The Perfect Shoes

I am a shoe girl. I love them, I love shopping for them, I love buying them. Except then I just wear the same three pairs of flats or flip flops and never wear the cute shoes that I buy. Because heels hurt, and that makes me cranky.

So although I loved the idea of beautiful heels for my wedding day– and LOVED the blue shoe trend–I was content with some cheap ballet flats. I knew I wouldn’t make it through the whole day with heels and it just didn’t seem important to have awesome shoes just to wear down the aisle and get some pictures in.

And yet…

On a random Thursday I headed out with my two bridesmaids on a hunt for bridesmaid dresses. That’s a story for another post but after we accomplished our mission we decided to head to DSW to look for shoes for them. I’d told them that they could wear any gold shoes they wanted, and they wanted to see what I had in mind.

Except what we found, were these:

And I tried them on…

And that was it. How could I not?

So I got the shoes… which will be worn for ceremony and pictures only. All I have to do now is learn how to walk in them… and I have exactly 5 months to do it!



So as I might have mentioned… I found The Dress! I have been debating showing it to the world wide web due to my fear that one day B would be bored (really, REALLY bored) and decide to check out my blog and BAM there’s my dress and the surprise is ruined.

But I’m realizing…. that’s just not going to happen. He doesn’t read my blog. Plus I told him not to during wedding planning. And just to be safe I don’t think I’m going to post a pic of ME in the dress. Not yet anyways. Just in case!

So here is the story: It took me 2 days and 4 dress shops to find The Dress. So fast! (thank God!) I was really nervous about shopping for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was pressure, sample sizes, and price.

Turns out? It was not so bad!

First stop was David’s Bridal. I knew they’d have lots of dresses in my size to try on and I figured it would boost my confidence. I was pleasantly surprised that I kind of liked some of the dresses. None were winners, but better than expected. Prepare yourselves for lots of pics of me hot and tired from trying on 1000 dresses (or um, like 60. But that is kind of a lot!):

I thought I really wanted lace and straps. But this lace kind of reminded me of a tablecloth. And it didn’t have enough structure.

This was pretty but boring. It was like the definition of “wedding dress.”

I thought this one was really fun on the hanger… but on me? A bit too much poof. My dad needs to fit next to me walking down the aisle ya know?

Pretty if I was getting married on a beach… but too casual for winter.

We’d had enough of DB’s so we headed to a local shop that I saw online sold Maggie Sottero dresses, Wendy’s Bridal. First impression? Not impressed. They told us to walk around and pull some dresses we liked, but then totally ignored us for like 30 minutes. When my appointment finally got started though my consultant was perfectly nice (clearly, she’s trying to sell me something). I did appreciate that they had an entire rack full of plus sized dresses. I had lots of options to try on, but I didn’t know what any of it was!

Wendy’s is one of those awful salons that won’t tell you who the designer of your dress is, and won’t let you take pictures. Ask yourself why they wouldn’t allow this information… could it be because they’re overpriced and/or lying about product? Nevertheless I did find one dress I liked. Unfortunately I only have one picture my mom managed to sneak with her cell phone… and it is not very clear.

and um… its sideways. I don’t know how to fix that.

Here is what really pissed me off though. I liked this dress a LOT. It gave me great shape and it had a beautiful bodice. So I asked… who is the designer? And the consultant tells me that they’re not allowed to tell me who designed the dress until after I purchase… but “Don’t worry.. it is a VERY big name designer and you will be VERY happy.” Hmm… honestly I don’t care who the designer is but I wanted to make sure I was getting my money’s worth. So we sneak the cell picture and do some online research and find this… the same dress.

Designer? Wendy’s Bridal. I.e. store brand. I.e. the bitch lied to me. Sorry… but f*ck them. You lie to me, you don’t get my business. It wasn’t a great loss anyways because while I loved the top of the dress, the bottom was just too busy for me. I wanted something more simple and classic.

We went to one other shop the first day, but overall I was unimpressed. They did not have a plus sized section and instead told me to pick anything I wanted and they’d “make it work.” Which meant squeezing my size 16 ass into size 10 samples. Which was painful. And unattractive. And sometimes impossible. They were also super bitchy about the fact that I had waited SO long and told me I’d need to rush any dress I bought. This is at 8 months out by the way. I did find one dress I liked but it was way over budget (like, double) and it was so small on me I really couldn’t get a great feel for how it would look.

So all in all, day 1… no dress. I did still like the Wendy’s Bridal dress best… but I was iffy on the skirt and I really did not want to give them my business. On a whim I decided to look up a few more bridal shops the next morning. One wasn’t too far and I could get an appointment for that afternoon (The Wedding Plantation).

The place didn’t look like much, but I loved it! They were SO nice, told me who designers were, and let me take all the photos I wanted! They also let us pull dresses in addition suggesting dresses. In the end, there were two contenders. I know I took pictures of the losing dress, but I can’t find them.

So I guess I have no option but to show, finally, THE DRESS!

are you reading??

Okay…. here it is!

I love it! It is an ivory tissue taffeta with asymmetrical rouching (I can never spell that!) and rhinestones, and its perfect! I really love the fabric and it has just enough bling… I think B will love it! The only alterations I’m planning are a bustle and making the neckline slightly more sweetheart.

Up next… accessories and makeup and shoes, oh my!

How I negotiated for my new car

I wanted to do a separate post on negotiating for the car because this was something I was totally intimidated by before we went out and looked. Things that I think really helped me:

1) After going to look at the car the first time, we went to lunch and I looked up some info on the car on my iphone. Primarily Kelly bluebook values and consumer reports. This helped me know what the car was worth and made me feel like I was getting a good deal.

2) Willingness to walk away. I l-o-v-e-d this car. It had way more “stuff” than I would have ever put into it myself, but that doesn’t mean I wanted to pay for all the extras. I had a budget and I made a deal with myself that if I could get the car for what I could afford it was meant to be. If I couldn’t, it was not meant to be and I’d walk away, no regrets.

3) Shop your financing rates. The dealership was offering 5.5% for excellent credit, but my dad’s credit union was offering 3.75% for members and members families. Because we knew that, it took approximately 20 seconds for them to beat the credit union’s offer and give me 3.49%, meaning I saved myself 2% by doing almost no work.

Now the details:

The car was an AMAZING deal for what it was, but it was still a little more than I wanted to pay. Sticker price was about 900 over what I wanted to pay out the door (which would include taxes, title, fees). Including all of those things, we were about 2300 off in price. So I decided I’d stick to my guns and leave it to fate.

I told the dealer what I wanted to pay, out the door. He tried to tell me about their pricing matrix blah blah blah. I stuck to my guns: I will pay X. I’m not saying the car isn’t worth more… but I can and will only pay X. This is not a negotiating tactic where we’re going to go back and forth, that is my bottom line. If you can work with me I’ll stay and we can talk. If not I’ll leave.

He asked me to stay. They came back with a price of X + $800. I told him I’d pay X. He tried the salesman standard: Haven’t I been a good guy? Haven’t I been working with you? You really need to help me out here… I’m a nice person.

I was undeterred: We are not friends, this is business. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d pay X. That is what I will pay and that’s it. You’re wasting my time.

They came back again… X + $500. Come on what is $500?

Sorry… not good enough. Thanks for your time. See ya later.

And then they did it… “If we sell it to you for X you’ll sign right now?”

Give me a pen. I got the car for EXACTLY what I was willing to pay for it and I did not have to come up from my offer a penny. I’m sure that it won’t always work this way… but for me it did.

The next round was over the “extras.” When my parents left to get my car to trade in, I was left at the dealership for a bit over 1.5 hours with not much to do. And lots of time for them to try to upsell me. Care package? No thanks, I live 2 hours away. Laser etching? Um… no. Lojack? Pass. Extended warranty? well….

Warranty was the one thing I was a little concerned about. Toyota makes fantastic cars (ahem… usually) but their standard warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles. With 35,000 miles on the car, I really didn’t have a warranty. Due to RAV4′s reputation I wasn’t too worried, but it was a bummer.

The offer on the table was for an additional 3 years/36,000 miles on top of what the car already had, for $1500. It seemed like a decent price but I wasn’t sure. I called B and he said to pass… he couldn’t imagine we’d need to put more than $1500 in repairs into my car in the next 3 years and he didn’t think it was worth it. I still wasn’t sure. When my dad got back with my car to trade in, he looked at the deal and felt it was pretty good. He said I could go either way… that it was really a comprehensive warranty and a good price, but it was my call. My big issue was that there was a $100 deductible per incident. So every time something goes wrong I have to pay $100? Plus I already paid the $1500? Meh…

They just about had me talked into it when I got an amazingly well-timed text from B. He found a warranty online that was only $600. It was the leverage I needed to tell the man no, I’d look online for my own warranty. That was when he sweetened the deal.

What if I was offered a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty with 0 deductible (i.e. I never pay a dime for whatever happens to my car during the warranty period), and GPR (guaranteed price return)? GPR means that if I never use the warranty, I get all but $50 back. So if toyota lives up to its name and my car doesn’t have any major repairs in the next 3 years I’ll get a check for $1450 and will have only spent $50 for the peace of mind. Sold!

Plus, after he made the deal he realized they can only do GPR on 4 year/48,000 mile warranties but since I’d already signed the papers he had to live up to his end of the deal! End result is that I get a 4 year/48,000 mile warranty with 0 deductible for $1,500 and GPR if I don’t use it. Amazing? Um, yea!

Moral of the story? Negotiate and stick to your guns! I got exactly what I wanted for exactly what I wanted to pay for it. Willingness to walk away was definitely my biggest ally… but something tells me even if I REALLY wanted that car enough to pay more I could’ve walked away and come back the next morning and gotten the same deal.

And next time I need to buy a car? I won’t be nearly so nervous about it. Buying a car is just like anything else– a business. They aren’t going to sell you a car for so low a price that they’re not making any money (despite what they might tell you), so don’t feel bad about lowering the price. And I won’t be scared to walk away. If X + $800 was really their bottom line, I bet I could’ve come back the next day and got that deal. Sure they might say “this offer is only good today”… but if they can make the deal today they can make the deal tomorrow and if I show up ready to sign I’d like to see a salesman actually turn me away.

Just one person’s experience… but for me, that was how I got my car!

Note to self: don’t go to the dealership “just to look”

This past weekend I did something. An exciting thing. A scary thing. A risky thing (you’ll see why…)

I bought a new (to me) car!! (or um… suv. whatever).

Previously I had been driving an 01 Hyundai Elantra. The AC did not work. The radio barely worked. Part of the door had fallen off. The electronic locks didn’t work. There was rust on it. Oh… and the check engine light had been on and off (but mostly on) since last Christmas. This car was on its LAST wobbly legs… we’d nick-named it Timmy (as in, tiny tim on his crutches).

B and I started car shopping casually a bit ago. Just looking online and trying to decide what I might want. There is a long story about why I went the route I did… but to sum up: I wanted a small SUV. We went out car shopping once two weekends ago and I looked around but I was NOT impressed by what I was finding in my price range. The only maybe was a stripped down doesn’t-even-have-visor-mirrors Nissan Rogue. Meh. Late model used SUVs are hard to come by!

So last weekend when I was home visiting my parents for my dad’s birthday I suggested we pop on over to the Honda dealership and check out CRVs. I hadn’t been able to find a used one to look at and I thought if I saw a newer one and decided if I liked it then I’d know whether or not to jump at a used one if I could find one. But I had NO intention of buying. We didn’t even take my car, we took my mom’s.

Well we got there and first car we saw? A 2009 RAV4 Limited loaded with just about everything possible except Nav. And because it had 35,000 miles on it (which is obviously more than most cars that have only been driven for 1 year), it was TOTALLY affordable. We test drove it and I loved it. I also test drove a CRV and we went down to another dealership to see what they had… but I couldn’t resist. I loved that RAV4. It was a WAY better deal than I’d seen in Columbus and it seemed too good to pass up.

The problem? I couldn’t get hold of B! He hadn’t come home with me and he wasn’t answering his cell phone. Could I really buy a car without telling him? Was this a precedent I wanted to set? It was a risky move… but I decided to do it. We had discussed prices before so I knew he’d be okay with what I was spending, and even though I’d be buying a few months earlier than we had planned, it was a much better deal than I would find here in Columbus.

I’ll stick the negotiating info in another post to keep this one short… but lets just say that the negotiating went very well and I got a great deal!

It’s hard to tell in the pic, but its a really pretty grey-blue shimmery color.

Once the first paper was signed we kind of had to fly into action. It was just after 4pm and dealership closed at 5. Remember when I said I didn’t bring my car with us? Yea… it needed to be brought in to trade and it was 45 minutes away! So my parents hopped in their car and raced home to clean it out and bring it back (seriously– how nice)… except they got 10 minutes away and realized that I still had my car keys in my purse! I talked to the owner and he said it was fine, it takes him an hour to close anyways so it wasn’t a big deal. They came back to get the keys, went back home, cleaned out the car, and headed back to the dealership.

It was a crazy hectic day but… I got my new car! I love it and it is totally beautiful. I feel like such an adult driving around in car that is in my name (my last one was in my mom’s name) and actually works as it is supposed to! And B? He was totally fine with my unexpected purchase and he loves the car too.