Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recaps, Part 1

A couple things have been contributing to my procrastination regarding posting recaps of the wedding. The first is that I don't know where to start; the second is that I feel like I have no time these days to post. The second still holds true, but I can still jot down my memories here and there when I have time -- after all, my other fear is that I'm going to forget all of these little details! As for the first, well, I'll just start with something random and go from there.

The week of the wedding, my friend and bridesmaid Marjorie flew into town on Wednesday around noon. I had spent the earlier part of the week making sure the apartment was clean and doing other wedding-related projects, I'm sure -- that's probably when I was designing and printing the programs. I picked her up from the airport and we headed straight over to Meghan Hicks's house to drop off my dress for steaming. Meghan did an amazing job with my dress bustle and alterations, and had mentioned that if I had trouble getting my dress steamed, she could do it. Well, after weeks of procrastination followed by making a few last-minute phone calls and realizing that stores charge an arm and a leg for dress steaming, I called up Meghan and asked her if she could still do it. After all, I'd rather support her than some nameless shop. So we dropped off my dress and then went out to lunch.

Actually, my memory is now failing me and I don't remember the details of what we ate and when, and what day we ran which little errand. So there goes my chronological recap. Instead, these are the things Marjorie and I did between Wednesday and Friday, in no particular order:

-Ate at Stevens and Stevens. Yum, yum, yum.

-Picked up a new large plastic bag to put my newly steamed wedding dress in when we picked it up. We stopped at a dry cleaner's and I asked to purchase a single long bag. The owner looked at me funny. Confirmed I only wanted one. And gave it to me -- for free! I tried to offer her payment, but she just shook her head and wished me a good day. Yay for small happy things.

-Pressed all of our table runners (purchased from another bride, and for resale now):


-Finished printing out programs, Flickr cards, our table number signs, and other assorted signs; details and pictures to follow. I bought a brand new color cartridge for our inkjet printer specifically for wedding projects, and am really happy I did. The other thing that got a lot of use was my two paper cutters. It was quite a crafty week!

-Got beautified at Clique for waxing -- I had only recently heard of this place, and I'm mad I didn't find it sooner, because I highly recommend it and would go back, if only I hadn't moved immediately after! And we also got pedicures, because I figured it would be hard to get that done during the wedding weekend itself.

-Made our wedding arch and spray-painted it black. The arch was purchased from Save On Crafts for $15.99, which is about $70 less than every other arch I had found, most of which are meant for permanent placement in gardens. It was flimsy, but it did the job:

We got spray paint, small terra cotta pots, and sand from Wal-Mart. We intended for the feet of the arch to be inserted into the pots of sand (to make it heavy enough to not be blown away), but the person who pitched in in the end to help with last-minute set up used pipe cleaners to attach the arch to the fence behind it, and propped the legs next to the pots, instead of placing them in them. Oh well. It didn't blow away, which is all that mattered.

-And the biggest thing of all, we prepped all the flowers! I ordered wholesale flowers from FiftyFlowers.com, FarmsToGo.com, and Costco.com. Bridesmaid Jamie used her Costco membership to help me out with the Costco ordering, and I had no troubles with the others. The flowers were all delivered on Friday, and as soon as they got there, we got to work prepping them and putting them in water. It was a LOT of work -- more than I had anticipated, and I should have recruited more people to help us out. I'll do a full flowers recap later, with lots of details and pictures.

If Marjorie hadn't come to help me out, I don't know what I would have done. She was so helpful, and only complained a little bit in the face of my DIY craziness, and put up with all of my last-minute stress. A lot of my other friends and family couldn't come early because of things going on with their lives -- my sister graduated from college two days before the wedding, and everyone else has jobs they couldn't take extra time off from, my fiance included, and if it weren't for the fact that Marjorie and I had were in the time between medical school graduation and beginning residency, I would have been totally up a creek.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hello Again!

I know I've been gone forEVER, but not without good reason.

First, there was the week of insanity leading up to the wedding weekend.
Then, there was the wedding weekend.
Then, there was the honeymoon.
Then we got back from the honeymoon and had to move immediately, so we packed up the apartment and loaded the moving truck -- ourselves -- in a day and a half.
Then we drove to Philadelphia, closed on our first house (!!!), and unloaded the truck.
That was two weeks ago, and it's been filled with unpacking boxes and trying to get settled.

And oh yeah, I started my intern year!

So I have lots and lots and lots of updating. But in the meantime, here is a treat for you:


Wedding Highlights - Campbell from Paul Routon Jr on Vimeo.



So that should keep you occupied for a couple days, at least :)
I promise I'll be back with lots of updates about how everything went, my crazy DIY projects -- including DIY flowers! -- and lots and lots of photos. As soon as I get a chance to catch my breath!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wow!

Only 9 days to go, and things have been crazy the last two weeks!

Last week was my graduation week, filled with awesome Senior Week activities and culminating with my speech to probably more than 1,000 people (biggest audience yet!) and getting my hood and diploma. Woohoo! Eric came for the weekend and in between the festivities we had our final meeting with our caterer to finalize all the little details AND got our marriage license!

This week has been full-fledged wedding-related. Among the larger things to do is the very nebulous "clean the apartment." The guest bathroom is sparkling, and the rest of the rooms are presentable, at least; a good scouring and vacuuming will come this weekend.

Our second bedroom, which we used to use as an office, but which was subletted out to my old roommate until the first of the month, is now an office again. And it's filled to the brim with everything for the wedding. All the alcohol is here now (my friends and I took a trip to Nashville the other day to buy 10 cases of Yuengling!), and our 100 vases, plus all the other assorted decorations. It's semi-organized, but still threatening to take over at least half of the room. Another quarter of the room is filled with empty boxes I've accumulated over the last few months that we'll need for transporting wedding items and for packing.

The to-do list is still pretty long, but the big things are done: reception numbers are in, rehearsal dinner numbers are in, and the music is done. I had my hair trial during graduation week, and it held up great. I'll talk to the photographer and videographer this week to make final plans. The big things will get taken care of, and the little things are just little things.

I don't know if I'll feel the urge to blog in the next week, since things will be so crazy, and I kind of thrive under those kinds of conditions, so here are just a few final thoughts:

-My aunt and uncle were planning to come, but it turns out my uncle's brain cancer is back, and he's having surgery around the time of the wedding instead. I'm sad I won't be able to see them, but I hope everything goes well with his treatment.
-The wife of one of Eric's cousins wasn't going to be able to come, we had been told, because she's due to give birth in July, and while I questioned that (I can get into obstetrics rants at another time, but it's usually not a medically necessary restriction), I accepted it. We got their RSVP in the mail yesterday, though, and it looks like she's coming! I'm quite excited about that.
-I didn't believe it would happen, but we got two RSVP cards with no names on them! Even though there's a line that specifically says "Name(s):" I'm so glad I secretly numbered them on the back so I could match them up to the guest list. The best part? They came from a son and his mother! When I figured it out, I laughed.


Sorry they're rotated; I can't be bothered with figuring out how to fix that right now.

Finally, I've been watching the weather. If you live oh, anywhere in the eastern half of the country, you've had some crazy rains the last few weeks. But the 10-day forecast was showing rain yesterday through this weekend for Louisville, and then becoming sunny and warm next week. As of this morning, there's a forecast for our wedding day, and it's great! Partly cloudy, high 78, 10% chance of precipitation, and sunset at 8:55 pm (so we can go back to the Glassworks roof for sunset pictures!). Wonderful!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This is what one month of mail looks like

When it's the month before your wedding month:

I had all my mail held at the post office while I was in New Jersey this past month. I got home late last night and found most of those boxes inside my apartment, put there by my building manager for the UPS guy. I woke up early this morning to go pick up all the rest of the mail, which consisted of the large Kohl's box, a smaller box you can't see, and that large red bin full of mail.

Including all of our RSVPs!

Now I just have to unpack my car, put everything away in the apartment, and get re-settled. My roommate moved out this weekend before I got home, so the apartment is all mine again, and I can spread out all the wedding crap in the other bedroom!

Let the countdown begin!

Oh yeah, even though I really really really want to open all of those boxes, I'm waiting until this weekend, when Eric comes for my graduation. He should get to enjoy opening them, too, right?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Four Weeks to Go!

With four weeks to go, the checklist is getting smaller, but still remains substantial. Here are some random thoughts:

-Last Friday was nice and we sat outside for lunch with our real estate agent in Philly. We were only partially shaded by the overhang from the restaurant, and my right arm got a little sun. In the back of my mind, a little bell went off. Ding ding ding! You don't want any tan lines in a strapless dress! Yesterday, it was really gorgeous out, and after putting in our offer for our first house (!!!), we put the top down on my car to head to a friend's cookout. My arms got a little more sun, and I got a teeny tiny farmer's tan. Not good. I use an SPF 15 face lotion every morning, but I think it's time to start applying sunscreen to my shoulders, arms, and neckline regularly as well.

-It's supposed to be 90 degrees today. I'm living 15 minutes from the beach. I didn't bring a bathing suit out here and I'm not supposed to get tan. Bummer.

-On the fitness front, things aren't going so well. I was doing pretty well with weight loss last month before I came out here to NJ. But Eric doesn't have a kitchen in his efficiency, so we survive on microwaveable food or eat out. Not so good for the waist line. And then we were supposed to be training for a 5K that was to have taken place yesterday, but the last two weeks have been so cold and rainy I wasn't able to train much. At the last minute, we scheduled our house offer meeting with our agent for yesterday morning instead, so I didn't have to run. Whew.

-Eric ordered a wedding band and we found pocket squares for the guys (instead of boutonnieres). At every jewelry store we went to, they asked how long until the wedding, and when he replied, "A month from today," they all responded with variations on the theme of "Wow, you need to get your ring!" Yes, thank you, that's why we're here. He got a white gold band with a brushed satin finish in the center, should be in within 2 weeks. He still needs to settle on groomsmen presents, though.

-Eric's bachelor party was last weekend, and ... no more drunkenness for either of us from here on out.

-My bachelorette party is this coming weekend. I expect it to be tamer than his party was anyway, but still, no drunkenness on my part.

-We need to finish making our music playlist. We don't have a first dance song yet...

-We have no idea what our ceremony is going to be like. No readings picked out, no outline. To be honest, it bothers me more because I need to make programs, not because I want to know what the ceremony is going to be like...

-We've started using a teeth whitening system. It makes my teeth sensitive, so we do it every other day instead of every day. We forgot to take "before" pictures, but I'm not sure I see any results yet (we've done it three times so far, out of seven).

-We've stopped chewing on our fingernails and cuticles. With semi-success. I might need to get regular manicures from here on out to prevent me from biting. When I do my own manicure, the mental block to stop me from fiddling with them doesn't exist, but when I pay money for it... Seriously, you'd think I could have better self control than this.

-I'm going to place my flower orders tomorrow. Yay!

-The number of smaller things we still have left to do is pretty large, but I'm also ignoring a lot of them. Either they happen, or they don't. In the meantime, I can't wait until tomorrow to find out if our house offer got accepted!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So what am I going to make with all of these flowers? Here's the list:

One bouquet for me
7 bouquets for the bridesmaids
1 flower girl container of some sort (basket, flower ball, flower wand, etc)
3 corsages of some sort
15 centerpieces
Decorations for our altar/arbor
A cake topper
An arrangement for the entryway/escort card table.

Whew, right?

Nothing will be too fussy; the general idea is that by saving money we can have lots of flowers, and the beauty of the flowers will be in the fact that there are so many of them (1,885, to be exact!). I think it will work out beautifully. I might still farm out the corsages to a florist, but I have time to make that decision. Eric doesn't want boutonnieres, so I don't have to make or buy any, and the guys will wear pocket squares instead. The aisle decorations will be paper lanterns, so no flowers needed there. Anything I'm forgetting?

Now, for the logistics. First, I have to place the order, and I'm going to do that soon, assuming I don't decide to change the color scheme :) They'll be delivered on Thursday and Friday of the wedding week (Sunday wedding, remember), and I'll tend to them and get them into water and let them open until Saturday morning. Saturday will be flower day, and when they're all done we'll bring them over to the reception site to be stored overnight.

To keep the apartment chilly enough to not have the flowers burst open upon arriving, I'll be turning the air conditioning down a few degrees for a few days (ozone layer, please forgive me!). I have to acquire some 5 gallon buckets to hold the flowers in, as well as some floralife to keep the flowers happy, and some oasis foam forms for the arbor arrangement and cake topper. To make it a group project, I got a few pairs of floral shears (I got them in the Target $1 aisle sometime last year, when they were selling lots of gardenening stuff). I've already acquired about 100 assorted small vases from various thrift stores to use on the reception tables, so we'll be putting multiple small vase arrangements on each table to add to the feeling of overabundance. The plan is that any crafty bridesmaids, friends, or relatives who want to help out on Saturday, can, and everyone else can hang out on their own in Louisville or head down to Churchill Downs, where a group will be headed.

I acknowledge that it sounds like a lot, but I'm fully prepared to tackle this project, and to not freak out if for some reason it all goes horribly wrong. You read it here: I hereby promise not to freak out if for some reason the flowers go horribly wrong!

I don't have too much of a plan for the actual designs themselves. For the bridesmaid bouquets, if the bridesmaids want to pick out their own flowers or make their own bouquets, that will be great. For the centerpieces, all the vases will just have a mix of flowers, and same for the arch and escort card table arrangement. The only big question mark left is my own bouquet. Once upon a time, I really loved the idea of a cascading bouquet in all white. Right now, multi-colored hand-tied bouquets are really popular. I like the idea of both. What should I do?


All white, cascading bouquet (source). Granted, it looks a little dated with the ivy, but you get the idea:

Colored, hand-tied (source):

Another colored, probably hand-tied bouquet (source):


All white, cascade (source):

Maybe the fact that all of the cascade bouquet pictures I can find all line look so dated should tell me that I'm leaning toward a really 80s look?

But wait! Here are some viable options:

Colored cascade, smaller scale, with ruscus instead of ivy (source):

Another colored bouquet (it's even purple and green!), sort of a cross between hand-tied and cascade, with amaranthus to give it the cascading look (source):

According to The Knot, I should pick a smaller round bouquet because I'm petite, a smaller round bouquet because my dress profile is slimmer, a smaller cascade because the wedding is in a loft-type space, or a smaller hand-tied bouquet because the ceremony is outdoors. Hmm, that doesn't help me much, other than telling me I should keep my bouquet small (boo; I like big ones!).

Round or cascade, white or colored? Decisions, decisions. Something tells me I'll decide on Saturday, May 23, as I'm about to put it together...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Engagement Photos Have Been Blogged!

Two weekends ago, Eric and I met up with Carmen of Carmen Fong Photography, to cash in on the free engagement session we won last year. We met down in College Park, on the UMD campus, to show some alumni school spirit. It was a miserable, rainy, cold day, but Carmen was awesome and trekked around campus with us. Eventually it stopped raining, but I don't think the sun ever came out until we were driving back up to NJ/PA later that evening. It's OK, though; I've heard a few times, and Carmen agreed, that cloudy days are good for pictures because you're not worrying about glare or shadows or squinty eyes. That's the silver lining!

Carmen was awesome to work with, and I'm really sorry we're getting married in Louisville and that we already have a photographer booked, because I would love to have her as our wedding photographer! Unlike the other engagement session we had a long time ago, in which the unexperienced photographer we modeled for made me stressed out beyond belief by not giving us any instruction whatsoever, Carmen was very cognizant of the fact that Eric and I have no clue about anything photographically related, and gave us very clear instructions to help make us not look like idiots. Professional models we are not, no matter how much America's Next Top Model I watch.

After a great photo session, complete with an outfit change for me, and tons of help from my sister Laurel, I blog stalked Carmen ritually, even during last weekend, when she told me she would be in Las Vegas.

And yesterday, my stalking was rewarded! We've been blogged!

Here are my favorites, stolen off of Carmen's blog. All credits to Carmen Fong Photography, of course!

Once I realized the forecast for the weekend included rain, I packed my new rain boots and bright yellow jacket and figured I'd make the best of it. I got this jacket at Gap a few years ago on clearance, and I always receive compliments on it. I love it. Laurel brought the awesome umbrella, which immediately got earmarked as a prop.


I like this one because it showcases what I call the "M Circle," which visitors coming through the main campus entrance see and which gets replanted in Maryland colors periodically. I was initially a teensy tiny bit disappointed to see that it was yellow and not red (my favorite), but it matches my jacket perfectly! I love the composition of this shot.

We asked Carmen to take a photo of us that conforms to the New York Times wedding announcement guidelines:

Couples posing for pictures should arrange themselves with their eyebrows on exactly the same level and with their heads fairly close together. Couple pictures should be printed in a horizontal format.
Talk about specific! I submitted our wedding announcement the week before our photo shoot, and now all I need to do is submit the photo. Whether we get in or not remains to be seen, but it's exciting to think about!

Here's one of the photos from our NYT pose:

To be honest, I hope some of the others in that series turn out a little better, but not because of Carmen's photography. My face looks a little fat (I'm going to have to remember that's not the best angle for me!), my hair looks a little wet (smallest of the problems), and Eric's eyes look a little tired (he WAS tired, though). Or maybe I'm just being hypercritical. We'll see how the others turn out.

Eric really likes this one, as evidenced by the fact that it's now his Facebook profile pic:

We're so excited about our photos that we've even been discussing whether to scrap our original plan for a guest book -- a coffee table book of Louisville -- and make a photo book of our engagement photos instead, to share with everyone at the wedding.

Go check out the rest yourself! We had a great time working with Carmen, and I can't wait to see the rest of our photos! If you're looking for a photographer in the DC area (or anywhere -- she'll travel!), I highly recommend getting in touch with her. Thank you, Carmen!!!

Flowers chosen?

Sorry, I know it's been a long time since I've given you any sort of meaningful attention, Harry Kalas aside. There isn't too much big stuff going on, just lots of little progress every day, chipping away at various things on the to-do list.

Well, here's an update for you. I think I've decided what flowers to order!

I worked at a florist in college, which was by far one of the best jobs I've ever had. Even on the most stressful day (think Valentine's Day), you were super busy boxing and wrapping up dozens of beautiful flowers. How stressful can that really be? I loved seeing the wedding flowers that we put together, and developed a very strong sense of what flowers I preferred. I will admit to one day, 9 years ago (oh my gosh, has it really been that long!?), writing down what I wanted my wedding bouquet to look like. My tastes haven't changed too much in the ensuing years, I have to admit.

One of the best/worst things about working at a florist was the development of the idea that I am capable of doing my own wedding flowers. A double-edged sword, to be sure, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for everyone, due to the stress that is sure to come with it. And who knows, after the wedding, I might not recommend it to anyone!

Actually, I'm really excited and looking forward to being able to work on my own flowers, although some of the logistics are going to require attention. Over the last few days, I've been perusing bulk flower websites, and here's what I've decided to order:


I'm aiming for mostly purple (all shades) and green, with a hint of pink. Sort of a wild, loosy goosey look, not too structured. Does this meet the mark?

Here's the flower breakdown:
Lavender roses
Pink/white bicolor roses
White spray roses
Purple lisianthus
Lavender sweet pea
White alstromeria
Purple alstromeria
Bupleurum (green)
Purplush/bluish limonium
Assorted colors of hypericum berries (for the berries in our "vines and berries" motif) (I'm hoping there's not too many red ones in the mix, but more of the green, pink, and peachy ones)
Assorted colors of statice (any color this comes in will be fine, except for maybe the hot pink)
And for greens, I'm using ruscus (evoking the vines in our motif) and lemonleaf.

I don't want too much of a pastel color scheme, but there are more flowers that come in bright pinks than come in bright purples. Hopefully the purple lisianthus will help keep things in the bold spectrum.

What do you think about the sweet pea? It comes in a variety of bold pink colors, but not a true purple, only lavender. Stick with the purple shade and risk being too pastel, or trade it for a darker pink and risk bringing too much pink into the mix? Similarly, trade in the lavender roses for something else (white or pink?) or leave them alone?

I actually have no problems with pink, and love bold pink flowers, but I've seen a few pictures of florals done in all purple and they're really nice looking, too, so I think that's what I'm going to go for. On the other hand, the eggplant bridesmaid dresses might look nice with a punch of pink, don't you think? Or should I stick with the color scheme and go all purple and green? You see where I'm getting stuck...

I traded the ability to pick the exact varieties of some of the flowers (roses and alstro in particular) for the lower price that comes with just ordering "lavender" roses. Hopefully they'll be blue curiosas, but if not, it won't be the end of the world.

Here's an interesting dilemma that occurs when ordering bulk flowers: They only come in bulk sizes! So if you want a huge variety of flowers, you quickly end up adding $3000+ worth of flowers to your online shopping cart and kicking yourself because one of the main points of doing your own flowers was to save money! Or you can find sites that let you buy in smaller quantity, but you end up spending just as much money because the unit price goes up a lot. For example, I originally had lilies, ranunculus, amaranthus, freesia, anemones, and delphinium in the mix, not to mention a bunch of other shades of roses, lisianthus, and alstromeria. But I really don't need 100 of each flower. Well, I'm sure I could decide that I did need them, but our budget can't take it. Instead, if the deliveries arrive and I still wish I had some lily, freesia, or anemones to help balance the color scheme, or I still wish I had some amaranthus just for the luxury, I can head across the street to our local florist or out to Whole Foods to see what I can get on short notice and in small quantities.

So that's the plan for what to order. Have any suggestions for colors/flowers? I welcome them! In a later post, I'll talk about what I'm going to make with all of these flowers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No good titles come to mind, but this is about Harry Kalas

Yesterday afternoon, I was eating a Wawa turkey hoagie and watching some HGTV while playing around online, and I saw a Facebook status update from Eric: "Harry Kalas is found passed out in the press box in DC and taken to the hospital. Not good."

I immediately hit the "Sports" link on cnn.com, which was the other tab I had open in Firefox, and when that didn't give me any news, I went over to Philly.com. And there, the headline told me that Kalas was not just unconscious, but had been taken to GW Hospital and pronounced dead.

This news has hit many people very hard, including Eric. He's a diehard baseball fan, and one who has enjoyed sharing his knowledge and love of baseball with me (although it's been extremely frustrating for him at times, I'm sure!). Harry Kalas has been announcing Phillies games for what seems like forever, and his instantly recognizable voice is known to many baseball fans, regardless of their team affiliation. His death is the talk of the town today in Philadelphia, still.

But the headline hit me like a punch in the gut for another reason. And then I felt instantly guilty, but still couldn't shake my initial reaction and emotion: "Sh*t. I wonder if he did the recording yet?"

Yeah, I hate to be THAT bride, that wedding-centric bride, but Kalas's untimely death had a personal connection, a wedding connection, and that's where my mind flew first.

~~~

You see, sometime last year I read about two weddings in which Harry recorded the introduction of the wedding party into the reception. One was via Weddingbee; one of the Bees attended a wedding in Philly where this happened, and blogged about it. The other was via a Philly DJ who blogs, and I happened upon his website completely randomly, looking for information on paper lanterns or something like that, and read about a wedding he had done where Harry made the wedding party introductions. I instantly knew it was an awesome idea, and, if I could pull it off, the best surprise for Eric ever.

After idly wandering around the internet looking for Harry's contact info (I'm not sure if I expected him to have a public Phillies email address or not), I finally called the Phillies one day, and was told that Harry didn't make recordings like that. When I explained that I knew of two weddings where it had occurred, the Phillies girl replied, "Well, it must have been a personal favor for someone he knew." I somehow doubted that, and pressed again for a mailing address (at that point, I figured a real letter would be better than an email). She gave it to me, and in early February, I sent off a letter to Harry, asking if he would pretty please record our wedding party introduction. I believe I promised to be future season ticket holders someday, and to raise our children in the glorious Phillies tradition.

The last weekend in February, I went skiing in Snowshoe, WV, where there is no cell phone reception. On the drive back to Louisville, once we regained contact with the outside world, my friend Noah (who I was traveling with) and I both logged into our voicemail accounts. And all of a sudden, as I was listening to my messages, I exclaimed, "Holy #$!%!" causing Noah to wonder if he was about to drive off a West Virginia cliff.

Because there was HIS voice. On my voicemail. "Holly, this is Harry Kalas with the Phillies. I got your letter, and I would be happy to introduce your wedding party when you get married in May. The way you go about that would be to contact Mr. Rob Brooks. His number at the Phillies is ... and he'll tell you how to go about it. You can send a script, or fax or email a script to him, and then we can get it done before the nuptuals. I'd be happy to do it, my very best wishes to you and yours! Thanks."

Harry Kalas! On MY voicemail! It's a classic Harry cadence, with funny emphasis here and there, but all his own. Noah, who wasn't familiar with Harry, remarked, "He has the most announcer-y voice I've ever heard!"

Over the next couple of weeks, I got in touch with Rob Brooks, broadcasting manager for the Phillies, and found out what I had to do. Brooks urged me to get my script in soon, because the team would only be in Philadelphia for four days during their first at-home stretch, and if I could get it in then, Harry could record it.

I enlisted the help of Eric's sister, Paige, and friend-and-groomsman Shea, who is the other biggest baseball nut I know. We put together a pretty good script, and I saved it until last Sunday evening, Phillies Opening Day, hoping I could hear some other Harry-isms to insert. I was really pissed when I realized the TV broadcast was being called by the ESPN guys (I probably just revealed my own baseball stupidity there, but oh well). So off the script went to Brooks, with a question about how to make my requested contribution to the Phillies Charities in return for Harry's services.

Two nights ago, I realized I hadn't yet heard back from Brooks regarding how to make my payment, and made a mental note to contact him the next day. But before I could, Harry died.

~~~

So there I was, sitting on the living room floor, stunned. "Sh*t. I wonder if he did the recording yet?"

Crap. I can't believe THAT was my first thought! What kind of horrible person AM I?


But seriously, I wonder if he recorded it yet?!?!

A text message sent to Paige and Shea conveyed the news: "Um, Harry Kalas just died." I knew they would understand the hidden message: What do I do now?

Yeah, I'm THAT bride. Let's just all accept it and move on.

What if the recording hadn't been made?
What if it HAD been made? Could I still use it at the reception?

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that no matter what, Eric deserved to be told that night. The surprise would come 41 days early, but it would still be a surprise. So yesterday evening when we both got home, I told him I had some news. He looked worried, and said, "Is it good or bad?" and I responded, "It's mixed." I didn't even know what to say to him, so I just put my cell phone on speaker, dialed into my voicemail, and gave him the phone.

He had a surprisingly blank look on his face -- that's the reporter in him, I guess, having learned not to show too much emotion, as well as the poker player in him, too -- and I didn't know what he was thinking. But then he responded in the way I knew he would -- he was really surprised, and also touched. The "surprise" was ruined, but he still knew that I had planned it.

So now we're in a weird situation. I clearly can't contact Rob Brooks anytime soon, but I can't stop wondering if Harry had recorded our announcement yet or not. And even if he had, would they still send it to me? And if they did, could we still use it? And what do I do with Harry's voice saved on my phone? I'd like to download the message and save it on my computer instead of my phone; I guess that's something I'll be looking into soon.

Other people have written great things in memory of the great Harry Kalas, and I'm not going to attempt to add anything to that, because I just wouldn't feel qualified. But this is my own personal connection to him, a weird, spooky story that I had to share.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Crafting the Invitations -- Budget

The whole invitation recap:
Crafting the Invitations -- Graphics
Crafting the Invitations -- Layout
Crafting the Invitations -- Envelopes
Crafting the Invitations -- Rehearsal Dinner Invitation
Crafting the Invitations -- Assembly

I decided to go DIY with the invitations for two reasons: complete control over every detail and the potential to save some money. I definitely accomplished goal #1. Let's see how I did with goal #2:

Graphic design help from Sue: $20 (Thank goodness for Etsy Alchemy!)
Cardstock, package of 250: $20
Only used 130 sheets, so $10.40
Printing at The Reliable Printing Company: $100 + tax = $106
150 envelopes from ActionEnvelopes: $41.67 including s&h
5 sheets of Unryu Thread Paper from PaperMojo.com: $2.20 each + approx s&h = $13 (I bought some other things in the same shipment so I'm estimating the shipping for just the Unryu paper here)
Pack of striped embossed greeting cards: $1.99 + tax = $2.10
Roll of Zots: ~$3
Package of very flat Glue Dots: ~$3
Only used about 2/3 pack: $1.85
Package of sticko brand repositionable tape: $0.75 (Yup! On clearance for 75% off!)

TOTAL: $198.77 Divided by 100 invitations: $1.98/invitation

Don't forget, that includes the rehearsal dinner invitation, too!

We also used 84 postcard stamps (27-cents each), and 84 first-class stamps (42-cents each), and had to send 9 invitations overseas. I estimate we saved about $27 by using a 42-cent and 27-cent stamp on each invitation/RSVP card, rather than a 59-cent and 42-cent stamp if we had had a heavier invitation and used an RSVP envelope. It's not a ton of money, but $27 counts for something!

I also haven't factored into the equation things like the calligraphy marker I used, because I also used it for the save-the-dates and will be able to use it again in the future. Same goes for the new color ink cartridge I bought; it will be used for printing the programs and escort cards and all sorts of random wedding paper paraphernalia. The various pieces of scrapbook paper I bought as inspiration for the design will definitely get used at some point in time for something, so I'm not going to count those, either, and it was less than $10, anyway.

I could have saved a little more by printing at Kinko's instead of using the local printer (about $22), but I definitely would not have gotten the complete, personalized attention of someone as amazing as Eric. I also could have saved on the per-invitation cost by buying envelopes from a different company, but I would have had to have bought a package of 250, leaving me with 100+ extra envelopes at the end. Sure, I could turn around and try to resell them, but that's an added stress I don't want to deal with at this point. As it is, I still have almost 50 left over I'm not sure what to do with.

So $2/invitation really isn't that bad! It turns out that I met both of my goals by DIY-ing my invitations: complete obsessive control AND saving money!

The downside to all of this? I put in a lot of time and energy to get all of this done. Printing the envelopes, lining them, addressing them, and assembling the invitations alone took a good 15-20 hours over a week and a half. I spent almost two entire weekends just working on this stuff. I watched a lot of DVR-ed TV episodes during that time, including the entire current season of ER. Designing the invitation and rehearsal dinner were also pretty time consuming, although it was spread out over a number of months, so it wasn't too bad. Next year, as an Ob/Gyn intern, I'll be making roughly $11.50/hour before taxes*, so I figure those 20 hours of invitation assembly alone were worth $200+.

Never mind, let's not keep going with those calculations. They're too depressing.

Anyway, what I was saying was that I put a lot of time and energy into these babies, and if I hadn't been totally committed to it and enjoyed doing it, it would totally not have been worth it. But I'm really happy that I created something that was exactly as I envisioned it, and I didn't mind doing it myself this once. After all, I won't be making wedding invitations for myself ever again, and not for anyone else anytime soon. So I won't attempt to calculate what that time could have been worth.

I hope you've enjoyed this little recap of my most time-consuming wedding project to date. Don't worry, there are lots of other projects in the works! I have all of April and May off to do nothing but plan, plan, plan!

*$45,000/year, with 3 weeks of vacation plus 1 week off for either Christmas or New Year's, working 80 hours/week. And let's hope it's only 80 hours/week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crafting the Invitations -- Assembly

Finally, it was time to assemble everything.

To refresh your memory, here is our invitation suite:

I simply stacked the RSVP card on top of the invitation, and stacked the insert card on top of that. In between the invitation and RSVP card, I slipped our rehearsal dinner invitation.

The RSVP card is a postcard, so I made sure to pre-stamp it:

The front of the card asks our guests to RSVP for both the wedding and the rehearsal dinner, and asks where they're staying and what day they're arriving. That way, I'll be able to make sure I get an out of town bag to everyone. We're having a buffet, so no food choices were necessary.

I used leftover strips of the purple Unryu Thread Paper to create 1/2" wide belly bands to hold everything together. I didn't want to use an actual inner envelope for most of the reasons already discussed in previous posts -- extra money to buy them, extra wasted paper being thrown away, and added weight threatening the 1 oz limit. Instead, I put the inner envelope information on a small piece of cardstock.

The cardstock actually came from these blank greeting cards I found at Archivers while looking for other stuff. They were in the cheap bin, and were a great find! They're embossed in a stripe pattern, so they added a little bit of architectural interest to the layout, rather than just a boring piece of flat cardstock:
I only ended up using a handful of them, too. First I cut each card in between those stripes to create strips 5.5" x ~1". Then I trimmed off the unembossed ends, leaving me with a 5" strip. I cut that strip into either two 2.5" pieces or a 2" and 3" piece, depending on how much I needed to write on each one. I wrote the guests' names on using a purple roller ball pen, and it went on top of the belly band. The belly band was attached with a Zot and the "inner envelope" cardstock was attached to the belly band with another Zot.

The completed assembly:

I'm a little wishy-washy about the size of the belly band. I think, if I were to do it again, I would make them at least 5/8" wide, rather than 1/2" wide. I've seen some examples of really fat belly bands, too, and while that might look nice, I really didn't want to waste too much paper. In the end, I'm satisfied with it.


Into the envelope it goes!
The repositionable sticky tape I had used to attach the liner to the envelope ended up remaining fairly repositionable after a few days, and that made me nervous. So at the last minute, I secured everything down with a permanent Glue Dot, one of the very flat ones, so everything remained nice and smooth.

And then all that's left is to seal and stamp it!
We went with the Chinese New Year stamps. Neither of us is an ox, but it's a small nod to my heritage.

In the end, they weighed 7/8 oz each, perfect for a single first class stamp!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crafting the Invitations -- Rehearsal Dinner Invitation

I know I've alluded to this a bunch of times but never got around to actually talking about it directly. For our rehearsal dinner, we're going to a Louisville Bats game! We knew from the start that we wanted a rehearsal dinner we could invite everyone to, since 90% of our guests are from out of town. That pretty much crossed fancy sit-down dinners off the list. I was excited by the possibility of having a big BBQ picnic at Cherokee Park, but then we came up with an even better idea -- going to a baseball game!

Everything worked out perfectly; the Bats (the triple-A affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds) are at home on our wedding weekend, and their Saturday night game starts at 6:15. We'll have a catered meal on the patio deck in right field, and then watch the game. Casual, laid-back, and a great group activity. Plus, since it's a minor league team, it's not too harsh on the wallet, either.

I wanted to make the rehearsal dinner invitation a little bit more laid-back and fun, to match the event. I thought about using catchy/witty wording, but nothing really came to me. I turned to the Weddingbee boards and asked for help, and an awesome girl named Melissa sent me the baseball ticket invitation her sister used for her engagement party:


Using that as inspiration, I turned to Google to look for pictures of other baseball tickets. I eventually came up with this:

Once I found THAT, it was just a few clicks and some minor frustration to produce this:
I'm still pretty impressed with myself over this one. It took a lot of photoshopping (using Paint.net) and layout trials and errors (using Open Office Draw), but it finally came together. The picture is from our engagement shoot in fall 2007. They're 7x3" and I laid them out three to a page and had Eric from The Reliable Printing Company print them out on the same cardstock we used for the invitation suite.

Even if you wanted a step-by-step for making something like this, I couldn't show it to you, because I just did everything a little bit at a time, with very few saves in between, until I had the final product. Conceptually it's not that hard, though: I made a single background of the ticket outline, bar code, and yellow banner, along with our faded engagement shot. Then I imported that into Draw and added the text for the seating assignment, Slugger Field address, the "MVP Holly and Eric" bit, the date/time info and the instructions at the bottom. The banner was a little bit frustrating to make, but I just played around with word art in various programs until I found something that wasn't too offensive.

I'm really happy with how this invitation came out, and I'm really looking forward to our rehearsal dinner! The only thing I'm kind of sad about is that I won't get to wear as fancy of a dress to the game as I might have to a sit-down dinner. And I have an awesome dress hanging in my closet I have never had the chance to wear. Oh well. I've also got plenty of more casual dresses that will look great, too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Crafting the Invitations -- Envelopes

Once the invitations were all printed, it was time to get the envelopes ready. I ordered samples from EnvelopesExpress.com, ActionEnvelope.com, and checked out every other envelope website I could find via Google. I also looked at the envelopes stocked at Arvey, my local awesome paper supply store. One of the frustrating things was that a lot of places only sold envelopes in large quantities, like hundreds, and I only needed about 125. In the end, we went with ActionEnvelope's 70-lb Bright White A8 envelopes, sold in packs of 50. They also have an 80-lb envelope, which feels nicer when compared to the 70-lb one, but I really wanted to stay within the 1-oz mark for weight, so I went with the lighter one. In the end, you can't tell.

The envelopes were the most expensive per-envelope that I looked at, but we ended up using them because they were the closest brightness to the cardstock we were using and they were the only ones I could buy in a pack of 150, rather than 200. If I had gone with a pack of 200, I guess I could have tried to resell them, but I feel better not having to rely on that. Sometimes it's worth it to spend a little more if it means you'll have less waste in the end.

I laid out our return address to print on the back flap (in the same purple color, of course), bought a new color ink cartridge for my very old HP Deskjet 810C (I got it in 1999!), and started printing. I had to play around with things a little bit, but it turned out if I printed them in batches of no more than 6, the printer stayed happy. So one afternoon I fed envelopes through the printer while catching up on my Google Reader reading.


The printer had a brain fart and only printed this much on one of the envelopes. Poor thing, I hope it lasts another two months through the rest of my wedding printing projects...

Running the envelopes through the printer made them all a little wrinkly, but I figured no one would notice by the time they got delivered and had all other sorts of marks and blemishes from the postal service:
Wrinkly, crinkly.

And here's the final product:


Next up was addressing and lining. I read a trick somewhere, at some point during the last almost two years of planning, that it's easier to address the envelopes first, and line them second. This allows you to use a wonderful tracing trick for guide lines. What you do is you take a piece of cardstock and draw straight lines across it. Place it inside the envelope, lines facing out, and you have guide lines to help you write straight!

Now, at what intervals should I make the guides? This is just one example of why I'm so happy I've saved every wedding invitation (and accompanying paper paraphernalia) I've ever received. I was able to pull out all the outer envelopes and do a little bit of measuring, and it turns out that 1/2" increments are pretty standard and look good:
Left to right: Bridesmaid Karen's invitation (2004), bridesmaid Paula's invitation (2007), bridesmaid Jamie's invitation (2008), longtime friend and penpal from the 3rd grade Becky's invitation (2007). Other invitations I've amassed over the last five years not shown.

Seriously, I'm so glad I save all of these, because I was constantly able to go back and look at what other people's invitations looked like, to make sure I wasn't doing anything weird.

Here's my guide card:

Using the guide card, I was easily able to address all my envelopes using my handy dandy purple calligraphy marker. I know I've talked about my handwriting before, but I can't resist showing it off just a little bit more...


Once all the envelopes were addressed, I lined them. I used Unryu Thread Paper in aubergine from PaperMojo.com. It's a gorgeous deep purple color, and has a very organic look to it.

First, I cut all the sheets to the right size:

Next, I lined the envelopes. Since my envelopes have square flaps, it was really easy to cut the liners, because I just made them all rectangular. No cutting rounded/pointed flaps out! I adhered the liners with repositionable sticky tape. I initially was going to use Glue Dots or Zots, but I found a roll of sticko brand refill tape at Archiver's for 75% off! It was a little annoying to work with an open roll of very sticky tape, but it was worth it. I wanted to use repositionable tape so that I could move the liners in case I made any mistakes, and I'm glad I did, because there were a few mistakes. At that point, with the envelopes already addressed, I really didn't want to have to start completely over if I screwed up the liner.

Put the tape down, position the liner:


Peel the tape backing up, attach the liner:


And voila!


Beautiful purple-lined envelopes, ready for stuffing!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crafting the Invitations -- Layout

While I was waiting for my graphics to be professionalized (yes, I just made up a word), I laid out my invitation using Open Office Draw (another free program, kind of like Power Point, but with a few other features that make it more friendly for print layout).

One principle I had when starting to design my invitation suite was to waste as little paper as possible, and, envisioning that I might be the one using a paper cutter, to try to limit the number of cuts needed. Therefore, I tried to lay out all three pieces of the suite on a single piece of 8.5x11" paper.

Now, if you're going to design your invitations, you need to know ahead of time what the various standard sizes are. You can cut paper to any size you want, but unless you also want to spend time making custom envelopes, it's better to stick with sizes that are widely available.

About a year ago, when I first got into my invitation planning craze, I looked up all the various sizes, and here's what I found (table by me, in case you want to borrow it):

I did some paper-and-pencil layouts on regular paper, and came up with a few different ideas:
1. Make an A8 invitation, a 4 1/4 x 6" RSVP card, and a 2 1/2 x 4 1/4" insert. Put in an A8 inner envelope and use an A9 outer envelope.
2. Make an A9 invitation, a 4 1/4 x 6" RSVP card, and a 2 1/2 x 4 1/4" insert. Wrap in vellum to create a pseduo inner envelope or make a belly band to hold the suite together, and use an A9 envelope.

I initially was staying away from the A10 size because I couldn't find too many online retailers who carried A10 envelopes. However, A7 and A8 are very easy to find, and there's a decent selection of A9s out there, too.

I ended up combining the two ideas, and made an A8 invitation, an RSVP card that was 5 3/8 x 4 1/2", and an insert card that was 5 3/8 x 3 5/8". When I laid this out in landscape format, it left a strip 11" wide by 5/8" tall. Figuring I might be able to use that strip of scrap for something or other, in the spirit of not wasting paper, I colored it purple. Here is the final layout:



Here you can see the cutting guide lines (in the final version, I didn't print those lines). The size of the invitation is measured from the very left edge of the page, but I made sure to keep all the graphics within the printable area (on the professional printers, 1/4" margins are fine). You can also see that the purple strip runs the full width of the page, but the RSVP card and insert card stop 1/4" from the edge. I decided to make all of the invitation pieces the same width, 5 3/8", and that left a 1/4" edge on the right side of the page to be cut off.

You might realize that the purple strip, in the end, wouldn't bleed to the edge, but would instead have a 1/4" inch margin inserted by the printer. I realized this, too, and wasn't worried about it. It's scrap, and if I could use it, that's great, but I wasn't going to stress about it, either.

Another key place I went to do research was the post office website, www.usps.com. This page tells you all about the requirements for first-class mail, and this was important to me for two reasons:
1. I wanted the invitation to cost just a single first class stamp to mail, because I'm frugal. Rectangular-shaped and less than 1 oz in weight are the keys for this to work (squares automatically cost more postage, no matter how small they are!).
2. I wanted the RSVP card to be a postcard, because a reply envelope would require extra paper that would add to overall weight and threaten my 1 oz limit, would cost more to buy, would add to unnecessary paper wastage when it was thrown away, and would require a 42-cent stamp to return to us, rather than a 27-cent postcard stamp. It was a combination of being green and frugal.

So I made sure our RSVP card fell within regulation postcard sizes (3.5 x 5" to 4.25 x 6") right off the bat. I didn't have any specific requirements for the insert card, but making it the same width as the other two, but slightly shorter, made them look nice when stacked.

Eric and I hashed out the invitation wording together, and I got our fonts free from dafont.com. They're the same ones we used on our save the dates, Renaissance and ParmaPetit. The insert card references our wedding website for key information, and the RSVP card is a double RSVP, for both the wedding and the rehearsal dinner. We included the rehearsal dinner invitation in the same mailing, and I'll detail that for you in another post.

Now I have to say one final word about the layout and printing. In my mind, I thought this layout was great, and maximized my paper use. In the end, that all went down the drain. When I took the final file (once I had the final graphics files from Sue) to Eric at The Reliable Printing Company, he, because he's really really good at what he does, was able to notice some minor flaws in my layout. What they were, I'm not really sure, and whether they would really have caused a problem, I'll never know.

What he ended up doing, though, was altering the layout into three different files: one for the invitation, one for the RSVP card, and one for the insert card. He laid out two invitations per page and printed 50 of them (for 100 invitations), then laid out 4 RSVP cards and 4 insert cards per page and printed 25 each of them for a total of 100 invitation sets. This made it easier for his cutting man to cut, I think. The purple strip ended up being totally wasted as a result, but I harkened back to Rule #1 of DIY, "Let go of your OCD and accept what you cannot control. Your sanity is worth more than you think," and let the issue go. We ended up using the same number of pieces of paper as we would have with my original layout, and I really don't know what I would have done with that scrap, anyway. Plus, they do recycle at their shop, so it's not like it went to total waste.

We printed the invitations on Hammermill Color Copy Cover, 100 lb (271 g/m2), 100 brightness, at Eric-the-printer's recommendation. I bought a package of 8.5x11" paper at Arvey for $20, and Eric knocked $20 off my printing charge for providing my own cardstock, so I am left with 150 pieces of cardstock for free, essentially. Good deal!

We went with digital color printing, as opposed to anything fancy like thermography or letterpress for two reasons: time and money. While I would love to get letterpressed invitations, it's just not in our budget, and probably one of the less justifiable things we could spend money on with regards to the wedding. I'd much rather put money into food, drinks, and good music, rather than the paper everyone is going to throw out, to be honest.

So there you have it! The layout and printing of the invitations.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crafting the Invitations -- Graphics

So I sent the invitations Wednesday morning, and on Thursday afternoon I had heard from the first people in the Louisville area that they had received them, and on Friday afternoon I got back the first RSVP card (it was a yes)! Quick work, USPS! I know my bridesmaids in Baltimore and Pittsburgh have gotten them, too, so I guess I can start the recap for you.


I told you about how I took this piece of scrapbook paper and sent it off to someone to turn into digital images:

Here's what happened after that.

First, I received this image from the designer who let me down, which I really liked:
By playing around in Paint.net (Free program! Similar to Photoshop, but a little dumbed down, as opposed to Inkscape, another free program I initially tried to use that was as complex as Photoshop), I was able to make a couple related images:




















Notice that I also changed the colors around a bit; I wanted a brighter green, and more of an eggplant purple rather than a bluish purple.

Trying to find the right color was quite a project in itself, but through some Googling, I found this great site, Colour Lovers. OTHER people find pretty colors, upload them, and tell you the RGB numbers needed to recreate them! I was able to find a bunch of colors in the range I was looking for, and make a whole bunch of samples in those colors to test print:

The one I settled on was the second one on the top row. That became my new theme eggplant color.

*Disclaimer: In the end, the purple color didn't come out exactly right, but since the images were sent off to Sue, my awesome graphic designer, before I printed them, there are a couple sources of possible error. The most obvious one is that RGB colors are meant for computer viewing, while CMYK colors are meant for print. Sue knew that I had ghetto-checked my RGB color in print, but something still might have happened on her end of things. It's also possible that my printer's printer read the color differently. Who knows. In the end, the purple on the berries on the final printed product is a little more in the bluish range rather than the reddish, but Rule #1 of DIY is "Let go of your OCD and accept what you cannot control. Your sanity is worth more than you think."

In any case, I sent my three re-colored images off to Sue to make them nice and smooth and hi-resolution and suitable for printing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wedding band

One down, one to go.

I mentioned that the price of palladium had suddenly become very interesting to me. That's because I requested that Philip Haas, the jeweler Eric used to make my engagement ring, make me a wedding band in palladium to match, and I was afraid that the custom piece might be pricey.

I started my wedding band search at the mall jewelry stores, and one day this past summer, I found one I really really liked, at Zales:
It was a 1/4-carat TDW (total diamond weight) shared prong white gold band. It was really nice. The diamond quality was G/H/I (mixed; no guarantee) color, I1 clarity. Since I found it at a Zales in New Jersey, I took down the item number to save.

In January, I bought it at my local mall, and brought it to Philip.

Yeah, I'm sneaky like that. I made sure there was a good return policy (full refund within 30 days, store credit within 60 days), first, just in case. The Zales ring was much too big (I avoided getting it sized right away like they wanted me to by making up a story about needing to show it to my mom, who was only visiting for a couple of days...), and had 13 diamonds. Philip and I decided to shrink that down to 11 diamonds to accommodate my finger size in a nice-looking way (I have a size 4.5 ring finger!). I placed my order, and a few weeks later, I had this:


Sorry the detail isn't that great; my camera doesn't have a very good macro lens. In any case, it's perfect! Palladium, to match my engagement ring, with 11 diamonds totaling .21 carats (the diamonds are the same size each as the Zales ring, but there are only 11 instead of 13), of G color and VS2 clarity. Exactly what I wanted, made especially for me. And the best part? It was only $80 more than the Zales ring! (I know that palladium is less expensive now than white gold, but my stones are of a significantly better quality, to more closely match my solitaire, so I think it evens out... plus the fact that it was custom work, of course!) I returned the Zales ring successfully, and my devious plan worked.

Here are the two rings together:

They aren't an identical matched set, but I like it that way. Each can stand on its own, but they work very well together at the same time.

Now we just need a ring for Eric. We'd go back to Philip Haas for that one, too, but since Eric won't be around here again until two days before the wedding, I'm not sure that's going to work out logistically, so we'll be shopping around in Philly/NJ, probably. Maybe a mall jewelry store ring would be fine. Plus, I just talked to the husband of a classmate of mine who recently accidentally lost his wedding ring, and he says that a guy's first ring should be like his first car: It shouldn't be a Mercedes. He had bought his ring at Kohl's, just in case, which turned out to be a good idea. I'm not sure what I think of that theory; I'm willing to give Eric more credit than that :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cake!

So we finally booked a baker! I know I told you I tasted some cake a couple months ago, and then I let the issue drop.

At the end of January, we went to visit Eric's sister and her new baby. It coincidentally was also Eric's sister's husband's 30th birthday that weekend. I decided it would be good to have some cake, so I set up a couple tastings to pick up and bring with me.

One was from Adrienne's, and they asked me to pick out six flavors to try. I was amazed when we opened the box:

This is the after-we-devoured-cake shot, but I think you can tell that it was six full slices of cake. They were actually all put right next to each other and then iced to look like one complete cake, so I didn't know what to expect! We tried white, lemon, strawberry, red velvet, raspberry, and Italian cream. You can see the 3-0 candles we picked up to celebrate Brian's birthday, too. Free sample cake for someone else's birthday... ghetto, perhaps, but that's how I roll. It was fun to get to taste everything with Paige and Brian, too.

Strawberry was the clear winner, although it is a very shocking pink. After I got back, I set up a consultation with Adrienne (she does her consultations after the taste test, which is awesome), and got pricing and design info. Adrienne is awesome and very friendly, and I'm happy I met with her.

Everything stayed in limbo until Eric came to visit last week for Match Day. I arranged to pick up tastings from 4 bakeries: Plehn's, which I had previously tasted by myself, Bussmann's, Williams, and Adrienne's (for a comparative taste test). There was another tasting but it turned out it would have cost us $20, and I figured there are enough bakeries that will give us free cake that I didn't need to worry about a place that would charge us for a tasting (plus, I already knew their prices and they were the most expensive yet!).

Here's what we collected and assembled at the apartment:

Plehn's, yellow and strawberry:
Since they knew I was picking up the tasting to taste later, they included their icing in a little waxed paper cone for us to dispense ourselves. That's my icing handiwork pictured. I've always wanted to do that!


Williams Bakery, yellow iced with chocolate and chocolate iced with white/yellow:


Bussmann's, 2 chocolate cupcakes and I think 4 yellow cupcakes. The fact that there are 4 made me think that maybe I actually ordered 2 yellow and 2 something else (lemon?), but I didn't taste any difference, so I'm not sure what happened there...


And Adrienne's, where we picked up a slice of strawberry cake. I was totally going to pay for it, since it was a repeat tasting, but they gave it to us for free!


And here is the aftermath:
From left to right: Plehn's, Williams on the plate, Adrienne's pink strawberry, and Bussman's cupcakes in the box.

The clear winner was Adrienne's. it was moist and flavorful, absolutely scrumptious. Plehn's was not too far behind in second -- very moist and light cake, but their strawberry wasn't as flavorful as Adrienne's. Adrienne's was also the most expensive, but we're so happy with the cake that it's totally worth it. (It's still within our original budget.)

So it's going to be a three-tiered strawberry cake with whipped cream filling, iced white and decorated with fresh flowers. I'm really excited for wedding cake now!