Saturday, July 31, 2010

What We're Doing This Weekend

Lest you think all I do is sit around writing recaps, we're actually out enjoying life this weekend!  So instead of a wedding recap today, I'm going to give you a different kind of recap.

Right now, we're in Warrens WI enjoying a weekend of camping with family and friends.  Every year since I was a little girl, we've spent 10 days at Yogi Bear in Warrens.  It has always been with the same group of people, and it's always been the same week every year.  Over time we've added more people, and the park has definitely changed, but one thing that hasn't changed is the great time we always have.

Our camping group consists of about 60 people, and it's always growing when you add into the mix husbands, children, girlfriends, and friends.  None of them are actually related to me, but they're all related to each other.  Remember my bridesmaids Brittany and Brianna (the cousins?)...
 (personal photo from 2006)
 It's their entire family.  They're what I like to consider my extended family.  They were also ALL invited to my own wedding.  That was one of the reasons our guest count climbed up above 300.  Mr. T didn't really get it at first, but after spending more time with them than my own family, he gets it now.  Lucky him, he had the pleasure of learning all of my family's names AND all of theirs.  He still doesn't get who belongs to who, and how they're all related.  (We've started adding in family members from other sides of the family.  Like for example, Britt's aunt's brother and wife and kids.  They're not actually related to Britt.)  So the group just keeps on growing.

But anyways, hopefully I haven't confused you too badly.  When we were growing up, it was always 10 full days of beach, sun, water, volleyball, swimming, and dances.  Now, as we're all growing up not everyone can make the full trip anymore.  So all of us youngins come and go on the weekends and it's usually the grown ups who are there the whole week because they can afford to take off a week stretch.  It's definitely changed some, but it's just as fun.  Now our weekends are full of different games like beer pong, and flip cup, and drinking around the fire.  But we still go to the dances every weekend, and head down to the beach to work on our tans.

So that's what I'll be doing this weekend.  Hope you'll all be having fun as well!

I'll end with some of my favorite pictures from the last couple of years.  These first few are from the summer of 2006.
We put together a little act for the talent show one year.  The singer of the group needed a little back up act for her performance.  Needless to say, we won first place and some free pizza!

This was a fun little dice game called "Mexican"  It involved lots of tequila shots.  This was the summer after my senior year when I was finally allowed to drink with the older kids.  Great parenting huh?  Although, did you WI it's legal to drink underage when you're with your parents?

We're not too old to take pictures with Yogi Bear!

The following pictures are from the summer of 2007.
With some of my favorites, watching a friendly game of beer pong.

And speaking of beer pong, this was the summer that it all started.  It has now become a staple at all family functions, including Christmas!

The year before, we snuck into a building that housed all the water balloons used at the Water Wars station, and stole a couple bags of water balloons.  Just in case you were wondering, each bag had 10,000 water balloons.  We're still using them years later.  The summer, we filled as many as we possibly could, and loaded them in tupperware containers and laundry baskets, and anything else we could find.  We put them all on a flat trailer that usually carries four wheelers, and we took off through the park, throwing water balloons at innocent people on the road and at their campsites.  We made it all the way down to the beach before we got yelled at.  Now the boys just launch them out into the beach or straight up in the sky trying to catch them on the way down.  Do you have any idea how much a water balloon hurts coming out of a launcher?  It leaves bruises.

We had a full out, four course fitness competition between these two guys.  They made a bet at Christmas about who could lose the much weight and get in shape, and this was the determining factor.  It included pushups, situps, log holds, and a run.  There's even a video montage.

We always close out the dances with a little version of "Stand By Me" once the DJ stops playing.

Did I mention we do a Margarita Night every year?!  Everyone brings a bottle of tequila, mix, and some strawberries, and we blend up margaritas all night.  We also all bring food and have a big potluck.  Something has to soak up all that booze right?

There are also regular volleyball tournaments.  We even set up spotlights at night and play in the dark.  It gets a little intense.  One year there was even a torn ACL.

Here are a couple from 2008.
Every weekend is a different themed weekend, and this particular one happened to be Halloween.  So the boys "dressed up" to head down to the dance.

A shot of all the girls before starting up Margarita Night.

So as you can see, it's a fun time had by all! It's a great bonding weekend for the kids and the adults, as they all get involved in our drinking games too.  You should see some of these moms play flip cup!

So that's what I'm doing.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I'll see you again Monday for some more wedding recaps!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happily After All: Heading to the Church!

After getting into my dress, and finalizing all of the finishing touches, we were ready to head to the church!
I don't know that I touched on it at all, but we had a bus for the day of the wedding.  My uncle (or ex uncle I suppose) owns a bar in town and has a small mini bus for trips to sports games/driving drunks home/etc.  I asked him if we could use it for our wedding day.  It would fit 13 people and a driver.  It was perfect for the wedding party.
Originally he was going to charge us the family rate of $10/hr and then we just had to fill the tank at the end of the day.  As time went on and I verified times with him, he said we could just have it for free, tip the driver, and fill it up.  What a great deal!
Earlier in the day it picked up the boys from the country club where they dropped their cars off and took them out to the church, and then it turned around and came to get us girls.

So we boarded the bus and had a nice relaxing 20 minute trip out to the church.  It was nice to finally have a breathing moment in the day, and just goof around and laugh with my favorite ladies.
All four are personal photos.

As we were pulling up to the church, we were there about 45 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start.  We had to do some coordinating so that Mr. T and I didn't run into each other.
We stepped off the bus and headed inside.  Mr. T was hiding in the kitchen of the fellowship hall.  While he stayed in there, I hopped into the bathroom, and then he left, and I headed in.  It's such a small church so it was a little tricky making sure that we didn't cross paths.
The girls and I hung around inside until it was ready to get lined up.  We had some fun chatting and taking pictures.  At this point, I made my little heartfelt speech to them.  I told them I had intended to write them each a letter about how much they meant to me and how glad I was to have them in my life, but that I didn't get to it!  So I told them instead, and it was just as nice.
(personal photo)
This is my favorite from in there.  It shows a great shot of the belts I made to accent the dresses.  Aren't these girls gorgeous?

While we were all hiding out in the kitchen, things were starting to happen outside!
The boys were playing around...
My dad was helping people find their way...
Guests were starting to arrive...
And my future hubby was saying his hellos...

And then before I knew it, it was time to start lining up.  But first I want to show you my favorite pre-ceremony picture.  Even though Mr. T and I weren't doing a first look, I still wanted to get a picture of us together before we were married.  So while I was in the bathroom and he was coming out of the kitchen, I hollered for Brandy to snap this particular picture.  Mr. T thought it was ridiculous, but I'm so glad we did it!

Next up:  Getting excited, and the wedding processional!

Unless otherwise stated, all pictures are by Brandy Swartz of Photography by Brandy.

In case you've missed anything...
Slipping Into My Dress

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happily After All: Slipping Into My Dress

Sorry about yesterday's slightly depressing post about my flowers.  I promise to be happy and joyful from this point forward =]
After we finished getting ready and all the girls were in their dresses, it was finally time for me to put on my lovely dress.  But first I had Brandy take a few pictures of the dress itself and the cute hanger I ordered from LilaFrances on Etsy.  I just barely got my hanger in time, she is now backed up 8-10 weeks from your time of purchase.  Mine arrived just 3 days before the wedding!
She also clicked a few pictures of my jewelry with my bouquet at this point too.
This is the necklace that I had custom made from Etsy seller Jwhiz.  It also had a matching bracelet.  I talked a little about the process here, but I'm going to be doing in-depth reviews on all of my Etsy purchases when I do my vendor reviews at the end.
Here's the gorgeous peridot ring my mother lent me to wear that day.  Ever since she got it a few years ago it's been one of my favorite rings.  I would steal it from her for weeks at a time to wear.  I figured it was the perfect accessory for my wedding day since it matched our green color perfectly.
And of course, what's a wedding day without your engagement ring??  This is the beautiful, 80+ year old heirloom ring that Mr. T's great grandma originally wore.

And finally, it was time!  At this point we were running so far behind so we were trying to do this as quickly as possible.  I grabbed my bridesmaid Brittany, and my dress and headed downstairs to get started while everyone else was finishing up their final touches.  The best place for me to get my dress on was actually down in the computer room since it was wide open, and had wooden floors without much dog hair on them.  I kind of felt bad that I was starting this without my mom and sister and all the other girls, because you always see pictures of a whole group getting the bride into her dress.  I knew it wasn't going to take that much effort though, and we really had to get going!  They did all join us towards the end though.
I ended up not wearing the corset I originally picked to go under it.  It didn't work out quite right in the neckline, so I went without a bra, and slipped on a cute pair of blue undies as part of my something blue.
It was so great to have the two girls that have been in my life for the longest helping me at this memorable time of the day.  I've actually known Brittany longer than my own sister, so I'm glad she was there with me at this time.
Here's the standard holding the boobs shot.  Had to make sure they were in there good and tight!  And don't worry, I did eventually remember to take off the rubber band that has a permanent spot on my right wrist.
At some point, my veil made it on top of my head like a hat, so that I could see what was going on.
And after what seemed like forever, the dress was finally on!  By then, the bus had already gotten to our house and was waiting to take us to the church.  But I wasn't ready quite yet.  I still had to print out the readings for the ceremony, and make sure I had the programs with me as well.  I managed to forget those though, so my mom brought them when she drove out separately after she finished getting ready.

This was the point when everything finally started to feel real.  I stepped on the bus and realized at that moment that everything that wasn't finished, wasn't going to get finished.  There was nothing else for me to worry about, or run around like crazy trying to get done.  I finally got to relax and live in the moment.  I had a 20 minute bus ride with my best friends to enjoy, and a ceremony in which I would be marrying my husband to look forward to!

Next up:  The bus ride over, and the goings on before the ceremony.

Unless otherwise stated, all pictures are by Brandy Swartz of Photography by Brandy.

In case you've missed anything...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happily After All: The Flowers

I just wanted to take a quick break before we get to my dress!  I mentioned that while we were getting ready, our flowers were dropped off at the house.  The florist delivered all of the bouquets, corsages, boutennieres, and altar flowers to the house.  The centerpiece arrangements were taken directly to the reception hall and set up.
I'm also going to take a minute and talk a little bit about my floral disappointment as well.  I don't mean to take a negative turn, it's just that there are some very specific problems I've wanted to address about our flowers.  Just to give you some background, we picked a very reputable florist in town, and my mom has always raved about their work.  Gloria, the woman that owns the shoppe, and who I worked with, was very nice throughout the entire experience, so don't get me wrong about that.  We met three times before the wedding and each time she was great about working with me and figuring out what I wanted.  She took great notes and wrote down all the specifics I emphasized.  We ran up a bill of about $1200 for everything.  So when you take all of that into account, I feel like I have the right to be upset about a few things.

 Here's a great view of what the altar flowers looked like when they were set up on the altar.  The girls carried them on the bus to the church and we set them up quickly before everyone got there.  The church was an additional 20 minutes from my house, so I told the florist to just deliver them to us instead of having to run all the way out there (which she was willing to do!).  I had the two vases from work and dropped them off to her earlier in the week.  I told her to just make them one sided, because the back wasn't going to be seen later on at the reception.
These were gorgeous.  The only thing I could complain about, is that I very specifically said I don't like leaves and greenery, so I would have expected a little less green filler in these.  Otherwise, I loved them.
This is the corsage that was made for both moms, and I don't contest that they're beautiful.
There are a few problems though.  I told her a couple times, ABSOLUTELY NO orchids.  I am just not a fan of orchids, and I didn't want them worked into our floral "theme"  I'm pretty sure she wrote that down too, and yet I see at least 5 in there.  Second, these were supposed to be on stretchy pearl "bracelets" so they could be worn around their wrist.  That part wasn't included, but I paid for it.  Then there's the tulle thing, which I also said I didn't want used as a filler.  And, they wilted about an hour after the ceremony started.  Mr. T's mom said that her flower totally fell off on the way to the reception.

I decided that we were doing pocket squares for the boys, but I did order a few boutennieres for the grandpas and my godfather.
Not much complaint here, only that the stems weren't wrapped in ribbon as I requested.  Other than that, she did make them exactly how I wanted them with the cluster of button poms and some bear grass loops behind it.

 I also ordered corsages for the grandmothers, godmothers, and our reader.
Again, not a huge problem, but the stems aren't wrapped in ribbon, there is that tulle filler again, and the bow looks like it's made of cheap ribbon.  But they do fall into the flower "theme" and she used the flowers that I requested.

I also ordered a boutenniere for Mr. T.  I didn't want him wearing a green pocket square, but wanted him in white instead.  So I requested a bout made of matching flowers from my bouquet.  That would have been either a peony or ranunculus bud, or a garden rose.  Above is what I got.  The second picture was taken before the ceremony even started.
Granted, the bout may not be pinned on the greatest, but seriously?! Does that look like an attractive boutenniere for a groom to wear?  First of all, it's already wilted!  It isn't wrapped in any sort of ribbon, it's using a plain white rose which I specifically said I didn't want, and quite honestly, it just looks ugly.  In the first picture, it has creepy little pointy things coming off from under it.  It just doesn't look finished.  And what's with the random ribbon loop?

 Here's how the floral centerpieces turned out.  I ordered 15 of them.  When I brought in the vase a couple weeks before the wedding, Gloria told me that we would need to up the price on each of them because she wasn't expecting them to be so big.  I was 100% on board with that.  We discussed them being big round "balls" of flowers sitting on top of the hurricane, and they were to be a mix of green and white.
Now wouldn't you think, when I specifically say that I hate leaves and greenery and filler, that she would have mentioned something about it when we discussed the new price of the centerpieces?  She could have told me at that point that the price she quoted me at included a LOT of leaves, at which point I would have increased the dollar amount to avoid that.  I just don't really get how she came up with this after all of the very specific requests I made.  They're pretty in their own right, but I actually HATED them because of all the greenery that was involved.  It's also hard to tell, but they don't involve any of the garden roses, peonies, ranunculus, etc that I had asked for.  Instead, she used all white carnations for the white flowers.  I told her she could use carnations as filler if needed, but they weren't to be the primary flower.
I would say that out of all the little problems I had along the way, this is ranks 2nd of the top 3.  Everything else I could deal with.  This, not so much.

And now we can move onto the other two main problems I had from the day.

Our bouquets.  The bouquets that just happen to be in all of the pictures, permanently captured to be seen every time I look back at my wedding pictures.
First I'll start with the pretty pictures.  When you look at these, you wouldn't imagine that there were any problems with our bouquets.

(personal photo)
They look great right?! That's what I thought when I first saw them too.  My bouquet was absolutely gorgeous! It was full and beautiful and it had most of the flowers I was hoping for.  She was able to get the garden roses I wanted, and I can see a few ranunculus buds and peonies in there as well.  She even included the last minute addition I made of anemones.  And there was just the right amount of green pop with the button mums.  She made loops under the bouquet with the ribbon like I asked, even though you really can't see it in any of the pictures.  And the rhinestone wraps and brooch I found topped it off.
Even the girls' bouquets look good at first glance.  They were solid green like I was hoping for, and the charms I had made for them were adorable!  But I had a little more problems with the construction of theirs than my own.
Now I'll show you the bad pictures, and then I'll let you in on all the problems.

 Here is my bouquet, immediately after it was delivered to my house.  See that anemone in the bottom right? It's already wilting!  
(personal photos)
This is my bouquet after the ceremony on the way to the reception.  How gross does that look??  That bouquet is visible in all of my formal family pictures and my bride and groom portraits.  The florists response to this?  She had never ordered garden roses before and didn't know that they didn't hold up well once they left water.  Don't you think she would have looked into this before placing an order for a flower she knew nothing about?
And...what's with the creepy random leaves poking through?? Again with the leaves...when I TOLD HER I HATED THEM!  I just don't get it.  I didn't think I was being particularly picky with my order.  It's not like I was expecting her to make an exact replica of anything.  But when someone specifically says NO to something, why would it be included?
 Like I said, the wilting is visible in our pictures, immediately following the ceremony.
And just so you all know, it wasn't like it was 100+ degrees outside.  We kept all of the bouquets in water until immediately before the ceremony, and then they went back into the water before we took pictures.  So tell me how this happens??  It looks like the flowers were made too early in the week and they were already dying before I got them.
 The girls' bouquets were supposed to be wrapped in black so they matched the black accent on their dresses.  Instead, she wrapped a small amount in black, and then covered the majority of it in white.  There is way too much stem exposed as well which you can get a clear picture of in the second photo.  They were supposed to be completely wrapped like my bouquet.  And does that look like a bouquet to you?  To me it looks like a few flowers were grabbed and ribbon was wrapped around them.  I requested for them to be bouquets that were made up of large clusters of hydrangeas as a base with all of the other green flowers mixed into it.  It was going to be a big ball of flower, like mine but on a smaller scale.

Along with the previous problems, she also forgot to include two small arrangements that I ordered for on each bar.  They were paid for and written into the contract, but I didn't receive them.

So, as you can see, this was kind of a lengthy post.  I had originally planned on keeping negativity out of all my wedding recaps, but with this particular topic I couldn't help it.  This was the ONLY thing that went wrong on our wedding day, and it has bothered me for the last two months so I decided it wouldn't hurt to share with you what happened.  I also believe in full disclosure, and feel it's only fair to anyone that may be interested in Mann's Floral Shoppe in Morris, IL to hear my experience.
As of today, nothing has been resolved with this either.  My mom called right after the wedding, but she was told that nothing could be done and that they were "sorry."  Last week I called to try and make an appointment with Gloria while I was back in town for the weekend.  It was the first time I would have been in town since the wedding and I had finally gotten pictures back from Brandy to take with me as proof of what I was talking about.
We played phone tag for a couple days and it ended with her not calling me back so I never had a chance to stop and talk to her.  At one point in the back and forth she left me a long message saying that she had never ordered these flowers before and that she didn't know they didn't hold up and that we could possibly do some sort of refund.  At that point she was only aware of the disappointment I had my bouquet.  I still haven't talked to her about all of the other problems.

I'm afraid that this will be an issue that gets pushed under the rug without ever being resolved.  It's hard to talk about these problems over the phone, and I won't be back in town anytime soon.  I'll let you know though if anything comes of this.

Next up: We'll get back to our regularly scheduled recaps, and you'll see me get into my dress!

Unless otherwise stated, all pictures are by Brandy Swartz of Photography by Brandy.

In case you've missed anything...

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