Monday, December 22, 2008

Countdown begins

Less than 24 hours til we pack up the car and head out to the mountains for a down home Mr. B Family Christmas. I've spent a pretty serious amount of time with them, but never a Christmas, their BIG DEAL day. Unfortunately, this year several of the clan won't be able to attend, and I'm told I might not get the full effect. But fear not, we will be treated to swedish meatballs [don't be confused, they are actually Appalachian in ethnicity], a family trivia night and a WVU bowl game.

In the meantime, I'm still at work and will be tomorrow as well. I've got my presents in line, but Mr. B had a really hard time taking care of his parents. I refuse to take over his parental present responsibility just yet [it's hard to shop for parents who have everything!]; I may need a signed contract in place before that becomes one of my many many household duties.

The list of to-dos for tonight is quite long. We're going to attempt to make toffee to bring to Mr. B's clan as an offering from my family tradition [shoutout to Grandma Cookie! think maybe that may be a reason for my insane sweet tooth?]. Let's hope we don't destroy our house in a sticky gooey mess before leaving for two weeks.

We also have our own personal holiday celebration to honor. A fancy dinner out, followed by a present exchange [all wrapped around frantic candy making, laundering and packing for a two state junket]. But I already made him 'open' his stocking yesterday. The underwear gifted there was holding up more laundry;) Oy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Really Really Really Beautiful Yellow Tablescape

This design really takes the cake: simple, elegant, yellow, cost-effective and handmade-looking. I love it! How can we make this happen??

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two Piece Dress?

Back from the Left Coast and happy to report that I LOVED San Francisco. The trip consisted of several life-changing food experiences thanks to SF's love of local and organic fare. These experiences included the NICEST restaurant in the city [after each course's first bite, we seriously had to take a break to allow the intense amazement to wash over], the TASTIEST sushi twice over and the BEST cupcakes of your life. This was also compounded by a fabulous weekend of wine and olive oil tasting in Sonoma, regardless of a steady rain.
In short, it was food heaven.

I also got the chance to try on dresses at the famed Glamour Closet, which happened to be around the corner from our hotel! What a fabulous place; I got to try on some great stuff that I normally would snub in the extreme high-end price range [think Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Anne Barge, etc]. However, everything was sample size, and I just didn't find anything that I was positive would work. Highlights included a BEAUTIFUL silk jacquard ballgown and a very simple organza Monique Lhuillier strapless A-line.

I was seriously considering the simple  strapless A-line to use as the base of a multi-piece ensemble, adding a sash & broach and a bolero jacket. But I worry about the gamble of trying to find all the 'dress it up' pieces on my own. I think you could really get a good deal buying all the pieces separately and really get a very personalized look, but I'm afraid of not seeing it all together before making the investment! Here are some images of multi-pieces dresses.

Pros: Unique one-of-a-kind look, pretty details, possibly could get a good deal on the whole package

Cons: Can't see it all together until everything is purchased plus lots more leg work

So what do you think? Should I forge ahead with the DIY Two Piece route if I can't find a single dress that fits the bill?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brother bear's wedding!!

On December 6th, my most fabulous brother married the lovely Dia! The wedding ceremony was particularly beautiful and the reception was a blast!

Friday: Everyone joined Cam and Dia at the church for a rehearsal, which really helped to work out the logistics for the next day. After the rehearsal, the entire bridal party and the ministers (my aunt and our church pastor) prayed for Cameron and Dia's marriage- I thought this was lovely. My parents hosted a rehearsal dinner at Panache restaurant- a very hip and happening place in northern VA. A number of people gave really personal and touching toasts, including my dad, who made everyone cry and Cam's best friend John, who recalled Cam's escapades (an arrest for public urination in Tijuana??) in front of all of our friends and family. hahaha.

Saturday: I met Dia at the church at 12:30 for makeup (I loved doing it!). It was 25 degrees on wedding day, so it was definitely wintery and beautiful out. At 1:30, we went to the salon across the street for her hair appointment, where her stylist created gorgeous tendrils and put in her veil. From there, we got dressed, kept Dia from tearing by yelling various hilarious things ("do you have the wings?" Princess Bride anyone?) and took a few pictures before walking down the aisle!

Dia's uncle, Paul Winter, is a three time grammy-award-winning musician and he performed one of his pieces as a prelude which was absolutely beautiful. After we all made it down the aisle, the congregation sang a hymn together, "Great is thy Faithfulness," which is Cam's favorite. Their friend Danielle, who is an internationally acclaimed opera singer performed a sung version of the Lord's Prayer and afterwards, there were three readings-- two biblical and one literary. My sister-in-law Abigial read "clothe yourselves in love" from Colossians 3:12-17, which was the crux of the homily as well. Later on, Dia's good family friends performed a clarinet and piano piece- overall, the music was amazing. Many people said that they felt they should have paid to come since the calibre of the musicians was so high!

After pictures and visiting with friends and family, we headed over to the reception. Cameron and Dia danced to "Your Love is King" by Sade, which has always been their song. Before dinner, Dia's mom announced that her friend who is baritone with the Metropolitan opera and is playing the title role in Rigoletto (in case you don't know, this is a BIG deal) would be singing a song to Cam and Dia. So that was amazing! He did a romantic song from Camelot. We all had dinner, took pictures with the cameras that were on the table and then danced the night away! To kick off the dancing after dinner, Dia and her father danced to "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra and then my mom and Cam danced to "I Hope You Dance" by LeeAnn Womack, which was very sweet. When the dancing got under way, people really let loose! The highlight was Dia's French friend, who was a maniac on the dance floor; singing loudly to livin on a prayer; and following the conga line around the room. SUPER fun!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hawaiian Splendor...

Check this out...OH man. People have very different ideas of the ideal wedding, right? Biggest lei I've ever seen!!

I'm back!!

Well I've been stranded on a remote island with no internet...literally! I mean, life in Hawaii is great, but it's rainy season (read: things are going at a slower pace than normal) and the Oceania Cable and Internet people really need to get their act together so that I don't have to scavenge for blog access.

While I haven't done a lot of wedding specific things in the last few weeks, I have been working on the whole marriage part, which I hear is slightly important=). Pilot man and I have never spent more than a few consecutive days together, so it's been really interesting to get to know each other on a more day-to-day real life level. With no tv, no internet and lots of rain, we've been doing a lot of talking, a lot of cooking, some Christmas decorating and a little bit of board game playing. Brad even challenged me to Book Lover's Trivial Pursuit (very ambitious of him, I must say!). Despite occassional (stupid) squabbles about dish racks, bug spray and box springs, we still like each other! We are viewing this as a grand success. Woohoo!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Golden Gate to Wedding Dresses?

This weekend is Mr. B's annual work whop-dee-doo in San Francisco, and I get to tag along! I've never been to the Bay Area, and I'm pumped for our amazing plans: city sightseeing, reservations at Gary Denko's, the best restaurant in town, and a weekend in Sonoma wine country for some wine-induced fun and shopping for parental holiday gifts.

But the best part may be the fact that I've got all day on Friday to wander the city on my own. And I'm pretty sure that I want to make Glamour Closet my first stop [it's only 5 blocks from our hotel in the city, AHHHH!!]. Known for seriously discounted designer wedding gowns [we're talking up to 75% off the retail price], I think I'm ready to go solo shopping. I've got an idea of what styles look the best on me and if I can find a deal that happens to be close to my size, I'm going for it. The main issues will be size, unfortunately. Not to be a complete jerk, but I'm concerned that most of the sample size gowns will be the wrong proportion of me since they're a larger size. Anyway, if something happens to work out, I will not hold back!

Also - if I find something totally awesome and expensive, on Saturday, they are having a MAJOR sale. All gowns will be priced at $499, $999 or $1499. Dang, that's a sweeeeeeet deal!

Wish me luck!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Melting Pot

Today was momentous in the lives of Victory B and her finance. Why? We took another step towards the end of our individual singledom: we officially opened our first joint bank account.

This was pretty big for two reasons:

1. I cannot remember the last time I actually went into a physical bank branch. I mean, if it can't be done over the web, why bother, right? But there was just something about going in and having someone take care of it all for us. 

2. This is the account that will eventually become our joint bank account when we are married. Wow, that's pretty real stuff, huh? For now, we're using it to make/track wedding expenses, and our parents will be able to deposit nice little sums to help with the costs. But I can forsee joint banking and money management being one of the toughest parts about being actually married. I'm a total cheapskate and control freak, but Mr. B is a bit more on the relaxed and lavish side. Hopefully, this trial run will help get a feel for how it will be once we seal this deal. And we all know how much we like trial runs [yes, we've been living together for approximately the last two years.]

Friday, December 5, 2008

And the winner is . . .

It's official: Pantone, the color authority, announced the Color of the Year for 2009. And it just happens to be one of my wedding colors [most likely, but not officially yet].

I just love that mustard yellow. So cheery, warm and vintage! From today's Pantone press release courtesy Apartment Therapy"Mimosa, a warm engaging yellow, brings hope and optimism during a time of economic uncertainty and political change. Inspired by the Mimosa tree and the sparkle of the renowned cocktail, the 2009 color of the year represents the hopeful and radiant characteristics associated with the color yellow."

Now pair it up with an ash gray to create this hip and modern combination.

And that's a winning color combo!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quick venue note

I'm so so so excited to check out this place. I mean, who could resist that fireplace? The candlelight?

Studio 887 is the former home of Food 101, and is now run by Bold American Catering/Fifth Group restaurants of South City Kitchen, Ecco, La Tavola fame. Its located in King Plow, the hip west midtown plow factory/industrial site turned offices and event space. Historical? Yes. Warm and cozy? Yes. Overabundance of candles? Yes. Good food? Double yes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspiration in the Mail

What is the best day of the month? Pay day? No way. It's the day the new Domino magazine arrives in the mail! This month's issues provides some sinfully stylish ideas that are easily adaptable to weddings. 
I can't believe I didn't think of this idea earlier: vintage postcards! In Domino this month they suggest using old holiday-themed postcards as holiday decor orfor  your own Christmas correspondence. A quick check of their source (Ebay, naturally) yielded a metric ton of Atlanta-themed cards.

Think about it, the uses are endless: Save the dates, invitations or RSVP reply cards, table numbers, strung on a line with clothespins for general decor! I can't wait to strike a deal with one of the sellers to send over a whole stack. And look at the Emory one they are listing from the 1930s! Golden!

VB Was Here

Came across a fantastic idea today on Weddingbee to involve wedding guests: the quilt square guest book. Just leave out fabric squares and pens for people to sign, sew all the squared together and voila, you have a pretty and meaningful keepsake.

The smart Weddingbee who posted the idea (and she got it from Style Me Pretty) has heard of Spoonflower, the design-it-yourself fabric printer. Submit your design and receive the custom fabric back for $18/yard. Brilliant, I love it!

However, I already know for certain that I want to have a traditional guestbook. My father's parents started a guestbook at their wedding in 1946 and have kept it ever since. The simple wood cover with 'Guestbook' engraved by hand holds yellowed pages stiched together. My grandmother ensured the participants of family gathering signed throughout the year and she recorded the births, marriages and deaths of everyone in her family. It's great to look back and see my father and his four sisters entries from their childhood. One of the best entries is from Aunt Teresa's birthday, dutifully noting how her sister Lennie gave her a chicken.

So, how much guestbooking is too much?

I'm thinking that I will certainly go with the traditional guestbook, but maybe we could encourage people to write marriage advice on the fabric squares to be sewn together. What do you think??

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Great Dress Search Part 1

O, to be a bride. Shiny new bling. Planning a big party in your honor. Life is soooo hard. 

But then, you must choose a dress! 

The decisions are endless and everything beings to look the same. I'm not so sure I am of the ilk who believe that when you put on The One you just know. For every 'good' dress I try on, I can imagine an entirely different wedding around it. 

I started out with some very basic criteria and some images of inspiration. Floor length, white-ish, very couture. Nothing straight across strapless(nothing special on my frame). Well structured, but not over powering this shorty. No beading (overly formal for our style), but with texture.

Most important feature is to find an INTERESTING neckline. Usually that means a v-neck or sweetheart or cap sleeves.

So, without further ado, here are my three favorite dresses to date! My goal is to narrow it down to a specific designer dress than research the heck out of lower cost options including knock-offs and pre-owned. 

Number 1: Madison by Vineyard
This is the first dress I ever ever tried on [except for super friend Laurie's beautiful Rivini dress!]. And I've been thinking about it ever since. It's been featured in at least three bridal magazines I've picked up since trying it on-it's everywhere! And so beautiful. Love the casual vibe, the architectural belt, the 1960s styling. And it was sooo fun to wear (pockets!) and not too far out of budget even brand new. Unfortunately, no one else seemed as jazzed about it as I. I take my sister/MOH's opinion deadly seriously and she seemed lukewarm. Oh well, I think it rocks!

It may not have helped that our consultant, Ellen, at Priscilla of Boston was NOT COOL. Pushy and not understanding of my style. She only perked up when I mentioned a very expensive venue we were considering and though I had a lot of money to spend. Tsk-tsk, Ellen.

Number 2: Spring '08 Lazaro
Wow, super vintage, romantic, AWESOME. This dress really compliments my ring, a replica of a beautiful and unique ring from the 1920s. NOTE: the dress looks complete different on me. Nothing like the photo AT ALL. This dress was very complimentary with a deep v-neck, cap sleeves and killar ruffled back skirt. Natural waist sash, but think I prefer empire now.

This was the first dress that made both my mom and future-mother-in-law tear up. I tried it on with a sweet birdcage veil to complete the ensemble and there I was, a bride. It was so me.

Number 3: unknown style Romona Keveza
GAAHHH! I can't find this exact one online, so I don't know the name. It's close to the one pictured, but I don't think it's entirely the same [look at the left shoulder, NOT the right one falling down]. 

It's simple, classic, pearly white with shoulder straps hitting at just the perfect place. Empire waist to elongate. Lots of room to accessorize to bring in vintage details. We added a sash and brooch with a birdcage veil and it was grand.

This was clearly the mom's favorite. I think that it may make more sense to go in this direction. The super-vintage dresses a la Lazaro and Claire Pettibone (another close runner up is Kristene from the 2006 collection) are BEAUTIFUL and so hot right now. But will that style last? Or will we look back in 10-20 years and bemoan the trends of the day like I imagine many brides of the 80s and 90s do??

Anyway, the process has just begun, so stay tuned for more more more!

The Bridal Bonanza

Many thanks to the glamorous gals who hosted my epic bridal bonanza! Fabulous food, lovely lingerie, lots of laughter, delirious dancing and congenial company: who could ask for anything more? It had all of the best elements of a bridal shower, bachelorette party and going-away shindig. Wearing my "bride to be" sash was extremely fun; I think that people should wear these out in public all the time. In addition to everything else, I was introduced to "New style" hairspray, which is a ridiculously fantastic product for hair. My mane has never been so voluminous- this was quite exciting. But seriously, what will I do without my Atlanta crew? I'm going to miss everyone SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Bachelorette is Going Away Extravaganza

Whew, it's been quite some time! Between my first real business trip and romantic meet up in the amazing city of Chicago and preparing for/hosting BOTH sets of parental units for one big merry Thanksgiving, I've barely had time to write. 

But to fill things in chronologically, we clearly must begin with the bridal-send-off-extravaganza our dear friend threw for Ms. Livalittle before her ATL departure. Though we are incredibly sad to see her off, she's going to a better place . . . Hawaii! And with flurries outside today, I'm pretty positive it is a better place right now. So our girl is on her way to her romantic and tropical new home.

We kicked off the evening with an Aloha-themed dinner party, gifted some sweet and some scandalous lingerie, and played some sweet (toilet-paper wedding dress, photo attached) and some scandalous (sculpt a male body part out of a banana? Way to study up on Grey's Garcia!) games. And in true girls-night-out form, we headed out to Da Club. Luckily, it was a Friday, when typically Hotlanta hip-hop is interspersed with some good old 80s. We got down, and I met my yearly quota of crowded/smokey/LOUD dancing, wahoo! It took approximately 10.25 hours before I could hear anything after our departure. Even though I stayed rock-solid, stone-cold sober (let me tell you, that Andre punch as weak), our dear Samantha lived a little.

But it all came to an end when she drove off, never to live in our ATL again:(

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Long aisles and old style- our church!

Hello friends! Well it's been a week and I've missed the blog! I was quite busy saying goodbye to my dear friends and coworkers in Atlanta and preparing for the journey that will eventually take me to Hawaii. While in DC for the holidays, I plan to make quite a bit of progress on the wedding and am getting excited about the details! As of today, I am most thrilled about our church. It's so lovely! It has a small sanctuary that holds 300 people and features a beautiful mosiac tile floor, gorgeous stained glass, wooden pews and tall candles that line both sides of the long and lovely aisle. I keep imagining BB at the front of the church as the organ sounds a deep and exhilirating note and the back doors fly open, revealing me standing there with dad in my fabulous dress! As I've said before, I long for drama! The picture here shows the sanctuary in the days of old; this church was established in 1792.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Feel it in my Fingers

For today, a mood board. Currently the scheme calls for yellow, gray, wood grain, glass, exposed brick and light.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wedding literature

Looking through my first wedding magazines almost felt like a forbidden pleasure. I had always eyed them at the check-out counter in the grocery store, or in the racks at Barnes & Noble, but knew that they were not for me and that it would be terribly bad luck to purchase one. Now, however, I could hypothetically buy and read bridal periodicals until I am blue in the face! After Brad proposed, several generous friends offered their wedding magazines, books, guides and planners and I have to say, there is some good stuff out there!

I know that my blogger in crime can back me up on this, but one of the best magazines in general is Martha Stewart Weddings. Good old Martha gives advice on DIY projects, flowers, cakes and pretty much everything else. (Does anyone remember that she went to prison, by the way? She seems to have slipped right back into society without people giving a second thought to her time spent knitting while in a white collar penitentiary. Ok, I digress.)

InStyle Weddings is your classic wedding magazine- one beautiful picture after another of couture dresses, real brides, exquisite details and generally swanky people at swanky affairs. This is a fun magazine to look through- I was glad that this was the first one I read, as it gave me a great idea of what I wanted in terms of style.

The's regional magazines are great for getting specific vendor information for your area. This helps in second stage planning (the one I'm in), when you have already determined the type, style, date and location of your wedding.

The rest of the lot (and believe me, there are an unbelievable amount of periodicals) are just a bunch of dress ads. Am I right, Ms. Birdsbee?

Happy reading...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our first dance

As is completely illogical, I have thought of all of the fun tiny details related to our upcoming wedding and have not dedicated much time to pratical matters such as where we are going to have our reception and what we are going to eat. Hmm- perhaps I should remedy this situation. I have given much thought to our first dance song, which is something I guess most people don't need to think about until a month before the event.

Since my loved one is not around to practice dancing to sappy songs with me, I danced by myself the other night, pretending that my dearest was whisking me around the room to various 40s and 50s classics. Etta James' 'At Last' was most enchanting! I love the lyrics: "At last / My love has come along / My lonely days are over / And life is like a song." So sweet! Lovely BB has said that he has been looking for me forever, but it does seem a little silly that we have found each other "at last" considering that we're both 24 years old. Oh well!

Friday, November 14, 2008

To the Frozen North Feeling Warm and Fuzzy

I'm headed off to Chicago for my very first business trip! It's supposed to be an unusually cold weekend, even by the standards of the eskimos who live in the windy city.

Luckily, a very lovey CJ sent a link to this great Restoration Hardware gift, the Smittens [hello new registry item, thanks for stopping by!]. He travels pretty much every week for work so he is flying in today to meet up with me in Atlanta to go north before my conference begins next week. That's right, jet-setting romance! Hopefully he can swing his High and Mighty Airline Status to get me into first class with him. Otherwise, it's steerage for me, but have fun up there with the hot fudge sundaes and champagne!

A Practical Wedding: DIY versus the WIC

As some of you may know, I have a reputation for being a bit high-strung and type A. Yes, they call me the Cruise Director. Poor CJ has really learned to cope with my frequent "come-aparts" and is really quite forgiving. Like that one night I was taking my miserable mood out on him because eleventy hundred of my friends were engaged and not us, not knowing he was going to propose the very next day [still kicking myself for that one].

Coming to terms with my often demanding and judgemental self [hey, who doesn't appreciate telling it like it is??] means that it is vitally important to me that this wedding business does not create excuses for bridezilla behavior or 'but it's MY special daaaaaaaay' attitude. It's not MY special day, it's just me and CJ together gathering with loved ones who support our life-long endeavor. 

This post [linked to from the title] is a must read. I appreciate the discussion around the intensive pressures to reach perfection from both the wedding industry [or Wedding Industrial Complex as I like to call it] and the DIY movement [thanks a lot, Martha!]. The Practical Wedding sees the simple crafters and DIYers [think Etsy folks, $2000 Wedding] as the answer, but my favorite advice is from the comment about the more modest and less corporate affairs of previous generations. 

A great nugget of perspective is this photo, my grandmother, who could barely find enough fabric to make her white dress right after WWII to marry my grandfather out in Idaho. I don't imagine they worried about color schemes or save-the-dates, and I definitely don't think they went into debt or borrowed thousands from their parents to showcase their awesomeness. They were potato farmers for crying out loud. Anyway, this is another guiding philosophy of mine/ours, thought you might be interested.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A note on style.

"Pick the day. Enjoy it- to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come..." -Audrey Hepburn

Style icon Audrey Hepburn said this once (supposedly...I wasn't there) and although I have no idea what she was talking about in context, I have decided that charming Ms. Hepburn was giving sage advice on planning a wedding. Her idea will be my wedding mantra: plan it, have fun and let it happen.

So as long as we're planning, let's talk about style.

I'm the sort of girl who has dreamt about her wedding since the age of 7, so it has been quite easy for me to envision my own version of wedding perfection. I will be marrying a rather charming Navy pilot, so I decided that we should host an old-fashioned yet chic celebration with a dash of 1950s glamour. Our color scheme will be red, white and gold. He and his brothers will dress in various service uniforms and we will pass under a sword arch as we are exiting the church! Talk about drama! I'm hoping to pull off a sophisticated DC wedding with some military weaponry thrown in for good measure. Bring out the canons!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hello world

I would like to take this opportunity to say hello and thanks for coming. Today is exactly our one month engagiversary (hmm, not in spellcheck. I smell a hit new word brewing! Right up there with staycation and hockey mom). And while we are a full year off from the most expensive day of our lives, we are apparently behind on pinning down details according to the many many booked venues in Atlanta. But I will let you in on a little something. We have given name to our wedding theme. I like to abbrev it to CEWADOV, or as some would say: Casual Elegance with a Dash of Vintage. That's easy enough, isn't it?

This translates to a less formal fete, steeped in elegance, and with clear reference to family & fashion of years past. Warm, clean, structured design, with embellishments and artistic references to the golden age of mid-century modern. It's like an interdisciplinary union of art and history. Luckily, I majored in that.

More on our style
Likes: Quick decision making, candlelight, exposed brick, quality photography, really really really good food, DIY projects

The opposite of what is us: unnecessary extras like boudoir photo shoots (since when did this become normal or out of town bags, cheesy DJs, garter toss, divided bride's & groom's side seating

Monday, November 10, 2008

Perhaps I should introduce myself...

Hello fellow bloggers, blog-readers and wedding enthusiasts! It is I, Samantha Livalittle! I have to admit that SL is my pen name-- or for you literati out there, my nom de plume. I've decided to write anonymously so as to preemptively exonerate myself from any bridezilla crimes I may commit over the next few months. I can't promise that I won't succumb to the pressures. In fact, it's probably a guarantee that I will lose my patience while looking at swatches.

Although the wedding process started in Atlanta for me, I will be planning a wedding in DC while living in Hawaii. I am quite happy to tackle this logistical challenge until the scheduled date of September 19, 2009. Most importantly though, I am going to try to live a little throughout this crazy process-- here's to making it fun!

A Soft Launch

Tonight, our story begins. A tale of two brides. A tale of three states, of twelve months, of ten bridesmaids, of one classy writer and one folksy marketer/designer.

Please join us as the proverbial yarn unfolds!