Monday, September 14, 2009

La Isla Bonita

Last year, we went to Europe. The process of booking the trip involved six million hours of internet research, hemming, hawing (whatever that is), stalking and totally sweating airfare. This was because we had a budget.

This time, I am ashamed/liberated to say, we don't really have much of a budget, because we don't really have any money! Friends of my parents generously contributed a shocking amount of money to our honeymoon, and we figure we'll pay the rest with the money we get at the wedding. I know this doesn't sound particularly responsible, but hey - I ain't a role model, it is what it is. (I should say, however, that I do have enough savings that I can cover the trip if I have to. No matter what, we're not letting this trip languish on our credit cards.)

I mentioned before that we were debating between a bunch of different ideas, among them Miami Beach and Belize. In the last few weeks, we decided on Belize. Nay, we didn't "decide," we got super excited about Belize!

My friendor DOC went to Belize on her honeymoon and loved it.

However, she also told me a sort of alarming story about her first scuba diving trip, which happened on the honeymoon: at the point when she got to "then I looked up and saw how far above us the boat was" I decided I was probably never going to go scuba diving.

When she got to the part about a hand-signal communication breakdown with her new husband, resulting in a near panic attack, I decided I was never going scuba diving.

Anyhow, Belize is a big scuba destination, especially because of the incredible, beautiful barrier reef off the coast of the country.

But I understand there is lots to do in Belize outside of scuba. Thank, god! Yeck.

After a ton (but not six million hours) of internet research, mostly on, we decided to choose between two resorts in Belize: Matachica near San Pedro in Amergris Caye

And Victoria House, which is also on Ambergris Caye.

You may remember that I have a serious thing for swimming pools, especially infinity pools. Especially infinity pools on the beach! So you won't be surprised to learn that we chose Victoria House.

The pool wasn't the deciding factor though. Like a true former grad student/executive assistant extraordinaire, I gathered a ton of information (the grad student in me) and made a chart (the exec assistant in me) comparing Matachica and Victoria House. I put everything in there, from "free bottle of chilled champagne," to "unlimited use of kayaks." I compared which season we would be in while at each hotel, as our honeymoon will be on the cusp of high season and it varies by resort. Finally, I compared prices.

Ultimately, the differences in amenities were not significant, but the price difference was. Victoria House is beautiful, offers just about the same kind and amount of stuff as Mata Chica, but the price was a lot less.

Here is what we get at the Victoria House:

  • We're staying in a "Plantation Room" which has a private entrance and patio, a view of the gardens, the pool and the beach. Each bed has a canopy and the rooms have central A/C.
  • welcome cocktail
  • bottle of champagne
  • breakfast, lunch and dinner in their restaurant(s)
  • his n hers massages
  • snorkel trip
  • unlimited use of kayaks
  • dinner served on the beach or next to the pool
  • all taxes and gratuities included
  • they take care of reserving the puddle-jumper that gets you from Belize City to Ambergris Caye
Sounds goooooood, huh?

I called up today and asked for the price of the 5-night package. The operator quoted me about $2,800.00 for five nights, for two people. However, when I called back, I was told that for five nights we get a sixth free! We do have to pay for our food on the sixth day, but that's cool. So for about $3,000, give or take, we're spending six nights in La Isla Bonita!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

a color scheme emerges from... the groom's suit!

G. and I went to Macy's over Labor Day, to hit the sales and check out mens' suits. I had never been suit shopping before, and my eyes glazed over the instant we got to the 6th floor. I still don't exactly understand how you pick out a suit when they all look the exact same! Nevertheless, G. found one he liked in his size straightaway!

These were our criteria:

1.) G. likes a slim cut. He is tall and has long legs, so he looks awesome in a slim cut suit. He had been looking at DKNY suits such as this one to the left, but they didn't have it in his size.

2.) We want it to be black. That part wasn't hard, other than a sea of black suits can be kind of numbing.

3.) Has to be on sale. Ordinarily, that would be so obvious for us that I needn't even be a stated rule, but G. started to get a jonesing for a certain Hugo Boss suit. In case you didn't know, Hugo Boss never goes on sale!

4.) Lastly, I really wanted a three-piece-suit for him. After spending a lot of time on the J Crew wedding site, I myself had a jones: and that was for a h-o-t slim cut three piece.

Ultimately, the DKNY suits were not in his size. He did find a lovely Tallia "orange" three-piece suit. No, it's not orange, but it does have a super-snappy gold paisley lining, which is echoed on the back of the vest.

(Sadly, my camera has died, so I had to take this terrible cell phone picture. Forgive me, but at least it shows the paisley.)

Then we went downstairs and picked ties for G., my bridesdude, and the two groomsmen. G. wanted "classic" grey ties, but I said: "boring!" and he allowed me to convince him to get yellow ties that pick up the colors in the paisley.

Now, with these suddenly coordinated groomsmen, and the surprising apperance of yellow as a unifying color, I am realizing we might have something of a color scheme after all! I am going to ask the bridesmaids to wear yellow-gold jewelry, and I may incorporate some yellow flowers into my babys breath bouquet.

It's funny how these things come about, because yellow is not a favorite color of either mine or G.'s. But I loved that he chose such a spicey look for his suit, and I really wanted to play on that with the ties. So, yellow it is?

Do your color decsions -- or any decisions -- come in a completely roundabout way?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

addressing the envelopes

OK, so it's actually a lot more complicated than (not my) boyfriend to the left would have you believe!

We are getting close to really taking action with our invitations. Enough planning, plotting, discussing and designing, we're ready to print these mothers!

While we're cooking with that, I want our calligrapher to get started on the envelopes. We decided to hire Fran Heider at Little Flower Calligraphy, who I discovered from Mrs. Swan! We're even using the same font as Mrs. Swan, "social butterfly."

I have to get our addresses all ready for Fran, and a whole host of questions have come up, most of which, from my perspective, require a good balance of etiquette, patience and feminism*.

What? Oh, yes. See, one little nagging issue is the "Mr. & Mrs. His-first-name His-last-name." I plan to take Garth's last name, but that's it! I am still Julia. I'll just be Julia His-last-name. I'm me! I am not becoming Garth.

The reason why this bothers me is that when names are phrased in that manner, it suggests:

Individual Man with His Own Identity + Wife.

Uh-uh! I will be more than "wife," and all the wives I know are more than "wife."

However, I am putting these feelings aside for the most part. For folks who are my parents age, I am going easily with "Mr. & Mrs." Heck, my mom prefers that, and she is a wicked feminist.

It turns out, most of our married friends do not share the same last name. I did some checking, and discovered that you address married people with two last names in this manner:

Mr. Donald Draper & Ms. Betty Friedan

Though I suppose you would call her "Elizabeth," not "Betty," and lose the ampersand. If you want to be really correct, you write:

Mr. Donald Draper
Ms. Elizabeth Friedan

Also correct is to list the names in alphabetical order, as above.

In our case, we're listing couples in the order that we most like each member of the couple:

Mr. Bradley Pitt & Ms. Angelina Jolie

Just kidding. We're listing them in the order of who we were friends with first. I have a girlfriend whose boyfriend's last name falls before hers in the alphabet, but I have never even met him. I am certainly not putting his name first.

I also found out that if one member of the couple is a doctor, you list that person's name first, even if (gasp!) it is the woman:

Dr. Jill Biden & The Hon. Joseph Biden

Ok, kidding again -- a senator would probably come first. But I couldn't think of another famous couple where the wife was a doctor and the husband was not. Hopefully, you get the point.

Other points:

The if a child is invited, and lives at home, the name goes on the next line after the parents' (this was an issue for me because I am inviting my 19 year-old cousin, who for all intents and purposes lives at home).

What to do about middle initials? I have generally read that you either use the middle name or leave it out together. No initials.

What tricky envelope addressing issues have come up for you?

*At the risk of calling out an entire paper company, I would avoid consulting Crane's for etiquette advice. They are in the dark ages, man. If a husband and wife are both doctors, they still have the woman using her "social title," which is "Mrs." To hell with that!

Friday, September 4, 2009

giant freaking feather

One of the things I am most excited about is my reception look. I'm not changing my dress -- I love my dress too much to take it off after the ceremony. However, I am going to take of my veil and change into a feather headband!

What I am looking for is variously called a fascinator or headpiece, and often comes on a clip, comb or headband.

These are my criteria:

1.) I will be wearing my hair straight and down, so I prefer a headband over a comb. A very sturdy clip would be okay for the perfect feathers, but I really think a headband would stand up to partying much better.

2.) I want it to be big.
Ok, maybe not Carrie Bradshaw big. Maybe not the-whole-bird-on-my-head big (especially because I am looking at ostrich feathers!). But big. Big enough that people are like, "Holy crap, look at that awesome feather headband!" But not so big I look like I am in costume.

3.) Since we don't have much of a color scheme outside of our polar bear stamp/ Met Building walls green, I think I want it to be white.

4.) I want it to be under $100. A lot less, if possible!

I have been looking on Etsy for awhile, and saved these as favorites.

This is the first one I found, $24 on a "small but sturdy clip." Ok. I like it, but it reminds me of a sea creature. Also, do the feathers look cheap to you? They remind me a bit of craft feathers from Michael's.

This one is $45 and not totally white, but I think light blue is fine. It comes in a clip which is ok. I like the size and level of drama, but I wish it were fluffier, less flat.

This one is also blue, also a clip, and costs $30. And it comes with mystery free earrings! I like the variation in size and texture of the feathers.

This one is a bit more dramatic than I was aiming for, but oh, I love! Maybe I could pull it off! Isn't it delightful? I think I would feel just on top of the world in this. But I wonder if it isn't too much. But then, as soon as I say that, I think: "Too much? Pah! BE BOLD!"

$35 (yes!) on a headband (double yes!).

I love the texture on this one, too. I wish the seller had put it on a model so I could get a sense of how big it is and how it lays on the head. This one is $45 and a comb (boo).

I think this one is cute; more understated. It is more expensive, $78, and a headband. I like it.

What do you think about a giant freaking feather? Does anyone know of other places to buy such an item? Most importantly, which one do you like?

money, I need more of you! (things to buy on the internet to make your wedding pretty)

My old friend Martha Stewart is kind enough to send me emails on occassion, because she would really like to help make my wedding look nice. Recently, she alerted me to some totally awesome online retailers who sell decorations for your wedding on the semi-cheap but totally drool-worthy.

Have you ever been to a store with six million brightly colored tee-shirts or sweaters all lined up together in every color of the rainbow? That kind of product display gets me every time. It makes me want. Then I can never pick a color, because it is all the sweaters or tee-shirts that I desire, not just one. And I want to wear them all at once.
Anyhow, Luna Bazaar's website is kind of like that. They have six million things on their homepage that look so wonderful all together that I start feverishly grasping for my purse while unable to unlock my eyes from the computer screen.

A sampling:

This is just a taste of what Luna Bazaar can do for you! What should I get? What are you getting? OMG!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

something awesome

I'll most likely have somethings old, new, borrowed and blue on my wedding day, but right now I want to tell you about my something awesome.

You may remember that I have an non-traditional engagement ring: it doesn't have a solitaire setting, and the small diamonds wrap all the way around to make a branch-like shape. I love my modest ring. It is beautiful and perfectly reflects who and where were are in life, right now. However, I did not choose a modest ring because I am not into diamonds. Au contraire, baby! The more and the better jewelry, the awesomer, I say!

I was super psyched when my parents came up to visit me in May, and my mom brought her jewelry box (excuse me, she brought her travel jewelry box -- shouldn't we all have such a thing?). She explained to me that she had "found" a few diamonds, and would like to have a necklace made for me for my wedding day, which would consist of two diamonds from earrings she no longer wears, and three diamonds from my grandmother's engagement ring. Yes, please! I was so excited, and so touched.


If I thought I was excited then, it was nothing compared to when I saw my folks last week, and they whipped out a green velvet box at breakfast. The necklace was breathtaking. It hangs as a pendant on a lovely (and sturdy) gold chain. The large diamond from the engagement ring is set below the three smaller diamonds which are in an off-kilter setting that reminds me of twinkling stars. Also, as my mom pointed out, they refer subtly to my engagement ring.

You can bet your boots that I was wearing diamonds at that particular pancake breakfast!

On December 12th, I will be doubling up the diamond necklace, wearing it with an heirloom set of pearls, which were adjusted by my parents' jeweler to hang just so above the diamonds.

(I hate that I can't show you a picture of the necklace yet. Every time I turn my camera on lately, it has been making frantic beeping sounds while blinking all its lights. Hopefully, I'll get that fixed soon!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

invitation countdown & what's really important

We're getting down to the wire with our invitations. As I mentioned, we're letterpressing them ourselves. We had lots of time to do it until... we didn't! Where the hell did the summer go?

Last night, G. and I sat down and created a schedule for getting this done. We counted backwards from the day we want to send them, giving ourselves a month between the RSVP deadline and the actual wedding day. (Our RSVP deadline just do happens to be my dad's 65th birthday, as well as the day of a huge pre-wedding dinner my folks' friends are throwing!).

Our schedule includes such exciting items as "finalize invitation wording" and "sort out postage." Yes, we're in the thick of it here. I realized that the wording is not so easy as I thought it would be. I don't want just the regular stuff, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life thinking up the perfect blend of sass and romance (though I do wish I had the perfect blend of sass and romance on the tip of my tongue!).

Last night, I looked back through Weddingbee threads on RSVP card wording. I would like something a little different than accepts with pleasure and declines with regrets, so I was scouting ideas. I also was sniffing around for how to head-off any potential issues with univited "+1" guests.

I didn't solve that problem, but I do think I decided how I want the RSVP portion of the RSVP card to go:

__ Yes, please!
__ No, thank you.
__ No, thank you, but I'll send a big gift anyway!

Hopefully, I haven't made the mistake of inviting any humorless guests; I wouldn't want any remarks about my big gift joke.

Do you have any jokes incorporated into your invitations? Or anywhere in your wedding?

my "vision"

I have a vision, several motifs, and no theme. Our wedding is going to be a bit of a rag-tag collection of different ideas, and none of them fit together. I am aware of this, and it is fine with me.

You may remember our venue, the Metropolitan Building has a very Parisian, shabby-chic feel to it.
You may think that "Parisian, shabby-chic" would lead a girl expertly to a cohesive vision worthy of Style Me Pretty. You can just imagine it, right? Lots of elegant, slightly distressed detailing, maybe some lace or linen. Sigh. It practically designs itself, this space. Online I read a description of the Met Building that called it an "Anthropologie photo shoot waiting to happen."

The thing is, none of my disparate elements really fit so neatly with what the Met Building has already given us, and I'm fine with that. Essentially, we just wanted to stick with things we like, and not worry about whether they all fit together. Themes and matching make me feel nervous and confined. I would prefer to have the elements of this wedding a little strange and disparate, but also be able to have the things we like, even if they don't match.

One of the early motifs that emerged began with our STD stamps: the only postcard stamps available on were the polar bears. We liked them, and had no other choice!
I did notice, however, that some of the pale green tones in the polar bear stamp match the pale green walls at the Met Building.

Oh, ho ho! Maybe I do like a little matchy-matchy! From there, we used "sno-cone" colored paper from for our STDs.
See what I mean? There is a vision and a method, but I wouldn't say I could name it, or that it's as easily identifiable and consistent as Miss Cowboy Boot's perfectly gorgeous peach and dusty rose Santa Fe wedding. Miss Cowboy Boot's vision is so palpable that I see things all the time where think "Oh, that would be perfect for Miss CB!"

I on the other hand, don't really understand inspiration boards and am not focused enough to use one or make one. (Do you use them or make them? Or both?)

This leads me to our invitations, which feature two polar bears, one of whom is wearing a tophat!

So we have polar bears on the stamps, polar bears on the invitations ... but will you see polar bears anywhere else? No!

...But you will see Sherlock Holmes. One of the things about our wedding that causes my mother's lips to press together are our escort cards, which will be Sherlock Holmes-themed. We're going to have each table named after a Sherlock Holmes story (The Adventure of the Speckled Band, anyone?). We'll have plain, tented escort cards with each guest's name, and the name of one of the cases inside. On the table, we'll have a Holmes silhouette:

Followed by the name of the case. Who wants to be at The Adventure of the Six Napoleons? Surely everyone will!

However, aside from the table names and escort cards, there's not going to be any other Holmes stuff at the wedding. My mom is not into the Holmes idea, I can tell, but is kindly indulging me. We picked this because G. has loved Sherlock Holmes since he was a kid, and knows all of the stories. More importantly, we spent the spring of '08 renting the Jeremy Brett version from Netflix. This was a difficult period for us, plagued by work and graduate school trauma, and Sherlock Holmes was one thing we always looked forward to, and I daresay got us through.

As far as my mom is concerned -- which is pretty far, considering she is creative director of all the flowers and the rest of the decor -- the wedding will have a strong "winter wonderland/Christmas" vibe. We're going to have cut paper snowflakes sprinkled on the tables, red Amaryllis placed on tabletops, and mini Christmas trees. And a lot of wreaths.

As you can see, a lot of these projects have yet to be completed, but they are swimming in my head. I've decided that even though my polar bear-detective-Christmas-snowflake-Parisian-shabby chic wedding doesn't all fit together, I don't care. It has all the stuff that we like, and that is the most important thing.

Do you have a vision? Do you have a theme? Are you all over the place, like me? Do tell!