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We’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons in preparation for our first dance. It’s also doubled as premarital counseling, so we’re feeling extra prepared for the big event.

Dear family,

I love you.

To all of my uncles and cousins and aunts and friends and fiances of groomsmen, thanks for celebrating with us at our shower. It really meant the world to us, and we couldn’t be part of a better family.

Patrick always teases me about how I call everyone a cousin. Second cousins, children of second cousins, third cousins, tenth cousins – all cousins. I refer to my mom’s cousin’s wives as “my cousin so-and-so” and I refer to all of my great aunts as “my Aunt so-and-so.” And then I’m stuck explaining the dynamics of having a family as marvelous and Irish as ours. Yes – Irish – that means everyone is somebody’s cousin, and we’re all related and that means we’d do anything for each other. Because what’s the most important thing in your life if not family? And that is how it goes. And that’s how our family has always worked.

I was glad that Patrick was finally able to meet my extended family, and he was finally able to see why I go on and on about family events, why I love all of them so much and why saying “cousin” is just so. much. easier.

I wanted to reach out to all of you – my family – particularly those who took part in arranging the most lovely wedding shower for Patrick and me. It was a little strange being back near my old neck of the woods with Patrick, it felt like the merging of two lifetimes.

I like that this family has always been close-knit and ever loving. I hadn’t seen so many of you in so many years that my heart filled with joy to see your smiling faces. I’m grateful for the way you welcomed Patrick with hugs and handshakes and Irish smiles. And it felt like home.

I was so impressed with the attention that was put into every detail. The font of our cake mirrored our save-the-date card. And the color was absolutely perfect. This cake was delicious, by the way, and Patrick and I were able to take the top layer home with us to Orlando. I have to admit I ate most of it myself.

The favors were adorable! Honeydew-scented Yankee candles wrapped with lace and bows. Not only did it keep with the color scheme, but they smelled delicious and made for perfect little keepsakes to remember the day.

And then there were gifts. Oh so many gifts!

After the event was over, I told Patrick we should get married more often. We REALLY cleaned up at this thing! Thanks again for the generosity and thoughtfulness that went into the planning and purchasing of gifts. I’m so very grateful. And thanks for all the lime green wrapping paper, that makes me smile.

One of the most beautiful and artistically made gifts was this gift from my cousin Beth. Who, for the record, is actually my mom’s cousin. Though only Patrick cares about making that distinction. It’s a full set of four bath towels, four hand towels and four wash cloths. You’d never guess, right? BECAUSE IT LOOKS GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT.

The topper is engraved with our names and wedding date, and it will most certainly be on display at the wedding. Thanks, Beth. And thanks for helping so much with the planning process. All of your effort will be forever remembered among the many happy memories from that day.

To my Aunt Sally – Mastermind, Shower Planner Extraordinaire – Thanks for putting in all of the time and effort to throw us such a great shower. Your generosity is unparalleled. I’m touched that you’d put in so much planning to honor our wedding. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And yes, of course you’re my favorite.

So here’s to family: ever growing, ever changing, ever loving, perfect-just-the-way-you-are family.

Thanks.

Love,

Whitney

Thank you to Jennifer Keane and Beth Matijevic for capturing these beautiful photos.

The first step to my centerpiece DIY was to gather up all of my ingredients. Vases are from Ikea. White and chartreuse patterned ribbon was a great find at Michael’s almost two years ago. The chartreuse ribbon is from the Paper Source. I used glue rolls to adhere the ribbons to the vases. The glue rolls are magic – they can turn ANY object into a sticky object. Sort of like small children. Oh, and please ignore the poor quality of these photos. Despite my owning a Canon DSLR, I opted to document the process with my camera phone.

After viewing this bow tutorial, I built what felt like hundreds of bows, but was actually only 24. I’m a total wimp.

Then I cut strips of ribbon and stuck them around the vases, attaching the bows in a way that disguised the overlapping edges of the ribbon. On the tall, cylindrical vases, I added a piece of the chartreuse ribbon to the center of the white ribbon to give it a more intricate, accented look.

Ta da!

Wedding Countdown Ticker

One of the reasons I’m feeling so pleased with my wedding planning thus far is that we’ve chosen vendors who will all come through for us no matter what. We can say with utmost confidence that if anything were to happen: flat tire, sudden case of the flu, etc., any one of these people would do whatever necessary to make my wedding day go smoothly. I’m not just part of some assembly line to them, and while it was hard to find them, I’m glad I searched so thoroughly.

Dorothy Gotlib Photography

Young yet skillful, Dorothy Gotlib’s photos are beautiful and classic. We were willing to splurge on photos knowing that they’d be the piece of our wedding day we could hold onto forever.

The moment I knew it was love: When I found out that she had taken all the photos on display in the event coordinator’s office at the Michigan Union – photos I had admired during my meetings with said coordinator.

First Class Entertainment

Roger Hinchcliff is everything we could want in a DJ. Actually, we’d considered getting a band because the thought of some dude MCing our wedding seemed tacky and lame. Skits and inflatable instruments are most certainly not our style. He is professional and thorough in his planning, and his website allows you to actually create playlists for your big night. He even through in a lighting package.

The moment I knew it was love: When he told me that he refuses to use a fog machine in any of his events for fear of tarnishing his reputation.

Gwen’s Cake Decorating

Gwen is exactly what I was looking for in a cake baker. She has more than 25 years of experience as a cake decorator, and it shines in the beauty of her cakes. Not to mention our cake tasting was the closest I’ve ever been to heaven. Her reasonable prices were also a plus!

The moment I knew it was love: When I tasted her secret-recipe-made-fresh-daily-from-scratch butter cream frosting. Um, YES PLEASE!

I LOVE wedding planning!

Whitney

Our trip was a success!

Ceremony venue: Check!

Reception venue: Check!

Photographer: Check!

Cake baker: Check!

DJ: Check!

Date: GASP! [Drum roll please] CHECK!

MAY 22, 2010. 464 days to go. :)

For being something that is so personal involving Patrick and me, it is certainly surprising how many people we’ve got to include in this production that is our late spring wedding. It’s as though we’re two choreographers and have to make sure each of our players is on board for his or her specific number.

We’ve had our hearts set on a specific date since the beginning of our engagement, which was perfect for all of our vendors the first day we went looking for venues. When we found the ballroom of our dreams, we were given a quote just slightly out of our budget and decided we’d  have to think it over. The good news is it turns out we were just misquoted, and the ballroom is much cheaper than we had originally thought. The bad news is that our date was tentatively on hold when we went back to book it the following day.

We figured we would snatch the following weekend just in case, so we did. This, of course, causes confusion for the photographer and cake baker we found – both of whom had reserved our date for the earlier weekend. So it’s not just about finding vendors that are perfect for our big day, it’s about finding vendors who are perfect for our big day AND have their schedules clear on the same day.

Needless to say, I can understand why people complain of the tediousness of the small details that go into planning a wedding. (Not to mention the fit my grandmother would throw if I dare plan a wedding for a holiday weekend!)

I can’t say that our experience has been stressful or even frustrating. I’m a bit annoyed that the price was misquoted in the first place, but at least we found a place we really love. I think this production is going to be everything we’ve ever dreamed of, and now I’m more excited than ever for opening night!

(Yeah, I know – I took that analogy a bit too far.)

When everything is finally set in stone, we’ll announce the date!

Whitney