Apr 29, 2011

The Jewish Parts of Our Ceremony

Ketubah, the traditional Jewish wedding contract (Source)

Last night, we met our cantor for the first time. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous for this; I had heard through the grapevine that he might hassle us on the religion of our nonexistent kids, but luckily that didn't happen. He does seem stricter than our deacon in terms of adherence to rules and tradition, but I think we'll all be able to work together. 

One thing I did love was how our cantor went step-by-step through the elements of a Jewish ceremony, everything in insane detail.  I have only been to two weddings in my life, so I don’t even know the elements of my own faith’s ceremony, let alone someone else’s. His full on explanation really helped me begin to picture the actual ceremony, which as of yet I have not done (I know, I know it’s the most important part).

Some traditions we’ll be including:

A Chuppah (Source)

Chuppah: wedding canopy that we’ll get married under, believe it represents our future home. (I’ve been working with our florist on it, and it is going to be AWESOME).
Kiddushin: blessing and drinking of wine, followed by the exchange of rings, the “biggie” part of a Jewish ceremony. We take turns reciting an Aramaic phrase, followed by its English translation, and place the rings on each other’s hands. The cantor had us practice this; my Aramaic needs work.
Yihud: 5 minutes of privacy with my groom immediately following the ceremony. I think this will be a nice opportunity to make out reflect on our ceremony.
Tzedaka: this is a charitable donation we give in honor of our marriage. It won't be mentioned at our ceremony, but I thought at a time when we're spending boatloads on a wedding, it's nice to remember and help others too.
We’ll be skipping some other traditions, such as having our parents under the chuppah with us- that’s just too many people up there. We also won't have a traditional ketubah, though we will have a similar type of document that displays the Hebrew text of our Old Testament reading.  And I’ll be rocking a diamond wedding band, rather than the traditional unadorned band (I’m into working with other traditions but I have my limits, and a lack of diamonds is one of them!)

So now we just have to figure out how to combine everything...

Apr 26, 2011


Last night, Mr. B and I met with our deacon to take the FOCCUS test, which is a compatibility inventory the Catholic church makes you take before you get married. Its goal is simply to help couples figure out what topics they need to discuss more; it doesn’t indicate future marital success or failure. Since it seems to be something that a lot of people are nervous or confused by, I thought I’d discuss our experience.

The test was straightforward. We answered a battery of 164 questions (took about 20 minutes) on various aspects of marriage, including children, money management, our relationship, attitudes, sex, and for us, a special section on interfaith couples (he's Jewish, I'm Catholic). You fill out a Scantron form, agreeing, disagreeing, or claiming uncertainty on the statement. Some sample statements include:

·         We are in agreement about the roles of husband and wife in our marriage relationship
·         I am concerned that in-laws may interfere in our marriage
·         My future spouse and I agree that our marriage commitment means we intend to pledge love under all circumstances.
·         We are open to having children
·         I want a strong sexual relationship (my super mature response to that question was to text Mr. B during the test saying, “Eeek a sex question!”)
·         I am concerned about my partner’s gambling/drug/drinking habits

The test basically looks like this:

It gets scored by the FOCCUS people and returned to our deacon, who calls us if there's anything he wants us to discuss, or leaves us alone if he thinks we did fine.

My parents were horrified at the whole idea of the FOCCUS, calling it an “invasion of privacy” and “none of the church’s business.” Honestly, I feel exactly the opposite- I think the church is simply recognizing how many failed marriages there are, and is just trying to give us as as good of a start as they can. I thought it was a good idea, and Mr. B, ever the good sport, agreed, even calling it "fun."

Afterward, we did discuss some of our interfaith issues with the deacon, who I really, really like. He’s an old Jersey City cop with a booming voice, and I find him to be extremely respectful, helpful, and fair to both our religions. He gave us a lot of advice on our situation, underscoring it all with the idea that a happy and working marriage was the paramount concern, and that religion should bring us together, not apart. He told us we should make sure our kids learn about and celebrate the holidays of both, but gave us no pressure on which one to choose. 

Anyway, our interfaith situation has made me obsessed with learning more about our religions. In keeping with today's Catholic theme, here's some marriage prep sites I've found, which at the very least might be some food for thought during a slow workday!
  • Catholic Wedding Help: Rules, planning help, answers to questions, and wedding resources such as vows, music, and programs.
  • For Your Marriage: Catholic marriage website with resources, discussions, and articles for engaged and  married couples, and couples with kids.
  • FOCCUS: the test's website
Anyone else take the FOCCUS yet? Did you like or hate that it was a requirement?

Apr 25, 2011

Tone of the Wedding

So now that I’ve talked about my imaginary wedding, and shared the engagement party invites  that will look nothing like the rest of the wedding stationary, maybe it’s time to discuss our actual wedding. Honestly, it’s a pretty formal, traditional affair, starting with an interfaith religious ceremony and continuing on to a ballroom reception. Here's my inspiration board, the starting point for our wedding designs:

I surveyed some people on one of the Bee boards and got some great descriptors for this board- my favorite being "champagne and romance!" (Suggested, I think, by Sandy Toes Bride.)

Our Color Palette
Hopefully your monitor doesn't make these colors look too strange. I love this color palette, but hate that four months after deciding on it, I’m suddenly seeing it in every wedding magazine out there! I didn’t want to be trendy and I hope it won’t be dated by next year!).

Style Description

I want us to look back and still love the details of our wedding years from now. The ivory and gold in our color scheme is very timeless to me. Our wedding is a formal ballroom event with a band, and skips a lot of trends like letterpressed invites, cupcake towers, or candy buffets. Of course, the class factor may be tempered slightly by the fact that we'll be running Weezer's Pinkerton album straight through dinner, and offering up a signature beer, but we need some personality in there!

To me, elegant means tasteful, luxurious, refined- basically knowing when there’s too much going on. I’ll be passing on the chains of dripping crystal and shiny rental linens, or gigantic overstuffed floral arrangements. We'll keep things beautiful but restrained. Like these invites, which are both classic and elegant:
I am so in love with these! Too bad they are WAY out of my budget! Source

This is where the sky blue accent comes into play, adding a dreamy, refreshing, and slightly unexpected touch. Our gilded d├ęcor and chairs will be complemented by lush and girly peonies and hydrangeas, as well as warm amber lighting. Something about the image below really captures the refreshing, romantic feel for me:
The original inspiration for our color palette. Source

Our venue is really what brings in the opulence. It’s designed to look like the Palace of Versaille, and it features a beautiful, huge ballroom with 36’ ceilings, a Juliet balcony, and a spiral staircase. Plus, it’s got an over the top feast for a menu- the cocktail hour alone features over 30 passed hors d’ouevres and stations, and a decadent Viennese display for dessert.

I'm loving the opulent gold in this picture of the Palace of Versailles, which our venue was designed after! Source

What words do you want associated with your weddings?

Apr 19, 2011

Engagement Party Invites: Finished Product

So the other day I posted the computer design of my engagement party invites. Here’s how I finished them.

Step 1: Print the invites

You may have a printer at home that prints nicely on cardstock without making you want to throw it out a window. I do not possess such luxuries, so I turned to my local Staples. Honestly, the work there is a little haphazard, but it’s also cheap and easier than fighting my home printer. I set up my file with 2 invites per 8.5 x 11 page, and had Staples cut them down to my 4 x 6 size. They charge by the page and cut.
Personal Pic
Step 2: Mount invites on cardstock

Apr 17, 2011

DIY Engagement Party Invite Design

Mr. B’s parents love to have parties, and they’ve decided to throw one for our engagement. They’re hosting a backyard pool party for us at their house, so it’ll be a pretty relaxed and casual atmosphere (hope FMIL knows relaxed and casual means beer pong!) To reflect this, I decided to design some party invites with a vintage and fun feel. The look was heavily inspired by the menu at Brooklyn Bowl, a great bowling alley/bar in Williamsburg:

My design, after the jump:

Apr 14, 2011

My Hipster Wedding

Most brides choose a theme or color scheme for their wedding and stick with it, and I am no exception.  But just because you’ve chosen navy and white for your casual seaside reception, doesn’t mean you're not occasionally captivated by an elegant engraved invitation suite, or an Old Hollywood venue.

I’m no different. Due to the climate and weather where I live, the dreamy “Style Me Pretty” rustic blog weddings are impossible for me. (Not that those are realistic for any human to execute without copious professional styling).  So we’re having an indoor event, in an elegant and classic ballroom. It suits our style and personalities perfectly.

But if I lived in Southern California, maybe I’d be a little more laid back and casual, and boy would my wedding look totally different! I call my imaginary wedding my “hipster wedding,” since it’s the opposite of the traditional affair we’re having (and therefore, in my mind, hipster-y).  My fake wedding has some great characteristics:

It would definitely take place in a tent. In real life, that's too many vendor coordination headaches for me. But I do I love these late night tent shots, where the world looks distant and cold, except for the warmth coming from the wedding tent.

Besides, look how pretty and fresh a tent wedding looks if you do it in the daytime:
Love it! Source

Apr 10, 2011

Is it just me...

Or does it seem so many stores are suddenly starting online wedding shops? I don't know if I'm just paying attention more now that I got engaged, but it seems like every other day I'm getting email spam from various department stores, introducing their brand new wedding boutiques.

Like Bloomingdale's (who awesomely breaks down weddings into all the related events, from engagement parties to showers, and offers outfit options for all! Though the outfits don't exactly come cheap.)

Apr 7, 2011

Classing Up The Envelopes

My younger brother was recently invited to two weddings, and while the invitations themselves were nice, the envelopes were a mess. One was sloppily handwritten in ballpoint (!!) pen, and the other was done in those semi-transparent computer labels, with mismatching fonts on the return address and guest address labels.  I realize lots of brides just don’t care about this, since the envelope usually gets tossed, but  I believe that for all the thought we put into invites, the envelopes should be a consideration as well- it’s the first thing people see when they get the invites!  My mom didn't care, but I was honestly scandalized when I saw them.

Doing guests’ addresses can be a pain, I get that. But at the very least, your return address can be nicer. Lots of companies and calligraphers offer custom return address stamps, so you can just stamp and emboss your address on envelopes. It’s perfect, as you can have a unifying, cohesive element on all envelopes from your STDs to your thank yous. It looks so good, there’s almost no excuse not to use it! (No, no one is paying me to promote this idea, even though I sound like it!)

I ordered a stamp from Etsy seller “Foryoo.” It shipped quickly, and I’m really happy with the final product. Plus, it was only $20. To me, not a lot to spend to make all my paper goods look a little better! (although when you factor in embossing supplies, if you don’t own them already, you can plan on spending another $25). (Still worth it to me!)

Here’s my stamp:

Personal photo with address not so covertly hidden by tissue paper

And here’s what it looked like on the back of an envelope. It would obviously look MUCH better if I didn’t  have to block out my address and last name! Kinda looks now like I don’t know how to emboss properly! Swear it looks awesome in person

And to give you a better idea, a pic from Etsy, in a different style font:

Inexpensive way to add a little something extra to all the paper goods. Now I am just hoping we get a random engagement gift so I can put it to use on my thank yous!

Apr 6, 2011

Everyone Else's Involvement

When it comes to wedding planning, it seems like there are so many people that can be involved, from well-meaning friends, to relatives, to parents. Everyone’s experience seems to be different, some have completely overbearing parents, some do it all themselves. In my situation, Mr. B’s parents, and mine as well, have definitely seemed to be staying obviously hands-off,  providing their input only when asked for. But lately I’ve been wondering if I should be including them more.

My concern was compounded when I saw this Dear Abby article:

Apr 4, 2011

Say No to the Dress

Or, another  post with a bad pun for a title.

This past Friday, my mom and I went to Kleinfeld’s in NYC to continue the dress shopping search. I didn’t think I’d find a gown there, but I hoped the pro consultants could help me at least settle on a silhouette.  

Well, instead of solving my problem, they enhanced it, finding yet another awesome dress, in yet another completely different shape, and now I'm torn between even more dresses!