Saturday, September 3, 2011

Great Hair & Makeup Advice

When I first told my friend who is a Mary Kay consultant as well as my hairstylist about my engagement, they both launched into plans for the wedding. I've read enough posts around the hive to be aware that having a good plan in place ahead of time can save you a lot of hassle in the long run and avert a possibly crisis.

So, hive, I will share with you what these two lovely ladies have told me in hopes that someone else (especially with my type of skin or hair) may benefit from their expertise.

Skin care: My skin type is combination skin. That means I have some areas that are normal, some that are dry, and some that are oily. I've been blessed in the skin department people. I've never had any terrible outbreaks or bad acne, even in puberty. But choosing the right products that make my skin neither dry nor oily has been a delicate balancing act. I use a Dove Bar on my face and skin because it has amazing moisturizers in it. I use Oil of Olay body lotion as well as Palmer's Cocoa Butter. My skin stays smooth and healthy because of it. We also do a number of Mary Kay products that are targeted towards someone in my age range. There's a long list of products I use, But I use them all every day for the most part, in addition to drinking lots of water.

Image: Oil of Olay Lotion via Bzz Agent
Image: Palmer's Cocoa Butter via Oh My Beauty
Image: Mary Kay TimeWise Night Restore Complex
Image: Mary Kay TimeWise Eye Cream
Image: Mary Kay TimeWise 3-in-1 Cleanser
Image: Mary Kay TimeWise Moisturizer
Image: Mary Kay Tinted Moisturizer in Bronze 2
That's a lot o' products for real y'all. We didn't add them all at once. I first tried the lotion back in 2007 and we just added the tinted moisturizer a little over a month ago. NEVER add multiple products at once if you can help it. How else can you identify what's working and what isn't?

Make-up plan: We are doing a classic Mary Kay Color Party for all my bridesmaids and Mr. Kettle's maid of honor MOH Sis. We will each get to play around with makeup colors and get a personally designed color palette for our day of makeup that will be based off our skin tones and the wedding colors. I don't know when in the world we'll get it scheduled, but I'm looking forward to it!

Hair care: My hairstylist has told me that keeping my locs healthy all the time is very important. There's not much we have to do for preparation for the wedding in terms of normal maintenance. But what we are focusing on is hair color. My locs are not my natural hair color. I can play with color a bit more because the hair won't get brittle or break since it's not being combed/brushed. But it is important to keep it from getting too dry. We deep condition my hair so it says a nice color and doesn't end up brassy or faded. She makes her own hair care products and if she gets a website or begins to sell it online, I'll let you know. Anyone in the Chicago area with specific questions, just ask and I'll pass on the info.

Hair plan: We're searching for the perfect hairstyle. But we're also playing with color now so we don't try a dye job two days before the wedding that I hate. Right now my hair is red, but I may want to go more golden brown in February. The plan is to try in out in January in case we need to adjust it lighter or darker.

Wedding Planning Tip #8: Have a real plan in place for your pre-wedding beauty regiment. Please don't shock your skin or hair right before your wedding.

Do you (did you) have a pre-wedding skin and hair care plan? Did it work?

Friday, September 2, 2011

How To Over-Complicate Decisions - First Dance Edition

I'm not a very decisive person. I certainly have my moments where I know right away what I want. That has happened more with this wedding than anything else in my life, which is a relief. However, I do have a problem making firm decisions unless I have a gut reaction.

My gut hasn't had much to say about what our musical selections should be for the wedding, unfortunately. You'd think that because I'm marrying a musician, the choices would be easier, right? Nope! He and I have complimentary, but still quite different tastes in music. We've run across a number of options for our wedding music, but we don't have any choices firmly selected.

I won't go into overkill and talk about ceremony music and all that (at least not yet), but I will talk about our first dance. It's a very important moment in the wedding day for Mr. Kettle and I because we break into dance quite often. We were waltzing, literally waltzing, after his gig at the Bucktown Arts Festival last Saturday. Don't judge us.

We don't want to do a full choreographed dance because that's not our style, but the song choice is of the ultimate importance. Don't ask us if the DJ or the jazz trio will play it because we don't know yet. Want to hear our options we've gone over? Of course you do.

There are these two songs by Brian McKnight on his album href="">Ten that I love. I played it for Mr. Kettle and he loved it too. We thought it would be a good option for our first dance. It basically got ruled out later simply because Mr. Kettle couldn't recall it. Not a good sign for a musician with a great memory. It's really the href="">lyrics to I Do and the href="">lyrics to The Rest of My Life and the pretty music that make it a great first dance candidate though.
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Okay, up next is another song that's tied into href=">when we first decided we would try dating again. It's this song by Mayer Hawthorne called Shiny and New. Again, the music and href="">lyrics really just do it for us.
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There's another I wanted, but Mr. Kettle and I never really discussed it. It's a song by Maxwell call Whenever, Wherever, Whatever. If you've ever heard this song, you know why it'd make a great first dance song. Again, great href="">lyrics and music.
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Currently, the choice we're thinking of going with is a jazz song Mr. Kettle and I can't help but get up and slow dance too if he plays it in our apartment. It's a lovely song by Roy Hargrove called Trust. The melody just makes me feel romantic and very wedding-like.
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The only downside to this selection is that Mr. Kettle feels like it would be a bit, um, on the nose if he, a jazz musician, dances to a jazz song. I saw we should be rebels and do what we want!

Was your first dance song selection a difficult choice? What did you choose? What should we choose?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Best Engagement Party Ever! Part Two

In my last post, I began my recaps of our amazing engagement party. I think I should be able to wrap up the rest in this post.

I already talked about our beyond-fashionably-late entrance, and the setup. Once we arrived and snapped a few photos, the party really got underway. One of our groomsmen, GM Mac, was the DJ. He had his Apple laptop and his Apple iPad.

Personal Image: GM Mac with his iPad
He kept the iPad in his pocket and would whip it out to switch to the next song. We really enjoyed his selections and he played a great mix of songs that everyone, from Hostess High to Grandmother Kettle enjoyed.

Mr. Kettle and I were a bit worried about how well our families would blend. But we should have known that the combination of drinks flowing (yay pseudo open bar!), tasty food, good music, and a limited amount of space would have people mingling.

After we had been there for a while, it was time for toasts. My parents, Momma and Daddy Kettle are all over the toasts. We had great toasts during our Memorial Day barbeque the day and Mr. Kettle and I were engaged. I was expecting good things from the toasts. Daddy Kettle gives amazing toasts. I think it's because he was in Toastmasters.

He got up to make his toast and talked for quite a while. Mr. Kettle and I were really enjoying what he had to say. It was an emotional time and everyone could see how much in love we were. It even brought tears to my eyes, which is apparently something I do now. I kind of forgot everyone else was watching and I really felt like it was just me, Mr. Kettle, and Daddy Kettle there until my godmother handed me tissues to wipe my tears. That made me immediately stop crying.

Then Daddy Kettle called up the people in our wedding party who were there. It was only half of them, but it was my first time seeing them all in one spot. It looked like so many people. I know, hive, you're all thinking "duh!" But to me it hasn't seemed like a lot because these are people we hang out with quite constantly and see several times a month. But seeing them all up there dressed up but not at church just looked... different. It made me slightly worried, but also just a little bit more excited, for our wedding day.

Personal Photo: the only shot I got with only half our attendants standing up there. Yup, just half.
After my father's toast, Momma Kettle and Mr. Kettle's mom, Mima Kettle both said something. Then Mr. Kettle thanked everyone for their love, support, and attendance. It was very sweet and an amazing moment that makes me sure we have to have a videographer for the wedding.

I was surprised when Brother Kettle, my brother arrived at the party. I wasn't expecting him to come, so it was a pleasant surprise. Even though I don't have a lot of cousins, it's rare that we all get together at once. The last day was Grandmother Kettle's 70th birthday party earlier this year, and we weren't all there at the same time. So we gathered together and took a family picture with the cousins and Grandmother Kettle at the bar, where it was much cooler.

This reminds me that it was HOT in there. That private room wasn't ventilated and boy did we feel the heat. It wasn't even that warm that day, but we spread out all over the restaurant in an effort to cool down. People were hanging out in the front and at the bar. Some people stayed in the room, but the flow of the restaurant and the friendly management helped us keep it moving around so no one baked. If I could do it over, I would have paid more attention to ventilation or cooling options. It was a small detail in the big picture, but when I was sweating, it felt like a big deal.

As the party wound down, us young folks (20s-30s) decided that the party must continue. So we headed to the Bar Louie around 8th and State and stayed there til they closed at 1 AM.

Personal Photo: More pics of the wedding party and their family

Personal Photo: My cousins went home to change then came and joined us. I was so glad they came back out!

Personal Photo: The couple on the left is GM Hubby and his wife, who I grew up with. Mr. Kettle and I met at their wedding. Also pictured is BM Mac and Mr. Kettle

Personal Photo: Yeah... I only knew 3 people in this pic. These are friends of GM Light, pictured in the front right. That's how you know it's a party when friendly strangers just show up!

Personal Photo: We were having so much fun. We kissed for a photo, cause you you, we never do that.

Personal Photo: I almost forgot to mention the best part of my outfit These shoes!!!!
The shoes are really amazing. I got them from Aldo Shoes. They're called Lindemuth. They just so happen to come in all my wedding colors. Literally, they're purple, black, tan, cream, with gold accents. I may just wear these at every pre-wedding event because they're so amazing! They are Aldo shoes though, so they're not the most comfortable. But I can deal with one imperfection.
The party finally wound down and Mr. Kettle, BM Doc, and I headed back to our apartment. BM Doc's ride back to St. Louis picked him up in the morning while Mr. Kettle and I headed to U.S. Cellular Field with BM Mon and his girlfriend, along with Mima and Poppa Kettle for the baseball game. It wasn't part of the engagement party, but it was still so awesome.

Image: US Cellular Field Stadium Club via Chicago Bridal
This is where we went for brunch prior to the game. Swanky, right? I think Brother Kettle, who's also engaged, might have his rehearsal dinner here.
Personal Photo: Me and Mr. Kettle in our amazing seats at the game.

Personal Photo: BM Mon and his girlfriend.

Personal Photo: Seriously, our seats were amazing! 4th row, right by the opposing dugout, first base line.
Overall, the whole weekend was perfect. Did I mention our engagement party was so much better than I could have imagined?

Did you have an engagement party? Was it the perfect appetizer for your wedding?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best Engagement Party Ever! Part One

I don't know if my engagement party was really the best ever, but it was the best one I'd ever been to. The food, the music, the decorations, the guests, everything was exactly as it should be. It really warmed my heart and Mr. Kettle's heart too. Now we only talk about eloping when confronted with overly detailed wedding decisions, instead of every time we thought of the impending too-big-too-succeed wedding.

Momma and Daddy Kettle, along with some help from friends of theirs, put together a wonderful affair.
We had our engagement party at the lovely L26 restaurant and it was better than I could have imagined. So, onto the recaps.

Mr. Kettle and I agreed he wouldn't take any gigs the days of wedding events. He forgot this agreement and took a gig the day of the engagement party. I was concerned he would be late or miss his own party, but I didn't request he cancel the gig. Interestingly enough, I was the one who made us late to the party because I was last-minute shopping in Orland with BM Milk. But I ended up with a great dress. I don't have any full length pictures of me standing up wearing it though. I can't believe I went all night without getting one. Recap fail.

Personal Photo: This is the only photo I have where you can see the whole dress. It is lovely even sitting down isn't it?
One of the better surprises of the day was my best man, BM Doc, deciding at the last minute to come to the party. He got on a bus from St. Louis that morning. I tried to track down a ride for him amongst the bridesmaids, but a friend of mine ended up picking him. They seemed to have hit it off and she's coming with Mr. Kettle, GM Dark, and me to St. Louis this month for a weekend of hanging out.

When I finally got home from the mall, I gave Mr. Kettle the new shirt and shoes I bought him and he and I hurriedly dressed. BM Doc (cause he's in medical school) was already ready to go. Momma Kettle called us at around 5:45 (the party started at 5:00) to see where we were and luckily we were just up the street. Mr. Kettle dropped me off at the door and went to go park the car since it was raining.

I arrived to the restaurant to see a sea of faces sitting there. They were just... staring. They were staring at me unexpectedly and smiling as if I was supposed to break into song and dance or entertain them somehow. It was incredibly awkward. Momma and Daddy Kettle weren't letting anyone eat until we got there. And we were bringing the speakers, so the DJ, GM Mac (cause he owns everything they make), couldn't properly DJ. So there were crickets and I was looking for an escape. "Um... I'm going to get Mr. Kettle. He's parking the car." I hightailed it out of there before anyone could respond.

After I met Mr. Kettle at the entrance of the hotel that housed the restaurant our party was at, I explained what had just happened and how I was apprehensive to go back in that room dripping with expectation. While we were walking, we ran in Mima and Poppa Kettle who were also (and always) late. The four of us walked in together and it just got much better after that. When we got back to the room, everyone wasn't just sitting there anymore. The cameras were out and ready to take pictures of us. Momma Kettle came and pinned Mr. Kettle and I with pins that read Future Bride and Future Groom or something like that.

I began taking photos of the lovely event.

Personal Photo: They took this picture of us right when we came in. Poor Mr. Kettle is still decorated with raindrops on his shoulders.

Personal Photo: They had this photo of us outside the room. I was so impressed by how nice it looked with the balloons. I love balloons so I relish chances to use them since they're not "fancy" enough for our wedding.

Personal Photo: This is an upclose shot. This photo is great isn't it? It looks like it was taken outside, but it was just in front of a window. It's one of my favorite pics of us as a couple.

Personal Photo: Our menu of our delicious food.

Personal Photo: Our delicious food. beef skewers, chicken wings, shrimp on cucmber, punch, fruit. Perfect hors d'ouevres.

Personal Photo: The favors table; can you see all the cute boxes? Lots o' M&Ms, and the world's cutest napkins

Personal Photo: A closeup of napkins. They're in our wedding colors!

Personal Photo: Our cake! It was tasty. Momma Kettle understands my strong love for whipped cream and my strong distaste for buttercream. The frosting was whipped and delicious!

Personal Photo: A shot of the table setup. That fuzzy baby shot was of me. They had lots of matching photos of Mr. Kettle and I on the tables. This was one of the cute ones. We also had our college grad photos, which were cute. But there was a terrible one of each of us...

Personal Photo: More table setup. I had to include another nice photo. They also had our pics from HS graduation. I am definitely not showing the picture of us from elementary school. Let's just say it was rough!

In the next post, I'll finish my recap of the best engagement party ever!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You're Not Seeing Double, No Need To Adjust Your Screen

In our wedding, we have lots o' people. That may have been mentioned once or twice so far. Our wedding will look like this:

Image: 34 Person Wedding Party / Photography by Digital Photography School
That wedding had 34 people. Ours is just shy of that. We are including everyone in our count because they're all important. Mr. Kettle and I both have a Best Man and Maid of Honor. So that's 4.

He has 8 more groomsmen, bringing our total to 12. I have 2 more men standing up with me which brings our total to 14. I also have 6 more bridesmaids, bringing our total to 20. Add in 2 jr. bridesmaids and we're at 22. Then 2 ring bearers and 2 flower girls and we're at 26. Tack on 3 hostesses and 2 ushers and the number is now 31. Don't forget our 2, yes 2, officiants and we're at 33. Don't forget Daddy Kettle, Mr. Kettle, and me. That makes 36! Yup. 36 people.

I want to take this time to answer I've gotten in comments on previous posts. The question was about our hostesses and ushers and what exactly they were. Some people double groomsmen as usher, helping to seat people as they arrive to the ceremony. That's not the case with us.

Momma Kettle, ever the etiquette stickler (I get it honest, you know, so I  know exactly what to rebel against), tells us we should have one usher/hostess for ever 50 guests. This is particularly important when our venue is at a house that has thousands of square feet spread over 3 stories. We'll need people to help get all those people into the ballroom conservatory for the ceremony, out to the rest of the house for cocktail hour, then back into the ballroom for the reception. They'll need to know where to sit and when. The mansion provides staff to do this, but having extra people on hand could only help out.

Think of a combination between a hostess at a restaurant mixed with a regular usher at a wedding, and that's what our hostesses and ushers will be. Why not make them honorary bridesmaids and groomsmen? Well, because then they'd get their names on the programs and we'd get no work out of them! Just kidding, but I know they'd want to be involved more than just in name.

One of our hostesses is my niece, Hostess Cheery, who's 19 and too old to be a jr. bridesmaid. The other is a high school girl I mentor, Hostess High,  who's friendly with Mr. Kettle ever since they were both in the wedding I met Mr. Kettle at last summer. The third is one of his nieces, FNIL Sniffles, who's also in college and also to old to be a jr. bridesmaid. One of our ushers is my god-brother and the other is Mr. Kettle's cousin. They're both in high school.

Our wedding has been used as a tool to accommodate all our close family and friends that have been in our lives for a long time. Besides the flowers girls and ring bearers who are both 6 years old, we've known everybody else in our wedding party at least 10 years (including the officiants).

So, yeah there are a lot of folks, but they're our close friends. We're both just super friendly people who are close to our families. It happens.

And now for your viewing pleasure, some lovely photos of random wedding party members.
Personal Photo: our two flower girls. My lovely new nieces. Aren't they adorable twins?

Personal Photo: our two ring bearers. They're also twins, they just don't look it as much.

Personal Photo: FNIL Sniffles and Hostess High at our engagements party.

GM Hubby, MOH Sis, GM Mac, Mr. Kettle, GM Cuz, GM Light at the engagement party. I really should do something special for whoever can keep all these folks straight!

BM Doc, BM Mon, BM Law, BM Libra, BM Milk, me at our engagement party
 BM in this case stands for Bridesman and Bridesmaid. We're still sorting out exactly what to call everybody in our wedding party.

Personal Photo: GM Dark at a gig we all went to. I love the look on his face. He was resigning himself to being the only single and never-married one of his friends. His level of melodrama fits in nicely with Mr. Kettle and I.

Personal Photo: I love this pic.
From left to right: FNIL Tiny, Mr. Kettle, FNIL Sniffles, and BM Cuz's daughter who's my new great-niece.
Soooo many people. Judging by the engagement party, I know our wedding will be exactly what we want: a big party that includes all the people we love and cherish. I will now stop alluding to our engagement party and actually give recaps in my next posts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bridal Hair 101 - Au Naturel

Au naturel is defined as
       a.   Nude.
       b.    In a natural state: an au naturel hairstyle.
2.    Cooked simply.
I won't be naked at my wedding, if only because my dress is too pretty! I certainly won't be whipping up a simple meal for possibly 300 people! So all that's left is an au naturel hairstyle. This simple hairstyle I will have won't actually be simple, it will just be natural.

As an African-American, we have a myriad of hair issues that run the gamut depending on the state of our hair. I must admit I feel especially proud of my decision to have natural hair. To stop straightening my hair and let it just be itself wasn't easy. Anyone who's ever contemplating keratin treating curly hair or putting curly perm in straight hair should feel my pain.

After deciding to be natural, I had a number of styles. Time to dig into the photo archives on this one.
Personal Photo: This was an interesting style. It's slicked down and wavy, I wish I had a better picture of this style because I liked it.

Personal Photo: This was some of my favorite hair right at the end of college. I was wearing it curly and free. 

Personal Photo: This was during medical school, more purposely kinky than curly, even more free.

Personal Photo: This was last New Year's Eve (duh) with my new dreadlocks. I was wearing a tube top, so now you understand better why I must have pretty clothes in order to not be naked, haha.

Personal Photo: This was me in Florida this past April. The locs were getting longer. More tube tops...
It's funny that I'm always saying Mr. Kettle needs to put on pants. Apparently, he's not the only one who needs to wear more clothes...
Personal Photo: A recent photo of my hair dyed red and even longer.
I can't wait to see how long my hair will be by the time we have to style it for the wedding. You never know because most African-American women don't have hair that grows at fast rates. I expect mine will be just past my shoulders by then. That should be enough to play with.

My hairstylist told me to check out hairstyles I might want and we'll figure it out through hair trials in the weeks preceding the wedding. She can work magic so I'm not limited to just styles specifically for locs.

Some basic things about my locs:
  • Don't call them 'dreads'. They're dreadlocks or locs. The first time has a derogatory slant to it and doesn't support the loving culture shared by those with natural hair.
  • I like playing with my hair. I'm always pinning it up or pulling it back into semi-intricate styles.
    Personal Photo: A not-so-good shot of one of the complicated styles I come up with for myself. I swear it's a great style.
  • I get it done once a month. That means going to a shop and letting my stylist wash, condition, and re-twist my hair.
  • It drives me crazy that I can't wash my hair more often, but it's the nature of the beast when you can't do your own locs. I do use a hair oil that keeps it smelling good at least.
  • The freedom to get up and go whenever because my hair is now incredibly manageable has improved my life more than I can tell.

I'm not the first bee to have natural hair and have an interesting path to the altar in terms of that natural hair. Shot Out To Mrs. Swan with the natural hair! Check her out if you haven't yet.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm Ready For My Close Up - Our First Photographer Option

Mr. Kettle has only had a couple of jobs to do for this wedding. He was in charge of securing our musicians, which he took care of basically in under 24 hours. Go Mr. Kettle! He was also responsible for picking out the clothes for the guys, which he also took care of. The other big job he had was to find us a photographer.

Neither of us really wanted to do this job, but he saw how much it was stressing me out when my cell phone was being stalked by photographers trying to follow up.

 Mr. Kettle doesn't like me stressed, so he amazingly stepped in to help. Mima Kettle and FSIL Grand offered a suggestion for a photographer of a wedding they loved the pictures from. He's setup a phone meeting with them for Sunday and I'm excited to hear about what they have to offer.

Wanting to look at more than one photographer, trying to explore my options, (Momma Kettle and Mr Kettle must be rubbing off on me), we looked for others. We basically ignored all the ones I'd previously e-mailed. Perhaps it was their stalking that made us not want to work with them? We are people who need our space. Isn't that weird that when someone doesn't act like they want my business, I will walk away, but I'll also walk away when they seem like they're trying too hard? Wedding planning teaches you interesting things about yourself.

Wedding Planning Tip #7
Pay attention to your consistent responses. You'll learn a lot about yourself while planning your wedding if you pay attention.

So just how did we find this other photographer? Well, my best internet friend Google, this time in the form of gmail came to the rescue. Because Google collect user search data, they direct which ads you see while browsing their websites. I was checking my gmail and at the top of the screen was an advertisement for Jolie Images. I took a look at their website because their amazing prices drew me in.

I liked what I saw, so Mr. Kettle set up a meeting. We went to meet with them last week and they told us all about their wonderful packages. We really liked the personalities of everyone there (it's a family-run business) and we really liked the eye they had for pictures.

I was, in true-to-me fashion, ready to put down a deposit right then and there. But we will be meeting with the photographers suggested by our family and seeing what they have to offer. So now, some photographer wedding photos to give you an idea of why I liked them so much!

All Images provided by Jolie Images
I can already see our version of this picture!
How dreamy...
Gotta love this crazy shot
I would kill Mr. Kettle!
This one feels like us. Reminds me of our engagement photos.
OMG!! A rebel shot! I can only hope and pray we could do something like this somewhere on our wedding property.

I don't know what's better about this photographer. The personalities, the prices, the photos all are fighting for top spot. Did I mention they also work with a videographer who also charges surprisingly low prices (at least for Chicago). The piece de resistance: because our wedding is in February, we'll get our photos back in less than 8 weeks. This includes copyrights for all photos, access to the website, a cd and DVD with all the pics and video footage, the wedding video, and the picture album! Ah-mazing!

I can't wait to see what the other photographers have to offer so we can make our choice and check another big wedding decision off the list!