The Surprise Engagement Party:
My bridesmaids and good friends planned it and filled our apartment to the max with all our good college friends! Biggest surprise ever!

The Wedding Planning Book: A gift from my MOH. I carried it with me everywhere for a year! It held my collection of inspiration pictures, jotted ideas, calendar and all the details!

The Save-the-Date: Michaela, an amazing artist and good family friend designed our beautiful Save-the-Dates and we sent them as pdf’s by e-mail, and printed a few for our grandparents, etc.

The Bridal Showers: I was given three beautiful bridal showers in three states! One in La Madeleine, a French bistro, another in one of my bridesmaid’s home, and one in my mother-in-law’s home. I was so excited to be able to celebrate with my college friends, family as well family  friends 🙂
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I had two kitchen themed and a lingerie themed shower- they were a BLAST! Isn’t that bustier cake hysterical?!

5105_115916453956_673828956_2911374_3128171_nAren’t these the cutest favors? Teacups with chocolate-covered espresso beans. My mother and sister-in-law made them. The memorare prayer card was my father-in-law’s idea!

The Invitations: We picked out and bought cardstock and enveloped in bulk, downloaded a pretty font and my husband made the invitations on the computer, and we had them printed at Kinko’s! To add a delicate touch, we cut out Vellum paper to go over the cardstock and stamped pretty flowers cascading on the side with a spice-glittery ink. We attached the vellum paper to the cardstock with a pretty ribbon. I LOVED how they turned out! For our response cards we made postcards to cut on the mailing costs (both the weight and the stamp price!) It was so much fun receiving them back in the mail for weeks! My mom with a calligraphy pen elegantly addressed the invitations for me. I had lots of help from my bridesmaids, mother and mother-in-law assembling this project!

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The Hall:   Best bargain! We went with a community hall not too far from us rather than a formal banquet hall. It was a large room with an additional smaller room connected which housed the bar, and had hardwood floors and lots of incandescent lighting, and windows! The hall came with the tables, place settings, vases and bar. We opted for an open bar and haven’t regretted it! We all had such a great time, and pretty much EVERYONE was out on the dance floor all night!

The Caterer: We originally went with a “formal” caterer- formal meaning charged by the head (muy expensivo!) and cancelled a month ’til our wedding day! We used our deposit to rent linen from him – HA! He was reluctant and it took a lot of haggling to not lose our deposit. Instead, we went with a nearby Italian-Family Grocery Store with authentic food which only charged by the POUND! Genius! The food was delicious, they delivered and set up the burners for FREE (We opted to get the burners from Costco to save $$!) and, since some of our family volunteered to bring in salads and the dressing had been forgotten, our caterer was thoughtful enough to foresee the possibility and was prepared to throw it in for free!

The Photographers: Family friends photographed our wedding. I was in awe of how beautifully they captured all the details and emotion of every memory! They organized everything, and even located a nearby golf course with a bridge for our private pictures, and a little gazebo near the hall for the wedding party pictures! They were gracious enough to edit a lot of our pictures and give us full copyright to print to our heart’s content!
Here’s one of my favorites- this is REAL! (not photoshop-ed!)

The Flowers:  Ann Marie, from White House Black Shutters, made all the  bouquets and boutonnieres! All I did was pick out and order the flowers from a grocery store!! That’s right- a grocery store- those $9.99 bouquets! I had them put aside a few bouquets of white and orange-shades roses, baby’s breath and green button flowers and show Ann Marie a picture of what I was thinking and she did the rest! She even added a unique touch- the beautiful wire through the bridesmaid bouquets to reflect the light and add some texture! Genius! I LOVED them! And all it cost was around $40 for all the flowers! I still have my dried bouquet on display in my bedroom!

The Cake: Now this was the ONLY thing about wedding planning I felt sure about, especially after having worked over 4 years in a bakery! I KNEW I had to find a baker who used wholesome ingredients like- PURE BUTTER instead of Crisco or fake stuff! I knew I wanted beautiful icing  ” spice” flowers cascading down the side to accent my wedding colors. And I also knew I didn’t need a HUGE cake that most people wouldn’t eat and would = lots of $$. So I went with my three-tiered dream cake from a little Polish bakery and ordered an extra undecorated half sheet on the side (which the good friend who picked it up for us gave it to us a a gift!) Best of both worlds: a beautiful and great-tasting centerpiece, and I didn’t break the bank!

The Linen: Already mentioned how we worked this out earlier (hehe).

The Tuxes: Tip- Go with a classic style (some of our groomsmen already had or chose to purchase) and rent from a small, local place for savings!

Part I: rings, wedding dress, veil, shoes, & bridesmaids attire.
Part III: more details, our Wedding Day and Honeymoon.