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Whitney and I made the long awaited trek upward to Ann Arbor. It is here that we are going to be married and this February trip is the beginning of our planning.

We arrived Saturday afternoon after an absurdly early plane flight from Orlando (our pleasantly humid home) and were quickly swept away by my father to the Middleastern Grocery store. A dozen stuffed grape leaves later we finally made it home to the aging house up in which I grew in which I grew up. My saintly mother’s arms awaited us with hugs.

The only thing that seemed to change in my parents’ home was some new artwork of my father’s adorning the walls and his dent in the far left side of the couch seemed deeper.

The following night Whitney’s mama Terry arrived from a long, snowy and salty drive from Bloomington, IN. She was brave enough to come stay for a couple of days and visit the many vendors and venues we had planned out. I say brave because few make it out of my father’s presence without significant emotional scarring. I’ll say now, she held her own and actually thought he was funny. That’s a first.

Over the course of the next two days Whitney, her mother, my mother and I drove around Ann Arbor visiting several ballrooms, ceremony sites, photographers and (our favorite) cake makers. My greatest fear was not that I wouldn’t find something to suit our ceremony and reception (I’m relatively impartial) but that Whitney wouldn’t find that dream location. I was so proud of her though – even after several misfires she remained happy and calm. Successfully trusting in the process of life (thank you Louise Hay).

The only bad part of our whole journey was the 80 degree temperature difference from Orlando to Ann Arbor, but judging by our Facebook profile pictures we even had some fun with that.

I think we pretty much got what we came for: a ceremony venue, a reception venue, a photographer, a cake baker, a candle stick maker, a good dose of my father’s harsh humor, a tuna fish sandwich from my mom, frostbite, a cold, a reminder of why we moved to Florida and three pairs of really cool shoes that I had left behind.

Patrick

Dressed in white

This weekend I had my “try on” appointment at the bridal salon, not to be confused with an actual fitting. It was a great day. The gown was wonderful, and it looks even better than all the photos I had been looking at for the past six months (which just shows that the length of time it took for my dress to be made is longer than some engagements!). My grandmother happily went along with me and was just as in awe of the dress as I was. She even bought me a lovely jewelry set to match my gown.

Because the dress is a surprise for my handsome hubby-to-be, I can’t go into any details on this post. But while I was standing on the pedastal in my fitting room surrounded on all sides by mirrors, I thought about Patrick and how lucky I am to be marrying him. I looked at myself while wearing the most beautiful dress I’ve ever put on and felt as though I was in the middle of a fairy tale – I’ve definitely got the prince!

Whitney

From Mitch and Christina’s down-home Georgia wedding to Jonny and Sarah’s classic vintage affair, to Angie and Linnie’s romantic beach setting, Patrick and I have seen so many beautiful weddings this year. It’s given us a chance to do many things, but the two most important are 1) to appreciate and celebrate that love is in the center of our lives and 2) to steal ideas. Well, not really steal them. Ok, fine. Steal them.

We spent last week in New York City to celebrate the wedding of Patrick’s brother, Andrew, and the love of his life, Cherie. It was a great weekend of celebrating, and I was able to meet Patrick’s extended family.

The ceremony was a traditional Persian ceremony, which meant incorporating a number of symbolic gestures into the ceremony. It was peaceful and beautiful, and it was so happy. The beginning of the processional really set a tone for the rest of the evening, and people cheered loudly as the bridal party walked down the aisle. I LOVE THIS. So, if you’re a guest and you’re reading this – CHEER AT MY WEDDING! And also, throw money.

The New York chic style paired with the night club setting created a fun, happening atmosphere. As owners of the night club, Andrew and Cherie were able to have a private party, revamp the decor and create a wedding that was as beautiful as it was fun. The food was a buffet-style, which was available on both levels of the club. Meanwhile, I conducted interviews about whether guests preferred a sit-down meal or a buffet, and guess what? Buffet wins!

Andrew and Cherie’s reception had few tables, no assigned seating and had designated lounge areas. The lack of assigned seating created an atmosphere where guests could move about freely rather than being confined to a specific table. They mingled more and danced more than guests I’ve seen at any other wedding I’ve been to. I loved the environment, the only down side to not having the traditional table settings is that it creates a slight inconvenience when it comes time to eat.

We enjoyed the atmosphere of Andrew and Cherie’s wedding so much, that we’re leaning toward eliminating the assigned seating, which would unfortunately mean my having to say goodbye to some of my brilliant ideas for place card displays. We’re faced with this challenge: to assign or not to assign?

I think my sister’s wedding was a bit indicative as to which of my relatives would be dancing. And aside from the occasional drunk or two, there were very few people on the dance floor aside from a small group that danced the whole time (Kelsey, my mom, Patrick, me, and a few others). Most of my relatives seemed to gather at the bar or stick to their seats. Ashley and Sam seemed to make their way around to each table to visit with all of their guests, but unfortunately the guests didn’t do too much dancing or moving around. While the two settings of the weddings (Andrew and Cherie’s vs. Ashley and Sam’s) were vastly different, there are a few things to consider. I’d say that overall, the crowd at the NYC wedding was younger, there were more of them, and I think that the actual night club setting made it hard to do anything but dance. Also Ashley and Sam set the tone of their wedding to be less about dancing and more about spending time with family and friends, which I think was executed well.

Enough blabbering about that for now, but the point is, guests, DANCE AT MY WEDDING! Patrick and I danced nonstop the whole night, we had a great time, we smiled a ton and that’s how we want it to be at our wedding.

Cherie and Andrew’s wedding also made us second-guess our choice to hire a band. They had a DJ, and the music selections were awesome! Granted, he was a professional DJ working at a night club in New York, but it was a nice change from the usual Hokey- Pokey- steal- the- show- and -make- things- awkward- during- every-part- of- your- reception DJ.

And, of course we’re going to steal the idea of ordering pizza around midnight or so. As soon as we saw the pizzas on the table, Patrick’s eyes lit up like Christmas morning. This is the kind of joy only brothers understand.

Whitney

This weekend while out and about, Patrick and I swung into a Michael’s craft store. On the way out I spotted a bin full of clearance ribbon on sale for $1 per roll. I figured I’d take a quick look and almost peed my pants when I spotted this:

This is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of for the look and feel of my wedding. It’s thin, classic white ribbon with a chartreuse (CHARTREUSE!!!) antique pattern. It’s exactly my style: a new, trendy feel to an old-fashioned classic. These are the little details that are going to really bring the whole thing together.

We bought 14 rolls – all we could find in the clearance bin.

As soon as I called Ashley to tell her the news, she rushed out and bought another 10 rolls at the Michael’s near her house.

This isn’t the only early shopping I’ve done, actually. Two weeks ago I found some thank-you cards on clearance at a grocery story that is going out of business. I stocked up and put the packages of cards in a shoe box on the shelf of the guest room closet. That shelf has since become the place for all of my wedding supplies to gather dust while I count down to the big day.

Now, if only we didn’t have to wait almost two years to actually use this stuff. :)

Whitney

When it comes to venues, if it’s not the perfect place, it just doesn’t cut it. Everything needs to be PERFECT for MY wedding!

While in Michigan last month, Patrick and I went shopping for venues. And the only one we fell in love with was the only one that wasn’t on our list of established venues to scope out.

We wound up on the law quad on the campus of U of M, which happens to be one of the prettiest places I’ve been. The courtyard is surrounded on all sides by old brick buildings covered in ivy. The sun peeks through the trees and provides the most ideal lighting for an outdoor wedding. Plus, the aisle is REALLY long. I mean REALLY REALLY long. And, if I only get to walk down the aisle once, I am going to milk it as long as I can. It’s the longest of many stone paths leading to a circle that would be the perfect place for an arch. The backdrop would be one of the many old buildings, which is so beautiful. We could rent white folding chairs, which would really pop against the bold green grass. Plus, have I mentioned the aisle?

Here’s a picture of the aisle taken from the stone circle:
 

This would be the beautiful backdrop for the ceremony:

 

As for the reception? We’ve got a year to figure that out. :)

Whitney

While no date is set in stone, Patrick and I are planning on having a long engagement. Right now, we’re planning for a wedding in the late spring 2010. While we know it’s a long way off, and we’re as eager as ever, we need more time to save up money for a wedding and a nest egg. We want to start our marriage off as happily – and securely – as we’re able to. We’re going to enjoy the many months of slowly planning and enjoy each step along the way. And, while it would be nice to just elope and get it over with, Patrick understands that I’ve been dreaming of the perfect wedding for most of my life. When the time comes, it will be perfect. And we couldn’t be more thrilled to be in this stage of our lives!

Thanks for all the encouragement. And when the time comes, we’ll announce the date.

 

Whitney

We’re nearing the end of the fourth month of our engagement, and we finally have mailed out our announcements to spread the news that we’re engaged. If this is any indication as to how the rest of our wedding will go, we’ll mail the invitations out after the ceremony.