Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tissue Paper Flowers

Alternative Title: I'm Lazy

Just a quick post today to show you a preview of a project my sisters and I worked on over Christmas. I knew from the beginning that our budget (would it be helpful for me to post a breakdown of our budget?) wouldn't allow for a huge flower allowance. I toyed with the idea of buying flowers wholesale and just arranging them myself—but I discarded the idea after realizing that one, I'm not a florist and two, the week of the wedding is already going to be insanely busy with graduation. In fact, in the entire planning process, we have the most events (wedding or non-wedding) scheduled for the week of the wedding. Also known as—we need to get everything done ahead of time. So, even though some bees have rocked doing their own fresh flowers, this girl needs a fake alternative!

The good news is that there are a lot of different ways and materials to make flowers. First up were crepe flowers.

Image via Design Improvised

I actually tried making these beautiful crepe flowers. Mine didn't turn out quite like the ones in the picture, however. First off, I couldn't find crepe paper sheets to experiment with, much less anything in coral. Second, I couldn't get the hang of manipulating the floral tape and wire. Basically, I'm lazy and this was too hard.

There's also paper flowers, which are absolutely beautiful (especially out of pages of books or music)... but incredibly time consuming.

Image via Etsy / Photo by annemusingdesigns

Fabric flowers fall into the same category, although if purchased are more expensive than real flowers sometimes—check out the price on this one! The upside to this of course is that you have a beautiful bouquet that lasts forever.

Image via Etsy / Photo by Katie Reim

That leaves tissue paper flowers. There are lots of tutorials out there, but we used this tutorial from Martha Stewart. Honestly, it was so, so easy. And it didn't take up days and days. We did both bridesmaids bouquets and my bouquet in less than two hours (two and a half episodes of Leverage). We also made some extra flowers and started on bigger poms for table and hanging decorations.

Do they look expensive and fancy? No. Is our wedding expensive and fancy? No, so it looks like they'll fit right in! Tissue paper flowers were perfect for the time we wanted to put in and the money we wanted to spend (about twenty dollars including floral wire and way more tissue paper than I needed).

This is my sister modeling her bouquet made with coral, light blue, and light yellow tissue paper. I'm planning on wrapping the stems in floral tape and maybe adding a page of a book and some ribbon around the stems.

Oh, and the stems? My dad pulled out his electric drill to twist the wire on those. When my dad participates in wedding planning, he does it in a big way, you guys. I highly recommend it because those stems are rigid now!

Anyone else make their own bouquets? To anyone who did their own fresh flowers or paper flowers—you're awesome!

Invitations Part I

Wow, could I make this post title any more boring? Sorry, I only have limited creativity and I think I already used up all of today's.

Before we actually talk about the invitations, I want to talk a little about what we're not doing. We're not doing a fancy invitation suite—that means no inner envelope, no cool pocketfold, no embossing or letterpress, no envelope liner, no calligraphy. Am I a little sad about that? Maybe. There are some really cool invitation suites out there!

For us though, I know this wasn't the way to go. I didn't have the time or energy to invest in a complex project myself or the money to pay someone to do it—or even to buy the supplies for a complicated DIY project. Instead of taking on something that would end up more work and stress than I could handle, we decided to go the simple route, although I do get to do a few small touches!

The next post will talk about the actual invitation, but I do get to share the part I'm really excited about now. I decided to order Mini Moo cards to include the RSVP information (we're using our wedding website to RSVP) and just to direct them to the website in general. Several brides have done this in the past, and it seems to have worked out well for them. Plus the cards only cost $19.99 and Mr. Lemur found a coupon for free shipping—always check Google before pressing submit!

They even came in the mail a few days before I expected!

I loved how cute the packaging was. We ordered four different pictures for the front. Just for fun—it's not like anyone will know they got design three or whatever!

They're half the size of a business card—I put the pencil in the picture for comparison's sake. The back of the card directs them to the website and of course credits our photographer.

So there you go! Part I. And maybe in the really cleverly named Part II maybe I'll get beyond the cute little cards and talk about the rest of the invitation.

Anyone else go with a simple invitation? What about an online RSVP? How did it work out?

Too Many Toasters

I mean, say you want to register for a toaster. You go to the Bed, Bath, & Beyond site and look up toasters—and get this.

Four pages of toasters—and with fifteen on each page that's over forty-five toasters. For people who have really specific tastes, this is probably awesome. Lots of choices! Customize your toaster! Heck, if you want you can get this toaster at $339.99.

Not only does this toaster have four extra-wide slots and an insulated stainless steel body, it has an auto shutoff and apparently a bell that rings when the toast is done.

To be honest I was just looking for a toaster that, you know, toasts bread. Like you put the bread in and a few minutes later it pops out warm and browned?

Obviously, this was just an example. I could have proven my point with cookie sheets or blenders—and don't even get me started on flatware. There are just so many options! I know how to cook and actually enjoy cooking, but up until now I've either cooked out of my mom's kitchen or out of my fully-equipped kitchen in my furnished apartment. I didn't have a brand preference and really had no idea what I even need. Basically, I was overwhelmed.

I started with bridal registry checklists from sites like The Knot, Real Simple, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Although I definitely don't agree with all the items on these checklists—ahem, I've never heard of anyone registering for a snow blower before?—it gave me a good starting point. I was able to look through the items and come up with basics of things I needed. It was easy to see "Oh, I need to register for a vegetable peeler, ice cream scoop, etc." while disregarding the things I wasn't interested in—such as a bar cart or patio furniture.

So I have a basic registry, but just like Miss Mongoose talked about last week—how do you know how many items to put on? Is it really two per guest?

I know I need to add at least a few more items. Right now I have basic kitchen utensils, cookware, etc. But tell me: Is there anything I need to have? What do you use most in your kitchen? Anything you didn't register for that you wished you had? What about the other way around?

Making Decisions is Awesome

After weeks of indecision and frustration (summarized here), I decided to narrow down the dress search for my awesome sisters upon Sister A's request. I thought she would want to pick her own dress, but it turns out she was perfectly happy being given a dress to wear—she's not much of a shopper! I wanted to make sure I had options for Sister E though.

Remember, my dress is the J. CREW Sophia in ivory silk chiffon. I wanted something to match the simple style and flowy fabric—simplest way to do that is to buy the bridesmaids dresses from J. CREW as well. These dresses can run on the expensive side (for college students especially), but they're simple and classy and the important thing is to look for a good deal.

In about ten minutes I scanned the J. CREW website and came up with four of their bridesmaids dress options that fit what I was looking for. Remember that the only stipulations originally were that they needed to be knee-length and not strapless (conservative family reasons) and I preferred them to be in a shade of the wedding colors (which included anything coral, light green, light blue, lavender, yellow... or even grey).

Images via J. CREW / The J. CREW Mirabelle, Sinclair, Louisa, and Heidi.

Unfortunately, these dresses were still $250 or more. I found some great deals on eBay and other dress resale sites that made me think this could actually work—and then I found the sale section of the J. CREW site.

First of all, I'm never buying anything full price from J. CREW again.

Second, I found the J. CREW Macie.

Image via J. CREW / The J. CREW Macie

Note: I linked to the petite listing because the regular size listing is now sold out. At the time, it was a $250 dress down to $70. That's even cheaper than I found it on resale sites online.

Now, while I absolutely loved the coral color which was available when we bought the dresses at the beginning of January... it just wasn't what my sisters wanted to wear. And you know what? That's ok! Sister A happened to love the color gallery green which was available in her size, so she bought it on the spot.

Sister E wasn't the biggest fan of the Macie, but she did love one of the options I had mentioned from the beginning—the Louisa, which was also on sale in the color gallery green. Choosing an "off" color like gallery green turned out to be a great decision, even though I would have been fine if Sister E had chosen a coordinating color (at the time there was a blue and a very pretty yellow on sale).

So here's what our final choices turned out to be. On the left is the Macie, on sale for $70–Sister A's dress. On the right is the Louisa, on sale for $130—Sister E's dress—which was a little more than she wanted to spend, but my parents graciously bought both of the dresses for my sisters as a gift to them.

Images via J. CREW

This is going to force a slight adjustment in color—I'm basically going to replace the seafoam green in my original inspiration with this more of a kelly green. It's really not going to affect much. The bouquets (I promise I'm eventually going to blog about these!) are coral, light blue, and light yellow, all colors that will work great with kelly green. I hadn't really purchased anything else in green except the guys ties. When the dresses come, I'll see if the ties work with them. If not, I only paid $12, so I'll go out on the lookout for something else!

My sisters have pretty different personalities, so I'm really excited to see how they make these dresses their own. I'm fully expecting a belt, an arm of bracelets, and a side braid from Sister E—and I know she'll rock it!

I know a lot of you have worn J. CREW bridesmaid dresses—tell me about it! Any suggestions for my sisters? What do you think about the shift in colors? Any one else have to change your vision slightly midway through planning?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Heart Hole Punch

Eventually we'll catch up on my planning process—but until then here's a quick note of what I've been thinking about recently. I was at Walmart with exactly five things on my list—Kleenex, Advil, new screen protectors for my iPhone, and thin ribbon and a hole punch for my invitations. Side note: Apparently EVERYONE got an iPhone for Christmas, because Walmart was completely out of screen protectors.

So I found thin coral ribbon at 10 yards for $0.49 and grabbed two because that's all they had. I'll probably need more actually—for the invitations I need to talk about still. Then I searched all over the store for a hole punch. Turns out the hole punches are in the school supply section, not the craft section or the party section. I did find cute cookie cutters in the party section though.

I grabbed the basic, $0.97 hole punch and started walking towards the door. Then it hit me. My invitations would be so much cuter with a heart hole punch.

In about 0.02 seconds my mind was telling me "Well, I can't get the circle hole punch because the invitations would just look awful with circle holes but amazing with heart holes!" And all I could think about was how I have to have a heart hole punch. Of course, Walmart doesn't have a heart hole punch—at least not that I could find. But that's ok, back to my trusty friend the internet to find me a heart hole punch that could fulfill my obsession.

Amazon told me heart hole punches were at least $7.50 plus shipping. Cue budget guilt.

"Should I really pay TEN TIMES as much or more for a heart hole punch?" 

"I don't NEED it... it's nice but not necessary!"

"I should just buy the $0.97 hole punch and let my invitations look ugly."

Ok, so reality check.

1. My invitations would not look ugly with circle holes instead of heart holes. In fact, no one will even notice. Except me of course.

2. I have budgeted my expenses and have more than enough money in the "invitations" section to cover a heart hole punch.

So you know what? I bought a heart hole punch. Actually, I bought three hole punches—a heart punch, a star punch, and a circle punch. They look like this:

Image via Amazon

I didn't buy them because I have to have them. I bought them because I think they would be a cool addition to our invitations, and I can afford them. And that's ok! Not everything has to be the cheapest thing out there, and not everything has to be absolutely necessary to my project. You can always use hole punches in the future—and hey, these have cool purple handles!

Anyone else deal with budget guilt? What about thinking you have to do something to have the "perfect" invitations, flowers, wedding, etc.?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Trying to Keep Dress Drama to a Minimum

This isn't exactly the post I wanted to write. I wanted to write about how I let my bridesmaids (my two sisters, remember?) pick whatever they wanted, how they're going to wear their dresses over and over, and how it was so easy and casual and perfectly coordinating without being too matchy.

Well. It didn't work just like that. But first let's look at my inspiration pictures.

Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by Braedon Photography

I think many of us have seen these pictures! The bridesmaids look effortless stylish and chic—like they pulled any old dress off the rack. And all of a sudden there they all are, these gorgeous polished bridesmaids in perfectly coordinating dresses.

Looking back at these pictures, it's entirely possible they looked for weeks or even months for their dresses—there could have been some arguments between the girls who had different ideas on what was "stylish" or "coordinating." Some of the girls maybe had to pay a little more than they were comfortable with. And unless the bride was really totally ok with whatever the girls chose (which makes her a much better woman than me!), there might have been some bridezilla drama going on. But looking at just the picture it seems like it was so easy!

Back in October when I got engaged, I was totally convinced the mismatched bridesmaids dresses would work just by letting my sisters pick whatever they wanted to wear in a shade of the wedding colors. (They also needed to be knee-length and not strapless.)

Three months passed, and we had gotten nowhere. They had looked through hundreds of dresses online, gone dress shopping, and argued back and forth on options. I think there are four reasons for why this technique really didn't work with my sisters:

1. My sisters have very, very different styles. One of my sisters proclaims herself a modern-day hippie and loves crazy bracelets, long skirts, headbands—you get the picture. My other sister is more reserved and prefers simple jeans and a v-neck shirt.

2. They're both tall (over 5' 8") runners, which means they're built like athletes, not tiny gymnasts. This makes finding casual dresses that fit a muscular frame comfortably and still fall to the knee really, really difficult.

3. My wedding colors were "officially" coral and seafoam—but neither of my sisters were really on board with wearing coral. Which was totally fine with me, but seafoam is a really hard color to match. They ended up looking for anything in the "light green" range, but matching "mint" to "meadow" could get into the "almost the same color, but not quite, so they clash" category.

4. My sisters are both younger and still in college. This also means they didn't want to spend a ton on their dresses, and I didn't want them to either!

This post is already long enough, so we'll save the decisions we made until the next post! Any thoughts on how to make mismatched dresses work? What if you have a small bridal party? What about younger bridesmaids?

An Official DIY Post

Somehow, I feel like I have to write a how-to post in order to be a legitimate bride. Ok, I know that's not true. But I'm still excited to write about my biggest project so far—and definitely my favorite.

I told you before about my Scrabble obsession inspiration. I was innocently scrolling through Pinterest when I saw a picture of a card box labeled with "Cards" in Scrabble letters.

I loved the idea of labeling with Scrabble letters! Except, as always, I had to take it one, or two, or three steps further. First of all, I wanted them to be made out of wood to mimic as closely as possible the smaller Scrabble letters I had already ordered. Second, I wanted to label all the tables with matching letters. Third, I wanted to make them myself, with a budget of... basically zero dollars.

Originally I was all like "We'll just make the words breakfast and lunch! It will be easy! It will only take us a half hour!" Somehow that morphed into 61 letters of two different sizes and five people spending over fifteen hours combined on the project. Oops.

We wanted to make the following words to label the various tables:


We also wanted to use the Scrabble letters as table markers for seating—like table numbers but letters. We're planning on having around fifteen tables, so we needed the letters A through O.

Finally, we wanted to make larger letters (7" by 7") to put on the mantel. We decided on "MR. & MRS. LEMUR" for these letters. After we added up all the letters, we had 49 4" by 4" letters and 12 7" by 7" letters.

After we figured out what we wanted to do and how to do it (we had some issues with spray paint and markers bleeding into the wood and not creating crisp lines), my dad got to work ripping quarter inch plywood into 4" by 4" and 7" by 7" squares. He made a few extra of both, but we ended up only using one extra 4" by 4" square by accident. He sanded the edges and coated them in lacquer so the paint or marker wouldn't bleed along with the grain of the wood.

The wood took a while to dry, so we lined them up along the hallway in our house. When the wood was finally dry, we stacked them on the table along with a really cute Christmas tablecloth... one that we didn't mind getting glue on obviously!

In the pictures the wood looks like it's different colors—this is because the back of the plywood was a slightly different color than the front. We chose to use the lighter side for all of the tiles, so they all look consistent. On the table letters we put the letters on both sides, so they don't match perfectly. You can't tell unless you put them side by side though!

While we were waiting for the wood to be prepped, we got to work creating our templates. There was no way this girl was going to freehand letters and numbers onto 61 tiles! We used the letters from this site because they were classic and had clean lines. We simply copied and pasted the images into Microsoft Word and resized them to either the 4" by 4" or 7" by 7" size. Then we printed them on cardstock and cut around the edges. I don't have any pictures of this part—but the next thing we did was carefully cut out the letters and numbers using an X-Acto knife. It ended up being really important to make precise cuts, especially on the smaller numbers. You can see where we didn't do a great job with this in the final product. When we were done, the templates looked like this (sitting on top of a finished block of wood):

In order to keep the template in place, we put a thin film of glue stick on the back of the template and pressed down hard along the edges of each letter and number. We found that the glue stick came off pretty easily (as long as you didn't use too much!) and you could use the templates over and over—because we only cut out one template of each letter.

When it came to actually writing on the block of wood, we tried several different things. Spray paint proved to be messy and not entirely precise. Painting the letters individually was time-consuming and again, messy. So when all else fails, use a Sharpie!

Or... eleven Sharpies (and permanent markers). The Sharpies faded quickly writing on the lacquered wood—RIP all the Sharpies that found a quick death in this project!

Buying the markers proved to be the most expensive part of the project. My dad already had the wood (he's a construction manager and carpenter) so the only other cost was the cardstock, which again we already had on hand. This would be slightly more expensive if you had to buy wood—for example, here's a 2' by 4' sheet of quarter inch plywood from Lowe's for ten dollars (don't ask me if this is what my dad used, I have no idea...).

Then it was time to go! But first, some Leverage on my laptop (my current favorite show—sadly, TNT canceled Leverage after this season).

By the end of the night, we got into a groove. Mr. Lemur would glue the templates onto the wood (like above) and Sister A would trace over the template with a Sharpie. Note: these are actually Mr. Lemur's hands before Sister A took over the template tracing.

After the templates had been traced and removed, the letters were still in rough shape. That's when Sister E and I would take the letters and slowly trace around the edges or fill in any spots that weren't super clean. This was the hardest part of the project, as seen by the fact that it took two of us to keep up! Here's a shot of us working over halfway through the project—it's past 11:00 here.

Not all of the letters are perfect. Some of them are slightly larger or smaller, and there are definitely little oopsies. But around midnight (on New Years Day) we finished up the project and laid out all of the letters to view our handiwork!

I'm really happy with them. Here's a closeup of the table letters:

My personal favorites are the larger letters spelling out our names. I have a secret ambition to hang these in our house someday. Unfortunately, I can't really show them to you because it would be all one big blur but use your imagination!

So did I do ok on my first DIY how-to post ever? What do you think of the letters? Is my obsession officially out of control? (Don't answer that last one.)

Irrational Engagement Envy

Note: I originally wrote this post for A Practical Wedding, but I want to post it here too because it generated a ton of really awesome comments and conversation from brides and women in all stages of life. If you want to read more personal engagement stories and encouragement, I'd definitely check it out!

My proposal story and ring are perfect. The day my fiancé and I got engaged we spent the entire afternoon and evening doing all of our favorite things—picnicking, singing in the car, watching our TV shows, walking around our favorite park, eating pizza downtown. In fact, we ate lunch in the same park that we had spent our one-year dating anniversary; we even sat in the same place and reminisced about how far we had come. I will always remember the silly details of that day—stalling my car five or six times, arguing over missing the turn out of the roundabout, wrapping up in blankets for our picnic on what was supposed to be a warm day. When I finally fell asleep that night it was with my ring nestled comfortably on my finger and to thoughts about how happy the day had been. My ring, too, was exactly what I wanted—except better than I ever could have imagined. All those fears and worries about what if I hate the ring? Gone. It was simple, timeless, and of course sparkly.

Then two things happened. One, people I barely knew started coming up and congratulating me—sweet of them!—and then immediately launching into asking questions about the engagement. How did he propose? Where were you? Let me see the ring! All of a sudden when telling the engagement story I didn’t know what to say. The short version, “We spent the afternoon in our favorite park and got engaged by a waterfall downtown…,” seemed inadequate. But I couldn’t explain the part where we were going to turn right to get to the park but the traffic was so bad we just abandoned that plan and turned left instead—barely making it onto the highway laughing and glad to be alive. And how could I tell them about sitting on our picnic blanket freezing cold and giggling as we pulled the other blanket over our heads like a fort? So instead I offered up, “We went to our favorite park and ate lunch…,” and they were underwhelmed. I showed them my ring and when they asked if it was what I wanted I weakly explained, “We picked it out together…,” because we did. Picking out my ring together was fun, trying, and a growing experience all at the same time. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But how do you share that with a stranger?

Second, other people started getting engaged, and their proposal stories were “better.” The key on the beach that opened a treasure chest five hundred miles away? Check. The clearing in the forest with the torches and antique desk? Check. The elaborate scavenger hunt with complicated clues and expensive gifts? Also check. The girls were surprised, elated, and more than happy to share their story with everyone. Their rings were trendy, gaudy, and glittery—everything that the wedding industry loves to push. I felt an irrational engagement envy. They had the ideal proposals, the fancy rings! How could I possibly live up to all that?

But wait! The ring with three halos and 128 tiny diamonds is not for me, and it never was. I have always wanted a classic solitaire like the one resting on my mother’s elegant gold band, something I could wear forever and it would never be out of style. Similarly, the idea of a surprise proposal terrified me—my fiancé and I have always made all our decisions together and planned our lives as a team. Why would this be any different? We’re a partnership, and our partnership is based on trust and togetherness. My favorite dates are walks in the park hand-in-hand while he listens to me talk about our latest client at work or a project I’m leading in graduate school. I value time spent together, not money spent on me. The fact that he skipped class and ignored his text messages for an afternoon meant infinitely more than a carriage ride through downtown or my name on the Jumbotron.

It’s a work in progress. Sometimes I feel a twinge of envy when I see a photo album on Facebook of a particularly intricate proposal. When another girl at work got engaged, there was a little jealousy to hear the exclamations of “Wow, your ring is huge!” Then I think back to the day in the park; my fiancé’s hand in mine as we walked around the lake; drinking hot chocolate; and stealing more than my share of the blanket to stay warm on the coldest day of the season so far. I look down at my hand and see my amazing ring—my delicate solitaire that perches so elegantly on my finger—and smile. Because no one’s engagement is as perfect as mine.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hair Problems

So I was (I thought) 100% convinced of how I wanted to wear my hair for the wedding. You see, I'm all about looking like myself on my wedding day. I wanted to buy a dress that was "me," that was comfortable, and that I could see myself wearing on any other day (if it wasn't white and a wedding dress...). So when it came to hair, I wanted to follow the same principles. And I basically have one "favorite" way of wearing my hair, the same way I wore it in my engagement shoot.

Yeah, I'm kinda boring, but basically curly and pinned half back. I have a lot of heavy hair, so having it hang in my face drives me crazy! My hair now is even longer than in this picture.

So easy enough, right? I looked up pictures and found tons of inspiration for long curly hair—ways to make it look dressy yet still myself.

Image via / Photo by Lane Dittoe

Image via / Photo by Tinywater Photography

I bought my dress (online, without trying it on, remember?). It came, fit perfectly, and I loved it! I had the dress and hairstyle I wanted—all good.

Image via J. CREW


The first time I tried on the dress my hair was up. It was the end of the day, I was tired, I pulled it on top of my head. I decided a few days later to style my hair and try on the dress to see what I would look like.

And I hated my hair down with it. Because my dress isn't strapless, my long hair covered the straps and just made it look... weird. Even though I wanted to channel Mrs. Castle or Mrs. Hawk, I'm not sure it's meant to be.

It's been about a month since then and I'm still not sure what to do. I need to try on my dress again and play around with my hair a little bit more. I'm not sure if having someone else do my hair would make any difference. Complicating the issue is that Mr. Lemur prefers when I wear my hair down—as I think a lot of guys do. The wedding is indoors, so heat shouldn't be a huge issue, but it's South Carolina... and guys it is always humid here.

What should I do? Any hair style suggestions? Down or up? Should I try to do my own hair or should I look into having someone do it for me? (It would have to be out of my own pocket, there's not room in the wedding budget.)

Food Update

Last time we talked about catering, I mentioned my dilemma regarding my idea of a true "brunch" reception—including both breakfast and lunch items. You guys were super encouraging!

Reactions from those I told outside of the hive were a little mixed. Some of my closer family members said they thought it was a great idea while others said it was weird and I should stick to one or the other. Ultimately though, they encouraged me that it's my wedding and I should do whatever I want—quirky or not!

I don't always subscribe to the "do whatever you want, it's your wedding" doctrine. I think input is important and you shouldn't always do something just because it's what you selfishly want! That being said, I don't think the items you put on the menu fall under this category. In designing the menu I was focusing on a variety of items where everyone would have something to eat (including the health-conscious and vegetarians). All that to say—I decided to move ahead with my brunch plan!

I did take a few things into consideration. First of all, I want the menu to stay portable and casual. This means no pancakes or steaks!

Don't they look delicious? I'm a french toast person myself, but I knew that I wasn't going to be including pancakes, french toast or waffles on the menu. Delicious as they are, they don't really fit a buffet reception, especially when we want to encourage people to mingle and walk around. I'm one of those "don't let my food touch" people—so if I eat a pancake, it's sitting down with nothing else on my plate. This applies to all kinds of "syrupy" or more involved foods that I was trying to avoid. Did I spend enough time over-analyzing pancakes yet? Thought so.

Image via / Photo by Wolfgang Puck Catering

Alright, so steaks. First of all, I hate my steak rare. I like it well done, and my favorite part is the charred edges. Total side note! But here's my real point with steaks—and actually all foods in the typical "formal" reception menu—it doesn't fit with the rest of the ceremony and reception. We're in a casual room with a simple reception. Not really steak material—or crab cakes, or salmon, or... you get the picture. Although now I could really go for some grilled steak. Mmm.

So now for the inspiration pictures. Still a work in progress!

Image via / Photo by Joielala Photographie

Image via / Photo by Rachel Havel Photography

Confession, guys. I only used that picture of the donuts because they had sprinkles. Sprinkles on donuts just make them ten times better. But anyway, that's my first item—a mix of pastries, probably including donuts or scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, etc.

This picture is of a full-sized quiche, but I actually want to serve mini quiches. At our catering tasting we sampled bacon quiche which I loved, but I want to have a vegetarian option as well.

Image via / Photo by Brandi Welles Photography

I love fruit! When I see a fruit tray at a party or reception I get so excited for fresh blueberries and pineapple especially. The other option here would be a vegetable tray—but I think I'd go for a fruit tray over a vegetable tray for a brunch reception.

Image via / Photo by Cyn Kain Photography

These sandwiches are a little daintier than I was thinking—this is more of a bridal shower sandwich than a wedding reception. But I loved the presentation!

Image via Multiply Delicious

I love my pasta salad with tomatoes and broccoli —the only problem with this is that so many people have different tastes when it comes to pasta salad! I want to serve something that doesn't have polarizing ingredients (so I cut out mushrooms), but isn't bland. Any suggestions?

Image via / Photo by Kelli Hunt Photography

I wanted to include one more item. I'm thinking something along the lines of cheese/crackers/meat/other snackable, more appetizer type items. They could be included along with the main meal as something to add that a lot of people enjoy.

So we have a mix of three "breakfast" foods and three "lunch" foods. All of them, though, are fairly casual and all except the pasta salad could be semi-finger foods. For some reason I'm just stuck on the pasta salad!

Am I headed in the right direction? If you attended a reception like this, what would you think? Is there enough food? A good variety of food?

Pretty Pretty Pictures

Three weeks and six days after our photo shoot, we got our engagement pictures back! Meaning that clearly I'm going to have to overload you with lovely photos in this post.

All images via Niki Marie Photography.

Looking back on my favorite pictures of the photo shoot, I'm pretty sure I'm laughing in over half of them. It's real laughter—I promise!

Outside the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit—I love the reflection in the glass.

My absolute favorite shot. Bored yet? Let's mix it up a little...

Not all (none?) of our pictures made us look like models—and if they did it was all thanks to Niki! But there were some not-so-perfect pictures too which I loved.

And one more to finish out this photo heavy post. Love him!

Wedding Dress Decisions

(Much better than Wedding Dress Nightmares)

From the very beginning, I had a dress preference from the six I originally liked. But first let's look at the ones I didn't choose.

Image via J. CREW

The Bettina was beautiful, but not exactly what I was looking for in a wedding dress, mainly because I couldn't see myself walking down the aisle with any jewelry or a veil in it. The neckline doesn't lend itself to a necklace, and I feel like in a veil I would just be completely covered from toe to forehead. So for me that one was out.

Image via J. CREW
Image via J. CREW

Mr. Lemur was actually the one to veto the Sararose and Sinclair dresses. Which was fine with me! I was glad he had input, and neither of these dresses really stood out to me.

I also should note that I'm not the typical look for "the dress" and cry when you find it bride. In some ways I wish I were! It seems so romantic and classic. But I have yet to feel that at all in my planning process, and I don't know if I will.

I guess in the end it just came down to availability, price, and what I could actually see myself wearing on my wedding day. I went to a local J. CREW store (not a J. CREW bridal—the nearest one is Atlanta) and tried on a few dresses to size myself. I'm consistently the same J. CREW size, so I felt fairly safe ordering online without trying on the actual dress.

Image via J. CREW

So here we go. The J. CREW Sophia. My number one choice from the beginning for several reasons—the simplicity of the dress, the way it fits with my style, and being able to feel comfortable and like myself on my wedding day. I also like that I can make this dress my own! I haven't decided how yet. I'm considering a chunky necklace for the reception, maybe fancy drop earrings, a sash, flowers in my hair/on the sash—or really anything that I want. Because of the simplicity of the dress, I can do whatever I want with my accessories!

A few things. As of my purchase—the Sophia was no longer sold on the J. CREW website (I think it may be back now). Which is fine, since I knew I would be able to find the dress cheaper elsewhere anyway! I found it on RecycledBride—not my size. Again, here it is on PreOwnedWeddingDresses—this one is my size but sold obviously. These are just a few of the sites I checked! There are plenty of places to buy gently used or even new with tags wedding dresses that aren't full price.

These pictures and dresses are also all showing the dress in silk tricotine. J. CREW originally made the dress in both silk chiffon and silk tricotine. After looking at pictures of both online, I decided I wanted the dress in silk chiffon. It seems like most women buy silk tricotine, but since I was looking to have a casual ceremony and reception, I felt like silk chiffon would be a better fit.

I did eventually find the dress online and buy it—yes, without ever trying it on! It came a few days later and fit perfectly! It does need alterations in length, but I haven't decided what I'm wearing for shoes yet. I bought for my current size, not a size down, but that was right before the holidays so I probably should try it on again just to be sure...

I keep looking for pictures of brides wearing this dress but there aren't very many out there in my style and size. I took a few horrible pictures of me the first time I tried it on—but you're going to have to wait until I can take some slightly less embarrassing shots! And since this post is long enough already, we'll talk about the details of my dress the next time around.