Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Again, I know these people!

Ginny Branch Stelling (she of the gorgeous 1920s Georgia farm wedding) just posted the video Josh Goleman made of her wedding on her blog, and it is just stunning. I wish I could get my hands on some powdered distillation of Ginny's zest for life and sprinkle it on my cereal every morning... even my dreary office would be such a lovely place! I also hope my wedding day has at least a handful of the ecstatic, magical moments Ginny and Ed's had in abundance. Without further ado, here's the video. Grab your Kleenex.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

help with favors (cont.)

So, Dad filled up the glass favor jars with honey to see how much each one would hold -- the larger one here holds about 4 ounces, by weight, and the smaller one holds 2 ounces. I included the Yoo-hoo bottlecap so you can get an idea of how big these two jars are.

My main problem with the large one is the same as before -- it would necessitate bag-checking for people flying in for the wedding. The smaller one makes me worry in terms of the amount of space I have for labeling and escort-card information... but I'm sure I could figure something out. Anyway, what do you think now: big or small jar?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

the wonderful world of cohabitation

It's been a week now since my fiance and I moved in together (a result not easily achieved in my family, but everyone seems cool with the situation at this point). The apartment we are renting is TOTALLY SWEET -- it's a perfect location (about two blocks from where I was living before), spacious and well maintained with windows in every room, a deck off the back, and a glorious front porch. Observe:

Delightful, is it not? It's even got a ceiling fan. Bliss! We've had dinner out there every night. (Please excuse the quasi-brown meal of corn and maple-glazed chicken... we ran out of broccoli the night before and didn't go to the store for more green things.) The dinette set is the landlord's -- he leaves it out there so tenants don't bring hammocks or unsightly plastic furniture and the house will always look nice from the street. It's actually in our lease that we can't hang windchimes or anything, but it's a small price to pay for the pleasure of lovely summer evenings on the porch.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wedding favors -- I need your help!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we're planning to give our guests little jars of honey from my dad's bees as wedding favors. I also wrote that I found a container supplier in Greenville, S.C., that has a warehouse in Atlanta, transfers to which come free of charge -- saves me $60+ on shipping! Done and done. What is yet to be determined, though, is what size jar we'll be using.

The folks in Greenville kindly sent me some samples in the mail (gratis!) so I can see the jars before I place a bulk order. Mom, Dad and I all agreed that the largest jar (the short, squat one on the left) is too large -- but between the other two, it's really a tossup.

In terms of capacity, the middle jar holds nearly 4 oz. and the smallest almost 2 oz. The smallest is a good favor size, and it's carryon-packable, but... is it enough? What if the guests really like honey and want more than enough for one sandwich or muffin? The middle jar is too big to be carried onto a plane (though I bet if we labeled it as a 3 oz. container it might work), but it's definitely got more than one serving's worth of space. But suppose a guest doesn't like honey at all? Then what?

Another aspect of this is that we'll be using these as escort cards so folks know which table they belong to. We'll either use stickers on the jar tops or labels tied on with twine or something, and we'll also want to label the jars more generally to commemorate the day and, of course, give the beekeeper some credit. Is the small jar too small, or would either work?

As you can see, I'm in a bit of a quandary. My cat, Little Man, seems to prefer the smallest jar, but I thought I would check and see what sort of feedback the internet would give me instead of listening to my cat...

So, what say you, readers? Taller 3-4 oz. jar, or tiny cute 2 oz. jar?

Friday, July 24, 2009

My [College] Friend's Wedding: Lucas + Michelle

A couple of weeks ago, Jon and I went to Chicago to attend the wedding of one of my good college buddies, Lucas. Lucas and Tyler, one of the groomsmen, lived down the hall from me both freshman and sophomore years -- together we watched a lot of Sunday-night movies, played a lot of games on their original NES (which lived in my dorm room with the TV), and perhaps drank too much on occasion. (Such is college, even at Northwestern.) I had looked forward to this wedding for a long time because I knew it would be an awesome mini-reunion, as well as a chance for Jon to meet more of my friends from undergrad.

A classic shot of Lucas and his groomsmen.
Hallmates Bird (Birju) and Tyler are to Lucas's
immediate left and right, respectively

Going to weddings when you're actually planning one certainly makes you watch the ceremony differently than you would otherwise, noting things you like and those you don't. Michelle entered to the introductory promenade from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an exhibition" (played by a string trio), which I really liked and hadn't heard before in that context. Jon thought it was cool that they had a moment after their vows to honor their families, which consisted of giving their mothers roses and hugs for all the parents and grandparents, I think. It was a pretty short and sweet ceremony, but gave us plenty of things to think about.

Michelle posted a link to her photographer's blog this morning on facebook, so I'll stop rambling for a bit and show you some pretty pictures:

Bond Chapel at the University of Chicago. As it happens, another
friend from college is getting married here this coming October!

This is me giving Lucas a big receiving-line hug after the ceremony

Here's the whole wedding party. Isn't this a gorgeous setting?

Since the University of Chicago is hard to get to on public transit, Lucas and Michelle arranged for a shuttle to take some of their guests from the hotel where they had blocked rooms to the ceremony and back up to the reception at Il Mulino. The reception started with a cocktail hour outside on the patio and then moved inside and upstairs to a private room for a delicious seated dinner and cake, followed by the bouquet toss. That ended up being more of a bouquet line-drive to my friend Evie, who was pretty excited about her catch:

Evie is victorious! Kara (back right) is so excited for her!

Shortly after that picture, Michelle changed into a traditional Korean dress for the first dance. The highlight of the evening, though, came when she and Lucas thanked us all for coming. After Lucas had said his piece, Michelle serenaded her guests with a stunning rendition of "Si mes vers avaient des ailes" by Reynaldo Hahn, accompanied by the string trio. Michelle was a piano major at Northwestern for a year before she transferred to another school of the university, but I had NO idea she had such a beautiful voice! After she finished, Jon asked me if I would be doing something similar... jury's still out on that one.

Anyway, as you can see, it was a lovely wedding. All of these pictures were taken by J Wiley Photography. I'll leave you with my favorite portrait of Michelle and Lucas from the photographer's blog:

So happy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Too slow,

This morning I had a countdown email in my inbox from the ever vigilant calendar robots at -- 10 months to go! I've been slightly discombobulated for the past week, having just moved apartments and entertained my fiance's parents for seven days, so I haven't been as in tune with dates as I usually am, but sure enough, the big event is getting closer all the time. I've read countless blog posts from brides-to-be who fear these Knot emails and the massive checklists that accompany them (have you hired a florist? rented a tent? bought the perfect shoes? What are you waiting for, slackass?!) and was pretty pleased with myself that, for once, I'm ahead of the game:

Start shopping? Suckers! I bought my dress yesterday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I have a dress!

I took an extended lunch break today to pick up Mom and go to Bridals by Lori -- my third visit to that store. After my last appointment there (wherein the dress I thought was meant to be mine turned out to be not so much the one for me), I was convinced I wouldn't ever find a wedding dress that felt right and fell within the ballpark of our projected budget. In a desperate fit of late-night, hours-long internet searching, I managed to single out a few contenders that gave me hope that my dream dress was still out there, waiting to be found. I rang the consultant I had worked with at Bridals by Lori, and after a week or two of emailing and finagling she confirmed that she would be able to bring in one of these dresses -- what I called Dream Dress B -- for me to try on, free of charge.

As it turns out, my third visit to Lori's this afternoon was the charm. My mom and I both loved Dream Dress B and agreed that it is very "me" and suits my personality. Of course all the ladies in the shop were over the moon about it too, but they're probably more prone to that given the business they're in. After a while of waving to the webcam and a budgetary phone call from Mom to Dad, we decided that we should take advantage of the trunk show discount and go ahead and cross this to-do off of the very long list of wedding things to be done. The ladies took me into the dressing room to get my measurements (I'm told I have a "perfect hourglass figure" -- holler) and then ushered Mom and me into an office so we could sign on the dotted line.

Bet you want to see it, right? Well. In the interest of not revealing all of my wedding secrets to the internet (given my vast readership), I'm not going to post any pictures of my dress today, though I did get to take a few. Maybe I'll share once the fittings begin... But for now, I'll show you some of the dresses I liked but did NOT get. Maybe one of these is your dream dress, if you're in the market for one!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Letterpress success!

This past Wednesday night at letterpress class I was really cookin'. I had started gathering type for project no. 2 (an announcement) last week, so I was able to pull together the rest of the type pretty quickly and get on to inking and printing after the first hour. I really feel like I'm getting the hang of it -- though in all honesty it's a pretty simple process once you get going.

Anyway, the big challenge of this project was to print in two colors. This means you have to run each piece of paper through the press twice (or, if you don't clean off the ink in between and have more than one press handy, as was my case, you can work off of two, each with a different color). I decided to do a moving announcement, as I mentioned before, since my intended and I are moving in together this weekend. Here's the end result:

Isn't it excellent? I'm really pleased with it. I mixed the inks myself and didn't screw up too many once I got them on the presses. In case you're curious, I set and printed the blue type first on the larger of the two Chandler & Price presses, then experimented with the placement of the birdie a bit on the smaller C&P before running about 40 cards through for the red type.

In terms of wedding invitations and other pieces, it's not likely that I'll set the text by hand -- the odds of not having enough of a letter-sort in whatever font I've chosen is just too high, plus the font selection at the Atlanta Printmakers Studio is somewhat limited. Eventually I'll get plates made for our invitations, which will probably make the printing process even faster. Works for me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When will then be now?

So, I've read about a lot of wedding receptions or rehearsal dinners where the bride and groom hire the local taco truck or arrange for Mister Softee to come treat their guests. But I ask you, have you ever heard of a wedding reception that featured Dippin' Dots, Ice Cream of the Future?

Mine may be the first. SO DELICIOUS.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A needle in a blogstack

For the amount of wedding-related blogs I subscribe to, the return on investment has been pretty low thus far. The cool things I see online are generally waaaay out of my price range, too time-consuming, or clearly too hip for me. (That, or my borrowed idea is shot down by my fiance or my mom.) As a result, my digital clip file is pretty limited.

One bit of blog-begat wedding inspiration has stuck, though, so I'll pass it on to you. From the very beginning, I knew I wanted our favors to be little jars of my dad's honey -- he's a lawyer by trade, but a farmer/beekeeper once the workday is out. He distributes bottles of it to his clients at Christmastime and often sends visitors to our house away with a bottle or two, so "Jim's Legal Bees" is a fairly well known brand among our friends and family. We usually have more than we can give away in a year, so I'm sure we'll have enough honey when he harvests it in a couple of weeks. Plus, it's free! All I need to do is buy the packaging, and the bees (and Dad) will do the rest.

Meanwhile, my fiance and I had been muddling over what to do with table names/numbers and escort cards to go with them. Could we use our favorite albums on vinyl as table numbers? Could we find awesome albums with numbers in their names? Books, what about our favorite books? Or maybe the coolest words in the Oxford English Dictionary? Nothing was really coming together until I came across this post on twig & thistle (posted by a Kathleen, no less -- how providential). Check this out:

Brilliant! Use the honey jars to tell everyone where they're seated! The label space is small, so that probably means we'll just stick with the usual table numbers rather than something more unusual. I love this idea not only because it rolls many functions into one object, but it also necessitates that everyone pick up his or her favor. Obviously there's no guarantee that the favors will later make it home with the guests, but it's a good start.

Finally, a helpful tip for anyone needing lots of jars for favors or any other function: I looked at glass container wholesalers online but found significantly lower prices on the same jars at Mann Lake Ltd. (a beekeeping supply store) and Package Supply & Equipment. The latter even has a warehouse in Atlanta, so I can avoid shipping costs (expensive for all that glass!) by waiting for one of the company's twice-monthly transfers to its Georgia facility. Score!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Adventures in DIY: learning letterpress

For my birthday, I asked my parents to pay the registration fee for a letterpress class at the Atlanta Printmakers Studio -- not only would I pick up a totally sweet skill, I'd also free up some wedding budget money by letterpressing my own invitations. None of this $8 per invitation-set nonsense! I'll do it for cost, thank you very much.

Anyhoo, the 8-week class started in late May, but we only just passed the halfway mark because our teacher had to cancel two sessions to go traveling. Over the course of the eight weeks we have three projects to complete, and on Wednesday I printed the first of mine! Our assignment was to come up with a phrase to go with our name, have a go at setting the type, and print a short run. I tried to be original and creative, but I kept coming back to the first lyric in the Josh Ritter song "Kathleen" (soundtrack to my engagement, if I haven't mentioned that on this blog yet): "All the other girls here are stars, you are the Northern Lights." I figured all that text and imagery would give me ample opportunity to dig around in the type drawers and find something cool. Check out the end result:

Not bad for a first-time freehander, right? I'm pretty pleased with myself. You can see in the second picture a little more detail of the impression in the paper -- I love how tactile letterpress is. Not sure exactly what I'll do with my stack of about 20 of these, though...

Next assignment in letterpress class is an announcement, something you would run a big edition of, like business cards or wedding invitations or concert posters. I think I'm going to make a change-of-address postcard, possibly printing in two colors, to send out to a few lucky folks. I'll be a letterpress champ by the time this class is through!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lay off me, I'm starving: Part II

So, we left off with five caterers down, five to go.

Two of the caterers who made it to round two were not on the preferred list at Puritan Mill, and they were both pretty great. However, the more proposals and price quotes we looked at, what had initially seemed like the be all and end all of hip delicious wedding catering turned out to be not much bang for ones buck. Out.

Another caterer had to cancel a tasting we had arranged weeks prior. You know what? They didn't look that great anyway... cross that one off the list. (These things happen for a reason!)

A third caterer was the only one with whom we had prior hands-on party experiences, all of which had been very positive, so we considered them a front-runner. Before my mom left for her Russian adventure, we spent a full hour in the caterer's office talking with the company's co-owner about the formality of the event, what sorts of foods we liked and didn't like, linens, seating and all of that. We left with the assurance that I would have a proposal in the next few days. Mom was leaving the next day, so we tentatively scheduled a tasting about two and a half weeks later.

I suspect that since this caterer knew my mom would be away, she took her sweet time pulling together a complete proposal. I waited, I emailed. Nothing. Finally she responded, saying she was just about to send the proposal... nope. More waiting. At long last, it arrived in my inbox just before midnight of the day we had originally scheduled our tasting (which had in the meantime been postponed).

I was surprised to find that the proposal had little to no bearing on the hour-long meeting we had weeks earlier. I'm quite certain we had indicated we were headed in a generally Southern direction with this menu, and all of a sudden we had spring rolls and chicken satay in the mix.

Strike one: late.
Strike two: random Asian appetizers!
Strike three: this may be petty, but MAN do I hate the font these people use on their menus. You're out.

The last decision came down to the slow-foodie Avalon Catering and Bold American. I had a great meeting with Cathy Conway at Avalon -- we talked for nearly two hours about all sorts of things, some wedding-related, some not, and really enjoyed each other's company. She was nothing but delightful, and her menus looked delicious. Her detailed proposal showed me right away that she puts a lot of thought into what will work for her clients and potential clients. I really liked the focus on local and organic foods as well.

A couple of days later, Jon and I met with Jacqui Carlyle from Bold American at Ecco, one of the Fifth Group restaurants under the B.A. umbrella. Although Jacqui was tied up with her own wedding when I initially contacted her, she assured me she'd be in touch as soon as she returned from her honeymoon, which she did. She made a great first impression! Turns out she and her husband had also retained Jesse & Whitney from Our Labor of Love for their wedding (see ridiculous wedding photos here), and I learned via their Smilebooth photos that we have a handful of friends in common, so we had plenty to talk about in addition to food when we met up. Jacqui ordered a meat & cheese plate for the three of us to share (score) and we got down to business.

I've enjoyed meals at some of the Fifth Group restaurants before, so I knew everything would be delicious. The real selling point for us is that Bold American will bring their own ovens and stoves to wherever your wedding is, set up tents so they can do their thing, and cook everything on site. No prep-kitchen warming up -- everything is prepared for you the day of at your venue. Their pricing was comparable to everything else we had seriously considered, but no other caterer offered on-site preparation.

Ultimately, the decision was pretty easy after that meeting. Bold American had caught the eye of everyone with whom I was analyzing menus, and Jacqui seemed really sharp and fun, so we signed a contract a few days later. It was such a relief to get that big-ticket item out of the way! I'm really looking forward to working with Jacqui, Jesse and Whitney -- from what I can see, they make a pretty kickass team.