Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to plan a wedding in...30 days?

I wouldn't call this advice for those of you in need of planning a wedding in 30 days because your wedding is actually IN 30 days but moreso advice for those of you that are...proactive!  Maybe you have a big chunk of time now, but as you get closer to your wedding date you might be in a time crunch with everything else going on.  Every one's schedules are different and involve many types of balls in the air.

I would be in the latter category and extremely proactive.  I've got exactly 499 days till our wedding date.  Yup, that IS a lot of time.  However, I was so excited to start the planning the moment we got engaged.  Maybe I should look into a career change ;-)  Technically, it hasn't even been a month since our engagement so I still have a few more days to get in even more planning!  And I'm pretty sure I will ;-)

I wouldn't say I've been overly obsessive about planning, but I have loved all the research, scouring of the Internet, magazine browsing for everything to do "wedding".

When we first got engaged I was already trying to envision what our wedding would look like.  Let's be honest here...we have all pre-planned parts of our wedding via Pinterest prior to actually being engaged.  Well, at least those of you who are newly engaged or married (since Pinterest has only been around a few years).  But let me tell you, it is SUCH a great way to organize all the ideas that might be part of your big day.

An idea for the bridesmaids...loving pale mint!
Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

I started my organizing by creating a whole new wedding board on Pinterest for all the things that I actually thought were "for sure" ideas.  I've stumbled upon so many great wedding ideas that I've had to sift through all the good stuff and really start to narrow it down.

Flower inspiration: Peonies
Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

Right after Christmas, we were at my parents house...great place to get married which is in the wine country.  So, we went down the street to a winery to just to take a look.  It was good to visit some random places just to be able to start comparing venues.  I didn't get an immediate "feeling" that it was the right place but I did like getting mental ideas of what I did and didn't like.  That next weekend, I had called to set up an appointment at a venue I had fallen in love with just after seeing photos.  We took a tour of this quaint and rustic Inn and right away I was envisioning all the details and could really see myself getting married here.  However, one we sat down with their contact there was a very strict portion that just wasn't going to be feasible with our priorities.  We have family with small children that would not have been allowed to stay the night in the Inn for liability/insurance reasons.  Advice: keep your mind and heart open to changes along the way.  Do not have your heart set on anything until a contract is signed and a deposit is made.  Nothing is set in stone until those two things have happened.  Being the emotional girl that wears her heart on her sleeve...I was heartbroken that the Inn could no longer be an option for us.  Quickly after we discovered the Inn was out...I went to my bridal magazines that were specific to our region "The Knot" Northern California and Sacramento Bride.  I happened upon a gorgeous venue that I thought would be completely out of our budget was right out of a fairytale!  I quickly filled out their enquiry page with my information and received the pricing and packages.  I was shocked to find that it would be cheaper to book a wedding there in their grand and extravagant Mansion than a rustic Inn.

Color inspiration board: mint and coral!

We found out there would be an open house at the Mansion the following weekend so we planned to take a tour with my parents.  Just by talking to the staff during these tours and randomly reading magazines and researching the Internet, you might happen upon different bridal shows or fairs happening in your neck of the woods.  Just driving around town I found a billboard and a bus ad for a fairly large bridal show in our area.  I planned to go the following weekend after our Mansion tour to find out what I could about local vendors.

I did my research on Every Last Detail to find tips/tricks to going to such a thing as a bridal fair.  If you want any expertise and advice about anything wedding, this girl has it.  I took her advice for bridal shows:

1) Bring labels that include: Your name, your fiances name, address, phone number, wedding date, venue (if you know it), and e-mail address.  This will alleviate having to write down all your info a bazillion times with vendor after vendor.  There are lot of give-aways and your time will be better spent if you are ready with labels in hand!  Include only the information you want to be contacted by...if you don't want calls, don't put your phone number.
2) Bring an extra tote - You will get so much information via cards, fliers, goodie bags, brochures that you'll be glad you brought something to dump everything into.  Large bridal fairs might provide these for you, but just in case, it's always good to have one on you.
3) Bring your patience - There will be LOTS of people to sift through, vendors and brides...both can be quite aggressive.  Just be prepared and maybe do a little research before heading to a show as to what you might be looking for.  You can always just breeze by the vendors you may not need.  Some vendors you might want to talk to may be busy, so my advice is to go as early as possible to get priority with your preferred vendor.
4) Be open minded - Even though you might have a vendor you want in mind, it's great to see other's work and have back-up plans in case a vendor you love falls through.  Maybe they are booked on your day or their packages too pricey...whatever the reason take all the information you can get while you're there.

Our ceremony site at the mansion.

So after our Mansion tour, both myself and Mike loved the place and it was perfect for what we needed in a venue.  We booked right then and there, signed a contract, and put down our deposit.  I also got great ideas for some preferred vendors and started looking at their websites to get an idea of pricing, packages, and style.  Might I add that great vendors will book far in advance.  Our venue had very little openings left for a June, 2014 wedding which I was SHOCKED about! I thought I had so much time.  I'm starting to figure out that a year and half out in the wedding world is not that far away.  Who-da thought!?

Despite the fact that since our engagement I've spent every weekend doing something wedding related, I have fully enjoyed myself.  This planning stuff is right up my alley so I'm enjoying spending free time devoted to this stuff.  Along the way, I've kept myself organized.  You will start to be swamped with information, so I knew I needed to be organized from Day 1.  I made myself a "Wedding Time" binder.  I put blank paper in it, a small notebook, a couple folders labeled Vendors and Venue.  It helped to keep all the information about our venue in one place and then all our potential vendors information in another folder.  Then I went to my trusty google documents.  I created spreadsheet after spreadsheet!  One for a rough draft guest list, one with a budget outlining every single vendor we might need, an actual expenses spreadsheet to keep track of actual expenditures along the way.  And then I shared these spreadsheets with the people that would need to be seeing them on a regular basis.  This allows for easier communication and everyone can be on the same page.  I love having an idea of numbers, budgets, comparison costs all down so everyone is prepared and knows what we're dealing with.

I then went to a another bridal faire which was actually put on by our venue with their preferred vendors.  That weekend I was able to narrow down our DJ and photographer/videographer.  It's great to be able to casually meet vendors in person after e-mail communication but before really sitting down with them via a personal consultation to really iron things out.  You get a sense of their personality and their work without really feeling like you've gotten too involved just yet.  The sit down consultation should really then be your deciding factor as to whether you want to book with that vendor.

And to be even more on top of things, I scheduled a lunch date and bridal appointment with my mom and bridesmaids.  I had never even stepped foot in a bridal store for myself yet.  I really had no idea what I wanted and went with an open mind.  I took advice from my other married friends and made an appointment.  They said with an appointment, I'll have their undivided attention while trying to narrow down my dress search.  I went with my mom and two other bridesmaids.  This was the perfect amount of people.  I basically grabbed a few dresses off the rack, they each grabbed one they liked for me to try on and we went to town.  Such a fun experience! My fiance asked me...was it just like the show (meaning, was it just like "Say Yes to the Dress").  My response...It was!! I was on the pedestal strapped into those dresses by metal clips and getting the "yays" or "nays" from my fellow entourage.

I really thought I would just narrow my dress search in my first visit to a shape and a fabric.  I would've never thought I would actually have said "Yes" to the dress!!! I had my moment in the dressing room the minute I had the dress on...and ironically, it wasn't even one of the dresses that any of us had picked but one that the saleslady had brought out that was similar to "the favorite".  Let me tell you, it became the new favorite!  I think I had to sell it for my entourage though.  However, the more I stood there in the dress...the more I think they fell in love with it too.  I ended up putting the old fave back on and it seemed to have lost its luster to them.  I think they dress just had an "oomph" the other dress didn't.

I love ruffles, but went in the opposite direction!

My only thought about actually purchasing the dress this early on in the wedding planning was just it too early?  Well, I knew in my gut that no other dress would amount to this one.  I did sleep on it...for two nights actually!  Come Monday morning, I was convinced that it was still my dress.  It was just perfect in every way.  I'm not saying you should rush in to the first store and pick up your dress...but when you know, you know! You may not have a "moment" as I call it, but there will be a unique feeling that you know deep down it's just right.  My friend recently purchased her dress...and she had the same feeling, that the more she stood in the dress, the more she loved it and didn't want to take it off.  Every one's experience will be different, I'm sure.  The one thing that helped with my decision was that I was very open to trying every style, shape, color, and fabric.  I had no idea what was going to look good on me, so I wanted to try everything.  For example, the very first dress I tried on was a satin gown and it was fantastic.  I was very surprised that I loved a satin gown and it was a favorite amongst the group.  You just never know till you try!

I know this post was extremely lengthy and I probably lost you way back there, but if you're still reading, thanks for stopping by!!  I hope some of my experiences this month will help in your planning.  I've learned a lot in a month and will continue to share my wedding planning tips.  Again, we have LOTS of time.  I'm just having great fun thus far and am happy that some of the big decisions are already falling into place.  If there's something I know about me it's that I hate to be rushed and stressed...and I think early planning will alleviate that for me.

Happy Wedding Planning!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I've got big news!

It's 2013!! Okay, that's not my news obviously but let's take a look back at the end of the year that just seemed to fly right on by.

I felt like the holidays swooped in and left just as quickly.  The holidays are always crazy around here as we have lots of friends and family to see and more than just Christmas to celebrate.  A lot of my friends (including me) celebrate birthdays around the holiday.  Celebrations galore!  I love any reason to celebrate and boy did we.  

I traveled into work to celebrate all my co-workers birthdays and we had a night out of wonderful food at an Italian restaurant, laughs all night long, and an extremely thoughtful exchange of gifts.  

Yummy Italian desserts were devoured...happy birthday to US! 

My friends know me so well! An awesome Paper-Source stamp for my baked goods with the inscription, "from the kitchen of:", a beautiful ceramic wine stopper, and two delectable alfajores!

Another celebration the following day! Onion soup and a sundae!!
Back home at work enjoying my birthday gifts, a Rodarte mug from the collaboration with Starbucks and Trader Joe's gingerbread cookies.  Deadly, I tell ya!
And, sooo spoiled now with my Lululemon tech gloves...texting and running, don't mind if I do!
And seriously spoiled with my annual birthday trip from the one and only! A trip to Napa...I had never been before.  Bouchon Bistro for lunch! 

A custom drink made just for Mikey...a mix of vodka, elderflower liquor, and grapefruit juice.
And of course I had to stop into the bakery for some of the famed macarons!!! Each flavor...UNREAL good! My favorite were the gingerbread and pistachio!
The smorgasbord of food continued...with brunch the next morning at BRIX.  A must if you're ever in Napa.  I highly recommend their Sunday Brunch.  Everything was perfection.  From the seafood down to the dessert table.  
A couple morning mimosas and coffee to star the day right!

After all the birthday celebrations, the holidays were really in full swing and I had to get cracking on my last minute crafty gifts which included the ever popular dog treats (popular with Sophie, that is!)
Had to make some for "the boys" (my parents' dogs) and Kiera (mike's brother's dog)

And what's a holiday without my brother-in-laws special egg-nog! His secret...peach schnapps...holy moly amazing!!
And the big bang to end the year...if all that wasn't celebration enough.  My one and only surprised me like only he can.  We were opening up the last Christmas gifts of the season...and whattdya know, I got a wooden box of olive oil soaps (this is actually right up my alley if you know me), and so I go to open the wooden box to check out the soap smells...and of course, they smell wonderful...I got two lavender, one olive oil, and circular jar that looks like lotion?....wait it has a picture of two interlocking rings on the top...wait, WHAT!??? Am I seeing things.  I looked up at Mikey to make sure it was real and that what I was seeing wasn't a joke.  
No joke! I was a hysterical mess.  Crying millions of happy tears and of course he then popped the question formally and I said "yes!"

A celebratory breakfast trip to Starbucks the next morning and I cleverly asked the barista if she could write "Bride to Be" so I could post our announcement to Facebook ;-) 
 My parents knew THE question was coming, and were able to successfully hide the surprise since October when Mikey showed them the ring.  The above picture was a "contingent" gift...a congratulatory Christmas tag made by my mom! So crafty she is!!

So the start to the new year was full boar into wedding planning....because it was for real!! I've been secretly planning my wedding via Pinterest for what seems like ages now.  Now I can pin without shame!! And boy have I!

I'll be documenting my ideas and things I've learned about the planning process along the way.  So far, it's been a real treat for me.  I have loved every minute of it.  We have lots of time to plan as our wedding won't be till 2014 which gives me adequate time to get everything just right.

The next couple weekend are filled with bridal shows, lunch dates with the bridesmaids, dress shopping, vendor research.  Sounds like loads to FUN to me!!!

Stay tuned!