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Archive for July, 2011

Dress Shopping…

I have finally decided that it is time to get serious about dress shopping (and by serious I really mean, get started). With 311 days until the wedding (theknot.com tells me every time I log in I’m not counting down every day…I promise) I’m trying to give myself plenty of time to be as finicky and indecisive in choosing a dress as I wish to be.

I used to think that finding a wedding dress simply entailed going to a dress shop and trying on dresses. This idea was quickly replaced by that little part of my brain that slowly steers me towards a path of meticulous planning. For some reason it seems to take over whenever I decide to cross things off of the wedding to-do list. As I began to browse gowns on websites I quickly learned that by visiting a designer’s website and plugging in your zip code you are immediately presented with all of the dress shops that have your desired dress within a 50 mile radius (awesome). So I did what any logical human being would do, I made an excel spreadsheet cross referencing designers, boutiques, prices, etc. for each dress. Nothing says weddings and romance like a spreadsheet (…no?…just me?).

So far I have six dresses that I REALLY want to try on. Luckily a few of the dresses are located at the same boutiques, eliminating the need to drive all around the greater DC/VA/MD area in search of the perfect gown. Of course I’ll try on a variety of dresses outside of my dream six to get a feel for different styles, necklines, material, sleeves (ok there probably wont be any contenders with sleeves, but you never know), etc. This is one of the wedding to-dos that I am most nervous/excited/terrified/super pumped about. What if I find my dress at the first store? Do I keep trying on dresses? What if I don’t ever find a dress that I like?! What if I find too many dresses that I like?  Do I like lace? What in the world is taffeta?! See what I mean…

Dress shopping is slated to begin this weekend and I will most definitely keep you all updated on any progress, frustrations, successes, and/or failures as the shopping begins.

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The Tasting

Let me start off with a warning about tastings. Tastings are not all about food. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the food is just a way to get you there to talk about things like china patterns, and day of timelines, and linens, and glassware, and how many pitchers you think you’ll need (those pitchers cost how much?!). Before you know it you’re staggering away from the caterer with words like satin, pintuck, aoili, artichoke mousse, and seafoam green colliding with the inside of your skull as you attempt to make it to your car before the ideas of twill and overlays cause your brain to shut down completely. A tasting is a complete sensory overload.

We had gone to one group setting tasting at the beginning of our engagement and were less than thrilled about the food. We waited a while to dive back into the process of choosing food for our reception and after reconnecting with a catering company that we had gotten a proposal from earlier in the year, we set a tasting up for 6:30pm on a weeknight. Based on our last tasting experience I expected to go in, taste some food, jot down a few notes, and hightail it out of there with a full belly.

Boy oh boy was this a different experience. The atmosphere at this caterer’s tasting was much different. We were the only ones there and we had the staff’s full attention. After tasting h’ordeuvres, salads, main courses, and mini desserts we sat down with the caterers to discuss our wedding day and any possible revisions to the proposal based on the tasting. We were blown away by the taste and quality of the food. Everything was delicious.

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We started right off into a discussion of the exact timeline of the wedding day.  Questions like, “Do you want to be announced or mingle with your guests at cocktail hour? Do you want to have a blessing? Will the blessing be before or after the first dance? Which shoe will you put on first? Where will the harpist be seated?” and other highly specific inquiries were flung our way.  I had planned to discuss food, I knew our proposal backwards and forwards, but I was not prepared for this level of detail in creating a rough timeline of our wedding day. We made some tentative decisions about the timeline as I hurried us along towards the food discussion.

Based on the tasting we were able to eliminate some items, rework others, and add entirely different menu options. By making a few substitutions and reworking some items we were able to reduce the final cost of the proposal to come within dollars of our budgeted food allowance. As the food discussion neared an end we immediately jumped to a discussion on china patterns and glassware design (there may or may not have been a brief argument about the height coordination of water/wine/cocktail glasses).

And then, out came the linen binder. I’m not talking about a couple of fabric swatches arranged gingerly in a delicate book, I’m taking about a 7inch binder stuffed to the brim with hundreds and hundreds of swatches separated by design and textile type. Talk about overwhelming. Because we have a pretty solid idea about our color scheme, I was able to get through the binder in record time, pulling out a few of my favorite swatches.

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Naturally my favorite swatch is rumored to be near extinction (we’re talking 5 or 6 table cloths left on the planet) and my alternates would require a switch from white plates (which I love) to cream plates (which I don’t love). Luckily, the million or so swatches that I so carefully flipped through at breakneck speed were not my only options. Because the catering company partners up with a rental facility based out of DC there is a large warehouse draped from floor to ceiling with every fabric option known to man kind (and I thought the binder was daunting).

Despite spending an exhausting two hours with the caterers we definitely walked away from the tasting feeling confident that we could cross one more item off of the wedding to do list.

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Wedding Rings

I think it is fair to assume that no one will be consulting me for advice on the most appropriate order in which to attack a wedding to-do list. At a little under a year before the wedding John and I picked out and purchased our wedding bands.

I know, I know…the wedding is a YEAR away. Our original plan was to price bands out and look at different styles to see how they worked into our budget. We started at a well known store where the selection for women’s bands wasn’t exactly stellar. We looked around for a bit and decided to check out some other options. At the second store we pulled up some chairs, sat down, and were shown a variety of beautiful bands. John wanted something simple and found rings that he liked at both stores. I, on the other hand, was a bit more picky “that band is too thick, that band is too thin, those diamonds are too big” (Okay, you got me, I didn’t say that last one). Because, apparently, I am a wedding band snob (who knew?!). I couldn’t find something that was exactly right. Luckily, the second store offered to custom make a band that matched my engagement ring with just the right size and number of diamonds on just the right width band.

After going through the process and feeling good about what we liked and figuring out the price range, we were completely prepared to walk away and come back in six or so months to make our purchase. When I mentioned this to the jewelwer/salesman I inadvertently began a game of haggling/hard ball/bargining. He started clicking away on his little calculator showing me lower and lower numbers, throwing in lifetime warrenties (which I’m pretty sure are included regardless). He knew what he was doing because before I knew it  John and I were stepping away to discuss the possibility of making a purchase on the spot. We went back and forth multiple times knowing that it was a little bit crazy to buy wedding bands this far out. We immediately rationalized our possible decision to go for it by discussing the obvious fact that we would eventually need to buy them and these were just right at just the right price. With just a little gentle nudging and a couple of favorable price discounts from the jeweler (this guy was good)  we made our purchase. We walked out with John’s ring and we’ll go back in a week or two when the mock-up of my ring is done in order to test it out before they actually make it. In a couple of weeks our rings will be sitting side by side in a super secure and secret location 😉 for the next ten months.

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