How I finally got my wedding dresses!

by Melissa on April 21, 2012

Along with stories that I never told during the wedding planning process as they happened, like our wedding venue hunt, and the story of our engagement and my engagement ring, I never elaborated on how I finally found my wedding dresses.

I told you about the evolution of my wedding dress hunt, and then how my wedding dress got lost about seven weeks before the wedding. But how did I recover from the lost wedding dress?

Well, once I realized that Saja was being really elusive about where my wedding dress was and when I could expect it, I, rightly so, started to worry.

My second choice wedding dress all along had been the JCrew Cecilia, which I had tried on at the Georgetown boutique. So, I was ready to buy that dress as a backup. But first, I went on Ebay to see if anyone was selling any JCrew Cecilia’s. Lo and behold they were! A size 16, brand new with tags, and for $225 instead of JCrew’s price of $495!

I used one of Ebay’s tools called “Make an offer” (I had never seen this before … different than bidding), and offered the seller $175 for the dress, and assumed we would settle in the middle at $200. Well, they accepted the $175 offer! My JCrew wedding dress shipped the next day.

But, one of the things I really loved about my original Saja wedding dress was the short length and the chiffon flowy-ness of it. After a quick search, I found this dress on At $139.99, I was all like, well, what the hell … and ordered it.

Both dresses arrived four days later on the same day. I tried on both and loved them both! I would wear the JCrew one at the ceremony and the Macys one for the reception (although I ended up only changing into it right before the first dance). I walked downstairs while wearing the JCrew dress and showed Ken. He was impressed too. So I was sold!

I was officially over my lost Saja dress. Of course, they wouldn’t refund my deposit because “all sales are final,” but they couldn’t even tell me when my dress would be arriving. Since they were already nearly a month late on delivery at that point, I filed a dispute with my credit card company. It took a few months, but the credit card company ultimately sided with me and provided a full refund of my dress deposit. 

As I look at my wedding photos, I cannot possibly imagine having worn any other dress that day. They were both just so perfect. Simple and casual, but elegant for our fun campground wedding.

Sometimes accidents, like lost wedding dresses, are really blessings in disguise!


Feeling stressed during wedding planning? I’ve provided some advice on that before, but here are some additional tips to make you feel like your head is above water again!

Don’t be afraid to offend people

Just say what you mean. Say what you want. Don’t apologize for what you want, and don’t feel like you owe folks some long winded discussion of why you want (or don’t want) X, Y, or Z at your wedding.

Along those same lines, quit writing such long winded e-mails or leaving uber explanatory voicemails.

Let’s illustrate with an example. Here’s how to send an e-mail to your florist:

Can I add peonies to my bouquet?

Here’s how NOT to send an e-mail to your florist:

I was thinking about it the other day, and I’m wondering if I can add peonies to my bouquet. I realize that it might not be season for them or that they might be hard for you to get, but can you let me know if that would be possible? I saw picture of one in a magazine and just loved it! I realize that we talked about this briefly during the consultation and everything, but what can I say, I just can’t make up my mind!” 

You’re busy and your wedding vendors are busy. Save yourself time by writing quick and succinct e-mails, and save them time so they don’t have to search through paragraphs to text to find the point of your e-mail.

Follow up on your e-mails as soon as you get them.

Don’t let them languish in your inbox. If you aren’t ready to make a decision that is related to that e-mail, just reply back, “Hi, thanks for your e-mail. I haven’t made a decision about this yet, but expect to do so in the next two weeks.” If you’ve ever read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, you know how important it is to clear your mental clutter. And all those unanswered e-mails and voicemails are mental clutter. And when the person calls you or e-mails you again in a week to follow up on their now un-replied to e-mail, that will add even more to your mental clutter and stress. 

Stay organized!

I know, this is easier said than done. Here are some tips. But don’t purchase anything for the wedding unless you already have a place for it at home. Make sure you’re tracking your next steps (my new obsession is OmniFocus on my iPad, which is great for keeping track of next tasks, but I still use Google Docs extensively), and what things you’re waiting on other folks for as well (has your bridesmaid given you her measurements yet? Has your caterer made that change to the contract that you requested? It doesn’t matter what system you use, but keep track!


Our Wedding Seating Chart

by Melissa on April 19, 2012

I have a bit of a confession to make that I fear might make other brides hate me.

Our seating chart was not difficult. At all.

Remember back when I was pissed off when I realized that our original plan to have open seating was dashed? And how angry I was that I’d have to waste so much time in the weeks leading up to the wedding to figure out a seating chart?

Well, creating that seating chart took a total of about 30 minutes. 45 minutes, tops. How? I’m not sure. But here are some things I think that helped.

1) We didn’t even bother starting the seating chart until a week before the wedding. Our RSVP-by date was exactly three weeks before the wedding, but by that date, we had only received 47% of our RSVPs. By waiting until the last possible second to start the seating chart, I didn’t have to speculate who still might come and who still might need seats. We waited until we had received all the RSVPs we thought we’d receive and then started it.

2) We had rectangular tables instead of round. This, I think, was the biggest reason our seating chart was so easy. When we couldn’t figure out how best to “split up” folks that knew each other, we just put two rectangular tables together instead of having space between them. That way, everyone was still sitting at the same table (even if it was actually two tables). In fact, we ended up having not having an “single” rectangular tables.


3) We made a floorplan of our venue, making it easy to visualize where our guests would be sitting. This was also extremely valuable as it allowed us to quickly rearrange tables (electronically) as necessary when we wanted to combine tables or separate them. This worked beautifully in conjunction with a spreadsheet that we created. Each column was a table number, and each cell under the table number had an individual’s name. When we wanted to move someone to a different table, we just dragged that cell to a different table number column.


What about other couples? Was your seating chart easier than you expected?


Post-Wedding Days! [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on April 18, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Recap Intermission; Part 11; Part 12

I wish I could say that our first few days of marriage were spent in some blissful, post-wedding state, but they weren’t. Ken was a little hesitant that I was going to be writing about this. He didn’t want our final wedding recap to end on such a downer. But, as I see it, it was just like 36 hours of a downer after the wedding, and then things went right back to normal, so it’s all good!

I’ll spare a lot of the details, but here’s the short story. My grandmother was still in the hospital and we weren’t sure how long she’d have to stay there. Knowing my family couldn’t afford a hotel for several days, I offered to let them stay at our house. Big mistake. They overstayed their welcome.  Well, they only stayed for two nights, but, my parents are loud and argue a lot. Ken and I thought we’d be spending those days after the wedding just lounging around the house and relaxing, but that didn’t happen.

So, now let me back up a little bit. Our wedding was on a Friday, and strangely enough, Ken and I, like the night before the wedding, did not sleep well on our wedding night. I thought I would’ve slept like a baby all through the night, but we were both up and awake by about 4:45AM on Saturday morning. We talked and talked about how amazing the wedding was, but also did some Monday Morning Quarterbacking (er, Saturday morning?).

We had a lot to wrap up over at the wedding venue. We had to get everything cleaned up and packed by 1PM. Luckily our day-of-coordinator and her team packed up a lot of the things the night before, but we still had a bunch to do.

So, we had breakfast at the hotel, and that’s when I extended the invitation to my parents to stay at our house. Saturday actually was fine. After we got checked out of the hotel, we went to the venue and finished cleaning up and packing. We got out of there JUST IN TIME for our 1PM check out time. It was a lot easier getting everything to the venue with professional movers and a large moving truck. But this time we just had a moving van plus all our family vehicles, so it took quite a bit of creative packing to find space for everything.

Ken and I, plus our immediate families, all drove back to our house, about 20 miles north of the venue, and unloaded all our wedding stuff. Our house was a complete mess. But having my family there on Saturday actually wasn’t so bad. We went to visit my grandmother in the hospital in the evening, and then my family helped get all the catering and cake leftovers packaged up in plastic containers. So that was pretty helpful.

On Sunday morning, I took my sister, nephew, and cousin to the metro so they could go to the airport for their flights, but my parents stayed because my grandmother was still in the hospital.

Sunday is when things started to get annoying. My parents were just so loud and were fighting. I thought they could at least tone it down since they were staying with us AFTER OUR WEDDING, but it’s like they are incapable of doing that.

Ken was getting mad at me for not asking them to go to a hotel after they started to get annoying, but I was just so torn about what to do. After all, it was an extremely extenuating circumstance. No one could’ve predicted that my grandmother would have fallen ill the day before the wedding. And my parents really couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel for an undetermined amount of time. And I felt a little resentful of how Ken was treating the situation, because his dad has had to stay with family members at inopportune times too after illnesses (like with us for a week right after we moved into our house, and with Ken’s sister days after she had a baby. The timing wasn’t great, but we all did what we had to do).

Ken and I ran a few errands, and when we got back to the house around 6PM on Sunday, we laid in bed to take a nap. We didn’t wake up until about 8AM the following morning. I guess we were tired! that’s about 14 hours of sleep for those of you counting.

On Monday, my parents were still there and still arguing loudly.

No one handled the situation well. I should’ve been more forthright with my parents, or probably never even extended the invitation for them to stay with us. My parents should’ve known better than to actually accept the invitation, and since they had accepted, they could’ve at least been on better behavior. And Ken should’ve realized how terrible of a situation he was putting me in. Having my parents there was stressful enough. But that just added to the stress exponentially.

Our wedding was on a Friday, and Ken and I were going back to work on Tuesday (we weren’t leaving for our mini moon until the following Sunday).

My parents finally left on Monday and my grandmother was released from the hospital. Ken and I were finally able to enjoy silence in the house. We opened our wedding gifts and just lounged around the rest of the day.  Everything went back to normal as soon as my parents left.

We both went back to work on Tuesday. That entire day was spent in a complete fog. My sleep schedule was still all messed up. I was starving when I got to work, and went down to the cafeteria in our building for some breakfast. I ended up getting a turkey sandwich with roasted red peppers (or something like that). I’m a strictly breakfast food for breakfast kind of girl, and here I was starving for a sandwich at 9AM. I went back to my desk and savored that crappy little pre-made sandwich. And I just ate throughout the entire day. My appetite had been MIA for about two weeks leading up to the wedding, so any bit of food just tasted amazing now that I could actually stomach it.

We left for our Vegas minimoon the following Sunday, 9 days after the wedding. We had a fantastic time. We went to the Neon Museum (I highly recommend it!), Gold & Silver Pawn Shop (of History Channel’s Pawn Stars fame), Red Rock Canyon, and the Vintage Auto Collections.


So, there you have it. The first few days of our marriage weren’t the most perfect in the world, but what can you do? The fact that we recovered from it so easily I think says a lot about our marriage!


What was on our Wedding Registries

by Melissa on April 17, 2012

I must say, I was pretty proud of our wedding registries. I was always disgusted with those lists of what to register for on various wedding websites (ahem, The Knot) that included garbage like $75 picture frames and other junk.

But, you know, I’m a judgmental person, so maybe not everyone thinks those types of items are crap. Perhaps there are people out there that want that type of stuff. Initially, I just wanted cash, but I know you can’t ask people for cash outright. But, after a while, I started to really covet the items we registered for, so I whether we got a physical gift or just cash!

I, however, am not one of those people. Everything I registered for I had an intended purpose for and could generally be categorized as so:

Entertaining supplies

Every time we have a party, which is often, I always seem to run low on nice serving dishes and ways to keep items at the appropriate temperature. I also like our entertaining-ware to have an eclectic feel, so we didn’t register for anything matchy-matchy (of course, this is a personal preference). When I go on vacation, one of the things I like to buy are unique serving dishes. Therefore, none of our stuff actually matches.

Household DIY tools

Although Ken doesn’t like to admit it, he is quite handy and has a really creative mind. We would also like to tackle different DIY projects around the house, but sometimes DIY just seems so expensive if you have to pay $200 up front for an expensive tool. So, we registered for a lot of tools. If you notice that our registry is devoid of certain major tools (like a drill, table saw, ratchet set, etc., it’s because we already own those tools)

Kitchen Upgrades

Basically, I wanted to be able to throw away practically every pot and pan in our kitchen after the wedding and start out with new ones. Our pots and pans are a mishmash of college dorm-quality mac-and-cheese size pans, and items that have been left behind by college roommates or really cheap items that were purchased when we were completely broke starting our professional jobs post-college. As geeky as this sounds, I did a LOT of research on the different type of cookware materials, such as cast iron, stainless steel, anodized, etc. So, I didn’t register for any "set" of pots and pans. Rather, I made a list of the most frequently used sizes of pots and pans that we use, and I registered for cookware in different materials.


I know that it’s impolite to ask wedding guests for cash. But on our wedding website registry page, we explained to our guests that we were planning on a number of household projects in the next several years, including a complete kitchen renovation and new siding and windows. We were hoping they would take this as a hint that cash was a welcome gift.

So, here’s what was actually on our registry. We registered at Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel, and Macy’s

Pots and Pans

  • 10 Inch Stainless Steel Skillet
  • 12 Inch Stainless Steel Skillet
  • 1 ½ Quart Stainless Steel saucepan
  • 3 ½ Quart Nonstick Hard Anodized Saucepan
  • 16 Inch Rectangular Roaster
  • 15 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
  • 6 Quart Dutch Oven
  • 13 Inch Stainless Steel Walk
  • 12 Quart Pasta and Steamer Set
  • Round Buffet Server
  • Saute Pan
  • 2 Quart Stainless Sauce Pan
  • 1 Quart Stainless Sauce Pan
  • 6 Quart Stainless Stockpot
  • 4 Quart Stainless Saucepan
  • 12 Inch Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Skillet
  • Ceiling Pot Rack


  • Flatware set for 16 (registered for two sets of 8)
  • “Nice” heavy servingware, like for Thanksgiving
  • Steak Knives
  • Kitchen servingware in stainless steel (like ladle, spaghetti server, slotted spoon, turner, etc.) to replace our old yucky plastic ones. We also registered for some silicone servingware too to use on nonstick survaces
  • Bamboo Utensil Set
  • Stainless Steel Utensil Holder
  • 7-inch Santoku Knife
  • Vegetable Knife
  • Bread Slicing Knife
  • Gourmet Spreader
  • John Boos Reversible Maple Cutting Board
  • Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Holder
  • Kai Pure Komanchi 2 8-Piece Knife Set

Kitchen Small Appliances

  • 11 Cup Food Processor
  • Mini Prep Processor
  • Hand Blender
  • Large and Medium Warming Trays – because I always try to figure out how to keep food warm at parties
  • 3.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
  • Electric Fondue Set
  • Crockpot Travel Bag
  • 4 slice Toaster
  • 9 Cup Deep Fryer
  • KitchenAid 6 Quart Stand Mixer


  • Casual china set
  • Wine Glasses (red and white)
  • Champagne Glasses
  • Cocktail Glasses
  • Margarita Glasses
  • Small barware glasses
  • Small bowls – to use for parties and serving things like nuts, chips, etc.
  • Loads of colorful serving platters and serving bowls, which I always seem to run low on at parties
  • Wooden salad bar and server set

Other Kitchen-related stuff

  • 2-Cup Measuring cup: because I never seem to have a clean one available when I need it
  • Norpro Stainless Steel Pie Cake Server
  • Meat Pounder
  • Pastry Scraper/Chopper
  • Dough Blender
  • Ladle
  • Grill Brush
  • 24-cup mini muffin pan
  • 9-inch Springform Pan
  • Three Tier Cooling Rack
  • Rachael Ray 4 ½ Quart Covered Oval Casserole
  • Rachael Ray 3-Quart Large Oval Baker
  • 8 Quart Stainless Steel Chafer
  • Loads of mixing bowls in various sizes and colors. When I bake, it tends to be in bulk, so I hate running out of large bowls.
  • 2-Tier Fruit Basket

Small household appliances

  • Cordless Steam/Dry Iron. The iron I currently have is about 15 years old and never seems to iron very well. I also liked the idea of having a cordless one.
  • Dyson Animal-Ball Technology Upright Vacuum Cleaner. We don’t have animals, but I sure do have long hair that ruins practically every vacuum we ever get. My hairs always get caught in the brush part of the vacuum.


  • SparkFun Inventor’s Kit
  • Handheld GPS Navigator
  • Laser Printer
  • Vehicle Diagnostic Tool

Blu Rays

  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology
  • True Blood: The Complete First Season
  • Dexter: The First Season


  • Maglite flashlights (registered for 3)
  • Cordless Circular Saw
  • Clamp Kit
  • Multi-Cutter
  • Chalk Snap Line
  • 12-Inch Precision Marking T-Rule
  • Generation Green Bottle Cutter – Because all those pinterest tutorials involving string, acetone, and a lighter to cut bottles scares me
  • Forearm Forklift Lifting and Moving Straps
  • Jig Saw
  • Auto Laser Level
  • Black and Decker Work Bench
  • Staple Gun
  • Sander


  • Travel Steamer
  • Brother Serger
  • Electric Foot Warming Pad – to keep my feet toasty in my office during the winter months
  • Drying rack
  • Air Conditioner Cover
  • Weber Work Table (to go with our existing grill)
  • Akro Mils Plastic Drawers. We use these as small item storage in our laundry room and our current one was full.
  • Snow Thrower – for our small yard
  • Bed Sheets

Well, there you have it. What was on your registries? Do you have any registry regrets?


T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Recap Intermission; Part 11

As I mentioned in this post, my wedding recaps starting at Part 11 are less detailed , because, after writing 45-single-spaced pages of recaps within about 4 weeks of our wedding day, I lost steam.

We had survived our first dance, complete with a twirls and a dip! We went back to mingling with our guests, which was just fantastic. Ken and I spent about 90 seconds total of the entire wedding sitting at our sweetheart table. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. When I look at a wedding photos of other couples and they’re quarantined at the table away from their guests with their wedding party while dinner is served and toasts are given, I just kind of shudder. We spent nearly every moment talking with our guests.

Someone, I can’t remember who, mentioned it was time to cut the cake. Cake smooshing is an awful no no for me, so Ken and I agreed long ago that there would be no cake smooshing.

We went up to our totally wrong cakes (oh well, what could we do), and cut into them using the cake cutting set my sister, who was married nearly 15 years earlier, let us borrow. We cut, put pieces of the cake onto a fork, and fed it to each other. Nicely, cleanly, calmly.






Then something unexpected happened.

Our guests started BOOING US! Yep, that’s right. Our guests actually let out playful boos encouraging us to do a real cake smooshing.

I quickly caved to the peer pressure, and Ken and I did a reluctant, cake smooshing. Our guests’ disappointment was no more. They cheered it, even if the cake smooshing was pretty half-assed. Ken said, “I can’t believe you just did that!” meaning he couldn’t believe that I caved to the pressure! I cleaned off Ken’s tie with a napkin because some icing had gotten on it.




Guest mingling resumed fairly quickly after, and then it was time for the father daughter dance.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that keen on the idea of a father-daughter dance. I don’t like how the tone of them is generally so sad. This isn’t 19th century England when a woman gets married and sees her parents maybe every 5 years after getting a husband. A wedding should be a celebration, not some sad moment for a dad who has to “say goodbye” to his daughter or some nonsense. But, I obliged and we had a father daughter dance. And my dad cried. And I was kind of uncomfortable the entire dance and, like during our processional, I kept telling my dad that it was a happy day, not a sad day.


I should point out that Ken never really agreed with my assessment of a father-daughter dance as having such a sad tone. Instead, he said it’s more reflective, not sad.

After the father-daughter dance, some of our guests started to depart. We had a relatively early ceremony, at 3:00PM, and the reception started soon after at 3:45, so I guess it made sense that folks would be ready to go by 8:45, since that was already five hours of partying.

But, we continued to mingle with the remaining guests, and hug our departing guests as they left.

Around 9:00 or so, Ken and I announced that we were going to head to the Mess Hall, the indoor location at the campground, because the pavilion was getting colder by the minute, even with the fireplace and patio heaters. About 30 of our guests, mostly out-of-town guests followed.

The indoor festivities continued. Kids had a blast with the photobooth, and family members that hadn’t seen each other in a long time really used that time to connect.  Ken and I also took a few moments to warm up by the indoor fireplace.




When I walked into the Mess Hall around 9:00PM, I realized that I was STARVING! In the days leading up to the wedding, nerves and excitement had really affected my appetite. Even the day before, surrounded by all the amazing food family and friends made for our rehearsal dinner, I couldn’t stomach more than a few bites. Besides the bite of cake consumed at the cake smooshing, the only food I had eaten that day was my sad excuse of a breakfast I forced down at the hotel more than 13 hours earlier.

Luckily the family friend who had made most of the food for the rehearsal dinner had reheated a lot of the rehearsal dinner leftovers for the remaining guests. I got a plate and dished heaping amounts of food onto it. I sat down in the Mess Hall and ate. For the first time in months, I felt truly relaxed. The leftovers tasted utterly amazing for some reason (I mean, it was perfectly good food, but I savored it like it was some gourmet meal).

There were a lot of mixed feelings as the wedding day winded down. Mostly “Wow, we’re married! The wedding day is just about over!” excitement-type feelings, and “Oh, the wedding day is just about over.” sadness-type feelings. It had been a truly incredible day. But it was just that. A single day. 13 months of hard work and patience for that one day, and it was almost over.

Bittersweet relief.

Most importantly, I was now married to the love of my life.

The photographers left. And someone, we’re still not sure who, used Ken’s camera to take this photo of us in the Mess Hall when just a few guests remained. I think it sums up that Bittersweet Relief feeling exactly.


(Personal Photo)

Shortly after this photo was taken, Ken and I got in his car and drove back to the hotel. It took me about 10 minutes to get all the hairpins out of my hair. It was a relief. It was like the signal that the wedding day was over.


I’m sure most brides do something like this for their wedding, but I just figured I’d write a post about it so that future brides can add it to their to-do lists!

For our wedding, we had a plastic bin from Target (the same plastic bins that we use to organize items in our home) that we called the “Important” box. It even had a large label to that effect.


Photo we took as we were moving all our wedding supplies to our venue two days before the wedding!

Our “Important Box” Contents

  • Marriage License Paperwork for officiant to sign
  • Copies of Ceremony Readings
  • Liquor License Paperwork
  • Checks for vendors requiring payment day-of
  • Checkbook (in case we forgot to write any checks)
  • Cash payments (for vendors that only accepted cash. We also kept an extra $200 on hand)
  • Wedding rings in their jewelry boxes
  • Lego ring bearer box
  • Engagement ring box
  • Copies of all wedding contracts
  • Printed copy of spreadsheet with all vendor contact information
  • Copy of wedding invitation (photographer usually takes picture of it)

This worked fantastic! First, I liked keeping it in a larger box rather than an envelope because it was harder to misplace. Second, as long as we always knew where that box was, we knew we’d be set for the wedding. I watched that box like a hawk in the days leading up to the wedding! And our coordinator knew about the box so she could disburse vendor payments at the wedding.

Sure, there are some downsides to putting all that important stuff in one place, but to me, that was more reassuring than having it spread all over the place and among different people! For instance, I didn’t want my sister to hold on to the rings, the officiant to hold on to the readings, and the coordinator to be the only one with the vendor contact info.

Or maybe I’m just a control freak!

What about you all? Did you have something similar on your wedding day?  What items did you keep in yours that weren’t on my list?

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If you have RSVPed “Yes” for a wedding, there are very, very few reasons for not coming.

Those reasons include your death, the death of a loved one, or a serious accident or illness you or a loved one experienced. “Having to work last minute” is not a valid excuse. But if you do, for whatever reason, decide that the wedding that you RSVPed to is no longer a priority, the bride or groom had better have a text or e-mail or voicemail from you apologizing profusely. I’m still annoyed with one of my friends who RSVPed but never came and never gave any sort of explanation. My feelings won’t be hurt if you RSVP “No.” But if you RSVP “Yes,” and then don’t come, grudges will be held.

Don’t write checks in bride’s married name.

If you decide to give a check to the bride and groom as a wedding gift, please do not write the check in the bride’s “married” name. The bride’s last name does not magically change simply because vows were exchanged. There’s waiting for the official copy of the marriage certificate from the county. Then there’s a trip to the social security office involved. Then a trip to the DMV. Then paperwork that has to be submitted to all the bride’s bank accounts. I think for even the most proactive bride, this will take at least three weeks, and I’m guessing that most couples will want to cash their checks before that. And of course, all this is assuming that the bride wants to change her name. So, pick one name (bride’s maiden name or groom’s name), write the check in that name, and then just write in the memo line or something both of their names. I had to give an extra explanation at the bank any time I tried to cash a check written to my first name + Ken’s last name. Luckily we have a joint account, so at least one name matched. But I’m sure if I tried to cash that same check on the account that was just in my name, they wouldn’t have let me cash it.

Write a thoughtful note in your card

I’m not a terribly sentimental person, but I did smile a bit more at the wedding cards that included lovely, personalized notes. It doesn’t have to be an essay or anything, but just some kind words or a favorite memory of the bride or groom or whatever. Anything other than just signing your name. This is a lesson learned for me going forward too. Typically I always just sign a card and put it in an envelope. I now have a greater appreciation for a nice thoughtful note!

Think twice about your gift

Okay, okay. I know that ETIQUETTE says that guests can buy the couple whatever they think is useful, regardless of whether it’s on your registry. And, maybe I’m a shitty person, but registry gifts, cash, checks, or gift cards are really the only acceptable gifts. Anything else is a HUGE annoyance. The bride and groom have to write a phony thank you card thanking you for something they don’t even like, and have to waste their time trying to return or sell a gift they did not want. Cash, check, or gift card for a store that they registered at. That’s it.

Don’t call them or ask them to hang out in the days before or after their wedding

Even if you’re coming from out of town. Especially don’t ask them to pick you up from the airport. No offense, they just won’t be able to focus on hanging out. Instead, they’ll be focusing on all those wedding tasks hanging over their heads!


If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to being a super wedding guest! What else am I missing here?


T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Recap Intermission

As I mentioned last week, my wedding recaps will be less detailed from this point forward, because, after writing 45-single-spaced pages of recaps within about 4 weeks of our wedding day, I lost steam.

Folks were eating dinner at the reception, and Ken and I continued to walk around, mingling among the guests. Sometimes we talked to our friends and family together, sometimes we were by ourselves talking with them.





Ken and I had bought board games with the intention of folks playing them at the wedding in case they wanted to get to know their table-mates, or in case they didn’t like to dance or whatever. If you had asked me right after the wedding, I would’ve said that the games were a mild success. However, after seeing the wedding photos, I can’t believe how many folks were actually playing the games. It was amazing! I’m so glad our guests took advantage of it.






The kids also had a great time with the glow necklaces, glow sticks, and other toys.



I was also thrilled that the s’mores were such a big hit,including a big hit with me and Ken who ate s’mores before any real food.




Somehow, Ken and I never managed to get any food before the caterers packed it away. I’m not sure if it was already put away before the first dance of if that didn’t happen until afterwards. But either way, Ken and I never had any of the catered food at the wedding! Although Ken says he thinks he may have had a hot dog. But I definitely didn’t have any. No matter, I wasn’t hungry anyway.

It was getting time for our first dance, which meant it was time for me to change into my “reception” dress that had an extra special alteration that I was going to reveal during our first dance! (I had decided earlier in the day not to change into the “reception dress” right away. I just loved my ceremony dress too much to take it off!)

I grabbed my sister, and we walked to the Mess Hall, where the closest restrooms were located. I grabbed my “accessories and makeup” bin, which I had tucked away near the freezer in the Mess Hall, and took it with me to the restroom. My sister helped take off my ceremony dress, I went pee for the first time since getting dressed at the hotel nearly 6 hours earlier, and changed into my reception dress. I also changed my headband, pearl necklace, and bracelet.

My sister and I walked back to the pavilion and Ken announced it was time for our first dance!



We had taken a bunch of dance lessons, so we were really excited to show off our moves. It was really cute, I could tell Ken was pretty nervous about the dance, but he did great. Complete with twirling me and dipping me!

But right before the music was about to begin, I revealed the special dress alteration. LED lights in the hem of my dress! Well, as Ken would say, technically it was electroluminescence wire (aka EL Wire), but who’s keeping track. I had found a fabulous seamstress in the DC area who was willing to sew the lights in for me! Finding someone willing and able (and who could understand me) was not an easy task!  The string light had been sewn into the hem, when I got dressed, I just tucked the cord and battery pack into my Spanx under my dress!

Right before the music began for the first dance, I reached the side of my leg, where the battery pack was concealed under my dress, tapped the on button by feeling for it, and my dress lit up! There was an audible gasp from the guests! I LOVED IT! I especially liked how it was subtle, and not all in-your-face-bright lights like the LED wedding dress recently featured on Modern Family.






And I would just like to point out that the EL Wire project was ALL Ken! I came home one day in September, two months before the wedding, and was like, “You know, I wonder if it would be possible to sew LED lights into my wedding dress.” Ken said something like, “Yeah, that would be cool,” and I just figured he thought it was another crazy bride brain idea and didn’t say another word.

Well, about two hours later, he said, “Okay, I think I have it all figured out!” He had figured out the best type of lights, the size of the battery packs, and picked out options for brightness, color, and blinking options. I had no idea he was even working on it!

The first dance was over!



Ken took out his iPhone and changed the playlist to “dancing.” (Yep, he even figured out the self-deejay stuff to the extent that he could control it with his phone). We danced a bit of the first song on the “dancing” playlist (I’ve Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas), and some guests joined us for it.



After that, we were back to mingling with the guests!


… that everyone tries to convince you that you SHOULD be stressed.

Here are a couple of conversations I had, mostly with women, throughout the wedding planning process:

Coworker: How’s the wedding planning coming along?
Me: Oh, fine, we just booked our florist
Coworker: Are you going crazy yet?
Me: Nope, not too bad.
Coworker: Just you wait! It will become madness when everyone starts to bicker and argue over every little detail.


Me (via personal facebook status update): Well isn’t that nice, my wedding dress is LOST and the designer won’t refund my deposit
Comments: “WHAT!?!?!” “OMG!” “What are you going to do?!?”
Me: I’m going to get married no matter what dress I wear


Me: No, we’ve decided not to hire a deejay. We’re just going to self-deejay
Other Vendor: No way! That is the LAST thing you want to be worrying about at such a stressful time. You want to make sure your entertainment works and your guests have a good time. Why add another stressor to an already stressful time?
Me: Ummm, it’s nothing I’m stressing about. I’m confident that self-deejaying will work just fine, we have backup equipment, and if it doesn’t work, well, a wedding can still be a wedding without music!

You get the point. Do you ever think that if people just stopped asking you about wedding stress and telling you about their former wedding stress, and trying to convince you that every decision along the way will just add to your stress? BAH! I’m stressing thinking about all this stressing talk.

So just remember, just because folks tell us that weddings are SUPPOSED to be stressful, you don’t have to agree! Negativity is self-perpetuating, so if you do talk to your coworker about all the wedding stress SHE had planning her wedding, you might start to feel stressed yourself!

So, just nip it in the bud! Stay calm and carry on! (and here’s how we avoided most wedding stress, and why planning a wedding does not have to be hard!)