boo

Normally, I don’t go through the process of getting a costume for Halloween. When we were little (after a few years of trick-or-treating under our belts), my parents bribed us out of the typical shenanigans with something along the lines of “If you’ll agree to not dressing up and dragging us around the neighborhood, we’ll buy you each a huge bag of candy of your choice.” It worked out well for both parties, and I have lovely memories of those times. But this year, I made a costume for work,  mostly in an attempt to avoid being the only one who didn’t dress up.

IMG_0796IMG_0829IMG_0856

Can you guess what I chose, yet?

IMG_0839IMG_0823

That’s right, I was a piñata! Yay! Thanks to this lovely blogger for the inspiration & tutorial, and my coworker Rae for doing my makeup (as you can see in the second photo). It was lots of fun, and I couldn’t have done it alone.

Happy first-day-of-November, everyone. I hope your yesterday was full of tricks and treats and lots of candy.

Advertisements

on wedding planning

I feel pretty proud about my wedding planning skills.

I mean, I certainly wasn’t perfect…. I had my moments of stress throughout our 15 months of engagement. But overall, piecing our wedding day together was an exciting, delightful, and deeply satisfying process for me. And when I look back at that time, there are a few select things that really made the difference between feeling organized & confident & put together, and feeling overwhelmed & underprepared.

Now, part of me is already rolling my eyes at myself, for putting together a list like this. Isn’t it a little presumptuous to assume that my advice can be of use anybody at all? But here is my blogging philosophy: if any of my tips or tricks or methods helps, even in the least, just one of you brides-to-be out there, well, then it’s worth writing about. So, here were my most helpful resources. The tools & the tricks, the needle and thread, that made my wedding possible.

1) Pinterest.com was, by far, one of my favorite wedding planning sites. I didn’t use it in a this-is-exactly-what-I-want-and-if-it’s-not-that-way-I-will-die sort of way. Instead, I simply pinned anything that caught my eye, without considering whether it was what I wanted. That was this board (and I began this process well over a year before Will & I were engaged). And then, once we got engaged, I organized it all into boards by subject…”the paper”, the flowers”, “the food”, and so on and so forth. And here’s the amazing thing: there were patterns. It turned out that I wanted an updo. How do I know this? Because every single one of my “the hair” pins looked exactly the same. I showed my “the cake” board to my baker during our initial consult: she took one look at it and said “So, you want a round, tiered, white buttercream cake with sugar flowers?”. Using Pinterest enabled me to identify what it was that I loved. And that took so much pressure off the decision-making process, because I already had confirmation that I could live with (and delight in) the choices.

Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 8.40.06 PM

2) I found WeddingWire.com especially helpful for looking through vendor reviews. I used the site to find my incredible makeup artist and stylist, to consult about my caterer, and to confirm our decision on a photographer. I didn’t, however, use any of their other tools, mostly because I was perfectly happy with theKnot.com (see below)… plus, when I skimmed through them, I mostly felt pretty “eh” about it all. And I tend to trust my instinct on things like that.

Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 8.43.14 PM

3) Speaking of  TheKnot.com… I  would highly recommend signing up as soon as you get engaged. I loved it. Specifically, I loved the individualized “My Checklist” and “My Guest List” portions. Plus, there’s a countdown feature on the homepage, which is always a happy thing.

– “My Checklist” appealed to my type-A, organized, cross-it-off-the-list personality at its very core. It is a detailed, exhaustive account of pretty much everything you could need to do before (and after) the wedding. Every other list I found was vague and spotty… with this one, I felt assured that there was nothing I had to remember, because it was all written down and organized, with all the “to-dos” in one place. It’s also totally customizable, which meant that I could add random things like “Pay 90-day payment to photographer” or “Buy sparklers for the exit” or “Make kraft paper signs for the reception”. And I could remove those things that didn’t apply to me, or move the order around as I saw fit. I should make a note, though, that it operates on a due date system, where it puts a little alarm clock beside all the items that you don’t check off “in time”. Brides: you will NOT do it all in time! As for me, I mostly just tried to ignore the clocks and see it as a general timeline.

-“My Guest List” was also a pretty incredible tool. All you have to do is input the guests’ names and addresses, and then you have a brilliant way of keeping track of the RSVPs, the seating chart, the gifts, and the thank-you notes (among other things). It was, truly, a lifesaver. Each time I got an RSVP in the mail, I simply logged on and pressed “Accepted” or “Declined”. TheKnot automatically kept track of how many people would attend the wedding and generated a customizable seating chart. When we received a gift, I entered it beside the person’s name, and then when I dropped the thank-you note in the mail, I just checked the box that said “Thank You Sent”. It kept everything clear and simple. And here’s the fact: even though I thought I would be able to remember it all (what kind of terrible person doesn’t remember whether her great-aunt RSVPed?), I couldn’t. And so, like I said, it was a lifesaver.

Another note about TheKnot.com: although the community boards can be helpful, I would make sure to put on a tough skin before you post anything. Many (many) of the regulars who post here are more than a little condescending and simply mean. I hate to say it, but I really feel like I need to warn you. I almost cried the first time they responded to one of my questions.

Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 8.41.35 PM

4) The one thing that I couldn’t find online was a thorough, flexible budget application. So… I made one. Click here to download a draft of my Excel wedding budget. Obviously, we didn’t actually use all of the budgeted items on this sheet (no calligrapher for us!). But I figured it’s better, for these purposes, to include something than leave it off. So go ahead and make it your own: change the sections, hide rows, alter columns… whatever it takes for you to feel comfortable. Then,  insert your budgeted numbers, and let Excel do the rest.  I hope it helps!

Screen shot 2013-07-21 at 5.08.57 PM

5) And last, but not least, I loved my handy dandy pocket accordion file. I picked it up on a whim from Staples, and ended up using from the first venue meeting it all the way until last week (when I sold my wedding dress). This was perfect for all the little pieces of paper that you gather when wedding planning: from random business cards to receipts of purchase to copies of contracts. I kept it in my car, so that it was easily accessible everytime I went to a vendor meeting and walked out with a handful of papers. Yay for organization!

 

So, there you go. There’s not much more to say… except, happy planning! I hope that your engagement is filled with all the goodness that the season has to offer. And may you always be checking things off your list.