Monday, September 29, 2008

A Special Gift

Saturday night before dinner, Berni and Dave brought upstairs a wrapped wedding gift. "What is this?," we asked. Well, after opening it, it turned out to be the most special wedding gift we have received thus far.

Nate grew up with Berni's sister Brenda's in-laws being just like grandparents to him. They are a little older now and couldn't make the trip all the way here from Washington for the wedding. Instead, they sent the most meaningful gift with Berni and Dave to deliver to us. You see, Virginia paints...she does pastels, oils, and lo and behold even paints on cermaics. She is 86 years old and is just incredible. It's so great for someone to be able to continue to do what they love and are passionate about, even at such an advanced age.

So our special gift? None other than a painting of the church we will be married in. Take a look...

How incredible is that? She got everything down to the detail of the Virgin Mary statue displayed out front of the church. After my pottery painting experience at the bachelorette party (more on that to come), I appreciate talent like this even more!

On the back was this:

It's probably hard to make out in the picture. It says...

Kelley and Nathan
October 4, 2008
Immaculate Conception Church
Loose Creek, Missouri

What a great memento we will be able to keep and treasure for our lifetime together. Thank you Virginia!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Flowers, Flowers and More Flowers...

You all remember my past posts about the pew cones, right? How I had wanted to do them, but then couldn't find a good way to make them. And then how my mom ran across some great instructions and we tried them after all? Well, this weekend was the culmination of that entire project.

Several, several weekends ago, my parents and I spent hours one Sunday covering, gluing and beautifying our Styrofoam cones.

It was a lot of work...and I glued the sh** out of those things with hot glue. The last thing I want is for them to fall apart before we even get to bathe in their beautiful glory.

So then fast forward to this weekend. Berni and I went shopping for artificial flowers yesterday for the pew cones and for our floating centerpieces. We then worked for several hours today, filling the already covered and beautified cones with the pretty fall flowers we had purchased. And I have to say, they exceeded my expectations. I think they look absolutely fantastic!

Here is how the floor looked at the beginning....lots of flowers, no strategy.

However, after we worked out the kinks with the first one, it became a much more streamlined process. Here's our first cone, which we worked from for the others...Pretty nice, right? Compact, yet fun and wispy. Well, I think with every consecutive one we completed, they just got better and better as we got more creative. Here's one of the last ones of the bunch...

The one unfortunate happening is that we ran out of flowers after cone #9. That means another trip to Hobby Lobby or Michael's to pick up just a few more stems. But if that's all that went astray, we can count ourselves lucky.

Here they are in their glory, all boxed up and ready for the car ride.

I think they're going to be a beautiful addition to the church aisle. They'll really give the church the pop of fall color that I was hoping for. And we'll finish the last three tomorrow night! smile

The news on the flowers for the floating centerpieces isn't so good, however. We had found these really snazzy berry branches to use...BUT, they kinda disintegrate in water. Um, not exactly what I had in mind. So on to round two on those....we are now on the hunt for "rubbery"


Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Packet

So I think I've mentioned my need for organization before, yes? Maybe a few times?! razz So this probably won't surprise you. Although, maybe it will. It surprised me how long it turned out! I admit maybe it was a bit over the top, but not for a J-personality type* like myself. And it was as much for my own sanity as it was for helping everyone else know where to be and when. That’s right- I created a 17-page “Wedding Weekend Packet” for all involved! It took me most of Labor Day weekend (with a couple of emotional breakdowns...) to really get everything right. Plus, my poor mom read over it more than once, but I did eventually get it completed and I sent it out to everyone on Sunday!

Now what could possibly take up 17 pages you ask? Here’s a glimpse into my pride and joy…

I began with a cover letter introducing the packet to our family and friends. The contents were as follows:

  • Logistics overview
  • Overview of weekend events
  • Detailed wedding weekend schedule
  • Map, shuttle, and directions
  • Description of roles
  • Photo sharing

The Logistics Overview. A list of key wedding day contacts (aka people to call if you have absolutely no clue what is going on), key locations and their addresses, and a list of the key events taking place over the course of the weekend.

Overview of Weekend Events. A three-page more detailed list of all the key events taking place over the wedding weekend, including our rehearsal, our rehearsal dinner, the wedding, all the way through to a brunch the day after. Under each event, I provided the date and time, location, point person to contact, who was required to attend, and a brief description of the event.

Detailed Wedding Day Schedule. This was probably a little overwhelming for some (or all) at first, but I sincerely hope this will help our wedding go incredibly smoothly! It is a four-page schedule listing the main activities, underneath which I broke out specific activities, all in time increments. It listed each activity next to the time and the parties involved. Here’s a glimpse…

Map, Shuttle, and Directions. Pretty self-explanatory. This was a three-page section that included a map of Jefferson City/Loose Creek (which I created using Wedding Mapper and then just taking a screen-shot of the image), directions from the airport to the hotel(s), hotel(s) to the church, and the church to the reception site. I also included the shuttle schedule.

Description of Roles. This section was four pages long and detailed out the specific responsibilities of different people involved, preempting any last minute wedding day confusion. I included what activities they needed to be present for, what time to arrive, and what they were on point for. Of course, people didn’t have to read all four pages...all they had to do was jump to their section (i.e. bridesmaids, lectors, etc.).

Photo Sharing. This section was created in hopes that our guests will be taking digital pictures at the wedding. I setup an account on Flickr and provided guests the login and password information, so they can share their pictures with us!

That about sums up “The Packet”! I got crap from some people razz, but in the end, I do hope everyone appreciated it! If nothing else, going through the process of creating this at least gave me peace of mind, and will allow me to relax and enjoy my own wedding day…which was reason enough for me! smile

*I am referring to the Myers-Briggs personality types. A “J” personality tends to approach the world with a plan, prefers to be organized and prepared, and has a tendency toward closure and completion (as opposed to taking a more adaptive go-with-the-flow approach).


Friday, September 26, 2008

The Week Before The Week Of....

This truly has been a fantastic week! Each day brings fewer items left on my "to do" list. In fact, it's now shorter than a half page. I am definitely an organizer, planner, and list maker. I get such a thrill from scratching an item of my list. redface

Anywho, I've spent the week confirming with all of our vendors: the florist, caterer, DJ, photographer, rental place, chair cover place, our decorator, etc, etc. And I'm feeling so good about things. All I can say is I've done my best and if anything goes wrong, oh well. I'm to that "let's just get on with it" point. I have definitely had fun planning and organizing, but I truly am just ready to get married. And I haven't forgotten that's what all of this is about!

One other huge thing that was accomplished this week was our seating chart. I pestered Nate all weekend because he told me he was going to help. Well, his "help" turned out being helping me figure out the two tables his family would be sitting at. Uh, hello? If I knew that was all he was going to help with, I could have started the thing on Saturday morning, instead of spending the entire weekend waiting on him and staying up until midnight on Sunday working on the stupid thing. It's partly my fault though. I mean, considering how much he has helped up until this point, why would I have expected more? wink Anyway, the good news is that after several calls to my mom, the seating chart is complete! And I have sent off the list to my aunt, to begin creating the escort cards.

Did I mention the wedding is in 8 days? Wahoo!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Last....

Last week was a week of lasts. I got my hair cut and highlighted for the last time. I've been diligently growing out my hair so that I can wear it in a half up style, so it was really just a trim. But I was so tempted to tell her just to cut a ton off. wink Instead, we just talked about cutting a ton off. It gave me something to look forward to, anyway. Not sure if I'll do the chop at my next appointment after the honeymoon or wait until spring, but only time will tell. I'm thinking some kind of bob... That would be totally different for me. And hopefully different = good. eek

I hadn't had my hair highlighted in probably a year and a half, but I wanted something subtle and natural looking for the wedding. Jamie, my hairstylist, was able to pull that off to a "T." I've got just enough honey color in my hair to give it a sun-kissed look. Jamie's comment was, "That's the best color I've done in awhile." Thank goodness it was on me! exclaim

The other "last" I did last week was I tried on my wedding gown one final time before the wedding. It was my final fitting at the bridal shop, which went very well. I was given instructions on how to bustle the dress and hook and zip it in the back. So hopefully I can pass on my knowledge to those helping me dress! I got to take my dress home with me, so it's hanging in the guest bedroom closet right now, waiting for it's moment in the spotlight.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We're Legal!

Ladies and gentleman, I now present...

...our marriage license! We recently made the trek down to the marriage license bureau in Clayton to get our shiny new license. It's no big deal, really. You just have to prove you are who you say you are (driver's license, social security number) and then they make you swear you are not related...razz

And then $45 later it's like magic (plus $9 for the name change fee, of course)...


Monday, September 22, 2008

Gift Bags

For those guests traveling a long way to attend our wedding, I wanted to do something a little special to welcome them and let them know how much we appreciate them making the trip. Hence, the out-of-town gift bags were born. I didn't want to spend too much on the bag itself, so I decided to go with plain brown paper bags and dress them up a little.

I included our monogram with our names and wedding date on the front of the bag. A tag will be attached to the bag with raffia ribbon, with the guests names. Each bag cost about 50 cents. Score!

Figuring out what to put IN the bags was the fun part. I wanted something from St. Louis since that's where Nate and I live. And for those of you who know me well know I love licorice, so Switzer's licorice was a given! They're a St. Louis based company and the licorice is very tasty...perfect!

We also included two bottles of water in each bag, with our personalized water bottle label. biggrin

Here is our assembly line...

Besides the afore mentioned items, our assembly line included pita chips, nuts, granola bars, fruit leather, and Ghirardelli chocolate.

And here are the bags, all filled up! In addition to the goodies for eating and drinking, they will include a map of the Jefferson City area, a list of attractions, and an information packet about the weekend's events.

I hope everyone enjoys their treats!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Weeks To Go...

It's been a busy couple of weeks around here. So busy, in fact, that I haven't had a spare moment to blog about anything! We've been running around like crazy people trying to get all those last minute things done that can't be completed until the month of the wedding.

The first being....tracking down people for RSVP's. We had 31 RSVP cards that were not returned on time. That's a pretty crappy percentage. Now that I know what a pain in the hiney it is when people don't send them back, I'll be the first one responding to our next wedding. Not that I'm ever one who doesn't send back the RSVP. Oy!

There have been fun things too...craft projects, my bachelorette party, my last haircut/highlight, picking up my dress for the final time.... Now I think of everything in terms of "This is the last time I'll do ______ before the wedding." smile

Stay tuned for some posting about all that's been happening lately...


Friday, September 5, 2008

Guest Pictures...All In One Place

So many digital cameras… so many ways to get pictures from your friends and family! I know we'll have some amateur photographers running around with digital cameras at our wedding, so what better than to create somewhere where everyone can upload their photos to one place? I, for one, would certainly love to see the moments everyone captures.

There are an abundance of websites that make collecting photos from others online quite simple, and it can often be difficult to choose how you’re going to do it. After weighing the alternatives, I opted to ask guests to submit their photos to flickr for quite a few reasons:

  • I wanted anyone (including myself) to be able to download the photos in the full resolution
  • Personalized web address for easy viewing
  • Organization tools that let me rearrange the photos into sets and groups as I’d like
  • “Privacy” function for photos — they’d still be uploaded and available to me, but not to everyone
  • Super easy and reliable uploading tools
  • Easy way to upload all of the professional photos for viewing

So, I created an account with an easy login and password for our guests, and quickly paid the $25 upgrade fee to make it a “pro” account to allow unlimited uploads. Then I bugged my aunt with my newest crazy, hair-brained scheme and had her try something for me...including the information on the inside of the escort cards! Everyone is going to get one and it's wasted real estate anyway, so I think it'll be great!!

If you'll recall, here is what our escort cards will look like:

And here is what I had her add to the inside:

I certanly hope 1) They notice this, 2) They remember to take these home and 3) The pictures start to roll in after the wedding.

I do have a bit of a picture fetish to go along with my paper obsession, so I hope this works! mrgreen


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cookie Favors

As you'll recall in my post Wednesday, I mentioned cookies. For what, you ask? Well, favors of course! I've had this idea banging around in my head for awhile, after being inspired from another wedding blog I read. How better to bring in our fall theme but with leaf-shaped maple flavored cookies?

First, the recipe. Good ol' Emeril Lagasse had a yummy sounding maple cookie recipe out on the Food Network website. Everything was going well on the shopping trip to get the ingredients until I got to the maple sugar. What the heck is maple sugar? None of the grocery stores have it...and trust me, I checked a few. After doing some investigation online, maple sugar seems to be strictly an east coast thing. Maple sugar is just maple syrup in a different form. You can read more about it here. So, I ordered some online and waited for the delivery to get here.

In the meantime, I found these maple cookie cutters online.

[image from]

They were meant to be favors, but I thought they'd be the perfect size for the cookies I wanted to make. So I ordered those too.

After I had everything I needed to get started, I began my trial run. I had made the cookie dough up a couple nights in advance, as the recipe states it needs to be in the refrigerator at least 4 hours prior to baking. And the cookie dough was super easy to whip up.

So then I began my process of rolling and cutting.

I rolled the dough out to 1/4-inch thick and cut enough cookies to fill up a cookie sheet. And the white substance in the small bowl is heavy cream. The instructions said to brush that on before baking, so that's what I did.

While the first batch of cookies were baking, I started on the maple glaze. This is where the maple sugar comes in. The glaze is just butter, powdered sugar, maple sugar and maple extract heated up on the stove.

It forms this brown colored glaze, which I thought I may be able to make orange. First, I tried equal parts yellow and red food coloring. I got red glaze.

So THAT didn't work. Then I ditched that batch of glaze and made another, this time only adding yellow food coloring. I thought the yellow and brown may mix to become a burnt orange color.

As you can see from the cookie in the bottom right, it is a little orange but nothing really noticable. And after I made two batches of the glaze, I determed what a pain in the hiney it really is. You have to keep it heated perfectly...just before boiling point, but it can't cool too much either. Way too many of my cookies came out with lumpy glaze. The glaze did add a bit more sweetness and maple flavor to the cookie, but I decided it wasn't worth the trouble (after having to eventually dump both my glaze attempts down the drain). So, I thought that maybe the cookies would be fine just on their own.

I was satisfied with the plain cookies--they still tasted fine. Granted not quite as good, but still good.

Then I decided to play with my packaging idea. I thought along with the cookies I could include the recipe. At first, I was thinking of putting the recipe on ivory paper. But with the un-iced cookies, this would be kind of blah. Then it hit me. My aunt actually had a whole bunch of extra copper paper left over from the invitations, as the first batch of paper was mistakenly scored in the wrong place and had to be re-ordered. And ironically, the paper was cut into 6-inch strips and scored in the middle at 3 inches. Three inches being the exact width of an index card. Can you say perfect?! Here's the un-iced cookies bagged with the copper paper (just imagine the recipe printed on it), tied with orange and brown ribbon with our monogram tag attached. And the tags were left over from our invitations too! Nothing is going to waste!!

What do you think?

I spoke to my mom later in the day after I had made these and I was telling her my maple glaze woes. She ended up finding a couple of other maple glaze recipes online for me to try. Here's the proof:

These were of a much better spreading consistency than the maple glaze in the recipe above, with no heating required. I immediately fell in love! The one on the left is sort of an ivory color...the one on the right a brown. The ivory colored icing was just too strong of a taste for's main ingredient was pure maple syrup. Have you ever tried that? Let's just say I stuck my finger the maple syrup and tried it after making this icing...and I won't be doing that again! lol The brown icing used maple extract instead of syrup. It was perfect! Perfect tasting and perfect looking! I think I've solved my un-iced cookie issue. Brown icing it is!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Rocked LD Weekend...

First of all, it's a month until our wedding! I can hardly believe it!!!! eek

I know I've been a bit MIA recently, but I put my nose to the grindstone this past weekend and cranked out A LOT of wedding related projects. Case in point, take a look at my completed list:

  • Finished writing thank you notes from bridal shower
  • Finished bridesmaid cards for their gifts
  • Tested out cookie recipe and packaging idea (more to come on that)
  • Helped Nate complete DJ playlist; wrote DJ check for final payment
  • Send out payments to caterer and decorator
  • Made draft version of bar menu (have to know what we're drinking before I can complete)
  • Made a "Please Find Your Name" sign for the escort card table
  • Made a cute "Bridal Chamber" sign to hang on the door where the gals are getting ready (as long as it's not raining! neutral)
  • Wrote out thank you's and packaged gifts for those helping out on the wedding day
  • Emailed our photographer about our guest book and a time to meet a couple of weeks before the wedding
  • Created a timeline for the wedding weekend (huge undertaking, let me tell you!)
Overall a very productive weekend, right? There were a few tense moments when all I wanted to do was crawl in bed with a bowl of popcorn and a movie and forget about the wedding for awhile. But I pushed through! And I have to say, I'm feeling really good about the way things stand right now. There are so many things crossed off on my "To Do" list!

And besides, I get to forget about the wedding for the evening tonight. We're going out to dinner for my birthday! cool



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