Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wedding Madness

I'm getting married in 3 days. So weird! There is total chaos in the house. We have so many guests and so much going on! It also seems like there's some fun surprises in store :) It's fun but a bit overwhelming. Ok, no more time to write - I'm off!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

(Wedding) Material Girl

Though I got a ton done this weekend, it wasn't as rushed and busy as every day has been for the past... well, while. My parents and brother came, so they got a break too. They LOVED my apartment and I felt really great that I got to show it to them before the wedding. It felt like it made it real.

I had a good boot camp class yesterday and have been sore all day. I started another Blue Print Cleanse today, so I've been a bit tired. My wellness coach said that a cleanse may not be the best approach for me, since I may not have as much junk in my system to clean out, given my healthier diet in the past few months. However, it feels appropriate after the bachelorette party, and I can always add fruits or veg broth if I need it.

My dad luckily liked one of the songs I'd selected for the father-daughter dance, so yay! I liked it too, though I think it will be hard for me not to cry. But that's probably true of most of the appropriate songs. So I think we're getting to a good place, music-wise.

After my family left today, I spent a lot of time on the couch watching bad romantic comedies, drinking juice, and doing wedding stuff. I updated the various schedules we're maintaining (wow, its going go to be busy!), created the welcome packet (which took a surprising amount of time), and the wedding program (which was surprisingly quick). I also created a clip art we can use on all the wedding materials we're handing out. It's nothing fancy, but I think it'll help pull things together.

My parents had brought the wedding program from the wedding they attended yesterday, so I thought I'd use it as a template. But I got annoyed having to type it up, so I did a few Google searches, and lo and behold, I found the same template they'd used! It was pretty funny. I liked the wording so I used most of it :)

All of our guests were supposed to book their hotel rooms by Friday. Unfortunately, a few were too late. My dad called the hotel and found out that the entire hotel is booked with our guests! The block is full and there are no more rooms. We booked a few on reserve, but probably not enough for all the people who haven't booked yet. Apparently only TWO of our family friends have booked rooms, so there are probably quite a few desperate calls coming our way...

20 days left...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Minute Details

Time is going so fast these days! I leave 2 weeks from yesterday to go to Reston for the wedding. Aack!

The biggest worry on my mind in terms of time is that MJ and I haven't remotely practiced our first dance. We will only be in the same city 7 more evenings and we each have things planned on some of those nights. Oi! I suspect my mother and aunts will force me to get up at the sangeet and dance a little, so I need to practice something for that too.

We of course still have a bunch of details to iron out, but I think we're on top of most stuff. We've asked the various friends and family members if they will do dances, speeches, MC, etc.

I spent last night working on finalizing some key moment songs. I picked my bridal entrance song. That was fun, since most of them are about how beautiful the woman is and how she takes the guy's breath away. Hee hee But, I've also been looking for some ideas for the father/daughter dance. It's hard to find a Hindi one - most of them are extremely depressing and/or slow. Ideally, I'd like to find an old one, but I'm not picky at this point.

I'm also looking for gifts for the two friends who planned my bachelorette party and will be involved in the reception. It's hard to find the perfect gift to express my appreciation for them and their friendship, but I think I have some good ideas. Hopefully they'll like them!

I found out this morning that my favorite cousin in the whole world will not be coming to the wedding. She got turned down for a visa in India. I'm very upset, as we are like sisters and I never imagined I'd get married without her there. We've always talked about how her first trip to the US would be for my wedding. But there are some things that are out of our control I guess...

I'd love to write more, but my brother is on his way over! My family's coming to NY for about 24 hrs and I'm so excited to show them my new place!! MJ's also at his bachelor party in New Orleans this weekend, so it works out perfectly :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Check! Check! Check!

25 days to go! It's starting to feel a little more real after this past weekend. It was very productive and we got a lot done.

We found a hair and makeup artist we liked. I like her work and her personality meshed with our's. She's a bit pricier than we were looking for, but we feel more comfortable with her than we have with the others. In general, it seemed like there were two distinct categories of makeup and hair artists. One category was in the $500 range, their work was more traditional and less consistent, and they used lower grade brands of makeup. (One even asked me what airbrush makeup was!) The other category had a more contemporary look and used more expensive brands, but was also almost double the price and often had an attitude. (One asked me for a photo of myself before she'd accept a meeting!) Overall, searching for such an artist was not a pleasant experience. Hopefully this one will work out.

We also met with some people who will be providing food for our house guests and the boxes we will be giving to our wedding guests. One was a man who used to work in the temple and they asked him to start a restaurant with pure Hindu food. The restaurant's ambiance leaves much to be desired, but the food is fantastic. It tastes like the Indian food people make at home, not the type you get in restaurants. So we'll likely hire him to make the food for our house guests the entire week before the wedding. My parents are having a lady come to the house to start making snacks and sweets for everyone too. (Our guests will not go home hungry!)

The final thing we did was to do a walk through at the venue with the DJ. He gave us a good feeling of being on top of everything and knowing what to do when. We have been slacking on putting together lists of songs and not all the key moment songs are ready, so we need to start focusing on that.

We went out a communication to all our wedding guests today as well, so that they feel informed and can plan better. (And, hopefully book their hotels. The area we're getting married in is notorious for not having available hotels and we're afraid our guests won't have a place to stay!)

Probably the most important thing is that we were able to discuss a lot of the details for the wedding events and get some final pieces nailed down. We thought of some fun activities for our guests that they'll hopefully enjoy. I'm starting to think this would be an awesome wedding to attend if it weren't my own ;) (since I can't participate in all of the fun stuff!)

I took last week off from the gym, but somehow didn't gain weight. But I went to boot camp last night and hit the elliptical this morning, so I'm back on track!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Less than a Month Left!!

My friends are the best! I had an absolutely fantastic bachelorette party! I'm really glad we decided to move it to NYC so more people could join us for different events. We had a wonderful, jam-packed weekend with lots of quality time and fun. The organizers planned a very thoughtful itinerary. I couldn't have asked for a better bachelorette party and I'm so touched that so many people spent so much time & money on lil ole me!

We've finalized our cake order and are focused on getting my hair/makeup artist solidified by this weekend. It's been tough to find someone who's work we like and who does both hair and makeup. They also generally seem to be some of the least technologically advanced people I've met. Many use their husband's email accounts and/or don't have any pictures to show us. How can we sign up with you if we've never seen your work? But I think we're getting close.

As I mentioned before, I absolutely love my new apartment. It's gorgeous and comfortable... BUT I also now have a 45 min commute each way. I don't mind because I can read on the train, but it means I'm not getting home until 7:30 or 8 most nights, at which point I have 3.5 hrs to go to the gym, make & eat dinner, and do a few wedding things before bed. I feel behind on all the wedding details that need to be done and am constantly exhausted. I was going to the gym in the morning, but am too tired now.

MJ and I are scheduled to practice our first dance tonight for the first time! Exciting stuff!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Please Come!

37 days to go. It's crazy how close it is. It feels unreal that I'll be married in just over a month and all this planning will be over.

We have had a few issues with the invitations. Or, rather, the envelopes... We got the invitations custom made in India and they turned out pretty nice and very colorful. One side is in English and the other is in Hindi (something my mother really wanted). We also got matching thank you cards and gift bags made, all out of hand-made paper.

The one thing I didn't realize until I started getting ready to mail them was that the envelopes weren't self-adhesive! So, it wasn't a matter of just licking an envelope closed to get them ready. I had to use a q-tip to put rubber cement on the top and bottom, hold it closed, then put it under a book or box to seal it closed. After it dried, I put gold stickers on, which were also severely lacking in sufficient stickiness. The process took hours! MJ's also didn't have adhesive, but his envelope paper was thinner, so he could just use a glue stick.

Then, I found out last week that some people haven't been getting their invitations! They literally got lost in the mail. I'm so pissed! Fine, we decided, we'll just resend the ones that didn't make it. I looked through the invitations and we have plenty, so no problem, right? Wrong! They didn't give us enough envelopes! And, not only that, the invitations are a weird size, so we can't find any envelopes that fit! What a mess! I've had to hand-(re)deliver some invitations without an envelope because there's really no other solution...

The other somewhat humorous thing is that, in general, our Indian guests have not been RSVPing or booking hotels. Most of MJ's friends, who are not Indian, had RSVPd, booked their hotel, and already sent a gift within 2 days of getting their invitation! LOL

I've spent the past two nights looking through old pictures to find ones we could use in the slideshow my brother is putting together for the reception. It's making me a bit nostalgic though. I'm trying to pick funny ones too. There was a whole string of class pics where I literally looked like I was in costume - one year a sailor, the next a Victorian doll, then a 80's rocker... LOL MJ is one lucky guy!

But, honestly, the biggest thing I've been focused on in the past few weeks is losing weight. I started taking an herbal supplement, I joined a boot camp class, and my new apartment has a gym in the building. I've also been eating a lot healthier and stopped drinking alcohol. I was almost too big for my old size at the beginning of the year, but I've dropped down to at least the one below now. In some brands, I fit 2 sizes smaller now. I hit a frustrating point because the scale doesn't show any differences, but my clothes are fitting better. So, even though I still show as losing 25 lbs, my regular clothes look way too big on me. So my new goal is to fit into this somewhat tight pair of pants 2 sizes smaller than my old size. I can get into them, but they're not comfortable yet. So I'm fairly happy with my progress. I'm sure my mom will still think I look terrible and I'll get to hear it from all my aunts at the wedding, but I've done what I can and feel good about it.

My bachelorette party is this weekend! My lovely friends have planned it and I have no idea what we're doing! They've kept everything a secret, so hopefully they'll be nice to me ;) All I know is when/where to show up and what to pack... I'm really looking forward to it though. It'll be so nice to just have a fun weekend with my girlfriends and not have to think about all the things I should be doing. Time to let loose!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And We're Back!

So I was informed last weekend that there are some anxious readers out there who were actually waiting for another post. I had kind of assumed no one read this and didn't feel bad not posting after I returned from India. But I'm not one to let a captive audience down! So I'm back :)
The India trip was brutal, but productive. We did nothing but shop every day for 2 weeks in the heat and crowds, using only the subway to get around. But we got everything on our list and brought back SEVEN suitcases. No, that's not a typo. We paid for overweight and an extra bag, plus we both had heavy carry-ons.

Things have been getting steadily busier since I returned from India. I went to San Francisco and Austin over the long weekends, we had our engagement pictures, and we moved all of our stuff into a new apartment (Maneesh himself can't officially move in until after the wedding). Moving is especially painful, especially when consolidating stuff and having to sell old furniture. Luckily the new place is absolutely amazing. We have this view that I still cannot believe. It's nice to live in a nice place for once. I've always sought out places with character in NY, which basically equates to old, but this place is so luxurious and comfortable. Definitely a step up!

I've also been going to DC every spare weekend, which has been good. We're doing pretty well on being on track for the wedding. We still have a few vendors to solidify. The decorator has been more than flaky, so we don't have a contract with her yet, but my parents think we're close. We don't have a hair & makeup artist for me, but we do for the rest of the family members. We don't have mehendi artists. MJ's family hasn't picked the caterer for their welcome dinner yet. And my mom said last week that her brother convinced her we need a videographer, so we're starting to look for someone now. All the other vendors are good to go, so it's pretty much the details and coordination that's left. Of course, the devil is always in the details...

The entertainment is another big thing that's left. MJ and I are still debating on first dance songs and steps. My dad has no interest in discussing the song for our father/daughter dance, though he still seems to want to do it. Other than my brother, no one in our families seems interested in picking their entrance songs. haha Fun times! My brother is putting together a slideshow for the reception, but we don't have enough pictures. So MJ and I brought back an entire suitcase and a box full of old pictures, and I'm going to start picking some out. He's going to do the same this weekend when he goes home.

Picking engagement photos for our guest book was fun, but picking a wedding band was even more fun. I'm excited about the one we got! It's so sparkly and pretty with or without my engagement ring :)

Stay tuned for the next post, which will regale you with the ups and downs of our wedding invitations...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bon Voyage!

Well I'm off to India tomorrow. This last week has been extremely stressful and busy, but I'm making good progress on my to do list. It's going to be a busy, hot trip and I can't say I'm looking forward to 2 weeks of shopping.

We also booked the hotel for Maui for the honeymoon! It looks beautiful and I was able to get 6 nights on points, so we only have to pay for 2 nights there and the Big Island hotel. I'm getting the flights on miles when I get back from India too. So exciting!

My dad has the final contracts for the hotels. And now it's time for us to do invitations and get all the clothes, jewelry, favors, etc.! Wish me luck :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Focusing Inward

Ahhhh finally the weekend! Man, it has been a really crazy week at work and we’re taking it easy tonight. A walk in the park and maybe a movie or something. I had a really good workout yesterday and am still on a high from that. I've been craving fruit like crazy every day this week and actually look forward to my work outs now. I may actually get in shape after all :)

I have felt really anti-social the last few weeks. I just haven't felt like going out much, though I'm not sure why. It's probably because I'm eating healthy and not drinking. That's a lot easier to do when you have a routine and are only at work and at home. When you're out with friends, it's easy to be more compelled to indulge. I guess I want to spend this time focusing on myself and getting to a place I want to be, so I'm trying to reduce distractions.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and was complaining how I can't take any fun trips this summer because of the wedding. Then I realized I'm going to India, Austin/Dallas, San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Chicago before the wedding! MJ's friends plan a big camping trip every year, which I'm hoping to be able to make too. So there are plenty of fun trips to look forward to!

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently obsessed with One of the many emails they sent me was titled Living a Meaningful Life. It really struck me for some reason. I don't know what people would do that would make them feel they'd led a meaningful life, but I really miss volunteering. I used to do quite a bit of it in Austin, but it tapered off the more I traveled for work. But I have no excuse now and really miss it. I talked to MJ and we are going to make it a priority after the wedding. We have so much to be thankful for and both really want to give back. Of course I know it doesn't make sense until we've settled down after the wedding.

On the other hand, I still don't know how someone looks back on their life and thinks it was meaningful. Maybe if they made some huge contribution to society - like curing cancer or getting a Nobel peace price? But what about the average person? Being close to their kids and grand-kids? That seems rather fleeting. Otherwise it seems like all the things people do for fulfillment don't impact many people beyond themselves, which makes them less meaningful. Like running a marathon or traveling or making a certain amount of money. I suppose charitable works are the only way to lead a "meaningful" life?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Officially Engaged!

Last weekend my family drove and flew in for an engagement ceremony at MJ's parents house. It was the official Indian engagement, even though he proposed 4 months ago! 14 of my family members came in for the event. I was so touched! MJ's family had quite a few family friends there as well. They had redone the kitchen cabinets and counters, done some landscaping, and bought a new living room rug. It was a really nice ceremony and everyone had a good time. Lots of food and mingling and everyone looked so nice. MJ even surprised my brother with a birthday ice cream cake! There was even a cute moment where MJ got down on one knee to put my engagement ring on my finger again in front of everyone! Tee hee MJ and I thought it was good practice for the wedding - even though there were only about 30 people there, everyone was staring at us for the whole ceremony and there were probably 10 cameras/video cameras! Luckily I'd gotten my hair blow dried for the first time and tried to be as girly as possible by painting my toes and nails, and generally beautifying. My parents did so much work preparing for the event, so I'm glad it's over and everything went so smoothly.

I think we're going to sign a contract with a DJ this weekend. MJ has talked to the DJs and done all the research and it looks like we're going to go with the first one we ever talked to anyway!

I still never heard back from the decorator after we last met her. I sent her a final list of items we wanted and she never responded, despite multiple follow-ups. We're still hoping to be able to sign with her, but this isn't a good sign :(

My mom and I leave for India next Saturday (5/1). Hopefully the ash in Europe will be cleared up by then, since we're supposed to meet in Amsterdam and do the last leg together. I'm a bit overwhelmed by how much has to be done after we get back. We'll only have 3 months, but we'll need to send invitations, work on our first dance, register, find an apartment and move, take care of the legal marriage, book the honeymoon, and work through all the final details of the wedding day.

I'm still hoping to work a photo booth into the reception or cocktail hour. My brother has photo booth software on his laptop that we all played with when MJ and I were there a few weeks ago. We had such a blast! You can add your own backdrops and effects, so we were having a great time in my parents' living room, pretending to swim or climb the Eiffel Tower! I can just imagine how much fun our guests would have taking pictures of themselves. The hardest thing is to figure out how to make it work logistically. Do we have someone stand near the laptop and push the button for people? Do we strap it to a table of some kind and leave instructions for people? Do we create our own backdrop or use one of theirs? How do we ensure it's not stolen, dropped or has food spilled on it? We'll see if we can pull it together in time :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Watch it Go

I haven't updated in a while, but I am home sick (yes, again!) and thought this would be a good time to catch up.

In the last few weeks I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself about losing weight. I didn't make much progress in March, due to a lot of stress at work. But I've lost 6 lbs already this month and only through healthy means. It seems pretty obvious, but the crash diets and shortcuts don't work for me. I need to use a consistent method and stick to it. I've lost 14 lbs since the beginning of the year. I'd hoped to lose 20 by the end of this month, but am giving myself a bit of a reprieve because of March. My new target was 15, but I've already lost 14, so I'll be happy with anything more :)

In terms of the gym, I found that doing a fat burn mode on the eliptical where I use it for longer, on a higher resistance, but go slower, hurts my knee less and gives me a better overall workout. I had been planning to sign up with a personal trainer when I got back from India, but tried a group class on Saturday and loved it! I'm going to try to integrate at least 1-2 classes per week into my workout schedule. I'm actually starting to look forward to my workouts!

I've also joined a site called SparkPeople to help me in the process. It gives me recipes, workout tips, provides an online community, and has an iPhone app to track my food and calories burned. It's shown me that, as my personal trainer used to tell me last winter, I don't get enough calories in a day. It's counterintuitive, but I need to eat more to lose weight. I've still been eating small meals throughout the day, but trying to eat a little more often. It's also just a very positive site with a community of people that are going through the same struggles. So I get emails with healthy vegetarian recipes, easy exercises, motivational emails, and just general positive vibes!

My clothes are much looser, but not too big yet. Clothes that didn't fit before comfortably do now. So yay!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Down!

I think everyone's been a bit fried from the whirlwind weekends to DC where we meet with vendors like mad people, plan every minute we're awake, and do it all again the next day. So everyone independently suggested we take it a bit easier this weekend. So we didn't make any appointments on Sat afternoon and also decided to go see the cherry blossoms in DC on Sun morning. On Sat afternoon, my dad, my brother, MJ, and his brother went to the park. The men played tennis and I read my Kindle in the sun and talked on the phone. My mom even did some yard work at home. It was very nice and relaxing. And the weather was just gorgeous, so it really felt like spring!

In the biggest news, we signed with the photographer!!! This is only the second vendor we've actually signed with, so it's a pretty big deal. As you can tell from this blog, I've spent a considerable amount of energy on selecting a photographer and I'm very happy with our decision! They're called The Edge and they've done a ton of Indian weddings and also photographed at Rose Hill Manor. I like their style and they're reasonably priced. Their colors are sharp and the finish of the photos is very crisp. They also capture people in the room other than just the bride and groom, as well as artistic touches. So yay!! We've set our engagement photo session on 5/23 in NYC as well.

We met with the decorator we're planning to use as well. I was hoping to sign the contract, but we met her at her storage facility and she wasn't prepared with it. We've also made some changes, so she needs to update her quote. She's Hispanic, but she had SO much Indian stuff! She probably knows more about Indian weddings than I do! She had 9 units at a storage facility, a truck, and 2 vans for moving stuff around. She gets a ton of Indian wedding business and I can see why. Her stuff was very good quality and she knows what she's doing. (At one point her husband was taking out a Ganeshji statue to show us and she stopped him from putting it on the floor, because it was disrespectful!) So hopefully we can sign that contract soon as well.

The next big item on the list is the DJ. The first one we met with is still our best choice, but the rates for the projector and uplights seem to be a bit high, so we're comparing to some others as well. We'd like to get that taken care of before my mom and I leave for India, but we'll see. MJ is leading the DJ search and he's having a hard time getting responses from them.

My dad's been working with caterers, so that's in flight as well. Luckily, MJ and I don't need to have a lot of input there, so it can be done with or without us. This was my last planned trip to DC before we go to India, so we wanted to make sure everything that had to be signed early was taken care of. The other item I'll focus on when I get back is makeup/hair artists. I've been talking to a few and hopefully can meet with some when I get back.

Things are going to be busy though. We also need to register, work on our first dance, and find an apartment pretty soon after I get back. MJ and I had an interesting discussion while we were stuck in traffic yesterday that led me to think moving to Queens may not be such a bad idea. I've been dead set against it, but Long Island City has suddenly become rather appealing. It's cheaper than my neighborhood, much faster and easier to get into Manhattan, and on the water with a park and great views of the City. Quite a few of our friends also moved to Queens recently, so we'd have some friendly faces nearby. MJ made me realize that our social lives are going to be quite different after we get married. We'll be nesting much more and may be spending more time with family than friends. I guess, basically, we'll be building roots. I'm excited about setting up a home together and it'd be nice to have more space to do that in.

The 3 Day Blueprint Cleanse

Weds at 6 pm: It's kind of weird how little I've eaten all day and how unhungry I am. I've only had an OJ, a snack cup of apple sauce, some organic corn, a banana, an apple, and a few handfuls of peanuts. I had more food here that I could eat, but just didn't need it. I am, however, pretty tired. I feel like I could go to sleep now :) I've been reading so much to prep for the cleanse that I almost feel like I'm on it now and shouldn't be eating. LOL

That was how I felt before the cleanse started last Weds night. I had a grapefruit after that, but was so tired I went to bed early. Things went very well on Day 1. I actually felt really full, rather than hungry, all day from all the liquid in my tummy. The juices all tasted pretty good and I felt pretty much normal. MJ and I went on a walk in the park after work, which turned out to be a mistake, as I got dizzy halfway through and we had to hurry home so I could drink another juice. I just sat on the couch the rest of the night and was fine.

I worked from home on Friday, which was a really good decision. I got extremely weak and pretty nauseous in the early afternoon. There wasn't much I could do about it, as we had to drive to DC right at 5. MJ had cut some celery sticks for me (which is an approved cheat food) and I guiltily ate one in the car over. It helped with my weakness, but not my nausea. I felt progressively worse until I went to bed. Luckily I slept through the night.

I woke up feeling good on Saturday, but I had some celery sticks in the morning just in case, as we were meeting with the photographer. But, I got progressively worse around lunch time. The weakness became so bad I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. So finally, around 5 or so, I gave in and started eating solid foods. The funniest thing was that I didn't feel hunger any of the 3 days for more than a few minutes, but as soon as I ate 1 real item (some sprouts), I was STARVING. I was so hungry, even after I had some rice. However, even since then, I get fuller on smaller portions.

I definitely lost weight and feel more energetic. I'm also craving bad foods less and want to go to the gym more. I would do it again, but I think I would be more liberal with the suggested cheat foods earlier and I would follow their guidelines for prep instead of going overboard. The way I did it, I hadn't had a real meal or any starches in 5.5 days, which is too much all of a sudden and not even what they suggest.

I'll definitely be more prepared next time. Actually I'm trying to decide what to do next. Maybe I'll go back to water fasting 1 day per week. Or maybe I'll do another 3 day juice cleanse the week I get back from India, before our engagement pictures...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Weight Be Gone!

My parents are extremely different from one another. We've always known this. However, planning this wedding highlights their differences quite a bit. My dad's approach has been to set milestones and work towards them, in order to make decisions and move forward as quickly as possible. My mom's approach has been to do research, meet with vendors, and then discuss with as many people as possible to make the most informed decision. Basically, my dad is driving towards making decisions and my mom is working to make sure we're making the best decision that is backed by the most people. The two approaches don't necessarily work together seamlessly, so we had some issues in nailing down a schedule. But, they've been married for over 30 yrs, so they were able to work through it and get through to one another. I think the revised schedule is a compromise between both options we'd been discussing before (1. wedding, straight into cocktail hour, reception and 2. wedding, lunch, break where guests leave, cocktail hour, reception) and makes most people happy. The compromise is that we need to change the hotel that our guests will be staying at. But hopefully the new one will work well too. It's definitely better for the overall schedule and sanity of the wedding party and guests!

I've been frustrated with my inability to give losing weight the attention it needs. This past month has been particularly bad, as I've had an incredible amount of stress on many fronts and was really struggling. While I didn't actually gain much weight back, I definitely didn't lose the 5 lbs I wanted to in March. My knee is still messed up, but I'm trying to work through and do short amounts of time on different cardio machines to work through it and make time in the evenings to go after work, where my muscles are warmer. This means no social activities during the week, but I don't mind that as much as I thought I would. Things have gotten a bit better at work, which helps a lot with my stress level too.

Additionally, I'm starting a juice cleanse tomorrow. I'm doing the Blueprint Cleanse, which is very popular New York right now. Basically, you drink nothing but 6 fresh fruit & veggie juices each day for 3 days. (You can do it for more or less, but 3 is recommended.) It's supposed to help with removing toxins, losing weight, better skin, immune system, allergies, energy level, etc. I'm a bit nervous, but I used to fast and eat/drink nothing but water one day per week for a few yrs in high school and part of college. It was hard at first, but totally normal after that. I also did feel a lot healthier and had fewer cravings for bad food during the rest of the week. So I think 3 days will be tough, but I'm excited about the results. I feel like it'll get me more in touch with my body's needs and I may even be sick less...

To prepare for the cleanse, you're supposed to cut out meat, eggs, grains, dairy, etc., so I've had nothing but fruits, veggies, nuts, and beans since Monday. I haven't been that hungry (besides last night before bed, when I was starving and was seriously craving mac & cheese), but I am a bit tired. That could be more from not sleeping well with a mosquito attack and some temperature issues than my current diet though. Anyway, just in the prep time (i.e 2 days so far) I've lost 2.5 lbs! Woohoo! I'm finally on a downward trend of losing weight again.

The annoying part of the cleanse was scheduling it. You can only start on a Mon, Thurs, or Fri. Monday would be nice cuz you just do it at work every day and don't think about it much. But you'd have to prep all weekend. This Mon was the day after MJ's bday, so it would've been hard to prep before. I'll be in DC again this weekend and wasn't sure I'd be back in time to get the delivery and didn't want to wait 2 weeks. Friday kinda sucks cuz you're doing it the whole weekend and everyone's eating around you, so it would affect your social schedule. Thurs sucks, but it seemed like the only option. So I'm going to be juicing on Friday when we drive to DC and on Saturday while my mom's cooking yummy foods that everyone's happily enjoying. Sigh... Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Photojournalistic? Candid? Formal? What?

So, when I was home last weekend, we discussed the photographer. I've realized this is one thing that I do feel a bit princessy about. Because so many people who mean so much to us are coming from far and wide to wish us well and celebrate with us, I want some beautiful images of the day. I won't be able to take it all in and I want to remember every moment forever. I also want some nice portraits of MJ & I together, since that will really mark the beginning of our lives together. That being said, photographers are expensive! Much more so than we expected. My dad had originally budgeted $2k for photography, since the one person we'd talked to at that point charged that much. But none of the ones I've looked at start at less than $3k and that's for the most minimum package. We need at least 10 hours of coverage, so we definitely need more than the minimum. My dad and my mom also don't agree on whether we need professional coverage for the mehndi and sangeet in the days before or our family/friends pics are enough.

On top of the hours of coverage, I'm convinced we need at least two photographers on site. I don't think one will be enough to capture everything that will be going on, especially during the bharat and reception.

Then I want to make sure we get all the digital images. I found out some photographers say they give you the images, but they're just proofs. I want the high resolution files that I can print in any size. My thought process is that I can make an album or canvas myself, even get them printed in India for cheap. My brother can do it on his Mac. Why pay thousands of dollars to a photographer to get an album printed? ...But I do want them to digitally correct the photos. Most do this, but it's something to ask. They only go through and remove blemishes and Photoshop a small percentage or none at all, but they usually will color correct, white balance, and density correct all.

To make matters more complicated, I wanted to do an engagement shoot and MJ and I really want to do it in NYC. We love NY and DC doesn't hold the same special meaning to us. So we also wanted to find someone who would give us an engagement shoot for free (or cheap) and would travel to New York for cheap to do it. Ideally, they would've shot here before, but let's not get carried away...

Probably the most important thing is style. I like an artistic, photojournalistic style, but MJ and my mom noted that someone these photographers were too "in your face," in that the images were so zoomed in you couldn't get the feel of the whole day. You couldn't see anyone other than the bride and groom in any pics. You had no idea how many people were there, were they laughing or crying, was anyone around when the bride was getting ready, etc. So we need a good balance.

And they need to have shot Indian weddings before. This experience will be invaluable, as it could be overwhelming if it was their first time. We also want them to be able to capture the moments that are meaningful in our tradition, which may not be obvious unless you've been there before.

So I went on a hunt for the perfect photographer. I've looked at hundreds of sites, gotten recommendations from friends, co-workers, blogs, other photographers, etc. I've mostly emailed and talked on the phone, but we finally met some in person this weekend. It's basically all we did this weekend. My family met with 5 and MJ & I are meeting 1 in NYC tonight. We're now thinking we may want to get an album in addition to the digital images.

It's amazing how much of a difference meeting in person makes. One that I wasn't that interested in before the meeting is probably our favorite right now. They were very professional, friendly, had great quality images & albums, have photographed many Indian weddings, and have photographed at Rose Hill Manor many times. They're also very cost effective for the wedding day. However, they're very pricey for the 2 days prior and, I suspect, for the engagement shoot.

I'm also really glad my whole family went to each of the appointments. Everyone had different perspectives on each of the photographers, which helps us all to make a decision. My dad pointed out that the photographer I thought would be my favorite didn't show the same creativity in his Indian shoots as his non-Indian. So, even though he had an amazing style, we wouldn't necessarily get that in our images.

The hunt is still on, but it's consumed me the past few weeks. We're probably not getting a videographer, so the photography is going to be key in remembering the event. We've also been discussing getting a digital slideshow and maybe even a photo booth! Fingers crossed we find the perfect one soon! (I want to get engagement pics done before my mom and I go to India!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Making Major Progress

This may seem fairly obvious, but I think that the wedding planning process starts to prepare a couple for being married. You're forced to talk about serious issues we all tend to shy away from when we're just dating - family, money, life's priorities, etc. That being said, MJ has been amazing the last few weeks. We've had some tough discussions and are still struggling to get used to talking about them. However, he amazes me. He's such a level-headed man who has shown me time and again he's ready to stand next to me as my husband. Now, that sounds super cheesy and a few of you may have even gone "awwwwww," but I assure you we're not a roses and candlelit couple. We're pretty much always goofy and he loves to irritate me constantly. But, isn't life with someone who makes you laugh and can respond to life in a mature manner what it's all about?

I've also been trying to use this wedding planning time to learn more about MJ's family. Of course I know them and have spent a fair amount of time with them, but I want to know more! I want to understand what it's like to be a part of their family. Since I'm going to be joining it in a few months, I want to know how they celebrate holidays, how they fight with each other, what they do on birthdays, etc. It's been interesting and the thought of being a part of a family other than my own is so hard to imagine, let alone prepare for. But I'm trying! :)

In weight loss news, I've lost 9 lbs and allowed myself a cheat day. In that one day, where I did not go overboard, I gained back 2. Grr! I hate my metabolism. And my busted knee for not allowing me to work out!!

Unfortunately for wedding planning, I've been slammed at work. One of my co-managers had to take a leave of absence in Brazil for personal reasons and, instead of replacing him, I took on his projects. So, instead of leading 2 projects, I'm leading 5 with 2 teams I haven't worked with before. That hasn't been great for the time I can spend on wedding researching, talking to vendors, and overall planning. Luckily, I can still continue to look at photographers and makeup artists in the evenings. More on that in the future.

So, MJ and I left in a whirlwind after work on Friday and drove to DC for a weekend of wedding preparations with my parents and brother. We were all up until 2 am discussing some items. It was good to have my dad able to talk directly to MJ. Otherwise, I'm usually the go-between when they have questions and I'm sure some things get lost in translation. We discussed the engagement ceremony, decorator approach, and the event schedule.

On Sat afternoon, we were supposed to sign the contract with the decorator we met with last time I went to DC. But one of the caterers recommended another one to my dad this week who was supposed to be the cheapest in the local industry. So we booked appointments with both decorators in the same day, figuring we'd know better what we wanted to do after we met with the new one.

Our schedule on Saturday was jam-packed! I started the morning with a work call at 8:30, then we met with the new decorator at 9. She came to the house and showed us her previous designs. She was a very quiet Hispanic lady, but she had done many Indian weddings and had even worked at our venue multiple times. Our general impressions were that she could definitely do the work, but we would have to come up with the ideas ourselves. She wasn't as much of a designer as a doer, but that may not be such a bad thing, since my mom has so many ideas and the venue is already very beautiful and doesn't need much to make it beautiful. The best part was that she was almost half the price of the other decorator and was giving us more (a welcome arch, crystal strings on the centerpieces, etc.). So we decided to cancel the contract signing with the first decorator to give us time to think through the decision.

After rushing her out at 10, we rushed to meet with a DJ at 10:30. He had some great ideas and was very professional, but was expensive than we expected. He got us more excited about the lighting as well. He's a friend of a friend, so he said he plans to give us a considerable discount, but we don't know how much yet.

We then rushed from there to meet MJ's brother and the owner at a restaurant for potential catering options. The food was absolutely amazing and the presentation was also really great. The owner also had some dishes specially made for us and didn't even charge us for everything we ordered.

Then we were off to the venue. I was so excited that MJ was finally going to see it!!! It was even better that MJ's brother would be there as well. In fact, I'd only seen it once and it was on a terrible rainy day, so I was pretty excited too. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we went straight to the back to look at the patio and pool area. We spent almost 2 hours going over the details of the entire day, in the back, inside, and in the front. We got some more ideas for decorations and for the flow of the guests. The owner of the venue was also there and he had some great ideas and was so helpful. He created a suggested floor plan for us and our vendors to use as well. MJ and his brother loved the venue and MJ said seeing it was the highlight of the trip. I forgot how beautiful the space is...

After the venue, we went to see the hotel (Hampton Inn) closest to the venue for MJ's family to potentially use for their guests. But, after seeing it and talking to them again about their rates, we weren't as convinced it made sense. Then we went to the hotel (Hyatt Place) in Sterling, VA that my family was planning to use for our guests. The rooms and lobby are much nicer, but the rate is half of what we were getting at the Hampton Inn! So we decided to explore sharing the hotel across both families. MJ is going to ask his parents about it when they get back from India and my dad is going to negotiate with the hotel accordingly. There are a few things we need to include if we share the hotel, like a meeting room for MJ's family and extra shuttles that we wouldn't if it was just our side.

After the hotels, we picked up groceries and went home around 5. Soon after, my family came over for dinner. Some of them hadn't met MJ before, so it was a bit of an occasion. But it went well and everyone had fun. Unfortunately, we were all exhausted and everyone left around 11. I think we all slept like rocks that night!!

So we made a lot of progress this weekend. This morning we took it a bit easy. My parents, MJ, and me took a walk in the sun to a nearby lake and just chatted. It was nice seeing MJ interact with my family all weekend. This was the first time we'd been there since we got engaged and it felt nice to see everyone together. It helped to envision us all as one family :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Say Cheese!

I spent the whole weekend looking for photographers. I talked to four of them and emailed countless ones. I finally also put together a spreadsheet to track the options with all the factors. I'm really annoyed to find out that the two I really wanted are both from Canada and out of our price league. But we found a few that are close to our range and local, so hopefully something will work out. Everyone says to splurge on the photographer because those are the images that are going to last and to make you remember the day, but they're also so expensive. Ideally I'd want pictures that are artistic but also include family and friends. One option we're considering is getting an artsy engagement session in New York and then a typical Indian photographer in DC. The wedding photos will be more typical and staged, but at least we'll have something to remember the day by and I'll still get some arty shots of MJ and I. Not ideal, but it's definitely an option.

I've also been looking for makeup artists. Prices range so much - between $120 and $2000! It's also pretty hard for me to judge good makeup artists from pictures of people I never saw before they had the makeup on. It's also hard not to let the quality of the photography impact your impressions. My mom also prefers finding someone who does both hair and makeup, which it seems is not as common.

I've been telling my parents I want them to give a little speech at the reception, which my dad's been pretty adamant he didn't want to do. My response last weekend was "at least I'm sparing you a father-daughter dance." To which he responded, "I want to do that." My entire family was so shocked! Apparently he actually wants to do a father-daughter dance. I don't think I've ever danced with my father in my entire life, so I assumed he wouldn't want to do this one. But, lo and behold, he does! I'm extremely touched. The only problem is that I tend to cry at other people's father-daughter dances (even people I don't know), so I may have trouble holding it together during my own! LOL

I mentioned that last weekend my family went to an Indian tasting event. It was interesting, though there were very few vendors there. During the event, my dad started realizing our guest list may be increasing and Rose Hill Manor may not be able to hold us. So afterwards, my parents, brother and I sat down and went through the entire thing again. We realized it would probably work with a few minor adjustments. I was so glad because the other venue, Fox Chase Manor, seemed so much more typical than Rose Hill Manor. It felt like a hotel inside and looked strip mallish outside. There were also no beautiful grounds surrounding it. Phew! Crisis averted!

The guest list is a bit of a double-edged sword. You want everyone to come, but you can't go over a certain limit with the venue and each attendee costs more from a food perspective. It seems like so much of my family will be able to come though, even internationally. It makes it feel real hearing about people attending from India, London, Amsterdam, New Zealand, Australia, etc. I get excited thinking about all these people being there just to celebrate us! I can't wait!

As so much of the family will be coming and our events will start a few days before the event, my dad also suggested we get a hotel closer to my parents' house than the wedding venue. We'll just need to arrange for transportation from the hotel to the venue, which we were planning to do anyway. My brother has found some good options for transportation too. MJ's family will probably still get a hotel near the wedding venue, as that makes the most sense for their guests.

Bachelorette party planning has also started! Fun!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Starting to See the Vision

As I said, I finally started feeling better on Wednesday. I still worked from home and didn't do anything in the evening, but returned to work on Thursday. And, man, was there a lot waiting for me! It was a very busy day and I really wasn't feeling 100% yet. Then we had a going away dinner for my co-worker and I met some friends at a book-signing afterwards. I didn't get home until 12:30 and was exhausted! I was still feeling overwhelmed on Friday, had a networking event after work, dinner with MJ, then met another co-worker and his fiance for drinks. AND I had a 7:30 train to DC on Sat morning for a packed weekend of wedding planning! Not much time to catch my breath.

I hadn't been doing much wedding stuff recently, due to the co-op purchasing activities, but my family has continued with full steam. So this weekend we met decorators went to an Indian bridal tasting event. We found a decorator we really like and are working to agree upon the contract now. Hearing her ideas and her description of how the day would look started to make it seem real. I started to finally get excited about the day because I can't wait to see it. Right now it's all words and pictures, but it'll be awesome to see everything come together!

The decorating company advertises themselves as a mother-daughter team. The mother started the company 26 yrs ago and specializes in flowers, while the daughter is 30 and has taken over the decorating. It's interesting interacting with an ABCD in the wedding industry. I've heard that it's becoming more common, which makes sense, since the local wedding markets are full of brides who are also ABCDs. It's somewhat comforting talking to someone who understands the traditions, but has the same aesthetic. (She was SOOO much better than the other decorator, who just sat there waiting for me to tell her exactly what I want. I also suspect most of her images were stolen, especially since she kept alluding to the fact that all decorators did the same thing.)

The other big thing this week was that I sent the Save the Date out! We've gotten great feedback and I think MJ is probably going to use the same one for his side as well. I'm really happy with how it turned out!

I've also been spending a lot of time and energy looking for photographers. We realized our budget was too low for photographers, so we've increased it, but it's still hard to find someone. I've heard from quite a few people that you should find photographers based on recommendations, but we don't know that many people in the area. I'm planning on spending most of Saturday talking with different photographers that I've already been communicating with over email and whose websites I've combed thoroughly. I guess you can only tell so much over a website though. One of my requirements is that they've done at least one wedding with Indians, so that they have an idea of our traditions and what's important to us. But I still really like the artsy, photojournalist look. Unfortunately, so does everyone else, so it's pretty expensive. ;)

My weight loss endeavors have been less than fruitful. I'm still at -7 lbs, which is nothing. I'm having a lot of issues with going to the gym due to my knee. MJ got me a yoga ball at home, which has helped, but it's not enough. The ironic thing is that this week both my dad and a co-worker commented that I look like I've lost weight! Another contributing factor to my inability to go to the gym is that I was having issues sleeping last week, as I was having quite a few nightmares. However, I talked them out with MJ, did some research on why I may be having them, and things seem to have calmed down. In fact, lately I've been having good dreams about engagement portraits and getting together with family!

One sad thing is that, the day before we were to sign the contract for the co-op we liked, we decided to retract our offer. My dad and Maneesh convinced me that it's not the right buy. We found out on Friday that we effectively couldn't rent it out, which basically means we'd have to sell if we wanted to move. And we may lose money if we want to sell in less than 7-10 years, given the market and economy (my dad printed out some scary articles to drive his point home), but the place is probably too small to be there for that long. Especially with the possibility of kids at some point in the next few years. Also, we haven't lived together yet, so we don't really know what we need from a space yet. So, basically, it was the right thing to do. But it makes me sad because I was really really really looking forward to building a home with my husband. MJ and I talked about it yesterday and he's assured me we'll get a nice apartment and we'll still make it a home for us. So I definitely feel a bit better.
Btw, I was totally wrong about Committed. It's not that great and kind of freaks me out with all the statistics about why marriage is so awful :(

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feeling Good Again... Finally

Ahhhhhhhhhh I feel like I'm letting out a long-held deep hot breath of negativity and breathing in cool winds of much needed positive energy. I've been sick and bummed and just generally no fun for a while and today I woke up feeling... refreshed, reenergized, happy. Go team! (Imagine me thrusting my fist into the air as I say that, because I literally did just that this morning. Oh yeah!)

I don't know why. Nothing changed. I was so pissed at the medical profession yesterday, and was so exhausted that I had to take a taxi home from work (I finally went in for a half day). But it may have something to the fact I was up and around for the first time in almost a week, and actually talking to humans other than MJ. I even talked to my mom and my best friend about wedding stuff for as long as my aching throat would allow.

Both of them have been looking for styles of wedding outfits for me (so nice!). There are so many, but the websites are really terrible. They don't show enough detail, enough views, or even enough options. It's really overwhelming, especially when you don't have a specific idea in your head. Even just basic things like the color to wear are so confusing. First, the wedding - ok, Indian brides wear red, right? No biggie! Wrong - there are so many shades and you can go pinker or more magenta or more maroon. Oi! And the reception? The options are endless! And the decision drives the colors for the reception and the accents on the groom's clothes. So much to think about! Then you have to think how heavy it should be, how modern, how revealing, how showy. Indian brides in India tend to wear more blingy clothes than Indian brides in America. I suspect I'm more conservative than most as well. But I also HATE shopping, so I wish I just knew what I wanted and we could just get it sewn there. LOL

My mom also told me that my favorite cousin and her entire family are planning to come from India for the wedding! I'd really hoped they would, but my mom told me last week they may not be able to. So it was really nice to hear that she'd be there - it wouldn't feel like my wedding without her. She's really like a sister to me and, as I've noted before, I'm realizing more and more how important my family is in this whole process. I hope everyone can make it!

So, in terms of weight loss, this month has not been as successful as last. I want to lose 5 lbs/month and I lost 6 last month. But, in February, I've only lost .5 so far :( Mainly due to the engagement celebrations, then getting sick. I'm hoping to make it back to the gym on Fri morning. Fingers crossed.
My brother also found out that Gmail now allows you to embed images in emails through a feature in Google Labs. So we're all set to send out the Save the Date! It looks great! I'm thinking of sending it this Sunday, as it'll be exactly 6 months before the wedding date. Scary, eh?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Those Who Surround Us

MJ noted that my last post didn't have the same enthusiastic voice my previous ones have had. And I guess that's because I have been pretty down this week. I'm sick again, which is particularly frustrating because I've been eating so healthy and taking vitamins every day. And just as my knee was getting better and I was ready to hit the gym hardcore, I'm out sick again.

And, probably a bigger contributor, I've been saddened by a number of people close to me in the past few weeks. I tend to care too much about people, so it hits me a bit harder than it should. And that's where the last paragraph from my last post originated - I'm realizing these pains will no longer be just mine, but will be MJ's as well. Of course we'll continue to have our own friends, but the people we choose to have in our lives will contribute to a shared environment. We both care greatly for our family and friends and want to continue to cultivate all of these relationships. But, when you're making time for a new marriage, each other's families, and each other's friends in addition to your own family and friends, we'll just have to let go of some things and some people. Which is really sad for me. Like I said, I care too much about people, so seeing them go is not easy. To give you an example, I'm in consulting, so we change projects every few months. It took me years before I didn't get teary-eyed when someone would leave a project. I still get emotional when I, myself leave one, because I just get attached to the people I work with. And these are just co-workers! ;)

On the other hand, some people have really surprised me in a positive way as well. And, again, looking around the room at our engagement party and seeing so many people who have been a part of our relationship and each of our lives celebrating this moment was amazing. It made me realize we will not be in this alone and that we go into this next phase in our lives with good friends and family standing beside us, though they may not be who we always expected to be there. I know it's somewhat cheesy, but it means a lot when we're dealing with the stresses of wedding planning and house-buying on top of the usual daily stresses. Knowing that people are in this with us and are wishing us the best helps to not be overwhelmed. If it felt that way seeing 30 people toasting us, I can't imagine how it will feel seeing 200 people at our wedding!!! Maybe MJ's right - I would regret it one day if we didn't have an actual wedding...

In terms of wedding planning, I've been looking at designs for wedding outfits and for photographers. There is such a wide range for both. They both seem so expensive too. I've seen a few outfits I liked, but mostly think I'd need to try them on to really know how they look. The way they have models sit in these pictures, you can barely see the outfits! The photographers vary so much in style as well. I'm drawn to the more artsy look, but I'm not sure it captures the overall event as well. Also, I suspect less people attending would be captured in these types of photographs, and I would want to remember everyone there. I finally saw a videographer I really liked, but it was insanely expensive for a 30 min film. For those of you who are married, do you ever watch the wedding video? I feel like you can use the pictures to decorate your house or send to family, but what do you do with the video? My family always took a bunch of home videos growing up and we've rarely watched any of them.

As I type this, MJ's at the place we have an offer on with an engineer, getting it inspected! I hope everything comes up clean, especially since it's so old. We're so excited about this place, but trying not to get our hopes up. MJ's been surprised how uninterested I am in the finances of the whole home-buying process. Luckily, he's been doing his research! I hope we get this place. It's supposed to be featured in the New York Times this Sunday, which may throw a wrench in our planning, but would be a cool keepsake if it doesn't!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Well the engagement party was a great success! Everyone seemed to have a really great time and the weekend with my best friend and her husband was so much fun. (Our brothers couldn't make it in because of the insane snow storm.) It was really nice to see an entire room full of our loved ones so happy for us. The space at Pravda was also really great and the staff was good to us. We did a champagne toast with everyone, which was so great... except one thing. All of a sudden, everyone expected us to give an actual toast. You know, like a speech. Of course MJ just started giggling, so I had to come up with something. I'm absolutely terrible with public speaking and I believe that thoroughly showed through. I told MJ we should start planning ahead for these things because I suspect these unexpected shining moments of public speaking will be making their appearance again over the next few months.

We had planned to go to DC next weekend so MJ could finally see the venue and I could talk with my parents about all the planning, but with how fast things are moving with the co-op they were thinking of coming down here to see the place. But, with the crazy snow storms in both NYC and DC, I (and my mom) suspect there will be no travel in either direction. But I'm definitely going the weekend after (MJ has a bachelor party) for a tasting and to meet with decorators.

I honestly haven't done much with wedding planning. My family's in DC and completely snowbound. MJ and I, on the other hand, have been focusing on house-hunting in the mean time. Actually, it's more like house-buying :) We found a fantastic co-op in a real 120-yr old Park Slope brownstone that's renovated and in our price range. It's a good size and has lots of natural light. Our offer was accepted on Saturday before the party, so we're now dealing with mortgage brokers, lawyers, inspection engineers, etc. All very adult! The process is very complicated, but I really hope we get the place!

Speaking of being adult, I'm starting to realize what a heavy thing getting married is. It's not just the next phase in our relationship, it really is the next phase in our lives. I feel a kind of gravity about having to act with maturity and make decisions that are right for me and my future husband. It's a bit overwhelming, but exciting nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Becoming a Bride

So things have been MUCH better since my spoiled brat moment last weekend. In fact, it made me realize how great MJ and I are together, which has made me very full of love for him since our fight :) It's really nice being with someone who always makes you smile, and gets your crazy moments, but loves you anyway.

I had an "a-ha!" moment this past weekend though. All my married friends have told me "You don't think you'll care about the details, but you'll see. You'll end up caring so much about the smallest things." So I've been working on the Save the Date and website and was showing it to my family and MJ for their input. MJ asked if the website could have music and I'd totally forgot to add it. But I had no idea of what song to put on! And that was when it happened - I could care less what song went on the site, but since I had to pick one, I wanted it to be a good one. that represented us, was romantic, but not cheesy, not too spirited, etc. And I realized it was happening to me! I don't care what song it is, but since I have to pick one, it has to be good. I ended up spending an hour trying to find a song and ended up on one that is super-cheesy, not at all us, and I'm not even sure I like! I was just so irritated with the process! MJ even said "we can always add music later," but I wanted the site to look great right when we launched it. Any suggestions are welcome. (not including Empire State of Mind, which has already been rejected!)

I'd been trying to decide whether or not we should have bridesmaids and groomsmen in the wedding. I like the way they look in weddings and know MJ's very close to his friends, but it's not necessarily Indian tradition. I've heard a lot of varying opinions, but have finally decided not to. Seeing and hearing the responses over the last month, I'm realizing even more how important family is, especially during a wedding and subsequent marriage. My family has been absolutely ecstatic for me. They've been calling and emailing, even Facebooking MJ! (My cousin even offered to host our engagement party at his place!) Relatives are planning on coming for the wedding from all over the world. I've been so incredibly touched. Their overwhelming response from my family has made me realize they are much more a part of this event than my friends, who of course have their own lives and priorities. At the end of the day, the event is about us actually joining each other's families, so it only makes sense that it should be about them.

Of course our engagement has been really special to some of our friends as well. We received an actual engagement gift last week! It was so adult and unexpected! And, as I said, I'm ridiculously excited and touched that my best friend and her husband are flying in for our engagement party. Just general happiness all around! I need to get my hands on some awesome thank you cards :)

MJ and I have been discussing our first dance as well. He wants to do something a bit unorthodox, but I'm not sure if it will look unclassy. (And, no, I'm not telling you what it is, because it's going to be a surprise if we do!) His point is that the first dance should be about us and what we feel comfortable with. So, ya, he's basically saying, we're not classy, why should we pretend to be for some froofy dance?

The Save the Date is almost done too. We're just figuring out the best way to send it out. I'll post it here when we're done. I do feel a bit bad because I took the photo off the internet and it's probably someone's work. Part of me says it's wrong to steal from an artist. Another part of me says they're a chump for not protecting it on the internet, so it's fair game. I'm going to listen to that part of me because I'm not creative or talented enough to make one myself...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Honeymoon Hullabaloo

The big discussion this past weekend was about the honeymoon. Destination, dates, how we'll get there, where to spend money, what to do, etc. I have to admit that I had one of my least attractive moments in our relationship during one of these conversations. In my defense, I'm completely obsessed with travel and basically live for the next trip. And it just felt like what I wanted wasn't mattering to anyone and the honeymoon was the one thing I could be a spoiled brat about. So I was...

First, we started looking into destinations and it became clear that none of the places I'd suggested made sense from a weather perspective. They were either going to be too wet or too cold for us to really enjoy the beaches or travel around the towns. We're also likely to visit Australia/New Zealand in the future since MJ’s cousin lives in New Zealand. It's also easy to add Thailand/Bali onto a future India trip. So, we went through the list and Hawaii became more and more attractive. I finally caved into MJ and agreed that we would go there. Now, I know it will be amazing and I will eat my words, but it wasn't where I'd always dreamed of going. It's so typical - SOOO many people go there for their honeymoons (and I know you're thinking 'well there must be a reason for that...'). And it's not as exotic or far away. But, MJ is right - we'll get to do it in a way we'll never get to again and it has everything - amazing beaches, mountains, culture, city life, remote islands, romance, views, history, and (most important to him) volcanoes! His face just lights up when he thinks about going to a volcano. I think even if I didn't like Hawaii I'd have the time of my life going with oh-so-super-excited MJ!

On top of the destination discussion, I'd kept saying we'd use my miles to go first class. But, when we searched, we discovered it would take all of my Delta miles plus half my AmEx points. Now, this is exactly what those points are for and MJ never said we should use them, but I became really sad about it. Afterwards I realized I was more upset because I've gotten so spoiled with the constant influx of miles I used to get from years of traveling every week for work that this is a huge blow. It's also hard spending them all in one place when I've basically hoarded them for so long and almost never used them on myself. But, again, a totally bratty response.

As I mentioned before, I'd wanted a 3 week honeymoon, which got cut down to 2 because of the reality of taking time off of work. Luckily, the 2 weeks ended on Labor Day, so I figured we could get in like 16 days. But, as we started looking at flights, we discovered we really couldn't leave until 8/22 evening or 8/23 morning. Then, Maneesh realized he had a really close family friend's wedding this summer that he had to attend. The first wedding is July 4th weekend, which is a big family weekend (of my family) and he'd feel bad missing it. The other wedding (they were having two) is on 9/4. So the only option was to come back a few days early from the honeymoon to make it to the wedding. So... instead of 8/22 - 9/6 (which I begrudgingly had accepted), we'd only be there 8/23 - 9/3!! I realize that this is not a huge deal in the long run because it's still a whole 12 days and it will be an unforgettable trip, but I got really upset at the time. I have dreamed about my honeymoon my whole life and wanted it to last forever. I wish reality didn't get in the way!

Now I realize the last few paragraphs don't paint a flattering picture of me. But I'm including them here for two reasons: 1. I want to be honest to you, my dear reader, and that includes about my own faults. and 2. I actually learned from my bratty episode :)

I have spent most of my life taking care of myself. I decide what I want to do, rationalize it to myself, and do what I can to make it happen. Heck, at work, I only have to do the first 2 and then tell other people to do what they can to make it happen! LOL just kidding! So, if I want to go to Hawaii for 3 weeks, I figure out a way to go to Hawaii for 3 weeks. When I wanted to live in Europe for a year, I even found a way to get my company to pay for me to live there and travel back to the US every 2 months. But things are going to be different now. Not that MJ doesn't do every single thing in his power to make me utterly happy, but my decisions are no longer my own, they are "ours." I'm no longer the only person effecting my decisions or what I do. And, likewise, my decisions and brattiness affect someone else. (The fact that my bratty episode about using points made MJ say he didn't want to go to Hawaii any more was just terrible!)

These are probably obvious lessons to many of you, especially those of you who are married, but the actual living of it was new to me. MJ and I have been very happy together and have been very successful in balancing our needs in our relationship. But changing my long-awaited honeymoon plans to accommodate his real life needs and using my carefully harvested points on someone other than my family triggered some instinctual "I don't wanna!" reaction in me. And realizing I didn't have the power to change the things standing in my way was eye-opening. The whole idea of it being "our" decision was so new and different than it was when we were dating. We will no longer have the option of making decisions about where to live, what to do on holidays, when to vacation, how much to spend on a car, etc. independently of one another. All these decisions are now "our's," not "his" or "mine."

So, at the end of the day, we will be spending “our” points to spend 12 days in Hawaii on “our” honeymoon. And I’m honestly really excited and can’t wait to spend it with MJ :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Venue and Date Booked

So, unfortunately, my mom got very sick last week, so MJ and I couldn't go to Reston. Besides being concerned about her, it was too bad because MJ couldn't see the venue and it was our last chance to talk through things with my dad before he left for a 2 week trip to Germany. But the good news is we agreed on a contract with the venue last week and booked Rose Hill Manor for August 21st! And my parents talked to the pandit in Austin we wanted and he's available as well!

The pandit is actually a family friend we've known for a very long time. My mom was very close to him and his wife (she used to call my mom her other daughter), but his wife recently passed away. He conducts weddings for most of our family friends in Austin and is very good - the perfect blend of religious gravity and inclusion of non-Hindus. As an added benefit, he's Marathi, like MJ's family! So they're really happy that he'll know their traditions as well.

Another side effect of my mom getting sick is that we put the Save the Date on hold until she was better to give an opinion. I don't mind the picture thing as much anymore and we're still looking around for the right look. I want it to look Indian, but kind of through a Western artsy lens. Hopefully we'll get it ready soon. The other thing I've been realizing lately is that most couples seem to put a picture of themselves on their Save the Date, something I hadn't even thought of. That puts an added level of pressure on it, because we'd have to find the right type of picture and then also make sure we both look good. Or we take a new one to send out, which will definitely make us both nervous!
Speaking of pictures, our really good friend, who's an amazing photographer, agreed to take some engagement pictures of us. Unfortunately, the weather's been so gross that it hasn't been possible. I'm really looking forward to it though, as I think they'll be so personal and beautiful! A lot of people also recommend getting engagement portraits done by your wedding photographer before the wedding, so that they can get to know the couple better and you can use the pics at the wedding for display and to add personal touches. So I've also started researching photographers.

In other fantastic news, I've already lost 4.5 lbs since MJ and I got engaged!!! And this is after only going to the gym once! I've just changed my eating habits and it made that much of a difference. I still have a very long way to go, but it's very motivating. Unfortunately, I seem to have sprained my knee on Saturday, so the full force gym action is a little slower than expected. I went this morning and had to hobble home in pain after a lackluster workout. I'm trying to convince MJ it's ok to take Alli to help me lose weight, but he's dead set against it. I'm not even sure if I would, but it would be nice to have some help, especially as a vegetarian.

We've also started condo hunting in my neighborhood. We're not sure whether we should look for a 2 bedroom or a large 1 bedroom, though we're leaning towards the latter, especially if it has a den/office space we could use for guests if needed. We figure we'll be staying there for 3-5 years, so it's not like we need to find the place we plan on staying in forever and raising kids in it or anything. Kids? Yikes! Let's take it one step at a time!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let the Discussions Begin

I am SUPER excited that my best friend and her husband are flying in for our engagement party! I know I can't expect this kind of stuff all the time, but I can still be really excited when it happens :) It makes me feel super-special and even more excited about the party! I'm so touched!

I mentioned in my last post that my family discussed the wedding quite a bit last weekend. It was interesting that some of the things that one of us was taking for granted wasn't so obvious to every one else. One good example was that I wanted to take pictures after the wedding. I think this is probably the Western influence in me, but I figured if I spend more than an hour getting ready, I should have some frame-worthy portrait type shots. We're also not doing engagement pictures or anything. On the other hand, my dad was even surprised I'd need to change clothes between the wedding and reception! This makes sense, because in India there's traditionally only one outfit and the wedding and reception kind of blend into one another. This also led to a decision of whether to do the wedding and reception right after one another or to give guests a break to change, then come back. I can't recall an Indian wedding in the US that didn't give people a break, but, again, it's not traditionally how it's done in the Motherland.

Another good example was the gift discussion. I remembered that my mom had mentioned in the past that she didn't like gift registries, so I asked what she thought we should do. My parents both replied that they didn't think we should get gifts. Not "no boxed gifts," but no gifts altogether. I was really surprised as I'd never heard of that at any wedding. My mom thought that if we didn't ask for gifts, only really close people would bring something and it would be from the heart. I disagreed and thought if we didn't say anything people would either bring whatever they wanted or cash. I really want to avoid waste and thought if people brought whatever they wanted, it would lead to duplicate items or things we wouldn't/couldn't use. Then you feel bad getting rid of it because it's a wedding gift, but you now have 10 gravy boats and no coffee maker or whatever. So the "no gifts" idea didn't seem practical. None of us liked the "no boxed gifts" option where people only bring cash, though it is getting more and more popular and is definitely the most practical. (No judgment, but asking for cash just seems a bit cold to me.) I figured we do need items to set up a "home" and it would be nice to look around and remember the loved ones who gave them to you. My mom's point was that, if you do a registry, who cares who paid for it, you picked it out! LOL Fun discussions!

Colors have also made for interesting discussion. I had wanted to use mustard and deep purple as my reception colors because they were Indiany, but totally different. But, apparently, purple is considered inauspicious, so that's out. I just didn't want to use the standard red and gold that's used at most Indian weddings. Unfortunately, my mom is pulling the auspicious card, and thinks the reception should be red and yellow. LOL I also made a great (electronic) save the date that was an artsy black & white photo of an Indian bride with red script on it. I absolutely loved it and sent it to my family. I was so excited to hear what they'd have to say about how cool it was! The first comment back? It'd be better if it was colorful.

Actually I was kind of sad about the last one. I'm finding the things I've been most interested in are the venue and the electronic stuff. The latter means the Save the Date, the website, and the slideshow so far. I know my brother will do an awesome job with the slideshow, but I'm afraid the Save the Date will end up being pretty typical and the website will be too formal. But we'll see. And the venue really is awesome! I ended up having to scrap the first website I created, because they ( put a massive banner at the bottom when other people look at it, which was annoying. I've decided to go with instead. Though it's not as Indian looking, they do online RSVPs for free and have flash intros and lots of cool free aps. We'll see if I end up changing it again. I've gone through MANY options.