Sunday, May 31, 2009

Into the Forest

I was just walking my dog and my parent's dog with my sister a week or so ago when it occurred to me that the trail we were walking them on would be perfect for wedding pictures!
I've mentioned before my love of trees and tree motifs. Since the weather in my part of the world is so unpredictable, an outside wedding was just out of the question. There went my vision of standing with my man under a huge tree with chandeliers hanging from the branches.

The first bend in the trail

The trail makes you feel like you are in the deep woods. Best of all, it's all paved, only 1/2 mile long, has countless places to take pictures, and is steps away from a restroom and a parking lot. Perfect for ladies in heels! The park is only 10 minutes from the middle of town, so we wouldn't have to drive much to get there. I think pictures with the bridal party would be really gorgeous out here, and I'll get my dose of tree loveliness.

This beauty is right at the trailhead....would it be totally weird for me to bring a chandelier and hang it in this tree and then take pictures? I so want to!

So what do you all think? Am I too hung up on the tree thing? Do you think the trail would work for pictures?

PS-There is a fantastic book I read a couple weeks ago called Into the Forest by Jean Hegland. You can find it here on Amazon. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I just finished reading...

The Virgin's Knot, by Holly Payne.


It was good. I like reading about places and people I have never read about before, and this book gave me that. The book takes place in the mountains of Turkey in a tiny Islamic village. The main character weaves rugs that have mythical qualities, according to the villagers. I don't want to give anything away, so I will stop there. The book was an enjoyable read, but my only issue with it was that the author kept allluding to a couple mysteries that were never wrapped up. Maybe they were wrapped up, but just so subtlely that I didn't pick up on them? Loose ends in books bother me. This book was worth reading, but I probably won't read it again.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Engagement Ring Insurance

Ryan and I just got my ring insured.
I know, I know, we should have done it a long time ago...we've been engaged since April 20th, and we just now did it.
My wise dad told me to go to State Farm, where he gets all of his insurance from. Ryan and I thought we had to insure the ring on a homeowner's policy, but when I called State Farm, she said that the best way to do it is to get a personal article policy. The personal article policy is a stand alone policy, and has no deductible. It covers any damage, loss, or theft of my ring, and was a mere $30. Oh yes, $30. All we had to bring was the appraisal. We can also add the wedding bands onto the same policy.

Gratuitous Ring Shot

I feel better now that I know everything is taken care of, ring wise. I had never seen the appraisal before--I had no idea that Ryan had picked such a high quality stone. It is completely colorless, and is very well cut. Ryan got really into the different clarities and grades throughout the ring shopping process.

Have you gotten your ring insured?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Blogger

A great friend of mine has just started her very own blog. Melissa and I graduated from the same Public Relations program, and she was always an execellent partner when it came to group projects. She is new to the blogging world, so if you have a second today, pop over and say hello at Love you Melissa, we need to get together soon!

The Economy and Me

I haven't mentioned how the economy has affected me yet.

I graduated from college in December of 2008 with my bachelor's degree in Public Relation. As of November of 2008, I had a full time job lined up a ready to go. By January, I still hadn't gone full time at that job, and was told that it wasn't going to happen. I work part time as a secretary at a big hospital in town, so I had some income coming in. Once I got the bad news about my full time job, I started applying to jobs in a 50 mile radius like crazy. I had an offer to sell insurance on a 100% commission basis, but I didn't feel comfortable with that. I had a few interviews, and was told on several occasions that I was competing with people that had 5 or 6 years of experience.

Here I am in May, still working part-time at the hospital. I know how lucky I am to have a job, but I can't help being frustrated with the fact that I am not in the field that I want to be in, and that I'm only part-time.

I had a really great job interview last week, so we'll see what happens. I'm at the point where I don't get excited or hopeful about potential leads anymore, because I have had so many let downs! This job would be really good for me career wise, and I really respect the owner of the company--it would be a great situation overall.

Ryan just graduated from grad school the Saturday before last (yay!), and he has been applying for jobs too. He wants to coach distance running collegiately, and he would be so good at it. You should see him with his athletes - it is so obvious that he was put on this earth to coach.

If I get this job that I just interviewed for, and he gets a coaching job, then I will probably have to stay here for a while, and Ryan and I would try our hand (again) at a long distance relationship (we started dating in March of 2008, and he spent May-August working in his hometown of St Louis, about 2 hours away from my hometown). If Ryan doesn't get a coaching job, he might stay here in my hometown and volunteer with the University's team to get another year of experience. If he does that, though, he would have to find a job where he could be done by 2:45 p.m. so that he could help out at practice. Or, he could find a high school teaching job (his undergrad degree is in education) and coach at the high school level. The only caveat with this is that once he gets into having his own program, he won't want to leave and keep looking for collegiate coaching jobs. I am stubborn and insist that he MUST pursue coaching at a college because it's now or never (we have no mortgage, no kids, why not?).

This is all probably very confusing, so my apologies! Ryan and I have gone over and over our options so many times that my mind is all in knots. It's all up to a far greater power than us, so I do my best to trust that everything is going to work it's way out the way it's supposed to. Being a control freak, this is nightmarishly hard. I'm a planner by nature, so it's super hard for me to not know where either Ryan and/or I will be in a month.

To wrap this up, I am lucky to have a job, even if I am only part time and do not get enough hours. Everything is very up in the air for Ryan and I right now, but we're in a very transitory part of our lives, so this is to be expected, I suppose. There's a line from St. Theresa's prayer that I really like that I try to focus it on "May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be." Until Ryan and I's job situation gets figured out, the real wedding planning must wait. Until then, it will remain at inspiration only!

How has the economy affected you and your loved ones? Has it affected your wedding, and how so?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The More the Merrier

This is my new motto for our wedding!

Ryan and I spent the last 2 nights working on our guest list. Between the 2 of us, and including absolutely everyone we wanted, we came up with 339 people.

We both have an A List and a B List, and the 339 includes both Ryan's and mine A and B List. I feel kind of terrible having a B List, but the reality is, there are people we very well might grow apart from in the next year.

I'm thinking that at least 30-35 of my family list of 100ish are not going to show. My extended family isn't very close, and they are very spread out, so I doubt many will be making the trip. I've always had a very small group of friends/close family members, so I won't be crushed if some can't make it.

Anyway, if we invite absolutely everyone on our lists, I am sure that at least 39 will not show, and we will therefore be right at the number we need to be at-300. We'll probably budget the reception for 300 people.

Putting the guest list together was really, really tough. Ryan felt like he had to defend the people on his list, and I felt like the number was so high that I couldn't add anyone. We talked lots about it, and we are both happy with the number we came up with. I am glad it's over! I knew going into it that the guest list was going to be difficult, and I was right. I was a big part of the problem, to be totally honest. A mean, nasty little part of me was having a rough time giving up my vision of a small, intimate affair. Having his whole family there is so important to Ryan, that I just had to get over it.

You know what I'm looking forward to doing with all of these wonderful people who are going to be there to support us? We can take a picture like the fabulous one from the end of "The Shining!"


What did you think was going to be the hardest thing about planning your wedding? How big/small is your guest list?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I just finished reading...

In the Shadow of the Ark, by Anne Provoost. It's kind of like The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, where the author takes a story from the Bible and fleshes it out, gives it a back story and a new perspective. It's fiction of course, but I love having different ways of looking at stories.

I highly recommend this book, it was a great read. In the book, you find out that Noah's sons weren't so righteous after all, so you're left with this questions of, why them? Why were they chosen and saved? Did God really eradicate evil from the world like he wanted? How were babies evil, why did they have to die?

Have you read this, and did you like/dislike it? Why? What have you read lately?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Running2Win Log of the Week

For those of you unfamiliar with Running2Win, it's a fantastic website where you can log all of your runs. You can track so many variables, like heartrate, the weather that day, how hard the run felt, etc. It's free, too! Here's what I logged for today:

Ran with Ryan when we got back from Branson. It rained for the first 2 miles, and it felt great. We ran from Ryan's apartment to Lacroix church and back, so lots of hills. The first mile was the fastest, the second mile the second fastest, etc, so each mile got progressively slower. I ran the 4 in 33:49, so an 8:27/mile pace. I think I am more fit than I think I am.

The Foundation

Ryan and I are working to build a solid a foundation for our relationship.

He's not a big fan of counseling of any sort, so pre-marital counseling was a problem for him. He got an emphasis in counseling with his Master's degree, and he feels that counseling is someone trying to tell him what to do, and he doesn't like that. I had a really idealistic view of pre-marital counseling, and really wanted it, so this was a small bone of contention between the two of us, and one of the rare things we just couldn't compromise on. More on this later.

What does work for both of us are books. We do them at our own pace, and Ryan doesn't feel like he's being ordered around, while I feel like we're talking through things that really need to be talked through. It's a win-win! Before we got engaged, we worked through this book together:


It's a Christian book, and it covered some faith stuff that Ryan and I just skipped. This book was kind of on the repititive side, but I think that the point is to make sure that there is consistency in the answers given. Ryan and I had already talked about quite a few things in this book, but it was still helpful. We would work through these in car rides to St. Louis when we went up to visit his family, and we also did a few of the questions at the gym when we were on side-by-side ellipticals!

Before we got engaged, this book was recommended to me by a friend:


I really liked this book. The premise is that people need to be loved in their primary love language for them to receive love. For instance, my primary love language is words of affirmation. I feel really loved when Ryan tells me that he loves me and why, etc. If Ryan was doing things for me (acts of service), like washing my car and walking my dog, then it would be nice and I would appreciate it, but it wouldn't necessarily make me feel loved. I asked Ryan what his primary love language is, and his reply was, "I feel loved." I laughed! I still think that's funny.

Right now I'm reading this book, which is also the topic of the book discussion over at Weddingbee:


This book is really good. I like it (and I think Ryan will like it to for the same reason), because it's based on solid research, not just opinions and conjecture. I'm only half way through it, and I'm really getting a lot out of it. There are great little exercises to do with your partner, too. Ryan and I need to start doing these, come to think of it. This book actually changed my mind about marriage counseling, as it points out that the whole point of marriage counseling is conflict resolution, and there is so much more to a strong marriage than that.

These books have given Ryan and I a way to work on our relationship and make it as good as it can be without having to do counseling, which Ryan isn't a fan of. They are definitely working so far, for us at least.

What do you do to work on your relationship with your honey?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

God Bless the Broken Road

I never, ever pictured myself getting married.

I was not the little girl who acted out her wedding. I do remember pretending that I was a priest (?? Must be from all of those hours spent in mass during Catholic school) and Laura Ingalls Wilder, but never a bride.

I never even dated very much. I think I had 2 guys I was "official" with in high school, for a few months per relationship, nothing big. (Oh and they were winners...yeah not really).

In college, I had a ton of guy friends (go Lambda Chi!), but not a boyfriend in sight. I came away from those college years with some great, great friends....but no romantic relationship to speak of.

Before I met Ryan, I was tired of the whole dating situation. I was done with the bar scene, and the town I live in is not big, so there aren't lots of opportunities to meet new people. My best friend and I were not getting along, and I was spending more time with my family and doing what made me happy.

Needless to say, when I met Ryan, I was not expecting anything. I thought he was cute, added him as a friend on Facebook, and proceeded to become great friends with him over about a 6 month period. I quit talking to my best friend altogether (trust me, it was a good thing), and Ryan stepped up and took that place in my life. In April, he went away for spring break, and I missed him. I was talking to my parent's pastor when he mentioned that I had brought up Ryan's name about 5 times in the last 30 minutes. He told me to really re-evaluate how I felt about him. I took a long country drive by myself that day, and lo and behold, realized much I wanted to be with this man.

Ryan took me totally off guard. It wasn't long before Ryan (also a loner in terms of relationships) and I were talking marriage, so I've had a while to get used to the idea. I am thrilled to be his wife and his partner in life. I am still in a state of awe about the whole situation. "This man He wants to be with me? He wants to spend the rest of his life with me? I make him happy? I got this unbelievably lucky?" I think that every day!

I hope I always have that sense of awe and wonder that I am with him. I think it makes me cherish him and appreciate him that much more.

How do you feel about getting married? Did you ever see yourself going down that path in life?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Take My Picture

I had no idea how expensive photography is!

One venue that Ryan and I are looking at has an exclusive photographer (isn't that weird?). Her basic package starts at $3000. It includes a mere 4 hours of coverage, and at the bottom it says "no additional coverage available for this package." That makes me angry every time I read it, especially since the next package costs $6000. Grrr...granted, with every package you do get a CD of all of your images, which is a must-have for me when it comes to photography packages. I like her style, but it's not like I am totally in love with her work.

I found a photographer from St. Louis who was listed as The Knot top pick for 2008-2009, and is a member of WPJA (that's the Wedding Photojournalist Association). She is amazing, you can check out Gail Fleming here. I love love love her work, and her basic package starts at $1200, and includes a CD of all the images and 6 hours of coverage. Even if we have to pay her for travel, it would still be cheaper than the photographer I mentioned above.


A friend recommended the photographer he and his wife used in their wedding. They are out of St. Louis, and are somewhat reasonable, but it costs $1100 to buy the CD of images.

I knew photography was going to be expensive, but goodness, I had no idea! Photography is something that I am not willing to compromise on, so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and pay. Hopefully the stars will align and Ryan will love Ms. Fleming's work and she will be free the day of our wedding. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because I'm very attached to her already.

I also have secretly entertained having Jenna from That Wife and Jenna Cole Photography come up to do the wedding...but she'd have to travel quite a ways, and I figure that would put that idea out of our budget.

Did the cost of photography surprise you? Am I just cheap?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I just finished reading...

The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway.

It was really, really good. I like those books where there are different people and their stories running around, and then all of these different stories converge, and this was one of those books.

The book centers around the Siege of Sarajevo (I am embaressed to say that I had to look it up on Wikipedia). I am stunned that this was going on in my life time, and I was totally oblivious. In my defense, I was 6 when it started, but still, I can't believe I was totally ignorant of what happened.

Anyway, if you're looking to flesh out your summer reading list, add this book to it. It's not a long read, and I couldn't put it down.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My BFF Martha...Again

I KNOW, more Martha. It's getting ridiculous...but she now has an invitation line with Crane's stationary. *Sheepish shrug.* Bear with me here, these are so pretty it's worth it!

This is the Flourish invitation suite. I think it is gorgeous. For 300 invites, it will cost $586, just for the invitations and envelopes. It looks like you have to pay extra for the response cards, save the dates, and at home cards. They all match, though. This is the weird thing--I was trying to figure out how much the extra stuff cost, so I clicked on the personalize button, and at the top it said the price subtotal was $754. What?! Do they charge you to personalize it? And if so, why is it never mentioned? How much do the extras cost? So many questions, Crane Stationary!

This is the Cartouche Aqua suite.

This one costs $610 for 300 invitations and envelopes. This suite did the same thing when I hit the personalize button, but the price subtotal was $850! What is that?!

Ryan and I haven't budgeted for invitations yet, but I have a feeling these will not be fitting into whatever budget we do come up with. I also contacted a stationer who works out of their home, and the rough price quote she gave me was $600-800 for 100 invitations. I guess this will be a DIY route for us!

On another note, Kate Spade also does an invitation line for Crane's, too.

Aren't they pretty? I love that green.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Just Isn't Enough

I am a collector.

I like to have lots of books around.

I really like antique mirrors. The smokier the glass, the better. One wall in my living room is covered in about 10 antique mirrors.

You can see my dog on the couch behind me. He's so cute!

I also like to collect shoes. Wearable art. I love them.

I recently started a new collection - creepy religious art. It's heavy on Jesus right now, but I plan on expanding.

This gem is a holographic Jesus. Yes, a holographic Jesus. I managed to get a picture of both sides of the holograph. The first one is Jesus at the last supper, and the other holograph is Jesus with lambs. Check out this first picture - Jesus' head from the other holograph is watching over the last supper. So creepy, I love it. It was on the expensive side at $10, but I couldn't pass it up.

I just picked this up last weekend with my mom and my sister Allison. I'm giving the credit here to my mom, because she spotted it. It's a picture of Jesus with these disembodied hands reaching for him. It is appropriately disturbing. It cost a mere 50 cents. Sorry the picture is on the fuzzy side, I did my best.

This last one is a fan with Jesus on it. Jesus isn't so much the creepy one, but check out that lamb. Scary.

There is a 3D Virgin Mary at an antique store in town right now, but she's on the pricey side at $15. My limit is $10 per piece for this collection. Ryan says that when we move in together this collection must be put in an unseen place. I suggested the bathroom, but he said no.

What do you collect? Anything odd?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crunching the Numbers

Ryan and I are wealthy people.

We have roofs over our heads and more food than we could ever eat. We have closets full of clothes and families and friends who love us. We have 3 bachelor's degrees and one master's degree between the two of us. So while I consider us enormously rich, we are not able to spend the national average on a wedding (which is $25,000, FYI).

Even if we had millions of dollars to burn, we're not the kind of people to spend $200,000 on a wedding. I think it's excessive.

So we are trying to go about our wedding by spending as little as possible.

This, as it turns out, is not nearly as simple as I thought it would be.

In every "How to Save Money on your Wedding" article I have ever read, the first thing they tell you to do is to cut your guest list.

Ryan and I both come from exceptionally large families. My mom and my dad both had 6 brothers and sisters - and that's just my side of the family. Ryan's family is even bigger than mine, and they are very close knit. So there is no way we can cut our guest list. What are we going to do, start cutting cousins? Not happening. As of right now, we're looking at a guest count of 350.
We're trying to spend money on the things that are important to us. For him, this means having his whole family there. For me, it's a killer dress and great photography (that sounds like I don't care about my family. My extended family is very spread out and we don't really keep in touch. My immediate family and a few close friends mean the world to me, and of course it matters to me that they be there). The other stuff can take a back seat. This means that I will not have huge floral centerpieces with my favorite blossoms, or favors for our guests, or give my bridesmaid's Tiffany necklaces, or have a videographer.

But that's ok. I'm marrying a wonderful man, and that's all that really matters. The rest is just extra.

Reception-wise, I can't see us being able to spend much more than $20/head for everything. With 300 guests, that is $6,000! To me, that is an astronomical sum to spend on a meal. I've been quoted prices as high as $70/head, and that isn't feasible for Ryan and I.

How are you dealing with your wedding costs?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring

I am an incredibly optimistic person, but I try not to stick my head in the sand at the same time. It is entirely possible that it could rain on my wedding day. Sh*t happens. I will still want outside pictures, especially if we get married in my hometown, where there is nowhere indoors to take pictures in the event of precipitation.

Vintage umbrellas are the perfect solution! How cute would these be? I am especially partial to the plaid one. I don't think it would matter if they matched the colors or not, do you think it would?

I found all of these on Ebay just buy typing "vintage umbrella" in the search engine. Since Ryan and I aren't getting married for at least a year, I'll have plenty of time to scour Ebay for just the right ones. It also gives me another excuse to go to some thrift shops and flea markets - love it.

What are you doing in case of rain? Are you using any fun props in your wedding pictures?

Ready Ready Ready, Ready to Run

Me as a smoker in the spring of 2006. I might have had a few in this picture.

I quit smoking in October of 2007. I took Chantix to quit (find out more about Chantix here), and I took it for a month and a half. After I quit taking it, I got hungry. Hungrier than I had been since I started smoking in 2003. So I ate a lot.

I gained a few pounds, but I'm petite, and it really shows on me. So I had to do something about it. I started running while Ryan and I were just friends (I actually quit smoking just 2 weeks before I met him. Weird, huh?), and I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I was running 1 or 2 miles a few times a week. By May 2008, when Ryan and I had been dating for just a month and a half, I asked for his expertise. He's coached high school distance running for years, and he's helped coach collegiately for a year now, so he really knows his stuff. He got me started on a running program and patiently built up my mileage.

I didn't make these lifestyle changes because of Ryan, I was in the process of making them when I met him. He's been a big help and support.
Now it's less than 2 years after quitting smoking, and I've got a couple 5k's and 2 half marathons under my belt. My mom, who smoked for years, quit about a month after I did, and now we run together!

I'm pondering where to go from here, running-wise. Being in Boston and watching the marathon really got me wanting to run a marathon. My little sister, Mary, who runs for her high school team, said she would train for and run a qualifying marathon and then Boston with me. This would be ideal, except that it will be a while. She's only 16, so we would have to wait to start training until she graduated from high school. She's considering running at the collegiate level (she's really talented), so if she does that, then we'll have to wait until she's done with college. By then, I will hopefully be popping out children. I'm pretty sure they recommend not marathoning when knocked up.

So I kind of want to start training for a marathon now. There are a few things holding me back. One, I don't think I want to do it unless someone else is doing it with me. That might sound silly, but 19 miles is a long time to be by yourself on the road for long runs. Training for those half marathons on my own was really tough, and I am not sure if I could motivate myself without a training partner. Also, if Ryan gets a coaching job in who knows where, will there be a marathon close by? We'll be saving for the wedding, so I doubt we'll want to spend money to travel to a race.

As of right now, I'm thinking a half marathon in the fall is a good goal, and then I'll go from there. Ryan said half marathons are much more common than full marathons, so no matter where we move, we should be able to find one close by. I want to run the half marathon and the full in about 8:30 minute miles, as I'm looking to qualify for Boston, so we'll see. I did my 8 mile long run on Sunday in 8:34's, so I have a solid fitness foundation to go from.

I think I am not fair with myself. I need to be happy with the progress I have made, and much more realistic about what I can achieve. It's hard because the only running times I hear about are Ryan's athlete's (and they are Division I college athletes) times, and my All State runner sister Mary (she got 22nd in the state for the 5k last fall), so I don't think I am being realistic with myself.

I never would have imagined 2 years ago, as a smoker, that I would be where I am now. I feel so much stronger, and better all around.

What are you training for, and how far have you come? Any other ex-smokers out there?

Ryan and I on the finish line at the Boston Marathon

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Invitation Inspiration

I love Printable Press. As in really love them. I love their philosophy: "an affordable alternative to custom stationery without sacrificing lovely design." Hey thanks Printable Press, because I am in dire need of affordable! I love the way they work - say you want invitations and matching thank you cards. The pdf design for the invites will run you $70, the thank you notes $30. She even gives you an idea of how much it would cost with paper and printing, too. For tech-dummies like myself, she also provides excellent printing instructions. It's a great way to DIY your invites but still have fabulous, professional design...because not all of us are professional graphic designers.

Remember when I told you I love a good tree motif? Don't say I didn't warn you.

Hello Gothic Forest, I think you might have to be mine.

Let's not leave out A Little Bird Told Me:

Go visit them here, because I have barely scratched the surface, my friends. There is so much loveliness that I cannot fit it all in here. I found these to invitation sets under the "Into the Woods" section.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Women and the Media

Jenna over at That Wife posted today about the perception of women in the media. She mentioned a great website, About Face, that tracks different examples of women in advertising. They have galleries of the worst offenders as well as good representations of women in the media.

This is obviously in the worst offender's gallery.

I hate that women are expected to live up to airbrushed images. Perfection is an invention, it isn't real, its unattainble. I have to keep reminding myself that when I feel down on myself.

How do you feel about the way that women are typically represented in the media?

Running2Win Log of the Day

I post my daily runs on a fabulous website. It's free, and it's a great way to track progress. It will even tell you when your shoes are worn out. Which mine are, by the way, I need to order a new pair.

You probably don't care about my daily runs, so once a week I'll post on here what I post in my running2win log. I am just staying in shape, I'm not training for anything in particular. I am on a 3-week rotation, so I have 2 normal weeks and then 1 easy week. I'm on my easy week this week. My wonderful fiance makes my schedule for me (I am so spoiled).

"Ran 2 miles with Allison (my sister and maid of honor) and Henry (my dog). It was about to storm so it was humid. We did the Capaha loop twice. My shins hurt, I have to get better about rolling them out. We did 9 minute miles. Henry was being a booger. 2 miles in 18 minutes."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Color My World

I made a collage on Polyvore to show you the color options Ryan and I have talked about.

Here's the aqua and grass green. I pretty much love it. I think it's not overdone, and I think it'd be easy to do. We could be flexible on the colors, and do shades of green and aqua. I think locking ourselves into 2 hyper-specific colors would be bad and really limit or choices, so whatever colors we end up with, I want them to be pretty flexible.

Ryan really likes grass green with a bright, rich pink-not hot pink. Kind of a raspberry pink. He likes both color schemes, but he likes the pink better than the aqua. Here's another Polyvore conglomeration to show you what I mean. I like the aqua better. We'll see what we end up with. I don't think we'll make any decisions until we decide on a venue. Ryan really likes the color of pink that's on the ribbon of the shoe with the green of the embroidered dress.

Which do you like better?

DIY Philosophy

My DIY philosophy is to do what I can myself (or with help) without stessing myself out. I am going to do my best to not make myself crazy, which is why the idea to bake a cake for every table to act both as the wedding cake and centerpiece quickly went out the window. Saving money is an obvious advantage to DIY'ing, but I also want the wedding to be very representative of Ryan and I, and not generic.

I hope to do the bouquets after the rehearsal dinner, with the help of my bridesmaids. The boutonnieres will probably not be floral, and thus made by me ahead of time. I'm thinking the centerpieces will not be floral, and will be made by me and my helpers (my maid of honor is crafty and good at it, and she has expressed interest in helping). The corsages for the moms and grandmas will probably be a fabric creation that I will make (more on these later). I hope to do the invitations myself, maybe with the help of the wonderful talent at Printable Press. My sister has a friend who is a wiz with Photoshop, and Ryan knows an amazing calligrapher, so we might go that route for the invites too.

Things that I will not be DIY'ing for sanity's sake include the food, the photography, the dress, favors (I don't think we'll have them), and anything that has to be done the day of the wedding.

I'm going to try to keep this simple, but still have some special details factored in there. What DIY projects are you planning for your wedding?

Supplementing "I Do"

I've talked before about how important the wedding ceremony is to me. I've picked up some readings along the way that I think would be great to have read during the ceremony.

I apologize for not having the sources for these!

Union by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks - all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “ You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.

Excerpt from Blessing for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman

May you always need one another - not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.

Ruth 1:16

Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you, For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord do with me and more if anything but death parts you from me.

Apache Wedding Prayer

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Having these would be a way to involve more people in the ceremony, too. I'm especially fond of the one from the book of Ruth, I've always liked that one. When I used to get bored in church I would read the book of Ruth, and it's always stuck with me.

Going the Distance

Running has played a huge part in Ryan and I's relationship. I met him at a cross country meet (he coached my youngest sister). When we first started dating, he whipped my butt into shape on runs with me. He helped me train for and ran a half marathon with me, and brought me in almost 7 minutes under my goal time. He paces me for 5ks. We cheer on my sister's high school cross country and track team together. I would bike with him on his long runs when he trained for Boston. He proposed at the start line of the Boston marathon. Running has been and will be a major part of Ryan and I's life together, especially since Ryan is pursuing work in the distance running coaching field.

I really want to incorporate running into our wedding somehow, but I don't want it to be cheesy. I was thinking about taking some of our engagement pictures (which Ryan cannot see the point of) with us on a run together, or...something? I have few ideas on this one. Maybe we could name the tables after famous marathons? Or put something in the vows about us "running the marathon/race of life together."

Some of Ryan's athletes will (hopefully, we haven't formally asked them yet since we haven't set a date) act as ushers, and if Ryan is coaching a team when we get married, all of his athletes will be invited. We've talked about inviting some of the runners and their parents from my little sister's cross country team, as they really watched our relationship develop and are all around great people. So there's some incorporation of running, but I don't think it's enough.

Any ideas?

One-Stop Shop

J Crew is the reason that I cannot have credit cards.

Most of their clothes, at full price, are too expensive for me to buy on a regular basis. I regularly surf their final sale, and ebay them quite a bit, but buying anything from them full price is highly unusual and a treat.

In terms of wedding dresses, though, the prices are reasonable and fit nicely within my budget for my wedding dress (which is $1,000 or under. I wish it was lower, but I don't think I will be able to find what I want if I don't spend about that much). Here's what I am thinking:


This is the Cotton Cady Erica gown and it is $850. I kind of love that it's cotton. Our wedding isn't going to be super formal, so I'm not worried about that. It has some really pretty detailing on the bust, too. It's just a bit on the plain side for me. I plan on wearing fabulous, colorful satin heels, so that would definitely add to it. I also wonder about adding a vintage rhinestone pin to the waist, or maybe some chiffon flowers in the same spot? I think it would be easy to add some trim to the bottom, maybe some pleating sticking out from underneath the dress. I would order a cute shrug from Etsy, too, because I'm always cold. No alterations would be needed, as I know what size I wear in J Crew and it comes in petites (yay!). But would this dress be a budget-buster by the time I added everything that I think it needs?

I'm also loving this:


This is the J Crew metallic rose Madison gown. I like the texture of the fabric, but something is funny about the neckline to me. I almost think it needs to be a deeper v, but that would be easy to fix. This one runs at $1,000, right on budget.

Criteria for my wedding dress:

-Tight on the butt (I have pretty much nothing up top, so I've got to emphasize what I do have)

-Not a lot of fabric on the botton (no mermaids or ball gowns, I'm looking for a sheath or a trumpet). I'm petite, I own it, and I want to wear the dress, not the other way around.

-Something that falls within the happy medium between crap-all-over-the-dress and plain-and-boring

-I like strapless (so does my fiance) and that way I can get a cute shrug off of Etsy! The strapless is negotiable.

On to my handsome groom.

{We are not renting tuxs (this totally freaked the people at David's Bridal out). We are going to buy Ryan a nice black/gray/charcoal suit and have the groomsmen wear their own black suits. We'll also have the groomsmen wear their own white shirts, and we'll probably gift them coordinating ties and socks.}

J Crew, once again, offered a very attractive little number:


It is so cute! Ryan would look fantastic in this, and that would give him a nice suit that would last a while. The jacket is $248, the pants are $118, and the vest is $98. Not too bad for an ensemble that Ryan would have for a long time. J Crew is such good quality, I think it's worth it. Ryan mentioned last night that his white shirts are on the raggedy side, and J Crew has a good selection under $70.

J Crew also offers some great bridesmaids options, as I'm sure you know. My sister, roommate, and maid-of-honor is hardcore J Crew. She wants a J Crew bridesmaid dress BAD. They just don't have a big color selection, and they are on the pricey side. I just can't ask the other bridesmaids to pay more than $100-$150 for a dress. I'm not dead set on the bridesmaids matching, so I might just give them some color guidelines and let them do what they'd like. That way, Allison can have her J Crew dress and I don't have any guilt over asking my lovely ladies to buy pricey dresses.


Does it look familiar? It's the bridesmaid's version of the first dress in this post! I'm nothing if not consistent, right? This dress is pricey-$225, so I wouldn't ask anyone to buy it unless it makes it's way over to final sale.


This one is pricey too, also at $225. I think the style would be flattering on lots of different shapes and sizes, though. This would also be contingent upon final sale status.

Can I add that J Crew's customer service is stellar? I e-mailed their wedding coordiator, Tanya Clement, who assured me that shipping is waived on exchanges. She also mentioned that you can try on some of their lovely wedding dresses at the following stores:

N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL (312.751.2739), Lenox Square, Atlanta, GA (404.237.2739), Rockefeller Center, New York, NY (212.765.4227), and The Grove, Los Angeles, CA (323.939.1070).

If you live near one of these stores, then I am jealous.

I think that J Crew might be my one-stop wedding shop.

Church or No?

My fiance and I are not involved with any church. I've tried out several churches in my hometown, and I've come to the conclusion that I am just too liberal for the conservative part of the country that I live in. A major pro with moving is for me to find a church that I can be involved in.

The church thing hasn't been an issue, until we got engaged. Now it is an issue, as I feel pretty strongly about getting married in a church. Maybe it's silly, but I wouldn't feel married if it wasn't in a church. I believe that there is a strong spiritual element to my relationship with my fiance, and I think that should be honored in our ceremony.

I am really into religious scholarship. Learning about other religions makes me so happy. Religion is such an integral part of people's lives, and I am fascinated by the way someone's religion impacts their life, and why they believe what they believe. So even though I'm not a regular church attender, religion is a big part of my life. I'd like to get my master's in Religious Studies at some point. My Christmas present from my fiance was 2 master's level courses on DVD on "The Historical Jesus" and "The Other Gospels" taught by one of my favorite religious scholars, Dr. Bart Ehrman. I'm not only a running nerd, but a huge nerd.

Needless to say, what church we're getting married in has huge significance to me. My wonderful fiance has turned over all decisions concerning the ceremony to me, because he knows how important it is to me.
But I'm stuck. Here are my criteria:

1. There can be no insistence that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. I think that there are plenty of different ways to reach the top of the mountain, and an infinite amount of ways to get to know God. I think that Jesus was an extraordinary man who showed us a whole new way to live. Unfortunately, this rules out pretty much every Christian church.
2. If the church isn't down with the gays, then I'm not down with the church. I (my fiance as well) feel strongly that God made gay people the way that they are, and we should treat them like human beings and not like second-class citizens. I don't want any gay people attending our wedding to feel out of place or like they don't belong there.

This basically leaves me with....the Unitarian Universalists. Here are their 7 principles:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

They are about as liberal as it gets, and are down with the gays. Unfortunately, there is not Unitarian congregation in my hometown. So I don't know what to do!

There is one other option, but I'm unsure. My pastor from high school is really great. He was the one who told me that I needed to re-evaluate my relationship with my fiance back when we were just friends. When I attended his church with my family, he was very supportive and helpful. He's more liberal than the Lutheran church that he is a pastor for, he just isn't public about how liberal he is. I'm thinking that if I sat down with him and gave him my criteria for a wedding ceremony, that he would be fine with it. There is also a really pretty, historic Lutheran church in my hometown that he could perform the ceremony at.

So I don't know. This is the most important part of the wedding to me, and I want really want to make the right decision. There is a small Unitarian fellowship in town (they meet Sunday nights at 7, and I work quite a few weekend evenings, so I never make it). I've been thinking about contacting them about having a minister come into town to do the ceremony, but then I wouldn't have a church to get married in.

Any suggestions?

Martha, Martha, Martha

I find it really odd that I have found the majority of my wedding reception centerpiece ideas from Martha Stewart. I guess I had the misconception that anything on her website would come with a hefty price tag. How wrong I was....

I love trees. I gravitate toward leaf and branch motifs in jewlery, and I love stark, black and white pictures of trees in the middle of fields. I think that exposed roots are gorgeous. Maybe that's why I like these centerpieces so much. How cheap would these be! The branches I could pick up in my yard or at my uncle's farm, and then spray paint them whatever color I want. There are directions on Martha's website for how to make the little flower blossoms on the branches, and they can be made of paper. The vases they are in wouldn't be bad either, as I am an avid thrift shopper and could easily pick up ceramic vases and then spray paint them to match. Plus, the different shapes of the vases would make it look more eclectic.

I haven't even priced floral centerpieces, because I am 99.9% positive that I will not be willing to pay the price for them. I am not opposed to making floral centerpieces myself, but fresh flowers are expensive, and I am not a fan of silk flowers. My only concerns with the branch centerpieces:

1. Will our guests be able to see each other through these? You couldn't really go much taller without sinking some serious money into vases, but you couldn't really go shorter either.

2. Will I be able to find enough vases that are sturdy enough to hold the branches up?

3. How do I go about transporting these?

I also looovveee these, but they are cost prohibitive. That's ok, I like the branch ones better.


I found the candle sticks on CB2's website. They are on sale, and cost between $3.95-$7.95, not including shipping. That just doesn't fit in my budget, when you think about how many you would need per table. Once again, I am just as happy with the branch centerpieces.

While these won't be the main centerpieces, I think they'll be good as decorative filler:


These would also be cheap. I'm sure I could find some small votive holders online or thrift store shop for them. I like an unmatched, eclectic look anyway, so if they aren't all exactly the same, no biggie. As long as I keep them all in clear glass, they will look cohesive.

I also am intrigued by these, maybe because I have a thing for useless kitchen items of days gone by. This has champagne flutes (pretty useless in my world, at least) and cake stands (not quite as useless to me, as I just used one for a cake for my mom for mother's day, but in the grand scheme of things, pretty useless). I adore cake stands. I think you could fill these with a variety of things, too. These would be easy to find in thrift stores. Have I mentioned how much I love vintage stuff? It makes me happy, and I would love to have it at my wedding.


Besides my love of vintage things, I love topiaries. I need to price these at a garden supply store. The buckets to put them in wouldn't be expensive, and you could spray paint them to match each other.


I got all of these centerpiece ideas from one Martha Stewart article. Seriously? One article. That just saved me a crazy amount of time, because I am simply going to stop looking now! I am super indecisive, and the more options there are, the more overwhelmed I get. So I am going to stop, and Ryan and I can choose from these options. I've already mentioned the branch idea to him, and he really liked it.

It's not necessarily a centerpiece idea, but I think it would be a pretty/cheap/easy thing to do on the tables at the reception. Martha strikes again!


What are you doing for your centerpieces?

The Proposal

I love the way that Ryan proposed! I couldn't have asked for anything better, it was perfect.

We went to Boston April 17th-April 21st. Ryan ran the marathon on Monday, April 20th. That's him the red shorts and black singlet, black arm warmers.

Shout out to the running nerds out there, here's the women's elite at mile 10 in Natick, MA. Kara Goucher is in the middle in the front row of runners.

Here's the men's elite:

Ryan Hall is in the middle of the pack.

My Ryan ran an absolutely amazing race. He placed 158 overall, out of about 25,000 runners. He PR'd at 2:38:46, about 6 minute miles. He is really hard on himself, and even he was thrilled with his time. Everyone was ecstatic about his race (everyone being me, his parents, his best friend, and his best friends wife).

After the race, we went to the Sam Adam's brewery. It's actually their research and development facility, where they test all of their new beers.

After the brewery tour and tasting (yay!), we headed to Hopkinton, MA, where the start line to the marathon is. Ryan wanted to get some pictures here, and I wanted to see it anyway, being a running nerd myself. Someday, if I get good enough, I will be crossing this myself. I would love to run Boston.

We took lots of pictures, and Ryan said that he wanted a picture of a certain street sign. I thought it was kind of odd--it was a pretty non-descript street sign. So across the street we went to take the picture. I took it, and Ryan started hugging me and saying these really nice, sweet, things. It didn't strike me as odd until he kept saying these wonderful things, and before I knew it, he was down on one knee! How he got down on one knee after racing 26.2 miles, I don't know, but he did it. He did say it hurt, though! Of course I said yes, and his parents, best friend, and best friend's wife (who were all across the street documenting this for us) starting cheering. I was teary, and Ryan started hugging me again--I was very close to falling over, so this was a good thing. We hugged for a long time. Then Ryan holds the ring up and says "Would you like to put this on now?" It was everything I wanted the proposal to be, times 1000.

That's us right after he asked me, when we had both calmed down enough to pose for a picture. I love the grin on his face.

Not even 24 hours later, people were already asking us when we were getting married. What is that? I think that has been the biggest surprise in terms of being engaged--people expect big plans to made, fast.

The ring! He did so good.

I used the tutorial on Weddingbee to take the ring pictures, and if I can do, then anyone can--trust me.

How were you proposed to, or what is your dream proposal?