Friday, September 28, 2012

Last Post as a Miss

I'm sitting here typing this alone on my iPhone (no free wireless) in my hotel room. After the whirlwind of activity these last few days, I need some time to myself. It's all been very overwhelming and I've experienced quite a range of emotions. I'm really excited to marry the love of my life tomorrow, but I'm nervous for the event. I hope everything goes smoothly and that I'm able to enjoy myself. A wedding definitely is an emotional roller coaster!

Thank you for all your support over the interwebs. It means a lot to me. Blogging my wedding planning process has been so much fun. I'm excited to continue my posts from the other side!

To Adam, I love you so much. You are my rock and I can't wait to call you my husband.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking Good

Remember how I said I wasn't going to stalk the forecast this week? Well, I lied. But guys! It's paid off! Check out the forecast for Saturday!

Fingers crossed it stays this way!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The RSVP Breakdown

I love RSVP blog posts because I think it helps people figure out their own logistics, so here's mine!

We invited a total of 176 guests to our wedding. Here's how those 176 people broke down:
Our final guest count is 114 (including us). That means that about 65% of the people we invited are coming.
The 35% attrition rate is a little higher than we anticipated, but we're excited that it means we'll be able to spend more time with the people who are making the journey to Chicago.

Speaking of making the journey, we are having quite a few out-of-town guests. Adam and I have said that our wedding is a destination wedding for everyone but us, and that's almost true. 82% of the people we invited to our wedding don't live in Chicago.
Of those 145 out-of-town family members and friends, 58% will be attending the wedding.

Our local friends (and 2 family members) had a higher acceptance rate at 80%.
I have a big family (7 sets of aunts and uncles and 21 cousins (excluding their spouses and children)), and I'm excited that a lot of them are able to make it.
Adam's family is a bit smaller, but since he's the first grandchild to get married, it's quite the family event. A lot of his family members will be coming in from Ontario for a whole week and making our wedding part of their Chicago vacation.
Our wedding is a bit smaller than expected, and of course there are people missing from our guest list that we would've loved to be there, but we're happy that the smaller guest list will allow us to really spend time with our nearest and dearest.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's Your Number?

After looking at lots of interesting table number ideas, we decided to go the traditional route and do numbered tables.

I was inspired by Mrs. Mink's table numbers: a painted wooden number on a patterned background.
Mrs. Mink on Weddingbee
I want to incorporate more of the black and white stripes from our ribbon belly bands in our décor, and I figured table numbers would be the perfect place to do this. I printed off a black-and-white-stripe pattern I found online and popped them in our double-sided Ikea frames. I figured I'd go to Michaels, buy wooden numbers, paint them gold, and glue them onto the frame. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong.

I went to Michaels. They had about 8 different types of wooden letters, but no numbers. So I went to a different Michaels. They had numbers! But they were bigger than our 4x6 frames. Then I went to JoAnn's Fabrics. They had wooden numbers that were the right size...except the number 1.

Clearly, my plan was not working, so I created a new plan. I figured I would buy gold paper and cut out the numbers with an Xacto knife. After cutting out a single number 1, I decided this was a terrible plan. I would've taken me forever to do, and any digit with a curve in it (basically anything that's not 1 or 4) would've looked awful.

I went back to JoAnn's Fabrics because they told me they got a new shipment of numbers in. But, of course, once I got there, I discovered that they didn't have enough.

But this story has a happy ending! While I was watching The Today Show, Martha Stewart demonstrated her circle cutter. I decided it would look really cool to cut circles out of the metallic gold paper I bought and write the numbers on it using the same calligraphy from our invitation suite.
The white paint pen blended into the gold paper, which made it kind of hard to read. Since table numbers need to be legible to be useful, I tried the calligraphy on paper that matches the place cards and the invitation envelopes.
More legible, but also a lot more boring.

But then it hit me! I could combine the two!
Even though this is my plan D (or E or F or maybe even G), I think they turned out pretty well! What do you think?

Did you have any DIY disasters?

Friday, September 21, 2012

1 Week

This is it! The final countdown!


Oh, Gob. Never change.

Last week, I did a pretty good job at crossing everything off my list, so here's what's on the agenda this week:
  • drop reception décor off at caterer
  • finalize timeline
  • print off information packets for the wedding party and VIPs
  • get eyebrows waxed
  • get mani/pedi
  • buy booze for trolley and drop it off
  • wrap presents for everyone
  • pack for honeymoon
  • pick up wedding dress
  • take out and sort cash for vendor tips
  • buy flowers
  • try not to stalk the 10-day forecast
  • EVERYTHING ELSE!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When it rains, it pours.

Today is a day Adam and I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Why? Well, today is the first day that our wedding day appears on the 10-day forecast. So how does it look?
The Weather Channel
Yes, that is a picture of a rain cloud on our wedding day. Awesome. Now, I know this is the Midwest and - as the old saying goes - if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes. I know the forecast will probably change several times before next Saturday, but if you need me, I'll be over here looking for cute umbrellas online.

Stress

One element of wedding planning that people always bring up is how stressful it is. It's what turns sane women into raving lunatics like the ones you see on Bridezillas. For the first 13 months of our engagement, I was happy that I didn't really experience much wedding stress. Adam and I did a good job effectively managing the to-do list and keeping things in perspective.

This last month, I have not been as good at it. I think it's just the time crunch, but wedding planning has taken over my life. Planning a wedding means dealing with a never-ending to-do list. As soon as I complete a task, another one seems to pop up in its place. I am currently unemployed, which means that I have lots of time to spend on completing wedding tasks, but also means that I'm doing the vast majority of the work. I've had the pleasure of tracking down RSVPs and coordinating logistics with guests. I've taken countless trips to craft stores. Our apartment has been taken over by things I've made or bought. (Lord knows what we're going to do with everything when we get home from our honeymoon.) Unfortunately, all this has led me to fight with Adam about stupid things that don't matter.

Everyone keeps asking if I'm excited, and I am. I really am looking forward to the wedding, and I don't regret our decision to have one. But I'm also really looking forward to it all being done.

Does/did anyone else feel this way?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bearing Gifts

One thing on my to-do list this week is to find something for our ring bearer to carry the rings in. The traditional vessel is a pillow...
David's Bridal
...but I don't have time to make one and the selection at Michaels wasn't the greatest. Plus, there are much more fun options out there.

Like Mrs. Cannon's ring plate
Mrs. Cannon on Weddingbee / Photo by Mary Wyar Photography
Or a personalized ring bowl
Paloma's Nest
Or a book
jessicaandsoven.com

In the end, we didn't go with any of these choices. Inspiration struck on one of my many recent Michaels trips when I saw a wooden box. I bought it and Adam painted it gold.
(Yes, it is sitting on top of discarded menu cards. I might have printed too many.)

On top of the gold paint, I used gold gilding for extra shine.
Here's a picture with my flash on so you can see how reflective the paint is.
We'll put our rings in it for the wedding, and afterward, I can re-use it for jewelry storage. Much better than a pillow we would've just gotten rid of after the wedding.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nailed It

The wedding is rapidly approaching and most details of my wedding day look have been finalized, but there's one detail that still needs to be attended to: my nails.

Even though Kate Middleton is basically my inspiration for everything, I don't want to go with the same type of pink-neutral polish she wore on her wedding day.
InStyle
It's pretty, but I want something a little more fun. Glitter would be fun...
Of Faces and Fingers
...but I don't think I can do glitter with a gel manicure. I've never had one before, and the wedding is the perfect time to try one because it will stay all through the wedding and the honeymoon.

I could also try nail strips, like these from Sally Hansen.
A Cup of Jo
All the no-chip benefits of gel, but with sparkles!

But I'm still not 100% sold on glitter. It might be a bit too cutesy for my wedding. A classic red is my go-to nail shade. It makes me feel like a grown-up, and it would be perfectly preppy for Cape Cod. Essie's Geranium is the perfect shade, but is it a little TOO bright?
Polish or Perish
We don't really have wedding colors, but if I had to pick one color that shows up repeatedly in our wedding, it's grey. Maybe I should take a page out of Michelle Obama's book and try that.
Jezebel
Which color do you think I should wear?

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Ring to Rule Them All

We have just under 2 weeks to go, and we finally have wedding rings! Well, Adam has had his for a while. We've just been waiting on mine.

I asked you all to help me decide which ring to get. People overwhelmingly favored the ring with baguette and round diamonds. I asked Adam which one he preferred, and he liked that one, too. Sold!

I placed an order at the beginning of June and was told 6-8 weeks. In August, my ring came in...a size too small. Because it's an eternity band, the jeweler couldn't just resize it. Instead, he had to send it back to the company who made it and get a whole new ring. With about 6 weeks until the wedding, I was nervous about the timeline. They told me it would be 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, they told me it would be another week. With 15 days until the wedding, I finally got my ring. It was worth the wait because I love it.
I love how delicate it looks on my finger.
I think it complements my engagement ring without being too matchy-matchy.
But mine won't be the only new piece of jewelry introduced at the wedding. Here's Adam's new ring.
I took his ring back to the jeweler this week to get it engraved with a special message on the inside. My parents did that and I've always thought it was a really cute idea. Because my ring is an eternity band, I can't get it engraved. Instead, Adam is going to get my engagement ring engraved. We picked out our own rings and have seen them before the wedding, so the rings aren't surprises, but the engravings will be.

But the engraving won't be the only secret message in my ring. My wedding band looks like Morse code with the dots and dashes, and as luck would have it, a dot and a dash are Morse code for the letter A!
Atlas Aviation
Isn't that cute? I can't wait to wear it everyday.

Friday, September 14, 2012

2 Weeks

Last week's list:
  • print family wedding photos - Still halfway done. Waiting on my dad to email me the remaining pics.
  • Get Adam's tuxedo cleaned - Guess who's procrastinating on this task?
  • track down remaining RSVPs
  • reception seating chart
  • make table numbers - I'm plan C at this point. Ugh.
  • place cards - This is about 75% done, so I'll count it.
  • print menu cards, programs, and seating chart - Dear printer, thanks for sucking.
  • pay final deposits
  • get Adam's ring engraved
  • (hopefully) final fitting
  • get gifts for people involved in wedding Mass 
This week, we have to:
  • everything that's not crossed out above
  • order lunch for the wedding day
  • get something for the ring bearer to carry the rings in
  • submit final numbers to caterer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Little Girl Dreams

I have always imagined myself as a bride. When I was little, I would page through my parents' wedding album, admiring the pretty dresses and flowers. When I was in the 5th grade band, we learned to play Pachelbel's Canon, and I decided that's the song I would walk down the aisle to. When my cousins started to get married during my teenage years, I made mental notes at their weddings about things I would and would not do when it was my turn.

All of this makes it even more surprising that I don't feel like a bride.

My wedding is less than 3 weeks away, and it still hasn't hit me yet. I've tried my dress on several times, but I still feel like I'm playing dress-up. I've seen my wedding ring on my finger and my name on a marriage license, but I feel like I'm playing house. It's the same feeling I get when I look up at my living room wall and see my law school diploma. How did I manage to get this thing? Surely there must be some mistake because I'm not old enough to be a lawyer or a bride or somebody's wife.

A wedding is a coming-of-age event, and just like other coming-of-age event, it doesn't look the same as I thought it would when I was a little girl. I won't be wearing the frothy, white tulle, Cinderella-esque concoction I dreamed of as a little girl and I won't be carrying the cascading, rose-laden, Princess Diana-esque bouquet I dreamed of. In fact, when I went dress shopping, the one word I said I didn't want my dress to reflect was "princess." I'm no longer the 4-year-old girl who wore sponge curlers to bed every night and only wore dresses with printed tights and saddle shoes, so why would I have the same wedding she wanted to have? Instead of reflecting that little girl, it will reflect the women I have grown up to be, even though I have trouble sometimes accepting that I am a woman.

Did anyone else have trouble visualizing themselves as a bride?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Licensed to Wed

Last week, Adam and I checked off a major item on our to-do list: we got our marriage license!
Surprisingly, it was a quick and easy process. I met Adam in Daley Plaza at 11:45 and we were out of the office by noon. The lady behind the counter was really nice and congratulated us several times. The only snafu was that I had to call my dad because they ask you what states your parents were born in and I didn't know. (Turns out, he's a native Illinoisan! Who knew?) It was also exciting for me because one question they ask you is what you do for a living, and this was the first time I was able to answer "attorney."

There were lots of couples there presumably also getting their marriage licenses. It was exciting to see so many engaged couples, but sad that none of them were same-sex couples. In Illinois, all we have to do to get married is pay $60, be over the age of 18, and not be related. Unfortunately, same-sex couples aren't afforded that same right. I had originally planned to mail in a letter of support with our marriage license after the wedding, but that seems futile considering our county clerk and governor already support legalizing same-sex marriage. Hopefully the law will soon reflect their open-mindedness.

Was it easy for you to get your marriage license? Are you planning on using your marriage license to make a point about marriage equality?

Friday, September 7, 2012

3 Weeks

Here's the progress on last week's list:
  • dress fitting - I have another one this week.
  • get a card box - The coordinator at the Murphy Auditorium has a birdcage we can use.
  • print family wedding photos - This is halfway done.
  • choose linens with our caterer
  • get marriage license
  • get Adam's tuxedo cleaned
  • buy groomsmen gifts
  • ask Eucharistic ministers and gift bearers
Now, here's what's on the agenda for this week.
  • everything that's not crossed off above
  • track down remaining RSVPs
  • reception seating chart
  • make table numbers
  • place cards
  • print menu cards, programs, and seating chart
  • pay final deposits
  • get Adam's ring engraved
  • (hopefully) final fitting
  • get gifts for people involved in wedding Mass

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Bachelorette Party

A few weeks ago, my friends threw me an amazing bachelorette party. You've seen the invitation, and now it's time to show you how it all went down.

We started out at 5pm at my friends' J and M's apartment. We gathered there for drinks, gifts and games.
 Posing with my gifts and special glass that said "I can out-drink all you bitches." I'm classy like that.

 My bridesmaid and BFF L made a video with Adam that was actually a party game.
The rules were simple. L asked Adam a question. If our answers matched, I got to assign someone in the room to drink. If our answers didn't match, I had to drink. I did pretty well, and the booze was flowing.
Thanks for such a great game, L! Love you! (Side note: We're wearing our bachelorette beads in this shot. They said "Bacherlorette" and "Outta Control" on them. We didn't have enough for everyone, so they got passed to the person who was the most "outta control" at the moment.)

After that game, I opened gifts. I got some pretty, frilly, lacey things. Thanks, girls!
(You can see my little birdcage veil pouf in this shot. I freaking loved that thing.)

My one request for the party was nothing shaped like a phallus. J ignored that request and purchased these sweet tarts for the pre-party.
After a few more glasses of wine, we were off to dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque.
The only purpose of this next shot is so you can see my glittery shoes.
 See them? So sparkly! OK, now we can carry on with the rest of the post.

If you live in or are visiting Chicago, I HIGHLY recommend checking this place out for dinner. The food was fantastic!
The cocktails were awesome, too. I sampled several of them. My favorite was called South of the Border, East of the Sun and had tequila, blood orange, and grapefruit bitters. Yum!
With bellies full of sushi, we walked a couple of blocks to Zed 451. The rooftop was closed by the time we got there, so we snagged an awesome spot right by the fireplace instead.
We ordered several more rounds of cocktails. My favorite was the strawberry balsamic martini.
While all this was going on, Adam was in the middle of his bachelor party a few blocks away. After dinner, our groomsman/bridesman P swapped parties and met up with us. We made him wear the Outta Control bachelorette beads. (He really was out of control that weekend. He flew in from NYC for specifically to attend our parties. Because of weather, his flight didn't get in until 3am on Saturday morning, and then he flew back out about 48 hours later. What a champ.)
Around 12:30, people were getting tired and started heading out. I hopped in a cab with P to head home. Instead, we decided to head up to Boystown and hit the gay bars. We rolled into Roscoe's and enjoyed some vodka pink lemonades before closing down the bar at 3am.
After 11 hours of partying, I was wiped out. It wasn't a traditional, wild bachelorette party, but it was exactly the bachelorette I wanted: classy, chill and a little bit fancy. A big thank you to my ladies for such a fun night!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My DIY Makeup Trial

Now that you've seen my makeup inspiration and the new additions to my makeup bag, it's time to show you how it all came together.
I used quite a few products. Definitely way more than I use on a daily basis. Here's a list from left to right:
  • Revlon Fantasy Lengths false eyelashes with glue #91003 Flirty
  • a toothpick
  • Smashbox Photo Finish primer
  • Smashbox Photo Finish lid primer
  • Tarte Smooth Operator waterproof concealer in Medium
  • Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation in 210 Buff
  • Maybelline Shine-Free Loose Powder in Light
  • foundation wedge
  • Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express waterproof mascara in Classic Black
  • Cover Girl Cheekers blush in Classic Pink
  • Lancome Sensational Effects eyeshadow palette with Pink Pearls, Pink Zinc, Drama, and Successorize
  • Cover Girl Liquiline Blast eyeliner in Black Fire
  • blush brush
  • eyeshadow brush
  • powder brush
  • eyelash curler
  • Cover Girl Outlast all-day lip color in Rose Pearl
For the most part, I followed this tutorial from A Practical Wedding. It was really helpful, so I'd suggest clicking through, but I'm going to detail a lot of the steps here.

Here's my before picture of me wearing my regular, everyday makeup:
And here's now I got to the after:
First, apply the primer to your face and eyelids. Then use the foundation wedge to apply foundation.

Over the top of the foundation, use the concealer to cover any blemishes or under-eye darkness. (If you want to use the concealer underneath the foundation, that's fine, too. The Internet says it's just personal preference.)

Set your base with loose powder and a powder brush. I tried to lightly press the powder onto my face before doing a top coat brushing it on, if that makes sense. I feel like when you brush the powder on, it wipes off the concealer you just put carefully in place.

Brush the lightest, shimmery eyeshadow (Pink Zinc) just under your brow bone and brush the medium shade (Drama) across the lid.

Draw a thick line of eyeliner along your lash line, smudge it with the built-in smudger tool, and set it with the darkest shade of eyeshadow (Successorize) just like you set your foundation.

People feel very differently about using eyeliner under the eye. I am pro-under-eye eyeliner, so I also smudged liner into my lower lash line about 2/3 of the way across.

Once you're done with the eyeliner, curl your eyelashes and put on 2-3 coats of mascara.

Next is the hard part. Fake lashes. The APW tutorial tells you to cut your lashes into thirds. I did this for one eye and put the other strip on without cutting it. I liked the whole lash strand better. Maybe test it out to see what you prefer. Put a little glue on the edge of your toothpick and then put the glue from the toothpick onto the lashes. Let the glue dry for about 30 seconds! This is very important! Tacky glue will hold better. After 30 seconds, put the lashes onto your eyelid and use the other end of the toothpick to position the lashes right where you want them.
Here I am with lashes on just my right eye (on the left of the photo). You can see how it makes a difference especially on the outside edge.

Once you've got the lashes on and the glue is dry, use your eyelash curler to press your natural lashes and the fake lashes together.

The glue will dry clear, but just to make sure it was well-blended, I smudged a little more of the dark eyeshadow into my lash line.

That's it for the eyes! Next, sweep a healthy amount of bright pink blush over the apples of your cheeks.

Finally, apply your lipstick. Make sure to blot with a tissue before putting the topcoat on over the top of the lip color. And that's it! Want to see the finished product?
At first, I was concerned that I looked like a clown. I never wear this much makeup, so the heavy eye AND super-pink cheeks AND bright lipstick was a bit jarring.

I wiped off as much of the lipstick as I could (that Outlast really stays on, y'all!) and swiped on a bit of the lip gloss that came with the Smashbox sampler I bought. Then, to make it more realistic, I threw on my veil. Just ignore the black t-shirt and pretend there's a wedding dress in its place.
I love it! It's definitely a lot of makeup. In person, I do think it's a bit much, but even on my crappy point-and-shoot camera, I think it photographs very well. And Adam likes it, so that's good.

What do you think?