Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Single Digits!

Today is a big day: the wedding countdown has finally reached SINGLE DIGITS! Holy cow. Only nine days until the wedding!

I'm just a bit excited. And thankful for quite a bit as well. Since I'm extra wordy lately with two posts in two days (here's last night's post, in case you missed it), let's just get right down to business!

I'm thankful I get to go on my honeymoon in 11 days. Seriously, I need this vacation so bad right now (thanks for that, work). Plus, what better way to celebrate marrying my best friend than spending five days with him in Disney World? I have a pretty good feeling we're going to need all that time just to recover from the craziness that will be our wedding day.

Our honeymoon is our first real vacation together, alone, and I am so excited for all of our awesome plans - Hoop de Doo, California Grill, massages, Halloween Party... do we know how to do Disney right or what?

That was a silly question. Of course we know how to do it right.
Disney proposal? UR doin' it right.
I'm thankful for awesome runs. Sometimes I like to pretend I'm a runner, and this past weekend was a big deal for me in that regard. I ran my longest distance EVER on Saturday - five miles! I know for some people that's not a huge deal, but it is for me. Last year I could barely run one mile, let alone five.

Okay, I kind of cheated during my run and took a walking break every mile, but I still finished five miles, so haters to the left. I read enough healthy living blogs every day to have been brainwashed into thinking a half marathon is a good goal to have, so we'll see where my progress is at in a few months. Once wedding planning is over I have to have something to plan for, right?

I'm thankful I don't have to live by myself anymore (soon). I used to think living by myself would be fun and cool, since I'd be the one in charge of how everything looks and where everything goes. I could be the king queen of my own castle and come and go as I please and watch my "Gilmore Girls" DVDs all the time without judgement.

Well, living by myself has actually been super boring and has probably made me a bit lazier, since no one knows how long it's been since I made my bed or how long that dirty bowl has been sitting in the sink. And there's the whole thing how whenever there's a problem with anything in my apartment, I'm automatically the one who has to take care of it (unless it's something big enough to pass along to my landlord). Kind of a bum deal, if you ask me.

See, every few weeks I get a visit from a member from some kind of mega-size spider family, and I'm forced to kill it and dispose of its body myself. The first time I saw one of these suckers, I had a mini-panic attack for ten minutes before I worked up the courage to crunch it to death with a book. Now I'm so used to them that when I walked into my apartment yesterday to find the biggest spider ever staring back at me from the kitchen, I just casually grabbed a notepad to whack it with and dumped it in the trash.

Since my not-so-little spider buddies don't seem to want to leave me alone, I'm glad I'll have Drew around to carry out my dirty work and get rid of them for me. I can only take so much spider-mashing on my own.

I'm thankful the weather is still semi-warm. Although I grew up in Illinois, living in Florida for nearly a year exposed me to the joy of warm winters, and that's a tough thing to come back from. Last winter, my first back from Florida, was pretty much the most awful thing ever. Weather-wise anyways. That whole engagement thing was pretty great ;)

I've always been a pretty big wuss when it comes to cold weather, and especially snow, but now that I know I don't have to be freezing for half of the year, sometimes I want nothing more than to move down South again. Can you imagine never having to scrape snow or ice off of your car again? I can, and it's great.

So even though the weather is decidedly colder (highs in the 60s are not my style), I'm glad we still have a few moments of warmth and sunshine here and there to transition us into fall. Just don't expect me to be this tolerant of the weather in a month or so when I'm bundled up in six different layers and dreaming about 90-degree temperatures.

Okay, enough about me. What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How I Want to Remember My Wedding Day

I love borrowing ideas from other blogs for posts. This one is inspired by a similar post by Julie on Peanut Butter Fingers (she has excellent workout tips, FYI).

I've heard from so many people that your wedding day flies by so quickly, which is hard to believe right now since planning the wedding has pretty much consumed the last nine months of my life. Will all of our hard work and countless hours of wedding preparations feel pointless if the day moves too quickly? Will anybody besides Drew and I even notice all of the effort that went into the details?

But then I have to remind myself that all of the details - colors, table decorations, stationary, what clothes we chose to wear - are more for us than for our guests. Of course we want to show our guests how much thought we put into the day so they enjoy the ceremony and reception as well, but at the end of the day our wedding is about us. And, more importantly, it's about us (finally) being married.

So what do I want to stand out in my heart when I look back on our wedding day in a month or a year or in 50 years?

How I Want to Remember My Wedding Day

I want to remember spending the day with family and friends. I've lived in three different states in the past three years, so keeping up with my friends and family is tougher than I'd like. When I'm constantly moving and going through different stages of becoming an adult, it's hard to visit my friends from college or even keep them up-to-date on what I'm doing with my life.

I had a phone conversation over the weekend with one of my college friends who recently got engaged about how weird compiling a guest list is when you haven't seen some of your closest college friends since graduation. How do you decide who to hold onto? Well, I made my decision on which friends I wanted to see on my wedding day a few months ago when our invitations went out, and I'm so excited to see them and spend time with them (however little) on my wedding day.

The same goes for my family, who all live in different states, that I rarely see. I want to remember the most recent reunion I'll have with my friends and family and cherish the time I get to spend with them on what will probably be the most important day of my life. And I am so blessed to have wonderful friends and sisters standing next to me at the altar. I hope the craziness of the day doesn't prevent me from enjoying the company of my friends and family and appreciating all the time and money they took to spend my wedding day celebrating with me.

With my parents, sisters and brother-in-law at my cousin's wedding this summer.
I want to remember how I feel walking down the aisle. In my mind, walking down the aisle to meet Drew at the altar is going to be one of the biggest moments of the day. I'm so afraid I'm going to be focusing on not tripping over my dress or how sweaty my hands are instead of the fact that I am literally walking towards my future. I want my focus to be on Drew and on my parents, who will both be walking me down the aisle. I don't want this moment to be a blur. I want the excitement, nervousness, anticipation of this moment to stand out in my mind long past the ceremony.

I want to remember the look on Drew's face when we say our vows.  Just like walking down the aisle, I have a fear that our vows will be such a blur in the moment that I won't remember them happening. I want to be completely in this moment. Saying our vows is the most exciting part of the wedding ceremony for me to look forward to because it's obviously the most meaningful. If I remember just one thing from our wedding, I want this to be it.

I want to remember not taking the small stuff too seriously. Like I said before, Drew and I have put a lot of time and effort into the details of both our ceremony and reception. I know not everything will go as planned. I'm sure we will have goofs in the ceremony and the reception set-up will not be exactly as I have it pictured in my mind. I want that to be okay on October 8. I want to be able to laugh at every mistake or mix-up or unexpected event that takes place that day. I want to remember feeling calm over any last-minute crises that arise and keeping my thoughts and focus on the bigger picture. In fact, I want to take the mishaps so lightly that I don't even want to remember them (unless they're particularly funny or ridiculous).

I want to remember our first dance. Drew isn't much of a dancer, so I'm glad we have a solid excuse to get him out on the dance floor. Anytime I get to dance with Drew at a wedding is special and exciting for me because it rarely happens, so I am beyond thrilled for our first dance. We've practiced dancing to our first dance song a couple times already, and even those practice runs are amazing. I can only imagine how special the real deal will be, and I hope I never forget how I feel during those three minutes and thirty-seven seconds (give or take).
At a wedding last summer. Notice how we're planted in our seats and not on the dance floor.
I want to remember the drive away from the reception. This seems kind of random, but there's a good chance this will be the first time since the ceremony that Drew and I will have to ourselves all day. I want to remember what we talk about in our first moments as a married couple. I want us to cherish that alone time we have to look back on our wedding day while everything is still fresh in our minds.

More than anything, I want to remember how happy and loved and amazed I feel all day to be surrounded by family and friends while I marry my best friend and love of my life. I know I won't remember all of the details of our wedding day, and that's okay. That's what the pictures are for, right?

If you're married, what do you remember the most from your wedding day? If you're not, what's on your list to remember when your wedding day comes along?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Better Late Than Never

Time for another installment of Thankful Thursday!

I've been a total stresscase at work lately, so taking the time to think of the good things in my life is a welcome distraction. I am so excited that I only have 9 workdays left before I have a week and a half off for the wedding and honeymoon. October, come quickly!

Also, for the record, I know I missed posting this last week but I have a totally legit excuse: my internet was out. I promise 75% of this was written a week ago. Anyways, on with the show.

I'm thankful I am 16 days away from being part of an awesome family. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and miss living in Illinois near many of my family members, but I am so excited to officially join a new family next month! Since moving to Michigan over a year ago, I have spent almost every weekend with Drew and his family (he lives at home right now) and have gotten to know his parents, brothers and sister-in-law really well. And they're awesome.

When Drew and I were still in the beginning stages of wedding planning we worried that our reception would be one of those no-one-dances-and-it's-awkward-and-boring ones. Not a chance. Both of us have extremely outgoing and uninhibited families (and friends) so we know we won't have a problem getting people out on the dance floor.

But we also have fun on regular ol' weekends too, like at the girls' brunch we had two weekends ago while the guys were all at a church event.
Ladies at family brunch.
We enjoyed some delicious food and some wonderful time catching up with each other at our brunch, without any male interruption, which pretty much never happens. I think we'll need to make this a regular event! And I need to look through the family cookbook I received at my wedding shower to recreate the delicious egg casserole and sticky buns we had to eat.

I'm thankful my dress is finally altered. I wasn't exactly on top of things when it came to finding someone to make alterations to my wedding dress. But luckily a woman in my Rotary club is pretty handy with a sewing machine and offered to alter my dress for me (and for significantly less than the boutique where I purchased my dress would have charged). I went to her house last week for a fitting and got a message from her tonight that it's all finished! Woohoo! Knowing my dress isn't going to fall off of me in the middle of the ceremony is definitely a relief.

I'm thankful for coffee. Because I'm overworked and tired. Caffeine is a wonderful thing.

I'm thankful for excellent customer service. Without giving away any spoilers for my bridesmaids' gifts, I'll just say that an online order I placed with Anthropologie a few weeks ago got a little messed up, resulting in me spending nearly 30 minutes on the phone with a customer service rep to fix my order. The woman I spoke to was absolutely wonderful and extremely helpful in making sure the correct items were shipped to me ASAP. Phew!

I'm thankful the wait is almost over. Seriously, can the next 16 days just fly by? I don't know how Drew and I have been so patient with waiting for our wedding day to arrive, because all I want right now is to get married. I feel like a little kid excited for Christmas - the anticipation is almost too much to handle!

I'm thankful our wedding checklist is thisclose to being completed. Our wedding planning checklist  has seriously stressed me out over the past few months, but Drew and I have totally been dominating it in the last couple of weeks. We're pretty much down to the finishing touches, which feels so amazing. Don't let anyone tell you wedding planning is easy, because it's so much work. I'm thankful Drew has been so helpful with planning instead of expecting me to do everything by myself because I wouldn't have been able to handle it all. If we can handle planning a wedding together, then we can handle anything.

I'm thankful fall-scented candles are now seasonally appropriate. Not much smells better than a pumpkin-scented candle in my opinion, and now that fall is officially here I can burn them in my apartment without feeling any shame. I already cheated the scented candle system by burning an apple-scented one all summer long, but I can't break the unwritten candle rules by burning my pumpkin ones early. Since I've already baked pumpkin bread, the only step remaining in my fall pumpkin trifecta is to get a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. I think I just figured out my weekend goal!

What are you thankful for this week? Does anyone else have a pumpkin-themed to-do list this fall?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our Engagement Story

I realized that I've never put the story of how Drew and I got engaged up here, and with less than three weeks until the wedding, now seems like a pretty good time!

The super short version of our engagement is on our wedding website, but we've never written out the long version. I want to make sure Drew and I remember that day with all the details for a long time, so recording everything now (almost nine months after the fact...) seems like a good idea to me. Plus I'm pretty sure some of our friends and family have only heard the short version and might enjoy learning the whole story.

Our Engagement Story: The Long Version
Sometime back around November or so, Drew's family began tossing around the idea of taking a family vacation sometime in January, before the new school semester started up. The plan slowly started taking shape, including an invite for me and a destination - Disney World! Drew and I both grew up in families that frequently vacationed in Disney World, so we were all psyched about the trip. Plus, this would be the first time Drew and I were back in Disney World since our internships (during which we met) ended.

We "officially" received our tickets and vacation plan on Christmas Day.
About to open our Disney Vacation gift! Thanks Mom & Dad P!
On New Year's Eve we were off! Most of the family had already driven down to Florida, but I had to work NYE morning, so Drew and I flew down that day to meet everyone else. We stayed in a condo about an hour away from Orlando that we borrowed from the extended family.

I should probably mention at this point that I had no idea Drew was planning to propose on this vacation. I knew he had already talked to my Dad about getting engaged when we visited my parents for Thanksgiving, but when I didn't get a ring for Christmas I figured we wouldn't get engaged for months. I don't know how I came to that conclusion, but somehow in my mind it was Christmas or forever later. Anyways...

We spent a few awesome days enjoying the warm, sunny weather and the beach right behind our condo before heading over to Disney for the night! We shopped Downtown Disney and spent a fun evening at Jellyrolls before resting up for our one-day Parks marathon (Disney in one day is no joke!).
I should also probably mention that, because I had no idea what Drew was scheming, I unintentionally freaked him out a couple of times. See, Drew was hiding my ring in his ironic fanny pack, which I kept harassing him about all morning. Including hitting it and saying something along the lines of, "What do you even have in there anyways?" Good thing Drew has a pretty solid poker face.

After starting the day at Epcot, we eventually made our way over to the Magic Kingdom. This is where Drew and I met (he worked there), and during the two months or so that we knew each other and were working at Disney together, we never actually had our picture taken in front of Cinderella's Castle. So of course we planned to finally have that iconic picture taken during the family vacation. After lunch Drew suggested taking the picture, so the whole family headed over to the Castle with us. Everyone whipped out their cameras (which I didn't even think was suspicious - I'm clearly super observant) to get our picture.
Our crappy "Castle" picture.
After we took this Drew said he had an "idea" for the next picture and went to go get something out of his fanny pack. This was when I finally got suspicious! I sure am quick one, huh?

He walked back holding a little box, and I could not believe he was going to propose to me! I think I just kept saying dumb stuff like "Nuh-uh! Are you serious?!" for about a minute until he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!
This is Drew asking me to marry him.
Of course I said yes! And we have plenty of photographic evidence (plus a video) of this all happening, thanks to Drew's family being in on the secret and recording the whole thing. 
Putting a ring on it.
Besides the whole being engaged thing, the best part of this proposal was the reactions of everyone around us. We have so many pictures with people blatantly staring at us in the background, probably wondering what nerds get engaged in Disney World (answer: the same nerds that meet in Disneyworld and plan to honeymoon there as well). One woman even came up to us to ask if we really did just get engaged because her little kids saw the proposal and were wondering.

I can barely even remember what happened the rest of the day because I was still so shocked and happy to finally be engaged to the love of my life. We spent quite a bit of time calling/texting/Facebooking our family and friends to tell them the news and were completely exhausted by the end of the day. All the excitement definitely took a lot out of us!
The cell phone picture I sent my sisters to tell them the news.
And now here we are, almost nine months later and only 19 days away from our wedding. I can't believe this whole engagement journey is almost over, but I am so ready to move onto the next chapter in mine and Drew's life together.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Useful Inspiration

I definitely don't use enough pictures in this blog, which I need to change. My favorite blogs have tons of pictures in every post which breaks up the text and makes everything a little bit nicer to look at.

Since I can't share any pictures of my dress right now (my fiance reads this blog) and we don't have any fun details like programs finished yet, I thought it would be fun to go through all the inspiration I've been bookmarking and pinning the last few months and post some of the ideas I love that we didn't end up using.

Even though none of these ideas will actually make it into our ceremony or reception, they still helped us land on our final decisions and inspire us along the way in terms of color and style.
Big numbers + clean lines = totally our style.
Green & gray. Enough said. Except seriously, how great is that gray border on the invite?
Candles are probably under-appreciated as an accent.
I love the look of white bouquets.
A gray cake!
Where are/did you find inspiration for your wedding plans? Anyone else out there obsessed with Pinterest?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Family, Fall & Fun

What a crazy week it's been! Having Monday off for Labor Day has really made this week fly by, which means we're one week closer to the wedding and our Disney honeymoon! I think the only thing that's going to get me through work this month (it's an extra-crazy time for us) is knowing I get a week and a half off for our wedding/honeymoon.

I had an excellent holiday weekend and have some fun plans for this weekend, so I have plenty to be thankful for this week.

Finishing our place cards. Drew had downloaded a free trial of Photoshop to recreate the most awesome place cards ever, but the trial expired this weekend before we were completely finished tweaking our version of the cards. Oops. But Drew's awesome so after a 12-hour day at the ball park working, he came home and banged out the rest of our place cards so we're all set to go! What a guy. All we have left to do is add individual names to the cards, but we can do this without Photoshop. Score!

My cousin got engaged! Yep, my lovely cousin in Boston got engaged last week! What a year it's been for my family - another cousin was married in July, my wedding is in October and another cousin just got engaged! My family knows how to have fun at wedding receptions, so I'm pretty pumped we'll have another one on the horizon after my turn. Plus, we're all so spread out that it's hard for the whole family to get together anymore. Family weddings are the perfect excuse for us all to see each other and catch up and, of course, have fun celebrating!

I'll be married in one month. Holy moly. Sometimes I still can't get over the fact that I was excited when we made it under the 200-days mark in our countdown when the wedding is only 30 days away right now! We still have quite a bit left to do for the big day, but I'm pretty much at the point where I don't really care. I just want to be married to my best friend.

All-girls fun breakfast this Saturday. Our church has a men's event on Saturday morning, so while all the guys are busy with that (minus Drew who will be at the Michigan State game), the ladies are getting together for a fun family breakfast! It's going to be awesome and delicious. I love breakfast (and my new family).

Our honeymoon is paid in full. I was a serious stress case a couple of weeks ago when the final payment on our honeymoon was due. Using a whole paycheck for a Disney vacation is exciting, but also kind of annoying. I like lots of numbers in my bank account, and our final payment resulting in us having not-so-big numbers for a bit. Thank goodness for paydays, though, because our savings are back on track and now we don't have to worry about spending anymore money on our honeymoon! I'm also thankful for everyone who helped us pay for our trip - you're the best :)

Fall is practically here. Okay, I am not at all a fan of cold weather (yes, I think 60 degrees is cold), but I really do enjoy fall. Now that the weather is starting to reflect the change in seasons I'm getting excited for all the good stuff fall brings: apple picking, sweatshirt weather, Octoberfest, the leaves changing colors, cider donuts, Halloween... all good things. I may love spring/summer weather the best, but fall is when Drew and I met and when we're getting married. This season definitely holds a special place in my heart. Plus it's cool enough outside that I can wear my moccasins which is also exciting. Now let's just skip winter and everything will be just grand.

All right, my lunch break is almost over, so it's back to work I go. I hope everyone has a great weekend (I know I will)!

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Open Letter to my Wedding Dress

Dear wedding dress,

Or should that read "Wedding Dress?" Because you are supposedly all-important and the single most significant and meaningful article of clothing I will ever own.


You're just a dress, albeit one I will wear on a day that is significant and meaningful, but a dress all the same. You may be fancy and expensive, but that doesn't give you the right to send me into a panic over things like shoes and underwear and alterations. After all, I'm only going to wear you once and hide you in a box until... I don't know. What do people do with their wedding dresses after the wedding besides store them in the closet?

Wedding Dress, you are kind of a bully. After all, you are dictating my wedding day hairstyle. Who even does that? You're so petty sometimes.

I know you feel special and entitled because I chose you, but that doesn't give you free reign to send me into a panic over not fitting into you. Or give me nightmares about you somehow becoming ripped or dirtied on "our" big day.

Wedding Dress, here's the thing: you are nothing but an accessory. Your only purpose is to cover me up. Just like regular clothes. You don't have any magical powers or special abilities. You think you're so cool because you get to play a big role in my wedding pictures and society tells me to love you so much that I should preserve you and keep you forever. Just like "Psycho." That's messed up. You're just a dress.

So here's the deal, Dress. Stop bothering me for the next month, and I promise I'll take good care of you on October 8. I'll let you be the center of attention in our professional pictures (except for when the rings get their turn), and I'll even take you to be mummified or whatever so that you can stay young and pretty forever, although forgotten and ignored in the back of my closet.

I think this is a fair deal. And since you can't talk I have no choice but to assume you agree with these terms. I'm glad we've finally settled this.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Finishing Touches

So remember in my first Thankful Thursday post when I predicted I would forget to post the next week? Yeah, that totally happened. But I remembered this week so I guess it's all good.

The wedding is majorly creeping up (only 37 days to go!), but luckily Drew and I are staying on top of everything pretty well which gives me a lot to be thankful for. So let's get to it!

Getting my wedding shoes. I searched for an absurdly long time for wedding shoes that I liked, that looked comfortable and weren't obscenely expensive. Thanks to Zappos I not only found my wedding shoes last week, but I received them in the mail in two days! And they fit!

For some reason finding the right shoes was almost more stressful than finding my dress, so crossing that off the list is a huge relief.

Finishing some reception details. Drew and I found a picture of the perfect escort cards for our wedding online a couple weeks ago, and, thanks to free trial downloads of Photoshop, Drew has recreated them for our wedding! This is the picture we used for inspiration:

We've also made a decent dent in getting all of our centerpieces together. We're using candles instead of flowers for a more streamlined look. A few months ago Drew and I ventured out to Michael's to find the perfect hurricanes for our candles, but they were a bit pricey. Luckily, on a trip to Dollar Tree I was able to find the exact same candle holders for about an eighth of the price! So I took trips to two different Dollar Tree stores to find enough candle holders for all of our tables. Just a few more items to buy, and the centerpieces will be finished!

Awesome perks from our reception venue. Earlier this week Drew and I had a tasting at our reception venue for dinner options. We also worked out some details for the reception, including finding out about some pretty sweet booking incentives. We already knew we were getting chair covers for free (!!!) for booking early and that we'd also get some free table linens (white tablecloths are included with the space, but we also get colored table runners).

But the best part? We get to have free hors d'oeuvres! This is so exciting for us because we know our guests will be hungry by the time the reception starts (at 6:00 pm), but this wasn't an option in our budget. Free hors d'oeuvres? Yeah, we'll definitely take 'em.

The end of Drew's internship. Okay, this one also kind of sucks because it means he's unemployed as of next week, but it also means he doesn't have to work on weekends anymore! We haven't had a real, full weekend together in such a long time. Plus, this is perfect timing since it's crunch time for finalizing all of our wedding details and we need all the spare time we can get in order to pull together our plans.

This blog. Since starting this blog a few months ago I feel like I have so much more control over our wedding plans. Maybe because writing about the to-dos that are stressing me out gives me a better perspective on how important each task actually is rather than the inflated importance I sometimes have in my head? Or maybe because I feel more accountable for any plans that need to be started or finished? Either way, I'm glad my attempt to relieve my wedding stress and focus on what's important - marriage - is actually working.

Plus blog stats are super fun. Thanks to everyone who reads my posts :)

I'm trying to post a bit more regularly, and I have some future posts in the works, so look out for updates soon (or use the subscription link in the sidebar).