Sunday, March 29, 2009

Displaying all the Sweetness

So, I've got my fabulous cake all lined up, and I'm super-psyched about it. Now that it's all taken care of and I know all of the details regarding tier-size, I can start turning my attention toward cake stands.

My bottom tier is going to be 13-inches in diameter, so my baker told me I should look for a stand that's around 15-inches in diameter to ensure that there's plenty of room. Hmm. A 15-inch cake stand seems to be terribly difficult to find, and I keep on falling in love with stands that just simply won't work.

This amazing emerald glass cake pedestal is only 10 inches in diameter, but I loooove it! Swoon. It's so vintage and beautiful. Since we're only doing a minor detail in green on our cake (with the rest being black and white) this would just make our cake shine. It's $75, but would be worth every penny. However, it's only a 10-inch square. Boo. Maybe some other bride can take advantage of this great find!

These silver cake stands seem to be standard for weddings. And, don't get me wrong, they're beautiful and look amazing on cake tables - very elegant. Another bonus is that they come in a multitude of sizes (this one is the 15-inch diameter that I'm looking for) and it's only $49.85! However, it would be kind of a bummer to not be able to have a use for it after the wedding. And, my cake isn't going to be incredibly tall, so I'd love to find a stand that will provide a little height. Let's call this my backup plan.

Next up we have this white cake pedestal with a lacy detail. The description says that it's 14-inches in diameter (so cutting it a bit close for me), but I would assume with my 13-inch diameter cake, the lacy detail would be covered. There's a definite chance that it would end up looking a bit awkward. But, at $40.99 it's on the list.

Source: Amazon

Departing from a vintage feel, this modern white square pedestal caught my eye. It's a 14-inch square, and even though my cake will be round, I think it would be kind of cool to have it on a square pedestal. While the others that I have looked at have been slightly more ornate, I like the simplicity and clean lines of this pedestal. At $49.99, it's also a good deal.

Source: Amazon

Finally, I could just go completely DIY and play around with this Martha Stewart cake stand project. I came across it forever ago and have kept it in the back of my mind. Marth provides great instructions for taking plywood, paint, ribbon and fancy door pulls and turning them into an elegant cake stand. Of course, I wouldn't get the height that I'm desiring, but it would be cost effective, allow me to put my own details into the stand to match my decor, and at the end of the day I could just take the the door pulls and toss the rest!

Awhile back on Etsy I also spotted these emerald green glass door pulls. Perfect for the DIY cake stand! Etsy seller Spartan Enterprises had quite a variety of glass door pulls, and these emerald green pulls are priced at $34.88 for 10, which is a great deal as these can often be quite pricey at specialty stores. Of course, I only need 4 in order to make my stand, but I'm certain my DIY spirit could find a use for the rest.

Source: Etsy

I'm certainly glad that I have plenty of time to make up my mind (re: order a lot of things online and then return them, haha!).

Has anyone else out there found great ways to display yours cakes beyond the usual silver stand? Any suggestions? Ideas?


Friday, March 27, 2009

Real Wedding: Jodi & Ryan

One of my biggest disappointments is that we live in the city but are not able to get married within the city limits! Chicago is a great location for weddings, and there are a wide variety of venues, from traditional hotel ballrooms to trendy loft spaces. Unfortunately, the venues I looked at either didn't fit into our budget, or we couldn't meet the set minimums for a Saturday night wedding. And again, I love our venue to pieces as well as the village of Oak Park, but still, the city is where I call home!

Mr. S recently shot Jodi & Ryan's wedding during the blustery month of February. I was amazed when I saw the shots later that weekend that Jodi and her bridal party were able to pose for so many outside shots on this chilly day! How fortunate that they didn't let the weather didn't dictate the course of the day for them.

However, amidst my amazement at the amount of time they spent outside shooting, I was also incredibly jealous! I want these lovely urban, downtown shots on my wedding day. Sigh. But for me, the contract is signed and the times arranged, and the Chicago skyline won't be making an appearance on my wedding day. I'll just have to continue with my city wedding envy...

Congratulations, Jodi & Ryan!

All photos are from Steve Koo Photography. the yellow cab!

How fun to hang out at The Berghoff, all dressed up, before the party starts down the street!

At the Cancer Survivors Garden

Jodi was hands-on with all of the wedding details, including this DIY aisle runner! If only I had the patience for that project.

Love the shoe shot!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daddy & Daughter

I've searched endlessly for a song that works well for the father/daughter dance. Like everything else, I want it to make sense, fit our day and not be incredibly cliche.

After scouring many message boards and doing a full-blown iTunes search for every song containing the word "daughter" in the title, I came across Loudon Wainwright's song entitled, what else, "Daughter."

Who is Loudon Wainwright, you ask? Well, I wasn't familiar with him either, but I'm certainly familiar with this tune, and I'm sure it will ring a bell for you if you've ever seen the movie Knocked Up, as the closing credits of the movie are set to this song.

While the song is a little more country that I, Mr. S and my dad might be, the lyrics are incredibly sweet. I especially like the following lines (I'm sure my dad will laugh when he hears them):

Everything she sees
she says she wants.
Everything she wants
I see she gets.

That's my daughter in the water
everything she owns I bought her
Everything she owns.

I wouldn't say I'm spoiled, but my dad has been incredibly generous with me, from paying for my college tuition to sending me to study abroad for a semester in London. And I hope he knows that I've appreciated all of the opportunities he's helped to make available to me!

So, the first question I have is whether or not in September people would automatically associate this song with Knocked Up, which hit theaters in in 2007. Secondly, how hard will it be to get my hands on a high quality version of this song? That's something I haven't yet investigated.

We'll see what happens, but I'm definitely pulled in by the sweetness of this song!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Peek-a-Boo - Something Blue

I tried on my dress again over the weekend...I hadn't put it on since the day I bought it back in October, so I was a little anxious. At the time, the dress did zip, but it was tight. Really tight. Since it was a sample dress, what I tried on was what I was buying and the saleswoman assured me that my alterations person would be able to let it out a bit where needed.

My goal, like any typical bride, is to ensure that it won't need to be let out! However, after a long Chicago winter I was desperately hoping that I hadn't packed on the pounds and that the dress would still zip. It did and I could sort of sit down in it and as long as I didn't want to take a lot of deep breaths, all would be good. Needless to say, I've got a little work cut out for me and fortunately my first fitting is still months away! It was great spending some time with my mom this weekend and seeing how my veil and shoes worked with the dress. Love it!

So anyway, back to the blue. I took a lot of time looking at different garters and trying to decide what look to go for - something a little more sultry, a little va-va-va-voom, or sweet and innocent? Needless to say there are endless options out there, from favorite sports teams to garters afixed with feathers and crystal.

Etsy's Garter Lady has a wealth of different designs and at different price points. I finally opted for her "dainty" pale blue set with pearl accent. It's feminine and sweet with a vintage feel. The pale blue works perfectly as my "something blue" and I was able to keep to my budget, spending only $15 plus shipping for the set! Woo hoo!

Source: Etsy

I think this is going to look so sweet under my dress, although I'm still a little hesitant about this tradition encouraging Mr. S to be searching underneath my dress with all of our nearest and dearest around us! Anyone else out there have the same reservations?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Final Decision? A Piece of Cake!

Up to this point, Mr. S and I had booked all of our vendors but one...our cake! As you may remember, this decision has been weighing heavily on my mind as I posted about it here and here and here! Whew, that's a lot of cake talk.

We had finally decided to have our tasting at The Sugar Syndicate, located on Chicago's northwest side. The Sugar Syndicate is part of something called The Sweet Collective, which is comprised of three separate businesses catering to you sweet tooths out there, all under one roof - The Sugar Syndicate, Rich Chocolates & Candies, and Ruth & Phil's Gourmet Ice Cream. I liked that we were going to get a more personal experience from this little boutique bakery.

Pastry Chef Cathay Rayhill did not disappoint on the day of our tasting! A week before our scheduled appointment, we had sent Cathay our three flavor choices from her current menu for the day of the tasting. We opted for:

  • White Cake with Mango Curd & Strawberries
  • White Cake with Lemon Curd & Mixed Berries
  • Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

Our cake could include up to two flavors (or only one if we wanted), and since we figured we couldn't go wrong with our chocolate choice, we gave ourselves two fruity options to choose from.

Cathay's set up was great. She brought out three mini cakes in our flavor choices, made especially for us. Equipped with places, knives and forks, Cathay explained how we should eat the cake to get the best flavor combination, and left us alone to our own devices while she went back into the kitchen.

Aren't the little cakes just darling?! Cathay covered just one of them with fondant so that we could taste the brand of fondant she uses. The other two cakes were just covered with buttercream.

We started off with the mango (above), then the lemon and finally the chocolate peppermint. This was a perfect way to sample the different combinations and come to a decision. In the end, we opted to go for the White Cake with Mango Curd & Strawberries and (of course) the chocolate cake with white chocolate peppermine ganache. Yum!

Forks aside, Cathay rejoined us and began to talk design. After sharing some examples of cakes that we both liked, we decided on a twist on this cake that Cathay had previously done:

Source: Flickr

Our different tiers are going to be sized similarly to this cake above, with the middle tier skinnier than all the rest. That middle layer with also say congratulations with our names, and our names will be in green (the only green that will be on the cake).


Our other inspiration was this teardrop cake. I love how graphic it is. So we finally decided that black teardrops would be along the lefthand side of the cake, kind of wrapping around to the back.

One other reason that I love the idea of working with Cathay is that she only books one wedding per day, so any other special order she might do that do would be scheduled around our cake. She likes to be the one delivering and setting up the cake, which is a great perk and I think definitely shows how much she cakes about the work that she does!

Having really done my homework about bakeries in the area and putting so much thought into what I wanted my cake to be like I think has really payed off in the end - we had such a great experience and I can't wait for our guests to try some of this delicious cake!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

...And Charlie Makes Five

Mr S and I love the companionship of our cats Linus and Basil. They were both rescues from animal control and they get along better than we ever could have hoped. As far as kitty life goes, theirs is pretty sweet - the expensive natural food, full reign of the house, a lot of lap time and that sweet kitty condo you see in the picture below, purchased for them right before we bought our own condo. Their life is good.

However, as much was we love our furballs, they don't respond well to walking on a leash. Go figure, right? That kitty stubborness shines right through. So we started thinking about getting a dog. How great would it be to have a dog to take to the park? And play fetch with? And teach to do cool tricks? Or timeline was initially to wait until after the wedding, when things calmed down a bit and we weren't spending a lot of time and money on "wedding stuff."

But with a September wedding, we most certainly wouldn't want to get a dog in the fall, with a harsh Chicago winter right around the corner. Hmm. So that would be, what, spring of 2010 when we could finally adopt?

Be forewarned - looking at dogs online quickly leads to visiting shelters. And once you visit a shelter, you are hooked! You've picked out your dog. Thought of names for him. Imagined him making doggy friends in your neighborhood and curled up at the end of your bed.

We went to the Chicago PAWS shelter on Saturday...just to look. As far as shelters go, this one ranked off the charts. Honestly, it was more like doggy and kitty daycare than rough shelter life. Once we met this tail wagging, face licking beagle/foxhound mix, we knew that the holding off was probably out the window! We went home empty handed, but talked about him nonstop for the rest of the night, and on Sunday morning found ourselves headed back to the shelter to adopt.

Walking out proudly with our new family member Charlie, we were so excited...and so shocked that we actually had a dog! We're excited to add him into the mix of our craziness as we continue to plan the wedding and gear up for a fabulous summer in the city with our new best friend.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Adding It Up: Green Candy

I've already posted about the black and white candies I've found as possibilities for my candy buffet. I ended up around $135.50 for 33 pounds of candy and 12 suckers (not factoring in shipping costs. I was also able to find many different flavors, from licorice to blackberry to dark chocolate. But of course, what would my candy buffet be like without great pops of green?

This green rock candy is $72 for 120 sticks (and of course, I certainly could find it cheaper, but this was the best picture!). It looks like they run for around $8 or so for 10 rock candy sticks. However, I am planning on making then, hence the only thing I'll need is sugar, water and swizzle sticks or string! Check out these easy instructions for making rock candy, and it might just bring back memories of making rock candy when you were a kid as a science project!

Source: Candy Warehouse

I love these fruit wedges! I'll probably go with the lime flavor because the colors are brighter and I think it's much more common to have apple-flavored candy, so I want to diversify a bit! Only $24.50 for 5 lbs.

Love these hard candy sticks! Not only are there tons of green flavors to choose from, they're only $12 for 80! Woo!! I'm torn between the sour apple and the wintergreen. The colors of the wintergreen are brighter and I'd assume people would expect a minty flavor here?

Kind of more lime in color than I'd want...but really, I think I can stray from a specific shade of green for the love of candy. And I LOVE gummy candy. My favorite would be peach rings, so I think these apple rings are a good substitute in order to stay in the color family. And only $12 for 4 lbs!

So, where does that leave me...? $48.50 for 9 pounds of candy and 80 hard candy sticks. Grand total so far? $182 for 42 pounds of candy plus hard candy sticks and suckers. No too bad! And still a lot of items that I'd like to make. And of course...I haven't ordered any of these sweets yet, as I'm still months and months away from September. But a girl must plan!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Going Green with Hypericum Berries

Since I've picked such an, err, unnatural shade of green for my accent color, I've pondered different possibilities for my floral elements. I thought it would be nice to add touches of green in the bridesmaid bouquets and the men's bouttenieres. I'd then keep my bouquet and Mr. S's boutteniere snowy white to set us apart.

Since the shades of green I can get in nature tend to be either more of a lime, or a deep forest green, I've played around with different ideas. One option I came across (isn't searching via Google images fabulous?!) were hypericum berries. They're kind of fun and modern, while also adding a textural element that I really like.

Love these bouttenieres for the guys. AND when I mentioned this to my florist, it brought the price quote down by a couple of bucks per bout! And with 10 bouts to buy, it definitely adds up!

Source: Kim & Company

Hmm, this might be a bit overload of berries, but you get the idea.

I really like the texture in this bouquet. While I know the ones for my girls will be smaller/less lush, I love that the overall "aura" of this bouquet leans toward the green side.

Sigh. I just have to keep telling myself that no one is going to just hold the bouquets up against the bridesmaids' shoes, so the hue of what's in their hands doesn't specifically have to match what's on their feet. And I could also nix the idea completely and give everyone white. But... in the end I think the green is fun! And interesting! And why pick exactly the same flowers for them as I am for myself when I can instead have fun and add in some different blooms?!

I have a few other ideas I'm tossing around for green floral options, but the berries are definitely topping the list.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bridesmaid Gifts: Part 2

So, I've already posted about the lovely clutches I'm working on for the bridesmaids. After I started thinking about what little things I wanted to tuck inside of the clutches (beyond their jewelry), my mind immediately went to vintage hankerchiefs. Since the bridesmaids dresses have pockets the girls can easily stash these hankies, to be pulled out **just in case** the tears of happiness start flowing.

I'd started my search on Etsy and was determined to get hankies with mongrams for each girl...which proved to be a rather unsuccessful effort. If you're willing to take the time and acquire these one by one, it's completely possible. If you're antsy like me and want to get it done all at once, you're probably going to wind up empty handed.

Instead, I set my sites on finding 5 different hankies that I felt all went together in some shape or form, but were all different - kind of like my bridesmaids! Each unique in her own way. I came across Etsy seller Kindred Thymes who had a great selection at fabulous prices. And, it's a much better deal overall to buy these from the same seller if possible.

Each and every one of these hankies is sweet and special while also being crisp and snowy white.

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

So, last time I posted about bridesmaids gifts I had spent $41.29 for the clutch material, or $8.26 per bridesmaid. I was able to get all 5 hankies for $24.25 (including shipping), so that puts me at a total so far of $65.54 or $13.11 per bridesmaid! Woo hoo!

Please know that I'm not a super frugal or stingy bride because I'm tallying up the costs! I absolutely love giving presents and don't automatically go to the price tag for things. However, multiplying everything by 5 quickly adds up, so I want to make sure I'm keeping tabs on things so I don't let myself get completely out of control! Secondly, it's rewarding knowing that I'm able to put together thoughtful, meaningful presents that aren't about expensive price tags or trendy brand names, but rather reflect my relationship with these ladies and my appreciation that they're a part of my big day!

And, of course...who doesn't love a bargain?! :)


Monday, March 9, 2009

Struttin' Up the Aisle...

By choosing music that we love for the wedding day, I like that idea that whenever I hear those certain songs, it will bring me back to the day. While I know that I've been trained over the course of the years to associate "The Wedding March" with weddings and maybe I should want that for walking down the aisle, it's not like I'm going to load it onto my iPod after the fact and listen to it when I'm feeling reminiscent.

So, of course, Mr. S and I are weighing out every single (non-traditional, of course!) music option for the wedding day. We've opted to not use the organ in our church and instead play whatever music will make us smile. But for whatever reason, the recessional is proving to be a struggle. How do you choose a song that is beautiful, meaningful and the right tempo for excitedly strutting up the aisle, and also includes church appropriate lyrics?

We've narrowed it down to I think two strong contenders, but they are so wildy different..

Option #1: Clare & the Reasons "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

(Scroll through the opening segment...we'd start playing this right when Clare starts singing) Yes, this song may ring a bell. This is a beautiful cover of the 80s classic by Tears for Fears. Mr. S and I saw Clare & the Reasons in concert this winter and I just fell in love with Clare's sweet, melodious voice.

While the lyrics may not be completely wedding-ish, I love that our first step down the aisle would be to Clare crooning "Welcome to your life..." How appropriate? We'll just, err, not focus on some of the other lyrics that I think are about war. I just love how Clare's voice floats, I listen to this song constantly on my iPod and try and envision it on the day. In my mind, it fits and I get giddy when I listen.

Option #2: Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"

So on the other end of the spectrum, we have Jackie Wilson. Hmm, totally different tempo and feel. A much more upbeat way to celebrate up the aisle. Exciting, fun, dare I say "vintage." But is it very "us"? That I don't know. I'm not a big wave my hands in the air and celebrate type of gal, and I feel like this song would expect me to do so.

What's a girl to do? The Clare & the Reasons song has so much more meaning to me personally - partly because I just love the band and we saw them together, and partly because I've been listening to this non-stop for months after Mr. S and I put it on the list of possibilities (it was actually his idea - I hadn't even considered it). I also want to make sure we integrate our point of view and work in some indy bands where they'll fit.

Thoughts? Ideas? Does anyone have some unique recessionals that might fit the bill?


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bridesmaid Gifts: Part 1

Mr. S and I have done a lot of thinking about groomsmen gifts, but not any buying! We've gone from chucks to ties to beer and highball glasses. We're obviously all over the place!

Fortunately, shopping for the ladies is so much easier. I have all of the pieces in place and have managed to keep the price per bridesmaid pretty reasonable. One thing I wanted to gift each of them was a clutch. However, any clutch I found, multiplied by 5, just didn't seem to fit into the budget. So...I decided that it was much more meaningful for me to make them something that was cute and fun.

I searched Etsy up and down until I came across Keykalou's shop and her simple Envelope Clutch pattern. For only $8.00 I was able to purchase a pattern for an envelope clutch that I could make in two different sizes. Better yet, she emails you a pdf of the pattern, so all you need to do is print it out on your home printer, cut out the pieces and you're ready to go! Simple, simple, simple! The clutch I made was 8.75" x 3.25".

From Lucky Kaeru on Etsy I bought 1.5 yards of Michael Miller's "Dandy Damask" and 1.5 yards of Alexander Henry's "Mod Dot Natural Multi" for a fun pop of color. I had a TON left over after cutting out my pieces for 5 clutches, so I've left myself plenty of room for error! I spent $28.04 (including shipping) for my fabric.

Finally, from Etsy's Vintage Tea I found 5 green vintage buttons in the exact shade of green I was looking for! Only $5.25 (including shipping).

The only other things you need to make this clutch is fusible interfacing (which I already had, but is really cheap) and hair ties that you use to keep the clutch closed. And, of course, I have a million of these laying around.

So, for a grand total of $41.29 (or $8.26 per bridesmaid!) I'm able to make 5 clutches, with enough fabric left over to make one for myself or use the fabric in other places! And, not only is this a bargain, it's personal and was made with tender loving care. It may not be the most well-made purse out there (I'm definitely not a seamstress!) but it works and they'll hopefully think it's special. As you might recall, my girls will be wearing dresses that are a houndstooth print, so I'm not expecting them to necessarily carry these on the day of the wedding - it's just something for them to have.

As for the actual construction of the clutch. I hadn't sewed in a loooong time! My mom had gifted me her old machine a couple of years ago, but it rarely gets brought out. The first clutch I made was with old scrap fabric and was something ugly! The pattern is simple but you just have to pay attention to your seams and making sure they're rounded in the right places. But once I got through that first practice one I was able to make a "real" one with the fabric I bought, which is pictured above! I'm quite proud of it and love the "pop" of the lining unexpected!

Of course, this is only one part of the gifts I'm preparing for the bridesmaids...more to come!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Save That Date!

We knew that we wanted to use a photo from our engagement shoot for our Save the Date postcard. We knew that we wanted it to be urban, edgy and cool. And, as it turns out, to include a mural. We like to go big with sharing our wedding date with the world ;)

We LOVED this shot in front of this mural in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. This was taken in September 2008, pre-Election, when the excitement was continuing to build here in Chicago and across the country!

To keep political messages and endorsements to ourselves as this is about our wedding, Mr. S (sadly) used PhotoShop to remove the "Elect Obama" message from the wall and add our information. I love the line in the arrow above us that says "Often Imitated, Never Duplicated."

We used Overnight Prints to order our 4x6 postcards. The great thing about this vendor was that we were able to upload files for the front and back images, so Mr. S designed the information to go on the back. A lot of vendors I had sourced out did not provide us that option, but rather forced you to use a template and their font choices.

Mr. S also had a $10 off coupon, so we got 100 postcards for around $40, including shipping!! The print quality was really great and the cardstock was heavy and good quality. We are really pleased.

For those of you who are thinking about how to word the information on your Save the Dates, after a lot of searching and playing around, we came up with this:
Make plans to join NAME & NAME
as they start the first chapter of their lives together
City, State
formal invitation to follow
Visit for all of the information you'll need
Accomodations are available at [hotel name]

I love that our Save the Date is distinctly us, representing us, our city and our aesthetic. Now, hopefully, everyone is saving the darn date!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Should we just CHUCK it?

Last week, Mr. S and I were throwing around more ideas for the groomsmen. We started talking about Chuck Taylors, and how cool they'd look on all of the guys with their tuxes. I continue to see this in more and more weddings, and I love it! I'm even a wee bit obsessed now with the idea.

And look, Converse even makes "our" green. Thanks, Converse! Since the ladies will already be in green shoes, why not make the gents pop as well in some fancy green footwear? To me it's only logical, but if some of the girls aren't dying to be wearing green shoes, I tend to wonder how much the guys would like it...

We could always go sleek and sophisticated (well, as sophisticated as Chucks can be) and put the guys in black and white chucks. They still make a statement without risking terrifying the guys.

Source: Flickr

Unfortunately, we're not completely sure if all of the groomsmen would ever really wear their Chucks again. We're guessing around 50/50. So do we buy them for the guys as their gift knowing that they may not ever wear them again (so why kind of a gift is that?) or ask each of them to pick up a pair (that they may never wear again)? I mean, it's ok to ask the girls to buy shoes, but is it not ok to ask the guys to do the same?

What's the etiquette here?! The little angel on my shoulder tells me that answer is to not buy or make them buy shoes that they would not want to wear. I'm choosing to listen to the other shoulder for the time being.

Chucks seem to run around $40, so not super expensive by any means if we asked every guy to buy a pair, but would probably be our only gift to them if we bought them for the guys. Mr. S really wants to wear them, and he could just wear them and have the guys wear regular black dress shoes...but where's the fun in that?!


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