Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Buy a Wedding Dress in Under Three Hours

I've had mixed feelings about wedding dresses. On the one hand, I think that they are far too expensive and generally uninteresting. On the other hand, when else will I and the dress get to be the center of attention for a day?

Anyway this past weekend I went dress shopping for real with my FMIL and her friend. And by for real, I mean, I braved the crowd and chaos at Filene's Basement Bridal Sale in Union Square, lovingly named "the Running of the Brides," after the festival of San Fermin in Pampalona, Spain. You know, the one where tourists get gored by bulls running through quaint Spanish streets. Right. (It is marketing like this that sort of makes me happy that this industry is shrinking. Hopefully it will make the advertising around us more intelligent. Though of course, I'm not actually happy that people are losing their jobs.)

Here's me walking to the subway in my "I can this off easily without exposing my underwear" outfit. Note the tennis shoes and the relaxed stance. I was ready.

I approached the day with this attitude. I get to hang out with my FMIL, whom I love, and her friend, who I also think is great. They are really excited to help me find a dress. Much like I don't really believe in THE ONE in love, I don't believe in THE DRESS. Things will fall into place, and I don't need to scratch and claw my way to perfection. If I didn't find a dress today, it wouldn't be a big deal.

We met up at 11 AM. After the morning craze, when apparently women who had lined up for hours before ran into the store and stripped the racks. We arrived to a calm, if disorganized scene.

I wasn't really sure what to do. So I grabbed a dress that didn't look hideous and tried it on. See.

Here are some things that I learned:

1. Wedding dresses are heavy. It's strange how much silk can weigh when there are a gazillion layers and yards of it.

2. Some dresses really do make you feel like a princess. It was kind of a fun feeling, but they also sort of made you feel like a robot.

3. Wedding dress designers must have all signed some sort of pact that obligates them to put beads and sequins on everything. I had a hard time finding dresses that balanced bejewelry and simplicity. Most were really gaudy (which is cool if that's your thing) or really plain (also cool if that's your thing).

4. Sizes don't correspond to anything. I fit into the size 10s just as well as the size 4s. We realized this after about an hour of looking for size 4-6 dresses and not finding much.

5. Apparently being a bride means you don't have to adhere to any rules of propriety. I definitely saw a woman wearing only her underwear (no bra) standing in a pile of white silk and many others walking between the aisles in thongs and bras. Really? There were photographers, fathers, fiances, and all sort of strangers in the store. I'm no prude, but really? Wearing a tank top and leggings would ruin the look of a dress so much that you made the decision to be generally naked instead?

6. I could not have done this alone. My FMIL and her friend were dispensable. They were cheerful with a great eye. We decided early on what shape looked best on me, and they scoured the racks and even followed around a couple people who were holding onto dresses. Here they are putting the dresses back onto the hangers.

They are so sweet.

Anyway I was about to give up. I was getting hungry and tired of looking at the sea of white, ivory, lacy-beaded fluffiness. Then I tried on this dress, which I had seen earlier but decided that at size 10 it would be too big. Anyway it wasn't, and I really liked it. So we stuck around until our friend returned from feeding the meter so that she could see it.

I liked this dress a lot. It was simple and elegant, but it had a little bit too much skirt. I like to think of this dress as my inspiration because it gave me a little more energy and while we were waiting, I found a different dress and tried that one on. That was the one I had on when our friend came back, and I could tell from the look on her face and on my FMIL's face that I had found my dress.

Anyway I'm not putting up a picture of that dress because FP reads this. Send me an e-mail if you're dying to see it. I didn't have an epiphany when I tried on the last dress. It just felt comfortable. Maybe it did feel different from the other dresses, a little more like me. I don't know. I looked at the price tag and figured why wait? I had no real desire to do the whole bridal salon thing. Here was a perfectly beautiful dress at a good price. So there you have it. Wedding dress. Check.

Now, if only the rest of it could be this simple.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh yeah, and the ties for the men

Perfect. From Vintage-Ties.

It's the thought that counts

Unless you're thinking of buying us ugly crystal vases or ugly designer napkins. 

So I don't really like obligatory gifts. I love to shop and spend time thinking about what to give people for different reasons, but I hate feeling like the gift is somehow a measure of how much this person means to me. I do like receiving gifts, but I can't really get myself excited about the prospect of getting them. I just don't think one should expect gifts. Gifts are gifts. 

Anyway I find it hard to express this without sounding self-righteous. I suppose I am sort of self-righteous. I appreciate that people would like to give us something, but more stuff is the last thing we need, and registering is the last thing on my list of things-to-do. Why is it not enough that people come to our wedding (if they can) and be happy for us?

Apparently, I'm wrong. Interestingly, the question now is, "Would I really appreciate ANY gift (even a coffee table book about ferns) or do I actually care about the things I might potentially own and want a say in it?" 

I'm not really sure. We'll probably pick the path of least resistance and register somewhere. I'm telling my friends not to buy any gifts, but no one ever really listens to me.

Thank goodness for E-bay, suckers.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My friends have talent. Fedora Photography.

(all images by Jeremy Wade Shockley. Posted with permission. Please do not repost without asking.)

My friend, Jeremy, just sent me a link to his wedding photography album on flickr. Needless to say, I think Jeremy has tremendous talent. Maybe it's because we spent many an afternoon in Lesotho (where we were both Peace Corps volunteers) talking about the nature of the world and people and our relationship to the earth, etc. so I see the depth of his open-minded views in his work.
He doesn't just produce pretty images, but they are all positioned in the context of these human relationships. They're intimate and expressive, which is exactly what you want in your wedding photos.
Or that's what I would want anyway. We brides are constantly told that a wedding is in the details. So if my napkins don't match the plates and make a pretty picture, I don't have a wedding? Damn. Well, I do not believe this is true. What I like most about Jeremy's wedding photos is that the focus is on the people, and not the shoes the bride is wearing. They're sweet and full of vitality.
Anyway Jeremy has a very diverse body of work. He's a photojournalist and has traveled all over the world. He does weddings on the side (for a very reasonable rate) and is based in Durango, CO. Check out his portfolio at FedoraPhoto or go to his blog. Though mostly unrelated to weddings, his images are stunning.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do I Really Care This Much?

Cheap, designer wedding dresses. Bridal mayhem. Worth it?
I'm going with my FMIL. She is so awesome.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Updates up the Wazoo

Hello dear readers! We're back from a highly productive visit to Virginia, with lots of pictures. The weekend, of course, was not without its drama, but we've survived and are progressing nicely on the cambo wedding extravaganza.

Anyway first things first.

Chocolate cake! I actually made this a while ago for a friend's birthday. Yummy cake, but the frosting was too hard. I think I need to just practice making frosting alone. Next cake to tackle: Red velvet. . .

And now, the finalists for reception sites. As many of you may know, we have been struggling a bit to find a site that accomodates our large number of guests, is affordable, and doesn't make me and FP want to puke. We now have found very viable sites.

This is Collingwood Library in Alexandria. It was part of George Washington's River Farm. It has BEAUTIFUL grounds. Look at that lawn. It goes from the back of the house all the way to the Potomac River. They have a little patio for a sunset cocktail hour. *sigh* But their reception hall is a little bland, and 200 people would really push the limits of that space. If the weather is nice, it'd be perfect, but if it rains, it's not that pleasant. Other pluses include no restrictions on catering. This means we can really own the space and work with people to really make it how we want it. This also means it's A LOT more work to make it happen.

And here we have Bristow Manor in Manassas. The house was built in the 1800s. It has a really gorgeous interior, which we would get to use for a cocktail hour. Their reception hall is full of light, and we would get a tent extension to make room for everyone. It is really lovely. Also, it's an all-inclusive package with flower arrangements and a wedding coordinator! So easy. The director there seems so easy to work with. She was extremely professional.

So there you have it. We're doing some research on catering prices for comparison, and then we'll make a decision soon. Yay!

And last but not least.
This was my Valentine's Day gift. We now have a box of these organic, fair-trade chocolate bars. It is so sweet (cha-ching!). FP knows that I try to support these kinds of businesses that help farmers and workers in developing countries compete in the global marketplace. I had read a NYTimes article about the chocolate trade months ago. He remembered and found this company. I can't tell how much it means to me that he takes the things that I care about seriously. We don't necessarily agree politically, but we do share a commitment to doing what it takes to make the world a better place, whether it's buying environmentally-friendly or socially-conscious goods or working for the most vulnerable segments of society. For us, that's the real meaning of love.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Last night my mother mentioned in passing that she had asked my sister to call the Kennedy Center. Right, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, where people go to see the opera in Washington, DC.

I am really trying not to be a brat. I really am. But seriously, what in any of our conversations about the wedding has caused my mother to think that the Kennedy Center would be something that we'd like. Being the good sport that I am, I did look at their website for prices, and the rental fees at least are quite reasonable. (see! this is me being a good sport) But this is definitely not what we want for our wedding. I'm sure that it's a beautiful space with beautiful views of the city, and everyone would be duly impressed, but it is simply not us. Anyhow this makes me wonder what other places has she been thinking about without consulting me.

Later, she called back because she had called the bridal dresser and she wants us to trek all the way up to Gaithersburg, MD to pick out our clothes for the Cambodian engagement ceremony in March. I don't care what clothes I wear. I don't want to spend two hours in a car to look at clothing that all looks the same to me. At least, though, I will choose my wedding day outfit too. Two birds. One long-ass car-ride stone. I have already told my mother that I would not be changing my outfit multiple times, as is usual with a Cambodian wedding ceremony. I think that usually the bride changes 4 times. I could tell that she was disappointed, and I'm sure she's thinking about her friends who will be asking, "Why is the bride wearing the same outfit from 20 minutes ago? What sort of chicanery is it?", but two wedding outfits (wedding dress and Cambodian gear) is enough.

Anyway tomorrow we leave to go down with FP's parents for a visit with my parents. They've insisted that we all stay together in the house so that we will have plenty of time to talk about the wedding. The prospect of weekend-long wedding talk makes ill, but I suppose it needs to be done.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Carnations and Candlesticks

(image: Eddie Ross)
I found this on Eddie Ross's blog. Another great simple centerpiece, though much more labor-intensive. Learn how to do this here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Centerpiece Inspiration

(photos by Jeff Tisman, found on Brooklyn Bride)

I came across these centerpieces from a wedding showcased on Style Me Pretty today. I love it. I love the mix of vases and containers, minimal but vibrant flowers. This is exactly what I'd like to achieve at our wedding. Just so simply lovely.

Oh God. It's Valentine's Day soon, isn't it?

I have to face it. I'm not a romantic. Not at the moment anyway. Yesterday, when I was opening all drawers wildly in our apartment to look for a misplaced item, I found FP's valentine's day card to me. What? Now we're getting each other cards? ha. Just kidding. We usually give each other cards. So I ruined his surprise, which is what I usually do because I'm a control freak and don't like to not know what will be happening next.

So now I have to make up for it. But how? Stealing his card and replacing it with one that he hasn't seen so at least one of us will be surprised? Buy a dozen Valentine's Day cards and hide them around the house in easily-noticed spots so that when he finds one, I can act disappointed that he ruined the surprise?

Hmm. . . I should probably try harder.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm already bored

What's the big deal about all this planning? Of course, I could spend my time trying to find a 200-year-old farm that's less than 15 miles from my hometown with enough space and amenities for a large-scale event that costs less than my semester tuition that is perfect. But I don't want to. In a couple weeks we're going down to Virginia to look at a country club and possibly a historic library. At the country club, it's an all-inclusive package. They take care of most things: food, set-up, even floral arrangements. The library is a historic building right on the Potomac River. We'd have to figure out the catering and all that ourselves. The library is probably more unique and will be easier in some ways to turn the space into a personal reflection of ourselves. But the country club is giving us flowers and champagne. Hmm. . .

At the moment I am completely uninterested in doing any more work for this wedding than I already have. I will assume this is normal.