On My Own

Alternative Title: Why We Decided Not to Hire a Day of Coordinator

I can almost hear the gasps through the internet.  You read that correctly, we are not having a DOC for our wedding day.  There are a couple of reasons why not and I wanted to share them in case anyone else is struggling with this decision too.  I am not saying not hiring a DOC is right or wrong but here is what Mr. CS and I came up with.  You should probably take it with a grain of salt though because only the wedding day will tell if this was a good decision.

1. Our venue comes with a fantastic wedding coordinator.  If I could make the word fantastic 10x larger I would.  She is just that good.  Daniella (the wedding coordinator) deals strictly with weddings at our venue.  I believe this makes her slightly different than just a regular venue coordinator.  Starting from about three months out, she has been at our side the whole way.  She has gone over every detail with us and even made some great suggestions of her own.  I am fully confident that she understands our vision and the Congress Hall team will execute it to perfection.

What does this have to do with no DOC?  For the wedding I am subscribing to the philosophy that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.  I think if too many people are 'in charge' it will just lead to confusion and mismanagement.  I think there should be one point person on wedding day and having a DOC along with Daniella might be dangerous.

2.  I couldn't find anyone I liked.  Seriously!  Either they were out of our budget or didn't seem invested enough.  I didn't have full confidence in anyone.

3.  Speaking of budget, our budget for this was almost zero.  Well not that low but pretty close.  This decision also came down to money.  If we had an unlimited budget would I have hired a DOC?  Abso-f*-lutely.

4.  A DOC is not always the 'silver bullet' for a stress free day.  I was in a fabulous wedding over Labor Day weekend and they had a DOC.  However I think the DOC lead to more stress and wasn't really all that helpful.  The MOB was the one who put everything together and did an amazing job on the wedding not the DOC.  (wow, that is a lot of acronyms in that sentence.  Hopefully you are down on the bride lingo)

5.  Mama CS has 7 sisters!  Their family motto is 'someone has to be police of the universe, why not me?'.  Being in charge is like a family sport.  They are all fabulous women who I know would be willing to step in at a moments notice and take charge if something is not going right.

I am sure I could list just as many positives for having a DOC but for the Cucumber Sandwiches the cons simply out weighed the pros.  I think part of what makes a wedding day 'stress free' is having full confidence in someone else to execute the vision.  I really feel like I have that in Daniella and the rest of the Congress Hall team so no DOC for this wedding.

Did you have such faith in your vendors that you decided to go without a DOC?  Or am I being completely naive and this decision will haunt me for the rest of my life?

Home Ec 101

The wedding is getting closer and closer and I have been DIY'ing until my fingers bleed.  Alright that is not entirely true but I have been very busy supervising DIY projects until my supervisee's fingers bleed.  The huge project I/they were able to knock out this weekend was burlap table runners!

Images of burlap and milk glass danced in my head all weekend.
{Kate Landers Events}
I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to make my own table runners.  I don't even own a sewing machine.  Great creative with poor execution skills is what I put on my wedding resume.  Thankfully Mr. CS's Aunts to the rescue.  I asked Mr. CS's Aunt if I could borrow her sewing machine and of course she said yes!  Later she decided that it would be a fabulous idea to make it into a little sewing party.  While Mr. CS was out enjoying his bachelor party, Mr. CS's aunt invited the ladies over to her house for sewing and House Jam wine (best.wine.ever.... go right now and buy it!  I don't care what time it is where you are reading this).

I ordered way, way too much burlap from Online Fabric Store.  To prep for our little sewing party, I cut the burlap in 20'x90' runners.  In my mind I was being super helpful but apparently I should have waited and used picking shears.  Oops!

I brought over about 18 burlap rectangles and the ladies got to work!
First we hemmed it by folding down the edges and ironing on a little 'stitch witchery' to keep the burlap in place and from fraying.

Now to the sewing machines!

The ladies sewed the hems down with navy thread.  You may be wondering where I am during all of this.  I am not ashamed to admit that I was mostly 'supervising' and generally trying to stay out their way.  Apparently my A in 8th grade Home Ec. was not cutting it on this project.

And now for the big reveal:

Oooh... aahh!  It is kind of hard to see because I took these pictures at night and on a brown table but they look fantastic.  I am so thankful for those ladies because there is not a snowballs chance in hell that I would have been able to finish this project.

Anyone else overly ambitious with their projects?  Ideas on what to do with the rest of my burlap (seriously I ordered like 50 yards and ended up using probably only about 20 yards!)

I know my calculus

...... it says u + me = us!  (please tell me someone else remembers that song)

Our RSVP date was this weekend so lets bring on the numbers!

Total Guests Invited: 177
# of Yes: 95 (53%)
# of No: 33 (18%)
# missing: 52 (29%)

To be fair that is not 52 RSVP cards that we have to track down, it is more like 25 families/couples.  I have a lot of phone calls to make but if I had to give my best, most educated guess..... I believe we are going to have 120 people at the wedding.  Perfection!

Since everyone is coming from out of town that statistic won't really help you (100%).  I could give you the break down of the Ms. Cucumber Sandwich RSVP response rate vs. Mr. Cucumber Sandwich RSVP response rate but that would just be cruel.  Lets just say about 90% of the RSVPs missing belong to him.  Oops, I guess I just let the cat out of the bag.

I don't really have any pictures for this post but I did want to share some of the amazing advice we received from family and friends.  If you remember from our invites, we asked for their words of wisdom.  Boy did they deliver!

Some were very practical:
"Make each other laugh"
"Use Crayola bathtub crayons in the shower to leave funny or romantic notes for each other"
"Separate blankets"
"Always take a vacation, just the two of you, every year.  Even if is only for a couple days"
"If you have to fight, fight naked.  It won't last as long"

Some made us think:
"Argue without fighting"
"Time stands still best in the moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life"

Others were funny:
"I will pass along the wisdom that Grandad gave my husband when we were married in 1981:  NO BACKS!"
"Mr. CS- Honor your wife always and give our son a raise; Ms. CS: Honor your husband only if he gives our son a raise" -from the parents of one of Mr. CS's co-workers
"Never let your spouse go to bed angry (you're defenseless when you sleep)"
"Being the husband to a school counselor has to be the greatest honor on earth!" -my school counseling buddy

A common theme was I am always right:
"Ms. CS: Always let Mr. CS think it was his idea first; Mr. CS: Know that Ms. CS is humoring you"
"1. Your wife is always right  2. In the event your wife is wrong, see rule #1"

Some were creative:
"Congress Hall is yellow, 
The bridesmaids will wear blue, 
Here is some advice for the two of you: 
Go interesting places
Have lots of friends
Plan fun things together
And the love never ends!"
-Mama CS (and a little tweaking from PapaCS)

And finally one made me cry:
"Don't worry about achieving the perfect marriage ~ just enjoy those exquisitely blissful moments that will surprise you when you least expect them..... his gentle kiss....her sweet smile... baby's first giggle... and the joy in knowing that on October X, 2011 you both did something quite extraordinary, together."

What is the best marriage advice you have received?  Any thoughts on how I can preserve/display these gems?

Chalkboards and Table Numbers

It is amazing the clarity that comes with having only a limited amount of time left for DIY details.  Originally I had envisioned all kinds of options for my table numbers.  Time has not been my friend though and I am down the the wire.  Just like that I was able to decide what I wanted to do with the table numbers in only about 20 minutes.  Who knows what I might have accomplished had I had this clarity early in the game?!? 

I had ventured over to my local craft store one day and picked up about 20 of these babies. 

For only a $1, they were perfect.  I knew I wanted to do chalkboards but I had no idea how I wanted to 'decorate' the outside frame.  I thought about leaving it plain and going with the 'faux' wood look.  I contemplated wrapping white or blue ribbon around the frame.  I thought about painting the frame either white or navy blue.  Finally I had the fleeting idea to cover it in burlap but that idea was gone as soon as it started. 

Normally I am as indecisive as they come.  But as we get closer to W-day I am able to make decisions in less than a day.  Yesterday I decided to paint the frames white and bing, bam, boom it was done.  I know, I shock myself too!
Mid painting
Chalkboard spray paint
I got some chalkboard spray paint from the local craft store and sprayed away.  And the final product:
The chalkboard part is a little too clean/shiny for a chalkboard so I thinking about smudging it up a bit with some chalk dust.  Perhaps people won't get it though and think it is just dirty. 

Now I just have to figure out how to get them to Cape May without smearing.  I am thinking about wrapping them in saran-wrap in hopes they won't smudge.  I guess I could always chalk the numbers on once we get to Cape May but I have to do our menu and a couple of other signs in chalk too.  I think waiting until we get there would put too much work on the days before the wedding.

All in all the project cost me about $23 for 18 table numbers.  Can't get any better!  I am so glad that I was able to strap on my lady balls, make a decision about this and knock it out.

Any ideas on how to transport chalk signs without smudging them?  Any projects you surprised yourself by being decisive?

Playin' the Ponies

When the lovely Sammie Sisters said they wanted to throw me a shower, they asked if I had any ideas.  Well that is a silly question......of course I have ideas!  I casually threw out suggestions of various places around Philly that I thought would provide a fun atmosphere.  Subtly was my middle name.

I immediately sent an email titled 'shower locations'.  Subtly was out the window.  On my short list was a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School or Clean Your Plate, perhaps a party in the Please Touch Museum, or a delightful tea in the Morris Arboretum.  Unfortunately my best idea was yet to come.  Would you like a hint?
What could that be in the background?  Need a bigger hint?

We went to the Philadelphia Race Track to play the ponies!  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner but the racetrack is actually a Cucumber Sammie family tradition.  We used to go every year for Mother's Day when I was little.  Placing our $2 bets on a horse solely because of their name.  I guess times really haven't changed.

The divine Sammie Sisters (and MamaCS) sent out invitations for my 'Wear Your Wedding White' racetrack shower.  Everyone was encouraged to wear white and I tried to make it like the Kentucky Derby by wearing a fascinator.  I am apparently the only one who got that memo. 

The racetrack had a picnic area that was first come, first serve.  On the day of the shower Papa CS graciously volunteered to be at the track when it opened to snag us an area.  He is a trooper!
Picnic area and wearing our whites!
When everyone arrived they received a folding fan and a money pouch with six $2 bills to make bets.  Guests could mill around between the betting house, the track and the picnic area for some food.
BM Egg Salad with her adorable baby
Cheering one the horses
$9 win!  She is rolling in the dough
My Aunt B studying the program like a 'bookie'
After some heavy betting it was time to open presents.
Ahhh the shirt!
I received many, many generous gifts but the funniest was the 'sperm shirt'.  This shirt has been in PapaCS's family for years (maybe since 1976).  PapaCS's sister received the shirt as a birthday present and the minute she opened it her brothers shouted that the squiggly things on the shirt looked like sperm.  The shirt then got passed around from family member to family member in unsuspecting gifts.  Christmas, birthdays, housewarming gift.... nobody was safe.  You never know when the shirt will be hidden in your gift.  The legend of the shirt goes that if you receive this shirt you are the next in line to have a baby.  As soon as I opened the shirt there were shrieks of laughter from all of my aunts!  I have put that shirt in a very safe, far away place waiting until I can gift it to someone else.

After the presents were opened I practiced walking down the aisle with my ribbon bouquet.
And placed some more bets!
 And ate some Petit Fours...
Played a quick game.  Sammie sister read a story about how Mr. CS and I met.  The story was filled with rights and lefts (for example; Mr. CS knew Ms. CS was the right girl, right away but left it up to chance.).  There was a mystery gift that got passed around the circle and whenever she said left it went left and when she said right it went right.  The person holding the gift at the end got to keep it.  It was very adorable.  Then sadly it was time to go.  But first a family picture with 3 generations of Cucumber Sammie women!
The shower was amazing and the Sammie Sisters (and MamaCS) did a fantastic job.  It is exactly what I envisioned.  A fun afternoon with good food and a side of 'sperm shirt'!

Did you do anything somewhat unusual for your shower?  Any ideas on how I could cleverly gift the shirt to some unsuspecting victim?

Moving on Up

The Cucumber Sandwiches have made their way to court house and are ready to make it official!
So giddy and excited!  Let's get this show on the road and get licensed already.  But first pose for another picture.
With Wawa coffee and birth certificates in hand, the Cucumber Sammies and Sister Sammie were ready to get the marriage license.

I left the logistics of how to get the marriage license up to Mr. Cucumber Sammie.  He made us an appointment at Cape May Court House.  If your eyes are really good you may notice we are posing in front of Cape May County Court House.  Whah, whah.  Those are two different places apparently.  By the time we figured this out we were running late and had to hustle our bustle back to Cape May Court House.  Lets just say it is funny now but not so much at the time.

We were able to file for our marriage license more than 30 days in advance but we have to go back to pick it up before the wedding.  The good news is that anyone can go get it in the days leading up to the wedding.  I smell a job for Sammie Sister!

Did you have any snafus when picking up your marriage license?  Did they ask you multiple times if you were related or is that just because Mr. Cuke Sammie is from West Virginia (just kidding sweetie, I love you!)?

State of My Union

Since Mr. Prez is giving a big speech tonight about the state of affairs, I figure it is time to reassess mine.  With less than a month to go some things are getting done, some are being replaced and some are being plain thrown out!

Lets start with what is no longer making the cut for the Cucumber Sandwich wedding.

1.  Photobooth
{Mrs. Cupcake's Wedding/Photo by The Wiebners}
We will not be having a photobooth at our wedding.  Originally I really, really wanted one but as time is growing short and my DIY list is getting longer this project did not make the cut.  I could have delegated it to Mr. Cuke Sammie but I am slowly coming around to not having one at the wedding.  I have convinced myself that it will take away from our raging dance floor.  I have no idea if this is true but it is what I tell myself late at night.

2. Day of Coordinator
This is a post for another time but I am subscribing to the philosophy that 'too many cooks spoil the broth'.

3. Victorian Brunch
My favorite brunch food/Image via iFood.tv
I think I promised this in my introductory post but it is not going to happen.  We are probably going to have some people over to Mr. CukeSammie's family house for some scrambled eggs but nothing elaborate.  There are only so many hours in the day!

4. Doily Welcome Bags
{Ashley Ann Photography}
I would have loved to be able to make these bags for our welcome bags.  I might still make one after the wedding for me :)  Since everyone is coming in from out of town that would be a lot of bags.  Also most people are staying together with multiple families in one rental property so bag distribution might be kind of complicated.

Fortunately MamaCS had an inspiring idea.  We are going to get a large tub of kettle corn for each house and call it a day!  Maybe tie some ribbon around the bucket and leave a note.  Who wouldn't want to come home to this:
{Food Services Warehouse}
Our 'additions' list is much, much shorter.

1. Uplighting!
In 6 degrees of separation, I have acquired Mrs. Seashell's uplighting. I am very excited to see how these lights turn out in the venue.
Let there be light! {Image via Mrs. Seashell}
2. Videographer
We have decided to spring for the WedIt wedding video.  Wedit is a service that sends you 5 flip cameras to record whatever you want.  After you send the cameras back they will create a wedding video and highlight reel from your footage.  We thought about buying flip cameras to record the ceremony and other important moments but this really seems like the best option.  I would have had no idea how to piece together the footage together and now someone will do it for me!  We get 5 cameras so we can capture the day from all kinds of angles.  Here is an adorable example of their work:

And there you have it.  The Cucumber Sandwich State of the Union.

Which projects have you had to let go?  Did you add anything approaching the wedding?

I Can Hear the Bells

I mentioned a while back that Mr. Cucumber Sammie and I will be including some cultural traditions in our ceremony to represent our heritage.  We covered Mr. Cuke Sammie's African American roots with a broom jump.  And now it is my turn!

I am Irish, Irish and just a little bit more Irish so picking a heritage pull a tradition from was easy.  There is tons of great inspiration for including Irish elements in your wedding.  I would have loved to get Mr. Cucumber Sammie in a kilt but before I could even get the words out he said 'not going to happen'.
Would have looked so handsome! {KiltRental}
We also briefly flirted with the idea of the Irish handfasting.  This custom is used in many other cultures as well.  The bride and groom tie fabric or ribbon over their joined wrists.  This creates a beautiful visual representation of 'tying the knot' and joining the bride and groom together. 
If only My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding had come out sooner, my theme totally would have been 'Irish Traveller'.  I find this show equal parts fascinating and mystifying (why does it take them all day to clean the trailer?!?  what else do they do?)
{My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding by TLC}
Ultimately the tradition we decided to incorporate in our ceremony was the Bell Ringing.  During our ceremony, Mr. Cucumber Sammie and I will take turns ringing the 'marriage bell'.  The bell then gets kept in our house to be rung when we are having a fight or need a special reminder of our wedding day.  The bell is supposed to end the fight and declare a truce without admitting fault.  I am interpreting this tradition as I get to be right so I am all in!

We went on a wild search for bells.  I wanted to get a Waterford bell but soon realized that was a terrible idea after checking the prices at a local Irish Shop.  Soon I turned to my trusty old companion, Ebay! I love that place.  I found two bells for reasonable prices and they arrived on my doorstep this afternoon. 

 I love them both so I need your help deciding.  The green is very decorative and delicate but is a little dissimilar to our decor.  The sterling silver bell has some heft and a beautiful song but kind of plain. 

What do you think?  Use both bells?  Should I change my theme to 'Irish Traveller'?