Bridal Suite: The Decor

Decor is my favorite part. It’s also most likely to easily get out of hand. I’m generally not a big spender. I don’t like a lot of frills and fuss, but sometimes you just want to go all out. A wedding is one of those times. I almost let that happen. However, since Husband and I were paying, I quickly laid those ideas to rest.

I had a vision. I knew what I wanted. I also had to remember to be open to change. Throughout the process, I kept reminding myself that it didn’t have to be perfect, as long as it was perfect enough. I also kept reminding myself that the minor things I obsessed over might not matter as much to my guests and I would be too busy getting married to notice. About a week before the wedding, I gave up all together. Then, things got better. Go figure.

I tried really hard to make it something Husband would like too. Something simple and elegant. Modern and romantic. Actually, now that I think about it, Mommy and I had talked extensively about candles. If I didn’t think I would have set the place (or myself) on fire, we definitely would have had more candles. But enough with all the talk. Let’s look at the pictures.

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Part of the reason why I picked LOFT at Castleberry Hill was because of the chairs. I don’t like ugly chairs and I didn’t want us to have to pay for chair covers. We both liked these, so it worked out perfectly. Our drapery was done by A Touch of Drapery. It was a complete surprise to me and I love how they came out. I just told them what I wanted and I didn’t see any of it until I walked down the aisle.

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It was actually more cost effective for us to buy our linens. So we did. I was actually able to get some that were much nicer than if we had rented. The centerpieces were simply floating candles in a bed of fresh rose petals. Oh and I made the table numbers myself. I really wanted to do something different so I opted for mirrors, since I hadn’t seen that done before.

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Our table was the only one with fresh floral arrangements. We also had these super fab Marchesa crystal toasting flutes that we got off the registry…just in time to use them for the wedding. I love them too much. #SUITE

Hope you all enjoyed this week at our wedding.

Bridal Suite: Buying a Dress “Off the Rack”

We were engaged on February 12th. Two weeks later I had a dress. And I didn’t have to break the bank.

I had spent a little time looking at dresses. I was sure I wanted mermaid and lace. Boo was coming in for our birthday (we’re 3 days apart) and I managed to get an appointment at Bride Beautiful while she was here, so we went together. When I scheduled online, they asked for my budget. The lowest range was from $500-800.  That’s the one I chose. I actually had, and planned to spend more than that, but you know when you tell people that you only have $1 they tend to say what’s 50 cents more? Umm…it’s more than I budgeted. So, in this case I decided to start a little lower so I could have some room for upselling. It was a good idea. By the time I left I was in $2,500 dresses! Imagine how that would have worked out if I had started with a $1500 budget?

I had the first appointment of the morning and if you’re going on the weekend, I’d highly recommend it. The boutique was a zoo when I left a little over an hour later. The consultant ushered me into the “clearance” section, because that’s the only place where they have dresses in my price range. These were sample gowns, and gowns that people had purchased, but didn’t finish paying for. She tells me that I should consider buying a dress that’s a couple sizes larger and having it altered. This opened up the range of what was available to me and ended up being exactly what I decided to do. Also, with the wedding only 7 months away, this was a great option since it could take up to 6 months to get a wedding dress. This way I could take my dress home the very same day.

I tried on maybe 10 dresses. Narrowed it down to 2. And eventually decided on this gorgeous number that was 4 sizes too big and entirely too long.

Peep Boo in the back sneaking photos.

Peep Boo in the back sneaking photos.

It was going to need some major alterations, but they only wanted to give me $100 off. For all that, I could have paid full price for a brand new one that fit. I told my consultant there was no way that would be happening. I told her to tell whoever she needed to tell that I needed a better price. Then I waited. She came back and told me they would sell me the dress for 50% off. Suite!

I paid and brought my baby home in a big pink bag. Then I panicked. The bridal consultant said I could get a dress a couple sizes larger and get it altered. Not 4 sizes larger. Were these alterations going to cost me $700 and negate all my savings? I was sure they were going to have to take my entire dress apart. I was shook! Turns out, I was wrong. Tine came to visit and we took my dress to Lace Alterations  and not only was the staff super nice, they pulled out the straight pins and carved me out of that dress like a fine piece of Italian marble!

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They pinned my dress into submission. They also opened up the neckline a little. Custom!

It didn’t break the bank either. With alterations, the dress ended up being about $400 less than full price. It was almost the exact price I was willing to spend in the first place, but on a dress I wouldn’t have been willing to purchase at full price. SUITE!

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Bridal Suite: My Sorority is Responsible for My Marriage

Husband is probably in the office…sure that we’re married because he lured me in with all his dark chocolate fineness, comedy, and charm, but he’s only part right. That stuff came later. But in real life, we actually got married because Zeta made it so. It’s true.

I’m a firm believer that everything that happened before is only to set you up for your future. It’s very sneaky too. You can’t really see the full picture until you look back from the end. Well, from here, I can see how I was set up. I went to college with no intention to pledge. I changed my mind. Thank goodness it all worked out. I was inducted as a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. in the Fall of 2003. My Dean was Soror Amanda Hicks (Wiley). My dear friend and Soror Kateah, paid half of my membership fees. Now I’m a Zeta! Yay!

Fast forward a few years and Soror Amanda Rivera, also from my undergraduate chapter, invites me to join this Yahoo Group for members of my sorority and our brother organization Phi Beta Sigma. It was in this group that I met Boo, who was my Maid of Honor. I also met Tine, who was my Matron of Honor. Yay! I have friends! I’m so lucky!

Fast forward a few more years and Tine introduces me to Moon, who was recently initiated into her chapter. Now I have a new friend. Yay! Fast forward a little more and Moon has a birthday party. I’m invited, because I’m popular. She introduces me to her friends from school. I caught the eye of the tallest one and he asked me on a date. I was obviously irresistible and he proposed to me 19 months later. You see how this Zeta connection (my good looks, and sparkling personality) hooked that up for me?

Now the thing is, I probably would have never met him if not for Zeta. After we went on a few dates, we discovered that we knew a lot of the same people. His brother was dating a friend of a friend, who I had met at a Blue and White social event years prior. He went to High School with one of my good friends, who is also my fraternity brother, though they don’t remember each other. I used to hang out with some of the same people he went to college with. Matter of fact we had gone to at least ONE (we think it may be two. Can’t be sure.) of the same parties, both he and Moon attended. She couldn’t introduce me then, because she wasn’t a Zeta yet, so she and I didn’t know each other. It wasn’t the right time. But time changes things. Now I have a husband AND friends.

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Some of these same sorors, were able to serenade me at our wedding. They didn’t want to, but I insisted, because it’s one of my favorite parts. #SoSuite

 

 

 

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Bridal Suite: Planning the Wedding without Mommy

Mommy was SO sure that things between Husband and I would work out. She was a little off in her proposal prediction, but in the end, he did propose and we did get married. She was right and I’m sure she’s really happy for us. We talked about all of it in the time leading up to her death. The good thing is, we discussed this “knowing” she was going to die, and since Husband had not proposed yet, we figured she wasn’t going to make it for the big to do.

Mommy instructed me to go buy a new notebook and we began taking notes about what she wanted for my wedding.  We looked at venues. We talked budget. We browsed dresses online and via bridal TV reality series. We discussed colors. She dictated a guest list. For dinners and showers and the actual wedding. It was actually fun. I see women and their mothers clashing all the time in regard to wedding planning via TV and social media. I’m glad we got to end our planning on this note. It was PLEASANT. I have nothing but good memories. 

Did I use any of the stuff we came up with? Her 50+ person guest list for our 75 person wedding? Nah. Being that the guest list was THE MOST stressful part of the whole experience, I’m glad she wasn’t here to find out THAT wasn’t going down. *whew* The peacock theme? Husband wouldn’t have gone for that. (Meanwhile we just got our new peacock colored rug. YES!) I was really into barns and like…train stations. Did we do that? Nope. Paper lanterns? It almost happened, but it didn’t. I am not sure we decided to do anything that was written in that book. I’m not sad about it. None of it was set in stone, they were just ideas. The part that matters is we got to do what we would have done if she was alive, talk about it. Shop for it. Develop a plan, even if it had to be changed and modified. And you know what? I finished out my planning using that very same notebook. I still carry it for jotting down my other ideas. It makes me feel connected.

Once he “finally” proposed, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was nervous. Was this going to be sad? Really difficult? Weepy? None of the above. I didn’t have to experience picking my dress alone. Boo and I went together for my birthday! Then some random mother and grandmother chimed in at the perfect time to assure me that I had the right dress. I like to think that was Mommy’s doing. I had a bridesmaid or friend go with me to every fitting. Boo even did me the courtesy of crying on Mommy’s behalf at the final fitting…and at the wedding.

Between the bridal party, Auntie, my godmother and my vision everything was smooth (mostly) sailing. When I would go out to buy stuff, the thing I’d want would be the only thing left, or just set out in front of me. And the random kindness, courtesy, and compliments of strangers helped me along. I just hate to think that it was all coincidence or by chance. My hopeful spiritual side wants to give Mommy credit for being there through it all. I never felt alone. I rarely do.

I wish she could have been there in the physical sense, but I wasn’t sad about it. We ended up doing a few things to honor her on that day. Of course, I carried her necklace on my bouquet. I brought a picture of her getting ready for her wedding to our bridal suite and Husband and I laid a red rose in her chair at the start of the ceremony. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t sad. I tell you, it’s not all I thought it would be.