Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rehearsal Dinner, part 2

I received an email earlier today from Calvin's mom with some exciting news- the rehearsal dinner is booked!

You may recall from my earlier post that we have checked out a couple of places. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we went out to another wonderful dinner with Calvin's parents to Lola, (the new!) Iron Chef Michael Symon's flagship restaurant. Calvin and I had already been to Lolita and loved it, and we were really looking forward to visiting Lola.

Expectations were high. I've been to Lolita twice, and both times was thoroughly impressed by my meal. When Lola moved from Tremont (an area in Cleveland with lots of restaurants and galleries) across the river to E. 4th st. (by the House of Blues and other restaurants and nightlife; this is right downtown), Symon turned Lola into Lolita- a more casual, friendlier on the wallet version of Lola. But Lola is arguably the best restaurant in town, and Symon won "The Next Iron Chef" between the time that we made are reservation and actually ate our meal.

Sadly, I do not have pictures of our evening, as I left my camera at home and my cell phone is camera-free.

We were seated promptly at our table; at a neighboring booth was none other than Michael Ruhlman. Calvin's mom and I were discussing whether the chef himself would be working that night, but that question was quickly answered- he was. It turns out that Chef Symon spends a significant amount of time at each of his restaurants when they are open, and he tries to talk with every.single.person that sits at his tables. Yes, we did get to meet him(!) and talked with him briefly about having our rehearsal dinner at Lola. (Eeee! The teenage girl foodie in me is still really excited- this is the first celebrity I have ever really talked to!) Naturally, he thought it was a great idea.

After dinner, we met with the manager and saw the private dining room. Chic, modern, wonderful. The only question was whether it would be large enough. (At this point in time, we had decided it was either Lola or Lolita. Lola's dining room seats 30, and Lolita's, 45). We decided that only those directly involved (and their significant others- or parents, in the case of the flower girl and ring bearer) in the wedding would be invited to the rehearsal dinner- which leaves us at 27 for dinner. Given the close proximity of the restaurant to the hotel where guests will be staying, we figure that we can set up a time to meet guests at the bar after the rehearsal dinner.

So Lola it is.

And I am more than ecstatic about getting to taste some of the wonderfulness that comes out of that kitchen the night before I get married. (Holy cow! I'm getting married!)

Where are (did) you having your rehearsal dinner? Are (did) you including out of town guests, or restricting it to those involved in the wedding?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fabulous Dresses

I want to share with you one of my favorite places to get dresses: Trashy Diva. Most of the dresses are silk, and are made in vintage styling and vintage inspired prints. The quality is excellent. Plus, it's based in New Orleans, which can still use any bit of help that it gets. But not to worry- if you aren't near NOLA, you can also order the dresses online. Some of my favorites:

Alexa Dress

Sweetheart Dress

1940s Dress- I tried on this one in the store, and it is amazing. If I'd had an excuse to by the dress at the time, I would have.

There are even some wedding dresses in the sale section (all are $200 or less!)

Amanda Dress

Obi 3 Dress

Where are some of your favorite places to get dresses?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rehearsal Dinner, part 1

In thinking about the rehearsal dinner, Calvin and I knew a couple of things that we wanted: in the city, locally owned, and amazing food. We also knew that the numbers for the rehearsal dinner would be on the smaller side, since we are inviting only those involved in the wedding.

Fortunately for us, Cleveland's local restaurant scene is absolutely amazing- it is in my mind one of the best things about the city. Unfortunately for us, that means there are lots of good options, which means that we had to go out to dinner to a number of them. Darn. But you do what you have to do for the sake of wedding planning. :-D

Our first stop was Jac's, located in the Warehouse district. The location is great, especially since it is only a couple of blocks away from the hotel where many members of the bridal party will be staying. A fairly new restaurant, it serves Mediterranean cuisine. Reviews of the food were good, although reviews of the service was mixed. So we decided to check it out.

Photo of Jac's

And while the food was good, service was absolutely abysmal. I worked as a server in college, so I understand when things are outside of the control of the server, but this was the worst service I have ever experienced anywhere, especially since the restaurant was mostly empty. Needless to say, we did not want to hold the rehearsal dinner there.

The next place we checked out was Fahrenheit. Located in Tremont (an area known for its art galleries and amazing restaurants), it has received excellent reviews.

Photo of Fahrenheit

The food was really good; I had the pumpkin ravioli, which was an excellent vegetarian dish. In this search for a good rehearsal dinner restaurant, it is important that there be at least one really good vegetarian option- the best man, after all, has to enjoy his meal. The atmosphere was nice, and the banquet room looked really good. Fahrenheit was definitely the frontrunner in the rehearsal dinner search, until this past weekend...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"I've got to get busy writing - busy, busy, busy!"

Image found here

Just like Professor Hinkle in Frosty the Snowman, I've got to get busy writing. We've got the final wording of our invitations to edit, as well Christmas cards to write and then address. I've got the added "benefit" of writing a final paper and grading as well. In addition, of course, to the non-writing tasks that lay before us, like shopping for presents, and taking care of miscellaneous wedding details, like ordering cardstock and envelopes. All in all it makes for a busy time for Calvin and I.

Now, my way of coping with all of these thins to do is to make endless lists of all of the tasks I need to do. I have post-it notes on my computer, a to-do list in my planner, and various notes to myself placed in strategic locations so I don't forget to do the things I need to do. The lists are for everything- the wedding things we need to take care of, the specifics of how much of what wedding related things we need, what assignments I have due and when I plan to work on them, what things around the house I need to take care of before this weekend, and what I need to pack in my suitcase when I leave in a couple of hours to go back to Cleveland. What can I say? I am a list maker.

Now, I know that not everyone makes lists for every.single.little.detail, so I'm really curious to hear about your organizational strategy. How are you staying organized with all of the responsibilities that are present at this time of year?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend away

Things have been pretty hectic for Calvin and I over the past couple of weeks. Not only are the holidays quickly approaching, but so is the end of the semester- for me and my students. Which means that not only do I have papers to write, but I'm also spending quite a bit of time helping students with their papers, reading drafts and the like, before I find myself under a pile of papers to grade. Not to mention final exams.

Needless to say, between the school work, the impending holidays, and the busyness that is wedding planning (seriously, who knew that it would take so much time?), we haven't taken a whole lot of time for ourselves.

My parents suggested last week that we go up to their cottage on Lake Erie for the weekend. We could get away for a bit, and my parents could come up for Saturday afternoon for the game. (I may live in Michigan, but I bleed Scarlet and Gray. I always go back to my people for the game.)

My dad and I in Columbus last year for the game.

But the important thing was that Calvin and I really got a chance to spend some quality time together. Since the cottage lacks internet access, we didn't whittle away the time browsing the web, and instead talked, laughed, played games and explored the area. All the things that we really like to do, but haven't done recently because we have been so busy. We returned home yesterday afternoon feeling greatly revived, both individually and as a couple, and are ready to tackle all of the various things that need to be done between now and Christmas. Both of us agreed that we really needed this past weekend to reconnect and remember why we're getting married in the first place.

What are you doing to recuperate from wedding planning and all of the other stresses of life at this time of year?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ken Blaze

I just had to share photographs of another wedding our photographer shot during the summer.

The wedding of Amanda and Thomas, as seen by Ken Blaze.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Welcome to...Cleveland?

How do you welcome out of town guests to cities or towns that are not, shall we say, tourist magnets? If we were getting married in New York, DC or Orlando, it would would pretty easy to recommend interesting things for people to do, and interesting places for them to go. But Cleveland? Not so much- or at least not as many obvious places.

Calvin and I spent a long time generating a Google map for our website highlighting some of our favorite places. Favorite places including restaurants like Fahrenheit, Paladar and Lolita (owned by Cleveland's very own Iron Chef, Michael Symon).

Michael Symon picture found here.
Museums like the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock Hall image from here.
And and other area attractions like the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Rainforest.

Cleveland Rainforest pictures found here and here.

But how else could we showcase our town? We've thought of doing some sort of out of town welcome bag or packet, but don't really want to invest too much time or money in doing that. What are you doing to excite out of town guests about the location of your wedding- especially if it is in a "less desirable" place? And anyone have other thoughts about tourist attractions in Cleveland?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Family momentos.

When I first got engaged, my mom and I spent an hour or two looking over various items that she had saved from their engagement and wedding. I saw the headpiece that my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother wore in their respective weddings, and tried on my mother's wedding dress. I also looked at my parents' wedding programs, saw their customized cocktail napkins, and a few of the cards they received.

Something else that my mom showed me was a Brides magazine that my dad bought her when they got engaged- she said it was so weird for her to be engaged, she couldn't actually buy a magazine herself. (Which I understand. I've bought a grand total of three wedding magazines in the the 8+ months we have been engaged.) And then my mom gave me this:

Your Wedding, by Blanche Wheeler.

Published in 1941, Your Wedding is basically an indispensable guide to wedding planning- or at least one of my mom's closest friends at the time thought so.* You see, my mom's friend felt that not only was it helpful, she actually took the time to highlight the really important details that my mom might overlook. Details such as: (the highlighted sections are written in italics.)

"A 'thank you note' should be sincere and informal and written on the best of note paper. It need not be long:

Dear Jane--
The beautiful breakfast set you so thoughtfully selected for John and me is one of our most cherished gifts. One of the nicest things about it is every single morning, rain or shine, we shall enjoy using it. And every time we feast our eyes on its lovely color and design, you shall be in our thoughts. We both do thank you so much and won't you drop in some Sunday morning and have breakfast with us?


"Gift Suggestions for the ushers:
Knife and chain
Smart cuff links
Silver or Gold Pencil
Silver bill clip"


"Duties of the best man:
Presenting the ring at the proper time
After the recessional, presenting the fee to the clergyman
Helping the groom change from his wedding clothes to his traveling clothes"

:-P I thought all of this was really funny.

But it also got me thinking about what sorts of memoirs I might have to pass along to a daughter or son who is getting married. Calvin's mom showed me the hat that she wore when she got married. (Sidenote: Calvin's parents got married by Dennis Kucinich, who was at that point in time the mayor of Cleveland.) This blog is more of a record than anything else I can think of that I might have to pass along, since it is chronicling my thoughts and reflections about getting married. Yes, the shoes and dress and all of those components of the wedding, but also contained in these pages are some of my thoughts about getting married. When the wedding has passed, I'd like to somehow print out these pages so that one day, I can share them with a son or daughter.

How are you keeping a record of things for posterity or future children?

*My mom's friend got her this as a joke.

The shoe search...

Is done!

Yes, after all of my trials and tribulations about shoes, it seems that my search is just about over. After my wonderful success at returning a whole bunch of shoes to Endless, I made a trip to Target to see about the Hollywould shoes. Actually, it was a trip to two different Target stores. One didn't have any of the Hollywould shoes, and the second store only carried the red color up to a size 9. I did manage to try on a size 9.5 and 10 in black, and determined that the 9.5 pinched a bit, and the 10 was a bit too big. And the bow on the back of the shoe did look a little cheap. And the red was a bit too bright. Basically, they were not the right shoes for me.

So, I went back to Endless and ordered the Nine West Jojus shoes. I thought about ordering both a 9.5 and a 10, but figured that it would be actually cheaper to order them separately, if the 10 didn't fit, since Endless is offering shipping for -$5. So I ordered the size 10, and they arrived. And are (almost) perfect, I think.

(No stockings this time, because I'm think I'm keeping these!)

The color is exactly what I have been envisioning, and while I was a bit wary of the heel height, I can actually walk around them just fine. The fabric in the front is extremely soft and doesn't pinch or rub at all. There is one problem which you can see from the pictures- the shoe doesn't fit very well in the heel. Now, it may not look like it, but my heel is actually all the way at the back of the shoe. (I really do have narrow feet. And just like my mom, ridiculously small ankles. Seriously. I have no need to worry about eventually getting the puffy, swollen ankles so many older women have to deal with. It's just not a possibility for me.) Since the shoe fits fine, length-wise- I'm not slipping out of the shoe, there's just some space there- I was thinking about getting something to better secure my heels/ankles.

Awhile back, a several readers suggested that I check out Foot Petals Heavenly Heelz. Now, I hate spending money on something that won't solve my problem, but do you think that this would work? Is there another product that works better?

And finally, how do you like my shoes? Fug or Fab?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The website is done!

Calvin and I have been working on our wedding website off and on since, well, June. Last night Calvin put on the finishing touches, and now we are up and running! We sent the link to our families late last night, and barring any unforeseen problems, should be sending out our virtual save-the-dates to friends and family either this weekend or next.

I now present to you our website:

The intro page. For some reason, the screencap didn't come out as clearly as it actually is.

The homepage.

The "Welcome to Cleveland" page

"Welcome to Cleveland" continued.

And the photo gallery.

Now, both of us admit that our site is pretty simple. Originally we had designed it using iWeb '06. Now, there were a couple of things about iWeb '06 that I didn't especially like- mostly that it is almost impossible to change the font of the links at the top of the page without putting them in manually. So we upgraded to iWeb '08 the week it came out, since it had that and some other nifty features, and updated our site, not backing up the original files since Apple software products are normally a lot more stable than most others. Unfortunately, the updating changed around all of the formatting of the site, since we changed our version of iWeb before the patch to fix that problem came out.

I searched around for an open source solution, and finding none that were especially palatable, downloaded the trial of Dreamweaver, and assembled the basics of the site. When it was "all done", we realized that one of the fonts we were using is non-standard, and therefore wouldn't render properly on most computers. We played around with embedding fonts, but ultimately decided to just make all of the headers images. Playing around with the images took awhile- there was a bit of MS Paint vs. Gimp vs. OpenOffice Draw debate, but Calvin took care of making the images. (Figuring out the images also forced us to try and figure out how to overcome the differences between how browsers render images.) To jazz up our site, I made a custom google map and Calvin added a simpleviewer gallery. We probably made it a whole lot more complicated than it needed to be- I think a total of 6 different programs were used, since after the license for Dreamweaver expired, I did the last bit of content tweaking in Notepad.

We purchased our domain through Go Daddy, and are hosting it on a friend's server. Total cost altogether for the website was in the neighborhood of $7.

So, I have some tips for those of you (like us) who have only basic html skills:
1. Images, especially images that only have a handful of colors (like the damask-style image on our website) are best made into .gif files. It leads to the most consistent rendering across images.
2. MS Paint does not do a good job with .gif files.
3. If you want to use non-standard fonts (and I would encourage you to do so), make them as images.
4. If you are upgrading your html editing software (or any software, really), make a back-up before you totally update. Even if the software is coming from a really reliable company.
5. Simpleviewer is really awesome for displaying pictures.
6. OpenOffice Draw continues to rock my world, and it is rocking Calvin's now, too. Both of us find it quite a bit more intuitive than Gimp.
7. We ended up not using standard websafe colors for our site, mostly because the websafe reds were too bright. There are pros and cons to not using those colors, but we determined that most, if not all, of the people who would visit our site would have updated computers and graphics capabilities, and that it wouldn't pose too much of a problem. This site provides both the hex (for html programming) and rgb (for images) code for all sorts of colors.
8. It is really easy to make custom maps with Google maps, and is a great way to provide a lot of information (about restaurants, museums, etc.) in a very efficient and useful manner.

Anyone else have any tips for those that are building their own website?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"So how's the wedding planning?"

One of the things that I like least about wedding planning is when people ask me, "How's the wedding planning going?" I know that people mean well, but there are a couple of things about it that makes me uncomfortable.

First, the question is almost exclusively aimed at me, although Calvin is playing an equal role in the process. That bothers me.

The second is that I'm just not that comfortable with talking about weddings with people in real life. My typical response is to shrug my shoulders and say something like, "It's going...I think." Maybe I feel that people are just trying to be polite and I don't want to talk their ears off about, oh, whether my dress should be ivory or diamond white? As much as I can get into the details of wedding planning, since I'm an organizer by nature, some of the stuff I really don't care about, and it is hard for me to believe that friends and family who are not intimately involved in the wedding process actually care about these things.

I'm so concerned about not being (or at least appearing) as a crazy obsessed bride that I don't have any idea how to actually talk about wedding planning. I'm the first of any of my close friends to get married, and I'm just not sure how to handle the social interactions part. Blogging and participating in online communities is my primary outlet for wedding things- so when with my friends, I would much rather talk about my research or a new movie than about the color of tablecloths.

Does anyone else feel this way? And does anyone have any suggestions about a better response to "So, how's the wedding planning?"

Monday, November 5, 2007

Another source of inspiration

There are a lot of places to find inspiration for weddings- a whole host of blogs that focus around design and/or weddings as well as the website of bridal magazines. One of my favorite blogs, however, is one that deals strictly in fashion and photography- The Sartorialist. Consider the possibilities that a single picture could have:

A color palate of rich greens, cocktail reception with lots of martinis. Not a whole lot of flowers, maybe some candles.

Vintage/classic sort of feel- I imagine this afternoon affair taking place in a country estate, or perhaps in a library. Favors could be used penguin classic books- you can often get them for .$50 or less at Amazon.

Smaller wedding, with reception held in a modern restaurant. Good food and good drinks, not a whole lot in the way of decor. Fun, laid-back but still stylish.

Wedding held outside at a country club, with a brunch reception to follow.

Outside, tented reception taking place in May, with mint juleps for everyone.

What are your favorite non-wedding related sources of inspiration?

Friday, November 2, 2007

The soul search continues...

I want to thank all of you who offered up opinions in my last shoe post. After much deliberation, and asking the opinions of my mom and Calvin's mom, I decided to return all of the shoes. The pair that most people liked (myself included), was the Charles David with a big bow on the front. Unfortunately for me, not only was the heel too high, but they were a half size too small. While the box said 10, the shoes said 9.5. I will say that endless has been an awesome- returns are free, I mailed the gigantic box of shoes on Saturday, and received an email today saying that my return has been processed.

So. I went back to scouring the internet, and came up with some more possibilities. First, Mrs. Bee alerted me to the fact that Holly Dunlap, the designer famous for her sexy Hollywould line of shoes, has just launched a line at Target. And that collection includes the following shoe:

Hollywould Peep Toe Pumps in Red. $30. Which looks pretty similar to these, right?

Luichiny Pretty, $72.95. Or compare the $30 Hollywould for Target shoes to the Hollywould Gertrud which sells for $395.

The other red shoe possibilities I found are:

Nine West Jojus, $78.95

rsvp Katelyn, $64.95

rsvp Nelly
, $64.95

Kenneth Cole Reaction Get Rich, $82.95

I'd love to know which of the above shoes you like the best. :-)

(Also, as you may have noticed, most of them have a closed heel, which can be problematic for my narrow feet. So I'm still open for suggestions of gorgeous silk or satin red shoes that are $100 or less, with a heel that is 3.5" or less and are available in size 10.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

reception surprise

There are a whole lot of things that you can do at a reception to surprise guests- unusual desserts, an unexpected tribute to a family member, or fun activities (like a photobooth!). Or you can do what a fellow blogger did:

How awesome is it to pull off a "spontaneously" choreographed dance? Basically, the bride and groom choreographed the dance with the members of the bridal party that lived in town, sent out instructional DVDs to everyone else, and rehearsed it the night before the wedding. More detailed directions are given here.

Calvin and I had originally said no cheesy group dancing (seriously, this was on our list of "have nots" that we made before we even told our parents that we were engaged), but seeing this dance has made us (at least temporarily) reconsider.

What are your thoughts about group dancing at weddings? And do you have any fun surprises planned that you don't mind sharing?