Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Videography: The Super 8 Option

When talk began, for Mr. Beetle and I after we were engaged, over cakes, locations and the like, I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about hiring a videographer. In truth, I had never actually seen a wedding video that I really liked. While I loved reliving the moments of freind's wedding, I wasn't a fan of cheesy fade-outs, fuzzy borders and the practice of passing the microphone around while one of your pals is trying to finish up their salads and not be blinded by the glaring light in their face. Though I wasn't really sure why, I also never liked the "look" of video. So, while I certainly loved the idea of having a record of our day, I wasn't sure how to justify spending thousands of bucks on something I felt so "eh" about.

Of course my need to obsessively research everything until my brain begins to hurt won over, and I set out to find a unique, out of the box videographer. That's when I discovered Super 8.

Super 8 is not actually video at all, its film. Introduced in the 60's, Super 8 cameras quickly became the must-have gadget of every growing family and filmmaker wannabe. Chances are, many of your parents have Super 8 cameras or projectors collecting dust down in their basements. Nowadays, however, despite the fact that technology has moved way beyond Super 8, there is a bit of a renaissance happening as people begin to rediscover and re-embrace the medium. Though few and far between, there are some wedding videographers out there who strictly stick with this old classic.

Super 8 films look very different than the crisp digital, or even standard, video we are used to seeing. Images are grainy and colors look muted and rich. Somehow everything manages to look way more romantic and ethereal. Once I saw some sample Super 8 clips I was hooked.

We now have the most fabulous, gorgeous, vintage-like art film of our wedding day and I could not be happier. Our entire film is only 18 minutes long, so I don't feel bad asking anyone to watch it (and we've watched it ourselves a ridiculous number of times already). Somehow in Super 8 me and all of my friends look more glamorous and chic than we do in real life, and that fantasyland works great for me.

Here are a few Super 8 resources:
* Some more info on the Super 8 phenomenon
* Wes Jones (New York)- If we had our wedding in NYC, this is totally who I would have hired
* Wilson Fontaine (New York)
* Worker Bee Designs (New York)
* Lady Flash (TX)
* Bliss* Video Productions (LA, San Francisco)

"Scarf-ed" Em' All Down

I literally spent months agonizing over what to get my bridesmaids as gifts to thank them for taking part in my wedding. I was hell bent on coming up with an original idea, and spent hours online researching every possibility. I wanted to get everyone different gifts, but also wanted some continuity so that no one felt like they got a lame present.

Then I found Lulette.

Lulette makes the most adorable, chic, colorful scarves, and has an option that allows you to "create your own message" on a scarf. You get to choose the main yarn color, the accent yarn color, and even the font that is used. The scarves are $89 bucks a piece and take six weeks to produce. Perfecto!

So, I bought a scarf for each of my girls, choosing color combos and fonts that I thought best expressed who they are. I decided to put a message on each that said "Love [bridesmaid's name]" so mine would read "Love Erica."

During our rehearsal dinner when I gave them all out, I explained that the message on each of the scarves was two-fold: I meant it both as an expression of how I feel toward each of them, as well as a reminder to the world (and themselves!) of how they each should be treated.

Needless to say, they went over like gangbusters. I'm just mad that I didn't order one for myself.

Say Cheese: Our Polaroid Guest Book

As I mentioned in my recent wedding recaps (part 1, part 2, part 3), one of my favorite things that we did on our big day was our Polaroid Guest Books.

We used two Adesso Albums and two Polaroid One600 Ultra Instant cameras. We also ordered two personalized gold nameplates which we stuck on the front of the albums (Adesso does this as well).

The reason I loved the Adesso albums so much, is that each page comes with a slot perfectly fitted for a polaroid photo. I didn't need to bother with any other photo corners, glue or anything. By the time I ordered these puppies (which was right before our wedding) I was NOT looking to take on any DIY projects or assignments, so the Adesso Albums were the perfect solution.

We did not hang any special backdrop, though I think if you have the space and inclination, that would be fab. I've recently seen this done where brides choose some cool vintage fabric or even a silly city scene.

We purchased two albums and had about 90 guests at our wedding. Each album comes with room for 30 polaroid photos, and I wanted to make sure that everyone there had the opportunity to write out a page, if they so desired (and they did!). I found, for the most part, that people did not necessarily "group up" for the photos. Couples did and family members did, but I did not have any pics of our entire "friends table" for instance.

We also made sure to have a pretty cup with all sorts of magic markers and pens out for people as well as a cute sign (that matched our stationery, seating cards, etc) that said something along the lines of: "Please take a picture and leave us with some well wishes." We placed everything in a room that was a bit of to the side, where we had our cake, dessert, etc. I think it would also be great to place this near the bathrooms, as that's someplace everyone makes it to at some point or another in the evening.

Though I initially had my doubts, I was blown away and so thrilled by how many of our guests took the time to take their pics and write us out special notes. They really are something that we'll hold onto for many years to come.

A few tips:
* You and your hubby to be should take two polaroid pics before everything gets'll need those for the front covers of the book. We did not realize this and, luckily, our videographer made us pose in the middle of the wedding so that we could get something in there.
*Have your wedding planner (or if you don't have one, a friend or bridesmaid) be in charge of the table you put this all out on. Polaroid film only comes with 10 pictures in each pak, so there is going to be some empty boxes and other garbage that you don't want lying around all night. Also, have a pretty garbage pail right there so there is someplace to throw out the empty boxes, etc.
*Make sure to include some sort of sign letting people know that this is your guest book. Your younger guests will certainly figure it out, but you want to make sure that everyone knows they should be snapping photos.
*Don't forget your books! Or your cameras (we forgot ours). Assign someone to make sure that you have your books before you take off for the'll have a blast reading them before you jet off on your honeymoon!

The "Weight-ing" Game

Confession: I've been home from my honeymoon for 4 months...and I've gained 20 pounds.

Yep, it's true. Yep, I'm sure. And ain't pretty.

I share this information with you now because, in truth, I want to scare you all a teeny bit. I want to get you thinking about a gameplan, preparing for the "ah, to hell with it" attitude that will crawl into your brain and plop down on a beanbag chair with a bag of Fritos and a diet coke, and to get you ready.

In truth, I've had major issues with my weight my whole of course that didn't help matters. But in my own non-scientific research, apparently that doesn't make a lick of a difference. In a recent poll I took (and by "poll" I mean I called 5 friends last night who each were married in the last three years), 100% of my respondents admitted to gaining weight immediately following their weddings.

Don't join our club...cause once you're in, its realllly hard to resign.

Now, of course I'm not speaking to those of you who could use to gain a pound or two...or to anyone else who really doesn't care to focus on their weight at all and is happy with whatever goes down in that arena. To each, her own I say...and I really mean it.

But for anyone out there like me who worked their asses of to lose weight before their weddings...struggled with annoying diets and weird exercise regimes...ripped pictures of skinny models out of magazines and hung them on your wall..I implore you to be really careful and come up with a solid plan of action.

If I had it to do all over again, here's what I'd do:

1. Indulge as much as I can while on my honeymoon, enjoying all of the delicious dinners and tasty treats I deprived myself of while preparing for the wedding (OK, this is actually exactly what I did).
2. Promise myself that the moment I return home, the eating free-for-all will end (nope, didn't do this one).
3. Make sure that our house is immediately stocked with all of the healthy food I was eating and enjoying before said Honeymoon binge (if you can ask a friend or family member to stock you up before you return home, even better) (I did the opposite and stocked up on Devil Dogs, bagels, and all the chocolate I could get my hands on).
4. Weigh myself the day after I return (did this but then didn't get back on for 3 weeks...and by then it was too late).
5. Exercise the day after I return, and commit to 2 more times that week (nope...ignored this one too).
6. Stop saying to myself at every opportunity "eh...I'm still in Honeymoon mode!"

I'm happy to report that I am now, as of 3 days ago, back in charge of my 20 pound situation, and on the way to solving it. I'm prepared for the fact that it could take me 4 more months to lose it, and that's ok. Just don't follow my lead.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gift Idea: City Writes Stationery

In the world of stationery, it seems to be all about personalization right now--calling cards, couple crests for invitations or even custom produced handmade paper. True, I'm a bit biased, but I think stationery is one of the best, universal gifts out there. I'm particularly enamored with a little company here in New York called City Writes.

Kari Jo Cates is the super creative lady behind the City Writes curtain, and, in my opinion, she takes "personalized" to a whole new level. City Writes offers hand calligraphed social stationery, announcements, luggage tags, invites and more. Since each card is done by hand, they are all a teeny, tiny bit different, and yet charmingly adorable and sweet. I think this makes a fantastic gift for your bridesmaids, your new mother-in-law or even as a special vendor thank you (if time allows, I also like to use these as a great hostess thank you gift). Best of all, you can order smaller quantities and the prices are very reasonable (8 cards for $18.50; 25 cards for $52). Kari Jo will also hand calligraph envelopes for your invites or placecards.

You can choose different styles of writing and symbols to further personalize your stationery.

The first time I placed an order with City Writes (for cards which were to be sent to my aunt in California), I was thrilled and surprised when I was sent one personalized card with my own name on it along with a thank you note for my order. Holla for fab customer service and chic stationery!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Honeymoon Tip: Lighten Your Load

For those who can afford it (and yes, I do realize that many of you are getting ready to spend more money than you ever imagined you could in one short day), luggage forwarding is a pretty dreamy travel indulgence. Here's how it works: You call up one of any number of luggage forwarding services, they come directly to your house, pick up all your crap, and then a few days later its waiting for you (usually all stacked neatly in a pile) wherever you are going. No shlepping any heavy long lines at those annoying luggage just get on the plane, jet off to your honeymoon destination and, voila...your luggage is waiting for you in your room.

Since you are basically shipping your luggage, prices vary greatly depending on where you are going, how many bags you have and how much each bag weighs. International destinations are, of course, more than domestic ones.

The downside (beyond the cost) is that you need to be packed several days before you leave. However, if you are very organized (or aspire to be), this is also great motivation for getting into gear. For those that are traveling with sports equipment (like golf clubs) or plan to do a lot of shopping while you are away, this service is even more spectacular.

For our recent destination wedding, my family and I used Luggage Express and were mostly happy with the results. The one hiccup occurred at our hotel, and I am really still unsure who messed up. After our wedding, my husband and I decided to ship one bag home so that we did not have to carry around anything extra on our honeymoon in Italy. Since my dad and brother's bags were also being picked up from the same hotel (and we all have the same last name), there was some confusion and somehow our bag ended up back at my Dad's house. The situation was quickly remedied (at their expense) and it really didn't matter for us because we were away for two weeks.

Even after our mishap, the freedom and convenience of just being able to get on the plane and go, was soooo worth it. I will do it again in a heartbeat.

Here are a few other luggage forwarding services (though I have not tried any of these companies, so check em out first):
The Luggage Club
Luggage Forward
Luggage Free
X S Baggage

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Dee-lightful Wedding Recap (part two)

After a pre-wedding photo session (yep, it was way too rushed and we did not have nearly enough time...I haven't yet talked to any brides who were actually ready on time, so if you are out there, kudos to you...I couldn't manage it), we went down to the Ladies Locker Room for the Ketubah signing.

This is our beautiful ketubah. Ketubah's are actually Jewish marriage licenses and according to Jewish law, after they are signed, you are officially married (no need for the additional ceremony--of course most of us ignore that part these days). In truth I didn't quite know what to expect for the Ketubah signing ceremony, but it actually was quite special. Our Rabbi, Sally Olins from Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs was really wonderful. Greg and I had spoken with her on the phone several times and then met with her in person the day before our wedding. She managed to make our wedding so warm, personal and spiritual...but in a very accessible way.

Our ceremony was outside and was set up facing the gorgeous mountains. It's hard to tell in these shots, but the sun was actually setting as our ceremony began and the sky turned the most gorgeous shade of pink. I was so caught up in everything, I missed it myself, but everyone there said that it perfectly matched my dress.

These were our programs.

And these were our seating cards. We got the cardstock for our programs from Paper Source, and the printing done last minute at Kinkos. Big Mistake. Big, big, big mistake. Towards the end of your wedding planning, you will be feeling very overwhelmed...perhaps even a bit complacent. However, I urge you, do not do any of your printing at Kinkos under any circumstances. I can't tell you what a huge headache/nightmare we had with them and, in the end, our programs ended up looking a bit wonky. Though, that was due in NO part to our fabulous stationery designers, Wiley Valentine. They designed our invites, table cards, program stickers and the stickers and coin envelopes we used for our seating cards. Months after the wedding, I'm still getting comments on our invites. I seriously love me some Wiley Vanetine.

After the ceremony, we headed back into the club for our cocktail hour. Greg and I actually took our Yichud, which in the Jewish tradition is some private time that the couple spend together directly after the ceremony to reflect on the specialness of the day. We joined the cocktail hour after about twenty minutes or so and the party was already in full swing. It's typical here in NY where we live to have an over the top cocktail hour with mounds and mounds of food. Often, I'm not even hungry for dinner after a particularly stellar cocktail hour binge. But we really wanted an elegant, fairly quick cocktail hour. We had 5 or so h'ors d'oeurvres and a martini bar. Another favorite touch (and fairly recent discovery) I made is X-rated Fusion Liqueur. I know it sounds naughty, but really its the most beautiful pink fruit-juice infused vodka. There are blood oranges, passion fruit, mangoes and some other delish things in there and all I can say is that for a total non-drinker like me, I could slosh down this stuff all night long. We had X-cocktails, which were just some of the liqueur mixed with sparkling water. I chuckled a bit when I saw some of our fairly beefy friends and family walking around with pretty pink drinks, but everyone really loved it.

One of the major highlights of our wedding was the food. Not that I had too much of it, but people were raving all night long about the utter delicious-ness of absolutely everything. We used a caterer from LA called Savore. They were unbelievable to work with, full of amazing ideas and, the food was really over the top spectacular. In truth, I had never been to a wedding before where the food was really good, so this was a new experience for me. My one major regret/complaint is that no one made us a doggie bag. You really do get so caught up in the evening, talking to everyone, and not wanting to mess up your lipstick (ok, at least I did), and by the time you turn around its all over. We got back to our hotel well after midnight (which was after they had stopped serving room service), and we were so hungry we had to make a run to a vending machine.

I really did not want to do typical wedding-y centerpieces for the table. I realized after the third or fourth person asked me "would you like to do high or low centerpieces?," that the answer was neither. Instead we collected over the year of planning hundreds of different sized and shaped crystal candlesticks and votives. We mixed these up on all of the tables. We also collected crystal bud vases and used white orchids and roses on each table. Every single table looked a little different, yet they all tied together. As much as I love flowers, I knew that the real "va va voom" effect would come from loads and loads of candles so we really did go a bit overboard in that category, but boy am I glad we did.

Our band was also amazing. They were a soul/R&B band called The Art of Sax. By the end of the night, they knew all of our guests by name and were taking requests. Greg and I really danced the night away and had so much fun with all of our friends. Another great piece of advice I got from a few previous brides-to-be was to spend as much time with your guests as you can during the cocktail hour. Ignore your friends and focus on Aunt Helen and Uncle Seymour. This way when the party really gets started, you've already said all of your hellos and can get down and boogie with your pals without feeling guilty.

The one part of the wedding that I hated...and I mean really detested was getting lifted up in our chairs while dancing the Hora (can you see the terror on my face?). Every Jewish bride and groom must face this fate and I can only say that I wish my fellow tribesmen luck, and strong relatives. I'm not sure why this was so frightening to me, but I truly felt like I was going to fall the entire time. You are supposed to be joyful and exuberant and all I wanted to do was get the hell down. Cleopatra be damned, I don't ever want to do that again.

Our cake was definitely over the top...and it was really even more delicious than it was beautiful.

My hands down, super fantabulous favorite thing we did was our Polaroid Guest Books. I purchased two cheapie Polaroid cameras off of amazon and ordered our books from Adesso. For some reason, I did not think that most guests would bother taking a photo and writing something out to us, but almost every person there did! I honestly pull these books out on almost a weekly basis now to go through them and see all of the fab photos and kind/funny/touching words that everyone wrote.

Well, there you have it. I wish I could invite you all over to my place now to finish things up by showing you our wedding video. I know I've mentioned 11 other favorite things about our wedding so far, but our video is truly my heart-stopping fav-oh-rite. We hired a wonderfully gifted guy named C. Charles Bowden (though, unfortunately, our was his last video!). He shot the whole thing in Super-8, and it truly does look like a beautiful little vintage art film. It's only 18 minutes long and everything from the music to the images is just really breathtaking. I think we've watched it about 32 times so far.

I plan to share some more specific wedding advice based on the good, the bad and the ugly that went down for us on our wedding day, but for now, here are my thoughts for all of you brides-to-be:

Be bold and express yourself; take chances; Hire a stellar photographer; Bring a change of shoes; Build in some private time with your new husband during the evening so that you can stop, take a look around and enjoy all the love that is surrounding you; eat something during the day! You will plan to do this and then you will not do it. Assign someone to make sure that you have yummy food around at all times for whenever you feel like munching (I had m&m's all day); Start a skin regime 3 months or so before your wedding (earlier if you are more responsible...unlike me); Give your digital camera to a friend and ask them to take pics all night (yes you are paying a lot for a photographer, but you are going to want to see pics immediately. We spent a couple of hours in beautiful Italy oohing and ahhing over all of the digital pics our friends took); don't drink too much alcohol OR water (its annoying and hard to go to the bathroom in a wedding dress); Dance with people you might not normally dance with; Don't get annoyed when things go wrong...I can promise you they will, but believe it or not, your day will still be dreamy...really.

I'm a Mrs! My Dee-lightful Wedding Recap (part 1)

We came...we saw...we "I do'd"

October 21 was a pretty magical day from start to finish (despite some major snafus). went by in a flash. Yep...many things went wrong, but our wedding day was still more dreamy/fantastic/over the top/delicious/fun than I could have ever imagined. Here are the deets:

Our wedding was in Big Horn (a fancy shmancy community in Palm Desert, CA where my aunt, who threw our whole shindig, lives). I want bore you with too many details or vendor reviews because, unfortunately, unless you own a home aren't allowed in. Pretty harsh, I know...but true.

I started off the day at the Big Horn Spa, where Jessica made me look positively gaw-gous. A word to the wise: for those brides-to-be out there thinking of going with fake lashes, I say by all means, without a doubt, halleleujah! it! I can't tell you what a huge difference this made in my look for the day.

After getting ready, I lounged around a bit in my robe. Isn't my bouquet TDF? Rannuculus, garden roses and some sweet peas...all in pink, of course.

Thank goodness I had my bridesmaid/best friend Cara to help me with my veil. Though I had done a hair trial with it, I had never really put in myself...for some reason this was a bit tricky for us, but we got it done. I purchased my veil at Carolina Herrera (where I also got my pretty pink, pinstriped dress!)

A couple of dress shots for you. I must confess, I'm still so madly in love with my dress, I would have said "I do" to it if I could. Though many out there would disagree with me, I was never a strapless, white ballgown kind of gal and as soon as I saw this dress in a magazine, I knew it was the one for me. The moment I put it on, I felt like I was at some glam, 40's ball at the Stardust Hotel. Best of all, it had pockets! I cannot tell you how much fun it was to have a wedding dress with pockets. Carolina Herrera dresses are definitely a bit more pricey, but if you can swing it, they are a dream to work with. I never had a single problem and my alterations were all as easy as can be.

I bought my Stuart Weitzman shoes on ebay. The platform made them waay more comfortable than standard high-heels, but I still switched into platform flip flops the moment we were done with our first dance (Al Green's "Let's Stay Together").

Here are some pre-wedding photos from the session with our super fantabulous photographer Teness Herman. Teness managed to capture every moment so beautifully--each of her photos are packed with such emotion. Somehow she managed to get photos of all of our friends and family members that speak so much to who they each are. I don't mean to pull out the cheez whiz, but she really did made such a huge difference in our day.

Stay tuned for Part Two of my recap: The Ketubah, The Ceremony and the Par-tay!