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, which was the other tab I had open in Firefox, and when that didn't give me any news, I went over to 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 $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 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,, 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 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!