Thursday, October 23, 2008

Does size matter? Amoré chimes in

Love just posted about wedding size, so I thought it would be a great time to talk about the size of our guest list.

In a word, it's huge. HUGE. When people ask me how big my wedding is, and I tell them, they are shocked. In a "holy-crap-you've-got-to-be-crazy" sort of way. Our guest list is currently at 379. And that's not everyone.


See, C is on staff at our church--the largest United Methodist church in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The church as a large staff. The church has a large congregation. The church has a large youth group. Our families have attended our church for a combined 40+ years. Our parents are in the same Sunday school class, which is also quite large. C works directly with the youth, and I volunteer in the youth group.

C and I are incredibly blessed in that we have a tone of people around us who love us. We're having six bridal showers. I don't even know what to do with all of the love! Our wedding will be large, but I also think that it will be amazingly fun and personal. C and I are thinking of a lot of ways to make our wedding unique, and I think we'll have a lot elements that will help us to mingle with our guests and generally have a great time.

If I had to chance to have several weddings (all to C, of course!) I'd probably have one as a tiny, intimate affair in snow-covered mountains. (I'm totally jonesing over these photos that Miss Champagne posted on Weddingbee). In my winter wedding we'd have everyone fly in on Wednesday night and have activities all weekend in our rustic lodge.

However, I've only got one go at this, and in that case, I want everyone there who's willing to come. I look at weddings as a great excuse to get everyone you love in one room. The cost? We won't be having a 4-course gourmet feast, but we will have a great time with the people we love the most--every last one of them.

So, you know where Love and I stand on the wedding size topic--we'd love to hear from someone who wants a small, intimate affair!


Does size matter?

I love Cosmopolitan magazine! I mean like love it, share it, read it, use it ;-) In college part of my pledge name in my sorority was "Cosmo." I've read it for years because I believe every young woman, regardless of experience, should be educated. Now, I don't believe everything I read in Cosmo and to be honest it rarely talks about marriage. Sure there are engagement ring ads, but it's targeted to 20-something women. Cosmo usually steers clear of marriage because its readers have varying degrees and ways they show their commitment to significant others.

Today I logged on to Cosmo's website to send my friend a gift subscription for her birthday and found Cosmo talking about marriage. "Why Small Weddings Rock" argues that small weddings are better and far more personal for a couple than a large event with a few hundred people. Cosmo and I agree on some points: all eyes will be on you, it will save your budget, you can invite your nearest and dearest instead of feeling obligated to invite those you aren't super close to.

I think that size is a way that weddings differ the most. Friends of Amore and I are getting married in July with a few close friends and family in attendance, in a field, as the full moon rises. Perfect for them! However, a small wedding just isn't for me. I come from a small town, which includes lots of close family, friends, family friends, church members, political allies (my father's a local elected official and we're both active in local politics), and customers (my family owns a third generation grocery store). Not to mention college friends! If I just invited my closest family members I would easily have over 30 people and that's not counting anyone on B's side. It's always been very obvious to me that my wedding would be large (if not open church, but that's a whole other post)!

I want a large wedding. As a single girl for most of my life, I feel like a large wedding is something I've not only waited on forever, but earned. I want lots of people to share in our joy! I may not be able to afford a five course meal for all in attendance, but I will be surrounded by people I care about. That's what matters to me. I certainly see the advantages to having a small wedding, but I'm an extrovert and can't imagine a small guest list for my wedding day!
How large is your guest list? Have you always dreamed of a large or small wedding? Does size matter?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Engagement Chicken?

Lately I've been trying my hand in the kitchen. I have potential to be a fabulous cook. I come from good genes: my mamaw can make anything and my mother's baking is famous in our town. I'm still working on meeting my potential. . . .

For B's birthday I was successful in making chocolate pie! He loved it and it was the perfect end to his birth day of eating! It may not be true for every man, but it is for mine: "The key to his heart is through his stomach."

Thinking of his heart and stomach I remembered a recipe I've had saved for years--engagement chicken. Crazy, I know! First published in Glamour magazine in 2004 if a woman makes the chicken for her man he will propose (it takes some time. . . not drop on one knee after the first bite kind of magic here).

There's no way making a meal for your man will convince him to propose. . . . but could it hurt? Now I'm a Southern Belle, but I'm not caught in the 1950's. B and I have had many discussions about rings, timelines, and all things engagement so making engagement chicken probably won't change a lot for us.

So if it can't hurt. . . . here's the recipe for engagement chicken.

Is this crazy? Did engagement chicken work for you? Did you do any crazy things to "speed up" your engagement?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The First Nightmare

This weekend marked my first wedding-related nightmare. No, I wasn't eaten by tulle and satin, or my brain sucked out by curls and hairspray. Instead, it was three weeks before the wedding and I hadn't sent out any invitations.

Not One.

And on top of that, they weren't even printed!

I was one stressed bride when I woke up. I was ready to call Schroeder's dad (one of the groomsmen, his father owns a print shop and will be printing our invitations) at 3 a.m. to make sure they'd get printed in time! Luckily, I realized fairly quickly that I'm still over 6 months away from my big day, so I've got time to print and send my invites.

How long after your engagement was your first wedding-related nightmare? How long did you have them?


Monday, October 20, 2008

B's birthday

Happy birthday, B!

Today is B's 25th birthday! I'm all about celebrating birthdays!

To make his day special I'm feeding him :-) Sure there are presents, but I woke up very early this morning to make biscuits from scratch. His grandfather once told him not to marry a woman who couldn't make good biscuits so I perfected my mamaw's recipe in order to be eligible for marriage. A true Southern Belle :-) I had lunch delivered to his classroom at school. For dinner, I'm going to tackle his mother's recipe for his favorite pie (wish me luck on this one).

Last year, after the first half of his birthday celebrations, he told me he loved me. He stuttered, giggled, and finally got those three amazing words out. I didn't immediately say it back. Stupid, I know especially because I was feeling it. Minutes later (although it felt like days), after I'd walked out of the room and realized how stupid I had been, I came and told B that I loved him too. Why didn't I say it immediately? Our relationship was new and although I had felt very much in love with him for awhile I knew that I would love him more. After I apologized for not telling him immediately, I told him that I loved him. I told him that I was very much in love with him now, but I knew that I would love him far more. And that has been very true.

And now maybe our "happily ever after" timeline is speeding up. . . . . stay tuned!

When did you first say I love you to your significant other? Who said it first? Does it even matter?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bring Your Sweet Tooth

Or go home!

C & I are dessert-junkies. He makes the best brownies out of a box you've ever had. My favorite part of any meal is the sweet stuff that comes at the end. If I could, I'd only eat desserts. My wedding dress would probably hate me, though! My favorite days in the cafeteria in college were when they served "Ice your own cupcakes." My college cafeteria didn't do many things right, but cookies are on that list. And when you can ice your own cupcakes, you can ice your own cookies, which means you can make the infamous Double-Doozie just like from Great American Cookies.


But I digress. The point is, C & I both love sweets more than just about any food.

When we originally started talking about our reception food, we wanted Salsarita's. We love the fresh Mexican food, they cater, and it's affordable. Momma Amore' quickly vetoed, though, because while they cater, they just drop off and pick up, rather than staying and helping make sure things go smoothly. While that worked great when they catered lunch at my old office of around 20 people, it could be disastrous with my wedding of 300...

So, as we were thinking more about what we wanted to do and what we could afford, Momma Amore' suggested a dessert buffet. Check out these GORGEOUS pics of dessert buffets (click to enlarge)...

{Style Me Pretty}

{Style Me Pretty}

Our dessert buffet will be catered by Sweet Celebrations, based out of Maryville, Tenn. Their website isn't up yet, but their sweets are simply incredible! We'll having cupcakes galore: red velvet with cream cheese icing, strawberry with cream cheese icing, chocolate with caramel icing and spice cake with caramel icing. They'll also make our wedding cake, which will be white cake with caramel icing (are you noticing a theme here??) We'll have mini key lime pies, mini apple pies, mini cheesecakes, thumbprint cookies and wedding cookies. In addition, my mom and I will be making Chex Mix (I swear, her Chex Mix is the BEST) and cheese straws. We decided we needed something savory to prevent any diabetic shock :) We are so excited about our dessert buffet, and we think it will be a GREAT way to continue our "tradition with a twist" theme.

What are you serving at your reception?


Monday, October 13, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

C & I made two of these this weekend. First, you should know that this weekend marked the fifth (yes, 5!) anniversary of mine & C's first date. That's what happens when you marry your high school sweetheart. You date for many years! We spent the weekend in Nashville with my sister and brother-in-law, who will be celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary tomorrow! Congratulations, Erin & Matt!

(here's a really terrible picture of C&Me from my camera phone inside the Melting Pot--YUM--we didn't manage to have an actual digital camera with us. Such a shame!)

So, as we spent the weekend out of town, we had lots of time in the car to talk about the wedding! (We talked about other things, too, but this was a great opportunity to figure out a few things that I'd been conflicted on).

First, we have a reception location, and I don't think I'll change my mind anymore! I've known that we'll be having the reception at the church from the beginning. It's cheaper (only one site fee, which is low since C works at the church), it's greener (no gas to get between the two places) and it just generally makes sense to us. Our first though on where to have the reception was a combined space--the gorgeous narthex and courtyard outside of the sanctuary we'll be married in. Here are some pictures from Laura's wedding of that space. (all photos by me!)

A shot of the Narthex. Here, I have my back to the sanctuary

I love the windows in the back of the Narthex, which is where I hung Laura's dress for this picture. The courtyard is the space you see outside the windows.

A picture that WILL be recreated in May! But again, these are the windows at the back of the Narthex, with the courtyard outside.

And here's an outdoor view of the Narthex.

While the location is beautiful, I had several major concerns after sleeping on this idea for a while. First, this space is RIGHT OUTSIDE of the sanctuary and the bride's room. That means when the wedding is over, the guests essentially go no where. The traffic jams I'm imagining with my large guest list in this space made me really nervous. Plus, we'd need to get back into the sanctuary for some post-ceremony pics. Can you imagine trying to work your way back into the sanctuary with all of your loving guests hovering near by? It wouldn't be pretty. Space was my other major concern. How were we going to fit 14 cocktail tables, a buffet line, a DJ and a dance floor all in this space? And what if it rained? We could move to another room, but it wouldn't have the flow or the aesthetic we'd get in the Narthex and Courtyard. So, while this space is unique and gorgeous, I really just wasn't comfortable having the reception here.

We had other options, of course, one of which is the "Old Sanctuary," more commonly referred to as "The Castle." It's called the Castle because of it's decor...I don't have any pictures of the space, but it's a large room with a stage about 3 steps up from the main floor level. There are, in fact, suits of armor (at least one) and the walls have a treatment to make it look like stone. Stone that is lavender, yellow, and light green, I might add. The space is great--plenty of room and beautiful stained-glass windows. But I just can't stomach the color scheme...

Another option is Epworth Hall, or the gym. I attend a large church (3,000 or so members last I checked), and we have a building across the street from our Main campus called the Cokesbury Center. The Center is the home of our contemporary worship services, which take place in a carpeted gym with a large stage. This space is used for everything imaginable. Unfortunately, it's not "technically" an available space for our reception. However, we were willing to at least ask about using the space. But as I thought about it, I realized that maybe it was a bit TOO big. Yes, there will be lots and lots of people at the wedding, but I still wanted it to feel a little intimate. Yes, I realize I'm asking for the impossible, but still, Epworth just didn't feel quite right.

Which leads us to our final option and the one we've officially chosen: The Youth Suite! The Suite is also located a Cokesbury Center, right across the street from the main campus where the ceremony will take place. We'll probably get a crossing guard to help our guest cross the busy street in between the two. We'll also try to find some fun transportation for the bridal party across--a golf cart or something of the sort.

The main room of the Youth Suite is not big enough to hold everyone, especially with a buffet line. But we don't plan on cramming everyone in the one room all at once. We'll set up the buffet outside the Suite, directly across the hall from the main doors. The wall there is sort of shaped like a Bay window (you know, the top 3/8 of an octagon) so I think it will look neat to have our buffet tables there. We'll put the dance floor (we're going to rent) smack in the middle of the main room, with our cocktail tables scattered throughout. The Suite is also home to a rockin' game room complete with Foosball, Dance Dance Revolution and more video games than I can count. We'll have this room open for all the game lovers in attendance! We'll set up our photobooth in another side room.

As for where to put a DJ, that's the other decision we made this weekend. We're not having one. I'll be honest, iPod weddings sort of make me nervous. But, as Love told me today, all you need is a good sound system, a great playlist, and an MC to announce all of the major moments. We've got the sound system covered--the Youth Suite is high-tech like that. MC--we've got several people we could ask. And as for a playlist, we've got 6 and half months to perfect it. That's where you come in--what are the must-plays for my reception? Any and all ideas are welcome!

Here's a shot of the main room in the Youth Suite. Obviously it won't look like this for the reception, but check out how freakin' cool it is!


So, start the song ideas comin'!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Bridal Trend I Can't Live Without

I. Love. Photobooths.
More than a dress.
More than a cake.
More than dresses for my girls.
More than Chacos for the guys.
More than a processional or a recessional.
More than anything.
(Except, of course, for C.)

C & I are photog buffs. We love pictures and what's more fun than cramming into a small space and taking cutesy pictures of yourself.

So when I saw in a bridal magazine a long time ago (I don't even remember when it was...) that renting a photobooth for a reception was a trend, I fell in love. I had to have one.

I started researching for photobooth rentals in the Knoxville area. I found several nationwide rental companies that can service Knoxville. Here's a snapshot (pardon my pun!)

Funtastic Foto

Funtastic Foto looks like a really fun place to rent from, because they have lots of fun options for your photobooth. In addition to the classic strip of photos, you can have fun backgrounds and cutouts.

Photo-Me rents classic photobooths and digital booths. Unfortunately, they don't serve Knoxville :(

Photo Express
Photo Express also offers Dance Dance Revolution games for rental! How fun is that?

Party Booths
Party Booths offers logo printing on your photos. How perfect for a design freak! Love it!

Volunteer Photo Booth Rentals
Volunteer is a fun Tennessee-based company that also offers a "Snap-Lab" rental--digital cameras and instant photo printers.

I. Heart. Photobooths.

My parents, the generous benefactors of the wedding, are, unfortunately not big fans for dropping $900-$1800 on an "extra" for the wedding. So I'm thinking about how I'm going to afford this rental, and I decided to ask Brent. Brent is the youth director at our church, and he's also C's boss. Brent rents a lot of things for youth functions, so I thought I'd check with him to recommend a rental company. I knew he had never rented a photobooth here, but I knew I needed to pick his brain. His suggestion?


"Use your Mac! It has a Photobooth application. Rig up a booth yourself and use that application, then you don't have to pay for a rental."


A quad of shots of me from the photobooth application. Please excuse the weird slanty eyes in the third picture...

Here's my plan: Construct a PVC & Black Fabric "Booth". Place laptop with above-the screen camera on one end, and a bench on the other. Hook up a secondary monitor to laptop. Hire or convince a friend to press the button to take the picture. Print on instant photo printer.

I. Love. Photobooths.

And now I can afford one.


Animoto Slideshow

Animoto is my new love today. It's an amazing site where you can upload your pictures or easily get them from Facebook, Flickr, and other picture sites and instantly turn them into a beautiful slideshow. You can upload your own music or choose to use orignial music from the site (which I did). The 30 second video is free and you can use up to 15 photos. You can also choose to "spotlight" your favorite photos. Because it's timed it may cut you off before 15 photos (I only got 11).

How easy and fun! I chose to use Lisa's wedding as a practice and within five minutes this is what I got:

You can choose a full length video for just $3 or an unlimited subscription for $30 a year. I haven't gone that far yet, but my first 30 second video has me excited about this service!

Just think of all the possibilites!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Ring Shopping: Party of 1?

I have a confession to make. I've been engagement ring shopping. . . . . with myself. B and I have looked online together lots, but per his rules for engagement, we will not be going ring shopping together.

So, I took it upon myself to go shopping! I don't want to miss out on trying on rings and deciding what I love and what looks best on me. I started a new job as an admissions counselor for a law school (whoo for new job), which requires lots of travel. While traveling "with myself" I also go shopping "with myself." This way I get the experience, I feel like I'm doing research (the best kind ever), and B still gets to surprise me. Win, win!

I get to shop around in a different city every week and don't have to worry about the pressure of a jewelry salesperson. Sorry, Amore!
I've gone back and forth deciding what I love, but these are a few of my favorites from Kay Jewelers (which seems to be the store of choice for LA Brides this week :-):

#1 Princess cut (source): I love this ring and what girl doesn't want to wear a diamond called Princess? I mean really?! I love the band and the look of the two together. I think I might be getting attached to this ring. . . . .

#2 Radiant Cut (source): I had never noticed this cut until the non-pushy saleswoman put it on my finger. I'm a fan of emerald cut, but it takes a big emerald (and budget) to make it stand out. The radiant cut stands out like an emerald and catches my eye in the same way. I think it's unique and beautiful!

Ok, now that I've shared with you some of my favorites you need to know my conclusions about the engagement ring shopping experience: It doesn't matter what he kind of ring he gives me. I'm done with making lists and rules about the engagement. I trust him. I love him. He's the one I pick and I know that whatever ring he picks for me will be perfect.

Back in the day (okay a year ago) when I went ring shopping with Amore so she could make her list (doesn't every girl do this) a wise, non-pushy jewelry salesman told us that doing our "homework" and making lists were good, but in the end it doesn't matter what kind of ring he puts on your finger because it's something that he's picked for you.

In the end all I want is him and I know that whatever kind of ring he chooses will be my new favorite.

What was your engagement ring shopping experience? Did you get what you picked out?


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pressure from the Jewelry Store

A few weeks ago, I innocently suggested that C & I go to the jewelry store to check out wedding bands. Little did I know that I was signing him up for harassment.

C bought my ring from the Kay Jewelers store located in West Town Mall here in KnoxVegas. He had a great experience there! The sales person he worked with was nice, helpful, and attentive. Unfortunately, the mall is outside of the 10-miles-from-home radius that I try to stick to when it comes to my daily life. I'm spoiled, right? But, there is a Kay store that is within my radius, so I figured that even though C bought my e-ring from the mall, we'd transfer our business to the closer store for the duration.

So, we went to the closer Kay a few weeks ago to check out the selection. Since then, C has gotten several phone calls on his cell and has received a postcard as a part of a mass direct mail campaign from this store. The sales person we worked with was not very knowledgeable--she had to keep asking the other person working for answers. And on top of that, she repeatedly called C to check up on him to see if he/we had made a decision. The phone calls became so disruptive to C's life, that he actually called the store and asked to be removed from their contact list!

Fast forward a few days, and C gets a hand written note card from Jessica, the woman he bought my e-ring from. He let me read the card. It was short, and it concentrated more on taking care of C, me & my ring than it did on selling him anything. She said she knew I loved the ring (she was right!) and that we should come in sometime to have it cleaned. She then suggested coming into the store to look for a Christmas gift for me (yes, please!) or to look at bands. And the last line of the note let us know that there is a sale at the Kay store in the mall this weekend.

We'll be buying our bands from Jessica.

Here's what we're thinking about getting:

For me, a baguette eternity band {source}. This is not an eternity band, but you get the idea. We'd like for the diamonds to go all the way around on mine. I love that C knows that I love *bling* We loved how the baguette stones looked next to my princess e-ring.

C has always wanted a simple band. So, for his choice, he wants a plain band in Tungsten, about 5mm wide. This ring came from here {source}. We love the tungsten because it's a strong metal (not resizable, though) and because of it's darker, gun metal color. Also, Tungsten is not considered a precious metal, which makes the cost of this ring super budget-friendly. And if he ever needs a different size, we can get him a new one without too much pocket-ache.

Have you had trouble with vendors or other sales people harassing you for business? How did you handle it?


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Meet Mr. October

Mr. October is B!

We officially met in college, but can count numerous times that we were in the same place at the same time and didn't meet. We knew of one another before we knew one another.

Finally, at college we met and our first "real" memory of one another is the fall day years ago when I knocked on his dorm door asking for his vote for me in Student Government. We talked for hours (much more attention was given to him than my other constituents) and he introduced me to the others in his dorm. I still don't know if he voted at all in that election, but I won and a friendship was born.

I'd like to say he voted for me, we fell in love, and the rest is history. . . . except that's not true. Lots of time and lessons passed before we became a couple.

For the next few years we dated other people and just innocently flirted whenever we were around one another (the picture, taken by Amore, was years before we began dating). I was a member of his sister sorority so we ran into one another quite a bit even after his graduation. I admit I got excited whenever I knew he would be around, but nothing ever materialized.

It wasn't until last fall that things really started happening for us. Our big obstacle: he lived in Atlanta and I was finishing up college in Virginia. That's why he made perfect sense to be my Mr. October: someone I'd always been attracted to who couldn't be more than just a fling because of distance (remember love doesn't like to be given limitations--even 385 miles).

In September, we began messaging one another and then the phone calls began. B is not a phone guy (most guys aren't). Before we started dating his longest phone conversation in months had been 20 minutes. After our phone calls began we consistently hit the four and five hour marks. We never ran out of things to talk about. Sleep was no longer necessary. . . overrated really. I will forever be grateful for those days of our "courtship." We spent hours every night, hundreds of miles apart, getting to know one another over the phone.

By the time October, and our college's homecoming, rolled around we were giddy. I knew this would be more than just a fling and I counted down the hours until his arrival. When we were finally together there was no question that it was a good thing. . . . sparks and all :-)

We did the long distance thing for a few months until B returned to our college to finish his teaching requirements. Finally, in August, he got his first teaching job and loves it! We're in the same town and life is so sweet together!

He makes me laugh. Not just laugh, but big belly laugh and giggle all the time. He challenges me to question my politics, beliefs, and reasons, but always allows me to think for myself. He respects me and takes care of me. He brings joy to my life. He loves me the way I always hoped I would be loved.

So, B has been Mr. October, November, December, etc. and back to being Mr. October again. I don't need a calendar. He's a keeper.