Thursday, August 30, 2007

Go DJ!! That's my DJ!!!

So--of course, entertainment, bands/ DJs, can make or break a wedding reception.
And seeing as though I really want to party after dinner, I need good entertainment!
Between web site search engines and catch-all web sites like PartyPop and Decidio that claim to be directories for wedding "service providers" I had become frustrated trying to find a good dj.
I came across dozens of DJs with web sites that revealed them to be one or all of the following:

a. cheesy
b. overpriced
d. 45-year-old white male

Now, there is nothing wrong with any of the above categories, but it is not exactly what I had in mind for me and Drue's wedding.
After all, we are:
a. not cheesy
b. on a budget
c. very professional
d. twenty-something, young and black

So, of course, I took matters into my own hands and dug way down deep to the skills I learned in one journalism college class called "Information Gathering"- to find who I was looking for.

Enter Clint. Clint is the co-owner of a newly established disc jockey company based in Sandusky but that plays all over Ohio and Detroit. Now, I won't link to his web site, because at first glance, it is kind of cheesy...BUT after one really searches it, there is tons of great content, including several examples of music mixes he's done that you can actually listen to, videos showing his very professional equipment and lighting etc.

I was very impressed with his services. Mainly because I am very eclectic, and to see the range of music he knows and can mix really shocked me. He did hip-hop, old school, reggae...even HOUSE (although fiance may not allow it, I love it!!)

AND he has experience spinning in nightclubs, which is very cool.

AND his pricing is "music to my ears"--he quoted me at a discount of several hundred dollars of his normal pricing because I will be the first booking in the Cleveland-area.

AND he will do the ceremony and cocktail music (6-hour booking) and act as an emcee at the reception and will honor our "Please play" and "Do NOT play" lists!

I'm excited. Fiance and I have decided to reserve our date with him, and just as confirmation to how fabulous we think he is, we're going to try to go to one of his events to hear him spin over holiday break.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Black is the new...BLACK!!

Word on the street is that chocolate is the new black--and from the weddings I've been to this year, chocolate as THE accent color for weddings is EVERYWHERE. It looks good. But its omnipresence is exactly why I will not use it in my wedding.
Now, black...I love.
I know, I know. Why in the world would I want the color *black* to make an appearance at our wedding??
After all, black is synonomous with things like:
Well, not for me. Black is, indeed my favorite color. And for good reason. Black is:
Think "the little black dress," or "black tie formal." Point is, you cannot go wrong with black.
That is why my bridesmaids are going to wear black dresses!
Now, don't be concerned. Black is not in our "color scheme," if you will. Rigid color schemes, where everything is matchy-matchy, are PLAYED OUT to me. So we just have what I call "color inspiration."
We've chosen 4 or 5 colors that complemt each other to feature throughout our wedding ceremony and reception.
In fact, the ONLY thing that may be black are the ladies' dresses and guys' suits.
To me, black will act as an accent color that kind of "finishes" and "pulls together" the other colors and makes them "pop."
Seeing as though the wedding begins in the evening, it will be even more fitting.
So if any of my BM's are reading this and *hate* that little dress above, please, "speak now, or forever hold your peace," cuz I'm feeling it!!
Cheers to black!

Oh, Mermaid... my Mermaid...Where Art Thou, my Mermaid!?

OK--- Bridal Boutique Rule #1:
Do have a VARIETY of gowns for brides-to-be to try on when they drive 25 miles on a Saturday to visit your shop!!
Arggh! I'm so frustrated. In the past few weeks I've visited at least five bridal salons and NOT ONE has had more than 3 mermaid/trumpet-style gowns for me to try on.
They "claim" that the mermaid--a fit-and-flare, sophisticated silhouette gown-- is not in high demand...however, several other young brides in these shops were looking for this style and shared my frustration and many runway styles for Fall 2007 are in this mermaid shape.
This from Wedding Channel:
"One of the season's hottest looks, mermaid gowns are showing up in the collections of top designers such as Reem Acra, Monique Lhuillier and Mika Inatome."
And this from Bridal Discounters:
"Wedding gown styles for 2007 are swiftly shifting to a high fashion focus....Mermaid gowns are abound, modified mermaids are the most popular, showing fitted bodice that stretch to below the hip, with exaggerated, full, low skirts, a definite retake on the 1950s Barbie."
Not in high demand...?
I am sure i want to be a "mermaid" bride. I have a list of gowns I'm interested in...but none of the shops in my area have any of them on the racks...and not even anything close! This is why I am super giddy about going to New York City this Friday to storm some of their infamous bridal outlets to at least get a sense of how the mermaid looks on me before I order one.
Here are some gowns that inspire me. Thanks, Ariel!

And two more of my favorite gowns that I CANNOT afford, by Jim Hjelm and Alvina Valenta... but do keep in mind-- I am one ENTERPRISING sista!:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One Year & Countin'!

Today is August 23, 2007...and it's a very special day for me and fiance. Why, you ask?? Well, today is exactly the ONE year mark BEFORE our big day!!
I seems like I have a whole lot of time to get all of this together. But time flies, and with gowns taking up to six months to come in (geez) we need to get moving!
There's also the question of vendors. Catering is included in our venue, so in the next few months we need to figure out:
-A Florist- (Please note, the cast and I will doing most of the flowers ourselves, but we are purchasing my bouquet and the guys' bouts, so we need someone for that.
-My GOWN!!! and accessories
-Bridal party's gowns and guys' stuff
-The Cake (Momma may have already nailed this down)
-Decorator(I'm interviewing someone in October to see what she's working with...)
-Rental place
-And maybe, if budget permits, entertainment for the cocktail hour

I think that's all. Let me know if I'm missing something. And get ready for a year's-worth of my blogging non-stop about this journey! Ciao--

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gowns: "Inspired By..." for the past day or so I had been getting
really excited
about what I admittedly thought was a goldmine of knockoff gowns from Ebay sellers based in China.
of these sellers--many whom even have good ratings--are offering all
kinds of knock-off designer gowns for super-cheapo $100
for the gown and $80 for shipping. They claim the gowns are
custom-made to your measurements and are dead-on replicas of the

Well, long story short, after due research it seems like, as with anything else, usually you get what ya pay for.
many traditional bridal boutiques are having to actively combat online
retailers to protect their businesses from being swallowed by web
bridals. They especially have to watch out
for sellers peddling shabby, bad quality fakes.

To discredit Ebay and other knockoff sellers, one online discount bridal shop actually bought a few of the China-made
knockoffs and put them right up against the designer photos they were
claiming to produce.

to see the real gowns VS. the knockoffs.
It's pre-tty bad.

I hope this "un-inspires" anyone else who is tempted about going the "alternative route."

I'm not saying that ALL Ebay or other online sellers who custom-make designer "inspired" gowns are
of horrible quality like these. I AM saying to be VERY careful and to
do your homework before buying from such a seller.

Several web sites for brides--weddingchannel and indiebride,
to name a few--- are a treasure trove of info and host thriving message
boards where past brides and brides-to-be are sounding off on any and
every vendor you
can think of. I suggest taking a few days to do as much info-gathering
as possible on these "alternative" vendors before taking a chance.
Especially helpful
are message threads where members post photos of these gowns they have
received from little-known vendors. That's hands down the BEST way to
get a feel for what YOU would get if you ordered.
For instance, many former/future brides seem to swear by Queens, New York dress-maker Julius Bridal Inc. There is lots of info on Julius' gowns on indiebride and even more on weddingchannel, where dozens of ladies have posted photos of themselves in their discount/custom-made Julians...and theydo look good:)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Honeymoon Registry??

Ummm...ok...I had never heard of this before until today.
Apparently, in lieu of a traditional wedding registry a la Crate&Barrel, Target, you now can set up registrys with the likes of Sandals and Starwood Resorts. Sorry if this is old news, but it's new to me!
This from
A Honeymoon Registry isn't just one of the hottest trends for today's couples -- it's an incredible opportunity for newlyweds to take the trip of a lifetime AND have their friends and family help pay for it as their wedding gift!
Why Are Honeymoon Registries So Popular?
· They're a great option for couples that already have most of the traditional household items, but still need wedding-gift ideas for friends.
· Couples paying for their own wedding and honeymoon are able to take a more luxurious trip.
· Honeymoon Registry programs come with FREE honeymoon planners to help plan the perfect trip and make arrangements for local activities and romantic dinner.
· Friends can now give a gift they're sure the couple will love AND use.

How Does It Work?
It's super simple. After you make your honeymoon reservation at any of the participating Sandals or Starwood hotels or resorts, go to to tell us how much you want to register for. We then create a honeymoon registry so your friends can see where you are going and buy gift certificates in any amount they want. That's it!

What Do The Gift Certificates Cover?
Depending on the hotel, Gift Certificates or Gift Checks can be used on just about anything that can be applied to your hotel bill, including: · Room charges · Hotel dining and bar tabs · Hotel spa treatments, golf fees, and more!

How Do I Tell My Friends?
After creating a Honeymoon Registry on, your registry automatically appears in our famous registry search. All you have to do is tell your friends to go to, or send our "tell a friend email" with links directly to your honeymoon registry (and any other registries you may have on our site).

So, I have two questions:
1. Has anyone ever heard of or had experience with this before?
2. Is this totally TACKY?

To save-the date? That is the question.

Possibly the first thing that lets guests know about your wedding...and sets the tone for the event...are save-the-date cards or magnets. These days, many save-the-dates are very contemporary and stylish(see above).
Basically, the fiance is anti-save-the-date notes. And do you wanna know why? It's because he is secretly praying and hoping that several of our invitees do not save the date and of course, he thinks these litttle reminders will only put our date firmly on guests' radar. Isn't that funny? When it comes down to the per-plate price, he's actually hoping some people decide not to come....

Anyways, I wanted to do save-the-dates, but this is not a battle important enough for me to wage.

But if you're gonna do it, these magnet save-the-dates are too cute and fairly inexpensive at about $1.30 each. But these at Beau-Coup pictured aboved, are even cuter at $1.80 each.

A few more I adore from weddingpaperdivas

Monday, August 20, 2007

The hanging "votive pole"...

Bet you didn't think inanimate objects could have personality? Think again. These wrought iron hanging "votive poles" or "vine candles" are literally HOT!
I first saw them at a wedding this summer, then again on a Knottie's profile. Apparently, you buy them separately and you can purchase these little hooks to hook 'em together! What a cute backdrop. You can see them hanging over sheer drapes below (this from a very chic wedding I went to this summer).

I found these votive poles reasonably priced here.
I also found them here.
Both of those web sites also have a bunch of other funky, diva candles.

The Space

So the fiance and I easily agreed on one of the most important parts of our day (besides us putting up with one another for life): the place. We chose to have it at the BP Building dowtown on Public Square on one of the upper levels that is used for banquets.
The fiance really loved this place just on the merit of its being located downtown. He says he wants all of his frat brothers and friends from out of town to have a chance to see "the best of" Cleveland...
I also like the space because it's downtown and seems perfect for a modern-style wedding. But I like it most because it's a really stunning space all by itself and I won't have to "fight with it" to make it beautiful.
The architecture and windows plus the fact it overlooks a lush atrium all sold me.

It's also very spacious which allows for it to be divided into several different spaces: ceremony/cocktails/dinner/party.
I took some raw photos of it when we were last in Cleveland so I could figure out decorating needs. But I FORGOT to measure and do you know the event manager there doesn't even know the space's measurements! So I'll do that when I return to Cleveland in October, I guess.
Oh, another selling point of this place was the fact that for a small extra fee we can take our wedding photos in that pretty atrium you see above. And the bridal party also gets to use two huge conference rooms for free.

Why Rent when you can Buy?--Candle & Flower Holders

There is one thing I've learned concerning renting vs. buying items for a wedding thus far:
Do NOT rent if you can buy at a comparable/cheaper price, b/c you can always resell!

I've also learned:
-Glass candle/votive holders and vases are interchangeable, yet they always cost more when labeled "vases"
- A container is a container is a container. Who cares what it's called?
-There are some good web sites to find cute, cheap, bulk votive holders and vases like:Save on Crafts
Jamali Garden
Candle For Less
Wholesale Linens
Wal Mart
And, of course, your local Family Dollar, Dollar Tree.......

More of what I've learned:

-I love candles and the mood they set and all the pretty reflections they cast
-I like glass containers with clean, square/rectangle lines/shape
-I kind of like floating candles (though some types can look cheesy)
-IKEA is my friend! (See their new vase "Rektangel" which I think is $1.99/each.

Why Rent when you can Buy?-- Table Linens

OK--task #1 concerning wedding decor will be figuring out what my tables will look like.
There are 10 large, round tables. Each table will seat 10 guests.
So, the wedding/reception venue comes with basic white table linens. The problem is that the linens only fall a few inches over the table rim and I think it looks kind of tacky. So I want linens that fall to the floor or at least a few inches above the floor.

But in case you didn't know, table linens are expensive.
The 72" round linens I need cost on average about $30 a piece to rent. That's $300 for just table linens. Now you know I am NOT paying that much!!
After weeks of research (thanks brief journalism career) I found a steal on Ebay from a seller named NYTLIN's Clothing
This seller offers a lot of 10 72" linens in any color for $150 plus $30 shipping. You can see them here.
So for $180--almost half of what I'd pay to rent--I can OWN 10 large table linens that I can THEN sell back? That's great!
So I'll prob go with something like this if linens remain a priority in my budget.
I feel like floor length linens are important (b/c we can't do chair covers due to the type of chairs) to the overall feel and look of the reception. But if it comes down to the wire, they would prob be first to go in terms of decor...

Our Wedding: Meet the Cast

Taking part in this beautiful day, to take place 8.23.08, are myself and fiance, 14 guys and dolls who will be our bridal party, and the bride-to-be's key players, who are:

1. The Dream Momma
Oh, every gal and bride-to-be needs mom during this time. Thankfully my mom is an angel who is open-minded, eager to help out and who I get along very well with! I'm not hiring a wedding planner because as stressful as this process can get, it's just too fun and personal of an experience to outsource (especially as it's once in a lifetime) so momma will be my right-hand quasi-wedding planner.
Currently, she is putting her event-planning skills to work and compiling lists of Cleveland-area vendors for me to interview. Oh--momma is in Cleveland.

2. The Too-Laid-Back, but Too Cute Sister
My little (or not so little) sister (23 yrs.old). She's in grad school in Missouri, so she can't be that much help anyway: she's a broke student plus she's not in Cleveland.
Sister is a sweetie, a laid back psychology expert who is good at analyzing situations etc., but sometimes she is just too laid back. She's going to be the maid of honor so I really need her to step up to the plate and start being more proactive/ assertive at getting things done--namely, the planning of my bachelorette party!

3. The Football Fanatic Groom-to-be
He is the love of my life!! Very supportive with helping me pull this wedding off, an event for which he is the chief financier. But lemme tell you--with football season about to begin--he likely won't be mentioned too much in this blog because football (college and pro) is his LIFE! I'll be lucky to get in much QT in the coming months. But that's kinda good and means he'll be i can plan away to my heart's desire. Go Browns! Go Bucks!

4. The Future Sister-in-Law
OK. As in-laws go, I think I'm blessed to have her as a future SIL. My fiance's sister has been a great support and help in the planning process so far. Not only has she already been through this... she is a realist like me and as she's in Cleveland, she's willing to help out. Here's a really powerful quote from her (told to me the weekend her bro and I got engaged):
"Just do what makes you happy. Because whatever you do, somebody's going to have something to say about it. You could spend a million dollars on your wedding and someone would still say something negative about it..."

Ah, you like her already, right? Me, too.

Our Wedding: the basics

OK--so there are two MAJOR obstacles to my planning and executing the wedding of my dreams: location and budget.

1) I am planning a Cleveland wedding from Washington DC.
2) I am planning a wedding, of which I have great expectations, for about 130 guests on a fairly tight budget, according to today's standards.

So, yea...those are the obstacles. But I am focused and motivated to make it happen!

Not Your Mama's Wedding

More things you must know about my wedding vision:

1) I am doing my evening ceremony and reception at the same venue,in the evening, downtown Cleveland. For my reception I'm having a formal sit down dinner and a 5-hour open bar. I am also having a cocktail hour with passed hors dourves. (I'm too lazy to spell check that right now...)

2) I am having an ultra-modern and non-traditional wedding. That means:
No drapes of tulle, ribbons, bows or pastels here.
Not many flowers and lots of DIY.
Seven bridesmaids in sophisticated/sexy black gowns.
Dozens and dozens of candles.
Momma walking me down the aisle.
Ceremony recessional="Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. You get the idea...(Ummm...well, kinda unsure about that one, but hey, my beau is all for it!)

3)Basically, I want our day to create a moment, an experience for everyone there. I don't want it to be a contrived, run of the mill wedding. This is why one of things most important to me (spending-wise) is decorating and ligting.

This fabulous event will be held at the BP Tower. A photo of it is to your right, but please note, my tables will look nothing like that:)

About the Bride-to-be


For the next 365 or so days this is where I will share anything and everything related to my wedding journey. A very little about me: Born and raised in suburban Cleveland, Ohio (Shaker Heights for those who will know) and now, 25 years later I am living and working in Washington, D.C.

During my 25 years I've done a lot... I think. I've been a rebel...dated the bad guys...went to college....lived in very rural appalachian Ohio...been an activist...lived and worked in Dayton, Ohio....lived and worked in New York City...wrote for two daily newspapers...been a television news reporter...

And now here I am in the nation's capital--the mommy of a fierce two-year-old and a fiance to my high school sweetheart-- working for the betterment of the environment and doing my part to influence policy to make that happen.

And now, although it is exactly one year and four days away, I am WELL into planning the most exciting day of my life: my wedding--to kick off the most exciting part of my life: a lifelong commitment and partnership with my love and bestest buddy:)