third sunset

good morning

Project Life 2012: The End

stripey fails are still fails


This week was kind of a roller coaster. I should probably get used to it. The university is deserted, so being back at work is strange; frozen tumbleweeds tumbling down streets… and yet I’m here and stressing about some work projects that are overdue. I didn’t write a Wedding Wednesday post this week because it was hard to come up with a specific topic. Mostly because we’re in crunch time now; my mom described it as feeling like you’re being squeezed with every day that ticks off the countdown, because the to do list stays the same and the time is just shriiiiinking.

We have had our master to do list, but it turns out that rewriting and re-prioritizing it helped IMMENSELY. As did writing three other to do lists (things to buy, things to design/print at home, prints to order) and more focused lists (like “guest book assembly”). At this stage in the game, when every person I see is all “Aren’t you so! excited!!!????” and I’m awkwardly mumbling, “yeah uhh well yes? except there’s so much left to dooooo, there’s no time to be excited yet”, it seems that I need to have every single thing written down. If it’s not all written out in my notebook, I start to feel panicked. So, I’m writing and rewriting the same lists.

We are getting things done, though, and truly, the things that remain are not huge (other than the seating chart/place cards, which we can’t do until we have our final meeting – this afternoon – at the brewery. That whole non-traditional “who wants a ballroom with round tables for 10 centered around a square dance floor, anyway? The brewery’s layout is so unique!” scoff doesn’t feel as cool when you’re fielding endless questions from the florist about how long/wide the tables are, when you don’t even know how MANY we’ll need, let alone how many people will be at each one or how long they will be). Lots of little, fussy projects, like buying a unity candle, making menu cards, designing and assembling the guest book and table numbers, figuring out what my something blue is….

In other news, it has been SO cold and windy this week. My hair sticks up straight with static thanks to the fake fur hood on my winter coat, my hands are insanely dry (but I found hand lotion that I really like, for once) and the world’s supply of rock salt is in our parking lot. I may have had to turn in my hipster membership club card, but the sweater uggs I got for Christmas are SO cozy and I don’t care. All I want to do is convince Dan to eat burritos every night (but that might conflict a bit with my final dress fitting in less than a week). I just want to try to keep away from the edge of “not actually holding it together” and stay right here, where I feel edgy but not crazed. So I’m going to gaze happily at my bright red shellac manicure and the hot pink post-it heart I stuck to our wedding day on my Stendig calendar, think about the wedding idea Dan told me last night that would really rock, allow myself lots of diet coke, let myself to put down the to do lists and relax sometimes, and hope for the best.

Here’s the song for the week, “Love of the Light” by Mumford and Sons, obviously because of the “to have and to hold” bit. The video itself is pretty fantastic, once you figure out the twist.

so love the one you hold
and I’ll be your gold
to have and to hold


31 days to go!
photo by Liesl from Photo Pink; picmonkey-ed to death by me

Big stuff today, folks: the wedding is officially a month away. ONE MONTH. How is that even POSSIBLE? I can’t really believe it. A month is such a short amount of time, and it’s just so strange and exciting and strange. I think I’ve mentioned that I work at a university, and the idea that when classes are back in session for the Spring semester, I’ll be married is one of the happiest, weirdest, craziest things that keeps running through my head. We’re in good shape, although last night (as we were leaving our final meeting with our DJ), Dan said “can’t we just be married already? I feel like we’ve been planning and planning forEVER and the fact that we still have another month of it feels like too much.” I can’t say I disagree…. But to say I’m not over the moon excited (as much as I’m overwhelmed and over-using the word weird to describe how I feel about the imminence of getting married) would be a total lie. I can’t fucking wait.



I have the week between Christmas and New Years off, and I’m obviously looking forward to it. Starting a new job in the middle of planning a wedding has meant very few days off and many, many weekends and evenings booked up, so some time off is very  much needed. Even if most of the days will be busy with celebrating and family (and a few wedding things, too). Christmas is one of my favorite things, and I can’t wait to wear my giant red snowflake sweater, paint my nails glittery, and hang out with my families.

There are still things I want to do more of before the holiday season is over, namely:

  • drink holiday tea (Tazo’s Joy and Harney & Sons White Christmas) out of my giant hand painted Christmas mug
  • eat pancakes (since we can’t make it to Grandmother’s Christmas Eve pancake breakfast this year)
  • listen to more Christmas music (It’s not embarrassing to say that I need to listen to John Denver & the Muppets every year before it feels like Christmas, right?
  • Wrap the presents (my favorite part)
  • Test out our new holiday jammies
  • Watch as many James Bond movies as possible.

This weekend, we’re hoping to see the Hobbit (I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet; I saw all three Lord of the Rings movies in the theater on opening night!) and get ready for Christmas. Maybe I’ll get to squeeze some crafting in there, too.

I leave you with arguably my favorite non-traditional Christmas song (because let’s face it, Bing Crosby is where it’s at), “Christmas” by Blues Traveler. I downloaded it in college during one of my collecting all the Christmas music I could download fests, and the lyrics get me every year. It’s obscure and no one other than me knows it, let alone loves it as much as me, but the spirit of “peace on earth to everyone and an abundance to everyone you’re with” regardless of what you’re celebrating really hits home for me. And, okay, also this part:
I wish a one horse open sleigh
would come carry me away
but I’ve been waiting here all day

and one just hasn’t come my way

Wedding Wednesday: The Invitations

I’m about to reveal a real shocker here, guys. There were two things about wedding planning that had me really, truly jazzed (when many parts frightened or intimidated me, especially way back in the beginning – like finding a venue or a dress, balancing not-totally-the-same religious feelings…): a color scheme and paper goods. You never would have guessed, right? I knew it.

I spent all kinds of time browsing and, opening ones I liked into new tabs in my browser until I had so many tabs open the browser started to protest. The invitations had to come after the color scheme, or perhaps they would help us figure out a color scheme? Dan had a limit to the browsing at this point; he was more than happy to help me narrow it down from four or five choices to one, but he had ZERO interest in flipping through pages and pages of invitation styles. The really modern, nonweddingy invitations jumped out at me, of course – chalkboard style, bright bold colors, non swirly scripts. Dan’s mom surprised me early on by saying her invitation prediction was for something simple, non-frilly, and graphic. (She was totally right and I hadn’t even started looking at that point.) My mom objected to a few of the really modern ones, because as she rightly pointed out, they really didn’t look like wedding invitations at all. I never really considered printing them or designing them myself; I knew that would turn me into a bridezilla more than anything else. I suppose I didn’t need to be making these decisions so early in the process, but since we knew early that we were aiming for January 2013, we wanted to send out save the dates relatively quickly, and I really, really wanted to make sure I could find a save the date that coordinated with the eventual invitations.


The colors were the cornerstone, though, and this was really hard for me. Jodi and I pinned a whole bunch of red and aqua wedding ideas, but I just wasn’t sure. My favorite color is orange, and Dan really wasn’t too keen on that. (My sister has been terrified for YEARS that I’d make her wear an orange bridesmaid dress; I love the color but would totally not do that to her.) The tough part for me was that the bold, bright colors I love (like orange and aqua) don’t really work for a winter wedding, and if you don’t have the color represented in the bridesmaid dresses, then you’d figure it should appear in the flowers, and aqua flowers just don’t… exist. Orange would be great for a fall wedding, orange and deep red… but it just didn’t fit. And I just don’t really love the soft, muted colors that go along with most people’s idea of winter. When I’m talking colors, I’m talking bold, bright and vivid, for better or worse.

I was browsing the invitations all the time, and kept coming back to the idea of stripes. How can we incorporate stripes in a classy way? And then the universe sort of solved both problems for me, in the shape of a save the date with bold colors and black and white stripes. I sent it to my mom with a few other favorites and labeled it “the really crazy one” and to my utter shock, she loved the crazy one the best.

save the date

We ordered samples of a few of our favorites, including a few of the really elegant winter scenes, which Dan really liked. Seeing the save the date and its matching invitation, thank you card, rsvp card, and enclosure card sealed the deal, though, for all of us. The other contenders just didn’t have the right “Elizabeth and Dan” vibe – and the stripes (the design is called “Bold Geometry”) and crazy school bus yellow just felt so perfect. It felt like everything made sense, all of a sudden. Black and white is classy, the pop of yellow could appear in small ways, like the flowers, but black bridesmaid dresses for a winter wedding seemed elegant and simple and so fitting. (Even if telling people your colors are black and white stripes and yellow elicits some strange looks. But in the dark winter you need bright yellow even more than usual!)

stripes and stripes

I LOVE that the save the date had matching invitations and enclosures. We had a bit of a panic attack when we set about ordering the invitations, though, as they no longer appeared when searching the site, or browsing by any method. I could only access a few of the pieces by going through my four-month-old browser history to find the direct link to each individual card. It would have pissed me off SO MUCH if we couldn’t have all of the pieces that matched. I mean, the whole wedding was planned around this design, now all of a sudden the invitation is unavailable? You’ve got to be kidding. (It turned out that the design was being discontinued; I could still order it and customize it, but they were phasing it out in a way that made it hard to find. Thank goodness for never-cleared browser history, is all I’m saying.)

We weren’t going to go with the pockets at first, but it did make things seem more put together. Dan and my dad stared me down when I told them my plan to tie the pockets closed with black and white baker’s twine; even my mom and sister were hesitant (“no one notices these details but you, Elizabeth”) but I insisted and I’m so glad.

Calligraphy was something that I really wanted to do from the beginning but that seemed like an unnecessary indulgence. We ended up finding an insane coupon for the invitations, and then it seemed more within reach. Calligraphy can be EXTREMELY expensive, so I was really excited that we were able to find someone who could fit us in who wasn’t also charging $4 an envelope. We went with Rachel Carl, who hand addressed almost all of our invitations, and who also made us a coordinating return address stamp that we could use for return addresses on invitations and thank yous, but also for the rsvp cards. I absolutely LOVE how they turned out. It was worth every penny and I don’t regret it at all.


So here’s the whole invitation together:


the whole suite

Seeing them in person for the first time was definitely one of those Holy. Shit. moments. Our full names, our parents’ names, our wedding date. We’re actually getting MARRIED and that is so awesome. And I think our invitations are pretty awesome, too.

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.


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.


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/ 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.