Monday, December 31, 2007

Keep the Groom Away from the Future In-Laws

Our guest list currently stands at 330 people. Which is a lot. It's quite a bit bigger than I had initially anticipated. The majority of the list comes from my side of the family, which includes immediate family (of course); aunts, uncles, and cousins (we're close on my side, so of course), and my dad's cousins and their children, which includes many people that I haven't seen in years (or ever, if I think about it).

The conflict arises here:

When I pictured my wedding, I imagined that it would be a large affair, but not 330 people (or even 275 with the "only ~80% of the invited guests will show" rule). Without having sent any invitations out, I'm already hearing (second party) that people are coming to the wedding. The wedding is turning into a family reunion, which is, on one side great - who doesn't like a family reunion?, but on the other, I'm not able to invite some of my friends, a difficulty everyone faces when planning a wedding, but really just not a fun situation.

Now to the title of the post. On the recent family vacation, my fiance, my dad, and I were relaxing in the hot tub, when the topic of wedding showers came up. "Oh, well, I'm sure your mother will have a shower with her tennis friends."

"I don't know, I think traditional etiquette says that a shower should only include people who have been invited to the wedding." (I am not stating this as fact, I'm actually not sure, but I think I read it somewhere.

"Well, I'm sure some of your mother's friends are going to be invited to the wedding."

At this point, I told him that I wasn't sure, because the guest list was already at 330, when my fiance joins in:

"I'm pretty sure that a lot of my family won't be able to make the trip to the wedding, so we might have that many people."

"OK, so we can invite more people, since they probably won't come."


Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Bridesmaids Strike Again

The day after Christmas, my entire family (and my fiance) jumped on a plane for a 5 day family vacation. As I have mentioned in a couple previous posts, my sisters are two of my bridesmaids. Which means that I am trapped in a house with them. Which means that, even though another bridesmaid flew in to look at bridesmaid dresses last week, these two have been surfing the internet.

They found that that one of the dresses that they liked but didn't even come in green, apparently does come in green. Some sort of green called "Apple," which could either be perfect or completely hideous. So now I'm on a hunt to see if there are any stores at all that have a sample dress in that color. I even checked a couple that are where we are on vacations - no dice.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Bridesmaids Luncheon

After we finished delaying lunch hour at Belle Saison, we headed to
the Olive Garden for lunch. We did manage to narrow down the number of
finalist bridesmaids dresses from nine to three, which meant that I
could erase a lot of the pictures ok my camera that we had taken

Then my sister asked me why i was getting so stressed out about "the
planning." I told her how I felt like my mom was undermining me at
every decision.

"Well, you're really being difficult when Mom and Dad talk to you about the wedding. They're concerned that you're not doing the research."

"That's the problem. Mom doesn't think I'm competent enough to research things, narrow down vendors to a list of options and choose one. I'm 26 years old and in business school, I think I'm capable of doing due diligence."

And so it went, back and forth, until I finally said I didn't want to talk about it anymore. And then she did, so round and round it went until my friend stopped us in time for a stonily silent car ride back to the apartment.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

More Bridesmaid Extravaganza

One of the reasons that I wanted to look at dresses at the bridal store was purely selfish - I wanted to try on veils and get the girls' opinions. This also meant that I got to put on my dress again! I think this dress thing is becoming an obsession which, if you knew me, you might not expect. I'm going to be the girl who wants to put on her dress and wear it around the house, but I guess that's better than the girl who actually wears the dress around the week before the wedding.

My saleslady helped me put on my dress again, though I fear she was hoping that we would leave so that she could go to lunch. We pulled a few veils, and my sister found the perfect one, which even comes in a color that matches the "cafe" trim on the dress. Finally, we left the store around one, with the "narrowed down" list of nine dresses.

Then we went to lunch. . .

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Mischief

Well, I was going to finish my story about the bridesmaids dresses, but I am currently distracted by my plot to teach my fiancé a lesson. One of the first things (or maybe it was just around the first Christmas) that my mother-in-law told me about my fiancé was that when he was little, she had to really hide the Christmas presents, because he and his brother would unwrap the presents while they were at work, play with them, and then wrap them back up.

My family does not tolerate those kinds of shenanigans. When we were growing up, my parents always threatened to take our presents back if we peeked, and we believed them. The one time I did peek in the closet at the presents, the toy that I thought was so awesome turned out to be for my sister.

My fiancé has a bad habit of trying to guess what his present is, which always ruins the surprise factor which is the fun part of the Christmas. This year, I am going to teach him a lesson. He thinks he’s guest what his present it – a travel golf bag. As soon as he said it, I saw my chance, so I started giving him a hard time about how, by guessing his present, he had ruined Christmas.

I can’t wait until he opens the real present and is surprised that it’s not a golf bag.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bridesmaid Dress Extravaganza

Friday my sisters and another of my bridesmaids came into town and we went to look for a suitable bridesmaid dress. I had already determined that the color should be a medium green. Alfred Angelo calls it “clover,” but I’m not that picky, anything reasonably close will work. An hour later than we (I) had planned, we left the apartment. The reasons for the delay were numerous; my sisters woke up a little late, so did my other friend, then there were showers to be had, then my sister had to run to another store to pick up a Christmas gift.

While my sisters ran to the store, I had a talk with my friend. I asked her if she had seen “Meet the Fokkers.” She had, and I asked her to signal me if I said anything mean to my sisters by saying “muskrat.” Hopefully she wouldn’t have to use it, or if she used it, it would keep me from showing any frustration towards my sisters.

Finally, we left and set out for Belle Saison, where I had found my wedding dress. The salesperson that I had worked with was very helpful in finding dresses for me to try on based on what I told her a liked or disliked about other dresses. We walked in, and even though I hadn’t been in a couple months, she remembered me! What a nice feeling.

We went towards the racks and started pulling dresses. Then my sisters headed to the dressing rooms, as one of them would probably fit into the sample sizes, and the other helped her change in and out of them. All in all, I think we made my little sister try on at least 40 dresses over the course of two and half hours. I think at least that many because once we “narrowed them down,” we still had 9 dresses. I felt bad for the saleslady that had been so helpful, because I still wanted to try on veils with my dress, so I asked my sisters to get with my friend to try and cull a few dresses from the bunch while I changed into my dress.

More later…

Friday, December 21, 2007

Toilet Paper Dress

I was perusing the web for things to write about today, since the big "bridesmaid dress try-on extravaganza" occurs today, and found this story that appeared yesterday in the New York Times. The website Cheap Chic Weddings sponsored a contest for designers to submit entrants in the toilet paper dress contest.

This is the part I like - the website and Charmin asked the designer to make another dress for a bride, so she could wear it on her wedding day. Which is a nice gesture, because otherwise, this woman could have worn a toilet paper dress of her own making to her wedding.

If you go to the NYT website you can see that the dress does look (almost) like it was made out of fabric. It certainly is designed as if it was with real fabric, and is very pretty, I'm just not sure that would be something I would be willing to do.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Favorite Wedding Show

One of my bridesmaids flew into town yesterday to hang out/be in Austin while my sisters (and now she) tried on bridesmaid dresses. We made some cookies, peanut butter blossoms for the curious, and then we were sitting around. I asked if she minded if I turned on "mindless wedding TV."

"What's that?" (I know - I can't believe she's this ignorant either).

There are shows that devote the entire time to covering a wedding planner tackling a wedding.

We watched it enjoyably, then my fiance came home and the three of us made and ate dinner. After dinner, we were cruising through the DVR, since everything is a re-run, and we found out/I remembered that I had DVRed the show "My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding." It's my new favorite. Produced by VH1, the show is on the same "trashy" level as "Bridezillas." The brides and grooms are just ridiculous in the way they spend, or rather in the way in which the brides completely ignore their husbands requests for a budget.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Inflexible Church Lady?

I did get a response from the church lady who is in charge of the ceremony music. Unfortunately, it does not look good. I’ve been delaying my response.

She wrote to me to say that I didn’t need to contact her until January to schedule a meeting in mid-February. She also gave her appointment schedule, which is two days in the middle of the week from 3-5 in the afternoon. This really doesn’t work for us, since we live in Austin, the church is in Houston, and my fiancé can’t take off multiple days in a row from work, and both of us would strangle each other if we had to drive to Houston and back in one day. I’m not trying to be self-centered; I really understand that those times usually work for people.

The other part of her email which worries me is that the meeting lasts for 45 minutes to an hour. We sit with her and listen to the different music selections. My fiancé and I really do not have the longest attention spans, and I think it would just be painful. I think my plan is to email the church lady to see if she could send us a list of the selections, and we could listen to them on iTunes or something, and then get back to her with our choices.

I mean, that would be simpler. Something tells me that my plan might not fly….

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oooh, Pretty.

I love it when I take a step back, look at myself, and see a silly little girl playing at planning a wedding. The latest silly thing is that an invitation sample came in the mail last night. And it’s the greatest invitation sample ever. The invitations are the kind that you can customize the style you choose with any color paper, ink, whatever you can think of. I ordered a sample of one of the kinds of invitations that I liked, and that my fiancé had said he liked as well.

Oh, what a treat! I knew that the sample would include all of the paper samples, but I guess I didn’t realize how many there were. There were three different packages with all the different colors of papers. Oh so fun. Until the two of us tried to sit down and match colors. The first set I tried made our colors look like we were having a John Deere wedding, according to my fiancé. Well, that won’t do. Won’t do at all, but my fiancé wasn’t exactly ready to judge thirty iterations of green/yellow combinations.

Luckily most of my bridesmaids are coming into town tomorrow and Thursday, so we can look at dresses, so my fiancé was able to say the magic words, “Can’t you just do this with the girls and then show me one or two options?”

Sure honey.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Church Lady Woes

Since we are having a Catholic wedding, I have expected to have the occasional "run in" with the stereotypical "church lady." Now that we've selected the readings and vows, it's time to coordinate with the music minister to arrange for the church accompanist. Last week, I dutifully emailed the contact person, but I got an out-of-office message dated the day before.

That's no big deal, I mean, occasionally I would extend my out-of-office at work while I was still catching up the day I got back, just to let people know that I might be slow responding. It's been over a week, and she still hasn't responded. Hmmm.

I asked my mom if she was still out of town (she knows some other people at church), but she said that the music lady was in, but to be careful when I emailed her again, because she was "very sensitive" about that sort of thing. I'll wait patiently for a response, but if I don't get one, it sounds like I'll need to gather the gold, frankincense, and myrrh offerings...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sneaky Planning

I must admit that sometimes I feel unnecessarily embarrassed about planning for the wedding. For example, the other night was the final for the class I TA, which meant that I had to proctor the exam. I had just finished my exams that morning, so I had absolutely nothing to do until the next day, when we would have to start grading.

What’s an engaged girl to do with nothing to do, but a laptop on the desk in front of her – look at bridesmaids’ dresses for when most of her girls are in town, of course. The problem is, I think my professor might think less of me for looking at dresses. It doesn’t help that some of the bridesmaid dress websites are ridiculously girly/slutty. Who wants a slutty bridesmaid? I mean, she might want to look slutty, but if you’re having a church wedding, the last thing you’d want is a neckline down to someone’s navel.

I kept the profile pretty low for the first hour or two, looking at dresses, but keeping a gmail window up for when the professor came into the room. After a while I was bored with looking at dresses and I decided that switching to cakes was a fine idea. Men can certainly respect looking at cake. So I spent the rest of the time answering questions and looking at all of the cakes on the Knot website.

My professor came and was watching over my shoulder while I looked at cakes, which was a little weird (I mean, how fast do you click through things when someone else is watching), but he did give me a good piece of advice. He said that when he got married, he and his wife went cake tasting too early in the morning (8:30) and he got sick from too much sugar in the morning.

Note to self – be sure to build up sugar immunity before going cake-tasting – that was the moral, right?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bridesmaids Coming to Town

Yay! Three of my bridesmaids are coming into town to try on dresses.

I can't wait. I'm sure it will be an amazing afternoon filled with hidden disagreement, possible infighting, and unresolved anger! No, I don't think it will, but if I didn't have great bridesmaids, that could be the case. I think we'll have a good time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


OK - So to clarify the point of the previous post, it is not that I want to do business with a company that doesn't have a contract. My point is that the MOB tends to cut me off in the middle of sentences to state the obvious. As a graduate student pursuing my MBA - of course I would get something in writing. I actually kept pestering the DJ company with questions about how flexible the contract was with regards to the time of the event and whatknot.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quick DJ Update

Just enough time for a quick update between trying to not fall asleep standing up and studying for my last final.

After I got the emails back from the DJ, I called my mom to talk to her about it. I told her about the price discrepancies, but she seemed fine with it. Of course, then came the, "have them send the contract to you and then you send it to me, so I can look at it."

Then, I should have kicked myself before I said, "Oh, they didn't mention it (picture this part in slow motion). Maayyybbeee thheeyy doonn't haavve onn-

"Well, if they don't have a contract, we're not using them."

OK - Of course we wouldn't use them, but what are the odds that they don't have a contract. Or that if they didn't have a contract and we asked them to, they would most likely put something in writing for us. My mom was just so final about it. Argh. I kind of feel like I'm acting as the wedding planner and my mom is acting like the bride. Hopefully that feeling will go away after finals.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More DJ Talk

When last I posted, I had just called the DJ to get more information on booking them. As I said, I called them, but had to leave a message with the office at 10 o'clock (I don't know why they weren't open). Maybe they were open, but just really busy.

Well, the woman who called me back called and asked if I was available, but got my first name completely wrong. Then we clarified it was me, then I finally figured out who she was, she hadn't said when she picked up the phone. I had been on their website, so I just wanted to clarify a few points.

1) Have you ever performed at an event at our reception site (Ans: no, but apparently the event coordinator's mother lives somewhat close).

2) We've found some songs that we want on our list, but I certainly don't want to plan four hours of music out (Ans: oh, well that's why people like our DJ service, we have an online planner where you can select every song that you want us to play)

3) Oh, no, we don't know what songs we want to play, is that a problem? (Ans: Ohhhhh. No, not at all, our DJ's are great at reading the crowd.)

4) [This question was on behalf of my mother, I dunno, maybe she was thinking there was an opportunity for arbitrage?] If we buy the extra time at the discounted rate before the event and then don't use it, do we get a refund? (Ans: No, I don't think we've ever had anyone buy it, but I can ask and get back to you)

5) How much is a wedding reception (Ans: The price is $695 for 4 hours) !!! In my head, I thought that I had seen that the price was $595 in a website generated email they had sent me.

In the meantime, the event planner sent me the "welcoming email" which I had previously requested on the website, which had the new price on it. I responded to it by saying that I had been on the website several months ago and the price listed was $595 for four hours, had the price changed?

A few hours later she responded that the prices hadn't changed, but that price was only for Beaumont brides. ??? I'm a little annoyed, mostly because, seeing as my fiance is a lawyer, this seems like false representation. Unfortunately the unreasonable "But I want it" bride in me really likes the rest of the qualities of the DJ service, and wants to overlook it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Planning "Issues"

This morning has been annoying. I've been putting off calling the DJ I want to book, because I don't like talking to strangers on the phone. I realized that one of the Bridal Extravaganza's (or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious whatevers) is coming up in January, so I'm trying to book the vendors I know I want before then, in case our wedding date turns out to be "popular;" I don't want a random other bride to see the vendor at the show and book them up. I don't like using the phone partially because I'm a shy person, but I also really like being able to see someone's facial expressions and mannerisms while they're talking to me. If I could, I would email all the vendors, but the MBA in me knows that if I did that, I wouldn't nearly be doing due diligence.

So, I got all the information I might need together to talk to the DJ: a list of questions (though there aren't many), the website for the reception site, and the list of Knot questions for your reception music vendor.

I slowly dialed the phone. I pressed "send." I waited. The phone rang. Again. Again. Again. The answering machine for the office picked up. Yargh. I left a very polite message, and now I just have to wait for him to call me back. (This is where my mother inserts a comment about how if I had called them yesterday, they would have been there.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wedding Mapper

Alright, this is a shameless plug, but one of my good friends has a wedding website, and she found a cool mapping feature. The site is called, and it looks like it is based on Google Maps. You get your own map web address, and then you can place map markers on points of interest with their own descriptors. They have special markers with designs for the church, reception site, people's houses, and the airport. It lets people take a look at the city they will be visiting and where their hotel (which you can also mark) fits into the locations for the different sites. This site would be really great for destination weddings, or really, any wedding where many of the guests will be coming in from out of town.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Alternative Registries

Recently, one of the Google ads that popped up above my email was for a registry service that didn’t necessitate using actual products in actual stores to register. Writing that, I realize it sounds like I’m about to get into some sort of money laundering scheme. Which I’m not. I don’t think.

My fiancé and I have wanted to include things for the honeymoon in a registry but haven’t been able to find a site that will do it. Until now – this site is actually pretty practical. To create a registry, you just make a list then put an approximate price in for the item. Your guests can login to the registry and make contributions towards different items – which is good because the guests don’t have to contribute the entire amount.

My problem with the site is – you’re basically asking your guests for cash. That’s what they give the company, and the company cuts the couple a check. The kicker is that this company adds a percentage onto the guests’ gifts to cover their costs (the site claims the take is as low as 1%). Really, you’re just asking your guests to pay a premium for the guise of etiquette. Wouldn’t something like a tasteful statement on our webpage such as, “We are planning on going to Greece for our honeymoon. Yada yada. We plan on allocating any monetary gifts towards our honeymoon, with extras such as a really special dinner or a sailing trip.” I’m still undecided as to what we can do. Goodness knows I don’t want to offend any of my guests, and they will be checking everything we do against Emily Post.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Betting on Losing Weight

My fiancé found another interesting article in the New York Sun while he was toiling away at the salt mines. Apparently two Yale professors decided that a great incentive to lose weight would be commit themselves financially to the task. One of the professors tested the method on himself. He made a bet with a friend of his that if he didn’t lose 1 pound per week, he would pay his friend $1000. The two professors have founded a website based on the plan ( – based on the “carrot and the stick”). They hope to eventually roll out the plan to help companies incentivize their workforces to lose weight, be healthier, or be on time for work. The payments for failing to meet goals will be paid out to charities, though not of the participants choosing.

Maybe it’s because I’m marrying a lawyer, but, ladies, I smell a class-action lawsuit on the horizon. Women have been doing this for decades! Think of all the brides you know who purchased their rather expensive wedding dresses just a size (or more) too small to motivate themselves to lose weight before the big day. Think about how much more effective the wedding dress was than buying a pair of jeans a size too small. I think these professors need to stop patting themselves on the back, and realize that they’ve only taken an existing weight-loss strategy and modified to the point that men and corporate America can understand it. Ladies, we should all be disappointed in ourselves for not exploiting this opportunity sooner.

Find the article at:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Worst Promotional DVD Ever

The last time we were at my parent’s house, I decided to bring up the subject of a DJ. To which my mom says, “Oh, I already found one.” Exclamation points go off in my head.

Me: Is it the one I emailed to you, the one that was listed on the other reception site’s (the one we didn’t pick) recommended vendor list.
MOB: No, this one is one I found on the internet, the cheapest one I could find. It’s $100 cheaper than the one you sent me.
Me (internally): Oh my gosh, it’s some random idiot who has a website.
(externally): Who are they, do they look like they’re good?
MOB: Well, they sent me a DVD when I registered on their website. They might not be that good, because they kept calling me to try to pressure me into sending in a deposit. Do you want to see the DVD?

I decided to watch the DVD, even though all sign pointed to this operation being extremely shady. I really think it may have been the cheesiest DVD ever. Not only did it have “really cool” PowerPoint-style transitions between each of the scenes, the weddings featured looked like they were the tackiest things ever. Most of the guests were under dressed (and dressed sloppily) and looked really uncomfortable in front of the camera (even thought the DJ company was also billing their “really cheap but just as good” videography services).

I looked up the company online. It’s a national chain, and it looks like they book dates and then just hire any random DJ they can find. One of the “benefits” of using this company is “you don’t have to meet with the DJ before the reception,” he’ll just show up an hour before he’s supposed to be there. I don’t really feel the need to have a heart-to-heart or connect on a “personal level” with our DJ, but I think it would be good to sit down with him before the reception to go over everything.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bridezillas Selling Out

One of the “wedding shows” that my fiancé would tolerate watching with me (mostly because he’s a reality TV junkie) was “Bridezillas.” It’s usually a pretty entertaining show. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a bride who’s unusually demanding or moody or just plain crazy, and her fiancé puts up with it. Hilarity ensues. Usually.

At the end of the last season, for several of the shows, one of the two brides on each show just happened to be trying to lose weight before the wedding. And, each of those brides just happened to try NV. Then, shockingly, the show went on a couple minute diversion, during which, the producers showed the bride testifying to the drug’s ease of use and the various beneficial side effects. Then they cut to a few minutes of the bride at the gym (in her NV-logoed apparel) working out with her NV-appointed trainer.

I mean, really. That’s just blatant product placement. It’s not even product placement, it’s just paid advertising under the guise of the show. Hopefully, it has been too obvious to too many other people, and the network will not do it during the next season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You Know It's Love When...

Alright, so I had seen this video when I was looking for a YouTube clip for a class of mine. I, of course, clicked on it. The video is of a couple in England, who, for their first dance, re-enacted the final dance scene in Dirty Dancing. How does that happen? For this to happen, all of the following had to occur:

  • The bride had to want to re-enact the dance
  • The bride had to ask the groom to re-enact the dance with her, which means that he would be dancing (Swayze-style) in front of all of his drinking buddies and family.
  • The bride and groom had to practice the dance (do you think they went to a lake and practiced in the water first?)
  • The bride and groom had to convince a DJ that they actually wanted him to play the song while they performed the dance (again, the groom is emasculated in front of another guy)
  • The bride and groom actually PERFORM

I can only imagine what my fiance would say when I approached him with this idea (not that I would - I have horrible stage fright, and a lack of a complete obsession with Dirty Dancing). So, yes, it is surprising, but not all that unexpected that one couple coordinated this. What is shocking is that if you search "wedding dirty dancing" on YouTube, there are multiple couple's who performed this choreography in public.
Here's the link:

Monday, November 26, 2007


The save-the-date drama has officially begun. My lovely sister has graciously offered to print the cards out for us and send them out, too. She put together a proof last night, and, as we were on our way home from our Thanksgiving trip, she called to tell me that it was done and that she would email a color copy of it to me from her office in the morning. She had included the web address for our website so that the guests could check for travel and lodging information. I realized that I hadn’t talked to my mom to see if she had reserved a block of rooms for the guests (which is a task that she took upon herself and told me not to mess with).

I hung up with my sister and rang up my mom to ask her about the rooms.

Mom: Well, I haven’t looked into that because I don’t know how many rooms to get. How many save-the-dates are you sending out?
Me: 100, but that doesn’t include some of dad’s relatives who aren’t getting one (because they don’t all need one).
Mom: Well, ok, why don’t you send the guest list to me.

She keeps obsessing over having the “final” copy of the guest list. She has a copy of it. I really think she’s making everything too hard for herself, I mean, there aren’t too many out of town guests that aren’t getting save-the-dates. The number of rooms is at best a guess, why does she think she needs the actual list? Why am I stressing out about this? Yargh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Engagement Photo Session

I have been remiss in my writing, yet again. Of all the stories I have chosen to share with you, I have yet to inform you of our engagement photo session disaster. We decided that an outdoor shoot would look nicer, more natural, if you will. I wanted to get it out of the way before school started, which meant that we needed to do it in August, in Houston. We were crazy, I know, but I worked with the studio to schedule the session as early in the morning as they would let me.

We were to meet our photographer at 10:00 am down at the Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park. Our lovely dog was also scheduled to be in the pictures, so we planned to get to the gardens a few minutes early to allow for dog-handling issues. We also weren’t sure how long it would take us to get into the city, so allowed for some extra time there, as well, which meant that we arrived at the park at 9:30.

The gardens were lovely and, in true Hermann Park tradition, we ran into a couple of homeless people “showering” in the public restroom sink. To kill time (and tire the dog out), we walked around the gardens trying to stay in the shade to keep cool. Around 9:50, my cell phone rang; it was the photographer:

“I’m running a little behind. I was taking my grandmother to church and I got a flat tire. I should be there soon, but I just wanted to let you know I was running late.”

Seriously, that’s what she said. Even if that was the truth (who knows?), wouldn’t you lie and make up a more believable reason? Not that I'm a proponent of lying, but who would believe you? My mistake was not to ask her how long she thought she would be. The sun had come out from behind the clouds, and was starting to get hot. At this point, I went back to the car and retrieved a couple of kitchen towels that we had tossed in there in case the dog got muddy.

Finally, at 10:20, we saw a woman approach the park with a bag of camera gear. Tadaaaa! She had made it. She apologized profusely then claimed she would shoot quickly, so we wouldn’t be out in the heat too long. We hurried around the path in the park, stopping in several places to take shots, and finished in only an hour. Eww, it was so hot. Luckily I had brought the towels from the car, not for the dog, but because we used them to mop the sweat from our brows.

In short, it was a total fiasco. It did make it easier to choose which photos we wanted to send out to family, as there were few in which the dog behaved that we didn’t look like we had been plopped in the middle of the desert.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Shortest Pre-Marriage Counseling Session Ever

We recently went back to visit with our deacon at the church (other posts at My fiancé and I were excited; the last time we went to visit the deacon, he told us that we would only need to meet one more time until the week before the wedding. Here is the timeline of events for the meeting:

10:00 We arrive at the church office reception area.
10:04 Our deacon escorts us back to his office.
10:05 We discuss the humorous anecdotes from the rehearsal the evening before for the wedding of a local “celebrity” who happened to be marrying my arch-nemesis from elementary school (I know it sounds a little hard core, but we really didn’t get along).
10:08 The deacon officially starts the meeting, the focus of which will be how God will be a part of our marriage.
10:18 We find out that we only need two more meetings – one in a month or so to go over our vows and the meaning of the vows, with the final meeting taking place two months before the wedding to go over logistics.
10:19 We’re back out in the parking lot letting my parents know that we can push up our plans for the rest of the day because we’re done with counseling.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I've Done It

I’ve finally done it or, actually, found out that I’ve done it. I was talking to the girl who introduced my fiancé and I the other night, and she let me know that I had officially committed the most common wedding crime of all. I have pissed off one of my friends because she is not one of my bridesmaids.

I understand why she’s upset; I was one of her bridesmaids. To tell the truth, I was actually somewhat shocked when she called me to ask me to be one of her bridesmaids as we hadn’t talked for several months before her engagement. We live less than 200 miles away from each other, but we haven’t really seen each other that often. Don’t get me wrong, I was honored to be in her bridal party, and a fun time was had by all.

For our wedding, I wanted to keep the bridal party on the “normal” side, which to me meant three or four girls. My two sisters were obvious choices, and apparently we made a pact during my sister’s wedding planning, so I didn’t even have to make the awful choice of who would be the maid of honor. This left two spots open. One of those had to be filled by my college roommate who I continued to live with until she left for law school three years later. Which meant that the last spot was left for my one of my best friends that I met on the first day of college, and we’ve been friends and pseudo-roommates ever since.

Obviously (maybe not to everyone), having an angry friend is not the happiest situation to think about, so my plan is to not talk about it. Surely if I ignore the problem it will go away, or at least I will make myself believe so. Maybe my hurt friend will read this blog and know that I mean her and that I did not mean to hurt her. Let’s hope so.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You Say You Don't Want Flowers...

My mom and I were set to go to the appointment to see the florist. I had tried to get my sister to come with me, but she and her husband made plans to go away for the weekend. Boo. There we were, driving down to the parish’s florist, which wasn’t exactly close, but at lease we had a recommendation from the church coordinator.

MOB: “Now, when we’re in there, don’t ask me for advice on how I think something looks, because I don’t know anything about flowers and how they look or smell.”
Me: “OK” (in my head: “I wish my sister was here…”)

With that pep talk behind us, we pulled up to the florist and walked into the shop, which was almost surreal. There were gorgeous silk display arrangements everywhere. The owner is the person we met with and he showed us some of the bonsai trees he had made, where he had hand-beaded all of the leaves. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted, so we looked through a book of bouquet ideas. We found one that I kind of liked, and then he made some great suggestions, like replacing one thing with hypericum berries. I had seen those before and liked them, but hadn’t remembered until I said something.

After I chose the bouquet, we went through the list of corsages and boutonnieres.

MOB: “I do not want to wear a corsage, so we don’t need to order one for me.”
Me: “Mom, if you don’t pick out what kind of corsage you would like, I’ll just order one that I like and make you wear it the day of the wedding.”
MOB: “Well, I just don’t know if I should wear yellow. I mean, what if what I decide to wear doesn’t work with yellow? Maybe we should wear another color. Let’s have the mothers have white flowers.”

Right. The woman who doesn’t want to wear a corsage now needs to wear a white one. Isn’t white supposed to be reserved for the bride? I don’t even know that I want white flowers or white tablecloths. My dress isn’t white (it’s “pearl”). White is so stark, ivory at least has a richness to it. Maybe I’ll just call the florist and say I want to change the white to ivory. My mom doesn’t need to know…

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

The next thing that was on the list for a Houston trip was a trip to the florist, but how does one find a florist? I was trying to find a florist relatively close to the church and the reception site, which are twenty miles outside of Houston. One of my friends suggested it, as she had a friend whose florist who had forgotten one of the bouquets for the bridesmaids, and had to drive all the way back in town and back out to the site and was almost late for the wedding. The other main reason was cost. The flower shops down in town (unless you’re on Fannin) seemed to be pretty expensive, and flowers were not assigned a large part of the budget, so I didn’t want to go that route. Our reception site was absolutely unhelpful, as it doesn’t keep a list of recommended vendors (obviously they don’t have a kickback set up like the caterer).

My sister tried to help. She did a search of flower shops with some internet site and pulled up several that were in the area then sent me their numbers and websites. I scouted them out online and found that they looked okay, but all of the websites looked the same. They had different headers, titles and side things, but they were all pictures of the same bouquets. I called her up (at work J ) and asked what she thought.

Her: “Well, we can just go visit them and look at the flowers they have on display. If those look pretty, then they’re a good florist.”

Me: “That’s a horrible idea. I don’t want to spend all day driving around to florists and then judge them only by what they have out.”

A list of nightmarish possibilities ran through my head. The caterer could take the deposit and run, she could show up with not enough flowers, she could show up with the wrong flowers, or she could show up at the wrong spot. Not something to gamble on.

Then, a light bulb came on (actually, an email came in from the MBA student association notifying us about some networking event). I would use my networks, and the most powerful network of all is the Catholic Church. I quickly shot an email to the marriage coordinator at the church and asked her if the parish had a florist that worked well or often on the weddings in the church. Not five minutes later had gone by when she emailed me back with a name. So-and-so is the parish’s regular florist, and he will bend over backwards for you, especially if you let him know that you’re a parishioner. Bingo! I called the shop and set an appointment for that Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Catering (Are you full yet?)

As I put in the last post, we had experienced a successful tasting with the caterer I had found. I decided to dig out the requirements that the reception site has for any outside caterers, which don’t apply to their “preferred” caterers. Some of my favorites are:

  • Caterer must supply a $500 check as a deposit, which will not be deposited unless damages are discovered after the event.
  • Dishwasher is reserved for washing glasses, and any other Chateau Polonez supplied items. This will be taken care of by a Chateau Polonez employee.
  • Floors and counter tops need to be cleaned, mopped, and wiped dry.
  • Kitchen should not be used to cook the entire meal. It may be used for rehaeating, and items needed to be cooked fresh.
  • Caterer may use kitchen equipment for reheating, etc. Do not use equipment if you do not know how to use it. All equipment is powered by gas. DO NOT BLOW OUT THE PILOT LIGHTS!!!!
  • We assume you are a complete idiot. Please do not use anything in the kitchen that might be of actual use to you. Even though your client is paying us an additional $1500, none of that fee is allocated to the cleaning of the kitchen, please let us know when you are done scrubbing the grout.

No, that last bullet wasn’t actually in the contract, but it did bring up another point about which I can get indignant – over the time span of 4 weeks, they increased the outside catering fee by $300. I’m not entirely sure it is not a scam, but if it happens again, I’ll sic my lawyer fiancé on them.I gave the requirements sheet to the caterer and asked her if she would mind faxing it to the reception site the Tuesday after the tasting (the reception site does not operate on Mondays). She readily agreed (she is so easy to work with).

I called the reception site manager on Tuesday to make sure that she had received the form, and to make sure that we were all set with our “alternative caterer” in that she had met the outside requirements.I received an email later that afternoon stating:“The approval process begins with the outside caterer arranging a meeting with me. The outside catering agreement in your packet was just a sample to you of our requirements of them. To become an approved caterer, xxx needs to call me and setup and Outside Catering Appointment before your due date of xxx. ”That’s funny, because I had initially requested that she sent me the requirements for outside caterers, and no mention of said appointment had been made.

I was irate; we had less than a week for the caterer to receive approval before our deadline. Dismal thoughts flew through my head. We were going to miss the deadline, I was going to have to deal with the difficult “default” caterer, AND pay her exorbitant prices. AAAAAAH.

I tried not to panic, and called my caterer to see if she would mind meeting with the site manager. She said she would call and set everything up (did I mention how easy she is to deal with?). A few hours later, she called to tell me that she had made an appointment for the next week, but that she had convinced the site manager to extend the deadline for the meeting. Hurray! I love my caterer! I’m going to name our first-born after her (not really, but it’s a nice sentiment, right?).

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Catering Saga Continues

I realized that I had not recently provided an update as to the condition of our catering plans for the reception, so here goes:

We were under the gun. Our reception site (as previously mentioned ) had imposed a 60 day timeline on us to find a new caterer, or suffer the exorbitant costs and inflexible scheduling requirements of the site’s “preferred caterer.” We had one weekend in which we could make the trip to Houston to meet with the alternative caterer.

I emailed the caterer and, feeling like a complete dork, asked her if we could have a conference call to talk about her requirements before we came to Houston. She readily agreed, and so I set about getting super-prepared for the meeting. I emailed (noticing a trend?) the reception site coordinator and asked her what the “approval requirements” were for an outside caterer. I received an email later that afternoon with a three-page list of demands, which seemed extensive and a little over the top. The one that really set off bells was the requirement that the outside caterer place a deposit with the site. I thought that one would do us in, I really did. The call went well, we went over the list, and the caterer thought the deposit was odd, but didn’t make a fuss. We set a time for the tasting for the weekend we were coming into town, and we were left with the task of choosing the menu.

Mistakenly, I assumed that the process of choosing the menu would be somewhat simple. My fiancé and I would review the list of entrees, sides, and appetizers. The MOB weighed in, of course, “Well, I wouldn’t pick out anything too crazy, or else no one will eat it, but maybe you should choose something you two like for an appetizer. I mean, you want to remember what you eat at your own wedding.” What a lovely sentiment (yargh).

We proceeded to choose a beef/seafood entrée and, of course, a chicken (the Chicken Divan Supreme – it sounds cheesy, but delicious). Then I called my dad, to find out that no, he didn’t like peppercorn sauce. Who doesn’t like peppercorns? They’re just pepper. Everyone likes pepper. Then we hit a snag with the appetizers; my mom doesn’t like feta cheese – it tastes funny. A grown woman told me that she didn’t like something because it tasted “funny” (double yargh). We finally whittled down the menu to some choices to give to our caterer for the tasting.

Day of the tasting:

My dad insisted that we play golf in the morning, despite the fact that when we finish we have to hurry to drive into the city for a 2:00 pm tasting. When we get home, I have an email from the caterer asking if we can bump back the meeting, since the church is having a meeting in the room she was planning on using. Church? This was the first time I had realized we were meeting at a church; I had assumed we were meeting at her house. I responded that we could bump the time back, thinking that the last thing we want to happen on our wedding day is for the caterer to bump things back.

We arrived at the church and found the caterer waiting to direct us into the gathering hall, where she had a table set up just for us. She then brought out the appetizers, including the spinach and feta triangles, which I snuck onto the tasting list. My parents loved them! We loved it all; everything we tasted was delicious. At first we were a little wary of the beef tenderloin; it looked a little dry on the outside, but the inside was one of the most tender pieces of meet you would ever taste. Huzzah! We found a caterer! Now all I had to do was submit her information to the reception hall and we are good to go. Or so I thought…

More tomorrow - off to class.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ordering the Dress (or The Hunt, Concluded)

My mom has been mad at me because I’ve waited so long since I showed her the dress to order it. Unfortunately, the week after I showed her the dress, I had my two weeks of midterms start. That weekend, she told me not to even think about the wedding until after midterms. Done. Tuesday I get a call asking me, “Have you ordered your dress yet?” Seriously.

So, this week I made plans to order my dress. Since my mom is in Houston (and paying for my dress), and Belle Saison is in Austin, I called the store to see if she would still be able to pay for it, or if I would have to put the down payment on my credit card and then she would reimburse me. Luckily, they have a website where you can put in payments, so I was all set.

I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to order it, so I went on Friday, when we don’t have classes scheduled. Excitement was bubbling out of me during the Thursday night dinner-with-the-girls. I told one of my friends that I was setting aside the whole day for ordering the dress: the morning to prepare, before lunch to actually order it, and the rest of the day to be excited about it.

The problem is, ordering the dress is very anti-climactic. I walked in to the store and saw my sales consultant Kim. It would have been nice if she had remembered me, but I had only been in once, and that was a month ago. Once she pulled my file and asked me which dress I had decided on, she did remember me coming in to the store, so that was nice. She asked me if I wanted to try on the dress again.

Me (excitedly): Yes! I mean, is that OK?
Kim: Of course you can.

She pulled all the “foundation garments” that I needed for my dress and I tried it on and went and stood in front of the mirror again. Sigh. We also tried it with a couple of veils and tiaras, but then it was time for me to put on my real clothes and get measured. One thing that was exciting is that my measurements exactly matched a size on the size chart, so I probably won’t have to have much done to the dress, as far as alterations. The whole experience was over with in about twenty minutes, and then I went home and ate lunch. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wish there had been something more.

Other trials and tribulations in the hunt for “the dress”

Friday, November 9, 2007

Green Weddings (or - I'm a Bad Person)

My fiance sent me an article yesterday that he saw on MSNBC ( The article describes how couples can plan their wedding ceremony and reception to be “green.” I understand that we should conserve energy, reduce pollutants, and try to use sustainable resources, but I keep hearing this nagging voice in my head, “It’s your day - the one day you are excused from saving the earth...”

Some of the ideas seem doable: having your reception during the day outdoors, catering with organic meals, and having your guests carpool. I feel like those measures are normal, feasible, as I said a second ago, doable. However, there are some “different” ideas, such as “mak[ing] a group activity of trash time, throwing plates made out of sugar cane and utensils made from potato starch or corn plastic into compost piles.” Right. When I envisioned my wedding, I pictured my grandmother sorting her dinner remnants into compost piles.

Another point might be completely moot is the one in which they recommend you not use disposable dishes. I think most people choose their dinnerware based on affordability, and if they can afford it, they use china. If they cannot afford china, they would probably use disposable dishes, but most likely not the “plates made out of sugar cane and utensils made from potato starch or corn plastic,” because those sound expensive to me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dress Approval (or the Hunt, Take IV)

As I described in this post ( ), I had finally found a dress that I thought was the one, which left only one obstacle: the dress had to pass Mom’s inspection (insert ominous sound here). As she was in Houston, I obviously didn’t want to make her come all the way to Austin to see me try on the dress, so it had to wait until I got to Houston. Luckily, my fiancé and I went in to town a week later, so I was able to show my sisters and mom what my dress looked like.

We went back to the store we had first visited, but while I was still in Austin I called to make sure that the store did carry the dress that I wanted. I wasn’t especially looking forward to hunting through the racks for a style of dress (there were probably over a hundred on each row of racking). Luckily, when we got to the store, we had a salesperson assigned to us (I think we were lucky because we went early, and this is a store that won’t take appointments, so the store wasn’t busy yet). This saleswoman was probably someone’s daughter; she looked about 19 or 20, but the woman behind the desk proclaimed her an expert.

The salesperson had an idea of where the dress was located, but apparently, no idea what it looked like. I described it to her, but ultimately I was the one that found it. I went to the dressing room, where my sister helped me put the dress on, while I mistakenly left my mother outside with the store’s “expert.” When I came out to show her the dress, I got an expected response (from my mother): “That’s nothing like the other dresses you tried on.” I kept the groaning in my head and replied, “Well, I know, but I really like this dress.”

Then she said that she thought the train was too long, to which the “expert” saleswoman replied that the train came in three different lengths: royal, cathedral, and chapel. It did not. I had been to the website, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t see a purpose in telling the woman that she was wrong, after all, we weren’t going to purchase the dress at that store (the three lengths was actually referencing the three different “hem-to-hollow” lengths).

My mother then decided that I had no idea how they would decide which size to order, and then explained it to me, even though I had just ordered a bridesmaid’s dress with the same process (for those of you not familiar with the process, they take your measurements, then order the largest size that accommodates your measurements. My mom, for some reason (J), became upset when I cut her off and finished her explanation for her. I understand to a certain degree, when my younger sister got married, she was quite a bit younger, and didn’t know what she was looking at most of the time, or what questions to ask.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pre-Marriage Counseling, Take 4

We went back to Houston this past weekend, and while we were there we met with the deacon for our next counseling meeting. To our surprise, he had changed his tune with regards to the extent of our pre-marriage counseling. We did a short exercise at the beginning of the meeting in which I had to close my eyes, and then describe what my fiancé was wearing. I got into trouble right out of the gate, because I described my fiancé as “he” and not by his first name. Apparently the use of pronouns is a sign that you are taking your future spouse for granted.

He then went over the results of our visit with the actual marriage counselor. “I can see why you didn’t enjoy your session,” he said. The deacon then went on to say that he had “had a talk” with the marriage counselor and how her interpretation of the FOCCUS results differed from his interpretation. Aha! We are vindicated! We’re not the most doomed couple in the history of Catholicism and I am not the worst bride in said history! The deacon didn’t merely disagree with her assessment; he went to bat for us!

This was possibly the best counseling session in the history of counseling, because the deacon then went on to tell us that we probably only needed to meet one or two more times, until right before the wedding. He did not even mention the need for us to go on a retreat. We spent the rest of the meeting discussing how we would raise our children in a dual-religion marriage. At the end of the meeting he went even further in his praise and told us that we were in the top 5 couples that he had ever counseled. This information was even better because my sister and brother-in-law had been giving us a hard time over the last time we had been in, when the deacon had given us the impression that we would have a long counseling process (see I went home to tell my sister that our deacon thought that we were an even better couple than she and her husband. All-in-all it was a very satisfying pre-marriage counseling session.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Wedding Dress Hunt, Take III

I had been having some issues with finding a dress, but I knew that I needed to broaden my horizons as to what I was looking at, no beading had turned into some beading and further into “enough beading to be seen in photographs.” A week or two after the last dress outing I emailed the girls to see if they would accompany me to another bridal salon. This time, we would go to Belle Saison.

The staff was fabulous! I had called earlier that week to see if I needed an appointment, and the woman who answered the phone replied that I didn’t. I called with a new list of dresses that I might want to try, and the store had most of them, but for several of the ones that the store did not carry, the salesperson told me that she had specific dresses by other designers that looked extremely similar to the dress I was speaking to her about.

I arrived at the store in the afternoon, and there was an empty dressing room waiting for me. A saleswoman greeted me, remembered that I had called, and showed me the layout of the store, which was by style of dress. She asked us to simply pull the dresses I liked, then put them on the end of the row and she would put them in the room for us. When we had pulled them, we went to the dressing room, I was instructed to put on the strapless bra and slip and then ask her to come back in so that she could dress me. “Oh, no, I can’t have a stranger dressing me!” is the thought that went through my head, but it was actually a lot faster. She literally threw the dress on over my head.

Even better, she knew what I was thinking almost before I did. She reassured me that I would try on many pretty dresses, but that I would find “the one.” We pulled almost a dozen different dresses that I tried on, but the second one struck a chord. She advised me to try on the rest of the dresses, just to see. I wanted to, as well, as I had come to try on a certain one, which was nearly solid beads on the bodice, with a plainer skirt. The dress was a little bling-bling, gorgeous dress, but definitely a party dress. I later told my fiancé that if we were having a “platinum wedding,” and I were going to have two dresses, that would be my reception dress.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wedding Nightmares

I’ve already started having nightmares about the wedding, and the wedding is still 9 months away. It couldn’t possibly have been instigated by the fact that my parents called 18 hours after we got engaged to ask if we had made any plans yet. No, that surely couldn’t instigate paranoia.

The nightmares are pretty benign, nothing too terrible, but sometimes they are bad enough to wake me up. Dreams are weird that way, the more you think about them, the more likely you are to remember them, even if you don’t want to remember them. My fiancé has gone through several stages with reference to these dreams: first he was a little worried, just a little, that I was already having nightmares about the wedding, then he went through the stage of annoyance, and finally to my favorite stage, where I say, “I had another nightmare about the wedding last night,” and he says, “Of course you did.”

Last night, I dreamt that we kept having problems with the “practice weddings.” I’m not sure what a “practice wedding” is, but it is not a rehearsal, and the deacon was not the person requiring it. If I remember correctly, the first practice went alright, except that everyone was sitting in one big, long pew at the back of the church. Then, during the second practice wedding, it was raining. I was getting dressed, and I had 4 dresses to choose from, which was a nice thought (thanks subconscious) then the storm caused the power to go out. Everyone was apparently ok with continuing the practice with the lights out, but I could not get the dress that I wanted to wear to fit; it was huge. Luckily, it was only the practice wedding, so we had time to get the dress altered before the wedding.

I have a feeling that this week’s nightmares have been instigated by the stress of going to Houston on Saturday. I was originally supposed to go out and look at centerpieces with my sister, also a bridesmaid, but now she’s off to the casino with her husband, and I’m going with my mom. Alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, and my parents are being very generous with the wedding, but I am not looking forward to this weekend. Clashes in tastes will abound, along with exclamations such as, “Oh, I didn’t think you would like that, that’s so odd.” Let’s all hope that I can bite my tongue for as long as needed.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Finding a Dress, Part II

I wasn’t in panic mode yet, but I knew that since I hadn’t found “the” dress the first time I went looking that it may take me several trips to find it. In typical business school fashion, I sent out an Outlook appointment request to my girlfriends in school to see if they wanted to come, and a couple had prior commitments, but a few could make it. I had looked online at Watters to find a bridal shop in Austin, and it worked out that The Bridesmaids Store looked like a good choice (especially since I also had to order a bridesmaid’s dress for a friend’s wedding). Having learnt my lesson from the last time, I called ahead to see if they had the styles I was interested in trying on, and they had several of them, so I thought I would give it a shot.
The setup was very nice, the store had hundreds (thousands?) of bridesmaids dresses in the front, and to see the bridal gowns you went to the back of the store, where they had a salon-style dressing room, with a living room outside of it for guests to wait while you were trying on. Another plus is that we were allowed to look through the dresses (even though there weren’t nearly as many bridal gowns as bridesmaid dresses). I gave my friends a general idea of what I was looking for, but I also told them I’d try on dresses “outside the box.”
My experience was much the same as the last shop, the store associates drifted in and out of the bridal section, asking if we needed anything, which is good, because I don’t think I could stand someone dressing me. Like the last time, I found several dresses that I liked, and my friends found their favorite one, but I didn’t find “the one.” I did try to “create” “the one,” I pulled a sash off of one dress and wrapped it around another, at which point my friends intervened, because I had crossed the line into desperation. Another day with no dress in sight: time to schedule another dress excursion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sidenote: Troubling Conversation with a Friend

I was Google Chatting with a friend of mine on her birthday, before she left for dinner with her fiancé. I told her to have a great time at dinner, to which she says,

“Well, I mean, before this it was always which one is he going to propose on (she was only dating him for 3 years before he proposed), after that, it’s just gravy.”

How weird is that. Really. I mean, I don’t think like that.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Catering Conspiracy

I’m convinced that there is some sort of wedding-site mafia operating in Houston, and if I don’t post tomorrow, will one of my friends let my fiancé know what may have happened to me?

As I said yesterday, I was feeling guilty about going over the budget for the caterer, so I wanted to at least try and do my homework and find another caterer that might be less expensive. One thing I had to keep in mind was that the reception hall would charge a $1500 “surcharge” for using an outside caterer. That’s right, there is a surcharge for going with an outside caterer, along with a 60 day limitation. Not 60 days from the date of the event, which I could understand, or even 6 months from the date of the event, 60 days from the day you sign the contract, whenever that may be (and the outside caterer has to go through an “approval process” within that time frame.

I tried to work with their “in-house” caterer for a while, I really did. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt after the extreme delay in response to the initial quote request. I had sent her a menu selection to get the quote, so I asked if we could do a tasting the next time we were in town, which happened to be a weekend. I asked her if we could schedule a tasting for the upcoming weekend, as we were coming in from out of town. Her response:

“This weekend is not good for me, as we have an event. Actually, weekends are never good, because most of our events occur on the weekend. Let me know what other time works for you.”

I didn’t reply, because I had told her that I couldn’t meet for a while on the weekends. I do understand that most of these vendors will not usually want to meet on the weekends, but most of them have been very understanding, once I explain that we are planning the wedding from out-of-town. One reception site vendor even came in early before the morning reception started out. So, to summarize 1) reception site charges extra to use other caterer, 2) other caterer proves very difficult to meet with, and 3) I only have 60 days to find another caterer.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Catering Question

Recently, I tried to get in touch with the “default” caterer for the reception site. I was less than hopeful, since while we had been deciding between the two reception halls, we had gotten quotes on the catering, and it took 4 days for the woman to get back to me, and from that point, it took another 5 days for her to get back with a quote. What a quote it was, the per-person rate was pretty high. We had thought that one way to bring the cost down was to offer a fruit and cheese display instead of a traditional appetizer. She actually priced that as higher than an appetizer.

We were also somewhat disappointed in the actual selection in the menu choices. Seeing as how this caterer was pretty pricey, we were expecting a nice list. The list of dishes was pretty good, but it basically broke down to we have this many sauces, and we’ll put them on chicken, steak, seafood, or duck.

I decided to at least do my homework to see if I could find a better caterer. So, I found a wonderful website, where I could put in my contact information, and caterers would call me if they were available for the date of our wedding. I put in my information, and not 15 minutes later, the chef/owner of a catering company in Houston called me. She talked about what kinds of foods my fiancé and I liked, and later that evening had faxed me a 5 page menu and 6 different package prices, all of which were less expensive than the “chosen” caterer.

Next Time: My Conspiracy Theory

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Finding the One (Dress)

Even though I know it's a little early to start looking for a dress, I'm terrified that I won't be able to find "the one," and I didn't want to get so wrapped up in school that I shouldn't go dress shopping because I had too much else to do.

We went to Houston, where the wedding will be held and where my parents live, and I invited one of my sisters (the one in town, I didn't exclude the other one) and my mom to come shopping with me. I decided to try looking at this one dress shop near my parent's house, which is not the nicest dress shop, but does carry TONS of different styles. One of my good friends found her wedding dress there, and I absolutely loved it.

I went in hoping to try on several Watters dresses that I had seen online, and the shop was an authorized Watters store, but only had one or two dresses that I wanted to try on. Apparently, you only have to carry a few styles to be an authorized dealer, so it's good to call first. Anyway, this is the sort of shop where you can go through the racks yourself, look at the dresses in their plastic bags, and pull them into your dressing room yourself. So we did.

I filled my mom and sister in on what I thought I wanted, something on the simpler side, with textured fabric, maybe taffeta, dupioni silk, and ruching, or folding of the fabric across the bodice, sleeveless or strapless, but no halters. My sister was a champ, she found some really great dresses for me to try on, while my mom found a lot that she liked but were nothing like I had described. I found two that I liked; one we called the "southern belle" dress, which had thin strips of horizontal fabric layers all the way down the dress, and the other had a bodice with some fabric layering and light beading, but it still wasn't "the one." I ducked outside the dressing room and found a dress in the right size, which was taffeta with thin straps and a sweetheart neckline out of ruched fabric and beading that was concentrated on the bodice, but sprayed onto the top of the skirt. We called that dress the "boob-tacular dress."

All of the dresses were nice, the boob-tacular one was the best, but I really couldn't picture wearing it in church. I'd have to find it in another search. I'm glad I started early, it's not as easy as I thought it would be.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pre-Marriage Counseling, Part 3

Well, I've relayed the trials and tribulations of the process so far ( and ), but I have yet to talk about the first meeting with the deacon who will be performing our ceremony.

Normally, the parish requires the couple to wait two weeks after meeting with the counselor to meet with the deacon, which we found out, was so that the counselor could compose her letter of recommendation to the deacon. We (and by we, I mean I, because I'm the Catholic person in the relationship) convinced the marriage coordinator at the parish that we could overlook the two-week waiting period, since we were coming to Houston from Austin. It's not that we were incredibly eager to start our counseling, but you can't set the date at the church until you've met with the deacon. I thought my fiance was being paranoid (we were 14 months away from our date), but we (I) set up the appointments for the same day.

As I relayed in my first two posts, the counselor less-than-loved me and thought my fiance was really amazing. Well we went back to the church that afternoon, and she was still meeting with other engaged couples, so we saw her walking around behind the receptionists window. Since it was near the start of the hour, my fiance grabbed a newsletter from the end table and stuck it up in front of his face. Very mature, I know. A few minutes later, she came out and saw us, with my fiance trying to hide behind the paper, a little embarrassing.

The deacon called us into his office, and was very pleasant, it seems like this meeting was a get-to-know-you sort of thing. He did ask to see the results of the FOCCUS test, since he couldn't see the marriage counselor's report yet. He saw our responses, and there were several categories that we were to discuss with him where we had "bad answers" ("bad answers" are any answers in which you disagree with your future spouse, or you agree, but the answer is not the "right" one as designated by the test). Most of the questions we "missed" were in the religion-related of the test. He looked at the two of us, sitting expectantly for his verdict on his couch, and he said, "Well, it looks like you two really haven't talked about some of these things, have you?" "No," we said in unison. "Well, OK, I think we'll probably need to meet about once a month - about 6 times total, and then I'd like for you two to sign up for the marriage retreat offered by the diocese." Boo, we thought we'd only have to do one or the other.

Then he got down to business, and asked about the wedding date and time we'd like. There are two venues at the church, and we thought we'd go with the smaller venue, and go with the later time, so we could move right into an evening reception. He looked at our date, and our time was already taken! That's almost impossible, we thought we'd have the first pick. The deacon said that if we had any chance at all of the couple moving the date, it would be this couple, since they've changed their date 4 times. Aargh, well, we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Demanding Reception Hall

We finally chose a reception hall!

We convinced my parents to stretch the budget a little bit, and we were able to book the reception hall that we wanted, and it only took a week to get the contract signed.

Step 1: Have "discussion" with mother to decide who will call the site to get references, as they are not listed on the Better Business Bureau.

Step 2: Phone call with reception site manager to tell her what references are, since she sent a list of "recommended vendors" the first time.

Step 3: After the weekend, call mother of bride who previously held a reception at the site.

Step 4: I receive an email forwarded from my mother with a copy of the contract with instructions to show it to my fiance, a future lawyer.

Step 5: My mother meets with the reception site manager (finally). Thank you, mom! :)

Step 6: Receive email with scanned copy of signed contract.

Step 7: Realize that we now have 60 days to exercise the option to use a caterer other than the one that the reception site has an "arrangement" with.

Step 8: Laugh as there is a clause in the contract which says we have to warn little children to not jump/swim in the fountain on the grounds.

Step 9: Pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate having the perfect receptions site.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pre-Marriage Counseling, Part 2

The second part of our pre-marriage counseling session (not second session, just next 20 minutes) focused on the financial planning aspect of our relationship. Now, my fiance and I are 25 and 26, respectively. He's been in graduate school, but I took a few years off when before I came back to school. He's been financially on his own for 3 years and I have been for 4, ever since we graduated from college. The point of that is, that we know how to pay rent, car insurance, car payments, etc.

Our marriage counselor asked us who was going to pay the bills. We said that we hadn't discussed it, but that Fiance had been, and so he may as well keep doing it.

Marriage Counselor -"Well, that's fine, but the bride should know how to pay the bills."
Fiance-"She's lived on her own, she knows how to pay her bills, she's done it for more than 3 years."
MC-"Groom, how would you feel about showing the bride how to pay the bills, so she knows how you do it?"
F-"Sure, fine."
MC-"I'm just concerned, because I've met couples where the husband never showed the bride how to pay the bills, and then he died, and the wife didn't know how to pay the bills."
Me -"Well, I'm a business, student, so even if he does die, I think I'll be able to figure it out."

Marriage Counselor: "Well, the next topic is that I see that you two haven't discussed the use of credit."

Note - My fiance will say that this is completely my fault, because I didn't lie and say that we had discussed and agreed on this. I'm thinking that this question involved how quickly we would pay off our student loans, buying versus leasing a car, etc.

Marriage Counselor: "Well, let's talk about it - would you two be OK with using credit cards?"

Seriously - that's all she wanted to know. We answered yes, and she was totally and completely satisfied that we had discussed it. So, that was another 20 minutes of our lives wasted.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

And so Begins the Saga of the Pre-Marriage Counseling

Our one and only pre-marriage counseling session was an hour filled with so many mishaps and frustrations that I will have to tell it in multiple posts.

Fiance and I had had a fight that morning: the day before we had decided that we needed to call the “final 2” reception sites to get actual quotes. So, the morning of our counseling appointment, we were sitting downstairs in at my parents’ house, and my lovely fiancé turns to me and says, “why don’t you go get the computer and write the email to the one place?” To which I replied, “Why don’t you?” . . . and back and forth until I got up and got the computer and wrote the email. Then I asked him what he thought of what I wrote – and he wanted me to write that they needed to include a list of everything the quote did NOT include. I had put that they needed to include a list of everything included and that his wording sounded like we thought they were going to rip us off. Anyway, I told him that if I was going to write the email, I should get the final say. In the end I did change it, I'm not that disagreeable.

So, we were in the counseling session, and we were talking about the fight, and it became quite clear that the counselor hated me. We described the fight to the counselor, and instead of asking us questions about how we both felt about the situtation, she kept saying that I was the one with the problem. Obviously I had needed help writing the email, and Fiance was just trying to help me. Right. Not - he was just being lazy and didn't want to put forth any physical effort - he was trying to help. Aargh.

Tomorrow - the financial portion of the pre-marriage counseling

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Getting to the (Catholic) Part - FOCCUS

Well you've probably been wondering why I put the (Catholic) up there, much less put it in parenthesis. Yes, I'm Catholic, and no, my fiance is not. So one of the lovely things that is required in the process of getting married in the Catholic Church is taking the FOCCUS test.

The FOCCUS test is an ancient test invented by "church people" to determine whether or not you are compatible. Excuse me, I just looked it up on the website - it's a self-diagnostic inventory ( The idea is that you take the compatibility test, then you meet with a marriage counselor to go over the results. After that, you're allowed to meet with a member of the clergy to set a date and start your other meetings.

Actually taking the test was much like what you would suspect. The pastor's coordinator met us in the reception area and took us to the pastor's parlor. She asked us if we would like coffee, then very sweetly brought it to us. She then handed us the test, asked us a few questions to determine which sections of the test we needed to fill out (there are additional sections if the couple lives together, has children, or has been previously married). Then, she handed us a pencil, warned us not to collude, and said she would be in her office next door.

We worked through the test independently, and while I probably shouldn't include test questions, some of them really concerned me.

  • Are you ever frightened of your future spouse?
  • Are you concerned about the amount of alcohol your future spouse consumes?
  • Are you concerned about the amount of cocaine your furture spouse uses?
  • Would you feel comfortable naked in front of your future spouse?

These questions are obviously "red flags" for the marriage counselor, but what person would answer them honestly if they actually were going to say yes to them. Who would wait until that point, when you're trying to get married to say, "Oh, yeah, and this guy really freaks me out sometimes." I guess it's a last chance effort to save people from some a potentially harmful marriage.

In answer to your unspoken question, we did fine, although when we got our test results back, I found out that Fiance is apparently concerned with my drinking. Or at least, that's now what the marriage counselor thought. He laughed the whole way home, "I swear it was an accident!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Asking the Groom

Argh. I had a fabulous idea yesterday - I thought that instead of (expensive) flower arrangements, we could have tall candle centerpieces at the tables for the reception. I looked around and found some that we could rent (see left).
Cool, right. So I was out with Fiance last night, and I said that I had an idea for the centerpieces, and I told him what it was. "Oh, why do even ask me about this little stuff, you don't need to," he says. So later I showed him the picture. "Oh no! That looks stupid." The moral of the story is not to ask the groom's opinion unless you care. ---and I do, because it's his party, too, but try explaining that to my sister.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reception Site Scouting

When we started looking for reception sites, I learned 2 very important lessons.

1) Never underestimate the power of a picture on the web. If the reception site looks like crap on the website, it will not look better in person. Ignore the little voice in your head that says it might look nice if you visit in person. That little voice is an idiot. I listened to that little voice. We went to visit one reception site that looked not good in pictures, but had a very nice price. It also had a very nice woman who offered to meet my group in the morning on a Saturday, since we were coming in from out of town. Nice ladies do not matter, though (I've actually found the opposite - more on that later). Things that do matter:

  • outdoor reception sites should not be covered with rental-type tent covers
  • those covers should not be moldy or have holes
  • the groom should not hit his head on the ceiling in the reception areas
  • faux flowers in the outdoor area are a no-no (especially dirty ones)
  • plastic tableclothes - the coated kind that your grandma had in her kitchen

I don't want to go on a rant - but, you probably don't want to waste your time going to a place that can't even put up respectable pictures.

2) Do not take cranky bridesmaids with you to look at reception sites. While it might be unreasonable to think that everyone can be in a good mood all of the time, you certainly don't want to take a sourpuss. My particular sour puss was my sister. We went on a whirlwind tour of 4 reception halls in one day - including the one she suggested (which, by the way, she only liked because they had a potato martini bar*). The one she had chose was going to be a tight squeeze with the number of guests we anticipated (and now would be too small with the ridiculous guest list), but would be cool. The second to last site is the one we chose, and it's absolutely gorgeous. One of the things I was really looking for in a site was a place to take outdoor photos - the gardens at the site are gorgeous - and still green in August (quite a feat in H-town). The site is a mansion, specifically built for wedding receptions, so it's quite large enough - room to spare, even.

My sister complained the entire time we were there. As soon as the site representative left to get the information packet - "Ewww, the walls are peach" (not really - they're stucco) - "But the chairs are pink, they won't match" (I love the chairs, they're a lovely rose color with dark wood, and they will too match :) ), and all other sorts of nonsense. Not really what you want to hear when you're picking a site. Actually, maybe it is - you need someone to point out all the flaws that you see. Or, maybe, you just need to take an honest friend - who's not in a bad mood.

*Potato martini bar - The reception hall serves mashed potatoes in a martini glass, at a bar where all the toppings are lined up for you - which strikes me as a little gross and awkward. Why would you want to eat mashed potatoes out of a tall martini glass? It might be cool during a cocktail hour - but then, why would you serve mashed potatoes during the cocktail hour? I don't get it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quick Note from the Legal Front

Perusing the web, Fiance directed me to this little gem:

A New York Post article about a couple suing their florist for providing the wrong flowers. Note: I don't advocate this at all. This is ridiculous.

Some additional commentary on the subject:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wedding Planning is a Great Way to Procrastinate

I may not have previously mentioned this, but I am a graduate student, which means, at this time I should be studying for some midterm or another. Unfortunately, this weekend there was a slight kink in the plans. My apartment complex is a lovely mix of retail and residential space, which is normally quite nice. Until the retail space management throws some sort of extravaganza weekend without notifying the residents. OK, maybe they did notify us - if you count sandwich boards on the sidewalks. Saturday afternoon, they finally put up a flyer, "Cocktail Party and Fashion Show - 6:30 pm, Free to the Public." Awesome. If there's one thing that we grad students love, it's free liquor and food.

So, Fiance and I take the dog down to the party, which we realize is now the entire length of the mall. Very cool. The band, which had been performing soundchecks all afternoon, is awesome, playing mostly 70's music, with some recent hits. After about an hour, we head back up so I can hit the books, which works for a little while, after all, there is an 8-piece band performing 100 ft. away, but at least I don't have to turn on my iTunes. Promptly (?) at 8:30, the fashion show starts, the band providing the great background music - and they don't stop until 11:00 pm, which does not help the studying that is supposed to be going on.

The best part is that I am getting great ideas for songs that I want to hear at the reception. We're still 10 months away, and fiance makes fun of me all the time for it, but I am paranoid that I will forget to include a song that I really want to hear. Which is silly, we're going to have a great time, and the right DJ will take care of that, but in the meantime, it's been fun making a list of what I (I mean we) want to hear. So the evening was punctuated with, "Oooh, oooh, I have to put this song on the list" and "This is definitely not going on the list," followed by vague "uh-huhs" and "what?" as I interrupt the important football game taking place. Oh well, who'll be so glad I thought to make the list? Probably only me, but at least I had fun doing it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

We Booked the Photographer

We’ve booked a photographer, but of course not without some sort of mishap. Fiance and Mom came to the photographer, which was good, as all of the great questions I had thought about asking completely flew out of my head. We're still not sure about when the reception will start with relationship to the ceremony (will there be a gap, how long of a gap, how long would the gap be for the photographer). Note to Self: write down questions and bring them to vendor for when you get tongue-tied - avoid Mom and Fiance staring at you blankly while waiting for you to talk.

At this particular photographer, the price structure makes it cheaper to book the photographer for the whole time if the gap is for less than half an hour. As the woman pointed this out, Fiance suggested, “Well, you can always just take pictures of us dicking around between the ceremony and reception.” At which point, she doesn't react in shock and outrage (she was in her 20's), but she certainly didn't laugh. She said something about how some people book the photographer for 12 hours and then found a reason to leave the room while we looked at albums. I laughed while Mom pretended to not be horrified by her future son-in-law.


Every once in a while, I'll take the time to write down my thoughts on a particular "adventure" and emailed it out to my friends, because I can't believe what's happened. Sometimes, they tell me that what I've had to say is funny. Now that I've embarked on one of the most exciting adventures in a girl's life (I'm engaged), I thought I would blog it.

Honestly, I'm not sure where this will take us, but I'm not that sappy of a person, so hopefully I won't get too mushy.