Archive for August, 2012

So many wedding books, so little time!

Seriously.  Have you looked been to a bookstore lately and seen how many wedding planning and wedding etiquette books there are out there?  Hundreds.  Thousands.  It’s a little overwhelming!  A few weeks after Ben and I got engaged, I decided it was time to start thinking about details and thought that purchasing a wedding book would be helpful.  So I went to Barnes & Noble after work with the intention of buying one.  Simple, right?

My wedding planning book must-have list included:

  • Easy to read (I’m talking bullet points, not lengthy paragraphs)
  • A detailed timeline of when to accomplish wedding items (when the heck are you supposed to mail save-the-dates?)
  • Helpful tips

Well let me start by saying that I plan admissions events for a university.  I’ve never planned a wedding before, but I have a good idea of where to start because it seems pretty simple.  Following the logic of how I plan my work events, I know to start with the big-ticket items first (date, venue, vendors, etc.) and leave the small details for later (decor, etc.).  So while I’m not a complete events novice, I still have A LOT to learn about weddings (hence the need for a book).  All this being said, I was at Barnes & Noble for 2 and 1/2 hours!!

I had no idea what I was in for – so many of the books seemed incredibly simplistic.  Not helpful at all, really.  Think I’m being harsh?  It took me going through 4 or 5 books before I even found a wedding planning timeline, and I thought that was something pretty basic that all the books would include.  Obviously my expectations were a tad high.  Oops.

So I bought a Frappuccino and grabbed a table and a big stack of books.  In general I found a majority of them to be a little too “dated,” like I was planning a wedding in the 80’s instead of 2012, and many were too formal for the casual feel we’re after.  Some books spent as many as 30 pages on how to pick a venue.  Is that really necessary?

Anyway, I decided on a book called Wedding Planning Made Easy Featuring DIY and Green Wedding Tips from by Elizabeth and Alex Lluch.  Right away I noticed that it featured an extensive timeline (awesome) and was super easy to read.  I love that it includes great charts for making budgets as well as things I never would have DREAMED I would need, like how to address invitations (with multiple examples) and what to pack for the honeymoon.  Just going through the timeline gave Ben and I ideas of things we hadn’t considered yet.  We definitely consider it a good investment for the $12 (or so) that I spent.

Am I the only one out there who had this experience with wedding planning books?  And have any of you found any helpful wedding books you can recommend?  I’d love to hear about your experiences (and your book recommendations)!



August 22, 2012 at 2:12 am 2 comments

Yard sales are a girl’s best friend

So, I’ve been thinking about wedding decor for a while now, and it didn’t take me long to decide to go with the whole casual, country chic look.  For me, this means mason jars and other simple details.  I know that some are saying that the blue mason jar thing is “so last year,” but I just don’t care.  I’ve loved the look for years, and I’m using them at our wedding.  So there 🙂

I’ve searched the internet for blue mason jars and looked at antique/junk shops when I have the chance.  They are SO expensive in some places!  I swear, some people will pay anything. Not me!  I have a bad habit of wanting nice things but refusing to pay top dollar for them.  With our small wedding budget, we definitely can’t afford to pay $12 per mason jar…$2 per jar is much more in our price range.  I’ve found that if I’m patient, then I can get the blue mason jars I want at yard sales and estate sales – definitely worth the wait!

A little earlier in the summer, a friend and I went to a large community yard sale in our area.  It was seriously a yard-saler’s dream – park and walk to 5 or 6 different yard sales before driving to another street and starting all over again!  Amazing 🙂

Here’s what I found that day:

An old wooden box, a wooden organizer with a handle, 3 blue mason jars (small, medium, and large, $2 each), and an old milk bottle.  I think I spent about $16 on everything that day.  The plan is to use the glass pieces on the tables and use the wooden box and organizer in the reception area.  Pretty, and I’ve already used the largest mason jar and the milk bottle as vases for flowers that Ben surprises me with.  He’s pretty sweet like that 🙂

Do you all have any tips for finding hidden gems at yard sales?  I’d love to hear them!

August 14, 2012 at 2:31 am 2 comments

Isabella Claire

I  have the day off today, and shockingly, I’m spending my day watching the Olympics.  I am constantly inspired by the Olympians and the obstacles they have overcome to be successful.  I’m a little sad that my favorite Olympic sport, swimming, is finishing up.  As a former swimmer (just my neighborhood’s summer swim team – Go Sharks!) I could sit and watch heat after heat of swimmers and be a very happy girl.

Anyway, as I’m sitting at home, my cat Bella is keeping my company so I thought I’d introduce you to my sweet little pet.  She’s a pretty important part of my life and just don’t know what I’d do without her.  I adopted Bella almost 7 years ago when she was just about 6-7 weeks old, and we’ve done a lot of growing-up together.  Bella is short for Isabella Claire, and no I did NOT name her after Twilight’s Bella. It’s just a coincidence, I promise.  The first 2 photos are of Bella as a kitten, and Bella now.  She used to be so tiny!

Bells is a complete fraidy cat.  She hides whenever people come to the house, and it’s a HUGE deal when she mixes and mingles with people when they come to visit.  Ben had only seen her 3-4 times before we moved in together.  She’s a regular ‘ole domestic short hair, but I’m told that her father was a Siamese, which may explain why she’s bonded so strongly to one person (me) and why she likes to “talk.”  She also loves to hide in plain sight – mostly behind pillows and under chairs.

Bella loves to “help” me when I’m working on projects.  And by help, I mean that sometimes she gets into a little trouble playing with my project supplies.  The worst is when I’m working with ribbon and/or wrapping presents because she likes to be right in the middle of what I’m doing.  Most of the time this means sitting on my wrapping/tissue paper (see below).  Otherwise, she’s quite dainty – she steps over and around things.  I can’t remember the last time she knocked anything over or broke anything!

So that’s your introduction to my Bella.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of her – she’s just so darn adorable that I can’t help taking photos of her doing cute things!

I’ll be back soon with some updates – I’ve had some great luck at yard sales and estate sales lately.  Once I take the photos, I’ll post about my plans for what I’ve purchased!

August 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm 1 comment

And we have a venue!

So even though we weren’t officially engaged, Ben and I have been talking about getting married for at least 6 months.  It has been amazing to see how similar our views are on what we want our wedding to be.  As an event planner, I tend to be pretty meticulous about details and I knew a small wedding would mean fewer pesky details for me to obsess over focus on.  That, and I’ve always hated to be the center of attention – I shudder at the thought of standing in front of 100+ people.  Luckily Ben agreed to a smaller, more simple wedding, and we both like the idea of NOT spending $20,000.  Actually, our total wedding budget is more like $5,000.

Keeping a small budget in mind, it was pretty frustrating to find a venue for the ceremony + reception.  I have great colleagues who put up with me talking A LOT about this issue, and one of them (thanks Caitlin!) recommended a brewery about 40 minutes away.  I know what you’re thinking – A BREWERY?!?  But after doing some research, this place, the Blue Mountain Brewery, began to look like a major contender:  our ideal date was available; the rental fee was reasonable because it included lots of amenities; the event coordinator was really great to work with; and the food was delicious and affordable.  Oh, and Ben liked that it was a brewery 🙂 I have to tell you, this was major.  I really want him to be excited about our wedding location, and if it takes beer to make him love the venue, I’ll take it!

We went to visit, and here’s what we saw: a beautiful location for an outdoor ceremony, and a casually elegant indoor reception location.

Beautiful, right?  So we came home and talked about it and ultimately decided to put down a deposit!  For the record, I don’t care that our venue is a brewery.  I actually think it’s a beautiful place, and that’s all I really care about.  The beer doesn’t bother me in the least 🙂

Do you know of anyone who has gotten married at a brewery?  Or are we trail blazers in the wedding world?  🙂

August 2, 2012 at 3:29 am Leave a comment

Breaker box 911 – how to solve a decorating dilemma

So, I don’t know about everyone else, but I am officially addicted to the Olympics.  I record just about every event that airs, and then watch it at night – it’s become somewhat of a nightly routine here.  Poor Ben.  He’s learning more about swimming and gymnastics than he ever dreamed 🙂

So as I cheer on U.S. swimmers, I thought I’d share a project I devised to solve a decorating dilemma I encountered in my little studio apartment (where I lived before Ben and I moved in together).  As you see in the photo below, the builders installed two breaker boxes on the 1/2 wall across from my kitchen.  Just what I wanted to look at every time I cooked!

I tried placing artwork I already had over the metal boxes, but they were odd sizes, and one was longer than the other and showed from underneath the art.  The lack of symmetry was driving me crazy, so I decided to DIY some art panels to perfectly cover the boxes.  I measured and ruled out using canvases because they come in fairly standard sizes, and these boxes didn’t fit the pre-set dimensions.  Instead, I purchased a piece of foam core from Michael’s and found 2 coordinating fabrics that matched my living room decor to wrap around the foam core.

I used an X-Acto knife to cut right down the middle of the foam core to create two equal pieces and then ironed the fabric to remove any fold lines and wrinkles.  Then I wrapped each piece of foam core with the fabric, folding the fabric edges around the back like I was wrapping a present.

I used hot glue to secure the fabric to the foam core, and trimmed any excess fabric so that the panels would lay flat against the wall once hung.  I hot-glued an inexpensive plastic picture hanger to each (also purchased from Michael’s) and hung them over the breaker boxes.  They fit perfectly, covering every inch of the metal boxes.

One of the best things (in my opinion) about using foam core instead of  canvases is the price.  One piece of foam core cost about $5 for both panels, whereas 2 individual canvases probably would have cost double that.  The fabric cost about $7 and I already had the picture hangers and the hot glue.  The entire project for the two panels cost about $12 – not bad for customized art!

Have any of you had to get creative in order to work around a decorating dilemma?  I’d love to hear all about it!

August 1, 2012 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

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