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

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

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 (,, 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 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 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!