Friday, June 29, 2012

The Veil

I've mentioned before, in my talk about flowers, that I'm truly a flower child at heart. So when I think of the wedding and my headpiece, I would be lying if I didn't admit that flowery thoughts like this were absolutely considered in choosing what I would wear on my wedding day.

Something like that, with the loose braid - it definitely stood out amongst the many other options there are for a modern headpiece. But, like other little girls, I've dreamed of my wedding for a long, long time and I knew that regardless of the kind of gown I got, I wanted a veil. Not a birdcage, not a tiara, not clips - an actual veil. The next question was... what kind?

Before I did my internship at a wedding venue, I was naive enough to think that there were a variety of lengths and you could have some details around the edges, but that was about it. Oh boy, was I wrong. So imagine my head spinning when I went dress shopping and they asked what kind of veil I wanted. What length, what style, what trim - I mean, there are a lot of freakin' options. Options are a good thing, of course. But as soon as my consultant started pulling out the different styles for me, I realized I already knew exactly what I wanted.

Just like with our color scheme, a vision immediately came to mind, and my vision was this picture. I know there are a ton of them out there, but this one specifically is the one that I had in mind. I wanted a veil long enough to cover me and Mr. Otter, to get a gorgeous photo like this one. When they showed me the veil with detailing to match my dress? I was sold.

Now the question: unlike some brides, I won't be changing out of my gown at the reception. I'm in love with that bad boy and I'm going to wear it all night long... but, I may just be a two veil bride. I want one to wear during the reception, and one this long just won't do since it's so long and far too pretty to get ripped!

So what do you guys think - is two veils acceptable? Too much? Or do you agree with me that more than likely, nobody will notice the change anyway?

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Wedding Planner?

To have a wedding planner or to not have one... that was never the question. Okay, I know, bad play on words but apparently I'm just not that witty! ;)

Anyway, right when the planning begins, you know how you get hammered with questions? Mostly things like "Have you set a date? What are your colors? Can I have a plus one? When are you having babies?" (And yes, we were asked the baby question even though that definitely isn't in the cards for us for a bit.) Well we also got the question "who is your wedding planner?"

{personal photo: my OCD, color coordinated planner}

The short answer? I'm our wedding planner. For a lot of reasons:
  • First, I'm totally a Type-A. I'm also sort of OCD. (I've mentioned these things before, I know!) I love plans, details, color-coordinating, and scheduling. So I knew without fail that I would be the one to actually plan our wedding, go to all the vendor meetings (with my over-prepared presentations, of course) and generally just be making decisions on what I wanted for the big day.
  • Second, for those who don't know yet, I worked as an intern for a wedding venue for over a year. I loved it there and I also learned a LOT over the course of 70 or so weddings. After seeing that many events, with no two events being the same, I figured out pretty clearly what I did and didn't like.
  • And then the last thing? I don't want to be restricted in planning. Some of the event planners that I worked with had their brides meet vendors then make a decision within a set amount of days. That's definitely not how every planner operates, but the idea that I may be forced into a decision definitely wasn't my idea of a good time.
So when I started thinking about the wedding weekend, I initially said that I wouldn't be having a wedding planner. But again, with planning comes options - and specifically, with one that I hadn't thought of yet. Hiring a day of coordinator.

Instead of hiring a wedding planner who would work with me to execute my vision, make vendor decisions, and etc. I'm going to hire a day of coordinator. The few options I have in mind come highly recommended, and offer full weekend management services instead of just the day of. That means they would also be present for the rehearsal, take care of final payments to vendors and final confirmations in advance, so it looks like this is going to be a great option for us!

Now I just have to decide which DOC to choose... If you hired a planner or DOC for your wedding, how did you choose? Did you find that meeting with them in person was helpful?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our Engagement Photos!

The following is 30-something photos out of the 248 we received. That was my best effort at narrowing it down. I've also managed to narrow that down to 25 I want printed... The problem is I want them GIANT to hang in our room... so I can only choose three or so, theoretically. That's going to be a problem. But moving on...

Shooting with Valerie was SO FUN. It was just like an adventure around town, especially when we had to kick people out of the spot where Mr. Otter proposed, haha. Unlike me, Mr. Otter isn't all about photos, so I was surprised to see he actually had a fun time when we were shooting. It was also fun for me to get to see Valerie's engagement ring in person since she is freshly engaged!

We had a great couple of hours with her, the photos are beautiful, and I am 100% confident that we couldn't have chosen anyone better to photograph our wedding day. And rehearsal. And maybe the shower, though I haven't actually booked that one yet...

And now, on to the photos! 

* All of the following photos are by Valerie Marie Photography.

(Our true relationship colors coming out? Haha, this is one of our favorites!)

(We call this the Mr. Otter chair. Very convenient!) 

(Team pride!)

Now you can see why it was so impossible for me to choose favorites! Which of these photos do you like best?

I'm a flower child at heart

A while back, my FMIL and I got to go and meet with Stacy and Melissa of Design Group to get a quote for our FLOWERS! I've said over and over again that I want something simple and I stand by that - the flowers will be simple, but gorgeous! 

What some of you may not know about me is that I'm very much a flower child. I maintain that though I love all things tech and social media, the essence of my soul was meant to be living during the 60's - enjoying The Beatles live, attending Woodstock, not showering (and that being completely acceptable, haha) and wearing flowers in my hair every day. Since that isn't the case, I've taken the flower child in myself and tried to throw that essence into the actual flowers for the big day.

Now, for those shaking their heads at me for not doing it myself: there isn't a lot that I plan to DIY for the wedding, simply because I think some things are best left to professionals, and the florals are definitely one of them. I tried my hand at helping with florals a couple times during my internship at a wedding venue and let's just say: they weren't pretty. Someone else often had to fix my attempts at floral art so there's NO WAY I'm taking on that responsibility for my own wedding day.

I jokingly warned Mr. Otter and my FMIL that Stacy and Melissa were going to LOOOOVE me because I had a Keynote presentation all prepared with my inspiration photos as well as VERY detailed instructions (down to how many corsages, bouquets, what color I wanted them wrapped in, and etc.). I meant it sarcastically but guess what? Those photos and counts made our meeting go by super quickly and it was painless. I knew exactly what I wanted and instead of having to poke and prod me for answers, I laid it all out and they double checked my counts and details. We were told to expect a quote in about a week, but because of how much I had already prepared for them, they were able to get me a quote the very next day!

Now, on to the inspiration photos!

Image via / Photo by Emily Steffen Photography / Flowers by The Bride and MOH (Impressive!)

The bouquets will all be as similar to this as possible. Mine will be the largest, then the BMs will get a similar configuration, just smaller. I'm really IN LOVE with the way this looks both in the coloring and variety of flowers, so this was an easy pick for me.

Image via Nicole Hill / Photo by Nicole Hill / Flowers by Mayflowers

And on to the boutonnieres - I love Lamb's Ear, so that was a requirement. When I came across these, I knew they were the perfect compliment to the flowers the girls and I will be carrying. Hopefully the men don't mind a little blush in their wardrobe. ;)

And on to the centerpieces. Again, I felt like these colors perfectly complimented the other flowers and I love that the twine adds a little something extra to the mason jars. One of my concerns initially was having two centerpieces, just based on the fact that I really, really don't want a cluttered table. But they assured me that the table won't be too cluttered, and even demonstrated by sitting some jars on the 2 person round we were meeting on and they were right - it definitely won't take up a ton of space on the table, leaving the table open for guests to feel like they won't knock anything over or feel like they can't converse because of our centerpieces.

My only disappointment is that they cautioned me that peonies may not be available. I'm fine with garden roses (especially considering that most can't tell/won't care about the difference) but I still want those peonies. So everyone cross your fingers for me!

Is there a non-negotiable flower in your wedding dreams? Or am I the only neurotic peony stalker here?

I said yes to the dress!

Dress shopping. The part that I'm pretty sure most little girl looks forward to for basically her entire life... okay, maybe just me. But regardless, I couldn't wait to go dress shopping! I (and I'm pretty sure everyone else) came out of it EXHAUSTED, but it was well worth it since I said yes to the dress!

The day started off with Friend J and myself driving a couple hours towards my hometown, where we had appointments at both David's Bridal and Alfred Angelo. We met up with my momma, grandma (aka: mammy), my FMIL, and FSIL/BM T at the first store and anxiously waited on them to open their doors... 

See, my mom is generally late. So I told everybody to arrive by 11:45 and guess what - SHE ACTUALLY BEAT ME THERE! So crazy, because that NEVER HAPPENS. At that point, I called BM Lails only to see her walking up to me, which was so exciting! I can't believe how long we've been friends (now 12+ years) and how much has gone on between us, but here we are, shopping for my wedding dress. Such a special moment.

Personal photo / MOH Lails on the left, me in the center, and MOH J on the right.

Personal photo / The wedding party! FSIL/BM T, BM Lails, myself, and friend J.

I was most anxious to get into David's Bridal, our first stop, because the dream dress was there. There was a dress I've had my eye on since before we were even engaged and I know that with dresses at David's Bridal, they can be discontinued at any time. In fear of that happening, I decreed that we would go shopping as close as possible to the actual wedding date... just a year in advance. I would tan and do my hair the same as I plan to do for the wedding (except my hair will be softly curled, which I cannot do and I'll be wearing makeup which again, I can't do...) so we made sure whatever dress I chose, we ordered in the right color.

Personal photo / A friend of mine had her eye on the White by Vera Wang Style VW351011 for herself, so I wanted to try it on and send her a photo! As you can probably guess from my expression, I really, really did not find this dress flattering on my body.

Personal photo / This is it! The dream dress. This is White by Vera Style VW351065. As you can tell from my expression, I obviously thought this was the dress and much preferred it to other options that we tried on.

The dream dress still won, after trying on a variety of other dresses, most of which were NOT photo-worthy. I was prepared to purchase it, but everybody (except me...) agreed that we should wait until after lunch and our next appointment at Alfred Angelo before we purchased the dress.

For lunch we got to go to one of my (and my FMIL) favorites: Olive Garden! We were all super pumped about lunch because trying on/looking at wedding dresses is way more work than you think it's going to be, especially at David's Bridal on a Sunday.

Personal photo / Of course we needed drinks with lunch!

After that, BM Lails had to head back to school (she was missed!) and we were off to our next appointment at Alfred Angelo. Now, I'll be honest. We went there for one reason and one reason only -Disney. Collection. I think of the 15 or so dresses I tried on here, most were from the Disney Collection. I'm not ashamed in the least to say I also wanted to try on the replica of Bella's wedding dress (yes, as in the Twilight series). I knew it wouldn't be The Dress because I just don't have the body for it, but I still wanted to try it on. After trying on all those dresses, a clear (and unexpected) favorite emerged.

So which dress did I go with? Well... I hate to be that girl but I'm not showing it! I made a blanket rule at the appointment that if you weren't there, you couldn't see it, and if you were there, you had to delete all photos from your phone. I got a little crazy about it! I don't want Mr. Otter to get a peek OR hear a peep until April!

Now, to talk a little about my experience. We went to these appointments on a Sunday, so I expected that both stores would be packed. I knew going in to my appointment at David's Bridal that my consultant would probably be working with 1, 2, or as many as 3 other parties and that I would have to try to be patient and keep that in mind. WELL - let me tell you something, the experience there wasn't great and it had nothing to do with the consultant being busy. Instead, I found that my questions couldn't even be answered. See, with the dream dress (pictured above) I kept asking if she was SURE this was the "ivory" color. It just looks so much MORE IVORY, almost champagne actually, when I looked at it online, and it really, really didn't look like that in person. She said she wasn't sure, and brought over a manager, who also wasn't sure and said they would check in the computer. No one ever answered the question. We left the appointment still wondering if the dress was actually ivory or not.

My appointment at Alfred Angelo, on the other hand, was a totally different experience. Contrary to my belief, we were the only party in the store with the exception of a small party that came in towards the conclusion of my appointment. My consultant was amazing - she allowed me to go through the Disney collection book and choose every dress I wanted to try on, and then allowed me to walk the store with my little entourage to pull things to try on. She actually even got a dress out of the front window for us, which was so sweet of her! In the end, I genuinely believe that her service was part of the reason that I fell so in love with my dress.

Okay, so to give a small hint - I purchased my dress from Alfred Angelo... does anyone want to guess what I went with!? 

Hi, I'm Melissa and I have OCD.

I'm pretty OCD about things, in case you haven't figured that out yet. Even down to the smallest things, like my nail polish. So my nails for our wedding day are no laughing matter - this is something I'm actually putting thought into!

The facts:
  • I am obsessed with nail polish.
  • Oh, and with painting my nails.
  • And with getting Shellac manis, because they are the best.
  • I'm also extremely indecisive about little things. Normally when I'm trying to pick out a nail polish color, I make Mr. Otter come in the bathroom with me and I give him options and he chooses. I almost never use the one he tells me to but hey, at least a choice is made, right?
If you guys don't believe me about my nail polish obsession, take a look at my current collection:

Personal photo / Now you can see how serious I am!

So for the wedding, there are going to be a ton of details that nobody but us care about. One of the ones I care about is my nail polish color. Why? Because I always notice everybody else's and I'll well aware that even years from now, I'll probably notice what color my nails are in our wedding photos.

Thankfully, though, this decision isn't the hardest - they'll be Shellac, for sure, so I don't have to worry about chips happening. But what color? The options are: a basic black (my favorite color) or something similar to the sadly discontinued OPI Mod About You. (Just FYI: you can still get Mod About You on Ebay!) 

Photo courtesy of Never Ending Obsession / Polish pictured is OPI Mod About You

My favorite color is black, and it matches everything, so it's not surprise that black is in the running. But the pink matches our overall color scheme for the wedding. So which to choose?

I (obviously) need opinions. Thoughts? Though, fair warning, I may just decide and then you'll be like Mr. Otter wondering why you gave me input to begin with. ;)

We have a photographer!

And not just any photographer, we have the greatest photographer: the lovely Valerie Carnevale. (It's totally fine to be jealous, I would be too.)

Here's how we chose Valerie: I've seen her work in photography for several years; everything from senior portraits, to weddings, to family photoshoots. We were friends when we were little kids and still are friends now. But most importantly? I trust her. I know that Valerie is going to take GORGEOUS photos, in her own style - the style that I've fallen in love with.

And another huge plus? She's creative. When we discussed where we should take our engagement photos, I suggested the spot we got engaged, and then she offered a few more places she wanted to try out. She's totally game for trying new things and so are we - a perfect match!

But enough talk from me - here is a sampling of her work, which more than speaks for itself.

All of the following photos are courtesy of Valerie Marie Photography - she sent me a selection of photos to use for the Bee and I had to narrow it down... it was NOT an easy task!


I think the photos speak for themselves - but which are your favorites? As I start to put together our shot list, I'm sure that some of these will be included! 

The Venue: Part 3

After the post about our venue requirements, then the post about the horrible tour we took, I'm pretty sure that you guys probably thought I was lying about finding the perfect venue... I wasn't! And today, I'm finally sharing.

Our venue is..... Mustard Seed Gardens!

To say Mustard Seed Gardens was our dream venue is an understatement. One of my mom's coworkers suggested it and I am so glad she did!

What put Mustard Seed on our list to tour was the barn, hands down. I really wanted a barn, and the location just can not be beat. Speaking with Megan, the event coordinator, confirmed our thoughts that this was truly the perfect venue. A great price, the ability to bring in our own (affordable!) caterer, and the fact that my emails were answered within the same day? Amazing. Touring the space only further confirmed that we wanted to have our wedding there.

What sold us on the venue?
  • The space and venue itself, first and foremost. It is priced very reasonably and they have a discount for rentals that will make those more affordable for us. There is a ton of parking and it's very conveniently located.
  • We LOVED that it's a family business. I really felt that both Mark (the owner) and Megan (his daughter/the event coordinator) cared about our event and answering my 5 million questions.
  • We love the gazebo, and what really stood out to me was that we could do 360 seating if we wanted to. Even better? We didn't bring that up, Mark did. That assured me that they're on top of the current wedding trends and willing to work with us on whatever we come up with.
  • Lastly, the venue was just what we were looking for in that it was simple and rustic. It doesn't need a ton of decor to make it look pretty, because it is gorgeous without any decor! Our vision of decor and flowers really fit right in with the venue.
And now, photos! I took some on our tour, and even though they're a little dreary due to rain, I think it's still a great representation of our venue!

The bridal preparation area - the boys will be outside in a totally different structure prior to the wedding.

Here is where I will process (from the door behind Mr. Otter) through this screened in porch...

...then go through this arch to our ceremony site...

...this gazebo!
This is the reception space: the barn! When I took these photos, they had just started their renovations. 

After all the renovations, the barn won't have a ceiling and will only have a partial second floor.

This photo was taken standing in the barn entry, looking out on the property - including the ceremony area!

When we were finished with our tour, Mark let us sit down and ask him the long list of questions I still had. Most I had answered by Megan via email, but I still had a few to ask during our tour. While we were talking, this kitten and Mr. Otter became fast friends. :)

So, obviously we're in love, but what do you guys think about the gazebo and barn!?