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Monday, August 27, 2012

Vacation Mode

So after lots of delayed flights and waiting for shuttles to our car, I finally got back to my apartment and in my bed around 4AM last night.  That left my plenty of time for a refreshing 2 hour nap before I had to go in for the Welcome Back breakfast for the school year.  (Not so great to get up at 6AM after only 2 hours of sleep, especially when you're still in vacation mode.)

I don't know if I've mentioned it yet, but I graduated with Masters in Teaching back in 2011.  I spent last school year subbing and ended with a long-term sub position at a school where I was offered a job for this school year.  I officially accepted my very first teaching position and today was the first day of work.  No students this week, just us teachers getting ready for the start of the year.  It's going to be a VERY busy week!

That said, I have pictures of my vacation to Tampa (a.k.a. pictures of my trip to Disney world - for the first time!)  I will be posting them soon.  Unfortunately, like I said this will be a busy week, so I probably won't post until the weekend.  Maybe later depending on our plans for the long (4 day!) weekend ahead.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I will be in Tampa, Florida for some much needed vacation time.  I won't be back until next Sunday!  That means no wedding planning for a while, just 9 awesome days of "us time" for me and my fiancé!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Engagement Pictures

So my dad (i..e my engagement pic photographer) has been slowing sending me the pictures.  He took over 5,000, so he is going through them and editing the good ones.  Below are a few that I've got so far.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Team Bridesmaids

So my bridesmaids are spread out all over the Northeast.  My Maid of Honor  and my two sisters (bridesmaids) are in Maryland with each of them being at least 2 hours away from one another.  Another bridesmaid is in Nantucket and the other is in Connecticut.  And, as you know, I am here in Michigan.  With this in mind, I wanted to find a way for all of us to easily communicate and work on plans.  I decided on making a Team Bridemaids website, which turned out to be the perfect solution.  Between using the website and a shared board between all of us on Pinterest we have all been able to work together even though we are so far apart.

If you are interested I used the Google sites to make the webpage.  I included a link to our Pinterest board, a link to Google Hangout for when we have our "get-togethers", and links to a few helpful sites.  Here is a screen shot of the site.  I included information about the big day, a page of our engagement pics, a calendar with important events, a little bit about each bridesmaid (including how I met them, my favorite memory of them and a picture of the two of us), a message board section, and the story and pics of our proposal.  And all the over to the right I have the countdown to the big day!

My ladies all really liked the Meet the Team section.  I thought it was a nice way to show them how much I appreciate them and make them feel like they really are an important part of my big day.  Also, the message boards have been extremely useful, even more than I could have imagined.  It has been a great way for us to bounce ideas off each other and make decisions. 

If you have any questions about making your own site please feel free to ask. And in case you were wondering, Google Sites is completely free to use and you can make your site private.  Only the people that I specifically invite to the website (i.e. my bridesmaids) can see it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bridesmaids

I officially asked my all of my bridemaids today and they all said yes!  I'm so happy.  My maid of honor and two of my bridesmaids are my three best friends from college.  My other two bridemaids are my two sisters.  In total, my bridal party has 5 people.  My fiance plans to match that and also have 5 people.

So, you might be wondering how did I ask them?  Well, since I wouldn't be able to see any of them in person, I had to think of a way to ask them long-distance.  I deciding that sending something wasn't a personal as I'd like it to be.  If I'm giving them a gift, I'd rather give it to them in person.  Since I'm seeing them in September, I plan to give them a gift then.  However, for now I came up with something to do.

I used to create a slideshow to send to my friends.  I made a slideshow of college days together and added in a poem about memories I had with them.  Each slide was a picture of us and a line of the poem.  The last line of the poem said, "And that's why I'd love for you to be party of by big day and in a very big way."  Then the final slide said, "Will you be my bridesmaid?"  The site was very easy to use and allowed me to send out the slideshow to my friends via e-mail. 

All of the girls loved it!  It brought back such good memories of all of us and left a couple of them crying.  (I know I wanted to when I was making it.)  After seeing the slideshow each of them called me up and said yes!

Now I just need to get my fiance to ask his best man and groomsmen.  Any suggestions?

Feel free to share how you asked your bridemaids and/or how he asked his groomsmen.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Franklin Plaza

So it's official!  We will be having our ceremony and reception at The Franklin Plaza.  The plaza is absolutely gorgeous and I have heard nothing but great things about it and the people that work there.

We might have been a little over zealous with the pictures, but it was so exciting to find the place!

The Bridal Suite 

Cocktail Hour Room (upstairs)

Ceremony Set-up (plus chairs, etc.)

Dining Room

The Bar Area

The bar itself used to be the counter for the bank tellers.

The Stairs (lead up to the Cocktail Hour area)

The Gift Room/The Bird Cage

Coat-check Area

This was the actual vault that was used when the building was still a bank.

The Flowers

Candelabras (Centrepiece one each table)

The Birdcage (again, for the cards that the guests bring)

The Ladies Room Downstairs

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Venue

So we flew out Wednesday night on our delayed flight only to wait for our second delayed flight at our layover.  We were expected in at 11 that night, but got in around 1:30 in the morning.  After getting back to his parents house, we were able to get a nice nap in before getting up and ready for our 8:30 appointment.

To recap, we had our list narrowed down to 6 places:  The Franklin Plaza, Mohawk River Country Club, The Georgian, The Desmond, Century House, and Longfellows.

Our first appointment was at The Franklin Plaza - it was absolutely gorgeous.  As soon as I stepped inside, I just kept thinking - this is it.  Well, it turns out it was.  We both absolutely love it there.  We are going to try to get back in to meet with Joe today or tomorrow before we fly out to ask our final questions and hopefully reserve a date.  

I will be posting pictures and talking more about The Franklin Plaza later, but if anyone has any questions about the other venues, please feel free to ask.

EDIT:  Check out my posts about the Franklin plaza here, here, and here.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Last Minute Decisions: Engagement Pictures

So as I've said, we are doing our engagement pictures this week.  We fly out tomorrow night and get into Albany just before midnight.  Thursday and Friday are booked for venue appointments.  Saturday and Sunday will be decision making (hoping to pick a venue)/engagement picture days.  I am looking for some last minute advice on the pictures.

Some questions I have are:

  • How should I do my nails?  
    • I was thinking either a clear coat or french tip for my fingernails.  As for my toenails, I was thinking a bright red to go with my peep-toe red shoes.
  • What about hair?     
    • My hair is naturally straight and boring.  I am definitely getting it trimmed before the pictures, but I was thinking of just getting it blown-out the day of the pictures.
  • What about make-up?
    • I hardly ever wear make-up and when I do its only basic black mascara and a little eye-shadow.  I don't know what do for the pictures.   
  • How many locations?
    • I currently have three locations in mind all within 5 minutes of one another and I have a different outfit for each one.
  • Any other advice:  What did you wish you had known before taking your engagement pictures?
Please comment below.  I would to here your suggestions or maybe other questions that you have!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

More Outfit Ideas

Outfit #1:  For the park/playground.  I am looking for a cute pair of red flats instead of the white sandals, but no luck yet.  Also, I am thinking of getting some red balloons!
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Outfit #2:  Planning on wearing this for the pictures at the brownstones downtown.
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Outfit #3:  Plan to also wear this at the playground for a few shots.  As I have said, he proposed at the zoo.  This is t-shirt that I got there that day.  Not positive on this one yet, but I like the idea of it.
The shirt I bought at the zoo after he proposed!

So what do you guys think?

Engagement Picture Outfit Idea

As I mentioned earlier, we are going to be doing our engagement pictures next week.  One of our locations is a playground, so I wanted to go for something fun and summery.  I found the perfect dress last night at Forever 21 ($28).  The shoes are Madden Girl, but I found them at Marshalls for only $16!! Also, I can't find the picture of the exact necklace on-line, but it looks a lot like the one below.  I will post a picture of the actual necklace soon.  It was a simple, long gold chain necklace with small plastic read hearts of various sizes spaced around the chain.  I got it at Forever 21 for only $5.  The last piece to bring the whole outfit together is some white and gold bangles - I just need to find some!  Depending on the weather, I also have a white cap-sleeve sweater I can wear with it. Now what should my fiancé wear?

So what do you think?  Feel free to share your own engagement picture outfits.

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Department Store Wedding Registries

So we are in the process of deciding on which department store(s) to use for our wedding registry.  The places that we looked at were Macys, Kohls, Bed Bath &Beyond, JC Pennys, Target, and Pottery Barn.

My top pick was Kohls with Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Macy's tying for second.

#1 Kohls
  • You receive a 15% off coupon for use up to 90 days after your wedding.
  • You earn 10% rewards on all gifts purchased from your registry.  You can earn up to $200 at most and can use this reward up to 90 days after the wedding.
  • Earn free gifts for completion for various brands.
  • Your guests can get 15% off their gift purchases of $50 or more.
  • Excellent, no-hassle return policy.  
#2 Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Registry available for 2 years after wedding.
  • You receive 2 10% off coupons:  one for use on-line and one for use in-stores
  • For every person you refer that registers you receive a $25 gift-card
  • Earn free gifts for registering and/or for completion for various brands.
  • With a gift receipt can return anything for in-store credit.
#2 Macy's

  • Registry active 13 months after wedding
  • You receive a 10% off coupon to be used up to 90 days after the wedding
  • You earn 10% on everything you spend and 5% on everything that guests spend
  • With a gift receipt can return anything for in-store credit 
If you are interested in the details of my hunt, check out my Wedding Registry Comparison sheet.

Friday, August 3, 2012 provides a fun way for guests to give money towards your home.  According to the site, it only takes 5 easy steps to get started.

1.  You start by "building" your house.
2.  You create a profile for your account.
3.  You will need to link your PayPal Premier account (you can create one for free if you don't have one) to your account.
4.  Personalize your profile and determine who pays the 5.9% transaction fee.  (This is the only fee.  There is no sign-up fee, etc.)  You have three choices:

  • you always pay the fee = it is taken from the gift amount given
  • the guests always pay the fee = it is added on top of the gift amount they are giving
  • you give the guests the option of paying the fee = if they opt out then it is taken out of the gift amount given
5.  You finalize and publish your account and then you will be given a link to give to friends and family.  You will receive your gift within three days of the guests giving it.    

After looking at several sites this is by far the best cash gift registry:  it is the most interactive site and it has the lowest transaction fee that I've seen.  I think we are going to do this!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New York: Engagement Photos

Also, while we are in New York, my dad has offered to shoot our engagement pictures for us (photography is a hobby of his).  I'm very excited and have a tentative list of locations:
  • Sage (where I went to college at)/downtown Troy - they have some gorgeous brownstones 
  • The Playground - where Dave and I spent time together before we started dating
  • Prospect Park - a nice little park that we went to frequently 

I need to keep this in mind and get some ideas:  What to wear for engagement pictures!

Though he's agreed to go along with it, my fiancé doesn't really get the purpose of engagement photos.  I am planning on using them for Save the Dates, Invitations, and possibly in the guest book.  If you're having some done, what are you using yours for?

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Venue Comparison Chart

Below is a link to the chart that I created to compare my venues.  It is two pages long and I left enough space to compare up to 6 venues.  Feel free to download it (it is on
Venue Comparison Chart

New York: Venues

We bought our tickets last night.  We are officially taking a trip to New York.  We will be there from August 9th - 12th to look at possible venues.  His parents (that live in the area), along with my grandmother and father will be joining us.  Everyone is very excited since it is there first time since we have been engaged that they will be seeing us or each other.

Since we are only going to be in the area for a few days, my goal is to get as much information as I can on the venues before we go out there.  I came up with a list of what was important to us in a venue and used them to create a chart (you can find it here)for comparing all of the venues.  Hopefully that will help.  My next step is to call all of the venues to make appointments.