Pour Some Sugar on Me

The 'cookie letters' are in the mail!  What are the 'cookie letters' you might ask?  Excellent question.  Like many brides before me, I am planning on having a Cookie Bar.  In Pittsburgh (and surrounding area) it is a wedding tradition for important women in the life of the bride and groom to bake homemade cookies to be served to the guests as favors.
Yum! (Image via Project Wedding/Photo by Robert Sukrachand Photography
It took me all weekend but I finally wrote the letters to the Sammie aunts and friends asking them if they would be willing to help me with this tradition.  Hopefully they will say yes!  I read somewhere that on average we need 4-6 cookies per person.  That is a whopping 625 cookies!  Ahhh so many.  I have a feeling I might be doing some baking as well.

I am so excited to have a cookie table but I am at a complete loss about how to set it up.  The perfectionist in me is not wild about the platters and platters of cookies.  Something about a sea of cookies rubs me the wrong way (I am sure anyone who has done this made it gorgeous).
Cookie Sensory Overload (Image via PetitChef)
So many cookies! (Image via NYTimes/ Photo by Ross Mantle)
Attack of the cookie (Image and Event Planning by  Great Expectation Events)
And then Martha came along and rocked my world.  Oh Martha.
Le Sigh (Image via  Martha Stewart)
Now I know why people bow down and worship you.  So classy and elegant.  You make mounds of cookies dainty and aesthetically pleasing.  Only Martha.  I was sold.  Cookies in jars, it is!
Getting closer (Image via Grand Rapids Press/Photo by Dave Raczkowski)
There it is! (Image and Event Planning by  Great Expectation Events) 
 (Image and Event Planning by  Great Expectation Events)
My research on those jars has been amateur hour and I can only find them at Crate and Barrel for $12.00.  When I think about the amount of jars I will probably need, $12 is too much.   I can probably purchase the jars with the intent of reselling them and make a small portion of the money back but that does not seem appealing.

Anyone know where to find jars big enough for cookies?  Any tips on carting cookies to Cape May?

Oh, the Guilt

The guest list is becoming one of the most dreaded things about wedding planning for us.  Our venue has a minimum guest count for our wedding day (125 people).  But 125 people is also our maximum because that is all we can afford.  A minimum and a maximum the same number... is it possible?!?!?! 

Image via Wedding Liaison
Oh what a pickle.  Our guest list has turned into an exact science since we need to get precisely 125 guests.  Here is my plan to achieving the supposedly impossible difficult (I don't believe in that word after seeing what the Pickle Puppy is capable of).

1. Only invite 125 guests from Day One
2. Print 2 RSVP cards with 2 different reply by dates
3. Send out second RSVP card with later due date to B-list whenever someone says no. 
4. Repeat step #3 as necessary
5. Co-MOHs are still in college so get no plus one..... unless someone cancels last minute then they are in! (Because those crazy college kids don't care about silly things like the etiquette of a last minute invite)

Steps 2, 3, and 5 are easy peasy but how did we get our guest list to that magic 125?  We split the guest list down the middle and each invited exactly 62.5 people.  I got to invite whoever I wanted and Mr. Cucumber Sammie invited whoever he wanted but it had to be under our 62.5 limit.  There were many discussions, lots of tears, constant temple massaging and a dash of screaming...... by Mr. Cucumber Sammie.  He definitely had the most difficulty with his list.  We eventually reached a stand still and to break out the big guns.
The Flow Chart! Image via BridalBuds/Chart from Brides
My list was hard too but Mama CS was a superstar (again!) and basically did it for me. 

We did have a couple of tricks up our sleeve besides the handy flow chart for helping us narrow down the list.  To decide if someone got a 'plus one' we said No House, No Spouse, No Ring, No Bring.  Lucky were are only a couple of people for which we have to activate the saying.  

We also aren't having any children.  I know, I am like the wicked witch of the west.  My youngest cousin will be in college by the time we get married.  So unfortunately everyone under college age is out.  We are not having a ring bearer or flower girl so it makes it a little less complicated to say no kids.  Although I will miss adorable pictures like this:
So cute!  But not cute enough to be invited (Image via Our Wedding Day/Photo by Lennon Photo)
Do you think it will work or am I crazy?  Any other tips on narrowing down the guest list or helping us achieve exactly 125 people?

Perfect Little Accident

We meet with florists this weekend.  I am waiting on a quote from my favorite florist and I am really anxious about it because I fear it will be way out of our budget.  But I heart her!  While I am waiting, I thought I would fill you in on my other favorite vendor..... our photographer.

So Gorgeous! (source)
We are using Nicole from Girl Photography and she is A-mazing.  She is actually the only photographer we met in person.  Not only does she have delectable photos but she is so nice.  It was important to me to get along with our photographer because I have to hang out with her all day.  I don't think hanging out with Nicole will be a problem, in fact I am looking forward to it!

We found Nicole totally by accident.  We were having a tough time figuring out if we should hire a photographer here in DC or in Southern New Jersey (near Cape May).  We really wanted to have engagement photos taken in DC with the monuments because this is where we have lived for the past 5 years.  But we didn't want to pay someone to travel from Cape May or vice versa for the wedding.  So we compromised and found someone in Philadelphia who will have to travel for both events!
The Philly Bee Meet-Up (source)
One day I was working really hard and on my lunch break I opened up weddingbee.com (ok I was stalking it all day).  Right there in the first post were these gorgeous photographs by Nicole.  I waited until after work/immediately went to her website.  I loved the photos and I knew Mr. LP would love what she said on her blog (he likes to get a 'feeling' about a vendor).  I requested a meeting for a weekend when we would be driving through Philadelphia.  Short story that I have managed to make long, we hired her!  She was perfect and her prices were right in our budget.  We even get an engagement shoot and a second photographer which I thought would only be a dream in our budget.

I think she is awesome and here are some pictures to prove it:
Another one from the Bee meet-up

I hope someone is having this much fun at my wedding!

I love them all!

*source for all photographs Girl Photography

Were any of your vendor decisions easy?  Or did it take lots of meetings?

First Comes Love

The Lemon Puppy has a boyfriend.  LemonPuppy and Payton sitting in a tree.  K-I-S-S-I-N-G.  

The day before Valentine's Day something special arrived on my doorstep... but not for me.
Name covered to protect the Lemon
What could it be.... what could it be??  The only one who ever sends LemonPuppy anything is MamaLP (who is way too nice to the Lemon) and it wasn't in her handwriting so I was thoroughly confused.  I waited to for the Lemon to get home so she could open it herself (what?!? perhaps we spoil her and treat her too much like a person).

So Exciting!

Somebody loves you

What could it be?
Pink toys from her boyfriend
First come loves, then comes marriage, then comes a puppy in the puppy carriage.  The LemonPuppy got a valentine's gift from her boyfriend (lucky b*tch).  It was so thoughtful of Payton (and more importantly his mommy).
There was even a card
Is it weird that we are pretending she can read?
Yay!  The LemonPuppy was completely entertained which was the real present for Mr. LP and I.  And then as soon as it started, it was over.  :(  The Lemon showed her true colors and destroyed the toys.  Hopefully Payton never finds out about the way she treats his gifts. 

To Payton: Thank you Pookie Bear. Love: The LemonPuppy xoxox

Now or Never

The quest for the dress is almost finished!  Thanks for hanging in there, trust me this has been exhausting for me too.  Unfortunately your patience will not be rewarded.
I make Mr. LP read every blog post.  Sometimes I even quiz him on it just to make sure he memorized every word.  Unfortunately that means I will not be showing my dress.  Not even the designer/style number.  See Mr. LP likes to say that I am nosy but really I learned it from him. 

Since there are no pictures of the dress or any description, we are going to breeze through this part real quick.  After RotBrides  we took some time off of the dress search to regroup.  In my mind, the dress at La Bella Moda was always the one to beat but Mama CS required some warming up to it.  Finally, one day as if she had an epiphany she says to me "You know, I really like that one dress you tried on." Hallelujah.  So appointments were made for when I came home for Thanksgiving.

We also made an appointment at a bridal store in Philadelphia.  I can't even remember the name of the second store that we had an appointment at and that is ok because it wasn't that great.  The store is filled with sample gowns at a discounted price and the woman who owns it is supposed to be like the dress whisperer.  Apparently she can find anyone their perfect dress.  Obviously that is false advertising because she didn't find mine.  

I know I said we were going to breeze through this and three paragraphs later I have clearly lied.  Basically we went back to Bella Moda.  The dress was fabulous.  We went back two days later to get the seal of approval from Papa CS.  Dress purchase. Bing, bang, boom!

V for victory!

This post sucked in the picture department so to reward you for sticking with it....

You're Welcome!

Anyone have a relatively easy dress search?  How did you know it was the 'one'?

**WAIT... I forgot the best part.  I fit into the sample they had in the store so I was able to purchase the floor sample for a discounted price of almost $400 off!!  I rule at wedding dress shopping.***

Dress You Up in My Love

Running of the Brides was one amazing experience.  While I didn't find a dress (yes I just gave it all away and killed the suspense), I would do it again in a heart beat.  If any one needs someone to go as part of their 'team'..... CALL ME!

I can't have asked for a better team than mine.  Mama CS came down from Philadelphia, my superstar Aunt and my cousin flew up from ATL for only 38 hours.  And finally a Sammie BM joined us briefly before she had to go to work but she was a trooper.
The Team!
The night before the RotBrides we did a little reconnaissance.  We took this very seriously.  The night prior we stopped by Filene's Basement to create our game plan for the next morning.  As luck would have it, they had already set the dresses out!  The dresses were roped off so we couldn't touch them but I could point out to my team the ones that I liked so they could get a feel for what I was looking for.  We picked a spot in a corner with a mirror and designated one person to run directly to the spot and claim it.  After our 'dry run', we went back to my house to get a solid 5 hours of sleep.  (On a side note: there were already people in line when we went at 5:30pm the night before... c.R.a.Z.y)

The plan was to get to Filene's at 4:00am which we thought would be plenty early enough.  Except it wasn't... there were probably 200 people already in line when we got there.  The 4am start gave us plenty of time to work on our signs and rehash the strategy. 
Nobody looks good at 4am
The doors opened at 8am but they 'condensed' the line starting around 6am.  From that moment on, if anyone flinch in line everyone surged forward.  It was madness.  Little known fact: In DC they actually only let about 100 people 'run' for the dresses and pull them off the racks like you see on tv.  If they let everyone run someone probably would have gotten injured.  You are never going to guess which team was part of the lucky 100?!?!  Ok... since I am writing this post you can probably guess.... It was ME!  We were the last team let in to 'run' but better last than never!  We got to actually take part of the running and stripping of the racks.  Don't believe me, watch the video:

Check out those camouflage shirts at the :33 second mark.  Surprisingly we were the only camo shirts amongst a sea of pink.  By the time we got into Filene's (in 33 seconds) the racks were almost bare.  I had to race around the back to the last couple of rows to grab dresses.  And they were frickin heavy!  I think it was one of those life endangerment adrenaline rush things but under normal circumstances I don't think I could have carried as many dresses as I did.  After my team grabbed and dragged, we met up at the predestined spot.  Best. Spot. Ever!  There was a mirror, plenty of room to hang up the dresses and we were under an air conditioner vent so it was nice and cool.
I just realized how nakey I look in this picture.  I swear I am not.
Hopefully you know a little about Running of the Brides so I am not going to go into it but there was tons of bartering, trading and negotiating going on.  Before I knew it, I was stripping down to my strapless bra and bike shorts in front of a couple of hundred strangers.  Sadly none of the dresses were what I was looking for (simple, narrow A-line, and slightly unique).  There was a shortage of any style except ballgown or fuller A-line.  There was very little lace but tons of satin with heavy beading.  The discount was unbelievable (all dresses for either $249, $499, or $699) but by the time the dress was altered, cleaned and in some cases repaired, the price would be about the same as a new dress if you were going for simple.  However for the more adorned dresses, it was quite the steal. 

As Mama CS said, soon it was becoming diminished returns.  Yes, we could have stayed there all day, combing the racks for a dress but would it be worth it?!  The team decided no and after about 2 hours we headed out.  No dress but an amazing once in a lifetime experience.  Unless someone asks me to go with them (please!) then it would be twice in a lifetime.

There are tips all over the internet for Running of the Brides but here are just my two cents.
1. In DC they were taking mirrors away from people in line because they said it was too dangerous.  I would call ahead to see if you can bring one or not.
2.  It definitely paid off to go the night before and scope out our spot.  An employee even told us we had the best location in the whole store.
3.  Don't buy a dress just because it is cheap and you feel like you have to justify getting up at 3am.  I have heard tons of stories of people getting a 2nd dress after RotBrides because they weren't totally sold on their RotBrides dress.
4.  Even though it says wear a sports bra, I would really recommend strapless.  It is hard to see past a big chunky sports bra when you are wearing a wedding dress.  Also I wore flip flops instead of close toed shoes and my toes were fine. 
5. Even though you designate someone as the trader or barter, take a lap once or twice yourself.  You are the best at spotting what you want and it is fun to soak it all in.  Don't feel like you can't go out in the fray because you are the bride. 

I am keeping my fingers crossed that someone I know gets engaged soon so I can go again!

Coming up next... the quest for the dress is over.  V for Victory!

Dress You Up In My Love

My dress search was floundering before it even began.  I had no idea where to start.  Then out of the blue my fabulous friend texted me saying that she would love to go to Running of the Brides with me here in DC.  For anyone who doesn't know what Running of Brides is it is very similar to Running of the Bulls except with crazed brides going after discount wedding dresses.  I don't know which is more intimidating fanatical brides or wild bulls.  I was intrigued but would Mama CS go for it?!

Shockingly she did!  For anyone who knows Mama CS you would understand why that is shocking.  She is a very cool and collected cucumber who doesn't like to be stressed (just like me!)  RofBrides is all about stress.  Mama CS was all in though because if there is anything she will deal with stress over is a discount.  We marked our calendars for June 30th.

Now you can't just go to RofBrides cold turkey.  We needed to set up some dress appointments to find out what style we would be searching for.  Looking through 1,700 dresses with hundreds of other frenzied brides is not the time to be deciding if you look good in a trumpet style.  So we set up appointments for the next time I would be home at David's Bridal and La Bella Moda for dress 'research'. 

No dress appointment is complete without an entourage so one Sammie sister, my Godmother, Mama CS and Mama CS's mama (grandma CS if you will) all made the trip.  They are so good to me.  Our first stop was David's Bridal.  The purpose of the trip was to try on as many styles as possible to narrow done which ones I looked best in.  Of course I looked fabulous in all of them but the ones that stood out were the narrower A-line.  Our consultant was very helpful and she mostly just pulled our suggestions since our group was very vocal.  Too much chatter, not enough pictures of dresses!
Style #SWG9902/Image via David's Bridal
Style 9V9743
Very similar to Style #9WG3243 but not
My brief adventure with straps (Style Discounted)
This was the crowd favorite (style 8CT314)
Blah! (Style 9T9642)
*sorry for the poor image quality, phone pictures are no good*

There were probably 20 more dresses tried on at that appointment and if I say it was exhausted that would be an understatement.  I had no intention of purchasing a dress at David's Bridal so we forged on.  After a quick break for lunch, we headed to our second appointment.  At this point in the day I was willing to give up on this appointment since we already had a style we knew to look for at RotBrides and trying on dresses is hard!  Thank our lucky stars we went because La Bella Moda is where I found my dress!

I don't have any pictures from this appointment (no pictures allowed) but I did get to try on a couple of my inspiration dresses.  I am going to leave you hanging though because we came back to Bella Moda twice before I actually purchased the dress so I will go into more detail then.... hopefully to entice you to come back :)

Did you find your dress when you were just 'researching'?  Anyone else try on their dress three times before pulling the trigger?

Coming up next..... Running of the Brides!

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  I hope you get to share it with someone special.

This year for Valentine's Day and beyond, I am going to try and remember that our wedding is more about the marriage and less about the details.  Sometimes I let all the little things get in the way of remembering that at the end of the day even if nothing goes right Mr. LP and I will be married.  

To My Valentine: I can't wait for a whole lifetime of adventure with you. <3

Dream a Little Dream of Me

I can't wait to share with you my quest for the dress but first I have a little disclaimer. 
I make Mr. CS read every blog post.  Sometimes I even quiz him on it just to make sure he memorized every word.  Unfortunately that means I will not be showing my dress.  Not even the designer/style number.  See Mr. CS likes to say that I am nosy but really I learned it from him.  

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, lets get on with the show!  Prior to getting engaged I really didn't look at dresses.  I should have been arrested for all the stalking I did of my venue but I didn't think about the dress too much. 

After the plethora of bridal magazines that came in my name after the big engagement, I started thinking about dresses.  From the beginning I knew I didn't want a giant 'princess' gown.  It was just not that kind of wedding.  If we were getting married at a church or in the winter I would have had a different opinion.  But we are getting married by the beach in the grass so something light and flowy was high on my list.

Like all brides I started pulling inspiration for my first wedding dress shopping appointment.  Lets take a stroll down memory lane of all the dresses that I didn't pick. 
Lazaro LZ3055
Allure Bridal 8771 (Image via RecycleBride)
The Chelsea Clinton Vera Wang Image via AdanNews/Photo by Barbara Kinney
Mikaella Bridal 1406 (Image via Brides)
The Couture Collection/Image via MSN
For a moment I thought I wanted straps/Image via MyBridalDress
With inspiration in hand, I set out with MamaCS to start the hunt. What do you think?  I am still completely in love with Chelsea Clinton's dress.  Obviously none of these are my dress but do you think I ended up with anything close?

Oh No She Didn't

The Lemon Puppy is not a single parent dog.  Unfortunately Mr. LP is still at work and I don't know how much more of the LemonPuppy I can take.  Here is what I came home today. 

What are you looking at you ask?  Why, that is LemonPuppy's cage without a LemonPuppy in it!  We crate her during the day when both Mr. LP and I are at work so she doesn't terrorize the house.  Don't worry Mr. LP comes home every day to take her out for potty breaks (he deserves major kudos for this) and my job ends early so she is not in there too long.  But the point is she should be in there! 

Her crate lives in the bathroom during the winter because the bathroom has a heater so she doesn't get cold.  We close the door to keep the heat in but when I opened it upon arriving home I found myself staring at an empty cage. 

All the signs are there that she has been in the bathroom so it doesn't appear that she has been abducted (I wish).  She completely destroyed the room.  Toilet paper unraveled and half the roll missing.  Trash all over the place. 

Thankfully (or unthankfully) I found the LemonPuppy behind the door but not before I swore Mr. LP would rue the day he brought her home.  I still have no idea how she got out of that crate.  Not only is she a lemon but she is a magician.  Of course she is too adorable to stay mad at for long.