Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Plan a Wedding

Sorry for the brief absence from the blogosphere! Mr. Unicycle is home on break right now, so I'm trying to spend as much time with him as I can, even though our time together is usually spent doing stupid stuff like shopping for boring computer components and falling asleep to the Game Show Network. Now that the holidays are winding down I'm attacking my wedding (and wedding blogging!) like a vicious animal on...a not quite as vicious animal. This wedding will be pwned in the next few months! We're only 6 months out and I'm starting to feel really behind. So, my New Year's Resolution is to finish planning my wedding. I figured it was a good resolution, since it will happen no matter how lazy I get. Plus, my other resolution idea (to "not be such a bitch all the time") is already proving too difficult, and it's not even 2012 yet.

Image via Fungagz
The problem is, I'm both a bitch and an asshole. And yes, I googled "Stop being a bitch."

Going along with the New Year's Resolution theme, I thought I'd share with you my super amazing wedding organization system. I tried to buy one of those enormous pink contraptions that offered tips for wedding planning plus folders, boxes, and other nooks and crannies for storing fabric swatches, business cards, paint chips, and the like, but I realized early on in wedding planning that a tangible wedding organization system was not for me. Here's why:
  1. I sit in front of a computer all day at work, and I usually stay at my desk during lunch too. I also tend to boot up the ol' laptop when I get home from work too, meaning "the cloud" is constantly at my fingertips.
  2. Mr. Unicycle lives in another state, and we don't see each other on a regular basis. Most of our wedding conversations happen over email or on the phone, while we both are on our respective laptops.
  3. I type a lot faster than I write. Plus, you can't control+F on your handwriting. And you can't move cells around in a penned spreadsheet. You can't use your computer hacking skillz to insert formulas on a written spreadsheet either.
Image via Sophie's Favors
I could have done so much with one of these...

When I started doing actual wedding planning (the kind that requires more than just a pinterest account and a childlike idealism), I decided to create one big, monstrous, all-encompassing wedding Google doc. I was hugely influenced by Ms. Ferris Wheel's post on the topic (which is to say, I blatantly copied her style).

The first tab is Addresses, where I store all of our guests' names and addresses, perfect for mail merging! I've already used this doc for our Save the Dates, and it's even come in handy for some NWR mailing I've had to do. I even used it to find one of my friends' addresses en route to her apartment, to plug it into my GPS. Gotta love technology.

A very unnecessary, blurry screenshot. You all know how to format a spreadsheet for addresses anyway.

The next few tabs are for various vendor comparisons. I already talked about our Venues doc, on which we performed a complex statistical analysis wherein Google Docs decided which venue to choose, and I showed you a snippet of our Photographers doc too. We've also got one for Videographers (more on that later!), DJs, hotels, and the oh so cryptic "other vendors" tab.

Our Guest List doc is similar to our addresses doc, except it's where we note who is bringing a plus one, who has kids (more on that later too), and who has already been sent a Save the Date--which is everyone at this point. It's also where we figure out how much our reception is going to cost, because we assigned each guest a tag (vendor, adult guest, under 21 adult guest, or child guest), and each tag a different dollar value (depending on how much the venue charges for each type of guest--for instance, vendors are half price, children get a special, cheaper meal, and under 21 adults aren't contributing to our bar tab). Mr. Unicycle once again put his computer hacking skillz (not really) to use to devise a complex (not really) formula that adjusts the cost of our reception as we add or subtract (muahaha) guests from the spreadsheet. Super cool.
The numbers aren't very accurate right now, but we'll work on it more as the RSVPs roll in. Which won't be until we send our invitations. Which won't happen until we start making them.

Another tab is my DIY Projects spreadsheet, where I list the project I want to make, where I can find inspiration/instructions, and what I need to buy for the project. There's another column to indicate whether each project is completed, as well. I haven't used this much since I set it up, but I think it's a nice idea for other organization-minded brides.

One of my favorite tabs is our Music spreadsheet, which I already talked about in another post about song choice. As I listen to Pandora all day at work, I'll occasionally hear a song I just NEED to have at my wedding, so I'll quickly log in to my wedding spreadsheet, plop it into the document, and get back to work.

I'm keeping track of our guests' song requests via our sweet website widget, and you'll notice some overlap between those songs and our Do Not Play list...not sure how to reconcile this...awkward...

And next up, we have my least favorite tab, the Budget spreadsheet. Mr. Unicycle created this for me after I nagged him incessantly for weeks, and now I never use it because it makes me feel ashamed about all the purchases I make. He created sections for Reception, Clothing and Beauty, Decorations, Ceremony, Music, Photo/Video, Rings, Transportation and Lodging, Gifts, and Stationary. He then broke these sections up into smaller expenses--for example, Stationary has Save the Dates, invitations, and Thank You notes under it. He then added columns for how much we've budgeted, how much we've actually spent, and how much we have left over (or how much we've gone over budget). This way I can easily move funds around if my dress comes in under budget or our rings cost more than expected.
You can see that we came in under budget for photo and video (yay!) and we're planning on cheaping out on the rings.

I saved the best tab for last, and I'm going to leave you in suspense and show you in the next post because this one is too long and I'm tired. No, actually it's because the last tab (the To Do Timeline--GET EXCITED!) warrants a post of its own.

How do you keep yourself organized during wedding planning? Are you more of a tangible wedding binder type of bride, or do you like to keep things online like me?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slap a Label on It

One Weddingbee post I keep returning to is Mrs. Cheeseburger's post on unnecessary wedding details, specifically because of her custom cocktail napkins. I think personalized napkins are cool to begin with, but using your favorite love quotes instead of just your names? Amazing idea! As a former English major and literature-inclined bookworm before that, I had occasionally come across sweet quotes throughout high school and college that I thought would be perfect for inclusion in a wedding somehow. Of course, when it came time to think of quotes for my wedding, I couldn't remember what most of them were. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The real problem was that Mr. Unicycle and I are cheapskates (well, I'm a cheapskate. He's frugal.), and personalized napkins are not cheap.

Image via Zazzle
I want this t-shirt. But it's too expensive.

First I checked prices at The Knot Wedding Shop and saw that they were having a sale on cocktail napkins that came with free personalization. I got super excited and laid the smack down on Mr. Unicycle to come up with some lovey dovey quotes before the sale ended. I romantically phoned him and said "DUDE the sale ends TONIGHT! Think of some friggin love quotes, pronto!" to which he replied "Well, I can't really think of any. Are we talking song lyrics, literary quotes, adages..." I interrupted him (the sale was ending soon; I didn't have time to listen to him babble): "ANYTHING. Email me your ideas by tonight or else." Okay, I wasn't this mean. Well, yes I was. Sales make me frantic.

Personal pic
Frantic, and mean.

After I hung up with him, I realized that I also couldn't come up with any quotes. There was one quote I remember discovering in college that I couldn't remember no matter what I did. I could remember the name of my professor, the titles of every book we read in the class (I even still have all of them), and what I wrote my final paper on. But I couldn't remember what the quote was about or even which book it came from. I frantically flipped through each of the books from that class, looking for underlined love quotes to no avail. The only literary quote I could actually recall was one from Wuthering Heights that I'd fallen in love with when I was a lovesick, idealistic 17-year-old. When I rediscovered the quote I decided to nix it because it was a little too Twilight/obsessive-to-the-point-of-emotional-instability for my taste. Here's the quote:

"He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." ~Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Yeah, it's a little..much. I kind of like the sentiment, and it's kind of an eloquent way of describing the whole "soul mates" thing, but it was not the kind of thing you'd want on a cocktail napkin. I ended up choosing a less emo Wuthering Heights quote instead: "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."

After I peer pressured Mr. Unicycle into coming up with some quotes, I realized that the free personalization The Knot Wedding Shop provides was meant for smaller imprints like the couple's names and wedding date, or maybe a small image of bells or a heart. Our quotes, no matter how short, were not going to fit. That being the case, I doused the fire I'd lit under Mr. Unicycle and put the napkins on the back burner, since we were not longer relying on a sale. (For the record, The Knot seems to have sales all the damn time. And each sale is "the best of the year." And it's always "ending soon." Like Vista Print, in fact.)

Image via The Knot

I looked into For Your Party, which is the site Mrs. Cheeseburger used, but we didn't like the prices. As much as I'd love to share my love of Wuthering Heights with all of our guests, I really can't justify spending $65 on something our family would just use to wipe beef wellington crumbs off their mouths. I also checked out Napkins Personalized, but we still couldn't justify the price. They do send free samples though, and the quality was great.

I brainstormed how we could make this happen--I thought about trying to get a Yudu or a Gocco (if these can even be used on napkins...), seeing if I could run napkins through my printer (doubt it), and even ordering custom stamps from Etsy, before I decided to just forget about the personalized napkins. As Mrs. Cheeseburger's post pointed out, they are a completely unnecessary detail.

Fast forward a few weeks. I was looking for candy bags for our candy buffet, and I stumbled upon these gray and white polka dot paper bags from Hobby Lobby.

 Personal pic

Then I had a cartoon-lightbulb-above-the-head moment: what if we printed love quotes on labels and guests could use them as stickers to seal their candy bags? Labels are basically free, and this way we could come up with as many different quotes as we wanted! So I bought all the paper bags in the store (and ordered about 18 more packages), bought some square labels, and re-ignited the fire under Mr. Unicycle to get me his love quote ideas.

I used Avery stamps and was able to download a template for printing in MS Word. Then I merely inserted our quotes, printed page after page after page of labels, and cut them all apart.

Screenshot by me! No applause, just money.

I included my beloved Wuthering Heights quote of course, and one from Antoine de Saint-Exupery as a nod to my former francophilia. The Einstein quote reminds me of when I fell in love with Mr. Unicycle in physics class. He chose the Smashing Pumpkins quote (and a few more not shown), and the Lewis Carroll quote was inspired by Mrs. Mouse! But Mr. Unicycle is also a big Lewis Carroll fan (if you can simultaneously be a fan and be completely grossed out by someone). I found the other quotes online and I just liked them.

Personal pic
I'll set the bags and labels on the candy buffet, maybe in this milk glass container since you guys thought it didn't go with the other containers I bought (and you're right). Each guest can fill a bag with candy and then select a quote sticker to seal the bag with so they can take the candy to go. Genius.

Personal pic

Personal pic

Personal pic

Are you incorporating love quotes into your wedding? What quotes are you using? How are you incorporating them?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Post Wedding Diet...

...even worse than the one I used to know. It's been said, extremely misogynistically, that once you put a wedding ring on a woman, she blows up like a balloon. This statement makes me extremely angry. First of all, maybe women tend to get fat post wedding because they're having kids or their metabolisms are slowing down. Maybe it's because women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than men. Regardless, it's really none of anyone's business, and it's horrifying that not only do women have to struggle to look perfect on their wedding day, but now we also have to worry about gaining the newlywed 9 and becoming a statistic.

That being said...I am really looking forward to being able to eat whatever I want after the wedding. Okay, I'll be real: my diet since the proposal hasn't changed that much, but I am definitely depriving myself of some of my old favorite artery-cloggers, and my patience is wearing thin (unlike my waistband. Not fair). Before the ring (B.R. from now on), I ate Frosted Mini Wheats with skim milk for breakfast; now I eat a banana. B.R. I ate a salad, 2 servings of fruit, and a bag of Triscuits with a Diet Pepsi for lunch. Now I've replaced the Triscuits with another serving of fruit (who knew those little buggers had so many calories????) and I've done away with the pop. B.R. dinner was a free-for-all, and weekends? I'm too ashamed to mention them. Now I try to eat a Lean Cuisine for dins. Weekends are still too shameful for me to write about. I may or may not be eating chocolate chips from the bag as I type...

Image via Kells Craft / edited by me

I'm hoping to lose enough weight for the wedding that I can eat whatever I want for a few weeks after and end up with a net weight change of zero. Actually, a negative 10 would be nice. This Christmas, visions of sugarplums are not filling my head (what are sugarplums, anyway??). Instead, these do:
  • Italian beef sandwiches from Portillos. It's like a greasy party in your mouf. OMG I'm drooling now.
  • Lou Malnati's pizza. My personal favorite Chicago style pizza. If you're visiting from out of town, I recommend you hit up Lou's.
  • Hamburgers. From anywhere. I have a strange soft spot for patties of ground meat. In high school I was kind of embarrassed by how much I liked consuming red meat because none of the other girls ate it. I was the only girl at my table at prom to even touch the steak. 
  • Root beer floats. I went through a phase last year where I made myself one every week, and damn do I miss those frothy days.
  • Guacamole. I started liking it in the spring, and I'm still obsessed. Too bad it's pure fat.
Have you cut back on unhealthy food during wedding planning? What artery-cloggers are your pining for this Christmas?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Retro Wedding Inspiration

I like to think that my wedding will be "retro-inspired." I don't mean vintage, the most oft-overused/misused adjective in the wedding lexicon. I mean retro. When I think of "vintage," I think of faded photographs, artfully aged furniture, and whimsical wild flowers in milk glass. When I think of "retro," I think of beehive hairdo's, polka dot shoes, red lipstick, and poofy skirts. I'm not sure what era I actually like. Believe me when I say history was my worst subject ever--I'd literally rather retake calculus, physics, philosophy, even P.E. than ever take another history class. So I'm not sure if I like the 50s or the 60s, or some combination of the two. I'm not talking poodle skirts or flower power. Maybe mid-century is a good descriptor. Mad Men, Dior's New Look, and Rockabilly/Pin-up styles all intrigue me. Again, I'm not sure if those all took place at the same general time or not. I'm more concerned with applying them to our very 2012 wedding.  Instead of jabbering on, for once I'll just show you a bunch of fun pictures.

Pearls that would make Betty Draper drool

Crepe's photobooth backdrop looked retro to me. And I love it.

Image via Ruffled
Are those miniature waffles under a bell jar??

Image via Ruffled
Retro invitations!

Image via Queens and Bowl
My bridesmaids wish they could look this cool!

Image via Retro to Go
I could wear these adorable shoes!

Image via
I've featured this bride before. Even though her wedding was Nightmare Before Christmas themed, I'm still obsessed with it!

Image via Ruffled

Image via Ruffled
This may be unashamedly copied by me.

I want her mod lashes.

Image via ModCloth
Another shoe with a giant bow. Can't. Get. Enough.

If money were no object, I too would have an ice cream bar at my reception.

Image via Become Gorgeous
This might be a bit much for a wedding, but it still looks friggin cool.

Image via Ruffled
I just really like this font. And the fringe. And the sparkles. And the polka dots.

Image via Ruffled
I'm not sure I'd want to marry a guy with pants this tight (would he even be able to perform on the wedding night??), but I love everything else.

Image via Yesterday Girl
Adorable rockabilly-inspired 'do.

Image via Retro Weddings
Another amazing hairdo

Image via Design Public
And here are three pics I've already shown you.

Image via Fifties Wedding

Sigh. If money/Mr. Unicycle's opinion/my questionable history skills weren't an issue, I would do a full blown retro theme. I can't wait to pull some of these ideas into my own wedding, but I think I'll save the themes for more dedicated brides like the Nightmare Before Christmas bride!

If you had to pick between "retro" and "vintage" (according to my definitions!) which would you choose? Did/does your wedding have a theme?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Who Wants to See My Wedding Dress?

I left you guys hanging in absolutely agonizing suspense after my last dress post. My apologies. Feel free to move off the edge of your seats because the trick I had up my sleeve is about to be revealed (how did you get so lucky?)! But first...
No, I'm serious Mr. Unicycle. Get. the. hell. out. I'm about the reveal The Dress.

Okay, so when we last left off, I'd written off brick and mortar wedding dress shops, I'd decided to avoid the whole Chinese knockoff thing, and I'd dabbled in a little Mormon wedding dress internet stalking. I was left with only one choice: Etsy.

Against my better judgment, I ended up contacting the dress maker that Mrs. Pretzel had used for her wedding dress, Porshes Place. Despite Mrs. Pretzel's less than perfect experience, I decided to go for it anyway. What did I have to lose? I didn't like any other dress I saw elsewhere, and judging from Mrs. Pretzel's engagement pics dress and her wedding dress, plus all the other pictures in Porshes Place's shop, I thought there was a good chance that I'd end up liking what she made me. I sent her a doctored-up version of the Stephanie James dress I was stalking, edited artistically in MS Paint.
Images via Stephanie James Couture / edited by me
The original is on the right.

I think I literally snipped the shoulders and cleavage off another dress I found online and then spray painted some cap sleeves on her. Classy. I also sent this pic to her and asked her to do a cross between these sleeves and the spray painted ones:

Image via Shabby Apple

So basically the only thing I was keeping from my original soul mate dress was the poofy skirt. What can I say, I'm fickle. After I placed my order and sent my measurements and money, I just waited. And it didn't take very long. I received my dress in the mail about a month and a half after I ordered it. That girl is a quick sewer! (Or do you prefer "sewist?")

Once I was notified that the dress had been shipped, I stalked the package online with the tracking code for two days, waiting in agony for the dress to arrive. I was so worried it would be hideous or ill-fitting or just not what I wanted--not because I expected the dressmaker to be terrible, but because it is just such a gamble to buy your wedding dress online without ever meeting the person making it. And I really had no clue what it would look like, especially after telling her to make the sleeves a cross between two different things. After waiting impatiently for two days, the package arrived.
Personal pics

Can you feel the suspense building??

I yanked it from the box, slipped into it, zipped up the back, and checked my fine ass out in the mirror. And...I loved it! Before I show you pics, a few disclaimers:
  1. Mr. Unicycle: seriously GTFO
  2. I didn't buy a crinoline for it yet, so it looks a little like a deflated balloon right now. Believe me, it will look even better with a little more poof.
  3. It should also be ironed.
  4. It needs to be taken in because I measured myself and clearly don't know how to do it. And it should also be hemmed because I'm a shawty.
  5. it is...drumroll please...
All personal pics

Attempting to show what it would look like post-alterations. Failing at that.

Attempting to show what it would look like with a crinoline. Also failing at that.

Hawt butt shot. Ow ow.

 I saved the best for last--IT HAS FRIGGIN POCKETS. So now I can store all kinds of objects with me on my wedding day. Lipstick, a hankie, pepper spray, a mouse...the possibilities are endless.

In short: I would recommend Porshes Place to anyone who wants a vintage inspired, custom dress on the cheap. I only paid $400 bucks for this bad boy! I would also agree with Mrs. Pretzel and encourage you to get your crinoline elsewhere and set aside money for alterations. To all the people who thought I was nuts ordering a wedding dress online (which is to say, everyone I told about it): I TOLD YOU SO. 

Would you ever take such a big gamble on your wedding dress? Has anyone else gone the custom route?