Friday, July 31, 2009

assigned seats: like 'em or leave 'em?

Obviously you have to do seating charts if you're doing a plated meal. We are doing a buffet so I've been thinking this whole time that we don't have to worry about assigning seats. But do you think it's necessary anyway? When I think back on it, the plated meal weddings had assigned seating, and the buffet meal weddings did not. But my caterer suggested we assign seats anyway just because.

From one angle it seems like it would be nice to just let people sit with whomever they want. But then I do remember the weddings I've been to where I have my very own place card and I get to meet some of the guests I might not have otherwise had a chance to talk to.. And there's so much inspiration on the blogs for creative ways to do place cards and seating charts and all that.

I know I could get away with not seating people. But what do you think? Are you doing buffet or plated meal (or dessert buffet or anything else)? For those of you doing buffet, are you assigning seats? It just seems like one more thing I'm not sure I want to worry about..

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

longest day ever?

is it just me or is this day/week crawling by?? wow.
I am so giddy about booking the officiant. She's on vacation right now but she'll be back next week and will email us our "homework" - a packet for us to go through to help us narrow down our ideas for the ceremony. I'll share it with you when I see it!
I've always been for traditional vows but this post gives a compelling argument for writing your own. And some other great advice! I still think I'll never be able to express myself well enough but that seems like a common concern and in the end, for some, the words just come out right.

Thanks Miss National Harbor for bringing up the matching-ring issue. I have a white gold engagement ring but I've fallen for a palladium wedding band.. I'm not sure yet if I care if they're slightly mismatched.. No idea yet what Mr. Fairfax will choose, could be something like this, or maybe like this, or who knows.

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Wedding Bands

Wow-- I have not blogged in a while. Work and wedding planning can wipe a woman out- let me tell ya!

So. I was talking to my friend/bridesmaid/soon to be fellow bride, Amazonia last week via email (no- that is not her real name- but I covered this in my other blog posts, she wants to remain anonymous and so she shall...). So anyway- Amazonia emailed me and asked me where I was getting my wedding bands and what they were going to look like. I told her that we had already bought our wedding bands back in February at iGorman when they had a nice Valentine's day sale. My ring is a modified cushion cut diamond in white gold. Amazonia was proposed to with her fiance's mother's wedding ring. That is the ring she currently wears and it is yellow gold. She then asked how much I had paid for my ring because she had found a stunning ring but it was $5,000. I paid $2,500 for mine and I agonized over the purchase. One the one hand, I wanted a fabulous band to go with my ring (which I love). On the other hand- we are paying for 1/3 of the wedding ourselves and are on a very strict monthly budget so we can make our savings numbers. When the day came to make the decision in the store I thought- should I take the money away from some other area to get a fabulous wedding band? The band I will have forever- the flowers will be dead in a week. What to do? What to do? Then Mr. NationalHarbor, who is very Aries and metrosexual, decided that he also wanted a diamond in his band since he was going to have it forever as well and he did not want a speck of dust, either. No, he needed half a carat.

Now, I am not a big fan of diamonds in a man's wedding band- but who am I to argue with him? He wants a fabulous ring as well. He deserves one. We are in this together etc etc.. and so... the price for both bands jumped significantly. sigh.

To add to all of this- when Amazonia and I both looked for bands, the ones we fell in love with were made of Platinum. She asked me- does one dare to buy a wedding band that is of a different metal than what their engagement ring is made out of? Does one dare to have a mis-matched wedding ring set?

I told her I didn't think she should do it. I didn't. I got a channel set band in white gold. I just thought that in the end it is better to have a clean look. Yes white gold and platinum are similar- but with platinum the silver is just..."deeper" - if that makes any sense. It's like if you are feeling very sleek and want to wear a black top and black pants on the town for dinner on Saturday night and then you look in the mirror and the outfit just doesn't work for some reason. All blacks are not the same and you can see the slight variances in color sometimes. I did not want that unpolished look with my engagement ring and wedding band. Amazonia is still trying to decide what to get.....

The question I pose to you all is: what do you think? Do the metals have to match? How much have you spent on your bands or how much are you planning on spending?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Connect the dots, la la la la

I love polka dots and Mr. National Mall makes fun of me for it. Every time we see a polka dot shirt/dress/etc. he always points to it and exclaims "so cute!" in a high, girly voice because he knows I'll love it. So I started thinking. Would it be totally wierd to wear a polka dot wedding dress? I don't plan on incorporating any polka dots into the wedding (maaaaaaaaybe the cake), but how adorable would it be to wear any of these amazing dresses?

Oh J Crew how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

This Michelle Roth dress just screams 1950's inspired garden party to me!

And last, but certainly not least, Melissa Sweet's "Dora". :Swoon:. This dress is definitely more understated, but insanely gorgeous, no? If I had $4,000 to spend on a dress, I would have a Dora in my closet tomorrow morning.

Maybe I will have a polka dot wedding. An aqua, red, and white polka dot wedding. Hmmmmm


I was on my way here to post about hotel blocks when I noticed that Miss Fairfax just did the same thing. It seems like we all get the same ideas at once!

When I started this wedding planning process, I was determined to not let certain things stress me out or become difficult. Hotel rooms was one of them. I've traveled enough personally and for business that I thought I knew what I was doing. And I live here, so I'm familiar with the streets and metro stops. How hard could it be?

Well. It's pretty hard. To begin with, I've had trouble getting people on the phone from these hotels! Wedding blocks sometimes go through a hotel's event planner, sales office, or regular reservation desk. But none of them pick up the phone. And not many of them return calls. Ugh.

Right now I think it's down to three properties, and I need the advice of other DC brides. The wedding ceremony is at the Universalist National Memorial Church, at 16th and R NW. It's not confirmed yet and I don't want to blow the surprise until it's sure, but the reception will probably be a few blocks away. Both venues have parking. I think many of our guests will want to do some sightseeing while they're here, and the wedding is actually the first day of the 2010 Cherry Blossom Festival. So here we go.

Courtyard Washington Embassy Row

Image from www.marriott.com

The reservations person was very friendly on the phone. The hotel is less than a half mile walk to the Dupont metro. I tend to think of Marriott's as a bit outdated and Courtyard's in particular as lacking amenities. Online reviews are really all over the place, with the main complaints being small rooms and a noisy building/location. She quoted me $149 per night plus $28 for parking but suggested I call back in a few weeks to see if rates have gone down at all.

Hilton Washington Embassy Row

Image from www.hilton.com

I was first planning to check prices at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue. My mom has stayed there a few times and always found good prices online, I think through Expedia. It looks like the regular rates are just too high for what I want though, and there are a few conventions there that weekend. So I submitted a request online (which the lady who answered the sales line told me to do) to the Embassy Row Hilton. I've had good experiences with Hiltons but don't know anything about this one. It's very close to Dupont Circle. I haven't received a response to my online request yet, but regular rates for that weekend seem to be $170 plus $35 for parking.

Hotel Palomar

Image from www.travelhero.com

I just heard back from this property. I've heard very good things about them, and even about wedding receptions there. The location is very comparable to the Hilton. The prices are $119 for a queen bed, $139 for two queens or a king. Parking is $35. If we book 95% of the block and stay there ourselves, our room will be upgraded to a suite. The block expires 4 weeks before arrival though, while the Courtyard holds it until three weeks before.

Phew - that was exhausting. Our save the date's are going out in the next few weeks and I'd like to make a decision by the time people are receiving them. I guess we have some thinking to do! Thoughts?


where does the time go??

One of my co-workers had a baby last week, and I just remember the day she came and told me she was pregnant, it doesn't seem that long ago! And the time between then and now was eight months, about the same amount of time between now and the wedding, and I just can't imagine March 20th will ever get here! But at the same time I can't believe it's almost August, we've been engaged for almost six months.. eep!

I am excited to report that we have reserved our room block at the Hampton Inn - we're getting the $79/night rate, and I didn't even have to negotiate to make sure we won't be held responsible if the block isn't filled. So I'm pleased. ..now we just have to figure out who we're going to invite to FILL these rooms... guest list. sigh.

Also we seem like we're pretty settled on our officiant! We haven't officially told her we're in, but I think we will soon. Her name is Georgiana Atkins-Havill - she had a bunch of 5-star reviews on WeddingWire, and she's been featured in the Washington Post and other places. I spoke to her on the phone and she sounds lovely. She operates a little differently from other officiants/celebrants I've looked into - there's no contract, no set fee. We'll be discussing different ceremony options via email, and then 2 weeks in advance of the wedding (so her impressions of us will be fresh for the ceremony) we'll meet with her and finalize all the details, she'll do a run-through with us, of the vows and the ring exchange (but not everything - she likes to shoot from the hip a little so it doesn't sound rehearsed and stale, I liked that), and then after the ceremony we just pay her the amount we feel is appropriate and comfortable for us. She says she's never been underpaid, more often she's overpaid, because that's how happy people are with her work. So we feel pretty good about working with her. She seems to have a real passion for this. And that's a good thing! *martha stewart smile*

I was able to stop in at the REFRESH at FRESH event yesterday, got to hang out with our lovely Miss Not Yet Wed and her assistant Angela - didn't get to buy anything but it was a lot of fun! Anything with free champagne and cupcakes..! I'm there. Unfortunately it was so Hot, I didn't feel comfortable trying anything on since I was a sweaty hot mess. I will definitely have to go back though, they had some cute stuff.

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The Hair Trial!

I had my hair trial on Friday and it was a great time. I have baby fine, super straight, and ridiculously silky (doesn't hold much well) hair so I was a little worried about what we'd end up with.

Although I'd love to have long, flowing curls on my wedding day, it's just not going to happen for me. However, I'm pretty thrilled with what we came up with. :)

This is what we came up with.. It's not the most flattering side shot, but you get the idea.

One of my bridesmaids was able to join me so she snapped all of the pictures and ensured that my hair looked great from every angle.

The hairpins are something that I purchased on Etsy to spice up my look just a bit. I'm also going to be wearing a veil for at least half the day.

What do you think? Should I use this style on the big day?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


That is the average cost of a wedding in 2008! It has gone down from around $28,000, which means brides are being more budget conscious.

Find out more about the average cost of weddings in your area by checking out Cost of Wedding. For example, in Arlington where I live this is what came up:

"On average, couples that live in Arlington, VA spend between $38,246 and $63,744 for their wedding. This does not include cost for a honeymoon or engagement ring.

Wedding cost or average spent based on spending of other brides and grooms not wedding vendor prices. Spending and prices can vary widely. You should investigate all options and choose products and services that best meet your needs."

They have a neat breakdown based on the different services one needs or wants like a wedding coordinator, photographer, and DJ.

I wanted a really unique and fantastic venue. All the ones in the DC area that I wanted were way over my budget. Mr. Charleston grew up in WV so we started looking there for more cost effective venues so that we could have the size wedding we wanted for 1/2 the cost. Here is what the website quoted:

"On average, couples that live in Charleston, WV spend between $15,451 and $25,752 for their wedding. This does not include cost for a honeymoon or engagement ring."

Now, I know people have to travel to get there, but even if we had the wedding in the DC area, we had friends and family coming from the Philippines, England, Seattle, California, Las Vegas and all over the East Coast. Only about 1/4 of our guests are coming from the Dc area. In the end this worked out for our budget and for the size and type of wedding we're having. After the cost of the honeymoon, rings, and the entire wedding including the price of all the vendors, supplies, and miscellaneous items we have managed to stay under budget!

This obviously doesn't mean that every bride in the great DC metro area should start running for the hills to get away from high prices. We sacrificed the convenience of getting married in DC in exchange for a bigger wedding with a lot of the small details that we really wanted. Some of my dearest friends got married in DC and sacrificed the size of the wedding in order to have it in a popular venue in the area.

In the end, its about having a fun celebration with your new hubby and your best friends and family. We found a venue and have been able to plan a wedding for half the cost and we are able to have even more friends and family there. To us, having the most important people in our lives at our wedding is worth the drive:-)

Have you had to make compromises in terms of where you had your wedding and what you had at your wedding? How strict was your budget?

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I am so Excited! If you are still on the fence about why you should attend REFRESH at FRESH here is why.

I saw this ver y same dress in another Georgetown Boutique at an Outrageous price in the three digit price range.
This very dress along with a plethora of other fashions is at FRESH for almost 65% less!
In addition, FRESH always has the Hottest VIP Specials!
Come in today July 26th and Spend $25 or more and receive a FREE GIFT!
Courtesy of our sponsors and TOP PICK VENDORS, Davinci Florist, DC Rental, Absolute Entertainment, Fluffy Thoughts, Windows Catering, Regal Limousine, and Many More.
Also Buy 2 Dresses, Get One Free!
Buy 2 Bracelets Get 2 Free!
I hope you and your friends can stop by to take advantage of these great deals!
See You Soon at REFRESH at FRESH!

This Sunday, July 26, 2009 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Fresh Boutique of Georgetown located at 1205 Potomac Street Washington, D.C.

the search for a dress

I started my search for the dress way earlier that I needed to.

We scheduled our first mission around Filene’s Running of the Brides (I hear there is one coming up at Mazza Gallery on the 31st). My MOH lives in Minneapolis and wanted to fly in. So I piled the appointments in to one day - Hitched in Georgetown, Priscilla of Boston in Tysons, and Filene’s in Rockville. We totally wussed out and decided to skip the morning chaos at Filene's and head over in the afternoon after the rush died down a little bit. I’m still not sure if I missed out…

A couple nights before the appointments, I found a Nicole Miller wedding dress sale at Rue La La for $350. I figured it was worth trying for that amount of money, so I bought it and started my dress search with a dress already in hand.

Our first appointment was at Hitched in Georgetown, which I had heard awesome things about. Crystal and I were totally prepared for champagne, pampering, and that “ooh, I’m a bride’ feeling”. I sat down with the consultant and we went over what I was looking for. I showed her the pictures I had pulled from various magazines and online sources – thinking I had a clear vision of what I was looking for. She told me that I had no clue what I wanted and would just start pulling dresses - I was game. She never asked my budget so I threw it in the conversation to make sure I didn’t fall in love with a dress I totally could not afford. We started pulling dresses but I didn’t really fall in love with anything off the rack. The first dress I tried on – I mean…the first wedding dress ever – I was looking for that excited feeling…but I didn’t even have time to breathe before the consultant launched in to some extreme sales pitch all while looking at herself in the mirror. Her self-admiration did not stop in the dressing room, she literally stared at herself for the rest of the appointment…while I was up on the pedestal, while I was taking off dresses…it was constant and totally distracting. It ended up just being a totally weird experience that Crystal and I laughed about the whole ride over to Rockville.

Filene’s was next…We got to Filene’s before noon and there were still tons and tons of dresses. It was actually kind of nice since there weren’t too many people there, we could really study the dresses on the racks and take our time. We found one dress that fit almost perfectly and was very pretty but there were a couple stains on the dress and some simple mending issues…I just couldn’t get over the mental hump of paying that much for a dress that wasn’t perfect. Call me crazy, but I couldn’t do it.

Priscilla of Boston – ahhhhhhhhh – I love their dresses. I mean, I loved every one I tried on. I had pulled a Priscilla of Boston dress (4306) from a magazine that I had been (and still am) dreaming about – but I had to give some other options a chance. The consultant was phenomenal. She was fun, she was honest, and she really listened (I don’t think she looked at herself in the mirror once). If she pulled a dress that she thought I would like – she explained why she thought I would like it even if I had said I wouldn’t. It was also her last day at the shop so she was throwing in an awesome discount. I ended up torn between the Dora dress (so fabulous) and my dream dress (4306).

The Dora dress was super flattering and figure friendly

and the 4306 dress made me feel like a garden fairy (weird I know, but I liked it).

{both photos from priscilla of boston}

We were all torn – even the seamstress who came in to measure me. They were both slightly over my budget even with the great discount – and the 4306 dress wasn’t as figure conscious but it was still perfect…

I walked away.

The Nicole Miller dress came in the mail a week later. It was beautiful…but it wasn’t my wedding dress. It would have been nice if it had worked out considering the price tag. I ended up selling it on Once Wed.

I tried on my Mom’s wedding dress for kicks. It fit, it was fun, it was wonderful, and it was my Mom’s - perfect. As I was walking around in it, we noticed that the fabric has begun to come apart and split. I figured no one would notice but my Mom didn’t want the dress to split more while I was dancing so it was a no go.

I decided to put the dress search on hold for a little bit.

In June, Charlie and I went down to Corolla for a little beach getaway. There is an awesome store called Barr-ee Station that sells the cutest clothes including JCrew clothes at awesome prices. Word is, the owner of the store used to work at JCrew for a number of years and has worked out a deal with the company that allows her to carry JCrew current stock at lower prices.

I had been looking at one of the JCrew wedding dresses in the catalog and since Barr-ee Station carried some wedding dresses, I wanted to try one on to see if I should order a size 2 or 4. I just grabbed the first dress off the rack and ended up loving it. It was fun, sweet, light, and it fit our venue and the feel of our wedding. So for under $400...I found my dress!

I still get a little sad about not having the Priscilla of Boston 4306 dress, but then I think about the money we have left in our budget for other fun things and I get excited again!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tape the Date!

I wish I could get married every single day of the year just so I could do all sorts of adorable and fabulous wedding things.

This was posted on The Offbeat Bride, one of my favorite wedding blogs. It's defnitely a great idea for those of you who are still thinking about ideas for Save the Dates and super budget friendly!

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Speaking of J Crew....

Great. So, now that there is going to be a J Crew in D.C I'm going to have to go. And I don't want to go. But I'm going to have to. I'm not a big fan of their "normal" clothing, but oh.....my....gosh. How insanely gorgeous are their bridesmaids dresses?

I looooooooooooooooooove this dress. Love. It doesn't come in my wedding colors. And it's $275. But I love it. Especially the little bow or whatever it is coming off the shoulder. *swoon*

This pretty aqua-y one is much better at $195 and it seems to come in my colors. They call this color "fresh mint". Does it look like aqua to you? I think it could work. And I could totally see my bridesmaids wearing this again to a party or on a date. Of course, just my luck, all of the "sale" dresses are in the color yellow. And I am no longer using yellow (one of my color scheme ideas was yellow, white, and black). *le sigh* But I still adore this dress. I think we might just have to plan a DC NearlyWeds day trip to J Crew :-P

The Ring

I happen to think that my fiance did a fabulous job with my ring.

He designed it himself and the boy did good. Last weekend we went to pick out our wedding bands. I was super excited to get in there and explore my options.

We decided on a band with five diamonds that are the same size as the side stones in my engagement ring.

We got my engagement ring and both of our wedding bands at John Greenan and Sons in Burtonsville, Maryland. We've been in several times for resizing, jewlery cleaning and more recently, to pick out our wedding bands and they have been fabulous. I cannot say enough positive things about this business. I think we'll be buying all of our jewlery there for life.

Friday, July 24, 2009

JCrew Weddings in Georgetown?

Got this in my email yesterday and couldn't help but squee a little bit. I know, I know, I already have my wedding dress but it'll be pretty awesome to be able to try on my bridesmaids dress for a friend's wedding next spring.

Apparently, the JCrew store on M Street in Georgetown is carrying select styles from the weddings and parties collection - awesome.

Are you going to check out the wedding planner at JCrew???

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Pretty things

Just a quick note to show you something pretty! I was standing in line for coffee at Au Bon Pain this morning and noticed these pretty little bottles of iced tea!

I love the shape of the labels and the flourish in their logo! These would be so cute for a shower or set out at a picnic reception. I jumped on the Harney and Sons website for a picture and noticed that their tea tins are also adorable! Perfect for an out of town guest basket.

I love the idea of pretty, vintage iced tea bottles and tins as part of a summer wedding.

All photos from www.harney.com.


I know it's a bit early to worry too much about them, but I keep going back to my program design ideas. I've considered just not doing programs, some people don't, I think we could not do them and people would survive. Also I'm pretty sure most of the time they get left behind or thrown away, I'd keep one for posterity but keep it in a box somewhere and not look at it much. STILL I feel drawn to the project, I'm at least going to keep fiddling with them, and when it comes down to it - we'll just see. Here are some things that are inspiring me.
Photo via MintDesignBlog

Photo by Union Photo via Once Wed
I've played around in InDesign a little here and there, can't quite settle on a concept just yet. I love the typewriter look, but also the more traditional. I love the idea of having programs that are not all the same, but go together. and then I also love the look of that yellow program, with the big blocky date on the front and the handwritten first page.. I ended up getting into linoleum block printing because I wanted to try to do something similar - man it's time consuming! A lot of fun though. I'll post some of my practice ones when I've put together a few samples.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

The word is out! We sent our save the dates!

Much, much earlier than they are supposed to be...

The plan was intricate to say the least. It was a staggered process. We have approximately 80% of our guests coming from out of town. 80% of that 80% are coming from Virginia (all over Virginia) and are my family. The plan was to send out their save the dates in October, since they have less out of town plans to make than Mr. Glen Echo's family, who are all basically coming from Atlanta. The first round was supposed to go out August 1.

But, we have been engaged for 10 months now...

We will be engaged for a total of 18 months...

I wanted to send our save the dates...

So, they went out and I am happy. We have 8 months left and I could not wait any longer (have I ever mentioned I am totally impatient). I now have no idea why we were waiting to send them out (I think it was one of Mr. Glen Echo's ideas).

So, here they are, my cute little save the dates. I made four different versions, using different pictures of us as kids that sort of matched in age.

(Disclaimer...I am NOT a photographer and I have not mastered the craft of taking "blog" friendly pictures of my crafts...I promise the next time I post an image of something that I have made, I will set it up and make it look nice...no coupons in the background next time...)

My mother hates this version...she says my legs look too long. I love this picture of me and Santa...she is crazy!

I totally over thought the idea for the magnets. I felt that the actual card with the wedding info was too big to "force" people to put on their refrigerators, so I did not make them magnets. I really wanted to send magnetic save the dates though... So, I got adhesive magnets and made an insert. I figured people could put them up or not...but at least they had the option.

I used different sheets of scrapbook paper (mainly because I could not pick just one) and cut them in half. I then folded the sheet long ways to create sort of an inner envelope for the save the date card. I stuck the save the date card inside and then closed it with a round adhesive sticker. I then put them in velum envelopes with a colorful address label. We ordered a custom stamp with our names and addresses from Sweet Paperie via etsy.

Mr. Glen Echo was much better at stamping the envelopes than I was. This is his handy work. My man is so crafty!

Mr. Glen Echo showing those magnets who's the boss!

We love Save the Dates!

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This is a church, this is a steeple...

Leading up to the 1-year announcement, Mr. GWU and I met with special events coordinators and visited 6 possible options: Fairmont, Westin Grand, Hotel Monaco, Park Hyatt, Top of the Town, and The Madison. After weeks of visiting venues, we were elated to decide on The Hotel Monaco. While all of the sites were great in their own way, Mr. GWU and I couldn't deny the unique qualities and utter GORGEOUSNESS of the DC Hotel Monaco. Man oh man. Once the National Post Office and Tariffs Administration, the now Hotel Monaco boasts the architectural design of Robert Mills, a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson. Marble staircases, marble walls, Corinthian columns, skylights - its pretty breathtaking. Kimpton Hotels leases the building from Congress to make it a higher end hotel. Since Kimpton's corporate culture is socially responsible, eclectic and fun - the modernity juxtaposes nicely with the old. Man, they are not afraid to play with color. I think the venue will make for some really great photos and captured moments. Does anyone have suggestions for photographers that could really make the space and us pop? Anyway, we're also pleased with the F&B package. It just happened to turn out this way but Hotel Monaco offers a 15% discount off the F&B minimum for certain dates in the non-high season. And one of those dates is July 17, 2010. That works wonderfully for us and will save us a couple $K.

Last post, I shared with you the informal this-is-not-the-save-the-date but please DO save the date! :) In the message to our friends and family, we confirmed the venue reception but had not yet decided on the church for our ceremony. Well, this week we met with All Souls Church located on 15th and Harvard St, NW...and we LOVED it. LOVED it. The sanctuary seats 1,000 easily and boasts arched ceilings and columns but still feels intimate at the same time. The aisle is nice and wide and the pews are beautiful. Not your standard pews. Just that nice touch to make it stand out. They recently went through a large renovation and are installing a modern sound system this season. The organ view from the altar is beautiful as well. I'll try and post a picture when I upload my pics. We had also visited Universalist National Memorial Church (where Miss 16th St is tying the knot) and really liked that too. I think at the end of the day, we loved the light that poured through the windows and the image of us, our family, and the sanctuary coming together for our ceremony. So...All Souls Church it is! Here is a picture of the sanctuary:

Well, unfortunately this will be last post for the next 3 weeks. I am leaving on a missions trip to Uganda to work with Watoto. The first week, I'll be there with a team from my church, National Community Church, and we'll be building a school building for the Children's Village. When they leave, I'll stay for the next two weeks where I'll be a baby care giver for Baby Watoto, who provide holistic care for 0-2 year old babies. I'm so excited. And it eases my mind knowing that Mr. GWU and I got 3 big items checked off the list: date, ceremony venue, reception venue. So I think we're good. I'll have limited access to email but look forward to reading more posts and wedding plans!

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I've been a bad blogger


I'm so sorry I've been MIA for the past week or so! My little man broke my computer (lovely) so I haven't been able to blog. Not that I have much to blog about, really. Still on the hunt for a job, so I still don't have a reception site booked yet. It's making me extremely anxious, and I'm afraid that by the time my future is secured, all of the sites we love will be booked up. *sigh* While I don't have the moolah to put down on a deposit for the reception, what I do have, however, is centerpieces!!

:cheers: :screams: :yay:

Thrift store hunting is one of my favorite pastimes, and that's where I've been finding all of my milk glass vases for my DIY centerpieces. Oh how I love me some milk glass...
from theblogandchain.com
I would love to find some large, beautiful milk glass vases like in the pictures, but thus far all I have are bud vases. Very cute bud vases, but bud vases. If I can't find any larger vases for a good price I may just end up clustering 3-4 bud vases at one table. The good thing about these tiny vases is that I've been able to find them all for less than $2 a pop, most of them being 75cents are so! Score! Perfect for a budget wedding :) Clustered inside these beautiful vases will be some sort of red flower (but not roses). Now all I need is a reception site and some tables to place these beautiful centerpieces on..... :)

Mid-Summer Sample Sale at Carine's Bridal Atelier

It's that time of year...
Mid-Summer Sample Sale at Carine's Bridal Atelier

Thursday, July 23rd at 6pm-9pm

Now offering a FREE VEIL with purchase this day only!

Save on over 100 sample bridal gowns by top designers including....

Junko Yoshioka

Angel Sanchez

Rosa Clara

Reem Acra
Melissa Sweet
Platinum Collection

Buy your gown NOW for your 2010 wedding and save up to 70% off retail prices. Sample sale gowns include Spring and Fall 2009 collections!! Help us make room for new designer gowns!

Please RSVP to info@carinesbridal.com
Carine's Bridal Atelier
1726 Wisconsin Ave NW 2nd Flr(Between R and S Streets in Georgetown)
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 965-4696


Bridal Funk...

I’ve been so upset regarding the invitation situation that it’s turned me off all aspects of wedding planning lately. We started with the process MONTHS ago – by going to local stores. I went in swearing that invitations were NOT going to be something I was overly focused on, I knew the insane amount of money that could go into them. I then proceeded to promptly fall in love with two of the most expensive elements of wedding invitations – pockets and letterpress. In the end, I’ve chosen to sacrifice letterpress (doesn’t really fit my event formality wise) for pockets! I love pockets of all types – my bridesmaid dresses have pockets, I was in love with those Kangaroo shoes as a kid, and I just think they are neat, and, maybe, just maybe, the pocket will be useful to our guests for storing info related to the wedding and they can use it to easily organize their directions, travel confirmations, etc.

I didn’t fall in love with any pocket invitations at the stores. So I turned to Etsy. Really I was looking for someone with creativity and time to work with me on designing and doing some of the prep work for putting these bad boys together (read: cutting paper) after my DIY save the dates that ate up a significant portion of my life for a month. I'm picky, I had a lot of ideas, and I didn't want to spend the money on having EVERYTHING done soup to nuts for me. I found a seller who was looking to built her “invitation consulting” business and we agreed on a GREAT PRICE ($150.00 plus paper) for the work of designing, printing, and doing all the cutting and paper ordering/coordinating. During the design process we spent a LOT of time on the phone, and maybe I began to realize that my designer wasn’t totally up to speed or as experienced as I wanted. Really, this was fine as well – I took on the bulk of the designing, font selection, layout, etc. (though her husband did design an awesome logo and monogram that I love). We went back and forth with PDF proofs and I thought we were finished. She was going on vacation for 2 weeks, and sent them to me the day before her vacation. I received them and was very disappointed. The color for one of the enclosure headings didn’t match the others, the alignment of the text was off, and the margins were IMPOSSIBLY small, to the edge of the paper – the product just looked sloppy. I hemmed and hawed about what to do – and decided that this was one of those things that would haunt me forever, so I contacted her and explained my issues, and we are going to work to get them fixed and my invitations will go out a bit late (maybe 6 – 7 weeks prior to the wedding).

Lesson Learned: ALWAYS see a physical proof of YOUR final product. If something is wrong, fix it, and get ANOTHER physical proof if you have any reservations.

The whole thing puts a huge knot in my stomach and makes me really upset to think about, because at this point I COULD have just done them myself, I feel like they are never going to look how I want them to, and I’m sort of in the “Eeyore” state of mind lately. Meanwhile – awesome things are happening: my bridesmaids threw me an amazing surprise shower at Gray Ghost winery this weekend, lost 5 pounds through lots of cardio, picked out wedding bands that we both love, engagement pictures turned out phenomenally, and our pre-marital counseling is really teaching us a lot about communication/conflict resolution, yet this invitation thing is the cloud that always hangs over my head…

Has anything put you in a bridal funk? How did you move past it?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Angie and Estee

I picked up my dress from Angie today and it is amazing and I love it! I know some people have asked for their contact information. I have worked with Angie since January and she is fantastic. I have heard the same goes for Estee.

Here is the article that was posted a few months back here on DCNearlyweds and on the Washington Express paper. It has their contact information for you ladies who are looking for two great seamstresses for your alterations. They do wonders with bridesmaids dresses as well and may be a good alternative to having them done at the bridal salon (and cheaper too!)

Update: Filene's is having their annual "Running of the Brides" this FRIDAY, JULY 31st! This is where I bought my dress, which only needed to be hemmed because it a) was the perfect size b) was the perfect dress, but since I got it for a fraction of what I would have paid for at a salon, I wanted to get creative, hence the new neckline and pockets:-) I went with friends and my sister at 3 a.m., complete with matching team tshirts I made the day before and we had a blast. I also know people who went after the rush around lunchtime and still found a ton of dresses at the most insanely discounted prices. Hope you make it and let us know if you find the dress!!!

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The B-Maids

Picking out the bridesmaids dresses was a difficult task. I changed my color scheme at least fifty million times and of course I changed the dress at least once an hour over that first month.

My bridesmaids and I may have sifted through every bridesmaids dress known to man, but we found the perfect one (of course a picture of the perfect one cannot be copied from the manufacturers website-- as soon as I get a real picture, I'll be sure to post it).

The best part of bridesmaid dress shopping, was buying the dresses from House of Brides. At our local bridal boutique, the girls dresses were going to be 240 bucks. House of Brides sold us all seven dresses for only $129.00 each. I know that all of my girls were super happy that I was able to score them a pretty sweet deal.

The upside: affordable dresses, a HUGE selection, and free shipping.

The downside, you can't try the dresses on and they are non-refundable.

Has anyone else used House of Brides or another online bridesmaid dress retailer?

Why Should You Hire A Wedding Planner?!

This excellent article by Evan at MyDeeJay.com about, "Why Should You Hire A Wedding Planner." This is the perfect piece for any skeptical bride that is on the fence of hiring a planner and thinking she CAN and WILL do EVERYTHING herself. This piece highlights many valid points about hiring a wedding planner.

The best part about this article is that our Beloved Planner of Holy Matrimony, Candice Owens, is featured in this article along with other top wedding planners.

Yayay Candice!!!!!

Check out this article and forward it to any bride who considering proceeding on with her wedding without a planner.

I hope that the article is a help.

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Showers of Happiness....

I forgot to share some pictures from my bridal shower a week and a half ago in Connecticut... here are some with a bit of family (and life drama) to boot following the photo goodness...

My cake. From a fabulous bakery in NY brought up to CT by Fiance's godmother. FYI, it was as tasty as it looks.

Unopened gifts. I definitely got showered with love!! Our car was JAM PACKED on the drive back to DC.

Two my college besties/bridesmaids and I enjoying the margs. My shower had a theme of Puerto Rico...also known as our honeymoon locale. A pretty awesome theme if I do say so myself!

Me opening one of many gifts - this gift was all for fiance. I don't even like waffles but he INSISTED on registering for a waffle maker. That's okay. One of my bridesmaids got me a shoe wheel off our registry.

It is most certainly a shoe wheel. It fits perfectly in my closet.

My bridal party (including the ring bearer!) minus my bridesmaid E who couldn't make it to CT for the event. S'k, she's apparently got her own tricks up her sleeve for the DC guests. Don't mind my droopy straps on my tank top...I was a little tipsy. Those silly margaritas!

Now here's my question...so my FMIL hosted my shower - well, the bridesmaids hosted it but she helped. No one from my side of the family was invited. Someone told me "all the women invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower..." Is this true?

If so, then I can understand why my step mother (who my mother doesn't really...like) was upset to not be invited but quite frankly, most of my family aren't trekking down here for the wedding so I felt it was unnecessary to extend invitations. Not to mention, my step mom hasn't really been upset about not really being included in the planning till now. Then on Wednesday last week, when I called my father to tell him about the unfortunate event - fiance losing his job - after saying he was sorry he told me that I should send my step mother a note. Apologize for not including her...even though I didn't put together the invitation list. Or any other part of the shower.

Seriously? Aside from my mother, and bridesmaids it was ALL fiance's side of the guest list. No one from my side, sans a couple gal pals in Boston, were invited. Why was he making a stink NOW???

I won't get into my personal feelings about her here but I do run hot/cold toward my step mother, and right now? I can tell you I am icy. As in, unimpressed by these shenanigans.

Who was invited to your bridal shower? Did you invite all the guests invited to the wedding? Did you have a theme? Favorite gift???

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fun new resource

I just wanted to share this new site I came across recently, Utterly Engaged.. It's no Once Wed but they have what looks like a fun e-zine, some DIY tips, some Real Wedding porn.. I just found it so I have looked around too much but it's kinda fun. I think it has potential.

After reading East Side Bride's latest post "your wedding is not a photo shoot," I feel a little better about our as-yet-undecided photography plans. whatever those end up being. Whatever we decide to do, the wedding is a Wedding and as long as we have a good time and we have some photos that capture our joy at the end of it.. We're going to be happy. having said that--! I'm going to continue to swoon over all the Real Weddings out there that are so dazzling and magical..

Also if I could have a photo like this from our wedding.. that would make it all worth it. LOL

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Calligraphy Update

Well, I went ahead and ordered the Calligraphy for Dummies book from my local library.

Thankfully we ordered 50 extra envelopes because I just didn't love the look of my take on calligraphy.

Instead, I'm enjoying my own personal handwriting with a few extra swirls and loops. I know it makes me sound like the anti-bride (which I'm so not), but I can't help but smile about the fact that we're saving some money by doing it ourselves.

I'm kind of shocked about how much we're expected to spend on one single day. Things may not be as fancy as they could be, but I'm trying to focus on what's really important, everyday after our wedding when it's just us, together forever.

Vintage Bohemian Chic...Part II

I know it has been a while since you guys really heard from me. I just finished my take home exam for my summer family law class and I am ready to enjoy the rest of my summer (YAY!).

So...where did I leave off...? I showed you all my color scheme and dress. I felt initially that my dress had no real vintage appeal, but you lovely ladies pointed out to me that I might be a bit incorrect in my initial thinking.

I guess, what I had originally planned for my wedding, in my mind, was much more time period specific. You see, Glen Echo is fabulously designed in a very classic art deco style. What I originally envisioned was a wedding that looked a little like this or this, with an inspiration board such as this, this or this but incorporating my color scheme.

The dress, however, was not in the style that I was going for. I actually flipped out after I purchased the gown and bought a second one that does go with the art deco, 1920's type feel I originally thought about...but more on that saga later...When I found the dress, however, I felt I needed to focus or channel my style efforts towards something a bit more consistent with the vibe I was getting from her (I like to use pronouns when referring to items with a distinct character).

On a related side note...there is only one store that I am totally obsessed with (and wish I could afford more often) and that is Anthropologie. I absolutely love the clothes, the housewares, decor, jewelry, everything...but more importantly...I love the feel and the vibe of the retail chain itself. There is this smart, down home, earthy, feminine...but with a touch of ruggedness...vintage, bohemian, chic vibe to Anthropologie that I adore. I realized that is exactly what I should be going for!

I have to admit that this is not anything new...it is not like I stumbled across some totally unique and crazy idea. Plenty of women have used Anthropologie as inspiration...especially more recently (I mean, back yard, home spun weddings are all the rage now). So, I will definitely be following a trend...but I don't mind. I would rather my wedding reflect all the things that I love than worry about who else is doing the same thing.

Here are a few inspiration boards that I found, all via Snippet & Ink, that I absolutely love and give the vibe that I am hoping to achieve (the first one is my FAV!)Here are some links to some of my favorite and most inspired weddings...If my day looks anything like this, I am golden!

Where have you guys found your inspiration? Anyone else using their favorite "something" as a spring board for creativity?

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Sale Alert!

When I first started looking at wedding dresses online, I fell completely head-over-heels for Rosa Clara, a Spanish designer with lots of beautiful, romantic styles. In particular, I was drooling over this dress, called Languido:

{original photo source: www.rosaclara.es, 09 Collection, jpg via: http://www.duosheng.cn/shangweb/xihun/Languido.html}

So of course I was thrilled to discover that one local bridal salon carries Rosa Clara! A few friends and I headed out to Carine's Bridal in Georgetown. It turns out the Rosa Clara dresses are not for me. What looks lovely on the tall, slender model doesn't quite work on short, curvy me. Ah, well, that's why we go try on dresses!

What I did learn from the experience is that I really like Carine's! It's a very nice store with a good selection and the staff were absolutely sweet. I've been to a few bridal shops around the area and really found this one to be the most comfortable and fun. I ended up going with a preowned dress, which I'll write more about soon, but I would definitely recommend Carine's to anyone who has the budget for it.

Today, I opened up my email to see an advertisement for the Carine's Sample Sale! This Thursday, July 23 from 6 to 9. If you're still in the dress market, I highly suggest you check it out. You should call the store to RSVP - I'm sure it will be busy!

Happy bargain shopping!

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Monday, July 20, 2009



Have you been searching for that Perfect Dress to wear to your Bridal Shower?

Have your Bridesmaids constantly been on the search for the Ideal Outfit to wear to ALL your Festive Bridal Soirees?

Are you afraid of looking like the average Betty Bride in your Engagement Photos?

Well, Have NO Fear DC NEARLY WEDS Are Here!

Join DC NEARLY WEDS this Sunday, July 26, 2009 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Fresh Boutique of Georgetown located at 1205 Potomac Street Washington, D.C. to:


A day of SHOPPING! Mixing and Mingling at FRESH, Georgetown’s Ultra-Chic Boutique, that has a plethora of the Latest Fashions for ALL Occasions!

FRESH is the Perfect Boutique to find the Trendiest Attire for ALL the Festivities surrounding your Nuptials.

In addition to being Trendy and Chic, Fresh ALWAYS has the Best Sales!

This Sunday:

Buy Two Dresses, Get One FREE!!!


With ANY purchase say, “I love to REFRESH at FRESH” while Checking Out to receive a FREE GIFT. (While supplies last.)

Courtesy of Mrs. Nearly Wed, Miss Not Yet Wed and DC NEARLY WEDS.

See You Sunday!

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