Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wedding Spectator no.3: classic car, cocktail music

My cousin Sarah got married in April 2008 in her hometown of Bowling Green, Ky. As you can see, she and her husband Adam left the ceremony in a freakin' sweet car: a vintage Chevy, lovingly restored by her dad. This getaway car is hard to beat in both style and sentimentality:

(photo by me)

(photo by asim choudhri)

Of course, Adam really only got to drive that beautiful boat about a half-mile down the road to the reception venue, then I think it went back home to Uncle Richard's garage. At the end of the evening, a stretch limo whisked them away to Nashville so they could fly out for their honeymoon in the early morning.

Aside from the auto eye-candy, what I remember being quite impressed by at Sarah's wedding was the music during the cocktail hour. They hired a pianist for the first part of the evening, and he. was. AWESOME. Not too soft, not too loud, not too sparse, not too schlocky -- just classy, smart standards. He set the perfect tone for the evening. I was thrilled to hear him, and I definitely told him so once or twice.

(photo by asim choudhri)

I am a huge proponent of live music at weddings, when possible. Of course, wedding bands are often cheesy and always expensive, and a D.J. won't butcher your favorite songs, so sometimes that's the better option when it comes time to hit the dance floor. We're stealing a page from Sarah's book for our reception: we've got a D.J. for party time and are hoping to recruit an awesome jazz trio to start the evening off right.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old-Timey Tuesday: what their grandmas wore

In keeping with the attire theme of the first few Old-Timey Tuesday posts, this week we'll look at the grandmas. Just as there seemed to be a dress code for the mothers of the bride and groom, so too did the grandmothers of the happy pair adhere to a uniform style. For the mothers, it was dyed-to-match shoes and long, sheer polyester sleeves. The grandmas went for conservative necklines, dresses that hit just below the knee, and -- my favorite part -- white gloves.

According to Martha Stewart's wedding website, "In the 1950s, classic white gloves were essential for the well-dressed woman." This wedding was in 1972! I love what that says about my parents' grandmas. Ever well-dressed, proper ladies, these. I also love that they're all sporting horn-rimmed cat-eye glasses. The accessories belong to such a specific era -- and that era is not the early '70s, which makes this photo all the better.

Monday, September 28, 2009

From Kelly to Justin

While I was attending my friend Kelly's wedding in Nashville this weekend, everybody's favorite American Idol would-have-been Justin Guarini was apparently tying the knot as well:

(photo courtesy of Justin's people via

Do you believe he's still rocking that hairstyle after all these years? Noots.

[I'll be back tomorrow with something more substantive, I promise. For now, I (clearly) need to catch up on my sleep!]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

back to the grind... again!

For the second weekend in a row, I drove with Jon to a neighboring state for a friend's wedding. Fortunately this time I got to drive up I-75 rather than I-85, which was a nice change of scenery, and we had another of my college roommates in tow, which meant I got to listen to cheesy '80s and '90s music in the car.

I'll get back to regular posting tomorrow, but in the meantime, to prove I've been busy with other people's weddings and not just slacking off, here's one of my favorite pictures from yesterday's big event:

Now that is a happy couple! The newlyweds are off to honeymoon in Hawaii for something like a week and a half... so jealous. Anyway, more on this later -- I've got to catch up on all the other stuff I neglected while I was partying all weekend!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our first present!!!

I returned home from work yesterday to find a box from Williams-Sonoma on my doorstep. I haven't ordered anything from Williams-Sonoma recently... HOLY CRAP IT'S A WEDDING PRESENT! Daaah!

Inside the shipping box was another box wrapped in cream and gold pineapple-print paper and tied with a dark green ribbon. I decided I would be a good fiancee and wait until Jon got home from work to open the gift, though I did read the card that came with it:


How sweet is that? When Jon and I moved in together a few months ago, I helped my landlady find a new tenant by putting her in touch with one of my best friends (and bridesmaids) who was moving back to Atlanta. Now my friend has been in my old apartment for a month and things are going swimmingly for all. My former landlady and I have been in touch intermittently since I moved out, but I certainly didn't expect a present from her!

So, do you want to know what it is? I am pretty sure I squealed and flailed my arms around in excitement when I opened it...
...because it's a set of CHEESE KNIVES! With their own special cheese board! Any of my friends will tell you that if cheese is involved in something, I am a happy camper. It plays a big role at pretty much any party I throw, and now I can serve it in style! Cheeeeese.

I know everybody loves getting presents, but I can't think of any better way to kick of this whole crazy wedding season. What a lovely surprise!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

more photos from the flood

As I mentioned on Monday night, the restaurant we've reserved for our rehearsal dinner got absolutely walloped in the Great Flood of 2009. I haven't heard any further reports on its condition or how long it will take to recover, but a friend of mine who lives in the neighborhood shared a few more photos with me.

Many special events at Canoe take place in the river garden, which has two tents and a lovely, winding pathway along the banks of the Chattahoochee. This is what it usually looks like:

The tents themselves are pretty fancy too. Check out the inside:

(all pictures above from

After Monday's deluge, this is what the river garden and tents looked like:

photo courtesy of Patti Heinz

Holy crap! Yeah, those are the tops of the tents. I'm sure the water has receded in the intervening days, and I'll probably post again once I hear what their outlook for the future is, but I just had to share that picture with y'all.

Hope everyone is staying high and dry!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

8 months to go!

I got my monthly to-do email from the Knot today, and it seems like I'm back on track with their timeline, for whatever it's worth. This month's assignment is to register for gifts. We're not done with registering yet, but we're certainly underway!

We started the process at Williams-Sonoma about a month ago -- I have a friend who works at one of the local stores, so we actually went in and let her give us the registry spiel. She was super helpful in helping us pick out which knives we should get! Not long after that, we expanded our scope with a walk-through of the department stores at the mall to see if anything in the realm of china and crystal struck our fancy. Fortunately we spotted some things we both liked, so when we got home I logged on and started a registry at Macy's. We've also registered at Crate & Barrel, because I love that store. Plus, we've already got a head start on our everyday dishes since Jon bought some for his bachelor pad last year.

Of course, there are things we would love to have for our household that one can't find in any of these stores. Jon wants a record player; I want the expensive remastered Beatles box sets; we both could use the Adobe Creative Suite to help our careers along. For this and other such stuff, we're registering with Wishpot, which basically lets you compile a list from any online retailer. You can also just list items you desire that may not have specific store links -- like, say, a vintage globe -- and people can mark it off your list and go a'hunting. Sounds awesome, right?

We're headed to another wedding this coming weekend, but the next one after that I think we're going to head to the mall and tackle the registry by checking out towels, sheets, and other things you need to see and feel before you decide. I'm hoping to have enough stuff on there by the time people start throwing me showers!

Old-Timey Tuesday: what their moms wore

I'm no fashion expert, but it seems to me that long, sheer sleeves were having a moment in 1972:

I wonder if this is a case of the mothers coordinating their outfits or just an inspired coincidence. My grandpas are in standard-issue black suits, and, you can't see really see it in this picture, but Dad's tux/morning suit is just awful. It's got sort of a Teutonic/high-school-theater costume look to it...but I digress. More on that later. Here's another shot where you can see Grandma Dot's dress (which I have in my closet at home) in a little better detail:

Mom with Dad's parents and Grandma Wilkening (Grandma Dot's mother).
This is probably Mom's favorite picture from their wedding. Also, I look like my dad.

I love the pastels, the gauzy bloused sleeves, the coordinating clutches and dyed-to-match satin shoes (seen in the previous shot). Of course, a lot (if not all) of these things might fall into the category of what not to wear these days. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a blog post about some better-than-average MOB attire from Pronovias and the following dress was among the photos:


I mean... it's basically the long version of a combination of my grandmas dresses, plus a few sparkles and a saucier neckline. Once again we have a case of my family being way ahead of the fashion curve. (Nevermind that this one resembles a sexy old-timey dressing gown...)

Because this look was so familiar, and also because we haven't even started shopping for something for my mama to wear, I sent her the above photo and a couple more from the same collection. What do you think of these?



All of these are dresses I can see my petite and adorable mom wearing, and they're lovely, romantic alternatives to the stiff shantung suits that are so common these days. I'm definitely keeping these on file for the eventual MOB-dress hunt! Who knows, maybe she'll end up with another pastel, floaty-sleeved number...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Canoe: will we need one to get there?

You may have read or seen on the news that Atlanta is experiencing some inclement weather -- that would be an understatement. Flooded interstates, swept-away motorists, closed schools, waterlogged homes and suddenly homeless people and pets... it's been an insane and somewhat scary day. At the moment it's not raining anymore, and the worst may be behind us, but still more rain is expected in the coming days. When will it stop?!

The football field at my high school was under at least 7 feet of water this afternoon. Very close to my high school is Canoe, the location of our rehearsal dinner (to take place exactly eight months from tonight), which we selected for its AMAZING food and the lovely riverside setting. The latter is proving to be something of a problem at the moment:

There's a patio on the side of the building that must be mostly submerged in Chattahoochee River muck, and I'm sure the gardens and party tents are a total mess. Eight months is enough time to fix it all back up, right? I hope nobody had a wedding planned there this coming weekend!

back to the grind...

I'm back after a couple days' hiatus in North Carolina for the wedding of a friend from summer camp. It was super fun and so great to see everyone in that crowd again! It had been four years since we were last all together (at another camp-friend wedding), which is hard to believe. Hopefully they can all make it to Atlanta next May to party with us at our wedding, though!

Anyway, not much to say today besides I'm back and I'm getting my proverbial ducks in a row. Still waiting on pricing from the last cake place, still figuring out what paper in what quantities to order for invitations/announcements, still wanting a nap. I've got some mother-of-the-bride fashion lined up for Old-Timey Tuesday, so be sure to check in tomorrow for that. In the meantime, here's some North Carolina farm-wedding charm to tide you over:

Don't you love the clever canopies to keep the bugs out of the icing? (They're from IKEA, as were the lanterns and votives and other little details.) Good thinking.

Friday, September 18, 2009

cake for lunch

On Wednesday during my lunchbreak I met Mom at Caryn's Cakes on the west side of downtown Atlanta for a fourth and (potentially) final cake tasting. From the get-go, Caryn had a couple of things in her favor: she's a Syracuse alum, she's located just around the corner from our reception venue, and she makes killer ace-of-cakes-style cakes. As soon as we set foot in her bakery, she got a few more points for the display case filled with cupcakes of intriguing flavors.

We were led away from the cupcakes and into the consultation room (sounds awfully stuffy, but that seems like a good name for it), where we perused the company photo albums while we waited for Caryn. She didn't keep us waiting long, though, and we got right down to business.

For the big wedding cake, I'm not looking for anything fancy in terms of decoration. The design I liked best here is a fairly basic one Caryn calls more-to-less dots, seen at right on the second and top tiers of the cake. Next we discussed the groom's cake. I handed over my printout of various and sundry exciting cake ideas (some of which can be seen here) and we decided she would price out four designs for us: a typewriter, a saxophone, a stack of books, and, of course, Idaho. (picture from

During this whole process she asked a lot of detail-oriented questions. One the one hand, it was nice to see she liked to focus on the finer points of a design; but on the other, this thing is like eight months away. Have I thought about what color fondant star should mark Jon's hometown on the hypothetical Idaho cake? No. Fortunately none of these variables will have any major effect on the price estimate, so it wasn't a big deal.

Anyway, on to the cake! As I've mentioned before, I'm looking for more interesting flavors than I found at the two exclusively cake-baking places. Caryn has got a long list of flavors and fillings, but when you go to a tasting there she asks you to pick three combinations you'd like to sample. I opted for chocolate butter cake with cookies & cream filling, strawberry cake with cream cheese filling, and spice cake with cream cheese filling. NOM.

Since Jon couldn't make the tasting, we generously set aside
some of our samples for him so he could try them at home

Mom and I both noticed right away how light and delicious the buttercream was. I really liked the cookies & cream filling and thought Jon would too -- I went ahead and assigned that to the groom's cake. The strawberry cake was as potently strawberryish as it was pink, but it tasted a bit artificial -- I'm not sure if it's made with real strawberries or not. The spice cake was really flavorful and tasty, but perhaps too dense and muffin-like in texture... I'm still not sure. I think I needed a bigger piece! Nevertheless, we said (for estimate purposes) that we would have a spice-cake wedding cake with layers alternating cream cheese filling and caramel buttercream filling. Sounds alright, doesn't it?

After our meeting wrapped up, Mom and I didn't even attempt to resist the allure of the cupcakes. What better way to try a wider spectrum of flavors? Mom picked up a ginger-peach cupcake for Dad, a coconut cupcake for herself, a lemon meringue cupcake and a sweet tea cupcake, complete with bendy straw garnish, to round out the bunch. (I think my brother swiped both of the unclaimed ones.) I took home a red velvet cupcake, a carrot cake cupcake, a banana cream pie cupcake (filled with banana custardy awesomeness!) and a chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake for Jon. I'm anti-peanut butter (truth) and I didn't want to waste one of my three tastes on that last one even though Jon had suggested it, so I was quite pleased they had a peanut-butter-buttercream-filled cupcake I could take home for him. After tasting it, he temporarily lost the ability to form sentences. I think he liked it.

So, Caryn's was pretty solid -- but is this Caryn better than Karen at Highland Bakery? It looks like it's Caryn vs. Karen, C-y vs. K-e. Who will emerge victorious? Perhaps the price estimate from Caryn will settle the score...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

bring on the parties!

This morning I got an email from one of my longest-time friends saying that she wanted to host a wedding shower for me over Thanksgiving when all of our high school buddies should be back in town. Wahoo! I'm so excited! This will be my first shower, and really the first weddingy celebration since I got engaged last March. Sometimes it's hard to see everybody who comes home over Thanksgiving, so I'm especially glad to have a party that will bring the whole gang together.

Because it's around the holidays, and because I looove Christmas, it's going to be an ornament shower. I've had a small collection of ornaments going since I studied abroad in Germany my junior year of college (hallo, Christmas markets! The beer dude at right is from Rothenburg ob der Tauber) but I can't yet deck the halls without candy canes and cheap colored balls from Target as filler, so this should definitely help us out.

Admittedly, a holiday-themed shower isn't the most original idea, but it promises to be super fun and it's right up my alley! The hostess and I talked about it over the summer and agreed it would be an excellent choice for me.

So, what about y'all? Do you have any fun showers or other parties coming up? What's the best (or the worst/weirdest) party theme you've ever heard of?

Little Man with the pile of rejects/duplicates from the ornament
advent calendar my dad bought all of us kids last year. I'm sure
I'll get some suitable replacements at the shower!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wedding Spectator no. 2: on the farm

This coming weekend one of my friends from summer camp is getting married on a farm in Chapel Hill, N. C., so for this installment of wedding spectator I thought I'd go back to the fall of 2005... when another one of my friends from summer camp got married on a farm in Chapel Hill, N.C.

There were lots of memorable things about Chris and Anna's wedding, but what stayed with me more than anything was the setting for the ceremony: they exchanged vows in the shade of a gorgeous old tree. It suited them perfectly and could not have been more beautiful.

the bluegrass combo tuning up before the ceremony

Their invitations, designed by another summer camp friend who happens to be a graphic designer, also reflected the bride and groom's love of nature:

How cool is that? I did a pretty good job of unintentionally recreating their invitation, no?

I can't wait to go to another farm wedding this weekend with my camp buddies! It will be interesting to see how this one is different, despite the many nominal similarities. I'll let you know how it came out in the next Wedding Spectator post!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Old-Timey Tuesday!

Yes, it's time to trot out some of my parents' wedding photos! I wasn't quite sure where to start with this treasure trove, so, since I left off talking about bridesmaids dresses, I thought I'd show you what my mom made her friends wear. Here they are getting matched up with their bouquets:

As you can see, young Laura was too cool for matchy-matchy dresses, so she let each girl choose her own dress color. I think they got to make their own dresses as well, though there may have been one bridesmaid who was not so good with a sewing machine whom Mom or one of the other girls had to help out. (Note to my high school: why didn't you teach me how to sew? BOO.) I asked Mom if her friends argued about who got to wear which color, but apparently everyone got what they wanted.

Here we have the full-length shot of everyone as Grandpa Fred gives mama a kiss. The only one of the bridesmaids I know is my aunt Toni -- the one in the mint-green dress with the fabulous hair -- who looks so much like my cousin Jamie (her daughter) it's ridiculous. I can never remember who all the other ones were, though I think there were a couple of former roommates in the mix.

Last but not least we have the formal post-wedding shot of Laura with the girls. You probably noticed in the last picture the colored ribbons that match each bouquet to its respective bridesmaid. In this picture you can also see what looks to be two pairs of dyed-to-match satin shoes. Maybe Mom was a little more matchy-matchy than I thought!

The best part of this picture, and of so many others from Mom and Dad's wedding day, is Mom's megawatt grin. No artsy stonefacing or pensive window-gazing with this crew. Check back next week for more smiley pictures from 1972 in the next installment of Old-Timey Tuesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

not much to report

I've been in a bit of a funk today and yesterday, so this will be brief. I think I'm arriving at that point in wedding planning where all the big stuff is out of the way and it's too early to be really productive with little stuff, if such a place exists. It's sort of weird and oddly frustrating.

Anyway, the good news today is that all of my bridesmaids have received their dresses in the mail, and I've had multiple calls and emails thanking me for choosing such a pretty dress! I'm not gonna lie, I've considered buying one for myself... would that be weird? At any rate, I'm pleased that everyone likes the cut and color and fabric of the dress, not to mention that I scored a great deal. J. Crew and I have had a rocky relationship these past few years, mostly because they often refuse to accommodate boobs or thighs, but I think we may be close to burying the hatchet after this.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

coming soon...

A series of posts on my parents' September 1972 wedding, brought to you by my new printer/scanner combo. Who knows, I may even recruit my mama for a guest post or two...

It's gonna be awesome.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

nice paper, nice people

Yesterday I stopped by a paper supply store to see if I could get my hands on the various colors and thicknesses of Crane's popular Lettra paper. I probably won't be ordering from them (because I won't need bulk quantities), but I knew they carry the papers and I needed to see my options before committing to something. They wouldn't sell me any single sheets of Lettra stock, but they oh so generously gave me their extra, slightly worn swatch book, which is super helpful. Check it out:

The swatch book has a stock chart, samples of all the papers
in the line, and a flip book of what each printing process
looks and feels like on each weight and color of paper.

the swatches

Letterpressing on pearl white 110 weight paper

If I hadn't gotten a chance to see the different kinds of paper, I may have ordered the double-thick paper for our main invitation. It almost feels like cardboard, though. I think I'll end up using regular weight paper for that, and maybe the heavier paper for our rsvp postcard so I can print on both sides without it showing through. Thanks, Mini Mac! You have made my life so much easier.

Friday, September 11, 2009

InStyle Weddings, out of my budget

I've been house/teen-sitting for the past couple days, so I picked up the latest issue of InStyle Weddings at the grocery store yesterday to keep myself entertained in the evening in case I couldn't get the wireless network to cooperate with my laptop, which happens a lot. As it happened the internet and my computer made friends, but I flipped through the magazine before I went to sleep.

About two-thirds of the way through I reached one of the cover stories on the "ultimate 6-month plan" for wedding-day beauty. While it is a thorough plan, it doesn't sound like something anyone I know has either the time or the money for. Allow me to break it down for you:

6 months before
  • Scout for hair and makeup folks; book. [So far, so good]
  • If you have skin concerns, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, implement the following skincare regimen: wash face 2x a day; slough 2x a week with a fruit-enzyme exfoliant; use brightening serum (?) and sunscreen daily; apply hydrating cream every night. [A little involved... but seems mostly reasonable.]
  • Schedule a series of facials, every four to six weeks starting six months before the wedding; experiment with different kinds to see what works best for your skin. [Um, what? Am I made of money?]
  • See a brow specialist. [Done and done.]
  • Care for your hair. [I mostly do this, except for the weekly moisturizing treatment. Perhaps I will explore.]
  • Don't cut your hair if you want it long. [Doy.]
  • Consult a colorist and make changes now. [Doesn't apply to me, but, again, doy.]
  • Fight "fuzz" with four to six laser hair-removal treatments between now and the wedding. Start zapping now, they say! [WHAT? No.]

3 months before
  • Do a hair trial. [Schon klar.]
  • Decide what you want your makeup to look like. [Yep.]
  • Refresh your complexion. "If you're not using skin medications or having laser work done, try a light acid peel in addition to your facials." Do this once a month. [Does this sound scary to anyone else? I think I'll stick to moisturizing.]
  • Book weekly manicures/pedicures. [I tend to stick to a (bi)monthly pedicure/never manicure schedule, though I admit I have wondered if I should get a few manicures leading up to the wedding, since the skin around my nails get a little ragged after a once-in-a-blue-moon manicure. But weekly? A) I'm not made of money, as previously discussed, and B) I'm not retired or a housewife. Not happening.]

1 month before
  • Get a body facial; alternatively, have a friend rub a mask on your back once a week. [Body facial? Is that an oxymoron? Also, what if I don't have my own beauty attendants?]
  • Have your teeth professionally bleached. [Or just buy some Whitestrips. Or don't.]
  • Get spray-tanned; maintain with self-tanning lotion. [Or don't.]
  • Drop a couple hundred dollars on a straightening treatment if you're going sleek. [Or don't.]
  • Get your hair trimmed about three weeks before the wedding. [Sounds good to me.]

The 1-week-before and day-of lists are, refreshingly, pretty normal, so I'll spare you those details. They only say "aesthetician" once, and it otherwise involves things like getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist and making sure you hydrate. Frankly, though, I don't know who could afford to check off even half the items on this list, or who has the time for all those appointments. This is a prime example of the so-called wedding industrial complex. (I'd like to think I'm avoiding the worst parts of it, but it's hard to escape...) Clearly the beauty industry and magazines are attempting to brainwash us into thinking we need their services! Whatever. I only wash my face once a day. I do what I want!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

another giddy bride

While I'm pretty well convinced that we've got the best photographers in the land signed up to shoot our wedding, there are a few others out there whose work I have really come to love. Davina + Daniel are another husband and wife team, and their blog and web site are full of incredible pictures. I saw this picture on the blog yesterday. It's another one of those photos that embodies what I hope my own wedding day will be like.

photographed by Davina Palik and Roxanne Ross

Although Davina and Daniel are already legally married (via a quick ceremony in Vegas), they're currently in the midst of planning their 2010 wedding. You can read about Davina's planning and ideas on her other blog, billed as "a wedding photographer's journey to the aisle."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wedding Spectator no. 1: Vineyard Reception

Brock grew up in Atlanta, the dreamy, quiet boy in pretty much every girl at my school's heart from 1995 until about 1999 or so when we all acknowledged that it probably wasn't going to happen. When he got married in Charlottesville, Va. last summer, it was truly the end of an era.

Even if it dealt a blow to my junior-high dreams, the wedding was lovely, and the reception one of the most elegant and beautiful I've had the pleasure of attending. Brock and Emily, who met in college at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, took advantage of the landscape up in what my dad refers to as "God's country" and held their reception at Veritas Vineyard & Winery, just a winding 30-minute drive away from the church, in Afton, Va.

The reception began with a long, relaxed cocktail hour, which gave the guests plenty of time to soak up the Blue Ridge scenery from the deck overlooking the vineyard (and the bride and groom plenty of time for pictures). For folks who wanted to be in the air conditioning or closer to the bar, the impressive tasting room was open as well. Once Brock and Emily had rejoined the party and had sufficient time to mingle, the celebration moved into the ballroom/reception hall for a sit-down dinner and dancing.

As a bride, or an event planner, it's easy to see the attraction of a venue like Veritas. It's basically a one-stop shop, and somewhere like this really doesn't need dressing up. You could tell these folks do a big business in weddings and events, because everything was stunning, from the sheer fabric draping the walls to the french doors opening onto the deck to the dramatic high cieling. Add tables, a few flowers or candles, and you're ready to go.

As a guest, you just can't go wrong at a reception like this one. (Just be sure the driver doesn't drink too much!) I have never seen a more beautiful setting for a wedding celebration -- it was lush and southern, charming and sophisticated, convivial and laid-back. One of the fanciest aspects of the evening was that each course of the meal was paired with a different Veritas wine. The height of luxury! Though I've never seen so much glassware on one table.

Of course, the vineyard reception is a strategy best reserved for folks in places known for good wine -- not so much an option here in Georgia, where, I hear, the wine leaves much to be desired. For sheer natural beauty though, I have yet to beat this reception site. It's pretty much the opposite of our rehabbed industrial, urban reception spot, but in another life (or another state) the winery wedding would be near the top of my list.

Introducing Wedding Spectator!

Kind of like Wine Spectator, only for weddings! Right? Admittedly, it's not the catchiest name ever... but it's less stalkery and alliterative than Wedding Watcher, so I'll go with it.

Wedding Spectator will be a regular feature on my blog from here on out, and it will highlight what I deem to be the best/coolest/most awesome aspects of the weddings I have attended. The idea is to stop talking exclusively about myself and Atlanta-centric wedding details in order to stay relevant and engaging to my readers across the globe (there may not be a ton of you, but you're all over the map!) while also creating an opportunity to share pictures from my friends' and family's wedding celebrations. I hope that the process of reflecting on these other weddings and looking back at photos from the festivities will inspire me -- and y'all -- as the planning continues.

Don't go far... Wedding Spectator installment no. 1 is coming soon!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

cake for dinner

I just got home after a long haul up to northeast Bejesus and back with Mom and Jon to taste the wedding cake offerings from Frosted Pumpkin Gourmet. The office and kitchen are both in the dude's house, which, in case I didn't mention it, is in the middle of nowhere. (Technically it's Alpharetta, but close enough.)

I had a hunch, especially after our first two tastings at Celso's and Highland bakery, that I would favor the bakeries that don't pump out 20 wedding cakes a weekend... which might seem counter-intuitive, but that's definitely how it has shaken out. Both Celso's and Frosted Pumpkin have their established/favorite/signature flavors, and they're not much interested in making anything different than those five or six cakes. What if I want a damn spice cake, huh? Come on people. Isn't the bride supposed to get whatever she wants? MAKE ME HAPPY, CAKE BAKERS.

Anyway, Frosted Pumpkin is recommended by both my caterer and coordinator, and I enjoyed their cake at a friend's wedding this past May, but it's not for us, delicious though the dark chocolate and red velvet cakes were. On top of the limited flavor selection, the cost is substantially greater here than anywhere else we have checked out. So far it's been pretty easy to winnow down the field -- Highland Bakery still leads, as if there were any question -- though I think the greatest challenge of the cake hunt will be finding a delicious and pretty cake at a really good price.

To that end, I've got one more tasting scheduled next week with Caryn of Caryn's Cakes (who apparently updated her site between this afternoon when we spoke and now, and it looks great). She's a Syracuse alum (Go orange!) with plenty of interesting flavors on the menu, and she seems willing to explore any and all cake possibilities with me. Wohoo! She sounded really cool on the phone and is said to make a mean spice cake, which bodes well. I had one other cake meeting on the docket (at the recommendation of Nicole/Victory Bird from A tale of two brides), but the baker realized today that our wedding date is her anniversary and she'll be out of town celebrating. Alas! She did recommend a mentor of hers, so I will probably be in touch with that person to be sure I've explored the spectrum of wedding cake bakeries.

Check back next week for more cake adventures. Otherwise, come back tomorrow for a new feature I like to call Wedding Spectator! Betcha can't wait...

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Woooo footballllll! I'll be back to wedding stuff soon enough, but I'm about to head out to an epic cookout at my sister's house in honor of a back-to-back-to-back TV football schedule of many of the family teams. Check out the awesome cookies I made for the occasion:

LACES OUT. U rah rah! Go Orange!

Friday, September 4, 2009

bridesmaids dresses: DONE

I just received email confirmation from J.Crew that my whoppingly huge first order on my store credit card has been processed. Huzzah! Seven bridesmaids dresses at 20% off, shipped free of charge to points around the country. The dresses going to Iowa and Michigan had the lowest sales tax, while the one going to California cost $5.46 more. Dang, California! It all averaged out to $167.90 apiece, which, I think, is hard to argue with for such a nice dress. Just look at that lovely silhouette! (Reminder: it will be blue, not white.) Hooray for deals!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

tasting no. 2: Highland Bakery


We're still waiting for estimates from Karen Portaleo, Highland Bakery's sugar artist, based on what we talked about at our meeting today... but from our discussion it seems like the wedding cake would cost a little less from there than from Celso's, and the groom's cake would probably run us a little more if we go with one of the badass designs I know Karen could make.

Our meeting started out with the usuals -- date, location, number of guests -- and then moved on to tastier details like cake flavors and fillings. The folks at Highland Bakery are open to making pretty much any kind of cake, which I found refreshing after being served what seemed to be THE six options from Celso's. We also looked at the photos I brought in: pretty basic wedding cakes, crazy groom's cakes.

Eventually Karen went back to the kitchen and brought mom and me two jumbo cupcakes, one red velvet and one chocolate, still warm from the oven. As mom put it, it just wasn't fair! You just can't get much better than warm cake with lovely, rich icing. The cake was quite flavorful and sturdy (but not heavy), and Mom and I both agreed that Highland Bakery easily bested Celso's.

(I should probably mention here that we have a little bit of experience with Karen's handiwork -- for both of our parents' 60th birthday parties we've gotten special cakes from Highland Bakery, and they were huge hits, both in design and deliciousness. You can see Dad's birthday cake here.)

So we've got two down, two to go on the cake-tasting front -- one more with a big wedding/events cake bakery, and one with a small shop that one of you lovely blog readers told me about. Who will win out? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

left-hand hardware (for him)

Occasionally during the course of my daily Google reader regimen, I'll send Jon a blog post or two about something like centerpieces or groomswear. Most of the time it's something I find ridiculous, like any of the dresses from Mary's Bridal, or one of these manly-man wedding rings from Scott Kay:


(no I didn't misspell that -- Scott Kay did)

On a good day, the emails fall more along the lines of something I think he will like, as opposed to something I want to make fun of. The other day in my blog-trolling I came across a ring that was unusual and sort of masculine, but not in a cheesy, over-the-top way, so I passed it along:

from Jewelry by Johan via Something Old, Something New

Y'all know (or maybe you don't, but I'm telling you now) that I love Etsy, where this ring can be purchased for $799. It's white gold with an inlay of meteorite. Yes, METEORITE. Why not? Jon thought the ring was "pretty cool" and declared that he wanted it.

Jon and I have talked about wedding rings a little bit, but not a lot, and we haven't talked numbers. We'll be buying them for each other, so there is definitely a price ceiling -- one that we'll probably hit sooner rather than later. Part of me is a little wary of buying something custom/non-resizeable/returnable only for store credit/can't try before I buy... but I also like how different this one is. I'm also glad Jon seems to like it, which is more than can be said for a lot of things I've run by him so far. Ring-purchasing is a ways off yet, though, so in the meantime we'll poke around online to get a sense of pricing and go try some on at the mall or something to see what looks and feels good.

What do you think -- would you trust Etsy with a big purchase like this? If you're married (or soon to be and you have rings already), did you find a sweet deal on rings somewhere? Lemme know!


I forgot to mention that Jon had jokingly suggested he have my cat rendered in cake form as his groom's cake, an idea that I immediately shot down. Take this cat cake, for example:

WHO COULD EAT THIS?? IT'S TERRIFYING! I don't even want to know how you go about cutting this up. Who wants an ear?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

brainstorming the groom's cake

We were supposed to have another cake tasting tonight, but the cake dude got confused by the Labor Day holiday weekend and double-booked, so our appointment was pushed to next week. Even though I didn't get to eat cake tonight, I've spent some time thinking about it -- about the groom's cake in particular.

Jon has protested ever since our first cake meeting that he doesn't need a groom's cake. Pish posh, I say! We're in the South! Tradition demands it! Plus, this wedding isn't all about me. (Not that if I had my dream cake it would be a multi-tiered white one, but whatever.). If I get a cake, then so does he.

At our first cake tasting, it appeared from the photos that the baker's forte was the traditional chocolate-cake-with-logo approach:

However, as I am more interesting than white cake, so too is Jon more interesting than your basic logo'd layer cake. This coming Thursday my mom and I have an afternoon meeting with Highland Bakery's Karen Portaleo, billed on the website as the resident "sugar artist." It's a pretty apt description, actually. We've ordered three awesome cakes from her in the past, so I'm excited to talk to her about wedding and groom's cakes.

Since Karen knows her way around fondant-sculpting, I figure she's the one to talk to about serious groom's cakes. Jon's first idea a while back was to have a typewriter cake, in the style of the vintage typewriter I bought him for our first anniversary. I wonder how much something like the one below would cost?

Or maybe we should highlight Jon's musical prowess by getting a saxophone cake. This cake seems even more intense than the typewriter, but it's so cool! It's even the same kind of sax he has:

Continuing with the musical theme, there's always the Cakelele (ukulele cake, get it?) option:

Of course, my groom is a man of many interests. What about showcasing his love of books?

Perhaps his favorite baseball team?

His favorite toy?

Or the university that brought us together? I think Otto the Orange would make an excellent groom's cake:

We'll get some price quotes from Karen on Thursday, which will determine how elaborate a groom's cake we can consider. In the event that we need to simplify our design concept, we can always go for a cake in the shape of Idaho, Jon's home state. (Surprisingly, I could not find any pictures of Idaho cakes in my google searching!) All you need to do for that is hack up a sheet cake, right? How much simpler can you get?

The beauty of the groom's cake is that the possibilities are pretty much endless -- at least as the budget allows. What's the most badass groom's cake you've ever seen? Stay tuned to find out what Jon decides...