Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Modern Blessing


Wouldn't it be a sign of the times if the reader at your ceremony got up there with his or her Kindle in hand? While I don't anticipate that happening at our wedding, it would definitely cause me to chuckle. And, it would most definitely put a modern twist on the proceedings...don't worry, we're not going to take things quite that far!

In any event, Mr. S and I finally asked one of my good friends - and college roommate of two years - to read during the ceremony. I had wanted to ask her for awhile, but we don't see each other very often and I didn't want to do it over email. I instead chose to ask her toward the end of my bachelorette which she said she'd love to, but would I please ask her again when I was sober? I assured her I was completely serious with my question, but did follow up with an email the next day.

I came across the most beautiful reading that I believe we are going to use...

"Blessing for a Marriage," James Dillet Freeman
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
May you always need one another - not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another's presence - no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

I aboslutely love it. It's a little more modern than other readings I've seen and since we're having a ceremony that we'd categorize as more spiritual than religious, this reading to me is a perfect fit.

Have you chosen something special for your reader(s) during the ceremony?


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Perfect Trio

I shared awhile back the story of where Mr. S bought my engagement ring, and the style of wedding band I wanted. Simple. A few diamonds evenly spaced around the band.

Well, a couple of weeks ago Mr. S and I took a trip back to Chicago's jewelers row to seek out our weddings bands. I bought along pictures of what exactly I thought I wanted and we tried on ring after ring. When I finally tried on the ring that I'd thought I had to have, it just didn't do anything for me as a wedding band (as a ring on the other hand? Perfect, sign me up! But not with my e-ring).

I ended up finding an AMAZINGLY sparkly ring with prong-set round cut diamonds. Swoon. But it would have put us at the top of our ring budget (we'd been looking to spend $1,200 max for both bands). Hmm. I put on my budget hat and tried on another happily sparkly band with round cut channel set diamonds over the top half of the band that was SO freaking under budget, there wasn't a question which ring I'd choose. I love me a bargain.

Mr. S wavered between a brushed white gold band and a shiny tungsten band...he happened to fall in love with the tungsten which was also very budget-friendly...woo hoo!

Here's some shots of the rings (please disregard the horrendous lack of camera was dying)...


...I secretly love wearin' these together around the house, shhh....

We picked up our rings last week, all sized and ready to go, and while there they spruced up my e-ring...I'll be perfectly honest - bling looks a whole lot bigger when it's all shiny and clean! My e-ring has never looked better.

I'm so pleased that we both got rings we love but only spent $675 of our $1,200 budget. I definitely don't think you have to empty your wallet to find something special. AND with the leftover money that we'd allocated for our rings, we can go ahead and pay off one of our vendors now rather than in September (I'm so excited to have one less payment leading up to the wedding!).

Did you stay within or bust the budget when you picked our your wedding bands?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Showering with Thanks

I'm fresh from my bridal shower/bachelorette weekend, and I can't wait to share the fabulous details of the day and night! While I wait for my lovely bridesmaids to send some pictures my way, I thought I'd share the gifts I put together for the bridesmaids.

Mrs. Latte's gifts for her bridesmaids had stuck in my head and I knew I wanted to do something similar...but lacking creativity, I decided not to reinvent the wheel and instead just take her idea (thank you, Mrs. Latte!).

Please don't mind my awful photography...these weren't completed until just before the shower, so I had to quickly snap some shots!

I bought these great gable boxes that were the perfect size, and using a handwriting font printed out the "thank you" message onto card stock, which I then cut out using pinking shears and glued onto the boxes.

Using a mixture of typewriter font and the handwriting font I printed the messages onto cardstock, cut them out, punched a hole into each with a heart-shaped punched and tied them onto the items with my favorite black and white ribbon.

...some yummy cinnamon scented soap...

...yummy smelling candles...

...and my favorite chocolate chip cookies using this recipe and sprinkling the top of each cookie with sea salt pre-baking to get the perfect salty-sweet combo...

I'm so glad I was able to give each one of my five bridesmaids a little thank you for giving me such a great weekend!

Coming up...the Stiletto shower and later the bachelorette extravaganza!

Did you do anything special to thank your bridesmaids?


Friday, July 24, 2009

To Look or Not to Look

Mr. S and I have been debating doing a "first look." Well, I've been debating...he's been, err, demanding. At first I thought he just wanted to do it because logistically and photographically it would be great - fun first look pictures, get some shots out of the way, and get on with the show.

I refused to do a first look out of convenience, and he conceded. He even suggested we not have our photographer there if I wanted it to be more personal and just us.

I'm still just torn. It would be nice to have that special moment together beforehand, but I wonder if it will take away some of the anticipation and excitement of me walking down the aisle. With our timeline we'd have to do the first look right before the ceremony start time, and it would have to be at the church which wouldn't leave us a lot of options for great first look settings. I don't want to risk guests seeing me beforehand, so we'd have to be sneaky and find a private place that would look nice (should we choose to photograph it...which, knowing us, we probably would do).

I wish I could have my cake and eat it too...experience the first look, but also experience Mr. S and I seeing each other for the first time that day as I walk down the aisle.

Wasn't Mr. & Mrs. Cupcake's first look just lovely?

Source: Weddingbee

All you married ladies out there, how did you make your decision about the first look? For those of you still planning, what factors are helping you make your decision?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

A-Ten Hut!

Sister Stiletto is throwing me a big weekend of bridal celebrations on Saturday, starting with a bridal shower in the afternoon and followed by my bachelorette that evening out on the town.

As you might remember, I found two great dresses for this weekend, and both fit perfectly! The dress for the shower is even equipped with pockets, people...double bonus, in my book. Jamming both events into one day may seem like a lot, but with 3 of the 5 Stiletto bridesmaids living out of state (San Diego, New York City and Tampa), I couldn't ask the girls to come out twice to celebrate on top of travelling here in September for the wedding.

Needless to say, I've been in "bridal bootcamp" this week to prepare for the festivities...let's see what's been on the agenda:

Any bride-to-be knows that being in good shape is extra important, so I hit the gym extra hard this week.

I also busted out those pesky whitening trays. Can you believe that if you actually use your teeth whitener more than once in one week, you can see the difference?! My pearly whites may not blind you, but they're on the road to recovery.

I've decided to nix the "lovely" roots I've been sporting since I got highlights back in February and get my color done tomorrow. Not only will my hair be glossy and beautiful for this weekend, but I can start to determine the perfect shade for the wedding day.

Bridesmaids A and D will be rolling into town on Friday, so we're going to get mani/pedis - I anticipate showing off my bling in style at the shower!


I'm so excited to have this weekend to celebrate with everyone! I think this will finally start to make everything feel even more real...the Stiletto nuptials are getting closer and closer. Eeeeh!

How did you prepare for your shower and bachelorette?


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Take It Away, USPS

My invitations are officially out of my hands and out of my mind as of today! I lugged them all to work on the train and mailed them from the (oh so convenient!) post office in my building.

And, of course, who doesn't need an entourage when sending their invites?! My co-worker Megan was kind enough to accompany me down there to snap a few shots of the big ta-da (please don't mind that I rolled out of bed a tad late today and didn't put on a drop of make up, ugh).

Last night I sealed them all and packed them up for the journey on the train. Don't they look nice? That damask pattern across the top of the envelopes is one of my favorite details.

The only minor set back was the fact that the flap on the envelopes was rather large and so there was a big gap on either side after I had sealed the envelopes. Fortunately, we noticed this pretty early in the process, so it was nothing that a little glue stick couldn't fix as I sealed away.

Whew. Not only am I glad to get these into the hands of our invitees, I'm excited that some space will be freed up...these have been stored in our house since February!

Did you breath a big sigh of relief when you mailed your invitations, or were you sorry to see them go?


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Card Box...Complete!

Remember when I had this great DIY idea for a vintage suitcase card box? first attempt turned out so badly I couldn't stand to snap a picture of it before it landed in the trash. So, I went with my backup plan.

When I was planning my candy buffet, I picked up this black cake stand, which happened to come in a great box. I'm not using the cake stand anymore, but it's been sitting around my kitchen in that box. It only made sense to stop trying to think of something new and go with what works - a hat box turned card box.

Mr. S cut a slot out of the center with a box cutter, then I took some extra damask fabric I had on hand to cover the top. I didn't have big enough of a piece of fabric to cover the whole top, so I used two separate pieces.

I hot glued it in place on the top, then...

I flipped it over and gathered pieces, pulling the fabric tight, and glued it in place. I didn't have the patience to try and get it smooth, so instead I pulled it so that it looked gathered around the side.

To cover up some not-so-nice edges around the slot, I glued some ribbon in place and tucked it into the underside of the lid.

The finished box! It's simple and a little rough around the edges...but I finished it in less than an hour using materials I already had in the house.

I'm glad I ended up going with a classic idea rather than trying to reinvent the wheel for my card box - one more completed project is incredibly helpful at this stage of the game!

What are you using for the card box at your reception?


Friday, July 17, 2009 had me at duck nachos

The rehearsal dinner has been the source of some strife in the Stiletto household these past few months. We haven't been able to find any places to host it!

I know you're thinking to yourself, "Stiletto, what's the deal? You live in Chicago and are surrounded by so many fabulous restaurants." That may be true, but the wedding events are taking place just west of the city in Oak Park, and I've been bending over backwards to keep everything in Oak Park, within walking distance of the church!

While Oak Park has some fabulous restaurants, the ones that could actually accomodate our group just didn't grab our interests. Or if they did, we'd have to empty our wallets and then some to host our nearest and dearest.

So, we opened up our search to Chicago's West Loop, which is about 10 miles straight east of Oak Park. The West Loop has some fabulous restaurants to choose from - almost too many! Fortunately, a friend suggested de cero, a self-described modern taqueria.

The restaurant just happens to have a room the perfect size for our little group (20-25), availability on our date, and no room rental fees if we keep it to 2 hours or less.

Don't you just love this long table that's in one of their private rooms:

And their list of drinks sounds absolutely scrumptious, including a raspberry basil daiqueri, a peach and chamomile cholada and a strawberry mint marguerita - only a taste of what's on their fabulous drink menu.


They sent us a few sample menus to look at - all would be served family style - and after including tax and gratuity, their price per person is actually less than the places in Oak Park that I had on my list that I had considered reasonable. Score!

Of course, the true deal maker? The duck nachos - just try and tell me your mouth isn't watering right now when you read this:

five house-made tortilla chips served with
duck, queso, pico de gallo, mashed pinto beans and crema

Yummmmy! Now, of course, we haven't made a trip there to see the space and stuff our faces. That's next on the list and assuming all goes as planned, we'll be signing on the dotted line.

I was sad to step away from my perfect plan to keep the rehearsal dinner in Oak Park, but at the end of it all we both wanted a tasty place to take our friends and family.

How did you decide where to host your rehearsal dinner?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Semi-DIY Bouquet Vases

Yes, the main decor element on the head table at my wedding will be a combination of cheap IKEA vases and tape...and yes, I'm quite proud of this!

My plan has always been to have the bouquets pull double duty and enhance the head table, but I didn't want to just put them in boring, clear vases and call it a day. I thought about silver julep cups - Save On Crafts has quite the selection -but it was more of a financial investment than I wanted to make. Plus, they don't really go with anything else we're doing. They're very elegant and for any other affair I'd be head over heals for them, but there isn't an ounce of silver anything at the wedding...excluding eating utensils, of course.

On a recent trip to IKEA, I purchased a 9-inch tall square vase for my bouquet...

Source: IKEA

and five 6-inch tall square vases for the bridesmaid bouquets...

Source: IKEA

One thing to note - if you're considering these vases, they have a thick base, so subtract an inch to determine how much room you'll actually have in them. Since the larger vase was only $5.99 and the smaller vases were $2.49 each, I couldn't pass these up and honestly just wanted to be done with it.

I've been unsuccessful in getting ribbon to stay put on vases, and had considered covered these with fabric or fun paper, when I found Etsy seller Nothing Elegant. She had this whole assortment of Japenese masking tape that comes in fabulous patterns and colors. But, the tape shipped from Korea. Hmm. In fact, I had a hard time finding it sold in the United States, except for this Web site Happy Tape. But, to get a black and white design from Happy Tape, I would have had to buy a set and probably spend around $30.

Taking a chance, I ordered this tape from Nothing Elegant (please note: in checking her shop, she has almost nothing for sale at this time; I'm hoping this is just for the short term because she had a fabulous assortment of tape!), and spent about $15.00 (including shipping). Aren't these stripes fabulous?!

Source: Etsy

Much to my surprise, I received the tape faster than I often receive items shipped from within the US...and the tape is absolutely fabulous!

I immediately took one of the shorter vases and started playing around with arranging the tape. I love that if I mess up, I can easily pull it off and start over. What do you think of the first attempt?

Since we still have a couple of months to go, I'm going to hold off on decorating the rest of the vases. I think these are going to look fabulous on the head table, and I won't sit there worrying about some ribbon or paper just popping off in the middle of dinner...decorating with tape was the best idea EVER!

What unique products are you integrating into your decor?


Monday, July 13, 2009

DIY Invitation Addressing With a Twist!

I've posted about the in's and out's of our invitations...we've had them in our house since about February, but actually taking the final step - addressing these suckers - took some planning. We have these fabulous outer envelopes, but I just didn't know what to do in order to stay in line with the integrity of the design. Oh yeah, and in line with that pesky budget.

Source: Plush Paper

Along with many others, I fell in love with this easy way to mimic calligraphy, as posted on Project Wedding. I'm sure many others have hopped on board with this great project, including Miss Piglet (her invitations are fabulous!).

I liked this idea, but having done many a mail merge at work, I absolutely hate running envelopes through the printer because I've been witness to far too many fatalities - jamming, crookedness, black marks, you name it. I just couldn't subject my precious invitations to a chancy procedure. But since the whole project just boiled down to tracing, I decided there had to be a way to piggyback on this project.

I present to you my makeshift light box:

Taking one of the little click lights that we have on the underside of our kitchen cabinets, I took the glass out of a picture frame and propped it up on two books, sliding the light underneath. Voila! This setup was perfect for illuminating the addresses (of course, if I had dark envelopes this project would not work).

Here's a sample of a finished envelope (don't mind the messy blurring that I did to hide the full address):

It's not perfect, but it fits with our design exactly. The rest of the invitation was done in a typewriter font, so I used that for the addresses. This font also tends to be a little irregular, which lends itself perfectly to tracing! It would be fun to try this out with a more calligraphy font, but that's another project for another day.

If you're thinking of going this route because you can't stand the thought of running your envelopes through the printer, here's what I did:
  1. Set up a labels mail merge through Microsoft Word
  2. Use Avery Label 5168 (5" x 3.5")
  3. Set up your font, centering and spacing preferences, and set your address text toward the bottom of the label (you'll need to experiment to find the right place; the first line of mine started at the 3" mark on the label)
  4. Before completing the merge, also make all borders thick black lines
  5. Complete the merge and go through the individual "labels" to make any adjustments, check for errors, etc*
  6. Print your "labels" onto regular printer paper
  7. Use a paper cutter to cut out the "labels" - the black lines at the bottoms of the rectangles can be used as guides when you're cutting them to ensure a straight line, especially if you don't have a paper cutter and are using scissors
  8. What are intended to be labels are actually perfect for slipping right into your envelopes to then trace
*You will probably want to go through a couple of trial runs before you complete the merge to get the address located on the right part of the "label" so that it falls on the right place on your envelope.

For me, this was such a painless process, except for the pain in my hand as I addressed away! The mail merge makes it incredibly seamless, allowing you to pull straight from the Excel list you're maintaining.

Of the 73 invitations I have to address, all but six are done! And, I didn't mess up on a single invitation thus far...I think it's safe to call this project a success.

How did you choose to address your invitations?


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Planning in the Suds

Mr. S and I really laid a lot of the groundwork for our wedding over the winter. Sure, we booked our reception site last May and our photographer and church last July. But our florist, day of coordinator and limo were booked in the winter, while many planning details and projects were thrown around.

So, on a regular basis we held wedding meetings right here:


At first we tried having wedding meetings at Starbucks. Even though it got Mr. S away from distractions such as his laptop, he still had that pesky iPhone. Which of course meant that getting his attention at home was virtually impossible...I could never get him to focus in on the task at hand. Since I opened Mr. S's eyes to the wonders of the bubble bath at the beginning of the winter, I knew I had him right where I wanted him!

We're blessed with a fabulous deep-soaking tub. No, it's not one of those big fancy corner units with lots of space, but with a little finagling we manage to fit - bubbles and all, maybe even a glass or two of wine on the side if we're feeling saucy.

From the very start Mr. S has been very engaged in the planning process, and I've done my best to get his input on almost everything, and I even try and listen and understand his feelings when he's going completely against what I want to hear! I'm very, very blessed that he doesn't roll his eyes as I show him three different examples of escort cards or when I have him weigh in on which white flower looks the most like "us."

So, when we held those fabulous meetings in the tub this winter, we were completely free from distractions, inspiration overload and real life. Instead, we could just pick a topic and plan it out from top to bottom. This was how I found out that he had a great idea for the guest book that he really wanted to do (when previously I thought he didn't care one way or another). Having that relaxed and focused "us" time really brought us together as we were planning, while also quelling some of my wedding planning stress and frustration!

Now summer is here (although it doesn't feel that way in Chicago most days) the baths are over and we're 70-odd days away from the wedding (eeeh!). While we have our disagreements about the wedding from time to time, I find that they're more grumbles than all out fights, and I truly believe it's because we've really invested the time in planning a wedding that reflects both of our wants, wishes and ideas.

How have you and your significant other approached your planning?


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Makeup My Mind

I'm not a big makeup wearer (shhh....I went all winter long without wearing a single bit of powder or shadow to work!). On top of that, I generally get told that based on my skin tone, brown hair and blue eyes, I can pull off any shades of makeup, hair color, and clothes. While it's nice to be chameleon, definitive answers like "you look best in blush tones" or "never wear the color yellow" would be incredibly helpful.

I mean, I don't want to end up looking like this:


I received great feedback on my recent hair post and think I have settled on "option D" as my inspiration. I didn't even realize until today that this was the same picture that Mrs. Yorkie used at her trial!

It's great having hair ideas nailed down, but there's this whole face of mine to contend with. I don't have strong opinions on makeup, nor do I have celebrity inspiration or a picture in my head of what I might look like. Beyond, well, looking better. Hee. I, however, really liked Miss Cowboy Boot's recent trial. I liked the freshness of her inspiration looks and her makeup came out looking beautiful.

When I think about myself, my dress and my overall "look" that I envision for my wedding day, I think the word sweet encompasses everything. My dress is very soft and romantic. To each her own, but to me soft and romantic does not equal smoky eyes or bold red lips. I like the idea of "fresh."

So, here I am -

And here's some inspiration (the best I could do for finding pictures that were "rosy" and "fresh"):

Ok, so maybe I could do without the blue eyeliner on that last one. But you get the idea. So I'll take these ideas along with me when I do my hair and makeup trial...whenever that might be!

Where do you go for great makeup inspiration?


Sunday, July 5, 2009

United...and It Feels So Good?

Mr. S and I met with our minister this weekend to begin discussing the type of ceremony we might like. The next time we meet we'll really get into the details, but this meeting was to get us thinking about what is important to us.

In the car on the way to church, we discussed how we didn't want a unity candle because it didn't really feel like us. Of course, the topic came up later in our meeting, and we shared our feelings about it. Our minister, however, gave us a completely new outlook.

We had been thinking about the thing and the stuff more than the meaning. Wikipedia states that it "is to symbolize the union of two individuals, becoming one in commitment." Our minister outlined something similar to this, but she also made another great point. When we light the unity candle, it's our time as a couple during the ceremony to have our moment together - amidst the roomful of onlookers - to quietly say special things to one another. I liked that - our time. We're still in debate on doing a first look (he's pro, I'm anti), so maybe this unity candle time can be all our own?

We're definitely now considering making this a part of the ceremony, as we explore other traditions, verses, poems and songs that will make the ceremony special and a part of us. In true Miss Stiletto form, I've scouted some unity candle inspiration on Etsy, although you'd better believe if we choose to do this I'll be diy'ing this project!

Here's some inspiration I found that would fit with our color scheme:

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

What are you incorporating into your ceremony to make it feel special?


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Will Time Be On My Side?

I'd prefer to have everything on my wedding day go in perfect order and on time - I mean, who wouldn't? But beyond that, even though I've been trying to pay close attention to the happenings at all of the wedding receptions I have been at over the past 15 months (since getting engaged), I'm still worried that I'm planning things out in the wrong order. What if the toasts come at the wrong time? Will there still be enough people there when we do the garter and bouquet toss?

On top of my timeline worries, I have my photographer to think about. We've only booked her for 7 hours, but we're hoping to tack an extra hour onto that, giving us 8. Within that 8 hours with her, we want to start with getting ready shots of me as I get my hair/makeup done and get dressed and have her shoot through the main events at the reception. I didn't think this would pan out quite as I wanted, but after playing around with things I think it may just work.

-Main photographer arrives at hotel, 2nd photographer arrives at church
-Hair/Makeup is Completed
-Bridal party heads to church
3:00 - 4:00
-Ceremony (probably will run less than an hour)
4:00 - 6:00
-Bridal party photos
6:00 - 7:00
-Cocktail Hour
-Guests ushered into the ballroom
-Bridal party entrance
-Mr. & Mrs. Stiletto First Dance
-Cake cutting/dinner served
-Dinner Cleared/Cake Served
-Father/Daughter Dance
-Bouquet & Garter Toss
-Photographers Leave
-Last Call

So...if you're still with me - did I leave anything out? Anything grossly out of order? Any suggestions, words of wisdom from those who have gone before me?!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hair, Hair, Hair

I know I'm going to have to schedule my hair and makeup trial soon. Great, right? If I could nail down what I wanted, I'd be stoked. I've no clue about make nor do I have any inspiration (or know where to look for some!), so that's a post for another day.

I debated on different hairstyles previously, and even thought about being a short hair bride. Now it's time to stop debating and getting real...what's a girl to choose?

This is my hair currently...except I'd curled it for a wedding and I'm sporting some fabulously awful roots (I'm hoping to make the color a bit richer before the day). I've got a decent amount of length going on, but my hair is pretty thin.

So, please help me decide!

A. This is still my frontrunner - I had posted it before. Not only do I love the cool loops, even though I can't see the front I imagine that there's some volume/interest going on. I don't want my hair flat against my head if at all possible.

Source: The Knot

B. So great! I love this. Although I hate that on The Knot you often only get a shot of the back. As I said above, I want volume. But this woven effect is fabulous.

Source: The Knot

C. One of Miss Hot Cocoa's bridesmaids! I saw this and immediately dragged the picture onto the desktop! It's similar to the one above - I must really be digging woven hairstyles these days.

Source: Weddingbee

D. A bit of a departure from the rest! I'm not normally all into curls, but I'm liking this. It has textures and detail and volume.

Source: Flickr

So, what do you think? A, B, C, D or do you have a hairstyle that is just what I'm looking for?!


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