Archive for January, 2010

Unity Quilt cutoff

In our original post about the Unity Quilt, we didn’t indicate a deadline for fabric contributions. But in order to give myself enough time to inventory the fabric, create a plan and execute that plan before crunch time for wedding planning is upon us, I need a deadline. Right now it’s pretty chill, but I don’t want all the last minute stuff to be hindered by quilt creating.

So March. If you’re interested in contributing to our quilt – and we’d love if you were – send your fabric our way by March s’il vous plait. If you need details, leave a comment or email us at shanmikeblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

It’s going well so far. We’ve gotten t-shirts, swatches of funky-patterned cotton blends and samples from failed curtain projects. It’s been fun. I’ve also enlisted Mike’s mom’s quilting expertise. I’m suddenly nervous about pulling this all off since I’ve essentially got one chance. If I screw it up, I can’t ask everyone to send us more fabric. So she’s going to help me get it right the first time.

Anyway, March. If you’re interested.

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Planning the honeymoon

We’re getting close to settling on a honeymoon idea! We’ve gone through quite a process trying balance what we want to do with what we can afford. We started out with the idea of a trip to the northeast, then we narrowed in on Boston. Fly to Boston, spend a couple days exploring, then shack up in a B&B somewhere for a few nights before heading home. Except then I started trying to find a B&B and became completely overwhelmed.

I told Mike I didn’t want to stress about the honeymoon or the planning of it. It’s the only thing about this wedding that has caused me stress so far, and it’s not even about the actual wedding! So I said, let’s do something in which we can completely relax (ie: no big city exploring), and let’s get a damn travel agent to help us. So we visited the local AAA and said we wanted to go on a cruise.

Turns out their agents are severely overworked, and after getting the run-around for a couple weeks, we were basically told that we can’t be a priority because our budget is so small. Touché AAA. We tried to do some cruise research on our own, but that too is overwhelming, and eventually we nixed that idea as well.

We considered an all-inclusive resort, but they’re just too expensive. My bottom line was that I was willing to spend $1500 on a good honeymoon, but any more than that, it better be a freaking spectacular honeymoon! As in, if we’re gonna exceed our budget, we better just go all out and head to Europe.

My next move was to look at this map:

Which details the states I have and haven’t visited. I considered, “Where have I always wanted to visit? An where can we drive in one day?” The answer was… well there were a few answers, but the one I honed in on was the Shenandoah Valley. I’ve always heard how gorgeous it is, the weather should be good in June, and I’ve always wanted to visit this part of the state if for no other reason than that my whole life, one of my nicknames has been Shannondoah.

I proposed this idea to Mike, and though he was not exactly elated at first, he’s come around to the idea. I insisted that “yeah that’s sounds ok” was unacceptable. We both deserved to love our honeymoon. And when I showed him some of the sweet cabins we could rent (with hot tubs!), he came around. So the research began.

We’ve found a cabin we want to rent, and we’ve narrowed down some inexpensive activities. We also have an annual national park pass from our road trip last year, so the Shenandoah National Park and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park will be free. And we thought about doing this zipline course we found. Other than that, we plan to explore the area a little, soak in the hot tub at the cabin, and relax as much as possible.

So far our budget looks like this:

Cabin rental – 800
Gas – 175
Oil Change – 30 (since we’ll take my car, we’re working this necessity in)
Restaurant meals – 150
Groceries – 100
Zipline – 80
National Parks – 0

Total – 1335

We’re hoping that’s reasonable, but also hoping we manage to spend even less. So, anybody been? Any ideas or tips? We haven’t officially committed to this yet, but I’m really excited about the idea, so fingers crossed.

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FMGSS invitations

The FMGSS invitations are out! We used Snapfish to make postcard invitations, and I think they turned out quite well. We opted to have Snapfish send all the postcards directly to the recipients, so we didn’t see what they looked like in real life until we got our own copy in the mail. For 17 personalized postcards plus shipping it cost $25. We used a photo from our “engagement” shoot, the same one you see in the sidebar over there (only flipped), for the front.

Cute right? Oh, wait, what is that thing on my mouth you ask? Yeah…

I was at my sister’s when she got hers, and I noticed this little smudge on my mouth. That’s odd, and unfortunate. Oh well. My mom was there, too, so when she got home and received her copy, she let me know that it was smudged in the same place. Then I got home and found our copy in the mail. Same thing. Our conclusion is that it was the machine the Post Office runs them through.

But how unfortunate! Right on my mouth! I bet every single one we sent out is like this. Now if people hang them on their fridge, I’m going to be staring back at them mouthless. Very nice.

Anyway, the back of the postcards said:

Please join us for a Family Meet & Greet and Wedding Shower.

Saturday, March 27, 2:00 pm


Love, Shannon & Mike

We are registered at Target and JCPenney.

(Mark your calendar for our June 12 wedding!)

No RSVP. We figure it’s all family, and we’ll be talking to them before the end of March, so we’ll know if they’re coming or not. Also, I kind of didn’t mean for these to go out so early. Snapfish said it would take 3-5 business days to produce and 3-5 business days to ship. I figured that would bring us close to the end of January. But it literally took about 3 days total between the time I ordered the postcards until the time they showed up in the mail.

Hopefully people won’t forget about us by March 27!

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We’ve considered a lot of ideas for how we want to represent our support of marriage equality at our wedding. As you may recall, when we tackled this issue before (a few times), we were throwing around a bunch of possible ideas. From ribbons to favor tags, from donations to speeches.

We were leaning toward making a donation to an organization that supports marriage equality, then putting some sort of information about that organization out at our wedding. Maybe on the favor tags? That was until Rebecca (who didn’t give me anything to link to) gave us an idea we loved in her comment on this post.

She told us about WhiteKnot.org which proclaims that “Everyone should have the right to tie the knot.” The idea is that you wear a white “knot” or ribbon from them to show your support of marriage equality. It’s such a simple thing, a small statement, but if people ask us about our white knots, it gives us a great platform for explaining our position.

There are a couple ways to get knots. You can donate $25 and receive a kit to make about 50 knots on your own (great for groups); you can send a self-addressed stamped envelope and they’ll send back a knot; or make a donation of $5 or more and you’ll receive one knot. We made two donations and will presumably receive two knots in the mail soon.

We only ordered knots for the two of, which we’ll wear on our wedding day, but Mike had the idea to maybe wear them at the FMGSS as well. That way if anyone asks and is interested, they could get their own knot and maybe even wear it to the wedding.

I think this was the perfect solution for us to our quandry about how to represent our beliefs without causing a big to do.

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Because we’re in the process of planning a Family Meet & Greet Slash Shower, we figured we better be registered for some gifts. When my sister was planning her wedding last year, they weren’t going to register and people were not having that. They want to buy you something and they want to know what you want. However, like everything else, we wanted to be very organized and very simple about it. Here was our process:

1. Sit down together and brainstorm a list of stuff we want or need. We included things we have but would like to replace, things we need now and things we might need eventually but could store easily in the meantime. It came to about 25 items.

2. Select your stores. We didn’t want to register at more than two places, so we thought about what stores together would offer everything on our list. We decided on Target and Sears.

3. Grab your list and head out. First we visited Target and found as much from our list as we could. We figured if we found a better option of any items at Sears, we could register for both and edit them online later.

4. Be flexible. When we got to Sears, we realized their registry process is ridiculous. We sat at a kiosk to set it up and the computer was so slow I grew a few grey hairs waiting for it. When we mentioned this to a sales associate, hoping there might be a better way, he simply said, “Yeah it’s incredibly slow” and walked away. And so did we, heading down to JCPenney instead. JCP doesn’t have all the tools and outdoor equipment we were hoping to get at Sears, but it had many of the things we didn’t find at Target.

5. Edit your registries. As soon as we got home, we logged into both our registries online. We opened them side-by-side and made note of any repeats or gaps, and adjusted as necessary until we had all of our favorite things accounted for.

6. Add more! After talking to my friend Katie, I added more stuff to both registries. At first we were trying to be conservative because a) it feels selfish to make a big list of stuff you want people to buy you, and b) we didn’t want to get the stuff we only kind of wanted instead of the stuff we really wanted. There’s no way to rate the items on your registry, so gift-buyers don’t know what you’re really thinking. Katie convinced me that people want lots of options or they get cranky and start shopping off the list. Then you end up with a ceramic rooster and no gift receipt. However, if someone buys you the cupcake carrier you registered for, but you didn’t get the casserole dish you really want and need, you can always exchange them later. PLUS! I didn’t know this, but many stores will give you 10% off any items left on your registry after it is ‘finished.’ So even though we know it’s likely nobody will buy us the expensive piece of luggage we registered for, we can get 10% off after the wedding if we buy it ourselves.

7. Don’t obsess over your list. I’m going to try really hard not to check our registries every day to see what has been purchased and what else we could add. Both Target and JCP have ample suggestions for you, and I don’t want to get sucked in to adding things like incense (which Target was pushing hard!) or faux fireplaces. I know I’ll check in once and while, but I will try not to obsess.

(Me with the scanner “gun” and our list at Target. Yes, I had essentially just woken up.)

(Mike wasn’t that interested in using the “gun” but I insisted he try it at least once because it’s kind of a rite of passage. He scanned one item and managed to break the scanner and we had track down an employee to fix it. He was cut off after that.)

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I already mentioned that Mike and I are planning a Family Meet & Greet Slash Shower, and plans are now fully underway. We decided to only invite family since that alone creates a pretty unwieldy number for those on a budget. Like us. Our guest list is about 40 and includes grandparents, parents, aunts/uncles, siblings/significant others, and nieces/nephews. Forty people won’t comfortably fit in any home that we know, so we started looking for an alternate space. We asked both our moms and my step-mom to help us hunt for an affordable room to rent, and in the end, we found one for free. Mike’s mom did actually, at her workplace. The availability of the room helped narrow down our date, and in the end, the FMGSS is going to be in late March, about two and a half months before the wedding.

With that done, we moved to planning food, and decided on hors d’oeuvres, snacks, salads, etc. We’ll provide many of the edibles, but we are planning to take up those relatives who have offered to provide a dish. The menu is still in progress.

Next, we thought about decorations. Essentially, we decided we didn’t really need decorations since they don’t actually add any real value to a party other than aesthetic, and we’re too cheap for aesthetics. But we’ve been trying to think of a way to make any decorations purposeful. Mike wondered if we could somehow incorporate centerpieces into an interactive activity that would get people talking, which, after all, is the point of a meet and greet. Please, if you have any ideas, shout ’em out.

We also have been working on invitations. Our original thought was e-vites with handwritten thank you notes to follow, but when the room ended up being free, we decided we could spend a little money on invitations. Because we didn’t want to use just a generic box of invites from the drug store, but we also didn’t want to put a lot of effort into hand-making anything, we turned to Snapfish. We’re going to do postcards with our photo on the front and all the details on the back. I love the idea that, if they want to, the guests can hang our invitations on the fridge like you might do with a real travel postcard. We’ll share the final product when it’s finished.

And that’s what we’ve got so far for the FMGSS.

(My stepmom and I were talking the other day about other showers we need to plan in the next few months, and we got overwhelmed with the details and logistics of it all. She’s a rock star, and I know with her on board we’ll pull it all off, but I have to admit that it feels really good to be able to put on our own shindig without laying the burden on her or anyone else.)

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And we have a menu.

The nice thing about planning your own reception completely, is you get to have anything you want for dinner. That’s also the bad thing about planning your own reception. When you go with a catering company, you get choices, sample some you’re interested in, decide on final options, and your guests choose their meal. Otherwise, you decide on a buffet menu, and your guests help themselves. Either way, you make a few choices and leave the rest up to the professionals.

Not so with the do-it-yourself wedding. We are completely independent, which means we had to come up with the budget for our menu, plan our menu, decide who to ask for help with what, price out the items on our menu, determine serving sizes so we knew how much to buy, the list goes on. Fortunately, I’m in food service, so I sort of knew the ropes. But still, talk about an undertaking. We had to determine what we liked, determine whether other people would like those things too (and to what extent we cared), and decide what to keep and what to trim from the list. What we finally came up with was…drum roll please…

A taco bar with all the fixings, black bean salad, Spanish rice, refried beans, chips with salsa and guacamole, and, in place of a traditional cake, an ice cream bar with a mile-long table of toppings (maybe not quite a mile) and a cupcake bar featuring assorted frostings and decorations. Ole!

Our wedding is not turning into a Mexican fiesta by any means, but we both love tacos (and have a relative wiling and more than able to make them), so we started there. By the time we got to the chips and guac, we realized we might as well keep the whole menu in the same theme. But we will not be hiring a mariachi band or walking down the aisle in sombreros. God would I look ridiculous in a sombrero.

So there you are. A do-it-yourself menu. And the best part? Because we both have amazing families who love us, we’re getting the bulk of the food purchased and prepared by loved ones. So to everyone helping us make our wedding possible, I’ll take another opportunity to say, “thank you.”

In fact, I’ll take this one opportunity to say, “gracias.”

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First contributor

We got our first contribution to the Unity Quilt the other day! My friends Rachel and Jason were the first to get theirs to us. Rachel is a friend from college. We spent two years at Drake University in Des Moines, IA together before I left. I loved my time at Drake, but my second year was a challenge. So many of my friends had transferred, I was having a crisis of identity, and I was struggling to figure out what the hell I was doing. If it wasn’t for Rachel, I may not have survived. Thanks Rach.

I’ve heard from a lot of other people who say they’re going to send something, and I love that so many people have really embraced this idea. We weren’t sure how it would be received, but if everyone follows through who says they will, this will be a really cool project.

Again, if you’d like to contribute, let us know and we’ll get you the info you need.

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After writing this sentence the other day — “Rather than a shower for the women only (god I hate that!), we’re going to host a family meet n’ greet slash shower.” — I thought maybe I should clarify the hatred part.

I don’t hate showers. I think they’re a nice way to support people going through big life changes like marriage or babies. But I hate the culture that requires women to carry the burden of this tradition. In most cases, I’d assume, the man in the situation is equally excited to be getting married or having a baby. Not all, but most. Yet he rarely gets to be part of the celebratory showers. The woman only gets showered with gifts like hand mixers and pacifiers, and granted, the man probably benefits from these gifts, but he isn’t part of the actual receiving.

Which means, of course, that it’s the women who give the gifts and throw the showers. And let’s face it, all those showers add up and it can be a burden. There, I said it. I love you and I want to buy you gifts and throw you parties, but it’s hard! Last year I had so many wedding and baby showers, I nearly went broke!  I wanted all those people to have all those things, that’s not the point. The point is that, where are all the men in this! They’re getting married too! They’re having the baby too! Why aren’t the men at these parties? Why aren’t all the male friends and relatives helping out with planning and paying?

Since Mike and I are both getting married, I want us both to enjoy the pre-wedding celebrations. And I want our male friends and relatives to celebrate with us. And I know, I KNOW!, it’s a lot of work to put on these parties, so I don’t want it all to fall to my girls. In fact, we’re throwing our own shower (slash meet and greet) with our families. We’ll be planning and paying for much of the party, even though I’m sure many of my relatives will offer to help.

If my friends express any interest in throwing a shower or having a bachelorette party, I’m all for it. But I don’t expect it, and if it comes up, I will do my best to take some of the burden off them. I can help plan, buy supplies, etc. And I’d be fine with a “girls only” get-together, too, if that’s what they prefer.

I don’t hate showers, and I’ve participated in my fair share. I just don’t want to be responible for putting anybody out, and I don’t want anyone to assume they have to do anything for me. Share the burden. Lighten the load. Get rid of the load. Get the men involved. Whatever. We’re throwing a big family get-together because it’s what we want, and beyond that, we have zero expectations.

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My friend Lindsay suggested that we break down the wedding traditions we’ve been detailing in our Wedding Traditions Explained series from our own point of view. We thought it was a good idea, too. So here it is:

Tossing the bouquet and garter
We will not be doing either. In fact, we won’t even be having a bouquet or garter. I might carry something down the aisle, but it will likely not be flowers. So no tossing.

Including bridesmaids and groomsmen
We’re not having either. We decided it was unnecessary and it would save us some time, stress and money to forgo a wedding party altogether.

Giving away the bride
For awhile I thought if anyone was going to walk me down the aisle, it would be both of my parents, not just my dad. But then I decided the whole escorting down the aisle thing was silly. At least for me. Mike and I will be walking in solo and leaving together. Symbolic eh?

Bridal veil
Skipping it. I’ll wear the pretty lace hair adornment that my friend Katie bought me, and that’s it.

Wedding rings
We will have wedding rings. I like the symbolism here. We both had engagement rings, and we’ll both have wedding bands. And we both split the cost on all four.

No final decisions, but I don’t think there will be flowers. Other decorations, yes. Flowers, probably not. No real reason, except we want our decorations to be fun, simple and sort of whimsical, and other ideas seem to work better than flowers.

Bride on groom’s left
We’re not sure yet what we’re doing with placement. We’re not having “sides” because my family is so much bigger than his, so we just want people to sit wherever. I think which side we stand on will depend on what looks and feels right. When we were in the backyard once, getting an idea of how things would be, it seemed like one side was sloped a little more than the other. Being 15 inches shorter than Mike, it makes sense for me to not stand downhill from him.

Wedding cake
No cake. But we will have an ice cream bar and a cupcake bar! Aw yeah.

Something Old…
I will have something old (dress, shoes), and something new (hair piece, rings), and something borrowed (earrings), and maybe even something blue by then, who knows. But none of it is to fulfill the ‘requirements’ of this old saying.

The “wedding”
Yes we’re having a wedding, but there is no purchasing of brides or whatever.

White dress
Nope. It’s green and ivory.

First kiss
Yes we will be having a first kiss. Except we’re trying to think of a good alternative to “you may kiss the bride.” Maybe something like, “You may now take your first kiss as a married couple.” Or something. Thoughts?

Carrying the bride across threshold
Um no. There will be no carrying of the bride over anything.

The honeymoon
Yes yes yes! We’re on a serious budget for the wedding so that we can have enough money for a honeymoon. Nothing fancy though. We’re thinking maybe a short cruise or something. But we definitely want to get away after the wedding.

Bridal shower and bachelor party
Rather than a shower for the women only (god I hate that!), we’re going to host a family meet n’ greet slash shower. Basically we want our families to meet before the wedding, so we’re going to host our own big get-together, and instead of having separate showers, the meet n’ greet can second as one. Then I guess it will be up to our friends if there are any other showers or bachelor(ette) parties. No expectations there.

Wedding march
This relates to our aisle walk above. No wedding march. And as we explained awhile ago, there will be no music either.

Taking hands during the ceremony
I’m sure we’ll hold hands at some point. Right hand to right hand though? That seems a lot like a handshake…

We haven’t given this much thought actually. Maybe? But our reception is going to be more like a casual backyard party, and formal toasts might seem awkward. Or not. I’m not really sure. I have a feeling unless someone speaks up strongly about wanting to do a toast, we’ll probably skip this tradition.

Throwing rice
Definitely not. We won’t be departing in any big fashion, and in fact we’ll probably be staying later than most of the guests in order to clean up. So rice throwing or bubbles or sparklers… pretty obsolete.

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