Monday, August 31, 2009

fuzzy math for weddings

After church yesterday I spent nearly three hours at my parents' kitchen table, typing information into mom's wedding software, recommended to her by my aunt who recently planned her own daughter's nuptials. The software serves many purposes -- budgeting, keeping track of meal selections, giving etiquette tips -- but we were after one thing and one thing only: the guest count.

Mom and I have both been dreading this, but we need to start gathering addresses and I need to order the paper on which to print our invitations, so we braced ourselves for the worst and got crackin'. I uploaded all of the names from my working list into the program and then had to go through and sort them into households (helpful for determining the number of invitations we'll need). Once we had everyone matched up correctly and with first and last names, we went down the list line by line, putting each guest into a invitation category (see chart below) and rating the likelihood of his or her attendance. The software gives you five choices between yes and no -- almost certain, likely, 50-50, unlikely, and highly unlikely -- and we tried to err on the side of people accepting our invitation.

Here's the latest pie-chart breakdown of the guest list,
though I'm certain I mislabeled a few folks...

When we were all done, Mom and I were relieved to see that the number the program computed as our projected attendance was 214 -- not too much bigger than our target crowd of 200. Of course, those 14 extra people would add a good chunk of change to the bill, but at least we don't have to try and cut, like, 60 people now. Glory!

What do you think -- would you trust a wedding-software formula to help you decide how many people to invite? Or is something like Emily Post's book of wedding etiquette, citing an industry-expert prediction that 15 - 20% of invited guests will decline, a more reliable source of guest-list wisdom?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

too soon?

Is it too early for me to use the excuse of a spring shower or party to buy this dress?

I tried it on the other day and it's ridiculously cute, if a bit unseasonable for the next seven months or so. Want! Must have!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Envy me, non-spring brides!

Friday evening my mom and I braved the after-work ATL traffic and trekked out to Marietta to meet with Julie Coffin of Unique Floral Expressions. It turned out to be our first and last florist-scouting trip. Huzzah! (Good thing, too, because I'm not sure how many hour-and-forty-minute meetings I can squeeze into my schedule!)

We've both been a bit anxious about the floral/decorative aspects of the wedding -- mostly because a frugal friend of ours told us she had a "reasonable" florist for her daughter's wedding at a cost of about $5,000. So we really had no idea what to expect. I had brought lots of magazine pictures along, mostly dahlia-centric ones. Unfortunately, dahlias are a maybe around our date, depending on how the season has gone up to then, but I'm really pleased with what Julie came up with.

In the dahlia's stead, I'm currently planning on having a stunning red peony (or five) in my bouquet. (Hence the title of this post. Does anybody else on the wedding blog circuit read an inordinate amount about brides lusting after peonies?) Aside from dahlias, hydrangeas, and bold, bright colors, I apparently didn't have a good idea of what else I might like, so Julie dug in and started asking questions. The three of us pored over books and charts showing all the kinds of flowers, complete with sciencey names, and all the colors of each sort. We looked at what would be in season, and what would be most economical -- especially for the altar arrangements at Trinity, which, frankly, no one but us and the choir at church the morning after will see up close.

Julie talked to her wholesaler early Saturday morning before she left town for a few days and turned around an estimate that came in slightly under what we had said we were looking to spend -- bonus! She even priced out a candle-oriented centerpiece that we could sub in as needed, and will get back to us with a ballparkish figure on the round paper lanterns that I would love to have hanging from the rafters at Puritan Mill. Mom and I both agree that she will be a lot of fun to work with!

I have to give a shout-out to Ashley Baber of Ashley Baber Weddings -- we've retained her services for day-of coordination, but clearly she's helping with a lot more than that. She hooked us up with Julie, who has worked at Trinity in the past and has two weddings this fall at Puritan Mill. Normally we would price around for services, but Ashley gave us the perfect recommendation for this vendor. Thanks, Ashley!

Friday, August 28, 2009

On a blue streak

In keeping with the theme of the week, I am happy to share with you part of my "something blue" for the wedding. It's actually seven blue somethings... my bridesmaids' dresses! After a try-on marathon at Bella Bridesmaid, a perusal of the selection at Bridals by Lori, and an appointment at the Lenox Square J. Crew (where they have the wedding collection), it has finally been decided. The girls will be wearing J. Crew's Robin dress in mediterranean blue:

the pretty back of the dress, in another color

This has been my favorite all along, but I wanted to be sort of democratic about the process. The opinion that mattered most was my sister's. When she and I went to J. Crew, along with another one of my bridesmaids, we all decided that the silk chiffon fabric was too casual to go with my dress or the time and setting of the wedding. That helped us narrow things down to just one fabric, the silk tricotine, which only came in three styles. The Cecilia dress, with cap sleeves, was a little frumpy looking, and the Sophia too matronly. That left the Robin, which was just right!

Before I made the official call, I ordered one (with free shipping!) for one of the bustier gals in the lineup to see if she felt comfortable, and also so I could see the color in whole-dress form (as opposed to on a swatch.) That came in earlier this week: the color is perfect, and it fit my friend like a dream!

There are many advantages to purchasing bridesmaids' dresses from J. Crew, I think. The fabric is just lovely. It feels like real fabric -- not that crappy, stiff, polyester taffeta typical of wedding-party attire. If you order the wrong size, you can just send it back in and exchange it, potentially saving on alterations. And, although many brides make the claim that their dresses can be worn again, it seems like many of these really can be.

I was thrilled to have found my girls a nice dress that rang up under $200. Of course, with tax, this one doesn't... but if I sign up for a J. Crew credit card, I get 10% off of my first order. Better still, I found out the other night that if I start a card there between August 27 and September 7, I will get 20% off of my entire first order! AND J. Crew will ship the dresses to multiple addresses -- for free! This means that instead of paying $210.60 for their dresses, my buddies will only have to fork over $168.48 -- which is about what I paid for my most recent bridesmaids ensemble from David's Bridal. Everybody wins!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can I offer you a Bride-tini?

I'm not sure when people started making up fruity drinks for weddings, but I've always thought that "signature cocktails" were sort of lame -- that is, unless one actually had a signature cocktail, or at least a long history with a particular libation. What if the guests just want a good bourbon and water and not a "blushing bride" or a "groom & tonic" or whatever?

As I've learned more about the art of putting on a wedding, though, I've discovered that the signature cocktail serves a purpose beyond cheesying up the proceedings -- it's actually a budgeting trick. Instead of having a full open bar, people will offer just wine, beer and their signature cocktail, which limits the kinds of liquor required for the event. Clever!

I mentioned this to my mother the other day and, while I'm not much of a cocktail gal these days, it got me thinking. If I were a signature cocktail, what would I be? And, as I fell asleep that night, it came to me: The Mirthmobile!

The original Mirthmobile, of Wayne's World fame

What would go into the Mirthmobile I don't yet know, though I am certain it would be very blue, with perhaps a layer of orange or yellow at the top (for the flames). Knowing me, it would have to involve some grenadine. If I wanted to be really showy about it there's always the option of lighting the cocktail on fire (for a more literal interpretation of flames), though I think a garnish like the one at right is perhaps a safer route to go.

Of course, if I really wanted to be true to my inspiration, the Mirthmobile cocktail would have to look like this one:

Zang! At that point, I doubt I would be saving any money on the liquor tab.

So readers, tell me -- if you were a cocktail, what would you be? Do you think signature cocktails at a wedding are lame or fun? Would you rather have your run of the bar?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

budget blues

Numbers sure do add up quickly when it comes to weddings. On the one hand, I feel like we are in great shape because we've gotten a ton of the important things booked and out of the way. On the other hand, because we've gotten a ton of the important things booked and out of the way, the remaining funds are dwindling -- and I've still got more things to do (and pay for) than I can count on my two hands.

Our favors -- jars of Dad's honey -- will be inexpensive, and they'll also be personal and local, so we've got the best of all possible worlds there. I'm saving several hundred dollars by designing and letterpressing my own invitations, even with studio time and printing plates included. (Unfortunately there is no discount on postage... that remains a large chunk, no matter who makes the invitations. Boo!)

But I'm looking at my to-do list for other items that can be trimmed. I'm particularly antsy about the floral/decor category. Any of y'all out there in cyberspace have ideas for awesome and budget-friendly centerpieces? Thoughts on keeping your floral expenses low? I'm all ears.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the tastings begin...

Yesterday Jon, my mom and I trucked up to Norcross to do our first official cake tasting at Celso's Cakes. (I say "official" because Jon and I stopped by Rhodes Bakery on Saturday morning to check out their no-appointment-necessary weekly tasting, where we were unceremoniously presented two slabs of pound cake atop a Styrofoam plate with icing piped across them and a pair of yellow-cake cupcakes. Free? Yes. Tasty? Meh.)

Celso's came highly recommended from two recent mothers-of-the-bride -- one from Mom's former place of work, and one from my current office -- so we went into it with high hopes and were not disappointed. However, while the cake was perfectly delicious, it was all sort of... boring.

Surely I'm more interesting than white cake with white chocolate and raspberry filling and buttercream, I found myself thinking later. I don't even like fruity fillings in cake! Jon, who had been brainstorming ideas for a cool groom's cake, seemed to be persuaded in the moment to go with a standard-issue chocolate truffle layer cake with two tiers. Unacceptable! I practically demanded he revert to his earlier plan of some exciting fondant creation. (Of course, we'll have to see how much these things cost. My cake will be relatively simple, as pictured above, so I'm hoping Jon will do something awesome.)

Aside from the white cake with a touch of raspberry and white chocolate filling, we tried white cake with Bailey's filling, almond cake with amaretto filling (which was way better than I thought it would be, given that I dislike both of those flavors), white cake with a very pink strawberry mousse filling, chocolate truffle cake with ganache (which practically knocked me out of my chair) and a lighter chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling.

My favorite cake, in all of cakedom, is probably spice cake. Otherwise, if I could dream something up to suit my fancy, it would probably involve minty icing. The former will be technically out of season for a May wedding, and the latter probably also out of season and not very weddingy, to boot... but who the hell cares? Spice cake knows no season, in my book. Neither does minty stuff.

Next on the list for taste-testing? Highland Bakery, Frosted Pumpkin, and Caryn's Cakes. Maybe Matty Cakes, too... we'll see. Hopefully one of these folks will offer me something more exciting than white on white with white-flavored filling. Caryn has spice cake and a cookies & cream filling, so it seems like she's on the right track... plus, she went to Syracuse! Maybe there's an alumni discount we can exploit...

What about y'all? What's your favorite kind of cake?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Countdown with the Knot

I outfoxed the Knot last month by getting my dress a day before their shop-for-a-dress reminder, but that victory was sadly temporary. Today marks nine months until our wedding (and it's even a Saturday!), and the Knot was back again to tell me that this month I am supposed to create the guest list, find save-the-dates, and get "tradition ideas." Oy!

I think I already have an idea of traditions -- those I like and those I don't. There will be no unity candle and no garter removal; I'm undecided on a bouquet toss; and I'm gonna do that old, new, borrowed, blue thing, in addition to using a pretty traditional Presbyterian format for the ceremony. There are undoubtedly more I'm glossing over, but that's for another post.

As for save-the-dates, we've got 'em! Well, we know what they will be. We don't have the final artwork yet, but it will be here eventually. CHECK.

That leaves the dreaded guest list. After I got home from the beach, where I spoke with a recently-married cousin a lot about her wedding experience, I felt certain that I could easily trim off some names. When I looked at the spreadsheet, though, it was harder than I thought. I did cut, but mostly from the B-list. (Yes, I have one; no, I probably won't use it as such.)

I'm learning to let go of social circles that no longer apply and instead focus on my/our current relationship with potential invitees. I was quite proud of myself for striking a college buddy with whom I haven't spoken much since I graduated and whom I had included simply by merit of inviting everyone else from that group. Baby steps, right? One down, 60 or so to go!

Friday, August 21, 2009

another font option...

I spotted this font called Feel Script last night on Nothing but Bonfires (via iDiy). It's pretty nice, don't you think?

Here's a sample:
And here's another in all-lowercase, as on the invitation from which I stole the font:

Sorry about the poor quality on those. Anyway, it's nice and all, but is it worth $99 for the font? All the fonts I have been looking at cost something, but none more than $50. I figure I can spend a little bit on the design elements since I'm printing the invitations myself. I'm really hoping I can figure out how to install a font, though, or else I'm SOL.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the traditional registry

There are just some things that a bride-to-be has to register for -- things that, by merit of price and counterspace-consumption, indicate that you are a reasonably self-sufficient grownup, whether or not you purchased said things for yourself. The KitchenAid stand mixer is one such item, and I have my sights set on this one:

It's like a shiny new car! This is the special edition 90th anniversary (of KitchenAid) mixer -- my inside sources tell me it's only around until Christmas. The best part about this one is the glass mixing bowl with the measuring ticks (in place of the usual stainless steel bowl). No more fishing about with a spatula to see if the flour is fully integrated into the batter or stuck to the bottom! Delightful.

I come from a long line of kitchen-savvy ladies, so I expect I'll get a fair amount of use out of the inevitable stand mixer. If I'm lucky, I will eventually become a cheesecake master like my mother... but that's probably a few decades off.

Are you forgoing any typical registry items, or are you excited about getting some of the usuals?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's in a font?

Although letterpress class is over, my final project -- the wedding invitations -- won't be done for a couple more months. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to my progress is the fact that I don't know my way around Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and thus, I have no ability to design anything... yet. (I plan to remedy this next week by taking a 2-hour intro course on each program at the WonderRoot Community Arts Center.)

Aside from my graphic-design ineptitude, the other hurdle I'm facing is the design concept -- more specifically, the lack thereof. I don't think it needs to be too complex (especially since I'm attempting to create it), but part of the reason I'm taking on this project is so our invitations will have more personality than the standard cream-colored, script-engraved ones. My incredibly basic idea at the moment is to have the main text in a smaller, sans serif font, and our names printed larger in something more... fun.

Here's where fonts enter the picture. Not long after I became engaged, I came across a blog post heralding the arrival of a lovely font created for the New York Times on the website MyFonts, and I decided I would use the font, Memoriam, for our invitations. Unfortunately, I learned that the font is less than ideal for letterpressing -- it gets very, very thin and very, very fat, and because of the variation it would be difficult to get even ink coverage without blotches or lost lines.

Adios, Memoriam :(

With Memoriam out of the picture, I turned to MyFonts for other interesting options. I needed a font that would convey the right amount of formality without being fusty or stoic, but I didn't want something so whimsical as to be cloying. I tend to dislike italics, so I didn't want the font to be too tilty, but a script would be OK if it were the right one. I've probably spent hours in total on MyFonts, but here are a few options I've come up with. (All fonts can be found on

First, here's a sans serif I just found for the bulk of the text*:

Sweet Gothic

And here are the fonts in the running for the really important stuff -- our names:



HT Fiorista


Sensual Bold

Treasury Pro

Well? Which one do you like best? Or do you have some better suggestions? Let me know!

* just the other day I read that it is proper to use the British spelling of "honour," and you can't request the honour of someone's presence if you're not getting hitched in a church... whatever. Maybe I just want the pleasure of everyone's company, that way I won't offend anyone's sense of spelling.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

the modern registry

So, this was a pretty shameless plug on Sir Paul's part, but after seeing him play Piedmont Park last night, I kind of desperately want The Beatles: Rock Band.

We've got to spice up the registry somehow, right? Who wants to buy us towels, anyway...

happy feet

I know you've all been waiting with bated breath to hear what the outcome of my shoe quandary would be, so here it is: they're keepers!

Turns out they look way better when you see them from across a room. I had tried them on about 1.5 feet away from the mirror -- not one of those helpfully angled shoe-store ones, either -- and looking down on them from that perspective just made me feel like my already large feet seemed even bigger. But I took them over to my parents' house today after church where I could get opinions from my mom and sister at the same time, and everybody loved them. (Actually, Dad and Jon could have cared less.)

After showing them off in the carpeted den, I tiptoed back to Mom and Dad's bathroom so as not to scuff the soles on the hardwood floors and got the full effect by standing on the edge of their jacuzzi tub and looking across the room into the vanity mirrors. SO. MUCH. BETTER. Once I go get a pedicure, maybe I'll model them on the blog for y'all. Done and done.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


My J. Crew final sale shoes arrived today, and... well, I dunno. I'm not convinced them's they, as I am wont to say. This is particularly unfortunate since they're not returnable, but if I decide they aren't for me, there's always eBay.

I knew the shipment would arrive today, and I had already envisioned shoe success in my head by the time I got home. The package was waiting for me on the doorstep, so I carried it upstairs to my apartment, took off my work pants and hung them up (so as to minimize cat-hair pickup), and took a deep breath.

They looked alright coming out of the box... so far, so good. Little frays of organdy that the fleur had shed were stuck to the satin. I brushed them off, but one was actually pull in the fabric on the right shoe. Defective merchandise can be returned! A loophole! But does this qualify?

After closer examination for other flaws, I slipped them on, buckled the ankle straps, and looked at my feet in the mirror. Meh. The fleurs had been squished flat for shipping, so I tried poofing them up a bit. Still meh. Fortunately the size was fine (though frankly my right foot could have used a 9 instead of a 9.5), but something about the shape of the part under my toes was weird. Somewhat too pointy, perhaps? Maybe it's that I needed a pedicure, or to shave my legs. Maybe they would have looked better if I had been wearing pants. Or maybe ivory shoes just won't even look good on a big-footed, pasty-legged lady like myself.

For now, the shoes have been carefully repackaged and are sitting in their box in my bedroom. I'll probably bust them out this weekend to get opinions from my mom and sister. This will certainly teach me to buy on impulse just because something is on sale! It's back the the ol' try-before-you-buy method for me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

To video or not to video?

That definitely became a question again after seeing Ginny and Ed's wedding video clip.

When my mom, Jon, and I first broke down the wedding budget, I figured I was cool to roll the videography allocation into our photography fund, retain the most awesome photographers ever, and call it a day. Having a cameraman (or worse, crew) running around at a wedding, dragging cords through the middle of your moments and shining that damn spotlight all over the place really irks me. Plus, I look at my photos far more frequently than I watch any videos I have... so it made sense.

But oh, my dear lord. Ginny and Ed's video was sweet, artful, and just stunning. It's actually the same kind of footage we have from my parents' wedding -- silent (but crackly) 8 mm film. Of course, my parents weren't nearly as stylish, even back in '72. (No offense, Mom and Dad.) I haven't seen much of their wedding video because it's still on reels and thus not very easy to pop in and watch, but 8mm movies have a charm that I (and clearly many other people) find preferable to the montage-heavy, slick cinematic style of wedding videography that seems to be in vogue today, at least in the mainstream.

As it stands right now, we won't have a videographer... for the reception. One of my high school friends dabbles in filmmaking, and we've asked him to record the ceremony for us. (He actually had a bit of a side business in wedding videography going this summer, which I had no idea about until I asked him to do this. Nice!) I don't want him to video any of the reception because I want him to be able to fully enjoy the party. He'll be our guest, after all.

So, I'm pondering... but at this point we're trying to cut the budget, not add to it. In our first meeting with Jesse and Whitney, they mentioned that sometimes there are SCAD students or random filmmakers looking for weddings to film (for free!), so when it gets closer to the time, I'll ask them to keep their ears out for anyone who may want to tag along with an 8mm camera. In the meantime, I'll be trolling Craigslist, keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping for a hipster wedding movie angel to smile upon us.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Well, I'm back from vacation and seem to have hit the ground running -- I just made my first impulse-fueled wedding purchase. Yikes! Let's hope this trend doesn't continue...

Anyway, so, there are these shoes. They're from J. Crew, and I saw them, I dunno, a few months ago? I think they're beautiful for a wedding. I also think, incidentally, that they would go quite nicely with my dress. Unfortunately, because they're J. Crew shoes, they are -- how you say? -- not cheap. $235. At any rate, I shared the link with my mom a few weeks back to get her opinion ("aside from the price, they are lovely") and filed the photo away in the "wedding" folder on my computer.

This morning, an email from J. Crew appeared in my inbox, which led me to check up on my shoes. My shoes! Where did they go?! Not seeing them under the appropriate category, I hopped over to eBay. "J. Crew shoes" returned more than a thousand items. I couldn't remember the name of the shoe to narrow the search, so I dug up the email I had sent to Mom and clicked to see if the link still worked. Lo and behold, there they were, still on J. Crew's site... in the sale section!

The only sizes available, conveniently, were for clown-footed folks like myself -- sizes 9 and up. I don't know what size I wear in J. Crew shoes, but the 9 only came in the dusty pink color, so 9.5 it was, in ivory. Final sale. No returns or exchanges.

After a futile effort to locate sneaky shipping and discount codes online, I placed my order. It's very unlike me to purchase something I haven't tried on -- especially something that can't be returned -- but I felt like this was an opportunity presenting itself and that it was meant to be between me and these shoes. Right? Now I just have to wait until they get here and hope they fit!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Save the date...with art!

Not long after Jon and I got engaged, we asked our friend Larissa Greer, a talented writer, editor and artist with a SCAD pedigree, to do an illustration of us, with the idea that we'd use it as artwork for our eventual save-the-date postcard. I first saw Larissa's work in this style back in the fall in a facebook album she had posted. As I later thought about interesting and unexpected ways to incorporate our talented friends into our wedding, she came to mind right away.

We don't see Larissa too terribly often given our non-jiving schedules, but Jon ran into her out at the Porter in Little 5 Points the night before he proposed and told her what he was planning. (Sidenote: Larissa accompanied Jon to the first Josh Ritter concert he saw in Atlanta... I had a symphony rehearsal or performance that night. BOO. Thank god Josh doesn't have a song called Larissa!) It was only a few weeks later that I wrote to Larissa with our commission.

I got a facebook message from Larissa in early May saying that her painting ("pretty much the epitome of young love," as she described it) was drying in her studio. Since then, Jon and I have been waiting, wondering when we might get to see it, and tonight it simply cropped up on my facebook profile with the note, "I'm happy that you kids are making it legal :)"

painting by Larissa Erin Greer

How badass will our save-the-dates be? And how perfect are the colors, without any direction from me? Here's the picture it's based on, if you're curious...

Though the save-the-date artwork won't likely match our eventual invitations, I think it does an excellent job of setting the tone and even conveying a little bit about me and Jon to our guests. What do y'all think?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gone Fishin'

I'm away at the beach with my family this week so I may or may not be posting... stay tuned!