Monday, August 31, 2009

A Topper that Takes the Cake

J. and I will soon be tasting some cake from our bakery, Le Petit Gateau, and when we do we'll also be making some decisions about what the cake will look like. We agreed early on that J. can choose what's on the inside of the cake, so long as I get to choose what's on the outside. I think that's fair, right?

So one of the things I've been thinking about is how to top our cake! And I've had a really good time figuring this one out!

Um, does anyone else think this dude looks uncannily like J.? We couldn't stop laughing when we saw it! We seriously considered whether we were willing to have these on top of our cake since, but in the end, we were unsure whether anyone else would think it was as funny as we do. We think its hilarious...

This next topper is from Bethany Love and I was pretty sure for a while that this was "the one." But there's just too much eye candy out there to choose too early so I kept thinking about it.

I also checked out all the vintage goodies on ebay and various antique websites, for example, this delicate topper dates from around the 1930's. If we had one of these heirlooms in the family I'd be all over it. We don't have anything quite this old in our family, but while talking to my mom about my oh-so-serious cake topper dilemma, she had a great idea!

When I was little, my parents spent a lot of time buying and selling antiques, and when I was along for the ride, I started collecting antique dolls as a way to entertain myself. Over the years, my mom and I amassed quite a collection, which we've since edited down, but I still have my favorite dolls. I get made fun of a LOT for this. Anyhow, one year when I was maybe nine, she put these little guys in my Easter basket.

Are they not the cutest thing ever? They are carnival dolls, a bride and groom from the 1930's made in the Kewpie style. They are extraordinarily fragile, made of thin celluloid and covered in tissue and fabric- materials that were delicate 80 years ago, and are wispy now. I was so excited when my mom suggested I use them that my heart skipped a beat! I'm going to have to figure out a way to get them on a stand of some sort so that they don't get damaged and don't tip over. And since celluloid will explode if too close to heat, I'm also going to have to remember to tell the baker, coordinator, and reception location about that small detail. But I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!

How would you top a cake?

Desert Rose

My Grandma Doris recently gifted me the most wonderful thing- a set of her Franciscan Desert Rose china. I love it because she loved it. And every single piece has been dearly cared for since her own mother gave it to her as a (very) belated wedding gift in 1954- the year my father was born. She never broke a single piece!

After she gave me the set, I immediately begin looking into its history, and it turns out that it is the best-selling pattern in the history of American dinnerware. It made its debut in 1941, and later First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy chose it for use in the White House. Its no longer manufactured, so I've started expanding my collection at antique shops and flea markets. And its so much fun!

So in honor of my grandma's gift, here's a pink-inspired palette that invokes vintage flair, florals, and a little bit of Jackie O!

Sources: bouquet, Desert Rose china set, garland, cookies, flower girl headband, shoes, pomander, aisle decor, gown, cake stands, invitation
Are you inspired by an heirloom?

Nontraditional Registries

A newlywed friend of mine was just saying the other day that she wished she could have registered for things that would have helped them set up their new home. Like many couples, she and her Mr. didn't need a lot of home goodies, but they did need bags of mulch for their garden, paint for their bedroom, and some furniture. And while many places will let you register for home improvement items, or furniture, its rare that one store has everything one might actually want to register for. It got me thinking- how cool would it be to just be able to randomly register for things from different places like that? Turns out you can!

image source allows you to set up "wish lists." Perfect for the kind of person who can never remember what they want for their birthday when asked... you just make the list and pass it along!– Kind of like the previous website, but a bit more formal looking, this site lets you register for any store (or just cash). Very of-the-moment! Similar to the others, but touting the ability to access money before your event and making it possible to ask for contributions towards more expensive gifts (I'd use this feature to register for a dutch warmblood, but people with their priorities in better order might ask for furniture). their whole M.O. is to help you "tastefully ask for cash." I don't know if I buy it, but its probably a "know your audience" kind of thing.

Other non-traditional registries that caught my eye during the research of this posting include:.

Honeyfund- I'm a personal fan of this website because its one of the only honeymoon sites that doesn't take a commission on your gifts (some take upwards of 7%)! – Charitable giving with over 1 million non-profits to choose from, and its tax deductible for your guests!

I Do Foundation – If you're going to go the traditional route, you still might want to think about this option. Here, you register through certain stores (like Crate and Barrel, Target, Home Depot, Macy’s and Pottery Barn), and up to 10% of your guests' purchases go to your selected charity. A win-win for sure.

Home Depot– I really wanted to register for hardwood flooring at Home Depot. It's too bad Lowes has discontinued their registry option.

Vino Classics- That's right, you can register for WINE. I know what you're thinking and I agree :)

Gifts of Stock – I think this is cool and unique, especially because the company will provide you with a broker to set up your wish portfolio, and then guests buy investments.

What do you think? Would you try these?

To Save-The-Date or Not To Save-The-Date?

According to Wikipedia: A save the date notice is an item stating the date of a wedding or other formal event. It typically states the date when a couple plans to marry, so that recipients will know to keep that date free. Save the dates usually take the form of a card, but can also be a refrigerator magnet or similar item. They are generally sent out at least six months before the wedding date, and are usually followed by a formal wedding invitation.

Is it just me, or do save-the-date's seem to be a relatively new phenomenon? They aren't required or even necessary. Though I can't say I didn't have fun making ours. And I adore the magnet save-the-dates, because I can keep them on my fridge forever! How cute are these?!

But before you go jumping on this super-enticing bandwagon, it is worth thinking about whether you really want to send save-the-dates. For example, I know someone who decided not to send them, because due to financial variables, she was unsure of who she would be able to invite to the wedding. So I've come up with this not at all scientific "Top 10" list of things to ask yourself when deciding whether to ask people to save-the-date! And for even more fun, I made the list purple, because I can.

Top 10 Things To Consider When Deciding Whether To Send Save-The-Dates

1. Is your wedding near a holiday or important event?
2. Is your wedding during a popular time of year (i.e., the first Saturday in June)?.
3. Will people have to travel to attend your wedding?.
4. Is your wedding a destination wedding?.
5. Is your guest list likely to change due to relationship, financial, or other factors?.
6. Are you on a super-tight budget? Would the expense of stationary or extra postage be burdensome?.

7. Do you enjoy wedding-related details or do you find them overwhelming?.

8. Could you get away with sending save-the-dates to just a portion of your guest list (perhaps just the folks who have to travel)?.

9. Will you have time to put together a website with information for curious guests, that you can include on your save-the-date?.

10. Do you want to? Its your wedding after all!!.

What do you think? Will you send save-the-dates for your wedding?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

For the Boudoir

My good friend C. used to work for Victoria's Secret and we used to have a lot of fun trying things on there and seeing what looked good. And in the process, I became addicted to the Body By Victoria line for basics. But I've found some of their pieces to be a little too in-your-face, over-the-top, overt. So these days, I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for something a little different. And getting married gives you a really good excuse to go looking.

A new favorite of mine, discovered at Bloomingdales last month, is Tra La La Lingerie. It has only been recently been introduced, but this stuff is beyond cute. These vintage pin-up girl pieces have boudoir photo-shoot written all over them.

I've also been really impressed by the quality of authentic antique pieces you can find online. Stores like Dollhouse Bettie sell some seriously gorgeous goods and much of it is new-old stock, with the original tags still intact!

But you don't have to shell out mega cash to get a vintage inspired look. I know H&M is carrying a slew of vintage-inspired goodies this season, in great colors, for as close to free as they could probably get. The below image (which is the best I could find) does not even do justice to the mad cuteness happening there.

And one of my all time favorite places to look for intimates is actually through my good friend M., one of my bridesmaids who I've known since I was 7 years old, who just so happens to be the amazing designer also known as the almightyquinn on etsy! M.'s formidable fashion experience includes her work for fashion giants Lane Bryant and Abercrombie, and she even helped launch the Gilly Hicks line of intimates. She has also been making and selling clothing for years, so its no surprise that she's now turned her talents to undies. M.'s work is handmade in her studio from new, recycled and cherry-picked vintage materials. Check out some of her work!

Have you ever seen anything as creative or cute as these suspender panties, made from a vintage slip?

How about these low-rise bloomers for your "something blue"?

Perhaps a super-soft pair of knickers for your bridesmaids' gifts?

M's work is cute, comfy, and oh-so-tasteful! It is also ridiculously reasonably priced considering that it is handmade. You can get a pair of her knickers on etsy starting at $14- that is less than a pair of hanky pankies! She'll even do custom! Speaking of custom, guess who is making my garter? *grin*

Do you love looking at lingerie as much as I do?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

With this Ring!

Today J. and I hit a major milestone. We put our deposit down on our wedding rings! But finding and deciding on the right ones was not as easy as it sounds. The good news is that there is a lot of selection out there in every price point. The bad news is that there is a lot of selection out there in every price point. Aayayay too many choices!

You probably feel really sorry for us, huh?

We started by looking at the local mall just to get a sense of the market and what is out there. We found some nice looking contenders for me at reasonable prices. For example, a simple white gold band its not at all costly, but its simplicity is quite pretty- and I could wear it riding horses.

We tried some other more sparkly bands for me, but none were quire right, as pretty as they were. So instead of spinning too many wheels on my ring, we moved on to John's ring. At first, J. found that he was drawn to hammered styles, about 6mm thick.

After doing some research, we found a great many affordable hammered rings on etsy for very reasonable prices. We almost settled on one of them. But not being able to try things in advance made us both a little nervous- what if the fit was off? What if it felt uncomfortable to wear? What if that .00001% chance applied to us and our etsy seller turned out to be a riper-offer? Irrational fear, I know, but still.

So we went back to the jeweler who made the engagement ring and talked to our friend Kiki, our salesperson. After telling her our likes and dislikes (and our budget), we looked at some options and came up with a perfect plan.

J. chose a matte white gold ring because although the hammered styles were gorgeous, this felt more classic, and not likely to go out of style. Plus, J. felt it was comfortable, which was key.

And after all my debate, I decided on a ring to match my engagement ring. It has some pretty filigree work in the profile and pave diamonds with milgrain trim on the band. Since my engagement ring has a pear center stone, we decided on a wrap-around band, so that my engagement ring will sit flush with my wedding band. At first, I wasn't sure about not being able to wear it when riding horses, etc., but J. and I talked about it and I realized, it doesn't make me any less married if I forgo wearing it while riding.

This ring from Tacori, is a lot like the one I'll have, with some small variations (my bling will only cover half the band, and will curve to "hug" my center stone).

And this is what I'll be wearing it with!
Photo by Jessica Morrisy

Both wedding bands will be engraved with a personal sentiment too. I can't wait to see how they turn out! Now I just need to find the perfect ring pillow, obviously!

Do you ever change your mind a few times before big purchases?

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Way To Say Thanks

I know I know, nothing is less necessary than wedding favors. And often in lieu of favors, couples will make a donation to charity instead. I love this idea, and we're going to make a charitable donation, probably to a charity my brother helped start with his college pals called Resolve Uganda (formerly Uganda CAN), an organization whose aim is to achieve peace in war torn Uganda , to promote a better standard of living and human dignity for those who live there.

But I'm a crafty gal and I couldn't not do favors. So I'm making favors for each of our guests to take home. A small way for J. and I to say "thank you" to all those who've gone to such great lengths to join us!

I like to cook, and J. likes to eat what I cook, so the idea of incorporating a food theme made sense to us. And what food says "holidays" better than a Christmas cookie? The idea of gifting cookie cutters was born, and off I went to do the usual research. While copper cookie cutters are expensive and lovely, I found you can get equally cute tin cookie cutters for a fraction of the cost. So order I did! In four styles: a gingerbread man, a tree, a mitten, and a snowflake.

By ordering four styles, hopefully everyone will get to take home one they like- and couples won't have to take home an identical favor. I was pleased with the look of them and J. was pleased I'd stayed on-budget! Score!


Still, something was missing. I could not just smack these on the tables and expect people to understand that they were favors. So when I found these adorable miniature blown glass ornaments on sale at Pottery Barn (originally intended as vase filler) I snapped up as many as I could!

image source

These ornaments will be tied to the cookie cutters before I chuck them into my cheap bags that don't look cheap, with some green tissue, and a gold foil circle with our monogram embossed on the front (oh yeah, I have a great embosser, and I'll tell you all about it one of these days).

Oh but I still did not stop there. How can you give out cookie cutters and not also give out a recipe for cookies? Clearly I needed to find a good way to make recipe cards on the cheap. VistaPrint postcards to the rescue! I made these using a recipe I found on the food network, leaving the back of the postcard (the part where the message and address normally go) entirely blank. J. and I will hand write a short "thank you" on the back of each before we bag these with the cookie cutters.

Cookie card
Our recipe card, made on VistaPrint...(please excuse my sad excuse for a redaction- I'm still learning).

I hope the guests like these. I know J. and I do!

Are you giving out favors for your wedding?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Giving Tree

Have you ever read "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein? Such a simple story of friendship and connection, it remains one of my all-time favorites. As 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding has quite cleverly noted, it would make a great gift for those who help with your wedding. So when I saw these save-the-dates I literally almost fell off my chair.

Cute, right?! And you can make these for FREE! Check out the instructions at Merriment Design here!

This got me thinking. Could you make this a wedding theme?? I think you could!

Tree favors

Wedding programs from seeded paper

Wouldn't this family tree from Red Envelope be a great gift... or guest book?

You could even decorate the cake with the Magical Marzipan Forest Cake Kit from Wendy Kromer!

A custom tree embosser from Wilshire Graphic Press would be a great touch on envelopes.

And you didn't really think I was going to miss the chance to feature a botanically inspired gown did you? This one is by Melissa Sweet, and sweet it is!

Would you use a theme like this for your wedding?

Outfitting the Men

When J. and I first started planning our wedding, we envisioned a not-too-formal affair, maybe a destination wedding, something that would allow us to avoid renting tuxedos. Not that we dislike tuxes, we do like them! But ill-fitted tuxedos are bad news bears, and sadly, all too prevalent in our worlds.

Soon it became apparent, however, that our informal, backyard vision was not going to happen. Rather, we settled on a Holiday wedding in December. Our vision of an intimate chapel turned out not available to us, so we went with a stunning larger church who could accommodate our group. And the colors we chose, moss green and gold, were more gatsby than casual.

We reconsidered the tuxes. After all, both my FSIL and my good friend H. had found some seriously good looking tuxes for their weddings. The photos were lovely, and I'd never even thought about the fact that the tuxes had been rented- this was a good sign!

I got online and began fiddling with the Men's Warehouse website. Did you know MW has a free tool where you can select up to six types of fabric swatches (for the vests) and they will send them to you in the mail? Sounds good right? Except when you get them in the mail, they are not fabric at all- they send you a piece of paper with the computer images printed on the paper. I was not impressed.

But we didn't want to rule out MW yet, since they seem to be located everywhere, and our bridal party is basically also located everywhere. To be responsible, J. and I went and visited our local MW. Although we were surrounded by cheesy marketing, and although 90% of their tuxes were not exactly our taste, we did end up finding a nice looking tux that J. looked great in. And we were treated well by the employee who helped us. She was extremely patient and good-natured and I appreciated that she let me pour over all of the fabrics and samples repeatedly, without pressuring us for a choice!

While MW did not have a huge selection of vests to choose from, we got really lucky because they make a vest in a color called Fern, which looks very olive here but was more moss in real life. It was a solid choice, and the fabric was of surprisingly good quality (and here I'd been expecting them to feel like umbrella fabric)!

J. will be wearing the same pattern vest in ivory, and I think he's going to look great! Of course, the proof will be in the pudding and we won't know for sure until we get them, but I think the moral of the story is that even brides like me who want to avoid stereotypical wedding vendors, sometimes have to cave. And sometimes its worth it!

And PS- MW gives the groom his tux for free if five groomsmen rent there. Pretty good incentive if you ask me.

Were you surprised by any of your wedding decisions?

"Surviving" the Big Day

I can't resist posting about this little gem that seems to have made its way around the blogs a million times, but never stops being cute. The bridesmaid's survival kit. What a great way to gift your girls some essentials to get them through a lot of primping, then a lot of smiling, followed by a lot of revelry! I feel like these tap into that little girl part of us that still likes goodie bags- don't act like you don't know- its the same part of us that sends us off to the makeup counters for bonus time, whether we need something or not! What a fun, simple pleasure!

I really wanted to do this for my ladies, but I have ten bridesmaids and I wanted to get them more than one gift. And while there are many vendors out there with super-cute ideas, all of the options I found were just a little too pricey. Fortunately, 100 Layer Cake posted this great tutorial (complete with freebie template!) for how to make your own survival kits at home. How fun are these?

Obviously I'm not going to give out the deets for what mine look like or what's in them (I don't want to spill the beans if one of them happens to read this post) but suffice it to say, I'm having a good time with this one. *grin*

Do you think this would be a good gift for someone in your bridal party?

Cheap Gift Bags That Don't Look Cheap

Yeah you read that correctly. I've been searching and searching for affordable gift bags that don't look cheap, for a project I'll share later. So I was thrilled when I found these great bags at Dunwoody Booth. For $56, you can get 100 little white bags, perfect for favors, bridal party gifts, thank you's-- and they look universal enough that you can re-use extras with colored tissue paper after the wedding.

If you sign up for their free "preferred program" you can save 5% off your purchase too. Not to mention a quick google search will find you various coupon codes you can use.

Best of all, they are offering a gift with $100 purchase right now, 200 of these vintage botanical stickers. It is my new goal in life to figure out how to use these... they don't go with my wedding but I've got so many ideas for how to use them in my head. Like, on extra white bags, for bridal shower gifts perhaps? On care packages for my grandma? Recipe cards maybe? Hmmm...

Have you scored any good wedding deals lately?

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Most women like shoes. Indeed, most of us love shoes. Iconic beauties like Carrie Bradshaw's "Something Blue" Manolo's have haunted my dreams ever since I saw the Sex and the City movie. And oh what pleasant dreams they were!

But not everyone can afford to, or wishes to, shell out the $945 for a shoe that isn't quite practical. I know people who believe that if you're going to spend that much on shoes, they'd better be able to make you dinner.

But don't lose heart ladies! There are workarounds! Dyeable shoes are making a comeback, and these are not your 1980's matchy-matchies. Lela Rose recently designed a line of very reasonable, dyeable shoes for Payless and from what I hear, they're actually pretty comfy. And if you want to spend more than $25 but less than $945, My Glass Slipper has a great selection of dyeables from Kate Spade, Badgley Mischka, Cole Haan, and more, for price points in the $200-300 range.

At $25 from Payless these would look great in blue!

If I thought I could actually walk in these Badgley Mischka's, I'd have bought them already! ($215)

So let's say you love the idea of a wedding-shoe splurge but you want to make sure your shoes are re-wearable. One thing you might want to consider is adding shoe clips to your wedding attire. And I'm not talking about the clip on bows we all used to throw on our mary-janes when we were kids. Oh no, today you can find the most lovely shoe clips, vintage and new, studded with rhinestones, feathers, fabrics and more. I'll save my own shoes for another posting, but suffice it to say, a great pair of vintage shoes, and a great pair of art deco shoe clips can be restored by the experts more easily than you think, and for less than you'd expect!

If you happen to have a pair of clip-on earrings that you love, I bet you could incorporate them the same way. My grandmother used to wear clip-ons because she thought ear-piercing was "barbaric." I never quite understood why it was ok to look like you had barbarically pierced your ears, so long as you didn't actually do so (but I digress). A great pair of costume jewelery earrings might be just the right thing for a cute pair of shoes!

What kind of shoes will you wear for your wedding?