Archive for the ‘Wedding’ Category

Our first anniversary was over two months ago. I’ve been waiting to write this post because we totally failed at anniversary-ness, and I was hoping someday we’d catch up with ourselves before I had to tell you how much we sucked at it.

When we got married, we started a tradition that involved a Love Letter Box. Basically we wrote letters to each other prior to the wedding, and we put them in a box that my dad built and nailed shut. We were going to read them on our anniversary, and then write new letters to each other and add them to the box. And repeat, repeat, repeat every year until we die.

Well guess what.

Our anniversary was June 12, today is September 8, and we still have not read those letters. We haven’t written new letters. We haven’t even opened the damn box. I don’t even know where the box is! Wait, not true, I do know where it is. But still, we so suck.

Part of the problem is we’re just not really romantic-y people, but the rest of it is that we’ve been so busy this summer that despite saying many times “let’s do our letters this weekend,” we never did it. We may be rock stars at pre-marital counseling, but we apparently suck at anniversaries.

We did manage to get each other gifts though, although mine ended up being a bit of a disaster. We’re not big on gifts around here, but we thought it would be fun to follow the traditional anniversary gifts list, so this year was paper. Mike bought me a blank journal, and he managed to give it to me on time (foreshadowing for my gift disaster)!

[Imagine a photo of said journal here. I can’t find the pic I took!]

I had this brilliant idea to get Mike something to remind him (us) of our Europe trip, which was, in part, an anniversary celebration even though it took place a month early. So I found birdAve, an etsy seller that made city prints like this one:

I ordered one for all three cities we visited: London, Paris, Lucerne, Venice, Florence, Rome. I got to customize them as much as I wanted — I dictated what landmarks or symbols I wanted on some cities, and I selected bright, bold colors for the backgrounds.

Now I fully admit that I didn’t order these until the day before our anniversary (oopsies!), and I was ok with receiving them a little late. But there was a shipping snafu (not my fault, nor the seller’s) and after weeks of waiting, still no prints. BirdAve was spectacular and sent me another set of prints as soon as I asked him to, and he even included a bonus print of our little town. Cute! Anyway, that’s the disaster, his gift took weeks to arrive. Not a really a disaster I guess. But then when I gave them to Mike, who had eagerly anticipated this gift for weeks, he opened them and goes, “Oh cool. What do I do with them?” What do you do with them? HANG THEM UP! So yeah, that’s what I get for trying to be all romantical.

Anyway, our real gift to each other was our Europe trip in May, so these paper things were just tokens. And we haven’t done our Love Letter Box yet, but who cares? We’ll get to it. As for what we did on our actual anniversary day? We hung out with family at my dad’s house. It took us a minute to realize that we were at the location of our wedding on our anniversary, because we’re at my dad’s all the time, and it didn’t occur to us as anything special at first. But that’s precisely why we got married there, because it’s a place we love to be.

My stepmom snapped this picture of us reading in the sun in the exact spot we exchanged vows a  year earlier:

The day of our wedding was hot and horribly muggy, but the day of our anniversary was quite lovely. It really was a good day. Happy anniversary darlin’!

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My friend Erica, of Photography by Arika Reed, the photographer at our wedding, is having a wedding contest. It’s a pretty sweet deal, so if you’re looking for someone great for an upcoming wedding, you should check it out. She did an amazing job at our wedding, and I’m in love with the photos we have from that day. Mike and I both highly recommend her, so get your entry in before the deadline! Also, if you don’t have an upcoming wedding, but know someone who does, spread the word. She’s willing to travel.

Photography by Arika Reed

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Did we ever tell you that we were rock stars at premarital counseling? We were pretty much star students, the valedictorians of premarital counseling, as Dooce might say. Before our first appointment, we were given an assessment to take separately. It was supposed to tell the counselor what areas we needed to work on, where we were strong already, etc.

At our first meeting with the counselor, she was looking over our results and basically told us we had no weak areas. The whole time, she seemed to be grasping at straws for advice on how we can improve our relationship. Now I don’t know how accurate or effective those assessments are, but even in our conversations with her, she kept stumbling, like she didn’t know where to go next. And she kept repeating, “you’re very strong in that area” or “you don’t seem to need any improvement in this area.” There were a few issues that came out in our discussion, but nothing we weren’t fully aware of already (like the fact that I don’t hold back on my feelings, and Mike sometimes does in order to keep the peace).

At the end of each session, our counselor said she normally assigns some sort of homework to her couples — something to help them work and talk through their problem areas. But she admitted she didn’t really have anything to assign us. And at our fourth and final session, after about 10 minutes, she finally gave up. “We don’t really have anything else to go over. You guys are great, so unless you have any questions, I think we’re done.”

Yep, we pretty much rocked that shit. Too bad she totally screwed up our certificate of completion. When it came in the mail, we discovered it said “Mr. and Mrs. Michael M—–.” Clearly she didn’t understand that I was not only keeping my last name, but my first name wasn’t changing either.

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Winner chosen!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the $75 Nordstrom gift card, and thanks again to DesignApparel.com for offering such a great prize! It was fun to read all the ways you’d spend it, but I promise I didn’t use those ideas to pick a winner. I used random.org.

And the nifty random number generator selected…

Drumroll please…

Number 5!

Based on the order in which the comments came in, that means Sarah Wagner is the winner! Which is kind of fun since she’s engaged and getting married soon. Sarah said:

I love Nordstrom (particularly Nordstrom Rack, which we have in GR)! They have great brands and nice clothes. My mother is extremely picky about dresses (she had the hardest time for my brother’s wedding), and it would be nice to check out Nordstrom for dresses and maybe even check out some fantastic shoes! If I wouldn’t spend the gift card on a dress, I would spend it on accessories.

Maybe the Mother of the Bride Dress tool will help your mom find something great. Congratulations Sarah! I’ll contact you soon about claiming your prize.

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It’s a wedding giveaway!

Mike and I were contacted by DesignerApparel.com who asked us to host a contest to give away a $75 gift card to Nordstrom! Of course we said yes – you people deserve something nice for being so awesome.

Though I have to admit that I didn’t use their website when putting together my wedding, I appreciate that they want to offer this gift to our readers! And even though they didn’t ask me to say this, it does seem like a pretty cool way to shop. Here is what they did ask me to say:

DesignerApparel.com has dedicated a tool specifically to help brides–to-be and their mothers find the perfect Mother of the Bride Dresses with brands like Adrianna Papell and Eileen Fisher. For great accessories to complete the outfit, they also have Tory Burch handbags, Cole Haan shoes and more.

Neither my or Mike’s mom bought a dress specifically deemed “Mother of the Bride,” but they both looked quite lovely:

(Me and my mama.)

(Mike’s mom at our photobooth.)

So you want to win a $75 gift card right? Here’s what you do:

1. Leave a comment.
2. Be sure to include your name and email address.
3. In your comment, tell us what you’d love to do with $75 from Nordstrom.
4. Make sure you do 1-3 before this Sunday when I’ll randomly select a winner.

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Two of my sisters had their weddings last year. My sister and I each got married this year. Four sisters in less than 12 months. And when all was said and done, my stepmom very aptly observed, “All four weddings were different, but each of you had the perfect wedding for you.” She’s right.

August 22, 2009 – Andrea’s was on the beach and included three flowers girls and a fifteen-person wedding party. She wore a flowing white dress and carried no bouquet; he wore linen pants and a pressed white shirt. They were both barefoot and walked down the aisle (or sandy path) together. The reception was on the deck of a lake house with food catered by a family friend.

September 26, 2009 – Kelli’s was in the groom’s mother’s backyard and did not include any wedding party. She wore a short black and zebra-print dress with zebra-print flats and no bouquet; he wore a red shirt, grey pants and black shoes. The couple walked down their aisle (or driveway) together. The reception was in the backyard with hamburgers, hot dogs and food made by the couple’s family.

June 12, 2010 – My wedding was in early summer in my dad’s large and lush backyard with 40 guests. We had no wedding party and we talked down the aisle separately (and left together). I wore a vintage green and ivory dress with no bouquet, and Mike wore long pants, a dress shirt and casual jacket. The reception was in the same backyard with 60 guests and food made by friends and family.

July 17, 2010 – Emily’s was a summer wedding in her mother-in-law’s backyard with less than fifty guests and no wedding party. My dad walked her down the aisle (and was forced to wear a tie!). She wore a gorgeous, modern, white dress and carried a colorful bouquet. He wore a grey suit and boutteniere. The reception was much larger and included extended family and friends, in a rented hall.

All different. All perfect!

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When we first got engaged, Mike and I determined our budget to be $2,000. My dad and stepmom provided all of the beverages and most of the food, and a few others contributed food as well. We borrowed as much as we could, and bought cheap on everything else. We also decided to include our Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower in that budget, so we had to get creative about how to keep our estimated budget at $2,000. In the end, our total estimated budget was $1,985 but our total expenditures were only $1,488.63. Pretty damn good I’d say!

Throughout the last year we’ve detailed how we saved money on everything from my dress to decorations to invitations. But here’s how the budget actually broke down:

Item                          Proposed      Actual
White Knot donation       10                   10
Gifts                               40                  41

Save-the-date                  0                    0              (electronic)
Invitations (+postage)   75                  56.3         (design & printing by friend)
Marriage license             20                  23

Dress                             50                   50             (vintage from Etsy)
Alterations                     0                      0             (fixed a small tear myself)
Shoes                           40                    40             (vintage from Etsy)
Hair piece                      25                      0              (gift from friend)
Jewelry                          0                      0              (borrowed from mom)
Makeup                         0                      0              (did it myself)
Hair                               0                      0              (done by my sister)
Mani/pedi                     0                     0               (did it myself)
Bra/underwear              0                     25             (bought slip)

Something to carry      30                     0              (decided against it)

Pants                              0                     0              (wore pre-owned pants)
Shirt                             50                   25              (JCPenney)
Shoes                             0                     0               (wore pre-owned shoes)
Jacket                         100                 100             (JCPenney)

Chairs                            0                     0             (borrowed folding chairs)
Location                        0                     0             (at my dad’s)
Officiant                        0                     0             (my sister officiated)
Photographer               375                 375             (hired a friend)
Wedding bands            350                355             (Rogers & Hollands)
Love Letter Box               0                    0             (hand made by my dad)
Unity Quilt                    30                  34.53        (for back fabric and tie string)

Decorations                 150                133.11
Food                            100                 20              (we had a lot donated)
Beverages                     20                   0               (for water we didn’t buy)
Tables                          150                   0               (borrowed instead of rented)
Chairs                             0                   0
Plates/cups/cutlery        75                 41.25          (all plastic and paper)
Music                              0                   0               (used an iPod and iHome)
Favors                          75                  91
Photo booth                 50                   0

Room rental                 50                  0                (used Mike’s mom’s work)
Food                           50                36.35           (had a lot donated)
Decorations                 20                20.85
Invitations (+postage) 30               25.84            (Snapfish)
Thank you cards            0                 0                  (used some I had on hand)
Postage                        10                 7.84

Thank you cards            0                 0                   (used some I had on hand)
Postage                       20               15.4

TOTAL                    1,985       1,488.63

(Sorry if that’s a big effing mess – I’m too lazy to figure out how to make a table.)

We kept track of all of this in a Google Doc. On one sheet, everytime we bought something we wrote it in and categorized it (decorations, food, favors, etc). Then when everything was purchased in a category, we added up the total and put it in the second sheet that had our master budget. Using some Excel-like magic, Google added everything up for us as we went.

A wedding for under $2,000? Actually, under $1,500! I can live with that. Especially because it was an incredibly awesome wedding!

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Asking my friend Erica to photograph our wedding was one of the best decisions we made. She did a spectacular job and we love all the photos she captured. As I’ve said before, we bought her a ticket to Michigan from California (where she moved several months before the wedding), and that was it! $375 and done. Erica had just started Photography by Arika Reed, and we were excited to be her first official wedding. And let me tell you, she worked her ass off! Even when we needed to sit down and take a break, she was darting around with her camera. She caught so many moments that I didn’t even know she was catching! Truly, Erica, you were awesome.

You should head over to her website, and check out the blog post dedicated to our wedding. And if you want to see the whole online gallery, let me know and I’ll get you the password.

I’ve shown off her photos all throughout the recapping of the wedding, but I also wanted to share some of my favorites. The first are from the time she spent with just me and Mike doing the “couple” photos.

First of all, this one is going on the wall (yes I know I showed it already):

Please look at how much this man loves me:

Man we’re cute!

This is from when Mike and I were taking a moment to soak it all in. She caught us:

And come on, just aww!

LOVE this one, too:

And now, here are some of my favorite “detail” shots:

And now a few other photos I’m crazy about…

This is my little Scarlet before she was born:

My little brother Cam is a chatty one!

My Brady Boy:

Me with mom and the sisters:

And here are some of Mike, one with his bro, and one of him being so cute!

Ok really, you should just go check them all out over here.

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By about 8ish, about a third of our guests had left already. The only survivor from Mike’s family was his mom, all of my grandparents and all but one of my aunts/uncles had left, as well as a few friends. But it was about that point that Mike and I got to sit down and enjoy. Sort of. Seemed like every few minutes we were called away for something, but we did get to sit and relax a little.

I gathered up some friends and we had a little pow wow in the yard, talking and laughing. But by a little after 9, most of those people had left, too, and it was down to the precious few, the real troopers. This included my dad, stepmom and their young kids, all but one of my siblings and their kids and spouses, Mike’s mom, my (always true) friend Jessica and her boyfriend, and my dear Aunt Mary.

Our photographer was gone by then, too, so I don’t have any really awesome pictures from this part of the night. Just amateur ones from others’ cameras, like the ones above. This time on the deck was the first time we really chilled. Everyone was drinking and chatting, and we ended up playing some silly games, like “name the movie” and whatnot. It was nice to look around and see the people who were really there for us. These were our peeps.

After it got dark, several other people took off, and the stragglers encouraged us to open our gifts. We were hesitant, because um, awkward. I hate having an audience for such things. But they thought it would be fun, so we played along.

The kids were very eager to deliver the gifts to us from the gift table, so we arranged a little system. They each brought us a gift, one at a time, and then they took the previously opened gift back to the table with them. You’d think they might get bored with this, but gift after shiny gift, they waited their turn.

Only Kyron needed a little extra entertaining at one point, and he took care of that all by himself.

My sister Emily entertained herself, as well, by taking pictures like this one on my camera.

After gifts, we had a feeding frenzy in the kitchen. All of a sudden there were 8 people crowded in there making tacos and sundaes and eating cupcakes. I scarfed down a few tacos myself, and I swear to god those were best tacos I ever had. After a long, tiring and exhilarating day, I could have eaten 15.

Then someone started a bonfire outside. By then it was after 11, and Mike and I were beat. The hardcores in my family were ready to party some more, but we had to peace out around midnight. Even the kids were still awake when we left!

We packed up most of our gifts, but left a big mess at my dad’s house. Thank god my parents were cool about cleaning up after us even after everything they had already done. It was a long drive from the middle of nowhere (dad’s house) to our hotel downtown, but it was worth it. We got a killer deal on a suite at one of the nice hotels in the city, and as soon as we got there, we crashed on the plush king-sized bed.

And that was it. Our wedding day. Pretty fucking awesome if you ask me.

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One thing I will always remember about our wedding was how EFFING HOT it was! I couldn’t be more grateful though because there was a threat of rain, and hot thick sticky air is better than rain any wedding day. I tried to encourage people to dress comfortably, but several men had long pants or shirts on, and I just wanted to hand them a pair of scissors to remedy the situation. I was pretty steamy in my slip and long dress myself, and Mike kept his pants and long-sleeved shirt on the whole time. But, again, thankful for the heat given the alternative!

Anyway, while we were busy with photos, the rest of the crew was enjoying themselves. Everyone was eating and drinking and chatting. They were entertaining themselves with our homemade cootie catchers and pinwheels…

…and enjoying our candy-licious favors and decor.

(Although, we had a hard time getting rid of the candy favors. What the! Those things were awesome. Eventually someone walked around and handed the damn things out. Same thing happened recently at my sister’s wedding. My advice to future brides: favors are a waste of time and money.)

They were also busy at the photo booth, which I already talked about. And then! Then! We busted out the pinata. Aw yeah. Mike’s brother Brian helped the dads hang it up.

While we waited for the photographer to stop screwing around (kidding!), we screwed around a little bit.

Then we took a few swings together. In place of a first dance, we did a first pinata whack.

Then we turned it over to the kids who were, oh my gosh, SO excited they could hardly wait their turn.

Once all the little ones had a few swings, I looked to the adults. Brian was the first to volunteer, and turns out, the last.

With one whack, he sent that thing flying off the tree. And the kids, of course, went crazy. I have to admit, it was kind of crappy candy, cheap stuff from the bulk section, but they didn’t care. It’s CANDY and it’s FLYING EVERYWHERE!

Speaking of kids, I’m so glad we kept the kid quota small. It wasn’t a vicious thing, but kids tend to dominate a party. All the kids at the wedding were “my” kids, my family. So instead of being overwhelming, it was family. It was fun. And it was just the right amount of people in general. I am so so so glad we didn’t let the guest list get out of control. I hear all the time that peoples’ guest lists get away from them, but we managed to always keep it reined in, and all I can say is PHEW!

On that same note, I pointed out to someone recently that Mike and I managed to have exactly the wedding we said we were going to have. We always stayed true to our vision, and we weren’t influenced by any internal or external forces. The wedding we pictured a year ago is the wedding we had on June 12. I’m really proud that we weren’t sucked into the wedding industry—we didn’t go over our budget, we didn’t enlarge our guest list, we didn’t get caught up in unnecessary details. I don’t think that’s always easy to do, so kudos to us babe!

(I love this picture and don’t know where else to put it, so here is as good as any place.)

Like they all say, the whole thing went pretty fast, but honestly, not too fast. From start to finish, it was only about 8 hours of our lives. A work day. That’s it. So of course it’s going to go fast, especially given all the work you put into it. But we made a point to pause and soak it all in several times, and that helped us to slow down and enjoy it. We watched it all happen, but we also participated fully. That’s the way to do it.

Luckily my sister, the officiant, was on top of things, otherwise we may never have made it official. She called us into the house at one point to sign the marriage license.

I had my sister Andrea sign as my witness (Emily signed hers, and I signed Emily’s. Kelli had a friend sign for her.), and Mike asked his mom.

As soon as we had gotten all the shots we wanted, I ran off to change. I was actually in my dress for many hours when all was said and done, but I was ready to get out of it. It was HOT! And I really had no problem with this. I got my fifty bucks worth, and then I changed into a short green sundress and flip flops.

Actually the flip flops replaced my gorgeous boudoir slippers almost right away.

I’m in the green, and the rest of the feet belong to my mom and sisters. Can you guess who’s who?

Next I’m going to tell you about the after party!

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