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,, 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 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, 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 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)
-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!!?!?!!?!?!?!?!


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!