Heartening

Do you ever feel kind of hollow-y and sad? Like, maybe for a particular reason or maybe even no particular reason at all?

I think part of the reason I was feeling that all last week is the winter. It has been so easy this year in Massachusetts. Last year, I couldn’t even walk to the bus without falling on my bum. It was seriously embarrassing (though who is to blame for that – oh that’s right, the people who don’t shovel their sidewalks!). We also had car parking issues in our driveway, a snow pile taller than me in our yard that created more parking issues, and the general feeling of wanting to hibernate in a darkened room until a patch of grass was once again visible in the yard. This year can’t even compare to last – we’ve had but a dusting of snow, mild temperatures, and the weather has been so kind the local birds have ignored my bird feeder altogether as they are able to eat out in the world on their own.

So what’s up with the winter blahs?

Part of it is the fact that we’re all pretty vitamin D-deprived. Yup. I saw a study at work that showed if you live in the northeast it’s basically impossible to get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun if practicing safe sun exposure, which I practice aggressively (see below: honeymoon picture featuring a Very Large Hat). Actually, if you read the NEJM study, we should have a little more safe sun exposure in our lives…but I digress…

The oft-mocked sun hat

Winter blahs: I felt totally helpless to beat them, and I hate HATE being defeated. Hate it.

Luckily, there were plans for the weekend that made it impossible to be sad…Smithie plans. Plans that included dinner, a party, and brunch…and art clubs and baking and food and talking until 3AM….

I have been so tired and worn out and maybe even a little bit bored….and maybe a tiny bit sad too…just feeling BLAAAAH.

And then there was this:

Smithies and Sig. Others Brunch!

I had a mimosa and ridiculously hot and fresh coffee. I had french toast that almost killed me (it was amazing, but I thought for about 30 seconds I would perish from all of the deliciousness). We talked and laughed and were a little loud and rambunctious, and all of the sudden I figured out that I would be OK. I would survive the winter and my vitamin D deficiency to see another spring! I got what I needed to turn my mood around, and instead of being all “ugh it’s February, then March, then maybe I will have warm hands again,” I started focusing on the next couple weeks in a different way, and thought about impending birthdays, a brunch I have at Gillette Stadium, a Winter Farmer’s market I’m going to with my mom and sister. Things seemed a little brighter, a little nicer. Gloriousness!

Yeah, I’m still a little blah (but think I am getting sick, boo), but there’s nothing like friends. I needed that reminder this weekend – thank you, Smith ladies…I love knowing that you’re there to get my butt in gear (even when you don’t know you’re doing it)! I am heartened, and it is good.

OK – enough about me. Wanna read about someone who is 10x more badass than me and is “choosing joy” while she kicks cancer’s ass? Read this. Try not to be inspired to choose joy. Buy the necklace. Get your tissues and watch this. This woman is truly amazing.

A Bit More Work Than Anticipated

When I decided I’d revamp the wedding blog, I thought it would be easy.

Wow. I was way off on that one.

My goal was to get rid of the irrelevant. Done.

Another goal? Categorize everything. Done

Change the appearance? Done…though not convinced I love it yet.

Then I wanted to add all of the wedding posts and how to’s I meant to add months ago, and then move forward with the day to day blogging. Uhhh. Woah.

While it was easy to delete and edit, the adding posts has been slowing me down. I have lists of things I want to blog. Part of me thinks “no one CARESSS!” but there is a part of me, my former bride-to-be self, that thinks “someone somewhere will find this information useful” so I’m planning to power on. I’m hoping that the next few weekends in February will prove to be fruitful on the blogging front!

In the meantime, Superbowl Sunday is upon us here in the USofA (USOFA – can we make this happen? I kind of like it..). Grandma has summoned all children and grandchildren not otherwise engaged to her domicile to watch the big game. I’m excited and anxious, as the last Patriots-Giants Superbowl did not go so well for us in New England. At the end of the day, it’s a game and there’s always next season, and that’s what everyone needs to keep in mind. In addition to watching what I hope will be some great football, I am excited about the FOOD. Has anyone seen skinnytaste? There are a lot of “alternative” apps on there, and I plan to do a bit of pre-Bowl cooking and try some of these out.

Also, I wore my Patriots shirt to work today under my sweater. It just felt like the right thing to do.

I normally mock sparkly glittering items masquerading as "women's sports apparel" but this T from Victoria's Secret is suuuper comfy

 

Stayed Tuned for 2012!

Well hey readers few and far between – what’s new.

I haven’t been blogging at ALL. The thing is, work and life caught up with me big time. I haven’t even had a chance to blog in my old blog space. Sigh.

The thing is, I kind of miss it. I loved sharing ideas and photos with the interwebs. So I started to think about how I could resume blogging – do I want to finish up all my wedding posts? YES. Do I want to then switch gears to more personal life stuff, more crafting, cooking, everyday life-ing goodness? Yeesss! Do I want the blog-o to be a little less secret than my old ranty random blog? Definitely.

So.

I’m going to finish up the wedding oriented posting here. I’m going to clean up the rant-y irrelevant posts as well (or maybe edit a few so they’re less snarky and more helpful). Then in 2012, we’re going to start afresh in this space. This will be my new blog…well…sort of my old blog with a new feel. Yeah. Something like that.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for wedding-oriented biz, feel free to swing by and see if I’ve made any strides in wedding blogging. If you’re a friend from the ol’ Allison Wonderland blog, sit tight, stay tuned, see you soon!

How To: Bejewel Your Own Shoes

One of my favorite DIY projects for the wedding was “bedazzling” or “strassing” my own shoes. I meant to put up this tutorial right away, but was lazy and didn’t 🙂

Recently, someone saw my shoes on flickr and asked if I would write up a post for their website, http://www.wedding-ideas-on-a-budget.com – thought strassing your own shoes might not be the most co

st-saving project on your craft list, it’s fun and you’ll be complimented all night on your patience, craft-savvy and style.

Here’s a copy of the post, which you can find here. I added in some more photos so you can see the progress. Of course, I don’t have too many pictures of the shoes on my feet, but let me assure you, they sparkled the whole night long.

“I’m a self-proclaimed shoe addict, and when it came to wedding shoes, I wanted something that made a statement…a big statement. My problem was that I was attracted to outrageous designer shoes, particularly embellished Louboutins, but simply lacked the budgetary freedom to go all-out and drop upwards of $3,000 on shoes! I resigned myself to wearing a perfectly lovely, though less-unique-than-hoped-for pair of shoes.

I poked around the internet for a nice pair, and one day stumbled upon a shoe forum that took designer shoes and altered them. One page on the forum was dedicated to the “strass” shoe – Louboutins bedazzled

with sparkling sparkliness. As I clicked through pages of glittering shoes, I thought “I can totally do this!” – I was diy-ing a ton of other things for the wedding, what was one more project!!!

Before I get into the details of this “how-to” project, I want to warn readers that this isn’t necessarily a huge money-saving project, and might even be the type of project that people roll their eyes to and declare “excessive” or even “dumb.” I am OK with that  “Strassing” your own shoes can be pricey, especially if you want to use Swarovski crystals, have big feet (like me), and/or have a lot of shoe to cover, so before you commit to DIY strassing, you’ll want to do your research. I will tell you that this was my favorite project of all DIY projects I tackled for our wedding, and though it was hard work, I loved the sparkly goodness of my shoes. If you have designer shoe taste without the designer shoe budget, you’ll love this project too.

I started with a pair of shoes from Payless. Yup. I paid a total of $15. I figured if I hated the results or messed something up, I may as well mess up on a cheap pair of shoes! I then relied heavily on Google to provide information and resources for undertaking this project. I decided to use hotfix Swarovski crystals – these are rhinestones with a layer of glue already affixed to the back. I purchased a hotfix tool at JoAnn’s Fabrics (with a coupon!) – this tool heats up, picks up each crystal, melts the glue on the back, and then it’s used to affix the crystal to your item. If I ever strass a pair of shoes again, I wouldn’t recommend this method, simply because I don’t think the hotfix glue is the strongest option, and rhinestones flew off my shoes all night long. I’d use E-6000 glue and tweezers to affix regular rhinestones instead – tedious, yes, but definitely more staying power. I purchased the hotfix rhinestones from rhinestoneshop.com. They had coupon codes on Facebook and carried the best selection of anyone I found online. I hear that you can get better prices if you shop around on eBay, or if you chose to use non-Swarovski crystals available at craft stores. I knew ahead of time that this project would cost at least $200-$300.

In my opinion, this looks "richer" than a $300 pair of shoes!

I chose to use Crystal AB, Crystal Moonlight, Crystal and Silk AB Swarovski crystals, because I wanted to give my shoes some dimension with the different colors.

The "depth" effect I was going for was really visible when light reflected off the various colored crystals.

I also liked the rainbow shimmer of AB (Aurora Borealis in Swarovski-speak) crystals. I ordered four sizes, 20ss (largest), 16ss, 10ss, 6ss, and I ordered them in “gross” form – sets of 144 pieces, except for the 20ss, where “gross” equaled 72 pieces. I actually had to order additional crystals to finish my second shoe, and I spent a total of $275 in crystals, but buying everything in shifts made this expenditure a little less painful. The final numbers looked like this:

1 gross 20ss Crystal AB
1 gross 20ss Crystal Moonlight
1 gross 16ss Silk AB
1 gross 16ss Crystal AB7 gross 10ss Crystal Moonlight
7 gross 10ss Crystal AB
4 gross 10ss Crystal
7 gross 6ss Crystal AB
7 gross 6ss Crystal
For a grand total of 5,040 crystals!

Honestly, finding the right tools and ordering the crystals was the hardest part of this project. Once you have your glue or hotfix tool, shoes, and rhinestones, find some good dvd’s or stream something from Netflix and go to it. I finished half a shoe watching televised coverage of the Boston Marathon. My process for covering each shoe was to place the 20ss rhinestones randomly, then fill around those with 16ss, then with 10ss, and finally, fill in all the blank spaces with 6ss rhinestones.

This is the beginning stage of my strassing project. You can see my randomly placed 20ss crystals throughout the shoe. My mom said "the shoe looks great like that!" which was sweet, but they reminded me of keds I had in 1992, so no, the full strassing job would have to be completed!

Filling in with smaller crystals; I'm sure those who have strassed before me may have different strategies, like doing one region of the shoe at a time, but this worked well for me.

More "fill-in" detail.

Almost time for the smallest size of crystals!

It’s actually quite simple once you get going, and only a little bit mind-numbing! If you find at any point that you lack the inspiration to go on, bring your shoe outside into the sunlight, and stare into the sparkly-sparkleness. I promise it will bring back your motivation.

If you're lacking motivation to finish, put your shoe on, take it outside in the sunlight, and watch it sparkle!

My motivation petered out after finishing one shoe, but I found the first shoe was the hardest, and the second moved along very quickly.

I LOVED trying on the finished shoe....

Because I was strassing slingbacks, I wasn't sure how the heel strap elastic would look, but it came out OK

As cheesy as it may sound, you will feel really special wearing this one-of-a-kind, labor-of-love pair shoes on your wedding day. They might even make you a better dancer.”

Better dancer? OK maybe not, but the shoes did make the dip even snazzier!

At the end of the night - note: foot petals are a great investment!

So there you have it. If you have a couple of months before your wedding, don’t be afraid to take this kind of project on. As a DIY bride I obsessed about place cards and invites and favor bags – all appreciated but pretty much forgotten by guests. The things that still come up 10 months later are the DJ/awesomeness of music and dancing, me crying through my vows, the “fun-ness” of the wedding, and “the shoes.” YES!

As for the shoes now – yes, I still have them. They need a little bit of rehab, but I’m hoping that I’ll have the chance to wear them again someday. Even if I never do, I’ll be keeping them for a long time. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my dress, but the shoes will remain as is, and if I have a daughter that loves shoes as much as I do (and has sizeable feet) that may be what’s handed down to her at her wedding…unless I’m wearing them, of course!

Wedding ReCap with Pics

Hey peeps!

I’m back!

I did disappear under a mountain of “real work” work and a mountain range of wedding stuff, but I’m back and ready to recap (because I promised DIY pics, tutorials, etc) all the wedding fantastic-ness.

For now, I’m trying to get back into the work groove. Luckily the cancer hospital stood tall without me (read that as “they did not miss me at all”) but there are some things I still have to tackle here at work before I get down to the nitty-gritty recappin’

For now, enjoy some pics I hijacked off of our friend’s facebook pages:

Coming out for the first time in my dress. My bridesmaids went "awww"

My DIY strassed shoes were DONE! They're so much more kickass than this. Hopefully someone has a shot of the sparkliness!

My MOH/Sister and Me. She looks so beautiful!

Both parentals walked me down the aisle. Which I loved. I needed them both there 😀

We wrote our own vows. I ugly cried - it was worth it though!

Us on the altar

We DID IT!

Talking to my grandparents - they've been married 58 years!

My high school peeps

My Smith girls. I love them SOOOO much!

The grounds at the Barns are AMAZING

Getting dipped by husbando - sweet deal 🙂

The music started after dinner - guests were on the floor ALL NIGHT!

So it was a great day, and a wonderful night. Gah, so fun! So perfect! I can’t believe how fantastically awesome everything was! I know that probably sounds a tad obnoxious to be all “my wedding was perfect.” On paper, it wasn’t perfect. There was drama beforehand, two groomsmen got lost between the church and reception, and a few other minor things were out of place BUT they were overshadowed by everything else that was just right, that I won’t even remember these things as time goes on, I’ll just remember all the good stuff!

An Anniversary

Sunday was my grandparent’s 58th wedding anniversary. Yup, that’s 5-8.

They’re amazing, a testament to marriage – happy, happy marriage. I love hearing their wedding story, and about their honeymoon to Montreal. They drove there from Boston in a car that needed a quart of oil every 40 miles!! They’re also funny; my grandfather gave my grandmother a card with two kissing ducks on the outside that said “let’s kiss each other for every year we’ve been married” on the inside it said “I had another idea, but it would kill us.” My grandma swatted him with the card when she read this, but then said with a smile “he gives me a fresh card every year.”

Jam said “I hope we’re like that when we’ve been married for 58 years!”

ME TOO!

Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa!

How To: Make Tissue Paper Pomanders

I recently sent a fellow weddingbee user tips on making tissue paper pomanders. I figured it was about time to post a tutorial on this blog for all of the interwebs to see 🙂 I think I’ve mentioned that I love sharing ideas and do not mind if anyone copies any of my projects. Some things I’m saving til post-wedding – if any of my guests are reading this, I’ll want them to be surprised, but this is something I’ll share with you all now.

So pomanders – yep, I’m not the first person to do them. I got the idea from Vintage Glam (which is now Ruffled, I guess), then I used Mrs. D’Orsay’s tutorial (yes, she is my weddingbee dress twin, almost ring twin, pomander twin…and yes, it feels creepy, but I decided these things before I knew weddingbee even existed LOL, I am not an internet stalker, I promise!!!)

As with most craft advice/tutorials, I use directions as a starting off point and usually add my own interpretation, unless the craft is precise, like knitting or something, and that means I usually get a variation on the final product. That’s what happened with my pomanders, but I LOVE the way they turned out:

Eh – sorry the lighting isn’t the greatest in these pics, but you’ll get the basic idea. Please feel free to do the same with this tutorial – use it as a starting point, add your own variations and improvements…then link to pics so I can see 🙂

First of all, I decided that tissue paper poms would be the ideal pew decoration. We’re not getting married at either of our home churches, and we’re paying a hefty sum (in my opinion) to get married at the church in Middletown. That’s fine – it’s just that we signed a very specific contract about what we could and could not do in the church, including what we could put on the pews…or what we could not – tape, glue, tacks, hooks, etc. We don’t want to get charged for damaging anything (oh, and naturally, we don’t WANT to damage anything just on principle!) so I needed something that we could secure to the pew without damaging it in anyway. I also needed something that we could adjust during the rehearsal, because I couldn’t really measure the height of the pew or bop down to Connecticut every couple of weeks to see how the pew decorations would look. Basically, I was winging it.

I told my former coworker that I intended to make pomander pew decorations, and she told me that was her plan as well, and that she had a membership code at a floral supply wholesaler in Boston, and if I was willing to meet her early on a Saturday morning, we could buy some wedding supplies CHEAP, including styrofoam balls. My advice to anyone undertaking this project: if you can get it wholesale DO IT. The balls cost less than $2 each, but I noticed them for $4.99 in my local AC Moore. Granted you could buy them one at a time with  your coupon and save, the wholesaler’s gave me the chance to buy 25 at once. Rockin’

As we perused the aisles, I noted that while I love the pomanders, I’d hate how they would lay crooked against the pew, but that I’d just have to overlook that little detail. My coworker shot me a withering look, one I was used to from all the years of sharing an office and I said “Ok, what am I being dumb about?” She said “Um, you cut the balls in half if you want them to lay flat.” Oh. Duh. Hey, I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, ok?!!

After procuring my balls (heh heh heh), 22 gauge floral wire (green, but you can use any color) and about a billion yards of 1” navy satin ribbon, I ordered my tissue paper. I know I could’ve followed Mrs D’Orsay’s advice and picked some up at the Container Store, but I like to do things the hard way. OK not the hard way, but my own way. I bought a pack of ‘French Vanilla’  20×30” tissue paper from papermart.com for $23. Yup that’s 480 sheets. Depending on how many pomanders you’re planning to make, that might be an INSANE amount of tissue paper…or it might be just right….look at it this way though, you’re probably never going to waste it, as it can be used for moving, gift wrap, protecting and storing holiday ornaments, etc. It costs like, $4 for a 10 sheet pack of tissue paper at the Hallmark store, so buy in bulk! *steps off tissue paper soapbox*

Once that came in, we were ready to get started…and by “we” I mean my tissue paper flower-making crew. I am a total control freak. I did not necessarily want help with this project. Luckily my sister and my friend EE totally ignored me…and EE kind of took over the organization of the project when she saw me cutting tissue paper like a drunken sailor. She and my sister began an assembly line of sorts. While I honestly don’t remember who did what, this is how we divided labor: someone cut tissue paper squares, someone cut wire, someone folded the squares accordion style and rounded off the edges, and I fluffed.

This is how the folded, wired, rounded flowers looked "pre-fluffing"

It seems like I did the least work. OK I kinda did…but fluffing is time consuming! I went to Target to buy a rubbermaid bin because the fluffed flowers took up so much room.

At the end of the day we must’ve had over 200 flowers! I could not have done these pomanders without Amy and EE’s help, so ladies – I thank you 🙂

We called it a day after cutting and fluffing, and I attacked the assembly a few days later.

First off, I had to cut the balls in half. Ugh, I hate how styrofoam bits fly everywhere, so I googled and discovered that if one uses a serrated knife coated in candle wax, one will not encounter the “bits” problem. So I took a serrated knife, cut into a white votive and ran the knife through it a few times and cut the balls in half, guestimating the center. It actually doesn’t matter if you’re a little off, the size of the flowers will disguise any ball size inconsistency (yes I giggle every time I type something like “ball size” because I am immature like that).

Here’s half a ball. I’m also showing you how to grasp in when gluing or inserting flowers so you don’t wreck the styrofoam. What you can’t see is that I’ve glued an ivory-colored piece of cardstock to the back to give it a more “finished” look. Yeah, I know no one will see the backs of these, but I am anal like that.

Oh actually, I lied, here’s a pic:

First task – gluing the ribbon. I started out by pinning the ribbon in place so I could avoid using hot glue, but the pins slid right out. You could probably Tacky Glue the ribbon to avoid using a glue gun, melting problems, etc, but I had a glue gun on hand, so that’s what I decided to use. Using the grip in the picture above, I placed the middle of the ribbon (think I cut 6-foot pieces since I don’t know how low/high they’ll need to hang) on the top edge of the ball and held the back down. I put hot glue right on the edge of the ball.

Because it melts the styrofoam a little, you have to be speedy. I pulled the ribbon over the glue and over the curve of the ball and held it in place with my fingers, like so:

Careful not to burn your fingers! I know that sounds obvious, but the glue comes through the satin a bit and is hot hot hot. There, I warned you.

Next up, shove some pins in the top, where you just put the glue. Bonus if the glue is still warm!

I placed the pins across the width of the ribbon, with the two end ones in a X shape, and one or two in the middle going straight down. If the glue is still warm, it cools with the pins in, and seems to hold a teeny bit better.

If the glue is super-hot, just grab your wire-cutters and use the handle to shove the pin in:

Now it’s time to stick your flowers in. The wire on the bottom can’t be too long! If it is more than 2”, it will bend going in and drive you absolutely nuts! I gave our wires a good twist to make them a little sturdier, then bent the ends up like this, for added security:

Don’t be shy about putting some muscle behind the “insertion” (eww):

If you’re having any trouble with the wires bending on contact, grab the wire at the base of the flower and ease the wire into the styrofoam ball:

Or if the flower is nearly in and you just need it to go in those last few millimeters, you can grab in by the top where the wire folds over the tissue paper, and press:

I like the start at the top, so I can ensure that I have full coverage of the ball, but still leave enough room for the ribbon to hang properly

Then fill in from there

Each half took between 9 and 12 flowers depending on size and fluffiness. I liked to pack the flowers on, so most of my poms are probably on the 12 flower side.

You can add flowers to a side or to the top or bottom if one side is fuller than the other. Or you can take a pair of scissors and pare down one of the even sides. This isn’t an exact science, so do whatever you think you need to do to make things look right!

Repeat 20 or 30 more times…..and voila! You’re done!

Additional notes:

Because I did not help with the initial steps of flower making, I’m not sure how many tissue sheets were used per flower and how big each square was. I had to cut some of my own squares to finish the project and I’ll tell you what I did for that.

-Cutting tissue: I stacked about 7-8 sheets together and cut up the middle of the paper, so I had 2 10×30” pieces. Then I cut each of the pieces into 4 rectangles, so I basically had 8 10×7.5” squares when finished cutting. I did not measure. I didn’t even cut that cleanly! I stacked these together in a big pile and would cut 3-4 batches at a time.

-Folding: I worked off the big pile. Some of my flowers had 10 sheets folded together, some only had 4 or 5. This makes for a big variation in flower size and look – that’s what I wanted though, it’s the effect I liked best. Variation is the key! I also rounded off some of the folded ends, but sometimes, I made them pointy, like this |> which also makes for variation in flower shape/appearance. For instance, this flower looks rectangular:

but don’t worry, once it’s shoved onto a ball with a 10 or so other flowers, it’ll look fantastic.

So basically just keep calm and fold away! Your pomanders might be time consuming, but they’re totally worth the effort.

Hanging: if you’re going the half-pom route, experiment with different ribbon placement so you can get them to hang exactly how you want. My first couple were tilting forward, so I had to move the ribbon a bit forward so the pom would hang flush against the pew.

Storing: If you have no place to store them, you can smush them into a rubbermaid bin, but be prepared for them to be totally smushed and wrecked looking when you take them out. This isn’t anything to panic about, but it WILL take a bit of time to re-fluff them. I learned this the hard way by totally smushing the first batch. While they look fine re-fluffed, the second batch is being piled in another rubbermaid without a cover, so there will be less re-fluffing to do later.

Hope you found this tutorial even a little bit useful. If you have questions or need help, just ask!!

12/30/2011

Here are some more pomander pics. These pomanders were indeed smushed in a rubbermaid for months. I know this would probably horrify most DIY-brides! I was lax about many many things towards the end of the planning period and had the attitude of “if this works, it works, if not, trash it.” That was my approach with the pomanders…I hoped at the end of the day, I’d be able to open the rubbermaid, fluff, tie them to the pews and be done with it.

As luck would have it, this worked just fine.

The family pitched in at the rehearsal and took over fluffing while Jam and I were rehearsing.

That's my grandparentals, aunt and cousin pitching in to fluff!

I placed the pomanders at even intervals on each side of the two church aisles.

I rehearse with Mom and Dad and the evenly spaced pomanders!

I thought it looked great, but while I had my back turned, the photographer rearranged everything, keeping some of the pomanders at the intervals I had chosen, while grouping some on every pew at the front of the church. This was one of those situations where I had to put my faith in our seasoned photographer. He told me the setup he had chosen would look better in pictures. He also had a chance to take some glamour shots:

Our last-minute programs and pomanders

Looking back at the professional photos now, I see that yes, our photographer was totally right, his arrangement of the pomanders was best.

Mom and Dad walk me down the aisle

Here you see the pomanders spaced more closely – there are still pomanders on the back pews though.

Here’s another look at the spacing – they’re spaced tight on the two inside rows of each aisle and on every other pew on the outside rows.

Here’s another view of the rows near the front of the church. Does spacing matter THAT much? No, I don’t think so. I did appreciate having someone do it for me though!

Jam and I walk out on the opposite aisle. The pomanders look good!

Here’s a shot at the opposite aisle.

As you can see from the pro pics, the church was big and kind of dark, though totally lovely. I knew that we couldn’t do a ton to change the look of the space, at least not on a budget, which is why I chose to make pomanders – they were simple, budget-friendly, totally color and size customizable, and pretty, and also fairly easy to make once I had the technique down pat. I think pomanders can make a big impact anywhere – we made half pomanders for the pews, but in the right kind of space, full pomanders in different colors hanging from the ceiling would look amazing.

Hopefully this post has served as a useful guide for making your own pomanders. If you’re still freaked out by the DIY aspect or totally pressed for time, you can buy poms pre-assembled and unfluffed. A source that I really liked the look of was PartyPom’s shop on Etsy. Her poms are made from recycled tissue paper and colors are totally customizable.

Good luck!

Uninvited Guests

Edited 1/16/2011

We fought the battle of the invited guests at our wedding. At the end of the day, we called people and tried to be nice. And then most just did what they wanted anyway. Sigh. In the end, we lucked out and had the physical capacity at the Barns to host these people, thank goodness, since we were nervous about working with a specific limit. Is the uninvited guest thing one teeny tiny element of the wedding that bugs me? Yeah. A tiny bit. Luckily the problem wasn’t a huge one and we had bigger drama to deal with before the wedding (like getting my niece a dress!) that took precedence, so by the time we walked down the aisle, we tried to forgive and forget. How should other brides deal with this? Well Weddingbee has a number of boards dedicated to this issue, and I liked Maggie Mason’s advice (below) – maybe brides could paste other’s quotes on their wedding websites? If the words are not your own, will people be less offended? I don’t know. It’s a very hard conversation, so if you’re faced with it, I wish you luck.

Oh how I wish our guests read Maggie Mason’s blog.

“There are a few guidelines for invitees as well. You don’t get to bring a guest unless you’re specifically invited to do so. You also don’t get to complain about not being invited to do so. It’s time you learned to mingle and socialize like a big kid. If your spouse or significant other can’t make it, you may not bring a friend in his or her place (much as you may not exchange the invitations for the price of your dinner and do something more fun with the money).”

Click here for other interesting wedding etiquette via Mighty Girl.

Showered with Love (and Presents)

Well I’m going to interrupt all these planning posts with something different….a SHOWER!!

I knew my wonderful mom and MOH-sister and bridesmaids would be throwing a shower, but I didn’t know when or where (well not really where…I had my suspicions). They surprised the heck out of me a week ago with a huge gathering of ladies in the back yard. They very craftily planned the shower on the same weekend as my 10-year high school reunion. This way, I’d be out of the house on Saturday and would be spending the night in Boston, the perfect setup for a sneak attack!

I knew that my mom and sister were putting a lot of work into planning, but I had NO idea how much they had done. They made a lot of the food and did all of the decorating!

My sister made a bunch of these pinwheels and had them all over the yard. She printed her own “Allison and Jamaal” paper – how amazing is that?!

I was so sad that these were only used for a day…until I realized that she craftily made them to match our wedding colors! I’ll be dropping these in Middletown before the wedding so they can find a home at the Barns for our reception!

Every little detail was taken care of – the shower itself was a sort of brunch/tea. Favors were little teacups with a tea bag in them. The butterflies and flowers found on the teacups were an overall theme that carried over to everything from the signs used for the food to the cake.

Each teacup had a little butterfly- and flower-adorned ‘Enjoy’ card – my sister’s handiwork:

She bought a couple Martha Stewart butterfly punches! Jealous!

Paper flower bouquets on the table for decoration

Amazing paper banner that said “Allison’s Bridal Shower” The picture does it no justice at all, this thing was beautiful and was made out of coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper. I love it…and it’s still hanging up there! Amy is going to help me make something similar for our chairs at the reception 🙂

Before I arrived there was a lot of prepwork. The tables were set and the fabulous hydrangea/rose centerpieces were put out.

My friend EE put together my “bridal chair”

My dad cleaned the pool. Everything must be perfect!!

The gift table piled up quickly (because I am a lucky girl!)

Guests gathered in the front yard right before I arrived (I wondered who Jamaal was texting)

Woohooo, surrrrprriiiise!!!

After a round of hugs, we moved into the backyard so I could marvel at the splendor:

There was even better stuff on the porch….FOOD:

Look at that spread! My mother had made almost 100 muffins in about 8 different flavors (yummmmm). There were sandwiches and quiches, seafood-macaroni salad and bean salad. Oh there were appetizers too (cheese, pepperoni, edible arrangement, veggies and dip), but I barely had the chance to eat them! Actually, I didn’t get a chance to try the quiche at the shower, because a guest took the last piece, but that’s another story 😉 and my mother had the sense to put two in reserve!!

After eating (and sweating, it was about 100 degrees!) it was present opening time. I won’t bore you with a million shots of me opening gifts, and I won’t show you the shot of me with backsweat, but here are a few pics (I apologize for the cleavage, I had NO idea my dress was so boobylicious)

Some every day silverware – we can eat! WahoooO!

My sister designed and made me this cross stitch picture. It’s a quote from “Across the Universe” by the Beatles, and it’s beautiful. I wanted it on our aisle runner, but aisle runners are banned in our church. This is even better, now I can hang this in our apartment and see it whenever I want. The quote is: “Limitless undying love which shines upon me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the universe.”

Love.It.

Evelyn vase – beautiful

It’s not a shower without lingerie! This was, thankfully, very tasteful!

I started to flag towards the end. People were insanely generous. I’m not going to show you all the pictures, or tell you everything we were given, but here’s a basic sampling:

most of our “everyday dishes,” baking supplies, tea kettle (the coveted one!), keurig, vases, 5 place settings of china, crate and barrel glassware, a silver chest, waterford flutes and goblets, the coveted charleston centerpiece bowl, a few pans, and….

last but not least, from all the bridesmaids:

A RED KITCHENAID MIXER!!! Yes!! I have already had one request for baked goods (future father in law, oatmeal raisin cookies) so I know what I’ll be making first once we get our kitchen set up!

Of course I had to take a shot with the bridesmaids:

sans future sister-in-law, who had e. coli poisoning (how awful is that?!) I think this is a great bunch of good-looking ladies, and I can’t wait til we’re all dressed up and fancy 🙂

So that’s just snippets from a totally amazing shower. I can’t even tell you how perfect the day was – it went by like a flash though, it was over in what seemed like a blink of an eye – probably a good preview for what the wedding day will be like!

The Dress! The Dress! The Dress!

Maybe I’ve never really talked about the quest for the dress because everything about it was straightforward and easy. Yup – easy.

Jam and I had been engaged for about 9 or so months and had been way too busy dealing with grad school and life issues to concentrate too much on the wedding. The year we got engaged I graduated grad school -though a technicality almost prevented me from doing so, Jam started grad school, my father unexpectedly retired from his job and the exit was unpleasant, and his only living relative with whom he was close died, also unexpectedly and the end was ugly. Then we had to clean out her house and figure out what to do with her stuff.  It sucked. It was stressful and sad. There were a lot of tears and at the end of ’08 my father said that the only good thing that happened all year was us getting engaged. Which was really one of the sweetest possible things he could’ve said, though in my head I was like “what about the Master of Science I earned in Blood, Sweat and Tears…I mean, Biology?” But I digress…

By January 2009 I think we all felt a little better, like we had our feet under us again, so we decided to get some wedding stuff done. Jam and I booked our venue, and getting that out of the way was fantastic. My friend and bridesmaid had been pressuring me about dresses for months. Ugh, it was too early to shop! She called me one day to tell me that she had made me an appointment at David’s Bridal for MLK day and I’d be meeting her there at 11am. “But David’s Bridal is kind of seedy!” I whined. “Uh uh, none of that,” she said, “and before you get mad, I am a stay at home mom with a one-year old! I NEED TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.”

I said that I’d go to DB, but wouldn’t see anything nice and certainly wouldn’t buy a dress. No way.

I decided to take a look at the website just in case.

That’s when I saw this:

I pretty much knew it was “the one.” I llloooved this dress. But loving this dress made things a teensy bit awkward, since I had mentioned to my sister’s friend that I might ask her to make my dress. I didn’t want to hurt any feelings, plus it was David’s Bridal. I was still stuck on being a snob about it, despite the fact that I feared snooty bridal salons. Contradictory as usual. Ha.

We get to David’s and the dress is on a mannequin, so I point that out to the saleslady and she grabs one in my size, as well as two other dresses. I barely remember them. My sister’s pics helped job my memory.

First dress, all lace, strapless Oleg Cassini.

It was a beautiful dress….just not on me:

Uhhh Spanx much? LOL. Seriously though, I hated the sweetheart neckline more than anything, though looking back I probably should’ve disliked other things, like how it was clinging to my belly. Yikes!

Second dress, the DB T9612:

As soon as I put it on, I loved it. It was comfy and fairly flattering. I loved the beading and the color and how the veil looked. The dress was very “me” and I thought it sort of fit the theme and venue nicely – while matching the venue wasn’t exactly a priority for me, I thought this was a pleasant coincidence.

This was the third dress, also a DB brand.

I actually loved this dress. It was simple, elegant and comfortable. For me it lacked the oomph of the second dress, though I think this silhouette was much better at disguising certain things I appreciated having disguised 😉  Jam and I went to a wedding about 9 months after this, and the bride was wearing this dress. She looked a-maz-ing. But, since she’s a very close friend of Jam’s and her husband is a groomsman, I was kind of relieved to have picked something different….

…because of course I picked the second dress!

This is where I list all the reasons why I like the dress. blah blah blah.

Did I think it was a little crazy to buy a wedding dress a full 21 months before the wedding? Uhh. Yeah. What if I found something else I liked? What if I changed my mind? Lost weight? Gained weight? Got sick of my choice? My bridesmaid, MOH and mother thwarted my fears. “Just don’t go dress shopping again!” they said. Well that was easy enough. Then I wondered where in my crowded closet I’d keep this thing, and it seemed like a stupid idea to buy with with nowhere to store it….My mother said it could live at my grandma’s house.  Then I worried about buying a dress at David’s – it’s a chain store, wouldn’t other brides…like a lot of other brides, be wearing the same dress? I think someone told me to get over it and to look on the bright side, the chance of seeing other brides in “my” dress would decrease over time since I was buying it so early…that was all the convincing I needed.  I bought the dress, headpiece and veil that very day. Boom. Done. Then my dress went to live at my grandma’s house, where I didn’t think too much about it, except when I saw a pic on the internet of another bride walking happily down the aisle in it.

Funnily enough, one of the weddingbee bloggers rocked “our” dress at her wedding, and looked just lovely:

Mrs D’Orsay of WeddingBee (click for source)

Maybe some brides would be upset about seeing their dress on other brides all over the interwebs – I thought I would be one of them – but it makes me kind of happy. The brides look radiant and the dress looks fab in photos. Hurrah for T9612!

So I’ve written about how after I purchased this, stored it in my grandma’s closet for 17 months and tried it on again, the fit wasn’t fantastic. You can’t tell from the above pic, but my bust isn’t exactly filling out the dress, and the shoulders didn’t really sit right. Mary has been reworking the dress over the past few weeks. Yesterday I went to her shop so she could see how the alencon lace worked on the hem. O.mah.gah. I can’t even tell you how the lace changed the whole dress to make it look super-fancy and more expensive. It added a touch of extra-classy, which excited us both to the point where Mary exclaimed “Jeez, I’m so excited, you’d think you were my kid! ha!” ha ha ha.

While I don’t have a pic of me with the lace and the train alterations (she took off some excess in the back, thank goodness), here I am with the dress pinned up and fitting much better. Um, and you can tell that I lost over 10 pounds since I bought it too, that stomach bulge has gone down and I got my cheekbones back, ha ha ha:

So there you have it, “the dress.” I love it even more with the nifty lace customization on the hem. Eeek! It fits perfectly too (note to self: maintain exercise routine) and after the next fitting, it’ll be ready to move back to my grandma’s closet until the beginning of October. Can’t wait!