What's better than getting a monogram for your special event? You can give your wedding the seamless...
Bridgewater Place courtesy of Applause Catering. This is ghe ground floor. The piano is to the left of where this photo was taken. It's looking up at where the reception room is located - in the upper
Bridgewater Place courtesy of Applause Catering. This is a view from the back of the reception room looking out at the big window facing the river.
Bridgewater Place courtesy of Applause Catering. Just another view of inside the reception room.
Noto's taken from their Facebook page. The main photo is $9,000 room - beautiful!
Noto's courtesy of notosoldworld.com. This is a photo of their basement wine cellar that can be used for receptions.
Noto's stair case. Photo by Terpstra Photography.
I would just like to say that first and formost, I had the most amazing weekend this past weekend. It was my first time out and about doing bride stuff. My mom, step-dad and brother came up from Indiana and they, plus my fiance and his parents, looked at a couple of venues with me.
We had been planning for a long time to use McFadden's Irish Pub as our reception venue. I went to a reception there and it was nice. I checked their prices and they're awesome. But as our plans become more concrete - and our guest list grew - it just wasn't going to be big enough.
HUUUUGE dissapointment. I thought I had it all figured out and it was back to the drawing board. I'm also very indecisive so of course I have to look at everything and figure out how much each of those places cost. It's exhausting (and I'm still not done). While my parents were here this weekend we had the chance to look at 2 of the spaces that we were interested in.
First is Bridgewater Place. The location is PERFECT. It's right on the Grand River and has giant walls of windows that overlook the Grand Rapids skyline. When we first walked in, the room was MUCH smaller than i was anticipating. But the coordinator said it will hold up to 220 people and we are only planning on 125. It was set up for 144 while we were there and there was plenty of room. They also allow use of their Atrium for cocktail hour and there's even a piano on the floor below we can use at no additional cost.
They also don't have decorating restrictions which is AWESOME. Every other venue I've looked at won't let you put stuff on the walls or ceilings (no tape) but Bridgewater doesn't care as long as they can't tell it was there when we leave. The only negative aspect I can find to this place is that it's more money than I expected to spend. If I wasn't so worried about money, I'd have booked it then and there! I'll have to continue to consider the cost and weight that against the benefits of the space.
The second venue we looked at was Noto's Old World Italian Dining. It's a restaurant that has an entire wing dedicated to events - as well as a beautiful wine cellar that can also be utilized. It's gorgeous but in a different way than Bridgewater was. Whereas Bridgewater is more metropolition, Noto's is very, well, old world and just classy in an old Italian country kind of way. They have 4 different reception spaces. When we spoke to them over the phone, a room for a wedding our size had a $4,000 food minimum but no room rental which was RIGHT in our budget.
There is a gorgeous staircase that is able to be utilized as well. We were first shown the most BEAUTIFUL rooms of which I have included photos from their Website. But when she told me that the one room had a minimum of $9,000 - I almost died. The wine cellar room is even more (but so worth it if you can afford it). The room that we could afford was pretty blah. It was a green and purple banquet room. What we're really hoping for is a space that isn't just "banquet hall" and has a charm and beauty on it's own that won't require tons of covering up. The space at Noto's that we could afford just wasn't it.
So after leaving those 2 venues, Bridgewater is the clear favorite of everyone who was there. However, I'm the girl who has too look at every store when I want to buy a shirt to try them on and then go back and buy the one I like the best. Shopping for wedding venues isn't going to be much different. There are some venues I didn't think we could afford so I never really considered, but they may now be in the running :)
Up next...WEDDING DRESS!
I have now attended my first two bridal shows ever - both within a month time frame. This is a huge feat for me because
A lot. People who have no regard for those around them irritate the fuh out of me. When I got engaged I wasn't really interested in bridal shows. I mean, that's what the internet is for right?
After countless Google searches for photographers and DJS I kept coming up empty handed. It was the same people coming up over and over again who cost a bazillion dollars and I just couldn't find any I was interested in. A coworker who is getting married invited me to a bridal show with her so I said...what the heck.
It was actually a really good experience. I got a lot of information from vendors I hadn't found online. There were so vendors: wedding dresses, caterers, bakers, venues, photography, limo, dj, weight loss, sex parties... EVERYTHING!
What's also super cool is that most of them have give aways too if you put your info on a paper or a card and they do drawings. I actually won a couple of things!
So. What have advice can I give my future bridal show bound brides?
-Address labels: I had read this online so I printed labels the night before. Terrible idea. I couldn't get the template to work and it was frustrating and stressful. Print them a couple days before. Also, don't do what I did and buy return address labels. They are too small and you can't fit enough information unless you print 2 different sets. Most vendors who have drawings what your name, address, phone number, email, and wedding date.
-Speaking of email: Make an email address JUST for the wedding. These people do these giveaways and gather your info so they can spam - I mean email- you later. You don't want your regular email getting bogged down and some that you want may auto filter into spam. It will be easier to find these if they aren't mixed in with all the other spam you get too.
-Wear the best most awesome most comfiest shoes you can. My feet were KILLING me by the end of each show. That shit is tiring. I came home and needed a nap both times. I'd also recommend coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
-Be weary of the free vacation offers. I did not know this going in and just signed up for every contest I could find. I mean free is free...right? Well not quite it turns out. The vendors that were "giving away" vacations weren't travel vendors at all. They actually sold really expensive kitchen equipment. They call you and tell you that you've been chosen for this awesome package to go different places --- but you have to go to some convention for an hour and a half at a hotel to listen to them pitch their $400 frying pans, with no obligation to buy (but they sure do push REAL hard) . You get free HOTEL accommodation, but still have to buy your flight, plus give them like a $200 deposit up front. I decided not to bother going. One was Bella Bridal Network. The other was Dinner for Two. My friend said she would go so if she does, I'll ask her how it was.
- The aisles clear out as everyone goes to watch the fashion show. This is prime time to make your rounds (unless of course you want to watch the fashion show).
-DON'T FEEL PRESSURED TO BOOK. A lot of the vendors will offer discounts if you sign up that day. I could never decide after 5 minutes with someone to book them. I hated that and at first felt flustered and pressured because I wanted a good deal but I didn't want to sign up right then. A lot of them go to multiple bridal shows so I may be able to catch the same deal at a later time.
- And finally, figure out some kind of way to take notes. You'll meet with tons of people. And you'll think you'll remember who was who and who had the giveaway in two weeks or a discount deal. You won't. I learned this after the first show. For the second show I brought a pen and when I got info from a vendor I would jot notes on the paper or the card. If I didn't like them, I would make a note. If I entered a contest for half off, I wrote it down (might as well wait to book to see if I win!) I then went home and organized it all into my binder.
So what did I win???? I won $200 off a DJ - for a price of $500 which is awesome - but they wanted it booked in a short period of time and I wasn't willing to do that. What I'm really excited about is that I won....3 cheesecakes!!!!!!!!!!! We planned on doing cupcakes but having cheesecake to cut for us and the bridal party. I can order it any time sooooo - free wedding cake!!!!!!!!!
Any one else have bridal show tips? I'm going to another in February!!! lol
It happened you guys. I cried. I got so overwhelmed with the thought of just exactly how much money our wedding reception will cost that I just broke down and had my very first bridal meltdown.
Our ideal wedding will be in downtown Grand Rapids. Something I'm really not interested in is a generic banquet hall. Because our wedding is on the smaller side, we can afford to splurge more on our location because we don't have to worry about feeding 250 people.
Without going into too much detail of venue choice yet, the number was astonishing. I hadn't sat down yet and determined how much to spend on this or that simply because I don't know how much those things cost. If I want to be completely honest with myself, it's probably more because I don't want to know.
So after calling and pricing out the first venue, which is RIGHT on the Grand River with a SPECTACULAR view of downtown, we came to about $7,500 including room rental, booze and food.
I cried. I just couldn't take it and I cried. $7,500!!!!!!!! That's a lot of freaking money to feed people! Thank whatever deity or non deity you choose for my mom because I just couldn't take it and had no desire to look at budget anymore and had written that venue off as unattainable.
My mom, ever being the rational one, ignored me and crunched out numbers to include photography, decorations, dj, and gifts and when she gave me the COMPLETE number...it calmed me down. Somehow I assumed that because the reception was $7,500 the wedding would be like $15k or $20 k.The number she gave me was about $11,00 - which isn't much over what I know that I can I save. That didn't even include her contributions. I felt as though I could breathe again.
Then my scrooge step dad came home and my mom ran the numbers by him. My huge worry is that we'll cut it so close to the budget that something unexpected will come up and we won't be able to pay for it. I love my step-dad. He's so awesome and said not to worry about it. If something came up I just need to tell him and he'll write the check.
Somehow knowing that my step-dad was ok with all of those numbers just calmed all of my nerves and *most* of my worries. He hates spending money but knowing that he's ok with my decisions and plans just puts me at ease.
My other big thing is that I feel like I should be able to pull this off for less. My sister has twice the guests and her budget is about $15,000 or $16,000. I feel like since mine is smaller, I should be able to do it for wayyyyyy less. But as my mom pointed out, we have different options and completely different feels.
So now that I've worked through "the meltdown," I"m starting to feel excited! I haven't been this excited since the first night that we became engaged. We are 20 months out and now we can start making actual decisions. I'm also so excited that I can have the kind of wedding I want when I always thought I'd be too poor for anything other than a courthouse wedding.
Thanks mom :)
Waiting for the excitement
Im having some minor engagement woes folks due to the nature of a long engagement. I feel like Im not even engaged sometimes and its kind of bumming me out.
After we became engaged I realized very quickly that there was no way in HELL that we were to going to have enough money in one year for the kind of wedding that we both wanted. A 2 year engagement was the only way to avoid a wedding that would exclude many of our very good friends. As a matter of fact, its actually going to be a 2 ½ year engagement. Another big reason is that my younger sister is getting married next summer. It is truly important for me to not take any of her spotlight during this time,
Whats bumming me out is all of these other friends I have getting engaged and having all these fun things to do and parties thrown in their honor. They have outings and fun events. People are excited and it's this exciting whirlwind of a time full of planning and stress and fun. I read wedding articles and blogs and boards and everyone talks about enjoying this time of being engaged when everything is about you as a couple and you as a bride. Youll never get it again so take it all in and enjoy it.
I dont have those feelings. When we first got engaged - my fiance actually gathered all of one group of our friends together to announce the news and it was so much fun! After we told another group of our friends they made us a cake to celebrate and it was soooo sweet. Now that my wedding is so far away its kind of like nobody really cares. My family of course does care and the focus is absolutely on my sister and I wouldnt have it any other way but even amongst my friends theres just no excitement now 8 months after we got engaged.
I feel bad for feeling like that but I do and there have to be others out there too. I also know that it's MY wedding and noone is going to care about it way I do it's dumb to "expect" things. I know that will change as the wedding gets closer but its hard to not feel like theres some magic thats just missing.
I feel like I'm being kind of bratty and I don't mean to. I don't feel like people need to be throwing us parties and sending us stuff - it's more an internal thing. I know this will change as the date gets closer and I actually form my bridal party so we'll have things to do together and what not.
Did anyone else have feelings like that? When did that change for you?
Trying not to freak out!
As with most things, there's a good side and a bad side to having a long engagement. For instance, a good thing is that I have a lot of time to explore my options and don't need to rush into any decisions.
The flipside to that coin is that while I have a lot of time to troll the internet for inspiration and ideas, the budget isn't always on my mind because well - I'm just looking, not buying yet.
I decided to run a rough estimate of the numbers for our ceremony and reception with just the essentials: fees, gratuity, taxes food and booze and my total was about $6100 for 100 people.
That number really isn't bad. We're lucky to have so many options that won't cost an arm and a leg. And yet I still had a panic attack. I will be able to save only $8000.00 over the next 2 years.
GAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. Add in a photographer that we were planning on spending $2000.00 on and my whole budget is gone. No decorations, no gifts, no hair and make up, no invitations or programs. Nothing. And I am FREAKING OUT.
Now this number is a little misleading. My mom is helping purchase A LOT of items and I'm borrowing some from sister. There's at least $1500 more my mom has committed to helping with but I don't know if that counts the little things she's buying on the way or not.
What I think is the most frustrating is that I have this concrete plan of what exactly I'm saving. I ask my fiancé what he can contribute and he gives vague answers about how he has this check coming or the number of weddings he's shooting next year (he's a wedding photographer!) but doesn't give a concrete answer. And I can't in good faith take such vagaries into the budgeting. I also feel like it's way to early to already be having nightmares about paying for the wedding.
Sigh, is anyone else already overly anxious about the budget when your're not even close to getting married yet? How did you get a concrete plan? Any and all tips are appreciated!!!
Part 3: Le Fin
After my fiance and started openly discussing becoming engaged and getting married I was overjoyed. If you remember, I had begun convincing myself that it was never going to happen. We went ring shopping so I could pick out what I liked (that's will be for a different post!) and I was so excited.
At this point, I knew that it was coming but honestly it could have been at any time. I really wanted it to be sooner than later of course. I spent about a week or 2 diving into wedding land. I suddenly felt like I had permission to start looking at wedding ideas and figuring out what we may want and it was awesome! However, I started growing impatient.
It may still have been a year or two before we actually got engaged but I tried not to think of it like that. I was torn between wanting him to ask at that moment or waiting longer so it would definitely be a surprise. This was, however, also about the same time of our 3 year anniversary.
We love sushi and he wanted to try a new sushi place that he had heard good things about. I got home from work and we left for our anniversary dinner. I noticed a bulge in one of the side pockets of his cargo pants (I know where your mind went there!) and I immediately got excited...could that be what I think it is?!?!?!?! I pushed the thought aside, not wanting to set myself up for disappointment.
But wait, why is he holding his hand over the pocket? That's kinda weird. No Shawna, don't even think it.
We get to the restaurant and sit down. Now my (then) boyfriend is definitely behaving oddly. He's anxious and finicky and he has this anniversary card but he refuses to give it to me. What the ??? I'm getting excited now. Is he going to get on one knee in the restaurant? He keeps trolling me with this card that he won't let me read. We finish our food without incident. No proposal.
Could I have been wrong?
We get back to the apartment and my boyfriend says that I can have the card now and has me sit in one of the computer chairs. I'm sitting and reading the card which is a very sweet anniversary card and on the back of it is a series of post-it notes on which he had written various messages to read through - like a flip book.
The last post-it was adhered to the back of the card. I pulled it up and the card said congratulations on your engagement :) I looked down and my boyfriend was on one knee hold the ring that I had picked out - it was totally in his pocket the whole time!!!! I was so happy that I just sat there looking at him and he asked me for my answer. I said he hadn't asked me yet...but he did, I was so elated I didn't even hear it!
So he asked me again and of course I said yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He said that he planned to do it in the restaurant but it was busier than he would have liked so he waited until we got home.
The best part is that he had gathered all of our friends together at another friend's house so we could go and let them all know at the same time and celebrate. It was so sweet that he wanted to immediately share the good news with everyone. Only a couple of people knew but most had guessed. I hid my hand at first so people couldn't see the ring. Then when our good friend Justin was nearby I grabbed a beer and started drinking it purposely with my left hand.
"This is really good beer." I said. He replied with a, "yeah, I know" and gave me a weird look. I kept talking about how this beer was so awesome and that he should look at it but it took him about 5 minutes to notice the ring. It was hilarious. And then we spent the night with our closest friends in celebration of our engagement.
It was awesome <3
So when I left last time I was concluding that there came a point when the topic of marriage was unavoidable. More accurately, I should say there came a point when I simply couldn't hold my tongue anymore.
Several of our friends purchased homes last spring. My boyfriend told me that he thought we should start saving to buy a house.
Queue awkward moment. I immediately froze up. I had no desire to buy a home with him as boyfriend/girlfriend. My response was, "Well that depends."
"On what?" my boyfriend asks.
There wasn't much more discussion on the topic after that. I blame the fact that he was drinking;) This was a very awkward silence for me. I had so much to say but was to scared to say it. Then a couple weeks later we were having drinks at a friend's house. And as we all know - alcohol tends to bring up buried emotions.
I wasn't into the hangout much, my thoughts were weighing me down. And like the amazing man my fiance is - he noticed and wouldn't leave me alone until I told him. And MAN did those flood gates open!
I spilled ALL the beans. How I was terrified we were never going to get married and how much I really wanted to get married sooner than later because I was already approaching 30 which can limit our options for a family as well. I expressed my concern that we already share almost everything together and I just couldn't buy a house with him until we got married. I expressed my fear that he was never going to want any of these things which made me fear that things with us could never work out.
And that man, who I seriously love, turned all of those fears around. It was almost like this light switched on for him (or maybe for me?). He said that he was definitely going to marry me and really wanted to...but wasn't sure what kind of rings I would like.
WHOA! This is a big turnaround from what I anticipated. We started openly discussing marriage for the first time and talking about we wanted. We even took an afternoon to go ring shopping so I could look at rings and pick ones that I liked. Can you believe I've never looked at rings before!
Now this also means that the proposal wasn't entirely a surprise. I mean it was...but it wasn't. I knew officially that it was going to happen but I had no idea when. It could have in a week or a year. However when the day came that he was going to ask, I could just tell. But it sweet none the less.
Part three, the final piece to come! I swear, it's the last bit.
Impatiently Patiently Waiting
I've always known that I wanted to get married. I didn't really care about kids or what I would do as a career but I ALWAYS knew that I wanted to be a wife. I wanted to share life's myriad experiences with another. That to me made life worth living.
I have a confession. I was TERRIBLE at waiting for my fiancé to propose. By the time we became engaged we had been together for 3 years. In that time I watched several of our friends who met, courted - yeah, I said courted - and got engaged in the same amount of time we had simply been dating.
I have another confession. I'm a bad sister. Ok not really, but I felt like one. When my sister became engaged in December 2011, my first thought was of course happiness for her. This thought, however, was fleeting. I then felt immediate sadness followed by tears for which I locked myself in the bathroom to shed. I felt terrible for being selfish at such a wonderful time for my sister but it was SO hard emotionally. I was so beyond ready to get married and I felt it was never going to happen. Seriously, I thought I would never ever get married. And I couldn't let my fiancé see it because I didn't want to guilt him into marriage. I wanted him to want to be married. At this point both of my younger sisters got engaged before me...as well as several friends.
I was terrible at waiting. I was ready but didn't know how to approach the subject without seeming like I was demanding he propose to me. Mike has a bad history with marriage and it put a bad taste in his mouth. He knew I wanted to get married one day because I made it explicitly clear. But it was also a touchy subject. We split up for a month previously because he got scared and I didn't want to scare him again. It was at that point that I stated very plainly that I wanted to get married one day and if he wasn't ok with that then we can't be together. Obviously he was fine with that as we clearly continued our relationship.
There came a point when my desires and his desires came to a head and the topic was unavoidable. I will save that for next time. Spoiler alert: it all worked out wonderfully!
Ove the last 3 years I have gained about 70 pounds. I don't know why - clearly I know how: eating too much. But I've been struggling a LOT trying to lose even 5 pounds. I joined a weight loss site (it's not free) that sets the weight loss up in stages and goals. The final goal I needed to meet before moving to the next stage was to lose 5 pounds.
Finally, after about 2 months...I DID IT!! I started 202.8 pounds...ended up getting up to 204...and now I'm down to 197.8. So in reality...I've lost 6.2 pounds! And that weight loss I achieved in about a week and half :)
I'll share what I did later. But for now, I have to go to work!
From Japan, with love
I am feeling super impatient right now! I am waiting for my next batch of origami paper to come in (from Japan) and it's not here yet! Gahhhhhhh I'm anxious!
One of the DIYs I am doing for my wedding is making our ceremony backdrop. As of right now we plan on getting married on this big blue pedestrian bridge in the middle of downtown that goes across the Grand River. I am making 1,000 origami paper cranes to string together and hang from somekind of rope across the bridge. It will be really cool looking but as a bonus, supposed if someone makes 1000 cranes they are granted a wish.
I'm very excited this project and it's a piece of cake to finish because I have so much time before the wedding. I've made 76 so far while I'm at work or watching TV.
Every time I get paid (every two weeks) if I'm done making the cranes with the paper I have, I order a new batch. I ordered this batch from an Etsy seller in Japan a week ago and it isn't heeerrrreeeeeeeeee.
I know it will get here...and it's not going to be speedy because well, it's being shipped form Japan. But that doesn't stop from anxiously waiting for the mailman every day!