Archive for February, 2010

Shortly after Brandon and I got engaged last August (amongst my state of newly engaged euphoria) I came out of my high long enough to recognize and remember a question a friend asked me.

“Are you guys doing counseling or anything?”

I remember being quite pleased that I had a “Well actually. Yes we are.”

I am a HUGE fan of counseling. Giant fan!

I’m talking C-O-U-N-S-E-L-I-N-G kind of fan. I believe in the power of thought, introspection, and self understanding. I feel that not enough people attend counseling. I could also go into long rants about our culture (close minded) and fear (too much) and mental illness (we need more education, availability and understanding) but I won’t because this is not THAT kind of blog.

Anyway, point being, I see counseling as a way to get through some of the unclear “winters” of life. Last year, Brandon and I were facing some particularly hard times what with a move across the country, adjusting to being recent college graduates, starting our life together, family troubles, under employment…the list could go on and on, but you get the point. It was a teensy weensy little itty bitty rough patch in our lives.

I, at first, started going to counseling on my own. Brandon soon started joining me and although it began with a purpose of finding a solution to a specific problem it really began to broaden. It turned out to be an awesome experience for us emotionally and mentally. It brought us closer together and created a more focused form of communication.

We talked about a wide variety of topics and explored common ground and not so common ground. From the very beginning of our relationship Brandon and I have been VERY open communicators. We had to be based on the fact that we lived so far apart. We knew if we were going to make it work we had to pony up and talk openly and honestly. When words are all you have they become pretty important.

One thing I still love about us is that we continue to talk. We talk to each other all the time about things big and small. We are both introspective, self aware, and analytical. We learn from our mistakes and from the mistakes of others. We also talk extremely candidly about the things we need to work on and the things with which we have different opinions, habits and styles.

I have also researched many pre marital types of counseling questions and listened intently to the ideas of others. I have yet to find something we haven’t discussed openly and developed a plan for. However, I am totally game if you have any suggestions.

Below are the seven areas most couples need to focus on when taking part in pre marital counseling.



Personalities and families-of-origin


Conflict resolution

Intimacy and sexuality

Long-term goals

Brandon and I are strong proponents of counseling and encourage everyone to participate in it when they are comfortable. Our counselor was from a secular, therapy based standpoint and I really enjoyed this and thought it was great based on our needs and belief system.

In the end, we both felt we could share important information openly and honestly, it brought us closer together and allowed us to continue to develop our relationship. We are so thankful for the confidence it has given us in being able to realistically and openly handle the ups and downs our relationship will inevitably go through. I know that should there ever come a time where we need it again we would definitely take part. It feels great knowing that we have an “action plan” to weather a storm. We continue to be thankful for the opportunity and for each other.


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I thought it would be fun to play a little adjective game. Brandon and I thought of 10 words we hope describe our wedding.

1)      Fun

2)      Casual

3)      Personal

4)      Friendly

5)      A little whimsical

6)      Celebratory

7)      Unique

8)      Rustic/Seasonal (I know I cheated.)

9)      Unifying

10)   Shannon and Brandon (as in “That is so Brandon and Shannon”)

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So, Shannon bought her wedding dress a couple weeks after we were engaged.  She had a pretty good idea about what colors she wanted for our wedding – and that meant she had a pretty good idea about what she wanted for her Bridesmaids’ dresses.

Well, I’ve got a secret for you: I had a pretty good idea what I wanted in terms of a tuxedo.

First and foremost, bow tie:

No, no!  Not that kind of bow tie.   This kind of bow tie:

That’s right.  Bond-esque.  Sexy, suave, confident.  Studly.  Bond.  Bow tie.  You get it.

In addition, I wanted something that fit slim (I’m a little guy) and was available in a one or two-button (again, I’m a little guy).

As far as colors… well… this was where I wanted to throw in my allegiance to the color orange.  Before you groan about that, it is worth noting that orange is one of our colors – so it fits perfectly, right?

Well – wrong.  Sort of.

When we went to Street’s and started looking at Tuxedos, it became quickly apparent that we didn’t want to have Bridesmaids with chocolate dresses and Groomsmen with chocolate tuxedos.  As much as I love orange, I didn’t want to get married in orange and black – especially considering we’re getting married in October.

So what colors?  Well, my groomsmen will be wearing black tuxedos with a chocolate vest / bow tie combination.  Something like this:

The picture on the bottom-left is probably the closest to what we’re getting – albeit it what we’re getting is still different.

Travis will not be wearing a vest.  We felt we should do something to differentiate him from the rest of the groomsmen since he is the officiant.

As for me, I’ll be matching Shannon with a black tuxedo and a champagne vest / bow tie combination.  Something like this:

Shoot!  I couldn’t find a photo.  Either way – you know what color champagne is.   My father will be matching me by wearing a champagne bow tie, but no vest.

Street’s Formal Wear

That is all.

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I have been stuck in the house for a couple of days and been looking at a bunch of wedding stuff online to keep me entertained. I have realized that I have combed through hours and hours of stuff. I wanted to share some ideas with you that I have discovered in recent weeks. In fact, Brandon and I made some trips to Michael’s and Old Time Pottery over the weekend and began buying supplies.

Some of the websites and blogs listed on our site are sources I use. Once we got engaged I began signing up for daily/weekly emails and get tons of great ideas. I get my ideas mostly from wedding websites, magazines (wedding or not), and sometimes I even think of them all by myself. Friends and family have been a great help too!  It also helps that our wedding is in the fall so I have stolen quite a few ideas from hosting fall events of all kinds. I knew that feeling and ambiance I wanted at the wedding and that has been my basis for most of the things I have found.

The tree idea below I am especially proud of as I had thought of creating our own piece of art (such as a tree) and then found the canvas thumbprint tree. I also loved the tree idea etc for messages but then after searching realized it was a really big deal in the wedding world. The exciting thing is that a lot of the projects and materials we are working on will be things I will be able to use after the wedding to decorate the house. Below are the inspirations but we will see how mine look at the end!

The Wish Tree

Thumbprint Tree

Chalkboard Canvas

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So in the past few months I have much improved in using the right side of my brain (the creative side). I used to think I had not a creative bone in my body but I have been practicing with all the creative geniuses in my life I have been getting a lot of experience. This need for creativity infiltrated a number of projects and ideas in my life including the wedding. For many years I fought domesticity and learned nothing about decorating, sewing, art, etc. However, if I was going to pull off a DIY wedding on a low budget I knew I needed to learn a number of new skills and really “practice” my creativity. One thing that I really needed to learn was how to sew.

My combination of supposed inability and resistance meant that at twenty five years old I could not sew a stitch. I had never picked up needle and thread in my entire life. It seems many young women my age know nothing of this lost art that women of previous decades HAD to learn. In no way do I want to go back to the days before shopping malls and working women but I know for sure that a skill such as this would come in extremely handy. It could eventually help me save money (which we all know how much I like the idea of that) and also create unique and personal items.

Once I started looking at some of the things I wanted to create for the wedding, I knew I was in trouble if I couldn’t at least learn to sew a little bit. It seemed to all fit together because in the middle of my mission I inherited a generous gift of a still lovely sewing machine. On a wedding planning trip to Joann’s Fabric a couple of months ago I signed up for an introductory sewing class, Sewing 101.

Last week I completed my first sewing class. Evidently the 2 ½ hours was not good enough for me because the teacher stayed behind for half an hour to finish teaching me the basics. I can now thread my machine and sew stitches (although not in a straight line). It was a fun and humbling experience. I definitely have to continue to practice. I am hoping to embark on my first project in a few weeks. I love the idea of learning new things and it seems wedding plans are allowing me to do just that. It may be something I am extremely bad at now, but hopefully it will come in handy in the future. Practice makes perfect.

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When I first began looking for bridesmaid dresses I had very little in mind as to what I wanted. I had some ideas in my head but it turned out I went a completely different route similar to how I chose my own dress. I knew that it had to be something involving the fall themed colors and something that would be comfortable to where in mid-October at an outdoor, casual ceremony. I had heard horror stories of girls having to wear dresses that were designed for winter in the middle of summer and read article after article regarding bridesmaids having to slap down hundreds of dollars down for a dress they would wear once. On top of that I had to revisit the conundrum of having my bridesmaids all over the place. The last thing was that they are all different shapes and sizes and personalities. Some are really girly and feminine wearing high heels and makeup every day. Some are more casual and relaxed and don’t wear a dress unless they have to.

So, at first I had thought I would go the traditional route and choose a dress for all of the girls to wear that were completely matching etc. However, the more I looked, the more I thought about giving them the option of choosing their own dress. I checked wedding site after site looking at pictures of dresses and at bridal parties. I thought the ones where the girls wore different dresses were cute and fun. Each girl got to express their personality and pick out a dress that could wear again. Plus, I knew that selfishly I wouldn’t have to put the time into picking out a dress and risk complaints or dissatisfaction from the girls. (Not that they would complain of course.)

Color was another issue all together as I didn’t know what direction we were exactly going with and was still in the middle of figuring that out. I had originally pictured a cranberry color but then through all of my research I ran across several pictures of chocolate dresses and started to fall in love. I considered all of my options including how I could use colors in other ways and how the groomsmen tuxes would look.

After all of these options and considerations I decided to go with chocolate dresses that the girls picked out themselves. I sought the opinion of the girls before they made my final decision and all seemed really happy with idea of picking up their own dresses. So in the end, that is route we went. The girls can choose their own dresses. I did ask for a few things. 1) They did buy a chocolate dress. 2) That it is not really short and it is not really long (due to the style of the wedding) 3) They buy it by May of this year (that way I know it is done and I can finish coordinating everything else).

I think this will look awesome and it turns out that it made for an awesome look when paired with the tuxes. Brandon will tell you more about that later.

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I got another question as of late that I thought might be an interesting blog topic regarding how I keep track of everything. I also figured this blog could potentially have significant historical purposes.

This post is dedicated to my future husband since what he lacks in this area I make up for in obsessive compulsive tendencies.

My list of weapons include

1)      3” three ring binder with over 100 page protectors (labeled dividers of course)

2)      Spiral bound notebook

3)      10ish email folders labeled for various aspects of wedding items

4)      Wedding Items desktop folder

5)      Calendar/planner

6)      3 spreadsheets and counting

My binder contains hard copy ideas including decoration ideas, business cards, creative ideas and long lists of tips taken from magazines, bridal shows, and websites. My spiral bound notebook is a special, special little goldmine since it contains all thoughts as they enter my little brown.  It has about fifteen lists including DIY projects, things to buy,and weekly “to do” lists. I keep old “to do” lists as each ones builds on each other.  I receive numerous emails everyday from the 5-7 different emails lists. I have to be extremely dedicated to checking them and printing/allocating them as needed or else they would quickly get out of hand. What’s worse? I would miss ideas! The calendar is an obvious must have for timelines and appointments. The spiral notebook and the calendar are with me AT ALL TIMES. Excel spreadsheets include guests lists and budget.

If there is one thing I am good at, it’s organization. I take great pride in it. And I am really happy I do because this DIY wedding wouldn’t go on without it.

What can I say? I’m a busy girl. Like I said, I got this.

My Tools

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