There are some things I won't skimp on, including but not limited to: a good hair cut (my hair is weird, temperamental and a cheap cut means 8-10 weeks of misery), running shoes (mostly because I have super flat feet and less expensive ones do awful things to my knees) and handbags (I don't have a lot of them or anything, and rarely even carry one, but I just like the real deals- no fakes). In general, though, I hate paying full price for anything and love the feeling of a good bargain.
Even in this down economy, while planning our wedding we didn't find too many outright bargains for the major things. Maybe in better times we would have had to pay more for "extras" (another bar, an additional hour of photo booth time, etc.), who knows. Anyway, a few places I was able to save:
1.) The dress
From the start I was really into the idea of a J. Crew wedding dress. I think their dresses are pretty, practical and can be reasonably priced. I did buy one from jcrew.com on sale for $75, but a week later found one on eBay that was more my style. Original price: $495 / Paid: $115
Being too lazy to go from store to store to find jewelry, I'd been looking on the Carolee website and had picked out this necklace:
I was wandering around the Loop one evening after work and found the exact same necklace at Loehmann's for less than half the price. I did have to buy the matching earrings at Bloomingdales for full price, but I did get a ton of compliments on the necklace at the wedding. Original price: $50.00 / Paid: $19.99
Other good deals:
-Fannie May Cubbies chocolate bars for out-of-towner bags
They are typically $1.50 each, but if you buy 10 or more, they're $1.00 each.
Finding good quality bags that weren't too big or too small proved a bit more difficult than I initially thought (we went to two different party stores thinking they would have them), but finally found exactly what we were looking for at the Dollar Tree on Addison ($1.00 for two)
I rarely buy anything online without checking for coupon codes on RetailMeNot.com, CouponCabin.com, CouponMountain.com. The codes came in handy for purchases on Zazzle (custom stamps), VistaPrint (save-the-date postcards) and even the Source!
The day was beautiful, wonderful, perfect and made me so happy and grateful to be surrounded by those I love. We have some time before our pictures are in, but I will re-cap the weekend soon and share about our vendors who helped make our vision come true.
but I wish I had taken pictures of us this morning stuffing our out-of-towner bags an hour before we had to leave to drop them off at the hotel. We've totally run out of time on everything, so this was a rush job and had to be done while neither of us was in the best of moods. The best part about it is that we stuffed all 30+ bags on the curb next to our parked car right on the street. We live on the third floor and were not about to haul 70 bottles of water and other assorted goods up only to bring them back down, nor were we going to move the car to a less busy street for fear of losing a good parking space. That's how you roll in Chicago when you live near Wrigley Field and it's about an hour away from the start of batting practice.
Anyway, bags are dropped off, guests are arriving, got my no-chip manicure, our parents have finally met, and I am exhausted.
We registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond, which means not only have we been receiving wonderfully practical kitchen items, but scads of purple ribbon. I'm such a pack rat for that sort of thing, so what better way to put it to use than lollipop stands for the kids room at the reception.
Cheree is also now selling the lollipop stands on her website starting at $125 for a small one. I guarantee you they will look 100 times more beautiful than one I could ever make, but I also spent just $3.99 for the styrofoam cone at Jo-Ann. And I get to re-use ribbon!
It's hard for me to believe that we've been working on this wedding for just about eight months. That sounds like a long time, but with just 11 days to go I can barely remember the good old days when I still had time on my hands. (By the way, that card box got decorated then tossed because it looked so awful. A talented and generous friend has made me one instead).
While I don't think we're quite at the point of the penny-candy-in-a-Ziploc yet, getting stuff together for the out-of-town guest bags is making me nuts and I will be relieved when finished. At this point I'm planning on just filling them with the usual stuff: water, pretzels, Wrigley gum, possibly Girl Scout cookies that may or may not have been sitting in my freezer for six months, etc. If time and budget allow, I would also love to include mini gooey butter cakes as a nod to my hometown of St. Louis, Garretts, Fannie May Cubbies chocolate bars and/or Frango mints (acceptable to me now since they are being produced in Chicago again).
I'm also a bit nervous about everyone getting their bags. I know I have to trust the hotel to do a good job on this one. Our hotel charges $5.00 per bag to be placed in a guest room (or we can leave them at the front desk and up to chance). At first I was a little put out by the charge since we're spending a good chunk of change there already. But a friend of mine in the hotel biz (whose hotel charges $6.00 per bag!) said it's a pain to do put the bags in each room. Who knew.
Every time I go to Paper Source for wedding-related paraphernalia, I swear it will be my last. Not because I don't love the paper and could stare at the shelves of cards and envelopes dreaming of different color combinations for a long time, or because I have a running debate in my head about whether or not I should own something called a Crop-a-Dile.
I'm trying to wean myself off the Source primarily because I really don't need to be taking on yet another craft project this close to the wedding, nor do I want to be knee-deep in Curry colored 4-bar cards three years from now. I've spent enough hours and dollars at the stores in Chicago (and even in Kansas City while on a business trip!) over the past six years and with an increasing frequency since I got engaged.
When I started my wedding-related Paper Source purchasing earlier this year, I started keeping my receipts, because I was curious about just how much paper craft spending I was going to do. I haven't totaled it lately, but it's been a lot.
Collecting these receipts came in handy last month during the "spend $30 get $10 off your next purchase" promotion, because I loves me a good deal and also because I started doing our color-coded placecards in gold, silver, khaki and bluebell.
Of course ran out of placecards this weekend, plus am considering a new project (I know) that requires vellum, so made yet another Source run this morning. Unfortunately I forgot my receipt with the $10 off coupon. Boo. And even though I'm in their system, they wouldn't honor it. Double boo.
I left with my (non-discounted) purchases, and stopped by Paper Boy on Belmont. Where I found even prettier vellum, by the way. This may be it for me and the Source. We had a good run.
I don't know where the time went. The wedding is just over two weeks away now. Between the boxes of weddings gifts and other wedding-related stuff, our condo is closing in on us. There are many things still to be done, including a lot of picking up of things (my dress from the tailor, our wedding bands, etc., and while we're at it, should probably get that pile of clothes from the dry cleaners too), appointments of various kinds (facial, haircut- just a trim!) and more planning. Then there's the matter of work, our full-time jobs that are allowing us to pay for this wonderful celebration, which are inconveniently getting busier and busier for both of us as the wedding approaches. Despite all the craziness, I feel fairly calm and just keep thinking:
We aren't doing a candy buffet, even though it would make total sense since I'm such a candy freak. We will be putting candy into our out-of-towner bags, however, so while I was checking online last night for any good candy deals, I discovered that Hershey's Gifts is closing. Boo...sad. But the good news is everything is now 25% off until July 31 including these:
Not the wedding day, but earlier this week the fiance and I took a day off from work and accomplished the following:
1.) Obtained our marriage license from the Chicago City Clerk. All things considered, this was much less painful than we imagined. I've spent hours in that same City Clerk's office before trying to get a copy of a birth certificate or passport or something, so I was expecting a long wait, a lot of form-filling and general unpleasantness. But I think we were out of there in 10 minutes, and the woman helping us was nice.
2.) Picked our wedding cake. Our Blackstone Hotel reception includes a cake from Take the Cake, which I'm even now more excited about since we met with Mary Winslow. I'll save the details for the post-wedding vendor reviews, but will just say if I had to grade Take the Cake now it would be an A+!
3.) Purchased our wedding bands. We went back to the jeweler that the fiance worked with (secretly) to custom design my engagement ring. Again, will save the details for review time, but really nice people to work with and produce some beautiful jewelry.
4.) Food tasting at the Blackstone. We asked two friends to accompany us to our tasting, one for her food allergy knowledge and tendency to voice her opinions (and I mean that in the most loving way :) and the other chosen by the fiance for another guy's perspective. It took us about three hours, but we settled on five passed hors d'oeuvres and the four entrees from which our guests will choose.
It was a long day, and at the end of it I was completely full and didn't think I'd be able to eat again for a few days (of course I was able to eat two pieces of pizza for lunch the next day just fine, thank you!). Totally well worth it, and now I can't believe how fast the real wedding day is approaching.
I fully intended to create a customized stamp to go along with the airplane/Chicago invitation theme. Actually, I got as far as creating the stamp:
Our would-be Zazzle stamp
but in the end we would have lost a few days, and were already behind in getting the invitations out. I'm actually glad now we went with the good old $.61 USPS wedding cake stamps. A6 size envelopes aren't that big, and between the stamp and calligraphy, the envelope would have gotten pretty crowded.
Speaking of calligraphy, I love the way ours turned out:
Rather than sealing up the envelopes up all the way, we stuck a big label on the back. It was easier, plus I thought it would be more likely that people could see the beautiful envelope lining :)
Copycat Alert! I saw these Pica Press labels on Brooklyn Bride ages ago: Here is our version, also designed and printed by Pica Press. I had them made waay before we had even decided on colors, which is why they don't really match anything, but I was at the peak of my just-got-engaged-and-must-buy-things-online phase:
Within the last 48 hours, we have picked up the invitations from our designer, bought $100+ worth of stamps, picked up envelopes from our calligrapher then lined them, stamped, sealed and sent the invites on their way!
The envelopes are from Paper Source (of course!) in Bluebell. I bought their envelope liner template kit ages ago and was glad to put it to good use. I started off lining the envelopes with World Map Wrapping Paper, since the invites have an airplane/map/travel theme to them. Then I found paper with vintage airlines and vintage planes at Paper Studio, which were perfect: Next up...the outside!
Soon after I got engaged, I picked up InStyle Weddings, which included a handy-dandy pullout Wedding Planner checklist. I haven't looked at it in months, but pulled it out the other day. Um...
We just passed the two-months-to-go mark and there are many, many things on the to-do list (yes, we actually do have one) that have yet to be done. Prepare to be amazed and horrified. (Fellow brides-to-be with their s**t together, seriously, you may want to avert your eyes.)
10 Things That We Haven't Done Yet That the InStyle Weddings Planner Tells me I Should Have Done by Now:
Mail the invitations OK, we're a few days away from this still. I miscalculated the timing and so while we have the invites now (yay!), they are still being addressed.
Hair and makeup trial Don't really have an excuse for why this isn't done yet.
Get dress altered My two dresses (still haven't figured out which one I'm going with yet) have sat, unaltered, on a chair in our dining room for the last few months. I have plans this weekend to take one in to a tailor this weekend, so there's progress on this in that I thought about it.
Buy shoes and accessories I keep going back and forth between buying ridiculously expensive beautiful shoes that I will most likely remove two hours into the night, or just getting pretty practical ones.
Book hair and makeup appointments Don't have an excuse for why this isn't done yet either, except that I don't know what I want to be doing or where I want to be on Wedding Morning (will I want to sleep in? get up early and work out? will I be at the condo or the hotel?).
Schedule a rehearsal We're doing a non-denominational ceremony, that we expect to last 20 minutes or less. I'm sure we'll rehearse, but at this point scheduling something might be a bit premature.
Choose menus We've still haven't decided between a sit-down dinner or buffet. But we have scheduled a tasting, so I think we're halfway to this one.
Reserve honeymoon flights Kind of hard to reserve flights when you don't know where you're going.
Finalize all decor for your ceremony and reception Yeah, ok. Need to do this.
Order and size wedding bands We have plans to take care of this next weekend while we're in St. Louis for a wedding, so we can avoid the ridiculous Chicago sales tax.
So there you have it. Clearly most of these things aren't done because of indecisiveness...and maybe some laziness. I promise to come back to this post-wedding and either lament or applaud my own tardiness.
I'm off to a bridal shower this weekend for one of my bridesmaids who's getting married later this month. The shower is being thrown by her little sister (and the bridesmaids, so says the invitation). I haven't heard a peep from the sister, however, despite emails and a phone call offering to help. And I'm a bridesmaid! Sigh. This is but one reason why I am not a shower fan, and politely refused any myself.
On a good note, our invitations are just about to hit the (letter)press. I'm having the envelopes calligraphied? Calligraphy-addressed? Well, whatever. They'll look nice!
Speaking of envelopes, I'm sure I've seen these at Paper Source a million times before, but I guess they're just more relevant now, and I love them:
I finally finished the photo booth bookmark favors hoo-ray. Since we're not getting anything printed on the photo strips themselves, I printed Paper Source khaki-colored paper and labels (I started with labels, then moved to the paper since it was easier) with info: then wrapped them around the bookmark: I now have a stack of 191 ready to go (nine were harmed in the making of the bookmarks):
Our guest list is inching toward 200. We're not inviting a lot of extended family, so most of our guests fall into a distinct category: immediate family, work friends, college friends, high school friends and Chicago friends we've picked up along the way. There's not a lot of crossover, since we grew up in different parts of the US and went to different colleges. I've always loved "six degrees of separation", though, and I bet if we put our heads together long enough we'd figure out there are connections between our guests (aside from the connection to us, of course).
We did Bike the Drive this morning. I've always wanted to do this annual Chicago ride, but always seemed to be out of town on Memorial Day weekend (or didn't have a bike).
I'm kicking myself that I never thought of it, but I totally would have had our engagement pictures taken during Bike the Drive. I'm told the light at that time of the morning is perfect for photography, and when else are you going to be able to get pictures in the middle of Lake Shore Drive? For me the big downside would be probably not being able to get my hair and makeup done because it's so early (I can't do my own. I just make a mess.), but I bet it'd be worth it.
Because I am a former mixed-tape-making geek, I want to do a CD favor for our wedding. Knowing how I tend to quit on long and involved DIY projects, however, I decided to break it down and just make them for the wedding party. That seems manageable enough...for now.
I can't remember how I found Jewelboxing (perhaps here?): Plus I was excited to learn that they are Chicago-based so I can support my local peeps.
Initially I wanted to Photoshop the fiance and I into a cheesy 70s kind of album cover, but I couldn't find one suitably cheesy enough. So I think I'm going with Plan B to Photoshop a Chicago album cover. So this:
I've made lots of wedding-related online purchases in the last few months. I'm getting better now, but for awhile there if it being sold on Etsy, I was buying it! Anyhow, what I love almost as much as seeing the packages arrive in the mail ("the daily box", as my fiance has taken to calling them) are the personal thank yous, pretty paper and even free samples (my favorite:) that accompany the order:
When I bought my condo a couple of years ago, I think I went to the Bloomingdales Medinah Home Store at least once a week. They've got everything you need for kitchen/dining and even have furniture on the top floor, which is so convenient for us city-dwellers.
Three+ months to go, I have nothing (wedding-related) to do. There are things left on the check list: still need to get my dress altered, flowers need to be ordered, should get a hair and makeup trial at some point, food to be tasted and 10 lbs. need to be lost (by me). But I'm pretty much DIY-done (except for the sad, plain card box that's sitting on our floor). The invitation wording has been sent to our designer so she can work her magic. Our vendors have been hired and deposits paid.
I can't tell if this is wedding burnout or I'm just forgetting things that really need to be done. For now, I guess, I will just enjoy the calm.
Wedding day is just over three months away now, so my quest to lose 10 lbs. is starting in earnest. I've really slacked off on the fitness thing for the last two years. I've never been any good at it, but I used to run, and even managed to haul myself over a few full marathon finish lines. I'm heading West this weekend and will be running the 5K part of this: I hope that the run will jump-start my renewed interest in working out!
I finished the Bridesmaids Guides. We've postponed the Non-Shower, so I'm going to put them in the mail at some point in the next few days (hopefully).
These RuMe bags were a "Today's Delight" on Delight.com a few weeks back, so I snagged one for each of the five bridesmaids in different colors: I also had a custom rubber stamp made from Impress Rubber Stamps with our date and "Chicago, Illinois" (that's what the two blobs at the bottom of the heart say, I promise): and stamped some 5x7 muslin bags to package everything up: *with thanks/apologies to Bunny Cakes!
We are having a photo booth at our reception, the kind where guests will leave one copy for the guest book and take the other home. I thought it'd be nice to give the guests a vinyl bookmark sleeve for their photo, and to pretty it up, put some printed paper in the sleeve.
Idiot that I am, I cut the strips the exact width of the vinyl sleeve...which I didn't get until today. Why I thought the paper would slide easily into the sleeve, I have no idea. And so tonight I spent some of my evening trimming:
Since I've been on a crafting kick lately (and in anticipation of my own wedding photos I'll have later this year), I thought why not make my own? I found Behrenberg Glass online and bought a few glass trays of varying sizes, all for under $10 apiece!
I'm starting to put together treats for my five bridesmaids. I have a feeling that our time together during the wedding weekend is going to be a bit chaotic, so next month when we get together for my Non-Shower I'd like to give them a few small thank you gifts.
While I was hibernating/crafting last weekend, I finally assembled it, and it's now a prototype for a Bridemaid's Guide that I'll make for each of the ladies:
In addition to an overview of their duties (which basically consist of them showing up and having a good time), there are Bridesmaids Dos and Don'ts ("DO take time to enjoy being in Chicago", "DON'T let me eat or drink too much!") and a phone list. Most importantly the guide has a note telling the gals why they are important to us, and what it means to us to have them standing by our sides on our wedding day.
This prototype took about 20 minutes to assemble, so I'm hoping this is one DIY project I can handle without too many blunders.
Blech. Will spring ever come? It was a good weekend, though, to stay in and line some envelopes:
Don't ask me why the envelopes and cards are orange and green. I love them-- they're from Erin Condren, but we don't really have a color scheme going and highly unlikely it will include orange and green, so I don't know where those two came from. Anyhow, I used Martha Stewart scrapbook paper for the lining, which matched perfectly.
Two things to note in the picture above (three, if you count the banana that needs to get thrown out. Gross.) : my new Fiskars paper trimmer and Orla Kiely tote (with blue flowers) . This afternoon the fiance picked up both of those things for me (plus some other crafting tools) as a surprise while he was at Target. I've said before my fiance rocks, and I really mean it!
There's about four and a half months until the big day, and since we've knocked most of the big stuff off the to-do list, I'm feeling a bit weird about having time on my hands. I have a short list of DIY projects that I want to do, but I'm a little nervous about doing them so far ahead of time because I'm afraid I'll change my mind about what I've done and I'll probably find myself the night before the wedding throwing penny candy into Ziplocs and calling it an OOT bag.
Oh, and there's also the matter of me being not-so-great at crafting. I could spend hours at Paper Source or online admiring the handiwork of genuinely talented people. I have good intentions. I even have equipment! I bought a Xyron on eBay and I own a bone folder!
But what usually happens is that I'll start a project, then I'll get distracted by work...or maybe Make Me a Supermodel is on. Or else I'll get in way over my head, like I did for my sister's wedding a few years ago (Oh what? You need me to bake, ice, bag and label 250 personalized cookies for your reception? No problem.).
I guess the card box I just bought isn't going to decorate itself, so I should get on it. Right after 30 Rock.