Monday, December 22, 2008

You deserve a present

Because you've been patient.

I warn you, though: this is dress-related. So if you don't want to see a teeny, tiny piece of the dress, don't look any farther.

I'll also say, though, that after you look at this teeny, tiny piece, it won't actually ruin any of the surprise of the dress for you, so if you're unsure, you can definitely look.

This may or may not apply to Eric. Eric, you can make up your own mind.

But I figured that since my "my dress has arrived!" post was picture-less, you deserved a picture.

For your patience.







A little bit of the hem lace/beading detail and the ruffle, which I've decided to keep. The shininess is the plastic bag the dress still resides in.

I took it bridesmaid dress shopping yesterday with two of my girls, for the ridiculous excuse of putting it on in the store to see what we would look like standing next to each other (really just an excuse to put it on again), and I'm bringing it home for Christmas to show my mom and so my sister and I can fiddle with sewing a bustle. I'm sure that will be an adventure, so expect a future post about that, for sure!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tuxes -- check!

Today's post comes to you from guest blogger ESC -- that's right, my husband-to-be! He writes for a living, is the wittiest and smartest man I know, and puts a lot more thought into his posts, as you will clearly be able to tell.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's the season of lists. Things people want to be given, things they need to buy, places they need to travel, which conversation topics to avoid with which relatives.

If you asked those who know me to list people with great powers of concentration and patience, I might show up on the third or fourth page. Not my long suit. So when my bride and I visited a Men's Wearhouse in the Mays Landing mall the other day, the fact that a 100-piece high school band was right outside, shattering windows with "Ukrainian Bell Carol," was not an encouraging way to start my tuxedo shopping.

There was nowhere to sit. The vests all looked like different colors than they had seemed in my catalog. I hadn't spent even a second considering whether I wanted to wear a different color vest than the groomsmen. The guy was only mildly helpful and interested. I was being asked questions and I had no answers and oh my God are the trombones trying to be heard from outer space, so no, it was not an encouraging start.

We sort of left things on hold and went to a different MW today, a non-mall MW, where there were swatches and a chair and some harmless, non-earsplitting Christmas muzak. Ahhhhhh.

Black Calvin Klein two-button, ivory vest for me, charcoal vests for them, shirt, links, shoes. Bam, bam, bam. Ahhhhhh.

Next list: things to learn how to do simultaneously to demonstrate ability to concentrate.

-Walk, chew gum

-Pat head, rub stomach (mine, ideally)

-Talk on phone, IM with equal levels of attentiveness and spirit (have never succeeded here)

-Drink, shut up

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Recycling: Buying used to make your design scheme come together

When I first started planning our wedding, I had only a couple visions for decor: purple, and flowers. The devil, of course, was in the details.

It seemed, at first, that there were just SO MANY OPTIONS. To say "flowers" is one thing; to come up with a color scheme and design aesthetic requires making a decision. To someone who knows nothing about flowers, that might be kind of daunting, but to someone like me who knows a decent bit about flowers, it's almost more aggravating, because I like everything and want it all. I think I blogged a little bit before about trying to narrow down those options, and since then, I've had a pretty solid idea of what I wanted. Now it's a matter of acquiring everything.

Here are the key players:

Table linens: It turns out that it tends to be cheaper to rent white tablecloths than colored ones, and even renting white ones costs what seems to be an arm and a leg. If we were starting from scratch, I would most likely use Bright Settings, which is a mail rental service that provides table linens pretty reasonably, in a wide choice of colors and patterns. As it turns out, though, our venue rents white linens for the least amount of money I've found anywhere, so we're going to go with those.

I toyed with the idea of making our own tablecloths, but quickly decided that was a little too ambitious, even for me. With white tablecloths, though, a table needs color, so I was on the lookout for table runners or overlays. A table runner wouldn't be too hard to make -- I can cut and sew in a straight line, after all -- but I couldn't find any good fabric online and our local amazing fabric store in Louisville, Baer Fabrics, went out of business this summer before I could get myself over there, and I was left with an unfulfilled intention to check out fabric row in Philly in person. Luckily, a kind soul posted her aubergine table runners on the Weddingbee classifieds a couple months ago, and I pounced on them. For $150, I am now the proud owner of 22 eggplant colored table runners that match our decor perfectly. I plan to resell them after the wedding, and pass on the love.

One of our new purple table runners. It's a little more "royal purple" here, but it's a beautiful eggplant in real life.


Paper lanterns: I've been trolling the Weddingbee classifieds and Craigslist periodically for a few months now (see my earlier post on Craigslist searching), and I've had some good finds. First, I acquired 10 12" and 12 10" light green lanterns (sorry, I know that's confusing) from a Weddingbee member for $45 (including shipping). From another Weddingbee member, I acquired 15 11", 12 17", and 15 23" white Ikea paper lanterns, and 32 of the Hemma light fixtures that will allow them to be lit with regular light bulbs, all for $179 including shipping. I'm not really sure if we will be able to rig up a lighting system to allow us to use all of those light cords, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, at our venue walk through in a few months.

So that means we have 64 paper lanterns so far, mostly in white. I'm still looking for some purple ones and some more green ones. If I haven't gotten the requisite number via the classifieds by the end of March, I'll order the rest new. Still, I like being able to buy used for two reasons: cheaper, and being able to reuse products that otherwise would be thrown away. Another issue I haven't addressed is lighting all of the lanterns, which I would like to do. I have a bunch of battery-operated tea lights I acquired at some point, and I have the 32 Hemma light cords. If that's not enough, I might consider making some LED throwies, but we'll see how crafty I feel like getting this spring.


Glassware: Once I decided to do my own flowers (which was right after Eric put the ring on my finger), I started thinking about floral centerpieces. Instead of making matching centerpieces for each table, I've decided to make a smorgasbord of vase arrangements and mix and match them all around the room. After all, the majority of the beauty of flowers is in the flowers themselves, I think, and a mass of lush blooms in a vase is at least as pretty as an overly designed arrangement. Plus, and you'll see the trend here, buying vases at thrift stores is pretty cheap, and I'm reusing products that otherwise I would have to buy new. When I was living in NJ this summer, I spent a lot of time browsing thrift stores (and also Big Lots and Tuesday Morning, I have to admit), and brought home a lot of vases. To the point that Eric would give me a raised-eye look that said, "Where are we going to put these? And how are we going to get them to Louisville?" Answer #1: They were stored in his family's shore house in Ocean City, and Answer #2: He brought them in his car when he drove to Louisville for Thanksgiving, and they are now being stored at our groomsman Shea's house. And I continue to look for glassware every spare minute I get.

Here is just a sampling of what I found over the summer. I especially love the vase in the lower left corner, which has bees etched into it! I have to make sure I get that one back for myself after the reception.

I haven't yet successfully used Craigslist for buying vases, mostly because the entries are too many to comb through and generally yield poor results. And on Weddingbee, people tend to sell full lots of identical vases, which is good to know if I get desperate in May, but for now, I'm going to continue searching the thrift stores and, once the weather gets better and my time frees up, yard sales. In general, I'm looking for short vases, no taller than 10" high or so, so that the flowers don't block the sight line of the guests sitting at the table. In addition, I'm looking for clear, purple, or green glass, and unique shapes are always a plus.

Here's a picture of one of the glass bowls I bought sitting on one of the new (to me) table runners:

You need to imagine the flowers and the white tablecloth underneath (the green striped one there is what I had on the table for Thanksgiving), but you get the picture.

So that's what I troll the classified ads, thrift stores, and yard sales for: paper lanterns, glass containers, and anything else that would be a nice addition to our reception decor.

Anyone else also buying used?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Please save our date!

May 24, 2009!

As mentioned previously, we are now at the T-minus 6-month mark, and the days continue to march by (when you go from 12 to 11.5 months to go, not having booked a DJ doesn't bother you so much; from 6 to 5.5 months, you stress a little every day...). What does that mean? It's time to send our save the dates!

(As a burgeoning Ob/Gyn, I could easily abbreviate "save the dates" as "STDs" and chuckle thinking about chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and strawberry cervix, but I'll save us all that awkwardness. You're welcome.)

One of the things that bugged me about our 21-month engagement was that early on there was little I could legitimately do to start making plans. The venue and date were gotten out of the way early on, and I chose my dress on my first-and-only shopping trip, but held off on ordering it until this summer. I was in a crafty designing mode and had nothing to design!

(Again, I'm now kicking myself that we still don't have a DJ, but one story at a time now...)

I don't know where I got the idea, but I really wanted to make a postcard for our save the dates, and I thought a photo of us would make for a good postcard. Postcards are good because they cost less to send than a card in an envelope, and they save paper -- cheap AND environmentally friendly! So after we had our free engagement session, there was one photo that immediately tickled my creativity neurons as being perfect for a photo postcard:



I envisioned a line or two at the top, and the bulk of the information at the bottom, among the grass. Plus, I'm still kind of embarrassed about a picture of us being all lovey-dovey hanging on everyone's refrigerators, so I liked this one because we're not the complete focus of the picture -- we're kind of small and blurry. In my head, I knew what I wanted it to look like, but I wasn't sure I had the proper tools to make it happen. I have accomplished many projects using PowerPoint to do what I want to do, graphics-wise, but I wasn't sure it was the best thing this time around, so I explored my (free) options.

I ended up downloading Paint.net, OpenOffice.org, and Inkscape. I'm sure I used none of them to their full advantage, but I figured out which ones did what I wanted them to do, with some aggravation on my part, but with good results in the end. Let me know if you want more details. Essentially, I ended up using Paint.net for adjusting the size and resolution of my image, and using Open Office Draw to lay out the text and overall postcard design.

I spent one memorable afternoon and evening downloading and evaluating free fonts from dafont.com, much to my GPA's chagrin. After boucing some ideas off of Eric, we ended up choosing a script and plain text font: Renaissance and ParmaPetit.

And here's our final result!


I formatted it so that it could be printed using VistaPrint, which I chose after requesting samples from a bunch of different online printing websites. VistaPrint was the cheapest and I couldn't detect any appreciable difference in quality between VistaPrint and some of the others, which people on some of the forums had warned me about.

Things to keep in mind: Make sure your postcard is the right size for a postcard stamp; if it's larger than 4.25 x 6", it won't qualify for the 27-cent stamp. (Current postage size regulations can always be found at usps.com). Since I actually placed the VistaPrint order back in May, I opted for super-slow, 21-day shipping because I had plenty of time. In reality, it shipped the next day and arrived well within a week. I have to imagine that the overnight upgrade fees aren't worth it.

Then they sat in the office for 6 months, waiting to be addressed and sent out, and over Thanksgiving break, when Eric came to visit, we gathered all of our families' and friends' addresses and had an addressing marathon. I got to use the purple calligraphy marker I bought at Michaels a few months ago (!) and here is the result:

I know I've blogged about my handwriting before, but I had to show it off again :) Using the calligraphy marker was so much fun! To be authentic, I know I should use calligraphy pens and real ink, but let's face it: that's just not going to happen. And my (platonic, just have him to help pay the bills) roommate just got a wedding invitation in the mail the other day addressed in ballpoint pen, with handwriting nowhere near as nice as mine (not that I'm judging), so I feel OK about my shortcut here.

The current postcard stamps are the tropical fruit ones that a lot of people seem to not like, but I think they're pretty and colorful, so I didn't lose any sleep over them.

Here's the final cost breakdown:
Photo session: free! (But cost a lot of mental anguish)
Design software: free! (But cost a lot of initial mental anguish to learn to use)
VistaPrint:
-100 postcards: free (troll around the internet for coupon codes, or sign up for their mailing list or request free samples and they'll give you discount codes)
-uploading the front and back design: $4.99 each side (this is where they get you!)
-slow processing and shipping: $6.48
-TOTAL: $16.46, or 16 cents for each postcard. Sweet!
Stamps: 27 cents each, and we bought 80 (we're only sending 1 card to each family/household unit)
Calligraphy marker at Michaels: a few bucks, plus I used a coupon, plus I'll use the marker again for the invitations, so I'm not even going to factor this in

GRAND TOTAL: 38 cents for each postcard. A bargain!

So there you go! We're waiting for one final address from a friend, and then we'll send them off. The only wrinkle is that I'm now on the east coast until January 4, but I really want to send them before then, and I really want them to have a Louisville postmark. To solve this problem, I'm going to mail them all as a package to the Louisville postmaster and have him/her process them through the Louisville post office to get the desired postmark. A little OCD? Perhaps. But it's not going to cost me much money or effort to accomplish what I need to, so I'm going to let it slide this time. So watch your mail!

The downside? I don't think we're sending Christmas cards this year -- this was a big enough mail project, and between this and having to write thank you cards for all of my residency interviews, I'm done addressing envelopes for the time being :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bad timing

I was talking to Eric earlier and got a call on my call waiting, from an unfamiliar area code. By the time I switched over, though, I had missed the call and they didn't leave a voicemail, so I forgot about it.

This evening, I got another call from the same area code, and this time I picked it up in time. It was an automated message from UPS: "Hello, this is an automated message from UPS."

As I was wondering what package I was expecting from UPS (my Banana Republic pants shipment -- thanks, Alissa! -- came partly today, and it was delivered by USPS, not UPS), the automated UPS woman answered my question.

"A delivery is scheduled for tomorrow, December 4, from Pearl's Place..."

Pearl's Place?!?!?!!? The store I ordered my dress from!!?!?!!?!?!?!?!

TOMORROW?!!?!?!!?!??!!??!

The wonderful automated lady continued: "Someone must be present to sign for the package," (Um yeah, I hope so -- I wouldn't have it any other way for my dress!) "and it will be delivered sometime between 8 am and 7 pm. An exact time cannot be given."

And therein lies the problem: I'm leaving tomorrow morning at 9 for the airport, and I won't be back until Sunday night.

Missing the delivery won't be the biggest deal; even if my building manager can't sign for it, I'll just arrange for re-delivery next week.

It's the emotional nature of it: My dress will be here tomorrow and I probably won't get to see it until Monday!

Damn. Stupid residency interviews.

The anticipation is killing me!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Six Months!

Tomorrow is the six-month mark. We're on a normal wedding planning schedule now, people. Not that you'd be able to tell by what we've accomplished. (Here's a hint: we still don't have an officiant! Gulp.)

Six months means I need to start seriously thinking about getting in shape. I mean, start getting in shape.

Six months means it's only a short time before Southwest will open up its air reservations to include our wedding date.

Six months means it's time to send out save the dates (we're going to address them over Thanksgiving and then I can finally share them with you!).

Six months means I need to contact bakers and order a cake.

And six months means that when Eric moves into his winter shore rental this week (yay, heat!), it will be, as he said, "The last place I have to live without you."

Swoon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Usually I'm an inclusive wedding planner

A conversation from the other day

Me: Do you have any opinion about using a dark purple table runner on our reception tables?
Eric: I just don't want anything so long that it gets in people's way or in the way of things on the table.
Me: No, this would just be a strip of purple fabric no longer than the tablecloth, just for a punch of color against the white. No objections to the color or the idea or anything except potential interference with people's comfort?
Eric: No, I don't really care.
Me: Well that's good, because I already bought them. Done deal.
Eric: laughs

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shoe dilemma

So, you may or may not remember that I bought a pair of wedding shoes a year ago. (I know; a year ago?!?! Geez, our engagement has been long.)

They look like this:















Mossimo "Hailey," Target, $19.99, in silver (also comes in other colors)

They're fantastic. I always tend to gravitate toward tall, strappy heels, and these fit the bill perfectly.

Then, around Christmas last year, I bought these:















Mossimo "Heidi," Target, $19.99, in white (also comes in other colors, and I bought them in red also, and I always get complimented on them)

Another tall heel, this time a peep toe, d'Orsay heel, and a bow. Adorable, and very bridal!

Well, you also may or may not remember that about a year ago I mentioned

"a GREAT pair of purple pumps by Michael Shannon, style name "Anna," which seems to be a discount brand that only Off-Broadway Shoes carries, which means they do not exist on the internet at all apparently, but they were ADORABLE. If you see an Off-Broadway Shoes commercial, they're the first pair they show -- peep toe with striped purple fabric... hard to explain, but very cute. And I think because they are so difficult to find, I might just have to buy them. Sigh."
At the time, those Annas had a list price of $69.99, and an Off Broadway "discount" price of $49.99. Certainly not extravagant, but I had already bought the Heidis, so I put the purple Annas out of my mind. Sort of. A few months later, I popped into the store to see if they were still there, and they were -- and still at their original price.

A few weeks ago, though -- a whole year later, I should remind you -- I popped in again (really for no other reason than to check on these shoes, because I really don't need any other shoes right now) and quickly scanned the racks. No Annas. Had I missed them completely, or might they still be on the clearance racks now? I saw a pair in an 8, which was too big (I'm always somewhere between a 7-8, but I always have to try on the shoes to be sure), and scanned the 7.5 and 7 racks, finding only a pair of 7s in another (still pretty) color. And on sale for $34.99. If only I could find a pair of purple 7s!

Out of desperation and knowing that the clearance racks are not always properly organized, I continued on into the 6.5 section. And there was a 6.5 in purple. I have to admit to trying to squeeze my feet into them, Cinderella-style, but it would have been disaster to try to dance like that. And then, on the next row, I saw another pair, in purple. I assumed they, too, were 6.5 or even 6, but checked them just to be sure, and lo and behold -- 7s!!!!

And even better, there was some sort of sale going on, so they were discounted a further 10%, for a grand total, with tax, of $33.33. And here's what they look like:



Please excuse my ugly feet. I think I took these at the end of the day after being in the OR on my feet all day. Please also ignore how stumpy my legs look; I promise I don't actually have cankles, and I actually really love my legs!









Great shoes, right? Peep toes, d'Orsay heel, and purple! So which ones do I choose? The silver ones will go with my dress really well, the white ones will go with my dress reasonably well, and the purple ones don't go with my dress at all, but would look great in pictures (you know, those shoe shots that are so popular these days). Truthfully, I think I like the silver ones best, but a part of me wants to wear the purple ones just because they're purple (sounds crazy, but it's par for the course for me).

Help!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Food tasting!

About a month ago, Eric came to visit and we had our tasting with the caterer. At that point, we were pretty sure we were going to hire Chardeau's Classic Catering, because Michelle Pendleton was so great to work with and their prices were very reasonable, but we wanted to taste the food first to make sure. Some caterers I talked to wouldn't do a tasting until after we had signed a contract, and that really rubbed me the wrong way, so I appreciated that Michelle was totally happy to do a tasting for us.

Disclaimer: I only took one picture, at the very end. It's at the bottom of this post. It's not the best food picture in the world, so don't be disappointed once you get down there.

Here's what we tasted:

Appetizers to be passed during cocktail hour on the roof:

  • Eggplant and roasted red pepper bruschetta
  • Potstickers with ginger soy dipping sauce
  • Gorgonzola and caramelized onion crostini
All of them were delicious, although I thought the potsticker sauce was a little thick and sweet, so I am going to ask them to adjust that for us.

We will also have, but did not taste:
  • Vietnamese summer rolls (goi cuon) with nuoc mam (fish sauce) and nuoc leo (peanut sauce) for dipping -- one of my favorite appetizers ever.
  • Grilled chicken satays with chili garlic peanut sauce
  • Possibly a crudite station, but we'll see
Ahead of time, we decided on two different salads:
  • Arugula salad with lemongrass vinaigrette
  • Insalata misto (mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted almonds, gorgonzola cheese) with a balsamic-based vinaigrette
At the tasting, we just tried the salad dressings with a little bit of fresh baby spinach. I ended up not liking either vinaigrette very much. The lemongrass one was very smooth but was missing something that I couldn't pinpoint, and the balsamic-based vinaigrette had WAY too much balsamic vinegar in it. And for me to say that something has too much vinegar... well, that takes a lot. We couldn't really decide what to do about the salads anyway; we are having a buffet dinner, but I like the idea of having a plated salad served at the table to start dinner off. With two salads, the best Michelle could suggest was to simply alternate the salads so every other person would get the same one. I didn't love that idea, but I still didn't like the idea of having the salad on the buffet itself -- you either need another plate, which is awkward to juggle, or you put salad on your dinner plate and leave less room for "real" food, which would annoy me.

So now we're thinking of just one salad, something along the lines of the insalata misto, with one dressing, probably a balsamic vinaigrette, as long as Chip can make it a little less... tart.

For the dinner buffet we will have:
  • Grilled lemongrass chicken
  • Seared tuna topped with a blend of fire-roasted Italian plum tomatoes, olives, capers, and basil
  • Risotto Florentine (spinach)
  • Spicy eggplant, asparagus, and broccoli in ginger sauce
Well, we ended up scratching the veggies in ginger sauce. You see, we had an initial attempt at Asian + Italian (a nod to my heritage and cuisines we love), which works well for a mixture of hors d'oeuvres or two different salads, but the ginger sauce just competed with everything else on the main dinner plate, and on top of that, I didn't like it.

So on the spot, Chip whipped up some extra sauteed veggies in a little olive oil and garlic, and it was scrumptious. Decision made!

The lemongrass chicken was amazingly succulent, moreso than any chicken breast I've ever had. It wasn't an authentic Thai lemongrass chicken, but it used lemongrass in a very subtle way that I appreciated. I actually don't much like the authentic dish, because I always feel it to be too dry and the lemongrass flavor too strong, so this was perfect.

And the tuna... DELICIOUS! It was a huge tuna steak smothered in tomatoes, olives, and capers. It was cooked well done, but we decided as a group that medium would be a good compromise between our personal preferences (medium rare) and the good of the group (well done) for the actual dinner. And while neither Eric nor I likes olives, we decided to be grownups and believe that they serve a purpose in the dish and leave them in. Aren't you proud of our maturity?

The risotto was probably my favorite thing (have I said that a million times already?), and carbs or no carbs, I will be eating a ton of it for dinner on May 24.

What's that? The picture I promised? OK:

I totally forgot to take any pictures while we were at the tasting, but Michelle and Chip sent us home with all of the leftovers, and I finally remembered to take a picture when we opened them back up at home. The tasting was enough for lunch for both of us, and the leftovers were a great snack a few hours later! On the left you can see the new version of the sauteed veggies, and on the main plate are the remains of the tuna (right next to the fork), the chicken (on the right side of the plate), the creamy risotto goodness, and a pile of tomato-olive-caper topping. I know it's not the most appetizing picture, but it honestly looks just as delicious as I remembered and I cannot wait for more!

So that's that; the deposit is put down, we're sending in the contract this week, and one more vendor is crossed off the list!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Careers and Marriage

For pretty much my entire career to this point, I have been pursuing my end goal as an individual, by myself. Of course, Eric has long been there to provide support outside of school, and he definitely makes the social rounds with me and my med school friends (honestly, I'm pretty sure some of my friends like him more than they like me!), but in my official role as a future physician, it's just been me, myself, and I.

Until now.

I've heard horror stories about med students being grilled about their relationships and/or future family aspirations, and I've even heard about some med students taking off their engagement/wedding rings while on the interview trail, so prospective employers don't question their commitment to the job. Certain specialties, for sure, are less family-friendly than others, and I can definitely imagine that a single female surgery applicant might be more appealing to a program director than a married female surgery applicant; fewer distractions to draw them away from a 100-hour work week. On the whole, though, Ob/Gyn is pretty family-friendly (well, the people are pretty tolerant of families, even though the work schedule is decidedly not so), so it never really occurred to me to hide the fact that I am getting married.

In fact, I am using my relationship to my advantage. You see, it might look odd to some program directors to see an applicant from Kentucky applying to small programs on the east coast. And indeed, on both of the interviews I've been to so far, I got some pretty probing questions about why the heck I wanted to come to New Jersey/DC. But everyone was satisfied to hear that both my fiance and I hailed from the east coast and were looking to return. And, in fact, that my fiance is already working on the east coast and that I'm hoping to join him.

And while I'm happy to handle all of those relocation/marriage questions (none of them so far have even come close to being illegal) myself, I'm realizing that Eric has a role to play in all of this as well.

Most programs have a night-before-the-interview social event where you can meet the current residents in a more informal setting. And a lot of those programs say that I am welcome to bring a guest (implied: spouse/significant other) to the social event if I would like. Due to his work schedule, Eric will unlikely be able to come to very many of them, but I definitely get the sense that these programs are, in fact, looking for residents who have happy outside lives and are willing to create a work environment that fosters continued happy outside lives -- great for me!

And then I came across this article from the NY Times, which discusses the role of the spouse in the job application process. Of course, much to my chagrin, it talks solely about the female spouses of male job applicants, but whatever. What I did find interesting was the idea that the spouse herself could play a deciding factor in the applicant's success. To be honest, it makes sense, although it's a little scary because I have never thought of it before. And as much as I am not a traditional type of person, the majority of medicine is still very much seated in tradition, and I can imagine that spouses are secretly of interest to residency programs, in both a positive and negative sense.

In fact, while on my OB rotation last month, the upper-level residents were discussing interview diners and were saying they always instructed their own spouses to talk up the spouses of the interviewees. And sometimes, the spouses shared information that was of use to the residents. Like, for instance, the spouse that disclosed that they really wanted to stay in their home state of ___, but that our program was strong, so the interviewee was checking it out. Oops.

So I have instructed Eric on what he can and cannot say during any significant other vetting situations. Luckily, I only applied to two programs outside of our desired geographical region, and I'm only keeping one of those interviews (my home program), and Eric can't come to the dinner. And of course, I've already shared with a few different people here that I'm not really trying to stay, so it doesn't matter anyway -- I've already shot myself in my own foot on that front.

But, whew, this process is exhausting! Explaining how I got to Kentucky, and why I want to leave, and making sure Eric sticks to his script as well, is a lot more than I thought I would have to deal with. All this for a job. That allows me to have a happy marriage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I know it's been a while...

...and believe me, I miss blogging for all of you. I just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about you, but I've been really really really busy these last few weeks. And before I can tell you about the caterer we booked and the tasting we had, I have to actually book the caterer. And if I'm too busy to book the caterer, well, blogging has to take a backseat, unfortunately.

But don't worry, there are lots of updates for you! Caterer, chair rentals, more escapades into purple bridesmaid dresses and fabric swatches, and a beautiful new pair of purple shoes. Purple shoes!!!

And if you really do care about me, and not just my wedding planning (just kidding, I know you only care about the wedding planning ;), you will be happy to know that my busy-ness involves flying all over the country interviewing for residency. Since Eric is counting on my future Ob/Gyn salary to support his poor liberal arts career (poor in the financial sense only), I'd better keep my end of the bargain and find a job!

Just kidding, just kidding. He loves me for more than my future earning potential.

Updates soon, I promise!

Monday, October 13, 2008

JoP Update

A few days after the last debacle, I finally got in touch with JoP #1 (the recurrent amnesia guy), and he told me to just call him a couple days before we wanted to meet, and he would meet up with us. So a late last week, I gave him a call and left a message telling him when I wanted to meet. He never -- and still hasn't -- called back.

JoP #2 called me back a few days after the first time I talked to her and was super-excited about meeting us for a consultation. For a $50 fee. I accepted, but immediately planned to cancel. I know $50 isn't THAT much, especially for these kinds of things, but this one keeps adding fees (the rehearsal is extra, too), and it just doesn't seem right.

We met with JoP #3 last weekend, when Eric was in town, and he has an interesting demeanor. He called me earlier that afternoon to confirm our meeting, which I appreciated. When we got to the courthouse, though, he met us in the lobby and asked, "Do you have your witnesses?" Immediately understanding what he thought, I quickly said, "No, no, we're not here to get married, we're here to meet with you." He apologized, asked us our names (which he had already done on the phone), and started walking us up to his office. He was chit-chatting with us, and, in the course of telling a story, asked our names again. Less than 2 minutes after the first time. I was not happy.

JoP #3 ended up being very nice, but I just don't think he's the guy for us. On the plus side, he adamantly sticks to the JoP-agreed fee of $75, while JoP #2 has raised her price to $125 for the ceremony, $75 for the rehearsal, and $50 for a consultation. JoP #3 doesn't believe that's right, and told us that if money is the hurdle preventing us from getting married, to be honest with him, because he has given discounts and performed ceremonies for free before. To him, the important thing is the marriage, and $75 shouldn't stand in the way.

Not that the $75 is what's standing in the way of us using him, but I like that this guy's heart is in the right place. He's a Baptist minister in his outside life, and serves as chaplain for the city jail. He gave us his card, to use or pass on to friends, to be used if we ever find ourselves behind bars. In that case, he would take care of us, "and get you a sandwich so you don't starve." I repeat: a good heart. His mother-in-law was also Wilma Rudolph, the track star, which is pretty cool.

I was also able to get him to dish on the other two JoPs. He told us that JoP #1 is a retired police officer, and is known for being difficult to reach. "He's retired, so he doesn't have the drive" to keep up with his marriage ceremonies, JoP #3 explained. I don't know what JoP #2 does for a living, but JoP #3 said he was aware of her fee tables, and disapproved. Apparently, when they were all elected, they all agreed to the $75 fee, and are supposed to stick with it. If I cared more, I would call JoP #2 and attempt to hold her to it, but 1) I don't think I want an officiant who I have to bargain down to an apparently previously agreed-upon fee, and 2) Maybe JoP #3 isn't teling the truth, so I wouldn't want to confront JoP #2 without some proof.

So here's where we stand:
JoP #1 is dead to us, since he won't return phone calls.
JoP #2 is pretty much dead to us, since she wants (comparatively) exorbitant fees.
JoP #3 is a nice guy, but his initial forgetfullness still bothers me, and something about his personality just didn't click with us, so we probably won't be using him.

Where does that leave us?

  • I have the name of a non-denominational minister who comes highly recommended from the local Knotties who charges $250 for the ceremony (consultation included) and $75 for the rehearsal. I don't like those prices, and I really don't want a religious ceremony, even if it is non-denominational.
  • The father of a med student in the class below me is a judge, and he apparently does weddings sometimes for people he knows. The student enthusiastically told me to let her know if I want her to ask her father for us, but I don't know how sincere the offer really was. I guess it can't hurt to ask, though.
  • My paternal grandfather is a retired minister. I don't think he can legally marry us in Kentucky, and there are a lot of emotional issues I need to work through to get to the point of asking him, plus there's the whole I-don't-want-a-religious-ceremony thing, but at the same time, it would be nice to have my grandfather marry us. And JoP #3, when I broached the subject, said that if we wanted my grandfather to marry us, he would just do the paperwork and let my grandfather do the whole ceremony, which is very generous of him. So it's an option.
I'm going to forget about it for a few weeks and maybe an answer will come to me in my sleep. Any other ideas would be welcome.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free photography!

I can't believe this, but we won an engagement session with the fabulous DC photographer Carmen Fong! To win, I had to submit our engagement story, and while I love me some spotlight, it's a little embarrassing to have our story on someone else's blog. It's so personal, you know?

Well, whatever. If it gets us free stuff, so be it :)

Here's the catch: I'm in Louisville, and Eric's in AC. We have to figure out a time to get down to DC for the photo shoot, but in between all my residency interviews back east, I'm sure we'll find a time that works for everyone. (By the way, I've gotten a bunch of interviews, which makes me very happy!!!)

In the meantime, I have to start brainstorming ideas for places in the DC metro area to have the photo shoot, keeping in mind that it will probably be November or December. Tidal Basin? National Mall? There won't be any cherry blossoms, but those are still my favorite spots ever. Too bad the triceratops is long-gone from outside the Natural History Museum, or else there would definitely be a triceratops shot in the bunch. Georgetown at Christmas time, which is another one of my favorite things? The UMD campus? The zoo? Ideas, please!

Also, go check out Carmen's awesome photography skills on her blog. I'm so excited!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tag! You're It!

I got tagged by Introverted Bride today, so here you go:

4 Things I Did Today (since midnight):

  • Did a bunch of ultrasounds, including my first transvaginal one.
  • Checked three cervixes. In one, I could totally tell the external os was dilated 1 cm, but I couldn't reach the internal os to figure out it was closed. In another, I could feel the head RIGHT THERE, but couldn't reach back up behind it to feel the cervix, which was only 4 cm dilated. In the last one, there that head was again, but now I'm so unsure of myself that I couldn't tell where the cervix was. Need more practice, desperately. Also: small hands are not good for obstetrics.
  • Watched Project Runway this morning when I got home (thank goodness for DVR). Although I loved Kenley and her totally cute 50s dresses, her attitude is seriously getting on my nerves, and she needs to go. And although Suede's third-person speak was a tad annoying, I heart Suede, and I was sad to see him leave. But oh my god, did you see the teaser for next week? What is up with everyone crying?! I don't know how I'm going to wait until Wednesday night -- I mean, Thursday morning.
  • Slept from 10 am to 6 pm. Now I'm going to be wired all night, even though I'm off for the weekend. I was hoping to force myself up around 2 so that I would be tired tonight at a decent hour, but two phone calls from Eric to try to wake me up (on my request) were useless. So I foresee lots of late-night TV tonight. Adjusting to a night schedule is hard! How am I going to last a whole month at this?

4 Things On My To-Do List:
  • Finish unpacking. I got back to Louisville last Saturday, dumped all my stuff in the living room, and started work on Sunday. Since then, all I've literally accomplished when I'm home is sleeping, showering, and making coffee.
  • Finish editing an article for my side job
  • Finish reviewing 79 articles for a literature review I'm trying to get published
  • Figure out what we want to have the caterer make us from our working menu for our tasting next week! Yay! A wedding task! (Actually, there are many, many more wedidng tasks to do, but I won't break the rules of the tag game.)

4 Of My Guiltiest Pleasures:
  • Long showers. Our apartment has its own water heater, which is nice, because I know no one else is to blame for using up our hot water, but it's bad, because individual water heaters tend to be small. So I can use up all my hot water in a 15-20 minute shower. Which I do when I need to splurge on myself.
  • Reality/contest/makeover TV. I like to pretend I hate the concept of reality TV, but I have my favorites: ANTM and Project Runway, of course, and What Not to Wear, Say Yes to the Dress, and a variety of others. Lately, though, I've found myself getting sucked into the rest of the Bravo lineup, and I am now DVR-ing Top Design, The Rachel Zoe Project, and Tabatha's Salon Takeover. When you come home at 8 am after being up all night, it's just easy to space out in a show like that, with no real plot to follow.
  • Sleep. Back in college, I heard the advice that there are three main focuses (foci) in life: sleep, study, social life. You only have enough time to focus on two of the three, and the message was sort of that social life should be the priority. Well, for me, sleep has always been my #1, at the expense of both studying and social life, depending on the week. I have managed to adjust to my crazy work schedule, and I know it's only going to get worse when I get into residency, but any time I get to sleep in, I do.
  • Eating out. This shouldn't really be classified as a "guilty" pleasure, because I LOVE food. I guess the guilty part is that eating out can get expensive, but whatever. I also like to cook, so it evens out in the end. The bottom line is that I like good food.

4 Random Facts About Me:
  • I was born on Valentine's Day
  • I am only 5'1". Eric is 6'2". We look ridiculous with each other, to be honest. I know tall girls are mad at me for taking him.
  • My first job was at Burger King. I hope they someday make a commercial full of famous people who started out at Burger King, like that one McDonald's had a few years ago. I need them to wait until I'm famous first, though.
  • If I ever get sick of delivering babies and cutting women open (not that I can see that ever happening!), I'm going to be a florist/event planner.

Now it's my turn to tag. It's your turn to blog:

Secrets of a native Las Vegas bride (although she may not have time now that she's Weddingbee's Miss Dumpling!)

Trip to the Altar

Last Kiss as a Single Girl

The Life of a Childless Housewife

Get to it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I just bought my wedding dress!

Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!

My original budget for a wedding dress was $500. I knew it could be done, but that it would limit me to simpler silhouettes and lower-budget stores. I didn't think that would be a problem, and I felt it was a fun challenge to meet. After all, I knew I was never going to have a Vera Wang, and I refused on principle to have a dress that cost more than $1000, so it wasn't like I was compromising my goals tremendously with a budget of $500.

A year ago, when I found this dress, I knew it was going to be the one. It was anything but simple -- full of intricate embroidery, and my budget immediately went out the window. I started pricing it, and prices ranged from the $1050 the shop in Louisville wanted to about $700 or so from various online retailers. HouseofBrides.com, my standard for all things inexpensive in the wedding world, originally wanted $700, but now wants $750 (I guess due to the worsening economy). The challenge got harder, but I got more determined.

In my Googling, I came across some of the Chinese knock-off websites, like Periwing.com, that promised great things for less than $200. I considered it, de-considered it, re-considered it, and then began considering it seriously.

My reasoning was, "Even if it's not an EXACT replica, it will be pretty good, and that's good enough for me." And if it's really bad, I can afford to lose $200 -- the benefits are worth the risk.

Then I saw some pictures of actual knock-offs, and while they were pretty good, therefore meeting my standard, they weren't EXACT replicas, and a feeling of doubt started to grow in the pit of my stomach. I succumbed to the wedding industry, dammit.

So then I turned to pre-owned and sample sales. The problem with me buying pre-owned is that I'm very short, and I need to order the shortest version of this dress. Because of the design of the dress, there's no place to shorten the dress. There are no horizontal seams on the dress at which to pull up the skirt -- not at the hem, not at the waist. Multiple seamstresses have told me that it would be very difficult to shorten, so my best bet is to get the shorter version off the bat. So none of the pre-owned or sample dresses I found worked. Stupid tall people.

One particularly depressing day, I discussed it with Eric. I was no longer 100% comfortable with a knock-off, I couldn't find a used dress that would work, and I was unfortunately in love with a dress that was out of my budget and if I were going to order it new, it was getting close to the time I'd have to do it. We discussed it some more, and we decided that I would keep an eye out on the pre-owned market, but if I hadn't found one by the time my rotation in Philly ended at the end of August, I would start the process of buying new, and we would just have to adjust our budget. Did I mention I totally love this guy?

So last week I went through my old emails of price quotes, trying to figure out who would give me the best deal on the dress. I came across one from Pearl's Place, who told me a year ago that they couldn't give me a quote over email, but would be happy to help me out if I called. So, a year later, I called.

$525, plus $12 shipping.

SRSLY!?!?!!?!??! That's so close to my original budget, it's ridiculous! WHY didn't I call this place a year ago?

All that was left for me to do was to figure out my measurements and place my order! Unfortunately, I left my shoes back in Louisville, but my friend David was coming east for a rotation in DC, so I got him to stop in my apartment a few weeks ago to pick them up for me. This past weekend, I got them from him, and yesterday, I went to a store here at the shore that carried the designer's line and tried on some other styles in various sizes.

Since Pearl's Place doesn't do online orders, I sent them an email last night with all of my order information and shipping address, and asked them to call me today to get my credit card number. I wanted my order to be in writing, just in case anything happens in the future. So this morning, the wonderful salesperson from Pearl's Place called me and took my credit card number, and I placed my order!!!!!

It's a huge relief, and I'm so excited! Talk about a buzz kill, though -- now I have to wait 12-16 weeks for it to come in.

What? You want to see a picture?

Well... OK.



The model is wearing it in ivory with gold embroidery, but I'm going to get it with silver embroidery instead.

Like it? I do! And I'm so glad it all worked out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Researching Justices of the Peace

Our county clerk's website lists three Justices of the Peace (JoP) available for performing wedding ceremonies. In a fit of attempted productivity back in March (a full 14 months before the wedding), I called JoP #1. After playing a bit of phone tag, he took down my name, number, and wedding date, and told me, "OK, you're in my book! Call me this fall and we'll set up a meeting."

"Um, do you have a fee?" I meekishly asked, completely thrown off by having apparently already booked an officiant, just like that.

"We'll talk about it later! Talk to you in a few months!"

I didn't bother trying to contact the other two JoPs at that point, because I realized that it was very, very early to be trying to set up an officiant.

Today, a few months later, I tried again.

JoP #1 didn't answer, so I left a message asking if he could meet with us in a few weeks when Eric comes to Louisville to get some wedding stuff done. His voicemail message concludes with, "God bless."

JoP #2 was a woman with a stern voice and Kentucky accent. She was very friendly, told me her prices, said she was very willing to work with us on a wedding ceremony. She said she was free for our wedding date, but would have to check her schedule for an October 3 meeting, and would call me back in 20 minutes. That was 5 hours ago.

JoP #3 was a man with a friendly southern accent. He told me his fees, and when I asked about his ceremony, he said, "I use a traditional wedding ceremony from the Bible, with the lines from 13 Corinthians, 'love is patient, love is kind,' and most people do a unity candle, and I say a prayer." Which, no offense to anyone, is exactly the wedding ceremony I DON'T want. He did say he would be willing to work with us on the ceremony, though, so I guess there's room for adjustments. He also ended our phone call with, "God bless."

If a non-clergyperson ended a phone call with "God bless" in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland, I would be very, very surprised. In Kentucky, it's pretty common, so I'm not completely surprised by it anymore, but still weirded out by it a little. Is it OK for a judge to say it? I don't know.

Anyway, a couple hours later, JoP #1 returns my call. I explain what he supposedly already knew, and what I reminded him of in my voicemail, namely, my name, wedding date, and phone number, and that I wanted to meet with him on October 4. "Sure! What time?" I told him that any time was fine for us, and asked what time was best for him. "Let me check my book. I'll call you back. What's your name?" And after I told him, he asked, "What's your phone number?" At this point, I'm a little weirded out, because he just called me on my phone number, but whatever.

About an hour after that, he calls again. "Hi, this is JoP #1, calling you about your October 4 wedding!" I explained that no, our wedding is in May, but we wanted to meet with him on October 4. "Oh... [as though this is news to him] OK, well, let me call you back. I'll call you that morning to set up a time." (At least, that's what I heard.) "You'll call me the morning of October 4 to meet that day?" I said. "No, no, I'll call you back tomorrow, but we'll most likely meet that morning." Ooooooh, OK -- that makes a little more sense.

A little while later, I get another phone call. "Hi, this is JoP#3, are you here yet?"

"I'm sorry?"

"This is JoP #3. We're meeting today about your upcoming wedding. Are you here yet?"

"No, this is Holly, my wedding's in May, and I thought we were scheduled to meet on Friday, October 3?"

"Oh, right. Sorry. I have the wrong number. I'm meeting with someone else today."

"Oh, no problem. I'll see you October 3," I tried to say as he brusquely said goodbye. The wrong number thing is kind of weird, because I still have a Maryland area code on my cell phone, so you would think he would have realized he was dialing a weird number. But maybe not.

So JoP#1 has recurrent amnesia, JoP#2 hasn't called me back yet (but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and try again tomorrow), and JoP#3 is already getting me confused with another client and basically performs religious ceremonies.

Wonderful.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bridesmaid dresses, part 3

A year ago, when we got engaged, I was pretty resigned to the fact that I wouldn't have a lot of girly shopping time with my friends or family. I'm in the midwest/south, everyone else is on the east coast, (um, not to mention my parents are living in Brussels now) and we are ALL super busy.

I was going to be super-accommodating about the bridesmaid dresses anyway, but I knew it would also help for me to have that mindset since we couldn't get everyone together for a big bridesmaid dress try-on session. I never even thought twice about it; I just told the girls to find a Mori Lee dress they liked in the color eggplant and to let me know when they had decided.

But then, I came to the east coast for two and a half months. And even then, I didn't really put it all together. But then, in the last week, I've been lucky enough to see all of my bridesmaids but one. SIX of them! And not only was there eating and drinking and chick flicks and general all-around fun, but we got to look at dresses also!

First, I got together for dinner last week with my two friends and bridesmaids from high school in Cranbury, NJ, and we ended up going to a local bridal salon just for fun. They didn't carry Mori Lee, but they carried lots of other designers, and nearly all of them had the color I'm looking for (side note: when I started looking for bridesmaid dresses a year ago, NO ONE had the color I was looking for. I was having a fashion-forward wedding. Now, EVERYONE has the color I'm looking for, and suddenly my choice of eggplant is the trendiest thing out there. Just remember: I chose eggplant before the designers did!). There were also lots of choices for green dresses, in case any of the girls want to wear green. While I was continually saying, "Whatever, I don't care" to my friends' questions (short or long? satin or chiffon? sleeveless or sleeves?), they made some decisions on their own.

So by majority opinion, we think short, tea-length dresses are better than long dresses, in order for everyone to have a similar level of formality.

Yesterday, I got together with my two friends and bridesmaids from college, in the Baltimore suburbs. One of the girls was down for the weekend from Pittsburgh, and it was total serendipity that we were both planning to be in Maryland the same weekend, because the three of us have tried hard to get together before, and we can never find a free weekend in common! My two sisters came up from our house in southern Maryland, and the five of us went to a bridal shop that did carry Mori Lee.

Our experience at the shop near Baltimore was OK, but not great. The salespeople, while nice, weren't very knowledgeable. They told me that certain dresses were available in certain colors, when I knew for a fact that they weren't, based on the catalog I picked up from another shop a few months ago. They had no idea what I was referring to, and seemed flummoxed by the fact that I knew so much, and even had a catalog ("Where did you get that?!?" -- in a confused/amazed, not antagonistic tone). It was disheartening. On top of that, they were the kind of shop that rips the tags out of their dresses, which I think is evil. I actually think it might be illegal, but we found our way around it -- first of all, while they ripped the tags out of the back of the dresses, many of the designers print their names on the straps used to hang the dress on the hanger, so it wasn't too hard to figure out. Plus, of course, just our luck, no pictures allowed.

Anyway, decisions were made by my two college bridesmaids and sisters as well. Yay! I like decisions, especially when they involve people picking out their own clothes!

Here is the dress sister #1 (the older of my two younger sisters) has picked out:


Bari Jay #756
, made of "Bella" chiffon, which comes in the perfect shade of eggplant.


Here is what sister #2 (the younger of my two younger sisters) has picked out:

After Six #6518, in Nu Georgette with matte satin trim. Both the trim and the dress can come in any color in those lines, which is pretty cool. My sister could get all purple, all green, or purple with another color trim, like cream, ivory, black, or even green to coordinate perfectly! (It will be up to her.) The only problem is that we aren't yet 100% sure whether the color "aubergine" or "bordeaux" is the one we're looking for -- I'll have to go back to a shop with swatches to see.

During the fitting room escapades, both of my college friend bridesmaids expressed concern that the softer fabrics like chiffon wouldn't be as forgiving for our late-twenties mid-sections, and I agree (about myself and my midsection! Not them and theirs!!), so they looked at satin dresses instead and found one they liked:


After Six #6513, in "Renaissance" satin. The picture shows it in eggplant, but I think it looks different on the computer screen than in real life. This morning I put in an order for a swatch of fabric ($15 for 2 6x6" swatches! The worst part is, I can't believe I actually paid for it...) to see if the color works. Of course, right after I placed the order was when my sister told me about her interest in the aubergine color in the nu georgette line, but I can't bear to place another fabric order. I'm planning to go to the extremely nice bridal shop in Louisville that I keep bothering and see if they will cut me a tiny snippet from their swatch card instead. I think they will. I find it very frustrating that different types of fabric come in different colors, although I understand (sort of) why. I just wish it could be a little easier, to accommodate the accommodating brides like me!

Surprisingly, some of the Mori Lee dresses that looked great on the models looked odd in real life. Actually, that's not very surprising at all, is it? For instance, both of these dresses were strong contenders from the website/catalog collection, but didn't fare so well on our real-life models:


These dresses were essentially the same from the bust down; the only difference was that #761 is strapless and #767 has spaghetti straps. The problem was that at the waist, the pleats were constructed in such a way as to make the skirt bubble up and out from the waist, instead of lying flat and creating a normal A-line skirt. Even on my sister, who has the body of a super model (seriously, I'd submit her for ANTM except she's not quite tall enough), it looked poufy and awkward and gave her an unflattering waistline. Kind of like this, only without being colonial and therefore at least kind of cool:


They also tried on this Mori Lee dress, which looks absolutely amazing and adorable, but it doesn't come in anywhere near the right colors. Darn.

Later, after we had left, one of my college bridesmaids remembered that she has a dark purple dress already, and wondered if it might be appropriate. She showed it to me last night, and I think it's perfect! We're just going to double-check the shade of purple once I get my swatch, but otherwise, she's good to go. How randomly perfect is that! She said she bought the dress a year or so ago on sale at Macy's. Even better than being able to wear a bridesmaid dress again in the future is being able to wear a dress you already have as a bridesmaid dress.

And as for my high school bridesmaids? Well, at the shop in NJ, they didn't cut the tags out of dresses, allowed us to take pictures, and might have made more of an effort to take down my information and enter me into their system (which I did not want), but were overcome by other walk-ins, so we were left to our own devices -- yay!

First up, seeing how eggplant and green look together:

I was being a horrible photographer that night, and my best friends' faces don't look that great, so I cropped them. It's totally my fault; I take full responsibility.

The purple dress on the left is Alfred Angelo #6904, in grape. The color is gorgeous, but the dress looks a little young for us. The green dress on the right is Jim Hjelm #JH5710T, in moss. Because of my flash, it looks a lot brighter than it does in real life. In real life, it's a gorgeous dark green, and looks pretty much exactly the same as it does here. I think the two colors look fabulous together.


Next up, we have two dresses in the same color, but in different fabrics. On the left, we have what I think is Jim Hjelm #JH5653T, in eggplant chiffon, and on the left we have Bill Levkoff #901 in eggplant satin. Again, I think the dresses look fabulous together, and any difference between the colors in satin and chiffon is barely noticeable. The Bill Levkoff dress is a floor-length one, while the Jim Hjelm is a tea-length, and this was the combo that sparked the decision to not mix lengths, because the girls felt the level of formality between the two was just too different.

Then, we played with different shades of purple:

On the right, the same possibly-Jim Hjelm dress in the "right" color, and on the left, a Jordan dress in plum -- I think it's Jordan #520, although the model is wearing the shoulder a little differently.

I was OK with the color combo at first, especially when you add in the possibility of a green to the mix, but for some reason, by the end of the night, we decided it would be easier to keep the purple color choice standard.

We also played around with different shades of green, but I didn't take any pictures. What we focused on was the Jim Hjelm moss color and the Alfred Angelo clover, which is a lighter green. Here is my ghetto photoshopped (actually, I used Paint.net) montage of my vision:

Clockwise from top left: Bill Levkoff satin eggplant; Jim Hjelm moss chiffon; Jim Hjelm eggplant chiffon; Alfred Angelo clover satin.

I think they all look pretty damn good together!

My high school bridesmaids didn't choose dress styles; we were getting hungry and wanted to go to dinner, so they'll keep looking on their own.

So that leaves one bridesmaid who I did not get to see this week -- my FSIL. She was actually the brains behind the idea of having the girls in two (or now three!) different colors. She was in a wedding today in Maine, and the bridesmaids all wore Jim Hjelm dresses in moss green. Jim Hjelm is actually a pretty pricey label, at least by my standards, so I wouldn't ask my bridesmaids to buy any of those dresses unless they really wanted to. At the same time, though, it would be nice if my FSIL could wear her dress again, since it would fit into our color scheme so well. Plus, she had to sink additional money into the dress to get it altered to fit her ever-expanding (due to pregnancy!) belly, so it seems like a waste to only get to wear it once. Of course, by the time our wedding rolls around, she will be 4 months post-partum, so we'll probably have to get the dress taken in again, but that will be OK. I actually haven't talked to her yet about all of this, but I know she reads this blog, so Paige: What do you want to wear?

This morning I sent an email to all of the girls with a summary of our decisions: tea-length or unformal floor-length gowns, in any of the following designers/colors:
-Mori Lee eggplant
-Jim Hjelm eggplant
-Bill Levkoff European eggplant
-Alfred Angelo grape
-After Six, Renaissance satin, eggplant
-Bari Jay, eggplant
-B2, bordeaux
-Da Vinci, aubergine
-After Six, Nu Georgette, aubergine (probably)
-Jim Hjelm moss
-Alfred Angelo clover
-Mori Lee patina, maybe

As long as no one is the odd person out, I'm happy to mix colors, styles, and fabrics.

Overall, I'm really happy I was able to go shopping with so many of my bridesmaids. They all thought it was productive, which makes me happy, and we're getting ever-closer to a decision! My goal is to order the dresses by Thanksgiving, which will give everyone plenty of time to get alterations if needed. I'm getting really excited about this and I can't wait to see what everyone's final decision is and how they will all look together!

What do you think about our color palette?

Ooooh, Letterpress!

I have not yet lauded the delights of letterpress stationery -- specifically, letterpress wedding invitations -- but there will be time for that later. I promise.

Right now, I must alert you to this very awesome and cool contest going on over at The Dingbat's Agenda, a blog about all things delicious and letterpressed and stationer-y. Up for grabs is a full wedding letterpressed invitation suite! SWEEET!

Go enter yourself! Or don't -- a better chance for me!

See all the details here:
The Dingbat's Agenda: GIVEAWAY 3, A Sweet Suite

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Anti-Wedding

My sister and bridesmaid sent me a link to the Washington Post's Wedding Week coverage, and there's some good stuff there. Money tips, music tips, a video slideshow of a baker making a wedding cake. The best thing I've seen so far, though, is a piece called The Anti-Wedding.

It chronicles the two authors' quest to plan the ultimate anti-wedding. They envision dead leaves in the bouquet and dirty city pigeons instead of doves being released at the end of the ceremony. The wedding they ultimately plan has no resemblance at all to your average Wedding Industrial Complex affair, and it actually sounds kind of fun -- a death and taxes scaveger hunt? Cool!

This was my favorite part (the writing is just so good):

"One couple catches our attention with a quirky coincidence: Her name is Jaqi Ross. His name is Chris Rossi. Ross and Rossi live together in . . . Rosslyn. These two, both 34, are open to just about anything, such as getting married in a morgue, Jaqi suggests, or on their living room couch. There will be no lace anywhere near this wedding. Also, she hates flowers.

We are convinced that this is our couple. And then we are rewarded with a glorious bonus: It turns out that Chris is a pathologist, and Jaqi works for the IRS. This will be the union of life's only two certainties . . . death and taxes. A themed anti-wedding."


Death and taxes. Classic!

What the writers got wrong, though, is their sense that they are the only ones who want an anti-wedding. Based on the bazillion wedding websites I read (none of them being The Knot), there are lots of brides out there planning nontraditional weddings. Some look more nontraditional than others, for sure, but there are plenty of brides trying to make a statement and have a unique, non-Wedding Industrial Complex wedding.

For me, it's about practicality and frugality. Do I want something that looks like a traditional wedding gown? Yes. But it has to be at my price, and no lure of a designer's name is going to change my mind. I was even contemplating getting a Chinese knock-off -- and contemplating it quite seriously -- for a while. But I'm not hiring a florist. Flowers are so beautiful in and of themselves, so I'm just going to get a bunch of them a couple days before the wedding and plop them in some containers for the reception. Pay someone to calligraph envelopes in my wedding colors? No, thanks. Do my own calligraphy because I have passable handwriting, and since I'm doing it myself, it may as well be done with a purple pen? Sure!

I have other examples, but you get the point.

Maybe I'm just surrounding myself with inspiration from non-Wedding Industrial Complex sources, so my viewpoint is skewed, but I really think there are a lot of anti-wedding brides (and grooms) out there. Maybe this article will inspire a larger audience to think outside of the box as well.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Photographer! Part 2

I know I promised the rest of my photographer story a long time ago. Well, today's your lucky day! (Plus, two posts in one day!)

So to recap, we had met with 4 photographers, and #4 was looking like our guy. The next morning, we met with photographer #5, Coury Deeb of 502 Photography, over coffee. My impression of Coury was positive, and I really liked his photos. (With all of our photographer meetings, I had asked to see examples of weddings from start to finish, which I highly recommend you do also.) Coincidentally, he also used to live in Philadelphia, and has done wedding photography there, and I felt like we had the same sort of city vibe going on. Since our venue is downtown with lots of cool architecture, I think he will do a great job of taking advantage of our surroundings and creating some cool, funky shots.

At the time I had first contacted Coury to set up a meeting, I took note of his package prices, but on the morning of our meeting when I went to double-check, I noticed he had raised his prices, and he was now technically out of our budget. I raised this concern with him, and he explained that he had just raised his prices for the first time in nearly two years, but since I had contacted him before his new prices had gone into effect, he would be willing to compromise and meet us halfway. I thought this was extremely fair, and also very gracious of him.

Over the next week, I bugged him for more examples of his work, and he shared some online portfolios from other shoots. Everything was awesome, so we signed the contract! Our package does not inclue an engagement session, but since we already had one, I don't feel the need to have those photos. The other advanatage of an engagement session, of course, is to have the opportunity to work with your photographer and get to know how he or she works and how you interact, before the day of your wedding. We're not going to have that experience, but it's not the end of the world. I can tell by all of our interactions so far that Coury is really fun and easy-going, but ready to take charge when he needs to, and that's just the sort of personality I'm looking for.

(I don't have access to any of his photos to re-post here, and I wouldn't do it without his permission, so if you want to see examples of Coury's work, head on over to his website yourself.)

Here are the other things Coury offers that I thought were really cool:
-No time limit on the wedding day. He's ours for the whole day, which means I won't be worried about a clock ticking down. Don't worry, I won't be mean and make him show up at 6 am or anything!
-Same-day edits that will be shown during the reception. How cool is that! It will be a fun thing for our guests (and us!) to see.
-Rights to all of our digital negatives. This was one of my #1 must-haves when looking for a photographer. Right now, I just don't see a wedding album fitting into our budget or our lifestyles (moving a lot, small apartment), so I would prefer our photos to be on our computers. If we want to get an album later on, or create one ourselves, we can.

I'm really excited to work with Coury next spring. In the meantime, I've been tagging photos I really like in Google Notebook (he said he wouldn't mind if I did that) to show him. Some are poses I think work really well with a large wedding party (which we definitely have), and others are reminders to me of detail shots I want to make sure he gets. This is one aspect of the wedding I'm really, really happy with, and I can't wait to see our photos!

License and Registration, Please

Well, no license yet, but we did create our registries this weekend.

We knew the weather was going to be bad on Saturday due to Hurricane Hanna, so we planned to spend the day inside with a scanning gun instead. It was a good decision, because the rain was torrential. Sorry, no pictures of Eric scanning a $600 set of pots, but here are some of my thoughts after the whole ordeal:

  • Don't try to visit too many stores in one day. We planned on two, but the first one had a lot of waiting around (we showed up extra early to Macy's due to the rain, hoping they could squeeze us in, but they couldn't, so we waited around for a while), which killed our energy. Then, at the end of the day, we popped into Target to run an actual errand and I ended up creating a registry there, too. Three in one day is tough on the brain and the feet.
  • Right now we're registered at four places: Macys, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and MyRegistry.com. I wouldn't register at any more stores than that, but I'm wondering if Target is even necessary, because we're only registered for a couple things there (wine glasses), so it could easily be merged into the MyRegistry.com one. That might make things more complicated or less complicated; I'm not sure.
  • MyRegistry.com is really cool -- it allows you to create a wish list from the entire Internet, which gives us the ability to request things from smaller stores or Internet giants like Amazon. It also adds in the registry function of allowing people to indicate that something has been purchased and remove it from the list -- this is the main difference between MyRegistry and a lot of other online wish lists. I also like it because I can indicate if an item is available from multiple places -- after all, why should someone be forced to buy a Le Creuset dutch oven from Williams Sonoma when the exact same thing is available at other places for less money? That's how I always feel when I look at registry lists, anyway, so the thought that someone might save some money if they are going to get us a gift makes me happy.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond gave us the royal treatment, offering us coffee and water as we browsed the aisles. It was kind of weird at first, because I've been in BBB dozens of times before and never gotten that kind of attention, and then I realized they saw big dollar signs through us. The coffee was much-needed and much-appreciated, although the realization that I was a walking dollar sign was demoralizing. The funniest part was when the manager came up to us about halfway through and thanked us again for coming, then mentioned he had printed out a list of what we had registered for so far, and said, "I see some opportunities here." I had to hold back a laugh -- I'm sure he did see some big opportunities for sales, but unfortunately, Eric and I just couldn't stomach registering for a sheet set that cost over $100, we didn't like any of the quilts they had, we don't want china, and we have a perfectly fine set of "casual dinnerware," so I guess those are lost opportunities for BBB. Too bad, so sad.
  • BBB has this cash-back policy that's pretty sweet. If someone gets you a gift off of your registry and you return it to the store, they give you cash back, not just store credit. A friend of mine used this to her advantage -- they registered for an extra set of bedding and a few other things that they knew they didn't want, then returned it for cash and bought themselves a nice new TV. It's a good idea, because no ONE person is going to buy you a new TV, but she had a large extended family that was willing to buy comforters for her. While I don't see anything wrong with what she did, it just wouldn't work for us. We really don't need that much in the way of "big ticket" items, and what we do need, I actually want, and there's no guarantee we're even going to get it. So we won't be scamming BBB, which is unfortunate, because I do like scamming stores.
  • That reminds me: BBB takes Linens and Things coupons, and they take them no matter what the expiration date says. So never walk into that overpriced store without a 20% coupon in your hand. Your wallet will thank you!
  • It's easy to become immune to the prices, especially once you've scanned in a set of $600 pots. A Roomba? Sounds great! Only $299 -- it's a steal! Think of the fun we'll have watching it scare the bejeezus out of the cats! Then reality settles back in. If I wouldn't buy it for myself, I wouldn't want anyone else to buy it for me. (And yes, I fully intend to buy those pots if I have to.)
  • We're double-registered for a couple things between MyRegistry and BBB. This way, if someone isn't comfortable doing the internet thing, they can still go to the store, and then we just have to occasionally edit the registries ourselves if we get a gift off of one but not the other. I read some advice somewhere that suggested that, and it makes sense, so we'll see if it works.
  • We managed to compromise fairly well, I think. Ideally, I'd like a set of towels in every color of the rainbow, but we narrowed it down and agreed on two -- white and a color. The color isn't my first choice, but it's really pretty. And besides -- if we end up getting a house with an extra bathroom, I'll just be forced to buy some pretty purple towels then :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

great proposal antics

This is great. Thought YOUR fiance was nervous proposing to you? Nothing compares to the nervousness of lying to an immigration officer and then getting put in a holding room at the border! I love, love, love the letter this guy pre-printed, just for that situation:
That's some pretty good planning: assuming there's a high enough risk of getting caught at the border that you create documentation to explain your sketchiness, yet still being unable to play it cool enough at the border that you DON'T raise suspicions and get caught. Hmm.

By the way, there are 9 months until our wedding. Two more need to pass before I can apply to be a Weddingbee. Well, maybe just one more, assuming a month of review, rejection, and re-application. Hurry up, already!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dreams/Nightmares

I woke up this morning in the middle of a really weird dream. We were at my friend Jamie's wedding, but instead of the fancy, black-tie-requested affair that it was, in my dream it was a little more informal -- like most other weddings I've been to, not that it wasn't formal at all. I wasn't a bridesmaid, and for some reason I didn't think that was weird, especially given that in real life I was a bridesmaid, and Eric and I got seated at a table with all of Jamie's friends from when she lived in Ohio -- which has never happened in real life.

Then the DJ started doing his thing, and his thing turned out to be this weird dinner theater stuff, where the whole bridal party was enacting a murder scene or something. I think the premise was that one of the bridesmaids had shot Jamie, and now the place was on fire and a real fire engine even showed up. Except throughout these events, my attitude was, "Oh my god, this DJ is so cheesy and lame. I guess I give him props for actually getting a real fire engine to show up, but this is so obviously all faked."

I don't know what happened next, because I woke up. Definitely a weird dream, and one of those dreams where in the dream, you know it's weird.

The one interesting thing about the dream was the food. The dinner was a buffet, and Eric and I were among the first to get our food. The buffet was a whole series of dishes that had nothing to do with each other but that I knew were Jamie's favorite things (they were dream-Jamie's favorites, anyway). Lots of Indian food (served on too-small platters with too-large serving utensils), and then a huge plate of barbecue ribs, and a bunch of stuff on a ghetto candy buffet
(like, it looked like a kid dumped out his Halloween bag on the table, not one of those nice buffets everyone's doing now). My reaction was positive -- "Oh look, these are all of Jamie's favorite foods! How nice!" even though the food was all pretty unconnected to each other and would have made for a weird dinner.

Maybe it's a sign? We're in the middle stages of picking a caterer and finalizing our wedding menu, so maybe my subconscious wants me to stop figuring out which vegetables go with seared tuna and just serve naan and ribs with dim sum and snow crab legs with drawn butter. Now that's an idea.
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I don't think I ever shared my first wedding nightmare with you. It happened about a month ago, and it was one of those totally vivid dreams where everything is REAL (and usually going badly) and there is nothing you can do about it. In the dream, it was my wedding day, only it was actually that same day in July that I was having the dream -- in other words, I had to go ahead with the wedding with only whatever planning had gotten done up to that point. So we had a place and a photographer, and that was about it. For some reason, I wasn't freaking out about the fact that we had no caterer and I can't remember what the wedding dress situation was, but my #1 concern was that my hair was all messed up. [I often sleep with my hair in a loose pony tail to keep it out of my face at night] and I apparently had to get married with my hair looking the way it did at that very moment, because there were no bobby pins or curling irons or anything to be found. So it was going to be messy, half-pony tail half-pull-through-bun, with pieces sticking out everywhere. It was quite frustrating.

So I guess I've passed a milestone of some sort, where the wedding planning anxiety, though still very mild, is important enough to invade my subconscious while I sleep. These are the only two wedding dreams I've had so far, and as long as they keep occurring no more than once a month, I can handle it. Maybe I should pay attention to my subconscious, though, and finish with the catering plans and figure out what I'm going to do with my hair.