Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Eight-Legged Hello!

AAAIIEEEEEEEE!!!! Hive, I cannot tell you how freaking giddy I am to be here! I have been an avid Weddingbee reader for a looooong time, and I am so excited to now have the chance to share my wedding with all of you! First things first, I guess I better introduce Mr. Octopus and myself.

Barely a month into my freshman year of college, my best friend dragged me to a grimy frat party because there was a guy there that she was absolutely sure I would like. She had met him in the university marching band (he was a tenor saxophonist, incidentally) and had been telling me about him for weeks, swearing up and down that he was just my type. I really didn't want to go to the party because it would mean changing out of the ginormous pair of sweatpants I was wearing, but she was persuasive. I gave in, put some real pants on, and went. Unbeknownst to us, it was a toga party, and I showed up in a pink polo shirt. I felt pretty awkward, but my best friend was insistent, and she made the introduction between us.

Well, seven years later, I'm marrying the toga-clad wonder I met that night (and the friend who introduced us is a bridesmaid!). Although neither of us are from southwestern Pennsylvania, we met at our beloved alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, dated there for four years, and hope to live there permanently in the not-very-distant future, so getting married there was a natural choice. We're having a wedding that I hope will be fun, whimsical, joyful, and beautiful!

We have had an adventurous life together so far--after college in Pittsburgh, we moved to Las Vegas for three years, then moved back to the East Coast. We are now currently living in fabulous Boston, MA!

I love random facts, so here are a few pieces of trivia to help you get to know my groom and me: He loves The Simpsons, the Steelers, video games, microbrewed beer, hot dogs, and any kind of pirate mythology. His two greatest fears are Bigfoot and natural disasters. As for me, I have a crippling sweet tooth and take a lot of guilty pleasure in celebrity gossip magazines. My all-time favorite television show is My So-Called Life and autumn is my favorite season (hello, September wedding!). I am so compulsively organized that I can't eat M&Ms until I put them in rainbow order and I'm a sucker for top 40 pop music. Current fave? Taylor Swift.

Finally, a few pictures:

These were taken in the midst of the second cross-country move we've undertaken together, when we stopped for a few days in Chicago! (source: me.)

Oh, and why Miss Octopus? Two reasons: 1.) LOOK HOW ADORABLE!!! and 2.) Mr. Octopus is a huuuuuge comic book nerd. Ten points to anyone who makes the connection!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Hope I'm Not Alone.... having certain random little wedding planning details on the horizon that strike fear into my heart. Mine? Escort cards. Shudder.

I know exactly where my dread of escort cards came from. About a month after Mr. O and I got engaged, I attended a childhood friend's wedding with my family. Later, my sister and I were talking about all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into pulling off a wedding, and she said, "Just think about that place card table from today. We spent barely thirty seconds walking up to that table, grabbing our cards, and walking away without a second thought, but SOMEONE had to go buy those little cards, make a seating chart for all one hundred and fifty people, write every single person's name and table number ON the little cards, alphabetize them all, then arrange them nicely on the table." Gulp. Ever since that conversation, those damn little cards have been the one particular detail that gives me heart palpitations.

But no more! In my ritual quarterly browsing of Martha Stewart Weddings, I noticed a potential solution to my problem:


Seating chart boards! Specifically, the seating chart boards used at the wedding of Hello!Lucky designer Eunice Moyle. I've seen seating chart boards before, but hers really caught my eye, because they incorporate my love of both kooky fonts AND graphics of vintage-style hands pointing at things, a la our save-the-dates.

Eunice used table namesake animals, rather than numbers--hence the little pink tabs with the animal pictures. (Source.)

Now, I'm sure we would not have ours made so ginormously.....I think the more realistic option would be to go poster-sized, then placed on an easel to display during cocktail hour.

Obviously, it's way too early to be creating something like this (we're still hammering out the details of who is even on the guest list, EYE ROLL TIMES ONE MILLION) but I feel relieved in knowing that I can avoid the task of writing everyone's names on the little cards entirely. Especially since I completely plan on farming the design of these boards out to our awesome stationery designer.

Oh, and also, if you haven't seen it already, you should go check out the rest of the photos from Eunice Moyle's wedding! Especially if you're into hot pink and/or quirkiness, but even if you just like drooling over events with an extremely cohesive style, brought to life beautifully.

Do you have a wedding task that you just dread? Have you found a way to manage it as painlessly as possible yet?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Boozing it Up

One of the major selling points on our venue, the Children's Museum, was that they do not have a liquor license. That means that we can purchase and provide our own alcohol, saving many, many dollars! Woohoo!

It also means that it's about time to start planning our bar menu, which I think is serious business. Our guest list, as a whole, is a pretty celebratory crowd, and I want to get the alcohol options right. The plan is to provide a limited open bar, including a few types of beer and wine, as well as some liquor options. Wanna see what we've come up with so far?


One of the beers we serve will definitely be Yuengling. It's Mr. O's favorite, it's brewed in Pennsylvania, and it's tasty and fairly light, without being watery. After the Yuengling, though, we're a little stuck, because Mr. O and I are big-time beer drinkers, and we are kind of paralyzed by all the choices!

How do I chooooooooooose?!?! I love you all so much! (Top row: 1, 2, 3. Bottom row: 1, 2, 3.)

My old standby is Newcastle, which is a yummy brown ale. MOH/Sister Lauren, on the other hand, has been pushing for a more crowd-pleasing beer like Budweiser or Miller Lite, because, quote, "not everyone is a beer snob like the two of you." (Thanks. Love ya.) Or we could stick to the "local" thing and go with something brewed in our current hometown--Sam Adams or Harpoon. OR!!!! We could go seasonal and pick out one of my all-time favorite things in the universe--pumpkin ale--or a hard apple cider.

This is my favorite winery at Keuka Lake, Rooster Hill. Their riesling is ridonkulous. (Source.)

As far as wine goes, we will definitely be serving a white wine from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where the Octopus Family lives. I can personally attest to the fact that Finger Lakes white wine is deeeelicious, like maybe you might be tempted to lick the inside of your wine glass delicious. It tastes so fresh and grape-y! Finger Lakes red wine, on the other hand, is typically not so hot--so I'm totally open to suggestions for a relatively inexpensive, tasty red wine (bonus points for merlot, Dad Octopus's favorite!).

For liquor, I think we're just going to provide some standards (gin, rum, vodka, and so on) that can be mixed with the juices and sodas the caterer provides. Maybe we'll get fancy and throw in some flavored vodkas. I love the idea of a signature drink (or two), but I'm pretty sure we'd then also have to purchase all the special mixers involved, and the dollar signs are dancing before my eyes.

So, to recap: Yuengling, Finger Lakes white wine, and the standard liquors are already decided, but I still need ideas for one or two other beers and a red wine.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions? What types of alcohol are you serving?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Non-Drugstore-Brand Makeup = LOVE

I loveity-love-love makeup, and always have. Given my super-brokeness, most of the makeup in my current stash is of the $3 easy, breezy, beautiful variety, but I love playing around with it all the same.

(Side note: I think part of being a makeup aficionado is going through some tragic stages. I went through a period during ninth or tenth grade where I wore liquid eyeliner and glitter eyeshadow as part of my regular makeup routine. To school, during the day, every day. Please, somebody out there, console me and tell me I'm not alone!)

Anyway, I was really excited about my makeup trial in Pittsburgh, especially because the artist I was trying had a really nice-looking portfolio. I brought along this photo of my #1 girl crush, Christina Hendricks, who in addition to being a voluptuous bombshell goddess, has coloring pretty similar to mine.


I went in looking like this...

AAAAHHH I am putting this on the Internet for people to look at freely!

And came out like this!

Woooo! My eyebrows are a hot mess in this picture! I was waiting until Bridesmaid Erica's wedding to get them waxed.

Recognize this one?

It didn't end up looking that much like C-Hen, I don't think, but not for lack of trying. Julie, the makeup artist, started out with that glam, silvery cat's-eye thing Christina's got going on, but I kind of hated it on me, so she added some other shades to soften it up a little. Overall, I really loved what she did, and booked her right there on the spot! It also held up through the entire day and several hours of St. Patrick's Day festivities with two of our groomsmen later that night, so thumbs up all around!

What look were you going for in your first ideas for makeup? Did you stick to it, or change it up a little?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Planning to Remember

At the end of our most recent Pittsburgh trip, I was in the midst of a floral meeting (which was successful, FINALLY), when the florist asked me if we'd need corsages for our mothers. I replied that we'd need only one, and then felt sort of awkwardly compelled to explain that Mr. Octopus's mom passed away a few months ago.

The florist, a kind and motherly type of woman, was very sympathetic. I would think that in her line of work, she has to navigate through these types of situations a lot. She gave me some thoughtful recommendations for how to pull off the lighting of the unity candle, and then we moved on to boutonnieres.

But the thought stuck in my mind: Oh, right. The unity candle. Which the two mothers are supposed to light together. Except we won't have two mothers there now.

And then, later, MOH/Sister Lauren asked me what we were planning to do about the parent-child dances. Oh, right. The father-daughter dance, which I very much want to do. And the mother-son dance, which Mr. O very much wanted to do. I have no idea.

When Mr. O and I started planning our wedding, finding meaningful ways to honor a deceased parent (and negotiate the issues surrounding their absence), was something we never, ever, ever anticipated having to do. It also wasn't something we thought much about when we decided, after her sudden passing, that the wedding was still on. We just knew that we, along with everyone else, still wanted it to happen, so we went for it.

But now, as we continue planning, the logistical things (like the unity candle and the parent-child dances) keep coming up, and we kind of have no idea how to handle them. I've been turning some of the more emotional aspects over in my head, too. Mr. Octopus's mom isn't the only loss we've ever experienced, but it's the most recent, and in terms of the emotional impact, the biggest. Is it appropriate to call more attention to her, to remember her in a more noticeable way, than, say, his grandparents (who died of old age many years ago)? Is it okay to play favorites, so to speak, with the people whose legacies you're remembering?

On the other hand, I worry about how much memorializing is too much. By the time our wedding rolls around, it will have been eight months since my groom's mom died. Although Mr. O and his family are coping well and feeling better, I'm certain that by no means could we expect that anyone, including him, will be totally recovered from their grief in September. How do you strike a balance between wanting to remember her, but not evoking flashbacks to her funeral? When do tributes turn from respectful to painful?

He and I have been talking about some of this stuff, but we're both really at a bit of a loss. There's no predicting how anyone will feel six months from now, so we're not sure how to proceed. So, I'm hoping there are people out there who can share their experiences. What did you do to remember the people you've lost at your wedding?

The Paranoid Bride

Am I the only bride-to-be who has crazy fears floating around in her head about things that could go wrong on the wedding day? I'm not talking about fears that would be reasonable to have--what if people don't have fun, what if a vendor screws us over, and so on--I'm talking about totally bizarre, paranoid, no-reason-to-believe-that-would-ever-happen fears.

Mine is that either my groom or I will come down with the stomach flu, or food poisoning, the night before/day of the wedding.

Charlotte and Harry demonstrate my nightmare.

There is no logical basis for this fear. Mr. O and I rarely-to-never get stricken with stomach viruses, and there's no earthly way of predicting or preventing why do I worry about it? I really have no idea. I seem to remember reading some wedding horror story online in which the groom got so violently ill with food poisoning the night before the wedding that he barely made it through the ceremony without puking, then had to be hauled off to the hospital immediately afterward. The reception went on, but everyone was completely deflated, and the groom spent the rest of the day with an IV in. It struck me at the time as The Worst Thing Ever, and ever since, I occasionally have moments of "EEEEEK! WHAT IF ONE OF US GETS TOO SICK FOR THE WEDDING!!!!"

I think it's just something about the idea that, out of all the days in a whole lifetime, it would be that one day that gets stricken with a totally absurd, illogical, unpredictable game-changer that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I mean, after all that money, all that planning, all that poisoning? Really?

Yikes, I don't even want to talk about it anymore for fear of jinxing myself. So there you have it: my totally cuckoo-bananas wedding fear. What's yours?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tasting and Choosing

Mr. O and I recently wrapped up a whirlwind forty-eight hours of wedding recon in Pittsburgh, and other than my decidedly unsuccessful hair "trial," it was actually a really productive trip! Most exciting (to me)? After eating approximately ten slices of cake apiece in two days, lapsing into several brief sugar comas, and having one really rockin' cake-and-coffee-fueled Bon Jovi car jam session, we picked our bakery!

I obsessively scoured the Internet for highly-rated wedding cake vendors, and narrowed our choices down to three: Pastries a la Carte, Autumn's Cakes, and Signature Desserts.

Gotta put your game face on before cake tastings.

At Pastries a la Carte, we sampled two flavors: vanilla-almond cake with raspberry filling, and dark chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream filling.

The cakes were pretty and the bakers really friendly, but we both felt pretty "meh" about the actual consistency and flavor of the cakes, and crossed it off the short list.

Autumn's Cakes is pretty far out of the city--almost a forty-five minute drive, in fact--and we thought we were headed to an actual pastry shop for our meeting. Turns out she runs her business out of her home, which is in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere, which led to us creepily hesitating in her driveway for, like, ten minutes, convinced our GPS had led us astray. It hadn't, though, and we tasted yellow cake with chocolate buttercream filling and red velvet cake with cream cheese filling.

OOOOOMMMMMGGGGGG. This cake was unreal. I seriously would have behaved like a wild animal and licked the plate clean if I were alone in a room with it. Autumn also told us that in addition to straight-up wedding cakes, she could also do tiers of cupcakes, cake buffets, or various combinations of all three, all in different flavor/filling combinations. Veeeeery tempting.

Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the actual cakes here. I blame the sugar coma.

Finally, at Signature Desserts, we sampled vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream/chocolate chip filling and vanilla cake with a filling of fresh strawberries & Bavarian cream. Their cakes were really good, although definitely not as scrumptious as Autumn's. However, they offered an extravagant dessert buffet option that really appealed to my dessert-fiend self. For about the same price as a standard-size wedding cake, we could get a smaller wedding cake, eight dozen (!!!) cookies, and six other desserts of our choosing, including cheesecakes, pies, and tarts.

So ultimately, the decision came down to this: outrageously tasty or impressive variety?

It wasn't much of a contest. We polled some of our friends and family, and their opinions all coincided with our gut instinct: go with deliciousness. So Autumn's Cakes it is! I cannot wait to devour another slice of that yellow cake/chocolate frosting combo at the wedding.

Oh, and the price is over a hundred dollars less than I'd budgeted for. I'm so excited I may need to do another air guitar solo to Livin' on a Prayer.

What mattered most to you when you chose your bakery?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Total Bomb of a Hair Trial

I walked into my hair trial appointment in Pittsburgh with the following things:

These inspiration pictures....

(All from here.)

This unwashed hair (thanks to Miss Nachos' insistence!).....

And the information that the salon's own front desk had given me, which was that bridal updos cost fifty dollars, and bridesmaids somewhat less than that.

I walked out thirty minutes later, with thirty-five fewer dollars in my checking account, with this hair "style":

The stylist I met told me as soon as I walked in that my hair was too short to style, pinned it into a loose ballerina bun and said there was nothing else she could do to hair as short as mine, took it back down and put it into a ponytail, and charged me over a dollar a minute to do it. And also let me know that bridal updos are actually eighty-five dollars, and bridesmaids are seventy. UGH. Total letdown all around.

It was especially frustrating because, since we are planning from so far out of town, we have to get the "in-person" planning done in massive, short chunks. This hair trial fail fell in the midst of a whirlwind, jam-packed recent trip to Pittsburgh, and as of right now, I don't think I'll be able to visit again for at least two more months. It's really a bummer when vendor consultations I expect to result in a booking actually lead me right back to square one.

Have you had disappointing vendor meetings? Out-of-town brides, do you also get really frustrated by wasting your on-location planning time on dud consultations?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cake Cake Cake Cake Cake Cake Cake

Recently, my groom and I embarked on the element of wedding planning that I am probably more excited about than anything else: cake tastings.

This is exactly how I would go about the tastings if Mr. O didn't rein me in. (Source.)

I have a monster sweet tooth and absolutely no self-restraint when it comes to desserts. A few weeks ago, at my work-study job, we celebrated a birthday with cupcakes from an extremely addictive nearby cupcake shop. I proceeded to basically unhinge my jaw like a python and swallow my entire cupcake in two giant bites, despite the fact that everyone else was being really dainty and ladylike, eating their cupcakes with forks (!!) and taking cute little nibbles. So that was embarrassing, but it's also an indicator of how much I REALLY REALLY LOVE DESSERT. Having a cake that reaches food-coma levels of deliciousness is important to me.

I'll report back with the results of the tastings later, but first, I wanted to share my ideas for what I'd like our cake to look like. As I've browsed around, looking at pictures, I've realized that while I appreciate the artistry and the aesthetic appeal of beautiful cakes like this...





....that's not really what I'm looking for. For lack of a better word, I love cakes that look really, really cake-y. Cakes that are covered with frosting, not fondant, and look more Duncan Hines than Sylvia Weinstock. Cakes that make you think "wow, that looks delicious!" instead of "oh, how beautiful!"

I'm thinking something like this:




Yummmm. Don't you just want to sink a fork into a cake like that? They look so fresh-baked! I also like the idea of sticking with the "edible-looking" theme and decorating the cake with fruit, instead of flowers or ribbons or whatnot.


Strawberries, blackberries, and grapes would look tasty AND stick to the color scheme! Win!

What look did you go for in your wedding cake?

Friday, March 12, 2010

A-Registerin' We Will Go

Mr. Octopus and I were both really, really, really excited to get cracking on our wedding registry.

Picking a barware set is serious business.

OH MAH GAH! How am I going to choose from all this dinnerware goodness?

He and I have lived together for a long time--we're in the midst of the fourth year now, in fact--but our stuff is super grubby. Almost everything we own is left over from our college days, and most of it wasn't even new when we got it, but dug out of our parents' basements in order to furnish our crappy apartments. The worst offender? Oh, please don't judge me when I tell you this, but we are still using the bright pink and purple bath towels that my mom helped me pick out at Bed Bath & Beyond to bring with me to my freshman year of undergrad. Which was eight years ago. So, yeah, you couldn't get that scanner gun in our hands fast enough.

It took me a couple tries to figure out how to work it properly, though.

We decided to register at Macy's and Target. We did the in-store thing at Macy's, but built the Target registry completely online, which was really, really easy. In fact, both of our registries have been really easy to keep up with so far. My only complaint is that I get promotional spam from Macy's in my e-mail inbox alllllll the tiiiiiime now.

Anyway, want to see some of the goodies I'm most excited about?


AN ESPRESSO MACHINE! This is my number one really, really, really hoped-for gift. To me, having a latte in the morning is one of life's small joys (and on the flip side, I am an angry crazy lady without one). I might bring this to bed with me and snuggle with it if someone gives it to us.

Real grown-up fluffy bath towels in grown-up colors (we ordered pistachio and white).


Mr. O is a badass cook, and he bought a KitchenAid stand mixer on sale a few years ago (it was on sale because it's a hideous deep orange color, but whatevs). His homemade pasta already blows my mind, and if he gets this pasta roller, he will step up his pasta-making game even further (and I will carbo-load like a fiend).


Le Creuset French oven. See above, re: badass cook.


A thick, warm, luxurious down comforter, because the one on our bed right now is the same one I've been using since high school. To be fair, down comforters are made to have a long life, but I'm pumped about upgrading.

We also requested a bunch of more basic (and less expensive!) things, of course, but I would be most giddy and thankful about receiving that particular espress--err, those things.

What's your most hoped-for registry item?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let Me Tell You About My Skin

Mr. O and I have been making wedding planning magic left and right these days, but before I get to that, I realized that I have yet another weird body-related issue to overshare with you all. (Oh, I already told you about my nail-biting and my bouts of fainting, but yes, there's MORE!)

Bridesmaid Erica's wedding is coming up very, very shortly, and in thinking about the dresses she chose for us to wear...

Beautiful, huh? It's made by Laundry by Shelli Segal. (Source.)

...I also started thinking about my arms, and the fact that they are going to be bare, and also photographed, all day long.

I tend to get little red dots on my upper arms. My old pal Dr. Google tells me the official term for this is "keratosis pilaris," and that is both very common (true--I notice on other people, particularly my ivory-skinned compadres, pretty often) and hereditary (also true--thanks Dad!). It's not incredibly unsightly to behold or anything, and in fact, mine is mild enough that I rarely ever think about it or notice it on myself, and I usually don't feel self-conscious about it.

But then again, I don't usually walk up an aisle while being watched by over a hundred people and get my picture taken all day either, and I'm doing that twice in the next six months. It's never occurred to me to try to treat it before, so I have no idea if I could actually reduce the little red dots if I wanted to.

Given how common it is, I have to think that other people out there must also have the ol' keratosis pilaris as well. So, I have to ask: can you reduce it, or make it go away? Does anyone have any remedies for getting rid of the little red dots?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Red and Purple: Too Legit to Quit

Occasionally, when people ask what our wedding color scheme is and I reply "red and purple," I get a mega-hairy eyeball.


Getting a decidedly unenthusiastic response to the ideas I'm envisioning often causes me to second-guess myself. I know that I have a good general sense of aesthetics, but I'm also not the effortlessly super-hip friend who is always rocking an awesome vintage skirt with the perfect accessories from Anthropologie, you know what I mean? Sometimes, to be honest, I feel unsure of my own judgment in matters of taste and style.

The intimidating thing about planning a wedding is that your taste in everything is right out there in the open for everyone to see. Your taste in food, your taste in clothing, your taste in colors and decorations and paper products and venues and flowers and and and.....

Putting yourself and your ideas out there like that can be a little unnerving (at least it is for me, anyway)! But I also try to remind myself that, really, I'm the only person who will notice if the colors, details and decor I imagine don't end coming together after all. I also tell myself that no matter what kind of stink-eye a person delivers to me upon hearing the words "red and purple," I've got to stick to my gut, which is telling me that my wedding color palette is going to be flyyyyy!

Just to double-check my instincts, I made myself another inspiration board today, based on what looks good in my imagination.

Top row: 1, 2, 3, 4. Middle row: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Bottom row: 1, 2, 3.

Now, I don't know about anybody else, but I look at this and think, OH HELL YEAH! Red and purple is fierce! (And also a teeeeeeny bit of dark raspberry pink is creeping in. Don't tell my groom.)

Lessons learned:
* Trust myself.
* Red and purple is indeed a pretty color combination.
* But even if it weren't, in the grand scheme of things, my wedding color palette is not a very big deal.

Have you ever second-guessed your ideas for the look of your wedding, or worried that it wouldn't turn out the way you imagined? How did you get over it?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Catering Shake-Up

On my last trip to Pittsburgh, back in December, I had a few missions: pick bridesmaids' dresses (easy as hell, check!), find a florist (a never-ending, ongoing saga, DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED) and plan our menu/sign the contract/place the deposit with the Children's Museum caterer, The Common Plea--which toooootes didn't happen.

Why? Cause when we arrived for our catering consultation at Common Plea, the very first thing we were told was that they were no longer the exclusive caterer for the Children's Museum. Apparently, the Children's Museum was planning to add a few caterers to the roster (!!), in order to give clients some options (!!!).


Now, the Common Plea was really great in the few exchanges I had with them, but my mind was spinning at the sudden possibility for comparison shopping (especially if it meant saving some cash money!!). After we left our consultation, I immediately got in touch with the event coordinator at the Children's Museum, who confirmed that they were in the process of finalizing the new list of preferred caterers, and that he would send me the new list as soon as it was finished.

A few days later, the catering shake-up reached new heights when the event coordinator e-mailed me the Children's Museum's new list of preferred caterers for me to choose from--and the Common Plea wasn't on it at all! So then, we didn't just have the option of choosing a new caterer, we actually had to! I have no idea why the Children's Museum and the Common Plea totally ended their affiliation; like I said, I would have been happy to use them, because they were great. It ended up not mattering, though, because guess who was on the list?

Big Burrito, the caterer that I had originally really hoped to use. The caterer that's both crazy delicious and sentimental to my groom and me, because of all the dates we went on in their various restaurants. Upon finding out they were an option again, first I did a backflip. Then I e-mailed them to get a quote. Then I peed my pants and screeched a little. Then I sat on my hands to keep from biting my fingernails while waiting to hear back, hoping and praying that they would be within our price range.

The first go-round for our proposal--in which I picked out my ideal, dream menu--came with a whopper of a price tag that left me blinking at my computer screen, dumbfounded, like a deer in headlights. In the second version, the price came in at exactly what I'd budgeted for, but the menu left something to be desired (and even Mom Octopus, who is normally extremely frugal in the wedding expenses department, said that she'd prefer to spend more, so the food would have little more oomph).

The great news is that on the third revision of the proposal, the special events coordinator put together a menu that sounds delicious, unusual, and fun, with a quote that did come in above what I'd budgeted for, but not by an unmanageable amount (and honestly, I'm pretty sure I had unrealistic expectations). So guess what? Big Burrito is our wedding caterer after all! But shhh--I don't want to say it too loudly, because I feel like I won the wedding lottery or am cashing in on the greatest stash of bridal karma ever, and I don't want to jinx it.

So here's what we're serving:

Cocktail Hour

(Sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Cheese Board: A Selection of Domestic and Imported Artisanal Cheeses with Breads
and Crackers, Mixed Olives, Salted Nuts, Fresh and Dried Fruit
Crudités Basket of Fresh Vegetables with Herbed Dipping Sauce
A Display of Fresh Fruit

Mr. Octopus really didn't want passed hors d'oeuvres, because he was a special events waiter at his hometown country club all throughout high school, and his theory is that people get so excited about the deliciousness of passed appetizers (duh, warm brie in phyllo cups and mini quiches, who wouldn't?) that they eat lots and lots of them and don't eat as much dinner. I didn't care, because this option still features cheese.

Dinner: Stations Menu

Salad Station

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, center.)

Mesclun Greens
Diced Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Hard Boiled Eggs
Feta Cheese, Parmesan Cheese and Gorgonzola Cheese
Shredded Carrots, Sliced Black and Green Olives, Chick Peas
Roasted Beets, Capers, Sliced Scallions
Sherry Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ranch Dressing

Carving Station

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Roasted Boneless Turkey Breast
Grilled Seasonal Vegetables
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Bread from Eleven Bakery

This is the one station that I'm a liiiiittle bummed about; I wish we could also serve a beef tenderloin alongside the turkey breast. Alas, the budget couldn't stretch any farther. Mom Octopus and I both agreed that if we have fewer RSVPs than we're expecting, though, the beef definitely goes back in.

Pittsburgh Station

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Truffled Potato and Aged Cheddar Pierogies
Lucanicia Sausage-Stuffed Cabbage in Veal Sauce
Kielbasa and Penn Pilsner Sauerkraut
Rigatoni with Spicy Tuscan Tomato Sauce

Imagine me batting my eyelashes at this station. It's my pride and joy. Pittsburgh has very strong Polish and Italian communities whose roots go back a long way in the city's history, and the food at this station reflects that. It's also craaaazy delicious. This food is a little less formal, but I think (and I hope our guests think!) that it's fun and festive and unexpected. Also, craaaaazy delicious.

What do you think? And what's going to be on your wedding menu?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Groomsmen, Keepin' It Classy

"Picking" the groomsmen's outfits was, if you can believe it, an even simpler process than our one-and-done bridesmaids' dress search. I say "picking" because, actually, I'm leaving it almost completely up to them. I've been to two weddings in the last year in which the groomsmen just wore color-coordinated suits of their own choosing, and both times, it looked really simple and classic.

I also preferred this route because, if I can be totally honest, I don't love Mr. O in a tuxedo. He had to wear one for all of his choir concerts in college, and it's just not him; he's too low-key of a guy to really rock such a formal outfit. On the other hand, I think he looks absolutely dashing in a suit, so it was really a no-brainer.

At first, I opted for black suits, because I figured a black suit is timeless. I also knew that at least half of our groomsmen already owned one, and I wanted to make it convenient for them. Then, after I chose black, I started fussing and worrying that maybe charcoal gray would have been a better choice, maybe it would offset the bridesmaids' red dresses better, maybe it would be more stylish.......


and then I said, oh, to hell with it. Let's get real: black and charcoal gray are extremely similar colors, black IS timeless, and as soon as the reception gets rolling, their outfits are going to go from this:

Mr. Octopus and three of his future groomsmen looking gentlemanly at Groomsman Nick's wedding last year.

to this:

Didn't last long.

anyway. What does it really matter? Black suits, it is!

Now, the only thing left to take care of are their ties. I'm thinking a subtly patterned or textured red tie, maybe something like this:


I'm also wondering if maybe we should choose a slightly different tie for Mr. O, to set him apart a little. What do you think? Do you prefer the all-matching look, or a little variation?

What are your groomsmen wearing?