Dolly Couture

So I found a new possibility for a wedding dress:

The Beverlywood.  I found it on a site called Dolly Couture, which specializes in short, vintage-inspired dresses.  It gives me that Mad Men-y feel, which I think matches the bridesmaids’ dresses pretty well.  But…it’s $595.  A lot more than the under-$100 dresses I had been looking into.  Although considering many people spend thousands on a dress, I suppose the $600 range ain’t too shabby.

Thoughts?

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Caterer–done and done. Finally.

I had no idea what a heart of palm was until last night.  Well, as it turns out, it is one of the most delicious additions to a salad ever invented.  (Or grown, I suppose.)  And if you come to our wedding, you’ll get to taste for yourself.

Yes, I am talking about food at our wedding, and that can mean only one thing: Mike and I finally nailed down a caterer!

We went for a tasting with Crave last night.  The evening started out kind of horribly; insane NJ Transit train delays doubled with the F line only running part of the way into Brooklyn caused us to be over an hour late.  (Thanks, Mother Nature and your stupid power-outage-causing heat wave.)  But things turned around the minute we walked in to find our candlelit place settings ready and waiting for us.  Thank god Marco and Debbie are New Yorkers; they figured with the train delays we would be getting there even later than we did.  So all was well, and we didn’t get served dried-out food that had been waiting under heating lamps, like I was half expecting.

I don’t think there was much doubt in our minds that we’d be going with Crave as our caterer.  After all the troubles we had trying to find a place that would contact us on a regular basis and be only medium-ridiculously expensive, I think we went in knowing that, as long as the food tasted good, Crave would be it.  And lordy, did the food taste good.

This was the only tasting we did (aside from eating dinner at Stone House when we were still sort of considering them), but man, I wish we did more.  We got to try everything that was on our proposed menu–and I mean everything–and it all rocked my world.  From grilled gruyere cheese sandwiches with truffle oil to the amazing salad with said hearts of palm, Mike and I were in foodie heaven.  And, I’m proud to say to my vegetarian guests, that we will be serving seitan at our wedding.  Seitan!  No plate of side dishes here.  O. M. G.  And geez, the place is called Crave; the connection to White Castle is uncanny.  And of course, mini sliders–both meat and veggie–will be part of the cocktail hour.  Love it.

So, here it is, a sneak-peak at our dinner menu:  Hanger Steak with Jicama and Pear Slaw for the meat eaters, Red Snapper with Mussels for the fishy people, and Sweet and Sour Seitan with Black Rice for the veg-heads.  And for dessert?  Rice Krispie treats made with wild rice and chocolate-chili cakes with blood orange sauce.  I am ecstatic.

And for the record, here’s a heart of palm: Just imagine it on a delectable bed of field greens, tossed with sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and orange slices, topped with a vidalia onion dressing.

Holy crap, I am going to need a wedding dress with an elastic waistband.

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Good things come to those who wait.

Well, the wedding gods must have been reading my blog of late with all its financial woes and complaints, because things have taken a turn for the better: I just found out that Mike and I won that photography contest we entered way back when with Cake and Cider!  I got an email today from the photographer, the lovely Leigh Metzler, who informed me of this.  I don’t know any of the details yet, but…we won a contest.  Finally.

Thank you, Cake and Cider, for allowing us to have a real photographer at our wedding.  We were just going to rely on people’s camera phones and those disposable things, but now, we’re legit.

!!!

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On Sacrifices.

**WARNING: This post is not to make me sound like a rich snob or a pitiful soul.  It just is what it is.

So, the other day — Friday, to be exact — Mike and I were invited into New York for a friend’s birthday.  Everyone was going to be grabbing dinner and then heading to a karaoke bar, so I was pumped; I love karaoke.  And food.  Mike and I discussed the tiny issue of money, that karaoke with our group of friends usually ends up costing way more than anyone intends, and dinner in the city is always two times as much as something you’d get in NJ — but we sort of brushed these concerns off.  It was karaoke!  And for our friend, who is awesome.  So we planned to go.

But as the day went on, this minute concern of money started festering and growing.  But no big deal; by the time Mike got home from work, we were able to squelch these thoughts with the compromise that we’d eat dinner at home, and then head into the city.  So, we scrounged around our cabinets, discussing how much we’d rather just order in Thai or get burgers at Red Robin, but finally settling on grilled cheese because that’s all we really had in the house.  Grilled cheese for dinner.  Yep.

So after our filling meal, we set off for the train station.  We got there right on time, punching our ticket order into the little automated kiosk right as the train was pulling in.  But as our tickets were printing out, I saw it on the screen: $49 for two round-trip tickets.  Forty-nine dollars!  That’s halfway to a hundred!  Needless to say, as we got onto the train, my heart sank.

Here is where I should interrupt and mention that I am currently an unemployed idiot.  As a teacher, I had the option at the beginning of the school year of taking my paychecks over the 10 months that I actually work, or having my money spread out over the entire year.  Stupidly, I thought myself willful enough to take out a chunk from every paycheck and put it into a “summer savings account” that would both provide me funds for summer living and accrue interest.  Unfortunately, these “summer savings” deposits stopped as soon as Christmas present shopping rolled around.  And that brings me to where I am now: on summer vacation from both work and paychecks.  I got myself a part-time job slinging coffee at a Starbucks, but they pay eight dollars an hour.  Enough said.

But that brings me back to Mike and me on the train: I had the unsettling thought cross my mind that one and a half hours of working at Starbucks barely bought me my train ticket one way.  And we were planning on coming home that night, so there would go three hours of working for me, all for the sake of NJ Transit — not even counting the actual reason why we were taking the train, which was hanging out in the city, which would probably be two times more expensive than the silly train tickets!

So, I had what was probably the closest I’ve ever come to a panic attack, and as Mike and I approached the station immediately after Edison, where we had gotten on, he suggested: let’s hop off and think about this.  They hadn’t taken our tickets yet, so we could save them…and money.  So we did.  We hopped off at Metuchen, just as the doors were sliding shut, to think.

Unfortunately for us and our city-bound night, thinking didn’t help us any.  The more I thought about throwing financial caution to the wind versus being frugal and not going in at all, the more I depressed myself over just how much we’d be spending over the next few (paycheckless) months: we have to go into the city again next Thursday to do a tasting with our possible caterer ($50 for train tickets, again; $80 for the tasting…and $8000 if we actually want to sign with the caterer and put down our first payment).  My car insurance runs out at the end of the summer ($500, mayhaps?).  Speaking of my car, I’m still paying off the new cooling system that needed to be put in two weeks ago ($1,200 right there).  And did we mention that we might have to spend EIGHT THOUSAND if we sign with Crave?  And that I’m making EIGHT DOLLARS an hour at Starbucks?

And so, we never did end up going to the city that night.  And it absolutely broke my heart, not because I really wanted to do karaoke, and not only because I felt incredibly guilty for telling my friend we’d be coming to meet him — but because it made this whole wedding thing all too real.  It was one of the first times I can honestly say I doubted whether or not we’d be able to afford everything; and the sad thing is, I’m still not convinced.  Any time in the past, when I’d splurge on a night in the city or an unplanned shopping spree online, I’d find ways to cut down on my typical monthly spending to make up for it.  But now, if I spend a lot on a single night in New York, I still will owe $5000 for Galapagos, $16,000 for our caterer, etc. etc. etc.  I can’t compromise once I’ve signed a contract.  And that scares me.

I say this to you, dear reader, not to depress you, or make me sound like I’m just complaining because I want it all, both the lavish wedding and extravagant daily living.  I am plainly making a point: weddings are expensive, and that just sucks.  Simple as that.

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A sample Galapagos wedding.

When Mike and I first went to Galapagos to check out the space for our reception, one of the first things they said to us was that they would soon be featured in an issue of Martha Stewart Weddings.  Although they said it as more of an implication that once the issue hits newsstands the world is going to want to have their wedding at Galapagos so you better book it now, sort of thing, they were talking to the right audience, because I’m a sucker for all things Martha.  Even if she is a former jailbird, she has some kick-ass ideas, and if she’s going to give her stamp of approval to the location of my wedding, I’ll be able to sleep better at night.

Well, the issue came out this summer.  Check out these pics on 100 Layer Cake, and see Martha’s take on it here.  It’ll provide a good few of both the space and Brooklyn Bridge Park, where we hope to have the ceremony!

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Money is truly the root of all evil.

Much time has elapsed since Mike and I have done anything significant in terms of wedding planning.  But, yesterday we met with a caterer — the first one we actually deemed worthy enough to meet in person — and it went relatively well, I think.  I didn’t really know what to expect from this meeting with Crave Catering.  It wasn’t going to be a tasting; just a sort of meet-and-greet chat session.  But we ended up talking with Marco, one of the two proprietors and head chefs, for almost two hours, and we walked out with a tentative menu, a tentative price, and a free Crave pad and pencil set.

Our experience with finding a caterer, as mentioned in other posts, hasn’t been easy.  Whether they’re way out of our price range (and snooty about it, like Naturally Delicious) or they fail to communicate with us at all (like Seasons and Dish), caterers are an enigmatic lot.  I can see why people opt for the all-in-one reception hall/catering facility-type places for their weddings — one price covers all.  But Mike and I were staunchly against having a “typical” reception hall for our wedding, so this is the burden we have to face, I suppose.

It wouldn’t be a problem if everything wasn’t so dang expensive.  In fact, I would be 100% promoting the hell out of Crave if it wasn’t for the fact that it still feels out of our price range.  The price quoted to us yesterday was $70-85 per head, which is fine, if that were the only cost we had to contend with.  But it’s not: add on rentals, service fees, and gratuity, and that $8000 for 100 people jumps to upwards of $16,000.  Again, not too bad if that were all we had to pay to throw this wedding.  But considering the cost of renting Galapagos…and hiring a photographer…and getting flowers…and hotel rooms…and bridal party gifts…it’s overwhelming.

Now I can see why some couples elope.

But despite all my fiscal complaints, the meeting with Crave, like I said, went well.  Marco seems to have the same priorities as we do, and he does seem to have our wallets in mind in terms of knowing where to cut back and where not to.  So we’ll see.  Our goal is to have a caterer locked down by the end of the summer.  And if we go with Crave, I can promise Gruyere and Truffle Oil Grilled Cheese and Wild Rice Krispie Treats to all on April 16, 2011.

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A little wedding humor…

My friend Amruta shared this with me. I can only hope I’m lucky enough to capture such photography gold on my wedding day…

Select 2008-2009 winners
from the Wedding Photo Journalist Association’s
photo contest.
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