Tasting the Menu

November 14, 2010

Oh, poor neglected wedding blog…

While there have been wedding things happening, I have not been very good at updating about them. We’re still on the hunt for a DJ and an officiant. I am desperately seeking shoes. And we still need to make a decision about which of our engagement photos to use for our ‘Save the Date’ cards.

But we did check one thing off our list. Last night we took the train up to Beacon for a tasting at our venue. We’re still 11 months away, but I wanted to make sure we got to taste everything in season. One of the things we liked about our location was that they use local, in season fruits and vegetables. Combine that with a Culinary Institute chef and owner.. Well, needless to say, I wasn’t worried about the food!

The tasting actually took place while a wedding was going on, so we were able to taste the food as they were made in bulk. There were plenty of appetizer options. I think the most appealing thing for me was that there were a bunch of options that I don’t think I’d seen at other weddings. Obviously, there were deviled eggs and bruschetta. But we also had a chicken empanada that was delicious, some cheese puffs, an aioli tart thing. One of my big things for the appetizers is that I want to make sure that anything that’s not kosher is obviously not kosher. So, nothing will have pork or shrimp mixed in, unless it obviously looks like a shrimp or prosciutto. I just want to make it as easy as possible for my Jewish family and friends, so they don’t have to worry and ask about everything they eat.

The pasta appetizer that we had was probably the most delicious thing the whole night. It was a wild mushroom tortellini like pasta in a cream sauce that was to die for. And we all liked the salad as well. Rather than a plain old salad with greens and dressing, this had craisins and walnuts, which added a different dimension to the course.

We were able to try four different options for the main course, which seemed like a lot to me! The beef dish was very tender and cooked to a nice pink center, which was exciting, because usually, at weddings, caterers err on the side of over-cooked. The chicken was good, though I wished the sauce was a little bit more seasoned. I didn’t try the pork, but we won’t be serving pork as a main dish anyway. And Paul liked the bass. I’m not a huge fish fan, so I didn’t really care either way.

We definitely have decisions to make in the next few months to nail down our menu, but it was great to get an opportunity to see and taste everything ahead of time.

I’ve never been much of a math whiz, but I muddled through. I managed to get through high school math (algebra 1 and 2, geometry and statistics) and haven’t even thought about taking a math class since. Well, maybe I should! I was just trying to price out whether it would be cheaper to buy the invitation kits from Cards and Pockets or to buy the pieces separately. Surprisingly, it looks like it may be cheaper to buy everything individually. But what tripped me up was the enclosures. For some reason, I could not wrap my head around how everything would be printed and subsequently cut out. I had to actually pull out a ruler to figure it all out.

What the DIY kits seem to offer is avoiding all the math that screwed me up. They ask how many enclosures do you want and then tell you how much to buy for that. The kit offers the pocketfold invitation, the mat behind the actual invitation, the paper for the invite itself and enclosures, plus the envelope and RSVP envelope. When you factor in the color and type of papers I want, each invitation would end up costing $2.04. For 150 invites, which is how many I’m estimating I’ll need, that’ll end up costing us $306.

Now, $306 for an entire invitation suite isn’t too bad. Before discovering the Project Wedding website and finding Cards and Pockets, I was looking at ordering through one of the online sellers. At one site, for example, I would have to select a motif they’d already designed, a custom design would cost more. To get 150 of the invitations ($148.50), plus 150 RSVP cards ($142.50), plus two enclosures each, for accommodations or directions ($321) would put me back a whopping $723. Now, I think that includes envelopes, but I’m not sure. Admittedly, getting this would include all the printing and cutting, but I’m so restricted in the visual presentation of the invitations. I’m not sure how much printing will ultimately cost us. I haven’t priced that out yet, but I’m confident it won’t be an extra $400+!

Even so, if I buy the parts of the invitations separately (if my math is correct), I can cut my per invite cost down to $1.78 per invite, with extra paper to print enclosures in case of any problems.  So, all the supplies would end up costing $266.50. Sure, I’m only saving $40, but why not save $40? Either way, I’d still have to print my invitations and put them together myself.

One of the things that jacks up invitation prices so much is the style of printing. If you want embossed or letter-pressed text, it’ll cost you extra. With the fancy printing methods, you’re usually restricted to one, maybe two colors, in addition to black. But by having our invitations printed with a digital color printer, we can really print as many colors as we want, because we’re not trying to do anything fancy.

Especially since I can do fancy on my own. A bride on Wedding Wire was showing off her DIY invitation. She had put her pocketfold flap through a Cuttlebug, which embossed a really pretty pattern on it. Through conversations with her and a little research, I found out just how easy embossing is.

All I really need to add some creative embossing to my invites is an embossing heat tool, embossing powder, ink and a rubber stamp. I found this great blog, which breaks down how embossing works. All I really need is a rubber stamp in the shape I want and I can really personalize each and every invite. Now that’s DIY! Is it going to take a long time? Yeah, probably, but I have a long time. As of today, my wedding is 400 days away. I think I can get it done sometime in the next 400 days!

The ideas behind the DIY invites have really changed since we first started thinking about it. Originally, I had purchased the leaf punchers that I was going to glue onto to invites. I think those may have gone out the window, at least for the invitations. What I am thinking about doing is putting an Alchemy request on Etsy for an image of a tree. I kind of want a tree bordering one side of the invitation, probably in two or three colors, with maybe a leaf or two falling off. The problem with the punchers I bought is that the proportions are completely off.

The other thing I’m still trying to figure out is the fonts. I did a mock up to show Paul, my dad and my sister, Julie, and all three said that they liked the idea, but really hated the font. I’ve done some searches, but haven’t really found any I like. On DaFont, you can put in words and see it written in multiple fonts. It’s pretty fun and helpful to see how the words and ampersand would look. I think it’s especially exciting to learn that there are, in fact, fonts that have the heart above the I built in.

Two Big Items Checked Off!

August 18, 2010

Boy, have I been slacking here. Still about 14 months out from the wedding, but another two big items checked off the list.

A few weeks ago, we trekked up to Scarsdale, NY to meet with Kelly Vasami to photograph the wedding. On the way there, Paul and I were discussing the meeting and he said, “So, this shouldn’t take that long, right?” Two hours later… I think both of us are so excited to work with Kelly. The meeting lasted two hours, though a good fifteen minutes were spent playing with her adorable puppy, and we talked about everything. Every time I mentioned something I’d seen in wedding photography that I didn’t like, Kelly said, “I know!” I think we’re definitely on the same page in terms of what we’re looking for and I’m so excited to have her as part of our day.

There are two main reasons that Kelly’s work stood out to me so much. First was the way she captured color. I love bold colors. And one of the reasons we’re getting married in the fall is because I love all the colors of Autumn. I want to see those reflected in our wedding photography. The other thing I love about her work is the way she captures emotions. It’s not just about what happened when. It’s about how we were feeling during those moments and those are truly reflected in Kelly’s photographs.

We’re going to do an engagement session this fall in Prospect Park and I can’t wait.

The other big check mark is for my wedding dress! I bought my dress last week! And of course, by bought I mean I swiped my credit card for half the purchase price. Give it a few months for the dress to come in and I’ll pay off the dress and then it’s mine!

We went back to the same salon I had visited last, Birnbaum and Bullock. I worked with designer Robert Bullock again to narrow it down between two dresses. This time my mother, my sister, Julie, and maid of honor, Kelly, came along. This was my mom’s first time seeing me in a wedding dress.

To be perfectly honest, I already knew which dress I was going with. I had spent the last month or so thinking about one of the two dresses, but I wanted to see what Mom had to say. I tried on the one I was less enthusiastic about first. It got a good response, but when I put on the other one, there was no question about which dress was mine. The decision was immediate and unanimous. Everyone loved the second dress. I loved the second dress. And soon it shall be mine!

I think what I love most about it, besides the way it looks on, is that it’s visually stimulating. I think people will look at this dress twice and for a good reason. That’s all I’m going to write about it though. Paul knows where the wedding blog is!

I’m very excited though. Only 417 days to go! And no, I’m not counting. Wedding Wire does that for me!

Last weekend, my maid of honor and two bridesmaids joined me to look at bridesmaid dresses for the first time.  We went over to Here Comes the Bridesmaid, who carries a bunch of well known designers. While we did have an appointment, the experience was pretty laid back and independent. Once we checked in, we were told to browse the racks and pull out dresses we liked. We were looking short, knee-length cocktail dresses that were available in red. My goal from the start has been to find a dress that comes in the same fabric, with a couple of different shapes, so everyone can pick a dress that they feel comfortable in. I also really want to find dresses that each of my girls will be happy wearing again.

The best part about going with three of my bridesmaids is that we could try on a bunch of dresses quickly and eliminate the ones we didn’t like and then switch the dresses we did like! Jessica and Julie were our dress guinea pigs. I think they tried on at least ten dresses between the two of them. Sadly, only two really stood out. One is the yellow one to the right. It’s from Watters & Watters. It’s silk dupioni, which is a really interesting looking raw silk, so you get interesting variations in the fabric. Obviously, we’d get it in red. The nice part about this dress is that there are a couple of dresses that are made of the same fabric and have the same style, but have different neckline or strap options. Jessica and Julie both looked really cute in the dress. So, it’s on the list. The only problem is that it’s pretty pricey, close to $300. I’d rather find something a little more affordable before settling.

The other dress we found was from Watters’ other line, Wtoo. This dress also looked great on Julie and Jessica and the back was really sexy, but the fabric was a poly-chiffon and while the grey worked, we all agreed it might look a bit cheap in a red color. But I was surprised to learn that at least three of the five girls would be willing to wear a chiffon dress! I was expecting them to veto that.

So, the next step is to make an appointment at a different store. I think we’ll try Bella Bridesmaid next. They carry a ton of lines. I’m definitely excited to look at Anna Elyse, which fits perfectly in the same fabric, different styles dress goal. There’s also Jenny Yoo, Amsale and Alix & Kelly. I’ve looked on all of the websites, but it really doesn’t matter until you’re actually in the store looking at the dresses.

And of course, there’s always J.Crew. So, we’ll find something. My sister will be in the city for three weeks for a summer programming starting next week, so it’ll be much easier to get everyone together to go try on dresses and at the very least meet! So, hopefully, we’ll find something. We’re not in a rush and there are definitely a few seasons to pass before we really have to make a decision, but considering how long it can take for some of these dresses to come in, I’d rather start early. Better safe than sorry!

Last weekend, I finally went over to Robert Bullock’s salon to try on his dresses. I have been dreaming about trying on one of his gowns since I saw it in a magazine, almost an year ago. Since I started looking, I’ve known I wanted lace, but I hadn’t been thrilled with any of the dresses I tried on. They looked nice enough, but nothing had felt right. Every dress I tried on was heavy and stiff. I was getting discouraged and a little bit nervous that I had an impossible vision of my wedding dress and I was never going to find it.

Thankfully, I made a trip to Robert Bullock’s salon. The best part of the whole experience is that Robert was there himself helping me out. I could ask about options and know that the answers were coming from the person who designed the dress.

The Francesca gown was the first dress I tried on. I’d been pining forever, it was time to finally see how it looked and it looked… okay. Sadly, this wasn’t my dress. It was really lovely, but didn’t work exactly. But I tried on six or so more dresses and loved them all.

I have never had as positive of a shopping experience as I did at the salon. First of all, every dress felt wonderful. A lot of the dresses I had tried on previously were either true A-line or fitted at the hips, which I wasn’t looking for at all. Robert’s gowns are modified A-line. Essentially, the hug the natural waist and then go out, but there is no fabric forcing the skirt out. The fabric follows the natural line of the hips. Almost every dress I tried on had this shape and I loved the way all of them looked. And because they didn’t have layers of tulle or anything else underneath creating volume, all the dresses were significantly lighter than anything else I tried on. I didn’t feel weighted down at all. The fabric was all very lush and luxurious and the dresses felt amazing on my skin. These were dresses I had no problem imagining spending a day in.

And almost every dress looked great on! Like I said, every dress hit me in all the right places and made me feel incredibly sexy. I even fit perfectly into a couple of the dresses, no pins or clips required. I felt like each dress made my waist look incredibly tiny, which I am definitely going for!

This dress is one of the ones I tried on and it got great reviews from Julie, my sister, and Kelly, my maid of honor, but I didn’t love it. It was a little too modern for me. Some of the other dresses had the lace all over and I liked that more.

Ultimately, I didn’t end up getting my dress, because I narrowed it down to two that I loved. Since Paul knows where the blog is, I won’t go into what they look like, but the next step is to head back with my mother and grandmother and have them help narrow it down. So, hopefully, we’ll do that later this month.

But I absolutely have to encourage anyone who is looking for a beautiful dress and an amazing shopping experience to go to the Birnbaum and Bullock salon. The Stephen Birnbaum has his own line and they have a line together at varying price points. But it was the best experience I’ve had so far, planning my wedding and it’ll be hard to beat. I was the only bride in the salon at the time and each bride gets the same experience.

This past weekend, I hit up the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn with my bridesmaid Jessica. First comment right off the bat? Did not expect it to be so big! We got to the fair around 3pm and stayed until 6 and didn’t get close to seeing everything!

I had heard about the fair on on Brooklyn Bride and was pretty excited to check it out. I used to live a few blocks away from McCarren Park in Brooklyn, where the fair was held, and I’m pretty sure nothing that cool happened while I lived there! But beyond the obvious pursuit (the never ending pursuit) of more cute jewelry, I was excited to see some home made goodies that I could potentially use for the wedding. There were a lot of different kinds of booths; stationary, clothing, hair accessories, jewelry, etc. Of course, I didn’t buy anything (though Jessica did!), but I did collect a couple of cards of sites that I’m thinking about checking out again for wedding stuff.

My favorite booth was probably The Weekend Store. They make these really cool cufflinks out of old typewriter keys. Paul’s father wrote all of his books (about 100!) on Smith Carona typewriters. He passed away recently and I thought it’d be a really nice touch to include. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of showing them to Paul! I was thinking they could be a really neat groomsmen gift as well. But unfortunately, they a little pricier than I’d like, $54 for a set, but I’m going to keep my eye on them. Maybe they’ll have a sale before or after the holidays and I can pick some up. I just hope I can clarify that they have to be Smith Carona keys!

While on the subject of typewriters, we’ve also talked about  using a typewriter as our guest book. There are a ton around, at least two or three just in our house! It depends on the set up though. Don’t want to hear the clack! clack! of typewriters while the best man is giving a toast!

Another booth I grabbed a card from was Sesame Letterpress. They had coasters that they were selling for a $1 each. Now, obviously, I’m not going to buy another person’s custom coasters, but I was considering getting some made for the cocktail hour. I’ve put a lot of thought into the ceremony, the reception, the invites, but the cocktail hour hasn’t even crossed my mind. This could be a nice touch. Depends on prices though.

I also tried on a few headbands with felt and beading from Heart Felt, which were pretty, but I think a little too big for me. It was nice to get an idea though.

There were a few things that were totally not wedding related that I didn’t buy, but really wish I had. One was from Mr. Poncho, which was selling these iPod holders with a thing on the outside to wrap your headphones around. So creative and totally useful, considering usually I just throw my iPod, coverless, into my bag and have to untangle my headphones every time. I also really want a bag from Tinyhearts Design. I’ve been looking for a sturdy, but stylish messenger bag for a long time. I want something that I can use for school, but not feel embarrassed by at the office and I think the Brigette School Bag really fits the bill. But again at $90, it’s a lot. And I would hope that I could just meet up with the seller somewhere in Brooklyn instead of paying $10 shipping to have the bag make the trip down the G line, essentially! (I chatted with the seller at the fair and apparently she lives a few blocks down from my old apartment.)

And, of course, I saw a ton of jewelry I really liked, but can’t afford. I can’t really think about jewelry for the wedding yet anyway, because I don’t have my dress. But I’ve been trying to introduce more jewelry into my daily wardrobe. Mostly earrings and an occasional necklace. I’m so bad about actually pulling the trigger and buying anything though. There was plenty of beautiful things at the craft fair though. If I had unlimited funds, I would be a very happy camper right now.

Anyway, the Renegade Craft Fair is going to be in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago later this summer, so if you live in any of those cities, I definitely recommend you check it out. Just bring some water and budget a lot of time, because there is a lot to see!

This weekend was my second go around with wedding dresses. This time, I went to a small boutique called Camille’s in West Hartford, CT. I grew up in West Hartford and lived very close to Camille’s. As a kid, I always wandered passed the store whenever I was in West Hartford Center. They always have a beautiful wedding dress in the window. A good friend of mine bought her dress from Camille’s and had a really good experience, so I decided to check it out.

There were a few big contrasts between Camille’s and my previous shopping experience at RK Bridal. First of all, price. The dresses at Camille’s start at $1,500, while the dress I liked at RK was $740. The price really cut back the number of gowns I could try on. Secondly, I was able to work with an actual consultant at Camille’s. At RK Bridal, I worked with a women, Olga, but she was mostly there to help me get in and out of dresses. She wasn’t really trying to sell me anything. The woman I worked with at Camille’s, Rachael, was incredibly helpful and knew a lot about the dresses and the options I had.

Overall, I tried on about six dresses. Again, because of my price point, there were a lot of dresses that I looked at, but couldn’t try on because of the cost. My sister and bridesmaid, Julie, came with me. The first dress I tried on was one that she had picked out. It was.. definitely not what I was looking for! It had a lot of beading on top and beading at the bottom and ruching in the middle. Julie loved it! But I think ultimately we both agree it wasn’t what I was looking for.

This is the second dress I tried on. It’s designed by the Spanish company San Patrick, called Polka, and I don’t know if you can really see it in the photo, but the lace overlay has little polka dots on it between the flower portions. It’s cute. Overall the dress looked nice. I liked the bodice. One of the other dresses I tried on was nice, but the bodice was SO big. My boobs looked about three sizes larger and the ribbon underneath didn’t help much either. This was actually one of the only dresses I’ve tried on so far where the sample size actually fit. One thing both Julie and I liked about the dress was the scalloping on the top of the bodice. We both thought that was pretty and interesting. Neither of us loved the rhinestones on the ribbon below the bust, but Rachael said that we could probably get rid of the rhinestones and just put around ribbon there. The skirt is A-line, which looked good, but overall the whole thing is really heavy. I tried on one dress that was incredibly light and while I didn’t like the dress itself, I really did like how light it was. I guess I don’t understand why wedding dresses are so heavy. I mean, I get that the beading and the layers holding the shape underneath add up to a lot of stuff as part of the whole thing, but I always imagined that dresses were floaty and light and airy. I always thought I’d float through the day with this beautiful dress. It doesn’t work like that. And it’s a little disappointing.

I don’t think I’ll buy my dress at Camille’s ultimately. Partly because it’s in Connecticut and I don’t want to go all the way back to CT for every fitting. I had a really great experience there and really enjoyed working with Rachael. It was really nice to visit the shop I had passed so many times as a child.

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