This, That, and a little bit of Everything

Justin and I have had this week off to get things done. Unfortunately, we have had a lot of running around to do as well. :/  Then... on top of that... I've been feeling yucky. Not quite sick, but definitely not not sick either. *shrugs*

Justin is currently in the process of finishing one of the absolutely gorgeous dresses my bridesmaid will be wearing. It has taken him quite a bit of time, but I know everyone that comes to the wedding will be impressed by how beautiful these dresses are.

As for me, I ordered my reception dress... which I haven't seen in person yet, but my mom says it is absolutely beautiful! I cannot wait to see it!

I have also been working on the wedding stationary which has been driving me INSANE! I get to a point where I think I know what I'm doing and then confusion sets in. I know I will figure it out and it will be beautiful, but I have very limited time to get things done.

Meanwhile Justin and I have been talking with his parents about the rehearsal dinner. I am so excited since I know the dinner will be far better than any restaurant could do. His parents have also offered to help us look for a wedding caterer.

Even though it is now Friday, I feel that we have had a fairly successful week thus far. Hopefully our success will continue into the weekend...

Busy, Busy, Busy... Silhouette Cameo Review

I am so excited (and tired) from the crazy week that was last week. Three days of family dinners...!! That is when you know you have a LOT of family! I grew up with at least 2 family dinners, but I felt so bad for Justin since he now has 2 additional dinners that he isn't used to!

On top of that, we took our two bridesmaids with us to all of the dinners as well. We ended the day at Café Intermezzo. :) I could not have asked for a better weekend. It was a very busy weekend though!

As you might could guess, we have not gotten much accomplished with the wedding in the past four days.

Let me just share one exciting wedding detail we have been working on/designing:


Don't you love those? It was Marion's (bridesmaid) idea... I received my Silhouette Cameo toward the middle of December and with it is the option to print butterflies. They are sooo exciting and I am finding them all over my house as they fly from room to room. My aunt suggested that maybe they needed a little bit of sparkle.


Justin decided that perhaps they could be cut out of scrapbook paper and made into confetti. It took him forever to pull all of these butterflies off of the mat, but they look absolutely adorable!

(By the way, I LOVE instagram.)

If you have any interest in getting a "cutting printer", the Silhouette Cameo is absolutely amazing (even though I am still figuring it out). Don't be fooled by the Cricut... try a google search comparing the two and you will find that the Silhouette is far more detailed and a superior product.

For saving money, however, I would encourage you to purchase the Cricut mats to use with the Silhouette. They are cheaper and not quite as sticky as the mat that came with the Silhouette. The lack of stickiness makes the "printed" projects easier to pull off, but I will probably end up taping my paper to the mat so that it doesn't become loose during the cutting process.

Zazzle Review

Back in October I spent a good bit of time searching google for wedding invitation inspiration with the hopes that I would find an invitation that would be similar to what I desired. I was looking for... inspiration (not the actual invitation we would send out).

On one particular inspiration searching day I came across a lovely design on Zazzle by creator/artist samack. It was absolutely perfect! ... Except that it was not MY design. *sigh* I gave up with the design and went to look for more inspiration, but I couldn't get that design out of my head. I went back to Zazzle and e-mailed the artist asking for help which she was more than happy to provide. It wasn't exactly the help I desired, so I took some time to think about the design. This is when I saw a coupon code for 70% off my purchase. The coupon inspired me to contact the designer again and ask for help in a different way. Within a day's time Samack (Sandra) had sent me a proof for a thank you note. I was able to rearrange pictures and text to make them work with the look I desired. 

Beyond Sandra's quick and helpful assistance that enabled me to order my thank yous within a day's timeframe... the thank yous' were shipped within 2 days of my approval without my paying any extra for shipping! I was so excited to receive these thank yous yesterday. They look absolutely gorgeous and I am so excited that I was able to work with an artist to get (almost) exactly what I wanted in a very fast time frame at a HUGE discount!

I saw a lot of negative reviews for Zazzle at the time I ordered, but I am happy to report that Zazzle did an amazing job for me. If you need save-the-dates, thank yous, invitations or anything else... be sure to check out Zazzle and experience their amazingly fast yet beautiful work. :)

InPink Review

In one week, it will be the day after Christmas! Scary to think about, huh?

Anyway, I just wanted to take some time to review InPink since the bridesmaids earrings were purchased from there thanks to a $40 gift card I received from a giveaway by Ciao Bella. Since my bridesmaids have not yet seen the earrings, I will refrain from posting a picture.

I ordered the two sets of earrings using a Black Friday sale in which we got them 40% off meaning I paid $45 (not including the $40 gift card) for $60 worth of earrings!

The first pair of earrings arrived approximately 1 week following the purchase. The earrings arrived in a lovely little box wrapped with a black string that had little pink and white diamonds hanging off of it! So exciting and unexpected! :)

Unfortunately, I had to wait another 2 weeks and a quick and painless phone call later for the second pair. :( I also tried e-mailing InPink, but I never received a response e-mail. I definitely recommend giving InPink a call if you run into a problem, because I was only on the phone for a few minutes before they agreed to send the second pair of earrings. The earrings came within 2 weeks of the phone call.

The earrings I ordered were surprisingly smaller than I originally expected?! I would definitely suggest asking about the approximate length before ordering dangly earrings.

Despite the size discrepancies, the earrings themselves are absolutely gorgeous and very much like the picture available on the website. If you are looking for bridal jewelry, dress-up jewelry or just plain day-to-day jewelry, InPink probably has a style you will like. Even their gift cards are super cute!

So... what are you waiting for? ;)

Just a Hint...

Since I know everyone has read my dress entry and taken everything I said to heart, I thought I would provide you with a hint of which dress I'm going to be wearing! Aren't you excited? ;)

My dress decisions started way back when... when the movie Runaway Bride came out. Remember this dress?

Runaway Bride -- Julia Roberts

I loved the off-the-shoulder sleeves. Who wouldn't? :) I also loved the idea of getting married in the fall... but you don't see that happening, do you?

Then Justin proposed, so I googled "off the shoulder dress with blue sash"...


Not quite a blue sash, but it tried. Only problem -- I had no idea who designed it.  So I kept searching.... until I stumbled onto this...

Alfred Angelo 1141

It was the Alfred Angelo 1141, my perfect dress. I spent MONTHS scouring the internet in search of this dress. I contacted stores in Florida, New England... and everywhere. No one had this dress in stock. I had just about given up, but then I found it... at a bridal shop in GA. It was a size 14, but it could be altered down... It was perfect... except that it wasn't. It was off the shoulder with a lovely blue sash... but it was plain. Boring. SO I kept looking...

In the mean time, I had stumbled across Casablanca dresses. I tried on a number of them. They were gorgeous with lace and intricate details. Beautiful. :)

Casablanca 1900

I wasn't a fan of where the bands laid on me, and I still wasn't certain about choosing these dresses... *shrugs*

My next stop was another Alfred Angelo...

Alfred Angelo 2020

I wasn't enthused with the position of the sequins on this dress.

While I had all but given up at this point... that's when I found the dress I ordered. Am I going to post a picture? I think not. ;)

Lessons Learned While Making Save-the-Dates



As a hopeful graphic designer, I really wanted to make my Save-the-dates gorgeous. I put a lot of time into creating them. Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. This is my list of things I've learned while making Save-the-dates.


1. Printing

  a. USE A PRINTER. (Not the one connected to your computer.) I tried taking my concept to Fedex, but they screwed up the image far more than the printer ever could. I still used those Save-the-dates, but I learned my lesson. (Also, printers cut things to the size you want anyway. It saves time and is nice for perfectionists like myself.)

  b. Don't expect the printer to color match. Get a proof before you print if you are being particular. I thought they could match color. No. Maybe some printers can, but the one I used could not. Lesson learned.

  c. Send them the correct image. Guess what? The incorrect image is... incorrect.

  d. While you are sending them the correct image, make sure you also send them the correct file format. The printer I used wanted Hi res jpgs while Fedex/Kinko's preferred pdfs.

  e. Get more copies printed than you need. You will make mistakes.

2. Stamping

  a.  There are different types of ink... which correlates to what you are stamping on. Figure out what you need, because otherwise your ink may not work or may smear. :(

  b.  Pat your stamp on the ink pad rather than rocking it on the ink pad. You are less likely to get excess ink on your project.

  c.  There are cleaners for stamps. I'm currently using the Rub N Scrub Stamp Cleaner. It really makes a difference in how clean you can get your stamp.


While these are just a few suggestions regarding the methods I used when making save-the-dates, make sure you PRACTICE before you create. I'm not sure how many problems we solved through practice, but I am certain that we would have made many more mistakes had we not practiced.

Printers used:  Print Master of Decatur  FedEx/Kinko's

An Invitational Delay

I may have mis-titled this blog. It probably should have been called "The Picky Indecisive Bride". I'm sure that I am not the only one to feel this way. Wedding planning can be fun, but making so many decisions in such a short period can be stressful and frustrating. Especially for me. I like to make sure I explore all options. With 3 months to go, I'm just not sure there is time to explore all of my options any more!

This is what led me to the decision of getting everything but my invitations done in the next month. (You have no idea what all goes into that little invitation "packet"!) Oh, you're invited to my wedding. Here are directions, the vital information you need, the pretty graphic design, your names written in calligraphy, pretty envelopes and stamps, an rsvp card for you to send me, and any extra information you may or may not need. Please come. Love and kisses, Mandy and Justin (or vice versa). :)

Yeah.

About that.

Those crazy little invitations will be done by the end of the month. The difference is... I'm starting from the outside and working my way in. I will make the "extras" and hope a perfectly styled invitation will just appear to my brain.

Get ready maid of honor. You are about to have a busy month! :)

The Dress!

I am no ordinary wedding dress shopper, if there is such a thing as ordinary. Looking for a wedding dress took me a minimum of 2 months and at least 10 dress shops. I shopped high and low, online and offline for that "perfect" dress. At one point I even contacted some of my friends who had previously been brides to get some affirmation that "perfect" dresses actually existed. After all, it is probably not normal to try on a dress and think "I don't like how the sequins are arranged" or "It's pretty, but where is the lace?" lol. I was sooo picky! In fact, I was sooo picky that my parents gave up dress looking with me, and I had to plan "secret" outings with my fiancé just to go to more dress shops. My parents just wanted me to finally decide already! (Oh, and they didn't want Justin to see the dress before the BIG day. Oops.)

Honestly when I found THE dress (as much as any dress can be THE ONE), Justin was with me. (Another oops moment. lol.) He said I looked lovely, but I still had to have at least one other opinion. I tried the dress on for my parents, THEN made them go back and watch me try on the other dresses that I had been considering. That's when, as in chorus, my parents and Justin, together, said "THAT IS THE ONE! QUIT TRYING ON DRESSES!" lol. It's sooo nice when your decision is made for you.

Don't get me wrong. The dress that is THE ONE is absolutely lovely. There were only 2 things I would possibly change about it, and one of those additions is currently hanging on my closet door with the dress until it gets sewn in.

The dress I bought is absolutely gorgeous. It was made to fit me in the shop, so very few alterations will be necessary. I also feel that my dress is unique in that only 1 bridal shop in all of Atlanta carried it. Even so, I've looked online and I can hardly find any pictures of brides wearing it! (I blame it on the terrible picture of the dress that the dress creator took.)

So... my suggestion for picky brides like me:

1. You don't have to cry when you see your dress. I promise. You can. If you feel like it, go for it. You don't have to though. Your future husband probably won't cry when he sees you in it. I'm sorry. He probably won't. That's OKAY.

2. You don't have to like the first dress you try on. In fact, please try on other dresses. Go on a dress hunt like I did calling stores that are out of state. Do whatever it takes to make you feel confident that you have found the perfect dress for you.

3. Keep in mind that changes can be made. When I went dress looking, very few dresses were off-the-shoulder. That is one thing that I was being very particular about. Know that "cap sleeves" can be added. You can also add sashes, sequins, appliques, brooches... You name it!

4. Don't worry about anyone else. They don't have to wear the dress - you do. If you want to look like a clown for your wedding day...

5. Try to have fun and not stress. I hated trying on dresses. I was so relieved when I walked out of the store after purchasing my dress, because I knew I had done my very best at finding a dress I would be happy with.

Am I truly the only one that got angry with dress designers for some of the silly decisions they make when designing dresses?

Thanksgiving +


I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving! In between our three Thanksgiving dinners, Justin and I got to enjoy spending time with many of our family members. Especially touching was a lovely speech Justin's grandmother gave to everyone in the family! We had a lovely time with all of our families and we are looking forward to many more Thanksgivings together as a married couple!



Justin and I also had a lot of fun this past weekend with his lovely little sister and my maid of honor as she spurred us along in our invitation/save-the-date creating. Our save-the-dates are complete, beautiful, and adressed, so they will go in the mail this week! I just love the way Marion addressed these!

I'm Late, I'm Late for a Very Important Date!

Over the weekend, Justin and I realized why it is that most engaged couples just buy everything. It's just easier! We find that most of our weekends are taken up running around trying to obtain all of the things needed for DIY projects, but then we have very little time left over to actually DIY anything. :/

On that note, let me share with you a few of our decoration inspirtation images and some DIY projects we think are awesome!


Dawn + Anthony Wedding; Bobbi and Mike Photography

Click here for a tutorial on how to make these from paper doilies!

Another Sneak Peek!



Turns out our save-the-dates should have said that! (Typed by Justin.)

Notice the background of tea cups and feel sorry for my parents dining room table. ;) "It will all be over soon" I keep telling them. hehe.

And then there was stationery...

First of all, let me provide a huge CONGRATULATIONS to my dear friend Suzy! She just posted some awesomely wonderful news on Youtube! Go check it out!

So... I've been busy working on my lovely save-the-dates that are going to be printed this week! (I know I keep saying that, but I am serious this time!) Justin bought the paper this afternoon. Even though I have yet to see it, I am certain it is wonderful and will work splendidly with our save-the-dates!

In preparation for the magnificent printing of our save-the-dates I have been going crazy trying to put together my address list. We almost have everyone on the list who is getting a save-the-date. Sadly, we will not be sending one to everyone. I've also had to research some "extras" that will make our save-the-dates completely unique and very much created by hand. (I'm sure I will post a sample after they have been sent out.) Next week I will find myself stamping, stamping, addressing, and typing. (Hopefully I will find myself some help!)

In the mean time, I decided to think about the wedding program. I was impressed with how many helpful websites there are for putting together a Catholic wedding program. Not being Catholic myself, I really had no idea what to expect from a Catholic ceremony. As it is, with mostly non-Catholics in attendance I will still need to consider how much participation will be required from the group that will need to be added to the program. *shrugs* I'm sure I will figure it all out!

Even though creating the wedding stationary has been a rough and stressful process, I am actually really excited about the save-the-dates and I know that our invitations will come together beautifully as well! However, do not be surprised if I post a few more times about the creation of our stationary before it is all said and done...

The Last of It?

Flintridge China - Miramar

Over the weekend Justin and I finally bought what should be the last of our China extravaganza. It is so exciting to see so many beautiful pieces of China all in one place!

Tiger Lilly Review

Ada earrings
I was so excited this afternoon when UPS dropped a small box off at my house containing the most beautiful Ada earrings from Tiger Lilly. Initially I had received a $25 gift card for Tiger Lilly from Dress Rush, a company that provides coupons and daily deals for brides. I wasn't sure if I wanted to purchase anything from Tiger Lilly considering the high shipping costs ($8), but when the last day to use the coupon came around (10/31), I decided to go ahead and order anyway. (It helped that they provided the option to pay through paypal!) I figured if the earrings were not wedding-worthy, then I could wear them as normal earrings with any outfit I had.

To my surprise and excitement, these earrings are definitely wedding worthy! They are very sparkly and MUCH prettier in person than they are in the pictures online. I think they will go perfectly with my wedding dress! The earrings are approximately 1.5 inches long providing a nice and dangly look. They also come in sterling silver which works out perfectly for me since I wear more silver than gold. Tiger Lilly even included instructions for cleaning the jewelry!

Tiger Lilly did a magnificent job packaging my earrings if not being a little too careful. The box I received in the mail was not obviously jewelry since it was a bit big. You can tell that they think highly of their jewelry since they package it in a box and send it via UPS (instead of just bagging it and sending it through USPS. So even though shipping costs are high, the money is obviously used to make sure that you do in fact receive your jewelry. The earrings themselves came in a smaller cute box with the company's logo image of a tiger lilly on it. Very cute indeed!

The jewelry from Tiger Lilly is exquisite and it seems as though the company takes great efforts to make sure you receive your order within a short amount of time packaged so that your jewelry arrives in pristine condition. I would definitely encourage other women, including brides, to take a look at what Tiger Lilly has to offer!

I was not provided with any compensation or object for this review. These are my personal opinions regarding the company at hand.

Paper Coterie book

As much as I dislike* the Paper Coterie program for editing...

and the style of the books...

I had won a few gift cards for Paper Coterie that I ended up using yesterday to create a book of engagement pictures that I will be sharing with mine and Justin's family.

You can check out the book I made here or go create a book of your own.

*See my review of Paper Coterie here.

Sneak Peak

Over the weekend Justin and I began working on something exciting for the wedding!



Excited yet?! We are!

Invitations & Sam Flax Review

After my wonderful find of vintage stamps, I was sooo excited to finish my Save-the-dates and begin my invitations! I have to admit that just being excited doesn't get you very far. Justin and I began looking at our paper options on Friday afternoon and we decided to use a linen paper in our wedding stationary.  We tried printing our Save-the-date on both white and cream cardstock. Then my heart dropped as I recalled my distaste for color and color matching*. Knowing what all was involved in trying to match color, I knew Justin and I had to find someone to help. We ended up taking our Save-the-date to a printer in Decatur. Three dollars later and I felt much better having seen that they could get a much better color with their printer than I could on my own.

Our experience with the printer and looking at paper encouraged Justin and I to take a short trip to Sam Flax to get some "inspiration" and a linen-type paper for experimentation. As Atlanta creatives may or may not know, Sam Flax recently moved from their glorious location... to an old Kroger. I guess you don't need to imagine my feelings regarding this move. Not only did they have a smaller paper selection, and nothing that could be used to emboss with, they also had an awful humming sound created by the light fixtures in this old building. It was awful and not at all what you would expect from a store that is suppose to create excitement for artistic opportunities! The store inevitably felt like a warehouse (like Home Depot or Sam's Club) but with an awfully annoying noise that was very likely to give you a headache. So yes, Atlantans, if you must go to Sam Flax for some type of artistic project be prepared to leave uninspired and have a headache.**

On a positive note, Justin and I picked out a Japanese cherry blossom looking print that may end up in our invitations somehow!

*During the summer of 2010, I had trouble matching the color of a vintage photo I had "fixed". It resulted in my getting X-Rite and spending hours upon hours working to match color in Photoshop and with my brand new printer. I ended up taking it to Wolf and they succeeded in color matching for me.
**Keep in mind that Sam Flax has only been at their new location for a short time and they may improve. An alternative to Sam Flax (other than Michaels or JoAnn's) would be Utrecht (which I haven't visited in years). 

Another day at the Anthro Store

While Anthropologie has always been my favorite store, only recently (this year) have I been enjoying it just a bit too much. *shrugs* Justin thinks the clothes at Anthropologie are well made, so he had no problem buying me a few things in the sales rack over the weekend.

Last Blooming Skirt from Anthropologie
Justin and I had been watching this skirt since it first came to Anthro stores back in July. I thought it was adorable, but there was no way I was willing to shell out the $100+ for it. (So we waited until it came down in price x2). The skirt has lovely little accents like the bee on the waist and the embroidered pollen on the pink flower. I also love that it is very similar to a circle skirt. I haven't really found anything to wear with it yet, but I am so excited to add it to my wardrobe! With all of the bright colors and the very muted beige color that the skirt is, I'm certain something in my closet will look lovely with this skirt!


This purchase, the Pansy Corset Trench Coat (also from Anthropologie) was not at all expected as I did not even know the coat existed! We spotted it in the clearance section and fell in love. I always love the unexpected details Anthro throws into their clothes like the corset back of this coat! So pretty! This coat is really fun to wear! As you may notice on the Anthropologie site, the coat fits a bit tight in the bust/shoulders area, but it looks absolutely amazing through the waist and hips with a very flattering hourglass fit. Also worth noting is that the coat is not waterproof. Still worth the money in my opinion since it is such a lovely coat!

Anthropologie's Fair Lady Trench Coat
I knew this coat was on sale from the last time I was looking in clearance and that is why I wanted to go back and get a second look. I remembered loving it from first sight back when I took my bridesmaids dress looking. Come time for a second look, I ended up passing on it. The sleeves fit me better on this coat than the red coat, but I found the buttons to be awkward and confusing.  It's also a really plain color and has a hard time competing with... bright red coats.

So... if you LOVE Anthropologie and you want one of the items I just mentioned, I'd suggest you head to your nearest Anthro store and see what clearance you can find!

Cheaper Ways to be a Bride

Since I began my journey in bridedom, I have found a variety of ways to make the wedding day cheaper. Unfortunately, not all of those methods could be incorporated into my own wedding.  I suppose it may have helped had I been researching long before actually being proposed to.  (I had at least 7 years!)  However, I decided that I would have plenty of time between the proposal and the wedding to plan an incredibly cheap ceremony and reception that would be beyond magnificent and worthy of every magazine publication that ever existed.  I was WRONG!

Let me share some awesomely creative ways to make your wedding cheaper so that you don't make my mistake.

1.  Location --

a)  Plan an off-season wedding.  You will more than likely get cheaper rates.  In our case, even though use of the catering company was mandatory for the use of the property, because we were having our wedding in the off season we were able to bring in our own caterer (for less money than the property's catering service).

b)  Ask for extras to be included in the total price.  Justin and I managed to get chair and table rental to be included in the price of the property rental.  Yay!  That saved us quite a bit of money!

c)  Find a location that is already decorated.  It will save money later.  (I promise.)

d)  Work with the location to lower the fees.  In our case you had to be a member of the church in order to use it for free.  Otherwise the cost was going to be $500.  Ouch.

2.  Attire --

a)  Find a dress on the sales rack and embellish it with a belt or bolero.  Dresses are expensive, but you may be able to create your perfect dress without paying more for it.

b)  Apparently you can add clip-on earrings to your heels to jazz them up!

c)  For a formal affair that is light on your bridesmaids budgets, choose a dress color (like black) that they probably already have in their closet.

d)  Flower girls can shop at department stores for cute dresses to wear during the wedding.  It's cheaper on mom's budget and it is still super cute!

e)  Men can wear suits instead of tuxes for the wedding.  Most probably have a black suit somewhere in their closet.

3.  Vendors --

a)  Only schedule and pay for the time you need.  Plan ahead and think about the time it will take for you to get ready all the way up until you depart from the reception.

b)  Ab(use) family and friends.  It's amazing what kind of help they can provide!

4.  Decor --

a)  Shop around.  Craigslist, Goodwill, garage sales.

b)  Enter contests!  Search twitter, facebook, google.

c)  Use things found around your house. (or your neighbor's best friend's cousin's house.  Whatever.)

5.  Invitations, Guestbook, Menu --

a)  Use vintage postage.  It can save you 30% or more.  (And it looks awesome!)

b)  Create your own!  You can completely personalize invites by shopping around for paper, printing yourself, using rubber stamps, hole punches, etc, etc...  (If you need help printing, seek a local printer.  It is still cheaper and more personal than buying your invites pre-made.)

c)  There are so many guestbook ideas!  You can use your guestbook as decor (like a wishing tree) or just do a simple thumbprint guestbook. (Style Unveiled offers one for free!)

d)  Recently couples have been doing a single menu on a chalkboard rather than having an individual menu for each person.  What a great idea!



Any other suggestions for getting married cheaply that I have not thought of?!?

Postage Stamps!

I swooned over the images from Martha Stewart (and the like) of wedding invitations covered in vintage stamps, but as of Monday I thought vintage stamps were out of my reach.  I contacted multiple stores who were completely unhelpful.  I sought advice on google, and I researched the postage sellers that they mentioned.  None of it was helpful though, because they all wanted more money for postage than I was willing to spend.

I had contacted a seller (Stamps Unlimited) on 10/17 in Atlanta who said he might be able to help me out.  When I called him, he had changed his mind.  He didn't think he had what I was looking for, but I was free to come in.  I decided "what the heck!" and I went in.  He had a box full of 30% off stamps that he was willing to sell to me.  My parents sat with me for a good 2 hours (maybe 3) going through these stamps picking out colors and designs.  I had a really hard time imagining what my invitations would look like, but I knew that however they looked, these stamps would make that look complete.

Following my trip to Stamps Unimited, I found what would have been useful advice for vintage stamp looking brides like myself.  Apparently, if you go here and find the numbers of the stamps you are looking for, you can use ebay to see if anyone has that stamp possibly buying it below retail.  (Also you can use companies like Zazzle to create your own vintage designed stamp.)

Warning: You may fall in love with vintage stamp collecting!

A Successful Weekend

What all did we accomplish?

- Heard back from a company about obtaining postage for as much as 30% under retail cost!
- Rehearsal dinner dress = 85% complete!
- Registration list = started.
- More decorations were obtained...
- China completed:
      cups = 87%
      saucers & dessert plates = 84%
      plates = 51%

and finally...

- The Princess Bride + My  Drunk Kitchen = watched.  (Obviously the most important accomplishment of the weekend.)

Yay!

Santa Claus is following us on twitter!

China, China, & China (Not the Country)

Why is that the weekends seem to go by sooooooo fast?! Just as you start to pull your life together (or wedding), the weekend ends and you are back to work again. It never fails.

The majority of our weekend was devoted to garage sales. While we did get a large assortment of tea cups and saucers, there was one find that just blew me away.  One lady was getting rid of a $3 JC Penny blue blanket that I knew would be perfect for Justin's bed. It was soooo soft and in absolutely perfect condition. And it looks absolutely perfect on Justin's bed, by the way.

We worked on cleaning Justin's apartment before enjoying a fun dinner out at Taqueria and cupcakes from Carolyn's with some of Justin's coworkers.

On Sunday Justin sewed on the dress I will wear to the rehearsal dinner (which is looking awesome by the way!) and I created our registry (which I am so excited about!). I still find it funny how much we have accomplished since January and yet... it seems there is sooo much more to do! Maybe by March we will have it all done!

--------------------------

As an aside, I just wanted to acknowledge the loss of an amazing business man, Steve Jobs. I cannot imagine my life without the creation of Apple. (Especially since Justin just upgraded me to Lion.)

Mandy's Melt Down

What a week! And it's already Wednesday!

I'm still hunting for vintage stamps. Someone at my alma mater posted that she had a box of stamps she wanted to give away, and I am (sooo) hoping that I was the first to respond asking for them. I've also e-mailed a few stores around the Atlanta area in hopes that they can help (even if that means giving me another lead).

In other news, I freaked out on Monday night about my save-the-dates. I had some critique from my parents. That combined with my being tired resulted in... major stress. You know... AAAaaahhh! And pulling my hair out. That kind. Luckily, I think I have everything worked out now to a point in which I am happy. (Or at least content.)

Tonight Justin and I are going to sign a lease for our reception location! After our last location was transformed into an office resulting in five more months of looking, I will be SOOOO EXCITED to finally be done! And s'mores! lots and lots of s'mores! Yay!

A Love that's Warm and Bright

Who isn't loving this cooler weather? I won't lie. I am ready for warm drinks, blankets, a fire, and a good book!

Last week was rather exciting and a little busy. Justin and I went to the Fox on Wednesday night to see Wicked with his friend Edgar. It was not quite what I was expecting and yet exactly what I was expecting. The story of the wicked witch was enchanting and I loved how The Wizard of Oz was incorporated into the story. I think the details along with the choreography really made the story.

Following our late night out at the Fox, on Thursday we went to Justin's dad's retirement party. His dad took us on a tour of the Kroger sorting facility before a meal of barbecue and dessert at Café Intermezzo.

As far as wedding planning, Justin and I got a variety of things accomplished but nothing specific. Justin spent most of his time working on my rehearsal dinner dress while I researched djs/bands. We also finished getting silverware for the reception as well as some window panes that I have no idea what we will do with! I'm hoping a creative and exciting idea will come to me!

Justin and I will have a lot of decisions to make this week. Our photographer e-mailed us saying that she is pregnant and due within 2 weeks of our wedding. She offered two options for us to think about. We also heard back from our potential reception site. We are looking to go book on Wednesday if everything works out.

Any suggestions as to what to do with our window panes would be wonderful! Thus far we have seen window panes used as menus and seating charts.

Picking a Date

Over the weekend my mom asked me why Justin and I are planning on marrying in March. Here is what it came down to:

1. Wedding season in GA lasts from April/May to October. We were trying to go the cheaper route by marrying in the off-season so that we might could get some discounts.

2. We didn't want dates/months that other people had. Justin's mom said not to get married in May since she has Mother's Day, her birthday, and her wedding anniversary all right then. My parent's anniversary was in February. Justin's sister's birthday is in January. And Justin has some other friends that married in January. My birthday is in July and Justin's is in August so I didn't want to touch those months. Justin and I have a few friends that married in June (not to mention one of our bridesmaids has her birthday then). My aunt and uncle were married (their second wedding) in December.

3. We didn't want to be typical and (abuse holidays. This took out Valentine's Day and the month of February (in general).

4. We/I wanted some of the reception outside which took out May through September also January and February.

5. We wanted our friends to come without having Christmas totally deplete them of money and keep them from attending. This excluded November through February. (I <3 Black Friday!)

*catches breath* This left March (which is a good month for cherry blossoms!).

I think the only thing we may be conflicting with is St. Patrick's Day! And who really pays attention to that anyway?

(As to the actual day, we were going for something close to our first day of dating 8/8/04. This left either December or a week day. We/I decided to suck it up and just deal with the 10. What's in a date anyway? :-P)

Weekend Update

Over the weekend:

Justin bought a dining room table and installed a light fixture in his apartment dining room. It looks awesome, and I will certainly take a picture at some point to prove its awesomeness!

Justin and I were compared to sunshine and happiness. lol. I'll be honest – it made my day!

One of the groomsmen thought they would all be wearing pink to the wedding. Also an awesome moment!

My aunt donated some China to my wedding cause which was much appreciated!

Overall, I think it was a good weekend. :)

Wedding News, A Review, & 9/11

Yesterday was quite a day with the 9/11 remembrance ceremonies and services. I shall eternally be grateful for the men and women who risked their lives, lost their lives, and the families of those people that may still be suffering from the consequences of 9/11 to this day. I heard a lot of stories yesterday that touched me... especially one particular story a mom told about her 26 year old son on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center and how no one above floor 95 made it out alive. They were just normal people going to work that day, and they had no reason to believe that anything out of the ordinary would happen.

I won't go into details but I was just in high school at the time of 9/11/01. I did not fully understand what was happening, and I'm afraid to say that I still don't completely understand. I don't think any of us will for a very long time.

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On a happier note, I received the book I spent hours working on at Paper Coterie.

It was fun to receive in the mail, but, having tried other book-making sites, I found this one to be on-par or worse than others. The book looks very much like a child's story book. Cute, functional, but not very impressive.

Creating the book was time consuming (they always are), but the company did not offer many ideas about how to display pictures on the page. There were also not enough backgrounds. I would have preferred to choose the style of the book and be able to select any background I wanted rather than only being able to choose backgrounds that were similar to the style of the book I chose. I was also unable to tell how the side images of the book fit with the cover image. After printing was complete, I discovered my side image was off by a few inches. Very disappointing. The fonts that they had to choose from were lovely though!

Overall, the book creation process was a bit difficult and the book is very simple in design. I would love to see Paper Coterie make the design process a bit easier, provide more options, and to improve the standards of their book-making providing professional looking books rather than the storybook style.

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Finally, I am soooo excited because I just found out that a long-time friend from Germany is planning to fly to Atlanta for my wedding! I don't think he's ever been to the U.S. and so I know he must be nearly as excited as I am for him to be coming!

Then, on top of that, my fiancé just got a raise and a promotion! Go Justin!

Over the weekend, we ordered a few of our engagement pictures from PPR. I've never used a professional printing service, so I am really excited to see the quality of the pictures and the paper that they use. ;We should get our pictures back on Wednesday.

Wacky Weekend

I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking, but I thought 3 days off would be calming... relaxing... easy...

not so much.

Justin and I stayed busy the entire weekend. We celebrated his birthday with family, went shopping for me clothes and instead found tea cups and saucers for the wedding (in pink and blue!), celebrated his grandmother's wedding, and went shopping with my two bridesmaids (which is an experience I will not soon forget!).

Unfortunately, I am still going crazy over wedding stationery. I e-mailed my 2 bridesmaids tonight, and then realized how much easier it would be if my wedding website were complete and we could communicate through a single website or e-newsletters. Unfortunately, I know very little about servers and my fiancé cannot seem to get the server prepped for wordpress. :(

We are trying to figure out how to handle bridesmaid attire as my two bridesmaid cannot seem to agree on a single style dress. I'm sure we will get it all figured out, but I am fairly certain that I am more patient in dealing with this than they are.

I've also been researching places to print professional photos. I would like to print a few sets of my engagement pictures and put them in a nice envelope for some family, but I'm not sure where to print. I may try a few places.

We received our Kitchenaid mixer from Amazon but we were sorely disappointed in that it seems to be making a sound?! We are planning on sending it back, but I know I (and perhaps Justin) was hoping we could start baking cupcakes soon. :)

Luckily, we have amazing family and friends that are willing to help us get things done! I'm not sure what we would do without them!

Justin's Birthday (& STDs)

This Wednesday was Justin's birthday. In celebration, I got him a Boston cream cake, which inevitably had too much icing. Go figure. I even had to go to multiple grocery stores just to find it! Later this weekend, we will be having a birthday dinner with his family - probably fish. Hopefully he had a good birthday.

I've been furiously working on Save-the-dates and trying to come up with a theme for our wedding stationery. Recently I've been on a vintage kick trying everything from using instagram to old style patterns. I'm not quite sure what I am hoping will come of it, but I am trying every option I can think of.

This weekend we are planning on taking our bridesmaids to look for dress styles/patterns they like, so that we can get started on that. I think Justin and I are both looking forward to a nice loooooooonnnnnnngggg 3 day weekend. :)

Glamour Shots (& Other News)

Over the weekend, Justin and I went to Glamour Shots to have some fun pictures taken. It was the last weekend of their free 8x10 promotion, and I had been wanting to do Glamour Shots since I was... very young. We get in there and everything is going well. We reserve our date, we sign the form, we agree that I will pay $7 for hair and make-up, and they start doing my hair. First of all the hair and makeup artist is sub-par. Not once did I see her clean any of her materials. Furthermore, halfway through the shoot my hair has completely fallen!

Otherwise, Justin and I had a lot of fun. We brought lots of props and we joked with the photographer. I brought this really awesome vintage parasol, some Izze drinks with paper straws, and a few books. The backgrounds shot on were awesome, and I had my amazing Anthropologie dresses. I felt super cute.

After the shoot, they tell us to go walk the mall for 30 minutes while they finish their editing. When we came back in, they told us we had to either pay $7 for the hair and make-up and not get the free 8x10 or $20 for hair and make-up and get the 8x10. I fought them tooth and nail on that. I explained it was bad business practice and that I wouldn't have gotten my hair and makeup done at the extravagant $20 price. Further, we had already signed a sheet saying we were paying $7 for hair and make-up. They gave it to us. Yay! So then we get to look at our pictures... They play this awful slideshow with terrible music... And then proceed to ask us which images we like. We couldn't believe it! Out of 90 shots, we only liked 5!!! And even those were subpar. Having interned in photography, I understand the ropes... and those shots SUCKED! Hair was all over the place, the neck looked awkwardly elongated, crops were awkward, even a few of the shots had Justin's head cropped!! Who in the world gets paid to screw up as badly as they did?!?! I was expecting... beauty... not crud. I want to look my best in these pictures... not with hair sticking up awkwardly, curls framing my face (even more awkwardly)... and I won't go on from there.

My point: NEVER EVER EVER go to Glamour Shots. End rant.

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Today I've been working on the Save-the-dates. I came up with this fabulous idea of playing "instagram" with one of our engagement photos. It came out super cute. I'm not completely sold on it just yet. I want to play with the border a bit and the text, but other then that I feel like it's one of my best save-the-date ideas yet. I think we are going to print it as a postcard and buy vintage stamps to mail it out. Doesn't that sound like fun?! :)

Still Working...

This week I ended up taking a momentary break from wedding related things since I wasn't feeling well.

Instead, my fiancé and I took a drive up to Jasper to pick up his wedding ring. We then made a pitstop in Marietta to look in antique stores. We walked all the way around the square and we stopped in every S.I.N.G.L.E. antique shop. We saw everything from old medical supplies, to records, photography equipment, clothes, old sewing tools, patterns, china, so on and so forth... We even stopped in a local cupcake shop for a s'mores cupcake! Mmm!

Justin managed to get his truck fixed on Sunday while I rested and worked on stds. Crazy as it may seem, I am almost thinking my current design is too modern for the style of wedding we are having and thus may need to be reworked. *le sigh* I'm sure I will figure it all out soon!

Halfway Mark!

My fiancé and I have made it halfway through our engagement (not totally) unscathed!

We felt rather productive (regarding the wedding) this weekend even though we were extremely busy with non-wedding things.

On Friday, I went and bought an amazing couch that we hope to use in our wedding photography. My dad bought this amazing trunk that my fiancé and I are also planning on using at our reception. Finally, I picked out some unique tea cups (45) and saucers (70-ish) that we will be using at the wedding. It was quite exciting. After Justin got off work on Friday, he and I took care of some other big expense items that will make our lives easier following the wedding. (In my opinion, the couch will make our lives easier... because it's awesome! But what do I know?)

Then, yesterday, I got to show my grandparents my engagement pictures. I went ahead and purchased all of them. I'm planning on putting together little photography packages for my grandparents and Justin's parents when the photos come in.

We got to spend some nice relaxing time with my grandparents before heading home today.

On our way home, Justin spotted a jewelry store that was going out of business. We stopped in and lo-and-behold, he found his perfect wedding ring for approximately half of it's original price. Obviously, he bought it and we are expecting it to come in sometime during the week. We might go looking at antique stores for more tea cups and saucers when it comes in? The last stop of the day was at a bridal show where I spoke with a few djs/bands and one company that provides servers for the reception food. I will be looking these companies up and trying to figure out who else needs to be hired (or not) before the "big" day.

Luckily, along with the big ticket expenses Justin and I made over the weekend, Justin also came to a decision about who he wants in the wedding party. It is so nice to not have him stressing over that!

I was quite a bit stressed spending so much money this weekend, but I am also grateful that a lot of the spending is over-with. I don't have purchases sitting on my shoulders that I know need to happen. All I really need to be worrying about is getting the creative work completed. I will be sooo glad when this all comes together (im)perfectly!

Craziest Year Ever

When Justin proposed to me on Christmas eve this past year, I thought things could not get any crazier. My family was going through a difficult time and no one was having a particularly good December. Crazy as it seems, I thought things would settle down! Things have settled to an extent, but Justin and I still find ourselves extremely busy.

I started researching photographers in January and I searched for two months until I found someone I was comfortable with. We drove up to Nashville to meet with Dove Photography and we were sold! They were awesome to speak with and the lovely Whitney had attended school under some of the same professors that I was aware of at UGA. How awesome is that!

Then Justin and I sought out a reception location... that we can no longer use.

We followed that up by seeking an awesome florist like Amy Osaba. I was a bit confused from our first meeting with her, but Justin managed to get things straightened out.

All the while we've been meeting with Father Tim Hepburn of GA Tech trying to get pre-marital counseling out of the way.

And don't even talk to me about dress looking! It took me almost 2 months to find a dress I liked enough to order. Meanwhile I stressed my parents and friends out!

Over the weekend we found an awesome coordinator we are excited to work with! And this weekend we hope to make a decision on our reception location. Then we move on to decorations, food, and stationary! Ack!!!

I think the worst part is that some of my friends don't understand that when I say I'm busy over the weekend with my fiancé, we are typically trying to sort some wedding dilemma out. I do have to say that the greatest reward will come on the day of our wedding when we both know we have given our all to make this day special and "perfect" for us!

Has anybody else gone crazy while engaged or am I alone?

Amy Neben's The Bride's Book of Lists


When I first started planning, I was not looking for bridal books. I figured what could be available in a book that I can't find online? I decided to follow a random bride's advice and obtained Bridal Bargains Wedding Planner (by Denise and Alan Fields) to help me plan the wedding; I thought it would offer suggestions on how to save money when purchasing wedding things. I think I paid around $3 for a used copy on Amazon. Unfortunately, this was a very disappointing purchase. At the end of my wedding, I will end up trashing the book feeling that it was almost entirely useless. There are a few ideas and some list-making help, but in general the book only provides general wedding knowledge that can be found online.

I'm not quite sure how I heard about The Bride's Book of Lists, but I am very glad I purchased it. The lists in the book include questions and general advice on talking with and purchasing from wedding vendors. I do not feel that the author Amy Neben is trying to tell me how to go about doing my wedding planning, but rather she is saving me time by providing all of the lists I need in one place. (It is also quite relaxing to go through and see all of the things I have checked off. It makes me feel accomplished.)

If I could re-do Neben's book, I might also have included places for magazine cut-outs and a list of guests. Otherwise her book includes every list you could possibly need for wedding planning! If you are a bride, I definitely encourage going out and purchasing it!

Overview - Who We Are

While this blog was created mostly for family and friends to keep up with our wedding planning, I decided an overview of myself and Justin might be a good idea for new friends that may be following our humble, little blog.

I am Mandy:
part-time nanny, part-time graphic design intern
photographer, crafter

He is Justin:
work-a-holic (GA Tech graduate, computer engineer)
fantastic cook (and great at every other thing imaginable!)

We met many, many, many years ago. In elementary school.

But I would have nothing to do with him.

Until senior year of high school. We went to prom as friends and within 3 months, we were dating.

Six and a half years later, on Christmas eve, he proposed at Café Intermezzo completely blindsiding me. It didn't matter. I said yes. He had hand picked every aspect of my engagement ring out, "borrowed" one of my rings to obtain my finger size, and asked my dad behind my back. (What was I suppose to say? No????)

Now we are planning our wedding. Hand picking every aspect. I spent 2 months researching photographers, 2 months searching for a dress AT EVERY STORE IN ATLANTA, and I am now going on 1 month looking for a coordinator.

When we started planning, I was going for something plain and simple. Now our wedding can be described in these five words: pink, blue, lace, flowers, vintage. Oh - with some awesome black and white photography thrown in! (Did I mention the cupcakes???!)

Feel free to follow our blog as we prepare for the biggest, most important day in our relationship thus far!

Florals

Cherry blossom reception decoration choices

Who knew there were so many choices?

Justin and I received our Townecraft cookware today in the mail that we got from last week's "win".

On a side note, my mom and I will be having a Mary Kay makeover on Thursday thanks to a "win" at a bridal show.

Inspiration Board

Top left to right: vintage dresses (prettymuchart.blogspot.com), dress (Casablanca), hair (Style Me Pretty), church (capturedessencephotoblog.com), florals (Amy Osaba), stamp (USPS), calligraphy (etsy - Terbearco), car (etsy - Vol25), rosary (etsy - RosyCathy), image (Ruffled Blog), cupcake (enchanteddreamweddings.com), pink straws (etsy - HeyYoYo), aqua straws (voyageoutletmonde.blogspot.com), image (thebottomoftheironingbasket.blogspot.com), champagne, cake plates (Target), magnolia wreaths (laceandtea.com), I-spy (weddingbee.com), mini cakes (weddingmagazine.co.uk)

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain 2007

It is lovely when your fiancé says that no matter how difficult the struggle, you will make it through together.

Dinner tomorrow with friends
Meeting with coordinator on Thursday
Engagement photo session Saturday with Kelly L Photography!