Monday, March 29, 2010

Incorporating Madison into the Wedding Weekend

I seem to have strayed a bit from part of the mission of this blog: discuss planning a wedding in Madison using local resources. I think this is because I am still in the very beginning planning stages, and as of now I have no deadline. I can amble around looking at whatever I feel like with no consequences or time restraints. No more! I've been accumulating some ideas from other people to include as possible resources for weddings in this great city.

I forget where this was, but somewhere a Madison bride said she took her guests to a u-pick berry farm, and then used their yield as part of the wedding dessert. Love this idea! It's a fun group project that directly contributes to the reception. Also a great way to get people to mix and mingle.

Several brides have purposefully held their weddings downtown (coincidentally at the same location) for several reasons. Everything you need (hotels, venues, food, entertainment) is within walking distance so no one has to rent a car. Utilizing all that downtown has to offer showcases the city at its best, and also shows out-of-towners why we love this place so much and call it home.

I hope to turn our wedding into a weekend long celebration/mini vacation since everyone will be coming from several states away. I am trying to remember the things I love about Madison and using that as a springboard for planning events, venue selection, food, etc. More to follow as it develops.

Minimal Flower Centerpieces

I have been inadvertantly running into a lot of images of flowers that I love this week. The emerging trend is minimal, architectural, and colorful. Observe...
Photos via The Knot

Love these! However you may feel about The Knot and their questionable advice, you have to admit they have georgeous eye candy. One beautiful, architectural anemone. There are multiple textures between the feathery leaves, smooth petals, and rough gritty dirt to keep it visually interesting. I haven't seen a single flower in a glass with the dirt exposed like this before, and I'm really into this classy way to bring the outdoors in. I love the simplicity and elegance of it (which is our shared aesthetic). Then I found this:
Photos and other beautiful things via Eat Drink Chic
How do I love thee, individual and small groups of stunning flowers in a bud vase? I'm lucky my taste leads me towards budget-friendly flower arrangements. What's great about these is that you could do all the arrangements yourself the day before or morning of. Simply go to the fabulous Dane County Farmer's Market to browse and support your local independent farmer, choose your lovelies, and fill glasses with dirt. Sounds fun to me. You could use pretty budget-friendly stemware you already own, or hit up St. Vinny's and Goodwill to find cheap and eco-friendly alternatives. It would also be a way for people who want to help, have basic motor skills, but aren't crafty to contribute to a more communal wedding bash. They say that people enjoy something more if they make/help create it, which I think is true. It would be great if everyone could feel a small piece of ownership of the wedding day, even if it's as simple as "Yeah you like those centerpieces! I scooped that dirt in myself!" It would help add to the feeling of community support and fun I am hoping for. To illustrate, Shelby over at Midwedst offered this lovely post about her wedding flowers. I think it's so cute and perfect that her fiance's aunt is calling them "love flowers," for what else would you call flowers being hand planted especially for your wedding bouquet? That's what I'm talking, guest/family involvement, community. It will be thrilling to see how her bouquet turns out!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I promise you Krush Girls

For those of you who went to UGA, or have spent a decent amount of time in Athens, GA you will know what I'm talking about. For those of you who haven't here's the rundown. Krush Girls is an amazing duo of DJ's who throw the best dance parties in Athens in my humble opinion. The music was great and there were always great songs you haven't heard in a while mixed in with new ones. The absolute best part was that it wasn't a meat market like so many bars.

They always look like this above. Just people getting down without caring who thinks what or wondering who's watching them. I haven't experienced this kind of freedom in a space this public, and I miss it. I am not one to whistfully remember college as the best years of my life, but that atmosphere of freely dancing till you drop with your girls is one I really miss. Every time Krush Girls made an appearance we were there, and we had the best time. I think we left every time saying how this one was the best one, not the party last month we thought was the most fun. Only the MIA concert has ever surpassed it.
I desperately want to recreate this atmosphere of non-judgmental fun at the reception, and I think conjuring the spirit of Krush Girls will do just that. For those of you who remember Krush Girls, leave me some song suggestions. I plan on dancing like a maniac, so bring your dancing shoes and your game face because it is ON! We're planning on doing a DIY DJ with our MP3 players, so hooray for complete creative control! For those of you who don't dance, there will be board games et al.

Photos courtesy of Nuci's Space.

Reality Check

One of the many things I love about our relationship is that Andrew and I call each other on our a very safe and loving way, of course. Case in point:
As we were developing a food shopping list yesterday, I added that we needed to go to the mall and get shampoo. Expensive, salon brand, herbal shampoo that we've been indulging in with our extra funds. He gave me that you've got to be kidding look (everybody's significant other has one) and reminded me that I was just saying that we need to cut back because I just started grad school, and he hopes to start in a little over a year. I didn't like to be reminded of this, but he's absolutely right.
This is a tiny example, but we both routinely serve as a reality check for the other. We keep each other honest and on track. We help remind each other what's important (school, not shampoo), and I think this bodes well for the time when we do get down to the nitty gritty of wedding planning. It's easy to get carried away if you don't have something or someone to ground you. Should I spend $1.00 extra per invitation for the cooler paper? Do we have enough flowers for lush centerpieces? Whatever the issue becomes, one of us will always be there to tell the other who cares. I'm also confident that this will help us achieve a happy and successful marriage. We each feel safe confronting the other with a dissenting opinion, but it's always done in a caring way. It's never used as an excuse to attack or put down the other person. This is a small way in which I'm reminded that I have found the best person for me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Got A Dress!

I was in Atlanta this past week, and I got a dress! I am so excited! I went to Bride Beautiful in Atlanta with my mom and sister, and I ended up deciding on something a bit more bridal than I had originally been thinking of. On my first shopping adventure I didn't feel very much like a bride, if you'll recall. I tried on some completely different styles at this shop, and I definitely felt more like a bride. One-shoulder, huge poufy crinoline (just for fun and it was crazy), and dresses with beads. I guess I needed something a little more traditional after all. P.S...this store has a great selection at great prices. I paid less than half of what I had originally budgeted for my dress.

My original plan to buy something on the cheap that could ideally be altered into a functional party dress was a good one, and one I planned to follow through with, but I didn't have that feeling you get when you find something that is perfect for YOU. No, I am not in search of the illusive magical bridal high that you're supposed to have over every little detail; however, I wanted to buy a dress that I would feel excited about wearing instead of focusing only on the reusable aspect. Having the right dress and being comfortable is important to me.

I am also really glad I went with my mom and sister because they helped me pick. I could easily have gone to several stores and picked something I liked at each, but I would have had trouble committing. I am somewhat indecisive about big things, and thinking "yeah, this is nice, but what if there's something else at another store..." is so something I would do. I am sticking with the advice I took to heart and committing to my decisions. I love my dress and I'm excited about wearing it. It has all the aspects of other dresses I liked and nothing I hate. I want to alter it slightly when it comes in, but that's easy enough to have done in town.

When both your mom and sister spontaneously cry, you know you've found the right dress.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Trouble With Vintage

It seems that the dominant trend on the indie white girl wedding blogs, as well as the hipster scene, is vintage. Vintage is all the rage and it's a great way to save money, resources, and cut down on consumption. One of my issues with vintage is that I just don't fit the proportions. My hips and my bust are way too big for those little dresses! Plus, I'm tall. Vintage is pretty much out for me, plus I'm not crazy about the look for myself. I'm just wondering why this has become the mainstay of so many alternative wedding blogs. It seems that if you're a mid to late 20's woman getting married and you have a blog, then your aesthetic is largely vintage leaning towards the 50's look. When did the alternagirl wedding blogosphere become so homogonized? Where are the African American, Indian, Asian wedding blogs? Can someone tell me because I haven't found them. Are only white 20-something vintage-loving women blogging about getting married on their own terms? That can't be possible.
I am a reader of some of these blogs, and while I find them very inspirational as well as a forum for discussing issues surrounding marriage and why the Wedding Industrial Complex has made getting married such a crazy process, I'm longing for something a little different. If you love vintage that's great! Go for whatever makes you you, but personally I'm looking for a little more variety. There are a million resources for vintage shops, people who make vintage style clothes, etc, etc. If I wanted that I'd be set, but I wish the blog world would showcase something a little different. For me right now, it's pretty much OffbeatBride or bust. Are you out there non-vintage wedding bloggers? Wedding bloggers of color?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I saw this Ninja Bride cake on and I thought Andrew would like it. I showed it to him and we had the following exchange:
Me: Check it out! A ninja cake!
Him: That ninja looks pretty happy. He must have just killed something.
I love him.

Kate Middleton Wears Better Hats Than You

And me. And pretty much anybody. British ladies have this grand tradition of wearing fabulous hats at jaunty angles for special occasions, and I think that's awesome.
Check out her friend on the right! Straight class.

I am secretly in love with hats, but I never wear them because the cowboy hat is the only style that looks good on me. It's a sad, sad thing. It's because of my ears. They're pretty big and stick out a bit at the top. This past December a kid said I could be an elf with my big ears. Yeah. So, I don't wear hats, but I really want to.
I mean, come on! That hat is killer! I'm really into the idea of wearing a cocktail hat especially since I'm not crazy about veils. There's got to be something that would balance out my crazy ears. I couldn't find a millinery in Madison, but there are two schools in town with fashion design programs (UW and MATC). I don't know if they teach hat making, but it's possible. This would be a great way to use a local resource and support a poor college student.
Awesome. How can you not love that?! This last one is a little more Kentucky Derby than I'd go for, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things I Will Not Do at My Wedding

1) Bouquet toss - I loathe the bouquet toss. Any tradition that rounds up the single ladies like cattle and makes them fight tooth and nail for a bunch of flowers to signify that she, the lucky one, will be the next to get married makes me want to vomit. Marriage is an important and valuable step in a relationship if it feels right to you, but couples who choose not to get married and single women have relationships that are traditionally undervalued but just as valid. I didn't like being made a spectacle of as a single woman, and I refuse to negate your choices, future single female guests at my wedding. So, all the single ladies *all the single ladies* (I also think Beyonce is single-handedly reinforcing gender steroetypes with this crappy catchy song and others, but that's another tale for another time) you may attend without fear.

2) Garter toss - I also refuse to make a mock sexual display of myself and my husband as he ventures comically up my dress to pull off my garter and throw it to one of his dude friends. Gross. I have seen this done at other weddings and thought it was cute because the couple was into it, but when I think about doing it myself I again want to vomit.

I basically won't be tossing anything.

3) Have a head table - This is the traditional way to go, and may be a good organizational choice for larger or more formal weddings, but I hate the exclusivity and on displayness of the head table. The rest of the guests always look to the head table for their cues as to when they can eat, get up, etc. I want people to wander around freely, mingle, and not feel constrained by faux formality. That's not how we roll. I also really hate being stared at, and this would inevitably happen at a head table.

That's all the stuff I hate for now! There will be more later, I'm sure.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Becca Dilley Photography

I'm really excited to share Becca Dilley Photography with you guys because Andrew and I had a fantastic experience working with her. She is a Madison native who now lives in Minneapolis, but she loves shooting here so much she doesn't charge for travel to Madison (which I just found out from her blog). I first saw her pictures when I was an intern at the UW Press. She and her husband published a book called Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, and I was immediately stunned by her pictures. The lighting is georgeous and she uses a lot of interesting angles, but mostly I feel like she captures the truth of a moment with her photography...if that makes any sense.
To me, that means that instead of seeing a posed couple looking head-on into the camera in every shot, you may see a couple kissing but feel the emotion of the moment. I know that's the goal of photography, and I don't have a concise way to say it, but I feel like her pictures cut through any artiface and display what's important about capturing moments on film: human connection. Becca's images convey emotion in a way that I haven't seen a lot of wedding pictures do. Her website speaks for itself.
Photography is really important to me in general, but especially for our wedding. I love having a visual record of important events and people in my life to refer to. While this is a priority, I do not want to spend an arm and a leg. I feel like her prices are very fair, especially for an experienced wedding photographer. She could charge a lot more, but doesn't (and please don't start!) Also, booking Becca means you have her for the entire day. This is also really important to me in choosing a photographer because I do not want to pick and choose which 6 or 8 hours of the day will be the most important and need documentation. I'd rather have someone floating around all day snapping away at people laughing and having fun.
Plus, Becca herself is also really fun! We hit it off right away and were pretty much laughing the whole time. If you or your intended don't like to have your pictures taken she may be a good choice for your big day. Andrew hates having his picture taken and always makes weird faces, but he was really comfortable through the whole session and had a really good time. Having this level of comfort with someone so intimately involved in your wedding is really important, and we got there in no time. She also uses her skills and business to raise money for charity. We got our session by donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through her blog fundraiser. Recently, she also donated money for each comment left on her blog to Doctors Without Borders. Gotta love a girl who runs her own business and gives back.
I could only get a couple shots from our session up, but you get the idea. Check out her website, for serious.

I'm not feeling white...

When I last gushed about my potential wedding dress I threw out the idea that I may not want to wear white. I like the idea of injecting a little color and OH. MY. GOD. Look at this shit. I know, right! Gold. A gold wedding dress. Not Vegas sequins gold, but somewhat antiqued, burnished, more subtle gold. This is so lovely, and definitely something I would wear. You can't dye something gold can you? The search continues.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There is some great advice from this post over at A Practical Wedding. Meghan writes of her wedding:

"Another thing that we did that I think helped a bunch was to make decisions and stick with them...Bought a dress-done. Picked the caterer-done...I had to stop worrying about the choices we were making and just let things be done."

Love this advice because really, with the wedding powers that be shoving pictures and advertisements down your throat you could constantly change your mind. This leads me into my second attempt at wedding dress shopping. I say attempt for a reason.
I heard about Just For You consignment store in Verona, and I really wanted to check it out for the obvious budget and environmentally friendly reasons. Once I went on my first shopping trip, I figured it would be nice to get a dress picked and in the closet. The more I have checked off my list when we set a date, the better, right? I called to get their hours and the woman asks me when I'm getting married. We haven't set a specific date, but we're thinking tentatively fall 2011. I tell her this and the following happens:

Her: I'm going to tell you something that's going to sound kind of weird, but hear me out, okay?
Me: O-kaaay...
H: (adamently) You're looking for a dress too early. You need to stop.
M: (silence)
H: I know how it is, you just got engaged, you're excited, and the first thing you want to do is get a dress. What I'm trying to save you from is buying something now, growing to hate it, and having to buy another one later.
M: ...Well....that certainly gives me something to think about. Thank you.

I've seen it happen on tv where the bride wants a dress for the ceremony and a different one for the rehearsal. That's your perrogative if you want a costume change, but I do not understand growing to hate a dress you liked enough to buy and then ditching it for a whole new one! At least think about alterations or something to make it more like what you want. Come on now, people!
Obviously she wouldn't have given me this advice if she hadn't seen this happen before, but the assumption and the delivery were all wrong. She actually said the words "you need to stop" and I'm pretty sure she doesn't know me or my plans. Also, I don't like being told what to do, especially be strangers with an air of "oh, you'll see" if I don't follow their well-meaning but totally out of place advice. I imagine it's akin to people without children telling an expectant mother how to parent. The tone of this-is-what-brides-do-and-you're-a-bride-so-you-will-obsess-over-your-dress completely turned me off in all of three minutes. Sometimes I feel like I should cut her more slack, but if this is how she views a bride simply asking for her store's hours I can't help but feel it would color the whole experience. I may end up going there in the interest of investigating another local resource and saving money, but i'll check eBay first.