Monthly Archives: September 2011


Guess what we did on our lunch break?

Personal photo

Yeah, that’s right! We’re now licensed to wed (well… in a day or so, given Florida’s three-day waiting period).

In Florida, the requirements are the same statewide in all counties. The license is $93.50 (less if you have premarital classes) and is good for 60 days, in any county, after a three-day waiting period. So we visited the courthouse in downtown Tampa and after about 15 minutes and an oath that everything we’d written on our application was indeed true to the best of our knowledge, we walked away with this totally ugly license. Yahoo!

I have to say, seeing that little room off to the side with the arch and the pulpit really tempted us. I half-jokingly said we should just come back in a few days and DO IT. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re really going to get hitched in front of all those people.

Was your marriage license experience as exciting as ours?

If the Dress Fits: The Second Visit

She’s almost ready! I went for the second dress fitting this past Saturday, and it was so thrilling having the dress perfectly tailored for me, looking 99% like it will on the wedding day.

We need a teeny tweak on the righthand side to take in a bit of seam that’s uneven from the left. And the sleeves are being readjusted and sewn in to fall lower, off the shoulder. But this is her, and at the end of October, I’ll be picking her up and trying my darnedest not to prance around town with it.

Did the vision of yourself in your finished — or nearly finished — wedding gown send shivers down your spine?

Receptacle Reservations: Handing Out the Farewell Bells

The shopping list for an impending wedding sure does grow in the final weeks, doesn’t it? Or… maybe that’s just mine. At any rate, I’ve been wracked with anxiety for some time now about how our serving staff should hand out bells at the end of the evening — the farewell bells that guests will use to signal our exit from the reception and our trek back to our wedding-night hotel.

I browsed Target’s site for a bit, but only came up with melamine, wooden and leather trays that were just too pricey for our needs — about 5 trays/baskets/boxes to hold the bells as they’re being handed out. I don’t want to have them just freely sitting out for guests to take themselves — for one, we’re low on surfaces in the reception area, I’m afraid they’d be too out of the way for guests to notice, and franky, I don’t want bells ringing the whole live long night. I’d like the handing out to be more controlled. Therefore, I’m really looking for something with handles, or easily manageable by the staff.

So I jaunted over to IKEA, and found a few options that just might work.

First, there’s the Forhoja cutlery tray in birch, which could easily be spraypainted yellow or gray to match out decor and offset the pink in the bells’ ribbons and tags (shopping list addition: yellow or gray spraypaint).

Image via IKEA

Then we have the Bjuron acacia plant pot. I love the loook of this wood, so I wouldn’t want to spray paint it — but I’m not sure the wood look really matches our wedding decor. Plus, the box is a bit deep, but the bells could be stacked.

Image via IKEA

And finally, there’s the Bygel wire basket. Intended to hang from the Bygel rail, this nonetheless presents a handle-type situation. Painted, it could look nice — but I’m not sure the wire look works. It might be a bit too industrial. On the plus side, the price is certainly right.

Image via IKEA

Or, I could just scour the thrift store for shallow enough baskets. At this point, that just seems like such a heavy time investment.

So what do you think, hive? Do you like any of the options presented above? Have any alternative ideas? I’ve never really seen this done, so I’m at a loss, but perhaps you’ve glimpsed something that would serve as inspiration.

Showered With Love: Lunch, Games, Gifts

My shower was the beacon of hope at the end of my long, long week. With a weekend of hair and makeup trials and bridal showering, I just couldn’t lose. I got to BM Preggo’s house around 2 on Sunday, to find this beautiful spread, just for me.

They had put together cute little favor boxes with a pack of wildflower seeds, a vanilla sachet, a sleeping mask, and lots of candy. Mmm… candy. Which is currently stockpiled in my purse.

And there was our littlest guest, Baby Baloney, snoozing in the corner.

BM Preggo’s hubby cooked up some UH-MAZING barbecue pulled pork and sausage and mushroom and veggie calzones. There was potato salad, hummus, veggies, pita chips, Martha Stewart’s Three-Way Cheeseballs (a Ladyfingers household fave that MOH Ginger borrowed), yummy salad, Diet Coke, lemonade, and diet orange Fanta. In short, a Ladyfingers dream come true.

Oh! And delicious cupcakes that originally had our initials on them, before BM Preggo dropped them and smooshed everything (I forgive her), and chocolate-covered strawberries.

After lunch, we played games. — well, one. MOH Ginger had dug up a few, but we only had time for the purse game (make up a list of items found in a lady’s purse, assign them point values, and whomever has the most points at the end wins) before it was time for a few of the guests to leave.

I am apparently thrilled I had lipstick, one of the items.

But before too many girls could depart, MOH trotted out the single coolest thing I’d ever heard of: Flying Wishes. Each guest wrote a wish for me and Mr. Ladyfingers on a slip of paper. Then, they stuck them in balloons, filled them with helium, and I let them go into the sky. (I know, I know… terrible ecological impact. No need to say it.)

I wish I’d gotten copies of some of the wishes, or at least read them aloud! They were so wonderful and sweet. But the symbolism of the flying wishes was beautiful.

Writing wishes

Bye, bye wishes! You’re the universe’s, now.

Then, it was gift time! I was grateful that a few people had left, because I get really really nervous opening gifts in front of others. Mostly it was just the bridesmaids, and longtime friend ND, left to watch me eagerly tear into the presents. MOH Ginger bestowed me with a cheese board and a 23-piece cake and cupcake decorating set (the two items I’d made fun of myself for adding to the registry — very much like her to buy my two most ridiculous finds), and BM Spotty put together a sweet little care package of aromatherapy oil, soap, Sour Patch Kids (my favorite stress candy), yellow-and-gray notecards, and a candle. There were gift cards galore, and a set of beautiful cobalt blue glasses from Designer Mama. Gift-opening pics are at a minimum (at least, non-blurry ones), but there is one salvagable print of me demonstrating the exciting space-saving virtues of the Spice Stack.

Our spice shelf is SO. MUCH. HAPPIER now.

I’m so grateful for my friends and bridesmaids for putting together such an intimate and beautiful event for me. I get so nervous at things like this, awkwardly standing around wanting to do things, not loving the attention. But this get-together was just the right amount of love and fun, without being a big blowout that stressed me to high heck.


BM Preggo, me, MOH Ginger, BM Esquire, BM Spotty… and down there on the left, a faint blur of Preggo’s oldest son, who shrieked and giggled after arriving home and devouring a cupcake.

The next big beacon? The second dress fitting this upcoming Saturday!

What do you most look forward to about your shower? If yours has come and gone, what was your favorite part? Did you play games? Because I love games.

*All personal photos or taken by BM Spotlight

Make Me Up Before You Go-Go: The Trial

My wedding-day hair and makeup artist came over today to do a trial run of my wedding day look. I’d talked before about my extensive inspiration — natural, curly, loose side bun or ponytail and fresh, rosy romantic makeup. I was weirdly nervous when Marci from Kyle Lynn came over, since I hadn’t ever had my makeup done and was frankly afraid she’d make me look like Tammy Faye out on the town. So I awkwardly paced around our living room while she set up. She was quiet, which made me think she thought I was weird. As always.

But I showed her my inspiration file, and we got started. She was so great! We nearly nailed the makeup the first time around — we just had to try a couple of shades of lipstick before we found the right one, and tone down the lower lash line’s eyeliner. The hair, too, was about 95% there — the day of, we’ll be doing it a bit looser and less structured, with some more ends showing. But I felt like a total princess — and the bonus is I barely felt like I was wearing any makeup, which is very important for a makeup-phobic chica like me.

First, the before — apologies in advance.


And — drum roll — the after!

One caveat: My brows are nuts right now. I’m letting them grow out from a weird too-thin self-plucked shape into something my salon can work with, and will be shaped and waxed prior to the nuptials. Another: We skipped the lip liner so we could try several different shades before landing on the right one, without having to scrub off matching lip liner with every shade change. The liner will be in place the day of.

My No. 1 request was that I didn’t want to look cakey or fake, and I wanted to look like myself, but better. She kept asking what I wanted to fix, and changed the makeup requests on the spot so I could sign off them and she could make her notes on my day-of look. I appreciated that I got to see the final picture rather than getting any “we’ll change that the day of” or, “this will be done better/more complete the day of.”

Another good sign: Mr. Ladyfingers raved about how great I looked, how much he loved my eyes, and how he was really nervous about me getting my makeup done, but that she did a really good job. I’m not the type to do everything he asks me to, or to avoid doing the things he doesn’t like (for example, he hates nail polish — I like it sometimes). So he was nervous since he likes me best fresh out of bed (oh, the people who love you, how blind they are). But he gave the look two thumbs up!

Some tips for your own makeup trial:

  • Bring photos — hair fronts and backs, makeup, etc. I tried my best to find makeup examples in my coloring, but threw in a couple of blondes just for an example of the overall feel.
  • Don’t be shy. Tell the artist EXACTLY what you want, if there is something exact that you want. They want to know, and this is why we have trials.
  • If there’s something you don’t like upon the first look, tell them what you don’t like and what you’d rather have, and if they don’t offer, ask them to change it on the spot. You don’t want to go into the day of nervous that the same mistake will be made, or that you’re not on the same page.
  • A non-beauty piece of advice: Tip at the trial. Even if you’ve paid for it on deposit and aren’t paying for the trial the day of, the artist is still doing $XX amount of work that day, so they should be tipped just like you would your hairdresser or manicurist.
  • If you have time, try to wear the hair and makeup all day and night long, so you can see how it wears. That way, going into the real deal, you can say, “I loved the look last time but just an hour or so later, I was all shiny — how can we prevent that?” or, “I really liked the lip color at first, but after a couple of hours I kept looking at it and think I’d like to go darker — can we try that?”

What are your biggest hair and makeup requests? If you’ve had your trial, how did it go? Were you nervous to have your face all made up, too? Any advice?

60 Days and Counting: The Random Buys

Now that we’re at the under-60-day mark, we’re checking off a tremendous number of purchases, and starting to pack things up to cart to the caterer the week of!

First, we ordered our cake serving set from Oneida, from the Michelangelo collection (plus, it was on sale — score!).

Then, I picked up our thank-you notes at Target. I originally coveted several designs on Etsy before realizing the last thing I wanted to spend $150 on was thank-you notes, regardless of how adorable they are. Cue Target, with 100 thank-you notes for about $20. They’re not exactly in our colors, but black is basically gray, and I like the design, and I love how they fold out for a different kind of note.


I originally had plans to buy gift upon gift for these girls. And to be honest, I’m feeling like a little bit of a bum that this is ALL I have for them, after seeing some of the awesome ideas you ladies had for your bridal parties. But I’m also taking them out to dinner the weekend before the wedding, treating them to mani/pedis the day before, and buying lunch while we get ready on the wedding day… so I hope we’re good on that front.

Plus, these gifts are awesome — and by no credit of my own. Etsy seller rejenerate did an amazing job of sourcing fabric and putting these together. Jen was amazing, and I’d recommend her to anybody looking for similar gifts. Take a gander:

We went with four different fabrics in the same color scheme, with patterns matching each girl’s personality and tastes. They can use them the day of since they coordinate with the wedding, but they don’t have to. She even personalized the insides with embroidered names!

And, last but certainly not least, our rehearsal dinner invites. I literally searched for “beach rehearsal dinner” on Etsy and found twopoochpaperie‘s PERFECT design. She added inserts for the time and address of the actual rehearsal, and these are seriously my favorite things EVER.

What have some of your favorite random buys been? Did you get really excited about the accumulating material goods in the final few months, like a good consumer?

*All personal photos

In The Middle: The Glass Bottle Centerpiece Collection

I’d caught onto the whole eclectic-mismatched-bottles-and-jars trend early on in planning, and started collecting random glass receptacles way back in February. I was off to a bit of a slow start — began my hunt at local thrift stores, but was really only uncovering old glasses and non-vasey-vases. There wasn’t anything with that antique thing goin’ on — no milk bottles, no old soda bottles. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought I’d find that stuff for a buck or two at Salvation Army, but I was nonetheless set back by my initial finds.

Then, in March, MOH Ginger and I drove out to Mount Dora, about two hours from here, to go to what was promised as the flea market to end all flea markets: Renningers. With 117 acres of random stuff, surely I’d be able to kick start the antique portion of my centerpiece collection. And kick start it I did.

I must say, there are some crabby, crabby folk out there when it comes to pricing milk bottles. One guy demanded $10 for two half-pint bottles, then walked away before I could even say no. When I chased him down, he said I could sell them at my garage sale and make my money back. Um, what garage sale? I was definitely naive for believing I could buy 45 old bottles and jars for like $20, but c’mon, dude. There were better deals to be had.

I carted back about 15 bottles and jars that day, after dropping only about $30. And then I hunted high and low, not only at Goodwill and Salvation Army, but at local antique malls and other flea markets. I’ve amassed a collection I’m pretty proud of, and I’m hoping it’ll make for some excellent centerpieces.

I do have moments where I wonder if I have quite enough variety, or enough big vessels, to get the look I’ll like. I wonder if I have too many generic pieces that won’t pair well with the older vessels with more character. But in the end, I think I’ll be super happy with what our florists will be able to do with the collection.

First, there are the cut glass containers – glasses, decanters, and the like. You know, for a bit of texture.

The two bottles at either end of this one both date back to somewhere between 1930 and 1950 — they have embossed marks “Federal law forbids sale or reuse of this bottle.”

Then there’s the “generic” collection — mostly oil and vinegar bottles, vases that aren’t of the typical shape (I was striving for ones with a vaguely vintage or antique shape), etc.

I got pretty excited when I found these following fellers — but it appears they’re nothing more than dime-a-dozen supermarket water carafes. Nonetheless, I like ’em and they have that faint milk bottle feel, so they stayed.

Now, my favorite: The bottles with character.

Apologies for the filthiness of some of them — I still haven’t gotten around to washing them out. Soon… soon.

I tried doing a bit of dating on some of these bottles, but I didn’t get very far. There are so many factors, and so little can be found online. But I found myself really drawn to these little things — so much so that I couldn’t stop buying them. There are Listerine bottles from the Lambert Pharmacal Company; beer bottles from The Consolidated Bottling Co. in Lima, OH, and the Independent Brewing Co. of Pittsburg; a medicine bottle bearing the mark J. Credick druggist; and half a dozen milk bottles from the Volusian County Store, Sangamon Dairy Products Co., and more.

Does it appear I have enough bottles for about seven centerpieces — and enough variety to keep it looking vintage modern? I’m just worried it will come off looking cheap and dumb and slapped together with no style. I am indeed my own worst critic.

Did you go all cuckoo with collections for any part of your wedding decor? Once you start, are you unable to stop — like me?

The Favor of Your Presents

I’m a firm believer in the power of the edible favor. I’ve never been to a wedding with a non-perishable sendaway, and I’m not a fan (for us) of anything but. This is not to say I don’t love things such gifts as wildflower seeds, mixed CDs, recipe books and the like. Honestly, I just don’t want guests to leave their favors behind if I can’t eat the leftovers. I also don’t want to hand out anything that guests can’t easily transport back home on an airplane.

Favor Idea #1: Italian cookies

With all that in mind, I decided a few months back to purchase trays of Italian cookies from one of my favorite stores EVER — Mazzaro’s Italian market — and pack up three to five cookies per guest with a cute little note.

Photo via Mazzaro’s Italian Market

However, a couple of months ago, we had a site visit at our venue and decided all our rentals. And our rental budget thereby doubled. So we temporarily cut favors from the overall budget. But then, miraculously, a gracious wedding-industry friend offered to contact our rental company since she does a lot of work with them at her own venue — and we got a 25% friend-of-vendor discount. Favors were officially back on the table!

Favor Idea #2: Homemade fudge

But the Italian cookies had lost some of their luster. I wanted something a little more personal. So, to bring a bit of my mother’s memory into the event and produce something both super personal AND ultra yummy, I decided to make her fudge recipe. It shouldn’t be too difficult for roughly 60 people — and it’s damn delicious. I figured all I’d need to do is a quick trial run to see 1. How much fudge one pan makes, to calculate how much I’d need to bake the week of, and 2. How long the fudge “keeps” without getting funky (i.e., could I bake it three days in advance and it still be 100% edible).

Not my fudge, but yummy looking nonetheless — Image via soar2011girlseyeview/Photo by HD41117

I was excited about this plan for about 15 minutes, but then the idea of a trial run — even one with fudgy results — started to sound burdensome, no less buying a double boiler, finding tempered chocolate (I had a really sad incident melting chocolates this past Christmas that taught me the importance of both), and baking three or four pans of this stuff the week of.

Favor Idea #3: Double the cupcakes, double the fun

That’s when I was struck by inspiration: We’re already having cupcakes in lieu of traditional cake. Why not just order twice the number of cupcakes as guests, buy some takeout boxes, and encourage them to eat a cupcake now and take one home for later? It would cost less than the cookies; though it would cost more than the fudge, it would require much much less effort — a quick call to adjust quantity with our baker, and no wrapping of favor boxes or bags since guests would self-serve.

After a quick conversation with our caterer, we determined they could get us white takeout boxes for about $0.50 each and keep the cake counter stocked with them throughout the night. I whipped up a cute little sign directing guests to bring something sweet home with them. I thought up a cute little way to decorate the boxes.

Not like this — but still, aren’t these boxes adorable?/Image via My Wedding Reception Ideas

Then, I skidded once again. Decorations for the boxes? A cake table sign? I seem incapable of doing things with half measures, so this spelled a whole ‘nother full-fledged DIY project, and one that would likely not come cheaply, after the cost of the boxes, the paper, and more.

The current state of our favors

At the moment, then, the future of our favors are in limbo. I think the best contender at the moment are the cupcakes. I keep getting hung up, though, on how many people would actually take cupcakes with them. What if they didn’t even eat any at all? We’d be left with so many cupcakes, even we couldn’t finish them. Would it be just as good to get the same number of cupcakes we’d always planned and order a couple dozen takout boxes, sans decorations, in case people decided to take theirs home rather than eat them there? In other words, forgo favors altogether?

Did you always have a concrete favor plan? Did you abandon favors altogether as being wasteful, too expensive, too time-consuming, or none of the above? If you did them, what did you go with? And if you did self-serve takeaway favors, how did you display and organize the “taking away”?

Showered With Love: The Invitations

Late Friday night, I came home to a pile of mail on the kitchen table — and what was tucked in there but this:

Personal photo/design by Gutcher’s 

My very own invitation to my very own shower! MOH Ginger made sure to point out that the “us” was missing in the top line, and she hoped nobody would notice. Um, judging by the fact that I was WAY TOO EXCITED to notice myself, I think we’ll be just fine.

I’m so grateful for my BFF MOH and bridesmaids for putting together this shindig, and it’s seriously the bright spot at the end of my whole week!

Did you look forward to your shower with anticipatory glee? Or did you dread the present-opening and smile-making presentation of the whole thing? I personally think there will be much hilarity at mine, so I’m willing to mug for the camera a bit in return.

Here Come the (People Before) the Bride

The wedding planning universe is a funny, funny place. It’s full of pretty meaningless details that can go from being completely ignored to absolutely essential in a manner of hours — nay, minutes. For us, the most recent wrench has been the ceremony’s seating of the parents. Warning: You’re about to dive into a logistical nightmare of epic proportions, with every combination of our bridal party doing an endless number of things. You’ve been cautioned.

We thought we’d pretty much figured this out at our meeting last month with the officiant: The Reverend, Mr. Ladyfingers, and his groomsmen would file in from the side of the lawn, along with FFIL Ladyfingers, who would just kind of sit down without fanfare. Then, we’d do a special song for seating Mr. LF’s mother and my dad’s fiancee, and then the bridesmaid processional song would begin, followed by my processional song.

Then, I got on the phone with our caterer/coordinator to do our ceremony appointment — and it’s been a crapstorm all afternoon since.



Scottish-style bridal processional/Image via Blue Bonnet Tartan Weddings/Photo by Alison Cooke Photography

Her line of questioning, along with my vague grasp of what we’d decided in the first place, ended in an all-afternoon email session with Mr. LF on why MY way of seating the parents is the RIGHT way. He’s voiced his opinion, and I keep deciding he’s wrong. This is clearly not in the spirit of collaborative wedding planning — nor in the spirit of the ceremony in general.

I keep getting hung up on family dynamic — his parents are divorced, and my mother is deceased. And I can’t seem to recall a single way I’ve seen this done at any other wedding.

Our options so far have been:

1. The way we originally decided: Reverend, groom, groomsmen file into positions, groom’s dad files behind them and sits in the front row, groom’s mother and my dad’s fiancee each come down the aisle, solo and individually. Pros: Nobody sticks out, nobody feels awkward, the ladies get recognized, and Mr. LF’s happy because it doesn’t involve him coming down the aisle. Cons: Potentially isolating to have the mom and future-stepmom walk down all by their lonesome.

2. The way that, today, I decided was the right way: Reverend comes out from the side, Mr. LF’s dad comes down the aisle, Mr. LF escorts his mother down the aisle and takes his spot next to the Reverend, Best Man escorts my future-stepmom and takes his spot next to Mr. LF, remaining three groomsmen file into place from the side, and bridesmaid processional follows. Pros: Nice and sweet to have Mr. LF escort his mother; neither of the ladies have to stick out; smooth order of things. Cons: The big one – Mr. LF really doesn’t want to walk down the aisle. He’s never seen this done and thinks we should reserve it for me and my dad. Also, his dad would be coming down solo, which might be weird.


Photo by Sarah McGee Photography

3. The alternative our caterer proposed: No special seating for parents. They just come and sit whenever, Reverend, Mr. LF. and groomsmen file into position, and processonal music cues bridesmaids. Pros: We don’t have to try to figure out a solitary thing. Cons: This seems super informal and almost like cheating the parents in a weird way that probably only exists in my head.

Image via Another Damn Wedding/Photo by Christina Richards

4. The alternative Mr. LF proposed – a combo of #1 and #2: Reverend, Mr. LF, and groomsmen (minus one) file into position from side; Mr LF’s parents come down the aisle together; one groomsman escorts my future-stepmom down the aisle; followed by bridesmaid processional. Pros: Solves the issue of John coming down the aisle, in addition to the issue of no lady being solo. Cons: I don’t know that Mr. LF’s parents, being divorced, would be OK coming down the aisle all couple-like.

Photo by Luster Studios

So, assuming you’ve made it through my senseless blather, which do you prefer?





Some other combination of seating (explain in comments).

Did you have crazed thoughts about how to organize your processional? If you had divorced parents and step/future-step parents in the mix, how did you handle things?

P.S. Go figure — another option has cropped up: The groom escorting both the mother and the father down the aisle. A winner, assuming I can move Mr. LF to stop being scared of walking down the aisle?

Image via Delightfully Engaged/Photo by Beautiful Day Photography