Saturday, July 25, 2009
I'm not really much of a girly girl, but I'm not really a tomboy either. My daily routine consists of moisturizer, mascara, and lipgloss. I get my hair cut and colored every six months or so. I sometimes used to get manicures before I had kids, but my oldest is 11, and I haven't had one since he was born.
I figured that I'm only getting married once, so I might as well take the opportunity to get pampered. At the same time, I didn't really want a new or different look -- what I wanted was to look like me, only prettier! I think it worked...
I timed things so my regular hair and waxing appointments fell in the week or so before the wedding. I didn't count them under our wedding budget, since I would have made those appointments anyway.
I experimented a little beforehand with my hair. I thought about wearing it down (Will's first choice) but decided against it, mostly because every female I know told me I should wear it up for various reasons (down would be too hot, it's an occasion that deserves an updo, up will stay looking better through the day and night) and because I loved the clay flowers I got from etsy, and knew they would look better if I wore my hair up.
A couple of weeks before the wedding, my mom and I took a special trip to Sephora to get makeovers, and I ended up buying some primer, eyeshadow primer stuff, tinted moisturizer, and fake eyelashes. I had never used any of these before, but I didn't feel like I was going over the top (even though my debit card was screaming when we left!)
On Friday morning, I went by myself to get a manicure and my very first pedicure ever. This was super fun and relaxing, and definitely worth it!
After the scavenger hunt and lunch with everyone, we came back home to get ready for the photo shoot and the wedding itself. Some people like the idea of a big reveal, where the groom sees the bride for the first time when she's all dolled up. I didn't care a bit about that, and anyway, Will had already seen me in my dress when he walked in our room while I was trying it on one day. His reaction then was quite gratifying, even though I was wearing my glasses and hadn't combed my hair in a couple of days.
I'm glad we didn't try for a big reveal, since I actually really loved getting ready with Will and all the kids and my mom and sisters, with Nicole taking pictures of the whole thing.
My sister Corina and I always laugh sooooo hard together, and we've been getting ready for events together for as many years as I can remember. We have lots of stupid private jokes, and make new ones all the time. You don't even want to know what we were laughing about here! She's amazingly good at everything she does, and has a great sense of style. She came over to our house right after I had blowdried my hair.
I put on my makeup then curled the ends while she did her makeup. I wanted little asymmetrical braids in the front of my hair and a messy bun in the back. I couldn't afford to hire a stylist for the day, and I'm just as glad, because Corina did such a good job!
Once our hair and makeup were finished, we ran off to do the formal family photos, then Will and Nicole and I went all over town taking photos of just the two of us. I was really windblown (no hairspray for this girl!) by the time we got to the church, but Corina fixed me right up again. Check out her headband! I had given her carte blanche to wear any black dress she wanted, and I hadn't given any direction for hair. She had no idea that I was going to wear white flowers, but we thought it was such a happy coincidence!
Look closely at the next two pictures to see the tiny braids. The first one shows the messy bun at the end of the ceremony. Isn't it pretty?! (Nicole didn't take this one)
Proof that Corina did a great job: the next picture was taken twelve hours after she first fixed my hair. Three of those hours were out in the wind, and four of them were spent dancing like a crazy woman.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The scavenger hunt dude (I guess I can call him John, since that's his name!) had said that we could just show up and divide into teams that morning, but, um, that didn't really work for my virgo self. Any teacher knows that usually when you let kids choose their own groups, you're asking for disaster. So I had pored over the scavenger hunt RSVP list and created teams of people in advance, keeping in mind our ultimate goals of having fun and creating a feeling of community.
I mixed people from Will's family and people from my family, people from in town and people from out of town, and also tried to make sure that every kid had someone close to their age on their team. This was actually easier than it might sound, since we have a lot of friends with kids. I also created one team of families with younger kids, and asked John to give them a more direct route so they had a shot at finishing around the same time as everyone else. Will and I weren't on teams, so I made sure that our kids were on a team with people they knew well who would take good care of them. Gotta say, I'm glad I was a control freak about the teams, and I'm pretty sure that every team hit it off and bonded over the course of the morning!
Once everyone was standing with their teams, John explained how the hunt would work, and the teams scattered to find their first envelopes. These contained clues that led to the next envelope. The clues were a combination of riddle, code, and visual images, and each envelope had 4 copies of the clue -- this made things much easier, since there were 12-13 people per team.
Will and I walked around videotaping and hanging out with the teams as they followed clues around the whole downtown area of our city. This was totally perfect, because it gave us quiet time alone to talk while we were in between teams, and rowdy fun time with all of our friends as we watched them try to solve the clues.
Soooo fun! The weather was gorgeous: sunny but not scorchingly hot. Even though we pretended like it was...
There were nine clues in total. One of them led to the jewelry company that made our rings, and another led to the pub where we had our first date, and where we wrote our vows. The final clue brought everyone back to a spot near the restaurant we had chosen for lunch.
We picked this restaurant because the food is yummy, and they are totally set up to accomodate a large group, even when everyone is ordering off the menu with separate checks. It's super laid-back, and the party area has pool tables, so the kids were entertained while the grownups socialized. People kept moving from table to table, but the waitresses didn't get cranky even though they had trouble figuring out where to bring the food. This would have been a non-issue if we had paid for everyone's lunch...but then, there are lots of things that would be a non-issue if we could afford to buy lunch for 40 people!
A few of my Albuquerque relatives got into town too late to do the hunt, but they met us there and apparently hit it off with some of our friends and ended up spending the afternoon with them. (I only found this out when I saw photos they had taken of the weekend!)
The whole morning was exactly the way I had envisioned it when we first started talking about a wedding weekend. Was it worth the money? Hell, yes! Do I regret changing my original budget to accomodate what we really wanted? Not one bit! Am I proud that even with the scavenger hunt, we spent less on our whole weekend than most people spend on a celebration that lasts a few hours? Why, yes! Yes, I am!
It was hard to pull myself away from the restaurant, but before I knew it, we had to go home to get ready for our photo op...
I've written before about the fact that I originally thought we could get married for $1000 and Will said there was no way. I still believe it would have been possible. And I'm sure it would have been quite nice. It just wouldn't have been the wedding that we really wanted.
We talked about doing a very private ceremony, with either just us and the kids or just us and our immediate families. We could definitely have done that for under $1000. But, while I would have loved an intimate wedding in some ways, I think I would ended up feeling cheated of the wedding of my girlhood dreams (even if those dreams were planted in my head by the evil WIC!)
We also seriously considered having the ceremony and reception at our house. If we had done that and had a potluck reception we probably could have pulled off a $1000 wedding. We ended up nixing the home wedding plan for two reasons.
The first is that we decided that either we had to have a small, intimate ceremony, or we had to invite everyone. We both have big families, and we both have many friends. There would not have been room for everyone in our backyard or our living room.
The second is that Will wouldn't have been able to relax if we had a home wedding. He would have been freaking out about wanting everything to be perfect and nice and clean, and the weeks leading up to the wedding would have been super stressful for both of us. It didn't seem worth it.
When we decided to invite everyone, we also decided to try to avoid the #1 complaint that I heard from people after they got married: that the whole thing went by too quickly and they never got to spend enough time with the guests at their wedding.
So we got the brilliant idea of hosting a party that lasted all weekend.
Which brings me to the point of this post...
The thing that really and truly killed the $1000 budget was the scavenger hunt. Yes, you read that right. Kickball wasn't enough, we had to throw a scavenger hunt in the mix, too.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Everyone worked really hard for a couple of hours, figuring out exactly how to set up chairs for the ceremony, hanging lights, putting together the flower arch, moving tables, rolling up rugs to create a dance floor, and trying to set up the photobooth.
When it was time for the rehearsal, the peeps who weren't participating in the ceremony kept setting up, while the rest of us went out back to practice.
In Colorado you can solemnize your own marriage, so we didn't have to have an officiant, and I was willing to contemplate just doing our own ceremony, but Will thought it would be too weird. Lynn is the minister at the church we usually go to (which is where we got married -- subject for a whole 'nother post), and she's also my parents' next door neighbor. Once we decided to have an officiant, we never considered having anyone but her perform our ceremony. Lynn was around when I was going through the hellish drama of custody battles and the draining everyday life of single parenting, and she's watched my boys grow up since infancy. Even so, I was surprised at how emotional she was both at the rehearsal and the ceremony. I think you can tell from this picture how much she really loves us!
When we were planning the ceremony, Will and I talked about wanting to make people laugh and cry at our wedding. Laugh because we are always cracking each other up, and cry because our love for one another is so deeply felt. Even though we just ran through the blocking and didn't actually say any of the words, we met that goal at the rehearsal!
We felt really strongly that we didn't want an "in" crowd at our wedding, with some people invited to participate in things that others weren't. So instead of having a traditional rehearsal dinner, we invited all of our guests to our rehearsal dinner. In order to make it affordable, we had a potluck barbecue.
In order to make it manageable, in addition to the set-up crew at the church, I had delegated a couple of families to set up for the barbecue. So while we were wrapping up at the church, they were already hard at work at the park, firing up the grill, welcoming people and setting out food and tableware.
I'm so glad that they were willing to help. It kept me from completely stressing out when we ran way overtime at the church, and it also meant that I got to shower and change clothes before dinner. If you look at the rehearsal pics above, you'll see that this was more of a necessity than a luxury. Sweat, yoga pants, uncombed hair, and race t-shirt don't really scream "bride!" And that moment, when we rushed home and I rushed in and out of the shower and put on cute clothes for the bbq, was when it first started to sink in that I was a bride...the omg-I'm-getting-married-in-just-over-24-hours-! feeling.
In order to make our wedding weekend totally kick-ass, this wasn't just a barbecue, either. There were about 70 people at this kickoff event, and the highlight was a rousing game of kickball. (Get it? Kick-ass?! Kickoff?! You know, kickball, kickoff, kickass? Get it? Ha ha!) It's hard to tell from these pics, but between 40 and 50 people (kids and adults) played. It was so much fun that I think kickball should become a new wedding tradition.
In fact, it was so much fun that the ball broke in half! Oops! Game over...
I'm discovering that it's hard for me to write about the wedding weekend without getting sappy. As I looked around the park, and saw all of the people who chose to celebrate with us -- eating and laughing and talking and running around and having fun -- I felt like my heart was going to burst with love. Not just love for Will, but for the family and life we're making together.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I had a spreadsheet with all of the guests, whether they were kids or adults, and which of the wedding events they were attending. Since there were 5 separate events that weekend, keeping track of this was no mean feat! (The funny thing is that I had guests call me on Thursday and Friday and say, "Which things am I coming to?" and I would go to my spreadsheet and tell them what they had RSVPed for.)
I also had a "Wedding Plan" spreadsheet where I kept track of everything that had to be done between the time guests arrived on Wednesday night and the time we left for our honeymoon on Monday morning. This included the boring stuff like dropping the dog off at the kennel and loading the used dishes and wine glasses into the rental cases, as well as fun stuff like getting family photos taken. It had columns for the day, the time, what needed to be done, who needed to do it, and a "needed" column, for what needed to be taken. For example, this column reminded me that we needed water bottles, sunscreen, phones, and camera for the scavenger hunt.
I used the minute detail of the Wedding Plan spreadsheet to make lists for everyone who had a part to play in the weekend. Guests who were just guests didn't get one, but friends who were helping in any capacity and family members each got their own personalized list. It's true that this took a ton of time and people laughed at me for doing it (my dad even mentioned his list when he was making his toast at the reception) but I can tell you that this was probably the most important thing I did to make sure that the weekend was a success. I can say unequivocally that the few things that didn't go smoothly got screwed up when people deviated from their lists.
This personalized list thing wasn't invented by me. When my friend Erin found out that I was getting married, she emailed me a bunch of her wedding plans and the text of her ceremony. I found this immensely helpful, and the most helpful part was seeing the lists that she gave to the members of her wedding party (yeah, she's a teacher, too!) They were similar to my lists, except totally different, since her wedding was totally different from ours.
I've read a ton of wedding blogs, but I've never seen anyone write about making lists for people with a part to play, and so I'm including samples here. Just passing along Erin's fabulous idea...prolly boring if you're not planning a wedding, but invaluable if you are.
Here are a couple of representative examples...
This was my dad's list:
3:30 – Rehearsal at
5:30 – Barbeque at
He is notorious for refusing to eat anything prepared by people who aren't my mom
Play kickball if you want
SUNDAY, JUNE 7
And my sister's list:
My friend Danita's list included:
Set up chairs, set out jars, turn on twinkle lights, re-set up outdoor speakers (Justin will mostly do this), hang backdrop, check everything inside, light candles, set up food and drinks
Anyway, you get the idea.
Lists = good.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I've read about people spending $3.50 or more for just one jar, and since I wanted around 200 jars, that would have cost more than the dessert catering or the scavenger hunt. I wasn't willing to give up food or fun for mason-jar prettiness, but I wasn't willing to give up on the idea, either.
I sent an email to everyone I work with, asking them to save pasta sauce jars for me (we've got free curbside recycling here, and people are used to rinsing their glass jars and throwing them in the recycling bin, so I wasn't asking them to do anything extra except bring them to school.) I also asked our friends and in-town family to save jars for us, and they started slowly piling up.
Over the course of about a month and a half, we had collected around 100 jars. My friend Danita loaned me another 25 or 30 (it is not easy to get the wax out afterward, so I don't recommend borrowing jars for this purpose.) Then my amazing cousin Melina saw me post about jars on facebook, and she offered to ship a bunch of them from Albuquerque. I didn't think it would be worth it, until she reminded me that she works for a large national shipping company. Apparently, she collected jars from all of her friends as well, and about 40 more jars arrived the day before the wedding! Wow!
When we moved into this house, we found a bag of sand, and I decided to put a little of the sand into the bottom of each jar before putting the candles in. I had the candles made locally with soy wax. Cache la Poudre Candleworks gave me a much better deal than I found anywhere except the dollar store. Hmmm...dollar store candles made out of who-knows-what by little children or underpaid adults in China and shipped halfway around the world, or local soy candles made to my specifications by someone I know...no contest!
It was still light out during the ceremony, but as it got darker and darker the candles got more and more dramatic. I came outside to cool off for a few minutes during the reception, and the yard seemed so magical it literally took my breath away. I almost wish that we'd planned to have the whole reception outside, not just the ceremony (though some people did hang out outside, the food and music were inside.) But I guess it's just as well we didn't, since the sprinklers turned on before the party was totally over!
If we had more time, I would have wired up jars to hang from trees or from the gazebo, and if we had more money I would have bought some shepherd's hooks to hang the jars from, creating sort of a path out to the labyrinth. As it was, we planned our wedding in only three months on a pretty tight budget, so I'm glad we were able to pull off the mason jar thing at all.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.
On Friday, the tulle-covered wire got squeezed into my car, and the flowers went over to the church in the back of Will's car. The whole afternoon was devoted to decorating the church and rehearsing for the ceremony, and we were lucky enough to have a whole team of people helping out.
While I was running around being the virgo elementary-school teacher that I am (read: picky and bossy) my mom and aunt Meghan and uncle John took over the arch-making job. They spent about three hours wiring and gluing and getting the arch to look like something I wouldn't hate.
I am seriously grateful to them. This was a sucky job, and I was not up for finishing it, even if I had the time, which I didn't. And, while Karl Lagerfeld still kicked our asses in the giant paper flower arena, at least I'm not a murderer. I was actually pretty happy with the final result:
However, after the wedding, I felt like this is one of the few things I would do differently if I had to do it all over. It was definitely one of the more expensive parts of our wedding (giant pieces of paper are not cheap!) and it was definitely the least green part (paper is made of trees!) and it was by far the most time consuming part (around 100 hours total!) And it wasn't really necessary -- our ceremony would still have been special and beautiful if it had been framed by the gazebo alone instead of by the arch attached to the gazebo.
If you're thinking of doing something similar, honestly, I would encourage you to think again. It's probably not worth it.
And yet...Writing this up (and, yeah, reading my mom's comment on part two) made me realize that the stupid flower arch is an integral part of what I'll always remember about getting married. If nothing else, it proves that a lot of people love me enough to put in a lot of time doing not-fun stuff just to satisfy a crazy fantasy of mine.
Will always says that our wedding looked like a wedding in a movie -- the colors were so vivid and the whites were so bright and the weather was so perfect and everything was decorated so beautifully -- and the arch was a big part of that. It really did frame our ceremony.
So....Maybe I would do it again, even knowing what I know now.... But probably not.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
You can find flower-making pictures here, PART 1 here and and PART 3 here.
I had originally planned to use a hot glue gun to attach the flowers to a white sheet, which we could then hang as the backdrop for the ceremony. At the party, we discussed lots of different options and finally came to the conclusion that it might be better to try to attach them to chicken wire. We thought that if they were packed densely enough, the wire wouldn't show.
I had exactly a week between the last day of school and the first day of wedding festivities, so I put off assembling the backdrop until then. Then I was so busy wrapping up other loose ends that I didn't get to it until Wednesday night. My sweetie and the kids were all sleeping, but I had to wait for relatives to arrive from the airport. While I waited, I unrolled the chicken wire and cut it to the size we had planned. Sounds simple, but it wasn't, since the wire kept wanting to roll up and scratch me, and because I had to cut one long skinny piece into three shorter pieces and then wire them together to make one long wide piece. By this time, even our newly-arrived guests were in bed, but I was so excited to see how the finished product would look that I climbed up on the counter and took down all the boxes of flowers from the top of the cabinet. I began to set them out on top of the chicken wire. Then, the excitement faded. Instead of "oooooh, cool!" in my mind, I was like, "oh, crap!" You'll notice that there are no pictures of this part. That's because I was too worried to take pictures.
It looked like I had decided that chicken wire was really pretty, and it would be even prettier if I randomly scattered some white paper flower polka dots in a few spots. Those flowers that had seemed so huge and numerous and overwhelming did not even begin to cover the backdrop.
It was midnight, and I had no idea what to do, so I decided to pull a Scarlett. No, I didn't make the backdrop out of curtains. I just put it all out of the way and told myself that I would figure it out in the morning.
The next day, I had my mom come over, and I set up the whole thing all over again so that she could tell me what to do. She looked at it dubiously and said, "But there were so many flowers! How could this be all of them??" Remember, this was already Thursday, and we had to have everything ready for decorating by Friday afternoon.
We talked about making a tall skinny column or a short wide valance-like-thingy instead of a whole backdrop, but mostly just stood there and stared at it for awhile. Then my mom decided that what we really needed was tulle, to hide some of the chicken wire and make it look more...more...you know...bridey...or something. So we headed for the fabric store where we bought yards and yards of white tulle, and we called our friend Eleanor, who is a genius with making something fabulous out of nothing. Oh, and in the meantime, my friend Gayle had come by and offered to make some more roses after reading about my panic on facebook.
Eleanor left work to come help us try to figure out what the hell to do (she was also at the births of both of my children, so there is a precedent for her dropping whatever she's doing to come help me figure out what the hell to do.) Will helped us hang the gigantic, unwieldy piece of chicken wire on the biggest blank wall in our house -- it happens to be in our bedroom -- and we started experimenting with draping the tulle in various ways to cover the chicken wire, and placing the flowers in different ways to make the sparseness seem purposeful.
I hated it. Hated it. Hated it. No, really, I hated it. Everything we tried. Hated. It looked ugly and tacky and cheap and like what I would have thought was perfect for a wedding when I was five. Actually, it looked like what I would have thought was perfect for a wedding if I had ever been five and completely lacking in taste. Even the magical Eleanor, and my mom the fiber-and-paper-artist couldn't find a way to arrange it that I didn't hate. You'll notice that there are no pictures of this part. That's because I hated it too much to take pictures.
At this point, I was ready to give up on the fucking paper flowers. I was sad about it, because the flowers themselves were beautiful, and we had spent soooooo much time on them already, but I felt like there was no way we could make it work.
I had visions of people showing up at our wedding and saying, "Oh, Seppie must think that that chicken wire is really pretty, and that tulle is reallyreallyreally pretty and fancy and that white paper flower polka dots make everything superfancy and wedding-y. Seppie sure does love chicken wire and tulle!" And then they would go home and talk about what a mistake it is to DIY anything related to wedding decor.
Eleanor had to rush back to work just as Will and my sister's wife, Gina, came in to see how things were going. They tried their best to talk me out of calling off the project completely. The four of us brainstormed ideas until we finally came up with the inspiration to cut the chicken wire into an arch, instead of using it as a full backdrop. This meant that instead of a 5' x 8' solid space, we only had to cover a 1'x16' arch, cutting 24 square feet of flowers off the total we needed. That seemed more do-able, especially when I ran over to Gayle's to pick up the extra roses and found that she had made six huge ones all by herself over the course of the afternoon.
Will and I had planned all along that we would have a date on Thursday night, since that was going to be our last chance to breathe and chillax together before things really got rolling on Friday. It was great to get away, and I felt so much better after eating and having a little quiet time with my sweetie, but this meant that we didn't get back to work on the arch until after 8:00 p.m. This time, the crew consisted of me, my mom, my sister Sierra, and Gina. We all got a little slap-happy, and some of them got a little tipsy. You'll notice that there are no pictures of this part. That's to protect the parties involved.
At any rate, despite the fact that we were working our fingers to the bone, measuring and cutting wire and wrapping tulle and stitching it onto the wire and laying out flowers, we had fun. While we worked, we also created the shot list for the family formals. Nothing like multi-tasking in the final 48 hours before the wedding! We finally went to bed around 1:00am, with the arch cut, the tulle sewn on, but none of the flowers attached.
Coming soon on Party of Six: The final installment of the paper flower saga (with pictures!)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
You can find part 2 here and part 3 here.
Remember all those giant paper flowers? How they were so giant and were so many of them after my non-bridal-shower party? The deal is that I had totally loved the look of the Chanel spring fashion show when I saw this picture on folding trees:and I decided that it would be super cool to try to approximate it for a sort of backdrop at our wedding. Karl Lagerfeld designed this show, and he has some serious minions to do the dirty work, but I was doing it on a much smaller scale. I don't have minions, but I do have friends, so instead of a bridal shower, I had a flower-making party.
Before the party, I spent quite a bit of time online trying to find paper flower tutorials. It's pretty easy to find instructions for making tissue-paper flowers. It's harder to find instructions for more elegant paper flowers. These are the ones I found worthy of bookmarking but didn't actually use:
Rosie has a video tutorial for making simple-looking flowers with construction paper and other kids' craft supplies
If you're going for more of an origami look, with fewer rounded edges and less cutting, oriland is the place to go (especially once you feel the energy and magic!)
Beautiful, colorful rice paper flowers seem pretty easy to make.
This rose looks more complicated than the ones we did, but you can download the template from the same place I got my daisy template.
Here's a photograph that I found inspirational but frustrating, since there are no instructions and I couldn't find a pattern anywhere on the web.
OMgosh, these "flirty" flowers are beautiful, but they really are NOT simple, even with step by step instructions and photographs. I knew that I could never teach people how to do them in just a few minutes.
If you want to extend the paper flower idea to your cake, craftstylish can show you how.
I tried making paper roses from this flikr tutorial (look at the slide show, and it shows you step by step) but mine came out looking lame and like they were made by a kindergartner, not elegant and sophisticated like hers did.
Folding trees has a kusudama tutorial to make a pretty flower ball. I actually think it would have been fun to make these huge and use them instead of poufs or paper lanterns, but it would take way longer.
The author of this tutorial calls them butterfly kusudama, but I think these just look like daffodils. I didn't try them, but they look much harder than the kusudama in the link above.
I made a prototype of this one from Martha Stewart before the party. I didn't think it was realistic enough to fit in with the others on the backdrop, but I thought about making some to hang in the reception hall, along with the poufs.
I also thought about making some paper bouquets from a tutorial I found at diy wedding on craftstylish:
In the end, the backdrop flowers and poufs were all we could handle -- no time for extras!
A friend of my mom sent us one giant magnolia, plus a kit with pattern and paper for another. We used that pattern to make the rest of the magnolias.
Counting me, I think there were 14 of us working on the flowers. A few people stayed for just a little while, and a few stayed for several hours, but it probably averaged out to 14 crafty women working for 2-3 hours each. You may remember that I was so excited at the results -- it seemed like my whole house was taken over by giant paper flowers.
Coming up on Party of Six...Assembling the backdrop.