Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Blustery E-Shoot

Currently I'm gathering inspiration for a fall blustery engagement shoot. We're scheduled the week of Thanksgiving to have our e-session with our fantastic photographer. I had initially envisioned an e-shoot in the heat of the Chicago summer but alas it took us too long to get our little bums back home. So now while we may have to deal with chilly temperatures, I'm excited for the deep romantic autumn colors of Chicago in November.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Long Distance Wedding Planning

Planning a wedding in a different city than the one that you live in is rather challenging. It adds in additional layer of complexity to an already elaborate process. I know I'm not the first bride-to-be attempting this and I won't be the last. M and I do not get back to Chicago as often as I would like to so we've had to pack our schedules when we do get back to visit the family.

We'll be back to visit for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Therefore, while I'd rather be cooking with my mom, talking with my dad, laughing with my brothers, and playing with my nephew - M and I will be on a wedding planning whirlwind.

So far we have our engagement shoot scheduled for Tuesday (fingers crossed the weather holds out). Three florist and design appointments for Wednesday. Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday (of course). And three cake tastings topping off the week on Friday. Fortunately I've managed to convince my fam to join me on some if not all of the appointments so it will be a family filled busy week.

How have you other long-distance brides planned the wedding in between visits with family and friends?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicago Wedding Must Have

A kissy face picture in front of the Chicago theater! This is a definite must-have on the list for my photographer.

For more on this beautiful wedding - check out Honey Bee Weddings

What are your location based photo must haves?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ceremony Refreshments

Our plan for an outdoor ceremony on the plaza of the Chicago History Museum sounds principle. Yet Chicago weather is so unpredictable - especially in June, it is just as likely to be 50 degrees and raining as it is to be a sweltering 90 degrees. Selfishly I'm holding my breath for a hotter day because than it will hopefully be sunny and beautiful. So I've been brainstorming ideas for cool refreshments that our guests could enjoy on the plaza as they wait for the ceremony to begin.

I love these Izze Sodas. They are so cute and could provide a fantastic pop of color, when held at the end of the aisles in large silver buckets filled with ice. Or we could go really crazy and have servers pass them around on trays with bright straws. M is wary of both ideas and thinks that our guests can wait until cocktails after the ceremony. But I've become a bit obsessed with how cute it could look.

What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Designer Duds Without Guilt

Hello. My name is Couture and I'm a fashion and designer label addict. I am obsessed with all things fashion and style...I spend the first week of each month drooling over my fashion magazines and dreaming of Marc Jacobs, Chloe, and Stella McCartney. (Clearly, Couture Bowl was a fashion blog before I arrived in wedding land).

I am so looking forward to buying new outfits for all of the fun wedding events preceding the big day. Yet my bank account (and fiance) are slightly more weary of these new outfits. I have tried to justify them to myself and him..."But this will be my only bachelorette party EVER, I have to look amazing". That only works so long until I tried it last week when we were going to register and I said "But how many times can I wear the same old outfit when I'm registering for our WEDDING!" Woops, may have pushed my luck just a bit there.

Still, I'm on the hunt for some "bargain" priced designer duds for the rehearsal dinner, bachelorette weekend, and wedding shower next year. Alas, I have fallen in love with the great vendors who have created designer flash sales online at warehouse sample sale prices.

Some of my favorites include:

If you have not signed up for any of these sites yet...I beg you to do so immediately! (Let me know if you need an invite and I'd be happy to send along). Essentially, all 3 sites have daily flash designer sales. They send out an email when the sale opens up each morning and they have between 15-20 select pieces that are on sale at insanely affordable prices. Designers include, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Chloe, YSL, BCBG, and more than I can list here. Along with clothing, they at times carry gift products like D&G Candle Co. and there are great opportunities to score some fantastic hostess gifts along the way.

So far I have actually purchased a gift set of candles and a pair of J Brand jeans from Haute Look. I have a feeling that my list will grow much longer as we move into the holidays and then wedding season.

Do you have any super secret shopping sites that you love?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wedding Sign Me Up

I'm obsessed with the idea of hanging custom signs on the back of our chairs during the reception. I love these from thebackporchshoppe.

So help me dear readers...which sign should we choose?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Looking Forward to Sheer Bliss

Like this...

Wedding Planning During Times of Sadness

The process of planning a wedding is a long and winding road. Throughout a year plus long engagement many different life events can occur. Some very happy like new babies being born and some on the sadder end. It can be a strange road for a bride to be.

My family has gone through many sad events over the course of my engagement. I know I'm not alone in this as I have read similar stories from my fellow bloggers. I have seen their stories of grief and hardship as they attempt to continue to plan their wedding and they have all inspired me with their strength and hope in love and their future. It is an on-going emotional roller coaster while planning a wedding, a milestone in itself. So it is an interesting conundrum when we are faced with these times of grief and struggle as we continue to plan for this event that symbolizes happiness and life.

In speaking with my mom tonight, her thoughtful words truly crystallized the struggle. I spoke to her about how selfish it felt at times to worry about such frivolous details while my loved ones are grappling with the sudden decline in multiple family members' health and the loss of two beloved dogs. My mom reminded me that a marriage is about a hopeful and promised future, between not only the wife and the husband but the extended family. It is a renewed vow to truly cherish the loved ones that you are surrounded by everyday and a reminder to always let them know the impact they have on your life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


So I've discussed my candle dilemma. And I'm slowly moving bigger and perhaps more unlikely ideas. I have lately fallen in love with the idea of incorporating a chandelier into the realm of lighting solutions.

Chandeliers create an ornate and elegant focal point to a table setting. Vintage chic and uniquely quirky all at once. Which is the feel I'm digging this week.

Somehow I have fallen for a design element and lighting solution that is somehow trickier to include at a museum reception than open candle light. After all, the rules clearly state that no element of decor can be strung or hung from the walls, ceilings, or fixtures in the reception room.
A girl can dream though. After all, how neat would it be to incorporate the chandelier theme throughout the invitation suite?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Inevitable Photobooth

There are certain wedding trends that I cannot imagine living without at our wedding. I suppose that was a bit on the dramatic side but I simply MUST have a photobooth for our guests. I love the vintage look and feel of the photobooth. It is a guaranteed hit for our guests. Plus, we can create (or have our guests create) a guestbook with one half of the strip and a favor with the other (ala Mrs. Cupcake).

I was lucky enough to find a great vendor in Chicago who is currently running a special upon reservation. The booth comes with an operator in case guests have any questions and can hopefully also help with the production of the guest book (all we need is a glue stick and metallic pen).

I've been debating the idea of creating some spectacular backdrop to post in the booth but I'm leaning towards the traditional b & w look. I think the pictures will be a nice contrast to an all black album.

Have you been considering a photobooth? Are you adding any unique twists to make the traditional photo strips more custom?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lighting Inspiration

I desperately want to incorporate long strings of the rotund lights for our reception or ceremony. Some might think that this lighting would be better suited for an outdoor soiree and I may have been previously inclined to agree...but the more and more that I see of them I must have them! Inside or Out!


Are you bringing any uniquely outdoor inspiration into your indoor venue? Or vice versa?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Great Bridesmaid Debate

It's no surprise that in the course of planning a wedding, you will have to confront many an unasked opinion from friends, family, and colleagues. It was quite challenging for me when we first started planning because I'm a born and bred people pleaser. I want everyone to be happy first and foremost M and my friends and family. It felt unnatural to make decisions that made little old me happy while learning how to "thanks but no thanks" those who gave unsolicited opinions and move on.

I was plagued by anxiety when the inevitable bridesmaid announcement was closing in. I have been lucky enough to have several brilliant and warm and funny women in my life who I would love to have stand by my side when I get married in June. Yet how many was too many? And how could I possibly bear the thought of hurting one of my friends feelings by not including them in the count?

I wavered and worried about this for months until M sat me down, looked me in the eye and said "Who do you want to be there by your side? Who are you going to remember standing in support of our marriage? Who cannot you not imagine this moment without?" And I stopped and I thought about these questions. I thought about how I would answer them totally unbiased from my own heart of hearts (rather than being influenced by everyone surrounding me). And I made the decision that was one of the hardest of wedding planning.

I am thrilled to have 8 of my nearest and dearest bestest girlfriends walking down the aisle and standing by my side as M and I pledge our lives together. While some have said that 8 bridesmaids are too many, I know that I could not imagine this moment without a single one of them and I would regret for days and years not having each of these ladies there with me.

What were your hardest wedding decisions? Did you have any bridesmaid dilemmas? How do you deal with the unsolicited opinions?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Star Light...Star Bright?

One of the (few) downsides of getting married at a museum or other historical site are the decor restrictions. I adore the space at the Chicago History Museum which is why we chose the museum for our ceremony and reception, yet the contract came along with a two page list of items that were not allowed for use as decoration.

Sadly, one of those items included is candles. I think that wedding receptions filled with soft candlelight are simply enchanting so I was bummed that this was not an option for us. So I'm on a mission to find other unique lighting options that can provide the illusion of soft candlelight without the cheesy look of flameless candles.

Did you run into any roadblocks in your wedding decor?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pretty Packages

I adore giving and receiving (and just looking at) gifts that have been wrapped up in pretty paper. That is part of the reason why I love Etsy! Seriously those crafty sellers deliver some of the cutest packages. Adorable.

I'm looking forward to doing the same for all of the wedding & thank you gifts that we'll be giving to our nearest and dearest over the next year. I was so excited to see this on Oh So Beautiful Paper this morning.

How adorable is this hand screen printed wrapping paper? Even better there all on-sale in rifferafe's etsy shop.

Are you adding any extra touches to your wedding / thank you gifts?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Bling

As I said before, I was beyond surprised by M's proposal last March. But when he popped open that velvety ring box, I was speechless. The ring was unlike anything that I had ever seen before and yet perfectly fit what I wanted. I had always envisioned a 3 stone diamond ring, although I had never been set on a specific shape of diamond.

M went above and beyond just a simple 3 stone ring. He worked with my mom and a close jeweler friend to design my ring. They added the pave micro-setting around all 3 stones and the band to create a heirloom style setting.

The best part of the ring though is the sentimental value. M asked my mom if he could use one of the diamonds from my late aunt's engagement ring in my ring. My aunt was my mom's only sister and passed away a few years ago from complications with lupus. She was a fantastic woman, full of light and love, and some of my most cherished childhood memories were spent with her in Switzerland (where she lived) or home in Chicago. My mom always tells me how much I remind her of my aunt and I only hope that I can live up to everything that she was to our family.

What's the story of your bling?

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Rehearsal Fiesta

I want our rehearsal dinner to be fun and kitschy yet chic. When we first started considering different restaurants in Chicago, I knew that I did not want the typical rehearsal dinner at a family style restaurant with limited personality. M and I are both HUGE fans of Mexican food so I got the idea of throwing a fiesta style rehearsal dinner. After all, who doesn't enjoy margaritas?

We finally landed on Zapatista in the South Loop. The restaurant has a fantastic party room which can accommodate our rather large guest list (upward of 100 peeps) and while the meal will be family style, it is sure to be anything but bland. Plus there is all you can drink sangria, cerveza, and margaritas.

Now I'm gathering photos of fiesta table settings. I love these lanterns.

And gathering inspiration from the 'bee's Mrs. Lemonade who had a fabulous rehearsal fiesta herself.

Mariachi Band, anyone?

What are your rehearsal dinner plans?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Engaged And It Feels So Good

I know I have yet to tell the story of our engagement. I don't know why that is...I think it's partially because I'm bummed that there are not any pictures of the fantastic event and the story is so simple that it feels like it needs something! Regardless, it was one of the happiest days of our lives so it's worth telling with or without illustration.

M and I had been living together for a little over a year and while we had chatted about marriage, he went out of his way to ensure that I did not think it was happening anytime soon. One blustery March Friday evening, M and I were trying to figure out where to go for dinner after work. He was acting a bit strange and kept shooting down my request to go for greasy burgers in South Boston. We finally decided on Joe's at the Waterfront, which is one of our favorite restaurants perched right on Christopher Columbus Park at the Boston harbor. As we drove towards the restaurant, Beyonce's Single Ladies came on the radio, and if I remember correctly I waved my hand in front of M's face a number of times singing "If you like it than you should have put a ring on it". Little did I know...

Blurry iPhone Picture Courtesy of M

We arrived at the restaurant and started walking towards the door, when M took a slight detour right and steered me towards a park bench on the harbor. As we were walking he pulled a ring box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. Everything that happened after that was a blur. I remember screaming and apparently asked him if he was joking a number of times before he finally asked me if I was going to say yes. We spent the rest of the night staring at my ring...staring at each other...calling our friends...and of course eating Joe's quesadillas for sustenance.

What's your proposal story? Were you as surprised as I was?

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Hair-y Tales

I have been gathering hair inspiration photos for the wedding for some time now. You see, I'm in a constant battle with my hair...I spend many a morning with my flat iron in hand wrestling with the natural frizz that overtakes my hair. I'm actually a bit fearful of the Chicago humidity next June and the havoc that it can potentially wreak on my lovely wedding do. Alas, I am debating a thermal re-conditiong or kerastase treatment prior to the big day (that's a topic for a different post altogether).

Regardless, I have fallen for the lovely hair do on this bride (as found on Style Me Pretty). Simple and sweet...and who doesn't love a hair flower. Perhaps some day soon I'll get around to creating my own?

Who's Looking First

When we first began this crazy journey also known as wedding planning...I had several preconceived notions about how the wedding day was going to play out. Many of the more traditional rituals had been immediately tossed out, such as the garter and bouquet toss. But other more traditional moments, I had my heart set on. I had always envisioned that moment when my dad and I turn down at the beginning of the aisle and my eyes meet with M's down at the end. So symbolic and sweet...I can just picture the tears in his eyes and the tremble in his hands as he sees his bride to be approaching. Cue to reality where I will most likely be nervously focusing on not tripping down the stairs to the plaza or walking to quickly down the aisle. I realized in my planning and blog reading that perhaps there is a more intimate option to a first look.

There are gobs and gobs of fantastic first look photos across the wedding web, capturing the surprise and delight with tears and arms thrown up in joy at the first sight of the one to be. I love how the photographer can set up such a surreal meeting in an intimate and picturesque setting and photograph the true emotions from both sides. Plus, I realized if we go with a pre-ceremony first look, we'll then get more time at the cocktail hour...and what could be so bad about that?

Are you doing a first look?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

All About the Boys

After a heated debate (on-going since we were engaged), M and I have finally decided on the attire for the boys. Now, M has been saying all along that this is the ONE decision that he truly wanted to be a part of. Okay fine, I guess that is a reasonable request.

We considered the formal tux but it felt a bit too stuffy and old school for our outdoor plaza ceremony, especially with the bow tie. We want the boys to look modern yet chic (well, the the chic part may just be me but a girl can hope, right?)

I had always envisioned the boys in amazing gray summer suits. Yet after much time spent searching online, we found limited options for suit rentals.

We did not want to ask everyone to buy new gray suits, so we settled on the classic black suit. M will be buying himself a new one (finally getting rid of those front pleated pants from his college suit) but we have told all the other guys that they can wear whatever black suit they have on hand. No need to be so matchy matchy. They'll wear plain white shirts and we'll gift them with the tie and pocket square to complete the look. Yes, I love myself a good pocket square!

With that decision made, we easily finalized the bridesmaids dresses...remember these? We decided on the silver as we think it will look really fun with the black suits. I cannot wait to see our besties all dressed up and ready to go.

How did you decide on your wedding party's attire? Did you go back and forth as much as we did?