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Archive for August, 2010

I thought we were sooooo clever.

Let me tell you: Getting married on a Sunday has been good in many ways. Venues were not snatched up immediately, we didn’t have to scramble to secure our photographer/caterer/florist/DJ nearly a year in advance. Some vendors offer discounts for Sundays, and instead of taking Friday off, our guests are staying a long weekend and leaving Monday. But, if we’re going to have a rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding….

Bingo. It’s Saturday.

Shoot.

At least we weren’t looking to have another big wedding venue deal again (and now, on a very short timeline) but restaurants are not as easy as they seem. In fact, let me share with you what I learned in calling 20 restaurants in the Joliet/Bolingbrook/Plainfield/Naperville area

  1. Most restaurants have a special menu for large parties. This makes sense, I suppose, since it’s easier to cook and ensure enough food for large groups of people. Or, they help you put together a special menu.
  2. Many restaurants, in addition, will have a “room minimum” which is $1800-$3600 for food and beverage (but doesn’t include tip and tax). This means your party has to spend at least the minimum, which can be crazy.
  3. One restaurant had a special menu, a room minimum AND a room rental fee. Coincidentally, this turned out to be Rock Bottom Brewery.
  4. Restaurants also can have a time limit or time block you get the room for (like 3 hours). Inconvenient if you’re forced out.

At nearly every place I called, there was a combination of 1 and 2 or less common, 1 and 3. This meant that our idea of having a small, casual and cheaper rehearsal dinner was starting to fall apart. Heck, even PIZZA places were having weird space issues. I called and called, and was disappointed that everywhere was running higher than I wanted. The other thing was that I didn’t want to go too far from the hotel (the venue is already 20 min away) and didn’t want to go to Joliet (see my previous post about looking at some locations down there.)

Finally, I just dragged Google maps to rt 53, searched “restaurants” and started clicking on every dot from Brown’s Chicken House to IHOP to Portillos. When suddenly, I stumbled upon Suparrosa, and Italian restaurant just north of the hotel.  I clicked on the website, and my heart began to race. Italian food. Not too expensive. Private parties. Pizza!

I called J and told him I was taking him to dinner that evening.

Happily, the food was really good (and HUGE!) and when J finally said midway through our third course that he thought this would work, I cheered and gave him a big hug. We called his parents on the way home, and booked it the next day. Score! It’s close to the hotel, has great food, and a space just big enough for family and the bridal party. And next door is Cabana Charlie’s. I have a feeling that’s where we’ll move the post-rehearsal party and hang out with all our friends. Word!

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Assembling Invites

Hi there.

I’d write more, but I’m busy putting together the invitations. Keri did an amazing job with the graphic design, and they are so full of squee that I can’t wait to send them out into the world.

But, it’s never as easy just to put them in envelopes, scrawl an address on there and then mail. Nooooo.

We had to make them *pretty*

I went to go buy some ribbon to put on them, and J says, “I like green.” I told him that green wasn’t one of our wedding colors, but he told me that he thought it would be pretty and reminded him of northwest fall. So, when I finally arrived at the craft shop, I actually chose three different color ribbon to use. So, *gasp* not all of our invites will have the same ribbon color (some are green) but I don’t think anyone will notice/care.

So why is this taking so long? We have to:

  1. Write the address on the front of the envelope. Let dry
  2. Cut ribbon to correct length
  3. Write our address on back of envelope. Let dry.
  4. Put postcard stamp on response postcard
  5. Write secret code* on postcard
  6. Assemble all pieces and tie ribbon around it
  7. Note secret code on master spreadsheet
  8. Put into envelope
  9. Put stamp
  10. Seal
  11. Double check address aloud with master spreadsheet
  12. Send!

Therefore, it take just about 124,208 million years longer to send out invitations.

I will be back when we are done.

*The secret code is designed to let me know who you are, in case you send back the response card without writing your name on it. Apparently, this happens and then the couple don’t know who sent in the card. (Has this actually happened to anyone?)

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Cake?

One thing that remains undecided yet is the Wedding Cake. We’re going for our second tasting Saturday, and I’m pretty sure we know a few flavor combinations that we like. But the taste is the easy part–what we don’t yet know is what the cake will look like.

Some details: No fondant. No flowers or anything inedible. Nothing tacky. There will be a cake topper.

Therein lies the problem. Nearly every picture of a buttercream wedding cake that I find has flowers, or ribbons or something tacky. Cake toppers, to my surprise, are so 1980.

I’m also not sure I want a completely white cake–it might be nice to have some definition, some shimmer, something that helps it stand out a little. An example would be this cake which is just slightly blue with white details on it: http://rollingpinbakery.com/images/wedding29_l.jpg

I’ll throw some images that I gather up here a little later, but what are your thoughts?

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State of the Bride

Friends, family, fellow brides-to-be of present and past. It’s time for an update! A State of the Bride!

  • It’s been 250 days since December 18th, 2009, a snowy Friday that blossomed into an impromptu celebration turned proposal.
  • There are 60 days left until the Big Day, one incredible fall Sunday!
  • Invites will be going out within the week!
  • We have a rehearsal dinner spot!
  • Official Current Crane Count: 525
  • Plus 23 from Amelia + 17 from Zenyep + 11 from Davy + 14 misshapen cranes folded by drunk people= Unofficial Count: 590!
  • After a nice Friday BBQ, we’re feeling good about a red wine for the wedding, still debating on the champagne and will taste the whites sometime soon.
  • Final Cake Tasting Saturday!

Pretty exciting past couple of days. We still need to

  • Figure out the ceremony
  • Make a giant list of songs for the day
  • Choose and order rings
  • Book hotels for the honeymoon
  • Groom’s attire
  • Gifts, favors and other stuff

There’s more, of course, but I’m feeling more successful if I tackle smaller things, one at a time. If we get the invites out and cake decided this week, I’ll consider anything else to be a bonus!

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Wedding Flowers!

This is no big secret: I love flowers.

I love the way they smell, I love how bright and cheery they are, I get sad when they die. Basically, I have this thing about flowers which means that I will actually care quite a bit how they look at the wedding.

So, I solicited three main quotes–one mainstream flower chain in the western burbs, one small boutique place, and one girl who does flowers herself as a side business. All had pros and cons to their proposals, (cost vs. quality) so I found it difficult to narrow it down.

What really sealed the deal, for me, was the talent around my choosen florist. All the pictures that I’ve seen are gorgeous; she’s completely in line with our vision, and will allow me to purchase vases so my guests can take the arrangements home after (big plus: no worrying about returning rented items.) While I would have gotten more flowers for the same price, or even saved more money with another florist, I just felt  much more comfortable with the level of quality I could expect. So, I went with Fleur Couture.

The website is really beautiful.

Am I selfish for wanting English garden roses in my bouquet? Yes. But, when else can I get English garden roses? Maybe if we visit England or grow them. Freesia in the bouquet? Hypericum berries? Sunflowers and dahlias for my ladies? Yes, yes, yes!

As I said, I love flowers. And, I’m especially excited that we’ll have some beautiful ones!

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With J back from Europe, I am back in full planning force!

It is incredible that this wedding planning stuff goes full circle. A year ago, I was looking at rings and venues, and we weren’t technically engaged yet. (I was helping to select the mounting on the ring and was wary of how quick popular venues are booked.)

And here we are, again, looking at rings (wedding bands this time) and populating a spreadsheet about restaurants in the area for our rehearsal dinner.

Ah, the return of the faithful spreadsheet.

J doesn’t want the rehearsal dinner to be very expensive or terribly formal, which I agree. We are already splurging a lot on catering for the wedding, so while the rehearsal food should be hopefully better-than-midwest-adverage, we’ll make do with what we can find.

I had this giant fear for two weeks that finding the rehearsal dinner place would be just as crazy as finding the wedding venue.But even for 50 people–that’s just immediate family and the bridal party, omg– every place I call still has room, so I’m breathing a little easier, even if I’m not finding much, yet.

Sunday, we kidnapped Kristi and went down to Joliet to look at possible options down there. I had flagged three as being the most likely candidates, but one turned out to be clearly a gentrification project in downtown: a sterile, wannabe-swanky bar on a ghostly street. The second, a steakhouse, was situated next to the Golden Corral and nestled under some serious high voltage power lines. While the inside was not as bad as the outside might suggest, I could imagine my mom having a slight panic just driving to this location. Finally, the last was an Italian restaurant inside a renovated church, which would have been cool except that the food was only so-so and the party room was cramped and had giant dead moth skeletons as part of their decorations. I kid you not.

So, we’re still looking. More calls to be made today. Maybe we’ll just end up at Rock Bottom Brewery at this point.

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Wedding Dress Fitting #1

These are the perils of 50% off.

Do I get beautiful, amazing dress that I otherwise couldn’t afford? Yes.

Does it have to be altered quite a bit? Sadly, yes.

First of all, what the f is up with bridal sizing? I mean, really? When I tried on sample dresses, they were size 8 and 10 and fit just fine. Nothing a little industrial strength clamp from the hardware store couldn’t nip in. I’m told that bridal sizes run notoriously small, and that there are lots of pitfalls to ordering fresh gowns. Thus, as a rule, salons tend or order 1-2 sizes up and bank on you having to tailor it down to your body.  (Although a  friend has a horror story of being bullied into ordering a dress too small and then the seamstress accusing her of gaining weight before they let it out –what a mortifying/depressing experience!)

But, with my beautiful happy size 8 sample dress, I knew what I was getting. I knew it was too long and slightly too big, but other than a small tear in the beading, it was clean, fairly fresh and just fine. I just needed to find a tailor because there was no way I was going to pay Priscilla’s obnoxious prices to fix my gown. And, 1-2 sizes up, I figured it was no big deal.

I found some good reviews on Yelp of a woman named Sue, who worked out of her home and does alterations. She spoke her broken English with lots of enthusiasm, and insisted i need shoes and a bra before coming over. I could tell over the phone that she was Asian and secretly felt better.

Saturday finally came, and I arrived with new shoes, bra and dress in tow.

“I COMING!” I hear her bellow from somewhere inside,  instantly knowing  the fitting would be an adventure.

“HI!” She greeted me with enthusiasm. “You bring shoe?”

“Yes,” I gestured juggling the big white bag and my shoebox. “I’ve got everything here.”

“Good. Good. Come in.” She led me to a little room, decorated with ivory headbands and veils on the wall, flanked by mirrors, and surrounded by rows of white dresses. I quickly realized that Sue had a mini-bridal shop right in her house.

After I explained the issues with the dress, we opened it up and I slipped it on, all the while Sue gushing over the dress.  Seeing myself in the mirror made my heart beat a little faster. Was this still the one? Did I really love the dress? Did I make the right choice?

While I was waxing over my final pick, Sue has been pulling, tugging and folding the fabric, her forhead wrinkled. “No good. Dress too big,” She finally tells me. “This. This take much work to fix.” She’s gesturing to the sides where there is a faux-corset. “Can fix, but take more. Take more time. More money than just hem. ” She tells me the price and asks if it’s okay.

While high, it’s still half what Priscilla wanted to amend the dress. And, I’m slightly angry that the original Priscilla salesladies told me since I was a bridal 6 that there would be “minor edits” to the dress, a dress that we both knew was too big. Still, Sue says it can be done, so we agree and she begins to pin.

I let our my breath as she scurries around, pulling in the top, folding the bottom, and before I know it, the dress really begins to take shape around me. We realize that we have to  sew the bra into the dress–a small sacrifice for my loyal strapless. By the end, it was a bit messy with the tucks and pulls, but i could see the vision. And, I felt like maybe– actually– I could be a bride.

Sue chatted nonstop as she made her expert pulls. I asked her if her business has been busy, and she gestured towards the rack of gowns. “In June, three times that many. Had to call my sister. My sister live in Florida. I said, at first, one week. But, so many dress. I had to keep her for two week!”

“Wow, that’s crazy,” I told her.

“I work. I work so hard,” Sue said, pausing for a moment. “I go to sleep at midnight. Then, I get up at four. Five if I tired.” She rolled her eyes dramatically. “But when I sleep, I can not. You know why?”

I shook my head.

“I think about the dress that is not finish. So, I get up to work more. But, I cannot. I am too tired. Too tired to do a good job.”

I nod sympathetically.

“So, you know what I do? I DRINK BEER!” she exclaims. “Then, I sleep. Then make more alteration. That was June.”

Sue’s quite the character. Hopefully, she can fix the issues with the dress. We’ll return in a month to see how it fits!

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