Friday, February 26, 2010

DIY Invitations Part III: Love/Hate Relationship with a Printer


Alright, for all you suprise-spoilers here is our completely printed wedding invitation suite.

Printing these babies at home saved us a lot of moolah but took FOREVER and A YEAR. I kid you not, we spent the better part of two weekends hand feeding paper into our over-worked printer and we're still not quite finished with some of the inner envelopes.
How did we do it? We stalked a few wedding invitation websites and picked out a few layouts/font combinations that we liked and then played around in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher until we came up with a design we both could agree on. We then nitpicked the wording for a few more days, double and triple checked spelling, and then printed out a few dozen samples on regular computer paper.
Tip #1: Play around with your printers settings. Usually there is an advanced tab that is accessible from the print window. We ended up using an HP matte premium paper setting because there was no cardstock options, set our print quality to best, and custom set our printer paper size to fit each component of our invitation suite.
The invitations were DIY BRIDE'S brand from Michaels so some assembly was required. We printed on the white cardstock, wrapped a piece of black ribbon (included) around the invitation and secured with tape under where the cardstock would lay, finally we attached the cardstock with glue dots (included).
Tip #2: Be patient. Little-miss-grabby-hands here pulled a few paper products off the printer before they had a chance to dry and smeared the ink. Thankfully we had a quite a few extras but it was a easy mistake to avoid.
We included lines that asked when our guests will be arriving and where will they be staying on our response cards to ensure we got everyone's OOT bags to them regardless if they were staying at the hotel we have a room block at or not.

Tip #3: Wait your turn. I tried putting stacks and stacks of the card stock in the printer but inevitably the print would misfeed or grab too many and a few pieces would be ruined. To avoid this we hand-fed each piece of cardstock into the printer which took a really long time but proved to be less wasteful.
Time: Approximately 10-12 hours each day for about 4 days. Capitalize on your down time during this project (ie. when things are printing) and start assembling, applying stamps to envelopes, or any other quick project you can do.
Difficulty level: Medium. I consider myself pretty computer savvy but a few times at was at a loss for words as to why things just weren't printing correctly. My only advise is to keep messing around with it and eventually it will work.
-Michael's BRIDE's Invitation Set included invitations, outer envelopes, large response cards (used for details insert), and response envelopes (didn't use): $40 for 40 (purchased with 40% off coupons)= $24
-Michael's BRIDE's all-purpse cards with envelopes: $15 for 40
-Stamps for response envelopes: 1 $0.44 stamp per envelope
-Printer cartridge: We didn't even use a whole cartridge so FREE.
-Test computer paper: Already had lying around so FREE.

Total cost for invitations (made 120): $24 x 3 + $15 x 3 + $0.44 x 120 = $169.80
Total per invitation: $1.42
Grand total per invitation-to-date (invitations, pocketfolds, envelope liners): $2.19

Up next: belly bands, outer envelopes, and mailing them off!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One 'Do Over' coming right up!

After months and months of contimplation I finally decided that I just couldn't make the dress I originally purchased work for me. At this point we were less than 100 days out meaning that I had to act and act fast if I wanted to get a new wedding dress.

I searched online for a week or so hoping to find a used dress that I liked but everything was either out of my price range, not my size, or already purchased (damn those used wedding dress websites that keep dresses posted for eternity!). With no luck on the internet I decided to brave the big bad world of brick and mortar shops. Because I am new to Kansas I hit up my trusty best friend, Google, to locate and read reviews of shops. I found two in the city I lived in and decided to give them a shot.

I walked into the first shop* (without an appointment) and WOAH was it different than any of the previous bridal stores I had been to. Not only did they not care I didn't have an appointment, they showed me the SALE dresses FIRST, let me pull my own dresses (of course they pulled lots of great options too), and basically treated me like a princess from the moment I walked in the door. My attendant really listened to why I felt my first dress didn't flatter me and then the types of dresses I now thought I was looking for. She made it her personal quest to pull every dress in that store that met my criteria.... and then some.

So, what was my new criteria:
-A dress that I could buy off the rack or that could be rush ordered
-A sweatheart neckline to accentuate my smaller top half
-Lace, because it is so beautiful and classic
-A more fitted silhouette
-Not a ton of beading

Due to my previous experiences I did not remotely consider the fact that the store would allow me to try on dresses without an appointment so I was not prepared with a camera to document my escapades.

In the end it came down to a San Patrick gown that probably would not arrive in time or an Essence of Australia gown that I could purchase off the rack. Obviously, I went with the Essence of Australia gown....

I really love this dress and it looks so good on (if I may toot my own horn)! Really though, it fits like a glove, accentuates the small curves I do have, and makes me feel like a bride instead of a little girl trying on her mommy's dress. The two differences between the gown I purchased and the gown above our mine is off-white and instead of a corsetted back it has a hidden zipper with tiny crystal buttons.

Are you a two dress bride? What did you do with your other dress? Keep it, Sell it, Donate it?
*I can not say enough good things about Celebrations of the Heart. If you ever find yourself in central Kansas and in need of a wedding dress make this your first stop!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Second Thoughts

For the past few months I have been struggling with falling out of love with my wedding dress. Don't get me wrong the dress is beautiful and is exactly what I was looking for when I initially started planning. Our wedding is like our style, contemporary traditional. We like traditional designs but with cleaner lines, more graphic patterns, and sometimes with a little pop of pizazz. The dress that I picked is traditional in that it is a strapless ballgown, satin, and has little button details and it is a little contemporary with the dropped waist and ruching.

As time has passed though I have stopped looking at the dress as just "the dress" and started looking at it as "the dress for me". I am pint-size, pocket-size, fun-size however you would like to describe 5" 1' , that is me. The more I tried the dress on the more I found the ballgown overwhelming for my frame. As well as begin miniature I also have miniature tatas that just weren't coming close to filling out the dress regardless of bustiers, cutlet inserts, tissues... I am sure some of these issues could be fixed with alterations but I am at the point where I don't want to have to the force to dress to work for me I want the dress to compliment me naturally.

From this experience I have identified a few things that might have contributed to my dress regret:

-No experienced shoppers. No one I know has gotten married in the last ten years and frankly they have pretty unrealistic expectations about wedding dresses including price. I mean my mom's dress cost $100, my aunt's $40, my cousin's $250 and so on and so forth. These expectations definitely influenced my choice to shop at retail bridal stores and to only consider dresses in the $500 range.

-No shopping around. I went to two different stores of the same chain. End of story. I just didn't know what was out there.

-No time. I purchased my dress about five weeks into my thirteen month engagement. At the time I thought I was doing a good thing by getting as much wedding planning out of the way early because I knew we were going to have a lot of life events occuring in the few months before the wedding. I'll admit it... I was wrong. I really wish I would have let myself marinate longer in the wedding planning process before making such a big purchase.

-Careless. As much as I tried to convinence myself through the whole dress process that it was not that imporant, it was only for one day, and it wasn't worth that much was futile. Because in the end it is that important and worth that much money for one day that you will never get to repeat.

-Pressuring myself. I tried way too hard to make everything including my dress fit into this matchy-matchy box I like to call wedding planning. I have since learned to let go of matchy-matchy and have moved more towards coordinating or complimenting.

So what now?

Have you ever had buyer's remorse? What did you do?

Friday, February 12, 2010

All I want for Valentine's Day is a Card(igan)!

When I first saw this wedding I think I literally drooled all over my keyboard. Not only are they a darling couple with an amazing looking wedding but how BEAUTIFUL is that cardigan? In the words of Rachel Zoe, "I die".

That was it. I was addicted and started seeing beautiful cardigans everywhere.... in stores, in my dreams, and all over wedding blogs. Check out these bride's spectacular finds.

May in Virginia could either be 85, hot, and humid or 60, rainy, and muggy. In order to be prepared (or at least that is what I told myself) I set off in search of the perfect cardi for our wedding. Take a look at some of these cute numbers I found along the way.
(J. Crew, Ruffled spring Celosia cardigan, $98)
(J. Crew, Chiffon forget-me-not cardigan, $128)
(Ruche, fae blossom gray sweater cardigan, $49.99)
(Anthropologie, Demi-Sec Cardigan, $128)
(Anthropologie, Recital Cardigan, $88)
(Ruche, pink sprouting stitches cardigan, $41.99)
(Ruche, espresso bean short cardigan, $35.99)

(Ruche, shimmery stardust pattern cardigan, $42.99)

(Cutiemus, Summersweet Cardigan, $52.00)

I did end up finding a sweater in the perfect shade of green. It was from Target and best of all on clearance for a whopping $7.00. I have a few projects up my sleeve to jazz it up a little but more to come on those later!
Where did you find your wedding day attire inspiration?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego?, Pt II

(drum roll please)

Coconut Bay Beach
Resort and Spa
on the island of St. Lucia
You might ask why this one? And the answer is simple, it best fit our criteria without breaking the bank. Sure we could have afforded to stay at one of the more luxurious hotels but we would have had very little spending to do all the rest of things we interested in doing (ie. excursions). Another big factor in our decision was flights. Like I mentioned before we have a very limited time for this vacation and Coconut Bay is located 5-10min from the airport. The flight into St. Lucia arrived a 2pm meaning we weren't losing a whole day for travel like some of the other islands. But enough with the talk lets get to the good stuff.... the pictures!
I should first mention that this hotel is divided into two "mini resorts". Splash is for families and is located right next to water park (yep, there is a water park on our resort... more to come on that). Harmony is for adults, mainly couples, and is located on the spa side of the resort. We will be staying on the Harmony side of the hotel and because we saved so much money on the rest of the trip we were able to upgrade to a Premium Ocean Front Room.
And since our room is located so close to the spa we will definitely be indulging in a few treatments. Not to mention the prices are FANTASTIC!
I'm sure we will eventually make it to the beach for some lounging. I read some pretty negative reviews about the beach mostly centering on the lack of white sand and abundance of algae (because the resort is on the Atlantic Side of the island). I know these could be HUGE negatives if you weren't aware but we are and are both used to swimming in the Atlantic so we don't think it will be a big deal.
And if the beach doesn't work out we always have the swim-up bar (#1 criteria on the Mr.'s wish list), adults only pool, or ENTIRE water park to enjoy (I'm talking multiple slides, lazy river, splash zones, etc). Plus we have read awesome reviews about the bartenders and can't wait to meet them.
If all that is not enough there are a plethora of excursion available ranging from historic sugar mill tours, zip lining in the jungle, wind-surfing, volcano tours, scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling, general island tours, and the list goes on and on.
After all of that I'm sure we (and by we I mean me) will be starving. There are three different restaurants to get our eat on: the standard resort buffet(Coconut Walk), an Italian a la carte restaurant (Bellagio), and an Asian style a la carte restaurant (Silk).

At this point we are over the wedding and just want to go on our honeymoon! Is that terrible to say? Are you more excited for your wedding, honeymoon, mini-moon, or even your stay-cation?

*All photos are courtesy of the Coconut Bay Resort and Spa website unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego?

Anyone else remember this kick-ass game show? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Well like the gumshoes searching for the one of Carmen Sandiego's crooks Mr. Riley and I spent months searching for the "best" honeymoon spot. I wanted to go to Africa, Mr. Riley did not... scratch. Mr. Riley wanted to go to Europe, I did not.... scratch. We both wanted to go to Australia, the budget did not... scratch. Finally we came up with this set of criteria:

1. A Tropical Local. After living in Kansas for a while we are both ready to soak up some sun rays and vitamin D.

2. All-inclusive. We didn't want to have to worry about carrying lots of money, possibly having to change currency, or keeping track of what we were spending and on what. We did have to make sure that there were plenty of restaurants (and bars) for variety.

3. Excursions. This was mainly for me. I have never been outside of the Continental United States and wanted to really "SEE" wherever we visited. Mr. Riley would be content just setting on the beach the whole time but is indulging my need to explore.

4. Adult-only. Although we LOVE kids, being that it was our honeymoon we were really looking forward to some exclusively adult time.

After hours and hours (and hours and hours) of researching , reading reviews on TripAdvisor, and weighing all the pros and cons we narrowed it down the islands of: Antigua, The British Virgin Islands (BVI), The Grand Cayman, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba. Because of Mr. Riley's schedule with the Army we could only take about 7 days (inclusive of travel) for our honeymoon so flight schedules narrowed our search down even more. We were now looking at The Grand Cayman, St. Lucia, and Aruba.

Check out the amazing resorts we found*:

The Grand Cayman
The Reef Resort
-Room with kitchenette and whirlpool tub
-Two swimming pools
-Live entertainment
-Moderately priced
-One restaurant
-One bar
-Accepts children
-Excursions not as interesting
-45 minutes from the airport
Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
-Two restaurants
-Two lounges
-Swimming pool and whirlpool
-White Beaches
-Close to other attractions
-Higher end of our budget
-Accepts children
-Excursions not as interesting
St. Lucia
-Adults only
-Two restaurants
-Three Bars
-Multiple swimming pools
-Scuba courses included
-Great excursions
-Very top of our budget
Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa
-Three restaurants
-Four bars
-Three swimming pools (including adult only)
-Resort divided into Family and Adult only
-At lower end of budget
-Great excursions
-Children accepted
Occidental Grand Aruba
-Six restaurants
-Swim up bar
-Moderately priced
-Aruba doesn't have a great reputation right now
-Excursions water centric
RIU Palace Aruba
-Five restaurants
-Five bars
-24 hour room service
-Wireless in lobby
-High end of budget
-Excursions water centricba
Where are you planning to go on your honeymoon? Where do you think we ended booking?

*Please note all opinions expressed within are based upon our personal criteria, budget, an desires for a honeymoon and not reflections of the actual services or quality of services provided by the resorts.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Great Tux Debate

We rarely fight over anything wedding related (disagree, yes...fight, no) but recently we have had several fights over one topic... tuxes. I know you're thinking tuxes? What is there to fight about over tuxes? But apparently there is a lot. When we first started planning our wedding I envisioned my groom in something like this:

A simple well fitting suit...but he had other ideas. Here is what he sent me for inspiration:

That's right... my future husband REQUESTED to wear a morning suit. According to the omniscient Wikipedia morning suits, also known as a cutaway suits, consist of:
-A single-breasted jacket with one button that gradually curves away into tails (traditionally grey, buff, or black)
-A waistcoat that can be single or double breasted
-Striped or checked pants worn with suspenders
-A wing collared shirt with ascot or bow tie or turn down collared shirt with collar studs and tie
-Pocket square
-Black Oxford shoes or dress boots

Although I have read many conflicting statements about when it is appropriate to wear morning suits the overall consensus I could find was no later than 6pm. We will be getting married at 4pm, so technically, its still acceptable.

So what are we fighting about? I don't love the look of tails but it is his attire so I conceded on that point. Now we are fighting about color. I like the look of the all black morning suit because it is a little more formal and being that our reception isn't over until 10pm I felt the formality will help bridge the etiquette gap of wearing a morning suit into the evening. Mr. Riley feels it looks a little prom-ish.

(Black Morning Jacket and Pants- Source)

He would rather wear the charcoal grey version of the morning suit because it is more traditional and it is what all the men in his family have worn. I understand the grey is a neutral and would probably "go" with overall look of our wedding but I also feel it is a complete curve ball because everything at our wedding is black, white, or green. In addition I think the patterned ascot and pants will be a little busy with all the damask we have going on.

(Charcoal Grey with Hickory Striped Pants- Source)

Am I being a bridezilla? Is the grey clashing or does it provide some visual contrast?