Tuesday, September 30, 2008

hey lady, your dress is interesting

I first saw this photo on Snippet and Ink, and thought it was cute. You can tell those girls are bridesmaids, but it looks like they found their own gray dresses.

Then Heather at We Met In a Bar posted her take. She's worried about what could happen if her bridesmaids chose dresses that didn't quite go together. I see her point, but I think I'm a step further gone than she is on the mismatched dresses - I kind of like that they don't "go" together, and that I'd never wear the winged one. Now I'm even more interested to see what her bridesmaids wear, especially if it's a collaborative effort.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

you got the silver

DJ and I did a little thrifting last weekend, and I did a little auction sniping, and what do you know. I found some silver things. They are not all very nice, because I am being very cheap. Most of them need polishing. I feel like a magpie, building my shiny nest of castoffs.

Friday, September 26, 2008

garden roses

While flipping through old photos tonight I found this one. Somewhat more than a year ago, DJ brought home a dozen roses for our anniversary. I clipped the stems and put them in a bubbled aqua glass jar, leaves and all. Here are the colors of everything eventual-wedding-related: ivory, dark green, and aqua. Add a metallic, any metallic. Silver, bronze, pewter - they'll all be there.

With all the lovely flowers out there, what I like the best are ivory roses. Big, blown-out ivory garden roses. With the leaves on, tossed in a vase. This sort of thing gives me (false?) confidence that I can arrange my own wedding flowers. Because I like these, just like this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

unacceptable folding chairs

Now that we have a new place and a new date, there are new things to consider. Like those metal folding chairs.

When DJ and I first looked at the barn, we liked the rustic, homey look. One of the selling points for me was the idea of staggering their cool antique chairs with chivari chairs. But when it came time to sign the contract, we were told no. No to using the antique chairs on the main level, and no to renting chairs at all. Our only option was to use the chairs they provide, which look like this:
Yuck. I, um, pitched a fit. Until right then I had no idea how much I disliked those chairs. And maybe my feelings on this issue are part of the magazine industry wedding machine - but especially for a wedding. Especially when perfectly acceptable rentals are available, and affordable. But no. If we wanted that place, it was those chairs or... well, those chairs.

No replacing the chairs - but covering them is allowed. Hmmm. Still, banquet chair covers seemed too fancy. Too shiny and white, or shiny and whatever. Too fancy for the rest of the barny-ness of the barn. Still, that got me thinking.

And sewing. The ribbon here is all wrong, it was just what I had at hand at the moment. Forest green would be better.
That could work, right? With matching table runners? I mean, I hope so. I have 21 of them finished already.

sources and resources

Elizabeth Anne Designs added me to their blogroll today, which is very exciting for me - they have one of the prettiest blogs out there. I'm kind of excited about their Library of wedding-related people, all vetted by actual brides. I keep meaning to ask my photographer if she minds my nominating her for inclusion.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

dressing the lady squad

If you're reading this then you're either a bride, a bridesmaid, or someone who knows me. And is possibly a bride and/or a bridesmaid. We are so alike, all reading Domino and shopping at Anthropologie like a big happy party of strangers.

So, you know about the bridesmaid dresses. How 90% of them are horrible, most are polyester, and they are more expensive than you would ever expect a polyester bag to be. Except for the really lovely silk ones which are more expensive than a car payment, and just as unlikely to be worn to a cocktail party.

Oh, I considered a few. But after an exhausting (really, exhausting) search, I decided against the whole idea. The thing is, I have three lovely bridesmaids. All very different, all very good at dressing themselves. Here are two of them during an epic shoe hunting trip:

These ladies have opinions. They have full closets. They have more than enough bridesmaids' dresses. You could say I'm taking a risk, or you could say I'm taking the easy way. I've asked them to find their own dresses and their own shoes. Within a range of colors, but it's a pretty wide range.

This isn't for everyone, I know that. But I'm not a matchy kind of girl. My pillowcases match each other, but only loosely relate to my sheets. My wine glasses are party-ready - break one, buy a better one. More than once I've debated leopard shoes with a hunter plaid jacket.

This is going to be so much more interesting for me, to look at the pictures later and see them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

lacy luminaria: fastest project to date

I couldn't wait. I had this urgency to work on these. Maybe because they seemed like an instant gratification sort of project. It's good to balance out the long-term effortfests with a little fluff now and then.

So, just like Martha says, all you have to do is slice and dice some gold paper doilies and gluestick them to the insides of some lunch bags. I chose petite bags, mostly because they were there. But larger bags would be nice for variety.
The candle inside is one of a 12-pack of pre-filled votives I bought on sale at Michael's - they were cheap, and I wanted to test burn times. Mine burned about 2/3 in six hours and probably could have gone to eight or nine, easily.
I'm imagining that these will be so pretty lighting the walk up to the barn, and dotted around the courtyard below. Of course, watch. It will rain housepets that day and I'll end up using these for Christmas decorations for years to come.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I've been working on the invitations again. This is... less tidy than before. I'm not just trimming paper to reduce postage, really. Pinkie swear.

let's get married here: now face north!

It was a rainy tour of the suburbs, but it was a success. We (all but) have a new contract. We just need to, you know, send in the contract. With some money. The new date is a whole month earlier, which is kind of exciting.

It's such a pretty place. I know it's good because DJ's mom got all excited too. Right away she said candles, candles are the thing to do. Lots of candles.

So, here's what I have in mind. At the top left there you can see a picture of the barn, all dressed up for a wedding. I didn't save sources for any of these pictures, so if one is yours, let me know.

Now I just need to sew chair covers and table linens, and thrift several dozen pieces of silver plate. Easy, right? That's right, I said sew. This place comes with unfortunate metal folding chairs which they will not let us replace with rentals. And standard chair covers would take away from the rustic feeling, so yeah. I'll be making my own.

Like I said, I do love a good project. Well, I love starting a project. Finishing 80 or so chair covers might be a whole different story.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

DJ and the Remix: Part 6

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Five years went by, and although I still thought about DJ, the context had changed. For all the reasons we hadn't stayed together, what I remembered was how good he had been to me. Somewhere along the way I decided that was the important part, and what I wanted to remember.

Then my two brothers joined MySpace. They stopped answering e-mail any other way, so I made a halfhearted attempt at a profile. A profile I only used to send them messages, without even my real name attached.

Then one day I had a message from DJ, just one line. "Is this a good idea or a bad idea?" He'd found me by accident, hopping through old friends and siblings until he saw something he recognized. My eye and eyebrow, nothing more. Shortly after that, I gave him my phone number, and that first conversation lasted five hours. The next one lasted three hours. I guess we had a lot to cover.
He'd been divorced. I wasn't dating anyone seriously. We decided to meet for drinks. As friends, of course. Just as friends. But when I saw him walking up the sidewalk to my apartment building, I missed him so much.

DJ's friends at work gave him a hard time at first for re-dating his ex, and called me Girlfriend: the Remix. So here I am, Julia Remix. I don't mind - now, all this time later, it is so much better.

And, well, happily ever after.

For real this time.

Stuff to put stuff in: Part 2

Part 1

Once the folders were cut and assembled, I used clipart borders to create name tags for each folder. The boxes around the decorative borders are my crop lines. I also printed labels for the CDs - I'm certain there was an easier way to do that, but I didn't have any labels and this way everything matched. (The fonts were free downloads - Tagettes and Fontin Small Caps.)

I drew two circles (5" diameter and 1.5" diameter) in Inkscape, centered the small one with respect to the large one, and added the CD title. This page was printed on Pool text from the Paper Source.

After cutting out the CD label and name tags with a craft knife, I ran them all through the Xyron using a permanent adhesive cartridge.
The labeled CD fits neatly in the envelope, with the track listing behind it. The track that matches the sheet music is the title track, but I hate to waste a whole CD, so it's full of songs I think they might like.
Next I removed the backing from the sticky name tags and squared the corners with the wide ribbon and patterned paper background - they're not kidding with that Xyron adhesive, they really do mean permanent!
And, they're finished, ready to do their job!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Redfield Estate

Tomorrow DJ and I are going on a big tour of the Chicago suburbs, looking at places. One of our options is the Redfield Estate, a park district-owned mini-mansion that's about the right size for our midi-party.

It kind of looks like something out of a fairy tale, covered in ivy and with peaked eaves.

Mmm, rafters and hardwood floors.

(all pictures from the Redfield Estate website.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

DJ and the Remix: Part 5 (There's No "And" About It)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

So I went out with the fireman, and that didn't help anything. I was doing that thing where you're miserable, but trying to convince everyone else how well you are doing. If you are nineteen and reading this, here is the one piece of wisdom I have to offer: That never works.

Then I started college, and didn't date much. No one to impress, really. I went to class, went to work, went to the gym, and watched a lot of E!. Almost a full year after the hotel and the pizza, my phone rang late one night. It was DJ, sitting outside my dorm. I pulled one of those long wrap sweaters that were popular ten years ago and met him outside. He missed me. We had made a mistake. We were going to try this again.

Well. We tried, but that didn't work either, story made short.

After a few months I started dating someone else, which lasted for nearly three years. DJ started dating someone else too, and eventually his mom told me they were engaged.

Later I heard that they had gotten married, and that it was a beautiful wedding. So I guess I was wrong, then. We weren't right for each other - couldn't be, if he was married to someone else.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stuff to put stuff in: Part 1

So, as long as we're not sure where we'll get married, I might as well dwell on the minutiae. Right?

Assuming there's a piano available (I thought we had that set, but that's currently in question), DJ's aunts will play the piano and sing Sam Cooke's You Send Me during the eventual wedding ceremony. I bought sheet music from Music Notes a while ago, and impulsively decided that I needed something to hold it when I gave them their copies. At first I was going to buy pretty folders from Nantaka Joy - but then I changed my mind. After all, it's just paper - let's make it complicated!

I bought two pieces of textured green posterboard. I wanted the folders to be 9" x 12" when finished, with a 4" deep pocket on the inside. So I cut two shapes following the template below (so very not to scale!), scoring and folding on the dotted lines with a bonefolder.
The two 1" sections hanging off the pocket flap get folded in and glued to the inside back cover, forming, you know, a pocket.

I wrapped each front cover in a band of 1.5" wide moire ribbon (Martha Stewart, from Michaels.) I then cut rectangles of the paper I'm using to line the invitation envelopes, and placed the rectangles behind the seam in the ribbon, holding it all together with double stick tape.
Along with the sheet music, I wanted to include a CD with the song on it. I made an envelope for the CD using a template from the Paper Source, and lined it with Pool cardstock using the same template.
I then tied a length of 1/4" ribbon around the horizontal midpoint, to hold the flap closed. To attach the envelope to the folder, I ran a piece of typing paper through my Xyron using a permanent adhesive cartridge. After removing the cartridge film, I flipped it over and ran it through again - creating a large doublestick surface. I peeled the backing off one side and applied it to the back of the envelope, making sure to capture the ribbon under it.
Then I peeled off the second backing, and attached the envelope to the inside cover of the folder, over the wide ribbon band.

Soon: Part 2, the rest of the stuff.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I'm screenprinting our invitations, but here's one of the paths not taken: I spent a lot of time looking at letterpress.

Letterpress is gorgeous. Go on, try to deny it.

(Bella Figura)

(White Aisle)

It's also expensive. (Go on, try to deny it.) I love paper, but I love other things more. Like shoes. And cake. Neither of which I could afford if I spent that kind of money on paper.

Then I found Mercurio Brothers.
For less than $500, you could have 100 invitations, RSVP cards, and matching addressed envelopes. That's the cheapest option, with 110-pound paper and a single color design for which you provide the digital files. Sure, you could hire a designer. Or you could download open-source design software (The Gimp or Inkscape), find a good font or two, and start typing.

That's not exactly cheap. I know, I know. Everything is relative. But maybe it's worth giving up a few pairs of shoes for good paper.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Invitations: let's start here!

It all started with $1/roll wrapping paper and envelope liners. I scanned a section of the paper, adjusted the contrast, and excised motifs using Photoshop to make this design:

Which I spent all day Saturday printing it over and over again on Paper Source Cream Luxe cardstock using a Gocco PG-11 and custom blended pewter ink. Riso does not sell a pewter ink, so I mixed gold and silver. I'm not sure I'd recommend mixing colors unless you must - I squeezed most of two tubes into a sandwich baggie and squeezed it in my fingers to mix it, then snipped a corner to pipe the ink onto the screen. There was a lot of wasted ink that way. I have about half the baggie sitting in my fridge right now, until I figure out another way to use it.
I love the perfectly imperfect way screenprinting works.
200 cards. All the same screen, over and over and over again.
I realize that people throw these away. I do, too. But I always appreciate a beautiful invitation (or letter, or card.) Probably I'm not the only one - but even if I am, I am having a great time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

stealing beauty

Last night I had dinner with Jules Someone. She gave me permission to steal traditions from faiths and cultures to which I do not belong. Excuse me, to which WE do not belong.

(By the way: I hate the engaged/married "WE." I also hate the selfish bride-y "I." Can't win, right?)

DJ and I are not Catholic or Jewish or Buddhist or Quaker or Wiccan or... anything. Marriage ceremonies are usually based in religious tradition, or imitations of religious ceremonies. Bummer for us heathens.

If we were Catholic, we might have a lazo. If we were Pagan Quaker, we might have a handfasting. If we were Buddhist, we might have a water ceremony. If we were Jewish, I would absolutely want a huppah. That's what all those garden arches aspire to be, you know. I like the symbolism - the home you create together, and the people in your life who will be the support of it. But I'm not Jewish, and it always seemed sort of disrespectful to me to mimic meaningful religious traditions in a non-religious way.
Jules disagreed, and gave me her Jewish permission to have a huppah. So I think I (WE!) will.

DJ and the Remix, Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The thing is, DJ was right for me. I remember telling my best friend at the time (still my best friend - she has amazing fortitude) that I wished I'd met him when we were older, when I might have handled the whole thing better.

My mom wasn't doing well after she and my father divorced, and frankly neither was I. Together we were a mess. I ended up living with DJ's parents halfway through my last semester of high school. I still have no idea why they were so good to me, but I suppose that explains a few things about DJ too.

I graduated from high school. I took a year off before college, to get my finances and my head in order. That sort of worked, if you squint and look sideways. One weekend when I was visiting him at school, we had a hotel room in the student union hotel. What would you say, he said, If I asked you to marry me. I told him he would have to ask me. Actually, that is probably not what I said, but that's how I remember it. After midnight someone pulled the fire alarm and we were chased out into the crisp fall night. We bought slices of pizza, and I really thought I could do that. Spend the rest of my life walking in crisp fall air, eating pizza.

But that's not how it goes, you know. He bought a ring and really did ask me to marry him, under a gaslight called the Eternal Flame. Legend has it that if you kiss under the flame, you'll be linked as long as the flame is lit.

We didn't plan a wedding. I was still unsure about marriage in general, so I told everyone that we had lots of time. I still say that.

Eight months later, we broke up. I thought I was going to die. Both in that wonderful nineteen year old way where everything makes you think you're going to die, and in the more troubling way of knowing I'd truly lost something worth having.

I wasn't sure he meant it, the breakup. So I gave him two weeks to change his mind. I had in mind that if he did, I'd act like it never happened. (Great plan, right?) Fourteen days later, I asked if he'd changed his mind. He hadn't. So that night I went out with a fireman. That may have been unexpected.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

a little light music

For light thoughts and rosy memories.

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes