T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

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

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

There was a lot of things happening simultaneously. I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my clutch and my bouquet. My dad loaded up the bellhop cart, the same cart that we kept in our hotel room overnight so that I could keep my wedding dress hanging from up high, with things like my reception dress, my "important" bin, my "accessories" bin and my "makeup" bin. I think there were also a few other things on there, including the shopping bag that the florist brought that had the boxes with each corsage and boutonniere. My dad asked the photographer if she wanted to load her gear onto the cart. She said, "No thanks, my camera bag has wheels."

I opened up my laptop one more time. I went to Facebook and did two things. One, I posted an update to our Facebook wedding group that we were now going to hold the ceremony in the pavilion with the covered sides, so as to protect our guests from the windy weather (that was a decision I thought was made on my phone call with Ken. The one where I was barely listening to him).  Two, I went to my Facebook news feed and typed in the status message "about to leave for the wedding" and asked the photographer to capture it while I had my mouse hovered over the word "Post." Then I had her take another photo of it right after I posted it. (Sorry, I wanted to post that photo, but there are just too many last names in the photo to pixelate out. It was awesome though!) Here’s a picture of me at my computer though.


We took the elevator down to the lobby. By the way, the hotel we stayed at was a lovely one, but fuck if their elevators had no temperature control! Seriously, it was like riding an elevator outside. Freezing cold. Of course, I was hating the fact that it was so cold on our wedding day, especially since it was THE ONLY DAY OF THE 10 DAY FORECAST that was cold. But whatever, there was nothing we could do.

We got off the elevator and waited for my sister to pull around the car. I was with my mom, my dad, my five year old nephew, and my dad’s cousin. I was SO excited. It was TIME TO LEAVE FOR MY WEDDING. Jitters were gone, no more rumbly tumbly in my tummy. I was set.

My sister pulled up with her SUV. As I walked out the automatic doors of the hotel, I heard my mom say, "Oh, wait a second, let me see the back of your dress."

Cue panicked feeling.

My cousin said, "oh yeah, look at that." I was picturing a rip. Picturing some sort of giant gash of a tear in the back of my dress. My mom and cousin walked up behind me and touched the middle of my back. In my calmest voice possible, I said, "oh no, is it a tear?" I tried to be rational, and I reminded myself that I had an entire other dress to wear. For a moment, I kicked myself for not making an emergency sewing kit. They tugged at it. Nope, it wasn’t a tear. It just bunched somehow. They straightened it and I was good to do.

My heart started beating again.

My dad was driving, I sat in the passenger seat, and my mom, nephew, and cousin all sat in the backseat. My sister took a few photos as we all climbed into the car. I don’t remember what was discussed during the car ride. I guess I could ask my family. I could tell that my nephew was excited.

We got on I-95 for two exits. I had learned of a side road way to get to the venue, but I forgot to tell my parents about it. Traffic was heavy for just those two exits. That was exactly why I had decided to stay at a hotel closer to the venue instead of staying at home, 20 miles north on I-95.

We got off the exit and drove down the main road to get to the venue. About a mile before we would enter the cellphone "dead zone," I called the landline in the Mess Hall from my cell phone. A family friend answered, the same family friend that had been staying at the campground and helped cook our rehearsal dinner. I asked for Ken. She said he was in the pavilion. I told her where I was and that we’d be there in a few minutes.  She said she’d relay the message to Ken.

We’re driving. And driving. AND HOLY SHIT WE JUST MISSED THE TURN TO THE VENUE. The same turn I had been using for days on end now. The same turn where MY A-FRAME CHALKBOARD SIGN SAT INDICATING THAT IT WAS MELISSA AND KEN’S WEDDING.

Cue middle-of-the-road U-turn.

Good for a laugh. Please no other cars come and t-bone us. #ThisIsTheDefinitionOfDistractedDriving

We turned down the gravel road that would take us to the campground. There were all sorts of cars there and parked already. Guests were arriving for our wedding. OUR WEDDING. The day was HERE. I started literally shaking with excitement.


DIY Wedding Flower Preservation and Pressing

by Melissa on February 7, 2012

About a week before my wedding, I had a thought. What was I going to do with my bouquet flowers when the wedding was over? Although it was never anything I considered a priority, all of a sudden, I thought it might be nice to have my bouquet flowers pressed and/or otherwise preserved.

I contacted our florist for recommendations for flower preservation companies. She recommended two. One specialized in preserving the entire bouquet as-is, while the other specialized in pressing the flowers and displaying them in frames.

After taking a look on their websites at what they had to offer, I definitely liked the pressed flowers, from an aesthetic standpoint, a lot better. I contacted the pressed flower company, along with some other similar companies. After they provided estimates, I realized that flower preservation would be a very, very expensive thing to do. Somewhere in the range of $600-$750 to press my wedding bouquet flowers and have them preserved.

As a reminder, this is what my bouquet looked like:


Flower Preservation Techniques

So, I did what anyone does nowadays to make themselves knowledgeable on a particular topic. I Googled and Yougled (it’s the term I’m using for searching YouTube. Use it, let’s see if it catches on) flower preservation techniques, including here, here and here.

I opted to try the silica gel drying technique, the modified phone book pressing technique, and upsidedown-drying technique (I wanted to use three separate methods in case something went dreadfully wrong with one of them and ruined my flowers). I ordered some silica gel from Amazon so that it would be delivered to our house by the time we got back from the wedding.

I stored my bouquet in the commercial refrigerator at our wedding venue the night of the wedding, since we didn’t have to check out of the venue until the next day. Then, after we checked out and got home the day after the wedding, I clipped about half of the buds from my bouquet. Of that half, I put some of them in a gladware container of silica gel, and the rest in between pieces of newspaper. Then I placed a very heavy book below and on top of the folded piece of newspaper. The remaining half of the buds I left on the bouquet to air dry naturally.  (My apologies to my readers, but I didn’t photograph the process that day. I was just too exhausted an in a hurry to get started with the preservation stuff).

About eight weeks later, which incidentally, was just about three weeks ago, I decided to check on the flowers in the silica gel and newspaper.









Wedding Flowers as Art

Looks good, right? But really, what do I know. I was ready to get started with a framing project for my wedding flowers, partially inspired by an art display over at Young House Love.

I purchased six of these 19 3/4 x 19 3/4” Ribba frames from Ikea



But, I wanted the matting for my project to have a much smaller opening. So I ordered separate custom-cut mats from Wholesale Matboards with a small 5×5” opening so that the pressed flowers would have a much more dramatic look. The flowers would be mounted on leftover burlap fabric from the wedding.

I put a bead of hot glue all around the back of the custom mats:



Then pressed a small cut of burlap onto the glue



So when I turned the mat over, it looked like this. (Strangely enough, the berber carpet kinda looks like burlap texture too!)



Then it was time to check out how my dried flowers fared. *Spoiler alert: Gerber daisies do not dry well in silica gel.* As you can see, the petals of the gerber daisy just completely fell off when I tried to take it out of the silica gel. But, the craspedia and tea roses looked great. And not to worry about the gerber daisies, I still had other ones that I had dried using the newspaper pressing technique.





First up, using a hot glue gun, I glued one of the tea roses to the new burlap-backed mat: (Don’t mind the little pieces of silica. I brushed all those away)





At some point, without even realizing it, I cut myself, and my finger started bleeding, and I bled right onto the back of the matting. So, take caution kids, DIY flower preservation can be dangerous. Or, perhaps I’m just a klutzy doofus. Yep, that’s blood (just happy it got on the BACK):



And this was the (almost) finished product (I later changed it to have a more “shadowbox” effect. More on that later).



I repeated the process for other elements from my bouquet, including the gerber daisies and  craspedia (pictured below), as well as the autumn leaves, raffia, and berries (not pictured until later). The gerber daisy was looking a bit bald, so I took other petals from another daisy and filled in the bald spots.





The finished products

These are the finished products, from a slight distance, and then very close up. Please forgive the crappy lighting. It’s the downside of living in a middle unit townhome … limited windows. Also, note how the frames now have the “shadowbox” look, instead of how the tea rose was pictured above very close to the glass in the frame.

The raffia

Some raffia was included in my bouquet, so I just cut off the green floral wire “stem” and left the very top part.




The leaf




The tea rose

I used the silica dried tea rose since it retained a nice three dimensional shape, unlike the newspaper-pressed tea rose, which just looks like a bunch of flattened petals.




The craspedia




The gerber daisy

Note how I added a few additional petals to make it look less bald than as it was pictured above.




The berries

These definitely shriveled and aren’t exactly the most gorgeous things in the world, but I still decided to display them as well.




All together now!





Final thoughts

I was so insanely pleased with how these turned out! I’m a bit of a klutz, so I did get blood on the back of the mat with the tea rose, and I probably could’ve been a bit more careful with the hot glue gun, since a small amount of glue is visible on like the berries and raffia, but it’s not even noticeable unless you have your nose pressed up against the glass.

I’m glad I opted for multiple drying techniques, especially since the silica destroyed the gerber daisies, and I didn’t like how the tea roses looked after using the newspaper pressing technique. Although to be fair, the gerber daisies dried using the newspaper pressing technique were also very fragile. The colors definitely changed, especially the color of the gerber daisies and the berries, but I’m okay with that. Just something to be aware of. The berries also shriveled considerably.

Grand total cost for the project? Approximately $149.  The six frames were $19.99 each, and the custom size mats were $4.85 each. I already had the burlap and hot glue. And, this could’ve definitely been done even cheaper if you’re on a tighter budget. For instance, I could’ve used smaller frames which were less expensive, and just used the existing matting.

This DIY saved me a bundle! Those $600-$750 estimates I had received were for just one or two frames MAX, so I could only imagine how much a six-frame preservation project would’ve cost me!

I love that these are now displayed as art in our home as a great reminder of our wedding!

Another great thing is that I still have a bunch of dried flowers left! Now I just need to figure out what to do with those! In the meantime, I think I’m just going to put them in a small jar and then have the jar on display in the house until I think of something else to do with them.


DIY Wedding Day Makeup Lessons Learned

by Melissa on February 2, 2012

I am really pleased with my decision to do my own makeup on my wedding day. As trivial as it sounds, it was a decision I really struggled with for a long time. But after my terrible hair and makeup trial in August, I realized that I would probably be unhappy if I didn’t do my own makeup. 

A few caveats. I consider myself to be knowledgeable about makeup. I’ve taken classes at MAC, subscribe to YouTube makeup tutorials, and own probably about $1000 worth of makeup. I’m comfortable using four shades of eyeshadow in one look and am not afraid to ask artists at the MAC makeup counter for help and tips. So, it’s not like I go barefaced every day and then all of a sudden decided to DIY my wedding-day makeup. As an added caution, I even watched several DIY wedding day makeup tutorials.

wedding day makeupMy biggest concern was having makeup that lasted. For instance, my makeup looks very different at the end of my work day compared to the beginning of my workday. I bought an airbrush makeup set from Dinair, but didn’t like it at all, so I returned it. It made my normally-oily skin feel dry, and the coverage lasted no longer than my regular foundation. I also had a hard time getting a precise color match.  It was nowhere near worth the price tag.

So, I stuck with my tried and true MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation.

While I have no regrets about DIYing my wedding day makeup, here are a few lessons learned I would offer to other brides doing the same.

(Image: Personal Photo, taken getting into the car shortly after doing my whole makeup thang)

DIY Wedding Day Makeup Tips

  • Our engagement photos were actually a perfect testing ground for my wedding-day makeup. I realized that in all of those photos, it looked like I was wearing no blush, even though I was wearing the amount I would on a regular day. So, I knew that for blush to appear in the photos, I should go a bit heavier on my wedding day. So I did, using this technique.
  • Set aside about 10 minutes during your reception to do a detailed touch-up of your makeup. I probably would’ve completely re-did my foundation and blush, but left my eyes alone. In the photos taken late at the reception, my foundation definitely did not look as fresh. But in fact, this may not have been a product of doing my makeup myself. I imagine that if I had had my makeup done professionally, I would also be recommending a detailed touch-up about halfway through the reception. And the benefit of having to do a touch up when you DIY your makeup is that you already know what foundation colors and techniques to use!
  • Give someone, like a bridesmaid or close friend or family member, your lipstick, lipgloss, and a small mirror, and remind have them remind you to freshen your lips up every 30 minutes. Especially if you, like me, have very thin and/or light-colored lips that tend to just disappear when you smile. And again, this would go for any bride, not just one that DIYed their own makeup.
  • While not necessarily makeup related, designate that same friend (or a different one – just as long as it’s someone who is brutally honest) to make sure they tell you when something isn’t right, like when you have food in your teeth, or in my case, my bangs got messed up. There are a few photos where I can tell this stupid section of my bangs is completely out of place. I just want to reach into the picture and brush it out of the way. I wish someone would’ve told me! 



My Wedding Day Makeup!


  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eyeshadow Primer
  • MAC Blanc Type Eyeshadow all over lid
  • MAC Scene Eyeshadow in outer corner of lid
  • MAC Shadowy Lady Eyeshadow in outer corner and crease
  • MAC Vapour all over browbone
  • MAC Kohl Eyeliner in Smolder on upper lash line, and a very light line on outer corner of lower lash line
  • MAC Mascara Prep+Prime
  • MAC False Lashes Mascara
  • Benefit Cosmetics Brow Zing in Medium

Face and Cheeks

  • Mac Studio Fix Fluid Foundation in NW15
  • Ben Nye Crème Color Palette Concealer ?? under eyes and in an inverted V-Shape on cheeks
  • Dermablend Body Cover Concealer for undereyes
  • Make Up For Ever High Definition Powder all over face
  • MAC Minearlize Skinfinish in Light all over face
  • MAC Lilicent Crème as base blush
  • MAC Pink Swoon Brush (I followed this tutorial for blush application)


  • MAC Cremestick Liner in Pink Treat
  • MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Speed Dial
  • MAC Dazzleglass in Steppin Out

The only new items I had to purchase were the MAC False Lashes Mascara and Mascara Prep+Prime (I wanted to make sure I had a high-quality waterproof mascara for that day. Something that typically is not a priority for me), and the brow coloring, since that’s also something I usually don’t trouble myself with during my daily makeup routine.

So, there you have it. I saved myself about $250 by doing my own makeup. So, if you’re comfortable doing your own makeup on a regular basis, I’d highly recommend doing it yourself on your wedding day.

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Last Year on SuperNoVABride

by Melissa on January 31, 2012

Here are some of my favorite posts on SuperNoVABride from January 2011!


(Yet Another) Open Letter to Wedding Vendors

by Melissa on January 31, 2012


It’s been several months since my first open letter to wedding vendors. And I had initially started drafting this post before my wedding, but I just never had a chance to finish it.

So, here goes. From a bride’s perspective, this is what I would like to tell vendors.

Use just one e-mail address when you communicate with me.

This is something that happened to me SIX (6!) times when I was contacting ceremony musicians and makeup artists. Let me walk you through this.

On a hair/makeup artist’s website, I find the e-mail address listed so that I can contact them for additional information. Let’s say it’s I provide details about the wedding in an e-mail, ask them for an estimate, and then click send. E-mail, it’s amazing, right? I contact several vendors in rapid succession using this method.

About an hour later, I get an e-mail from telling me congratulations and she would love to discuss hair and makeup options.  Who the heck is she?  She apparently received my request for makeup services for my wedding day, but I have no idea what company she is from!  Nothing in her signature, nothing to indicate the company she represents.  There was no “reply” traffic for me to track down the answer.  I know Gmail is convenient.  But seriously, use your company e-mail address. 

I’m a bride. But that does not mean I’m an emotional wreck.

I realize that some brides are emotional, fragile beings that need their hand held the entire step of the way. But the fact that vendors work under that assumption from the very beginning irritates me!  Like, when my wedding dress got lost, and the first thing that the dress store tells me is “Don’t worry, don’t panic, weddings are so stressful!”  Fuck that. I wasn’t panicked or stressed. I just wanted to know where the eff my wedding dress was! So, when I ask you specific details about my wedding day,  I do not want to be told “Don’t you worry about that. We’ll see to it that everything will be taken care of on your wedding day.”  I need to know the specific details of how you’re doing that.  I also do not want to be told, “I can get you a great price on that.” I want to know the price you can get me so that I can do some research on my own.  Do not worry about overwhelming me with details. 

Having a good phone pitch and excellent electronic materials is indispensable.  

Early in the wedding planning process, we met with a few wedding vendors in person. We realized almost immediately that this was a complete waste of time. We were taking time out of our weekends to meet with folks that we would’ve realized from a simple phone call that we were not compatible with. From that point forward, we realized that a preliminary phone interview would be our primary interview method. But, for some reason, many vendors push the whole meeting in person thing. They wanted us to "look at their sample albums" or "view their binders of music listings." If you can’t send that to me electronically, that’s a deal breaker. Oh, and by "electronic materials, I do not mean a scanned version of your printed brochure. Vendor fail. 

Picture Source


An absolutely amazing photographer.

I looked long and hard for a great photographer. And we found one. And I am still on an absolute high after receiving our wedding photos about two weeks ago. They are stunning.

An amazing photographer can make even a simple, inexpensive wedding look like a million bucks. Conversely, if you spend all your money on food, decor, a wedding dress, etc., and then skimp on a photographer, your wedding can look cheap, regardless of how much money you spent to make it look amazing.

Our photographer was our biggest wedding expense of $3210 – more than we spent on food, and more than we spent on our venue. And now, we have these incredible photos to last us a lifetime. Much, much longer than any food or decoration!

Something unique and fun

For us, this expense was board games. Yes, we had board games at our wedding. Why? Well, a few reasons. 1) Prior to taking dance lessons, Ken and I never liked to dance. That made weddings, especially ones where we didn’t know many people, very awkward for us when we were guests. We wanted to make sure everyone had fun at our wedding, even if a guest didn’t like to dance or didn’t know anyone else at the wedding! 2) Of the 147 people that RSVPed to our wedding, 33 were kids! We wanted to make sure they had fun at the wedding too! So, we bought about $300 in board games, decks of cards, and poker sets. We also had LED frisbees and small Nerf footballs. (We wanted to rent a moonbounce too, but our venue wouldn’t allow it). As I look through our wedding photos, I practically cry with joy seeing how much fun people were having playing those games. Grownups, kids, teenagers … they were all having a blast playing games. And seriously, how often do you see a teenager having fun at a wedding? This was a great expense, and made the wedding memorable for our guests! 

So, pick something fun and unique and trust me, it will be a worthwhile expense!

A few, high-impact decor pieces.

As brides, we tend to get weighed down with the “details.” And how can we help it. All those shots of “details” on Style Me Pretty and in Martha Stewart Weddings! But … details are damn expensive! So, instead of individually wrapping all your silverware sets with twine, or tracking down the best prices on striped straws to and mason jars for your signature lemonade cocktail, just focus on a few big impact decorations. Perhaps huge pieces of muslin fabric draping your ceiling. Or an amazing lighting scheme. Focus on the big picture items, and the details won’t matter!


What was your most important expense for your wedding?


You’ve Decided your Wedding Venue. Now What?

by Melissa on January 26, 2012

Having a big DIY wedding? Want to make sure that you plan everything the best you can? After you decide on your wedding venue, if you can, go back for a second visit. When you’re there, bring the following items:

1) Pen and Notebook (or better yet, a Smart Pen!)

2) Measuring tape or laser measurer

3) A measuring wheel. Seriously, this was invaluable for us at our campground venue since everything was so spread out.

4) Camera. Take photos of everything. And not just a few quick shots. Take a panorama of photos of the entire venue. Zoom in, and take another panorama. Take a wide angle shot. Take close up shots of the tables and chairs. Shots of the kitchen facilities. Shots of the ceiling. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I referred to the photos of our venue, for any number of reasons. For instance, I sent pictures of the pavilion to tent rental companies when I inquired about having plastic walls installed on the sides. Ken used pictures of the ceilings when he was trying to figure out where he could hang a lighting fixture. I used the pictures of the ceilings to figure out how I could possibly drape fabric between the beams. Even if part of a venue seems inconsequential, TAKE A PICTURE OF IT.

5) Sample decor items to see how they look. For instance, order one or two colors of some tablecloths or runners, or bring some sample centerpieces to get an idea of how they fit with the venue.

Record the following information at the visit

  • Dimensions of the room. When you measure the dimensions, be sure to take note of any nooks or things that might jut out, like a fireplace or emergency exits.
  • Length or diameter of tables (if they’re provided). This will be invaluable when you’re playing with floor plan ideas. We used Microsoft Visio to plan our layouts.


  • Dimensions of dance floor. And don’t fret if it’s too small! I read a few months back that a huge dance floor is not necessarily a good thing. A smaller dance floor will feel more intimate, and plus will encourage folks to dance and interact, because the smaller dance floor will create the illusion of more people dancing.
  • Distance from seating area to nearest restrooms. This might not be a necessity for everyone, but at our venue, the restrooms were actually quite the walk from our reception. Perhaps 200 feet or so. We wanted to be able to communicate this to our older guests before they game.
  • Location of power outlets. This is CRUCIAL. It can completely drive your floor plan. Are you having a slideshow? Well, you need an outlet to plug in your television. Are you having a deejay or an iPod wedding? Either way, you’ll need to know where all that equipment can be located.

What do you think? Am I forgetting anything?


T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

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

Wedding Day: Part 1

My dad and I brought the breakfast plate to my mom. I was surprised she was awake. It was about 8:30AM, and she had just gotten back from the hospital at 5:00AM, when my grandmother was admitted. I gave her the breakfast plate, and reminded my mom that the hair stylist would arrive at the hotel by 9:45.

There was a weird look on my mom’s face. She told me that my grandmother could be released from the hospital at noon because my grandmother was demanding to be released. And since my grandmother was lucid, the hospital could not force her to stay. I knew that everyone, including me, was tired and in no mood for a confrontation, but I nearly flipped the fuck out. My mom said that if my grandmother was being released at noon, that my mom would have to leave around 10AM for the hospital so that she could be there for all the discharge instructions and everything.

I said, "We have been to enough hospitals with enough people to know that getting discharged from the hospital NEVER happens on time. In fact, it can take hours! Which would lead us right up to the start of the wedding ceremony."

I felt badly, because I could tell my mom was really torn about what to do. I said, "Can you just explain to the hospital that today is your daughter’s wedding and see what they can do?" My mom told me that the hospital had asked a couple of time’s about her power of attorney over my grandmother and had asked her for documentation of it. My mom told me my grandmother’s lawyer’s name and asked me if I could find the lawyer’s contact information online. 

I reminded my mom, again, that the hair stylist would arrive at 9:45, which was just over an hour from then. I had no idea whether my mom would be there.  I went back to my room, where my laptop was, to track down the lawyer’s contact information.

Ken called a few minutes after I got back to the hotel room and said he had gotten things set up at the venue and was on his way back to the hotel. I went back down to the buffet and fixed him a plate of food so that he’d have something to eat since the buffet would be closing in just a few minutes. He called me again about 10 minutes later, asking where I was because I wasn’t answering the hotel room door and he had forgotten his key. I told him I was in the lobby at the buffet, and he was surprised, saying he had just been down there. We must’ve passed each other on the elevator! 

Ken came to the buffet in the lobby, where I was, and ate some breakfast. We talked for a few minutes and then he had to leave to go get a shave at a barber right by the hotel (Ken is a terrible shaver, so I made, er asked politely, that he go for professional shaves for both the wedding and our engagement photos six months earlier.)

Right as Ken was about to leave, I saw the hair stylist from a distance getting in the elevator. I yelled out her name, because I knew there would be no answer at our door if she went up to our room.  But she didn’t hear me. So I said goodbye to Ken and went upstairs to meet with the hairstylist, who was about 15 minutes early.

When I got upstairs, she was waiting outside my room, and it looked like she was about to call me on my cell phone. I let her inside the room so that she could set up her gear on the desk area. We rearranged chairs in the hotel room so that the folks getting their hair done would not be sitting in such a high-back chair.

I called my mom to let her know that the hair stylist was there early since my mom was scheduled to go first. My mom has extremely short hair, so I figured she would have less of a concern of her hair like "falling down" or not looking as fresh for the ceremony. But my mom hadn’t even showered yet.  UGH.

Right around that time, Ken’s sister stopped by my room to say hello. She was staying just a few doors down. I was thinking maybe she would be ready to have her hair done first, but when she came in, her hair was soaking wet, and the hair stylist was very clear that wet hair would lead to additional charges. It still wasn’t quite 9:45, the time that the hair stylist was scheduled to start, so I wasn’t all that concerned.

While we were waiting, I filled in the hair stylist about all the drama that happened the night before. I also commented on how glad I was that the room was quiet and that I was able to relax. I stood up and poured myself a glass of white wine from the found wine cube. Box wine in a plastic cup at 9:45 in the morning on this girl’s wedding day? CLASSY!

Ken’s sister came back to the room with her 2-year-old daughter. Her hair was dry and ready for styling. She had a picture of the style that she wanted, and the hair stylist got to work. Her daughter was being good and patient while her mom was getting her hair done, and I found some Elmo games on Sesame Street’s website to keep her occupied.

My mom arrived shortly after Ken’s sister started getting her hair done. I think it worked out well that way. I could tell my mom was warm having just gotten out of the shower, and I think she enjoyed some time to just sit down in my hotel room and relax. Clearly she was there in the room with me and hadn’t left for the hospital to pick up my grandmother, but I still wasn’t sure what was going on with all of that. 

Ken arrived in the room after getting his professional shave. He commented that this barber was pretty good, compared to the barber he went to for the engagement photos. He had previously said that the barber he went to for his engagement photo shave had actually hurt and burned a bit as they were shaving him. I liked seeing his face so cleanly shaven! It almost never happens! He got in the shower.

The hair stylist finished Ken’s sister’s hair and it was my mom’s turn. I asked the stylist how long she thought it would take to do my mom’s hair so that I could let my sister know. The stylist said she would be done with my mom’s hair in about 20 minutes. So I called my sister to let her know that the hair stylist would be ready for her at about 10:45. When I called, her husband answered, and asked him to relay the message to my sister who was in the shower. I heard my sister in the background. 10:45??? It was supposed to be 11:15!!!!  I told him to tell her to just relax and come up when she was ready. I figured since the hair stylist had given me very precise appointment times, I couldn’t be penalized for someone not being ready early. 

So, I just sat on the bed in the hotel room, continued to drink box wine out of a plastic cup, and the hair stylist just took a quick break and ate a granola bar.

Ken was done in the shower and had put on some regular clothes and left for the venue. There was a knock on the door five minutes later. It was Ken. He had forgotten his suit (and his dad’s suit) to change into at the venue!!  Oops!  He departed again, this time with the suits. Right around the time he departed for the venue, my mom got a phone call, although I’m not sure if it was from the hospital or from my grandmother. My grandmother would not be released from the hospital that afternoon. I breathed a long sigh of relief knowing that she would be well taken care of in the hospital and would not be released (again) against medical advice.

My sister arrived and the stylist started her hair. My sister told the stylist that she wanted her hair flat ironed. I continued to sit on the bed and just mess around online, checking twitter and pinterest.  At one point I glanced up, and the stylist was curling my sister’s hair. There was no mirror over by the desk, so my sister couldn’t quite tell what the stylist was doing. I thought to myself, "oh, my sister said she wanted her hair flat ironed, but maybe there’s some special way to flatten hair with a curling iron, just like you can actually curl hair using a flat iron."  But my sister’s hair was looking pretty curly.

So I interrupted.  "You wanted your hair flat ironed, right?" And my sister responded, "yes." Then the stylist looked confused and said she must’ve misunderstood my sister. Do, she started over, this time with a flat iron, not a curling iron.

At this point the stylist was running pretty early, and I was starting to get a bit concerned. The photographer was not scheduled to arrive until noon, but I definitely wanted to make sure that the photographer was able to get some shots of me getting my hair done. My plan was to ask the hair stylist when she was about 20 minutes from being done with my sister’s hair so that I could change into my wedding dress.

Oh right, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that story. When I went for my final dress fitting just two weeks earlier, my dress was a really awkward/tight fit over my head. Since the dress had sleeves, I couldn’t just "step into" the dress. I had e-mailed the stylist and asked her opinion about putting my dress on before having my hair done as long as I put on a long robe over the dress. She replied that that would probably be a good idea if my dress was a tight fit over my head. But, she warned me that since I would be sitting for so long, my dress might get wrinkled. I mulled this over about a week before the wedding and decided that I’d rather have a wrinkled dress than a messed up hair style, especially since I’d have my steamer at the venue for the day-of-coordinator to de-wrinkle the tablecloths anyway. Since it was the same steamer I saw at the tailor’s house, I knew it would be safe on my dress. 

Anyway, the stylist was done with my sister’s hair, but I was determined that I would not have my hair started until my designated appointment time. So I waited until the stylist was completely done with my sister’s hair, and then got dressed. Right around the time that the stylist was done with my sister’s hair, my mom’s cousin stopped by my room. My mom was getting her cousin all caught up on the drama with my grandmother. So once my sister was done, I grabbed my spanx and bra and headed into the bathroom. I put on the spanx and bra and then came out.

It was time to put on my dress! 


The Story of Our Wedding Venue Hunt, Part 1

by Melissa on January 19, 2012

For our wedding, Ken and I rented a campground for three days. For those three days, we paid $1620. The rental rate was $540 per night. It was an amazing wedding venue. But, it took us a long time to find it.

We had to kiss a lot of frog venues before we found our Prince Charming venue. 

It occurs to me that I never told the story of our wedding venue here on the blog.

There were a couple of reasons for not talking about it. 1) Sometimes I can be overly paranoid about privacy; 2) I didn’t want to talk about venues and dates that I was loving and have another bride find my post, and think, “Hey, that’s a great venue and date!” and then manage to book the venue before I did. Weird, yes, I know. 3) The venue we ultimate chose had some unusual application timeframes, so once we applied to our venue, we had to wait nearly three months before we found out if we actually got the venue. I’ll explain all of that in the next few posts about how we found our venue. And 4) I didn’t want to blacklist myself from finding a venue or caterer by blogging about every asshole I encountered. So, let’s get started.

We first started wedding venue hunting in the DC area in early November 2010. Very early readers of SuperNoVABride may even recall the overview I provided of the venues we visited during those first two weekends of our search. After visiting several venues, it was a toss up between two different DC area venues:

The Pavilions at Turkey Run and Glen Echo Park.

The Pavilions at Turkey Run

The Pavilions at Turkey Run Park was not a traditional wedding venue per se. I had been contacting venues for weeks, but they were all either too expensive, or just to … blah. So I tried to “Think outside the box.” I used different types of search terms to help me find a venue. But then I recalled a lovely picnic area at Turkey Run Park in the Northern Virginia area where the company that I formerly worked for held their annual picnic. 

I contacted them to see if they allowed weddings. They said that they did, and they actually sent me some photographs from a wedding that had just been hosted there. It looked beautiful! To make matters even better, their food was “reasonably” priced, at just $30 per person, and you got a significant amount of food for that money. And it was normal, picnic-style food, just like Ken and I wanted. As an added bonus, they had an entire catalog of activities that could be selected, including a moon bounce rental, and a rock climbing wall. I was pretty much in love with that venue.  But, we still wanted to shop around.

Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park is a popular wedding venue in the DC area, and it was, relatively speaking, very reasonably priced and within our budget.

On our second weekend of venue hunting, we went to Glen Echo Park, a venue I had been secretly eyeing up even before I got engaged. Ken and I immediately fell in love with the Bumper Car Pavilion at Glen Echo Park. And the entire park itself was just so unique. We could have the ceremony in one part of the Park (we liked the Cuddle Up Pavilion) and then the reception in the Bumper Car Pavilion. Best of all, the venue was reasonably priced compared to other venues we had found. 

Glen Echo Park has a limited selection of preferred caterers that you can choose from. Some of the caterers had pricing listed right on their website, and I could rule out right away as too expensive. One of the caterers, Matters of Taste, seemed like they would be more reasonably priced, so I e-mailed them for an estimate.

Although I had to follow up with them a few times to get a response to my estimate request, I was impressed when I finally talked to them on the phone. The woman was really nice at first. She apologized about our estimate being delayed, saying she was slammed with holiday party catering estimates. After speaking with them, she quickly turned around an estimate for food, and it actually seemed like it was going to be in our budget! 

However, the estimate left out a few things. Specifically, bar service, alcohol, and table and chair rentals.  I followed up with her by phone. (There were a few issues experienced in between, like bounced back e-mails). She said she would update the estimate and get it sent back to me. However, she told me that I should go ahead and take advantage of Glen Echo Park’s two week, no deposit hold they have available. The caterer warned me that “engagement season” would be kicking off (this was the week before Thanksgiving), and that I might have difficulty booking a date if I waited much longer.

Taking the caterer’s advice, Ken and I placed the two week hold on the venue.

There was just one problem. Matters of Taste never called me back or responded to my e-mails with the updated estimate. I contacted Glen Echo Park for advice. They just said that was very unusual for that caterer.

FINALLY, in early December, two days before our no-hold deposit was going to run out, someone answered the phone at Matters of Taste. I asked to speak to the person I had been trying to contact. In a curt voice, the woman on the phone said, “It’s the holiday season and it’s SNOWING out.” I was completely taken aback. After all, I was simply waiting for a few additions to the estimate. I had already been provided with the estimate for the food!  And what the fuck did snow have to do with anything?

I said, “I have been waiting for a return phone call or e-mail for TWO WEEKS. Now, either have her call me back, or you’ll just be missing out on a sale.  Plus, you all have been giving me this “holiday season” excuse for more than a month now!” The woman told me she’d have my point-of-contact call me back that afternoon. I never received a call back.

I was really pissed.

So, Ken and I contacted Capital Q BBQ, another one of Glen Echo Park’s preferred caterers. The prices on Capital Q’s website seemed very reasonable, so I e-mailed them with the details and asked for an estimate. I still had not received a response by the end of the day, and I was getting panicked because our two week hold would expire in two days. I followed up with Capital Q by phone, and they said they would e-mail me an estimate. You might remember what ensued after that, but the short story is that their estimate to me was about five times what was listed on their website. When I asked them why their estimate differed so much from the prices on their website, the man said, “Well, that’s for corporate catering, not for a wedding at Glen Echo Park!” The tone in his voice conveyed a huffy “You silly woman, how could you think we would charge such a low amount for a WEDDING!”

I hung up on him.

I was furious.

I talked to Ken. I said that maybe we should just put the deposit down on Glen Echo Park and hopefully we would hear from Matters of Taste soon. The most we would lose from the deposit was like $250 I think. So if Matters of Taste was in fact too expensive, we could just break the contract and lose the $250.

But then I realized what was likely happening. The caterer was just playing games with us. They were probably assuming  that we loved the venue so much that we’d put the deposit down without having a firm catering estimate, and then they’d be able to charge us whatever they wanted. 

I wasn’t going to play that game. I contacted Glen Echo Park and told them they should not expect our deposit. I told them the entire story, and included a link to a review I had written about Matters of Taste on Yelp documenting the whole saga.

Glen Echo Park was really nice and apologized and said they would contact the caterer for me, but I had had enough. I was not going to deal with it.

So, we would not be getting married at Glen Echo Park. More than two months after our engagement, and we were still venue-less.

I was so sad. Sad about how I was treated, about how everything had to be some huge ripoff just because I was getting married. I had spent the last several weeks envisioning our wedding there, and now, it wouldn’t be happening.

It was time to start over from scratch.  

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Wedding Day Recap, Part 1

by Melissa on January 18, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

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

I’m not sure where November 10 ends and November 11 starts. Sure, there is the 24 hour clock. But there’s also your circadian rhythm of sleep and awake that defines your day. Because we had not gone to sleep yet, I consider all the craziness with my grandmother to have taken place “the night before” the wedding, even though it was nearly 1:30AM when she was finally transported to the hospital.

Ken and I went back to our hotel room after my grandmother left for the hospital, and I was frazzled and wide awake. A big difference from just an hour earlier when I could barely keep my eyes open. We turned out the lights and tried to fall asleep. I could tell that Ken fell asleep after a while, maybe close to a half hour, by the way his breathing changed. But I just tossed and turned. And tossed and turned. My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest and my stomach just churned with jitters. I knew I had packed a small wine cube box to take to the hotel so that I could have a few drinks if I needed to relax, but I had no idea where it was and I didn’t want to wake up Ken as I looked for it.

There were a lot of things running through my head that I realized I forgot to do that day, like:

  • Move one of Ken’s friends to a different table on the seating chart
  • Post our Virginia liquor licenses
  • Ask how long I should hold my bouquet during the ceremony
  • Who was going to escort Ken’s grandmother down the aisle (remember, since we didn’t have a bridal party, we had no formal ushers or anything).
  • I had put all of our board games in a box to be taken out to the pavilion, but I wanted a few left behind in the Mess Hall.
  • Where was Ken going to go for his shave

But, I didn’t want to get out of bed to get my little notebook and write them down for fear of waking Ken. So instead all of the last minute to-do’s bounced around in my head uncontrollably. If you’ve ever read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, he stresses how important it is to clear mental clutter and to just record your to-do’s just to get them out of your brain and into a central repository on paper.

Ugh, and I could really use a glass of wine.

At some point, I fell asleep for about 90 minutes or so. When I woke up at 4AM, Ken was awake too.  We started to talk about all the things running through our heads. We both had a very productive cry. It wasn’t a sad cry or anything like that. It was a “holy shit, we have been working so hard for this the last 13 months and it is finally here and I hope nothing goes wrong but if it does we just need to accept it and I wish we could get more sleep but we’re really just too excited and jittery” type of cry.

I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and my eyes were all red and bloodshot and there were heavy dark circles under my eyes. Glorious. Absolutely glorious. I hope I brought enough concealer. But I wish I had brought eyedrops too.

Ken said that he would leave for the venue in a few minutes so that he could get a few last minute things set up, like our DIY deejay equipment in the pavilion (he hadn’t wanted to set up the outdoor equipment ahead of time), his lighting kits, and make sure that the DIY photobooth was ready to go. All stuff only he knew how to do and therefore could not be left up to our day-of-coordinator. He was originally going to leave around 6:30 for the venue, but since it was about 4:30AM by now and we were both wide awake, we decided we would both feel better to just start getting it done. I mentioned the box of wine and that I couldn’t remember where I packed it. Ken said he remembered seeing it when he unloaded the car the previous night but left it in the car because he thought it had gotten thrown into the car by accident.

I wondered how my grandmother was doing, but didn’t want to wake anyone with a phone call. So, I figured a text would be safe. Quiet enough not to wake anyone, but loud enough to hear if they were, in fact, still awake. According to my text message history, I texted my sister at 4:56AM to see how my grandmother was doing. She replied that doctors admitted her to the hospital and that she and my mom were on their way back to the hotel.

Ken laid (lay? lain?) in bed for a few minutes longer and I got up, opened my laptop, and pounded out this blog post. I felt a million times lighter after writing that. It just felt so wonderful to get all those thoughts and feelings organized and on paper (er, computer) and to freeze that moment and emotion forever. I can’t remember if Ken left while I was still writing it or after I was finally done writing the post. But after I was done writing and after he left, I got in the shower.

Lesson Learned: When nerves start to take over and you’re feeling nervous, never, ever underestimate the power of a great hot shower. I must’ve stayed in that shower for 30 minutes.

I got out of the shower and started to get things organized in the hotel room. Since I hadn’t gotten to the hotel room until so late, contrary to my original plan, things were still in suitcases and boxes.

I unpacked all my makeup (including my makeup mirror that I brought from home, as well as a small fan to use in case I started sweating while doing my makeup) and put it neatly on the desk in the hotel room. I unpacked all my nail polish supplies and got together all the clothes I would need to get ready, like my spanx and bra. I packed a “backup” bag of stuff, including an extra bra (one time right before an important work presentation my bra strap broke. I have never forgotten that and I now always have an extra one on hand on important days), different accessories in case I wanted to switch around necklaces or whatever, and I compiled everything I would need into my little clutch, like my driver’s license, health insurance card, extra lipstick and lipgloss, and some tissues.

Then I called down to the front desk to see if they could send up someone to make my bed. I didn’t want a messy, unmade bed in all of my “getting ready” photos after the photographer arrived. They said they couldn’t do that outside of normal housekeeping hours, so I just made it myself.

Once I was finally done gathering stuff and rooting around in bags and boxes, I figured it was a safe time to paint my nails, something I had wanted to do the previous night. I gathered all my manicure supplies and painted my nails, albeit with a shaky hand from the jitters. Luckily I still managed a clean manicure!

While my nails dried, I cranked up the heat and laid down in bed. By that time, it was around 8:00AM and I still had 1 hour and 45 minutes until the hair stylist arrived. I thought maybe I could get in a good nap. But instead, fearing that I would faint during the wedding if I didn’t eat anything, I decided to go to the lobby for some breakfast before the restaurant closed at 9AM. I brought my car keys with me so that I could grab the box of wine out of my car after breakfast.  I didn’t want to call anyone to join me for breakfast, like my mom or sister, because I assumed they’d still be sleeping after such a late night at the hospital. So I went to the lobby by myself and made myself a plate of the least greasy food I could find at the buffet. The winner? Home fries, fruit, and a big glass of water.

I wasn’t hungry at all, but I forced down every bite. I knew that I had to. I knew that no matter how NOT hungry you feel, you still need to eat when you’re nervous. I ran into some family friends at the buffet. I think they may have felt bad for me. I was makeup-less, wearing slouchy lounge pants and an oversized t-shirt. And I was by myself. On my wedding day. Apparently they had already heard about my grandmother’s first trip to the hospital, but not the second. I gave them a quick recap of what had happened the night before.

When they saw me sit by myself, they asked me I wanted to join them. I told them no, that I just needed to eat quickly, and that I hadn’t wanted to wake anyone to join me for breakfast because I was hoping everyone was still getting some sleep.

While I was eating my breakfast, my dad came down to breakfast, and then Ken’s sister and 2-year old niece, and my dad’s cousin joined after a while too. My dad asked me to make a plate of food for my mom so that he could bring it up to her (he doesn’t move around too well anymore). So I made her a plate with some food and we tracked down a small cup with a lid to put some pancake syrup in. 

I had a few more bites of food and then my dad and I left to take the plate of food up to their room, which was a different room than the one they were in last night. Luckily the hotel was able to give them a different room considering the odor in their original room after my grandmother’s accident.  My mom was awake and was going to tell me about the trip to the hospital with my grandmother.