While I’m writing this, we are actually only TWO MONTHS away! The final six months have literal flown by… I can only imagine what it would have been like if I only had that amount of time to plan it. I would have been a C-R-A-Z-Y person. A wedding with 17 months to plan has me enough frazzled! Today’s post is about what I did around 4 months out (December) from our wedding date: Our Catholic pre-marriage course, building our registries, buying invitations and finally making a decision on bridesmaid dresses and the HONEYMOON!!!!
Gifts for Ring Bearers & Flower Girls
Like I did for the bridesmaids, I wanted to send something sweet to our two ring bearers and flower girls to formally ask them (even though their parents had already agreed on their behalf!). Cookies were the answer! For two, I sent or gave them Virginia-shaped sugar cookies that I bought locally. For the other two, I turned to Cheryl’s Cookies. Their cookie cards are only $5 and come in the cutest packaging! Because it was winter when I ordered them, they didn’t have flower-shaped cookies in appropriate boxes for the flower girl, HOWEVER… they had polar bear cookies that were just asking for a punny note to go with it for the ring bear-er! 😉
Because we are getting married in the Catholic church (I’m Catholic, Garland’s not), we were required to do a pre-marriage class through the diocese. Other dioceses may do it differently, but we had two main choices: Unveiled, one 12-hour course, or Engaged Encounter, a two-night course at a retreat center (third option would be doing it on-on-one with a priest, which ours did not offer). Garland and I were encouraged to do Unveiled by the priest who is marrying us, and we decided to knock it out about four months before the wedding in December, instead of waiting to the last minute.
Did you see that I said TWELVE HOURS? Yes, it was long. Yes, we were exhausted and had no words left by the end. (We may even have been a little hungover because my work holiday party was the night before!) But it was so, so great! I’m going to explain it a little because I literally had no idea what it would be like: The couples (maybe 12-15 of us?) sat at tables with other couples; it just so happened we had two April couples at our table too. The course’s sections were presented in short video clips, followed up by the presenters’ example of how the topic had played a role in their marriage, how it’d impacted them, etc. Example of topics: personal values, goals, intimacy, prayer/religion, money, starting a family, pornography –> some things were topics we’d already discussed throughout our relationship, others we generally had an idea about; then there were a few tools or ways to think about things we’d never heard or thought about before, which was cool! The presenting couple was in their 60s, and I really appreciated having a living example talk about the information. Each section had questions attached to it, so we’d take time separately to respond to them by ourselves (sometimes in separate rooms) and then would come together to discuss as a couple. What I was the most worried about was trying to have potentially complicated discussions with Garland in “public”, but they had this worked out. The event was in a church activity center, so nearly every couple had a classroom to themselves for privacy.
Probably my favorite activity was drafting our family mission statement/pledge to one another. There were some prompts to make it easier, but that’s the kind of stuff we never would have ordinarily expressed to each other out loud or even thought to have done! I know I’ll love looking back at our notebooks for years to come.
It’s difficult to transition from mentally/spiritually preparing for our marriage to presents… But that’s what we’re going to do! Garland and I (ok, just me, Garland could care less!) decided to register at three places, plus Honeyfund for honeymoon excursions: Crate & Barrel, Amazon, and Macy’s.
- Crate & Barrel – For kitchen electronics, hostess and serving platters, baskets, etc. We mainly did this because of the registry experience you get at the store. Once a month they let engaged couples come in before the store opens to the public, so you can register and explore calmly. This was actually how we started the registry process… it was so hard talking ourselves into registering for things we didn’t “need”, but wanted or liked. Also, we don’t currently live in a house so most of the time we were all “But where will we put it???”
- Amazon – For convenience and various odds-and-ends, like tools, camera lenses, speakers, anything! Amazon has EVERYTHING and lot of people have Amazon Prime, so the free shipping is great! (Also Garland really wanted to register for a Yeti cooler.)
- Macy’s – For the traditional china, crystal, flatware (stainless steel, not silver!), knives and bedding/towels
- Honeyfund – We created “gifts” for a few day excursions, activities and meals. We’re taking a longer honeymoon and since we don’t currently have a house to decorate or store new things in, we thought this would be a good alternative to registering for too many thing we don’t need …honeymoon announcement below!
For a really long time, I was going in the direction of everyone wearing the same dress, which meant it would have to look good on a variety of sizes (including pregnant sizes…). And then there was the whole COLOR decision. I was stuck on gray versus a shade of gray/blue. Gray is very “in” right now for wedding and bridesmaid dresses—great in some regards, but also made me think that purposefully having a Gray-themed wedding (because it’s Garland’s last name!) would be lost. Also, light or dark gray? What suits would you pair with gray… definitely not another shade of gray (cringe!)… Finally, after looking with Cherie (MOH/sister) at one shop, going by myself to another shop, doing hours of online shopping, buying fabric samples, weighing the pros and cons, and discussing it with anyone who would listen (I LITERALLY WASTED MONTHS ON THIS SINGLE DECISIONS!), I decided on a gray/blue shade called “Cloudy” from Dessy and put together a showroom on Weddington Way for people to pick their own style. Only requirements: long and not strapless. The girls only had maybe two weeks before the recommended purchase deadline, so I don’t recommend waiting as long as I did to decide and share (especially because long bridesmaids dresses are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e). Reasons I’d recommend Weddington Way: 1) everyone is busy and in different cities, this way no one had to travel to a store to get fitted and purchase; 2) bridesmaids could interact by “liking” dresses and then see who ordered what; 3) the company offered great customer service; and 4) everyone’s dress came in within two months (or less!) of ordering. Hallelujah!
I also spent a lot of time looking at online options for invitations. I ordered samples from the main website (like Wedding Paper Divas and Minted), but never really fell in love with a design. Plus, Garland was adamant about it not looking to busy or gaudy. I wanted it to look traditional and professional, as well as to include our custom crest/logo. In early December, I made the decision to work with a local invitation store, Paper On The Avenue. If I was going to spend a lot of money on the invitation suite, I wanted to keep the money local! I spent, I kid you not, close to two hours in there looking at sample invitations, paper options, fonts, printing processes and ink colors. The end result was worth it though; they are beauties! We went with thermography (raised ink, a step down from the ever classy and expensive letterpress option!), a combination of French Blue and Slate Gray inks, a slightly off-white paper and shimmery silver envelopes. (They just went out in the mail on Monday—eek!—so I’ll post a picture of the finished product after I know everyone has gotten them!)
Last but not least… OUR HONEYMOON!
We decided to go to SICILY, ITALY for 11 days after we get married!!!! Garland wanted tropical (sailing, ideally) and I wanted Europe. After doing a little research and finding THE BEST resource—a travel consultant named Eleanor of Uncorked In Italy—we made our decision. She is American, but is fluent in Italian and lives in Italy. I forget exactly how I found her, but it was at the perfect timing. I’d just started to talk to a travel agent who basically rejected our plan and ideas. I was stressed and discouraged. Then *BOOM* Eleanor drafted us an itinerary with recommended hotels and day trips. She found us ferries and motor boat rentals (Garland’s wish come true!). She truly gave us invaluable advice and access to information that you can only get from a “local”. Through both email and phone, she eased my anxiety and totally confirmed our decision to do Sicily was JUST RIGHT FOR US! During our nearly two week trip, we’ll be staying on the Aeolian Island of Salina, at a winery in Marsala, the Aegadian Island of Favignana and then ending in the capital of Palermo. Seriously. It will be a dream!
Before I left for our Christmas trip, I begged Garland to buy the tickets and that’s exactly what he did. We booked the hotels shortly after I got back (more like 3 months prior to travel). Note: We are going just before the high season starts, so things like hotels are a bit cheaper and less booked so close to travel time.
Imagining us waking up to our balcony view of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, hiking up an active volcanic island, or dining al fresco with glasses full of local wine and plates full of homemade pastas is totally getting me through all the wedding work that remains!