Honeymoon Planning

The tickets have been purchased…we are officially going to Italy!

We started talking about where we might like to go last year.  We knew for sure we were leaving the country.  Neither of us have ever left North America so we had to apply for passports. I looked up all of the information online and filled out our paperwork. We went into the Post Office about a half an hour before they closed.  There were literally no other people inside besides the employees.

I barely had the words out of my mouth that we’d like to apply for passports when the lady proved the USPS’s quest for complete uselessness and she said that we needed an appointment for that.  She dismissed us and I said “uhhhh can we make an appointment then?” “What date and time?”  “Thursday at 2pm.”  She seemed so bothered as she pulled out some personal appointment book and wrote our appointment down in pencil.  It was like I had time warped back to the 1950s.  “Okay you’re all set for 12:30.”  “Well that’s not the time I said.  The time I said is 2pm.”  I know the USPS hates me as much as I hate them.

At our scheduled appointment I pulled out all of our forms to be mailed.  I had typed most of it but filled in a couple of answers in pen that I didn’t have the answers to originally.  I handed over the forms and she said “This can’t be in blue ink.  Has to be black.”

I’m pretty sure she made that rule up but she literally handed me all of my stuff back like I wasn’t about to get my passport and tried to get ready for the next person.  I grabbed a black pen and re-wrote over the information and shoved it back to her.  No fucking way was I coming back a third time.  She accepted our forms and took our birth certificates.  I wasn’t aware that you had to mail your original b.c. with your forms and they mail it back to you but thankfully we received our passports and our certificates back without a problem.

My first choice for the honeymoon was Greece but Joey was worried about the “civil unrest.”  He really wanted to go to Italy and it didn’t take much to convince me.  Who doesn’t want to go to Italy?

Rachelle referred me to her friend who has been to Italy a few times and got married there.  He gave me a rundown of some major cities and the pros and cons of each.  Between the info he gave me and researching online, we ultimately decided to go to Rome, Florence and Venice, with most of our time spent in Rome.  I also wanted to visit Lake Como but it’s going to be pretty cold in northern Italy during that time so we opted out of it.  George Clooney will just have to get along without me!

Originally we were planning on flying into Venice, then taking the train (Europe apparently has an awesome train system) to Florence, then down to Rome and leave from Rome.  This did not turn out to be feasible because one way tickets to Italy are almost as expensive as round trip airfare.

We considered using a travel agent but for some reason most of the agencies here don’t do European travel, and the one we spoke to that does said that they don’t really save you any money but offer guidance navigating, so we decided to book all of the details on our own.

The process has been grueling.  Finding an affordable flight without multiple stops or a super long layover time proved to be tough.  We ended up booking through Expedia.  If you’re just booking a flight I would recommend going straight to the airline but since we were doing a flight and hotel package it ended up being much cheaper through Expedia.

I’ve been looking up tours and day trips at viator.com.  It seems to have great reviews and I am all about experiencing as much as possible!  One of the more annoying things I have encountered while planning is when I am looking for the best things to do around the country and there are lists that say “watch the sunset” and “take a walk.” WOW I was not going to do those things until you told me, thank you for the helpful guide!

If you’ve ever been to Italy I would love any advice or input!  I can’t wait!!!

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The WIC

When I first got engaged my mom’s coworker referred me to the site A Practical Wedding.  There, you can find real brides blogging about all kinds of issues.  Some you will be able to relate to and some will make you thankful and appreciative when you’ve been a real whiny brat about things that really aren’t that serious.  It’s a site that will make you feel all kinds of things from reflective to compassionate to downright pissed off for your fellow brides.

Along with blogs from brides, there are also blogs from the staff.  They answer difficult questions and write blogs of their own relating to weddings, marriage, and families and everything that comes with them.  Mentioned various times throughout the site is the acronym “WIC.”

WIC stands for Wedding Industry Complex.  Meg, the Editor-In-Chief of A Practical Wedding, explains the two aspects of the WIC.  One is the Wedding Industry itself and the other is the Societal Expectations of a Wedding.  As vulnerable brides we are all being manipulated to conform to what the Wedding Industry and Society tell us are the things we need in order to throw a great wedding.

As soon as you mention the word “wedding” people within the industry begin to salivate because they can jack up the price, knowing that you will most likely pay it.  I just booked our limo to take us around Detroit for photos in between the ceremony and reception.  The max time we need is two hours and yet the cheapest limo I could find was $400.  Funny how the price was very similar for 6 hours when I needed a limo for a party.  Kara and I went to a couple bridal salons looking for a dress for her daughter who will be our flower girl.  Kaydence will be a year and a half old at the time of the wedding and it was almost impossible to find a dress her size.  I didn’t realize that flower girl dresses can take 3 months to come in after being ordered or else I would have just gone on Etsy ( I mean, come on ) and started looking for one there.  We didn’t have time to waste to try ordering dresses from Etsy that we couldn’t see in person so we ordered from a bridal salon.  The dress ended up being more expensive than the bridesmaid dresses.  When I was telling Joey about the price he didn’t flinch but instead said “Yeah, because how many times are you going to order a flower girl dress? They need to get as much money out of you as they can.”

There are some things that whether society cares or not I think are a “must” just because of my personal beliefs and taste.  However, as I plan my wedding I do find myself thinking about what people are going to think and say about our wedding and it has come into play during the process.  But really…who cares?  It should be about you and your significant other and it should be exactly how you want it.  You want to serve pizza for dinner?  Go for it.  You want to buy your dress from a department store?  Cool.  You’re getting married at your house?  That’s awesome.  What the industry tells us are the things that we have to do are completely fabricated by the Wedding Industry in order to suck your wallet dry.  While we are all affected by it somewhat, especially when parents are contributing to the problem, it’s important not to lose sight of what it is you really want.  In the years to come the only person who will be thinking about your wedding day is you and your fiance, and you want to be sure it was exactly how you wanted it to be.

Tuxedos

Joey and his groomsmen all went to Men’s Wearhouse in Novi to pick out the tuxedos.  If Joey didn’t have a good sense of style I would have gone but I trusted him to pick something dapper.  They made a day of it and after the tuxes were chosen went out to eat and then out for wine and cigars while I was at home painting the kitchen like some kind of chump.

While I do not take it to the same extreme, I am my mother’s daughter and I ask a lot of questions.  I need to know the 5 Ws & H, and when it comes to weddings, if I don’t get these answers I immediately freak out.

“What day are the tuxes due back?”

“He didn’t tell me.”

“Why is the pick up the Thursday before the wedding?  That’s not enough time if they fuck something up.”

“That’s just what he wrote down.”

“He wrote this pick up thing out for November, not October.”

“Oh…well he said October.”

“Why are measurements due in June?  That’s too early.”

“He said you could get remeasured.”

“Until when?”

“Not sure.”

Therein lies the major difference between Joey and me.  I have to know everything about everything and he’s cool with the information someone offers.  Obviously I immediately made plans to go to Men’s Wearhouse and straighten this all out.  I got the pick up moved up one day and the drop off got moved one day later because they had them due back the day after the wedding, and I also had her put a note to allow measurements through August.  I picked out our ring bearer’s tux while I was there.  It was crazy busy in there because it is both wedding and prom season right now and you HAVE to make your voice heard.  They talk over you and half listen so you need to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.

Back to the kitchen renovation.  We are redoing our cabinets and painting the walls.  If you’re ever like “I’m gonna redo my cabinets myself!” I’m gonna stop you right there.  Sanding, priming and painting sounds easy enough but with cabinets it takes ten times as long and there is nowhere to walk or cook because wet cabinets are drying on every flat surface available. We’ve been working on it almost every weekend for a couple of months now.

There is a silver lining for a home project during wedding planning; you have something else to focus your energy on.  I would never take this on a month before the wedding or anything but we are still a few months out and it has been nice to have responsibilities other than strictly wedding duties.

We have officially ordered our invitations and sent over the guest list for printing on labels so we should be able to see them very soon!  Retyping every person’s name and address into a specific Excel format was tedious but I guess not as tedious to me as it was for Joey to read off the addresses to me as he acted like he was dying during the process.  Make sure if you are using labels for your invitations to print the list and cross reference to your guest list to make sure you didn’t leave anyone off.

In other news, Rachelle sent out my shower invitations!  Very exciting and moving very, very fast.

 

Traditions & Trends We’re Skipping

Joey and I are both very non-traditional people.  We are getting married in a casino, we bought our house together when we were 19 & 20, and we dated for 11 years before getting engaged.  We don’t follow rules for the sake of following them.  While some of what we are doing with our wedding is very traditional, here’s a list of things you won’t see.

1) A Photo Booth:  Photo booths at weddings seem to be the hottest trend.  While their presence at weddings doesn’t bother me, it’s not something that he or I would ever have at an event.  I’ve heard “the photo booth was the best part of the wedding!” one too many times…if someone said that about my event I would have a meltdown.  I want everyone on the dance floor and socializing with each other, not waiting in line to take “funny” photos that you now see at almost every wedding.

2) The Garter Dance/Toss:  First of all, I wouldn’t subject Joey to that.  Also, isn’t that awkward to do in front of your family?  And finally, I don’t want to wear a garter all day.  It’s gonna be hot as hell in my dress as it is.

3) The Dollar Dance: I didn’t even know what this was until recently and I wish no one ever told me and I could go back to a simpler time where I thought that it didn’t exist.

4) Multiple Wedding Dresses:  I understand the concept behind them when you want a dress that you can dance easily in, but it’s not something I’m interested in doing.  I’m only getting married once and I want to wear the dress for as long as I can.

5) A Naked Wedding Cake: Because they are stupid.

6) Music Requests: The reason for this is twofold.  First, Joey and I are both really into music and we don’t listen to a lot of music that is popular right now.  Everyone will know and love the songs that we have chosen to play (several hours have gone into carefully selecting the playlist) but I know inevitably someone would request a song I hate, and I could only put so many Bruno Mars songs on my “Do Not Play” list.  Second, when we went to watch our DJ at a wedding, there were people coming up and putting in requests.  A couple of my favorites: Linkin Park, and “that three doors down song.  I don’t know the name of it but it’s really sad.”  The playlist is CRUCIAL to the vibe of the party and I will not allow it to be placed into anyone’s hands but ours. The songs must be DANCEABLE, not just a song you happen to like…but no one is going to be thinking about that except for ME.

7) Music Fake Out: The bride and groom are having their first dance, and then everyone thinks the music cuts out, but really it’s a ruse and the bride and groom start doing Thriller or some other coordinated dance.  Except it’s not a ruse because it’s been done so many times.  It was funny and cool at first but not so much anymore.

8) Wedding Programs & Favors:  Because it’s one more thing to worry about and pay for and no one will miss them.

I’ve been feeling a little bit better this week.  I’m plowing through my list like a boss.  After three proofs our invitations are on order.  Kara, my mom and I went shopping for bridal jewelry and I’ve got some Badgley Mischkas coming in the mail this week.  Getting closer!

Flowers & Fonts

Have you ever spent 20 minutes searching for the perfect “J” font?  Welcome to my personal hell.

We had our third meeting (why are there so many?) with our stationery designer to go over all of the changes that I wanted because as I have said previously I am mentally unable to just look at something and say “yep that’s good!”  I brought in my printed out pages of the proof with my changes as well as a bunch of Indian food stains on the front… keepin’ it classy.

We are trying to use a design on our invites and the one she chose we didn’t like…so she still has to send me some designs to look at before we can finalize this whole thing.  I am not exaggerating the time we spent choosing fonts.  I would not rest until the perfect fonts were chosen.  Joey’s facial expressions seemed to range from annoyed to angry to completely apathetic.  I was even annoying myself but I knew if I just picked one that I wasn’t totally happy with it would be all I would see when looking at the invitations.

I also had a follow up meeting with my amazing floral designer Bill.  He had pulled a couple of photos off of my pinterest and then found a couple photos himself to see what I like and what I don’t.  FYI I don’t like a lot of things, generally.

We went over the budget and confirmed quantities…then he just looked at me and was like “Is that it? No questions?”  Nope.  I’m not a very creative person so photos of what I like and what I don’t are about as far as I can take it.  Modern, clean, glam.  That’s about as much as he could get out of me.  This is how I know I am not a bridezilla.

I bought a veil.  Ladies, you will save a lot of money if you get one without beading.

We are now 5 months out from the wedding and I am starting to get anxiety.  About money, about all of the things I have left to do, and about things that haven’t even happened yet but I know WILL stress me out eventually.  My calendar is filling so fast with events and it makes me very uneasy.  My new thing is when I lay down that’s when I start thinking about all of the things that could go wrong.  It’s a great way to not get any sleep.

Next up on the itinerary is finalizing the invitations and placing the order, ordering linens (that I didn’t know we needed until now…), booking the limo, and oh yeah, planning the honeymoon.

Food Tasting

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I haven’t blogged in about a month because I have had to mentally push away the fact that the wedding is fast approaching in order to maintain my sanity.  My cat started having urinary issues and ultimately had to have emergency surgery.  Between cleaning up after all of his accidents, driving him over an hour away to have surgery that I wasn’t sure he would make it out of and then keeping him separated from my other cats for two weeks, and, oh yes, paying the $1300 bill, I was at a breaking point and just pretended that I didn’t have anything else to worry about.  The positive thing about being ahead of schedule with wedding planning was that I was able to take that time away without getting behind.

We had our food tasting at MGM and it could not have gone any better.  I have eaten at the restaurants in the casino but the event chefs are different so we were basically at their mercy.  If the food wasn’t good, we would be stuck with it.  Fortunately every single thing we ate was delicious. Great food is a must so I was very relieved.

Joey and I were able to invite a few guests to the tasting but had to give the number of people attending ahead of time to the coordinator so that they knew exactly how many plates to serve.  If you know me then you know that not one thing in my life ever goes exactly how it is supposed to and inevitably I get stressed out and start panicking.  In true Jessica Williams fashion, at the last minute there was a change up of people who would be attending so I was scrambling to find someone.  It ended up working out but the 24 hours up until then were not very enjoyable.

The chef came out in between each presentation and explained exactly what we were eating.  If you’ve ever watched Top Chef, it was exactly like that.  The chef that prepared our meals will be the same chef working our wedding so we were able to ask him questions and know exactly what we would be getting that night.

We started with the hors d’oeuvres.  We had selected six options ahead of time and after tasting had to choose four.  Something that we had to take into consideration is that people will not have plates for cocktail hour and therefore the items we chose had to be easy to eat without one.

Next we tasted the salad, and then the entrees.  They presented a plate to show us exactly how it would look the night of the wedding and then we all had smaller (but still large) portions.

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Lastly, we tasted the cakes.  We chose three combinations to taste and mixed and matched until we decided exactly what we wanted.

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I was absolutely stuffed by the end of it and I didn’t eat half of the food in front of me.  On the other hand there was not a single scrap left on any of Joey’s plates.

It was nice to get back to wedding planning with such a positive day.  Joey has already asked if we could have another tasting if we said we couldn’t decide.

The Proposal

I just learned 10 seconds ago that today is National Proposal Day.  The only one of these types of days I have celebrated before is National Nacho Day and it was glorious, so why not celebrate today with the story of how Joey and I came to be engaged.

When you’re with someone for as long as Joey and I have been together, you have (or if you haven’t, you should be having) several conversations about the future and what both of you want.  We both wanted to marry each other but understood that we would be paying for a vast majority of everything ourselves, meaning that a wedding would have to wait.  A lot of people would ask us when we were going to get married and what we were waiting for.  I didn’t really think it was anyone’s business but people just looove to be busy bodies.  Though we have been together for so many years people should really take into consideration that we started dating in high school.  There is no way I would have been ready to get married when I was 21.  At the time I thought I was good to go but I am so thankful that we waited until now.  I just don’t understand the rush?  There’s no reason for it.  I’d rather learn about living with someone, weather all kinds of hardships and understand what marriage is going to be like before signing up for life.

Because of the nature of our relationship, an engagement was not going to be a surprise.  I found a ring online years ago that spoke to me.  We went to a jeweler in 2012 and tried it on and I was really disappointed when the band didn’t look right on my hand.  It was way too delicate and you couldn’t even tell there were diamonds on the sides because they were so tiny.  I didn’t hear anything more about it for another year.

In May 2013 we went to the Virgin Islands for our 11 year anniversary.  I felt pretty confident that Joey was going to propose on our anniversary, but throughout the entire trip he acted completely normal, so I started to think that maybe I was mistaken.

The day before our anniversary, we visited Coral World in St. Thomas, where we got to go into a pool with 200lb rescued sea turtles (Joey’s favorite animal), pet them and learned all about their stories. 

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After that we went to the seriously beautiful Coki beach next door and snorkeled for a few hours.  It was a really fun day.

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We ended the night with a late dinner at Old Stone Farmhouse, which is exactly what it sounds like, on top of a mountain.  The restaurant has no doors so once in a while you get a nice breeze from outside.  (http://oldstonefarmhouse.com/)  It’s a fancy restaurant where you can go in the kitchen and see the chef preparing food.  In the kitchen the walls are filled with couples’ names. 

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We took a couple of photos inside, and then the waiter asked if we wanted to take any photos in their courtyard.  I was like “no that’s okay,” but Joey said “Yeah let’s take some more pictures!”  I was thinking to myself, why does he care about pictures in the courtyard?  The waiter took one photo, then Joey said “the next one better be a good one” and got down on one knee and proposed. 

I was seriously shocked.  I had not been bracing myself for a proposal the day before our anniversary!  No matter how long you have been dating and whether or not you are expecting it, you cannot prepare yourself for a marriage proposal.  It is a very overwhelming feeling.

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Joey had the ring custom made to be exactly how I wanted it. I couldn’t stop staring at it for the next two days.

Calling/texting everyone from the islands proved to be really exhausting!  I suggest getting everyone together and announcing it rather than go through every person you want to tell individually.

I wonder if people thought we were never going to get married at all.  I sometimes considered the option because I love my life the way it is, but I know that if we decided to stay together without ever getting married that something would be missing.

So that’s our perfect proposal story, and that’s as sappy as I’m ever going to get.

Finding a Wedding Officiant

It’s been a long, weird road, but we finally have our officiant booked.

The search began about 6 months ago.  I was feeling overwhelmed with planning and assigned Joey the task of finding a wedding officiant.  Our only requirements were that they perform a non-religious ceremony and that we could write our own vows.  For us, our wedding will be a celebration of our relationship and a commitment to the future with each other.  I thought I had given Joey the easiest task available.

He contacted Denise at Perfect Day Celebrations.  He asked her to email us specific information.  She only sent us some information he had asked for and not all.  We agreed that when people don’t follow simple instructions that it could be a bad sign.  We decided to contact someone else.  For reasons unknown it took Joey a couple of months to find another officiant.  He set up a meeting with Eileen from Down the Aisle Ceremonies.  She sent us a form to fill out about each other to bring to our meeting.  The day before we met, she emailed him to confirm that we were still meeting.  It annoyed me that she lived in Milford and would not meet us halfway.  We live in Livonia, and with the bad weather, it took us about 45 minutes to get to Milford.  We arrived early and waited in the parking lot of her husband’s dental practice.  We waited about 15 minutes past our appointment time before we left.  No call, no show, never to be heard from again.

I was eager to get this task over with but the holidays were quickly approaching, so we decided to wait until after New Year’s to meet with another person.  In January we met with a guy who was just way too big of a weirdo for my taste.  I’m weird and I like weird but this was just over the top.  He felt the need to tell us about his kidney stones for about 20 minutes, and when I tried to change the subject to wedding talk, he interrupted me and said “hiiiiiiiii.” ??? I swear this shit only happens to us.  After the second time he said “hiiiiii” I was pretty sure this guy was going to kill me later.  We were running out of time for this particular task and I was so worn out by the process of finding someone that I still thought about hiring him.  I told Joey that I would sleep on it and when I woke up the answer was a very firm “No.”

I found a group in West Bloomfield who will perform the ceremony for the low, low price of $800.  HAHAHAHAHAHA bye.

Exasperated, I weighed my options.  I know two people (plus Joey) who are ordained and could technically perform the ceremony.  Could I trust them to run a dress rehearsal and get our marriage license mailed?  No.  I considered asking our best man’s mom to become ordained and perform the ceremony because she means a lot to us, she is responsible, and she works at a church so she would probably be familiar with the order of the processional.  As I was researching how we could get her ordained if we asked her, I came across information that stated that a person who is Catholic may not become ordained by a non-Catholic church and may not perform a ceremony for non-Catholic people.  Do you notice how much work I have been doing on a task that I gave to Joey?

We contacted the original person, Denise, to see if she was still available on our wedding date.  She asked for the time of our ceremony because she had a wedding scheduled for earlier in the day already.  “I will get right back to you.”  Never heard from her again.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE??????????????  These people are not to be left to their own devices!  Running an efficient business isn’t for everyone, clearly.

Finally, before I committed an act of violence on someone, we were able to meet with Danealle from Ceremonies of Love.  She was nice and she likes to write so we booked her right away.  The process has been a complete nightmare and I am so thankful it is over.

Stationery Drama

I was unaware that there could even BE drama regarding paper products, but apparently I was just too green to the issue.

I had been eyeballing the Vivian Elle website since before I was engaged.  I loved the modern style of the invitations.  Joey and I met in November with the owner, who is married to someone I went to school with.  I asked to see some samples of invitations and she kind of shocked me when she only brought a couple of invitations with her.  Her reasoning was because the invitations are completely custom…but how am I to make a decision without looking at all of the options?

I knew going in that I wanted a “pocketfold” invitation so she only brought those to show us.  She had us choose the colors that we liked from her color wheel.  She seemed nervous but was nice and punctual.  I loved the work that I had seen thus far and so we decided to book her after she provided us with a quote.  I mailed her our deposit check.

A couple days later, she emailed me saying that the color I had chosen for our RSVP envelope was not available in the color that I had chosen and apologized for the oversight.  I was a little annoyed but changed the color and moved on.

A couple of days after that, she sent me another email stating that the actual invitation envelopes didn’t come in the color that I wanted either.  I was pretty furious at this point.  I happen to think that if you are paying the extra price for custom invitations that you should be able to get whatever color you want.  I called Joey to bitch about it and he told me to ask her if she could order the envelope custom to the color that we wanted from her wholesaler.  She didn’t even know the answer and said that she would get back to me.  The next day she emailed me with the custom price, which I said that I would pay.

Her third email, which was the last straw, was a list of the colors that I wanted…and the color was wrong.  I have no idea how she got it wrong considering she was writing down everything that we were saying that we wanted.  I thought about it and realized that I just could not trust her to get the invitations right.

I emailed her and stated all of the problems, and that she should mail me my deposit back.  She responded by saying that I was totally right and that she was “incompetent with this project” (her words, not mine) and that she hadn’t cashed my check yet because of it.

The owner of Vivian Elle had showed me which paper company she used for her products, so I just went to their site and picked another vendor.  I found Custom Paper Works, whose website showcased some great work.  I emailed the woman and asked to set up a meeting.  She flat out refused to meet with me in person.  I’m sorry, you want me to spend over $1,000 with your company and won’t give me an hour?  I don’t think so.

By this time I was getting pretty perturbed because it had been over a month trying to find a vendor for this.  We ended up going with R.S.V.P. in Plymouth, which has a storefront where you can get a mimosa for your initial meeting and they have tons of options to look through.  I will say one thing that I wasn’t expecting was that upon our second meeting when we were going over wording, she expected me to know how I wanted to say everything.  I thought I would be receiving a little more guidance, but that’s really the only negative I have to say thus far.  They are very professional and on the ball.

Fast forward to January when we decided to use Minted for our Save the Dates.  Minted allows you to customize the placement of the text on the template that you choose.  I spent a long time figuring out where exactly I wanted everything to go.  When my proof was ready for viewing, the text was not where I had placed it.  I edited where I wanted it again and sent them a note telling them not to change anything.  Second proof…exact same problem.  You couldn’t even read the text!  They had white text spilling over onto a white background.  Tell me how that’s going to work out.  I finally made Joey call and complain and the next day the proof was how I wanted it.  The paper quality was good and the envelopes were nice so I’m happy with the end result.  I just wish it wasn’t so difficult to reach.

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Photo by Jeffrey Lewis Bennett