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...