Friday, January 9, 2009

Avoiding the "War"

I love weddings. I'm particularly excited about mine, but I love all of them. I love silly ones, serious ones, off-beat ones, all sorts. I read far too many wedding blogs, I go to wedding expos for fun, I adore Martha Stewart Wedding.

And yet, I have absolutely no interest in seeing Bride Wars. None. At all.

The plot of the film is that two best friends, who have dreamed of their wedding at the Plaza in June all their lives, accidentally schedule their wedding for the same day. "Funny" things ensue.

I couldn't put my finger on what, exactly, I loathed about this wedding movie before I even saw it. I think it was a combination of the cattiness, the selfishness, the seeming absence of the grooms in the preview, the whole tone of the movie.

I read the review for the movie in the New York Times, because I do that with movies I am confident I don't want to see and like to feel vindicated when smart people also hate that movie (even though they're making an informed critical judgement and I'm just being judgmental).

“Bride Wars” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). Dangerous acts of consumerism.

I giggled to myself. The ratings blurb at the bottom of NYT reviews are always one of my favorite parts, mostly because I'm a nerd. But it hit the nail on the head. This movie was all about dreams of a wedding at the plaza with the big dress, best spray tan, biggest bouquet. It barely mentioned the grooms, let alone the entire concept of marriage.

And then it hit me. This movie isn't about marriage, it's just about the two weddings of two very silly women. Two women who have a completely different view of their wedding than I do. Not that I wouldn't love a June wedding at the Plaza with all the splendor that comes with it. But that's not the point. The point is that we are going to be surrounded by the people who love us as we pledge ourselves and our lives to each other and create a new family. I love futzing with the flowers, picking out pretty dresses, looking at limos, but in the end, at least for me anyway, that's not the point at all.

I can flip past the opulent dresses and over the top centerpieces in Martha Stewart Weddings and simply admire them for their beauty. Maybe I can do the same with the main characters of this movie. Maybe...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being cheap, but in a fun way.

So there are some things I think a lot of money should be spent on for the wedding...

And then there are things that I have a tough time spending piles of money on.

So for the past few months, I've been doing a LOT of research. (Shocking, I know) I've looked at what I thought was every single limo company in Southern New Hampshire and Northern MA. I've looked at the website for every salon in the greater Manchester area that has one. I wasn't really terribly excited about anything I had found. Everything seemed overpriced to me. I felt like I was getting ripped off, and I really, really hate that feeling. I wasn't despairing, because, well, we've got time. But I was a little downhearted.

Last weekend, Leah and I went to the WZID Wedding Expo at the Radisson. A mere 5 blocks away from my favorite breakfast place, it was far from an out-of-the-way excursion.

I attended the Expo last year as a bridesmaid with Steph and we had a lot of fun. This year was no different! It's definitely an overwhelming experience. There were a bunch more vendors this year than last and we found some really great stuff. But you do find yourself saying, "Oh, thank you. Yes, in September. Yes, we're really counting on the weather. Yeah, I'm excited about the chapel, it's beautiful" over and over again because all of the vendors ask you the same questions.

Despite the fact that I had a lot done already, there was more than enough to see and do that was actually relevant and worthwhile. Sure, we looked at dresses even though I already bought mine. And stationary even though I already picked mine out (and is a FRACTION of the cost of what they were selling, but also, honestly, a fraction of the awesomeness). But we also looked at a bunch of beautiful accessories (I'm in need of jewelry and a brooch for my dress), a bunch of salons, 3 limo companies, a few dance places, and said hi to my DJ and the coordinator at the Puritan - a freaking doll of a woman, so nice.

We looked at three limo companies, only one of which I'd already heard a lot about (and seen their prices). After investigating the car and talking to the driver, we decided on a great deal with Odyssey Rides. They're awesome! The car is beautiful, and the price is almost as pretty. :-) We'll be riding in style to the ceremony and reception in this.
You can't really tell from the picture, but it's a 10 person car. It's huge. And all fancy on the inside with three DVD screens and a touch screen climate control and instrument panel.

One of the funnest parts of the day was the fashion show, which was a mixture of really horrible designs, uncomfortable models, snarky remarks from Leah and me, and some really beautiful dresses, gorgeous models, and ogling from the peanut gallery. The company who sponsored it, Sposa Atelier, will get a visit from us to look at accessories.

The last thing we were looking for was hair and makeup. I know it's kind of a splurge, but I really want someone to do my hair and makeup for me the day of the wedding. I just don't want to have to worry about it. And despite the fact that I acknowledge it's a splurge, I'm not really interested in paying splurge-like prices on it.

Enter 26th on Hanover, a fairly new salon in Manchester.

For a very reasonable price of $58 a person, myself and the bridesmaids will each get a manicure (day before) and formal hairstyle. And for a slightly unreasonable travel fee of $50, they will come to us. Makeup is also offered through a partnership they have, though her prices are slightly less amazing. But I have a consultation with her next month, so we'll decide if it's worth it then.

I think I'll always struggle with spending this much money, but I'm balancing it with being frugal in places I think are slightly less important. Because in the end, how I get there and what my hair looks like matter much less than what I'm going to do once I'm there.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A rose by any other name

On Tuesday, I received my test shipment from 2G Roses. I'd ordered a mix of 25 roses for our "test" bunch. I knew I'd have some free time now that the holidays are behind us so I figured I'd grab a couple of bridesmaids, test out their bouquet making skills, and investigate the quality of the flowers I'd be getting.

The test met and exceeded my expectations! It went really super - well until the fire. But we'll get to that. I'm getting ahead of myself.

New Year's Day - Amy (sister and maid-of-honor), Kirsten and Steph (bridesmaids extraordinaires) stop by. Armed with the 25 roses from 2G and a dozen bought at the grocery store with some baby's breath, we set to work to see how we could do.

First off, let me just say that the quality of the roses from 2G was awesome! They came firm and healthy, and as promised, two days later they were blooming and beautiful.

Our first attempt at a bouquet. We got a mix of colors in our test bunch so we could choose exactly which color we want. These were a bunch of the pastels. Beautiful, but not what we'll be doing. What this did teach us was how big we wanted the bridesmaids' bouquets and how we wanted them to look.

Our first boutonniere. Steph will definitely be in charge of this. She knocked this out in like 45 seconds. Pretty bad ass if you ask me.
After I banged out the first bouquet, and Steph showed her serious boutonniere skills, I unwrapped the first bouquet and let the three of them try. I had cookies to make for dessert that night, so I stepped into the kitchen (right next to where we were working) and preheated the oven.

While I was mixing, the amazing ladies came up with this. The first picture is our first attempt at a bridesmaid's bouquet.The next picture takes a look at what Amy's maid-of-honor bouquet would look like. A little fuller with a couple more roses. Kirsten and Amy did great jobs with these!A great shot at how beautiful the 2G flowers are... and Steph's serious skills.Instead of baby's breath, we considered green filler. We all decided it was a little too Christmas-y for our taste.

While the bridesmaids were working, I checked on the oven. This is what happened:

Nothing foggy or out of focus about these pictures. The house was FILLED with thick, smelly smoke. I'd made meatballs for dinner a few nights prior and apparently having about a 1/2 cup of grease at the bottom of your oven is a bad idea... When it first started smoking, I thought, "Oh, I'll just turn up the heat to burn it off quicker." The result, which was not captured on film, was a HUGE grease fire in my oven. After calmly informing my fiance that I had lit the house on fire, and remembering we never actually got around to buying a fire extinguisher, we shut the stove and waited for it to burn out.

After politely avoiding teasing me for lighting my house on fire, and hiding upstairs and outside in the 15 degree weather because no one could breathe, we regrouped in the living room to attack the final bouquet - mine!

Without baby's breath, and then with:

Isn't it pretty?? This was with the grocery store roses and some of the extra 2G ones. For the wedding, my bouquet will be twenty French Red and Black Magic Red roses with baby's breath. I love it!

After we finished with that, while we were waiting for the smoke to finish clearing, we played with mixing red and white for the bridesmaids' bouquets. Here's the result: I really love this! I think this will be what we go with in the end.

An exciting afternoon for sure. I have some really talented bridesmaids and I'm SO excited that not only are we going to save some serious dough, but we'll all have a personal touch on our bouquets.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ho Ho Ho!

As Christmas looms mere days away, I've taken to considering how, or if, our lives will be different when we're married. Honestly, I'm having a tough time thinking of many.

Mike and I have been together for going on 12 years (will be in February). This will be our 12th Christmas celebrated together. We've lived together for almost 3 years (only 2 of them in a row...). If there was a fight to have, we've had it. If there was a decision to make (kids and the like not included), we've made it.

Holidays are a stressful time for a lot of people, and the Bel-Grage house is no exception. This year was the first time in 12 years we've done Thanksgiving together. Last year at Thanksgiving time, we had the following conversation sitting in the then brand-new townhouse.

Kristin: So you're doing things with your family and me with mine again this year?
Mike: Yup.
Kristin: You know, we'll be officially engaged this time next year.
Mike: Yup.
Kristin: We should really consider doing Thanksgiving together next year, since we'll be engaged and all.
Mike: Sure.

And that was that. For 10 months we didn't consider it. Then Thanksgiving, as it does, came around again. And of course there was some "discussion" about how it should be handled. In the end, we just did two Thanksgivings, one earlier in the day, one later.

Planning for Christmas is quite similar. We've combined Christmases for a number of years, but never consolidated. There's always the trip to my dad's, the trip to his parents', the trip to my mom's, the trip to my aunt's. It's always a crazy, hectic week. But, as Tim Gunn says, we make it work.

This year, for the first time, there's actually some consolidation. With the power outages and storms, neither of our parents have the time to get things ready at their respective houses for Christmas. So this year, they're coming to us! After an evening of fun at my Dad's, followed by a late-evening party at family friends of Mike's parents', we'll have Christmas morning and dinner at our house. I've been all aflutter trying to get things cooked and organized, and we've had our share of "discussions" about this as well, but, overall, things are running smoothly.

As I've been planning, and baking, and prepping, I've been thinking. What's going to change when we're married? How will this all be different? Will it mean more or be more complicated? And I don't know the answer. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it can't get more complicated, short of popping out some kids.

So why bother? If we're already living together, already combining families and holidays, already living our lives, why bother get married? If nothing is going to change, what's the point?

I guess, for me anyway, it's a line in the sand. It's a day to stand and scream at the universe, "I love this man. I am going to spend my life devoted to creating a life together with him." Being married isn't going to change how we celebrate holidays, how we resolve conflict, or even how we love each other. But it will cement that love in the traditions and vows that we will share with our parents (for better in some cases, and for worse in other), grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents.

Merry Christmas everyone! And a healthy and joyful New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Dress... and what comes next

So I did it. I finally called and bought my dress! I'd been dragging my feet a little bit, waiting to save up the money, and then spend that money on bills instead. Finally, this week after a lovely and generous Christmas bonus, I finally had no financial excuse and called Country Bridals in Jaffrey. When we made the trip out to Jaffrey this summer and finally decided on my dress, I was measured and picked my size. With that in place, all I had to do was call and give them my info. So exciting! As I mentioned, I'm not posting pictures of my dress on here, but if you want to see it, just let me know and I'll send you the link!

Now that the dress is ordered though, another, very serious realisation has taken hold of my brain. I have to wear it. For a whole day. And be photographed in it. More than I have ever been photographed in my life. And these are not pictures I can make silly faces in to distract from the rest of the image. Or pictures I can (or want to) look at once and pretend I didn't see.

I need to get me to the gym!

I am not a slender girl. I haven't been for pretty much my entire (very short) adult life. I have a bad relationship with food and a worse relationship with the gym. Earlier this year, I joined Weight Watchers and lost (and kept off) 20 pounds. Which is a good start. I don't expect to look like a person I am not at my wedding. I'm not looking to lose 80 pounds, or even 60 pounds. But I'd like to look like a better version of me.

So I'm going to go to the gym. Not just because I want to look good in my wedding pictures, which I do. But because I want to be healtier. And I want my body to be in better shape, for me, for Mike (*giggle*), and for the children I'm going to have in a few years.

I don't expect crazy results. But I think with a few good decisions, repeated over the next 9 months, I could do pretty well!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Centerpieces - Take Two

So I know I had my centerpieces all picked out. And they were super! And I'll likely still incorporate a lot of the candle stuff still.

But I discovered these:

A recently wed bride from NYC was selling these vases on one of my favorite wedding blogs (I read a lot of them). It was such a great deal, and Lissa-the-Amazing is picking them up for me!

I really love the cranberries and would like to do them for our wedding. But since we're getting married in September, we might be a little early for cranberry season. But we'll give it a go! I can always buy fake ones, but that just seems so silly...

So this is the new plan. For now anyway. Do you think it's enough on it's own? Or should I get some candles to go around it? (They'd have to be in glass because of restrictions from the Puritan)

Monday, December 1, 2008

When the 'moon hits your eye...

So we've started thinking about the honeymoon. Well we've been thinking about the honeymoon for some time, but now we're actually doing something about it. Not a whole lot, but a search on Orbitz here, a conversation with my grandmother there. Nothing serious, but a good start.

We've always wanted to go to Italy for our honeymoon. Long, long ago when the earth was green and Mike and I were first dating (read 1996) we used to hang out at the Mall. Cause that's what you do when you're 14. And my favorite store to wander in was always Prints Plus. It was kinda like a pop-art museum. They had all of these awesome prints hung up (and some really lame ones, with led lights in them, but I digress) and they changed the pictures from time to time. Well there were two pictures that were my absolute favorites. The first was a picture of Venice, all orange in the sun set, with the gondolas and the buildings silhouetted in black. I was completely enamored with it. And for our X anniversary (I can't even remember... that's awful... maybe 2nd? 3rd?), Mike bought it for me. It was the first poster I put up in my freshman dorm room when I moved in. The second picture was this gothic painting of a little girl with a teddy bear in her pj's, blowing bubbles off an old building with a gargoyle reaching out to catch one. I swore two things in front of those pictures (a very hallowed place, indeed): one day the picture of the little girl would hang in my living room, and I'd go to Italy for my honeymoon. Mike got the picture of the little girl framed shortly after we moved into our house last November.

Senior year of high school there was a group trip to Italy planned by one of the Latin teachers over February break. I jumped at the opportunity. And I think deep down, Mike was a little upset that I went without him. But even though I've been there before, I think the experience will be completely different this time around. I was there so long ago and never once left the hotel except when I was with the group of everyone. So I'm really excited to explore it as an adult. :-)

The one place I'm most excited to go is San Marco Square in Venice. You've seen it in movies and commercials. It's the big huge square with all the pigeons.

When I am having trouble going to sleep because my mind is racing and I'm stressing over something, this is my happy place that I go to. There's a cafe in the first corner of the square with outdoor seating. And I'll sit on a chair with a cappucino and look out at the water or just stir my coffee. And I'll be asleep in an instant. I didn't get to go to the cafe when I was there - because we were there during Mardi Gras week and it was SO packed. And it costs more to sit in cafes then to just get a snack and move on so we never stopped. But that's what I most want to do. I want to sit at the cafe, and get a cappucino and hold my husband's hand.

Just thinking about it makes me so happy. The first time I went to Italy it was the first time I'd ever been out of the country. I was just SO excited I could barely think. And I just let it all wash over me. I had no expectations except to see things I hadn't seen. And I remember my 18 year old self stopping in the middle of the street in Florence and thinking, "This is the happiest moment of my entire life. Right here." And while there have been some really good moments since then, that unbridled joy is still unmatched. It was just all consuming happiness. I don't know if it'll be the same when I get to go back, but I have a sneaking suspicion that bringing my new husband and experiencing it all with the freedom to roam and wander will make it all the more special.