Well Hello there!
My name is Nicola and my fiance's name is Mike. See the next post for our full 'story.' We had the opportunity to buy our first home together in the fall of 2009, and decided to take that huge step and wait to get married once we could save up (again). Mike popped the question just over a year after we bought our house on December 17th, 2010, and now we are planning the wedding of our dreams! We live in the South Bay Area in California, and love our life with our adorable furbaby Jester.
This is my Furbaby Jester, in our front yard. We have a giant redwood tree and a white picket fence, we love our house and our lives together!
NOTE: I started saving photo's long before I became fully aware of PW Etiquette, so please let me know if any photo I use in a bio page or post is yours so that I can source them correctly. TIA!
Well, the story of us meeting is fairly long, I'll do my best to just get the good, important bits in here... During my Sophomore year at Santa Clara University I was home for the Christmas holiday break, and went to a house party. When who should appear, but Mike, a friend of my old High School boyfriend. At first I was kind of nervous, he was cuter than I remembered. Maybe he wouldn't remember me and I'd feel dumb if I said hi. So then, it would be best to pretend I don't see him. But, what if he does recognize and remember me...then he'll think I'm rude for not saying hi. At this point in my mental to-say-hi-or-not-to-say-hi tug of war, another mutual friend came up, distracting me by starting a conversation, which Mike nonchalantly joined moments later. He remembered exactly who I was, and we started catching up on the four years since I had last seen him. Then, when I mentioned I was planning to study abroad in Spain, he sparked my interest by sharing the stories of his long trip there.
After that night, we become online friends, and started casually dating that summer when I came home from school again. However, we were both quite weary of starting a committed, full-on relationship as I was leaving for an entire semester to live in Spain at the end of the summer. We decided to leave it open, we'd stay in contact but we wouldn't plan on anything for the future until after I came back to the U.S. in December. By the first week of November, Mike had committed to waiting for me to come home, and announced that he wanted to be in a relationship with me the moment I came back. I wasn't too sure, as I really didn't want to get my hopes up and end up disappointed if there wasn't a spark anymore when we saw one another.
However, all of that worry and anxiety was put to rest when I did come home, and couldn't wait to see him everyday. He really proved how intent he was on being with me when he came to visit me at school (about an hour away) at least once a week, attending all of my Sorority events (DELTA GAMMA!) and meeting all my friends. We count our anniversary as the day I came home from Spain, and we've been pretty much inseparable in the 4 years since!
Here is a picture from our first official date, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2006 (Can't believe how young we both look!)
And here is a picture of us from a Memorial Day BBQ in 2010 (a few months before the proposal)
As of December 17, 2010, we're Engaged!
Mike popped the question after a wonderful 4 Year Anniversary dinner, on a pier surrounded by boats that were all lit with Christmas lights. He did a fantastic job, picking out my ring, getting my Father's permission, and surprising me! It was so much fun to share all of the details with our families over the holidays. We've set the date for September 24th, 2011, so the next 9 months will be very busy and exciting!
I'd love to share my details with you. HOWEVER, to avoid snooping eyes, I'm keeping many of the planning entries private. Just add me as a friend to see anything that's hidden.
Here is a picture of us posing just 30 minutes after he asked me, in front of the christmas tree at my parents home. My mom almost broke a lamp when she jumped out of her chair once she realized I was wearing an engagment ring. It was a night I'll remember for the rest of our lives together!
Here is my Ering that I love:
I will do my best to continue to update this list as the planning process goes, and of course after the big day actually happens. Here is some amazing advice I've received from friends, family, other PW ladies, and a few ideas I came up with myself:
- Schedule, schedule, schedule - When you are planning things, from your catering tasting to your makeup/hair trial, do your best to schedule them at a time that makes sense. For example, have your hair/makeup trial done on a day that you will be heavily photographed, such as epics, bpics, or a shower/bachelorette event, so that you can see how it turns out after. Food tastings should be booked at a time of day when you are actually hungry and are not overly tired.
- Use your support system - I have some amazing ladies in my family, bridal party, and group of friends. I have received a lot of ideas and help on DIY items by simply sharing the details of my ideas with them. I don't think my invitations would have come out so great if I had been doing all 80+ by myself, whereas a group of 5 of us got them banged out in 2 sessions, and they all looked great! You can also find some great free or discounted things through connections you have - My MOH is getting us free loaner wine barrels and a hefty discount on our shuttling because of people she knows through a past job.
- Shop around - not just in stores or online, but in other people's photos. Find your inspiration before you try to fit what is available online into your day. You may come up with a new create way to DIY something that you would have otherwise purchased.
- Spend time with you FI - I know that seems obvious, but in all the hustle and bustle of planning a wedding we often get so busy/stressed/overloaded that its easy to skip out on the most important piece of all, the relationship you have with your FI. Go on a date night to a movie or do an easy deli picnic, there are a lot of things you can do together which don't require a lot of planning/money but will remind you of why you are really spending so much time/effort/money on the wedding in the first place.
Our Colors, Eggplant/Plum and Peachy/Apricot:
I made this inspiration board (how cool is that feature btw?!?) of some of my favorite photos I've saved on PW. We are planning to have our entire wedding outdoors at my parents beautiful home. They have over an acre of landscaped lawn/garden area's and an expansive slate deck, which will easily accommodate our big day.
As our planning has evolved, we've been leaning more and more toward the 'rustic elegance' feeling. We still want it to feel like a wedding (not just some backyard bbq) but we also want to keep that charm of doing something in a family home with a lot of DIY touches. We're bringing in vendors for all the major items (food, dj, cake, rentals, etc.) but are going to (at least semi-)DIY the decor elements.
Our Ceremony will be on grass facing a redwood forest. We will stand between two wine barrels with large floral arrangements on them, rather than bringing in an arch. I think the flowers will add a colorful pop to the scenery without detracting from the outdoor setting, as an ill-suited arch might.
Our favors will be over sized mason jars with our monogram screened onto them, and I LOVE the way these are decorated. The jars will also be used for drinking glasses for lemonade, iced tea, and beer during the reception.
We will also be featuring a palate cleansing peach sorbet between cocktail hour and when the buffet will open, served in a similar style to the sorbet pictured here (but peach colored with a mint sprig.)
I really want to make some fun signs to direct people where to go for each section of the day, love the re-used wood planks and creative placement of these signs.
For the ceremony it will be a combination of the following photos, we will have large flower arrangements on top of wine barrels for our 'alter,' but with white chairs and a petal lined aisle (pic from Cayann32's Bio.) The petals will be in a light peach color to match our color scheme of peach and eggplant.
Additional Decor Ideas:
Here are some of my favorite pics I've found, and will compliment the look I am going for. I am hoping to look effortlessly flawless, meaning I don't want it to be obvious I'm wearing a ton of makeup or have insane eye makeup on. Still glamorous, but not over-the-top.
For hair, I'm hoping to get a soft and romantic up-do. I want my veil to be positioned at the top of my pinned curls, not beneath them, so they will have to be off of my neck. I also want some height on the crown. I don't have bangs so my hairstylist will have to get creative with how to do the front section, as I'm avoiding anything with the slicked back look.
The Bridesmaids will all be in the same dress/shoes. They will have slightly different hair styles, but the same overall look/feel. Here are their dress and shoe combo:
Dress: Plum on Plum Bill Levkoff Bridesmaid Dress; Shoes: 'Glint' brand, purchased from Nordstrom (on sale!)
(My lovely bridesmaid Jenn Modeling the whole outfit together)
They will all be the same as well, with FI wearing the same outfit except for a white vest with the purple tie, so that he stands out a bit. He will also have a more substantial boutineer so that will distinguish him from the rest of the GM. This is a Calvin Klein tux with soft sheen lapels, to be rented from Men's Warehouse.
** CLICK on the name of each vendor to see their website **
Catering - 5 Star Catering
Our menu is only tentative at this point, as we can change it in any way we want up to 2 weeks before the big date. We feel very lucky because my FSIL is getting married this spring, and is also using this same catering company. We will get to see them in action before our wedding and see how their food comes out in a true wedding setting. We also love them because their entire premise is providing a package, meaning our total cost includes all our food, servers, and rentals (dance floor, tables, chairs, linens, all food serve ware, everything!) It has really saved us a big headache and removed a lot of the hassle out of wedding planning. Here is what we have so far:
Passed Hors d' Oeuvres
Warm Bruschetta: Warm Focaccia with Slow Roasted Roma Tomatoes, Pesto, and Fresh Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Cantaloupe wrapped with thinly sliced Prosciutto
Bite sized Baked Brie in Golden Puff Pastry with Apple Pear Chutney
Pre-Set on Tables after cocktail hour - Peach Sorbet with Mint (Pre-Set at each Place Setting)
Fresh Salad of tender Spinach with Pears, Candied Walnuts, Gorgonzola Cheese, and Champagne Vinaigrette
Tomato wedges and fresh Mozzarella Cheese tossed with Fresh Basil and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Sliced, Grilled Tri-Tip with homemade Honey Ginger BBQ Sauce
Chicken Breast stuffed with Prosciutto, Fontina, Basil and Pine Nuts. Finished with Lemon Butter Cream Sauce
Slow Roasted Baby Red Creamer Potatoes with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Rosemary
Long Grain Rice simmered in Butter with Fresh Herbs
Platter of Grilled squashes, red peppers, and red onions drizzled with Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Baked Focaccia Bread with Garlic Herb Crust
Cake Cutting Service - Client Providing Cake. 5 Star will cut cake and serve guests. 5 Star will provide china plates, silverware, and cocktail napkins.
Full Service Package - Package includes all Chafers & Serving Equipment; Five Star provides a Floral for your Buffet. Your Catering Team will be professionally attired, will Set Up everything we provide along with gracious service, Break down & Clean up.
Photographer - Orbie Pullen Photography
Orbie is one amazing photographer and a really warm person. Check out his website for a few 'awwwww' moments. He got my fiance interested in looking at wedding pictures, which is saying A LOT! We booked his complete package, which includes our engagement session, a beautiful guest book for the wedding day with pictures from the engagement session, one large fine art print from our favorite e-pic also for the wedding day, a full day of wedding photography with Orbie and an associate photographer, online hosting of the images for our guests to view, and all our high res images on discs after everything is over. I can't wait to see how it all looks on film!
DJ - Los Gatos DJ Company
I fell in love with this company before I even met them. I love the idea that a husband and wife team work events together, and share the duties of both MC'ing and providing all the music. They receive RAVE reviews from all their clients, and all our other vendors have been very impressed when they find out we're using them. They have great personalities and are saving me from needing to hire a DOC. The wife (Cassie) works with the bride and groom to create a time line prior to the event, and makes sure all your other vendors know what time it is and when to get things moving. Her husband (Dan) can then just focus on the music and microphones and not worry about keeping everything on-track.
Make-Up - Allison Sharpe
Allison is one of the most calming vendors I have ever met, mostly because she has so much experience and can really walk the walk. She seriously knows her stuff when it comes to Make-up and helping people look amazing! Beyond bridal, she has her own modeling agency and does countless photo shoots a year, providing the looks for major ad campaigns. She has done over 600 weddings to date, and I can't wait for her to do all the makeup for our bridal party!
Florist - Sarah Pink for Pink Petals
Sarah actually did the flowers for FSIL's wedding, which were beautiful! She has very thorough experience and competitive rates to boot. I love flowers, but needed some guidance in choosing which type to include in the wedding. Her (complimentary) consultation was several hours long and she really helped us grow a vision of the day with her arrangements, and even got FI interested in the boutonnieres. She has a lot of photo's to help you from previous events she's done, and a working knowledge of what will and what will not help you achieve your vision on your day!
Videographer - Marc Donahue for PermaGrin Films
We asked our DJ's if they had a good recommendation for a videographer, and they immediately replied that if they could choose one, it would definitely be Marc Donahue first. He has some amazing videos (click the company name to see a few 'highlight' videos on his site) that bring laughter and a few tears to almost everyone who watches them, even when you don't know the couple in the video! FI and I met him and really appreciated his laid back style. I know we will be getting videos to last a lifetime after our wedding day!
I had such a fun time going dress shopping with my group of 9 people (not including myself!) The very first one I tried on had a lot of potential, so from there it just seemed fun, because I knew I could go back to that dress. I will post pictures of the dress I ended up ordering in another (friends ONLY) post, so stay tuned. But for those that stayed behind in the store, here are a few fun pics:
This was the first dress. The back looked gorgeous when she showed me how it would look bustled. For some reason, I was not convinced it was the dress ...
I was absolutely IN LOVE with the second dress I tried on. I have seen Adorae on many other brides on PW and I knew I had to see how it looked on me. It brought a few tears from the group to say the least. While I thought this was such a beautiful dress, and boy did it fit like a G-L-O-V-E, it seemed a bit too formal for our late summer, outdoor event. It also felt a little too 'red' carpet and not really enough like a wedding dress when I had it on. Still love looking at the pics though.
Here are some pics of a few other dresses I tried on, in no particular order:
Pics of my dress in the next post :)
Our officiant will enter followed by FI who will be escorting MOB. He will seat her and then take his place at the 'alter.' Then his Sister/BIL and parents will enter, followed by the entire bridal party. They will be walking into 'Wondertful Tonight' by Vitamin String Quartet. Then my dad will walk me down the stairs, through the gazebo (pictured to the right, it will have a beautiful flower arch on the opening on the day of) and down the aisle to 'Somewhere over the Rainbow/Wonderful World' by IZ. He will give me away, shake FI's hand, and we will be ready to begin!
Addresssing the Guests
Our officiant is a dear friend (and FI's sensei in Japanese Jujutsu) who has a great way with words and a beautiful outlook on life and love. We have asked him to collect and share his thoughts regarding marriage itself, us as individual people, and his outlook on our marriage. After this he will begin the Hands Ceremony.
Instead of a unity candle or sand ceremony, we are doing a hand ceremony. I've heard of people doing this either spliting it up, or just having the officiant read through it, followed by actual vows. I think we will have our officiant read it through and then we will do our vows. This is taken from www.ashandbrandon.com and the last section is edited as we are not religious. Without further adieu, I present:
The Hands Ceremony
"BRIDE if you would face GROOM and hold his hands, palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build you future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost hopes and dreams.
These are the hands you will place with expectant joy against your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within your womb.
These are the hands that look so big and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your child for the first time.
These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief overwhelm you.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes; eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.
GROOM if you would now hold BRIDE ’s hands, palms up, so that you may see the gift they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, and they are holding yours on your wedding day, as she promises to love you all the days of her life.
These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have another child; that together you have created a new life.
These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
They are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams. Together as a team, everything you hope for can be realized."
[Addresses guests] To those who have been honored to join GROOM and BRIDE on this, their wedding day: May you bless the hands that you see before you with your support. May they always be held by one another. Help give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship, rich in caring. May Nicola and Michael see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter, and guide.
We will then read our personal vows to one another. We feel that the hand ceremony covers a lot, but it will be entirely read by our officiant. We will share a few of the things we love about one another, what we look forward to as a married
couple, and our promises to one another.
Retrieving & Blessing the Rings
We've decided to have our Grandmothers have our ring boxes, as we do not have a flower girl or ring bearer in the wedding. After our vows our Best Man will retrieve the boxes from our grandmothers (seated in the front row) and deliver them to the officiant to be blessed.
Legalizing It All
We will them be asked to repeat after our officiant, and provide the standard 'sickness/Health, Richer/Poorer' vows, we will exchange rings, and be pronounced Husband and Wife for the first time!!!
Will be to Queen's 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love.'
So, our photographer (Orbie Pullen) is amazing. We picked a day over memorial day weekend thinking we'd get amazing weather and have worry-free pictures. That was NOT the case. It was beyond windy/cold, so much so that we kept having to move so my hair wasn't in front of both our faces. Yet somehow he made the pictures look like it was that perfect weather we had been hoping for. I can't wait to see the actual wedding pictures, since these are just so great! (okay, I'm a little biased, but I love them!)