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... !

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Place Card Holders: Straight out of the woods

"I got a box of wood in the mail today!"

In keeping with our wedding theme of the Adirondack woods, and our goal of having as many eco-friendly components to our wedding as possible, I went in search of place card holders.  I looked at some websites and in some craft stores, but I couldn't really find anything I liked that really spoke to me.  We discussed the idea of little Adirondack chairs, but all the ones I could find were white and looked like they belonged on a beach rather than at a cabin.  Inevitably I turned to Etsy, because it seems that no matter how hard I try to look in other places first, I always end up back here.  I'm glad I did, because I found the most awesome place card holders from This Fine Day.

They are sawed chunks of branches from a fallen tree, with slits carved in to hold the place cards.  I don't think I could have found something more "Adirondack woods" or "eco-friendly" if I tried!  I intend to make our place cards out of recycled card stock, and include a note on the back encouraging our guests to reuse the wood for something else in their home.  We plan to use any extras that we have as photo holders around our house.  If we have a lot left over, we might even let our gerbils chew on a few.

I wish computers had smell-o-vision, 
because opening this box was like stepping into summer...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Wedding Binder

Among the many reasons why I am like Monica from Friends, this one I'd like to share with you today...

...the Wedding Binder (capitalized for importance)!

I know that many (maybe even most) women who are planning a wedding put together a binder to help keep track of what/who/when/where/and how many, but when I first started this thing I was clueless!  I knew I needed to keep track of things, but I didn't really know yet which things were the most important.  Throughout all of my research on the internet and magazines, any time I saw something I liked, it went straight in the binder.  I had categories set up, but I learned pretty quickly that what I at first thought was important (hair) really needed to step aside for other things (budget).  Now that I know better, I've narrowed down my binder to the following important categories:

1. Location (...location, location! <-- this is what happens to your brain after you buy a house)  This means the ceremony location and the reception location (even if you think at first that they are going to be held in the same place).  This section started off as a bunch of printouts from websites of venues that I had researched and liked and potentially wanted to visit.  I ordered them front to back, with the ones I liked the best in the front.  Then I made some appointments, we made some visits, and we pulled out the ones that we didn't like any more.  Now that we have decided on a venue for the ceremony and the reception, those places are the only two that I left in this section of the binder.  This section contains basic web printouts, notes we took on visits, drafts of our contracts, our actual contracts, and receipts for payment deposits.  In the beginning I thought that I would want to keep even the information from places we didn't like, sort of like a souvenir of my research process, but I have recently come to realize that the only place of importance is our actual venue, and that's all I want to remember.  (Copperfield)

2. Photographer  In this section I am keeping contracts, paperwork, and ideas for photos that I like, as well as payment receipts.  I also keep a few notes that our photographer wrote to us, because I love her so much and it makes me feel good to read them again!  Just like the location section, this section started off with basic information about photographers I liked from the internet, and then it got smaller and smaller as we had interviews and chose our perfect match.  (Tiffany Wayne)

3. Officiant  I don't expect this section to be very large, but here is where I am keeping basic papers from our officiant, our contract, and copies of our receipts.  I think that I will also use this section for the creation of our ceremony, since the officiant is the one who will be running it for us.  We have borrowed a book from her about planning the ceremony, and I intend to photocopy specific pages and put those worksheets here.  (Mimi Phillips)  

4. Music & DJ In this section of my binder I can find anything that has to do with music. Our contract with the DJ, payment receipts (notice a trend here - keep track of your money!), and songs that we want to play. Our DJ also sent us a form where we can write down any traditional dances that we would like to include. Since our reception is going to include camping games, and I will need the DJ's help with this, those materials will kept in this section as we create them.

5. Guests  Pretty straightforward.  This is where we are keeping our guest list.  As it gets closer, I will include spreadsheets with addresses, accommodations (for people who are staying at the inn), and RSVP's to invitations with meal choices.  (this image is censored to protect the innocent)

6. Plan  Everyone needs a plan!  I am currently using one I found online, but they are all over the place on the internet and in wedding magazines.  They are all pretty much the same (which is comforting) and I have been using mine like a checklist.  I wrote down the month at the top of each section, and then I have a post it on my computer desktop with everything from the checklist that needs to be done that month.  (wedding channel)

7. Budget  Although this is one of the first things that a couple should create together, it is located at the back of my binder.  I'd like to say that there is some highly intelligent reason why it's in the back, but there isn't.  I just don't want to think about money (and how much this is all going to cost), so after we created the budget I just stuck it in the back.  Once you figure it all out, you can pretty much remember how much you have to spend on the important aspects of the wedding. 

8. Other  This is where everything else goes (for now)!  Here I can find inspirations for decorations, hairstyles, invitations, pretty much everything else that doesn't fit into the other categories.  This is by far the most colorful section of my binder, and one of the most fun, since I pulled most of the pages from magazines.

Although this is the best way for me to organize my Wedding Binder, I do not know if it is the best way for everyone.  What I do know, is that I have found this binder to be extremely helpful in my planning process.  Weddings are overwhelming and there have been times when I felt as though I was lost and didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, but having this binder (and especially the planning checklist) brought me right back to reality and allowed me to focus on just one task at a time.  I recommend that every couple who are planning a wedding have at least some sort of organizational system to keep track of things, something that even the most unorganized person could feel comfortable with.  Find what works for you!

If you don't feel like creating your own binder, there are tons of great ones available to buy that are already organized and ready for you to use!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Maro Designs on Etsy

After blogging about the items I wanted to add to my prop box for the photo booth, I had to go straight to Maro Designs on Etsy and get a few items that I just couldn't stop thinking about:

and my personal favorite...

the Mrs. Cyclops eye!

I love the creativity behind these props and especially the unique designs that Maro Designs offers.  They are made of a very sturdy felt, and I have no worries at all about the props holding up and lasting throughout my entire reception - even if the little kids do start running around with them.  My other favorite aspect of Maro Designs is how affordable these items were!  I've looked at a lot of stores on Etsy that make similar items, and for the high quality, these were by far the best deal for my money.

I can't wait to use them!

Disclaimer:  All images contained this blog post are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Maro Designs. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.  You may not download material from Maro Designs on the Web for your personal or commercial use.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A friend's response to: Should we register for gifts?

After reading my most recent blog post, where I questioned whether or not Ryan and I should register for gifts, my brother's girlfriend had the following response:

So I saw your blog about your debate over wedding registries and I can definitely see the dilemma. Jason and I know a couple who had a registry and got so much stuff they had to take it down and asked anyone else who wanted to get them a gift to donate to either Heifer International or the World Hunger something or other.

My opinion would be to maybe have one registry with only a few things you really want and then once those things are purchased, anyone else looking to purchase something you could ask for donations to a charity. This is what happened with Jason's friends, we saw their registry note in the invitation, but when we finally got to ordering, one registry didn't exist anymore and the other had everything already purchased. We ended up asking them about it and they asked us to make a donation to one of two charities of their choice.


I wouldn't be good at my job if I also didn't put it out there that The Pampered Chef does wedding registries. Everything will be set up online so people don't have to worry about something being "in stock" at their local Macy's or Target, etc.. They can have stuff shipped to them so they can give it to you at the wedding, or it can be shipped directly to you if they can't make it to the wedding. You will also get free products, discounted products, half-price products, 10% off anything for a year after your wedding and free shipping on your rewards order.

This is just a suggestion and please don't feel obligated to choose The Pampered Chef, but a lot of people don't know we also do wedding registries so I wanted to get you informed!

I think this is an excellent idea and we will most likely have a small registry of a few things that we need, and then from that point on ask people to donate to a charity.  And I would be a good friend if I didn't link to Erica's Pampered Chef store!
To purchase from Erica's store, follow these simple steps:
1. click on "shop online" in the top right corner
2. option 2 is to place an order without being in a show, click on "place an order"
3. a little box will come up warning you that your order will not be on a show; click on "otherwise click here to continue"
4. choose the items you would like to purchase and pay with a credit/debit card.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Should we register for gifts?

For a normal wedding, the answer to this is absolutely yes... but what about for a couple who is renewing their vows?

Earlier this week I was discussing our wedding planning with a close friend and colleague of mine, and she asked me if we were going to register for gifts.  Up until that moment, we hadn't really given it any thought.  We had sort of just assumed, since we kept our elopement secret for so long, that we didn't really deserve gifts and didn't have the right to ask for any, and therefore didn't need to register.  After all, the reason we are having this ceremony is so that we can share our love for each other with our families and they can participate in our happiness, not so that we can load up on free stuff!

I explained all this to my friend, but she pointed out that some people (meaning herself) are going to insist upon getting us a gift, and that we really should at least have an idea of something that we want or could use, so that they don't get us something we hate.  I started thinking about her point, but I still don't feel comfortable advertising to our family and friends that we are registered, because we don't want people to feel like they have to get us something.  We truly just want to spend a fun celebratory day with them.

After some discussion, we came up with two ideas:
1. Register, but don't advertise that we have registered (meaning - we won't put a little note in with the invitations like I have seen some other people do).  Then, if someone asks us we can tell them where we are registered, but people who weren't planning to get us a gift won't feel obligated or guilty if they see a little registration card.
2. Don't register, and then if people ask us about gifts, we could say that we don't need or want anything, and we would instead like it if they would donate to a charity of their choice.

We still have to make a decision about this, but one of the things I am quickly learning about planning a wedding, is that just when you thought you had it all under control, there will be something else to plan for!