Groom to Be

Wedding Planning for Newbies: What I’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been engaged for 42 days.

I have already seen [and booked!] our venue, been in touch with three photographers, called two local bridal boutiques and made appointments to try on dresses, emailed three florists, two videographers, four food/dessert vendors and five coordinators for month-of details and finalizing.

Did I mention my fiancé and I’s tentative wedding date isn’t until Fall 2018?

Yes, you did your math correctly. That gives me roughly 16 months to plan this thing.

#confessionsofaplanaholic

So, why the rush?

Going into this, I knew basically nothing about weddings. I was the maid of honor in a wedding a couple of years ago [almost to the day], but I wasn’t involved in any of the planning process. The bride lived in San Diego, had a venue picked out in Malibu, and with me all the way up in Sacramento, there wasn’t much I could do. Also, up until recently, I really wasn’t even a huge fan of weddings. I mean, I totally thought it was great to celebrate other people’s love, but the forced mingling with people you have never met..? Well, I’m an introvert and can be extremely socially awkward, so, you get why weddings weren’t my fav.

BUT, that said, now that I’m engaged and planning my own special day, the tables have turned a bit.

Even though I have nearly two years to plan, I knew that I wanted to get my venue and my photographer booked as soon as possible. Although I don’t know much about wedding planning, I do know that these two vendors book up the quickest [my potential photographer already has a September wedding for 2018!].

The first thing I did when Mitch and I got engaged was to sign up for Style Me Pretty, The Knot and Wedding Wire. They all give you the opportunity to browse vendors local to your city and/or your general area [for example, we live in Sacramento, but some of these vendors encompass all of Northern California – Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, South Lake Tahoe, etc.]. While I didn’t end up choosing a venue from the list, it did give me a great starting point for photographers, florists and coordinators. Instagram has also been a really good friend of mine – once I figured out the photographers I liked, I would follow their profiles and find other vendors they’d tagged in their photos [I actually found ALL but one of my potential vendors from this method].

Create a new email address that’s for wedding stuff ONLY. I can’t even tell you guys how helpful this has been. You never realize how many emails you get every day until you’re trying to pilfer through them all to find the ones that relate to your wedding. Having a separate email for our big day has been a life saver. And, bonus, I can easily remove it from my phone and computer after it’s all said an done and I’ll never have to see a wedding email again! [Although, if I’m being totally honest, I would 100% consider a career in wedding planning after this].

Don’t wait! Regardless of how far out your wedding is, get in touch with your potential vendors so you can get your name on their radar. Even though the florists I’ve contacted don’t promise their services until a year before the wedding date, at least they know I’m interested and my day is now in the back of their minds. And if you don’t want to go through the legwork of planning all by yourself, hire a coordinator!

Don’t get your heart set one one single vendor for each category of your wedding. For example, I only saw one venue [which we got extremely lucky in booking], and I really only love one of my potential photographers. We almost didn’t get our venue, and if I don’t get the photographer I want, I will be absolutely crushed [not ideal!]. The moral of the story: have some backups. Don’t narrow it down to one place or one person if you can help it. Have an idea in mind of what you like, and see as many places and interview as many people as you can before you settle. You will be much happier if you start planning your wedding with an open mind.

Get your guest list done early on. We ended up having to do this in the beginning by default due to the fact that the venue we wanted only accommodated 200 people max. It was painstaking and there were lots of disagreements, but ultimately that is the most difficult part of planning, and once this is done it will be smooth sailing afterward. Better to get this out of the way as soon as possible.

Work on your inspo boards! YES, I mean Pinterest. The best thing I ever did was sit down and organize the heck out of my wedding-themed Pinterest boards. It was so easy for me to go in and print out dress styles, floral arrangements, décor styles, etc. Whether you’re a DIY-er or you’re hiring a wedding planner, the best way to let your vendors know what you want is to give them something to go off of. Most vendors will ask you what kind of ideas you have, so having something to go off of is always a good idea!

Stay in touch with your vendors and potential vendors. Let them know what your timeline is and where your head is at. While I was working on our guest list and trying to figure out how to make our venue work for us, I wasn’t just sitting idly – I was emailing potential vendors and getting pricing, availability, etc. I couldn’t nail down a time to meet with anybody since I didn’t have a venue, yet, but I made sure they all knew what the case was and that I would reach out once our venue and date were secured.

All in all, make sure you find that ultimate wedding dream team to work with. Finding vendors who mesh well with you as a couple, as well as each other, is a huge necessity. And also, don’t forget to have FUN. Being engaged and planning a wedding is supposed to be one of the most fun moments of your adult life. Enjoy every moment of being affianced and planning your big day. At the end of it all, it comes down to just the two of you – don’t forget that! And if planning and decision-making has become all-consuming, take a step back, take a night or two off and enjoy some time together just being engaged, in love, and not worrying about wedding details.

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Seattle Birthday Weekend [Plus The Best B-Day Gift, Ever!]

Years ago, I was bitten hard by the travel bug. Given the opportunity, I will jump at the chance to travel – whether it’s someplace I’ve been before [Glenbrook and/or Capitola], or someplace new, I’m allllllll over it.

After spoiling the heck out of my guy for his birthday this last December, he made a suggestion that, moving forward, perhaps our money would be better spent on vacations instead of gifts for our birthdays. I, of course, loved this idea, and so for my BIG 30th birthday trip, we booked a trip to Seattle.

I am usually not a city girl. In fact, country backroads with no neighbors for miles is really more my style. But with Seattle being on the same coastline, and never having visited, it had always been on my bucket list of mainland must-sees. [Sidenote: also NOT a fan of rain, which Seattle is, like, known for. But, it comes with the territory if you want to visit that city.]

Seattle is also known for overpriced [albeit, beautiful] hotels, so Mitch and I lucked out with finding a condo rental that backed up to Pike’s market and was only a block from the harbor. And, with it being off season for tourists, the price was totally right. We arrived at our condo at roughly 11:15 am [highly recommend NOT driving yourself if you can help it, traffic is an absolute joke in the city] – we immediately dropped off our bags and headed to scope out the grounds. We’d read on the rental site that there was a rooftop deck, and since we happened to arrive on a rare, sunny spring day, we wanted to enjoy the weather while we could [in Seattle, you really don’t know how long the sunshine will last].

When we got to the rooftop, we were ecstatic to find that we had unobstructed views of the Seattle Great Wheel and the harbor. There were a couple other tourists on the deck, so we did the customary exchanging of and posing for the cameras, and then headed back to our room to make a game plan for the day [while we had access to our condo, the cleaners hadn’t been there, yet, so we technically weren’t allowed to use the room until 3 pm].

Seattle City Suites – our view from our communal rooftop patio.

We realized we were both starving, so we decided to do a little exploring and find a fun spot to eat on the water. As we were walking back onto the rooftop to exit the building [the “rooftop” patio was actually more of a side deck for many of the units, including ours, with a back exit access to the upper street], Mitch whipped around in front of me and said, “I have to do this, I have to give this to you now, I can’t carry it around with me anymore.” Being the anxious, panicky type that I am, I immediately felt my stomach drop, and responded “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?” And it was right then and there, in the beautiful Seattle sunlight, alone on a rooftop overlooking the Puget Sound, that he got down on one knee, flipped open a little navy blue ring box, and asked me to be his wife.

My reaction, naturally, was to stammer “Ohmygod” about fifty times, followed by an occasional “Are you serious?!” before he finally asked if that meant “Yes.” Which, of course, it did. We took a few minutes to enjoy the peace, enjoyment and shock [on my end], before we called our families and tearfully [once again, on my end] and joyfully shared the news with them.

Engaged on a rooftop overlooking the harbor and the Seattle Great Wheel

Beautiful views – in more ways than one.

It took us about an hour-and-a-half to call all of our family members, at which point we were seriously famished. We did the customary social media post, and finally left our little rooftop to find some food [and some celebratory drinks, of course!]. We chose a restaurant with outdoor seating on the pier, right at the base of The Great Wheel, where we shared a couple of dishes and each drank a glass of wine. After lunch, we decided to ride the ferris wheel, explore the city area close to our condo, and grab some food and drinks for our room [FYI for any newbies heading to Seattle soon, there are NO liquor stores! We ended up going to a Target that was luckily only a few blocks from where we were staying].

Since the sun was still out, we took some snacks and drinks to the roof and talked about our engagement and our wedding as we watched the sun go down. We had planned on heading back to the room to regroup and get ready for the night, but the minute I got inside and sat down my energy was zapped. It had been an early, emotionally exhausting day. My poor fiancé tucked me in bed early and spent the evening watching sports on TV and eating a crappy pizza from the restaurant downstairs. Such a wild, newly engaged Friday night! Not.

Saturday morning we had a food tour of Pike’s market scheduled, so we were up early to find a cup of delicious, local Seattle coffee before our tour. If you are going to Seattle, I highly, highly recommend the tour we did. Pike’s market is always bustling with not only tourists, but locals, too. The dozens of famous food vendors in the market had lines that were out the door and wrapped around the buildings. Our food tour allowed us to go right up front and grab samples from all of these places. PLUS, we got a little business card that gave us 10-15% off at a whole list of local Seattle restaurants! A bonus, because the food we tasted was absolutely delicious. And we learned so much about the market and its history, which was great for my history major fiancé.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer – they make their own, AND they have mules on tap!

The famous Pike’s Market sign

Had to take a selfie in front of the gum wall

After the tour, we walked to the Space Needle. Prior to our trip, we learned through word-of-mouth about the City Pass, which happened to include a bunch of the attractions we were hoping to see during our trip [and, as luck would have it, it also just so happened to be majorly on sale]. Many of these were on the same block as the Needle, so we were able to knock out three things in one afternoon. The Needle was as you’d expect: really cool to see, and also really touristy. We stayed up top for about 45 minutes – took in the views of the city, snapped a couple of photos, and had a couple beers, of course.

Brews at the top of the Needle.

After the Space Needle, we toured around the MoPop Museum – I don’t think either of us were really that enthused with it [I definitely would not pay full price for a ticket], although the guitar tower in the entry way was pretty freakin’ awesome.

Tower of guitars at the MoPop.

After the museum, we checked out the Chihuly Garden – also kind of anticlimactic and something I wouldn’t pay full price for, but a really neat concept, and pretty cool that a single man made all of the amazing glass sculptures at the studio.

After hitting all of the spots we wanted, we walked back to our condo, had a cocktail, and decided to hit up a spot we’d passed called Some Random Bar for dinner. We had asked around about finding a spot with live music, and we lucked out that there were two. Both Mitch and I love live music, so it was fun to experience that in a different city.

Sunday was my THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY! I woke up feeling on top of the world – I’d finally left my twenties behind, I was newly ENGAGED, and I was enjoying exploring a new city with my fiancé. We headed out to have breakfast at a spot recommended to us by a friend called Local 360, where all the food was sourced from a 360 mile radius from the restaurant. The server checked our IDs, and, discovering it was my birthday, sent over complimentary PB+J Bon Bons. While the food wasn’t anything to write home about, the ambiance was adorable. As many farm-to-fork restaurants are these days, it had a rustic modern feel of reclaimed wood and rusted metals, with antique décor to round out the whole vibe.

B-Day PB+J Bon Bons

We left 360 and wandered back toward our condo to check out the aquarium [yet another attraction I would not pay full price for, but happened to be on the City Pass]. If you have kids, this is a great aquarium to take them to, as it had tons of interactive stations and things for young ones to do. For adults, it’s not very exciting. We breezed through it in about 20 minutes, and decided to hang out in the condo the rest of the day, as it was steadily raining. We had dinner reservations at a restaurant a few blocks from us called Heartwood Provisions. The food was delicious! The restaurant had a really cool open kitchen concept, where you could sit at a counter that overlooked the kitchen and watch as the chefs prepared all of your food. We chose the chef’s tasting menu, which had five courses with cocktail pairings for each course. We opted not to participate in the cocktail pairings, and instead ordered a half bottle of Darioush cab. We called it a night after dinner, as we had a very early flight to catch on Monday morning.

Overall, I had an amazing time in Seattle. The tourist attractions were nothing special, but the city itself was so much fun. Lots of local restaurants – not a lot of chains, which both myself and chef fiancé really appreciate. I wish we could have had one more day to explore more of the restaurants and the night scene, and we were too early to see Orca whales, so it’s safe to say that we will definitely be back.