Monday, November 30, 2009

Elegantly Navigating Family Issues: The Budget

This one is difficult.  The budget, and who is contributing what.
Remember the old tradition that the bride's family pays for almost everything?  Well, if we did that, we would be eloping.  My family has nothing to give, unless you count emotional drama.

Anyhoo, P and I are going to contribute what we can, which amounts to about 3,000 dollars.  MAX.  I will not go into debt for our wedding.  Let's repeat that, just to make sure.  I will not go into debt for our wedding. 
When we decided to have our wedding in Wisconsin to accomodate his family, we talked with them about what they were willing to contribute financially.  They were vague, but they assured us that they would help us out significantly.
Now, every piece of advice I've read or have been given about this says to just ask for a specific amount.  It gets tricky when people say things like "I will pay for the food at the reception, the invitations, etc".  I've tried and tried to side step around this, but future MIL really wants to just say WHAT they are paying for, not how much they are paying.  So, they have generously offered to pay for our reception.  Which I am VERY thankful for.
So what's the problem?  Well, our reception is where we are saving the most money because of my connections to the restaurant.  All of the other stuff is not hugely affected by our small number of attendees or this incredible deal (ceremony site fee, rentals (dance floor, cocktail tables), our attire, flights to Wisconsin, hotel room for several days, bluegrass band, rehearsal dinner, etc.).  When you add it all up, if they only pay for the reception, P and I are actually going to pay a lot more than we have the money for. 
So now I don't know what to do.  P's stepfather told us to just let him know when we needed money for things, but his mother seems pretty set on just paying for the reception.  Truth be told, we won't be having a rehearsal dinner, and we may be crashing on our friend's floors in Madison if we don't get a little more help from them.

So, what's a girl to do?  Any advice would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rehearsal dinner indecision

I am really torn on what to do for our rehearsal dinner.  At first, I really wanted to have a big barbeque at one of the many park shelters on the lake in Madison.  This way, we could invite everyone on our guest list.  Over 80% of our guests will be traveling, and this would be a great way to see them all when they get in.  Here is some of my inspiration:

Lovely, right?  I love the checkered table cloths, soul food spread, and casual vibe.  But then, P spoke up.  I blame the movie Rachel Getting Married.

For those of you who have not seen the movie, one of the best scenes is the rehearsal dinner of Rachel and her future husband.  It is an intimate, close family and friends only affair, and the speeches that everyone gives are so ridiculously moving.  We both absolutely loved that scene, and would love to have an intimate dinner with our close family and friends where everyone could give spontaneous speeches.  (And really, how does that work?  You just encourage them?  But then it's not so spontaneous...)

So now I'm torn.  Big, casual, fun barbeque rehearsal dinner?  Or small, intimate, moving rehearsal dinner?  (I realize, of course, that I am counting on our family and friends to give amazing, touching speeches here.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On anxiety, depression, and the stress of planning a wedding

Recently one of my favorite wedding bloggers wrote an extremely honest post about putting her wedding plans on hold while she addresses her struggle with depression.  Her candidness about an issue many of us struggle with really struck a chord with me.
Right after we got engaged, something really traumatic happened in my life that completely affected me.  (I may blog about it at some point, because it does have a large impact on our wedding.)  I tried to ignore the way I was feeling and just push forward with everything I needed to get done.  Fast forward three weeks and I was in the New Orleans airport sobbing and having trouble breathing through my first full-blown panic attack.
I decided to see someone about my anxiety and put our wedding planning on hold for a bit.  P was so wonderful through it all, and never pressured me to start talking about our wedding.  I spent the summer taking care of myself, enjoying my last few weeks with my friends in Madison, and preparing for our move.  When I started wedding planning again after we were settled in New Orleans, it was because I felt excited and ready.
I guess I'm writing this to say if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, just be open and honest with your partner about it.  If wedding planning is adding to or causing your struggle, don't be afraid to put it on hold for a bit.  Who cares what people will say?  I can bet that if they care about you, they will support you and not give a damn about whether or not you have picked your color palette yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dressing the Ladies...

Figuring out what I want my girls to wear has been one of the most difficult decisions.  I've gone through so many options in my head, it is sort of driving me crazy.
At first I wanted the girls to wear navy dresses, in different styles, and carry pink peonies.  Then I threw out that idea when we changed our color palette a bit.  I really want them to be in different colors that complement the look and feel we are going for.
For me, it just feels weird to me to tell them what to wear.  I would love for them to be able to choose something that suits them.  My ladies have such amazing, unique styles and I want them to shine!

So here's what I'm thinking.  I would love them to be in shades of muted blue (no turquoise or royal) and grey.  I am thinking of sending them links and swatches to these two J Crew colors:

This way, they can choose whatever dress they want in a muted blue or grey.  I'm thinking some soft pink peony bouquets will look lovely with this palette.  If they are struggling to find something and want more direction, they can simply purchase a dress from J. Crew in one of these colors.
I haven't fully decided on this yet, so please let me know what you think.  I could even be persuaded to add a third color to the mix.  But please, don't give me too many options.   You will only make my indecisiveness worse!

Did you waver on bridesmaid dress colors/styles?

Monday, November 9, 2009

First generation...lasting marriage?

Soo, it's no secret that P and I both come from divorced families.  We both know the incredible work that goes into a good marriage, and we are ready to make that commitment.  However, I just realized the other night that I am the only one in my family who is not divorced.  My parents have both divorced multiple times, and my brother is actually in the middle of a divorce right now.
This definitely makes wedding planning a bit difficult at times, and can be a bit discouraging.  I know that I have learned from my family members' mistakes, and I will not repeat them.  It's just difficult to realize that I don't have an example of a good marriage in my family, when I really could use one.

Anyone else out there struggling with this?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My dream dress part III

As we headed to the last bridal salon for our appointment, my MOH said she had "a feeling" this was going to be the one.  You see, out of any new dress I'd seen the dress I was about to try on was the closest thing to my dream dress.  When we arrived, the assistant showed us several lovely dresses, but we let her know that we were really there for one dress.  She did, however, talk me into trying on one of my absolutely-unattainable dream dresses. 

While the dress was fabulous (I now understand why so many brides covet the Scarlet), it was not really me.  I guess I am not a lacy girl.  Now it was time to step into the dress we were there for.  At this point, I was so used to being half naked in front of the bridal boutique ladies, that I wasn't even phased.  (Seriously, I had no idea I would be almost naked in front of a complete stranger the whole time.)  The dress definitely did not disappoint.  Here she is, Amy Michelson's Faith:

(Please ignore the ivy they styled her with...)

I was in love. Especially after the seamstress confirmed that the back could easily be altered to look a bit more like my dream dress. I felt like this was the first dress that felt like me, and was exactly what I wanted to wear for our wedding. The problem? The dress came in at $2700, which was about 4 times my budget

We went back to the hotel and starting googling like mad women. What we found on eBay made us both gasp out loud. My dream dress, unaltered, had sold for a mere $400 less than an hour earlier. I know.

After drowning our sorrows in cheesecake, my MOH convinced me to email the seller.  You know, just in case something went wrong with the sale.  I figured this was a long shot, but at this point, I had nothing to lose.  One week later I received an email from the seller, asking if I was still interested.  Was I still interested?  Heck yes!!!!

And that, my friends, is how I scored my dream dress (well, close enough) for a ridiculous deal.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My dream dress-Part II

My MOH and I planned a perfect dress hunting trip to Chicago, right before I moved to New Orleans.  She was able to take the train from Detroit, and I took the bus from Madison.  We scored a fabulous deal staying at the Westin Hotel right on Michigan Avenue.
I did my research on wedding dresses, and had quite a few places for us to try.  Unfortunately, the first day we didn't even find anything worth taking pictures of!  The vintage stores were a total bust, and I was disheartened.
Day 2 of shopping was what we were both looking forward to because we were going to Vera Wang!!!!  We both have dreamed of Vera Wang for years, and even though I knew I couldn't afford it, I just had to have the experience!

Me in front of Vera Wang.  Very excited.

The boutique was 1/2 Vera Wang, 1/2 other designers and it was beautiful.  While I had a ton of fun trying on the dresses (no pictures allowed, sorry), I didn't fall in love with any of Vera's.  I did however, seriously consider two gowns that were completely out of my price range:
I could write a whole post about how much I love Reem Acra!

I was so close to getting this Elizabeth Fillmore dress.

We left the boutique, high on couture and headed to our last stop of the trip.  I had an appointment to try on a dress that I had torn out of a magazine because of its' resemblance to my dream dress.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My dream dress-Part I

One day when I was happily google-ing away trying to find vintage 1930s wedding dress inspiration, I stumbled upon this:

I. Was. Hooked.  Never in my life have I been so completely obsessed with a dress.  Of course, it was vintage, and therefore unattainable.  I did, however, proceed to email it to countless vintage shops to see if they had anything similar, with no luck.  I continued to search every vintage shop I could, with plans to go to several vintage shops on my upcoming dress hunting trip to Chicago with my MOH.

Too be continued....

Was your dream dress difficult to find?