Yay!

April 28, 2010 at 11:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Blake and Sarah walking away after the ceremony

Tom’s mom took this nice photo, and it’s the first one we’ve received from the wedding! There’s Beth back there on the left and Sarah de la Fuente, our officiant, on the rear right behind Blake. Eventually we’re going to figure out some sort of ideal everybody-upload-your-photos-here solution, but we’ve had other things to do so far. =) Our photographer‘s stuff should take 1-2 weeks, so we may not see it until after the honeymoon. But this photo looks pretty good and it gives me high hopes for all the others. We wish we could see them right now!

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The “short” list

April 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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There are only a few things left to do before the wedding! Despite my best efforts and nearly full-time wedding planning for weeks, there are still some items remaining. Compared to the huge list that I had originally (which just seemed to get longer all the time as I thought of more things to be done), this is refreshingly short for me. I can even see it on one whole computer screen without scrolling down! Yay! (Well, you have to scroll down here in this blog post, but in my grand list Word document it all fits on one page.)

  • Prepare some final decorations for the bathrooms at Buescher.
  • Arrange/reserve the wedding night hotel.
  • A pile of wedding stuff in the spare room

    This pile of wedding stuff doesn't really fully capture quite how much is in there. This is just what I could fit in the photo.

    Divide my room o’ wedding stuff into packages. (One of our spare rooms is just stacked up with decorations, mirrors, the guest book, lights, candles, duct tape, etc. — not to mention my dress and Tom’s suit (he’s our roommate) and my veil and shoes and everything. All this stuff needs to be packaged for easy transport to Buescher.)

  • Prepare that same room o’ wedding stuff for a guest — move all the wedding stuff into the front room.
  • Give the final guest count to our cake lady (Karin from A Wedding Cake Moment — she’s great!)
  • Give the final guest count to our caterer (Emily from Events by Emily — she’s also great!)
  • Get the at-which-table-do-I-sit? chart (for guests) laminated at Staples.
  • Update the take-down list to include items in the cabin. (we’ve reserved a cabin right near the hall so that the wedding party and family — who’ll be there with us all afternoon helping set up — can dress beforehand)
  • Entirely finalize the list of setup and take-down instructions.
  • Go to Buescher with the photographer (Chris Butler — he’s great!) and discuss the photography plans.
  • Blake needs to get a haircut. (He’s pretty shaggy at the moment.)
  • Call the restaurant and confirm the reservation for some plans with the wedding party before the wedding.
  • Call Spec’s and reserve some champagne and sparkling grape juice for the caterer to pick up.
  • Wash the car – it’s pretty pollen-y right now!
  • Worship the earth on Earth Day — just kidding, I’d never do that.
  • Plan rain contingencies for the whole weekend if rain is scheduled.
  • Clean the house

I think that’s it. (I sure hope that’s it!) It’s pretty amazing that after months of planning it’s all come down to these remaining tasks. I’m sure glad we didn’t plan this wedding six or eight or ten months in advance — it’s nice that we only had to be wedding-crazy for four. I think that if we’d spent a lot more time planning, the wedding day would have been far more anticipated (by us both) and a lot more tense for me.

cut ledge cloths for mirrors
figure out wedding night
Add cabin stuff to takedown list
Make to-go list for day of/before
Divide blue-room items into when-to-leave bundles
Confirm with Buescher that they’ll just keep a tally (mention vendors)
Update Emily when I give cupcake totals
Laminate table chart
Blake needs to begin writeup
Update setup/takedown with Emily’s info
Go out to the park with the photographer
Blake needs a haircut
Submit final guest count to cake lady
Call the restaurant to confirm some wedding-party plans on Saturday
Call Spec’s and reserve champagne
Caterer needs a final count
Florist needs a final count
Wash the car
Worship the earth on earth day – just kidding! I won’t be doing that at all!
Plan rain contingencies if rain is scheduled
Clean the house

When to plan a wedding (especially outdoors!)

April 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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This afternoon I discovered a great tool to help decide, climatically, on what day to have a wedding. I wish I had found this when choosing our date, but we didn’t have a lot of flexibility so it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

The tool is a little section of wunderground.com called “monthly history.” In case you’re not familiar with it, Wunderground is one of my favorite weather sites — it has a great interactive map that lets you get exactly the information you want.

The planning tool, however, is here and looks like this:

Wunderground Monthly History

Monthly history for April 2010

For each day it tells you the record and average values for high/low temp and precipitation. Then once the day arrives, it tells you the actual temperature. The best part is, you can look at a month (or more detailed info for a particular day) for any arbitrary time! I was pleased to see that the average amount of rain on our wedding day is only around 0.1 inches.

(Though really if it rains it’ll be okay. I love love love rain and we have contingencies for mud and almost-rain and full-fledged rain, and it’ll really be just fine no matter what. Weather, do your worst! I am not afraid!)

Discount hotel reservations extended!

April 10, 2010 at 2:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This afternoon when I called the manager at the Fairfield, he agreed to extend the discount for an extra couple days. So if you still need a room and haven’t reserved one yet, it’s not too late! Call the Fairfield today or tomorrow and you should probably still be okay. (Make sure to mention our names when you call, though, to make sure to get the rate.)

In other news, Austin’s spring is really beautiful so far! The bluebonnets are out in full force on every sunny hillside, and between them and the indian paintbrush and winecups and white prickly poppies and indian blankets and primrose, it looks pretty spectacular out here. The medians are overflowing with pretty colors!

Not only that, in our very own yard we found some primroses and a solitary bluebonnet(!) the other day. Unfortunately, the front lawn was getting pretty unsightly and so we had to mow down the primroses right along with the tall grass, but I got some nice photos before the primrose massacre. (The bluebonnet survived due to some help from Blake’s strategic mowing skills.)  It’s a pretty tiny bluebonnet, but it’s ours. =)

We’ve got a marriage license!

April 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The marriage license

License to wed.

This afternoon Blake and I drove down to the Travis County Clerk’s Office and got a marriage license! All it took was state-issued ID’s, knowing our social security numbers, and $71 in cash. (Yes, cash.)

The license itself is far fancier than I thought — especially considering that I’m pretty sure we just give it back to the state after the ceremony and then never see it again. (I could be wrong about that.) But I know we turn it in to our officiant who then signs it and files it on our behalf.

While we’re on the subject, our officiant is Sarah de La Fuente of Austin Weddings Unlimited, and so far we’ve been very happy with her. She’s been really nice and helpful and helped guide us towards the sort of ceremony we want.

Blake signing the form to get the marriage license

At the county clerk's office signing papers to get the license

Anyway, it’s pretty exciting to actually have the paper here in our hands. It also came with a little packet from the Attorney General (of Texas) that had lots of helpful marriage advice and little worksheets for each of us with questions like, “What makes a good wife?” and “What are some things we have in common?” Very helpful. I’m glad the AG’s office has time to help with important stuff like this.

In other news, the wedding planning is coming along nicely. We finally got my ring chosen and purchased, and we’re waiting for Blake’s to arrive in the mail. Also squared away are our centerpieces, decorations, and a variety of little incidentals like the guestbook, pens for the guestbook, emergency stuff (scotch tape, sewing kit, duct tape, bobby pins), bug spray (which shouldn’t be necessary, but we want to have some for guests just in case), and candles. The big tasks remaining are mostly lists: what to bring out the day before, what to bring out the day of, how the decorations should be set up, and then corresponding take-down lists for my parents and the wedding party to get after we leave the reception.

The lists are pretty daunting for obvious reasons, but I’ve been adding to them for weeks and hopefully nothing important will be forgotten. Despite this, Blake expects we’ll have to make a last-minute round trip back to Austin on the day of the wedding, but I’m slightly more optimistic: I bet the only emergency trip we’ll have to make is to the Bastrop Walmart. Or perhaps my planning will shine through and we’ll both be wrong. =)

Sarah signing papers to get the marriage license

Sarah signing papers to get the marriage license

Ask and ye shall receive… a cheap videographer!

April 5, 2010 at 1:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Well, the unthinkable has happened: we’re arranging a videographer for our wedding.

Okay, I guess it’s not that unthinkable, but until recently I thought that getting a videographer was the surest sign that someone was stupidly spending too much on their wedding. Really, a wedding is pretty damn special as it is. You have photos. Everybody is there. You plan it for months. Do you really need someone to make a custom documentary about it just for you?

After all, everybody knows that weddings are an industry. After months of immersion in marketing specifically directed towards brides, I’ve come to the firm belief that manufacturers of wedding stuff, much like greeting card companies and DeBeers, try to manufacture wedding needs that they can then satisfy at high prices. I don’t say that pejoratively –go capitalism! — but I have taken pains to personally separate the wedding things that will improve the day from the ridiculous wedding things that I’m just “supposed” to want even if it doesn’t actually improve anything. Hence, I thought getting a videographer was dumb. In fact, when the wedding planning really got underway in January, I recall reading about videographers in a wedding planning book and then pointing it out to Blake, saying, “Jeez! People spend so much money on stuff that’s such a waste of time!”

So at first I didn’t want a video at all. Then I was talking to my dad and he mentioned how there have been so many times that he’s wished he could have a video of his wedding. Not just for the wedding itself, but also to have footage of the people who were there who are now dead. His parents, etc. This logic was good enough for me, and I decided to find someone to take a video of the ceremony.

…Which was harder than I thought it would be. Whom do you pick? Not a relative, surely — they want to pay attention to the ceremony. Not a close friend either for the same reason. And you can’t pick just anybody — you want someone who can hold a camera the right way and has some aesthetic sense and can judge lighting and act accordingly. Someone who knows what events are coming up and knows where to stand to get good shots. So you have to find a bright, technically-savvy, artistically savvy guest who is coming to the wedding but also doesn’t really care about watching the ceremony himself. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t have one of those.

So I started looking for wedding videographers and of course the prices were sixteen kinds of exorbitant. Most of the sites I saw were around $1000 for a few hours of filming. And then I’d watch their demo videos… slow motion footage of people walking, curly fonts saying, “Ashlynn and Chet,” Bittersweet Symphony playing in the background (yes, seriously — who wants that in their wedding video?!), and all in all they just seemed over-dramatized and kind of… dumb-looking. Like when you’re watching local television and then after a bunch of professional commercials you see some weird homemade commercial for a flea market or a play or a car dealership and although it has music and fonts and narration, you can tell the narrator is just some guy and the music was written by someone’s uncle and the text was all set up by someone’s neighbor’s nephew for $50. Maybe I’m jaded and if it were my wedding I was watching I would find all the kitsch endearing. But on site after site after site it was the same story.

(Except for Nil Buan, whose videos were beautiful and elegant and tasteful. We aren’t going with him, but I’ll come back to him in a minute.)

So after watching all the demo videos I knew that that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted someone to take a bunch of footage, not edit it, and give it to me in some digital form. I don’t need music and montages. (I don’t want them, either.) And I knew that some videographer somewhere with a rough season must want to do exactly what I wanted at a reduced price. They can post $1500 packages on their site all they want, but I bet the economy has cut back on the number of people willing to pay for something like that. So I emailed like seven different ones the following email:

Hello –

I’m getting married on [censored] in Buescher State Park (near the Bastrop/Smithville area). I’d like to get some sort of video of our wedding, but I want something very minimalist. I don’t need montages, multiple cameras, cross fades, background music, fancy DVD menus, or anything like that. I just want to pay somebody who’s smart enough to hold a camera the right way and can get some nice raw footage to me in a standard format playable on the average PC.

Obviously I am not your target market, but since my wedding is on a Monday (and therefore not in competition with other weddings in which people will pay more), I thought I’d check and see if this is something you guys would be willing to do at a correspondingly lower price (since there will be very little in the way of post-processing). I see that your single-camera 4-hr price is $[whatever]. I’d be interested in only 2 or 3 hours.

Is this something feasible?

Thanks!

And you know what happened? I got a whole bunch of replies from companies willing to do it at great rates! Well, not all of them were great. Some of them were reduced by like 5%. But I got multiple offers in the $275 – 400 range, which seemed pretty reasonable for someone’s professional grade time, expensive equipment, and drive time out to the park. The best offers I got were from Capital Wedding Video and American Video Productions. It was a pretty tough choice between them, but ultimately my decision came down to the quality of video at dim indoor receptions. Our reception will be in a building with dark walls, and although we’ll have lights, it was important to me that the video be able to capture that without looking awful. It seemed like Capital’s indoor footage was better, and so I went with them. (I haven’t signed a contract or anything, though — I just emailed him tonight and told him that he was our choice.) It was a difficult decision, though: the guy at American Video Productions made it clear that he wanted our business and was quite willing to negotiate to get it. I like those sorts of business people and it would have been nice to go with them, but the prices were very similar and so that indoor-video quality was the deciding factor. If things don’t work out with Capital, I will be very happy to use American Video Productions as a backup.

But the whole point of this post is that with wedding stuff — and probably in the world in general — you can often get what you want at a better rate if you just ask. Our caterer usually does more expensive meals, but when I told her our price range she was able to come up with menus that would work at our price. Ask and ye shall receive.

The End

Still here? Oh, you’re waiting to hear the end of the story about Nil Buan? Well, Nil responded to my email with an offer that, though not unreasonable and cheaper than many packages I’ve seen, was still a little out of our price range. However, his rationale was artistic integrity, which I can totally understand. His work was gorgeous and if I were he I wouldn’t want to send raw footage out into the world with my name on it either. But his email was very gracious. Here’s an excerpt:

I will treat your wedding like any normal wedding that I shoot, with the utmost sensitivity in creativity.  That said I cannot justify giving you nothing but raw footage.  It is not how I work.  And it is not how I want my work to be viewed.   I will edit the footage for you with the same transitions you’ve seen on some of my work, with music and titles, and present a final product to you that you can be proud of and enjoy for many many years.

So I sent him a reply explaining that his offer was indeed out of our price range but that I understand his position entirely, and he sent back a friendly reply. It’s rare that I feel such a sense of kinship and admiration with a business and yet still go with one of its competitors, but I suppose that’s also capitalism. I hope Nil makes a bunch of money from people who have a lot of money to spend. To that end, here, once again, is a link to his site: Nil Buan Videography

Rehearsal dinner music

April 2, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A few days ago Blake’s mom asked us to come up with a list of 50 songs for the rehearsal dinner, and last night I sat down with iTunes, put Arrested Development on in the background (courtesy of Hulu), and made a nice long list. After we sent it to Blake’s mom, she replied, “Perfect list!  You should post it…I was looking for lists and saw lots of ideas, but these titles are better!” So I’m taking her advice and posting it here. =) Perhaps some random internet bride will find this list on Google someday and it will improve her reception or rehearsal dinner.

Note: If you’re interested in purchasing this whole list of mp3s  all at once, you can do that here: buy this list on Amazon. Just scroll all the way to the bottom and you have the option to add every item to your cart.
(Unfortunately, Amazon limits the list to only 40 items — and the list below has 50 songs — so I removed some of the “special interest” ones that were special to me but probably not to most brides.) You can also click on the titles individually to get that song directly.

Some Enchanted Evening – Ezio Pinza
L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole
Stardust – Nat King Cole
(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons – Nat King Cole
Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland
Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy
Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
Who Knows Where The Time Goes – Eva Cassidy
Blue Skies – Ella Fitzgerald
They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Summertime – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
How High The Moon – Ella Fitzgerald
Georgia on my Mind – Billie Holiday
I Thought About You – Frank Sinatra
Almost Like Being In Love – Nat King Cole
Dance Me to the End of Love – Madeleine Peyroux
J’ai Deux Amours – Madeleine PeyrouxI’m All Right – Madeleine Peyroux
California Rain – Madeleine Peyroux
Was I? – Madeleine Peyroux
Manha de Carnaval – Astrud Gilberto
A Felicidade – Joao Gilberto
Look to the Rainbow – Fred Astaire and Petula Clark
Waters of March – Jane Monheit
Good Night My Someone – Robert Preston and Barbara Cook
Lida Rose, Will I Ever Tell You – Robert Preston and Barbara Cook
Something Good – Julie Andrews and Bill Lee
Heather on the Hill – Gene Kelly
Waitin’ for My Dearie – Carol Richards, Bonnie Murray, some other people
Almost Like Being in Love – Gene Kelly
Make Someone Happy – Jimmy Durante
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – Carly Simon
A Wink and a Smile – Harry Connick, Jr.
Once Upon a Dream – Bill Sherley, Chorus and Maria Costa
When you Wish Upon a Star – Cliff Edwards and Disney Studio Chorus
A Whole New World – Brad Kane and Lea Salonga
Kiss the Girl – Samuel E. Wright
Someday My Prince Will Come – Adriana Caselotti
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Ilene Woods and Mice Chorus
Take Five – Dave Brubeck
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt
Brazil – Django Reinhardt
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Django Reinhardt
South Rampart Street Parade – Pete Fountain
Basin Street Blues – Pete Fountain
Tiger Rag – Pete Fountain
Darkness on the Delta – Acker Bilk and His Paramount Jazz Band
Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra

Note: If you’re interested in purchasing this whole list of mp3s  all at once, you can do that here: buy this list on Amazon. Just scroll all the way to the bottom and you have the option to add every item to your cart.
(Unfortunately, Amazon limits the list to only 40 items — and the list below has 50 songs — so I removed some of the “special interest” ones that were special to me but probably not to most brides.)

I’m not really sure what music we’ll have at the reception yet… that’s on my list of things to figure out in the next 24 (!) days. Time is sure getting short!

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