Posts in the 'real bride' Category
I am pleased to announce that Daniel and I have FINALLY made some real progress in our wedding planning. Of course, we are hesitant to set anything in stone until his visa is approved, but even the “legal” side of our wedding planning is ahead of schedule! As of January 29th, my visa petition was approved by the U.S. government. After two weeks of processing, it has been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Sydney, Australia. What does all this mean? Well, once the paperwork arrives in Australia, Daniel can FINALLY (noticing a pattern, yet?) apply for his K-1 fiancé visa. In short, as long as nothing goes catastrophically wrong, the visa process should be finished by the end of May, and Daniel can move to the U.S. anytime he is ready (up until six months after his approval date).
Moving on, yes, we FINALLY (there it is again!) have made a plan. And this time, I am ensuring that we stick to the plan by sharing it with The Broke-Ass Bride world, because that totally makes it official and prevents immigration mishaps, right?
We have gone back and forth about how to handle getting married with the added costs and time restraints of immigration, and we’ve decided to stick with Plan B. (Plan A was trying to pay for and put together a 50-75 person wedding with only five months’ notice and after a slew of visa/moving expenses: doable, not fun.) Plan B: When Daniel moves to the U.S., we will have a quick, very cheap wedding to bind us legally and allow us to finalize the immigration process. Then, next spring, we will have a commitment ceremony with any extended family and friends that are available.
So, what’s new? We have a venue for the commitment ceremony!
Daniel took it upon himself to email the bed and breakfasts and wineries in my area to see if any of them host weddings and what kinds of packages are available. The very first place to email him back was Casa Somerset, an Italian-inspired estate with four guest rooms and a small grape orchard. Of course, being an extrovert, Daniel immediately gave my contact information to the owner and the two of them convinced me to visit the estate, despite my reservations about touring venues before the visa is approved.
I am so glad I went (and dragged my mom along for moral support). Casa Somerset is the third venue we’ve looked at, and it is, without a doubt, the perfect venue for us. Being Italian-inspired, it fits perfectly with Daniel’s family heritage and my love of Italy. The grounds are gorgeous – there is a sparkling pond, huge patio for entertaining, and an iron gazebo, which fit my very specific desire to get married in a gazebo like my parents did. The house itself is three stories, with four themed guest rooms, a full service kitchen, a “man cave,” and a wrap-around balcony on the second level. The owners, Mike and Christine, were incredibly gracious and laid back. They answered every question my mom and I asked and made my wedding seem like the simplest and most important thing in the world. To top it all off, their two adorable cats and their cuddly St. Bernard, Bella, made Casa Somerset feel like home.
Beyond its aesthetic charm, Casa Somerset has a lot of practical features we needed. With our international loved ones, the guest rooms were a must, and the owners even have a second property across the pond that can be rented for additional guests. Moreover, Mike is a chef, and his specialty is Italian (noticing a second theme?), but he can customize the menu and make special accommodations for a certain father of a certain bride who is a super picky eater…
All that being said, I am just so relieved to have chosen a venue. (Mostly because now I can obsessively visualize the layout and begin planning the decorations…) My mom loved Casa Somerset so much that she wanted to put in the deposit immediately, but I insisted we wait until I spoke to Daniel about it. Obviously, he loves it, too (even without seeing it in person), and we will be claiming our spot shortly. Keep your fingers crossed that May 30, 2015 is still open, everyone!
Oh, my, was that a date?
Let’s just hope I haven’t totally jinxed all of our plans.
Until next time,
The second I got engaged, I got down to business. I started watching “Say Yes to the Dress,” (All 1,000 seasons. Atlanta too. Also, there’s spin-off called “Randy to the Rescue.” Research is hard.) My pin pinning on Pinterest increased by 600% and I created a secret board to share with only my bridesmaids and an even more super-secret board for my eyes only. I created an account on The Knot, I researched venues, flowers, cakes, shoes, bridesmaids’ dresses, photographers, DJ’s, etc! The list goes on. All things wedding related bring me joy and I spend hours fantasizing how amazing mine will be. It seems extreme, but it’s only natural, right? Wedding planning is so fun!
Photo by Smileham
Until you realize that, since it is all you think about, it is ALL you have to talk about. I went out with one of my bridesmaids and her new boyfriend the other night. She was just back in to town from an interview in Austin, Texas and her new dude was just back from 3 months on a ranch in (only coincidentally) Texas, so I was really excited to hang with them both and catch up with my girl. This was the first time I would really get to hang out with her boyfriend. She really likes him, and if he’s gonna be around for a while, I want to like him and for him to like me, too! I invited them to a new, cool, swanky joint that opened up right behind my apartment. It’s one of those foodie-type burger joints with signature cocktails. I was sure to impress both my bridesmaid and the boyfriend with my taste and awesome personality! As they arrived, we greeted each other with hugs and grabbed a spot at the bar. Pleasantries were exchanged but as soon as my bridesmaid asked, “So, what’s new?” I immediately replied with, “Well, I think I’m going to do a long-sleeved wedding gown because I think it’s so different and…” and continued with, “and I think we’re going to do signature cocktails named after our cats and…” and continued with, “and each centerpiece will have a succulent because it goes with the desert theme and…” I went on and on. I looked and noticed the boyfriend’s eyes completely glazed over after several minutes of this and I began to have an out-of-body experience. It was like I could watch myself as I droned on about vows and shoes, and I could hear how awful and boring I sounded. There was a time and a place for this and it was NOT while you’re trying to get to know someone. So, I tried to stop. I tried. ‘Change the subject, Andrea’ I thought. ‘Think of something else! Let’s see, current events?? You haven’t read the news in weeks! New music? What was the name of that band? Politics?!?! DAMMIT!’ I could not think of a single thing to talk about that was not wedding related.
At home with Travis, I realized that I was probably doing the same exact thing. Weddings can really suck you in and take you out of real life! NOW I understand why couples have to cut the wedding talk down to once-a-week. But, with my wedding over a year out, I need to cut my own wedding thoughts down to once-a-week. Otherwise, I might be unbearable to be around! Now, I do think that those who are your good friends will be understanding of this and most will want to talk wedding with you. But I would also like to remain a good friend. Also, I used to be a really interesting person….
So I pledge:
* For every book or article I read about weddings, I will read a real life book or article.
* For every show I watch about weddings, I will watch a real life show.
* And finally, for every blog I write about weddings, I will write a real life blog. (To make this applicable to you, the reader, change “blog” to whatever it is that you create or think about that makes you feel good.)
I can’t believe I still have over a year until this wedding and I’m already wrangling in the crazy?? I feel a Bridezilla brewing inside of me and I’m scared.
Here’s to hoping the pledge works,
As a blogger and overall blog enthusiast, upon our engagement I made sure to add every single wedding related blog I could find to my reader. Every. Single. One. I had more than 100 posts to gaze at each day, and while it was fun at first it quickly because tiresome and then just flat out annoying. And the thing that annoyed me the most? The overused wedding theme adjectives. You’ve heard them, you have!
Rustic Handmade Traditional.
Vintage DIY OMG PLEASE STOP.
The theeeeeeemes. The adjectives. That is the second question that people ask. When is your wedding and what is the theme? At one point during my extreme frustration with the theme-machine, I created my very own: Whimsical Sharknado.
No, that isn’t really our theme.
I understand that an overall style is important for planning decor. It just gets taken too far and with many of the weddings and couples featured in the posts, it becomes very clear that the theme doesn’t resonate through their entire life. Do you typically wear cowboy boots every day? THEN WHY ARE YOU WEARING ONE WITH YOUR EXPENSIVE AND GORGEOUS WEDDING DRESS? And because of these themes, weddings look less and less personal because brides begin to think that their decor needs to fit a certain expectation. We are getting married in a barn? Then we HAVE to have burlap and mason jars. And OMG don’t even get me started on mason jars. YOU GUYS THERE ARE OTHER JARS TO USE, I PROMISE.
So what is our non-theme theme? I call it “sh*t we like.” While it is mildly brewery influenced, the decorations will just be what makes us happy. We didn’t pick set colors. I just saw some flowers I liked at Trader Joe’s and said, “THAT COLOR!” We don’t have a singular adjective to describe our wedding. Well, besides awesome. It will just be us and things that make us smile (okay, mostly me because I don’t think that garlands make Justin quite as giddy as they make me).
Whoa, hello rant post! But really, I find this to be one of the biggest conundrums with the wedding industry. Don’t let yourself get stuck in one theme…just do what makes you happiest, even if it can’t be described in one word.
Many of my 50Peach.com readers have asked me what Atlanta bridal boutiques I’ve visited and/or especially “Did you go to the one on TV???”. It’s worth mentioning that there are TONS of bridal boutiques in Atlanta and that these are the five that I personally chose to visit. And of course, that all opinions expressed here are my own.
Alfred Angelo - Dunwoody, GA – Big selection, reasonable prices and a very helpful consultant who was quick to throw on the veil, bling sash, etc to spice up the dress or evoke a reaction. This location had a very pressured-to-buy feel, in my opinion. Based on my descriptions/pictures I brought in, they picked the dresses for me. Photographs of the dresses were allowed. Everything was in my budget. It was a bit of a shock to have a male consultant, but I was asked in advance if I was comfortable with that. And for the record, I was covered in a bustier and a petticoat slip the whole time and he left the room as I transitioned in and out of those underthings. It was all very professional and discreet. I tried on about 8 dresses here, but in the end, I just didn’t find one there that wowed me. This was also my first ever dress shopping experience, so I’m glad it allowed me to get a feel for the process and the types of styles I do/don’t like. It really got the kinks out!
Follow up? I received one canned email from the store/consultant + a personal email from the consultant a week afterward, but both were still a bit on the pushy side. For example, from the personal one, “As you know your gown is the most important part of the wedding and will set the tone for everything else.” Way to make me reach for the Xanax, dude. And how about no?!?… The fact that I’m marrying my PERSON is the most important part of the wedding. Grrrr.
David’s Bridal - Atlanta, GA (Buckhead) – DB Buckhead also had a great selection, including the Vera Wang WHITE line, very reasonable prices and a super fun male consultant who was not as pushy with the sales pitch or with slapping a veil on my head. I was given a description of their dresses by designer and was allowed to pick my own top dress choices, which he then pulled in my size and brought to me. Based on those, he brought me similar designs that he thought may work. He was fun, understood what I was looking for and made it a very pleasant experience. Pictures were allowed. Everything was in my budget. I tried about 7-8 dresses here too, but nothing popped for me. In the end with David’s, as my fabulous consultant said, “Well then, your dress is not here. And that is okay.”. WOW, that was refreshing! Surprisingly, there was no pushing for a sale and no hard feelings or annoyance because I didn’t buy. Which makes me more than willing to somehow utilize David’s Bridal for something else – accessories, invites, bridesmaid dresses, etc. in the future. Classy of them.
Follow up? My consultant called me personally a few days later, asked if the stories were true about Bridals by Lori, asked if we had any luck with bridesmaid dresses and expressed his willingness to help with anything else I may need. Very sweet. I will certainly reach out to him first if I go with David’s Bridal for anything else wedding-related!
LaRaine’s Bridal - Atlanta, GA (Highlands) Hand down, my favorite boutique. From the renovated house filled with dresses and nooks and chandeliers and fireplaces to the overall warmth of their atmosphere, LaRaine’s made us feel at home and happy. Pictures were not only allowed, they were encouraged and even taken by their staff if requested. The owner LaRaine herself dropped by during my appointment, made me feel welcomed and pretty, and shared a Long Island connection with my MOH. The majority of dresses in LaRaine’s are hung in the top floor of the house, arranged by designer. I was allowed to choose my first round of 5-6 dresses and it was easy to stay in the budget – all dresses were clearly marked and there were plenty of options in my range. My consultant loved how dorky/down to earth we were and soon we had her cracking up and having fun with us. There was even a moment when I stood alone behind the curtain (practically naked) trying to cool off after trying on a particularly heavy gown and when I poked just my head out, she fanned my face with her clipboard. Bless her, because damn, it’s crazy how hot you get under all that material!
Follow up? I received a personal email from my consultant the next day, complete with little pieces of info I’d told her during my visit. Not canned. (Appreciated!) She asked if my dress was still the front runner out of all I tried on, expressed willingness to help with a 2nd appointment if needed and echoed our funny humor. The friendly, personal followup made it easy to reply back and fill her in on my findings from elsewhere. I will 100% work with this consultant at LaRaine’s Bridal if I return there for a second look.
Bridals by Lori - Atlanta, GA (Sandy Springs) Yes, THE Bridals by Lori of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress – Atlanta”. Sadly, this boutique was my only disappointing experience of the four I visited. If you would like to read my full, no-holds-barred review, you may find it here. But for the purposes of this post, I will only say that I would recommend Bridals by Lori only if your budget is above $3,500.00 – 4,000.00. If your budget is below that range, expect to encounter severely limited options of inferior quality samples. I don’t say this lightly. But it is the truth. Pictures were firmly and absolutely not allowed. (???) And see also, bringing me dresses above my budget. Not cool, yo. In summary, I’ll quote myself and say “in my humble opinion, no bride should be made to feel inferior because her budget cannot stretch to meet the price of fame.”
Follow up? It took WEEKS to hear from them, but my consultant did finally call to ask if I’d be scheduling another visit with them. I politely deferred with a promise to let her know if I needed anything else.
New Natalie’s - Norcross, GA. This place was highly recommended not only by my wedded friends but also numerous Atlanta bridal blogs (The Little Canopy has a great summary!) The difference with New Natalie’s is that they stock over 800 gowns at lower prices. Though some reviews have said it has more of a factory/department store feel, I didn’t find the experience to be any less intimate. I still had a one-on-one with a very kind consultant who bent over backwards to find what I was looking for. It was also great that they carry samples in many sizes; it’s so much easier to see the final product when the dress isn’t cinched to death or you’re popping out of it. I did this visit solo but had some friends on text-standby to weigh in on pictures. FYI, photos are not technically allowed there, but my consultant felt for me since I was alone. I tried on another 6-7 dresses at New Natalie’s, but struck out. The two that were the closest to my style were either too plain or way over the top. Nothing hit the sweet spot, unfortunately, but I do recommend New Natalie’s for Atlanta brides on a modest budget who are willing to venture outside the box a little. They have TONS of beautiful options, in all sizes, styles and budgets!
Follow up? Nothing to date.
There you have it. In summary, I was (mostly) delighted by my Atlanta dress shopping experience and learned a great deal about how the bridal gown industry operates. There are differing techniques of selling, trying on, and overall feels of appointments. In the end, it all comes down to what gives you enough warm and fuzzies to buy your dress with them. But damn, it sure helps if the boutique hits the right balance of personal, fun, professional and quality.
I’ll have another (BIG) post on the dress I actually went with soon!
Till the next wedding adventure,
In the short time I’ve been engaged, I feel like I’ve got a lot of the big stuff done. I’ve booked my venue (an awesome 1920′s theatre in downtown Greensboro), secured my photographer, found a DJ, my dress is hanging safely in my parent’s spare bedroom, and I’ve sent out my save-the-dates. My mom recommended I assemble a spreadsheet as to track my expenses. Now, to be honest with you, math and financial responsibility have never been my strong suits, so I was a little apprehensive.
She walked me through all the columns and rows, and everything looked good. I was well under budget and feeling pretty good about it. Then, today, I remembered the caterers (Apparently its in good taste to feed people when they’re coming 1,000 miles for your wedding). We’re having Carolina barbecue for our meal, which is damn tasty (and cheap). Since I don’t have to give them the final head count until 3 days before the wedding, I calculated as if every single one of our guests RSVP’d yes.
YIKES. If everyone shows up, I will officially have approximately $250 left for the following:
- Flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, etc)
- Any decorations
- Bridesmaid gifts
- Hair/make-up for myself
Now, I know every single person we invite will likely not show up, but it’s still enough to skyrocket my anxiety through the roof, and start freaking out a little about my budget. Before today, I was fairly confident that I wasn’t going to have too many problems staying in the lines.
It looks like it’s time to get creative, and I would love to enlist my fellow broke-ass brides in any tips, tricks, or things I can do to get my life together. Please help me!
Choosing a venue can be one of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning. And in San Diego, the options are endless. You can get married at the beach, on the bay, at the beach, at a winery, at the beach, on a ranch, at the beach, in the city, and also the beach. Did I mention THE BEACH? If you are sensing snark, your snark-sense is working. We are the furthest from beach-loving people as we could possibly be. Why? SAND. Also, sand fleas. I will not elaborate, lest you spend the rest of the day inadvertently scratching phantom itches.
After our engagement (and maybe a little before because at the end of the day, I am woman) we started browsing venue options. Our search continued until I said, “How about a brewery?” and Justin replied, “This is why I am marrying you.” I searched the most popular brewery site in San Diego – I won’t give it a name but I will tell you that it rhymes with “phone.” The food and beverage minimum for this site was literally more than I ever dreamed one would spend on a wedding which led to yet another WE CANNOT AFFORD ANYTHING emotional breakdown. Actually more like, “I would NEVER spend that much on a wedding WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE” breakdown.
Which led us to look up Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens. We were both very familiar with this site because it is down the street from where we live. One point for convenience! Beyond the uniqueness of the grounds, a few things really set KSBG apart from other venue options – most notably that it is all inclusive. There are no separate charges for parking, cake cutting, chairs, table setups, linens, you name it. Many of the other venues I glanced at made me appalled at the nitpicky, nickel-and-dime charges they come up with. And the bonus? They have their own bakery and DJ contracted already. Which means less work/decision making for us to do. Total score.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. The grounds and gardens are GORGEOUS. Hello, you are going to give me all of your beer and do half of the work for me AND be completely gorgeous? SOLD. Really, it was a no-brainer. And in the end we are proud to say that we looked at ONE venue. One singular venue that met every single one of our wedding desires. KSBG, our one true wedding venue love. Am I bragging? Yes, yes I am. Because this was a huge decision that we made incredibly simple and are more than confident in our choice. And I also just spent a good two hours looking at return address stamps so I needed to remind myself when the important decisions happened…
The one person who is not happy with our decision is my father. My Bud Light Lime loving father, whom we are forcing to drink “that fancy shit beer,” because obviously they only offer Karl Strauss products (which are a DELIGHT). We are trying to acclimate him; so far, we have not succeeded. Stay tuned for updates on our quest to teach my father the ways of fancy beer!
From the time Daniel and I started considering marriage, the wedding world and its inhabitants had warned me about the inevitable wedding inquisition. As a newly engaged woman, I expected to be bombarded by questions about the proposal, the wedding date, and even wedding minutiae like the kind of veil I may wear. And trust me, I have been. However, I was not expecting inquiries that are blatantly sexist and, for lack of a better word, question the integrity of my and Daniel’s relationship. I realize our situation is unorthodox – being a young, international couple is not normal, especially in not-so-urban midwest America – but I am still shocked by some of the questions we’ve been forced to answer.
Before I go any further, I want to offer a disclaimer. Daniel and I love our friends and family, and the majority of them have been entirely supportive. When we have received inappropriate questions, we know they come from a place of love and concern for us, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.
Now then, listen up! If you are under 25 and in any kind of long distance (especially international) relationship, here are 12 tough (and some just plain dumb) questions to watch out for.
These first four questions are only for me, and I hate to play the gender card, but…
1. Are you going to finish college?
Well, since it’s still the 1950s, and I was only at university to receive my MRS. degree anyway, you’re right! I may as well drop my books and pick up a spatula. My simple mind clearly can’t juggle academics and housewifery at the same time. (For the record, if you’re the domestic type – fantastic, I’m not knocking it! But if you knew me, you’d know how ridiculous this question is.)
Seriously, though. I’m only one semester away from graduation. Even if I weren’t that close to done, my personal growth is more important to me AND to Daniel than my “wifely” duties.
2. Are you still going to graduate school?
See question 1. In case that’s not clear enough, I’m still going when I am ready. In fact, being engaged to Daniel only increases my desire to go, because we will be going to graduate school together and supporting one another through it.
3. When are you going to start a family?
Well, we already have a son, Thomas (my cat). We’ll probably expand when we live in an apartment or house that allows us to have two pets, and then we’ll get a dog (to be named Sigmund). Oh? You mean human children? Ha! Never.
4. Don’t you think you’re a little young to get married?
Did I miss something in Biology class? Is there some magical age where the “marriage gene” switches on and one is suddenly fit for life-long monogamy? No. I think marriage “age” is about maturity level. I think I’m ready. I was just lucky enough to find the perfect partner early in life, just like my parents did before me.
Now for the international gems. We’re not amused by those either.
5. How can you possibly know each other well enough to get married?
This is one we get a lot, because from the outside, our relationship seems like five visits, totaling about 14 weeks. So, for those of you who don’t know, thanks to modern technology, people can now communicate face-to-face via the internet and spend hours upon hours getting to know one another. Like Daniel and I have, every day, for multiple hours a day, for the last year and a half.
6. Are you just marrying Daniel for immigration purposes?
No. If you knew how time-consuming and how expensive the visa process was, you wouldn’t even ask such a thing.
7. Are you worried Daniel is just using you for a green card?
No. Trust me, if all he wanted was a mail-order bride for immigration purposes, he could have found someone much less emotionally-demanding than me. Not to sound high-maintenance, but I expect a lot of emotional commitment in a marriage-worthy relationship, and if he were just looking for a green card, he would be idiotic to pick me.
FYI: From a legal standpoint, a green card is a few steps after marriage. So, asking if I’m a green card ticket is inaccurate. A green card is a work permit, not an immigration visa. And besides, have you seen the American job market lately? Just saying, the economic recession is still real in a lot of job fields.
8. What if Daniel moves here and it doesn’t work out?
What if you get married to your next door neighbor and it doesn’t work out? Then, it doesn’t work out! At least we gave it a proper shot. Legally speaking, he’ll get deported and go home to his beautiful native country and his loving family and friends. I’ll go home to my beautiful native state and my loving family and friends. Seriously, though, thanks for assuming our marriage will fail.
9. Why can’t you wait a few more years to get married?
This question normally has different angles. Why can’t we wait until we’re both done with graduate school? Because we don’t want to wait another five to seven years to be together. Why can’t we wait until we know each other better? Because we already know each other better than we know anyone…and don’t you think we’d know each other even better if we could spend more time together in person? Oh, and maybe, it’s because we love each other and want to be married.
10. How do your families feel about all of this?
Honestly, this is really difficult for them. Daniel’s family is losing him to another country. My family is gaining the responsibility of helping Daniel when he arrives. Both families are facing an unorthodox situation the likes of which they never dreamed would happen. We’re all just making the best of it. Overall, though, both sides are handling it with optimism and goodwill.
11. Is 90 days really enough time to plan a wedding?
To quote my mother, “I threw together a wedding in six weeks, and my marriage has lasted 25 years.” So, yes, it is possible. It is not ideal. That is why we are thinking of doing two “weddings” – one to handle the legal side and one to handle the celebration side.
12. Why couldn’t you find a nice American boy/Australian girl?
This is the WORST question ever. A) It implies that the other person is not “nice” because of his/her respective nationality. B) It implies that we chose to fall in love with each other. C) It implies that the burden of the relationship is on our family/friends, who we have gravely disappointed. Our answer? WE JUST DIDN’T. We found each other, and we’re happy. Capiche?
On the bright side, these questions have really benefited Daniel and me. Even though they can be a bit scary and upsetting to answer, their persistence in our engagement has forced us to reiterate our commitment to each other and helped us to grow stronger as a couple. No matter what comes next, I know that if we can face these questions, we can face anything together.
Okay, rant over. International Bridezilla out.
I hate to use the F-word, but I’ll admit it. I am a feminist.
I am an independent woman of the new millennium! I am a defender of equal rights! I will not be the woman behind any man; I will be the woman NEXT to him, for we are equal and balanced in every way! AND I would never take a man’s name! How about allowing MY name to last through generations! We’ll hyphenate! And FURTHERMORE… Wait…. What’s that? Is that a ring?!?! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! “I’m gonna be Mrs. Spencer! I’m gonna be Mrs. Spencer!” It’s. So. Sparkly. How does it look when I’m typing? How does look when I’m driving? How does it look when I’m drinking coffee? How does it look when I point North? How does it look when….
Engagement rings are funny, aren’t they? They’re like these “sold” tags we put on women to show the world they’re no longer sadly hanging on the sale rack. “Yes, some very nice man came along and offered to take me home, water me, and feed me. I mean, thank God for men, right?!” (Despite the sarcasm and all the feminism talk, men are cool. Just to be clear.) But really, if you delve deep into engagement ring history, rings have been used to tag, own, and legally bind women for like, thousands of years. Cavemen used to tie braided grass around the wrists and ankles of their chosen ladies to keep their spirits under the man’s control. (I get it. Even I get a little emotional when my wrists and ankles are not properly decorated.) Ancient Egyptians buried the paired deceased with silver or gold wire wrapped around their left, 4th finger because they believed it was directly connected to the heart by the Vena Amoris, or the vein of love. (Ok, so this is actually kind of sweet but ALL veins are connected to the heart and thanks for that super sweet gift after I’m dead.) Men didn’t even start wearing wedding bands to signify they’ve been bagged regularly until the 20th century. So, why are we women putting up with such a tradition? Because they’re really, really pretty. And sparkly.
Once I get used to the glare from my new symbol of ownership, I would like to find a balance between my feminism and our modern day adaptations of marriage tradition. Ultimately, these traditions are what you make of them and I certainly imagine incorporating them into my wedding day. And when I do imagine this, it is beautiful. And I really love my ring. I LOVE it.
We chose not to do the traditional diamond engagement ring. My ring is a natural aquamarine stone (I say “natural” because there are lab-created stones out there that are not as precious but are less expensive, FYI) with diamonds around and down the sides alongside deep blue sapphires in a white gold setting. It’s big and sparkly and that makes it perfect for me. The best part about not doing a traditional diamond engagement ring, is that it is usually less expensive and there are so many more unique options. Any ring will work if you and your fiance love it! (Also, it’s rather large and it’s a big hit at parties when I pretend to have a hard time lifting my left arm. Real dramatic-like. So, my ring has been good for my comedy too.)
I also thought I’d share a couple of recently engaged friends’ rings who also went the non-traditional route and they are SPECTACTULAR!
Check out Julie-Joy’s ring. She has a rectangle setting with a cluster of diamonds instead of one large diamond in the middle in a platinum setting and I must say, pictures do not do this ring justice! More diamonds = more sparkle!
And check out Caroline’s ring. She has a beautiful blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds in a yellow gold setting. It is so fun, yet so elegant!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against diamonds. They can also be very unique and if we had the cash laying around, I would’ve insisted upon this Tiffany’s spectacle:
Alas, I do not have $250,000 for that ring. So, diamond alternatives are the inexpensive and unique answer to the simple diamond for even the most feminist of brides who are looking to show a little personality on that Vena Amoris.
Here’s to feeling pretty and making as much money as our male counterparts,
I wanted to make a second post sooner but I actually really hurt my back and have been trying to figure out how to go to both my jobs, make it to class, and even find/buy a wedding dress with about 50% range of motion.
My wedding is just under five months away and I realized a few weeks ago, “Holy crap, I haven’t found a dress yet!” I am not a sample size, so this is a concern as that means I can’t buy off the rack. I went to a bridal shop down here (Southern Oregon) with my future mother in law and my future sister in law three weeks ago and it was an absolute disaster. The shop was rundown, the consultant had bad breath, and I was feeling really pressured to choose from the “bigger” dresses because apparently they don’t order out, just sell what they have in store and alter it for you. My future sister in law bought her dress at this shop for $300 a couple years ago and insisted they had a huge selection. She was right, they do have a huge selection, over 600 dresses, all size 0-10. What happened next was probably one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. The consultant put me in a hideous dress which was about 5 sizes too large for me and insisted it “fit perfectly”. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror before I burst out in tears (not happy tears, very very sad tears) because I felt gigantic and disgusting. She brought me back into the room and said she had some “better” dresses and came back with 3 horrendous dresses at the top of my budget. I shut down completely and told her to help me out of the under garments because I was leaving. It was an awkward ride home, I was holding back massive tears and had it set in my mind that because of this setback, we would have to cancel our wedding. A very dramatic night unfolded in which we came to an agreement for us to travel to Portland (the closest large city) so I could go back to the smaller boutique I had an incredible experience at about 9 months ago.
A few days later I twisted my ankle and sprained something in my lower back. I literally could not stand up straight, dress myself, or bend in any direction and was in agonizing pain. I missed work and school the entire week, setting me back both financially and academically. I was afraid that my injury might cause me to miss my dress appointment in Portland and thus ruin my chances to get the dress experience I was after. Thankfully, I started to make some progress, and paired with heating/cold packs and medication I made it the 6 hours to Portland.
I got to spend a lot of time with my maid of honor and she even got to come with me to the dress appointment. The experience was completely successful. The shop is beautiful, they carry gorgeous but affordable gowns, and they understand that I might not be a size 10, but I want to see myself in a beautiful dress all the same. I was not shoved into any ill-fitting frocks, but in fact, had my choice of gorgeous organza, silk, lace, and taffeta.
I tried on and fell in love with over 12 dresses, while narrowing them down to just two that I loved: a lace, empire waist, champagne colored Casablanca:
And a ruffled organza mermaid/drop waist Mori Lee ombre gown:
Obviously they are completely different and I loved them for different reasons. I could not take off the Casablanca but I have loved the Mori Lee dress since I first found it online about 7 months ago. I did end up buying the Mori Lee gown because it just felt right and I am so glad for my decision.
Wow: I bought my dress! I do have to go back in late May/early June, cutting it very close to my July 5th wedding for alterations, but I am happy and I feel very relieved. I was told that most brides do the dress thing really soon after getting engaged and leave other things to last minute; I’m not sure why it wasn’t a huge priority of mine. I guess I felt like I had so much time with an 18 month engagement but suddenly, time is going really fast!
My back is still messed up and I have to drop a class to make time for physical therapy, but it is what it is. Aside from getting my dress, we also ordered our invitations and rsvp cards because VistaPrint is having a sale!
All in all, I had a really productive week but now I’m heading into midterms and I’m moving next weekend so I think wedding planning will be on the back burner for another week and a half.