The Dress of My Dreams

After going gown shopping by myself, I had my first crazy wedding dream. In my dream, Theo and I were at the altar on a white horse that was laying down on the ground. (Do horses even do that?!) Everything was royal blue (not our wedding color) and we were getting married in a dark wooden paneled library (we wanted an outdoor ceremony). I had not written my vows in advance and was coming up with them on the spot. Our officiant was missing and we were standing around waiting for them to return. I woke up because I knew it was a dream, because seriously—at what wedding of mine would I not have my own vows prepared? But–the one thing I could not get past about my dream was that I was wearing the dress I had fallen in love with about a week earlier. Maybe it really was “the dress of my dreams”. Continue reading

Why I Went Bridal Gown Shopping Alone

My Matron of Honor did not like hearing that I went bridal gown shopping alone. I understand why she feels that way, as it is a special moment to be shared but at the same time it was incredibly hard for me to think about going at all.

To be completely honest, I was scared that sharing such a special moment with others would be painful. I was worried I would miss my Mom and sister too much and that would make the experience memorable for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t at all worried about feeling insulted when trying on a dress that didn’t flatter me but was scared to encounter an experience when I really wished my Mom and sister could be there with me.

So after reading some advice in A Practical Wedding, and crying a lot of tears over how it stinks that my Mom won’t be there to help me find the dress, I decided maybe it was best to go on my own. I figured I could control my emotions a little better if I was on my own and could keep things short if I didn’t have to try on things to appease anyone else. I knew I was sacrificing that shared experience of shopping with my friends and family but knew once I found “the dress” I would show them all before I purchased it.

Why am I glad I went alone?

  • There was no pressure to buy because all of the consultants knew I would need to show someone else before I made the final purchase.
  • I went on multiple trips to multiple stores in the middle of the day. This allowed me to be given more attention by the consultants and not have to work it into my schedule and theirs.
  • I was a little more open to letting the “professionals” choose dresses that would flatter my body after telling them about the general features I wanted or was interested in.
  • I didn’t have to be extra polite about not liking something that was picked as an option as to not hurt the feelings of the person who pulled it. I didn’t know the consultants and no consultant will have their feelings hurt if you don’t like a dress. One of my consultants even said “I didn’t design it! You won’t hurt my feelings one bit” when I tried to nicely say it wasn’t my taste.  She expressed that she was just trying to make me happy and has gotten pretty good at simply reading the expression on her bride’s faces to know they aren’t happy or something is missing.
  • I felt more open to ask what might have been “stupid questions” because I was the only one there to ask them.
  • Lastly, (and perhaps most importantly) I got to see which bridal boutiques made my appointment a priority and saw me for what I was–someone who was going to spend $1000+ in their store versus those who seemed to treat me as more of an inconvenience to their schedule.

The store I ultimately purchased from was one of only two stores where I actually had fun with the bridal consultant. I visited about 6 stores in total and 4 of them did not give me an experience where I felt special. The two I enjoyed are also the only two where I tried on “the dress” that I ended up purchasing…so maybe that’s part of why I had a good time 😉 ? (For all stores I went later in the afternoon on a mid-week day in March).

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I did however choose to save my first experience with a veil for when my bridesmaids and Stepmom Dorothy got to see me in the dress. I did my hair and makeup similar to how I think I might wear it for the wedding so I could see the full picture! It was so exciting to share this with them and to try on a veil to see the full look! It made us all tear up!

Did you shop with a group or go on a solo search for the dress of your dreams?

Big Decisions: Choosing Our Venue

It is definitely not the most fun, but we knew this was one of the first important decisions after making the decision to get married. We waited until we had been engaged for almost 5 months before we seriously started looking at venues (partially because we were busy with major holidays and soon after we moved closer to our families and were busy looking for new jobs and a house). Of course, I looked into a lot of options before we were ever engaged and narrowed out a lot that were too small or too expensive. Some of my options were narrowed out based on lack of availability.

You want to find the right place that has the formality that you were hoping for with the offerings you’re looking for and the price you want to pay. Continue reading

So, have you set a date?!

Moments after you are engaged you are bombarded with questions about your wedding plans. Good for you and your fiance if you are prepared (or even mildly prepared) to answer these questions, but if you’re not ready– don’t worry. We’ve all been there.


 

Theo and I got engaged the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving Day (2 days later) my grandmother was already asking me if we had set a date. Surprisingly, we had it narrowed down to 3 possible dates–none of which are going to be our actual wedding day. (Although we are getting married the same weekend as one of those dates!)

I didn’t realize how quickly people (not just family members) would ask this after finding out we were engaged until we went to dinner with my friends in early December after we had been engaged for about three weeks. She was finishing optometry school final exams so she hadn’t been on social media in a few weeks. She didn’t see us post pictures of the ring on my hand and change our relationship status to “Engaged”. She found out in person that we were engaged when she saw my ring which was a really great surprise to share with her. Since she was married about 4 months earlier she hesitated and prefaced her question with “I know you probably don’t have an answer to this and are probably overwhelmed with how many people ask you immediately after saying Congratulations— but, have you set a date?” She was surprised to hear it was narrowed down to three options and was so excited that we too would be a married couple.

Now, I want to give you a quick breakdown on how I came to decide what these 3 possible dates were:

1. First, we needed a general idea of the location we were getting married in. We knew we wanted to get married somewhere in our home state of Ohio. Based on the location we had chosen, we had a pretty good idea of what the weather would be like during certain months/seasons. We chose accordingly based on theme ideas, attire ideas etc.

2. Second, we knew we wanted to get married in the summer because for a long time we had discussed getting married outside. We had also been to enough summer weddings together that we knew we preferred late May through early July as the weather was more likely to be warm and comfortable versus sweltering like it can be in late July and August. In this step, we also considered what year we want to get married–since we got engaged late in 2014 that would have left us with an approximately 6-month planning window for a summer 2015 wedding and about an 18-month planning window for a summer 2016 wedding. We decided more time to save up for the costs involved was better and that planning in only 6 months might be overly stressful and take the fun out of the process.

3. Third, I made an Excel spreadsheet with Friday through Sunday and holiday Mondays from May 1 through Labor Day weekend for the year 2016.

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From there, I blocked out days I knew we didn’t want to get married, these included:

  • Major holidays (although we were open to dates within holiday weekends, we did not want to compete with the holidays themselves) including: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day *we actually blocked off the entire weekend of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day since it fluctuates and we decided we didn’t want our wedding anniversary to coincide with parental holidays in the future
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries (our own birthdays as well as birthdays and anniversaries of close friends/family who would be in our wedding party)
  • Wedding (getting married in 2016) days of friends/family (we included some we were likely not invited to but knew people we really wanted to attend would be attending)

4. Fourth, I blocked off Sundays because after talking with Theo we knew it was really important to us to dance at our wedding and get our guests dancing. We didn’t think that was as likely to happen on a Sunday. *At the time, Theo also asked me to block off Fridays for concern of lower guest attendance.

Based on the factors above, we narrowed it down to three Saturdays that met our requirements.

June 4th, July 9th, and July 25th of 2016

Ultimately, when contacting venues and vendors we were very interested in, none of those dates were in the cards for us. Places we were interested in were already booked (about 16 months ahead!) and vendors I had fawned over for years were also already booked. After getting incredibly discouraged, and thinking I needed to start over, I decided to ask about Fridays in June— which turned out to be just the ticket. Venues had the rooms we wanted available, our choice of vendors increased exponentially and some options we were considering had better prices for Fridays.

If I have any advice about picking a date, it’s to be open to options and don’t feel the pressure to pick a date right away just to satisfy others. Do some research to figure out what is a deal breaker for you and your fiance as well as for any venues/vendors you’re interested in.

Wedding Planning vs. Marriage Planning

This post was inspired by a similar post by Miss Clownfish a la Weddingbee—

Like she said, people will ask you how wedding planning is going ALL the TIME. At every family event people want to know if you set a date, picked a venue, if you know what you’re wearing and so on. I understand that I’ve been engaged for 7 months but no we don’t have an exact date yet. Yes, we have a venue in mind, yes we have wedding colors, I think I found “the dress”. Please relax, we still have 11 months to go. I wholeheartedly agree on her next point however, that no one asks how your marriage planning is going. Maybe they don’t care and just want to hear party details or maybe they don’t know how to ask.

PENTAX Image

A few years ago before Theo and I were ever engaged we drove up to see his brother and their family in New York. The drive was about 8 hours one way so we were about to spend a long period of time in the car, just us and the dog. I prepared for this journey by reading a list of questions to ask before you get married. You can see the full list here.

I chose some of my favorites and typed them all into a list on my phone and at one point during the trip we went through a bunch of them. Some were serious, like when we discussed how we would seriously consider adoption if we found out we could not have children of our own.  We thought about what ways we wanted to parent the same and differently from our own parents. We had a funny conversation about what our favorite Halloween costume of all time was and you can see pictures of his in this post.

We talked a lot about the future and the past and it definitely made us better for it in the present. We learned a lot about each other but also realized we had very similar values and ideals when it came to the truly important life decisions. Every so often we have  another version of one of these conversations when an article or video inspires us to think how we might handle a similar situation. Often we say how we won’t have badly behaved children, I believe that is one thing we will stick to!

I just want to remind you all that wedding planning IS about the journey and the destination. Planning your wedding is practice in being married from handling family and finances to managing stress and sharing responsibilities. When the party is over and you’re home from your honeymoon, all that’s left are you and your spouse. Make sure you are prepared for that transition from bride-to-be to wife by asking those serious questions.

The Wedding That Wasn’t Meant to Be: The Theme That was Scrapped

Once upon a time before we were engaged I was convinced our wedding would be themed “romantic whimsical woodland” which pretty much translated to lots of inspiration from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, mixed with the wedding scene from Twilight.

Flowy medieval-inspired dresses, woodsy decor, and fairy wings.

bm dress

via

shoes

via etsy

fairies

via Polka Dot Bride

I had no intention of wearing a real veil (maybe a birdcage one) and was sure my flower girls would wear beautiful floral crowns.

butterfly

via

headband

via etsy

I wanted there to be lots of butterflies because I love them but also because they had a special meaning to me; Theo and I had dated before and broke up and came back to each other because it was meant to be. It always makes me think of the quote “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours and if it doesn’t, it was never meant to be”. I’ve always pictured that quote as related to butterflies for some reason.

In the wedding I planned in my head from 2012-2013, our ceremony would visually resemble the one in Twilight. Hanging lilacs and a beautiful floral arch.

twilight

via Bespoke Bride

 A lace dress with a keyhole back and ferns lining the aisle to my soon-to-be husband.

lace

via

The reception would be full of gold candelabra, gold chiavari chairs and lots of ferns, moss and hydrangea combined with white roses.

moss

via Wedding Chicks

msnd

via

It would have been gorgeous. There’s no doubt about that, but it ultimately wasn’t meant to be.

Part of why this didn’t come to be was available venue options. There truly aren’t that many places around Northeast Ohio (especially in our price range) that would have given us that kind of look. It’s hard to find a magical spot “in the woods” without things feeling very rustic or very medieval.

On top of that, dating for years and then having an 18 month engagement makes it hard for an artsy person like me to settle on a single idea. Some items were crafted long before we were engaged because inspiration struck. Often it was an inexpensive project, and Theo had no problem with me crafting for our wedding so far ahead when he knew I planned on doing so much on my own (like the card box and flower girl baskets–which I can’t wait to reveal soon!).

I don’t regret changing our theme at all because our new theme feels so much more “me” and true to us than this would have been, even though this woodland inspiration is seriously beautiful. Some things are going to be dramatically different and some things aren’t that different from what you see above. I’m looking forward to the next post where I share our current wedding inspiration!