Wedding pictures!

All photo and editing credit goes to the amazing Jonathan Baek! As you can see, he did a fantastic job, so go check out his other work at jonathanbaek.com! At the moment he’s based in Queens, so if you’re in need of great photos, give him a call.

Tom, Jon, and I became friends back in college at SUNY Geneseo where we all met in InterVarsity. Since then, I have always admired his wonderful photography skills, from our IV powderpuff games to the amazing sunrise on Conesus Lake. Jon was my absolute first choice when Tom and I got engaged, especially since he has photographed a number of weddings of couples also from Geneseo.

So here’s a HUGE thank you to you, Jon – I’m so glad you were with us on our big day, not only as our photographer, but also as our friend.

Wedding DIY: Skeleton Key Escort/Place Card Display

So I’ve been meaning to make this post since…well, since we got married over a month ago.

But life has been crazy, I’ve been busy, yada yada, same excuses. So now that I have a spare second (and remembered that I had intentions to post these!), let’s get into my first DIY Wedding blog post!

>>Be warned that with the exception of this first photo (taken by my photographer at the wedding), all of the pictures were taken with my iPhone, so the quality is not the best.<<

My favorite DIY project for our wedding was by far the escort/place card display.

Skeleton key escort card display

I knew from the beginning I wanted to incorporate skeleton keys; I had seen something similar on Pinterest and instantly fell in love. I really didn’t want to just opt for the small, white,  folded cards with names and table numbers on them; I wanted to make them memorable by putting time and thought into them.

When I shared the idea with my (at the time, future-) mother- and sister-in-law, my MIL showed me that she had a whole box of old skeleton keys that her father had collected over decades of antique shows. So we would soak those in warm water and rinse the rust and dust off, easy-peasy.

Clean keys

I originally thought we would have the keys hanging on an old wooden door, but I decided to wait on getting the actually display piece until after we had an idea of how many cards we would need to fit on it. So once we figured out how many people we expected, I figured that a door would be too large (around 30% of total guests would be joining us at the upstate reception only) and that a large picture frame would better suit the amount of people.

My MIL knew my plan and, whilst at a local garage sale, she found a framed picture that she snagged for $3. Turns out, said picture with frame was originally from Home Goods or Marshalls or somewhere like that and was originally about $70. No joke! The price tag was still on the back!

Like, what?! The frame wasn’t anything fancy or heavy duty, and the picture was horrendous, as you can see below. But we didn’t need the picture, so whatever, and the frame was exactly what I wanted/needed, so I was happy.

Awful artwork

The next step was to remove the ugly picture and replace it with some wood for a more sturdy backing for the keys to hang on. We picked up a piece of plywood from Home Depot and had them cut it to the correct dimensions for the frame. I also picked up some nails for attaching the keys to the board.

My mother-in-law had a few rolls of burlap that she had picked up at Walmart during a Christmas sale or something, so we covered the plywood with the burlap and attached it with staples.

Burlapping

Burlap complete

We then attached the plywood to the frame with screws. And when I say “we”, I mostly mean my FIL because he’s handy with tools.

Frame done

So, things were coming together!

I purchased a tag template on Etsy (check it out here!) that provided me with a PDF file of the tag template that I was able to edit for only $7! The process of typing names took a little time because I wanted to perfect them (I ended up downloading about 5 extra cursive fonts and decided I liked Rochester the best…ironic?) and make sure that they would still be legible without looking really crowded and confusing.

Plus, I had to wait until I had all RSVPs (which I didn’t end up getting until about a week before the wedding…) so that I could make the seating chart so that I knew what table each person was going to sit at and include it on the tags. It’s all a process.

During one of my many Michaels runs (this was not the only DIY project I was taking on for the wedding) I bought textured, off-white cardstock to print the tags on. A couple of weeks before the wedding, I went to Staples and had them print off a test copy on their own off-white card stock to ensure that the writing was legible, see the size of the tags, test them out with the keys, etc. I decided that I liked the cardstock from Michaels better – it was sturdier and much better quality. I used those test-run tags and tried out a few different ways of tying them to the keys with different colored ribbons.

Skeleton key decisions

I decided that I wanted to use the white ribbon with looped edging because it went better with the theme of the display (bottom two keys in the picture). Instead of the keys hanging from a loop of ribbon on the nails (like the one on the right), I thought it looked better with the card and key flush together and then I would hang them by slipping the nail through the hole.

Three days before the wedding, the cards were finalized and saved on a USB drive. I took my Michaels cardstock and my USB drive to Staples so that they could print them off. I could have totally used a home printer but my in-laws’ printer tends to leave ink spots wherever it wants to, so I figured Staples would be a safer bet.

As you can see, they turned out awesome.

My SIL, Casey, helped me assemble the tags to the cleaned skeleton keys: I cut out the tags and punched holes where holes needed punching, then she chose a key and attached the two together with ribbon.Escort cards

The next step was to map out where the nails would go so that they were evenly spaced and so that all the cards would fit on the board in a neat fashion. This is where math came in handy! I figured out the configuration of nails/cards and then put the cards/keys in alphabetical order within that layout to make transferring them to the frame easier.

Alphabetical escort cards

While trying to hammer the nails in the designated spots, I realized that they were too long and would stick out way too much, so I went back to Home Depot and bought a pack of black carpet tacks. They worked phenomenally and looked much better than the nails, so that was a relief.

Nail battle

I had found two really cute heart-shaped keys in the collection and knew I wanted to do something with them. I made a couple special escort cards to use with those keys and to add as more of a decoration on the display. So I arranged those keys at the top of the frame with the special cards that read “Mrs. & Mrs. Thomas Harrigan” and “The key to love is inside us all” for a little something more. Awww, I know. Stop the mushy stuff already Holliday, jeez!

Heart keys

The only thing left was to hang all the other keys/cards on the frame. When I finished, I wanted to cry because it looked so good after all of the planning and hard work.

Finished display

It was so wonderful seeing such a beautiful display that I made (with much appreciated help from my future family!) and that the vision I had from the beginning came to life even more perfect than I imagined it would.

One month until ‘I Do’!!!!!

Don’t you just love how attractive we are in that featured image?

So this week and a half was more productive and eventful in the wedding planning arena! And the excitement builds more and more each day!!!

I had my dress fitting last Tuesday and – hallelujah!!!!! – it fit (and then some)! The first seamstress came in to zip me up and get an initial view of it. I asked her about getting cutlets, which are basically just the padded cups from a bra, because I’m not well-endowed up there if you catch my drift. She brought two in, slipped them into the top of my dress, and (voila!) I had a little somethin’ somethin’ going on.

The second seamstress came in and got down to business. My first concern was the poofy crinoline/tulle at the bottom of my dress, so she got right to cutting it out. I was really nervous; I mean she was cutting it out of my dress right then and there, so there was no going back! What if this completely ruined my dress?!

Cinderella dress upset gif

Thankfully, when she finished cutting and I let the dress fall, it looked perfect and just how I wanted. Phew!

She ended up having to pin about half an inch on each side along my torso to make the dress hug my body better. After all that pinning, I made sure that I could still sit comfortably and that there would be room if I ate or drank (seeing as I plan to do both the day of the wedding). I was able to sit without hearing any ripping sounds, so I won’t have to stand or starve all wedding day!

I was relieved to find that my shoes worked perfectly with the length of my dress, so no hemming is involved; that saves me $150 right there! The last thing she worked on was the bustle. Now, all 3 of us (Tom’s mom, sister, and I) had thought that a bustle was just one button with one loop to hold the train up off the floor. Easy peasy, right?

Nope. I guess the standard is about 8 buttons and hooks; my dress will have 11. Like, what?! It’s going to take a team of people to bustle the thing! Once she had it all bustled, it looked amazing. I scheduled my final fitting for the 29th so I have to keep up the workouts and healthy eating so that the dress still fits. I won’t get to take my dress home that day because they will still have to press it and the veil after the final fitting.

I met with my photographer, Jon, on Thursday to go over day-of details. It was so great sitting and talking with him – we went to SUNY Geneseo together, so it was nice catching up. I had a few pictures/poses pinned on my Love & Marriage Pinterest board and I knew that I wanted a romantic style with a little fun and silly mixed in. I definitely knew I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful grounds at the country club, and the (fingers, toes, and eyeballs crossed!) beautiful August weather. But other than that, I figured I would wait and get Jon’s opinion.

He was very thorough since he’s done this before and knows what works and what doesn’t. We talked about the overall rough schedule of the day, where certain aspects were taking place, who would be giving toasts, what family members would be included in family pictures, and stuff like that. I’m really, really excited now that we’ve gotten to talk about everything and have a good idea of what will happen on August 16. Go check out Jon’s website/work and tell your friends – he is an amazing photographer!

So in my 7 week update I mentioned the debacle with my mom – I got her a laptop but the nursing home had no flipping idea what the internet password was. Update: they still haven’t figured it out. Like, how have you all survived this long in life? Cue cat face palm.

Cat Face palm gif

I’ve been trying to think of alternative ways but if they can’t get her connected to the internet, live-streaming seems pointless (at least in her case…but she’s the only case at the moment). So Tom and I talked about getting two Go-Pro cameras and setting them up at two different angles in order to catch the goings-on of the ceremony. Then we could edit it and show it to Mom while we’re upstate for the reception. She wouldn’t get to see it as it happens, but it’s better than not seeing anything.

Tom had his bachelor party Friday night with the guys. I got sent a few pictures throughout the night, which was comical, and I’m pretty sure they all had a good time together in Fire Island.

I ordered another piece of my bridesmaids’ gifts. That’s pretty much all I will say about that.

The deadline for RSVPs was Saturday and I still have about 35 people that I have yet to hear from. Sigh. Lots of phone calls/texts/Facebook messages have already been made/sent and many more need to happen.

I am making my own escort card display and that’s what I plan on accomplishing this coming weekend. In the meantime, I’ll be inputing peoples’ names into a template that I ordered on Etsy for the actual escort cards. It’s so convenient and I figured out the font combination that is both legible and pretty – it’s all in the details. I can’t really finalize any of those until I work out the seating chart, which I can’t really do until everyone responds and tells me whether they’re coming or not. Sigh again.

The plan for the seating chart is something I’ve seen on Pinterest and was also told about from friends. So I’ll get a big poster board, draw the floor plan on it with table numbers, write everyone’s names on skinny Post-It notes, and arrange them around the tables. This saves lead, erasers, and time because moving people is as easy as pulling up a sticky note and then laying down said sticky note elsewhere. So smart!

wedding seating chart post-it notes

I talked to a few of our vendors Monday and Tuesday of this week just to make sure things are going kosher-ly (word?). And they are! Once I have a better idea of a final headcount, I can order our cake. I also have an idea for a cake topper, so I’m going to see if I can make one myself or if I need to look into buying one already made.

Side note, let’s hope that the Long Island Rail Road strike doesn’t actually happen because that will be a pain in the ass for us trying to get back and forth from the city to do all this wedding stuff, and for out-of-town wedding guests come August 15 and 16! Fingers crossed!

 Gosh, I think that’s it. I can’t believe we’re only one month away! Can’t wait!

I’ll be Harrigan-ized in 6 weeks!

Another week, another wedding update, and I’m feeling a bit more accomplished this week.

First off, I’ve been dealing with some garbage for the past couple weeks that I won’t get into detail about but have talked to a few people about because it just bugs me so much. It’s frustrating when someone tries and tries and TRIES to make your and your fiancé’s wedding day about themselves and you so badly want to tell them off but realize that you need to be the adult in the situation and just stay calm and cool and instead of blowing up at them and telling them what’s really on your mind and to put them in their place (as they have deserved for many years now) you remain level-headed and explain your perfectly reasonable rationale for decisions you’ve made concerning their part in your big day (for the twelfth time) when you’d rather just tell them not to come because you don’t need the added stress and frustration.

Jennifer Lawrence mad gif

Whew, had to get that off my chest. Moving on…

I sent out the remainder of the Thank You cards for everyone who attended my bridal showers. It felt good dropping the last of them in the mailbox on Wednesday!

I continued hunting for bridesmaids gifts and although it seemed as if I couldn’t come up with anything before, now I have too many ideas and need to narrow them down. Like, now I’m juggling between getting the girls Lamborghinis or Corvettes; how is a girl to choose?!

Haha just kidding because mama don’t sleep on a pile of gold ya know. I mean, does anyone? If so, how is that working out for you? Do you see a chiropractor often?

Anyways, I think I’ve decided what I want to get my girls thanks to Tom – he helps me rationalize things when the emotional and stressed side of me gets too strong – so I’ll get their gifts soon.

OMG Shoes

Also, I bought my shoes!!!!!!! I’m not usually this excited about shoes, although I think I would be if I had cute, non-deformed feet. We’re getting down to the wire here and I’m so glad I finally found a cute pair that fits, seems comfortable enough, and meets the height requirements. I found them at David’s Bridal and found out that they were on clearance – bonus! I need to start breaking those babies in so my feet don’t want to murder me on the day of because foreign objects are rubbing them the wrong way all day.

My dress fitting is this coming Tuesday (so I should probably stop snacking on these Reeses Oreos I bought Tom as part of his birthday gift) so it’s good timing because I need the shoes to wear at the fitting to make sure they aren’t too tall. I also started a new fitness plan called Tone It Up to (try to) keep me motivated and moving throughout the days. I’m going crazy not having a job to keep me busy and occupied and moving all day, so hopefully this helps. I’ve been running regularly but this plan provides toning exercises (they even have a Bridal workout section!) to complete on top of my regular cardio.

Let’s see, what else? Oh! We bought our airline tickets and booked our rental car and hotel for the upstate weekend shindig! I think the credit card was smoking a bit after those purchases. Goodness gracious but that was a big check off the list!

Oh, I actually ended up getting two invitations returned to me this week. Like, thanks USPS for waiting 3 weeks after I sent them to give them back. So I’m sorry to those people who will be receiving theirs with only 2 weeks left to respond. The RSVPs keep coming in. It’s funny because one day there will be none or maybe one in the mailbox, then the next there are about six.

I have been working on getting up an “Our Story” type blog post since this website was created. At first, I figured it would just be my point of view since I’m the one manning the wedding website. But as time has gone on, I decided it would be pretty cool to get both of our perspectives. I tend to write a lot, and I’m very descriptive, and I (sometimes) remember more than Tom does. So instead of just having one post with my POV, I’ve asked Tom to write his perspective of how we met, when we dated, got engaged, etc. So be on the look-out for those posts in the coming weeks!

Wedding Update: 2 months left!

Okay, can time just speed up now?? It’s so cliche but where has the time gone?! We’ve been engaged for almost 10 months already?!

But at the same time, it feels like it was forever ago. Does that make sense? Probs nobs.

Does anyone else say that? I said that to Tom last night and he was like, “Who says that? And what does that even mean?”

I say it, and it means probably not. Only it’s more e-fish. Get it? Like, efficient? Anyone? No? Alright, let’s move on.

So the past week and a half was crazy insane.

Like seriously. This post includes not only wedding updates, but also life updates because, well, it’s my blog and I do what I want. Are you ready?

Last weekend, I wrote about my progress with invitations. I’m glad to say that I’m 99% done (there are a few stragglers that Tom needs to find addresses for) and have sent out any and all invitations that I could! I put the majority of them in the mail on Sunday the 8th (the day after I wrote my 10 week update post on our wedding website) and have already gotten a bunch of response cards back!

Instagram - invitations

I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of responses as they come. I made a column of all the people we invited, and then made columns for the downstate and upstate festivities, under which I will write the names of people in relation to how they responded. So I’m keeping track of who has responded, how they responded to each event, and also how many are coming. Exciting stuff! Yeah!

The next day, Monday, I accepted a teaching job for next school year! I’ll be the newest addition to the math and science crew at Mary McDowell Friends Upper School here in Brooklyn and I couldn’t be more excited! I worked there this past year as a paraprofessional, employed by a family whose student attends the school. I’m ecstatic that I get to work with (almost) everyone again this year, only as a teacher this time! I’m sad to see people go, but wish them all the best in their amazing future endeavors (one guy is going to Malaysia to teach math!) and know they’ll kick butt wherever they are.

Tuesday was a ‘no school’ day so I spent the day cleaning and relaxing. Wednesday was the last official day of school for my student, and it was a half day, so I got to chill a bit that day too. I went and got a spray tan so that I wouldn’t blend in with my ivory colored bridal shower dress. Although they were two different dresses, both of my shower dresses were similarly pale and would not mesh well with my pastiness.

Shower Dresses

Thursday I got my hair colored and blown out. I’m telling you, I would love it if those girls would wash my hair and massage my scalp like that every other day. It feels amazing! And the stylist was able to get my hair straight and swishy! Please come home with me!

Friday was flight day, so I spent the morning packing and getting ready to fly upstate for the weekend. I hadn’t heard anything bad in weather reports, so I left for the airport around 2 so that I would arrive about 75 minutes before my scheduled flight time. Everything was going smoothly – the subway was on time and connection times weren’t long, and I got to the AirTrain in great time.

And that’s when Delta emailed me saying that my flight was delayed an hour. I texted my friend in Boston, Michelle, since we were originally flying in to Buffalo around the same time, and I also texted my friend in Buffalo, Courtney, to let her know since she was picking us up. Michelle said her flight was cancelled and wouldn’t be getting out until the next morning. We discussed what it could be due to – both of us were looking at fairly clear skies!

I got to JFK and my flight was still only delayed an hour which was good. I got my bag checked and, wouldn’t you know it, when I walk out of security and check the departures board, my flight was cancelled. Delta kindly sent me an email letting me know that everything was good and they rebooked me for a 4pm flight the following afternoon.

Oh hell no Felicia Day

Little did they know, that would not work seeing as my bridal shower was at 1pm the following afternoon. So I stood in line for over an hour and the agent was able to rebook me for the 8am flight the following morning. She was really kind and wished me congratulations and good luck on my bridal shower.

Back home I went, this time only with my small carry-on, which was convenient but also meant that all of my beauty products were somewhere in the airport instead of at my fingertips. This meant that I would look like a bag lady until I got said products and the use of someone’s bathroom mirror and outlets upstate. And I was worried that something would happen that would cause my luggage to be lost, and then I’d look like a bag lady all weekend. Nonetheless, back on the AirTrain and subway I went, annoyed but sure everything would work out fine.

Except it was lashing rain when I got out of the subway. Thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. Luckily, in said carry-on, I had my umbrella. Okay, I guess it was a good thing we didn’t try to fly.

The next morning, when I went to leave at 4:30am to go through the whole process again, my sneakers were still wet; not pleasant. Everything went fine and before I knew it, I was landing in Buffalo…where it was about 20 degrees colder than I had packed for. My checked bag made it there fine and, wouldn’t you know, Michelle’s flight was only about half an hour ahead of mine! So it all worked out perfectly!

We got to Batavia in record time, enjoying some TimBits and caffeine on the way, and I was (finally!) able to beautify myself. The entire day was party day – bridal shower, lingerie shopping (oh la la!), and bachelorette party. It was so great seeing all of my friends and family! I want to thank all the ladies who planned and attended my bridal shower this past weekend – it was a fabulous time and I can’t begin to tell you how special I felt. I’ll be writing a post about it soon so stay tuned!

Bridal party

Sunday was relax by the pool day with my friend Jenna whose family generously opened their home to me all weekend. I’m so glad we got a nice sunny day to enjoy! Monday was spent visiting my mom and Godmother before I had to take off once again. My friend Becky drove me to the airport and we got to talk like we used to in college, just shooting the breeze…figuratively and literally since the AC doesn’t work in her car and it was like 84 that day, so the windows were all down! My car was the same exact way a few years ago so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

My flight home was very smooth and it was so nice to get home and finally not live out of a suitcase! And, of course, see and hug and talk to Tom! I am so grateful that I was able to see and spend time with so many wonderful people this weekend. I miss that so much and I know that it will probably only get harder as everyone gets married and starts having kids and whatnot, but I want to make a point to get together at least once or twice a year because those relationships are so important!

Wedding Update: T-minus-3 months!

90 days folks. Ninety. Days. That’s like how much time stores give to return items. In 90 days, there will be no returns, exchanges, or refunds. No exceptions.No refund or exchangeSo this month, I (once again) have not done much. I bought my plane tickets to go upstate in June for my bridal shower. I also chose the color for my girls’ shoes. Do those count?

Oh, my friend and I picked out adorable outfits for her twins (our ring bearer and flower girl)! They will probably steal the show.

I just talked to our Pastor last night and he informed me we should figure out exactly what we want for our ceremony – whether we want special music, readings, etc. We haven’t really talked about that but we definitely will make some decisions soon!

I literally just booked our wedding night hotel room – jacuzzi tub?! No way! Yes. Yes way.

But yeah, it seems like everyone else has done more work this month than me…

My bridesmaids and maid of honor have been taking care of bridal shower (and bachelorette party?) stuff. And I have no idea what to expect, which is how it’s supposed to be, but I am usually the type to know all the details. But I love surprises and my friends are amazing, so I’m not too worried.

My coworker was asking about my bachelorette party and what I wanted and what I thought they might do for me. All I really want is to have fun with my girlfriends, have some drinks and maybe go dancing (either at a club or bar or in one of their basements). I’m not picky.

She then asked about having male strippers; I told her that if she knew me and my friends, we aren’t into that kind of thing. “Look, I know the bachelorette party is mainly for the bride, but it’s also for the friends to have fun. You never know, some of them might be into that kind of thing.” Ohh if she only knew my friends. I think if they got me male strippers, after puking in my mouth a little, I would ultimately laugh out of discomfort and the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

Chris Farley Patrick Swayze

And no phallic straws, cakes, glasses, necklaces, tiaras, piñatas, etc. please. I’m sorry but it had to be mentioned. I’m not worried that my friends will do that kind of thing, but I just wanted to make a general comment. Good Lord the things people come up with.

Moving right along, my mother- and sister-in-law have been planning a bridal shower for Tom’s family and friends down here. My mother-in-law made a trial hair and makeup appointment with a guy her sister and friend both love and recommended. Woot! I’m excited to be made pretty!

She also found a large picture frame at a garage sale that is going to be perfect for my escort card display. It was a picture originally sold for $70 at Home Goods (the sticker was still on the back) that she purchased for $3. The picture is ridiculously ugly and I can’t imagine who would pay that much money for it. But yeah we’ll take the picture out, replace it with a piece of burlap covered wood, and then hammer nails into it to hang keys from. I saw it on Pinterest so hopefully it turns out okay.

Oh! Oh! I have been looking for outfits for my mom for the upstate reception! Boom! Werk it gurl. So yeah I asked her what kind of outfit she would like to wear and started searching online for dresses and shoes. I have to get her approval so I will show her my finds when I’m back home for my bridal shower weekend next month.

I’m super pumped because she will be able to view them on her new laptop!!!! I bought her an Acer, but shhhh, she won’t get it until I go up in June. I will play around with it, download applications she will need, and get used to it so I can just explain how to use it instead of us both learning together. I got it mainly so that she can have email so I can send her pictures, listen to music, watch me get married, and also watch cat videos on YouTube! She has no idea, and I’m really excited, and I hope she likes it, so don’t tell her!

Let’s see, I’ve been working out at least twice every week so that I can be sure to fit into my dress! I’m using the C25K free app to get me running about 3 times per week; I used it last year when I was training for an actual 5K, and it worked wonders. It’s an 8-week training program that is meant to be used 3 times per week to increase your endurance and ultimately run a 5K in about 30 minutes (to average around a 10-minute mile).

C25K app

Personally, I’ve been using the app to keep me from getting bored while running. You should definitely check it out if you’re either training to run a 5K or get bored while running and need a little guidance to improve your endurance.

So I’m thinking this next month will be filled with addressing invitations, trying out hair and makeup styles, testing a spray tan or two, bridal showers, and continuing to grow closer to Tom (aww, I know, cheesy) as our big day draws ever nearer.

Wedding Update: 5 months and counting!

This month has been on the stressful side…

Tom got a new job in Brooklyn at the end of February, so now we’ve both been doing the 2-hour train ride. That’s 2 hours each way. Every. Single. Weekday. And we don’t even take the same trains; they are each staggered 2 hours apart.

So with our daily 4-hour commutes, we deal with a mounting lack of sleep and lack of lives outside of work Monday through Friday. We’re lucky if we see each other for more than half an hour each day, so we’ve been living for weekends. Relaxing, chill weekends. Hence why this post is a day late. Deal with it.

Luckily (or maybe not so much) I have plenty of time during work to whittle away at wedding stuff, but sometimes I just don’t feel like it. Either I’m too tired, or I’m observing or helping out in a math class, or want Tom’s opinion before moving forward with something.

With all that said, I’m excited to say that we have seriously gotten a lot accomplished this month!

1. We (finally!) agreed on an invitation design, which is a Godsend. They’re simple yet elegant, which is the overall feel I’ve been going for.

2. Tom, his parents, and I went to a bridal showcase at our venue. Even though we are already going with this venue, I missed out on the last showcase, so I wanted to see what the food tasted like and see what vendors they offered. We still needed a limo and hotel company, so we figured we could check out what was there.

The food was great, they had the bar open, we got to try cupcakes from our cake bakery, and I got to revisit the venue and remember how pretty it is!

3. We also talked to a couple of local hotels to block rooms this month. And I had no idea how complicated this could get! I honestly thought it was just a simple phone call to the hotel, tell them you want to block rooms, they say okay, give you a coupon code or something, and then you tell your out-of-town guests the phone number to reserve rooms.

Not so much. My Invisalign technician and I bond every time I’m in the office for a visit because she is also getting married this year. She said she was stressed out with the whole hotel thing too!

The first hotel I tried calling is partnered with our venue. When I called, no one answered, so I left a voicemail. After a week, my phone call had still gone unreturned. Luckily, they were at the bridal showcase, so I told them about this and she was super apologetic. Unluckily, “August is a very busy month, so rooms would be very limited.”

Then I contacted a hotel closer to Tom’s house. Again, I left a voicemail that was not returned. So that weekend, Tom’s family and I went to said hotel and spoke with the guy at the front desk. He apologized and nonchalantly mentioned that they had previous problems with the woman whom I left a message with. Doesn’t sound promising for her!

He gave us the business card of the woman (a different woman) in charge of blocking hotel rooms, so I emailed her the next day. She responded shortly after, congratulating me on my upcoming wedding but also telling me they had no availability for that weekend. “You could try the Marriot or Hyatt Regency.” Wow, really?

Tom’s dad is a master negotiator. He’s negotiated with our venue multiple times and has totally gotten his way. So we gave him the task of calling and working his magic on the hotel woman. So here’s what happened:

He tried booking 10 rooms on their website for the weekend we need. He did not get any errors stating that they had no availability for these rooms. Ammo. So he called the woman. Six. Times. Without leaving any messages.

“I realized this woman was the type to let calls go to voicemail so she could think about her response before returning the call.” So sneaky! I’m learning so much.Sneaky sneaky

After the sixth call, he left a message saying he needed to block rooms for a “family function”. She returned his call, saying they didn’t have availability, but he pulled his ‘I went online and didn’t have a problem’ card. Then he asked how many rooms they had and how many were already booked for that weekend. Suddenly, she had 22 rooms available!

Well, since that whole shenanigan, we’ve realized that another hotel is going to work out better for what we need. They can already guarantee us more rooms, have already sent us cards that we can include in our invitations, and just gave us all a better vibe. Plus, they’re less expensive than the other one, which is great for the guests who do end up coming down!

4. We have a venue for our rehearsal dinner. Tom’s parents and I went last weekend to a vineyard in town and, even though everything is still kind of brown because spring hasn’t yet sprung, I can tell it’s going to be gorgeous and I’m really excited! They went back today and talked to the owner, so we got that set!

Harmony Vineyards Stony Brook

5. I also ordered Tom’s wedding band! He tried a couple on and picked out his favorite, so it’s not going to be a huge surprise on his end.

6. I booked our upstate reception venue! The cool thing is that when I called and told the woman our date, she looked in her book and said they were already scheduled to host an event. HOWEVER!!! She said the customer hadn’t yet put a deposit down. So she called them and called me right back. They changed their date to October, so they no longer needed it that weekend in August. Which means we got it!

7. One of the most exciting things that happened this month is that we booked a bed and breakfast out in Montauk for a 3-night mini-honeymoon between the downstate and upstate weekends! Eeeek, I’m excited!Montauk lighthouse

8. One of the least exciting is the fact that I’m having more frequent wedding dreams (read: nightmares). They’re so ridiculous, and I’m embarrassed that these worries are consuming my sleep, causing me to wake in a panic. But they do make decent blog posts.

I am on spring break from work for the next 2 weeks, so I think I’ll set a goal to get the legal stuff started – marriage license, and all the stuff I have to do to change my name. Although everyone tells me that Holliday Chatt sounds cool. Hyphenated name maybe? No, that would make for such an obnoxiously long name.

I’ve gotten more used to Holliday Harrigan; sounds funny at first, but now I can sign my name. How math-y and cool is that? Or I can just write 4 vertical lines and then draw a long horizontal line through them all. Boom, two H’s. Or half of a train track. Regardless, super easy!