Unleashing the Dragon

Sooooo, I have been engaged for six days (actually, it’ll probably be seven by the time you’re reading this post) and I gotta say, I am still just as ecstatic as I was on Day 1!

Since I didn’t know I’d be getting engaged on Friday, I already had an appointment set with my favorite hair guru for the following Monday. Which meant I got a new hair color to go with my new jewelry!

Blue Hair Collage

I figured that this was as good a time as any to practice having “something blue,” hehe.

Actually, my hairstyle was inspired by my upcoming Yelper Party — Yelp’s Fire & Ice Ball. I was originally going to go for crazy flamed-out hair, but after the proposal I thought that I might want to play it a little more subtle. You know, what with engagement photos, trying on wedding dresses, events, and whatnot on the horizon!

See, those are the kinds of things I am already thinking about, even though I do know I’m just a few days into this whole engagement thing. I also know that most people say I should relish this newly-engaged period, I should take time to really enjoy this phase since it’s so fleeting. And don’t get me wrong, I am! I wake up with a huge smile on my face every morning, and am probably in serious danger of getting into a car accident because I can’t stop glancing at my precious ring when I’m driving.


But, even with that being said, I’m not going to lie — I am also really excited to start planning my wedding!

Now, before I dive into things any further, let me go ahead and establish this blog space as a judgement-free zone, yes? Because, as I established in my proposal story post, I am totally, utterly, unabashedly crazypants when it comes to weddings.

And hey, I say it (mostly) proudly! I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m one of those girls. I am a bonafide TLC-watching, Pinterest-browsing, blog-reading wedding girl. From long before I was engaged to what I’m sure will be long after, I have loved weddings. As I’ve probably mentioned every single time I was lucky enough to attend the weddings of friends, I just genuinely LOVE them!

The celebration of love, the marking of a new phase in a couple’s life, the gathering of family and friends, the food, the dancing, the CAKE… I love it all. So it can’t REALLY come as too big of a shock to anyone that I am already thinking about planning my own special day, right?

Plus, I mean, a huge part of my job with Yelp does involve event planning, so I’m legitimately always thinking about these kinds of thing things anyway. It should be pretty interesting how I move forward balancing the events I plan for my job with my wedding planning, actually. I may or may not have already had a crazy stress dream where the upcoming Fire & Ice Ball somehow morphed into my wedding mid-event… but anyway, I digress.

Of course, with a deep-seated love for all things matrimonial, also comes its own set of challenges. While it’s true that I probably won’t find myself ripping my hair out over figuring out dress silhouettes or bridal terminology (Chiavari! Chargers! Basque-waist! Fit and flare!), instead I’ll be dealing with other, potentially just as frustrating, things. Like hunting down specific wedding dresses by specific designers in my area (Hayley Paige dresses are everything), finding venues that are unique enough, and having champagne tastes on a, well, not a beer budget exactly (my parents are very, very generously paying for the majority of my wedding), but maybe like, I dunno, a grocery store wine budget.

Obviously I know that at the end of the day, whether you have a two-person city hall elopment, a 500-person multi-day Indian wedding, or any of the myriad of wedding possibilities in between, the most important thing is that you’re marrying the love of your life. And nobody but you is going to pay any attention to the time you spent painstakingly embossing the escort cards, or spray-painting wine bottles for the centerpieces (both things I may very likely end up doing, haha).

I do know that people are probably going to have a good time at my wedding because they’re there to celebrate that love and be amongst friends and family. But… that doesn’t mean it can’t be a rockin’ party at the same time, right?

Anyway, I’m pretty excited about figuring all of that out. So I guess this is my way of officially saying that the dragon has been unleashed and I’m launching into planning this shindig. I’ve alraedy come up with a beginner’s list of wedding-related movies to watch to get me in the right mood… although I made the mistake of starting off my bridal movie binge by watching Bride Wars yesterday and definitely regret doing so. Man, that was NOT a good movie.

Anyway, my shortlist includes Bridesmaids (duhhh), 27 Dresses, Father of the Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Any other suggestions I should add to my watchlist?

And to all of you out there that are already totally sick of me talking about this stuff… we are only six days in. Soooo, sucks to be you, ’cause this is just the beginning, hahahahahahaha. I mean, I won’t be offended if you want to take a little haitus from Gretchen, In-Between for the next 10 months or so, because I love this ish. 🙂

Are you married? What was your wedding like? Or, if you’re not married, have you ever thought about what kind of wedding you want? Formal, casual, themed, DIY, cost-conscious, a budget-blower? I wanna hear about ’em all!


  1. Hmm, I would consider “because I said so” for the list. It’s not super wedding centric, but you do see the different styles of wedding photographers, which provides a good laugh! I’m not someone who has dreamed of my own wedding, rather when I think about it I see all the things that will probably drive me crazy (specifically, my father….I pray I can have the budget for a wedding planner so I can keep him away from the details, he has a strong personality and things always manage to be about him, of course I love him)….Anyways!! Love the hair!

  2. Congratulations! So exciting!

    I actually don’t like weddings. I find them boring. I like the ceremony part, but after that, during the reception, I’m usually bored to tears. That being said, I’ve actually thought about having a destination wedding (should I ever get married), preferably on Disney Cruise Line, maybe at Castaway Cay. Keep it small, and keep it fun.

    • I actually thought about doing something destination as well (I think Sean especially would really love that) but ultimately decided that even though it’d probably save me a lot of planning heartache and be SUPER memorable, my thing is that I really want as many of our loved ones to attend as possible. Who knows though? Maybe I’ll have a breakdown in a few months and decide we need to ship off our planning troubles to the Caribbean, hehehehe.

  3. I imagine you are going to have the most kickass wedding in the history of weddings!

    I got married in November 2012. Here’s some pictures that were featured on various blogs (for inspiration purposes):



    Happy planning!!!

  4. Add “Monsoon Wedding” to your list! It’s a mix of comedy and melodrama, so not really light-hearted/fun, but it is an INCREDIBLE film centered around an Indian wedding.

    Our 5-year anniversary was actually yesterday, on April Fools! Neither of us is religious, and we are far from traditional, so we decided to have our actual ceremony just between the two of us at the courthouse. After that, we had two big parties. Our first was a dinner at a local farm (we are really big on local food) for just our family members and very closest friends. The night was sort of like an “Outstanding in the Field” event–a long table with all our guests, incredible local food served family-style by one of our favorite chefs, a two-man band, twinkle lights, and champagne cocktails. The next day, we hosted a day-party at a park on the lake and this was the “big” party where we invited everyone. We had tacos and bahn mi from our favorite places in Austin, and we grilled sausages from our favorite butcher to put on buns from our favorite bakery. We had a keg and a bunch of drinks, and people just talked and played games and ate and drank. There was pretty much nothing explicitly “wedding-y” about the way we did it. We just wanted to have a really fun time with all our friends and family!

    • Mandeesays:

      This sounds amazing!!!! I want to have a very very small ceremony in a church and then do the parties like this! I used to think I wanted a huge wedding with all the frills but now that I’m a little older, I see it differently. This sounds like a perfect way to celebrate spending the rest of your lives together! I would love something very small the day of and then an outdoors all day long mega-“picnic” with awesome food and music. Everyone loves good food!

    • Seriously, that sounds like an INCREDIBLE way to celebrate! You know I’m all about that food too girrrrrrl. Amazing.

  5. Ok, this comment is going to be long. Apologies in advance.

    First of all, you are COMPLETELY right about this part being fleeting, enjoy it!!! The year that my husband and I were engaged was so fun (being married rocks, too, but in a totally different way), and I actually really miss wedding planning all the time. When complete strangers tell me that they are engaged, I start grilling them for wedding planning info. I LOVED planning my wedding. People would always tell me “Oh it’s so stressful!” — it totally was NOT stressful for me in the least. It was fun, and I truly enjoyed it. I think you’ll be the same way, too, so my advice to you is that any time a decision or something stresses you out or doesn’t seem right, just go a different direction because this is supposed to be FUN.
    I actually tell my husband all the time that I’m counting the days until we can throw a vow renewal party without being considered crazy pants (we’ve been married two years, haha!)

    My advice:
    – Pick a venue that lets you do whatever you want as far as food and alcohol is concerned. This allowed us to save SO MUCH money.
    – Consider the cost of renting things. If your venue doesn’t provide linens, chairs, etc., it’s probably a LOT cheaper, but crunch the numbers of renting those things vs. a pricier venue that provides those things and I bet it’s cheaper to go with the pricier venue.
    – Make sure your guests are happy, and they will have a blast. Not to brag, but people still talk about how fun my wedding was. We got married at the reception venue and allowed people to get a cocktail and sit at their seat to watch the ceremony. I think people really enjoyed that.
    – Wait for sales for things like personalized napkins, fancy straws, and other pinterest-y items like that. They go on super sale ALL THE TIME and if you just keep looking at them you’ll know the right time to buy. Remember the more you save on this kind of stuff, the more you get to spend on important stuff like food, booze, photography and music.
    – I know I don’t have to tell you this, but make sure you put your own personal touch on everything!

    I’m so excited to read about your wedding plans and see the eventual end result! I know you’re going to have a gorgeous and fun wedding! Good luck and Best Wishes!

    • Oh! I forgot: Don’t worry too much about the centerpieces. For some reason, I considered this a VERY IMPORTANT factor in my wedding and people barely notice them ever, unless they are over the top huge and they can’t talk to anybody at their table because they can’t see around them.

    • I’m so glad at least I’m not the only one who’s legitimately looked forward to this crazy maelstrom of planning and wedding-y goodness! Thank you so much for all your advice, will definitely heed it well!!

  6. I actually just got married at the beginning of March. We had a wedding that was a bit to our own beat since we don’t really fit the mold. It ended up being perfect though. Just keep the big picture in mind and you’ll be fine. On the day of, the details won’t matter. Just who is waiting for you at the end of the aisle 🙂

    • Congratulations! I love march-to-our-own-beat weddings, and totally just went photo-stalking on your blog. It looks like it was wonderful!!

  7. Mandeesays:

    Congrats to you!!! So exciting and I totally agree with you about non-traditional engagement stones. Your ring is perfectly you! I am not married but have thought about my wedding over time. Like I said about in response to another commenter, I used to want this huge wedding and lots of bridesmaids and all the frills. Over time my style and priorities have changed–I mean I don’t even want anything close to the dress or ring I thought I wanted! I want small but fun with great food and music. Preferably outdoors. And one maid of honor/best man and that’s it. I’ve been in too many bridesmaidzilla weddings to put anyone through that experience at my own hand hahaha. There’s a really pretty winery by me that does smaller weddings. Who knows!! Everyone is different! It’s about making yourselves happy and celebrating the way you want to.

  8. Coming up on our 14th anniversary so our wedding was a LONG time ago, lol! But we worked hard to pay cash for our wedding and didn’t know have a crazy ridiculous budget. At the end of the day, it just mattered that we were getting married and it was a beautiful wedding. I wouldn’t change a thing. That said, you will get advice from everyone so just be prepared. People thought I was nuts because I tried on one dress and that’s it. I saw it in a magazine, found it in the first dress shop I went to, tried it on, and that was it. I knew it was the one. So just be you, make the decisions you want, and ENJOY!!!!! (p.s. I am excited to follow along on your journey!!)

  9. Your hair is always so fierce. My hair lives vicariously through yours! You can literally rock ANYTHING.

  10. Lisasays:

    Gretchen, I am so super happy for you! My advice would be to make the wedding personal to you. I sense that you already obviously would be inclined to do this, but David and I just did whatever we thought was most awesome and personal to us, and I think it was a fantastic wedding (you can judge, because you were there). David and I tried to make it awesome for our guests, but some things we planned didn’t happen. At the end of the day though, we had so much fun and were mainly just happy to be married (as you already covered). I know you want your guests to love your wedding, but you won’t be able to make everyone happy, so don’t worry about it. If your friends love you, they’ll just be happy for you and not complain (see: my wedding lacking alcohol AND THE SODA WE PAID FOR EVERYONE TO BE ABLE TO HAVE…GRR). I love you and can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

    • Your wedding was so special and lovely! And nobody even knew about the soda thing (although it definitely sucks that you paid for that and they didn’t deliver!), I just thought sweet tea was so ‘you’ Lisabear 😀 😀

      • Lisasays:

        I’m so glad you have good memories and feelings about our wedding. I remember you giving me a great hug and being happy for me, which made me happy. 🙂
        We decided to save money and make our own programs, then David went crazy adding special crazy touches. At the time I just let him do it but I wasn’t necessarily on board all the way. Now I am so glad he did that and it’s one of my favorite things we did at our wedding. I’m not sure what your take away should be from that, but there you go. I love you!

  11. Emmasays:

    We lived together happily for 17 years. Neither of us are religious or have any beliefs that would make “marriage” a more desired state. However, as we got older, we started worrying about insurance, end of life decisions, and things of that nature. Our state did not yet have civil unions, or we would have gone that route. As it was, we were on vacation in Tennessee (where there is no waiting period) and got a license there, with a list of officiants, called around and found someone nearby, and drove to his store, where he married us. It was very simple and inexpensive, and the one thing I would have said I always wanted at my wedding – if anything – worked out, which was to be casual and wear jeans. As a plain overweight person, I have always hated formal wear (and worn it exactly once, when I was a bridesmaid 25 years ago). It was fun to tell our friends and a task on a list to tell our families. The only down side was that we didn’t put an announcement in the paper because it would have cost more than our wedding, although I kind of wanted to, and that we don’t have any pictures, because nobody else was there. Well, and of course feeling sheepish because our gay friends couldn’t marry. This was 9 years ago.

  12. LeesaBsays:

    Don’t forget “Runaway Bride”, since she finally does get married. Plus, there’s something like 80 different weddings you get to see the decorations for (ok, exaggerating).

    My husband and I went down to the courthouse with the intention of just getting the license and booking something with a JP shortly afterward, but as we were filling out the form, this woman turned around and said “Ya’ll didn’t want to get married today, did ya?” (Obviously, we live in the South.) So we got married in the rotunda of the courthouse, which is this gorgeous 5-story open space with stained glass all around. It was surreal. And cheap. Heh.

    I’m always a proponent of not going into debt for your wedding. So while I know you’re going to have a much more elaborate event (like, say, an actual wedding), my advice is to spend just a smidgeon of your thinking space (is that a thing?) on finances. Find a couple of financial blogs that resonate with you and in 10 years you will be SO. HAPPY. that you started thinking about what you want your life to be like, and how to get there.

    Or maybe you’re already up on financial planning, I don’t know. It’s certainly not the focus of your blog. 😉


    • Funny you should mention Runaway Bride, because guess what is playing on HBO (and thus my TV) right now… hehehehe.

      I absolutely agree that finances are important to think about, and I would never want to go into active debt for what does (as much as i hate to say it) boil down to a giant party. As I mentioned in the post, my parents have generously set aside enough money to pay for the majority of this affair (I imagine, assuming I don’t go CRAZY over budget!), and luckily while I am not the most thrifty person, my sister is all ABOUT that cost-consciousness, so I’m sure she’ll keep me in check! I definitely plan on blogging about wedding costs and budgeting for sure, and A Practical Wedding is definitely a main blog on my reading rotation now, too! 🙂 🙂

      • Jensays:

        I like that you are planning on me being your budget check person LOL

  13. I agree on the finances. Some things were important for me to spend money on (photography and venue) where other things were less important (no DJ, no dance floor, house alcohol up to a point). The bridesmaids dresses were from Anthropologie and I got my sister’s on Black Friday sale. The centerpieces were $25 bookends from CB2 and vases from IKEA. My florist
    (awesome bouquets!) was great and used my vases from IKEA for me. I would limit the DIY though. I was exhausted after spray painting and cutting the place cards. We had a photobooth since there was no dance floor. This allowed me to save money for dress tailoring ($$$ almost as much as the dress!) and bouquet preservation.

    • I did my my MOB dress ($125 – Nordstrom) and dan bought his suit ($500 – Suit Supply), but custom tailored and he can wear it for anything now. My dad & brother’s suits were bought at Macys 40% off. Another thing to keep in mind is the cost of makeup and hair if you’re not doing it yourself.

      Oh, and I did pay like $300 for my shoes. ^_^

  14. Ohh, count me in as enjoying wedding posts! I never thought I wanted to get married but as I got older it became more important to me and by the time my husband and I wed, we were 34 which was just perfect for us – we were old enough to know exactly what we wanted/not be hemmed in by other people’s opinions. I agree with a lot of what other people wrote – the weddings I enjoy the most are the ones that are most personal and tailored to the couple so that is what we tried to do with ours. We were super happy with the result, it was def the best day of my life! I never thought I was the kind of girl that would say that, but here I am, lol. I originally thought I might like a small destination wedding, but when we talked it out, we realized that we actually just wanted a big party with all our favorite people. And a wedding is perfect for that – there are very few other instances where all the people from your life, from all the different circles, are in one place at one time. It is seriously love overload in the best way possible! Some of the things we did that people seemed to like (ie commented on then and even now, yrs later):
    1. a friend married us with vows we wrote (incl a reading from the Muppets Take Manhattan) and we also wrote down the answer to the questions “Why Chris?” and “Why Glen” and had our moms read the answers (so my mom read my answer and his mom read his)
    2. “Warming of the rings” where we put the rings in a small bag and at the very beginning of the ceremony, our officiant/friend told the guests that each was important to us and that we were passing around the bag asking that each person hold our rings and imbue some of themselves into our marriage. We did not really practice it, but it happened to work our perfectly in that when we were ready for them, they had made their way back to us!
    3. We MCed the reception ourselves and just skipped the things no one wanted to do (did not announce ourselves in, my MIL is shy and did not want to do a mother/son dance, no bouquet tossing) and added in other stuff (my FIL wanted to give a speech, my husband and I played a guitar/flute song together, we sang happy birthday and had cupcakes for my 80 yo grandmother). We also made our own playlist – my husband loves music and he created an AWESOME one that had everyone dancing all night!
    So basically just make it reflect you and Sean and it will be fabulous! I also love planning, so I found wedding planning to be fun, even though I never thought I would! Enjoy it!

  15. Joann B.says:

    So happy for you Gretchen! Being engaged is quite surreal and exciting! Your ring is also gorgeous – CONGRATS again!

    How about adding “Love Actually” to the list? I know you’ll have your friends offering advice, but here are my two recommendations: for cake, please check out Lora Gookin of Gateau, http://1gateau.com/ and for make-up, Jordan K. Winn, http://www.jordankwinn.com/. I love both of these ladies and they are phenomenal at what they do! Reed and I couldn’t be happier with Lora’s creations and Jordan and her team do faces and hair really well.

    I do miss being engaged, but I don’t miss the stress of planning a wedding. I do love weddings (maybe as much as you), but the planning drove me nuts. We had a small event, maybe 40 people, because we wanted a lavish honeymoon in Tahiti. The whole engagement, wedding ceremony, reception and honeymoon went by so fast that I can’t remember all of it, but I would relive it again if I had to because all of that makes me feel all smiley and warm. Can’t beat that right?

  16. My Big Fat Greek Wedding!!!!

    As for me, tiny wedding (like barely a handful of people) outside in the Canadian forest… possibly during winter… with maple syrup on a stick at the end.

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