She's got the dress!!!!

But no, you won't be getting pictures this post!

Last weekend I took a trip up to PA to go dress shopping with my mom, my sister-in-law, and my mom's best friend (who is basically a second mom to me).

We decided we'd travel to Pittsburgh for some non-corporate shopping and I made an appointment at a store in the Strip district called Carlisle's of Pittsburgh. With a reputation like "America's Oldest Bridal Salon" how could you go wrong, right?

Anyone that knows me knows that once I get my mind set on something, I'm a stickler for getting what I want. So when I walked into that salon at 11am, I knew what I would be getting. I'll spare the details here, to keep it a surprise, but I flat-out told my salesperson, Cathy, what I would be looking for. She made a couple of suggestions right off that I shot down immediately, and I'm not sure if she was impressed or put off by it!

I probably tried on 8 dresses, tops.

I found MY dress within an hour.

I tried MY dress on once, then again, then once again after one more crack at the racks.

Cathy added the perfect veil (a type I had in mind in all my internet research) and that was it!

My sister-in-law snapped a couple of quick cell phone pics (what would we do without technology?!) of the bust of the dress to get jewelry ideas.

It was pretty much decided quickly, and everyone who came agreed. In fact, my second mom barely let me get 3 steps out of the dressing room before she cried out, "That's the one!"

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited. It's been ordered and will take about six months to get into Pittsburgh. That'll be about the time I head to PA for a bridal shower, so I'm picking up the gown and bringing it back to Charlotte for any alterations.

Now, what to do about shoes? ;)



Because we're having an outdoor wedding, we've decided to forego the usual Unity Candle.

Instead, we're going to be doing something safer and creating more of a keepsake for years to come. No one in David's family is familiar with it, but I've seen wedding sand used in place of the candle, so after some discussion and research, we've decided on it.

(Click the image for a cool article on it)

We just received our "sample sand" in the mail from Moonglow Candles and now I have to decide which colors I like best. For the wedding, we've decided on Chocolate Brown (a tribute to the fall) and a Pear Green (because we're such a perfect "pair") as our colors. To be honest, finding the right shade of green has been rather annoying for me. I want our wedding to look "fall-like" but I don't want it to look like Halloween or Thanksgiving. I'm only using orange as accents in the flowers and what not. But finding the right green also means making sure I don't choose "puke green" as my fiancé so lovingly calls it, or bright summer green.

Onto the sand.

The neat thing about this company is that they actually match the sand color to dresses from David's Bridal. Unfortunately, I'm probably not going to get any of the attendants' dresses at David's Bridal. Nevertheless, they had a huge assortment of colors to choose from and will sell you samples of each. Now we just have to decide which we like best.

The other thing I like about this idea is that we'll have the sand in this jar for our bookcase, mantle, etc. for years to come. It's a beautiful keepsake, and we're planning on having the glasses engraved with our names and wedding date.
I think it will be a nice touch!


The Cookie Table

A cookie table complete with buckeyes!

As I had said before, I had given David a "must" for our wedding from the get-go. I truly wanted to be married outdoors.

But there were a couple other "musts" that snuck in there along the way.

For example, growing up in Western PA, I wanted my "heritage" to be considered despite having the wedding in North Carolina. Thus began the Great Cookie Table lesson.

For anyone who calls Western PA (and Eastern Ohio for that matter) home, you should be familiar with this wedding tradition. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever been to a wedding without a cookie table!

For those of you unfamiliar to the tradition (like my future in-laws), I'll briefly summarize.
In the days leading up to the wedding, the bride, her bridesmaids, and all the women in her family work on the cookie table. Often, there will be a get-together for one of the baking sessions, but everyone is also expected to contribute individually. After all, how many ovens does the average person have?
The women will bake all kinds of cookies--everything from peanut butter blossoms to pizzelles to lady's fingers to thumb print cookies to lemon bars to buckeyes (again a western pa thing) to old family recipes!
There is always quite the spread. And when all is said and done, depending on the determination of the family, there can easily be waaaaay more cookies than were ever needed.

Regardless, the cookies are put on display for the guests in the reception hall and are open for eating as soon as guests arrive. They more or less take the place of appetizers. Often, the bride and groom also put out boxes for their guests to cart cookies home in.
But the most entertaining part is seeing which cookies get eaten up first. In my experience, it's the buckeyes, but that's because Western Pennsylvanians know what buckeyes are! It'll be interesting to see what goes first at my wedding!

Pittsburgh Wedding Essentials offers this advice:
  • Your cookie table should have something with chocolate, something with fruit, something with nuts and something with just butter, which will appeal to all the guests. She suggests a lemon bar or something similar for summer weddings.
This cookie table also takes the place of a dessert table which I've seen mentioned in a lot of wedding blogs. Our guests can choose to have cake and/or cookies, so we don't have to offer additional desserts for those who don't like cake.

The cookie tables are also always beautifully set up and decorated. There are often layers made using cake dishes, serving trays, etc.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it better than I could:

"Wedding guests may not remember the maid of honor or the best man, but they'll remember the cookies."

If little girls dream of their wedding, I think I was dreaming of my cookie table! And wonderful David was nice enough to oblige me! We cleared it with the hotel we're considering, so now it's just time to start gathering recipes!

Informative cookie table links:

Wikipedia knows how it is
Chowhound readers weigh in
NPR even considers it news worthy
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers recipes for the table
Pittsburgh Wedding Essentials ... from a Vendor's point of view
Suite 101 works it
Cocktail Moms blog catches the cookie itch

And an informative Youtube video!


The Ceremony

When we started planning, I had told David I wanted two things: a fall wedding and an outdoor ceremony.
I found out that "fall" in North Carolina means November if I don't want my guests sweating thru their clothes! I'm pretty excited about a November wedding though. The trees will finally be turning down here, and my northern guests get a nice mini-vacation from winter!

So after looking at calendars we settled on a date:
November 14th, 2009

The next step was to decide where we would get married. I just recently joined David's church. We come from the same denomination, so I've felt at home there since I moved back to Charlotte.
His church has always been a large part of his life having grown up just across the street from it.
Knowing I wanted to get married outside, he suggested the park just down the street at the corner...
I give you Independence Park!

It's the oldest park in Charlotte. You can't see it in this picture, but if you stand under the arch you see here (where we'll be married) you can see the tops of the buildings downtown. There's a rose garden on the other end of the park, but as soon as I saw this arch in the fall I fell in love with it. There's also a stone wading pool with stone benches behind the arch.

The best part? It's literally a block and half from our church! We're having our Pastor perform the service and the church's coordinator will be helping us out also. But pending unreliable weather, we've also reserved the church. Should we need to move to our "rain location" our guests will only have a short drive/walk to the church.

I'm not planning on needing much to decorate because it will be so beautiful outside already.
But to dress the stone arch (and possibly chairs) for a wedding, I've been planning on including lace.
On a side note-- I hate hate HATE tule/netting/all things cheesy-wedding, so there will be none of that at my wedding! But keeping with my love for all things antique, I'll be searching out things like lace.

Pretty much, my whole wedding has been inspired by my beautiful engagement ring. The detail in it looks almost "lace-like" so I want to incorporate that into both the ceremony and the reception.

The downside? I went to a giant fabric warehouse type store with my future mother-in-law the other day to brainstorm and see what they had. Turns out, lace is NOT cheap. Don't tell David!
It'll be the one thing I think I have to splurge on, but I think it'll be worth it! It'll lend a little class and romance.

I'm very excited about being married outside. The times I've been fortunate enough to travel, I've always been drawn to the natural beauty of the great outdoors, and I feel like there is no better way to honor God than to ask his blessing on our marriage surrounded by His beauty.

The Engagement

David asked me to marry him January 27th, 2009.

We had been talking about marriage for a while, I kinda knew it was coming, and he still caught me completely off-guard! That's just one of the little things I love about him.

If you want the full story, you can head over to our Wedsite. But I will briefly flaunt the ring:

He picked it out himself, and the only guidlines I gave him were as follows: I wanted a square/radiant/princess type stone, it had to be white gold, and I wanted it to look somewhat antique. I told him it was fine if it actually was antique (something I know lots of brides cringe over), and I also told him that I wasn't too concerned over the quality or size of the stone. To this day, he still knows more about diamonds than I do. I just knew I wanted a really pretty decorative band. I tried to find pictures on the internet to show him what I liked and we shopped together once.
Other than that, I flat out told him I didn't want to pick out my ring. I've had it in my head since I was little that the man I'm meant to marry will know me well enough that he will pick out the perfect ring to suit me.

And David so picked out that ring! I love him :)

From Diamonds Direct in Southpark

I have no idea how much it's worth, but to me it's absolutely priceless.
And I got the best compliment from a girlfriend at church over it. It's definitely not an antique, but she thought it looked like an heirloom! Just what I wanted to hear! :)

Now it's on to planning the wedding!!


We're Getting Married!!!

In an effort to get organized and keep friends and family abreast of what's going on with the wedding, I've decided to blog it. Big surprise eh?

I'll be posting ideas as well as any pertinent information for all our out of town guests!