Sunday, February 28, 2010

To Pair... or Not to Pair

Like most couples, there are a few fundamental things Big and I disagree on. I'm going to let you in on one of them.


Big believes socks should be paired. I do not. Houston, we have a problem. 

First of all, I only wear white ankle-length athletic socks. No exceptions. So to me, what's the point? Why should it matter if one ankle sock is Target brand and the other is Hanes? Therefore, I save myself the time and anxiety of pairing socks. It's incredibly frustrating to take the time to pair socks to only have one missing. Where does it go? Was it lost before it went in the wash? It did the laundry gremlins eat it? To me, the angst isn't worth it. I'd rather fish through a drawer to find a "match" or just wear two slightly different but very similar socks.
Big and I occasionally help each other fold our respective laundry. Until this point, I've sat with my fingers crossed and told him I wouldn't pair his socks until we're married. As a dutiful "wife in training" -- as I like to call myself -- I've softened a teensy bit. For example: just yesterday, I helped him with the dreaded task while I recovered from an 18-mile run on his couch. But he'll never get me to cross to the dark side. 

What are the silly things you and your significant other disagree on?  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adventures in Invitations

Please allow me me preface this post with the following:
  • I know they are just pieces of paper. 
  • I know most will end up in a wadded ball in the trash. 
  • I know guests will attend regardless of how they look. 
Still, I'm having the most difficult time finding invitations that matches the look and feel of our wedding and is the price I want to pay -- especially since we're planning to max capacity at our venue (250 persons), i.e., we'll need at least 100 invitation sets.

Read between the lines: everything I like is hilariously expensive.

See Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

(Whoa blurry picture. Click here)

Exhibit D:
 (Source: Wedding Paper Divas)

I found myself feeling a lot like Goldilocks. Too much of this, not enough of that. Nothing that was quite right. Things were getting out of control. And Big kept saying some form of the following: "Are you STILL looking at wedding invitations" or "You've been looking at invitations for the past two hours?!"

I started to think, am I talented enough to design my own? Likely not. Could I find and afford a graphic designer and have them printed on my own? Probably, but where to start?

Enter Etsy. Oh, Etsy. How I love thee.

While perusing Etsy a few days ago, I noticed the "Custom" tab at the top of the page that directed me to "Alchemy." I present:

Alchemy is a space on Etsy where buyers can post requests for custom items. Sellers then bid on the opportunity to make the item and win the sale. It's your opportunity to collaborate with a crafter or artisan to get exactly what you're seeking. Buyers can even make private requests to a specific seller within a shop.

Oui! Oui! Oui!  

I can pick an "inspiration design," have an Etsy artist create the knock off and have them printed and cut it for pennies at the InstaPrinting store on the first floor of my building (yes, this has been confirmed!). Joy!

I'm feeling pretty smug about the solution I've found... and the money we'll save (slash transfer to other areas of the wedding)!

Which of the above invites do you like best? Or, if you have a suggestion for a professional and affordable graphic designer, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Engagement Photos Inspiration: Part I

We're taking our engagement photos in Chicago this spring.... and I. can't. wait!

I've slowly been collecting visual inspiration. So gather round, for installment numbero uno of Chicago engagement photo eye candy: the skyline. Seriously, how could we leave this iconic view out of the shot list?

Let's start with the facts. It's 100% gorg. The breaktaking view of the ever-so-dominant John Hancock Building, with the Drake Hotel peeking out just in front of it, never ceases to amaze me. Add your pick of crashing waves or a sea of glass, sunshine or night sky and leaves or bare trees, and what have ya got? The perfect backdrop for romance, no?


No worries. My head is spinning with other ideas for our photos. I'll be back with stop #2 on this journey before long!

In the meantime, feel free to leave your suggestions...!

Sources: Photos #1-2 from Amy Carroll Photography;  Photos #3-7 from Wedding Story Studio; Photo #8 from Angel Eyes Photography

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Sisters, My World

"If I paid for my friends, I sure didn't pay enough." - Anonymous

(personal photo)

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with ten sorority sisters from college. I'm fortunate enough to have two living just down the road, but the rest are scattered across the country. One friend flew in from Maryland; another took a plane from Ohio. The rest drove or trained in from Michigan. It was one of the first times we've all been together without husbands, fiances and boyfriends in years.

Gone are the days when we lived in our house together or saw each other multiple times per week. I miss waking up to a sister eating breakfast in the kitchen, gathering in another sister's bed for a marathon TV session and the getting-ready-for-a-night-out craziness that occurred at least twice a weekend. (Note: Weekend = Thursday to Sunday.) This weekend, we ate, we shopped, we drank, we gossiped and traded notes on other college friends, we ate and drank some more and just spent time being silly together. It was divine and fabulous, and I'm going to be upset next weekend when six of my sisters aren't sitting on my bed while another curls her hair or rummages through my closet and the rest blare music from the living room. The weekend came at a time when I desperately needed quality girl time and a fun night out, and I'm incredibly thankful for it.

So much of our lives we spend waiting. I "couldn't wait" for this weekend. I vividly remember not being able to "wait" to move out of the sorority house, being anxious to graduate. Now, I would give my left arm to for our Thursday night routine: IM-ing with other sorority sisters about where we'd "predrink," finding the perfect outfit from someone's closet, heading over to a sister's apartment for pre-bar fun, calling 779-TAXI for a ride to the "The Pub" just before 11 p.m. -- and, once there, immediately purchasing three Long Island Ice Teas before the special ended -- closing the night out at "The Stone" and then making the very difficult decision to eat Jimmy John's or Papa John's. (Ok, that's a little drastic, but you get my point.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is... carpe diem! I personally need to stop saying, "I can't wait to get married" or "I can't wait until this work project is done" or "I can't wait until next weekend" and enjoy the very moment I'm living. As I head into another crazy busy, freezing cold week of work, marathon training, volunteering, wedding planning and so on, that's my goal.

Who's with me?  

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Mo' Pizza


Big and I have been eating a lot of pizza lately. I won't quantify the quantity or cost. It's way too embarrassing. 

So it was decided. No pizza for Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, today. Domino's (we use and love the pizza tracker), Sarpino's and Fogo 2 Go are really going to miss us.

Why do Catholics do this? In Lent, it's traditional to give up something(s) that we do a lot of and that we find pleasure in. This giving up or fasting is done for thrice reasons:
  1. A discipline for learning self-control, to free our minds from the chase after material things
  2. To identify with Christ's sufferings
  3. Serve as an act of sorrow for our wrongdoings

Sometimes we don't notice how certain things we do have gained power over us and dictate our actions; through Lent fasts, we discover these things and give them up so that God can be in charge. (Source: Spirit Home). I usually fair miserably at my Lenten offering, but I'm hopeful this year. My faith is stronger than it has been for awhile, and I feel a renewed commitment to make this sacrifice for the Lord. Furthermore, I'm not alone on my quest. 

What are you giving up for Lent?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let's Get Organized!

The day after Big and I got engaged, I limped (remember, I had run 26.2 the day before) to Borders and dropped a whopping $27 on wedding magazines. (Naturally.)

My mom (MOB) was just as bad, but more economical. With a bachelorette party in Michigan the following weekend, I'd previously planned to be home the weekend after our engagement -- three cheers to showing off the bling to family and friends! By Friday night, she'd rented eight library books on weddings/wedding planning

I mentioned everyone is really excited, right?

One book that she checked out from the library stuck: Emily Post's Wedding Planner. From the Web site: "a step by step guide helps couples set priorities, track details and smooth the way. An efficient, hands-on organizer, Emily Post’s Wedding Planner has space for jotting notes on cost estimates, meetings, gift lists, and registry information and handy pockets for filing receipts, invoices, menu samples, business cards, proposals and mementos from bridal showers and parties." MOB gave it to me for my birthday.

I'm using the book as more of a guide than the "hands-on organizer" it's meant to be. Still, I've found the timeline and questions for vendors (like I know what to ask a photographer) helpful and enjoyed crossing things of our pre-made to-do list!

I also recommend Real Simple Weddings.


It's a cross between a magazine and a planning guide, as it features advice, as well as pretty pictures of weddings/wedding things. One of the best pages in that book is a flower guide that includes the most popular wedding flowers, their colors, how they are best used and when they are in season. This is uber-helpful to me, as I know I'll need to be creative with blooms given our December nuptials!

In addition, I picked up a larger-than-average accordion folder to organize contracts, business cards, photos, inspiration, etc. Tabs include wedding/pre-cana, ceremony, wedding party, bride (!), photography/videography, etc. etc. It "lives" in my closet in an oversized purse where I stow other wedding treats, a legal pad, etc.
Finally, I have a few fancy, high-tech bookmarking systems: 
  1. Starred" posts in my Google Reader
  2. "Wedding" Bookmark folder... one at home, and one at work
  3. "Wedding" Tag in my Gmail account for correspondence with friends and family, as well as vendors
  4. Dog-earred pages in magazines
What do you think (other than I'm a freak)? Thus far, I haven't had any problems and been able to locate information easily and, for the most part, maintained my sanity.

How are you/did you stay organized for the big day? What advice do you have? I/we need all the help we can get!

Monday, February 15, 2010

HOLY @#$%^&*!?!!!!

Big the other night:

HOLY @#$%^&* you read a lot of wedding blogs!

Guilty as charged. The ever-growing list is to the right.

But for those with limited time and interest, here's the short list, aka the creme de 'la creme, based on four-plus months of market research:

Style Me Pretty
The ultimate wedding blog. That it is. Wedding eye candy to the max, multiple updates per day. Swoon!

etsy wedding
Links to extraordinary finds on (Love, love etsy....)

Green Wedding Shoes
So-Cal wedding inspiration. Buckets of inspiration and loads of beautiful photography.
Jessica Cornman Photography
Our photog. Seeing her works on a regular basis makes me even more excited to see the photos from our big day!

A massive blog written by real brides from around the country planning the big day. My one complaint? It's impossible to read them all! To streamline things, I skim through my reader and cherry pick for what I need/am looking for using the tabs. However, I always, always read every post by my favorite bloggers, Miss Buttons and Miss Ribbons. I've "starred" posts featuring DIY projects, hairstyles, Web links and other wedding inspiration from all brides on this site.

I'd also like to toss an honorable mention to Pearls Events Blog. A Michigan-based wedding planner, the site features wedding inspiration from the mitten state. I'm always excited to see what insight and advice she has to share!

Sure, there are a lot of wedding blogs in the uni-sphere. But these are my favs. 

What's on your "must-read" blog list?


I decided to change the name of my blog again. Why? Just because.

Third time's a charm, no? I think I finally have it right this time.

Enjoy! <3

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our Love


"How did you meet?" A common question. You know the answer.
"When did you know he was the one?" Hmmmmm. Good one!

I could tell Big was a good one out of the gates. In fact, I remember the first date report including the words "actually really impressed."

Still, I struggle to think of the exact moment I knew Big was "the one." I do, however, remember the first time we discussed marriage. I was 20 years old and Big was 22 years old. We had been dating for two years (in college years, eternity). It was the day final exams of spring semester ended, and Big and I were both moving home for the summer that afternoon.

While hanging out in his room, Big blurts, "Do you think we're going to get married?"

Me: I don't know, what do you think?

Big: Yeah, probably.

Me: Yea, me too.

End of discussion. No big deal, just like everything with Big (one of my favorite things about him). Henceforth, the "plan" was to stay together.

Conversations on this subject continued, but increased in severity and frequency this year.

Our relationship was in a really good place. We'd always discussed waiting to get engaged/married until we were established in our careers. This occurred: I was really hitting my stride at work, and Big's career path was solid. Moreover, he'd just been accepted into grad school.

We both grew up.

We became more responsible with our finances, and less frequently changed into our party shoes. We found and maintained a balance that makes us both happier, healthier human beings. We learned how to make time for friends, family and personal hobbies/passions, as well as "QT" with one another. We support one another and share the same goals, values and priorities. Yes, we bicker, but we apologize and make up. We love, trust and respect each other. We are best friends.

I am proud of our relationship. Through the course of five-plus years, we've transitioned from a summer fling to a functional, non-dramatic college relationship, to a grown-up, meaningful partnership that has the backing of friends, family and, as far as I know, the Big Guy upstairs.

So no, for us, there wasn't one "A-ha!" moment; rather, a steady, balanced, happy relationship that grew -- and continues to grow -- over time.

What about you? Did you have an "aha"-love moment? Or was your experience more similar to mine?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Wedding Love

Yes. I'm little crazy for planning a winter wedding in Michigan.

But you see, Big is in grad school year round, so we had... approximately three weekends... of the year we could get married AND go on a honeymoon right after. So, it was decided: December 18th it is! Yay! 

Luckily, I've wanted a winter wedding for quite some time, and Big is pretty agreeable. It's different than spring, summer and fall weddings, and with so many friends and family members also getting married this year, we thought it'd be nice to give everyone a break from the wedding circuit.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't wished our wedding was sooner or at another time of the year. December seems incredibly far away, and maybe I shouldn't have taken such a gamble on the weather?

But then, I see a wedding like this one from Michigan wedding planner Pearls Events and feel 100% satisfied with our choice. This wedding has it all: beautiful, natural decorations, gorgeous snow-covered streets, romantic winter candlelight, a wedding party decked out in black and white, wintry white flowers and a rustic/foresty feel. A look and feel that I hope know will be worth the wait.

I'm in lust... and crossing my fingers that our December 18th wedding is as gorgeous as this couple's wedding at the same time last year!

Anyone else out there having second thoughts about the day or time of their wedding?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ed & Jillian!

I was lucky enough to have a friend that passed shares a similar love for weddings and reality TV, namely ABC's Bachelor/Bachelorette. You can imagine how excited we were upon finding Ed and Jillian's engagement photos today!

Say what you want about this Chicago couple, but these photos are nothing but gorgeous! The lighting, their expressions, the adorable attire (loving her boots and hat!)... feast your eyes upon a few of my favorites: 


 Be sure to stop by Wedded Bliss Photography for more gorgeous photos of this couple and others!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010



For a good handful of days, I haven't quite been my happy-go-lucky self. I've been slightly grumpy. Tired. Annoyed. Irritable.

I'm sure most of this is due to the stress of planning a wedding and the life changes that come with it. But other factor are surely to blame. Could it be my demanding career and extra-curricular schedule that involves double-digit mile runs every weekend? What's more, it could be a few silent frustrations, general annoyances about people in my life, places and things, that I let crawl too far under my skin. As always, I could chalk my melancholy up to the weather, though I feel as patient as ever for spring. Either way, I've got that overall "off" feeling that's unfamiliar and unwelcome.

So what have I been doing about it? For one, spending a lot more time in the gym, burning agression during intense spinning classes or marathon sessions on the stair climber. Slowly working my way through a bottle of malbec. Thinking. Praying. Holding tight to my best friendships. For I know this too shall pass and, alas, it is. I'm starting to feel more like myself and sleeping better at night. Taking it easier on Big. Venting less, "letting it go" more. Seeing the silver lining. 

I have much in life to be thankful for -- beyond the basic food, shelter and warmth I take far too for granted -- I have loving friends and family. And I have faith.

Today, as always, that is enough.