Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Uber-Wedding Planning Post

This post is for the ladies. I occasionally get requests- mostly from my client-brides-turned-friends, bless them- for wedding planning details as they unfold. It's 2008, and being in the actual calendar year of the wedding has me all motivated.

I occasionally get on the wedding planning websites and message boards, but I don't really have time to put together a bio, which means no one on TheKnot takes me seriously. Also, a lot of those ladies give me the heebie-jeebies. IndieBride is somewhat better, but I find their no-frills thread directory a little less than user-friendly. And, well...

You know, Alissa wrote a fantastic post about the general IndieBride/Knot split back in July.

"On the one hand, we have The Kn0t, which is laden with some of the b1tchiest, elitist women I have ever run into in my life. The cut each other down like there's no tomorrow, and if you don't have the biggest, most expensive, WICiest wedding ever, they will take you down, and then tell you that you shouldn't come to their space if you don't want to take the beatings. Lovely. On the other side, we have These people, oh they are the nice ones. They are creative and funny and unique and don't give a rip how much anything costs. Except they do, but in the opposite direction. These people will build their own barn, out of scraps they have collected in the woods, and then after the reception they will donate their barn to some wildlife refuge something or other to save the environment and also...give squirrels a place to live. Or something."


So this is kind of my equivalent to a planning bio on TheKnot. I'm going to post pictures and links and ask for suggestions from my blog friends and people I know, especially about dresses, which I really, really want to get checked off the "to-do" list soon. Blarg. I knew dress-shopping would be my least favorite thing. I was right. Go, me!

Before I jump into the dress/neckline/shoe thing, I want to catch you up on the basics of the event as it's shaping up. Right. Okay.


We're getting married in the Hershey Gardens in August where our blissful wows of undying love will be punctuated by the sounds of screaming by people riding the Sidewinder. Sweet! We've chosen to get married in the Oak Grove, which will hopefully muffle the sounds of amusement park thrills somewhat.


As guests arrive at the ceremony site, our ceremony musicians, Cantiga, will be playing Celtic-ish versions of classical music. They are a Renaissance Faire band who won't be wearing their garb. Several of their CDs recently became available on iTunes. The group includes a harpist, cellist, violins, Irish flute, etc. as well as a percussionist who's bringing a bodhran (the circular drum thingy that I became obsessed with wanting to learn to play after seeing the Four Bitchin' Babes in concert.)

The musicians will play their own pieces, as well as more traditional wedding music at our request, i.e. Canon in D, but Cantiga style. FIRST REQUEST FOR SUGGESTIONS: I'm looking for ideas for processional music, folks. Remember, we're going for Ren Faire-inspired, without making everyone feel like they ought to be gnawing on giant turkey legs and flashing their plus-sized boobs. As the wryly proud but weary owner of plus-sized boobs myself, Ren Faires are my place to SHINE. But we're not getting married at a Ren Faire, a decision that is totally and completely on purpose. Huzzah!

I kind of like the prelude to Bach's Suite No. 1 for the cello, which you can hear played by Yo-Yo Ma in this YouTube video. It's a tribute to Salvador Dali, which is totally random for this post, but the important thing is the music.


The ceremony will include a number of non-traditional traditions, including some adapted from Joel's Jewish and my Catholic upbringing. Emphasis on ADAPTED. Gwen, our Jewish Bridal Ninja, has agreed to say a Hebrew blessing over the wine, which we'll be drinking out of a Navajo wedding vase made by one of Joel's artisan friends from Moab. We're going to include a holy water blessing, but the water will be collected from Matrimony Springs in Utah, blessed by the guy who brings Nanny communion in the nursing home, and stored in the mayonnaise jar that my dad has always kept holy water in since our house was blessed in 1985.

Our officiant is a teacher at Joel's school and an ordained member of the Interfaith Council of New York, but the simplest way to describe her is to say that she is Strega Nona incarnate. I love her.

Joel has three groomsmen and a junior groomsman. I have two attendants, two flower girls and a Best Dog, who will be attended to by a co-worker/friend/Bridal Ninja In Charge of Canine Affairs who wishes very much to wear a bridesmaid dress. First. Instance. Ever. in Womankind. I'm touched. (Fred is our Best Cat in Absentia, and Ollie is the Jr. Best Cat Who Will Also Be Lolling in the Air Conditioning at Home, Dear God.) Alissa is also a Bridal Ninja in Charge of Ceremony Blessings. There are also two Musical Bridal Ninjas who will sing during the ceremony, provided that one of them is able to fly in from England in time and the other one has resumed talking to me by then.

After the ceremony, Cantiga will be moving with all of us to the nearby gazebo for cocktail hour. They will begin to play more rollicking, Ren Faire type drinking songs. I still might ask them to avoid anything with the word "grog" and/or "nonny" in it. SECOND REQUEST FOR FEEDBACK: What do you think?


The reception will be held in a tent just beyond the gazebo. Our biggest extravagance of the entire wedding is an air-conditioning unit for the tent. Woo hoo.

Here's where we get to the fun part that I have "inspiration pictures" for. Wow, I feel like a real knottie now. Huh.

The tent will be lit with round Chinese paper lanterns.

The florist, dear, sweet man that he is, was really genuinely excited when he found these wrought iron trees to form the basic structure of the centerpieces. (Also? He has a dog named Wheezy. Love that.) The centerpieces will be more or less like the photo above with colors that keep more in kind with the basic color scheme.

I'd like to line the path up to the bathroom with luminarias, but not pink ones.


The wedding colors are chocolate brown and aqua. Yes, I know I will probably hate myself in twenty years. Screw you, Me in 2028! (The aqua is inspired in part by the opal in my engagement ring.)

What kind of flowers do you think would best accent this color scheme? I think a very light pink might highlight the aquas and brown quite nicely, but I know Joel and the other men who will receive boutinierres wouldn't be thrilled with pink roses.

The florist recommended Sahara roses.

What do you think? To beige-y blah?

I like this bouquet from Bride and Bloom magazine, but I know hydrangeas won't hold up in the heat. I like the pink astilbe(the fluffy, branchy ones), though.

Regarding that thing about hating myself in twenty years? See, I have developed a theory about this since our last discussion of paper parasols and wedding trends. This is partly drawn from Michelle's comment about everything looking dated at some point in the future.

I think, no matter what, in ten years I will think whatever I choose will look dated and probably a little bit silly. In twenty years, I will be horrified at the tackiness. In thirty years, I'll be hushing my sarcastic, tweenage, hypothetical daughter as she shrieks with laughter ("POOP BROWN?!? It's so ugly BWA HA HA HA!") with the same wry, "That was the style then, sweetie" that my mom gave me and Amanda about her Love Boat Wedding. In forty years, I'll probably start to think it all looks quite charming and vintage. In 50 years, I will think it looks elegantly antique, and in 60 years, I won't remember if I had melted crayons or nursing home pudding for lunch, let alone what I wore to my wedding.

On the other hand, if my great-great-grandchildren display at photographs of Joel and me at all, they will probably chose to frame and show a portrait from our wedding. So in many ways, a woman's wedding dress is the dress she'll be immortal in. This is also the reason you should hire a professional to take your wedding pictures (PIMP! MILESTONE IMAGES! PIMP!).


You'd think finding a photographer would be the hard part for me, right? Except I have this total photo crush on Anne Ruthmann, who we are so, so lucky to have booked. I have absolutely no photography-related stress at all. She is a force to be reckoned with. A force, I say!

I just found Melissa Costantino of Pea Patch Videography, and we're in the negotiating phase. I love her style. I love that she knows how to white balance her camera, and I love that she uses very minimal transitions and special effects, unlike some of the more terrifying videographers out there. The new trend seems to be creating wedding trailers, I guess? And they're all about drama and suspense and building tension. That's cool, I guess, but part of me just wants to duck and cover by the time I get to the end of the first sample trailer. It's like the preview for Final Destination 4: The Wedding. (Cue deep movie announcer voice: "Coming summer 2008!" BAM!) Um, hold me?

Which leads to... THE LIGHTING ROUND ! (dunt dun duuhhh)


Formal dress shopping has always been- to draw from antiquity and literature- my Achilles heel, my personal Moby Dick (great white whale=fat bride metaphor intended). Here's what I've decided. I'm sorry; I personally can't do strapless.

This wedding planner-turned-blogger writes far better about the reasons why not everyone (read: me) should wear strapless. It's not a weight thing. I know plenty of women in every size clothes come in who have looked GORGEOUS in strapless. Pit Tit happens to skinny chicks, too. I give you (courtesy of the same blogger) Sarah Jessica Parker, with armpit fat.

You're welcome. I seem particularly afflicted when it comes to Armpit Fat. Also, the better the bra, the worse it gets. Too much sharing? Sorry. But it would be worse if you saw me wearing a strapless dress. Run away, run away! Strapless is just not for me. I have determined that I do want to wear an off-white or ivory dress, because I'm so pasty that bright white washes me out and makes me look like a corpse.

So here's where I am with this. All praise the halter neckline, like the one on this dress.

This was a flattering top for me. The boobs have a little emphasis without being the whole shebang. The cut is slimming around the armpits. Just sayin'. This dress, among others, helped me determine that I don't want to wear an A-line, full length dress. It makes me look like a wide, wide triangle. (Triangle man, Triangle Man, Triangle Man hates Person Man...) The train will get dirty dragging on the ground in the garden, and if there's anyone in the world who can't keep a white dress clean for a whole day, it's me.

As a result, I am digging the tea-length trend, see above, what with the garden dirt and the August heat, and- minus the strapless Pit Tit factor- I loved the way this dress with a high-low hemline moved and swished when I tried it on. The only thing I didn't love was how all the beading gave me serious Chub Rub issues on the insides of my upper arms.

Now, I LOVED this tea-length dress at Alfred Angelo, especially once we added an aqua accent ribbon around the waist, except for the strapless pit tit nightmare. And folks, believe you me, it was BAD.

Here's another view of the same dress.

So the question is, can I turn a strapless dress into a halter neckline? How high maintenance is that? Just thinking about it makes me all tired. I just want to put on an old t-shirt with holes in it and lay on the couch morosely eating Spaghettios.

So let's recap. I am looking for a tea-length or high-to-hemline halter dress without a train. I can't find any tea-length dresses with halter necklines. Period. Anywhere.

Yes, I've heard the suggestion about getting a bridesmaid dress in ivory, and the ladies on the Indiebride boards love Coco Myles. She lets you design your own dress online and then promises to produce it for like, $175 or less. You can't try them on first, but you can ordser swatches. The mailing address is a P.O. Box here in Stepford. Part of me wants to pitch a story about this service just so I can see the dresses up close. Journalistic integrity, anyone? Indeed.

I showed this Design-It-Yerself sketch from the Coco Myles website to my co-worker/bridal ninja who said, "It looks like a nightie." True.

Now, I kind of love these dresses by Stephanie James. I like the flirty, offbeat factor, but a lot of them are crazy poufy, and I don't want to look like a vintage caricature of myself.

Also, she makes her gowns out of a boutique in California, which I don't see myself dropping by anytime soon. That's not happening.

So maybe some sassy shoes? Which will have to be flats, to keep me from sinking into the grass. So... ballet flats? Something like these maybe?

Would aqua flats that match an accent ribbon around my waist be too much? What if I added vintage shoe clips for offbeat sassiness? Or if the shoes were ivory and the shoe clip were aqua?

What do you think? About any of it? All of it? Especially regarding dresses: HELP. ME.

Okay, this is the longest stretch of time I've spent thinking about the wedding. Yikes. I officially need to go read some Tolstoy or pen a feminist rant about the sizist trend of uexploiting little people at Super Sweet 16 parties on MTV. Or maybe I'll just be laying on the couch, moaning feebly and hitting the refresh button on your comments.

Ideas, suggestions, feedback: Bring it on, ladies. :)


Anonymous said...

Your wedding is going to be so beautiful and unique, I love it! Personal weddings are the best, I have grown to hate country club, cookie cutter weddings.

So first, and most important, the dress. Have you thought about buying a regular dress and having it cut to the length you want? I think your vision is perfect for the setting but it has proven to be kind of difficult to find a dress so why not just find a great seamstress instead? Adding to a strapless dress might be a little more risky than taking a dress with the bodice and neckline that you want and just cutting off all the excess. You could certainly save that material and use it for something else at the wedding (no ideas jumping into my head right now but I'm sure you could come up with something).

As for shoes, ballet flats sound fabulous but if you feel limited with that, you could do something with a heel that is not spikey. Or even a wedge would work with your garden look (I am envisioning a garden theme, I could be completely off). When I was getting my shoes I had ordered about 7 pair from zappos, tried them on and returned 6. I was left with my favorites (although not everyone agreed) which I was thrilled with and still adore. I think they were Chinese Laundry, they usually have fun shoes.

For flowers, I think a really light pink or even peach would compliment the blue. Maybe soft pinks and ivory would mix well and not be too pink. Flowers were so hard for me, depending on the season you are pretty limited with color. Hydrangea might be hard to get in August and like you said, they are so delicate. I found that in September I didnt have many options besides roses, which I didnt want at all, so we compromised and went with blown open roses for more of a garden look. I love the bouquet you have pictured, it is completely the look I am imagining for you.

Sorry, I am no good with music. We had canon in D as our processional and then normal church music. I did do some unusual versions of songs just to shake things up a little. I found everything online (I spent a lot of time online).

Cocktail hour music - I think having the ren faire music is a great idea. Cocktail hour music is usually more of backround music so it is ok if it isnt music that everyone is familiar with (as opposed to reception music when everyone will be dancing) plus it is another unique touch with I LOVE!

Ok I think that's it. I love everything, you are going to have such a beautiful day and more importantly, it is going to be so much fun!

PS Ignore spelling errors, it is my first day back to work and I am not used to typing again yet!


neeeekeeee said...

hoooboy. In 2 short years I have utterly forgotten how many details there are in wedding planning!

Okey, for THE DRESS. If you love the top of a dress, but can't find the hemline you want, or length- how about getting the dress altered at the bottom? People chop trains off all the time, and as long as there isn't crazy beading, it shouldn't be too complicated, ne c'est pas? Even if there IS beading or detail at the hem, you can still get that moved around (J did.). It must be easier to alter a dress that fits on top than create a dress top from scratch. I hear your formal dress frustration, so I am crossing my fingers even harder (and notice I'm still typing ok! :) that you can find and alter a dress that makes you feel as gorgeous as yer gonna look.

As for the flowers, it's a garden...I think the rose you posted (not white-white) is beautiful, and will highlight the brown-blue better than a competing color. Plus, y'know, that bit about making Joel wear pink. I can see future tweens getting no end of amusement from Dad In Pink Flowers.

Anonymous said...


I cannot overemphasize how awesome it was to wear flip flops as wedding shoes because a) they didn't hurt zee feet and b) they came off easily for dancing. GO GO GADGET COMFY SHOES!

I liked when you were talking about using a chunky accent in brown/blue. white shoes? glass slippers? birks? :) bare feet? simple little sandals.

-the unhelpful neeekeeee!

Michelle said...

I think I hated dress shopping as much as you did. I literally cried after going to my first 3 places because I couldn't stand the whole "this is the biggest decision of your life" feeling (honestly? give me a break!), the awful, awful people whose job it is to get you to feel bad about yourself until you are in their most expensive dress, and the ridiculous price of it all. When I went back east for the holidays of 2005, I begrudgingly went to the Macy's in Herald Square (since they have a bridal section) with Angela, picked out about 10 dresses that I thought might work (they all look SO different on the hanger than they do on your body!), and ended up buying the dress that I wore about 2 hours later for under $700 - taxes and all. So, I agree with everyone saying that you can chop the bottom off (since I had to get about 8 inches taken off of mine since I am so height-challenged), and I suggest looking in that Macy's because I really thought they had a great selection.

As for flowers, we had a 3 color scheme because my florist said that it was much easier to work with 3 colors vs. 2 colors. So, since you are doing chocolate and aqua, I would suggest adding "cream" or "champagne" as your third color. You see, we started off as wanting black and cranberry, and then I found a champagne colored dress and that easily became our third color. That makes things like flowers, ties, centerpieces, shoes (for you or your girls), dresses, boutinierres, etc, easier because you have this nice neutral color that you can use as an accent color to the aqua and chocolate.

Oh, and speaking of shoes, I think that with enough internet searching, you should be able to find THE PERFECT SHOE, without having to worry about clips and such. Most places offer free shipping both ways, so my suggestion is to start now and go through as many pairs as you have to until you are satisfied. Also, I bought one pair to wear until the serious dancing started and then I bought a $10 pair of white flip-flops from Payless and I wore those for the rest of the night. I also think that ballet flats won't make you feel feminine enough (just my opinion) and that you should at least try to go with a 1/2 heel, which can certainly be a wedge heel and not a stiletto heal. That's just my opinion, though, because NOTHING makes me feel prettier than having a bit of a heel on (whether it is on a boot or a shoe or whatever). For me, there is no easier way to feel "girly" (which I don't like to do except for special occasions) than wearing a heel (and a good bra, since I usually wear Target bras). :)

Let us know if you need more advice. :)

Michelle said...

Oh and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pics of those centerpieces. And I thought you'd want to know that the pic of your centerpiece is in the wrong place on that post. You just reversed the pic of the centerpiece and the pic of the things you want to line the way to the bathrooms. At first, I thought you wanted the centerpieces to line the way to the bathroom, and it seemed a bit odd! :)

gwen said...

I want to gnaw on a turkey leg at your wedding! Also, you know that all Hebrew blessings contain the words "hey nonny nonny," right?

I have no actual advice on any of this except that I think you should do exactly what you want and remember that your SPECIAL DAY will be special no matter what.

Also, at J's cousin's wedding in LA a few weeks ago, the centerpiece had lemon and lime slices trapped inside it. All the guests at the table had literally a 20-minute conversation about what they were doing there, how we could get out, if they would taste like flowers, whether we could spritz them on our dinners, etc. It was quite great, and also the first time I have ever remembered anything about any centerpiece, ever, after a wedding.

Michelle said...

I also forgot to mention that thinking of music ideas is definitely not my forte. However, I know many, MANY people who excel at it (since part of UR is the Eastman school of music and many of my college friends are seriously musically inclined and now music is somehow related to their careers). You met quite a few of these folks at my wedding and they all LOVED you, so if you need me to hook you up with people who know a lot about music, let me know!

Alissa said...

hey there... I agree with the folks who suggested finding a dress where you like the top part, since that seems to be your primary concern, and altering the bottom to suit your tastes. I think that will probably be the easiest and cheapest option, as well as the one that will make you most happy. If you think about photos - don't most people look at the top part more than the bottom? There are always lots of photos of the top half of people, but none of only the bottom. :) (Maybe just a detail of an interesting hem or something). I think you should focus your attention on getting what you really want on the bodice, and then it should be fairly easy to alter the bottom to something you like.

For the flowers - I don't think your suggestion was "too beigy." You want to highlight the aqua, right? I think if you go with a competing color, it might dilute the effect of the aqua, no? Call it champagne, and it won't sound as boring as beige. :) I guess that's what I'm doing - Berry, black and ivory (champagne, whatever!). :) We have our "color" in the berry, and the black and ivory just set the color up to shine. I don't think it's boring, but I do think it will support your main punch of color in the aqua.

Will the musicians be singing, too, or just instrumental? Have they ever done weddings before? It seems like most ren-faire music is pretty well suited for a cocktail hour- upbeat and fun. I'm sure you'll see people doing a little jig as they wait in line for their fun drinky drinks. :)

lauren said...

Praise you, sister, for calling out the strapless dress for the demon that she is. HATE!!!!!!!!!! Why must she look so cute in pictures, but then create fat on unsuspecting women where there seemingly is none to begin with? (Oh, and you are so right about the size thing. I couldn't wear strapless when I was a size 10. Now I'm a size 4, and I STILL cannot pull it off. In fact, it looks worse than ever. WTF?)

I say go halter all the way, babe. Find a bodice you love, chop off the skirt, and have a good tailor attach the skirt of your dreams (I'm loving that high-low lacey one, by the way.)

Cheers to you, RAGE to strapless.

Jillian said...

Best dog?! I get to see Bella! So excited! :)

Right back to important wedding details! Love all of your ideas and how personal you are making the ceremony!

I'm a huge fan of the white/champagne colored roses. But maybe I'm biased since I loved the white roses we had at our wedding...

And I totally agree with finding the dress you like the top of and chopping off the bottom. I cut the train off of mine and well attempted to make it into a wrap (that caused a meltdown just days before the wedding..) but if you are cutting more off your dress, you'd probably have much more success than I did at turning the extra material into a wrap if the evening gets cool.

It's amazing how many details there are... it just took me a long time to remember what our processional song was.. it was the wedding song by Peter, Paul and Mary - it was sentimental since it was my parents song at their wedding. Just a thought if a certain song has sentiment to parents, or others....

Oh and the shoes... the bloody shoes... I advise you to start looking now! I think I finally found mine less than a month from the wedding. Although as you might remember I wore them for all of 5 minutes at my wedding...

My overall advice- keep things as simple as possible! :) Your wedding will be fabulous and gorgeous!

And if you need help with anything, let us know!!!

neeeeeekeeeeee said...


if you for any reason should want a, "most ridiculous dog" to make Bella look even more like the BEST DOG, let us know and we'll bring the Maggie. You won't mind if a 70lb dog jumps on your dress with muddy paws, right? I mean, she has cute brown floppy ears.

Just kidding! But someday you and Joel have to meet our Magaroo. She's a sweet, sweet whackjob.

cindy w said...

Music idea: check out "The Princess Bride" soundtrack. It's all guitar pieces by Mark Knopfler - a little Ren Faire-ish, but not overwhelmingly so - and there's some really beautiful stuff in there. That's the music that I walked down the aisle to. (I left the music choice up to Dave, he picked it, and I gotta say that it was pretty darn perfect.)

Agree with everyone else about finding the dress you like and having it hemmed to the length you want. HOWEVER!! I have no idea what your legs look like because the only pictures I've seen of you have been head shots. But, be very careful with the tee-length dresses, because there is a very thin line between gorgeously tailored and sloppy mess. Especially if you're going to wear the dress with flats, there's a pretty high risk of looking stumpy, and that is the LAST thing you want. So: find the dress, get a seamstress, have her pin the dress to the length you want, and try it on with the shoes *before* she cuts the fabric.

Good luck! :-)

G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G said...

Please do look at the second photo of Helen Mirren. And listen to Gabe Dixon!

Becky said...

Hey there, Angie! I've got a few thoughts for you on the dress. Do you know anybody who can sew quite well? It might be worth it to look into getting a dress made for you. I've been scanning through some patterns online ( to access McCall's, Vogue, and Butterick), and there are some pretty good ones that could be modified to get the tea-length high-low hem you're looking for. For instance, go to the Vogue section of the website, and search for pattern # V2883. Pattern V8449 might be a good option, too, though definitely a more simple design. #2962 is a more vintage look, but it's got a halter, and you could do the tea-length version. While you're there, just take a look at Vogue's bridal, dress, and vintage sections.

Don't get too hung up on the picture and the fabrics chosen, think of the dress in the color (white, ivory, champagne, whatever) you're thinking about going.

Re: music. The Bach cello concerto you've linked to is very classic and beautiful. Geoff and I chose selections from Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks," so I'm partial to that, but it's lovely, and I know there are tons of arrangements for it, so finding something for a string quartet shouldn't be too difficult. I can't remember what else we thought about using for a processional, but the "Prince of Denmark March" (aka Trumpet Voluntary) sticks out in my head for some reason, so it must have been a contender.

Re: cocktail hour music. I like the direction you're going in, with drinking songs. It'll make for a nice happy uptempo gathering, and that's always good!

Re: flowers. They're not that important to me, and honestly I don't pay much attention to them at any wedding. Unless they're really important to you, leave this decision in the hands of the florist you've hired. Tell her your color scheme, and the look you're going for, then let him do the rest. BTW, I love the wrought iron tree centerpieces. Awesome!

Alissa said...

So.... some of the comments here are more helpful than others, no?

Seriously...go with what you like and what feels good to you, even if someone else has a different opinion about what *they* like. I think the point here was supposed to be helping you figure out how to make the things you like a reality, instead of criticizing the things you like.

Just my two cents. :) Love you.