Monday, August 29, 2011

Pickin' the Men

FI has a great group of friends that he has been close with since high school.  They all went to different schools throughout the country, but stayed in touch during breaks, summers, and even during the school year, participating in many fantasy sports leagues.  Some even flew or drove to each other's colleges to see each other and hang out for the weekend.  They have been great for me to get to know, and they've even let me in on some of the fantasy sports leagues.  I know - that's big!

After being in BM A's (you'll meet her later) wedding just after our engagement, FI and I decided that we wanted a small bridal party.  BM A and her husband had nine people per side in the bridal party, and her first advice to me after I got engaged was to have a small bridal party. She said the more girls you have, the more drama, and more complex everything gets.  My number one reason for having a small bridal party was that I don't have very many friends.

So, since we decided to have a small bridal party, choosing the guys was difficult for FI in terms of his friends.  FI has a lot of very important people in his life, and while it is traditional for the groom to choose his friends as part of the bridal party, FI went the other route.  FI chose his dad to be his Best Man, and his Cousin to be his GM.

While I love all of FI's friends, and I know that he does too, I think that this is the perfect fit, and while it's not expected, it really is true.  FFIL really is the man that FI goes to the most, and he really looks up to his dad.

So, please meet FFIL & GM Cousin!

FFIL/Best Man / Personal Picture

GM Cousin / Personal Picture

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feed me, Seymour!

Last week, I began contacting catering companies. Since we have officially chosen the venue (Roger Williams Botanical Center), I can now contact catering companies with about their ability to serve at our reception site.

There are quite a few caterers in this small state, so there are many different vendors to choose from.  FI and I knew that we wanted our wedding to be about the experience for our guests - between the venue and the food, we thought we could really make this special for them.  Because of that, we knew that we wanted a higher end catering company, and that really narrowed down the list for us.  One last thing we knew we wanted was a traditional New England feel for the food.  While FI and I are not partaking in a lot of the typical wedding traditions, we knew we wanted traditional New England style food, especially since many of our guests are out-of-town, and some have never been to this area.

Eventually, I send emails to three catering companies, and as it turns out, one of them never returned my email, so we removed them from consideration, leaving us with two.  These two catering companies were very similar.  The price points were very close, and the options for appetizers and entrees were great.  One of the catering companies put together a set of sample menus for us based on our thoughts of having a New England style meal, and it sounded delicious.  And then, they offered us customization, adding and removing individual items, and changing around the number of appetizers and entrees. After adding all the extras, this company ended up coming out only slightly higher per person than the other catering company, but has the better reputation.

We ended up signing with the best catering company in the state, Russell Morin Fine Catering.  They have won awards for the last five years on their services, and are talked about very highly in the wedding community.  We are so excited to have them be a part of our wedding day.

And here's a teaser for you of what's to be served on our wedding day. Hopefully more pictures when we do the tasting in the Spring.

Image via Russel Morin Fine Catering Blog / Rhode Island Stuffies

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Venue hunt, Part 2

FI and I met this morning with the coordinator at the second venue we chose to visit.  As soon as we walked into the venue, I got an incredible feeling. It was everything that we wanted, and while it didn't include tables and chairs, it still fell under budget, and more importantly, will cost less than a tent in a backyard.

We put a hold on our date. We are going to check things over, make sure that this is what we want, and then secure it.

But, I'll stop teasing you and show you the digs.  The venue is the Roger Williams Botanical Center at the Roger Williams Park in Providence!

Image via Google / Serendipity Photography

View of the Front Doors where I will make my entrance / Personal Picture

View from the Front Door where I will make my entrance / Personal Picture

View of the fountain where FI and I will stand and say our vows / Personal Picture

View of the reception space in an attached greenhouse / Personal Picture

This really is the perfect ceremony and reception space for us. It allows us to bring in outdoors in, and not have to worry about the weather cooperating, since the spaces are in greenhouses.

So, what do you think? Will it be perfect?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Venue hunt, Part 1

Well that was a disappointment.

FI was not pleased with the price estimate for the rentals, so we have decided to see what venues are around locally that we could get for our date, and most importantly, for a lot cheaper than renting the tent and accessories.

Living in New England is not easy.  The standard of living is higher than the middle of the country, but lower than the west coast.  But, generally, things are more expensive around here, especially during peak seasons, which our wedding date falls in.

In terms of venues, we knew we wanted to keep the outside, relaxed, casual-ish feel we originally wanted, so this immediately removed hotels and fancy-schmancy places from our potential venue list.  Others that were going to cost us over 5K were also removed from the list, leaving us with just a few places.  We looked at the websites online, and narrowed it down to two.  Yes, we limited ourselves greatly, but Rhode Island is only so big, and having lived here for 24 years, I kind of know what places I do and don't want to have our wedding at.

The first step was to call the places and see if they had our date available.  Being on a holiday weekend was playing against us, but the first place we called had it open.  So, we made an appointment, and went this morning to check it out - Kinney Bungalow.

Image via Kinney Bungalow / Seth Jacobson Photography

Kinney Bungalow was beautiful. It's a great house set on farmland, overlooking corn fields and down the street from the Narragansett Beach.  They had an outdoor ceremony space, which could double as a cocktail hour space, and all tables, chairs were included with the rental cost.  The inside had a bridal suite on the main floor, but the reception space was on the second level, which has 360 degrees of windows to enjoy the views, and a gorgeous brick fireplace that can be decorated as you wish.

Image via Kinney Bungalow / Photographer Unknown

There is a grand staircase leading straight up to the second floor, and behind that is an area for the bar to be set up and the catering to bring in the food.  However, depending on the number of guest tables needed, the dance floor could need to be separated from the dining area, because of the staircase and other rooms being in the middle of the second story.  

We really did like the space at the Kinney Bungalow.  It was gorgeous inside, and allowed for a lot of customization and decorating.  But, aside from the dance floor being separated, not creating a sense of inclusion of all our guests, it was right alongside a very busy road, and the traffic could be heard from the ceremony space, which is not ideal.

But, we still have one more place to look at, and if this next one does not pan out, I can really see us getting married here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

6K?! Scratch that!

Having confirmed with the FIL's that they would be fine with us being married on their property, I began contacting rental companies about tables, chairs, linens, and most importantly, a tent.

When I first started researching tents, I remembered seeing a post by a Bee on Weddingbee who used the frame of a tent with sheers.  And it was stunning!

While I would have loved to not worry about a tent and having something simple and gorgeous like this, there is no way to guarantee good weather on our wedding day, so we figured we should embrace the tent instead of just using it in case of a weather emergency (weathergency??).  My one requirement, was that it be a century style tent, and have no sides.

Image via Google / Stamford Tent & Event Services / Beautiful!

However, FMIL reminded me that the tent was there for weather protection, and being on the river, there is likely to be a breeze, which could bring any rain into the tent.  Sad face! This means it needs sides. But not the silly ones that look like windows. If the tent had to have sides, they were going to be clear.

Image via Google / Anchor Industries Inc

Absolutely beautiful, especially at night, when you can see all the lights from the inside (Paper lanterns! More on that later!).  So, with that, I began contacting vendors.

It took a few days for the rental places to get back to me, and I have to tell you. I was absolutely shocked at the prices.  And shocked in a not-so-good way.  All of the tent companies around here were estimating at more than 6K for everything! And I thought that we were going to be able to save some $$ by having a backyard wedding.

So, wish me luck. I'm going to break this to FI.  He will likely not be happy about this.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beautiful backyard wedding

FMIL and FFIL bought a retirement house in Rhody last year and it's on a beautiful 5 acres of horse corrals, trees, and a small river. FI and I have talked a lot about getting married on the property since it is so beautiful, and we would be able to do what we wanted to it to get it ready and decorate it as we want.  

Personal Picture / Front Yard

The yard in the back is large enough to have the ceremony with chairs setup for everyone, and we could get married with the sun setting behind the trees over the water.

Personal Picture / Back Yard at Sunset

One of the corrals on the side of the house is the perfect size to fit a large tent in, and we would even have some extra room to fit stuff along the outside if we wanted. 

Personal Picture / Ignore the kayaks. And this is a little less than half, so yes, it's huge.

So now that we have a potential venue, it's time to start planning on what work needs to be done and what equipment would need to be rented for a wedding!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Love Paper

I have known that I've wanted to make my own invites and paper products for the wedding since I came across my first wedding blog.  The blogger made her own invites and programs, and essentially everything paper, and I knew that being the bargain hunter that I am, that's what I was going to do.  Cost saving and crafty is right up my alley.  

So, I began looking for paper, and fell in love with letterpress. OMG, letterpress is gorgeous!

But the price-tag!!! Oh, the price-tag.... Since I haven't mentioned this yet, FI and I are paying for the wedding ourselves. This means that while we are comfortable splurging for some things that will make a big impact on the wedding day, there are some things that will need to be sacrificed in order to keep costs reasonable.  Unfortunately, letterpress invitations are one of those sacrifices.  I did not come to this conclusion lightly, however, as I did attempt to create my own letterpress and fail miserably.  I might tell/show you that one at some point. But it's really eh...

Back to letterpress and it not happening... Since that was now out of the question, I decided to do some research on paper that I could use to create my own invitation suite.  I searched the usual paper sites and found some beautiful papers, but I wanted something different. I didn't want a plain colored paper with some sort of pattern inked on. I wanted something with a pattern already so that it would stand out.  Then, I came upon scrapbook paper, and thought that it was interesting and could be potential wedding invite paper.

Then I saw it. The paper. The beautiful orange paper with a pattern that is perfect for our wedding.  Gorgeous 12"x12" sheets of orange leaf print paper that match our theme perfectly. 

And I ordered it. A lot of it. Too much of it, actually. Because I counted wrong. But that's alright, because it's beautiful and I can definitely find something else to make out of the extra sheets.

Any ideas on what else I can use the paper for? Wedding or Non-wedding related?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The start of planning

With our date chosen, October 6, 2012, I was finally able to start planning. Since my mom was in town for a few days more after the engagement, I decided to call up some bridal shops to see if they had any slots open for a last minute appointment. I was able to get one in for the day before my mom flew back to Georgia, which was great, because I wanted her to be there for the dress shopping, and her living so far away was going to make that difficult. I also invited FI's mom to join us, and she was delighted to. FI is an only-child, so the invite to join us made FMIL very happy because she wouldn't get any other opportunity to do this, as she doesn't have any daughters. I'm glad that our relationship is so great. Definitely no Monster-in-Law here.

So, the three of us piled into the car, and drove an hour and a half to the bridal shop. Now, if you are wondering, Rhody has quite a few bridal shops for being such a small state, however, I have had my eye on gowns by specific designers for a few years now, and the closest place to us that carried that designer was in Connecticut, so we took the plunge and drove over.

Having blog-stalked and designer-stalked for a few years now, I knew the general style and details that I did and did not want. I loved some beading, but did not want the traditional "Church dress beading," as I called it. I also did not want pick-ups, no halter tops, no lace, no satin or other shiny fabric, and not heavy. Aside from those not-so-minor requirements, I also wasn't so sure I was comfortable with strapless, so I was also looking for non-strapless options.

The first thing I decided was to try on different dress styles to figure out what looked best and was the most comfortable. I tried on probably fifteen dresses that day, but the unfortunate thing was that the salon did not allow pictures until you chose a dress. I was able to sneak a few with terrible lighting though, and I'm not afraid to break the rules every now and then (when they don't hurt anyone; that's important to mention).

I tried on a trumpet style dress with a lot of detailing on the bottom and decided that while I loved the way the dress looked, I wasn't all that keen on how it looked on me. I tried on a v-neck dress and really liked that shape on the bust, but then I tried on a ball gown.

This dress was gorgeous! It was strapless, and while I wasn't really that comfortable with the way my shoulders looked, it didn't give me the armpit-boob-fat that I thought it would. That's when I started reconsidering strapless dresses.

Personal Picture / Kenneth Pool "Amour"
Please ignore the face - was trying to get a picture before the consultant returned!

Now while this dress was gorgeous, it wasn't really fitting for a outside/backyard tent wedding, so while I liked the shape and the tulle made it very light, it wasn't the one.

The next one I tried on was more A-line and had some nice detailing that made it a little different than some of the other dresses.  

Personal Picture / Watters "Lasara"

I really liked the weight of this one a lot and I think it's a beautiful dress, but this still wasn't the one.

The last one I tried was another A-line, very simple, and by one of my favorite wedding dress designers.  It was light and airy, fell nicely, and it came in white - which was another requirement I had.

Personal Picture / Jim Hjelm Blush 1103

This one was the favorite of the day, however, with this being my first appointment, I did not want to commit.  So, we wrote down the style number and price thanked the salon and consultant, and drove back to Rhody. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Setting the Date

Well, if you know me at all, you know I am a very organized person. Sometimes, I'm borderline OCD with organization. I'm also a huge planner, which is both a good and a bad thing when it comes to planning our wedding.

If you aren't familiar with OneNote, it's a piece of software that comes with Microsoft Office that is essentially a digital notebook. It lets you clip pictures, files, audio, and text into a notebook that you can add sections to. And if you're like me, and super organized, this is very helpful for multiple aspects of life, one of which being wedding planning.

I have had a OneNote file for our wedding that I have been working on for four years. Yes, four. And no, it was not a secret from FI. We would talk about things, hypothetically, even though we both knew we were going to get married, and then I would make notes and clip pictures to different pages in this notebook.

So, the first page of this notebook had three different calendar's on it. A while back, we had been asked by my aunt and uncle if we were thinking about getting married, and we told them yes, and that it would be in AN October. FI and I have always loved the Fall. It's both of our favorite time of year. Being from New England, we wanted to get married here, and where better than the state we met? So, since Rhode Island gets the best and the worst of all the seasons, we knew that the Fall could mean really hot, or really cold, but this was the season with the best chance of the weather being great, which was important for our outdoor/backyard wedding. Plus, FI has AWFUL allergies which are the worst in the Spring, so that was really out of the question.

So, the night we got engaged, we had dinner with my godfather and his husband, and even though they knew we had just gotten engaged a few hours prior, they still asked if we had a date in mind. Surprisingly, FI said, "No, but let's choose one now!" I was SHOCKED! SHOCKED! I mean, FI is always the decider (I am SO bad at making decisions that involve other people. You'll see this come up more in planning, I'm sure.), but I really wasn't expecting him to want to choose a date this early. But, I pulled out my phone, launched my Google Calendar, and eliminated this October because three months was not enough time to plan, although it was very tempting. So we looked at October 2012, and decided that since we are going to have so many out-of-town guests, we would choose Columbus Day Weekend. So, just like that, we had a date: October 6, 2012.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wanna take a walk?

The second part of our engagement story. You can catch the first part here.

Where I last left you, I was contemplating talking with FI about the timeline of getting engaged and married.

The drive to Rhody took way longer than expected, and we decided to unpack the moving truck the next day, as we were all exhausted. So, we chilled out for a bit, and then I noticed that both FI and his mom were missing. But, I really just thought that it was that she needed help with something, so I didn't think anything of it. That night, we all hit the sack for an actual night's rest in a bed, since we drove through the night on our moving trip.

While we were unpacking the next day, I kept replaying the conversations that I had with FI and with my mom about this whole getting engaged thing. I came to the conclusion that I would talk with FI after everyone went to bed that night, and just let him know that I understood that it was his decision but that I didn't understand why it couldn't be sooner than later. After successfully unpacking, everyone got cleaned up and ready for that night's dinner with my godfather and his husband, which we had planned for a few weeks since my mom was going to be in town.

While we were waiting for my mom and FI's parents to get ready, FI asked if I wanted to go watch our first sunset at the house down by the river. So, we took a walk down the path in the woods to the water to watch the sunset.

We were both so excited to be back in Rhody, and I apparently wouldn't stop moving around - not cooperating at all with FI's plan. FI finally got me to stand still and look away from him, telling me to look at a (nonexistent) boat across the way. When I turned back around, FI was on one knee with the ring in hand. Then he said "Will you marry me?"

I was absolutely shocked! I cried! I hugged him! I asked him if he was serious, and then I said, "Yes!" FI took the ring out of the box and placed it on my finger. We hugged again, cried some more, and spent a few minutes down by the water before going up to the house to share the news with our parents and call and text our family and friends.

My Mom, FI, and me approx. 20 minutes post-proposal / Personal Picture

FMIL, FI, me, and FFIL approx. 20 minutes post-proposal / Personal Picture

So, I didn't end up having to talk with FI after all, and when we had that conversation a few weeks ago about getting engaged and married, he had just ordered my engagement ring! He was apparently freaking out inside, thinking that I had somehow found out that he had ordered the ring! What a sneak, trying to fool me....

Engagement Ring / Personal Picture *Please ignore FI's foot....

Engagement Ring / Personal Picture

Friday, August 5, 2011

We need to talk

This is the first part of our engagement story. It's long. I'm sorry.

Before college graduation, FI had told me that we would likely get engaged after he graduated college, since he is a year younger than I. When that Spring came, I started making hints about getting engaged, but with FI's decision to go to grad school full time, we both knew that the time wasn't right yet, financially.

So, FI and I moved to Indiana for two years while he was getting his masters degree. After his graduation, I started approaching the subject again, dropping a few hints, and telling him about other friends' engagements, hoping to ignite some fire under his butt.

When FI and I decided that we were going to move back to RI after he finished grad school, my mom insisted on flying out to help us make the drive halfway across the country. My parents live in Georgia, so this was very very generous of her to do, especially since it wasn't necessarily going to be a relaxing trip. But it didn't matter to her because it gave her an opportunity to see me, which now that we were living 1000 miles apart, was very infrequently.

Mom and I drove my car with the two cats in the backseat from Indiana to Rhody. Spending 15+ hours together in the car, we talked a lot, and one of our conversations was about getting engaged and married. I told her about a conversation I had with FI a few weeks prior about this subject, and FI had told me that he could see us getting engaged in the two years, but not married until after that. It tore my heart to pieces, thinking that the engagement was still so far down the line, but I accepted it, and just told myself that he's not ready. I stopped the conversation so as not to lose my cool, and just figured that I had a ways to wait.

My mom, being the rational person, told me that if I felt different, I needed to have a talk with FI and tell him that I was ready to get engaged and married and that while it was his decision about when he was going to propose, I really didn't think that waiting two years was necessary and realistic. So, I agreed, and began contemplating when and how to have this conversation with FI.

But, since this is getting so long, I'll end this part here, and you can look out for the next part. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Story from the start

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...

Well, since you likely know nothing about FI and I, I figured I should start where we met. A lot has happened in our relationship in the last 5.5 years, so I won't go into ALL the details, but I also won't leave out the important stuff.

FI is six months younger than me (yeah, I'm a cradle what?) but that actually translates to one school year.  He was a freshman and I was a sophomore in college, and we met on the concert choir's tour of New Hampshire and New York in January of 2006.  Even though we had both been in the same choir for a semester in the Fall, neither of us initiated any conversation.

During the trip we were formally introduced to each other by my close friend, who is my only BM, at a party in the hotel.  Doing what college students do, libations were flowing and games ensued.  A tournament soon followed, and we partnered up for the festivities. FI and I dominated since half the team was sober (me...not a huge drinker).  After kicking some serious choir butt, FI walked me across the hall that night to my room, and said goodnight.

The next and last night of the trip, the tournament resumed, and we resumed our domination, winning all our games again.  After the party ended, we sat in the hallway all night, getting to know each other better, and losing track of time, we didn't make it to bed until 7am. Oh, and we needed to be on the bus by 8:30am, by the way. Yeah, good plan...I know.
We sat with each other on the bus ride home from New York, and aside from the short stop for lunch, I slept with my head on FI's shoulder the whole time. We parted ways when the bus arrived back on campus, not even thinking about exchanging contact info.

Thank goodness for Facebook, because that night, FI messaged me, asking if he could come over. FI met my roommates, and hung out for a bit, but the next day was the first day of classes for the semester, so thinking that we were going to focus on classes, FI invited me to a party on Friday night at a mutual friend's apartment. Despite being a total party-pooper, I said that I would go.

That Friday night, January 20, 2006, we matched up yet again in another tournament with our choir friends. Unfortunately, our winning streak did not continue, and we lost after the third game. Despite losing, FI considered me to be a pretty impressive player, and decided he wanted me to be his girlfriend. 

And so that was the start of our relationship.  That semester was pretty rough though. Because that whole focusing on classes thing I mentioned above? Yeah, that REALLY didn't work out that Spring. But don't worry, we got better at school. I promise.

Monday, August 1, 2011

He FINALLY Put a Ring on it!

After first mentioning marriage a few months into our relationship, he FINALLY put a ring on it! We are officially engaged, after 5.5 years together. We are so excited to take this big step.

Welcome to our world of planning! I hope you're up for the journey!

Personal Picture
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