Thursday, July 30, 2009

It is Wednesday, so I am drinking water.

Here and there, Bees have posted about their bridal weight-loss strategies. From bridal boot camp, to cleanses, to Miss Lab's mind-blowing weight training how-to, there are all sorts of approaches a girl can take.

I would just like to weigh in (har har) myself: I don't really plan to diet for my wedding, for two reasons:

1) I am worried that if I lost a lot of weight for the wedding, when I gain it back, people will look at my pictures and be like, "Oh, you were so skinny. Then."
2) In 2004 I lost about 15 pounds through a combination of serious (and unhealthy) calorie restriction, getting a dog and walking a lot, not going out as much because I was all-consumed with grad school. I lost the weight in four months, and it did take about 2 years to gain it back, but gain it back I did. And the feeling was crappy.

I know why I lost weight, and I know that the calorie-restriction was not sustainable. I feel like if I were to diet for my wedding, I would probably choose a method that was not sustainable, and then feel like crap when the pounds creep back on.

However, I would like to take off a few before the wedding. And I would definitely like to at least not put on any more! Between turning 30 (serious metabolism shift) and co-habitating with someone who loves pizza and ice cream, I am at my highest weight ever right now. I'd like to get get back to what I consider my regular, ok, maintainable weight. Not my skinny weight.

So this is my strategy:

1) No more drinking on any night but Friday and Saturday. This is a tough one for me. And it also forces me to give some thought to my feelings about alcohol. Today, for instance, I had a day at work that I would describe as "banana splits," meaning it was totally bananas. I really wanted a glass of wine. But no! No drinking on weeknights is occasionally difficult, but something that I largely feel the benefits of, and not just calorically (is that a word?). I can definitely maintain this after the wedding.

2) I started a new fulltime job. In grad school, I worked in the morning and studied in the afternon. That means a lot of sitting around! Now, I work full time and chose to use the printer that is 20 feet away. I am up and about every few minutes and I think it is really good for me.

3) I am trying to be more mindful when I eat. G. and I both tend to wolf down our food. I am alarmed how often we eat our dinners in less than 10 minutes. Lately, I have been trying to cut smaller bites and eat slowly. This makes me feel more like a lady, too!

Believe it or not, these things have actually done well for me. I have lost about 5 lbs and am feeling good. Considering they're not huge steps, I think 5 lbs is quite respectable.

Is anyone out there making small changes that are probably better for you overall?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


If one more person sends me this video ... I think I am going to scream!

It started on Facebook, people sent it to me, "Hey! Did you and G. ever think about this?;)"

Again and again and again. And then, in true fashion, my mom sent it to be about a week after the phenomenon hit the internet (or Good Morning America, where I also saw it). I don't want to sound cranky, I know people are well-intentioned and just making a joke. Hey, I like jokes! A lot!

But it makes me wonder: why is there this insidious competition happening among couples getting married, where it's as if your wedding is really the best wedding ever!!!! only if it is Youtube-worthy.

At our college, the theater majors were known as "dramaramas," which was not exactly a compliment. It had nothing to do with the theater, everyone liked that! It was that the actors at our school had a general tendency towards performance and attention-seeking all the time, not just on stage.

G. and I are not dramaramas. We are quiet, kind of shy. We feel uncomfortable with the idea of performing for our guests, or like they are secretly hoping we'll do something funny and awesome and get 11 million hits on Youtube.

We just want to get married. I don't want to overthink this, and I do think the video is funny. But doesn't it kind of seem like weddings are starting to become more of a performance or media event? It's exhausting!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

corsage alternative


Here is what I need from you: my mom and I were discussing corsages. She was all, "I don't want one, but G.'s mother should definitely have one." I didn't really understand why she said that, but let it go. Several months later I told her that I wanted both mothers to wear a corsage. This is not because I am trying to be controlling or make everyone match (everyone in the wedding gets to choose whatever they want to wear) but because I like how corsages and boutonnieres make the immediate family and wedding party stand out. If people don't know my mom or G.'s mom, they can be like, "Oh, that lady with the corsage!" I think it is a nice honor.

It turns out my mom doesn't want a traditional corsage though, so I realized that at first she was just trying to get out of wearing one. I want her to wear one, but don't want to make her uncomfortable, so I am not sure what to do. I am pretty sure she doesn't want anything on her wrist (a little too homecoming queen).

I bet there is something awesome on Etsy, but I don't know what or how to look. (Searching on Etsy overwhelms me sometimes. I find I have to surf with my wallet across the room so I don't buy everything I click on.) Do you guys have any good ideas for mom corsage alternatives?

OMG so excited

People keep asking me if I am "excited" for our wedding. Until today, I wasn't exactly sure how to answer that. Last weekend, we went to the third of four weddings we'll be going to this year. The fourth will be our own! While we were anticipating and attending these other weddings, I really didn't feel like I wanted to talk about mine, because I didn't want to distract from the weddings that were actually happening. People would say things (all the time) like "you're next!" (nudge, nudge!) and I'd be like "yeah, but..." just wanting to concentrate on where we were that day. Not thinking ahead to us. Basically, I didn't want to be all about my wedding while we were celebrating someone else's.

Last night we saw our friends P. and S. (of the wedding with the bus debacle that should never be mentioned again, but surely will, again and again). They just returned from their honeymoon the other day. Now I feel like everyone's married, honeymooned, returned, and our friends are turning their attention to us. It is actually kind of exciting to talk about the wedding and not feel that I am detracting from another bride who's making 600 tissue paper puffballs for next week.

I also feel like it is becoming more real. It seems less and less like some abstract thing that's going to happen in the distant future. Today we took G.'s parents and sister to the Metropolitan Building to check it out, because they had not yet been. G.'s mom wanted us to get married in their family church, and has taken some time to warm up to the idea that we're doing our own thing, so to speak. We spent awhile looking at the space, talking about decorations, and asking Carlos (who really runs the show at the Met Building) all sorts of questions.

Luckily, G.'s mom has very similar taste to me and my mom, so I am happy to incorporate her suggestions. She is a big fan of Michaels, as am I. She has a snowflake-shaped hole punch, so we decided we'll make paper snowflakes to sprinkle on the tables. Awesome.

Then we took a trip to the Ravel Hotel, which is this new and super chic hotel in a quite improbable section of Long Island City. We took a look around there, and were super-psyched about the awesomeness of it, not to mention the (totally great-for-NYC) room rate they gave us.

Now that our friends' 2009 weddings have happened, and all parents have seen the Met Building and started thinking of ways to make it even more awesome, this really seems real.

When did things start to seem real for you? Or did they always?

PS - Thanks to Miss Sunbeam for posting her Etsy loves. Thanks to her, I am afraid I am going to be $300 in the hole for this gorgeous knitted shawl. I don't want to wear a winter coat over my wedding dress, but a girl does need a little something in December, right? (I plan to get dressed at the hotel and drive over to the ceremony.) I haven't decided whether I'll buy this or not, but damn, it's nice!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

style me...similar

I have some anxiety about individuality. When I was in high school, my sense of self was directly -- and militantly -- linked to the kind of clothes I wore, the kind of music I listened to, and the kind of people I hung out with. This is the case for lots of high school kids, I know. It is the essence of high school! And like most people, I discovered when I went to college and generally wised up that this approach is really limiting. I also realized that it is totally exhausting.

I felt all this pressure to express myself through my clothes and accessories, especially. If I were to categorize myself in a nutshell (which, let's face it, is also what high school's all about), I was one of those early 90s girls who wore combat boots, black eyeliner, dyed my hair red, was super into Courtney Love, Jane's Addiction and Nirvana. I hung around with people who threw around terrible words like "poser." God, it was tedious!

Ever since then, I have really resisted expressing myself through anything but my personality. I am not a particularly avant-garde dresser: I like to look cute, but I am not pushing the envelope. I shop at chain stores, cuz that's where the sales are.

And while most 31-year-olds have graduated high school, in some senses I have not, because I work in SoHo. For those of you outside of New York City, Soho is like high school all over again, except instead of cheerleaders you have models (everywhere!) you have dandy men, fashion people, media people, rich people, who are definitely thin, fabulous, original, avant-garde, exotic... and all checking each other out. Usually I don't give a fig what anyone thinks about how I look, but there are the occasional days (oh, about twice a week) when I have cobbled together my crappiest un-ironed Old Navy outfit from three years ago. And then I see some 16 year old in hot pants with a fabulous tan and just the right haircut and aviator glasses, and I think, "For the love of god, what a-hole invented this neighborhood? And why didn't I have those thighs when I was 16?!"

What does this have to do with weddings?

I have the same kind of anxiety about expressing myself through my wedding. I feel this push-and-pull between creating a wonderful event where we manage to both meaningfully celebrate our love and committment, share this intimacy somehow with 100 people (also in meaningful ways), create a fun event where people have a great time and say to me later "your wedding was so awesome!" And I have details, but not too many details, and things that are planned just enough to reflect my aesthetic (do I have an aesthetic?) but not over-planned, because I am not channeling the opulent bat mitzvahs of my youth.

And then I am like, how do I come up with the ideas to make it just so? And well, one thing I do is read a lot of Weddingbee. The bees are so diverse that I rarely feel like I am reading the same thing over and over again.

But on the other hand, when I read some other wedding blogs (and okay, occasionally on W'bee, not gone lie), I think, how can I have this at my wedding when I have seen this 6,000 other places? Even if it is something I like so much. I still think that.

I guess it comes back to the adage from Offbeat Bride that I already mentioned: your wedding is not a competition. I am not a competitive girl, nor a perfectionist, so I don't think I am really at risk of falling prey to wanting the best, most fabulous, memorable, full-of-firsts wedding. But I also don't one where everyone's all, "Oh, yeah. I saw that on the wedding blogs," or "So-and-so had that at her wedding. Two years ago."

How do you strike a balance? Should I just let go and, you know, que sera sera? Do you guys ever worry about this kind of stuff?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

invitation pre-planning

One DIY project we're doing that I am super excited about is our invitations. G. works as an editor at an independent poetry press in Brooklyn, and one of the great things about that experience is that he learned how to do letterpress.

The "paper" parts of our wedding are definitely his thing. He designed our STDs, with just a little input from me. We chose the paper and the ink colors together, and he took care of the rest. We went one Sunday to the press and letterpressed those babies ourselves. It took about five hours to make about 100 (we have lots of extras). That really brought home for me how much work is involved in letterpress. Oh -- that's why it's so expensive!

G. is in grad school (in addition to working full-time) so we really want to get these invitations done for the most part before labor day. He's not going to have much time to ruminate on projects once classes get cooking.

I am psyched about how psyched he is for this project. We both really had a good time making the STDs and it energized us for the invitations. For my part, it made me realize that we need to really think carefully about how much of the suite we want to letterpress, and what could be done on the ole inkjet. (A letterpress map to the wedding would look great, but.....)

I know that G. wants the suite to be a little weird, totally beautiful, and something that people will keep. (I know most brides want the invitation to be something people keep, but I am impressed that he, as the groom, does. To be honest, and I kind of hate to admit this, but the only wedding invitations we've ever kept are the ones we put in our scrapbook of romance. Isn't that terrible? Argh. Sorry.)

Anyhow, I can't wait to see what he comes up with. I am especially curious because he doesn't read wedding blogs and probably isn't as well-versed as I am about what's trendy in wedding invitation design. I think that he'll come up with something totally organically, which is awesome. Also, G. has a hell of an imagination so I expect they will be a little offbeat, too.

Of course, in a way we're two peas in a pod in that respect, because I have asked him repeatedly how we can work a beautiful image of a jellyfish into our design. Why? Why not!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Scrapbook Romance

"Romance" is a big word in our household. I remind G. pretty often that romance is very important. Also, I like to find romance in whatever we do. So if we're filling up the tank, we're having "gas romance." If we're going food shopping, we're having "Pathmark romance."

Usually I am the half of the couple who reminds us when we need romance. I think that it is possible that this concept is a hair more important to me than it is to him. Nevertheless, when G. comes through, he comes through. This past Valentine's Day was major romance with respect to his gift to me.

He gave me a scrapbook! Perhaps this doesn't immediately scream romance to you? The idea, he explained in his card, was that we would document our next year together. Scrapbook romance!

You may remember that we got engaged the day after Valentine's Day. This is definitely a "first day of the rest of your life" kind of day, so documenting the rest of the year after that seemed totally awesome to me. I became even more super excited about scrapbook romance, because it was combined now with engagement romance, which is probably in the top 3 of the best kinds there are.

I am new to scrapbooking. It is not a "thing" here in NYC the way it is in some other places. We have Michael's, but I have heard that in California, for instance, there are entire stores devoted to scrapbooking. I don't really know about this stuff so mine is pretty ham-handed compared to what's out there. That's ok, though.

This is the first page of the scrapbook, from the day we got engaged. There are the two receipts from the entry to the Met, where we got engaged. There is a receipt from the bagel breakfast we had that morning, so I can always remember that I pigged out on bagels with cream cheese and chocolate milk the morning before we got engaged. Then there is the tag you wear on your lapel when you pay for entry to the Met. I also threw in a weird picture that G. found inside a book at the Met book store. It doesn't have anything to do with us, I just thought it was weird and funny. Last are some puffy hearts that I bought on sale at Papyrus. Then I typed out the date in a cool font I found on and presto! First foray into scrapbooking.

(G. likes totally normal fonts and nothing wacky at all, so we'll probably be doing our invitations in Times New Roman. Sigh. So seeing as the scrapbook belongs to me, I am trying out fonts all over the place.)
Here, I got a little more creative with layout. On the left side is some stuff from our 10 year college reunion, which was this past June. (G. and I went to the same small college, and graduated the same year, but we didn't know each other. We met six years after we graduated.)

On the right is a collage of stuff from our very good friends' wedding, which was a week ago. I included their invitation, our escort cards, G.'s groomsman speech (handwritten) and a polaroid that someone took of us at the brunch the next day.

I love scrapbook romance, and I love how creative this gift is. Message to dudes who read Weddingbee and are thinking of proposing (and I am sure there are lots of you): do this! Scrapbook romance. The best gift ever!

Did you get a great "extra" with your engagement?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wedding Blitz

G. and I just got back from our third wedding in four weeks. Man, weddings are exhausting, even if you're just a guest! This one was in VT, and largely outdoors, though there was a rain contingency plan. Luckily, there was no rain!

I am not sure that I learned very much from this wedding, as it was a rural, outdoor, summer wedding, and we're having an indoor, nighttime, urban wedding.

One thing I did learn, however, was to definitely play "Like a Prayer." The DJ was awesome, and the crowd went nuts!

Here are some details that I particularly loved:
1.) The bride wore a 1930s slip that she had converted into a dress, and it was absolutely exquisite!
2.) For the reception, she changed into a 1950s prom dress (lots of tulle!) that had a baby blue crinoline. Best of all, were her baby blue, patent leather Vivienne Westwood slingbacks that were named after her!
3) The bride and groom made a last minute change to their first dance selection: the original pick of a Beatles song was replaced by Jackson 5 "I'll Be There." Very timely, and I may have shed a tear. (I also love the Mariah Carey version.)
4.) The ceremony music was bluegrass. Loved it!
5.) The bride didn't decide a thing about her hair and makeup beforehand -- an irony that I love as her career is with women's magazines. She tried a few things before the ceremony, picked what she liked, and it was done. I really admire that relaxed approach. She looked relaxed! And lovely.
6.) She made excellent use of "friendors." The photographer was a friend from college. The photographer also doubled as the hair and makeup artist... having learned a few tricks of the trade from YouTube tutorials!

All in all, it was a lovely weekend. Are any of you in a wedding blitz this summer?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We've been living together for three years now, the jig is up!

I am borrowing my veil from my friend R. I am excited about this for two reasons!

First, although I am not really going to be consciously doing the "something old, new, borrowed, blue," business, I love having something borrowed. I love the idea that with the veil on my head, I'll have R. with me (though she'll be attending the wedding too, of course) and when I look at the pictures later, I'll be able to think "That Rosemary! What a doll she was to lend me her veil!"

Rosemary got married last November in Austin and had a fantastic wedding with a parade of guests who walked from the church to the reception, followed by a mariachi band. Anyhow, her wedding was more formal than mine, so she had a cathedral length veil that she wore for the ceremony. For the reception, she changed into a shorter veil, that I semi-captured in this photograph.

Sorry it's so dark. Anyhow, I like the veil because it's short and cheerful looking, and very sheer. I thought she looked lovely in it and I hope I will too.

The other reason I am excited is because it put the kibbash on an argument my mom and I were having. At first, I didn't want to wear a veil. Then she said it was really important to her, so I was like, fine, I am not picking this battle. So I agreed, and we started looking online.

THEN she said she wanted me to wear a veil with a blusher, and I put my foot down on that. Her argument was that it makes brides look so pretty. I totally agree, it does look pretty. But I'll look pretty anyway, I'm the bride!

My problem with it -- and I want to be very clear that this is only a problem for me and has nothing to do with the choices any of you make -- is kind of political. The blusher just reminds me of the dowry, of the times back when a bride was expected to be a virgin. I just feel that with a blusher I'll be like some present for my man to unwrap, and it just makes me really uncomfortable. I am wearing a white dress, just because I like my dress and it is white, and white wedding dresses are easier to find. (I did consider pink, which is what my mom wore. By the time I was done trying on though, I was too tired to investigate whether my dress came in pink, so white it is.) I just feel like the veil over the face goes to a place I don't want to go.

So borrowing R.'s veil is nice because it is hers, and I love her, but also because it shut down the argument with my mother about the veil over the face. Done and done!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

whose day?

There is one thing that I hear all the time from people:
it's YOUR wedding! you can make it what you want!

But the reality seems to be that this is not "my" our even "our" wedding. This is a family wedding. I think the idea is nice that I have this one special day when I can really go crazy and have all this great stuff just as I want it. But that's not the reality. We have a lot of voices in our ears, not the least of which are both sets of parents. Even the Best Man (who was a bit of a groomzilla himself) has opinions. I don't want to do this all me-me-me, but on the other hand, it gets exhausting trying to please everyone. Or at least pacify them!

I know that idea of "pleasing everyone" is a wedding cliche at this point. But if that's true, why does everyone tell me it's my day? It's totally not. Which is fine, but let's call it what it is, right?

Do any of you guys there feel like there are some serious contradictions going on here?

"Like my homey D.O.C. - no one can do it better"

The acronym D.O.C. always reminds me of "Nuthin but a G Thang" from Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Anyone out there remember? Anyone? Anyhow. Yeah. Nothing to do with day-of-coordinators, but in a Pavlovian way, that line always pops into my head when people talk about the D.O.C. Which they have done a lot lately! So I'll weigh in, since we are taking a little bit of a different, dare I say experimental route.

We're neither having one nor not-having one. What we're doing is asking our friend C., who is an attorney by day and a four-year-married-but-still-wedding-obsessed-wannabe-planner by night. So! At first I didn't really "get" the D.O.C. thing. I thought they were for people who were more control-freaky and less careful with their money than me. Foolish, I know. I have learned the error of my ways.

But I still wasn't sure I wanted to pay for one. My folks and I had already worked out a budget, and this just wasn't really in it.

On the other hand, my mom -- who is super Type A -- has been going gangbusters this whole time. I was beginning to imagine her totally blowing a fuse on the day-of, trying to get everything coordinated.

I suggested to her the idea of asking C. to do it, and paying her a small fee (basically enough for a nice dinner out with her husband). My mom was really relieved and totally into it.

We wouldn't ask C. to do all the things that D.O.C.s do, like checking in with vendors and stuff. But I figured that since catering comes with the venue, and we're probably not hiring a DJ, and we're on the fence about a florist, we don't have so, so many vendors. I do need someone, however, to tell the musicians when to play, when I should walk, when toasts need to start (since we're not having a DJ), to make sure the ushers know what's going on, to keep my mom sane, all that.

I knew G. would be nervous about this idea and think we were imposing on a friend who expected to be a guest. But I have learned that people want to help. Especially people who are obsessed with weddings! When I asked C., she accepted before I even got the whole question out. I assured her that she would still be a guest and we'd end her duties ASAP once things got cooking. She didn't care, she was on board!

So, we'll see. Maybe I'll be able to convince C. to quit her dayjob and then I can be her first reference and all of y'all can hire her!

Monday, July 13, 2009

my bridal style. sigh.

One of the first wedding blogs I looked at regularly was Offbeat Bride. I really like the motto of the site's creator Ariel: your wedding is not a competition. My main motto is it's a celebration, not an event, but I really respond to the competition idea, too.

When I was in middle school, I went to a lot of really, really opulent and pull-out-the-stops bar mitzvahs (as well as a couple totally nice and tasteful ones). These were my first introduction to celebratory events where there is a ceremonial component and a celebratory component. I wish Ariel was there to counsel these parents, but she was probably also in middle school at the time.

Anyhow, I remember, even at the relatively ding-dong dense age of 12, that some of the solemnity of the ceremony was overshadowed by the gumball-machine favors and karaoke machines. It all seemed kind of desperate and gauche to me. (No, I did not use words like gauche when I was 12.)

Planning my wedding now, I am trying to strike a balance between
a) having a fun and memorable and wonderful and awesome wedding
b) resisting the desire to "entertain" my guests

I want my wedding to stand out, but I don't want my wedding to stand out. I want it to be special, but I want it to be special because it's me and G. (hello, ego), not because we busted our asses trying to think up the most clever party tricks. I don't want to feel like a dog and pony show. I don't want to feel like our wedding will only be awesome with a photobooth. I don't want to verge on tacky, 1990 bar mitzvah territory.

Anyone else out there feel me on this? Do you feel pressure to "entertain" your guests?

Re-enter Xanax

So we went to this totally great wedding on Long Island, the one which I refuse to let be identified as the Bus Mishap Wedding, but just to refresh your memory: yeah, that one.

The wedding was July 11th, and the next morning, July 12th, the bride's mother oh-so casually was like, "Oh, so you guys are five months out, to the day! December 12th, right!?"

SHIT! Can I say that in front of a bride's mother? Can I say that on Weddingbee?

Neither G. nor I had really been paying attention. We got engaged in February, when there were three whole seasons between us and matrimony. Now we are five months out.

We went on with our day, had some good bagels and weird bacon, drove home, whatever. Then at midnight, we were laying in bed, and of course both of our minds started racing with to-do lists. (Why does your mind wait til you're trying to sleep to start racing?)

This is how we have approached the wedding so far: I read Weddingbee every single day, and make mental notes. I deal with the fun stuff, like the dress, shoes, photographer. We deal with the urgent stuff like budgets and guest list. But aside from singlehandedly designing our letterpress STDs, G. has not been suuuuuuper involved.

I guess this "five months" thing got to him. I had a totally bonkers day at work today and was not covering my Gmail with my usual vigilance. I logged on and had three emails from him: one about researching iPod weddings, one about planning the afterparty (priorities!) and one about how he entered into a full-blown panic last night, which I hadn't really noticed.

Wow, all of a sudden he is like, Mr. Wedding. I even went so far as to introduce him to "kvetch" on indiebride, and sent him links to Weddingbee about honeymoon budgets and invitation suites. We have a date later this week to get into super planning mode for the wedding which seems all of a sudden to be around the corner.

What lit a fire under your fiance's ... um.... behind?

Snapping up a photographer - Part II

The following week, after the disappointing meeting with the Lady Photographer, I was excited to meet with Michael Simon. I was glad that G. weighed in and checked my impatience, that we shouldn't hire an expensive photographer we didn't love just because she went to Vassar and was super organized.

We went to Michael's studio, and had a nice talk with him. He was super relaxed, and called us "man," throughout the meeting. Not in a disrespectful way, it was just a habit of his to punctuate his conversation with "man." Man, I can totally get down with that.

We both loved his vibe. He was totally on the ball, but totally relaxed. I need relaxed people around me. I am anxious at heart, and absorb the nervous energy of anyone around me. I like someone who can manage to seem both perfectly capable but also like he might also at any moment offer you a beer or something. Do you know what I mean?

But it wasn't just his remarkably awesome/laid back demeanor that hooked us (can you see where this is going?). His photographs were totally awesome. No joke. I loved all of them. I have very particular ideas of the kinds of photographs I do and don't want, and especially on the "don't" side, he was totally on board. (Photographer #1 had been like "Are you sure!?" like I was a crazy person when I told her not to bother taking pictures of my shoes.)

He also passed this totally arbitrary test that G. threw out. Recently, we went to visit his grandfather, and we saw a family reunion picture from 1986 (my man had the cutest bowl cut evah!). G. wanted our photographer to recreate this kind of huge group shot on our wedding day, with all the guests. We asked photographer #1 whether she could do this, and she seemed hesitant, doubtful, but then was like "Suuuure...." Not that convincing.

We asked Michael, and he was like "Sure, I'll just have Carlos bring up a ladder." Because he already knows the people who work at the Metropolitan Building. Because he is awesome!

We left the meeting feeling like we would probably end up inviting him to the after party. We acted all cagey, and like, "Oh, well, we'll have to go home and think about this," when really what we did was go out in the street and high-five and wait like 20 seconds after we were home to email him and tell him he was hired.

This was a guy I totally wanted around on our wedding day.

(I was a tiny bit reluctant to post this story because even though I didn't name her, part of me is afraid photog #1 will find this post, know it is about her, and feel bad. I don't want her to feel bad, because she was lovely, totally capable, and a great photographer. She just wasn't a great match for us. Telling the story with the compare-and-contrast is the only way I know how to express how we found the right match for us.)

Snapping up a photographer - Part I

One of the (very few! I swear!) things I researched during that weird, post-Talk, pre-engagement period was our photographer.

Two things -- besides actually getting married surrounded by our loved ones and their dates -- are really important to me in this wedding: the venue, and the photographer.

I looked on and checked out some photographers I found on there. I went through my local issue of The Knot magazine, and bookmarked the websites of photographers I liked from Real Weddings (man, are "real weddings" a great resource or what?). I even did a little snooping around on Craig's List, since I know one of my favorite Bees, Miss Joey, has had great luck with The List (as my mom calls it).

Once we decided to start seriously thinking about the photographer this past June, I went back to some of the stuff I had bookmarked. Some of it I no longer liked. One woman's site I remembered I really liked several months ago, but I was having a devil of a time getting her website to load, so her and her Flash fell to the bottom of the list.

At the top of the list was a young woman who graduated from the same college my fiance and I did. Vassar has a kind of intense alumni connection thing going on, which I can't explain to you, it just is. So, by virtue of the fact that I
a) liked her website
b) she went to Vassar
c) she took lovely photographs,

we made an appointment to meet with her at a hotel bar in Manhattan. Swank!
She arrived in a snappy outfit with her portfolio and a giant umbrella in order to super-protect her stuff from the rain. Prepared, I like that!

She was all business. She took copious notes about us and our vision, asked a lot of questions, talked about her style, showed us a ton of work. I liked how things were going.

Then she showed us the price list. And she was expensive. And she was expensive before the albums, which were doubly, mind-blowingly expensive. My heart sank, and I pretty much wanted to be like, "Ok, well, thanks but no thanks, see ya." But I was polite and pretended like there was still a chance we would hire her.

As we left (after awkward whispering between me and my fiance about whether we were supposed to buy her drinks or whether she would buy ours), I was like, "Superbummer!" And G. was like, "Mmmm.... I didn't actually think her photos were all that great. And some of them seemed like they were great by accident."

Once he said it, I realized I wanted to be blown away. We weren't totally blown away. Especially not for the money. I felt relieved, that we could move on without feeling bad or like we missed an opportunity.

Then I remembered that I had bookmarked the site for a guy who had done a wedding at our venue, on the exact same floor. I was like, "Let's call that guy!" so we decided to make an appointment for the following week, and went home to walk the dog.

Gonna make you up in my love! (Or in Bobbi Brown, whichever)

I've mentioned before that for better or for worse, I am pretty decisive. My fiance has definitely developed a system he uses to see whether my latest impassioned proclamation is something I conjured up 5 minutes ago or 5 months ago.

However, one thing I am really going back and forth on is what to do about my makeup. Part of my indecision relates to budget: can I afford it? Do I care? Should I do it because it's "my day?" Should I be more conscious of sending my budget out the door because it's "my day?"

Here's the deal: I am pretty okay at doing my own hair, but it is definitely a crapshoot how it will look on any given day, and "crapshoot" is not what I am (ahem) shooting for on my wedding day. So I am hiring the girl who usually cuts my hair to do it.*

I feel even more confident with my makeup than I do with my hair. When I spend the time, I really can do my makeup pretty well. I know that I can get myself through the day without looking like either Tilda Swinton (love her! but she could use a little mascara!) or Tammy Faye (may she rest in peace).

But that is in a day-to-day going to work sense. In terms of "event" makeup, I am not so sure. I know I can apply my eyeliner with a steady hand, but do I know which is the perfect eyeliner to use? Can I keep my skin from being shiny? (Becoming shiny is my skin's life's work.) I feel like even though I can do it, maybe I should find someone who can do it better.

On the other hand, another argument on the side of doing it myself is that I know what I want, and it's not that complex. I have two inspiration photos and that's it:

Don't mind the lady in the lingerie. I don't plan on vamping it up. But I do like the swoopy black eyeliner and strong lip (I will be having a pink color though, not red). I supposed it is a classic 50s style that I am going for, kinda Marilyn. (I know, I know, who doesn't want to look "kinda Marilyn" sometimes?)

I don't know. I have been studying up and bookmarking products that I want to use, but I wonder if maybe I should just give in and have someone do it for me. I didn't really budget for it and I don't really know if I can afford it. Did any of you go back and forth on the makeup issue? Does anyone have anything definitive to say to me about it?

*OK, she has only cut my hair once before, but she is really cute and nice and swears she won't make me look like a prom queen. I decided to hire her on the spot, of course!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Enter Xanax

This weekend we went out to Long Island to help celebrate the marriage of our very good friends, P. and S. My fiance was a groomsman, and they are very special to us, so I think we both felt invested in the entire event in a way that neither of us really had at other weddings. Frankly, we were super f'ing excited!

This is the 2nd of three weddings that I'll attend in the time between my engagement and my own wedding. I keep thinking I'll bring along a little notebook or something to jot down ideas, must-dos or must-don'ts (yipes). But I never do, of course, because I am getting ready, late, trying to fit a bunch of crap in a tiny purse and am for sure prioritizing the camera and lip gloss over the pen and notebook.

That said, I have also found that I remember the must-dos and must-don'ts without even writing them down.

Here are a list of three things that I learned at the exquisite and joyful celebration that I was a part of this weekend:

1.) Definitely DO play "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" by Bruce Springsteen during the reception.
2.) Definitely DON'T have any D.I.Y. projects that involve tying 175 tiny bows by yourself two days before the wedding.
3.) Definitely DO have a Plan B if you hire a god-forsaken bus company to transport 50 of your guests -- including the groom's parents and old ladies visiting from Ireland -- 20 miles to the ceremony.

Curious? Ok, here is what happened:

Everyone was waiting in the lobby of the Marriott for the bus, which was 40 minutes late. It turned out the bus was 40 minutes late because it was sitting in the parking lot on the other side of the hotel. We all piled in, and the bus smelled like a delectable combination of fish and pee. Then, we get going and it stalls out twice in the parking lot.

(oh-- here's number 4, a life lesson: 4.) trust your instincts to go get your car when you're in a bus that stalls out twice within 50 feet.)

We made it about a mile before a final shudder and stomach-turning "click" of the A/C turning off indicated that the bus had died.

I'd like to say we all piled off, but we didn't. We sat in the fishy, uriney heat until some people in the front meandered off, then the people in the middle, and aw, hell, let's all get off.

Since my fiance was in the wedding party, I was traveling with a girlfriend whose husband was also a groomsman. We made quick friends with a federal prosecutor and his lawyer wife from Miami, who regaled us with stories of the drug and porn industries for the better part of an hour and a half.

Solutions were slow to come, and we all stood on the side of the highway on Long Island, outside a Cheesesteak Factory. Eventually, an ice cream truck pulled up, and a few people got ice cream, including the completely good-for-nothing bus driver, who retired back to his seat to enjoy his ice cream while the rest of us worked the phones and tried to think of new ways to say "chin up, it could totally be worse!" to the groom's mother.

Eventually, a guy in an SUV pulled over to see what was the trouble. He offered to take the groom's parents to the church, and they accepted (even in the light of a bunch of axe murderer jokes coming from one of the guests). Next, the wedding planner sent a 20-seat limo, which took away the rest of the old ladies, people who had traveled from abroad, and anyone speaking at the wedding. Finally, a fleet of 5 cabs turned up and we piled into one of them, and arrived at the ceremony about halfway through.

It had been postponed about an hour, but finally they couldn't wait anymore. The priest was just beginning the homily when my friend and I arrived, and we were just in time for the vows that followed.

Standing on the side of the road wasn't actually that bad, aside from the wind which kept blowing my chiffon skirt every which way. Well, that and the fact that just looking at the groom's mother, and thinking about the stress the bride and groom must have been feeling, totally almost put me over the edge. But it was a cool, sunny day, and I met some nice people, so all in all it wasn't that bad. Nevertheless, I was a wreck by the time we got there. The drama and anxiety, combined with a wicked hangover from the rehearsal dinner, and I was a basketcase. I took one look at my friend in her gorgeous dress and veil and burst into tears. (I've never cried at a wedding before!).

But I have to tell you, it was serious high drama. It totally sucked for about an hour and a half. But once we got to the reception (and the groom's father had his Jameson's) everything was totally fine. It was wonderful. I wouldn't say the Great Bus Incident of 2009 is a funny story yet, but I am sure it will be one day, because it was a beautiful wedding, two people I love very much are joined in marriage, and we all had a total blast.

Still -- good to have a Plan B for your transportation.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"OMG I'm sweating!"-- the engagement

Ok, so I knew we were going to get engaged. And that it would probably be soon, since I had told G. that I wanted to get engaged, plan and have the wedding within 2009.

One day, I was reading Lucky magazine, and saw this ring that I totally loved, but of course couldn't afford.
So I thought, oh, hey, I am probably getting engaged soon. Maybe I could have it as an engagement ring! I went back and forth a little in my head, and later that afternoon sent G. an email with a link to the ring. I was totally panicked about it, but did it anyway.

Well, turns out people do do that. My friend E. (who's doing the reading) told me she gave her husband "major specs" regarding her ring of choice before they got engaged. That made me feel a lot better.

A week later, G. and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We were looking at an exhibit about love and sex in the Renaissance (which, by the way, was totally dirty). G. asked me whether I wanted that particular ring, or something like it. I told him if he wanted to choose a different ring, he could choose one himself, but I wanted him to know he could think-outside-the-solitaire-box, so to speak. Or, he could just buy that one. So! There it was!

The week before Valentine's day, he was like, "Let's go to the Met on the 15th." We have dates at the Met a lot. However, he never suggests anything a week in advance, especially not stuff that requires no advance planning. So all of a sudden I had a little buzz in my ear. I suspected he was going to propose.

I knew he wouldn't do it on Valentine's day, because he is just not a proposing on Valentine's day kind of guy. However, on the 14th, he gave me a scrapbook to fill with mementos of stuff we would do together over the next year.


The day after Valentine's, I was all aflutter. I kind of thought this was it. I put on a snappy green sweater and lipgloss.

We went to the museum, and it was a madhouse. It was like a concert had just let out, there were masses of people everywhere. It was kind of making us cranky, and we couldn't get focused on anything we wanted to look at.

We ended up in the Art of Cyprus, which I had never looked at before in all my times at the Met. Now I know why: it's boring! I wanted to move on, so I walked out of the exhibit and G. followed.* We stopped on the balcony that overlooks the main entrance, and I took this picture of the flowers, which were beautiful that day.

Then we went into Chinese Art of the 5th century, which is my favorite room at the Met. There is a huge, ginormous buddha and an awesome mural. It was oddly empty in the room. We were chatting, and I was looking at the buddha, and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and he was holding the Lucky ring, and whispered in my ear, "Will you marry me?"

All I remember of the next few moments are that I started grabbing at the ring, was reminded that I hadn't replied, replied yes, and then starting sweating like you wouldn't believe. I ripped off my coat and scarf and fanned myself. Then we kissed, were excited, you know.

We tried to walk around some more, but it was futile. I was in a total daze. We went outside to Central Park and bought a blue Gatorade and took a picture.

Then we got on the phone. The best part was that my parents were at a funeral that day, which started at 3:00, just the time when we got engaged. I couldn't get them on the phone till 8:00 p.m.! G. had talked to his whole family and all his friends before I even got my folks on the phone. It didn't seem right to talk to a bunch of people before my parents, so they only person I called was A.T., my MOH.

Then we wandered through the park, and through midtown. We went to the Parker Meridien hotel and had an outrageously expensive glass of wine (I saved the coaster for our scrapbook). We went home, walked the dog, and had dinner at our favorite restaurant. Aces!

*Turns out he though of proposing in the Art of Cyprus, but I kept walking away. I am glad he didn't!

the wedding party - part 2

So, last we spoke, I was telling you how I was a bit bent out of shape how my BFF didn't seem to give a rip that I am getting married, and I was reconsidering my wedding party.

This is what I had in place: I knew I wanted my sister-from-another-mother to be my maid of honor. A.T. and I had grown up together, known each other since we were in utero. Our mothers are friends, our families vacation together, do Thanksgiving together. She is more than a friend, she is a given in my life. She is also an event-planner (helpful!) incredibly energetic, and organized. The perfect MOH. She started acting like an MOH even before I asked her, planning my shower about 45 minutes into my engagement.

Then I knew I wanted my very good friend B. to be my "bridesdude." B. is a friend of mine from work. We shared a cubicle for 5 years, and talked like girlfriends. You know. We've been through a lot together: the Bush administration, the Mets, my meeting G., the birth of his son.

B. is one of those guys who plastered his cubby with pictures of his wife and sons. His family was first on his mind all the time. I really admired B.'s marriage, his family life. We had talked about my relationship a lot, and he gave me a lot of good an unique insight ("marriage is easy!"). I consider B. my "marriage mentor" and I knew I wanted him to stand up with me.

We knew we wanted to have a small-ish wedding party, so I was limiting it to three. Since the debacle with A., I had a third spot to fill.

This was tough. I considered some people who were part of a larger group of friends, and decided I didn't want anyone to feel left out. I considered one girl who was my best friend in college, but we were working on repairing our relationship from a falling-out and I wasn't sure she was ready. (We're great now, and she's doing a reading.) I considered a very new friend I have, because she has been totally supportive, and I thought it might be a fun bonding thing to have a really new friend stand up with me.

Ultimately, I decided on my wonderful friend L., who was my other college BFF. She lives in San Francisco, which is maddeningly far away from me. To be honest, L. and I struggle with staying in touch. The time difference is a bear, and we're both wicked busy (like everyone). We love each other though, and are determined to keep our friendship alive.

L. is someone who always makes me laugh, who relaxes me and makes me feel good and happy. She is someone with whom I can quote Austin Powers with for the 9 millionth time and crack up. I decided I needed someone up there who will chill me out and make me feel happy. That is what L. does, and she is awesome.

So that's the wedding party. The issues with A. are unresolved. I don't know what will happen. We sent the save the dates out yesterday, and I bet she got hers today. I wonder what she'll think. It will be interesting to see how this progresses, and I'll be sure to keep you updated on late-breaking news.

How did you choose your wedding party?

"I prefer a more accelerated schedule" -- The pre-engagement

G. and I had been together for three years, and we were both over 30. Not that that matters, but it kinda did to me (much as I hate to admit it). After about two years, I was ready to get engaged, but I could see that he wasn't. Not because he didn't love me, we had for sure made the committment to each other; we had long-term-planning talks all the time. I knew he needed to work out some stuff in his head first, though.

Last summer, we went to Europe. One night in England, after about three dozen pints, I had a totally embarrassing meltdown while walking home from the pub. I don't remember what I said, but I think it was something along the lines of "Why haven't we gotten engaged yet, what the hell is going on, this is driving me nuts, blah blah blah" with some extra special drunken melodrama thrown in.

Believe you me, I never wanted to get to that point. And when I was sober, I didn't actually feel so desperate about the whole situation at all.

He responded with something like, "This isn't what I signed up for when we agreed to go on this vacation, so cool it."

The next day, the next two days, the next week, I felt terrible. He told me not to worry about it, but I totally did. I was so ashamed and just really felt pathetic. I left it alone after that.

Six months later, we had our three month anniversary. We went to River Cafe, which is this super fancy, super expensive restaurant that we can't by any stretch of the imagination afford.

River Cafe night is when we usually have big talks. It was at our one-year anniversary at River Cafe when G. first said, "Say, we should get married at some point."

So this time, our third, he proposed.

A schedule.

He was like, "Let's get engaged in 2009, and married in 2010." The wine was flowing, I was wearing sequins, things were good. So I was all, "Sure! Sounds great!" Clink of the glasses. A discussion of the ring, and our future babies' names (seriously).*

The next morning, I reconsidered. I tap tap tapped him on the shoulder the moment I woke up:

"I prefer a more accelerated schedule with the getting engaged thing. How about, get engaged in 2009, married in 2009. We've been together three years, enough is enough. Let's get 'er done."

He was like, "OK, sounds good."

So then I just had to wait. Oh yeah, and deal with the ring thing (more on that, soon!).

*He totally forgot the baby-name discussion. He now has no memory of it!

the wedding party - headache part 1

I had thought a lot about my wedding party before I got engaged. We even talked about it a bit, during that weird period where we knew we were going to get engaged, but it hadn't happened yet (more on that later, yeesh). So, like a lot of other stuff I had it all wrapped up, in the bag, whatever, before we were even engaged.

Then things changed.

I have this best friend A., who I have been like peas and carrots with since we were 14.

We met when I complimented her on her nailpolish and Hypercolor shirt (this was the early 90s, ok? You young folks can go ahead and Google "Hypercolor!").

We fell in love when I came over to her house for a sleepover and did my spot-on Axl Rose impression, swaying all over the dang place to "Patience."

We have had some serious ups and downs over the years, but that's how things go in long-term relationships. Lately, we've really been mostly having ups. Then I told her I had gotten engaged (after two days of trying to get her on the phone). She acted like I told her what I had for lunch that day.

We talked again two weeks later, for her birthday, no mention of my engagement. I didn't see her or talk to her for months, and we had a very tense dinner about a week ago. For whatever reason, she is not at all interested in the fact that I am getting married.

Now, I am not one to bash people over the head with my wedding. I am not all me-me-me. It's not like I am being all annoying about it. She hasn't even given me a chance to be annoying!

There's a lot more I could say about this, but I'll spare you the gory details. I know a lot of us have gone through similar things, and Miss Cloud posted a wonderful and honest post about it.

My and A.'s relationship is complicated, and it can be complicated when people get engaged. It can bring up insecurities, sadness, lonlieness, envy, all sorts of feelings. I know all this. Yet I thought for sure A. was going to be a bridesmaid. I had never imagined another possibility.

But obviously, if she wasn't the slightest bit interested in my wedding (for whatever reason), I wasn't going to have her be in the wedding.

Oh, snap. Now what to do? Well, for one, stay tuned!

I don't think I even have a regular style, much less a bridal style.

A friend at work gave me a book about finding my bridal style. I looked at the book and there are a LOT of quizzes, and I think I am supposed to sit down with G. and have meaningful conversations about color schemes. Which reminds me: we don't have a color scheme. I was having a conversation about this color scheme issue lately, and my friend said, "Well, what colors are your bridesmaids wearing?"

"They're wearing black. And one of them's my friend Bill. He'll be wearing a black suit."


Yeah. So, no color scheme. And no theme, really. Unless our theme is "getting married."

Early on, I read the following phrase: my wedding is a celebration, not an event. I think that is my bridal style. I realized quickly that I would have to develop an easy-to-remember motto to help me keep my head.

I am in this weird place, six months out, where a lot of the major decisions have been made. We have the date, the venue, the wedding party, dress, shoes, photographer, officiant, hotel. People (especially at work) keep asking me why I am not going totally bananas. I don't know! Should I be? I don't carry around a binder with ideas or anything.

I think I am just trying to make a celebration, not an event. Not a big freaking to-do. Part of this has to do with the fact that parts of our wedding will be pretty non-traditional (see again: Bill the bridesdude). Also, I don't obsess over details. And I like being really decisive. There is nothing that drives me more nuts than to endlessly research, compare, haggle, worry. I like to pick something and move on. I don't often second-guess myself (which, to be sure, has drawbacks!).

I guess I am trying to figure out have a superfantastic wedding without being ALL ABOUT MY WEDDING all the time. Or without spending 5 hours at a time on Etsy choosing the perfect this or that.

Do you have any misgivings about how you are "supposed" to feel about your wedding?

Dress dramarama

In my approved pre-engagement internet research, I discovered that J. Crew does weddings, and I decided straight away that I wanted a J. Crew wedding. J. Crew is the greatest, and I do love checking things off the list. Wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses from the same place, available online? Perf!

I also have three personality quirks that make the proposition of wedding dress shopping a total nightmare for me:
1) I hate trying on.
2) I get overwhelmed by too many choices (I don't even like long menus in restaurants!).
3) I am more of a "good enough" girl than a "this has to be PERFECT!" girl.

I had already fished around on the J. Crew website and found a bunch of dresses that I liked. Once we actually were engaged, I got my mom on the phone and managed to navigate her onto the website so we could shop online together. We picked the Sabine gown in about 10 minutes, and were done.

I went to work the next day, beaming to the girls about how only weeks after getting engaged, I had the venue and the dress. Man, I thought I had all my ducks in a row. Who said planning a wedding is hard?

The dress came only four days after ordering it, which was very exciting. Even more exciting was the lovely, giant box with a lovely, giant bow in which the dress arrived. My recently-wed friend Rosemary came over and helped me try it on.

Once in the dress, I wasn't so sure. It looked a little too homecoming queen for me. There was something about the fabric that just overwhelmed me and made me feel like I was drowning in ivory taffeta. Rosemary fussed over me and gave advice on how a tailor could nip it in here or there, we'd get it steamed, and everything would be great. She took pictures for me to send to my mom and maid of honor. When I looked at the pictures, I felt like the dress was very unflattering and just not at all how I had hoped to look.

I was very committed to the J. Crew idea, though, and I became stubborn. I had it in my head that I would have a J. Crew wedding, and by God, I was going to do it!

Fortunately, I got a grip a few days later. I realized I have months 'til the wedding and I can do whatever I want, and I don't have to wear this dress, and there is no reason to have a dress that is just good-enough. With the encouragement of two girlfriends and my mom, I decided that I would take the dress back. Now it is hard to believe I was even considering settling. It's embarassing!

In May, my maid of honor, my mom and my fiance's sister went with me to Jenny Yoo, who also has classic, chic and affordable gowns. I tried on ten gowns, LOVED four of them, and ended up buying the first one I tried on (which is chiffon; I did learn that taffeta does not look good on me!).

It was totally easy -- we were done in like an hour. (The only difficult thing was getting my girls to pay attention to me! The studio was running a 75% off sale on cashmere sweaters, and everytime I came out of the dressing room, they were browsing sweaters. Jerks!)

I still think J. Crew is a fantastic option, and I am really glad they have gotten into the bridal business. I have seen gorgeous pictures of real weddings in which the bride wore this J. Crew, polka dot gown, and it was a knockout!

The dress just wasn't for me. Also, I need to slow down and be careful about my decision-making!

Has anyone out there bought a wedding dress off the internet?

Choosing the Venue

Once I got engaged, I surprised myself by going into full planning mode right away. I didn't think I was the type of girl to start devouring wedding magazines right out of the gate, but I did. My friend Carolyn gave me The Knot's New York City magazine, and I was all over that ish. (Incidentally, she also gave us not only a sweet-ass bottle of fancy champagne, but also a 100 Grand candy bar. Is this an engagement tradition that I don't know about? It was delicious frozen.)

Anyhow, we knew we wanted to get married in New York City, and not in a church. We also knew that a Manhattan wedding would be big-time expensive. We live in Queens, so a Queens wedding seemed perfect. And convenient!Many friends of mine had planned long-distance weddings and finding a hairstylist in Santa Fe or whatever was not a headache I wanted to take on. Ten minutes away by car? Perfect!

I have to admit: I started snooping around on the internet, looking at wedding dresses and venues before we even got engaged. I made up arbitrary rules for myself about what was "ok" too look at in advance and what wasn't. (Wedding dresses and venues, totally ok. Full-on wedding sites like Weddingbee, not ok. Who knows why!)

By the time we got engaged, I had half of it planned out already. Then I totally changed my mind about everything. The perfect Queens venue that I found turned out to be way too expensive. Apparently, they had recently filmed an episode of "Gossip Girl" there, so it was not in the slightest bit an undiscovered Queens gem. Also -- more importantly -- my mother hated it.

Then I regrouped and I googled "Long Island City weddings" and found a "real wedding," which had been held at the "Metropolitan Building" as the ceremony and reception venue. I looked at the pictures of the building online, and loved it.

Six days after we got engaged, G. and I drove over and took a look. The neighborhood is mainly warehouses, and the Metropolitan Building is an old electrical parts factory. We like things that are a little offbeat, so this was excellent. When we looked at the space (an entire floor!) we just about died. It was so perfect for us: affordable (most importantly), very shabby chic, a little Parisian-looking, and overall pretty weird, with random skulls, romance novels and Buddha heads scattered about. We loved the idea of our guests arriving at a run-down warehouse and then finding such a wonderful, romantic space inside.

A week after that, my mother came to visit and we put down a deposit. Two weeks after engagement, we had our spot! I couldn't believe it was so easy.

In addition to loving the space, it is run by a very eccentric woman named Eleanor. Eleanor keeps a little dog with her, and was quick with the jokes.She told us that the cost of the site would be free if we used their catering, which we will. I am a one-stop-shopping sort of girl, so I am super-psyched that I don't have to worry about choosing a caterer and linens, or ordering tables and chairs. We just have to supply alcohol, the cake, the flowers and the DJ. I did another Google search and found a message board where former brides raved about the Metropolitan Building catering, so I know I won't have to worry. (An aside: Eleanor politely requested that we not ask for baby lamb chops for dinner. Apparently, they are a very laborious dish. Who knew?)

When we met with Eleanor in February, the space was either $6,000 flat fee, and you bring your own catering, or you get the space for free and you pay $150 per person for their catering. Also, they are very relaxed about how much time you spend there. We are able to drop stuff off the night before, and have the whole floor from 9:00 a.m. until midnight on the day of our wedding. Also -- I know, right? The awesomeness continues! -- they are a prop rental business, so they have a whole floor of crazy antique furniture that we can use at no extra charge. So if I desire a purple velvet chaise lounge and orange banquettes, I shall have them!

Did you pick your venue easily? Did they offer you any cool perks?