Here Comes the Flood

Let the evolution of our Save the Dates begin!  It all started with a little inspiration.
Image via DC NearlyWeds
The moment I saw this photo I thought it would be perfection for our wedding.  The couple took the picture in front of their wedding location (Outer Banks I think).  It is carefree and fun.  I think it gives off a definite destination wedding feel.  I toyed around with some other ideas too. 
Image via ShutterFly
I thought this was cute and simple.  I liked that it was a postcard and I was determined to have a postcard for our STD (teehee) as well.  First and foremost postcard postage is cheaper and I am nothing if not frugal.  Also everyone says that the STD is the guests first glimpse at the wedding and I think a postcard sets the right first glimpse of our semi-destination wedding.

Now it is just time to put the plan in motion.  We headed up to Cape May exactly one year before our wedding (so adorable, I know!).  The weather was fabulous and we set off to take pictures for the front our of our STD postcard.  We were not without help though and enlisted the Sammie sisters as camera women and Mama CS as shoot director.

Some were bad:

Some were good but not the right 'feel':

And one was perfect!  Please meet the front our Save the Date:
The Front....

..... And the back
We ordered them from and it was easy peasy.  Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to add the line to separate the text and the address so I manually drew it in.  When the postcards arrived they were not quite right :(  Not to worry, craft supplies to the rescue.  I used the paper cutter to trim the extra.

Good to go
Mr. CS worked tirelessly on hand addressing and manually drawing lines.  He is so crafty.
Can you spot all of the spoiled puppies toys in the background?
After working at lightening speed, we were finally finished!  Overall from photo shoot to mailbox, the STD process took just 14 short weeks.  Like I said, lightening speed.  But it was worth it!
Our friendly neighborhood post office
Did any of your projects take longer than expected given its lack of complication level?

Here Comes the Flood

Success!  The Save the Dates are in the mail.  Hopefully by tomorrow everyone will have received theirs and I can share the finished product.  
Goodbye my babies
The LemonPuppy approves
*all photos by me

Sweet Surrender

Since our venue is over budget (but totally worth it), we have been trying to come up with ways to cut costs in other areas.  There are a couple of DIY projects that I am working on that will hopefully save some money but not my sanity.  Another way we are trying to save is by coming up with cost saving solutions with our vendors. 

One of our last vendors we booked was the florist.  I have been researching my little blogger butt off and I think our estimated budget is going to be too low.  Uh oh, not good.  I am have been looking at ways to save money on flowers and I think a big money suck comes from the bridesmaids bouquets and boutonnieres.  My first big idea was to have just one flower for the bouquets.
Image and floral design via GrandiFlora
I don't think even single flower bouquets could save our flower budget.  My next plan either makes me a wedding genius or a wedding failure.....Baby's Breathe!  I believe it is inexpensive and it actually looks really nice.
Image via Bouquet Bridal/ Photo by You Look Nice Today
Image via Bouquet Bridal/ Photo from Real Simple
It depends on the caliber of the florist but I think they could look really great or really tacky.  I need some more opinions though.  Do the bouquets look like little clouds of heaven or cheap filler flower from the 90's?!  Help!
Image via Bouquet Bridal/ Photo from Sedona Bride
Image via Bouquet Bridal/ Photo by James Bass
I can't decide.  But while researching I found I am by no means the first bee to have this idea: Buttons, D'orsay Strawberry, Joey, Powder Puff.  I guess I will be in good company!

What Have I Done to Deserve This

Our first wedding fail!  We sent our save the dates this weekend (which I can't wait to share!) and they started arriving to the lucky guests last night.  As almost all STD's do, ours had directions to our website for more information.  This morning I go to check on our website and find this: 
Cue sad trombone sound effect... wha, wha, wha.  What happened to all of our beautiful formating?  Our carefully chosen color scheme?  Now it looks like a website you made when you were in 8th grade.  Damn you, WeddingWire!  Of course they choose the one day to go down when all of our guests could be potentially looking at our website.  I am confident though that everyone rushed to their computer last night as soon as they got their STD's.

I can't even show you what our wedding website is supposed to look like because it is still not up and running again.  Hopefully this is not the way that all of our wedding plans will go.  Maybe this will be our first and only hiccup in the planning process.  A girl can dream.  

It is what it is.

Thank you Jesus!  The website came back up and here is what it supposed to look like:
Beautiful!  That box up top contains our names and wedding date.
 Hopefully I didn't use my only miracle of the week and we still get a day off school tomorrow.

There She Goes.....

There she goes again!  She couldn't hide her true form for long and the Lemon Puppy is back.  One tiny stomach rash and $400 later we are back from the vet, her home away from home.
Getting Excited for the Visit!
We scheduled an appointment for her to see the vet because 1. it had been awhile and 2. she had a little irritation on her stomach we wanted someone to look at.
Licking her lips in anticipation
Her favorite room
Less than 20 minutes later we find out she had eczema and a parasite.  Wonderful!  I don't even want to count how many medications she is on.... so I will just show you instead:
Never Ending!

*all personal photos*

Where the Wild Things Are (Part 2)

When we left off Mr. CS was fading fast and couldn't believe we had two more venues to visit that day.  With the help of a little seaside fudge and the promise of an adult beverage, Mr. CS trudged on.  He is such a trooper.  Our next stop was the Hotel Alcott.
Hotel Alcott (Image via  Cape May Times)
This was a beautiful venue and perfect for our price range.  They were super accommodating and almost every upgrade you could want for a wedding was included in the package. Chiavari chairs, you got it!  Table overlays, of course they are included.  Had our hearts not been set on Congress Hall, this would have been a perfectly adequate place to have our wedding.  There were a couple of downsides though but no venue is without fault (except Congress Hall!).  Hotel Alcott didn't really have a place to have the ceremony if we decided we wanted to have it on site instead of at the beach.  They did have a courtyard which was as tiny as it was cute.  Also the ballroom seemed a little small even for our small-ish wedding. 
Image via Ray and Bri wedding website
The courtyard (Image via TripAdvisor)
After our visit to the Hotel Alcott, we carried on to Congress Hall.  To say our visit was glorious would be an understatement.  Krista, the event planner, was a dream.  She immediately gave us a heartfelt congratulations on our engagement and asked to hear the story.  Mr. CS was thrilled because those customer service aspects are very important and telling to him.  Enough hearing about my venue/Krista crush, bring on the pictures!
The garden cocktail and possible ceremony area
Sister Sammie and Co-MOH
Beautiful Ballroom
Look at those Tiffany Blue walls
I heart the checkered floor
 I H.E.A.R.T. you Congress Hall.  There was one more venue to go though.  Our quest was not over yet.  The final day led us to the Southern Mansion. 
Image via Southern Mansion
This was by far one of the more beautiful wedding venues.  It has exquisite gardens and would have needed very little decor.  The tables would all be set up on the wrap-around porch but the porch is only wide enough for one table at a time which might make it hard for guests to mingle.  We wanted mingle-age.
Image via Southern Mansion
Sadly the dance floor was down a flight of stairs and in the basement.  This would make it impossible for any of  our ADA guests.  Deal breakers :(  It was beautiful though.
Image via Southern Mansion
Back to the ferry we went to compare notes and decide.  It was kind of a one sided debate but I like to let Mr. CS think he has options.

Did your fiance need convincing on what your perfect wedding location would be?  How much do you love Congress Hall!?!?

*personal photos unless noted

Where the Wild Things Are

Let me just start out by saying that I love, love, love our venue.  Almost as much as I love Mr. CS.  It is perfect in absolutely every way.  Some brides dream of their dress or their flowers, I dream about our venue. 

Our wedding venue is Congress Hall Hotel.  Warning: going to their website will inevitably cause venue envy.  I have mentioned before that the CS family used to spend our summers down in Cape May.  Prior to investing in a house, we used to stay at the Congress Hall Hotel.  This was way before the renovation and rooms could be rented for $500 for a month.  For about 4 years during my childhood I spent my summer at my wedding venue.  Congress Hall is not only gorgeous but it seemed like just the right notes of sentimentality too.

Even though having the wedding at Congress Hall was a no brainer for me, Mr. CS needed a little convincing.  He wanted to take a little spin around Cape May to see what else was out there just to be sure.  After making appointments with all the possible venues in Cape May that fell in our size and budget, we had 5 places to visit!  I said “only 5?!”, Mr.CS said “we have to go to 5 places?!?’.  Clearly I was way more excited about the venue search than he was.

We started our venture with a lovely ride on the Lewes/Cape May Ferry with the pickle puppy.  Cape May is a 2 hour car ride with a 2 hour ride on the ferry from our hometown of DC.

Gratuitous puppy photos!

 After the lovely ferry ride our first appointment was with the Grand Hotel.  The hotel was nice but there was really nothing special about it.  We were a little early to our appointment so we wandered around the lobby for a minute.  We found the 'cocktail hour' space which was right next to the indoor pool.  I am sure you can imagine how that smelled.  They pretty much lost us after that but the real kicker was the menu.  Our options for starters were 'soup' or salad'.  They didn't try to make them sound fancy or anything.  Appointment over.
Grand Hotel (Image via Cape May Times)
Grand Ballroom (Image via Cape May Times)
The next hour brought us to the Chalfonte Hotel.  This hotel was really beautiful with a great wrap-around porch where I can picture our guests lounging during cocktail hour.
The Chalfonte (Image via The Chalfonte/Artwork by Marie Natale)
Image via The Chalfonte
The price was good and it definitely had that Cape May/beach feeling we were after.  The Chalfonte didn't have a lot of parking and the bathrooms were not handicap accessible (they might have been the original bathrooms from when it was built... not good).  The ballroom was a very interesting oblong shape which was unique but left little space for the dance floor.  Finally the outdoor space for the ceremony was minimal since most people get married on the beach.  So our options for the ceremony were the beach or the beach.  I don't like those odds.
Ballroom at the Chalfonte (source)
Mr. CS was starting to get frustrated and we braked for lunch.  I couldn't believe he was ready to throw in the towel after only 2 venues but I guess that is what I get when I tried to 'overwhelm' my groom with options. 

Coming up... more venue visits and convincing Mr. CS that Congress Hall was the one.

Did your fiance get 'overwhelmed' at the beginning of the wedding process?  Did you laugh at him and try to tell him how much further you had to go?

101 things in 1,001 days!

This year instead of making a New Year’s Resolution I decided to take part in the 101 in 1001 challenge.  Basically it is a list of 101 things I want to accomplish in the next 1,001 days.  Having a 1,001 days is nice because it is a over two years so I don’t have to feel pressured to get it all done in a year.  As you can tell since it is already 18 days into the New Year it has taken me a while to complete my list.  I tried to think of things that I wanted to accomplish but that could be done in less than 1,001 days.  There are tons of things I left off the list like going to Australia, having season tickets to the Redskins and redo the kitchen which I don’t think will happen in 2.75 years.  

I ‘borrowed’ this idea from Claremont Road who borrowed it from someone else.  You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Here is the logistics on the project:

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.
The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).
Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.
Start Date: January 1, 2011
End Date: September 28, 2013
Bold/italicized – Completed Item
Strikethrough – Replaced Item (see end of post for replacements)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Get Artsy
  1. Learn to use the Cricut
  2. Make a painting for the house
  3. Print the pictures for the family photo wall and hang them
  4. Create wedding albums and scrapbook (after the wedding of course)
  5. Make a quilt
  6. Create Blurb album of blog posts
Get Cultured
  1. Read 5 non-fiction books
  2. Read 10 books of my own choosing
  3. Organize or participate in a book group
  4. Watch all of AFI’s top 100 movies (2007 list)
  5. Go to the ballet
  6. Go to a play in Washington, DC
  7. Attend a live music performance of someone I don’t know who is not famous
  8. See a Tony Award winning musical on Broadway
  9. Attend a live taping of a television show
  10. Attend a concert of someone famous whom I’ve never seen before
Get Deep
  1. Go to a movie alone
  2. Identify 100 things that make me happy
  3. Identify 25 things I like about myself
  4. Identify 25 things I am good at
Get Domestic
  1. Take a cooking class
  2. Make home made ice cream
  3. Host a game night
  4. Help cook for a holiday
  5. Decorate a cake (or cupcakes) for a loved one’s birthday
  6. Try 30 new recipes
  7. Have fresh flowers at home 3 times
Get Geeky
  1. Remake personal blog with modified template
  2. Read 2 counseling books
  3. Take a class for CEU’s
  4. Update resume
  5. Identify career options
Get Healthy
  1. Lose 13 pounds
  2. Run the Marine Corp Marathon
  3. Find a yoga studio and take a class
  4. Drink 8 glasses of water daily for 3 weeks
  5. Try three Netflix/OnDemand fitness routines
  6. Go to the pool 4 times in a month
  7. Brush teeth before bed every day for a month
  8. Eat a fruit/vegetable at lunch every day for a week
  9. Floss every other day for 2 weeks
  10. Develop and maintain skincare routine
  11. Stay up to date on doctors appts for one year
  12. Find a general internist
  13. Get a copy of medical records
Get Organized
  1. Clean and organize mementos in memory chest
  2. Sell wedding items that are no longer needed after wedding
  3. Organize family and friend’s birthdays in one place
  4. Buy/make birthday cards and greeting cards to have on-hand and send
  5. Organize jewelry with a new storage system
  6. Clean tarnished jewelry
  7. De-clutter the attic
  8. Print old pictures and put into albums
  9. Write down recipes on recipe cards
  10. Back up all digital images and music on hard drive
Get Covered
  1. Get AAA membership
  2. Get life insurance
  3. Write a will
Get Rich (or at least get my finances in better order)
  1. Find a financial planner and make an appointment
  2. Have portion of direct deposit automatically entered into savings
  3. Get free credit report — cancel any dormant accounts
  4. Set up better 401K
  5. Transfer old 401K into new one
  6. Create a financial plan with soon to be hubby
  7. Sell old clothes on ebay or store
  8. Put $5 in savings for each completed task and $10 for every uncompleted one
  9. Update payments on student loans
Get Generous
  1. Pay 10 strangers compliments
  2. Purge and donate old clothes from closets at least three times
  3. Start a charity at school
  4. Walk the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
  5. Find a charity to participant/volunteer for 4 times
  6. Send 12 cards or letters for no reason at all
Get Social
  1. Mail Christmas Cards out before Christmas
  2. Make plans with a new friend
  3. Call one faraway friend a week for 6 weeks
  4. Do something with friends once a month
  5. Have a dinner date with Mr.LP at 2 of the Zagats top rated restaurants
  6. Have a double-date with friends once every other month
Get Stuff
  1. Matching bedroom furniture
  2. Sewing machine
Get Adventurous
  1. Go to Chicago or New Orleans
  2. Go to Las Vegas
  3. Take a vacation outside of the US
  4. Take a weekend trip with 'couple' friends
  5. Take a girls only trip
  6. Take a completely impulsive, spur of the moment road trip with Mr. LP
  7. Sisters weekend
Get Settled
  1. Buy art for the dining room
  2. Create a garden
  3. Landscape the front yard
  4. Re-tile the bathroom downstairs and the kitchen
  5. Fix the front porch
  6. Hang map and vacation photos in 2nd bedroom
Get Tailored
  1. Post wedding hair cut/style
  2. Wear hair down 3 times a week for 2 weeks
  3. Don’t repeat outfits to work for 3 weeks
  4. Update wardrobe with quality pieces
Get Sporty
  1. Go to a Redskins game
  2. See Peyton Manning play
  3. Attend a college basketball or football game besides GWU

From a Whisper to a Scream

Last night I had one of many wedding nightmares.  I have had them before but this one was particularly disturbing.
I dreamed I was wearing this (source)
Just kidding.  The wedding nightmare started out like almost any of them.  It was my wedding day and nothing had turned out the way I had envisioned it.  Instead of decorations, there were these styrofoam curly pool noodles going up the aisle.  There was curling ribbon all over (the type used for packages not beautiful satin ribbon).  I was running around trying to tell people that this was not how it was supposed to go at all!  The florist was putting table runners down in shades of neon green.  

At this point in the dream, I thought to myself 'It will be ok, this is just a wedding nightmare'.  I must have said it out loud because someone then replied.  'No it isn't, this is your wedding day.'  At which time I proceeded to hyperventilate.  Never before have I acknowledged in a dream that it was just a dream and then have it rebuffed.  If someone in my dream said it was real then it must be real.

I ran around like a mad woman, giving into the fact that this was indeed my wedding day and it was turning out terribly.  Thankfully I didn't have to hold it together much longer because I soon woke up.  The whole thing was awful!  I am still 9 months away from the wedding and hopefully the dreams will not get worse.