Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cake on the Brain

I l-o-v-e me some cake.  Seriously, I've rarely met a cake I didn't want to introduce to my belly.  (Except carrot cake. Why ruin a perfectly good cake with veggies?  I just don't get it...)  Combine my love of cake with my love of aesthetically pleasing things and anybody could guess that I flat-out-faint for wedding cakes. How I would love to feature one of these works of art at our wedding. 

That said, I just can't get over what I hear is the Bay Area average of $7/slice for such a masterpiece.  At ~100 servings, we're looking at 700 smackaroos for one cake.  Yes, it would be an awesome cake, but it's still just one cake.  For a woman who loves cake, I can think of better ways to spend $700 on cake - like by purchasing more cake!  I got the idea from images like this.

Freaking ingenious!  What better way to honor my (clearly unhealthy, but whatevs) love of cake than to serve our guests not one cake, but lots and lots of cakes - plural!  Plus I could probably do it for significantly less than $700, especially if some of those cakes were baked with love by myself and others. 

The dilemma, though, was how to get the *aesthetically pleasing* part back.  Clearly I'd need some way to link the cakes to our wedding "theme" and find a way to make it a focal point.  We're working on creating a cool backdrop, so we'll have that.  But those cakes need to sit on something.  In my heart of hearts I imagine using cake stands like these.

{from In Style Weddings, Spring 2008}

In my wallet of wallets I imagine we'll end up with these.

Never one to be deterred from a seemingly impossible task, I turned to the interwebz and found some brilliant ideas here, here, and here.  You people out there generating these ideas and posting these tutorials, you rock my world!  Although I love the idea of doing all-black stands, I am a little (unnecessarily?) freaked out by the idea of spray painting something and then eating a cake off of it.  I don't tend to be a person who's overly cautious about that type of stuff, but it does worry me a little and I do have some overly cautious friends.  So maybe it's best not to eff around with that.  But how wonderful to get inspiration for all the different items you can use for either the plate part of the pedestal part!  I'm particularly digging that last tutorial, because I can just imagine this cake stand painted black instead of yellow - with that awesome pop of white at the top - it's fabulous!

I went around to Target and Ross the other day crazily snapping pictures of every potential cake-standy option.  (It was either this or buy a carload of stuff and then return it all later.  I think I made the right decision.)  Now comes the part where I ruminate and torture myself and completely underestimate how long everything will take - and then I pounce!  I'll update you on this project when the pouncing commences.

How have you tweaked interwebz ideas to work for your wedding?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dressing Inanimate Objects

What inanimate objects get dressed up for a wedding?  Tables and chairs, of course! 

                                   Naked                                                                  Fully Clothed
                                 {source}                                                                     {source}
And in true Ms. Meticulous fashion, I have decided to make this infinitely more difficult for myself.  Would you believe me if I told you that white or ivory floor-length tablecloths AND chair covers are INCLUDED in our wedding package?!  Of course you'd believe me.  Why would I lie to you about something like that?  I wouldn't. 

So now I know you'll also believe me when I say that I (oh, I of the "anything to make my life more complicated" mentality) will not be utilizing white or ivory floor-length tablecloths OR chair covers for our wedding reception.  And why is that?  Well, basically because I'm a moron with a sadistic streak.  That, or I've fallen victim to the gorgeousness that is images like this.

The ribbons say "fun" and "handmade" and "unique," while the gray tablecloths say "different" and "modern" and "I match your wedding colors."  I am a sucker for ribbons and for all things gray, so why not give them both a starring role at our wedding reception?  Besides, I'm just not a fan of white chair covers and white table linens.  For one, it's a little bright given that we're aiming for a City at Night feel.  For two, it's a little Traditional Ballroom Reception for my taste.  Yes, it's a little extra money for something that we otherwise wouldn't have to pay a penny for - I get that.  (And I'm starting to see a distinct theme with this whole "spending more money" thing...)  But I plan to go on the *cheap*cheap*cheap* with this project, which makes it much more do-able. 

I'm still sourcing table linen purchase/rental options, so I'll have to get back to you about that.  But we have finalized the ribbon portion of the project.  This past weekend Mr. NM and I went to Michael's and went nuts in the ribbon section.  I wish I had a picture of me accidentally unrolling 2 spools of ribbon all the way down-and-out the aisle while Mr. NM chased after.  Alas, all I have to offer you are these pictures of our painstakingly chosen coordinating ribbons hanging off the cart handle in front of a sheet of black cardstock. 

I'm opting to go with a set of only 4 ribbons hanging down the middle of the back of each chair rather than strung all the way across.  This way we keep our ribbon expense lower, and we increase the chances that whoever has to tie these ~320 knots will only want to kill us one-half or even one-third as much as they would have otherwise once we tell them this is the task we've assigned to them.  Mwahahahahaaaaaa!

The black, silver and white ribbon are coming from COD Wholesale, where I paid $53 (including shipping) for 200 yards each of 7/8" double-faced satin ribbon in black and silver, and 5/8" double-faced satin in white.  Then I found the black with white stitched grosgrain ribbon at, where 125 yards of 5/8" ribbon cost $20.  I had to pay shipping on top of that amount, so to maximize my order I added 3 other wedding-related items for roughly the same shipping cost, which worked  out to be about $2 per item. 

Total ribbon cost:  $75, or right about $1/chair.  With this much ribbon I'm ensuring that we have enough (we're planning on about 80 chairs), and it will leave us plenty of leftovers for other crafts potentially needing a ribbony touch.  Overall, I'm pretty darn pleased with myself. 

Is there anything you could have gotten for free, but you decided to spend extra money anyway?  Please tell me I'm not the only one...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Top That!

Thing I previously cared nothing about:  cake topper.

Thing I am now convinced I must own:  cake topper.

You can see why I've had a change of heart, right?  Look at that handmade, customized loveliness - complete with dog!  And that's not all.  No no, this is just one of 6 to-die-for cake toppers from Etsy that I'm totally obsessing over.  In no particular order, here are the 5 other amazing Etsy finds.  (Warning: keep your drool rag handy.  You'll need it, trust me.)

Even Mr. NM agrees that it would be really special to have our whole pack represented on top of our "wedding cake."  (I'll explain these quotation marks later.)  He also thinks this might finally be one wedding purchase that could be put to good use in our home after the wedding - and of course I agree!  The only thing we're a little worried about is (cue your complete and utter lack of surprise) the price.  This kind of artwork doesn't come cheap, nor should it. But like so many other things about this wedding, there's no... ummm... budget for this particular item.  We could lump it in with the decorations category, or the dessert buffet category (hence the quotation marks above), or even the miscellaneous category.  But one thing added means another removed, and who knows what that removed item will have to be.

And yet....  I still think I'm gonna do it.  ;-)  Maybe it could be a birthday gift, or a shower gift, or an anniversary gift, or an anything-that-means-I-don't-have-to-include-it-in-the-wedding-budget gift.  So now comes the really hard part - we have to pick one.  And I'm realizing that there's actually another hard part, which is waiting a while before we order it.  Because in order to customize it, we'll need to actually know what we're wearing, and we're still a couple months from that decision.  Boohoo...  I'd love to have this gracing our home for a while before we pack it up and bring it to the wedding.  Alas, I can force myself to be patient (is that a paradox?) for something so loverly. 

What Etsy find has convinced YOU to spend money you don't have?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Light Me Up

Earlier this week both of us were home for the holiday and we declared it wedding day.  Actually, Mr. NM declared it wedding day and I went along with it because I knew he was right to take advantage of a free day.  We made some headway on several fronts - photobooth, registries, wedding party dresses, and photographer - but the biggest decision we made was choosing a lighting designer.  Depending on your perspective, it was either an easy decision or a complicated one (like so much in life, no?).  Easy because the person we chose quoted us a total for lighting and audio that was WAY more affordable than everyone else.  Complicated because we don't really have money in the budget for lighting and we know very little about lighting design.  How does one know how to spend their money wisely when you can't picture the different impact of uplights, wall washes, accent lighting, pin spotting, light patterns, gobos, and everything else.  It's so hard to know what's "worth it," especially considering this is all going into the Over Budget category.

Here's what I know - we definitely want blue uplighting of some kind, preferably more of a color wash,

Than columns of light.

We're not so interested in a custom monogram gobo,

But we do like the idea of casting an interesting light pattern on the dance floor (if it's not too expensive).

We won't need pinspotting since there will be no traditional centerpieces or wedding cake,

But highlighting the cake and candy buffets could be nice (again, cost allowing).

I also saw pics of ceiling/wall light patterns, which made me wonder whether that could be a more affordable way to make a big impact (versus 45 blue uplights).

Actually, while I was looking for pictures to illustrate this post I stumbled across an image that has lots of the elements I'm describing.

Blue color-washed walls, accented specialty tables, and patterned white light for dimension.  Yayexciting!  I'm gonna send it over to the lighting guy and see what he thinks.

How will you incorporate lighting (artificial or au naturale) into your wedding?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Sorry. You're Out.

Auf Wiedersehen.  (And then Heidi would kiss our little nixed project and send it on its way.)  Oh yeah, you heard (read) that right - we cut our first scheduled wedding task! 

Mr. NM did some initial research into setting up a photo sharing site for our guests to post the pictures they take at all of our various wedding events.  But with all the questions to answer (which site, how to set it up, how to let guests know about it) and with some evidence that guests don't always utilize it as much as you might like, we decided we could let it go.

Our guests won't get to see cute little cards like that, and I won't get to craft them.  That said, I'm hoping they'll still think it's important to share their pictures with us and find ways to send them because I would really love to relive the day from their perspective. 

What task was the first to be cut from your list?  Or are you one of *those* couples who plans to do absolutely everything, come hell or high water?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

Hi.  I'm Ms. Meticulous, and I have a problem.  My overzealous meticulosity compels me towards a (sometimes unreasonable) tendency to collect things.  Hear me out, though!  When I find something I really love and there are other things like it, or it's a part of a collection or series, or just generally goes with certain other things, I want all of them.  Because (and there is a because - this isn't meaningless collecting, folks!) life would be better/easier/more appealing/prettier/generally more wonderful if I had them.  If I ever start to exhibit signs of a new collector-streak, Mr. NM will randomly yell, "Brabantia!" due to a previous collection moment resulting in this.

{includes butter curler, jar scraper, melon baller, and a whole other crock of more frequently used items}

What does this have to do with weddings, you ask?  (Like you have to ask.  That's *clearly* rhetorical.)  Well the Wedding Industrial Complex has found a way to (brilliantly) convey that weddings are a package deal, and I have been brainwashed.   Videographer - want one!  Day of Coordinator - need one!  Wedding day hotel suite - must have!  Hair stylist and makeup artist - can't live without!  Artistic wedding cake - not a wedding without it!  Extraordinary honeymoon - deserve it!  Professional lighting design - worth it!  I could go on and on, but I won't.  You know what I'm talking about.

Now, repeat after me:  "It's not in the budget."

Just for good measure, let's say it again:  "It's not in the budget."

*whine*  But I waaaaant it.  And I neeeeeeeeeed it.  *moan*  And sometimes I spend an inordinate amount of energy scheming about how I can have them, even though I know there's not money in the budget for it.  I rationalize this along the lines of, "What's the point of spending all this emotional energy on being meticulous about this 'one day' if it's not going to be adequately documented, or I'm not going to look my best, or if I'm going to be stressed out?  Etc. etc. etc. 

Checking in with Mr. NM about this sometimes nips the whininess in the bud.  But it doesn't resolve the yearning in my soul (only mildly exaggerating here).  As a psychologist I know that when my thoughts ("I long for that.") are at an impasse with my behaviors (I'm not taking any steps towards having that.), I have two choices - change my thoughts or change my behaviors.  I've been able to change my thoughts about some of these "gimmes" because I can balance the "gimme" thought with other authentic, competing thoughts like "not that much will be lost if I don't have it, or it's not worth the cost, or I only feel like I want it because I've seen others have it but not because it's actually important to me." 

When I'm not able to authentically find ways to successfully to do that, I have to think about whether I can realistically behave differently.  For me, that means look at the $dollahs$.  If Mr. NM doesn't want a particular cost to come out of the wedding budget (that we both contribute to), then am I willing to put my own personal $ where my  "gimme" is?  Turns out there are things I value enough that I'm happily willing to pay for it myself (like a DOC, I think), whereas some things have me squarely on the fence (like a videographer). 

I know I can't have everything when it comes to this wedding - most of the time I'm really glad for that because I think if we had *everything* then it might take away from the *only thing* that truly matters, which is committing ourselves to one another.  Oh but other times - I really, really want it all.  (Brabantia!)  I'm still doing my own psychological and financial work to help me create a vision and a reality that takes into considering my longings as well as my limitations. 

What do you want that you know you can't have?  How do you deal with that?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'll Start (and Finish) That This Weekend

Where "that" = 84 paper garland strands.

{7 down, 89 more to go...}

And "this weekend" = your standard 48 hours where sleeping and eating (at minimum) most occur.

These kinds of statements are all-too-common in my life.  Something I've learned to acknowledge and admit about myself is that I significantly (and atrociously) underestimate how long tasks will take.  What inevitably will happen is that I get to the end of the weekend (or the work day, or the Tuesday) and there are still a lot of things left on my to-do list with little or no time to complete them. 

Cue freak out, paralysis, rushing, mistakes, clarity, lack of sleep, eventual task completion, rolling tasks over to the next week, or some combination of the above.  The cons of this approach are evident.  The pro, however, is that I can be amazingly productive under pressure. 

Mr. NM couldn't be more opposite.  He's a time over-estimater.  He takes on less tasks in the same amount of time than I do, but he always get his sh*t taken care of and he's able to go to bed on time.  Looking at our wedding to-do list, it's clear who created it (moi).  Apparently I spread it out with one big DIY project per month in addition to lots of other, smaller projects and I tried to frontload the work so that the big projects would be completed well before the wedding.  In my mind it looks like a totally manageable workload (even though we've never once finished all tasks slated for a particular month).  But Mr. NM has helped me to evaluate how unrealistic some of my expectations are.  Thank goodness he can be the voice of reason in deciding what we can reasonably accomplish and how we structure those tasks. 

Now that we're regularly over-hauling our planning timeline, we are SO on the 10-month (agh!) plan.

Do you have any suggestions or secrets for becoming more reaslistic in time estimations?  Help a woman out!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monogram *sad face*

Spend any time observing or researching wedding decor, favors, registry items, whathaveyou and you'll quickly notice the prevalence of the monogram.

I think the idea of a monogram is lovely and totally apropot for weddings - a symblic representation of the merging of two people into one unit.  Plus it also offers a great opportunity for personalization, both on your wedding day and in your home.  Traditional monograms utilize the initial of a shared last name, which obviously only works if the couple is going to share a last name.  I will do an obligatory "last name post" later, but here I'll just briefly put it out there that Mr. NM and I will not be changing our names.  So no shared initial for us.

Does this rule out monograms?  Not necessarily.  Recently the ampersand has been popping up everywhere - and it's fabulous!  Not only is it a gorgeous, interesting symbol, but I think it's quickly become *the* modern monogram.  (I even used them myself here.)

Mr. NM and I l-o-v-e ampersands (as you might have guessed from our Save the Date's, and we would love to use them more for our wedding if it weren't for one tiny detail.

{font: MA Sexy}

Yes, our modern monogram option happens to be a not-so-subtle sexual reference.  Now I know we could switch the initials around and potentially use it that way.

{font: Champagne & Limousines}

But that doesn't look/sound right to me either.  First of all, it's not far from S&M and I don't think it would take any great leap of the imagine for our guests to switch that around in their heads.  Second of all, it looks a little like MS which, depending on your frame of reference is either multiple sclerosis or Martha Stewart - neither of which I'd like referenced at our wedding.  The way super sad conclusion of all this is that we won't be using a monogram, traditional or otherwise, at our wedding.  I won't lie - I'm pretty bummed that it won't work out for us, although finding ways to incorporate ampersands in other ways makes it a little better.

Oh well...  You win some, you lose some.  Do your and your partners names combine to form a respectable monogram?  If so, will you incorporate it into your wedding?

Friday, January 14, 2011

You Can't Do This, or This, or This, and Certainly Not That!

... said the venue to the anxious bride.  An anxious bride who, I might note, looks and sounds a lot like *this* bride.  And *this* bride has a damn hard time taking "No" for an answer.  So watch out, Parc 55 - I'm coming for you!

It all started with a few innocent images. 

I sent these gorgeous pictures over to our event coordinator to get a sense of how we could recreate them in our venue space.  Her response (in a nutshell): No way, no how.  No candles in hurricanes extending less than 4" above an open flame.  No sleek, simple tablescape because tables require several bread plates, butter plates, 3 different glasses, 2 plates, salt/pepper shakers, and various other items.  And no candleholders are to be located on the floor.

Furthermore, I'd previously proposed suspending some decorative items over the tables in the ballroom and hanging very lightweight decorations on a few sections of the wall. 

I'm thinking something different than the pictures above, but you get the drift.  And the response to these ideas: Nothing is to be attached to the walls (in any way, shape, or form including 3M removable adhesives) and nothing can be attached to the ceiling because there's "no way to anchor it."

But as I said earlier, a million "No's" does not deter me in the least!  So Mr. NM and I put our heads together this past weekend to see if we could come up with any reasonable solutions, and I think we may have landed on one or two good ideas.  If the mock-ups work out, you better believe I'll share with you our solutions, not to mention finally unveiling my top-secret DIY-chic decor.  So wish us luck!

What hurdles did you/will you have to overcome to create your vision?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dressing Those in Dresses

Things I am NOT excited about when it comes to planning this wedding:
1)  Dressing other people.
2)  Dressing myself.

They seem excited, so why aren't I?  {source}

I'll get to #2 later (Cuz people tend to think that's a big deal, right - that I'm not excited about finding a wedding dress?  Yeah, I thought so.  I'll give that topic it's very own post... later, when I can bring myself to think about it.)

But about #1, ugh!  It's stressful!  And it's stressful on multiple levels.  Partly it's stressful because it's unknown.  I mean, how many times in your life do you dictate to a group of people what they're going to wear?  (Well, maybe if you manage a place that has a dress code, or if you're the principal of a private school, or if you're a fashion designer, or...  *ahem*  Okay it's occurring to me that this might not be as rare as I thought.  But seriously if you are one those people, contact me because I really wanna know how you live with yourself!)  For me personally, there haven't been that many, if any, times where I've told other people what to wear.  And finding that perfect trifecta of attractive, convenient, and affordable seems utterly impossible at this point.

The other stressful part is that I know the dress choice matters.  It matters for the people wearing the dresses - yes, of course. But it also matters for the overall look of the ceremony and portraits.  I'm even going to go out on a limb and say that the wedding party outfits impact the overall look *significantly more* than the attire of those getting married, simply because there tend to be more of them.  Quantity = impact.  Disagree with me if you will, but that's my take on it.  So a bevy of charcoal gray floor-length dresses in matte, flowy fabrics conveys an entirely different aesthetic...

... than do shorter, more structured cobalt blue dresses in shiny fabric.

 My initial solution to reduce the dress stress was to pick a color family and let everyone choose their own dress within that color.  We would get a mixture of styles, fabrics, and colors that would make for a more eclectic mood.  Everyone could choose a dress they felt they could afford, and I wouldn't have to do a thing!  Done!  ... 

But not so fast, Ms. M.  Perhaps there's something good about having a more cohesive dress style, and there's certainly something appealing about making dress selection more convenient for your dress-wearers (for example - "Hey, go buy a dress at David's Bridal in the color pewter.  Thanks!")

As part of gathering information to make this decision, I went to DB to take a few pictures of the gray colors they offer and I also "picked up" (or, as I found out, had to purchase!) some fabric swatches.  (Which, by the way, they only carry in satin.  And the swatches cost $1.00 each.  Obviously not a deal-breaker, but I object primarily on principle!) 

{examples of pewter and silver colors with a big white dress}
I'm thinking I'll consult with my dress-wearers before I make any final decisions.  Or maybe I'll just continue to hem and haw and avoid this topic for another few months until someone finally forces me to do something different.  I don't know.  We'll see.

Were you excited about dictating attire for your wedding party?  How did you make a final decision about what they'd wear?