Friday, October 30, 2009

Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

I'm anti-sexy Halloween costumes. I figure the holiday is about having outrageous fun, not competing in the least-clothes/least-creativity category. Instead of sexy cat or sexy gypsy I intentionally try for the least sexy, biggest attitude outfit possible.  However, as much as I love Halloween and the chance to be absurd, I am also a massive procrastinator. If you are anything like me, you may need some Cr*p-It's-Friday-Night-and-I-Don't-Have-a-Costume help. So, without further ado, here are some not-entirely-lame last minute throw-together ideas:
  • Tacky Tourist- Here's the thing: if you go as a tacky tourist, you have to OWN it. I wore this to a Downtown Loft party and I can assure you I was the LEAST sexy person there, but everyone wanted to take their photo with me (seriously.) Wear a hat (baseball cap, cowboy hat, whatever. I had a floral visor), khakis, flop flops or athletic shoes, sunglasses, a money belt on the OUTSIDE of your clothes (for the love of all things sensible, why are some tourists such morons?), carry a camera around your neck, and have a guidebook or map in your hand the entire night. Put TONS of blush on your nose and cheeks for a sunburn effect. I also wore the shirt emblazoned with "Czech me out" that I bought in Prague specifically for Halloween (something like "My parents went to Aruba and all I got was this stupid shirt" also works well). I kept asking loudly about the beer and complaining that this party wasn't as interesting as parties in my home country. 

  • Cubist Painting- dress in brown or beige, attach broken pieces of mandolins (or plastic guitars), scraps of newspaper, pieces of chair backs and other miscellany to your shirt (remember, cubists liked deconstructing the image, so don't go for whole items, just broken pieces). Draw some black lines at random on your shirt.  Walk around with a picture frame (or cardboard makeshift frame) around your neck.  

Georges Braques Painting
  • Mummy- Cover yourself in toilet paper. (Splurge for good toilet paper so it doesn't shred everywhere.) Yes, I know it sounds cliche and boring, but have you ever actually seen someone do it?  No?  Me neither.  You'll be the talk of the party, trust.

  • Grapes- It's cute when kids do it and even better when adults do it.  Attach purple balloons all over and voila! For extra fun, add some leaves to your hair.  If you go this route, be warned: you'll need help with the balloons.  And don't attempt to attach the backside balloons until you reach your destination (you can't drive with backside balloons).  Also, doors can be tricky, so plan to park yourself in one room for most of the night.  But, I can tell you from experience, it was a raging success. 

Me, making a sour grapes face.  Hahaha, I crack myself up.

As for this year?  It's our first time doing a couples costume and, in the vein of the costumes above, it would be lame except that we're planning on totally OWNING it and living in character for the next two nights.  We've got a party tonight and a Culver City pub crawl on Saturday.  So if you see a bunch of costumed fools wandering down Washington or Venice Blvds on Saturday night, feel free to wave and holla' and I'll make sure to wave and holla' back.

What are your plans this year for Halloween?  Have you put together your costume yet?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Just Got Mrs'ed

I was walking back to my car after happy hour drinks last night when I passed two men leaning against a wall.  So I braced myself for the stare and possible "hey baby" comment. Instead, I heard one guy say to the other "Don't bother man, she's married.  See the ring?"

I smiled, and didn't bother to correct him on the engaged/married front. It seems this bling thing is coming in handy after all.

Also, have you seen East Side Bride's recent ring posts?  I now want them all.  I have issues with coveting awesome things. Good thing my budget's limited, or I'd likely end up like this:

Buy any of these rings at Una, a little shop in Portland

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dress Shopping: The Glamour Closet

As a bride on a budgetary mission to spend less than $1000 on a dress and alterations, it turns out I don't have a ton of options.  Who would have thought that $1000 is bubkis in the wedding dress world?!  I mean, $1000 is enough for a fancy shmancy romantic weekend away, a new bed, or a enough to repair the massive dent in my car (tangent: eff you, whoever hit my parked car and didn't leave a note.) It's also enough to buy (some) dresses from used/sample dress listings, (some) custom dresses, (most) dresses from megastores like David's Bridal, or white dresses from department stores.  In other words, it's not a lot, even though it feels like a whole heckofa lot to me.

Enter: Glamour Closet.  Similar to Encore Bridal, they sell high-end showroom samples, runways samples and designer overstock dresses at heavily discounted prices and they also have local boutiques (in Los Angeles and San Francisco) where you can go and try things on.  Their store is slightly larger than Encore's Manhattan Beach boutique but, unlike Encore, they don't list their current dresses online (so it's definitely a locals-only shopping opportunity.)  Most of their inventory ranges from $500 - $2000 (at discounts ranging from 25%-75% off standard bridal prices), so I was hopeful that I could find something $800 and under (to leave pricing room for alterations), particularly since I'm going for a simple dress.

The Glamour Closet doesn't take appointments, so I'd recommend arriving around their 11am opening time for a prime spot in line (or making a weekday trip, if you can). You'll receive six clips, which you use to mark the dresses you want to try on.  All the dresses are as-is sample sizes (8 and 10), so what you see is what you get (you can generally alter dresses up and down two sizes, depending on the style). Trying the six dresses on takes (on average) an hour.

Well... I had a great time and saw some stunning dresses, but didn't find anything right for me. The current inventory skewed to the satin/sparkle end of things, which isn't really my style.  However, I tried on a bunch of dresses to experiment and see whether dresses outside of my comfort zone might look better than I had anticipated.  In fact, they DID look better than I had anticipated, and I was sorely tempted to buy at least one, but then my common sense (luckily) got the better of me.  Because, as great as the dress looked, it didn't feel right for me or our event.

In the spirit of featuring more real brides in real dresses, I decided to share my dress shopping experiences with readers.  Because really, dress photos with women in poses like this... little to give me an idea of how the dress will really look on a non-model (who ever stands like that?! I'm tempted to try it in my formal photos, just because.) When I recently caught this chain over on Weddingbee, I was charmed to pieces by all the real-woman dress photo sharing.  So, for reference, I'm 5'9", a street size 8 on top and a size 10 below and here's how some dresses looked on me.  Please excuse the non-photogenic faces, angles, and bridal clips.

This dress might have worked with some spanx and alterations, especially for a glamorous cocktail party wedding. Surprisingly, I liked the semi-trumpet/mermaid looks on my pear-shaped body.  J, on the other hand, hated this dress from my photos. The censored version of his response is "Ug. It looks like you're wearing clamshells. I don't like it." Therefore, this dress taught me an important lesson - it's often a good idea to show your partner dress photos so you can learn their wedding-based style preferences and you don't walk down the aisle in something they despise. We're usually on the same page, so I was surprised by his vehemence about this dress.

Moving on, this is the Augusta Jones dress I almost bought.  I started to have that twirl-around-lovely-wow moment.  The dress was exactly $1000 and needed ZERO alterations.  It fit perfectly and comfortably, off the rack.  And, most importantly, it made me look and feel incredible.  My waist suddenly appeared smaller and the sweetheart A-line was very flattering.  It had a formaily that was still okay for an outdoor venue, thanks to the organza overlay.  The sparkle was subtle and didn't look like a badazzler gone wrong.  I gasped for the first time, because I suddenly felt like a bride.

However, as I gathered my wits about me, I realized I didn't feel like me. I certainly looked beautiful, which is what a perfectly fitting designer dress is designed to do. I felt the same way as when I'd wandered into a Max Mara shop, tried on a $800 suit, and realized I was much hotter than I'd ever given myself credit for.  Great clothes make you look incredible, and that's why they're priced at incredible levels. Must of us don't generally shop at the high end stores or have experiences with exquisitely crafted dresses, so our first experience with real high-end elegance is at a bridal salon. I'm convinced this factor is at the heart of the two-dress bride phenomenon (is it a phenomenon? I know it happens somewhat regularly.)  I can see how easy it is to buy the wrong dress when we're so wowed by our designer-clad reflection, even when the dress doesn't meet our real wedding criteria.  If I hadn't paused at the thought of spending $1000 of my hard-earned savings, I might have walked away owning a dress that didn't actually meet my real wedding criteria and regretting the decision a few weeks later. 

My real wedding criteria were: cost, dancability, outdoor-woodsy appropriate, non-princessy, modern looking but elegant. This dress met only the following: cost(ish) and dancability (for a wedding dress). Besides that, I looked like a freaking princess.  Which is fine if that's the look you're going for.  But I really want the wedding to feel casual-but-elegant so having the bride wander around in a white ballgown all night doesn't help achieve that, even if the dress falls on the simpler end of the A-line princess spectrum. I felt pressure to buy it because a sample dress is a one-time option but, for all of the above reasons, I'm soooo glad I didn't.

Lessons learned:
  • Glamour Closet has affordable designer options, but you have to search.  Also, most of their current dresses have some real sparkle
  • I need to show photos to J to avoid any "clamshell ick" moments down the road. 
  • Hold onto your logic, even during your ohmyfreakinggoodnessIlookahhhhhmazing moments while dress shopping. Really evaluate if the dress meets your real event needs so you don't make a costly two-dress-bride mistake.  
  • I don't want an A-line dress because it feels too ballgowny and princess-like for the event we have in mind.
About Glamour Closet:
  • 324 S. La Brea Ave
  • Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • (323) 938-2000
  • Hours: 11am - 7pm Tues-Fri and 11am - 6pm Sat

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tossing Traditions, Opening Dialogue

While I recognize that merging families is never simple, I also recognize how lucky I've been with the family I'm marrying into. The first time I met them was at the Houston airport, where they greeted me with a Dr. Pepper, expanding upon a ritual they've developed with their son whenever he comes home to visit. While building a deep relationship with future parents/children in-laws across several states can certainly take time, they immediately welcomed me into their home, which was a huge relief and therefore allowed us to get to know each other. (Let's just say that previous experiences with meeting-the-parents of exes didn't go so well.)  Distance has its challenges, but I feel lucky to have a future family that's been so welcoming since those first moments.

One of the challenges with distance is how difficult it is to find ways to be natural and comfortable, since it's neither natural nor comfortable to go from spending zero-time with someone else's family to four-days-worth of time with a family primarily during their holiday rituals. That's not to disparage the joys of holiday rituals, but they can also create stress, formality, and bring out old family tensions because absolutely everyone, including Great Aunt Martha, is underfoot and in the way for an intense several days. It's been an incredible experience to begin sharing holidays with J and my future family, but it's also been a less-than-ideal circumstance in which to get to know each other and get family-level comfortable.

For all these reasons, I've been really looking forward to wedding planning as a chance to bond with my future mother-in-law, to have a real reason to share wedding planning ideas and to learn from them and their 30+ year marriage.  However, up until now, it hasn't quite worked that way. When his parents visited us in Los Angeles, we didn't really talk about the wedding (though we did talk marriage and family, which was a whole lot more important). Then, I didn't receive feedback on this blog when I sent his mother a link as a way to (ineffectively) open communication about the wedding.  Since we're paying for the shindig ourselves, I'm not really looking for approvals, but I am hoping for dialogue and a little bit of squeeing when exciting things (like venue decisions) happen. So I've been confused about how to open that dialogue, but figured the holidays would provide an in-person chance to open a discussion about roles in this planning process.

Only, it turns out they were never expecting a dialogue or a major role. They were leaning on tradition and the expectation that the groom's family has a minimal role until they hand over their guest list to the brides' family (who is paying for the wedding, of course.)  Even though they had an inking the wedding might not follow "traditional" planning processes or format, his mom just didn't picture a role for herself.  She just figured she'd get her chance at wedding planning with her daughter (who's a few years younger than J and happily enjoying the 20-something unmarried life in NYC) and she'd leave this to me and my family.

I'm sure there are brides who would be relieved to have their future in-laws keep out of the planning.  I am not one of those brides. I want family involvement in this process, despite any challenges it may bring up in balancing needs and options, because those conversations are a real chance to move beyond holiday family rituals and into a real family comfort zone (warts and all.) It shouldn't surprise me any more, but I continue to be flabergasted by the insidious ways in which "the way things are done" really inhibits meaningful wedding rituals (the back-and-forth discussions about our ceremony and about whether Great Aunt Martha will be able to hear if she's seated at table eight) and elevates the BS like whether guests will be offended if we have a buffet instead of a sit-down dinner (as I gently informed my mother, good food is good food and we'll have two lines at the buffet, so the answer is no.)

When I rail against "tradition" I'm not trying to tear down the institution of marriage.  When I question the need for a white dress or a floral bouquet, it's not a knock against those who choose it.  I simply refuse to believe that we should tie ourselves to assumptions that limit us to a narrow range of wedding options, behaviors and roles.  Not only is it constrictive (for those of us who look bad in white or don't have enough $$ for expensive florals) but it's sometimes the absolute wrong approach is we want to build healthy family relationships as we move into marriage.

I want a wedding.  I want a (somewhat) traditional Jewish wedding ceremony and ceremony-reception structure for our wedding celebration.  But I also want to approach it as a process of conscious decision-making, carefully choosing the traditions that matter to us because we know why they're important.  To me, the assumption that the bride's family pays (unless there are economic reasons to compel it) is one of the backwards, limiting traditions I was happy to be rid of.  And I'm looking forward, from here on out, to sharing our new traditions with J's family.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Want

  1. I want a house overlooking the beach.
  2. I want to take a year off work and travel around the world.
  3. I want to work in an environmental education non-profit and get paid at least $100,000 a year.
  4. I want a vacation home in Ojai, London and Tuscany.  And a private plane to get there. 
  5. I want to look like a (non-emaciated) movie star (but I'd settle for better skin, permanently losing 15 pounds, and bigger eyes).
  6. I want a personal trainer and a natural food personal chef.
  7. I want to write the next Great American Novel.
  8. I want a free masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School without doing a PhD.
  9. I want a boat in Marina del Rey.
  10. I want to be able to drink lots of red wine without getting a hangover.
  11. I want to be able to eat lots of cheese and chocolate without gaining any weight.
  12. I want this wedding dress. Or this dress. Or many of the dresses just showcased in New York.
  13. I want this location for my wedding.
  14. I want to retire without fretting about making ends meet or having to work until I'm 80.
  15. I want to be able to pay for my future children's college educations.
  16. I want to someday buy a house in a decent neighborhood.
I want a lot of things.  Realistically, numbers 1-11 aren't going to happen.  Numbers 12 and 13 could happen, if I chose to make them happen. I'm in the lucky position of having enough money saved that I could add another $10K to my budget for the dream dress and dream location. But you know what - I choose 14, 15, and 16 instead.  It's hard, knowing I could have a dream dress, that it's in the realm of possibility.  In many ways, it would be so much easier to say yes to the dress.  However, it's not worth it, and so I have to willfully walk around with my hands over my eyes and singing lalalala-I-can't-hear-you about the wedding dress shows and boutiques and magazines.  Because, what I really want is to make my peace with the kind of wedding that fits my real values.

Friday, October 23, 2009

DIY I Can Handle - Reclaiming "Anthropologie" Weddings

So you know when you look at those perfect vintage chic weddings and everything looks fabulously handcrafted and artistic and it makes you throw your hands up in the air, give up now, and scream at every budget tip that says to DIY because your art projects usually end up look like this:

Yeah, me too.  That's why I like this wedding.  It just looks beautiful and simple and real and charming and like an event designer didn't get within 100 miles of the thing. The photos and the joy were stunning, despite/because of the posters made with markers (and love).

Hell yeah.  Let's reclaim the anthropologie aesthetic from the high end weddings.

Check out more at the wedding chicks feature or directly at So Cal photographer Heather Kincaid's blog either here or here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wedding Planning Conflict Resolution: Context

As we were driving away from our wedding venue (wow - it feels so good to write that.  We have a wedding venue.  We know the place where we're going to get married.) In between all the excited oh-my-goshes, we started talking about what it might look like.  About how the day - our day - might look and feel based on the site and what the site provides. This somehow led to our first wedding tiff, which led to a bit of an aha moment about how to approach these logistical discussions in the future. (Or at least, how to try.) 

Our site provides tables and chairs for the reception hall, but we're not allowed to take the chairs outside for the ceremony.  Fair enough - so we'll have to rent chairs for outdoors.  And the chairs we rent will likely be prettier than the chairs provided by the venue, which are black plastic.  Now, I care more about practicality than prettiness, so I figure we'll either use the black plastic chairs inside (we can decide on decor based on the chairs, if I care enough) or we'll ask friends to help carry the pretty white chairs inside to re-use after the ceremony. If we ask 30 of our able-bodied friends to help us carry three chairs apiece, we'll be done in no time and we'll have a prettier reception hall in the process.  As we drove away from the site, I had a vision of the ceremony set-up, the reception hall, and of all our amazing friends trooping together from the ceremony site back to the brick reception hall that filled me with absolute utter joy for our day and for our wonderful friends.    

J, on the other hand, didn't seem quite joyful about this vision and flatly responded, "I'm not asking my friends to work at our wedding."

I looked back at him in surprise as all my beautiful visions of a low-key do-it-together wedding were falling to pieces around me.  "But, I was thinking we could ask people to help with one or two very discrete, simple, over-in-a-minute tasks.  If they ask.  It will make them feel more invested and it will help a lot. I'd love to help my friends and their weddings and I'm sure some of them will want to help us too."

No.  He still wasn't going for it.  "I'm not having friends fly in from all over the country to then put them to work.  Friends who live in town, fine, let's ask for help on the decorations and planning.  But I'm not asking people to help who come in from out of town."

I was trying to think if I had any reasonable counterarguments but no, I really was asking guests to work at our wedding.  I was trying to think whether it would be terrible to put the word out only amongst local friends that we needed chair moving help. I was wondering if other people would just chip in when they saw chairs getting moved (I mean, I'd certainly chip in in a similar situation.) I was trying to rapidly calculate whether the budget could handle two or staffers for an hour to help move chairs (no, it can't). I was trying not to panic and cry over my fading wedding happy-community vision.  Despite being near tears that he couldn't see the obvious beauty and simplicity in my brilliant ideas, I held my emotions together and tried to speak calmly about my vision for the day.

"I guess I'd been hoping our friends would help us out with the entire day- not out of obligation, but because it would be fun.  We'll get there early Sunday morning, get some music going, pour some wine and diet coke, and get a decor party happening.  Frisbees, horseshoes, and baseball* would be great too, especially once everything's set up and we can just hang out, then get ready, until all the guests arrive. I just envisioned the day as purposeful-but-fun. I'm looking forward to having everyone around and working with our community to make this happen.  I saw the chairs as just one piece of that - grab 30 people and get it done in 10 minutes."

And with that, he got it.  And once we got home and he read Sara's summary of her wedding process at 2000 Dollar Wedding, he really got it because he could see it.  It was part of the overall vision of the day and not just "hey, find your big strong dude friends from college and tell them to schlep chairs."

I'm coming at this planning stuff after a year of reading blogs and having come to some alternate conclusions about "the way things are done."  He is not.  And so we both need to provide some context for our points of view in a non-tearful manner, and we both need to listen, and I think this wedding planning thing might just work out.

*There's a baseball diamond at our site.  It's just one of the many awesome things about our future wedding location. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Too Bad Hotel Bonfires are a No-No

So I know my campsite weekend wedding dreams are impossible, but I really wish hotels permitted bonfires.

Just saying.  Smores and weddings sound divine. 

Admitting to the Vanity

In much of the wedding world, it's assumed that the bride will do her damnedest to look stunningly beautiful, to like a "princess" on "her special day."  We've been conditioned to expect the whole room's collective gasp when the bride walks down the aisle, resplendent in her perfect white dress glory.  Her husband-to-be awaits at the end of the aisle, holding back tears upon first seeing his beautiful about-to-be-wife on their wedding day*.

The "first look" concept seems a bit antiquated to me, since presumably there have been thousands of looks since you first met (although I do understand the emotional build up and release upon seeing each other that day). Also, I'm hoping he thinks you're pretty darn awesome already, or he wouldn't be marrying you, so dressing up to impress him specifically for the wedding shouldn't make a smidgen of difference in whether he says "I do". So what is it, exactly, that has us all (myself included) expending so much valuable brainspace and dollars on creating an appropriately stunning first look moment? 

It's a complicated answer, but I think it has a lot to do with the unspoken subtext of gender roles: He's marrying well/successfully if she is beautiful armcandy, and she's marrying well if he has $$ to support her or some such BS. Why else would we subject ourselves to a seriously expensive dresses, hair, makeup, manicures, facials, accessories, and weight loss regimens (with our husband-to-be's support) if underneath it all we weren't grasping somewhat for that "first look" public approval moment? Why else would "bride style" be such a magazine/blog/personal obsession when men's style issues are only discussed in passing  (tux vs suit, dark vs seersucker, boutonnieres, etc.) We've clearly elevated the importance of female attractiveness in a way that has nothing to do with the wedding or marriage as we chase that collective gasp.

I battle with my unspoken need for superficial approvals everyday and the wedding is just messing with my head even more.  I'm already more nervous about the wedding and the pictures than I feel comfortable expressing to friends in real life.  I want to be the badass feminist and say eff-it.  But... I'm not going to.  I'm going  to consciously choose to take part in much of d*mn prettifying madness, including the parts that go well beyond my standard comfort zone of makeup, heels, and some killer accessories. I'm going to feel conflicted about it the entire time, but I'm going to do it anyhow. 

You might be asking why.  Heck, I'm asking why.  And the only answer I can come up with isn't very satisfying:  It's because I want to feel pretty.  I hate myself for this, but I just want to feel spectacularly pretty for one day.  Lots of women might want to tell me that it's perfectly okay and normal to want to be pretty on your wedding day but, while I think it's "normal", I'm not sure if it's okay for me.  It goes against my very core values to chase unattainable physical ideals and against my financial values to spend several months rent in the pursuit of one day's attractiveness.

Oh, it's not several months rent, you say?  Here's the math:
  • Dress: $1000 for dress and alterations, if I'm lucky
  • Hair and Makeup: $400 onsite, if I'm lucky
  • Shoes: $100
  • Hair flower: $35
  • Jewelery: $100
  • Facial: $100
  • Mani pedi: $35
  • Teeth whitening: $600
  • Boot camp, so I actually stick with my exercise goals: $200
  • Weight Watchers: $40 per month for 6 months = $240
Total: $2810**

You can quibble about the pricing and about whether list list is strictly wedding related (I've been saving to get my teeth whitened since I quit smoking, I pay for Weight Watchers anyhow, I try to get facials every six-nine months because my skin is problematic, I get mani/pedis once every few months, I've done boot camp before to kick start a fitness program, I can wear cute shoes again, I can sell the dress and recoup a few hundred bucks, etc) but the point is that I'm seriously considering all of these, with an eye to the single d*mn wedding day.  I KNOW it's effing insane.  I'm an earnest, analytical feminist and have an intense hatred for the chasing-youth-and-photoshopped-beauty ideal our culture has elevated in recent years, and yet here I am with a ridiculous price list for things I want that have nothing to do with a wedding or a marriage or my love with J.  I have no problem with any of these things on their own (notice that I participate in quite a few of the prettifying rituals on a regular basis myself) but I have a real problem with them all getting wrapped up into the image of a pretty bride.

It's not just me feeling these pressures - it's the whole darn issue with what a bride "should" be. When I casually mentioned to my mother that I was considering DIY hair and makeup because of cost, she (to put it mildly) freaked out and offered to pay for everything.  So it's not just me, it's my normally sensible mother who is also willing to drop $$$ to help her daughter look beautiful specifically for the wedding day. 

I've often said J would be happy if I walked down the aisle in a burlap sack. He'd be a bit shocked and his grandparents would be scandalized, but he'd still be grinning like a fiend when it came time to say the vows.

Miu Miu Pleated Burlap Sack Dress at Net-a-Porter. No, really, it's a $1200 burlap sack dress

So I know none of this matters.  I could buy a $100 white dress from a department store and be done with it.  In fact, if I asked, J would probably rate me at about an 8 on his attractiveness scale, regardless of what wedding dress I wear or makeup I apply. Even when I'm at my grossest he tells me I'm the prettiest woman he's ever been with.  I hear him, I believe he's being honest, and I adore the compliments.  However, I've never internalized them. (On a good day, I put myself around a 5 or 6.  And there's nothing effortless about my 5/6 level beauty.  It's hard earned via makeup, straightening irons and a lot of note-taking about flattering fits during What Not To Wear.)  I've always been the smart girl, not the pretty girl, and it feels like my wedding day is a huge chance to shine as the smart and pretty girl.

I'm not happy about my self confidence issues and I'm not happy about elevating superficial aspects of the wedding with such a massive price tag.  But I'm nervous about photos. And I'm nervous about being the center of attention.  And I'm nervous about people turning around, hoping for a collective gasp moment and getting left with "meh."  And it would be really nice to not get "meh" for once, and apparently that's worth a pretty hefty price tag for me.  It would also be nice to finally have some great photos or me and us (generally, I resort to class-clown antics and make silly faces in my photos so people don't notice how average-looking I can be in snapshots.)

What's the point of this post?  I'm not exhorting anyone to give up their wedding day prettifying but I do think we should be willing to look more closely at why we make our wedding decisions instead of just assuming all brides should aim for drop-dead-gorgeous beauty.  I'm not entirely comfortable with the answers I've come up with for myself, but I'm determined to take ownership of my superficiality by finding ways to be more comfortable with it (and the purchases that come along with it).  This might mean ethical purchases and a simpler aesthetic look overall, and it certainly means prioritizing items that I already value (like Weight Watchers and generally healthy living) over items that have no long-term value (teeth whitening). Instead of going for a princess-transformative-ballgown look, I'm aiming for simple elegance. I want to be me, but I also want to be my best version of me, and I'm having a difficult time not crossing the line into full brideland costuming. Putting the prices down on a list helps me gain some perspective on the insanity, but the desire to be "pretty" is still very much there. Besides stepping away from the pretty magazine and blog images, how has everyone else managed these internal conflicts?

*Please excuse the hetero-normative wedding description, but I think the first look issues are predominantly based in gender role questions.  It doesn't mean that female appearance issues don't affect lesbian couples, but I think they're rooted in the male/female relationship construct.

**Yes, this number is completely absurd.  And no, I'm probably not going to get everything on this list.  But the point is that I've seriously considered it.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Benefits of a Long Engagement (18 months out)

Recently, J and I have been in a lot of conversations that seem to go like this:

"We're getting married!"
"How wonderful! Congratulations! I knew it was coming! (etc) So when's the date?"
"April 2011"
Silence.  Followed by complete and utter deflation.  "But that's so far awayyyyy."

Well, I suppose it's farther away than next summer, but we want time to appreciate living together before jumping full force into wedding planning.  And we want time to save more money.  Both are eminently reasonable and practical.  Yet both are apparently as boring as watching paint dry, from the reactions we get.

When did sensible timeframes become boring?  Why is it so important to get married as soon as you get engaged?  We've already determined that we want to spend the rest of our lives together, which could stretch into the next 60+ years, so I'm not sure why taking an extra few months before the wedding should matter in the grand scheme of things.  And I'm not sure why people are so upset - yes, upset - when we mention our very practical reasons for waiting. (Side note, I'm not sure why other people get upset at all when we mention anything about our wedding plans.  Stop getting invested in our plans and just come along for the fun, okay?)

So to counter this silly expectation that engagement = wedding-in-the-near-future, here's why a long engagement can be great (18 months out version):
  • I don't feel stressed about planning.  We can go at our own speed without it taking over all our free time.
  • It's a process of discovery and not a rush to make decisions
  • We have time for marriage planning, including pre-marital counseling
  • We can do extensive bargain shopping, including buying used decor from brides, shopping the after holiday sale, and scouring craigslist and Bride$hare type options at our leisure
  • We have time to attempt, fail and try again with DIY projects
  • We have more time to save $$$.  And weddings cost $$$$$$$
  • People don't assume that weddings are our only conversational topic, because we're primarily in a non-planning mode.
  • There's no holy cr*p panic about where to start, so we can better figure out what this whole process means to us.
I don't mean to knock the people who go gung ho into the wedding planning process with a year (or much less) to plan - there are GREAT things about planning on a deadline too.  Too much time can definitely create an situation in which you dither over every idea and don't just get on with decision making. And having a shorter timeframe gets the planning done with and moves you onto marriage instead. But for those of us waiting a bit longer, I just wanted to let everyone know that we're being sensible about the process.  It doesn't mean we're not excited about getting married and it doesn't mean we don't want you to get excited with us.  We just want to savor the process a bit.  Even if the journey's taking 18 months or so.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One More Thank You

I don't know how I missed this, but I have another thank you to add to the "Wow You Gave Me a Kreativ Blogger Award" list: A Cape Cod Bride. She had initially planned a wedding in the Dominican Republic, but adjusted her plans to account for her guests' needs with the economy. She moved the wedding location to her childhood home in Cape Cod but kept the December 2009 date.  A winter wedding in the Cape definitely goes against the grain, but I respect her for truly valuing her guests, for sticking to her guns, and for finding beauty in the Massachusetts winter. 

Ladies, you're all great.  And it's so much fun sharing the journey with you.

Thank You

I started this project as a creative outlet for my writing, as a space to organize and clarify my own thoughts about weddings and marriage, and as a space to advocate for local businesses and therefore support economic diversity and sustainability. Along the way, I've already had the opportunity to interact with numerous other bloggers, and my own wedding and life experience is already enriched by the developing dialogue.  I'm lucky that they seem to feel the same way, and several bestowed the Kreativ Blogger Award upon my little project here at A Los Angeles Love.

I, on the other hand, have been terribly remiss in not posting a huge thank you.  Also, according to the internet rules for this thing, I'm supposed to post seven facts about myself and pass this award along to seven other blogs. Unfortunately, I am the woman where chain letters go to die, so passing along this award isn't going to happen.  However, in the spirit of etiquette and true appreciation, I am going to reply with a hearty thanks to the three ladies who tagged me.
  • The Bowie Bride:  I love Britt's exuberance, writing, and all-out-fun.  (Have you read her Hipster Bride Style Guide?  If not, go now.) Also, I love pretty much every single one of her wedding ideas. If I were having the urban loft danceparty, I'm almost sure we would have had twin weddings, completely inadvertently, because I like her style. 
  • Westside Wedding: We're in this L.A. budget battle together, and Westside has been sharing excellent lifesaving tips, iphone apps and google doc spreadsheets that make the local wedding planning madness easier.  Also, I grew up on the Westside, and I love that someone is representing, even if it's not perceived as nearly as cool as the (so-called) Eastside. I know and love its hidden corners (and qualitatively improved air quality.)
  • A Cupcake Wedding: She quotes Neruda, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Method Man, and has embraced the cake-alternative movement too.  What more do you need to know about her awesomeness?
I love these ladies and have them all in my google reader.  But I also love a ton of other ladies out here in wedding blogland, so I don't really want to choose seven presumed favorites from among them.  So I'm sending a heartfelt thanks to the ladies who tagged me, to all the other readers who have been stopping by, and to all the blogs that have inspired me along the way in this little writing endeavor.  I appreciate the dialogue we have going here and elsewhere on each of your own sites. And as for those seven random facts about me (in case you hadn't gleaned enough from this blog already):
  • I grew up in Los Angeles, but despised it here.  I always knew I belonged in San Francisco or London. I lived away from L.A. for six years but ended up back here when I ran out of money for traveling. About five years ago, I decided I'd either get my dream job or get a job that earned me enough money to finance a move to San Francisco, whichever came first. I got my dream job the next month and I've never looked back. I genuinely believe that life is what you make of it and so I search out those aspects of this city that I love and try to overlook what I don't.  
  • I played rugby in college and briefly in Santa Monica. This always elicits surprise, because I do not look like your mental image of a rugby player.  And yes, I was entirely badass.
  • I studied abroad in Kenya and did a month-long research project on cultural change in Maasai-land.  I lived in a Maasai village for the duration of that month.  It changed my life in a multitude of ways.
  • I lived in Madrid for two years after college.  I taught English, immersed myself in Spanish, Argentinian, and British culture (my roommates were from Argentina and my colleagues were all British), and took full advantage of the Madrid nightlife scene.  I came back to the U.S. speaking English with a British accent and Castellano with an Argentinian accent.  I was a glorious linguistic mess.
  • I am a giant policy wonk nerd and news junkie.  NPR, NYT, Calculated Risk, Paul Krugman, numerous environmental policy newsletters, LAist, LAObserved, and numerous other Sacramento and DC blogs and online papers are daily must-reads (along with an ever-growing wedding blog list).
  • I am not cool (see item above).  I shop at Anne Taylor Loft for work and can't be bothered with a significant degree of originality beyond that in my free time (and with my "spare" money).  I try to compensate with funky accessories and decent jeans.  Sometimes it works. 
  • I like bad puns, wordplay, and anything that pokes fun at itself. 
So yeah, that's seven aspects of me.  I'm enjoying the process of meeting all of you in the comments and in your various blogs.  So thank you for stopping by and feel free to drop me an email anytime to say hi or share some great L.A. tips (wedding related or otherwise).

Contest: Win Free Postcard Printing

I like free, and I like the internet for pointing me in the direction of great free stuff.  So if you have any need for 100 full color, two-sided postcards (for your save-the-dates or rsvp cards, perhaps?) from Uprinting, head on over to Bride on a Budget to enter.  The contest ends Friday, October 23 at 5pm EST.  Good luck!

Agatha and John: A Smog Shoppe Motorbike Wedding

Today’s local wedding is truly a joy to share.  Agatha and John (whose invitation you may remember from here) met while racing (and crashing) motorbikes together and they approached their wedding with obvious joy, love, respect for cultural traditions, and respect for their own personalities and shared bonds. Agatha and John created an honest and beautiful day that wasn’t perfect-day-transformative but was just perfectly them. (I mean, if they put Shamwow and good scotch on their registry, you know it’s a personalized wedding experience.) 

I first ran across Agatha on the Kvetch boards at Indiebride, where she was trying to muddle though dress and accessory options.  For someone more comfortable on a bike than in a dress (John proposed to her with a Ducati), this was definitely a challenge, though I’d say she did a splendid job picking a simple J.Crew dress that she felt comfortable in and adding a gorgeous, rewearable bolero made out of pinya to pay homage to her Filipino roots (purchased from Tocatta on Etsy).

All photos from Hazelnut Photography

She and John approached the entire wedding process with that same thoughtfulness, budget-mindedness, and personality.  They started with the Smog Shoppe location. Although it was a definite splurge, it was hands-down the right decision for them: the Smog Shoppe is an old auto shop that has been converted into a LEED certified event space in Culver City. Besides the whole motorbike theme of their partnership and wedding, Agatha is an environmental engineer, so the Smog Shoppe was the perfect fit for their personalities and event space needs (casual, indoor/outdoor space). They admit that it was expensive, but as their one big splurge, it was absolutely worth it.

Smog Shoppe succulent wall. (I love succulents and I looove this wall)

Her bridemaids all picked their own convertible dresses from Victoria’s Secret (Agatha has similar dresses from other locations and swears that the Victoria’s Secret dresses were both the least expensive and her favorite fabric.) I like brides who respect their bridesmaids enough to go for non-matchy-matchy, affordable, non-color/tone specific dresses that they really can use again. (also, psst, the Victoria's Secret dresses are currently on sale...)

They hired the Kogi barbecue taco truck to cater the wedding (It serves Korean-mexican fusion tacos. Yum) which confused John’s more traditional Korean family but was delicious nonetheless.

Here’s some more on their day, in Agatha’s words:
The main takeaway from our wedding was that it was comfortable, casual, and fun.  Obviously, the aesthetics were somewhat important, but not in the "it has to be perfect or else I’m going to cry" sort of way. I wasn't actually trying to be different, I just wanted people to know it was OUR wedding.  We wanted to show off our love of motorcycles and all things gearhead, so the venue was a huge part of that.  We had chrome Tangle Toy centerpieces, Michelin Man table numbers, license plate name cards, and motorcycle races playing on a big screen.  Our invitation even looked like a jiffy lube coupon doorhanger. 

Centerpiece with flowers, tangle toys and the Michelin Man

Their favorite “detail?  Their personal cake topper with both of them in their motorcycle leather racing suits, with their much-loved dogs standing at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Favorite moment at the wedding:
Waiting at the top of the stairs before coming down the aisle. I got to see all my family and friends as they were coming in… Thinking that they were all there for my big day, for me, for us, made me feel so joyful and lucky to have such beautiful people in our lives.

Things that went wrong at the wedding:
The ceremony was a bit of a train wreck, as my loving husband would put it.  The bridesmaids missed the rehearsal, so they didn't know where to stand during the ceremony.  When the DJ started playing my entrance music, the officiant, (who also missed the rehearsal) decided to start praying before I arrived.  The officiant got to the venue an hour early so that we could practice and I gave him our vows to hold onto.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t made clear in the pre-ceremony rush and, when it came time to do the vows, he didn't know what to do and asked us to make up our vows on the spot.  He also decided to do one last blessing as the exit music came on.  Man, rehearsal would have been KEY for that guy, but what's done is done, so oh well. 

Things you would change about the wedding, in retrospect:
I actually don't think I would have changed anything at all about the wedding.  Despite the train wreck of a ceremony or my father-in-law getting sick from celebrating a bit too much, I wouldn't have changed a thing, with the exception of adding a few guests I should have invited (and regret not doing).  As chaotic as it sounds, it was as perfect as I had imagined!
Best cost-saving decision:
I got my dress off ebay for $100.  I wasn't worried about it getting messed up. Plus, I can probably use it again at other gala events I attend.  Hahaha.  Gala events.  Hahaha.
Best sanity-saving decision:
I am so grateful for having a day-of coordinator.
Best piece of advice for other couples:
1.  Compromise on cost/price. Weddings are expensive and really, they're only one day, so don’t stress the little stuff too much.
2.  Don't compromise on your guest list too much.  Set a limit early for family friends, and make sure you invite everyone that is important to YOU, not mom or mother-in-law. If you leave it up to them, they'll want to invite the whole village.
Best decision you made about the wedding, overall:
Going through with it!  Originally, I just wanted to go to Vegas and have Elvis marry us. But my mom cried over the phone about having a big wedding and guilted me into it.  I was upset for a long while because I really didn't want a big wedding. I blamed her for making everything so difficult with the guest list and for how expensive everything was.  But, in the end, seeing everyone have a good time and being happy for us...  that was all worth it and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Best thing about being married:
Being married isn't really all that different from before.  We've lived together for 3-4 years and life is still as it was before we got married, except that now i have this thing on my finger that bugs me all the time (hahaha.) Oh, and every day is always better than the last.
Local vendors they used and loved (and why they loved them):
  • Hazelnut photography: Jordana is AWESOME.  Chris (her husband) is AWESOME.  They were friendly, comfortable, professional, and so easy-going.  It was like they were buddies taking our pictures, not people we hired to do this for us.  They are easy to work with and we didn't really feel like we were "posing" in front of a camera. Jordana let us be ourselves and was able to capture our special moments without us even knowing! They really love their job and it shows. She was VERY responsive and quick to return emails, phone calls, even got us a sneak preview of our pictures within a week!
  • Kogi BBQ: They are GREAT for catering informal, fun, unique events. If you're looking for something different and tasty, the Kogi truck is for you.  Yumi was professional and very responsive via email or phone. They gave us free tastings and samples of EVERYTHING and even making special menu items just for us with a fusion Filipino-Korean dish!  They were on-time and professional. They are a little pricey considering it is a taco truck, but considering the unique flavors they bring to the table, it's worth it. They're in a truck, so they can go anywhere, anytime, but best to book early since they are in high demand!
  • Signature Party Rentals: Elaine is great!  She was so easy to work with, responsive, and knows her stuff.
  • Smogg Shoppe: Sherry and Miguel, the owners, and Jeff Fleming of Tact Event Management, the site management company, are incredible to work with. They are very responsive, understanding, and easy to work with. The venue itself is AMAZING and one of the things we got the most compliments on for our wedding. It is a unique and wonderful space to play in and my photographers loved being able to capture so many moments in just one spot. Their team was always very professional and though it took up a bit more of our budget than we anticipated (due to their required valet service company, AA Valet), it was well worth it. They do have quite a few rules (candles, music, etc.), but they are easy to work around with enough planning.
  • King’s Hawaiian Bakery: I love King's Hawaiian and always go here for our celebrations. Their cake is the best! And it's SO affordable.  We had chocolate chiffon with fresh strawberries, paradise, and guava cake. All of it was gone! They were easy to work with and gave us HUGE slices at the cake tasting. They got the cake there on time, set-up, and were very nice to talk to on the phone.
  • Icing on the Ring: Ravi and his family are so nice to work with. His dad talked with us about the rings we selected, didn't push us towards anything expensive and only showed us what we came in and asked to see. Their prices are higher than what you find on the internet, but having a brick and mortar store felt more secure and the service is top notch. We got a personal touch, and a guarantee that I know they will stand behind. I would recommend them to any of our friends for sure.

Agatha, thank you for sharing so much about your wedding and joy with John!  I’m sending you both all the best wishes for a happy, casual, fun, loving and motorbike-filled marriage.  To see more photos and joy from their local, independent-minded, wedding, head over to this post at Hazelnut Photography.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Non-Floral Invitation Inspiration

Raise your hand if your male partner loves flowers. Anyone? Anyone? (Bueller?)

That's what I thought.  I mean, my partner certainly appreciates them (I've surprised him with flowers on a few occasions) but he probably wouldn't put them on his list of design inspirations.  So if half(ish) of the population is less-than-inspired by flowers, then why the heck are there so many floral-motif wedding invitations?  Honestly, the frilly girly stuff drives me nuts, even when it's beautifully designed, because it's like announcing "she really wants you at HER special day. Come join us for flowers and her big white wedding!"

Okay, I'm being a bit harsh.  Floral-motif invitations aren't nearly as dire as the awful drag-him-down-the-aisle cake topper.  In fact, I like quite a few of them.  And they're great if you both love flowers.  But I'm also excited to see the wedding invitation world expanding from bows and ribbons into interesting design options that can fully incorporate hers and his' aesthetic sensibilities (or hers/hers, his'/his', or any partner combination in which there might be aesthetic disagreement). 

And I'm particularly excited when a couple moves beyond paper-and-envelope invitations and uses design to be entirely reflective of who they are as a couple:

click image to enlarge for full awesomeness

Agatha designed the invitation herself to look like a jiffy lube door hanger coupon.  It may not sound immediately romantic, but Agatha and John met while racing motorbikes together, so it had definite swoon-worthy overtones for the two of them. And it was the perfect invitation for a motorbike themed wedding taking place at Smog Shoppe, a converted smog check center that's now one of Los Angeles' most popular green (LEED certified) event locations. 

This invitation was only one of at least eighty things I love about their celebration.  Check back next week for more about Agatha and John's creative, independent-minded Los Angeles wedding.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eco-Logical Art Gallery (Weekend Fun and Venue Option)

One aspect of this city that I love is the thriving art gallery scene.  Yeah, we have some world class contemporary art museums and some decent antiquities, but something about the diffuse, eclectic, and (at times) terrifyingly lonely nature of this crazy place breeds incredible creative energy.  Another aspect of this city that I love is the urban renewal and community-centered development that seems to be gaining traction in the public consciousness and in mainstream political discussions.

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to experience both at a forward-thinking, accessible-yet-edgy, art gallery event in our local neighborhood, the Pico Corridor. (The LA Times' neighborhood mapping project lumps us into Mid-Wilshire and Mid-City, but Metromix started to get the real neighborhood right when it highlighted some of the great restaurants in walking distance of my house.) The Pico Corridor is a clear beneficiary of urban and artistic neighborhood-based revitalization, and the local Eco-LogicalART gallery capitalizes on that energy while also helping to further the local scene.

The event on Saturday was part of Eco-Logical's Second Saturday series, which unveils new recycled vinyl billboard art and has live eco-art demonstrations (I saw metalwork and jewelry making), a general gallery show of local and ecologically minded artists, music, libations, functional art sale (we got a clock) and the Kogi BBQ taco truck

Peter Schulberg, the gallery's founder, came up with the idea to develop a fine art line featuring original art painted on recycled billboard vinyl. It turns out that billboards are tossed into landfills by the ton weekly and that heavy vinyl covered in thick impregnable ink is an environmental nightmare. So Eco-logical takes the indestructible nature of the advertising vinyl and turns it into an asset. Schulberg has distributed the vinyl for use by local artists on smaller stretched canvasses and then displays their work on the outside walls of his gallery. (Since it’s repurposed from billboards, the art is ideal for use in outside spaces).  The gallery itself features a mix of fine art (canvasses and sculpture) and functional art from repurposed materials. Eco-logicalART also supports LAUSD classes and other youth enrichment workshops and is currently working on the GIMME SHELTER ART! art and eco education project in which kids will repurpose the billboards for donated bus shelter installations around Los Angeles.

Oh yeah, and the art was pretty great too.  It makes me warm and fuzzy when the mission AND the actual outcome are so inspiring. 

So why mention Eco-LogicalArt on a Los Angeles wedding blog?  Well, I can think of several tie-ins:
  • Put it on your "great stuff around town" directory for out-of-towners
  • Rent it out for your rehearsal dinner
  • Rent it out for your wedding 
I spoke with Schulberg about his gallery vision and and his uses for the space, and asked if it was available to rent. His paraphrased response: "Of course.  It would work best for a cocktail event and we'd need to leave the art up, but sure.  I guess it would run about $700?"

In other words it has reasonable and negotiable prices, it's already decorated, it's centrally located, it's a community arts and eco-friendly non-profit, and it would be petty much ideal as a cocktail or adult reception event space.  Also, Peter said there's a larger gallery space that's connected to his, which might work for a sit-down reception.  Oh, and after you and your friends drink too much at the cocktail (or dinner) reception, you could head down the street to Roscoe's for some late night chicken and waffles.  Yes please.
  • Upcoming "Second Saturday at Eco-LA" billboard premieres: November 14, December 12, and January 9.  New billboard unveiling at 7pm, event through 10pm
  • General gallery hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm and by appointment
  • Location: 4829 W. Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90019 (2 blocks East of La Brea)
  • Contact: 310-525-0676
  • Website:


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

But, Since I'm Not Rock and Roll...

... maybe I can be a little bit badass with my rustic-girl styling?

As a kid, the only thing I knew about weddings was that veils were awful and I'd want a flower in my hair (I was an opinionated little feminist who was already indignant about bridal veil origins.)  I may not think veils are awful anymore, but I'm still pro-flower.  And, over the last several years, I've developed a serious crush on succulents: They're the only plants I haven't killed yet, plus they're so structurally and visually interesting. Also, despite the current rain, Los Angeles is a desert and, unfortunately, most of the popular wedding flowers are decidedly not desert blooms.  

I said I wanted a local wedding.  So... succulents for my hair?  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wishing I Were More Rock and Roll

I'm unbelievably excited about our developing plans for a rustic blowout bash, but part of me definitely wishes we could (also) have an urban loft all night dance party wedding. Or that we were badass enough to pull of a surprise wedding with a dance party that looks like an urban loft all night extravaganza (even if it happened in a Costa Mesa backyard).

So, do you think we can get this rock and roll style in a brick building set in the Malibu Canyons? We've never been the cool kids, but we like to party like them, so maybe our energy can fool everyone for the night?  And maybe Feather Love Photography can capture us getting down with complete club-style revelry too?

I love Noa's photos.  It's like the wedding dance party joy is bursting out of each photo.

Venue Found

We found a venue, and it's perfect for us.  However, because a slightly unorganized non-profit owns the space and they don't have a calendar yet for 2011, we don't really have the venue. They told us to reserve the space now and come back in a year to request a contract.  So, until our contract is signed, I'm being a bit protective of our find.  In the meantime, here's what I can tell you:
  • It's in one of the Malibu canyons with views over rolling hills (no ocean views, but I like mountains and trees better anyhow).  You wouldn't know you were anywhere near Los Angeles, and yet we also have all the city's amenities right at our fingertips
  • We can have the ceremony and reception at the same location. Yeah for convenient and eco-friendly.
  • The outdoor views are stunning and the indoor space is authentically rustic and charming.  If an event stylist got ahold of the location, it would no doubt be gussied up like a so-called Anthropologie-themed affair.  When I get ahold of it, my mishmash of thrifted low key decor ideas should work nicely.
  • The event fees will go to support a number of community programs, including scholarships for local kids to participate in art and enrichment programs.
  • There are some restrictions (beer and wine only, no open flames outside, Sunday reception music shuts down by 10pm) but overall, they're pretty laid back.
  • 150 should fit well for a reception + dance party.  More than that and I think the space might be too cramped.
  • It's affordable.  Like HIGH FIVE NOW ALL MY OBSESSIVE GOOGLE RESEARCH REALLY WORKED OUT levels of affordable. Like, the site manager actually said to me that they strive to make things affordable and can't imagine wanting to exploit people at an emotionally vulnerable time (she mentioned weddings and funeral/memorials) for economic gain.  
  • Deer greeted us as we drove out.  Deer!
  • We got the "Yes, we belong here" feeling the moment we arrived.
Is is everything I ever imagined from a wedding venue?  Yes and no.  When I started this research process I know I wanted an indoor-outdoor venue (I've always wanted to get married outside and didn't want a mid-event schlep). I knew we needed a handicapped-accessible venue (so nothing too rustic). I knew we wanted to bring out own caterer and booze.  I knew our budget was tight (well below the local average). And I knew we wanted a rocking all night dance party.  Did we get all of that?  Yes, mostly.  I've compromised on the convenience (it's no where near a hotel and we'll probably need to add shuttles to our budget) and on the booze (beer and wine only).  And I guess that a Sunday night party won't be the most rocking dance party ever, especially if the music shuts down at 10pm (but the party will absolutely continue at the hotel with out of town friends).  However, those issues feel tiny now and I'm just feeling ecstatic about our future wedding location.  (Added bonus: the location has a lot of personal significance for me and J.) 

Check back in a year or so for the full listing of information and photos.  But from now until then, I'll be working to share all the other great affordable venue options I found around the city, because I'm tired of the year-long google insanity we each need to go through here in L.A. to find something that's affordably priced. I found a ton of great places that don't show up on Here Comes the Guide, Project Wedding or the Knot.  Now that my own venue search is over, it seems almost seems wasteful that I file the information away on my personal computer instead of putting it into a coherent, searchable form that can benefit other local couples. 

If you have an amazing local venue find that you want to share, leave me a note in the comments or email me at alosangeleslove at gmail dot com.  I'm starting to pull together local venue search resources for those of us without $5K to spend on an empty room and would love your input too.

View from Malibu Canyon - It's not our exact site, but it's just a few miles away and has a similar landscape

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dress Style Questions

One of the issues with having eclectic personal style tastes is my complete inability to decide what feels right for my wedding attire. Things I know: I want a lightweight dress (so I can dance) I want something well-made that flatters the body I have (tall, pear-shaped, small shoulders, pale), I want a dress without a long train (our site is a bit rustic and a train would get in the way), I want the dress to have visual interest (via color, layering, material, shape, etc), I hate the idea of crystal and beading (I am not a chandelier), I prefer sweetheart or v-neck cuts over basic strapless dresses (uniboob?  um, no thanks) and if possible it would be great if I could re-wear it or re-sell it after the wedding (I refuse to believe a dress this expensive has only a one-day life.)  And so, here is my dress style brainstorm as I try to figure out what on earth I'm looking for in my wedding attire.  None of these dresses necessarily fit my budget requirements, but at least they're aesthetically interesting options that can help direct my search.

Simple and Modern: I like the idea of a simple, non-froofy dress with a focus on quality cut, material, and simplicity.  I could emphasize accessories (that I can wear again) over the dress (which I probably can't). If I went for simple and modern, I'd want something light, airy, danceable and without a train (since I could absolutely trip myself up, because kltuzy is how I roll.) My favorite simple dress design ideas have been coming from Nicole Miller and Jenny Yoo and similar design houses.

Jenny Yoo Abigail

Nicole Miller Dress via Tiffany and Ian's Wedding on Budget Savvy Bride

Pronovias form fitting lace: I lived in Spain for a few years, so I think this is some weird version of nostalgia and not actually my real style inclination. I blame my girlfriend for taking me along during her wedding dress search in Madrid in which Pronovias was heavily featured. The dresses are beautifully designed, but a whole lot more big-dress-weddingy than I typically like.

Rosabella Pronovias via

Sleek hippie: my high school style might have been described as confused hippie, because I never quite got it right. I have since learned from my bellbottoms and hemp jewelry phase and like a more refined organic look now, such as those I've seen at the English Dept and Claire Pettinone.

 The English Dept's Ghost Dress via her Etsy Shop

Claire Pettibone Marlene

Fun, colorful, and a little bit surprising: because it's a party darnit.  And I like bursts of color. This was the first ever wedding dress that got me genuinely excited about wedding dresses because I finally realized there was an option besides poofy a-line and destination-style chiffon.

This dress then led to my love affair with all Wai-Ching colored dresses

Wai Ching Eucalyptus in Green and Pink via Flickr

Vintage: Even though I'm not usually a vintage style girl, I love the idea of a re-worn, re-loved dress. Generally, however, vintage dresses don't fit (I'm too tall and my waist isn't 27 inches).  Also, I like the idea of tea length (to emphasize the re-wearable cute shoes and so I don't get tangled in my dress) but my body is pear shaped, so poof down below makes me nervous, as if I'm highlighting less attractive areas instead of working to emphasize my favorite features.

Dress via Los Angeles' Timeless Vixen

Custom Vintage Recreations: I want want this Whirling Turban dress. Wantwantwant.  I love the material, the styling has a modern look to it, I love the peek of color, and I would start the wedding off right, with a nod to fun-over-formal from the first moment.  Is it my wedding dress?  I'm not sure.  But I want it.

 Whirling Turban Petal Bust Bodice Dress

No, I have absolutely no idea what to go with.  I am lost, LOST, as to what I want my dress to look like.  They are all vastly different styles and price points.  Each has pros and cons and I find myself unable to self-edit and settle on any particular style.  I have very particular aesthetic sensibilities that nontheless appreciate a wide range of options.  Did anyone else have this much trouble?

Sigh.  I haven't even begun to address my ethical and budgetary shopping requirements.  I'm first trying to figure out the style focus.  

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fun: LA-based Music Video I Like

Happy Friday everyone!  It's been a long week, and I just wanted to celebrate the (nearly here) weekend with a creative, low-budget, high-impact, Los Angeles-based music video. (Kinda like my wedding's going to be.)  Actually, this video isn't wedding related at all, but it's a delightful stop motion/time lapse video filmed throughout Los Angeles and featuring one of my favorite bands. The song's actually a jaded look at Las Vegas, but the clever visuals and the views from Mullholland made me smile and, today, that's enough for me. 

Death Cab for Cutie - Little Bribes from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

Have a great weekend.  If you don't have plans and you're in the area, I'd suggest this for Saturday night: heck yeah for recycled billboard art, libations, live demos and hands-on art projects.  But whatever you do, get out and enjoy Los Angeles (or wherever you live).