Thursday, October 29, 2009

Love at The Ranch: Out-Of-Town Bags

"Goody bags" is probably a more appropriate name for our out-of-town bags. And that's because we gave one to every guest in attendance. Out-of-town bags would also be appropriate, though, because all of our guests were from out of town. Either way you look at it, these darlings were stuffed to the brim.

I blogged about the baggies and their adorning stamps, here. Beyond the muslin bags, though, I got blank tags from Hobby Lobby (around $2.99 for 25) and the "I Do" stamp from there as well for around $3.99.

But what's inside, you're wondering...

We gave one bag per couple, so...

-Two packets of Emergen-C ($10 for 36 packets)
Good for travelers and for adjusting to the altitude because it forces you to hydrate, and we were at 8,300 feet.

-Saltwater taffy from Sunflower Farmer's Markets (around $1.99 per pound--you have to buy A LOT of taffy to make one pound).

-Lip balm with SPF 15 by Elemental Herbs (promotional item I got for free through work; normally $3.50 per lip balm).

-Homemade granola made by Bridesmaid Georgia. People were trading taffy for granola, it was that good. Recipe coming soon!!!

-A welcome note and schedule of events from The Cowboy Boots.

In case you're wondering how to craft your welcome note, here's what ours said (sorry for the small print--click it to make it larger):

We created it in Word and then went to Kinko's, bought card stock and fit four to a page. After, we sliced and diced with the paper cutter. They cost around $5 and were so easy to make!

And here's our schedule:

I dropped these off as we headed into Winter Park for the first time. Coordinating this takes a little bit of work. You first have to gather everyone's accommodations. Then, Mapquest them to figure out who comes first, second, third, etc. We had names on each of the bags so we had to make sure the correct ones went to each hotel. All of the hotels were more than happy to drop them off at our guests' rooms. Our hotel added on a $2 per bag fee which I was unaware of until we got our check-out bill, so make sure you ask if there's a fee!

What are you including in your out-of-town bags?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love at The Ranch: The Remedy

The solution to our day of fighting was to take an hour together and just relax. Once we returned from getting our marriage license (during which we missed handing off a few out-of-town bags due to our fight), we decided we both needed a nap and little cuddling. I'd been with my girls for two nights, he'd been with his guys for two nights, and we'd been missing each other.

The unfortunate thing about needing a minute with your guy during the days leading up to your wedding is that it's nearly impossible to get. We decided that we'd rather spend a few minutes canoodling than be on time for dinner with my family. Normally, I am as punctual as they get but this, I think, is where you are allowed to give yourself leeway; Be late, be early, be whatever you want. It's your weekend.

Eventually, we sauntered over to dinner at The Ranch House Restaurant (at Devil's Thumb). I invited everyone attending the wedding to this dinner in case they were looking for company. I listed it on our schedule of events note that I included in our out-of-town bags (more on those to come!) as a non-hosted dinner, but with a few familiar faces. In the end, most of my family came as did my bridesmaids and one groomsman.

The deck outside of dinner. Alpen-glow.

After dinner, was our big Friday night event! You guessed it--Wedding Crashers in the Ranch's movie theater. Having this event created a place for our guests to meet for the first time, but because it was a movie, didn't leave room for any talking. In hindsight, I wish we would have had a little time to meet and greet before the movie started. I was in and out of the theater, chatting and saying hi to our guests in the hallway while the movie was playing. Nonetheless, the theater was filled with family, friends, and bridesmaids while the guys went off and did their bachelor par-tay thing! Not to mention, it was a great diversion for my mind from Mr. CB and my earlier spat.

Wedding Crashers

A few left mid-movie to go to bed (like my grandmother and mom) but my grandpa and dad stuck it out! Whether they were snoring or not, I'm not positive, but I definitely heard a few chuckles. And no one seemed offended that we'd chosen the "un-corked" version which happens to be littered with nudity and a few cuss words for good measure. I'm glad we got everyone in the wedding spirit off the bat!

How did we get here?

First, Mr. CB and I road-tripped it to Boulder, CO.
Then, I spent a peaceful morning with my bridesmaids and maids-of-honor.
Followed by a rowdy bachelorette party that night.
The next morning, two days before the wedding, we fought.

Did you have any nontraditional events leading up to your wedding?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love at The Ranch: The Day of Fighting

Someone once told me that the days before the wedding can lead to a couples' biggest fights. The stress, the emotions, and the exhaustion all play into it. Well, turns out, the Friday before the wedding was (almost) our day.

The morning after my bachelorette party was, well, not pretty to say the least. We were all "feelin' it" but had to pull it together to make the drive from Denver to Tabernash, Colorado, which is about two hours along a windy mountain pass. I'd be dropping off Bridesmaid AC and her sister at Devil's Thumb Ranch before meeting up with Mr. Cowboy Boot to go get our marriage license.

But, Mr. CB had a different idea about the day's itinerary. He was already up in Tabernash and wanted to have lunch with some of his guys about an hour back towards Denver (the opposite way of the County Clerk's office). The thing was that we only had an 8-hour window to get our marriage license (half of which was gone by this point) and, it being Friday, made it the only day to do it before the wedding. The clock was ticking.

I was about to go into bridezilla mode and mandate lunch be cancelled but I forced myself to keep my cool. I told him to go, knowing that lunch would probably take longer than his two-hour estimate but that we'd still have a couple of hours afterwards to get our license. I was hung over, exhausted, and not in the mood to argue. Secretly, I was dying to sneak in a nap and a shower too. So, I went into our cabin at Devil's Thumb and did a little meditation to snap out of my bad mood. Take note, brides-to-be, this works.

Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and just let out some "Oms". It will transport you right back to your last yoga class, where you were most likely uber-relaxed, and your humming will let your brain take a few breaths too.

By the time Mr. CB got back, it was around 3:30 (a few hours after his estimate). I think he was relieved to find a happy wife-to-be as opposed to an angry, tantrum-throwing bridezilla. I was impressed by my ability to not be angry too, especially after he'd teased me by text during lunch and told me he wasn't coming back to Tabernash that day. Heartless, I tell you.

We hopped in the car, drove the thirty minutes to Hot Sulphur Springs, where the County Clerk's office is located for Grand County. There was no one in line, just a woman behind the desk ready to take our money and get our information. She took down our address, our parents' names, and had us pay $30. Before handing over the license, though, she asked us a random question.

"Are you related by blood?" She said. Is that normal? Did those of you getting your license in NYC or less-rural places than ours get this question? We couldn't help but laugh.

After asking us if we were inbred, she had us read a statement of intent in unison basically noting that everything we were declaring was true. She apologized because normally they have music for this part, but they were in the process of moving and had misplaced it. I'm so curious to find out what kind of music that was?

In the car on the way back to the ranch, another hot topic came up: the bachelor party. It was planned for that evening and as of that point, they were planning on renting a limo and driving two hours (each way!) to Denver to find some bars and clubs. The area around the Ranch only has about two dive bars which weren't up to Mr. CB's guys' standards* for this particular evening. [*Note: See Pengy's post to understand why bachelor parties have to be humongous affairs.]

There was talk of strip clubs and while I know Mr. CB to be the kind of shy guy to sit on his hands at a place like that, it still bugged me. Nonetheless, I tried my relaxation method to, again, keep my cool. Somehow the conversation got completely blown out of proportion and we were arguing about strip clubs and trust and everything you don't want to be arguing about two days before your wedding. I've never been to one but my mind could only conjure up images I don't want to describe here. And, thus, I had trouble being okay with it.

Lucky for me, we were able to evade this whole debacle because the limo idea got squashed and the guys ended up at one of the aforementioned dive bars in nearby Winter Park, and the only women there were the type "you pay to keep their clothes on," the guys said.

What's your opinion on strip clubs? Are you cool with your guy going to one for his bachelor party? Or does it irk you too?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Love at The Ranch: What We Like To Call "Festive"

As the sun dipped beneath the now snow-capped mountains, we lounged at the adorable boutique hotel my girls had picked out for me: The Curtis in Downtown Denver. Themed floors, elevators that whistle at you, and a restaurant called the Corner Office all make this hotel incredibly retro and kitschy. Our floor theme? The Perfect Pair (adorned by the photograph of a little boy with bubble gum all over his face in our room).

I don't have any fun pictures of the hotel except for the one below, of all of us standing in front of a sixties style wall.

Claire, Jess, Alexandra, Me, Anne-Cecile, Kimberley, Sarah, and Jen

This is when we were told we didn't look like a bachelorette party. Apparently, fuzzy zebra and hot pink apparel is was brands a bachelorette nowadays. But, my bachelorette had a theme: Class, Not Trash. Thus, there were no penis straws, cakes, or our embarrassing paraphernalia to be found.

Another one of my other favorite lines of the night?

Upon asking one guy to guess who the bachelorette was, he replied: "I can't guess who it is--you all look so desperate." What was funnier is that he thought this was a pick-up line. And funnier even was when my FSIL (at the time) started calling him "Eric" after she noticed he was a mini version of Eric Nies from The Real World (and later, The Grind).

We initially took a cab to a restaurant called TAG in Larimer Square. Run by four young guys, let's just say it was not a disappointment to my table of ladies.

Anne-Cecile, Kimberley, Jen, Claire, Jess, Sarah, Me, and Alexandra

At one point, my FSIL threatened our waiter with an ass-whooping for flirting with me. It might have been because the girls dared me to ask him if he was wearing any underwear.

[Side note: The food here is fantastic. Sure, they have roasted bone marrow on the menu, but the scallops are to die for. As is the tabasco-spiced martini. That's all.]

From dinner, we moseyed on over to a champagne bar two doors down. Here is where the saying "Menver" (aka Denver) became true. Not a female in sight. This, however, was not what you would call, "a good thing."

It started out very innocent.

Me with my MOH Jen and a glass of the bubbly

A little more champagne

Soon, there were men stopping by, one-by-one, to chat with our table. Since 75% of the girls out with us were single, this seemed perfect. Only, wait until you get a look at the, um, men.

It started off not so bad...

But progressively got worse...

And, well, worse...

No one told us Hugh Hefner was going to be there.

This set us off rolling with laughter.

Tears-streaming-down-our-faces, stomachs-hurting type of laughter.

The champagne bar couldn't possibly get any better. So it was off to a bar down the road called The Front Porch.

As we walked in the door, passing the bouncer our IDs one-by-one, I heard my name from the bar. One of Mr. CB's groomsman and his girlfriend happened to be there.

We had a few drinks here. And then a few more. A few girls went home. And a few stayed.

These four (Anne-Cecile, Me, Jen, and Sarah) closed down the bar

As last call came around, the guy in the picture above (Red Sox hat) told us my bachelorette party was lame. He then offered to strip for $5 an hour. Unfortunately, it wasn't very tempting, so Anne-Cecile offered him $1.25 for 15 minutes. Apparently he showed us a nipple for free, or so I was told.

And then before I knew it, the lights were on and we were being pushed out of the bar and into the street to find out way home...

How did we get here?

First, Mr. CB and I road-tripped it to Boulder, CO.
Then, I spent a peaceful morning with my bridesmaids and maids-of-honor.

Was your bachelorette party all you wanted and more?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Love at The Ranch: Where My Girls At?

After arriving in after dark on Wednesday night, the girls and I woke up early on Thursday morning. Mr. CB had gone off with his groomsman the night before. The girls and I woke up around 7 am. Maybe it was because we'd gone to bed at 11 pm? Maybe it was because Bridesmaid FSIL was on East Coast time as she'd flown in from NY the night before? Whatever it was, we were ready for the day's festivities to begin.

For many of those in our wedding party, this was their first time in Colorado or even west of the Mississippi. So you can imagine Bridesmaid FSIL's surprise when she woke up in the morning to this farmland on the edge of Boulder.

We got the day started by taking Bridesmaid Georgia's dog, Bronco, out for a walk around the neighborhood.

Me, Bridesmaid Georgia, and Bronco

The day was chillier than we expected so we walked fast to get our blood flowing. Just a few days out from the wedding (4 to be exact), I had quite a few nerves rattling inside and exercise felt like a blessing.

No matter that the DIY projects were finished, after our hike, I still had plenty to do. I had to drop the jars I'd collected throughout the year off at the florist before picking up Bridesmaid AC and her sister Kimberley at the airport. Once Bridesmaid Georgia and I had them in tow, we were to meet my two MOHs and Bridesmaid FSIL to pick up my dress. As I blogged about before the wedding, the girls brought champagne and made it an event.

This was the start to my bachelorette party, after all.

Kimberley, Anne-Cecile, Jess, Me, Alexandra, Jen, and Sarah

It was much colder than expected. Mr. CB had texted about the snow in the mountains, but even down in Denver it was feeling icy.

Anne-Cecile and I huddle for warmth

This is when the fun really began. Similar to Mrs. Swan, my girls made a day of it. They took me to get a hot stone manicure/pedicure. Wow, that felt delicious. After that indulgence, I was whisked off to an adorable boutique hotel in downtown Denver to get the night started.

Knowing that my bachelorette party would start that night, officially kicking off the wedding weekend's events, I was grateful for the time prior to this that I got to spend with my girls. No expectations, no serious tasks, or activities planned that couldn't be fudged a little in terms of time, just the all of us arriving and enjoying each other's company.

And that's the beauty of a destination wedding...getting to spend more time with the people you love. Like Mrs. Apple Cider, one of my top items on my "Love List" was this, seeing all of my beautiful girls faces around me for some serious bonding time before the big day.

Did you get to spend time with friends and family before the wedding?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Love at The Ranch: We Embark

I'd been looking forward to this day for quite some time. The Wednesday before the wedding when we would sausage our stuff into my car, drive for seven hours through the mountains of Northern New Mexico towards Denver, and finally unite with a few early-arriving bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Over the past year, I'd done most of the trips to Colorado for planning on my own. Mr. CB often had to work and so spending some time alone with him on this adventure was definitely a sweet spot. Our dogs with friends, our goldfish with other friends, we were left to our own devices. No distractions.

We left around 11 am, having started the packing process and dropping off of the dogs and fish around 7 am. Yep. It took quite a bit longer than we expected. But given how much we had to bring with us, it didn't surprise me. And, we were both fairly relaxed and excited.

At this point, I'd finished all of my DIY projects. There were only a few last-minute things that needed finishing: picking up gifts for our parents/grandparents/officiant, finishing the out-of-town bags once in Colorado at Bridesmaid Georgia's condo in Boulder, and double-checking the calligraphy as it had been sent the day before to my bridesmaid's condo.

Heading north, we stopped at a Nambe shop, a store that sells hand-crafted goods often made by Native Americans. We got my parents the Cascade Frame which uses Nambe's signature alloy. Mr. CB's parents have a few heart-shaped decorative items around their house, so we contributed to this collection by getting them the Love Plate. For our officiant, my uncle, we got an alloy Christmas ornament with turquoise in it and an etching of Kokopelli, the spirit of fertility.

After that, we marched on making it to Denver about an hour after we were supposed to. We picked up Bridesmaid FSIL from the airport along with Mr. CB's best man. This is where Mr. CB and I parted ways. I went with Bridesmaid FSIL to Bridesmaid Georgia's condo to meet up with my two MOHs. Mr. CB zoomed up to the mountains with his best man where he texted that it was snowing like crazy.

The girls and I made it to Bridesmaid Georgia's, stuffed homemade granola into the out-of-town bags, drank wine, played with Georgia's 10-year-old golden retriever and got giddy about the upcoming days. Having my two MOHs from California, my FSIL from NY and Georgia from, well, Boulder, it was so fun to have everyone together.

Around 11, we nodded off to sleep. Mr. CB on the other hand (as I found out the next day) was up until 4 am, hot tubbing and catching up with is best man from NY.

The next day? We pick up my dress and head out for a bachelorette party in Denver (aka "Menver")...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Love at The Ranch: Teaser!!

In four hours, we leave for New Zealand for our honeymoon. In the meantime, I thought I might leave you a couple of pictures from our beautiful, harmonious wedding. These are from friends (not pro pics) but they make me giggle with glee nonetheless.

The day began clear and blue but clouded up by noon. With howling winds and chilling temps, we trudged into the field for outdoor pictures anyway. Thanks b-maids and groomsmen!

Our band Elephant Revival played Neil Young's Harvest Moon so beautifully. The moon hid behind the clouds until later in the evening. When it finally peeked out, Tec was able to shoot us with it. Can't wait to see his pictures!

The day went off without a hitch. We had our ceremony inside a mostly-glass barn because the weather got chilly and as soon as it ended, rain started dotting the window panes.

I can't wait to share all of the recaps with you once we get our pro pics and as soon as we get back from New Zealand. The love that surrounded us on Sunday felt so organic. I wish I could replay the whole night.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Golden Morning

Dear Hive: Today's the day! I am writing from my BlackBerry because my little, rusic (yet luxurious) cabin doesn't have wireless. It's a brisk 25 degrees out now, up here at 8300 feet in the mountains of Colorado, but the sun just crept over the peaks and is starting to defrost this little patch of earth and warm it to a comfortable 60 degrees.

I am sitting on the deck of my cabin, snuggled in a huge down comforter. Before me, the light stripes through the pines and makes the wheat-colored grass appear to be standing at attention. Beyond the stand of trees, there is a very still pond in a meadow, a forested hill beyond that, and a snow-capped 14,000 foot peak peering into the meadow.Birds are calling to each other in sweet chirps.

I feel calm, relaxed, exuberant, vibrant, happy.We've been here at Devil's Thumb Ranch for 3 days with friends and family filling our days with yoga, hiking, good food, laughter, intimate conversation and many bouts of good tears.

Today, it culminates with a possible spot of rain or snow later but I am ready for whatever the day throws our way. With plenty of sleep last night, I am finally rested. Crying--even if they are tears of joy--is exhausting, and the past few days have been a serious windy road of emotion.Just something to keep in mind, future brides. It is a transformation, after all.

To Mr.CB: I've loved you for the past four years and I am ready to commit that love to you for the rest of our lives, today. My vows are written and I can't wait to share them with you at our ceremony and hear what you have prepared for me. You are my absolute best friend, and there is no one else I wish to spend a beautiful, still morning with, like this one, than you. As I have written in my vows: "The world appears a little more golden when I am hand-in-hand with you."

Hive, you've been remarkable. Your feedback, honesty, support, and energy has made this process unforgettable. I am so fortunate to have been able to document everything here with you.

With love,

Miss Cowboy Boot

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Final Dress Fitting

Today could not have gone better. In Denver, pre-wedding, I made it to Saks Fifth Avenue with all of my bridesmaids in tow to pick up my gown. Yeah, three days out. I was nervous for all sorts of reasons--it had been four months since I'd tried the dress on, I hadn't seen it with its final alterations, and there was a lot of pressure with my girls there to make sure it looked perfect!

Here are the results (MR. CB, THAT'S YOUR CUE!)

The bridesmaids brought champagne!

Now, I have a decision or two to make. The Chloe & Max earrings didn't end up working out, nor did the Roberta Chiarella ones. They were both a little too blingy.

1) Do I go with the J. Crew belt and pearl studs? See below.

Or, 2) No J Crew belt with long, pearl earrings?

I'm kind of loving the J Crew belt with the studs and hair flowers but I'm not sure if it will be too busy with a bouquet. The color from the belt is really warm and beautiful, though.

Which is your favorite? Vote below!

J Crew belt and pearl studs
No belt and long pearls