Mar 24, 2013
After checking out several local venue options, Brian and I decided to take a tour of a place called Top of the Bay which is located on a military base called the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. From the moment we walked in the door, we were completely wowed and we knew that we HAD to have this place!
Top of the Bay sits right on the waterfront overlooking the scenic Chesapeake Bay... formerly the old officer's club, it now serves as a premier restautant, catering and conference center and has recently undergone extensive renovations that fused the facility's old-world charm with today's modern technology. Walking into Top of the Bay is like walking into an elegant old-Hollywood era mansion, but with the most updated of today's modern conveniences. Those who are eligible to rent Top of the Bay are: Active Duty Military, Civilian Employees, Department of Defense Contractors, Retirees and Family Members... lucky for us, Brian works for the Department of Defense so that made us eligible!
We are so excited to be able to have our wedding there! Not only is the inside gorgeous, but so is the outside... we have the option (depending on the weather, of course!) of having our ceremony on the rooftop patio which overlooks the Chesapeake Bay and is a beautiful backdrop for any event or special day! Maryland weather can be tricky... we've had blizzards in March and we've had weather in the 70's in March. As a matter of fact, today (January 29th) it is 60 degrees! SIXTY! And that is after a week of below-freezing HIGH temperatures. Weird!
the front/outside of the venue
this is where my ceremony will be outside IF the weather cooperates... what a gorgeous view! :)
I am IN LOVE with these spiral staircases... aren't they awesome??
the girls' room to get ready in
the boys' room to get ready in
in the event of inclimate weather, this is the room where our ceremony will be... I was thinking that we could stand on the platform at the top of the stairs, with the bridesmaids/groomsmen staggered down the stairs on either side of the platform.
looking into the reception area from the foyer entrance; basically the same thing but just a little closer up
a wider view of the room
left: as you're entering the room from the foyer but before you get into the actual room - the buffet dinner will be set up here
right: the same thing but on the other side of the doorway - the cardbox/gift table and guest book table will most likely be over there
the bar! :)
the bar area :)
from the bar, into the boys' dressing room the view from the bar windows :)
Brian had my ring made in Chicago by a close friend of the family who is a jeweler, Sylvia E. She also made his parents' wedding rings almost 35 years ago! When Brian told his mom that he was going to propose, she told him that she wanted to give him 2 small diamonds that had belonged to her mother (who died a few years before Brian & I met) to be incorporated in either the engagement ring or the wedding band. When I learned about this, I was so shocked (in a good way)! I'm a very sentimental person, so having my ring made by the same jeweler who made his parents' rings and using diamonds that belonged to his grandmother has such a special meaning to me. It also made me feel like it was his mother's way of accepting me into their family, officially. Brian decided to use his grandmother's diamonds in the engagement ring, placed on either side of the center stone.
I talked to Sylvia E. about having our rings engraved. I wanted the inside of my engagement ring to say "Brian & Nikki" and my wedding band to have our wedding date engraved inside of it - March 24, 2013.
I had the inside of Brian's wedding band engraved too... it says the same thing as my rings but since his band is twice the width of mine, Brian & Nikki is on the top line and March 24, 2013 is on the bottom.
My engagement ring & wedding band together.
My engagement ring and Brian's wedding band together.
Not too much longer before I'll get to wear this on my finger every day... I can't wait!
Brian had planned on proposing to me at the location of our first date, The Melting Pot in Columbia, Maryland. But because I know Brian so well and I am so perceptive (he says I should've been a detective and no, I didn't snoop... I really did pick up on his awkward nervousness and the hints he didn't realize he was giving me!) I figured out his plan before he'd had a chance to execute it. I called a friend of mine and told her what I thought was going to take place... she told me that I better act excited and I swore that I would. She asked me if I wanted to go get a manicure with her the day before, but I told her I didn't want to because then he would know that I knew... I brought a bottle of fingernail polish to work with me and hoped that I might have a chance sometime that day to throw a coat of paint on my nails.
At about 2:45 pm (about 20 minutes or so before the end of my work day) on Friday, May 11th, I was turned around facing the corner working the busiest channel we have (Southern Patrol) and I'd just had a car chase... I turned around for something and was completely shocked to see Brian behind me on one knee. He had a dozen long stemmed red roses in one hand and a ring box in the other. He said "Nikki J, will you marry me?" When I say that I was COMPLETELY in shock, I am not exaggerating... in fact, the only words I could get out of my mouth were "what are you doing here?!" He had the biggest grin on his face and, since I hadn't actually answered his question, asked me "aren't you going to answer me?" OF COURSE I said yes! All my co-workers started clapping (one of them had been videotaping it) - I'll never forget it.
It turns out that when I called my friend to tell her that I suspected when and how he was going to propose, she called Brian and told him. He'd said "no, I don't think she knows... I made up another excuse and I think she bought it." - my friend said "I'm telling you, SHE KNOWS... you'd better figure something out!" While it would've been very sweet for Brian to propose where we'd had our first date, this was just as memorable!
Like I explained in an earlier post, I made each one of my Bridesmaids and my Maid-of-Honor a "Bridesmaid Box" with a bunch of different things inside. I used photo boxes that I bought from A.C. Moore when they were on sale 5 for $10. On the top of the box I put a picture/collage of pictures of each Bridesmaid and I... if I only had one picture with the girl, printed it as a 4x6 and added a little wooden flower just to dress it up a little bit. And with some help from a friend of mine (and her Cricut machine) we used watermelon cardstock to cut out letters to spell out each girl's name (placed above the picture) and "Will you be my Bridesmaid?" (below the picture). On the front of each box there is a little metal namecard holder that I stenciled the wedding date onto (03-24-13) and I spelled out Brian on one side of the holder and Nikki on the other. I also added a little heart on the front edge of the box.
Inside the lid of the box, I printed out a sheet listing each item in the box and an explanation for it. I mounted the list onto a piece of cardstock with a pretty design on it.
Here's what the inside of the box looked like:
And here's the list of everything that was inside (along with swatches of the wedding colors, a bracelet with their "title" and rhinestone iron-on bling... those were in the box but not on the list):
For My Maid of Honor
Notepad: to jot down all of your ideas, which I PROMISE to at least listen to! :)
Marbles: an extra set, just in case I lose my marbles along the way and you need to lend me a few. :)
Peanut Butter Crackers: a quick pick-me-up to boost your energy when you feel like you can’t take one more planning session or try on one more dress without your blood sugar levels bottoming out. :)
Play-Doh: you can squeeze this instead of wringing my neck when I start to drive you crazy! :)
Pain Reliever: to relieve all aches and pains resulting from wedding-related tasks. :)
Alcohol: in case the pain reliever isn’t enough! :)
Earplugs: for when you just can’t bear to listen to one more detail about the wedding! :)
Calendar: to keep track of important dates (and my crazy work schedule!)
Lifesavers: because that’s what YOU are to ME! :)
Puzzle Pieces: because your friendship has been such an important piece of my life and YOU are such an important part of this wedding! :)
Safety Pin: to hold your nerves together… and an extra one to help hold mine together too! :)
Band-Aids: to mask any boo-boo’s you may incur during the many hours of cutting out various tags, signs & invitations – please try to keep the blood off of the paper! LoL
Tissues: for your happy tears! :)
Hugs & Kisses: because you SO deserve them! :)
Picture of the happy couple: a reminder of why you signed up for this in the first place. Your friendship means the world to me and I’m so happy to have you as a part of our special day! We love you! :)
For the notepad, I bought a little mini composition book that was watermelon colored... I bought a monogram sticker with each girl's initial and put it on the front of the book to personalize it. For the marbles, I bought a big bag of marbles and portioned them out into individual little ziploc baggies. The alcohol was a tiny bottle of wedding cake flavored vodka. ;) The earplugs I got were neon pink and I put them in a little individual ziploc baggie too. For the calendar, I bought each girl a pocket-sized calendar that I personalized and included my work schedule (shift work with a rotating schedule) but also important wedding-related dates and birthdays. I also included the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of myself, my fiance, my mother, my future mother-in-law, and every girl in the wedding party so they would have the information accessible to them if they needed to contact each other. :) I portioned out some candy Lifesavers and Hershey's chocolate Hugs & Kisses into seperate individual ziploc baggies. For the puzzle pieces I used these little eraser cubes that I found in the party favors section at Walmart, a whole bag of them was only $1. For the safety pins, I connected 2 safety pins together and put them inside the box. I bought some really cute patterned bandaids and I found personalized packs of tissues that had a damask pattern in black & white with a pretty pink edge and each girl's initial on them. I mounted a wallet size picture of Brian & I onto a piece of watermelon cardstock and put it into a little magnetic frame. And I think the peanut butter crackers, Play-Doh and Pain Reliever are self explanatory. :)
The boxes were a hit with all the girls! They took alot of time and effort but they were totally worth it in the end! :)
Intead of the traditional Guest "Book", I'm going to have a "Fingerprint Tree" (18"x24") where people can stamp their fingerprints as leaves on the tree and then sign their name next to their fingerprint. I ordered the tree from YourKeepsakeCo on Etsy, for $19.50 and then had it printed at FedEX Kinko's for $23.00. Here's what the file looked like:
I bought a pack of 4 different greenish colored ink pads from Amazon for $8.56 (and FREE shipping thanks to Prime!), but I think I'll probably only use 3 out of the 4 colors (cottage ivy, bamboo leaves & pear tart) - New Sprout doesn't look very leaf-like to me! ;)
I bought a frame for the tree at A.C.Moore... it was regularly $25.99 but I had a coupon that was good for 50% off any one item, so I got it for $13.00! :) Here's what the Fingerprint Tree looks like in the frame:
I am DIY'ing my table numbers using a Tolsby picture frame from IKEA. What I like best about these picture frames (besides their price of $.99 each!) is that they're 2-sided so the table number can be seen from both sides of the table. Here is what the frame looks like:
One downfall about these frames is that they only come in white, blue, orange and green... which means I'm going to have to paint them. I bought some silver metallic spray paint and I've just been waiting for a warm day to do the painting. The problem is that I live in Maryland and it's winter... warm days aren't very common here during the winter and usually whenever we have a warm day it's too windy to try to spray paint something outside. It looks like Wednesday is going to be about 65 degrees here, so that might just be my day! :)
I made the actual numbers out of a thick glittery pink cardstock that I think I found at Michael's. I used 3" vinyl number stickers that I put on top of the cardstock and then removed once I had cut the numbers out.
Here is what the numbers looked like when they were finished:
I haven't decided what color cardstock I want to use to mount them onto when I put them in the frames. Since the frames will be silver and the numbers are prink, I feel like using pink or silver/grey cardstock would be too much but at the same time I feel like black would be too dark and white would be too plain. I'm also thinking I'd like to add one of my monograms to either the top or the bottom of the cardstock. I'm probably going to go with either this one:
or this one:
Here are the frames being painted:
the paint is all messed up on this frame... don't mind that part, it will definitely be fixed before the big day! :)
Here they are, all ready to go! :)