Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Celebrating with friends

Tonight we're toasting the New Year with a table full of friends. Mellow, low-key, great food and drinks, and a whole lotta laughs. The perfect combination for me, really, and fitting for this moment in time.

Over the past few months (thanks, economy!), we've found ourselves contemplating eloping on a pretty regular basis. The benefits are obvious: saving money, being impulsive, getting married now, having a crazy story to laugh about, saving money... Yet I go back to the wedding weekend we've started planning every time; it keeps speaking to me as a worthwhile endeavor.

One of our friends eloped with his wife about ten years ago, and maintains that having that moment together, just the two of them, is an image and a feeling that carries them through the tough spots, and they wouldn't change a thing. The couple in question is fantastic together, but I don't think their wedding is right for us. I definitely don't have a problem skipping over a traditional ceremony, because for me it's certainly not about being "The Bride" (heck, I don't even like people looking at me). I have no worries that I wouldn't feel like I was really married if we ran away to Vegas, either; life goes on even without a walk down the aisle, after all, into the really good stuff - the life we're going to build together, and one day, the family we'll have. So no, the reason that eloping isn't for me isn't because I'm one of those girls who has to have the whole shebang. Maybe it's because of how we began this deal together, or because of the long-distance we put ourselves through, or because we live in a city far away from most of our friends, and all of our families, to begin with. Because here's the thing: what matters most to me about our wedding is the bringing-together of both our families and all our crazy friends in one place.

For one weekend, and one weekend only, I imagine, I'll be able to talk about a mutual favorite book with my oldest girlfriend and one of my newest at the same time; I'll be able to introduce my dear friend who'll marry us to my college girl who grew up nearby him; I'll be able to watch T's Wall Street friends figure out what to make of my lefty intellectual crowd; I'll watch our Dallas friends find random things in common with my hometown crew, or my college crew, or Trevor's college crew; I'll watch all the amazing folks in my life who've heard all the stories and shared all the twists and turns that got us here make fun of me all at once; I'll watch them make fun of Trevor, too; I'll watch them smile at us, and grin at how happy we are. Our wedding will be a fantastic jumble of crazy people who love us for entirely different reasons, and I will never again be able to orchestrate such a circus.

Some people do it for The Dress. Some people do it for The First Dance. Some people do it for The Tradition. Me? I think I'm doing it for The Circus.

So to the wonderful world of friendship - gathering tonight over champagne, tomorrow morning to gossip over breakfast about what happened tonight, tomorrow afternoon lounging together in front of football, and in May in honor two weirdos who found each other in dark corners and ended up being the lightest, brightest duo to ever make them roll their eyes... Cheers.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Look what's new: Lela Rose bridesmaids!

My airplane reading on Friday included two timely, guilty pleasures: Martha Stewart Weddings and InStyle Weddings. Featured in both magazines was a new line of bridesmaid dresses from the lovely Lela Rose (most recently fawned over in Not My Dress). We first heard about Lela Rose getting into the bridesmaid game with Jenna Bush's wedding, of course... one I will swallow my politics right now and admit that I loved: her casual hair, her flowy Oscar de la Renta gown, the outdoor setting, and of course, unique Lela Rose gowns on all the girls in the colors of Texas wildflowers.

Lela Rose's new bridesmaid line, it turns out, is managed by The Dessy Group, which also covers Dessy, After Six, and Alfred Sung... none of which come to my mind when I think high-design bridesmaid lines. My interest peaked, I found the dresses online that charmed me in the magazines... and they are without question, undeniably charming. I'm curious about the pricepoint of these dresses and how well-made they are. The word is, they're available next month. Report back if you see them in person... I'd love to hear how they look and feel. Some of my favorites:

Clockwise from left: LR109, LR105,
LR100, LR102

Not My Dress: Lela Rose

I confess to having a major crush on Lela Rose's gowns. Her designs are so fresh and modern (not a pouf in sight!), her materials are beautiful, her attention to detail is amazing, yet her designs are Not My Dress. Let's ooh and aah anyway!

Does it get any better than hand-cut and appliqued flowers on the skirts of these gowns? I think not. Bring on a garden wedding and fresh spring breezes!

The clean lines, the architectural pleats and folds on the back of both gowns? Heaven for an indoor wedding where the smallest of details can be appreciated.

I must go back to Lela Rose's flowers, because she does them better than anyone. The gorgeous simple shape and embroidered skirt of this first dress, and the breezy floral beauty of the second dress are just to die for.

[Thanks for playing along, everyone! I admit, Not My Dress is one of my favorite blog games. :-) ]

Handmade gifts of '08

Many of my favorite gifts I gave this year were handmade. Some of the best:

Ilee Letterpress and Silkscreen Calendar
I just adore this calendar, and gave one to many of my favorite gals this year in hopes that it might make them sigh over its prettiness every day, too. This calendar is flat-out gorgeous, and each month it features such beautiful artwork that I imagine the regret over flipping to the next month will only barely be outweighed by excitement over a new monthly design. This calendar is perfect for the work desk where your corporate-ordered furniture is lacking in the inspiration department, or where you wish you were producing something more creative for eight hours a day. (Autobiographical much?) Or maybe you're already full of inspiration, and this calendar would look perfect sitting near a window in your perfectly outfitted home office where you're brilliantly combining work and play in the most creative of ways. In that case, I am jealous of you, but you still need this calendar anyway.

Night Owl Paper Goods Wooden Desktop Calendar
It was a calendar kind of year. This calendar was for my mom, and I ordered it for her about ten seconds after coming across it, because it was so undeniably something she had to have, it was pointless delaying the purchase. Printed on birch with a built-in stand, each month of this calendar is so whimsical, warm, and folksy all at once, that it reeks of home no matter where you place it. For someone who works too much and deserves lots of prettiness to look at during the day (that's you, Mom!), it's hard to beat this Night Owl Paper Goods delight. Beware of intrusive coworkers wanting to ooh and aah over your unique handmade wooden calendar!

Sterling Silver "Shirt Stiffeners"
Reading Chris Parry's etsy description made three things immediately clear: I have a crush on him, I'm a sucker for British humor and charm, and my f-word had to have some. Personalized by me with an appropriately cheeky saying, these collar stays (excuse me, "shirt stiffeners") are as fun as they are practical. Plus, it's fun to give guys gifts in small jewelry boxes; they never quite know what to expect. Bonus: Does this pair of perfect sterling silver collar stays mean that we'll no longer have dozens of plastic collar stays littering the laundry room?

Luxe Acorn and Indian Apostrophe Earrings
These earrings are so gorgeous, and again, so my mom, that I had to jump on both pairs. Earrings make perfect stocking stuffers, as we all know.

To come
... One of my favorite etsy finds is from a brilliant artist with a fantastic pop culture sensibility. We haven't mailed the gift in question out yet (ahem, pesky couple living in Europe for hockey season...), so I don't want to spoil the surprise for our reader from Linz. But trust me, it's a goodie.

What were your favorite handmade finds of the holiday season?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas cheer

From the perfect Christmas cocktail...

My mom's "Jingle Juice"

To the perfect Christmas elf...

My niece - and future flower girl! - Taylor

To the perfect Christmas card...

xoxo from T

To the perfect Christmas shoes...

Seersucker Louboutins could only be from my f-word...

To the perfect other shoes...

My sister's having a boy!!!!!

It was a merry, merry Christmas indeed. On to 2009!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Engagement photos

Breaking: we're getting engagement photos taken the weekend of January 10. Our photographer includes them in her package, otherwise we'd probably skip them. Neither of us like the way we photograph, and we chose Julie because of how great her candid photos are at weddings - we think candid is the only way we look normal on film. In other words, January 10 could be a challenge.

We were going to be in the Outer Banks that weekend anyway to do a menu tasting at the Sanderling and select our food (fun!!!). Given how relatively difficult it is to get to the Outer Banks (which is also one of the reasons I love it so much), we might not make it back there before the wedding. So our one shot at engagement photos means a winter morning on the beach. At first, I wasn't thrilled about this. I'd imagined some sort of leggy, playful photo series (if one happened at all) that involved the two of us splashing around in the ocean on a warm day. Instead, the day will likely be freezing, gray, and we'll be all bundled up. But c'mon, scarves and rosy cheeks can be cute too, right? And let's face it, I live in jeans and sweaters, so why not document that?

To get in the spirit, I looked around for engagement photos shot outdoors in the winter. We're meeting at 10 in the morning on the Kitty Hawk Pier, and I want ideas before we get there! There really is some great inspiration out there... anyone have any more for me?

Original: Kate Headley

Our version: Hanging out on the dock near the shops in downtown Duck?

Original: Joy Marie Photography

Our version: Look, the two of us know how to make out under a pier. Consider this shot stolen.

Original: Anna Kuperberg

Our version: Closeups of sweaters, sand on our backs? Totally doable. What a great twist on a winter beach shot.

Original: w. scott chester

Our version: Color! I love how brightly their clothes pop outdoors. I thinks this means I will be forced to wear my adorable red wool coat.

Original: Anna Kuperberg

Our version: This photo could be taken anywhere, at any time. And I just adore it. Obnoxious stares and making each other laugh is totally us.

Original: Jenna Walker Photography

Our version: Gorgeous winter sun? Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The economy and my dress [order]

My f-word has been half-jokingly predicting for a couple of months that Saks Fifth Avenue is going out of business. His job is to notice little things like stock prices, and they've been looking pretty dismal. Why is this a cause for concern, you ask? Well, Sak's is where I ordered my dress. The Dress. So we began thinking: if Sak's goes under, what happens to my dress order? Would the manufacturer just take over the order? Would Sak's rush all existing orders to finish them early? Would the orders be canceled with refunds? Those questions, of course, led me to wonder what I might do were I faced with having to order another dress. Would I pick the same one? Would I use Not My Dress as a shopping guide?

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from, uh oh, Sak's Fifth Avenue. A long letter. With business cards attached. Double uh oh.

After a longwinded intro about how happy Sak's is that I've chosen them to be part of my "special day," they dropped the bomb. Turns out, Sak's has decided to close all of their bridal salons except for New York and Beverly Hills. So my local spot, with the incredible Mogda (one of the only nice people I met in the entire local Industrial Wedding Complex), will be no more. They say all existing dress orders are safe, protected, guaranteed for the same services/fittings/alterations they always were, they just won't continue selling gowns in 2009.

But... hmmm.... it still feels kind of weird, right?

Friday, December 12, 2008


I have the holiday spirit right now. I finally booked my trip home to North Carolina, I'm about 2/3 done with my shopping, our place is festive, I'm ready to start wrapping gifts, and I'm thisclose to being done with our cards. I was so enamored with all the great letterpress holiday cards this year (kudos to Oh So Beautiful Paper and Paper Crave for highlighting a ton of great choices the past month!), that I couldn't pick just one design. I did manage to narrow my favorites down to five, though! So this year, everyone will get one of these fab designs:

Folk art Santa: byvikINK

Chimney message: paperstories

Kissing pigs: Linda & Harriett

Festive hippo: Egg Press

Warm things: Hello!Lucky

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Take me away...

I'm dreaming of tropical beaches again, and this wedding provides the perfect escape. Chandra and Micheal's joy just flies off the screen.

Three quickies

1. My latest favorite wedding is Brooke + Thor's gig courtesy of (shocker!) Southern Weddings. Seersucker is involved, and some awesome typography. I have a big-time crush on Brooke, too. Read their interview to see why.

2. Speaking of crushes, I guess I have to include the violet-eyed, oft-married Elizabeth Taylor now, solely on the strength of this quote: "The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues."

3. And... UNcrush: All the reasons why I strongly dislike The Knot community came flooding back to me this morning. I was trying to get some local vendor information on the NC message board, and just... UGH. And to the think that I went into this thinking that those women represented most of what was out there when it came to wedding planning. Thank goodness for you lovely bloggers, with all your brains and wit and spunk. I know which team I'm on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So much awesomeness

Her: A Betsey Johnson cocktail dress
Him: The family kilt


(Who knew that site could be so cool, anyway?!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My life was incomplete...

...without Tacky Weddings, and I never even knew it.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Not My Dress: Priscilla of Boston

Our latest installment of Not My Dress comes from Priscilla of Boston, who makes a lot of satin/embellished/ball gown numbers that aren't me at all, but also makes some gorgeous, simple gowns with great lines. Strangely, I never made the trip to try any Priscillas on, even though I've sipped Negra Modelos and eaten fish tacos directly across from the shop a half-dozen times. But I digress... on to the dresses!

#4200. It's the double-flounce hem that gets me. Every time I see this one in a real wedding here in blogland I'm on high alert, craving more closeups. I just love this dress: the pleating, the movement, the detail. It's a classic to me, one of my favorite Not My Dresses (on par with the Audrey, even!).

#4213. So, so lovely. The material looks amazing - such intricate and beautiful embroidery - and the accents at the waist would be ultra-flattering to those of us who love structure in our dresses. And again, notice that great hem!

#4201. Simple, beautiful, what's not to love? The lace hemline at the bottom seals the deal. This one also strikes that rare balance (for my love of simplicity) of embellishment that doesn't feel too showy. From afar you barely notice the detailing on the bodice. Plus, this looks like a dress you can actually move in. What would our experts call this -- a modified trumpet, maybe?

#4109. A va va voom dress. When I tried on trumpet styles, I felt like a needed a soundtrack to play drumbeats every time I took a step. My runner-up was a trumpet, and in the end I decided it was a little too much drama for me. But I still love them... they're like a celebration of curves in all the best ways. And once again, Priscilla nailing the hemline detail.

My impractical, girly wish list

Here's my fantasy girly Christmas list of impractical items - nothing that really made my list this year, but things that make me happy yet I wouldn't buy on my own. I'm way more practical than this, promise.

Crate and Barrel's Laurie collection. This cake stand and serving items are pretty much the cutest things I've ever laid eyes on. Do I need them? Nope. Do I really have room for them? Nope. But do I want them anyway just so I could smile when I see them? YES!

Hendrick's Gin. I'm a gin drinker, and this is my new favorite gin. Sure, my bar has a bottle full of another brand, but it's not Hendrick's.

Shun Knives. Okay, these are actually practical, but they're an impractical Christmas gift because they're on our registry, so I should just be more patient. We have two of them, and I swear I grit my teeth every time I have to use another knife in my kitchen. This girl needs her Shuns!

A Nanette Lepore dress. Her dresses treat my curves so well, I don't even care that they run small and I have to have a bigger size. Her stuff is girliness to the max. And oh, to get one outside of a dressing room!

Pampering. Just any kind. A Bliss facial would do. Or some personal training sessions. Or maybe some hair intervention. Because, um, a wedding is coming up. And like it or not, people are going to look at me. Might as well look the part. Somehow, slogging away at the gym I'm not really feeling the part these days. I need girls in a spa setting, stat!

What's on your impractical splurge list this year?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday I'm in Love

Some of my favorite gifts from etsy, all in the name of love:

Two Hearts by selflesh. Personalize with two maps of your choosing... perfect for a long-distance relationship. (Fellow graduates of long-distance love, you know what I'm talking about here.)

Coffee sleeve from 60bugs. If I wasn't a travel mug girl, I'd be all over this adorable piece.

Love Wins print by JonathanCapuano. Sigh....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fashion politics

I'm working from home today and fantasizing about pretty dresses, a nice contrast to my current outfit of men's button-down with piles of blankets. Those of you who are fellow Michelle Obama nuts probably already know about Mrs. O, a blog dedicated to our First Lady-elect's fashion choices. I'm, um, kind of an obsessed fan. Lately, all the fashion talk centers around Obama's inauguration gown. Which designer? What color? What shape? Oh, the choices!

Women's Wear Daily asked several designers to sketch looks for Mrs. O. The slideshow of the sketches is great fun. It's no surprise that Monique Lhuillier is one of my favorites. I love how strong Michelle's figure is, which lets her go for strong, dramatic lines in a gown that might overwhelm other figures. I adore that our new First Lady is such a modern, fashion-conscious dresser. Go swoon, and come back and tell me which one you like best.

Monique Lhuillier, Middle: Karl Lagerfeld (for Chanel), Right: Michael Kors

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

About that light saber...

I'm home on the couch with a terrible ear infection and more prescriptions than I know what to do with. One medicine says it will cause drowsiness, while the other warns about "excitability." Hmmm... I'm thinking that means they'll just produce crazy.

Considering my reading material this afternoon (recommended by Tara, by the way, and so far it's a great way to get my head around writing our wedding ceremony from scratch), what nutty, drug-induced ceremony ideas might I come up with by day's end?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not My Dress: Vera Wang

The Vera Wang Luxe Audrey is not my dress, but she haunted me during dress-shopping. The photos simply do not do this dress justice - she's absolutely stunning, a true work of art. I could barely touch her, she was so perfect, and I didn't dare try her on. The dress wouldn't have suited me or our wedding - and its price tag was certainly a caution flag - but none of that mattered when I looked at her. Audrey somehow represented all the things I was not in that store, but not in a scary please-stare-at-me-satin-ball-gown-with-crystal-and-silver-embellishment Kenneth Pool way. Nope, the Audrey is my kind of girl, only infinitely more put-together and perfect. In all those intricate folds of lace around her skirt, she swishes around with the kind of quiet confidence I admire, and the serenity to be all girl on that most girly of days. The Audrey is me times ten, and as I sit here typing in cords and a comfy J. Crew cardigan, I can say confidently that she is Not My Dress. But oh, what a dress she is.