Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mine at Last: Bridal Portraits

There was only one time when I was truly stressed on the wedding day.  Hair/makeup ran late and I didn't notice because there were no clocks and I had handed my cell phone to one of the palindromemaids.  The 30-45 minute delay cut into our photography time and as a result, we didn't do any "neat" photographs.  I would probably be more bothered by this if we didn't already have an amazing engagement session.  Still, I jumped at the chance to shoot a Trash the Dress/Bridal session with Mariko (Mrs. Sushi!) when the opportunity came up.
We drove out to Lake Las Vegas during a Bee meet-up to capture some of these shots just after dawn.

We wandered around the very quiet village that reminded us all (Mrs. Snow Pea was there too!) of Spanish villas.

Mariko is so calm behind the camera that I was immediately put at ease.  I tried to channel all of the advice Tyra's given on ANTM, but I still found myself nervous about what to do with my hands and wondering whether I was smiling with my eyes enough.

When Mariko sent me the CD of images, she included some chocolate from her home town - Hershey!  Indeed, the sweetest place on earth :)

I plan on ordering a magnet or something similar so that Mr. Palindrome can put one of the pictures inside his locker at school.  Sounds funny, but it's one of the few places that he would actually be able to see it every day!

Thanks Mariko!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mine at Last: Palindromaid Gifts

Oh, thank you! Just what I always wanted!  This jewelry box that will only hold two pairs of earrings will go really well with the other 6 I've collected from graduations, sweet 16s and Christmases!"

None of the palindromaids would ever say that in real life, but I knew that if I got a jewelry box with my initials on it, that's what I would think in my own head.  I love the 6 I already have, but I just feel that my collection is complete now.  In light of this, I had a hard time figuring out what I thought the palindromaids would all appreciate.  I had thought of personalizing each gift and began to ask them what they wanted.  I'm practical like that. My family asks what I want for Christmas, they get what I asked for, and though there are few surprises on Christmas morning, everyone seems happy that they didn't waste a million hours shopping and we all got something we liked.  The palindromaids' consensus was that they wanted something sentimental and would leave it up to me.

I really wanted to treat the girls to something nice, sentimental, that would appeal to all of them, that had a tinge of vintage appeal, and that was within my budget.  Not going to lie, this was a tough tasking for me.

Working on the assumption that if I should choose something that I would love to have for myself, I narrowed it down to a few options.

Silk screened scarves in classic b+w (matched our wedding colors, but were neutral) from Cyberoptix Tie Lab:

Delicate, silver leaf pendents from Riki Craft:

Personalized silver business card cases:

My issue with the scarves was that they may not have fit with everyone's personal style.  I had the same issue with the pendents.  The card cases seemed to strike a balance between useful and sentimental.  I bought myself one years ago at a shop in Dupont Circle and am complimented whenever I take it out.  The pricing would also allow me to add a few fun items into the mix as well.  I bit the bullet and ordered the card cases.

I knew I wanted to incorporate this lovely wrapping design from Martha Stewart,

so I printed the gray version onto fabric paper.  I attempted to follow the rest of the instructions, but couldn't find scalloping scissors in the time frame that I needed them to be special ordered, so I had to use pinking shears.  Also, since I printed onto fabric paper, the resulting clutch was very limp.  If I were making it into a real clutch rather than just fancy wrapping, I would have followed her instructions or I would have added some interfacing and lining to make it more substantial.

I added pearl letter ornaments from Michael's to the front of each package.  I hope that they looked coordinated with the wedding, but not too matchy.

Then I stuffed the little packages with goodies for the weekend.

I added gum, Advil, Shout wipes, mini tooth brushes with built in toothpaste, and Stila lip gloss.

My favorite part was taking the time to write each girl a meaningful letter.  I love handwritten notes and strive to keep the art alive.  Even if they didn't really like the gifts, I hoped that the note would touch them.

My only regret is that in the midst of getting our makeup and hair done, I handed out their belated Christmas presents, but completely forgot to give them their wedding gifts!  I was able to hand some of them off the following day, but had to mail two of them.  If I could have a do over for the day, I would have set aside a specific time to do this, rather than wait for what feels like a good time.

Lesson Learned: Set aside a specific time to hand out gifts (maybe even the day before the wedding) to ensure that the exchange is a priority.
PS - I kept one of those Stila lipglosses for myself and LOVE it! 

Did you decide to give bridal gifts that you loved/owned yourself?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reflections on Wedding Planning

I've been thinking about what I wanted to say to you when I got to the "other side."  For some reason, during the planning process, I couldn't bring myself to write it because I didn't want to disappoint certain people or to come across as ungrateful.  I talked it over with some fellow bees.  I mulled it over while reliving some wedding memories as we reminisced on our belated honeymoon (we just got back and it was delightful - more later).  And then I read this today as I caught up at Meg's blog.  Now is the time to let a few things hang out and to keep it real.

You've seen the joy on my face that is captured by photographs on my wedding day.  I will always treasure that day in our lives.  I did not capture for you the many frowns, the foot stomping and the flat out melt downs (my Dad calls it O.B.E - overcome by events) that led up to that day.   Here, I blogged about details, crafting, funnies, etc. because the blog world was my refuge from what I found to be an all together stressful and frustrating planning process.  Much of the stress was self-inflicted as I took all criticism personally, tried to please everyone, and contorted myself to fill the various expectations that I perceived people had of me.  However, some of the stress originated from truly stressful situations of navigating family emotions or the growing pains of bringing two lives together.

While I've shared most of the work that I did for the wedding in terms of crafting, this post is about the real work that it took to plan the wedding and prepare for a marriage.  This work was intangible and decidedly  not fun.  My stumbles during this part of the process left me almost empty. It's ok to feel sad or overwhelmed.  It's ok to cry about these big life changing things that are about to happen.  

In the week before the wedding, my family and I shared high lights and low lights, a New Year's tradition that we've been keeping for over a decade now.  My high light was our engagement.  My low light was planning the wedding.   There were some points when I was gravely concerned that the wedding would permanently alter my relationships with people (which was true - sometimes positively and sometimes negatively).  At other times, I was sure that I would break and end up in a mental institution (which was untrue, although I did realize that I needed to slow down and I sought professional counseling in the weeks before the wedding).

For me, several factors exacerbated the situation.  My mom got really sick in the months leading up to my wedding and Mr. Palindrome was being worked through the ringer in the MBA recruiting process.  I really missed their support system while they needed to focus their energy on getting well and adjusting to grad school respectively.  A month before the wedding, my grandmother fell and required surgery.  She did not come to my wedding and there were many tears shed for her absence (rightfully so). 

Even lovely weddings that are full of joy and really represent the beginning of a marriage, take effort to plan.  That planning process is not always enjoyable.  Even if you write a wedding blog, you may not have loved planning a wedding and that's ok.  The difficult part of the journey makes the rejoicing that much sweeter on the day of the wedding.  This doesn't negate the pain felt on the journey, it doesn't mean that thinking about being married should heal the pain in the moment either. 

I was really scared that with how awfully the wedding planning went (the fights between Mr. Palindrome and me, the family issues, the vendor issues, etc.), that I would regret having a big wedding and that I would resent it the rest of my life. On the other side, I can't tell you that the one day was worth it, but I can say that I felt very happy on my wedding day and my cup overran with beauty and laughter.   Very dear and sincere friends were there to tell me the truth and love me.  They helped me carry my burdens during the difficult times and were there to celebrate the fruits of our labor as we danced with sheer joy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Friday Finds (on a Tuesday!) - Anchors Aweigh

With all of the fresh air that I've been breathing in and the prospect of visiting the beach soon, I couldn't resist a nautical theme when I saw the anchor place cards.  They're a bit of a splurge, but if you download the "Tie the Knot" save the dates and print them yourself, then maybe you can make it work :)

This TGIF Friday Finds is presented on a Tuesday as a bon voyage present.  We'll be taking our belated honeymoon and I'll be giving my fingers a well deserved break from typing blog posts.  Hope this tides you over because when I get back, there's more recaps and a honeymoon to review!

Clockwise from Top L:
 Neon Shine - Nautical Sailor Flower Knot Headband
'I Do' It Yourself - Tie the Knot Printable Save the Date
 Timeless Paper - Anchor Place Cards
Pasaii Paperie - Nautical Monogram Thank You Stickers

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mine at Last: My Boogie Shoes

Before we determined that Mr. Palindrome needed a slow song if we were going to rock the reception, I had in my head that we do an elaborate routine to the Police's Everything Little Thing She does is Magic or to KC and the Sunshine Band's Boogie Shoes.  The former involved several props and ended with a flash bang while the latter featured ridonkulous tap dancing solos during the instrumental portion.  When you stop laughing, I'll tell you about all of the dancing that did actually take place after we opened the dance floor with the rumba.

When I say that EVERYONE danced, I pretty much mean that every single person took to the dance floor at least once over the course of the evening.  Even our friend Wendy was out there! She decided to "announce" that she was with child when she went through our receiving line.  When I say she announced, I mean that she just walked up to us, we pointed and screamed, she nodded and said it was true, then I did the whole dreaded preggo tummy grab and rub because she was just that cute.  I was so excited and happy.  I apologized as profusely as I could in the 20 second greeting as they walked down to meet my parents, but woohoo!  Good news.  So yeah, she was accosted by me and still rocked the dance floor.
My bio cloud claims that make faces with the best of them and our photographer caught a ton of my "Yeah-I-think-I'm-on-So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance" faces.
I had been planning on tearing up the floor like nobody's business and I was expecting to have no peers in my fervor and ability.  However, my FIL threw down the dancing gauntlet!

Uh-oh!  The jacket is coming off!  Harry means business!
Oh?? and who are these dancing machines?  Did Grandma Fran and Mr. Palindrome just steal the spotlight?
They most certainly did.  I especially enjoy looking at all of the expressions of the onlookers.  Yeah, that's me pointing and gaping!
After dinner, the toasts and cake cutting, my FIL and I took it upon ourselves to start the dance party again.

SIL led a little Cha-Cha Slide and even Motherdrome got in on the clapping action.
Mr. Palindrome and I are classic American mutts, merging some of the most colorful cultures.  To pay homage to the diversity and fun, we arranged for the band to play traditional songs so that we could enjoy several cultural dances with our guests.
My college roommate and I started some polka goodness as the band played The Beer Barrel Polka.
Then the Italians took to the floor for a good old fashioned Tarantella.
You already know that the highlight for me was the chair dance.  Sweet anticipation, it was all over our faces.

I'm so glad that my Mom and Dad were able to share in the experience as well.  My mom looks like she's terrified, but I promise, she's having the time of her life!
After we were set down, Harry and I dueled again!
This time, he was mean serious business.
Oh yeah, he just took our friendly dance rivalry to the floor!
Our friends held their own as well, especially once the lights were dimmed.
A little MOH sandwich action:
One thing I particularly like to do is to act out the lyrics while I'm dancing.  Here I am bang, bang, banging on the door baby.
When I wasn't acting out lyrics, I was bouncing around like a dancing fool.  This was literally a dream come true for me: my very own dance party!
I call the move my friend AK is doing here the Yogi Bear.
I am available on an as needed basis to bring the party to your dance floor.  I'm building the business plan for this service as I type.
*All photos courtesy of Sam Hughes Photography

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mine at Last: My Wedding Present

Mr. Palindrome was shocked when I told him that I had gotten him a wedding present.  "Do I have to get you one?" he raised his eyebrows in disbelief.  Sigh.  What a romantic! 

Turns out, he truly is a romantic.  With a few days until our wedding, he booked us a last minute dance lesson to prepare us for our first dance and serve as his gift to me.  He knows how much I love to dance and how much I had been wanting to rock our reception.  I fancy myself a ballroom dancer, much like I fancy myself an American Idol contestant.  
As our Ukranian instructor whipped us into shape, I realized how very much we had to learn and the very short amount of time we had to learn it.  We danced back to back lessons with our instructor tucking wayward chins, lifting sloppy arms, and tolerating us as we stepped on his feet.  

Every day after the lesson, we dutifully practiced.  We set up a video camera to critique our hand placement, sway, and expression.  We danced some really great routines.  We made ourselves nervous with bad routines where we forgot even the most basic step.  Whether we nailed it or failed it, I was all smiles.  I would whisper into his ear as he pulled me close for a spin that this was the best present he had ever given me.

However, when the band cued At Last and our gorgeous vocalist channeled her inner Etta James, our feet responded with all the right muscle memory.  I was sweeping across the dance floor.  I was lit by the glow of our new initials.  I was in the arms of the man I love.  The one who had just promised his life to me.  And that was better than being on Dancing with the Stars.  I think.
Are you considering dance lessons in preparation for your wedding?

*Dance lessons taken at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Durham, NC.  We were very pleased with the choreography, the one on one attention, and their flexibility with our scheduling.  We would highly recommend them to couples in the Triangle area.
 **All photographs courtesy of Sam Hughes Photography