Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hitting up the Big Apple

The future Mr. Palindrome and I were in NYC a few weekends ago as he was finalizing his MBA school choice. We enjoyed being wined and dined and the fabulous views that went along with big windows on top floors in the financial district.

Before I joined in on the academic fun, I met up with two of my bridesmaids from the area for a crash course bm dress shopping outing. Using the tips from the local NYC hive, I pieced together a mini-itinerary for us.

First we met at Starbucks for some caffeination. Google maps will tell you there's a Starbucks in the same location as the Macy's Herald Square. I was expecting it to be on the street level, but instead, it's actually inside the Macy's. And there's not just a starbucks, there are 6! I recommend the balcony one overlooking the purses though. It also happened to be timed during a garden show, so the balcony gave us good views of flamingos made out of azaleas and about 1 million tourists taking their pictures in front of them.

From the Starbucks, we made our way up the ancient escalators (that must have been around during the filming of Miracle on 34th Street) to a floor full of dresses (maybe 5 or 6?). The junior's side was chock full of prom type stuff and we quickly determined we had outgrown these looks. We walked a block inside the store to the opposite end to find the ladies cocktail dresses.

I think the best look on my bm, D, was this Calvin Klein square neck pleated dress:

My FSIL, J, looked amazing in a dress that is similar to this dress from Charlotte Russe. Except the dress at Macy's was mostly black and only the inside layer of the bust was ivory.

When we got dressed out and hungry we started walking towards the spot that Google maps told me 'wichcraft was. I had my heart set on one of their grilled cheese sandwhiches. We walked and looked and couldn't figure out just where it could be, when it dawned on us, it was inside Bryant Park! There were a few little stands and since the weather was the most gorgeous it had been all spring, we grabbed a table under an umbrella. I highly recommend the grilled cheddarsmoked ham, pear & mustard on cranberry-pecan bread. Yumm-o!

Then, since I'm a sap and like to "capture the moment," we took turns taking pictures together before J had to jet off to catch her train home.

J and D in their sunglasses glory

D and me - and my poor little arm that got a smidge of sunburn

FSIL and Me

D and I also headed to Lord and Taylor where we tried on just a few dresses that didn't really have any potential. However, we did find some fun jewelry! Then we treated ourselves to ice creams! I loved that I could introduce my FSIL to one of my best college friends and that we got to enjoy a beautiful spring day in the park.

Did you go to a big city to look for dresses? What was your experience like?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Inspiration boards make me think of short boards

which make me think of board shorts, which make me think of the beach. And down the rabbit trail I go.

Anyboard, I pieced this bad boy together for a long time. Who knew it would be so difficult? Somehow, Snippet & Ink manages to make one every other day. She may make hers in photoshop, but I was going non-technical and cropping my images in PowerPoint. I'll show you a little tutorial and then the finished product!

Step 1: Open ppt. duh.
Step 2: I find it easiest to start with a blank slide, so just delete the default text boxes.
Step 3: Go to Insert>>Picture>>From File and then choose your file from the myriad of pictures you've inevitably downloaded during marathon searches.

Step 4: Start by inserting an "anchor" photo, one that you think is important and that you want to be the focus. Crop it and make it the size you want.
Step 5: Insert some other photos you like and start to arrange them around each other, mindful of the color interplay.

See, this one isn't floating my boat. Even though I love the paper doily lanterns, they're too warm for the board. I'm going for cool and wintery, sophisticated wedding. This is more of Home and Hearth warm. Lovely idea, but for another board. Off you go doily lanterns!
Step 6: Arrange and rearrange. Save a copy then save it as something else and change it all around. At some point you have to stop and be "finished" but make sure you're happy when you do.
Step 7: When you're happy, click and drag your mouse around the entire block until all the photos are highlighted. Right click, Grouping>>Group.

This will keep them all together. Right click again and choose "Save as picture." I've found the best luck changing the file type to a .png - it seems to upload to the web the best and keep my image in tact.
Step 8: Upload the pic to your blog or whatnot.

Now here's the hard part . . . remembering where you got your images from so that you can easily cite the sources. Anybody got a fool proof way of doing this? Because my list below took me 30 more minutes to recreate . . . Boo, lack of forward thinking while I was collecting these boogers.

Anyways. From L to R starting on the top row:
Art Deco Rhinestone Drop Earrings: Tees and More
Vintage dress display: Vintage Glam Weddings
Bridal Bouquet: Design Whimsy
Custom Feather Bridal Shoes: Emmy Custom Made Wedding Shoes
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Liberty Film Festival
Lauran Bacall: Janez Life and Times
Wedding Dress: Pronovias 2008 Collection
Flawless Invitation: eInvite
Maui Coconut Cake: Marney Cakes (accessed through Inspired!!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Did you ever participate in Book-it, the pizza hut literacy program? Back in the day, I would read my little heart out for the reward of my very own personal pan pizza. Nummeh nummeh! Get in mah tummeh!

Nowadays (who knew that was all one word? you did if you read!), I read for either the pastoral or the relaxation benefits. I started to read, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie thinking it would benefit my work life and my business practices. Turns out, this is just a great book for interacting with people period.

If you are planning a wedding, or ever interact with other human beings, I highly recommend this book. For the application of wedding planning, I think that the principles outlined by Dale Carnegie could protect you from transforming into a Bridezilla. Seriously, (and I know I'm starting to sound like an infomercial now) following the principles in this book will help you to get more of what you want with less stress.

I have a personal testimony now (I promise this is for real the way the Shamwow isn't!): At work, I tended to be upfront and professional because I thought I was battling the stereotypes that older, retired military males put on young female professionals. I was playing hardball to earn respect. Sometimes I would be stonewalled or ignored. I started using the principle of starting my correspondence with a compliment. The change in responses I started receiving was drastic. I got emails returned to me quickly and positively.

Now, take this principle away from work and turn it on the wedding industry! I really wanted some honest feedback about a particular venue. I had seen the venue featured in a photographer's blog. What I really wanted was to say, "Do you like the venue?" and for the photog to say yes or no. But that's not how you go about it. Instead, I emailed the photog and started by saying that I had been following his blog. That I liked the feel of his pictures. That I especially liked such and such's wedding with the black and white photo of the cake cutting. I got a great response and was able to chat with him about the venue and about their photography. In fact, the photographer has offered to extend his 2009 prices to me.

Read the book. Practice the principles. Tell me your success stories!

Monday, April 27, 2009

And then there were two

Venues that is. We've officially narrowed it down to two venues and unofficially chosen one. I can't reveal it yet because we haven't signed, but I thought to tide you over that I would post the inside pictures that the Future Mr. Palindrome took when we visited.

Drum roll please.

First the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach:


Cocktail area



Grand Ballroom

Are you holding your breath to see the other finalist??

Hold no longer - take a deep breath in!

Fredericksburg Square:

Chapel Area

Cocktail area


Fancy self-playing piano

When the contract is signed, I'll have a venue contract completion party! Seriously, this has been the hardest part about the wedding. It can only get easier after 4 months of venue searching right?


Yeah, right!

Martha, Martha

Don't get me wrong. I love Martha as much as the next girl. I remember first seeing my beloved green milk glass dishes on her show and coveting them. I remember her introducing me to the wonders of the KitchenAid stand mixer. She gave me the courage to explore cookies and cakes from scratch. Then she went to jail at a compound modeled after my university.

So you see, Martha and I have a complex and twisted past. Even so, I signed up for her daily wedding inspiration e-mails. About once a week or once every other week, I'm pleasantly surprised with something relevant. Every other day though . . . well I get an email like this:

Consider lesser-known types of flowers for your bouquet. For example: Ranunculus, while not nearly as popular as roses, can make just as beautiful of a bouquet.

While this bouquet does look different than a lot of bouquets out there, Martha (or should I say Darcy) is about 6-8 months behind the times. A quick google search of "ranunculus wedding bouquet" turns up 13,800 hits. A quick scan of the April Wedding Bee Posts, turns up quite a few too. The Ranunculus is no longer the wall flower, it is THE flower.

When I first saw it used, I thought I had fallen in love. Then I realized every other bride out there was thinking the same thing. AND it's not quite in season in January. Sigh.

Have you ever seen an idea for you wedding and then realized that you were the latecomer to the idea? Did you go with the idea anyways? Or were you turned off since everybody else was doing it?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I didn’t play varsity softball for nothin’!

The years I spent riding the bench and shagging balls during batting practice finally came in handy this past October. I was rearing to go to my friend Catie’s wedding. She and I had bonded over our long distance submariner boyfriends long before we were engaged. I was really looking forward to her wedding at the Naval Academy and I had my eyes set on a certain prize.

The future Mr. Palindrome and I had been dating for 4 years. For about the past 2, I had been actively pursuing the coveted bouquet at every wedding we attended. In 2008, we were invited to 8 weddings and attended 6 (3 were on the same day!). Catie’s wedding was the last wedding of the year and my last chance to score the lucky blooms. I had been so close on previous occasions and I had been testing the right distance to stand behind the bride based on her height and my perception of her arm strength.

Finally, the wedding day had come. The Future Mr. Palindrome was part of the sword arch and was dressed in his formal whites. Those whites just make me weak in the knees. Seriously – look at this blind look of adoration!

When we arrived at the reception, I quickly sized up the dance floor and began some pre-toss stretching. I monitored the DJ to get a feel for his style and pace. Since I’m a lot more agile prior to a belly full of chicken and steak, I was hoping for a pre-dinner start time for the toss. No such luck. Dinner arrived and I had to exercise self-control so that my food baby wouldn’t hold me back.

The announcement for the toss found me clammy and pale. This was my big moment. It was like pinch hitting at the bottom of the 9th in the division championships after the star shortstop breaks her ankle. The DJ called us to the floor. I strode onto the floor as though I were walking to the plate. The music started and I saw Catie wind up for the first and only pitch. This was do or die, right here, RIGHT NOW.

I crouched in the ready position. She released! I followed the bouquet on its long arch above the dance floor. I took a step back hands up and ready. I could see it all in slow motion, the other pawing hands trying to swipe near my open palms and the hydrangeas and roses tumbling from the sky. Then I closed my eyes.

I opened my eyes half expecting to see the bouquet in my hands – like a snow cone catch where you never really felt the impact but you were able to save the catch by squeezing the glove shut.

But it wasn’t there. Another girl scooped the bouquet off the floor.

Then you know what that little stinker who caught the bouquet did? She turned and gave it to me. She had heard me talking over dinner about how I was really hoping to catch it this time. Some would call it a pity bouquet, but I was so touched by the gesture that I strutted it around just like I had caught it myself.

Turns out, the joke was on me because this DJ was the kind of DJ who made the groomsman who caught the garter place the garter on the leg of the girl who caught the bouquet. Poor groomsman, he was sooooooo red with embarrassment! I hammed it up and enjoyed every minute of my bouquet catching glory.

To prove it, here’s an animated picture of me telling the bride how it all went down:

10 weeks later, the Future Mr. Palindrome proposed. Coincidence? I think not!

Have any of you ever caught the bouquet?

The last two pictures are courtesy of Catie's wonderful photographers: Egomedia

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Palindromes make their WWW debut

Anyone ever pronounce it de-butt? Hahahahahahahaha - I find the spelling of debut funny in a very 7th grade sort of way.

Anywebsite, back to the story! After about 2 days of researching, penny pinching, hemming and hawing, Miss P, our event designer pulled through in a big way. She suggested looking at:

My Wedding

I know what you're thinking. I'm psychic like that. It is a terrible home page. Just move past that and click on Free Websites on the top navigation bar.

Just look at some of these amazing designs!

I found about 4 designs that also had color combinations in our palette. I didn't feel like I was "settling" for a design that didn't sing to me and I didn't feel like I was handing over a lot of money (because it was no money at all!). What's more, I didn't sacrifice functionality. I'm still getting an RSVP tracker, music player and more extra pages than we'll know what to do with. Really, it was the perfect solution for us.

I've only gone live with the homepage, our story page, guest book, and contact us. As soon as I figure out the venue for sure, I'll add all of information before we send the save-the-dates.

Here's a shot of the top half of our homepage:

For privacy's sake, I've sloppily edited our names and date with the spray paint function in paint. How 1999 is that? Awesome.

Was the wedding website important to you? Any other great free sites you've used?

Monday, April 20, 2009

www.[insert website here].com

I love the idea of the wedding website. Like Save-the-Dates, sometimes I think they're narcissistic, but also like Save-the-Dates, they really come in handy! I reference the websites of marrying friends at several points during the planning process, especially if I'm attending the wedding from out of town. Due to the majority of our guests traveling from out of town, we considered a website to be a must.

I browsed all of the well known providers plus a few. I knew that we weren't quite tech savvy enough to create one from scratch, so we went with the pre-designed ones created especially for weddings. Here's my list:

Wedding Tracker
Pros: Recommended by our Event Designer, Flash Designs
Cons: The themes didn't fit the feel I was going for

Pros: Great designs! Starting to get close on the feel
Cons: A tad more than we wanted to spend
In fact, I almost splurged for this theme because I was getting really frustrated with the lack of neutral colors available across the board.

Wedding Window
Pros: Great designs and highly customizable
Cons: The customization takes a lot of effort and it's a tad expensive
But check out this amazing looking site!

Wedding Website Templates
Pros: Interesting designs I hadn't seen before
Cons: Not the best user interface and needs a lot of work

Wed Simple
Pros: A ton of features included, more neutral palette designs
Cons: Again with the price, just on the expensive side

This website helped me to easily compare a lot of options side by side:
Wedding Websites

Just as I was about to throw my hands up in the air and shell out over 50 bucks for a good looking and functional website that I wouldn't have to hire a html writer to do for me . . . Miss P (my event designer) came through with some great (read FREE) alternatives. Check back next time for the exciting conclusion - same bat time, same bat channel (anyone else watch the old school batman when you were a kid?)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Up, up and away!

In this second shoe option post, I'll focus on the heel options that have caught my eye. I found most of the options on Ebay since it was so easy to narrow down the size, color, and designer - bonus points, there are some great deals!

Kate Spade Gold Gwen Slingbacks

I'm not crazy about them, but with the name, they should be more comfortable than most high heels. It's a clean and polished look.

J. Crew Daniela D'Orsay

Peepety peep toes! How stinkin' cute are the bows? And gotta love not having to pay J. Crew prices.

J. Crew Mary Janes

More like Plain Janes . . . but I could spruce these bad boys up with a feather and shoe clip no? They also just look comfy for a high heel.

Notice how I keep going back to comfort? Maybe I should go with the slippers! Anyone wear slippers as their wedding shoe? Did you regret not having a formal pair of shoes?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Falling Flat

Sometimes, I'm a little self-conscious when I wear high heels. The future Mr. Palindrome loves me in heels and thinks flats look a little like "grandma shoes." I too love heels, but I also soar to 5'10" or above when I slip them on. The future Mr. P? He rocks me hanging off his arm in my high heel glory like sane Tom Cruise used to rock the less botoxed version of Nicole Kidman. Me, I avoid pictures standing on the same level and prefer taking pics when I'm standing a step below him. Yikes!

This has led to an interesting debate in my head. Should I boost my confidence and own my height by wearing heels? Or should I find a lovely pair of flats and be comfortable (mentally and physically)?

Here are some of the flat options that I have been scouring on the internet:
Isotoner Slippers

These babies will keep my tootsies toasty - but will not be good for the walk from the reception to the hotel. They'll be comfortable for dancing, but maybe not as picturesque.

The Jeffrey Campbell Pearl Flat

In Ivory, the cutie-petooties just might bring together style and functionality. But will the Mister think I look like I'm on my way to the retirement home?

RSVP Herlene

I love the peep toe and jewel ornamentation . . . but I'm not loving the scrunchy look. I suppose on my feet, they'll appear flat though.

Ruby and Bloom Grace Ballerina Flat

I always wanted to be a ballerina - and with a little touch of vintage clip on earrings . . . eh? I see the potential.

Naturalizer's Verdum Peep Toe Flats

Similar to the Herlene, but less scrunchy and no bling. I think these would be a statement that the shoes just weren't that important to me. Which might be the statement I want to make, but I'm not sure.

I'll post later this week about some higher options to give you the full spectrum of considerations. Until then, any favorites out of this bunch?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Soon to be R

I may not have a venue, but I have a crap load of monograms! As if I had nothing better to do (hmmm . . . like writing my thesis???), I cranked these bad boys out like they were going out of style. It was some productive procrastination, because now I have a slew of choices. I even slaved over each one to make them generic so I don’t get real life wedding crashers (not funny like the movie, but creepy like the paparazzi at Tom and Gisele’s wedding! – actually, having paparazzi at my wedding would be fun and I probably wouldn’t shoot them, but I digress).

1-4: These are all the same curly large monogram with slight variations as far as shape and layout.

5-7: These are the same font R with different color schemes and layouts.

8-11: These are the off the wall ones that I liked, but were different.

Now 8 is the only one that doesn’t use the R initial. I’ve read several places that you’re not supposed to use your married initial until after the ceremony, so the 8 version, I could actually use on invitations and during the ceremony.

But I really the love the R – partly because it joins the Future Mr. Palindrome in more ways than one. The obvious way is that it will start our last name (my new name!), and the less obvious is that the Future Mr. Palindrome and I will share the same initials. JMR and MJR forever 

Love one? Hate one? Did you break custom and use your married initial before the ceremony?

***Note: I made these using PowerPoint. To save them as a picture, I grouped the components, then right clicked to save as a picture. I had to change the file type a few times to figure out a file type that preserved my colors and layout - I ended up saving them as png files. Maybe there’s a better tutorial out there? Anyone?



Friday, April 3, 2009

Come to my wedding Yo!

I’m not exactly sure when Save-the-Dates (STDs hehehehe) came into vogue, but ever since I received my first one, I knew I wanted to send them. In some ways, I think they’re on the narcissistic side of weddings where those little magnets say: “Look at me! Put me on your fridge! Think of me every day for the rest of your lives!” But on the other hand, they’re so darn cute! And convenient when trying to remember which weekend dates between May and October you will be out of town. It’s like I don’t need a day timer, I just need to look at my fridge.

Seriously. Making Save-the-Dates could be my full time job. Here’s the routine:

1. Search the bowels of the internet, the hills of the blogs, the valley of the Knot for inspiration until your eyes glaze over and you’re pretty sure your retinas have burned off.
2. Wait for your eyes to heal, then choose the perfect theme/design/whatever and begin the intensive internet search for discounted supplies, coupons, postage stamps until you fall asleep on your lap top and realize that you have 37 pages of the letter G imprinted on your blog entry.
3. Realize that the idea won’t work due to cost/limited resources/time restraints/change in desired feel/change of mind for desired colors/etc.
4. Repeat.

I did this for about the first two weeks I was engaged. Then I settled on the idea – and gosh darnit, I’m going to execute these bad boys. These are the obstacles I must overcome in order to realize my Save-the-Date dreams:

1. Choose a venue – yeah, a city and state would be an awesome thing to include on the cards. Sigh. See this post for current status (yes, still the same status as then!)
2. Find picture in mess of moving boxes that I never unpacked 1.5 years ago – I took a bunch of beauty shots of the campus where the future Mr. Palindrome and I met – and it was a film camera . . . so I need to find the pictures, so we can scan the best one. Awesome – I have 14 boxes all crammed in an attic cubby and that’s the only place I can think of where they could possibly be. Hello weekend project!
3. I like the idea of mini-envelopes on one side of the post-card – but I don’t know if these are post office friendly – I could mail one to myself from work and see if it gets there in one piece, I could take a prototype to the post office and see what the clerk says, or I could bail on all that extra work and just buy envelopes . . . leaning towards the lazy trail!

Just making the list of obstacles, makes me want to send an e-save-the-date.

Did anyone have an easy time of save-the-dates? What were the obstacles you overcame? Did they turn out as nicely as you had hoped? Or did you ditch the save-the-dates all together?

Source 1
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