Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Honeymoon help

I've talked quite a bit about our honeymoon, and now that it's coming close, I realized there are some things that I need to figure out.

Like what to pack. As we are traveling with carry-ons only (since spending a month backpacking in Europe, I have a hard time packing more than just a carry-on), space is pretty limited. I thought I'd share my packing list for other people traveling to warm climates who hope to pack light, as well as open it up to any suggestions for items that I have forgotten.

Clothes (including what I will wear on the plane):
2 knit dresses
1 pair shorts
1 pair pants
2 short sleeved shirts
1 cardigan or long sleeved shirt
3 swimsuits
1 pashmina
rain jacket
(I plan on buying some nicer sandals once we're in Bali.)

bug repellent*
after sun lotion*
lip gloss*
contact solution*

First aid kit:
rifaxamin (for traveler's diarrhea)
malarone (for malaria prevention)
personal medications
pepto-bismal chewable tablets
immodium AD

Important documents:
plane ticket confirmations
doctor's note about prescription meds
1 bank card
2 credit cards
$100 bills (number TBD; supposedly you get the best exchange rate in Bali if you have 100s)

money belt
2-3 paperback books
2 travel guides

*means that it is a liquid, and therefore must go in a 1 qt bag. I've figured out how much contact solution I'll need (2 small bottles), and Calvin and I will split the load as far as the remaining liquids go.

Anyone have any recommendations for things to add to the list?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008's a secret

In the process of blogging about the wedding, it turns out that quite a number of guests have started reading the blog. (Hi everyone- I can't wait to see you in a few weeks!) As a result, there are a handful of things that I'm super excited about but can't yet post about, as it will ruin some of the surprise. (Fear not- I will blog about everything in full detail after the wedding.)

I know I'm not the only one who has some things being kept on the down low, but assuming Weddingbee is primarily trafficked by brides to be (and not interested guests), I think it's safe to ask the following question.

What secret surprises do you have planned for your wedding?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Veils by Occansey Designs

With the recommendations from a post a bit back for ways to get both my schoolwork and wedding stuff done, I took up the main suggestion to delegate.

First thing to delegate- my veil. I'd originally not wanted a veil, and then thought about a long veil, and then a shorter veil, then a longer veil, then a really short veil. Obviously, this indecisiveness needed to stop. I'd planned to make my own veil (why pay $200 for a veil when Joann Fabrics sells tulle for $1.99/yard?), but decided to scrap that.

After a quick google search, I came across Occansey Designs. Basically, they make veils completely custom- length, width, embellishments- everything. And after a quick price comparison of other online veil shops, I noticed that their prices are extremely competitive.

So what did I do? I thought about the types of veils I'd tried on that I liked.

"angel" cut veils

"cascading" cut veils

And of course, I thought about the length of the veil. At my last dress fitting, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked short veils. So I went ahead and ordered my short, angel cut veil.

It has arrived, and is absolutely perfect. (No pictures, since Calvin reads the blog.)

Where did you get your veil?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The next big thing

Although our wedding is looming ever closer, Calvin and I have found that instead of being preoccupied with the remaining details (like finalizing the song for the soloist, or putting together the program, or anyone of a number of things left to be taken care of), we are focusing on life after the wedding. And not just the honeymoon- although I do find myself daydreaming about it quite a bit.

No, it's the rest of life after the wedding, when we don't have to spend our evenings calling vendors and running wedding errands. Life that might include a house with a yard, and a dog (which Calvin really wants. Me, I'm ambivalent about it- except I don't want a dog that sheds much. Nor one that is too big. Anyone want to suggest a favorite breed?) And walks after dinner, perhaps to get ice cream.

Basically, as cliched as it is, both of us are looking forward to settling down a bit.

What are you looking forward to after the wedding?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

DIY gone wrong

It turns out that no matter how careful you are, there are some things that just don't turn out as you imagined. Like my headpiece.

I had been planning to cover it with silk to match my dress, and had thought that I would pleat it, so it would look like the waistband.

Now, I'm not the world's best seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm pretty good at figuring out how to do what I want. I got to work, measuring, cutting, pleating, and then came time to pin the fabric to the cap to make sure I was positioning it properly. I then tried it on, and it ended up looking like the illegitimate child of the two caps below:

banded nurse cap

round eastern covering

Whoops. Not exactly the look I was going for. After talking with my mom, I decided to scrap the headpiece altogether, and figure out something else for my head.

What DIY projects have gone wrong for you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The worst part of the honeymoon...

is the shots I have to get before hand.

Image found here.

Yes, travel to Bali requires several vaccinations- and not just the run of the mill Hepatitis B and Tetanus. No, I was loaded up with a grand total of four (4!) vaccinations just to be able to safely travel. Plus a prescription for two different medicines (one for malaria, the other for traveler's diarrhea.) How did I find out about what vaccinations I needed? The handy Center for Disease Control's website, which has all of the handy information that I need.

Luckily for me, I don't actually mind getting shots (not that it's my favorite thing in the world, but there are a lot of other things that are a whole lot worse), so it wasn't too bad.

Anyone else need to get vaccinations for the honeymoon?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Big news!

This weekend, Calvin and I took a surprise trip to St. Louis. Well, the trip wasn't a surprise to us, or my parents, or my brothers. Nope, it was a surprise for someone very special:

My now future sister in law, seated next to my brother/her future husband!

Yes, on Friday, my brother proposed to his long-time girlfriend, and had all of the family come to St. Louis to surprise her after the proposal. We went to this wonderful restaurant, where my brother had told her he had made reservations to celebrate their engagement. When they arrived, we were all seated with champagne waiting.

It was absolutely amazing.

I had to check out the ring- my brother did a good job.

My now engaged brother asking our other brother to be his best man.

The families

I'm so happy for both of them! Congratulations, you guys!

Friday, April 18, 2008

To have and to hold...

my lipgloss, cell phone and other important necessities for the wedding day.

I had, for the longest time, been lusting over a red clutch bag to use on our wedding day. Not just any red bag, no, this one only existed in my head. Sleek red gathered silk, it was absolutely gorgeous.

And then I saw it. Not just any bag, but the bag.

Image from Macy's.

No, I did not decide to trade in silk for snakeskin, as the above bag is the closest picture of my bag online that I could find. The design and style is identical, the only difference is the fabric is a deep crimson silk.

Receiving the bag itself was quite an endeavor; I saw it on clearance at my local Macy's, and had them hold it for me overnight. As luck would have it, I didn't have a chance to get back there to pick it up. Unbeknown to me at the time, my mom went back to the store to get it. But they didn't have it. Calvin and my mom spent the next 2 months or so trying to track down this bag, and Calvin managed to do it, just in time to give it to me as a Christmas present.

What are you using to hold your small necessities on your wedding day?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


With six weeks to go, things were looking pretty good. We'd sent the invitations, were working on the last details with the florist, sent our rings to be engraved- in short, we'd taken care of a lot of things. Same with 5 weeks to go- we ordered our guestbook, finalized some of the gifts for the bridal party, wrote shower thank you notes- and life seemed manageable. There were quite a lot of things left to do, but since classes have ended for the term, once my students' exams are graded next week, I'll be on summer break, giving me plenty of time to take care of the last things.

Cue yesterday.

For reasons completely unrelated to the wedding, the 4 weeks of summer break that I thought I would get has vanished, as things somewhat outside of my control have now inundated me with a ton of work to do. (Basically, my second comprehensive exam for my PhD is a paper defense. I thought I had the paper in good shape, but it turns out it needs a ton of work. Basically, I need to rework my entire paper in a different framework. I need to take the exam before the wedding, which gives me 2.5 weeks to redo the paper.)

Totally manageable, especially since classes have ended for the term, except that I am getting married in a month. Enter panic.

What have you done to keep things under control?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Product Review: Jergens Natural Glow

After all of the suggestions on my previous post, I decided to bite the bullet and go with the most heavily recommended one- Jergens. When I was shopping at my local Meijer, I stocked up on two products.

Jergens Natural Glow

For good measure (and because I still hadn't found a good moisturizer), I also got this:

Jergens Natural Glow Face

Now, after a week or so of using the products somewhat diligently (I try and remember to do it most days, but I've definitely forgotten a couple of times), my skin is a nice, bronze tone. Not heavily tanned (which would look unnatural), but with a little more color. And the added bonus that my acne scars are not as visible :-)

Thanks to all of those who made suggestions- I'm really glad to have found a product that works for me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thank you very much

After the shower, I knew that I would need to do something about thank you notes. Like most of our other wedding stationary, these thank you notes got dressed in nice red envelopes.

I didn't want to do anything to fancy or complicated, but I still wanted something that reflected me (i.e. was red) and was clearly for a shower. With the help of a little Microsoft Clip Art and my parent's super crazy awesome HP laser do everything machine, I (and my awesome maid of honor) came up with this:

(Yes, that is the same cardstock I used to make the wedding thank you notes.)

Using my handy dandy paper cutter, I simply cut the cardstock and folded the cards.

Voila! Fun red umbrella in a downpour thank you notes.

What are you doing for your shower thank you notes?

Monday, April 14, 2008

unexpected success (or flowers are so #$%* expensive!)

The one thing that I have cared the least about in the process of planning has turned out to be one of the (relatively) bigger headaches. We shopped around and spoke with no fewer than seven (7!) florists before settling with our current florist, who is familiar with both the church and the reception venue.

Early on, I had decided that I didn't want to have bouquets. When Calvin's mom asked me if I would change my mind, my response was, "Then I'll go to Trader Joe's the day before the wedding and buy myself a bouquet." But upon reflection, I decided that I actually did want a bouquet.

However, the florist quote came back, and including bouquets for myself and the three bridesmaids put us at about $400 over budget. And it included roses, which I specifically requested not to have. In a fit of frustration, I thought that I'd see what happened if I tried to make a bouquet for myself, with the following hypothesis: Flowers are pretty. A group of pretty things together will look pretty. Therefore, a group of flowers bunched together will look pretty.

The test:

$20 worth of flowers from Trader Joe's. From top to bottom:white ranunculus, a bouquet of white and green flowers, and cream/pink calla lilies.

flower tape (~$1.50 at Joann Fabric's)
flower wire ($.25 on clearance at Joann's)
ribbon (~$2.30 at Joann's)
white pearl pins (~$4.50 at Joann's)

Following the guidelines suggested here, I figured out that arranging flowers for a bouquet is really easy. The only trick is to wire the stems of heavy flowers (like ranunculus or gerbera daisies) to help support the head. This really sounds a lot more complicated than it is.

With the flowers above, in the next half hour I pulled the leaves off of the stems, trimmed the stems, wired the heavier flowers, and arranged them. Take a couple of flowers, wrap them in tape or wire. Add a couple more, tape/wire. Repeat until the bouquet is done. (Partway through I found that the floral tape was not holding so well, so I switched to wire.)

Calvin graciously holding the bouquet

For a finishing touch, I wrapped the stems in ribbon and secured it with the white pearl pins.

A little lumpy because the wire wasn't pulled too tight.

Closer shot of the handle.

Believe it or not, arranging the flowers was actually relaxing. So I'm planning on arranging the bouquets the morning before the wedding. (A day later, my sample bouquet looked just fine.) And unlike centerpieces, no one needs to be around to set up the bouquets, as they will be totally set to go the day before. My mom said that she's happy to bring them to the church before the ceremony.

Where have you found unexpected success planning your wedding?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shower fun

I've already mentioned it a couple of times before, but after recapping the rest of last weekend (what with a shower surprise, dress fitting, dance lesson and makeup trial), I feel like I can finally get to the main event of the weekend: my shower.

Since my bridesmaids live out of town (and don't all know each other), and my extended family is not especially close knit, my mom, Calvin's mom and Calvin's mom's best friend graciously hosted the event at my parents' house. There were about 25 or so people in attendance for the afternoon tea, from some of the "kids" I used to babysit for 10 years ago to the women from church who were like second moms to me growing up to some of the women who played a significant part in Calvin's life. It was, in a word, overwhelmingly amazing.

The crowd:

Part way through, one of the women from my parents' neighborhood realized that I needed a bouquet for the rehearsal dinner- here they are, hard at work:

(Much to their dismay, I did not break a single ribbon when I was unwrapping packages, suggesting that I will not have kids in the future. This was a conscious effort on my part.)

The theme of the shower, and everyone was assigned a specific hour of the day, and told to bring something that Calvin and I would use at that hour. Calvin's aunt, who was assigned 7am, came in carrying this.

I was a little confused, until I saw the card- Breakfast in Bed! (It contained a basket containing teas and coffee and other assorted breakfast goodness.)

And it wouldn't be a party without food:

This was only half of the spread, but it was amazing.

And a gratuitous closeup of what was left of the petit fours that my mom made. And not just any flavor- no, they were rose flavored, which is one of my favorite flavorings for dessert. (Anyone else think my mom could go into business selling these?)

I still can't get over how generous everyone was, and how wonderful it was to have all of these women together in the same room.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Big Day Beauty

I scheduled my hair and makeup trial for Saturday, just before my shower. (If you are doing hair and makeup trials, I'd highly recommend scheduling them for some sort of occasion, so there is a reason for getting beautified.)

I headed to Studio Palmieri, located in the Warehouse District in Cleveland. The studio was chosen strictly based upon location- it is only 3 blocks from the hotel where I will staying the night before the wedding. When I was speaking with one of the receptionists on the phone, she decided to set me up with the amazing Dena to do both my hair and makeup.

For the hair, I just wanted a simple french twist. Dena graciously offered to take pictures of every angle of my hair, so that if I want something changed for the wedding, I'll be able to tell her exactly what I want done differently.

The back

Right side

Left side

Front, without makeup.

As far as makeup goes, I said that I really wanted my eyes to pop. I brought along my own mascara, as well as my own lip gloss so that she could see the sort of color that I typically wear.

Pretty makeup! That looks nothing like my prom makeup, thank goodness!

With my best friend.

Self portrait 12+ hours later, when I'm thoroughly exhausted. (With not great lighting. In my childhood bedroom. Yes, the walls really are purple.)

Looking at the pictures now, the couple of things that come to me is that I'd like the top of the french twist to be not quite as open, so that the view from the left side looks a little bit neater. I'd also like the hair on the right to be tucked in a little bit better, so it doesn't come out by the end of the evening.

Do you see anything that should be changed with my hair and makeup?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

dance with my dad

Calvin and I have been taking dancing lessons off and on for close to a year now, and have had such a good experience that my parents decided to take lessons as well. So when I was in Cleveland this past weekend, I went along with them to their dance lesson, and got to spend some quality time with my dad.

Getting a little help from Joel, my parents' instructor

We got this

A little spinning motion (from both us and the camera).

My dad and I spent most of the time practicing the foxtrot, which is what he and my mom have been working on the most. Since both of us have been taking lessons, we want to show off our skills on the dance floor at our wedding. But to what song? We need something from the 1940s or 1950s that is either big band music or music from the Rat Pack, which is what our band will be playing at the reception.

Anyone have any suggestions for a good dance song?

(And for those of you in Cleveland interested in taking dance lessons, I'd highly recommend that you check out Arthur Murray. Located in Mayfield off of I-271, the studio space is awesome and the dance instructors are really fun. And then you could dance with my parents :-) )

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

With a little help from my friend

I was a little nervous last week as my final dress fitting was quickly approaching, and while I love my dress, at the previous fitting in March, it had been snug. (Snug enough that I decided to have the seams let out just a little bit.)

So Friday morning, I actually went out and bought every pair of Spanx that might work under my dress at my favorite local department store. Power panties, Higher Power, Slim Cognito- I tried them all. And I also tried similar ones made by Wacoal and Bali. I'm talking about 9 or so pairs of these slimming sausage makers, coming in at the astounding price of nearly $500. Fear not, lest you think I'm spending almost as much on foundation garments as my dress- all are returnable with a receipt and the tags still on them.

I did a quick try on of all of the pairs just before leaving for my fitting, which led to the quick rejection of about 4 pairs, and one clear front-runner in the "slim my middle" contest.

At the salon, I tried on my dress, and it fit. Perfectly. Now, I'd like to attribute it to the fact that I've tried to watch what I eat, exercise a bit, and had the seams let out just a smidge, but that would be giving myself too much credit. No, the front-runner pulled through in an big way:

Spanx Hide and Sleek Strapless Full Slip

Slimming, smoothing, and actually pretty comfortable. With the added bonus that the slip design (as opposed to a bike short design) makes it fairly easy to utilize the facilities when nature calls.

What is your secret slimming undergarment?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shower Surprise!

No, I didn't have a surprise shower- living in Michigan with a wedding in Cleveland, it would not have been possible for the shower planners to make it a surprise shower.

Instead, my mom (and Calvin) conspired to bring a shower surprise. I drove into town on Friday for a dress fitting, with a hair and makeup trial and shower on Saturday. I was up late chatting with my parents, but decided around midnight that it was time to head to bed since the next day was going to be busy.

I call Calvin (as I typically do) as I crawl into bed, and he is Mr. Chatty that night- I assume that he was highly caffeinated and was up late playing video games, which he does from time to time when I'm out of town and he's home by himself.

And then my mom calls me to come downstairs. It's 1:15am. I'm exhausted, cold and in my pajamas. And who is there waiting for me?

Calvin, who'd driven in from Michigan to pick up my best friend (and maid of honor) in the whole wide world at the airport. She, who lives in Boston and told me that she wouldn't be able to make it into town that weekend. She, with whom I had been playing phone tag for over a month, and from whom on Thursday I received a voicemail saying that she'd try and talk with me on Saturday.

I was shocked. And speechless.

How have you been surprised in regards to your wedding?

Friday, April 4, 2008

The importance of text

I saw this column/post about the font used by Barack Obama on the campaign trail, and it got me thinking about the reasons why we chose the font that we did. The point in the column is that the Obama campaign's use of the font "Gotham" is strategic, and that it evokes certain feelings that other fonts don't. Like this:

Image found here.

Comic Sans is too silly, Times Roman is too serious, but Gotham is just right. (Goldilocks, anyone?)

This got me thinking about our own fonts that we considered using for our wedding invitations (and other paper goods).

From top to bottom: Bickham Script Pro Semibold, Vladimir script, Penman Script, JaneAusten and Tagettes. All either standard on MS Windows, or available at

Tagettes just seemed perfect to us- not too loopy and formal, yet not too informal either. And a little bit of a vintage flair.

What fonts are you using in your wedding stationary?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Popularity contest

There's a bit of a popularity contest running right now between the registries. (And no, I haven't peaked.) Dillard's is single handedly destroying the competition, as it seems that most people thus far greatly prefer shopping at Dillard's over Williams-Sonoma or Crate and Barrel.

My explanation for that? It's a generational thing. People in my parent's generation much prefer to shop at traditional department stores, whereas our friends would be much more likely to go to Crate and Barrel.

And popularity items? China wins, hands down. Confirming the observation by Calvin's mom and her dear friend, people just love giving a 5 piece place setting. (Maybe it helps that our china pattern is priced at the totally-reasonable-for-china price at $70/place setting. But it's so pretty)
Gratuitous china picture from here.

What registry have you found to be the most popular?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

So about my skin tone...

Right now, my skin is a nice shade of pale. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm looking to add a little bit of color to my skin prior to the wedding. Normally, I'd go about this in a "normal" way, like going out on walks wearing a tube top, but the weather here in Michigan is cold and/or gray.

So self-tanners, Mystic Tan, or tanning beds would be the way to go, right? The only thing is, I'm terrified with looking like this:

Jessica Simpson in 2005; courtesy of Go Fug Yourself and Daily Celeb.

She looks scary. Really scary. And not at all what I want to look like at our wedding.

Are you planning on tanning prior to your wedding? Anyone have a favorite product or technique they'd like to recommend (or advise staying away from)?