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Friday, February 24, 2006

Sunday and Monday in Phoenix

In addition to having Matt scope out the botanical garden, we also took the time while we were home to talk to Kabloom and Heidi's Catering.

Alan, the general manager at Kabloom, did a great job talking to us about flowers for the wedding. I loved the bouquet that he made for the bridal expo and was very excited to find out that his store is only about a mile from my parent's house in Chandler. He went through the list of bouquets that we'd need, rose boutineers for the dads, thistle for Matt, and flowers for the groomsmen. He also was thoughtful enough to realize that we should make the mothers/grandmothers flowers more neutral (ie not peach or orange) because we don't know what they'll be wearing. I liked his idea to go with an antique gold ribbon on the bouquet. It looks great with the orange. Finally, he gave us a free bouquet to take home. It was a good meeting. The only thing we need to figure out is if we need to get an arch from them, or if we should go with something else. The price he gave us was a bit higher than I'd like to spend.

After Kabloom, Mom and I visited AZ Cactus Sales to see what is available in potted plants. The garden is very strict and only allows potted plants from select vendors. We found some good ideas for table centerpieces that we could put together ourselves.

At Heidi's Catering, she went through the flow of the whole wedding reception. She's hosted many receptions at the Wildflower Pavillion and had a good idea how things should be staged. We're leaning towards a buffet with some sort of appetizers beforehand. Her basic package seemed reasonable. However, it seems like you could really up the price of the event with rentals such as nicer chairs, tablecloths, and place settings. For just a tableclothe upgrade she was quoting prices of $39/table. That's outrageous! You can easily buy/make tablecloths for that price.

After Heidi's, Mom and inspired and took us to a discount fabric store. There were some laughable fabrics (no fur on the dinner table!) but we found some colors that we liked. I would really like to use some shade of green, but it's tricky to find something that doesn't look too seafoamy for the garden but still looks suitable for spring. After pairing several fabrics, I really like it paired with a coppery orange, ivory and black. I think these colors would look good without looking like fall or out of place. However, I'm still tempted to go with more natural fabrics such as burlap and linen. I love the shades of tan on tan. Mom keeps telling me, "You can have a brown wedding if that's what you really want!" lol. I don't want a brown wedding, but I don't feel the need to try to compete with nature. The setting is pretty all on its own!

Matt finally gets to see the site!

Last weekend, Matt and I went to Phoenix to finalize our wedding site and to solder boards for the STM project. I was really nervous about having Matt see the botanical garden for the first time. I had completely fallen in love with the site and was afraid that Matt wouldn't like it as much. Fortunately, my fears were short lived. Matt really liked it too. The setting with all of the lush desert is just beautiful. I really like how the Wildflower Pavillion is situated among the brush. It has an intimate feel. The amphitheater is also very cozy. I love the idea of getting married there.

The best part of the visit to the garden was getting to see the awesome Arizona sunset! I hope it is just like this on our wedding day.
Oh, so I can't forget to thank my Dad for teaching me to surface mount solder the tiny chips for our STM boards. It requires a certain finesse and I don't think we would have been able to figure it out without him. Thanks Dad! :)

V-day! :)

The past two Valentines Day's, Matt and I have gone out to dinner. He has surprised me twice in a row. The first year in LA was at a restaurant called Uzbekistan. It was an experience, to say the least. Last year, he went all out and took me to the Bel Air Hotel. It was beautiful! With a multicourse meal, swans floating on a lake and chocolate soufflé, it was awesome.

This year we decided to play things a little more low key and made a chicken curry pie together. It was delicious! Yum! :) I had to add the little hearts on top in honor of the evening. It was a good time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The search for the dress - victory at last?

Saturday, Claire, Daniela and I had the chance to visit the Alfred Angelo store in Beverly Hills. I've been looking at their dresses for a while and like their use of color, style and pricetag! hehe... So before I show you the dress of my dreams, here are a few more contenders.

1. This dress is one of the ones that caught my eye originally. I wouldn't get it in red, but do like the splash of colors. It was a cute dress, but just that - cute. It didn't make me feel special, but it was pretty.

2. The next dress was white with a lace overlay. It had a subtle mermaid cut with a lace train. I love the train! It was very pretty! However, the mermaid cute wasn't as flattering on me as more of an A-line and it didn't do anything for my top half. I looked rather "flat."

3. ICK! The next dress made both Daniela and I look * W I D E * ! ! ! It was made of silk and possibly the most expensive dress in the store. Regardless it was the least flattering for any figure!

*Drumroll please* Now before I show you my favorite dress ever, I would like to thank my fellow shoppers... Claire and Daniela!






(here it comes!!!)





The Dress!!!

Now that I've found the dress, I just have to decide on the color of the sash I'd like. I think it's down to a white dress with either a white sash, champagne sash, a celedon (green) sash, or a cafe sash. I think I'd prefer the contrast of a colored sash over a plain white sash. However, I'm worried that the cafe and celedon sashes will be overwhelming or too busy. I like the color of the champagne sash, but I'm afraid it will look too yellow against a white dress, rather than the ivory that it's usually paired with (very pretty, but I can't wear ivory!). Here is a pic of ivory with champagne from the catalog. Any comments?

So... where at the botanical garden?!?!?

So, when I visited the Desert Botanical with my mom I fell in love with the site. It's so pretty and polished while still being natural desert. Now, there were three venues at the garden where you can host a wedding.

1. Ullman Terrace - This seems to be the most popular wedding location because you can host both the ceremony and reception at the same site. There is a giant butte that is right behind the ceremony site that they light up at night and it's supposed to be very pretty. Mom and I both felt that the space for the chairs felt a little small and it seemed like the dinner tables would be spread out and isolated. I don't know if it will feel this way when it's set up for a wedding, but that was our first impression. The trees were really pretty, but they did seem to divide up the site. There was a really pretty courtyard that can be used for cocktail hour, but it again was divided up by plants.

2. Dorrance Hall/Boppart Courtyard - This site was would just be for the reception and cocktail hour. The ceremony would be held elsewhere. So this site is in the center of the garden and thus feels much more developed. There is not a good open view of the landscape but is isolated by a wall of plants. Dorrance Hall is a rather large ballroom which could easily host both a ceremony and reception in the event of inclement weather. If the weather was nice, Boppart Courtyard could hold people for both cocktail hour and dinner. This site would have plenty of space, but it wasn't as pretty as the others. I'm not sure if I would miss the view, as the reception would be after dark anyways.
3. Binns Wildflower Pavillion - Our favorite site there was the wildflower pavilion. It is completely surrounded by desert and overlooking a big red butte. It is covered, while being open air and is circular to bring all of the guests into one cohesive space. There are really cute iron stars hanging from the ceiling that light up at night. I'm sure they'll cast a romatic glow. However, I'm a bit worried that the space will be too cramped if we have 100+ guests. It would probably be ideal for ~80 people. Unfortunately, there is no good way of guessing how many people will actually make the trip to Phoenix. If we do have fewer than 100 guests, the other sites may feel too big and this would be perfect. If we have 100+ guests, there may be a few banished to the bushes! We're going to have to go back and measure to figure out exactly how many tables will fit in the pavillion.

4. The amphitheater - I *LOVE* this space for the ceremony. It is very intimate and quiet. It seems like the perfect place to marry the man of my dreams. I can completely envision walking into the amphitheater surrounded by my friends and family and see the love of my life standing at the alter. I can hear the classical guitar and cello duet playing sweetly and feeling tears on my cheeks. It really is the PERFECT site! :)

So, since I want to get married in the amphitheater, I now need to decide between the slightly small Wildflower Pavillion and the roomy (and potentially drafty) Boppart Courtyard. Decisions decisions! Any comments?

The Bridal Expo...

On Sunday, mom and I got to attend the Bridal Expo at the convention center. We had grand hopes of meeting with the coordinator of the botanical garden and meeting caterers. Unfortunately, the DBG rep wasn't there and only one of the caterers. Despite this slight setback, we had a great time!

The first big score of the day was when we met a guitar and cello duet called Newton's Theorum. They have a modern yet classical sound that will be perfect for the ceremony and reception. It will be very sweet without over powering in the quiet garden.

The next big score was at the Kabloom flower booth. I found the prettiest bouquet that is reminicent of wildflowers and a matching thistle boutineer. I love the color and the style. I think they will be beautiful in the outdoor garden setting!

After that, we had the luck to stop by Dolce salon where they did my hair! I didn't know that my hair was long enough to have an updo, but they did an amazing job! It was so cute!!! I've never had my hair look so fancy before! Usually it's stick straight and down. Now I'm really excited for my hair trial! (I think I just may end up using Dolce, even though they are expensive! We'll have to see.)

The expo was a lot of fun and we got so good resources.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nope, no dress yet again!

After venue search, Marji and Aidan met up with me and Mom and Suzanne's Bridal. Mom had received really good recommendations about the salon so I was excited to see what they had. (I was even more excited to try on dresses with my mom there!) They had some pretty dresses, but nothing that really spoke to me. Mom really wanted me to find a dress with some sort of straps. I don't mind the idea but with so many strapless dresses on the market right now it's hard to find a dress with straps!

Dress 1: This was my mom's (and possibly mine too) favorite dress of the day. The sample was multicolored, but I would order it in white. It was pretty with a sheer top and simple dress, but it didn't really speak to me. In addition, I didn't really like the shape of the bustline. I'm sure that could be fixed with alterations, but I don't necessarily trust that it would be perfect.

Dress 2: Can you say big butt bow three times fast? No further comment.

Dress 3: Fluffy and floaty. Perfect for some other springtime bride!

Dress 4: I really liked the back of the dress and the way the sash sat low across my hips. I don't think the look of the dress is right for my wedding, though. It was too renissancey for me.

Dress 5: A sparkly variation of the sash dress. I didn't mind the sparkly part, like the buttons, like the color, but the neck was just too high. Perhaps if the back was a V like #4 or if it was cut lower in the front, but I didn't find it to be very flattering. I think my mom liked how conservative it was. I was just suprised that I liked the sparkles at all!

Overall, it was a lot of fun trying on dresses. I liked a lot of what I tried, but just didn't find "the ONE!" hehe... lots more time to shop! :)

The venue search...

So, I had the chance to visit Phoenix a couple of weeks ago for some intensive wedding planning with my mom. It was the BEST weeked.

We started out the weekend with tour of venues in the valley.

1st: An 8 am stop (with Starbucks!) at the Desert Botanical Garden. It was a bit chilly, but the staff was plenty warm. The whole place was just beautiful! Matt and I would really like to get married among cacti. I think our guests would really get a kick out of the desert setting as they will mostly be flying in from the snow covered east coast. I think Phoenix in March will be really lovely! The garden was covered in different types of cacti and dominated by red rocky bluffs. We really liked the Wildflower Pavillion and the Amphitheater for the reception and ceremony, respectively.

#2. Next we went to visit the Arizona Commerative Airforce Museum. I could totally envision a reception here complete with a retro dress and big band. It was really fun to see the airplanes taking off. I'm sure this is someplace we'll go back to visit, but I didn't really see a good place to have a ceremony. I really would like to have the whole event in the same location as the reception so that my out of town guests don't have to bother navigating a strange city.

#3. After that Mom and I stopped at the Wright House, a venue recommended by one of the baby teachers who works with my mom. Imagine a funeral parlor..... 'nuff said.

#4. We had a quick lunch and then headed up to Red Mountain Country Club. It was a nice place and we enjoyed meeting with the coordinator and the place was pretty. However, the event hall didn't really seem big enough and it was very generic. It didn't really speak to either of us.

#5. Next up was The Farm at South Mountain. I had high hopes for this venue as it looked lovely in the pictures. Unfortunately, it was more than a little too rought around the edges. Can you spot the dumpster in the picture?

Final verdict???? THE DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN!!! I just love it there. So pretty and peaceful. It's the perfect location!

Dress shopping - take 2!!!

We had pretty good luck shopping at David's, but were really interested in trying on dresses at a *real* salon. So, Daniela, Claire and I ventured up to Ventura for another chance at finding "the PERFECT dress."

Our first stop was at a Bridal Warehouse. We found a couple of pretty things, but mostly I was disappointed. I really don't like lots of beading and embellishement on a dress. The simpler the better in my opinion. I want it to be all about the fit, the drape and the shape. That's what really makes a dress beautiful to me. I had trouble finding a dress in the entire warehouse that wasn't dripping in sparkles. (I reserve those to me left hand!) So I used the opportunity to try on different shapes of dresses. I decided that I didn't really like a halter, nor a mermaid shape. I really really like A-line shaped dresses. This 1st place wouldn't let us take pictures.

Next, we went to a nicer salon called Lilli's. It was alright. There were lots of expensive dresses, but again I felt many of them were over embellished. Daniela tried on a whole slew of dresses and really varied through different styles. She had fun trying some stuff that was there because of a trunk show with its designer. Here is my favorite dress of the day. It was pretty and silk. Once again, I loved the colored sash. Very pretty, but I didn't like it as much the next time I saw it in pictures.

The search for the perfect dress...

So, I had the opportunity to go dress shopping for the 1st time with Claire and Daniela. Our first stop was David's Bridal as it a warehouse full of dresses. We had a pretty good experience there. It was a bit overwhelming and industrial but I really appreciated the selection of dresses and the variety of sizes.

This was the first dress I tried on and my favorite of the day. I really like the simplicity of the dress with the splash of color on the sash. Unfortunately, the dress wasn't especially well made or a flattering shape. However, I definately will keep this image in my head as a favorite concept!

The next dress I tried is the ribbon dress. It was pretty but not really flattering.

I really like the idea of color on a dress (just a touch) so the next dress I tried was the typical banded colored dress with a corset back. You see it everywhere now, but I wasn't really impressed by the dress.

So, I was supposed to be done after #3 but I snuck in a fourth. It was the dress with the side gathers that you see everywhere. Often it is paired with tons of sparkles, but this one was very plain. I wasn't impressed by the quality at all. It didn't seem well made and the fabric was course.

The celebration!

Now that I have a ring, the 1st order of buisness is to celebrate! I had a blast playing a game where I would wait to see how long it would take for people to notice the rock on my finger. At the end of the game for the slowest was Steve, followed by Ronald. The fastest on the uptake was Amy who noticed my ring down the hallway and Claire who gasp when I walked into the room. lol. Girls definately scored far better in this game than the boys!!!

Here is a pic of a cake that Fraser got for Brian and I (another guy I work with who coincidentally also got engaged over Christmas!).

The RING!!!

Matt proposed on December 18th, 2005. It wasn't the most magnificent proposal, but it is certainly the most AMAZING ring known to man! He bought it off the internet (the haven of good deals for our generation) and had it custom made by a company called Whiteflash. They did an amazing job.

The first step in designing an amazing ring consists of having them create a wax which will be used as a mold to cast the platinum ring. The prongs on the image are large than they eventually ended up so the jewler would have some metal to use to set the diamonds.

After Matt approved the wax, they sent him pictures of the ring. (Which he showed to a ton of people at work and they oooed and awwwed before I even knew the ring existed!) Here is a pic sent from Whiteflash. Isn't it amazing how the diamonds look surrounded by platinum???

So, Matt had the ring in his hot little hands as of Friday, 12/16 but wasn't able to propose that night because I was in a HORRIBLE mood and in the middle of a fight with Diego over the STM. We already had plans for that night and for Saturday night, so he held out on me for 2 days before he finally got around to proposing. It was just a quiet Sunday night and we had just gotten back from the petstore to get Henry some catfood. We were cuddling on the couch enjoying the Christmas tree when he asked if I wanted a cookie. Of course I said no. I wasn't really hungry. He gave me an awful look, and I figured he was just goofing because he wanted a reason to have one himself. Of course, I highly suspected that something was up and reluctently agreed to a cookie and looked in the cookie box. Sitting right on top was a pretty little black ringbox. Matt took it from me and got down on one knee. My heart was racing. He then fell over right on his bum. After a good laugh, he got right back up and said the sweetest things... of course I said, "YES!"

Here are a couple of pics: