Engagement Photos!

We had our engagement photo session in New York City with Liesl from Photo Pink back in November, and we were both SO nervous. (Or, okay. I was nervous, and Dan was not 100% looking forward to an afternoon of getting his picture taken.) We stopped at Stout for a few beers before we met up with Liesl near the High Line, and that really helped. (Should I not advertise the beers part? hehe). We were originally going to do this photo session on the boardwalk in Asbury Park (well-documented as one of my very favorite places EVER), but since we’d booked it for two weeks after Sandy hit, it really didn’t seem like the best idea. (I still haven’t been to the boardwalk and I’m kind of afraid to go to see what state it’s in now.)

.
I was afraid we’d look awkward, or feel awkward, or smile too big or not know how to stand or act. But Liesl was awesome at getting us to chill out; we laughed a LOT that day and I think the laughter and general happy comes through in the photos we’ve seen so far.
.
.
Liesl kept telling us to, you know, act like we were just chillin on a stoop in the West Village, and we’d giggle about how that’s totally what we normally do on a Saturday afternoon. But these photos look like us being ourselves which is the whole POINT.
.
I love them. I can’t wait to see more. I’m so excited for Photo Pink to be there on our wedding day, too.

Wedding Wednesday: My Bridal Shower!

I have to be honest: bridal showers aren’t always my favorite things, and when I first got engaged, my shower was probably on the list of things I was sort of dreading, rather than the things I was looking forward to. Showers just never seem very “me” somehow; the idea of being the center of attention, and people giving me so many gifts, and games and applause and hugs… it just seemed so overwhelming.

My bridal shower was today. #nbd #holycrapguysitwassothebestdayeverrrrrr #latergram

Planning my sister’s shower this spring really helped snap me out of that kind of thinking, though. Being the guest of honor at a shower is VERY different from being a guest at a shower. It was so hard for me to remember that instead of knowing a handful of people in attendance, at MY shower, the room would be full of ladies who I know well and love and WANT to be surrounded by. The center of attention part was a little overwhelming (you can see my face getting redder and redder as the photos progress!), but it was overwhelmingly GOOD to be in a room full of so many people I like so much.

presents.

I knew what day the shower would be on (December 1), and I had a guess as to the location, but that’s all I knew. Dan was remarkably silent on the topic, which is impressive given how much I tend to badger him when he’s trying to keep a secret. (It’s a lot. Sorry, Dan.) I knew what time we had to leave, but not how long it would be until we got there; that morning I was a wreck. When we got to the restaurant and rounded the corner, I caught the first glimpse of my sister’s pretty hair and okay, I was still pretty nervous and agitated… but I kept noticing who was there and thinking “aww, I’m so happy X is here!” with each face I saw. (There were a few very close friends and family members who weren’t able to come; this isn’t to say that I didn’t miss them and wish they were there – because they’re awesome, of course.)

me and my bridesmaids

I think one of the coolest things (even cooler because it was something I was anxious about ahead of time) was seeing how these people from different parts of my life interact with each other. Logically, if I think all of these people separately are awesome, and they think I’m awesome, why wouldn’t they ALSO get along with each other? And yet, when you’re talking about internet friends and Dan’s sisters and my sister and my cousins and former coworkers and college friends and wives and fiances of Dan’s friends who are now my friends… what if it was silent and awkward and each person only talked to the one other person in attendance they knew before? But I was – and still am – so, so jazzed to see them all at the self-described Cool Kids’ Table, laughing and breaking into the centerpieces for cheese balls and having an awesome time together. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Just like seeing Dan’s sisters and my sister get along. Worlds mashed together, people, and it was so cool.

centerpieces

The details of the day were also crafty and bright and simple – which is exactly how I’d describe myself anyway, so nice. They framed recent pictures of me and Dan (downloaded from my own flickr page, I might add, hehe), made a bunch of tissue paper flowers (like I made for our apartment; now I have way more!) But the coolest were the centerpieces. I think Lindsey said she got the idea from Martha Stewart – each centerpiece was a vase filled with a selection of my favorite snacks, tied with a bow, and then filled with a selection of super pretty flowers. As I said hello at each table, I couldn’t help saying “wait – is that centerpiece full of Swedish fish?!”. They color-coded them too: lemon heads, butterscotch candies, cheese balls, strawberry hard candies, mint m&ms (green), weird blue candy, skittles and Mike&Ikes for a rainbow…. so awesome.

It was such a happy day, and I loved seeing everyone together. I got some amazingly thoughtful gifts, and I just feel so lucky to have such awesome ladies in my life.

so refreshing.

I couldn’t narrow down the photos I wanted to share, and this post is already novel-length, I’ve put a few more photos behind the jump. 🙂 Continue reading

(Late) Wedding Wednesday: Wedding Planning in the Pinterest Age

I’ve had a few already-married friends mention to me that they were jealous that I’m planning my wedding during this heyday of wedding blogs and online inspiration (okay, fine: I’m mostly talking about Pinterest), that they wished they had these sources of ideas and inspiration when they were planning their weddings. And I totally have a lot of thoughts so I figured I’d just tell y’all.

I have found Pinterest and wedding blogs to be both amazingly helpful and inspirational and yet… also aspirational and depressing. If that makes any sense. I’ve gotten tons of amazing and unique ideas that I’m actually using for my real life wedding, but I’ve also laughed heartily at some of the insanely hipster, twee, Martha Stewart-ish, and “glam” stuff out there.

I was always very superstitious about things like wedding blogs and wedding magazines. I never bought a single wedding magazine until I bought a few for my sister right after she got engaged. I definitely didn’t create a Pinterest board for my “one day wedding” (see also: I’d love to pin ideas for future babies but: jinx). So getting engaged was like getting a free membership to a secret and exclusive club I’d wanted to be a part of for years (and okay, it also felt like that because I really, really wanted to be engaged to Dan). I wish I was exaggerating when I say that I bought a new wedding magazine during every trip to Target, a pharmacy, the grocery store, a bookstore during that first month or two (or three). (I have a massive stack of wedding magazines that’s at least knee-high next to the couch. Not lying.) I subscribed to a hearty handful of wedding blogs (My favorites were and still are A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, The Broke-Ass Bride, although I’m still subscribed to at least seven others). And before I could dive into Pinterest too deeply, Jodi had created a group Pinterest board called “elizabeth is getting married” that Cynthia and Irma could also use to gather ideas for me. It was AWESOME.

I pinned like crazy, and carefully pondered each idea Jodi or Cynthia or Irma pinned. I used washi tape to mark pages in the stack of magazines. And slowly but surely, I started to get REALLY overwhelmed. A Practical Wedding refers to the wedding magazine/blogosphere/knot.com monsters as the “Wedding Industrial Complex” (WIC) and they couldn’t be more right. If you look at that stuff too much, it’s so easy to lose your head and with it, track of what you want YOUR wedding to be like because you’re consuming so much “advice” and “must dos” and “helpful tips”.

Because while there are really helpful ideas out there, there’s also a lot of really impressive and amazing stuff that makes my eyes fall out of my head, basically. Pinterest features a LOT of weddings that take place in barns or in meadows or historic lofts in which the bride and groom printed every piece of paper themselves and made their own bouquets or strung 90 strings of lights from the ceiling or collected antique dining chairs for a year leading up to the wedding so they would have that perfectly rustic vintagey feel in that sunny meadow.

And I see beautiful pictures like that and I’m all “but what if it RAINS?!” and “where did you STORE the damn chairs?” and I really start to lose it.

A good example of something I’m particularly stumped about (and have turned to Pinterest for inspiration for) is a backdrop for our ceremony. And I’ve found some really wonderful stuff like this:

And then I have to fight the urge to shout at my computer screen because HONESTLY. Yes, a giant wall filled with pom poms or paper chains or twinkle lights in a variety of sizes looks AMAZING. But who has the time to make that many damn paper chains or pom poms? I sure as hell don’t. I barely have time to remember to rsvp to people’s birthday parties right now.

But look at some of the amazing ideas I’ve stumbled upon:

So I don’t know. I think part of it was that by the time we got about 2 months in, we really knew exactly what we wanted to do, so seeing inspirational ideas wasn’t necessary and only made me doubt what we’d already settled on. And while Pinterest is awesome, it is also really guilty of the braggy sort of Martha Stewart-style inspiration: it’s lovely and impressive but who really has the time to do that kind of crap other than Ms. Stewart herself (or her hired minions)? I had to just stop looking at the wedding corner of the internet for a really solid chunk of the spring because it was overwhelming me and stressing me out to see the amazing and pretty things other people do for their weddings.

So I guess that’s my conclusion about Pinterest and wedding planning: sure, it’s helpful. That “elizabeth is getting married” board has been so fun. Do you really wish you had it? Maybe not.

Wedding Wednesday: The Where and the When

Well, folks, we’re under two months to go, and I honestly have no idea how that happened. (53 days as of this writing!) We’re definitely in go-go-go mode right now, and we’re really trying to get a little bit done every day, even if it’s something seemingly small like spending an hour on etsy browsing wedding program ideas and printable options and just … pondering them. (That totally counts.) After a trip to a local jewelry store last night to look at wedding bands, Dan and I ended up at a local brewery drinking beer samplers, and it got both of us thinking about how we ended up with the wedding we’re going to have.

Triumph bokeh

We’ve been to a whole lot of weddings by now, and a lot of different types of weddings. But getting engaged has a way of forcing you to really, REALLY think about what you can picture for yourself (or in our case, what you can’t). My parents had toured a lot of wedding venues when my sister and her now-husband were looking, and my mom had set a few aside in her head “for me”, or perhaps better: she knew I’d really love them and intended to take us there. That was a surprising comfort, because I was honestly feeling at the time that we’d never find a place that felt like “us”. Neither Dan nor I could picture us having a big ballroom wedding, no matter how hard we tried. I would have loved a beachy setting, but I never wanted to get married in the summer, plus, my sister reeeeeeeally wanted a beachy wedding, so I wanted her to have that (especially since I wasn’t, well, married to the idea anyway). We loved the historic inn where a few friends got married, but that was uniquely their place, so that was out, too. And then we started down the road of whether we’d get married near where my parents live/where I grew up, near where Dan and I live now, or near his parents.

All of these mental paths just made us both shake our heads and joke about eloping. It’s not that we expected it to be easy, or we didn’t know that we had to visit a bunch of places… it was just hard for both of us to imagine having to tour a bunch of ballrooms in search of some unique, off-beat type place that would feel like us (when we knew it had a high possibility of turning into a Quest). We didn’t want a Quest.

Amid all of this, though, picking a time of year was a lot easier than we expected. We got engaged at the end of January 2012, about a month after my sister got engaged. (The common refrain: “Both of you?! Your poor parents!!”) They decided very quickly that they were going to get married that summer. Dan’s sister’s wedding was already planned for November. We knew two things:

  1. We didn’t want to wait more than a year or so to get married; we were 30 and 36 when we got engaged as it was.
  2. We didn’t want to squeeze our wedding in among the weddings of people we loved. We didn’t want to take away from their time in the spotlight (or stress them and us out with prep and related events) BUT we didn’t want to give up our time to be special, either.

So with those factors in mind, the summer was out, fall was pretty much out, December was out because of the holidays (although: Christmas wedding? twinkle lights? hard to resist), and February was out because I wasn’t going to have a Valentine’s Day wedding, no way, no how. And so January it was. That part was really pretty damn easy.

Meanwhile, we were putting my parents off on scheduling any venue visits (we were all busy planning my sister’s wedding, remember? It was very easy to just be all “oh, well, we’re thinking about it…”). At home, when it was just the two of us, we kept coming back to this idea that seemed WAY too crazy to even tell anyone about.

See, an idea got planted in my head without my intention way back in 2009 when I was writing my 28 Things to Do Before I Turn 28 list. I had heard of Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton, and the first time I googled it, Google helpfully suggested I might be searching for “triumph brewery wedding”. I clicked the pictures at the time and thought it was pretty cool except who actually gets married at a brewery? Come on now.

Since that first visit in January 2010 (I just checked – late January. Figures, right?), Dan and I have slowly become totally obsessed with Triumph, and not just because I find beer samplers to be one of the happier things on earth.

Samplers all around

So back to trying to come up with ideas for the wedding. I couldn’t escape that little voice in my head that kept saying “What about the brewery?” and once I said it out loud to Dan, I really couldn’t let it go. He felt the same way – it was the only possibility we’d considered at all that felt anything remotely close to right.

And that’s when all of the worries about doing “normal” wedding things show up. And how will we convince either set of our (fairly traditional) parents that this was a good idea? I was afraid to mention it, especially once I realized how much my heart was completely set on it, how much I couldn’t picture our wedding happening anywhere else. Yes, it’s our wedding, but that doesn’t mean that what people like our parents think goes right out the window. So we finally told them, after quite a long time of talking about it together. When I confessed that I was afraid to tell her, my mom finally said the equivalent of “dude, don’t be crazy. As if we’d prevent you from having your wedding somewhere you’re both so totally in love with.”

We were still afraid that the cost would be preventative (I mean, somewhere as cool as Triumph has to be so expensive it goes right off the table, right?), or that our parents would finally see it (it’s incredibly hard to describe if you haven’t been there) and hate it, or that we wouldn’t be able to accomodate guests who can’t do stairs, or or or.

We took both sets of parents there, and they were impressed with the vibe, and the food, and could see how excited we were. (Fun fact: when we took Dan’s parents there, I spilled a full beer on myself, down my jeans, into my chucks. Smooth move! Are you nervous or something? Also, way to waste something so very tasty.) When we first met with the event coordinator, it started to feel like it was TOO easy. He had great ideas, and thoughtful answers about all of our concerns. He suggested things for our placecards and favors that we were totally jazzed about. And the food. I mean. The food there is amazing, and that’s not even factoring in the beer. It really felt too good to be true. Except it wasn’t. It was real and we signed on the dotted line and it was pretty damn awesome.

It’s still off the beaten path, and we do sometimes get strange looks when we explain to people that our reception will be at a brewery (Yes, they’re closing the whole place down for us! Don’t worry, they have other drinks, too!). Some of the details have been tricky to figure out (where would the cake go, and is the area that will become the dance floor big enough, and what about coats?), which is where a more traditional, well-oiled wedding machine venue might have been easier… but we seem to be working things out pretty well. And the bonus is that every time I stop myself from getting bogged down in the silly details and remember “Hey we’re going to drink Triumph beer at our wedding!” I’m overcome with excitement.

So I’m pretty sure this is the only way it could have gone. And it’s gonna be pretty awesome.

Wedding Wednesday: How We Met

I suppose it’s strange to say this in a post titled “How We Met”, but the truth is that neither Dan nor I really remember exactly when we met. I’ve stayed close to most of my college friends, and at some point somewhere in 2005 (he’s in the background of my photos from the 80s party in fall 2005), Dan became a part of that larger group of friends. I don’t really remember meeting him, just that after a certain point, he was a fixture. In those early years, (or, okay, until the winter of 2008) I was always dating someone else. (And when I ask Dan about meeting me or if he liked me back then he says, “You were always dating someone else.”) I don’t know how much we really interacted within the larger group, which often got together for poker nights or bigger parties. I remember blips of Dan: the 80s party when he wore a full on Ghostbusters costume (complete with proton pack) the night he took over my poker hand and won lots of money when I had to leave early. After my last breakup in winter 2008, and two back-to-back longer relationships, I knew I needed some time on my own, and that’s naturally also when I noticed Dan a lot more. (There was one poker night that spring where I thought, “I really like the sound of his voice.”)

A group of us went to Cape Cod in June 2008, and Dan wore Led Zeppelin t-shirts (the rest of my college friends HATE classic rock) and talked obscure Mets relief pitchers with me (the rest of my college friends also HATE baseball) and when he left a few days earlier than the rest of us, I was so shocked that I missed him.

That summer, when I was thinking about what I wanted to do with my friends for my birthday, I decided it would be a great idea to make them all go to a minor league baseball game (remember when I said they all hate baseball?) because I knew Dan liked baseball, and maybe that would get him to come.

Hey everyone, look over here!

He came. And we sat next to each other and talked the whole time; Amy told me later that Dan hardly talked at all when I was out of my seat getting more beer. It was so magical. Baseball at night is magical as it is, but that night, it was different and I KNEW I wasn’t imagining it. (I have a long history of liking people who never liked me back, and used a lot of ink in my journals dissecting things they said, wondering if they might like me back.)

I actually had a blind date the very next afternoon, and when I got home from said blind date I couldn’t stop comparing that guy to Dan, and how I felt with Dan vs Blind Date Guy. And so on Sunday night I wrote Dan an email that goes down in my personal history as the only time I EVER flat out told a guy that I liked him, rather than waiting for clues or for him to make a move. (Or, okay, I told him that Saturday was magical, and not just because of the baseball.) And then I had tiny panic attacks every time I opened my inbox, until two days later when I received the most swoon-worthy email from Dan ever. (Seriously, I just re-read it: still swooned.) So I wrote back and said “dude, we should hang out sometime.”

And then I didn’t hear from him for over two months.

No seriously, he wrote back to that email, but it was two months later. During those two months I drafted clever multiple choice quizzes to send Dan to determine why he never wrote back; I practiced my death glare in case I saw him at a party; I pondered just ignoring him forever; I cultivated conspiracy theories; I wondered if I had the guts, if I saw him in person, to just say, “Dude. WTF?”; I just couldn’t let it go because I was so sure that I hadn’t imagined it this time. So, so sure.

And it turns out, I hadn’t imagined it. Dan was just concerned about the “dating in the group of friends” thing, and his crappy work schedule at the time, and the age difference (he’s six years older), and a number of other things. I told him he was a dummy, once I finally had the chance. When he did write back, he asked if he could take me on a “proper date”, on which we talked for hours and hours and we both instantly felt 100% at ease and comfortable.

I knew right away that what Dan and I had was something pretty damn special, and that I could really, truly picture it lasting. (Don’t worry, I gave Dan a lot of crap for taking so long to figure it out.) I’m so glad that I was right.

this week in wedding plans: Our engagement photo session! Getting the ball rolling for our favors! I might even open the box that my veil came in over a week ago!

Wedding Wednesday: 88 Days To Go!

Last week, we hit what was, to me, a big wedding planning milestone: 100 days to go. I’ve done my fair share of daily photo projects, so I know that 100 days can either fly by or drag infinitely. Somehow, I have a feeling that these particular 100 days? Will be gone in the blink of an eye. Between now and our wedding day, we have a trip to Barbados for Dan’s sister’s wedding, Thanksgiving, my bridal shower, Christmas, our bachelor/bachelorette parties, and New Years, not to mention countless birthdays and other things that need to be celebrated. So yeah, it’s gonna fly by.

Milestones turn me introspective (what can I say? I’m sentimental AND I like numbers and neat, orderly things and traditions; it doesn’t take much to make me introspective) and it started to bother me that I haven’t really documented the wedding planning process much. Some of it is in my Project Life pages, to be sure, but it’s not the same as taking a minute to explain why dress shopping stressed me out so much. Or how I don’t understand why I feel so ambivalent about certain details and VERY intent on how other details should be. So I thought I’d start a weekly series (I’m very original, of course, because no one has ever thought to write Wedding Wednesdays in the history of blogging!) and share some of the details. I can’t promise that I’ll give everything away; some of you out there will be AT my wedding and it’s no fun if you know everything ahead of time.

We have been engaged and actively planning our wedding for about ten months now, and I’m still surprised at myself at how I’ve handled it. Let’s be honest: I tend toward OCD levels of nitpicky sometimes. I can be a perfectionist. I love to make things and have strong opinions about what I like (or better: what I really, really don’t like at all). I’ve wanted to do things a little differently than others my whole life, but I don’t want anyone to be mad at me, either. I am not someone who will ever be called girly. I hate dancing. I always figured wedding planning would stress me the HELL OUT because of all of the details that need to be perfect, or all of the crafty things I could overwhelm myself with, or with wanting to be So Unique and I’ve seen that before so we have to think of something else.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been to a bunch of weddings, or I knew what I wanted more than I thought, or it was easy to eliminate so much because it didn’t feel like “me and Dan”, or because I helped my sister plan her wedding this year, too… but for whatever reason, I have NOT been sweating the details. (That is not to say I haven’t had my fair share of cry-fests during the last ten months about wedding details!) It seems that for most of these wedding decisions, I think about it a bit, have seen some things on wedding blogs or Pinterest, and then I know what I want to do and it’s over. Meg Keene’s A Practical Wedding book was really helpful in suggesting that we come up how we wanted the wedding to feel/look/the basic vibe right at the start, as it would help guide the whole planning process. We knew really early on that we wanted to go for simple, classic, no fuss, but with modern or slightly off-beat touches like black and white stripes and bold yellow. And with that feel in mind, it has been really easy to say “no, roses are more classic and simple, so let’s do that instead of that super pretty mixed bouquet” or “here’s a simple striped wedding invitation that has matching save the dates and thank you cards in colors we love” and just … stop browsing.

I think my “oh crap! 88 days left!” stress mostly comes from the fact that many of the things that are left, like designing and printing place cards and programs, or small details like what will the cards go in at the reception, are things I haven’t thought about yet. Sure, it’ll be 100% doable to print place cards and programs at home. But what about the FONTS! (Dan really, REALLY doesn’t care about fonts.)

So. 88 days. Just under three months. Holy crap.

Wedding Countdown Paper Chain!

Not long after we got engaged, I found an app for my phone that let me see right on my home screen how many days were left until our wedding. (And actually, I kept two widgets: one to count down to my wedding, and one to count down to my sister’s wedding. We both had them and exchanged a lot of amazed texts as the numbers have gotten lower and lower.) I like numbers and quantifying things, so seeing this every day has been both interesting and hard to believe. I’m not sure when I got the idea in my head to make a paper chain to count the days left, but once it lodged in my head, it was very hard to forget about.

But it was one of those crafts that seemed crazy, like, okay, you’re going to cut out more than a hundred strips of paper only to tear them off? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to wait until there’s a month or two to go? But reasonable isn’t always my prominent characteristic when it comes to projects, so in one of my random Target runs, I found myself buying a scrapbook paper pad. The cheap price was my excuse, but let’s face it: as soon as this idea planted, it was absolutely going to happen. So one Saturday afternoon when we were firmly entrenched with no plans (and Dan reeeeally wanted to spend the day playing Xbox, so I needed something to keep me busy anyway), I started calculating. How many strips would I need? How many of each color to keep it balanced? How many of the 8.5″ square sheets would I need if each strip was an inch wide? You know. And I set to work.

chain1
Cutting the strips was a little tedious, but ultimately easy with the paper cutter. I used my tape runner to glue them all together, one by one, starting with 0: Wedding Day!!

chain2
I made a special link for our wedding day and for one month to go using my chevron stamp and some washi tape. And I numbered the links to make sure I didn’t lose track of where I was (and so we’d know as we tear them off where we are).

chain3
As the chain grew and grew and grew .. into the living room, Dan just kept giggling at me.

chain4
I tried to keep the colors disbursed as evenly as possible, and using the scrapbook paper pad was fairly smart on my part, because at least all the colors coordinated without me having to think about it too much. (Because you know I’d over think that.)

chain5
Dan helped me hang it up (trusty Command Christmas light hooks to the rescue yet again!) and it was fun to figure out how to drape it across our fireplace artfully. We’re already looking forward to re-hanging it as the links disappear. I took these photos when we had 169 days to go; as of this writing we have 160 remaining. We are both totally loving the visual representation of how far we have to go… it’s hard to believe, but pretty damn exciting all the while. And you know these 160 days are going to FLY.