Monthly Archives: November 2012

And then we ate… again.

I have a big family. My mom is the youngest of five, and each sibling has anywhere between two and five children. And some of those children have children. We live all over the place, from Virginia to California and in between, so it’s not very often that we all get to see each other and share a meal. Which might be a good thing… we’re a rowdy bunch.

After a nice Thanksgiving on Thursday with Dan’s family, (he has two cousins. Two. Yeesh.) we flew out first thing in the morning on Friday to meet up with my immediate and extended family for Thanksgiving #2 in Tucson, AZ. The two gatherings were starkly different, but both enjoyable.

My mom worked really hard with her sister to get a nice meal catered for us all, so no one had to worry about cooking AND traveling. There was eating. There was drinking. There was singing. (oh so much singing!)

Thanks to Georgi, Daren, and Grandpa for the pictures!

Now on to decorating the house for Christmas!

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Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I am so stoked to eat some good food in good company, and then fly to Arizona to be with my mom’s side of the family. There is so much to be thankful for, and I am so grateful to have all that I do.

With everything going on in the world today, it’s wise to take a moment to think about what we have, and do our best not to take things for granted.

This week, I am thinking all the time of my family and friends in Israel and wishing them all safety and peace with their Palestinian neighbors. I am thankful for my country and my security, and I hope the rest of the world will in time be safe and secure, too.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer. There is so much to be happy about in the midst of everything else. I’m getting married! I have my health! I have my family! I have my pup! And tomorrow, I will have mashed potatoes and pie.

Have a great holiday, everyone!

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On Weddings on a Budget

It’s November, and Thanksgiving is so soon! I haven’t taken part in the “Something you’re thankful for every day” trend on Facebook, but I am thankful for a lot of things.

Wedding budgets suck. Seriously, I don’t know how people ever stick to them! So far, Dan and I have signed contracts for:

  1. A venue
  2. Caterers
  3. Photographers
  4. A dress

And our budget is preeeetty much maxed out. Not to mention most people spend thousands of dollars on DJs, flowers, officiants, cakes, etc.

Here’s the part where I get thankful.

Of the things we still need, our friends and family are stepping up and helping us in so many ways!

  • In lieu of a DJ, we have decided to use the My Wedding DJ app, and my brother Jacob said he and his band can lend us their PA system. So awesome, and also free! Thanks Jacob and friends! Our reasoning behind this was that while we want to have a fun dance party, we think it will be awesome to be able to pick out our own play list. It’s like making a very customized soundtrack to the best day of our lives. How cool is that? We are hopefully going to have a link on our wedding website where people can request songs, to make everyone involved!
  • Speaking of wedding websites, my sister Jennie is going to make us an awesome one! I’m so excited to see it!
  • I’ve written before on how we were struggling on finding someone to officiate our wedding. After I delegated the task out to Dan, we met with a Rabbi and contiuned to  email with a few more options, but none really seemed to fit what we were looking for. Dan came to me with the idea of asking his Uncle David if he wanted to get ordained online, and officiate for us. I loved this idea! David is Jewish, active in his temple community, knows us, and is going to help us make the ceremony as personal and custom to us as possible. David agreed, and we couldn’t be more excited!
  • I was initially a bit concerned about the price of flowers. We don’t want to have big centerpieces, because we’re serving our dinner family style so there won’t be a ton of room. Dan doesn’t really want boutonnieres for his groomsmen, so that really only leaves bouquets for the bridal party and something small for moms. So we couldn’t really justify spending a ton of money and we threw around a few ideas: Costco, DIY, etc. What we ultimately ended up with was even better 🙂 My dad has a beautiful garden and green house at his B&B where he grows flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit. He offered to arrange all of our wedding flowers for us, and is even going to try to grow them in his garden! It will mean so much more knowing all the love that went into them than it would to buy them. I know they will be beautiful!

So that leaves us with cake… so far I’m still working on an affordable way to get that one. If you know anyone who bakes/decorates cakes and is willing to barter for rooms at The Mark Addy Inn, let me know! Otherwise, I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Thankful for all my family and friends pitching in to help us in any way they can. Happy almost Thanksgiving!

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Dress Shopping, Part 3

So, after a full weekend of shopping and head spinning and family and friends, I was ready for some alone time to think it all over. I had a picture of myself in the Alfred Angelo dress, and a picture from the website of the dress I liked at Ann’s. In my head, I knew it was between these two dresses. I loved the dress from Ann’s, but it was over my budget. I liked the dress from Alfred’s, but it was $800 cheaper. What were my priorities?

I took the next week to just think. I looked at more dresses online, and considered going to more shops. But I knew I didn’t want to keep shopping. I’m glad I had the experience, but I didn’t want to repeat it. Once was enough for me thank-you-very-much.

A few days later, I got an email from Dan’s mom, Lorraine. She had a lot of very good advice, and I’m glad I got to hear her feedback about the weekend. One of her pieces of advice, as you saw yesterday, was “If in doubt, don’t.” That pretty much sealed the deal on the Alfred Angelo dress… I didn’t love it, knew I wouldn’t be thrilled with it, so it was out of the running. Another thing she said she thought was a good idea was for me to go check out the dresses at David’s Bridal, which I hadn’t been planning on doing. That way, if I found something there, great! It would likely be much cheaper. If I didn’t find something there, at least I know I tried most of my options.

That ended up being great advice. If you’re not sure the type of dress you want, definitely go to David’s Bridal. They have such a huge selection that even if you don’t buy from there, you can get a really great idea of the style that you’re interested in.

The following Saturday, my sister Jennie and I went to David’s Bridal, list of dresses from the website in hand, and once again had a totally different experience. The attendant pulled the dresses for us, but that was about it. She wasn’t in the room helping me get dressed, or helping me pull other designs she thought I would like. Very hands off, which was fine. I tried on close to 15 dresses here, and just didn’t really see myself in any of them. So, at the end of the day, we made our way back to Ann’s, where I asked if I could try on the dress I loved from there one more time.

And then I bought it.

The end.

Just kidding! I mean, no, I did buy it. But that’s not all you get. I tried it on again (with my cowboy boots that were the topic of much debate the previous weekend), and in my own little way, I finally got my “moment”. It wasn’t a tears flowing, heart swelling kind of moment that people expect to have when finding “the” dress; but as Dan so kindly put it, I’m “too calculating” for that kind of response. (For a reminder of what that means, see the first part of the dress series.) But, it was my own little internal nod. It was me looking in the mirror and telling myself, “You’ve tried countless dresses. You’ve compared them all to this one. You love this dress. This is your dress.”

And then I bought it.

So, don’t let the wedding industry media get in the way of your shopping experience. You might have a “moment”, and just know, like my best friend Katie did. You might have a calculated over-thought experience like I did. You might not even find a dress you love, and that’s okay. The dress doesn’t have to be a priority. As long as you’re happy, feel confident, and are married at the end of the day (if that’s what you want), things will be okay.

The end.

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Dress Shopping, Part 2

After my first appointment, I was feeling pretty confident. I had a good idea of what I didn’t want, which was a step closer to knowing what I did want. I didn’t mention in my last post that I was also not feeling 100% health wise, which might have been adding to (or can possibly be attributed to?) the nerves situation.

So, onward! We caravanned in two cars to Alexandria so we could visit my second appointment, Katherine’s Bridal Boutique in Alexandria. After a quick Noodles & Co. stop for lunch we marched on in and immediately I started to try things on. The vibe in this shop was a little different – much busier and I didn’t feel that the attendant helping me was as in tune with what I wanted. As the day went on, I wasn’t finding “The One”, and was sort of coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to have a “moment” like they do on Say Yes to the Dress. By 5:00 pm, I was dress shopped out, and still didn’t have a clear winner. So, we called it a day with no purchases made, and went out to an awesome dinner with my family, Dan’s family, and some friends to a hibachi grill. My stomach was finally feeling better, and I knew the next day would be more successful!

Fast forward to the next day. We visited an Alfed Angelo store in Springfield, which was a really different and fun experience. (Side note: If you love Disney princesses, this is THE PLACE for you to go! The designer has taken all the Disney princess gowns and turned them into wedding and bridesmaid gowns. So cool. Unfortunately, I’m not a princess type.) The attendant was so, well, attentive. she asked all the right questions and really got a feel of what I was looking for. I brought in a list of ten or so dresses I saw on the website that I wanted to try, so away we went! I tried and tried and tried and finally I got to try the one that was pretty similar to the favorite from the day before – the contender from Ann’s. This dress was cheaper by about $800, and I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I tried it on twice and kept trying to talk myself into loving it, because for $800 just liking something was good enough, right?

Well, I decided not to make any decisions at that time, which turned out to be a very good decision in hindsight. Some advice for future brides: when in doubt, don’t. (Thanks Lorraine!)

I ended the weekend feeling accomplished, but not successful. No dress purchased, no decisions made. Now what?

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Dress Shopping, Part 1

Well. Let’s start with shopping in general. I’m not good at it. I don’t enjoy it. It is usually a stressful endeavor in the best circumstances. I attribute this to the fact that as a kid, I never went clothes shopping “for fun”. We went shopping once a year, before school started, and we were to make a list of everything we needed: Two pairs of jeans, three sweaters, new tennis shoes. If it wasn’t on the list, if we didn’t truly ned it, we didn’t get it. That mindset has been carried with me into adulthood so much so that I think and overthink my clothing purchases until I just don’t want to shop anymore.

“When will I wear this?”

“What will I wear this with?”

“Do I already have matching shoes?”

You get the idea.

So the thought of shopping for a WEDDING DRESS, needless to say, scared the bejesus out of me. Add into the mix that I would be shopping with a true entourage, and well, anxiety central. That’s not to say I wasn’t super excited to have my mom, sister, future MIL and two bridesmaids with me. I love them all and value each of their opinions, which is why they were all invited. I was just a little nervous is all. And we had a very full weekend of dress shopping ahead of us! Three appointments in two days, since my mom was in town from Charlottesville, and it’s hard for her to get away on the weekends. 

Nerves and all, we made our way to my first appointment at Ann’s Bridal Boutique in Burke. Holy crap. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted… dropped waist (maybe); ivory (maybe); lace (maybe)… sooo maybe not such a good idea after all. And seeing the walls of dresses staring at me was fairly overwhelming. Finally, after taking a tour and showing the girl who was helping us what I wanted to try on, it was into the dressing room! The nerves started to go away, and the trying stuff on was actually pretty fun! It helped me get a better understanding of what I wanted, what was in my budget, and most importantly what I knew I did not want. (Hey – it’s a step in the right direction.)

An hour later, I had a pretty good contender, but it was slightly over my budget and we still had two more appointments to attend…

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