Friday, July 22, 2011

Wow - It's Over!

First let me apologize. I had NO IDEA that in the months leading up to the wedding I would have absolutely zero time to blog!

Sadly, and happily, our wedding is over now, and I can honestly say that it was absolutely perfect! I will no longer be writing in this blog, as it doesn't seem appropriate any more. However, I have started a blog called Adirondack Love in which I will be sharing photos and links to help people get ideas for their own weddings - and I focus of course on an Adirondack theme.

If you'd like to see the end result of our beautiful day, you can check it out in a couple places: Tiffany Wayne's blog entries here and here. (The second link contains a video, too!)

Thank you to all my readers for sticking with me! Hopefully brides in the future will still be able to use some of the information I have shared in this blog!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Twitter Tag: Friday Favorite

I decided to start a new Twitter hashtag today: #FridayFavorite

I'm going to use this every Friday to post something that I really liked from that week.

To start it off I posted:
"#FridayFavorite is this photo of Terrarium Series No 1"

What's your #FridayFavorite this week?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Terrarium Wedding Centerpieces

I cannot even express how excited I am that I finally made the terrarium centerpieces today! I've been waiting for literally months, and even though the wedding is (eek!) just two months away, I am still scared that they might die before then. Alas, this is the ONLY time I have left between now and the wedding when I could actually make them, so they are made! I followed the directions from the Indie Bliss website and I will sort of explain my steps here and show pictures of each step along the way.

STEP 1: I filled the bottom of the 32-ounce mason jars with smooth river rocks. I wasn't sure if I was going to run out of stones, so I basically just put enough that they whole bottom of the jar was covered. In retrospect, I wish that I had put a thicker layer of stones so that they would show more, but I am still happy with the result.

STEP 2: I put in about 1/3 cup of horticultural charcoal. This helps with drainage and also helps remove yucky gases from the jars.

STEP 3: Added a good layer of potting soil. I made sure not to get any kind that had fertilizers in it, because I read that moss likes very simple dirt to grow in. I measured out about 3/4 cup of dirt.

STEP 4: Added the moss. I bought these adorable little dots of moss from silknparachute on Etsy and they were absolutely perfect for this job. They were mostly small enough to fit through the jar openings and the ones that weren't broke apart gently.

STEP 5: Miniature animals! Of course I had to use animals of the Northeast so they would fit with our wedding theme! The terrarium that will be featured on our sweetheart table has two special animals in it just for us.

STEP 6: Using twine, I added tags with care instructions so our guests will be able to take the terrariums home and keep them thriving!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wedding Ring Engraving

We took our beautiful McFarland Designs rings to a local jeweler to be engraved. 

Our rings say, "KRISTEN/RYAN IS MY CONSTANT." Anyone who has watched the LOST series knows what that means. We really like how they turned out, even though my fingers are so tiny that the words inside my ring are also small.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wedding Favors: Tree Seedlings

Weddings take away a lot of resources from the earth for a celebration that only lasts a few hours. It pained us to think about this, and when choosing what to give our guests as favors, we decided that we wanted to use this as an opportunity to give back to the earth for all that it has given us. I've been to several weddings where I received a favor that was cute, but not really useful, and not anything that was really meaningful. We want to avoid this, and so we have decided that for our favors we are going to give... tree seedlings!

We found a company right here in New York state called Tree Beginnings that offers a variety of different gifts for all types of occasions, all of which can be planted. Almost all of the items from this store come with free personalization in the form of little cards, slips that attach to the gifts, colors, and even packaging. We chose blue spruce seedlings wrapped in natural burlap with a green raffia bow. We figured that these fit the theme of our wedding best (the Adirondack woods) and had the lowest impact on the environment.

I was able to order one seedling as a sample just to make sure we liked them before ordering all 50 that we will need. I think this is a good idea for anyone who has to purchase mass quantities of something and isn't able to look at it first.

We realize that not everyone is able or will want to plant a tree after going home from our wedding, and we have a plan for that. We are going to put a little sign (in one of the picture frames we bought from Rustic Blend - see blog post here) on the table with the seedlings letting our guests know that if they do not want to take a tree and will not plant it, that it's ok to leave it on the table. We are also going to encourage any of our guests with larger property or a greater desire to take care of a tree to take more than one if there are some left over. Then, if all else fails, we will take the rest of the seedlings home and plant them ourselves in our own yard.

We are also going to use one of these seedlings during our vow renewal ceremony in which we have incorporated a tree planting ritual. I think this will be a really nice way to tie it all together and promote the idea that we are all on the same planet and our love is universal.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wedding Reception Games

We want our reception to feel very relaxed and have an atmosphere that mimics a happy family gathered at a campground. We decided to incorporate some games into the reception to make sure that everyone gets involved and isn't bored (especially the large number of people in our families who don't like to dance), but we are shying away from "traditional" reception games. Instead, we want to have games that families might play while camping!

So far we have decided that we want to play wedding Mad Libs and have fortune tellers (some people call them cootie catchers). I will write up the story for the Mad Libs game and we will have a contest and give prizes to the guest who writes the funniest story and the guest who rights the sweetest story. There is a great Etsy shop called Darling Girl Paper that make fortune tellers and I think they are adorable!

We've got those two games, but now we are are stuck! What other ideas do people out there in the world have for cute easy games that would remind people of camping with family? We need your help!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wedding Cake

One of the most challenging things about planning a wedding that isn't near your home, is finding trustworthy and quality vendors. Specifically, we needed to find vendors close to our ceremony and reception location for things like chair rentals, hair styling, and wedding cake. The internet has been a tremendous help in this search, especially the Adirondack Wedding Association, which is how I found our cake vendor - Stomach Cakes!

The website for this cake business showcases Laura's talent in creating uniquely beautiful cake designs, as well as her willingness to create an original and custom design. This drew me right in and I contacted her to find out about making the cake for our vow renewal.

We met for a tasting and to discuss design, and Ryan and I couldn't be more pleased with our choice. Laura is going to make a cake similar to the picture below, but not exactly the same. It will look like a birch tree, have fern embellishments, and have our initials "carved" into the side. It is so cute and fits with our theme perfectly! We tried our choice of two flavors at the tasting, Ryan wanted peanut butter cake and I wanted chocolate. We ended up totally loving both, but having a serious crush on the peanut butter cake, so we are going to layer both flavors in each tier. That way if some people don't like the peanut butter they can just eat around it (and we already know that we don't have any peanut allergies to worry about).

This is a cake we really liked when searching images on the internet to get ideas.

This is a similar cake that Laura has already created.

So far, this has been one of the most fun and least stressful aspects of the wedding planning, and we both highly recommend that any couple planning a wedding in the Adirondack region consider hiring Laura from Stomach Cakes to make your cake!

A note on the same: No, these cakes do not have stomachs in them! They are "cakes so good it aches"! Also, Laura used to be a school nurse, so you can put it all together!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Inky Livie: Wedding Invitations

There are so many different types of wedding invitations out there that no matter what we chose it would have been the right choice, but we still felt overwhelmed. Once again, Etsy saved the day! We found adorable invitations from Inky Livie that totally fit with our wedding theme, and are casual enough that we are comfortable using them for the vow renewal. The weight of the trifold cards is substantial and the printing is spotless, plus Asa was great at communicating through Etsy conversations.  They were printed on 30% recycled material paper from Waste Not Paper, so that helps us to limit our environmental impact as we celebrate. Check it out!

I love the little foxes!

We decided to let all of our guests choose a song to be played at the reception:

Instead of numbering our tables, we are naming them after our favorite campgrounds:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

JJCraftworks: Custom Wedding Jewelry

I thought finding jewelry for my wedding would be easy. I thought I would see exactly what I wanted and purchase it. I thought that my style and taste was common. I was wrong.

Thank goodness for Etsy! I decided to requisition custom jewelry from JJCraftworks. I knew that I wanted my necklace and earrings to have some green to complement my shoes, and I wanted five pearls to represent our five years of marriage (just like the five stones in my new wedding ring). I also wanted something that would tie in to our nature theme, but I wasn't quite sure what that would be.

I communicated all of this to Jenn and she sketched up some ideas.

I decided that I liked the "leaf link" design best, and chose the pearl color I wanted.  Jenn asked me questions all along the way and kept me in the loop during her creation process.  In the end I was provided with exactly what I wanted!  My advice to brides looking for the perfect jewelry is to explore Etsy, find a shop that sells jewelry in a style that you like, and start a conversation with the owner.  More often than not I have found that Etsy sellers jump at the chance to make a custom piece, and it never hurts to ask!

PS: Have I said yet how much I love my new camera?!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rustic Blend: Birch Bark Frames

In keeping with our rustic Adirondack theme we didn't want to forget about the table numbers.  Many couples create table numbers that match the look of their invitations or escort cards, but we wanted to do something different.  I found an amazing shop on Etsy called Rustic Blend that makes birch bark photo frames - and the best part is that the owner lives in the Adirondacks!  This is just perfect for us, because not only are we able to keep with our visual theme, we are able to keep with our environmental theme by purchasing from a local craftsman!

I started a conversation with the owner, Faith, through Etsy and we came to the agreement that she could make us ten frames that all look slightly different but are the same size and made of the same materials.  We intend to use most of them for table identification, two will have information about favors and escort cards, and the rest will have photos from our "I Love You" photo shoot.  I say table identification instead of table numbers because we are actually going to name each of our tables after a favorite campground.

I love these frames!  They are high quality, sturdy, and beautiful.  Each frame holds a 4 x 6 photograph.  They came with little dowels to be used as stands, and can rest vertically or horizontally based on our needs.  

Faith even gave us a cute little ornament with our initials on it! ♥

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tuxedo or Suit?

When deciding on menswear for the wedding, it is important to keep in mind a few things:
  1. Formality - How formal is your wedding?  If you want to keep things traditional, then a tuxedo is the way to go.  If you are trying to keep it more casual, then perhaps a suit is the better option.
  2. Overall Look - What is the look you are trying to achieve?  How do you want the men to appear in photographs?
  3. Price of Renting versus Buying - Renting a tuxedo is not super expensive, but it's a significant cost.  Would you rather spend the extra money and own a suit that could be worn again in the future?
When considering all of those variables, and factoring in the fact that it is only Ryan and my father who need matching attire, we decided that suits were the best option for our wedding.  We looked at some pictures online and liked the appearance of a vest and suit pants, with the jacket taken off.  We also considered colors, and thought that brown would be our first choice, and gray our second choice.

Having made those decisions, we chose two stores to look at - the first was Macy's and the second was Men's Wearhouse.  I have to say, I didn't think that choosing the menswear would be equal to or more stressful than choosing my wedding dress, but it was - and it was a lot less fun.

In both stores, as soon as we crossed the threshold salesmen were attacking us from all sides.  Ryan really just wanted to look around a little bit and get his thoughts together before asking for help, but they wouldn't let this happen.  We didn't even see anything that we liked at Macy's, because they only had one vested suit and it was the totally wrong fit for both Ryan and my father, so we spent a very short time there.

Hoping that Men's Wearhouse would give us a different sales experience, we went over there with high spirits, but were greeted with the same thing.  When describing the look we wanted to the salesman, he was very discouraging and basically tried to tell us that "three-piece suits aren't really being made any more," even though I know that can't be true.  Even though they are not as popular, we all knew that they are still being made, and he should have just showed us what he had.  Instead, he showed us the "only two" vest separates that they had in the store, neither of which were what we were looking for.

At this point, we felt that the image we had in our minds wasn't going to work, and we needed some time to rethink what we wanted to do - alone... without a salesman breathing down our necks.  Unfortunately, this wasn't going to happen.  We explained to the salesman that we wanted a little time to just look around and think and that we would come get him when we were ready for help again, and he left us alone for a few minutes, but very shortly after a second salesman came over to see if we needed help.  We politely declined, but in the amount of time it took us to turn around the original salesman was back again!

My father suggested that he and Ryan just try on a few things, and maybe the act of trying on suits would spark an idea.  Once again my dad has proven that fathers really do know best!  Great advice, Dad!  We couldn't find a lot of brown suits that didn't look like potty colors, so we decided instead that a dark gray pinstripe would be nice.  While pulling jackets off the rack for Ryan to try on, lo and behold, the salesman found a few gray pinstripe three-piece suits with vests!  If he had just let us look at his stock of vested suits to begin with, the whole process would have been a lot easier!  It even turned out that the first vested suit Ryan tried on was perfect and exactly what we were looking for, and they had it in sizes to fit both men!


Thankfully, picking out the rest of the ensemble was much easier than finding the suit itself.  The salesman, Ryan, my colorblind father, and I pieced together a shirt and tie combination that is going to look amazing.  We decided against a clean white dress shirt, since Ryan intends on wearing only the vest without the jacket, and if he stands next to me in my ivory dress wearing a bleached white shirt, I am going to look like dirty teeth.  Instead, we chose an ecru color, which will make my dress seem brighter.  They have quite a lot of ties to choose from at Men's Wearhouse, and we were easily able to choose a tie that complimented both the suit and shirt, and also had sublte touches of green to compliment my shoes and our wedding colors.

Although we had to deal with some pushy and not-always-helpful salesman today, Ryan and I both like Men's Wearhouse a lot.  This is actually the third suit he has bought from that store, and they always have a really great selection of shirts and ties to fit his needs.  The prices are great as well - today he got a deal that allowed him to buy a second suit for $100, which worked out great since we needed two suits.  It didn't matter that one was for my dad and one was for Ryan, as long as they were paid for together.  Overall we are very happy with the purchase and I look forward to seeing two of the three men I love most in the whole world look amazing on our wedding day!  

(I'm sure my brother will look amazing, too!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

This blog is called: I Heart Mimi Phillips

This evening our wedding officiant, Mimi Phillips, came over for a visit so we could discuss the progress we've made on our wedding ceremony.  Wow, she's amazing!  I don't think we could have found a sweeter more understanding person to marry us {again} if we'd looked for two more years.  She remembered us on a such a personal level from only one meeting, and even wanted to know how our wine turned out - which we told her we were going to make several months ago.

Back in October when we met Mimi for the first time she loaned us a book called The Wedding Ceremony Planner and we've been reading through it for a couple of months.  Aside from the fact that the author lives in the town next over from where Ryan grew up, I love this book because it breaks down every little part of the ceremony and has worksheets in the back (which appeals to the teacher in me).  We picked out all the different wording that we wanted for the parts of the ceremony and wrote down our favorites on a photocopy of one of the worksheets.  We even found a tree planting ritual in the book, which is absolutely perfect for us, and we are really excited to include this in our ceremony.

We found that, although this took a good chunk of time to do, it was really easy and very worth it.  Thankfully, Ryan and I agreed almost unanimously on which wording was the best for us; however, we are still having trouble finding the right vows.  We didn't really feel like any of the vows in this book fit our personalities, and we can't seem to find what we are looking for on the internet.

This is where Mimi comes in.  She came over to our house and we all sat down together to look at what Ryan and I had been working on over the last several months.  Mimi looked at our worksheet and copies from the book and then dove right in reading aloud the ceremony as we had planned it thus far.  It was really nice to hear her read it aloud, since she will be the one reading it on the day of our ceremony, and it gave us a chance to edit as we went when we heard something that didn't seem right.  Our next step, now that the three of us have combed through the wording, is for Mimi to type everything up and let us look at it, and then work together on finding or creating the vows that are perfect for us.  She plans to practice reading our ceremony a few times and let us know how long it takes her to read.  We are concerned about length, because it will be a July afternoon and could be very hot.

After we looked through the ceremony plans, Mimi stayed for a little while to chat.  We talked about what we have planned so far, looked at pictures of the ceremony site, and ogled over our new wedding rings.  This was especially important because we also had the opportunity to talk to Mimi about our lives on a more personal level and discuss things unrelated to the wedding.  She helped us brainstorm some ideas for things we are having trouble with, and counseled us a little bit on how to deal with Ryan's divorced parents during the ceremony and reception.  This was really important to us, because there are some things that we are going to need some outside perspective in figuring out how to handle, and she has probably seen just about every situation out there at this point in her officiating career!

Mimi is such a great person that we even recommended her to our close friends Erin and Mike, who are getting married in August.  It may seem weird to some people, but I think it would be really cute for us to have the same officiant, and I know that we would really like to see Mimi again after our ceremony!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Blogging and The Environment

Earlier this week I was asked by Milena of There Is Always Room if I would like to be a guest blogger!  As a professional organizer, this month her blog focuses on wedding planning.  She was interested in my ideas about not using any live flowers (or flowers at all, for that matter) in our upcoming wedding.  I was very honored to be asked to do this and I hope everyone will take some time to visit Milena's blog!
Reflecting on my post about not using flowers, I started to wonder if people actually knew the environmental costs of cutting live flowers for use as decoration.  There are a variety of sources explaining the environmental and social costs of the cut flower industry, and when researching one has to be careful to make sure the source is reliable.  A site that I particularly like is a blog called Reduce Footprints.  They published an article in December 2008 explaining the negative impacts of cutting flowers, and also offers some ways to keep flowers around in a more environmentally conscious manner.  Please take some time to learn more about the environmental impacts of the actions you take!

I've read the following environmentally conscious books and I highly recommend reading them (or watching the movie for the first one if you don't like to read... which hurts me to say, because I am English teacher):


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Etsy Treasury

Maybe I am behind the times, but I just discovered Etsy Treasury, and I love it!  Treasuries are listings of 16 items that a person has chosen to group together for a specific reason, such as items of the same color, theme, or search word (and sometimes for no reason at all).  An individual can create as many treasuries as she wants and then choose to share them with the public or keep them private.

I had a lot of fun playing around with it and I decided for my first treasury I would find items that reminded me of a woodland romance (just for fun).  This is what I came up with:

Then I thought - why not create a treasury of items that I love from Etsy which fit my wedding theme?  So I did!  I chose many of the items that I have already purchased for the wedding from Etsy sellers, and I chose a few others that fit the theme and I loved.  I wanted to embed the treasury into my blog, but Etsy does not have an embed code for treasuries, so they suggested that I add all of the items to my favorites list and share what is called an Etsy Mini. Have fun and create one yourself! I'd love to see what other people come up with!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wedding Rings: Ethically Sourced and Environmentally Friendly

When trying to plan a "green" wedding, it is easy to think about recycled paper and planting trees, but what many people forget is that wedding rings can be harmful to the earth as well.

Tamara McFarland, of McFarland Designs, creates jewelry made with recycled metals and conflict-free stones. She also donates a portion of her sales profits each month to a different charity in order to help make the planet healthier and happier.  Because of her dedication to earth-friendly ideals, we chose her to create our custom wedding rings.

I feel it is important to share some excerpts from Tamara's website which explain some of the issues surrounding metals and gemstones and how she goes about trying to use these materials in conscious ways:

I use 100% recycled Harmony Metals and fair trade stones in my designs. I realize that the terms ‘ethical’ and ‘fair trade’ are somewhat subjective at this moment in time in the jewelry industry, as there are no established guidelines yet for fair trade metal and gemstone mining.

"All precious metals at Hoover & Strong are 100% recycled. When it is necessary to obtain metals from other sources, we buy metal from other earth-friendly refineries that, like us, only use recycled metal. We require any secondary refinery to provide in writing, full disclosure of their metal sources."

The situation with gemstones is a bit more complicated. Everyone has different ideas about what the best ways are to protect workers and the environment, and as with many other ethical conundrums, it can be tough to know what the right decision is. While I am always open to considering other perspectives, here’s what I’m comfortable with right now – (1) lab-created stones, (2) stones that are mined and cut in the US, and (3) stones obtained from outside the US through channels that can be verified to be promoting environmental health, worker safety, and local communities.

With all this transparency about Tamara's material sources, we decided that she was perfect for us.  Although there are other jewelers out there who try to work in a similar fashion, we were sold on Tamara's honesty on her website, quality of previous work, and the ease with which we were able to communicate with her about what we wanted.  After several emails back and forth discussing different options, Tamara created these beautiful rings for us out of recycled 14k white gold:

Initially we had tried to incorporate a diamond that we had been given by a family member, but it was difficult because I wasn't comfortable shipping it across the country, and the ring design I really wanted (which is what we ended up choosing) wasn't going to work with that stone.  The ring that was designed for me has 5 stones - one for each year we will have been married at the time of our vow renewal.  They are alternating moissanite and emerald, which are our birthstones (moissanite is a lab-created stone, similar to a diamond).

We love our rings so much, that I am considering having McFarland Designs create earrings and necklace for our wedding day as well.  

For more information about diamond mining, check out this book:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A visit to the Copperfield Inn

This afternoon, Ryan and I took a trip up to Copperfield to get another look at the ceremony and reception sites, meet with the sales manager, and finalize some plans.  We are a little more than 5 months away from the wedding at this point, and I highly recommend that a couple about to be married make a second visit to their ceremony site at this point in the planning process.  It was a wonderful chance for us to reconfirm that we love the areas we picked, and it put my mind at ease, as well as giving me some additional information which I needed in order to proceed with planning.

We arrived a bit early for our appointment, and since the property where we are holding the ceremony is a park across the street from the inn (called the Kellogg Property), we decided to take a walk over and check out the ceremony site again.  Even though we had to traipse through half a foot of snow to get there, I am glad we did it.  It allowed us to visualize where we want chairs, what direction we want people to face, where my father and I can hide before we are ready to walk down the aisle, and where people can park if they don't want to walk across the street from the inn.  We rented chairs from Bullseye Party Rentals in Glens Falls.  They are going to deliver, set up, and remove the chairs for us on the day of the ceremony.  Today we tried to figure out exactly where we would like the chairs to be placed inside of the pavilion.

Life Lesson #1: If you are going to bring your camera to take pictures of something, make sure you didn't accidentally leave the memory card in your computer at home.  I forgot to put my memory card back in my camera before we left, so I had to use my phone to take pictures today.

After our walk through the snow, we met with the sales manager to talk about some details.  My first goal was to get rid of all the things that had previously been written as "To Be Determined" in our contract.  At this point, I want everything to be set, and I don't want to leave anything up in the air.  This meant that we decided on the time for the cocktail hour and reception, chose the cocktail hour location, and made sure that enough of our guests had booked rooms so that we wouldn't have to pay a fee.  This was all really easy and put me at ease.  Now that we know what time the reception is set to begin, I can order invitations!  The sales manager also talked to us about the location of tables for gifts and place cards, and where we can have the DJ set up.  She showed us some of the items the inn has available to us for use as decorations.  This mostly consisted of hurricane lamps.  They are bigger than the jars I purchased for the terrarium centerpieces, so I don't think I will use them on the main tables, but I might be able to utilize them for the gift and place card tables.

We looked at the linens, talked about the menu, and chit-chatted about how we might want to have the evening run - as far as dances, announcements, etc.  We made sure that the doors to the patio could be opened during the reception - which is not only a beautiful option if the weather is nice, but important for our guests who need to go outside to smoke (yuck).

We will be having the cocktail hour in the front half of what is called the Great Room.  (horrible picture to follow - stupid cell phone...)

And the reception will be held in the back half of the Great Room.  This room has doors that open onto a stone patio, which is very lovely, but it was much too cold to go outside for a look today.  The wall in the middle of the room folds open or closed as needed (and sort of reminds me of the cafe-gym-atorium that we had at my elementary school).

Since we don't have wedding attendants to help us with things, and we won't be having a florist, I had a concern about how to get the tables decorated and when and who would do this.  The sales manager said that two things could be done - either we could set the tables up ourselves the evening before, or we could make a sample table in the morning and the inn staff could then copy what we had done.  Since we are only going to need six tables, we decided that we would be most comfortable setting them up ourselves the night before.  That way we don't have to worry that they are done right and we can set it aside and not have to think about it the next day.

To end our wonderful visit to North Creek, we chose to eat lunch at Trappers Tavern, which is located inside the inn itself.  We have to get photos taken in here by Tiffany before our wedding is over.  This place it so cool!  If it were big enough, we would seriously have the reception right inside the tavern.

Life Lesson #2:  If you think you took a picture on your phone, double check to make sure you actually clicked the button.  I thought I took three or four pictures while we were eating lunch, but I apparently only took one...

We had such a nice time here today, that we decided to come here after our reception is over.  The party could continue all night!

Now on to the next step - choosing the menu... !