Monday, October 29, 2007

Thousand Dollar Dress...

I recently stumbled across this site, which has a really different take on wedding dresses. The creator's mother purchased a wedding dress for her that cost $1,000. According to Sonya Neumann, the creator of the site and project,

"I went shopping for a dress with my mother, and in the end, she purchased a thousand dollar dress just for me; just for one day. The thing is, I realize now that it wasn't about the price which I was extremely uncomfortable with; it was about the dress. The beauty, the flow, the sparkles that awoke amidst the light. It was about the vision, my mother's vision, and her maternal desire to create that 'dream day' for her daughter. This was her gift; even if it was in a barn strung with Christmas lights."

Because she hated to see the dress just sit unused in a garment bag, Sonya has embarked on a project to photograph 1,000 individuals wearing her dress. Here are some of her pictures:

What are your thoughts about this project? What do you plan to do (or what did you do) with your dress after your wedding?

Friday, October 26, 2007

This takes the cake

Now, I'm not really one for cake, but I just had to share this wedding cake that I came across:

From indiebride mslish

Made by the San Francisco based inticing creations, it is designed to look like a tree stump. How awesome is that?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

linens (and things)

Earlier, I discussed the overall vision/feel we have for the reception, and three things we are looking for: linens, flowers and lighting. Today, I bring you one element- linens.

Here is our inspiration for the tables.

From the Knot.

From New York Magazine.
I know, it's chocolate brown, but it looks like it could be burgundy.

From Grace Ormonde Style.

I have no idea where I got this picture.

I have no idea where this came from.

We are planning on splurging (a bit) on burgundy linens. White, chair length linens are included in the package, and I (we) really like the look of floor length linens. One place I've looked at is BBJ. I contacted them for their pricelist, and floor length tablecloths of the basic polyester variety are $13 for 120" rounds (for the 60" round tables), including shipping and handling. While more expensive linens can be nicer looking, the reason for renting linens is for color, and there is a perfectly lovely shade of burgundy available in the lowest price. For $260, colored tablecloths will make a bigger impact than 2 tall centerpieces will.

Locally, I have found Lasting Impressions Event Rentals, which has the same tablecloths for $16. They also do lighting, and I am awaiting an email from them with their lighting prices and packages. A little bit more money, but the advantage is that someone else would deal with setup and delivery. Our reception venue also has them available for $18, which has the added convenience that we would not have to coordinate with another vendor.

Or we could go through whichever florist we choose, which would be at $25/table.

Who else is renting linens? Do you have any tips or suggestions? Would you recommend saving money by doing it online, or is it worth it to pay more to have someone else take care of it all?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Attire for him

While we still haven't figured out out exactly what Calvin and the groomsmen will wear, Calvin knows that he will be looking ridiculously handsome in a tux. A classic tux, along the lines of this:

Picture found here.

Or, if you are thinking more along the lines of how it looks in a wedding, something like this:

No hint of prom in this picture.

Check out the pocket square!
Both pictures are by Jessica Claire, from MrsHoya's knot bio.

I don't know about you, but I love the look of a classic tux- and I'm really feeling the pocket square in place of a traditional boutonniere. A little internet digging came up with several good possibilities.

Custom pocket square from Beau Ties Ltd. at a pricey $28.

Silk pocket squares available in a whole rainbow of colors at a much easier to stomach $6.25.

Given that pocket squares really are just a square of fabric finished at the edges, it would be really easy to do is to make pocket squares myself.

Picture above and good directions are available here.

And, of course, if you are concerned about the pocket square remaining nicely folded in the pocket, you can always go this route:

Silk hanky card for all of the look with none of the hassle. ;-)

Are you doing anything to dress up the men's attire? Boutonnieres? Pocket squares? Please share what your plans are. :-)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Product Review: Mascara

There are two things that I look for in a mascara.

1- It must be waterproof, because I cry. I don't always cry, but it can be guaranteed that if I am not wearing waterproof mascara I will cry. And if I am around my mother, and she starts crying (which happens fairly regularly- she is wonderfully emotional), 90% of the time I start crying too.

2- I can't have raccoon eyes at the end of the day. I already have dark circles under my eyes (thank you graduate school!), and I really don't need any help in making them any darker than they already are.

For the longest time, I used Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. And then after getting my makeup done at a Clinique counter about a year and a half ago, I switched to Clinique's Gentle Waterproof Mascara.

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara and Clinique Gentle Waterproof Mascara.

Sadly, although Clinique really was a step up from Maybelline as far as how it felt when I was wearing it, it did not resolve the raccoon eyes problem that I have whenever I wear mascara. I wear contacts, I rub my eyes a lot, and I get dark circles. That's how it is. Or rather, how it was until I was introduced to this amazing product from a friend.

Blinc Kiss Me Mascara.

Now, I originally balked at the idea of spending $24 on mascara (it is $25 on the Blinc website, but $24 at Sephora), but I had a $15 gift card to Sephora, and figured, why not? So I bought it, tried it and must say that I am very impressed. It works differently than other mascaras, forming tubes around your eyelashes that are supposed to come off only when using both water and pressure to pull them off. In practice, I can still rub them off, but it is a lot easier to pick a couple of small black tubes (these are really tiny) off your face than it is to deal with the mascara induced black eye. If I end up doing my own makeup on my wedding day, I am almost positive that this will be the mascara that I will wear- and if I don't, I may still request that the makeup artist use this mascara.

As a bonus, I shared my excitement with my chemistry student brother, who proceeded to tell me about the various polymers that were in the mascara, and then assured me that they are completely safe.

What is your favorite mascara? Are there any others that I should try?

Friday, October 19, 2007

You got me in trouble.

Yes, you, readers, I'm talking to you. Why on earth did you have to suggest to me so many fabulous red shoes?

And with all that talk of free shipping, before I could come to my senses, shoes from endless were on their way.




(l to r: Vaneli "Larinda", Unlisted "New Love", Exchange by Charles David "Camisole", Charles David "Baci", Chinese Laundry "Bowie")

Since it is too hard to tell what fancy shoes look like while wearing khakis, naturally, I had to put on a favorite little black dress to really get a sense of what the shoes really look like. Since the wedding really is an excuse to buy amazing red shoes, I have to be able to wear those shoes the next time a fancy occasion comes up.

Warning: Pictures of feet are below.

The first pair by Vaneli were a very bright red color. Overall they looked fine, but nothing to write home about, and I'm really going for fabulous.

Second pair by Unlisted was nice, but the positioning of the straps seemed to make my toes look really long. Comfortable enough, but missing a bit of pizazz.

Third pair but Exchange by Charles David were suggested to me by several people- and they are really pretty shoes. Excellent arch support. Sadly, though, at a heel height of 3.5", they were a bit too tall for me- and didn't have enough red to them.

Fourth pair by Charles David are arguably the most beautiful shoes I have ever worn. Ever. But they pinched my feet some, and at 3.5" high, were again too tall.

And the final pair, by Chinese Laundry. Of all of the shoes, these were absolutely the most comfortable. I liked the fact that the shoes really seemed to hold in my feet. (No duh, Meg. It's because they are more like regular shoes and not the sandals that you have been trying on.) And not to get all matchy matchy, but the color does happen to be the exact same shade as the bridesmaid dresses, only shinier. They are absolutely not as gorgeous as the Charles David shoes. But the more I walked around in them, the more I really liked them.

Only thing is, part of me is still not sure about the criss-crossing in the front. There is a (small) nagging part of me that things that the shoes are more fugly than fabulous.

So, your thoughts. Are the Chinese Laundry shoes fab or fug?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

reflections on a dress

Now that all is said and done, there are a couple of thoughts I have about buying a dress.

-Do not spend any money in a place that treats you rudely. Your dollars speak loudly, and by refusing to spend money in a place that does not value all of their customers and encouraging others to do the same, the shop will eventually have no choice but to change the way they respect customers if they want to stay in business.

-Wear a strapless bra.

-Bring a hair clip (if you have longer hair) to hold your hair up. It enables you to see what you look like in a given dress with your hair up (and down).

-Be respectful, kind and courteous (remember that Girl Scout Law!) to the salespeople. They will (typically) respect you, if you respect them.

-Do try on dresses outside of your price range, if you are extremely confident in your ability to stick to your price range. No matter how awesome a dress was, I was absolutely completely unwilling to spend more than $1000 on a dress. I will (most likely) wear it once. But by trying on more expensive dresses- $4000+- I was able to know what high quality fabric and an extremely well made dress felt like. As bargain shopper extraordinaire, I am ecstatic about the quality of the dress I got for the price I paid.

-Filene's Basement Sale, at least in Cleveland, is absolutely worth going to. People were nice, there wasn't much pushing/shoving really at all, and it enabled me to try on lots of dresses really quickly. However, if you are not a street size 4/6/8, pickings are slim. It is also best if you are under 5'8" tall.

-If you will be 5'10" or taller (with shoes) on your wedding day, regardless of what size you wear, you can pretty much forget about getting a sample dress, or a used dress. I looked for eight months at least every other day at the usual suspects (preowned wedding dresses, the knot dress board, craigslist, and ebay), and during that time, only came across maybe 4 dresses that were long enough, and none of which were my style.

-Finally, don't dismiss bridesmaid dresses, or dresses from high end bridesmaid dress designers. Siri, Thread and Jenny Yoo all have gorgeous dresses that would work as bridal gowns.

(Left to right: Vivien by Siri, Hillary by Thread, Aliza by Jenny Yoo)

What valuable advice do you have about shopping for a wedding gown?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hair, Hair, Everywhere!

I recently came across the following website that has more hairstyles than I could ever imagine- some amazing, some outrageous, and some very high school prom like. There is no search engine, but because everything is on one page, it is pretty quick to scroll through.

Check it out here. While the site is in Polish (I think), you don't need to speak the language to see the beauty (and ridiculousness) of some of the pictures.

I know that I want to wear my hair up and back in some sort of french twist or chignon. These are some of my favorites that I found, all at the site given above.

1. There is something about this that I really like, and I can't quite put my finger on it...maybe how polished it looks, without being stuffy?

2. Nice side shot. I really like how there is no extra pouf at the top of the head, and that the hair is pulled straight back.

3. Very sleak, modern chignon. This reminds me of the back of my dress.

4. Another nice side shot. I like the sideswept bangs, although I've never had them.

5. This reminds me of old Hollywood glamour. Maybe because it is in black and white?

Of the hairstyles above, which is your favorite? How are you planning on wearing or did you wear your hair on your wedding day?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Soul Search

I received a voicemail last week- my dress is in a month ahead of schedule. While I am excited about it, I haven't called the shop back yet because they want me to schedule my first fitting. For which I need my shoes. Which I don't yet have.

I posted earlier about what I am looking for in regards to shoes, and when I was in Cleveland, decided to take a trip to my local shopping bazaar (read: mall) with my mom and try on every red shoe in sight that was even remotely close to what I was looking for.

First stop was Nordstrom's. First, that store really does have phenomenal customer service. As you may have noticed in my last post, most of the shoes that I really like are closed in the back. Turns out that I There is a reason why most of the heels I own are slingbacks or strappy sandals. Stephen, the most understanding and patient salesman ever, carefully explained to me why those shoes will not work for me. I have narrow feet- not only does this mean that it is narrow by my toes, but it also means that my heel is narrow. So me heel will consistently fall out of gorgeous D'Orsay heels, unless they either come in narrow or comfortably fit in a size 9.5 instead of a 10.

::sighs:: And there are such pretty shoes out there that really would work if my feet weren't so darn narrow.

Why can't you be a slingback or a strappy sandal? You would have been perfect, but you have that darned heel issue. I (surprisingly) even liked the bow in front.

Nine West Jojus
Gorgeous, but there is no way that you will work, what with my extraordinarily narrow heels.

I also learned that Nina shoes don't have enough arch support for me, and that Kenneth Cole Reaction shoes tend to pinch me in awkward places.

Wicked Rich, you are gorgeous, but I see where you get the "wicked" in your name. You pinched my feet in the 30 seconds I walked around in you, leaving deep red marks that lasted much longer than you did on my feet..

You, Kate Spade's Elisabeth, are a very pretty shoe, but are just too expensive.

I have combed the recommended online stores (thanks for the suggestions!), and am still having trouble finding what I am looking for. I had already planned to get custom ballroom shoes, since Calvin and I have been taking dance lessons and really enjoy them, and tanya2s suggested in my earlier post that I check out Turns out, you can also get shoes made with a rubber soul instead of suede- so I could order two pairs of shoes through them, one with a suede soul for dancing, and the other with a rubber soul for ordinary wear. At the same time, I hate to risk ordering custom dance shoes that might not fit, since they are non-returnable.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for places to look? And how early do you really need to go for dress fittings? It seems that as the holidays draw closer, the number of red satin or silk heels will increase. Do I really need to go in for fittings 6 months in advance, or will 4 months be sufficient?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Meeting with the minister

Tonight, Calvin and I are headed back to Cleveland. In addition to seeing our families and watching Indians baseball, we will be meeting tomorrow morning with our officiant, the minister of the church in which I grew up.

This is our first (of at least three) meetings with him before the wedding, and I honestly have no idea what to expect. I emailed the minister about it, and he said to bring any questions we might have. My main question, though, is what questions are we supposed to have?

Do you have any recommendations or tips as we go into this meeting? What was your first meeting with your officiant like?

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I've always been a low maintenance sort of person. Maybe because my mom is that way, or I only have brothers, or because makeup and hair products cost money, and using them takes time...I'm not really sure exactly why I missed the whole acting like a girl thing when I was a teenager.

But when I started teaching, I wanted to make sure that I was able to look professional, and somehow putting on makeup in the morning made me feel like I was putting on my "game day" face, in a good sort of way. At the recommendations of friends, I went to the Clinique counter during their bonus days, and bought way more makeup than I thought was possible. I have since spent the last year and a half getting increasingly better at putting on my own makeup. (The big thing for me is that in the last month or so, I have finally figured out how to put on eyeliner without looking like Marilyn Manson. This is huge for me.)

The point of all of this is that I still haven't been convinced about the need for makeup. I mean, really- how much of a difference can it really make on a day to day basis? But then Calvin and I went to hear DJ Tiesto in DC. I looked at the photos, and while Calvin thinks that he looks like a mess (I disagree), we both agree that I look much better than I normally do in pictures.

See what I mean:

Shiny on the left for my birthday, and much less shiny on the right at Tiesto. (And my nose seems to keep getting bigger. Looks like I did inherit the nose that everyone on my mom's side of the family has.) Now I know that lighting makes a difference, but I tend to be shiny in nearly every picture of me. While I felt like I had on way too much makeup at Tiesto, in the picture, I think that it looks good overall. If you disagree, please tell me nicely :-)

What this means to me is that good makeup is essential for the wedding. I know, I know, I should probably have already figured this out, but makeup just isn't much of a priority for me. But the question remains- should I hire someone to do my makeup (anyone have any suggestions for someone in the Cleveland area?), or should I go to Sephora and DIY (or ask one of my lovely lady friends to help me out in this area?) What are you doing for your makeup for your wedding?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Old Mission Peninsula, take 2


On Sunday we woke up early, packed up our bags an spent awhile driving around Old Mission Peninsula, which is absolutely beautiful.

Right before we left Chateau Grand Traverse

Driving around.

We saw this gate, and the scene reminded us immediately of that old Windows desktop background picture. (Yes, we are nerds.)


If you look closely, you will see a pair of swans in the water.

We then drove back to Chateau Grand Traverse to taste their wines.

Chateau Grand Traverse

Free tasting for up to 6 wines.
Most of their wines were in the tasty to very tasty range. We were impressed.

Chateau Chantal
Free tasting for up to 6 wines.
The wines were fine, but not knock your socks off amazing. The view, though, is spectacular- you can see both bays from the top of the property. They do weddings here, but are pricey- renting the property will cost you $5000, plus $1000 for coordination, plus renting out all of the rooms of the Chateau, plus linens, etc. You get the idea.

The property is gorgeous.

Bowers Harbor Vineyards
Free tasting of up to 6 wines.
Calvin and I both really liked it- the wines are very tasty, and it is a small, family owned place. Nearly all the wines we tried were excellent. If you call ahead, you can reserve a box lunch of bread, cheese, fruit and other delicious things. Too bad we found that out after we arrived. Calvin also really liked the fact that the owners have a dog, Cooper, that wanders in and around the grounds and tasting room.

Brys Estate

Free tasting of up to 6 wines. Free cheese, crackers and chocolate.
The final stop of the day. The wines were fine- not bad, but nothing to write home about.

And there you have it- our adventures near Traverse City. For those looking to stay within the US for their honeymoon, I would highly highly recommend the area. There are nice beaches, excellent wine and good restaurants. It is an absolutely gorgeous part of the country. Calvin and I are already talking about going back again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Old Mission Peninsula

This past weekend, Calvin and I traveled up to the Old Mission Peninsula just outside of Traverse City, Michigan. (This was his gift to me for our anniversary; back in September, I took him to Cedar Point as my gift to him.) Not only would it be an amazing place to just visit, but the area would be perfect for a honeymoon or destination wedding.

Map is found here

Calvin had us booked at the Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse, (part of the Chateau Grand Traverse winery) and it was absolutely wonderful. The inn has six rooms, each with its balcony of the estate- half have views of the bay, while the other half have views of the vineyards. We arrived around 10:30, to find a bottle of wine waiting for us.

(A brief baseball note: For the drive up, Calvin and I tried desperately to catch game 2 on the radio. No such luck- but his mom and my parents called us every inning to get updates. When Cleveland scored in the 8th, we got phone calls from both our parents and a text message from his sister. In the 10th, Calvin's mom was giving us the play by play, until my dad called to recommend that we turn on the radio to catch the game- which, at that point, we were able to do. It was beautiful. And we lost our voices screaming with excitement when Cleveland won in the 11th. Sunday, well, that's a different story. But all was glorious last night. :-D)

The view of the vineyards from our room.

Our balcony.

The sitting area of our room- complete with mini refrigerator and microwave.

We awoke early on Saturday to find the most amazing breakfast spread in the breakfast room- homemade quiche, fresh waffles, and banana bread. We talked about renting bikes, but at the recommendation of someone else in the breakfast room, decided to watch how much wine we were drinking at the wineries and drive instead. (Well, Calvin drank very moderately, since he was driving.) Since most wineries don't open until 10am at the earliest on Saturdays, we set out to explore the town of Suttons Bay on the Leelanau Peninsula. Lots of cute shops there.

And then we began Saturday's Seven Winery Tasting Tour Extravaganza around the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.

Map found here.

First up:
Black Star Farms located on the Leelanau Peninsula
$5 for six tastings, including a glass you get to keep
We weren't so impressed with the wines, but thought that the grounds were very beautiful, if a little too touristy. They do host weddings and receptions.

The tasting room was a bit of a zoo.

A picture of the inn- it is very picturesque.

For some (unknown) reason, Calvin wanted to get his picture taken from the other side of the fountain in front of the inn.

Next stop: L. Mawbylocated on the Leelanau Peninsula
2 complimentary pours, and $5 for 2 2oz. pours and some whitefish spread with crackers.
This was absolutely our favorite winery of the weekend. They only produce sparkling wines under two different labels- L. Mawby (made in the methode champenoise from Leelenau Peninsula grapes) and M. Lawrence (cuve close method from grapes grown on "planet earth.") We favored the M. Lawrence (sassily-named) wines, which include "Sex", "Redd" and "Fizz." Most importantly of all, we found the wine we would like to serve at our reception- aptly names "Us." The whole winery was very tongue-in-cheek.

Arriving at the tasting room.

Inside the tasting room.

Out on terrace.

The vineyards at L. Mawby

Ciccone Vineyards located on the Leelanau Peninsula
$5 for 6 pours. They also do weddings- $4700 to rent the space for an outside ceremony and a rustic barn for a reception.
When we pulled up to this winery, I knew that the name sounded familiar. Here's why:

It is owned and operated by Madonna's dad. Unfortunately, the wines were pretty lousy. But they were set up for a wedding, so naturally Calvin and I explored a bit and took some pictures.

Willow Vineyard located on the Leelanau Peninsula
Free tasting; small number of wines. Overall, the wines were better than Ciccone, but we were not impressed.

Chateau de Leelanau located on the Leelanau Peninsula
$3 for six tastings, including the glass. Located in a shopping plaza, we walked in to a small crowd, and almost walked right out. But we stayed- mostly because it was nice and cool inside- and were treated to some really wonderful wines.

Shady Lane Cellars located on the Leelanau Peninsula
1 complimentary tasting. $5 for four tastings, including salmon spread and crackers.
A really lovely place to just sit outside and enjoy their good wine. They also host events- rental fees vary, but peak at $2400, which includes a small indoor space and a large outdoor space.

Peninsula Cellars on the Old Mission Peninsula
Free for up to 6 pours.
The last stop of our day, we enjoyed several different wines here. It seems that the Old Mission Peninsula has better Rieslings than the Leelanau Peninsula.

The day wrapped up with a phenomenal dinner at the Boathouse. Stay tuned for a follow up post of Sunday's adventures, and thoughts about the Traverse City area.