Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Deer in headlights (or My First Bridal Expo)

Bridesmaid R and I paired up to tackle my first bridal expo. It was a rainy, foggy January afternoon - awful for anything but staying inside. Everyone else must have had the same thought because the event hall at the local university was packed! It was absolute chaos between the vendors, staff and guests. I was overloaded and thankful when BM R stepped up and made her way through the crowds past the registration table. (We only needed to "check in" if we wanted to be entered in the drawings.)

A quick scan around the main room revealed a wide variety of vendors: cakes, caterers, photographer, videographers, hotels, salons and dress shops. How best to tackle this melee? Dive right in! Actually, it was more like shoehorn your way in. Yes, there were brides there. And they brought everyone in their family and wedding party with them. There was a strong contingent that appeared to attend every bridal expo for the goodies.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Off the grid

Things were a little quiet in internet-world this weekend. Because...

We were sailing!

No internet, no laptops, and no phones (well, except to run Pandora). I did bring 4 back issues of Real Simple to lazily flip through while sipping various alcoholic beverages. And my ever-present digital camera tagged along.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fiancé suggests a venue

In an attempt at efficiency, we booked two venue appointments back to back on a bitterly cold Saturday in January. The third and final choice from our original list was Brandywine River Museum. Since it was Mr. P's pick and the two previous appointments gave us practice, I let him take the lead. I did come prepared with a list of basic questions, just in case.

The interior architecture is the main draw for this venue. While the exterior is mostly weathered brick reminiscent of nearby farmhouses, the modern interior is clad in white stucco. It features a centrally located atrium that winds up several stories with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Brandywine River. What a cool event space, right?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest list spreadsheet

Reconciling 2 databases plus 2 online accounts for mailing addresses and email contacts for our family and friends. I thought it was organized but I started this project 1.5 hours ago. Seems there are some mighty big holes in my system. (I blame the transfer from my old G5 desktop to the shiny new laptop.)

Among the fields on the new spreadsheet that I won't be collecting, at least this far in advance... dietary restrictions.

What method do you use to keep the guest list organized?

Cake cake cake!

Can you tell I'm excited? Our first meeting with prospective baker #1 is this afternoon. Not sure what we'll need but I'm bringing my laptop and binder... and a fork. Mr. P suggested bringing a pint of milk. He may be on to something.

Note to co-workers: Expect me to be on an obnoxious sugar high later.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Winterthur: Do we look like we're du Ponts?

Ah, inside joke. Allow me to explain.

Winterthur is the former estate home of a member of a local (and very wealthy) family - the du Ponts. Their legacy has left an indelible impression on the Brandywine Valley past and present. Grand country homes, acres of gardens, and impressive collections of antiques hint at the history of Delaware's own "royalty." It's nothing short of spectacular. And we wanted to marry on one of these estates. Winterthur was our first choice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dinner, Dancing and Dinos

In early January, I started to get anxious about securing key vendors: venue, photographer and caterer. I know vendors in our area book up often over a year in advance (and, at 17 months, we still had not set a date). The best and most reasonable vendors are likely to get snatched up quickly. I did not want our options unnecessarily narrowed by cost or availability.

The goal is to make our decisions organically and without pre-conceived notions. With that in mind, I gathered a list of possible venues ranging from Center City Philadelphia to suburban arboretums. Light brainstorming! From my original research of 60 sites, we focused on just nearby and unique. We want to showcase the best of the area and what is unique to Delaware and the Brandywine Valley. Mr. P took one look at my massive list and asked if we could choose our top 3 venues. From 60 to 3 options... to start.

First venue to explore was the Delaware Natural History Museum outside of Greenville.

(First only because their flexible schedule gave us a weekday appointment. When I get it in my head something needs to be done, I become *ahem* antsy if there are delays.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How many bridal stores does it take?!

More dress shopping! Future mother-in-law (FMIL, not FML) hadn't done anything wedding related with us yet; I thought she'd be interested. Mr. P had barely gotten out, "Miss P was thinking of visiting some bridal..." before she let out excited squeaks. I think that's a yes. The night before the bridal appointment, the girls sat up until 2am pouring over the wedding binder. As a mother of two boys, she was happy to be included AND excited about the styles of dresses the next day.

Per the instructions from just about every bridal salon, I wore no make-up. After all, they don't want your make-up rubbing off on the white dresses. Jewelry, aside from my engagement ring, was left at home. My hair was pulled back to expedite matters and keep the static to a minimum. Compounding the ugly was my "winter tan," weight I didn't know I'd gained and a decision to wear glasses instead of contacts.

Ladies, a word of advice: You wouldn't shop for bathing suits and jeans when you look like crap. At least not with positive results... So don't do it when wedding dress shopping. Your self-esteem will thank you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Miss 27 Dresses joins the dress hunt

I am officially addicted to dress shopping.

As someone who already loves shopping, the thought of trying on pretty dresses in luxurious fabrics thrills me. The hunt, in store and online, is only bested by trying the pretties on. Once I discovered some free time over Christmas break, my thoughts naturally gravitated toward more dress shopping. Before my feet even hit the floor in the morning, I was on my iPhone pulling up the nearest salon's website then giddy-dialing them for an appointment.

Yes, they could see me that day. Could I come in 2 hours? Uhm, YES!

Get this veil off me... or Dress Shopping with Mom, II

With the traumatic experience of the first store behind us, Mom and I bolstered our spirits over lunch. I ordered one of the heaviest meals on the menu - a Monte Cristo. Screw it, I thought. Who care if I'm dress shopping. I've never had one and I'm hungry. (The women in my family get cranky when not fed - a lesson Mr. P quickly picked up on.)

Between bites of the deep-fried goodness, we discussed the varying levels of Fail! at the last store to better prepare for the next stop. Although it wouldn't take much to create a better experience, the next salon immediately assigned us an attendant who explained their system for pulling dresses: place your allotted 6 colored rings on the dresses you'd like to try on and we'll bring them to you. (Color-coded and labeling - I'm in!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dress shopping with Mom

My parents live 8 hours away. Family bonding time is limited to the 3-4 times a year when we see each other. If we're lucky, there's a week-long vacation somewhere in the mix. I knew when I returned home for Christmas that Mom and I had some Serious Wedding Business to attend to - all within 4 days. Priority #1 was dress shopping.


Armed with my wedding binder full of dresses, flowers and cakes (all carefully curated to showcase our ideas), I set forth to show Mom what we were envisioning. Most of the dresses were well received and there was general enthusiasm all around. At times, she looked like she might pop out of sheer joy. Mom deserved the honor of being with me on the first dress shopping trip. Looking back, I am thankful it worked out this way. I needed someone on my side who knows my personality, stress indicators and has the stamina to shop for hours.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Thanksgiving un-surprise

Every Thanksgiving, we trek to north Jersey to see Mr. P's family. This time, we had some news to share with the 20+ family members. His mom promised to keep our engagement a secret. I had happy butterflies all week at the thought of revealing our happy news. We walked into his aunt's house without saying a word, thinking we were going to pull one over on everyone until it came out in a dramatic reveal. But it was not to be.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Breaking the news to our friends

As much fun as it was to devise a clever "We're engaged!" story for my mom, we brainstormed even harder when it came to our friends. We came up with some creative ways to surprise them, but my favorite "spill the beans" story has to be when we told our good friend R.

The engagement was still a secret. The few family members that knew promised to keep it a secret (and off Facebook) so we could share the news in person with close friends and distant family.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Timeline - 10 months out

I don't know whose bright idea (mine) it was to create a To Do Timeline late last night. Aren't these things supposed to give you inner peace? Mine has just increasing the crushing weight on my chest. Breathe... in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Ten months does NOT seem like enough time. Mr. P... ?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sneaky boy

Let's try some wedding math!

Major DIY bathroom renovation (going on month 2)

45 days til Christmas
no income for 3 months
engagement ring (?!?)

Ehm, I'm not known for my math skills. To me, it doesn't add up. Still doesn't. But it did to Brian in the fall of 2009...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

You registered for what?


After tubing down the Brandywine River with friends last weekend, we're seriously considering adding a pair of river tubes plus pump to our registry. The only problem is Williams-Sonoma and Macy's don't carry river tubes. I could have sworn they were next to the meat thermometers and fine china...

Why I'll always think fondly of November 21

Mr. P and I decided to head up to Philly to cross some Christmas shopping off our list. While there, we planned to check out a few of our favorite places around Rittenhouse Square. It was a beautiful Saturday - warm and bright after so many dreary November days. Everyone else was out too. The city was filled with moms with strollers, city dogs out for a walk and families shopping.

We laid out a casual plan of attack for the day. Hit a few stores, grab a bite then load up on gelato before leaving the city. My perfect city day!