Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stamp Saga

If you were planning a wedding at this time last year, you were aware of the dismay and outrage that occurred when the Postal Service announced it was raising the price of stamps by a penny. Brides who had already bought the stamps for their invitations were saddened that they might need to deface their envelopes with an extra 1-cent stamp. I made a mental note to not get upset if that were to happen to me this year.

Last year, the post office had a great stamp, the "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" stamp. It was printed in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the creation of the popular song.

As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be great for our invitations (I don't think you know yet the reason why, but trust me on this, and I'll explain more in a later post). But I also knew it would be silly to stockpile the stamps too early, in case postage rates went up again this year. And they were still available as of December.

So a few weeks ago, I was hashing out little wedding details with Eric and I brought up stamps for the invitations. We decided we really liked these baseball stamps, and I knew that it was around this time last year that the rate hike was announced, but we decided that we liked these stamps enough to use them even if we had to add a 1-center to the envelope as well. (And if memory served, I knew that the rate hike last year was announced around February, and it went into effect around May, so it might affect us, depending on our RSVP deadline.)

So that weekend I stopped by the post office for something else, and asked if they had any of the stamps. It turned out they were out of them, and when I asked if they anticipated getting more, I was told it was doubtful, because the clerk suspected a new rate hike would be announced soon. And sure enough, last week it was.

(The rate hike won't go into effect until May 11, and our RSVP deadline is probably going to be May 1, so we will be dealing with current/old stamp rates, not the new ones, so it turns out we need stamps now.)

Today I called around to a bunch of post offices, but the answer was always the same: "We ran out of those stamps a while ago." Boo. One helpful woman told me to call 1-800-STAMP-24, to see if I could order them that way. And when I called, I was told that the post office had discontinued those stamps and they had run out of them on Friday. FOUR days ago. ARGH! I just missed it!

On ebay, the stamps are selling for $1 a pop or $11-14 for a sheet of 20. I refuse to pay a markup for them on principle, so we're left with whatever stamps are currently available.

So, what will it be? Abraham Lincoln, because he was a great president who was born in Kentucky? Edgar Allen Poe, because he was from Baltimore and Eric and I have ties to Maryland? Chinese New Year for my heritage, even though neither of us is an ox? Alaska because we went on an Alaskan cruise two years ago? The Great Lakes Dunes sheet is pretty and has fun wildlife pictures, even though we don't live in the Great Lakes region. The Forever stamp works because of our ties to Philly, but it's kind of boring for a wedding stamp, I think (although I'll definitely be stocking up on these before May 11!). There's this Celebrate! stamp, which is kind of fun. Not our colors, but definitely the right sentiment:
There's always the wedding heart and the love heart, but they're so... cliche and overdone. (Now watch, that's what we're going to end up using and you'll laugh at me for being so snobby.) There are 20 state stamps in the "flags of our nation" series (well, 19 states and the U.S. flag), but they've only gotten up to Kansas so far. If they come out with the next series that includes Kentucky in the next month or so, then that would be great, but even so, I would be compelled to buy 10 times too many stamps just to get all the Kentucky ones.

Those baseball stamps were so darn perfect! And, just to let you know, I've always been the kind of person who buys special stamps to convey my likes or loyalties. I always love the Disney stamps (but I concede that Eric probably wouldn't want them for wedding invitations), or flowers. So I like my stamps to have a message attached to them, and I would like to be able to do that for our wedding invitations, too.

And never fear; our invitation suite is going to fall under 1 ounce to qualify for regular first-class postage, come hell or high water! When you're having a budget-friendly wedding, you can't let an extra $17 go to the postal service because you didn't realize square invitations or heavy ones cost extra. (Sorry, postal service, but I can't afford to keep you afloat with my money.)

So what should we do? I know in the grand scheme of things, this is really, really minor.

"Seriously, in the huge sweep of things, this stuff doesn't matter."
"What he's going to say next is, there are people starving in the Sudan."
"Well there are. ... All I'm asking for is a normal amount of perspective."

Ten points to you if you can name the movie that quote is from. And then I'll stop worrying about stamps :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Need a venue?

Don't worry, we're not getting rid of ours. But there's a new one in town, and it looks like it would be great!

A couple weeks ago, when it was an unseasonable 60 degrees one day (that was before the killer snow/ice storm that blanketed Kentucky a week and a half ago), I took advantage of the nice weather to walk downtown to the Kentucky Center to see if I could score raffle tickets to Wicked. (I didn't.) And on the walk back home, I happened to walk past this building and noticed a sign up saying it was available for event rentals. So, because I'm a venue junkie, I had to check it out.

It's called The Gillespie, and it's on downtown West Market Street, just a few blocks from Glassworks, but more in the center of the downtown district. It was formerly a bank, and it has gorgeous Art Deco architecture and styling.

I love old buildings. All pictures from The Gillespie's website.

Even better? Although they have suggested vendors, their in-house vendor is one I've worked with before for school events and is almost always the most economical, while delivering great food and service. And on top of that, you don't even have to use The Gillespie's suggested vendors -- they'll let you work with whoever (whomever?) you want! Exactly the kind of venue I like working with.

The only downside? Their prices are slightly higher than at Glassworks, and they seem to be taking advantage of the Sunday-weddings-are-cheaper trend by giving a big discount to Sunday daytime weddings and only a slight discount to Sunday evening weddings (compared to Friday or Saturday night).

But still, go check out the pictures on their website. Look, you can take pictures in front of the old vault!

This would definitely be on my list of venues if I were looking again. Although, I'm really glad that part of the planning process is far behind us!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flower girl dresses

I always had it in the back of my mind that it would be more fun to dress our flower girl, Lea, in a pretty purple dress, rather than dressing her like a mini-bride in white. And even if I did dress her in white, I wanted something age-appropriate, rather than a satin ball gown. I mean, really, what 2-year-old needs to be wearing a white satin ball gown? Plus, you know, those dresses that are "meant" for flower girls are pretty darn expensive! At least if I tell one of my bridesmaids, "You can totally wear it again!" (channeling 27 Dresses), it's kind of sort of true. But between appropriate occasions and rapid growth, when will a 2-year-old wear a white satin ball gown again?

So my frugal (read: cheapskate) self also figured I could take advantage of our long engagement by trolling Easter dress sales. I kept an eye out last year, but the shopping began in earnest this year. A couple of weeks ago, to be exact.

It all started when Lea gained a little sister on January 22, Susanna:

So one day a couple weeks ago I headed off for Target to look for new baby presents. (I got Susanna this adorable sheep-themed set, and a couple other things.) And wandering through the baby section led me gradually to the toddler section, and then to the party dresses, where I found this:
It's a little more purple than it looks in the picture, so I bought it. And that night, I checked out the websites of a few department stores, like Macy's and JCPenney. And on the JCP site, I found this dress:
I couldn't tell how floofy it might be, so a few days later I headed out to JCPenney to see it for myself. It was cute, but more of a dress-up-for-a-nice-normal-day dress than a special occasion one. But there were PLENTY of other dresses to look at, and I did much more than look. Within 15 or 20 minutes, I had grabbed every potential flower girl dress from the rack in a size 3T and wandered over to the infant section, because wouldn't you know it, all of a sudden I needed to dress Susanna as an honorary flower girl, too.

As I plopped 11 dresses on the counter, I have to give the salesgirl credit for not batting an eyelash, but simply asking, "Do you need gift receipts?" And the best part? All the dresses were 20-30% off!

Top left: The cotton eyelet dresses, in toddler and baby versions. Less fancy, but oh-so-cute and adorable.
Top right: The plaid collection, toddler version from Target and baby version from JCP.
Middle left: The polka dot collection. Neither dress had any purple in it, though.
Middle right: A gorgeous green dress with purple flowers on it. Can we say, perfect?
Bottom left: Another gorgeous dress, in white with pink embroidery. If this came about a million sizes larger, it would be my wedding dress.
Bottom right: The purple collection.

Last weekend, Eric and I both traveled to Virginia to visit Paige, Brian, Lea, and Susanna. In addition to the requisite visiting-my-nieces-to-be presents, I brought along the flower girl dress contenders, and everything got settled!

Which do you think were chosen for each girl?

Nah, I won't make you guess.

The green-with-purple-flowers dress was chosen in about 5 seconds by Paige. It's my second favorite of the bunch for Susanna (the first being my dream wedding dress), but since the white-and-pink one doesn't match the wedding colors at all, the purple-and-green one is clearly the best choice.

We narrowed Lea's choices to the purple one (bottom right) and the polka dot one (middle left), then held them both up for her to choose. And guess which one that super-smart girl picked? The purple one!

To check for fit, I put the dress on her over her clothes after she finished her dinner, and she loved it (and it fit!). She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants, so running around in that outfit with a purple fairy dress over it, she totally reminded me of Bo from Signs. So adorable. Oh yeah, and she was running around singing Jingle Bells. A month after Christmas. Don't ask.

So, yay, we have flower girl dresses! The rest are in a bag, waiting to be returned this weekend. And I can't wait to see these two all dressed up in three and a half months (yikes!)!

So, I know I can't be the only cheapskate shopper out there. Who else bought an Easter dress for their flower girl(s)?