The count down has begun....

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Bands Are Here!

Ring shopping wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Sharine had purchased my engagement ring in 2005 at a jewelry store that went out of business a few years ago. The ring, which has three diamonds strategically cut and when placed together forms a heart, is one of a kind (well at least we've never even seen anything close to it). So of course this made us think we were going to have a hard time finding a band for it. We couldn't be any more wrong. On our first day out we found a great match, and even though we didn't purchase it right away we would go back to that store in the diamond district (NYC) and buy the band for me.

Although Sharine's engagement ring actually had a matching band when I initially purchased it I only had purchasing an engagement ring in mind. The ring, which has small diamonds clustered together to form what looks like a bouquet touched my heart as soon as I saw it. I envisioned myself proposing to her and placing this bouquet of diamonds on her finger as I asked her to be my wife. Even though I knew she hadn't wanted an engagement ring and would only wear a band after we got married, I couldn't not officially ask her to be my wife and place a ring of commitment on her finger. As we looked for a matching band for her ring I remembered that I had seen one already at Zales where I had bought her engagement ring so when we finally had a chance to go there they still had it and so this was the ring Sharine decided on.

All in all it was one of the easiest wedding purchases we have made thus far!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

First Go @ Invitations

Front of SAVE_THE_DATE (postcard)

Back of SAVE_THE_DATE (postcard)

I must say does impress. Often you don't have high expectations when you are purchasing something that doesn't cost as much as it could. So when I ordered the one Save-The-Date card & one pack of 10 invites (it was the smallest amount that could be ordered), I wasn't expecting much from the very inexpensive printing company. However, in the past I had ordered a personalized photo mouse pad as a gift and since it came out pretty cool I figured 'why not' see what they can do that's wedding related.

Front of Invitation (back is solid pink & text can be added)

Well I will be the first to admit. I AM impressed. If your a budget bride and invitations and the like are not high on your priority list then is for you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sign on the the ...... line!

Well today we gathered our deposits and signed two more contracts. One for our DJ and the other for our Officiant. Now I don't know if I am just an 'old school' kind of girl or what, but it's so weird to me that now you can just sign a contract, mail, fax or scan & email it to the other party (along with your deposit of course), and then they sign it, mail it, fax it or scan and email it back to you.

It just all seems so none-personable to me. I guess I like to conduct my business in person, enjoy the pleasure of everyone signing, handing over my deposit, and shaking a hand or two.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where is our darn invitations?!?!?

So yesterday we went on an invitation hunt. We got a lead on how Walmart has some great prices on invitations that actually look good and all you have to do is buy the kits and print them yourself. Now see to me that not only sounds like a bargain, but doable. I guess however, you can't always believe what you read even though your leads are coming from other brides who were successful in coping their Walmart invites.

Unfortunately, Sha and I can not even come close to saying the words "Houston, we have our invites!". Although we love Walmart, don't get me wrong, they just don't have anything worth even spending $30 on in terms of invites. Now I'm all for a bargain, but the product has to at least LOOK good even if I find out later that it isn't.

Since first impressions are lasting impressions, we are just not Walmart invitation buyers!

So off to Michael's (the craft store) we go.

At Michael's again we didn't see any weddng invitation kits to our liking. So we headed on over to the DIY aisle (aka/Card Making/Scrapbooking aisle). Here we became dazed and confused. I mean there was nothing that scream THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!!! for the newbie card makers we would be. So after about an hour of looking, and reading, and discussing, and inspecting, I found myself becoming more and more discouraged. My whole mood changed and I began to realize that this is how poor folks who want to get married but don't have a create DIY bone in their body end up spending tons of money they don't really have.

So off to online invitation shopping we go.....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To blog or not to blog!?!?!

Today I decided to FINALLY check out the world of blogging from the 'other' end. Up until now I've only been a 'reader' of blogs even though I've often wondered what it would be like to write one. Of course the big dilemma was if I did have a blog what in the world would I blog about?!?! I mean after all my life isn't that exciting, I don't have any hobbies or tips that I would like to share with others nor do I feel the need to purge. Well at least not until now.

For the last few months my girlfriend and I have been wedding planning and it's been a very interesting experience for me. Not only because we are two brides, but more so because the wedding planning experiences is 'unique' and the multi million dollar wedding industry is a world all it's own.

So much so, I wrote a blog about it......

(Prior to me starting this blog we had already found our wedding venue. To read about the venues we visited in NYC & the experiences we had during our visits, see all post below this one and click on 'older post'.)

Say "ccchhheeeeesssseeee!!!!"


We found our guy. Our photographer that is.

You ever meet someone for the first time and feel like old friends?!?!? Well that's what happened when we met Jared of 'J & J Photography'. He was so down to earth and we laughed, and we joked and we just LIKED him.

Now of course we always have to 'think' & 'discuss' before finalizing any kind of business with someone. We also have to read the contract, including the fine prints and then 'sleep' on it.

Well the moment we walked out of Jared's place we 'knew'. But, we slept on it... and a few days later the contract was signed!!!!

~ and yes, his work is GOOD... he had plenty to share ~

To have & to hold....

Thus far the most interesting part of our wedding planning for me has been finding someone to marry us. Since we aren't 'members' of a church (although we go from time to time), I didn't feel right about getting married in a church. At any rate, before we were going to be legally married (NYC isn't legal, but CT is) I hadn't given much thought to who would perform the ceremony. We began to search online (like we do with most anything else) and found out that 'celebrants' will gladly perform commitment ceremonies. Of course the first thing I need to do was become familiar with what a celebrant was, and once I got over that hump I was all for it.

So we began by looking at a few websites and emailing celebrants about their availability for our wedding date. Once the initial contact was made & we found out our date was available we started to meet prospective masters of our ceremony lol. Although the meetings themselves went well I was actually struck by the 'cost' of hiring a celebrant. The price range we encountered was from $600-$5,000+. Thus far out of 3 candidates we have said not thank you to 1 (Ms. $5,000+ who's cheapest package was $1,150 & darn it you didn't even get a keepsake of the ceremony, no rehearsal, nada!). Another we liked but at $800 I kind of feel like I would be paying for for that than my wedding band which would be cheaper and at least I get to keep my wedding band for life!! Now the third, which is the least expensive was nice but didn't seem as professional as the other two. You could tell that although she may be great, she is still learning her craft... even in terms of selling her service and making you believe she is 'your' girl.

So as it stands now..... we may be marrying ourselves for FREE!! lol

Seen one, seen em' ALL...

Wedding Expos...

I'm not sure if I am really digging em'. I mean back in 08' I was a maid of honor and my fiance and I both went with them to the 'Great Bridal Expo' in NYC Marriott Hotel in Times Square. On this day it was kind of cool seeing all that was being offered for engaged couples although I wasn't digging the crowds. However, my fiance I attended again this year since now we were the couple planning our own wedding.

Well I don't know what I expected, but geeeesshhh it was just yucky. Not that anything had changed, except we saw a few vendors I didn't remember seeing last year, but maybe that was just 'it'. Nothing new, exciting, or fresh seem to intrigue us and we ended up sitting down just relaxing until the fashion show began. Luckily, they had some cool wedding bands there to entertain us and the fashion was 'okay' or else it would have been a total bore.

Since then we have given two more a try because they were being hosted by different companies and at different venues. The first we checked out was at the Astor Center because we wanted to really see if the venue it's self was for us. The venue turned out not to be ($$$$$), and the expo it's self was quaint and cute. The set up was so much better but most of what was being offered was not for the 'budget' bride like ourselves.

The second expo we gave a try was 'The Wedding Salon' at the Roosevelt Hotel not far from Grand Central Station. Another expo geared towards the rich & richer, and really just a horrible set up. Mass confusion, no crowd control, and just ugh. The best thing about that one was they had nice table displays.... if you could get close enough to see one!

El Bizcocho, Las Flores y La Musica

4/11/10::: This weekend was filled with planning and fun. We are just getting back from an overnight in Stamford, CT and we decided to book a room at the Holiday Inn Stamford-Downtown where our wedding ceremony & reception will be held.

During this overnight we made appointments to visit the bakery where our cake is coming from (it's included in our catering package), and the tasting was YUM_E!! Angela Mia Bakery in Norwalk, CT is good!

Next we visited with a prospective florist (Vanessa of 'Simple N Elegant') which was a recommendation from our venue. The prices were really not what we wanted to spend for such a small wedding. So we are going to continue our search.

Lastly, we visited with a gentlmen who owns his own entertainment company (Mark of 'Jamkat Entertainment') & his wife. Their services include dj, photography, videography and more...We REALLY liked him and his wife and they are VERY budget friendly compared to a lot of what's out there. So this may be one more thing we do have very soon.

April Showers, Bring.... *smiles*.... 6 months and 17 days later!!

4/1/10::: We received our contract revision and are ready to sign. We plan on vising the site again for the signing this upcoming weekend. Things are finally looking UP in terms of finding the right venue for our budget...and we're so glad we have finally found our venue.

4/3/10::: So we decided to take an unscheduled visit back out to our venue, to take another look see and sign the contract in person. In this day & age of faxing it wasn't a requirement. However, if I'm spending my hard earned money I'd prefer to do so IN PERSON! With all that said... we FINALLY booked a venue. All it took was 6 months and 17 days!! lol

Getting Excited!!!

3/21/10::: So I never thought I would be the kind of gal to like a 'hotel' wedding venue. Lo-n-behold, I do, I do, I do. Yesterday we visited Holiday Inn Stamford Downtown, which was just renovated about a year ago and from the moment you walk in you are hit with a modern day decor which gives it an 'upscale' feel. Located in another state (CT, and we're in NYC), but only 45 minutes away it was well worth the travel. For starters the hotel does have a complimentary shuttle that will take you to & from the hotel when you arrive (we came by train), and also for visits throughout the local area. Along with the modern day decor and shuttle service, the Holiday Inn Stamford Downtown has many venue spaces to choose from. ALSO, their starting price for wedding packages is VERY reasonable and they do cater your menu to your liking if you don't want a package. The only downside is the ceremony space. You can either have it in the room you choose, or the atrium near the running waterfall (more like a waterwall) which is a public space that they can make private with dividers. Since same-sex marriage is not legal in NY, but is in CT we had decided to check out CT and have a 'destination' wedding (minus the sun, sand and surf). If this works out, we will have an intimate weekend wedding with our dearest friends in attendance.!
3/31/10::: A contract!... we've finally received our contract from Holiday Inn Stamford Downtown. Except for the time noted for the rental of one of their rooms for our rehearsal dinner, everything else looks good. We are waiting for a revision as we wanted to have our rehearsal dinner from 7-10, and not 6-9, since it is a Friday evening and everyone will be coming from out of town.

As March Marches On...

So we took a break from looking at venues, and although this break was not something discussed it just sort of happened. We stopped emailing venue managers, we stopped making appointments, and we just kind of quietly both kept looking up venues but neither of us making any real effort to hit the pavement again. Now I'm not sure if this because we had become discouraged not being able to find anything, or if contemplating moving the wedding date had stopped the urgency. At any rate during the months of Dec., Jan. & Feb. our venue search became dormant. At least until......

3/1/10::: Still planning 'mentally', but nothing as really come along and given us that 'it' feeling. Maybe we're being to picky, or maybe because we know it's a one shot thing and we want it all. At any rate, we've entertained the thought of going to CT since it's legal there, we've thought about a B & B setting out of the city, and even a cruise. For now though.... the search continues....

3/8/10::: Been searching through some CT websites and there are a few nice locations. The venues are emailing me back and we have an April visit for one of them already. Another venue here in NYC has invited us to an 'open house' so to speak. This will be taking place this Thursday (3/11/10).

3/10/10::: On a whim we decided to ask a representative of a venue I had come across (right here in Manhattan) if she was available for a showing today. She was free and gave us the tour. We LOVED it! Right place, right space, right catch. They have a particular caterer we must use soooooo, we are hoping to schedule a tasting soon and we are hoping it will be delicious! The downside (catch) is their point of entry. You have to walk through the ice skating rink area since the venue is housed @ Chelsea Piers which is a multiplex of sporting facilities. By taking that route you will encounter ice skaters of all ages and noise. Once you've gotten by it though, the venue is a great space. The VIEW (if you love the water) at Sunset Terrace, is what seals the deal. Gorgeous.... and so THIS would be our place if the total cost is in our budget. Thinking on it.

3/12/10::: Last night we checked out a wedding venue here in NYC called Astor Center. I had emailed the venue for some general information which always includes the first question of 'Is your venue same-sex ceremony friendly?', and not only did we get a "yes" but a free invitation to a wedding expo they were having there. The expo was cute & quaint, not one of those huge 'which way do we go' type of events. We were able to visit with different cake, cookie and chocolate makers, caterers, as well as enjoy martinis and a champagne tasting AND see the actual venue space. The venue which has two lovely rooms (the gallery & the lounge) was actually really nice. It didn't give us that 'feeling', but it wasn't bad at all. The downside is the space rental is $$$ to our wallets and it doesn't include catering. So even if we had gotten that 'feeling', we would still have had to pass.

As the Venue Search Continues

As October rolled in we continued our venue search......

11/02/09::: City Hall Restaurant....this was a nice space, but dark because it's in the lower level of the restaurant & has no windows. The price is one of the cheapest we've come across but it just didn't give us that 'feeling'. Besides, our date was already booked.

11/06/09::: Tasting... The Inn @ Irving Place... yum! We enjoyed all 6 courses and it's very us, but very different in terms of the people we know. I would love to use this venue for that reason, it's so 'us'. I know you have to make your guest happy but for all the money a wedding cost the couple's happiness should be the 1st priority. It's our memories that need to be preserved.

11/08/09::: As we wait to hear from venues we decided to go forward with researching caterers since we really liked the Seamen's Church. Since this venue only provides the space, tables & chairs.... a catering cost would be inevitable. Of course with a low budget we couldn't even dream of having a decent caterer. At any rate I've emailed me all of the ones this venue works with and boy oh boy the cost is CRAZY! ..and just think some of them probably have terrible food!

11/13/09::: WOW! I was emailing back & forth with a catering company (Steven Brown Caterers, contact person Denise is lovely) and we were able to get the cost of a $12,000+ package down to $10,000+, then down to $9,000+. We were told they could find MORE ways to cut cost if we came in for a consultation so that they can see exactly what is important to us for our wedding. Low and behold we are now at $6,000+ for food, non alcoholic beverages & mixers, linens, tableware, cooking equipment and staff. We are saving by supplying our own liquor & supplying our own cake. We also save buy not having water glasses on the table, not renting martini glasses and other things they charge you for & you may not need. We can get water at the bar, and have a cocktail drink that requires an all purpose glass. Heck we're gonna do the linen napkins but if we did paper we'd save $114. Who knew?!?! lol

11/13/09::: Visited The Ketch this evening since we already had the appointment before narrowing it down to our top two places. This is nice place if your looking for more of a casual affair. The prices are EXCELLENT for a New York Venue. It was about $70 a person for food & drinks. The 1st floor space is more elegant than the lower level, but the lower level is more private. Not sure if having a ceremony there would be as nice though. The reception would be nice.

11/17/09::: Still waiting on two proposals. One place is an Inn & requires no hiring of a catering company, no decorations, just music. The other is a blank canvas so to speak but with tables & chairs. This requires a caterer, decorations, music. We both have the same favorite and are going back for a second visit this evening. I'm hoping the stars are lining up properly and in the words of Michael Jackson "THIS IS IT!" lol.

11/21/09::: We still haven't gotten a proposal from either of our top 2 venues. Uphm!!!

11/28/09::: A sad kind of day.... we decided to change our date. There are certain things we just really don't want to skimp on so we are saving for a longer period of time. We are not going mark our 10th year together with a 10-10-10 wedding, but instead get married either late summer or early fall of 2011.

11/30/09::: Met `M (Minwin of 'life magical'), a prospective photographer. We loved his quirky personality and he was so upbeat....we're hiring him for sure!

With a change of day I was a little sad, but sure we would find and even better venue in the long run.

Hitting The Ground Running

Once we decided to get married, we wasted no time hitting the venue circuit....

10/03/09::: Visited The Park. NICE!!! Indoor/Outdoor feel. Three celebration spaces to choose from. We liked the 'park' area for the ceremony and the lounge for cocktails & dancing. We were also able to taste the food. We LOVED every dish!!! We are awaiting the cost for what we would want.

10/4/09::: STRESS = no venue found yet!

10/05/09::: Bridal Expo @ The Marriott. Nice fashion show, but booths were pretty boring. Two good things came out of it, we registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond...and we tasted a GREAT cupcake & may consider that bakery for our wedding.

10/06/09::: Visited the Cellar Bar, lovely pricey for something that didn't 'inspire' us.

10/07/09::: Today we received the proposal/cost from The Park. WHOA!!! $12,427 and we just have to say "no thank you". It is with sadness because it was a great place. However, at that rate we won't have money for dresses, a photographer, a dj or other hidden cost. Disappointed.

10/8/09::: We had to decline our firts venue offer because it was WAY over budget. It broke my heart, day we will find what's right for us. Back to the drawing board....

10/10/09::: One year from today we will be getting married. The clock is really ticking now!

10/19/09:::@ Elizabeth again, tasted their food. It was GOOD. Out of about 10 dishes we really BOTH liked 8. We have put in a menu/beverage package request and await the dollars & cents of it all.

10/21/09::: Visited The Inn @ Irving Place, beautiful. It's got an old school charm in the ceremony/dinner area, and a lounge & let's get this party started feel in it's reception area. We would not need any table flowers, we can use theirs for free and there is no space rental fee or cake cutting fee. We can also book a room there at the lowest cost & will receive an upgrade to a better room.

10/21/09::: Also today, we received the cost for Elizabeth. At $10,206 it is $2,221 cheaper than our 1st venue proposal from The Park. I am not sure if we we will even find anything cheaper here in this city! We are thinking on it.

10/22/09::: We have received the menus for The Inn @ Irving Place and have put in our request for food & beverage packages. Now we are awaiting the proposal/cost. This is the nerve wrecking part & it make me impatient! lol

10/28/09::: 6 days later and still no proposal...ummmm. Today we finally received an email stating we would have the $$ & cents of it all tomorrow. 6 DAYS LATER!?!?!? .... at any rate we made appointments to see two more venues during this 6 DAY wait because the quiteness was killing me lol, sooooo tomorrow & Friday we will be on the prowl again.

10/29/09::: FINALLY... a return email. Prices are still crazy (but hey it's NYC) however, it's cheaper than we thought it would be, Our next step.... the tasting.

10/30/09::: Another venue here we come..... Seamen's Church. This one turned out to be our favorite. Three spaces: chapel for the ceremony, gallery for the cocktail hour, large party space with wrap around outdoor balcony for the reception. Bad news: $4,300 + $1,000 (refundable if you don't trash the place) = spaces, tables and chairs. Even if you only use one of the spaces the price is still the same! We can't afford it.

The Start

Back in August 09 right before we went on vacation we decided that when we got back we were going to seriously begin to plan our wedding. So as soon as we got back we hit the ground running and began to look at venues. Here's what happened in September 09...

09/18/09::: Visited our 1st two venues, both in the same day..Illi & 202.
Illi, too small....202 old smell, a visit by a waterbug!
09/25/09::: Visted Sha's friend's community center.... to small, to dirty, no class to it.
09/26/09::: Visted a B & B called Sugarhill. Nice place, but way to small and not the look we are going for.
09/29/09::: Visited Elizabeth, cute. This place has a bar area, lounge area, and an indoor/outdoor garden. The roof slides open to let in natural light and air. I loved the decor and there are some perks. We no venue fee, no cake cutting fee, we can use their table vases for free. There is ipod capability or we can have a dj. Only down side, there are two skulls that are the base of two lamps when you come into the space. My thought is to put some flowers on them to cover it