Thursday, April 30, 2009

Change of Planes... err.... Plans

This past week has been a bit on the stressful side for Kristian and I. Due to the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico we had to change our vacation plans at the last minute. We were scheduled to go to Mexico May 10-17 to celebrate my birthday. The resort had been setup thru my mom's timeshare and our tickets had been bought and paid for. Well we (mainly Kristian) decided it would be better not to chance it and try to find something else. So I spent most of the day yesterday on the phone, first with the timeshare people then with both Priceline and US Airways.

Changing the timeshare was relatively easy minus the $250 change fee that we incurred. But we were able to book ourselves at a resort in St. Ann's Jamaica right on the beach for May 9-16. It's all inclusive so our meals and drinks are covered along with some activities. I've always wanted to go to Jamaica so I'm really excited that we were able to get this on such short notice.

Changing our flights was a whole 'nother issue and left me with a massive headache and almost breaking down into tears at work. Unfortunately as of now the trip insurance we bought isn't covering the Swine Flu because we are only at an advisory level. If that increases than hopefully we'll be covered. Then I moved onto Priceline who initially told me I had to go thru US Airways. US Airways told me to go thru Priceline. And so the pounding in my head began. I called numerous times spent literally 30 minutes on hold at one point only to find out that we're basically screwed. Because our flights are on United (on the way down) and US Airways (on the way back) we would have to rebook using those airlines in order to change our tickets (with a fee of course). Problem is United doesn't fly to Jamaica...and so the pounding in my head increased. Even the US Airways guy I called AGAIN told I didn't have a lot of options. Sigh. So after talking to Priceline again and discovering in order to book our tickets using both airlines in some way and incur the change fee we would be spending about $900/each on new tickets.

Sooo we decided to just not use our Mexico tickets and hope the advisory level goes up and the trip insurance refunds our money. We bought brand new tickets to Jamaica for about the same cost as our Mexico tickets. All in all changing our trip is still costing us a good deal of money that we weren't planning on but in the end it's worth it to not get some deadly flu and also have a nice vacation which after this week I need even more now! So now I will be spending my week here:


Monday, April 27, 2009

Bonding with the In-Laws

This weekend Kristian and I were very domestic, we had the cable guy come out and hook up our DVR (THANK GOD) and wireless internet (THANK GOD x2) which are two things we had been living without. Now that I'm staying there all the time these were two things I required in order to keep me happy :). We also went to Lowe's and got some plants so that Kristian could turn our small outdoor living space aka the balcony into a homey, inviting little oasis. We now have two chairs, a table, two hanging plants, a few potted plants and even a tomato plant. He also strung Christmas lights to give us some ambiance at night. Now we will actually use that space and enjoy the nice weather that has finally arrived.

On Sunday we spent the day with his parents. I really like his parents and I'm fortunate that I get along well with my future in-laws. His parents have been married for over 40 years and are still very happy and in love. Kristian is just like his father and I'm just like his mother so I'm hoping this is a good sign that we'll also be together for 40+ years.

His parents have a vacation home in Montross, VA aka the Northern Neck, right on the water of the Potomac. The have a great deck and even a small beach area with a dock. They haven't gotten the boat out yet for the season so instead Kristian and I decided to try out the canoe. Thankfully he's had some practice with this because I had no clue what I was doing. It's actually not as easy as it looks, and even though he was doing most of the work my arms are sore today. After our quick canoe ride we came back and had lunch outside, partaked in a few adult beverages and played some acey ducey. It was a wonderfully relaxing way to spend the day and enjoy the summer like weather. I suspect we'll be making many more weekend trips down there this summer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lucky 13

I'm getting married in exactly 13 months from today! I can't wait! Kristian was actually the one that pointed that out to me this morning. I think it's so sweet how excited he's gotten since we found the place and picked the date. It's even more real now.

Everyone says that it will go by fast and I know that's probably true but right now it seems so far away and I'm not a patient person by nature. I have to keep reminding myself to just enjoy this time of my life because it will only happen once!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's a date!

The contract has been signed and the deposit has been paid and we now officially have a wedding location and date! Kristian and I will be getting married on May 22, 2010 at Hollin Hall in Alexandria VA. We went on Saturday to see the venue together since he couldn't go with me last week and he LOVED it! I was so relieved that we both found a place that we agree on and best yet the pricing isn't too bad either. We get quite a bit for our money. I've always wanted to get married in May, not only because it's my favorite month (due to my birthday) but it's a really beautiful time of year. All the flowers are blooming and it's not too hot or too cold.

When we first started discussing when to get married Kristian pushed for October (his birthday month). That was ruled out pretty quick though because we didn't want to wait until Oct. of 2010 and this Oct. was coming up very quick. Also, the fall is my busy time at work and my boss pleaded with me not to get married that time of year.

Since we both wanted to get married in our birthday months and I ended up winning out with May we decided to go with his birthday date of 22, that way the date has significance for us both. After we initially picked the date and I told my mom I discovered that May 22 is also the date that my grandmother and step-grandfather got married 10 years ago. This seems fitting since we also got engaged on my grandmother's birthday (Valentine's Day).

So I will be getting married 10 days after my birthday and I can't think of a better way to ring in my 30th than by having all our friends and family celebrate our marriage. The countdown is on, only 396 days to go!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I think we have a winner

Last night I went to check out the 4th venue. Kristian had to work late so I went by myself. One of my coworker's nieces got married there last year and she recommended it to me. After doing some research and looking at the pictures online it looked like a good possible option.

It's Hollin Hall and the Meeting House in Alexandria, VA. It's a gorgeous property tucked back in a neighborhood a few miles from Old Town Alexandria which boast a ton of cute little restaurants and shops and would be a perfect weekend getaway for our guests.

We are able to rent the entire property for 7 hours which gives us access to both Hollin Hall, which is an old mansion; the Meeting House, which is a larger space that can be used for a reception or indoor ceremony; as well as the gardens and terraces. Having the use of the entire property offers us so many options of where to hold the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception itself. For now I think we plan to use the larger garden for the ceremony then move to the covered terrace outside of Hollin Hall for cocktails then move back to the Meeting House for the Reception in the larger room. If the weather doesn't cooperate that day we can have the ceremony in the large Meeting House room. This actually wouldn't bother me because the room has a large stain glass window and has the feel of a church to it so it would be a nice alternative.

The coordinator there was a very nice woman who gave me a tour of the whole property and also a packet full of information/layouts/pricing etc. We are able to get are own caterer which is great because it gives us much more options on menu choices and costs. They are very flexible about the timing of the event so long as everyone is out by midnight. I'm guessing we'll start the ceremony around 6pm and go until they shut the doors on us.

When I got home I showed Kristian all the handouts and pricing and went online so he could see all the pictures. He was very excited about it and we both agreed this would be our best option. So now we just need to go back so he can see the place in person and then I think we will put a deposit down by next week! I'm so excited that the hardest part of the planning is almost over!

The Aisle

The Gardens

The Terrace for Cocktails

The Meeting House for the Reception

**Photos courtesy of MVUC website

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Rundown

I had the pleasure of spending Easter with Kristian's family this year. We went to Bolling AFB where his aunt and uncle live. His uncle is a General in the Air Force so they live on base in a really nice house. It was a nice size group from his mother's side of the family including his parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousins, sister, brother in law, nieces and nephew. Even though it was a bit on the chilly side for April it was a beautiful, sunny day.

There was a ton of food including the scalloped potatoes that Kristian made from scratch (I love a man that can cook) and some nice adult beverages including a really good champagne punch that I had a few glasses of. His family is so nice and welcoming and they were all excited to see us for the first time since getting engaged.

After we ate we went outside to watch the kids do the Easter Egg hunt around the house. His uncle even dressed up in an Easter Bunny costume but I think all the adults were more amused by this than the kids who ages range from 9-12.

Later on that night one of Kristian's buddy's (and one of our groomsmen) came over to visit with his wife. They were in town for the holiday so they stopped by the condo for a bit and then we headed over to the little Mexican joint that he loves so much for a few Sunday night drinks. It was my first time meeting his buddy and his wife but we all got along great and were joking around right from the start. After they left, his friend sent him a text saying that he thinks I'm awesome and he did a good job. Duh!! :)

So overall it was great first Easter together!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Run for the Border

In exactly one month my wonderful fiance and I will be on a plane heading south down to the Riveria Maya, Mexico. This will be the first trip to Mexico for the both of us and I. CANNOT. WAIT. Thanks to my fabulous mother and her timeshare we were able to book a room at a gorgeous resort called The Grand Mayan.

The Riveria is just south of Cancun and in close proximity to Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel. One of my good friends (and bridesmaid) actually went to Riveria Maya for her honeymoon 2 years ago and had a great time. Even though this trip was booked prior to getting engaged I like to view this as a trial run to the honeymoon :-) This will actually be Kristian and my first big trip together. In fact he initially was planning to propose to me in Mexico but there was no way he would have been able to hold onto the ring for another 3 months.

I will be spending my 29th birthday in paradise with the man I love, how lucky am I?


One of the Restuarants

The SPA!

**Photos courtesy of google images and The Grand Mayan website

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Casting a Wider Net

Well I thought we had pretty much figured out where to have this little shindig I like to call our wedding, I contacted the coordinator and had her send over the proposal/contract. Once I reviewed it and saw the total price at the bottom with all the extras/taxes etc added in I almost cried. It was definitely a few thousand higher than I anticipated. Now I'm not sure that we'll be able to financially make it work at that location. So I've started researching locations again and I feel like my head might explode. With all the possible places to have weddings in the DC area you would think that would help bring the costs down due to over saturation but alas that's not the case. So while I'm still looking into venues in the NoVA region I've also started looking into what it would cost have a wedding at the beach. Specifically the Outer Banks, NC.

Kristian LOVES OBX, he goes down several times a year to fish and will even camp out on the beach. I also love going to OBX and have tried to go once a summer for the past few years. I use to go each summer with my Matron of Honor and her family who rents out a large house every year. It's always so relaxing and enjoyable. Last summer (right after I met Kristian) I went down there for a week with my own family who also have become big fans. Kristian and I can't wait to go down there together this summer.

Initially when we first started talking about a wedding he mentioned wanting to get married on the beach, preferably in OBX. While I really liked the idea my fear of planning an outdoor wedding and dealing with the possibility of rain made us veer away from the idea. However now seeing the prices of venues in the DC area and knowing how much cheaper things are in NC I think it's worth considering. I started looking yesterday and even contacted a place that is in Hatteras right on the beach called Kinnakeet Shores Beach Club. From the pictures on their site it could be a really fun and beautiful alternative if the price is right.




**Photos courtesy of Brook Mayo Photography and Daniel Pullen Photography

Monday, April 6, 2009

Non Wedding Weekend Activities

This weekend the fiance and I decided to take a break from anything wedding related and just enjoy the great weather. On Saturday we attempted to go into DC to check out the Cherry Blossoms but after seeing the line at the Metro we nixed that idea. Instead we went and had a nice breakfast than drove over to Great Falls, VA and to check out the falls and go for a hike. The weather was gorgeous and there a lot of people out walking their dogs. Whenever we go hiking we always talk about much we wished we had a dog to take out there with us. For now though the cats are handful enough.

Despite trying to stay as wedding free as possible we ended up seeing a bride and groom out there with their families taking pictures. It was great weather for a wedding minus the wind out by the water. I couldn't help but check out the bride's dress and watch to see what they were all doing. I'm nosy I admit it! At one point we decided to climb a bunch of rocks to our own little private area to sit down and watch the water. It was so nice and relaxing. I love being outside when the weather is nice and I love having someone who is willing to go out do fun stuff with me as opposed to sitting at home all day watching sports (which we do also) or playing video games (neither of us are fans). Plus it's a great way to get exercise without having to step foot in the gym.

Of course the wedding did come up at various points but I tried to keep the talk to a minimum. I don't want either of us to get too overwhelmed during the planning process nor do I want our entire engagement to be focused solely on planning the wedding. So after spending the last few weekends checking out different venues or attending bridal shows it was nice to just spend the weekend as a couple.
*Photo taken by me