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Day 6: London

Today was the reason we came to London for our honeymoon. Today we went to the WB Harry Potter studio tour. The morning started early – we had to be at the Golden Tours Victoria office no later than 7:45 am to board a giant HP branded bus that would take us to the studio which is about 20 miles outside of the city.

This tour literally attracts everyone from around the world – from the U.S. to Japan to Germany to Russia and more.

The tour is… amazing. It opens up to the Great Hall set, and you are transported to a magical world – literally. We only had three hours to walk through all of it, but I could have easily spent more time. Both James and I bought the audio tour and were guided by Tom Felton (Draco) throughout. Since it would be ridiculous and lengthy to highlight each of the sets, I’ll stick with favorites. I loved the potions classroom – while simple in structural design, there were more than 500 bottles (and more than 1,000 when used in the movies) each hand labeled and filled with baked bones, rubber animals transformed into something that doesn’t exist in the Muggle world and more. Dumbledore’s office was amazing and finally we were offered an opportunity to get up close and personal with his instruments on display. All the books you see in there? Phone books! And finally, I loved the creature shop, where we learned how they made the creepy fetus Voldemort, Gringott goblins, dragons, Greyback and more.

Harry’s bedroom under the stairs.

The Great Hall. In the first movie, the director was set on having ONLY real food portrayed. And so it was. In later movies, the props department made lifelike goodies alongside some real dishes.

More Great Hall at the head table, where professors sat.

Count house points anyone?

Makeup! Did you know that the scar was drawn on Daniel Radcliffe more than 6,000 times in the shooting of the eight movies?  It also had to be drawn on his stunt double – that’s when he didn’t person his own stunts.

Boys dorm (and Ron’s bed in the front). This is the oldest set and was used throughout the first six movies. The beds were originally built to fit 10 and 11 year old boys. By the time they were 17 and 18, they no longer fit the 5’9″ bed frame and had to curl up or let their feet hang over for scenes filmed here.

Horcruxes. The woman who designed these spent months researching heirlooms from areas of the world these would have come from. How is that for authentic?

Gryffindor common room. The staircases to the dormitories were marked Girls and Boys above the arch to help the actors go in the correct direction.

Any letter that was close enough for the camera to see had to be handwritten. A few thousand were printed (think to the very first movie when Harry receives all of his letters from Hogwarts). The original letter was also too heavy for their owl actors to carry, so they also created a “letter lite” version for the birds.

On the Knight bus! The bus actually drove through the streets of London and routes had to be planned to accommodate its triple decker length.

Our first butterbeer! Neither James nor I could tell you what this tasted like. I had expected something like cream soda but it’s not. It is creamy though, and at points sweet and salty. It’s bubbly and not quite caramel flavored.

Diagon Alley!

The end of the tour spits you out to a 1:24 model of Hogwarts which was used in every movie but the last (CGI had improved to a point where it was no longer needed). Every time J.K. Rowling revealed a new part of the castle, model makers spent three months updating the structure to accommodate new sections such as the owlery, the astronomy tower and the bridge.

Highlight of the trip? So far! We also got suckered into the gift shop and each purchased ourselves a giant mug of the Maurader’s Map (because the one I bought at the Museum of Science exhibition is finally starting to fall apart), as well as plenty of candy from Honeydukes.

Afterwards, James and I came back to the flat and went for another three mile run (this time in the opposite direction) to explore the neighborhood. We passed the Chelsea soccer stadium, ran by shops and discovered the one ice cream place in all of Fulham (this may be an exaggeration but this has not been an easy thing to find): Scoops!

When we returned from the run, we headed over to Whole Foods to pick up some scallops for dinner. But they closed at five. So we went to another grocery store. It also closed at five. Everything here closes at five on Sunday. I would be screwed in the states as often times we don’t get to the grocery until later afternoon/early evening on Sundays! We returned and beefed up our leftovers from yesterday with the addition of some sautéed vegetables. We spent the rest of the evening watching movies and TV, and hit the hay early.

Wedding Thank Yous

And just like that, it’s over with. Our wedding was an incredibly special, beautiful, magical day, filled with the most amazing people and experiences. In the weeks leading up to it, I barely had time to write a blog post with all of the last minute to dos, but I am incredibly pleased to say that my DIY wedding was a huge success – thanks to an amazing crew of talented friends and family.

DIY weddings are hard. Very hard. They require more trips to the craft store than you could ever imagine possible. Home Depot becomes your home away from home. And you think about every minute detail all day long. But armed with a great tracker, run of show and organized mind – it’s completely possible and totally doable – without a wedding planner even entering the picture.

I was very proud that my wedding ran on time (unheard of), had minimal flaws (we forgot our exit music!) and that we planned for the unplanned – such as bad weather and having folks on hand to make emergency trips to Target, AC Moore and Home Depot. I cannot however, take all the credit – I had an amazing team of people who were ready to rock and roll. And so while we will post a full on wedding recap, we wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank everyone who made this even happen.

To my parents – my Dad who jumped in to save the day and was hot glue gunning in my apartment the morning of my wedding, running to Home Depot late at night, and helping plan my photo excursion a few days before. For acting as a chauffeur and making himself available whenever he was needed. To my mom who was my rock throughout this entire wedding planning process – the person I called to share my excitement, frustration or surprise with. For helping me fold numerous napkins and making those amazing tea light roses. This list could go on and on for both – and I am so thankful for their love and support throughout.

To James parents – who made our rehearsal dinner possible and supported us throughout the entire planning process. We were incredibly thankful for their generous contributions and were thrilled that they made it possible to dine at one of our favorite restaurants in Cambridge with our wedding party.

To my brother Cory – who officiated our wedding in the most perfect way possible. Preparing for an out of the box, short wedding ceremony cannot be easy – especially when the bride is someone like me! Cory not only nailed the speech – but really capture the essence of who James and I are. In addition, he made emergency trips to Target, drove my wedding party to and from our apartment to the venue, packed up my car and drove home boat loads of decorations, linens and leftover food. I suppose I will forgive him for taking my leftover pulled pork!

To Scott, Billy and Emily – for capturing our beautiful and special day on camera. We were incredibly honored that both of them were willing to be behind the camera, give direction and ensure that we’d have the best wedding photographs ever. To Scott for coming up a few days early to help me scout photo locations and plan for an unexpected 90 degree day and potential rain. To Billy and Emily for coming over to my apartment early to photograph me getting ready and incorporating Squeaky into some special shots.

To Eileen – for doing our flowers and traveling up from New York very early the morning of to set up. Everything was beautiful and you were still able to capture an outdoor garden look indoors when our plans changed.

To Kristin – my maid of honor and best friend – for giving an amazing speech, for surprising me with a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, for planning a Harry Potter themed bachelorette and throwing a knock out bridal shower.

To Carly – for sacrificing a weekend during grad school to do my hair, as well as a few bridesmaids. It looked absolutely stunning and I couldn’t have asked for a better up do. Not to mention, all of the time she spent with me on trials.

To Meghann – for helping me with my makeup – and transforming me into a bride. For dancing all night long in her high heels. For being an expert infinity dress tier and a stand by Squeaky sitter.

To Julie – for having the most awesome emergency wedding kit in the world, for running to Target the morning of my wedding to buy extension cords, for corralling folks out of the venue afterwards and overall being an awesome friend who helped me plan this from the get go.

To Janie – for having the best attitude, awesome dance moves and helping to feed a houseful of crazy groomsmen. Also for going to Target the day of my wedding (I am not kidding about these emergency Target trips!).

To Matt, Dan and Mark – who were here to help with whatever we needed, support James throughout the process and spend our wedding day entertaining him while everyone else got ready. To Mark for giving the best, best man’s speech ever – according to everyone there who witnessed it.

To my sister – who didn’t complain once, even though taking 1,000 pictures and waiting to walk down the aisle is probably the most boring thing for a 9 year old!

To everyone who came – you all made it special and amazing. We were so touched by your generosity, support and love.

From the bottom of our hearts – thank you for everything!! We couldn’t have done this without all of you and are so happy with how everything came out.

Cupcake Tasting

I love Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham. They have hands down the best gluten free cupcakes I have ever tasted. I know it’s a gross word, but they really are moist, and comparable to their gluten counterparts.

More than a year ago, I found a cupcake/dessert stand that I knew had to be at my wedding from High Tea for Alice.The pieces were gorgeous, whimiscal, and as the shop name indicates, channels Alice in Wonderland. The catch? I couldn’t afford a $200+ cake stand, let alone four or five! We were on a mission – make this cake stand for significantly less, avoid drills when possible, and enjoy the whimsy!

My Mom started scouting thrift shops and scored some amazing vintage plates. My Dad offered to put them together (a blog post for another day!). Here’s the prototype:

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

Anyway, back to the cupcake tasting! We worked with Sarah who provided James and I with an array of cupcakes in both gluten containing and gluten free forms: funfetti, carrot, chocolate oreo and red velvet. We ended up going with all but red velvet, which in GF form was okay but not nearly as tasty as everything else. The gluten free chocolate oreo is also vegan.

When we were discussing the bride & groom cake, Sarah had the brilliant idea to frost carrot cupcakes to look like a little tuft of grass. The perfect place for our guinea pigs to nestle in!

We left in a cake coma and pleased with our decision.

Interested in them catering your event? Email or go to

Finding the Perfect Wedding Band

I love my engagement ring. It’s different, sparkly and breaks the traditional mold of a single band with a single diamond. This however, proved to be rather difficult in finding a semi matching band.

I started the initial search at chain jewelry stores. Why? They would have an incredibly vast selection and were always open. I hated everything. Not to mention, I couldn’t justify the price for the quality! See exhibit A and exhibit B.

In fairness, it’s not all horrible, but it was not what I imagined myself to wear everyday. I came to the conclusion that I might need a custom ring which would cost thousands of dollars. There was no way that I would be able to afford that pre-wedding. It would have to wait. This conclusion shocked a few folks. But I was honestly okay with it. And then I walked into Pacheco, a local Cambridge jeweler that had multiple 5-star reviews online. I pass this shop every day on my walk to work, and literally never stepped foot inside until now.

The two clerks (one of whom I assumed to be Pacheco himself) were incredibly friendly. We initially walked in to ask about bands for James. When I mentioned my ring was difficult to find a mate for, one of the clerks looked it, said “no, that is easy!” and whipped out the PERFECT pairing. I braced myself for the ridiculous price. If chain jewelry stores had to charge a lot, this place must be expensive. I was shocked at how reasonable and affordable the piece was. When I asked about having some customizations made, I expected them to tack on at least another thousand dollars. Not the case at all.

Not to sound cheesy, but this September, James and I can actually have a ceremony with rings involved. He did not walk away so lucky, but he was dazzled by the gold bands and saddened by the more expensive price tag than the Tungsten bands. That said, we’ll be back! You can’t put a price on something you have to wear every single day for the rest of your life.

Suit Shopping

A few Sundays ago, James and I went suit shopping. What we thought would be an incredibly easy process turned into as complicated (and as expensive!) as my dress shopping experience.

See Suit 1. Suit 1 was chosen by a man a Men’s Wearhouse. I told him to channel his inner Nucky Thompson. He clearly failed, at least in James’ mind.












Let’s move on to Suit 2. Suit 2 we found at J. Crew. The price tag made your heart skip a few beats. It looks no different than Suit 1. But I suppose I am not well versed in suits because this was drastically different – amazing – better – the perfect suit.












You could smile once in awhile, James. It’s not like this is going to be the happiest day of your life or anything.

Suit 3 was another J. Crew. I’ll spare you of the photo because it looks like Suits 1 and 2.

Suit 4 was found at Banana Republic. A price tag not as steep as the J. Crew suit, but apparently not as acceptable. It also looks like Suits 1, 2 and 3.












After a disheartening experience – suit shopping was a lot harder than we imagined – James visited a shop in Cambridge with rave reviews – Keezers. This place was awesome, minus the fact that they didn’t have any suits in James size. Another blow. Fast forward to last weekend and James walked out of the J. Crew Ludlow Suit Shop $750 poorer, $500 over budget and channeling Nucky Thompson like it’s his job.

Booking the Honeymoon

Life has been a bit crazy and I have had limited time to do any wedding planning (i.e. crafting or blogging!). But we did knock off one big item on our list – book the honeymoon.

James has never been to Europe and I desperately wanted to go again. My motives may or may not have been driven by a visit to Highclere Castle and the Harry Potter Warner Brothers London Studio Tour.

We started looking at plane tickets in January. A trip to Europe with a stopover in Iceland was ridiculously affordable. As long as we were able to book it before the price of plane tickets went up. Don’t worry, we snagged them for a ridiculously low price. So we were going to Europe! Yay! But we had nowhere to stay. I took it upon myself to book us a place to sleep.

Hotels were crazy expensive. Plus, we’d have to buy all of our meals (I really get sick of eating out after 4 days of it). We wanted an authentic feel to the trip and so I had the brilliant idea to use After viewing hundreds of apartments, verifying the safety of neighborhoods with my friend Meghann, I found the most absolutely perfect place.



It gets even better. In addition to this beautiful, open apartment, with a washer/dryer, fully equipped kitchen, and lots of natural light it has a garden.



A breakfast nook. A place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. A place to just hang out and enjoy almost autumn sun (or clouds). We’re both incredibly excited and yes, it’s been booked! Next up on the list is to find a place to stay in Iceland. After that, we’ll begin to populate our itinerary (note – Highclere Castle tickets already purchased).

Suggestions welcome! Where should we eat? What should we see? Where are the best farmer’s markets? Any advice when driving on the wrong side of the road?


Ceremony and reception decorations. Nowhere on this great wide internet have I found a comprehensive list of these things. Why is that?! I’m going to try and change this – with my wedding in mind (i.e. no church, or aisle runners will be had).



  • Backdrop – we’re getting married in a garden with some great structural entities already, so we are looking for a way to soften this with a backdrop of hanging flowers (see above for inspiration)
  • Aisle – I think aisle runners are hideous, but we’ll need to create this somehow and will probably do so with chairs
  • Flowers – bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, bridesmaid bouquets and perhaps something where we’re actually getting married!


  • Tablecloths – for dinner tables, dessert table, card/gift table, bar, buffet and high top. I highly recommend getting these from Linen Tablecloths vs. renting
  • Table runners – for the rectangle shaped tables, such as dessert and card/gift. These are still TBD but a great way to add color or texture
  • Napkins – with a great fold!
  • Centerpieces – table number, flowers and custom prohibition inspired bottles we’re making
  • Decorations for dessert table, card/gift table and bar – including flowers, card box
  • Menus – who wouldn’t want an opportunity to advertise that we’re having a taco bar!?
  • Signage – for seating arrangements, for bar, for dessert table and for card/gift table, possibly outside to “mark the spot” for the ceremony. A sign might also replace menus and will indicate food allergies across the board (our wedding is going to be allergy friendly though!)
  • “Mini” centerpieces for high top tables
  • Guestbook
  • Cake topper – TBD given that we’re going the cupcake route, but something to think about
  • Cupcake stands and platters

Other items that I won’t have but I have seen as popular decorations include:

  • Photo booth
  • Spare garter and bouquet to toss
  • Chair covers/bows/Mr. & Mrs. signage
  • Wedding favors
  • Toasting flutes
  • Fancy forks and serving utensils for the cake
  • Draping for ceiling
  • Crafts/activities for kids
  • Pew decorations
  • Candles
  • Aisle runners
  • Alter/podium
  • Framed photographs of family weddings
  • Lighting – I will have lighting, but it’s something my venue provides and not for me to worry about!
  • Utensils, glassware, dinnerware – something my caterer is handling

What else?

Wedding Planning Timeline 2013

A long engagement means taking our sweet time to plan a wedding. But we accomplished a lot in 2013! Found a venue, set the date, asked the wedding party to be the wedding party, etc. See for yourself! And don’t forget to click on each of the items to reveal a little more color.

~Sara & James

  • Jan 11 2013

  • Jan 11 2013

  • Jan 25 2013

  • Feb 3 2013

  • Feb 14 2013

  • Feb 16 2013

  • Feb 16 2013

  • Feb 16 2013

  • Feb 23 2013

  • March 3 2013

  • March 10 2013

  • June 30 2013

  • July 18 2013

  • July 29 2013

  • Sept 7 2013

  • Sept 14 2013

  • Oct 15 2013

    James convinces Sara to have mashed potatoes and tacos at their wedding.

  • Oct 20 2013

  • Nov 29 2013

  • Dec 1 2013

  • Dec 27 2013

  • Dec 1 2013

    Because why rent when buying is cheaper?!

  • Dec 31 2013

The Bridesmaid Proposal

When I was growing up, I loved crafts. I loved to paint, draw, create. As an adult, I despise crafts, unless you count cooking or baking as a craft. I’m aware, a DIY wedding will mean I need to embrace my inner craftiness. And so with that said, I reveal to you my first craft project – the bridesmaid proposal. And it only took me 11 months to make all four!

I didn’t want my bridesmaid proposal to be ordinary. I didn’t want to give a ring pop, or a custom label on a bottle of wine. And so it dawned on me, nearly 11 months ago, to create flashcards of our friendship. The front would have a month and year, the back, a fact about our friendship. The last card would have the month and year of the “bridesmaid proposal.” And what better vehicle to carry these cards than a pencil box?

In addition to the card, I filled the box with trinkets including a mini bottle of champagne, a notebook and pen, gum and candy.