 months to go, I should be able to get all 24 items done...right?

First on the list was my "Will you be my Bridesmaid?" cards. Those were simple...I did something sort of like what Miss Woodley Park did...I got some photo cards from Target, cut out some pictures of bridesmaid dresses, cut out some heads from pictures I had of my girls and voila! Cards...so simple and easy...I must be a DIY genius! A DIY idiot savant, if you will! Here is how they turned out... (personal photos)

So cute!

Ok, I am good with the cards...so I made our Save the Dates (which I will share at a later time) and again thought I was a crafting maniac!

So in my DIY frenzy, I tried to do our wedding invitations...all 165 of them. One... Hundred... Sixty... Five... Invitations! I eventually decided my sanity was more important than saving a few hundred dollars. But, not before I created 60 of these little disasters.

I did not, however, let this insignificant, although time consuming, blunder deter me. I might have fell, but I got back on the ice and decided to go down my DIY list and do our rehearsal dinner invitations. All I needed to make was 28, not 165 invitations, it was a much simpler project to attack an
d it did not need as much planning and forethought. One tip Ladies, pick and chose the DIY projects you tackle carefully...if you don't, you might end up wasting much more time and money than you would have if you had just paid a professional (I spent a total of $300 on materials on those ugly invitations...oh...that actually hurt to write!)

I downloaded an invitation template I found here and added th
e perfect Mexican themed font to it from here. I personalized the template with our rehearsal dinner info via Photoshop and downloaded a simple, yet perfect wrap around label template from here. The paper and envelopes were purchased from Michael's (total of approximately $25) and I printed them out at home. This is the result, check it out. (personal photos)
There are plenty more projects to come. What kind of projects are you ladies working on? Any blunders so far?

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Are YOU a Sample Dress Bride?

Going along with Ms. Charleston’s post – I thought I’d follow up with some more things to think about when dress shopping. I agree with all of her advice – definitely have an idea of what you think you might like going in – neckline, color, material, embellishments, but try on any and everything you can get your hands on. I had a word document with dress pictures that I loved, and then stores that carried each designer. But we all know that the dress looks WAY different in a glossy magazine, with teeny tiny model showing the dress off. So my most favorite and valuable nugget of advice was to search sites that sell pre-owned wedding dresses, even if you don’t think you’ll ever buy a “used” one, so that you can see what a type of dress, or even, if you get very lucky, the exact dress you’re looking for looks like on a real girl.

Long story short, while searching for v-neck dresses (which I thought looked the best on me – Mr. OBX has a thing against strapless, and I am fidgety, plus, I seem to have a disproportionate amount armpit fat that never looks good with strapless and until they invent an exercise that targets that area, no strapless for me – though I tried lots on), I came across MY dress online at one of the resale sites. I knew I had to have it. V-neck dresses themselves are a bit more difficult to find, plus I wanted embellishments on the TOP of the dress, and this dress (the one in the center in the pic on the left) was just it.


I set about finding it in a store in DC, because I knew I had to see it in person. I called the designers headquarters in NY and found out that it had been discontinued, and that my only hope was finding a sample. So I googled and googled, and called stores across the country, to no avail. And then I called Hannalores on a whim, knowing they carry the designer, and they HAD the dress. I was jumping out of my skin, made an appointment for that same afternoon, went in, tried it on, it fit like a GLOVE, and was CLEARLY the dress (plus it was 50% off – which put it actually somewhere near my price range). Of course, I doubted it (and made things WAY more difficult than they have to be – which has become a hallmark of my wedding planning process), and didn’t buy it then and there – I spent the weekend trying on other dresses at Lady Hamilton, Rosalins, Katherine’s, Hitched, and back at Hannalores to try on “the” dress again. I didn’t hesitate this time and I bought it!

The store said they would take care of cleaning the very minimal marks on the dress, repairing some of the beadwork, etc. and would have it ready for me in June to pick up for my fittings. And then I freaked out – I bought a “used” (crinkle nose when saying this) dress for the most important day of my life, it had been in the store for a long time – what if it had changed colors (and my internet research confirmed that this could be a reality), what if the front was too low cut, what if they couldn’t MAKE it perfect, what if this WASN’T MY DRESS after all?

After a slight miscommunication, the store made good on its word, and their seamstresses/repair department made the dress perfect (even to my discerning eye). Pamela did an amazing job at easing my concerns when I was in a tizzy that “I was not meant to be a sample dress bride, I’m way too anxious” – we took the dress outside, and my fear that the dress had turned yellowish was alleviated, and she convinced me that there is no stigma to buying a sample. So, after that very lengthy post – here is my (very biased) list of things to consider before buying a sample:

  • Take a deep breath and think about what a sample is – yes it is probably a great deal, but the dress you are looking at WILL BE the dress you will wear down the aisle, and other people have tried it on, and it may not be the letter of perfect. Think about whether this will cause you more worry, stress, and anxiety than the great deal is worth.
  • Get unbiased advice on the alterations (and what is possible for your specific dress) before you buy!
  • Really examine the dress for wear and tear – be picky and be pushy. In addition to the things you can see, consider the traffic/business of the store, and how long the dress has been in the store. Go over the dress with a fine tooth comb with alterations staff (not salespeople) when its hanging on the hanger in a well lit area (dresses CAN turn yellow after a long time under fluorescent lights, in plastic bags – and there is very little that can done about this).
  • Discuss every imperfection and whether it can realistically be fixed. Of the things that can be fixed, negotiate with the store what you expect to be fixed, how you want it fixed, and when it will be done by. Make sure the seamstress is present for this discussion. Get this in writing. Take pictures (if you can) of all marks or changes. Of the things that cannot be fixed, ask for more discounts (but really consider if you are okay with having the mark, or rip, or whatever).
  • Do your research and figure out what the dress sells for new, and how old the dress is (what year the designer first offered it). Be able confidently negotiate based on how old it is, the retail price, and the condition of the actual dress. Realize that you are helping the store recoup their costs on the dress, that you are NOT a second class shopper because you are looking at samples, and that you deserve the same level of service as everyone else – they need you more than you need them.
  • Be prepared for a no-return policy and don’t let anyone pressure you into buying the dress until you are certain that it is the dress for you. It is likely that the dress will still be there tomorrow or next week. As soon as the dress leaves the store, it will be YOURS, so don’t take it until you are satisfied with how it looks.


Monday, June 29, 2009

And The Winner Is…..

DC NearlyWeds has been nominated for the WeddingChannel.com Bridal Blog Awards.

WeddingChannel.com (http://www.weddingchannel.com/), the number one wedding & gift registry website, has announced its first annual Bridal Blog Awards program (www.weddingchannel.com/blogs).

As a result Yours Truly (DC NearlyWeds) has been nominated for the award. Although the different categories have not been chosen, we are determined to win the “Best Overall Wedding Blog”.

Give DC NearlyWeds your nod toward winning this title by nominating us!
Reply to the post to second (or third or fourth, etc) the nomination! Also include a link to your favorite blog post and why you think DC NearlyWeds should win!

You can post as many times as you desire, but remember nominations end on July 8, 2009.

We will keep you posted on updates!

Taffeta and Tulle

I thought about this post because I ran into a friend of mine over the weekend who is recently engaged and was off to go dress shopping.

For someone who is off to go dress shopping for the first time, it is a terribly fun and anxious experience. Let's face it, you're trying on wedding dresses. No matter how unconventional or un-girly one claims to be, there is something just so fantastic about trying on that first gown. My own dress shopping experience was LONG. I literally couldn't wait to get to shopping the second I got back from our vacation. Now, word to you ladies about to venture out: shop shop shop. I think one of the best things I did was shop around and try on every single style there is out there for brides. So here are some places and tips from me to you on dress shopping.

1) Know what you want. It's overwhelming when you walk into a bridal boutique and see every color, shape, and style imaginable. Some people find "the one" the second they try it on, while others like me needed a little more time to really find it. So search those websites and magazines and have an idea of what you want, but be open-minded. There are certain styles that are recommended for certain body types but trust me--you want to try on everything.

2) Shop around (if you can and want to and have the time!). It's easier said than done, but sometimes you don't know what you're looking for until you've seen every possible option. This may also save you the trouble of realizing that your spontaneous wedding gown purchase is not making you as happy as you were when you were high on wedding dress fumes when you go in for your first fitting! I went to Hannelores, Hitched (where I swear I found my dream dress), I Do, I Do (where I thought I really found my dream dress), Carine's, David's Bridal, and a few online peeks. Thefrock.com is a vintage/couture dress haven for someone who is looking for vintage Oscar, Dior, and Givenchy to name a few. I thought this dress was adorable:

Vintage Lanvin

By the time I was done I knew that although I'm petite, I loved the ballgown look even though every style guide advised me otherwise. I also knew that I at first shunned strapless but loved every single strapless dress I tried on. I was also going to get a white gown, but a light gold/ivory gown made me look amazing.

3) Bring good friends (but not too many). Bring the ones that will be honest with you. Also, remember that while they are welcome to their opinion, YOU are the one who has to wear it so ultimately, go with you gut, not your gals.

4) Wear clean undies, a strapless bra, and patience. You may be in the store for five minutes or an hour. Some places may also limit the number of dresses you try on.

Those are just some of the things that I know were helpful for me to keep in mind when I went dress shopping. And to be honest, there were times when I went by myself because with too many people and too many opinions it was easy to get lost in the mix. I finally found "the dress," in the most unusual places: The Running of the Brides at Filene's in Mazza Gallerie. My bridesmaids and I went last summer just for fun because I saw a TV special about it and I had tried on so many dresses that I thought it would be fun and worth seeking out a designer gown at heavily marked down prices. The dress was an ivory ball gown, a fraction of the dress I almost bought the week before, and after a few alterations, it is now the perfect dress:

new neckline with the pockets I had put in


Top model pose.

I hope to get the dress 100% done and perfect in the next few weeks.

So good luck as you venture out and look for your perfect gown. For you ladies who found yours, what advice do you have?

p.s. ladies, The Running of the Brides is on July 31, 2009 at Mazza Gallerie. Camp out for the adventure, but there are less people and plenty of dresses left in the afternoon. I'm adventurous so I went, complete with t-shirts and team!

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It's my engage-aversiry!

Today marks year THREE since Mr. National Mall popped the question, and it's also my 22nd birthday (yay!) In honor of this lovely day, I figured I'd provide some pictures!

This is us driving up to NYC. Yes, I'm wearing a crown :) Sad to say, I already knew about the proposal because Mr. National Mall was being so secretive, I snooped around and found the info :oops: so I couldn't wait until we arrived!

When we got to NYC we went out to a wonderful dinner at an old Italian restaurant. The first picture is the outside of Barbetta restaurant as it was raining while we were eating in the garden. The second picture is how it looks when its NOT raining and gross, as it always is on my birthday. Much prettier. To start off the evening we ate the best food that I have ever tasted outdoors at this restaurant. It was a wonderful beginning, even though it was raining. The waiters there even sang Happy Birthday to me (and very well, at that!)

My yummy cake Enjoying my dinner :)
After dinner it was of course, raining, but Mr. National Mall insisted on taking a walk to Central Park. I already knew about the proposal (I know, I know...) so I pretended to be mad and mumbled and grumbled the whole way. We reached Gramercy Park and climbed aboard a horse and carriage. I was speechless as to what I found. Inside the carriage was a violinist and a bouquet of white roses. As we rode through Central Park, still raining, the violinist played soft music for us. After a few minutes, Mr. National Mall wanted to give me my "birthday present", and I was completely expecting a ring! He hands me a ring box, and inside are......earrings. Thoroughly disappointed, I said thank you and continued to stare out the window.

All of a sudden I hear the violinist play "Canon in D", the song I want to walk down the aisle to. I turn to my fiance and struggles to get down on one knee inside the cramped carriage. As he does he says "I can't wait to see you walk down the aisle to this song....will you marry me?" I of course, say yes!! Suddenly, it stops raining (of course), and we stop at a lake in Central Park, which was supposed to be the proposal spot. The sky was gorgeous shades of pink and purple, and it was a beautiful moment, even though the proposal had already occcured.

Which brings us to the ring! It's absolutely perfect, and exactly what I wanted. Mr. National Mall did good :) Excuse my awful camera pics...I still can't take a good picture of the ring!

And three years later, here we are today! Finally planning and getting ready to be married. I can't believe it's been three years already, and I cannot wait to marry the love of my life!


You do know the Broke-Ass Bride, right? She of the ridiculously cool and funny wedding video, not to mention the great blog? Well, she has a new venture - and it's something that can save you money!

I love, love this idea. Bride$hare is a "networking" style site where you can share wedding items, and maybe more importantly, the cost of wedding items. So just the other day I wrote about my desire for lots of milk glass vases in our centerpieces. Here's how it would work - when I'm sure that's what I want to do, I can find another bride who wants the same thing. Then we work out a way to share the items and the cost. Maybe I buy them and sell them to her after my wedding. Maybe we split the cost of buying them, both use them, then resell them and split the profits. Maybe I just go ahead and buy them and then post them for resale on the Bride$hare boards. There are so many possibilities! Whatever way we do it, the goal is to save money, help ourselves and other brides have great weddings for less, and go a little greener in our planning by reducing waste.

Sound great? Here's what you should do: 1) sign up for Bride$hare, 2) befriend me on the site! (I'm Lysandramarie), 3) join the DC Metro Area group, 4) start sharing and saving!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

he popped the question!

The last year Mr. UVA and I lived in DC, I was working as an Instructional Assistant in special education classrooms during the day and nannying in the evenings. Some nights I would come home and collapse on the floor with exhaustion. This night was no exception. I think I got home around 9 or 9:30 and Mr. UVA had kindly waited to eat dinner until I got home (he had also kindly cooked dinner – lucky me!). I was not a pleasant lady that evening. I had baby food caked onto the front of my shirt and the rest of my appearance was less than stellar. After a rushed dinner, I had to catch up on emails I had been avoiding for the past couple of weeks and was fully focused on the laptop in front of me. Mr. UVA sweetly said, “I love you” in my ear to which I rudely responded “I know” and continued with the task at hand. Unfortunately I missed the rest of the message Mr. UVA had prepared (i.e. the proposal) and only turned around in time to see him wrestling under the couch cushion for my engagement ring. He was on his knees by the time I realized what was happening. Crying and shaking my head no, (in disbelief that I had just missed the proposal) I asked him to repeat the whole thing.

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Will you be my Bridesmaid?

I spent the few weeks following our engagement trying to figure out a fun and creative way to ask my bridesmaids to be my bridesmaids. I know that some people do cupcakes, some just call them up, and some people do cards. I liked the cards idea, especially since one of my girls lives in Connecticut. However, I didn't want to do a plain card so when I was looking for pictures of me and the girls together, I came up with a plan.

I headed straight to Walmart and picked up all of the newest bridal magazines. Then I went to work finding pictures of a bride and bridesmaid standing next to each other. That task was much more difficult than I had anticipated, but with a little creativity, I was able to find something that would work for each girl.

Next, I designed my own card (with construction paper, ribbon, and glue) and made it pretty, pink, and green.

I pasted one bride and bridesmaid minus the head to the front of my cards, and then cut out a picture of me and my bridesmaids' heads to "attach" to the bodies. It's supposed to look silly, and I think that they turned out fabulously. The girls all loved them and they appeared to be a big hit.

Here's an example of two of the cards (I had seven)! On the inside of each card, I wrote "Will you head down the aisle with me as my bridesmaid/maid of honor?"

I asked several of the girls over dinner at P.F.Changs!

How did you ask your bridesmaids to head down the aisle with you?

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Second Engagement Ring

After yesterday's post, I realize I may have left you with the impression that I've been planning my wedding for the past 6 months with a bubble gum wrapper on my left hand. Not so, dear reader! Mr. 16th addressed that situation, but it did take a little longer than expected.

After his spontaneous proposal, he confessed that ring shopping was already moving a little faster than he had let on. The diamond was on hold and the setting already ordered. It looked like I could have my ring in about a week! But no, there were delays and obstacles along the way. The first setting he chose was discontinued and they couldn't get my size. He changed it to something very similar (that I actually like more!) and then we had to wait for a new special order all over again.

Now, I wholeheartedly do not believe that an engagment happens only via a diamond ring. You can be perfectly, happily engaged with any number of things, or nothing at all, to symbolize your commitment. We had decided, however, to follow the tradition of him giving me a big ol' pretty diamond ring. And, since that decision had been made - I wanted my ring!

So I waited, not at all patiently, for my ring to be ready. When he left for work one morning, which just happened to be Valentine's Day, I asked tentatively, "Do you think it may be ready?" But he assured me that no, it wouldn't be ready, and he was really sorry and eager to get it too. "Oh, it's OK," I joked, "we're not the kind of people who get engaged on Valentine's Day anyway." By this I mean we are cynical and jaded.

So Mr. 16th came home that night and came into the kitchen, where I was preparing a lovely Bayou BBQ Shrimp dish that must be eaten with a fresh baguette and an entire roll of paper towels for the mess. He held up a jewelry box with a twinkle in his eye and said that he had a little present for me, even though my ring wasn't ready. I grabbed it and tore the box open to find . . . two miniature Hershey's dark chocolate candies. Oh. Thanks. I laughed and tried to hide my shattered hopes from him. To distract myself, I turned back to the kitchen to feed the dog. When I turned back around, dog food bag in hand, he had the biggest smile on his face and was holding a box with the perfect engagement ring.

The dog food bag hit the floor and I flew into his arms. I know it's not the ring that makes the engagement, but I sure do love that ring!

I guess maybe I am the kind of girl who gets an engagement ring on Valentine's Day.

etsy fever

I haven't made a Ton of purchases from etsy yet, but I have marked a zillion favorites, and once I pull together a more cohesive plan for the reception decor/wedding party attire/my own accessories, I will be going to Town. So here are some of my favorites that I'm thinking about.

Bridesmaid dresses, custom made by Miss Brache.

Linen invitations, custom made by Artful Beginnings.

Birdcage veil and fascinator, by SmittenXOXO. I might want to try making my own (I'll update on that later when I give it a try), but if it doesn't work out I'll probably buy one from this shop.

Cake topper, by Bunny with a Toolbelt. Actually, we're using the same cake topper Mr. Fairfax's grandparents used at their wedding 60+ years ago, but if we weren't using that one, I would die to have this giraffe bride & groom topper. So. Effing. Cute.

I have bought a Few things already, including this darling necklace which I hope I like as much in person. I usually go straight to the Weddings section but you should definitely check out the Vintage stuff! Some great finds in there, especially in jewelry.

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Miss GWU: Engagement Fever!

This photo is property of Ben Chrisman Source: Ben Chrisman Blog

Stuck at my work desk all day and then in classrooms at night as I finish up my M.A., I have really REALLY enjoyed reading all of the new DC NearlyWeds' posts. I think that's one of the many things I love about wedding stories. There's so much history and rich life-shaping moments that go into building a relationship, taking that leap together, and realizing your dream day as the doors open and the blushing bride walks down that aisle. Almost like our own chance to realize that fairy-tale moment. Anyway, I digress.

So 2 weeks after my engagement, my best friends (and maids of honor) and I were going to meet up in St. Louis for our yearly girly weekend. While waiting for our flight at DCA, Cari, breaks the news that she is engaged. It happened in a nontraditional way. Almost similar to Miss 16th St's story, there was cuddling, there was a look, and then there was something along the lines of "Would you like to get married?" Pretty much a shotgun engagement, Cari and her man are looking to get married in a tres petitie ceremony here in DC. Engagement - June. Wedding - September. Yes, fast turnaround but I have no doubt it will be special and speak to their personalities. No frills but romantical. Think of Pride and Prejudice and you get the idea.

Add another one to the mix, 2 days into our St. Louis trip, our good friend, Brookey, called to inform us that after a good lunch at Spike's burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery, her man got down on one knee and popped the question. They celebrated their engagement at jazz night on the Smithsonian.

I'm telling you ladies, its in the air!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hello from Miss 16thStreet

Hi all! I'm so happy to be blogging here with the other wonderful ladies of DC NearlyWeds! I've been writing for some time over at my own blog, but don't worry - I'll start from the beginning and catch you up!

So where is the beginning, exactly? First I thought I'd start out by telling you the story of Mr. 16th's proposal. But then I realized, that's not exactly the beginning, is it? The beginning for us is, in fact, a bit hard to pinpoint. First date? First kiss? First mention of marriage? The moment we knew we'd spend our lives together?

How about the first time we set eyes on each other? That's about as close to the beginning as you can get, I'd say. Well, in typical DC fasion we met in law school. The first day of law school. Actually, the first day of orientation for law school! I can't say it was love at first sight - we were both in other relationships and just not expecting to meet the love of our lives. But over that first school year, it became clear that we were best friends. By the end of our second year, our relationships had both ended and it was clear we were much more than friends. We had a tough few months, figuring out how this could work and doing it all long distance since I spent the summer working in another city. When I got back to DC for our third year, though, things just fell into place. It was undeniable that we were in love and just plain good together.

By the end of our third year of law school we had a little apartment and a little dog. We spent that summer studying together every day and when fall came we were real, working, barred attorneys! It was natural for talk of engagement to follow, and it did. Mr. 16th even took a part-time job to save up for a ring (we're not the big money kinds of lawyers!). I knew it was coming, and even gave him my opinion on a few settings. Our timeline was spring, or maybe summer of 2009.

Patience is a virtue, and not one that we possess, so we were engaged January 4, 2009! Not exactly on our timeline, but here's how it happened. We were hanging out at home that night, cuddling and being goofy and talking about the future. Should we buy a house? Where are our careers headed? You know how the conversation goes. Suddenly, Mr. 16th looked at me and said, in the most sincere tone, "Just marry me." And without a second thought, I said "OK."

We looked at each other, a little bit stunned, and finally he asked, "Is this for real?" I was shaking a little when I answered "Yeah, it is." "Wait," he told me, "we have to do this right." With that, he jumped up and ran over to his dresser, where he proceeded to make me an engagement ring. He pulled me to my feet, dropped to one knee, and delivered a beautiful, eloquent proposal. Of course, neither of us really remembers what he said - but I do recall hearing that he loved me, wanted to spend his life with me, and that we would always be partners "in life, in love, and in the law." (Nerds!) When it was over we were laughing, crying, and shaking. And we were engaged. I had the ring and everything. My very own custom, handmade ring created on-the-spot from a Bazooka Joe wrapper and a piece of packing tape. Now that's romance!

shoes! <3

After reading the amusing posts and comments on East Side Bride related to finding wedding shoes for Meg at APW (here and here and here), I got all up in a flutter about how ridiculously high the heels are on those shoes and angry about how hard it is to find shoes in my size (a whopping size 10, or more accurately 10.5 but that size rarely exists), and how often shoes in my size come with ridiculously high heels.

This might not be making any sense. It's not even the point. The point is the abovementioned blogs inspired me to go on a big search to Prove I couldn't find the perfect wedding shoes with 1.25 - 1.5" heels (I bought a dress on a sample sale that is only long enough for me to wear shoes at that height, Maybe a maximum of 2" (which is good because I hate towering over people in 4" heels anyway) ) and ended up on Endless.com and found.. the perfect shoes! they're 1.25" and ADORABLE. At least to me. And they have a Button on them. Which is important because I'm being crazy and incorporating a ton of old antique/funky buttons into my wedding (button bouquet maybe? I haven't decided).

I will have to come back soon and gush with Miss Glen Echo about all my super Etsy finds.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I *HEART* Etsy!

Actually, I think a more appropriate word to use may be "addicted," "obsessed," "crazied." In any case, I absolutely love this website and have to say that it is my favorite wedding planning discovery. I have purchased all kinds of treats and goodies from Etsy. Here is a list of some of the treasures I have found on this internet chest chalked full of booty! (all photo credits belong to the shop owners, please see links in post)

My very first purchase was 2 hair flower pins from Brenda's Bridal Veils. I was not sure if I was going to wear an ivory dress or a white dress (more on that later)...so due to my indecisiveness I purchased both.

My second purchase was a custom request from Siver dot Jewelry, a local DC shop, for matching necklaces and earrings for the bridal party (and our Grooms Maid). Oh and Ladies, if you are reading, this is not what you are getting...however you can expect your gifts to look just as fantastic.

My next purchase was extra special. It was an alchemy request or what I like to refer to as a "call to prayer." I had searched high and low for groomsmen ties that were under $20 in a specific shade of purple and could not find anything that matched my criteria (that criteria mainly being the under $20 part). So, I decided to see what I could do on Etsy, because by this time I had become a pro on the site. CredoNedo answered my call and did them perfectly for $12 per tie!

But I have to say that so far, this little exquisite peice of handmade loveliness has been my favorite purchase so far. It is the clutch I plan to wear with my gown. It is totally perfect and needs only but few words. Thank you, Angee W!

In total I have made, oh...around 18 purchases from Etsy...and it won't stop there. Oh yes *smiling feindishly* it will not stop there...

More to come on a few more of my purchases, including our invitations, some extra vintage goodness for my gown and jewelry for the bride.

So, have you guys discovered etsy too? Any good shops to reccomend?

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Putting the Cart before the Horse

Again, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll share a small detail that maybe isn’t the most romantic. We started, and completed, a big part of the wedding planning before Mr. Outer Banks formally proposed. Mr. OBX announced that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me in November on a hike to Old Rag. My immediate response (after giving him a big kiss and telling him that I felt the exact same way) was “So what does this mean?!” He said he wasn’t proposing right then and there, that he had a plan for that, but he wanted me to know that he was sure that I was “the one for him” :)

Well, the planner in me just couldn’t sit on this information – and we were so excited – so we started talking about EVERYTHING right away…including ideas for our wedding. Immediately, we decided on the Outer Banks because it is such a special place to us, our first (and annual) vacation together was to the OBX, and our family is scattered throughout the country, so it made sense. The decision to pick the Whalehead Club, in Corolla, was equally easy – we had been on bike rides past it and had each thought to ourselves that it would be a perfect place for a wedding. So the planning really SHOULD have stopped there. But we were talking about a short engagement, we both loved late summer for a wedding, and the Outer Banks books fast, so I told him I wanted to call the Whalehead Club to find out their availability.

Turns out, it was a good move. The only Saturday in September that they had available was September 26, 2009. We talked about it, agreed to book while we could, and sent in a deposit – and just like that, we knew our wedding date BEFORE I knew my engagement date. From there, in hindsight, the planning spiraled a bit out of control. I let myself be convinced that I wouldn’t be able to find a decent [fill in the blank] vendor unless I booked immediately. So, Mr. OBX agreed that we could keep planning. He didn’t want to plan before we got engaged, mostly because he didn’t want the proposal to be an afterthought (which it totally wasn’t) and he STILL maintains that “it’s not that difficult to plan a wedding, all you need is 2 months, really”, but he loves me and he knew I needed to PLAN. So plan I did. We booked the location, caterer, photographer, officiant, and rental company (for tents) before we got engaged. I tried on dresses with my mom before I had a ring on my finger because she wanted to be the first person to see me in a wedding dress and she lives far away.

And then the most wonderful thing happened – Mr. OBX proposed in the sweetest, most romantic, best surprise ever (even though I knew it was coming one of these days)! I contacted family and friends and told them the wonderful news and was able to tell them to save 9/26 for our wedding!! I basked in the newly engaged happiness without feeling crunched by the fact that we were getting married in less than 7 months and I had to start planning PRONTO.

Did anyone else start planning before the official proposal?

Hello from...Miss National Mall?

"Miss Rockville" here! Only, I was apparently supposed to me "Miss National Mall" but never got the memo. Oops! So, I changed my name, but don't worry, it's still me. :)

Planning for a wedding without actually having money is well...difficult. Due to the fact that I just graduated, I currently do not have a job. Looking, definitely looking, but nothing has come up yet. So until I get a job (or someone decides they want to give a generous contribution to our wedding fund), planning is pretty much at a halt. However, since I've been engaged for THREE FREAKIN YEARS now, I pretty much have all of the inspiration, ideas, and lists of vendors that I want to look at. So at least there shouldn't be much research involved.

First on the list (besides my long venue search) is catering. Mr. National Mall does not like fancy food. If I would allow him to serve McDonald's at our wedding he would. Seriously. Add to the fact that our budget for the venue/catering/rentals is $10,000, we can't afford to spend $100/person on filet mignon and lobster, even if Mr. Natioanl Mall did want it. So we've decided to opt for interactive stations. I think it will make for a fun and casual experience. Plus, who doesn't love fajitas and a macaroni and cheese bar? ;-) I've gotten a few proposals from companies that are a little shocking though. $80/pp for fajitas and a carving station? Really?? I might just have to deal with the fact that the DC area is just ridiculously expensive and buckle down and pay for it. But do I want to?? Noooooo way.

How did you deal with the sticker shock of the DC area prices?

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Hello from Miss NationalHarbor !

Wow! I am so late to the introduction party! I have been absolutely swamped at work and kept putting off writing my introduction until I could really put some time into it - but I see now that that is not going to happen---as the hits at work just keep on coming. So I will just get to it...

My name is Jennifer. I am 34 and work as a technical writer in Ballston. Mr. NationalHarbor is 32 and works for an architectural company in DC. We just moved to a condo in NE last month and we are also feverishly saving for our wedding which is taking place on Halloween night. No- it is not going to be a masked reception filled with werewolves and witches. I have just loved Halloween ever since I was a child and when I sensed Mr. NationalHarbor was close to popping the question I merely hinted that it sure would be awesome if I could meld my favorite holiday with a marriage to my favorite guy. And so he got the picture and here we are!

I will tell a little about the engagement since I find the story vastly amusing. Mr. NationalHarbor had been planning to present me with a ring on a weekend getaway at a hotel in DC which shall remain nameless. He had enlisted the help of my friend, Claire and had the whole thing planned when I threw a wrench in the works because frankly- I could not stand the hotel he had picked and since I had no idea he was planning to ask me to marry him that particular weekend I promptly suggested that we stay somewhere else. Which of course ruined everything since he had already spoken to the staff and had a whole evening of loveliness planned. Long story short- he did switch the hotel for me. After I had put the kibosh on his plans he had called my friend on her cell, begged her to take a long lunch with him and had dragged her to 3 or 4 new possible hotel choices in the city asking her to help him choose one I would love. Later that day he picked me up from work and took me to a fabulous suite filled with roses and champagne at the "engagement hotel" they had worked so hard to find that very afternoon. He was so nervous that we had no sooner entered the room before he sat me on the couch immediately and started talking. Sadly- I cannot really recall much of his proposal because he had gone deathly pale and was actually swaying on his feet as he talked. I was so intent on making sure he did not fall over that I was not really listening to what he was saying. It was only when he fell to his knees in front of me that I got the picture. That and the little black velvet box he was opening drove the point home. I have to admit I love telling that story and get a good laugh whenever i think of it. He was just so cute and endearing- but that is why I am marrying Mr. NationalHarbor.

Now I will give the lowdown on the ceremony so in the next posts I add here I can just get down to the nitty gritty and not have to give background details. Mr. NationalHarbor and I are getting married at Oxon Hill Manor in Oxon Hill, MD. Hence, my blogger name. We are having about 110 guests and have opted for an evening ceremony. We already have contracted the venue, the wedding planner, the photographer, a lighting guy, the DJ, a string quartet, the cake, the officiant, the caterer, and as of last week- a company to supply the alcohol. We are currently tackling the whole room blocks issue- which I will defintiely have to cover in greater detail and we are trying to lock down plans for the rehearsal dinner. And yet- I still feel like I have lots to do. I cannot seem to corral my bridesmaids into one place to pick dresses for them. We are making our own menu cards and invitations and escort cards so I will definitely have to convey my trials and tribulations with that. We have not gotten settled on tuxes for the groomsmen yet. We have not met with the florist yet and after 2 failed attempts at trying to find a make-up artist I have no idea what I am doing on that front. We still need to have the engagement shoot and since we are getting married in the evening- how does one take outside pictures at 10pm? There will be no natural light and the grounds will be covered in darkness. I have to find a way to get pictures on the grounds of the venue with my wedding party during the day. The only problem is that someone has contracted the venue in the afternoon before me and I can't very well push myself onto her day and ask " can i just interrupt your special day take a few pictures with my people near the fountain while your folks are eating? thanks so much." No. I simply have to come up with a better plan.

Ok. Well I think I have rambled enough for now. If anyone has any ideas about how to get around the picture issue please let me know! Next post I will tackle my room block drama. Who knew blocking rooms could lead to such difficulty! Oh, and if my posts tend to sound a little too much like a novel I apologize in advance. My friends are always making comments about that in every email I send to them. But since I write for a living how can I not be overly verbose? That's what they pay me for!

More wedding details coming soon!