It arrived!!! I love when things get done!

After a four day weekend in SoCal, Bryan and I came back and found a USPS box waiting for me from lovely Etsy seller, RomancingJuliet. I had been searching madly and kind of brainstorming ideas, but then happened upon this super cute burlap set! It worked out perfectly because I hadn’t wanted something satiny or shiny, and with 2 and a half year old twins (hopefully) walking down the aisle, I was afraid of something that might end up being too fragile. We’re incorporating burlap into the wedding a few different ways, so this worked out perfectly. Not to mention, burlap starts with… you got it, B!

We opened up the box and it was exactly what I had hoped. The flower girl basket is the perfect size for Lauren and while the pillow’s a little bigger than I imagined, I think it’ll do just fine.

Around the same time, I also found cute kids’ Converse on sale (thank you Wise Bread!):

As with most good sales, they didn’t have every style in every size, but I thought it worked out well given that I could find shoes for both Lauren and Davey in purple. Hopefully the sizes match!

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anthropologie weddings!

March 5, 2010

The first “person” I thought of was J. Crew. I’m pretty sure everyone over in their offices has been buzzing and talking about this since the announcement came out yesterday. Oh, the beauty of competition!

Anthropologie (owned by Urban Outfitters, aka URBN Inc) released fourth-quarter earnings and shared with the press about an upcoming wedding brand that should be launched online by Valentines Day 2011 and then with stores to follow.

From the Reuters and others (couldn’t find it on their corporate site):

The idea for creating a brand aimed at weddings —  featuring heirloom gowns, accessories, intimate apparel, decor and gifts — grew out of the company’s existing business, which often catered to brides and their entourages, Senk said.

There’s tons of press around this- type “Urban Outfitters wedding” into Google News and read away.

Very exciting! Obviously Anthro and J. Crew have different target markets, but I’m sure everyone’s looking to J. Crew to see what their next move is. There aren’t that many successful retailers that have moved into the wedding space, but given the momentum and energy (and success) around Anthropologie, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a huge name for themselves this way.

Now I’m curious what they’re going to call the brand… any guesses?

Afterthought: Gap! where’s YOUR wedding brand?! Shoulda listened

registry-ing

March 4, 2010

Everyone has a different experience registering, it seems. Some of my friends have lots of fun (like my friend Hanna) while others completely opt out and either do it 100% online or ask for only gift cards/cash (Asian culture, what can you say!).

I had hoped that registering would be fun and simple, but it really wasn’t. Instead of having fun running around, I was trying to make sure we got everything we needed and the checklists that the store provided (in addition to the ones we found online) were way too detailed and elaborate for me. We were both a little tired when we got to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and so I’m sure that didn’t help either. The first big mistake was that we walked toward the towels and had no idea what colors we wanted. We haven’t signed a lease for our future place yet and so I don’t really know what it looks like. Doh. We ended up going with a pretty neutral color scheme and just hoped it would work out. Worst case scenario is that we’ll have to deal with a lot of exchanges and returns later on.

BB&B was a little exhausting, but we started fresh the next morning at a Crate and Barrel wedding party event (it perfectly matched our schedule- score!). This was a lot more fun because they opened the store early for couples to register and had a cute photo booth, demonstrations, tastings (panini press, crepes, drinks, breakfast pastries), and they gave us a cute thank you gift (we got a pair of champagne flutes). I think it was also fun because Crate and Barrel just isn’t as overwhelming as BB&B in terms of the store layout and such.

After both events, I ended up on the computer at home for a few hours, creating a registry for Williams Sonoma (because they had the perfect Le Ceruset color and great dish towels/kitchen linens) and Amazon (who has a good mix of everything and the perfect Kitchenaid mixer color!).

I then spent a few hours combing through the BB&B and Crate+Barrel websites trying to make sure we were registering for the best items, adjusting quantities, shuffling things here and there, reading reviews, etcetcetc. For example, Bryan originally wanted a Grind and Brew but apparently a LOT of people dislike it for dozens of different reasons. We then looked around and around and ended up settling on a taking my parents’ grinder (they have a Grind and Brew now) and adding the Coffee on Demand to our registry.

I had a lot more fun playing with the registries at home on my own and finalized all the registries before sending out our invitations :)

Here are some of my favorite items on our registries:

  • Le Ceruset (above)
  • Stand Mixer (above)
  • Wusthof bread knife (I decided against registering for a knife block and instead just chose some knives that are well-received/reviewed/necessary)
  • Our bed linens– we didn’t like anything at BB&B, but this set from Crate+Barrel I liked a lot!
  • Tons of bamboo items from Crate+Barrel- serving utensils, cutting boards, trivets… wahoo!
  • The Magic Bullet (instead of a traditional blender… hehe)
  • Simplehuman trash cans (seriously the best)
  • Fun stuff- a new camera (we seriously don’t take any pictures after my camera was stolen back in August), board games, tools for Bryan

I don’t expect everything we requested to be fulfilled, but hopefully there’s a big enough variety of items for people who want to buy/bring gifts. Plus, most registry services will send you a coupon after the wedding so that you can buy anything that wasn’t gifted at a discount. Cool, huh? Something else I learned- some companies will give you gifts just for registering for a certain amount of their products! Weird, huh? I think they’re called “registry incentives”… make sure to take note of that for the next time you have to register for gifts.

Having attended plenty of weddings and organizing the gift-buying on behalf of many friends, it puts me in a kind of confusing position because I know that as a gift-purchaser, I love Amazon for it’s prices and free shipping. However, as a gift-receiver, I know that returns through Amazon are going to be a lot more work than returning something to BB&B. Even looking through my registries now, it looks like almost all of the gifts purchased so far have been through Amazon. Hopefully those BB&B coupons everyone has laying around will be put to good use and our guests won’t get ripped off with these ridonkulous shipping charges.

    our invitations

    March 4, 2010

    Janet over at Whimsical Thumb very thoroughly blogged about the invitation process and then the final result… here are some images and lots of links to her blog entries.

    We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our invitations- even Bryan’s parents said that they weren’t very traditional, but they liked them anyway. Wooooohoo!

    Overview of the Invitation (front/back) map & envelope:

    The laborious (not really) process:

    We printed the envelopes at home on Bryan’s printer and it was basically a huge finger-crossing, trial & error experiment. After digging around on Yelp and through WeddingBee and such, I found out it was very expensive to get envelopes printed. Janet documented this sad predicament here.

    We printed the invitations using our church’s printer (but it required a trip to Kinko’s) and then had Kinko’s exacto-cut the paper so that we’d get cleaner lines and even proportions. It only costs $1.50 for them to make 1 cut through up to 250 pages… why would anyone EVER try to use a paper cutter themselves? No way!

    Folding (not so easy, huh?? explanation here)

    Stamping (stamp ordered/purchased from Berkeley Stamp Co)

    Stuffing and stamping of the envelopes (the king/queen stamps purchased through the good ol’ USPS)

    We got a couple of invitations sent back to us (sad!) but for the most part, everyone should have received their invitations. It’s exciting to see the RSVP’s slowly roll in… thank you Janet!!!

    accommodations & hotels

    March 3, 2010

    After reading and learning about weddings over the past few years, I knew that accommodations were potentially something I had to add to my to-do list. Very often friends and relatives are flying in from all over the country and will need recommendations for where to stay, etc. Plus, if you’re going to have lots of people wanting accommodations, it’s practical and courteous to reserve “blocks” of rooms at nearby hotels so that 1) everyone will be able to find somewhere to stay and 2) you can reserve rooms at a discount.

    It turns out that we won’t have very many out of town guests, so we’re not reserving room blocks or anything like that. However, we did want to reserve rooms for the bridal party the night before and for us to get ready the morning of the wedding.

    I haven’t actually had to book hotel reservations very many times in my lifetime, so I started researching on my favorite website for everything & anything: Yelp. I searched for Temecula hotels and just read a ton of reviews and then started comparing prices and options. Since we’d be spending a good amount of time getting ready in these rooms, I wanted to make sure there’d be enough room and so I looked for suites.

    There were some really, really nice resort type hotels near my venue (South Coast Winery, Inn at Churon Winery, Temecula Creek Inn), but they were a little too pricey- like $200+/night. I’m sure they’re goooorgeous, but no can do. I also saw a couple of Bed & Breakfasts (b&bs! like Loma Vista or The Castle) but I think they were more quaint/cottage-y and most of them didn’t have multiple rooms with more than one bed.

    Sooo, I ended up looking at these hotels:

    The Marriott Springhill Suites (Yelp)

    The Marriott was new (+1) and got good reviews… plus the pictures were nice! But… as I was researching, it didn’t seem like they had the rooms we needed available. Boo.

    Embassy Suites (Yelp)

    The Embassy Suites were another that came up on the reviews/travel sites. The prices were reasonable, but the pictures are kind of … well, I didn’t really want my getting ready pictures in them. Aha… next!

    Hampton Inn (Yelp)

    I ended up making my decision based on what was available and started the process of booking rooms at the Hampton Inn and Suites. I initially had a not-so-favorable opinion of them because I called on a Sunday and the person at the front desk told me that there was no way to ensure a later check out (we needed this to get ready). I completely understand that she can’t predict room availability since it’s so far out, but since I’m looking for rooms for my BRIDAL PARTY to get ready on my WEDDING DAY, I was almost 100% sure that a manager would have made an exception.

    She told me to call back the next day, and I had a much better, happier experience. Sadly, the two two-queen suites weren’t available anymore (things change so fast!), but the representative was very knowledgeable and made suggestions for alternative plans. We ended up booking two rooms- one two-queen suite for the guys and then one king suite for the girls. Both have queen size pullouts so everyone should fit nicely. Yay!

    So, a few lessons learned:

    1. Availability changes on a day-to-day basis
    2. If you can’t get what you want (and it’s a reasonable request), talk to a manager. Oftentimes they’ll accommodate!
    3. Every hotel I talked to gave a small discount for AAA. If you already have AAA, why not take advantage of it?
    4. At least for me, booking rooms thru it’s website didn’t seem to yield different rates than an Expedia.com search (and Expedia was hard to navigate for me).

    We also had to find a hotel for some of our vendors that will be sleeping over in Temecula… part II coming up!

    pictures in puddles, remix

    February 24, 2010

    So I’m not the only one who apparently loves reflection pictures!

    Junebug Weddings recently posted about reflections in pictures too, with a new selection to admire. I love the first Amelia Lyon picture (I think I’ve mentioned how much I like her before…) but I still think Jerry’s is the best :P

    ring bearer something

    February 23, 2010

    There are tons (upon tons) of things I could blog about at this point, but I figured I’d take a break from dress-related posts and talk about something totally different.

    Our flower girl and ring bearer are two cute toddlers (twins!)- Davey (David) and Lauren. They’re going to be just about 2 and a half by the time the wedding comes around and so I’m fully prepared for the possibility that they might not make it down the aisle due to fear, crying, crankiness, or the general unpredictability of toddlers.

    Regardless, I’m going to hope for the best and plan as if they’ll make it smiling cutely down the aisle. I contemplated the idea of doing something non-traditional (since we are, in a lot of ways, nontraditional) but haven’t fully decided one way or the other. I’ve bought the twins balloons before and since balloons start with B, I thought it might be cute to have them walk down the aisle with green/purple balloons. Bryan kind of vetoed the idea because it seemed informal and borderline tacky, but the idea’s not fully removed from my mind…

    We picked up a simple little basket for Lauren at one of the many random wedding stores in LA’s garment district a few weeks back but I didn’t like any of the super white satin-y pillows for Davey. I know there are better alternatives but still have to do some Etsy searching to see what’s out there.

    The Palmoa’s Nest ring bearer bowl has been around for a little while and is very pretty, ceramic, and can be re-used as decor after the wedding. It’s a little pricey, though, and I’m not sure a two-and-a-half year old would be able to handle it all that gentle-y…

    There are a lot of blog/forums posts on this subject but I haven’t seen anything I LOVED yet. A lot of people suggest some kind of floral or plant type pillow, a stuffed animal, a vintage ring box or tin… but none of those really feel like US.

    If we end up going with a ring bearer pillow, I’ll probably try to find someone on Etsy who can make one in our colors- like WhiteThistleBridal or Woomi or…

    from WhiteThistleBridal

    from Woomi

    You know what’s hilarious? As I was typing this post and rummaging through Etsy, I found EXACTLY what we wanted for our wedding. AHA! I’ll post about it after the purchase is made & arrives… :) :) :)

    I am so thankful for my bridesmaids. I chose three really good friends from church/college and so far, they’ve been nothing but super supportive and accommodating. Lena, my MOH, Sally, and Junia also have a lot in common: they’re all Kim’s (my future last name, EEK!) and they’re all teachers-in-training- with Lena applying for grad programs, Sally working on her credential at CSU Eastbay, and Junia teaching abroad in Taiwan.

    Since there were only three of them, I had to nix the idea of matching colors in different styles, a trend I 100% support and love. In the early, early stages of planning, I had seriously considered having them wear black (the uber practical and most classy) but I later realized that having them wear color would add to the colorful-ness of the wedding and help alleviate the need for more flowers. Then, after choosing my colors- plum/purple and sage/light green- I knew I wanted them to wear purple given how green the vineyard and setting around them would be. Thus began my search for purple dresses!

    Like most of the wedding world, I loved Jenny Yoo and J Crew for their dresses that come in a variety of lovely styles and colors. Unfortunately, most were in the $150-250 price range and therefore over my budget. I wanted to try to find dresses under $100 and so I remembered that a lot of my married friends and previous brides have found their bridesmaids dresses through non-official bridesmaids channels, like Target, Anthropologie, Ann Taylor, Newport News, Victoria’s Secret, etc. After combing through most of those websites, I found a couple dresses I liked at Target (surprise surprise!):

    These dresses were a little on the casual side, but because the color seemed right and they were under $100 (plus free shipping and returns to store), I ordered them in a few sizes to see if they might work. I kind of like the look of long bridesmaids dresses but because my bridesmaids are all varying heights, I conceded that shorter dresses would eliminate at least some of the alterations necessary.

    Meanwhile, I also began hunting for shoes. Target again pulled through with really pretty purple pumps:
    Given my height (5’10”) and Bryan’s height (5’8″), these pretty pumps weren’t an option for me- but they were definitely an option for my bridesmaids! My three bridesmaids are all significantly shorter than our groomsmen (5’2″, 5’3″ and 5’5″ compared with 6’4″, 6’2″, and 5’9″) and so I ordered some of these shoes to compare other bridesmaids dresses and all of the varying shades of purple.

    I was really happy with these finds, but in the end, I didn’t really need them… to be continued!

    bridal salon visit #4

    February 17, 2010

    Destination #3: Jessica McClintock Outlet, San Francisco (Yelp)

    So technically this was not a bridal salon- it was more of a wedding dress outlet. To compare, it was kind of like a TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack… no plushy carpet, no pretty decorations, just lots of racks of pretty intensely discounted dresses. Based on Yelp and the comments of a few friends, I didn’t have high hopes to find THE DRESS at the outlet, but hey, you never know! The mere possibility of finding a dress for less than $100 was pretty dang enticing.

    Lena, my MOH, and I coordinated our schedules and figured out the Muni schedule so that we could take an extended lunch break and trek out to the outlet. After reading some of the Yelp reviews, I was expecting some kind of crazy sample sale madness, but t was WAY less crazy than I had expected, maybe because it was around 11am on a weekday. Lena and I were among the only people there, so we had lots of space to comb through the racks and pull things we liked.

    The larger half of the store is dedicated to bridesmaids dresses (or party/special occasion dresses, I guess) in a variety of colors. There were maybe 3 or 4 dresses in purple and so we looked at the one we liked and Lena tried it on. Unfortunately they didn’t have the sizes we needed, but if they did, the $60 price tag would have been a really good deal. We would have had to get them altered so I guess it would cost more but… whatever. Everything’s final sale there, so we moved on!

    We then combed through the racks of wedding dresses and pulled almost anything in my size just for the sake of trying it on. There were maybe 5 or 6 different styles I pulled from the racks, which weren’t organized by size or style or anything like that. We went into the huge-o changing room (locker room style, no pictures) and tried on the dresses.

    I didn’t like most of the dresses, but the last one I tried on caught my attention. It had a small train (unlike all of the other dresses) and even though it was simple, it was simple in a pretty, minimalistic way. I actually hadn’t wanted to try it on because it looked too simple, but I’m glad I did.

    Lesson Learned #5: Looks can be deceiving! Try and try again!

    I LOVED the price tag (~$60?) but the only real problem with the dress was that it was too short in the front (hovered over the ground instead of on in) and I wasn’t sure how much work it would be to get it altered. Juuust in case, I tried on a few other dresses in the same size but the same issue came up– too short :( It was a weird issue because it didn’t come up at any of the other salons, but good to know, I guess.

    Another random note- given the nature of the store and the changing room, all of the dresses were really dirty on the bottom and along the train- so cleaning fees are something to consider.

    Given the return policy and how I wasn’t 100% in love with the dress, I left it there. I figured that if I didn’t find any thing I really liked in SoCal that coming weekend, I could fall back on the $100 plan B… B for SUPER budget-friendly!

    the (paper) goods

    February 12, 2010

    Although I’ve only been posting about the wedding dress search, TONS has been going on behind the scenes… I just haven’t had the time or energy to document it all. But, I will! … or I’ll try to, at least.

    Thankfully one of my “vendors”, Janet of Whimsical Thumb, has decided to start blogging as well! As soon as everything goes more public with the theme and design and invitations and website, she’ll post pictures and such on her blog. Here’s the general status of everything (invitations, envelopes, directions insert, thank you cards, etcetc), and she already somewhat document the huge headache (and later victory) that came from trying to print addresses onto our envelopes (instead of using *icky* labels or paying for super expensive calligraphy) on this post.

    Taking a step back, I love paper and could easily spend thousands of dollars on all of our stationery. Like many others, I love the classic, elegant look of letterpress invitations but it clearly (and unfortunately) wasn’t in our budget. The next best thing was to make sure that what we printed digitally was custom and personalized. After pouring over different sites and blogs, checking out other people’s featured work, I concluded that I liked a mix of simple, modern elements with cute, playful colors and fonts. Although I love the look of pretty orchids and flowery designs (like those on Wedding Paper Divas), they were a little too generic for me!

    So, I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted my invitations and such to look like, which led to dozens (if not hundreds?) of email exchanges and GChat conversations over the intricacies of design, things she needed from me, paper measurements, and more. We had a lot of fun drawing on scratch paper and napkins, going back and forth about different ways to fold the paper, different sizes of paper, crazy in-the-clouds ideas like perforation and punching out holes, but I’m really really happy with what we came up with.

    Janet’s GREAT at what she does, and I’m so excited to send them out soon!