Monday, September 28, 2009

Last Minute Decision

With less than six days until our shindig and nothing to accent my lovely lobes, I stumbled upon an image while on my photographer's blog.

Image by Tec Petaja

Not only is she stunning, but so are her earrings. Suddenly, I'd seen a pair of earrings that I thought might actually work.

This is going to sound silly but earrings have actually been one of the hardest part of planning this wedding (well, beside the emotional ups and downs and maybe writing my own vows).

Just a little earlier in the day, Miss Frozen Yogurt had posted about Roberta Chiarella jewelry. I'd never heard of it. I took a gander and ended up ordering these lovely beauts in gold:


But as soon as I saw that bride above, I knew I had to have her earrings. I e-mailed my photographer to see if he'd put me in touch with her. Sure enough: bride meets bride and earrings are ordered.


At this point, I'll have a handful of earring to try on with my dress. Oh, right. My dress. I'll get that on Thursday once I'm up in Colorado with my wedding on, um, Sunday. Yep. Let's just hope all of my alterations came out the way they should.

Did you make any last-minute splurges from indecision? Which earrings, above, do you like better?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Bridesmaids' Dresses That Were.

A while back, I gave my five bridesmaids the choice to buy any dress* they wanted. (*Stipulations included 1. picking from J. Crew's silk chiffon options in Light Shell or Deep Rose; 2. Choosing a custom Sarah Seven dress in a coordinating color; or 3. Finding a different dress altogether but getting my OK before buying it).

Two of the girls opted for J. Crew's Juliette dress in Deep Rose, below.


The other three decided to try out the custom route and order dresses from Sarah Seven. Luckily, Sarah is very generous and will give you discounts if you buy more than one dress. Her prices became fairly reasonable (~$200) and the girls placed their orders: 2 flock dresses (1 in peachy-pink and 1 in dusty rose) and 1 tulip dress (in peachy-pink). Measurements were made, payments were sent, and the wait began.

Sarah's dresses understandably take quite a bit of time to make. And with a very recent boom in her business, it didn't come as a surprise when it took, well, longer than expected (about two weeks longer, putting us about two weeks from the wedding. Eek!).

And, unlike Ms. Mouse who had a very good result arrive at her doorstep, my girls were, um, not as happy. The peachy-pink color came out very close to J. Crew's Light Shell, but the fit wasn't quite working. Bridesmaid Georgia models hers below--you can see how the fabric hung lower than the corset, showing BG's under garments.

In the next picture, you can see how the corset pushed away from her chest and sagged along the side.

Her dog, Bronco, seems to like it though! MOH A, modeling hers below (along with Jackson Puggle), liked hers a bit more ("with some alteration") but the color, which is supposed to be the same as J Crew's Deep Rose (at top) is quite a bit more coral-y.

I apologize for the tiny pic. iPhones don't make for great blogging photos.

At first, I got nervous. Sarah's site says no returns (no exceptions!) and I knew alterations would cost my girls an arm and a leg more. I immediately e-mailed Sarah and she responded quickly--readily offering a refund or even to pay for alterations(!).

I gave my bridesmaids their options and they all decided to return the Sarah Seven dresses and (quickly) order J. Crew dresses.

Which did they pick? We'll see! They get them this week. Fun surprises two weeks before the wedding.

How did your bridesmaid dress hunt go? Successfully or did it take a few tries?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where Do We Go?

This is a question we're hoping our guests won't have to ask as they're making their way to our ceremony site or our reception location. Thanks to Mr. CB, who once again pulled out his skills, we now have signs that should hopefully point guests in the right direction.

Mr. CB found some scrap wood near his studio and used acrylic paint to write the words "wedding" and draw the arrows. Because acrylic paint will drip if it gets rained on, these signs still need a coat of polyurethane paint to make them weatherproof.

Especially since the Accuweather 15-day forecast has been threatening snow. We're still so far out, I don't expect it to be right (today it says 69 and sunny for our date). So who knows?

Did you make wedding signs? Did you use them at the road for driving directions or at your venue for seating directions?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Snip, Snip, Snip

Where have I been? At home. Snipping and sorting and stamping nearly everything in site. Our DIY projects are heading towards home plate and I need to get them done in the next two weeks. Luckily, most of them are already dusting the catcher and only a few of them are still on third base. (Note: No idea where these baseball analogies came from).

Here's a sneak peek at some of what I've been working on (although the images below are just inspiration, they're not of my actual projects):

1) A Picture Wall--but instead of pictures of only us, we'll be hanging pictures of us with our guests from clothespins.


2) A Pie Bar with a collection of cake stands from various garage sales and vintage stores.

3) Napkins made from vintage fabric that I've been collecting from thrift stores. Lucky for me, I was tipped off that pinking shears would mean no sewing. Thus, my napkins have pointy edges like the ones below.

4) A DIY photo booth with a great background a la Mrs. Coconut but with cowboy costumes to go along with our ranch theme.

After seeing Mrs. Bee's fun photo booth full 'o bees, I was uber-jealous of her background (and of all the bees who got to participate) but oh-so-glad to have a link to where she bought it. I poked around the website she bought hers at, Purl Soho, and have narrowed it down to four fabrics I love. All are the same price which doesn't help me decide. They're each $9 per yard; Mrs. Bee told me she used 2.5 yards and it wasn't enough for group shots. I'll probably buy 3 to 3.5 yards.

So hive, I turn to you. Vote for your favorite Photo Booth Background Fabric below. If you have a strong opinion as to why, fill me in! Maybe I'm not realizing that big prints won't be good or a certain color will make everyone look like an Oompa Loompa.

Pretty Please

Or do I splurge and go for this one at $16 per yard.

So which is it? Vote below! Or, if you know of another fabric website with similar (or cheaper!) pricing, let me know! I'm new to this whole fabric game.

Deer Valley
Del Hi
Pretty Please
County Fair

Monday, September 14, 2009

Outfitting the Men

Finding Mr. CB's suit was not only based on taste, it was based on budget (shocker!). Keeping our purchases in check has been hard and Mr. CB's suit was no exception. Although he got something absolutely gorgeous and high-quality, it wasn't inexpensive. That said, it wasn't as expensive as it should've been. Thanks to J. Crew's frequent sales, we were able to snag Mr. CB's suit as well as his five groomsmens' suits for under $300 each.

Mr. CB is wearing the above suit in black while his men are wearing it in Heather Coal (pictured above) with black ties.

We haven't managed to figure out what color Mr. CB's tie will be but the guys' ties look fantastic.

COWBOY BOOT GROOMSMEN, STOP READING NOW! (Some of them actually do read this).

While out shopping for Mr. Cowboy Boot's shirt at the Santa Fe Outlets over Labor Day Weekend, I stumbled upon a Labor Day sale at the Brooks Brothers Factory Store. Score!

Mr CB's shirt (which he'd found weeks before) was marked down from $60 to $41! And, they had five men's ties in black silk for 30% off. The ties averaged around $30 per person which was a major deal compared to the same ties which are listed on Brooks Brothers website for $75 a piece.

These are our gifts to our guys, so I was happy to find something that I am proud to give them--especially without burning a hole in my wallet.

Had they had a sixth tie, I probably would've purchased it for Mr. CB, but they only have five in the whole store so Mr. CB will just have to settle for something else. Maybe a charcoal grey tie is in order?

What did you give your groomsmen? Did you find deals on something great?

Friday, September 11, 2009

His Ring

At first, I was wary. Was I really going to order a ring from The name itself made the website sound cheesy. But after searching around online for better prices, I never found them. I also scoured the internet for reviews of the site and all were glowing. So, I bit the bullet.

Enter: Mr. Cowboy Boot's 18k yellow gold, 5 mm, half-round wedding band. It arrived in the mail a few days ago (about a week after ordering it) and it's lovely. The best part? It was $254 and that Mr. CB loves it.

Mr. CB is a simple guy. His father has a similar ring and I think that was his inspiration. In fact, he is so connected to his father that Mr. CB has a tattoo of his father's handprint on his back, left shoulder. His dad, a potter, made a glaze of his hand so the tattoo has all of the fine lines, like tiny rivers, that weather his palm.

So, while Mr. CB is inspired by his father, I was inspired by Mrs. Lightening. If you remember, she surprised Mr. Lightening with an inscription on his ring.

As I posted before, our wedding falls on the night of the Harvest Moon. We only found this out after picking our first dance song: Harvest Moon by Neil Young.

What did I put inside Mr. CB's ring? Our wedding date and the lyrics from our song: "On this harvest moon".

I mentioned to Mr. CB that his ring was on its way in the mail and that I had gotten a surprise engraved. He was not excited. He said that he probably wouldn't like it and that it reminded him of a cheesy promise ring or friendship band.

But, then, the ring arrived. He probably thought I was going to write something cheesy like "A + I 4ever". Lucky for him, my creative side was on the upswing the day I ordered the ring.

And, as it turns out, he loves it.

Where did you get your ring? Did you test out an unexpectedly awesome website? If so, share!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Upgrades

Our "acceptance" percentage? The final tally falls into the 45% range. That means we have a total of around 65 guests attending our 'lil shindig. You'd think I'd be disappointed but, to be honest, I'm excited for the intimate experience it will now be. I've talked a little bit about our food-and-beverage minimum and that, with our lower-than-expected head count, we have to fill out our order to match the price minimum. Otherwise, we'll end up paying a lot for very little, when we could be getting more.

So what are we considering adding? Quite a bit.

1) Our BBQ menu now includes another dish:

Cole Slaw (source)

And, since we last spoke about our menu, it's also been updated with Black Bean Burgers with Chipotle Aioli instead of BBQ chicken legs and a tomato, mozzarella, basil salad as our veggie.

2) On top of the above changes, we'll be upgrading with a fairly plain "Field Green Salad," which includes pickled leeks and Vermont cheddar, to either one of these:

-Bartlett Pear Salad with Bleu Cheese, Candied Pecans, and Banyuls Vinaigrette

-Heart of Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese Cream and Tomatoes and Lardons

3) We've added a light beer to our alcohol selection: Amstel Light, so our guests will have the choice of two keg beers (wheat beer and nut brown ale) and a bottled option.

4) We're not only throwing in a signature cocktail, we're upping the regular house tequila, Cuervo Gold, to Patron Silver. Yippeeeee for margaritas!

4) Our wines have gone from their cheapest level to their second best! Our choices?

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in New Zealand

McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma, California

5) We'll now be having a champagne toast (originally going to be a toast with whatever our guests had in hand).

We'll be serving Gloria Ferrer N/V

6) Late-nite snacks. We're thinking sliders (mini-burgers) and onion rings. Since we're eating dinner at 5:30 pm, I figure we might be hungry right around 10 pm.

Of the above, what is your favorite upgrade? What is your least favorite item? We may have to cut one thing and I'd love to know what's least popular. Is the champagne toast unnecessary? Do we hang onto our original salad to save $5 per person on a more elaborate salad?

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Zealand or Bust!

The day after our wedding, we'll be loading up the car from Colorado and driving to Los Angeles with a stop in Las Vegas (mandatory, of course). Mr. CB has never been to Vegas and since it's directly on the way of our 14-hour drive we figure we should make a thing of it!

From there, we'll drive to LA (where we'll unload the dogs at my parent's house) and fly to the Land of Kiwis the same day we arrive. How we're going to fit everything in my car (two medium-size dogs, my wedding dress, our honeymoon luggage, dog beds, etc), I'm not sure. Good thing I drive a station wagon.

Once we arrive in Auckland, it's straight to the South Island for nine days of New Zealand fun. Where are we going?

But where are we really going? And what are we doing? I'm all too excited to share what we've planned so far.

Day 1: Christchurch

A night at The George including dinner at their award-winning, seafood restaurant, Pescatore.

The George (source)

Day 2: Christchurch and Kaikoura

We'll start off the day with a mountain bike in Christchurch's Port Hills

Biking the Port Hills (source)

Followed by a drive up the coast for 3 hours to Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses

Hapuku Treehouses (source)

Day 3: Blenheim and Marahau

From Kaikoura (which is known for whale-watching), we'll head two hours north to the vineyard-adorned region of Marlborough. We'll rent bikes in Blenheim--they make them with panniers big enough for four bottles!

Vineyards in Blenheim (source)

Then, we'll drive a couple more ours to Marahau on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park. There, we'll cozy up in a beachfront cabin at Ocean View Chalets.

Ocean View Chalets (source)

If there's time, we'll be doing a sunset horseback ride on the beach in Marahau.

Horseback in Marahau (source)

Day 4: Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson

We'll be able to walk to our full-day mountain bike ride through Abel Tasman National Park from our cabin

Biking in Abel Tasman (source)

After the ride, we'll head an hour back to Nelson for one night at the Wheelhouse Inn

Wheelhouse Inn (source)

Day 5: West Coast to Franz Josef

This day will be spent in the car. A seven hour drive will bring us down the less-traveled west coast--one of the top seaside drives in the world according to Fodor's. Once there, we'll get some rest at the new Te Waonui Forest Retreat.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat (source)

Day 6: Franz Josef Glacier and Queenstown

In the morning, we'll head up the glacier for a half-day glacier hike.

Hiking the Glacier (source)

Then, we'll drive about four hours to Queenstown, passing Lake Wanaka on the way.

Lake Wanaka (source)

Once to Queenstown, we'll be staying in a nearby neighborhood at the Arrowtown House

Arrowtown House Boutique Hotel (source)

Day 7: Queenstown

We won't have to drive at all on this day! Woo-hoo. And we'll be staying the same hotel for two nights! But, before we indulge in that pleasure, we'll raft the Shotover River

The Shotover River Gorge

Day 8: Queenstown and Auckland

We'll fly from Queenstown to Auckland, and spend a night in Auckland before heading back to the States. Hotel to-be-determined.

I realize our itinerary above is jam-packed, but with only nine days in New Zealand, we want to take advantage. Plus, we can always cancel activities if we get too exhausted.

Is your honeymoon going to be leisurely or adventure-filled? Do you have any tips for our trip through New Zealand?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Flower Fit for a Princess

I thought I loved Martha Stewart Wedding's Ring Bearer Pillow as much as the next girl. And the next girl. But I didn't love it as much as they did until I saw fashion designer Myriah Zatoun's version of it featured on Once Wed. Her garden wedding was gorgeous.

Myriah's ring pillow and flower girl dress

As soon as I saw this picture, I google-stalked Myriah until I found a way to contact her. You see, I didn't recognize it as Martha's Ring Bearer Pillow and I wanted to know where Myriah got it. Of course, she immediately pointed me to the step-by-step directions which I, in turn, am unable to do. I don't sew. Nor am I all that crafty (although I'm realizing I'm more crafty than I thought with this whole wedding-planning thing). She mentioned that the silk dupion fabric Martha recommends frayed after not too long and that I should go with silk taffeta.

Enter: Mrs. Crab Cake. After very little cajoling, she offered to make it for me. After trying Joann's, where the fabric was $49.99 per yard (she'd need two yards. Gasp!), she ordered in samples from NY Fashion Center. Fabric here was half the price. We e-mailed back and forth over colors, sizing, leaves, and all the necessities. To come up with...this!

I adore our ring pillow! And can't wait to see it in action down the aisle.

Who's carrying it? Thanks for asking.

Not our dogs, as we once considered. Our adorable junior bridesmaid. She's 10-years-old and will love to have the responsibility. She'll be great at it too because she is quite the little grown-up.

Here's a picture of her that I love from years ago.

Our Junior Bridesmaid with Mabel

How are your rings making it down the aisle?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One Month to Bliss

Today, we are officially one month out. Not only does that mean I have to go into overdrive with my to-do list, but I also get to start stalking the weather. I won't get an actual likely forecast until we are within the 10-day mark probably, but it's kind of fun to have a vague idea of what the sky, wind, and temperature might be doing.

Right now, says we'll have a high of 60 with a low of 29. Brrrrr. Record high for the day is 72. Let's hope we get closer to that because the low makes it low enough to snow! Luckily, our Harvest Moon is still there winking at us from the calendar.

I've decided that inclimate weather is quite alright with me. If, in fact, we need to turn to Plan B because of the weather, our wedding will be in the barn where our reception is taking place, under the barn doors (like below), as opposed to this.

Wedding in the Barn

Besides checking the weather as we get closer, I've got quite a few things I need to check off my list. Unlike some other handy bees, I've kept my list on a piece of paper that I carry in my purse. I can refer to it whenever I need and can cross things off once they're accomplished. I also check in with my list once in a while to make sure I'm not forgetting anything.

Considering that we've had 15 months so far to plan this 'lil event out, we don't really have very much left. Only a few nuts-and-bolts details. The major thing looming is our head count which will, like a waterfall, trickle down into many of the decisions we've already made. How much booze do we order? Can we add a signature cocktail? Can we add another dish (cole slaw?) to our BBQ menu? We need to make sure we fill out our order to match our food and beverage minimum ($5,500) so that we don't end up paying for nothing.

Our head count is likely in the low 60s.

Right now, our meal is only about $32 per person. We have $300 in appetizers planned. And a beer- and wine-order. I'm thinking a margarita might be a marvelous addition.

What else stretches out this list?

-Finishing up our ceremony and talking it over with my uncle (our officiant)
-Ordering our escort cards and sending them to our calligrapher
-Finding a shirt for Mr. CB (actually, that's on his to-do list)
-Locating ties for our groomsmen
-Putting together gifts for our bridal party as well as our parents and my uncle
-Bidding on more horse postcards for our guest book
-Finding fabric for the napkins I'm making as well as for our photo booth background
-Actually making the napkins
-Writing a note for our OOT bags and figuring out how to print multiples
-Making wooden wedding signs for our guests' drive in
-Sending our reception signs to our calligrapher
-Figuring out what we need to be legal in New Zealand (passport, etc)
-Creating detailed ceremony instructions for our bridal party since we aren't having a rehearsal
-Figure out where the heck our custom bridesmaid dresses are
-Apply for our marriage license
-Locate change-name forms
-Borrow a tri-pod, flash, and camera for our photo booth
-Put together our OOT bags
-Get a hair trim
-Finalize my flower order
-Finalize our honeymoon itinerary
-Create a seating chart
-Make sure Mr. CB's ring fits once it arrives in the mail
-Update our pie order to reflect our head count
-Write our vows

Whew. Longer than I thought.

What's on your to-do list? Hopefully mine might spur something you'd forgotten about. Maybe yours can do the same for me?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

No Rehearsal But...

While we aren't having a rehearsal for the wedding, it doesn't mean I'm going to give up the excuse to celebrate. Rehearsal dinner, here I come!

My parents are graciously throwing us a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding for the members of our wedding party as well as close friends and family. We wish we could invite our out-of-town guests too but that would mean the whole guest list would be coming to our rehearsal dinner. And it's just not in the budget.

But just because we're keeping it small doesn't mean we're going posh. Location? Hernando's Pizza Pub!

At first, I was skeptical. A pizza place, mom? But then I went to visit and it is adorable. It looks like a little Swiss chalet and the inside is practically all brick. Except for the ceiling which is completely ensconced in dollar bills.

I had to taste the pizza to be sure. I lived in Italy and have very high standards when it comes to pizza. (Note: high standards and pizza in the United States don't usually do well together).

But it was delicious. Thin homemade crust with fresh mozzarella and mushrooms. I even liked the tomato sauce (when I was a kid I used to pick up the cheese, wipe the tomato sauce off, and put the cheese back on before eating it).

My favorite part about Hernando's? The beer comes in ball jars. I can't think of a better way to drink a Hefeweizen the night before the wedding...

Where are you having your rehearsal dinner? Will it be casual or fancy?