Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hair, beautiful hair

I don't consider myself to be much of a hair person. I have some. That's pretty much the extent of my overall excitement regarding hair. I'm not the kind of person who has a standing appointment at her local salon. I don't color my hair. I certainly don't blow dry or flat iron it unless it's a special occasion. I'm generally very low maintenance and that's fine by me because I'm not the kind of person who wakes up an hour early just to pretty up for work.

Now, this lack of hair related appreciation is coming back to get me because I do not have a regular stylist to take me in and coddle my needs on my wedding day. I'm getting married on what is typically considered a salon worker's day of rest and I've been having some issues finding a place that's open. I'm not asking for really meticulously molded, curled, braided hair; it's not my style to be that overly made up anyhow. That's not the kind of tone I want to set for my life let alone my wedding day.

Tracy works at a salon in Windsor called Hairdresser on Fire so she asked if they'd open on a Sunday and the owner said they would do it but they were asking for $100 a head. Which I understand from a financial perspective because why would you give up a perfectly good holiday weekend's Sunday without a few Mr. Jacksons finding their way into your pocket? I certainly wouldn't. You couldn't drag me out to work on a holiday weekend without a lot of kicking and screaming. But to ask each of my girls to pony up that much money (plus tip) is pretty ridiculous. Like, I know it's for a special occasion but if I were a bridesmaid I'd look at the bride like she was crazy if she expected me to pay that much for a slicked back bun. I don't mind spending that for my wedding day but the fact they didn't even consider giving a price break for bridesmaids is weird. And the fact I know the typical price of an updo any other day is $65 makes me feel a bit taken advantage of just because it's for a wedding.

So I set up a trial appointment but decided there had to be another option. I drove over to the local mall and set up an appointment with one of the salons in there since they're open all weekend long. And after chatting up a really nice receptionist at Trade Secret and getting a much (much!) less ridiculous price I decided that if I liked the trial that we could set up the "for real" appointment for my wedding and then cancel the other thing. I do admit to having a bit of a bias against chain hair salons but the fact is that if they hire a good stylist it doesn't matter what name is splashed across the doors. And a trial hair do is very low risk because they're just styling your hair; they aren't coloring, cutting or otherwise manipulating your hair in a permanent way.

So turns out that I loved the stylist just as much as I enjoyed the receptionist. They were so warm and kind; something that I just didn't get from the owner of the other salon who seemed very rigid and almost annoyed at me for asking about pricing when she obviously was doing me a favor by just opening the shop. So I'll do them all a favor and let them sleep in that Sunday. I almost felt like throwing in the towel and doing my own hair after talking to the owner who I didn't think was very kind. If you're a business owner and you're trying to sell a product you'd think that you'd at least try kind of hard to at least feign some kindness. Kaitlyn the stylist seemed nice but the owner was...I don't even know what her deal was.

I think it all worked out well though. It's hard to really explain but once you meet people you like you feel so much better about letting them be a part of your big day. It spreads a much more positive energy across the event.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In the words of Weird Al, "Just Eat It"

I feel better now that some time has passed. I have an unusually low tolerance for picky eating. I'm not irrational; I know people simply don't like certain foods and that's their preference but I think it's rude to question someone's choices when you know they must have thought long (almost a year) and hard over which entrees to select. I wouldn't ever come to your house after you invited me to dinner only to whine and moan how I don't eat goat. (Though I totally would; how exciting would that be to try?!)

The fact is that Trevor and I knew that there would be some backlash but hoped that people would have some tact and keep it to themselves instead of acting like bratty children. I think it's different if you actually tried it first and then formed an opinion about it but it's prejudiced to just preemptively complain about something just because you think it's weird. Usually I'm very sensitive to people's likes and dislikes but when you're catering to a crowd of 100+ you can't cater to the lowest common denominator because you'll end up eating boiled chicken and pasta with butter. So I can't care about how you think eating lamb is yicky. You can drive over to McDonald's after the reception if you want; I certainly won't stop you.

We've gotten more wedding things done. I've completed some gift assembly. Trevor and I have reserved a block of hotels for out of towners looking for a place to lay their weary heads. (Trevor will load the info to our wedding site once we get our reservation code.) We booked our honeymoon. I've purchased and received a few more wedding related...pieces and I'm really happy and excited about them. I also went for my 2nd dress fitting and it's looking more and more like a wedding gown and less like an oversized sack. lol I have a 3rd fitting in about 2 weeks and my cousin also had a fitting because her dress was too roomy.

And most importantly we have started the process of buying our first home.

So if my anxiety level seems particularly high, my moodiness seems a bit unwarranted and that I'm significantly more sensitive than ever before you will understand that I'm being hit on all sides mentally, emotionally, financially, physically....I'm just beat down and I just can't wait for everything to be done, formalized and just get to enjoy it.

To say that right now is a stressful, bad-dream-causing, restless-thought-making time in my life would be a really gigantic understatement. It's not terribly pleasant. I'm elated to be married and I'm really excited about eventually not living in an apartment but the path to get there is not fun. I don't really care to romanticize the situation because it very unromantic. I expect to be slightly on edge and very sensitive and very uncompromising for the next month. Now I know where all those bridezillas on tv were coming from.

If you can buy a home before you get married I would totally suggest doing so. It's a huge financial endeavor but if you can afford it it's well worth pacing yourself.

In other wedding related news I got some preemptive wedding checks that I am super excited about and really boosted up my bad mood and grumpy disposition. I know money doesn't bring happiness but it certainly does help. And it couldn't come at a better time because doing all this is quickly draining all of our assets. Buying a home includes a ton of other costs like home inspections and closing costs and attorney fees. Be prepared with some serious dough. I have no idea how people manage to ever buy things with 0% down; I can only imagine how much that screws with their bottom line. Plus I have to pay for a wedding. And once we move in, obviously we'll want to fix the place up and we'll probably want furniture, appliances and drapes.

I haven't felt this financially drained since I was 17. So you'll have to excuse the fact I don't care if you don't like eating lamb. In the grand scheme of all the stress I've got that's the least of my problems and I couldn't change the menu now anyway. All the invitations are out and all but 12 replies are back. There's no looking back now.

I have completed a lot but I'm still lacking a few gifts, I don't have a hairdresser (Tracy offered hers but Kim is hesitant about spending money and I think that I'll just bite the bullet because it's simply too close to worry about a few bucks and the maids who don't want their hair can do it themselves), none of the boys have suits yet, my shower is in two weeks and my wedding in slightly more than a month. I have a meeting with our wedding coordinator Monday so I think that'll make me feel tons better. I have a few questions still and I think she'll really calm the anxiety I'm holding onto. I really like them; I feel like they're really professional and they know what they're doing. To a nervous Nelly like myself it really makes a huge difference to know that I'm in good hands.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

Even though I've already addressed it earlier I have no patience whatsoever for anyone who wants to be negative about the entree selection.

And yes apparently people want to make me feel bad and make my stress level that much worse because they're not empathetic in the slightest bit to the fact that it's hard to pull this kind of event together.

If you're not going to be constructive I don't really want to hear about why you don't like the things I've worked so hard on for the better part of a year. Do you want me to berate the things that matter to you too?

In any case, I took the day off from work today. And tomorrow. I needed a break because I felt my head was going to explode. Apparently I had at least a little foresight to give myself a break because I've been emotionally, physically and financially stretched thin. As a result I'm overly sensitive.

I'm so not in the mood to talk about anything because I'm too miffed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wedding and Registration, ma'am

Jenny's wedding was today. I bought her present Thursday so you can imagine how "out of the blue" it felt to me even though I knew it was coming.

I must be acting like a chicken with her head cut off or something.

I wanted to get 'em something "good" but even after weeks and weeks and weeks of thinking about it I still ran into a brick wall so I settled for simply buying off registry. After all, that's the reason why it's there; to make people's lives easier when you just don't know what they'd like. If they shot their registry gun at it one can only hope they'd like it.

Waking up early was the worst part of it. Not that we got stuck in traffic. Not even that it was all that bad outside...just that it was way too early for any of our liking. We had to be down in the 203 in time to pick up Emily and still get to the 10am wedding at a church I've never been to and when you're used to waking up at around 10am on a normal Saturday waking up at 7am is quite horrible. I intend to sleep to my little heart's content this evening that's for sure.

In any case the wedding itself was a beautiful church ceremony. Long and Catholic and really long and really Catholic but beautiful. Not terribly romantic after being preached at for like an hour about...a checkbook of some kind, but aesthetically very lovely. The church was huge. Gigantic organ in the back jutting out of the wall. Jenny looked so beautiful...and I know people say that about all brides but really she did a particularly fantastic job picking a flattering dress for her coloring, height, weight and body shape. I can't imagine it's easy to find a suitable dress when you're hardly 5" tall and everything you try on doesn't fit right away.

The ceremony, apart from being a slightly confusing drive away from the church was pretty nice too. They had it at The Waterview which Trevor lovingly referred to as a Wedding Factory. It was very nice; right on the water (a lake to be exact) with beautiful marble floors, crystal chandeliers...very swanky. It was very, very nice and I can totally see why it's such a popular wedding spot but personally it felt a bit sterile and impersonal like a really really big hotel lobby.

The music was far too loud; I couldn't talk to Emily very easily. Emily also being very soft spoken didn't come in handy. The DJ was entirely unclear as a result of old and semi-cruddy speakers. I entirely missed the cake cutting because I never heard him announce it and I was outside on the balcony. lol Trevor was particularly upset that he kept throwing a mic (turned on) casually in the air to see it flip and catching it so it made a mild thud each toss.

I suppose if you see one set of people cut a cake you've seen every couple cut a cake. I'll have different feelings about this when it's my own wedding but pretty much every cake cutting is similar in that there is a whole cake and then a piece is taken out of it with some kind of cutting apparatus and the couple playfully feed one another a bite. Everyone gets a chuckle and then they wheel the cake away to be sliced up. Other than that it was fantastic to see Emily because I love her. We hardly got 8 minutes with Jenny before she got pushed in another direction since it was quite a packed reception but perhaps after her honeymoon is done we'll get the opportunity to catch up for real. I'm sure there's been tons going on with her that I haven't heard a peep about.

She did mention she'd go to the shower and she'd carpool with Emily since she is a car-less individual but one that still wants to attend. Since I only invited like 4 friends to the shower I'm happy that all of them are going to be attending. I guess for what I lack in quantities of friends I at least make up in having kind hearted friends who want to come and spend a little time driving really out of their way to give me a present.

Speaking of presents, Kim has been delegated to arrange Cathy's bridal shower. I'm happy it's a bridal shower in lieu of a Jack & Jill. J&Js always reek of desperation to shake money out of your friends. At least a bridal shower is considered a tasteful event. However considering that Cathy lives in MT and she'd have to ship any and all gifts she received back to her home I can see where a J&J might be more reasonable since money is ever so easier to transport than blenders and dishes. I can see both sides of the coin but it seems the final decision was to shower. It might be helpful if Cathy registered somewhere first though.

In my adventures registering I can tell you that all registries are not created equal. Of course all your major stores have registries. (Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany's, Macys, JCPenney, Sears, Kohls, Sharper Image, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Sur la Table, Target, Walmart...etc.) So it's good to start with a major retailer because then a larger number of your guests will have access to them.

For more modern couples the online registry is a new option. Of course all major department stores also have shopping online and online registries but you can go 100% e-registry and do one at Amazon.com, Cooks.com...etc.

Here are some of the ones I am familiar with:
-Sears. I guess you can actually register for big stuff here like refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, grills...unlike most other registries that do not include big ticket items.

-Macy's. They have a reward system where if you have a credit card with them they'll give you 5% reward as a giftcard after the wedding is complete. There is a long laundry list of other details but the gist is that you get not only a beautiful registry present but also a giftcard to spend on other things. Cons: you can't register for non-home goods. So no Chanel purse, no Escada perfume, no leather sectional :( but since it's Macy's your chance of running into a one day sale are pretty high. It seems every other weekend they're having one. Oh, and you get a little tote bag as a gift for registering.

-LNT. I love them but ever since they registered for bankruptcy decided to delete my registry with them just to be on the safe side. They do however let you have a 20% registry completion discount. So for anything you didn't get gifted you can buy it...20% off regardless of the fancy brand name (which usually isn't applicable for coupons).

-Bed Bath & Beyond. Much like LNT but has yet to file for bankruptcy. They accept competitor coupons and have a very flexible no questions asked return system. They rarely have sales, but are known for being very coupon generous. I get mailings from them all the time with $5 off coupons. You can shoot your gun at everything and anything in the store; no limitations.

-Lowes & Home Depot. Weird, huh? I just thought that was cool. Particularly for those folks who already have a home together and don't really need plates and cups but do want a nicer kitchen to put the ones they have in to.

-JCPenney. I didn't go there but I guess they have a partnership with David's Bridal and those leeches send me emails constantly. They give you a bridal planner when you register and I think a 8x10 engagement portrait. I think that's very nice though if you're the kind of people who enjoy that. We didn't bother with engagement portraits since we don't care to spend the money on it. I figure there'll be 100's of pictures at the wedding to remind of how we looked anyhow.

-REI. For the outdoor enthusiast.

-Traveler's Joy. For the vacation enthusiast. Be aware they do tack on a "processing fee" so you don't get 100% of the value that someone sends to you.

-And finally Myregistry.com for the couple who can't focus on one registry and instead want everything from everywhere.

Those are my two cents on the most interesting registries. I know there are more exotic ones but I think these cover the main bases people want to be covered. The major things you should ask are A.) Are there limitations on what I can register for or is the whole store up for grabs? B.) What is the return policy on gifts you changed your mind on or inexplicably got duplicates of? C.) Are there any rewards or incentives to registering with that store?

I've heard people have issues with Target registries because they limit how much you can return in a particular period of time and their registry is slow in updating itself to show purchased items so duplicate purchases happen more than they should.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Jury is out

So Jury duty was a very long day. They didn't pick me so luckily I had some time on my hands to get some random grocery shopping done. The major Asian grocery store I'm familiar with is unfortunately a bit of a hike from my home so I rarely go but since I was already in Hartford it was very close. Where else can you get a gallon sized jug of my favorite Chinese Soy Sauce and and aisles of difficult to read food labels?

In any case we looked at 3 houses this week. The ones in Manchester were...ugh...dumps. The Windsor house though was lovely...and of course the most expensive. But on the bright side it's in a very cute area and while there's not a lot of land the house is very large and seemingly well kept up. We've seen a lot of really disgusting houses. I can't begin to express how unkempt people allow their houses to become.

So if all goes according to plan we'll have a house by the time the wedding rolls around.

And yes I am aware that sounds like utter lunacy. Buying a home and paying for a wedding doesn't come cheap but it's a buyer's market if you happen to run into the right home and a motivated buyer. Add in the fact that we don't have anything to sell right now and we're in a good position to find something at a decent price that we could slip in to right away.

Trevor will go into great length about real estate if you want to hear. I've heard his plan at least 3 dozen times now so I hope no one minds if I pass on this one, I'm not much of a technical mind anyhow. I'm not an emotionally driven buyer either...I'm really more of a "this is our first house, it's not going to be perfect, it'll never be exactly what we picture for ourselves but we have the rest of our lives to find that" person.

Not to beat a dead horse but the rise in energy prices isn't exactly in anyone's favor either. It costs a lot to heat a home during the winter and at this rate it will cost twice as much as it did last year to heat a home. Not to be all doom and gloom, but it's the truth and it does ultimately affect what we can forecast toward spending. I'm sure homeowners are pained at knowing what's in store for them. Having never actually paid for my own heat (our apartment includes it in the rent) I don't particularly look forward to it.

In any case, life is rolling along. There's not a lot that's wildly exciting. I do need to buy more things for the wedding but I'd like to know how many guests I have first so I don't overbuy. Generally speaking buying a little too much doesn't hurt you; in fact you get a great bulk discount but in terms of wedding planning what the heck does anyone do with +5lbs of Jordan almonds? So I've tried not to fall into the trap of buying things I don't actually like just because they're cheap and plentiful because I'll regret it. That or I'll end up trying to pawn off my wedding stuff on upcoming brides who are getting married after me.

Dad bought his suit. Trevor still has to get hopping on that for himself and his groomsmen. I would be more nervous but I trust that he'll get it done. He might not do it the same way I would but he'll always get what he's supposed to do done.

I have a gameplan for favors. I had a prior plan that involved ordering something online but decided that I was okay with another do-it-yourself project if it meant spending less and having more creative control. Anticipate nothing grand nor amazing as a result. lol But I'm very proud of the things I've crafted with my little industrious hands.

Those invitations didn't stamp and wax seal themselves after all.

I wish I had a picture of them all lined up because I was so happy after I finally got the hang of it. The calligraphy even came out pretty well. Not perfect mind you, but anything personally done will have a few blips along the way. I've got a good number of replies now but I'm sorry to say that I'm missing like half of the RSVPs for my own family even though those were the first ones out. It just figures; we're a perpetually late people. But I'm glad I went through it because they were beautiful and just the way I wanted them. I'm not so positive that if I purchased pre-fabs and sealed with (much easier and readily obtainable) stickers that I would have been as happy with the result. I'm sure I would have been generally more happy just because I'd have had experienced a good deal less misery but the end product makes you forget about the path it took to get you there.

I don't sugar coat things if I honestly dislike them and I really hated doing invitations toward the end. Not so much the act of doing them but the fact that I never had all the addresses I needed so I had to start and stop and once I stopped I lost my mojo. I'm sorry to those of you with the last wave of invitations because I lost my mind and I think I may have forgotten some stamps on the reply cards. On the bright side I'm now out of invitation land and I (most likely) will not bite your head off.

I cannot make promises though...particularly if you're one of my late RSVPers. (Shakes fist!)

We buy the components of our centerpieces and the reception workers put 'em together and on the tables. I have to assemble the favors. I have already assembled the invitations. And I intend to assemble the bouquets because flowers are not something I place a great deal of importance on. I don't care enough about them to drop $2,000 on them but I do care enough that they be live flowers because I think silk ones tend to look fake unless you really go all out and get really nice ones. But if you're going all out on silk flowers you might as well just buy real flowers and do it right.

Jenny's getting married the 19th! I don't look forward to maneuvering my way through the 203 but I think it'll be a nice day and I get to see her and Emily. I love spending time with them even though I'm guilty of not doing it much more than twice a year. (I'm such a bad friend.) But I look forward to seeing to fruition the various months of Jenny's and her mom's planning. I am pretty sure there'll be a mass since it's a church wedding. I haven't been to many a church wedding so I never really know what to expect other than overall awkwardness about feeling like a sinner in the house of God. Like at any second I'll be smited or at least given the stink eye by a member of the clergy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sea Cucumber, anyone?

I'm pretty done trying to register. The more I look for stuff the less I want any of it. It's fun at first but it's like eating a whole pie. The first piece is great but regardless of how much you like pie you're pretty burned out by the last bite.

Because I have a tendency to rub people the wrong way I'll preface this entire entry by saying I register because I know it makes the lives of my guests that much easier and it allows me the luxury of having a (small) say in what gifts people choose to get me.

Having said that, I'd prefer wedding gifts that both Trevor & I can enjoy equally. After all, we're both getting married...not just me. I am however quite excited about shower gifts that I can be happy utilizing ;)

Of course I like all the things I registered for and hope that I get at least one of the pretty things I aimed my little registry gun at, but the equitable part of me knows that Trevor doesn't give half a hoot about fancy cast iron pots or food processors. I'm sure he likes the end product of the foods that get produced but he gets fed just fine now with my inexpensive pots and pans.

I have my dress fitting around the 24th of this month. I also have Jenny's wedding on the 19th so a good number of things will be keeping me busy in the upcoming weeks. Did I also mention I received a summons for jury duty? No fun at all but I figure I should just bite the bullet and do it. I don't think there's any point to deferring it because I'll come up with a laundry list of excuses why I can't do it 10 months from now.

Tons of more reply cards came in. Not all of them yet; even my parents haven't sent theirs in yet and I would hope that they know they're expected to come. I think they're trying to figure out which entrees they want. I didn't intend to pick entrees that confused people but I hope that people ultimately understand that even if you don't like a single option that you'd manage to try and open up your mind to a new experience. You can have a cheeseburger on your own time, on my time you should take a bite of something fun.

It could be worse...trust me. I wasn't particularly a fan of the sea cucumber at past weddings I've been to. And in spite of it's name is not a vegetable; it is in fact a large slug-like bottom-feeder that lives in the sea. I don't even remember it tasting bitter, sour or generally bad; it's just a very odd looking dish with a very slippery slidey texture. You never know, perhaps if I had it now I'd love it. It definitely takes a couple of attempts before I know if I truly do not like a food item or if I was just turned off by how it looked/smelled. Or perhaps it was knowing that sea cucumbers breathe through their rear ends that made them seem like a generally unusual creature.