From Muggle to Mrs

Hiiiiiiii!

Another month has passed which means I’m still pretty much the worst blogger ever. But! I have lots to update you on, so let’s just breeze right on past all the standard contrition and jump right into the good stuff.

My November kicked off with an epic bridal shower which was, much to my delight, Harry Potter-themed!

I had no idea it was Harry Potter-themed, but was obviously VERY happy when I walked in the door. My awesome bridesmaids also pulled off a second surprise when my bridesmaid Holly surprised me by coming for the bridal shower… from Canada! It was all kinds of perfect.

 

The bridal shower was wonderful — having a whole bunch of my friends all together in one place, sharing memories and, of course, getting to open presents (bahaha). They really went all out with the decorations and special touches — there was a “pensieve” where folks could write down their favorite Gretchen memory, and they made a batch of Felix Felicis as a (super delicious) specialty drink.

We also played a game where I had to answer a bunch of questions that my sister had previously asked Sean. You know, stuff like “What’s Gretchen’s favorite color?” (He got it right) and “What’s the theme of your wedding?” (He got it wrong, hahahahaha.) Then, if I guessed what he answered correctly, I got a doller, and if I got it wrong, I had to stick a piece of Bubble Yum in my mouth.

It was hilarious and terrible. My sister was a ruthless game host — Sean misread one of the questions (the question was “What was your first date?” but he answered it as if it was “When was your first date?”), Jenny still asked me the question, which of course I got wrong because he didn’t even answer it correctly!

So by the end I had 14 pieces of gum in my mouth and 15 dollers. So I still came out ahead!

The only problem I had with my bridal shower was how short it felt! The two-hours literally FLEW by. My friends said that it’ll seem even faster on the actual wedding day, so I guess it was good preparation, but still! It was just that much fun. I’m a really lucky gal to have such wonderful friends and family. 🙂

And speaking of family, the wedding festivities didn’t end there! One week after the bridal shower, my entire family headed down to Houston to see my grandmother.

As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, and for both of my siblings’ weddings, we’ve performed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at the rehearsal dinner. We’ll be doing the same thing at my own rehearsal dinner, but since my grandmother’s health isn’t too great and she can’t travel, we went down to Houston to do the tea ceremony with her early.

It was really special, and some of Sean’s family who live in Texas were also able to come out and join in!

Everything else that’s been going on over the past month has been just one giant mix of wedding planning and work stuff. I’ve actually got an Elite Event tonight — our annual Yelp Northern Virginia holiday party! So tonight should be full of fun and festiveness — two of my favorite things!

I also finally checked off two of the remaining big ticket items on my wedding to-do list. I finished all of the centerpiece bottles I’ve been working on (my nightmares are nothing but glitter and Mod Podge), and I finally placed my floral order!

Dude, I know that a lot of you think I am certifiably insane for wanting to do my own wedding flowers, but this is what I have to say about that: I’m spending less than $500 on my wedding flowers. And after several multi-thousand dollar quotes from florists, I am perfectly happy to put in the legwork (with the help of a couple of my crafty bridesmaids!) and put this stuff together at home.

At Potomac Floral Wholesale, that amount got me 125 Milky Way roses, 50 Emely roses, 20 White Akito roses, 40 hydrangeas, 6 bunches of stock, 2 bunches of dusty miller, 1 bunch of silver brunia, 1 bunch of wax flowers, 4 bunches of glittered birch branches, and some additional floral supplies. Flowers everywhere!

Also, there are WAY TOO MANY different kinds of roses. Part of the reason it took me so long to place the order was just because I was overwhelmed with how many different kinds of roses there are! I know most brides would never risk doing their flowers on their own in the first place, and even for brides that are into that, they probably don’t have time to research all the different varieties (or they probably just don’t care as much as I apparently do!) But, that being said, if you are one in that small percentage of extra-crazy brides like moi and want to learn more, there are rose comparison studies on the website Flirty Fleurs that I found ridiculously helpful.

Okay, I’ll wrap it up for now, but we’re really getting into the home stretch here! Now that it’s officially Decemeber, I can actually say that my wedding is NEXT MONTH and not be lying.

Unghhhhghghh wait that’s too real I’m not ready ahhhhhhhhhhhh

Death by DIY

Ughghhghnghgh, where is this year going?! It is T-5 months to Sean’s and my wedding day (give or take), we’re halfway through August, almost at the end of the summer, and I know how cliche it sounds, but time is really FLYING.

This may partly because I’ve been doing so much traveling and throwing so many events for work lately that time has very little meaning to me anymore. Maybe.

Thankfully, due to a month-long period wherein I do not have to travel (huzzah!), I’ve finally been able to dip my toes back into planning for this whole wedding thing that’s happening in a mere five months. Actually, when I say it like “five months,” it still seems pretty far away, but when I factor in the impact that the holidays will have on my timeline (effectively taking an entire month out), in addition to the sheer amount of stuff I have set out to do (too much), the date seems a whole lot closer, haha.

I like to think of myself as a crafty person. Not crafty in the sense of being shrewd or cunning, but in the sense that I enjoy doing crafts. I’m all about that DIY life, yo. I mean, in theory, of course (my Pinterest is full of projects that I’ll never, ever actually do, but it’s still fun to pretend.)

Regardless, give me a bottle of Mod Podge and a jar of glitter, and I’m a happy camper. So it just makes sense that I’d want to craft it up when it comes to our big day, right? Well, due to my proclivity for being too ambitious, I need to be proactive about my DIY projects… lest I get to the one month countdown and suddenly realize I’ve only made 100 of my 1000 cranes for my ceremony backdrop, only spraypainted 10 of the 100 cups and bottles for my centerpieces, and… well, you get the idea.

 
So anyway, my life during this short stint while I’m actually in one place (I’m heading back to Macon over Labor Day weekend to meet my soon-to-come second niece! My sister is due August 31st, hehe) is basically comprised of nothing but gold spray paint and glitter.

In case you’re trying to keep track of my insanity, my DIY project list currently includes (but is not limited to) making the centerpieces, making a ceremony backdrop, making signage, making cake stands and dessert table decor, desperately attempting to make our bouquets (results of our trial run below)…

…and even glitterizing my shoes. 😉

I know. I’m a crazy person. But, I mean, I’ve got time, right? Or rather, I’ve got time and (thankfully) some equally crafty and helpful bridesmaids, hehe. I do plan on putting together tutorials for all my various craft projects once they’re, you know, complete, and whatnot, so stay tuned for those!

I know I have a lot of additional stuff to update you all on, since I’ve been AWAL for the past month, but since I don’t really know where to start, I think I’ll just end this post here, and come back to blog another day.

Wedding Update: 37 Weeks Out

Aloha!

Hope everyone’s having a good week! Mine’s started out a little rocky, as I think I’m fighting a sickness of some kind. I’ve just been crazy exhausted for the past few days, and Friday night I got hit with the WORST headache of my entire life. It was so bad that I practically had to pull the car over on the way back from seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron. All I wanted to do was cry in the dark somewhere with my hands over my head.

I am fortunate in that I don’t tend to get very many headaches (I have so much sympathy for those of you who deal with migraines and the like), but I think that just meant I was even less prepared to deal with this one. It lasted almost all weekend! At first I thought maybe it was my body reacting to the liquid sugar I poured into it (in the form of a White Raspberry Icee) during the movie, but when it didn’t go away… I dunno, the headache coupled with my exhaustion over the past few days does lead me to believe that perhaps it’s something more. Maybe I’m legit getting sick, or perhaps it’s stress-related, or, hey, maybe it’s even tied to my monthly ladytime.

Whatever the case may be, I’ve basically spent the past few days sleeping a lot and generally just moping around the house being useless. And while that has indeed affected my ability to be productive with, like, my job (yesterday I took a sick day — my first since I started working for Yelp), it hasn’t stopped me from trying to be productive with regard to another component of my life.

With that component obviously being wedding planning. Duh.

First-off, here’s the latest update on where we’re at with the major wedding-related items:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☐ (tastings scheduled)

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☐

Centerpieces: ☐ (in-progress)

DJ: ☐

Cake: ☐

Save the Dates: ☐

Invitations: ☐

In addition to having selected our date and venue, as well as my dress ordered, we’ve now got the photographer and videographer officially selected as well. Contracts have been signed, deposits have been sent out, and things are starting to come along!

I’ve scheduled tastings with our top two caterer choices, though we won’t be doing the tastings until after my parents return from their vacation in southern France (sooooo jealous) in mid-June. And as far as centerpieces/wedding decor goes, I’ve already started on some of it!

Not sure if you know this about me, but I actually really enjoy crafting. I’m all about that craft life, man. Give me a roll of butcher paper, yarn, some Mod Podge, and a truckload of glitter, and I’ll be occupied for hours. So, that being said, I am indeed planning on DIY-ing quite a few elements of the wedding — almost all of the centerpiece components, escort cards, even the majority of my own bridal bouquet.

I know it’s kind of early still, but since I have a lot of relatively ambitious projects in mind, I figured it’d be much better to get an early start on the wedding craft projects. That way, if I get tired/annoyed/too many papercuts/high off of spray paint fumes, I can take a breather without feeling the pressure of being on a time crunch just yet.

 

For those of you who are interested, I definitely plan on writing posts that detail the various craft projects I’m working on.

Of course, with so many different components that I’m creating myself, I know that I’ll need some help to make sure everything gets set up on the actual wedding day. So I’ve also been chatting with a few different planners about day-of coordination.

Some folks might not see the value in hiring a day-of coordinator, especially when you have friends or family who might be willing to help out. I, however, really loathe the idea of inconveniencing anyone, so I think it’d be better just to have someone specific in charge of all the day-of tasks — getting the centerpieces on the tables, making sure the dessert bar labels go out, moving decor from the ceremony space to the reception space, helping to pack up at the end of the night, etc. Plus, I hear time and time again from past brides that the best thing they did was to hire a day-of coordinator! How can you argue with that?

Now, as mentioned, a lot of what I’ve already started working on isn’t super time-sensitive. After all, we’re still a good 8 months out from the wedding date. The most time-sensitive thing is probably our Save the Dates, which I am definitely trying to get out soon (especially since our wedding will be taking place somewhat close to the winter holidays, I want to give folks as much notice as possible.)

Sean and I were supposed to have our engagement photoshoot with my brother and sister-in-law (Taylor & Ben Photography) on Sunday, but, alas, circumstances intervened. So we’ve rescheduled for Friday instead! Which means I get to spend another four days obsessing over how I should wear my hair and whether I’m making the right accessory choices, heh.

Once we have our engagement photos in-hand (or, rather, in-computer), I’ll hopefully be able to whip up a quick Save the Date design (I’m thinking I wanna do a magnet), order ’em, and get them out pronto. And once we have our photos, I’ll also be looking to launch the wedding website that I’ve been working on!

Anyway, I think that just about catches us up to where I’m at with the whole wedding planning shebang! Still quite a few “big” items to nail down, but we’re definitely making headway.

Here’s to many more weeks of getting glue on my fingers, obsessively comparing vendor proposals, trying to figure out if it would be truly crazy to try and DIY the wedding flowers (all of my family members say I’m muy loca for even considering it, but A Practical Wedding make it seem soooo doable…), and glitterizing, well, everything.

Did you DIY (or, perhaps if your fiance is less glitter-averse than Sean, DIT) any of your wedding components? 

Gettin’ Crafty: Bridesmaid Boxes

So, in the spirit of this blog officially being a Judgment-Free Zone when it comes to my wedding crazy, I actually already have my first wedding-related craft project to tell you all about!

I fully admit that I’m the kind of gal who has had a wedding board on Pinterest long before she was actually anywhere near becoming a bride. Pinterest is, as I imagine most women would agree, both an incredible boon and incredible drag when it comes to wedding planning.

On the one hand, it makes it so easy to create a visual inspiration board for what you want your special day to look like. On the other hand, it makes it SO easy to give yourself unrealistic expectations of what you’ll be able to acheive on said special day.

I guarantee you that many of the weddings that I have Pinned to my own board had budgets way, way, way larger than mine, and that’s what makes them exactly so Pinterest/magazine-worthy (I made the mistake of inquiring to a photographer that I saw in a recent issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom or whatever and am still reeling from the sticker shock, haha). But, thankfully, Pinterest is also the land of DIY and there are actually a lot of awesome tutorials and ideas on there for things that you can create as long as you are willing to put the time and effort in.

Fortunately, I happen to enjoy crafting — to a degree — so I imagine that my wedding planning experience will involve a healthy balance of DIY and outsourcing. And the first do-it-myself project I wanted to tackle? Bridesmaids boxes!

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Many of you have probably seen something similar to these before, right? A cute little box with some little gifts or favors all meant as a way to bribe ask your friends to be part of your bridal party. I’ve seen them come in many varieties — wooden cigar boxes, gift bags, shoeboxes, lunchboxes — and with different contents — food, favors, photos, wedding information booklets — but they all have the same purpose: asking some special folks to stand up there with you on your big day!

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I know that asking your friends to be part of your bridal party is not something that requires any kind of elaborate gifts or gestures, but, as you all know, I’m just a pomp-and-circumstance kinda gal. Plus, with two of my bridesmaids living out of town, I wanted to be able to give them something a little more fun than a FaceTime call.

So, inspired by various things other people had put together, I set out to create my own little set of “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” boxes. I ordered some plain brown decoupage boxes off of Amazon, some Mod Podge, and a crapton of gold glitter, and went to town!

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If I were a good blogger, I’d have taken photos of the actual crafting process while it was happening, but as it was, my hands were pretty much covered in glitter the entire time so maybe it’s better that I wasn’t handling my big expensive camera at that point, hahaha. But it was actually a VERY simple process that anyone can replicate (as long as you’re okay with having glitter as a permanent part of your home decor, of course), so here’s how to do it:

  1. First, place oversized letter sticker of each girls’ first initial on the box top.
  2. Brush on a thin layer of Mod Podge (using a foam brush) over the entire top and sides.
  3. Shake, shake, shake, shake it off out! Cover the entire thing with glitter (Mod Podge actually dries quite fast, so work quickly)
  4. Remove the letter sticker from the top, leaving a blank, glitter-less silhouette in its wake.
  5. Brush on another layer of Mod Podge — thicker this time — to seal the glitter on.
  6. Let dry and voila! A glittertastic and beautiful personalized box, at your disposal.

A few tips/notes:

  • Make sure you’re working over a newspaper/tarp/something that can catch the glitter, because you’ll want to A) protect your carpet/floor and B) catch and re-use as much fallen glitter as possible.
  • Brushing the Mod Podge on over the glitter worked awesome to seal it in, but it will WRECK your foam brush. So I definitely recommend getting multiple brushes (I got like a 20 pack for $5 on Amazon.)
  • I used this exact same process to glitterize the bottom of the champagne glasses that I included in each box (got the glasses for $0.99 each at Goodwill.)

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Hopefully my gals will be able/willing to use the boxes to hold keepsakes or other things around the house, but even if not, I still had fun making ’em!

As for the contents, you can really put in whatever you want! I filled the boxes with the aforementioned glitterized champagne glass and a mini bottle of sparkling wine, a photo collage (I picked up frames at Goodwill and spray painted them gold), some Ferrero Rocher chocolates (my favorite!), and — most importantly — a card that said, “Will you be my bridesmaid?” on the outside and had lots of sappy stuff on the inside.

I had ideas to include even more stuff — ring pops, nail polish, print-outs of potential dresses that I liked — but even just these items pretty much filled the boxes to the max (one of the picture frames was too big to fit inside the box, oops!). Plus, as it turned out, I couldn’t find ring pops anywhere, I have no idea what kinds of dresses I’d like them to look at yet, and gold glitter nail polish is like $8 a bottle, hahahaha.

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I did end up adding a couple of extra items to my sister/matron of honor’s box, since I’m pretty sure that Mia just assumes that any box that gets opened at her house is meant for her anyway. I swear, that little diva is going to make the gosh-darned cutest flower girl EVER.

 

I am happy (and relieved) to report that all four of my wonderful bridesmaids said yes, so I’ll be hanging with a quartet of stonecold foxes on my wedding day! Surpringly, settling on a number of bridesmaids and figuring out who to ask was actually pretty difficult for me — and I really didn’t expect it to be something I agonized over. Alas, I just don’t love the way huge bridal parties look, but if there was a way to have like ten bridesmaids without having to bust out a wide-angle lens to fit them all in a photo, I totally would have done it.

Now, if only Sean would tell me who he’s considering having as groomsmen… every time I bring it up, he says, “I dunno, I haven’t thought about it yet.” And I’m just like, “Oooookay, but doesn’t me asking you kinda make you think about it at least a little?” Men, go figure.

Bridesmaids Collage

Anyway, for those who are curious, my bridesmaid lineup consists of… Jenny (my sister and MOH), Taylor (my sister-in-law and de facto photography consultant), Holly (who was my friend back when my fashion sense was limited to my school uniform), and Jessica (who I actually met through this very blog! See, the internet really does make dreams come true — Sean and I also met online, hehe.)

I’m super excited and lucky to have this rockin’ band of weirdos at my side through the next however-long period of pre-wedded bliss — they really have no idea what they’re getting into. 😉 Though I do promise not to make them wear anything too heinous…

"And the best thing is you could shorten it and wear it again!"
“And the best thing is you could shorten it and wear it again!”

Did you have a small or large bridal party? How did you ask them to be part of your big day?