Friday, December 31, 2010

some thoughts for the new year

This time last year, I was in about the same spot I am right now: on Jon's folks' couch in Moscow, Idaho, following a delicious meal cooked by Susan and Steve, waiting to ring in the new year (sans television) with a champagne toast in the kitchen. Last year, with the wedding looming five and a half months away, Jon and I spent our time here addressing save-the-date postcards and trawling through thousands of old family photos as we planned for the big day. I had at least the first five months of the year mapped out by New Year's Eve. This year, we've been playing in the snow and getting acquainted with Moscow Mountain, where Jon's family just bought a cabin. Looking ahead to 2011, I have no idea what's coming next. I'm hoping for big changes in some parts of my life, but I know I'm going to have to work really hard to make things happen for myself.

Snow on Moscow Mountain

This moment in time is, in many ways, an odd one to use as punctuation. (Then again, whose life sorts out neatly into January-to-January chunks? Certainly not mine -- I can't even bring myself to move on from an academic-year calendar.) As 2010 expires, Jon and I are seven months into our marriage and six months into dog ownership; Jon's three months into a new job; and I'm in the midst of one of those typical twenty-something periods of searching, largely ushered in by job dissatisfaction and new interests I discovered over the course of planning and blogging about our wedding. There are about a hundred different directions I think I could go with myself, if only I could find the time or figure out exactly how.

Jon and I fly back to Atlanta tomorrow to begin a new calendar year in our life together. Who knows what it will bring? Though I tend to be a planner, I'm kind of looking forward to having a year of great wide open. My hope for myself is that I'll be able to see past the discomfort of not always knowing and instead look for the possibility in everything and everyone.

flying over the Palouse

P.S. Happy New Year to all of my blog buddies -- thank you for (still) reading! I've got something new up my sleeve... but you'll have to wait until 2011 to find out what it is!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old-Timey Tuesday: Epic Eighties

So, I know it's not Tuesday, but I'm calling this an Old-Timey Tuesday post anyway. This addition to my archive of family wedding fashion is one that I didn't nab last year when I was out here in Idaho -- I think I was wary of stirring up bad juju by posting family photos I found amusing -- but have wished I had on many occasions since. However, now that our wedding is long past, I figure I can share it with minimal fear of wedding karma coming back to haunt me. (Right?)

So, without further ado and to cap off the Old-Timey series, I give you this young bride in all her resplendent 1981 Eliza Doolittle/Mary Poppins/hat-and-parasol glory:

I mean... WHOA. Can anyone top that?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

I mentioned in my post about our wedding video the other day how well our siblings did in crafting and delivering their toasts. In keeping with tradition, the best man went first and the maid of honor went second. Jon's witty younger brother is out in L.A. trying to make it as a television/comedy writer, so my sister, a very clever but less occupationally humorous lawyer, was a little nervous to follow him.

As it turned out (and as I had assured her), she had no need to worry. She worked up a hilarious, smart toast that was as sweet as it was unexpected. It was structured as a riff on The Night Before Christmas, which we would all read together on Christmas Eve as children. As it is presently the night before Christmas, and since I was just bragging on my sister, I wanted to share it with y'all. (She gave me her copy to keep after she was done.)

First, a few disclaimers: 1) there are a few inside jokes that might not translate; 2) my cat is not a devil cat, he's the sweetest kitty ever; and 3) that mix tape/CD was actually pretty good. The only real dud was a Britney Spears tune I included as a joke. Alright! With all that said, I give you my sister's brilliant wedding toast:

'Twas the eve of her wedding, and in the Poe house
Kathleen sat and reflected on her future spouse.
She thought of his writing, his saxomaphone,
But OH, he watches LOST, she thought with a groan.

It was just a few years prior at the school known as 'Cuse
That our hero, JR, had been first introduced.
But before we raise a glass to this magical pairing,
A brief history of my Seester with you I'll be sharing.

Kathleen was called munchkin, and right from the start
With a sweet, impish grin she stole everyone's heart.
She played sports, she took dance, but where she truly excelled
Was in music; when she sang all were under her spell.

Where on earth did this amazing talent come from?!?
She even sounds good if you just hear her hum!
Some said it was genetics -- have you heard our dad sing?
Some said it was hard work -- but if you ask her siblings

It was in the car that this young songbird was trained:
Road trips with her sister, their brother's ears pained.
"No more Indigo Girls!" he cried, "No more Andrew Lloyd Webber!
No more 'Cats'! No more 'Rent'! No more singing whatsoever!"

Two angels in the front seat, one grump in the back gawking.
He tried everything -- even NyQuil -- to escape from their squawking.
But the music played on, the singing persisted.
"You must join our program!" Northwestern insisted.

From performing to teaching to writing reviews,
First Chicago, then Atlanta, and at long last, Syracuse.
There she met a young man with dark curly hair.
He said, "I'm from Moscow, Idaho." She said, "You're from WHERE?"

The two were fast friends, and soon after started dating.
She came home for the holidays and found her sister anticipating
A report on the young man who had captured her heart.
"Oh Emily," she said, "I have gotten off to a rough start.

"I made him a mix tape to accompany his adventures
But some of the selections I perhaps should have censored.
You know how there are things that just we think are funny?
Like beauty pageants, Three Amigos, and that bear fountain in Germany?

"This is one of those times, I feel kind of absurd.
In the middle of this mix I put 'The Lonely Goatherd.'"
"The song from Sound of Music with the yodeling puppets?" I said,
"Yeah, tough call. But don't get down in the dumps, at least not just yet.

"Could be this guy Jon has a great sense of humor.
And if he can handle your devil cat, as I hear is the rumor
And likes music and books and loves the Braves in baseball,
A few classic movies and showtunes is all

That you really might need to know you've found a winner."
And now here were all are, having just eaten dinner,
To toast, and dance, and party 'til dawn
To celebrate the wedding we all knew was on

From the moment that Jon loved that awful mix tape.
Foretold so wisely by her most elegant and charming sister Emily (the Great).
This happy young couple whose path has now led
Them up to the altar, has the brightest of futures ahead.

So cheers to our hosts -- Daddy, Llama -- for throwing this party,
Cheers to Susan and Steve for raising a hearty
Young man we have all come to love and adore.
His kindness and humor have won everyone o'er.

Cheers to our young couple -- we know your love is true;
And finally, from me: Seester, Jon, AH NUB NOO!


I mean, really. How ridiculous is that? Emily and Matthew set an absurdly high standard for wedding toasts that I'm not sure either Jon or I will ever live up to.

Speaking of me and Jon, we're off to Idaho around lunchtime tomorrow after we do Christmas things with my family -- I'll drop a post or two from the snowy Palouse, so stay tuned. In the meantime, Happy Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Christmas blogs, O Christmas blogs!

It's been a big week for me on the blogs, folks, a big week!

Yesterday, the oh-so-wise Tiny Wedding Planner at San Francisco Budget Wedding dispensed her advice on how to share holidays and stave off any homesickness. Click on over to read what she had to say!

Today, I've got a guest post on the brilliant Love Your Way blog as part of their ChristmaHanaKwanzica series on holiday traditions. I had a really tough time deciding what to write about -- there are so many things I love about this season! Click on the excellent graphic below to find out what I chose to share. There may or may not be some awesome old photos involved...

Many thanks to Sarah, Bean, Lizzie and Isaiah for having me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seven months, one DVD, a plethora of thoughts

Today, being the 22nd, marks another month of weddedness for me and Jon. Seven months! It doesn't seem like it's been such a long time, but the wedding seems so far removed these days.

As luck would have it, I now have a handy means of calling up the wedding should I ever feel like bringing it closer. My good friend Brock who filmed the wedding recently returned to Atlanta for the holidays, and yesterday he dropped off the wedding DVDs in our mailbox. What timing! It's the perfect Christmas/7-month-anniversary gift.

Jon and I were both a little worried we'd look stupid on camera, but we sucked it up (nothing we can do about looking silly then now!) and watched the DVD beginning to end. It's nothing fancy: literally just the straight-up, raw footage, with a few Camera 1-Camera 2 cuts during the ceremony portion. But it's exactly what I wanted, and more. I only asked Brock to tape the ceremony so we'd have a record of it, but he brought his camera to the rehearsal dinner and the reception and filmed all the toasts and our first dances and our exit through a shower of flower petals tossed by our guests, and I'm so glad to have those moments where you can see a little bit more of us, our friends and our interactions on tape. (Er, disc. Whatever.)

So, now that we've watched the whole shebang (OK, maybe we skipped ahead during the homily), a few observations:

Rehearsal dinner
  • The best man, Jon's younger brother Matthew, looked totally bored during the rehearsal dinner toasts given by our friends.
  • Our professor/thesis advisor used the word "milieu" in his toast while likening me and Jon to a famous composer/arranger-saxophonist couple in the world of jazz.
  • The grad school professors espoused quite a bit of revisionist history. But hey, what writer hasn't embellished a bit to enhance the telling of a story?
  • All of our friends in the wedding party are fast to very fast walkers.
  • Jon and Matthew were whispering in one another's ears during the bridesmaids' processional. SUBTLE.
  • As my processional began with a facemelting organ fanfare, the camera panned across the front of the church and caught Matthew picking something off of Jon's shoulder (gotta look sharp!)
  • I don't do slow and stately very well.
  • I blinked and closed-mouth smiled a lot during the ceremony.
  • Thankfully, the hymn sounded on the video like a congregation singing it, and not just me wailing into the mic Brock put on Jon. Relief!
  • Our DJ was totally awesome. (that's not news, it just bears repeating.)
  • The toasts. were. AWESOME. Matthew killed it. Emily KILLED it. Dad and my brother were pretty awesome as well.
  • Our first dance was... awkward. Jon and I looked pretty dinky and lame. We scrapped the fancy moves we had learned in last-minute lessons and defaulted to a basic box step. Thank god the song wasn't that long.
  • My dad and I, on the other hand, did really well! Also sort of awkward, but we had lots of pretty spins and a couple different steps in the mix. Wayne, our dance lesson teacher, would have been proud.
  • My dress moved beautifully! Sigh.
  • Jon sorta let his mom lead during their dance.
  • At the end of the video, as I'm about to get into the towncar that will whisk us away, I look over the roof of the car and wave to the camera/Brock. I really like that moment. It's me!
Everything was pretty much as I remember it, which is refreshing. It's nice to be able to see it as it actually was, but it's also reassuring to confirm that my mind was there and processing it all at the time. I looked very pretty and happy, Jon looked very dapper and happy. Happiness all around!

I still stand by our decision not to hire a videographer, even though there are some awesome ones out there. Photography was absolutely my top priority in terms of recording the occasion, and the incredible pictures Jesse and Whitney took are so far beyond what I imagined they would be. I like the honest, archival quality of what Brock gave us; no montages, no recreated shots, no soundtracking. This is something we'll be able to show our kids, and they'll see everything exactly how it happened, way the hell back in the day in 2010. How sweet is that?

Monday, December 13, 2010

dueling weddings

It's bound to happen sooner or later: two (or more) of your engaged friends choose the same date for their weddings. In a best-case scenario, the events will be in the same city at different times of day; worst-case, they'll be in different parts of the country, making the timing irrelevant. How do you pick? As a couple, you can try to divide-and-conquer tactic, but I find that approach unsatisfying: unless I can split myself in two and be more than one place at once, I'm gonna be missing something.

For months and months now, I've known that two awesome weddings on my calendar would fall on the same day. I've agonized, I've puzzled, I've kept mum about the conflict to any of the to-be-wedded parties and I've dreaded eventually having to pick between these two pairs:

Couple no. 1
Jon and I are both friends with both halves of this couple, whom we met in our grad school program at Syracuse. (They actually came to the program as a couple, while Jon and I met and got together there.) The groom-to-be was a groomsman in our wedding (which is where the photo at left, by Our Labor of Love, comes from), the bride-to-be is the most stylish person I know, and they're both brilliant writers and hilarious people. They're getting hitched in their hometown of Pittsburgh, and you know it's gonna be badass, because these kids know how to party.

Couple no. 2
I've been friends with this groom-to-be since junior high. We sang together then and we sing together now in the ASO chorus and in church choir, where he met his lovely fiancee. He and Jon became friends (via me) not long after we arrived in Atlanta and even had a few workday lunches together. The bride-to-be and I became fast friends sitting next to each other in church choir and rooming together on our symphony chorus trip to Berlin last December (during which the photo at left was taken). Jon and I ran into this couple on their first date and have been hanging out with them ever since.

How on earth am I supposed to choose??

May 14 is the big day for both of these couples... or so I thought! I swear I must be psychic because just this weekend, I was wishfully thinking that one of them would move their wedding date -- totally unrealistic, but I wished it nonetheless**. In retrospect, I'll call it a premonition. I was sad after some wedding-related conversations with couple no. 2 that I might not be able to be a part of their celebration, but I resolved to wait for more details on couple no. 1 before I committed one way or the other and confessed my decision.

And then! Last night, just before I snapped my laptop shut for the night, I got an email from couple no. 1 with the subject line "SAVE THE DATE! ______ & _____'s Wedding — May 7, 2011!" Jon had retired about 10 minutes earlier, but as soon as I saw the email, I shouted down the hall to him, "Ooh! OOOH! Exciting news!!!" Problem solved! I guess our grad school friends have done some shuffling since last we talked in specifics about their wedding, which was some time ago. (I don't like to bother people for wedding details even though I totally want to know them, let's be honest. Call it etiquette, whatever.)

Anyway, I'm totally thrilled that this has worked out, but I know things don't and won't always shake out like this. It's such a relief!

*I didn't want to splash my friends' photos, names and wedding business all over the internet without asking and I really dislike referring to people by their initials (plus, how would you know which is the girl-initial and which is the boy-initial?), so this is my solution.

** I was actually going to blog about my mental anguish over this situation today even before I got that email... I'm TOTALLY psychic!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the dress, post-wedding

Tonight I had a dress rehearsal for the first Christmas concerts of the season at the ASO. During the break between pieces, I went to congratulate one of my fellow chorusmates who recently got engaged and ended up in a little gossip circle of sopranos talking weddings. (Somehow it still hasn't gotten old... go figure.) Celia, newly affianced, had just found her wedding dress the day before Thanksgiving; it was her first day of shopping, the last shop she visited. She passed her camera around and we all oohed and ahhed at the beautiful gown she'd chosen.

One of the girls (Erin, my chorus bride-buddy who got married the weekend before we did) told Celia how much she had loved her own wedding dress (at right). So much so, in fact, that she puts it on probably twice a week, just to sit around in it and feel pretty. Come home from work, take a bath, put on wedding dress. (Yes, she admitted, her husband thinks it's weird.) "It's so comfortable!" she exclaimed. Plus, why would you spend all that money just to wear a gorgeous dress once and stash it away? (Plus plus, Erin says, her husband wore khaki slacks with a navy blazer for their wedding and gets to wear his wedding-day attire "all the time." Why shouldn't she get to do the same?)

She asked me what I had done with my dress since my wedding day -- actually, I think she asked me how many times I had put on my dress since the wedding (that would be zero) -- and I told her that it's still at the cleaners. Cautious person that I often am when it comes to expensive things, I went the opposite direction from Erin and had my dress preserved. Why would you spend all that money and not take care of your investment? I suppose that's what I thought. I didn't really know what else to do with it. Besides, the cleaning was going to be so expensive that I figured I might as well cough up the extra for the preservation treatment and fancy box. (What's another couple hundred bucks at this point, really? AGH.)

(Note: I dropped off my dress in July, and they told me it would be ready in about two months. Last week I realized it had been much longer than that and called to make sure they still, uh, had it. Turns out the fancy boxes are on backorder. I'm just glad they didn't lose it!)

Now, my dress was not uncomfortable, but it's not exactly something I'd loll about the house in. It's a ballgown with a whole lotta skirt, and it's also hemmed to wear with 3.5-inch heels. Add to that the fact that I've got a cat with claws and now a crazy puppy, and we're quickly heading toward shredded-dress territory. Erin's dress, on the other hand, is a slimmer A-line cut -- much easier to slip on and off and fairly normal to move around in, I gather. Still, it has lace and some beading on it, which I'd worry about messing up. She also has cats, but I guess they must be very well behaved...

At any rate, all this got me thinking. Former brides, what did you do with your dress post-wedding? Is it in the back of your closet, cleaned and packed away? Hanging on the back of your door, waiting to be cleaned? Have you put it on since your wedding? (Have you even considered putting it on since your wedding?) Will you hang onto it or try to recoup some money by selling it? Offer use of it to friends who want to save money on their own weddings?

There are, of course, countless possibilities, as there are countless types of people out there. So I wanted to do an informal survey: what did (or will) you do with your wedding dress once it's had its big debut?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Six months ago...

Jon and I got hitched! Hard to believe, isn't it? Sometimes I look at the (amazing, incredible) photos and can hardly believe it happened at all. Not that I don't remember the day, just, like... that was me? Us? Bizarre. And yet here we are, six months down the road*, newly wed, newly puppied, but otherwise carrying on much as we did for the 10 months we lived together before the wedding.

In honor of making it this far without losing our rings or wanting to kill each other, we're going on what I'm calling Honeymoon 2.0 this weekend. The first time around, we took Canada by storm, spending most of our week non-stop exploring Quebec City and Montreal on foot. In retrospect, I realized I might have liked some time to sit around and luxuriate in our lack of agenda after the wedding. So, for Friday and Saturday, we're heading about an hour and a half north to Barnsley Gardens, a resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, to chill, hike, eat, read, lounge, wander, whatever. (And I just might have to spring for a horseback ride, if I get to feeling spendy.) Ahhh!

Generally we wouldn't acknowledge this quasi-milestone in such a fashion, but back in the spring I won a sweepstakes from Atlanta magazine that included in its grand prize a two-night stay at this resort. The weekend after Thanksgiving was the only available one at the resort that worked for us, so it's just serendipity that this getaway has fallen about a half-year since the wedding (and right before the onset of the holiday crush).

Who knows, though; I might have to tell the folks at the resort restaurant that we're celebrating an actual anniversary and see if they'll send out a free dessert...

*more on this soon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

holiday cards: done and done

As much as I would have liked to design and letterpress our first family holiday card, well... it just wasn't going to happen. November starts and my life gets crazy for the next two months with holiday concerts and church choir rehearsals and running around in general. Maybe the time change has something to do with it...

Anyway, when I saw all the awesome design options on minted, I decided to take the old reliable throw-money-at-it approach with my holiday card quandary. I found some coupon codes online to lessen the damage to my credit card and ordered away. Here's what we ended up with:

Now, normally I would go the "happy holidays" route as opposed to "merry christmas" to ensure that the sentiment catches all of my friends, but none of those designs appealed as much as this one did, or worked as well with our card-friendly photos. Merry Christmas it is!

It's a flat card, but at minted you can get exciting things printed on the back, so I did. There's another photo in the corner, and we wrote a quick rundown of our year to go with it. It's short and sweet -- a nice happy medium between a photo card and a Christmas letter, I think, and one that befits our station in life.

This coming Sunday I'm taking a letterpress holiday card workshop that will yield another 25 cards, so I've got some something to send in case I run out of the ones from minted. I'm feeling pretty good that I'll have them all in hand before November's out, though. Hopefully that means I'll get them in the mail before the new year!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Makeup by Tara Young: she'll make you really, really, ridiculously good-looking

Finding someone to do my makeup for the wedding was one of the easiest parts of my planning process, and one of the best investments I made as well. One of my best friends' older sisters got married about a year before I did, and I remembered thinking that my friend (the maid of honor) and the rest of the wedding party looked AMAZING (without seeming overly made-up). Her secret? Airbrushing! I asked my friend for a link to some wedding photos to confirm that I remembered correctly, then emailed her sister to ask who did their magical makeup. Turns out it was Tara Young, who by day runs the makeup department at CNN in downtown Atlanta. Nothing like a seasoned pro!

(Note to all brides: Don't be sheepish! Ask your acquaintances, friends, and friends' sisters and mothers if you have seen something you like! Referrals are a great way to find sweet wedding vendors.)

The day of the wedding, Tara and her younger sister (who comes along when there are more than five or six people to be made up) turned up at my folks' house around noon to set up and get started. They placed two chairs facing out in front of the large dining-room window that overlooks the front lawn and arrayed their supplies on a table between them. I have never seen so much makeup in one place! They came armed with a wide range of foundation colors, a bajillion brushes and dozens of palettes of blushes and eyeshadows. (The first picture below is Tara's foot (I think), standing on the cord of the airbrush machine... such a cool shot.)

Now, I didn't demand that my bridesmaids have their hair and makeup done -- lord knows they'd already be spending enough with the dress/shoe/travel/lodging combo -- but I did offer to make appointments for any who were interested and let them know the pricing on the makeup. In the end, all but one of us had our hair done (ranging from $33 to $100) and all the girls and my mama got full airbrushed makeup ($75 including a lip gloss to keep), though some opted not to get fake eyelashes.

We had about three hours in which to get everyone's makeup done, and Tara and her sister did a great job of moving folks through the chairs. While they were making us all pretty, they were chatting and laughing with all of us. They clearly have a lot of fun working together!

Bridesmaid after bridesmaid came back into the den looking perfectly radiant as I awaited my turn. (Even my practically translucent redheaded bridesmaid, who had been worried that any foundation would be too dark on her skin, was thrilled.) I think everyone was pleasantly surprised by how light the airbrush makeup felt and how well it stayed put. My mom, my sister and I were the last to go since we were waiting for the photographers to arrive and also wanted to have the freshest faces for the afternoon and evening.



me & my sweet kitty, Little Man

Bridesmaids all suited up and getting ready to head to the church

As you can see from the photos, we all look really. damn. good. I mean, let's give credit where credit's due! I won't rehash any of the portraits or anything, but here are a couple of pre-wedding shots from the church that show off Tara and her sister's brilliant handiwork:

Last but not least, evidence that airbrush makeup and well-applied fake eyelashes will hold up through an emotional day and a night of hard partying:

Still lookin' good! (Note: my brother had no makeup on. He's just naturally that pretty.) I can't recommend Tara and/or her sister's work enough. They were absolutely a joy to work with, and the price was more than reasonable for the service. If I ever need to look flawless for any occasion again, I know exactly who I'm calling.

* all photos by Our Labor of Love

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unique Floral Expressions: killer flowers that won't kill your budget

It's been so long since I started the whole recap process on the blog that I almost forgot I hadn't reviewed a few of my most excellent vendors, as promised. So! Today I wanted to write a bit about the awesome florist we worked with, Julie Coffin, and show some more gorgeous pictures of the bouquets, etc.

Julie's company is Unique Floral Expressions, and it's based out of her home in Marietta, which helps her keep costs down. A friend's mother had told my mom during some wedding chatter that one simply could not obtain proper wedding flowers in Atlanta for less than $5,000, so when our initial estimate came in at less than half that amount, Mama and I both were pretty thrilled.

We liked Julie from the moment she welcomed us into her home. Our first of two meetings lasted for nearly two hours because she was so easy to talk to and so thorough and helpful. Like a dutiful bride, I had been clipping photos of flowers I liked. Most of the photos involved dahlias, which, as it happens, are definitely not in season in May. Oops! Julie steered me toward the beautiful peony instead. Such a good call, as you can see:

We kept in touch via email during the planning-lull months, and mom and I met with Julie one more time closer to the wedding to talk about numbers and a few changes before we finalized the proposal. My main concern was that, having chosen to go with bright colors and shades of blue and red, the bouquets and altar flowers would be too God-Bless-America. Julie completely understood that I wanted different textures and gradations of color in my bouquet and knew exactly how to make it entirely non-patriotic. My flowers were so much more beautiful than I ever imagined!

Julie did the usual wedding party flowers -- bouquets for the girls, boutonnieres for the guys -- except that our mothers carried nosegays rather than wearing corsages. These were made of the same gorgeous red peonies I had in my bouquet as well as some freesia, I think. (You can see one of the nosegays in the picture below, second bunch of flowers from the left.) They looked great against our moms' dark dresses.

In addition to the wedding party flowers, Julie created a lovely altar arrangement for the ceremony, decorated our cake with red ranunculus and cornflowers (above), arranged 25 centerpieces (none of which I ever saw -- I was seated at a candle-heavy-centerpiece table), and made a lovely tossing bouquet (so that any of the girls who cared to could hang onto hers).

Last but not least, Julie also provided plenty of flower petals for our guests to throw at us at the end of the night as we left the reception. White flower petals were pretty much the only thing we were allowed to toss at our venue. I was originally hoping for confetti, but this was the next best thing. I love this shot:

If anyone out there is looking for a brilliant florist in the Atlanta area who is easy to work with and easy on your budget, give Julie at Unique Floral Expressions a call. She did an amazing job for us. I couldn't have been happier with her work!

*all photos by Our Labor of Love

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

holiday/wedding tchotchkes

Last week, the Christmas tree stand that takes over the middle school playing field behind my house began setting up, and last night I had my first symphony chorus rehearsal of holiday repertoire. Somehow, it's November! This fact, along with the intermittently chilly weather outside, has me thinking once again about all things holiday festive.

In particular, I've been pondering Christmas ornaments. (Not a huge surprise from the girl who had an ornament shower around this time last year.) I first started thinking in terms of Otto and Little Man, and how maybe we should get some of those picture-framey ornaments so they are represented on our tree. That led to thinking about a "puppy's first Christmas" ornament -- do such things exist? Am I crazy enough to try and find out? -- and then, of course, an "our first Christmas" ornament for me and Jon.

(Nevermind that I bought a snowboarding miniature moose keychain on our Canadian honeymoon that I will convert into a Christmas tree ornament. Nevermind the ceramic maple leaf ornament my parents gave us after a summer trip to Vancouver, or the painted porcelain bauble Jon brought home from Amsterdam last week. What I definitely need is another Christmas ornament, right?)

In an extremely brief search of Etsy and Macy's, this came out on top:

I like how it marks the year and conveys wedding without saying "our first Christmas together." (It's really not our first Christmas together, just the first one for which we've been married.) I also like that it's blue. Normally I don't go for this sort of cheesy trinket, but when it comes to Christmas ornaments, I am a total sap.

Is anyone else out there considering a holiday somesuch to commemorate a significant year or event? I'm probably going to end up buying this, even though part of me thinks it's a little bit lame... but hey, some future generation will probably think it's pretty sweet.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

sad days

Hey y'all. I had planned to get back on track with blogging this week, but on Monday my friends' dear, sweet mother passed away unexpectedly. She had been diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant form of cancer this past summer and was in the midst of treatments and handling them pretty well, so the timing of her passing came as a shock to everyone. It's hard to believe someone so bubbly and vivacious (even during her illness) is no longer with us. I've basically been ignoring that fact since I heard the news; I don't think it will hit me until the service tomorrow.

Here is Susan, at right, in June 2009 with her daughters (and my good friends) Tricia and Jenny at Jenny's wedding. Such a gorgeous family:

And here she is dancing with her wonderful fiance Bill at our wedding this past May, before they knew anything was terribly wrong:

It's one of my favorite pictures of our guests, and it's become even more special given the circumstances. Susan was just gleeful about life and love, and it's written all over her face here.

Anyway, if you think of it send up some prayers/good vibes/happy thoughts for the Coyne family and all of Susan's friends in the coming days and weeks. I'll be back to blogging soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Carnegie Hall, here I come!

You may have notice that posting has been a little light of late. My best excuse is that I'm getting back into the swing of things with all my various and sundry choir rehearsals and performances. I had my first performance week with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus last week, and this morning we're headed up to New York (along with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) to perform at Carnegie Hall. I think this will be my third time there since I joined the chorus in 2005. Here I am smack dab in the middle of the photo the paper ran with a story about our trip in 2006:

I'm famous! Right? At any rate, if you're in New York and want to hear some good music on Saturday night, here are the details. I'll be back next week!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

pro pics of my amateur invitations!

If you've been following this blog all along, you'll certainly remember my thorough account of the invitation-printing process; if you picked up at some point after our invitations went out in late March, please direct your attention to the "invitations" tag for the whole tale. Long story short, I learned how to letterpress and then made our whole invitation suite!

After all the effort I put into the invitations, I completely forgot to set a few aside to be photographed on our wedding day when Jesse came to my parents' house to catch us getting ready. DOH. You always see these beautiful pictures of invitation suites, but no one ever tells you that you need to set them out for the photographer! (Or maybe they do, on those exhaustive shot list blog posts I completely ignored...)

At any rate, Jesse graciously agreed to snap a few shots of our pretty invitations for me after the fact (you can see my own attempt at documentation here). Here are her lovely shots of our totally amazing, excellent invitations!

photos by Jesse at Our Labor of Love

Now, aren't you impressed? You should be! (Kidding. Not entirely.) Thank you, Jesse!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

on the holidays, continued...

I've made an effort to send Christmas cards ever since I graduated college in 2005, but, unfortunately, not in any sort of organized manner. In the past, I've handwritten notes inside store-bought cards or glued them onto the back of Shutterfly-made photo cards, which created a lot (LOT) of work for me. So much that have I set aside cards for VIPs, wanting to be sure to take time to send thoughtful notes, and have never gotten around to writing them. (OOPS. Sorry, very important people!)

Despite my past failings, I'm determined to become a regular sender of holiday cards. This year, I've got up-to-date addresses for family and friends near and far as well as some pretty damn awesome professional photos of me and the mister, so it's gonna happen and it's gonna be good. I resolve to not write long notes (having just sent most of these people wedding thank-yous), which will ensure that I get cards to everyone on my list!

The possibility exists that I will design and letterpress my own greetings and slap on a picture, but in the (very likely) event that I do not have the time for such a project, I've been looking around online for options. I've eliminated offerings from Shutterfly and other generic photo printing sites due to lame designs, and wasn't having a lot of luck elsewhere until earlier today, when this blog directed me to Minted's holiday collection of photo cards. DUH. Why didn't I think to look here?

There are so many hip, festive, uncluttered designs (and some cluttered ones too, if that's your thing) to choose from I don't even know where to begin. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye on the first pass-through:

Pretty cool, huh? I'll let you know what I land on. I'm taking a letterpress holiday card workshop (mostly as a refresher course) next month and obviously some cards will come out of that, but I don't know if they'll be the cards I send out.

Aside from choosing the cards, we have to decide who will be on the list of card recipients. Should it be just those out-of-town folks we don't see often? Our closest friends? My parents send a Christmas card and letter to some family members and old friends, but it's a list of about 30. Some of my friends' parents send a cards to all of their friends. I'm more inclined toward the latter, but I also know how postage (and stationery) can add up. Next year, holiday card costs are gonna be a line item in the budget! (You know, the budget I haven't started making yet... ha.)

Do any of y'all send holiday cards? How do you pick who gets them? Have you found any awesome, reasonably priced purveyors of custom holiday cards? Do tell!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a wedding present that loves us back

Happy half-birthday to the cutest, most high-maintenance wedding present Jon and I received: Otto, our puppy! (Jon's younger brother was the very generous giver of the puppy-present.) He's six months old today. This time next week we'll have had him for four months. As a lifelong cat person, I'm still adjusting, but things are going pretty well.

It's noots how much Otto has changed since he turned up in June. (The first three pics below are from the day we got him). Without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, a much-longer-than-necessary puppy photo retrospective:

Daww, isn't he sweet? The bandage and the shaved spot on his arm in the two most recent photos are from his neutering operation last week (poor buddy). Otto definitely demands a lot more attention (and upkeep costs) than any of the other wedding presents we got, but he's been an excellent addition to the family. Jon is in love with the dog, and I like him pretty well too. As long as Little Man (my kitty) still loves me, I'm good to go! I have to keep all of my fellas happy.

Did anyone else get a live wedding present? Something way more exciting than the norm? Do tell!