Jan 25, 2011

Difficult Decisions

The merging of two lives into one, while full of hopefulness and excitement, rarely goes smoothly. I think most couples can expect to run into a few roadblocks, whether it’s something small like arguing over the wagon wheel table, When Harry Met Sally style, or something more complex.

For Mr. B and I, the location of our jobs was the issue. In the area where we grew up, it’s basically expected that you go to college, get a job in New York City, and move there with your high school buddies. Mr. B was no different than anyone we knew: He graduated, got a great job at a big firm right in the middle of Times Square, and figured he’d move with all of our friends.
I went against the grain. I don’t know if it’s that I naturally don’t love cities or that I felt an inclination to hate on what everyone else was doing, (or maybe a combination of the two), but I had no interest in New York City. I took a job near the Jersey Shore, my favorite place in the world.

It could have been doable, but my job was transferred to Maryland when I started. The move wouldn’t happen for two years, which meant I had a long time to agonize over the stay-or-go decision. My gut reaction was, “There is no f’ing way I’m moving to Maryland, I’ll quit.” That lasted about six months, or basically until I realized I had a great job in a terrible economy. It was stable, I'd gotten a big promotion, and had great work/life balance.  I started to think that it was ridiculous to quit and move to a place I didn’t want to live. I thought that Mr. B should consider seeing if his company had a Baltimore office, or even taking a job at my company and moving. He claimed that while I had a network in Maryland already due to work, he had nothing- no family, no friends, and no definite job. "Our people are here" he told me. "You should stay here." 

We went back and forth for a year and a half. He was set on staying put. Some weeks I was positive I would have to break up with him if he couldn’t consider moving, other weeks I couldn’t imagine leaving Jersey, with or without him.  I struggled with why I was making the decision- if Brad weren’t an issue, would I move? Was I afraid to move, because I was afraid it would break us up, and if so, what did that say about our relationship? Was I ridiculous to make Mr. B a decision factor when we weren’t even engaged yet? And what about me? Could I realistically survive in rural Maryland when I was used to a super surburban Jersey mallrat lifestyle? 

Ultimately, Mr. B's actions led me to my decision. First, our friends all moved to the city, and he stayed put, not wanting to leave me alone. Considering how much he’d always wanted to live there, and how much easier his life could be if he avoided the 3 daily hours of commuting, that was a big decision that said more about his love for me than anything up to that point. A few months later, he offered apply to my office, see what happened, and said that if he got the job, we’d move.  As soon as he said that, I realized I didn’t want him to. I’m a Jersey girl, and I knew I couldn’t function in another state. I barely got through college in landlocked, horrible Philly.  All I wanted to know was that he loved me enough to change his life for me if we had to. And he showed me that he did.

We got engaged in early December, and I put in my notice in a few weeks later. I don't feel one bit of regret about this decision. Mr. B is doing extremely well in his career and moving up quickly, indicating a level of success greater than what would be possible in my company. it. I’ll be employed until my office physically shuts down, in another 8 months or so. I’m a little nervous about not finding a job, considering that I have no idea what I want to do, and that there aren’t exactly a plethora of jobs out there. It’s scary too that the fun of planning a wedding makes it easy to ignore the threat of looming unemployment.

But at the same time, I honestly kind of feel excited about the direction my life will take. Will I love New York? I don’t know. But I know I miss our friends that are there, and it really feels like I’m moving on to a place full of opportunities. We're going to have fun there. We’ll figure things out. And in the mean time, I’m happy to know we got through a big decision in a way that made me feel our love was even more solid, even though at the beginning of it, I thought it would break us up.

Jan 22, 2011

Venue Hunt- The Decision!!

We went with the Palace!!

I'm in love with it. It is set off from a main road (that is full of hotels!), and you drive up to it through a long, windy road that goes across the 30 acre property. It really feels, and looks, like a palace. It's different from every other catering venue in that it's not a huge building off a major roadway, not gaudy and Jersey, and I truly trust that the managers, etc will provide us with a classy, elegant wedding. The ballroom is grand and elegant, with 24 ft ceilings, a library that will serve as the cocktail space, and a beautiful foyer entrance. I also love the bridal suite, a glorious multi-room space that will surely give us some awesome getting ready pictures. They've got a groom suite for the fiance and his friends (complete with projection screen so they can watch Sportscenter!). I love the grand ceremony area, where I can make an amazing staircase entrance, as well as the glamorous staircase entrance for the party room. The outdoor terrace makes for a perfect outdoor cocktail area (or ceremony, if the fiance gets his way). I'm rambling...but that's because I'm so excited!

Jan 21, 2011

Engagement Gift Ideas

My best friend got engaged before anyone else I knew, and her proposal involved a surprise party at her house. While I knew I would get her a "proper" engagement gift eventually, I wanted something small but thoughtful to bring on the actual engagement night. I thought a lot about what would be fun, and below are some ideas I had, as well as some gifts I received on my own engagement night:

 Lolita Martini Glasses: Lolita makes adorable painted barware for all different occasions. Above, the “Wedding Toast” Glass, decorated with engagement rings.

Ring holders: I received beautiful ones from Lenox and Brighton.

Magazines! Isn’t finally being able to buy a bridal magazine one of the most exciting parts of first getting engaged? Don’t make your friend go out and get her own magazines the next day- she’s going to wish she had some to read in her pajamas when she wakes up. It’s a gift that's inexpensive for you but really appreciated by her.

Books: Similar to the magazines, but with a little more meat. My best friend gave me Mindy Weiss’ The Wedding Book, which I don't think I could plan my wedding without, and my mom gave me David Tutera’s Big White Book of Weddings. The Knot and many other companies also publish planners and list books. If you don’t want to get a planning book, the book Altared edited by Colleen Curran, has essays written by brides on all different wedding related topics.

Picture frames: always a safe bet.

Ornaments: So many engagements happen around Christmastime, so a custom ornament with the couples' names is both seasonal and cute.


Champagne: depending on your budget, you can also include toasting flutes, or pair this with the magazines as well, so she can relax, read, and celebrate all at the same time (that's what I went with). Or go with wine or beer, depending on what the couple likes- just make the brand a little nicer than usual.

Lunch: if you don’t live close by, plan to meet up for lunch or drinks, treat, and let her talk about the plans! She's going to be excited, so just listen to her talk- now is not the time for you to cut her off with your work woes or boyfriend drama.

Custom thank you cards: This gift may not be for everyone, especially if you think the couple in question may have their own style or ideas for how they want their stationary to look (maybe she’s adamant that it exactly matches the wedding invites). But, they will receive plenty of engagement gifts and may be glad to have thank you cards that they can give to everyone.

Or, combine a few of the books/mags into a little “Engagement Essentials” gift basket- maybe throw in some ring cleaner, or a pretty notebook she can use when she starts to meet with vendors.

Jan 17, 2011

Venue Hunt

Before we were engaged, one of the things I looked forward to most was finding a venue. I spent a lot of time online looking at different places, and compiling a list of dream locations. For me, one of the worst parts of waiting was waiting to find the venue! I'd been drooling over so many places online that I just couldn't wait to see them in person. But when we finally got engaged, I couldn't start looking since our engagement happened right around the holidays. Then, when there was finally nothing to get in the way, we were pelted with a massive snowstorm that forced us to change 3 days' worth of appointments. I won't lie, I didn't handle that well.  

I drafted a list of places, sent it to Mr. B and our parents (it's exciting for them too so I wanted them to feel included), and we made our list to visit based one everyone's feedback. In order of favorites:

I'm loving Clark's Landing Yacht Club, in Pt. Pleasant. Point's got a lot of relationship significance for Brad and I (first dates, first annversary, etc). The room is beautiful and overlooks the marina and I love the water backdrop-- imagine our wedding pics with boat docks as a backdrop!! Swoon.

Brad's top choice is the Liberty House in Jersey City. It's got a rustic interior, full of beautiful windows, and overlooks the Manhattan skyline. Definitely a dramatic view, and anything NYC gets his attention.

My dream venue is Bonnet Island or Mallard Island in LBI (same owners & similar looks). They are beautiful, classy waterfront venues. My mom hates them, she doesn't go for the water thing and finds the sparse ceremony area a bit too "Puritan," but I am in love. Mom will probably have her way though, rumor has it a wedding at Bonnet Island easily costs $55K (before flowers, photography, etc).

The Palace at Somerset Park is kind of the exact opposite of everything I want, but I think it looks really classy, and for whatever reason, I have a good feeling about checking it out. It's one of David Tutera's top pick venues, and that's some quality endorsement right there.

The Eagle Oak Golf and Country Club in Farmingdale is another contender. Mr. B says its too "golfy" (no kidding...) but I think I gravitate towards these understated places. I can't stand the typical over the top NJ wedding venue (Venetian, Rockleigh, I'm looking at you).

And despite what I just said about hating the typical "Jersey" venue, we are considering Seasons in Washington Township (if this isn't Jersey, I don't know what is). I've heard great things about the food and cocktail hour from a close friend whose taste I trust, and with its beautiful dance floor, nice ceilings, and copious windows, it's at least worth looking at.

I'm also feeling the Westmount Country Club. I know a few people getting married there, and it does look nice- more "wedding venue" than the beachfront places, but also modern enough that I like it. Check out that cool chandelier (I think this is the cocktail space). I've heard some negative feedback about the reception room layouts though.

Other places warranting consideration, although not enough consideration to bother with pictures, are the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, the Hyatt Jersey City, and the W Hoboken.

We've got appointments for the first few, and I'm starting to get back pricing and date availability info from the others. The hunt begins!!

Jan 16, 2011

Inspiration Board

I never understood the point of inspiration boards, and never planned on making one. Until I was bored one night and threw one together as a background project while I was G-chatting Mr. B. He was arguing that my dream colors (ivory and gold) would be boring, and I wanted to show him they woudn't be. I wasn't even paying much attention while I did it, just combining some favorite pictures I'd saved. But when it was finished, I was shocked at how much I loved it. I mean, loved. I probably should have figured this, I combined all of my favorite wedding pictures into one big collage- why wouldn't I love it?

But more than that, I was glad I made it. First off, I was surprised to see how many cohesive elements it had. It made me feel like I could trust my judgment, that I gravitated towards certain things because they shared a common style element. What I like/choose is subconscious, but since it all comes from me, it somehow all works together.

Secondly, I learned my colors were a bit different than I'd always envisioned. I was very adamant about "ONLY gold and ivory, absolutely NO color"- well look how much baby blue is in here! (FYI, if asked before this board, I would have told you that baby blue was my least favorite color). I was glad that popped up as an accent color, since a lack of color was a small point of contention between Mr. B and me.

Finally, it's an easy way to show people what I'm thinking. Saying "white and gold with baby blue accents" could mean anything. This clarifies it a lot, and classes it up a bit. So without further ado: the board!

I love this board. I think it is elegant, classic, beautiful, vintage, and vaguely regal, yet retains a refreshing feel. I'm so glad I made this, and recommend everyone else try it out as well. You will be surprised at what you learn!

So we're planning a wedding...

I'm Tracy. I’m 24, and a loud and honest Jersey girl, into reading, crafts, food and fashion. My love of dresses, heels, and pearls, might make me seem elegant, but they're usually combined with a beer and a loud rendition of Sweet Child O' Mine. Wedding planning has shown me that I have a crazy level of attention to detail, psychotically high standards, and an obsession with organization.

My fiancĂ© is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever known- smart, a hard worker, quiet, down to earth, and so much fun. He’s in public accounting, but plays in a band on the side. He drives me crazy when there’s a Michigan game on or a new Weezer single on YouTube, but I wouldn’t change a thing about him.  

We’re planning a move to New York City, and love to explore the neighborhoods or go up to visit our friends. We'll be getting married in June, in an affair I like to call formal, elegant, and classy (with a few fun touches).

I feel so blessed to be planning a wedding with the man of my dreams, and am looking forward to blogging about the process! (Hey, if anything, it's an escape from my dull desk job!) Thanks for coming along!