OOT Gift Bags

One of the first things I knew for sure when I got engaged was that I wanted to make OOT (out-of-town) gift bags for our guests staying at the Stirling Guest Hotel (reception venue) or the hotel where we have a block of rooms.  I started planning what to include in the bags very early on.  At this point, about 2 1/2 months from the wedding, I have them almost ready to assemble!

First I bought the actual bags.

Gift Bags

Gift Bags

Next I got local maps and a city guide put out by the local chamber of commerce.  I think our guests will find those things helpful during the wedding weekend!  One day, as I was exploring the amazing website that is Etsy, I found a seller who made custom labels for water bottles.  My  mom loved them so much she offered to pay for them, so they went into my shopping cart! I also found cute door hangers on Etsy and purchased them.

Door Hanger

Door Hanger

Aren’t they adorable?

I then put some local chocolates in little cellophane bags tied with ribbon.  And I purchased small bags of pretzels, individual-serving Pringles containers, and granola bars.  Finally, I created a welcome letter….well I actually made three different versions of a welcome letter, depending on whether or not the guest was invited to the rehearsal dinner and whether they were staying at the Stirling or at the hotel.

All that’s left to do is assemble the bags and deliver them to the hotels to hand out as our guests check in!  I’m so excited for everyone to get their goodie bags and think it’s a great little gift for all the family and friends who are traveling to attend our wedding.

What do you think?  Am I missing anything in my OOT bags?

Mothers’ Dresses

One more thing is checked off the wedding to-do list….both my mom and Scott’s mom got their dresses!

First to shop was my mom.

We started at the mall and found a few nice dresses.  I didn’t take photos of the first few.  Then we found this one.

Option 1 Front

Option 1 Front

Option 1 Back

Option 1 Back

We all liked it but Mom wasn’t convinced it was the one so we went to Alfred Angelo, where I got my dress.  She tried this on.

Option 2 with Long Skirt

Option 2 with Long Skirt

We loved the fabric and the color, but that skirt just wasn’t cutting it.  It was too frumpy!  Then the sales lady found a pencil skirt.

Option 2 with Short Skirt

Option 2 with Short Skirt

Isn’t that pretty?  She decided this was the one, only in a slightly lighter color.  It’s called Wild Orchid and is just a tad more lavender than burgundy.  It’s more of a spring color than this darker purple.  (I think the collar part of the jacket needs to be folded out a bit more than in this pic.)  She placed the order and now we wait for it to come in!  Luckily it doesn’t need much in the way of alterations because it’s going to get here with not much time to spare!

Next was a shopping trip with my future mother-in-law, Scott’s mom.  A posse including me, Scott, his mom, Scott’s sister Karla and her partner Kira started at David’s Bridal.  After a few nos, she tried this one on.

Dotte's Dress

Dottie's Dress

We all just loved it and knew it was the one!  Dottie needed some convincing but eventually realized it was perfect.  Look at that smile!

So the two moms will be in complementary colors and both are in flattering styles for each of them.  Success!  I’m so thrilled that this was pretty painless for all parties and that both moms will be comfortable and beautiful at the wedding.

Possible Readings

I am almost at the 4 month mark till the wedding and things are happening like crazy!  Tonight I have turned my thoughts to the possible wedding ceremony readings.

We are planning on having my sister’s husband do one reading, since he’s been like a brother to me for over 10 years, and Scott’s sister do another since they are very close.  These are the three readings I am trying to choose between.

Velveteen Rabbit

1.  Excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Robert Fulghum

2.  Union by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married,” and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same. For after today you shall say to the world – This is my husband. This is my wife.

 

Kahlil Gibran

3.  Quote by Kahlil Gibran

You were born to be together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in your silent memory.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heaven dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bondage of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not of the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping,
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in shadow.  – Kahlil Gibran

Do any of you have a preference?  Did you use any of these in your wedding or have you heard any read at a wedding you’ve attended?  How did it go over?

Eight-Course Dinner

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my fiance and I will be getting married in May 2012.  Our reception is being held at a gorgeous old mansion called the Stirling Guest Hotel.

Reception Venue - Stirling Guest Hotel

This place started life in 1892 as a home for the Sternbergh family.  Mr. Sternbergh was an iron and steel magnate in Reading, PA.  The home was a private residence for the family for over 100 years.  After the last Sternbergh daughter passed away, the home was sold to a hotel entrepreneur who turned it into a 15-suite guest house.

Stirling - Another View

Events at the Stirling are catered in house, so Scott and I were anxious to taste the food and decide what we want to serve at the reception.  The only problem is, they don’t do tastings.  If you want to sample their food, you have to pay to attend a special dinner there.  They have these 2 or 3 times a year so Scott and I signed up for the November 8-course dinner and I wanted to share the deliciousness with you all so here goes!  Hope you’re ready for lots of pics and descriptions!

Scott at the Stirling

Of course the place looked beautiful.  There were lots of candles and we had a small table to ourselves overlooking the porch  There was also a trio playing music for the 100 guests.  Very fancy!

Course 1: Amuse-Bouche

We started with an amuse-bouche.  In case you aren’t as obsessed with Top Chef and those sorts of shows as I am, that is French for “mouth amuser” and is a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre.  According to Wikipedia, it is a “little tingler for the taste buds both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.”  Our amuse-bouche was a piece of seared ahi tuna with lemon caper sauce on a crostini.  Now I am not a seafood eater.  I just never learned to like much fish or shellfish.  So I was a tad afraid to try this but I had made myself a promise that I would try everything we were served.  And surprise, this was really good!  We were off to a good start.  Next!

Course 2: Egg Cocotte

Next came an appetizer.  Our server called it an egg cocotte.  (I’m not positive about that spelling!)  It was a poached egg with a little pancetta and some leek sauce or soup.  I can’t quite remember which.  It sounded odd but it was probably my favorite course as a whole.  It was quite breakfast-y, especially because pancetta is just Italian bacon, but it was simply delicious.  I could have eaten three of these!

Course 3: Soup Duo

Course three was a soup duo.  I am still not sure how they created this moon shape with no dividers in the bowl but it was so cute!  On the right was curried crab and on the left butternut squash.  I tried the crab soup and just didn’t care for it.  I am not a crab fan.  However the butternut squash was amazing!  I scooped that right up and then passed the crab to Scott who said it was yummy.

Course 4: Salad

Next up was the salad course.  It was probably the least exotic of all the dishes.  It was some baby arugula, candied walnuts, grapefruit and gorgonzola drizzled with a white balsamic vinaigrette.   It was fine.  This was nothing special in my book.  At that, we were halfway done!

Roll

We were then each brought a warm roll fresh out of the oven.  While not technically one of the eight courses, it was wonderful!

Course 5: First Entree

Course 5 was the first entree.  Yes, I said FIRST entree.  There was another one coming but you’ll have to wait for that one.  This entree was a duck ragu over a black garlic and rice cake, a pierogi with Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted shallots over bok choy and a little truffle oil, and a gooseberry compote.  I love duck so I was excited to try this.  It was pretty great, as was the pierogi.  The bok choy was just – meh.  And the compote was good but we weren’t sure what we were supposed to dip in it!

Course 6: Intermezzo

The Intermezzo came next – an orange cranberry sorbet to cleanse our palates.  This sounds great, right?  Not so much.  Neither one of us were fans.  There were tiny pieces of orange zest in the sorbet which made for a weird texture.  This was our least favorite course of the night.

Course 7: Second Entree

Next came the second entree.  This looked so delicious that I was partway in before I realized I hadn’t taken a pic!  So I’m sorry for the not perfect photo!  This was a roasted beef tenderloin with some fancy onions and wild mushrooms in a sauce that I later learned was a veal sauce, a diver scallop with white grape sauce, and a roasted mini zucchini, starburst squash and another mini thing in pepper sauce.  Let me tell you, that beef was out of this world!  It melted in our mouths and the sauce was amazeballs!  I don’t eat mushrooms so I just scraped them to the side.  The scallop was ok but I knew Scott would appreciate it more so I let him have what was left after I tasted it.

Course 8 - Dessert Sampler

And last came the dessert sampler.  I won’t lie – I had been looking forward to dessert since we had signed up for this meal!  We had three desserts to sample – a Kahlua creme brulee, a crepe stuffed with goat cheese and cherries, and warm bread pudding with chocolate ice cream.  I’ll start with my least favorite here – the crepe.  It was a bit chewy and goat cheese just isn’t my idea of dessert.  So I took a bite and left the rest.  I am a huge bread pudding fan so this was wonderful!  I just loved it.  But the best thing we had that whole night was this creme brulee.  I swear I had died and gone to heaven.  It was the best creme brulee I have ever had in my life.

And we were done!  We were stuffed but not painfully so.  Each course had been small so we had room for it all.  And after three hours we were both exhausted and so pleased with the results!  While we didn’t love everything we had, we left there knowing the chef certainly has skills and that whatever we choose to serve our guests will be great and served with class and style.  The night was a success!

The Six Month Lull

This Saturday, November 19th, will be the 6-month mark until my wedding day and while that sounds really close, I am currently experiencing a lull in wedding planning.  I have my dress, my sister/MOH has her dress, I have a wedding planner, I have the church, pastor, organist and vintage hankies for guests’ “tears of joy”.

Hankies

I have the amazing reception venue,

Reception Venue - Stirling Guest Hotel

I have ordered the cake and booked the photographer, DJ and florist.  I have my hair appointment and makeup lady scheduled.  I have created a very cool photo guestbook using our engagement photos.  I found an antique cake topper and an old teal case that’ll be our card box.  I have started collecting various things to decorate the reception venue with.

Bud Vase Collection - Just a small portion!

 

And I’m working with a friend to design the invitation suite which is almost totally done.  And now I am not sure what’s next!  I feel at a loss.  It’s too early to plan the rehearsal dinner or get the guys’ suits.  It’s too soon to start dance lessons.  What should I be doing?!

I need to find shoes and jewelry, and find a travel agent to book the honeymoon.  But I’m not feeling the urgency to get these things done.  What else should I be working on?

 

Besotted Blog Giveaway

In my search for ideas and images to create the perfect wedding, I have become something of a blog addict.  (Not to mention an insomniac.  It’s 2:36 am as I write this post!)

One of the blogs I follow is called besottedblog.com.  This morning I found such a lovely giveaway I just had to blog about it myself.  Here’s the original post:  http://www.besottedblog.com/2011/09/besotted-brand-sneak-peek-pretty-parcel.html

She’s giving away beautiful little packages that contain notecards, a stamp, and who knows what else!  Not to mention the wooden box is too much.  Just check out this amazingness!

I would appreciate if you would follow her blog and enter her giveaway since she apparently spent a bajillion dollars on the cardstock!  Now it’s back to bed for this bride-to-be.  6 am is coming quickly!

STDs Are Done! (No, not that kind.)

Our Save The Date magnets, which I ordered from Vistaprint what seems like months ago, arrived this week causing me much excitement! Along with my return address stamp which I ordered from Etsy, I think they look fabulous, don’t you?  They were designed by my co-worker/friend and I just love them.

STD Magnet

I blocked out my address and the website URL for privacy.

So after a little tweaking of our invite list (something I seem to do constantly these days) and two trips to the post office, I was ready to stuff these babies!  My mom stayed after work to help me and within 30 minutes we had 60 STDs ready to mail.

Mom Working Hard

Stuffing Party

Now I just have to take them to the post office for hand cancelling, which the post office guy recommended.  I can’t wait for our guests to get these beauties in the mail!  What a big step completed.  Feels pretty good!

Test Driving Weight Watchers

So I went to my very first Weight Watchers meeting tonight.  You probably know I’m trying to lose weight for the wedding, which is in May.  As in…8 1/2 months from now!  And the gym workouts and calorie counting are working, just not fast enough for me.

So I thought I’d see what WW was all about and see if that could kick start my efforts into a higher gear.

Weight Watchers company logo

Image via Wikipedia

Well let me tell you, Weight Watchers and I didn’t get off on the right foot.  I thought I could attend my first meeting for free….you know, check it out, kick the tires, take a test drive.  Not so, said the quite stern lady sitting behind the registration table.  She was apparently sympathetic to all of my reasons why the first meeting should be free, but “corporate” is taking a hard line and doesn’t allow it.  So out came the debit card and goodbye $15!  Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy at that moment.

Basic creditcard / debitcard / smartcard graph...

Image via Wikipedia

But then the stern lady (with the box of cash in front of her) sent me down the way and I got a packet of info and weighed in.  The meeting leader, Cindy, welcomed me (Ok that’s a little better) and wrote my weight in a little passport-sized book and said tonight was a good night because I was going to start taking control of my weight.  That sounded a little cult-like to me but whatever.  I took my passport thing and sat down to read through all the material and wait for the actual meeting to start.

reading

Image by rachel sian via Flickr

I read through all the booklets and it seems pretty straightforward IF you can determine the number of “points” are in each thing you eat.  I’m thinking it’ll be tough to figure out some things like meals at restaurants and things like Dream Dinners which I stock my freezer with every 6 weeks.

The meeting was pretty interesting.  Cindy had a lot of energy and was very knowledgeable and positive.  I did like her.  And we talked about grocery shopping and tips to do this in a healthy way.  People contributed ideas, comments, things that work for them, pitfalls to avoid, etc.  It was good!  And afterwards Cindy sat down with me alone to go over the basics, figure out how many “points” I should eat per day, and answer any questions I had.  I told her one challenge was the fact that I’m a picky eater.  I don’t eat seafood, I don’t like yogurt or cottage cheese, I hate the taste of artificial sweeteners.  She said the beauty of WW was that I could choose my food as long as I stay at that point goal.  I also expressed concern over the cost.  You have to pay $14 per meeting, which is once a week.  That will add up!  But if I think of it as investing in myself and my health, isn’t it worth it?  Yes but….

So I’m going to give it a try for at least a week and see how easy/hard it is to track these points.  Maybe I’ll go to another meeting next Thursday, maybe not.  There’s also an online component that you can subscribe to that might be an option for me.  We’ll see.  Either way, I learned a bit and I’m ready to give this a shot.

Have you ever tried a weight loss program like WW?  What were your results?

The Great Tent Debate

Scott and I are getting married in a beautiful stone church built in 1889.

The Church

Our reception will be at a gorgeous mansion just down the street.

The Reception Locale

I’m thrilled with both locations.  Here’s the dilemma.  We can eat inside the mansion in five different rooms on the first floor.  The main, largest room will have a huge table for us and our immediate family members – about 22 of us.  The four other rooms will have tables for all our other guests.  After eating, we could either go outside to a tent for dancing, toasts, cake, etc.  Or we could have the Music Room inside turned around very quickly after dinner and make that the dancing room.

The benefits of the tent include:

- It would look amazing! I’m picturing round tables, cocktail hi-top tables, couches, end tables, ottomans, candles, round paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, pretty uplighting, etc.

Decor Idea 1

Decor Idea 2

Decor Idea 3

You get the picture.
- Guests not into the music and dancing could stay inside the house and relax.

- The weather in May should be nice so we’d be outside enjoying the evening.


The down side of the tent includes:

- cost

-cost

-cost!

- It will cost over $5000 by the time we rent the tent, the sidewalls (in case of rain), the dance floor, the tables, the chairs, the lounge furniture, the linens, and pay the site’s $500 tent fee!  (Everything inside the mansion is included in my site fee – the tables, chairs linens, china, glassware, etc.)

Various Federal Reserve Notes, c.1995. Only th...

Image via Wikipedia

I would LOVE to have the tent but $5000 is a LOT of money.  We could use that towards a down payment on a house after the wedding!  The rational part of my brain says it’s insane to spend this on something that’s not necessary to have a great wedding.  The irrational, “bride” part of my brain says it’s my wedding day!  I want it to be perfect, amazing and wonderful!

Will the guests seated in the Music Room be put off that they have to rush through dinner and leave so we can turn it into the dance floor?  Will the dancers be crowded in there with the DJ table and equipment?  Will it be too loud for those not into the dancing?

So please help me here.  What would you do?

Engagement Party Success!

Last evening was our engagement party, hosted by my dad and step-mom, and organized mostly by my Matron of Honor/sister, Heather.  Warning, this will be a photo-heavy post!

When we arrived we were greeted by the buntings I made for our engagement pics.  Don’t they look nice?

You can see the date bunting in the background.

The dining room credenza was home to some framed e-pics, balloons, the photo book I made for Scott on our first date anniversary, and some delicious desserts.

Look at those cupcakes! That icing color is so pretty.

My mom, along with my step-dad, made these cute little M&M favors for each guest.  The colors match my wedding day colors! Some say Kim & Scott (luckily we have short names) and some have wedding bells printed on them.  I was in love!

These M&Ms had our names and wedding bells on them.

Adorableness!

The party started in the finished basement with drinks and appetizers in abundance!  There were Fiesta Roll-Ups, Buffalo Chicken Dip, hummus and veggies, crackers and cheese, you name it!  Scott decided he needed to be the focus of this pic below.

Appetizer Time

My brother-in-law, Clint, took control of the grilling duties and I was so glad because he can grill like no one I know!

The Grill Chef at Work

Some people went to the backyard for yard games.  There was Ladder Ball, Quoits, and a beanbag toss.  We also had giant Jenga which I really wanted to play and never found the time to!

Yard Games Galore

My future mother-in-law seemed to enjoy getting to know my family and I was so glad they could finally meet her.  I think we’ll all have a great time together on the big day!  Here she is helping her youngest granddaughter, Faith, who’s going to be our adorable Flower Girl.

Dottie and Faith

Other family members were mingling outside.  Here’s my mom and step-dad talking to Scott’s two brothers, his sister-in-law and his brother-in-law.  Faith makes another appearance here.

Family Mingling on the Deck

At one point in the night my sister knocked the toilet paper holder off the wall and my dad had to fix it! My sis is kind of a klutz.  She once knocked over a full-size decorated Christmas tree in a store.  So really this was not surprising, just amusing!

The Toilet Paper Incident of 2011

My step-sister gave us these at the end of the night.  She had found them in the grocery store that morning.  Who knew Scott and I had a pretzel company?

Nice Name!

As the night drew to a close, Scott’s cousin Karlyn decided to shove Scott’s sister’s face into a chocolate pudding pie.  Yes this really did happen at our engagement party!  I was shocked but it seemed to be something that has happened before in this family so everyone thought it was hilarious.  I was just glad it wasn’t MY face that ended up with pudding all over it!

This is what a pudding pie to the face looks like.

The night was filled with family, fun, food and so much love that we both were really humbled and grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make the party happen.  We know a lot of work, time, expense and stress went into the night and we just want to thank everyone for making this a party we will never forget!

I was so humbled that this was all done for us.

It was great that both families could meet, mingle, get to know each other and spend time together, which should make the wedding day so much more fun.  What a great night.  We left there exhausted but so happy.  Now on to the next thing, Save The Date magnets!