Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jamaican Locations, Part Un

Beware: Lots of pictures ahead!

Ted and I decided that we weren't comfortable with booking our wedding sight unseen. So we decided to take a trip to do "research" (natch). As I've said before, we spent hours, days, weeks worth of online research to narrow down our choices. Our four options included a small resort in Montego Bay, renting private villas in Discovery Bay, the place where my mom & Pete were married in Ocho Rios, and a less expensive, small "resort" in Negril. I’ll start with our first two.

We chanced a trip during Hurricane season, but other than one, albeit short, downfall, we were pretty lucky. Our first stop was in Montego Bay at the Coyaba Resort. We were immediately impressed, as we were greeted with a cool towel and a rum punch upon check-in! The perfect start to a Jamaican vacation - I mean RESEARCH trip. After dropping off our bags in our gorgeous suite, we met with one of the wedding managers. He was great! We went on a tour of the grounds & loved it. I have no desire to get married on the beach, and Coyaba has a wedding lawn that overlooks the water. This resort is great because it only has 50 rooms in 3 buildings. They are all close to each other and we wouldn't have to run around to hunt someone down. The grounds, on the other hand, are huge! Beautiful gardens, restaurants, beach, etc. The staff are also extremely friendly and remember your name - a very nice touch.

Look familiar? One of our Save the Date ideas!

After a hard hour of research, we relaxed for the rest of the day :)

The next morning, we rented a car and drove to Ocho Rios via Discovery Bay. I don't know which driving experience frightened me more - Jamaica or Italy. Jamaica was much more difficult, as they drive on the "wrong" side of the road & everything inside the car is switched around. I don't know how many times we needed to make a turn and the wipers would furiously squeak across the windshield. We also somehow managed to get pulled over for speeding - in a country where these drivers are INSANE. Luckily, no ticket.

We looked at 8 villas that day day. These homes were STUNNING. I initially loved the idea, having just been to a wedding (bridesmaid C) where we all stayed in enormous, gorgeous homes. It was great waking up in the morning, having coffee with everyone, gathering in the kitchen and living area, etc. Two of the places that we toured were also right next door to each other and had a door in the shared fence. These places are fully staffed with housekeepers, chefs, butlers, drivers, you name it – everything you could ever want, they could deliver. Obviously, such luxuries come with luxurious prices. But, it’s the only time we’re getting married and we want to be pampered and have our guests pampered too!

Wouldn't this lawn look gorgeous set up with tables, lanterns, family, friends?

The other villas (shacks) really weren’t our…style. Much, much cheaper, though. Seeing these validated our “research” trip, in our opinion, because had we booked these online and just showed up for the wedding with all of our guests, I would have been devastated, mortified, embarrassed, mad, etc.

She may look pretty, but trust me, she ain't. Paint and a pool go a long way for internet photos.

Up next: our last options and our final choice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chosing Jamaica

As you all know by now, we are getting married in Jamaica. Ted has been married before and has already done the traditional wedding thing & has always said he wouldn’t do it again. Once we talked about it & he realized that getting married in Chicago was important to me, he tentatively came around. I had zero desire for a destination beach wedding. I'm from Ohio, but have never wanted to get married there. We researched several options in Chicago (too expensive), Paris (I am a francophile & studied there in college, but too far & expensive for our guests!) and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin, you ask? Our friend and Best Man, R, graciously offered us his gorgeous lake house in East Troy, WI on Lake Beulah (near Lake Geneva).

It has a gorgeous lawn right on the lake (this picture is from pre-landscaping construction!)

Here I am on the dock. I wish it weren't so close - the lawn is behind me.

If we didn’t have to worry about transportation and drinking, rentals, rain, etc. it would be perfect for us. The house really means a lot to quite a few of us, as we typically spend many a lazy weekend there with friends and family. I knew I would be a ball of stress worrying about the logistics of everything, and frankly, I just didn’t want to deal with it.

We scouted a few beautiful Chicago reception locations, as I had always wanted to get married in my church – St. Clement in Lincoln Park. Ted is an alumni of University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, so we looked at a few sites there. (Considering that I bought my dress 14 minutes after we were engaged, my flowy, casual dress just wouldn't "fit" with these large cathedrals.) We also thought of having it at one of our favorite little neighborhood Italian restaurants, Piatinni, which turned out to be a little too pricey for just the reception.

Photo by Kardas Photography

The breathtaking Rockefeller Chapel

After all of this, I then brought up the idea of getting married in Jamaica. My mom and step-dad were married there two years ago, as well as my childhood best friend (through college roomies!). Interestingly enough, Ted was now on board for a Chicago affair & the destination wedding that he originally insisted on was now on the back burner. After crunching numbers and evaluating the stress-potential, we decided to look at Jamaica. We spent COUNTLESS hours scouring Jamaican websites & once Jamaica became the front runner, we booked a “research” trip for October.

My step-dad (Pete), Mom, me & Ted - Jamaica, April, 2006

I’ll post the results of our trip next!

Did you end up doing a 180 from your original idea for your wedding?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Did "Office Space" teach me nothing?

After FINALLY getting everything formatted correctly (I’m talking to you, Microsoft Word!), I came into work early to print off our Luggage Tag Save the Dates, incognito. Yeah…not so incognito when you a) can’t get the printer to grab from the Bypass tray for heavy stock b) decide to put the heavy stock in the regular drawer c) print off a test sheet successfully and then d) send all of them to the printer only to have them all jam up. In 4 different places.

Did I mention that I printed these on business card paper? So yes, every time I pulled on one of the jammed sheets, it would rip down the perforation. I had to perform minor surgery on the good ol’ Canon Q1 to get everything out. The last thing I wanted was for our IT guy to show up with “Kristin & Theodore” monograms shooting out of the printer.

Because I felt the need to be a masochist this morning, after the surgery I proceeded to try it again, this time one by one. With success, I might add!

Because I also feel the need to take projects one step further & therefore creating more work, I decided that a simple plastic strap would not do! I had the idea to loop ribbon (in coordinating wedding colors, of course) through the slot and just include the plastic strap in the bottom of the envelope in case anyone wanted to actually USE the luggage tag (& I secretly hope they do! I have this vision of suitcases lined up in the hotel lobby with our lovely tags on them…anyway…).

Incorporating my love of all things preppy, I found navy blue grosgrain ribbon with white saddle stitching (sound familiar?!) for this project. THEN I decided that I wanted bright pink as well, and found that in a smaller width to loop through with the navy.


THANK YOU bridesmaid A and dear friend L for joining the assembly line!

LOVE our whimsical monogram!

We set up the back to look like a "real" luggage tag, then modified to include the necessary details.

Packaging details:

I ordered small, navy metallic envelopes & DIY’ed the wrap-around labels (a post on this later!). The completed package required a 59 cent stamp which, apparently, a lot of post offices don’t have in stock. Keep this in mind. We thought about using Zazzle to make our own, but my antsy-ness trumped perfectionist & we went with this ridiculous cartoon man.

Hey, at least he’s wearing a lei, right? It’s tropical!

Back of envelope & label - also shows the envelope color much better!

I love our Save the Dates. Sure, they took a lot more time than I thought they would, but they were a labor of love & I couldn’t be happier with them!

I know I’m not the only one out there with printer &/or the demon that is Microsoft Word issues – right?

Friday, November 21, 2008

my dress :)

Obviously, this post isn't for WB! I "hid" it in the Nov. 2008 archives so Ted doesn't accidentally stumble upon it :)

Here are pics of my dress, all pinned up and ready to sew! It's going to bustle in 3 places & I love the way it drapes..almost Grecian column-like.

love the back :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Luggage Tag Save the Date

While browsing a few random wedding sites, I came across the idea of using luggage tags for OOT bags. I LOVED this idea, and as we are putting “goody bags” in each hotel room, it seemed perfect. Then I had an even better idea & decided to use them as our Save the Dates. I had been working with a designer from for a monogram design & decided to have her make a couple of them - one that is more whimsical/tropical (STD) and one that is more preppy (invitation). We put the monogram on one side and the wedding information on the other side, set up to look like a luggage tag:

I wanted the tag to be clear on both sides & sturdy. I was having trouble finding one that wasn’t just a laminated business card or in a bulk lot of 500. Business card size was fine (trust me – DO THIS. & buy blank perforated business cards. It will save you hours of cutting), but I needed them to be cheap, but not LOOK cheap.


These were the cheapest tags that I could find that sold in lower quantities. Sure, we didn’t need 100 of them, but we ended up using at least half of them. If I don’t find another use for them, I plan on selling them on ebay or Weddingbee classifieds. The one drawback is that you have to buy the strap separately. Back in the day, I was an ebay queen & I found them for dirt cheap.

My next (& final on this subject. What? It was my first DIY wedding project - cut me some slack!) post will show the final steps and the completed tags.

Did you spend A LOT more time and effort on a DIY project than you had originally anticipated? Is this more of a rule than an exception when it comes to wedding projects?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3 very important -ing's: Enjoying Wedding Planning

Sounds like a no-brainer for excited brides to be, right? Well, maybe not…
A little background on me – I work full time in the Chicago architecture and design world. I go to school part-time. I hold myself to exceptionally high standards when it comes to work/homework/etc. I have a finace and 2 soon-to-be stepchildren. I.E. I HAVE NO FREE TIME.

The majority of my time spent outside of work and classes is spent doing things for work and class. And I have to get A’s on everything or I beat myself up. This recipe does not bode well for the wedding planning ingredient.

Talking to my mom a couple of months ago, I was stressing about not having time to get homework done with trips to Jamaica planned (I know, cry me a river), Save the Dates to design and distribute, dress shopping, etc., etc., etc. As only a mom could do, she gently suggested that I consider taking off next semester from classes so that I could actually ENJOY planning my wedding. Knowing me, it would wind up being a burden on my already too-full schedule. (Did I mention that I planned our wedding for the weekend after finals? What? Yes. Crazy.) Anyway, she said to run it by Ted to see what he thought & he promptly added “I agree”. I have no desire to be a martyr and fully admit that I could not do it all.

I can't WAIT to have almost 5 months off from classes. I swear, it is the only thing getting me through this semester. It ends in one week & will be madness leading up to the minute I walk through the door on Tuesday night. Then I can spend my free time with 4 -ings: enjoying wedding planning & BLOGGING!

What I should be doing:

Quite like an inspiration board, no?

Don't get me wrong, I love what I am doing above, but this is what I WANT to be doing:

I'd rather be playing with these types of inspiration boards, but alas, a bride-to-be must also work :)

Does anyone else feel like wedding planning is a burden? What did you or are you planning to do to alleviate it?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My So-Called Preppy Wedding

Tropical location or not, I will do everything in my power to have preppiness incorporated into as many aspects of the wedding that I can. One place where this was easy to do was the bridesmaids dresses. You see, I love seersucker. Love it. However, the quest for seersucker bridesmaid dresses isn’t easy or cheap. The one site I found them on was ridiculously expensive (for COTTON, people!) & not exactly the style I was envisioning.

I wasn’t crazy about the striped fabric for the wedding.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted navy blue dresses for my girls. Perfectly preppy, crisp, and it is one of my favorite colors. The search for “Navy Seersucker Dresses” took me to good ol’ & that’s when I found the perfect dress:

& at $39 bucks, you can’t beat it!

Check out that saddle stitch grosgrain ribbon! Love it, love it.

Even though I had only been engaged for a month, I sent the link out to all of my girls & they all bought it within 2 days (thanks for being timely!).

Did you find your bridesmaid dresses at an unexpected, yet ultimately perfect, location?

Monday, November 17, 2008

So many STD options…

Since we are having a destination wedding, I initially thought it would be pointless to send Save the Dates. Why not just send the invitation with all of the information so that everyone could get their trip booked? Ted actually stepped in and said that we “have to send Save the Dates. The invitations can’t go out until February”. Okay, I thought – he wants to do STD’s, we will do STD’s!

Then I and my indecisive brain took over and I couldn’t. decide. on. ANYTHING! Panic set in when I realized that this was only Step 1 of wedding planning & if I couldn’t make up my mind on these, what could I make my mind up on? Wouldn’t this set the tone for the entire wedding? I did some googling around and decided that if other couples can have fun with their STD’s (ha), than so can we!

I initially liked the idea of sending a postcard. After playing around with pictures on Photoshop that we took on our “research” trip, I came up with a black and white burnished picture of the beach (v. cool, in my opinion):

and a Pop Art poster of Ted and I (that I can no longer find since Flickr has changed their photo editing software! Grr to you Picnik!).

We took a quick picture using iPhotoBooth as an example.

I liked both of them, but I couldn’t help but think that there was something more fun and unique that we could do.

Stay tuned for our final Save the Date choice!

What about you – did you play around with multiple formats/layouts until you found “the one”?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My dress is here!

A tattered little purple postcard informed me that my dress is ready! I cannot wait to see it & try it on again. I have decided that I will NOT be using the same shop for alterations (more on that later), so will need to take my dress with me. My amazing bridesmaid, C, has not only offered to store it at her house for me, but she is also going with me to the shop on Saturday to try it on! I'll need her support should my dress not fit (please God, no!) & also act as my backbone in turning down alterations that I am convinced they are going to force on me.

I'll post more on our dress shopping experiences later...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How we met

Ted and I met at a party of a mutual friend in October of 2003. I wish I could say that it was love at first sight, however, this story does not begin that way. The truth is, neither one of us remember meeting each other.

Photographic evidence & evite responses proves the contrary, but needless to say, there were no fireworks shooting off in the distance (well, there might have been, but only because the Cubs finally made it to the Playoffs). We then met again at the same friends holiday party 2 months later. Again, it’s all a bit foggy. However, the following spring & summer we kept running into each other at various places around the city – Cubs games, bars after Cubs games (do you notice a pattern here?), SushiSamba, etc.

We finally had a real (read: one that we remember) conversation one summer night while Ted was on a bad date & I was with my (now ex, obviously) boyfriend. He decided that he wasn’t going to get swindled into paying the bill for his Date and all of her friends & left with us. Just to let you know, I am already 6’ tall and have no problem wearing heels to make me even taller. At the next place, Ted said to me “the only reason tall girls wear heels is to intimidate men”. Great pick-up line, no? We chatted more and I gave him my card (it must have worked). Granted, I was still dating someone at the time, but it was on its last legs.

We proceeded to email and meet for lunch over the following weeks. Once I decided to end it with the (ex)boyfriend, I sent Ted a text message, we went out the next night and the rest, as they say, is history.

*Cue fireworks*

We be bloggin', we be bloggin!

Okay, bad pun on Club Nouveau's earworm, but I just want to say how EXCITED I am to finally be blogging about our wedding planning experiences.

I started a blog awhile back that chronicled our trip across Italy, but as you can see, after we lost internet service in the hills of Tuscany, I "forgot" all of my witty descriptions that I had planned on writing.

Well, I am back & can't wait to start posting. Planning the wedding, thus far, has been pretty smooth. Granted, we aren't too far into it, but I look forward to DIY'ing my little heart out (or as much as a suitcase to Jamaica will hold).