The Honest Truth.

I have a strong love/hate relationship with one of David's strongest qualities. It is the one thing I love and admire most about him, it is what makes him the only man I can picture myself with, and it is something very noble. However, it is also something that often causes me frustration and even pain. It force me to re-learn how to relate to him and others and how to maneuver the world.

David is the most honest person I have ever met.


While I fully believe that honesty is the best choice and I truly hate being lied to, sometimes the complete truth can be brutal. Sometimes, when I ask "Love, do you want to drive down to my parents' house to see me for a bit tonight?", his answer is "no". When I ask him what he thinks of my new haircut, he'll tell me he hates it. He will say that he thinks my (awesome) pink pointed toe shoes make me look like a little girl playing dress-up in her mom's too big shoes. He doesn't lie to me to make me feel better, he rarely smooths things over, and if he doesn't want to do something that I would love for him to do, he'll tell me.

The flip side to this, of course, is that when David tells me he loves me, I know - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that he loves me. When he tells me that he wants to dedicate the rest of his life to me, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt that this is true. I never have to question his motives or wonder what he meant to say. He is respectful, noble, and true. I know him. I can trust him with my everything. When he says he doesn't like something about my appearance, though, he is quick to point out something else he does like. When he says he doesn't want to do something or go somewhere he often does it anyway just for me. Honestly, sometimes I feel bad since I know he doesn't want to, but it really does mean more knowing he's doing it out of love for me despite the fact that he doesn't want to.

So, why am I blogging about this now?

Well, for one, I think that honesty is one of he most important features of a marriage. Without honesty the trust goes away. The true partnership of a marriage begins to fade. If you have to question or doubt where you or your partner stands instead of being able to freely share it, there will eventually be problems. I love that David is as honest as he is, and I know that our marriage will never be lacking in truth, sharing, and partnership.

However, this kind of honesty can be painful. Just today, we were working on our "homework" for our couples' small group, and we were asked to answer some questions about our closeness in our relationship. We were to answer "yes" or "no" about questions that, according to the book, told how connected we were. "No"s meant we were more connected while "yes"s meant we were less. David answered "yes" to a few questions and his following explanations became pretty hurtful. One particular question asked whether or not we had become less sexually attracted to one another in the past months or years. David answered yes and mentioned that the weight I've gained since we've been dating (I was the thinnest I've ever been when we've met and I've been up and down in weight since) has made him worry about me and that it makes him slightly less attracted to me. This was really really hard to hear. After discussing it more (and quite a few tears), he confided that it's not really that he is less attracted to me, but that he knows I want to eat better and such and gets worried and turned off by me when he sees me eating things I shouldn't anyway. He explained that he has a hard time being a good example to me since his limits with food and such are completely different than my own. I have decided to begin to make more of an effort on my own with my habits, and he has agreed to try to make changes in his own lifestyle so I am not in the position to waver or be tempted. I know he thinks I'm beautiful, but it was hard to think of him ever thinking any less than that. I am, however, grateful for the further motivation and opportunity to explain how I can have more support in the area.

Many people would say that a simple lie said to help someone is generally a good thing. If I was dating someone else and asked him what he thought about a haircut that he hated, he would probably tell me it was nice to spare my feelings. That same person may not have told me the truth about his feelings in the homework. While I was hurt by the conversation we had, we also came to some good resolutions and plans to try to improve the situation. With the momentary pain came a closeness and opportunity for growth in our relationship and a positive change in our lives.

Many women want to hear all the right words instead of the truth. They want to hear "No, honey, that dress does not make you look fat." and "Why, of course, I would absolutely love to do x and y for/with you." I, on the other hand, want to brutal, raw, honest truth. I love that David and I live with complete openness with one another, and while the truth can sometimes hurt, living in complete truth is a beautiful thing.


Table Pretties.

I am in the process of purchasing these lovely chargers from Weddingbee reader AJAXON.

I'm excited to have more gold in the mix and think these will really help the aesthetics of the tables. They might also help inspire me to make some more progress on our centerpieces.

I went back and forth on whether or not chargers were a justifiable expense, but since we're having a buffet dinner, I think it will be nice to have some kind of plate on the table already to help define the settings. I'm planning on doing some kind of menu or program to tuck in to the napkins and out on top of the chargers. Do you think chargers are necessary? Do they add an important element to the tablescape?

Sorry this post is short, but I'm moving out of the house I've been housesitting tonight, and I need to pack all my stuff and clean a bit. Plus, David and I have some homework to do for our "newly and nearly" [married] couples' small group that we've been attending (which I plan on blogging about soon!) I hope ya'll had a great start of the week!


The soundtrack: part three - dancin' songs.

It's been a long week - how's about I share with ya'll some songs that I know we'll be including to get the dance party started at our wedding? Like I've mentioned on my previous music posts, David and I are not the biggest fans of most of today's popular music. A dance party today often involves some pretty risque moves that most of our friends and we would just look rediculous trying to imitate. We would not only enojy the music that a normal DJ might play for dancing at a wedding, we would also feel pretty awkward trying to dance to it. My style leans much more towards the fun - jump around - act like a lunatic type dancing.

So, without further ado - the music I want to dance like a crazy person to (assuming David doesn't veto some of them first for not being quite within our "mature" music tastes):

Happy Boys and Girls - Aqua

I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness

Supermassive Black Hole - Muse

So Much Love - The Rocket Summer

Mint Car - The Cure

and David's choices:
(oh wait... did I say we have mature musical tastes?)

Tutti Frutti Summer Love - Gunther

Kompressor Does Not Dance - Kompressor

and finally...
Iluvya - Thom Yorke
(which is special to David and me and he insists it's danceable)


Center of attention: part four.

Part one.
Part two.
Part three.

In a moment of DIY doubt, I found an ad on the weddingbee classifieds for these:

If the wonderful creator of these beautiful centerpieces would please ID herself,
I would love to credit you. I'm so sorry I lost the e-mails we sent.

Something about the simplicity and rustic feel to these centerpieces struck me. I loved the silk daisies, I loved that it included both a rustic brown and cream as well as our burgundy and sage. I loved how they looked handmade without looking cheap or messy. They were understated. They really seemed to fit our look at the lodge.

The bride who had made these for her own wedding was hoping to sell them to be used in a future wedding. I was so tempted to snatch these up and call my centerpiece dilemmas over and done with - I even e-mailed the seller. She told me that she wanted a total of $100 for all twelve centerpieces, fully assembled. Apparently many brides wanted just the vases or just the flowers for DIY projects of their own, but she preferred to sell them intact. I eventually decided that dealing with shipping them to me and worrying about the glass breaking and flowers bending was not worth it, and I declined her offer. I do hope she found a happy buyer so these beauties get to be used again!

I considered duplicating these centerpieces almost exactly, but felt guilty for not having just bought them. I would have been stealing another 'bee's work and it probably would have ended up more expensive anyway. I did know, though, that I wanted to somehow include these centerpieces into my growing pile of inspiration.

I don't exactly know what my centerpieces will look like, but here's a pretty good illustration of where I stand:

I've been collecting bottles to turn into vases:

and after a big sale at Michaels, I ended up will all of this:

Now, the question is: will I ever be able to pull it off?


center of attention: part three.

Part one.
Part two.

Surrounding myself with wedding blogs can often lead to inspiration overload. After I thought I was settled on the idea of using baby's breath for my centerpieces, I saw this:

Source: Mrs. Avocado again!


sorry I saved this image in my pre-sourcing days. If you know where it's from, I'd love to cite it.

and this:

see apology above.

I loved the use of sticks, raffia, feathers, etc. to make these lovelies. I especially loved loved loved Mrs. Avocado's centerpieces, and would use those very ones if I could. Centerpieces like these were a crafter and Michaels lover's dream.

Making centerpieces like these meant that I could get everything done far in advance and not have to worry about assembling florals on my wedding day. Though baby's breath is not as delicate as most flowers, it still would have meant buying fresh flowers, keeping them alive, and arranging them all at the last minute.

I was sold. I just needed to find a way to make these myself. Finally, my decision was made - or so I thought...


center of attention: part two.

Remember my original musings on centerpieces way back when? Well, I'm finally ready to start working my way through my massive amount of inspiration to share with ya'll - hopefully by the end of this, you'll be inspired as well and I'll have something more tangible to work with for my vision for our centerpieces.

One of the first big "OH MAN I NEED THAT!" moments with flowers/centerpieces for me was the growing use of baby's breath in weddings. In fact, the fact that a big part of my vision for our wedding's theme involves lace stems (hahaha. get it? stem? flower? okay, yeah...) from my desire to include baby's breath. Who knew such a cheap "filler" flower could be so elegant and lacy by itself?


It's simple and inexpensive while also being beautiful and looks put-together, well thought out, and all of those things you'd expect to pay more money for. Also, even though baby's breath has become pretty popular a choice in the online wedding world, I'm pretty sure it would still be a very unique and unexpected flower choice to most of my guests - once more making my wedding something out of the ordinary. I should have stopped here. My flower decision would have been set and everything would have been perfect. But no - I can't do something like that! More inspiration struck, taking me on a new path. Will I ever have this all figured out?

How many times did you change your mind about your centerpieces?


Mengagement rings.

Before we were engaged, during one of our many conversations about marriage and our future engagement, David told me that he wants an engagement ring too. You're probably thinking, wait, an engagement ring for a man? How would that even work? At least, that's what I was thinking.

David made his reasons very clear and convincing - he was making the same commitment as I was, so why wouldn't he make the public statement to others as well? A ring seems to be a clear sign that someone is "off the market", so why would a woman clearly be so at the moment of engagement while men sail free until the wedding day? He wanted a token of our commitment and a clear sign to others of his love for me - how could I refuse? However, I was immediately plagued with many questions:

[1] Would wearing a ring make people assume that David was already married?
[2] Would the above possibility take away from the moment we get our wedding rings and "make it official"?
[3] Should he wear the engagement ring on his right hand, so as not to bring about confusion?
[4] Would a ring on his right hand even be noticed as a statement of our commitment?
[5] Will he wear two rings after we are married like a woman does?
[6] How can the engagement ring be distinguished from the wedding band? (ie: a woman's diamond solitaire vs. a plain band)

To try and find answers to these questions, I reached out to the lovely posters on the weddingbee boards, found sites like this one and this one which embraced men's engagement rings as a growing trend and provided some ideas.

I quickly answered many of my questions - David should wear his ring on his left hand so it's significant and yes, people may assume he's married but that's okay since the point is to show his commitment to me. I originally envisioned a more elaborate engraved ring as his engagament ring and pairing it with a simple band as a wedding ring. After scouring many many jewelry stores, I found that the type of ring I had in mind was pretty much non-existent. All of the intricate hand-carved designs I loved were [1] way too pricy for my budget and [2] generally way too thick a band to pair with another ring like I'd imagined.

My solution? Why, etsy, of course!

After actually asking David his opinion (all of the previous shopping and questioning was in private so as to keep the fact that I'd taken his request for a ring to heart a surprise), I discovered that he wanted a much more simple band anyway. I decided to go simple and get an engraving inside and worry about the wedding band issue later.


I bought the ring above from etsy seller Andros Creations and couldn't be happier with my purchase. The ring was very affordable, is handmade and lovely, matches my engagement ring perfectly, and came with a free engraving of my choice.

personal photo. David's actual "mengagament ring" with my own ring. Sorry it's a bit blurred.

The engraving says "Sempre" which means "always" or "forever" in Italian. What's even greater is that it actually implies an ongoing type of thing that gets even greater as time passes - something that I hope will be true of our love. (Awww. haha)

During the first summer of our relationship, I spent five weeks in Italy for a study abroad program. Spending that amount of time so far away from one another really caused David and I to work through many elements of our relationship and showed us how much we don't ever want to be apart. While I was away, I went to a music festival in Florence and somehow ended up with a free bracelet that said "sempre dalla tua parte" which means "always by your side." Even after I got back in the states, our relationship was still long distance since I was in Berkeley and he was down here in San Diego, so I gave the bracelet to David. He took it with him literally everywhere he went whenever I was away so that I could always be with him (again, awww.) I wanted to use that phrase for his ring's engraving, and then figured that "sempre" alone conjured the ideas behind the bracelet while also speaking further about our love and life together.

I gave him the ring on our two year anniversary (which I'll save for another post), and he loves it!

We still don't know what we're going to do about a wedding band. The ring is pretty thin, so he could technically wear another band with it, but since this one's so simple should the wedding band be fancier? We're considering just using our engagement rings anyway (which, again, I'll post about later), but I'm not set either way.

What do you think about engagement rings for men? Does your fiance have or want a ring for himself?


The soundtrack: part two.

After deciding on our iPod/iTunes wedding, it was time to start compiling our meaningful songs!

The first song that I absolutely knew had to be played at our wedding was actually the Father/Daughter dance song -
Tiny Dancer by Elton John.

When I was a little girl, my daddy used to hold me in his arms, stretch out one of my arms in his own, and dance while singing this song to me. Some of my earliest memories include kindergarten Laura, teeth freshly brushed and wearing pajama footies, being serenaded to and dancing with my dad to Tiny Dancer just before bedtime. In fact, the early times being told to "count the headlights on the highway" may be one reason I feel such a connection to songs now while driving at night. My dad has been through a lot these past few years, and my relationship with him is constantly hitting bumps along the way, but I come close to tears every time I hear this song, thinking about the moment my daddy and I will be able to dance to it one more time.

The next song I was absolutely sure about playing for our wedding was -
By My Side by Tyrone Wells.
I couldn't find the song on youtube, but you can listen to it here.

Tyrone Wells is an Orange County musician who's father actually used to be the pastor of my home church. I learned about his music when he and his old band, Skypark, used to come and play. I have owned his first solo album that contains this song for years, but never really heard the song until David and I started talking about marriage. Then, the lyrics really spoke to me -

My heart's shattered on the floor, and I don't want it anymore.
But, you can take it because you can make it beautiful.

Will you stand beside me the rest of my life?
May I hold you every night?
I want to know when I turn out the light - you'll be near me, by my side.

This heart belongs to you.
This heart would never know what to do in a world without you.

Some of the images of a broken heart and life are pretty raw and make this song not the typical "wedding happy" type song, but I love the meaning behind it all. This song really opened my eyes to the reality of marriage - a true partnership where each part is living for the other. The chorus really made the "every night" part real to me to - I would be with David forever, and I was so excited about that. I don't know when this song will play - perhaps towards the end of the ceremony somewhere, but I know I want people to be able to hear it.

The next music choice that communicates David and I perfectly is the piano renditions of Radiohead songs by
Christopher O'Riley
Here he is playing Karma Police. (If you can find a recording of him playing Airbag, give it a listen. It's amazing!)

David and I both share a great love for Radiohead. We both call the band our favorite and finally had the chance to see them live together last year. In fact, Radiohead played a part in bringing us together. David's sister Sarah is one of my very best friends from high school (and now my maid of honor!) and one day out of boredom, David decided to peruse her Myspace friends. When he saw that one of his little sisters friends (yours truly) was a fan of Radiohead, he added me. I remember getting his friend request and saying to my mom, "Sarah's waaay older brother just added me on myspace. Weird." Some time after that we started chatting online and the rest is history.

Anyway, yes, we love Radiohead, but their songs aren't quite the best wedding music. Many of the lyrics are pretty negative about love and while they're some of our favorite songs, they're not really the kind of thing we want playing at our wedding. The solution was pretty easy - play Radiohead songs without the lyrics! David introduced me to Christopher O'Riley and we have both of his albums where he plays Radiohead songs. The beautiful piano renditions are very clearly Radiohead songs to fans, but to people who may not know any better, they sound like phenomenal classical music pieces. We plan on playing these songs during dinner, and we couldn't be more excited about it.

Did you have any songs planned to play at your wedding before there was even a wedding? Why are they meaningful to you? Do you think my choices so far will fit our wedding and the times they're being played?

Stay tuned for more song picks and some I'm not quite sure about!


The soundtrack: part one.

I'm one of those people who has gone through life imagining that it had it's very own soundtrack. I love love love music, and there have been very specific songs that have been incredibly important to me and the way I viewed my life at various time periods and chapters of life. I remember times where I would sit in the car (as a passenger), and stare out the window at night. My reflection would stare back at me and I would ponder the moment and the significance of the song playing. I find lyrics to songs very important and consider it a very admirable art. I especially love it when I feel like the lyrics were written just for me and how I am feeling right now. Many of these important songs came during my more angst-filled teenage years and are no longer important to me, but I love the idea of keeping track of songs that play out the story of my life.

David is a musician and has very particular tastes in music as well. We want our wedding music to be the soundtrack of our lives together. We want every song (or at least all the ones played during important moments) to be handpicked by us because it means something very real to us. It would not feel like us at all if our wedding included many of the popular songs of today that are definitely not our taste. Also, many of our important songs are less well-known and less likely to be a song that a DJ might carry.

This is why we have decided to host an iPod wedding. We figure if we're going to be so specific and tell someone what to play all night anyway, we might as well make the playlist ourselves and ask a friend to hit play.

David's band has a pretty good sound system that we plan on bringing to set up, and among my family, we have three apple laptops and at least five ipods. I plan on uploading our playlists to both my ipod and my macbook (and maybe my sisters' macbooks and ipods as well) and bringing them all to the wedding - what? You can never be too prepared. We have a few ideas being kicked around for using one of the macbook's photobooth program as a photobooth for the wedding, but if our photographer can set up a photobooth like he's mentioned then even better! We also have a few people in mind to ask to be emcee for the night and to be in charge of watching over the ipod and hitting play when necessary.

The best part about our ipod wedding, I think, was actually one of David's ideas. We were discussing how many guests like to make requests to the DJ during a wedding, and how some of the requested songs are often the ones that keep the dancing strong. Having a set playlist does not really allow requests, but we decided to include guest requests anyway.


The itunes store has almost every song imaginable available for download - with it, we can take more requests than a DJ with a bundle of CDs ever could!

If we had internet access at our venue, the original plan was to play all our music off of my macbook through itunes. If anyone wanted to make a request, we could actually download the song right then and there and have it ready to play. Voila! Instant access to any song our guests desire. We had planned on setting a limit to our itunes account for a set amount of downloaded songs, and calling it our DJ budget. My fiance is a genius. If you're having an ipod/itunes wedding and have internet access, please use this idea!

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll have internet access at the lodge, so I'm moving to plan B. Instead of taking requests at the wedding, I hope to gather a list of requested songs in advance either via our invitations/rsvps or our wedding website. I'm thinking about including a question on one of these options saying "What's your favorite love song? favorite dance song?" (Anyone have suggestions on a better way of wording that?) Then, if I get any commonly repeated songs or ones that really stand out, I will be sure to download them in advance and include them in our playlists. Guest requests - done.

Is the soundtrack to your wedding important to you? How are you combining your personally important songs and ones that might get your guests excited?

To come - some of our song picks and why they're important to us.


My dreams have been sweeter.

I've heard of (and had my share of) the common wedding nightmares. You know, the dreams that happen to brides (and the occasional groom, mother of the bride, bridesmaid, etc) where everything in the wedding goes wrong. I've dreamt that my dress was all wrong, the wedding happened tomorrow and we only had what I've planned so far, some friends surprised us with a video presentation of David and I fighting that they showed during the ceremony, we lost all of our guests and David and I had to run around town searching for the reception, etc. I attributed all of these dreams to our current state of planning and figured they would calm down once we had more details planned out and ready to go.

But lately, all my dreams have been about my engagement ring. I've dreamt on more than one night that my ring has broken or the diamonds have come loose, and it has made me pretty paranoid about the state of my poor ring.


A few nights ago, I had a dream that I was asleep in the car on a road trip, and when I woke up, the stones were all missing from my ring. I found on my pillow a large diamond with a big hole in it, and then in many crumbly pieces beside it was my garnet. (In the dream, my ring must have been a garnet set inside the hole of the diamond instead of having a halo setting of diamonds around it.) I remember holding the garnet pieces and trying to find a way to get a new stone while at the same time mourning the fact that I would never have the garnet my love gave me again.

As a side note, while I was mourning my ring in this road trip dream, we drove by a ModCloth store, and I remember getting really excited because I could finally try things on before ordering them! I guess the dream wasn't all bad...

Then, last night, I dreamt that all of the individual diamonds in my halo setting (the ring was right in this one) started coming loose. After one fell out, I decided it was safer to just pull them all out one by one. I started taking out the diamonds and put them in a ziplock baggy. After I got all but two of them out completely, I was ready to go find someone to fix it - which, somehow had something to do with a trip to the dentist. When, I woke up this morning, I expected my ring to be missing some diamonds.

This dream particularly rattled me because one of the tiny diamonds in my ring looks to be set crooked to me. It's so small, and many people I ask don't even seem to notice, but it makes me nervous. I have already been in to the jeweler to get them to shave the prongs down on the center stone and to make sure it's set correctly, so I think going in to ask about this one tiny diamond might be overkill - although it would be nice to have them polish it for me like they tend to do when I bring it in - they make it so so shiny! What should I do?

What wedding related dreams or nightmares have you had? Do you have any repeated ones that have made you actually change or question anything in real life?


something blue.

How do you ladies do it? Balancing work, wedding planning, a relationship, and life in general is HARD. How do you fit in blogging time? I'm sorry I've been away, but I'm working on it.

In the mean time - on my break at work, I was flipping through the most recent issue of Brides, Southern California and I saw this dress:

source. - for a better view, go here.

It's Oscar de la Renta Spring 2010, and I love it! If you can't tell from the picture, the lace is over a blue dress. The white lace overlay makes it perfectly bridal while the blue is so unexpected and lovely. I have a few friends who have always said they don't want a typical white wedding dress, and one of my bridesmaids actually wants a blue gown for her wedding. I think this beauty is a perfect way to have a colored dress that is still unmistakably bridal. Plus, it's a new gown that has an old fashioned look to it and it's blue! Get a friend to buy it and borrow it from her, and you're all set! It's probably nowhere near affordable, but maybe this will be a step in the direction of tasteful and beautiful color in wedding gowns.


To the Nines.

As you probably know, Wednesday's date was 9/9/09. The triple nines marked a pretty significant date, but a 99cent store in Los Angeles took the nines to a whole new level.


KTLA reported that 9 couples won a promotion to marry in the 99cent store by aisle #9 on 9/9/09 for a cost of $0.99 along with 9 friends or family members. Oh, and they were sent away with a prize of $99.99. Seriously... can there be any more nines?

The story gets even greater, though. Apparently among the nine couples was a couple who met while homeless drug addicts three years ago. They encouraged each other to get clean, got married, and hope to be drug counselors someday. So, out of a wacky store promotion came a pretty awesome story.

You can watch the story below or here.


The whole ordeal made for a pretty awesome redemption story for the one couple, but what about the other eight? True, paying only 99 cents for your wedding seems like a pretty awesome deal, but I'm not so sure I want my wedding day memories to be full of cashiers, cheap merchandise, and florescent lights. Would you ever apply for a promotion like this one? Do the savings and prizes make up for the less than ideal venue choice? What do you think about wedding giveaways like this one in general?


Three cheers to life!

I may be MIA for a few days. I am housesitting, dogsitting, and launching a new (temp) job all at once - it's quite a bit more to deal with than the past few months laying around the house. I hope you're all well, and promise to make it up to you with some exciting new entries soon. :)


Put a ring on it.

David asked me what kind of ring I might eventually want as an engagement ring a mere two weeks into our relationship. (Yes folks, we meant business) That early into the stage and without significant time to doubt myself, I told him exactly what I wanted - White gold, solitaire, and not a diamond. I had seen many a Weddingbee post about the conflicts of gaining diamonds, and how important it is to find a conflict-free diamond. These issues became very important to me, but honestly, it was easy to give up the ideal of a diamond engagement ring simply because it didn't seem "me". I tend to go for things that are more unique and dislike things that are overdone. A diamond engagement ring seemed the obvious, common choice to me, so I wanted something different.

At first, I wanted an opal ring. Opal is my birthstone, and I love love love their colors and unique look.

this ring just about covers what I was thinking in my early stages of ring dreams.

this ring is perfect - the darker opal is more rare and lovely - I just would have preferred white gold.

In the early stages of our relationship, David and I even found a fantastic opal ring that was on sale for an even more fantastic deal because the jeweler was retiring. David came so very close to buying it, but we decided it was too early and forced ourselves to move on. It was good that we didn't buy the ring, though, because unfortunately, my opal dreams soon faded. It turns out, Opals are very soft stones and are not meant for everyday wear. I was worried that having an opal ring would cause too much stress and that I would surely scratch the stone.

I was still set on my high and mighty no-diamond stance until one of my roommates got engaged. That was when I wavered. My roommate was given an absolutely stunning diamond solitaire in a cathedral setting. The diamond stood high and glorious and was oh so shiny. I kept telling myself that it was beautiful but just not for me, but she got so much attention because of that dang ring. Everyone knew she was engaged. There was one particular time when we were searching for housing and at an open house, the landlady grabbed her hand and launched into a conversation about weddings and her engagement and all. This was when I started to think I might want a diamond ring. After all, the whole point of an engagement ring was to announce to the world that you were engaged, right? How would I announce something so important without the typical symbol of such a thing? This was, after all, probably going to be my only chance to have such an important diamond all to myself, so I might as well get one, right? And finally, diamonds were the hardest stone there is and they match everything -of course it was what I wanted to don on my finger for the rest of my life.

During this wavering time, I started to think about what my ring would look like if it were a diamond. I knew I still didn't want something too "typical", I didn't want anything too flashy, and I didn't want the setting to be too high that it got in the way. I made this collage to give to David if he wanted to start shopping:

personal photo - sorry this was early in the game and I didn't know how to mark the individual sources.

I was convinced for quite some time that the top right ring was the perfect ring for me.

Of course, more time passed which gave me more time to doubt myself once again. After my slight wavering and despite my many good reasons for a diamond, I realized once again that a diamond really wasn't for me. Since I also knew that an opal wasn't for me, I started researching other options. I discovered sapphires and found a really great sapphire ring that I told David about. At that point, I was ready to just let him pick something. And boy, am I glad I did. On December 22, 2008, David proposed to me. In his hand was this ring:

personal photo - I know this is an awful picture. I'll post some better ring pictures following Anne Ruthmann's Tutorial later.

This. ring. is. nothing. like. what. I. had. been. looking. at. and I absolutely love it.

My ring is set in yellow gold and is a halo setting - both things I thought I did not want, but both things that I truly adore about my ring now. The antique look of my ring has been a major inspiration for our wedding theme, and I feel that everything about it is very "me" - especially since yellow gold rings aren't as common these days.

My favorite thing about my ring is that it is a Garnet. The significance - which I explained in my engagement post - makes it so much more special to me than any other stone could be. I love my engagement ring, and I love that - in spite of my immense research, changes of mind, and picks for myself - my ring is something that David picked out all by himself especially for me.

I love engagement rings of all kinds, but certainly have a special place for non-diamond (or ones that don't have a diamond as the main stone) rings. Care to share yours? What significance does your ring or the journey to find your perfect ring have for your and your significant other?


Cold sore go away...

... and please don't come back on my wedding day.

Today, I'm posting late because I'm feeling sickish. After a brief trip to Chick-fil-A for some tasty chicken noodle soup (I'm spoiled - Campbell's just won't do the trick when I'm sick, heh), I've spend the majority of the day sleeping on the couch. When my Immune system is under pressure, I often get cold sores on various parts of my mouth and chin. Often extremely painful and embarrassing, I have gotten these little devils at least once a year since early elementary school. When I was little, I would get the same one in the middle of my chin every year around Christmas time, when it was just starting to get cold outside. In college, the areas where the sores would come spread to various spots around my mouth, just under my nose, and the same chin spot. It is now common for me to get two cold sores at once.

The sores are caused by any type of extreme stress my body is put through - this includes actual stress, weather changes, and more. Currently I have two sores, and I blame it on the fact that San Diego has been significantly more hot and humid than normal the past two weeks or so. Living in San Diego means I'm spoiled - "extreme" weather changes are much less for my body now when the weather normally rarely changes.

The point? I am deathly afraid that I will have a cold sore on my wedding day. I'm pretty much guaranteed to be at least a little bit stressed as our day draws close, and I don't want that stress to show through in an extremely unattractive and painful bump (or two) on my face.


This chart shows that cold sores can last up to 14 days. That means if I get one any time within two weeks of my wedding, it could still be there when the day arrives. Oh, and for the sake of you readers, I posted these pictures instead of some more gruesome ones. I'll just have you know that the cold sore(s) above are tame - they can look a lot more gross than that. (EWW! OWW!)

Another unfortunate side-effect of my cold sores is often a swollen lymph node on my neck. This is also painful and significantly increases the chances of looking like I have a double chin in photos.

So, what am I going to do about it?
Well, for one, I am going to do the best I can to not get stressed out about our big day. I will enlist the help of friends and fsmily to get our projects done in plenty of time, and I will enjoy the days leading up to the wedding.

Secondly, I am looking into a good medication. It seems that most over-the-counter cold sore medications claim to do the same things as the prescription ones, and often come with less side effects. I don't know if they are as effective, though, so I am thinking about getting a prescription. Do any of you have experience with OTC vs. prescription cold sore medications? Any advice?

Finally, I am going to look into a good make-up artist. Make-up was not something I originally budgeted for, thinking I could have a friend do it. I do not wear much make-up on a daily basis, and haven't really mastered good cover-up skills without looking like I'm wearing stage make-up (which I do have experience with from high school drama). I hope to not spend too much, but I really feel like having a professional would be worth it. One major concern, though, is that since we will already be out in Julian the day of the wedding, I will need to find someone who can come to our venue. I guess this begins my search to find make-up artists in the tiny town of Julian and the surrounding ares. Wish me luck!

Do you have any health concerns that you're trying to avoid for your wedding day? How are you doing so? Do you have any advice for the cold sore sufferers like me?


Wedding pranks gone bad.

Happy Labor day! I hope you're all enjoying a nice day off with your friends and families. If you're working today, thanks, you're appreciated.


Yesterday, an article on msn.com titled "They Set the Bridal Suite on Fire!: Real Brides' Worst Wedding Guest Stories." caught my eye. The article listed many pranks and blunders done by wedding guests. Some were funny, but most were downright awful. Here are some of the worst ones:

"My fiance's family loves to pull pranks. At his aunt's wedding, all of the guys rigged the getaway car so that every time the groom hit the brakes, the horn would beep. Unfortunately, they damaged the brake line. As the bride and groom were driving away from the reception, they couldn't brake and crashed the car."

"When I got married, one of my husband's friends grabbed a disposable camera off of a table and took explicit photos of him and his girlfriend in the bathroom during the reception. My mom was shocked when she got all of the pictures printed for us as a gift."

"Our 11- and 12-year-old junior bridesmaids made off with an expensive bottle of champagne, hid in the bathroom, and got trashed."

"One of the bridesmaids took off with a groomsman and proceeded to get frisky in the bridal suite. In the midst of their fun, they accidentally knocked over a candle and ended up setting the curtains on fire."

Click over to the article to read more.

I trust my guests not to do something like this, but I suppose anything's possible. Have any of you experienced anything this crazy happen at a wedding? How would you handle the guests or the situation if something like this took place at your own wedding?


San Diego Venues: Part Three - Balboa Park (The Parks)

Part One: The Prado
Part Two: Private Museums and Gradens

The third, and least expensive way to host a wedding at Balboa Park is by assembling in one of the parks many public spaces. To do this, you would need to hold a permit from the San Diego Parks and Recreation office.

click image for source and larger image.

The map (above) lists the following public locations that allow weddings with permits:

[1] Administration Courtyard Lawn
[2] Alcazar Garden
[3] Balboa Park Club
[4] Casa del Prado
[5] Casa del Prado patio A
[6] Casa del Prado patio B
[7] Golden Hill Community Park
[8] Marston House and Garden
[9] Marston Point
[10] Palisades Building Recital Hall
[11] Park Blvd. and Presidents Way Lawn
[12] Pepper Grove
[13] Pine Grove
[14] Redwood Circle
[15] Rose Garden
[16] Spreckels Organ Pavilion
[17] War Memorial Building
[18] Zoro Garden

As the map shows, these locations span areas all over the park and represent very different ares and looks to wed.

It includes indoor locations like the Casa Del Prado and the Balboa Park Club.

There are also many outdoor locations - varying from gardens like the Rose Garden and the Alcazar Garden to outdoor locations featuring the park's grand architecture like the Sprekels Organ Pavilion and the Casa Del Prado Patios.

When I was looking into a Balboa Park wedding in a public space, I was particularly attracted to hosting a picnic or garden themed wedding at the Redwood Circle (below).


Assembling in these public spaces comes with its own set of rules. Each location has specific hours (most locations kick you out at dusk while some stay available until 10 pm) and capacity limits (anywhere from 50 to 2,400 people depending on the location). They also have specific restrictions on what can be brought in (no glass) and explanations on how to dispose of all the trash yourselves. There are also varying fees, and you can contact the permit office for more info.

This beautiful wedding took place at the Sprekels Organ Pavilion. The bride had the following advice to give:

"We couldn't have had a better wedding day, and location was everything. Everyone commented on how beautiul the Park was... Just be sure to triple check ALL contracts with SD Park & Rec, ESP when using the Spreckels Organ. We learned 3 days before that there was a conflict with our start time and a Prado wedding...and it was not pretty. I'd recommend contacting the Prado separately before confirming your time with SD Park & Rec, bc their calendars are not as in sync as they claim." quote source.

Ultimately, the public space option had too many loops to jump through and too many restrictions for my liking. While it was certainly a much cheaper option than other Balboa Park wedding routes, there were a lot more logistics to work thorough.

For one, most of the locations available did not have chairs, tables, etc. there already. Renting these things is not a problem, but it adds an extra vendor and more complications.

Secondly, in order to make our outdoor "picnic" wedding more elegant, I was hoping to have it at night - with twinkle lights and candles setting the mood. Since the latest these permits could possibly last was 10 pm, and we would have been expected to finish clean-up and everything by this time, I decided it was not ideal.

Lastly (and most importantly), these spaces are public. Getting a permit from parks and rec. would simply make assembling with a large group legal - it would not make the location private to our wedding. While I had plans in my mind of how to have friends act as "bouncers" of sorts to try to keep the public from getting too close, I decided that renting out a private venue certainly had its perks.

There are so many beautiful locations where groups big and small can assemble for a small fee in Balboa Park. I'm sure if I had decided to go this route, we would have worked out the logistics and come up with a fabulous event. I highly suggest contacting the Parks and Rec office if you're even considering this route - especially if you're planning a small but beautiful "no nonsense" wedding.


San Diego Venues: Part Two- Balboa Park (Museums)

Part One: The Prado

Like The Prado, the individually managed Museums and Gardens in Balboa Park come with their own set of packages, rules, rental fees, and wedding options.

This site gives a great guide of the various "cultural institutions" in which you can have a wedding or special event. Most of the museums have strict rules about when you can have an event there since they still want to be open during regular business hours. From my research, I found that the museums generally won't let you in to set up or anything until after it is closed to the public (normally after 5pm). To be honest, I did not do too much research on the Museum wedding option because it didn't really fit the mood of our wedding, but here are some great sites with information on having a wedding in the following museums:

The Museum of Photograhic Arts


The Japanese Friendship Garden

source and source.

The San Diego Museum of Man
and the St. Francis Chapel


The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center


This site lists all of thee locations (and more!) available for events, their total capacity, and links to their individual websites.

As you can see, planning a wedding at Balboa Park is pretty complicated with so many separate options. (no wonder you can see at least eight brides there on any given Saturday!) Stay tuned for information on weddings in the park's public spaces.


San Diego Venues: Part One - Balboa Park (The Prado)

I considered many venues and locations in San Diego before deciding upon The Pine Hills Lodge in Julian. I would like to share my research and decision process in a "San Diego Venues" in hopes of helping some brides-to-be in deciding on where to have their own San Diego wedding.

First Venue: Balboa Park

Balboa Park is one of my most favorite places on earth. It is also one of David's most favorite places on earth. We also happened to go there during the day that I consider our first date. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful and common places to be married in San Diego. Plus, it's super close to home, has plenty of parking, and is a great representation of our hometown. With all of that being said, you'd think that Balboa Park would be the perfect place for us to be married, right?


Well, I considered it, but eventually decided that Balboa Park weddings were actually too common, and while the place is very "us", having a wedding that is not unique is not. In fact, I was wandering Balboa Park with a friend this past Saturday, and within less than an hour we saw eight brides, two engagement shoots, and a quinceanera. In case you weren't counting, that's ten wedding related couples taking photos, and nine different girls in big, white dresses. They all seemed to find their own space for pictures and didn't seem to be in each other's way, but I really want to be the only bride around on my wedding day. If having many brides around wasn't a problem, I would still worry about confusing my guests. Granted, of the eight brides we saw, some of them were just in the park for pictures and were probably having their actual wedding elsewhere, but there were at least three different weddings and/or receptions actually happening in the park that day. I would fear that guests would get lost, or worse, end up at the wrong wedding. In fact, an elderly couple dressed in formal wear approached my friend and I asking for directions to one of the weddings.

Although it wasn't right for me, many many couples have the wedding of their dreams in Balboa Park every year. In case you're looking to be one of those brides, heres everything you need to know to get married at Balboa Park.

First, there are more than one different routes to go through:
[2] Individual Museums or Gardens

These three options offer very different weddings at very different price points, so I will talk about each in separate posts. First, let's discuss the most popular and inclusive option -

The Prado

The fountain courtyard is where you can find the entrance to the restaurant. It is also where the Cocktail Hour is hosted at Prado weddings.

The Prado is Balboa Park's fine-dining restaurant located in the House of Hospitality. All Prado weddings are done through the restaurant and offer catering packages with food from there as well. (YUM!)

The Prado Wedding Brochure, available for download on The Prado's website goes over everything each wedding package includes and the various locations available. Here's the information in a nutshell:

Each Prado wedding includes:

• White Outdoor Chairs
• Gift and Guest Book Tables
• Bridal Changing Room
• Scheduled Rehearsal Time
• Outdoor Sound System for Officiant


This ceremony site, The Casa del Rey Moro Gardens, is available for use only to Prado wedding patrons and is not included in the regular Balboa Park public properties that are available by permit.

The fountain and wishing well make The Prado's ceremony spot beautiful and unique. It can accommodate up to 320 guests on it's multi-level terrace. The only downfalls are that the location does not have a central aisle (there's a fountain in the middle) and guests seated on the top level seem pretty far from the action, in my opinion.

• One Hour of Silver Level Brand Bar
• Tray Passed Hors d’oeuvres with White Glove Service
• Luncheon or Dinner Menu designed by Award Winning Executive Chef Jeff Thurston
• Formal Champagne Toast
• Professional Staff-Synchronized Service
• Wedding Cake Provided by Flour Power
• Full Length Table Linens, Gold Chiavarri Chairs and Porcelain China


There are three main options for indoor reception rooms - The Grand Ballroom (pictured above), the Loggia room, and the Alhambra room. The Grand Ballroom seats 320 guests while the Loggia and Alhambra seat 80 and 60 respectively.

I've seen many weddings going on at The Prado during my regular visits to Balboa Park, and they always seem so very elegant. The Chiavarri chairs alone are to die for. Plus, the location and all-inclusive service can't be beat. I don't remember the exact package prices, but I know it was way out of our budget. If anyone is interested, I can try to hunt down the price list e-mail I got when inquiring way back when.

The Prado is the ideal option for a Balboa Park bride who wants an elegant wedding with inclusive packages and ready-made locations and options. It is the easiest, most elegant, and most expensive option for getting married in Balboa Park.

For more information on weddings and special events at The Prado, go here.

Stay tuned for information on weddings at the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Museums, and the park's public spaces.


Chalk it up!

One detail that I want desperately to feature in our big day but am not sure if it will work out is chalkboards! These babies aren't just for the classroom anymore - check out how many ways they can be used in weddings:



this one is from weddingbee user ktlee's wedding - which had so many amazing details!


Table numbers:


You can purchase some of these super cute table number chalkboards for $2.50 each here.

Seating chart:


Photo art:




And if you want even more ideas, this site provides ideas and instructions for including chalkboard details in your own wedding.

To be honest, these are all such great ideas that I don't even know where to begin including chalkboards into my own wedding. I love the menu idea, and I think having one big menu board would make more sense for our buffet style dinner than menu cards on the tables, but I love all the other ideas, too! If you included a chalkboard (or if you already are!), what are you using it/them for?