Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Recipe for Disaster

Step One: Add in a healthy heaping (138, to be exact) of Trailmix's lovely, hand-cut, far-too-time-consuming directions insert for the invitation suite.

Step 2: Insert direction slip into invitation envelope, only to find that said slip is too long.

Step Three.  Turn the insert around and repeat Step Two.

Combine all three of these steps to equal one angry-faced Trailmix.

MOTHER F-------!!!!!!!!!

Tell me you've done something bone-headed like this, so I know I'm not alone... Please? Before I actually start tearing out my hair and mumbling to myself like a crazy person.  I'll check back in with y'all later because right now, I have to go to Staples for more (smaller) copies of the directions...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I'm Back...

Maybe you noticed I wasn't around much last week (or maybe you didn't.  That's cool too.)  That's because I've been travelling out in California with the Trailmix family visiting lil bro TM, who's stationed out in the rural Central Valley in California for part of his Americorps volunteer program.

As fascinating as my family vacation may be to all of you, that's not what I'm writing about.  Rather, it's about the perspective I've been able to gain while being on this vacation.  Truth be told, I've done nary a lick o' wedding planning throughout the trip.  No emails to our photographer regarding the requested day-of timeline, no honeymoon hotel booking (which, dear God, needs to get done ASAP!) no contacting the gourmet chocolate shop I'm thinking of using for our favors, part deux (I know two favors is excessive but the first ones don't really count.)  I even stopped reading wedding blogs, although I couldn't quite quit Weddingbee (but no reading the rest of 'em, fo' realz!)

I can't stress enough how helpful this wedding planning hiatus was for my mental health.  I've actually been able to sleep past 5:30 am without waking up in a panic about some latent detail and my life has not been ruled by wedding emails and to-do's.  I think the best cure for a case of wedding-planning burnout is to just get away, even if it's only for a weekend.  Gather a few belongings, grab your fiance and go somewhere, just to relax and think about other things than your wedding.  Trust me, it does a body good.

And if you really need proof that travelling can give you a new perspective, check out this picture below:

(Personal Photo)

That's Brother Trail Mix and I in front of one of the largest trees in the world up in the Seqouia National Forest.  That tree has been around since 1,500 BC, making it about oh, 3,500 years old.  For some reason, just thinking about a tree being that old gives me comfort.  My wedding's just a blip in that tree's massive lifespan.  It has stood for a long time beforehand and (God willing) it will be standing for a long time after, no matter if my invitation colors match my program colors or the food is only mediocre at my wedding or if it pours cats and dogs on the big day.  Ya see where I'm going with this? It's convoluted, for sure, but it makes me breathe a happy sigh and lets that wedding stress melt away. 

What has helped to give you a better perspective when it comes to wedding stress?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Engage-aversary!

Before I talk about the really fun and awesome night Mr Trail Mix surprised me with for our engage-aversary, I have to reveal our dirty little secret...Neither one of us can remember the actual date of the proposal! *blush.  He thought it was one of two dates while I thought it was a completely different date.  So for anyone out there reading this, I highly recommend making a note somewhere of the damn date you got engaged!

Anyways, like I mentioned before, Mr Trail Mix surprised me by planning a whole evening for us to spend together.  I walked into the apartment to flowers and an anniversary card...

He only got me one flower because I'm leaving tomorrow to go on vacation for 10 days.  How thoughtful (and cost-effective.)

The card may or may not have involved flatulence...

Flowers and fart jokes? Gee, Mr Trail Mix, guess you know me pretty well after all :)  But it didn't stop there; he had made reservations at an Italian restaurant for dinner and then splurged on two tickets to a comedy show at Caroline's, a famous NYC comedy club.  Well-played, Mr Trail Mix, well-played indeed.  We had a great night and laughed our patooties off at the show (John Mulvaney, a writer for SNL, was the headliner.  HE. LARI. YOOOS!)

I also have to say that this is not customary behavior for Mons. Mix.  For example, on our 5-year dating anniversary back in November, he suggested we go watch the Miami Dolphin's football game at Dive Bar (yes, that is the name of the bar.  We're classy like that.) When he suggested that, I laughed to myself, thinking 'What a lame cover for the real fabulous anniversary day you have planned for us, I better play along so as not to ruin the surprise,' and agreed.

Um, can you guess where this story is going? Turns out, that was his real plan.  Let's just say it weren't pretty...

So mad props, Mr TM, for going all out on our engage-aversary! To many more fun anniversary nights out in our future!

What's best thing your man's done for you on an anniversary? This one is pretty high up on my list, I'll have to admit!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I've been working a few mini-projects (btw, adding '-ita' to the end of a word to signify 'little' is my favorite Spanglish idiom :) that aren't really own-post worthy but I still wanted to share.  None are very complicated and most made using materials I already had around the house.

First, my "Thank You" sign.  I'm hoping I'll remember to actually use this at some point during the bride and groom portraits (note to self: appoint one of the bridesmaids with the task of remembering it!) since I think it will make for a very sweet thank you note picture.  This ridiculously easy project came to me via our dear Martha Stewart.  You can get several different templates of the letters here and then just print 'em, cut 'em, hole punch 'em and thread 'em with some ribbon.  Add hot glue for reinforcement and snap, crackle, pop! A thank-you sign is born...

(Personal Photo)

Next up- After-party invites. I wanted to include an insert in our wedding invitations about the after-party for the young adults attending.  I created a Word document with all the pertinent information, printed everything out on white cardstock and then matted each one with leftover program paper scraps (cardstock in Pool from Paper Source.)  Some specialty scissors finished off the look...

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)

And finally, my favorite project of the bunch...Table number assignment cards! Otherwise known as escort cards, I suppose.  Either way, I think these came out super-cute.  Remember my colorful table numbers?

Here's a reminder...

(Personal Photo)

Each table number is made from a different patterned paper.  In addition to making the numbers with these, I also used a Martha Stewart craft punch to cut out 12 scalloped circles from each paper.  I ordered blank linen cardstock business cards, some glue dots and went to town.  

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)

So each person's table assignment card will match the table number paper.  Get it?

 Not gonna lie, I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with this idea.  I'm just going to hand-write the names and table numbers with a black calligraphy pen once the seating chart is done closer to the wedding.

I'm hoping to pin them with mini-clothespins onto strung-up twine.  Here's the look I'm going for...

Mine probably won't be hung against an old wooden wall but I think they'll still look very pretty all strung up like that.  

And that's all folks.  Whooooof, I think that's enough crafting to last me for a few weeks! But I must admit, I'm starting to get excited about the way everything's coming together.  This thing is really going to happen, yo!

What project-itas are you working on? 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vintage Family Wedding Photos

I love the idea of displaying photographs of our parents' and grandparents' matrimonies at our wedding.  I think it's a really sweet way to honor the two families coming together and to give a face to those who can only be with us in spirit.

I'm in the process of tracking down the pictures from each of our grandparents' wedding day as well as both of our parents'.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to get all six but I'm going to try my hardest.  My FMIL emailed me the scanned versions of two out of the three I had requested and she is still on the hunt for the third (Mr Trail Mix's paternal grandparents' pic seems to have gone AWOL.)

Here's the two she sent me:

The top photo is Mr Trail Mix's maternal grandparents' wedding photo and the bottom is of his parents.  Look closely, notice anything similar about the two dresses? Well, they are one and the same.  FMIL Trail Mix wore her mother's dress for her wedding, how lovely (and cost-effective) is that?

I'm also particularly digging Maternal Grandmother's colossal tiara (would that be called a crown then? Whatever you call it, it's massive!)

I'm hoping, after the wedding, to take these two pictures, along with the third one that is still missing, and frame all three along with a picture of the family from the Trail Mix wedding.  A nice, symbolic way to honor the many weddings throughout the generations of the family, don't you think? And of course, I'll do the same for my family as well (although we're not sure if we can find a wedding pic of my paternal grandparents, research is still being done on that one...) I'm picturing a long, rectangular matte with all four pictures, from oldest to newest set portrait-style.

Will you be displaying family wedding photos at your wedding?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Longest Run is Done

Yesterday, in spite of gale-force winds and driving rain (I think anyone in the northeast knows what I am talking about!) I completed the longest run of my training program.  The weather was pretty much horrendous but it had to be done so I donned my best water-resistant running wear and set off with the goal of 21 miles. Two hours and forty minutes, five blisters, 16 ounces of Cytomax and many a tear later, I was finished.  And damn, I felt proud of myself, although I very closely resembled this cat afterwards...

Seriously, I was SOAKED!

Even though I didn't want to go, I forced myself to do the run anyways, for several reasons.  One, it might be similar conditions for the actual marathon so it's better to train in all weather conditions just in case.  Two, running in that kind of weather makes one mentally tough, which is another good trait to have when training for a marathon. And three, if I didn't go on that day, I would have any other time to do the run, so I pretty much had to go.

I'm not going to lie, running 21 miles pretty much sucks.  Running 21 miles in the pouring rain and crazy 30-mph wind sucks even more.'s done and now I have exactly five weeks to taper my training before the big race.  And I have to say, marathon-prep has done wonders for my body (abs o' steel, yo!) Hopefully I will continue to train after the race so I still look good for my wedding almost two months later.

It feels good to make it this far in my training, somehow (miraculously) un-injured (knock on wood, knock on wood!) and still enthusiastic about running.  I've ran, I've strength-trained, I've stretched and I've mentally prepared, so bring it on, Boston Marathon, I'm ready for ya!

Anyone else training for a race a month or two before your wedding?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

I have to admit, there have been very few pleasant surprises during this wild ride of wedding planning, particularly when it comes to the cost.  Most unexpected discoveries have been along the lines of

"Oh, crap/dangit/fudge/other stronger expletive that I'm too chicken to use on Weddingbee, that event insurance I thought cost $50 is actually $350."


"We need to rent a golf cart so our guests can use the bathroom? And that costs how much?"


"After adding up the cost of decorating my OOT bags, I realize that it was officially double what I budgeted."

So you can truly understand my delight when I received an email from our bananas-cool photog (Kelly Griffin of Closed Circle Photography) in response to my inquiry about hiring a second shooter for the day.  In the email, she said that if we decide to book the second shooter, she would include all the trimmings for a photobooth setup, include a backdrop, lights and a manned camera station!!

Excuse me while I do a little spastic happy dance...

A photobooth was one of those things I really wanted to have at our wedding but crossed it off the list way back when due to budget constraints.  I know many creative Bee's have gone the Fauxto-booth route but I am not techno-savvy enough to pull that off, nor did I have any of the equipment necessart.

But now the wedding gods are clearly smiling upon me by dropping this delightful surprise into my lap on a day where I was starting to despair that the wedding might actually be the cause of my untimely death due to my brain imploding.  But no, I have been pulled back from the deep abyss by the promise of funny, awesome photos like these:

Can I just get a hoo-rah for a photobooth?!?!? I'm so excited, I was literally smiling about this for the rest of the day.  Is that sad? On second thought, don't answer that question.  Anyways, I have officially jumped on the photo booth train and I am pumped!

Did you have any pleasant planning surprises?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

OOT Bags, Part Two: Success and a Tutorial

Alright, now that I've shared the saga of just how annoying these bags were to make, I'm happy to share how I made them and the final result!

My materials included white paper shopping bags ordered from Paper Mart, yellow grosgrain ribbon, a basic hole punch, a custom stamp worth more than it's weight in gold, the only light blue 6" stamp pad in the entire world and most of my patience and sanity.

(Personal Photo)

The giant, aqua stamp pad that I ended up using for the majority of the bags is not shown here because it had not yet arrived when I decided to give these a go...

First, I stamped. Here's a close-up of my custom stamp that was ridonky-donk over-priced (yes, I'm still bitter, can you tell?) But I do like the design and the flower matches nicely with the image on our invitations.

(Personal Photo)

Even though the majority of my stamping efforts were unsuccessful, I managed to get a picture of the one of the few that did...

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)
These two did not come out very well but I wanted to show you the light blue color too.

Then I punched two holes in the top of the bag, threaded the ribbon through and spent many minutes tying and re-tying a bow, trying to get it straight.  Tying bows is a crafting mystery to me; about half of the bows I tie come out crooked and I am forced to re-tie and re-tie until somehow, it's straight. 

As good a bow as I can manage...

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)

Hmmmm, that bow looks pretty bad, I guess I did get better after oh, about 50 or so.
Anyways, a few shots of the finished product...

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)

And that's all, folks! See, it seems simple in the tutorial but don't be fooled, there was much crying, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair to make these.  Oh well, they are quite pretty though and they will get the job done.

And as for what I'm going to put in them? Puh-leeease, I have not gotten there yet.  I'm still too busy tying and re-tying bows and using more Wite-Out to deal with that little detail. But be assured, there will nothing personalized, cute, homemade or handmade involved because at this point, I just don't have it in me to deal with the stress of another DIY project.

What's been your most stressful project thus far?

Monday, March 8, 2010

OOT Bags, Part One: Problems and Fails

In case you're not savvy with the online wedding lingo, OOT stands for Out Of Town (although I like to pronounce it in my head as 'ute' because it reminds me a children's book I used to read.)  OOT Bags are a lovely way to welcome your guest to your wedding when they check in at the hotel and usually contain snacks, water, directions and any other pertinent information.

I thought my idea was simple enough: Buy plain white paper bags, decorate each one with a custom stamp and add a ribbon bow to the top.  Nothing too crazy but I felt confident my limited DIY skills could handle this.

Ha.  That was an incorrect assumption on my part.  I could've just slapped a custom sticker on these babies and went on my merry way but no, I had to make things difficult for myself. The OOT bags have turned into an ongoing saga that rivals my table numbers. In short, I have spent far too much money, time and effort to produce something that only looks decent enough and that no one will notice.  Excuse me while I go scream into a pillow for a minute.

Here's the story: I ordered 100 white paper bags from Paper Mart for $31.00, along with 25 yards of  yellow grosgrain ribbon for $12.00.  That part I could handle.  It was the 'Welcome' stamp that through me off course.

It was partly my fault.  After contacting a few sellers on Etsy who did custom stamps and convincing one of them to lower their price (who knew custom stamps were so freakin' expensive?!?!) I finally had a seller who could create what I wanted.  However, stupid me never actually took a bag out of it's package to measure it and just guessed at the size stamp I wanted.  It was only after it was delivered that I realized how big a six-inch stamp was. A three-inch or four-inch would have served just as well and been significantly cheaper (the custom stamp from lovestocreatestamps on Etsy was $34.95 with shipping.)

The next problem arose from trying to actually use the stamp.  First off, it took me a lot of online searching to find a stamp pad that was big enough.  Like, days of online searching.  Those buggers are not easy to come by! I finally found one and ordered it but it turned out to be a navy blue, too dark for what I was really hoping for.

(Personal Photo)

Boo, not the blue I've been using in my paper-goods palette.  At first, I decided it was I was OK with having using the navy ink pad but then my OCD got the better of me and I continued my search for a stamp pad with a light blue ink. 

I tried using a smaller stamp pad and dabbing it all over but that didn't really work either.  After three different stamp pads were unsuccessful, a saleswoman at Michael's recommended the school supply online store Lakeshore Learning Materials as a possible source.  Finally, success! There, I found a huge aqua ink pad for $4.95 ($10.95 including shipping.)

But the problems didn't stop there. Even with my giant, correctly-colored stamp pad, I still couldn't get the stamp to be evenly applied to the bag. I kept having blotches like this:

(Personal Photo)

See those random shapes in the curlique of the flower and the random mark on the left? They are not supposed to be there.  Grrrr.....

I seriously tried every technique I could think of to stamp cleanly but try as I might, it was just not possible.  This is why my review of my Etsy stamp seller is not fully positive, since I don't think the stamp was made very well, hence the random blotches when I used it. Although the seller was very accommodating when we were in the process of designing the stamp, I am not very happy with the quality and I expressed my disappointment but have yet to receive a response.

So what's a resourceful, craft-challenged girl to use when her expensive, custom stamp isn't working out the way she had hoped for? Whiteout, my friends, lots and lots of whiteout.  I went through all 97 of my stamped bags and used that trusty necessity of the office to save my image from looking like, well, crap, to be honest.  It literally looked as though the wedding threw up OOT bags all over my apartment since I had to lay them all out to dry once I applied the whiteout.  

Luckily, this story does have a happy ending and I was finally able to produce some very cute OOT bags, that I will show and give a tutorial on in my next post.  Final budget came out to just under $100.  To decorate the freakin' OOT bags.  Don't even get me started on what a waste of money this project was but once I had begun, I was in it to win it, cost be damned.

Do you have a saga about some random decor detail of your wedding? Would you have guessed that finding a stamp pad big enough for a six-inch stamp would have been incredible difficult?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kick Off Your Shoes and Dance...

Man, I've been busting out the DIY projects like a woman possessed lately! I guess this is what happens as the wedding gets closer, all the crafts you've been planning on doing actually have to get done.  The benefit to my crafting bonanza is that I feel incredibly productive.  The downside is that all the wedding stuff is literally taking over our 400 square foot studio. 

(Personal Photo)

I can barely walk without stubbing my toe on a random box.  Ah, how we suffer for the sake of the love (and the wedding!)

Anyways, this minor project involves Old Navy flip flops and a hot glue gun.  Yup, I bit the bullet and ordered about 30 pairs of blue and yellow flip flops when they were on sale for $2.50/pair.  A decent price for the sandals, I'd been looking for a while online but couldn't come up with anything cheaper and I think offering guests the option of changing out of their high heels in exchange for comfy flip flops is worth the cost.

I decided on 30 pairs based on the fact that if we are expecting 175 guests, about 50% or 87,will be female.  Out of those female guests, about half are my parents generation or older, who probably would not want to wear the flip flops, bringing me down to about 45 or so guests who potentially would want to use them.  I chose to go with an under-estimate purely for cost reasons, but hopefully 30 pairs will be enough.

Once the flip flops arrived on my doorstep, (can I just give a shout-out to my UPS delivery guy? Not only are we on a first name basis since I get so many things delivered but he carries them up four flights of stairs to drop everything off at my door...Thank you, thank you, kind UPS man, for not leaving the packages on the stoop!) I needed a cute way of displaying them.

I've found that TJ Maxx is a great source for cheap baskets, I picked this one up for $8.99:

(Personal Photo)

Cute and functional, perfecto! But of course I wanted to jazz it up a bit.  I grabbed my hot glue gun and some yellow ribbon, adding a border around the outside of the basket so it looked like this:

(Personal Photo)

I then added a little sign that says "Kick off your shoes and dance the night away," which I printed out on some leftover blue card stock and bordered with white.  You know I couldn't resist throwing in a paper flower or two for decoration, so the end result looked like this:

(Personal Photo)

And finally, I took all the flip flops out of their individual plastic bags and arranged them nicely  shoved and mangled them in order to fit them all into the basket.

(Personal Photo)

(Personal Photo)

Feels good to check another project off the list, even if this was an easy one.  My only concern is that people won't put them to good use, which would be a bummer.

Have you ever been to a wedding where there were flip flops for the taking? Did you use 'em??

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trust Your Gut

As I'm nearing my one-year engage-aversary, it's fun to look back at my own planning evolution.  When I started planning this shindig, I had no effin' clue about well, anything.  I remember browsing through The Knot feeling totally lost and wondering how on earth I was ever going to be able to come to a decision about anything,especially vendors.

I think I've learned a lot over the past year and I'd like to offer up my best piece of advice for those bride-to-be's who are just starting out on their fun-filled (and I use that term very, very loosely) planning adventure:  Trust your gut.

Trust your yourself to make the right decisions and don't decide anything based on other people's opinions unless you agree with them.  Only you know what works for you and your fiance

It's hard to figure out who is the right vendor for you.  It's easy to constantly worry over every little decision.Will this photographer capture the essence of my wedding better than this one? Will this caterer come through with food that people will actually want to eat? Will these pomanders make my butt look big?

Ok, fine, I was kidding (sort of) about the last one but you get what I mean.  I know that when I started researching vendors, I was totally overwhelmed and unsure of how to go about picking one.  I was anxious because I kept worrying that I would pick the wrong one, someone who would leave me with a disaster story that would be funny in about 20 years but that would be pretty upsetting on the day of the wedding.

Which is why, again, I say to you all: Trust your gut.  If a vendor isn't making you feel 100% comfortable with your choice, then don't book him or her.  Listen to those nagging voices in your head and figure out what exactly isn't sitting right with you.

I believe I can honestly say that all of my "major player" vendors left me  confident in their abilities and have left zero doubt in my mind as to whether they were right for the job.  It took a long time to finally have everyone booked and I even came dangerously close to signing contracts with a few that I wasn't fully comfortable with just because I wanted to have one more thing checked off my to-do list.

When booking vendors and making major decisions regarding your wedding, your instincts will be your best guide.  You can read reviews up the wazooo, see brilliant examples of their work online but if you meet with a vendor and the alarm bells go off, keep looking 'cuz they are not right for you.

I hope this helps some of you out there who are in the process of booking your vendors.  Be patient and wait for the one that you know is right for you and your wedding and good luck!

What's your best piece of advice for booking vendors?