Sunday, December 27, 2009

Save The Date

Save the Dates will be going out in the next week or two...here is a sneak peak at ONE element...
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So Many Decisions!

So, it has been about a month since my last post, and I literally haven't had time to raise my head up from work for long enough to think about wedding details - nothing beyond the fact that I am still excited to marry Mike in just over 7 months!

So, now that I have a (well deserved, and long awaited) break from school, I have had time to rally Mike and I to think about some of the "smaller" details. There is irony in the word "small." I mean, sure, we will have places for people to sit, things for people to eat, and someone to marry us on 7.17.10. But the "small" tasks take the most thought and planning.

First of all, we are quickly hearing and realizing that many people are planners, and have already made plans well into the summer - and, people are also having weddings that same weekend! Geez! So, we have realized the necessity of getting our Save the Dates out there, and our invites ordered. So, I went on there today to start the ordering process after having received our desired samples. And what do I see? Oh, nothing but about 25 brand new designs all categorized, "Summer". !!! And of course, I love love love some of them. So, we are back to square one with the invites, but will surely rest on a decision soon. But, how could you pass up beautiful new designs like -

Or -

Or -



Clearly, tough decisions lie ahead.

We are currently designing some Save the Dates - with some help from our most amazing friend Jen. We are trying to make use of the wonderful engagement shots that we got as well - so much to think about! Keep your eyes peeled for those in the next few weeks.

We are also thinking about where we want people to stay the weekend of the wedding, and where we will spend the night after the wedding. We have already booked a block of rooms in downtown San Jose - right next to a great park, two museums, and tons of great eating venues. We have a call into another venue as well, and are hoping to hear back from them soon so that people can start making reservations. There are so many summer events in San Jose - we don't want anybody to be out of luck! We are really hoping that it works out for the bridal party to get ready and for Mike and I to stay at the Hotel Valencia in Santana Row, which was actually one of the places we were thinking of having the wedding itself. It is very modern, and fun, and there is so much to do and enjoy in that area.

We are combing through the guest list again and again to make adjustments - making sure that we have only the people that really are a part of our lives in a meaningful way. It is really difficult to assess something like that. We aren't from the camp of inviting people we haven't seen in years just because. We don't want to be reconnecting with people or introducing them to our (will be) husband or wife while we are trying to enjoy our celebration. This, I think, will prove to be the most difficult part!

All the while, we are trying to enjoy every minute, and the fun of creating a day of celebration for the two of us. It is has been such smooth sailing so far, knock on wood, and we are really lucky that our family is really supportive, and doesn't really have many demands of what the day "should" be like, and who should be there. Hopefully there will be some more definitive decisions soon!!
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Friday, December 25, 2009

So Many Decisions!

So, it has been about a month since my last post, and I literally haven't had time to raise my head up from work for long enough to think about wedding details - nothing beyond the fact that I am still excited to marry Mike in just over 7 months!

So, now that I have a (well deserved, and long awaited) break from school, I have had time to rally Mike and I to think about some of the "smaller" details. There is irony in the word "small." I mean, sure, we will have places for people to sit, things for people to eat, and someone to marry us on 7.17.10. But the "small" tasks take the most thought and planning.

First of all, we are quickly hearing and realizing that many people are planners, and have already made plans well into the summer - and, people are also having weddings that same weekend! Geez! So, we have realized the necessity of getting our Save the Dates out there, and get our invites ordered. So, I went on there today to start the ordering process after having received our desired samples. And what do I see? Oh, nothing but about 25 brand new designs all categorized, "Summer". !!! And of course, I love love love some of them. So, we are back to square one with the invites. But will surely rest on a decision soon. But, how could you pass up beautiful new designs like -


Or -

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So Many Decisions!!

Yikes - It's been a full month since I've had a moment to really come up for air and think about the wedding. I was buried (still am) in work and final papers and trying to make it through the end of the semester. But, as soon as Christmas vacation hit, I was back on the wedding trail!

The first thing I needed to catch up on was the invitations. It seems like there are quite a few people who are busy or have made other plans for our wedding weekend already, so we are feeling the need to get on our Save the Dates and order our invitations! We were all set to order from the narrowed down choices we made a few months ago, and then I go on the invitation site to start ordering, and what has happened? Oh nothing but about 25 new designs all especially for summer weddings, that's all. GEEEZ! So, now we have about 3 new options that we are considering and it's back to square one! I really didn't think I cared all that much about the invites, but when all these new designs came out, I couldn't possibly stay with what we had chosen!

The next thing I wanted to tackle was the hotels and where people would be staying. Though this seems like a small feat on the surface, it is really kind of complicated because you have to think about where you will be getting ready, sleeping, where the stylist will meet with you, where you will take your pre-wedding shots, etc. That's a lot to think about! We booked a few guest blocks at some hotels downtown and decided on one for the bridal party as well - it is actually one of the venues that we were considering for the wedding itself, and I am so stoked to be staying there. It is a very cool, posh area, and has a bar that is open into the night so that if we are up to it, we can continue the festivities after the wedding!!

We also started looking into a guitarist to play for the processional and recessional. This was also a bit difficult because many artists only play classical music, and that really isn't the vibe of the day, so we wanted something a bit more casual and fun. Our wedding coordinator made a few recommendations, but one guy was already booked, one guy sounded too religious for us, and the third guy had a pretty bland proposal of what he would play for the day. No thanks. I'm not bland. So I ended up doing a Google search on "Guitarist, San Jose" and found this amazing guy who I am currently emailing with. Listen to his samples under "Pop" and you will understand my being drawn to him.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And that makes 15!

That's right folks. There are going to be 15 people standing up with us during our celebration next year. Mike and I are blessed with amazing friends, from all different parts of our lives, so we couldn't narrow it down. 1 of Mike's friends is also going to marry us, but we consider him to be part of the "party" for all intents and purposes. Mike was taking his sweet time to ask his groomsmen, and after (some) nagging, he asked them all last week. A few of them were surprised at his formality of even asking at all! I guess things run differently in the world of men...
Wedding page is now updated with some fun and hilarious photos of those in the wedding party.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Engagement Photos

They are finally here! I have been compulsively checking my email ALL DAY LONG! And they have finally arrived. Please see the link below and enjoy! We love them all (well, okay. MOST of them...)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Santa Barbara Dreamin'

Going into all of these festivities, having a wonderful photographer to document the fun along the way was basically #1 on my list. This is a once in a lifetime event, and Mike and I both wanted once in a lifetime photos. We also wanted them to be a certain style - something modern. Not like the photos where in every single one, everyone is posed and smiling awkwardly. No thanks!

Emily gave me a website that listed all of the noteworthy photojournalistic photographers in the area, and I was able to narrow it down to a few choices. We scheduled appointments with four of them in September. The first person we met with was named Frederick. He had a cute little studio in downtown Los Gatos. He works with his wife, and they were both very friendly. They walked us through some of their shots and packages, and it all looked pretty good. I have a hard time evaluating pictures when they are of random people. When my friends are in them, all of the sudden they become much better.

The package that we were most interested in getting included an engagement session as well. We definitely wanted that because, when do you ever have a good excuse to get beautiful photos taken of yourself? You might as well live it up!

As we were talking about the engagement photos, Frederick mentioned that we should take them in a place that was really meaningful to us, like a restaurant or place we met. Mike jokingly replied, "Do you travel to Santa Barbara? That is a place with the most meaning for us." He pointed us to his travel rate, and then said, "I love Santa Barbara - I graduated from college there." Of course, we instantly connected over Gaucho memories and talked about campus and the town a bit. He said that he would love to have an excuse to get back down to SB. And also said, "But you know, I have so many friends in Santa Barbara still that I would love to go and see. If that is where you wanted to go and you go with us, I won't charge you the travel fee. It will be like a mini vacation for me." SCORE!

We left feeling really good about our meeting, and about Frederick, but we wanted to meet a few other photographers as well.

Our second meeting was with another husband and wife team - a recommendation I had gotten from a colleague at work. They showed us scores and scores of albums of their beautiful photos, and asked us a lot of questions about how our day was going to run. I really appreciated their attention to detail, and it was clear that they go into their events with a plan of attack, so to speak. He also gave us a lot of ideas on what to ask other photographers, about lighting, inclusions, etc.

Leaving the meeting, Mike said to me, "That guy talks too much." So, he was off the list.

I emailed back and forth with the two others, but we couldn't really nail down a date that would work for both of us, and one of the photographers wouldn't leave the city for a meeting, so we would have to go to her, which was just going to be too demanding given our busy schedules during that time of year.

We talked and thought back to Frederick. We were both so instantly at ease with him, and felt that he was a very genuine guy who put a lot of detail and thought into what he does. We emailed him a score of questions that we had learned to ask from our other meeting (14 questions, to be exact). He responded within a day to each and every one of them. When we looked at the contract and had questions/revisions, again, got back to us in a day. Mike and I both appreciate efficiency and responsiveness, so we were further impressed and convinced that Frederick was our photographer. We asked him to be there with us on our wedding day.

The next big step was scheduling our photo session in Santa Barbara - which for Mike and I was a dream. We ultimately would have wanted to get married in SB which was the place of so many of our memories. But the travel time was going to prove to be too cumbersome. But, as you will see, Santa Barbara and our time there will be a big part of our wedding - starting with these awesome photos!

We scheduled a date for November, and hoped and hoped and hoped that the weather wouldn't give us too much trouble. Sometimes it is gorgeous in November, and sometimes it is foggy and awful. We were, obviously, hoping for the former.

We decided to ask our good friends Emily and Nick to go with us, because we always have a grand old time with them, and thought it would be super fun for the puppies. They took us up on the offer and we were all set to get to SB on November 13. We decided to extend our trip a bit and leave on Thursday evening and stay with Nick's sister in Templeton. We have been looking forward to this trip for like 2 months!!!

We left last Thursday night around 7:00. We brought SO. MUCH. STUFF. Both Mike and I are super planners, and want to make sure that we don't leave behind anything that we might need. Especially considering that we were having important photos taken away from home - we definitely wanted to have some wardrobe choices, and other fallback options. Plus, we also had to bring Taiko's stuff. I can't imagine how much stuff a baby requires, because Taiko's belongings blow my mind! (Water, toys, food, bags for poop scooping, leashes, towels, etc.) Our middle seat was literally filled to the top of the seat line! (Taiko later discovered that he was able to prop himself up on our stuff and ride with his back legs in the trunk of our Jeep and his front legs on our stuff! See the picture below...

On our first day in SB, we stopped by UCSB to visit a former student who is in his first year. It was great (and a bit surreal) to see the campus, as always. They are constantly building new structures and changing everything. Gosh, I wish things would just stay the same sometimes!

As with many of our favorite destinations, we love to make sure to get a taste of the local cuisine. Mike and I have so many favorite eateries in SB, that when we go back, we plan our trip around meals! Our first night, we ate at a place called Holdren's, which I used to love, love, love! They have this great dessert (which we didn't get to try because we were so full!) of s'mores where you get a bunch of s'more materials (grahm crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows) and you get a small can of sterno lit for you, where you toast your marshmallows. So fun! So, we headed there for dinner, but not before we had cocktails and appetizers at another famous eatery, The Palace. The Palace is a cajun restaurant and so the gentlemen enjoyed a Cajun martini and we had some crawfish and delicious muffins! We took it easy that night and played our new game "Pictionary Man." It was actually pretty hard - the categories and things to draw were a bit out there, but we still had fun.

Saturday we took the dogs to the Mission and to the Douglas Family preserve which is right along the coast. The dogs got to meet a few new friends and run around off leash a bit, which they enjoyed. We then grabbed delicious sammies for lunch, and headed back to the hotel to get ready for our photos.

We wanted to make sure to capture some meaningful places and the essence of SB in our photographs. And, while there are so many beautiful places to choose from, we wanted to make sure that we spent the majority of our tim at the harbor and on the beach, which is where we met and where Mike proposed.

We started our photographs at Paseo Nuevo, on these beautiful Spanish steps. We walked around the area a bit, and captured a few of the signature Spanish style facades, and then moved on toward the harbor. There we took photos in the place where Mike proposed, and in front of the museum, as well as on the breakwater with all of the masts in the back. Our last session was on the beach, where we got some amazing sunset pictures - see the sunset I captured below...

We then went out for another (amazing) dinner - pumpkin gnocchi anyone? So yummy. The next day we all felt like our trip was cut short, and were ready to stay a few more days :( We went out for a delicious brunch, complete with mimosas and bloody mary's (see picture of the monster bloody mary's below!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Santa Barbara Dreamin'

Going into all of these festivities, having a wonderful photographer to document the fun along the way was basically #1 on my list. This is a once in a lifetime event, and Mike and I both wanted once in a lifetime photos. We also wanted them to be a certain style - something modern. Not like the photos where in every single one, everyone is posed and smiling awkwardly. No thanks!

Emily gave me a website that listed all of the noteworthy photojournalistic photographers in the area, and I was able to narrow it down to a few choices. We scheduled appointments with four of them in September. The first person we met with was named Frederick. He had a cute little studio in downtown Los Gatos. He works with his wife, and they were both very friendly. They walked us through some of their shots and packages, and it all looked pretty good. I have a hard time evaluating pictures when they are of random people. When my friends are in them, all of the sudden they become much better.

The package that we were most interested in getting included an engagement session as well. We definitely wanted that because, when do you ever have a good excuse to get beautiful photos taken of yourself? You might as well live it up!

As we were talking about the engagement photos, Frederick mentioned that we should take them in a place that was really meaningful to us, like a restaurant or place we met. Mike jokingly replied, "Do you travel to Santa Barbara? That is a place with the most meaning for us." He pointed us to his travel rate, and then said, "I love Santa Barbara - I graduated from college there." Of course, we instantly connected over Gaucho memories and talked about campus and the town a bit. He said that he would love to have an excuse to get back down to SB. And also said, "But you know, I have so many friends in Santa Barbara still that I would love to go and see. If that is where you wanted to go and you go with us, I won't charge you the travel fee. It will be like a mini vacation for me." SCORE!

We left feeling really good about our meeting, and about Frederick, but we wanted to meet a few other photographers as well.

Our second meeting was with another husband and wife team - a recommendation I had gotten from a colleague at work. They showed us scores and scores of albums of their beautiful photos, and asked us a lot of questions about how our day was going to run. I really appreciated their attention to detail, and it was clear that they go into their events with a plan of attack, so to speak. He also gave us a lot of ideas on what to ask other photographers, about lighting, inclusions, etc.

Leaving the meeting, Mike said to me, "That guy talks too much." So, he was off the list.

I emailed back and forth with the two others, but we couldn't really nail down a date that would work for both of us, and one of the photographers wouldn't leave the city for a meeting, so we would have to go to her, which was just going to be too demanding given our busy schedules during that time of year.

We talked and thought back to Frederick. We were both so instantly at ease with him, and felt that he was a very genuine guy who put a lot of detail and thought into what he does. We emailed him a score of questions that we had learned to ask from our other meeting (14 questions, to be exact). He responded within a day to each and every one of them. When we looked at the contract and had questions/revisions, again, got back to us in a day. Mike and I both appreciate efficiency and responsiveness, so we were further impressed and convinced that Frederick was our photographer. We asked him to be there with us on our wedding day.

The next big step was scheduling our photo session in Santa Barbara - which for Mike and I was a dream. We ultimately would have wanted to get married in SB which was the place of so many of our memories. But the travel time was going to prove to be too cumbersome. But, as you will see, Santa Barbara and our time there will be a big part of our wedding - starting with these awesome photos!

We scheduled a date for November, and hoped and hoped and hoped that the weather wouldn't give us too much trouble. Sometimes it is gorgeous in November, and sometimes it is foggy and aweful.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Rock Paper Scissors

Mike and I are all about making decisions early on in the process, so that we can spend most of the latter half of our engagement sitting back and enjoying the process of doing things, making things, addressing things, folding things, etc. I am sure that this may be somewhat unrealistic, as the stress doesn't really hit you until later, but that is our goal for now. So, in that spirit, and though we don't have to send them out for quite a while, we started looking at invitations.

The first one I saw was in Martha Stewart Wedding (my favorite wedding magazine.) It was a super cute circus style print with perforated reply cards. I really liked the idea. I emailed them for a quote quickly after I saw it. Almost as quickly, my dream was deflated. The invites I was drooling over were about 300% over our budget. Uh, no thanks. Damn I hate having expensive taste.

We looked around at about a dozen other companies, and couldn't really find anything that struck us. Then I remembered that Em had given me the name of the company she used, and we hadn't yet checked that one out. Lucky for us, Em and Nick have already been through this process, and loved their invitations and this company.

We have narrowed it down (ordered samples) of the following...see if you can anticipate which one will arrive in your mailboxes in a few months...


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Friday, October 23, 2009

Wedding Website Up and Running

So Mike and I have been working on putting together our wedding website. It is far from complete (as Mike still has to ask a few of his groomsmen to be in the wedding), but it is a start. We have some pictures up, our story, and some other information. Check it out if you have a chance!!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Taking on the Stairs - Like a Champ

It took a while, but Taiko can now "handle" walking both up AND down the stairs. Thank God. He weighs 25 lbs. Carrying him was getting old real quick.





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Mimosas and Scanners

Mike and I had a super fun morning this morning at Crate and Barrel. My friend Brittney (Bird) had sent me an email about a registry event they were having, and it sounded fun. So, even though it is probably FAR too early to start a registry (because of merchandise changeover), we did it anyway!

We arrived at C&B at 9:00, before the store opened (making it even more fun!). We walked over to the counter, where they signed us out a scanner and pointed us over to an "orientation." They quickly showed us how to use the scanner, after which Mike said, "I'll be in charge of that..." and the we were off to the races!

We are planning on registering for a super amazing honeymoon, and so won't have that much on our traditional registry. I mean, we have lived together for about 4 1/2 years, so we don't need a lot. Because of this, I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy the experience of registering. I didn't want to sign up for a bunch of stuff that we didn't need. But contrary to my expectations, I REALLY enjoyed it. We had a blast.

We started off with the most important things: sampling their coffee from their C&B carafe. It was really cute (black with silver), and the coffee inside was yum - o! Then we worked our way over to glassware. This is something that we both agreed that we wanted, as we have an odd ball collection of free beer glasses from Rock Bottom and BJs. I think that we are ready to move into more adult glassware. We both zeroed in on the same glasses and Mike scanned 'em on in! We also chose some champagne flutes and martini glasses. Fun fun fun!

Thankfully, Mike and I have really similar tastes. The only struggle we have had in our 5 years together, is picking out a comforter for our bed. It took us (literally) 2 years to find one that we both liked.

We then worked our way to the back of the store where they have bedding and random stuff like rugs, etc. And wouldn't you know, they had a beautiful comforter there that we both loved. It was very simple, and had leaves in shades of green. We definitely scanned that in, knowing what a difficult time we had finding one that we liked before! Always good to have a backup.

Then, we stopped for some snacks that they were making, in order to demonstrate some of their featured items. Stop 1: belgian waffles with strawberry jam and whipping cream made on their "state of the art waffle maker." Already have one of those, but definitely didn't want to pass up the warm gooey waffles! Yummmm!!!!

Stop 2: Tomato, basil and cheese paninis made on their awesome panini press. Soooo amazing. They were warm and crusty, and we had more than our fair share. We just wanted to make sure that each new batch was as good as the last ;) We did register for that!

Stop 3: Strawberry Banana smoothie from their blender - already have one of those too, but lovin' the smoothie!

We went upstairs where they have a bunch of furniture, because they told us that whatever people didn't get for us, we would be getting a coupon in the mail after our wedding. Upstairs they served us each a mimosa and a plate of fruit. Amazing. I could do this every Sunday. We saw some great stuff upstairs as well, and actually ended up registering for more big items than we did small! So, if you see a leather chair, bed frame and dresser on there, don't be alarmed, we just wanted to get a discount later on!

Anyway, it was really fun, and got us in the wedding mood even more. We are counting the days until our trip to Santa Barbara, and are already brainstorming places to eat, visit and bring the dogs. It is such a great town, and we are thrilled that we are able to incorporate it into our wedding.

I am currently working on our wedding website, so check back soon!
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Said Yes to the Dress!!


Warning: Long Post Ahead.

I have been obsessed with the show, "Say Yes to the Dress" since it appeared a few years ago on TLC. I loved watching these women go with their family and friends to pick out the most important outfit of their lives thus far!

But because of this show, I was also a bit apprehensive about this big trip. I was worried about how I would react - would I be a cryer? Would I not find anything? How would I know if it was "the one"? What if I brought people who were too opinionated and couldn't help but share their unsolicited opinions before I had a chance to make mine?

I had been "researching" gowns since my head maid dropped off 4 bags of bridal magazines the day we got engaged. Almost every dress I pulled from the magazines had one of two things: lace on the bodice, or straps.

I really love the idea of lace in strategic places; on the back, the bodice, a bit on the bottom, etc. A full lace gown would be a bit too traditional for me. But I like classic looks, and lace is definitely classic. Mike HATES lace. Virtually every picture I showed him that had lace, he made "the face" - communicating that he clearly did not love that dress. But, I knew, that when I found the dress, he would love it. Lace or not.

Also, as a relatively busty gal, I definitely wanted straps. I wanted to be able to party and dance and not have to worry about pulling up my dress all night. I pulled plenty of options from magazines with straps, so I knew they were out there. But hearing information from my friends who were recently brides, I understood that they were relatively difficult to find.

Surprisingly, the dress wasn't really on the forefront of my mind. I wanted to make sure that all of the big things (food, venue, music, photography) established a vibe that Mike and I wanted. We worked a lot on putting together a feeling that would be mellow, relatively casual, and fun so that people will want to party and dance all night long.

I started researching bridal salons about a month ago. I had heard of a salon called "Trudy's" here in San Jose from a lot of colleagues at school. They said it was a good place to start, so I looked into that first. I looked on yelp.com to look at reviews of Trudy's to see how their customers did. Not good. Not good at ALL! Most of their reviews on Yelp were negative and talked about the sub par customer service, and how there were too many people in the store and they felt rushed and pressured. This was definitely not the shopping experience I was looking for.

I knew that I wanted the dress to be as easy as everything else for the wedding has been so far. When it's right, you just know. And you have to do some research to set yourself up for success. I don't want to "tread water" and just go to a place just to go and start shopping. I wanted it to be a good use of my time, and I wanted there to be like a 90% possibility that I would find THE dress there.

Unfortunately, many of the bridal salons in this area got the same type of reviews as Trudy's. No bueno. I talked to my mom about it, and she said that we could go somewhere else that was not in the Bay Area, like San Diego or LA. I definitely had that in the back of my mind, as that would be a really fun trip to take. But also, considering that I would have to go back a few times for fittings, etc., I kind of preferred the place to be close by so that I could check in and go easily to my fittings and alterations. I knew of one salon that used to be in Los Gatos that I remember driving by all of the time, but when we went there, it had closed up. So I decided to wait it out. I would figure it out. Or, it would figure itself out.

It surely did.

My dear friend Kelly sent me an email one day saying that she had been walking in downtown Campbell (where she lives) and that she had walked by this place called Gabrielle's Bridal Atelier. She said that it looked super cute and that I might want to check it out. So, I started my research. I went online to see their reviews, and they had gotten an average of 4.5 stars for all of the brides who shopped there. Pretty good. I checked out their website to see the kinds of styles and designers they carried, though I really didn't have specifics in either of those areas. But still, I looked so that I would have a better idea of the store's "vibe." I liked what I saw, so I went ahead and booked an appointment. They were having a trunk show of a specific designer for the day that I booked, so if I ended up liking something from that line, I would get 10% off. Good deal all around!

The next step was to figure out who I wanted to have come with me. Again, thinking back to "Say Yes to the Dress," some of those brides bring like 10 people, who all have their own opinions, and strong ones at that! I wanted to think really carefully about who I wanted to have come with me on that first shopping expedition. Since I didn't know how I was going to react to the whole thing, I didn't want a bunch of people there to cloud my judgement. If I liked something, I didn't want to look at the faces of my friends and have them clearly NOT like it! I also figured that I would go to a couple of places, and once I kind of got the hang of this, I could invite maybe 1-2 more people. So, I decided that for the first shopping trip, I would stick to the basics: Mom, sister and head maid. We scheduled the appointment for 2:00 and decided to go out to lunch beforehand.

The day arrived, and I was super apprehensive. I worked that morning, but had taken the afternoon off (no freshman? Twist my arm!) I left after my honors class on a high note. I went to the house and met Em and Zoe (who was going to hang out with Taiko for the day!) and then my mom and Emily came a few minutes later. We headed out to lunch, and then to cupcakes (I know...not wise on the day of the big shopping trip, but whatever. That's me!)

We started to head over to the salon, and after about 10 minutes of driving on Campbell avenue, I quickly realized that I was going the wrong way. We had about 3 minutes to spare, so we called and let them know that we were running late. Oops! I guess I was more nervous than I thought! But, my stomach was feeling fine, which (for those of you who know me well, know that) is a really a good sign. We pulled in across the street, and headed out!

It was super super cute, as you can see. Very quaint, and inviting. We walked in and nobody was there. All of a sudden, this lady pops out from behind a wall somewhere, and introduces herself as Laura - she was going to be our consultant for the day. She had me fill out a survey that asked questions about the wedding, the budget and me. I brought my bridal binder with me, filled with magazine articles and clippings of dresses that I liked. So when she asked me if I had any ideas of what I thought I wanted, I had plenty to share!

She started pulling dresses, and I felt comfortable with her - enough so to say "No way" or "Hell yes!" She then encouraged all of us to pick out some things and to touch and feel, etc. I was kind of surprised that she was letting us do that, because how would we know what was in our budget? But we were enjoying the experience. We all picked out at least one, even Emily! She picked out one that was the very first dress on the rack when we walked in. It was a little crazy looking, and reminded me of Patty Simcox. But I thought I would try it on anyways. Just for fun!

When we had about 8 dresses, Laura recommended that we get started, and assured me that we could always come back out to pull more dresses if I wasn't feeling any of them. So in we went! My accomplices sat down in their super cute waiting area, right outside of our room. This really captures the quaintness and cute factor of this place.



I will say that the situation of being in your chonies with a complete stranger is just straight up awkward. There is no two ways about it. But I sucked it up! We put on the first dress, and I didn't even want to go out. All I saw was cleavage. No way. Not what I want my guests to see or focus on when I walk down that isle!! I didn't go out. Nobody got to see that one!

Next one - a bit much, but I still came out. I felt like I was being swallowed by the dress - again, not really the effect I was going for. As I was starting to go back into the dressing room, Laura asked us (almost incredulous) if we wanted to take any pictures! Uh, YES! Nobody had even thought to ask because at the place that Emily bought her wedding dress, you were not allowed to take pictures until you had actually purchased the gown; so I just figured that it was a standing rule or something. So, this is where the pictures begin!



The third one I tried on was just nice. I mean, it was pretty, but still didn't have that vava voom factor. I also felt like the dresses were all too structured for a garden wedding. I didn't want to feel all formal and constricted. I wanted to feel like me - chill and ready to party - but in white! Now, where was THAT dress?

I also found a few strapless options (as you can see) that had a slight sweetheart neckline, and I actually liked it. It was more concealing than a straight cut would have been, and it started to look like I actually had small bubbies! Score!

I then decided to try on the random dress that my sister picked out. It was cute, and I just needed something to lift my spirits. Boy did it. I put it on, and lit up from the inside out. It was nothing that I expected I would want, but when she zipped it up, I was glowing. I walked out and stood on the pedestal and loved it from every angle. Loved the detail, love the color, love the pattern, love the silhouette, LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! There was a definite consensus about this dress. Mom loved it. Sister - patting herself on the back for the selection. Head maid - love. This was a score. I was really encouraged, and was starting to be able to envision myself walking down the isle. I really didn't want to take it off, but I had about 4 more dresses to try on. So, I reluctantly went back inside.

The next dress was actually by the same designer, and I really liked it as well. It was strapless and had flowers coming out of the fabric - hard to describe, so see the picture below. But I definitely felt like it was too structured - too heavy duty. Again, looking for fun!!!

And another by that designed (Melissa Sweet) - cute, but too much beading! No thanks!

I had one dress that I had pulled out of the magazine that was my absolute favorite. It had a lace bodice, deep v in the front and back, and then had a full bottom. When I showed Laura that picture, she said that she had a gown with that exact top and she pulled it for me. That one was next on the list. When I put it on, I really liked that idea of it. But I also felt like I was 60 years old. It made me feel really conservative (which I'm not) and I definitely didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

I tried on a final one, but for each new one I tried on, everyone said the same thing: You don't have that smile like you did with the last one. And I certainly didn't feel that same glow. I asked if I could put the dress on again, and again - that feeling came over me. Before we walked out again, Laura asked me: Is this the dress that you are getting married in? YES!!! I walked back out, and my family and friends confirmed it. This was it. I stood on the pedestal again, and she put a veil in my hair, and that was really it. I felt amazing.

Emily was also quite pleased with herself for finding the dress....see photo below (that's my arm, but I'm in the dress, so I cute myself out!)

Then, she told me that this dress had actually been featured on Say Yes to the Dress! She thought it had just been the previous week. I had remembered seeing the same silhouette on an intro to the show, and I loveloveLOVED it, and when she said that, it came back to me. I knew even before I knew, even before I was engaged!

We signed the paperwork, and sealed the deal!! Obviously I am not going to describe the dress for you, or show you pictures of that one....but this is how the dress makes me feel!!


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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finally!

After scaffolding the experience of walking DOWN the stairs - making him go down 2 by himself, then 3, then 5, then from the landing.....

Taiko is finally making his way down to the grass by himself!!!

The only thing is, he leaps from the last 2-3 stairs - watch the hilarious video below ;)
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Sweet Surrender

Over the last couple of days, we have sampled one of the more important vendors. That's right people: cupcakes.

We originally looked at both Kara's and Sprinkles. Kara's is a bakery that is both in SJ and the city. We love their stuff, especially their S'mores cupcakes (grahm cracker bottom, chocolate cupcake, marshmallow frosting.) We like them, but sometimes the frosting dominates the cupcakes. There needs to be a delicate balance between cupcake and frosting. You definitely don't want more frosting than cupcake - that's something I know for sure. Sprinkles is good, but the cupcakes are enormous, and perhaps a bit too shee-shee for what we had in mind. So, Mike had a great idea to look into an old colleague from PP&Co who left the accounting world to start her own bakery. She has won a few pretty prestigious awards here in the bay, so we thought we would investigate...

He got back in touch with her and she sent us a list of all of her (mouth watering) flavors. We definitely wanted to sample each of them. We needed to do the field research before settling down and committing to a few flavors. We decided that we also wanted our friends to sample the cupcakes - after all, they are going to be enjoying them too! We ordered about 2 dozen cupcakes for my birthday, of all the different flavors. What follows below is a food diary, walking you through the tasting of said (delicious) cupcakes.

#1: Red Velvet Cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, topped with a red M&M

Soooo good. Nuff said. Really moist and flavorful, and the frosting was amazing. Really creamy, and that perfect balance between frosting and cake. It tasted like a (really well made) homemade cupcakes. So good. These will definitely be making an appearance at the wedding.
#2: Carrot Cupcake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I definitely wanted to have this type of cake because Mike and I both love it, and it is also the favorite of my favorite Dad! He almost always gets carrot cake if it is an option, and enjoyed it at a few of his major celebrations, such as his 50th birthday not too long ago ;)
I had this for lunch today, and it was chalk full of scrumptious goodness. It had shreds of coconut, pieces of apple and big pieces of carrot as well. So they are healthy. Get your fruits AND veggies here, folks. The cinnamon on the frosting was just enough to give it that extra something, but not so much that it overpowered the other (more important flavors)

#3: Chocolate Cupcake with Peppermint Frosting

How refreshing does this sound! Mmm Mmm MMMMMM! The peppermint frosting was really light and airy - it also had crystalized sprinkles on there for a bit of extra pizazz. When I ask Mike to describe it he said, "It was good." Nuff said.

#4: Lemon Cupcake with Cream Cheese frosting topped with lemon zest

This one will be perfect for a hot San Jose day. It is light and refreshing, and everything you want a summertime cupcake to be. It is perfect for sitting on the porch at dusk, or partying till dawn at the Grujii wedding.

#5: Chocolate Cupcake with German Chocolate Frosting

By the time I got to this one, it was a bit dry, but the frosting was DERICIOUS!! It had glazed over a bit, and looked kind of like a glazed donut. It has chunks of walnuts, huge pieces of coconut, and was topped with a milk chocolate disk of yumminess. It was sweet, and rich, and was a little slice of Heaven!

Tasting the food is most definitely one of the favorite parts of wedding planning so far. We have loved sharing the food and experiences with our friends and family.

Our next wedding related event will be my shopping for a wedding gown this Friday. My mom, sister and maid of honor will be joining me. I probably chose the WRONG weekend to be trying cupcakes out...

After that will be our trip down to Santa Barbara with our wonderful friends, Emily and Nick. We will be taking our engagement photos in a place that is more special to us than anywhere in the world. The place where I was born, where we both went to college, where we both had our first jobs, where we met, had our first apartment, got engaged...SB here we come!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mm Mm Good!




The last big vendor that we have to schedule for our wedding is the food. I don't know if you are aware of this, but food is expensive! Many menus that we looked included something like the following: "A grain of rice, 1/8 a piece of chicken and a thimbleful of sauce: $85. Forks: extra. Knives: extra. Plates: priceless."

We didn't want to have super fancy food - that's not really our style. But wanted to have some passed appetizers that were delish, and some solid dinner food too. I am actually all about the snacks beforehand and the dessert afterwards, so that is my focus. ;)

Our site gave us a solid list of preferred caterers that they had worked with before, and so we started there. Many of the places sounded too fancy pants for us, except one, which was called BBQ Boys. We kind of liked the idea of BBQ (something we love), it was well within the budget and it would fit our desire to have something casual. After all, this is pretty much a backyard wedding.

We started doing a bit of research on them on yelp.com. They only got 3 stars (out of 5), so I started reading the reviews. Hard bread. Raw meat. Lackluster service. No thank you!! They're off the list!

We went back to the list and just started emailing. We heard back from a company and scheduled a tasting, which we went to yesterday. We asked Em and Nick to come with us - second opinions are always important! It was quite a setup. They had a table for 4 set up for us, complete with linens, plates, etc. We went through their entire proposed menu, which included 4 appetizers that were TO DIE FOR!!! Some of the deliciousness included....

Freshly baked sourdough bread
Tuna Tar Tar on a toasted pita chip (topped with finely chopped and marinated olives)
Chain Tacos (marinated taco meat on a tortilla chip)
Cinnamon chicken salad on a brown butter crostini (topped with creme fresh)
Toasted baguette with melted gorganzola cheese and a poached pear and toasted pecans

YUM YUM YUM

The dinner part was good too (Like I said, I love my appetizers and my dessert!)

2 yummy salads
Chicken Piccata
Wild Rice Pilaf
Braised Beef tenderloin
MASHED POTATOES!!!!! (Those were so good - she had to bring us a second bowl...)

She was willing and able to change/adapt the dishes to fit our needs (less anchovies in the caesar dressing please...and onions on the side for Rick!!)

We sent them an email last night asking them to cater for the wedding. As soon as we hear back, it will be confirmed: all of our big vendors are DONE!!!


Emily and Nick were up, we also reunited the puppies - Zoe and Taiko. They love love LOVED seeing each other. I wasn't there when they first saw each other again but I guess they were pretty tripped out (probably not used to seeing doggies their own size!) They ran around and tackled each other all afternoon!! Taiko is quite the tank, but Zoe definitely held her own!! I am glad that they will have each other to play with every now and then. We are looking forward to bringing them to SB for our engagement photos in a few months - I hope they love the ocean!!
We are still working on figuring out when Taiko needs to go outside - it's miraculous that he still has to "go" even after not having food and drink for a few hours. It's enough to blow your mind! But he has been really good so far.

It's funny because we live on the top floor of our condo, and for the past few days, Taiko hasn't walked up the stairs . He was pretending he couldn't or he was just being lazy...I think he just didn't realize how big he was. So, when Zoe was here yesterday, I look, and she is hauling butt up the stairs! I told Taiko - "she's smaller than you! You can definitely do this." But still, he would stop at the stairs, even if we went up and offered him a treat. He likes to go under the stairs, not up them....


So last night, out of nowhere, we were coming back in from Taiko's bathroom trip, and he just starts going up the stairs! We were so proud! Then this morning, I went to the trash bins to throw out the doggie bags, and I look back - Taiko is nowhere to be seen. After a moment of panic, I look towards the house. Taiko is going up the stairs. He was done with being outside, and so he started to head back on his own!! So funny! I knew he could do it - the big faker!

He's been an awesome addition to the family
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taiko The Tank



Recently, our wonderful friends Emily and Nick, decided to expand their family. They adopted puppy Zoe Rose last Saturday, and promptly brought her over for a visit...
Needless to say, I about melted. She is a beautiful golden retriever who has the sweetest temperament and face - I died. As Em and Nick talked more about their experience, and conversations with the breeder, I became convinced: we should get a puppy too.

Mike and I have talked about getting a dog for some time (about the last year or so). We both love dogs (just one at a time though...) but were drawn to the big breeds (Goldens were #1 on my list, while Mike loves Labs). We didn't think that we could have a larger dog because we don't have a yard, so the doggie would have to be primarily indoors.

Em and Nick quelled that concern. The breeder they went with actually breeds service dogs, and so they are a line that is used to being mellow, and left alone if that is what their owner's needs are. She gave them some suggestions for their living arrangement, and it sounded totally doable!

Last night, Mike and I called the same breeder and asked if they still had a girl left. She said they did, and that she was the last one of the litter! Clearly, this was meant to be. I called Mike immediately (right as the bell for my class was ringing) and talked to all of the kids - "We're getting a dog!!!" They were all excited, and talked about ways for the puppy to spend its day with us, here at Fremont.

Mike and I went right after work to pick up supplies. We knew we were jumping the gun, but who can turn down an excuse to go to Costco? (wink wink) We also headed over to PetsMart and got some more stuff that Costco didn't carry - we were ready for our baby!! We called her to see what time would be good for us to come over. She said around 7:30, and also said that she had been mistaken about something:

The last puppy was a boy...

We had about an hour to kill, so we went home. I wasn't really sure what to do. I started thinking, why do I need to have a girl dog? What is wrong with a dude doggie? Mike had no preference, and said that it was up to me. I went online and did some research about the difference between males and females. These are the main differences:
  • The obvious difference :)
  • Size (males are typically 15-20 lbs. larger)
  • Males are often more affectionate whereas females tend to be more independent
The things that I might have been worried about with a boy dog can be "cured" by having them neutered as soon as possible.

We decided to go ahead and check him out.


Of course, when we walked through the door and saw him, by himself, it was done.

We chose the name Taiko after visiting a street faire in SF this weekend. They were having a Taiko show. I love, love, love Taiko. it is so badass, yet elegant and graceful at the same time. That is exactly what I would want out of a doggie. Plus, the name fits him, because he is HUGE!!!!! The breeder called him "chunky monkey." And on our way out whispered to us that he liked hot dogs....

Welcome to the family Taiko!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Ministainer!


Mike and I put a lot of thought into considering who we wanted to perform our ceremony. Because neither of us are particularly/strictly religious, and because we are not getting married in a church, we had a lot of freedom in this area. We wanted to have someone close to us be the one to pronounce us man and wife (ahhh!!!!) in the spirit of wanting our wedding to really be a celebration of us and our friends.

So, we were waffling back and forth between a few people, knowing that each of them would bring something special and amazing to the day. One of the people has known us literally since day 1 (Mike asked me to officially be his girlfriend the night before this person's wedding - and I met him 1 minute later) and another has been in Mike's life for as long as he can remember. We wanted them both to be a part of the wedding in some way, so it was just a matter of how.

A few nights ago, Mike asked our friend, Brian, to officiate our ceremony. He was clearly taken aback, and already nervous - concerned that his emotions would get in the way and "embarrass" us. He said that he needed some time to think about it.

Just now, I see the following message on Brian's Facebook page:

"I need to get an "officiant for the day" licence.

Don't play with our emotions, Smoky. You better be getting that for us. (I just confirmed on Facebook @ 10:34 p.m. Brian WILL be marrying us!!!)






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Monday, September 21, 2009

1,000 Paper Cranes

So, Mike and I decided (after his cousin Ginger so generously offered to help...) that we are going to incorporate the Japanese tradition of having 1,000 origami cranes as a part of our wedding. It is said that he who folds 1,000 paper cranes will have their heart's desire. Score!

My dad has offered to fold 1/2 of these cranes (this is right up his ally!), and Mike's cousin Ginger will do some as well. We will definitely be folding some ourselves, but want everyone to feel the love ;)

Mike chose some origami paper to order, and it arrived today!! He started to work right away

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Chose the Venue!


So, this post is coming a bit late - as the blog wasn't created until AFTER we had done a lot of the fun planning for our wedding. So, let's back it up a bit.

Mike and I put a lot of thought about where to have our wedding. Santa Barbara has so much meaning to both of us, and to us as a couple, so naturally we started there. The day we got back from Santa Barbara (for my friend's bachelorette) I started looking at places and contacting them. Within the day, I was rethinking it (Mike was at work - he comes in later...) We don't really know people in SB anymore, so each planning trip we would make would mean a long drive, getting a hotel room, eating out, etc. I loved the idea of having an excuse to travel down there, but I realized that with our busy schedules, it would probably be more of a pain that it would be fun and rewarding.

Onto the next choice.

We moved on to thinking about our next favorite place: wine country. We love going on weekend or even day trips to Napa and are members at several wineries there. I was going to the spa with my mom in Sonoma one weekend, and so we decided to look there as well. On my way down, I was talking to my friend Emily about her wedding (which was fast approaching in just a few weeks) I was telling her about some of the rates that these places were charging for food and renting the space etc. It was quite a shock, but then again, I didn't know any better. She quickly set me on the right track. It would cost close to 60% of our budget to just feed people at our wedding - definitely not happening. So, we found ourselves back in square one.

We started looking more seriously at places in San Jose. The convenience of that idea became more and more appealing the more we talked about it. After all, aren't weddings supposed to be a fun, and joyous celebration? I already know that I will be getting sick from excitement the day of (as I have since I was a kid!) No need to have that happen every step of the way!

While we were Truckee for Emily's wedding, I was feverishly emailing places, feeling the time crunch coming down (our wedding at this point was less than one year away) I heard back immediately from two places: Hotel Valencia in Santana Row and Bella Montagna.

Each of these places had their own appeal for very different reasons.

Hotel Valencia is in the middle of a very posh outdoor shopping and dining area in downtown San Jose. Mike and I frequent the area restaurants and wine bar, and have been known to window shop amongst the Gucci, Burberry and Prada stores. The hotel is Asian themed, and very modern, both things that we loved. The ceremony could take place outside in a courtyard and then we would move inside to party. Plus, it had the additional benefit of being a hotel - so our guests wouldn't have to go far from getting ready to the wedding and then to bed!

Bella Montagna is actually a private home in the hills of South San Jose. It is called an "Italian style villa" by its owners, and boasts views of the valley and Santa Cruz mountains on a clear day. (See below)

It has an intimate feel, as the ceremony and reception would take place on the lawn and cocktail hour on the patio alongside the house. They also have a small vineyard, which was dripping with bright purple grapes when we visited.

Lawn - where the ceremony would take place


Our first visit was to Hotel Valencia - a site that I was convinced I would love. However, when we walked in, it just didn't feel right. We met the wedding planner and she walked us to the outdoor space where the ceremony would take place. Again - just didn't feel right. It was very cavernous, and almost too big for what Mike and I had been talking about. Additionally, when I looked up, what did I see? People's patios from their rooms. I didn't know how I felt about random people watching our wedding, or smoking stogies on their patio during our vows... Then we walked into the reception space, and for me, the deal was sealed. It felt like a conference area that I have been in as a part of a school professional development opportunity. It was cold, unwelcoming, and needed too much in the way of decorations. The walls were bare, the ceiling bare, the chairs - you got it! - bare. We walked out and I was pretty let down. I just wanted to find the place, and know it was right.

Onto Bella Montagna.

I had actually gone there before a few days prior to visiting the Valencia. (while Mike was bowling - he had already missed a few games and didn't want to let his team down. Such commitment!!) I remember calling Mike and saying, "this place is sick!" But I didn't want to get too attached to it because 1) Mike wasn't there and 2) I was set on the Valencia. After our let down at the hotel, I just hoped beyond hope that this would work out. We pulled the car through the wooden gates, and were greeted by Marcia - the wedding planner for the site. She walked us through all of the property and I fell more and more in love with it the longer we stayed there. We sat down to go through the particulars and after a moment without Marcia - Mike and I agreed that this was it!!

We sent in the contract, and Bella Montagna is ours for July 17, 2010!! Be there - 5:00 sharp!

I have included a few pictures so that you can get a sense of the place -


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Monday, September 7, 2009

Here We Go...







Tonight I decided that it might be cool to start a blog to chronicle the journey of the next year of our lives and beyond. I realize every year more and more, that life is so fleeting, and I forget so much and so much just leaves me in the dust before I have a chance to savor its happening at all. This year has particularly inspired me to start chronicling my shenanigans because on July 27, 2010, I will be Ms. Stephanie Griesmer no more. That's right. Mike and I are getting married.

He proposed on July 27 at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, at the end of Emily's bachelorette party weekend. It was 5 years in the making and was the most amazing moment of my life.
See some fun pictures on the right -



We are so blessed and thankful that our closest friends (most of them, anyway) were the to experience it with us. I am also sooo thankful that we got it on video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0gHyl_1UfE

So I guess this blog is for me, and for you too, if you care. I need to savor the moments that make life wonderful! So let the fun begin!
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