Sunday, February 28, 2010

This just in: Llama bought a dress!

Huzzah! My mama ordered herself a pretty dress for the wedding!

I know it's a weight off her shoulders to finally have this done -- not to mention she must be relieved to not have to go running around town looking at more fancy dresses, 95 percent of which seem to be just plain ugly. I'm pleased to report that the dress she got is in the 5-percent minority of simple and lovely gowns. And it wasn't even that expensive, as these things go. Bonus!

Mom sealed the deal this afternoon during her third visit to Bride Beautiful. My sister and I were both on hand to opine about the dress this time, but once Mom stepped out of the dressing room looking so chic and elegant there wasn't much to discuss, aside from which color would be best. Picture this in classic navy:

Very pretty, no? That's the one! It turns out that it does indeed come with the brooch pictured, but it's only pinned on, so Mom can keep it or lose it. Since the wedding is sneaking up pretty quickly, Mom put a super-rush on her order -- that means it should be here in early April, leaving plenty of time for any necessary alterations.

So, hooray! Unexpectedly productive Sunday! One more thing to cross off the ol' to-do list...

Friday, February 26, 2010

lingerie shower poetry FTW

When the first of my high-school girlfriends got engaged back in 2005, my mom and I hosted a lingerie shower and brunch in her honor for "the girls" and our moms. It was such a rousing success that we declared it a tradition to be repeated whenever one of the gang was engaged. Three years later another friend (one of my bridesmaids) got married, and as per our pledge, we did it again before her wedding! Both times it has been tons of fun, and a very special (and often very amusing) thing to share with each other and our mamas.

Now that I'm the one getting hitched, the hostessing duties have been picked up by two other mother-daughter pairs. I got my invitation in the mail today -- wahoo! -- and it's so epically awesome that I just had to share it. I know wedding shower invites often have cheesy little rhymes, but this rises above the usual schlock. Abby, the bridesmaid also known as my hetero lifemate and/or other half of my brain, has long been a master of clever poetry, and this little ditty is no exception:

I cracked up when I read it -- I can just envision my friends pelting me with lacy panties or something. (Stone and Linsky are my friends' married names, FYI.)

This shower will happen in about a month as part of my bachelorette weekend -- we wanted to get two birds with one stone for the folks who live out of town and are able to make the trip home. No word on other plans for that weekend yet, although I've dictated that there shall be no strippers and that we should try to do whatever partying we do as cheaply as possible. I'm thinking old-school sleepover, only with more booze than before. Eh? Any of y'all have brilliant ideas for bachelorette festivities that don't involve going out to crappy clubs or an abundance of plastic penis paraphernalia?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You can thank me later, out-of-town guests!

It seems that hotel welcome bags for out-of-town guests have become a fixture of the wedding world. For those who aren't familiar with the concept, the bride and groom often assemble packets containing directions and information for the wedding weekend, toss in a few bottles of water, snacks and a tchotchke or two, and leave these packages with the front desks of the hotels where their guests will be lodging. When the guests arrive, they'll get a bag of info and goodies along with their room keys.

Obviously this sort of thing isn't a necessity, but since Jon and I have invited a fairly large out-of-town contingent, many of whom aren't terribly familiar with Atlanta, we figure it's a nice gesture. Plus, we've got a reputation to uphold -- they don't call it Southern hospitality for nothing! We're still figuring out what all will go into the welcome bags, but there is one thing I've known I needed to tie in from the start: Waffle House.

Because I have no shame when it comes to the pursuit of all things Waffle House, a month or so ago I dropped a line to the WaHo head of communications, with whom I'd had some contact back in 2005 for a freelance story I wrote about the restaurants. I explained that I was getting married in May and would love to be able to share the cultural institution that is Waffle House with all of my guests, especially since many of them know of my mild obsession with the chain. (I wish I could remember how it started, but I really don't... I mostly blame eBay.)

Long story short, their communications guy put me in touch with a colleague of his who got a guest count from me. Yesterday, said colleague sent me an email letting me know a package was on its way to me. There was a large box on our steps when I got home from work today, and inside it I found exactly what I had asked for:

200 free waffle coupons! That should cover all the out-of-towners and at least the wedding party! Sweet. BUT WAIT. There was more in that big box...

Your eyes do n0t deceive you: they sent me 200 Waffle House koozies too! It's the mother lode!!! (All of this was totally gratis, by the way!) I didn't think it was possible for me to love Waffle House any more than I already do, but they really went above and beyond with this. INCREDIBLE. I'm pretty sure this qualifies us for having one of the most awesome and delicious welcome bags of all time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A dress for Llama: Denied!

Last weekend Mom and I drove all over town to visit a few specific bridal stores that had certain lines or sizes of mother-of-the-bride dresses to see if we could improve on the dismal options we saw in the department stores the weekend prior. I wouldn't call the weekend's shopping a resounding success, but we did come away with some leads, which was a relief. Unfortunately, there is one word that has kept coming up throughout the search:

DOH. You know what that means... when the saleslady says it's the only one left and it can't be ordered, she's not just putting the hard sell on. We first ran into this Sunday afternoon at a boutique that only sells off-the-rack -- a good and a bad thing. They had a lovely (discontinued) navy dress in just the right size, but the beading on the top was in really bad shape. Here it is in purple:

Caterina 3006 (pic from a knockoff site)

The saleslady said she would give us 10 percent off for the problems, but beading is no walk in the park to fix back up, so we walked away and hoped that we could find the style online. Turns out this thing is thoroughly discontinued. I found one on eBay that is a few sizes too small and a couple of websites peddling knockoffs, but it looks like it's been some years since ol' Caterina 3006 was on the market.

Then yesterday, Mom went off on her own to peruse a couple more local shops she had found online. One of them, a place called Strictly Social, had an amazing and very encouraging website with hundreds of dresses in a wide range of sizes. Unfortunately, the store didn't offer all that the website did, as if often the case, and the ones Mom liked best were -- you guessed it -- discontinued. Like this pretty little number:

Would have been PERFECT. Alas!! I did find two random formalwear stores that had this online and possibly in the right size, but the big problem when dealing with fancy dresses and specialty stores is that anything you order is often not returnable. If mom bought a dress from a store, she'd be ordering fit-unseen, so it theoretically could look like total crap (even though I doubt it would). I guess that's what measurement charts are for, but still...

The good news is that there is a dress available at a reasonable price that Mom has tried on and liked well enough! (Of course, you'd always want to like a special occasion dress more than "well enough," but in the interest of time and frugality, that may just have to do here.) Here's the current front-runner:

Mom tried it on in this color, sans brooch thingy, and it looks really nice -- although she might go for the teal or navy that we saw swatches of. The ruffles at the neckline aren't really sleeves, but they provide about the same coverage as the first of the discontinued dresses did.

There are still more boutiques to peruse and department stores to visit and revisit in hopes of seeing new seasonal inventory, but we do sorta need to get crackin' since this shindig is less than three months away. I'll let you know how the search pans out. Does anybody have any more brilliant thoughts on where to find a good deal on mama dresses that aren't ugly or gaudy? What do you think of these three?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Old-Timey Tuesday: on hold!

For those of you wondering where Old-Timey Tuesday has been this week and last, just wanted to let you know it is on hold until I get my hands on the box of photos of my grandparents from my uncle. But! I'll be meeting up with him soon, so fear not. OTT will be back with fabulous retro loveliness in no time!

If only I lived in Berlin...

All my wedding transportation woes would be resolved! Behold, the Trabi limousine:

photo from

It's a stretch Trabant, the famed East German automobile turned "Ostalgie"/kitsch/Achtung Baby-era U2 icon. SO AWESOME.

As if the mere fact of a stretch Trabi weren't enough, check out the sales pitch on the English-language portion of the website:
Other limousines are simply boring!

Discover the most exclusive, indeed funniest and craziest car in Berlin. You will surely attract the attention and amazed glances of everybody you pass!

Take this opportunity and get into a piece of German history. Enjoy the mix of original Trabant-feeling, the luxury of space as well as the view of one of the world’s most fascinating metropolis: Berlin!

Treat yourself to an adventurous time with exciting highlights.

If that doesn't sell you on it, I don't know what will.

Monday, February 22, 2010

3 months!

Sweet fancy moses! Three months from today is May 22, our wedding day! Noots! (Noots = nuts, as in "that's nuts," for anyone confused.) By now you know what these monthly markers mean... it's time to check in with!

Today's to-do email from tells me, "Get your wedding favors." DONE. I was all over this last summer, and the whole shebang was taken care of by the end of September... take that, Knot! Score one for me.

The other two things wants me to do are find a hairstyle and plan my transportation. The hairstyle is something I have been pondering recently. I've got a haircut in two weeks, scheduled for the day of our first wedding shower so I can look extra nice for all of my parents' friends. I'll probably take a few "inspiration" pictures to my stylist at that appointment so she can get an idea of what I'm thinking and so we can schedule my trial. Otherwise, I've been on the lookout, so I'm not too worried about it. I think I'm pretty well on track with that piece. Oh, and in case you're wondering, here's the best wedding hair I've seen so far:

(pic from

My hair is getting pretty long, so I'd say this is within the realm of possibility. I even bought the same flower pins this bride used -- they're so simple and pretty.

Transportation, however... well. You may recall my unfortunate trolley fiasco of last month. No sooner had I posted a gushy blog about the awesome trolley I booked to get us from the ceremony to the reception when the operator (we'll call him Trolleyman I) emailed me back to tell me someone else had gotten a deposit in juuuuust before mine. BOO.

He kindly offered to put me in touch with a trolley-driving colleague of his (Trolleyman II) and managed to get me the same rate on a smaller white trolley the other company operates. I made contact with the new potential vendor, and then after about four emails, he just disappeared. Poof! I tried calling and emailing, to no avail, so I went back to the original guy, who told me that Trolleyman II was on vacation in Key West. Oh, no problem, I thought. We'll just touch base when he's back. Well, it's been about a month now and still no response to my many calls and emails. Again, BOO.

This morning I emailed that company and the original company I'd tried to book to see if I could make any headway. Trolleyman I emailed me back and said that if Trolleyman II didn't manage to touch base within the week, he would help arrange a minibus or other limo transportation for us, and if none of that works out he'll refund my deposit. I was pretty annoyed back in January that I hadn't earned any priority by having emailed with Trolleyman I about his services and even gotten a contract, but he is definitely making up for it by going above and beyond to help me out now.

In addition to a trolley/bus/limo/clown car, I'll need to get a ride for me and Jon from the reception back to whatever hotel (likely the W Midtown). At this point, it's looking like that will be a boring old (relatively inexpensive) town car or something. I haven't found anything vintage or cool that's not a stuffy/bank-breaking Rolls Royce, and it's not a long ride or anything, so... yeah. No big whoop.

That's where I stand at 3 months out, at least on these issues. Not bad! I've got this thing under control.

Friday, February 19, 2010

table numbers/letters

Our reception isn't a seated dinner, but rather a buffet/stations setup with full seating. Ideally, folks will all be sitting and eating at approximately the same time so I wanted everyone to have a place to sit, and I also wanted people to have a spot to leave their jackets/purses/favor-slash-escort cards when it's time for gettin' down on the dance floor.

That being the case, we're going to assign tables, but not seats. This begs the question, how will we designate which table is which?

Back in the summer, Jon and I tossed around complicated ideas about using our favorite albums on vinyl, or albums by bands we liked that had numbers in the name, or our favorite marks of punctuation or something nerdy like that to mark the tables. These days we're thinking more simple and straightforward, like the usual numbers. Of course, at this rate it looks like we may well need to use all of those 25 tables our venue has... which is almost 26... which is the number of letters in the alphabet! What do you think of table letters?

To stay in keeping with our other paper goods, we could print letters (or numbers, hell) in Jessica Hische's lovely Buttermilk font and just stick a sign in a picture frame. Or, we could go the 3-D kraft-paper-letters-from-Michael's route... meh. I don't know. I don't want this to cost me money or look cheesy, so perhaps understated is the best way to go.

Then last week, I had a flash of maybe-brilliance: Jessica Hische's daily drop cap project! We could use her colorful and fun letters in frames to spice up the tabletops without being too complicated about it all. Here are some of my favorites:





They might not all go with our color scheme, but I've told the florist that I am generally going for colorful, so it sort of works... right?

The real question is, is it worse to be seated at Table 9 (see 0:57) or Table F?

What do y'all think? What would/did you use to let people know where to sit?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gilding the Llama

The most frustrating part of wedding planning of late has been trying to find something for my sweet mama (we like to call her Llama) to wear. Now that we've gotten Jon a nice-fitting tuxedo and all of the other wedding party members are under control, it's time to find something for the mother-of-the-bride (and groom), stat! Would you like to see my Llama? Here she is:

(photo by Philip Vullo for Georgia Electric Membership Corporation
magazine. Random, I know, but Mom is just that popular)

Clearly a lovely lady such as this should not be consigned to a monochrome monstrosity! Unfortunately, that seems to be dominating the MOB dress market these days. We perused the offerings at Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and even Neiman Marcus last weekend and came away utterly discouraged. Most of what we saw fell into the following categories:

1. The frumpy top-fasten cardigan over tankdress

2. The stuffy jacket + skirt combo that swallows a petite mama whole

3. The dreaded and curiously ubiquitous layeredy/fish-scaley dress

If it wasn't one of these three, it was probably strapless and only came in size tiny. Everything we saw was a) ugly and b) only available in downright mournful colors. This is a May wedding, retailers! Why are you not accommodating our seasonal needs?

We hopefully browsed the more specialized selection at Bridals by Lori on Tuesday when we went for my fitting, but still no dice. Well, there was one that we liked... but it was nearly $1,400! Behold:

(Dress by Theia, for those curious. Couldn't find it online
but I did see a cocktail dress in the same color scheme here)

It is indeed lovely, but perhaps not $1,400 lovely, especially when Llama would prefer a longer sleeve.

The most promising lead we've picked up so far are the dresses from Siri. Not only do they have sleeved options, they also have many lovely colors, and you can choose to have a contrasting sash (on sashed dresses). Double score! Here are the favorites:

1. The June Carter gown (picture this with a long skirt with fewer pleats)

2. The Loretta Young gown

I love these because they are simple -- no beading, no unnecessary frills or appliques -- classic and (can be) colorful. Not to mention they keep one's arms covered without the hassle of a wrap or bolero paired with an unwieldy strapless dress. I love the open neckline on the first dress, but the Loretta Young is probably easier to wear with a normal bra, which is always a plus. And, compared to the other somewhat palatable MOB dresses we've seen, these seem pretty reasonable at about $420 apiece.

I've been emailing the company about rush charges (since we're pretty close to the wedding, oops) and Mom located a bridal boutique in Marietta that carries Siri bridesmaids. We're going to go check out fabrics and styles and swatches on Saturday... who knows, maybe we'll have ordered a dress by this time next week!

Anyone who has been through this process with their mama... where did you find her dress? Was it an ordeal or was it quick and easy?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

twine trickery!

The twine I ordered as a finishing touch for my invitations arrived today. Whee! I expected it in a box on the stoop -- I mean, 240 yards is a lot, and it looks like a pretty sizeable spool on the website, right? Observe:

Yeah, I was envisioning something about 10 or 12 inches tall, so when I opened my mailbox and saw a tiny mailer-bag from this company, I found it to be hilariously small. I may or may not have laughed out loud. Mini-me twine! It made me think of the type of joke setups you see in Austin Powers (and any number of other classic Mike Myers films)... I wish I could think of a better way to describe that, but, hey, it's late.

Clearly my sense of scale is wonky... I blame the tiny rubber ducky. Very clever, twine peddlers! Well, here's the real deal:

See? Tiny! Or tinier than one would expect, at least.* Am I the only one who was fooled by the website photos?

*Let the record show that I am not disappointed in the product, merely amused at my apparent utter lack of understanding of proportion and size :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

first fitting: uneventful, but productive!

After work today, I picked up my mama and headed to Bridals by Lori for my first fitting. After perusing the mother-of-the-bride offerings (more on that later), we wandered over to the alterations area where I was assigned a room and told to put on my shoes and my underthings, then crack the door and they would bring me my dress. Now, isn't that a pretty picture! While I was hanging out in my skivvies, I also put on some drop pearl earrings I had brought along and pinned my hair into a low bun.

The alterations assistant fetched my dress and I managed to step into it all by myself without catching the heel of my shoe on anything or tearing it. Victory! I emerged from the dressing room and one of the assistants fastened the hook and eye. We very quickly determined that the underthings I had brought along simply wouldn't do -- I had mail-ordered a couple of strapless bras a week ago so I would have one for the fitting, and the one I brought with me had a shape quite different than that of the dress's bodice. Doh! The assistant grabbed one of the in-house longline bras and we hopped back into the dressing room to swap it out.

While we were at it, I asked her about the option of having cups sewn in -- if you'll recall, my day-of-coordinator was allll about it at our last meeting. I wondered aloud if the cups had to be attached at this fitting or if it could be done at the next one, since when/if I lose weight I often lose in my bust first. Well, apparently it's a non-issue, because they only stock A and B cups. I asked what protocol for busty brides was, and the girl said, "Get a bra." Duly noted! And man am I relieved!

Back out in the common area, I stood on the little platform and added Grandma's pearls to see how they looked with the dress. They were lovely! (Necklace: check.) Linda, the seamstress, came over to chat and we decided that we'd hold off on adjusting the bodice, since I'm hoping to lose maybe 5 more pounds or so before the wedding. As it stands right now, I have at least 3 inches of excess dress that can be taken in at the waist -- the dress was big to begin with, as we had to order to my largest measurement, aka my chest -- but we're going to wait until closer to the date so (a) I'm about the same size as I will be for the wedding, (b) she won't have to alter it twice and (c) I have appropriate and not-ill-fitting undergarments.

Ultimately, during our appointment, Linda just determined how much of the dress to hack off so that when I go back for my next fitting/bodice adjustment the dress should be the right length. My veil had just gotten into the store, so we added it to the ensemble and took the obligatory picture, then set my next appointment for two months from now and went along our merry way. Between now and April 20, I need to find the perfect low-back bra-type-thingy -- anybody have any recommendations? Please advise!

Monday, February 15, 2010

invitation budget breakdown

Over the weekend I spent a little time crunching numbers to see how I actually came out in terms of budget with my invitations. In this post, I said I figured I'd be able to get 250 invitation sets for under $400. As it turns out, I did!

The total cost of the 250 3-piece suites was $346, including paper, printing plates and shipping. Last weekend I ordered some twine that will be the finishing touch on the set (and will probably also be used for programs), so absorbing that cost into the invitation budget brings the grand total to $364. That comes out to only $1.46 per set for a letterpressed invitation, reception card, two-sided RSVP postcard and inner and outer envelopes, all Crane Lettra. Hot damn!

(As a point of reference, 250 5x7 custom invitations at Party City will set you back $325, or $1.30 apiece -- and that's just for the main card and one crappy white envelope. I am SO the winner.)

I also printed marriage announcements to send to friends that didn't end up on the guest list or who couldn't come and we didn't want to obligate to buy us a present. For 50 announcements with envelopes (inner and outer, if we want to use both) and the plate, it cost $50.58, or $1.01 per announcement.

Last, but certainly not least, I have already printed 240 thank-you notes and I just bought paper for 120 more. When all 360 are finished, I'll have spent $205.51, or $.57 per custom-printed card and envelope set (plus the cost of the plate).

Of course, to that I have to add postage, and you can't really get deals on that -- though I'm saving on the RSVPs by making them postcards, which is a good start.

In summary: Mom, Dad, you're welcome! Self, good job -- you've acquired an excellent new skill! Guests, prepare to be impressed with my craftiness! OK, that's enough patting myself on the back... for now. Have you had any DIY/crafting successes?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Wafflentine's Day!

I hope all you readers had something as delicious as this waffle today! I ate lots of tasty things tonight, but now it's time for me to get serious -- I've got my first dress fitting this week! Eeee...

Friday, February 12, 2010

engagement shoot brainstorming...

I mentioned in a previous post that I had scheduled an engagement photo shoot with our photographers. It's not until March 30, but I've already started thinking about locations and outfits and potential props/accessories, etc. (Nerd alert, I know.) In fact, just last weekend I bought a new top for the occasion! Here 'tis:

from anthropologie, natürlich

I'll pair it with some jeans, and I'm hoping to find some awesome new flats to wear. The only ones I have are from Target like two years ago, and they never stay on my feet anymore and look pretty damn sad. I really like these, but can't seem to find them in my size anywhere. Boo! (Speaking of my clown feet, although I love to wear my green hi-top chucks, they can make my feet look huge. Depending on the jeans I wear, they may or may not make an appearance... they certainly won't if I'm only wearing that red top! I digress.) Also, I'm still not sure if I will change outfits during the session, namely to a more fully sleeved top... I'm a little leery of my not-terribly-toned arms showing in all the pictures, but if I don't find anything else I'll just work the debutante/model/sorority girl bent-arm look as much as possible.

So, that's as far as I've gotten on attire. Jon and I will both need haircuts between now and then, and I'm thinking that I may run to the salon up the street the morning of our photo session and have a professional blow out my hair since I just can't seem to make it look that nice lately. (I blame the winter weather.) I don't wear much makeup in life, so I'll keep it that way for these pictures -- some mascara, maybe some foundation, maybe some lip gloss that's not too shiny or some of that Clinique sheer lipstick.

When Jesse and Whitney come over for dinner in a week or two we'll brainstorm about possible locations, but there are two things that I know I want to bring along, no matter where we end up:

1. Jon's ukulele

Ukes make Jon very happy, and I'm thinking it will come in handy as a distraction from the fact that a dude/lady with a camera is following him around and asking him to forget that he's there. This will probably result in a lot of goofy pictures, but at least we'll both be smiling!

2. Little Man!

I mean, how could I leave out my sweet kitty? Just look how cute he is!! People have dogs in their engagement photos all the time, so why not a cat? He's my boy. Dawww. Yes, I realize it may be tricky to have the cat outside and not freaking out, but we can always take a few pictures indoors.

What would you bring along for engagement pictures? Would you wear multiple outfits or just stick with one? Do tell!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

100 days!

Well, it's not quite the final countdown, but it is a pretty big milestone. When we first got engaged our wedding date was more than 400 days away... now it's practically upon us! In less than two weeks it will be three months out, which sounds a lot more pressing than something that is four months down the road. Ack!

Earlier in the week when I realized that 100 was right around the corner I had thought I might have something more significant to say on this occasion, but I really don't. At least not tonight... This week has been totally noots. I do have a sort of nice story to share, though. Tonight at the symphony, Mom and Jon ran into an old partner of Dad's and Jon was introduced as my fiance. After I sang, got offstage and found Mom and Jon in the lobby, we saw Dad's colleague (also a former chorus member) again. He stepped away from his conversation to come over to congratulate us on our engagement and assured us that "marriage is even better" -- always a nice thing to hear, given the pop-cultural assumption that it's all downhill after the wedding. The best part of the conversation, though, was that he kept saying, "Hooray for you!" Like, at the end of every sentence, "Hooray for you!" At least five or six times. Awesome.

So, here's to a happy, not-insanely-stressful next 100 days. Hooray for us!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

double awesome

On Monday, Jesse & Whitney of Our Labor of Love/Smilebooth were featured in ReadyMade magazine's HDYGTFAJ* column online. Two of my favorite things, all rolled into one! Check it out here.

(pic borrowed from the ReadyMade blog post)

*How Did You Get That F*&%ing Awesome Job?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Old-Timey Tuesday: Sealed with a kiss

Here's one more from the Fred & Jean Abernathy archive that needs no description:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Invitations: DONE

Hooray! Over the weekend I managed to print allll of our wedding invitations. Jon came to the studio with me and dutifully shuttled the freshly inked invites across the studio to the drying rack and helped with quality control. Eight hours, 800 pieces of paper and more than a thousand impressions later, I'm pretty pleased with the results. Want to see? Of course you do! I'll give you a sneak peek for now, since these babies won't fly free for another 6 weeks or so. I don't want to give it all away early!

Here's the backside of our RSVP postcard. This side is a blind impression, which means I didn't use any ink on the plate when I pressed it.

I printed the RSVP on double-thick stock so that the impression from the front wouldn't bleed through to the back and vice versa, and, well, you can see how that worked out for me... I promise I will not make that mistake ever again! Fortunately, the RSVP is the part of the invitation that gets sent back to me and not the part that people might hang onto, so it all works out. Score!

Here's a bit from the other side:

Oooh, just look at that delicious texture! Lettra is such lovely paper. And last but not least, for now, our thank-you notes:

I will probably be printing another hundred-plus of these while I have studio time because I didn't print enough the first go-round, and they look totally awesome. This paper is not so fancy -- it's just from Paper Source -- but it gets the job done. Can't beat the price on custom stationery!

What do y'all think? Next up, my bride buddy Shelley's invitations. I'll be sure to report back on how printing my friend's wedding invites next weekend and beyond goes!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tuxedo tales, vol. 2

When we left off last Sunday, Jon and I were driving home from the mall and I was wondering why it is that guys don't often buy their wedding attire and girls do, even though a suit or tux is far more useful than a wedding dress. Once we got back to the house, I logged onto my computer and sent photos of our rental tux modeling session to his parents and mine, and Jon and I went about our usual Saturday afternoon business.

That night, I stayed home to work (and by work, I mean watch Miss America) and Jon went to review a jazz concert. When Jon got home, he was on the phone with his mom, talking tuxes -- it turned out I wasn't the only one who thought the tux at Savvi didn't fit very well. Over the course of their conversation, Jon and his mom decided that if he could find a nice tux within a certain budget, she would buy it for him, so he could look and feel his best for the wedding. (At first I felt bad, because I thought I had somehow made Jon and his mom feel as though they had to purchase a tux, but I talked to Jon's mom myself and determined that not to be the case -- phew.)

You probably know what happened next -- intense internet searching! We checked out department stores, menswear stores, and younger hipper stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic. J. Crew had a nice tux on clearance -- final sale only -- and one at full price, and the handy thing about those is that they are cut in the same style as the store's two suit styles, only they're tuxedos. Jon and I decided that we would meet at the mall immediately after church (around noon) the next morning, where he could try on those two J. Crew styles in normal-suit form and then run around to department stores as needed.

As it happened, church ran long and I arrived at the mall around 12:30. By that time, the decision was already made. Jon had been working with an excellent J. Crew salesdude who put him in a super sharp-looking Ludlow suit, and he was sold. We also asked about tux shirts, but they didn't carry the style Jon wanted, so with that resolved we headed to the store's red phone to place an order. Done and done! (Sidenote: This is turning out to be a very J. Crew wedding, no? Definitely didn't see that coming, since I've been feuding with the store for years now...)

Fast-forward to Thursday, and guess what turned up on our doorstep? Jon's awesome new tuxedo! Doesn't he look dapper?

Now, let's have a look at the other one, just for the sake of comparison:

He looks a bit trimmer in the J. Crew, no? And happier? I think so. This was definitely a good move, and he'll be able to use it for all black-tie events in the future. Also a good move: hanging onto the free groom's tux rental at Savvi so he can have shiny shoes and the tie and vest to match the rest of the gang on the big day. What do you think of that?


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Your eyes do not deceive you: that is a picture of 240 letterpressed thank-you notes, sitting out to dry in the studio. Wohoo!!! I am a DIY rockstar!

My stomach was totally in knots when I arrived at the studio this afternoon, so the first order of business was to run each plate through the poco press and face my fate. Much to my great relief, the fonts inked and printed evenly, and even the super skinny lines came through. It all looked great! OH THANK GOD.

Once I shared my success with the studio monitors, whom I had just met, it was time to get down to business with the big-time presses. How badass are these things?

I decided to work on the smaller of the two presses, on the left -- less surface area to clean up later on. I inked up the press, then grabbed a chase (frame) and some furniture (wooden blocks) and set up my thank-you note plate like so:

I dropped it into the press, unwrapped a crapton of blister-packed blank notecards and got to work. I found a rhythm pretty easily, pausing only to move the inked cards to the table or the drying rack. (Oh, except for the two times when a pin fell out of the 110-year-old press and the whole thing stopped working... studio monitors to the rescue!) Here's a shot of the press mid-process (sorta... I obviously had to stop so I could take the picture):

In the middle of this picture you can see the wooden block with the inked type on it, and obviously you can see the card that was just printed on the right. Between those things you can see the ink rollers -- they get their ink off of the big round plate at the top and then roll over the words before they hit the paper. Make sense?

Anyway, in a mere 2.5 hours, I managed to proof all my plates, print a full run of 240 thank-you notes (with only one quasi-unuseable print in the lot), move the cards to the drying rack and clean up the plates and the press. Based on those numbers, I could have my invitations totally finished by the end of the weekend! What I may do instead is spread out my studio time over the whole month. We'll see. At any rate, I'm pretty impressed with myself! Go me!

The moment of truth!

Y'all, I am nervous. Tonight I find out if my invitation design will print perfectly or if I somehow managed to pick the wrong fonts and jack it all up. Daaaahhhhh!!

I'm heading straight from work down to the Atlanta Printmakers Studio, so I packed my car full of my printing accoutrement this morning. I've got a box of rubber gloves (for cleaning the presses with mineral spirits, leftover from my dad's stint as a home care nurse for my mother); a ratty but freshly washed undershirt to donate to the rag bin (also for cleaning presses); a Boxcar Press printing apron that Jon got me for Christmas (Syracuse represent!); a perfectly sized cardboard box containing all my plates and all of my bride buddy's plates; and all 240 Paper Source notecards that I hope to turn into personalized thank-you notes tonight. Basically, I'm going to turn up looking like a crazy bag lady.

I also remembered this morning that the studio has a poco proofing press (pic found here), so I broke out my packages of invitation paper and pulled out one piece of each so I can test out each of my plates and really put my mind at ease (or commence full freakout, we shall see). The great thing about the proofing press is that you don't have to bother with registration or getting the plate set within the frame -- you just ink up, slap the paper on and roll it through.

I'll post again soon with an update on how it all went. In the meantime, light a candle for me!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

bridesmaids dresses in action!

Yesterday The Bride's Cafe blog posted photos from a wedding in which the bridesmaids were wearing the Robin dress from J. Crew's wedding collection -- yep, that's my dress! (By "my" dress, of course, I mean the dress I made seven of my nearest and dearest purchase to wear in our wedding.) Check it out:

photo by Daisy Varley

Dang, that is one well dressed wedding party! This is only the second time I've seen this dress on the blogs (or at least the ones I check), and the first time that I've seen everyone in the party wearing this cut. I also had a good friend choose this dress in black for her pick-your-own-dress bridesmaid duties back in the fall. It's such a pretty dress, I'm surprised I haven't seen it more.

Robin has apparently been phased out of the bridesmaids lineup at J. Crew for the foreseeable -- the Sophia is assuredly their most popular silhouette, and they've added two new shapes in the silk tricotine fabric in Robin's stead. I'm not sure why more people haven't gone for Robin... but hey, at least I'll look sort of original, right?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Old-Timey Tuesday: Jean & Fred cut the cake

Here's another one-picture post on my grandparents' 1946 wedding. This week, they're cutting the cake! And, again, it's just painfully glamorous and sweet:

Oh, how I wish Grandma had stashed away her cake topper somewhere! Or, if she did, that Uncle Bob hadn't tossed it in the garage sale heap, as he probably did many things I undoubtedly would have hoarded had I been there sorting.

Today I resumed pondering what, if anything, should grace the top of our wedding cake. A delicate arch of millinery leaves, like Grandma and Grandpa had? A vintage bride and groom figurine, even though they all appear to be wonky-eyed and brunette? Something I pull together myself? I'm still working on it...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Welcome, February!

It's hard to believe January has come and gone already! January and February are traditionally my least favorite months of the year for a number of reasons, so I'm pretty psyched to already be halfway through the winter drudgery here.

I will say, though, that in the past few weeks I've felt a lightness that I don't remember in winter in years past. The weather is cold and things could certainly be better in my professional life, but I think it's that I am just getting so damn excited about our wedding! Since the save-the-dates went out, we've had a few invitees send us notes to tell us that they'll be in attendance, and every time I hear of someone else who is coming to celebrate with us it makes me feel all giddy. People are coming from all over the country to see us get married! I feel so honored that people are planning trips and parties and outfits around our wedding. Amazing! Have I mentioned that I love parties and friends and keeping up with people? Yeah. It's gonna be awesome.

At this point, all anxiety about the guest list has subsided. As I've mentioned, we're leaving it up to the fates and are simply planning to accommodate a few more than the original 200 friends and family we had in mind. But I'm not kidding myself -- once the RSVPs start coming back, there may well be a slight budget freak-out. At least I'll know to expect it!