Friday, February 27, 2009

Putting on THE Dress!!!

*OK, Mr. CC. If you’re reading my blog, this is the last post (for a while) that you CANNOT read. I’m serious here. The other posts all had choices, but now I’m going to talk about my bridal gown and you know how much this means to me to have this be a surprise for you….Seriously, stop reading NOW!

Ok girls, now that he’s gone, I can tell you all about my final appointment with Alfred Angelo. When we last left off, I had four gowns waiting on me in the dressing room and my FMIL in tow to give me some advice and offer her opinion on the dresses.

I was kind of bummed that Amy wasn’t there. I liked her. A lot. She was nice and friendly, gave me her opinion (I looked great in everything – I REALLY liked her!) and was great about averting her eyes when I was standing there in my skivvies…all the best qualities in a salesperson! When I got back to Alfred Angelo that evening, Megan started helping me. She informed me that all of my gowns were still in the dressing room along with the strapless bra I had used earlier and the petty coat. So I skipped on into the dressing room and managed to swap out my clothes for the first dress, I think that it was #5 on the other posts – the one with the zipper. I figured since I could do that one myself, it was easiest to start with.

I got it on and stood on the pedestal appropriately while FMIL and I critiqued the dress. Megan was great to work with. She was younger, probably younger than I am, and had differing opinions about the gowns than Amy had previously voiced. FMIL and I looked at the dress from every angle and talked about all of the good points and bad points to Gown #5. Next.

Since I had already eliminated Gown #2 from the selections, I put on Gown #1 next, as it also didn’t require the petty coat. In this one, like I mentioned earlier, I had my hair up and when I “took the stage” in this gown I felt a little pull at how great it made me look. The outline and shape of my body was absolutely fabulous and the material was lightweight enough to work for outdoors. When FMIL and I were trying to critique this dress, Megan brought up good points about the trials of dealing with cap sleeves. Apparently, the way that I would want them tailored tightly to me so that they didn’t stick out any would cause problems when giving hugs or trying to dance with anyone slightly taller than me. Hmmm….good point trusty side-kick Megan. Hadn’t thought about that. Next.

Gown #3 was up next. I had Megan run off and get the black and ivory beaded sash that Amy had put with the gown earlier, so that I could fully model the style of this gown. When I stepped onto the pedestal in this gown, FMIL was starting to grasp the seriousness of the situation. At one point she looked at me with this bewildered look on her face and said “But ALL of the dresses look so good on you!” Yes. Exactly my dilemma. That’s why you’re here…I thought I had already informed her of how good I looked earlier…maybe not. Or maybe she just didn’t believe me. Now she is starting to grasp the situation.

At this point, we were able to rule out Gown #5. Although we still liked it, we both decided that the shape that Gowns #1 and #3 gave me really brought out the WOW factor that every girl looks for in her wedding dress. We discussed the bustle on this dress at length. I had some concerns regarding the pick ups on the skirt and how the bustle would work with that. Megan was a good sport and got down on hands and knees to arrange a faux bustle so that I could envision it all. She also was handy at getting different veils and tiaras for me to “play” with to get the full effect of the dresses.

I felt better having removed one of the gowns from the selection, but there was still one more dress. FMIL Cotton Candy was almost groaning when I mentioned that there was still one more dress, as we were having a tough time narrowing it all down. Into the dressing room Miss Cotton Candy went one more time, and on came Gown #4.

Now, let’s talk about Gown #4. Remember in my earlier post I had said that the gown didn’t come in the size that Amy had determined that I needed to try on and order. She had brought me a size smaller than I actually needed and just didn’t lace up the corset all the way. So, when I went back into the dressing room to change into Gown #4, Megan was busy putting back all the “bling” headpieces that I had been trying on, and I managed to get out of Gown #3 and into Gown #4 all by myself (no small feat, as anyone who’s tried on wedding dresses before can attest to!). I emerged from the dressing room with the gown clutched to my bosom and the back completely hanging open, since no one can do a corset closure by themselves. FMIL came over to help and then said that she better just watch this one time. Megan came over and laced me up, and maybe no one told her that this gown was not in my size, because that girl LACED ME UP!

You see, I have this picture going through my head while she was lacing me up. Remember that scene in Gone With the Wind when Scarlett is getting laced into her corset for the big picnic or whatever and the maid literally has her foot braced against Scarlett’s back in order to lace her up as small as Scarlett was demanding? Got it in your head? Well, that’s kinda like what this felt like to me. I couldn’t see behind me to see what Megan (or “Hilga the torturer” as I later nicknamed her) was doing, but every once in a while she would give a tug on the back laces that would literally jerk me back a step or two. I was honestly leaning forward and bracing for the pulls. But I have to be honest. When she was done and I “took the stage” the effect was mesmerizing…my whole entire body just lit up from the inside out. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and my entire face just broke out into the biggest smile ever. FMIL Cotton Candy took one look at me, met my eyes in the mirror and said “This is THE one!” And with every little breath that I could take, I agreed.

I’m not kidding. I could barely breathe. But DANG, I looked HOT! My waist was small and my curves were kickin’…thanks to Megan/Hilga.

And all that I could envision was walking down the aisle towards Mr. CC and imagining the expression of his face when he sees me in THIS dress…

With that thought in mind, without even blinking or second-guessing my decision, I told Megan that I wanted to place the order for this dress tonight.

I had found my wedding dress!!!

Here are some pictures that I can share with you of me in the dress. Forgive the quality, as they were taken with my crackberry…and keep in mind that the back "cleavage" that is shown in the back view shouldn’t be there when the dress is in my size and Megan/Hilga wasn’t the one to lace me into it…then again, given the tiny appearance of my waist, maybe Megan/Hilga SHOULD be the one to put me in the dress! LOL!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My thoughts on my selections...

Here are my thoughts on my bridal gown selections…

*Once again, Mr. CC. If you are reading this post, you need to stop reading right now. Seriously!

Gown #1:

I like how clean and simple this gown is. There’s not a long train, but enough of one to make it there and to need a bustle put in. The neckline of this dress with the cap sleeves, or off the shoulder action, really made a beautiful framing of my neck. I have a long neck, and when I went back for the evening appointment, my hair had gotten all crazy from earlier in the day, so I had it clipped on top of my head messily. The hair-do wasn’t all that great, but it really emphasized the neckline of this dress and made for a gorgeous picture of me. It’s a VERY flattering style with the rushing along the sides that acted like a built in “de-mommifier” for my mom’s body. Very classy.

Gown #2:

To be perfectly honest, this was my least favorite gown. It looks better in the white as pictured above, than it did in the cream which is what they had for me to try on in the store. I’m ordering cream in whichever gown I get, so it was nice to see the coloring on me. I didn’t really like that this dress doesn’t have a train, but at the same time, that’s kind of nice so I don’t have to worry about a bustle or people stepping on it and all during the reception. The beading was just enough to give the dress some pop, but it just didn’t completely stand out in my mind when it was on me. If it looked as good as it does in the picture above, I think that I would have had a harder time with this one.

Gown #3:

This was the only gown that I ended up liking with the pick ups in the skirt. The really funny thing is that in almost all of my pages and pages of wedding dress pictures torn out of my magazines, the pick ups are on almost every dress. But when I got there and actually tried it all on, this was the only dress that I actually liked with the pick ups. I tried this on in cream, and there was a black and ivory-beaded sash that Amy put on my a little above the natural waistline and it just jumped out at me. I had not previously liked having color on me anywhere, but that black sash just gave this dress a little extra zing, and I LOVED it. I was a little worried about how the fitted bodice would work with me pre-working-out body, but it looked fabulous. The undergarments and the corset in the back really worked out well. Easily one of my top contenders…

Gown #4:

THIS is the dress that I’ve been drooling over since I started shopping for dresses. I love it, love it, L-O-V-E it! Do you get that I kind of liked this dress? This was also the dress that I talked about the one in my actual size having the different skirt…I didn’t like that skirt and the bodice was more beaded, which was a little much for me. But Amy managed to find this style for me in a size too small for me. I squeezed into it and liked the dress, but had some concerns. I liked it SO much, that I was worried that I just wanted this to be the one because it’s the one that I had been dreaming about for so long. So I wanted to honestly and without prejudice compare this gown to the other gowns that I also loved. This dress is made out of a much thicker (insert heavier) material than the other gowns that I was looking at, and I have some concerns about getting too hot on the dance floor in this dress. Also, this dress was the most expensive of any that I looked at. It was also the one with the biggest discount with the sale that they were running. And lastly, I just expected to “feel” it when I slipped this dress on, and I wasn’t sure that I was truly “feeling” it. I guess I was afraid that it was all in my head…

Gown #5:

This dress was a surprise to me. It was a last minute selection on the Alfred Angelo website for me, and turned out to be one of my favorite dresses. The material is light and airy, which is something that I was concerned with. The dress could be worn with a petty coat or without, depending on how much “poof” I wanted, which was nice too. And the rushing on the side and the beading detail that outlined the rushing had a very nice effect. Paired with a veil that had beading around the edges, it was a stunning picture. The main thing that I didn’t like about this dress was the back closure – it was just a plain ol’ zipper. Sure, it’s easier for me to get in and out of, but I had just fallen for the corset-style back that some of the other dresses had and thought that this zipper with the gauzy material the dress was made out of looked a little cheapish. I mean, I’m all about bargain shopping, but I don’t want to look like I bargain shopped, you know? Maybe it was just the trial dress, and it would be better brand new, but I just wasn’t thrilled with that aspect of this dress.

Having mentioned price above, I’ll address it now. I had gone in with a budget number in my head. I’ve had this number in my head for a while now, just telling myself that I will not spend more than X amount of dollars on my wedding dress. I just can’t justify it for a dress that I will likely only wear one time, you know? The practical side of me just won’t do it. Mr. CC has the exact opposite view on my wedding dress. He doesn’t want me to worry about what I spend on my dress. He wants me to have the dress of my dreams, no matter what it costs…how sweet of him. I love him for having made me that offer, but I just can’t do it.

Amy had been telling me the price of each dress as I tried them all on, and for my favorite five that I couldn’t decide on she was also telling me the amount of the discount that was being given with the sale that was running. She asked at one point if budget was a factor in my decision, and I answered her honestly. There wasn’t a single dress that I was looking at or trying on that didn’t meet my budget. Even the most expensive one was still a couple of hundred dollars below the max on my budget, at regular price. So with that in mind, I didn’t need to commit to buying the dress that day just to get the sales price. Not that the practical side of me would have minded getting that sales price…but still. I wasn’t going to be rushed into a decision if I couldn’t make it that day. There will be other sales, and even if there’s not, it’ll be ok. I just want peace of mind with my decision. If I can make the decision today and also get a discount on the price, then great. If not, so be it.

So, with the help of my friends from afar and my gut leading the way, I went ahead and eliminated Gown #2 from my selection. Amy had assured me that although she would not be there when I came in that evening, that she would have one of the girls put all five dresses into a dressing room and have it ready for me, or if the rest of the afternoon was slow, just leave them as they were in the dressing room that I had been using. Having one dress weeded out of the selection was a big help for me. That meant that I had four dresses that I would be happy to wear to get married in to try on in front of someone to give me more feedback.

So with that in mind, I headed off to Alfred Angelo one more time that day…

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Five Dresses and a Decision to Make...

So there I was…a girl with five bridal gowns...a choice to make…and no one close enough to her to help!

*Side note – Mr. CC, if you are reading this post, you need to stop reading right now. One of these dresses might be THE dress, so I promise that this post isn’t about you or anything. Do NOT read any further!!! Or suffer my wrath!

Like he’s really scared…who am I kidding? LOL!

Since I had three hours to call in the Calvary, I did what any self-respecting bride faced with this dilemma would do. I sent out an email to my best girl friends and asked for their advice. Now, being the not-so-smart girl that I tend to be at times, I didn’t take any pics of myself in the actual dresses…the lady told me that I could take pics, but I had misplaced my trusty digital camera somewhere along the move into Mr. CC’s house…hmmm…perplexing…

So I sent the next best thing. I sent them the model shots of my favorite contenders. I needed help eliminating one or two of them (or maybe three!) so that I could try to make the decision when I tried them all on again that evening at my 5:30 appointment.

Here they are in no particular order:

Gown #1:

Gown #2:

Gown #3:

Gown #4:

Gown #5:

And the really crazy thing is that they are all SO different! Yes, they all had some things in common between them, but there was no true rhyme or reason to my selections other than that they were dresses that I liked for different reasons. And let me just add in the personal side note that I looked SMASHING in all of them! There didn’t seem to be one that didn’t flatter me. Having said that, I will put in a plug for the designer – it wasn’t me that looked so good, I truly think the dresses would have flattered most body types.

Lucky for me, when I rescheduled my appointment, I called my FMIL and told her about it. She works for the state, so she had President’s Day off, but she and FFIL had traveled out of town for the long weekend, and hadn’t gotten back to town yet. They tried to drive a little faster and make my 2pm appointment, but didn’t have any luck. So, being the persistent little bee that I try to be, I called her again and dangled the 5:30 appointment in front of her like the proverbial carrot on a stick. Since she’s only got sons, she jumped at the chance to do some bridal gown shopping in a flash, and agreed to meet me there at 5:30.

So I had nothing to do but wait anxiously to hear back from my peeps from afar on their personal favorites. Lucky for me, my peeps are fast and loyal. They all answered me back and gave me some advice, and there were two that were chosen by all my ladies. Which made my job even easier when I went back at 5:30. I was able to honestly say that the decision was down to four dresses….
Was anyone else able to narrow their selection down AFTER they physically left the store? Did that make it easier when you went back? Or did you end up putting the dress that you had taken out of the running back in when you saw it in person?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The First Bridal Appointment

So here I am at my first bridal appointment. Like I mentioned before, I’m a little bit nervous, and I’m feeling a little weird about the whole thing. You see, I went alone. Maybe you’re thinking that it’s not such a big deal (and that’s what I was telling myself) but typically a girl takes at least one person along with her when she goes bridal dress shopping. The salespeople always tell you that you look great, so they’re no help. I mean what’s a girl to do when she needs her best peeps at her side to tell her that this dress makes her butt look huge, or that dress displays her flabby arms nicely? This is the situation that I found myself in.

But it’s really my own fault. I know that most of my girlfriends live out of town. When I had previously talked about bridal dress shopping, I have always mentioned going to Dallas and doing the shopping. That way my friends can come along easily and maybe some of my family can join in the fun too. Now, we’ve already crossed that road with my mom and know that she’s not enthused about going along. And maybe that just put a damper on the whole thing for me, I’m not really sure. But finding out about this sale at the last minute like I did, I really had no choice. Even my friends that are located closer to Austin are still either on the North side of town when I’m on the South or they’re a good thirty to forty-five minutes away by car. So I enter the store alone.

I meet with the bridal consultant that they’ve assigned to me, Amy. She seems nice, and she has a REALLY nice funky hair cut that I like. She gets me some catalogs to look over and I hand her my dress style numbers that I had thought ahead to bring with me. She’s a little shocked that I’m so prepared, but takes it in stride. She goes ahead and measures me up and lets me know what size she would recommend that I order. I knew ahead of time that I would order a dress in a size or two larger than my normal size, so I was ready for that. I wasn’t really ready to hear that I needed a dress THREE sizes above my normal street size…oh well. Guess I should have been doing that working out thing, huh?

Anyway, luck was with me and my three top favorite dresses were in the store and available in my size, or so Amy tells me. She was able to pull about 10 of the dresses off of my list, so I felt fortunate to be able to try on so many. She whisked me off into a dressing room and I got into my undergarments (she provided me with a strapless bra since I had thought about bringing mine and promptly forgotten all about it!) and was ready to go. Since this isn’t my first rodeo, I knew better than to attempt to get into any of the dresses by myself. I called Amy back in and we tried on three dresses that didn’t require the petty coat. I loved them all. Yep, you read that right.

Then we put on the petty coat and tried on the other seven dresses. I didn’t love all of these. Which was a good thing! And included in this mix was the one dress that had brought me into the store. I got all excited when I saw it on the hanger in the dressing room…a little thrill of excitement went through me. But when I put it on, it was not what I had remembered seeing in the photos and on the website. Luckily, Amy came to the rescue and said that there was the same dress with a different skirt style and she trotted off to find it for me. Unfortunately, it didn’t come in my size, but she had found a much smaller one that I could ease into just for looks. I put it on, and held my breath in anticipation of seeing myself in the dress that I had been drooling over for the last two months…and was severely disappointed. I liked it. But it wasn’t as flattering as I had thought that it would be. I still liked the look of it and the style of it, but it was really heavy and hot and like I said it just didn’t sit exactly right on me. Now, I tried to keep in mind that it was the wrong size and all, but it’s hard to picture when something doesn’t fit, right? Right. But even with all of that, I couldn’t take that dress off of my list of possible dresses.

At the end of nearly two hours of trying on dress after dress, and putting some of them back on one more time, I was able to get my list of favorites down to two dresses that didn’t need the petty coat and three dresses that did need the petty coat. I know, I know. It’s still FIVE dresses – all of which I loved! – so it’s not a great starting point. But seeing as how I started with over ten dresses, I thought that I had made good progress. But at this point, I realize that I need help. I can’t make any further decisions without another opinion telling me honestly how I looked in each dress, since Amy was really not much help, bless her heart!

And since I was just on my “lunch hour” from work, I made the decision to schedule another appointment for that evening and find someone (even if it was the bum begging for money on the corner of the interstate) with me to the later appointment. I needed guidance. I needed an objective opinion. I just needed help! Not to make up my mind for me, but to help me along the process.

I needed to call in some reinforcements….

Did anyone else attempt to do this on their own? Am I just the only crazy bride out there that would even THINK of doing it this way?

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Qualms of Bridal Dress Shopping...

I have to admit…I was a little bit nervous about my pending appointment at Alfred Angelo. I HATE trying on clothes. More often than not, I’ll buy something just so that I can take it home to try it on; even if that means that I have to bring it back later. Part of me thinks that’s a really lazy way to approach things, but part of me really doesn’t mind doing it that way.

It’s just that there is not a dressing room mirror out there that is flattering to a woman’s figure. One time, I went into JC Penney’s to look at something, and ended up trying it on in a children’s dressing room as the women’s were all full. They are really evil over there at JCP, because they have those funny mirrors installed in the children’s dressing rooms. Here, you do the mental image - you know the mirror in the funny house at the carnival that makes you look three feet tall and four feet wide? Yeah, that one. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the dress that I tried on that day! I know, I know. It really looked nothing like that in reality, but I couldn’t get over the image in the mirror…too funny.

Anyway, back to the present. What was a talking about? Oh yeah, bad dressing room experiences and bridal stores. So anyway, I was a little nervous. I really didn’t expect to be shopping for my dress yet. Yes, it’s always the first question that people ask you when they find out that you’re getting married, “Do you have your dress yet?” But I hadn’t thought to start actually shopping yet; in fact, I was hoping that I would have a little more time. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to look their best when they’re trying on wedding dress, right?

Especially because shopping for a wedding dress isn’t like shopping for regular clothes. Someone is IN the dressing room with you and your undies in all of your glory, so there’s a lot to consider. They’re helping you get in and out of petticoats, dresses and undergarments to help “shape” your figure, and it can just be highly embarrassing at times. You have to make sure that you’re groomed – legs, bikini area and underarms – because THAT’S just awkward if you’re not fully prepared for a stranger to see you if you’re not. And for me, and I’ll admit that I’m a little paranoid about these things, I didn’t want to go in on a day when I wasn’t in my good panties. Come on, you can all admit to it. You have underwear that you wear that you wouldn’t want someone else seeing you in. It’s ok. We all have them – granny panties. It’s part of the natural order of the world. But they’re really not supposed to be worn in the presence of others, such as when you’re trying on wedding dresses, according to Miss Cotton Candy.

So like I said, there’s some forethought required to this whole bridal dress shopping for me. And that doesn’t even count any issues or hang ups that you might have about your own body…and I have hang ups. Being a mom of a six year old, I have a different body than a bride that’s right out of college (or still in college) with all the time in the world to work out and stay in shape. There are things that I’m looking for in my wedding dress to hide or camouflage a little bit so that I look my best on my wedding day. And in theory, if weight loss in on the planner at all when you’re a bride, you almost hate to even start wedding dress shopping until some of that weight is gone. They run a tape measure across various parts of your body to take measurements and determine what size of dress that you need to order, and if you’re planning on but haven’t actually started a diet or exercise regiment that size could change. And since bridal gown sizes are so skewed and weird anyway, I just wanted to look differently before I went in for the first time.

And I thought about my weight. I have a good friend who constantly refers to me dressing in “Barbie doll” clothes. Even though I know that I’m larger than I would like to be for me to feel the best about myself, it makes me feel good to have her refer to my clothes like that. A VERY big thanks, DL! So even if my good friends think that I look fine, I know that I would feel better about myself if I lost about 15 pounds. It’s not much, but it’s toning that I’m more interested in. In fact, the actual weight doesn’t bother me as much as how my clothes fit me. I would like for them to be a little bit loser on me than they are, and I would like to be able to wear all of the clothes in my closet, not just the ones in the larger size. Being one size smaller would just open up SO many options with my wardrobe, you know? And if you’ve already lost some weight by the time that someone runs a tape measure across and around you, it’s just better for your own self image since they’re going to tell you to order your dress at least one size larger than you are used to buying them in.

All of this is going through my head that morning after I scheduled the appointment with Alfred Angelo’s for that afternoon. What underwear did I have on? Had I remembered to grab my OWN strapless bra that morning, I know that I thought about getting it, but did I actually get it? When was the last time that I “groomed?” At least one good thing was working for me that day, I had fixed my hair and was having a good hair day.

Anyway. So I have these big plans to start exercising and watching what I eat, but I just haven’t gotten the chance to start any of it yet. So I wasn’t really “ready” to start shopping, if that makes sense. But at this point, it’s a little too late to worry about any of that. The store is having a sale that ends today. I have an appointment scheduled already. So it’s pretty much now or never. Even though I have a little voice in the back of my head telling me that I don’t have to find a dress today…it IS the first place that I’ve stopped to look and what are the odds that I’ll fall for one that I try on the first day? Slim to none, right?

Did you have these same thoughts when you're in a dressing room? Or for you brides out there that are reading this post, did you have these same fears before bridal gown shopping?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dreaming of Dresses...

So mentioning yesterday that it must be fate…imagine my surprise when I checked my hotmail account late on Sunday night and notice that the Alfred Angelo website had sent me a notice about a SALE that was going on over the weekend. And since this was just last weekend, the sale actually continued through Monday due to President’s Day. I clicked on the link and went to the website to see a BIG sign showing that by presenting the attached coupon you could get up to $300 off of your bridal gown…

Yep, looks like that guardian angel is watching out for me all over again! Even though the dress that I had been drooling over for the last few months was not in the most expensive category, which was probably where the largest discounts were given, $50 is $50, ya know? And this bride IS trying to do things on a budget….

So I spent some time surfing their site that evening and picking out some dresses that I wanted to try on. There is a feature on their website that allows you to save your favorites into your “dressing room” for easy access the next time that you log in. I put 15 dresses between bridesmaid and bridal gowns into my dressing room and trotted off to bed to have happy dreams of trying on bridal gowns the next day.

I mean, come on, let’s be honest here. What girl wouldn’t skip happily off to bed knowing that she’s going to dream about the gorgeous dresses in the store the next day? No one that I know of. And if I’m completely 100% honest about things, there was ONE dress in particular that I was going to try on. There were a lot of styles that I liked…but there was one that I was in love with over the internet and magazine ads. Love, love, love and more love.

And the really crazy thing is that about a week earlier I was reading my daily dose of and started eyeing this gown that this one bride in particular was wearing. She was doing recaps of her wedding last fall, so there were plenty of pictures of her in her dress. Everyday she sent in a different part of her wedding, and every day I just fell more and more in love with her dress. Imagine my surprise when I read one day that her dress was an Alfred Angelo dress…hmmm…yep, that caught my attention. Sure enough, when I tracked her blog back to when she wrote about buying her dress I found the style number listed. Could it be? Are my eyes deceiving me? Is it the same style that I’ve secretly started to fall in love with? Am I now guilty of coveting this girl’s wedding dress? Yes. Yes, I am.

So when I happily skipped off to bed that night, it was with the knowledge that my little lovely was in my internet dressing room, just waiting for me to show up the next day and try her on…

I was a bit disgruntled to find that the store didn’t open until 11am. WHO opens at 11? Apparently the Alfred Angelo store – yes, mom I hear your sarcastic remark before you can even think it! It just seemed a little late in the day to me…oh well. I “patiently” waited all morning long and was calling their store at 11:05 am (so that I didn’t seem TOO eager, you know?) to see if I could schedule an appointment. Now, to be perfectly honest, it’s been a while since I’ve done this. About 14 years to be exact, so I didn’t know if you could call and expect to be seen the same day. Lucky for me, there was no decision to torment myself over because the girl that answered the phone promptly wished me good morning and immediately asked if I would like to make an appointment all in one breath.

Yes. Yes, I would. Thank you for asking kind sales girl…and yes, I am available today…if you’ve got an opening…great! I’ll see you at 2pm. Bye! Yea me!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Hunt for a Dress Begins...

Girls and their wedding dresses, it’s one of the most important decisions that you make about your wedding…you envision what you want by looking through thousands of pages of wedding magazines…and I mean THOUSANDS of pages and pictures. You pull everything that you MIGHT like to try on, and then you go about trying to find the dresses in your area or in an area close to you where you can go and try it on.

And just like any other girl, I have been doing the same thing. Some of you may laugh at me, but as soon as I knew that I was getting engaged, I started my wedding folder. Into this folder I put all the pictures that I found that I liked of anything wedding-related, along with articles to read that might help me get other ideas or with the planning end of things. And this folder has become my bible of sorts. I typically don’t go anywhere without it. I LOVE this book!

I have collected SO many images of dresses that I like, that I decided a few weeks back that it’s probably time for me to stop collecting new images and focus on the images that I have collected. Look for any common themes, like color, material, designs that run through the selections so that I’ll have a better idea of what I’m looking for when I get into an actual bridal salon. For myself, I think that this is a smart idea. There are so many styles of dresses in the salons that it’s SO easy to get overwhelmed when walking in without any idea of what you are looking for. Of course, going in open-minded is nice too, because then you can be truly open to what the assistant might suggest for your coloring or body type and all.

But I don’t really like to not have at least some say in things, as most of you know! So I started glancing back through my pages and before long I noticed a few things about the dresses that had been catching my eye.

#1 – most of them were fairly simple in design.
#2 – my favorites all had a little bit of sparkle to them, but not overdone with detailing
#3 – I knew that I loved the ivory dresses
#4 – most of them were strapless
#5 – I was really drawn to the “wrap style” that seemed to help accentuate your waist

The other thing that I noticed was that I had a few favorites. And most of them were from one designer over and over that seemed to catch my eye – even in the bridesmaids dresses. Alfred Angelo just seemed to catch my eye over and over. So I did the thing that makes the most sense to me – I went to their website and started perusing the dresses online. This way I could check out pricing and sign up for special offers. Imagine my surprise when I see that none of my favorite Alfred Angelo bridal gowns were priced over $1,000 which was my HIGH limit on my dress budget. I was shocked! I mean, I love Target and Ross, but for a wedding dress, I was envisioning that I would be hard pressed to find something nice and fancy for less than $1k. Go me!

And then imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered that the new bridal store that opened within the last few months at one of our newer shopping centers in South Austin was an Alfred Angelo store! I mean, there aren’t many times in a girl’s life when her personal guardian angel speaks directly to her…but this was one of them for me! It was just looking like it was meant to be. Now, to find time when I’m in town and free from other obligations to go by and look….

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It’s FINAL…a decision HAS been reached!

There are a few people out there that are going to be SO proud to read this post. BH you can breathe a sigh of relief that we won’t be having those long, drawn-out conversations about nothing except for colors…and I KNOW that Mr. CC is going to be elated when he sees this in writing. We talked about it the other day, but I know that he was still skeptical…

What all-important decision has been reached, you ask?

I have selected wedding colors!

I know, I know. You were thinking that maybe it was going to be something a little more…well, I don’t know what could possibly be MORE important than choosing wedding colors. I really don’t. Do you know, or can you understand, how important this decision is? Everything regarding the whole wedding planning process is touched in some way by this decision. Everything. From the dresses, to the tuxes, to the flowers, to the centerpieces, the stationary, and even down to the table linens and favors. They are ALL affected by the color scheme that I select for our wedding.

Ok, so maybe you’re thinking that it’s not THAT big of a deal that I didn’t have this decided upon yet. And truthfully, although I’ll deny that I ever wrote this at a later date, maybe I’ve made this a teensy-bit harder than it actually had to be. I get that. I do. But most of you know about this anal-retentive, obsessive, type A personality side of me, and you all love me anyway…so how could I NOT make this decision harder than it has to be? Yeah, I really couldn’t help myself.

But that being said, the selection is made and the decision is final. Yes, BH and Mr. CC, I said final. No matter what anyone else should come up to me and say regarding my decision. No matter what other picture that I see in my next bridal magazine (I should probably just stop reading them now!) of a new and different color scheme that I hadn’t previously considered. It doesn’t matter. I promise. To keep my own sanity, I know that this decision has to be final and made.

So without further ado…I give you my wedding colors…



Eggplant (deep purple for those of you who might be color-challenged)


There will also be some pinks (both light and dark) thrown in for good measure here and there so that the Stargazer Lilies that Mr. CC and I love so much will fit right in. The main colors will be black and cream (ivory) and the eggplant and the lavender shades (and also pinks) will be accent colors. I don’t want the whole wedding to be purple, but I need more than just the black and cream. I think that the deep purple of the eggplant color will lend some elegance and charm to the venue, going along with my rustic elegance theme in my head, and the lavender will lighten it all up a little.

I LOVE the color purple. And I have struggled SO hard with this decision because it’s my favorite color. You know, sometimes a favorite color isn’t meant to be a wedding color. But I think that I will regret not making this wedding MY wedding, and what better way to do that than to have my favorite color there? There’s no better way, let me assure you. And having the option of throwing in some pinks in there to complete the look just…well, I can’t resist saying it…I’m just “tickled pink!”

I know, I know. Corny. That’s me. Welcome to my world.

So there. Whew. That felt SO good to put in writing. I have my wedding colors. Oh, I got a little tingle just writing it again! (I know that I’m silly, it’s ok – you can laugh along with me)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obesess much?

I saw the coolest picture on wedding bee a few weeks ago. This bride had made tissue paper pomanders to spruce up the décor at her wedding several months before I started reading Wedding Bee, and was asking what to do with wedding stuff like that after the wedding. In her post, she included pics of the pomanders, and I fell in love with them. And I don’t mean just a little bit, but the whole way off the deep end.

For about a week all that I could think about were those pomanders and how to make them and what I would make them out of, how I would hang them, how they would look at my venue, what colors of tissue paper that I would use…are you getting the point that I was a LITTLE obsessed? Or maybe you would (correctly) say that I was obsessed MUCH? Yeah, I admit it. I’m proud of it even.

It’s really all that I could think of. I had thought of using colored Japanese lanterns, but the thought of trying to match paper lanterns to the colors in my head, much less that meant that I would have to CHOOSE colors…it was just too much. But flower pomanders were gorgeous, and when hung from above, I could not tell in the picture that these were not real flowers.
I started pricing flowers online that week too, so this could have been some of the obsession factor!

Anyway, once I showed the picture to a few different people and made up my mind that I would have something like that at my ceremony site, I set about finding out how to make them. I re-read the post that had started it all, and I followed her links to her other posts about constructing the pomanders. Then I also went searching on the internet and found several tutorials, even a few video tutorials on that helped. Martha Stewart (god love her) also had several methods to use and tips to try. After compiling them all, it was really bugging me one night as I was lying in bed about how real they would look. And if they didn’t look all that real, then would they look more real from further away, as in once they were hung high and all?

I got a little obsessed about it, and decided that I would make one right then and there. No matter that I was beat-assed tired. No matter that Mr. CC thought that I should just lay down and relax. No matter that I couldn’t find ONE SINGLE PIECE of tissue paper during my crazy 15 minute search of our closet. Didn’t matter that I didn’t actually HAVE any of those fuzzy pipe thingys that you use in arts and crafts as a kid. I would make do.

And I did. Make do, that is. I ended up making a glittered (yep, you read that right) tissue paper flower while in bed that night. I used a piece of a scrunchy Christmas bow to tie it off in place of the fuzzy thingy, and yes, white tissue paper with multi-colored glitter flakes was the ONLY piece of tissue paper that I could find. But it was all worth it when I saw the end result…

It was NOT beautiful.

But that was ok, because I could see enough to know that it was not pretty because of the glitter paper. And the poor folding job of mine. I could see past all of that to know that with the right paper and a little more trial and error on my part, I could make these look like flowers from afar. I could see it clearly in my mind how it would look at our ceremony site and I was hooked.

Has anyone else ever gotten an idea in their head and you’re just not sure that you can make it work for what you’re wanting to do? And then when all of the pieces come together and it work out, it’s just almost magical? That’s what these tissue paper flowers are like to me. They are magical. They are magical not because they’re so great, but they offered me a cheap (if a little labor intensive) project that can replace a very expensive piece of my budget. And they follow the theme that I’m working for – simple, elegant and romantic. They give me flowers without costing what flowers cost. I L-O-V-E them!

I am expecting the paper lanterns in the mail today. Once I can see how it’s all going to come together, I will do a post on the whole project step-by-step. Just in case anyone else out there is as crazy as I am! And then, you can love them just as much as I do! Well, maybe not THAT much…

Monday, February 16, 2009

What’s a girl to do without family drama in her life?

For normal people, maybe you don’t have to deal with this kind of stuff. For Miss Cotton Candy, this is just part of a normal day!

If you’ve been following along, you might remember that there was some friction between my sis and I regarding my engagement (she disapproves of my choice, she wouldn’t help him get me away so that he could talk with my parents, had no interest in seeing the ring, and then didn’t even mention it the first time I saw her after the engagement officially occurred). Is this ringing any bells?

So, imagine my surprise the other day when my cell phone rang early that morning while I was at work and it was my sis calling me. I warily answered the phone to find out that she was headed down to Austin for a conference and did I want to go to dinner that night. I was nervous (and skeptical, to be perfectly honest) but I agreed. Then I spent all day wondering if I should make an excuse to not go! Yep, that’s how I was thinking about handling it all!

Anyway, the evening finally rolls around and we end up meeting at Papasito’s for dinner. (I was pumped since trying to kill some time I ducked into my personal favorite of all retail stores (Target) and managed to score two nightstands that Mr. CC and I desperately needed that were what we’d been looking for the last few months, AND they were on sale!) So riding that high, I went off to meet sis for dinner.

First things first. She congratulated me on my engagement and asked a few questions regarding my plans and dates and venues and such. Not too many questions, but just enough to let me know that she was semi-interested. I should mention that about the time that she congratulated me on the impending wedding, a little alarm started going off in my head. Something like “BEWARE!” since I knew at that moment that there was probably an ulterior motive to this impromptu “visit.”

About 10 minutes into talks about the wedding, she got around to her point. Apparently she’s quit her job and she and her mom aren’t talking. I guess that I should backtrack for a moment and explain some of the afore-mentioned family drama. This is my step-sister. My dad married her mom when we were almost 5 years old, so this is in every way but the biological my sister and my second mom. Through thick and thin (most of it being strained) we survived our teenage years and have managed to remain semi-close. We’re not that close, most of it due to our growing apart after college and her disapproval at some decisions that I’ve made and her own growing outspoken-ness regarding those decisions. To me, there are just times in a person’s life when you stand by them. No matter what you truly think on the inside. And she was not only not there for me like that, but she was the one to ridicule me during those times. And she never apologizes for it, she does it all because she loves me and wants what’s “best” for me. I’m sure that you know people like this, right? I’m not the only person out there with people like this in their life…I hope not anyway!

Anyway, my parents own a company together and my sister has always worked for them. She’s never held a job for more than a month that wasn’t with them. And this is a stressful thing, because she doesn’t enjoy working for them. But she doesn’t want to go anywhere else. So once every so often, she quits, walks out, they don’t speak for a month or more, and then they offer her more money to come back and help them again. It’s a vicious cycle. So apparently, we’re on the down side of the cycle. And dinner is just her opportunity to tell me her side of the drama and get me on her side.

You see, picking sides became a popular thing in the last few years. As my step-mom grows older and in my own opinion, my sister gets worse, my aunts step in and help SM deal with sis. Thus, they firmly take SM side. And you know where that leaves me, right? You can balance out the equation, yes? Except what happens when I just don’t want to be involved at all? What happens when all that hear while she’s telling me this whole drawn-out story is that we’re doing this again? And all that I can think of is “I wonder if they’ll be speaking by the time that my wedding rolls around?”

And I suppose that my lack of concern or caring eventually showed. Mr. CC tells me that I’m not a good liar, so my poker face probably wasn’t working very well. She abruptly changed the subject back to my wedding and when I mentioned trying to book the DJ, her comment was (and I quote!) “So, you’re doing a dance and everything?”

Can you HEAR the disapproval coming through this blog???? Because it was there!

And I’m right back where I started with her…except that now we’re pretending that she’s on board with this marriage and the whole terrible scene at Thanksgiving just didn’t happen.

Gotta love family, right?

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Crazy Ways a Woman's Mind Works

So just in case you’re all wondering…I’m ok. Really. I just had a REALLY bad day the other day. You know the kind of day that I’m talking about? The one where on a normal day the fact that you can’t decide if you want a ham or turkey sandwich really isn’t a big deal, but on this one particular day, everything seems like the most ginormous decision that you’ve ever made?

I’m sure that you have, or for the sake of my own sanity, I’m gonna tell myself that!

So Wednesday was one of those days for me. But luckily, I’m engaged to the most wonderful guy ever. Mr. CC, although adding to my troubles the other day, grasped the situation and realized that I was just under a tremendous amount of stress. And without me telling him, he understood that his actions had only added to and magnified my stress level to the breaking point. (thus the tears all day long…)

And just like a good fiancé should do, he swooped in and helped save the day. He offered to help more with the wedding, including helping me make decisions that I know that he could probably care less about. But just being a sounding board for me really helps. He offered to call another caterer for me, and he also took care of booking the dj that we had heard about. After that was done, and the color choices were cleared by him, we tackled the house. We divided up the chores and came up with a game plan for keeping things under control so that neither one of us would feel like we were doing the lion’s share of the work. And bless his heart, he wanted to do it all that night so that I would immediately feel better…little did he know that just having a plan that we had committed to made me feel better!

Once I calmed him down and assured him that we could do a little bit each night to get the house in order, I took a step back and looked around. A HUGE weight had gone off of my shoulders, and I took a big deep breath. It’s true what they tell you – to relax a little, you just have to breathe…

By that afternoon, I felt better, was ready to tackle new projects and had a better outlook on the whole wedding process. I know, that this sounds a little crazy to any guy out there reading this, but just crying about it, and getting it off of my chest to someone who then turned around and offered to help, made me feel 110% better about the whole thing.

I just realized how lucky I am. He’s not perfect, and he knows it. But then again, neither am I. But maybe, just maybe….we’re perfect for each other. I love him more than I could have ever imagined loving someone, and I know that he feels the same way…even if I am controlling, neurotic and stressed out sometimes! I guess that’s what the part of the vow that says “for better or worse” is talking about, huh?

Have a great weekend! Talk to you next week! Oh, and enjoy Valentine’s Day – take a minute to tell someone how much you care, because even if you think that they know it’s still nice to hear the words every once in a while.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How do you correct what you don’t know how to fix?

This is a question that I’ve been asking myself lately. You see, there are times when couples argue. There are times when couples fight. There are always times when two people who are their own individuals don’t get along. This is to be expected, and should be not great shock when it happens.

What is shocking is when it continues to happen over and over….only not with the same two people. What if it kept happening with whoever you were with? What if eventually each partner that you’ve spent a decent amount of time in a relationship with complains about the same thing?

Sure, when you first break-up you can blame it on the other person. You might even be able to rationalize those actions when the second partner that makes the same argument. But after the third one? Who’s kidding herself now? I guess that would be me, party of one.

I think what is so hard for me to wrap my head around is the fact that I spent about a year in therapy after the end of my last marriage. There were many reasons for this. My ex had done a good number on me (verbally/mentally/emotionally) and there were some definite scars and wounds that needed healing. And I needed the help of a professional to get those healed. Another reason that I went the route of therapy was due to my own wish that I not repeat my past mistakes. A mistake is often a learning experience…you make the mistake, you live with the consequences, all the while hoping that you’ve learned your lesson so that the next time that you get the same opportunity you make better choices and don’t get back to the same place where you were.

Do you know what I mean?

So how is it that after nearly two years of blissful happiness, I’m faced once again with the same argument that others have given me? I did my time, I struggled through the hard therapy. I took the truthful look inside myself, accepted my faults for what they were and vowed to work on them. I did the labor, dealt with the grief, and moved on. I made myself a better person. A more loving person, someone that someone else would want to be with…

And yet now, right at this moment, I feel like I’m right back where I started from…I feel like all the work got washed away and forgotten, as if it was on a chalkboard and the janitor came by one day when I wasn’t looking and cleaned the slate. In some cases this would be a good thing. But in my case, I don’t really feel that way. I feel that the sneaky janitor didn’t wash it all off and give me a clean slate to start with…I feel like he washed off all of my hard work and notes that I took to help me not make those same mistakes again…which leaves me bare and empty-handed.

Damn that janitor!!! What did I do to him to make this happen?

Is it all just stress? Is it all just in my head? Am I making myself crazy with all of this wedding business? Is it work-related and once things calm down with my projects at work and I get on firm footing again with my job some of this will magically disappear? Am I just taking on too much at a time? I mean, in one month, I wrapped a big project at work, I moved out of my apartment and in with my fiancé, I started focusing on a new project at work, and started planning a wedding with almost no help or support from those that I care about the most? Is it just emotional trauma? Am I letting the problems that others might have with my situation get the best of me and kill my mood and confidence in myself and my sense of purpose?

Where did I take the wrong turn? Does anyone else ever lose their footing every once in a while? Does this mean that I have to start all over (to some degree) or did I just lose the path today? Maybe tomorrow will be a better day…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Am I Obsessed with Colors???

This is a question that I’ve recently been asking myself…which is shortly followed by an even bigger question…is this NORMAL for most brides? I’ve never been one to follow the strict code of what is most popular, but in this case I’d like to think that my temporary insanity is perfectly normal, and an affliction that hits most brides at the start of the planning process.

I mean, like I’ve stated in an earlier blog, the main problem is that I like too many colors. I like brown, I like black, I LOVE purple and pink, I think that green is pretty, but could also go with a deep navy color. Not to mention those nice fall colors that make such beautiful centerpieces that I’ve been seeing EVERYWHERE!

And that’s the real problem…once you start obsessing over these kinds of things, it just grows exponentially on you so that everywhere you go, everything you see reminds you of something that you saw somewhere in some bridal magazine that you probably paid too much for to just rip pages out of it anyway! ARRGGGHHHH!

Ok. I can do this. I can take nice, deep breaths that will calm me and settle my nerves. Breathe in. Breathe out. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

You see, last week I didn’t have all of this tension. I had decided upon my color scheme for the wedding, and I had even talked Mr. CC into a color that I was certain he’d have problems with. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly since I know that he just wants me to be happy with it all, that was a very easy decision for him to come to terms with. But then, over the weekend, I talked to some new people about the wedding and one of them didn’t like my color selection at all. And she was SO against it, that I started to doubt and rethink my whole vision.

It’s not that she’s against my choice, it’s just not what she would do. And that’s something that I need to learn to deal better with. It’s not a personal thing if you don’t like my color selection, you might simply not like the color purple (like in this case). That doesn’t mean that I need to question what I want, right? But you know, she had some good arguments for some other colors…and that brought up decisions that I had long since made, so that I’m rethinking those initial decisions too…what a mess!

I’m just a mess. There’s no way around it. And poor Mr. CC…he literally does NOT know what to do with me, or what the big deal is. He doesn’t get that I can’t move forward in my planning (or my envisioning) until this VERY important decision is made…and stuck with. I know that he’s wondering if he got engaged to a total wacky lady – he knows that I didn’t used to be this color obsessed…even if I have always been slightly wishy-washy…

I’ve made a deal with myself. I WILL make this decision soon. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon. Like within the week….or two…

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another Big Check off the To-Do List...

As you know, I’ve been busy! And I say that with a capital B!

It took us almost a week from the time that we viewed Texas Old Town to actually book the date what with all the complications that we ran into unexpectedly, but we’ve got it done now. I went out of town for two days last week on a business trip, but still managed to get the contract signed and faxed in to Danny German, manager of TOT, and secured the deposit funds for him. It was crazy to do that from West Texas, in between various meetings and question/answer sessions, but I did it.

Next up, I started finalizing the other vendors for the wedding. First up was our photographer. I had come across this fabulously talented photographer during an internet search one evening several months ago. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember if I found her website through or just on a general search for photographer…but find her I did! Her name is Christina Carroll, and I was blown away by some of the pics on her website. She seemed to have the laid-back, creative vibe that I was looking for in a wedding photographer, and I was quick to contact her with some questions.

You see, I don’t just want the standard canned shots on my wedding day. I want more. I want a unique perspective given to those shots, nothing too out there, but just more than the posed family portraits. I mean, I want those too…but I want some softer, romantic shots for us. You know what I mean? And when I ran through the gallery offered on her website, I was hooked – truly in love with her work and level of talent.

Being that it was early October when I found her shots, I stumbled upon the quite brilliant idea to set something up with her to do a photo session with my daughter and I for some family Christmas presents. I thought that this would be a great way for me to meet her, interact with her, see if I liked her and her work, and pretty much just make sure that my gut instinct that was telling me to book her for the wedding was right on. And you can always tell more about a person from the way that they interact with kids, right? Right.

She was more than happy to set something up with me and work around MY crazy work schedule, and we finally settled on a date at the end of October for the pictures. She had great suggestions for where to meet (I wanted outdoors) that met our needs and gave me some helpful wardrobe tips too. She was on time and professional, and my daughter and I truly enjoyed the afternoon that we spent with her.

I have to admit that when I booked the session, I was a little concerned. it was a nice chunk of change for me to pay, but would be more than worth it if she was half as good as the pics on her website told me that she was. And I have to admit, I owe her money! That’s what a FANTASTIC job that she did. (Not that I really owe her money, I just mean that I should have paid more for what I got back.)

She gave us three or four hours for the shoot, two different locations, and we did three different wardrobe changes. My daughter and I honestly felt like models. We were a little camera shy at first, but Christina made us feel relaxed and welcome, and before long my daughter was being the ham that she normally is when there is a camera around. Christina was great with her, and there were SO many shots that she captured that just define my daughter in the picture. Do you know what I mean? It’s hard to capture someone’s personality with a photo camera, but somehow Christina did it time and time again by catching looks that my daughter does that define her and who she is.

I truly adore the pictures that she did, and my family LOVED them to say the least when Christmas gifts were opened. Not only did she truly capture some great shots of me and my daughter, but she gave me so much for the money that was paid. On top of the time and patience that she gave working with us, Christina provided me with three disks that housed ALL of the pictures that she took that day. I have all rights to those pictures, so printing them was a snap. It was SO easy to work with her, and if there is anyone (not just brides) looking for a photographer in or around the Austin area, I would HIGHLY recommend Christina Carroll Photography. (I put a link to her website there – you can view her photos or visit her blog that show sneak peaks of recent shoots that she’s done…)

I had last spoken with Christina about the wedding early in December right after the engagement. I had asked about her availability in October/November and she was pretty open at that time, but warned me that after the wedding show in January held locally in Austin, she was expecting to get booked. Never dreaming that it would take us nearly two months to select the venue and actual date, I was sweating a little bit about whether she would be able to still do the photos of the big day.

So you can imagine my happiness and joy that I felt when I emailed her about the date and got her reply back that she was still free! (I was so happy that I started yelling YEA! in the car while my boss and I were travelling between Odessa and El Paso...I have to say that I nearly scared him to death!) But all's well that ends well, right? We didn't run off the road, and Christina now has me penciled in our her calendar to do our photos.

Wedding/Reception Venue...CHECK!

Two big items off of my to-do list....I feel like I'm making a little bit of progress!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Making a tough call...

So we did what any self-respecting couple would do. We took a day or so to weigh our options. We talked through all of the scenarios that I had envisioned as a couple, and made our decisions once we had all of the information at hand that we needed in order to make that decision.

This, of course was done AFTER I had consulted two of my closest friends for their advice first…don’t hate me honey! A girl has to talk things through with another girl (or two) before she comes to you…that helps eliminate options. Because even though it was presented to you with just four options of what to do, there were actually 7 or 8 things that could have happened. I just did the hard work of eliminating the REALLY far out ones first!

So what that being said, Mr. CC really shocked me with the option that he chose.

Mr. CC and I agreed to simply change the reception hall that we had selected and stay with TOT and our original date of October 24th. I was really worried about us selecting this option for several reasons. The main thing that worried me was that this wedding isn’t just about me, it’s OUR wedding, and Mr. CC’s initial reaction upon walking into Redbud Hall just kept standing out in my head, the immediate “No, this won’t work” kinda leaves a lasting impression on a girl. I know that a lot of grooms out there aren’t concerned with the details, but as long as Mr. CC is showing interest in the details, then I want to include him as much as possible and this is a big part of the overall wedding/reception.

But when we sat down and talked it through, Mr. CC was quick to assure me that his initial reaction was based on the size of the hall alone. He thought that it was too small, and this could be for several reasons.

One – he’s right, it IS the smallest hall that TOT has to offer. With a max guest count of 160 (with a dance floor), Mr. CC is worried that we won’t be able to invite all the people that we want to have there and still have room to breathe.

Two – it didn’t show well. The hall still had tables and chairs set up from the last party that had been held there, which took up some the viewing room. I know, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, there will be tables and chairs out in the room during our wedding/reception. You’re right. But when you’re just viewing a venue and both of the other halls have tables and chairs out of sight or pushed back along the wall, it makes a difference in the overall impression.

Now that I knew what the worry was, I could set about seeing if it was justified, which meant going back to the rough guest list that I had put together several months ago. This was something that I had not previously gone over with Mr. CC, so it was a good exercise to sit down and do. I made a database with all the names and contact information that I had of everyone that I thought that we would invite to the wedding. Along with this information, I put in a head count of both adults and children, and then totaled it all up neat and tidy at the bottom. I then applied what I’m hearing is a good rule of thumb for invites, 75% acceptance rate, and got a good guesstimate at the attendance for our wedding/reception.

Mr. CC’s biggest worry was that we would have to leave some people uninvited. But as it stands today, our guest list it right at 160 people (children included) and if only 75% are able to come to the shindig, then that puts us at around 120 on the big day. Which is more than enough room for Redbud Hall.

With that worry relieved from his mind, Mr. CC was MORE than happy to go ahead and go with Redbud Hall. We know that there will be some additions to our guest list as we remember people (family) that we’ve “accidentally” left off…and that’s ok. Heck, if everyone shows up, then I’ll rent some extra tables and open the doors wide and throw all the kiddos outside….as it stands today, there are 39 of them on the guest list…and let’s be honest – they’d have more fun outside anyway!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Which Option to Choose to Still Get What WE Want?

After the shock wore off, and we were able to think clearly – meaning past the emotional disappointment of not having things work out the way you had it all planned – we looked at the situation from a step removed.

It was important for us to acknowledge that things weren’t going to be what we wanted originally, unless something changed. I mean, let’s be honest. When things don’t work out and you fall back to Plan B, something has to give. So, we quit dwelling on what wouldn’t work and started looking at what would work. What could we change in our plans to still get us the wedding that we wanted?

From my perspective, there were several options open to us:
1. Change the Venue – maybe do some research into another facility - one of our runners up. Maybe they would have some availability still in October that TOT didn’t have.
2. Change the Day – not just picking a different date, but look into doing a Friday or Sunday wedding. That opened up the calendar back at the Tejas Hall at TOT.
3. Change the Date COMPLETELY – go with an all new time frame period. Look at getting married around holidays to make the Friday/Sunday option work for us, in a different season all together so that the weddings don’t collide.
4. Change the Hall at TOT – the smaller hall, Redbud Hall, had every Saturday in October open for rental, but Mr. CC didn’t like this hall as much as the Tejas Hall.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t really excited about option #1. I didn’t want to choose another venue, I LIKED TOT. And the difficulties of being about 9 months out from the proposed wedding date at other popular choices in the Austin area would present with the same problem – they would already be booked. Which meant that I would have to go off of the beaten path a little bit to find somewhere else that WAS still available, and to be perfectly honest, I had spent countless hours doing this research months earlier and didn’t jump at the thought of starting over on it all.

Option #2 didn’t appeal to me either. I liked the fact that the wedding could cost less, since the rental rates for Fridays/Sundays are generally cheaper, and the practical side of my nature really liked that! But it presented a logistical problem for me specifically. My family and most of my friends that will be invited all live out of town. And not just like an hour or two away, they’re all at least 3 ½ hours away, some closer to 4 ½ hours away from the greater Austin area. Mr. CC’s family all live within the metro area of Austin for the most part, and only a few friends would make making the trek in from out of state, so it didn’t matter to them what day of the week we picked since for them it would mean several days off of work anyway. But for me, asking my family and friends to take not just one day off of work, but not TWO days off of work was just more than I could imagine. I know that they would probably be here no matter what day I chose, but I’d like to make the decision to attend as easy as possible for them – which means sticking to a Saturday.

I actually liked option #3. I decided that the Sunday before Memorial Day would be a fabulous time to do a wedding. It would be on a Sunday (cheaper rates) and the next day was a holiday for most people, so no worries about missing work for my traveling family and friends. The down sides to us picking that time were plenty, though. It was REALLY soon, for one thing, and my work schedule is jammed packed up through the end of April. (One small dilemma.) The end of May in Texas is just hot and sticky and can be completely uncomfortable. Mr. CC wasn’t thrilled about a tux/suit in the heat of May, and this was I think the driving force behind his dislike of my winner of an idea…

That really leaves us with only option #4. I didn’t want to be the one to suggest this to Mr. CC, though. I had already dealt with things not going the way that I had planned in my head, and didn’t want Mr. CC to have to do a similar thing. He really LOVED Tejas Hall, so me asking him to go to the smaller Hall which he walked into and immediately said NO, was just more than I could ask of a fiancé. This wedding isn’t just about me and what I want, but about us and what WE envision for the ceremony that marks the start of our life together. So I couldn’t ask that of him.

I did come up with one other solution, but the planning involved in it would have been SO tricky and convoluted that we didn’t consider it long. I considered booking the weekend before their wedding (Nov 7th) at the Tejas Hall that Mr. CC loved so much and then making our honeymoon be somewhere on the West Coast. That way, on our way “home” we could make a stop in Southern California for our friends wedding. Seems like a good solution right? Right. Until you consider the logistics behind all of that, and not knowing yet when they need the best man there, and if they would be able to attend an out-of-town wedding the week before their wedding. Not to mention that would mean that not only was our wedding planned around their wedding, but that would extend into our honeymoon time as well, and it might be cut short due to obligations for Mr. CC’s friends’ wedding. So that option was quickly ruled out as well.

I mean, really, what’s a girl to do? Were there other options out there that I might have overlooked in my haste to get something decided before those dates were booked too?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's HARD to pick a date!

Don’t you just hate endings that are anticlimactic? I do. You sit there patiently through the entire two and a half hours of an action packed movie, and then the ending stinks. It just wraps up neat and tidy, or worse, doesn’t wrap up at all! (At least with that option, there’s a chance at a sequel if you liked the first one.)

That’s kinda how the drama to us picking out our favorite reception hall played out when we went to sign the contract and select our date. All this hype and excitement builds up, and drama and emotions get involved and then…POOF! It’s over. Done.

So here’s how it all happened. You remember where we left off, right? Tejas Hall was our favorite choice of the three reception halls that Texas Old Town had to chose from. Now it’s time to sign the contract and pick a date. Back when we first got engaged, I had traded several emails with the manager of TOT and found that October 24th and 31st were the only Saturdays available in October, but that November was completely open for booking a Saturday wedding at any of the halls. Great news, right? Right.

But fast forward to last week. Now it’s been almost two months. Do you think that those dates are still open? Nope. They’re not. (Well, that’s not entirely true. Halloween is still an option, but I just can’t wrap my head around getting married on Halloween, so that’s out. FH agrees.) But all Saturdays in November are open for Tejas Hall. So we start looking at November. I’m a little concerned about the weather in November for an outdoor wedding. Yes, there have been times in years past that I’ve still been on the lake in early November, enjoying balmy Texas weather, but that’s just the thing about Texas weather. It’s SO unpredictable.

So I’m going back and forth between early November and late November, when all of a sudden a thought hits me. Mr. CC’s best man got engaged over the Christmas holidays, and they were talking about an October wedding. So I check with Mr. CC to see if he heard if they had picked a date yet, just so we didn’t pick the same date, as Mr. CC would be returning the best man honors for his friend’s wedding. While Mr. CC leaves his friend a voice mail with the question, we tentatively settle on November 14th.

I’m ok with that date. It doesn’t jump right out and grab me or anything, but it’s an ok date. I’m weird, I know.

But all hell breaks loose the next day when our friend returns Mr. CC’s call. Turns out that they wanted to get married in this one particular place in California that has deep meaning to them as a couple and him as an individual. With that being the case, had to work around their venue’s schedule. And the only date that the Missions had open was….yep, you guessed it – November 14th!

We were SO bummed. I can’t even begin to explain to you what this did to our mood. Totally killed it. I mean, picking the 14th of the month to get married really blows the whole month for you. Now we can’t pick the week before (Nov 7th) since we’d still be on our honeymoon, it can’t be the same weekend (one is in Texas and on is in California), and we can’t choose the weekend after (Nov 21st) since they’ll still be on their honeymoon. You can see the difficulties that we were dealing with, right?

You think that it’s not that big of a deal, you just move your date. But when you get your heart set on something, a vision of how it’s going to be, and then things just don’t fall into place to make that happen, it requires a shift of perception. I had already dealt with this a little bit, if you remember from an earlier post in dealing with family members, but this is a new thing for Mr. CC. And let me assure you, he was just as upset about it all as I was. Not mad, upset. Just disappointed. Happy for his friends, because they got something that they really wanted and he understood what it meant to them to get married at the Missions, but disappointed that them getting what they wanted means that we have to shift our wedding perception a little bit to accommodate.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Three Halls....Three Choices...Our Favorite...

Texas Old Town has three reception halls, each with their own ceremony site provided as part of the rental. They are, Redbud Hall – seating a max of 160 people, Tejas Hall – seating a max of 550 people, and Sage Hall – seating a max of 320 people. And the prices vary based on the number of people and the hall chosen. Tejas and Redbud Hall both rent for the same amount and seat different numbers of people. Sage Hall, which seats fewer people than the Tejas Hall, rents for a higher rate.

This was all VERY confusing before seeing things in person. Now, after touring the place with Mr. CC and Danny German, it all makes perfect sense. So I’ll do a breakdown of the halls, their high points and their low points in my mind and then FINALLY put you out of your misery and tell you which hall we liked the best!

Tejas Hall
This is the original structure on the ranch, and is the older building found. It was designed and mostly built by hand by the founder of Texas Old Town several decades ago. It is a large hall that seats up to 550 people without a dance floor, it has a stage, kitchen area, food service area, bar, and bridal and groom dressing rooms located on the upstairs level. In keeping with the true Old Texas feel of the place, the restrooms are located outdoors, but real plumbing is installed, with a private bathroom in each dressing room for the wedding party. The hall has a “barn-like” feel to it, with gorgeous rafters and wooden beams supporting the entire structure. The area is open, in that it’s all one big room, but there are support beams throughout that somewhat divide the room. All tables and chairs are wooden and the tables themselves were crafted by the owner, so they are all originals. They vary in size and style, from picnic style with attached benches to 4 and 6 person tables. Everywhere you look is wood, wood floors, ceilings, walls, tables, chairs and roof. It is warm and inviting, and the beams that interrupt the flow slightly naturally mark off the best area for the dance floor. The ceremony site for Tejas Hall is located at the back of the hall, a short walk along a slightly wooded path. The ceremony site is cleared out, and the trees are not as full back there to provide full privacy, but the backdrops for the site more than make up for it, as the rolling hills come into view.

Redbud Hall
This was the second structure built for the property. It was originally a covered patio, that was eventually enclosed and furnished. It follows the same basic layout of the other hall, with an entirely open floorplan, which makes it warm and inviting. There are more windows to this area, giving the entire building an overall cottage feel to it. The kitchen area and food service area and bar are all located at one end of the building. There is a stage area, and the restrooms for this hall are located inside the hall. This hall only seats a maximum of 160 people while still leaving room for a dance floor, which makes the overall feel of this hall a bit more intimate than the larger Tejas Hall. This builidng also comes with dressing rooms, but they are located in the adjacent building that also houses the offices for TOT. The hall is also wood everywhere, which gives it a rustic charm and since it is smaller, it seems to have a cozier feel to it, like I mentioned earlier. Here the tables are round tables, standard for most venues, with wooden chairs to accompany. The private ceremony site for this hall is located just across the drive from the hall and is heavily wooded. As you walk into the clearing, you do get a sense of being off in your own private world, which is just what every bride would want for her wedding day.

Sage Hall
This is the most recent structure added to TOT. When Danny told me that it was designed specifically for weddings, I didn’t truly understand what he meant until I saw the hall myself. This building has been added within the last two years or so, and was built after TOT got involved with the wedding business, and was designed just so. The hall seats up to 320 people with a dance floor. Just like the other facilities, there is a kitchen, serving area, bar area, restrooms and dressing rooms for the bridal party. Unlike the other facilities, all of this is located in one building. The dressing rooms sit above the bathrooms and kitchen area, on the opposite end of the building from the stage and dance floor area. Like Redbud Hall, the tables here are round standard tables, with wooden chairs. The building lacks some of the warmth and character of the Tejas Hall, but makes up for it with a more refined sense of rustic elegance. For Sage Hall, the ceremony area is located right next to the building, and features a brook running through the area, complete with a bridge for the wedding party to cross to get to the ceremony site. A wooden arbor completes the backdrop, and a fence along the back provides privacy and a serene feel to the ceremony site. I can easily see why brides book this hall in a snap!

Each hall also comes with its own parking area and attendant to be the “gatekeeper” between halls. There was some concern with the Tejas Hall and Redbud Hall being located so close together, but with the outdoor stage area separating the two areas, and the ceremony sites for each hall being so far away from each other, I think that the concern of not having your “own” site falls out of concern very quickly.

So knowing all of that….Mr. CC fell in LOVE and I do mean capital L, capital O, capital V, capital E with the…..TEJAS HALL!! The character and charm and overall vibe to the hall meets and exceeds our own expectations for our wedding to a T! With that being said, there are some challenges that I can foresee working with this hall, but for the most part they can all be easily worked around or overcome with a little creativity from the bride and groom.

I’m SO excited to have a venue that I cannot contain myself, and I’m really relieved that Mr. CC likes the place so much too. It means a lot to me that he’s so involved in the whole process….just one of the reasons that I’m so lucky!