More table decorations

"Coral" table decor out of drinking straws at design*sponge.

Individual cupcake stands at hello hanna, via not martha.

I think putting together a template for these shouldn't be too difficult, it's the cutting them out with the curves that would take awhile.

My sister the bridesmaid

My sister is now a junior (like whoa!) at a Division 1 school on a tennis scholarship. We used to fight all the time when we were little, from my end because I was always jealous of the attention she got from everyone else for being the younger, cuter one and resentful that I always had to be the bigger person because I was her older sister. Ah, Confucian culture.

I remember very clearly when I was around 11 and just had another fight with her that my dad took me aside and told me, "Look, I know she's annoying. But she's 7. She can't help it. It's going to be like this for another 4 years but it will get better after that, just you wait and see." (implied subtext: please try to make it easier on your mother in the meantime) My mother always hated that we fought so much, she would try to impress upon us that someday she and our dad won't be here anymore and we would only have each other to truly rely on.

My dad was right (as my mom will be, too), as so often happens. Ergh, that part of growing up where you realize that your parents are far smarter and wiser than your smug teenage self ever considered giving them credit for! Anyway, my relationship with my sister really improved vastly once I left for college. I'd come home and be surprised at the funny, creative person she was growing into.

Now that she's at school, she'll email me once in awhile to ask for advice on one thing or another (even though she ignored my advice about making sure she worked really really hard for the first semester so she wouldn't fall into the trap of spending the rest of her college years working to make up for it, ahem) and I like playing that big sister role, because I can help make her way a little easier than it was for me, figuring things out more on my own.

I also know that I can rely on her to help me when I ask; she was one of the few that helped Dan and me move in to our first apartment together, mostly by driving a second car because she's a far better and more confident driver than I am, and she also drove all the way out to Princeton from eastern Jersey at the beginning of August in order to ferry me to and from an appointment with the caterer.

This is all to basically say that she's earning her bridesmaid status plenty (though I've told her there are no expectations of planning a bridal shower or bachelorette party or any of those sort of 'extra' events). Happy birthday, sis (I am terrible with dates and birthdays but the technology of scheduling things ahead of time when you do remember and before you forget what day of the year it is, to the rescue!).

Cotton cady Erica dress from J.Crew, in "fresh mint"

This is the dress we've bought for her as a bridesmaid dress. Simple, elegant, and pretty close in color to the shade of blue I'm trying to tie things to, though this is a bit greener, I think. We bought it now because it's on sale (listed at $80 currently, I think we got it for $90? Maybe $100? Original price was $225!) and we had such trouble finding anything nearly as close when we spent almost an entire afternoon at the mall that the chances of finding something if we waited until next spring, when she won't be home for spring break due to the tennis season, would be pretty slim.

We may need to bring this to the tailor to get it fixed up a bit when her body changes a bit from all the working out during the season. Luckily no changes need to be made to the length. My mother is verrrry nervous about the whole strapless thing, so maybe we'll add some kind of strap to soothe that. I think a thin halter-style ribbon strap in red might work, so that it doesn't disturb the pretty neckline, and then metallic or red flats, and maybe a little red flower pin at the waist and/or headband. She's got a pair of cute red rose earrings that could work with that, so then maybe just a necklace or bracelet to finish of the accessorizing.

Hanging decorations roundup

I really need to either post these more quickly instead of letting everything sit for a whole summer or stop collecting quite so many.

Puffy paper lanterns from not martha. I really like the texture of these, a bit like those soft fabric flower poms.

Cupcake liners as tiny little paper shades on twinkle lights at ikea hacker.

Loopy-Loo simple paper garland is IS.LY

Flower pom tutorial from Jen at Me, Myself, and Bride.

And how to store all these lovely garlands? Roll them around a toilet paper roll with slits cut at each end to catch the ends of the garland.

Photo props

At the wedding showcase our caterer put on a few weeks ago, they had people from Fun Photobooth there with their full setup. They were really nice and we got a sample strip to take away with us. I think this would be a bit of an extravagance on the budget though, so I'm thinking a more ghetto setup with just a digital camera on a stand and a backdrop with props scattered. Maybe even use the webcam on a laptop.

It'd be nice to have physical photos though, especially to have guests put together in a guestbook. The Photojojo store is now carrying the Fuji Instax Wide Format Instant Camera which could work really well as a Polaroid substitute. It's a bit expensive for more or less a toy, $80 for the camera and $22 for film (20 exposures), but perhaps I can wrangle it as a birthday/Christmas gift of some kind. Though, I think I'm going on a cruise in the Caribbean with my parents for my birthday and I'd really like a new digital camera for that occasion (thinking of the Canon S90 right now, just based on not martha's recommendation).

I've posted before about the chalkboard message board that could go in the photo booth as a prop. They are now also carrying these photo paddles to add whimsy.

Can be held up by subjects or photographer for changes in scale.

On a more serious idea, I love, love the group panorama shots by A Beautiful Day Photography in Seattle (aka Conan O'Brien's wedding photographer), a new sponsor to A Practical Wedding.

I sent Kelly an email yesterday about this, I hope it's not offensive to ask about something that another photographer does. The thing is I think most of the wedding photos will just stay in an album or book and only be hauled out occasionally, but with a big group shot like this, I wouldn't feel self-conscious displaying it prominently on a wall.

Last quick thing: Miss C wrote a post about whether hiring a videographer would be worth it and the comments on the post all support asking a family friend to capture important moments in the ceremony and throughout the day to have a low-key video that could then be edited together. I like this idea, I think I'll ask someone(s) to be the Flip cam person and then also ask for help getting a video edited together. I have plenty of clips on my computer that I'm overwhelmed by trying to put together.

Color scheme designer tool

If you're stuck on picking colors, here's a neat color scheme designer tool, via Creature Comforts.

I actually now have paint chips that I'm using as references. My sister helped me pick them out to match some fabric scraps I kept from when I interned with Mod Green Pod several summers ago. They're lovely, wonderful people. I am still hoarding the fabric and wallpaper they gifted me when I finished my internship because I love the colors and modern designs so much.

Cherry/stilton Butterfly Jubilee (photo is a bit dark)

Honey/raspberry Butterfly Jubilee (just the honey color)

The paint chips we picked out were Valspar High Noon, Valspar Caramel Honey, and Olympic Rum Runner, which look like this all together:

I imagine the actual colors that come together will be a bit brighter in effect overall, since that's what I gravitate towards, but I really like these colors all together. It's not too different from that palette Amy sent over to me. That dusky blue color is really hard to find, though.

Flower project roundup

Coffee filter flower tutorial at design*sponge.

Fabric flowers roundup at Giver's log, via not martha.

Crepe paper bouquet tutorial, via Creature Comforts.

Bonus! Little roses from straw wrappers (I hope no one actually does this on a massive scale, that would be a bit sick, but cool party trick to learn, perhaps), via not martha.

Ok not projects but other flower ideas: centerpieces of flowers in water, from the Blooms By the Box blog.

I'm still all over that apothecary chic look but I like the simplicity of these.

Apparently this is just a flower wallpaper but it'd be pretty as strands of real flowers against a wall, wouldn't it? From A Cup of Jo.

Cupcake centerpieces! From This Little Journey. I don't think we're doing the cupcake thing in full but these are so cute.

Ok this is just to remind myself--we have these single serving Martinelli's apple juice jars at work and I could potentially collect them and use Goo Gone to get rid of the labels and clean them up to use as bud vases.

Fauxgagement shoot

Hey look, it's us!

Last week, Dan and I drove down to central Jersey for a sort of practice engagement shoot with my friend Amy, who coined it a ''fauxgagement shoot." We've talked casually about doing a photo shoot with her for some time now, as Amy wanted to practice her people photographing skills and I've desperately wanted photos of both Dan and me together that are not from high school and don't look silly.

Since the "official" engagement shoot with Kelly is coming up next week (I swear, September seemed much farther away when we scheduled this back in April), we thought we'd do this one with Amy first in order to get some practice feeling comfortable in front of a camera in and test out some outfit possibilities.

I also went and got my makeup done by a hilarious woman at the Shiseido counter in Nordstrom, accompanied by Dan's two younger sisters. We had a great time, I'm so glad they came along with me because we don't really hang out without Dan around and they were really helpful in advising on colors and such. Also just boosting my self-confidence all around. Normally I wear no makeup at all because even with quick 5 minute routines, I would rather choose 5 minutes more sleep, but it was fun to be a bit pampered here.

There wasn't any charge for the application of the makeup, though I got her card for potential doing the wedding makeup as well (she was slightly cagey about her rates so that makes me nervous, but she did do a good job, so we'll see). I ended up getting the foundation (Shiseido 'The Makeup' Dual Balancing Foundation SPF 17 in natural light ivory) and the eyeshadow set (Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Trio in Strata), which were not cheap, but the foundation felt so light on my skin when others I've tried before always feel a bit like a mask and I loved how she did my eyeshadow. She also threw in a couple samples of the pink lipstick.

Here's a straight-on shot of the makeup:

The blank expression is because I hate it when before/after photos have differences in them other than the clothes or makeup, like in What Not To Wear where the befores all have terribly posture and are pouty/"sad." For the makeup skills challenged like myself, it's so hard for me to tell the difference when there are so many confounding factors, agh!

Dan thought it was too much makeup, per usual, but the women in his family disagreed. I liked it, it would be too much for a regular day of mine but I liked it for the photos. On Kelly's recommendation I've also bought some blotting paper for the engagement shoot as it's still rather warm in our area. I also have this thing of sweating on my nose (inherited from my maternal grandmother, apparently) and I imagine it'll be quite helpful for dealing with that.

I've got a free makeup trial session scheduled for early that afternoon with Jennifer Kang, also known as 'Mrs. Snail' in the WeddingBee forums. Most other places I asked about charge something like $80 just for a trial! Anyway we'll see how it goes with her, she doesn't have an online portfolio but I did find one example of a wedding she did here which looks a little too showy and shiny for me but we'll see. I think I do very much want false lashes for the wedding, though, I've tried to apply them myself before but have always failed. The makeup style I've most liked so far is Lois Lam's but of course she up and left NJ last year and now lives in Cleveland.

Well, back to the fauxgagement shoot. We went to a small park near Amy's house first for the swings and then picked up the balloons from Party Fair and headed over to Monmouth Battlefield State Park for all the ones in this post. Here are my favorites of the 30 digital and 6 film shots that Amy sent over:

okay, just being silly.

Getting to those railroad tracks was a bit of an ordeal, as Amy last scouted out this area in the winter when all the plants were dead and not liable to give one poison ivy. I'm glad we climbed up though, what nice lines from the tracks.

This shot is my favorite of all, I think, mostly because it shows off my angled haircut and enough of my chin so I don't have the usual "my head is so round and my neck so short" concern. Please tell me you also basically judge whether photos are good or not by how much you like how you look in them?

These were fun! Though what is not shown is when Dan took a running leap and basically knocked me over on my own way up. Beware of leaps made by uncoordinated people, my friends.

For some reason I think this one looks like we're in Iowa. We considered using it for a save-the-date card but I think it might not be overtly happy/cheerful enough.

So, lessons learned:
  • Amy says we're not as awkward in front of the camera as I've been telling her. She says we should just relax, make each other laugh, talk to each other about funny things.
  • She also says, "Don't be shy about showing affection. It's cute, and it serves well for capturing little fleeting moments." (I'd told her that I didn't want to come off as sickly sweet pretentious with that gazing longingly into each others' eyes kind of photo, but she's probably right that we can be, you know, like, a couple)
  • It was worth the hassle of convincing Dan to buy this western-style blue shirt from the Gap with his $25 for $50 Groupon. It was also worth repairing the back of one of the legs on this pair of jeans. I think he should wear a brighter t-shirt though.
  • The flat cap he's wearing looks great, it's the best $3 he's ever spent on an accessory by far.
  • Kelly is totally, totally right about wearing bright colors and big patterns and bold jewelry. I really like this dress, it's a 50s cotton daydress that I just finished shortening, but it'd be better in the photos if the color were more intense.
  • I should also suck it up and wear higher heels. The shoes I'm wearing here are Dansko platform sandals which are super comfortable but look more chunky than I want in the pictures. Not that I own any stilettos, but I should break out the shoes that I don't ever wear to walk anywhere and bring flipflops with me.
Now, I'm still a bit undecided on the glasses versus contacts thing. I really love my current glasses for their bold retro-ness, but I'm not sure whether contacts will help with the minimizing round headedness goal a bit more? Or I could switch them out? We're going to have one outfit change next week so I could do it then. Thoughts?

Giveaways and contests galore

I recently learned that a colleague of mine actually won a wedding in a radio contest. She doesn't use that nearly often enough as her fun fact when introducing herself to people, but maybe it does get a bit tiring to talk about it after awhile.

Anyway, a few different contests and giveaways popped up on my Reader lately that I wanted to share here:
  • Lizzie and Isaiah have launched their own printable invites design shop! They're giving away one invitation suite for comments left on this post by next Tuesday evening.
  • Becca of A Los Angeles Love is hosting a $150 giveaway from Williams-Sonoma if you create or add to your Williams-Sonoma registry. Enter by next Wednesday.
  • Online wholesaler of flowers Blooms by the Box is teaming up with Budget Savvy Bride in a contest for a $500 gift certificate for the best essay on the DIY and budget-saving aspects of your wedding plans. Essay needs to be submitted by 9/19. I think I might write about the plan to make the dress so that the money that might've been spent on just one dress is being spent on developing skills I'll be able to use after the wedding, to try to highlight something that might be a bit different. We'll see.
Go forth and enter, my friends!