Thursday, January 28, 2010

Choosing a Venue: Part 2

In Part 1 of our choosing the venue adventure, I talked about a gorgeous ballroom that I fell in love with, and how seeing the pricing was an eye-opener experience. If you haven’t read Part 1 and want to catch up, go ahead, I’ll wait ;-)

The adventure in our second venue was… well, short. I’ll call it the venue that never was. And, before I continue, I need to give props to the mister, as he did the legwork on this one!

Venue #2: Independence Grove

Independence Grove is a gorgeous forest preserve in Lake County. The grounds are breathtaking! I’ve visited the preserve on weekends with the mister, and also for a few work-related events. However, I really hadn’t given it much thought as a possible venue. Not until someone at work suggested it, since a family member had held a wedding there.

Now, I’ve never been the outdoorsy type. Yes, I enjoy a walk here and there, and yes, I appreciate a beautiful landscape. But, I’m a girl of certain comforts, like air conditioning, and not having the wind mess with my hair (car door windows are always up in my car, drives the mister nuts!). The mister, on the other hand, loves the outdoors, loves camping, and loves driving with the windows rolled down. Knowing how happy a wedding at Independence Grove would make him, I decided to add it to our list of venues to check out (he was ecstatic!). I looked at their website, seeing they offered indoor and outdoor spaces, I knew we could come to a compromise: having an indoor reception with the opportunity to step outside to enjoy nature. Plus, the pictures would be gorgeous!

I wish I had pictures to show you, but here is a beautiful slide show of weddings at Independence Grove. Go right ahead to see them, I’ll wait :-)

The mister offered to make the necessary calls, and he did (who says grooms can’t be involved in wedding planning?). A couple days later, he received all the needed information in his e-mail. I have to admit, I was excited at the possibility of holding the reception there but, by the time I was through reading all the information, the possibility completely faded away.

The information included the cost of renting the venue (no problem), table cloths and linens rental (that’s fine), and the $8,000 food minimum for that evening by a specified caterer—wait, WHAT!?!? All dreaming of a wedding at Independence Grove came to a screeching halt and, sadly, the mister and I decided to immediately scratch it off our venue list.

Do you dream of an outdoor or indoor wedding? Do you foresee a compromise between the two?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Choosing a Venue: Part 1

We began looking for a venue last summer. At the time, I had no idea how expensive a wedding could be, and this was a real eye opener! At one point during this journey, I faced the mister and asked, “Where do poor people get married?” I don’t think either of us knew the answer to that one! In the end, it wasn’t as gruesome as I originally thought it would be. Since the wedding will be in Illinois, I didn’t want it to be too far from where I live. Living an hour and a half away from Chicago, a city wedding was definitely out.

So, where did we start looking?

Venue #1: Concorde Banquets

They’re located a bit further away than I would have liked but I may have been overreacting (really, 45 minutes can’t be that bad, can it?). However, the beautiful ballrooms completely made up for it!

When we walked in, this is what we saw in the reception/lobby area.

And a peek at one of their ballrooms

And how amazing is this spot for pictures?

The venue was gorgeous! They offer several different packages, but we looked at the Traditional Package. Some of the things in this package include dinner (complete with appetizers, salad, and sides), the wedding cake, four hours of open bar, linen napkins, and floor length tablecloths. All in all, not a bad package. Who am I kidding? It was awesome!

The set back? Their guest minimums ranged between 100 and 150. Well above our total guest list of maybe 70! I fell in love with their ballroom (like the one in the picture), unfortunately, the minimum for that one ranged at 140-150. They did have another room that could accommodate a smaller guest list, but it just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t like it, the ballroom had stole my heart!

So, with a packet of information in one hand, and the mister’s hand in the other, we left our first venue. When I got home, I promptly jumped on my computer and started crunching numbers in Excel. And that’s when it hit me, my first eye-opener to this still-new wedding-driven industry: if we really wanted our wedding to be held there, we’d need to shell out anywhere between $7,000 and $10,500 for it!

How did you begin your venue search? Was it an eye-opener or had you been mentally prepared?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where to Get Married

One of the decisions that we made early on was where the wedding was going to be held. Not where as in venue, but where geographically. See, I’m originally from Puerto Rico. Don’t know where that is? It’s a tiny, little island in the Caribbean.

What? You mean you can barely see this 110x35 mile island? Let me help you out!

I moved to Illinois in August, 2008. That’s a whooping 2,000 miles!!

Source: Google Maps (edited by me)

My lovely fiancé is from Illinois, so his family is here. And where is my family? In Puerto Rico, and New Jersey, and some scattered among different other states. I knew that my family would want the wedding to be in PR, but I knew that would be a logistical nightmare. I wasn't too keen on the idea of choosing a venue that I couldn't see, a caterer that I couldn't meet, and so on. Or in transporting favors, centerpieces, and a wedding dress (among a million other things, I'm sure) from IL to PR. My mom lives back home, but I couldn't spring wedding planning on her. She works Mondays through Saturdays plus goes to school at night!

With these things in mind, my FI and I decided that having the wedding here in IL would be the best way to go for us.

Are you and your fiancé from two far away places? Did you have to decide between two different locations? How did you decide?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

December 19, 2009

A month ago today, I found myself in Puerto Rico. It was an almost last minute decision to purchase that plane ticket (I really had to crunch some numbers first). I think deep down I knew I’d be going, no matter what. And why am I writing about this, you ask? Simple: one month ago today, one of my dear friends got married.

It was a simple, yet moving ceremony. She looked absolutely beautiful, and a few of us traveled from different states to attend. Being there made me reflect about what really matters in a wedding. It’s not about budgets and dollar signs, about flowers and centerpieces, or even about vendors and contracts, and how everything ties together. It’s about love, two people vowing to love and honor each other, becoming one. It’s about being surrounded by loved ones on such memorable occasion. It’s about sharing such an intimate and personal moment with everyone you hold dear.

As I continue to plan for my September wedding, I know there will be moments in which I’ll probably become overwhelmed, trying to please my family and all guests. I know my FI will tell me to forget about them all and worry about what we want. I’ll probably obsess about our small budget and how to save on costs, about coordinating color schemes and preparing favors, and I’ll more than likely become lost in the confusing tangle the wedding industry has politely provided for all brides-to-be out there. If this happens, I’ll remember to look back on that December 19th evening, when I was blessed to witness one of my best friends marry the man she loves. I’ll remember how filled with joy I was at being part of such an important moment in both of their lives. And I’ll hope that our guests, our loved ones, feel the same way next September.

Personal Photo

To my friend, in this one month anniversary of your wedding, I wish you nothing but happiness, and many, many years of love and joy for you and your husband. Thank you for letting me be a part of such a big day. May God bless you, him, and your marriage.

Have you attended a wedding that made you remember what’s really important? Has the wedding industry overwhelmed you in any way?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Etsy Finds: Cake Toppers

I know I haven't posted for the last few days, but it's been quite busy lately! Between a dinner party, Sunday outings, work, gym, and a DIY project, there's barely any time left! So, to make up a bit for the lack of posts lately, I want to share with you some Etsy finds in the cake toppers department.

Warning: Some of these are too cute for words!


It's hard for me to pick a favorite, as they are adorable! Especially the first and third one. I'm sure the Mr. would just adore #4: Game Over! He currently owns a shirt that has a bride and a groom and it says Game Over. (And who gifted him with such a shirt you ask? Well, my bridesmaid!!)

Don't you just love these? Which one is your favorite?

Friday, January 8, 2010

First DIY Project: Save the Dates!

I really, really have to get moving on wedding planning and executing! It’s so difficult when you have a million ideas going round in your head and the only items accomplished off the big list are:

1. Get ring on finger
2. Get church for ceremony
3. Get venue for reception
4. Semi-finalized guest list
5. Wedding colors

Yep, that’s my big list of accomplishments with only eight months to go. So, what’s next on my list you ask? I’ll let you take a peek.

1. Hire entertainment (music) DIY Save the Dates
2. Hire photographer Hire entertainment (music)
3. Buy wedding dress Hire photographer
4. DIY Save the Dates Buy wedding dress

You read right, the very top of my list right now is making the STDs, which would be my very first wedding DIY project! I wanted this to be the top of my list (even if it doesn’t make sense to other people) just because working on this is the first step to making this wedding personal, ours.

There are so many great and beautiful ideas for STDs out there, that I couldn’t quite decide what I wanted to do. The one idea that stuck out the most was to do magnets. It seemed easy. But then I started changing my mind…

Aren’t these so beautiful? So creative? I could already feel my magnet idea fading away in the distance…

And then I found these

That was it; the magnets were out the window, gone!

I am hoping to begin making the coasters on Sunday, or maybe I'll be able sneak a couple of trials in tomorrow Saturday. I'll let you know how it goes!

What is/was your first wedding DIY project? Did you move it to the top of your To-Do list?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Bride Wedding Cake

I absolutely have to share this! One of the details of a wedding is the cake, and many brides have an idea of what they'd like their wedding cake to be. But this bride takes the cake (literally!) to a whole new level: a life-sized cake created after her!

Read the article here.

What other cool and unique ideas do you have for your wedding cake?

DIY Envelopes

I was catching up with various blogs that I read and came across this gorgeous envelope:

Ashley, over at (never home)maker, created this wonderful envelope from 12x12 paper. Imagine the gorgeous envelopes you can create for your invitation suite, your save the dates, your thank you notes, or something not wedding related at all! The possibilities are endless!!

Check out the DIY instructions here.

What other simple DIY details have you found to incorporate in your wedding?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wedding Colors

Choosing our wedding colors has not been an easy decision to make. You’d think that this would be one of the easiest decisions to make. And that’s exactly what I believed, up until a few months ago. When I first got engaged, I began imagining what our wedding would look like. Soon after, I had a full palette: soft shades of blues, purple, lavender, and silver.

Although my favorite color has always been pink, I didn’t think my fiancé would appreciate it. I really liked the palette I had chosen, and my fiancé really liked it as well. However, the more I looked at it, the more I realized that it was a bit cold. And here’s where the wonderful second thoughts creep in! I wanted a way to introduce some warm colors but I couldn’t come up with anything.

In comes our venue!

A few months after our engagement, we finally decided on a venue for the reception (but that story will be another post!). With our venue came even more doubts as to the original color palette. See, the ballroom where our reception will be hosted is beautifully decorated, and the predominant color is gold.

Source: Personal Picture

While walking through the ballroom, I just didn’t see the blues and the lavenders and the silver… at all! I saw more warm colors… shades of brown, shades of beige and cream, and (to my fiancé’s dismay) a very soft, pale pink.

So, after much debate (more than half a year!), I give you our wedding colors!

What was your vision for your wedding colors and how did it evolve over time?

PS: To create these palettes (as well as browse through quite a few of them), I used COLOURlovers.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!! I know I’m three days late, but still. This is my first post of 2010 and the customary greeting was still needed ;-)

I continue my research into all wedding related (and sometimes not-so-much) stuff and I came across this

Quite interesting, isn’t it? This is one bride that literally glows on her wedding day! The bride, Julia, wanted her wedding dress to be lighted up, and a friend designed this unique garment. You can read about it here.

Is there a unique feature you want to incorporate in your wedding dress or wedding in general?