Thursday, October 30, 2008

#413: yes. you. can.

via ever fab daisy chain.

#412: tip this.

our venue reminds me of 'semi homemade with sandra lee'. because it includes 95% of all-things-needed-for-a-wedding-reception, i (very brilliantly) will not have to hire outside what the venue already provides. instead, i can focus on tweaking small things here and there along the way to make the venue and the event reflective of "us".

and the best part? i won't have to carry around a big wad of cash on the day-of to tip multiple vendors. awe. some.

i will not be tipping (because i will not be using...):
a caterer
a makeup artist
a hairstylist
a florist
lighting specialists
linen people
chaircover people

am i missing anyone? the venue estimate is inclusive of 19% gratuity (servers, bartenders) so i don't think i need to tip anyone there, right?

wait, so does this mean i really have no one to tip on the day-of?

freaking awesome.

oh wait, i might hire a dj. who i'd then have to tip. but then again, i might just use an ipod.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#411: badassness.

my first 'featured guest'? um, more like 'SUPERSTAR'.

post #407 had a lot of you drooling. i rule! nah, i'm joking, it was all kimi. and like you, i was dying to know how she did what she did. so i reached out to her and she graciously agreed to give us the deets. i'm sure her words will inspire you as much as they did me. enjoy.


I am not a wedding person. Before I met my now-husband I had never even entertained the thought of getting married, let alone having a big wedding. If I'd had my way we would have run off to the woods and gotten married by ourselves, and then had a big party afterwards. But other people had other (strong) opinions. So a slightly more traditional shindig it was. But I decided to make as many things as possible, so it would feel more 'me', from invitations to favors to The Dress.

Not being a wedding person, I am also definitively not a wedding-dress person. I went into a couple of bridal stores but promptly ran out hyperventilating before even looking at anything. After a couple of J.Crew dresses that had to be returned due to total cleavage obscenity, I ordered a cheapo sheath dress from Target. It was so cheapo ($68 on sale) that I really held out no hopes for it. But when it arrived, it fit perfectly and was made of quite decent material. I thought to myself, If you don't want to be typical, here's your chance to get creative. I quickly ordered a 2nd one as a backup, just in case my attempts backfired. I mean, they were $68 for pete's sake.

After many experiments with cutting into the dress, fabric flowers, paint, beads etc., I decided on cutout silhouettes. I went to fabric stores and in the dusty basement of one found a kind of flocked velvet backed with acrylic. If it was regular velvet, or any other normal fabric, the edges would have shredded with the thin delicate shapes I was planning. There aren't really any d.i.y. instructions because they would have to say "Be an Artist and Graphic Designer Like Me", which isn't very helpful. I just took a pair of scissors and went at it—but there are tons of patterns on the web that people could trace. I cut out hundreds of leaves and vines and animals until I had shapes that looked good. Then I took the clean dress and laid it out on the floor and began arranging all the pieces until I got a pattern I liked. Then the hot glue gun came out (superglue also works I discovered later, and I was too lazy to even try fabric glue). I attached a piece of netting to extend the train and glued more trailing leaves down that. Several weeks-worth of evenings later, I had my dress. It has birds, deer, mice, our initials, a big fox, and the words we have inscribed in our rings—"It's all true". Meaning every dream, every fairytale, every story about dragons or empires or even true love, it's simply all true.

And then came the wedding. And even though it poured and we couldn't get married outside, it was lovely. A friend gave us the gift of an original composition for harp and string quartet, his father did an audience-participation jug band, and all these new yorkers got drunk and played washtub bass. The location was an Audubon center in beautiful prospect park in Brooklyn, so bird mobiles were everywhere and we got married next to a giant fiberglass chipmunk. The dress was a smashing success. Everyone wrote and drew such lovely things in the little books. Everyone took the paper flowers and adorned themselves with them, and everything and everyone looked gorgeous.

And that's the story of my wedding and my dress. I'm thinking re-commitment ceremony with yet another dress, in the woods, with a decorated umbrella. Just in case of rain.

The End.

(And there's a brief story of another dress. We had always planned on doing a mountaintop ceremony, just the two of us, sharing personal vows. So I made a 2nd dress for it, using an old silk nightgown of mine with leaves of matching silk that I hot-glued onto it, with a train of leaves in back. It's a pretty risqué dress when worn, not appropriate for the web, so I'm only attaching a picture of it hanging up. The dress brought tears to the boy's eyes, and it was all beautiful, even though it was raining again and we once again had to stay indoors.)

For anyone who wants to see more pics, click here to view our flickr set. I feel incredibly honored that people love my dress and want to know more about it.


{thank you kimi.}

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

#410: hunting.

i plan to go hunting this weekend.

for stuff, that is.

because as you know, or maybe you don't know yet, i'm trying my best to stay away from doing the typical floral centerpiece arrangement thing.

1) i don't think i can afford a florist.
2) flowers die. (not to sound cynical. but it does make me feel better to say it over and over in my head.)
3) if i go the diy route, i'd rather do it over the next 7 months as opposed to hurting myself and those within arm's reach the day before the wedding.
4) and even if i'm capable of DOING IT ALL (far from it!) and SOMEhow magically arrange flower centerpieces the day before the wedding, there are no guarantees they'll come out any good. and i still may have to hurt someone afterward.

so for inspiration, i'm going to a flea market this weekend. a good trip will be if i actually buy something. but mostly, i'll be there to scope the scope and take some notes.

i'm hoping to find something kind of like this:

via aid to artisans.

or of course, this. hubba.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


i'm not really a 'pink' person.

via snippet and ink.

but. i'm definitely "feminine and complex". and even more so a huuuge fan of this color combo. copper and pink? who would have thought, right? and how pretty and warm is it? so pretty. so warm.

i need to start collecting copper urns. stat.


p.s. i think we found a venue for our shindiggity. will share when it's confirmed...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

#407: that don't impress me much.

hey shania, where are you?


that don't impress me much. that used to be my anthem. and it still kind of is. i think my ex-bf in college struggled with my 'meh'ness the most; i was probably the most unimpressed girlfriend he'd ever had in his life. it was (really) fun at the time to see him try so hard (i was 19 and didn't know much about respecting relationships yet. obviously.) but there was also something more than slightly unattractive about a guy who measured himself only by how "impressive" he could be.

i digress.

not much fazes me (um, except myself). i think it has something to do with the fact that i'm really lazy and yet totally opinionated. do lazy people even have the right to be opinionated? meh. fact is, i'm too lazy to get excited over something my opinionated self doesn't think is worth getting excited about.

getting to the point, though not much impresses me, i was struck by the awe-stick yesterday when i received an email from one of my 3 readers.

she took a $68 PLAIN WHITE target wedding dress and did a handy dandy number on it to make it hers. and by handy dandy, i mean something pretty amazing.

and then on top of that, she created her own paper flowers as part of the tablescape.

and then on top of THAT, she covered all of her matchbox favors (theme = animal love).

stunning, right? made me go daaaaaayyyyyyuuuuuummmmmm.

happy friday, ya'll.

{thanks kimi!}

#406: "newbie mistakes" series, post #4: i robbed...myself.


so. i've sort of been avoiding talking about this because...i'm...kind of...embarrassed. (well, that and i had to get the fiance to swear up and down that he would not EVER, ever, ever be lurking around this here least not until after the wedding...)

if you've been following TTO for the past few months, you'll know that 56 posts ago i shared that i bought my wedding dress. i also 'fessed that i bought it at a designer sample sale.

and then i haven't said much about it since.

i feel justified in sharing this experience as a 'newbie mistake' because i honestly went to the sample sale thinking i'd just try on a few dresses and call it a day. i mean, that's what i did at glamour closet (the ONE other bridal store i've ever been to). tried on dresses. called it a day. so never in my wildest dreams did i think i'd walk out of amy kuschel's sample sale after having entered just 1 hour earlier, with dress-in-hand, having bore a 10% hole in my budget. i shocked my friends, i shocked my mom, i shocked the fiance, and i shocked myself. in fact, it's been a few months and i'm still shocked.

so listen up, newbies, mmmkay. there's this THING called the 'sample sale trap'. and uh, while i obviously wasn't prepared to deal with it and had to learn a $1000 lesson, i'm thinking maybe my experience could help you save a few bucks (and potential heartache).

first, go to the sample sale knowing how much the dresses retail for. the blunder i made in my research was two-fold. 1) i didn't do enough. 2) i assumed most of the sample sale dresses would be of the lower priced assortment. not so, my friends. and why did i make that assumption in the first place? i don't know. maybe it had something to do with this other THING called 'wishful thinking'.

on a related note and second, throw away all scale-awareness, newbies. 30% off $3000 brings the price down to $2100. which i knew was way out of my budget. but after a few of those in a row, i somehow ended up at the point where i was, i'm getting the deal of the century with 50% off $2000! what i failed to remember was 50% off $2000 still meant the dress cost $1000. which was much more than i was planning to spend.

third, understand that a wedding dress sample sale is DIFFERENT from normal sample sales. no really, it is. i thought a wedding dress sample sale would be like any other sample sale i'd been to.

and it's so not. (what can i say. i was a newbie. i made a mistake.)

a normal sample sale doesn't do 'appointments only'. a normal sample sale doesn't have a dedicated sales associate fawning over you, offering affirmation after affirmation that that ONE dress you thought looked awesome does indeed look (more than) awesome. a normal sample sale doesn't have said sales associate helping you in and out of silky smooth luxurious-feeling gowns (dear sales associate: sorry for exposing myself to you no less than 20 times. only my future husband should have to endure such evils). can you see where i'm going here?

the attention, the lovely lights, feeling so pretty and feminine (neither of which i feel on a daily basis), and the staring that goes on when a dress looks 'soo right'...can get the best of your sensible judgement. so unless you're prepared to have these emotions and talk yourself out of it within 15 minutes (which is about how long i had before i had to say yes or no), just don't even go.

at the end of the day though, i acknowledge that it's my fault for listening to my inner shopaholic self instead of taking a second to imagine how i'd feel being out 10% of our wedding budget on a part of the wedding that wasn't really a priority for either of us.

which is why i'm saying i robbed myself. oh, i guess you could also say that i robbed the fiance as well since he wasn't part of this decision (oops! but i only had fifteen minutes!!).

anyways, lesson learned. and just so you know, my intention is to either sell the dress or donate it after use.


moment of zen:
i was totally tacky and didn't bother to hold in my astonishment uponst learning how much the dresses cost (see first point in lesson learned). and i kept saying out loud..."wow. these dresses are way out of my price range! i re-e-e-e-ally don't want to spend more than $500!" the sales associate eventually and understandably got tired of hearing it and asked "...then what are you doing at a sample sale?"

good question.

to show you my boobs?

moment of zen II:
couldn't end this post without showing you my dress. ready?






hm. thanks amy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#405: your daily dose of candy.


even daily candy has a wedding section.

read their budget friendly tips here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

#404: a handful.

via beckers blog.

Friday, October 17, 2008

#403: a picnic wedding.

sorry to mislead you.

i'm not really featuring a picnic wedding. though i will say that i've seen a good number of them (most of them budget-friendly, all of them fab) around the blog world lately. too bad i didn't see one in the past 5 minutes, otherwise i would have linked to it. to show you. how awesome they can be.


if i were going to have a picnic in a park, i think i'd want to serve jazzed up boxed lunches with finger-friendly foods as opposed to setting up a fancy buffet or hiring sit-down service. there's something about a park that screams 'cool casual'.

but...'boxed lunch' reminds me of 'brown bag'. which in turn reminds me of those ham and cheese sandwiches my mom would so lovingly make and pack along with some ritz crackers and a capri-sun for my elementary school field trips. as a kid, i wasn't too picky about food. but i do remember that the sandwiches were always totally soggy by lunchtime.

i don't remember anyone mentioning exactly what was served to the guests at these picnic or park weddings, in those boxes or prettied up brown bags. and i just really want to know. i'm a self-proclaimed MAYJAH foodie and all of our guests put good food rather high on their 'list of happy things'. and good food doesn't always mean expensive (hello, in-n-out = good sh*t!). but good food needs to be...good. aka not a soggy sandwich.

so, in your capacity as a picnic or park wedding guest, or bride, or caterer...or a reader who just wants to share a few palatable ideas, please shed some light on my curiosity.

via city of fullerton. (for fees, click here.)

other lovely city spots:

santa monica

la mountains

#402: hey baby('s breath, that is).

via the bride's cafe.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

#401: tie this.

via vintage glam.

my dad has tons of these hemp rope things in his garage, thick and thin. he uses the rope to holster bikes and his canoe to the garage ceiling. great DIY invitation idea, me thinks.

yes, he has a canoe.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

#400: the little mermaid.

so my identity is kind of anonymous. i mean, i've been bloggerating for 1.5 years and i've only told two people about it --- my sister and the fiance. if my friends know about TTO at all, it's because they stalk weddingbee and style-me-pretty religiously. and if they've somehow clicked onto this site and read about the proposal and all the other little tidbits that are my life, i'm sure they've pieced it together by now (hi friends!).

in the opening scene of 'the little mermaid', triton's daughters are performing a little doo-ditty to introduce their sister ariel. and they go through all of their own names to get to hers. and one of those names happens to be mine. (hint # gajillion)

though i'm not a mermaid in real life, i do love the water. and the sun. so it only makes sense for me to be drawn to venues as close to the pacific as possible. and this especially makes sense now that i'm fully on board the 'daytime wedding' train (or is it...wagon...?).

of course, i'm not the only one who loves the water. we all know that a wedding with any type of ocean view is a popular choice amongst brides, and is especially so in so-cal. which means it is, for the most part, also pry-say.

but i happened to stumble across a couple of venues that juuuust might work. that is, unless they nickel and dime me from the initial pricing lists that were posted on their sites. you know and i know all too well about all that 'if it's too good to be true...' business. well, so maybe it is. but i emailed them anyways. juuuust in case it really is good and really is true.

site #1:

site #2:

keeping the hope alive, friends. we'll see.

Monday, October 13, 2008

#399: prioritization in action. kind of.

after post #393, i got to thinking about the whole 'evening' requirement.

our main priority is to showcase our lifelong promise to each other and to also share that love with family. that's it. in fact, 80% of our guests are going to be family. aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, sibs, nieces, nephews, cousins. and 2nd cousins. and it made me wonder: why am i so hell bent on having a crazy blow-out nighttime party? i mean...if we want our wedding to be very simply, basically, and fundamentally about our love and our love for both of our families who've made us who we are today...why am i putting the heavy on the party-til-the-a.m. element.

yeah. it might have something to do with the fact that someone loves to party something tranny fierce. (guilty.)

and i got to thinking. that hey, a a party. doesn't matter what time of day, as long as the right people are there with you.

getting to the point: i've kind of been focusing on the wrong aspect of our wedding (and consequently, trying to cater to a crowd other than most of our guestlist!) so...whilst this whole time i've been stubbornly against a daytime wedding (not in general but for us), i'm no longer. and fiance agrees.

i know. i'm thick. it takes a while for me to get it. meh. but at least i did.

#398: one flower.

martha stewart via bridalwave.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

#397: it's a centerpiece weekend.

who cares about flowers when you could have tiered chandeliers on your table.

step one: print this picture.
step two: find all listings for fairs, flea markets, antique sales in l.a.
step three: recruit peeps (1 per wknd) to go shopping with me.
step four: buy a bacon-wrapped hot dog or a taco truck burrito and lemonade as thanks.
step five: run 3 miles the next day to work off the calories.

#396: clearly marked.

i'm having a *small* wedding so i don't think i'll be using these as table markers. but if i were having a lot of people milling around, i'd definitely consider using these big numbers.

a project that involves spraypainting? mos def.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

#395: what i am doing without.

or i should say...what i plan to do without.

1) rsvp cards. i mean. everyone has access to a computer somehow somewhere, right?
2) bouquet toss / garter toss. has anyone enjoyed this at all? like, ever?
3) engagement photo shoot.
4) cake cutting. what's. the. point. ok, actually, i might reneg on this one. because i really like cake. so if we're going to have cake, we might as well cut it.
5) program / menu cards. our ceremony and reception will hopefully be held in the same venue. and hopefully the ceremony will be short and sweet. which means the program really won't have much on it. which means we don't...need to have one...?

and just to balance it out, here are the must-haves.

1) father - daughter dance. i loves my dad.
2) writing our own vows.
3) music. makes the people. come together.

i think this may end up shocking some people. WHAT? no engagement photos?? WHAT? no bouquet toss?? WHAT? no menus??

but...what's more shocking than having a $10,000 wedding budget. nothing, really.

so maybe i should lead with that.

"i have a $10,000 wedding budget. oh, and i'm not planning to use rsvp cards."

"WHAT? $10,000???"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

#394: noteworthy.

via a desert fete.

ahem. please say hello to what will most definitely be the inspiration behind our invitations.

Friday, October 3, 2008

#393: i'd love to stay sane.

"i want this bad boy $10,000 budget to encompass everything...the venue the food the dress the booze the rings to the everything else. e-ver-y-thing." -me

yes, that was me. about 1.5 years ago. and wow, how things doth change with 1.5 years worth of reality checks.

so here's what i'm thinking:

$10,000 must include venue, food, drink, dress, dj, centerpieces, invitations.
$10,000 will not include photography, rings, honeymoon, gifts.

because my tag line is "can i do it?" and at this point, i'm really starting to feel like i can't. not with my original checklist.

the MUSTS:

  • 100-125 guest list (80% of that is family. so cutting further isn't an option.)
  • evening event with alcohol
and those 2 criteria are killing me larry. no matter how i slice and dice, i can't seem to make it work, not if the $10,000 has to include food + bev, PLUS photography, the rings, gifts, etc.

so what do you think of my re-write, now that i know about 20% service fees and 8.25% sales tax charges? and cake cutting fees, dance floor fees, site fees, security fees...

does it make my budget more reasonable? or is it a cop-out?

#392: the dog did not eat my homework.

here's the round up of research conducted this week by yours truly in part thanks to you and your brilliance.

cliff's edge - left vm
ortolan - min buyout $15000
luna park - min buyout $10000
royal t - left vm
cafe metropol - waiting for pictures from the owner

additionally, i've contacted:
yamashiro - $12000 for 125 (food & alcohol)
savannah at the beach - $15000 for 125 (all inclusive)
bld - waiting for the events person to call me back
tesoro trattoria - left vm
bungalow club - emailing with owner (thanks sarah and dana!)
ca del sol - approx. $15000
the sunset restaurant - what was i thinking
westlake village inn - again, what was i thinking
greenside cafe - emailing with the coordinator

#391: introducing...friday edition.

i've decided to start a 'friday edition' series...a collection of images that allow me to share more of myself, the fiance, and our relationship with you.

i don't know why. i just wanna fanta.

the title of this friday's edition: his socks.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

#390: tuft made pretty.

toole art via lucky me!.

so unique and ruggedly pretty.

and diy-able, i'd think.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

#389: method (wo)man.

i am not an event planner.

so instead of reinventing the wheel and limiting myself to my own research, i've reached out to several industry experts to help me.

first, there was this. their response was quick and sweet but alas, no matches with their affiliated partners and my paltry budget.

and then there was this. did i ask for help? i surely did. did they have any suggestions for me? not yet. but i just sent a follow up email. so we'll see.

and finally, you'll find my most recent call for help the form of a mass email to a bunch of caterers.

Hello Caterers: I found your information courtesy Brides Magazine, Southern California and was hoping you could help me.

I'm trying to
1) find a location
2) stick with a budget of $8,000 for 100-125 people for *fabulous* food and alcohol
3) throw an awesome wedding party

I'm based in Los Angeles but I'm open to suggestions for the SFV, OC, anywhere within 40 minutes drive of LA.

If you have ANY ideas, as far fetched as they may be, for venues or catering or ANYthing that would help me stay within my budget, please get back to me and I would be entirely grateful.


i know. it makes me come off a bit desperate, eh. but really. i kind of am.

so far, i've received a couple of automated responses (next!)...but one catering company in particular has been remarkably helpful and attentive. and she's suggested several venues i've never even heard of (score!).

i'm sure it's not a 'new' idea to ask event specialists and caterers to share their expertise when you're looking for a venue...but i don't think it's an entirely common practice either. i'd say most people just research the nets on their own or ask friends for advice.

which makes me wonder: what method did you use to find your venue?

please. share.

#388: 99 cents.

saw these the other day at ikea. thought they'd look beautiful grouped together, multi-hued and filled with bunchy flowers like hydrangeas or peonies.

and here's the vase in action...

via the brides cafe.