Saturday, October 31, 2009

Seriously Saturdays (The Are you kidding me's? of wedding planning)

So I'm a huge Grey's Anatomy fan.  But even before the hype of some of their catch phrases, I think I was already using one of the word's that has shaped many a conversation in my life.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check this out:

Seriously!  I love that word.  I mean, how is it possible for someone to convey so much thought, attitude, frustration, support, anger, love, and genuine emotion with just the simple tone of a word?  Lovely. 

That said, I have found myself often discussing, dealing with, venting and just trying to understand the thoughts and reasoning behind some of the things people do and offer and say when it comes to my wedding planning process.  Are you with me on this girls?  Therefore, I introduce you to Seriously Saturdays...each Saturday I will post a brief thought or anecdote about something wedding related that just makes me say:


Today's thought:  So when visiting venues we often asked when their peak season an effort to receive  any discounts for 'off season' booking.  (see my post on venue interviews here)  We were originally told by one venue that their off season months are January through April.  Yea for us!  We want to book in April.  Then when we finally inquired about the pricing, they had a different venue rental fee for each one of those months!  And guess what?  The month of April was the highest of course.  :(

So the fiance told me it would be a good idea for us to consider getting married in March because they would let us book any weekend in March for $1,500 less than the several dates I asked about in April.  As silly as it sounds, March is a rain month in So Cal...April not so much (see previous post).  I stood my ground and the fiance agreed to let me book my date of April 16th.  But they told us if we booked the last Friday in March instead (just 3 weeks earlier) they would have given us the $1,500 discount.  SERIOUSLY!?! 

Have you had any experiences like this where it seems almost ridiculous how the wedding industry rapes us as brides? I mean, seriously!  (excuse the bad analogy)

Friday, October 30, 2009

How you can edit your own wedding video

In a previous post, I wrote a lengthy opinion of why I believe it is important for every bride to document her wedding day with professional wedding videography.  I suggested that even if you can't afford the cheapest package, consider asking a professional videographer (or a college student in that field) to videotape the day for you and then hand over all the raw footage and video files to you.  That's what we did for my sister's wedding three years ago.

It took me about a year after her big day, but I finally finished a 90 minute wedding video of the big event that I had edited together for her using a PC program by Ulead titled Media StudioPro.  Here are some clips from the final video to show what is possible with a little self-taught video editing and some research of demos on videographer's web sites and blogs (obviously the quality of the uploaded computer version isn't as good as what we have on the video, but you can get the gist of it):

A recap of the ceremony (I love how she is nervously
bouncing while waiting in the bridal prep room)

You can't see/hear it in this video clip, but during the sand pouring, the bride and groom were laughing and making comments about racing to see who could pour their sand out first.  None of us (not even us bridesmaids up near the arch) could hear them or knew what they were doing.  But since the videographer had the groom mic'd, he picked up their entire conversation!  It was so much fun watching it later and adding it into their wedding video for all of the family and friends to see their silly sense of humor.  Something a photographer would not be able to catch and the guests knew nothing about. 

All the details my sis didn't get to see as guests arrived, mingled, and waited for her big walk down the the set up of the cake and reception room details before the guests barged in.

My sister's a little crazy and decided she wanted the guests to have something to do while they were seated on the lawn waiting for the ceremony to start...thus she provided them with beach balls to toss around like people do at sporting events.  You will also see guests signing the calendar guest book she created that I referred to in a previous post. 

A little montage of the 'wedding events' focusing on the bride:
  pre-ceremony photography, toasts, bouquet toss,
 garter removal, cake cutting, etc

This part of the video was meant to show my little sister's off-beat sense of humor and silly personality.  I think it does such a good job of capturing her attitude and her movements throughout the day. 

This one is by far my fave!  It was shot on our own personal camera by a friend we asked to follow us around, not the professional videographer.  A clip of the fun bridal party having all their pictures taken and the laughter and smiles that kept us busy most of the afternoon

Now remember that I just do this as a hobby, but my baby sister wasn't going to have anything at all if it was up to her husband and this is what I came up with for her to revisit her big day on future anniversaries, holidays, etc.  And for us girls, who had such a blast hanging out together, planning her shower, and laughing all day, it is a great way for us to relive the fun of our friendship surrounding the special event.  We pull the video out sometimes just to remember the moments and funny jokes and such that you can't even always see 'in the video' but are implied by something we did or said.  :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Matt Damon or Kevin Bacon?

So honey is often told "You look like an older version of Matt Damon!"  Though he gets that a lot, he sometimes gets "You look just like Kevin Bacon!"  Now to me, the two are polar opposites...but the funny thing is, I see them both in my gorgeous hunk o' man. 

Many times at a restaurant someone will say "You look so I know you?"  And then he'll say "I get told I look like Matt Damon."  And they'll scream "That's it! You do!"  So what do you think?  Does he look like Matt Damon, Kevin Bacon or neither?  Use the Your Thoughts buttons below the post to vote as such:

Matt Damon:  Click LIKE
Kevin Bacon:  Click FUNNY
Neither:  Click DISLIKE


Matt Damon:

Kevin Bacon:

What the heck does *budget* mean anyway?!?

So I am new to the blogosphere as my wedding planning has led me to the net and I came stumbling across sites like Get Married,, and many many blogger brides.  I love it all.  I love that in today's day and age we have a means to be able to support one another, share advice and tips, gain inspiration and feedback and just vent or shout with joy about all of our wedding planning. 

So many of these blogs have titles relating to the costs of the bride's budget...$2,000 Bride, the Broke A$$ Bride, a $10k Wedding, etc.  These are really great for those thousands of brides across the country that are on limited funds to plan the day of their dreams...especially with today's recessionary economy.  It's difficult to figure out how you are going to piece together the funds.  And when a girl (like me) sits in front of the boob-tube watching shows like Platinum Weddings it can be a bit devastating to realize that you can't afford to have a gorgeous orchid sitting on every guest's napkin or offer favors that cost $10 a pop!  Heck, my boss's own wedding included a check I wrote out to his florist for $25,000!  Most brides today don't have $250 for flowers. 

But, then you have the girls like me...we are somewhere in between.  I have heard many times (and verified through a google search) that the average wedding costs anywhere between $20,000 and $35,000 depending on how recent the survey is.  But on the net, I don't seem to find many brides that are spending much more than $10k on their weddings - and it seems like that's if they're lucky.  One of my very own girlfriends just got engaged a couple months ago and her parents are only giving her $15,000 to plan her wedding.  She has a guest list of 250 people!  I told her that's just not gonna happen and she said realistically they're planning on 200 and will probably have to cut it down to 150.  Again, I don't see that happening at all...but I know it can be done.  I just don't know how these brides do it.

The very first thing I did when I got engaged (well, the first three things I did) were to visit venues, come up with a rough draft guest list and start plugging figures into a budget.  I guessed at some things like the costs of photography, flowers, videography, DJ's, etc.  But I also started browsing a lot of web sites for those type of services and tried to find styles and personalities I liked that I would consider contacting for a meeting.  I tried to see if they listed some basic pricing options on their web sites so I could most accurately plug those figures into my budget. 

After our appointments at the venues we had some clear ideas of what the realistic costs were going to be.  That helped us narrow down our guest list from 300 to 200.  (Not an easy task since I want everyone and their mother at my wedding!) 

Now the fun part was showing my budget to my fiance.  He gasped!  We have gone back and forth a little on the budget.  He has given in a little and raised his dollar figure but I have still gone over what he asked me to keep it at...but hey, I am paying for almost the entire thing myself and I am not having to go into debt to do so, so what's the big deal? (wink, wink)  Besides, I am sticking to the's just *my* budget, not his.

I consider myself a budget bride, but that doesn't mean I'm planning my wedding for under $10,000.  It simply means I have a budget and I'm trying to stick to it...because believe me, anyone can go way over their budget when it comes to weddings.  Right?  In a future post (soon), I'll share our exact dollar figure and the breakdown of all things budget related. 

But as a teaser and for my own poll related purposes, let me know ladies (if you don't mind sharing and don't get offended discussing money issues) what are your budgets set at?  Have you gone over them?  What are you doing to keep them in check?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Very First Blog Award!

So while beginning my morning browsing of recent updates on the blogs I have been following, I came across a Chocolate Lover's Confessions and found that she presented me with my very first blog award (also thanks to Handcrafted Hitching Post for honoring me with this award as well)

Oh my goodness.  I am so excited!  Being new to this whole blogger thing (and encouraged to do so by Chocolate Lover herself) I saw all these brides with their awards on their blogs and wondered how they received them.  Now I know.  So for this one, the directions are simple:

Post the award on your site, write 10 interesting things about yourself, and then pass it on to 10 other bloggers.

10 Fun Facts (easy - I could give you even more but I'll limit them):

1. I am an anal, control freak, OCD, perfectionist...and I don't understand why they call it 'common sense' because most people don't have any so it must not be that common!
2. I have never broken a bone in my body but have had one surgery and a couple weeks ago cracked a rib (wait, is that a broken bone?).
3. My daughter's APGAR score was 0 when she was born...which was by a c-section due to a prolapsed cord. She had to be fully resuscitated and put on a respirator in an incubator for 5 days...she truly is my miracle baby...though she is now almost 15 years old (in February).
4. I was the Editor-in-Chief of my yearbook my senior year in high school. The yearbook was named as one of the top 10 in the country...something I am still proud of to this day. Of course about 25 other people helped me make it. :D
5. I LOVE the Food Network and am a self taught cook from the many recipes you can find on their shows and web site.
6. Video editing is a hobby of mine...I've made hour long videos of my my daughter's soccer season, her all-star softball season, my best friend's wedding and my sister's wedding. People suggested I should do it professionally, but it takes me a year to put one hour long video together.
7. I used to want to be a wedding coordinator but decided it was too stressful, too competitive and demanded too much time on weekends and holidays.
8. By the time I was 19 I had worked at Cinnabon, Mrs. Field's, Kinney Shoes, Farmers Insurance, a clothing store, a furniture store, as a telemarketer, at an alarm company, and in a grocery store...but I worked in the grocery store for almost 10 years and have been at my current job for 7 1/2 years.
9. I met my fiance, John on and ironically, neither my fiance nor I drink any all! Neither of us has touched a drink in over 15 years. Up until last year, whenever a recipe called for wine I would use grape juice as a substitute. I have found that the wine is much better in the food.
10. I have led groups of high school and college girls in weekly bible studies for almost 9 years now. The group I have now is made up of 5 ladies in their early 20's that I have been with for about 4 or so years. They won't leave, they just keep coming back each week. And I love them for it.

Bonus facts:
11. I don't like wearing makeup or curling my hair. I will only do it on special occasions when I have to and it drives my fiance crazy. But hey, I work in an office where I'm all by myself for 8 hours a day...what's the point?
12. I have been skinny my entire life and rarely ever work out or exercise. I often get frustrated because no one has any sympathy for someone who struggles to GAIN weight!

And the fellow Bloggers I would like to pass this award onto:

Have fun with it, ladies!

Drums please...introducing - My wedding gown!

Well, quite simply:  It's a Maggie Sottero.  My cousin (and bridesmaid) mentioned her to me when I was shopping with my girls describing what I wanted and could not find the dress at all.  I found plenty of gorgeous dresses that I liked different things from each one, but not THE one that had it all.  Until I started to browse Maggie's site and found several that were so close.

But I have to tell you, I looked at several dresses online and on the rack/hanger that looked nothing like what I expected when I put them on.  It's truly hard to tell just from a picture.  You really need to put on a few different styles and see what 'feels' good and looks good on you and then you can begin to narrow it down.
And thanks to my southern belle, Marina at the 7th salon I visited, I was able to finally find the perfect Maggie gown.  And here it is:

And the back which is what I die for because it's a corset AND has just the right amount of uniqueness with the beading that comes around the back but doesn't cover it.

And finally, mine will actually have straps like this because I am not huge of strapless at all for myself.  So what do you think?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How expensive is the word 'Wedding'?

I saw on a blog post today how vendors will always charge you more for something because you simply state it's for your wedding.  Like the word wedding instantly means we get to charge you more because we know you'll pay it since it's your big wedding day!  For a fun laugh and to release some of your frustration whilst planning your beautiful event, thought I'd share these short videos which perfectly represents the thought:

Our proposal on one of the saddest days of my life

I was never one of those girls to want to start questioning her boyfriend as to when 'we were gonna get married' or start talking about marriage. I just always trusted that God would work it out if it was meant to be...though after almost 5 years together, I was starting to get antsy.

October, 2008 was a turning point in our relationship. In Cabo, he told me he loved me for the very FIRST time after having dated for almost 5 years!  Wait, I need to do a little time out from the proposal story:

What I love most about him is the fact that he told me in the beginning of our dating relationship that he would never tell another woman he loved her until he was ready to put a ring on her finger. I began telling John I loved him a few years ago, but I never wanted him to say it back. The day he finally said I love you to me (which was in October, 2008 in Cabo), I knew that we were going to be together forever. I never needed to hear the words from him...John always lets me know how much he loves me with his actions and in subtle ways that God has allowed me to appreciate so deeply.

Us in Cabo (Oct 2008) visiting the wedding chapel...
little did we know we'd be looking for venues only 2 months later!

So anyway, in Cabo, while walking down the beach with not another soul around (except for the person who took this picture right before we started our stroll) he told me he loved me for the very first time and he also shared that he could completely envision spending his life with me. One night after we returned from Cabo, while we were cuddling watching tv, John simply said to me: "So I guess we should start looking at wedding venues probably." In his own way, it was how he let me know that the proposal was forthcoming.

In some ways I feel like John proposed several times because over the next few weeks, John would often bring up wedding comments and talk of me being his wife soon. He started talking about remodeling his home to prepare for me and my daughter, Jordan moving in and stuff like that. I would nod or smile or make a simple comment in response but didn't really make a huge issue of it. However, within a month I started booking appointments at wedding venues for us to start trying to get together a timeline and budget needs. And in December we began to shop for wedding rings.

A lot of our family started asking why we were making these plans without officially being engaged, but I knew that we were heading towards the inevitable question so it didn't bother me.

Christmas morning 2008: John knew that my mom and I were pretty bummed about the fact that we were going to be spending the first Christmas of our entire lives away from my sister, Julie. I mean I was really sad.  In my 36 years I had spent the 34 years that I had my baby sister with her on every single holiday of our entire lives!  And to top it off, my Grandma, who is always with us on Christmas morning was getting tired in her 93rd year and had decided to spend Christmas morning in her own home. So we spent a much quieter Christmas morning with just my mom, John, Jordan and I.

As we started to open stockings, John directed me to a box of Godiva chocolates he brought with him. He told me to open them because he bought them for me (he prefers See's Candy over Godiva). When I opened the box, I noticed a note wrapped around something. I unwrapped the note and out popped a ring. The note was short but sweet; it simply read:

I love you and you're always so sweet to me. We have so much fun together so why not spend a lifetime like this? Will you marry me?

I knew the proposal was coming (I mean we had already shopped for rings) so I didn't think I'd be too emotional, but suddenly I found myself completely choked up with tears rolling down my cheeks. My mom looked over at me and asked me why I was crying. I held up my hand with the ring on it and she immediately started getting choked up and fighting back tears. As I looked at John and leaned to kiss him I think I managed to squeeze out the words "Of course" but they sure didn't come easy since I could barely speak.

My beautiful ring:

My mom thanked John for letting her be a part of the experience and he told me later that he really wanted to make sure my family and specifically Jordan was a part of the proposal. Of course, my sister was not happy when I texted her an image of the ring on my finger and she realized that the first Christmas she had ever been away from her family her big sister gets proposed to - and she wasn't there!

Some pics right after the proposal on Christmas morning:

So the man of my dreams made the hardest Christmas in my life the most memorable one and I will be forever thankful to God for giving John the heart to provide me with a thoughtful and loving surprise.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Do it yourself wedding videography - Should you or shouldn't you?

I have seen many bride's blog posts in which they debate or justify their reasoning behind whether or not to hire a wedding videographer.  But in today's DIY age, the question has also become whether or not to handle the wedding videography on your own to save money.  While this might seem like a good idea, I just wanted to quickly share the pros and cons of this service...and yes, to some, luxury item for your wedding.

To me, the video is even more important than the photos.  Why?  Because it captures the tears falling, the laughter ringing out, the sweet comments, funny jokes and moment by moment events as the day unravels.  As fun as the photographer's shots of your guests on the dance floor are, nothing beats getting to pull out your wedding video each Thanksgiving and show the family all over again how Grandma got down doing the hustle with the bride and groom on their big day!

My sister's husband was one of those grooms that didn't want to spend the extra money on a videographer and did not see the point.  So I helped split the cost to hire a professional wedding videographer for her wedding...but with a twist.  We contracted him to simply shoot the entire day with an assistant and then fork over all the video tapes to us before he left that night.  The cost was much cheaper than actually having him edit a video together of her event because the editing process is the time consuming portion of wedding videography.  In addition, instead of just getting a 90 minute video recap of the entire day and the ceremony vows, we received ALL of the raw footage of everything he shot.  Granted some of it was obviously shaky and him running around to get in the right location, but we had it all.

What was cool was that in today's computer era, just about anybody can purchase a simple or extensive video editing program for $100 to $2000 and make a video themselves.  This is what we did.  I have become an amateur videographer shooting things like my daughter's soccer season, all-star softball season, etc and then editing the footage into montages set to music and clips of big events to pass out to the parents of the team as a keepsake.  I love doing it and was able to create a wedding video for my sister from the raw footage the professional videographer shot.  Granted, it's just a hobby and I am by no means a pro, but I did do some research browsing wedding videographer web sites for samples and styles of things I could replicate.  And it was all our own and to our exact desires.

Now, don't get me wrong...there are definitely brides out there who will tell you that you can just have friends and family bring their camcorders to shoot everything from their persepctive and give you the same raw footage at the end of the day.  My best friend had a friend do that and I took the footage and edited it into a simple wedding video for was the first video I ever made.  However, as you will see in the excerpt below, it's always better to hire a pro who knows where to be when, how to get the right shot, use good lighting and will be respected by the guests to get out of their way.  :)

The following is an excerpt from a comment posted on Blogger Brides of one girls experience with DIY wedding videography:

Being a bride that took the diy approach with video, I have to write about my video. Family and friends will do your video for you because they love you, but they are not pros, know that going in. We can barely hear our vows at the ceremony. Our first dance got cut off half way through because they all turned the cameras off to join us when the DJ asked them to. It's all pretty shaky and hard to watch. The cameras are of different qualities, so some look good when the reception lights went down and others look like a grainy mess. Also I notice that the color is different, my flowers look bright and colorful on one camera and dull on another.

I agree with the previous poster that the editing is what makes video so expensive. When I asked videogrpahers in my area what they would charge to make this into something watchable, they said it would cost as much or more than their full coverage packages because of all the corrections they would need to make.

If you really want a video and it is important to you, don't skimp on it. If a pro is just not in your budget, look for a college student (ask for the best in the class). There also may be a pro willing to shoot and hand over the tapes like the poster above mentioned, but in my area, they all said no. If I were doing it again today, I would try asking them if they would shoot the wedding and allow me to pay for the editing later when I could afford it.

This is great advice.  Ladies, I am telling you...figure it out and make it work if you think this is something that will be important to you.  Heck, most brides don't realize how important it was to them and then end up regretting not having a videographer afterwards...especially since the day flies by so quickly and with you off taking pictures, you will possibly miss half of your guests arriving, mingling, etc.  You will miss the way the reception room looked before all the guests broke in and tore it apart.

Many girls say that their proposals were a blur and they could not remember anything their fiance said to them as he popped the you want the same experience when you are reciting your once in a lifetime vows to each other?  To me, the videographer is the absolute most important part of my day.  We couldn't afford what I wanted, and so I negotiated a phenomenal deal with a very understanding and amazing company...but there is no way I wanted to spend so much time and effort and thought planning this one event and then not have it permanently recorded to revisit throughout my life. 

And for some final encouragement, here are some samples of people's video clips from weddings that friends and family took (in a future post, I will share some clips I edited of my sister's wedding video):
 Holy Shakes-a-lot!

 Blurry, people walking in front of camera, BACK of Bride & Groom!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wedding day weather

I never did understand those brides who don't give a care or a thought to the potential weather related issues surrounding the biggest day of their lives.  After all the planning and thought that goes into providing your guests with a beautiful experience and level of comfort during your nuptials, you'd think that they would consider the chance that there could be (God forbid) rain on the scheduled day!

That's why when my fiance informed me during our booking of our venue that they would give us a discount if we booked our wedding on any weekend in March as opposed to the April dates I was looking at, I emphatically told him no way, no how!  I know it seems silly not to take the discount and have our wedding three weeks before the day we finally settled on...but in So Cal, March is notoriously a wet rainy month.  And though the saying goes "April showers bring May flowers" the truth in fact is that April is not typically a month of showers at all.  At least not where I live.  It does however get pretty cold at night in April.

Our reception is indoors but is not heated (it's a pretty old property). But the property managers and exclusive rental company work together the week before the wedding to confirm what the weather conditions are like. If it is cold or rainy, they bring in heated tubes and pump the warm air into the reception area. The ceremony is held outside in a cemented teatro and we will also be confirming with the rental company the reservation of a large canopy tent to cover the seated guests should, God forbid, it rain during the ceremony.  But this past April 16th at 5:30 pm (the exact day and time our ceremony will take place), I visited our venue with my coordinator and daughter and snapped this shot of where the ceremony will take place.

Gorgeous, right?  Sunlight barely peeking through so it's not too hot and the guests don't have to wear sunglasses.  And also, this will help with the tv screen that will be set up showing a video out here at one point (more on that later).  And this is a shot of the bridge that the bridal party makes it's way across as we head down the aisle to the altar:

I am in awe...oh how I pray that we get this same beautiful weather on our big day of April 16th, 2010!

This past April, I kept a log of the temperatures, sky, conditions and rainfall in our area and the city where the venue is for the entire month of April. There were only 3 days where it rained and those days were at like midnight and just light drizzles. Actually, this past April was summer time hot on most of the days...though the night time temperatures dropped to pretty cold.

I also kept track of the sunset times so I could gage how our ceremony will be at the 5:30 pm scheduled time and when it will get dark during cocktails. If all goes according to plan (and historical weather info), we should hopefully have a gorgeous spring wedding day filled with nice temperatures during the day for photos and beautiful sunlight and shade at ceremony time. We also rented a couple space heaters for the cocktail hour just in case it's too cold as the sun is setting.  This is what they'll look like in our cocktail area:

I highly encourage every bride to visit when beginning your selection of your wedding date.  You can search historical weather information for almost any city up to at least three years prior.  And they have a Wedding Weather Day planner that allows you to put in your dates, times and locations and it tracks your wedding weather predictions and e-mails you updates as the day approaches. 

I know I am a bit over the top and anal when it comes to the silliest details regarding our wedding but the weather is a pretty big deal.  You don't want guests sweating to death while they wait for you to walk down the aisle outside for an hour before they can get in the air conditioned reception room (like at my sister's wedding) or guests running through the mud from their cars to some little covered patio that everyone has to hide under until the raindrops stop. 

Have you all thought about this or made any plans regarding your potential weather hazards?  Did you select your wedding date/season based on weather?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interviewing Potential Venues & Vendors (a Series)

You're engaged!  Congratulations!  People have been fawning over your gorgeous new ring, asking you when the big day will be and how he proposed and you just can't stop smiling.  You've cleared the local grocery or bookstore of all of their recent magazines having anything to do with weddings and have started saving all kinds of pictures of gowns, flowers, favors, etc.  You may have even started browsing the internet for local ceremony and reception venues.  But in reality, when it comes time to start planning and actually make some decisions and LOOK at things...well, it's time to wake up and smell the bridal stress! 

The fact is, most newly engaged brides have no idea about all of the details that are involved with planning a wedding.  They don't have a clue what questions to ask a photographer or DJ, they have no idea what a plated vs. buffet meal means and never realized that flowers (which grow freely in their own front yard) will be the most expensive budget item of the vendors they will hire apart from the food!

Now me, I'm an over-planning, overly controlling, detail-oriented, get 'er done, gather all the info, spend hours on the internet researching freak!  And so I went into this planning process fully prepared and knowing exactly what I wanted and who to go to in order to get it!  Those vendors were not prepared for me when I showed up with my huge binder and not only a ton of photos but a personally created excel page interviewing sheet with places for all kinds of notes and lots of rating and circle the appropriate answer fill-in questions.  They laughed at me, but they also respected me and knew they better have their stuff together!

So over at Blogger Brides, I answered a newly engaged bride's question as to what questions she should ask when visiting venues...I realized, I should just blog about this as I am sure many have this same type of question not only for the venues but for the vendors as well.  And thus, I am beginning a series of suggestions, questions and such that every bride should think about if not be prepared to ask when interviewing all of those special companies who will make her and the future hubby's dreams come true on the big day!
For the venue (of course this needs to be modified depending on whether you are having your ceremony and reception in the same location or two separate locations):

1) What are the limitations or restrictions (during different seasons, weekdays, etc)? Do they not allow weddings in December due to all of their holiday festivity goings-on?

2) What do they consider peak and off-peak times of the year, days, dates and hours? We booked on a Friday because our venue gave discounts for non-Saturday weddings.

3) How many people can you accommodate? What do you do if there is overflow? If you have 150 guests in a place that can only accommodate 100, don't waste your time! Some of the venues we looked at had to put guests in separate rooms where they could barely see during the ceremony or dinner and that was not acceptable to me.

4) Obviously - what's the overall cost, what deposit is due to hold date, when is balance due and what forms of payment do you accept? What do you charge for tax and gratuity and are they included? Are there any returned security deposits? Our venue holds a separate $1500 sec dep that they return as long as we leave the place clean and undamaged.

5) What are the restrictions regarding the activities you may want to include? Some places don't allow tossing petals (like in churches) or releasing doves. Some places restrict music outside after a certain time of night. Some don't have wheel chair access, etc.

6) What are your options for uncooperative weather conditions? If the ceremony happens outdoors and it rains, what do they offer as an alternate? For us, we can either pay to have a large canopy tent brought in over the ceremony area, or we would have to have the ceremony in the reception hall with the guests seated at their dinner tables (something I do NOT want to do).

7) Are any rental items required or not included? What are the additional costs? For our venue, we had to pay a HUGE venue rental fee and nothing is included. We had to pay for the rental of all items from tables, chairs, linens, dinner plates/serving items, heaters, etc.

8) Do they offer a coordinator or who runs the event for you? At my sister's wedding at a golf and country club, they had an event coordinator (or banquet coordinator) who helped us with running the ceremony, helping the DJ/Photographer/Videographer, etc with the timeline of when something was about to start (like toasts, bouquet toss, etc). But our venue offers NO ONE for assisting on the big day so we hired a day of wedding coordinator to run the show. She will do everything from helping pack up the gifts, setting out favors, our toasting flutes, etc to telling each bridal party member when it's their turn to walk down the aisle.

9) Do they have any restrictions about the rehearsal? What days and times will they let you in to rehearse for the wedding ceremony? For us, we have lots of out of town family in our wedding party so we needed to have our rehearsal on the Thursday night before our Friday wedding. But if you're getting married on Saturday and there is a Friday wedding, then you obviously won't be able to have your rehearsal the night before.

10) For catering/meals, there is a host of questions like what do they offer for vegetarians, do they offer children's meals, what's the difference in cost between buffet and served meals, what are the restrictions regarding alcohol, do they allow for a cash bar, is there a corking fee for wine or a cake cutting fee?

11) Is there a separate ceremony fee? If you are getting married at a golf club, they will charge one price for the reception and meal and then an additional price for the ceremony.

12) Do they have any restrictions on what vendors you can use for photography, DJ, bands, etc? Some venues require you to select from their preferred list of vendors. I didn't like that idea at all. Some may let you bring in vendors off their preferred list but you have to pay an additional fee!

13) Where do they set up the dance floor? How many people can it accommodate? Where does the DJ set up? If your DJ is stuck in the back corner of the room far from the dance floor and behind several dinner tables, you may not feel like he is able to 'get people going' and be part of the dancing.

14) Where do the bride and groom get ready? Do they have a room for you to wait in? What time or how early are you allowed to arrive on the wedding day and what time does the event have to be over by? Who handles clean up? Are there restrictions regarding photography/videography?

It's overwhelming I know and there's lots of questions, but these are all things most brides don't think about and then end up being disappointed about after they've already booked a venue! I always say the best plan of attack is being prepared. People laugh at me for being so 'overly anal' and detailed about this stuff, but it pays off in the end :)

** I made an excel sheet (it's pretty rough but gets the job done) of pages for each of the major types of vendors that I can print out and take with me as a 'fill-in-the-blank' questionnaire when I go on my appointments. If you'd like me to e-mail it to you, send me a message to

New Trends in Color Schemes

So just when I think I have come up with something very unique and different that no one has ever seen at a wedding before, it suddenly ends up on all the blogs and in all the magazines!  (sigh)  Oh well, I still LOVE my color scheme.  It is an aqua/turquoise with cranberry deep red accents.  You have to be careful with aqua and turquoise because there are so many variations - some even think of tiffany blue as an aqua which is truly not the color I chose.

It came to me while browsing through wedding web sites for coordinators.  I found a picture that I absolutely fell in love with not just the colors but the little favors and napkins and place cards.  And the funny thing is, it was from my very own venue (will blog on that later this week).  And so after confirming that was my color scheme, I began searching for dresses, favors boxes, ribbons, etc all to coordinate - but not overly done.

I eventually found a florist and while browsing through her books, realized that the florist I selected just so happened to be the same florist who did the flowers and deco for the wedding I used as my inspiration!  How awesome is that?  And then while browsing the blog about the wedding I found a company in Illinois that did all their stationery for the wedding and fell in love with her, too!  So now I have my colors, favor box ideas, florist, stationery company and inspiration all from the same wedding.  So funny. 

In some ways I don't want it to seem like I am just 'copying' it, but honestly, I always say there are no original ideas...only knock offs and twists on a previous thought.  So I am definitely putting my own twist on a lot of the elements I am incorporating.

But enough are the pics from Joyful Weddings and Events:

My centerpieces will be totally different incorporating red tulips in some sort of simple spray like this:

My bridesmaid's are wearing these Jasmine Bridal B2 dresses in this berry color:

Photos:  Jasmine Bridal
My daughter (a bridesmaid) is wearing this dress (hemmed to match the other girls) from Jasmine B2 Juniors in Bahama Breeze color and the flower girl will have a white dress with a matching sash in the Bahama Breeze:

And finally, they will all be carrying bouquets very similar to this with blue hydrangeas, burgundy cymbidium orchids, black magic roses, jade green roses and kermit mums:

Yes, my wedding is still 6 months away but I pretty much have everything planned and all that's left is some tweaking as I finalize details with vendors and purchasing the fun stuff like favors, gifts, jewelry, shoes, and so on.  What are your colors and what do you think of these?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What I am looking forward to as the new Mrs. Beever (a Series)

So the fiance and I (due mostly to our faith and supported by statistics) have decided that we will not be moving in together until after the wedding day.  He has his own home (a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, enclosed front yard, big back yard single story home on a cul-de-sac) that my 14 year old daughter and I will be moving into after we return from the honeymoon.  Since for the past 5+ years we have each had our own separate homes, there are many things that I am looking forward to regarding our relationship and home once we are officially married.  I figured I'd share some random thoughts as they arise between now and wedding day in a series as titled above.

So for the first entry of what I will be looking forward to once we are married:  Uninterrupted blowdrys and no missed phone calls while in the shower.

FH and I rarely go a day without calling each other first thing in the morning.  As a mother of a teenager and career gal who has to be at work at 8 am every morning, I typically wait until I am on route during my 25 minute drive to work to phone John and say good morning, have a good day, and so on.  However, he has this habit of calling me at 6:30 am which is usually right when I am in the shower (so I miss his call) or blow drying my hair (where I have to stop to answer the phone).

So this morning when he called me at 7 am as I was running late and trying to dry some of my hair before sprinting out the door, I didn't appreciate having to turn my cell on speaker phone, turn my hairdryer down to low and bend over up to the earpiece so I could hear him while trying to blowdry.  Needless to say, I will be thrilled once we are living together and we can just simply talk to each other in person while he is in the shower and I am blowdrying my hair :)  Ah, the simple things in life.

So future Mrs. (insert new last name here)...what are you looking forward to once you are living together (if you aren't already)?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Things to do at your cocktail hour

Here's a fun thing for you to think about:  While my fiance keeps reminding me that our guests will be at our wedding to celebrate us, I can't help thinking up fun ways to celebrate THEM and to keep them entertained throughout the event.  So I always said that when I get married, I will hire a strolling magician to walk amongst the guests and perform small magic and card tricks for them.

Lo and behold, I was blessed by God when at a Valentine's Day dinner last February, my fiance and I had a chance encounter with Jeff Ezell.  He is an AMAZING magician and through the course of events which I will not bore you with, we were able to secure him for our cocktail hour entertainment.  Check him out here:

Granted, he is not one of the more budget friendly entertainers in our area (especially since he is from Los Angeles and has performed for stars the likes of Tom Cruise, Pam Anderson, Lucy Liu and more) but I did some earlier research before we found him.  You can typically find this type of entertainment for around $250 to $500 per hour if you take some time to search.

Here is a little video displaying some of his work. Granted, he won't really be doing a 'show' at our cocktail hour but rather strolling among the guests performing individual card tricks for them and what not.

So what do you think?  Are you doing anything fun and different for your cocktail hour?

Let them NOT eat cake...not at my wedding or my birthday!

So Tuesday was my 37th birthday...or as I refer to it, my last birthday as a single lady :)  I went to work, got lots of birthday wishes on facebook, had dinner with my honey, daughter, mom and sister's family and then came home and sat at the computer with the future hubby.  We chatted about wedding stuff and he finally gave in to the idea of not having the money dance.  Then I got him to agree to register for our honeymoon so guests have a reason to give cash gifts and then I started showing him my latest ideas about the cake.

The cake is the one thing I have really been struggling with. I literally have over 70 images saved on my computer of cake samples.  There's something about each that I like, but there isn't one particular image I've found where I've said "that's the one!"  Not even with some slight modifications.  We did finally agree on one cake that we both love...AND the honey even agreed to have it made in our colors of aqua/turquoise and deep cranberry.  The problem is, our cake is included in our catering package and though the baker who makes the cake for the catering company is pretty good, she is also somewhat an amateur and this is a high end difficult cake.  We already know it will be an upgraded charge to us because it will need to be made with a fondant covering (which we aren't thrilled about but will place over a lot of buttercream frosting to be sure it still tastes good) and my honey may have to construct the 'stand' for it to rest on.  It is the first cake in this slideshow followed by some ideas of other cakes we love. 

Remember that our thought regarding the cake is NON-traditional, funky, fun, still beautiful and maybe even 'mad-hatter' style.

I love that first upside down cake!  It's amazing and so different...the guests will be totally surprised and it even somewhat ties in with the circles graphics from our invitations that will be carried through the stationery and such.

I also have lots of ideas for fun or beautiful decoration of the cake tastes are all over on this one from simple to cover it all!  Of course the cake style will help determine this but here are some ideas:

And finally, I am not much of a cake person anyway.  I didn't even have one on my birthday.  I prefer brownies, ice cream and cupcakes, so I tried to convince the honey to do a cupcake tower.  But he wasn't having it.  The more I think about it, the more I love this idea.  You can let your guests serve themselves without having to wait for the cake to be cut and brought out to them.  You can even allow them to decorate their own cupcakes with different toppings.  They can easily choose a flavor and frosting type.  And today, they are very popular and still elegant and fun and gorgeous.  And, if a guest doesn't want cake at the reception, they can easily grab one to take home with them!  Everyone I share this idea with loves it, except for my Johnny :(

What do you think, ladies?  Which do you like?  What are your plans and hopes for your cake?

Photo credits: Unless indicated by web site on image, photos are from, google images

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The infamous Wedding Dance video (and one you haven't seen)

By now, everyone has seen or heard about the bride and groom who had their entire bridal party dance down the ceremony aisle to Chris Brown's Forever.  Heck, they even made the rounds on the morning network news shows and talk show circuit.  For those who have their head in the sand and have not yet seen this fun loving beginning to Kevin and Jill's wedding here it is:

The sunglasses are a great added touch.  But what I really love is how the guests are totally into it.  Look at their faces...they are laughing, clapping, cheering them on.  What a way to start off your wedding extravaganza.

When the video first surfaced (before it hit the world), I e-mailed it to my wedding party and told them to start rehearsing :)  Once it made it's way across the internet, I even had a couple friends e-mail me telling me they knew I was totally going to do this at my wedding...because I want it to be all about fun and entertainment.  But at heart, the traditional side of me says that even though my wedding party would be totally into it, I still will have a somewhat traditional walk down the aisle.  However, I have my own plans for how to start off our ceremony that are totally me and our guests are sure to love!  I can't wait to show you  once I finalize the project.

But the real reason I wanted to share with you is because, as a YouTube enthusiast, I found the even funnier follow up spoof of the dance.  These people decided to show what happened to the same couple 6 months after...I laughed hysterically at both videos!

I particularly like the Ben Affleck look-alike attorney...but the entire thing makes me laugh every time I watch it.  What's your favorite part?  And do you have anything different planned for your walk down the aisle?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why does everything fall apart right before your wedding?

No matter how freakin' organized, planned and prepared you are for your wedding....SOMETHING will go wrong!  I always swore this was not going to happen to me, especially because I have communicated everything so clearly and detailed so that hopefully everyone is on board with what is expected.

But alas, with 21 days to go before the wedding, I had a melt down the other day when I received an e-mail from my hair/makeup stylist that sent me over the edge.

Here is the recap of the situation:

*  I booked my stylist in July, 2009 for me and 5 bridesmaids to have hair and make up done.  I negotiated a great rate of $200 for me and $70 each for my girls.  It ended up being a savings of $225-295 off of her regular rates.
*  Last month, two of the girls told me they couldn't afford to pay their $70 for hair and makeup due to financial hardships.  I told my stylist about this.  But she politely indicated that she was going to have to hold me to the original contract amount of $550 because we signed the contract.  I was a bit annoyed by both sides but could also see where each was coming from.  But this was exactly why I told everyone when I booked the stylist that I needed to know if they wanted the services or not since I needed to book her and sign the contract.
*  I asked my stylist if she would consider negotiating a compromise by allowing us to drop one charge of $70.00 and then allowing those 2 girls to each have their hair done for $35.00 each and they would do their own makeup.  This would mean she'd only lose one client and not two.  She happily agreed (via e-mail) and said she 'normally allows brides to drop one client if needed.' 

I thought the matter was resolved and everyone was happy.  But then two days ago, in the course of some e-mail correspondence confirming the time, schedule and location of the wedding day, she suddenly decides that she needs to go back and charge me the original contract amount again. The balance due, she said, would be $350 instead of $280.  She says that when she was discussing dropping clients, she didn't look at my contract to see what a deal she was giving me and she can't keep discounting services.

I had asked her in my e-mail if she would be sure to 'touch up' anything that needed to be touched up after she was finished.  She is doing 6 girls hair and makeup starting at 8 am until about 1:15.  So obviously the girls who have their hair done first thing in the morning may need to just be looked at and recurled slightly just before we start pictures at 12:30 pm.  She responded back and apologized but said that when I asked her if she would be able to 'add in services' like touch ups which would involve extra time, she realized what a steep discount she had given me.  So that made her suddenly decide to go back to the original contracted amount after she had agreed to let one girl cancel. 

Anyway, we finally resolved it as she responded to my e-mail and said that while she still plans to hold me to the original contracted amount (which means I am paying an extra $70 out of my pocket), she will agree to stay to do touch ups not only after she finishes with all of the girls but also during all of our photography.  Which I am hoping and assuming means that she will touch us all up real quick before the ceremony since we are taking all of our photos pre-ceremony.

Anyway, crisis sort of averted.  Thankfully, I am not in the state of mind to let these sort of hiccups get me down with only 21 days to go!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Try try again - wedding day trials and test runs

We've all heard that you should not get a facial the day before your wedding or you should break your shoes in by walking around in them in your house for a few weeks before the wedding. Those are great tips, but just a friendly reminder to be sure to TEST everything well in advance of when you want to use/do/try it before your wedding. From my own personal bridal beauty journal:

* Tanning: Tried it out this month for my engagement pics to see how often, what kind of bed/spray and how much I will need to pay. So far, working well.

* Teeth whitening: Used Crest Whitestrips (recommended by my dentist) before my engagement pics 14 days in advance (10 day system). Definitely brightening up my teeth a bit but noticed that I did have slight tooth sensitivity and that my gums were starting to get red bleeding spots above my teeth. Stopped for a day or 2 and they were fine but glad I found out that can happen so that I be sure to have this done at least 4 or 5 days before the wedding.
* Hair & Makeup: I'm visiting with a potential stylist for the big day this weekend to test out hair and makeup WHILE I am tan for my engagement pics since I will also be tan for my wedding. The rest of the year, I'm pale I want to be sure the makeup trial is done while my skin tone looks as it will on wedding day. And be sure to BRING YOUR VEIL! You definitely want to try your veil on with your potential do as sometimes you may love a hair-do but once you try to find a place for the veil, it covers your favorite part or either has to be placed way up high or way lower than you were hoping for. Be sure to bring your veil for the sytlist to place and TAKE PICTURES so you remember everything and can remind your vendors as well.

* Hair cut/color: I do this every 4 to 6 months but am trying to let my hair and bangs grow a bit and get back to my more natural hair color. Definitely want to have this done several months before my wedding to allow plenty of time for growing out and getting to the perfect shade. Even have clip in extensions I used at my sister's wedding which I may have colored to match my current hair color for the wedding.

* Weight loss/gain: For me, I'm opposite...I am trying to GAIN 15 lbs before the big day which is almost impossible for me for most of my life. But if you want to gain or lose weight before the big day, be sure you do it in a healthy natural way and don't go excessive by starving yourself or cramming your face. You don't want to look sick and be exhausted on the biggest day of your life. And it isn't always a good thing to try to figure out how to alter a dress a few weeks before your wedding when you've suddenly lost 50 lbs!

Anyone have any additional info or tips on trying and testing things for your wedding beauty or details?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Save the Dates

Ok, so the fiance and I could not agree on which pics to put on our STD's and he didn't get the concept at first and then to top it off he doesn't like that I did them in our wedding colors (which he believes are too patriotic looking).  (sigh)  But I finally just got so frustrated that I gave him a couple options and said pick a picture and let's be done with this so I can print them!

He did, I did and they're done!

I am definitely NOT a crafty creative person when it comes to DIY projects...I am all about the computer.  My sister is the scrapbooker in the family.  So I gave her the concept, she designed the cards, I found a website for the card stock and envelopes and another web site that sells label sheets for computer printing and the entire STD's (100 of them) cost me $1.00 each for the finished product.  (I printed them at work - bad girl I know but we have a better/faster printer and if you knew about my job you'd understand). 

So this weekend I am gluing cards together and adding the little row of 3 stickers for the guests to put on their calendars and in their day planners and here is the final product - what do you think?  And yes, the 3 little circles in the middle are stickers for the guests to place on calendars, dayplanners, etc.  :)

Sorry it's a little blurry but I am in a hurry and you get the gist of it :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Proposing to your potential bridesmaids

So I don't want anything about my wedding to be traditional...not even the stuff that half the guests will never see or know about.  So when I began to select my bridesmaids I knew I wanted to come up with a fun and creative way to ask them to join my wedding party.  I mean afterall, your man asked you the jump start question "Will you marry me?" and for me, the next thing that followed was offering a similar question to my closest family and friends: "Will you be my bridesmaid?"

I found greeting cards with the question on the internet but I didn't like the packaged card idea.  So I decided to incorporate a few things I found online and then create everything myself to make it more personal and unique to each girl.

The first thing I did was find a photo of me with each girl.  I then photoshopped it using my wedding colors and text that asked them to 'Be My Bridesmaid?'  (For my sister, who would be my Matron of Honor, I used the question 'Return the Favor?' since I was her Maid of Honor.)  I then had the photo converted to a jigsaw puzzle.  Only about 30 pieces and an 8x10 so that the girls wouldn't need to 'see' an example to be able to put it together.  The surprise was putting the puzzle together to find the question.  (For reference, this site is where I purchased the 8x10" 30 piece puzzles from for $11.95 each)

Within the packages (I wrapped them and either personally delivered or mailed them) I included a small bouquet of silk flowers in my colors and using flowers I like and want to include in floral arrangments.  I told them in the note inside that this would give them some idea of what colors they'd be wearing and types of bouquets they'd have.

I finalized everything with a card I made out of scrapbook pages.  The card had a picture on the front with the question, a poem I customized typed inside and a hand written note telling them why I love them and why they're so special to me.

Ok, so a couple of them cried when they opened it...that's always the response I am looking for...tears or laughter!  For those of you who are interested, below is the poem I included:

The day, the dress
The bride, the groom
The joy, the tears
Will all come soon

Professing true love
To my husband-to-be
With family and friends
All watching me

The Father will be watching
From up above
Pray that our ceremony
Is filled with Jesus' love!

But there's just one more thing
That there needs to be
And that's to have you
Standing with me!

So what do you think, brides?  Do you have any fun or unique ways that you did or will pop the question to your closest gal pals?

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to jazz up your bridal area

My sister loves to not so much.  I find the creative ideas on the internet and in magazines and then tweak them with my personal style and input and let her do all the creative work.  So even though my venue is gorgeous and doesn't even need any real decor added to it, there are some places that are somewhat of a blank slate or rather bland.  A fun way to jazz them up is to add a touch of flare and small details that personalize your day.

Thus, when I saw a cute idea for door hangers or signs, I asked my sister to create something for our bridal and groom quarters.  This is what she came up with:

Another option is to make a fun sign that says something like "Dress Alert...Please Knock" or whatever fun little sayings you want to personalize your space with.  I saw one sign that said "This is my Bride's not bring anything in to ruin her special day."

Are you gals planning anything to decorate your bridal preparation area?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A formal introduction

Though I have posted several times over the past couple months and have left comments on many posts as well, I never did formally introduce myself. And now I get to do so as an official Blogger. So exciting!

So I'm Stacey from South Orange County (I hate the term the OC) in So Cal. My fiance, John and I have been dating for 5 1/2 years now and officially got engaged on Christmas Day, 2008. He is everything about him. Can't rave enough about how lucky I am to have found such an extraordinary man. Not only does he truly love me but has taken my 14 year old daughter in so lovingly and with such acceptance...I'm really blessed.

Though I do have a teenage daughter, I have never been married before and am having such a blast coming up with all the details and events. Much has been done to date and I will share so much with you as the next 9 months flies by until our April 16th, 2010 wedding date. I have served as Maid of Honor to my sister and best friend and helped countless friends plan their weddings...even once considered getting into wedding coordinating. But I have realized that the joy of planning my own wedding in one lifetime is plenty for me as far as the wedding industry goes.

So be sure to share your ideas with me and feel free to comment on my posts and ideas as I am looking forward to some great interaction this year. I have already gotten some great inspiration from blogger brides on here and look forward to continuing the driving force of creativity as the posts roll in!

wedding tickers