Thursday, May 27, 2010

Because of Him

Hive, I got myself a master's degree today, and I'm pretty pumped about it. But this post is not about me. It's about Mr. Octopus.

This year, I had the chance to pause my career and throw myself into an education that was incredibly challenging and immensely rewarding--a fulfillment of a dream, really--and I never, ever, ever could have done it without my fiance's unconditional and fully-enthusiastic support.

I learned or re-confirmed a lot of things about my future husband in the past nine months. Mr. Octopus is the kind of man who:
* Willingly took two jobs, usually working around sixty hours a week, including waiting tables until midnight when he had to be at the television station at 4 AM the next morning, in order to be the sole provider of the household.
* Often volunteered to wake up several hours earlier than necessary in order to drive me 35 minutes one way to my internship way over on the other end of Boston, for no other reason than to spend a little extra time with me, and because I didn't like taking the T. And sometimes, if he had the day off, came and picked me up at the end of my internship day too, usually bringing me a little treat, a cookie or a cup of tea or some other thoughtful thing.
* Is a natural-born slob, but has been making a very conscious effort to take an equal share of household responsibilities, including doing dishes, making dinners, doing laundry, and running errands, without complaint.
* Sacrificed a lot of his favorite creature comforts--cable TV, trying different restaurants and bars, new video games and comic books, weekend road trips--for an entire year, with no fuss, because it was all we could do to make ends meet on his income.
* Ran--I'm talking about fully sprinted--home from his break at the restaurant where he works, in Boston's 90-degree heat, in order to be on time to attend a series of graduation speeches with me yesterday. And sat next to me, beet-red and sweating, and said nothing but "I'm so glad to be here! I'm just so proud of you!" And then went back to the restaurant for five more hours of work.

I am marrying a man who continually humbles me with the depths of his generosity, and who is selfless in a way that I can only hope to mature into eventually. I am marrying a man who has the kindest heart of anyone I've ever met. I am marrying a man who does everything with the best of intentions, who always makes every possible effort to make other people happy, who prioritizes me and our relationship above all else. I am marrying a man who handled a lot of very tough things this year with good humor, optimism, and grace. I am marrying a man who is the best, most loyal, most constant friend I've ever had. I am marrying a man who will, one day, be the gentlest, most loving father I can imagine.

I could not be luckier and I could not be prouder. Mr. Octopus, everything I managed to do this year was only possible because of you. You are the sunshine of my life. I love, love, love, love you.

Planning our wedding is fun and exciting, don't get me wrong. But it's the marriage--the part where I get to spend the rest of my life alongside this amazing person--that's the really good stuff.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dog Owners, Please Advise!

I have a wedding dilemma. It is dog-related.

Okay, so here are the basics of the situation. As I've mentioned before, we are basically having a mini-destination wedding; neither Mr. Octopus and I nor almost any of our friends and family live in Pittsburgh. Mr. Octopus and I have complicated travel plans for the week of the wedding: on the Wednesday before, we're taking a one-way flight from Boston to my hometown in upstate New York, then driving in a big caravan of family down to Pittsburgh. Then, the Monday after, we're taking another one-way flight from Pittsburgh back to Boston. I'm also expecting that those few days leading up to the wedding will be very busy, filled with lots and lots of errands to run, things to do, and people to see.

So here's the dilemma: do we bring Daffodil to Pittsburgh with us, or do we put her in a kennel?

There are valid arguments for both sides. My mom is advocating for kenneling her, because bringing her with us would add a whole new "something that has to be worried about" factor. We'd have to stuff her fat self into her carrying case and bring her on the plane with us, then, on the same day, load her into the car for the five-hour drive to the Burgh. In that Wednesday-to-Saturday stretch of errands and craziness, we'd also have to schedule "making sure Daffodil goes out every five hours or so" into the daily to-do list. And, finally, bringing her would be really expensive. Those bastard airlines charge an insanely obnoxious price to carry a dog onto the plane and stow her under the seat. Like, the price of an actual human being's ticket to sit IN a seat. Also, our hotel allows dogs, but charges a $100 non-refundable fee to accommodate them. Overall, it would almost certainly be pricier than kenneling her.

I, on the other hand, am feeling strongly that I want her to come with us. I've told you before that I am a Crazy Dog Lady. I LOVE Daffodil. LOOOOVVVVEEEE her. Mr. Octopus is similarly crazy about her. We really think of her as a family member. So my thought process goes, yes, we'd have to do all that traveling with her, which is annoying for us, but Daff is a champ traveler. She goes in her carrying case with no complaint, snoozes for the whole plane ride, and LOVES to ride in the car. So, it's really not that big of a deal.


And, yes, having her there will be one more thing that we have to worry about while we're in Pittsburgh. But the thought of putting her in a kennel for almost a week makes me really sad! In my experience, no matter how nice a kennel and its staff is, the dogs have to spend hours and hours and hours in a crate, with not a whole lot of interaction with people. Daffodil, like most French bulldogs, is totally a companionship-oriented pet--she's a MAJOR lapdog. Her favorite hobby in the whole world is cuddling.

There are also a number of photos of me nap-snuggling with Daffodil, but I'm a really embarrassing sleeper, so they will not be hitting the Internet.

Even Mom Octopus, an avowed animal non-lover, fell for Daffodil's cuddly tricks.

Because I am a Crazy Dog Lady, I most definitely think that my dog has emotions, and knowing that she is stressed and scared because she's in a strange place, sitting by herself in a crate, without her people, will make me feel really bad. I think I'd feel worse about that than I would about having to fit in several daily walks during the wedding week. Also, traveling with her will be expensive for sure, but kennels ain't cheap either. I feel like I'd rather pay a bunch of money to have my dog with me than to put her somewhere else.

Plus, if she comes with us, then she could be in a few quick wedding photos, like so!




(Note: I first made the mistake of Googling "bride dog" instead of "bride WITH HER dog" and LOLed in terror at the results....)

Without a doubt, this is the creepiest thing the Internet has offered up to me this week.

So, practically, I understand why it doesn't make sense for Daffodil to accompany us on our wedding week. Emotionally? I really, really, really want to bring her.

Crazy Dog Ladies of the world, what would you do in this situation?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Awesome Spots for Sassy Posing

Bridesmaid Erica's wedding was last month, and we did our bridal party shots in Washington DC's Union Station. It was great. We traipsed all over the place, taking photos on escalators, in stairwells, in front of the architecture outdoors--everywhere. It was lots of fun, and her photographer got some KILLER shots. It also got me thinking....where would be some good Pittsburgh locales for OUR bridal party to demonstrate their smile-with-your-eyes skills?

Unlike Bridesmaid Erica and her husband, we're not going to have a first look in order to take photos before the ceremony. I totally get why the first look is a good option--it allowed us to go to Union Station, after all!--but I've realized that I'm really a traditionalist about this. For whatever reason, I just feel really strongly that I don't want to see Mr. Octopus until I'm walking down the aisle. That does mean that we won't have a huge window of time for photos, though, so I've been thinking about some places that we can hit up quickly.

Spot #1: Heinz Chapel

Our ceremony location, Heinz Chapel, is kind of a wedding factory, and runs on a very tight schedule (there's another ceremony just two hours after ours!). I want to max out our allotted time for photos in there, though, because come on. Look at this place.





Spot #2: Cathedral of Learning

After we get the boot from Heinz Chapel, I'm thinking it would be fun to move on to the building right next door, the Cathedral of Learning. It's the main academic building of the University of Pittsburgh, and it looks like this from the outside:


and like this in the Commons, the main room inside:



It is super, super Hogwarts-y, right down to the giant fireplaces and the narrow spiral staircases carved into the stone columns in the middle of the room.

In addition to being gorgeous, the Cathedral was totally my happy place in college. Mr. O and I both spent a LOT of hours inside this place, so the pictures we take there will have an extra sentimental value.

Spot #3: The Carnegie Museums

I don't know if we'll have the time to make it over here, although it's right across the street from the Cathedral. I also don't know if they'd waive the $15 per person admission fee to allow us a quick 20 minutes of photos, especially because we would probably be there slightly after the 5 PM closing time. Sounds pretty doubtful, now that I think about it. But it would allow for some pretty badass pictures, considering that the Carnegie Museums of Art & Natural History include this Hall of Architecture.....



.....this main lobby area.....


... and this performance hall foyer.


But, if we can't make it into the museums, there's another spot nearby which is a particular favorite of Mr. O's...

Spot #5: Schenley Fountain

My husband-to-be loves this fountain/sculpture on Pitt's campus. In college, I could very often find him sprawled out on a bench, eating pad thai out of a giant to-go box from the nearby food trucks. In fact, here's a circa-2005 photo of us relaxing there.

In addition to being beautiful in its own right....

(Source.) also offers up glorious views of the Cathedral.


Basically, we've got no shortage of beautiful backdrops for a quick-and-dirty photo session, and I think it will be really fun. Doesn't hurt that our bridal party is an extremely good-looking bunch, either.

Can you tell which bridesmaids are related to me? And can you tell which one is the recent bride who had her engagement photos taken? Haha.

Did you do a first look, or skip it? How did you choose your photo locations?

(Oh, and what do you think, Corey Ann? You up for documenting all this fierceness? ;) )

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


You guys, I freaking love fonts. ("lots of unusual fonts" is basically the closest I've gotten to a wedding theme, after all.....). I have A Thing about font consistency--I always notice and appreciate it when companies (or websites, or blogs, or obsessive-compulsive brides) use a recognizable series of fonts in their products.

So, "pick wedding fonts" was an item on my to-do list that stared me down for weeks. Yes, really. I finally spent a rabid 36 hours rampaging around on DaFont, and after a few missteps and failed trial combinations, I picked out the fonts I'm going to use all over our DIY paper products. I mean, don't get it twisted, it's not like there's going to be a ton of DIY paper products to behold, but hey. The things here and there that I DO make will have a badass font scheme all over them!

This is one of the fonts that was all over our save-the-dates. It'll be all up in our invitation suite's business, too. I love you and your regal little lines, EcuyerDAX.

I have been lusting over this font forever. Gah! Look how pretty! It has blobs in it like it was written with a real ink pen! It looks like somebody really fancy and old-timey and classy wrote it, AND I LOVE IT.

I picked this one because it wasn't as dramatic as the first two, but still interesting.

This was the last font I picked--I felt like I needed a normal, less decorative font for big chunks of text, where the words needed to be more on the legible than the pretty side.

Now that I'm just about four months away from the wedding (which, OMG WHAT!!!??!, by the way), I've been messing around with all my little font friends, testing out some mock-ups of things I'm eventually going to have to make for real. Wanna see a few quick tests?

For a little note in our OOT bags....

Our names on the cover of the ceremony programs....

The bar menu (oh, yeah, about that. Still not figured out. Can you tell?)....

Haha, whoops, looks like Microsoft Word doesn't know what Yuengling is. Your loss, Word!

What do you think? Also, can you reassure me that I'm not the only one who cares, like, a freakish amount about fonts?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deep Thoughts Inspired by MTV Reality Programming

Okay, first of all, tell me that I am not the only one who is overcome with glee when they hear that heartbeat noise on the TV, followed by the appearance of this logo:


Other than the hypnotic nine-week blaze of glory that was Jersey Shore, this is the only MTV show that I am truly devoted to. And last night, I happened upon an episode that made me think about my upcoming marriage and life as a newlywed. It wasn't the old school one with the guy threatening to gut his limo driver "like *$#!?!# cattle," either, although that one NEVAH gets old. This episode was pretty new, I think, and called "True Life: I'm a Newlywed."

The show profiled two couples who had never lived together before their weddings, and were in the process of moving in and settling down together. One of the couples hadn't so much as kissed before their wedding ceremony, so their storyline pretty much just covered how psyched they were to be getting bizzay, but the other couple's story focused more on their adjustment to the practicalities of living together for the first time: managing finances, keeping the house clean, and so on. Which then made me think, huh. I wonder what my newlywed life with Mr. Octopus is going to look like?

I have to think that the answer is: pretty much exactly like it does right now. We've lived together for almost four years. We have long moved past the processes of deciding where to live, how to combine our stuff, and how to divide up household responsibilities (mostly. More like still working on that one). We even fully combined our money a year ago. I think that marriage, emotionally, will feel different than living together does; I expect that the commitment is going to feel far weightier, and I expect that we will feel closer. Even being engaged feels different than just living together did. I think much farther into our future than I used to, and we now often refer to ourselves and Daffodil as "our family," as in, "Miss Octopus, we should seriously think about whether upgrading to a much-nicer-but-MUCH-more-expensive apartment right now would really be the best decision for our family." (It wasn't. Sob.)

But the actual after-the-honeymoon-is-over transition? Nada. Straight back into the same apartment with the same day-to-day life. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the "bigness" of marriage, and my lifestyle with Mr. O has been, for all intents and purposes, pretty much just like marriage already. It made me really curious about how the brides who are going to be living with their spouses for the first time after the wedding feel about the transition. So, for those of you who haven't lived with your fiances before, do you have any thoughts or expectations about how it will be? Does it feel like a big change to you? Are you trying to prepare yourselves for your new life with your spouse? I'd love to hear from you on this!

Oh, and what's your fave episode of True Life? I could never pick just one, but I tend to love the episodes that feature body modifications or super-quirky lifestyle choices the best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Those &%*#! Centerpieces

For several months, centerpieces for our reception tables were the bane of my existence. I already knew from my many, many unsuccessful floral meetings that full floral centerpieces like so:


and even simpler arrangements like this:


were entirely out of the question for us. I would really, really love to have them, cause hello, they're GORGEOUS, but there was no possible way we could cram them into the budget.

I assumed that I was going to be DIYing my centerpieces, and set myself a budget of $300 for 15 tables (working out to a whopping $20 per table). Also, Octopus Mom absolutely forbade me from using an excess of candles, because even scentless ones trigger her allergies, so elegant and beautiful candle centerpieces like this were O-U-T OUT.


I pored over basically the entire Internet for ideas, and my initial plan was to create centerpieces that featured stacks of vintage books, a hodgepodge of cool-looking votives, and bud vases with brightly-colored flowers. Here are a few ideas that demonstrate the look I was imagining:



I loved the idea of these, because they look really great, and fit nicely with the "just slightly whimsical and offbeat" look I try to keep in mind when thinking about our reception.


Let's take a look at what would have to take place in order for me to execute these centerpieces:
* Purchasing fifteen tables' worth of vintage-but-nice-looking hardcover books.
* A combination of purchasing and creating a large enough variety of votives to achieve that "oh, this?" effortlessly-mismatched-Anthropologie-display-window look.
* Purchasing fifteen tables' worth of interestingly-shaped bud vases.
* Transporting all of it from Boston to Pittsburgh.
* Purchasing a bunch of brightly-colored, mismatched flowers in the day or two before the wedding, trimming and storing them all, and then
* Handing it all off to the coordinator at the Children's Museum with a wish and a prayer that it all got assembled correctly. Oh, and
* A combined act of God, Santa Claus, and the luck of the Irish for this all to be done under $300.

Now, listen (except for everyone who is offended by salty, NSFW language)....

Do this if you don't like cussin'.

Bridesmaid Erica and I have had many a discussion in the past few months about how important it is for brides to have a Fuck-It List, on which you can place any wedding plans that are insane, overly expensive, annoying, unnecessary, or simply not going to happen in the time you've got remaining. I desperately wanted to assign the creation of centerpieces to the Fuck-It List, but I didn't know what else to do. I knew I couldn't pay for lush fabulous florals, I couldn't use candles, I didn't like any of the other ideas I'd come up with, and my standing plan for centerpieces was insane.

Enter my fairy godmother, Cheryl at Parkway Florist. In our floral meeting, she offered to make centerpieces featuring a round fishbowl holding a few inches of water and different combinations of flowers and candles floating in them, surrounded by a few votives, much like this:



Price tag? Exactly $20 per table.

If you can believe it, I actually hesitated for a minute, because I had some insane form of wedding-planning Stockholm syndrome where I had gotten really attached to my crazy, stressful centerpiece idea and was sympathizing with my kidnapper. Then I blinked, came to my senses, said a hearty "FUCK IT!!!!" to my old plan for whimsical, offbeat, but incredibly stressful DIY centerpieces, and gleefully signed on to have someone else take over the entire centerpiece-creation-and-assembly process at the exact budget I was aiming for. Phew.

Let's make it a quadruple-word-score of f-words used in a Weddingbee post: what's on your Fuck-It List?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ninth Time's the Charm

Finding a florist was, by far, the most torturous process in my wedding planning. Honesty first: I had a very, very bare-bones floral budget, and I couldn't find any possible way to juggle the money enough to beef it up. I felt bad and self-conscious about my skimpy budget, and I knew that I was most definitely not a florist's ideal client. However, I do wish that some of the florists I spoke with had been a little kinder. I felt bad to begin with, and I felt worse every time I got laughed at, sneered at, or ignored. I went through a lot of phone consultations, e-mails, and in-store consultations, and had earnestly begun to Google "weddings with no flowers."

Then, on our last trip to Pittsburgh, in a last-ditch final attempt, I found the right florist for us. HOORAY! We are using Parkway Florist, and I could not be any happier about the choice. This photo of Cheryl's beautiful work totally sold me:


I've mentioned already that the whole color scheme for our wedding was built around the idea of a dark red bridal bouquet. I told Cheryl that I was imagining a fluffy, full bouquet, using flowers that have lots of petals. I brought in these inspiration pictures....



and we decided that my bouquet will be made of freedom red roses, black magic roses, red dahlias, burgundy dahlias, and red hypericum berries. It will have a ivory-satin-wrapped stem with pearl pins.

(Roses and burgundy dahlia from here, red dahlia from here.)

For the girls' bouquets, I was hoping for the same sort of style: fluffy, full, ruffly petals. I showed Cheryl this photo from Style Me Pretty, which really demonstrated the multi-colored, jewel-toned look I'm trying to get.


So here's what we came up with....

(Top row: 1, 2, 3. Middle row: 1, 2, 3. Bottom row: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Various purple, deep pink, and burgundy shades of dahlias, ranunculus, and stock, as well as a few freedom red roses. Like the Style Me Pretty bouquet, the bridesmaids' bouquets will also have green (unopened) hypericum berries to break up the jewel tones and give it a little pop against their red dresses.

I AM SO PUMPED ABOUT THIS!!!! Considering I had seriously started to think that flowers weren't going to be possible at all, I am gleeful that I found someone who does beautiful work at great prices. I seriously get a little thrill of excitement every time I read over our floral agreement.

Centerpieces are a topic for another post, but for now, DAHLIAS! ROSES! EEEEEE!!!!

What was your hardest vendor to find?