Monday, March 31, 2008

To peek or not to peek?

I think in preparation for the shower, Calvin's mom happened to point out that there were some unintentional repeats on a couple of our registries. (No, we did not intend to register for two hand mixers.)

So in the process of editing the registries, I happened to notice the gift tracker feature that both Dillard's and Williams-Sonoma have. Basically, it tells you who purchased what gift. Checking just to see how it worked (and figuring the only thing on there would be the down comforter), I happened to see that some gifts have been purchased.

Now, I'm really excited to be getting some of our china, but I also feel a little...guilty. Like I've sneaked a peek at Christmas presents in mid-December, and now Christmas morning won't be nearly as much fun.

But right now, I feel like that kid that can't possibly stand to wait one more minute to see what Santa has brought. Yesterday another UPS box was at our door, and my shower is this weekend. But I would also hate for Saturday to roll around and there be very little in the way of surprises.

Did sneaking a peek at your registry take away any of the fun of opening up gifts?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A love letter to luggage

Dear luggage,
I've traveled quite a bit with several of you, and I want to take the time to let you know how I feel.

Kelty Redwing Backpack,
you are amazing. You were absolutely faithful in the 3 mile walk to the ferry in Stockholm, never letting in any bit of moisture despite the continuous downpour. You remained faithful going from Budapest to Bratislava, and lasted much better than any rolling bag would have in the cobblestone streets of Riga. But it's been several years since I graduated from college, and I've found that I increasingly need to travel with a suit. We've shared some good times, and I will come back to you.

The rolling bag that shall remain nameless,
Your time has come to meet the fate you deserve. I've tried to take care of you, to treat you well, and what do I get in return? A bag that tips over no matter how I pack it. A bag that gets caught in the tiniest crevices. A bag that never rolled very smoothly. I've given you numerous second chances, and you've blown it. Off to Goodwill you go.

You've been replaced:

Ricardo Beverly Hills Del Mar Lite ,
You have become the apple of my eye, after hearing about you at ebags, and finding you for such a great deal at Luggage Factory. You are extremely light weight, easy to pack efficiently, and even provide a way for me to separate dirty laundry from clean. You role smoothly, and have pockets just where I need them. And you come in purple! I know I can depend on you to not get tripped up when I'm racing to the gate to catch my plane, and managed the cobblestones of Playa del Carmen with amazing ease. While I love Kelty, it is you that I will be taking on our honeymoon.


What luggage are you taking on your honeymoon?

Monday, March 24, 2008

the labor conditions

No, I don't mean the manual hours I put in to addressing the invitations or working on the website. I'm referring to the labor conditions for the workers at our reception venue.

You see, I'm a member of a labor union (yes, graduate students really should be unionized), and our current contract expires at midnight tonight. Tomorrow, unless something miraculous happens, I will be working a picket line.

This has gotten me thinking about the labor conditions of the people involved in the wedding. The photographer and musicians are self-employed, and the minister works at the church. But the workers at the reception, from the servers to the people washing dishes to the people checking in my guests at the desk?

They're not unionized, because the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel is NOT a union hotel. Nope, no Unite Here here. One of my younger brothers has been fairly active in labor organizing, and actually worked at the (unionized) Renaissance Hotel in St. Louis for a bit. (Maybe I'll ask him to share his opinions about bridal parties in a guest post.) He's got a lot of stories to tell, and I feel like I've learned quite a bit from his experiences.

With my contract expiring, it has made me realize how lucky I am that I have a union that looks out for my rights, and is the only reason I have decent health care. Those that are working to make our wedding everything we hope it to be have a right to health care and a living wage as well.

If I knew a year ago what I know now, I would have restricted my wedding reception and room block to a unionized hotel. Curious about yours? You can check out Unite Here's Hotel list right here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thank you notes

Way back before our invitations were finished, I found myself getting antsy one night to just take care of a wedding project.

I present to you the recipe for our simple but tasty thank you notes.

The Dahlia's Thank You Notes

1 stack of cardstock (I got ours from Office Max)
1 embosser*
1 paper cutter
envelopes (Ours are from Envelope Mall. They are leftover from our response card envelopes.)

The supplies

Cut the paper in half:

Fold. Align your folded cardstock in the embosser. I used it one piece of cardstock as a guide, although there are probably more accurate ways to make sure your embossing is centered.

Press down on the embosser, and presto! One thank you note down.

A close up:

To make things even fancier, we've also taken to embossing the envelopes.

And that's it. Inexpensive, simple but elegant thank you notes.

What are you doing for your thank you notes?

(*author's note: Our embosser came from Wilshire Graphic Press. I got lucky and won it in a contest.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oh the places...

Our invitations are going.

As I was addressing the invitations, I was surprised to see just how far away some of them are headed. Since both Calvin and I grew up in Ohio and currently live in Michigan, I figured that the vast majority of our invitations were headed to those states.

And they are. But they are also going to a lot of other places: 58 cities in 19 states in 3 countries. Closest place is to our home (we addressed one to ourselves!); farthest away is in Ulm, Germany.

Was anyone else surprised to see the places their invitations were going? What's the farthest place your wedding invitations are going?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Exciting package!

The wedding invitations are out, the shower invitations are out, and we have passed the two month mark. What does that mean?

We received our first wedding present in the mail!

I'm not sure why this is so exciting, but there is something extremely fun about getting packages in the mail. Calvin's aunt sent us our very first thing off of our registry:

A sweet down comforter. Which is especially appropriate because it is still cool here in Michigan.

What was the first gift you received off of your registry?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Invitations - Part 4 - A Happy Ending

Part 1 - Inspiration
Part 2 - Color Crisis
Part 3 - With a Little Help from my Friends

As I mentioned before, I was able to successfully navigate the wedding invitation printing process. Here's the final result:

Opening the envelope

All of the parts and pieces

The return address and response envelope.

And a close up of my favorite part- the response card.

I've gotten lots of positive response about the invitations, and in general, I'm really happy with how they turned out. Overall, I'm happy with having used Overnight Prints for our invitations. I'm really happy with the source of our envelopes, Envelope Mall. And I would definitely order pens (or other art supplies) again from Mister Art.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Invitations - Part 3 - With a Little Help from my Friends

Part 1 - Inspiration
Part 2 - Color Crisis

You may recall that I was having some difficulties getting our invitations printed in a nice dark red. In my frustration, I did two things.

First, I decided to visit Papyrus and see what invitations they had that looked nice. We decided if the printing didn't work out, that we might order these:

By Tru Sophistication

But they would be substantially more than our initial invitations. And I'd already purchased our envelopes from Envelope Mall, and it was past the deadline to return them.

So I did what I think any bride who is connected on online forums would do: I contacted a couple of women I'd met. Specifically, Mrs. Emerald, who used a dark red color for her invitations, and Manchmal, a graphic designer and fellow indiebride who has her own invitation design business.

(Note: If you want to print your own invitations using Vistaprint or Overnight prints, but are unsure of actually designing them, you should totally check out Manchmal's etsy shop. She'll pretty much create any invitation for you, and give you the files to print them out yourself. It's awesome.)

With their help, I was able to figure out the problem and resolve it. Basically, Open Office has issues with publishing in CMYK, so that the full spectrum of CMYK colors is not available for use. Including dark red. So as many people had suggested, I downloaded a free trial of Adobe Illustrator.

And victory was mine. Check out how the next test print came out:

Perfectly red. With no indication of hemorrhoids.

I definitely couldn't have done it without the help of Mrs. Emerald and Manchmal. At the risk of sounding really cheesy, I'm really grateful for the ways the internet has connected me with other people.

Where have you found help planning your wedding from online friends?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Invitations - Part 2 - Color Crisis

Part 1 - The Inspiration

I initially used Open Office Draw to design our relatively simple invitations (the screen shots have been edited in paint):

The invitation. Simple, formal, perfect. Designed to be 8.5" by 5.5"

The response card, inspired by Mrs. Gummi bear's. Calvin really wanted something to demonstrate that would make sure that the invitations didn't feel too "stuffy." Designed to be 5.5" by 4.25"

Business card with the address of our (fairly extensive) website. It was much easier (and cheaper!) to just include that in the invitation than to have several insets with directions and accommodations. Especially since most of the people invited live in Cleveland.

A quick word about the invitation design:
All of the text and images are actually fonts, from We used Tagettes for the text, and Im Fell Flowers letter "P" for the damask-looking watermark. Vegiterra letter "C" provided the carrot image, and LCR on the Farm letter "C" was the chicken image.

Now, I'd heard extensively that offset printing can produce slightly different color results than what appears on the computer monitor, as CMYK (offset printing) colors are different from RGB (computer monitor) colors. We ran a couple of "test prints" with all of the various inkjet and color laser printers we could to test colors, and they came out fine. But just to be on the safe side, I ordered a "test print" of 100 business cards from Overnight Prints. (I know that a lot of people use VistaPrint, but I wanted a matte finish to the cards.) Much cheaper to test print with those than with the whole invitation suite.

This is what we got:

Nice looking, if chocolate brown was our primary color. But it's not. And this is clearly not red.

So I consulted the New Big Book of Color, and changed some things around. And ordered another test print:

This was more reminiscent of hemorrhoids than anything else.

I was frustrated. I was a little bit panicky. And desperate times called for bringing in the reinforcements...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Invitation - Part 1

When we started looking at invitations, there was one in particular that caught our eye:

Classic and formal, but with a twist: a dark background with with white lettering. From Crane's. Which also means that it was going to be at least $1000 over our invitation budget.

Given that it is extremely difficult to get light text on dark paper, thermography was ruled out. And letterpress was just outside of our budget.

But after seeing Mrs. Emerald's posts about her invitations, I was inspired to do a little designing of my own. And with the Open Office Draw design program available for free, how hard could it be?

A screenshot of the invitation in progress.

Turns out, a whole lot more complicated than I thought. Let's say for now that there is often a reason why things are free...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

They're off!

Yes, these

are off in their hand-canceled glory.

A note about the hand-canceling, as I know that some people have different experiences with it than others.

First, what exactly is hand-canceling, and why do people care about it? Exhibit A below shows a regular postmarked envelope:

Exhibit B is hand cancelled:

Image found here.

In my mind, the hand canceling looks quite a bit nicer.

Now, I'd heard some stories that hand-canceling can be difficult to get. When I was buying my stamps, I spoke with the person behind the counter and he gave me a couple of tips about getting my invitations hand canceled.

The whole conversation went something like this:

Postman: Are you a med school student?

Meg: No, but I'm working on my Ph.D. Why do you ask?

Postman: You are the most confident bride I've ever seen buy stamps, so I figured you must be in medical school. Most brides are very uncertain about their choices and spend awhile trying to sort things out.

(Taking advantage of the good impression I'd made)

Meg: Oh, thanks- I just looked on the USPS website and figured out what stamps I wanted. Do you mind if I ask you a question? Is there any way that it would be possible to get the wedding invitations hand cancelled?

(Postman leans over counter)

Postman (quietly): It's officially against USPS policy to hand cancel regular envelopes. But, I know the person who works the early morning shift on weekdays. If you arrive right after the post office opens, she'll let you did it.

And that is what I did. The post office opened at 7:30 this morning, and I got there at about 7:40. No one was there, and 10 minutes later I'd hand canceled all of the invitations.

Did anyone else try to get their invitations hand canceled? What was your experience?

Monday, March 10, 2008

A little thing that will change

I was talking with my dad on Saturday, and he called me "Miss Meg." It's something that he has called me as long as I can remember.

And I thought about it, and mentioned to him, that I will no longer be "Miss Meg" come May. (Not that I'll be a Mrs., since I'm not changing my name. But I definitely will not be a Miss.)

It's one of those little things that I never really thought about that will change when I get married.

What little thing have you noticed that will change after you're married?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Stardream vs. the Pen

I'm using Stardream envelopes for my invitations (purchased at the fabulous

For those of you that have used Stardream paper, you may be familiar with the fact that it is both difficult to print on and nearly impossible to write on. For those of you that haven't, well, it's difficult to print on and nearly impossible to write on permanently, since it is a coated paper.

I'd decided awhile ago that I would actually hand address all the invitations (and the return address, and the response card envelope- yes, my hand is sore), so I spent some time searching for a pen that would write nicely and permanently on Stardream paper. My usual arsenal of ink pens didn't work, nor did a fine point Sharpie marker.

Stardream 2, Pen 0

Cue the Sakura Glaze Pen:

Designed specifically for non porous surfaces, the ink becomes slightly raised when it dries- like very light embossing. The only trick is that you have to write slowly and let the ink dry before you touch it.

Stardream 2, Pen 100000 (because it totally conquered the Stardream).

The best deal for them that I found was at, where you can get a two pack for $2.53. I started out with a single two pack in black, but that proved that it was not going to be nearly enough. (Each pen, on average for me, worked for about 65 or so addresses.) But the final result is very nice. (Pictures will be coming next week, after the invitations are sent!)

How did you address your invitations? Did you write them by hand, use a calligrapher or print them?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Where to sit?

One of the things that we hope to get started on soon is a seating chart for our guests. Yes, we know that our invitations haven't gone out yet (but will be in the mail early next week!), but I've heard that it is easier to make a seating chart ahead of time and then modify it as people say they can come in than it is to start from scratch after the RSVP deadline.

Which brings us to one of our wedding "problems" that we have put off addressing more or less since we got engaged. Where do we sit? We've nixed the idea of a traditional, last supper-style head table. We also aren't too fond of having a sweetheart table. And we want our attendants to be seated with their significant others, as they will be coming from out of town and will not know many people (if any) people at the wedding.

Here's the lineup of players:
Us (Calvin and Meg)
Maid of Honor + boyfriend (from out of town)
Bridesmaid 1 (my brother's girlfriend) + Groomsman 1 (my brother)
Bridesmaid 2 (Calvin's sister) + boyfriend
Best man + girlfriend (from out of town)
Groomsman 2 (my brother; girlfriend is out of the country and won't be in attendance)

Which leaves 11 of us. Not a problem, right?

Except that we have round tables that seat 10. Further complications is that there may be a mini-reunion of friends of Maid of Honor whom she hasn't seen in years, and mini-reunion of friends of Best Man whom he hasn't seen in a couple of years.

Where are you sitting at your wedding? And where should we sit at our wedding?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

more shoes!

Because I just can't get enough of them.

You may recall that I am wearing these Nine West Jojus shoes:

From Endless

The only problem with the shoes, really, is that I don't think that I can really spend a whole evening dancing in them. I mean, they are wonderful shoes- especially after putting in Foot Petals Killer Kushionz (found on clearance at Bath and Body Works, of all places) - but still- I've been concerned about my ability to actually dance in them.

So I decided to get a pair of ballroom dance shoes to wear to the reception. (We are, after all, taking ballroom dancing lessons, so I'll have plenty of time to break them in.) Check them out:

Jodi dance shoes in Bronze from USA Ballroom Dance Shoes

Not as utterly fabulous as the red shoes, but they are ridiculously comfortable. Like, almost rivaling my beloved Birkenstocks comfortable. Service from USA Dance Shoes was excellent, and when I asked about sizing, I was given a quick response (containing advice I should have heeded initially. Note to self: You have narrow feet. This means that you should get the narrow width from the beginning. That's a lot of the reason for going with USA Dance Shoes- because they actually carry narrow shoes.) I opted for bronze because I don't really have any shoes that are that color, and it's actually quite pretty. (And the choices for narrow were bronze leather, tan satin, and black leather.)

Are you switching shoes for the reception?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Dresses for the moms

Over the past couple of months, both my mom and Calvin's mom had looked for dresses, with no luck. During this time, probably every major department store in Cleveland was visited by one or both of them- but the selection of dresses was just awful. They wanted similar things- silk shantung or dupioni cocktail length dresses. My mom was looking for blue, and Calvin's mom was looking for green. Now, this doesn't seem like it should be a difficult thing to find, but it was proving extremely frustrating.

On a whim, I scoped out the bridesmaid and occasion dresses at Watters, with the thought that maybe they would be able to order dresses that would suit them- and both found dresses they liked.

Cue The Perfect Bride, a salon in Rocky River (a suburb of Cleveland). Tipped off on the Watters website that they carried most of the Watters line, I set out with Calvin's mom to scope it out and help her find a dress. And she did:

Watters style 9973; her dress will be a paler green (cilantro) than the midori green shown.

My mom went a couple of days later, and loved this dress:

Watters style 7321 in navy blue (as shown). It will be shortened to cocktail length.

Service at the salon was excellent (if I was still in the market for a dress, I would have tried some on!); the women helping both my mom and Calvin's mom were extremely friendly and helpful.

The one thing that I wish I'd known ahead of time is the amount of time it actually takes to get in theses dresses. (My bridesmaids are wearing dresses from J. Crew, so I had no experience actually ordering non-wedding dresses through a bridal salon.) Our wedding is now less than three months away, which is pushing it for the dresses to arrive on time. So those of you with moms who are still looking for dresses- if you go the "order a dress from a bridal salon" route, I'd order well in advance of 3 months.

What is your mom wearing to your wedding?