Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bridal Bonanza

On Sunday my mother and I went to the Bridal Showcase that was held at the Patriot Center on George Mason's campus. The showcase featured vendors covering every aspect of wedding planning from venues to laser hair removal. There was even a fashion show of wedding dresses however there was only one dress in the whole bunch I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in.

I went to one of these bridal events many years ago with my sister in law when she was engaged and it was just as overwhelming as I remembered. It was pretty cool to meet vendors in person that I've been checking out online and even having the chance to taste some food and cakes from various caterers/bakers.

One of the main reasons I went was to enter all of the contests/sweepstakes that the vendors offer. Some of them I won't find out about for a week or two while other drawings were done that afternoon. As it turned out I did win 10% off of photography with one of the photographers there. My mom and I had briefly chatted with him before the drawing was done. Apparently he's pretty new to the business and right now is only able to do it on the side but he seems very passionate about photography and is hoping to make this his full time gig. Because he's so new his pricing is already very affordable and with the 10% discount I don't think I could find a better offer. This of course doesn't mean I've decided on him 100% but it's definitely something to consider. When I got home and I checked out his website and his portfolio was pretty good. As I told my mom I think one of the biggest benefits of using a new vendor (besides lower pricing) is that I think they will try harder because they are working to grow their business. This isn't to say that larger, established vendors are slackers who don't care, but if you're dissatisfied with their work it probably won't affect them quite as much.

Another great thing that came of our day was that we discovered a new venue I had never heard of, which is amazing considering all the internet research I've done. It's a resort down on the Northern Neck of VA, right on the water. We figure it's about an hour from Kristian's parents beach house. It's very spacious with various spots on site for a reception and from what I can tell so far the pricing doesn't seem too bad. I mentioned it to Kristian and he seemed excited about checking it out one weekend when we go to visit his parents.

Overall it was a great bonding experience with my mom and I walked away with a lot of useful information and some cool door prizes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jailhouse Rock

Everyday on my way to and from Kristian's condo I pass by what use to be the Lorton prison. All the main buildings are still there including the watchtowers. They've recently turned this area into an Arts Center http://www.workhousearts.org/ and he and I have been meaning to check it out sometime. It appears that each of the buildings have various galleries and we always see people walking around when we drive by.

Yesterday I got online to see what the art center is all about i.e. the hours of operation, ticket costs etc. As I was browsing around I noticed a section that mentioned the possibility of hosting events there...including weddings! Immediately I sent Kristian a text and told him that we have to have our wedding at the old Lorton prison, talk about unique and unforgettable! Plus my main colors of black and white would fit in perfectly with a modern, chic prison themed wedding. We could dress the bridesmaids in jumpsuit orange colored dresses and have the minister wear a sheriff uniform. Plus we could give out handcuffs as favors! The possibilities are endless.

Alas I don't think either of our families would be too keen on this idea and my poor grandmother would probably rollover in her grave. But for anyone out there that is looking for a unique wedding venue I would suggest checking out the Workhouse Art Center.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

7 months and counting

Today is Kristian and my 7 month anniversary. It's crazy to think we've only been together for 7 months! It feels like so much longer and it's getting harder and harder for me to remember what my life was like before I met him. Even though our relationship has moved at a faster pace than most I just look at a quote from one of my all time favorite movies and know that regardless of how short or long we've been together when it's right it's right:

"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." ~nora ephron, "when harry met sally"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Reception Site #3

Saturday Kristian and I went to visit our third and what I was hoping would be the last reception site. We went to check out the Old Town Hall in downtown Fairfax. It's a very charming large white building with pillars. There are two large open rooms inside. The downstairs room is where the receptions are typically held and we got there as they were setting up for one that evening. There's a lot of wood and small chandeliers. Upstairs is another large, open room which they use to display artwork and also contains lots of books which people can check out. Both the artwork and the books have to remain. This room is typically used for anyone that wants to have the ceremony there or for a Cocktail hour. Out back there is a cute little garden which in May would be full of flowers and a small patio area. This could be used for pictures or for an outdoor cocktail hour if the weather is nice.

Overall the space is quite nice and I think we could have a nice reception there however neither Kristian nor I were blown away by it. We didn't have that same excitement that we did after visiting The Tower Club. One of the biggest draws to OTH is that we can bring in our own caterer which has the potential of saving thousands depending on who we would go with. I like the idea of being able to choose a caterer and all the various options that would provide and being able to pick and choose our menu. The downsides are that there aren't any hotels within walking distance, it's all public parking and therefore not guaranteed and the space doesn't have the great view we are going for. A lot of the ideas I have for decor also probably wouldn't work as well in this setting.

We definitely haven't ruled out this location and it's still a possibility especially due to the affordability but I think we both want to look at the numbers and see if there is any way we can afford the Tower Club. I also might continue my research of venues and see what else we can come up with.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Living in Sin

Kristian and I currently don't live together. We won't be able to "officially" live together until July after my current lease is up and I can then move in to his condo. However we typically spend 4-5 nights together every week, usually at his place. After a few months of dating I started keeping some of the essentials at his place i.e toothbrush, hairbrush, some makeup etc. And I've even left a few articles of clothing there such as pajama pants and t-shirts so that I have something comfortable to change into. This however has not prevented me from constantly wearing his sweatshirts and taking them with me when I go back to my place.
We are both incredibly excited for when I will officially be living there and staying there every night. Technically I could stay there every night right now (which is what he would prefer) but I feel like so long as I'm paying rent I want to try to at least get some of my money's worth out of my apartment. Besides once I move in we will be living together for the rest of our lives so it's nice to enjoy these last few months of having our own places.
Another big issue is my cat, I usually will take him with me when I go over there and will even leave him there during the day if I know I'm coming back that night but right now I don't want him to be there everyday. My cat and his cat are still trying to get use to each other and I know that his cat doesn't really like having him there, so best not to torture him too much until absolutely necessary.
Despite the fact that I can't move in until this summer I've decided to start slowly moving my stuff into his place beginning this weekend. This way it won't be such an overwhelming task this summer and I won't have to always pack a bag when I know I'll be spending the whole weekend there. Primairly I want to start moving in some clothes and shoes and jackets I know I won't need for the next few months. In preparation for the merging of our closets Kristian was nice enough to clean out one whole side of his walk in closet for me! I'm still not sure this will be enough room, since I have a bad habit of buying shoes, but if we buy some closet organizers we can probably make it work. Plus we still have the large closet in the guest room to use. I'm so excited to start moving my stuff in and making his place feel more like my place.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reception Site #2

Saturday evening Kristian and I visited our second potential reception site. We checked out Top of the Town in Arlington VA overlooking DC. This was one of the places on the top of our list and we were both excited to check it out. Our evening didn't get off to the best start. The weather was pretty nasty, rainy and cold and definitely not ideal for visiting a location where the view is the main component.
Thanks to my crappy navigational skills we got completely lost and unfortunately his GPS wasn't that much of a help. It kept insisting we turn onto to streets that didn't seem to exist or that led us to a parking lot. We finally made it to TOTT 20 minutes late. Already we were irritated and not in the best of moods to be visiting a wedding location.
Thankfully the woman that showed us around was very nice. Due to our tardiness we actually go to see the setup for a reception that was starting later that evening. It worked out great because the couple was even using the same colors I want to use so it really helped us visual what our reception could look like. The banquet room was very nice and of course the view was amazing even with the fog and rain. It's definitely impressive and something out of town guest would love. However we didn't like the flow of the entire location. You have to take an elevator to the top floor then walk down a long, winding, narrow hallway past some offices to get to the main room. It seemed pretty cramped and not as inviting as I hoped.
Besides the view there were some other positives including the ability to choose you're own caterer as well as the ability to bring your own alcohol which can be a huge cost saver. However the site fee of this location is pretty substantial and would eat up any of the costs saving we might find on food and drinks.
Ultimately we decided this was probably not the place for us. In comparison to the place we visited last week which was similar where we both felt we would get more for our money and the layout was better for us and our guests.
We still haven't made any set decisions and I'm still researching other locations that may be more cost friendly though in the DC Metro area that's easier said than done.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reception Site #1

Last night Kristian and I visited our first potential reception site, The Tower Club in Vienna, VA. We both really liked this location. Kristian has actually been there in the past with his old boss who is a member. The layout is great, there is an atrium with large windows (see picture attached) where the cocktail hour takes place. Then you move into the dining room which has large windows and views all the way into DC. After dinner you move back out into the Atrium for drinks and dancing. There is also a large balcony that wraps around the building that we would have access too from the Atrium. This would be good for anyone that needed a smoke break or anyone who wants to enjoy the view some more.
The pricing for this site is pretty reasonable for the DC area. We could even get a discount on the site fee if we have his old boss sponsor us. The per/person fee includes the seated dinner, open bar for 4 hours and a cake. They also provide the table/chairs/linens and dancefloor. The site is very flexible and since they only book one wedding per day we could come setup at any point the day of. Also, the event coordinator seems to be very nice and knowledgeable.
The location is great, it's right off the Beltway and very easy to find. They have plenty of parking and it's right across the street from a Marriott so our guests could walk back to the hotel afterwards. If we did end up at this site we might even consider having the ceremony there as well. The price to include a ceremony is actually cheaper than most of the churches I've contacted. The ceremony would also be in the Atrium with the "alter" in front of a huge window. I've seen pictures of the setup online and it's actually really nice. Plus we could save money by not needing a limo/transportation from the church to the reception and it would be more convenient for our guests.
We are visiting another site on Saturday so it will be interesting to see how the two compare. Hopefully we won't need to visit too many places before making a final decision.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

After two loooong weeks Kristian finally returned from his training session in California. His flight got in Saturday night at 7:30pm and I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. Before he left I was convinced the time would go by quickly but I was wrong. I don't think those two weeks could have gone by any slower and I know the feeling was mutual. It was definitely harder for Kristian since not only was he missing me but also his family, friends, cat and apartment. Fortunately despite the three hour time difference we actually were able to keep in touch quite a bit. We talked on the phone everyday, sometimes multiple times a day and would send text messages or IM's when possible. Hopefully this will be the longest we'll have to be separated for in the future.

Now that Kristian is back in town we can move forward with some wedding plans. I showed him my ever expanding notebook of wedding ideas and fortunately he liked most of them. However there was one cake I had printed out that he said looked "militant". I couldn't help but laugh, how can a cake look militant?? The great thing about looking thru the notebook was that it helped me get a feel for what he likes and what he doesn't. In the past I've asked him "what colors would you want to use?", "what kind of cake do you want?"etc and usually the response is either "I don't know" or "whatever you want is fine". Well while we looked at what I had printed out he finally started voicing some opinions on what he likes/dislikes. Now I know not to get a militant looking cake! He also said he doesn't want a completely black and white wedding and would like some blue incorporated. I think as we start visiting vendors and making set plans he'll become more vocal in his opinions which is good. I don't want this wedding to be only about me and what I want....just most of it :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Holy Holy Holy

Due to mother nature I wasn't quite as productive with the venue hunt this weekend as I had hoped. It started to snow early Sunday morning and I decided to skip the early service to wait and see how the weather continued. I did make it to the 11am service at one of the churches I wanted to check out. It was a cute church both inside and out and definitely had the "church" look that I want. It wasn't too big or too small and could easily fit the number of people that we're tentatively planning on inviting. There was even some stain glass over the alter area which I really like. The pastor seemed very friendly and I even got to briefly meet him. This week's service was apparently different than usual because they had an all girls a Capella group visiting from William and Mary, so I didn't get to hear the pastors sermon. The lady in front of me heard me say it was my first time there and told me I should definitely come back to see a typical Sunday sermon.

I would definitely like to bring Kristian with me sometime to see what he thinks. There are still at least two more churches I would like to attend and see what they look like and what sort of feel they have. I'm hoping that we will not only find a church to have the ceremony in but one we can attend on a regular basis as well.

I also ended up skipping the open house at the one reception site I'm interested in. Because of the weather my mother didn't want to drive down from MD and risk getting stuck down here and I decided that since I will need to go again with Kristian it was silly for me to go out in the bad weather to see the place. As of now this place and another very similar one are the two front runners for Kristian and I. We just need to see them in person, talk to the people and compare prices. I'm hoping that we'll get to see them in the next week or two after he returns on Saturday. Since we both work during the day and can't really take a lot of time off we're limited to evenings and weekends. Hopefully we won't need to visit too many places before making a firm decision.