Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't Talk While Posing, and Other Lessons Learned

I am *so glad* we did an engagement shoot with our amazing photographers before the wedding. Not just because I love the pictures we got, but because it gave us an opportunity to see what it's like to have our own personal paparazzi for a few hours. What looks easy from the outside (stand still, smile) was actually pretty hard work (stand still for a long time, now sit at an awkward angle, giggle, now be serious, oops too serious).

all photos by Paco and Betty

The preparation of picking the outfits and getting ready and all that was a bit of a fiasco unto itself, but the most important things I learned were things I realized during and after the shoot. For instance, who knew that something as awkward as getting your picture taken in public (sometimes in compromising positions!) could feel normal after about an hour, or that it's physically tiring to smile for extended periods of time, or that I am virtually incapable of keeping my mouth shut for more than a few seconds?!

And there are definitely a few things I want to remember going into our wedding day (besides not talking while posing - I got it!). I want to remind us both to do more looking at the camera - at the same time. There are only a few pics of us like this because we're either looking at each other, one looking at the other, or both looking away. Not to brag on ourselves too much, but our eyes are kinda amazing so I want to make sure I have lots of options of pictures where they really stand out.

As the sequence of pictures go on, I can see the frizzies and dark circles starting to creep in ever-so-slightly, which reminds me that I want to be sure I take time to freshen up my hair and makeup at some point during the night. And I want to remember to stay relaxed. Our least favorite pictures are the ones where we felt most awkward, and our favorite pictures are ones where I know we weren't thinking, "How does this look? Am I doing this right? What did they say?"

Another lesson learned - giving up control, and I'm not talking during the shoot (although that's certainly true as well). I mean giving up control of what images come back to us. For our engagement shoot we received 115 images taken in a little under 2.5 hours, which I know logically is more than enough. But since I'm a volume shooter when I take pictures, I'm used to coming home and sorting through hundreds of images all taken in a pretty short time span. If I don't quite like a facial expression or detail in one or three or five images I've taken, there's a good chance I've got at least another five still to choose from. But pro pics don't work that way, so I needed this engagement shoot experience in order to be more realistic in my expectations about how many wedding day images I'll get to look at.

And lastly, though most importantly, I want to remember that everything won't work out exactly as planned and yet all will still be perfectly wonderful.

What lessons did you learn from your experience(s) being photographed? Let's add to this list!

*all photos in this post by Paco and Betty

Thursday, July 21, 2011

14 Hours and Counting (The Invite Madness Begins)

I've been trying not to notice the time, but having typed out that sentence I just couldn't help but steal a glance at the clock on my computer. It's 3:24 a.m. and I'm wrapping up my wedding planning for the night. By my sleep-deprived estimation I've spent at least fourteen hours today on my computer - each and every one of those hours dedicated to brainstorming and drafting ideas for our invitations.

Luckily for me, we've finalized some of our other paper products and that gives me some stylistic direction for the invites. Unluckily for me is that I can't visualize ideas. Either that, or I don't trust my visualizations. Whatever it is, I'm a person who has to make a prototype or create a digital mock-up or *something* before I'll have the slightest clue whether or not I like a particular idea. I don't need it to be pretty - just something that gives me a rough idea of what the end product might look like. Also terribly unfortunate for me is my relative lack of skill with graphics programs, meaning that I'm constantly googling "how to do ____ in Photoshop Elements."

Key words: rough, lack of skill

That's how I wind up with my computer desktop chock full of icons (and I hate a desktop full of icons!) for a zillion different versions of images like this.

{amidst this craziness, a little sneak peek of our engagement pics!}

I can't believe I'm actually posting a picture of my work in progress, but there's your window into the way my mind works. Chaotic, no? As hard as it might be to believe, that craptastic illustration is where all the magic starts for me. In case you were curious as to what you're looking at, that's a potential layout for a 5x7 pocketfold. Starting on the left we have a (horribly rendered) pointed flap lined with stripes, leading to the main invite in the middle (where you can clearly *ahem* see where the words and the graphics go, right?), and the enclosures in a pocket on the right-hand side that's also lined with stripes and may potentially feature a photo of us.

No doubt I would've done a similar layout even if we were going to order our invites from a printer, just because it gives me a chance to see how everythings fits together. But because we plan to DIY them, laying out all the individual elements like this gives me an opportunity to think about how each part needs to be made, what's feasible and what's not, how they'll have to be layered and adhered, what supplies we'll need, etc.

It also gives me ample time to consider the likely possibility that we've bitten off more than we can chew here. SO many individual parts. SO many steps to put it all together. SO little time to get it all done. And ALL that for something people will just throw away. I don't know why this is so important to me, except to say that it is. I cherish the way Mr. FW and I collaborate on creative tasks like this (even if we drive each other crazy sometimes), and I love the idea that when it's all finished we'll have this amazing memento we made with our own hands.

That said, we're not even done designing them yet and already I can't wait to cross them off the list!

What project did you or will you take on, knowing full well it's probably more than you can reasonably handle? What's YOUR explanation for that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Me and My Twin, Nancy

Now that I've got The Dress I'm feeling some pressure to finalize my wedding day look, and I'd like that to start with my hair. As y'all know, I have relatively long curly/wavy hair. What you may not know is that I wear it down almost every day and I don't tend to prefer pictures of me where my hair is up. Obviously that means I plan to wear it down for the wedding, but I want it to look more 'special' than just my everyday hairstyle.

And then, a few days ago, the most amazing hair inspiration appeared to me in a completely unsuspecting and fortuitous moment. While Mr. FW and I were engaged in a marathon session of wedding crafting, we were watching a fabulous little show called Weeds. All of a sudden I happened to notice that Mary-Louise Parker and I share a similar hair texture. Not only that, but her character Nancy Botwin and I appear to share a mutual love of the half up/half down hairstyle. And the particular look that caught my eye was this beauty.
{I could only get a blurry capture of the back.}
screen captures from Weeds Season 5

It's somewhat difficult to tell from the pictures, but she's wearing a thin sparkly headband and it looks like in the back her hair is secured with a loose twist. I was so smitten with this look that I quickly clicked through other episodes to see if I could find anything else that appealed to me as a possible wedding 'do.

{Sorry for the harsh light/contrast - dark hair and dark background is a tough picture to capture.}
screen captures from Weeds Season 5

I'm not-so-secretly hoping that the first style looks as smashing on me as it does on her. Just in case, I plan to bring those other two images with me to a hair trial so I can try out a few different options. Who knew I'd be so giddy to mimic the styling of a suburban pot dealer...

Have you (intentionally or not) turned to Hollywood to inspire your wedding day hair? If so, who's your celebrity hair twin?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

About the Bouts

This long holiday weekend saw the completion of phase one of what I'm dubbing Project Floral Creations. (Have I mentioned that we aren't using any real flowers in our wedding? Well, we're not. And now that I've remembered to inform you of that, this post is gonna make a lot more sense!) The list of florals that need to be created isn't all that long, but it's felt really daunting because I assumed that everything would take a long time to complete. And if phase one is any indication, I was absolutely right about that. Thankfully I'm super pleased with the final outcome.

In case you couldn't tell (and I hope that's not the case), these are our boutonnieres. Over a year ago I saw an inspiration picture of grosgrain ribbon flower bouts and I thought the idea was fabulously fun, chic, and totally DIY-able. Mr. FW agreed and thus the plan was born. The steps were all pretty simple, but because I'm meticulous to a fault they each took an inordinately long time. In case you're interested, here's the step-by-step.

First you stitch down one side, either with the sewing machine or by hand. Knot the thread on one end and then pull the string on the other end (or one of the two strings, if you're using a sewing machine) until it gathers by an amount that will work for the size of the ribbon and the shape of the flower you're trying to make. Then you simply knot off the other end to hold the gather.

Hot glue one end of the gathered ribbon to the other, forming a (sometimes wonky-looking) circle. You're then going to hot glue a piece of felt to the back of each flower to hold the shape and to make it more sturdy.

Now for the flower centers. I know a lot of other people use buttons or beads, but we wanted a more substantial center that wasn't visibly button-like. I considered using buttons with shanks on the backs, and they would've been infinitely easier. But they were also more money than I wanted to spend and I knew tissue paper could give a similar look, so I went that route.

To do this, you start with a tissue paper ball roughly the size of the center you want. Bury the tip of your floral wire inside this ball and then wrap one or two layers of smooth tissue paper around both of them. Use floral tape to secure the tissue paper.

Make a hole in your felt center that's large enough to accommodate the tape-wrapped stem, then use a little hot glue to secure the ribbon flower onto the tissue paper center. To complete the look you can use some needle-nose pliers to bend the stem down. Then step back and admire your finished flower.

For Mr. FW's bout I incorporated a glass tile with a picture of his/our dog, Patches. I just needed to build up the center of the flower with some additional felt before I attached the tile with hot glue. My/our dog Eli has a matching tile that will probably be featured on my bouquet. This way we can have the dogs with us on our wedding day, even if they can't be physically present.

To put everything together, just bend the stems to place the flowers where you want them. A thin floral wire will secure them while you work. (In this picture you can see the two different kinds of backs I used - one as described and one where I just sandwiched the stem between two circles of felt. For that method I glued the tissue paper balls onto the center. Neither method was necessarily easier or faster, so just do whatever you prefer.) After everything is wired together exactly as you want it, you can give your bout a finished look by wrapping the stems with (more) ribbon and securing that ribbon with (more) hot glue.

And now we can cross that project off the list! Woohoo! Let's hope this recent craftiness is the beginning of a Project Floral Creations momentum streak - that way I'll be a little less stressed about our neverending to-do list, AND I'll have lots more to show you soon.

Are you using any floral-alternative elements for your wedding day? If so, are they DIY or something you're purchasing?