Sunday, September 25, 2011

Making Changes

Lately I've got the decorating bug again and I've been re-doing rooms in our house by changing and mixing up accessories. I'd of course love all new everything, but having just paid for a wedding (!!!), that's not happening any time soon!

So, I got a cool new print on canvas for our living room from World Market and I love all of the colors and the eclectic design. It has the red-orange and olive green of our existing sofa and drapes, but also varying shades of blue, green, red and even teal (one of the colors that I've been wanting to introduce into our home for a long time!).

Momentary Canvas by World Market
I'm thinking I may frame it in a cool, rustic wood frame down the road, but for now it's hangin' naked above our sofa!
Next I'm starting to hunt for cool accent pillows to tie the sofa, drapes and new frames (stay tuned for a glimpse of these soon) all together.

Z Gallerie has a bunch that are totally gorgeous and along the lines of what I'm looking for. Here are a few of my faves:

I'll keep you posted as I get more done so you can see how everything comes together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Step Three: Save That Date

Once you pick the date you want for your wedding, get that date out there to your friends and family.

Start with a "mass email" to get the word spreading. This will also give you a better idea of people that already know they won't be able to come. For us, we spoke with each set of parents, siblings and our closest friends first, and once they all confirmed that there were no conflicts, then we contacted everyone else.

The email is a good idea because it will buy you some time. It's also a good time to ask people to send you their addresses so you can get your address book up to date and organized. If you don't already keep your addresses digitally somewhere, I highly recommend using this time to do so. It will save you a ton of time down the road when preparing to print save-the-dates, invitations and even thank you cards.

I asked a designer friend at work if she'd help me design our wedding stationary. Once we booked our venue, we knew our ceremony was going to be under a big pepper tree. So we thought it would be cute to design a tree for the Save-The-Date and have our names nestled below.

Kevin and I are huge Jack Johnson fans! In fact, we often say that we fell in love to his music. So, we found a set of lyrics from his song "Better Together" and with one slight word change, we had the perfect verbiage for our Save-The-Date.

The Save-The-Date should set the tone (and theme if any) for your wedding. You want it to be personal and represent who you are as a couple as well as get your guests excited about what's to come.

We worked on getting our Wedding Wire website up and running before we sent out the save the dates and included our site address on them. This gave our guests a place to go and start getting more familiar with our story, as well as assist the early birds in booking their travel. For some people, doing all of this prior to the save-the-dates going out may be too much, but at minimum I'd recommend taking the time to build a wedding website by the time the invitations get mailed. It will save a ton of time by answering guest's questions for you!

So, pick something that represents you and your wedding. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something special to you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Step Two: Get Organized!

There are many great websites out there such as Wedding Wire and The Knot to help brides plan their weddings and stay organized. They provide time lines and to-do lists to help you stay on track, a place to create inspiration boards, search for and track vendors, create budgets and much, much more. Both of these sites also offer free personalized websites for your wedding. I utilized both of these sites a lot in planning, however I opted to stay organized a bit differently.

Right after we were engaged and started looking for venues, I put together a "Wedding Binder". That binder quickly became attached to my hip and I did not leave home without it. (Some of my friends even started to know it as my Wedding Bible! - What can I say, I'm a little bit of a control freak, but you just never know when you might need to reference something.) I preferred having a hard copy of everything important that pertained to our wedding on hand so if I needed to access something and didn't have my computer, I had it there at my finger tips.
My Wedding Bible!
I highly recommend putting together something similar for yourself. It's a great way to keep track of all of your vendor contracts, email negotiations, inspiration for dresses, hair, makeup, decor, song ideas, guest lists, budget, "to-dos" and anything else that relates to your big day. Put a copy of your inspiration board right on the front so you can reference it as you go and have it handy when you meet with your vendors.
I also became a big fan of Google Docs during this process. I set up a workbook for "Wedding" with a "Vendor Tracker" spreadsheet that included all of our vendors information with payment schedules, due dates, contact information and any other important notes. (see example below) I then linked that spreadsheet to another called "Budget" which automatically updated anytime we made changes or adjustments to the payment fields. As planning continued, I put our guest list in another spreadsheet and used it to track our guest-count as RSVPs arrived in the mail. Finally, I created one to track all of the gifts that we received and who we received them from. This helped tremendously with writing Thank You cards because we were able to easily reference who gave us what.

Besides our main workbook, I also used Google Docs to house our master copy of our ceremony, schedules, to-do lists for the day and any other documents that needed to be accessed regularly. As we were planning one of our computers almost died which just about gave me a heart attack! We all know that when you're busy, backing up your files is one of the last things that you make time to do, so luckily the most important parts of our wedding were all backed up in "the cloud" and I didn't lose anything when the computer crashed. It also made it so that if I needed to work on or reference something I could do it from anywhere, not just my home computer.

I printed out the "Wedding Checklist" from The Knot and kept a copy of that in my binder to reference every couple of weeks. This was a great tool to help me ensure that I was not missing any important steps along the way.

The point is, it may seem like a lot to put together at first, but taking the time to get organized in the beginning will be totally worth it in the end. What you hear about the last couple of weeks before the wedding being insane is pretty much true, but your sanity can be salvaged by staying organized!

Happy planning!

A Gift Fit for Paris

One of the things that I do at work is help put together gifts for our clients and staff for special occasions. One of our clients is moving to Paris this week and so we put together a pretty little gift bag to help welcome her when she arrives.

We included a book on how to eat organic and vegetarian in Paris, a cute journal to keep notes about all of her new adventures, a nice umbrella and pretty scarf for the rainy days, lip balm (because every woman's bag should have lip balm!), an insulated thermos for toting water or coffee and a trendy little card case to house her new business cards!

It turned out so cute that I just had to share it with you!

Here's a tip from a thrifty shopper (that's me!), you don't have to spend a ton of money to make a gift look great. For example, I picked up this adorable Kate Spade tote bag at TJ Max for less than half of what it retailed for! (Unless the person you are gifting to follows all of the latest designer collections, more than likely they'll never know if it was this season or last, nor will they care!)