Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Invitations… Just Call Me Martha!

After lack of sleep, a week-long headache, and a destroyed living room floor (yes, again), the invitations have been sent out! All those terrible comments you see above… I have to say, I think it was worth it once I had the finished product, but it didn’t seem that way when I first started them!
You may remember hearing me say I was doing pocketfold invites. I felt it necessary for my invitations to be “different” (in case you haven’t noticed… this is a common theme in my wedding). Since I have never received or known anyone to receive pocketfold invites, I thought this would be my one-of-a-kind strategy. Well, in almost a year, I think pocketfolds have taken over the world. While I have still not received one, I have many friends who have, and I am officially seeing them all over magazines, in books, and of course on the www!

To make a long story short, I put my foot down on the pocketfolds and started searching for something more unique. I knew it may entail a little “arts and crafts,” but you can ask my fiancé any ole day, and he will tell you I think I am the arts and crafts queen! You will never see this lady get her hands dirty for anything UNLESS it includes cardstock, glue, tape, glitter, confetti, paint… you name it, and I will attempt to craft it. And believe me, my hands aren’t the only thing getting dirty; the floor and whatever garment of clothing I have on usually jump in the mix as well. Glue covered hands, paint on my pants, and glitter stuck in every crevice on the hard wood floors… nothing stops me from crafting! I have crafted for just about everything including parties, showers, birthday gifts, and most recently, my wedding. If I see something that I want, I am convinced I can make it better than what’s available for purchase, and believe me, I always try!
Do I always succeed? Well, that is questionable. I succeed in staying up late, getting frustrated, huffing, puffing, pouting, and sometimes even throwing the current craft across the room. Not to mention the looks I get from my fiancé and the same comments I hear over and over: “I told you to just buy it….” “No the tissue paper is not too crinkled.” "Yes, it's centered." “Please stop freaking out… everything looks fine!” “Don’t get mad at me because they didn’t turn out the way you hoped…” “Why do your torture yourself like this… please GO BUY IT!”
So WHY do I do it? WHY do I torture myself and my fiancé? WHY do I not just buy it? Why in Heaven’s name do I think I’m Martha Stewart? Because once the letters are centered, the cuts are straight down the middle, the glue is dry, and everything is picture-perfect, I get so very proud of myself. No, I don’t think I am blessed with artsy ability (I actually don’t think I’m very good at all), but I do think I subconsciously have a passion for arts and crafts, and by goodness I try REALLY HARD! What takes me weeks could probably take an art or graphics expert one night, but I hang in there so I can smile at how pretty I made something look when it’s all over!
Here I have posted my recent “work of art” so I can smile now at the beauties and in later years look back remembering how hard I worked on them and how flawlessly they capture the theme of our wedding ! Here’s a breakdown of how they were made:

- My friend, old co-worker, and very talented graphic designer (who, by the way, just got her dream job designing wedding invitations at a well known stationary place in Memphis) should be credited with the look of these invites – she designed them perfectly to match the Southern-Vintage theme! I honestly don’t think anyone could have come up with anything better!

- Yes, I made the lace envelopes. And YES, I am beyond proud of how beautiful they turned out. After I found the idea on the Martha Stewart Weddings website, the pocketfold idea flew out the window, hit the road, and turned into roadkill – I was so over it! I bought ivory doilies online (it took some serious searching for the perfect size and color), bought several packs of glue sticks, and got to work! I folded my little hiney off for weeks!

- I bought the gold “matting” at I glued them to each invitation just to give it a little something extra. Plus, the wedding colors are pink, gold, and champagne, and gold was missing, so I had to spark it up a bit!

- I also bought the pink envelopes from Tres gets ALL the credit for printing the envelopes. He created a spreadsheet that made the printing process quick and easy. Not to mention, he figured out how to print the return address on the back.
***I have to mention this… maybe I waited until the last minute to do these invites, but I had every intention of doing the calligraphy myself for the envelopes. I had figured out a way to address every single one of these out by hand and still make it look like professional calligraphy, but after folding nearly 200 doilies and gluing nearly 200 gold mats to invites, I let that idea join the pocketfold one as roadkill. I wasn’t even going to ATTEMPT to do it. And if you think printing addresses opposed to writing them on wedding invites is tacky, too bad. I’m living in 2010, and Ben Franklin will not be receiving one of my wedding invites any time soon! Same goes for the "RSVP to email" and "Adults Reception Only" printed on the RSVP card. A) I prefer email and would rather use modern technology to keep up with names opposed to trying to keep up with 200 RSVP cards and B) I don't agree with children being at weddings. Period. So, for these little tweeks, please don't call us tacky... call us modern!

- Finally, we did the ever-famous “stuffing” of the envelopes, which by the way, turned into a disaster and resulted into my head spinning around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist because I had folded the doilies too tight, so none of the invites fit into them!!!! I think Tres thought he was going to have to call a priest for an exorcism because I really almost lost it. I was so tired, it was so late, and the stinkin’ envelopes were too small! Luckily, I own a paper cutter, so instead of letting the demon in me come out, I turned into an angel and got to cutting. One more step I had to throw in there, but whatever!

I have to throw in this post what a big help Tres was during this project! He never helps me with my crafts, but he got down on his hands and knees and got crafty with me this time… all in the name of our wedding! Thank you, wonderful fiancé… I love you so much!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Invitations… I Hate You

That’s all…

More on this next week after they have been sent out, and I am bald in several places from pulling my hair out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

For the Love of our Engagement Pictures!

As you are all VERY aware, I am border-line obsessed with our photographers! After I sought them out and saw their work, I didn’t care where they were from… I had to have them for our wedding! We are lucky enough to have found some of the best photographers in the southern region of the country – and quite possibly the U.S., as they travel nationally and internationally to shoot weddings!

You may have saw the blog I posted months ago of the pictures our photogs posted on their blog:

These were their favorites and many on that list were some of our favorites, but we finally got ALL of them back! Here are our favorites not included on my last blog post. Forgive me… there are a lot! Thanks again, Armosa Studios! We can’t wait for the wedding!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Laughing over Spilled Salt… because it’s my BACHELORETTE PARTY!

I have to say… bad luck was the theme of my bachelorette party. I am telling you , a black cat must have crossed the road without us seeing or one of the girls must have knocked over the biggest salt shaker obtainable before we left because we have stories that you would not even believe me if I told you. I thought for a minute someone was playing a sick joke on us and at any point was going to whip out a Candid Camera and start laughing, but not even the worst of luck could ruin a girl’s trip to Chicago!

I know, I totally started this post off on the negative side, but to redeem myself I refuse to speak of any of the negatives. It indeed all happened, but since more good happened than bad, I am only going to speak of the good. I plan to leave everything horrible out (although most of you would get good laughs over it all). I will ONLY speak of the positive from this trip. Those bad things… I will leave as memories between me and my girls – no need to spread negativity around. Haha!

So, here it all is… The GOOD, the MAGNIFICENT, and the FABULOUS of Andrea’s 2010 Bachelorette Trip: Chicago, IL!

Day #1
Since I am leaving the negative out, I will avoid the traffic topic and start with walking into our AMAZING suite. Ok, words (only pictures) cannot describe this place. We stayed at the Marriott Magnificent Mile, and I have to say, as an avid Marriott visitor, they really outdid themselves on this one. The theme of the hotel is very retro, chic, and fun – perfect for a bachelorette party. Our suite was the Governor’s Suite on the 46th floor. Stepping inside it was like stepping into the modern-day 70’s. It can be best compared to gangster Ace and crazy Ginger’s house from the movie Casino – a mobster could have walked in at any minute and I would have felt it appropriate! What set it apart though was the view – we could see half of Chicago AND Lake Michigan… amazing!

Living Room Area
Our View!!!! No Joke!

King Room - My room!
So after we got settled in, we headed to lunch at 4:00. Yes, 4:00 lunch… I don’t want to talk about it. At this point, all a girl could ever want was a big ole drink. I chose champagne and the festivities began! Our lunch ended up being perfectly yummy, and it gave a few of the girls who didn’t know each other yet a chance to get to know each other.

Let me talk for a minute about the ladies that were there…
I will start with my college friends who you will most often hear me refer to as “the girls” – Ginger, Sara, Tracy, and Amy Claire. We all went to college together, all were Phi Mus together, and although we don’t live in the same cities, we have a tight, inseparable bond that brings us back together on at least one girl’s trip a year. We really make it a big point to all get together as much as possible each year – I really consider these girls my best friends, the ones that I will still be going on girls trips with when I’m 80.
Then you have my most recent best friend who I like to call my “later in life friend,” Lori. Tres brought me to Lori, and I tell her all the time she is just one of the many blessings Tres brought to me. See, Tres and Trevor are best friends, and Lori is Trevor’s wife. They have become the couple we love to hang out with, love to travel with, and just love to be with any chance we get! And did I mention Tres and I are Godparents… to their little one Saxon Rex (I will have to do a whole separate post on him one day… his 1st birthday is coming up, so that may be the perfect time to post about him).
And finally, there is Cristen, who I call my “work BFF.” I remember leaving college and telling my mom, “I will never, ever have friends as great as the ones from college.” She said, “Yes you will. You will make them at work.” I didn’t believe her, but then I met Cristen – she is the best friend at work for me, and we have loads of fun together! By the end of the trip, you could not have been able to tell who had been friends longer. A lot of times, bachelorette parties can be awkward because girls don’t always mesh well together, but in this case, Cristen and Lori were asking when our next “girls’ trip” was so they could join us!

The bonding all started after lunch when we got back to the suite to find a special note, chocolate covered strawberries, and three bottles of champagne delivered from Tres and Trevor. We also got a call to the suite, telling us that we were only supposed to have one of the connecting extra bedrooms to the suite, as we only paid for one (the concierge had let us in both rooms). With some convincing from Lori and her Marriott perks, they agreed to let us have BOTH rooms – this meant we each had our own bed! Ok, so maybe there WAS some good luck on the trip!
Thanks Tres and Trevor - We have such thoughtful men :)
After our treat from Tres and Trevor and being granted a THIRD room to the suite, we were all screaming in delight, and with that, the first cork got popped and the party got started! While drinking the delicious champagne, we cranked up the Madonna music and got ready for our themed “Madonna Night.” We were Madonna’s Hit List on this night. We had Lori as “Borderline” Madonna, Cristen as “Material Girl” Madonna, Amy Claire as “Into the Groove” Madonna, Sara as “Papa Don’t Preach” Madonna, Ginger as “Lucky Star” Madonna, Tracy as “Open Your Heart to Me” Madonna, and me as the infamous “Vogue” Madonna! See if you can tell who is who in the pictures… most of us looked IDENTICAL to the music video or concert!
Cristen (Material Girl) and Lori (Borderline)
Amy Claire (Into the Groove) and Sara (Papa Don't Preach)
Tracy (Open Your Heart to Me) and Me (Vogue)
Cristen, Me, and Ginger (Lucky Star)
After the sunset, we headed to Navy Pier to see the 80’s band, Sixteen Candles. As soon as we stepped foot out of our cab, what was as close to the paparazzi that any of us will ever get to began. I have never seen anything like it… seven simple gals dressed as Madonnas, and 80’s freaks were coming out of the woodworks! As if we weren’t late enough to the concert, it took nearly 30 minutes to walk 10 feet because someone wanted to take our picture or get a picture with us – I was ready for someone to ask me to sign something. Ginger had some guy hiding behind the bushes taking pictures of her as she went into the bathroom - it was crazy! The concert was a blast! We got at the very front of the stage, and the band and hosts recognized us as the “group of Madonnas.” That lead to more people recognizing us, hence more picture snapping. Once our heads had grown as big as the pier, we finally had to get out of there and go eat! The late-night pizza spot we chose, Lou Malnati’s, stayed open for us even though they were closing when we rolled up… I’m convinced it was our Southern accents that kept the doors open. Whatever it was, we got to experience the one of a kind Chicago Pizza, and it was magnifico!

At the 80's Concert after being mobbed by fans... haha!
Pouty-butt... the end of the night put me in a pouty, pouty mood!
They were having a great time though :)
Day #2
We managed to roll out of bed just in time for our 11:00 brunch reservations at Bin 36. Ginger discovered this place from a friend she has from Chicago, and after the experience, I was so grateful for the suggestion! This may have been my favorite part of the trip. First, because anyone who knows me knows I am a wine-tasting fanatic, and this place is centered around their wine, champagne, and mimosa flights. Second, the décor of this place was so beautiful and winery-like. I felt like I was back at one of my favorite Napa wineries. And third, this was a point in the trip when I felt like all seven of us had been friends for a lifetime. We had great conversation, and it was just one of those fun girl-times that you have with a group of women who are all busy with marriage, kids, and jobs, but deep down, you know they all stopped their busy lives for just a minute to get together with girlfriends. That’s what true friendship is all about, and here at Bin 36, I was grateful!

Us and all our "flights" at Bin 36
One mimosa/champagne flight in, and we were all border-line intoxicated again, so we headed to Starbucks after our amazing brunch. We were complete Chicago tourists the rest of the day stopping at Millennium Park, “the bean,” the magnificent malls and stores on the Magnificent Mile, and even the movie set of Transformers 3! Believe me, I am no Transformers fan (could have totally done without seeing the first one), but I have never, not even in LA or NYC, seen the set of an actual movie set up right in the middle of a street! It was seriously one of the coolest things we saw all weekend, and we didn’t even expect to see it! We were just walking along, until some guy started yelling at people to “clear the way,” “stop taking pictures,” “move along…,” until we realized we were right in front of the movie set. There were turned over cars, wrecked taxis, burned up buses, and even a huge piece of brick that had supposedly fallen from the top of one of the buildings. It was quite a sight!

Set of Transformers 3... awesome!
Back at the hotel, we lounged on our fabulous furniture and chit-chatted for awhile. Leave it up to me and Lori, and soon another bottle of bubbly was cracked open, and then we were on our way to getting ready for another fun night! The girls threw me a lingerie shower in the suite that was of course lots of fun! More champagne down, and we started our night out on the town. We started the night on the rooftop of Zed 451 where we had drinks and appetizers. We ended up with our own private section indoors, so this was another fun girl-time bonding experience. After Zed, some of the girls had to run back to the hotel, so I insisted on ordering the famous “honey beer” in the Marriott lobby. Apparently, they brew their own beer, so I had to have a taste.

Across the street, we walked to where our dinner reservations were at Joes Stonecrab. We were so excited about this place, as it’s supposed to be one of the best fine dining experiences in the country. Hummm… since I am leaving negativity out of this post, I will just say this… thank God all wine is good because that was the only good thing that touched my lips at Joe’s. Sorry, but I have been to countless better restaurants than that. On a good note, me and the girls had a blast while we were there, bad food and all.
Our next and supposed last stop was the upscale, lavish hotspot, Enclave. We knew nothing about this bar aside from being out-of-towners reading reviews, but it turned into the highlight of the night. Let me explain… first of all, Sara found out her good friend’s roommate worked at this place, so she made a phone call before we went. Next thing we knew, the doorman was lifting up closed off ropes and leading us through the back door of this place. There was a line out front wrapped around this place with people dying to get in, and we were getting snuck through the back door (like I said… there WAS some good luck on this trip). Secondly, the doorman says to us, “I have you guys seated to the richest guys in the bar… they plan to take care of your drinks all night.” WHAT?!?! I mean, we had reserved a table for ourselves… we had planned to get bottle service all along, but now all of a sudden, we were getting bottle after bottle of $500 Grey Goose. Like I told the girls… I’m not gonna talk to these guys or have anything to do with them, but if they want to show us special treatment, I am A-Ok with that (Plus, I told Tres all about it anyway... I don't think he minded that we didn't have to pay for anything!) This is where the single gal of the group came in… thank you Amy Claire for entertaining these people enough that we didn’t spend a dime all night. That’s what single friends are for, right?! To still get the married gals hooked up with free drinks… haha! We still have no idea why this bar gave us such special treatment, but we think Sara's friend had something to do with it, so thank you to Sara too! The party went from Enclave, to a limo, to a random, creepy bar that we got the heck out of, to us being home and laughing our butts off at how our “crappy, bad luck” turned into jewels in the end! It was quite the wrap-up to a heck of a bachelorette party!
At our table!
The spread!
Day #3 consisted of packing up, leaving our incredible suite, eating lunch at Cosi, and everyone going their separate ways. When all was said and done, we learned that spilled salt, broken mirrors, and black cats don’t always mean bad luck – heck, I don’t recall any of us running into those superstitions … we just ran into a few problems. At the beginning of the trip, the troubles seemed never-ending, but in the end, our luck went from a High Card to a Straight Flush, resulting in one of the best trips ever! Thank you so much to my best girls – the ones who came to Chicago with me and celebrated the very best time of my life, me becoming a wife! Even through the Bridezilla moments I had on the trip (and the ones they had back to me… Tracy at Lou Malnati’s. Haha. Oh so typical.), they smiled, stuck through, and had a great time! I am so grateful for each of you and look forward to you standing beside me on the big day! I love you all very much!