Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding Fashion (407 Days to Go)

Because let's face it--this is all that really matters today when it comes to the topic of weddings.  
Already 2 billion people have watched footage.  Yes, 1/3 of the world population.

Kate's dress was of course amazing.  I've been hearing the word "understated" tossed around quite a bit but I'd like to think that the Duchess is merely sensible, classy, and my favorite: timeless.  The simplicity will never cause no one to ever look back and think "What was she thinking?!"  Because if we're all honest with ourselves, that's what we'd say about Princess Diana's poofy shoulders.  But that's something we'd never say of Princess Grace Kelly.  I feel like after half a century we'll have a truely classy princess once again.

As customary, she had a long train, but not so long that it required a troop of girl scouts to carry it--only her sister Pippa.  And of course Pippa looked absolutely lovely too in her thematically matching Alexander McQueen dress. 

I loved the lace bodice that Kate wore in order to meet the Abbey's requirements.  It was subtle and beautiful. Sigh.  And can we talk about the hair?  Half-up, half-down in an effort to exhibit her own style as well as appease her new royal fam.  I don't envy her the sacrifices she has to make for the sake of appearances and tradition.  But she is certainly doing a fantastic job of making the best of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Budget (408 Days to Go)

So with the Royal wedding less than 24 hours away and trying to work out my own wedding budget, it made me wonder what exactly went into the royal budget and how much different it was from the average American wedding cost.  Someone else put together a very, very basic breakdown of cost by comparing the royal wedding, to Chelsea Clinton's wedding, to the average American wedding. 

So for the overview budget, Kate Middleton and Prince William will have spent a whopping $32 million.  To put this into some more perspective, the Clintons dropped only a tenth of that amount on their own "princess" and in America, the typical "Daddy's girl princess" spends approximately $27,000--less than one hundredth of the British royal wedding's cost.  Already, I'm starting to feel like I'm not prepared to spend enough on my own wedding.

Going a little more in depth, next we'll look at the cost of the cake.  Around Pittsburgh, prices tend to run from $1.50 to $3.00 a slice for some really impressive looking and tasting cakes.  So, going with the highest price, and my relatively large guest list (250 people), I'd be looking at paying around $750.  Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.  This is actually considered over the average price for a wedding cake in the U.S.  So I'll definitely keep looking to find a cake a little cheaper.  The Royals will be dropping somewhere around $80,000.  Divide that amongst the 300 guests and you're looking at $266 slices of cake.  Yikes!  That better be the most incredibly moist and delicious cake ever.

Kate Middleton's dress will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $434,000.  The average American "princess" will spend just a little over $1000.  I personally spent just under $700 on mine (after taxes) and I'm darn proud of that because I managed to get a designer gown.  I can only imagine what the average price will be of the royal wedding knock-off dresses that we can expect to start seeing in troves next month.

An astounding $800,000 will be spent on just the flowers for the big day.  This is just shy of half of what was spent for Chelsea Clinton's wedding.  But the average American bride will spend a little less than $2000 for her flowers.  It makes me wonder what the exact price of Kate's bouquet (which will be left on the tomb of the unknown soldier) will be.  I'm planning to try and spend not a penny more than $100 for my own bouquet if at all possible.

The engagement ring actually falls significantly less than an American celebrity's ring.  Chelsea Clinton's engagement ring cost a whopping $1 million dollars whereas Diana's ring which was passed on to Kate is valued at $136,000.  Still, this is a lot more than the average American's engagement ring which clocks in somewhere around $5000.  Out of respect for Jeff, I won't reveal how much mine is worth.  But for most of us girls, we care more about the thought our men put into the ring than how much it cost.  It means so much to me that Jeff had mine specially designed and kept in mind that I wanted a flat ring.

Next up are the wedding favors.  There's no exact price that's been listed, but the customized scarves that will be given out to the guests are made by a company, Centrex of Ludhiana, India, that at the high end makes scarves valued at 300 pounds (~$500).  Since these are custom scarves which will be offered in three different color schemes, I feel like this is probably a safe bet on the pricing.  Considering that most American brides aim to spend as little as possible on their favors, I'd say that this is at least a hundred times more than the average favor price.  In fact, I'm having my mom crochet small seashells as favors for minimal cost (before the manual labor of course) and having a photobooth with the money saved on favors.

But all of these costs broken down don't even come close to the cost on the British economy.  The royal wedding will more or less shut down the country for a day.  Estimates have been made that the national holiday could cost the economy $10 billion (which is the low estimate; the high estimate being $50 billion). Impressive considering that the average American wedding does nothing but boost local economies by putting vendors and their employees to work.  That and our guests are so wide spread throughout the region and businesses that even if they need to take a day or two off to attend the wedding (or merely recover from their hangover) it would do no great harm to the economy.  Granted, they have also calculated how much the wedding will help the economy with a surplus of around $1.5 billion from the sales of memorabilia.

So the next time that you and your family or fiance get into a fight over the wedding budget, try and keep in mind that it could be worse--or better depending on how you want to think about it. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Starting a New Career (409 Days to Go)

So I can officially announce that I've gotten a new job.  I received the offer by phone last Thursday and the offer packet in the mail this afternoon.  I gave my two weeks notice to my supervisors yesterday with a resignation letter and to the best of my ability, an in-person chat as well.  My middle supervisor was more or less a little shocked (that I spoke to him first) and wished me the best and gave me some words of warning about ever wanting to move up into management type positions.  All I could do was arch an eyebrow and say that I'd keep it in mind.  Personally I find my ambitions to have the option to move up into management to be healthy.

My direct supervisor didn't get to work until late (this is actually a norm for him and part of the reason I'm moving on) so therefore I didn't get to tell him until later.  When I did speak to him, he hadn't even noticed the e-mail dangling at the top of his inbox titled "Resignation" but instead talked to me for over an hour about the results I'd e-mailed him late last Friday and then about what work was ahead for the next several months.  I sort of just "uh-huh"-ed my way through the conversation without ever getting a word in edgewise to mention I was quitting.  When I did finally tell him, it was sort of like a little "oh" and that was about all.  Then a few questions about where I was going to be working now.

I still haven't told my head supervisor.  That'll be later this morning.  That's when all of the shit hits the fan if you will.  I'll be informing him of exactly why I sought out new employment elsewhere because of my direct supervisor being a jerk to put it mildly.  All of my coworkers have begged and made me promise that I will do this today.  That in itself should tell you that his "management skills" are a concern.  The past two days I've been at work very late because when I gave my two weeks notice it was apparently waving the flag that said give me two months worth of work to do and don't give me time to catch up on paperwork that has to be done.

Apparently in the sciences, it's not often that they have a technician who actually leaves with things in order (let alone wanting to leave things in order).  So I guess my supervisor better get used to the idea that he's going to owe me some major overtime in order to insure that everything that I used to do is in order and ready to be handed over to one of my coworkers.  I'm crossing my fingers that this week will be the last for experiments and they'll leave me an entire week for just paperwork and bureaucracy.  I'm sure I'm being way to optimistic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Visiting Succop Conservancy (410 Days to Go)

On Saturday my FMIL and I headed to Butler County Community College's Succop Concervancy.  If I actually book this as my venue I'm going to have to shorten this somehow for the invitations.  That is a mouthful!  But it's looking relatively unlikely because they're already booked for the date that Jeff and I chose and we would have to postpone the wedding by at least a few months.

Succop is a beautiful location that would be appropriate for ~150 guests.  Their outdoor event pavillion has ceiling fans, space heaters, and drop sides available in order to stay off the weather should it decide to be unwilling to behave.  (See below for photos of these amenities) I can just imagine how pretty it would be as the sun began to set and it was completely covered in twinkly lights.  The only downside is that there is no built in dance floor--you would have to rent one.  The pavilion is located extraordinarily conveniently between two of the possible ceremony sites and the house.  A path leads from the kitchen door of the house to the pavilion for the catering staff's ease.  Which by the way there is only one available caterer for this venue, however their food is actually very good.  Also very near by is a pond which has a small peninsula.

As I mentioned before, there are two locations that are ideal for the actual wedding ceremony.  The first is the brick path right in front of the house.  The bridal party would all enter the aisle through the front door and walk straight out along the brick path which would serve as the aisle.  The chairs would be set up along the blacktop.  They have an awning that they can set up in the middle of the path to serve as the altar and be decorated.  It's a very scenic location and allows an outdoor ceremony that is very classy and elegant--just in case you're not into the down-to-earth setting of an herb garden.

The herb garden was the other setting that was very nice.  They have an awning that is permanently affixed there and is set at the end of an aisle that goes between the garden sections.  If I were to get married here, this is the setting I'd choose.  I even scoped it out that you could move from the house (kitchen door) around back through a back parking lot and around a structure.  Sounds silly, but if you're like me, you don't want everyone to be watching you slowly approach the ceremony from what feels like a million miles away.  I'd rather go a little out of my way in order to achieve a grand entrance.

But directly behind herb garden is the restrooms.  Don't panic.  They are not blatantly labeled as bathrooms.  That sign above the door simply says "Herb Garden".  But the reason I'm showing you this is because as I was saying earlier, the way you would probably make your entrance is by coming from behind this building.  And it's also very conveniently located to the pavilion.  There are only two bathrooms, but they're at least of a somewhat decent size (meaning there's room in there for both you and the MOH who needs to hold your dress up.

Going back to the house from the reception pavilion, there's a cute little patio behind the house.  There's only room for two tables, but depending on the number of people you have, it'd be a cute little place to hav brunch or tea before you start getting ready and dressed.  But it is one of the many places in and around the house that would make for beautiful photo opportunities.  The house is just as pretty inside as the grounds surrounding.  In fact, that was one of my favorite parts about the venue.  They had a really nice set up upstairs for dressing.  The bride and groom each had their own side which included two rooms.  The bride's side was a little more done up and had a much larger bathroom, but let's face it, what do the men care?  Also, there was a door that insured no peeking.  I liked the close proximity though because for us, we'll only have one photographer.  So it's nice to know they'd be able to easily move back and forth to take photos in both "camps."

I included all the other photos that I took that day so that you can get a better feel for how the Succop looks.  Like I said, there are many beautiful places around the grounds in order to take advantage of for photos and for your guests to wander during the cocktail hour.
Ceiling fans in the pavilion

Drop cloth walls to protect you and your guests from inclimate weather.

The path from the kitchen to the pavilion.

Standing in front of the bathrooms, and looking from the herb garden to the pavilion.
Walking out onto the peninsula in the middle of the pond.

Nearby walking paths

The park bench out on the peninsula

From the park bench looking back at the herb garden.

The barn located behind the house and pavilion.

From the pavilion path looking at the kitchen end of the house.

The bridal bathroom

The groom's changing rooms

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Showers (411 Days to Go)

So yesterday was Easter.  And there were random showers throughout the day.  Luckily nothing quite like what they'd called for on the weather reports that I'd read.  Especially since my eldest niece was given the task of seeking out camouflaged eggs out of doors.  The rest of the children had it easy finding brightly colored eggs inside out of the rain.  The girls were all very excited and very pleased with everything they got for Easter.  Apparently the bunny had been very kind indeed to them.  Granted, the bunny had indicated to Jeff and I that a kite would be a good gift for Breanne and a "laptop" for Mackenzie would tickle the little girl.  Mackenzie is always trying to play with her pappy's laptop so we figured she'd want one of her own.  It's aimed at girls older than her and has educational aspects, but for now she's happy to just hit buttons and make stuff happen on the screen, whether or not she understands it.

If only those showers coming down from the sky would have been the only damper on the day for Jeff and I.  Unfortunately, we were also struck by the misfortune that the shower in our apartment now has a cracked floor which is causing an incredibly large amount of leaking into the shop below us.  In short, this means that we are without a shower and will be until we can buy an entirely new shower surround.  We went this weekend and looked at Home Depot and are considering buying a corner unit because it would make our teeny tiny bathroom feel a little more open and we would be able to install some shelving in order to create ourselves a place for our linens.  I'm extremely in favor of anything that will make our bathroom feel larger considering that since I've moved in, all of my makeup, hair accessories, and anything else cosmetic has been in a large Rubbermaid bin that has gone completely untouched because there's nowhere to put it.

We've also been coming to the conclusion lately that there is no way we'll ever be able to afford to move out of our apartment--for at least three years.  This has caused me incredible amounts of stress.  In the months that I've lived here, it's never really felt like home.  I've been living out of boxes to some degree and have never been able to establish an area to be a workspace for sewing, scrapbooking, or whatever.  And with the wedding coming up, this essentially translates into me having no place whatsoever for me to work on things such as putting together save-the-dates or invitations or favors.  So now we've decided that it's time to turn the attic upstairs into a liveable space.  Essentially right now it has holes in the floor and looks exactly as it did two days after it was burned out many years ago.  When Jeff and his parents fixed up the apartment, they'd never bothered really with the attic.  So now we have to tackle that as a project as well.  So we're basically going to end up investing a decent amount of money into remodeling our bathroom and attic just to make our place liveable for the sort-of short term instead of being able to save the money towards a down payment on a house.  Essentially we're in a Catch 22 situation.  A little amusing considering that Catch 22 is Jeff's favorite book.

It's been another one of those incredibly stressful weekends.  I keep hoping that something will give (aside from me) but it seems as though luck is not all that much in my favor.  Jeff keeps telling me to not feel so responsible for us, but it's hard not to when I know that I should be much better off career wise and I just can't seem to get there.  Everyone keeps telling me that it will all come in time, but I feel as though I'm not asking for too much to be able to afford to buy a house especially when I have a masters degree.  Instead, I have the debts belonging to that degree and the salary belonging to a lucky high school dropout.  I did get a job offer from that interview I had last week, but the offer is incredibly low.  I now have to wait until I can review the offer packet and see if I can somehow negotiate a better offer.  What makes it more stressful and frustrating though is that I can't really turn down the job either.  There aren't other jobs available and I can't stay where I'm at either.  Yet another one of those incredibly frustrating Catch 22s.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Drive-In Date Night (413 Days to Go)

So yesterday at work I got the idea that we should make the best of all this rain that we've been getting in Pittsburgh.  Despite the fact that I had not had time to track down the original Scream movies and have a marathon at home, I suggested that we go out to the Dependable Drive-In and see Scream 4 and what would turn into being a big mistake since it was followed by Insidious.  It's a long story but basically after seeing Paranormal Activity with Jeff, he decided to screw with me by pretending to be possessed in the same manner.

We even had an old
school cooler to use
Anyway, back to date night.  I packed up a picnic dinner into an old hand-me-down cooler, popped some popcorn, and filled the back of Jeff's truck with comforters, blankets and pillows.  My goal was to make the night feel like we were back in the 70s or 80s watching one of the classic horror films up there on the big screen.  We spent the night lying in the back of his truck, snacking our way through two thrillers and "enjoying" the extra ambiance of the pouring down rain.  It was the perfect cheap date night.  The only real cost was the admission to the drive-in which is only $6.50/person.  Cheaper than a regular movie admission, and almost as cheap as the Tuesday night prices--but we got to see two movies for that price.

It's tough when you're trying to keep a relationship lively but you're hindered by a tight budget.  But a little creativity and the ability to more or less swear off expensive restaurants can make it possible.   I've even been toying with the idea of geocaching.  But that would require time we don't exactly have right now.  However it sounds really interesting.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest List Problems Resolved? (414 Days to Go)

So Jeff and I came to an agreement on how to divide up the guest list.  I'm extremely grateful that he understood where I was coming from in that my mom and I needed to be guaranteed that we could invite a certain number at bare minimum.

It's amazing to me when I read all these posts and information provided on the internet and in books about how people traditionally split a guest list.  So many people go with 25/50/25 or 33/33/33--or should I say that they all seem to recommend that split.  I'm beginning to chalk those numbers up towards the top of my list for pretty bad wedding advice.

What I couldn't understand is why when Jeff and I are paying for the wedding was it assumed that the split should be made so unevenly?  I'm sure there are always exceptions, especially since these aren't rules, just guidelines.  But even when a family is relatively lopsided in size, there should be some give more so towards even than in the other direction.  In the end Jeff and I did go with our split of 20/45/35 in order to try and balance between the sizes of families but also to make sure that our own friends are invited as well.  I think once it was out of the heat of the moment, he realized that his friends were also being pushed off the guest list too.

So how does one come up with the right balance for the guest list?  There are limitations made by the venue.  So my first piece of advice to other brides-to-be would be to get the venue booked first.  And if you can't get enough peace from the in-laws jockeying for guest list dominance before the venue is booked, get an idea of how large a venue you're able to a) find and b) afford.  For Jeff and I, it looks like we'll find something around 200.  But based on location and budgets, this will vary quite a bit.  Next we looked at the numbers that each of our parents was giving us and the number of friends we wanted to invite.  Then we started to get realistic for our parents.  Sounds a little cruel, right?  Well, you have to be.  Sorry, in-laws! Jeff's parents were way over and my mom was slightly undershooting just to cover the "must haves".  I then came up with a split that would give his parents a slight majority to cover their larger family, gave my mom just enough to cover the must haves in our family, and trimmed Jeff and I as much as I dared considering our large number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.  In coming up with our split I made sure that everyone had enough for the "must haves" but that myself and Jeff's parents both had to start making some choices about who needed to get shifted to a "B-list".  The B-list is not the abyss of the guest list.  Essentially the plan is to send out invitations to the "A-list" or the "must haves" and set a RSVP reply date far in advance of the caterer's final count deadline.  Once some people begin to RSVP that they cannot make it is when you start sending out the invitations to the B-list.  Odds are very likely at least in my case that most if not all of the B-list (as long as it doesn't get any more out of control) will end up receiving an invitation.  However, this does make sure that Murphy's Law does not go into effect where I end up with fifty more guests at my wedding than I have food or seats for.

Granted, it'll be about 6-9 months before I know whether or not my crazy idea of establishing a rule will actually work to save my sanity.  In all likeliness it will result in me scrambling to make more invitations than I thought I needed and trying to find more supplies and time as it comes down to the wire.  But I'm hoping that at least in the meantime that it will end a lot of arguments over who deserves to control the guest list.  By creating a split, I wash my hands of everyone else's guest lists.  Essentially, I don't tell them who to invite, and they don't tell me who I can invite.  It's everyone's responsibility to prioritize their own lists and hand them over with updated mailing addresses to me by fall so that I can start to send out save the dates to the A-lists.  I've already made the sworn promise that going over on numbers will result in me whacking names from the list starting at the bottom.  For instance, if my mom gives me a list of 45 rather than 40, I drop the last five people no matter how awkwardly I split up the Yoder family.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Designing Your Own Coat of Arms (415 Days to Go)

Kate Middleton's
Coat of Arms Courtesy of
the College of Arms
Just in time for the wedding, Kate Middleton received a customized Coat of Arms in order for her to be properly heralded in as the new princess of England.  Heraldry is an ancient tradition in England, dating back to the 12th century as a means of identifying knights as they rode into either battle or tournaments.  Here in America, we're most likely to recognize a coat of arms from A Knight's Tale or the Tudors.  But that doesn't mean that we Americans don't have some roots in English or Celtic traditions.

I myself am 3/4 Irish, my fiance is 3/4 Scottish.  So after reading about Kate Middleton's new coat of arms, I was intrigued.

The coat of arms is passed down through the male descendants.  What this quickly informs me is that I do not possess a coat of arms and neither does Jeff since it is our father's side of the families that are of different heritages.  Essentially, my maiden name is passed down from a very distant English and his surname is from a very recent Italian heritage.  But, a coat of arms can be newly acquired for those of professional or educational standings that merit a coat.  Most of the more recently awarded coat of arms from the College of Arms were to professors.

But there are many Irish-Americans, Scotch-Americans and Brit-Americans out there who probably don't have the means to acquire a formal coat of arms like Kate Middleton.  But that doesn't mean that you couldn't design one that is meaningful to you and your future spouse to use as a way to share both heritage and your personalities at the wedding.

So, if you're going to make your own coat of arms for you and your future spouse, to be handed down to your male heirs, you'll first need to understand the anatomy of the coat of arms and crest.  The one pictured to the right is from the College of Arms and does a fantastic job of showing all the possible parts to be included.  As you can already tell, Kate Middleton's coat of arms is pretty simplistic by comparison.  This is partially due to the fact that she is a woman and thus she would have no helm or crest--just the blue ribbon mantling to represent that she is a single woman.

The crest is typically an animal of some kind and varies from birds and dogs to goats and unicorns.  There are pretty much no limitations on the possibilities for a crest.   

The actual coat of arms is the shield and this can take on any variety of different patterns.  There doesn't have to an animal on the shield, as you can see above on Kate Middleton's they use the acorn to represent the trees surrounding the family's home: the Oak.  They also make use of the chevron in order to create a bold swatch of color.  For Kate Middleton, this represents her mother's maiden name: Goldsmith.

The motto scroll typically bears either a short phrase or a set of words that are symbolic to the family.  Marrying a marine?  Consider "Semper Fi".  Perhaps you would want to use your alma mater's motto?  For me it would be "Spiritus Est Qui Vivificat".  Again, there is no right or wrong choice.

The supporters, like the crest, are typically animals, but do not have to be.  I have seen coats of arms that were born up by olive branches or varying trees.  It's all about choosing something that is significant to you.

So, if you're in the market to make your own coat of arms and crest, be creative and pick something meaningful to you and your love.  Don't forget to consider your families and their traditions.  But if you need some help, there are some websites that provide basic software for creating a coat of arms.
Make Your Coat of Arms

Just to give you an idea, I played around with one of the sites and came up with the coat of arms you see to your left.  I picked a Sea-Horse because Jeff is my fish out of water; the white roses for love and faith; the crescent because Jeff is a second child; the trefoil because of my Irish heritage; the snake for wisdom; and the blue and green background for loyalty, specifically in love.  To find out the meanings of other symbols, you should check out Fleur-de-lis Designs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Allergies, blech (416 Days to Go)

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. My allergies have gone completely haywire on me.  Add onto that a bucket of wedding related stress and you have a maelstrom better known as the common cold with a side of vengeance.

Beaver County Times
So I eventually found the photo that the photographer took while at the Penguins game Saturday night.  Surprisingly I'm not disappointed in how my hair looks.  Perhaps I should be photographed from behind more often.  The poster has been tucked away in our basement to be saved for another day. Granted, if the weather keeps up what it's been doing yesterday and today, I'm not sure we'll be going out to the game Saturday.  Or hiding Easter eggs for the nieces either.  But rain is a way of life in Pittsburgh.  You either get used to it or you go crazy.

Saturday, I taught my four students at Jo Ann's.  We finally found a time that worked for everyone's crazy schedule.  It was highly entertaining working with all of them.  But that's usually what you get from two sisters and their two daughters.  There was a lot of teasing flying around the table.

After both Jeff and I were done with work, we went to his parents' house for dinner.  And that's pretty much when and where the weekend started to meltdown for me.  I'm starting to reach a high level of frustration having to do with the wedding.  So it doesn't help that nearly every time we go to visit them, they want an update or to discuss the wedding in some form.  So, Jeff and I showed them the venues we plan to look at in early May.  Which then led to a discussion of the guest list since the venue will determine the max number of guests.  Jeff and I are trying to find some place that's decently large but finding a venue to hold more than 200 is frustrating and often expensive.  I did not cope well at all with Jeff and his father both joking around saying that we'll just send out 500 invitations and see what happens.  Top that off with Jeff's mom insisting that there are a minimum of 150 people from their family (not including any family friends) who just have to be invited.  No matter how much I told them it had to be prioritized and brought down, I kept being told that I was wrong that people wouldn't come and I should relax.  I did the opposite.  I started to cry.  Yep.  I started to bawl like a baby right at the dining room table and ran away.

I still don't think Jeff quite understands how much stress I'm under.  I'm constantly being told to just do it myself, and yet, I'm also constantly told that my best isn't right or good enough.  That and I don't like the idea of someone telling me (repeatedly) that Jeff's family is more important as far as getting invited than my family or friends.  Just because his family is larger, doesn't make it more important.  It just means they need to prioritize a little more and I'm sure that they'll understand that we have both budget and seating constraints.  But I can't start cutting my portion of the guest list back down to just my mom and grandma.  Heck, just to invite our bridesmaids, groomsmen and their dates will be 24 guests.

So yesterday, I made a proposal to Jeff about setting the division of guests into stone.  My initial proposal being if there are hypothetically 200 seats available, his parents get 70, my mom gets 40, he and I split the remaining 90.  This means that he and I each get 45.  From our 45 gets subtracted 12 each for our respective members of the bridal party and their guests.  That means we each only have 33 guests to choose ourselves.  So, if the parents have too many guests, they go to their respective child and ask to use some of our remaining 33 spaces.  If we use them, too bad, so sad.  Re-prioritize and give me a B-list for when we start getting some "no"s back on the RSVPs.  

I feel like this is the only way to be fair.  That way my mom has a fair chance of getting to invite family and friends and so do I without having to feel pressured.  Although, right now, bullied feels like a more appropriate term whether or not that's Jeff's parents intention.  I'm fairly certain that it isn't their intention to bully me, but I'm under way too much stress right now to feel differently.  I mean, at one point my FMIL actually told me that my friends from work didn't matter because as soon as I got a new job they wouldn't care about me anymore.  Um, didn't I just spend Friday night hanging out with one of them?  Yeah...  Didn't one of them convince me to get on Match to meet Jeff?  Yeah...  My friends from work are my friends. Period.  Just as my friends from college are my friends.  They've been there fore me quite often more so than my own family.  Like hell they don't get invited.

Am I slightly crazy for trying to get the numbers broken down over a year in advance and set into stone?  Perhaps.  But I'd like to think that if Jeff and I agree on a rule, that it will end a lot of these stress inducing conversations about who deserves to be at Jeff and I's wedding.  Because in all seriousness, I'm ready to call the whole thing off if things don't start to get better soon.  No I don't mean leaving Jeff.  No I don't mean getting eloped.  

Speaking of which, I'd be one dead girl if I eloped.  My eldest cousin did that and she was nearly murdered and she's the "perfect one".  Being the youngest, I have no excuse of "I didn't know it was taboo" because I have very clearly gotten the imagery of me with knives impaling my chest if I elope or have a destination wedding in which my family would not be able to attend.  I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be a better picture if I have the wedding nearby and still don't invite my family simply because there "isn't room" after Jeff's family fills the guest list.  I just don't think that's going to cut it with them.

But anyway, I'm about ready to settle in for a lifetime engagement if this is what wedding planning is going to be cracked up to be for the next 416 days.  Already my immune system has thrown in the towel.  What more do they want from me?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Last Night at the Pens Game (420 Days to Go)

The Bingo Game's Ready to Go!
So last night, Jeff and I went watch Mario's Big Screen outside the Igloo.  One of my coworkers and I went down early and saved a section of blacktop to use for our poster making and also for a small group of our chairs.  Kiss was giving away tickets for the best poster, so my coworker and I decided to enter.  Well, unfortunately, the contest started only mere minutes after we got there so, we couldn't enter.  However, we finished up and polished one of the posters in order to take it with us for the game next Saturday.  I'm kind of glad I kept working on it too because a reporter from the Beaver County Times came over and was taking pictures of my coworker and I as we finished it up.  So, we might end up making the paper tomorrow morning.  But the odds don't look that good since the Pens did lose.  That was probably the only downer for last night.

Jeff was able to make it with plenty of time and even helped me walk down to Milano's and pick up pizza and drinks for the group.  He's even showing a little more mobility in his wrist.  We were even able to grab a couple of white out towels that we getting passed around and enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided we needed to come back for any weekend games that we could.  So, since we're now guaranteed a game 5 on Saturday night, we'll be headed out to go see that on Mario's Big Screen, too.  We're even going to see if we can manage to get a couch to take next time.

After the game though we decided to see if we could find out where the players did signings on the way out of the arena.  Let's put it this way, we found where the players do exit the arena, however it is not accessible to the public at all.  In short, the Penguins no longer sign any autographs after games.  We were no so kindly escorted out of that area after some astonished security guard found us and asked how we got there.  Apparently she did not appreciate my blunt but accurate response of "we walked."  Perhaps she thought that we'd propelled down with climbing gear, I don't know.


Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Friday, Friday! (421 Days to Go)

Just in case you haven't heard, It's Friday!  I am in no way a fan of Rebecca Black, but if I have to be subjected to it on every local radio station as I drive to work, I figure you might as well get a small dose too.

So, wish me luck as I have my job interview this morning.  Hopefully it goes well.

But just in case I need cheering up later, Jeff and I are going to be in the Mellon Arena lot watching game 2 of the Penguins playoffs on the jumbotron.  We'll be the crazy couple screaming the loudest (I'll be making up for whatever volume Jeff is lacking much like I did when we went to a game in person last year).  I'll also be going with one of the girls from work and the two of us will be hanging out saving our "turf" until her friend and Jeff can join us after they get done with their respective jobs.  And after Wednesday night's nail biter (at least the first two periods), it should make for a great game tonight.

I've been keeping myself busy.  The past two nights were spent studying up and getting ready for the interview today.  I attempted to make Jeff fulfill his promise to be my personal wedding assistant by sending e-mails to venues requesting an appointment for May 1st.  He lucked out on Wednesday night because our internet connection was on the fritz.

Aside from that, work has been keeping me for crazy hours.  Wednesday night I didn't even get to leave until 7 o'clock.  I guess that more than makes up for the extra hour I took at lunch to deal with the bank, but it certainly makes for an incredibly long day.  And after that, I'd had to meet Jeff for the Steel City Dive Club's meeting at Eat n' Park.  That turned into the most relaxing hour I'd had the entire day.

Oh, and I've decided to open a shop on Cafe Press.  I was inspired by one of the auxillary members for the fire department who wore a t-shirt that had the drink name on the front and had the recipe on the back.  It was a little "Plain Jane" (aka, non-amusing cocktail name) and the recipe was for a drink I'd never heard of nor could imagine ever ordering but it did start my wheels turning.  There are so many crazily named drinks out there that taste great, and yet, anytime I go to a bar and try to order one, the bartender looks at me like I'm nuts.  Thus, the start of Mixers R' Us.  I even have a design for the "Blushing Bride".  I'm slowly adding new pieces of inventory and different designs.  Are there any drinks that you can think of that would be fun?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Joint Banking is the Solution? (422 Days to Go)

So, Tuesday night as usual was our date night.  We went out for Mexican food, discussed the venues in Westmoreland County that we liked and then did our grocery shopping for the month.  Giant Eagle was offering bonus fuel perks on all of their gift cards so we decided to stock up for future dinners out and some summer repair projects we've been planning or might need unexpectedly.  We decided that I would pay for the gift cards since I wasn't the one who'd just broken my wrist and was now broke.  Well, when I went to pay with my debit card, it was declined.  We thought it was a mistake since there is a relatively large balance in my account thanks to my tax return and asked the cashier to try again.  Declined again.

By now I was flustered, mouth agape, and turning bright pink.  I sheepishly dug out my credit card while the cashier gave me an annoyed expression and I did everything in my power to ignore the customers in line behind me.  My credit line isn't very big on that card, my only credit card, and I was cringing at the thought that it was being depleted so badly.  Never mind the fact that I no longer earned any points for the purchase I was trying to make.  Yes, I have the only credit card in America that doesn't have some kind of points.  But I don't like having credit cards because I have enough debt thanks to college.

Immediately after exiting the store, I started dialing the customer service line while using Jeff's phone to check my bank account's activity and balance to make sure nothing funny was up.  I was on hold for 30 minutes before my phone acted up and I accidentally disconnected on my end.  I tried again and was on hold for another 30 minutes without ever getting hold of a person before we were sitting down in the movie theater and had to disconnect.  Oh, and my card was also denied for the measly $10.50 it cost for our movie tickets.  By now I was furious.

Well, yesterday morning the bank finally decided to call me and ask if I had attempted to spend money at the Market District in Robinson.  I emphasized that attempt was the right verbage to use and demanded to know why my card had been shut off without receiving this phone call immediately following the act as was stated in their bank policy.  I was not given an answer.  I demanded a supervisor and got one.  She wouldn't give me an answer either.  I got transferred, spoke to that person barely long enough to confirm my account and was disconnected.  Take me from furious to enraged x 10.  Luckily, I had grabbed some cash from the house to pay for lunch out for a coworker's birthday and immediately following lunch, I walked into a local branch and demanded to speak to the manager.  He took me back to his office, had my card turned back on and tried to find out why the card had been turned off without calling me for 13 hours.  No one would even give him an answer.  I politely thanked the bank manager and silently vowed to yank every dime out of the bank.

So now, I'm planning on going with Jeff tomorrow and opening a joint checking account, having my paycheck rerouted and to get another bank to buyout my car loan, even if it does mean a higher interest rate--I don't really care right now.  I have never been so embarrassed and frustrated by such terrible customer service in my life.  And what infuriates me more is they won't tell me if this will happen again the next time I make a large purchase on my card such as, oh I don't know, a down payment for my venue or caterer.  Wouldn't that be a great way to start a relationship with a vendor?  That would actually be a million times more embarrassing than the grocery store if the caterer told me my card had been declined.  I'm tired of my bank making me feel like it's a crime to occasionally splurge on something big with my own hard earned and saved money.

Has your bank ever left you high and dry without access to your money when you needed it most?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wearing White (423 Days to Go)

Jeff & I at last year's playoffs. 
Round 1, Game 5
You thought I was going to talk about wedding dresses, didn't you?
Available at Dick's Sporting Goods


Today marks the official start of the Penguins playoff season and thus, it is time to bust out the white Penguins related wardrobe.  There's the white version of the Penguins Jersey (usually the old Winter Classic Jersey in pale blue is considered acceptable), unofficial t-shirts from Strip District, the many t-shirts given away every year at the arena, and the dozens you can buy that are official NHL white-out t-shirts.  There's even white-out rally towels--lovingly stolen from Myron Cope's Terrible Towel.  In fact, Pittsburgh has been so instrumental in developing the concept of the rally towel, that last time we won the Stanley Cup in 2009, Detroit felt the need to make a towel of their own in red.  Obviously, it wasn't enough for them to win.

Maxime Talbot
Last year, Jeff grew out a playoff beard, and for those of you unaware of this crazed facial hair superstition, let this picture be your first introduction.  Last night was the last that any of the Penguins will touch a razor until the playoff season is over for them.  Hopefully,  by the time it's done, we'll be chuckling at Crosby's lack of beard and the rest of the team will all be well bearded and hefting the Stanley Cup.

But Jeff has agreed not to for this year and next for the sake of our engagement photos and for the wedding.  Yes, playoffs could last so long that our June 9th wedding could be coinciding with the final round.  Oops.  If the Penguins do well next year, I can look forward to five groomsmen sporting beards.  If you recall there are actually six, but Dom is physically incapable of growing any hair on his head.  But luckily he's got a nice skull for it.  

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, they're bringing back the outdoor viewing screen!  The location has changed as it will now be outside Gate 2 of Mellon Arena, but who cares?!  Anyone have an old futon they don't want? I'm hoping that if it goes to game 5, Jeff and I will be able to go as an anniversary to the first game we ever attended.