Thursday, September 8, 2011

I, Nicki, take you, Jonathan

Tonight is the rehearsal dinner! I am so freaking excited I can't stand it. It still blows my mind that me and Jon are tying the knot.

Last night we wrote our vows. We chose to write our vows because it allows us to better express our love and promises to one another for our life together. It gives us the opportunity to focus on our relationship and what makes it unique and amazing. It was definitely a daunting task. To come up with the words that would literally last a lifetime. Words that are much more than a cheesy love poem or a movie quote, but words that are actions and emotions that our marriage is built upon. These words will anchor us and remind us in the future as our relationship faces challenges what we are to one another. These words will give us courage and resilience as we spend our lives together. Yeah, pretty big deal.

We started the way everyone else starts: Google. What else did other people write? We shared our favorite phrases and words from different examples. We questioned our relationship. What makes this work? Why are we so perfect for each other? What is the foundation of our relationship? Our list included honesty, friendship, trust, humor, forgiveness, and other words. We didn't want to just copy someone else's vows. Vows should be uniquely yours if you choose to write them. This is when we really had to look inside our hearts to find the right words. Clearing my head, I imagined standing at the altar on our wedding day facing Jon, and I just started typing what I wanted to say to him. What I was feeling at the moment. What made me believe in us. What we were actually doing on our wedding day. This led to our first sentence of the vows. Jon thought I copied it, but it truly came from my heart. From there we did the same thing and came up with a total of 5 sentences that would build the foundation of our marriage. They are broad enough to last our lifetime, but specific to us. For now those words are for me and Jon. After the honeymoon I'll post them. Perhaps they can inspire others.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Final Countdown

Here we go. 10 days til the Big Day. Amazingly, I'm not stressed out. Its all coming together beautifully, and I can vision how the day will pan out. Honestly, I can't wait. We worked so hard and spent so much time, that we are excited to experience the 'fruits of our labor.' My future Mother-in-law said it best, "Its now, just hurry up and wait."

With 10 days to go, today is the first day a forecast will be available for our wedding day. I haven't checked it yet. I'm a little nervous it may ruin my mood and sharply increase my stress. Inanimate objects may be kicked or punched. No one better tell me its good luck if it rains on your wedding day. That proverb was invented to make the bride feel better about crappy weather on her wedding day. Its pretty much the one thing that can go wrong, that will really make me mad. I could careless about everything else. The flowers, the cake. These problems I can fix. Mother nature on the other hand is a force I cannot reckon with. If it does rain, please do so in the morning while we're getting ready or in the evening during the reception. Just let us get all of our pictures done. We are getting pre-ceremony pictures at Fountain Square, Backstage Alley (Jon and I love Broadway and always walk this alley on our way to see a show at the Aronoff), and Mr. Pitiful's on Main St (our favorite bar where we have lots of memories and its simply beautiful on the inside). After the ceremony we're getting family pictures, again outside. Our church has a beautiful garden, a gazebo, and a rustic, old barn which we hope to use as our backdrop to our 'Thank you' postcards (more on that in a later blog). So as you can see, rain before the reception could really put a stick in the plans. But, I need to check. So here goes nothing.......

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Here comes the bride

I just finished picking the music for our ceremony. This is probably the toughest task I have yet to face. As a wedding present, my uncle and another member of his band are playing our music. Between his song list and other songs I could think of, I had to come up with basically 5 songs. Sounds easy right? Nope. Not for me. I had to make sure the lyrics matched the moment in the ceremony. Also, had to ensure that the tempo matched the mood. Oi. This was one daunting task. It basically took 3 full nights of internet searches to figure it all out. I would go through the playlist, You Tube a song, and then Google the song to research the meaning behind the song or for whom it was written. And I probably did this at least 5 times per song. Monday night I emailed Brian with a tentative list, with three of the songs not on his play list. He said they could easily learn 2 of them, and so tonight I had to rework the playlist. I needed music for the entrance of family members including the mom's lighting the taper candles. Then I needed the Bridal party entrance music. Followed by of course, me and my dad. I chose one of my favorite love songs which was also my parent's wedding song. This may have been a bad idea. I tear up pretty much everytime I hear it. Hmmm...Maybe I'll walk down the aisle with earplugs. We then needed music for the lighting of the Unity candle, which comes after the exchange of vows and rings. Had to make sure the lyrics were fitting. And finally, after Reverend Kathy pronounces us husband and wife, I needed some processional music.

So it is all said and done. I am very satisfied with the selection and I think it will make for a very memorable ceremony. Unfortunately, you'll have to be there to hear my ceremony playlist or just wait for the post honeymoon posts.

Everybody out of the pool

From time to time when it comes to wedding stuff I get the urge to want to vomit. Not because I'm thinking about having to spend the rest of my life with a crazy Irish man, whom I adore, but because so much time, effort, and money has gone into this one single day and that any one thing can go wrong. I get the urge before opening emails from vendors especially when it has an invoice total. Like right now, I have an email from my cake vendor, but I have yet to open it. She has the total for the cake waiting for me. Last Thursday I spent an hour working with her and the decorator. Long story short, I think all of our brains ached afterwards. It was exhausting. We really weren't communicating well, and we were not on the same page about anything. She thought everything I decided would look amazing just to get me the heck out of there. But I stuck around until I was comfortable with the overall design. I felt bad because I know I'm a perfectionist and a pain in the rearend. The toughest part was trying to visualize it while designing it. I would close my eyes and try to picture it, but then she would start rambling about something and totally mess up my concentration. I then tried sketches, which helped. Once I left and was on the road I was able to actually imagine the design in the quiet of my car. I called her about 15 minutes after leaving and changed the look of the middle tier. My best advice is to bring multiple pictures of wedding cakes with you. My original design could not be done exactly like the picture because it was fondant, but we came pretty close. The other pictures helped with giving us ideas and with figuring out what the different layers would look like.

Regardless, if the cake ends up being hideous, it will still be delicious. It is a family run business with everything made from scratch in a commercial kitchen they had installed in their basement. She made Opera Cream Brownies and White cake with a Rasberry filling for us to sample a couple months ago. It was the best cake we've ever eaten (Mind you, we tried the NCH Bakery and the Northside bakery. Jon decided we should call bakeries more often and let them know we're getting married so we get free mini-cakes.) We're going with the White and Rasberry and also a White with a Chocolate filling. To save some money, I had the cake done with 3 tiers which will feed about 162 people and a sheet cake that will feed about 50. Now I just have to open the email.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I wish that I knew then, what I know now.....

Today, a random thought popped into my head (One of many. This one just happened to make enough sense that I thought to pursue it). "Why not check out those gift card exchange sites?" They seem legit, and could offer some major savings. I googled (Funny how that word now has a universal meaning for an internet search. Sorry, Yahoo. Unfortunately Yahoo'ed, although fun to say, could have different meanings. I Yahoo'ed it. Does it mean I got super, duper excited and shouted to the roof tops or that I performed an internet search. Next time, make up a word that has absolutely no meaning or connotation-Random thought). Anyways, I googled 'gift card exchange' and came across several websites that offered the service. I went with the Plastic Jungle. Basically, you can buy gift cards at various, mostly random, denominations at a discount. For example, all of the Home Depot cards are sold at an 8% discount. So before even entering Home Depot you have 8% off of your bill. Now, some may think this sounds a little sketchy. Well, this site guarantees all of their gift cards. When 'sellers' send in their gift cards, Plastic Jungle verifies the funds before reimbursing the seller. Sellers can receive cash deposits, Amazon credits, or they can donate all or part of their proceeds to charity. For buyers, the discounts can be as high as 35%. If a merchant is not available, you can set up notifications. Plastic Jungle will alert you when a particular gift card has become available.

Now, I wish I would have thought of this a year and a half ago. I searched for a Michael's gift card. $175 gift card for $143.50. That's an 18% discount. And that would have been on top of the 40% off coupons they run weekly. I have definitely spent that much this year between ribbon, paper, stickers, and other random stuff.

I have yet to try this out, but I am definitely going to give it a whirl. I plan to use it when for home projects, Christmas, showers, and any other defined shopping I might have to do.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bad Blogger

Hello Readers. As the title states, I have been a bad blogger. Trust me, I haven't been posting because nothing has been going on. In fact, its just the opposite. I am super busy, especially with the Big Day just over 2 weeks away. I promise to catch you up on everything that I have been doing, so we may be doing the time warp dance. I have lots of events and things to share including Showers, the Bachelorette Island Escape, and other projects. Tonight, I'm just posting about the Unity Candle.

So the Unity Candle, it consists of 1 large pillar candle and 2 tapers. Whoopy doo, right? That can't cost much. Well, I have news for you, businesses make a killing on these things. I walked into Michaels and they were about $40. I checked online and the same thing. Plus, our minister requested that we use 'Dripless' tapers. Yeah, pretty sure they don't exist. So my brain (which has been cranking out some pretty creative ideas today) decided that Factory Direct Candles in Western Hills might have 'Dripless' tapers and for much less. Well, no dice on the 'Dripless', but their tapers were only $.35. (Of course all the other colors were only $.25. I guess they wanted to get in on the wedding market action too.) And I got a pillar for only $3. So far, I'm already doing pretty amazing price wise. I decide to glitz up the pillar a tad and head over to Michaels. They have rhinestone and pearl adhesives. I find a fancy one for $6 and I'm out the door.  But I then decide to also go to Hobby Lobby (once I eventually found it. I took a short tour through the Mason area). There I found an even better rhinestone and pearl adhesive and it was only $3. I also solved the 'Dripless' problem. They sell little crystal trays for $5 that hug the tapers so any wax will collect there and not on the candlesticks or floor. My Unity Candle grand total, a whopping $11.50.

The final product (on its side)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Doesn't Hurt to Ask

I saw a picture in a magazine of center pieces that consisted simply of a few single bud vases lumped together. I was intrigued. What a great idea. You still have the size, but not the expense of a full-flowered center piece. I decided to go with a silver charger plate with four varying sizes and colors of single bud vases each containing either a yellow, lime green, deep purple or hot pink flower. I was going to accumualate the vases by asking for donations and perusing garage sales. My first garage sale scour yielded a whopping 3 vases. I need 120. It would take me a lifetime at that rate. Then I had a stroke of genius: Thrift stores. I popped into St. Vincent de Paul in Colerain one lovely Saturday afternoon. Jackpot! The shelves were lined with single bud vases. And, they were each anywhere from .50 to $1. I called my mom super excited. I had just found the Mecca of single bud vases. I grabbed a cart and started filling it with any and every vase I could get my hands on. As I was making my mad dash, I happened to take notice of a piece of construction paper which contained the most beautiful words known to man, "50% off." Double, Super Jackpot Bonus. Called my mom again to tell her the amazing news. I walked out of there with 56 vases at a cost of $21. Pretty damn good.

From time to time I would stop in that thrift store and any others that I happened to be near. I have learned that St. Vincent de Paul is the cheapest thrift store. Goodwill seems to be the most expensive. I found some vases here and there, but never the jackpot I scored last September. Each time I went into the Colerain St. Vincent de Paul, there was a sign saying they were unable to offer sales on any of the shelf items due to low inventory. Well, I just refused to pay 'full price' so I would just walk out and figured I'd check a little later.

Last week, I thought I'd try a different St. Vincent de Paul thinking that perhaps it was only the Colerain store that was low on inventory. I went to the one on Este Ave, and they too were not offering discounts on shelf items. I felt defeated and aggravated. The Under Budget Bride cannot pay full price for vases. Oh, Thrift Store Gods, you tempted me with your crazy, super cheap sale and that is just something I cannot come back from. Yet, I couldn't ignore the fact that the wedding is closing in, and I still needed quite a few vases. I bit my lip and grabbed a cart. I was honestly quite sad as I checked the price written on the bottom of each vase I plucked from the shelves and placed into my cart. Oh, the agony. Most cost about $1. I trudged along the aisles slowly filling my cart.

By the time was I finished, I had managed to fill the basket. I looked down and just thought of the register Ka-chinging away, dollar by dollar. Ugh. Then I thought "What the hell? Why not ask for a discount?" The worst they can say is "No." And so I asked. "I know the sign says no discounts on shelf items but I am buying a large volume. They're for my wedding." I always throw in the wedding card. People love weddings and well, love. The one cashier went back to ask the manager, while I chatted with other. The first cashier came back, and said the manager would be up shortly. And we waited. I mentioned how some of the same vases were different prices. She said if she had known that, she would have just given me them at the lowest price which would have put me at $.50 per vase. Finally, the manager made it to the registers. I think we were all a little nervous about the verdict. The clerks wanted me to get a good deal. We became fast friends chatting about weddings and such while waiting on the manager. She took one quick look in the basket and simply said, "Give 'em to her for a quarter each." I walked out of there with 41 more vases at a cost of $11 with tax. Winning!