129 Days and Counting!

Howdy, folks! It’s been yet another while since my last update, I know, but things have been moving along pretty swimmingly! Between work, wedding planning, and family stuff, I’ve definitely been keeping busy. In fact, I just came back from spending some time down in Macon getting to meet (and take photos of) my new niece, Kira!

Coming back home after spending some time with my adorable nieces meant jumping right back into wedding planning and work stuff. I’m actually hosting an Elite Event tonight, another one on Monday, and another one on the 27th. Whew! And next month brings another three events, three weddings (one of which I’m shooting with Ben & Taylor!), AND a trip up to Pittsburgh to help out at my coworker’s Yelper Party. WHEW.

But, hey, no rest for the wicked, right? And all this work craziness does come at a pretty good time, since I’m sure that as soon as I enter November, the wedding insanity will start to REALLY set in. November brings my bridal shower (squee!), a trip to Houston to visit my grandmother (she won’t be able to attend my wedding, so we’re going to perform the traditional Chinese tea ceremony for her), and, then, of course, the beginning of the Holiday Season! Double whew.

Luckily, I think I’m in pretty good shape with things right now. As far as most of the wedding planning timelines and to-do lists that I’m able to find online, it looks like we’re pretty much on target! Here’s where things stand:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers:☑

Centerpieces:☑

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

Wait a second… are you seeing what I’m seeing? That’s a lot of checked boxes! Like, almost all of them! And while some of the checks are really more like, half-checks, since I can’t actually complete them juuuust yet, the decisions have been made. So I’m counting it!

After all, we’ve figured out the exact configuration of the centerpieces, the flower count is being calculated, the invitations are being designed, and, best of all, my real, ACTUAL dress came in!

No spoilers for you (that isn’t even my real veil!) BUT, I’m pretty darn excited. And miracle of miracles, it actually fits really well! It will still need some alterations, of course, but those don’t need to start until November.

All of which means that, um, the big things on my wedding checklist are basically complete! CRAZY!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the planning is over by a long shot.the majority of what I have left to work on right now falls under the whole Death by DIY heading that I’ve already mentioned. You know, making the ceremony backdrop, painting the rest of the centerpiece items, finishing up the dessert bar decor (turns out that making cake stands from thrift store plates and glasses is pretty much the easiest thing ever!), and getting my bridal accessories. And I know that as we get closer to the date of the wedding I’m sure more and more things are sure to pop up.

In fact, here are just a few additional things that weren’t originally included on the “main” list that I think I should probably start keeping track of, even if the deadlines are still a ways off:

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☐

Wedding Rings: ☐

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☐

Registry: ☑ (Thanks to everyone who told me about Zola, it’s really cool!)

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Shuttle/Transportation: ☐ (The hotels are technically walkable to the GW Masonic Memorial, but it’s January, so I’m trying to figure out is providing transportation is still a good idea.)

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☐

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐ (Obviously this won’t be doable until after the invitations have gone out and RSVPs have come back, but it’s still good to keep in mind, as it’s a pretty important to-do.)

Alcohol: ☐ (We are able to purchase our own for the wedding — yay! — so I need to figure out amounts/types.)

Honeymoon: ☑ (Wheeeee!)

Oh boy. The list just keeps on growing. Heh. Oh well, whatever, you guys know I love this ish.

Speaking of the honeymoon, we finally decided on escaping the winter weather on a cruise out of Miami! It’s a 7-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Escape! I’ve never cruised Norwegian before, but am a big fan of cruising in general, and am super excited about the prospect of a brand spankin’ new boat (seriously, the ship hasn’t even started sailing yet. Eee!)

We are also going to spend a few days beforehand touring the Florida Keys, which neither Sean nor I have been to before. So if any of you have any tips about which cities in the Keys to visit, where to stay, or honeymoon-y things to do, please let me know!

Okay, I think that just about catches us up. I’m sure that the secondary list will just keep growing and growing, but I am super excited! We are 129 days out, and I am definitely already getting antsy, hehe. Onward we go!

A Rose By Any Other Name

Hola!

Sorry for the long hiatus, party people! Things have gotten a little bit crazy ’round the neighborhood lately (I’ve had four Yelp events already this month, and another two to go!), and so both my blogging AND my wedding planning have been pushed to the side for a bit.

But my parents are returning from their amazing 3-week vacation in France (lucky sons of…) which finally means that a lot of the things I was waiting to do with my mom can finally get done! So I’ve got a full week of catering tastings, floral meetings, and the like set up. Hooray!

For those of you who were wondering, by the way, I did end up deciding on that Save the Date. By overwhelming response, the winner is…

So yes, Save the Dates are done and have been sent out (to all the folks whose addresses I was actually able to get, haha), which means the rest of planning is going full-steam ahead! My Big Item Wedding Checklist now looks like this:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑ (and I ordered my veil, too!)

Caterer: ☐ (tastings this week!)

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☐ (consultation this week, and see below)

Centerpieces: ☐ (in-progress)

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☐

Cake: ☐ (tastings scheduled)

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

Lol, notice how the list keeps growing? Hahaha. I hope to have DJ (and lighting) locked up soon, and I also have scheduled a couple of cake tastings, which, along with the catering tastings happening later this week, officially marks the start of the “fun” stuff, I’m told! Our wedding website is also live (although not 100% complete, as I’m meeting with potential hotels to book room blocks this week), which is fun (and gives me a use for all those engagement pictures, hehe.

I also am continuing to deliberate on what to do with flowers. When I first blogged about trying to figure out my priorities for the wedding, I had flowers pretty far down on the list. In fact, I didn’t even think I was going to have any flowers in my centerpieces at all! But, of course, the more planning and research (and Pinning!) I do, the more I do want some fresh blooms at the wedding, haha.

I’m meeting with a florist on Thursday, but am also still heavily considering DIY-ing the flowers, especially since I have hired a day-of coordinator to help get everything set up, AND I found out from the venue that I will be able to store things overnight on-site (though we won’t be able to set up until a few hours beforehand.)

Everyone I talk to thinks I am a bona fide crazy person for even considering DIY-ing the flowers, but I just honestly don’t think it’ll be that bad! Costco sells bulk flowers (and, as you can see above, their roses are gorgeous, I bought some off their flowers the last time I was there and they were beautiful and lasted a week!) and I am fortunate to have access to more than one wholesale flower market in this area as well. I’ve also found a site that will portion out flowers in smaller amounts than you’d be able to order online, so you can get a wider variety of flowers instead of having to buy like 200 of one kind.

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I’ve also already DIY-ed some brooch flowers to include in my bouquet anyway (more detail to come on this in a later post), and I’ve watched a lot of tutorials on putting together bouquets, which can be done the day before. And my centerpieces are not going to be big floral centerpieces in a vase like you see at a lot of weddings, but instead will only require about a dozen loose flowers per table, which I think will be pretty easy to set up (esp. if we can stage them the night before and just have the coordinator transport them from the storage room to the tables.)

But, again, I don’t know if I may be taking on too much. At this point, it’s still easy for me to evaluate all the various DIY projects I have going on (centerpieces, ceremony backdrop, flowers) and say “I’ve got plenty of time!” but since flowers cannot be done in advance, I may be taking on more than I’ll really be able, or even want, to handle in the days before the wedding.

I dunno. I guess I’ll have a much clearer idea after I speak with the florist later this week — maybe her prices will be fairer than I’ve been seeing from other florists in the area. Who knows?

Did you DIY your flowers, or do you know anybody who has? How much did you end up spending on wedding flowers?

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? 

I Found the Gown

Soooo, quite a bit of exciting stuff has been happening in the Powell household over the past few days. First off, Sunday night was Yelp’s Fire & Ice Ball, the HUGE 1000+ person event that I’ve been planning for the past couple of months!

It was, in a word, AWESOME. So many amazing businesses were there offering delicious food, sips, hair styling, massages, tarot card readings, painting classes, and more. Entertainment ranged from a string quartet to a rockin’ DJ to parkour performances to a FIRE DANCER (true story!), and it was just an awesome, awesome time.

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Did I mention it was awesome? 😉

Plus, in addition to getting to promote awesome businesses from all across Northern VA, we raised almost $3500 for the SPCA of Northern Virginia!

And as if surviving throwing Yelp Northern VA’s biggest event of the year wasn’t enough excitement for one week, a couple of other fun things have been happening around the Powell household. For example…

mia big sis

I am super happy to announce that my sister, Jen, is pregnant again! My beautiful niece Mia is going to be a big sister (to another little girl, yayyyyy!) come the end of August/early September, and our family could not be more thrilled.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that Jen and Mia are in town visiting, so we were finally were able to snap a photo of this adorable pregnancy announcement. And by “we,” I mean, Ben, our brother and actual professional photographer. I call the above photo, “Skeptical Mia.”

A picture from tea on Thursday that Jenny wouldn’t let me post on social media because she hadn’t officially announced yet, haha.

I’ve actually been trying (and probably failing) to keep this news under wraps since DECEMBER, if you can believe it. My family all found out about Jen’s new bun in the oven when we were down in Macon for Christmas. I KNOW. Clearly my sister does not share my desperate need to put my entire life up on the interwebs in realtime, haha.

Speaking of which… the third piece of exciting news from the past few days is that… I purchased my wedding dress!

Spoiler alert: this is NOT my dress, hahaha. Fit & Flare = not my friend.

Unflattering silhouettes did not stop me from finding The One, and I totally said yes to the dress. And my credit card statement next month will remind me of it dearly, I’m sure.

Now, let it be said that I did not PLAN to have my dress be the first thing that I’d be crossing off my wedding checklist. After all, I haven’t even chosen my wedding venue yet (I’m pretty close to making a decision though), which means I technically don’t even have a date yet (although I’m pretty sure what it’s going to be.)

So, yes, I know that venue/date is usually the first (and, um, most important) step in wedding planning. But I really wanted to go dress shopping while my sister was in town, given that she’s my Matron (ha!) of Honor and general goodtime bestie.

My dress shopping entourage: Taylor, Jen, Anne, and my fabulously hatted mom!

So, we crammed in various bridal appointments over a few days before the Fire & Ice Ball took place, and I tried on a LOT of dresses. Turns out that while I do have a particular style I gravitate towards, within that style I basically like everything. So making a decision was actually very challening for me! Anyway, after I was able to try on all the dresses I was interested in (and I was interested in a lot of them, bahaha), I agonizingly narrowed it down to a couple of top contenders. Then, after the madness of my Yelper Party had died down, I went back to the bridal salon to finalize my decision!

I plan on going into more detail about my whole dress shopping experience later (I have some tidbits to share on what it’s like to go dress shopping as a plus-size bride, how my embarassing love for all things wedding kept me from having what I’d considering a “traditional” dress shopping experience, and how I didn’t have a “this is the one” ugly crying moment… well, not at first, anyway) but for now, let us just rejoice in the first official wedding decision having been made!

It works out that I took care of this early, anyway, since my dress is going to take up to six (SIX!) months to come in. Womp womp. At least I have lots of beautiful photos of it to keep me warm at night, right?

So, there you have it! Quite some exciting happenings, um, happening around these parts lately! And they’re just going to keep, er, happening, because this weekend I’m off to Texas for Sean’s cousin’s wedding in Dripping Springs (between Austin and San Antonio, as I understand it). The first wedding I’ll be attending as an engaged lady!

The rehearsal dinner is taking place at The Salt Lick, which is a famous BBQ place that Sean has literally been telling me about since we started dating. Needless to say, I am PSYCHED about that (pre-wedding diet, what?), oh yeah, and I guess there’s also the whole meeting the rest of Sean’s family and going to a celebration of love thing. 😉

Hopefully I’ll get to check in here again before I leave for the Lonestar State, but either way, I’ll see you soon!

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?