Monday, August 31, 2009

Never Tear Us Apart

G. and I decided fairly easily on our first-dance song, which is Never Tear Us Apart by INXS. We made the decision by having me start to think about it long before we were engaged, developing a list, narrowing it down by myself, and finally delivering two options to him after we started planning the wedding. (The other song I considered was "No One" by Alicia Keys.)

We used the following criteria for selecting this particular song:
1) It is totally awesome, and has been so since 1987 when it came out.
2) It is part of the soundtrack of the very romantic movie Donnie Darko, which we both love.
3) It is has a hilarious and totally 80s saxophone solo in the middle. (I dream of performing "air saxophone" during our dance at the wedding!)

At any rate, despite the fact that the song was also played at Michael Hutchence's funeral in 1997, we thought it was a very romantic song, and let's admit it: a crowd pleaser. Everyone our age at the wedding is going to know and love this.

G. and I are not exactly shy, but we're not attention-seekers either. We won't be doing a surprise dance to "Baby Got Back" or anything of that nature. On the other hand, we want to avoid looking like our wedding is a 7th grade mixer, with three and a half minutes of us swaying back and forth.

Therefore, we asked my parents, who have done ballroom dancing for fifteen years, to choreograph a little something for us. Last week, we saw visited them for vacation, and we all had some wine and INXS in the living room. My parents worked out a ballroom medley for us, which mostly consists of a rumba box-step, with a dramatic tango lunge thrown in.

But the best part -- and the only thing that will prevent me from doing an air-sax solo -- is that my folks also included a Dirty Dancing move! I am sure that all women between the ages of 25 and 40 attending my wedding will immediately recognize Baby's fabulous head-roll during the sax solo! (She does it right in the beginning of the "Time of My Life" dance.)

Also like Baby -- when Johnny Castle runs his fingers along her armpit -- I had the giggles when we were practicing. G. was a good student, and neither of us had much trouble learning it, but I was a little embarrassed to do some corny stuff that my parents suggested, like lay my head on his chest during the tango lunge.

Also embarrassing: when my parents were suggesting some dirty tango moves that I was too prudish to seriously attempt in their company.

Hopefully my giggles and hesitancy will evaporate on the big day.

As shy as I am about it, I am exciting to have a choreographed dance that will hopefully be romantic and hold folks' attention. Even more so, I know my parents are super excited to be able to share their experience with us and really be able to contribute to this part of the wedding. Now all we have to do is practice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This must cause Cancer. But.....

I have a particular product that I need everyone to know about, but I hesitate to write this post. Well, I did hesitate, and then I was like "eh, whatever" and forged boldly ahead.

What is this product? Neulash is, according to their website, "active eyelash technology," which is beauty marketing speak for "OMG totally awesome eyelash stuff that makes those mothers grow!"

Why did I pause? Because it comes in a tube the size of a mascara, and it costs like $150. I say "like $150," because although their extensive FAQ section discusses the use of Neulash among those of the male gender, lactating mothers and concerned contacts-wearers, it does not actually -- so far as I can deduce -- discuss how much it costs.

I know, because my friend Melissa scored a tube for free, used it for three months before her wedding, witnessed a miracle, and passed it along to me. She reported to me that it costs $150. And, of course, I would never condone sharing eye makeup except in instances of serious bridal vanity desperation.

Melissa's eyelashes were mesmerizing. I mean, I she could have blinked near me and brushed my hair at the same time. She could have dusted lampshades with these things, it was amazing! I am not shilling for Neulash, as everything about it does seem a little creepy to me, but I am simply here to let you know that if you
a) have $150 to blow on seriously gorgeous eyelashes
b) have a friend in the beauty biz
you need to score some of this stuff.

I have been using Neulash for about four weeks, and started to notice a difference a few days ago. I plan to keep using it til my wedding, and pray I don't get pink eye. Of course, you can also get extensions, and spend a lot less money, but how fun to see your own lashes grow day by day before your very eyes!

These are before and after photos from the website, which are not even as impressive as Melissa's.

What crazy beauty stuff have you tried under the influence of bride brain?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yes, I AM buying this light-up garland!

I get overwhelmed by too many choices, and I sometimes have trouble getting focused. I love Michael's, but when I go there I don't know how to take all the wonderful things there and direct them into a great project for me.

I signed up for the Michael's email list yesterday, and got a 50% off coupon. (Have y'all signed up? Do it now!) I took it to Michael's and figured this might help me get some focus. I thought that I wouldn't look at stuff that was super cheap, because who cares about something being 50% off if it's already cheap? (So, no tiny packages of stickers or Swarovski crystals.) So, I was thinking: pricey craft tools, anything Martha, stuff like that. (Sorry, Martha, but you're always the upscale choice at any big-box store.)

Anyhow, I went through the Wedding section, which today was full of crappy tiaras and invitation-making kits. Then I came across it: the Wilton White Rose Bridal Garland. Admittedly, the
packaging is a little cheesy, but I feel like this 6-foot light up, battery operated garland has huge decorating potential at my wedding.

A few thoughts:
1.) Wound
around the cupcake stands
2.) Wound around the centerpiece at the head table
3.) Hung across the wide doorway I'll walk through on my way down the aisle

So many options! G. called while I was at Michael's, and I was like, "White rose bridal garland! White rose bridal garland!"

And he was like, "Oh. Really? Are we really... having that?" in a strained voice. Sometimes he just doesn't see my vision. And he often doesn't know when I am kidding. Not kidding, Mr. G.! NOT. KIDDING.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making cuts

I already know that this is the kind of post that will get folks heated in the comments. However, I would like to discuss what has been happening with one of my guests over the past couple of days, culminating today in my more or less dis-inviting her from the wedding. (This dis-invitation is somewhat along the lines of movies where the employee says, "I QUIT!" and the boss says, "No, you're fired!" Kind of like that, only without comic relief.)

I'll give it to you straight: I have been sweating bullets over the guest list for the past couple of months. I've been given a lot of grief from various family members, and I have created grief for myself. I got it to a place where we could all be content, and we went about sending out the save-the-dates.

Our M.O. for guests was the following:
1) spouses of guests invited, of course
2) serious S.O.s invited (fiances, or living together)

Most of the single people coming to the wedding are either not traveling to come to it, or they know lots of people who will be attending. No single people on the guest list were invited knowing no other guests.

A former co-worker who is about my parents' age signed our wedding website guest book last week, and said that she was going to bring her sister-in-law as her guest.

I wrote her back and gently explained that due to financial constraints, we were asking people to attend as would be addressed on the envelope (i.e., all "plus-ones" would receive an invitation, but no one was to bring a random guest). I said I had really struggled with the guest list, and was left only with this option. I reminded her that she would know four other people at the wedding, and thanked her for her understanding. I really did try to be cheerful in my reply, transparent in my reasoning, and firm in my resolve.

I won't give you the nitty gritty of every back and forth, but this unleashed a torrent of emails from this guest, challenging me on every level for my decision. Irritatingly, she also assured me that she was not taking "this snub personally," although she clearly was, and kept signing her emails "warmly." The long and short of it was that she wanted to bring her sister-in-law as a buddy mainly for the trip, which was long for her.

Well, as much as I would like to pay my caterer $150 for her to have a subway buddy, I can't afford that.

The last email she sent me was on Friday, wherein she began, "After all we have been through together...." and concluded by letting me know in an exceptionally passive-aggressive way how disappointed she was in me.

I thought about my reply for two days so that I wouldn't write back in the heat of the moment. This afternoon, I wrote the following:

With all that we have been through, I invited you to my wedding.
I explained to you the reasons for how the guest list has been developed, and it is what it is, I regret that it's not to your liking.
The card you received was not the invitation, those have yet to be sent. It was just a save-the-date.
I don't know what else to say except that I have a million things on my plate right now, the guest list is incredibly complicated, and I don't want to to be asked again to justify our decisions. I was hoping to be able to share this with you, I'm sorry we couldn't work it out.
I then emailed the whole exchange to my mom, who quickly called me at work to try to talk me off the ledge. I appreciated that; my mom was exceptionally calm, reasonable, and understanding. She really chose her words to me carefully.

Ultimately, I know there are a lot of people out there who will avoid conflict at any cost. I am a person who will avoid feeling bullied at any cost, and I was feeling bullied here, big time. This is a sensitive subject for me, because I just went through a painful experience with graduate school where I also felt bullied, and I just feel fierce right now (and I don't mean that in the Tyra way.)

I am not giving you the entire story because I know all the he-said-she-said can be difficult to follow and not interesting to anyone outside those involved.

I realize that I was tough, that many people will think I should have just relented. I realize I am setting myself up for judgment here, and that's fine. Maybe I did the right thing, maybe I did the wrong thing, but it is done.

The reason I share this story is that besides all the kooky "bride brain" and floral meltdowns we may have, there are ugly parts of wedding planning, too. I bet a lot of you have had ugliness (hopefully, many of you haven't). For those of you who have, even if your story is much different than mine, I wanted to share this with you. I just wanted to say, here is the crappy thing that happened here. Here are the grey areas, the bad behavior, the misccommunication. For what it's worth.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I think I made a mistake

I picked up my dress from Jenny Yoo yesterday. They don't do alterations, so I had to go to an outside tailor. A friend of mine who works in fashion recommended Joseph Ting at Dynasty Custom Tailors, which is just a few blocks from Jenny Yoo. Joseph and Dynasty were also recommended by New York magazine's wedding guide, a source that I trust because it caters to rich people, and rich people don't play when it comes to their wedding stuff.

Anyhow, even though my wedding is not til December, I was excited to pick up my dress, and I didn't want to schlep it all the way home on the subway, and then back to Joseph again on the subway at some later date. I said, "let's do it now!"

I put the dress on and loved it even more than I did before. It seemed a little big though, which I was psyched about since I lost 5 pounds. But then I remembered that I want to lose 5 more, and the wedding isn't for four months, and Joseph isn't going to require multiple fittings. I was thinking that after this, that would be it. I would take it home and store it in my in-laws' closet until December.

Now I am thinking: do I have to stay the exact weight I am for the next four months so the dress fits? It is strapless, so I really can't fool around and risk it falling off. The sample I tried in the store really fit quite well, so these alterations are not an elaborate multi-fitting process. Joseph is just shortening it, and nipping it in around the torso for a snugger fit, and that's that.

I'm a little nervous. My wonderful friend Amy, who came with me, says, "Don't worry about it, if we need to go back in November, we go back in November. No big deal."

So I guess I just won't worry. Joseph will still be there (and he works fast; this is supposed to be done in a week) and I can go back if I have to. I just feel like I planned badly, and I hate that! Usually, I am a good planner. Rats!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who knew Martha could help us save money?

I just logged onto my Gmail account to find my daily tip from Martha. Today's is surprisingly helpful! I usually don't think of Martha when it comes to saving money, but today she has 50 tips for staying on budget (actually, it seems she has two sets -- this is the other one). I am a budget bride (of course, aren't most of us?) but some of these were new to me. She suggests, for example, hiring a wedding planner to save money because they are not shy about haggling. I never would have thought of that! Ah, Martha, saving us -- from overspending and bad taste -- at every turn.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

drying my tears with the pages of a book

Last week I cried nearly every time I thought about the wedding. It started with a fairly benign if slightly pushy email from the best man, which G. forwarded to me. It continued with a discussion between me and my supremely supportive MOH regarding bridesmaids' shoes. The reason I didn't cry these two times is because I was at work, and I have a no crying at work policy, which has only been broken once when I was a waittress and someone stole $80 off a table of mine, which I then had to pay myself.


Finally, on Sunday, I did cry, and that was because I was having a nice day at home alone with G. and I had the time and space. I heard once, I think on Oprah, that people tend to cry when they feel safe. Interesting!

I realized that I am having some very mixed feelings about the wedding, which could be identified as below:

1.) I am pretty Type B, meaning I don't care if stuff is perfect, I just want it to be good.
2.) Although most brides are obsessed with details, there are a lot of details about which I really don't give a fig, such as bridesmaids' shoes.
3.) I have difficulty comprimising, if I am not the person who suggested comprimise.
4.) I hate being told that I have to do something, or made to feel like I don't have a choice.
5.) Even though I am Type B, I do worry about the pressure to have a totally awesome wedding that is creative and original and totally expresses exactly what G. and I are about.
6.) I worry about spending too much money.
7.) I worry about feeling/acting/appearing greedy.

I think this may have been bridal meltdown #1. Of how many, we'll see.

I went straight to my local bookstore that I love, McNally Jackson Books. I bought two books that I hope would bring me back from the edge, and so far so good.

The first is Altared (edited by Colleen Curran) has a very satisfying picture of a bride in a fabulous dress tearing her hair out. The book is a collection of essays about the tumult of wedding planning, and are decidedly not of the fairy-tale wedding variety. They are honest and touching and made me feel better. I especially liked Amy Sohn's and Dani Shapiro's essays.

I also bought Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides (Ariel Meadow Stallings). I haven't started it yet, but I read the Offbeat Bride blog and although I am not a goth or Ren-Fair bride, I appreciate the blog's committment to freedom and indepence and feeling like you can get away from the Knot if you want.

Having finished Altared, I am already feeling a lot better. I can't wait to start the Offbeat Bride book. I also feel a lot better being honest that I don't give a rat's ass about bridesmaids' shoes! It's the dirty truth.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Make Me Up

I saw this article in the Times last week about Laura Luke, the Youtube makeup tutorial phenomenon. I had never heard of her before, but spent some time today watching a Twilight-inspired (yes!) makeup tutorial. Her accent is cute, her work is good, and she saved a little time at the end to show off her dogs. I can relate to that!
I am still going back and forth on whether I am going to hire someone to do my makeup. My friend M. had her photographer friendor also do her makeup (talk about multi-tasking!), and the photographer/makeup artist had learned everything she knows on Youtube! I am thinking maybe I can study up for the next four months and do some totally awesome, perhaps Twilight-inspired makeup for my wedding day. I really like the idea of doing it myself rather than hiring someone, if I can do a good job.

As a sidenote, my same friend M. works in women's media and gets tons of free stuff. I had dinner with her (+ another friend and the friendor photographer/makeup artist) the other night, and she brought us each a tube of lipstick. I felt like it was some kind of bizarre Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moment, because each of us chose one that looked fantastic on us. I myself got Estee Lauder's #67 Plum Amethyst, and I have to say: I think I found my wedding lipstick! Thanks, M.!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Walls Guestbook

I have to hijack a post from Brooklyn Bride for you:

The "Walls" Guestbook!

I went to two weddings this summer that had totally awesome guest-photography guest books. One involved a rented Polaroid camera, and the other a photobooth. As much as I loved that stuff, now I feel like I have to think of my own thing for the guest book (or, rather, let the blogs think of it for me). So I saw the wall book on Brooklyn Bride today and thought, ah-ha!

I love the graffiti element of it. I have been interested in graffiti since being introduced to it by a high school boyfriend. (He even professed his love for me in Krylon on my parents' basement wall!) In graduate school for art history, I tried to write a paper about graffiti, treating it as a serious movement. I say "try" because my conservative professors were decidedly not down. But that is a story for another time.

Anyhow, I think this is totally great, and it's only $16 by the way, which I was very happy to learn. Anyone else out there have some good guest book idea? Part of me still really wants to do the Polaroid thing, but I feel like that would be weird.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I could definitely have worse problems than worrying about where to go on our...


I have been really unfocused with the planning, lately. Our friends P. & S. got back from their honeymoon in Aruba recently, and hearing about their superfun times got me all fired up about the honeymoon.

(A recap of the conversation about their honeymoon:
G: So now that you're done with the wedding, what did you guys talk about on the honeymoon?
P: We didn't talk.
S: We didn't talk! We sat on the beach and I read all 8 True Blood books!)

We have not been able to figure out what we're doing with the honeymoon. We can't really afford it (and don't want to do a honeymoon registry), but we do expect to receive money at the wedding. I also have some savings that I could put toward it. But we don't have a budget, we don't know how long we want to go for, or where to go!

Here are some things we do (think) we know:
1) we want warm weather
2) we want to veg, big time
3) we would prefer to go to a place where English is the main language
4) we are getting more an more into the all-inclusive

What does all this add up to? Lazy!

Back in 2000, I went to South Beach and saw the wonder that is the Delano Hotel infinity pool. I vowed that although it is very expensive, I would go back one day and stay there. So one idea we had was to spend a night or two at the Delano, and then head to Key West for the rest of the vacation. That's our first idea.

Then, I thought, "Belize!" I love Mexico, and have been there several times, but never to the Yucatan. These days, I am a little nervous about traveling to Mexico because it is unstable, but Belize is right there! Also, because it was a British Colony, English is the main language. They have a beautiful barrier reef, awesome beaches and hotels, and is the inspiration for Madonna's "La Isla Bonita!" We have been looking at Laru Beya, Victoria House and Xanadu.

But then I was looking at Elegant Bride today, and saw an article about St. Lucia, and got all excited about that! Neither of us has been to the Carribbean more than once or twice, so it is not old-hat for us. (I know some people who have been to the Carribbean so much that it is nothing special.)

We also considered staying in the continental U.S. Friends of ours took a road trip around the Southwest for their honeymoon, and that sounded wonderful. Though it doesn't really fit with the "lazy" and "want to veg" priorities.

I just don't know how to get focused. I don't know how to set a budget or find great resorts. Well, I do know how to find resorts. My favorite: Tripadvior (I don't travel without it!). But I feel like I am being inefficient in my research.

How did you approach your honeymoon research?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

dramarama update!

I just learned that Jill & Kevin of the "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" have started a website, in which they are raising money to fight domestic violence.

The dance that they used for their ceremony entrance was by Chris Brown, who we all know beat up Rihanna the night of the Grammys. I have been following this story closely, and have very mixed feelings about the coverage it's gotten. I believe that the controversial picture of her battered face really brought home the serious and physical damage that this kind of battering causes. On the other hand, although I think the picture helped bring domestic violence out of the realm of the abstract for people who have not experienced it, I worry that it is a violation of Rihanna's privacy.
But we could argue about this all day.

What I was most upset by was the outpouring of support, not for Rihanna, but for Chris Brown! Overwhelmingly, (mostly male) celebrities let Brown off the hook with a "boys will be boys" excuse. I even heard many people repeat Brown's claim that Rihanna's island background caused her to be feisty, and that she was asking for it. Racist and sexist.

I have deleted Brown's songs from my iPod (I always liked Ne-Yo better anyhow) and have hoped that he will do some serious and penance for his actions.

For these reasons, I was thrilled that Jill and Kevin are working to use their 15 minutes of fame to help the cause of domestic violence. (Turns out Jill is studying domestic violence in her Ph.D. program!)

Major snaps to these guys. Seriously.

(Also, I can't help it: this is totally on a lighter note, but the website also has a picture of Jill & Kevin's wedding party, and I love Jill's BM dresses!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

lift 'em up, push 'em together!

I got a call last week that my dress is in! Last week, I know, I know. I can't believe it's just sitting there. But I had two important things to do before I could go pick it up. First, I had to find a tailor, which I have done. Second, I had to get my undergarments.

I am a big fan of What Not to Wear, and it was there that I first heard of the wonders of getting professionally fitted for a bra. I really hate bra shopping, and I always feel like I am buying the wrong thing, so I was psyched to learn that there are ladies out there who are experts at making my ladies look good.

In New York City, there are a few places you can go. WNTW used Linda the Bra Lady, who I have heard terrific things about. Online research led me to Bra*Tenders, however. Bra*Tenders is located near Times Square and the Theater District, and it is the go-to place for theater people. (Miss Star, am I right?) They got great reviews on, as well as on the wedding blogs.

You have to make an appointment, and they take your credit card over the phone. If you miss your appointment without calling to cancel, they charge you. Yikes! But the appointment system, as well as their commitment to it, really makes the experience and service top-notch.

Bra*Tenders isn't a storefront, it is on the 6th floor of an office building with a totally amazing Art Deco interior. I was buzzed in, and because I was early, superfriendly Crystal offered me candy and a magazine, and the chance to go to the bathroom (a girl after my own heart!). When she was ready for me, we went together into a dressing room that was about the size of a small New York City bedroom (kidding, sort of...). I brought a picture of me in my wedding dress, in which I was feeling a little droopy, to say the least.

She had me take off my shirt, and I said, "I'd like to lift 'em up. I want a little something going on, but not too va-va-voom."

"Yes," she said, "and we'll push them together, because you're hanging to the side." And then she pushed them together.

OK, then!

We decided on my size. I have always bought 34B, but recently started experimenting with 32C. Turns out I am a 32C. Hey, that's why straps always fall off my shoulder! Already, Bra*Tenders was worth it. She determined my size by trying a 32C bra that was absolutely lovely and made me look goooooood. I glanced at the price tag. Oh, this is what a $120 bra does for you!

Because the sweetheart neckline and the back of the dress dip low, she said I would need a bustier longline bra. She brought it in, and then asked me if I would consider wearing Spanx. I was hoping to not wear Spanx, but I decided to put myself in the hands of the expert. "Well, we can try it, I guess...." I said.

Then she told me that the longline bra would cause all my stuff to smoosh out the bottom and make a gross muffin top at my hips. By all means then, bring on the Spanx!

Putting them on was unpleasant, because I hate the feeling of squeezing my thighs and behind into something tight. But once it was on, it was all good. The bustier was lovely and arranged everything just so. Crystal was right, everything was totally smooth across my hips. By this point, I was totally used to the Spanx and planning what outfits I would wear them with.

I was so excited by how great Crystal was making me look that I allowed her to upsell me. Usually I buy my bras from Calvin Klein at Macy's on sale. I told her this, and she didn't have any good Calvin Klein for me, but she had some other plain-looking but totally flattering nude colored bra for $44. I said, "I'll take it!"

I should note that I didn't feel any pressure whatsoever to buy. Crystal was really kind and made me feel good and comfortable. Bra*Tenders is the kind of place that really caters to women of all shapes and sizes, and helps you feel good about yourself. Work with what you got, I say! (This is also the idea behind WNTW, I might add.)

They had a lot of camisoles that were autographed by famous people, and I was glad to see one from Gloria Steinem that said something like, "Thanks for making a great space for women." I felt just the same way.

The bill was $200, for the spanx, longline, and regular bra. The consultation, which was at least 30-40 minutes, does not cost extra. I love good customer service, and I totally got it at Bra*Tenders.

Now I am superpsyched to do my dress fitting! I am also superpsyched that I am getting married in the winter, because although Crystal was wearing Spanx, I just don't know about that during the summer.

How did you go about buying under-the-dress-wear? Did you wing it on your own, do internet research or have a consultation at a store?