Saturday, February 27, 2010

J's First Job - The Honeymoon!

I previously mentioned how J gets "wedding jobs" of his own to work on. His first wedding job was planning our honeymoon!

I pretty much gave him free rein to come up with whatever he wanted. I figured he knows what I like, and he knows what he likes, so whatever he came up with would be great. He took this job really seriously, and he spent multiple hours every day for a few weeks researching honeymoon destinations. After like three weeks he told me he had it all planned and ready, and wanted to run it by me before he booked everything.

I was excited, and thrilled when I found out we will be going here...

Sandals Negril!

We'll be spending our days on this beach...


We'll indulge in all the all-inclusive fun of these restaurants...

We'll  have yummy drinks like this...

We'll stay in this two-story suite...

And we'll have our very own butler to bring us drinks, reserve our beach chairs in the morning, and make our restaurant reservations. How freakin' cool is that?!?

This is going to be the vacation of a lifetime!! (all pictures from

I'm so glad I handed the honeymoon planning off to J. If it had been my decision, I probably would've tried to find somewhere less popular, somewhere unique and interesting. I would have spent way too much time and effort searching for the "perfect" place, and then ended up with a honeymoon that was adventurous or interesting (i.e. exhausting...), but not relaxing. J picked well...the honeymoon should be relaxing, and we should go somewhere where we don't have to worry about anything. I can't wait!

Honestly, if I had been deciding, I probably would've picked somewhere cheaper. Or I would've at least picked a cheaper room. But since J did it, and spent a bit more than I would have, we'll have that awesome two-story condo with a butler! At first I was like whoa honey, did you see that ginormous number next to that dollar sign? But then I thought about it for a second (a second during which my thoughts went something like umm, butler! hello!), and I decided I was over the big number. Why shouldn't we splurge on our honeymoon? We have the money, and we only get one chance at this, so why shouldn't we make the best of it? Once again, J picked well.

Where are you going on your honeymoon? Who planned it? Did you "splurge" to go somewhere fancy?

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Big Fat Catholic Wedding: Part III - The Marriage Counselor

The next step in our marriage prep process for the Catholic church was to meet with a marriage counselor. Dun dun dunnn. I'll be honest...right off the bat the whole marriage counselor thing bothered me.

To begin with, it bothered me that Marriage Counselor Woman (affectionately referred to hereafter as MCW) wasn't actually affiliated with the church at all. She was just some random woman who works at a secular counseling office, and for all we knew she probably wasn't Catholic (it's not that I think marital therapists have to be religious to help just seemed odd to me. You know...since it was for the church and all).

However, once we arrived at our appointment, all of my misgivings were immediately dissolved, and it was a wonderful experience!

Yeah, not so much.

Once we actually had the appointment, things DID NOT get better. The problems may have been partially caused by the two years I spent working in a couple's therapy lab as a Psyc major. During that time I learned a whole lot about techniques counselors employ and therapy strategies, and during the appointment, I felt like I could guess everything MCW was about to say. Not a good quality in someone you're throwing wads of cash at.

But don't worry, not every word out of MCW's mouth was predicted! There were a few...well, unexpected things. Here's an example:

MCW: J, what's one thing that bothers you about Katie?
J: Ummm...well, when she thinks she's right, it's really hard to get her to change her mind.
MCW: So she's stubborn?
J: No I wouldn't say she's stubborn, she's just really confident in her opinions, and I am too. Usually we agree on things, but when we don't it sometimes gets frustrating.
MCW: So you're both stubborn?
J: I don't think we're stubborn, we're just strong people...neither one of us wants to be walked all over or taken advantage of.
MCW: Some people would call that stubborn.
J: Okay, well if you want to call it that then sure, we're stubborn.
MCW: Okay, so Katie - J says you're stubborn. Do you think he is too?
Me: I do think we're both strong in our opinions...
(and it continued like this for a while...)

Now we frequently tease each other about our supposed stubbornness (stubborness? stubbornity?). Teehee.

J and I didn't feel like anything we discussed with her was new, helpful, or worthwhile. We did a lot of talking about things J and I had already discussed multiple times (you know, things that we've worked out and figured out without the help of a counselor). It was like we had to prove to her that we were actually functioning like a normal couple. I thought it was a waste of time and money. J thought it was just a necessary means to an end. Neither of us thought it was productive or positive. We got sooo much more out of discussing our FOCCUS test on our own than we did out of this appointment.

Just in case you weren't convinced of MCW's genius yet, here's another fun episode:

MCW asked us for an example of a conflict we've had in the last few weeks. At the time, we were moving into J's new apartment, so we mentioned that there had been a few disagreements over what should go where, what to buy to put on the wall above the couch, etc.

Now these weren't huge issues, and we've since then worked them all out just fine. But, we got a giant lecture from MCW about how accepting a person also means accepting their stuff and their tastes (duh). And then, MCW (genius that she is) suggested that we rotate who has control over the decorating of the guest room and flip it every 6 months. Can you imagine?!?

"Alright J, it's been 6 months! Time to go get my stuff out of the storage unit we're wasting money on! Time to waste a few hours of our life yet again by redecorating this stupid guest room! Muahaha, now it's MINE!!!" I mean seriously, wouldn't that cause undue stress and resentment every six months? Can't we just find some guest room decor we agree on and move on with our lives?

Anyone who knows us would know her solution would never in a million years work for us. We take pride in building a life that's ours, and we'd be miserable if we were constantly going Okay, now mine! Okay now yours. Okay now mine! etc. I don't really know how it would work for anyone, come to think of it, but for us - definitely not. There were so many other episodes of this nature during our appointment, and I kind of wanted to just tell Miss MCW she was being ridiculous. But I didn't.

On top of everything else, the lovely MCW made sure to be absolutely clear with me that she wanted the $100 payment in cash. I don't know if she's had problems with bouncing checks, or if she's just avoiding reporting it for tax purposes, but I seriously didn't like how persistent she was about making sure I had the money in cash. It was odd.

In the end, we paid our money and got our letter of approval stating that in her professional opinion there were no significant issues with our relationship, and we were allowed to move on in the process. Apparently some couples have to meet with her multiple times before she "approves" them to continue! Thank God we got out the first time! Haha.

Unfortunately, the whole marriage counselor thing wasn't a good experience for us. I do think premarital counseling can be valuable, but if you're going to do it you should take the time to find a counselor who has been recommended and has a good reputation, not someone who was just randomly selected like Marriage Counselor Woman. Additionally, you should consider having more than just a one-hour session with him/her. I felt like most of our appointment was wasted because she didn't really know us, and couldn't provide anything helpful because of that.

Next up in Part IV, we plan our wedding ceremony!


Previously in this series:
Part I - The Process
Part II - The FOCCUS test

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Look What I Made!" - Door Sign Edition

On Monday, I had a paper due in one of my English classes.

Procrastination on schoolwork tends to lend itself to productivity with the wedding, and it was during one such episode of avoiding the paper that I created the following:

These beauties will proudly adorn the doors of the groom and bridal suites at the church as we get ready! The font on the bridal sign is Digs My Hart from dafont. It's my new favorite. I wish I would've found it before the Save the Dates!

J approved his sign, saying it was sufficiently masculine. He's being very understanding of all my silly little wedding projects. It must be love.

Now I just have to keep these lovelies safe until July! Haha.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Here's to Weddings that Aren't "Cool"

I consider myself to be a creative person. I sew. I scrapbook. I decorate my apartment with handmade things.

When presented with an Easter luncheon, I made this salad:

When I found myself without a Homecoming date once in high school, a created a whole "Notcoming" party of my own (complete with bouncers!), and convinced all these people to actually come to it!

When Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast and cancelled classes my sophomore year of college, I threw together a party complete with Doppler radar on the TV, hurricanes in our cups, a playlist of songs about wind, rain, and floods, and this poster on our front door:

So when it came time to plan my wedding, my head was swirling with clever touches and personalized details and all the things that would make my wedding memorable, unique, and us.

But then as parts of the planning began to get set in stone, I started to realize that my wedding isn't shaping up to be the unique and interesting thing I had originally figured it would be. And the more I read of the wedding blog world, the more I felt like my wedding was somehow inferior. My ceremony isn't in a barn, or on a boat. I won't have a photo booth or a cigar roller. There will be no fancy lighting, my guest tables won't have clever names, and my venue "doesn't do" signature cocktails.

I was beginning to feel like I needed to do something, to change something, to make my wedding into something it wasn't for the sake of being "different" or "memorable." But as I pondered how to change the wedding to make it more us,  it hit me. The wedding already is "us!"

We're traditional. We value things that have been passed down from our families. We see our wedding as a tribute to the dozens of couples who have come before us and set an example for us of what love should be. Our wedding speaks to that, and it speaks to us. This isn't about a hurricane, or apartment decorating, or a scrapbook page. It's about something bigger, something's about our marriage.

So here's to the brides with weddings that aren't cool.

Here's to heritage and tradition. Here's to the brides whose family customs aren't unusual, but are still hugely important. Here's to ceremonies in churches and receptions in ballrooms.

Here's to every woman who will be given away by her father, and take her husband's last name. Here's to bridesmaids that match and dresses that are long. Here's to sit-down dinners with chicken. Here's to bouquet throwing and garter tossing.

Here's to speaking the vows of your parents and grandparents. Here's to tuxedos. Here's to seeing your groom's face as he sees you for the first time dressed in white, wearing a veil, walking down the aisle.

Here's to honeymoons at cliche all-inclusive beach resorts. Here's to china on your registry. Here's to RSVPs that come through the mail, and arrive in an envelope.

Here's to you, bride of the not-cool wedding. Here's to you, here's to me, and here's to tradition and doing things the way they're usually done.

May you see yourself reflected in your wedding, and may you love every minute of it. And may you never, ever be tricked into thinking that because your wedding is about you, it isn't worth as much as someone's else's. Because it is. It's worth every little traditional bit.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Search for a Pretty Dress - Part Five

Find the earlier installments here:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Part Five contains pictures of me in the dress, so if you're one of those people that doesn't want to see it, don't read the rest!

The Search for a Pretty Dress - Part Four

Need to catch up on Parts 1-3?
First, the dress I always dreamed of wearing turned out to have ugly stains.
Then, I discovered my hatred of sequins and poofiness.
After that, I barely avoided the Great Dress Purchasing Mistake of 2010, and had a complete failure of a dress shopping trip.

At some point in the midst of all that, I found this picture in a magazine:

Casablanca Couture B028

It was love at first sight. This is the dress that made me believe I could maybe, just maybe, love a dress other than the one that was worn by my mom and grandmother.

All three pictures from here.

I spent a couple hours on the phone with every bridal store in Texas that was listed on the Casablanca website, and the consensus was this: The dress was brand new, the samples weren't in stores yet and wouldn't arrive until February, and there was pretty much no chance I could have it in time for my six-months-away wedding. So, I had to move on. I'll never know whether it would have actually looked good on me, but someone else sooo has to try on this dress because it's beautiful and I like it.

After all of that, I was headed to Dress Store #3, Brickhouse Bridal. Remember, this whole process so far has happened over a lighting-fast period of just under 36 hours!

Brickhouse was recommended by The Knot and a few friends, so I had high hopes. When I walked in, the store was all elegant and pretty, and it seemed like I was the only client in the entire place. They gave me a bunch of plastic clips, and I got to run around the store clipping every dress I wanted to try on. The clipped dresses magically appeared in the dressing room! I told my helper-consultant-person (what exactly is the correct term for those people??) "long, lace all over, no super-white-white, no poofiness, no sequins, elegant." She grabbed a few dresses for me that I loved. This was going well.

Unfortunately, my camera began its downward slope of "Battery Low" when we first started, and I only squeezed in pictures of one dress before it powered itself off for good. Silly Canon, why don't I always bring your spare battery along?

Anyway, I found two dresses that were possibilities. First up, this lovely one:

Apparently I'm an expert at knowing what to do with my hands.

I have no idea what designer/style number this dress is, but it's lovely. I loved the sleeves, the lace, even the bow. Picture it with a little brooch or something!! But, the bottom half of the dress seemed a little too boring. Plus, it made me make this face:

Not a good bride face.

The second dress at Brickhouse Bridal was Paloma Blanca 3858. I LOVED this dress. Compared to the pictures on the models, it looked so different on me. But, alas, I have no photos. But let it be said that this dress was beautiful.

Both pictures from here.

What wasn't so beautiful was the $3,000 price tag. My parents are generously paying for the dress, and it was well over what they had been planning on spending. So we got creative. We looked into having a replica made. We looked at buying it used. We looked at knockoffs from China. We scoured the Internet and other bridal stores for better prices. The results: the prices were only marginally better anywhere else, I was wary of the whole replica thing, and we couldn't find it pre-owned in anywhere near my size. I was dissappointed.

So, I came up with a plan, and announced to my mom (who at this point was the only one still attending each and every dress-shopping trip) this:

"We've pretty much exhausted the Houston dress shops list, but I have one more store to try and we'll go there. I'll try really hard to find something I like and if I can't, I'll pay for part of the dress, and we'll go back and get that one. Mmkay?"

Mommy was on board. Stay tuned for the fifth (and final!) installment of the dress-shopping series!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Search for a Pretty Dress - Part Three

Need a refresher?
First, I found out the heirloom dress I had planned on wearing had giant stains.
Then, I panicked and left the first bridal shop I tried after just 3 dresses.

After a while, I decided I liked the David's dress enough to buy it, and I wanted to go try it on one more time and place my order. I asked for a new salesperson, waited for an hour because I didn't have an appointment, and I tried it on again.

Let me say this: THANK GOD I TRIED IT AGAIN. New Saleslady told me I needed a size 2. I mentioned that Old Saleslady had suggested a 0 Petite, and New Saleslady told me that was absolutely ridiculous. Apparently petite sizes are 4 inches shorter, and would end up being about ankle length on me. Thanks a million Old Saleslady.

Looking at the hemline made me notice the lace pattern...look at the spiky flowers! Shouldn't lace by round and elegant, not pointy? Is that just me?

Next New Saleslady told me that the fitted-around-the-butt look that I liked wasn't actually how the dress was made. Apparently Old Saleslady just pinned it to look like that. Thanks again Old Saleslady.

See all that pretty bunchedness? It's not real.

New Saleslady also mentioned that since the sample was about 4 sizes too big, the one in my size would have considerably less fabric up top and be considerably more revealing. I didn't want more revealing. I actually didn't really want the dress at all!

Shave a centimeter off both sides? No thank you!

So I decidedly left David's Bridal without ordering a dress, and with the realization that some sales people aren't the experts I had assumed them to be.

My next stop (the very next day!) was Ventura's Bridal in Houston. The nice thing about Ventura's is that they basically let me wander around and pull anything I might like off the racks. Which would be great, except this place was filled to the brim with strapless ball gowns. I knew as soon as I walked into the showroom that I wasn't going to find anything I wanted. My salesperson actually said "Oh, you don't want a ball gown? Well then this one rack here is probably where you want to look." One rack. Literally, there were like a whopping five feet of non-poofy dresses.

It doesn't look great on the oustide, and for me, the inside wasn't much better.

I didn't find anything promising, but I grabbed 3 just to have something. I was exchanging glances with my mom. I didn't want to be a wedding marshmallow in a poofy dress. I tried on the three, and none really worked. They wouldn't let me take pictures. They wouldn't let my mom in the dressing room.

Whoa. Beware of the poof!

The owner of the store kept making me try on mermaid gowns because "they're just so cute on your little figure!" And the saleslady kept sticking this weird belt on me. It was giant and covered in grey flowers and I kept telling her I didn't like it and she kept insisting it would "make the look complete!" And then she kept telling me stories about her niece who has no boobs and doesn't like dresses and should've been born a boy. And then she kept complaining about how she used to be a designer but now she's stuck in sales. And then after I had tried on about 25 dresses, right when I thought she might finally let me leave, she suggested I look through their catalogs so they could order me a dress. At that point, I had about had it, and I asked her for a business card so I could come back later and try again. I had no intention of coming back.

I had another appointment schedule later in the day at Brickhouse Bridal, so I said a little prayer for better luck next time, and went off to eat some yummy Mexican food.

Quesadillas make everything better!

Stay tuned...this dress search is fast and furious, and isn't far from over!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Search for a Pretty Dress - Part Two

Recap of Part One: We took the dress worn by my grandma and mom out of its heirloom packaging. It had giant brown spots on it.

So, I brought the dress to J's grandma, who worked in a museum and knows things about antique fabric. She told me I had three options:
  1. Lemon juice and salt + sunlight
  2. Sending it to an antique fabric restoration place in Michigan
  3. Remaking the stained parts with new fabric.
The lemon juice and sunlight faded the stains a little bit, but nowhere near enough to be wearable. Option 1 = fail.

The Michigan place never returned my numerous calls and emails. We hypothesized that they only work with museums and things on important pieces of clothing, and don't really care about my old wedding dress. Option 2 = fail.

I didn't feel like remaking the dress was worth it. It just wouldn't be the same, you know? Opion 3 = fail.

So, 6 months and 2 weeks from the wedding I was left with no dress. I did however have a perfect picture in my head of what I wanted.

I wanted that dress. Minus the long sleeves. Minus the stains. I wanted that waistline. I wanted all-over lace. I wanted vintage classiness. I wanted a scalloped neckline. I wanted fabric-covered buttons.

Since I had already decided to do the BM dresses through David's Bridal, I figured I'd try there first. Buying your wedding gown gets you a discount on BM dresses, and I'm all about saving those ladies money!

I made the mistake of going to David's on a Saturday following a giant bridal show in Houston, and even though I had an appointment, I felt a bit like everyone there was just a bunch of bridal livestock being crowded into a pen of fitting rooms. But, a bride's gotta do what a bride's gotta do.

I told my consultant lady "lace, simple, elegant" and she brought me this.

It technically fit my criteria I guess...but it made me feel like one of those Barbie doll cakes where the plastic top half of a doll is stuck into a mound of cake. Where the heck did my bottom half go? This dress made me realize that I needed less poofiness. And apparently I have a strong thing against sequins.

Stuck in a mound of cake with dress icing. Sidenote: Looking at this picture is making me think I should maybe wear my hair just. like. that. for the wedding...Hmm.

This dress made me make this face. Not good.

The next dress was definitely less poofy than the first, but not at all the lace-covered pretty thing I was looking for:

Where's my scalloped neckline? Why are all these sequins on this dress?!?!

I quickly took that one off, and the consultant handed me another one, exclaiming that this would definitely be the one!!

This one was definitely better than the others.

People I didn't know were going "Oh! That's lovely! That's the one!" My consultant lady was throwing fake pearls on my neck and sticking a veil on my head.  No scalloped neckline. No fabric buttons...but I did like  it. Everyone kept oohing and ahhing, and I was beginning to think that they were right, that this was as good as it would get without being able to wear my mom and grandma's dress.

We proceeded to do the sizing and whatnot. The consultant told me I needed a size 0 Petite. Whoa. I had heard bridal gowns ran small, but seriously?!? I mean, I'm little, but not that little, right? Okay, consultant lady. You're the expert! But then she told me petite sizes take 6 months to come in. My wedding was in 6 months and 2 weeks. Panic. I made her call the warehouse. They told her there was ONE 0P in stock that could be here in 2 months. She suggested I order it immediately before someone else got it.

I panicked. I decided I needed time to think. Could I really buy the 3rd dress I tried on? I still just really wanted my mom's dress. But if I waited I could end up losing it! But if I ordered it I could end up changing my mind! I asked her if she could hold the one in the warehouse. She looked at me like I was crazy. The saleslady was getting pushy. I didn't like it. I told her I needed time, and I left.

Did anyone else have a similar panicked experience? What would you have done in that situation?

Stay tuned as the saga continues...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Search for a Pretty Dress

So I already told you about the beginning of the bridesmaid dress search. And I don't have the pictures from the end of it yet because they're stuck on my mom's camera.

So it seems now is as good a time as any to commence with the story of my dress search! Let it be said before I begin that I do have my dress, so there's no need for nightmares and worried suggestions and all that jazz, mmkay? Okay, let's begin.

I always figured I wouldn't need a "dress search." There's this dress, and it's beautiful. And my grandma wore it when she got married, and my mom wore it too. And I always figured I'd wear it. I wrote a paper about it in second grade.

So a few weeks after we were engaged, Mom and I decided to pull the dress out of its heirloom packaging and try it on.

Dad opened the shimmery gold box...

I looked on excitedly....

Inside of the box was a blue plastic bag, which we happily opened, letting the dress see the real world for the first time a quarter of a century...but when we took the dress out, something was wrong.

Note the worried faces...

The dress had brown spots. One giant one right on the chest area, a few more on the sleeves. What?!? This was supposed to be heirloomed and protected! I wanted to put it on anyway...being a bride with her dress I was somehow able to keep the giant stain out of my thoughts. So we undid the pretty cloth-covered buttons...

And we oohed and ahhed over the 50-year old lace and silk taffeta...

I'd only ever seen the dress  in pictures prior to this, but in person I loved it even more. The scalloped neckline, the lace, the beading. Ahh, this was my dress. I decided I would cut the silk taffeta sleeves off, leaving just the lace cap sleeves, but leave the rest of the dress pretty much as is.

See the stain on the front? I was ignoring it.

There it is. Stain. In all its glory.

But, I figured I'd worry about the stain later, and I pranced about like a happy little bride in her wedding dress.

All that was left were some alterations and a cleaning! Lucky for me, J's grandma spent years working in a museum, and she knows a thing or two about treating antique fabrics. I figured I'd call her and get the stain thing taken care of, and then go visit the lady who altered all of my high school formal dresses (yay hometown wedding!) Dress? Check.