Saturday, August 20, 2011

How My Wedding Dress Is Like My Future Husband

Mr. Kettle promised not to look at my wedding dress. Do you know what that means hive? Hold that thought...

Back to what I was saying. Hive, today is the day I confirm all your suspicions. I will reveal, to much fanfare, but not much surprise, my dress!

It's such a special dress. It's made for women who are either very short or very tall. Seriously, if you're 5'4"-5'8", I can't even imagine how you'd pull this off unless you have some unconventional torso-leg proportions.

I've loved this dress since the moment we put down the first down payment. Even though almost every dress I tried on looked good, this one was exceptional.

When I went for my veil consultation/size-for-ordering-confirmation, I was dying to try on the sample for my dress again. There were two other brides there. They were both trying on dresses. Again. Like, for the second and third time. Perhaps it's the indecisive person in me, but I'd never put down money on a wedding dress that I wasn't sure about.

If I were anything less than completely sure, I'd be guaranteed to be like them. I'd be back in the shop, trying on another 20 dresses. To me it's like finding a husband. You don't stop trying on dresses until you've found THE ONE. And then once you've found it, you're done. You stop shopping because you've found your heart's desire. You don't do this:

Image: India Times / Photo via Getty Images
Even if you come across others dresses you could possibly love, they end up not being enough. You don't even want to try them on. If you don't feel like this about a dress, keep looking. Of course, if you wait too long to find a dress or have an extra short engagement, the rules change.

Just like I knew almost right away my fiance was the one, I knew the same thing about this dress. And unlike a living breathing person, my dress is just waiting for me to take it home (or will be in December). Did I mention I love my wedding dress? It is unconventional, but it makes me feel like a bride like nothing else I tried on. Kind of like how Mr. Kettle makes me feel like a wife like no guy I've ever dated.

Without further ado, my dress!

Image: JA #8465 / Dress by Justin Alexander
Image also via Justin Alexander / Don't you just looooooove the detail on the bodice? And I love cummerbunds. If the guys wouldn't wear one, I certainly would!

Friday, August 19, 2011

When I Get All Steamed Up Hear Me Shout!

Okay, so maybe I've been dying to include all the lyrics from "I'm A Little Teapot" somewhere. I'm Miss Kettle and I'm quirky. Forgive me hive, I just can't help myself. So, what is a shouting-and-steamed-up teapot referring to? Music of course!

One of the best things about marrying a musician is the direct benefits to my ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. We are having, wait for it, three different sets of musicians. We're going to have a string trio for our ceremony, a jazz trio for our cocktail hour, and a DJ for our reception. It's going to be amazing.

The day Mr. Kettle announced our engagement on Facebook, he asked who would play at our wedding for free and several people responded. He was joking, but he definitely took them up on their offer.

The DJ is a friend of his who's soooo good down in St. Louis. He'll be coming in for our wedding. He's spinning for us as a wedding gift. Also, we're having three musician friends of Mr. Kettle's playing live jazz music during our cocktail hour. They also offered to play as a wedding gift.

The string quartet for the ceremony didn't offer to pay for free, but they are doing a reduced price for us. Winning!

Music is something that's very important to me for our big day and I feel so blessed that I am able to have these things that are a high priority for me while still having budget money available for other things, like flowers!

This is what I imagine for our wedding music.

Image: Palmetto Strings String Trio Photo

Image: Scottsdale Music and Entertainment

Image: Outer Banks Video DJs

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Choosing An Engagement Party Venue

In my last post, I talked about our search for the perfect venue for our engagement party. Because I'm a weirdo, I do things backwards.
Image: Vista PEAK

Or maybe, I'm just a rebel.

Personal Photo
Whichever it is, the point is that I don't do things as expected. The perfect example is this engagement party venue. We spent waaaaaay more time searching for a venue for this than we did for the wedding. We looked at three places for the wedding, and I chose almost immediately.

But we agonized over the engagement party. Momma Kettle and I looked online for a number of places. Then we decided to hit the pavement. Her friends gave her suggestions. We went to 21st and State to a lovely restaurant that looked perfect but is closed. So no free publicity silly closed restaurant that looked perfect.

Next we went to 21st and Michigan to a club/museum that was supposed to be a great option for an outdoor venue. I'm sorry, but you're not an outdoor venue and shouldn't advertise yourself as such if 85% of your outdoor area is mulch and another 10% is ceramic pavement and the last 5% is bushes.

Now hive, y'all know how I feel about people not handling their business.

Personal Photo of thinly veiled displeasure
Moving on. A friend of my mother's mentioned the South Loop Hotel. We couldn't find it (ahem... because she couldn't remember the address). So we gave up and headed south on State toward my apartment. Then we passed by it and did a quick u-turn to check it out.

It looked like my style, which I can't really explain. But it's a cross between classic and modern with an odd quirk thrown in.

 So, we went in to check out the grand ballroom my mother had been told about over the phone when she called earlier in the week. Except... there was no grand ballroom. There were only medium sized meeting rooms. We ended up strolling around the hotel just to see what they had to offer. We took note of their flower shop for later. I had finally saw an arch there I didn't hate with a visceral passion, so it was worth noting.

Then we stumbled across the restaurant in the hotel. And it was love at first sight.

Image: The Gloss
We strolled around the restaurant and the woman who happens to book private events there came out to talk to us. A hundred quick questions from my mother and I later and we were ready to put down money on the place.

I called Mr. Kettle to check to see if he wanted to see the place first. When I told him where it was, he said he knew that place and actually had just gotten a gig there for the next night (well that's the sum total of what happened in short version). I know you're dying to see/hear what the place is. So without further ado....

Personal photo: This is a shot of the main dining room. Not where we had the party, but definitely the first thing that caught my eye when we walked in.

Personal photo: more of the main dining room. Funky, but classic, no?

Personal photo: This is the entrance to the private room where we had the party. Something about this room just called to me as I approached it.

Personal photo: Even just looking super regular on a Wednesday afternoon, it looked perfect to me. Not much would have to be done to this space, thank God!

Personal photo: Gotta love the visual interest on the ceiling. And the window dressing were great too.

Personal photo: Close up of that fabulous ceiling. Love the colors, candles, etc.

Personal photo: What people would see as they're walking into the place toward our private room.

Personal photo: The bathrooms. Can you see the leather couch and mirror? Even this area is well-decorated.

Personal photo: Lounge area up front. As we spread out into the restaurant to cool down, this space really came in handy.

Personal photo: Right inside the entrance. As we were leaving, I kept turning back to take photos. Did I mention I love this restaurant?
We're having our engagement party at the L26 Restaurant in their private room in the back. Momma Kettle and I stayed for dinner and the food is fantastic. Since then, we've been back twice for Mr. Kettle's gigs. His birthday was one of those days so his parents and mine joined us and the food is really really really good. And the price really makes us happy.

I was so excited for this location. And it really turned out well. I'm looking forward to my post about the party.

Were you more excited for your venue for your e-party than your wedding reception? Did planning the e-party go smoothly?

RSVP Karma Worry

I've been very worried about how RSVPs will go for all our wedding events because of two people, namely my mother and my fiance. Momma Kettle and Mr. Kettle are both.. RSVP-delinquents. Seriously, hive, they never never RSVP. I just knew this would cause a catastrophe for our wedding-related events because that's how karma works.

Many a bride have had to track down my momma to ask about attendance at a wedding for my mother only to respond, "I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know next week." And to my knowledge Mr Kettle has never RSVP'd to a wedding he wasn't a musician at.

In dramatic fashion, I've been drawing the back of my hand to my forehead and sighing worriedly that no one will RSVP to our events. Don't worry, I knew they'd come, I just figured we'd never be able to get an accurate head count ahead of time.

Our e-party invites had gone out and on them people were asked to either call/text my mother with their RSVP or go to our wedding website and do it.

There have been all types of responses. A couple called/texted my mom and a couple went to our website. But oh, there were others.

There were rebels.

Personal Photo
One of our friends RSVP'd through Facebook on Mr. Kettle's wall. And he wanted to bring a plus one. Mr. Kettle had to inform him that he wasn't getting a plus one for our e-party or any other wedding event.

That's rough to say, but if we're not inviting family members and close friends of our own, we certainly don't have room for extra random people two and three degrees of separation away.

I think the rules of plus ones are pretty simple. Spouses, children living in the house, significant others in years-long relationships, those who live together, and engaged peoples. The one exception to this is if someone is invited who knows no one there other than the bride or groom.

Wedding Planning Tip #6: Don't forget to put a date by which you want people to RSVP!! I forgot to do that. Luckily, we only needed a head count 3 days before the event. Luck was on my side with this. I won't make that mistake again, trust me.

We had way more people show up to our e-party than we had RSVPs for. It wasn't a big deal because it was just a cocktail party. But I was right about the bad RSVP karma. I just hope we have enough pre-wedding events to use up all the karma so we're back in neutral by the time December rolls around. Wish us luck.

Does anyone else have RSVP worries? Any brides have to track down invitees?

Bridesmaid Dress Stress, But A Solution Arises

In my last post, I left off with ominous words. Yes, we left David's Bridal and headed to Eva's Bridal. This wasn't the Eva's Bridal in Tinley Park where I bought my dress. This was the Eva's Bridal in Orland Park. They had dresses and were up the street, so we figured we'd check them out so the day wouldn't be a total waste.

After the magic with the first dresses, I didn't think we'd find it again. But I went through the same routine nonetheless:
1. Have the girls pick out dresses they all seriously like.
2. Veto the ones I hate on sight.
3. Have them try on the dresses they picked.
4. Have other girls try on dresses as I decide they work on each successive girl.

We changed it this time and made Step #3 "make sure the dress is available in our color choice." We looked at all the purples and ultimately chose that same blue-ish purple color we now know is called Regency.

I didn't have high hopes that we'd find yet another dress that looked amazing on every girl. They're just too different. They have seriously different body types. Kind of like this.

Image: Keen Eye Style post on Body Types
 We did manage to find something that worked. After trying on a number of dresses...
Personal Image: MOH Sis trying on a great satin dress and looking super tiny. I really didn't like the dip in the back though.

Personal Image: BM Law trying on another great satin number. Can you tell I was trying to stick with satin at this point? And who doesn't love pockets?
Personal photo: sorry for the skinny photo. I had to crop out half-naked MOH Sis. Apparently, not wearing pants runs in the family.

Personal Image: BM Libra trying this one on. Still cute. At this point I'm thinking maybe my commitment to satin isn't so firm.

Personal Image: BM Law trying it on too. Still cute! I was pretty much sold at this point. I just needed the girls to okay it.
This A-line, floor length was really the ticket, even though they all have great legs. The surprise to me was the empire waist. I figured a natural waist would be more universally flattering. I don't care about being wrong because this dress is just fabulous.

Here's the dress we ended up deciding on that day.
Image: BIll Levkoff #537
We're getting it, of course, in Regency.
Personal photo: Regency is the one all the way to the left.
 This dress is all over weddingbee, much like my wedding dress. It's because it's awesome and fits a variety of body types. Momma Kettle worried that putting my bridesmaids in a dress longer than mine (dress hint!) would be backwards, but I figured it would be okay.

We let the jr. bridesmaids also try on dresses though we knew at this point we'd just get them the coordinating dress.

Image: Bill Levkoff #53702
Personal photo: This looks too much like an overgrown flower girl dress in my opinion, I wanted my girls to look like young ladies.
Personal photo: Even worse. I just had to show this photo of when bustles go wrong.
So we were all set, right? Not even close. I don't want to get into all of it here so I will gloss over the details, but just know that this whole situation made me bury my head in the sand for a few days and not answer phone calls or texts from my girls for a few days until they worked it out amongst themselves.

The price was an issue. BM Law expressed on behalf of some of the other ladies that they couldn't afford the price at Eva's. After some drama in which she ended up apologizing for speaking for people out of place, we settled it. They really wanted this particular dress, so they would make it happen.

I had already talked to each of my girls about what they could afford, but I ended up finding the dresses for much cheaper at >House of Brides online.  If we order them all together, we'll save a bundle on shipping and insurance. So I'll be collecting everyone's money this week and ordering the dresses.

Our bridesmaid dresses will be here by mid-December. Mima Kettle just informed me the flower girls dresses have arrived (let's pray those 5 years olds don't grow too much in the next 6 months!). Now we just have to find 7 more dresses and we're done.

What 7 more you ask? 3 dresses for my hostesses. One for Momma Kettle, Grandmother Kettle, Mima Kettle, and FSIL Grand. They're very important ladies in this whole thing too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trying To Clothe The Kettle Ladies

I didn't want to make a big production of finding bridesmaid dresses. I had my maid of honor and Easy's maid of honor look online for the last month or so. We found a couple of great options. David's Bridal seemed to be the place to go to in order to fit into a certain price range and style selection. I made an appointment for a Wednesday when most everyone was available.

My maid of honor, MOH Indy, lives in NYC, so she wasn't available. But Easy's maid of honor, his sister was available. As were her twin daughters who are our flower girls. Also available were all my bridesmaids except one. Our two junior bridesmaids were also there to try on dresses. Throw in my mother, Easy's mother and sister, and we have a group of 14 females, only 4 of whom weren't trying on a single dress.

It was so much more fun than you could imagine. I was going around ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the pretty dresses and taking pictures. The flower girls didn't want to take off their "princess dresses".
Personal Image: Vera Wang shoes that we still drool over in memory.

Personal Image: BM Shorty trying on a dress I'd love if it didn't look like it was trying to be a one-shoulder gown.

Personal Image: One of the twin flower girls looking adorable in a princess gown.

Personal Image: BM shorty in yet another that didn't make the cut. Just too much... everything.

Personal Image: both twin flower girls in more pretty dresses. The one on the left is the one we ended up going with.

Personal Image: JB Cousin trying on a possible jr. bridesmaid dress, right color, but not quite perfect.

Personal Image: FNIL Tiny trying on another jr. bridesmaid dress contender. I was feeling this one since we were leaning toward satin at first.

Personal Image:  BM Law trying on a nice dress that I loved more for the cummerbund waist than anything else.

Personal Image: BM Libra looking good in everything she puts on, as usual. I really liked this one, so we had our coordinator round up some more of this in everyone's size.

Personal Image: BM ATL, with whom we hadn't been having much luck, looked super cute in this one too.

And then something magical happened.
Image: Magic Desktop Wallpaper via Wallpapers Desktop DiQ

Somehow, one dress looked great on every single bridesmaid. And it just so happened that the only 2 who weren't there look good in literally everything they wear.

I was so excited. They didn't have my color swatch match though, major color fail. I thought of the Thank You wreath I'd worked so hard on. But then I realized this dress looked good on every single bridesmaid. I had achieved something that should have been unachievable with that many girls, so I focused on what really mattered in that moment. I asked for all the options in purple.
Personal Image: All the options in purple.

Our coordinator went to get the swatches and we picked this lovely color that looked like a rich purple but photographed kind of blue. That made me super excited because blue is the color I originally wanted.

I had all the ladies pose for one giant photo as proof that they truly all rocked the dress. I could see it in that great purple-y blue color. I was already editing invitations and color schemes. It would epic! It would legen-wait-for-it...-dary!
Personal photo: even ill-sized and wrong-colored, they all look fabulous!

And then...

Image: Luke Himself

Our happy parade came to a screeching halt. She informed us she was mistaken about the dress being available in that color. The only options were a horrific burgundy color and this other dusty de-saturated purple-y shade.

I was immediately ready to leave the store. She apologized too many times and I told her we were going down the street to Eva's Bridal. We will still be getting our flower girls' dresses from there though, since they would coordinate perfectly with my dress.

We went to another store where things only got worse. I thought the dress shopping would be hard because of all the different body types. But nope, it was something else entirely.

This post by no means should reflect poorly on David's Bridal. The dress had just been changed to unavailable in my color a day or two before our appointment. And anyone who can deal with the dress flurry fury we presented with deserves a big hug or a cookie or maybe even some sort of award.

Researching Venues for Engagement Party

Trying to find the perfect location for our engagement party seemed like a big deal, but only to me and Momma Kettle. Grandmother Kettle kept reminding me that she'd never been to an engagement party before so she didn't see the big deal.

I reminded her she'd just never been invited to one before, so that wasn't quite the same thing as it being some made-up newfangled party for Mr. Kettle and I.

I do think my mother and I made it more difficult on ourselves than we had too though. We went through several idea before we settled on one that worked.

Image: Maggiano's  /
Here Comes The Guide
Plan: Sit-Down Dinner At a Restaurant; like Maggiano's in Chicago

Why It Seemed Great: Imagine that picture except for an engagement party instead of a wedding reception. All of our family gathered for the type of food Chicagoans constantly drool over.

Why It Didn't Work: The cost is ridiculous for just the "appetizer" of our wedding events. And the environment is a bit too... stuffy... for the type of party we wanted to have ultimately. We envisioned our people having a great time hanging out, not being forced to stay in their seats for a plated dinner.

Image: G.R. N'Namdi Gallery
Plan: Art Gallery or Outdoor Venue

Why It Seemed Great: Easy loves places that look "industrial", like the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery in Chicago. Plus we could use our own caterer and decorations and music...

Why It Didn't Work: and liquor license... and linens... and tables... and chairs... and the costs began too add up a bit too much. It seemed that we at least needed a place that already had a liquor license as well as tables and chairs to accommodate what is turning out to be a wedding full of intimate parties for 100-300 people. Sigh.

Metromix Chicago /
Page for Andy's Jazz Club
Plan: Jazz or Blues Club, like Andy's Jazz Club in Chicago

Why It Seemed Great: Easy is a jazz musician. My mother and I were dying to incorporate that into the wedding somehow. These places have tables and chairs and are setup for live music, which is perfect for what we were once envisioning.

Why It Didn't Work: The cost for these places had to cover them losing business for that day. And we weren't prepared to cover costs for that much money. We'd have to have the party on Wednesday afternoon to afford it.

So we finally ended up with.... drum roll please... I'll just explain in the next post, lol.