Using Paper Lanterns

May 17, 2010

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but we are considering using paper lanterns to decorate our venue. I kind of hate the carpets, so hopefully, we can do everything we can to make people look up, instead of down! So, we were thinking of using paper lanterns, which is something we actually use in our own home. I’ve seen plenty of wedding pictures around the Internet with paper lanterns that are used as decoration, but aren’t actually lit up, which I think is a waste of a good paper lantern! I love the light that you get from paper lanterns, it’s so much softer light, but at the same time, it still lights the room, so you can hopefully avoid too much flash.

Over the weekend, I checked in at Project Wedding and one of the articles that came out of their 2010 DIY challenge was on how to light paper lanterns! What’s great about this is that it provides a lot of different options, some of which allow you to hang lanterns at multiple different levels, as opposed to all along the same line.

Again, gotta talk up Project wedding for all their DIY projects. My wedding invite plans came from the project wedding site, though it keeps getting more complicated because I want to go big! That’s for a different post though.


So, this morning, my maid of honor, Kelly, and I headed over to RK Bridal so I could try on some wedding dresses. It was my first time trying on dresses and I didn’t want or expect to find “The Dress” in the first go around. I wanted to get a feel for the kind of dresses that looked good on me, figure out what shape worked best and really to make sure that the romantic, lace look I was hoping for, actually looked right for me.

I chose RK Bridal, because it’s no appointment necessary. We just walked in this morning and were immediately looking through dresses and choosing ones to try on. They have essentially a warehouse set-up, with racks of dresses, prom, bridesmaid and wedding.

After signing up, our consultant, Olga, told us to go look and choose four or five gowns to start. I knew I was looking for a lace dress, sheath or A-line. Going in I was focusing on finding straps, but there weren’t that many strap options, so we pulled plenty of strapless gowns as well.

I didn’t find anyone one gown that I loved. There were gowns that had the lace I wanted, but the shape didn’t work. There were gowns that were the perfect shape, but the lace wasn’t right, or it was only on the bodice and I want it all over. I tried on a number of strapless gowns, which I wasn’t too keen on going in, and Kelly is convinced that I need to wear a strapless dress. I’m still not convinced, but it’s early days yet.

I did learn a couple of important things today. I am looking for a modified A-line. I tried on a sheath dress, a mermaid dress, full A-line and the modified A-line. The modified A-line looked the best. I’m also looking for a natural waist. I tried on a few drop waist dresses and I just didn’t like them. It makes my torso look long, to be sure, but then it just makes my legs look short. I much prefered the natural waist. When I tried on dresses that hit at the right place, my waist looked really tiny. Definitely a fan of that! The dress here is one of the ones I tried on. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

The were a couple of things that surprised me about trying on wedding dresses. First, it didn’t take nearly as long as I expected. Maybe I watch too much “Say Yes to the Dress,” but on that show, it seems like it takes girls hours to try on three dresses!we were zipping in and out of dresses. We arrived shortly after 11am and we were out around 12:30 or so.

Secondly, wedding dresses are heavy! From a distance and in photographs, wedding dresses look so delicate and flouncy. But they’re not. Those dresses have a lot of weight to them. Part of it is the sheer amount of fabric. To get the shape, there are layers of tulle underneath the dress. Also, any dress that has a lot of beading is also going to be heavy. Between the two of us, Kelly and I determined that I wanted some beading, but not an overwhelming amount.

The other thing I was surprised to learn? I’m smaller than the sample size. I had ordered a dress online from J.Crew a while back and ordered a much larger size than I expected. Size inflation has put me in a range anywhere from size 2 to size 6, depending on the store, whether it’s pants, a shirt or a dress. But when I ordered from J.Crew, based on the measurements, I ordered a size 8. The dress fit correctly and when I was researching sample size gowns, I understood that most of the dresses fell in the 8-10 range. So, when I got into my first dress and it was enormous, I was surprised. Olga had to use clips to keep the dresses on me, so I could see what they looked like.

So, one trip to a bridal shop down. I’m heading over to Camille’s Bridal in West Hartford, hopefully next Saturday or Sunday. And I want to make an appointment at Robert Bullock’s salon for sometime early this summer. I don’t know if I’m going to have that wow moment, but I’m not there yet. I think today was a little too technical. I was looking at shape and style. I haven’t seen a full dress I like yet. It’ll be another step before I find a dress I love.

Checking In

May 6, 2010

I haven’t been writing too often over here mostly because now that we’ve booked our venue, we don’t have anything pressing to book for another few months. The next priority is to book a photographer and officiant.

I’ve started looking at photographers in the Hudson Valley. I’ve found one that I really like, one that I like and a lot that I really, really don’t like! The one I really like is Kelly Vasami Photographer. I really love her style and her ability to capture moments. I also think she’s really successful at capturing the atmosphere of a room, rather than using flash the highlight the subjects in the photo and letting everything else darken in the background. The only problem? Price. I’m concerned that the starting fee is just too high.

The photographers I like are Candeo Photo. It’s two guys who I believe are just starting up their wedding photo business and again, I like their style. They capture color well. I found them, because they photographed at my venue. They capture color really well. They haven’t updated their blog recently and I’d really like to see more pictures! They’re significantly cheaper than Kelly Vasami, but while I like what I see on their website, they don’t have a lot of experience yet, so I’d definitely want to meet with them and look at full wedding albums.

But, as I said, much of the photographers I’ve seen are disappointing. Way too dependent on light flares, skewed angles and fisheye lenses. I’m looking for someone who can capture moments. Paul and I have the type of relationship where we steal kisses and whisper jokes to each other. I want someone who will be paying attention to those moments and capture them on film.

The officiant is Paul’s job! I’m hoping for a judge of some sort. We considered having a family friend ordained to conduct the wedding, but unfortunately in New York, you have to be ordained as a clergy member or a member of government. I believe you can get ‘ordained’ online by one of those online churches, but I don’t want that. I want a secular ceremony and even if the minister or reverend can conduct a secular service, they’re still a minister or reverend. I’ll have to start bugging Paul about that soon. We have a couple of recommendations for town clerks and judges from the venues. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I’m planning on trying on dresses at the end of the month! Once my maid of honor, Kelly, finishes her semester and before she start her summer semester (which I’m also doing, but at a different school and significantly less classes, crazy lady..) we’re going to head over to a bridal salon or two to get an idea of what I like and don’t and how the whole trying on dresses ordeal works. I’m also planning to go to a hometown bridal salon with my sister at the end of the month when I go home for another friend’s bridal shower. Should be fun!

Invitation Beginnings!

April 26, 2010

So, we’re hoping to build our invitations on our own to save a bunch cash. Like significant amounts of cash.. Like close to $500. Anyway, I’ve mentioned before my love for the website Cards and Pockets. They have a really great DIY invitation kit including pocket folds, mats and everything else you need. I bought a sample kit and some samples and I’ve been playing around with it. And then I found this website: and they sell paper punches. So, I bought these!

Those are leaf shaped paper punches! And those are the multiple different papers I punched leaves out of as soon as I opened it! Yay crafty stuff!

Then I ran out of good paper to punch and really get a sense of how it would actually look like, so my fabulous fiance bought me this!

Yes, that’s construction paper. So, once I got some leaves punched out of the construction paper, Paul decided to play around with branch images. Here is what we’ve come up with for our invitations. Obviously, we haven’t printed any of the actual invitation, so no text, but here’s the what it might look like. The tab on the front would have our monogram on it. And I’m probably going to defy tradition and put Paul’s initial first, because then we get P+S, which is totally cute! Without further ado…

The three cards on the side will probably have the headers ‘Destination: Hudson Valley’ which will have accommodation and local stuff to do on it, ‘Directions’ and ‘RSVP’ with the envelope.


Creating an Atmosphere

April 25, 2010

So, lately, Paul and I have been talking about the kind of atmosphere we want to create at our reception. Our venue looks a lot like most other venues inside, except for the fact that it has nice big windows overlooking the Hudson River. There are certain things we don’t love about the space. The carpet for one, but we’re hoping to dress up the room and make it look pretty amazing.

One of Paul’s key jobs for the wedding is lighting. Paul has worked as a lighting tech and really knows how to light a space and make it look beautiful. When I come home, I turn on the overhead light in our apartment. When Paul comes home, he usually scolds me for just turning on the overhead light, then turns that down, and turns on the china ball light, the lamp on his desk, the lamp higher up on his desk pointing up towards the ceiling and sometimes, the lamp over the china cabinet that reflects off the glass and mirror and cast a really interesting glow. Turning out all the lights at the end of the night can be a task. But I appreciate it, because I know he’ll take the same amount of care making our reception really special.

We’ve talking a lot about we want to do to create and atmosphere. One of the reasons we ended up booking the venue we did was that the owner really understood what Paul wants to do in terms of lighting. He followed Paul when he was talking about volts and electrical outlets, while I stood there waiting to ask about vendor meals (never got a chance, whoops). And he also pointed out to us that when renovating the space, he put in drop ceilings, so it’s possible to hang things from the ceiling.

That really stuck with us, so we’ve been talking about the possibility of hanging china balls aroun

d the room to light the space and possibly drape tulle to mute the lighting. One of Paul’s goals is to eliminate the need for flash photography, while still creating a mood. One of the reasons I’m excited to have our ceremony outside is so we can avoid having a beautiful, romantic space and moment ruined by dozens of flashes! I really hate that. Paul wants to carry that over to the reception. I think we also want to do that, because I have seen so many pictures during wedding receptions, taken by the professional photographer, of dancing where everyone is full lit and clearly seen and you know that the photo was taken with flash and you have zero sense of the atmosphere of the space.

The picture here is sort of an idea of what we’re thinking of. I know Paul wants to make the space a little bit brighter, and the recessed lighting will probably help with that. And also the fact that we’ll actually have lit up china balls.

But the other thing I was considering is maybe centering the china balls over the table and dropping them down, to essentially use the china ball as a centerpiece. I’ve been wracking my brain about centerpieces. There are so many things that you can do to decorate the table, ranging from elegant to really really tacky. I know I definitely don’t want to do tacky, but figuring out elegant is hard.

I don’t think I want to do big floral displays. First off, big floral displays cost money. The other thing to consider is that if you do a big floral display, you need to do it up high, so people can see each other around the centerpieces. I also considered doing something with pillar candles, but on their own, it’s not enough. My sister-in-law did a feather thing with a candle, I think, for their wedding.

I also wanted to incorporate our colors into the centerpieces. So, I thought that maybe I could do tall clear cylinders with flowers in water with floating candles on top. But if we do the china ball, we probably don’t want to do something too tall. So, then I started thinking about doing something lower. I really like the way floating candles look. I was thinking about doing something similar to the picture here, except with a white or ivory candle, or maybe multiple candles, and red and orange berries instead of the crabapples here. I was also thinking about using cranberries in the dish as well, especially since cranberries float. I was also considering incorporating leaves into the centerpieces, but I don’t know if using real leaves is a good idea and I don’t know if I could get realistic looking fake leaves or preserved leaves for a decent amount of money.

I definitely have plenty of time to figure out what I want to do and I’m looking forward to the two weddings I have coming up this year. I just found my friend Sasha’s wedding invitations and I realized that I had basically stolen their idea when I was looking at invitation ideas! I look at dozens of magazines and websites, but I think the best place and way to get ideas is to see them in person. Not that I’m going to stop looking at magazines and websites though!

I think the real thing we need to do is figure out what we really want to say with our wedding. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re trying to do a destination in the Hudson Valley wedding. Far enough from home to be a destination, but close enough to get there in a day. We want people to spend the whole weekend with us! So, maybe what I really need to do is spend some time in the area and really get a feel for what it’s like during the Fall. Find things that stand out and incorporate those into the whole celebration.

When I first thought about getting married, prior to actually getting engaged, I thought about the venue, I thought about the dress and I think that’s about it. I already had the guy, so that was a big piece of the puzzle figured out! But I don’t know that anyone ever tells you just how many decisions need to be made.

And yeah, when you really think about it there’s a lot more that goes into it. You need to pick out the menu and invitations and flowers. But even that is small beans.

I’m talking about the nitty-gritty, itty-bitty details like, will I have an aisle runner? What should go into my centerpieces and how can they coexist with any decoration from the ceiling we may have? How should I do my hair? How should my bridesmaids do their hair? Do I need a makeup artist? Do my bridesmaids need a makeup artist? Will I wear my glasses to the ceremony? Should there be a leaf theme throughout or is that too over the top?

I have 18 months to plan my wedding, and I have to be honest, I’m finding some of the details a bit overwhelming. I do, in fact, stay up at night thinking about random wedding details!

I think a big part of the problem is that even though most of these decisions will be decided with my fiance, he’s not going to remember that we need to register for everyday glasses and wine glasses and juice glasses. Paul’s a big picture kind of guy. He sees the whole wedding. I see the pieces of the puzzle.

And I suppose that’s probably the healthiest kind of relationship there is. We complement each other. But when I’m trying to decide whether our colors should be red and brown or red and orange or red, yellow and orange, ¬†or can you do four colors? Having him say, “Shana, we’ll figure it out.” really isn’t helping as much as it should.

So, now that the venue is booked, there are details that I don’t have to worry about for at least six months, probably closer to a year from now. The best part about getting married in the Hudson Valley is that when your caterer says “Trust me.” you almost always do. That’s because our caterer and almost every other caterer in the area is trained at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park. So when they tell you to trust them, it’s because they know what they’re doing. I’m looking forward to choosing a menu. Okay, if I’m being honest, I’m looking forward to eating a TON of really yummy food in hopes of narrowing dow a menu. The cake is part of our package and I believe is done by a bakery in Cold Spring, so we’ll get to go taste those too. And cake flavors shouldn’t be too hard. Cake decoration will though. Another detail to consider, do we need a cake topper??

Ultimately, the thing I need to keep reminding myself is to take it one step at a time. Stop freaking out about the little things, because I will figure them out. The next step is to find a dress and luckily, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for there. I doubt it’ll be easy to find the right dress, but hopefully it will be fun.

Wedding Dreams

April 17, 2010

No, this isn’t about what my dream wedding would be like. This is about dreams I’ve had that have to do with weddings. Seriously. Am I going to have to deal with this for another 18 months? Oh boy..

It’s been two so far. The first one was short. I was in a dressing room while other people were trying on wedding dresses. That one also had a pool in it. Not at the same time as the wedding dresses, earlier. Very strange.

The second one, which was this morning, was probably inspired by the fact that I was looking up RK Bridal before going to bed. RK Bridal is a warehouse like bridal shop in Hell’s Kitchen, basically the antithesis of Kleinfeld’s. You look through the dresses yourself and figure out what you want. The “consultants” are really only there to help you get in and out of the dresses.

In my dream, I was visiting RK Bridal, only it was outdoors. So there are racks of dresses, set up kind of like you’d see at Target, outside, under trees and on grass. Because grass and wedding dresses go together like- Well, they don’t go together (even though I’ll be walking down a grass aisle!). Anyway, I get in and I start looking at dresses and it’s really impossible to get a good sense of any of them, because they’re all really bedazzled and slinky, hanging on hangers without any shape to them at all. I’ve probably spent the last twenty minute trying to find an example of what I mean and I will now have nightmares from all the horrible tacky weddings I’ve found.

There was more to the dream, but it wasn’t wedding related. I’m concerned though. I don’t know if I want another 18 months of crazy dreams like this! Hopefully, it’ll stick to dreams and never move over to nightmare. That would not be fun.


Had another one. This time around I was about to go try on dresses somewhere when someone from Robert Bullock Bridal called me and was like, “I thought you wanted to get your dress here…” and I had a defend my decision to start trying on dresses in other place!

Then I was getting a mani/pedi and Paul was there and I asked him to help me pay, so I didn’t mess up my nails reaching for my bag. Strange!