Wedding shoes: update!

30 January 2012

Hi friends! I wanted to update you on my wedding shoe situation, since I think an update is only fair when I ask for your opinion! As you may recall, I presented you with eight options a few weeks back. Interestingly, opinion was quite split, and there wasn’t a clear favorite. Here’s a little graph for illustration:

Yes, I am a dork.

Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6 were the favorites, with no. 2 coming out just a tiny bit ahead. In my mind, though, no. 1, the Nina “Paladin” in white luster satin, was the clear winner. I loved the ladylike bow, the heel was the perfect height, and, though some advocated for more colorful options (which I completely understand!), the white was the right choice for me in the end.

So, my mind made up, I happily headed to the Nina site to make my purchase. But oh no! They were out of my size in every color! Great sadness ensued as I searched for them on every site I could think of (Endless, Zappos, eBay, etc.) to no avail.

I left the matter for a few more days, and when I returned to check the Nina site, the “Paladin” listing was gone completely! Desperate, I decided to tweet my predicament. Lo and behold, a very helpful gal responded, directing me toward as well as the Nina “Brynn,” available at Nordstrom.

I had never heard of before, but it turns out they’re an online retailer offering discount and clearance shoes. And, my goodness, there they were: the Nina “Paladin” in my size, in white luster satin. AND, they were not $89 (the original price), they were not $58 (the clearance price on the Nina site), they were $37!! You can bet those babies were in my cart before I could say boo. I also ordered the “Brynn” just to be sure.

A few days later both pairs arrived (both with free shipping to boot!), and they were even lovelier in person. Here’s the “Brynn”:

And here’s the “Paladin”:

Though the “Brynn” was lovely, the “Paladin” was the clear winner. The heel height (2.5 inches) is just right, and the cushioned soles are oh-so-comfortable. I was also able to compare them to a swatch of my dress, and they’re a perfect match. Love!

Chalk one up to a wedding success story!

The wedding morning, part two

27 January 2012

Yep, still thinking about it (first post here, in case you missed it). It was so gratifying to read all of your sweet comments about how you, too, think it’s important to plan out the morning of your wedding and not just let it slip haphazardly away. In fact, just typing out that sentence gives me hives — the LAST thing I want happening on that day is to not realize how late it’s getting, and be forced to rush around getting ready at the last minute. Not that that would be likely to happen, but still.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that we’ve decided where we’re going to be getting ready that morning: the Steamboat Inn! Here’s a little pic of the front:

Photo by wheelmaker via flickr

You actually approach from the back, but as my grandmother says, no one has waterback property :)

Anyway, first, though, let me say that it might seem strange that I’m getting ready anywhere other than my childhood home, which is just as close to our ceremony venue as the Steamboat. Getting ready at home would certainly save us money. However, as we’ve already discussed, a calm wedding morning environment is very important to me. It sets the tone for the day, and I want the tone to be calm, loving, and joyful. I do not want anyone racing around picking up a house that, quite honestly, will probably be cluttered from a week of wedding preparations — not me, not my Mom, not my sisters, not my bridesmaids. I want a neutral environment in which we can all relax. I also want to give Tanja a lovely, simple background in which to shoot. Here’s a shot of the suite we’ve booked — isn’t it pretty?

All that being said, I think my parents were a little sad when I talked about booking the room, since they had assumed my last night as a single lady would be spent in my childhood home. Of course, this instantly made me all sentimental. I also didn’t like the idea of splitting up the family that night, either — we’re all incredibly close, and it would feel kind of wrong to spend the night by myself, or with just my sisters, or with just my Mom and sisters. So, as silly as it sounds, we might leave the room empty on Friday night (it’s a two-night minimum stay), sleep at home, and arrive to get ready around 9am or so. Silly it might sound, but it just might be the right decision for this gal and her family.

Anyway, the Steamboat is lovely, with just eleven beautifully furnished rooms. I chose our room specifically because it’s the largest, has furnishings that coordinate well with our wedding colors (what?? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one that’s thought about something like that…), and has a little sitting room for extra lounging comfort. I do wish it had a tad more natural light, but there’s still a good amount.

And oh yes, one more benefit of the Steamboat is that it is very close to the spot I’m hoping to take pre-ceremony photos… but THAT is a post unto itself! In the meantime, what do you think about all this?

Gowns with netted straps

26 January 2012

One of the prettiest things I’ve seen in the wedding fashion world lately is gowns with netted sleeves. I first saw them when I tried on dresses in Charleston. I tried on the “Emmeline” by Vera Wang, and oh goodness, it is a gorgeous dress. I could not get enough of the sleeves — I had never seen anything like them. I totally would have bought that dress… except that the top was a little too corset-y for me, and the price tag was a little too rich (to the tune of about $6,500… ouch).

A few weeks back I saw a real bride wearing the Emmeline for the first time, and it looked stunning on her!

Photos by Carl Zoch via Style Me Pretty

For those who likewise love the look but can’t afford the price tag, may I suggest Jim Hjelm’s 5102? It’s a bridesmaid dress, but available in ivory. I think this would be gorgeous for bridesmaids in a darker color, and it would also make a perfect “reception dress,” if you were so inclined.

As for me, I will be wearing my wedding gown for as long as possible… perhaps even to the brunch on Sunday? One can get away with lots if one is the bride :)

Wedding planning update: 7+ months to go!

25 January 2012

Today is the 25th, which means it’s time for an official wedding planning update! (If you’re curious why I post planning updates on the 25th, it’s because we got engaged on June 25, and I published the first planning update with one month under my belt (on July 25th). I suppose it’s become a habit!) I skipped a few months over the holidays, so I have much to report with 7+ months to go!

Photo by Leah McCormick via Snippet & Ink

Since my last update…
— I purchased a wedding gown!
— I went bridesmaid dress shopping (and we are close to deciding!).
— I bought my dream wedding shoes! (Thank you again for your help – I’ll be posting an update on Monday!)
— We confirmed all seven members of our bridal party (yep, we’ll be uneven!).
— We asked two dear friends to do readings at our ceremony.
— I booked a hair and makeup artist and I’ve thought about the wedding morning (still working on my playlist!).
— We booked an invitation designer.
— I started my first DIY project! (Hint: it involves ribbon)
— We finished our wedding website.
— I’m pretty sure we’ve collected all the silver we need for our floral arrangements.
— We assembled, addressed, and mailed our save the dates.
— We booked a suite for the wedding weekend.
— We reserved our tent and placed a preliminary linen order.
— We booked a videographer (!!!).

Next up on the list?
— I hope to confirm our preliminary rental and lounge furniture order and put down a deposit.
— We are this close to booking a band! Seriously, I know I’ve been saying that for months, but this time, we really are.
— We’re also hoping to confirm our ceremony musicians in the next month or so.
— I’d like to buy John’s tux, and hopefully outfit the groomsmen at the same time.

Much more about all this goodness soon!
Anything you’re particularly curious to hear about? I’d be happy to start with your suggestions (unless, of course, you say my dress – that one’s off limits!).

Yard sale chairs remade!

24 January 2012

I am SO excited to share today’s post with you! You may recall the pair of chairs I picked up at a yard sale back in August. It took three months, but they now officially have a new lease on life!

This was definitely my largest and most involved refurbishing project to date, and I had anxiety at almost every step. Most of it was completely unnecessary worry, however, and I know that next time everything will be much smoother. I hope this post will encourage some of you to try something similar, since I lived to tell the tale!

As a reminder, here’s what we started with: walnut-ish wood, pale pink velvet upholstery. Luckily for me, the chairs were solid wood (not veneer), they weren’t stained or painted, and they weren’t terribly grimy. They were also in good shape, with only a few rough spots.

The first step was to lightly sand them down to give the surface a little “grip.” I used 80 grit first, then followed that up with very fine (220) grit. I then wiped both chairs down with a slightly damp rag, and let them rest overnight. I completed this step inside, and everything stayed pretty clean.

The next step was to prime these babies. I used Kilz Original Oil-Base Primer and a cheap bristle brush. I was very anxious about this step, because there was no going back once the primer was on, but I needn’t have worried. I followed Sherry’s advice (wood painting tips here + here) and didn’t worry when the coat of primer looked a little rough. The toughest part was coating the caning without having the paint drip, and getting to all sides of the back poles, since there was only a small space between them and the caned back.

As you can see, the primer coat did not go on particularly evenly, but it turned out to be just fine in the end.

After the primer dried, it was time for another round of sanding! I used just the 220 grit, and though you can’t see it too well in the photos, the finish was velvety-smooth after this round. I again wiped both chairs down with a slightly-damp cloth to remove the sanding dust.

After I’d finished these relatively “safe” steps, I’ll admit, the chairs sat primed and ready in our living room for a while. Committing to a color brought back the anxiety in a big way! Finally, this photo from Michelle Adams’ living room (via Lonny) convinced me to go big or go home.

I snagged an assortment of paint chips from Lowes, and did my best to color match her gorgeous chair. I painstakingly chose a winner, and then headed back to the store in search of the new, tinted Rustoleum enamel oil-based paint that Jenny posted about. Alas, my local store only had a narrow range of colors, and none were the vibrant coral red I was looking for. I also decided, kind of on the spur of the moment, that I wanted to spray paint the chairs instead of brush paint them (partially inspired by Sherry’s spray painting tutorial here). From the range of options available, my favorite was Valspar’s Gloss Classic Red. I much prefer Rustoleum spray paint (because the cans are so much more comfortable to use), but Valspar’s shade won out.

After rigging up an extremely Dexter-ish drop cloth set-up on our porch, it was time to spray! I knew I was going to have the chairs upholstered, so I didn’t worry about getting paint on the velvet.

Oh yes, I rigged up a foot protection system, as well :) Highly embarrassing, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

I used about three cans and five coats of spray paint for each chair, waiting five minutes in between each coat. I tried to take a photo after each consecutive coat so you can see how the color built, but it’s hard to make out in the photos. Just remember to keep the hand that’s spraying constantly moving!

I let the chairs dry and “harden off” outside over several days (3-4 each).

Next step? Picking fabric! I knew I wanted something neutral to balance the vibrant red paint, and ultimately decided on Braemore’s “Fioretto” in graphite from Mill Outlet Village in Raleigh. On Dina and reader Rachel’s recommendations, I used ABZ Upholstery in Raleigh. One of my big questions was how I would know how much fabric I needed to buy, but I simply sent an email with a picture of the chairs to Edgar at ABZ, and he said 1.5 yards would be enough. So easy! I picked up the fabric, and dropped it and the chairs off at ABZ. A quick note about ABZ: they have by far the best prices in the area, and they do good work, but make sure you call ahead to let them know when you’d like to pick up and drop off your pieces. They post hours on their website and door, but seem to consider them more a guideline than a hard and fast system.

Two weeks later I returned to pick up these beauties!!

I couldn’t be happier, and they truly, truly transform the room. They were just the pop of color we needed, and I can’t wait to show you what our living room is looking like now!

Cost breakdown:
Pair of chairs at yard sale: $60
4 plastic drop cloths, 220 and 80 sandpaper, a bristle brush, and a quart of primer: $24.23
1.5 yards of fabric: $39.96
7 cans of Valspar spray paint: $33.48
Upholstery for two chairs: $90

Total for two custom chairs: $247.67, or about $120 per chair

I hope you love them as much as we do!