Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finding the Perfect One

I have to be honest. Our ring budget is small. Veeeerrrry small. Like $400 for both of us. Luckily, Mr. CB was feeling generous one day and told me I could have $300 and he'd take $100. Well, to be honest, $300 doesn't get you very much at all in the land of diamond and platinum.

I like to think I'm very resourceful. I find bargains on everything I can, and that includes my wedding band. My first thought was to find a jeweler to make the ring. Luckily, I had a friend of a friend who happened to be a very talented jeweler: Katrina Lapenne. She doesn't necessarily make wedding jewelry, but she makes some very cool stuff and I had faith in her that she could make a great wedding band.

We chatted about my budget and what I was looking for and I started sending her inspiration photos. I also sent her pics of my engagement ring so she could try to create something that matched.

The first ring I loved was Ms. Perfume's first ring. Even though Ms. Perfume didn't love it.

The next ring I found that I adored was by Anne Sportun. She designs "experimental jewelry" so if you're looking for something unconventional, check out her designs. I found the ring below on a site called Persimmon, Handpicked Objects.

Since the above ring is over $1,500, I thought I'd look for something without diamonds. Apparently, that isn't the answer either. Check out this beautiful, diamond-less $2,845 ring I found on Clay Pot.

Finally, I came across this untraditional eternity band on Sundance. It's the Stardust Diamond Ring. It's just under $1000 which means, it's still way out of my budget.

After e-mailing back and forth with Katrina, the jewelry designer I knew, we couldn't move forward. What I wanted was too specialized. It would take too much time for the price I could pay. She offered to buy me a ring off a wholesaler site (since she's a business) but I never found anything I really liked. I really wanted something unique (surprise, surprise), so I moved along.

Were the wedding bands you wanted way out of your budget? How were you resourceful in getting what you wanted?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why I Said No To Martha

I have a confession to make. Our wedding was almost featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. When I say "almost," I actually have no clue how near or far we were from gracing their glossy pages. All I know is that I decided I didn't want to move forward with the process. Let me explain.

First, yes, there is an application process for being featured as a Real Wedding in MSW. I wish I could tell you how to get the application but I can't. I simply don't know. I happened to be connected to an editor there through work (publishing is a small world) and decided to e-mail her after seeing one particular wedding featured in their magazine. It was Lily and John's wedding in Santa Barbara, California--I've sprinkled pictures of it throughout the post so you can see what sparked my interest (as if wanting to be in MSW really requires explanation).

When I saw their wedding, I craved the richness of the photography, the clean and thoughtful details, the gorgeous styling of everyone in the wedding, the bride's designer gown, and the way the magazine's pages framed it all so beautifully. Seeing it in print made me think the wedding was somehow more meaningful than a wedding without inked documentation. If mine couldn't be styled by professionals with a name like Martha Stewart behind them, I'd never be able to have the wedding I dreamed of.

So I began. I filled out the lines on the application: Bride's Name. Groom's Name. Wedding Date. Ceremony and reception site. That's all I had.

Photographer? Nope. Florist? Not that either. Caterer? Dress designer? Wedding planner? No, no, no. Then it got even more specific: color palette, unique-factor, theme or design concept.

This was early on in my planning process and I hadn't nailed down any of the above. I looked at it like this--if I could get MSW behind me, I could have the best of the best vendors in the wedding industry. I mean, how else do all of those "MSW Real Weddings" grow into such glamorous affairs? They must use the power behind The Name to nab the most avant-garde florist in town or barter with a top dress designer. I didn't want to admit that some couples simply have an unfathomable amount of money or many uber-crafty bones in their bodies or a little bit of both to create gorgeous and unique affairs. I happen to have neither loads of money nor craftiness on my side.

So, I quickly entered my dream vendors, said a prayer to the wedding gods, and sent the application in with the required photograph of me and Mr. CB and the many inspiration pictures I'd printed out.

The application said it would take three or four months to get a response once it was received. Within one week, I had an e-mail in my Inbox:

"Ms. CB, We looked over your packet yesterday and we'd love to get updates as details develop and get confirmed. You have a lot of good ideas and inspiration and we'd love to be kept in the loop as it all comes together. Best, anonymous MSW editor."

This got me all fired up. I started nailing down details just to push them out the, well, Outbox. I focused on things I thought MSW would like. I sent them our save-the-date and explained how Mr. CB drew the horse. I sent a selection of bridesmaid dresses to find out which ones they liked.

"Favors?" the editor wrote me in an e-mail. I had never planned on including these but wrote back anyway, "Absolutely! We're thinking of naming the tables types of herbs (since we're foodies) and giving each table seeds so our guests can plant their respective herbs. It's eco-friendly!"

I became obsessed, trying to send one new update each day, inching my way closer to their approval.

Finally, I asked, "How much of the wedding needs to be nailed down before you decide to cover it or not?"

I should've known the answer to this question since I work in magazines. Magazine ideas don't pass the Pearly Gates of Approval until they're completely hashed out, deeply researched, and full of quirky, interesting details. This goes for any type of story whether it be a profile of an in-the-moment person or the atmospheric story of a wedding.

Anonymous MSW editor wrote me back, "There's no concrete answer to this one." Shocker, I thought. She continued, "We'll need some details nailed down on your end before we can commit to covering. That way we don't sign up for a wedding and then find out 80% of what we loved has changed." Duh, I was practically hitting myself over the head with my keyboard at this point.

A few months went on, we exchanged e-mails and they kept liking what I had to say.

That's when I applied for Weddingbee. With a yes to my Bee application (yipppeeee!), I went back to MSW and asked if I could blog and still be considered for their magazine. I realize I didn't need to ask their permission but I was pretty sure they might reconsider covering us if all of my details were dispelled across the World Wide Web.

I was right. They told me I had the choice: keep filling them in on our details with the hopes--not the confirmation--that they'd cover us or blog for Weddingbee. I thought about it for a few days and started to realize what was happening. I was sending them details I thought they'd like as opposed to what I really wanted. I didn't even know what I wanted yet--I hadn't given my vision enough time to breath. And, I knew, even then, that writing for Weddingbee was going to be a much more meaningful experience. This turned out to be true.

Mr. CB was never a fan of being in MSW but he was willing to bend for my happiness. Making the decision to become a Bee was like letting my perfectly-coiffed self drive away in a convertible, top down, hair blowin' in the wind. I was able to let go of all expectations, pressures, and prefabricated ideas of what my wedding should look like and just Let. It. Be.

Sure, I wouldn't end up with my wedding in print. Nor would I have the best vendors...Or would I?

Now that each detail and vendor is based purely on our opinions, on what we really want our day to feel like, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's real and more us than it ever was before. I'd pick that over delusions of grandeur any day.

How did you make your wedding your own?

Friday, June 26, 2009

What Do You Get When You Cross Weddings and Music Festivals?

More than you'd think! Last weekend, I ventured to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in the Four Corners area of Colorado. I've become a big fan of bluegrass since I moved to the southwest two years ago and while I didn't recognize most of the bands playing, I thoroughly enjoyed them all and even picked up a couple new favorites.

Early on in the day, a band called Greensky Bluegrass rocked the stage. You're probably thinking, "C'mon, Ms. Cowboy Boot. What does this have to do with Weddingbee?" Well, let me show you how one die-hard fan (and bride-to-be) went about booking her music vendor:

Photograph by my festival companion, Amanda Wilson

Along with alternative ways of booking vendors, we saw many performances of songs that were romantic, sweet, and fitting for a wedding. Check out this one by Australian husband-and-wife team Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. Before playing this cover of "When We're Gone, Long Gone," written by Austin's Kieran Kane, Kasey went on and on about how this would have been their "wedding song" had they heard it before getting married.

Chambers/Nicholson Encore from Amanda Wilson on Vimeo.

Are there any husband-and-wife musicians you adore? Did you book your vendors in an alternative way like the festival-goer above did?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Designing the Invites (Part IV)

As I mentioned before, the Cowboy Boot invitations will have five parts: the invitation card, the RSVP card and envelope, a map, a rehearsal dinner invitation (in some of them), and a hang tag to tie the whole thing together. We plan on using one of the various illustrations you've seen on each piece.

Next up, the hang tags--you know, the little tag that the raffia is tied through to bring it all together. Since we're using the birds on the invitation and the barn on the RSVP, the hang tag seems like the perfect place to feature Mr. CB's horse sketch (the one that adorned our save-the-dates). Give me your vote:

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5 (This is a circle, by the way)

Vote below!
Option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4
Option 5

Or, tell me which shape you like best? And which design is your favorite? Or how you would do it differently?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Please Excuse Me For One Minute

I know, I know. This was supposed to be Part IV of my invitation series but I needed a breather from all of that design-speak. In lieu of all things paper, I'm going to talk about something completely different: flower girl accessories.

One of the things I want to gift my flower girls with is a cute hair accessories to go with their eyelet dresses. Where did I turn first? Where else but J. Crew's crewcuts accessory section. The bridesmaids are wearing dresses from there--or at least dresses that match their colors--so I figured I could get cute, chiffon-y headbands or hair clips that match.

I thought it might be cute if they all wore different ones, especially since they all have different hair. My cousin has Annie-like red curls while the other two have soft, blond waves.

These are the ones I ordered:

The hairbands came in the mail today and when I hold them up to J. Crew's Light Shell and Silk Chiffon fabric swatches the colors are slightly off and the headbands aren't as cute as I pictured. They're too pinky or exploding in a floral way. And, I imagined the poor girls rubbing the spot behind their ears where the headbands start to push in after too long.

Where did I turn next? You know it. Etsy.

I figured one of the many talented hair accessory artists there could make a smaller version for my three 'lil punkins. (Yes, I absolutely adore all three of them).

On Etsy, what usually takes me three or four days of research, ends up taking more like three or four clicks to find exactly what I'm looking for. Which is what happened when I found Quirky Beauty.

She's going to make me three custom pieces for $15 each based on the design, below. You'll just have to wait and see what she sends me because it will actually look a bit different than this, but will use the same organza flowers.

Looking at her designs had me dreaming about headbands again--but not for the girls, for myself.

Bring on the eye candy from the Quirky Beauty shop!

What accessories did your flower girls wear, if any? Where did you get them?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Designing the Invites (Part III)

You're not going to believe this but we ended up choosing invitation two. I loved the first invitation featuring Mr. CB's barn, but he begged to differ. He likes things centered and clean. Plus, he liked the birds. We tried several other variations on the invitation featuring Mr. CB's horse, but he really liked the birds.

When Mr. CB has input on something, I try my very best to listen and accommodate. Most everything in the wedding has been my decision (not because I'm selfish but because Mr. CB doesn't care about ranunculus and flower girl dresses) so when he does care about something, I want to make it happen.

From the version you saw, we played with fonts and here's what we finally came up with. We changed the color of our names and made the final line, "BBQ, Beer, and Bluegrass To Follow" bolder and matching the stencil-y font of the "and" that sits between our names. I think the bolder font brings out the bird's wings.

But don't fear. The barn lives on. We decided it would make quite the RSVP card. Check out the evolution below.

It started out vertical but I immediately said it should be panoramic. It seems like the intuitive layout--to lay it horizontally.

Next up, Sarah made the "RSVP" more readable with this adorable font and added the word "Name(s)" before the long line so people could tell us who is RSVPing. We decided to add a little "Leave Us A Note" towards the bottom of the card. I've heard from so many Bees that it's sad when you receive a "no" with no reason. I don't expect people to tell us why they can't come but it would be nice to hear from them either way.

Since our rehearsal dinner invitations are going to be included in our invitation suite, we needed to add a line to several RSVP cards to find out if people can make it to this event too. See the two options below and tell me where you like the Rehearsal Dinner RSVP line.

Should it be below "Number Attending" or next to "Number Attending"?

Next up: Our hang tags and address fonts.

Did you send out a separate RSVP note for your rehearsal dinner or did you include it on your wedding RSVP?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Designing the Invites (Part II)

After Sarah Parrott sent over multiple images for me to sort through and decide which we'd play with on our invitation suite, she started designing our first set of proofs. Not only did I want Mr. CB's barn to play a part, but I was also intent on bringing back the horse from our save-the-dates. On top of those two homegrown images, the peony (Image 1) and the barn swallow (Image 4) were my faves.

The first round of proofs, which arrived in my inbox in PDF format, looked like this. Use your imagination to envision them on 5" x 7" A7 Crane Lettra Letterpress paper with Gocco'd ink.

Invitation 1

Invitation 2

Invitation 3

Invitation 4

When I brought them home to Mr. CB, we had differing opinions. We both loved them but we actually were drawn to different ones.

We sat down and went through them pointing out the things we liked and the things we'd tweak in each one. I got our feedback to Sarah (which I'll share with you in the next post) who then set on the second round of proofs. The talented girl that she is, she didn't have to do too much to make us happy.

Before I move along to the ones we picked, which are your favorite? What tweaks would you do to the one(s) you like?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Designing the Invites (Part I)

We loved our save-the-dates so much, that we decided to hire Sarah Parrott to design our invitation suite as well. After stumbling across her blog, A Homegrown Wedding, I feel like she gets our vision even more now. We have very similar taste. Now, onto the invitations...

They will have about five parts to them. Five! I know, that's a lot. 1) An Invitation Card, 2) A Map, 3) An RSVP Card + Envelope, 4) A Hang Tag attached to raffia, and 5) some will have a Rehearsal Dinner invitation.

In designing these, I really want them to seem connected to our save-the-dates and feel similar to our inspiration stationary. One of the ways we're doing this is to include another drawing from my very talented husband-to-be, Mr. Cowboy Boot. If ya'll remember, he drew the horse that adorned our STD postcard. This time, the drawing is of a barn since that's what our reception will be. 

Mr. CB's barn drawing

And, while I tried to get Mr. CB to pen some barn swallows and more horses, illustrating wedding invitations doesn't make him very excited. Thus, I turned to Ms. Parrott to find some coordinating images to use throughout our suite. Here's what she came up with:

Image 1:

Image 2:

Image 3:
Image 4:
Image 5:
Image 6:
Image 7:

Which are your favorite? Which do you think go best with Mr. CB's barn?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fork in the Road

I have to admit, I'm not a wedding veteran. I've only been to a few and the last one was over five years ago. But, if was going to a destination wedding as a guest, I'm guessing I would like it if the bride and groom gave me some recommendations on activities to do in the area. Our wedding, although not in Mexico or the Caribbean, happens to be a destination wedding for about 95% of our guests (including ourselves). And, while we don't know the area extremely well, there are a few things we can recommend. 

My favorite thing that we're hoping our guests will do? Take a couple of extra hours and drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. From the airport, our venue happens to be in the middle of a big loop. Guests can either drive to and from the airport on the same two-hour windy mountain pass (also beautiful) or they can drive the two-hour road in and take the three-and-a-half hour long way out (or vice versa) through the park. Here's what the most direct, two-hour route looks like on a map: 

Here's what that drive (through Berthoud Pass) looks like in person:


Should our guests opt to take the scenic route, their map would look like this (notice how it connects the loop on the upper side of the map):

And here's why we're positive it's worth the extra hour-and-a-half on the drive to or from the airport:

Rocky Mountain National Park ranges from 8,000 feet to 14,259 feet at the top of Longs Peak. The 48-mile Trail Ridge Road passes along lunar landscape above the tree line before descending into alpine meadows and sheer cliffs. Trails, view points, and elk abound here.  

About 30 miles before reaching Devil's Thumb Ranch coming out of Rocky Mountain National Park lies the town of Grand Lake which is well-worth a gander. It's full of restaurants, shops, galleries, and best of all, the brewery that is providing one of our local kegs, Wooly Booger. 

We're hoping at least a few of our guests will be enticed enough to explore. 

What activities are you offering your out-of-town guests?