Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Giveaway Winner! CSN Stores

.... megan of Fried Green Pickles (love the blog name, by the way).

Congrats! I'll be in contact via e-mail shortly to give you the details on how to claim your prize. If for some crazy reason you don't hear from me soon, just e-mail me. Thanks to everyone else who entered!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Giveaway! $45 CSN Stores Gift Code

It's that time of year again. No, it's not Christmas yet. It's time for another giveaway from CSN Stores! And this one is just in time for the holidays! In their 200+ stores, they have everything from leather messenger bags to kids toys to cookware. If you haven't been over to their site directory, you can find it here.

So to spread the holiday cheer, I'm happy to have been given the chance to host a giveaway for a $45 gift code that can be used at any of CSN Store's 200+ stores!

How to enter:

1) Leave your name/nickname/e-mail or some sort of identifying feature in the comments below (I need to be able to contact you via e-mail for you to claim your prize).

2) Become a follower of my blog to enter a second time.

3) Enter a third time by re-posting this giveaway on your own blog and leaving a comment with a link to your post.

4) Enter a forth time by Tweeting/Facebook-ing/social networking the contest and leaving a comment with a link.

Make sure to leave a comment for each entry (ie. one when you leave your name, another if you become a follower etc.).

Entries good until 7 a.m. Friday (Decemer 3rd) morning.

Happy entering and good luck!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

blog-worthy, shmog-worthy

Is it just me, or is this whole idea of having a blog-worthy wedding getting a little out of hand?

We went through a bit of this nonsense when were at the height of wedding planning. (Okay, I say "we", but really, I mean "me" because Mr. FP could care less about having a blog-worthy wedding. He just wanted to get hitched and eat food.)

With the hundreds of websites dedicated solely to wedding inspiration and the hundreds of others which constantly feature gorgeous "Real Weddings", the concept of having a wedding beautiful enough to be plastered all over the internet is permeating the online wedding community like never before. And it's crazy. It's stressful. It creates goals that are often unattainable for the average couple.

Given our $6,000 budget, we were never going to have a blog-worthy wedding, and eventually, we came to terms with it. Would it have been nice? Sure. But you know what was better? The fact that our wedding reflected who were really are and having a little bit of money left over at the end.

So when I see wedding blogs or other websites promoting the idea of the ideal wedding, it makes me a little nauseous. It makes me ill because I think about how pressured we were to conform to the world's idea of what a wedding really was. The idea that other couples are going to have to deal with similar pressure and stress is maddening.

When I see articles on Etsy pushing the blog-worthy wedding nonsense, I lose a little respect for a site that typically encourages that we associated the word "wedding" with the word "handmade". Don't get me wrong, I love Etsy, and I love wedding inspiration, but I hate the idea that a couple in the midst of the craziness that is wedding planning might see it and feel pressure to conform to the idea of a stylish wedding that nears perfection.

Their advice is a little scary sounding to me:
"Caroline offers advice on how to style your own wedding photo shoot and tips on how to help your photographer achieve the look you've dreamed of."

Honestly, my beef isn't with Etsy. Or even with most of this article. Some of the advice is decent. Being flexible, for one. Good idea. For the most part, my frustration is directed at articles that are worse than this; this one was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Really, it's the articles that make it sound like having a stylized wedding is the only option out there that kill me. W
ho the hell wants to spend the months, weeks, days before their wedding worrying about whether or not their wedding will have been stylized properly so that they get exactly the type of photos they want? Um, not me. Those weeks will be crazy enough without the added stress of trying to make you wedding look like the ones the WIC spits out.

Plus, the thing the WIC won't tell you is that the photos they're showing in shoots like this were set up months in advance. The various components were carefully scrutinized and the details were all meticulously planned.

Hey! That sounds a lot like a wedding! Couples plan, they scrutinize, they work on these details for months too! So what's the difference between the two? Why can't weddings all turn out like these photo shoots if we work hard enough to achieve that result?

Because weddings have real people. And they happen in the blink of an eye. You can't re-do your first kiss 60,000 times until the photo looks exactly how you want it to. There's no do-overs when it comes to the the special moments of your wedding. You can't do them over and over and over again until the photos captured look like a magazine. Well, I guess you can. But you'd be crazy. And where the hell is the fun in that?

Real weddings don't look like this.

They do, however, look like this...

and this...

and this...

... and this.

They're messy, they're spontaneous, they're weird, they're beautiful, they're constantly moving and changing and they won't slow down for you. They won't stay on hold while you make sure your photographer captured the moment exactly as you imagined it.

So do yourself a favor and don't imagine anything.
Okay, that's a lie.
Imagine your wedding until you're blue in the face.

But instead of imagining what the photos will look like and whether or not it'll be blog-worthy, imagine the things that really matter.

Imagine how in the moment you'll feel.
Imagine how surrounded by love you'll be.
Imagine how much love you can spread around to your partner and those who have gathered to celebrate with you.
Imagine the end of the day when it's just you and your partner and you're happy that you had a wedding that genuinely reflected who you are as a couple.

'Cause those are the things you can't capture on film, and that's the stuff that really counts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

hi, my name is miss fp and I'm a marriage noob

Marriage. It ain't no walk in the park.

I've posted before about how, before the wedding, we didn't honestly believe that marriage would be different in most ways. Pft, we've lived together for 2 years, we've combined our lives as much as possible already. And then a mere few weeks after the wedding, we realized how completely different it really is.

We all know marriage is a few things: it's a big commitment, it's stressful (especially if you go through the process of planning a wedding beforehand), it's not something to be taken lightly.

Somehow, these realizations dawn on me more and more each day.

Sometimes I feel like a marriage pro. Sometimes he and I have conversations that end with both of us feeling like we've got this thing down. And other times, more often than not, I feel like a marriage novice. I gigantic, pathetic, marriage noob. Because it's not easy.

Taking two lives and combining them into one is a tough thing to do. A little, tiny part of me would like to return to the days where there was my life and there was his life and we took each other into consideration but ultimately made our own choices. This little part of my speaks up every time we have a difficult decision to make because making one decision for two people is a toughie. And I'm not taking about whether or not we order pad thai or pizza for supper.

A few days ago, we were going over the monthly budget and I, being the spender that I am, was not satisfied that I couldn't do what I wanted with the money in our bank account. I said something along the lines of "well, it's my life, so I can do what I want". (Childish, I know, but we all have our moments).

And you know what he said? He went all mature on me and said "no, actually, it's our life".

(Sigh) Husbands. Sometimes they're just so full of perspective at the most unfortunate of times.

And he's right. It is our life we're planning. There is no more his life, no more my life. Since the second we signed that piece of paper, it's been our life. Physically, we're two people, but in almost every other way, we may as well be Siamese twins. All the choices either of us makes from what to order for dinner to how we're going to spend our hard-earned money will ultimately affect both of us.

So occasionally I really do lament the fact that I can't be selfish. Let's face it, being selfish is fun.

But so is being married.
So is having your husband remind you that he knows that the life you're planning out is a joint effort, that you're a team and that nothing gets decided until you're both on board.

Okay, maybe it's not fun when you're having a temper tantrum that rivals that of a 3 year old, but a few hours afterward, it's pretty fun.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giveaway Winner! CSN Stores

.... Shanna, also known as Miss Arkansas Bride!

Congrats! I'll be in contact via e-mail shortly to give you the details on how to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone else who entered!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Holidays Shmolidays

(First of all, don't forget to enter the giveaway I'm hosting for your chance to win $45 from CSN Stores)

Second of all, with the holiday season fast approaching upon us (yeah, that's right... in case you haven't realized, it's coming fast; I just saw my first Christmas commercial today... plus, us Canadians will be giving thanks this weekend), I've been thinking more and more about how the husband and I are going to handle the family situation we've got going.

It was hard enough before we were even together to see everyone we love during that oh-so special time of year, mom's side, dad's side, and trying to coordinate everyone's schedules was insane. Thankfully, we had our parents to deal with that for us since they were the ones sorting our who is coming over when.

But now that we had to go and grow up, plus get married, our problem has doubled. Now we're trying to squeeze in 4 families. Mom's side, dad's side x 2!

And even though there's usually some overlapping when our parents have people over so it's not too bad, trying to manage our time between both sides for thanksgiving, Christmas eve, Christmas day, boxing day and new years... well, it's enough for me to hate what once was my favorite time of year. Only not really, 'cause I don't have it in me to hate the holidays. But you get the idea.

Before we were in a serious relationship, it wasn't that weird for me to be absent from his family gatherings to attend stuff with mine, or vice versa. Two years ago, it got a little more complicated when we moved in together and really wanted to be together all the time, especially during the holidays. Then last year, it got even more complicated because we were engaged. And this year, we'll have been married for 6 months by the time Dec 26th rolls around, so the complications are even greater.

At this point in our relationship, it would seem kind of odd for us to show up to whatever family functions either side is hosting without our spouse. And that worries me slightly, because parting ways so we could spend enough time with our respective families used to be the only way we could manage this whole mess.

To make matters worse, I'm still not sure how we're even going to handle family gatherings on his side since his brother openly discouraged him from marrying me a day before our wedding on Facebook. Mr. FP hasn't talked to his brother since and I have absolutely no desire to be in the same room with him at this point...

Jeez, it's only October and this is already such a big deal. Maybe only in my head right now, but it might be an uphill battle from here.

Maybe I'll just spend the next 3 months praying that our families don't happen to schedule anything on the same night.

Wishful thinking? Maybe.

Okay, definitely. But I'm stickin' to it.

Man, being a grown up sucks sometimes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Giveaway! $45 from CSN Stores

If you haven't already heard of CSN Stores and their ridiculously extensive collection of online stores.... well, now you have.

In their 200+ stores, these folks have everything from upholstered dining chairs to decorative pillows to one of the largest selections of cookware I've ever seen. If you haven't been over to their site directory, you can find it here. Seriously. Go.

For any of you who are getting ready to move into a new place or for those of you who want to spruce up the old homestead, this collection is an invaluable resource.

And to help you guys out a little, I'm happy to have been given the chance to host a giveaway for a $45 gift code that can be used at any of CSN Store's 200+ stores!

How to enter:

1) Leave your name/nickname/e-mail or some sort of identifying feature in the comments below (I need to be able to contact you via e-mail for you to claim your prize).

2) Become a follower of my blog to enter a second time.

3) Enter a third time by re-posting this giveaway on your own blog and leaving a comment with a link to your post.

4) Enter a forth time by Tweeting/Facebook-ing/social networking the contest and leaving a comment with a link.

Make sure to leave a comment for each entry (ie. one when you leave your name, another if you become a follower etc.).

Entries good until 7 a.m. Monday (October 11th) morning.

Happy entering and good luck!

Friday, October 1, 2010

one day at a time

Remember a long time ago, a few days before our wedding, when I said that I was desperately trying to reduce my obsession with wedding inspiration? And then, a day later, remember how I failed?

Yeah, well, we've been married a while now and I'm still addicted.
It's pathetic.

For the amount of wedding inspiration I still see on a daily basis, I feel like I need to have another wedding. (Ha, as if Mr. FP would ever allow that.)

Every time we drive by the local dress store or I see an ad for a wedding vendor, I secretly harbor the desire to plan another wedding. Funny thing is, had you asked me whether or not I ever wanted to plan another wedding on June 25th, I would have laughed in your face.

Then cry and hyperventilate because I was so nervous and anxious.

Thankfully, for those of you who are still in the midst of wedding planning bliss (or terror), there's plenty of resources to make your lives a little easier.

Something that we didn't even consider during our wedding is the idea of attending wedding events where all the wedding vendors from the area gather together to show off their awesomeness.

We didn't exactly need to attend a ton of wedding shows because we had a limited amount of vendors considering the fact that our venue was owned by my family (and, let's face it, Nana is no vendor), but for the majority of couples, dealing with wedding vendors is a reality. And looking back, some of these bridal tradeshows could have been exceedingly useful to us while we were panicking about tent rentals, portable toilets, and catering companies.

On the plus side, I've got a few girlfriends who are well on their way to wedding planning and I can always tag along with them to the wedding events I never got to experience during our wedding planning.

Now all I need is a cover story for Mr. FP. If he found out I was immersing myself in wedding land again, he might have a heart attack.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

3 months down

I know, I know, I know. I've officially become the slackest blogger on the face of the planet. Give me a break. Being married is enough work, but when you add onto that a new semester of school... well, let's just say that blogging hasn't been at the forefront of my mind lately.

And I can't believe how much has been happening since I've been away! There have been weddings left and right, and babies are showing up everywhere. (Well, technically, they haven't quite shown up yet, but we've seen photos of them floating around in there.)

Amidst all this blog-o-sphere wedding bliss, Mr. FP and I have have been adjusting to married life for the past 3 months. Yep, it was 3 months from this past Sunday that we had our wedding. And some days it feels like it's been way longer. Some days it feels as though we've been married for years. Key words being "some days".

Other days, it feels brand new. Other days I can't believe that it's been 3 months since everyone got together at my grandparents' cottage to celebrate with us because it feels like it just happened. (Which is probably yet another reason why it took us so long to get the Thank You cards sent out.)

And more often than not, I find myself wondering whether or not I feel differently about our relationship and life together than I did back before we signed that little piece of paper in front of our friends and family. Meg told me it would be different. She, and almost everyone who wrote pieces for her site, insisted we'd feel differently somehow.

But just between you and I, I didn't believe her. I thought that Meg was a liar.
Okay, not really.

But I couldn't imagine how it could possibly feel different. We'd been living together for almost 2 years already and I thought we'd linked our lives together as securely as we ever would be able to.

Pft, what the hell did I know?

Let me tell you, here and now, it's different. Well, it is for us anyway. Tons of ladies and gents still insist that it's no different, and that's cool; to each his own. But it feels different for us.

Maybe if I were better with words or if I somehow invented a machine that could express in writing how I feel, then I could translate it better. Alas, I'm no writer and I'm certainly not an inventor. But there are at least a couple of things that I can express about how and why it feels different to be married:

First of all, finger bling. Our wedding rings have become my most prized possession in the world. Seriously. Can't live without them. I take mine off to shower or do dishes, but other than that, it's stuck on good. His.... well, his is a different story. He's still adjusting to finger bling for the moment. He forgets to wear it sometimes. But even those days have a silver lining because he always feels insanely guilty about forgetting it. And he's admitted to secretly hoping that I don't notice. The best part is that the guilt he feels is self-inflicted. So cute.

Second, we finally got around to adding me to his banking account and once my student credit line is paid off, we'll be able to close mine which means we are financially linked. In fact, if Mr. FP ever wants to take me off his account, he'll have to close it entirely and get a brand new one. The lady at the bank helped to reinforce the commitment we made. Who knew.

Third, and here's a big one, it feels different because it feels more secure. People get engaged all the time, and people call off engagements all the time. And I'd like to say that when you enter the institution of marriage, you instantly become more committed than you were during the engagement, but let's face it, people get divorced as often as people call off engagements.

When it comes to our marriage, we take a page out of the book of Will & Jada. Yeah, I said it. Because it's true. I sounds stupid, but when I saw them on Ellen a few years ago, they were talking about how divorce isn't an option for them:

"What I found is divorce just can't be an option," the actor explained. "It's really that simple. And I think that's the problem with L.A. – there are so many options. So a huge part of the success for [Jada] and I is that we just removed the other options."

The secret to their success? "We're like listen, we're going to be together one way or the other so we might as well try to be happy," he said. (source)

For me, this was a necessity. I spent the better part of my childhood in mortal fear that my parents were going to be getting a divorce. Why? Well, because they told us, on more than one occasion when I was growing up, that they might be either getting a divorce or separating. And although they never did, the insecurity caused by the fact that divorce was an option for them haunted me for years.

So, for us, it's not an option.

Now, I'll be honest, I do think the theory behind this is slightly flawed. There are always deal-breakers; everyone has them. When we say that divorce is not an option, it's a bit of a white lie because our deal-breakers are infidelity and abuse.

And I don't think the Smith/Pinkett effect works for everyone; I think you really have to know that your relationship boils down to something good in the end because you can't maintain a relationship that is flawed from the beginning.

But every time we think that things might not work out, the "divorce is not an option" helps to remind us that our relationship, at it's core, is good and that the crap we're going through in the moment will eventually go away naturally or because we work through it.

And with family drama, trying to pay for my school and the possibility of a new job for Mr. FP, we definitely have plenty of the temporary crap to deal with. The first 3 months have been a doozy. And I know it's uphill from here. That sounds bad, but honestly, I'm not worried.

Somehow a few choice words and a piece of paper managed to powerfully remind us once again that we're a team.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

$100 Nordstrom Giveaway: We Have a Winner

.... Lyndsay M!

Congratulations, Lyndsay. Either myself or Miss Chin from DesignerApparel.com will be in contact with you shortly to let you know how you can claim your prize.

I also want to give a big thanks to everyone else who entered! For those of you who didn't win, there's still tons of chances to cure your Mother of the Bride (or Groom) outfit woes, so check out some similar giveaways at Lucky In Love, A Mountain Bride, and Souris Mariage for more chances to win!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Giveaway Reminder: Win $100 Gift Card from Nordstrom

Since you all have incredibly busy lives, I thought it might be a good idea to remind you that the giveaway I'm hosting for $100 gift card from Nordstrom will be closed for business Monday morning!

So go enter if you haven't already or you'll regret it when someone else is toting around the $100 gift card they won and the bragging rights that go along with it.

You've been warned.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Giveaway: $100 Gift Card from Nordstrom

Most people who have planned a wedding know about the complicated search for wedding attire. From the bridal gown to the groom's threads to the wedding party's clothing and finally to the parents and close relatives of the couple, attire isn't exactly a simple thing to figure out when it comes to weddings. It's way too many people, trying to coordinate way too many different outfits. It's complicated. It's annoying. It's exhausting.

For Mr. FP and I, the issue of attire arose early in the wedding planning process. The first time his mom asked me about it, I was dumbfounded. I had no idea that the attire of our loved ones fell on our to-do list. And when I realized that both our mothers were excessively concerned about what they were wearing and how they didn't want to clash with one another or with the wedding party, well, gosh, it was a lot to deal with.

And as if the situation wasn't complicated enough, we also wanted to keep things casual because we'd be outdoors and it was the end of June, which could easily translate into excessive heat on the wedding day. Those factors alone pretty much negate many of the traditional mother of the bride outfits. There would be no ballgowns, no pant suits.

Needless to say, it was a little messy for us. But thankfully (after a few months), we settled on outfits that pleased everyone involved and they all came to our wedding clothed. Thank God.

But if someone had come to me 10 months ago and told me they could make the whole attire situation a little easier on us, I would have kissed them.

Well, folks, you can kiss me and the folks from DesignerApparel.com because we're here to make your lives a little easier.

They have an awesome page on their website dedicated exclusively to Mother of the Bride dresses and with popular MOTB brands like Adrianna Papell, Tadashi, and Eileen Fisher, they may be able to save you some heartache in your hunt for the perfect outfit for yo mommas.

A resource like this would have been a godsend to us a few months ago, so for those of you still immersed in the world of wedding attire, I would highly encourage that you check them out.

And to make this even easier on you, I'm hosting a giveaway for a $100 gift card for Nordstrom since they have an extensive selection of dresses that would work great for weddings. Or, if you're done with the outfit selection, you can check out their main wedding page for other wedding details like accessories, shoes, and makeup.

(And don't worry, all you married ladies and gentlemen out there, you can still enter and use the gift card toward something pretty while you bask in the happiness of being done with the mess that is wedding attire.)

How to enter:

1) Leave your name/nickname/e-mail or some sort of identifying feature in the comments below (I need to be able to contact you via e-mail for you to claim your prize).

2) Become a follower of my blog to enter a second time.

3) Enter a third time by re-posting this giveaway on your own blog and leaving a comment with a link to your post.

4) Enter a forth time by Tweeting/Facebook-ing/social networking the contest and leaving a comment with a link.

Make sure to leave a comment for each entry (ie. one when you leave your name, another if you become a follower etc.).

Entries good until 7 a.m. Monday (September 6th) morning.

Happy entering and good luck!

Monday, August 30, 2010

photography hindsight

When we first started discussing what we wanted to get out of our wedding photography, the subject of candid versus posed photos was quick to enter the discussion.

As we poured over the dozens of photographers in our area, I kept feeling like everything was too stodgy, too stiff, and quite frankly, it didn't look like fun. Some of the formal shots, or more posed couples portraits looked awkward and uncomfortable to me.

And since I'm already a shy person who was having concerns about how comfortable I'd be when I was being stalked by a photographer on my wedding day, uncomfortable posing was the last thing I wanted.

As for Mr. FP, well, he's not the most photogenic person in the world. Don't get me wrong, he's a handsome man, but if you put him in front of a camera, somehow his handsomeness doesn't translate well. Why? Well, because when he's staring down the barrel of a camera, he gets this awkward, fake smile on his face that causes him to look as though he were insanely uncomfortable when the photo was taken. Want a better visual? Watch this video.

You could easily replace Matthew Perry with my husband and achieve the same effect.

Not the ideal situation for a wedding day, right? A bride who is actually uncomfortable and a groom who looks like he's uncomfortable simply to be alive.

So, we made it our life's mission to find someone wouldn't put us into awkward positions where I'm trying to jump around in a wedding dress, pose us with my veil over our head while we kiss, or arrange the bridesmaids bouquets on the train of my dress (seriously, how could that ever seem remotely natural?).

But as adamant as we were to avoid the posed photos, well, that's all our families wanted. My mom didn't even understand the meaning of candid photography. When we showed examples of what we wanted, our families were confused. Why would we want detail shots of our decor or of the books we were using for ceremony readings? Why was it important to have a photo of the groom in converse and the bride in bare feet?

Overall, the sentiment seemed to be that candid photography was a waste of time when we were spending so much money on a photographer. And speaking of money, neither set of parents seemed to understand the need to spend upwards of $1000 on a photographer when there are people in the city who will do it for $250.

Once again, I found myself doubting our choice. (Shock, I know.) What if we really didn't need to pay so much for photography? Do we really need shots of the minor details? Maybe the more traditional style of photography would be better? Maybe formal is better, I mean, after all, it is a wedding? Couldn't we forgo the idea of a photographer all together and stick with disposable cameras used by the guests?

Thankfully, I regained some sanity and realized that we were making the right decision. Although it would take up a large chunk of our budget, photography was and always will be our number one priority. I'm a photo person. I have millions of them. Photographs are a huge source of nostalgia for me and being an extremely sentimental person, the idea of having wedding photos that were of poor quality simply wasn't an option for us. I mean, really, who wants to look back 20 years from now and see stuff like this? Not us, that's for sure.

And as happy as we are with our decision, looking back there is one thing I would change. I would be more open to the idea of formal portraits. I was so against them and although we'd always planned to do them to satisfy our parents and grandparents, I didn't think anything of them. But now that we have our photos back, I'm extremely glad we have them.

Don't get me wrong, I love that our couples portraits weren't done in a formal fashion. There was no jumping. No awkward hugging. There was, however, some veil over the head action. Only to mock the ridiculous practice of trying to make a couple kissing under a veil look natural, of course. Here's how ours turned out.

Romantic, right?

Um, no. But it was funny to take and it's funny to look at.

And so were the rest of the photos. It was fun. It wasn't scary. It wasn't stressful. I didn't feel awkward and Mr. FP actually looks like he wanted to be there. They were romantic and we were happy to be there because our amazing photographer made us feel at ease. We knew she wouldn't make us do anything strange. She just let us be and only gave us direction when we needed to switch it up a little. We were thankful for that, actually, because she's the one who knows what looks good, not us.

It's these photos that remain my favorite but I'm glad our families pushed us towards the formal portraits. We have awesome photos of us with my parents, his parents, my grandparents, our siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and my favorite photos are the ones where we got all members of the 4 branches of our families for a photo with us. If we wanted our wedding to have any sort of theme, it was that of a family reunion and these photos reflect that. How often do you get the chance to have all the people you love together? And how often is there a professional photographer there? Unless you're lucky enough to have one in the family, probably not very often. And as awesome as candid photography is, I think the formals are the best way to capture the faces of those closest to you.

Were they awkward? I'm not going to lie, yep, a little. Did I enjoy standing in the same spot for 20 minutes while people shifted in and out of position? It wasn't the worst thing in the world? Did I just want to leave to take photos with my new husband and to get the freakin' reception started? Um, yes.

But were they worth the annoyance and slight discomfort we experienced?

Hell yes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

DIY: candy buffet + guest favors

I know, I know, it's been almost two months since our wedding and I'm still working on the DIY project posts that I didn't have time to get to before the wedding. Ridiculous.

(personal photo)

A week before the wedding, the favor boxes were assembled in all their glory but we had to wait to purchase the candy because we didn't want it to go stale. And a few days before the wedding, we found ourselves in the bulk food store and I was dying to buy up all the candy I could.

After months of looking up different ways to put together a candy buffet, I knew I was ready do it for our wedding. I had tons of inspiration photos. Tons. Some featured candy buffets with upwards of 20 different kinds of candy, some were color coordinated and some looked like fairies had assembled them.

Ours was none of these things. But guess what? We still loved it.

With only 3 days before the wedding, the last thing on my mind was the beautiful collection of inspiration photos I had gathered. Neither of us had the energy to make sure that the candy was color coordinated or that the shapes of each type of candy we selected was proportionate to the others. We picked what we wanted (and what we knew our guests would like) and left the rest.

Screw color coordination, screw picking candy that tastes disgusting simple because it looks pretty, screw making sure we have at least a half a pound for every guest attending... basically, screw caring too much about candy. It's not a centerpiece. It's not a piece of artwork. It's not holding together our wedding. It's candy. People will eat it and then... well... you know what happens to food after it's digested.

All in all, we went for a variety to make sure that everyone from the tiniest kiddies to the people with dentures had something to eat and we ended up spending about $60 on the candy alone.

As for the containers, well, my mom had been kind enough to collect quite a collection of vases over the course of our engagement so we had more than enough when it came time to set up the candy. Most of the vases were from the dollar store and in total, we probably spent around $20 on them in total. (Added bonus, the vases can now either be sold or reused in our apartment... sweet!)

Finally, since candy buffets aren't exactly a mainstream wedding component in our families, we needed a sign so people would know what the hell all that candy was doing there. If you google "candy buffet sign" or "candy buffet poem", you will come up with a lot of cheesiness. Seriously, a lot. Who knew there could be that much cheese associated with candy? Being the anti-cheese couple that we are, none of this seemed to work. So we made a variation on a frequently used candy buffet saying and came up with this:

(all photos by our photographer, unless otherwise stated)
(click to enlarge)

Quick, to the point, and it doesn't rhyme. Perfect for us.

Making the sign was uber simple. 5 minutes to type up and print it off in a nice shade of blue was followed by another 2 minutes to cut and glue it onto a piece of cardstock. Add a frame from the dollar store and voila! you've got yourself a candy buffet sign.

So we transported everything to the cottage (very carefully) and assembled them the night before with the help of some friends and family. The biggest stress of the whole process? Getting the stupid price stickers off of the vases. We also decided to cover them with saran wrap because they'd be outdoors and unattended for a short period while the ceremony was happening. We didn't want to attract bees. Silly mother nature.

Oh, and another key component that I almost forgot to mention: scoops! If it weren't for my mom, I would have completely forgotten to buy something for people to scoop the candy with. Duh. She found two set of 3 at the dollar store and also purchased a pair of plastic tongs for the candy that was too sticky to scoop (like gummie worms).

Needless to say, the whole thing went over exceedingly well. When we made our way around to the tables halfway through the reception, most people had already filled their containers and were munching on the candy. We received tons of compliments on it and most importantly, the eyes on the kids at our wedding looked like they were going to pop out of the heads they were attached to. Those children could not get enough and since many of them were involved in our wedding, we were happy to see them decent upon the candy (more than once or twice, I might add).

(guest photo)

Months ago, I was scared about how much this would end up costing. I'd heard stories of people spending upwards of $500. Not $500 total. More like $500 just on candy. Crazy!

Obviously, we had no desire to spend that much, so here's our real world, non WIC world cost breakdown:
  • ridiculous amount of candy from bulk food store: $60
  • containers: $20
  • sign: $2 (frame from dollar store: $2, cardstock I already had: free!)
  • scoops and tongs: $5
  • take-out boxes: $30 (pack of 3 from dollar store x 30)
  • stickers from Etsy: $22
Total cost for candy buffet and guest favors: $139

Woohoo! It may not have been color coordinated and it wasn't exactly a piece of artwork, but it was cheap, cheerful, and a great way to say thanks to all of our guests. Who doesn't like a good sugar buzz?

The only downside? By the end of the night, there was no candy left for us. Sad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

our wedding: the reaction

As I mentioned before, we did our best to create a wedding that was authentically "us". We removed things that we didn't like and we emphasized the things that were important to us.

It all sounds so easy, right? Well, it wasn't. Even though we had decided early in the process that we wedding was about us, we still encountered plenty of resistance to this concept.

With the dozens of different views and beliefs we were surrounded by, it was difficult to resist the ideas that didn't fit within our vision of the wedding. Both of our families maintain a fairly traditional view of marriage and weddings which meant that ours would be something that many of them had never experienced before. I can't remember the last wedding in either of our families that didn't include a church ceremony, a banquet hall reception, a cake cutting, a first dance, and a grand exit.

This was disconcerting for us. Although it was important to us that our wedding be an honest reflection of us as a couple, our friends and families were a huge part of our big day and we wanted everyone to have a good time. Being the people pleasers that we are, we certainly didn't want our wedding to be thought of as the weird one of the family. Okay, I'm a big liar. The people pleaser thing is all on me, I don't think Mr. FP could have cared either way.

But with a cottage venue, a groom in sneakers, a cupcake tower, a photo booth, and a lack of dancing, I kept thinking about how weird this would probably be for most of our guests. I mean, not only did we make a few alterations to the traditional wedding formula, but we chucked almost the whole thing out. I mean, literally, almost the whole thing. Other than the fact that we were getting married and that there would be food, our wedding had very little else in common with the other weddings in our families.

Of course, by wedding blog standards, our wedding was going to be perfectly normal. After spending so many months reading about weddings like ours, I almost feel as though the collective community of "offbeat couples" have re-written the formula for weddings.

If the traditional wedding formula dictates that a wedding include a church ceremony, grand entrance, banquet hall reception, sit down dinner, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, and a dance party... offbeat weddings usually include an authentic ceremony, a unique decorated reception, a photo booth, a pie table, and a dance party.

Although the very nature of the anti-wedding industrial complex movement is opposed to the concept of any kind of wedding formula because each wedding is unique to each couple, the latter seems to be considered more acceptable by the wedding blog community.

But our families aren't exactly as immersed in the offbeat wedding movement as we were, so how were they supposed to know that photo booths and cupcakes were normal. Wouldn't they just think this stuff was weird? Would they think our wedding was lacking because it didn't follow the flow of weddings they had attended in the past?

Honestly, in the weeks before our wedding, I thought that most of our family would probably think our wedding was weird. But because we were so determined to have an honest and authentic day, we didn't care. Weird or not, this was the wedding they'd be attending.

As it turns out, they didn't think it was weird at all.

I was shocked.

Everyone was so happy to be there that no one seemed to notice the lack of a grand entrance, first dance, and bouquet toss. And if they did notice, they didn't seem to care. Everyone was elated by the location, the food, the do-it-together flowers, the tissue paper poms, and the cupcakes amongst other things. Even though it was a different experience for most of them, some of the best compliments we received were given because of the unique elements we included. And even better than the compliments on the details was the amount of love we received from our families and friends who were thrilled to join us at our wedding.

Although I'd been told that the elation of family and friends usually overcomes any differences of opinion concerning the formula weddings should follow (especially from the Wedding Graduates over at A Practical Wedding) but I don't think I was ever able to truly believe it. I wanted to. Oh hell yes, I wanted to believe it more than anything. But I was convinced that our wedding would be too far outside the box for most of our family members.

Looking back, I should have given our families more credit. Although our wedding was unlike anything most of our guests had attended in the past, the love we received from them was just as powerful as it would have been if we'd hosted our wedding in a banquet hall. I should have realized that from the beginning, but I was too consumed by my need to live up to the expectations of our guests.

From where I stand now, I only wish I could have set aside these worries long ago and realized early in the process that our family would be able to appreciate our wedding for what it was... an expression of our love for one another.

So stop worrying yourselves. You know who you are. You're the ones who spend hours agonizing over the traditions you know you want to ditch but don't because you're afraid of what your families or friends might think. So I hope that you don't spend too much time worrying about the reactions of others.

Instead, I hope you remain true to what you and your partner need and want. Keep in mind, it's your wedding, not theirs. Yes, they are a part of it, but you and your partner are the center. People will accept and embrace the changes you make to the wedding formula so don't think otherwise.

I tell you this in spite of the fact that I know that you probably won't be able to truly listen or understand until your wedding is over, until you have experienced that joy.

Here's to hoping you figure it out sooner rather than later because you could save yourself some worrying and heartache.

If I could go back 3 months and clear my brain of the space that worrying about others occupied, I could have made room for a brooch bouquet and wedding bunting. Dang.

Monday, August 9, 2010

our wedding: more tough stuff

After all the family drama on the Mr.'s side, his brother didn't end up attending our wedding. We're still not really sure why, in fact. His mother contends that it's because his brother didn't feel included enough because he wasn't a member of the wedding party and because he wasn't invited to the rehearsal dinner. I'm not sure what to think about that, and at this point, we don't really care. Well, that's a lie. Mr. FP isn't a robot. He's upset that his brother wasn't there, but there's nothing he can do about it now and he's just done dealing with his brother for the moment.

And because his brother didn't attend, Mr. FP's mother wasn't in the best of moods that day. And that's putting it lightly. His father was so much help and my parents did a ridiculous amount of work setting up at the cottage, but we didn't see his mother until the night of the rehearsal dinner for a two hours and then half an hour before the ceremony started. And that reading we asked her to do? Well, she passed it onto Mr. FP's father. She told us... actually, no, Mr. FP's father told us for her, that she thought she would be too emotional during the ceremony to do it. I'm not sure what to make of that. I'd like to believe that she couldn't possibly still be so bitter about the guest list situation that she would refuse to do a reading at her son's wedding, but I never really know how she works. On the day of the wedding, she said all of two words to Mr. FP and said absolutely nothing to me. She was cordial to our guests and seemed to be enjoying herself, but we didn't get to enjoy any moments with her because she was acting so distant.

Honestly, these things could have ruined our wedding. A cold mom and an absent brother has some serious wedding ruining potential, let's face it.

But thankfully, it didn't put a damper on our day. Once we realized that his mom wasn't going to set aside her differences with us and be happy for us on our wedding day, we decided to save ourselves the heartache and stop trying to force some sort of meaningful connection.

To make matters worse, when we returned from our honeymoon, we found some messages that Mr. FP's brother had sent him on the day before our wedding. In a previous conversation, his brother had invited him out for drinks before the wedding, but since we were going to be at the cottage that night, Mr. FP declined but told his brother that they could get together after the honeymoon. The message his brother sent the day before our wedding simply said "don't do it" and was followed up a few hours later with a second message that implied that Mr. FP was too young to be married and that he hadn't experienced anything in life yet.

Needless to say, we didn't take that too well. I don't think I've ever seen Mr. FP so angry about something, actually. Understandably so. Although I'd like to say that I'm not surprised because his brother has been an ass before, I was shocked. Floored. The day before our wedding? Really? And what's with the preceding invitation to have drinks? Was he going to try to take Mr. FP out of marrying me, to leave me at the altar? Not the most pleasant thoughts to have to deal with the day after the honeymoon ended, I admit.

I don't bring this situation up to complain, because I want sympathy, or because I enjoy pointing out the ways in which our lives seem to parallel the story lines of mid-afternoon soap operas. Nope. I bring it up simply because this is how it went for us. I desperately hope that no one else has to deal with something like this during and/or after their wedding, but the reality is that some may have to.

Everything I read before the wedding assured me that the guest list fights, the disagreements over the details, and the sour taste in our mouths would disappear. Everything told me that people would set aside their scwabbles for the wedding day and would simply be full of joy to see us celebrate our love.

For the most part, this is true. But as far as my mother-in-law and brother-in-law, this wasn't the case. For us, this ended up being reality and while it didn't ruin our wedding by any means, it still happened. When we think specifically about his mother and brother and our wedding, that sour taste is still there. It still hurts and I'm not sure Mr. FP's relationship (or mine, for that matter) with his family will ever be the same.

I, perhaps naively, thought that people would be able to set aside their differences for at least one day, and they didn't. Everyone told me they would. Everyone told us that these things would wash away once the wedding was over. Well, we've been married a month and it's still not sunshine and rainbows. It sucks, but it happens.

And I think it happens to more couples than most people think. It happened to us and something similar is bound to happen to someone else if statistics have anything to say about it.

We've realized at this point that weddings aren't magic erasers. The joy they produce, although amazing, can't always scrub up the deeply rooted issues that plague us in the planning stages. Sometimes those issues leave stains and we're left to deal with them after the wedding.

But no one talks about this. No one says out loud that their brother in law is an ass or that their mother in law acted like a cold bitch on their wedding day.

Well then I guess I'm starting a trend, because for us, it was true. In my experience, most people prefer to act as though their lives post-wedding are full of marital bliss. But that's not always the case. For us, there has been some serious marital bliss, yes. Absolutely. That could not be more true. But in between those moments of marital bliss, there's been moments of tears from both us. There's been breakdowns. There's been an endless amount of discussions about where to go from here. There's been a sparring match in which his parents attempt to justify the message his brother sent to us.

These are stains we can't erase.
These are things we can't forget.
These are struggles that we will likely have to deal with for many days to come.

Nevertheless, these moments help us to become stronger as husband and wife.

Holy silver lining, batman.

So if it happens to you, all I can suggest is that you ride the wave, baby. Because people will behave however they please at your wedding and you won't be able to do a damn thing about it. But don't let it ruin your day, and don't make it second guess the choices that you made that may have upset people. As long as you and your partner are satisfied when the sun goes down on your wedding day, it will have been a success.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

etsy how-to: bridal bouquet

Oh man, why couldn't Etsy have posted this post in their Handmade Weddings series two months ago? The tip to wire shorter stems to longer ones? Genius! And that lace wrap makes me seriously jealous.

If you're thinking about DIY-ing any bouquets, I'd highly recommend that you check it out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

our wedding: the honesty

From the very beginning of our wedding planning, Mr. FP and I did our best to create an authentic and honest wedding. We always wanted something that was very "us".

But in the modern world of weddings, this concept can be tricky to come across. With couples on The Knot creating only slightly differentiating weddings from one another and the rest of the wedding industry telling us what our wedding should be, it's a rough situation out there for couples who want a truly authentic wedding. Early in our engagement, we spent time worrying about how we were going to pay for all of these things we "had to have". The wedding industry's words, not ours.

And aside from the subject of money, what happens when a couple simply doesn't want to include these things? What if the groom is really self conscience about his dancing skills and doesn't want to have all the attention focused on him during a first dance? What if the bride thinks the whole tradition of tossing the bouquet is a waste of time? What if they want to serve pie for dessert instead of wasting $600 on a cake no one will eat?

According to the wedding industry, those people are weird and their wedding will be lacking in one form or another. The more elements from the traditional wedding formula that a couple cuts, the more the wedding industry loses interest in them. Somehow, because they don't want to include certain elements, their wedding isn't as good as it could have been. If only they had come to their senses and done what they were supposed to do...

Let's face it, when we're planning weddings, we're surrounded by expectations. Even if we manage to escape the fiscal pressure of the wedding industry, we still experience the pressure of the expectations of others. Our friends and families have their own idea about what our wedding should be and they are infinitely harder to ignore.

This was the case for us, no doubt. After a month or two of being engaged, it was easy enough for me to flip the bird whenever the wedding industry told me what we needed to have at our wedding. But when it came to family and friends, the rough wasn't so smooth. In fact, it was down right bumpy.

Although some of the opinions we received came from the right place as our friends and family wanted us to have the best possible wedding experience (like when people told me to lighten my DIY load), it was still rough to deal with opposing opinions. And then, of course, we had tons of people who simply wanted to insert their opinion. Not to be caring or because they were concerned about us but simply because they wanted to say what was on their mind. And even though I knew these comments weren't constructive, I still spent time dwelling on them. More time than I should have. So much so that it's embarrassing when I consider it from the other side.

From the other side, the side of marriage, I can now see how ridiculous all the second guessing really was. I mean, it felt silly at the time, but now I'm flat out angry at myself for letting other people cause me to doubt our wedding. Because in spite of these opposing opinions, our wedding was perfectly "us". We dropped the things we were uncomfortable with and we kept the things that were important to us.

That meant that there was no first dance, no cake cutting and no bouquet toss.

Instead, it meant that our guests were surrounded by the handmade projects we'd poured ourselves into for months.

Instead, we were able to feel truly comfortable at our wedding instead of feeling constricted by a wedding formula we were obligated to follow.

Instead of following the rules, we followed what we wanted, and I could not be happier about it.

That decision, the one we made early in the process, that we do what we wanted, not what other people wanted for us, was the best decision we made the entire time.

Even better than the Mario and Peach cake topper. Yep, it was that good.

Monday, August 2, 2010

DIY: photo booth + templates

In the past year of writing this blog, I've talked about wedding photo booths about a gazillion times, as you can plainly see here.

When we came across the idea for the first time in the crazy world that is online wedding inspiration, we immediately fell in love with the idea. Couldn't get it out of our heads kind of love. I have a giant folder on my computer devoted to photo booth inspiration. We debated the use of props. We weighed our backdrop options. We thought of the perfect place to hang it.

In the end, it wasn't nearly as much work as I'd thought it would be. It consisted of a few simple mustaches on sticks and a backdrop which was fashioned out of our living room curtains. Tie it to a tree and weight it down because it was windy on our wedding day and voila! photo booth.

And thanks to our crazy family and some extra props provided by our photographer, the wedding day photo booth photos are now some of our favorites because they're simple yet hilarious.

(first 2 photos by our photographer; photo booth photos courtesy of Mr. FP's cousin)

We ended up asking a cousin of Mr. FP to man the photo booth with our camera and I'd highly recommend this method to anyone considering a photo booth. If you use a friend, you don't need to monopolize the precious time you have with your photographer on the photo booth. It's entertaining to guests if you plan on doing photos between the ceremony and reception like we did and let's face it, photo booth photos don't require much artistic creation from a professional.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen some very artsy photo booth photos and thought they were divine, but our favorites ended up being the simple ones with the backdrop centered and people standing in front of it. Nothing artsy. Nothing complicated. Nothing someone who has even a basic knowledge of cameras can't help you with. Just crazy people with mustaches.

Speaking of which, I finally compiled all those templates of mustaches like I'd promised and I'm included them below. Just click on the images below to enlarge and save the large, original version. They're sized to print on standard, letter paper but the size could easily be adjusted if you wanted bigger or smaller. (Feel free to let me know if you have trouble accessing them from this post because I could always try e-mailing them too.)



As far as the assembly process, I'd highly recommend that you don't attach standard printer paper directly to a stick because it'll likely be too flimsy and will damage easily. We traced them onto white card stock and glued felt on top, but you could also just cut out the mustaches from the printer paper and attach them directly to card stock if you wanted to forgo the felt.

The mustaches and mouth should be pretty straight forward, but I'd advise that you use extra caution when cutting out the glasses because they're more difficult. I'd highly recommend use a craft knife (I got mine at the dollar store) instead of scissors for those. And the dowels can easily be found at the dollar store as well; check the seasonal or BBQ section of the store because the ones we bought were actually supposed to be used as kabob skewers.

Happy 'staching!

Friday, July 30, 2010

our wedding: reception details

Mr. FP. Sure, he's a detail. Or, at least, his tie is. It was made custom by Etsy's toybreaker and everyone loved it. The boys sporting similar ones, but theirs were in black while his was charcoal. Want "tie that don't suck"? Check out toybreaker. I desperately need to get my hands on one of their silk scarves.

Hours, and hours, and hours, and hours were spent on these babies. I never want to see another piece of tissue paper so long as I live. Okay, that's a lie. But it will be a very long time before I make any more of these poms again. But it was worth it. In combination with the white paper lanterns, these beauties added a nice punch of color to the otherwise white space and we got so many compliments on them. Plus some requests from my sister's friends who simply must have some for their bedrooms. Thank goodness we had left overs. And the rest? They're hanging from our living room ceiling, forever reminding us of our wedding tent.

Mario and Peach. Read all about their creation here. I'm pretty sure our ring bearer was hoping we'd ask him to take our cake topper home with him. Tough. We're hanging on to this baby.

The reception flowers. One of the best ways we saved money. From the first months of our engagement, I was panicked about how much centerpieces would cost. $30 a pop? Times 12 tables? I mean, that's not expensive by normal wedding standards, but it could easily take up 1/8 of our budget. Ah, hell no. Thankfully, I came across the idea of potted centerpieces and fell in love with the idea. So I painted pots and we purchased the flowers two weeks before the wedding. We went with a mix of gebera- and dahlia-esque potted plants in a variety of colors and my grandmother was kind enough to plant and tend to them. Combine that with some gorgeous fabric and voila! centerpieces for under $6 each.

(guest photo)

Our fortune telling fish. The funniest novelty I'd ever heard of. When I came across them in HeyYoYo's Etsy shop, I had to have them for the wedding. Thankfully, Mr. FP concurred. Basically, they're supposed to tell the mood of the person whose hand they touch, depending on how their heads or tail moves. So if its head moves, you're feeling jealous. If its sides curl up, you're fickle. Etc, etc. Not an exact science, but hey, neither was our wedding.

We scattered them around the guest tables and were thrilled that people seemed to be enjoying them. Some people got so worked up by the results (especially when some members of the older generation kept getting "passionate") and they turned out to be quite the conversation piece. And even if fortune telling fish aren't your thing, you should definitely check out HeyYoYo; they have some seriously hilariously stuff, wedding or no.

Case in point.

(photo by yours truly)

(all photos by our photographer, unless otherwise stated)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DIY: card box (er, cage)

In the months leading up to our wedding, we were struggling to find a suitable solution for a card box. Every single card box option we looked at was either boring, overdone, or cheesy.

And 3 weeks before the wedding, we were still at a loss. No card box yet no desire to settle for something ugly or traditional... which usually turned out to be one in the same for us. We were looking for something unique, something interesting. And if we got really lucky, we were hoping to have something that we could re-purpose after the wedding for apartment art.

In the back of my mind, I held the ultimate solution. A bird cage card box. Pretty. Unique. Re-purpose-able. Perfect.

Yet, after scouring Michaels, Winners, HomeSense, and even a couple TJ Maxx's during our trip to Florida, I had yet to find any trace of a bird cage. Actually, that's a lie. I found a really cute one at Michaels, but it was way too small. As in, couldn't really even fit a card in it kind of small, so obviously that wasn't an option. Sad bride.

Who knew that the solution to our problem would come from my parents' shed. The shed full of creepy spiders and the lawn mower also happened to hold the solution to our card box issue.

After explaining the issue to my mom and asking her to keep an eye out at any auctions or yard sales she attends between then and the wedding, she pulled out a weird kind of cage. It wasn't a bird cage, per se, and it was in three separate pieces, it had no real hole for inserting cards, and to add insult to injury, it was a really unfortunate color of brown. (I desperately wish I had a before picture to share, but alas, I do not. Just trust me, it was really bad. Like, photo booth chalkboard before the paint job, kind of bad.)

Nonetheless, I took it home determined to make it work. Somehow.

Problem #1: It's in 3 separate pieces: top, middle, bottom.
Solution: Twist ties.

Problem #2: There's no hole to insert cards.
Solution: Cut the skinny wooden dowels that held it together in a straight line to make enough room to insert a card.

Problem #3: It was brown. Really dark, really ugly brown.
Solution: Spray paint for any kind of surface in a really pretty shade of blue.

And yet, even after all this work, it still didn't look quite right. The cuts that I had made to make room for cards wasn't straight and it looked horrendous. Thank goodness for ribbon. Lace ribbon, in fact. What a life saver. My new motto? If anything ever looks strange, put ribbon on it.

Slap on a piece of paper attached to a chunk of card stock to let people know what it's for, and voila! card cage.

(all photos by me, except the first, which is by our photographer)

And the best thing about this option? We didn't even have to make space on a table for it. Because of the hook on the top, we were able to hang it like a real bird cage in the reception tent.
Here it is on the left, hanging up next to the gift table as the kids oogle at the candy buffet.


(guest photo)

In the end, we never really solved our card box problem because didn't have a card box. We had a card cage. And although the twist ties we used to hold it together weren't a permanent solution (they lasted the entire wedding night, but gave way a week after the wedding when we tried to hang it in our apartment), it was a perfect last minute fix.

The total cost for the whole project worked out to about $10 since the spray paint cost $7 and the lace ribbon was from the dollar store.

Man, I love spray paint.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

our wedding: the reception pt. 2

By the time the reception came to a close, the cupcakes had been devoured, the candy buffet had been cleared out a dozen or so bottles of wine had been emptied. The in-between time is where the good stuff happens.

Aside from the food, our reception was full of laughter and celebration. Exactly what we needed.

Our officiant, Rosemary, sporting one of the photo booth props. Seriously, get an officiant you can laugh with. It worked wonders for us.

As unique and nontraditional as our wedding was, traditional and wonderful things remained standing during our reception. We had speeches. Heartfelt ones and hilarious ones. One in particular which will stand out forever in which my father, along with my cousins, brother, and sister, threatened Mr. FP's life with a dozen soccer balls.

To understand that one, you would have had to experience the first Thanksgiving dinner Mr. FP had ever spent with my family. It happened to be a perfect day for playing soccer that day and, being the soccer fiend that he is, Mr. FP decided to join in a not-really-a-game game of soccer on our front long with my cousins. Somewhere along the way, he recieved a blow with the soccer ball in a face courtesy of my cousin which broke his glasses in two. Entirely in two. To the point where he walked around like Harry Potter for a week with tape wrapped around the nose piece of his glasses.

This is the story that my father meticulously recreated for our guests during the reception in order to emphasize his desire that Mr. FP treat me properly in our married life. At the end of his speech, all of my cousins and siblings gracefully stood up and took out the soccer balls that had been hidden beneath their seats in order to remind Mr. FP of the bodily harm which awaits him should he cause me any heartache.

I laughed until I cried.
As far as I'm concerned, this takes the cake as far as father-of-the-bride speeches go.

And, of course, the obligatory traditional of tapping glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss was in full force that evening as well. Although, our wedding put a funny twist on it since we didn't actually use glass cups. Seeing people try to make a sound loud enough on the plastic wine glasses was hilarious.

Plastic drinkware? I know, I know, The Knot would cringe to hear this. Nevertheless, it worked perfectly for us. They were cheap and cheerful in a beautiful shade of blue. Plus, they were easy to clean up and we didn't have to worry about replacing any broken cups like we would have had to if we'd rented them.

In addition to the speeches, we were serenaded with a few verses of Taylor Swift by my precious little cousins. As if they hadn't done enough by helping with programs or acting as flower girls, they took it upon themselves to sing to us during the reception as well.

And that was it. The food was eaten. The wine was gulped. The cupcakes had been feverishly consumed. The candy buffet was empty (literally, empty, something Mr. FP is still bitter about because he didn't get to scoop any for himself).

There was no dramatic exit that signaled the end of the reception because we were spending the night at the cottage, so this gave guests the chance to periodically say their goodbyes to us. In addition to circling around the reception to visit each table, the individual goodbyes gave us a great opportunity to thank everyone for coming and to make sure we'd spent at least a little time with each person.

My older cousins and some friends were kind enough to act as shuttles for our guests since they had to park on the main road due to limited parking at the actual cottage. Although we'd been worried about how this would work, our guests responded extremely well and they knew who to find when they needed a ride back to the car. Friend valets rock.

By 9pm, most people were saying their last goodbyes and Mr. FP and I were more than ready for the day to be done. Although I understand the desire to dance the night away and party until 3am on your wedding day, that's just not us. We were ready to get changed and settle into the cottage's couch.

But, of course, we were in for one more giant surprise before turning in.
The weather.

Remember that little hazard? In spite of the fact that I knew we would have an amazing wedding regardless of the weather, I had worried myself sick about the weather and we were blessed that it had help out all day. All day, that is, until around 8:30. At that time, the downpour of all downpours began and we were thankful to have tents. And let me tell you, it was a blessing. We'd been so warm all day that it was nice to be refreshed by the rain. In fact, Mr. FP promptly removed his silk tie and took the opportunity to stand in the rain for a solid 5 minutes.

Everyone always says that rain on a wedding day is good luck. But with our outdoor venue, I thought rain was the kind of luck we could do without. Thankfully for us, we got both. Sunshine for the ceremony, photos, and reception and a torrential downpour to cap off the day.

And despite all the opinions we'd received prior to the wedding about spending the wedding night at the cottage when other family members would be staying there, the cottage turned out to be perfect. Almost every person who found out that we weren't going to an inn or hotel for that night had some sort of adverse reaction: "but, you'll want to be alone" ... "you can't spend your wedding night at a cottage" ... "aren't your parents, sister, aunt, uncle, and cousin staying there that night too?"

Screw them. We didn't have to pack, we barely had to move. A simple walk across the lawn from the reception tent and voila!, the honeymoon suite. And the next morning, it was a 40 foot walk to some of the best swimming ever. Nothing could have been better for us, so I'm glad we didn't cave into other people's ridiculous expectations for our wedding night. It was, after all, our wedding night. Some people have a difficult time getting that. Idiots.