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STDs

While I love the element of surprise, I feel comfortable sharing my final save-the-dates as they will be sent out to our guests very soon.  I finished them last month using Vistaprint.com – an online graphic design store.  I usually use Shutterfly for photo-products, but for bulk items, I found Vistaprint to be the most reasonably priced while still providing an array of appealing designs and plenty of room for creativity.

There are a lot of options for making your save-the-date cards, or it’s something you can skip entirely and just send out invitations.  However, if you’ve set your wedding date far in advance and have the time (usually about 4-6 months in advance), it is nice to give your guests a heads up, so they know to…save the date.  I especially recommend it if your wedding falls on or near a holiday weekend.  Mine does not, but I love stationary, so this was something I was excited to work on.

I was toying with the idea of including pictures in the save-the-dates, but not for the formal invitations.  Save-the-dates are the first thing your guests receive about your wedding, so we felt like we should really make it our own, whereas I felt the formal invites, with all the extra cards and envelopes included, should be a little more elegant.  We are both much more comfortable with humor than with mushy love sentiments, and we wanted it to be personalized and symbolic of our interests.  One of our favorite hobbies is target shooting, and frankly Johnny is a gun-fanatic, so when the idea of including guns in the save-the-dates came up, he was all about it.  I also thought it would be delightfully weird, and hilarious. Further, we had a baby out of wedlock last year, so we heard a lot of jokes about shotgun weddings, so I sensed a theme approaching.

On an outing in the woods with the our good friends, Leon and Heidi, the best man and bridesmaid respectively, we snapped some pictures of one another brandishing various guns.  Then, I sifted through the various themes on Vistaprint and came across quite a few with picnic, barbeque, and country themes.  I knew red was going to be a prominent wedding color because I want the picnic-style red and white gingham tables clothes at the wedding, so I came across a few templates that would fit both the theme and the color scheme:

Marry Go Round

Gettin’ Hitched

Both are very stylish with country-themes, a hint of red color, and not too girly.  I’ve noticed a lot of invitations are very feminine, and while they’re can be very beautiful and ornate, I sometimes wonder if the grooms-to-be are comfortable with sending those out to their bros.  Actually, I think many grooms are more than happy to let their brides take the lead with invitations, but, I for one wanted our save-the-dates to reflect on both of us, so I specifically sought out “bi-sexual” designs.  We decided we definately wanted those gun portraits included, so I searched for a template with two photo drops, and here was the final result:

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In case you can't tell, the bottom says "Shotgun wedding: a case of wife or death."

Backside

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Vistaprint allows you many different options in terms of the paper stock, quality, backside.  For instance, you can insert a map or another picture on the back, fill it with color, or you can do what I did and print it in grayscale.   It’s little things like where you can save a few bucks.  Frankly, I don’t think people pay much mind to the back of a card, in fact save-the-dates usually end up on the refridgerator, so I wasn’t going to spend more to have it be red.

I created the card and saved it in a portfolio on the website.  Then, I signed up on their email list and waited, as every few days they emailed me about promotions and sales (like 50% off, or free shipping for purchases over $30).  I waited until I found a good enough sale – a decent discount with free shipping.  My total for 40 cards and envelopes was $30.22!  Not bad.

We’ve given a few of them out already, and I just love watching our invitees laugh at them and say, “that’s so you!”  Just the impression we were looking for.  Thanks to Heidi for taking the pics, you sure do know how to make me look good with a gun! Yee-haw!

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Ill-Fitting

Not wanting to miss out on an important and seemingly exciting wedding tradition, I asked my mom to go to David’s Bridal in Eugene with me to try on wedding dresses.  I had done some browsing online at David’s Bridal’s website, as well as Nordstrom’s Rack, Etsy, and Macy’s, but I felt that shopping for a wedding dress is more than just obtaining a dress, it’s an experience where you get to try on beautiful, expensive gowns and really begin to experience what getting married will feel like.  Plus, you can bring you girlfriends and they gush all over you, and who doesn’t like that?

I was greeted at the front desk and given a goody bag full of coupons and samples, a promising start.  I was told to look at some dresses until my stylist, who was also helping another bride, became available.  Shortly after, a hot mess greeted me and we began our search.  My stylist was sweating profusely, had wild, unwashed hair, and wore garrishly patterened socks with her ballet flats.   Don’t get me wrong, I admittedly dress pretty slovenly sometimes, but it was evident she took minimal time grooming herself for work that day.

I was then informed of David’s Bridal’s policy of dress shopping:

  1. You can touch the dress through a tiny slot in the plastic cover, but you cannot take a dress off the rack.
  2. You cannot put on or take off a wedding dress without the assistance of a consultant.

Both policies are understandable, as they are responsible for some very expensive dresses.  I’m sure some crazy bridezillas have ripped some $1000 gowns trying to stuff their size 10 asses into size 6 dresses.  However, both policies are extremely annoying when you are sharing a consultant with another bride.  Some of those dresses take a good 20 minutes to lace up, so I found myself waiting for 20-30 minute intervals just to have her pick up a dress for me and walk it to the fitting room.

I noticed my consultant getting more agitated, and she was obviously overwhelmed with her 2-3 brides.  I sympathized with her until she admitted she was hungover.  I’ve certainly been hungover at my job, but there’s something particularly off-putting about seeing a hungover bridal consultant.  It’s an atmosphere so formed around beauty and tranquility, that Jaegar sweat really ruins the ambiance.

None of the gowns really stood out, and I decided to call it quits after only trying on 4 dresses in a matter of 2 hours, not necessarily because of the experience, but merely because I didn’t find anything that I liked.  I had a set price-range of $350-$400 maximum, and was hoping to spend even less, and at DB that pays for their lowest quality dresses.  As an avid thrift store shopper, I feel like I’m skilled at seeking out quality pieces for good prices, so I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of spending that much on a run-of-the-mill white dress.  They certainly had some beautiful gowns, but they cost double or triple my dress budget.

This is what upset me:  When I made it known that I would not be purchasing anything, a manager interferred.  I pointed out a gown I liked in their catalogue and instead of helping me order it, or listening to me at all, she began grabbing random dresses off the racks that she felt were similar, but were not, or she would find one that was close but in a size 4 (not my size), which is just depressing.  On top of that, I consider high-pressure sales to be on par with being kicked in the vaj.  They knew I had already been there over two hours with my mother and my 8-month-old, who was really losing his patience.  That was my mistake entirely, as David’s Bridal is not an appopriate place to bring a baby, but it was my only option that particular day.  I quickly got dressed and headed towards the doors.  When I waited 30 minutes for my consultant to help me earlier, she was nowhere in sight, but when she saw me leaving empty-handed, she darted towards me to book a follow-up appointment.  I declined and my mom and I went to a nearby bar and got some wine to talk shit about David’s Bridal – coining it the Wal-Mart of bridal shops.

Luckily, I was able to walk away from that awful experience with some useful information.  It was really helpful to be fitted for a dress, any dress.  I was able to determine my size and what types of dresses were/were not flattering, which would prove helpful for online shopping.  For instance I noticed the majority of bridal gowns are strapless, but I didn’t find that flattering on me, so that also helped me to narrow my search.  Also, I went into DB in a frumpy outfit and a ponytail, my usual look, while most of the other girls had their hair and makeup done, and were well-dressed for the occasion.  They tried on tiaras and sparkly wedding jewerly with their gowns, and I’m not judging any of that.  In fact, that was one enjoyable part of the fitting – talking to other giddy brides and watching them spin in their dresses.  I just realized that I’m not that bride, I’m not comfortable in a poofy dress draped in sparkles.  I’m low-key, and prefer a simple, clean look.  Plus, I’m far too particular of a shopper to deal with a consultant.  So, while I left disheartened by the experience, I was armed with good ideas.

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A Titillating Gown

My best friend and maid-of-honor, Bridget, was kind enough to give me some wedding dress suggestions:

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I must say this bride’s necklace really emphasizes her curves.  Thanks Bridget, it’s definitely in the running!

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Partners in Wedding Planning

One important thing to consider when your planning your wedding is to look at to the talents of the people close to you and see if they would be willing to offer their help.  For instance, if you have a friend who styles her hair really nicely, perhaps ask if she would be willing to help you create your wedding ‘do.  That’s $200 that you can spend on more important things, like alcohol and food, which you never want to be short of at a wedding.  I must say that we have been fortunate enough to have so many of our friends and family offer their skills without provocation.

Here’s how awesome they are:

Heidi – friend, bridesmaid, best man’s fiancée, used to bake as a profession and continues to as a hobby.  She has offered to make our cake.

Bridget – best friend, maid of honor, owner of an online makeup shop specializing in mineral makeup.  She is providing all of the makeup for the wedding!

Carla – mother of the groom, avid flower picker and arranger.  She has offered to help me handpick flowers for the entire wedding at a U-Pick farm (think wholesale flowers) in the area, and she will be hosting the rehearsal dinner at her home.

Cheryl – mother of the bride, wedding host.  She has not only offered her home and backyard at the venue, but has offered to be in charge of making and preparing the food.

David – bride’s step-father, bonified handyman.  Since he agreed with my mother to host the wedding, David is taking on various remodelling projects to improve the back deck and yard.  I plan on documenting the progress of the backyard from what it is now (overgrown chaos as a result of Oregon’s long winters) to what it will look like for the big day.  My step-brother, Zach, Johnny, and I will also be assisting with various home and garden projects for David.

Cody – another one of the bride’s best friends.  In lieu of making him a bridesman, I recruited him to “marry” Johnny and I.  Never short of quick wit, and always a charmer, he is officiating our wedding.

Sharon – Best man’s mother, musician.  Sharon plays various instruments in various bands, and has offered to be the main source of musical entertainment at our wedding.

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The Great Contender

I was turned on to the Nordstrom Rack through a very fashionable co-worker of mine, who is very savvy with online shopping.  Nordstrom Rack is separate from Nordstrom department stores and offers apparel, accessories, and shoes from Nordstrom and Nordstrom.com at lower prices.  You can also shop online at Nordstrom Rack (http://shop.nordstrom.com/C/nordstrom-rack), and they offer free shipping and returns regardless of the price of your purchase.  I came across this very beautiful Adrianna Papell dress at the Nordstrom Rack online for $298, and though it eventually was beat out by other options, my thoughts still drift to it from time-to-time.  I had some criteria for my ideal dress that this didn’t quite meet, however, I think it is a stunning dress.

I really enjoy the nude mesh straps, it looks like the jewels are laying right on your skin.

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The back is so feminine and sexy, I came very close to making this my dress.

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It was really the bodice that turned me away – I tried on something similar to this mermaid bodice at a bridal store and found it rather constricting and unflattering.  Empire waist is the ideal fit for me, and though the design of this dress appealed to me so much, I felt that the fitting of the dress is as equally crucial to the overall look.

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Ideal Wedding Hair Style

I’m a big fan of Zooey Deschanel as an comedienne and a great beauty (aren’t they one in the same, though?).  I also like bangs; they’ve always been flattering to my facial features – if you have a longer forehead like me, bangs are a good way to balance out the shape of your face – plus, they make you look younger!

I want to wear my hair down for the wedding and I don’t want it to look too styled, but rather casual and pretty.  I saw this beautiful photo of Zooey Deschanel and it will definitely be taken into consideration when I style my hair.

So, for this aspect of my wedding, I am going to “do-it-myself.”  Luckily, the Internet has a plethora of how-to-(insert whatever you want) tutorials, and I found one that shows you how to style your hair specifically like Ms. Deschanel (Tutorial: How-to-style-your-hair like Zooey Deschanel).  I have all the tools except for the hot rollers.  I priced some hot rollers at Target and they range from $14.99 to $49.99. Then, I researched the prices of a hair styling at a popular Eugene Aveda salon, Gervais, to discover that an event hair styling is $50+ and a bridal updo is $200+!!!  I’m sure they do a fantastic job and I do not undervalue the skills of a professional hairstylist, but if you enjoy experimenting with your own hair and/or do not want to spend $200 or more for one hairdo, opt for some free online tutorials and purchase some hair products and accessories.  You save money and get new accessories to use over and over again for future adventures in hair styling.

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Make ’em laugh

This may sound odd in a wedding blog, but frankly, in this day in age marriage is a risky endeavor.  Many marriages end in divorce, and no matter how close you are with someone, it’s still a roll of the dice as to whether this life-long commitment will withstand.  On top of that, planning a good wedding – even a small one, that you and your guests will enjoy, is a big project that can be stressful at times.  My point is that you have to laugh at it all sometimes.  Thanks to Pintrest, I came across a hilarious website called Someecards where I found this:

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