Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who wants to eat some cake?!

Here is the engraved cake server I received from my parents for my birthday. With a teal ribbon tied around the handle it will be cute and customized for the big day.
Some more exciting progress in the wedding planning today--Jeff's Aunt Amy agreed to make our wedding cake as our wedding gift. I can't think of a more yummy and personal way to say congratulations! I love knowing that it will be family creating this important part of our special day because I know that it will be made with love and care and an attention to detail we would never get with a mass produced design.
Amy's cakes are fabulous--as seen pictured here, her son's Spiderman birthday cake.
This three tiered beauty was fit for a princess and they are as delicious as they are fun and playful.
I love the elegance and creativity of this wedding cake that she made too.
This is a photo collage I created of cakes that I want her to use for inspiration for mine (if you click on it, it should open larger). She sent me the link for a fun site Cake Central to search for ideas. I used the search terms "fall wedding cakes," "teal & brown," and "vintage lace." Those are three main themes I'm working with while planning the overall feel of the wedding thus far. I love the look of the flourish piping, as well as the use of ribbons on the cake. I like the monochromatic look of white on white, or chocolate on chocolate, but I like the teal too. The pops of fall colors with the leaves or flowers bring in the element of Autumn for the October 20th wedding. I'm hoping she can take some creative license with these ideas and meld them together however they inspire her best. And the cherry on top? My grandma and grandpa's cake topper from their wedding: a gorgeous little porcelain bride and groom (I still have to ask grandma to borrow it, but I know she'll say yes).

Deals of the Day: $6 Flats & $1 Ribbon!

When the girls and I went bridesmaid dress shopping I bought a swatch of the "jade" fabric to use to match up to other items in my color scheme. I went to the Dollar Tree today to pick up a few things, and while wandering the craft supply aisle, among only a few color choices, what are the odds that I actually found ribbon that perfectly matches my bridesmaid dress colors! At only $1 for 6 yards...I bought 8 rolls so that I have enough for the girls' bouquets and maybe even to use on thank you cards with coordinating paper, and other DIY projects I have planned.
After the Dollar Tree I popped into Payless to see if they had any shoes I could use for work...and instead I found these adorable white flats on sale for $6. I'm not sure yet if I will use them for the wedding, I might look for some cute blue/teal shoes instead to match my colors to be my "something blue" since they won't show anyway--but I figured for $6 to have them as a backup plan was worth it.
Jeff and I also gave his dad the go ahead today to book a friend of his as our wedding deejay. In addition, I was able to get ahold of Meridith Mertzlufft of Meridith Ann Photography to secure our date! I'm sooo excited to be able to work with her, as she has a good eye for detail and she's very creative and professional.

AND during my planning period for subbing today I called a few local hotels to get room pricing for this October to help set things up for out of town relatives. Am I on the ball or what? It feels so good to get these big things ticked off the checklist so that later on I can focus on the fun part--the details--and then my amazing photographer can capture them for me! :o)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Engagement Ring Resizing Leads to Wedding Band Shopping

On Monday afternoon Jeff and I finally got around to driving to Albany to get my engagement ring re-sized. I was reluctant to go because I knew I'd miss it while they were fixing it, and I didn't want to hear that I'd have to change the setting. Jeff was under the impression that they couldn't make that style smaller (since it has diamond chips around the top and sides about half way around the band). However, with the cold weather my fingers contract so much that the ring was really loose and it made me more and more nervous that I'd lose it. Since that was a worse fate than having to change the setting, I gave in to go get it re-sized.
We walked into Glennpeter Jewelers and I was in awe. There was a bar, a sitting area with gas fireplace, and the overhead lighting had a warm glow that made the jewelry shimmer in the cases. I joked with Jeff when I saw the bar that some poor bastards must have to take the edge off before making the leap to drop that much money on a ring that will bind their fate to a woman for the rest of their lives. I asked Jeff if he had a drink when he was there picking out my ring. He sheepishly nodded yes, and I laughed. He said he was here for awhile picking it out and he sat a the bar for one before he started looking. I smiled thinking about him there one evening after work, peering through the glass counter tops to pick out the ring he knew would bring me to tears and make me the happiest woman in the world.
After I worked with a salesperson to get my ring re-fitted and handed it over (thankfully I didn't have to change the setting!) Jeff surprised me by asking if I wanted to look at wedding bands while we were there. I knew I wanted a band to match my ring, so we looked for one without much luck. The salesperson was going to call the vendor of my engagement ring to see if they made a wedding band to match or if we need to have one custom made. With that figured out, and with the great news that since Jeff bought our engagement ring there, our wedding bands would be buy one get one free, we looked for Jeff's ring. I saw a few I liked a lot, but in the end, Jeff wasn't thrilled enough with any of them to make a decision yet. We are going to look again when we pick up my engagement ring from being re-sized.
It was a fun little moment with him. One where looking through the glass and pointing to the possibilities, we were pointing at a symbol of our never ending love for each other. It was finally sinking in that those rings will be tokens we will wear and look at every day for the rest of our lives. I love that ever since that fateful night in NYC when he slid that diamond ring on my finger, our honeymoon stage was rekindled and the camaraderie and the joy flowing between us fills me with so much hope for our future. It feels so good to be so sure about this one thing in life, when so much of life is uncertain--I'm certain I'm the luckiest woman in the world to have Jeff.

Operation Wedding Weight Loss

This will now be a typical breakfast for me on Weight Watchers-- 1 cup of Multigrain Cheerios with 1/2 cup of 1% milk and a sliced banana--only 4 points! Add a 4 point greek yogurt for some protein and that's a sunny start to the day! Jeff and I rejoined the Weight Watcher's Online community on Monday and we are committed to helping each other stay on track so we can be healthier and more confident on our Wedding day and beyond.
Along with Weight Watchers, we joined the local gym together (our membership includes free tanning--which will probably come in handy).

My 8 point lunch included a 3 point soup, 2 point Keebler Town House Olive Oil & Salt Crackers, 2 points for 2 ozs of sliced deli ham, and 1 point for French Onion Laughing Cow cheese wedge--sooo yummy and then grapes for dessert!
I have high hopes for staying motivated and losing 40+pounds before October 20th--that's about a pound a week, which I think is doable because some weeks I will lose more, and some weeks nothing at all. I'd like to have my dress taken in and look the best I have in years. Let's see if the wedding goal is the kick in the pants I need to keep up the eating better and exercise. I'm posting all this so I feel even more accountable to the goal--ask me often how I'm doing, so I feel embarrassed if I get lazy or cheat. LOL.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping!!!

This afternoon I went bridesmaid dress shopping with Lindsey, Ginger, and her mom, Sue. We had a blast! Thank goodness I made us an appointment because it was a mad house with a $99 sale going on--all the fitting rooms were jammed with girls and we would've had an hour and a half wait!
We got right in and set up with a fitting room and with a brief explanation of color and size guides we hit the racks looking for styles to try on.
This was the first dress Ginger tried so we could get a sense of how the color would look--I wanted "truffle" brown or "cocoa."
Lin looked smokin' in this satiny red number, which ended up being one of our top two picks of the day. Little did we know we'd return to this style...but looking at this photo now, I can see it has a lot of potential especially in the color we decided to go with--"jade."
This was my favorite dress of the day on Ginger--I loved the sheen and texture of this fabric along with the gathering in the right places. We decided to go short to avoid unnecessary alterations costs and to give them a little more comfort and mobility from carrying around a bunch of fabric all day.
We had to have some bad picks too...I promised not to post the really bad picks, haha, but here is the what they called "The Grinch" combo.
These ended up being our top two style choices, which my sisters will try on at a North Carolina David's Bridal to be the tie breakers, or we may end up going two and two.
And with my troopers. I know from a few weeks ago how exhausting dress shopping can be and they were awesome! We were positive and productive and I'm impressed that we got so much accomplished in our hour and a half appointment time--wait--I mean, the 3 hours we stayed to try on dresses!!! Our marathon session left us with two possibilities and a confirmed color choice that everyone is happy with, so it was a great day!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Papercrafting Project: "Save The Dates"

Yesterday I received the photos I ordered from and today I got the photo magnets in the mail from, and last week I bought ivory envelopes from I had everything I needed to put the "Save the Dates" together this afternoon. Well--almost everything--compiling mailing addresses for Jeff's side of the guest list has been a challenge. I've rounded up all that I could through Facebook friendships, emails, and phone calls of people I know...but there are a handful left that are up to him. That's where the nagging comes in. But, like I told him, I wouldn't have to nag, if he just did it when I asked the first time. We will be good at marriage. LOL.
Unfortunately the photos I ordered came with the borders I added through photo editing partially cut off, and there was an unsightly string of numbers printed on the back of them. Also, I could only find envelopes about a half inch bigger than the photos. To solve all these problems I added a kraft cardstock photo matte to all the pictures to finish them off and make them fit in the envelope better. I hand stamped all of the envelopes with flourishes in kraft brown and teal (in CTMH ink colors they are called "desert sand" and "juniper"). I used a sparkly teal Sakura jelly roll pen to hand write the addresses on the front of the envelopes.
Once all the photos were matted on the cardstock, and the envelopes were stamped and addressed, I sat on the couch and handed Jeff the magnets...I put the photo in the envelope, he put in the magnet. That was his contribution to the project :o) Once I get wedding postage stamps and the return address labels I ordered come in the mail--they will be all set to be shipped out....that is after I get those last few addresses. hehe

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Best Man Announced

Since we set a date yesterday, I guess Jeff felt it was time to ask Mike to be his best man. Last night I overheard parts of the phone conversation from down stairs--the part I heard was Jeff's belly laugh at Mike's offer to man the getaway car--the part Jeff told me about was how Mike said he was honored to be asked. The two have been best friends since middle school and played football together through high school. In their adult lives they are there for each other in the form of supportive phone calls and xbox gaming sessions.
For as long as I've known Jeff, I've known Mike, and he's proven to be a true friend through and through--to both of us. He has a huge heart and a never ending supply of stubbornness and useless facts that always makes Jeff and I shake our heads and laugh. I'm probably as proud and happy to have him be part of our wedding as Jeff is! We are lucky to have such great friends. The photo above was taken this past Summer at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake. It was funny that looking through my photos for one of Jeff and Mike, I had forgotten about this one of us with both of our best friends! Love it!

He Said Yes!

The "He" this time is not Jeff, but my Uncle Norman--he agreed to make it to NY from VA for our wedding! I asked him if he would be able to perform the ceremony for Jeff and I and he said he would be thrilled and honored to marry us! It's so great to be able to have our families be part of our wedding in a variety of ways--and this will be very meaningful for my family, and for Jeff and I. The photo above was taken of my Uncle performing my cousin Gabe and his wife Katelynn's ceremony in July 2010. Things are falling into place and I'm very happy and excited!

Save The Date!

I am excited that we set a date and found a place so I spent last night creating my "Save the Dates." I edited a photo that Elise took of us to add in a border, digital stamps, a vintage photo filter and of course the text (using Picnik through Picassa-free online editing software). With a 60% off print sale at I was able to order 75 in matte finish with free shipping to my home for less than $6 total. Then I took the same photo and uploaded it to and made similar edits to create "Save the Date" photo magnets (which including shipping cost me less than 50cents a piece). Now I just have to find envelopes that will fit a 4x6 photo and purchase wedding themed postage to go with the return address labels that I also had made on Vista Print. Truly personalized and custom for less than $1.50 per household including postage! Now I just have to keep collecting addresses and wait for the photos and magnets to arrive in the mail and in a month or so I can ship them out to family and friends! This creative part, is the fun part! :o) I can't wait to start my invitations!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Picking the Venue and Setting a Date

The bridge that crosses the pond to the gazebo and guest seating area.
The front entrance to the venue.
The frozen pond with gazebo, wishing well, and walkway.
Example floral candelabra centerpiece.
Archway walking from the parking lot into the venue.
Website photo of the grounds in Spring.
Example of the place settings.
Today Jeff and I went to check out the Bridal Expo at the Perthshire in Amsterdam, NY. Although the upstate winter has taken its hold of the grounds with a grey bitterness and a layer of crunchy snow and frost, I was excited imagining the possibilities that nature has in store for Autumn here. I can picture the pond rippling in the breeze under the bridge, the fountain bubbling with water and the trees ripe with colored leaves scattered about. There was plenty of parking, a patio room in the process of renovation, and a nice set up inside for tables and plenty of room for dancing. The packages include florals and linens, and a wedding cake, which makes it less overwhelming to select additional vendors. I just get to pick colors and arrangements, and that's the fun part anyway.
Yup, we signed the contract with our down payment to secure our date: October 20, 2012 with an 11:30am ceremony and 12-5pm reception to follow!
Selecting and customizing our specific package and deciding on the details will be a work in progress. Coming home and weighing out package options and multiplying out the per person price plus gratuity and tax---well, that makes it feel real. Ouch! Lol. We will get there, and I know it will be beautiful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Engagement Photos Practice Session 2

Last Friday, after getting paper for the invites in the Archiver's scrapbook store, Jeff and I spent all afternoon scouring the mall for outfits for our engagement photos to no avail. I couldn't believe how hard it was to find a teal button down shirt for him, and something that would look vintage and bridal for me. We gave up and returned to my parents' house for dinner--and then Elise and I were actually able to find something at Stein Mart over the weekend and without Jeff even there to try it on it actually worked! So after wedding dress shopping Monday afternoon, we headed back to the girls' apartment to pick up Jeff for a photo session. Except this time, instead of too much sun and a warm mild day, we were freezing our butts off running from spot to spot on the University of North Carolina campus in gorgeous fading afternoon light. Elise snapped a ton of pictures while Aly wore both my coat and Jeff's. We warmed up after the session with drinks and appetizers at a bar on Franklin Street down the way from the college. The photos above represent some of my favorites from the batch. I hope to have even better ones after this weekend's shoot with Meridith!

Wedding Gown Shopping at David's Bridal

As you will see below, two of my favorites online don't quite look right on me. LOL

On Monday, January 2nd, 2012 I purchased the dress I will walk down the aisle in to marry the man of my dreams. The dress is in alterations in NC till February, but my veil is rolled loosely in tissue paper and safely tucked into my closet awaiting the big day. It's a little surreal. In fact, the whole day was. Perhaps it was because of the lack of oxygen and discomfort of the herring-boned corset bra or the expectant looks of the bridal consultant, my mother, and each of my sisters as I came out of the dressing room in each gown--or because I wanted the idyllic story of being able to say I found my dress in the first shot with my mom and my sisters by my side--but after less than a dozen dresses, I said "yes" and rang the bell for the whole boutique to hear. I wish I could say that I had the epiphany that it was "the one" the moment I walked out and looked at myself in the mirror--but after being deluged by the manager briskly fitting a veil on my head, and each of the fabric layers being fluffed by the consultant, and the alterations lady trying to make up for my poor self-image by pinning on lace sleeves/shoulder straps over my broad shoulders, I felt my smile beginning to hurt my cheeks and knew it had to be it. My mom and my sisters all loved it and women walking past in the boutique all nodded in approval. I don't know if it's because it was such a big decision financial or that it happened so fast and I didn't want it to be over, or because I'm a worry wart, but I don't think I will feel 100% with it till I have it on during my wedding day and I'm walking down the aisle in it. I'm glad I got to do it with my mom and my sisters, and I do love it, but I'm having a bit of buyer's remorse. I mean, that's my wedding dress (not pictured in any of the photos above--I'm saving the reveal for the big day)--but it feels weird to be done with that part and not have a set date or a venue yet!

Engagement Photos Practice Session 1

I wanted Elise to to take some pictures of Jeff and I while we were visiting so we could loosen up in front of the camera for this weekend's photo shoot with Meridith Mertzlufft of Meridith Ann Photography. We are doing an engagement session with her so I can decide if we have the chemistry I'd like to use her for our wedding. She is a talented local budding photographer and younger sister to Mark Mertzlufft, whom I went to school with since 6th grade, so I'm excited to see what we can come up with together. I love what I've seen so far!
The photos above were taken by Elise's boyfriend, J.W., in a park in Chapel Hill, NC. That photo shoot was short lived because of the harsh light we were getting from the position of the sun that early in the day, but I had to post these because they were Jeff's idea and very playful and fun.

Paper Shopping & Gathering Doo Dads

When I was visiting my family in North Carolina last week, I was excited to be able to convince Jeff to drive with me to Archiver's about 35 minutes from their apartment to go paper shopping. I knew this scrapbook store would have the perfect paper to create my wedding stationary and I was right! I found a My Mind's Eye, Lost & Found 2 line that has the perfect mix of elegance and vintage, as well as the colors I've been envisioning: Chocolate, Ivory, Teal, and Caramel. I bought out every sheet of the three designs I felt worked together best so that I have enough for Save the Dates, Invitations & RSVP cards, thank yous, and maybe even programs and place cards if I'm creative with how I use it.
In a twist of fate, or perfect timing, my Aunt Pam had decided to give up rubber stamping and passed on all her materials to me while I was down south for the visit. In a box of stuff that she gave me I believe I have enough sets of heavy-weight Strathmore card and envelope blanks to create some gorgeous invitations, and some smaller card and envelope blanks for Save the Dates or RSVP cards. So before the cost of postage and adhesive, I should essentially be able to make almost all of the stationary projects for the wedding for under $150. Time will tell...but it's looking good, and I can't wait to get started on all this with my MOH, Ginger!
As for everything else you see pictured, when I got home and got a chance to sort through my stash this morning I gathered up all the little vintage doo dads and paper crafting supplies that go with my color scheme and the look I want to achieve. I've got some ideas for centerpieces that I will reveal in future posts that will include some of what is pictured.