Playing Dress Up: Part I

My sister, my brother in law, and my itty bitty niece were visiting this weekend. When my sister got married, we all (I have two sisters,) went to Vera Wang in New York and she tried on a few drop-dead gorgeous gowns to get an idea of what she wanted. It was a fun sister experience. So, since I wouldn't have the opportunity to spend quality sister time for awhile, I said "screw it!" to the budget and made an appointment at an incredibly cute boutique that sells designer wedding gowns in Del Mar called Bliss Bride. Budget? What budget?

I was a little nervous since I'm not exactly a Park Avenue kind of girl, but Anne at Bliss Bride made me feel so comfortable. The shop was gorgeous, and they close the entire store down for each bride. I got to try on as many dresses as I wanted and take pictures. Anne even added accessories to me (a necklace and a veil) so I could see the entire ensemble.

After trying on many dresses, I came to some fashion conclusions: 1) I look best in a long dress. I did try on some short dresses, but they just made me look shorter. Long was more flattering. 2) I want something unique, but I found that the simpler designs just looked more flattering. I certainly don't want anything too...boring. 3) How am I ever going to stick to a reasonable budget for a wedding dress? After trying on these beautiful gowns, do I have any more money to carve out of my savings for a dress like this? Is it worth it?

I'll stop babbling now. Here are some pictures we took at Bliss Bride:

[Me wearing Amy Kuschel's "Parfait" with the big sister. This was the favorite out of the 10 or so dresses I tried on. I will probably look for a similar silhouette, even though it seems to be a pretty conventional silhouette for brides these days. It was definitely the most flattering. What you can't see in the picture is the absolutely gorgeous bead work and embroidery on the bodice. I was surprised by the stunning details.]

[Amy Kuschel's "Parfait" on the model, image from Amy Kuschel]

[Me wearing Amy Kuschel's "Margherita" and sporting a veil. I must say, I have been pretty anti-veil and will probably end up wearing a flower or nothing at all in my hair. But I did have a moment of "oooooooh I feel perty" right when she put it on me. Wow, now I REALLY look like a bride! Holy cow! It looks like I'm ready to go to the altar in this photo.]

[Amy Kuschel's "Margherita" on the model, image from Amy Kuschel]

[Me in Christos. I like this dress! No one else did because of the "weird strap" but I felt like the strap and rosettes gave it a bit more punch than the Margherita]

[Dress from Christos' 2009 Spring Collection, image from brides.com]

[Oh, Claire Pettibone. How I love your bohemian stlye. At the shop I LOVED this dress and proceeded to twirl around and admire the ginormous rose at my chest. I thought, wow! This looks different than all of the other hundred strapless dresses! This is what I would want to break the bank for! This is what a designer dress should feel like!
But when I got home, I realized that it was a bit too funky for my taste and would probably suit someone taller. And then the boy got a look at it and referred to it as "The Tree Dress". ...Hilarious, isn't he?]

[Claire Pettibone's "Lalique", image from brides.com]


Gung Hay Faht Choi!

[My niece can't get enough of her very first red envelopes. PS: There's $$ inside. Don't ruin the surprise for her. She's still mesmerized by the envelope part.]

Happy Year of the Ox, everyone!

My First Inspiration Board

{ya gotta click on it to make it bigger because unfortunately it is itty bitty on this page}

[First row: Cake by Bakery Bar, published in Portland Bride and Groom, via Snippet & Ink; Sprinkles Cupcakes; The Small Object cake topper; strawberry cake by Bakery Bar.
Second row: cakes photo by One Love Photo.
Third row: cakes photo by Jessamyn Harris; cakes and cake stands by Oh Happy Day; dogwood cake by Maple Sugar via Snippet & Ink]

Oh dear, just looking at all of these cakes at once gives me a sugar high! Here is my very first inspiration board, all about cakes. I am thinking we'll have more than just cake, perhaps pie, cookies, and candies will also make an appearance. Maybe I'll make an inspiration board for each dessert category because I'm just that ca-razy about planning my wedding right now.

Other things I am ca-razy about:

The Small Object: I would love to invest in a cake topper and keep it in a boxed frame for our future home. You can check out all of the adorable toppers on The Small Object's flickr site.

Snippet & Ink: I seriously don't know what I would do without Kathryn's blog. Probably cry because all of the world's prettiest images would be lost in Internet land and not formatted in gorgeous boards for my eyes to feast upon.

Here's to many more inspiration boards...for the next 17 months! I know you're excited!


Sunday at the Movies: Slumdog Millionaire

[Dev Patel and Freida Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire]

If you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire, you need to go see it. NOW. It was a beautiful (albeit difficult to watch at times) story...that probably made me cry twice in two hours.

Watching it made me feel guilty coming home to a mountain of wedding magazines on my coffee table. But you should still go see it.

Manohla Dargis and Roger Ebert think so too.
Roger Ebert's review
Manohla Dargis's review


Are You My Venue? #2: Orfila Vineyards

[The {permanent} tent all lit up with globe lanterns.]

[The ceremony site overlooking the vineyard and mountains.]

[You can also have tables set up under the grape arbor, which I think looks very pretty. And, how great are those pumpkins??]

[Here you can see the dance floor and the chivari (chiavari? shi-vahr-ee?) chairs that can be rented. The boy actually cracked me up during the venue appointment by asking "What are Chee-uh-vahr-ee chairs?"]

[All photos (c) Orfila Vineyards]

Today was the second venue that I visited and the boy (yay!) came with me. We headed north to the Orfila Vineyards in Escondido, just minutes down the road from the Wild Animal Park. I think we chose an unfortunate day to visit, because it had just rained so the grounds looked a little mucky and the sky was grey. BUT we did have a great appointment and had lots of photos to look at so we could envision what wine country would look like in June. It would look gorgeous.

There are a lot of positive aspects of this venue: 1) the tent where the reception would be held is permanent. It comes with the site fee, which is pretty reasonable in comparison to other places I've seen online. 2) the site fee also comes with valet parking (wheeee!) 3) they already have rental packages to choose from, so we would not have to search for an outside rentals company. 4) the bar quote is pretty reasonable, and they understood that 50% our guests would not be drinking. 5) Emma, the event coordinator who gave us a tour, was so nice and answered all of our questions. She didn't balk when I asked more specific $$ questions and she was just very relaxed and made us feel at ease. 6) the boy liked the pinot he tried.

And then there's the bad: 1) I would really like to have the option to choose my own caterer, but Orfila, like every other venue in town, has a list I have to choose from. 2) It is 30 miles inland and may be very hot in the summer. I don't want the guests to melt during the ceremony.

3) This is a concern for all San Diego venues that I did not mention for the Darlington House. Since we are from N. California, everyone we know still lives up north. Therefore, we'd be making everyone, perhaps 90% of our guests, travel just for our wedding.
How badly do we want it in San Diego? And, would people actually show up to our wedding if we had it in San Diego? Would everyone hate us for having to fly down south for the weekend? Is it selfish to make a majority of our guests come to us?

Bottom line, Orfila Vineyards is a very pretty venue and we liked our meeting with the event coordinator. We've got five more venue appointments (holy cow) so this is definitely on the 'maybe' list.

The boy told me immediately after the appointment that he would be very happy if we had our wedding there. We shall view more venues and see.


Help Support San Diego Public Libraries

Do you live in San Diego, or close enough that you shop in San Diego? Do you buy books/magazines/stationery/games/other fun things from Barnes and Noble? Would you like to help our public libraries? Did you answer 'yes' to all three questions?

Then please support San Diego libraries by presenting this voucher when you purchase items at Barnes and Noble!

: February 14-15, 2009
Any San Diego Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble will host a two-day book fair to raise money for the San Diego Public Library. If you mention the Library at time of purchase or bring in the pre-printed voucher, we will get a portion of sales, 15% or more, depending on sales.

All San Diego area Barnes & Nobles are participating.

Proceeds from this fundraiser will go toward books and materials for the Library and to support One Book, One San Diego.

For more information, please visit: https://www.supportmylibrary.org/events/77

I think I'm going to hold off buying wedding magazines until the 14th. =)

Shameless Plug: Modern Artists Go Fish for Art

[Images from Birdcage Press via Amazon]

Even though I have lived in San Diego for a good year and a half now, I just managed to visit the San Diego Museum of Art. It was small, but definitely had a few gems in its collection, and it was a nice way to wind down the week with the boy.

I hope none of the curators at SDMART read this, but the real highlight of the day was seeing a product I had worked on last year in the gift shop. I didn't even realize this was out yet!

It is a card game to teach modern art, and I worked on it at the tail end of my last job.
I am SO excited that it's in the gift shops, and I am really proud that I helped produce it!

For more information (or to buy a copy!) visit Birdcage Press here.

Say Yes to the Vintage Dress

After flipping to the back of the shopping guide of Martha Stewart Weddings and perusing pages and pages of Brides.com, it became apparent that I would not be able to afford a brand new designer wedding dress.

You know how items on the Internet can be labeled with a different number of dollar signs to denote how expensive it is? Well in designer wedding dress land, one dollar sign is roughly less than 2k. $=less than 2k. You don't even want to know the price range for $$$$.

To cut costs, I could potentially 1) buy a brand new designer dress, than resell it, 2) buy a used designer dress, then resell it, 3) have a dress custom made, 4) buy a new wedding dress from a designer whose name isn't Vera, Claire, Melissa, or Monique, or 5) buy a used wedding dress from a designer whose name isn't Vera, Claire, Melissa, or Monique.

Buying a dress has never been so confusing.
But here's what I'm thinking so far.

My current fashion aspirations for the wedding:

+ a short, lacey, vintage dress, preferably above the knee and under the price tag of $500, that will make me look and feel fun and fabulous

+ a colorful and large hair accessory which involves either tulle, fabric flowers, bejeweled brooches, or all three together

+ red, green, purple, or yellow kitten heels

+ very simple jewelry that won't cost me next month's rent

Three lovely and fashionable brides who have inspired me:

[Stacie and Geoff, photography by Sloan Photographers, found via Once Wed; Leann and Zach, photography by Carina Romano, found via Once Wed; Shoko and Julian, photography by Max Wanger, found via Once Wed]

I know very little about vintage fashion and vintage boutiques since I shop the sales racks of J. Crew and Anthro. I've looked at Yelp for vintage stores in San Diego, but does anyone recommend any great vintage stores in SoCal? I'm willing to make the drive to L.A.

And, in general, anyone have any vintage wedding dress shopping tips? Anyone else finding creative ways to cut wedding dress costs?


Are You My Venue? #1: The Darlington House

I took advantage of my 4 day week by visiting my first venue (!!!) in La Jolla--Darlington House. Darlington House is a historical site and is owned and operated by the Social Service League of La Jolla. The rental fee for weddings goes towards their organization, which provides housing and meal support for senior citizens. This is a big plus for me, because I'd really like to be supporting a worthy cause.

So what did I think of my first venue outing?

In a word, it was darling. Pun intended. It is a cute, charming white house ONE BLOCK from the beach. It has a lot of vintage details that are absolutely beautiful. The wallpaper for instance--of my goodness, the wallpaper! I didn't realize how excited I could get about WALLPAPER. Funny enough, my favorite wallpaper in the house were in the bathrooms.

What? Fabric backdrop? Who needs one when we can go take pictures in the awesome bathroom!

Unfortunately, there are the drawbacks: 1) No parking=valet service=$$ I would like to spend elsewhere. 2) I would have to provide all rentals. 3) And use their preferred catering list. 4) Things need to start shutting down at 9:30 because it is in a residential area. 5) It is indeed charming and pretty. But I felt like the wedding I envision, something colorful, playful, and whimsical, would be better suited in a park or big grassy lawn rather than a historical site. What do you think?

It is of course the first of many, and if I need to jog my memory, I took all of these pictures of the site. If you plan to get married in San Diego, I highly recommend visiting Darlington House.

And now here's a sampling of the obsessive picture taking extravaganza I had there:

[Darlington House is located in La Jolla, 15 minutes from our apartment, a hop and skip away from the beach]

[This is the front entrance where guests would arrive.]

[There were three main patio areas which all had beautiful Spanish tiling, colorful details, and flowers and fruit blooming. I spotted this lemon tree in the corner]

[This is the largest patio area where the reception would be held.]

[This gate connects the ceremony area to the reception area.]

[The Egyptian Pond--super charming, isn't it?]

[This is where the ceremony would be held. Isn't that art piece on the wall killer?]

[An up close shot of the killer art piece]

[The door frames had these scalloped edges that kinda make me drool because of how pretty they are.]

[Plates hung inside the house near the kitchen.]

[Let's go upstairs, shall we?]

[Where the boy would get pretty.]

[Where I would get pretty.]

[Le sigh.]

[This is a great example of the little details that make up this house's charm. These were the knobs in the bride's dressing room and were just too pretty not to admire.]

[Exhibit A of awesome wallpaper]

[Exhibit B of awesome wallpaper]

[Exhibit C of awesome wallpaper]

[Exhibit D of awesome wallpaper]

[A detail of the Spanish tiles that are all over Darlington House.]

PS: For some eye candy, check out Leigh Miller's blog with recent photos of Darlington House.


Tying the Knot in a Library

[Yes, this is a library! The rooftop of the Kansas City Public Library. Photo by Jan and Marco Simonelli]

[Wow, two of my favorite things in the whole wide world: cake and books.]

[Mary and Matt's wedding at the Detroit Public Library. Photos by Anne Ruthmann]

Since I am applying to school to become a librarian, and I am getting married, all of the sudden anything library+wedding related immediately pops out at me. It never even occurred to me that you could get married in a library until I saw these photos on Anne Ruthmann's blog. This wedding took place at the Detroit Public Library and is just adorable!

Also, if you live in Kansas City, you can rent the rooftop of the main library for your wedding. This wedding, photographed by Jan and Marco Simonelli, is so hip and stylish! Certainly doesn't look like the roof of my public library.


So far, wedding planning has been a bit direction-less. Maybe direction-less is the wrong way to describe it, maybe I should say that I am being flexible, not direction-less. For a couple of days I thought having a tea party would be fun. And then the tea party turned into brunch. And then brunch turned into dinner and an after party. And now we're back at possibly a daytime event, except maybe in a different city. All of this, add a Chinese banquet into the mix, and you're basically up to speed with what I have planned for when we say "I do".

I'm a little sad my cat can't walk down the aisle the way a dog can. She's looking pretty cute right now.


Proposal Weekend: Part III

[We spent the night at the historic Hotel del Coronado. It's rumored to be haunted, which ups its cool factor.]

[The hotel is literally on the beach. This was the view on Sunday morning.]

[We had Sunday brunch in the Crown Room at the hotel. The room was gorgeous and had these beautiful lights in the shapes of crowns.]

[Did I mention the brunch was an all-you-can eat buffet? That also includes all you can drink. Behold, the bottomless mimosa!]

[I did not have anything to drink that morning, but the hotel has their own signature champagne in these pretty bottles. Also bottomless.]

[King crab legs and brussel sprouts. Yum-o!]

[A view of our table. Notice the hollowed out crab legs...]

[Candy apples! The vat next to it had hot apple cider.]

[Mmmm dessert...flan and macaroons.]

[They had a candy bar. If I wanted to, I could have taken handfuls of rock candy and tootsie rolls back to our table, and it'd be completely okay because it was, after all, ALL YOU CAN EAT. This is only half of the candy bar, and there was an entire table devoted to chocolate.]

[Pink and green macaroons! So pretty and so tasty.]

[I needed a good cup of tea to digest all of the food. Isn't that mini jar of honey so cute?]

The big surprise was that we were going to stay at the Hotel del Coronado and have brunch at the Crown Room. It was quite a memorable event, not only because I was proposed to, but because I woke up and walked into a room with the most delicious food I have ever seen in my life. Prime rib, crab, sushi, panini, omelets, french toast, short rib, the list goes on.

Needless to say, my first class of cardio dance is tomorrow.

And that's the end of my proposal recap! Wheeeeee! I am so excited to be planning our wedding and will be blogging about it all along the way.

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