it's christmas

hello everyone,

This is just a quick note to say...
(or whichever winter holiday your family celebrates this time of year)

I hope you feel very blessed and enjoy time surrounded by family and friends.
If I could share a cup of cinnamon tea or glass of eggnog with each of you, I would! 

Thank you for reading this year -- I really appreciate you
spending time on my little corner of the "interwebs". 
Best wishes for 2014!



refinished shelf aka "the tetanus game"

first off...wedding countdown = 37 days!!!

I finally completed a fairly easy furniture refinishing project I've been procrastinating on for a while. Proof that there's nothing like an impending wedding and husband moving in to make you get your act together.

Looking back almost 4 years, I was a bright-eyed college grad, independent in her first solo apartment and zero furniture. Certainly no decent furniture. As such, I got most of what I'm still using either on Craigslist, at yard sales, or cheap at Walmart and Target --enter the dreaded $30 bookshelf. Don't get me wrong, they're inexpensive, easy to assemble, and will hold just about anything...except their weight in books. Behold IKEAs best kept secret: chipboard furniture is ultimately just garbage. Especially when poorly organized and unattractive like the one shown to the right (which has definitely *not* resided in my living room for 2+ years). Please note the obvious warping under the weight of the Chronicles of Mr. Potter.

To remedy this decorative and bibliophile tragedy, I sought out a vintage piece to do the job -- because solid modern furniture is too pricey, naturally. I found a beauty at a local showroom and bartered the seller down from $45 to $20 because of the serious damage to the back panel. You can't completely tell from the pictures but all those darker spots are thinned almost-holes and the entire bottom of the back panel wasn't even attached anymore.

So, to restore it back to its former glory, I started by measuring the existing back panel and taking that info down to (you guessed it) Lowe's. A friendly employee in the lumber department taught me a fun new term..."lauan" plywood which is a decoratively finished plywood, thin and easy to use for non-weight-bearing projects like the back of a bookshelf. The more you know! So I snagged a big ole' piece for $8 and after a bit of consulting on how to cut it down to the right size, I headed home. 

Lauan is so thin, you can actually just cut it with a sharp x-acto knife so I sat in the floor with a ruler and got to work. Following his instructions, I scored each cut several times then bent the unwanted pieces back until they snapped off. I lightly sanded the edges then stained the entire panel with a *thankfully* matching can of stain I already had.
If you've never wood stained anything before, it is one of the easiest tricks in the book, especially when starting with natural unfinished wood. Just use a foam brush like shown and paint it in long, even strokes. I usually go back and add a spotted second coat to certain areas to darken the stain and make it less uniform. Dry overnight before moving on.

I didn't take any photos of the next part, but while my new panel was drying, I stripped the old panel off the back of the bookshelf. It came off pretty easily once I got a corner loose and peeled away from the nails in long strips and made a giant mess all over the place. Word of warning - be careful when peeling, the strips are extremely sharp and a little unpredictable. Next I pulled up a chair and used a hammer and needle-nose pliers to get all the nails out of the shelf where the back panel had been. This, I have coined "The Tetanus Game" because with nails that small and rusty, every one you pull out without it going into your hand is a winner. I managed to extract every one, probably 25 in all. (And no tetanus, in case you were wondering - I consider myself the current Tetanus Game Champion.)

From there, it was easy peasy. I laid the bookshelf face down and attached the new panel with wood glue and stacks of books (irony, no?). While the wood glue was drying, I worked my way around the whole shelf, using small nails to secure the panel. Stand 'er up and let 'er dry. Voila - old shelf, new life. And by glorious accident, I realized that the bottom shelf is tall enough for awkwardly sized cookbooks that finally have a new home.
Much improved, in my opinion! Scroll up and check that first pic for a comparison shot. Sidenote- the stool is a temporary placeholder until Strider moves in and his small, dark wood end table may find a home there with coasters for couch guests. I'm so pleased! 

On an unrelated note - a slightly warped chipboard bookshelf is looking for a new home and open to inquiries.


operation dress-pickup!

Well, according to Target.com's wedding registry page, there are only 45 days till the wedding!

And though the picture is awful, can I get a "woot woot" for my dress coming in a full week early?! 

Mom and I drove out to pick it up today and took it straight to the alterations guy. 
I'm feeling very blessed and breathing deeply knowing that it is within driving distance.

Just for fun, check out this short & sweet article on the #staymarried blog about actor Tom Hanks and his 25-year marriage to Rita Wilson. For all the terrible marriage role models in Hollywood, they get major props. And I love what he says about her, "That woman has loved me skinny, she's loved me fat. She's loved me bald, she's loved me hairy. That woman, I know, she loves me. So I'm a lucky man."

Strider and I may just be at the beginning, but I'm feeling pretty lucky too!


a shower, a shower & a shower

That's right...three showers in one title!

Shower No. 1 is the hole and water damage in my bathroom wall that's been slowly repaired all week by a guy named Mark—no worries, the damage has only been there since I moved in...2+ years ago (slightly ashamed). Thankfully, it should be fixed and ready for me to repaint Monday. Can I get a "woot woot" for apartment makeovers between now and January to get ready for Strider moving in!

Shower No. 2 is my absolutely incredible bridal shower earlier this month. Hosted by my amazing mom and sister, I simply could not have been happier with the whole event. Checkout the pics of my gorgeous bridal tea:
The menu: mini chicken salad rolls, cucumber finger sandwiches, vanilla bean scones, mini spice cupcakes with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting, and mini vanilla-raspberry cupcakes with pink vanilla buttercream
My sister's idea: to have all the guests write date ideas and marriage advice on
popsicle sticks then drop them in mason jars for me to read later. So fun!
Look at these breathtaking tables - complete with real china tea sets,
English-style tiered tea stands, and personalized favors.
Mom put pictures of Strider and I across the tea table with mini strands of lights - I LOVE tiny twinkly lights.
Please notice the real tea tins with holes punched into them to use as tealight lanterns!
Some lovely ladies enjoying their tea and tasty treats. (me in green, my sis in the cool specs)
My mom “acting natural” (haha) and Strider’s mom (b&w), grandmother (blue), and aunt (coral).
Opening all my sweet gifts. And hey, check out that crafty thank you banner back there!
My precious cousin Lindsey and sweet baby Reece...like mother, like daughter.

And that concludes this photo tour of the world's most lovely bridal shower! (Okay - maybe the author is a teensy bit biased, but it is pr-ee-tty incredible!) Thank you so much to all the ladies who made this possible—and a special shout-out to Lydia, who's help that day was infinitely appreciated.

Thought I forgot about Shower No. 3 huh? That would be the random actual downpour that occurred about halfway through this beautiful tea party. Thankfully, the courtyard was mostly covered!


mrs. organized-schmorganized

Though not exactly splashed across the glossy pages of bridal magazines, wedding organization tools have a fairly strong market to today's modern Mrs-to-be. There are tons of great planners, binders, etc. out there bursting with more lists than any bride ever needs. However, I must admit that since our wedding is a bit non-traditional and I like being able to manage my own organizational tools (read: too broke to spend money on non-essentials like a bridal binder), I decided to make/find all my own organization tools. 

Today, I'd like to share some of these great finds and self-created sheets for anyone else out there navigating the wedding world. Just, ya know, in case you're interested.

First off is the Guest List Master spreadsheet. I've updated this beast a ton since our original guest list conversations, but it has been immensely helpful to keep track of everything. Click the link, download the file from Google Docs, then save it to your own computer under whichever name you choose. Then, just plug in all your standard guest info: names, addresses, etc. (I only included email addresses because we sent our Save the Dates via email.) I recommend doing one line per invitation, so if you're inviting a couple, put both names in the first names box. If the couple aren't married or have different last names but they're receiving one invitation, just put a slash between the names and included both names in the last name box. If you do it that way, when you've finished, the number of rows should tell you approximately how many invitations to order, while the number of guests invited will give you an approximate for your head count. 

Last notes: I also chose to color-code each different group of guests so I could see what our demographic would look like and just to keep track of everyone more easily. You'll also notice that there are two additional tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet. One was for my bridal shower and the other was for any secondary receptions you are having in a different location (like we're doing in Strider's hometown). This way you manage all your different guest lists in one location. I highly recommend printing off the shower list when you're done and taking it with you - that way your gift assistant can write the gifts right next to the guests names and you can just check off the thank you box once you've written them later. Easy-peasy!

Since we aren't hiring any vendors, I don't have a sheet to keep up with that, but another helpful resource I've used is The Knot's Ultimate Registry Checklist. My advice is to first go through and just take off all the stuff you know that you will not be registering for or that is really just unnecessary (there's a lot of that). But then print it off and use that as your master to keep notes on as you register and think of important things to add that aren't a part of their sheet **cough cough** board games.

Additional spreadsheets for your perusal:
- Contact Sheet: for vendors & bridal party - helpful to keep on hand and to provide to your day-of coordinator
- 8-Month Planning Timeline: I came across tons of helpful wedding timelines right after we got engaged and I was at a bit of a loss for where to start -- BUT they were ALL either 12 months of 6 months. Since our engagement is 8 months long, this is the average that I came up with. It's worked very well so far allowing for lots of handmade projects. If anything, I've stayed pretty far ahead of schedule. Only warning is to go early on the dress - alterations and shipping timelines are cutting it close!

Where to put it all your print offs of these beautiful organizational tools, you ask? Ditch the $25 bookstore planners and head to Office Depot for a $2 three-ring binder. Punch all your sheets and just clip them right in. Easy & cheap. I also had fun decorating the front of my binder with a quote to keep in mind:

              "At the end of the day, if you are married to your best friend, 
                                then everything went according to plan."

BONUS TIP: Since color palettes look totally crazy on different computers and it's hard to communicate exactly the shades you're planning with out-of-state bridal party, head on down to Lowe's and grab paint cards in your perfect colors. Get one swatch or set of swatches for each bridal party member and for yourself, walk out spending $0, then hole punch them and put them on a hinged O-ring to send to each attendant. This way they see exactly what your colors are and you can slip your own set into your 3-ring binder for easy keeping. Brilliant!

Happy Organizing!


frightful tales of wedding registries

Welcome to the haunted house of....Registry Dinnerware! OooOOooo!!! (and other scary noises)

The Trial: Although initially perceived as a super fun pre-wedding checklist item, completing and maintaining our wedding registry has been a veritable nightmare...a time-suck that recently resulted in me arguing with a "clearly-not-really-named-Dave" Target customer service representative.

Regarding dinnerware, I went, as brides throughout history have done, straight to a reliable source...a trusted name grandmothers and mothers everywhere tout without exception: Pfaltzgraff. We immediately found a gorgeous pattern that we both loved, and I set to work coordinating the rest of our kitchen accoutrements. Then came the product reviews...DUH DUH DUH...it became clear that this once-great dinnerware titan has fallen. Apparently, no one is immune to the reduced price tag of exported labor. Dinnerware choice #1 - Disqualified for poor performance and sustainability. You would have been well loved.

To make a long story short, I regrouped and re-registered for our second choice set. Then, we watched sadly as our second, third, and fourth dinnerware choices were each quickly discontinued and labeled "Out of Stock" in turn. Curses upon you Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. 

The Tribulation: Strider and I randomly visited an antique emporium in a nearby town where lo-and-behold there lay a beautiful dinnerware set. Only missing one plate, this almost complete set was pretty, sturdy, and wait for it....... ....only $30! We looped the store to make sure it wasn't just a trick of the light, but returned to realize, that this was it, boys. Our dinnerware search was done. It's a wrap! (Seriously though, it requires a lot of bubblewrap to box up an entire dinnerware set.)

All in all, I'm thrilled just to take the stupid plates off the registry and to think of our sweet post-wedding antique dinnerware all snuggled way up in the cabinets, just awaiting their new life in January. Plus, we may still get some of the cool other dining stuff that is still on the registry to go with them, who knows.

Instead of telling you about all the other items that we've also had to replace due to being discontinued (it's a shocking long list, folks), I'll just share a pic of our gorgeous new plates.



100 & 100!!!

I've been dying to post for the last week or so because I'm in the throes of tons of wedding crafts (which I will share in due course)...but I've held out for a "most excellent" occurrence: 

Today is my 100th blog post AAANNDD exactly 100 days from the wedding! Woo! Hoo!

Anyways, to get on to a fun tutorial for today...I give you, the guest "board"! Basically, this craft came from the fact that I don't completely understand the point of guest books at weddings. Everyone signs them but then you put it in a box somewhere and probably never look at it again. So to remedy that pointlessness and to give Strider and I something cool for our new digs (once we find a home, that is), I set to work.

First, (you guessed it) I went to Lowe's. I snagged a great piece of pre-sanded pine board for around $9. The size was a bit in question because I didn't want it to be huge but not too small that people couldn't sign it either. The piece I chose is around 1' x 4' but it could vary depending on your preference and the length of your last name. I then headed over to the paint/stain aisle and picked out a small can of a nice Golden Pecan by Minwax ($5).
Next, I typed out soon-to-be-OUR last name in Word and printed it out, using the font from our invitations naturally. Once home, I sat down with pencils and erasers (a lot of erasers) and carefully free-handed it on the board to match the print-off, just on a larger scale. Crafting honesty = this bit took ages to get just right.
I then carefully traced my final lines with a fine tip Sharpie. I let it dry an hour or so just to be sure then used a sponge brush to apply the wood stain. I did two coats, front and back, allowing it to dry completely between each.
Photo above is post-stain, though my camera doesn't really pick up all the golden hues it brought out. Once the staining was done, I took a very small paintbrush and some liquid black acrylic paint ($1) to fill in the letters and create smooth edges. This bit also took a while, but a steady hand doing one coat should be sufficient.

After that dried overnight, I took it outside and sprayed it with an aerosol clear Polyurethane. I didn't want to use a painted sealer in case the acrylic smeared, but once the aerosol layer dried, I did go back and back two cross-hatching layers of satin Polyurethane with a brush to seal it really well. After the wedding, I will seal it again with everyone's contributions to make it a permanent fixture for our new home. Final product = ta da!
I love it and now I can rest easy with it leaned up against my wall all sealed and ready for some guests to take Sharpies to it! Total project cost = around $15 with the stuff I already had at home. Waaayy less than those crazy bridal stores charge and it will be a great addition to our new home. Total project time = more than I care to admit.

Thoughts on other non-traditional guest "books"? 
Hope you like it!


winner wednesday!

I actually really wanted the title of this post to be "Winner-Winner-Chicken-Dinner Wednesday" but felt like it was a tad bit (sarcasm) too long. Either way, I am very excited to say:
to my first-ever giveaway winner...Susan O! Check your email and you should have a note from me with instructions on how to get your awesome autumn giveaway set.

Thanks everyone for reading and keep an eye out for more fun giveaways in the future. 


diy autumn coasters & my first giveaway!

Autumn is officially here and I could not be more excited!! 55 degrees outside, cup of coffee in hand. More accurately, this is me -------->

So...to commemorate all this excitement, I have a fun, cheap, and easy DIY project to share: 
Handmade Tile Coaster Sets 

Naturally, I saw the idea somewhere else online (probably Pinterest) and there are a lot of tutorials out there, but this is the way I've found works best.

Materials needed:
- 1 to 4 sheets of scrapbooking paper depending on if you want all the coasters to match or to create a themed set like I did (approx $0.30 each)
- jar of matte finish Mod Podge ($4 and up at Hobby Lobby)
- 1 to 2 small sheets of felt in the color of your choice ($0.25 each at Hobby Lobby)
- hot glue gun and glue sticks (ranges in price but I have a $3 mini one)
- 4 to 6 tiles depending on how many coasters you want in your set (the cheapest ones at Lowe's are labeled 4"x4" Biscuits and are $0.16 each)
- small can of clear satin water-based Polyurethane ($7 at Lowe's)

  • Start with a trip to Hobby Lobby. Spend forever picking out your paper, decide how many coasters you want, and end up buying something unrelated just because it's Hobby Lobby.
  • Take everything home and set it all out on your desk. Breathe in the inevitable, glorious anticipation that comes with the beginning of a new project. Then, proceed to cut out 4"x4" squares of the paper and felt.
  • Wipe the tops of the tiles off with a dry cloth to remove Lowe's dust, and use a thin coat of Mod Podge to apply a paper square to the top of each tile. Set them aside and let them dry.
  • Once dry, apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the whole surface of the tiles, especially around the edges of the paper to seal them. Let dry.
  • Next, apply 2-3 coats of Polyurethane to each of the tiles. Mod Podge is great as a basic crafting glue but it isn't really waterproof - the Polyurethane helps seal the tiles so they're safe to use with drippy, condensation-ing drink glasses. Let dry fully between each coat.
  • Once everything is totally dry, use your hot glue gun to apply one felt square to the back of each tile so they don't scratch furniture.
  • Stack them up and impress your guests with your crafty awesomeness! (and secretly love the fact that, all told, you only spent about $3)

And since fall is here and I made these coasters for no real reason, I am super excited to announce:
the first-ever giveaway on A Song for the Birds!
That's right, this super cool autumn coaster set can be yours! Plus, a pair of snuggly socks and 
NC local bath salts...man is that a great giveaway, am I right? 
Just leave a comment below letting me know that you were here and by Wednesday, 
I'll randomly select one reader to win! Plus, who knows...I may throw in some other awesome stuff as a last minute 
surprise (wink!). Just my way of saying thanks for reading and that I hope your autumn is awesome!

**Edit 9/25/13 - This giveaway is now closed. Please keep reading in the future for more giveaways, tutorials, and other random fun stuff. Thanks!**


autumn baking kickoff - part 2

Super-Spice Molasses Cookies
I love for things that are meant to be spicy, to really pack a punch. As a rule, I always use lots of extra chai when I make my morning drinks, hot or cold. As such, I've looked for a while for a truly spice-featuring autumn cookie that is still soft and chewy, regardless of when it is eaten. And I found it all in this incredible and easy recipe!


2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup sugar divided
1 egg
1 tbsp orange juice or orange liqueur
1/4 cup molasses

  • Whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together till fluffy, add the egg, then orange juice/liqueur and molasses. 
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. 
  • Refrigerate 45 minutes. (This is important because otherwise the dough is too sticky to work with.)
  • Roll dough into 1" balls then press into discs.
  • Cover with 1/4 cup sugar and place on baking sheet about 2" apart.
  • Bake on 350 for 8-10 minutes.

I personally think these are perfect for dipping in what I call "Snow Cream Steamers"...just a cup of milk with a tsp of sugar and vanilla extract heated up like hot chocolate. Excellent for snuggling up with a book!


autumn baking kickoff - part 1

Caramel-Chai Apple Pie (super tasty and it rhymes to boot!)
This weekend my amazing friend Kirsten's birthday was serendipitously accompanied by a drop in temperature significant enough to merit the official kickoff of the autumn baking season! As such, I am happy to have two incredible recipes to share. Though it may sound totally nuts from the name, I can promise you that this is the very best apple pie I have ever made. Ever.

Pillsbury 2 ct. refrigerated pie crusts
1 egg white
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp pure caramel extract
1/2 cup chai concentrate (Tazo or Oregon Chai are both great)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp each: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
4 granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

  • First, set your crusts out for 15 minutes to bring them to room temp. Normally, I'd harp on the importance of handmade pastry but frankly, these are easy and delicious and I'm giving myself a free pass since the rest of the pie is from scratch. Unroll one crust, line your pie pan, and brush it with egg white.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the 1/2 cup butter and add the flour to make a paste. 
  • Add the caramel extract, chai concentrate, both sugars, and the spices. 
  • Stir and increase heat to bring to a light boil then reduce and simmer, continuing to stir so the sugar doesn't burn to the bottom. Cook on low for 5-7 minutes then remove from heat.
  • Line the bottom crust with a layer of apple slices (I think it's essential to keep the slices thin) and pour 1/4 of the filling mixture over them. Repeat layering apples and filling till full.
  • Cut up the 2 tablespoons butter and dot the top of the pie.
  • Unroll your top crust and either use it whole or cut up into a lattice. 
  • Brush the entire top with egg white and then poke vent holes.
  • Bake on 350 for 1 hour. Cool to room temperature and *this is key*...let it set up for 5-6 or so hours before serving. 

It got rave reviews for me and thankfully, the birthday girl said she enjoyed her "cake".
Reheat a slice and top it with some vanilla bean ice cream...that's what I call a great way to start off fall!


diy wedding shoes

A couple weeks ago my mom and I found ourselves browsing the shelves at Rack Room Shoes for those ever-stylish black "work-safe" tennis shoes we all know and love. (Ha!) Thankfully, I did find a pair but of course had to order them because if you're an almost 6-foot girl like me, you well know the struggling of finding anything in your size in-store. Regardless, we still had the option to take advantage of the BOGO they were running so Mom brilliantly suggested we take a look around for some wedding shoes.

I knew I wanted flats but it seemed everything was either too plain or dripping with obnoxious glitter and rhinestones. So...I landed on this pair of fake Toms (Bobs) in an unassuming champagne color and set my brain to craft mode. Normally $39, we snagged them for $19!
After staring at them for a week or so, I decided some lace and maybe buttons or simple jewels to add a "something blue" would be just the thing. I dug through my ribbons bin and found half a roll of leftover lace from my bridesmaids boxes project (originally $1.99 at the great Hobby Lobby). Grab a glue gun and get to work! I glued the lace along an existing seam running diagonally across the toes so if they peek out under the dress, the details will be visible. On a whim, I added small pieces to the back to cover up the brand tag. Step 1 complete:
For step 2, I debated in the aisles at Hobby Lobby between buttons and jewelry-making accents. They didn't have a huge button selection, but there was plenty to choose from in the jewelry section. I knew I wanted to tie in my "something blue" on my shoes but didn't want it to be super obvious. Bows and the like really aren't my style so in the end, I purchased two strands of turquoise and bronze jewel thing-ys for $2.99 each. More glue, and the inevitable web of hot glue strings everywhere, then ta-da: an awesome pair of one-of-a-kind wedding shoes for about $25!

I'm super happy with them (and their price tag) and can't believe they have to just sit in a box for another 161 days!


what is marriage?

I promise I'll be discussing some non-wedding/marriage topics soon, but I think today's post title is a vital question, especially for my generation. So...what is marriage, really?

The Oxford Dictionary defines marriage as: the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife; a combination or mixture of two or more elements.

You may have also heard that marriage is a commitment, a promise, a covenant, "the long game", the old "ball and chain", a "permanent mistake", and possibly, the end of life as you know it. Unfortunately, with divorce rates as high as ever and negative portrayals scattered across every form of popular media, it is easy to dwell more on the difficulties than the joys.

I've also had several people make the comment that they just "couldn't picture themselves loving one person forever." In response to that, I always think about my grandpa-- in this area, he proved quite the philosopher. 

For much of my life, I remember my grandmother being a somewhat harsh woman. Though God has brought recent opportunities for me to see a new side of her, when my grandpa was still alive, my memory consisted mostly of her nagging him and being demanding. One day, while visiting my grandpa in the nursing home, I asked him how he had loved my grandma for so long? How has they managed to stay married for 50+ years? His response was simple, like so much of who he was. He turned his bright blue eyes to me and firmly stated, "Because I choose her every day."

I have meditated on those words for years. In hoping for my future husband, in my early relationship with Strider, and now in the anticipating of our marriage. What a simple, beautiful perspective on a life spent with the woman he loved. He chose her. Every. single. day.

Just that, just a choice. Not a one-time promise of "I'll love you forever." Not a naive hope that marriage will be wonderful and magical. Not a bitter resentment of a 50-year mistake (despite the many hardships they endured). Just a simple choice to love her -- to wake up every single day and choose to love her all over again, no matter what the day would bring.

That's the love I want. To give and to receive.

Making a one-day promise to love someone forever does seem too huge and impossible for a fallible person to keep. It would be much easier to give up on the one promise that you made 10 or 20 years ago, rather than the choice you make each day. It seems easier to "fall out of love" when the love you promised was just a feeling, not a choice. 

I can't promise to feel the magic every day or look at him with googley, twitterpated eyes. 
But I can promise to choose him every day
Promise to work to love him when I don't feel like it. 
Promise to put him first even when I want to be selfish.
Promise to forgive and to fight for us.

Just a choice, every day.

courtesy of staymarriedblog.com


nuptial nonsense

This post is about wedding things I don't understand or feel are completely unnecessary. It is not intended to offend or to suggest that our planning choices are better than others. If you disagree, that's totally fine, but if not, maybe you'll join me in just asking, "Why!?"

Things I've found to be wedding nonsense:

The 3-month-salary ring rule. If you're rolling in the dough, sure, go crazy--but for all the guys out there that aren't: your girl will love anything you give her (or should). It's about the promise, not the ring. This is the beginning of your life together - don't start it off in debt. Plus, there are beautiful, totally reasonable options out there. Try Gordon's online.

Escort Cards/Place Cards/Seating Charts. So much work, stress, and extra printing costs! Trust me, I know families can get complicated, but really now...if guests aren't grown up enough to find their own seats and play nice for a couple hours, well, maybe they should just sit with the kids or stay home.

The garter toss. To each their own I guess, but to me, this is always awkward. The idea of a husband creeping under tons of layers of his new wife's dress to pull out essentially a piece of underwear that he is going to throw at his friends...uncomfortable to even think about.

Unrealistic bridal party expectations. Since getting engaged, I've heard all kinds of crazy stories about how bridal party members have been treated when participating in weddings for family and friends. Between excessive costs, unfair travel expectations, and "all about the bride" mentalities, can we cool it already? These are your best friends...they love you...please don't make them wish you harm over outlandish, self-obsessed requests. (To my incredible ladies, please throw a shoe at me if I get crazy!)

Alcohol. Whether or not your family and friends drink, bars are a wallet-black-hole for weddings. And why introduce all the drama that can come from including this as part of your special day? No one wants a drunken speech giver. Thankfully, it isn't an issue for us.

Registry complications. Registries are a beautiful thing. This way, guests know they are getting the happy couple something they actually want...and that is awesome. But why do they have to be so complicated? Between choosing what you want, reading reviews to make sure it is a quality pick, choosing where to register for it, and checking the registries periodically to make sure your picks don't become discontinued before the big day....whew! Complicated. Plus, add all the people who just get you gift cards--a kind and helpful gift, but bittersweet because it makes all that registry bother for naught.

The costs. All the costs! This is an obvious one. Go as simple as you like, but inevitably, you're still going to end up spending more than you feel like you need to. And it is pretty evident that vendors play to the emotional bride, trying to coerce you into "needing" something you don't or scaling things up and out of your budget. Admittedly, it's hard not to get wrapped up in a tornado of tulle, tapas, and transportation, but smart ladies...stick to your instincts on what is really worth it. It is just one day. Preparing for your marriage should be a much higher priority than plans for the wedding.

There are lots more, but these are the ones that have become most clear during our planning thus far. What did you nix for your "big day" that no one missed?

Also, just for fun, here's a partial sneak peek at our invites. I'm in love with them!


say no to the expectations

I have a dress. You know, the big, important, white kind that you see in pictures for the rest of your life. The kind you feel endless anxiety over because you have to make sure that it's perfectBrides-to-be are expected to pour over magazines staring hungrily at glossy photos of stick-thin models pretending to be blissfully happy, learn the names of a thousand designers who exist in a fashion-centric world completely apart from a normal-person-reality, and then be willing to choose between a kidney or your first born to pay for it all. And on top of all that pressure, there's the ever-elusive magic moment when you see yourself in the "right dress" for the first time and you start to cry, your mom cries, your sister cries, your cousin cries, and twinkling confetti and rainbows burst forth on the horizon as a cherub trumpets this momentous event...and everyone knows....knows it's the dress.

Well, excuse me, but I call major BS.

I'm no expert on bridal fashion (obviously) but I have seen/read enough to know that when I was two bridal shops and nearly 20 dresses in with no tears or magic, I was completely disheartened

Not only did I feel I was wasting everyone else's time, but I also had spent entirely too much of the day in my underwear in front of strangers - I mean, can we talk about modesty in a bridal fitting room for a minute, please. Sorry future-mother-in-law, I wasn't planning to get to know you that well just yet! Regardless, after diving through a literal sea of tulle and satin, we narrowed it down to 3 dresses. All pretty, my size, and reasonably affordable (as much as a wedding dress can be, anyways). But still, no magic.

I was overwhelmed by a sense of dread and dashed hopes because everyone knows, if you don't cry, it can't be the right one. And then, it struck me: what's the deal with all these crazy expectations anyways? I get that this is the "most important day of your life" and that the dress will be in pictures forever, but frankly, I think that's trumped up, Say Yes to the Dress, crap.

Find a dress you feel beautiful in and move on. If you're looking at your wedding pictures ten years down the road and all you can see is a dress instead of the amazing man you've just spent the last ten years with, well, you need a change of perspective, not wardrobe

This mentality may go completely against my romantic sensibilities, but the bottom line is that it is just a dress. One dress. And no matter who designed it, or what you paid for it, you will be stunning -- because you're a bride standing before her best friend as you covenant your lives together.

And if you're like me and the "magic moment" isn't there, don't freak out or feel disheartened. It doesn't mean it's the wrong dress, that you should keep looking, or that you should spend far more money than you have to try to find that impossible Disney magic. Just choose one and know that your future husband is going to think you're absolutely breathtaking in whatever you end up wearing...be it couture or corduroy. 

There is a great quote I read somewhere (no idea where) that I have taped to front of my wedding binder. I try to come back to this every time I feel like I'm getting swept up in all the unrealistic bridal expectations or unnecessary wedding "must-haves":
"At the end of the day, if you're married to your best friend,
then everything went according to plan."

And when you think about the dress through that scope, the magic isn't necessary. Have fun, feel beautiful in whatever you pick, and don't get down on yourself if your experience is lacking in rainbows and tears. Let go of unrealistic expectations and putting so much importance on an article of clothing. You. will. be. gorgeous!