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I have the weirdest dreams ever.  No really, I do.  L’s standard response after I detail to him my strange, twisted, and ridiculous dreams is “you need professional help.”  The stories often start similarly:
So we were at our house, but it wasn’t really our house.  or  I was in college, but it wasn’t [the college I went to] etc., etc., etc.
 
Now, I know I’m not the only one who has dreams like that.  But mine are always so long and involved.  And a lot of times, scary.  I often wake up and my heart is racing or I’m sweating and clutching the blankets.  It takes me quite a while to kind of calm down and realize that whatever it was that I was just dreaming, is not real.  If L is home, I usually try to wake him up and get as close as possible.  Unfortunately, for someone who is used to getting woken up in the middle of the night, when he’s home, he’s not so easy to wake up.
 
In highschool, the teacher that taught my junior year psychology class told us that dreams are how your brain “dumps” information it doesn’t need anymore.  So all those random factoids you pick up or things you see on TV, they get purged through some sort of dream.  Definitely seems to make sense in my life.  As these crazy dreams are something I’ve had my whole life, my mom often says that my mind is full of random crap that just spins round and round and round and every now and then, it spits something out and that’s what I dream about.  I think she’s right.
 
It gets tiring though.  I go through phases where I will have a (or many) whacked out dreams every night for weeks.  And then for weeks I won’t have any (well, I’m sure that I do, I just don’t remember them).  I specifically remember a time when I was at my last job and I kept having these stupid dreams and would wake up in the middle of the night and not want to go back to sleep.  I was so tired, but I felt like my brain was too “busy” when I slept.
 
The other night, I had a kind of dream that I only recall having one other time.  I woke up and I was mad at L.  SO. MAD.  I was mad because in my dream he did something that made me very mad.  And when I woke up, it took me awhile to not be mad at him.  I kept telling myself that it wasn’t true and never happened, but I was still mad.  Have you ever had a dream like that?
 
The first time was probably a couple years ago when I dreamed he had cancelled plans with me bc his best friend’s girlfriend (who is now his best friend’s fiance’) was coming into town and he wanted to go out with her instead.  (that’s the short version.  Trust me, when I told the entire dream to L, it probably took me a good 10 minutes – no joke).
 
This time I had a dream that L and I were laying in bed, each smoking a joint.  It supposedly was the first time for us and I asked him how long it was going to take before I felt high.  He said he didn’t know.  Then through a conversation about the pot, he admitted that this was not the first time that he had done it and that he had done it several times – and many were when we were “together”.  I got so angry at him.  So, so angry.  1. He had lied to me bc he always told me that he had never done that before, 2. because he had done it when we were “together” and didn’t tell me and bc he felt he needed to to make it better and 3. Why the hell would he risk his job by doing that?  He can be drug tested randomly any day.  Is he stupid?!?!  I got out of bed (in my dream) and laid on the floor to go to sleep.  He started poking me telling me it wasn’t a big deal and I should just get over it.  I went on and on about how I couldn’t trust him bc he was a liar and what was I supposed to do because we were already married, etc., etc., etc.
 
I woke up and was slid halfway down the bed, not using any pillows (typical).  I looked to my right and L was laying there, sleeping.  Heat grew in my face bc I was so mad at him for lying to me.  I looked to my left and there is Shep, laying next to me like another person (those dogs are so spoiled).  I tried to get over my anger and crawled up closer to L telling him that I just had a dream that he was smoking pot and I was mad at him.  He mumbled something I couldn’t make out, said he loved me and rolled over.
 
I fell back asleep for a couple hours before my alarm went off and when I got up, I was still a little mad.  It wore off before I left the house.  I guess because it finally sunk in that it was a dream and it wasn’t real.  I told him about the dream later that day and he said he remembered me saying something about pot and then promised me that he has never done it and never will – he’d really like to keep that job of his.
 
What’s even weirder about all of this?  As I’m telling him about the dream again, he says, “Oh yeah, did I tell you I got popped for a test at the vollies yesterday?”  The volunteer FD in our town that we’re both members of randomly selects a group of people each quarter to be drug tested and L’s name popped up this time – but he never mentioned it.  Maybe I’m a prophet! haha.
 
Am I the only one that experiences the wake-up angry dreams?  Or are there others out there (God, I hope so!).

During some down time at work yesterday, I created a schedule for the evening for myself. You see, I work an hour away from home and I’m the kind of person that needs sleep so I like to be in bed by 10 or 10:30, which leaves little time to get a lot of things done when I get home.

The plan was to go home, feed the puppies, go for a run (starting at just 1 mile since it’s been awhile), have dinner, prepare some of tonight’s dinner so there is less to do, finish writing thank you cards for the wedding (hey, ettiquette says we have a year!), clip my coupons from Sunday’s paper, take a shower, research some recipes for my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker and then hopefully get to just “sit” for a little while before bed.

It all got done except for the thank you cards – maybe I’ll tackle those Saturday afternoon. My run though? My run was awful.

I mentioned that I had cut my foot pretty badly back in August. The experience was less than pleasant and as I was holding L’s hand, crying while the doctor phsychian’s assistant stitched it up, L mentioned that it might be a good idea to start saving our money – “I hear adoption is expensive.” Hey, I’ve always told him I was a baby. And I’ve never had anything like that done before.

Anyway, the hospital I went to doesn’t have the best reputation, but I was just going for some stitches, not because I had a stroke or something. It’s not a bad hospital – there are just better ones around. But it was the closest one and when this all happened, L was three hours away and one of our friends (also an EMT – it pays to know all these people) was the one who came over, wrapped my foot up and took me to the hospital until L got there (yes, L got to the hospital from 3 hours away before they even began my stitches – and we had gone as soon as I cut my foot).

As L was watching them stitch up my foot (I obviously had my eyes closed and would have passed out if I had not been lying down) he wasn’t too impressed with the work. He thought one of them was kind of loose and he also thought I should have had 1-2 more – and maybe 1-2 internal stitches because it was so deep. But the PA thought it was fine and I was bandaged up and set on my way to limp out of the ER.

Truth be told, I probably walked on it much more than I should have in the days following. I couldn’t help it – I had things to do – our wedding was in three weeks! Because it was on the inside of my left foot, kind of on my arch, I walked on the outside of my foot. It took much longer to heal than I had thought it would or than the PA said (perhaps bc I wasn’t too good at staying off of it). L had to clean it for me (I almost passed out twice in the process) and when I went to the Minute Clinic at CVS to have them removed ($70 to remove stitches with no insurance!), I almost passed out there too. I was still afraid it was going to pop back open, so I continued to walk on the side of my foot.

Fast forward to the last couple weeks. I initially started running again at the beginning of December. I was determined to train in time to run a half at the end of February. The first day was awful, as I knew it would be since it had been about 7 months since I really ran. By the time I got to day 3, the outside of my left ankle was beginning to hurt. Something I had never experienced before. It was then that I realized I was running on the outside of my left foot. Apparently I have been doing this all along, just not as severly as when I hurt my foot. I looked at a pair of flats I wear to work all the time, and I can see where the side has been rubbing against the ground.

Damn. There goes the half. This was going to take work to start running in correct form again.

So last night I went out and did just that. It was the first time I ran since day 3 at the beginning of December. I made sure to really focus on running correctly on my left foot. And unlike the last times I had run, I felt good. I made it to a half a mile in just over 5 minutes (that’s good for me). But I noticed that my foot was starting to hurt. And it hurt more and more with every step. Not my ankle like last time, but my foot where the scar is.

I didn’t even make it to 3/4 of a mile before I had to stop. It was awful. And even as I walked the rest of the way to the car, it hurt so much it made me want to cry. Although, part of the tears were partly due to frustration as well.

I’m hoping that it’s just because I have been favoring the outside of my foot so much and that I just need to build the strength (and tolerance) back up for the inside part. I have been trying to be more mindful of how I walk in general and notice how easily my foot rolls to the side. This all seems to explain why my foot gets so sore when I wear heals now (which is very infrequently – bc of the soreness) – it’s because I can’t as easily roll my foot in those as I can in flats or sandals. That’s my diagnosis anyway.

My goal for tonight was to run 1.5 miles, but I’m just going to do as much as I can. I don’t want to overdo it, but I have to keep going.

2011 Goal #1 is to lose weight and become more fit.  And really, to try an maintain it for more than a year.  I did not begin on January 1 though – I felt like that would be asking for failure.  The pressure, you know.  Instead, I spent the day sleeping until 1pm (went to bed on the floor at our friend’s house at 3am, got up at 6 with L so he could go to work and I could go let the dogs out, went back to bed at 7:30 and slept till 1), which I hadn’t done in, well, I can’t even remember.  I vegged on the couch recovering from the night before – more due to exhaustion than a hangover.  (I remembered to take my multi-vitamin before bed which is the hangover cure.  Seriously wish I knew about that in college.)  Rather than joining the rest of the south in eating greens and black eye peas for good luck in the new year, I ate my most favorite meal one last time to get it out of my system – mac & cheese with hot dogs mixed in.  Yup, I’m a 6 year old at heart.
 
Yesterday was not the beginning of the goal either.  L and I spent the day running some errands and window shopping and eating our last bad-for-you meals together.  We did come up with a menu for dinners this week and went grocery shopping to get everything we needed (Goal #6 – cook more meals at home).  While we were out, I also picked up two newspapers so I could start clipping my coupons (Goal #5).
 
Our house is for sale (yay! now someone please buy it. soon. for what we’re asking. at least close to it.) and we were lucky enough to have two showings in the past week.  But we had to do a major clean up in a short amount of time before the last one and we were both scrambling.  We knew we had to get the house back in show order this weekend to avoid that in the future.  So once we got home from our day-long outing, that’s what we did.  Cleaned out the fridge and cabinets while putting away groceries and then cleaned the rest of the house, put away laundry, etc.  It is spic and span now. 
 
In the process, we took the time to weigh ourselves for our official starting weight.  Normally we would do this in the morning and not at the end of the day after a big meal.  But by doing it then, we felt like it gave us a head start bc obviously there would be some change between last night and this morning already.  No, it’s not cheating.  And, oh holy hell, I almost died when I saw that number on the scale.  I even stepped off and stepped back on to make sure.  You know how I told you I’ve seen numbers I’ve never seen before?  Yeah, take that and add about 7lbs!  What the hell have I been doing?!  Once that was done, we took some before pictures.  I was going to post them even though I knew they would be bad and embarrasing, but then I saw them and decided there was no way in hell I was doing that.  Did I mention we did them in bathing suits?  Yeah, about that.  Not pretty.  Maybe when I met my goal and I feel better about myself, I’ll post them in conjunction with the after pictures.  Maybe.
 
We didn’t go to bed until at least 12:30.  No good.  Which made getting up this morning difficult.  But I prepared what I hope is a halfway healthy lunch (or at least not as bad for me as what it could be) and headed to work after 11 days off.  Tonight, I’ll go home and get a run in too.  If I wasn’t motivated to succeed at this goal before, I sure am now after seeing those pictures!

Last night I got to do something for the very first time – I got to kiss my husband at midnight as we rang in the new year together.  The beginning of the first full calendar year as a married couple.  And how wonderful it was.  I think it’s fitting that L is the only “real” person I’ve kissed at midnight.  That sounds weird, doesn’t it?  I’m sure there were random people I kissed at midnight – perhaps – but I don’t really remember a lot of those nights.  L is the only one that I kissed that I wanted to kiss.  That I looked forward to kissing.  That ringing in a new year with a kiss with him meant something.  And now he will be the only one I kiss.  Until there are little humans around our home one day and we kiss them, too.

We celebrated with some of my best friends, something we hadn’t done the last two years as we had hung out with a different group of friends.  It was a low key night at a friend’s house, but so fun.  Lots of food, beer, champagne and laughing.  We had lots to celebrate – the first of my close knit friends is expecting twins in July; mine and L’s marriage along with another good friend’s marriage; and E’s engagement – yup, she’s getting married in May.

We’ve come a long way from the days of going out downtown and staying at a hotel.  Nobody got “lost” this year, no one walked 15 minutes from the bar to the hotel barefoot and almost through shattered glass, no one brought any random guys back.  We’ve definitely grown up.  There were babies at the party! (sort of)  There were wedding rings on!  There was talk of buying new cars and new homes and when they planned on “trying”.  It’s amazing to see how we’ve grown.  And how we’ve grown together.  Adding in new members to our circle (husbands and fiances).  It was a wonderful night.

I never make very original resolutions.  Mine are usually the cliche lose weight, get in shape, etc., etc., etc.  This year I’m making goals.  Maybe changing the term will take a little pressure off.  Some are cliche, some aren’t.

1. Lose weight (cliche) 
Last year I had done so well dropping the pounds between January and March for the Cooper River Bride Run.  I lost about 20lbs, but it easily inched back on.  And at our wedding, I wasn’t quite as hefty as I was at the turn of the new year, but I wasn’t as skinny as I wanted to be either.  And since then, I’ve definitely packed them on.  Dear Lord, I have seen numbers on that scale that I have never, EVER seen before.  And I would like to stop seeing them.  The goal is to lose 25lbs by E’s wedding in the middle of May.  When I ring in 2012, I would like to be back at the weight I was when I first did Weight Watchers out of college – that means I have to lose 50lbs.  I hope I can acheive that before next new year’s, but I’m keeping my goals realistic.

2. Improve my time for the CRBR
Last year I ran the race in 1:06:30.  Not too shabby considering I ran a mile for the very first time only 6 months prior.  This year, my goal is two part.  I want to at least run it in 1:03:30 – shave off three minutes.  My ultimate goal, which is a lofty one I know, is to finish in 59:59.  I just want to say I was able to do it in under an hour.  That’s a lot to shave off in three months though – especially since I have to work on my form because I’m running funny on the foot that I cut over the summer.

3. Run a half-marathon
I was hoping to be able to run one this year, but wedding planning kind of got in the way.  I want to be able to run one next fall.  There are some in the late spring that I could try for, but I want to make sure I’m really ready.  L is going to do it with me and we’re going to chose one in a destination so we get a mini-vaca out of it too.  I’m pretty sure I can talk E and LM into it as well.  There are races in Savannah, the Outerbanks and Kiawah Island in October/November that I’m considering.

4. Take better care of my skin
I usually take a shower at night, but when I don’t, I need to be more diligent about taking off my make-up.  Using a better moisturizer and maybe some anti-aging stuff (nothing hardcore).  I hear all those grocery store products actually work, but you should start before the problems actually begin.  I was going to do this around my 26th bday, but never got my act together.

5. Start Couponing
Several of my friends are those crazy couponers that get $100 worth of groceries but only pay $15.  They’ve begun to teach me their ways and now I just need to actually start trying it.

6. Cook more meals
L grew up eating out a lot, so our habit of hardly ever eating at home is nothing out of the ordinary for him.  For awhile, we did good coming up with menus and eating at home all the time.  We need to get back into this, both to save money and to eat better too.  This will hopefully go hand in hand with the couponing.  I hope that we can cut back to eating out only once or twice a week.

7. Do something about grad school
I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school for quite some time.  For awhile it was for a career change, but now that I know there is a job out there that I like in my field, I want to proceed with getting my master’s.  My alma mater has a pretty good program, but because of my grades from undergrad, it will be difficult for me to get in.  It’s amazing how making a few mistakes your freshman year can affect you for so long.  I think I’ve got a shot, but we’ll see.  I want to at least look into it more, make sure we can afford it, perhaps apply.

8. Walk the puppies more
We FINALLY finished fencing in our backyard so the puppies get to run around a lot and they love it.  But I would still like to walk them more.  It’s hard because they don’t walk very well on a leash, and I think that’s what deters me from it, but they’re never going to learn if we don’t try.

9. Remain dedicated to my husband
L’s schedule can be trying sometimes.  It’s hard for me when he’s away at work and always busy.  I know there are people out there who have it way worse than me – all the military families serving our country – but it’s still hard.  I want us to continue to work to make our relationship and marriage the best it can be.  Because marriage is work, and we’ve got a great one. 

10. Begin researching our family tree
I had to do this once in elementary school and I’m always fascinated by history.  When at the beach for a friend’s bachelorette party this past spring, some of the other girls were talking about how they are very into their geneology and all the different things they have discovered while researching.  I was intrigued.  While watching TV the other day, I saw several commercials for ancestry.com and decided to check it out.  I tried their free trial.  I brought the idea up to L about working on his too and compiling them now that we’re married.  He liked it.  Although a website like ancestry.com isn’t necessary, it definitely  helps.  It’s rather expensive, especially to get the global version which I need more than L since my grandparents came through Ellis Island.  This will obviously a long-term project, but the goal is to get it started.

2010, you have been one hell of a year.  One that I will never, ever forget.  L and I will always celebrate you.  But 2011, watch out, I’m coming at you!

I want to get back in to blogging.  And when I read Jess’ post, I thought this would be a good way to get back in the flow.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Got Married!  Travelled out of the country with L.  Got a job that I like (so far), ran a 10k

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I’m not sure if I made any actual resolutions.  I know I wanted to lose weight for the wedding – and L and I did pretty good.  In conjunction with training for the Cooper River Bridge Run, I lost about 20lb from January – April.  I wanted to keep losing, but I just got off track and busy wedding planning and lazy and ended up gaining it all back.  I wasn’t nearly as skinny or in shape as I wanted to be for the wedding, but in the end, I’m still happy with the way I looked.  I also had the goal of running the entire CRBR and I did it!
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not anyone super close, but a couple of friends and aquaintances had babies.  And now one of my very good friends is pregnant with twins!  She is the first of my close friends to get pregnant.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My grandmother passed away in April.  To be quite honest, it was kind of time.  She wasn’t in pain, but she wasn’t really aware of her surroundings at all and hasn’t been able to speak for quite some time.  She basically just laid in bed in a nursing home.  She didn’t even always know when people were there visiting her.

5. What countries did you visit?
Cabo, Mexico for LM’s 30th bday and L and I went on an absolutely AMAZING honeymoon to St. Lucia

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
A more stable bank account (having a job and not relying on unemployment should help) and a new house.  L and I have our sites on one and ours is currently for sale.  So fingers crossed it all works out.
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 5!  The day I married my very best friend!!!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Becoming a wife – officially becoming a family. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
This is a tough one… I’m not sure I would categorize it as a failure, but I need to work on my approach to some things and realizing I can’t always get my way.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Ugh, I dropped a huge glass vase that we used for the centerpiece on our head table at the wedding while I was cleaining it.  It shattered and cut a deep 3″ gash in my foot 3 weeks before the wedding.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have inusrance at the time (Cobra was just getting too expensive and when I stopped paying it, I only had a month till I was covered under L’s and didn’t think it was a big deal) so the 6 stitches I got ended up costing us about $2000!  The dr. told me I would be fine by the wedding and I was for the most part, but my foot was still very swollen and I could only wear my pretty pink shoes for the ceremony.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Hmm… not that it was one thing that we bought – but our wedding was definitely a major expense, but so worth it.  We ended up firing our band 2 weeks before the big day and hired a new one – in the process we lost about $500, but it was one of the best decisions we made.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Although we had disagreements at times, L did a pretty good job working at his full-time job, part-time job and helping to plan the wedding.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Some of my family who didn’t come to our wedding for selfish reasons.  And well, I’ll say it, L’s mom.  She did quite a few things that we specifically asked her not to do and some of it really hurt my feelings.  IE – we told her one thing she could help us decorate for the wedding.  She did it and it looked very nice.  She then took it upon herself to decorate our guest book table with a collage of photos.  It would have been nice if I were in the pictures.  Instead there were more than 15 pictures on the table and I was in 1.  Yup.  Why would you do something like that?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Our wedding.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Hmmm, I’m not sure.  😉 😉 😉  OUR WEDDING obviously!

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
“You are the best thing” by Ray LaMontagne – it was our first dance — or “Tonight’s gonna be a good night” (or whatever the actual name of that song is) by the Black Eye Peas
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?
a) Definitely Happier
b) After some yo-yoing – about the same or a few pounds heavier 😦
c) I wouldn’t say we’re “richer” but we’re definitely better off now that I have a full-time job again.  We still have some big expenses (paying off that hospital bill and repaying some money to savings that we borrowed), but it’s not quite as bad as it was last year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Blogging, time management when it comes to wedding stuff – my plans of doing nothing the week before the wedding failed big time and there was some important stuff that didn’t get done as thoroughly as I had hoped.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastinating.  Worrying about little things.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
L and I got to not only spend our first married Christmas together, but we got to spend our first Christmas ever together.  As luck would have it, he got all the holidays off this year (just the way the schedule fell).  We drove up to CT on Dec. 23 and spent Christmas with my family until Dec. 28.  It was so wonderful.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
I fall in love with that boy over and over again every day of my life.  We both have our faults and some things we need to work on, but I don’t think there is anyone out there more perfect for me.  Seriously.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Hmm… I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls reruns 🙂  But I guess Army Wives, Law & Order SVU, Grey’s Anatamy and Parenthood would top my list

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Our wedding photographer.  Full report coming on that soon. 

24. What was the best book you read?
I didn’t read too many books, but I did finally read Shopaholic and Baby when I realized that I never had when Mini Shopaholic came out. 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Cee Lo Green. There, I said it. And yes, this is on the basis of his one profane song that I LOVE SO VERY MUCH. — I have to agree with Jess on this one.  I love that song!

26. What did you want and get?
I wanted to have a perfect wedding day with my best friend – and I did!  There were some minor things that went wrong and if I could go back and do it all over again, I would never hire our photographer – but everything else was so, so perfect!

27. What did you want and not get?
I was hoping to have sold our house already, but if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be so we’ll see where it goes from here.  Just send happy house selling thoughts our way.  Our goal is to sell it by February to make some other things work out – we know that’s a pretty ambitious goal!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t really remember seeing many movies this year…

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 27 years old.  L and I went to a training group run for the CRBR in the morning, then he took me to a lovely Italian dinner and we met friends out for drinks that night – it was a lot of fun!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Marrying L made it pretty freakin’ perfect.  Selling the house would have been great though.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I favored big white dresses 😉  Umm, casual and comfortable, like usual.  This year stuck out because there was a lack of “business casual” in my life.

32. What kept you sane?
L and our puppies

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I have no idea

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The whole debacle with unemployment.

35. Who did you miss?
I miss living closer to my mom.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I think becoming closer to some of my friends is the equivalent to this.  Also, though I probably won’t work with them again, the band we ended up hiring was fabulous to work with and were incredible and helping us get everything together in such a short amount of time.  It made up for the previous band we had hired and their poor customer service.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Things will work out the way they need to work out.  Don’t depend on other people’s research for something that is important to you.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I’ll take a few lines from our first dance…
“Baby, we’ve come a long way, baby/You know, I hope and I pray, that you believe me/When I say this love will never fade away/You are the best thing/You are the best thing/You are the best thing that ever happened to me”

For anyone who might still be out there…

We’re totally married!!!

Oh yeah… and we had a pretty sweet send off!

 

More than two months ago I wrote a post telling you all (if there is anyone even reading this) that I was coming back.  I lied.  Big time.  And I’m sorry. 

Let’s have some bullet points to catch up as best we can, although I know I’ll miss lots of things since it’s been so long.

– as of today, there are 36 days until our wedding. THIRTY-SIX. DAYS.  Holy shit.  My plan of getting everything done ahead of time is slowly fading.  I’m still trying my best to make it happen, but our super long to do list is overwhelming at times.

– You may remember that we booked a trip to Cabo last year for LM’s 30th birthday.  As it turns out, all the boys backed out for various reason, but L was going to go with the rest of the girls anyway.  Then plane tickets were about $800 and we just couldn’t do two.  Or one, frankly.  Luckily I had some airline miles and purchased my ticket (direct both ways and first class coming back!  Why was it less miles than a coach ticket? Who knows, but I wasn’t complaining).  13 girls went and it was amazing.  We were all pretty depressed that it was over when we came back.  I’m sure L would have had a fun time, but it was definitely a girls trip.


Part of the group shopping in town one day

Our invitations went out the last week of June.  I wanted to send them out the week prior, but it just didn’t happen.  I made these babies from scratch and was so happy with the way they came out.  There are definitely some imperfections, but I’m sure few people will notice.  I blew my budget on printing costs though because when I called Kinkos to find out their price for color laser printing they misquoted me and I didn’t find out until I printed all 300 sheets one day.  I couldn’t do anything about it because I didn’t have the quote in writing.  Then I realized that our logo was off center and had to reprint parts of it.  Oh well, we love them.


Rather than using an inner envelope, we used these personalized oval tags to write out the informal names of everyone invited from the family

If anyone wants a tutorial, I’m glad to give one (and I promise I’ll post it in a timely manner, if you ask 🙂  I’m not going to lie, they were time consuming, but not all that hard.

One note… we used a post card for our RSVP to save on postage.  I’m just letting any detail oriented bride out there know that they only make one postcard stamp design for the entire year.  This year’s?  A polar bear.  Yup.  For the entire year.  It looks like the coca-cola bear, minus the coke.  We ended up going with it because that was the whole reason we chose the post card – it would have been easier to make a regular RSVP.  Just letting you all know.

– At one point, we took some more engagement photos with our photographer.  We’re a little disappointed with him because as it turns out, he’s not very creative and needs a lot of help.  L’s sister used him too for her wedding and they missed some key moments that would have made great photos.  Too bad photography was the one thing I wanted to splurge on and now we’re not happy.


One of the more creative shots

I’ll give credit after our wedding 🙂

– We went home to CT to get some baby pictures for a slide show and also had a shower for my family up there.  We got lots of great stuff including all of our ‘every day’ plates from Crate and Barrel. As it turns out, most of my family won’t be coming to the wedding which really bums me out.  And it’s not even for good reasons.  We have received very few ‘no’ rsvps and all of them except for two are my family, one is from the woman who did our premarital counseling and the other is a friend of both L and I, but was actually on L’s list.

– We also had a shower thrown by L’s family.  It was huge, around 50 people.  His mom wanted to make it into a “pre-rehearsal dinner” or “mini-wedding” so some of his family that we didn’t want to invite, but had to would feel like they were at the wedding and wouldn’t come.  That’s not what we wanted.  We didn’t want anything to overshadow the wedding.  There were some elements that we didn’t like, but overall it was nice.  We told her over and over again that we didn’t want dancing and she had loud music and a dance floor anyway.  Luckily no one actually danced.

– I had a makeup trial with a girl from my sorority who offered great prices, but I looked like a street walker when I was done.  Instead, I’m using the same girl L’s sister used.  More expensive, but worth every penny.  I would post the before and after photos, but I want it to be a surprise for L.

– I finally had a hair trial.  I was having a hard time finding someone since I don’t know the area where we’re having the wedding.  My makeup girl contacted a photographer she’s worked with a lot and got a name.  The girl did a great job and I’m excited.  I’ll save those photos for post-wedding too – or maybe just in a password protected post.

– let’s see, let’s see… what else?

– oh yes! my bachelorette party!  Five friends and I went to Savannah and had a great time.  My camera pooped out, so I don’t have any photos yet, I’m waiting to get them from everyone else.  Two of my friends from high school were not able to come and that made me really, really sad.  It was a smaller group, but a fun one, none the less.  Good Lord, I was even put on stage at the deuling piano bar.  I definitely wish I had had a few more drinks before that happened, but it was fun anyway.  Despite the fact that everyone said my face was the same color as my hot pink dress.

– We’re still trying to put our house on the market and had the realtor come over one day to do photos for the listing, but then it was too dark inside and we haven’t had her back yet.  L is debating waiting till after the wedding but I really dont want to do that because I spent so much time working on house stuff when I could have been working on wedding stuff and then I wouldn’t be so far behind now.  We’ll see what happens.

– I took my dress to be altered on Thursday.  It won’t be ready until Aug 23-25.  Yikes!  I’ve got faith in the lady though, she came highly recommended from my friend and she’s pretty reasonable too.  For a bustle and to recut the top (which requires removing beading, cutting it and then adding it back on), it will be $100.  Not too shabby.  I wasn’t sure she would be able to change the top at all, let alone for a price I could afford, and was so excited when she could. Now it is absolutely perfect and what I wanted.

– I think that’s about it for now!  Just more wedding, wedding, wedding!  I’m going to be damn bored after the wedding if I don’t have a job. Speaking of which, today marks the one year anniversary of that fateful day.  Although, I must admit, there were several months where I didn’t really look for a job as hard as I should have because planning our wedding was way more fun!

Hi. Hi. Hey. Hello. Hello? Heelllooo????  Is anyone still there?

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen (if any of you still exist), I’m back.  To be honest, I’m not really sure where I went.  I still haven’t found a new job, but for an unemployed gal like myself, I am very busy!  I originally started this blog to remember the little things in life and at times it makes me sad that while L and I plan a not-so-little thing (ie our WEDDING), I have majorly failed at the blogging thing. 

We’ve wrapped up many major and non-major details of our big day – including finally finding a church that we both agree on and like very much.  The plan is to write a recap post – or maybe series of posts in case any of you are still out there and care to read them.

In the meantime, we’ve been looking at some new houses.  L wants to buy something before the market seesaws back the other way and doing it before we’re married is probably the best idea (since my credit is not so great due to some student loan difficulties a couple years ago).  Anyway, we found one that we love that the builder forclosed on.  What is normally a $350,ooo+ house is on the market for $230,000.  However, that is still waaaaay beyond our price range.  We’re working with a real estate agent that a friend of ours works with who suggested our first offer be significantly lower than the asking price.  Significantly lower.  Basically, if they went for the price, we would be getting a house more than DOUBLE the size of our current house for almost the same price.  Crazy, I know.

But, it’s all dependent on a lot of other things working out.  So fingers crossed, because I’ve sort of fallen in love with this house and we’ve already talked about the different ways we would like to decorate, etc.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high though, because it would be the story of my life to be thinking and talking about this house so much and then not get it.

When out with the agent, we brought her by our house to get her point of view on what things we should change before we put it on the market.  She mentioned a few things here and there, but said that the first things that needed to change were the countertops in the bathrooms.  They are this really ugly dark green/white marble.  They make me want to puke, so I’m not surprised that she mentioned they needed to change.  Luckily, the cabinets are fine so it’s just the top that needs to change.

While searching for different ideas, I perused many different sites for some ideas.  I found some beautiful bathroom vanities at this one site.  They’ve got lots of great stuff, including the Indocraft Atlantis bathroom vanity that would look great in a half bath.  This site is part of the CSN stores (they have more than 200) and I’ve gotten a mirror from them before.  The quality and service is great, so I would expect nothing less from Just Vanities.

Well, off to more day dreaming about the house that may or may not be ours one day and moving on to some more wedding tasks.  I’m going to be bored after our big day!

Our engagement photos were yesterday.  I’ll give you a full up date next week, but let’s just say the weather was less than stellar.  Cloudy, rainy and 45 degress.  With that in mind, here’s a sneak peek of one our photos.  Our photographer has gotten them online already.  I’ll share more when we get the disk in the mail.

That water was DAMN cold!

L and I were talking last night and he said something that made me stop.

We both want kids one day.  Two would be good.  One day.   Not tomorrow, not a year after we’re married, but one day.  We’ve discussed in the past that five years or so after we’re married would be a good time range to shoot for.  I was happy with that.  I don’t feel as though I could be responsible for another human being at this point in my life.  It’s not that I’m irresponsible, I just don’t know that I’m ready for that task yet.

I’m just not a baby person.  They’re cute.  And I want a couple one day, but I’m just not a baby-obsessed person.  I never have been.  I don’t fuss over my friends’ babies, I don’t long to hold one.  And in fact, when my friends have had babies and there’s the obligatory first visit and you feel you have to hold the baby, I swear that I have a panic attack because I’m afraid I’m going to break the baby.  Once they’re to the point where they can hold their own heads up, I’m better, but you get the idea. 

Then there are the older kids.  I just am never really sure what to do with them.  When I was in highschool I babysat, but really only for two or three families. When we’re around a lot of the kids at the volunteer FD, I never know if I should tell them ‘no’ or stop them from running around because they’re not my kids (the answer is yes, it’s kind of collective parenting at that place, apparently).  I’m always afraid that I’ll talk to a kid on a younger level than they really are.  Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, or perhaps it’s because I don’t recall my mom ever being baby crazy.

L, on the other hand, is different.  He loves playing with the kids at the volunteer FD; he always riles them up and they run to him when he walks into a room.  Even one of the really young kids who is just learning to walk.  He would teeter totter over in L’s direction and L would put out his hand to help him get around.  It’s really adorable.

A few months ago, I was with a group of women from the volunteer FD when one of them said that they were pretty sure that L would be ready to have kids before I am.  I wouldn’t be surprised, but we’ve always been on the same page about this 5 year thing.

Until last night.

While talking about a variety of things about us, the conversation turned to this:

L: I think the girls might have been right.

Me: Right about what?

L: About me being ready to have kids before you are.

Me: ::stares blankly at him, my heart may have momentarily stopped, jaw hits ground::  Umm, ok.  Well, uh, so, yeah, when are you thinking?  I thought we were good with 5 years.

L: I don’t know, maybe 4 years.

Me:   ::to myself, phew, ok, that’s not TOO bad.::  So, is this the only time you might change your mind or are we going to slowly reduce that number? 

L: I don’t know, I think that’s a good number.

Me:  ::to myself, that’s what you said about 5 years!::  Because I’m soooo not ok with a honeymoon baby.

L: Um, yeah, no.  Me either.

He surprises me with this stuff sometimes.  It’s no surprise that we want kids, we talk about what our family will be like in the future, but sometimes you just wouldn’t expect it from him.  And then a conversation like last night’s happens.  Or when he brings this up out of nowhere.

I think he’ll be a good dad one day.  And I can’t wait to see what our family is like… one day.

Man, everytime I try to get back on the blogging track, it just doesn’t happen.  But, for anyone who is out there still reading this, here are my celebrations of late.

February 14 – the third Valentine’s Day that I have spent with L.  And it couldn’t have been more perfect.  I spent 24 years being bitter on Valentine’s Day because I never had anyone to celebrate with.  When CR  told me one year that I shouldn’t be bitter because all my friends loved me, I had to gently remind her that I would be sitting in our dorm room by myself that night while she and all other said friends were out with their boyfriends.  But not anymore.  I’ll pause so you can go vomit.  I don’t care.  It was so, so perfect.  But it was nothing crazy.  We’ve gone out for V-day the last couple years, but we decided to stay in this year. 

The morning started off when L came home from work with a dozen roses in hand and two cards – one funny and one sweet.  And his gift?  A new bottle of my favorite perfume, Chanel Chance.  He was quick to tell me, it wasn’t because he thought I smelled though. haha, silly boy.  I gifted him with some Bose in-ear headphones for his ipod (get these brand new off ebay for half the price they are in Best Buy.  I’m just saying.) and a “Deck of  Love.”

I originally saw the Deck of Love mentioned on a crafty blog that linked here.  What a cute, meaningful and inexpensive idea.  I set off to create my own deck of 52 reasons why I love L.  He seemed to really like it, and ignored the card that was stained with blood.  Note to self, when cutting through Xyroned paper with your good scissors, sticky stuff will get on them.  Do NOT attempt to rub the sticky stuff off bare-fingered.  You will slice your thumb open.  It will hurt a lot.  And it will bleed a lot. 😦

Then we went to church.  Yup, you read that correctly.  We went to church.  We’re still trying to figure out who is going to actually marry us.  We tried a Lutheran church in town that a few of our friends attend.  It was very nice, and much more similar to what I’m used to than what I would have thought.  L said it was very different to him, and there were a few things he would have to get used to, but he wasn’t opposed to it.  We admitted that we were both very nervous before we went in, but left very comfortable.  This coming Sunday, we’re trying a Methodist church. 

We headed out to grab a quick lunch and hoped to see Valentine’s Day, but all the showings were sold out.  Instead, we went back home and napped for an hour (unusual for me, but I was exhausted for some reason) and then headed out to a training program for the Cooper River Bridge Run 10k we are doing in Charleston next month.  I kicked ass, again. 🙂  Never would have thought so based on how I started the program (finishing at the end of my group).  But I was so proud of myself.  We did 3.5 miles and I’m in the 12 minute walk/run group (run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute). We went home, showered and L made me dinner – baked ziti because that’s the first meal he made for me when I came over when we first started dating.

Then we sat on the couch and watched the Olympics.  Nothing glamorous, but oh so perfect.


Beautiful roses 🙂


How glamorous.  No makeup. Wet hair. And Pjs.  But it was a great V-day!

February 15 – Our three year anniversary.  On one hand, I can’t believe it has been three years already.  On the other hand, it feels like so much more than that.  We spent the day together running errands and killing time while I waited for UPS to deliver his present (since for some reason it took over a week to ship!).  L ran out for his own errand at one point and came home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and three envelopes.  By this time, his present had come and I had wrapped it.  I got a very cute card and tickets to Jersey Boys!  I have been wanting to see this for SUCH a long time!  I can’t wait.  And he definitely learned after last year’s handed-me-the-lap-top-to-show-me-what-my-present-was.  In envelope number 1, there was a series of pieces of paper “can’t take my eyes off of you”, “Downtown Charlotte”, “Turnpikes”, “Broadway”, “Garden State”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”.  By the time I got to “turnpikes”, I knew what it was.  The second envelope held the tickets.  So very perfect and I can’t wait to go!!  He seemed pretty happy with the ipod Nano I got him too!  Ok, so I may have broken our $50 spending limit, but I did get it on overstock.com for a fantastic price.  I bought him the nike+ for running for Christmas and didn’t realize it didn’t work with the ipod classic (they should really put that on the box somewhere).  He’s been wanting the nano and almost bought it the week before, but I managed to make him wait. 🙂

We both had to attend a board meeting for the VFD that night and thought about going to dinner afterwards around 8, but then we decided on a different restaurant and postponed our date until Tuesday.


Pretty Pink Flowers.

February 16 – L was working at the VFD during the day and I went up to run on the treadmill before we went to dinner.  My goal was to run 4 miles because that’s what our training program will be this week.  I started off running a mile with no incline.  Then I increased the incline to 4 percent (that’s what the bridge is) and tried to run that as far as I could.  The bridge is 4 percent for almost a mile and a half – whoo!  I knew I had to run at the incline for at least a half mile, because that’s what I did last time.  My goal was to go .6 miles, but once I got there, I knew I could go more and did .75 miles at the incline.  I was hurting, but it felt good to know I went so far.  I went back to a 0 incline and finished running the second mile.  Then I kept going.  I tried to run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute.  Sometimes I did more runing than that, but I never did more than one minute of walking at a time.  I got to 4 miles and felt good so I kept going.  Before I knew it, I was at 5 miles.  The farthest I’ve ever been.  I wanted to go to 5.5.  And then I thought, if I can do 5.5 , then I can get to 6.2.  And I did.  6.2 miles!  That’s exactly what the 10k is.  I was so freaking proud of myself.  Granted it wasn’t ALL running, but it was MOSTLY running.  L had come in just as I was finishing and he couldn’t believe.  The best part?  If I didn’t need to go home and shower for dinner, I could have kept going.

So I went home and showered and a while later we headed downtown to Chima.  It’s a Brazillian steakhouse that we’ve heard amazing things about.  Basically, there’s a very generous salad bar and then you have this little coin at your place setting.  If you want meat, you turn it to the orange side.  If you need a break, you turn it to the black side.  There are all these meat men (they had some Brazillian name, but I dont remember what it was) moving around the restaurant with large spicks with different meats on them.  And it was so freakin good.  Filet mignon, sirloin, rib eye, salmon, swordfish, leg of lamb, chicken, bacon wrapped chicken, beef ribs, the list goes on.  I only ate breakfast to prepare for this.  And we left barely able to move we were so full.

It’s quite expensive, about $44 a person, but completely worht it and we definitely got our money’s worth.  Plus, we signed up online to be a ‘preferred diner’ and got a coupon for $25 off, so that helped a lot.  I highly recommend this place if you’re ever in Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, Philly or Tyson’s Corner Virginia.


L should be our wedding photographer. How perfect is this shot?  One take and super fast becuase it was FREEZING outside.

Such a wonderful week of celebrations.  And everything was so perfect.  The celebrating isn’t quite over yet – my birthday is Saturday!  I think L is very excited for our official anniversary to be in September after we’re married.  He’s got three celebrations within 5 days of each other now!

Things have been pretty quiet around this little blog of mine lately.  But this time I have a good reason.  Really, I do! 

Oh, that’s right.  Our Save the Dates are not only IN THE MAIL, they have all been delivered to our guests!

I had good intentions to document the making of these babies with photos, but yeah, that didn’t happen.  I will say that every component of them is handmade.  I didn’t do it just to say that I made them, but more so because I could get exactly what I wanted and for a very nice price. 

These babies came out to $0.63 each.  I know I could of had some very pretty cards printed up through a retailer for cheaper, but I wanted to have the picture included and add a bit of my own flair.  I’d say I succeeded. 

Without further ado, here it is:

 

I hate to admit it, but I originally got the idea long before we were engaged when I was reading Weddingbee when I shouldn’t have been.  Mrs. Cherry Pie made a similar save the date and I just thought it was fantastic.  Ever since I read that post (a good year and a half before we were engaged), I knew that I wanted to use that for our save the dates.  And when I showed L and he concurred that he liked them, we were off.

Since we knew right away what we wanted to make, I started early.  Like, November early.  I spent a couple of days pricing all the components out on the internet to be sure I was going to get everything for as cheap as possible. 

For starters, navy blue cardstock for the backing.  I chose text weight paper in bulk from Paper Source in the color Night.  I found some online shops that had less expensive paper, but once you added the shipping in, it was no longer the winner.  Luckily a Paper Source store opened in Charlotte a little more than a year ago.

Next was the vellum.  I got a pack of 50 sheets from AC Moore and used a 50% off coupon.  Same deal with the cardstock in terms of price plus shipping.

I already had my Gocco which my mom bought me for a very early Christmas present in August and knew that’s how I would print them.

I purchased navy Gocco ink, but was unable to find a pink that was the right shade.  So I chose to add glitter to it instead.  I love glitter.  A lot.  No seriously. 

And then I decided to add my other best friend.  Her name is Swarovski.  Yes indeed.  The rhinestones on the bottom are genuine Swarovksi crystal.  I purchased them from Rhinestoneguy.com.  A great resource that I found in high school when we purchased from them to add rhinestones to our competitive dance costumes.  I ordered 2 gross of the smaller size and one gross of the larger size.  It came to about $20 for all of them.

Then there were the envelopes.  I wanted hot pink envelopes.  Paper Source sells exactly what I was looking for, but they were just too expensive.  They came out to be about $0.48 an envelope and that was just too much.  So, I decided to make them.  Yes, that’s right.  I made 96 envelopes from scratch.  I purchased the template from Paper Source and made the envelopes out of Fuschia wrapping paper from Paper Source.  Don’t get me wrong, I searched the internet thoroughly before beginning this daunting task, but I couldn’t find anything that was the right color for the right price.  These came out to be about $0.11 each, which wasn’t much more than plain white ones I was finding Office Max and other stores.

And the wrap around mailing labels?  I was going to use Martha Stewart’s free template, but it was plain white.  And I was ok with that, but one last ditch search brought me to those babies.  I wasn’t even searching for the colors, just for free templates.  And low and behold, they were perfect.  I have also received tons of compliments on them.

I used a super high tech design program to set up the text, it’s called Microsoft Word, are you familiar with it?  L helped me to make the spacing perfect and some other edits.  Unfortunately, the first one I made was too big for my Gocco.  I thought I could print a 5×7 on it, but it turns out, I can only print a 4×6.  We resized it so it would fit on the Gocco screen, but when I burned the screen, it turns out, it needs to be slightly smaller than that.  Well crap, I wasted a screen and two bulbs (for anyone that Goccos, you know how depressing that is).  One last shot and another edit and we got it right.  So I Gocco’d away.  But wait, I’m out of order.

So in November, I took a couple hours and cut all the 8.5 x 11 cardstock to 5×7 sizes.  Then another night I started tracing the envelope templates onto the wrapping paper, cutting them out, trimming them, folding them and gluing them togehter – I used a double stick tape applicator which was fabulous (and cheap!).  That took several days to finish.  Then came another night cutting the vellum.  Then it all sat quietly for several weeks.  We needed a photo.

We looked at some photos we already had, but none of them were suitable.  Or vertical.  I really wanted it to be vertical, I just thought it would look best.  So we were going to have a friend take a photo for us – then his wife had a baby and they were busy.  So another friend offered to do it for us.  He just got a super fancy camera and was excited to use it and do some editing.  He took over 100 photos!

So once we had the photo chosen, then I used my Xyron to put adhesive on them and stick them to the backing.  That’s when I found out my paper cutter didn’t cut straight and the backings were slightly crooked.  I was disappointed at first, but figured no one else would notice since it was so slight.  Then I went and got a new paper cutter that I love.

Next, I Gocco’d all the vellum.  After I printed each one, I sprinkled it with glitter and set it to the side to dry so I could tap off the excess.  That took several hours.

I took five hours one day to glue each rhinestone by hand. 

L cut a roll of adhesive magnet into small strips and we stuck them to the back so they can be hung on the fridge if people desire.  This should have been done last, because I place the strip where I needed to punch holes for the ribbon so some of the holes were off, but again, I don’t think anyone noticed.  So I punched each one and cut the ribbon and threaded it through. 

I printed all the mailing labels, Xyroned them, adhered them to the envelopes and stuffed them.  Paper Source makes a great envelope glue that you can put on ahead of time, let dry and then moisten like a regular envelope.

And then.  WE MAILED THEM.  On January 27.  Woohoo!  We got lots of positive comments, and of course, we took photos!  Because that’s what we do.  Needless to say, we had ourselves a good little photoshoot while there.  Good thing it was about 9pm on a Sunday. 🙂


Off we go!


Getting closer!


Even the Post Office is telling us to “Mail It!”


Off to my parents!


And to L’s parents!


The last batch!

I’ve been presented with an opportunity.  Some might think it’s not the most ethical opportunity, but I don’t really have a problem with it.  One of L’s colleagues approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing his papers for a music appreciation class he is taking.  And he’ll pay me.  I just have to name my price.

But what do you charge for something like this?  Obviously I want to make it worth my while, but I don’t want to rip him off and lose this opportunity for a little extra cash.  I know some people don’t agree with this, but let’s face it, it’s been going on for as long as term papers have existed. 🙂

I never knew anyone in college that paid to have a paper or assignment done for them, so I can’t even make a comparison.  He asked me about this last month before his semester started, so I told him to show me his syllabus and we’d talk after that.  I know I should base it on how long the paper is and how much research I would have to do to complete it, but where do you think it starts?

This all began when L was working at this guy’s station one day (they have to switch up for a shift every  now and then) and was working on some homework.  He and L started talking about schoolwork and what a pain some of the general ed classes were and L told him that I helped him with his papers for him.  That’s when the guy asked if I’d be willing to do it for other people for money. 

Many of the guys that work at the fire department are in school.  You just need a high school diploma to get hired, but there are different pay levels based on education.  So many of them get hired young and complete their schooling part-time.  I began helping L with his because I find it fun.  I miss college.  The learning and writing papers and staying up to study for exams.  Don’t get me wrong.  I did NOT enjoy this while I was in college and I couldn’t wait for graduation day!  It’s one of those ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ situations.

These guys don’t want to be bothered with the freshman English or music appreciation classes they are required to take.  They want the fire classes and the diploma.

So what do you think?  Let’s say it’s a two page paper (I’m trying to think back to my music appreciation class which was about 8 years ago) that requires2 hours of research.  What would be a good price?

I thought that we would never be able to find a photographer.  After three weeks of venue searching when we first got engaged, the photograher and videographer were next on our to-do list, but what did I find when we started looking?  Large numbers and an inevitable comma.  I was not liking these 4 figure price tags attached to every photographer we found.

It seems that my organizational skills have gone out the window when it comes to this wedding.  Although L and I had come up with our overall budget figure, we never really broke it down.  Sure I had consulted a couple of wedding planning books, the Knot’s budgeter and wedding magazine checklists to determine what percentage of our budget should be spent on different aspects, but when I saw that our photography and videography should be no more than $1100 combined, I knew we were going to have some issues.  From the beginning, I always said that photography was one of the things that I wanted to splurge on.

So what was our budget for photography?  Well, we never really specified it.  As we continued to look at photographers, we were trying to stick to the $1500 range because that was the cheapest we were finding.  At the beginning, our criteria was good pictures and a CD of all the edited pictures with copyright release.  This would enable to print our own photos rather than paying for prints. 

Many of the packages included bridal or engagement sessions, so we tried to negotiate those out.  The bridal portrait is a very southern tradition, and although I embrace almost all things southern, this is one I just can’t wrap my head around.  I think they always look nice, especially to give to a parent rather than hanging a large photo of myself in our house, but why do you want a photo of me all dressed up in my wedding garb when it wasn’t even my wedding day? 

Anyway… we didn’t need the engagement session either because we won a session with no strings attached at a bridal show in October (yay!).  Well, as it turns out, many of the photographers weren’t willing to exchange these sessions for a reduced fee or extra hours.  Some, but not all.  I had heard many brides say that they were doing an engagement photo just to get comfortable with the photographer, and that made sense, but why not get rid of it if it will save money?  It wasn’t until we came across one photographer who said he required the engagement session so he could get used to the couple and know what works best for them, etc.  Then the lightbulb finally went off and we added that to our requirement list.

We eventually upped our pseudo budget to around $2000.  I wasn’t willing to compromise quality for cost.  We finally had it down to three photographers and two videographers.  There were only subtle differences in the photographers, and I knew I would be happy with each of them.  Our decision was going to come down to who we chose for a videographer and which combonation of videographer and photographer was best for us in terms of dollars.

One photographer offered unlimited hours.  The other two offered 7 hours, but you could add more for a fee, which would put them both out of our price range.  Then it came to videographers.  Record the rehearsal dinner or not?  The more coverage we have, the better, in my opinion, but losing the rehearsal dinner would save about $400.  I resigned and said that I would be ok with no video at the rehearsal dinner if we could contact a local college and see if we could get a photography student looking to build their portfolio to photograph the rehearsal and dinner for a cheap rate.  So that’s where we were.  Then the only difference was one or two cameras at the reception. 

Did we really need two?  I mean, I want paparazzi, but if we went with the one camera, we would get one of the photographers we loved the most.

We were at a loss.  We sat on the couch adding more coloumns to our color-coded spreadsheet going around in circles.  I kept getting hung up on going back to the photographer who offered unlimited hours.  Because I want them there from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. 🙂

Finally we had to close the laptop and just make some appointments.  So that’s what we did.  We had two appointments this past Monday (a photographer and a photographer/videographer) and scheduled another one for this coming Monday with the last photographer.  We had yet to make an appointment with the second videographer.

Our first appointment was with the photographer/videographer combination.  I think that we liked them the best before we went.  I say “think” because I’m not sure either one of us knew which we really wanted.  As it turns out, the meeting was very productive.  Not only were they offering a discount of 10% off each service or 15% off of each if you book both, but he also helped us make it more affordable.  Originally we had chosen the package that had the most hours we could afford, but also had an engagement session and a bunch of albums. 

Since we’re willing to eliminate the albums to save money and allow us to get the photographer we want (we’ll just do albums later – maybe with some money we get from teh wedding), he showed us another alternative.  The cheapest package that only had 6 hours and the CD of pics.  Nothing else.  He then added in the engagement session, second photographer and 4 extra hours and it came out much cheaper.  Then you include the 10 or 15% discount and it got even better.  He showed us another DVD sample of the videography and it was even better than some that we had seen on his website.

We walked out of his office very pleased, knowing that we would be basing the next meeting solely on the photog’s personality.  If she blew us away, we would consider her, if not, we’d probably go with the first guy.

The second girl was nice, but after looking at more of her photos, we liked the first guy better, and she didn’t blow us away with her personality either. 

There was a lot of back and forth.  Let’s nix her.  Well, are we sure?  How much are we really willing to spend?  One video camera or two?  If we wanted two, we’d have to meet with the other videographer.  When we got home we took some more time to look at the numbers yet again. 

I am getting really sick of looking at excel sheets, let me tell you.

It still came down to how many cameras.  L did some research and it seems that most videographers we found (just in general, they did’t even have to be local) only had one camera at the reception.  And although I feel like we’ll have a large headcount (about 150), but I don’t think it’s sooo big that one camera wouldn’t get all the dancing and other good stuff.  We slept on it.

Yesterday, as we looked at the spreadsheets, again!, we decided one camera was ok and that we would go with the photog/video guy.  We emailed him to make sure our numbers were correct – and when it came back CHEAPER (his cost for an extra photographer was $100 cheaper than he had told me a few weeks ago), we were ecstatic!  I asked him to work up a contract which he emailed me back within a half hour and we were just about set.

The money for the deposit is in my checking account and I’ll be faxing the signed contract back this afternoon.  We’re getting so close!

A recap (if you’ve even made it this far since this post is like 4 years long):

Venue – check!
Caterer – check! (well, it comes with the venue)
Linens, tables, chairs – check! (ok, those come with the venue too)
Wedding dress – check!
Wedding shoes – check! (thanks L, I love them!)
Bridesmaids – check!
Bridesmaid dresses – check!
Photographer – check!
Videographer – check!

The only big things we have left are a florist, cake, L asking his groomsmen and figuring out what they’re wearing (no, L, black is NOT ok), a band (it’s just picking out of a list of 3-5 now)… oh, and someone to marry us.  I guess that’s kind of important. 🙂

The save the dates will hopefully go out by the end of next week and then we just need to decide on invitations.  We’re so close!

…to save my soul.  I want to get lost in that rock and roll and drift away… 🙂

In the ADD-ness that is our wedding planning, we’re now looking at bands to play for our entertainment.  No, we still have not selected a photographer or videographer.  Yes, we are still down to the same 3 photogs and 2 videos.  Yes, we talked ourselves in circles about which combonation to pick.  Yes, we have two meetings tomorrow and one next Monday.  Yes, I had to move on before I went crazy from my indecisiveness.

So, back to the band.  During our pseudo wedding planning back before we were engaged, we said how we both wanted a band, but I knew that it likely would not fall in our budget.  If we got a good DJ, it wouldn’t make a difference either.  Once we started actually planning, the indecisiveness came up again (do you notice a them here?).  We couldn’t afford what we wanted.  Isn’t that the story of everyone’s life?  There is a pretty well known regional beach music band that is a sort of family friend to L’s family and we thought they might cut us a deal.  However, their initial price was higher than we thought.  We tabled the idea for awhile while we chose our venue and worked on some other things.

At a bridal show, we found a DJ that was only $550 for a Sunday wedding with no time limit.  That was certainly hard to pass up.  Especially when another band we found that we liked was charging $2800.  That’s when I decided for myself that we would have to settle for the DJ.  But L was going to do what he could to make this band thing work.  He likes the atmosphere of a band better.  Thinks it adds more to the party.  And will definitely help fill up the room a little. 

Plus, there’s this:

The place has got a great stage!  It just screams “you have to have a band at your wedding to go on this stage!”  There is no curtain to go across the stage to block it completely or make it feel smaller if we were to have a DJ.  I know we could work with the lights to darken the back of the stage and draw attention to the front and mask the empty space if we had a DJ, but doesn’t it just make you want to put a band up there?

We found another band that we loved, but they were a steep $2800.  We were dumbfounded as to how we were going to make this work.  And then Christmas came.  We were fortunate enough to each get a decent amount of cash.  So we decided to put that in the band fund.  It was money we didn’t expect to have and was not part of the original budget, so it’s like a treat to ourselves.  Then, we realized we had a large sum of money sitting in an ING account. 

As much as L’s parents make jabs about us having two dogs, they are EXTREMELY generous.  After Shep’s initial biopsy, his grandmother gave him enough cash to cover that and told us to take the money we had intended to use and save it for any future surgeries he may need.  Then, when it came time for his big surgery, his mom stopped by the vet and paid the bill in full.  I was shocked and could not be more thankful.  So between that leftover amount and our Christmas money, we have almost enough.  If you add in the $550 from our budget that we would have used for the DJ, we’re there even closer.  The other night, I spent three hours counting change that we had been collecting, and with that final number, we were there.

We’re having a band!

But just to be sure, I started looking at other bands in case our first choice wasn’t available.  And oh dear Lord, I found so many I like.  And some of them are cheaper and some of them are just a smidge more.  What do we do?!?!

We want a good variety of music.  Definitely need beach music/shag, but we want country too, and top 40 and great dance songs and classic singalongs.  Because what is a party without Journey?

In our searches, we found the band that played at a friend’s wedding last year.  After inquiring, we found out their price was $3500.  WAY out of our price range.  For the heck of it, L sent them an email explaining that we loved them, but they were out of our price range and asked if they would come down (to our tip top amount).  And they agreed!  But we’re still not sure.  Because there are several other bands we love now too that we’re waiting to hear back from.

This is tough!  I’ve been using a website called Gigmasters.com which is amazing.  You can request a quote from several bands at one time and so far, they are responding very quickly.

So, now we have one more thing that we just can’t seem to make a decision on.  Pretty soon we’re going to start picking from hats.  But in the meantime, at least we know that we’ll have a band and have someone that we love!  It’s a little wedding present to each other and a nice little surprise since we weren’t sure we’d be able to make this work.