Wedding heels: the verdict

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It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: which pair of shoes did Megan select for her wedding?

Pins and needles, I tell you. You’ve barely gotten any sleep, right? But after my original post with my three main choices for heels, I ordered the top two — Nos. 2 and 3 — and waited (im)patiently for them to arrive from Zappos. Once I’d ripped into that box, I nervously unwrapped each and began inspecting them. They both looked great.

Ordering “the perfect shoes” for our big day has been a source of anxiety. Like so many aspects of my attire, I want to look great but don’t want to be uncomfortable. Finding a red heel with a peep toe that wasn’t too high was my goal, and both of these shoes came through. But once I tucked my tootsies into each and walked the hallway in a circuit long enough to really befuddle my golden retriever, eyeballing my progress around the downstairs in very loud shoes, one pair was the clear choice.

So which was it?


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. . . pair No. 2!

While I love the look of the bows and the sheen of pair No. 3, my toes were squished in those babies. They have a higher heel — one that would put me at eye level with my fiance (weird!) — but, most critically, they were not easy to walk in. I didn’t feel stable in them — and as Spencer pointed out, I apparently didn’t look stable in them, either.


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On the contrary, the second pair are very sturdy; as I strutted around, I lacked the “newborn foal” wobbly legs associated with the bow heels. I do wear heels to work and am used to fancy shoes, but some are just better than others. With so many things being equal (price, color, style), I had to choose the pair that felt the most comfortable . . . and that was definitely pair No. 2.


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Done! Decision made! I love nipping my weird anxieties in the bud and just getting things done. I adore crossing wedding-related items off my list, especially when they’re things I’ve been worrying about, and always feel so great having just made up my mind.

Now to decide on jewelry . . .


State of the wedding

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Initials carved out of vintage books. Can there by anything cooler for a literature- and science-themed wedding?

As of tomorrow, we’re exactly four months from the big day. Items are being moved. A first song has been selected. Jewelry has been borrowed. I’m getting used to the “W” word — wife — and actually accidentally called Spencer my husband recently. Husband! Six months ago, I could barely say “fiance” without giggling. Though Spence and I had discussed marriage, obviously, I felt like daydreaming too much about being a fiancee myself would somehow jinx things.

Like they could be jinxed.

So: 123 days. I’m starting to get nervous, as expected — mostly about the logistics of coordinating so many people on such an important weekend. But I’m mostly excited. We’re more than halfway through the planning process . . . I mean, can you believe I got engaged more than seven months ago?! (Maybe you can. Sorry if I’ve been exceedingly annoying.) I knew the whole experience would fly by and . . . yes, it’s definitely flown.

Next on our giant, sparkly “To Do” list is to get our invitations addressed. They’re already stamped, both with the calligraphy address stamp and the postage stamps, but I haven’t been pushing hard to start addressing them with guests’ information because . . . I love mail. You know this about me. I’m really, truly looking forward to mailing these babies when my soon-to-be mother-in-law is in town next month (we’re even driving to a specially-named town because, you know, it’s the little things).

After the invitations are sent? Well, hopefully the RSVPs will pour in. I think I’ll feel calmer about the 220-plus invited guests when I have a better idea of who will actually be attending our nuptials. It’s hard to visualize everyone being at the same place at the same time, but that’s also the most exciting part! I’m enamored with the idea of my friends meeting my extended family and Spencer’s awesome family and everyone just hanging out and eating cupcakes together. That’s what life is really all about.

And I’ll totally be eating cupcakes too, y’all. No doubt about it.

Spence and I have been tackling various decor projects recently, which has been one of my favorite parts. Because we had 11 months to make decisions, we’ve been accumulating pieces — flasks, glassware, book-themed goods — over time. Those book letters at top are the latest acquisition. With my mom’s encouragement, I felt brave enough to turn the “S” from a textured purple to a rich red. As someone who admires craftiness and creativity but lacks the ability to bring her schemes to life, I’m so happy with how it turned out! And I know just where we’ll put them.

We have tons to do, no doubt. But as we get closer to both my sister’s wedding and mine, we’re also getting into the really fun, celebratory stuff. And I can’t wait.


Hopeful days

Window sunset


When Spencer bought his home two years ago this month, we began moving him piece by piece — bag by bag — until the rented home he shared with roommates morphed into his brand-new condo filled with all his belongings.

Even in the moment those hot June days, I was already hit with a wave of nostalgia. What’s the term for missing something that hasn’t even happened yet? I knew the place would never be that empty again. And in my still-sort-of-a-new-girlfriend-but-hopeful state, I couldn’t shake the feeling that his home would someday become our home.

As we inch closer and closer to that happening, I’m the one moving in shoe by shoe (literally) these days. The early evenings when we’d collapse on the living room floor are long gone, but last week still found us huddled around the open windows watching the end of a dissipating summer storm.

That was our entertainment in those early days: without a couch or TV or cable (eh, still no cable), we’d talk over cold sodas in newly-set-up camp chairs near the windows after all the work was done.

In the midst of wedding planning, moving and arranging a thousand other big and small upheavals, I needed to remember those simple, hopeful days.

That sunset was truly beautiful.


The big dress acquisition

The Dress


I had a vision.

Though I haven’t gone into wedding planning with too many preconceived notions (whatever my Pinterest board would suggest), I did know what sort of wedding dress I wanted. Watching countless episodes of “Say Yes To the Dress” and simply admiring others’ gowns from afar, I knew which trends I liked — and which made me cringe.

I’m a rather simple lady — with simple tastes. When others asked what sort of look I was going for, I answered the same way: something vintage-inspired, tea-length and fun. Something unique — something with character. I didn’t want anything strapless, gaudy or sparkly. No rhinestones. No mermaids. No long trains. It’s not a slight against anyone who likes those looks, of course; I just knew it wasn’t me. And you’re supposed to feel like yourself on your wedding day, right?

Right.

My decision to go dress shopping was a little spur-of-the-moment. I’d spent days pouring over styles from a designer I couldn’t afford, and was generally making myself anxious about the whole experience. I was worried I wouldn’t like the way I looked, would cringe at my reflection. I was worried I’d fall in love with a dress that would take a hammer to my budget — or worse, that I wouldn’t find anything at all.

Dresses don’t always bring out the best in people.

Scared I wouldn’t find what I was looking for at a local chain salon, I’d already contacted designers about custom-making a gown. (Crazy, I know.) But after my sister had success finding her dress a few weeks before, we returned to the same place “just to look.”

And I came home with a dress.

Well, metaphorically — that baby had to be ordered! But after trying on five gowns in varying shapes and styles, I knew the second one was It. That little number had many of the elements I was seeking, though with a few modifications . . . and I’d tell you what they are, but I can’t risk Spencer popping in here! I’m trying to keep the full details under wraps for as long as possible, though I am bursting with them.

What I can divulge? It is vintage-inspired, and it is tea-length. Those were my two biggest requirements. Though I did try on a long dress with gorgeous applique, I really couldn’t picture myself in a gown with a train. And it was heavy. I was tempted for a minute there — really tempted — but I couldn’t commit. The flowing dress just didn’t feel true to my vision.

And I have a vision.


Meg in veil


The wedding itself is taking shape. The hardest part has been combining all of our ideas, thoughts and inspirations into one cohesive plan. After settling on literature/science, the other elements have started falling into place. Spencer’s awesome cousin, Katie, one of my bridesmaids, is a talented artist . . . and she will be designing something so cool for us. We’ve met with other vendors in recent weeks, and will be speaking with our first potential officiant this weekend. It’s exciting and a teensy bit stressful . . . but mostly exciting! And since my wedding coordinator has also become a friend, Jen is helping me stay organized and calm.

Calm is good.

Though the dress was supposed to take months to arrive, I was called to pick it up this week. We ducked into the salon so I could try it on again — and I was relieved to discover I still loved it. It was strange to be there, standing barefoot in this gown — and to feel like “a bride” in the middle of my hometown. Everyone says that moment is one of the moments: the point at which you realize, Hey — I’m getting married.

That was true for me. Putting on a veil, tottering on too-high heels before a floor-length mirror . . . yes, I felt it. Felt that “bride” feeling, however we define it.

But the truth is that I’ve felt that “we’re getting married!” surge of excitement and adrenaline for months — and I feel it every time I look at my guy.

The pretty dress? Just the icing on our (wedding) cake.


P.S. Though I am planning on wearing red heels at the wedding, those heels are not my heels. So, you know, don’t get freaked about the bows.


Dresses and budgets and bookings

Dress shopping


The dress shopping has begun.

For my sister, anyway! I don’t know what my exact hang-up is, but I’m nervous about heading into a salon. Perhaps because I generally hate trying on clothes and only do it under duress (like if I’m shopping far from home with no option to return ill-fitting items). I also feel like the dress is such a big decision that I’d rather handle 2,456 of the vendor bookings and other little things before I wrap my head around making that huge choice.

Plus, I’m having a hard time finding styles I like. Though I haven’t been picky about too many things, the one aspect of the wedding I have visualized from the start was Spencer in a gray tux with a red tie and yours truly in a tea-length, lacy vintage-inspired dress. With red shoes. And red lipstick. And a birdcage veil.

It’s my requirement. My vision. The one thing that could possibly shove me into Bridezilla territory.

And my local options? Well, they’re limited. A popular chain store is the only place within a reasonable distance with prices I can actually afford, so I’ve been funneling my energy into perusing their inventory and not even considering dresses available elsewhere. But I don’t want strapless, don’t want a billowy ballgown. I detest rhinestones and sparkles, and I am — for all intents and purposes — a pretty simple lady.

I want something classic, elegant and unique. With lace. That’s tea-length.

Of course, I could show you photos from our big day in November where I am frolicking in a bedazzled ballgown, covered in glitter and wearing a tiara . . . because I’ve watched enough bridal reality shows to know that you just don’t know until you actually try these dresses on. I could slip into some satin confection and think, Hot darn, this is the one! It’s unlikely, you know, but I won’t stubbornly rule it out.

But as a bride on a budget (who isn’t?), I have to be careful — and thrifty — with my choice. I want what I want, of course, but I’ll decide I want something else if we’re stretching well into the four-figure area.

As anyone who has been subjected to wedding planning for five minutes can tell you, costs can quickly spiral out of control. Our initial budget was laughably tiny as soon as I began doing some research; I’ve never done so much math in my life. Every calculation was sending me closer and closer to a panic attack, but those initial days of anxiety — and uncertainty — have faded.

We have:

• booked the venue
• booked the caterer
• booked the photographer
• booked the videographer
• booked the DJ
• booked the pianist for the ceremony
• sent save-the-dates

So what’s next?

Oh . . . everything.


Dresses


All kidding aside, I think we’re doing well! It’s only February — and though the fall will be here in the drop of a leaf, I’m not feeling as crazed as I did a month ago. With my sister on track for her September nuptials, I’m tracing her footsteps to keep track of everything we need to decide — and when.

The baker is next. And Spence and I are totally saving our Weight Watchers points for that.

So yes: my sister and the wedding dress shopping. After a few hours and a half dozen styles, we had a winner! Though it was emotional being there as she transformed into “a bride,” I didn’t freak out as much as I expected. Partially because my family was there and I didn’t want to set off a chain reaction . . . but mostly because, as the months progress, I’m feeling more and more at peace with the fact that we’re both taking this huge step together.

My sister is my best friend. Though it’s sometimes hard for me to articulate, I feel a sense of both tremendous excitement and impending loss at the prospect of both of us tying the knot just five weeks apart.

But excitement usually wins out. And every day, I choose joy. And I know that, no matter what, my family will always be my family — just with two bonus gentlemen!

Plus, Spencer — my soul mate; my handsome, thoughtful guy — is working on the shelving for our combined shoe closet/workshop/clothes storage space as I type. No rhinestones necessary.


Getting ready to save the date

I’ve always been a paper person. Perhaps because I’m a writer, I consider having the “right” stationery to be crucial. I adore cards and address labels, thank-you notes and envelope seals; I love stamps and real mail, both sending and receiving, and open physical letters slowly to absorb every handwritten word. When readers send mail, I choose the perfect stock on which to reply. It’s a way of life.

Wedding planning has knocked my obsession with paper goods up +1,346,878 percent. After getting engaged, one of my first projects was researching save-the-date cards. My mom has proclaimed save-the-dates — postcards, magnets, bookmarks — to be a new phenomenon, though they seem to trickle into my mailbox fairly often. “We never had anything like that when we were getting married,” she says.

I think they serve a practical purpose. With my sister and I both tying the knot within five weeks of each other (!), we’re sending our save-the-dates at the same time to give family and friends ample notice of two weddings happening this fall. We recognize that out-of-town family might not be able to make both celebrations, and this gives them a chance to plan ahead. The save-the-date is a formal announcement — better than, say, reading it on Facebook — and I like that it can be tucked on a fridge or memo board.

And you know I have to have postcards. Given that I constantly have mail zinging around the world via Postcrossing, this surprises no one. My coworkers tease me about how often I go to the post office (which, to be fair, is every other day), calling me “The Post Office Queen.” I’m the annoying person holding up the line while debating the merits of various stamp designs.

In short, paper is important to me. And that’s what led me to Wedding Paper Divas.


Simplified Deco
[Not us. Though I do love her lipstick.]

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Artistic Answer


I’m all about class, polish and sophistication — basically everything I’m not in real life! Heh, kidding. But Wedding Paper Divas offers more than 1,000 designs for save-the-date postcards — and almost 800 for invitations. I’m having a bear of a time narrowing down my choices for invitations, y’all . . . and the fact that I can customize WPD’s products plays a large role in that.

They’re not paying me to say that. It’s just true.

If you’re in the market, I definitely recommend checking out their site. The Knot recommends sending save-the-dates at least six months in advance, and getting your wedding invitations mailed at the three-month mark. I have plenty of time before I need to start addressing those bad boys, but I’m not one to mess around — when stationery is involved, anyway.

And now I can go hold everyone up at the post office buying wedding stamps.

Can’t wait!

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Where do you stand on save-the-dates? Did you send them? Do you like them? Were they popular as you planned your wedding?


First bridal show — as a bride

Heart wreathPre-engagement, my sister and I accompanied a newly-engaged friend to a wedding event at a lovingly-restored barn. It was a cool October evening, gorgeous and ripe with the colors of fall. Spencer and I had just looked at rings for the first time, but hadn’t yet told a soul. When Bethany told us she was planning to go, Katie and I tagged along — “for fun.” Though I hoped it wouldn’t be long before I rocked my own piece of new jewelry.

That wedding show was so much fun — and that’s actually how we found our photographers. I was so impressed with their work that I immediately bookmarked their site, anxious to contact them as soon as Spencer proposed. (And I totally did.) Beyond just having a good time at that initial event, we met local vendors and absorbed information on the whole event-planning process. Though I’ve watched my share of “Say Yes To the Dress” and “Four Weddings,” I had no idea what the real-deal would be like.

I’m slowly figuring it out.

Last weekend found us back at my own wedding venue for my second bridal show — and first as an actual bride. As we still need quite a few vendors to fill out our “team,” I enjoyed speaking with deejays and florists, bakers and travel agents. I found a few more folks to help round out our big day, including a lovely pianist, and I actually teared up listening to her music samples.

Stuff gets real when you hear “Canon in D,” my friends.

Of course, navigating all the cake samples was a potential minefield for yours truly — what with my recent dietary changes. I’m proud to say I had one baby cupcake . . . and that is all. And to my delight, it wasn’t the “gateway food” Spencer teased it would be. Two weeks into my get-healthy efforts, I find myself craving less and less of the goodies I once enjoyed . . . because I’m focused on the end-goal: looking and feeling better. While the cake samples and crab dip and fancy drinks looked tasty, I didn’t crave them — and I walked right by them. I call that progress.

Oh! Oh! And in the most exciting news of all, I won a door prize: signature cocktails for my guests! Which is really awesome because, you know, I didn’t know how we were affording alcohol. The budget has been interesting . . . and I felt okay about it until the idea of alcohol was introduced. As someone who rarely drinks, spending thousands on booze was enough to make me lose my lunch. We recognized that a dry wedding wasn’t a possibility, though, and were trying to figure out how to get around that . . . when I won the prize. So YAY! No need to for everyone to bring their own flasks!

And now, to the business of actually booking these fine folks . . .


Ceremony site

Cake

Event setup