Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lay off me, I'm starving

After that brief divergence into I-will-never-ever-be-this-cool-or-stylish territory, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming... which is to say, I'm going to finish telling you about the things we have decided on at this point, beyond a wedding date. The third and final of these checked-off items is the really big one, at least in terms of payout: catering.

As is the case with many reception venues, ours came with a list of preferred vendors. Though I had heard of a few of the caterers on the list, I wanted to give everyone a fair shake in case there was a great value hidden among them. I started off by emailing, calling, or filling out an online form for each caterer and giving them my wedding date, the estimated number of people, and what sort of service and food we were interested in. At the recommendation of friends, I added two off-list caterers, both of whom assured me they would absorb the additional $1000 Puritan Mill tacks on when you don't use one of their preferred companies.

The first round of cuts was the easiest. Companies that sent back a generic, 40-page packet explaining all of their services? Out. Caterers who only sent back menus above what seemed to be a reasonable price point? Buhbye. People who just didn't respond? Clearly not interested in my business. After about a week or two of rounding up proposals, I had cut my list in half.

Phase two of this process took quite a bit longer. My mom left town to go to Russia for a week and a half shortly after our first tasting with one of the non-list caterers, so we put off conversations and tastings with the others until after her return. Unfortunately, her homecoming was delayed by a medical emergency, which resulted in a 35-day hospital stay once she arrived back in Atlanta. Once we realized she wouldn't be able to attend any meetings we scheduled for a couple of months anyway, my fiance and I set about communicating with the remaining caterers...

Check back tomorrow to hear how and who we eventually chose!

Monday, June 29, 2009

I know these people!

More accurately, I went to junior high and high school with these people. Ed would probably not be able to pick me out of a crowd, but I do legitimately know Ginny, the stunning bride!



photos by Josh Goleman

I hope I am even half as giddy and excited on my wedding day as Ginny looks in these photos. It wouldn't hurt if I also had an impeccable sense of style and a clutch of amazing SCAD-grad friends to pitch in with their design skills.

If you want to see more of Ginny & Ed's ridiculously awesome 1920s wedding, go here, here, here, and here, five times over.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Where's the party?

Although Jesse and Whitney at Our Labor of Love were at the top of my must-book-for-wedding list, we actually nailed down the reception venue first. That was another relatively painless undertaking. Here's how I did it, in five easy steps:
  1. Purchase a local wedding magazine. (If there's one for your area. Wait, who am I kidding?) I used The Knot Georgia and Brides Atlanta.
  2. Flip to the handy venue index at the back: this will tell you what venues can accommodate how many people, if they allow outside caterers, and a ballpark estimate of how much it will cost you. Narrow the field based on capacity and location.
  3. Go online and look at photos on venue websites. Check local wedding blogs, Yelp, and other review sites for a different perspective.
  4. Contact the venue and set up an appointment to see the space. When you meet with the site manager in person, you'll get their standard materials and get to ask all the questions you want.
  5. Compare, contrast... book!
My fiance and I only visited two sites. We axed a lot of lovely venues (ie: Rhodes Hall) from the get-go due to the number of people we were thinking we'd need to accommodate (200). We first looked at the Biltmore ballrooms -- they always look so elegant in photographs, and they're in midtown, which I like. When we got there, though, we decided that the space was a little too formal for our wedding. We also would be pushing the limit on comfort by trying to cram that many people and a dance floor in there, and we weren't particularly interested in paying for everyone to park in the on-site deck.

With the Biltmore out, we turned to another property within the same events group: the Foundry at Puritan Mill. This is much more of a blank slate -- it's an old soap factory on the westside of Downtown Atlanta, and it's one of those adaptive reuse projects that has retained its warehousey, industrial feel with exposed brick, beams, and a concrete floor. It's basically one huge room that can be divided up with these big sheer panels -- a nice juxtaposition of hard and soft, utilitarian and romantic. There's only one event space, so no other parties will be going on around ours. I'll go into more detail on our plans for the space later on (once we figure them out), but I will say that we loved that everyone will be in one big room together all night, that it's very private, and that parking comes free. Bonus!

Next up in the already-done series: catering! Stay tuned...
[photos from novareevents.com]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Top Chef found me a wedding photographer

Now that the basic background stuff is out of the way, it's time to dive into the adventures of planning. I've been engaged for about three months now and I don't feel like we're very far along, though we do have most of the big-ticket items nailed down (venue, photographer, catering).

One of my top priorities, once the planning began, was to find a kickass photographer. Actually, I had one in mind. I'm not one of those girls who had been planning a wedding in her head for years... but if I happened upon good photography, who could blame me for taking note?

Cast your mind back to June 2008, around the time of the Top Chef season 4 finale. Richard Blais, something of a local hero here in Atlanta, had earned a spot in the final round. Being a fan of the show and the chef, a posting on Gawker came to my attention the morning after part I of the finale aired: Richard's wife had had a baby, and Gawker was sharing the professional photos of the family. God bless attribution! The photographers' names were hyperlinked, introducing me to Our Labor of Love.

I was instantly smitten from the moment I saw those Blais baby pictures. I had seen a lot of stunning wedding photos and portraits from studios in Chicago or New York, but never had I seen any Atlanta photography like this. It was just so... awesome! Moving and wonderful and vibrant and alive... I probably spent half of my workday clicking through weddings, engagement sessions, family portraits and smilebooth photos, and I added them to my blog reader for good measure. I decided then and there that they would shoot my wedding, whenever it took place.

Fast-forward about ten months or so, to late March 2009. As soon as all the calls and mass emails to family and friends were complete and we had made our engagement "facebook official," I emailed Jesse and Whitney for their rates. I chatted them up a week and a half later at the NOT Wedding and met with them at Dynamic Dish later that same week with Jon in tow, and it was basically done. We met with one other photographer for comparison's sake, and to say we had done it, but I had my heart set on Jesse and Whitney long before I was even engaged. As soon as we nailed down a wedding date, we booked them. (Right now we've contracted for the basic package, but I'm hoping we'll be able to redirect some funds to the photography budget.)

Man, that was easy! I can only hope the rest of the choices to be made are as obvious as this was. Richard, I owe you one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wookin' pa nub* -- the long and short of it

Actually, I wasn't really *looking for love when I went off to grad school in Syracuse, NY, but it's a pretty safe bet that when you're part of a small niche program, you'll probably meet some interesting people who value and appreciate many of the same things you do. Indeed, I met Jon, my intended, at an impromptu Fourth of July grad student cookout. Our friendship developed in the halls of the Newhouse complex, over brown-bagged (actually, Tupperwared) lunches on the shady part of the patio, and in the Warehouse lounge. We drove together to most of our field trips that summer and sat at the far end of the table in class. When I lost a friend from college almost two months after school began, I cried to him on the phone. Another couple of months after that, when he finally confessed that he liked me, I was pretty adamant in my confusion (I was having a hard time) and protested that he didn't really want to get involved with me... but he did, and we've been together ever since.

So, skipping a bit, here we find ourselves, two writer/musicians engaged and living in Atlanta. I've returned to my hometown, but Jon came here from Moscow, Idaho, by way of Syracuse -- not a common path, I'd reckon. Having moved around the Southeast quite a bit as a child, I think he feels pretty well at home in Atlanta. We've been here almost two years now, and are excited to show all the folks who will be celebrating our wedding with us that Atlanta's an excellent town.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome!

Hello, readers! I'm glad you've found your way to my latest blogging venture, A Wedding Runs Through It. As I thought about what to call this blog, I wanted to find something descriptive, but not so specific as to be easily forgotten or cut me out of Google searches. Some sort of cultural reference tends to be my fallback when I'm at a loss, and this case isn't any different. Had I gone with a Wayne's World reference, as I am wont to do (see: Whimsical, yet relevant), this probably would have ended up being called "Marriage is Punishment for Shoplifting in Some Countries." Somehow, that's not quite the sentiment I'm going for here.

Instead, I've borrowed a quote from one of my favorite books (and an excellent movie), A River Runs Through It. Rhythmically, it fits to sub in "wedding" for "river" without losing the cadence of the phrase, so that's a bonus. The more I think about it, though, the more appropriate the title seems. Most of us don't have the luxury of planning a wedding full-time without any other distractions or obligations -- life carries on at its harried pace, and one's wedding generally winds its way to completion amid work, rehearsals, travels, apartment moves, naps, family emergencies, and all the other stuff that comes up in everyday existence.

(If I were going full-on Norman Maclean, here is where I would conclude this post with "I am haunted by [weddings]." Also not quite what I'm aiming for.)

My wedding day is just about 11 months away at this point, so I hope you'll follow along as I plan the big event and hunt for vendors, ideas, and inspiration. Who knows, maybe I'll inspire you in the process...