Sunday, January 31, 2010

Venue Viewing

Mr. Newport and I are in love with our venue, The Atlantic Beach Club. Since our engagment, we have gone to visit, at least 5 times. Our Wedding coordinator probably thinks we're crazy. I apologize every time I ask for another visit and assure her it is the last time, and she tells me to come as often as I'd like. So I do! I know it sounds a bit obsessive, but the first time we went was to meet with them and look at the place, the second was to sign and show my mom, the third was to show my bridesmaids, the fourth was to show my dad, sister and future brother in-law, the fifth was to show FFIL and FMIL Newport.I know certain people show the dress to multiple people prior to, but haven't heard of many showing the venue off so much. I think it's interesting to see what are other bride's favorite aspects of the wedding are that they like to show off.

Anyone else gone through something similar where you love showing a certain aspect to everyone?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cake Tasting #1

Our first cake tasting was extremely last minute. We had a couple of other appointments booked, and time to kill in between. We decided to stop at Cappuccino's Bakery and Cafe to see if they had an available appointment. Luckily, someone had just cancelled.

We sat down with the owner, Paul. He told us about their flavors, pricing, and everything else we would need to know. He brought out a few cakes to test and they were amazing. Mr. Newport and I originally thought we'd just go with a vanilla on vanilla cake. It is our favorite, but after trying the flavors at Cappuccino's I'm completely indecisive.
As it was last minute, I wasn't prepared, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite photos of their work, from their website.

We first tried a white cake with strawberries and cream, and a white cake with mocha fudge and Bailey's Irish Cream filling. They weer both amazing, but oddly I was in lvoe with the white cake with strawberries and cream. One of my only pre-requisettes for a wedding cake was NO fruit fillings. I have never eaten a cake with fruit filling that I've liked. This cake totally switched my perspective. It was so light and delicious.

Next we moved on to my favorite type of cake- yellow. We had a yellow cake with lemon custard filling and a yellow cake with rasberry mousse filling. Again I was in love with fruit filled cake.

Lastly, we tried chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse, and chocolate cake filled with mocha fudge. I've never really liked chocolate cake, so I had to turn to Newport Mom who is a chocolate cake lover for an opinion. She loved it, but we both agreed that the white cake with strawberries and cream was unbelievably delicious.

Now I have no clue what to do about the cake flavor. I really thought this would be an easy choice. Mr. Newport and I both love vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. We thought it was no brainer on the flavor choice. I guess now we'll have to go to another tasting together to figure it out.

Did you go with your favorite cake flavor, or did you change your mind after trying something delicious at a cake tasting?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Wedding Weekend

I have always dreamed of going on a mini vacation with all of my closest loved ones. My maternal grandmother initially instilled the idea in me. Before she passed away, she dreamed of having all of our family members go on a trip together. This family included her 8 children, their spouses, 25 grandkids, their significant others, and a few great grandkids. When she first brought it up, it was supposed to be a weeklong trip, a cruise, a trip to Disney or a trip to our roots in Ireland.

After some family discussions, and indecision, the weeklong trip was demoted to a weekend in New Hampshire. She wanted to bring her family to the Mount Washington Hotel, where her husband, my grandfather had worked in his early years, for a long weekend. Again, after family discussion and indecision, the trip never happend.

My grandmother never lived to see her family getaway come to life, but it's finally going to happen. Both myself and my cousin are planning semi-destination weddings in New England. This upcoming August, my cousin and his fiance are getting married in New Hampshire overlooking the White Mountains, then in October, we'll all be together again Newport.

Photo by Onne Van Der Wal

I have been dreaming of a family getaway since my grandmother came up with the idea, and I'm even more excited that this getaway will include all of my family. Mr. Newport and I are excited that we will have all of our closest friends and families together for a whole weekend. After years of dating and telling friends stories of each others lives, our worlds will finally collide in a fun packed weekend. We are so excited about the weekend, we opted not to do a honeymoon and will extend our stay in Newport in case anyone else stays in town. With a few days to ourselves, of course.

In reality, we will be there for just about a week. Some guests have already indicated they be spending a few extra days in Newport.

During the course of the weekend we are hoping to come up with an extra event to show our guests our appreciation for their traveling, and to make the trip more enjoyable.

So far we have tossed around a few ideas like a night on the town in Newport, a morning after brunch, a pizza party, a softball game, or maybe a wine tasting. We have yet to look into most of these ideas. Some are more ideal for smaller crowds, while others would be fun with a big group.

Keeping in mind we are on a budget, do you have any fun ideas for events with the guests? Are you planning a wedding weekend?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Save The Dates: DIY Cost Breakdown

We originally wanted to keep our save the dates low budget, but they ended up costing more than expected. We realized DIY, doesn't always mean cheaper. But, we are still happy we did go the diy route. I love that the save the dates reflect both of us. They are sort of simple and classic like me, with a bit of humor thrown in, which is so Mr. Newport.

The most expensive part of the save the dates were the magnets. Because of our indecisiveness, we ended up paying more. We ordered them through Vistaprint during a promotional sale. Free Magnets- the first 10. We ended up having to pay for 5 design fees. If we only had one design we could have cut down on costs. So how much did they cost? Here's a breakdown by the sites/stores we used:

Magnets (100): $88.00 with discounts and shipping included

Paper-Source (All prices listed are with a 20% discount from a sale)
Night A6 Envelopes (80 envelopes): $22.40
Pure White A6 Notecards (150 notecards): $18.00 - we had technical difficulties and needed to buy extra
White Oval Labels Sheets (100 labels): $8.32
*Envelope Liner Template (multi pack): ($8.76) -already had from prior craft project
Sketch Starfish Rubber Stamp: $4.80
Save the Date Rubber Stamp: $7.96

A.C. Moore
*Heat Embossing Tool- (19.95- 11.97 with 40% off coupon)- already had from prior craft project
Navy Ink- $2.37 with 40% off coupon
Clear Embossing Powder: $2.37 with 40% coupon

Gulf Coast Lighthouses Stamps (80)- $36.20, $1.00 service charge included
Additional 17 cent Stamps (80)-$13.60

*Other Items Needed, not included in budget breakdown:
Color Ink
Printer Paper- for envelope liners
Double Sided Tape

Our Total Cost: $204.02*

* not including items listed in "other", heat embosser or envelope liner template as we already had these.

At 80 Save the Dates, it came out to about $2.55 each. More than we originally wanted to spend, but we are happy with the results. These will be our guest's first glimpse into our wedding. We wanted them to be special.

We could have cut the magnets to save on costs. It would have brought the total to $116.02, or about $1.45 each, over a dollar less per save the date. They would have received this:
But we are happy with our addition, it makes our set complete.
Did you splurge on your save the dates?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Running of the Brides

Running of the brides was quite the experience. It is something that is crazy, hectic, insane, and totally fun. I was planning to go to Filene's Basement's Annual Running of the Bride's (it's actually bi-annual in Boston) for my wedding gown. We had done it for Sister Newport's gown and she wasn't just successful in finding the dress, she was successful in finding the dress(es). The prices were so great she got two styles. One for the ceremony and photos, and a second for the reception.

When deciding on whether or not to do ROTB, I ended up having my decision made for me. When I was starting to look for dresses, Filenes had been bought out and there was a pretty big rumor going around that there would be no ROTB in 2009. With that in mind, I headed to another bridal shop, fell in love and put down a deposit. Only to find out a few months later, the August Running of the Brides was still on. For awhile I debated on whether to lose my deposit and go for it, but I figured I already found "the dress" and didn't want to feel pressured into getting a dress I may not love as much because of two possibilites: 1. finding a cheaper dress that I liked may tempt me, and 2. buying a dress out of guilt for having friends and family use vacation days to attend and waking up at the crack of down to stand in line-only to have me say ehh, I think I'll stick with the one I already put a deposit on.

Despite my decision to skip on my own ROTB Experience, I thought I'd share my experience from a supporter's side.

Typically, a bride cuts out a few pictures to prepare for a dress appointment. This is not really the case with ROTB. Sister Newport did have a few photos to share with her "entourage" (as we named ourselves), to get a better idea of what she was looking for. The more important way to plan isn't showing pictures, it was actually strategizing - yes there was strategy in the approach to find the dress.

Bridesmaid M, had watched a documentary on ROTB and took notes. She went on and did a little research and came up with a power point presentation. She eneded up printing it off to go over with the entourage the night before ROTB.
Strategy 1: Plan ahead.

Strategy 2: Coordinate. It makes it easier to find each other in the crowd. Bridesmaid M and her sister, bridesmaid E had shirts made for us, that said "Jenn's Entourage". For the male member of the group, they made a special shirt:

Strategy 3: Dress appropriately. Other than coordinateing, make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. When the people start to run, you need to be ready. If you do the winter ROTB dress warm, you may need to wait in the cold for awhile. Make sure the bride wears a body suit, or something she's comfortable changing in, in front of other people.

Strategy 4: Bring lots of people. The more people you have, the better. When you get through the doors, it is a mad dash for dresses. The more arms you have to grab=more dresses.

Strategy 5: Get there early. We got there at 3:00 a.m. and were about the 4th or 5th group in line. Shortly after the lines started to grow quickly.

Strategy 6: Designate "jobs" to each person. First, a job for running in, and a second job for when the dash is over. Make sure you choose people based on their strengths. A few examples of "jobs": Dress grabbers- this should be everyone during the dash, except for two people who run to "claim" a spot, Dress helpers- someone to get the dresses on, another to get them off, dress guards- people do try to steal them, packers and unpackers- the dresses come in big bags that need to be unzipped, then get the dresses of the hangers and handed to the dressers, bargainers- the bargainers need to take the rejects and find other brides to trade with.

Strategy 7: Create "alliances". While we were in line, the male member of the entourage started forming alliances with other brides. He found three women in front of us, the bride was a different size and wanted a different style than Sister Newport. He told her if we found anything like what she wanted he'd have us give it to her, if they'd do the same. A few hours later, he found a dress, brought it over to her. Within about half an hour, she came to find him and told him that he had found "the dress". By the end of the day, he had found "the dress" for three different brides. All of whom helped us out, too.

Strategy 8: Never stop strategizing. After seeing that alot of people were wearing pink, our way of standing out didn't seem so unique. So bridesmaid E came up with an idea that really made us stand out......She did all of our hair so that we'd be able to see each other across the room. It worked, not only could we find each other in the crowd, but so could everyone else. We ended up on a few different news stations, radio stations, online publications and made our way into the Boston Globe. (Side note: later that day, bridesmaid E & M's brother was at work, while a coworker called him over to look at "these crazy people" online, only to find out the crazies were his sisters and cousins).

Strategy 9: Don't discriminate when grabbing dresses. The more you can grab, the better. Just because it's not your bride's size it doesn't mean it won't help her out.

Strategy 10: Trade, trade, trade! Take any dresses the bride rejects, and have your "bargainers go out and trade for dresses in her size and style. The two dresses Sister Newport ended up with, both came through trades.

Strategy 11: Bring man power. Our M.V.P. of the day was the one guy in our group. He was able to grab an entire rack of dresses by himself in the beginning. We were so lucky to have him. He was the one who grabbed the most dresses, made alliances with other bride's groups, and found one of the dresses Sister Newport chose through a trade.

It was definitely a learning experience for him though. When he was going out to trade, he had no clue what Sister Newport meant when she said she wanted something lacey or Grecian, but he tried. He was also a little gullible. He traded a gorgeous dress at one point for a pink dress because the woman he traded with said it was a great trade and the bride would love it. He came back so excited and felt taken when he saw Sister Newport's reaction to ther dress. He came back with quite a few interesting dresses including the purple dress below.

Strategy 12: Enjoy the bonding experience. It was a blast and such a memorable experience. Even Newport Mom loved it, other than the last 15 minutes before you go in the door, that scared her. We had so many laughs from that day.

Strategy 13: Treat your supporters/friends to a great breakfast afterwards. We were pretty exhausted and starving by the end of the experience. Newport Mom and Newport Aunt K took us out to lunch afterwards.

If you don't like crowds, if you come back later in the day, there are still plenty of dresses. Many of the people who come in the morning are supporters and not actual brides. After "the run", dresses start to get put back on the racks. As you can see in the "celebration" picture above.

Upcoming 2010 Running of the Brides Events
Columbus : Friday, Jan 29
New York City : Friday, Feb 5
Boston : Friday, Feb 19
Atlanta : Friday, March 19
Chicago : Friday, July 23
Wash DC : Friday, July 30
Cleveland : Friday, Aug 27

Have you had a ROTB expereince? Was it successful?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Save the Dates

Our Save the Dates are complete and have been sent!

When we were figuring out what to do, I turned to Weddingbee for inspiration. Through different Bees on the site, I realized I wanted to incorporate a few things: tie in our theme/color scheme (navy and white with starfish accents), create a look that is simple, clean and classic Newport, incorporate some fun/humor, and special details. I think we did a pretty good job of getting the exact look we were going for.

We decided against calligraphy for the envelopes. Our wedding is a little more casual, so we didn't want super fancy save the dates, we'll save calligraphy for the invitations to make them a little more formal.
I created envelope liners using the papersource templates. I absolutely love envelope liners. I feel like they are an added surprise when you open a letter/note/invitation.
We wanted our Save the dates to be informative with a personal touch. We included a "mission statement" explaining the importance of our wedding location, as it is a destination for most of our guests.We made sure to include accommodation suggesstions. The main reason we decided to send save the dates was to get the hotel information to guests. Hotel blocks end by the time our invites go out, and we want everyone to have the chance to get rooms that are convenient and hopefully a little cheaper. We also included our wedding website, which has information on restaurants, activities in the area, and information for wedding events.
We also added in magnets. Mr. Newport really loved the idea of magnets, and I loved that we got to include photos from our engagement shoot. I say photos plural, as we couldn't decide on one design and ended up with five magnet designs. We sent out specific ones to different groups.
And here it is all together:The mission statement and information cards were completely created in Microsoft Word with some embossed elements. I think sending them out makes it all more real!

Did you make your own save the dates? What was your favorite element?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rehearsal Dinner: Check!

When it came time to look into rehearsal dinner locations, I had only one spot in mind. There is an amazing Italian restaurant in Newport called Sardella's. It was "our spot", when we lived in Newport. By junior or senior year, we pretty much went on a weekly basis.

It is also the place we went to celebrate our graduation with my family, the place we went for Valentine's day, birthdays, anniversaries, family and friend's visits to Newport, and of course on the night we celebrated our engagement. I was really hoping to have our rehearsal dinner here. The thing is, I didn't want to be pushy or demanding. My future in-laws have been exremely generous throughout the wedding process (and life in general) and haven't made any real requests. Since they have offered to host the rehearsal dinner, I didn't want to tell them where to have it.

When they came to visit for Christmas, we planned a day in Newport, where we could show them the wedding venue, look into rehearsal dinner locations and morning after brunch spots. When it came time to talk about the rehearsal dinner location, FMIL Newport recommended Sardella's. We both obviously loved the idea, but thought they'd want to look into a few more places. We were wrong, actually I was wrong. We had thrown around a few spots, as we are more familair with the area. Luckily Mr. Newport's parents know how much it means to us, and decided to just have it there. We didn't even look anywhere else.

The day after Christmas, we drove to Newport, and took a look at the space. Although we have been there multiple times, we hadn't seen the event rooms. We decided on a small room towards the back of the restaurant. It has a stone wall with inserts to put candles. It's technically outside, but enclosed. I'm already imagining an intimate rehearsal dinner, with our closest friends and family, eating great food, drinking great wine by candlelight at "our spot".
Are you having your rehearsal dinner at a location with some sort of significance to you and your fiance? Was the search for a location easy, or did you need to look around a bit?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Room Block Tips

Room blocks were quite the adventure for us, as you can read in our experience here.

After lots of research on what to ask and what to beware of, then going through the experience, I felt like I should share my new found knowledge with someone!

When blocking rooms, it's really important to ask the right questions. Some hotels have hidden charges that you forget to ask about, then they show up on the bill.

  • Room Block set up fee- some hotels have an administrative fee for setting up the room block. We only came across one and it was $25.00. Two others waived this due to our reception site having a deal with the hotels.

  • Unused room fee- some hotels will charge you for rooms in a block ,that go unused/unbooked. We luckily did not run into this.

  • OOT guest bag fee- some hotels charge to either pass out or deliver oot bags to guest's rooms. I've heard this can be $2-$5 per bag. We again, luckily did not run into this.

Important Questions

  • How many rooms can be booked?
  • Can more rooms be booked in the future, if the original block is filled?
  • Is there a group discount rate?
  • What are the rates for different types of rooms?
  • Can you block our guests near each other?
  • If there is no group dicount rate, do you offer any other dicounts such as to Triple A members?
  • Is there a fee to set up a room block?
  • What happens if we do not fill all of the rooms we blocked? Is there a charge?
  • Is there a deadline for when rooms need to be booked by our guests?
  • Is there a minimum night stay requirement?
  • Does the room rate include breakfast?
  • How are Out of Town bags handled? Delivered to room or handed out at front desk?
  • Is there a charge for Out of Town bags?
  • Do you offer any specials for the bride and groom?

Did you have to set up room blocks for your guests? Do you have any additional tips or questiosn to share?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Save The Dates: Magnets

Mr. Newport hasn't had too many demands or even requests when it comes to the wedding, but he knew for sure he wanted magnets for our save the dates. I don't know what it is with guys, but it seems like it's always the guys who want the magnets. I've had guy friends come up to me so proud that they "found" this great wedding idea, and by found, I mean they received one from someone else's wedding. I think Mr. Newport found this idea on my brother's fridge.

I wanted an excuse to share our engagement pics, so I was all for the magnets. I was also super excited to use one of my favorite quotes from, When Harry Met Sally. Thus came my vision for our save the date magnets.
I was really excited about them. I showed them to Mr. Newport and Newport Mom. Newport Mom loved them, but Mr. Newport wanted to give a shot at his own creative side. He started playing around on Picasa and came up with a few of his own designs.

First came one of my favorites, we call it the Newport, and by we, I mean me. I love the sailboat and it gets across the destination and date pretty clearly. He then came up with the idea of "Get A Room", somewhat a play on words and pretty direct if you ask me. I thought it was funny and I called this my new favorite.
Then came the "Getting Closer" magnet. It lets guests know the date is gettig closer, after a two year engagement it's starting to get close with less than a year to go. I thought it was cool that he chose a blurred out photo, like hey it's getting closer, but we're not quite there. Again, it became a "favorite".His last design is called "Cold Feet". I think it's funny, since it's such a guy thing to think. Again, I had a "favorite". I had 5 "favorites", which were the only designs we had, and no clue how to choose. Which one do you think we went with? What's your favorite?

All photos credited to: David Bibeault

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blocking the Rooms

Blocking rooms in a tourist town is great because you have lots of options. But....with that comes some not so great things. Like these hotels don't need our business like say, a hotel in a random suburb. So what does that mean? Well... we had trouble finding hotels that would give our guests discounts and/or would allow guests to stay only one night.

After my first two calls, I realized this wasn't going to be easy. So with my list of requirements in hand, I got to calling and e-mailing every place I could find within 5 miles of Newport.

My requirements were simple.
1. A good rate
2. At least one option without the two night stay
3. Convenience
4. Quality

Blocking the rooms has been one of the most stressful parts of planning so far. Typically when you plan something for the wedding, it only affects your budget. The hotel block affects the individual budgets of most of our guests. With the way the economy is, we wanted to be very concious of this and reserve rooms that fit different budgets.

We also knew that many of our guests would only want to stay one night. Many guests are only an hour and a half away, but would like to spend the night- not two, which is typical in Newport. This was actully the hardest part. I assumed since we aren't having the wedding in season, a couple places would be more willing to break this. We only found three places who were willing to let us block with one night stays. We only went with one, as the other two didn't fit other requirments, mainly cost and quality.

Convenience also played a factor. When guests heard there are hotels across the street, many got excited that after the reception they could "stumble home". Luckily there are three options directly across the street from the reception. In the end, these three won out as part of our four total hotels. It's nice because not only are they convenient to the reception, their less than 10 minutes from the ceremony, 5 minutes from downtown Newport, across from the Beach, located next to many reasonably priced restaurants, and it's nice that three of these are located next to each other. Guests will be closer.

Lastly, we looked for quality. I called at least 15 hotels and knew that each had to fit at least three of the four qualifications. Well, I ended up finding a couple with really great prices, but those were also really terrible quality. I was hoping to find something under $100 a night, and I did, but they just weren't places I'd feel comfortable recommending. I looked up each hotel, motel and inn's reviews. Some were horrifying. I decided quality is more important than price. If guests would like a cheaper room, I did give a link on our website, so they can make the choice themselves and decide what is important to them.

We ended up with 4 choices.
1 with amazing quality, not so amazing price, no discounts, 2 night minimum, very convenient.
2 with great quality, great discounts, 2 night minimum, and very convenient.
1 with ok quality, no discounts-but best price, 1 night minimum, convenient.




We ended up really happy with our selections, after lots of research we feel confident that they are the right choices and well rounded. Although, I hope our guests are happy, as I am still worried about the costs.

Did you have trouble making room blocks for your guests?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mother of the Bride

When we first got engaged, we had a vision. We knew what we wanted our wedding to look like, the feelings we want to evoke, the stlye, the colors, the atmosphere. It was all planned out from the very beginning.

This led to an early planning craze. I was so focused on our vision, that if I found something that fit the vision, it was bought. This happend with the Mr. Newport's tie, Newport Mom's dress, oot bags, bridesmaid's gifts, just to name a few items. I was worried I wouldn't like these things by the time our wedding rolls around, mainly because our engagement will be about two years. A lot can happen in two years. But luckily, here we are, and we are still overly excited with our choices.

One of my favorite of the choices we've made is "the look" of our wedding. We want our wedding to represent us- simple. fun. casual. To get this vibe, we opted for the men in navy blazers and khaki pants, the girls will be in coktail dresses. Then came the mother of the bride dress.

I didn't want a typical mother of the bride dress, I wanted something again, that would evoke simple. fun. casual. I knew it had to be cocktail length, but classy. I am super specific about things, and I want my mom to feel gorgeous on our wedding day. Newport Mom's friends have had trouble in the past finding mother of the Bride dresses. So shortly after the engagment, I started looking casually. At the time, she was also looking for a mother of the bride dress for Sister Newport's wedding.

Then on a random trip to the Talbots website, I came across this dress. - yet still classy. It was perfect. I love that it coordinates with the wedding party look. Our colors are mainly navy and white, but since the groomsmen are wearing khaki, I think this outfit will coordinate perfectly.

Did your mother find a dress early on? Was she still happy with it by the time the wedding came?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Save the Dates: We're on a Mission

We spent months trying to figure out what our Save the Dates should look like. Mr. Newport likes magnets, because they are practical and well, I like magnets because it gives us an excuse to use a photo from the engagment shoot!

The problem is, we want to fit a lot of information and just one magnet won't do. We had trouble with the design side of the save the date, but the wording seemed to come more easy. It didn't hurt that I had read the article, Well Said- A Destination Save the Date, by Kristy Rice of Momental Designs on WeddingbeePRO.

Because our wedding will be a destination wedding for all of our guests, we want to include not just the date, but hotel accomodations information, a photo, a little introductory, and I was thinking a cute qoute would be fun too.

Then I read Kristy's article. She suggests a mission statement. Sounds funny for a save the date, but after reading what she meant, I think it's perfect. Some people don't understand why we have to have our wedding out of state. Well for one, no matter where we chose, someone would have to travel, our guests are pretty much from MA or Jersey. It's not really why we chose Newport, but it did add to things.

We really chose Newport for the special meaning to us. I'd love to convey this to our guests who may not understand why they have to travel out of state to see us say "I do". So after some WeddingbeePRO inspiration, here is my first draft for our Save the Dates:

"Newport is where we met and fell in love. It has been an integral part of our relationship from the first date to the proposal. The first 4 years of our relationship were spent enjoying the restaraunts and activities Newport has to offer. It is a beautiful place to fall in love and a wonderful place to visit.

We would love for you to share our wedding day and the special place that brought us together.

Please Save the Date 10/2010"

Did anyone else get inspired and include a "Mission Statement" for your Save the Dates?