Perfect

Have I mentioned that I’m a hermit?

Sunday was a perfect day.

We slept late. I made eggs.

We watched Mad Men (Season 3 disc 2… almost caught up– so good!)

We hung pictures we bought at Home Goods Saturday night after dinner (never go into Home Goods “just to look.” Seriously)

We unlocked the secret world in Mario Bros (there was a hidden door in the fortress!)

We grocery shopped. Together. It’s nice to have company sometimes.

We grilled out. And watched Californication on netflix.

I folded four baskets of laundry.

We watched two favorite movies from our youths (B: Short Circuit. Me: Curly Sue).

Confirmed everything I thought I already knew: I’m a hermit. Me, B, some netflix, some video games, and maybe some cheddarwurst on the grill…. that’s pretty much all I need.

p.s. new picture for our great room… pretty, no? Hard to photograph without glare though.

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The Venue Budget Post

Truth time folks. If numbers make you squeamish, come back tomorrow. There is a moral to this story and here it is: NEGOTIATE!

We had a strict budget and after lots of searching, we did have to raise it a bit. But that does not mean that we were resigned to just paying anything. We are getting married in February. In Ohio. I couldn’t imagine people would be vying for our date. So I negotiated. The first price is what we’re paying. The second price in parenthesis is the list price. Two things that couldn’t be negotiated were linens (coming from a 3rd party) and staff (people need to get paid obviously).

Venue fee: $1,495 ($2,495)
Ceremony fee: $100 ($300)
Facility fee: $250 ($416.66)
China/flatware rental: $200 ($357.50)
Bar*: $375 ($440)
Staff: $1,000
Linen: $250
Cocktail Hour: $400 ($600)
Dinner: $2,200 ($2,550)

Our total? $6,270. If I hadn’t negotiated? $8,209.16.
Now some of these are just estimates (particularly because we don’t have a firm grasp on # of guests), but they’re as close to accurate as possible. We saved almost $2,000, or 30% just by negotiating! Plus, of course, tax and gratuity, which would be higher on a higher priced event. $2,000 might not be a lot to some brides… but that amount is enough to cover the alcohol, my dress, and my accessories.

So that’s it! Short story. Negotiate!

*No, you don’t need to pack up the car and come to Ohio for the cheapest alcohol EVER. The bar fee is for water, tea, soda, coffee, and glassware for all drinks (including alcohol). We’ll bring in our own alcohol to be served by their bartenders.

Making a Quilt: Finalizing the design!

I’m finally picking up where I left off on our quilt tutorial. Need to catch up? First we designed our quilt, and then we did our first round of cutting, sewing, and ironing, and then cut again. Got it? Good.

Now that we have all of our secondary squares cut, we’re going to decide on a layout. True, we did decide on a layout in step 1 when we drew up a plan. But– I find it really hard to picture what the fabrics are going to look like when they’re all sewn together so I like to lay out my quilt before sewing it together to make sure I like it. This is the time to make any changes in the arrangement of your quilt!

First up, the quilt as designed:

I like it… but let’s look at some other options.

mayyyyybe…. but what about?

eek too much white. let’s try…

meh..

oo I like! But then I sent it to my mom to get her opinion. And sometimes it only takes one little comment to worm its way into your brain. “I love it honey it looks really nice… but that last one??? I know it ISN’T… but doesn’t it kind of LOOK like???” And then I couldn’t unsee it. Little zebra swastikas. Yikes.

All of that work reorganizing to decide that I loved the quilt exactly as I’d drawn it:

Yay! But at least I know now that I wouldn’t have liked another design better.

Next up: back to the sewing machine!

Cake!

Continuing on the food theme… I’m very happy to announce that we have ordered a cake!

Most people take it for granted that they’ll have wedding cake, but we did not. I’m actually a huge fan of sweets… but the thing is? I don’t care about wedding cake. It is never really all that good and I’ve not been that into what my cake would look like. I did want/assume there would be some sort of dessert but beyond that I kind of avoided dealing with it.

See, right after I got engaged my mom mentioned that my aunt offered to make our cake. Boom. DONE. She was worried that I wouldn’t like the cake because my aunt has a tendency to “overdo” and she thought I might end up with something covered in frosting roses and balloons or something. But really? I did. not. care. It was offered and free, I didn’t have to think about it, I was sold. I said I would print out some pictures of SIMPLE cakes for my aunt, but in the end if a frosting covered monstrosity showed up I would laugh it off. It wouldn’t ruin my day and it’d be a story I’d tell my friends for years.

Then at some point my mom decided that making a wedding cake would be too much for my aunt. True… my aunt has some health problems and I can see how making a cake would be challenging and stressful. But, she offered! Turns out that the whole arrangement was just going to cause my mom to stress and I didn’t care enough to argue.

I started pricing cakes and promptly lost my shit. $3.50-8 per slice. Tiny little 1/2 inch slice. Are you freaking KIDDING me?? For a 110 person wedding x $4 per slice that is $440 on eggs and flower before delivery and tip! Yikes.

Next idea: Pie bar! I’ve seen them splashed across wedding blogs and it seemed like a great idea. Have my friends and family bring homemade pies! But apparently this was much like the cake idea and having “friendors” in on the job was making my mom uber unhappy (once again, picking my battles. Although to be fair this was only the second thing she’d really made a stand about.) BYOP (bring your own pie) = fail.

We finally had a solution when I remembered that our venue had mentioned that they can do a faux cake (iced styrofoam basically) with sheetcake for serving at a reduced price. SCORE! And then? The pastry chef quit and they decided not to rehire!

The world? Did not want us to eat cake.

But we persevered! I finally found a cute little bakery near downtown with much better prices than the others I’d called. Their per piece pricing was similar on decorated cakes, but where they really shined was in sheet cakes. Most places still want to charge you $2+ per slice in sheet cake form, but not Piece of Cake! They charge $1 per slice of sheet cake, offer free cake stands to borrow, and will deliver for free to our venue. Yay!

I made an appointment for a tasting and picked up B for a lunch time mini-date. We wanted to keep things simple and we really had no ideas in mind regarding flavor or decoration. We were offered three types of cake to try (chocolate, white, yellow) and five different fillings (raspberry, strawberry, chocolate ganache, hazelnut, and almond cream). They have other flavors but we were happy with simple.

Brian loved the white cake with raspberry filling. I loved the chocolate cake with almond cream filling. Easy peasy, decided! We were handed a book of designs to look through and after about 5 minutes of flipping through we picked one. I think the baker was a bit startled at our quick decision making. What can I say… when the price is right you lock in a deal! Plus, we can change any of our decisions up until a week before the wedding. If we change our mind on flavors, decoration, or size? No worries. We’ll pay if we book something more expensive of course, but the ease of adapting the order put my mind at ease.

So without further ado… our cake! (kind of)

You’ll have to make do with an iPhone pic of the picture in his display book. Our cake will be a total of three tiers, with the first and third displaying the scroll decorating and the middle tier plain. The middle tier will feature a wide ribbon that I’ll supply to him (I’m thinking blue), and a single peacock feather!

Final price break-down for a 3 tier cake (feeds 70) plus a sheet cake (feeds 48)? $293. That’s right. 118 servings for $293, otherwise known as $2.48/slice overall. Am I a bargain hunter or what?

NomNomNom

One of the major reasons we picked our venue was the food! I hate wedding food. Hate. I feel like most weddings I go to the options are steak or chicken (or maybe fish)… of which I pick the chicken because I don’t eat steak or fish… and it is some dry piece of poultry smothered in a salty sauce with limp veggies. Ew.

Granted, I’m a pickier eater than most and I’ve heard plenty of people say they enjoyed their wedding dinner.. but I did not. I really wanted to do something different. Something casual. Something identifiable to everyone in the room. But venues don’t like to do that. They give you their menu options with Chicken Marsala or Chicken Piccata and expect you to hand over a truckload of money. Pass. (And for the record– B has traditionally been disappointed by wedding food as well and was totally on-board for my non-traditional demands).

I was quite insistent on food that I would actually like throughout our venue hunt, and was told several times that I was being a bit silly. Apparently the bride and groom never get to eat anyways (I’ll report back in March to be sure… but I fully intend to eat). And regardless, everyone who knows me knows that I’m a picky eater and a steak/chicken plated dinner just isn’t ME.

Enter The Loft. It is owned by a caterer (Zuppa Catering) and the owner himself met us to show us the space. When we described how we felt about traditional wedding food and that we’d really like something more fun and approachable, his immediate suggestion was stations. Or as I’m calling them, Dueling Buffets.

v.

That’s right… we’re doing Mexican and Asian buffets! We haven’t done our tasting yet so nothing is finalized, but here is our tentative menu.

    Mexican Buffet

Fajitas (chicken and beef with peppers and onions)
Enchiladas (chicken and cheese/onion)
Rice and Beans
Guacamole and Salsa
Tortilla chips

    Asian Buffet


General Tso’s Chicken
Potstickers (pork)
Lettuce wraps (chicken and veggie)
Eggrolls (chicken and veggie)
Lo mein noodles (veggie)

I have one word: mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Since we’re going bold with our dinner we’re keeping the cocktail hour simple:
veggies and dip
fruit and cheese/crackers
shrimp cocktail

Comments I’ve received from family and friends regarding our menu range from:

“Oh my god best wedding food EVER”
to
“Whatever check I was planning to write you? I’m adding a zero to the end”
to
“I’m going to stop eating now in preparation to eat EVERYTHING.”

yay! I am so excited about this menu. It is totally us. I love Mexican food, B loves Asian food. Everything looks scrumptious (and completely recognizable), and we have so many options. Lots of chicken and veggie options (the most popular we think and we have some vegetarian friends), and also beef and pork. And best of all? We’re getting all of that food for about $24* per person– which believe me is a FANTASTIC price in a world where salty chicken can easily start at $32!

*Note- Getting married in February has its benefits. One of which is serious discounts. I’ll do a full budget recap of the venue at some point, but due to getting married at such an unpopular time (and my fabulous negotiation skills!) we’re paying at least 1/3 less than we would’ve been had we gotten married in a peak month.

Rainbows and Puppies: The Venue Search Part II

Since I left you hanging last time (or um… 2 months ago)… I thought I’d finally reveal our venue!

After searching high and low for a venue that met our basic criteria, and coming up short, the venue we eventually chose came to my attention in the strangest way: a totally confusing email. One day I was sitting at my computer and an email popped up from an address I didn’t recognize. I almost deleted it as spam, but my delete finger had gotten slightly less happy since I was wedding planning and getting lots of strange emails. The email was short, “I never heard back from you after I sent you the information you requested, are you still interested in our venue?”

Hm… I didn’t remember sending an email. And I didn’t remember receiving one back. But, what the hell I thought I’d ask for more info anyways. And guys? It was awesome!

Here is what I was desperately trying to avoid (and yet what seemed inevitable on our apparently small budget):

Boring standard ballroom.

This venue? A converted warehouse that had only been open for a venue for a bit over a year. Exposed brick. Concrete floors. Steel beam ceilings. Completely urban chic in a way I knew we could make our own!

Smith Brother’s Hardware!

I haven’t gotten to see it in use yet, so you’ll have to do with photos I snagged online. Check out this amazing staircase and light fixture!

That’s right… our venue is two floors! Smith Brothers offers two venues, The Venue, and The Loft. We chose The Loft precisely because it is two floors and thus able to accommodate us as an all-in-one venue.

We’ll start with the ceremony upstairs

I actually don’t love this picture because the room looks a little boring. First, we’re getting married at 5:30pm in February*, so there will not be light streaming in the windows, it will be dim. There are twinkle lights strung up the posts that will be on. And we will have decorations hanging from the ceiling (either paper lantern or tissue poufs… more on this later!).

After the ceremony everyone will move downstairs for cocktail hour

There is a big bar with industrial light fixtures and a dance floor of concrete (although not much dancing during cocktail hour I wouldn’t think).

At 7pm everyone will head back upstairs for dinner, where the room will have been transformed!

We’ll have round-tops for our guests and we’ll be seated at a large tuscan-style table with our bridal party and their dates (meaning, we’ll be sitting all around the table like one big dining room table… we’re not going to sit and survey the room from one side. I don’t like being on display. Says the girl with the blog).

After dinner everyone will move back downstairs to get their dance on– and dance they will (they’ve been threatened!)!

Oh and one last detail… these?

The coveted gold chiavari chairs? Come STANDARD!

I am SO excited about this venue. I love the almost-grungy urban vibe. I love love love the exposed brick. I love that it is two levels. I love that it is right downtown in the city we love– and yet has a dedicated and FREE parking lot (this is HUGE). And I love that it is totally different from any wedding venue I’ve ever been in. I’m going to go for an urban club kind of feel (more rooftop party than studio 54) with lots and lots of candles and jewel tones. More on that later!

*Despite the fact that I post more than enough details here to find me if you reaaaaally wanted to, I don’t think I’ll be posting our exact wedding date. It is enough to say that it will be in February and I’m hoping for snow!

I’m alive! And I planted stuff!

Blogging is like so many other things…. you do it for a while then you don’t do it for a while and fall out of habit and then all of a sudden it is two months later! It isn’t that things haven’t been going on either, I’ve been super busy. But, B is back to studying for his CFA now and I’ll have a lot more time in the evenings so hopefully I’ll get on the blogging ball.

First up– we planted stuff today! I’ve never been a flower person (see upcoming wedding flower post.. sigh), and I never really thought much about landscaping. When we moved in M/I had made some “beds” with some basic landscaping. Some evergreen bushes and a few small flowering perennials. And we did precisely nothing with them. Didn’t water them. Didn’t weed the beds. It was kind of tragic.

My parents came to visit last week and I knew my mom would faint if she saw how bad we’d let it get. Plus our neighbor stopped us to give us some “lawn tips” (don’t you just love homeownership?) and we kind of didn’t want to be THOSE people.

So we tried to weed but by that time the weeds were literally waist high. And we could barely pull them. My dad helped B finally get all of the weeds out, so the beds were merely neglected and boring instead of actually overrun.

Cut to this morning when we decided to run to Lowes to get some weed killer for the lawn and I realized that most of my extended family was going to see our house for the first time in three weeks (we’re hosting a day-after brunch for my brother’s wedding). And I was a little embarrassed by the state of things.

Unfortunately we kind of missed the boat on most flowers and there was 0 flats of flowers left at Lowes… but there were still a few bigger plants we could buy to spruce things up. We got a small evergreen to plant near the door, a few hardy mums in a deep red, and two annuals called Parasols that look very tropical.

We got them home and began what I thought would be a quick and easy process of planting the seven plants. And then we discovered: M/I sucks. Our “beds”? Clay and gravel with 1 inch of mulch on top. We never realized that they didn’t prepare the beds because we never tried to dig in them before! Pure rock:

Ugh. So we had to dig the holes (through rock) deeper and wider so that we could put in more topsoil to help the plants actually live. An hour, much swearing, a few blisters, a farmer’s burn (I don’t tan), and a lot of sweat later? We were done!

Okay so it doesn’t look like much from that distance and it could still use a lot of work… but for $30 in plants I think we did a lot of good. Our little tree now fills a previously barren square between our walkway and driveway:

I totally love the Parasols:

And we even made a new friend! We call him lemon-head.

Overall it felt good to get something for the house done and spend the morning and early afternoon working with B in the yard. It made me feel very adult… this taking-care-of-the-yard business. And next year maybe I’ll get on the planting earlier. Like July! (I WILL plant in May… I WILL plant in May…)

Anyways! I have lots of posts thought up that I need to write, mostly related to wedding stuff. Here is what you can look forward to in the coming weeks (lots! of! exclamations!):

-Continued installments of quilt making

-We picked a venue! (like um… 5 months ago)

– We picked a photographer! And then she quit. And then I found a new one!

– We picked a menu!! (two exclamations there– it includes tortilla chips)

– I got a dress! And earrings! And shoes!!

– Bridesmaids dresses have been chosen!

– We ordered a cake!

– I got started on my first DIY project (tissue paper poms… tutorial to follow!)

– I made, ordered, and sent out our Save the Dates!

– I designed our invitations!

– and much, much more… stay tuned! (and um… if any of the six people who read this consistently would like to make a suggestion for what they want to hear about first, I’m taking requests!)