Friday, July 27, 2007

I have to tell people what to wear?

Since I have purchased my dress, then next thing that people immediately ask is, "what are the bridesmaids wearing?"

The idea of telling people what to wear makes me uncomfortable, especially if it involves telling grown women to spend $100+ on cheap polyester dresses they will never wear again. However, I do like the idea of a cohesive look to the wedding, and perhaps having the bridesmaids in dresses from the same place in the same color would work well.

That brings me to J. Crew. I have been a fan of their wedding collection since it came out a couple of years ago. Simple, classic, awesome dresses that are easily worn again. Their Sophia dress is great as a wedding gown, and would have been my dress had it been slightly larger in the bust. Plus, it is flattering to most figures.

I did purchase the short Sophia dress in silk chiffon when I found it in my size on the clearance rack, and it is fabulous.

Ann Taylor also has some great dresses, such as the Christine dress below, although in general I find them to be a bit less stylish than the J Crew dresses.

Never having been a bridesmaid, I have no idea what is acceptable as far as directing what attendants should wear. Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

goin' to the chapel

and we're gonna get maaarried.

In deciding where to hold the ceremony, we knew we wanted to get married in a church. We are both people of the Christian faith, and attend church where we live in Michigan. Our current church, which we love, was not an option, as the wedding is in Cleveland Since both of us grew up attending church, it was more a matter of whose church than scouting out beautiful churches in the area.

My mom is finishing up her last year in seminary, and will be ordained in June 2008. In planning our wedding, we talked with my mom about what she would want in regards to officiating. She said that she would prefer to just be the mother of the bride, and would like to be involved in the service, but not the one presiding over it. She is, however, excited about helping out with the design of the service, since we are looking for a real worship service, and worship planning is one of her greatest strengths.

Calvin's family switched churches when he was in college for a variety of reasons, so the church he grew up in was not really an option. That basically left us with two choices- the church I grew up in (and of which I am still a member), or the church his family now attends, which we have attended occasionally.

Conveniently, both churches are beautiful.

St. Peter's Episcopal

Church of the Saviour United Methodist

We ended up going with Church of the Saviour. Growing up, if I wasn't at school or home, I was at church. All the time. The organist will be the same person that accompanied the choir in which I sang in high school, and I remember thinking at various times how long that walk down the aisle would be when I get married. The minister is absolutely awesome, and is also one of my mom's mentors in her ordination process.

(Besides, I used to play hide and go seek in the dark in the church. Best activity EVER.)

Additionally, the family friends with whom I grew up (and consider to be my cousins, as they are more family than any extended family of mine) attend the church, and it is where I reconnect with people when I am in town. Like this week- I went to church on Sunday, saw a friend of mine, which led to getting together with people on Monday, which then led to lunches Tuesday and today.

I've always wondered how people decide on a ceremony site if they are not getting married in a house of worship familiar to the family. If you are getting married, how did you decide where to hold your ceremony?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Location, Location, Location

When we started our venue search, we knew what we wanted- cool, hip, urban and modern. An awesome loft space with brick walls, or something equally different. Someplace with character. Someplace we didn't go to for prom. My high school proms were always held at the Crawford Auto Museum, but his were all over town. Finally, they had to know what creme brulee is, and be capable of making it on a large scale, as I am not really a cake person, and creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts. Plus, Amelie mentions that cracking creme brulee is one of her favorite pleasures, and it is one of our favorite movies.

Cue the catch: we are getting married in Cleveland.

This left really one space that would work for us with these requirements.
Vivo's V lounge. We had already talked about it as a reception site prior to us being officially engaged.

Now, it is a very cool space, and had a maximum capacity of 100 people for a sit down dinner, or 200 for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres . Which was perfect- our initial guest list had about 125, and we really wanted a cocktail reception.

As cool as Vivo seemed to us, my mom's reaction was more along the lines of, "You want to have your wedding reception in a nightclub?!?" This did not go over too well. It seemed that my parents were looking for something more where did that lead us?

To the Heights Rockefeller Center, with a capacity of 150. Unfortunately, (and fortunately) my parents had visions of a larger reception, and we were on the quest for a new site.

What place had character, was not an impersonal hotel ballroom, and was located between Cleveland Heights and downtown?

I scanned the internet for answers to that question, and Calvin and I reviewed our options. Data was posted into an ever increasing excel file. I looked at the websites of dozens of venues. Calvin probably called close to a dozen. (That is how we divide up the tasks- I research on the internet, and he calls or emails). We discovered in this process that there is at least one major event place in downtown Cleveland that did not know what creme brulee is.

We narrowed it down to three choices: Windows on the River, Sammy's at Myers University Club, and the English Oak Room. We drove into town from Michigan, and scheduled appointments with people at each location.

Calvin calls to confirm our appointments as we drive into town on Friday, and learns that not only does Windows have no recollection of our appointment, they also don't do showings of the space on Saturdays. We were a bit bummed, because the space seemed really cool. But that also made our decision easy- if they were unable to keep an appointment for us when they were trying to sell us the space, what would they be like once we signed a contract? They were crossed off the list.

Myers University Club became the first venue that we looked at formally. We were met with the Sammy's representative, and toured the facilities. They were nice, and the ballroom had lots of details. Lots and lots of pink/mauve/salmon details.

Now, while this would be fine for lots of people getting married (and brides especially!), pink is not my color. I don't do froufrou. (Well, I like froufrou, but that's not what I mean). I'm not a girly girl, and Calvin spends more time getting ready in the morning than I do.

Plus, the Sammy's representative with whom we would be working did not understand us.

Sammy's Representative: "And this is where we typically place the wedding cake."
Calvin: "We are not going to be doing cake- we would like creme brulee instead."
SR: "Oh, but you want a cake."
Meg: "I'm not really much of a cake person. Creme brulee is my favorite dessert."
SR: "But you want to have a cake, for the pictures."
Meg: "No, we don't. We want to crack the creme brulee instead."
SR: "But you want cake. Your grandmother and aunts will be expecting it." (appeals to my mother)
My mom, Mrs. Murry: (sternly) "No, they are not going to have a cake."

So they were crossed off the list.

That left us with the English Oak Room. There was a scheduling mix up, and we ended up being let in to the place by a security guard. The room itself is fine, and it has a lot of character.

Unfortunately, it is located in what is essentially a shopping mall. Cocktail hour would take place in a roped off area of the mall. Not so awesome.

We were back to square one with location, forcing us to broaden our horizons, and reconsider previously rejected locations.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The search begins...

Shopping for a wedding dress appears to be one of the first things that women do once engaged.

Or, well, most women, as I waited 3.5 months before trying on my first dress.

When I first started looking at dresses, I knew exactly what I didn't want.

Dress by Maggie Sotterro

No poof. No train.

No beading. No embroidery.

No sparkles. No sequins.

No polyester of any variety. And not strapless.

While I think that those characteristics of a dress are lovely on many women, none of those really suit my personal style, which is a lot more tailored, vintage and not really "girly" at all.

So where did I first go to try on dresses? Filene's Basement "Running of the Brides." (Now, according to their website, the racks are stripped clean of all dresses within 60 seconds. Not sure if it is true in other locations, but in Cleveland, that wasn't the case. Regional differences, perhaps? Although I do think that with the promotion on the website, people who have never been before - which is most people- are told that they have to grab as many dresses as possible because if they don't, the racks will be totally cleared and they won't get any dresses to try on. So people grab as many dresses as possible. And then the racks are cleared in a self-fulfilling prophecy. In game theory, it's a basic collective action problem.) Anyways, I brought my mom along for the fun of it, and it really was a blast.

The line behind us, taken shortly before 8am. We got there around 6:30am. It was freezing cold outside. News crews were around, and I did end up getting interviewed for the news, although the interviewer seemed disappointed that I (in my complete and total geekiness) wanted to talk about ways to overcome the aforementioned collective action problem instead of screaming and yelling about what sort of dress I wanted. And I am totally serious about that- in my 15 seconds of local news glory, I really did talk about solving for the equilibrium of the game.

My mom and I teamed up with the bride in front of us who had several friends with her. Conveniently, we were (roughly) the same size, but had different ideas of what we wanted. So it worked out.

And my mom did find one dress that I did really like, that began to change my mind about my dislikes. It had a train!

Dress by Romona Keveza

Ultimately, though, the dress was too small to even be altered in a good way. Turns out my wedding dress size is quite a bit larger than my normal dress size. Bummer. But that dress did show me that there are very lovely dresses out there that are not princess-y at all, with high quality fabric.

After spending 3 hours at Filene's Basement, my mom and I figured out that I wouldn't be getting my dress there. But we were both still up for trying on additional dresses! So we went to two other places that day- Catan's and Julianne's. We went to Julianne's first, as it was more of a consignment/alterations shop than a mainstream bridal salon. It was a very cute place, but not a whole lot was in my size that looked good (actually, nothing). We then went to Catan's, which is like the wedding industrial complex on crack. Seriously. They advertise that they are the largest bridal boutique in the country.

At Catan's, the brisk saleswoman asked what type of gown I was hoping to wear. I mentioned Romona Keveza and other similar designers (hey! I'd just come from Filene's where I tried on those dresses in their $799 or less goodness!) , and were brought to their "couture" room. Tried on some dresses, and the saleswoman remained more or less abandoned us.

The saleswoman returned, and perhaps in trying her best (failed) attempt to be polite, asked me very insincerely where I was from, and where the wedding and reception were going to be held. My mother and I told her, and her entire demeanor did a complete 180. She became super sugary sweet, bringing in the seamstress when I was asking about alterations, asking for my information (which I did not give to them), the works.

I would never give business to people who treat you like crap until they think that you have deep pockets.

Anyways, that is the beginning of the search for my dress, back in April. I didn't again go shopping for a dress until July...

Monday, July 9, 2007


One of the things about wedding planning is this discussion of "colors."

Shortly after we were engaged, curious friends and family began asking us about our colors.

What do you mean we are supposed to have colors? What kind of a lame idea is that? Why do we need to have a theme to the wedding? Shouldn't getting married be enough?

In reality, though, it seems that deciding on colors would be useful to do. It would make the decision making process easier because there would be fewer choices that would coordinate. Only thing is, this means that we would have to actually make a decision about colors. And there are an infinite number of colors and combinations.

Our first thought was navy blue. The chairs in the ballroom are navy, and it would coordinate, as we will not be wasting money on chair diapers or expensive chivari chairs. But what colors would go with navy? Whites and creams. Not a fan of pink, nor the all blue look. Mixing in red would be a bit too patriotic. Yellow and its variants, would make the wedding the colors of my grad school, which is problematic, as I (and my family) supports my grad school's arch enemy.

So we tossed around the idea of green.

Image from the knot.
But it didn't seem like it would fit too well with the ballroom. And how does it represent us/jazz/vintage/historical/hip/modern/classic all at the same time? (Unfortunately, we have demands for these colors).

I made an "inspiration" board, like the ladies over at Weddingbee.
Calvin and I looked at it, and looked at it, and just didn't like the vibe the virtual collage was giving off.

On a whim (and with the help of the paint can tool), I made a couple of quick changes.

And it all seems to just flow so much better.

So it looks like we have colors- burgundy and champagne. Which is fabulous, given how much wine we seem to drink.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Chair Diaper

Courtesy of Beyond Elegance.

Such a steal can be yours for only $2.50, plus roughly $1 for shipping and handling. For 200 chairs, it's a bargain at $700. You know your reception will look hideous without diapers on every chair.

a brief introduction

We're getting married.

In this day and age, wedding may conjure up images of fluffy tulle, roses and organ music. Men in tuxedos, a woman dressed in white, and lots of pomp and circumstance. Or it may be a relaxed setting on a beach, with people barefoot and a woman dressed in white.

We knew what we wanted and didn't want. We wanted 100 people. We wanted cool, funky, modern, urban. We wanted cocktail reception. No cake. No dj, but itunes playlist of Frank, Dean, the Duke and the Count. No hotel ballroom. No party center. Creme brulee instead of cake. We wanted someplace between our hometowns on the east and west sides of Cleveland, preferably in the Heights area, University Circle, downtown, Ohio City or Tremont. A reception inside, because Cleveland weather is way too unpredictable. A ceremony at my family's home church. Things we must have are a service with communion, good food, good music and an open bar.

We then talked with our parents.

Contrary to the myth propagated in wedding porn, this is not my special day, or even, our special day. This is a day where two families are joined together. And as everyone should know, being part of a family (or two!) is about compromise. Additionally, when we began to look at reception facilities, there was a lack of decidedly hip and funky industrial lofts in Cleveland. Central European Ethnic halls and party centers are more the norm.

So. There will be a cocktail hour which we will attend. There will be a sit-down dinner and an open bar. There will be 150-200 guests. There will be a live swing music. This will take place in a hotel ballroom in downtown Cleveland. The will be creme brullee instead of cake. The wedding will be at my family's home church. We will have the things that are most important to us- good music, food, drinks and ceremony- but the rest have been upgraded considerably from what we were originally imagining.

Have we succumbed to the pressures of the WIC?