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.

 

A couple of updates

In October, after we signed our catering contract, James and I literally halted all wedding planning. It wasn’t intentional, but I will be honest, it’s intense and I am incredibly relieved that we have (had) a long engagement. But with that being said, there has inevitably been a few wedding updates to share before full fledged planning starts again in January.

1. Our engagement pictures came in! They are absolutely stunning and breathtaking. If anyone is looking for a fabulous photographer who has ties on both the east and west coast, I recommend Mary Costa. She captured our relationship so perfectly. This is one of our favorite:

You can view more at: http://marycostaphotography.com/blog/engaged-sara-james/

2. My dress came in! Alterations won’t start until the summer, but clearly I wanted to try it on beforehand. Compared to the sample dress, this one just fits so much better. And trying it on put to bed all the nightmares I had that it was black or had spikes sewn down the side (who knew I would actually dream about that!). However, the dress JUST fits. So I will definitely need to maintain my current weight (and maybe lose a pound or two).

3. James “proposed” to all of his groomsmen. If I can, I will make him post about this. If I can’t, hopefully I get around to sharing!

 

Caterers and Antiques

James and I have always talked about having burgers and fries, tacos and chips and salsa at our wedding. This is not glamorous, but glamorous isn’t us. It’s also great food to eat in general, when drinking, when hungry, in the summer and pretty much is the epitome of our diet (particularly the chips and salsa).

We started getting quotes from caterers and only one heard what I truly wanted: East Coast Grill. Earlier this week, James, my mom, Natalie and I went to a tasting and were hooked. Not only did the event manager add chips and salsa as an appetizer (without us even prompting!), she was incredibly upbeat and easy to work with. Furthermore, the food was out of this world good, we’d be supporting another local Cambridge business and they were incredible with offering a delicious, gluten free meal. Not to mention vegan, vegetarian and dairy free options.

It’s a great feeling to have the food and rental items mostly taken care of. Now, James and I can focus on the “fun” stuff over the next 10 months (I know, it’s crazy that we have to book a caterer so far in advance!). We kicked off the fun stuff by starting to antique for random decor items. After a trip to SOWA (which proved to be expensive and limited), we found ourselves at the Cambridge Antique market. Holy wow. Four floors of “junk” and treasures. We didn’t buy anything but came away with lots of great ideas, which seem to morph on a regular basis.

Love this sign!

PS Our table cloths came in and they are awesome. We’ll be ordering all of our linens from Linen Tablecloth!

Linens

We’re starting to receive quotes from caterers, which includes items I didn’t even know I needed. Like tablecloths and napkins and extra furniture for gifts and cards and high top tables for cocktail hour and…. the list goes on and on.

What I have learned is that it is generally cheaper to rent these things then to buy them. For example, I can rent a fork for 50 cents. Can I buy a fork for 50 cents? Nope. I can’t. It’s just not possible. A plate? Cheaper to rent. Linens? Oh they are SO expensive to rent. But even more expensive to buy.

Until I found http://www.linentablecloth.com/

This is my new mecca. Guess what I did? I managed to put together a package of all the linens I needed for under $300. Guess how much it is to rent? $600 plus. Also, renting means I can choose from a select number of colors. Now I can incorporate all my wedding colors, which makes my table design from drab to fab.

Take that party rental centers!!!

Engagement Photos

I last left you in August, as I attempted to not online shop. This went very well, and I saved a few hundred dollars…. until I started buying things for our engagement photo sessions (but not online!). Oops! But, now I haveĀ  makeup (did not own makeup before), a few new bangles and these AWESOME red pumps (which I successfully walked four miles in and only got one little blister).

We met our photographer (Mary Costa – you should really check her out, she’s awesome!) at Harvard Square at 7:30 am. This meant waking up at an ungodly hour to do hair, get dressed, and prep.

The session itself was a lot of fun, and Mary was great at directing us (which was very much needed given that James and I can be super awkward in photographs together!). I’m excited to share them and use a few for our save the dates (crafts project will be posted as soon as it’s revealed – so stay tuned!).

The Budget Breaker

I am generally good about saving money, budgeting and preventing myself from going to the mall. But there is one thing I did not factor in: online shopping.

And I definitely have a problem with it. Not a max out all your credit cards problem. But because the item isn’t tangible until it arrives (plus, who doesn’t love to receive mail?!), I never feel like I’m spending money until I see my bank statement. So I’m going to try something: no online shopping for 30 days (we’re on day 2 of 30 – woo!). And even then, the necessities will be carefully weighed.

How am I going to do it? I unsubscribed from shopping sites like Rue La La, Gilt, ModCloth and Amazon. I purchased a wallet (so I don’t have a reason to check those daily deal sites every day for the perfect one and then buy other things). I don’t need to buy anything for my wedding right now, and if I do, it will be there at the end of this.

It’s time to SAVE. And by publicizing this, I am hoping I’ll feel more motivated to stick to it.

Introducing: The Multicultural Arts Center

Remember last time I was frustrated by not being able to book a venue? Well, that’s changed! Earlier this week I went to check out the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Upon leaving, I called James and then proceeded to write a check. That’s right, we’ve booked the venue!

And it’s absolutely gorgeous. Marble floors, high, decorative ceiling, a breathtaking railing that surrounds the entire room. And this is just the main theater area. We also have access to two art galleries in the building, changing rooms for both the groom and bride, the hallway and a garden outside.

This has now made the wedding very real. It’s definitely a weird feeling, and I should probably enjoy it while it lasts and I move onto the next battle. In terms of a theme, we’re going for vintage inspired (and the venue is a perfect fit!), but we’re not elaborating too much because we do want some elements of surprise (plus, as I’ve learned very quickly, most people have opinions – and I’m going to do what I’m going to do – but I still love you all!).

Venue Frustrations, Etc.

It’s time to book our venue. In fact, the venue we ultimately decided to go with (and put soft holds on dates with), told us in June to contact them in July to book. Well, James has been contacting them repeatedly in July (again, by their request), and they aren’t answering us! We both have little tolerance for this. As a result, I will be checking out a new venue in Cambridge this week.

Has anyone else experienced this before? Working in client services, and sometimes in event planning, I know that there is a small threshold of time that you must respond to your client. I would accept the event coordinator being on vacation, but at least have an out of office turned on in your email!

Hopefully by next week we will have a venue booked, a date in place and can start working on a realistic timeline (sure I might have bought my dress early, but that’s the only thing I didn’t wait on!).

In other news, James and I have adopted a guinea pig. Her name is Squeaky and she’s very sweet.

Don’t worry, she won’t be part of the wedding.

THE Dress

Pinterest, Say Yes to the Dress and many other bridal websites and magazines make dress shopping nearly impossible. At least for me that is. I liked so many styles and was left completely clueless, the opposite of what I was trying to do by looking! A few months ago I fell in love with a Justin Alexander tea-length gown. It was a little above my price point, but I was enamored.

I finally found a shop that carried the dress and made a journey to Danvers, Mass. to try it on. The dress itself was gorgeous. On me it was a bit of a let down. I hated it. I ended up pulling 8 bridesmaid dresses to try on instead, the only sheath style the store carried, and the style I realized looked best on me. Bridesmaid dresses are appealing because of their price as well. I fell in love with this one.

Flash forward a couple of weeks and I decided to check out a bridal shop in Hyannis. I walked in, expecting to just see some additional dresses and try on the coveted bridesmaids dress. The shop owner listened to what I didn’t like in a dress, my vague sense of what looked good on me and got to work. She pulled many beautiful, simple dresses, and then she pulled a Casablanca. I wasn’t too sure of it. It had a shoulder, and didn’t have a sweetheart neckline. But I agreed to try it on because what’s the worse that could come of it?

This one-shouldered dress was the first I tried on and nothing compared to it. It was BEAUTIFUL on me. I was shocked. Other dresses looked amazing, and were flattering, but nothing compared to this. I kept coming back to it. It even paled in comparison to the bridesmaid dress. Without having any intention of buying a dress, I put half down. I could continue to go dress shopping (which I really dislike!). I could continue to find dresses online that were similar, and probably more expensive. Or I could stop here, with the perfect dress and move on to the next part of planning.

Now we’re waiting to hear back on the exact date that the venue is available for us, and everything will start to fall into place.

Oops – it’s been awhile

I have to admit, I took a mini blog hiatus… and a wedding planning hiatus. The end of April was a whirlwind with the Boston bombings, interviewing for a new job closer to home and time just got away from me. But I’m back! Working a mile from home, and really enjoying my new work life balance and not driving three hours a day.

So where to start…? James and I have made a to do list for us to track towards our early September date (note – still tentative, we’ll know the date for sure in a month!). We’ll be booking our venue next month, I’ll start looking at dresses soon and we have an engagement photo session to plan for (very excited for Mary Costa to take our photos!).

We are both in lose weight mode. I know I complained about this before, but I was not very serious. Why? Because I didn’t have to go try a dress on. So the first week of June I decided to give up two things: cheese and peanut butter cups. Both foods I have a complete schedule with. And three weeks later, I have to admit, I am looking slimmer, feeling better and am having an easier time with the cravings. I even have a container of peanut butter cups on my desk at work and I haven’t caved once. James did a fitness challenge at work that involved working out every day for at least 30 minutes, drinking 3 liters of water and no soda for three weeks. This is his “rest” week, or so he claims.

Hopefully next time I post I have something more concrete to share. Until then!