Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A sea of pink

Things are kind of slowly starting to come together! All of the grown-up attendants have been confirmed, the parents of one flower girl have signed off (and I'll work on the second when I have some time at night to send her mom an overdue email), and my stack of bridal/wedding magazines continues to grow. We're getting married!

I've been too preoccupied by moving out of my apartment to focus on wedding planning the past couple of weeks, but now that the vast majority of my stuff is in the new house (if not unpacked) I'm getting back into planning mode. We spent about an hour at a wedding expo on Sunday (this was apparently the mini-expo--the "real" one in January takes over the entire Convention Center and I hope to be mostly done with planning by then or else my head will explode from all of the choices) and came away with a stack of brochures, postcards, and even more magazines. Our primary goal was to pull together a list of potential vendors and then spend the next few weeks researching our options, but when we compared notes that night we realized that we'd found our photographer!

His was one of the first tables we visited, which normally would be a reason not to book him immediately, but none of the other photographers we met there matched his enthusiasm and he just seemed like a really great person to work with. (The advice we got from the venue coordinator is to choose someone who clicks with you, and this guy definitely did.) His portfolio is solid, his online reviews are stellar (best of The Knot 2010), and it didn't hurt that a hefty "you visited my booth" discount brought his price way under anything else we've seen online or in person. He does the standard formal photos (bride's hands holding flowers, couple smiling at each other, flower girls looking cute, etc.), but what sold me were the party photos. He finds people at their happiest and makes them look good (as opposed to red/sweaty/drunk, all of which they probably are), and those are the memories I want.

Anyway, we've tentatively booked him over email (contract to be mailed and signed in the next week or so), and it feels really good to have one big item checked off the list. The next big hurdle is going to be the dress, and I have a couple of dates penciled in (David's Bridal and J. Crew with local bridesmaids, possibly an LA-based studio with my mom when I'm there in October) but I'm still trying to psych myself up for this search. I already don't like making decisions, and according to our venue coordinator the dress style will set the tone for pretty much everything. Pressure, much?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy belated to me

I wasn't planning to do a workiversary (work + anniversary. I made up the word, but the concept is big here) post this year since I've been feeling less than cheery about my livelihood lately, but today's annual performance review changed my mind a bit. It turns out that the people I work with--the ones whose projects I help make happen, whose problems become my problems, whose prose and spelling I constantly correct to make things customer-ready--actually do value me! In an official (involving money) way, even! The money part's not the point (I'll take it, but unless I win the lottery I'm not paying off my student loans anytime soon); it's that my record now shows that folks at this company think I'm doing a good job and expect me to continue doing well. To someone who thrives a bit more than is probably healthy on the appreciation/approval of others, this is a big deal and has been the cause of much smiling this afternoon.

I don't love what I do every day any more than I did before, and I still want to take my career in a different (but perhaps related) area someday...but man, it's nice to know that the time I spend here isn't a waste of time. Phew.

I'm celebrating tonight with a trip to the gym (where I'll listen to my new favorite podcast), followed by Korean barbecue and catching up on new episodes of my favorite web series, then going to sleep early. Me = lucky, lucky girl.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oh, those summer nights

Who am I kidding? Seattle's summer nights are pretty much like nights during the rest of the year--considerably colder than the daytime, and either foggy or downright rainy. Today's high was low 60s and it rained this morning. August here is very confusing.

But I *did* do a lot of fun things this summer, and lacking the motivation to write a more involved post, I'm just going to drop in some photos of highlights from the past couple of months.

This actually happened a few months ago, but dude! It's Mario Batali! Signing a book from which we have since cooked!

We joined some friends to go clamming in early July. It was cold and muddy and my quads hurt for days from all the squatting, but the clam chowder we made that night was AMAZING.

Lots and lots (and lots) of lavender at the Sequim Lavender Festival. Fun girls' weekend with two future bridesmaids.

Traditional group shot from this year's awesomely awesome amusement park trip. (This is the Alamo, not some incredibly authentic-looking olden days roller coaster.) Lots of future wedding participants in this photo. And finally...

This is where we're getting married next summer. Behind us is the main clubhouse that I'll walk out of and down the stairs, and the little stage area is where the ceremony takes place. (The plywood in the background is early construction on one of the stages for the yearly golf tournament, but the coordinator assures us that our wedding date will most likely fall before any visible construction.)

And I suppose a quick life update: thanks to a small crew of surprisingly strong movers, the vast majority of my remaining stuff (after an embarrassing number of trips to Goodwill) is now cohabitating with the fiance! I'm writing this from my new office with one kitty asleep in the chair next to me and The Boy computing in his own office about twenty feet away. The new place is many miles removed from my old apartment (and work, and downtown Seattle, and most of the places I normally go), but it's huge (distant suburbs = more for the money) and I'll get used to the distance and we're happy to be together full-time, even if our respective cats have yet to fully embrace each other. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back in the habit

I was doing so well about posting regularly, but then I went on vacation and lost steam. Whoops!

No pictures yet available of said (awesomely awesome) vacation, or even of the place where we are officially getting married on July 17, 2011(!), but I'll upload them soon and probably do another photo-filled post. (Mid-packing means that camera and USB cable are rarely in the same house, and when they are I'm too tired to use them.)

It's the beginning of what promises to be a busy work (and life) week, so rather than launch into a full-fledged discussion of life stuff, I'll do a quick list of what's on my mind:
  • Moving. Sucks. The outcome will be wonderful--streamlined stuff! living with my fiance!--but I've never been a fan of sorting through clutter (which is how I accumulated so much in the first place) and the weather isn't cooperating. I'm glad the Pacific northwest remembered that it's summer, but packing in an un-air-conditioned 5th floor apartment when it's 90+ degrees outside is a bit much.
  • Third workiversary!...Yeah, so I hit the three-year mark while on vacation, and I thought briefly about doing a milestone post but then decided it wouldn't be much fun for anyone. I still love this company and I believe in its mission and products, but I'm much less enthusiastic about what I do every day than I was last year (or two years ago, and certainly three years ago) and I'm feeling stalled/stuck in a role I wasn't actually hired to do and losing the passion I need to convince the people who matter that I'm capable of something different. I could do a whole series of posts on this, but I won't.
  • Holy crap we're getting married! Last Thursday I chatted with a friend who's planning a wedding for the week after ours next summer, and they've already picked their colors and are arguing about invitation styles. Um...The Boy and I like blue? We'll swing by the local wedding expo in a couple of weeks, but after the rush to find a venue and lock down a (hopefully) sunny date, I was looking forward to chilling on the planning for a few weeks. I hate feeling like I've fallen behind. Sigh.

Anyway, time to get to work. Photos of my recent travels are forthcoming...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So close!

The coordinator checked her email earlier than expected, and we have verbal confirmation! We're waiting until money changes hands (or at least when arrangements have been made for money to change hands) before we announce for sure, but it looks like The Boy is getting a wedding for his birthday...

Home stretch, maybe?

After a ton of math and rationalization, we called a venue and told them we were ready to put down a deposit. The coordinator won't be back in the office until Wednesday, though, so we won't know until then if our chosen date is still open. Now we wait...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

This'll have to be quick since I'm supposed to be, like, working and stuff. We just had the third of three (scheduled) visits, and...crap.

After being totally floored by The View on Saturday, I figured today's venue (The Garden) would be a token visit to confirm that we'd already found the best venue, but no, not so much. The Garden has many good things going for it--beautiful garden with blooming flowers, relatively low rental rates, a whole house at our disposal for preparing and lounging--and nothing we saw was clearly better or worse than The View; it was just...different. Where The View was all about elegance and service and well-manicured lawns (it is on a golf course), The Garden has simple beauty (rustic yet clean!), flexibility (choose from eight caterers!), and flowers for days. The Boy is going to crunch the numbers on this one tonight since we didn't get a full estimate, and if the cost difference is substantial (even including a hefty catering estimate and the potential stress of doing all the planning ourselves) then we might have a winner.

Now, if the costs work out to about the same (unlikely, but possible), we'll have a different question on our hands. Do I want pampered elegance (the Sunday wedding package at The View is literally called "Pampered Bride") or DIY? I was kind of looking forward to letting my crafty side out to make decorations, place cards, centerpieces, etc., but now I'm worried that they'll look shabby at the swanky place, whereas they would probably look great in a colorful garden setting. To what extent should the surroundings reflect our personalities, and at the same time how much do the surroundings say about who we are? And how much does it matter if the venue is swanky, even if we as people aren't?

Anyway, I'm hoping that a lot of these questions will answer themselves soon--either there'll be a clear winner on costs, or the magical July date at The View (the only one that doesn't conflict with a major golf tournament) will disappear. I know we'll be happy with whatever we choose, but this part is so frustrating...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coming down the home stretch?

I don't want to use any absolutes yet, just in case something goes wrong or we change our minds entirely, but the place we saw yesterday? SO nice. So very, very nice. We are thisclose to pulling the trigger (especially since there are only 3 dates left next summer--yikes!--one of which will likely be in the height of Seattle's summer), but we're seeing one more place tomorrow and I'm waiting for another place to return my call to schedule another visit.

So, yesterday's venue: Beautiful. Just...beautiful. I call this one "The View," and even though it was too foggy during our visit to actually see the view, the grounds were beautiful. It cost...well, about as much as any other similar place around here, but the estimated cost includes food, drinks, all of the tables and chairs we'd need plus setup and tear-down, AND--this is the kicker--a wedding coordinator. She gave us a tour yesterday, and as soon as she started describing how she meets with the couple throughout the year to do a floor plan, settle on the menu, make sure all of the details are covered, etc. I was pretty much sold. And there were lots of great-sounding details, too, like she strongly recommends holding the rehearsal dinner at least two nights before the wedding so everyone has a day in between to relax, and there's a whole choreographed procession from the dressing room to the entryway where the mom sees the bride for the first time, out to the lawn where her dad (or, in my case, probably the fiance) sees her for the first time, and the whole thing sounds very emotional and of course is all captured on film. I'm sure she uses this detail to get the bride all misty and imagining her own wedding day in that very location, and it totally worked.

Anyway, The Boy and I are big fans of the all-in-one package, especially since there's a person whose entire job it is to keep track of our planning and help us make decisions. We can handle all of this stuff on our own--I have wedding magazines and offers of help coming out my ears, and I'm so grateful for that--but man does a coordinator sound awesome. And now that I'm getting more comfortable with the magnitude of wedding costs, I'm even willing to go along with his philosophy that it's okay to pay a bit more for peace of mind. Regardless of whether this place works out, though, I think yesterday's visit gave us a really good idea of what we want in a wedding venue. If we don't get this place, we'll at least have something to aim for in subsequent visits. Fingers crossed for a decision soon!