Friday, January 29, 2010

Breath in with the good....and out with the bad

So i'm going to take some time to talk about the not so pleasant side of planning a wedding since we all go through it in some shape or form. My FI and come from two totally different families and when planning a wedding that is going to become obvious and prove to be a hurdle that you have to just get over.
My family is very close knit and my parents have been married for 41 years and growing up we were spoiled with love rather than tangible items and it's been something I cherish very dear to my heart and feel blessed to have a family like mine. MY fiance's family wasn't so lucky and his parents divorced when he was 6 years old and he was forced to grow up at a young age and take care of the chores while his mom worked 3 jobs just to put some food on the table and keep a roof above their heads. His father wasn't part of the picture much after they divorced and it wasn't until my FI was in his early 20's that he reconnected with his father. His father remarried and had two sons, one of which is named after my FI since his father didn't think he would ever get to see his son again. Not sure how true that story is but oh well.
On with my story.....his father still hasn't been much of my fiance's life and it's been a disappointment during the wedding as well. We have always done the right thing and still to this day it doesn't change anything. When we got engaged it took his father two months to call and congratulate us! We recently had an engagement party and his reason for not coming was because his boss was having a surprise 60th birthday. We found this out on Christmas day mind you. Now i'm not used to this type of disappointment from a family member and although this isn't a surprise to me since i've seen my FI go through a lot with his family, this is now affecting me since this is now OUR wedding. I tried to justify why his answer was ok but I came up with nothing. There was just no other reason that would be acceptable for him to miss his son's engagement party. Today I received another e-mail (yeah we received the engagement party news via e-mail on x-mas day as well) from his step-mom asking us for money that my FI borrowed from them a couple years back that he paid them back but they refused at the time. Now all of sudden they want their money back in a time when we are trying to save money to pay for a wedding!!!!!!! ugh!
My point to this post is that as us brides continue to plan our wedding there is going to be times when we just want to give up and elope or just not invite anyone to the wedding just to avoid any more drama. And for me I just plug my ear phones in and play Canon in D by Pachebel and I take a deep breath and visualize walking down the aisle with this gorgeous gown staring in the eyes of the man i'm going to marry and seeing the smile on his face light up at the first sight of me.....and I start to calm down and realize this is just another bump in the road that you get over.
What do you do to relieve stress from everyday wedding planning? Do you take a bath? Read a book? Maybe go to the gym to let off steam?

The final product!

So I realize that i'm not an expert at taking a photo of my ring nor does it come out as AMAZING as in person but this is the best I can do until I figure out how to take a great photo. It's too bad our photographer did get a close up of our ring in our e-pics (that story to follow shorly). This puppy is 1.71 carats of the most perfect cut, clarity, and color in the center and surrounded by roughly .40 carats (honestly not sure since i'm still waiting on my certificate and appraisal to be delivered).
Honestly, i've been in airports, shopping malls, restaurants and have gotten so many comments on my ring. My girlfriends think he spent over $10K on this ring and I laugh inside because if they only knew he spent under $1500 for the ring. Yes....that wasn't a typo and you read that correctly. It makes more sense to spend the money on a down payment rather than on a ring that to me doesn't have as much meaning at the bond my FI and have with each other and the fact that we want to share the rest of our lives with each other. And besides.....if our 10 year anniversary rolls around he wants to upgrade me he can do that too. ;-)
Would you rather spend money on a bigger diamond or put that money towards a down payment?

It's just as good as the real thing.....

So I explained how we decided on what kind of engagement ring we wanted (i.e. shape, size, setting etc) but I wanted to discuss with you how we decided to buy a lab created diamond instead of a genuine one. I know what your thinking! "You didn't want a real diamond???" BUT before you judge listen to my story first.

Prior to dating my FI, I dated a guy for over 5 years and he watched a show on lab created diamonds. We were intrigued with how they were made and that to the naked eye you could not tell the difference, not even a jeweler (unless he used his magnifying glass)! So I always kept that in the back of my head as a great alternative. So once my FI and I discussed getting married I brought up that idea and he thought it was an interesting concept. My FI is going through his Electrician apprenticeship and the pay isn't exactly great until he becomes a journeyman; which is in about 2 years. This is a long process and takes him almost 7 years to complete and I didn't want him to struggle to try and save up thousands of dollars for this ring when we could be economical and go with this alternative, which I think is actually a better one!

So I googled 'lab created diamonds' and came up with a few companies like which I loved but you couldn't customize and could only buy what the offered online. So my search continued and I stumbled upon a company called Diamond Nexus Labs. I studied their website up and down and became even more educated on how these beautiful creations are formed. For instance, did you know that the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA's crowns are designed from this company??? In today's economy this trend is catching on and even celebrities are buying 'green diamonds' since they are the best alternative to a natural diamond.

So I ordered their catalog which is 750 pages HUGE with over 10,000 kinds of rings to select from. Talk about overload!! So I took one afternoon to start searching through the book and marking the ones that I liked. The plan was that I would mark the ones I liked and when my FI was ready to purchase a ring he could pick from the ones marked. It actually wasn't as hard as I was expecting since I knew what I wanted (pave setting, pear shaped center stone). The company also sent us a $100 off any purchase over $200 before September 30th! How cool is that?!

At first I was embarrassed to admit that my diamond was not natural but to be honest it's just as good, if not better, than most diamonds out there and it didn't take blood, sweat, and tears to find in a under-privileged country. All diamonds have a perfect cut, clarity, and color and come appraised and ceritified by the American International Gemstones (AIG).

Were you open to other diamond alternatives? Maybe a colored gemstone instead? How did your family and friends react?

We have a winner!! Tell them what they won Bob!

So to continue my wedding dress shopping experience is finally coming to an end.

I spent Christmas in Aurora, IL (yes, WAYNES WORLD....WAYNES time...EXCELLENT! sorry I just had to!) with my family this year and it was the first time they had seen me and John since our engagement (Side note: my family is spread out so my parents live in Florida, my oldest sister lives in Aurora, IL and my middle sister lives in CT). I decided that this would be a great time to look for a dress since I wouldn't see my parents until March for my sisters baby shower. I was super excited to show my mom the 'WOW' dress that I tried on in my previous dress hunt. I decided to call the bridal salon where I made my appointment to see if they had the sample dress available. The lady informed me that they did not have the dress sample and that it was sold a few weeks ago. NOO!!!!! So I decided to call 3 other bridal salons in the area and to no avail! Ugh! So I kept my appointment anyways and went in with an open mind.

It was the day after Christmas and I was super excited to try on dresses especially since it meant a lot that my mom could finally see me in a wedding gown. This moment was very special to me since I dreamed of this since I was like 4. So my sisters, my mom and I arrived and it was a tiny salon but the staff was very warm and welcoming. The consultant asked me what I was looking for and I rambled off two style numbers by Paloma Blanca and she quickly took them from the rack. We then proceeded to look at other dresses while I explained my budget and what I was looking for. My mother came with me while my sisters planted themselves on the couch. I found a few dresses and we headed into the dressing room to start trying them on. The first dress was big and beautiful and heavy! It had beaded straps that wouldn't even stay up and the train was loooooong. I walked out of the room and I shook my head and went right back into the dressing room. I kept staring at the Paloma Blanca dresses and wanted to just go straight for them but the consultant told me to wait and try some others on. Boo! So I tried on some more dresses and to be honest it kind of a was a blur, nothing screamed out at me "PICK ME!" and my family wasn't fond of any of them. Finally I tried on the 'fun' Paloma Blanca dress that I had on in my last escapade with the cool pockets. I liked it but I didn't LOVE it and my sisters response was, "it makes you look pregant." Gee thanks! So I nixed that dress and went to try on the other dress that I hadn't tried on before but loved it from the website. This dress was also one that my mother picked out on the website. It was not strapless too.

I used to think that lace was not something for me but this dress just molded to my body and amazed me once she zipped it up. The top is lace with an open back that is just stunning.

It fit like a glove, well a tight glove. It was beautiful and so I walked out and my mother and sisters gasp and I knew they loved it. During this time there was also another bride trying on dresses and since it was a small shop we had to alternate viewing the dress in the big full length mirror. Well she seemed to hog the mirror most of the time so I could only really see the dress from the waist up in a mirror where my family was sitting. I had this dress on for an hour and I still kept saying to myself, 'that other dress is still in my head'. I started to worry that I would cave and by this dress because everyone else in the store loved it. And don't get me wrong I loved it too but that other dress was bugging me. We tried on veils and figuring out what would work since the top was lace. Finally the other girl and her family left and I got the opportunity to really see the dress in full length and walk towards the mirror like it was my FI and then BAM! That's when it all sank in and the overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness set in. This was it I told myself. Twirling around and walking with my back facing the mirror to see what it looked like and I knew this was the dress.

This picture does not justice to how it looks in person, trust me! I won't need to have much alterations since the length is perfect (i'm not wearing anything but socks) and it fits almost perfect. When I say almost I mean it's a tag snug and the back fat needs to disappear which means I need to get my butt in gear. So depending on how much I lose will determine if I need to have it taken in.
So I told the lady, 'I'll take it!' and we also celebrated! Then I asked the sale girl how much it was and she dropped a bomb. It was $500 over my budget and my jaw dropped. I realized that I picked this dress before I told the girl my budget. ugh!!!! My mother slided over to me and said she'll pay the difference and that it doesn't matter since this is THE dress. I love my mother and it was such a generous offering and I will forever be grateful to my parents for this.
The feeling you get when you have bought the dress is one feeling I enjoyed having and honestly I still get when I look at pictures and think about the way it will look.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words...

I wanted to take a little break from the dress shopping to talk about one of my favorite I actually considered going to school for photography after I won an award in my HS art show for a photo I took of an ex-boyfriend buuuuuut I decided to stick with majoring in Travel & Tourism instead although continue to have a love for photography. This part of the wedding planning was important to me and I felt that I would skim out or eliminate other aspects of the wedding in order to spend the money on a fantastic photographer. In my eyes a picture can last a lifetime and I want to make sure that every aspect of our special day is capture in a special way (ok didn't mean to sound cheesy and rhyme but it's true!). The resort offers an on-site photographer who is extremely reasonable in price but looking at the photos I just wasn't blown away and their photos didn't seem to be unique. It wasn't until one day I stumbled upon a Facebook group called 'Majestic Colonial Brides' that was my savoir!! Here I could speak to tons of past and future brides that got married at the resort. This is where I learned that most brides share a photographers travel cost to come down and shoot their weddings! That's genius! I checked out several photographers websites and the photos that have been posted previously and this one photographer kept popping up in the photos that I loved! Michael Steingard eh?! I found out that him and his uncle, also known as PhotoPhil, shoot about 55 + weddings a year at the resort! Plus they also handle the photography for the resorts official website. With that being said I knew I had to hire him! I mean just look at his amazing photographs:

Was it hard to choose a photographer? Do you like candid shots or traditional posed?

The day has finally arrived....part 2

So part of me wanted to continue looking for a dress since I was concerned that the one I liked from David's was a bit too heavy for a destination wedding. I decided to check out RK Bridal in the city by myself one Saturday morning in December. Now you might be wondering A) why would I go alone and B) where is my mother during this entire process?! Well my mother lives in Florida and I wouldn't be able to see her until Christmas so I wanted to weed out all the bad dresses so that when it came time to look at dresses with her, we wouldn't take all day. I went by myself because my sister lives in CT and was unable to come down and I just wanted to get in and get out. And that's exactly what happened! I chose RK Bridal because you don't need an appointment and can just walk in. Well I was completely overwhelmed when I walked in. It was a big loft like room with tons and tons of dresses and I had to put my name on a list and when the next available consultant was ready she would call my name. In the mean time you were free to walk around the room and pick out any dress you want (maximum of 7 dresses). This is where I wish I had someone with me! The dresses were organized by designer which was great but I couldn't find the dresses I like from Mikaella and was getting a little worried that this visit was a mistake. So I looked around starting sweating bullets trying to hold the dresses and also push my way through the racks to see the dresses. FINALLY I realized that if I had listened to the lady upon arrival I would see that there was a designated spot to put the dresses we selected while waiting to try them on. DUH Kristen! So finally my name was called and the lady was super helpful when I tried to explain that I was by myself and that the dresses I wanted weren't available. She left the room and came back a couple minutes later with a bunch of dresses. The first dress was a chiffon flowing dress that just looked drab on me. Yuck! The second dress knocked the socks right off of me. It was gorgeous and it hugged my curves perfectly! I was in complete and utter shock. And I found out that it was the sister company to Mikaella called Paloma Blanca, score! I tried on a couple more but nothing compared to that first dress and it was light too! Another dress caught my eye and it was fun and different plus it had pockets which I thought was awesome. Oh the decisions to make! I was super excited to show my mother the dresses in a couple of weeks and had the lady write down the style number.

The WOW dress

The fun dress

Was your dress shopping experience stressful and overwhelming? Were you torn between two dresses?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The day has finally arrived.... try on wedding dresses! I have been dreaming about this day since I was little girl(although one rainy summer day back in 2001 my mother thought it would be fun to go into David's Bridal to 'look around' and she then proceeded to tell me to try on one dress which I did soooo technically this isn't my first time BUT this is finally OFFICIAL!). My MOH, which is my sister, and I headed to David's Bridal in early November to check out some dresses and to get an idea. She is 3 months pregnant so I figured this would be a good time to look before she gets too big to help me with the dresses. So I printed out a good 8 or 9 dresses that I wanted to try on and the sales lady went off to dress land and brought back most of the dresses. One dress in particular caught my eye as well as my sisters but we would try on others first. I knew I wanted strapless and something with a train...and nothing too form fitting since these hips will scream if I do. The first dress goes on and i'm not feeling it. The rouching (sp?) accented my stomach area the wrong way. Next dress...same thing. A couple dresses in I tried on a two-toned dress that also caught my eye since I started searching and it fit beautifully but it didn't 'WOW' me. Also realizing that every dress was bringing out areas that I need to improve on in the gym kind of sucked to be honest but we keep trudging on. Finally THE dress was the last one we tried on and it was gorgeous. It was one from their Oleg Cassini collection and would have to ordered. Man was it heavy which started to concern me when thinking about getting married in the caribbean in 95 degree weather. I absolutely LOVED the back of the dress the most and it just totally screamed ME! Although it was more of a traditional dress and I wasn't exactly having a traditional wedding. So I went home all beaming but was curious to see other dresses.
Did you find your dress on the first visit or did it take you a couple of stores to find THE dress?

When it rains it pours!

So i've been fairly lucky in past years to avoid the curse of the 'year of weddings' where you find yourself attending 5 or 6 weddings in one year....and I guess my ticket is up. Two of our friends announced their engagement earlier last year and will be getting married in June and August. And after our engagement my best friend also got engaged a couple weeks later and was set on getting married a couple weeks after us (10-10-10 to be honest and clearly just for the date). I'm already a bridesmaid in one wedding (the August one) and my best friend also asked the request to be in her wedding as well. I'll be honest I was excited to be in weddings considering the only ones i've been in thus far were my sisters, but both weddings are within weeks of mine and that's a lot of time and money! I had to decline my best friends offer which was extremely hard but then again she declined mine since it would cost a lot more for her to travel to the caribbean than it would if I had a traditional wedding so it ended up being a mutal understanding. So now we have 3 weddings plus ours next year and it's starting to really hit me that it's happening. Bridesmaid newsletters being sent weekly and ideas on what to get the bride as a gift from the wedding there...deposits here....deposits there. ahhhhhhhhh!
To make matters worse my FI's car isnt' running properly and we've been spending money to fix it but the mechanic doesn't seem to fix the problem so we've ended up spending more money and the issue is STILL not resolved. So today's theme is "When It Rains It Pours!"

Anybody else find yourself having days like mine?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Diamonds are a girls best friend: The Proposal

So now that we established Pear cut as our center stone and pave setting it was now time to wait.....and wait.....haha just kidding! I knew he had to ask my parents for their blessing and since they live in Florida and were visiting this past summer it was obvious that a proposal was not in our near future. It actually wasn't a surprise to me as to when he would ask for their blessing since it was the last weekend they were in town (Labor Day weekend) and I knew he didn't ask yet.

See we have an extremely open relationship and share every detail and thought we have so he admitted he hadn't asked them yet. LOL I woke up late Labor Day morning and came downstairs to find my father wrapping his arms around me and saying "you're my last one" and it was clear that he finally did ask. NOW it was only a matter of time and because I knew killed me! I wish now that I didn't know because every weekend or any hint of him acting differently and I was a on my toes waiting for the moment. Not exactly the way I would have imagined it.

We were headed to Mexico in a few weeks and many of my friends and co-workers mentioned that he's going to do it on vacation but I knew he wouldn't because he wouldn't leave that ring in a hotel room safe in a foreign country. Weeks passed and I was getting really antsy and again I wish it was a complete surprise because I was getting impatient. It wasn't until we went up to CT to have brunch with my sister and brother in law that the day finally happened.

We were on our way up and I was on the phone with my sister to let her know we were on our way and would see them soon. My FI mentioned to me that he wanted to drive by our old stomping ground and see the houses we grew up in. I was not keen on the idea since we already drove by our old neighborhood a few weeks back and we were going to be late for brunch. I am one of those people who keep a time schedule and cannot be late! So I got a bit annoyed and then BAM! It hit me...I sat in my seat and realized this could be it! and to this day he has no clue that I knew beforehand what he was that's hush hush! =)

We drove by our old houses and up the street and it was all too familiar yet houses have changed and the street didnt' seem so long like we when we were children. He stopped the car and said he wanted to check out the old tree fort and asked me to get out. I had flip flops on and it rained the night before so rain plus dirt = mud and that sucked! BUT I kept my mouth shut and got out and he looked up at the tree and realized there were only two pieces of wood left from what used to be our tree fort. He realized his plan was not going to go according to his plan and I laughed when he said that.

Now my FI is amazing with his words and I was looking forward to his speech and how much I would cry from it. I mean I pictured this day for a while now and to my surprise he looked a deer in headlights now that his plan was shifted and it was kind of funny. He kept stroking my arm and saying how much he loved me and I knew he was having a hard time getting his words out which was very cute.

Back in my first post I mentioned how I played spin the bottle with 3 other boys and it was then that he started his speech saying something along the lines of, "20 years ago you took a chance on me out of 3 boys...." Wow! haha! After a few more sweet words he got down on one knee and proposed and I think I said yes before he got the last word out. And there it was the most amazing shiny and blinding! It was one of the best moments of my life and I love how symbolic the proposal was and where it took place.

Did you have a unique proposal? Did you have an idea it was going to happen soon?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Diamonds are a girls best friend! Part 1

Last Valentine's Day my FI and I spent the weekend in the city with another couple and decided to take a stroll down to the diamond district to take a "look" at rings. We talked about marriage for a while now but never got serious enough to start looking. I honestly could have looked at rings a year earlier BUT I think this stage in a relationship is where you leave the ball in his court because I just didn't want to pressure him into anything! If you haven't been to the diamond district it's pretty much a block long of tons of little jewelry shops on each side of the street and even if you window shop they come out and ask if you need any help! I normally avoid walking down that block when i'm in the city since it can get a tad annoying but today I was totally ready. Little did we know that most shops are closed on Sundays and that limited us to only a handful of shops. We walked into one store and realized it was about a dozen jewelry stores all connected by their jewelry cases. Not exactly what I was expecting for our first time since we were practically attacked when we walked into the door. So we hit the first jeweler and express our thoughts and feelings. I thought I already knew what I wanted....pave setting with princess cut. I fell in love with my sister's MOH at her wedding and said to myself, "I want THAT ring!" Well they didn't have that exact ring but I tried on a princess solitare ring and to my surprise it just didn't 'WOW!' me. Ugh, bummer! And I knew I didn't want round because in my opinion that was just too plain and boring for me. Then my FI suggested the same stone that was in the ring he bought me in Mexico a few months back. Mind you this ring turned my finger green but it was beautiful. LOL The ring he bought me in Mexico was pear shaped and never in a million years would I have thought of having a pear shaped engagment ring. So I tried on a solitare to my amazement I LOVED it!

Did you know what kind of ring you wanted and it turned out not to be the one you liked on?

Be kind and rewind

Ok so let's just rewind for a second and talk more about this kiss. I mentioned that we played spin the bottle and obviously the bottle landed on me. Now at the time this was not the first time I kissed a boy BUT this was the first kiss for my fiance kissed a girl (the crowd goes 'awwww'). From then on we would sneak around and give each other kisses (well pecks) and it was cute and fun. Like I mentioned before we only hung out for one summer and one day we were hanging out by ourselves near the tree forts and he decided to french kiss me. Well it was more like suck my face than a sweet french kiss ha ha! And from that point on I never saw him again.....until 3 years ago.

The funny part is that when we reconnected I admitted to him that was the reason why I didn't talk to him after that. So it's always been an inside joke that I find to be a great story to tell our kids some day. Never in a million years would I have imagined to have a sweet love story to tell people, I just thought I would say, "yeah we met at this bar one night." ha ha! When we met again for the first time, I flew to NY to see him and we spent the weekend in the city. I was nervous for our first kiss due to our history but I wasn't too worried. I mean after all he's had practice! And sure enough it was amazing......not to sound cheezy but the kind that gave me a million butterflies in my stomach! To this day i'm still giddy at the thought of his kisses.
What do you remember most about your first kiss?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wanna play spin the bottle?

So you're probably wondering why I called my blog "It all started with spin the bottle?!" Well since I was a huge tom boy back in the day I spent my summers hanging out with the kids up the street who were all boys. We would ride our bikes, dig holes in the sands and build tree forts. I met this one boy who lived on the street next to mine this one summer and we all decided to play spin the bottle. It wasn't until the proposal, which we will get to later, that I realized I played spin the bottle with three boys! Go me! Well I only kissed one boy and little did I know that boy would turn out to be the love of my life and now my fiance! This entire journey that i'm currently on all started with spin the bottle......

Since my fiance is 3 years older than me we parted ways after that summer since he moved up to junior high and I stayed behind. I would see him every blue moon around town over the years and remember that fun filled summer but never thought we would reconnect. It wasn't until one day in April of 2006 I decided to search a social media website for people in my hometown that suddenly out of nowhere I found him!

Nervously I decided to write him a message that went along the lines of something like, "Hey! I don't know if you remember me but I'm that dorky girl down the street that played spin the bottle with you when we were younger. How are you?" I pressed send and sat in my seat questioning whether that was the right approach. Well a day later I get a response back and to my surprise it wasn't just a quick hello, it was a full paragraph! From there we exchanged words here and there and it wasn't until a couple months later that we actually spoke over the phone and from there it became a whirlwind journey!

I lived in Illinois at the time and he lived in New York but it wasn't long before (6 months to be exact) I decided to move back home and really take this relationship to the next level. And 3 years later we have decided to take it to another level...marriage!

Ants In My Pants!

I've come to realize that I love reading blogs about weddings and get so excited being able to share memorable moments and ideas with others (thanks to weddingbee!) that I needed to create my own blog because honestly talking to myself about the wedding is starting to look kind of crazy. Sooooo...da-dah! My official blog has begun...welcome! My adventures in wedding planning! I need to focus my energy on my writing as way to help control the every day stresses of planning a wedding. So stay tuned for more to how It all started with spin the bottle....