Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is there anything worse

...than a pregnant bridesmaid?

"Oh, the horror! The tragedy!"

Screen shot from Psycho, stolen from here.

Please, give me a break.

I've had this post brewing in the back of my mind for a while, due to a situation one of my bridesmaids is in, but I was spurred to actually write it after reading a particularly hot thread on the Weddingbee discussion boards. Here is the original post:

a bit of a long story but bear with me...

I am getting married in March 09 and have three bridesmaids.

About 6 weeks ago bm#3 came to me and asked if it was ok if she was 3 months pregnant during my wedding (at this point she was just PLANNING to be) . Of course I said yes as i knew it would make her happy and 3 months really isn't that much. A fortnight later I heard her talking to bm#1 and saying that she was planning on being six months pregnant at my wedding. I thought this was a bit strange as she had said three months to me. I let it slide as it seemed to make her happy. A fortnight ago we all went out dress shopping (bm#1, bm#2, bm#3 and me). As they were trying on dresses she announced that she could not fit into this dress at eight months pregnant.

That night i decided to ring her and have a chat. I told her that i was worried about her being 8 months pregnant at my wedding as it is a very long day and we will be getting in and out of limo's all day, standing for long periods and i didn't want to stress her out heavily pregnant and stress the unborn baby. Also that there is a higher chance of her having to go into hospital with complications or labour etc and her to miss our wedding. Her husband is best man so of course we could lose our best man too.

She was very rude to me and said pretty much that it was happening whether i liked it or not. I couldn't seem to get it across to her how worried I really was. I then wrote her a 2 page letter explaining my feelings and how i was upset she dismissed my feelings.

She came around last night with her husband to tell us she was 6 weeks pregnant and that the baby was due three days after the wedding date.

What should i do? I don't see how she can remain a bridesmaid at 9 months pregnant. I don't know if she will even be able to stand three days before the birth. Also there is a high chance we will lose our best man too...

I'm very upset. She has hurt my feelings really bad and shes due to have a baby three days after my wedding. Can I have some advice please?

Now, I'm not actually going to respond directly to that post, mostly because I have only negative things to say and I'm sure the original poster would find out about it and would flame me for all of eternity. I'm instead going to write you a little guide of what I think you should do if one of your bridesmaids tells you that she's pregnant. I'm not talking about that poster. I am going to try hard to be objective and polite, and I hope not to offend. However, I am a little snarky and sarcastic; it's hard to do anything about that.

Here is what I think about bridesmaids:
  • They are women you feel very close to for some reason or another -- friends and family who you enjoy being with, and who you want to honor by giving them a special role in your wedding.
  • They are not slaves, or even poorly compensated employees to be used at your discretion.
  • They have their own lives -- whether it be school, work, families, whatever. Just because you got engaged and your own life is now tied up in wedding planning does not mean theirs should be, too.
  • They, like you (most likely), are not made of money.
  • Yes, there are certain things a bridesmaid is "supposed" to do (see here or here if you don't know what they are), but you still have to remember that this is reality, and things need to be reasonable.
So, if your bridesmaid (and let's assume she's someone close to you, like, say, a really really really good friend you've had for at least 10 years, and not some co-worker you asked to stand up for you just to make the male and female sides of the wedding party even -- another ridiculous thing, if you ask me) announces that she's pregnant, here is what you do:

2. Act as though you are NOT getting married for just 5 minutes (really, you can do it, I promise), and ask all the questions that would be appropriate if your really really really good friend just told you she was pregnant. You know:
  • How far along are you?
  • How have you been feeling so far?
  • Is there anything I can do for you?
  • Would you like me to buy you some pickles? (Haha)
  • Do you know if it's a boy or girl? (Some parents don't like this question, so be prepared; however, if they say, "We're not going to find out ahead of time," don't respond with, "Why not?" Instead, say, "Well then I'll just buy presents in pink, blue, yellow, green, AND purple to be prepared!"
  • Can I help plan the baby shower?
3. Be happy.
4. Don't say anything about your wedding. At all. The bridesmaid will bring it up. Yes, she will. Because, you see, she's been agonizing over the fact that she has to tell you, the bride, that she's pregnant, and she's worried about how you are going to react. And you should feel 100% ashamed that she has been, in between puking her guts out and craving pickles, stressed about how YOU are going to react.

Now, once the subject of pregnancy + wedding has been brought up, you should be as accommodating as you possibly can. No exceptions. If the bridesmaid dresses haven't been bought, keep a pregnant belly in the back of your mind as you peruse dresses. Ask if the designer has a maternity line. Ask if you can purchase extra fabric and have the chosen dress altered to accommodate a baby bump. If the dresses have been bought, then you and your bridesmaid can scheme about how best to address the situation -- order a larger size in the same dress, order a maternity dress from another designer, order extra fabric for alterations -- whatever it takes. Do not make your bridesmaid feel fat, ugly, or anything other than the glowing mother-to-be that she is. What kind of friend are you, anyway?

If your bridesmaid suggests that she might not feel comfortable standing at the front of the aisle for the ceremony, then you can have a discussion about "duties." (God, I hate that word when it comes to bridesmaids.) Again, be as accommodating as you can. If she wants to walk down the aisle, stand for as long as she can, then sit in a reserved spot in the front row, fine. If she wants to walk down the aisle and immediately sit, fine. If she wants to walk down the aisle but not wear anything resembling what the rest of the bridesmaids are wearing, fine. If she wants to be a reader instead of a bridesmaid, fine. Start by decreasing her suggested "duties" only slightly, and see what she wants to do. If you start off with, "Well, why don't you just take it easy and be a reader instead?" she's going to interpret it as, "You're going to be huge on my wedding day and I don't want people looking at you, so you can't be a bridesmaid anymore." Don't question it -- that's the hidden meaning that the pregnancy hormones have made her think is there (and that I, negative person that I am, read into your suggestion also), so be prepared for an equally rude response. You deserve it.

If YOU, for some ridiculous, brain-fart reason, suggest without provocation that she should decrease her responsibilities in any way, or, god forbid, suggest that she NOT be your bridesmaid anymore because she is pregnant, you should be taken out and shot.

Yeah, she looks a little uncomfortable, but she obviously survived! (Source)

Do not, for one minute, suggest that the "stress" of having to get into and out of a limo might be cause of concern for the pregnant bridesmaid and her unborn baby. Give me a break. Yes, someone who is 9 months pregnant probably can't stand for as long as someone who isn't pregnant, and she might need a few more breaks and water (and then potty breaks) than the rest of you, but she is no way endangering the health of anyone, born or unborn, by acting as your bridesmaid on the day of the wedding. (This is all assuming a standard, healthy pregnancy, of course.) If she needs to sit down a little longer than everyone else, FINE. If she feels horrendously queasy the day of the wedding and stays in bed a little longer than everyone else, FINE. She'll meet you at the salon if she needs to get her hair done (wait -- you didn't FORCE everyone to get their hair done, did you? Shame on you.).

I mean, say a bridesmaid got food poisoning the morning of the wedding. Would you throw a fit, ask why she ate that questionable egg, throw away her dress and refuse to let her walk down the aisle? No! You'd let her stay in bed, recover with some Gatorade, find her a doctor if she needed one, and get on with life. If she walks, she walks. If she doesn't, then go visit her in the hospital as soon as you can. This is really no different. Are you doing yourself any favors by worrying about all the things that might go wrong with a bridesmaid on the day of the wedding? No.

Now, even if your bridesmaid is 100% sure that she can fully participate on the wedding day and is 100% excited to hold your bouquet while you say your vows, things can still happen. A few months from now, she might realize that she doesn't think she's going to be able to do what she previously told you she could. Give her a break, and let her back out if she wants to, but I would seriously consider going back to the paragraph above where I tell you alternative things for her to do. If she does back down, don't take her name off the program, for goodness sake -- that's really bitchy. You still wanted her to be a bridesmaid when all of this started, right? That's what this is about.

If the wedding is out of town, she might not be able to come at the last minute (especially if it involves flying). Already printed the programs? Don't worry -- no one will notice a missing bridesmaid based on the program, and if they do, they'll assume something came up. Actually, they probably won't care (gasp!). If she can come, and she'll be majorly pregnant, she should talk with her Ob/Gyn about having a backup doctor available in the city she will be visiting and she should scope out a hospital, just in case. If her water breaks, don't worry -- someone will call an ambulance and she will be taken to the hospital. People might look at her and talk about her for 5-10 minutes, but don't worry -- all eyes will return to you when you dance your first dance or cut the cake or toss the bouquet or whatever else it is you have to do.

The bottom line is, if she wants to do it and thinks she can, who are you to say she can't?

The bride? Give me a break.

Pregnant bridesmaid? No problem!


Now that I'm done with my rant, I have to say that it was brought on originally by my FSIL, who recently announced her second pregnancy and is due in January. Congratulations!!! She won't be pregnant for our wedding, but instead will have a 4-month-old (who I predict will be a boy, and I'm totally going to spring a baby tux on him if it is!). However, she will be pregnant when she is in a friend's wedding in September, and there have been issues (mostly dress-related). She told Eric and I about the pregnancy pretty early on, and I witnessed her being stressed about the prospect of telling the other bride (and the bride's mother, who apparently is the bridezilla-esque one of the pair). Their bridesmaid dresses had already been ordered, and the dress shop ladies were quite rude and disgusted at having to deal with a pregnant bridesmaid. Luckily, it has all worked out, but I think -- in my opinion only -- a lot of bridesmaid stress could have been relieved by a more accommodating bride/MOB.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If I were planning a bachelorette party

If I were planning a bachelorette party weekend getaway (and I'm not), for someone like me (but not necessarily me), here is what I would plan.

(Inspired by the last few weeks of living at the shore and enjoying the nightlife right next door in Atlantic City.)

We would all get together in Atlantic City. Yeah, yeah, it's not as glamorous as Vegas, and it's got a bad reputation for being seedy and slimey, but so did Las Vegas before 10 years ago! Take it from a (kind of) insider; A.C. isn't that bad. And it's definitely getting better, exponentially, and quickly!

(And for me and my girls, AC is easy for everyone to get to, but still a good getaway spot.)

We'd stay at the Borgata, which is the city's BEST hotel and casino. Second maybe only to its brand new sister hotel located right next door, The Water Club. When the Borgata opened in 2003, it had the best commercials, with these hip 20-somethings all riding Vespas from Philly down to AC. Not going to lie; we bought into the marketing and were sucked in. I have some good blackjack and poker memories from that casino, and I've stayed there before as well, courtesy of a poker rate, and it was a GREAT hotel room.

The Borgata (left) and The Water Club (right). Picture from TripAdvisor.

So anyway, since money's no object in this little imagination exercise, we'd upgrade and stay at the Water Club. Dinner on Friday would be relaxed, since we'd all just be arriving -- maybe we'd go to The Continental at the Pier Shops at Caesars. There are great views overlooking the ocean, and the food ("global tapas") is great -- yes, it's the same Stephen Starr-branded Continental as in Philly. Or Buddakan, or somewhere else fun and girly and celebratory.

The Continental A.C.

Friday night we'd just relax and chill. Hang out on the boardwalk and have some salt water taffy and play mini golf, or maybe go back to the hotel to play some blackjack or roulette. Nothing too risky, though :)

Saturday would be full of options: Relax poolside at one of the Water Club's indoor pools, or more likely, in one of the cabanas by the outdoor pool. Enjoy some snacks and drinks poolside, and just generally relax. Alternatively, we could take a short drive into Brigantine or into downtown A.C. to hang out on the beach. Personally, I'd choose Brigantine for boardwalk-free beach time. If anyone felt like splurging, there is supposed to be an amazing spa at the Water Tower.

Saturday's dinner would be a foodie experience -- the Bobby Flay or new Wolfgang Puck restaurant in the hotel. YUM. (Is A.C. trying to pull a Vegas with fancy hotels and big-name restaurant stars? It sure seems like it, and I think it's a great idea, personally.)

Saturday night would be the main event -- dancing and all-night entertainment. Depending on the bride, I would either plan to stay at the Borgata and party at one of their clubs (which are legitimately cool, not your average casino club, so I've heard), or else drag her out to one of those ridiculous male strip shows. Or, if you were planning an A.C. bachelorette party right now, you could go to Thunder From Down Under, the Australian male revue! Standard bachelorette embarrassment required, of course.

Oh my god, I can't even keep a straight face looking at this photo (source).

After a long night of dancing and drinking (it probably wouldn't last too long, we're all getting much older than we want to admit these days), we would fall asleep on the luxurious, comfortable hotel beds.

Sunday would be necessarily low-key, complete with dark sunglasses and coffee. More lounging by the pool? Or shopping, perhaps? We could head back to the Pier Shops, or else go explore the new Atlantic City outlets. Confession: I've already spent a bunch of money at the J. Crew outlet, I've got my eye on a wristlet from the Coach outlet, and I haven't even had a chance to set foot into the Banana Republic outlet yet.

Other food options (hey, you have to eat more than just dinner, right?) include our Brigantine favorite, Primo Pizza; Little Saigon, a Vietnamese BYO (and lots of other Vietnamese restaurants), the classic Jersey diners, and the delicious-but-not-so-nutritious boardwalk favorites. Oh, and who could forget a late-night Wawa run?

So there you have it. Just thought I'd share. It's a really expensive weekend (mostly the hotel and the expensive restaurants), but it would be a fun trip to plan!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'm not a spokesperson for the Borgata or anything (hmm, think they'd pay me?), but it honestly is the best hotel/casino in the city, it has great marketing (which this city sorely needs), and it's doing good things for the city by building newer and better establishments and raising the bar on dining and entertainment.

Oh, and did I mention that at night it's lit up in purple and green?

(Bad picture, I know. But I was driving and trying to snap at the same time, the building was far away, and I wouldn't know how to make the purple neon lights look purple and not blue no matter what.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

300 Days!

And counting!

300 doesn't have any particular significance, other than being a nice, round number -- the kind I like. One of my friends and bridesmaids, on the other hand, prefers palindromes.

300 days. It actually doesn't sound like that much -- until you remember that a whole year is 365 days. So that means we're only 10 months out -- which still isn't that much in the realm of wedding planning.

I have nothing more to comment about this, so I'm just going to stop now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Botox for the bridesmaids?

Holy #$!%, this New York Times article blew me away.

Skin Deep -- It's Botox for you, Dear Bridesmaids

I was planning to write, at some point, about how ridiculous a lot of brides are about a lot of things when it comes to bridesmaids -- forcing everyone to match is one thing, but forcing them all to match in $300 dresses that they have to pay for? Demanding they all get particular hair styles when they've managed to choose their own hairstyles for at least 20 years on their own? Freaking out about a bridesmaid's pregnancy and "how it will affect the wedding" instead of just saying "congratulations"? That's what I was going to talk about.

But this is 100 times better. Asking your bridesmaids to get boob jobs for the wedding??!? Suggesting that everyone gets Botox -- even if the bride pays for it?!?!?

I don't really have the words to talk about this issue. I just hope that all the sane people in the world realize that this is really f*cking ridiculous.

Real Men Wear Gowns

So... it turns out I'll look at anything that shows a woman wearing a veil and a white dress.

I was browsing through today and noticed an ad off on the sidebar that showed a woman wearing a veil. The ad read, "Real men wear gowns," and standing in front of her was a man wearing ... not a wedding gown, but a hospital gown.

Weddings AND health? Now you've got my interest!

I clicked on over, and it brought me to the website of AHRQ (the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), which I am already familiar with (they publish healthcare data and put out guidelines for preventive health screening; I use their electronic preventive services selector on my PDA regularly). But I hadn't heard about this health campaign before.

Real Men Wear Gowns is aimed at middle-aged men, it appears (based on the images, information, and videos), but its message is important for all men. It shows guys doing normal things -- playing with their kids, walking their daughters down the aisle, dancing with their wives -- while wearing a hospital gown. You can watch the videos here.

A screenshot from one of the videos.

Men are notorious, as a group, for not going to the doctor until they're very sick -- at which point, valuable opportunities to prevent disease onset or provide early treatment have been lost. It's a stereotype -- but one I've seen numerous times -- to have a male patient say, when asked why he came to the office/ER, "I wasn't going to, but my wife made me." And these are guys who often are in the midst of a serious problem -- like an active heart attack!

Too often, men try to "bear the pain," or "see if it will go away." But they shouldn't. Know the warning signs of heart attacks and strokes, and get screened regularly for overweight/obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, colorectal cancer, STDs and HIV, depression, and AAA. Tell your fiance, brother, father, FFIL, and anyone else you know the importance of these tests. Really.

It's perfectly reasonable for a young person to have a cholesterol test done once before the age of 25 -- you should know your cholesterol score! It's better to start cutting out a cheeseburger a week and replacing it with something high in fiber now than it is to wait until you're 40 and have 20 years of damage built up.

And women, don't think you're out of the loop; there is a site for Real Women, too. Get Pap tests regularly, get the HPV vaccine, and see an Ob/Gyn before you get pregnant -- there are a lot of things that ideally should be done before a woman gets pregnant, but since so many pregnancies are unplanned, they aren't done until the first obstetrical visit. Start taking a folic acid supplement now; there's no reason not to. And of course, get all the same screening tests as the men -- hypertension, high cholesterol, colorectal cancer, HIV, etc.

Because you're planning to marry your sweetheart for life, and I know you want it to be a long and healthy one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miss Manners says

I love Miss Manners. In fourth grade I read all of her books. Her well-hidden sarcastic wit is just awesome. That's why she's in my Google Reader. To be honest, I often don't read the columns, especially because they are fed as headlines-only, and it's kind of a pain to click over to read the whole thing, but every now and then I catch up on a backlog of them.

Today, it was the headline that caught my eye: Tentative Steps at the Wedding Reception

So naturally, I clicked on over.

Dear Miss Manners:

I am curious about the tradition of wedding dances. We have the happy couple's first dance. Then there is the father/daughter dance followed by the mother/son. By now, all the guests at the reception are happily chatting among themselves, no longer paying attention, and we segue into the son and mother-in-law, etc.

What is appropriate for an evening wedding with a band or DJ? How long should the dances be, and how many should there be?

The idea is for the bridal couple to open the dancing, not to give a private dance featuring their relatives while the guests' function is to stand around admiring them.

Or not. No wonder couples confess to nervousness about the simple act of dancing with each other. Getting married is not a sufficient qualification to stage a dance performance before an audience.

Miss Manners gathers that you have heard about those lists in which the order of dancing is specified for a long line of relatives, regardless of whether they are on speaking terms. Such overplanning arises from the suspicion that the gentlemen of the wedding party are innocent of the requirement to dance with the principal ladies instead of only following their personal preferences.

The idea is for the parents to dance with the couple and one another, and, by the way, it would be nice if the gentlemen asked Granny to dance, too. And for the guests to be treated as guests.

Guests should not be kept waiting, even the full length of one dance. Halfway through the bridal couple's dance, the bride's father cuts in to dance with his daughter and the bereft bridegroom turns to his mother. (This can also be done with the respective in-laws first.) At this point, the bridesmaids and groomsmen should take to the dance floor and encourage the other guests to follow.

Presumably, the bridal couple's enjoyment is in gazing at each other, not in being gazed at.

I believe Miss Manners has presumed correctly. In one wedding I was in, we (the bridal party) were instructed to begin dancing halfway through the first dance, on the DJ's cue, and then the DJ encouraged everyone else to join in as well. It worked really well, because the song was on the long side for a first dance song (Call and Answer, Barenaked Ladies). Other couples have advised us to choose a short first dance song for the same reason. Another way to divert attention? Do what Mrs. Hibiscus and Mrs. Eggplant (from Weddingbee, DUH!) did and have voice-overs played during the first dance. You get to dance, but your guests will most likley be paying attention to what's being said (just go listen at the links; you'll understand more clearly what I'm talking about).

In any case, it appears Miss Manners has spoken, and just as I always eat asparagus with my fingers as she says (go Google it yourself!), I will keep this in mind as well.

Not that we can decide on a first dance song, anyway.

Any first dance song suggestions, or other ways to make it less embarrassing?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


We booked our photographer a few months ago, but I realize I never told you! There are tons of photographers in our area, at all price levels and styles, so it was a huge headache for me to sort through them all and pick ones to meet with. Craigslist, especially, is a treasure trove of "budget" photographers. A big dilemma was the fact that I really really wanted good photos, and wanted a photographer I enjoyed working with (based on a wedding I attended a couple years ago and our experience with our free engagement photos), but was on a major budget. I like the "photojournalistic" style for the photos it produces, but I need some direction like a traditional photographer would do. Plus, the term "photojournalistic" doesn't really mean anything now, since everyone's using it.

In my usual OCD style, I compiled a spreadsheet with every photographer's info and prices -- again, just as it had been with venue searching, it was hard to compare apples to apples. Some photographers worked for 4 hours, others for 8, others for an unlimited amount of time on the day of. Some included an engagement session, and others didn't. Same with printed proofs or albums. To be honest, albums weren't high on our priority list, but a decent amount of time and rights to the digital files of the final photos were, so that was taken into account as well. Finally, I narrowed it down to five.

I met with Photographer #1 with my mom when she came to visit a few months ago, and she was really great -- very sweet and easy-going, with a great portfolio, but she was a little out of our price range. I then met with Photographer #2 on my own -- she was based out of Cincinnati, and her website looked good, and she sent me a DVD of some of her portfolios in the mail. She was unable to meet with me at any halfway point between Cincinnati and Louisville the weekend I wanted to meet, but I drove up to Cincinnati and met her at a Starbucks. I arrived a little early and got a coffee; she called to say she was going to be late, which was OK. She finally arrived, explained that she had had babysitting issues with her daughter (uh oh), handed me some albums to look through, and went up to get a coffee. This Starbucks was SOOO crowded, though, and by the time she came back with her drink, I had looked through the albums completely, and twice. The fact that she was newer to the business than I thought, combined with an already-bad first impression having to do with an inability to find childcare (although I am totally understanding of people having kids and plans changing at the last minute!), combined with the fact that she seemed more nervous than I was during our meeting, all left me feeling like I had driven to Cincinnati for nothing. I should have visited the then-brand new Ikea to make the trip worth it, but instead, I drove home (although I did get Chipotle while I was in Cincy, since there isn't one in Louisville!).

Then I met with Photographer #3 on my own as well, and I liked him. I did have a few reservations -- he was just getting started, although he had a lot of photos to show me, and something about his personality wasn't quite right for the person I wanted shooting our wedding day photos. Like, he'd be fun to hang out and have a beer with, but that personality quality wouldn't necessarily have a calming effect on me, which I think I'm going to need on the wedding day. Nevertheless, his prices were cheap, and I've heard over and over again from people who have booked photographers before they were well known and ended up with amazing photography at great prices. So when Eric came to visit a couple weekends after that, he met with Photographer #3 as well (also alone; I was stuck seeing psychiatric patients in the office).

Eric didn't get the best vibe from Photographer #3, and felt he didn't seem as qualified as he would have liked. He also agreed with me that I am a person who, if she doesn't completely trust someone she's working with, will attempt to take over and direct things herself -- and I don't need to be doing that on the day of my own wedding! So I definitely need to be working with someone that I trust and who will have a calming presence, because I'll most likely need it.

Together we interviewed Photographer #4, who was really great. It was James from J Higgins Photography, and we met him in his studio (he runs a framing studio as well). I liked everything about him -- he's been in business a long time, but has continually kept up to date with techniques and trends, and had lots of great photos. He was very calm, cool, and collected -- completely the opposite of Photographer #3! He offered a wide range of packages at different price points, and the one we were thinking of had a couple items we weren't interested in (like a signature matte), but he said it would be no problem to use them as credit toward prints or extra hours of service instead. We left that meeting feeling great and J Higgins was, at that point, at the top of our list.

We had one more photographer meeting scheduled for the next morning, so we put off the search for the night and headed off to see Avenue Q with our friends David and Amy. You should totally see this show, by the way. I loved it.

So who was Photographer #5 and who did we finally pick? Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Honeymoon remorse

A long time ago, I decided I didn't want a relaxing, beach honeymoon. We have beach access pretty much any time we want it, and my idea of a vacation is generally to tour new countries, not to lie on a beach and read. Eric went along with my thought, and we brainstormed places to honeymoon.

We wanted it to be somewhere that neither of us had been before; that knocked out Italy, London, Paris, parts of Spain, Brussels, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. We also didn't want to have to deal too much with a foreign language, so that knocked out most of the rest of Asia. I can get by in French, but I'd feel badly for both of us if I had to be translating menus for a whole trip, so I crossed other parts of France off the list as well; the same went for Eric and Spanish. The thought of me actually having to rely on my Chinese for an entire vacation was just headache-inducing, so that was off the table from the start.

Scotland was a good contender (and actually, I've had it in the back of my mind as a honeymoon destination for a while; I ripped out a feature on it from a 2004 issue of Modern Bride I got while helping to plan my friend Karen's wedding). We both have Scottish in our heritages (we both have Scottish last names), and I thought it would be cool to go explore a country that we both have ties to, as well as spoke English.

I kind of figured it would be expensive, but we also don't need to live in the lap of luxury for the entire honeymoon, so I figured there would be ways to cut corners here and there. I really liked the idea of renting a car and driving all over, exploring the lochs and the highlands and the lowlands. We could stay in a castle (maybe even a haunted castle!), and relax if we got sick of driving on the wrong side of the road.

Then I set up a honeymoon registry, on Honeyfund. I put a link to it on our wedding website. I set out to think of cute honeymoon activities to register for ($50 for Holly to try haggis; $100 for squeamish Eric to try it; $40 for a meal at McDonald's when both of us got sick of haggis). I registered us for GPS for the rental car so we wouldn't get lost while driving on the wrong side of the road; I calculated what a tank of petrol would cost. In doing so, I came across this blog, in which the blogger had already calculated petrol costs. It's over $8 a gallon. YIKES!

Then I even went so far as to buy plane tickets from, a site I have used regularly in the past that has great deals. Back in April, I won an auction for 2 tickets on Virgin Atlantic for $1522. Woohoo! It was roundtrip from NYC to Heathrow (and we could leave from DC instead for only a small fee). I figured there would be an easy way to get to Scotland from London, and everything would be fine.

Then I got buyer's remorse. At that time, more than a year before the wedding/honeymoon, I couldn't even check plane ticket prices to see if I was truly getting a deal. I would have to wait until at least the middle of June, if not July (some airlines won't post tickets more than 11 months in advance). Oh my god, what had I done? Where had this sense of urgency to book tickets come from?

Luckily, in the weeks since, gas prices have only continued to climb, and I became confident that there was no way a plane ticket to Europe next May could possibly be LESS expensive than one this May (and I had gotten a good deal compared with this year's prices), so at least that was good.

But then, I got not just buyer's remorse, but honeymoon remorse. After spending a month in rural Kentucky, then driving to Philadelphia, flying to Brussels for a week, and freaking out about studying for Step 2 of my boards, applying to residency, and figuring out what I'm going to do for the rest of my life, I realized that sitting on a beach really isn't all that bad. I asked Eric if the whole "touring a new country is better than sitting on a beach" thing was his opinion as much as mine, and he confessed it wasn't. Sitting on a beach is just fine with him, as it turns out.

And think about all the cool places with beaches that still offer tourism opportunities: Thailand, South America, Africa, the South Pacific, the Galapagos Islands. The list is quite extensive. A friend recommended Thailand. Another recommended Honduras. Two of my cousins have gone to the Maldives for their honeymoons and can't stop gushing. Miss Coconut on Weddingbee yesterday posted about Costa Rica, and I checked out the hotel she was staying at, and it looks great. But how to get out of our plane tickets to London!?!?!?!?

I emailed Skyauction a couple weeks ago, and asked what their refund policy was. I wasn't too optimistic, but I figured I could always explain that it was going to be a honeymoon trip and the honeymoon wasn't happening. I wasn't above breaking out the big guns and crying over email that the wedding was off and I didn't know what I would do if they wouldn't refund me my money, either.

In the meantime, it became possible to check ticket prices to London. It turns out that for our prospective honeymoon dates next May, NY to London on Virgin Atlantic costs between $800 and $1050/person roundtrip. So we did get a deal! It would still be a hassle to get from London to Scotland, but whatever. Our original-but-now-backup plan was acceptable, if not ideal.

Skyauction got back to me this morning, though. They can withdraw me from my auction (because while I had paid, I had never completed the process by submitting dates and receiving tickets) with only a $95 cancellation fee.

Normally, $95 is a lot of money to me. Especially for stupid shit like cancellation fees. But this morning, it might as well have been 95 cents, because that's how relieved I was. And no crying and fake "the wedding's off" stories needed, to boot!

The honeymoon registry link has been removed from the wedding website (I'm not convinced it's the best idea for us anyway, even once we decide on a honeymoon location). Scotland isn't completely off the table, but wouldn't it be nice to book a plane ticket that leaves from Louisville and lands in Glasgow, without us worrying about how to do all the in-between stuff ourselves? I'm pretty sure I want to go somewhere more interesting than the Carribean, but I've also never been to the Carribean, so maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge.

So now the brainstorming begins all over again. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


That would be ethanol, aka alcohol. Woohoo!

Last fall, my brother had a part-time job at a liquor store to make some extra cash. It sounded like a pretty easy job for him: some stocking, manning the cash register of a not-horrendously-busy liquor store, helping to run wine tasting parties, and learning a decent amount about wine. It was a great job for me, because he got to purchase things at wholesale, and I had a wedding to plan.

Going into venue hunting, we knew that we had to be allowed to bring in our own alcohol, to take advantage of our amazing hook-up. I had a pretty good idea of how ridiculously pricey catered alcohol can be, and I didn't want to have to skimp in this area.

[Glassworks actually is supposed to charge us a $300 fee for using our own alcohol, but we will still come out ahead. Plus, at this point, they haven't charged us the fee, and I'm not really sure how they are going to figure out whose alcohol we are using. Oh well. We'll see what happens come May.]

It was pretty fun to come up with our bar needs. We knew we were going to have an open bar, and wanted to offer liquor, wine, and beer. I had alcohol options from two different hotels I had (very) briefly considered, so I could see what they brands they suggested for their "house," "call," and "premium/top shelf" liquor packages.

Next I checked out online drink calculators. Evite has a drink calculator, and I also found this calculator and guide. I also found out that even though evite gives you results in whole liters, alcohol generally comes in either 750mL or 1.75L bottles, not 1L ones. It was a little stressful to try to run all the calculations not really knowing how many people we're going to have (150 is the number we're using, but it will likely be less than that), but in the end, a good rule of thumb is that too much alcohol is always better than too little :)

We bought the liquor first, back in January, because it was convenient for my brother to do so and I knew we could store the liquor safely for pretty much forever. I also figured that we should probably have enough for two separate bars, because I hate long bar lines, so I bought accordingly. Here's what we got:

  • Two 1.75L bottles of Smirnoff vodka
  • Two 1.75L bottles of Tanqueray gin
  • Two 1.75L bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
  • One 1.75L bottle of Bacardi rum
  • One 750mL bottle of Bacardi rum
  • Two 1.75L bottles of Johnnie Walker red scotch
  • (We also already had an unoped 1.75L bottle of Bacardi, so now we're saving that for the wedding as well.)
I didn't really feel any need to have tequila, since (in my opinion) they're pretty much best used for margaritas, and we'll have enough mixed drink options without margaritas, and the only other good use for them is shots, and, well... tequila shots and I do not get along. (Actually, we got along fabulously initially, but then things take a turn for the worse.)

The bourbon was a little stressful; Kentucky is obvious bourbon country, and we needed a good one. However, since a lot of bourbons aren't marketed aggresively outside of Kentucky, the store where my brother worked didn't keep a lot of them in stock. (And to be completely honest, he wasn't really supposed to be buying things at cost; as long as he was buying from the store's stock, though, the assistant manager didn't mind. Because of this, though, we were trying to avoid having him place any special orders.) But, Knob Creek is a good bourbon, so I'm happy.

We weren't planning to buy the wine or beer until next spring, closer to the wedding, because I was worried about storing it. However, my brother called me back in April to announce that he had given his two weeks' notice, and that if I wanted wine, I should act soon. Yikes!

When it comes to wine, I do not like merlot or chardonnay, which are the standard wine offerings at a lot of weddings I've been to. My go-to choices are pinot noir and pinot grigio, and I have a few other reds I'm partial to as well. Eric has a broader palate than I do, but in general we agree on wines, which always makes it nice when we order a bottle at a restaurant. Don't get me wrong, though; I am by no means a wine connoisseur, and if I were doing a blind taste test, I can't guarantee that I wouldn't declare a merlot quite palatable.

In the end, the wedding isn't all about me (shocker!), or even about me and Eric, so we're providing a wider selection of wine. Here's what we got:
  • Three 1.5L bottles of Rex Goliath chardonnay
  • Four 1.5L bottles of Yellow Tail chardonnay
  • Six 1.5L bottles of Fish Eye pinot grigio
  • Six 750mL bottles of Rex Goliath pinot noir
  • Six 750mL bottles of Yellow Tail pinot noir
  • Three 1.5L bottles of Rex Goliath cabernet sauvignon
  • Three 1.5L bottles of Yellow Tail cabernet sauvignon
  • Six 750mL bottles of Yellow Tail rose
These are brands (Rex Goliath, especially) that we like a lot, so I'm comfortable with what we got. I know they're not super amazing wines if you have much of a wine palate, but I'm also fairly certain that none of our guests is really going to be able to tell the difference. I also know that a lot of caterers offer simply a merlot and chardonnay in a "house" brand of some sort, so I feel that what we're doing is at least a step and a half above that.

We also went ahead and got champagne; just enough for everyone to have a toast. At first, my brother recommended Freixenet extra dry; it's a cava, which is a Spanish sparkling wine. I was able to get my hands on a bottle before my friend Jamie's wedding back in April, and we all had a taste. It was a little too dry for my liking, and I was going to stress about choosing one that I really liked, when again, I realized that at a lot of fancy hotel weddings (such as the black tie one that Jamie had), they simply offer whatever their house champagne is, and no one has a choice. So I let go, told my brother it was too dry, and when he suggested the St. Hilaire semi-sweet as an alternate, we went with it. In the end, it really doesn't matter.

All the liquor and wine is now sitting in my parents' basement, in the storage closet behind the Christmas decorations, and my brother even bought a dehumidifier for the closet to keep everything nice and un-damp (my parents' house is in Maryland, very near to two different rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, so un-damp is hard to come by), and someone will be driving it to Louisville next May.

It doesn't look like too much here, but I didn't open up all those boxes to take a good look; the Christmas decorations were in the way and I didn't feel like moving them all!

The only thing we have left to buy is beer, and we're definitely going to wait on that, because storing beer is asking for trouble. We're going to provide mostly Yuengling, which can't be bought in Kentucky, so someone will be driving more alcohol west come May. I guess we'll also provide a light beer of some sort, but we'll most likely just get that locally.

We'll also buy some mixers, like vermouth for martinis, and maybe some liqueurs, but maybe not. We'll also have sodas and something else non-alcoholic, like iced tea or lemonade, and we'll most likely buy all of that at one of the club stores in the weeks before the wedding. One of the caterers we're interviewing right now pointed out that to have both the ceremony and ensuing cocktail hour on the roof, an extra bar would either need to be pre-set up on the roof (meaning more money for another bartender and a bar in our ceremony space), or we should opt for passed drinks only during cocktail hour. I really like the idea of passed drinks for cocktail hour, because then we have an excuse to come up with signature drinks! Right now I'm thinking about mint juleps (naturally) and mojitos, as well as mint iced tea (sense a theme?).

All of that alcohol cost us about $750, and will create (roughly) 500 drinks. The hotel caterer, on the other hand, would have charged us $6 per drink! I'm pretty sure we have way too much alcohol (we don't even have the beer yet!), but better safe than sorry. I also know we have some groomsmen who would be more than happy to take some of the extra home.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Archivers Bridal Showcase

Before I left Louisville for my extended trip all over every where, I went to a wedding craft workshop at Archivers. It's a pretty neat store, dedicated to scrapbooking, card making, and other paper crafts. The workshop was pretty straight-forward: a representative went through some pictures and ideas for wedding invitations and associated stationery projects, a lot of which I had seen before, but it was nice to see the emphasis on DIY. Some were really easy, and even someone with no card-making experience could pull them off; there were also a lot of projects that involved stamping, embossing, and other card-making techniques that I've never attempted, but again, don't look incredibly hard (but I bet it becomes an expensive hobby!).

Then we got to try out some of the fun stuff: paper punches, markers and pens with different types of inks and tips, and we got to ooh and aah over their line of invitation stationery. I do love touching pretty paper. We also learned how to line an envelope, and got to try it ourselves.

It's not too hard; Paper Source sells plastic templates for tracing out liners, and I've also read that an easy way to do it is to measure out a template that is exactly 1/8" smaller than the actual envelope. At Archivers, they suggested a different method: tracing the envelope directly to get the right curve for the flap, then trimming the two vertical sides down to fit. It worked really well, and here was my final product:

One important lesson I learned was to not use a liner paper with a line/graph pattern unless you're REALLY into being anal and making sure all the lines are parallel/perpendicular to the envelope. No, thank you.

The other cool tool I used to make the liner was the Scor-it, which allows you to score paper to create a nice fold. You can also use a bone folder, and while I've never used a bone folder myself, the Scor-it was SO easy to use that I was completely sold. It's a pretty solid example of a unitasker, and while Alton Brown might object, I may be purchasing one of these in the near future. Gah, what wedding planning can convince you to do!

The only real problem with my lined envelope above, which you can see if you look closely, is that the liner is kind of crooked. That's because the adhesive tape I used was really sticky, and I positioned it badly. Fortunately, I also learned that there is a repositionable adhesive that becomes permanent only after 24 hours, which would be very useful. I also have a supply of Zots and other sticky dots that I'm sure I'll be using for various wedding craftiness.

So all in all, I would recommend the Archivers Bridal Showcase workshop. They offer it on a continual basis (at least, I see it on the calendar through July), it's less than 2 hours long, and it's FREE!

And speaking of Paper Source, the Weddingbees all write about it like it's some sort of paper mecca, which definitely makes me to want to check it out. Unfortunately, there's not one anywhere near Louisville, but there is one in D.C. and another in Alexandria -- I think I'll be making a visit while I'm here on the east coast!

**Update: I forgot to mention another tip the Archivers lady shared with us. If you buy cardstock/paper that's pre-cut in small sizes, and you need to print on it, it can be hard to feed it through a printer easily. Instead, use a removable glue dot to attach it to a full-sized sheet of paper, then feed it through the printer that way. When it's done, just remove the glue dot and it should come out perfectly!


I saw "27 Dresses" on the plane ride back from Brussels, and it was pretty good. My favorite part was the running line from the bride about the bridesmaid dresses she had picked out: "And the best part is, you can totally shorten it and wear it again!"

Haha. If only it were true.

My two younger sisters, who haven't been in any weddings before, are approaching bridesmaid dress shopping with "future wearability" in mind. I'm pretty sure the rest of my bridesmaids have given up on that tack. I certainly have never worn any of the three bridesmaid dresses I have again, although one has the potential to be cute if cut short, and the other was a two-piece, and the corset top does have some possibilities. The third one I'll probably never fit into again, even if I did want to wear it again.

Nevertheless, while bridesmaid dresses have little chance of being worn again, it would be nice to offer the ladies some choice, at least so they can pick something flattering on the one day they will wear it. Plus, at the wedding, the bridesmaids will be between 20 and 28 years old, some with skinny figures who would look good in a rag, and others with sensitive areas they'd like to display only to their best advantage. One will not yet be old enough to legally drink, and two will have children. It really wouldn't be nice to stick them all in the same strapless thing. So from the start, I've had the idea that I would pick a color, and they would pick the dress.

J Crew was a good possibility; they had a "spiced wine" color last fall that was pretty much perfect, and their special occasion dresses come in a variety of styles that would work well for everyone.

However, by the time I started looking (which was last fall, and admittedly early), the spiced wine color was already on clearance, so there weren't a lot of sizes or styles left. I emailed J Crew and they said they would have a plum color that was similar to spiced wine that will debut next month. That certainly has possibilities, but the other problem with J Crew is the price -- those dresses retail for $250 and up, and while that's OK for some brides, I just can't do it. The only argument for it (which one of my friends has made), is that it might be better to spend $250 on a dress you will legitimately wear again (and these dresses are definitely great for that), rather than $150 on a dress you'll never wear again. I'm not sure. I'll wait until August and see what that plum color looks like, then see what everyone thinks, I guess.

In the meantime, I had been browsing designers, looking for a good purple color. I wanted dark purple, colors that are often called "eggplant," "aubergine," or "plum." I didn't want a true purple, like "amethyst," or a light purple, like "lilac." Let me tell you, I got quickly acquainted with color names, that's for sure!

I also wasn't completely in love with satin, and kind of preferred the soft, flowy look of chiffon. I ended up browsing through bridesmaid dresses by Eden, Bill Levkoff, David's Bridal, and a million others, as well as Mori Lee. I ended up compiling some dress pictures and sent them off to my bridesmaids for feedback. Some went through and picked out specific dresses they liked, some just gave general feedback ("prefer not strapless"), and others said, "I can find something I like in any of the designers you suggested," which was majorly helpful. So then I had to go out and actually look at these colors in person, because online you really couldn't tell what you were getting.

There is a long, drawn-out saga of events, confusion, and frustration that occurred between March and May that I won't bore you with; suffice it to say that Mori Lee has a color called "aubergine" (which is French for "eggplant") that is 100% silvery-lilac that everyone knows about, and another color, "eggplant" that is pretty much a perfect dark eggplant purple, even though their website doesn't really reflect it and some dress shops claim to know nothing about it. Have I mentioned how ridiculous the bridal industry is? Plus, Mori Lee dresses are on the more inexpensive side, starting in the low $100s at online retailers like House of Brides.

(I've used House of Brides before; I convinced my friend (and bridesmaid) Jamie to take a small risk and let us order from them for her bridesmaid dresses, because it was going to save us each at least $30. It was a great experience, the dresses came in quickly, and they were totally legit, so she was relieved, and I would totally use them again or recommend them to anyone.)

So as of right now, the girls are supposed to be picking out a Mori Lee dress (I even decided I didn't care about the slight color difference between chiffon and satin, and they can wear either), then calling Mori Lee directly to double-check that it comes in eggplant (I'm happy to do it for them as well), and letting me know what they've picked. Sorry, but I can't find any photos of their eggplant dresses online to share. I suppose if J Crew's "plum" turns out to be a great color when it "debuts" (they're word, not mine) next month, we might have some more decisions to make, but I really can't imagine that everyone wants to spend over $250 on a dress.

Then I saw these pictures over on And Stanley makes three:

...and I wondered if I should let go of any desire to match at all, and just tell them all to find any dress in purple. What great pictures, don't you think? Maybe I'd tell them no super-light lilac, but anything else would be OK.

On the other hand, two of my bridesmaids are medical residents and I haven't talked to either of them for more than 10 minutes in the last few months, and I'm sure they don't have time to go shopping for a dress of their choosing. Everyone else is also very busy. Believe me, I've even gotten, "just tell us what to wear, and it will be fine" from one or two of them, so I am led to believe that sometimes, too much choice can be a bad thing.

So that's where I stand on bridesmaid dresses at the moment. Same designer, same color, different fabrics, different styles. I think we can still set up that dresses-on-a-hanger photo with much success, don't you?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ladyfingers Catering Tasting Event

Looking for a caterer in Louisville? I got this email the other day (unfortunately, I won't be able to attend, since I'm still here at the beach):


12901 Old Henry Rd



For Your Upcoming Events…

Wedding, Christmas Party, Company Picnic, or Gala

We would like to invite you to our Open House Tasting

Thursday July 17, 2008

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Please RSVP include event date or coordinators name/company

*If you have any special request for the tasting please let us know when you RSVP*

Limit 2 tickets per Party – additional tickets available at $15.00 per person

Donna Brown
Marketing Director
Ladyfingers Catering
12901 Old Henry Rd.
Louisville KY 40223

Proud Exclusive Caterer for The Barnstable Brown Party and The Kentucky Bourbon Festival

It sounds like it's free for up to 2 people. Good deal for free food (which every medical student is always on the lookout for)!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brussels wedding?

While wandering around Brussels last week, I couldn't help but think about a European wedding. The city gardens are a mix of the wild English type and manicured French type, the streets are crowded with tall, ornate rowhomes, and the whole city is so beautiful and quintessentially ... European. Gorgeous. If only there were money to fly everyone to Belgium. I'd have a ceremony with lots of French words thrown in, everyone would drink Trappist and lambic beers (mmmmm, beer), and we would dine on mussels and frites. Sounds good, non?

Here's some Belgian inspiration for you:

These are MASSIVE white hydrangeas growing outside the Eglise Notre Dame du Sablon (Our Lady of Sablon Church), which is at the end of the street where my parents live. I'm not normally one for hydrangeas, but these were so huge and luscious that I couldn't help but think of wedding bouquets when I saw them.

A Bruxelloise wedding dress boutique. We couldn't decide if the red dress was better suited for bridesmaids or a bride.

In case you were wondering what "wedding registry" is in French, it's "listes de mariage." This store on the Grand Sablon was so cute, kind of like an Anthropologie for household goods.

This store, also on the Grand Sablon, was chock full of adorable dishes with bright, bold, beautiful patterns. It made me contemplate registering for china, for sure. And I now have an urge to have multiple pie plates so I can display them on their sides, as in the picture above.

We aren't having a church wedding, but if I had access to churches that look like this, I might reconsider. (Clockwise from top left: the back of Notre Dame du Sablon, Cathedrale des Saints Michel et Gudule, unknown church on Rue Royale)

This is much more my style. The wedding party could walk up the Grand Sablon (top left) and bypass Notre Dame du Sablon at the end for the Parc d'Egmont behind it (top right). Egmont happens to be my favorite Beethoven overture, as luck would have it. Or how about having the wedding in Parc de Bruxelles, right across from the Royal Palace (middle left) or in the very French-looking botanical gardens (bottom left)? Of course, the most Bruxelloise of all would be the Grand Place, which is by far the most beautiful square I've ever seen (middle and bottom right).

It would be fun, that's for sure.