Saturday, December 10, 2011

First Hair Trial

We're almost 100 days from the wedding! It's getting down to crunch time. Tonight we're headed to a holiday party so I thought I might as well try a hairstyle I could try. I've been researching a lot of images on Pinterest.com. It's a fun place to kill an hour or two looking at pretty pictures. The nice thing is if you click on an image it sends you to the original url so I actually got a how-to for this one. Here's the original picture:

It actually was fairly easy. I think it would stand out more if my hair was lighter which I'm hoping to make it for our wedding (highlights - not a full dye job). It's also really hard to take a picture of the back of your head.
It'll do for tonight. Looking back at the photo it looks like they dropped the top strand while I dropped the bottom strand each time. Hopefully it'll hold up all night!

UPDATE: While I did get a compliment on the hair, it didn't last very long once we started dancing. I will definitely keep this style in mind for nights out but not a keeper for the wedding.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Decor Decisions

The beauty of Jamaica will be our main 'decor' for our day. The ceremony will be outside on the rocks and the restaurant is open air with plenty of natural beauty surrounding it as well so any decor we do will be minimal.
I want our ceremony to be 'in the round' as pros like to call it. Basically, I want everyone surrounding us in a circle during the ceremony.


Thus there will be no aisle to decorate and any decor that we do to mark the ceremony space can't hinder anyone's view. So if I get my way and get to have that ceremony set-up there will be no decor needed. Scattering something like the pictured couple did wouldn't really work with the nice sea breeze we'll hopefully be experiencing.
While I haven't received more detailed pictures of the restaurant space we'll be using for our reception to get any further ideas about decor for that, I do figure I'll want to do centerpieces. However, they won't be what most people imagine when they hear the word centerpiece. There will be NO FLOWERS.
Having no flowers is very important to me for multiple reasons. First of all, the commercial flower industry is full of human rights and environmental abuses. If we wanted organic flowers they would have to be flown in from a fair distance at a huge price. Flying organic flowers from further away than conventional flowers kind of defeats the purpose. My mom is also allergic to a TON of flowers. Like seriously almost every flower. I also think they're wasteful and expensive, so no flowers here.
So now that I've squashed your idea of centerpieces here's some inspiration photos I've gathered for our centerpieces:







(all from google search of non-floral centerpieces)

So the common element is candles. The candles will either be on top of mirrors or driftwood and there may or may not be shells present. The shells bring up another contentious point for me - I don't want to be staring at the shell of an endangered species (conch) while I'm trying to enjoy my reception. Even if they are shells of abundant species, I want to know that they are sustainably harvested. So this once again may be difficult to make happen so they may not make an appearance at our wedding.
I sent these photos to a florist that works with Tensing Pen a few weeks ago with a description of what I was imagining and making sure all of my wants were clear and never heard back. I figure they will charge way to much money for some candles anyway so I'm soon going to start getting things together myself with a plan of how to get it down there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quick update

So I've been yelled at for not updating my blog but the truth is there isn't much to update on right now. But here's a quick rundown!

- We've basically received all of our RSVPs (we're still waiting on 1) and we need to send out invites to fill 3 more rooms based on the responses we've gotten.

- I'm waiting to hear back from a florist for a mockup and quote for our non-floral centerpieces. I'll do a full post on this soon I promise!

- Kenya is in the middle of some violence right now. Already talking to our safari company about that if it continues into the next year.

-People are starting to book rooms! YAY!

But that's about it. I'll start making some more definite plans with Tensing Pen in the new year. This will include our menu, cake/dessert, and timeline for the evening as well as events on Friday and Sunday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Budget Update

So one of the fun things about getting legally married already was finally combining our finances and coming up with a budge for our combined finances. (Can you hear the sarcasm there?!?) Well anyway September was our first month on our budget.
Things we learned: (1) it actually doesn't take that long to enter our expenses (15 minutes last night for the first half of this month). (2) We don't spend as much on food as we thought - or we did really good on cutting down our eating out when we consciously tried. (3) our pets are expensive (still underbudgeting that so far this month!). (4) a lot more unplanned expenses come up than we thought.
Overall we were $150 over budget (this includes attempting to save around $1100). Not bad for our first attempt. It looks like we're not going to do as good this month thanks to me planning last minute trip to Tampa.
The software is really easy to use. We don't try to have it automatically enter anything using our banking data because there is so many things on our cards that go on other expenses (Ben's business, things for work that I get reimbursed for) so I can't judge how good it is at that but I would recommend it! YouNeedABudget.com (YNAB)

Friday, October 14, 2011

6 months!

Today I got a wonderful e-mail from The Knot letting me know that we are 6 months away from our wedding! YAY! Also, it gave me a new list of things to accomplish! BOO!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Honeymoon Reveal

So last I spoke of our honeymoon, I gave you the list of options we came up with. So are you ready to know what we decided??!

SOUTH AFRICA!

So we chose South Africa and I quickly began doing some research on where we wanted to go and do. We knew we wanted to go to Cape Town and we also wanted to do a safari so I spent a lot of time looking at safari companies and options. We also contacted a travel agent to help us out. Within a month of our decision, I was very anxious. Everyone was telling us our budget wouldn't work with a trip to South Africa & a safari. I became overwhelmed and pass the job of planning our honeymoon onto Ben (he's traditionally supposed to do it anyway!).
Well, our plans changed slightly because we got an AMAZING deal on a safari from LivingSocial Escapes. We booked a 7-day, 6 night Kenyan Safari! We will be staying at 4 different lodges in total and going to multiple reserves. From LivingSocial Escapes:

"Get a taste of royal treatment on your first night in Nairobi's Safari Park Hotel & Casino, a five-star property fit for those who Just Can't Wait to Be King. The following day, you'll travel to the Samburu and Buffalo Springs Reserves.

"Samburu National Reserve showcases arid specialists such as the Beisa oryx and Somali ostrich," says BBC Travel. "Field guides depict the flora and fauna of a specific area alongside photos, identification pointers, and distribution maps."

Trade advisor Zazu for a naturalist guide, who will drive the minibus and introduce you to rare and sometimes endangered species you won't find anywhere else. You'll also meet Samburu village tribespeople and donate supplies to local school children. For both nights, you'll sleep in a luxurious en suite tent at Ashnil Samburu Camp.

Wise Rafiki says to put the past behind you, so take his advice and move on to the Lake Nakuru National Park, famous for the millions of flamingos that flock to its waters. Embrace Hakuna Matata along with the no worries philosophy of napping leopards camouflaged in the yellow Acacia trees.

After a day of rhino spotting, retire to Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge to watch the sun set over the pink-plumed lake from your private veranda.

At last, arrive in the real Pride Lands—The Maasai Mara National Reserve—to behold awe-inspiring scenes of the Serengeti. Millions of wildebeests cross these perilous grasslands each year during The Great Migration.

"The plains are full of zebra, impala, topi, giraffe, [and] Thomson's gazelle," promises Games-Reserve.com. "Also regularly seen are leopards, lions, hyenas, cheetah, jackal, and bat-eared foxes. Black rhino are a little shy and hard to spot, but are often seen at a distance. Hippos are abundant in the Mara River as are very large Nile crocodiles, who lay in wait for a meal."

Though outnumbered, Simba's living counterparts are the true monarchs of the Maasai Mara, fittingly called the Kingdom of Lions. Spend two nights in one ofAshnil Mara Camp's lavish tents, complete with walk-in closets.

We couldn't pass this deal up. It was a longer safari than we were originally thinking we could afford and the timing of it works perfectly for us. I can't wait to see hopefully see some amazing and endangered animals in the wild. Staying in luxury tents sounds amazing as well! We'll have time to come back to NYC for a night and change out our bags, and still spend 4 days in Cape Town before our safari.

We have a contact in Cape Town who's guest house we will be staying in and he will be showing us around the city. We will be spending one day north of Cape Town cage diving with great white sharks. We might spend one day in South Africa's version of Napa Valley as well. We are SUPER excited about this opportunity. I'm NOT looking forward to the LONG flights though!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sorry!

I've been a bad blogger and know I will continue to be a bad blogger next week as well. I apologize now but work is taking over my life currently. Hopefully I'll catch up next week and get back to regular updates.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Whoop there it went!

Our first RSVP deadline has come and gone and I have to say I'm VERY disappointed in our guests. We sent out 22 invitations and have only received 13 of those back. That's 9 missing RSVPs. Everyone of those 13 were yeses. These 9 RSVPs equal 21 people of the 41 we invited. So it looks like next week we'll be calling and e-mailing people to figure out why we haven't received these. A little frustrating because we have to go through this process all over again with a new group of people. I do have to give a big high 5 to our friends because they have done a much better job than our families at returning RSVPs!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Crazy Wedding Dream

I had another wedding dream this week. It was much longer and more detailed than the last one I had several months ago. I can't call it a nightmare because it wasn't frightening per se but it was definitely confusing and left me confused most of the morning. So here are some details I remember (may or may not be in chronological order):

1. We were on some odd transportation mechanism (monorail-like) with a bunch of tourists on our way to our venue when my front tooth popped out. Like it was never in my gum just attached to my other teeth and just came unglued or something. Very bizarre. Even weirder, later in the dream I look in a mirror and my gum had like closed together and brought my teeth closer so that it doesn't really look like there is a tooth missing. So I go with it.

2. On our wedding day we (us and our guests) went from some full resort event straight to our ceremony. I had to run and get ready for the ceremony while the guests were being arranged into some sort of order to form an aisle.

3. This left me alone to do my hair and make-up and get fully ready. My foundation was orange and I got it on my veil (which is really weird because I don't want a veil).

4. Apparently, we hadn't rehearsed our ceremony at all and no one knew what to do. Our bridal party (that we aren't having) didn't know who to walk with or in what order and a couple of random guests jumped in to walk down our "aisle". At this point in the dream, I'm half ready but in my dress and run out of the room that I'm getting ready in and tell everyone to get their act together.

5. It's not until I'm walking down the aisle that I realize our ceremony is against some ugly building with no views of the ocean or scenery surrounding our tropical locale.

6. No one, including the resort, knows what to do when the ceremony is over.

This maybe a new dream, I'm not sure but it happened the same night...

7. Then we went to find a new ceremony location on the resort property. The site suggested by the resort had no ocean views. All of the beautiful sites I was suggesting were off limits for lame reasons. We walked and walked around the HUGE property and finally found a site that was available and as we were investigating the bridge farther, other guests broke it.

It was somewhere around here when my alarm finally went off. It was a VERY weird and confusing dream for many, many reasons, mainly because NOTHING was similar to what we have decided and imagined.


Monday, September 26, 2011

RSVP deadline approaching

So out of the 22 invitations we sent out 12 have been returned to us. That's 10 outstanding RSVPs with less than a week from the deadline. That's 21 of 41 people who we can't account for yet! I should subtract 1 invite/2 people from this as we JUST found out their invite got lost in the mail! Needless to say I feel like I'm going to end up spending the coming weeks tracking down friends and family to figure out how many more people we need to invite to fill our resort.
Guests - if you're reading this please put a check on the line and drop the postcard in the mailbox! THANKS!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photographer Peril (AGAIN)

So we have resolution! On Monday, I sent a friendly reminder of what we discussed on the phone and on Thursday I received an e-mail with detailed pricing information for what elements we wanted in photography & videography.

We are getting 4 hours of photography, 1.5 hours for trash the dress the following day, and video of the ceremony & first 2 hours of the reception (before things get sloppy). All from one vendor for one reasonable price.

I happily introduce you to our photographer: True Colors Photography.











(All photos by True Colors Photography from their blog)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Real Conversations

As I mentioned, my BFF just got engaged and last night I got a chance to talk to her for the first time after the initial OMG you're engaged convo. She's just starting her wedding planning process and I honestly told her, unlike most other people, that (SHOCKER!) wedding planning isn't the funnest thing in the world. Seriously, most of the time I have to mentally psych myself up for planning/researching/etc. before I can immerse myself in the task. I know our wedding weekend will be hella awesome but the act of actually researching choices and making decisions takes some mental preparation and normally an adult beverage or 2. Yes folks, you read that right, a lot of our decisions have been made after a drink or 2.
She's on her way to her first bridal show this weekend and I refuse to go to one. Early on I registered for one but ended up not going because the thought of it was terrifying. Totally overwhelming. I hope they enjoy their foray into the Wedding Industrial Complex and I am happy to have my BFF to understand what I'm going through during this exciting and stressful time!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Honeymoon Possibilities

To be honest, in the beginning we talked more about our honeymoon than our wedding. We were really excited about the opportunity/excuse to take an awesome vacation. Ben and I have traveled a fair amount together and really enjoy exploring new places together. Its also been awhile since we've taken a proper vacation (Summer of 2009). Our only true criteria was getting a new stamp in our passport. We each came up with a list of a few choices and luckily there was some overlap...

Our list of possibilities that we came up with early on:

1. Stay in Jamaica

This by far was the most logical and cheapest of the options. There are tons of all inclusive resorts that we could switch to all over the island if we wanted a change. Jamaica has wonderful mountains to explore and rivers to raft with waterfalls to climb. There are rum factories and various water activities to partake in. It is a very popular destination, but neither one of us were too excited about this option as it is very close and easy to get to from the States and thought we could easily take another vacation to and explore more.

2. South Africa
A safari has always been on my bucket list and more and more of our friends were returning from South Africa with amazing experiences. South Africa has beaches to relax on, sharks to dive with, wineries to explore, and of course safaris. We have some close connections to South Africa that could easily help us plan a great trip. Luckily, there are direct flights from NYC to SA but its a very long (about 15 hours) flight! Can we afford an upgrade to economy plus or first class?!

3. Thailand

Thailand was Ben's idea. We have a few friends who have gone and loved it. The scenery there is beautiful, I will admit that. I didn't do much research into this because I was never that jazzed about the idea. I'm not a fan of asian food or many aspects of their political and social culture don't match up with my ideas and comfort level. Another very far away destination as well.

4. Costa Rica
Costa Rica has been on my travel list for a very long time. Like Jamaica and South Africa there are many varied landscapes and activities to do. There's whitewater rafting, ziplining, hiking, and water sports. It is a relatively cheap destination and many, many friends have had wonderful experiences. This destination is also very close to home and easy to get to. It is very popular for American tourists as well.

5. Bora Bora (or some other faraway Pacific Island)

This was purely my idea. Water. And lots of it in its secluded glory is available in Oceania. This tends to me more of the relaxing vacation with lounging and massages. Because of the abundance of water, there are of course water sports to do as well. Once again, very far away.

So as you can see, we like water and its related activities. We also like to do active things and explore our surroundings when we vacation. We definitely wanted a mix of relaxation and adventure in our honeymoon destination.
After we each came up with our list, we let the topic settle a little bit and talked to our friends and families about the ideas. Here and there we would talk through the pros and cons of each destination. We eventually came to a very easy choice of our destination that I will reveal in another post (when its more planned)!

(all photos were obtained from a quick google search of [destination] honeymoon)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Photographer Peril

On Monday, I received a phone call from our best photographer option. She received my e-mail with my questions and wants and also said they posted photos from Tensing Pen on their blog behind a password. She asked if I had any other questions and apologized for taking so long to get back to me. I was ELATED. She said I will receive an e-mail with a password and pricing for all of the elements I asked for. PROGRESS - so I thought. It is now Sunday and I haven't heard anything. I've been away all week at a conference with no time to call or e-mail. I have to say once again I'm more than disappointed in their customer service...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Other ways to capture our wedding weekend

I've written about our photographer/videographer situation and nothing has changed in that department unfortunately but from the beginning I also wanted to find an easy way to capture the photos from our guests in one easy place we can all upload and download from. We have some seriously talented friends and there is no way we can have a pro at every event all weekend long.
I first thought about Flickr but that requires an account so it's not quite ideal. Early on I came across Wedding Turtle. They allow you to create a unique url and e-mail address. Guests can upload or email their photos as attachements and they all appear on the website. We can categorize and organize all of the guest photos as well. They even send you cards to tell your guests about the service! So far this is the frontrunner for the photo aspect of the weekend.
A few days ago, I also came across WedIt. They send you 5 HD cameras to give to guests and then you send them back and they edit the footage into a wedding video to a song of your choice. That would be a perfect way to capture all of the special moments from the entire weekend. The sample videos are absolutely adorable. When I started looking at the price though, I realized that the video cameras are WAYY cheaper than what they charge. So Ben and I decided we'll just buy 5-6 HD flip cameras so our guests can pass them around all weekend and then we'll take them home and edit them. Ben is seriously amazing at these things (he made a great videos from Langerado music festival, our clearwater beach vacation, and animal enrichment at the zoo). So now the goal is to find these cameras for under $100. We figure we can resell them after the wedding and will probably only end up costing us about $50 for camera. Our amazing friends will be great videographers. We also get to see EVERY SINGLE minute those cameras catch and relive it all.
We're still going to enlist a photographer and videographer to capture the ceremony and usual elements of the reception but also want to capture moments from the entire weekend. We're very excited about these & this way hopefully no unflattering photos of me will end up on Facebook!
So listen up wedding guests - we're counting on you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Officially Officiating


Because we are already legally married, we don't have any of those pesky legal requirements to meet when we have our wedding ceremony. The most glaring of those requirements is the person that marries you. (There actually are some wording requirements as well as that piece of paper.) Now we don't have to have a complete stranger marry us, anyone can! As soon as we realized this we put our heads together to identify the perfect person. We wanted someone that has known both of us for as long as possible (obviously) and was married. We wanted someone who has gone through this and knows how it feels to commit to someone else for life.
First, we thought of our parents - they've known one of us since birth and the other from very early on in our relationship. However, we thought this may be unfair. Only one parent can have that privilege of marrying us. So we decided we could honor and highlight our parents in other ways (another post for another day).
With our parents out of the running we looked to our guest list to our married friends. There actually aren't that many of them (we are the first of our group of college friends - except him - to get married) so it became quite clear. Our dearest friend Kevin!

Kevin and I in Feb 2009

Kevin at his rehearsal dinner June 2011

Kevin, Rachel (his wifey), and his family at his rehearsal dinner June 2011

Now comes the fun part of writing our own ceremony. I've found some elements that I do like, for example a ring warming ceremony & a wine box ceremony, but for the most part I have no idea what this is going to look like. Luckily, we have a while to work together to create the perfect ceremony for us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Congrats Erin & Jon!


Somewhere in San Francisco, my best friend got engaged last night! They have been together as long as Ben and I have and he is a great man! Erin and I have known each other since freshman year of high school and I'm not going to embarrass us both by posting pictures of our friendship but here's the beautiful couple during their trip to NYC last summer. Congrats you guys I love you both!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photographer Peril

Once we had a venue, next on my list was to book our other big vendors - photography & videography. Tensing Pen requires that we use their preferred vendors and the coordinator quickly sent me 2. After checking out both of their websites, I had a favorite but decided to e-mail both for information. The runner-up was unavailable and sent me the information for one of their associates that was and I was NOT impressed with his photography. So my decision should be easy right?!? WRONG!

When I first contacted our favorite photographer they were available, had reasonable prices, and mentioned that they were shooting 2 weddings at Tensing Pen in the coming weeks and would send me a link to the photos when they were done. GREAT! This was back in June. Come July, still nothing so I e-mailed to check-in. A little while later I get a reply that they are still being edited but should be up soon. A couple of weeks go by and still nothing. This time I'm told that the couples didn't want their photos posted on the blog but some of them would be posted on a private site and a password would be sent to me by the end of the week. Well it is now September and I haven't seen any photos from Tensing Pen like I was told I would.

At this point I decided to e-mail Tensing Pen's coordinator about our situation. She immediately followed up with both photographers. Runner-up claimed to have never heard from us and the favorites just told her to remind me that not all couples want to share their photos but they were still working on photos done at Tensing Pen. I thanked the coordinator and set her straight about our runner-up contacting us and giving us an associate that we were NOT thrilled with. I e-mailed the favorite for more detailed information about the packages to see if they can accomplish what we (I) want.

It costs $500 to book a vendor outside of Tensing Pen. If I start doing research now and contacting new photographers on Jamaica I'l run into plenty that aren't available on our date. Flying in photographers from elsewhere is out of the question because of budget. I'm close to booking the favorite because I'm afraid I'll end up without a photographer if I don't book soon. Their work on their website and blog is beautiful and they offer a trash the dress session. So what would you do?

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Cousin's Wedding

We just returned from a quick trip to Arkansas during the long weekend to attend my cousin's beautiful wedding. They planned a beautiful wedding at the Stables on the Hill and definitely took advantage of the beauty of Northwest Arkansas. Here's a few of our photos from the evening!
The Stables at Sunset

The couple during their vows

Husband & Wife!

Seasonal flowers were on the tables, in the bouquets, and boutonnieres

The sun was setting and the party was starting

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Destination Details

So now that I've started really planning this shindig called a wedding I wanted to share some details that we needed to consider before we could get the ball rolling.

One of the biggest considerations was the time of the year. The first question after we announced our engagement was when. The first thing that comes to mind when you mention the tropics, at least for me and my family, is hurricane season. Hurricane season runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. We are actually entering the height of the season right now.
photo courtesy of Hurricane Science

Throughout the season there is a fairly predictable pattern of where storms form and move. Adding to that is the heat, while I'm from Florida and have been to the Caribbean in August with no problem, our guests may not appreciate that so that eliminated all of the summer between these two factors. I HATE the fall and winter now because I HATE cold weather. While fall does have some beautiful days, I find it hard to enjoy them because I know they are coming to an end.
Photo from Sodahead.com

So obviously, we wanted to have a spring wedding. Done right? WRONG!

The spring in the Caribbean screams SPRING BREAK!


The last thing I want around my wedding a bunch of drunk college kids. (Not that we're all going to be totally sober the entire weekend or anything, but that's different). Fortunately, after spring break season (after Easter-ish) it becomes the 'low season' for most of the resorts. Low season = cheaper prices. Our resort is almost half the price of the high season in the low season. We also wanted to avoid May because Ben's little sister is a senior in high school and needs to be home for AP tests, prom, and graduation. We were quickly running out of weekends!

Image from just allcalendar.org

I narrowed it down to the last 3 weeks of April. When we found our resorts the last 2 happened to fall in the low season so we picked April 21 and sent in our request. I received a prompt reply that it was booked as well as the following weekend but the previous weekend was open. Only hitch - Sunday April 15 was the beginning of low season. I was deadset on getting married on the weekend to minimize the time I was asking our family and friends to miss work to be with us so I went out on a limb and asked if we could secure low season pricing for our guests. After a few days of waiting (it felt like an eternity because I was busy showing off the resort to anyone who would listen), the manager agreed! YAY! We quickly sent them our deposit and had our wedding date of April 14, 2012. We were required by contract to have our guests stay for 3 nights so we will all be in Jamaica together April 13-16!

For most couples planning a wedding transportation includes limos, buses, etc to transport themselves from to and from the venues and maybe their guests if need be. We didn't have to worry about that but we were asking our guests to travel over 1500 miles to join us. I have the ladies of weddingbee to thank for explaining the process of getting flight discounts for their guests at their destination weddings. I quickly e-mailed the 3 major carriers that we fly when we visit family - American, United, and Delta - about securing a discount. Delta never e-mailed me back (SHAME!), United required everyone to purchase their tickets as a group, way ahead of time and NO cheaper than the searches I was turning up in Orbitz, but American happily supplied us with a code for our guests flying from ANY city to Jamaica. It's only 5% but its something. So far my parents are the only ones who have booked flights and didn't use it but hopefully someone will be able to take advantage of it.

We now also have several days to fill with our guests. We're not only planning our wedding and reception but events on Friday, Sunday, and Monday for them as well. Luckily, we're pretty much taking over this boutique resort so it will be easy for us to just relax together around the property. We're also working with our resort to plan an excursion off the property for Sunday. Even if it's just to the beach, where we can explore, it will be something to do that our guests don't have to think about. My goal is to give our guests as little to think about and plenty of things to do once they land in Jamaica.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grown up things (the good and the bad)

We survived Irene! NYC actually was spared from the brunt of it. Just lots of rain, very little wind. I got an e-mail from Saja today reassuring me that my dress was fine.
We will end up having an engagement of just of 20 months. Unfortunately, life doesn't get put on hold during this blissful time and good and bad things happen.
One major life change was the death of my maternal grandmother. Her death was not unexpected but the ramifications in the family were. I'm not going to go into any details but it has been hard. We have it easier than my parents for sure. We're a few states away but that also makes it more difficult. Flying out after the funeral was so very hard for me and Ben not being there didn't help very much either. We're looking onwards and upwards and trying to stay optimistic about the situation and supportive of my parents.
With Ben's birthday this summer, he aged out of his family's health care coverage. I get coverage through work but Ben is an independent contractor. This means health insurance is VERY expensive. Even if he joins the freelancers union, it isn't a very cheap option. So we decided it made sense for us to become legally married in the State of New York so I could add him to my coverage at work. We had tossed around the idea for a few months before we came to the decision that this would be the best for us. We talked about when we would celebrate our anniversary (wedding date), when I would change my name (after honeymoon), and a few other things. I also wanted to be very sure my parents were comfortable with this decision and supportive of it. It took a few conversations before they understood and fully supported us.
On July 28, 2012, we were legally wed by a city clerk. (On a side note, this was the first week of gay marriage and it was very exciting to see gay couples there too!) Our recently married friends were our witnesses and within 20 minutes we were married and on our way to dinner to celebrate. Everyone once and awhile we call each other husband and wife and remind each other that we're married but we still introduce each other as fiance/e. Most of our friends and extended families don't even know (until now...). We're not keeping it secret (obviously) but it is a grey area but the more people that know the grayer it gets.


With our new legal status came an avalanche of paperwork. We first worked on all the insurance papers and are now consulting with our CPA (Ben's mom) about taxes. Because Ben is an independent contractor and his own business our taxes are confusing (to say the least) so she's analyzing whether if we should file together or keep it separate.
We also are starting to combine our finances. We've opened new accounts closed others and are still getting our new cards, checks, etc. Totally boring and not fun, especially when you add in budgeting with our new combined finances (I'll write a whole post on that in the next month as we are working with said budget).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wedding Website

I've mentioned our wedding website a few times now but haven't talked about the process. We didn't have to use one of the usual ways to get a wedding website (theknot.com, ourwedding.com, etc) because Ben already owned a domain. We picked our own url, layout, content, etc.
First, we had to pick our url. Should be pretty straight forward right? We wanted to be cute and witty (because we could) so it was much more difficult than it should have been. We had to include benlindell.com because that's the domain he owns but we could add before and after it. The most obvious way we could include my name was before his so we started with amandawagy.and.benlindell.com. We probably could have stopped there but then we wouldn't have accomplished being witty or cute so we need /something. So we listed (and googled) phrases for getting married. Long list short - we decided on 'take the plunge' because that's cute and fits with the destination theme and our invitations with the cliff.


Now, I have NO idea how to build a website. I use consider myself to be pretty technologically savvy but websites don't include that. I showed Ben other websites and an outline and it was up to him on how to make it happen. Turns out a lot of people use wordpress to build websites so we worked together to pick one of there templates and then spent an hour making it the proper colors. I wish I could tell you how we did that but I have NO idea what Ben was doing so I played on Facebook. After that we started adding content. This included a photo for the banner, pages, a guestbook, and the usual components.
We let it sit like this for a couple of weeks and switched focus to the invitations. However, we were directing our guests to the website in our invitation package so we once again had to work on the website. I spent time after work expanding the outline with specific content. Finally, Ben and I had another night at home and we worked together to add the content to the pages. And by work together I mean, Ben did the fancy and confusing website stuff and I played on Facebook until he asked me to check his work in the (almost until I said so) finished form.
At this point, our guests have complete travel information (airport, airline discount, hotel, & passport), an idea of our schedule of events for the weekend, some websites to learn about Jamaica (fordor's and the travel ministry), pictures of us (through the years & engagement), and a guestbook. We still need to fill in the information about the schedule (probably will happen in January/February) and our registry information (when we start making plans for our honeymoon), but I'm happy with what we have so far.
My favorite part of the process was definitely going through both of our computers for the photos. It was a nice trip down memory lane of all the places and concerts we've gone in the past 5.5 years. You could see the many different lengths of hair I've gone through and Ben's beard has gone through as well as how much weight my awesome man has lost. Ben also made it look really awesome when you click through them (go ahead, go do it).
Our guests have started signing the guestbook and sending back RSVPs! I jump for joy every time I get a notice that someone signed the guestbook or there is an RSVP postcard waiting for me at home.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And they're off...

The invites that is! Now that these babies have made their way into the world and our guests will be receiving them this week I'll share with you!

I found this invite from a wedding on a neighboring resort as our inspiration:

image courtesy of Style Me Pretty (photo by David Murray weddings)

And then found this photo of the Tensing Pen property:

image courtesy of flickr user lynagh

And then asked a very talented friend to make a sketch to create something similar to our inspiration photo.

I fell in LOVE with the result!

We decided to do postcards for the RSVP. We used Vistaprint because they are essentially free and we've had good results with them for various things in the past. We selected an engagement shot for one side and clever wording for the other.

Photo by Sam Nulton

Personal crappy photo

Next up we had to decide on our postage. Something Ben had no idea we needed to do. It ended being an easy choice. We really didn't have a choice for the postcard stamps but we don't really care that much (right 2).

personal crappy photo

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Invitation work day

Ben and I (ok mostly Ben) finished designing our invites. I showed him options for wording, he picked one, then parents approved and he chose a font and put the words to our invite and I loved it and once again the parents approved of the design. We went to PaperSource in Brooklyn last weekend and picked up paper and envelopes as well as some markers to do some writing. We chose to go with the classic A7 size. Cream paper and peacock envelopes (links here & here).
Today we printed our invites. NO MESS UPS! The first print was perfect and our printer cooperated the entire time. 22 invites done! While Ben was printing the invites I was practicing writing on our RSVP cards. We ordered free (except for the fee for uploading our own photo) postcards from Vistaprint. We needed to add names and the RSVP date. After we ordered the postcards I realized we didn't include an RSVP date but this actually works out in our favor because of our A & B lists - they will have different dates. I wasn't happy with my handwriting (no surprise there!) so Ben thought maybe we could print on them. Turns out we couldn't. The ink kept smearing. So I just dove in on writing on them with a regular old Sharpie. Luckily, the smallest number of postcards you can order is 100 so we had plenty of extras for my screwups. Eventually, I ended up with a stack of completed postcards.
Next up was the envelopes. We were originally thinking of writing on the envelopes to personalize it but after practicing on a few we gave that up. So we tried to print on them. The printer wanted nothing to do with feeding that envelope through the printer. Plan C was then to go buy clear labels. We took a lunch break and walked to our neighborhood staples and picked up some Avery labels (link). I've typed all the addresses in and printed a test page. When Ben gets home from work, I'll have him proofread them and then we'll print the labels.
Tomorrow we'll head to the post office to get stamps for our RSVP postcards and invites and these babies will be on their way to our guests. That means Ben and I need to finish our website (we also ordered business cards with our website address on them) and pick our room at the resort REALLY soon!
Lately all of our decisions have been VERY easy. We've been running through these invites pretty easily. Hopefully everything else will go this well!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deciding on a Guest List

We knew we wanted an intimate wedding but 35 was smaller than we thought we were going to have. This required us to cut down our list substantially from our initial list of people we wanted to share our day with. I initially listed about 50 people I could think of and after talking to Ben and our parents that ballooned to 60. Then Ben and I had the hard task of creating our A-list guests. My family is significantly larger than Ben's so we cut down from my family and some of our friends we haven't known as long to get 39 people to invite in our first round. As people RSVP, we will send out invites to replace the declines until we have 35 guests. We can only have 4 extra people that are allowed to stay outside of our resort as per our contract so we have to be very conservative when it comes to our invites.
We have gathered our addresses and are waiting to hear back from a friend who is designing our invitations. Unfortunately for you, you won't get to see the invitations until guests have received them!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Colors chosen

When we sat down to begin designing our website, we had to select our color scheme for our event - much to Ben's surprise. Lucky for Ben, I saved 3 color palettes for his choosing based on yellow and blues and different combinations of them that have caught my eye in the past several months. And the winner is...
(courtesy of the inspired bride)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Engagement Photos are up!


We finally were able to sit down together to pick our favorite photos from our engagement shoot. We narrowed down the 95 photos sent to us to 25! It was quite difficult but we did it! Check them out on facebook and let us know which ones you like best!!