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!