Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dresses for the Girls

My first bridesmaid dress shopping experience was with Sister Newport when looking for her bridesmaid's dresses. We went to Priscilla of Boston and I was in love with their dresses. Sister Newport chose to do a few different styles and the dress I fell in love with was one of them. I told her I loved it so much that I asked if she would mind if I used it for my future bridesmaids. She said go for it.

Funny enough the only girl who ended up wearing it, also happens to be in my bridal party, Bridesmaid M. I was in love with the dress because of one amazing detail....the bow in the back. Bridesmaid M is modeling it in the photo above.

I fell in love and was pretty sure it was the dress, but the more we planned, the more our vision became defined. Coastal, laid-back, elegance seemed to be the theme and a shiny satin material just seemed a bit fancy.

I decided to look around. I decided it had to be navy, cocktail length and a more relaxed fabric.

I deicded to check out
Ann Taylor, as most of my work clothes end up being from there. Which is how I know they contstantly have 40% off one item promotions going on. I was looking for a deal. I found a gorgeous dress in navy, but it seemed like every time I went to the site, they only had a few sizes. I also realized it was an online only option, which meant we'd have to pay for shipping to try them out, unless I could find a 40% off and free shipping sale at the same time. It also didn't have the more relaxed fabric I was looking for, but it stayed on the back burner.

Sources (Clockwise from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The Ann Taylor dress was such a favorite, it ended up in our attire inspiration board.

As I was debating on the Ann Taylor, Alfred Sung came out with a new spring line. I checked out the Dessy website and fell in love with a couple of his new designs.

These were the top three contenders.

Did you have a definite look when picking out your bridesmaid's dresses, or were you pretty open when going shopping?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A picture is worth...????

Choosing the photographer was one of the first wedding planning tasks we accomplished. I must have e-mailed between 15-20 different photographers. I had no clue what our budget was, but since I am a girl who loves my memories, I was willing to splurge.
Reflecting back on the process, I should have been better about narrowing my choices before contacting all of those people. Everyone I contacted, in my opinion, is exremely talented and therefor they probably don't have a lot of time to waste e-mailing people who aren't seriously interested. At the time of contact I thought I was interested, but I just hadn't done enough research and budget planning to know exactly what we were looking for other than someone extremely talented.

I spoke with photographers ranging in the low 2K range to over 10k. The photographers over the 10k range were pretty amazing and depending on what your looking for they may be worth every penny..... but as a bride on a budget, they were knocked out of the search immediately. Luckily after a lot of searching I found a photographer who I think is worth the 10K, but doesn't charge it!
It came down to a few photographers who I set up appointments with. The first one was David Bibeault. He was recommended by a videographer we had met with. He had the lowest prices in our search, which oddly made me wary. I went in with low expectations. I always think, you get what you pay for. So I was willing to splurge on our photos because I want them to be amazing.
He made me change my whole perspective on "you get what you pay for". In my area, everyone I contacted seemed to be right around 5k or up for photography packages with what we wanted included (Engagement Shoot, Full Day Coverage, Rights to Photos, Wedding Album, Online Viewing, Disc of all Images). When we met with Dave, we not only loved his prices, but him as well. He really put us at ease. His work was amazing and totally changed my perception on the cost of things. I feel really lucky to have found him. When we first booked him he had a pretty basic site with some galleries, but a few months after booking he updated his site and started a blog and facebook page, which made me like him even more! Now I can check out his most recent work. Most of the other photographers had blogs, which really gave me more insight into their work and style. I wasn't sure what to expect from him, until I actually met with him.

The lesson I learned during the process of looking for our photographer was to do your research before contacting vendors and know that there are hidden jewels out there. If you find someone in your budget, who you doesn't have a lot of work on the internet, take the opportunity to meet him/her and give them a chance.

Did anyone else learn how to better deal with vendors and what to expect from vendors after your first few bookings?

All photos credited to: David Bibeault

Monday, March 22, 2010

Are we there yet?

Some people like quick engagements, some go for the typical year, but me and Mr. Newport, well we wanted to enjoy the "honeymoon" period. I've called him my boyfriend for 5 years pre-proposal, I'll call him fiance for 2 and then I get a lifetime to call him my husband. We chose a long engagement for a few reasons. I understand the short engagements if you don't want to wait, but we're planning a whole life together so we decided two years in the grand scheme of things wasn't that bad and honestly the time is flying by.

So why wait? Here's a few perks to a longer engagement:

1. Top choice of vendors. At two years out we still didn't get our first choice date at our venue, but we did get one in our top 5. For every other vendor so far, we have been able to get our number one choices. Like our phtographer, David Bibeault.

2. The Budget. longer time to save=our dream wedding. We only had a fraction of our budget saved when Mr. Newport asked me to say yes. So the extra two years has given us the time to really save for our dream wedding. Plus we're gaining interest on all of the money saved for a longer period of time. Interest alone has already covered two extra guests at our wedding! It was also helpful for our families, who are aslo helping to pay. My parents had just helped pay for Sister Newport's wedding, so we wanted to give them a break before wedding #2.

3. Time for DIY! I have so many projects for our wedding and if we had a short engagement, there is no way we would get things done. 4. Time to enjoy it. I think it's fun being a bride to be, and I have two full years to enjoy that status.

5. Extra reasons to celebrate. Due to our long engagement, our friends threw us an engagement party and my bridesmaids brought me out for a one year countdown celebration. They were fun extra events that aren't too common, but we loved that our friends made these days special.
The down sides to a long engagement?

For us, there really hasn't been any.... until we started house hunting. We're in the midst of purchasing our first home, and to be honest, some days I'm just over wedding planning. There are days, I wish we were married and could start focusing fully on the home, and not worry about coordinating schedules, booking appointments and budgeting for two huge life events. Our life is pretty hectic and it's sometimes hard going through the two together. I keep hoping things will calm down once we close on the house, but who am I kidding....I know I'll want to reonvate and decorate, so it looks like the Newports have a busy year ahead.

How long was your engagement? Did you find any perks or downsides to having a longer or shorter engagement?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Today I got a really exciting e-mail in my inbox. After attending the New England Food Show, BIL Newport sent me an e-mail saying:

"I was at the new england food show yesterday and saw something you guys might like for the wedding. It's a fortune cookie but it's a scallop shell. Very cool. They can be customized too. Chocolate dipped, custom color sugar, messages, etc. It's called shuckie. www.shuckie.com"

He even got us samples!

The cookies are pretty cool, after further investigation, aka, checking out their website, I learned that they have fun fortunes inside and on the back of each "quotie", they have a fact about fish. One of Mr. Newport's favorite hobbies is fishing! I love that they are nautical, unique, semi-local (out of Maine) and fun! I couldn't find pricing on the website, but I will be contacting the company to learn more. I'm really excited about BIL Newport's find for us.

Have any of your friends or family members found great wedding items or given you ideas?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Double Wedding

In March of 08' BIL Newport proposed to Sister Newport, about 7 months later, Mr. Newport got down on two knees and asked me to be his wife.

Newport Dad was ecstatic, so much so that he started coming up with "great" wedding ideas, like the double wedding. Which Sister Newport was totally on board with, I on the other hand was not. I didn't understand how you could make a wedding personal, when you are sharing the day with another couple. I joked with Sister Newport that we'd do the double wedding, if the theme was Mr. and Miss Newport. She didn't really care for that theme.

I was perfectly happy planning our own wedding, when one day, I was looking at our photographer's website and for the first time ever, I cam across a double wedding! It got me thinking about what could have been.

Look how happy this dad is, and the brides are happy too!
It would have been so special to have Newport Dad walk us down the aisle arm and arm and arm.

Photos by DBPhotography

Some days I wonder what could have been with the double wedding.....

Would you ever consider a double wedding?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Take a Seat

We've got some time before putting together our table assignments, but looking back to past weddings, I started thinking about the different ways to set up the tables. Everyone has different ideas on how guests should be seated. It typically comes down to assigned or not assigned. But when you plan to assign guests to specific tables, there are still quite a few possibilities.

Groups who know each other- This is the most common way to assign your guests. It makes sense to put people who know each other together. It makes the guests feel comfortable and lets them have fun. It's espcially great to put people who know each other, but may not see each other too often, together. This way they can catch up. This is my personal favorite. I like being able to hang out with friends and family members at other people weddings.
By age- Put the 20 somethings together, put the 30 somethings together, put the teens together, put the kids together, put the "adults" together.... At many cousin's wedding, I was put at the "kids table" and it was fun to have other kids my age to hang out with.

By couple status- If your a couple you sit with a table of couples, if your single, you sit at the singles table. I'm not so sure how I feel about this option. At a friend's wedding, I went with my fiance and we knew a lot of people at the wedding, who all happend to be single. We were put with random other couples, while most of our other single friends sat together. I would have loved to sit with our friends, but I'm sure the bride had her reasoning.

By Family- Putting an entire family together at a table, i.e. Mom, Dad, Brother and his date, sister and her date, sister and her date. I've been to a couple family weddings where this was the case. I think sometimes it makes sense, but to be honest, I'd rather sit with my cousins who I don't see as often as immediate family. But, it did get me away from my table and on the dance floor, so I can see the advantage of this to get guests mingling, while still feeling comfortable with their table.

By similarities- Putting people together who have things in common. I think this is a great way to decide on where to put that friend who doesn't know anyone else. Think of his lifestyle and put him at a table where he has people he'll enjoy hanging out with for the night. I went to a wedding with Mr. Newport for one of his childhood friends, where we pretty much knew no one. The couple put us at a table with their other friends who Mr. Newport ended up having a lot in common with (grew up on the Jersey shore, big hockey players, a couple engaged people, etc. etc.). It ended up being one of the best weddings we had ever been to, we had a blast with the group at our table and they were so easy to connect with.

Completely random- random, like pulling names out of a hat to pick table assignments. I have never seen or heard of this being done, but Newport Cousin M said she wants to do this at her future wedding to force people to mingle and have fun. She and her mom think it's the best idea ever. When they say random, this includes you most likely not sitting with your date, unless you happen to get pulled from the hat for the same table....not likely at a 200 person wedding. I'm not sure how this will go over, but it will be interesting to see.

I think we will go with a mix of a few of the above, minus the compeltely random option. I'll let Newport Cousin M introduce that one to the family. It could either be really fun or a big flop.

Are you having table assignments? If so, how are you deciding who sits where?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"You're my Lobster"

Most brides are on some type of budget, and wedding dreams sometimes need to be toned down or completely cut to make the budget work.

When we started planning our dream Newport wedding, I had big ideas. I wanted it to be a weekend affair with events throughout. Then reality set in.... a.k.a. the budget. My dreams of additional events were toned down, and we had to figure out what would give us the most bang for our buck. We decided to go with a morning after brunch as a send off for our guests. I'm so excited about the brunch, but I would have loved to treat our guests to a welcome dinner in addition to the brunch.

I had dreams of a traditional lobster bake. Can you imagine the possibilities?

I am in love with this rehearsal dinner shown on the Brian Phillips Photography blog. Click on the link to see more gorgeous photos!

I love the lobster details in this rehearsal dinner, photos by Snap! Photography, another RI photographer. The event was planned by Raina of Raina Dawn Events.
We had a senior event during our college years hosted at Kempenaar's Clambake Club in Middletown, RI. The photo possibilities would be fun! They have a built in photo area, as seen in the lovely photo by Newport photographer Faith Dugan. The site also has volleyball nets and horseshoes, which would make for a fun welcome event.

And no event is complete without a little inspiration from Martha. How cute are these diy place cards and invites?

What wedding dreams did you have to tone down or completely cut due to your budget?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Registering: the Practical

When we set up our second registry we wanted to go somewhere practical. After researching different options, we decided on Bed, Bath and Beyond. We realized they have the same items as many of their competitors, but at much cheaper prices!

For example, when we were considering china, I fell in love with Lenox's Opal Innocence. At Macy's it is typically $172.00 per place setting, but often goes on sale for $119.99. At Bed Bath and Beyond it is always $119.99 and they always have 20% off coupons, so if guests are coupon savvy, they can get the place setting at $95.99!

After learning the price differences, we were completely on board with BB&B. It doesn't hurt that they have an incredible amount of items to choose from. They have so much in fact, that we did have to visit a couple of stores to see different items. Not every store has the same inventory. Guests who live near Newport Mom will most likely shop at the store near her, but they don't have our dinnerware, we had to drive a bit further to find a store that carries it. Same with our cookware and flatware. This has been the only down side to registering at BB&B, but since we have multiple registeries, I doubt it will be an issue.

So what does our china/dinnerware look like? Well even though I absolutely love the Opal Innocence china, we decided it isn't very practical for our lifestyle. We plan to continue holidays at Mr. Newport's ant's house (if you pronounce it ant do you spell it ant or aunt? I say aunt, and Mr. Newport calls his aunt ant), or at Sister Newport's house, Newport Dad's, newport Mom's or FPIL Newport's house. We tend to visit a minimum of three houses on the holidays. So needless to say, we won't be needing it for many occassions.

Instead of a fancy china, we went for a more practical version, Wedgewood White. Mr. Newport loves the simplicity and I love that I can dress it up or down based on the ocassion.

So with practical china picked out, we were able to continue registering for some favorites like the kitchenaid mixer (did you know this is included for the 20% off coupon?), Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel non-stick cookware, Henckles knife set, Pyrex measuring cups and Calphalon bakeware.

We are such a practical couple, that BB&B was the perfect registry choice with all of their well known quality brands at great prices. This was by far the easies place to regster and our favorite. We especially love going onlien, so we can see it all in one place.

Here are a few of the other perks to registering at BB&B:

  • Incentive program- ability to receive free gifts when registering for specific items, that are purchased off of your registry
  • Gift tracker- which helps with thank you notes
  • Completion program- get a discount on items that were unfulfilled on your regitry with a one time coupon to use once in store and once online up to three months after the event
  • Free announcement cards
  • Complimentary gift packaging in store for guests
  • Hassle Free Returns
  • Refer a friend program- I was refered to BB&B by Sister Newport, so they gave her a $25.00 referral card good towards any purchase over $50.00. If you plan to register here, see if any of your friends were recently married and used tehm and make sure to tell the consultant when you set up your registry!

Did you have a favorite registry location? what made them stand out?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Registering: the Fun Stuff

When we first registered, it was 22 months before our wedding. Our friends were throwing us an engagement party and we were told to set up a registry with a few options. We decided to start out with Crate and Barrel. At that point we had no home, and weren't sure what we actually needed or wanted. We liked the idea of adding a few small ticket decorative and entertaining items.

So why Crate and Barrel? It semed like a good starting point. They have great "price points" for an engagement party. This was kind of our "starter registry", before really having to think about the important things. This was a registry of wants, as the second registry will be filling the needs and will be much more practical.

Our Crate registry ended up with about 10 items on it for our engagement party. It's been over a year since we created it, and it's up to about 20 items and I'm pretty sure it will stay that way.

My favorite decorative item is Crate's Hutton Table Lamp. I think it will go perfect with our future bed set.

Mr. Newport's favorite is the Miranda Trifle Bowl. He's hoping I'll make him lots of chocolate trifle (or goop, as he calls it), in the years to come.

A few notes on crate's registry:
  • Crate offers a 10% completion bonus. After the wedding, you can save 10% on unfulfilled registry items, including furniture.
  • Crate offers a "Thank You Manager". Before you recieve the gift, you'll know who it's from. You'll also be able to keep track of who you've thanked.
  • Gift Registry Bonus gifts. Crate has special offers based on what you register for.
  • 30 day return policy.
  • Offer registry guide and check list.
  • Offer announcement cards.

Are you registering at more than one store? Do your registries have different vibes (practical, fun, decorative, etc.)?