May 30, 2012

Shower Gift Idea

Now that my friend Jenn's shower is over with, I can share with you guys the awesome gift that us bridesmaids gave her, because you might seriously want to copy it.

Jenn is not always much of a "stuff" person, so instead of getting her a registry gift, we opted for a more out of the box option: a date for each month of the year.

Basically, we each chose a few months of the year and purchased gift cards, tickets, and other related items that would allow the bride and groom to go on a date. We packaged everything in envelopes, one for each month, and stacked them in a pretty box from Target.

I took June, July, and August, and decorated my envelopes with scrapbook stickers:

For June, I got them a gift certificate to a winery in our state, and arranged it on colored cardstock to make it a little less boring looking. I wrote a little poem to explain what the date was:

For July, I got a gift certificate to the spa at their honeymoon resort. I included the menu of spa options and treatments.

For August, the date idea was "Jersey Shore." I got her a book to read on the beach (she loves reading), and a gift card for her favorite boardwalk lunch spot.

Other month's dates were as follows (most of these gifts are based around New York City, since we're all local):

September:   Mets tickets
October:       Gift certificate to apple picking orchard
November:   Central Park zoo tickets
December:   Mr. and Mrs. Ornament, trip to Union Square holiday bazaar and gift card to a fancy Union Square restaurant.
January:       Chelsea Piers gift cards 
February:     Valentine's Day "Stay in and cook" date- cookbook, candles, Whole Foods gift card
March:         Movie gift cards
April:            Walking tour of New York City
May:            Chili's gift card (I'll never know why, but she loves Chili's)

Other ideas we threw around included a couples' dance class, a horror movie Halloween (stack of cheesey movies + blanket), and an ice skating rink gift card (which the Chelsea Piers thing kind of covers).

She loved the gift and I think her fiance appreciated that it was for him as well.

This idea originally came from the blog Find Joy In the Journey, which I found via Pinterest. Check that link out, she has much better pictures and lots of other ideas!

What's your favorite shower gift that you've given?

May 29, 2012

Program DIY, Part 2

So last week I showed you guys the inside of the programs, and recently my mom, FMIL, and MOH came over to help me complete them, an easy but time consuming task, made a lot more fun by their company.

I had designed and printed the covers a few months prior at, where else, my beloved Cards and Pockets. I had 6 x 12 inch booklets made and scored so I could fold them into 6 x 6 inch booklets. I printed them on the Opal Stardream cardstock I've used for all my wedding tasks so far, and designed a fairly simple cover:

Just our names, wedding date, and wedding location.

A heads up if you go this route, it's not exactly budget friendly. 225 covers cost me $186, and that is before the cost of resume paper, embellishments, and tools used.

To keep up with our lace and pearls theme, I purchased a beautiful lace from MJ Trim here in New York City. Unfortunately, there was no name or style  number printed on it, but here's what it looked like:

Yes that's right, I set out a Christmas tablecloth in July...didn't want to wreck my mom's table with glue!

I cut 225 strips that were about 6 and 1/4 inches- I wanted the lace to be longer than the program.

We formed an assembly line. My mom attached the covers and the insides using a long reach stapler, which I think is a great way to make booklets. The long reach stapler allows you to set the size so that you can staple papers up to 12 inches long, rather than using a conventional stapler, which wouldn't have reached the binding.

After stapling, she handed the programs off to the rest of us, who used Mod Podge and paintbrushes to apply the lace. We applied it to the front cover and folded it over the spine to hide the staples and leave a border near the spine on the back cover.

Since the lace strips were longer than the program, once the glue dried we just cut the extra edges off, which gave us a nice straight cut. That way, you don't have to worry about cutting the lace straight at the beginning.

The finished product (also displayed on a heinous tablecloth, sorry!)

I'm very pleased with how they came out. They're definitely of a more formal and less trend-forward rustic look, and they were a heck of a lot of work, but I'm glad we did them.

If you're going to attempt a similar project my only advice would be to literally start four months in advance. By the time I got all our text together (and verified by our officiants), designed everything in Word, and ordered sample programs, it was already mid April, and I'd started the project in January.

What are you doing for programs?

May 22, 2012

The Ambush

On Cinco de Mayo, I was sitting on my couch with Mr. B, reading and thinking how strange it was that we had no wedding tasks planned for the day, when I heard a knock at our apartment door.

Since I live in a small building that you have to be buzzed in to, I pretty much expect a knife wielding killer anytime I hear an unexpected knock. Luckily, instead of a killer, the surprise guests were my MOH and BM Kelly, who ambushed the apartment with overnight bags, a videocamera, and lots of excitement.

My MOH immediately set to plugging in her iPhone our speakers, and told me I had a half hour to pack before I was being whisked away for my bachelorette party!!  The girls helped me toss 87 thousand different outfit and shoe combos into my overnight bag, and before I knew it, we were in a taxi headed to the Westin Times Square.

At the hotel, I was greeted by the rest of my bridal party, some cousins and friends. There were snacks set up (on zebra print plates), a bottle of Jack Daniels (my fave), and great decorations everywhere.
The girls handed me a few bags of bachelorette swag: a Lolita wine glass, a gigantic pink plastic "Bride" pimp cup, a crown, a veil, wedding day underwear, and a necklace, and immediately began fixing me a Jack and Coke in my pimp cup.

We got ready together, which was an awesome flashback to college, listening to MOH's amazing playlist (seriously, I am pretty sure she got every one of my favorite songs on there) and then headed in a huge Escalade  to a little unmarked East Village restaurant called In Vino. It was the perfect restaurant- delicious food, a Tuscan-cave like atmosphere, and regularly refilled glasses of wine. We feasted on a variety of appetizers, pasta, and dessert.

Posing in front of our gigantic Escalade cab

 At dinner

Then, we took a cab over to a top secret location for the best part of the night: karaoke!! I am not sure there is a human being that loves karaoke more than I do. The night was a blur of sake shots, more Jack Daniels, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, dance parties in a private room, and sake bombs in my pimp cup.  (Please prepare yourself for a LOT of pictures).

Everyone at karaoke

With my cousins- one is a BM and the other is reading at our ceremony

My best friends and roommates from college

BM Laura doing Faded, our favorite song

Lots of singing

After karaoke, my cousin Rebecca got us into some trendy Meatpacking District club called Gun Bar. She lives around there and apparently knows the bouncers. We managed to not spend a dime in the club, getting in free, getting free champagne, and getting handed free drinks from friendly nearby strangers sharing their bottle service. I may or may not have taken shots of vodka straight from their bottle. The club was fun and music good, although my scene is usually more of a grubby 30-beers-on-tap type of place.

At the club
 We broke for the night and BMs Kelly, Kait, and my MOH and I crashed back at the hotel room, where we stayed up chatting for a while. The next morning, we had a bridesmaids' brunch at our hotel, and then went back to our own homes, to crash and nap (or in my case, watch a billion hours of Real Housewives of NJ.)

My bachelorette was a perfect combination of my favorite things, and it was exactly what I would have imagined.  The older we get, the harder it is to have crazy nights out with my girlfriends, and I was so happy to be able to have this night. I really appreciated the surprise factor and all the planning the girls did. It was awesome!!

What did you do for your bachelorette?
Hailing cabs back

May 17, 2012

A Blogworthy Shower Recap

This past weekend was my best friend and MOH Jenn's shower, which I thought I'd post here because her future in laws did a beautiful job on it, constructing a shower that really looked like it walked off the pages of Style Me Pretty.

Unfortunately, as I was a busy bridesmaid, I don't have a ton of pictures, but I'll do my best.

The event was held in a family member's beautiful, huge backyard. They set a big tent up next to the pool, with round tables covered in pink linens. The centerpieces were linen wrapped mason jars with paper flowers:
They look good here, but looked so much better in context outdoors!

Her FI's mom just happened to have a huge collection of mismatched yet coordinated vintage linens, which she used as napkins. Pink linens provided a nice backdrop:

On the deck, a drink table was set up with the ubiquitous notes to the bride, a specialty cocktail of gin and tonic with elderflower liquor (the bride's favorite), fresh squeezed lemonade, and a variety of appetizers. The table was accessorized by a bunting banner made of scrapbook paper that matched the linen napkins.

Food was simple sandwiches, pasta salads, and roasted vegetables, but dessert included amazing carrot cake cupcakes decorated with fondant that matched the paper flowers:

 And my favorite was the favors! The groom's aunt paints watercolors, so she took a few of her paintings of dresses, shoes, and other girly things and made a set of six notecards for each guest. These were wrapped in various mismatched yet coordinated linens, with sheer ribbon and a little flowered heart:

The day was great and the bride loved everything- and we thank God, we had AMAZING weather. It was awesome to see a very bloggy shower in real life.

Have any of you attended any showers you really liked?

May 16, 2012

DIY Programs: The Inside

It's been a while since a DIY post, so today I'm going to share how I made our programs, in case anyone out there wants to copy a somewhat complicated, but very pretty, project.

I immersed myself in loads of inspiration photos, and ultimately decided I wanted a 6 x 6 square booklet, with lace details.

I started with the insides of the program, brainstorming content and page size. Based on our program cover size of 6x6, I wanted the inside pages to be 5.5 x 5.5 when folded, to leave a margin. That meant the two page spread would be 5.5 tall x 11 inches wide on the computer screen. I planned to print these at home on 8.5 x 11 paper, so I knew I would need to leave a large bottom margin that I would later cut off.

So I opened a Microsoft Word document, set my page to landscape, and set my margins to .3 on the left and right, .4 on top, and 2.5 on the bottom. I formatted the page to have two columns.

I wanted four pages in the program:
1. Order of ceremony
2. Wedding participants
3. Explanation of traditions (we are interfaith, so the explanation helps if anyone's unfamiliar with something)
4. Thanks/In remembrance

I scribbled a little mini booklet on a piece of paper and folded it to see where everything needed to lay when printed in order to fold correctly, and came up with this order.

Printing these was a breeze. I wanted to print double sided, so Mr. B loaded his printer up, printed 225 copies of the first page, turned everything upside down and backwards (you may want to do a few test prints to see how your printer works), and reprinted the with page 2 on the back. We used resume paper, as it is not see through, and gives the programs a nice heft.

Then, we had to cut off the extra big margin on the bottom. That took a cutting board, razor, and a little bit of time. (And a Sam Adams to keep from boredom).

When it was done, I used a bone folder to fold the programs in half, and we wound up with the finished insides: 

Open inside spread

Back page- thanking our parents and remembering deceased grandparents

When they were done, I stacked them up and placed one of my heaviest shower gifts on top of them to keep them nice and flat.

I plan to be assemble these this weekend, and will post the finished product then!

May 15, 2012

Cautionary Tale

Weddings are important for a lot of people involved- parents, grandparents, siblings- not just the bride and groom, and it's easy to feel pressured to make everyone feel happy and involved.

I ran into this situation with wedding dress shopping. My mother very much wanted that to be a mother/daughter only experience, but Mr. B's mom also really wanted to be involved. Both women felt strongly, and I was feeling the pressure on both sides. I was also nervous because Mr. B's mom has a little bit of a blabbing habit at times.
FMIL B eventually wore us down though, and we brought her along for a trip.

A mistake, as not even two hours after returning from the store, she described the entire experience to Mr. B and his dad, detailing a contender dress' price, veil, and beaded sash.

So I decided not to involve her again. I didn't even tell her when we found, and bought, my real dress.

But when it came in, she started asking to come to fittings, which I ignored until she eventually came to me in tears, saying that she felt like I didn't want her to see the dress. I should have been strong and honest and explained I wanted it to be a surprise, but instead, I caved, and invited her to the next fitting.

She came, and swore up and down she wouldn't say anything to anyone, and it seemed fine. My mother even admitted we were probably causing more bad feelings by being so secretive. Everything seemed okay.
Till this weekend, when I was driving back from dinner with Mr. B and his parents. His mom's friend had gotten a dress for the wedding that was ivory and shared some similarities to my dress*, and Mr. B's mom told me the story and all about this girl's dress, saying, "You'd be so proud of me, I didn't tell her anything! Even though the dress is the same color as yours! And even though it has this detail that's similar to yours!" etc, etc. All while Mr. B sat in the back of the car, listening to everything.

In one fell swoop of a stupid, pointless, not even remotely interesting story, she blew it all. Mr. B coughed loudly in the back, reminding her that he was in the car, and she stopped dead and said, "Oh my gosh" realizing what she had just done.

Everyone started yelling at her and she kept apologizing. It was a supremely awkward, tense car ride. She felt really bad, I could tell, and kept apologizing repeatedly.

I do know it was an accident, but that's exactly the kind of thing I expected from her, and the reason I hesitated on involving her. I'm really upset that some of my dress may be given away to Mr. B, and I feel upset that I ruined a mother-daughter thing my mom wanted.

I mentioned before how I got suckered into inviting a close friend's ex to my wedding, and just like that situation, I really regret not just standing up for myself. I felt strongly about not wanting her involved, but I was afraid to offend his family and afraid to look like a Bridezilla, especially since I knew I had been very Type A, possibly slightly bossy, on a lot of details so far. But you know what? We're getting married and I'm not going anywhere. It would have been okay to stand up for myself, and if she got upset about it, too bad.

I'm not writing this to complain about FMIL B, I'm just writing this to warn other brides that if you feel strongly, don't worry about what someone else thinks. YBe true to yourself and don't worry about offending or annoying people, because you inevitably will anyway.

*What the F$#%?!

May 9, 2012

Still Surreal

Our wedding is less than thirty days away, but it doesn't feel real. I've spent our entire engagement planning, and it's always been so far in the future that now, even though it's very close, it still feels like a far-off, distant event.

Our RSVPs in, our final meetings with vendors happened, we even applied for our marriage license. I pick up my dress soon, and we're starting table numbers. But none of these items are triggering a "holy-crap-it's-almost-June" freakout.

We're on track really in terms of DIY projects, and things seem to be going smoothly, so I'm not feeling much of a last minute crunch.

Is this normal? Why is it not sinking in that we're really, really close?  I'm started to get nervous that the reality of it will hit me at a really inconvenient time, like say the morning of the wedding, and I'll be temporarily incapacitated with a bad panic attack.

Anyone else feel like this? It's weirding me out!!

May 7, 2012

Groomsmen Gifts

Like everything guys do, choosing groomsmen gifts was a project that took about four seconds of Mr. B's time.
He ordered monogrammed beer mugs from the Pottery Barn.

They're a pretty solid groomsmen gift, after all what guy doesn't like to drink beer? These ones in particular are a nice heavy weight, and the monogram is a nice, deep engraving. I know the boys will love it.
I also wanted to highlight one other cool groomsmen gift idea, something I bought for Mr. B and his brother. Etsy seller HandySam makes really cool, well-designed wall mount bottle openers:

(Personal Pic)
You pop the top off your beer and the cap goes into the cool vintage can, and to empty, you can just twist the can upside down. So cool!

Closeup of the opener

The seller was unbelievably fast (I got these three days after ordering them), and also offered me a discount (full disclosure, I asked for one. I always ask if I'm buying multiples of an item. I've never been denied).

Combine these with some cigars or a nice bottle of liquor (or just do them by themselves) and I think you have a very nice groomsmen gift!

What did your guy do for his groomsmen?

May 3, 2012

Gifts for the Girls, Part 2

A little while back, I brainstormed lots of bridesmaid gift ideas

Then I forgot about it for a while.

Then I realized my wedding is really soon, and I didn't have time to waste.

I started with the monogrammed robes, one for each girl. They were a bright aqua with white monogramming; I got one for myself as well, in the reverse color scheme.

They came from Etsy seller Oak Embroidery Loft, who I have to highly recommend. Holly was very sweet, responsive, and prompt, and even gave me a discount for ordering six (I think they wound up being like $20 each). The robes are a medium weight waffle knit cotton.

I also purchased matching Old Navy flip flops.

In keeping with the personalized theme, I also purchased monogrammed acrylic trays. The idea came from The Peak of Tres Chic, an interior design blog I like to read, and I scoured Etsy to find a cheaper alternative.

I found seller Lime Tree Gifts, who also was super sweet, prompt, and also gave me a bulk discount ($17 each), and ordered five engraved acrylic trays:

I was obsessed with these- I'm ordering five more as gifts for our readers and moms, and myself!

I'm using them to hold the bridesmaid's "Survival Kit," which contains:
  • Shout wipes
  • Tissues
  • Cute heart shaped shoe cushions for painful high heels
  • Mini hair spray
  • Makeup remover wipes
  • Fashion tape
My mom packaged up the survival kits for me with cellophane and aqua ribbon:

And then we combined that with the robes and flip flops, into a bigger version:

(We'll be adding a nice bow to it)

I will be making and handwriting thank you cards to each girl (I am so nervous to do that, I sometimes have a hard time putting sentimental things out there), and I am also paying for their hair.

So what do you think? Nice gift?  I keep feeling like it's not enough!

May 1, 2012

Shower Recap

Well, considering it happened over a month ago, I think it's time to recap my bridal shower! Bear with me, this is a long and pic-heavy post! 

I'll start with the invites, which my mom picked out and I LOVE. The leopard print and the super high heel are so me:

"Wild Time" invites, available at

I have to admit I wasn't 100% surprised at the shower, but I was very excited, as indicated by my face walking in (terrible quality pic, I'm sorry):

I was also really nervous with all the attention being on me. I wasn't sure who to approach first or what to do, and I think I clutched my maid of honor's hand for the first twenty minutes!

My mom, who planned the shower, chose to have the shower at my favorite local Italian restaurant, which was the best decision.  The place has delicious food and a great casual elegant atmosphere. 

There was no theme exactly, but my mom and my cousin Pam decorated the tables in lots of white, bling, and pearls. I thought they looked beautiful:

You probably can't tell in this picture, but the hydrangea centerpiece has a gigantic pearl cluster tied around the vase- awesome!!

My table was lined with these awesome centerpieces- tall, top heavy vases filled with huge pearls and rhinestones. The tables had little wedding bell confetti, big fake engagement rings, and bottle openers that looked like silver high heels (which I kept and now use to open my Flying Fish).  Mom and Pam did an amazing job on the decor.

Me with Pam, 1/2 of the team behind the decor

My mom gave a lovely and tearjerking speech at the beginning, and my maid of honor surprised me by following suit. Then we went right into lunch, a three course meal of mozzarella and tomatoes, salad, and a choice of chicken, salmon, veal, or pasta.

During the meal, my bridesmaids went around with a few noncheesy games- guests had to guess how many ring pops were in a jar, and also had to fill out a ten question "B&T" trivia sheet. The winner was Brad's ten year old cousin Toni Ann, who called Brad during the shower to ask him all the questions!

Me with my bridesmaids, and Toni Ann, the winner (and my junior BM).

BM Kelly also made "Advice for the Bride" cards, which is something I had always wanted at my shower.  I loved reading what people wrote, my favorite piece of advice being good old Toni Ann's:

It's probably important that you know Mr. B is crazy skinny and not a big eater!

Some guests at the shower

With some of my girlfriends, M and  H. I am a bridesmaid in H's wedding next July!

And here I am with some of my lovely cousins (are you getting bored of these pictures yet?)

After lunch, it was time for gifts! I was astonished at the humongous pile on the table:

This picture is like, only a third of them!

I have to admit but I was a little uncomfortable opening gifts, I kept getting yelled at to talk louder and I felt weird screaming out what I got. But I was amazed at how generous people were. We received so many great gifts off of our registry, including nineteen place settings of china (can you believe that?) My dad was less excited, since "Mount Lenox" is now taking up an entire room in his basement!

The girls did the "timer" game, where a timer went off every few minutes and the person whose gift I was opening got a prize. I think it was a good way to keep the guests entertained.

Mr. B's brother's girlfriend also made me a beautiful wishing well. Unfortunately the only picture I have of it is sort of crappy, but it was really amazing, covered in white lace and flowers and pearls. She is a crafting genius. (Also, wishing wells are so awesome- I loved all the cute stuff I got, like crazy printed rubber gloves and a diamond studded apron!)

My bridesmaids chipped in for my Kitchen Aid mixer, and some of them also made me some beautiful baskets. BMs Kelly and Laura, and my MOH made me a holiday gift basket, filled with all decorative goodies for holidays, and BM Kaitlyn made me a honeymoon basket, and a wine basket, which was so thoughtful. Each bottle had a note on when I was supposed to drink it (wedding night, first fight, etc) and I have to admit I totally teared up reading all of them.

After gifts, we had a Napoleon cake, which was unbelievably delicious:

And then Mr. B showed up:

And brought me flowers, which capped off a very lovely day!

My shower was perfect- great friends and family, generosity, my favorite restaurant and favorite things. It was really a wonderful afternoon and my mom and bridesmaids did an amazing job on everything.

And then it made me realize just how close we are to the wedding!