Monday, March 31, 2008

Review of Venue #1

Mr. T and the MOH and I went to tour our first potential venue this weekend. It's a beautiful old building not too far from where Mr. T and I live. Unfortunately my camera died within the first 5 minutes (dumb uncharged battery!), so you'll have to take my word on its charms. [NOTE: Edited to add some photos I grabbed off the internet.] Here's the breakdown.

  • Built by Julia Morgan at the same time Hearst Castle was built, so it's called "Julia's Little Castle." Has charm coming out of its proverbial ears. Gorgeous architecture and furnishings, very suited to a Halloween wedding.

  • Lots of good photo ops, both indoors and out (see bullet #1).
  • Multiple choices for ceremony sites, including a library. I think I squealed when I saw it, but Mr T would need to confirm that, b/c I don't remember.

  • It's attached to a hotel, so it would be super easy for out of town guests, and they'd get a discount rate. I love that the out of town guests would get to stay in a building that is so very representative of our area. It has nice local flavor.

  • The coordinator was very nice and had helpful suggestions about how we could arrange the wedding. She took us on a tour of the whole building, including showing us two of the hotel rooms.
  • Not as much DIY as some of the sites we're considering. They do all the setup and breakdown for you. I can't tell you how appealing that sounds.
  • We can drop things (decorations, for example) off early, instead of needing to do everything in our rented block of time, like some of the sites require.
  • It's in our price range.
  • People could take BART if they wanted to--it's walkable from a BART station, and our reception would have to end by 11, so guests could easily make the last train.
  • They do have black and orange table linens, provided at no extra cost, so we could totally do up the Halloween theme.

  • We're not sure how good the food is going to be, and the only option is using in-house catering. We can do a free tasting only after we've put a deposit down, or we can come for dinner one night in the dining hall and pay for dinner. I think we'll do the latter (the deposit is nonrefundable).
  • Out of town guests, depending on how high maintenance they are, might not find the hotel as charming as we do...some of the carpets do need cleaning, and there are no TVs in any of the rooms. It's definitely an old building.
  • This is the big problem. It's right by campus, and Fall is football season. If there's a home game that day, there will be NO parking for our guests around the site. I'm not sure when the game schedules come out, either, so we could potentially need to book the site before we knew, leaving us scrambling either for another venue or for parking options (reserving a lot further away and shuttling guests in, for example. $$$$).
I know this is silly, considering we haven't seen anything else yet, but I kinda fell in love with the site and want to make it work. However, we are going to rein in my overly decisive brain and tour at least 2-4 more venues.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bucking Tradition

It will be no surprise to you that I'm not going to go for a lot of the wedding day traditions. As I've told Mr. T, this is our day, and it should be about us. He wasn't sure if he wanted a ring or not, but felt that he needed one for the "mandatory" ring exchange on the day. I told him, "If you don't want one, don't get one. This is your wedding." Ultimately he decided he'd get a ring, but an inexpensive one, and he'd only wear it sometimes. (I teased him, "You know, women look at men's hands..." He said dryly, "Believe me, they're not beating down my door now, and I don't have a ring." I told him I didn't believe it.)

Here are the things I'm pretty sure we aren't going to do on the day:

  • No white dress for me.
  • Probably no veil for me (unless I find a fabulous red lace mantilla veil that I must have).
  • No diamond ring for me.
  • No tux for Mr. T.
  • No flowers in the reception hall (I'll post about decor later). I will carry a bouquet though, which brings me to...
  • No bouquet toss. It's my bouquet, I want it! Also, why humiliate the women at the reception with this horrible game? "Okay, all the losers...I mean single women...come up here and scrabble desperately...I mean try to catch the bouquet." No thanks. My single ladies are gorgeous and fabulous and I love them. I was thinking of having my bouquet made into a painting, actually. I like the idea of keeping it in our household, but in a nontraditional way.
  • No garter toss. I actually found a few cute Halloween garters (below), but again, I think it's really in poor taste to have your groom all up in your business while your friends and family watch. WTF?

  • Not getting married in a church. We're happy heathens.
  • Non-traditional officiant. We don't know who will be our officiant, but they will likely be ordained by the Universal Life Church.
  • Photos taken before the ceremony. Actually, we haven't officially decided this yet, but I think it's hard on the guests to be left cooling their heels while you're doing a photo shoot. So I'm going to push for a pre-ceremony shoot. My brother and sister-in-law did this and I thought it was brilliant.
And of course there's the most non-traditional part of all of this, which is that we're having a Halloween costume wedding.

We haven't decided what we're going to do about other traditions, such as the first dance. I suggested to Mr. T that we learn the "Thriller" choreography and do that as our first dance. He laughed and started doing the infamous zombie dance part (you know the one), which made me laugh. See? He makes me laugh.

We will definitely have guest favors, but with our own spin on it.

I do like the "something old, new, borrowed, and blue" tradition, so I think I will keep that one. Apparently the original saying ended, "And a sixpence for your shoe" (for luck), but no way am I putting a coin in my shoe. I would like to incorporate a sixpence another way, if I think of a suitable idea.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't mind doing the "cake cutting" with our cupcakes. There will be NO smashing of cake into the face, however. (Mr. T, are you reading this?)

I like the idea of bride and groom gifts--stealing a sweet moment the day of or night before the ceremony to give each other a thoughtful gift. Speaking of that, some of the brides on the blogs have mentioned stealing a little time alone together directly after the ceremony (like 10 minutes or so) to let the impact of being married sink in, and have some alone time, before joining folks at the reception. I like that too.

I'm excited to create something that reflects us! I hope our guests will enjoy it too.

Picking a Theme: Pros and Cons

The Halloween theme is an obvious choice for our wedding, since we want it to be on Halloween (10/31/09 will be our 12th anniversary of being together!), and we'd like our guests to come in costume and enjoy a fun Halloween party with us.

This is a relief because we don't have to agonize over what "our colors" will be, etc. In many ways, we're ahead of ourselves.

However, I notice myself being tempted as I look at other wedding blogs (WeddingBee, I blame you) and see other themes. They are trying to seduce me away. Halloween, I'll be true to you, I swear! The turquoise and red theme, she meant nothing to me (although I love those colors together)! And the Scrabble theme will never be brought up again (but oh, how clever!), nor will the antique typewriter theme (sigh!).

One thing that the Weddingbee brides with long engagements have mentioned is that the long engagement gave them time to second-guess their decisions. I'm not normally like that--I'm pretty decisive as a general rule. But I could see how having a lot of time would be bad in that way... I guess this is a continuation of my last post, in fact!

Halloween, I love you! But that doesn't mean I can't still look, does it?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

There are many benefits to having a long engagement:
  1. We can save money at our own pace, so we don't go into debt for our wedding (Mr. T is adamantly against any debt).
  2. We have a lot of time to research ideas and vendors, so that we get exactly what we want within our budget.
  3. Hopefully, we'll be a lot more relaxed during the process of planning it, instead of feeling rushed and panicky--for example, if we do DIY our invites, we can do a few at a time, so we don't get sick of it.
  4. We can give out of town folks a lot of notice about when the big day is (once we get the venue, that is), so they can book their travel.
  5. We can go to friends' weddings this year and next and take notes about what we like.
  6. If I got off my butt and into the gym, I could theoretically lose weight for the all-important day of wedding pictures.
  7. Half-off decorations after this year's Halloween!
However, there's a downside, too. No matter how much research I do, it's still all just theoretical. We are not making any decisions right now; it's way too soon and we don't have a venue yet. So it feels a bit like "hurry up and wait!" It's been 10 and a half years, and as I told my belly dance teacher last night, "I'm ready!!"

I know things won't really ramp up until this Fall at earliest, but I'm antsy.

For no reason at all, I leave you with a photo of a wedding dress made out of condoms. I guess that's one way to have a budget dress! Although, how much would 13,000 condoms cost? Can you buy those in bulk?


I took my vehicle in for service and picked it up today to the tune of $925. Oof.
Before I get tons of responses recommending mechanics, thank you, but I adore mine. They are fair, they don't talk down to me, and they aren't running a scam to bilk me out of my hard-earned pennies. Mr. T likes them too and says he doesn't even feel like he needs to go into the office with me to stand there and look threatening.

Regardless of how nice they are (they always tell me what has to be fixed, what would be nice to fix, and what I don't have to worry about if I don't want to), I still needed a major service, a new battery (I still had the original from when I bought it), and my front brakes redone, so what I thought would be a $200 expenditure rapidly quadrupled.

Not that I don't have the money, but there are a few other places I would rather have spent it!

Well, of course I concede that it's very important to have working brakes and a reliable battery, but you know what I mean. I just have to keep telling myself that this is a temporary setback.

Deep breath.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If You Want to Be a Dancer

Almost forgot, here's a passage I really liked from Signed, Mata Hari:

"If you want to be a dancer, practice for hours holding your arms up high, your hands above your head. Walk that way down the street, sleep that way at night, ride your horse that way, read the paper that way, the paper, of course, spread out on a table. Shake your head at the terrible news printed that day: 144,000 French killed to date. When the zeppelin ships sail overhead and drop their bombs, maintain your pose. You are a dancer. Simply shake your hands of the dust and plaster chips that have fallen down from the cracks newly made in the ceiling. Try not to miss opportunities. Think about incorporating this hand shaking movement into one of your dances."

It's true about keeping the arms up, by the way. Elbows up, ladies!

Review of Signed, Mata Hari

Not that you were asking, but here's what I thought of my second library book (the first being a book club title that none of us ended up it was a great time to get a library card--I didn't have to spend my money on it!).

I'm not sure if it was the juxtaposition of the bad book club book or not, but I thought Signed, Mata Hari was well-written--the language was lovely and the novel felt dream-like. Perhaps too dream-like, but I'll get to that. It was also pretty sad--she didn't have the best life.

The novel proposes that Mata Hari (born Margaretha Zelle) was actually a victim of circumstance and not a spy at all. The dreaminess of the novel made it hard for me to relate to her. At times she seemed very childlike, at times flat out insane. Her husband was painted as a drunken adulterer, yet when he writes a letter to his sister in the novel and says that his wife is like a child and he can't trust her with the kids, I kinda agreed with him.

The book has lots of sex, what with her being a famous courtesan and all, so if you don't like that, I wouldn't read it. In the novel she seems to just go where the wind blows her into bed with no feelings at all behind it. Perhaps that's what bothers me; it's as if the author couldn't imagine what Mata Hari would be feeling, or didn't want to presume to imagine it, so the reader is deprived the opportunity to step into the book fully. At the end of the book, before she's shot (no spoiler there, you can look her up on Wikipedia), she says that death is like coming out on the other side of a cloud, and the book itself feels like it's wrapped in a cloud, or a veil.

Regardless, I think it was worth reading, and I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed learning more about her. I've sprinkled photos of her in her fabulous and scandalous costumes throughout.

I read some article about Dita Von Tease being cast in a Mata Hari biopic. I'd see that. I love Dita.

Next up on the library list: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni. It's supposed to be a retelling of the Mahabarata.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why I'm marrying Mr. T

Hey all,
This blog has been a lot of me, me, me and money, money, money, so I thought I'd do a post on what truly matters here: the love, man, the love.

Here are a few of the bazillion reasons why I'm marrying my sweetie:

1. His great taste in gold chains and mohawks (just kidding. I'm not marrying that Mr. T, silly).

Okay, the real list:

1. He's easy on the eyes.

2. He's a smartie pants.

3. He makes me laugh.

4. He's got style. Given limitless amounts of money, I bet he would have more pairs of shoes than I would.

5. He has good taste in music.

6. He will not only watch chick flicks with me, he says he enjoys them. Our fave movie is When Harry Met Sally.

7. He loves animals.

8. He likes my friends.

9. He puts up with me when I'm in a cranky mood without ever getting cranky back at me.

10. He wants to make me happy. And he does.

11. He inspires me to try to be a better person.

I feel very lucky to know Mr. T. I can't wait to be Mrs. T!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled snarky and angsty bridal posts...

Stand Up Straight, Girl!

Recently MTV has been running marathons of "America's Next Top Model," so I've had some Sundays that involved sitting on the couch, spending hours in the company of Miss Jay and Tyra. (I rationalize this downtime by saying, I belly dance, I go to the gym (uh, sometimes, hopefully more frequently in the upcoming months), I walk to work, I read, Mr. T and I hang out, I have brunch/dinner/tea/drinks with friends, I'm in a book club, I play Mah Jongg with friends once a month...I have a plenty enriched life. Therefore, occasional binges on MTV = not so terrible, right? right?)

Anyway, I love ANTM for both the petty drama and also because I love seeing the outlandish makeup and outfits and the crazy on-location photo shoots. I try to take notes for belly dance. I'm still working out what "smiling with my eyes" entails. Recently I even paused and rewound an episode (thank you, digital cable) so I could take a photo of the television because the model had great eye makeup.

One of the things Tyra told one of the model hopefuls is that she poses differently for men's and women's magazines. For men, she faces the camera straight on; for women, she poses to the side in these artistic angular hunchy poses. Now, I appreciated that in theory, but I'm not loving it so much as I look at dresses, both online and in magazines. Did everyone study at the Tyra Banks school of modeling? Yes, it looks arty, but it's kinda hard to actually see the dress when the model is so hunched over--like, what does the middle look like? Is there a sash? beading? pleats? How does it hang? You got me! To prove my point, I'd like to present the following evidence:

Another model pose seems to be the extreme lean back, with pelvis angled far forward. It's also awkward looking, but I prefer it to the slouching:

Crazy Bride Spreadsheet

I found a budget spreadsheet through Indiebride that makes me look like a poseur. It has a tracking sheet for how much you need to save, accounting for how much you started with and how many months you have left to save, with formulas calculating the total with each deposit or payment entry. That's just the first tab.

The second tab has the wedding budget, with every line item accounted for (I had forgotten all about postage!). There's an "estimated" column and and "actual" column and a "money spent to date" column and all sorts of other columns.

The next tab is for misc. ideas, as far as I can tell.

Then there's the tab to keep track of vendor contact info.

After that are the guest list tabs, the seating chart tab, the floorplan tab (yes, she really created a floorplan using Excel, here's a screen capture below), the to-do list tab, the legal changes tab, the flowers tab, and the gift tracker tab.

Why do all that work to come up with some lame-ass spreadsheet when some detail-oriented bride has already done the work for me? I showed it to Mr. T last night and said, "you thought I was crazy..."

Last night I was reworking our budget in the beautiful new spreadsheet and reluctantly came to the conclusion that we need to increase it, at least until we book a venue and get more accurate costs for things. For example, I have no idea what to budget for alcohol. We were thinking of serving just beer, wine, and champagne, but Mr. T's coworker suggested having a cash bar for other types of alcohol. Has anyone been to a wedding with a cash bar? Did you think it was tacky? This way I could have them make a signature drink for the evening, like a pumpkin martini. Otherwise there's no way we can pony up for hard alcohol--we know how you all like to drink! ;-)

I did a funny thing with the postage, where I was calculating it without putting in the decimal point, so I ended up with like $3600 for postage. I was having a mini heart attack until Mr. T figured out my mistake. I know it's hard to believe, but I took (and passed) college-level Calculus! Well, it's been awhile since then, apparently!

More Ring Porn

We found the ring!

I'm just kidding. This is NOT my ring. I was browsing through M.S. Rau Antiques' site, and they have some crazy antique jewelry. This one is a 15.73-carat sapphire. Yes, FIFTEEN. I don't think I could lift my hand while I wore it.

Also, I sorta liked this one, although it goes against everything I said I didn't care for: diamond, gold, etc.'s a pink diamond. And it's rose gold. Regardless, there's no way I'm owning it, because on a site that unabashedly advertises $150K rings, this one is "Price upon request." Actually, so was the sapphire.

I don't know when we'll really look for the ring. In a few months, I think. I'm considering having it made by a friend of a friend if we can't find just the right thing.

Red Dress Redux

I'm reconsidering the whole train idea, partially because I can't imagine that all those yards of fabric will be affordable, and partially thanks to Candy Anthony, who is responsible for this sweet little number:

I think it's called "ballerina length"? Anyway, it feels retro and quirky and sweet. I like the idea of wearing crinoline underneath. Also, I could dance in it, which is a plus. I'll have to ask my dressmaker what she thinks will look good on my figure. I can see that this might be flattering for my waist, but might make me look bigger otherwise. Or, it might be fine, I dunno (this is why I'm not on Project Runway...).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wedding Costs ad nauseum

I apologize in advance for this, but this blog will probably focus on costs as much as it does the fun of creating an awesome Halloween wedding party or the excitement of finally getting married to my best friend/sweetie of 10+ years.

I was telling one of my book club girls last night about how I'd had very grand ideas about our wedding until I actually sat down with a spreadsheet and started pricing vendors online.

And then, to cement that thought, on Weddingbee I found a link to a wedding cost calculator, where you enter your zip code and it tells you the cost of the average wedding in your area. Now, I don't know where they get these figures from, but supposedly the average cost of a wedding in our town is $31,390! That's crazy! I thought $20K was ridiculous!

Mr. T's coworker is getting married this Fall, and his budget is $5K less than ours. I told Mr. T, "I want to see that budget." How on earth did they manage? I know that my dress is a little over the top for a budget wedding, but it's my dream dress and I feel quite attached to it already. Also, I imagine that Mr. T's coworker didn't put the rehearsal dinner in his budget, which I did. I have no idea where we're going for that, but that's a subject for another post.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wedding 'Do

About 10 months ago I had my hairstylist cut off 12-13 inches of hair, and I donated it to Locks of Love. I don't regret that decision, but once I realized that shorter hair = blowdrying it into some semblance of a style every day = my hair getting fried, I remembered why I grew my hair out in the first place.

I'm in the process of growing my hair out again. It's just below my shoulders now. It doesn't grow very fast, though, so I'm not sure how long it will be by 10/31/09. I would love an updo, though--so glamourous, and something I can never quite manage myself without arm fatigue, copious amounts of swearing, and 1 billion bobby pins...and then it only stays up for a bit before it falls again. So I'd like to have a pro give me an updo for my wedding.

I've been googling updo styles. The classic is of course the Breakfast at Tiffany's 'do, which I love:

I found one on the Knot that claims to be an "Audrey updo," but it looks simpler and not as beautiful:

This one is similar, but I like it more. I also like the tiara, but we'll get to that...

This one looks crazy big! It's hard to tell if it looks cool and dramatic or just ridiculous, since she's got her head bowed:

This style is sweet and soft yet still elegant. However, since it's me, I imagine it would start falling in about 15 minutes (unless I want to shellac my head).

This french twist is really sweet and I COVET her hair color. Really, why have I never dyed my hair pink? I've had purple, blue, red ("natural" red and manic panic red), brown, black, blond...I can't imagine why I skipped pink.

I don't think I'm going to wear a veil. I'd consider a half/mini net veil, though. This one is really cute:

More likely, though, I will have flowers in my hair. These are lovely (this is the bride and groom from that Day of the Dead wedding with the zebra Elvis cake):

Here's the back of that style, it is so intricate (and again, pink!):

I love feathers too, so some sort of feather/flower accessory could be cool, like this one:

I've also been pondering the tiara issue. Obviously the Breakfast at Tiffany's hairstyle cries out for a tiara. I think I'd want one with red stones, though, to match the dress. I found this one, but it's $180:

And then I found this one for $40, but of course I don't like it as much:

Every woman deserves to feel like a princess on her wedding day, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Venue #1!

So, Mr. T, the MOH and I are going to tour the first venue on our list on 3/29! It's official. I'm excited to get rolling.

I figure we'll see three of our top choices and then evaluate if we'd like to keep looking. I have four thick folders of venue choices, separated by geographical region. Mr. T looked at me sorting the pages and pages of venue printouts into folders and said, "I'm so not worried about our wedding."

I called another venue--their website says they have open house on Tuesdays from 1-8 pm, or you can call to make an appointment to see it another time. I called (since Mr. T typically just gets home from work at 8 pm!) and the guy told me, "no, you have to come during the open house." Um, so why does the website say you can make an appointment???!!! I have a feeling this is going to be one of many frustrations in this arena. Venues seem to have a lot of rules.

Ah, well, hoping for the best and trying to keep a positive attitude...we have a long ways to go!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ze Cake

One thing I am absolutely looking forward to is cake tasting. Mmmmcake.

Mr. T and I enjoy watching Ace of Cakes every week. Duff is lovable and funny and the cakes are crazy (I loved the Harry Potter/Hogwarts cake they did this season!). I don't think we could afford Duff, but obviously you could do really fun things with a Halloween-themed cake, such as:

How awesome is this cake (thanks Offbeat Bride!)? Zebra stripes, sugar skulls, and Elvis! Check out the rest of this couple's wedding pix on Flickr (mmmcheetah shrug).

The above cake was apparently the BPAL founders' wedding cake. I just love their perfume oils (I have been wearing Snake Oil every day since I got it!) and I also enjoy the goth descriptions of the perfume oils. I could get lost on their website.

However, as tempting as it is to create a decadent Halloween multi-tiered cake, I think we've decided to go with cupcakes, for a couple of reasons:

1. More flavors! You could have 2 or 3 flavor options available. Yes, you could theoretically have each tier of your cake a different flavor, but that leads me to reason 2:

2. Cheaper! Cakes run $4-6 a slice (or more), and the venue typically charges a cake-cutting fee on top of that, whereas cupcakes are $2.50-$3.50 each (no cake cutting necessary).
They are also really a no muss, no fuss dessert. You eat them with your hands, they're fun, they're portable...mmmm cupcakes. I'm a fan. I was thinking Devil's Food and a pumpkin/spice flavor. Mr. T likes lemon. I'm not sure if we're doing two or three flavors yet. I have been looking into cupcakeries and I've found:

Love at First Bite (you have to pay for your tasting, though! How gauche. Also, their prices are higher than other places, in general)


American Cupcake (their website is hilarious--the tagline is "the donut is very scared".) They have "puffy" frosting:

Delessio (a deli, but they make cupcakes)

That Takes the Cake

La Farine (it's not on their menu, but someone said they make cupcakes. I adore their regular cakes)

Crixa Cupcakes

Whiskie Bits (exotic flavors; on the expensive side, though)

Kara's Cupcakes (I've actually had one of these before, and they are yummy. These are on the expensive side, though. They seem to be nickel-and-diming folks for every design choice.)

Sharlene's Babycakes (Their website is not very detailed, but I do like the tagline, "A Little Bit O Naughty to Make You Feel Nice.")

11. Sibby's Cupcakery, creator of these lovelies:

12. Debbie Does Cakes (the name is um, an odd choice, but her prices are the lowest I've seen, $2 each for basic cupcakes. If we stayed basic. However, due to her "busy schedule" she won't do tastings for cakes that serve fewer than 150 guests. Hmph. Of course, I bet if she's that busy, her cakes are that good.)

13.Noe Valley Bakery, creator of these adorable cupcakes, complete with individual toppers! Plus, their prices seem good, about $2.25 each:

A friend recommended that I just say that the cupcakes are for a Halloween party, so I don't get gouged on the special wedding rate ripoff prices. I might do that.
Mr. T asked me, "Won't you miss doing the whole cake-cutting thing, where we feed each other?" I told him we could cut a cupcake in half and do it that way. I'm not worried about it.

I am wondering about cake toppers, though. We could try to do toppers on every cupcake, like the NVB ones above, or we could have toppers just on two cupcakes at the top of the tier, or we could have toppers just standing among the cupcakes on the top tier, if the toppers are big enough. There are some pretty excellent options for Halloween cake toppers.

We could do Day of the Dead figurines:

Or, I found these gothy cake toppers (they're expensive, though, like $180!!!):

Bats (lighted!):

Skeletons (I like the "Love Never Dies" part. But is that skeleton giving the other one tongue? Ew.):

Caskets (Again, nice "Till Death Do Us Part"):

Or (and this is the best) We could get cake toppers made to look like us (and I just LOVE that they used Pierce Brosnan as the sample):

On Offbeat Bride they did a feature on a couple who had Han and Leia figurines as their cake toppers. That's awesome:

An unexpected expense is that if you want cupcake tiers, you need to rent or buy the tiers. I need to think about this a little (and do pricing, obviously). Most bakeries will rent tiers and do the set up for you, which is appealing. We could also hit up Goodwill for used ones, for a more organic (read: haphazard, unmatched) effect, but then we'd need to get rid of the things afterward. Mr. T also thought maybe his mom has something we could use, which would be great. I like free!