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.



video


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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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