Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A frock for my fella

On more than one occasion, CTE has shook his head at me and said "You are your own person."

I'd rather be in football cleats than heals, managing software seems easier to me than putting on makeup and Home Depot is hands down my favorite store. Now, I'm not a total slob or Tom Boy. I've been known to pull it together when I put my mind to it. But truth be told, my sweetie has seen me in more sweats than skirts. He knows that comfort rules over fashion for me any day. He swears I'm cute no matter what I'm sporting. But all the same, I try to get dolled up for him every now and then cause I know it sets his heart all a flutter. And can you believe that makes him look even CUTER?!?! Like he morphs into the Cutest CTE! Amazing, right?

When planning my wedding ensem, I have but one goal for 12.3 and that is to BLOW HIM AWAY when he first sees me. I'll settle for nothing less than instant tears, a knee buckle, and a bead of sweat on his super cute upper lip! *SIGH*

Besides that, I want my inner Diva to step out this one special night. I want a fun and sassy figure flattering gown that screams "Tonight's gonna be a good night" I want my Sweetie to know that I'm madly in love with him, honored to take his hand and purposed to enjoy the rest of lives together.

I think I found the perfect frock for the occasion...you'll have to check back to see if I blew his socks off. No preview pics here - just can't risk it. But if I was a betting man, I'd bet the house on this one :).


Monday, April 25, 2011

Third time's a charm

I don't mind telling y'all that Imma a take charge kinda girl. I hate to lose and coming in last is a tough pill to swallow for da K.I.D. But pulling up the rear has its advantages when you're playing the Wedding Planning Game. I mean, can you think of a more opportune time to learn from your buds? After they draw the winning ticket? Nah. After they eat that last piece of yummy goodness were eyeing? Nope! Being the last dog in the 2011 Race to the Altar has loads of bennies:

  1. Bird's Eye View of the Craziness - By the time we wrap up, we three merry lasses will have been in planning mode for nigh on two years! In that time, we've imagined grand plots and schemes of Royal proportions scaled to Georgian budgets, stealthily navigated the male aversion to planning, been twice burned by the Chinese Dress Barns, dealth with a challenging maiden or two, and braved a frightful number of Bridal Fairs. By the time my own planning began, I had a fairly decent list of Dos and Donts!

  2. 20/20 view in ForeSight - Yeah, I kinda made that one up but what I mean to say is, I don't have to wait until 12.4.11 to realize that some stuff just ain't worth stressing about. Having watched these gals fret or not fret and seeing the end result is a refreshing and constant reminder to not sweat the small stuff, kick back and relax, and just a make decision already cause in the end, it'll all come together for a beautiful day!

  3. Pick of the Venue/Vendor List - This is by far the absolute best perk of them all. Because Ladies RoBo and E=DC2 squared had blazed the trail before me, I have a wealth of very current and personal recommendations to glean from. I begin each of my "planning tasks" with a note to these two. Within no time, I am sure to have an advance starting point in my InBox. This has proven invaluable and has given my already impulsive self license to pull the trigger several times already.

  4. More fun than a girl should have - Ask any member of our circle of friends and you'll get the same answer "We have cried more and laughed more and loved more over the last year!" I've tried to keep a stiff upper lip but I've been the biggest baby punk of late. I should probably buy stock in Kleenex. The celebrations just keep on coming and it never fails that somebody tears up before the night is over. My manly pride aside, it has truly been a blessing to see the Happy Jar get passed around.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh, what fun we'll have!

What comes to mind when you think of a Southern wedding? Saying I Do under a graceful old oak tree against the backdrop of beautiful spring meadow? Or maybe a circle of loved ones gathered on a grand garden courtyard on a midsummer eve?

Yeah me too, but since since CTE and I are planning a winter wedding, our venue options were kinda limited - asking our guests to sit outside in early December was NOT an option. Sure, our winters grow wackier every year but a balmy December day is a pleasant (err unsettling in the larger scheme of our changing planet) surprise not a given. And I am looking to avoid any and all surprises on 12.3.11 - that is unless of course they are chocolate, shiny, sparkly or smell good!

With that said, CTE, I and some trusty elves set out researching venues. We relied upon personal recommendations and websites to identify our targets. The perfect place for us had to be budget friendly, allow outside food and drink, have plenty of room for the ceremony and reception (no or an unobtrusive flip), have a great location and most importantly have a responsive management staff (!GEESH! - shouldn't this be a given???). Neither of us likes to dilly-dally, so we readily ruled out the misfits and narrowed the places we wanted to visit down to two:

The Trolley Barn (TB) appeared to have loads of rustic charm just ripe for a "Color Purple/Juke Joint" theme. The space was wide open with loads of potential. Lambert Place (LP) offered a cosmopolitan vibe with its lounge area scoring major bonus points with its separate ceremony and reception areas.

But when it came down to visiting, we never even made it to TB. The place is only open for visits from 10 am til 1 pm (or something like that) M-F and on the weekend by appt only. CTE and I have tricky schedules so we couldn't readily fit this into the plan. We were easily able to visit LP one afternoon and it was love at first sight!

Save for not allowing outside food, the place had everything we wanted. So a few days later, we signed on the dotted line! Wahoo!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No China Direct for Me

So... its confession time.  I had to wait a few weeks (ok, months) before I told this story, it was just TOO FRESH and TOO REAL for me to tell before I got to the very end.  In several moments of insanity, I decided to save my bridesmaids money, and have their dresses ordered from China.  From the first attempt that my buddy, Sssh... and I went out to look at dresses, my eyes fell on this dress that was just adorable.  Bari Jay #108.  It was a one-shoulder display of Japanese-inspired, kimono like wonderfulness.  But, I had a few reservations about ordering from Bari Jay.  Their color wheel was not as diverse as I wanted it to be, the sizes of the dresses stopped lower than I needed them to, etc.  So, thanks to the power of Google, when I was searching for the dress online to share with some pals, I kept coming across a few sites that were not Bari Jay, yet they had the dress.  At first, I did not understand, but before long, I caught on.  OH... you're ordering them direct from the maker, bypassing that brand name mark-up.  SWEET!

In the store, the dress would have been around $160.  Given that there were 2 other weddings coming down the pike, I'm all for helping folks save some cash, so I went with the one that was going to allow us to purchase the dress for $57 (free shipping thrown in).  I liked the dress so much, I decided that I would get one as well, never know when a girl wants a night out on the town with her new hubby in a one-sleeve kimono inspired dress, right?  I had everyone to take her measurements (they were custom-making them based on size, great right?) to send to me, then I placed the order.  Now, I did have a few concerns about the communication efforts of the person that I had to communicate with on-line, but considering that I have to figure out a way to decipher what some FB friends are saying, I figured that it would be no different.  Hmm...

So, I am compiling a list of sorts to share the highlights of my experience:
Chinese New Year - When I placed the order, it was RIGHT when the best holiday in ALL the world was about to be set off.  While I've never been there, I suppose that Chinese New Year must be sort of like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter & Mother's Day all wrapped into one.  Like - it is a HUGE deal.  They SHUT DOWN at that time.  They shut down in order to start getting ready for it, then they celebrate it, and after that - I suppose that they have to recover.  I couldn't imagine, I don't think that I ever want to witness all of what goes on.  So, my order got no attention once I placed it, they were Chinese New Yearing...

Communication - I really appreciate having some strong mastery of the English language.  I prefer if the person that I am dealing with for business has the same.  As a matter of fact, I think that I am going to start to insist upon it.  I would write an email asking 3-4 questions that required direct responses.  The response would be something like - yes, yes... we will make it VERY beautiful for you.  WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH WHAT I ASKED???  Yes, that should have been a clue, but...

Reviews - WHY didn't I read all of the reviews that I read AFTER this ordeal before I placed the order?  I know that I read some, but where were any of the reviews warning me that this was a dumb idea?  I found them all AFTER the fact!  Also, with a blog website that they have specifically dedicated to offset the folks who complain.  Amazingly, the folks who write the blog speak proper English!  WHAT??? 

Quality - Consistenly through the process of considering the order (I started in December) until the time that the dress was to be returned (late Feb, early March) - it was consistenly told that I would get a 'very nice' dress.  What I received in the mail was 'very horrible'.  While it had the spirit of the dress that was intended, it was a long ways off.  The material was fine, but the stitching looked like a 'C' student who was doing special favors for the Home Ed teacher completed it.  The measurements were off and did not seem to be symetrical at all.  If worn, the bridesmaids were not going to be allowed to sit down for fear that Uncle Pete's pacemaker would skip a beat from the eyeful that he received!

Response - Luckily, my fiance was there when the dresses arrived.  I was so excited, I left work a little early to see the dresses and as soon as I picked my jaw off of the floor, went online to promptly 'dispute' the dresses.  Based on responses from others, had I not done it that quickly, the funds would have gone through DH Gate to the seller & I would have been out of luck.  I immediately responded to the seller that the dresses sucked and I wanted a refund.  They responded that they would give me $30.  $30 per dress?  I respond back, I'll take $500.  They come back with $50.  Oh... they meant $30 total.  I went down a little more, they went down to $100 and asked me to 'feel sorry for us, the dress was mostly like what I wanted'.  At this point, I am livid!  I ended up escalating the issue to DH Gate, they had a half of an English class more than the seller (but went home sick before it was over) and in the end, got the majority of my cash returned in lieu of returning the package and risking their threat of customs seizing it or my real fear - them pretending that it never came. 

I'll take an intermediary when I deal with China the next time.  The only contact that I think that I'll want with them is the little tag on the bottom of the product that says 'Made in China'...

*YES, we do have other dresses, I'll tell you about those later, my blood pressure increased just thinking about this whole bit of nonsense and I need a nap!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Linens Purchased

Found a great color (Antique sage) at CV Linens. Looking forward to seeing them in person.

WOW this process was one of the hardest for me! I had to decide on the layout of the tables and coordinate everything in my head and then purchased based on a dream! I like to work with FACTS!! lol My BFF created a great layout for me to be able to see the space clearly!!! So that was a blessing!!! Now I feel like it's coming together!!

Anyway, finally purchased them and now I can say WOOSAH that is until they arrive. HA! I'll update when they come!

Anyone else have a hard time purchasing linens or anything else?

UPDATE: The linens are in (they came two days later) and they are SOOOOO perfect!!!