Category Archives: Wedding

Wedding Chores Weekend

Hello friends! I apologize for my week-long hiatus last week. I have been a busy, busy lady both at work and at home, and that is my only excuse.

But this past weekend, Dan and I accomplished so much awesome! We had a meeting set up with the wonderful girl who has agreed to make cupcakes for us AT COST for the wedding, so we decided to just make a weekend of it.

Of course, we did have time for some non-wedding related things too. On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early and went to take my first lesson on Tulsa, the new horse I’m riding. I am so excited to have found her – her owner is fantastic and she’s such a fun horse. We both have a lot to learn, and I have my work cut out for me (I uh, can’t walk today from soreness, but this too shall pass).

After my pony ride, we went to Dominion Jewelers to look at/pick out wedding bands! Wheee! It was SO MUCH FUN. I really didn’t know what I wanted going in, but I think I made a pretty awesome choice. Of course it’s awesome… my band will match my engagement ring which is more than awesome, so yeah, it’ll rock. Dan’s choice looks pretty cool too but it’s too hard to explain so I’ll wait until we have pictures of it, and then the pictures can speak for themselves. :). While we were there, my ring got resized (it was almost a full size too big! oops…) and polished, and it is SO SHINY!! I want to get it polished every day. Or just, you know, not let it get so dirty.

This is where things got a little rushed. We were going to go register at Crate & Barrel, but by the time we got there, got our scanner and listened to the woman babble for 20 minutes, we only had about 20 minutes to “shop.” We did  little bit of shopping, but decided to just come back the next day. On Sunday we went back to C&B, and also started a Macy’s registry. We’re not sure if we’ll keep both… we will keep everyone posted. Registering is an interesting experience. Neither of us are super into shopping, so this activity, while fun, tired us out quickly. I’m so grateful that we can finish up and modify things online… I really don’t know how people did all this stuff without the interwebz.

And now, the main event. CUPCAKES! The focal point of my weekend! Seriously, I can’t thank Rachel enough. She is fantastic and HER CUPCAKES ARE DELICIOUS. I think I said at least 10 times, “I can’t leave them behind. They are too good.” I’m not going to post details here because I know some people want to keep this little detail a surprise, so I’ll just leave this link here to Rachel’s blog, where she tells you alllll about the deliciousness. If you don’t want to know, DON’T CLICK!

I’ve been busy with some other things too, which I’ll try and update about this week. If there’s time. Oy vey.

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On Simultaneously Planned Weddings

Welcome to Monday, everybody.

This weekend, a very important question struck me: When did I become a grown up? Obviously I know when I turned 18, but like… when did it become normal for me to choose to do things like laundry and cleaning and working instead of fun things? (The giant laundry pile in my bedroom begs to differ… I digress.)

On Saturday, instead of parking it on the couch to watch the last six episodes of Gossip Girl, I actively chose to sit at the kitchen table and work on some stuff. Granted, it was all personal – this blog, replying to emails, paying bills, planning Katie’s bridal shower – but still. Possibly as recent as a month ago that would not have been the logical choice for me to make. And the weird part? I liked it.

Speaking of planning Katie’s bridal shower, some people may be wondering what it’s like planning a wedding at the same time as your best friend. I definitely can’t speak for all best friends out there, because I’m sure that sometimes it is a ginormous disaster and friendships are ruined. But not in our case! Katie and I have been incredibly happy for, and supportive of each other for the last six months. Actually, for the last eleven years. (Seriously? Maybe we became grown ups somewhere in that time frame…)

Of course, when Katie and Patrick got engaged I was over the moon. Getting engaged myself was the furthest thing from my mind, and immediately I began offering to help her with whatever she needed. (Mainly, figuring out how to work Excel and create a budget, because apparently nurses never learn the extremely valuable life skill that is Microsoft Office…)

And then, my time came. I’ll admit there were some feelings of apprehension – I didn’t want Katie and Patrick to feel overshadowed. As it turns out, that was a completely illegitimate fear – she has been so happy and supportive the whole time. We just had to find a balance and set some ground rules. We really just had one golden rule – one bride at a time; one thing at a time.

This didn’t mean we couldn’t accompany each other to our dress appointments (we definitely did that). It just meant focusing on one of us at a time. Some appointments/dresses/weekends are for Katie to be the bride and find her perfect dress. Others were/are for me. Having this basic rule helped us both feel bridely and gave us each an opportunity to be a bridesMAID as well. Giving and getting support are equally important, and it would be impossible for me to give her my full attention if I was focused on ME. Planning a wedding and things like dress shopping are stressful enough already, no need to make them more so.

I’ll admit – sometimes it can be confusing and challenging. Just this weekend, Katie and I both had important things to knock off the list, and we both wanted to involve the other person. The chain of text messages is hard for even me to decipher, but what it comes down to is being flexible, supportive, and understanding.

So, while I am extremely excited to make the next moves in my planning process: bridesmaid dresses (some decisions were made this weekend, yay!), save the dates, ceremony planning… I am even MORE excited to plan and throw an awesome shower for my best friend! It’s next month, so I better get to work!

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Wedding Wednesday – Meet the Bridesmaids

Firstly I just want to thank my very wonderful friend Gretchen from over at Honey I Shrunk the Gretchen for posting my guest post yesterday! Hello to any new followers of this little blog, I hope you stick around! There’s lots going on around these parts… I promise not to disappoint!

On today’s docket… a quick wedding recap. We last left off with checking some big ticket items off the list. I was still searching for a cake-ist, and (fingers crossed) I’m PRETTY sure I found one! I don’t want to write about it and make it official yet, but I am so excited to share my super secret find with you guys soon!

I am also on the way to choosing the perfect bridesmaid dress for my lovely ladies to wear this September. Speaking of bridesmaids… I don’t think we’ve met them yet. Let’s do that, shall we? I am proud to announce my five loveliest ladies:

Jennie Tal Williams – Maid of Honor –– The Wonderful Sister

J&L

Photo by Korie Lynn Harold (http://korielynn.com/)

What is there to say about a sister? Jennie and I were your normal sisters growing up. You know – hair pulling, hitting each other with brooms, screaming matches… the usual. But then I followed in her nerdy footsteps and joined marching band, and drama club, and then went one step further and joined chorus and show choir, and then we had so much in common we just had no choice but to be friends. She has been by my side ever since, and I am so honored she is my maid of honor!

Katie Bontrager – Bridesmaid – The Highschool Sweetheart

Picture courtesy of Dan Cohn

Picture courtesy of Dan Cohn

Katie and I are your typical teenage love story. We met. We fell in love. The rest is history. I guess “highschool sweethearts” isn’t really valid, since we technically met in 8th grade, but I’ll allow it. I distinctly remember the first day I met Katie. It was in Mr. Davis’ 8th grade band class and there were two new girls: Katie, and someone else. I remember this, because I chose to sit next to someone else and try to be her friend. As it turns out, I made the wrong choice, which was promptly amended for me by realizing someone else wasn’t nearly as awesome as Katie. Who knows how we became best friends or how we are still so close. All that matters is we did and we are and SHE IS GETTING MARRIED IN APRIL TO MY ROOM MATE THE LOVE OF HER LIFE AND IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME! I am so looking forward to standing by her side in a few months, and then having her stand by mine!

Kristin Troyer – Bridesmaid – The One That Never Got Away

Kristin&Lara

Fate or the gods or divine intervention made it very clear from the word “Go” that Kristin (Kat) and I were meant to be friends for a very long time. We kept being pushed together in unlikely circumstances until we finally relented and decided that being friends was in everyone’s best interest. (Just ask Katie, Kristin’s like the glue that keeps everyone together.) I think we first met officially in like… Kindergarden or something. Definitely elementary school. Then she moved away, then she moved back, then we both had weird friends, then we became weird friends together. Through middle school awkwardness all the way through high school heart break and college curfuffles (ok now I’m just stretching), we have stayed best friends and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Kristin gives the best hugs and pretty sound advice – but don’t you dare try to steal her from me!

Anna Burgess – Bridesmaid – The Opposite that Attracted

Photo brought to you from 2006 (because apparently we don't take photos together anymore).

Photo brought to you from 2006 (because apparently we don’t take photos together anymore).

Everyone has that friend that makes you wonder how you are still friends after all these years. Right? No? Just me? Well, Anna is that friend for me. But before you go saying how mean I am and wondering why on earth she’s a bridesmaid if I don’t even know why I like her, hear me out. Anna and I met in 9th grade (thanks to Katie. Katie met Kristin thanks to me. It’s a vicious circle, stick around and you might catch on eventually.) We started hanging out because Katie promised up and down how coooooool the new girl was and how much we’d liiiiiiike her. Well la-dee-da, she WAS and we DID. SO THERE UNIVERSE. But still, we had little in common minus color guard (which I promptly left for drum line) and, well, our impecable choice in friends. And somehow we formed a bond that I’m certain will never go away. She’s one of my rocks, always there when I need her whether it’s a bad break up (thank goodness I won’t be calling her for THAT anymore), or a sneak trip to a bridal salon. So stoked she’s still putting up with me… they do say opposites attract!

Sabrina Wilbern – Bridesmaid – The College Sweetheart

Photo brought to you by the letter S for Seriously? We must do better. No pictures since 2009?

Photo brought to you by the letter S for Seriously? We must do better. No pictures since 2009?

Sabrina and I met in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Sabrina was friends with Dan. I was dating Dan (very newly). I joined a sorority (more like club, really… I promise… forget I mentioned it) that Sabrina happened to be in. And then somehow the circle closed and we all realized we knew each other and it was weird but cool and then fun. I didn’t meet Sabrina until my last year of college, but it was absolutely the best year of them all! We immediately bonded over who knows what and began hanging out, studying together, having sleepovers… I promise I’m still talking about Sabrina here and not Dan. She is one of the few people I met in college that made a lasting impression on me, and we still talk almost every day. I love that she’s so close by and that we make an effort to spend time together fairly regularly. She’s even started hanging out with some of my other friends, like Gretchen, and I couldn’t be happier! Of course the fact that she’s friends with Dan already helps, too.

Well there you have it, folks! I could not ask for a better group of girls to stand with me and Dan in September. Be on the lookout soon for a sneak peak of what they might be wearing for the big day!

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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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