Sunday, August 30, 2009

How Mariee lost my business

Last year, Amanda and I sat in our editing class which consisted of a few things: 1. not editing 2. making fun of our dumb classmates and 3. looking at wedding stuff.

It was in that class that I found Drew, a dress fromPriscilla of Boston. This line is, by far, the classiest of all the wedding designers. I searched high and low for dresses that were gorgeous in their simplicity and hushed detail. I am not one for rhinestones, jewels, bows, fluff, tiaras, trains or any of that nonsense. I am not Cinderella and my wedding is not a ball. My sister Annelise's wedding however ... that's another story.

While looking for bridal stores carrying the Priscilla of Boston lines, my mom came across Mariee in Scottsdale. I should have known right off the bat that Mariee would be trouble, considering the name of the store is in French. But, I went against my best judgmental judgment and visited the salon two weeks ago.

I was not amazed by anything I tried on--the dresses were nice, but not my style (see: ornate and long). They didn't have the short PoB dresses that I liked, but the sales associate said they would be able to order the samples in for me to try on. I was very impressed and thrilled by this. She told me to e-mail them the names of the dresses I'd like, and she would get them in right away.

I e-mailed her that afternoon. Like two hours after we left the shop. My mom heard back from her a few days later, saying that she had spoken with the representative and they would be in for my appointment on the Saturday the 22nd. The day before our appointment, the woman e-mailed my mom, saying they were supposed to arrive on the 17th, but hadn't. She said she would contact the representative on Monday (the 24th) to see what the status was.

And then we never heard back from her.

Who knows how many times my mom called, left messages and e-mailed the store. It was ridiculous. What kind of business doesn't answer its phone during business hours? Despite our best communication efforts, she never got back to us. So, she lost a sale.

My mom, my friend Sara and I headed up to Uptown Bridal yesterday to try on some ridiculously cute dresses we had seen the week before.

After privately embarrassing myself wearing Spanx for the first time--"for my privacy," the saleswoman assured me--I stepped into a dress and opened the velvet dressing room curtain. I could tell by the look on my mother's face that this dress was "the one" and that was that. I tried on some others, but everyone kept reverting back to the original. So, I tried it on again.

I was in love with the dress completely, but in the back of my mind I wondered about the PoB dress and if I could commit to any other. I voiced my concern and my mom stopped me short. They apparently did not want our business. After numerous phone calls and e-mails, they had still not gotten back to us. They didn't deserve our money and I wasn't going to give it to them (or, at least, my mom wasn't going to give them her American Express).

So, I went for it, a la Michael Ian Black (no one will get this). And I'm very happy.

The shop made me put on this ridiculous "bride" garb because I found a dress. Then they took a picture. I look absolutely ludicrous, but I think it sums up my wedding attitude of "I mostly hate this, so I'll be really sarcastic and fake obnoxious smiles." This is only how I feel sometimes. My mom hates being photographed and will kill me for letting the Internet see her. But mom, look at me -- I appear to be bald with a double chin.

Highlights from dress shopping:
- Having boobs like an 80-year-old, courtesy of the flattening and lengthening powers of Spanx
- Wanting to try on the ugliest dress ever and post pictures saying, "I found it!"
- Witnessing a very lost and unhappy bride try on her wedding dress
- Wearing clear, stripper-like heels
- Realizing that my hips and waist are about two sizes bigger than my bust -- really?!
- Finding the dress I'll be wearing on my wedding day ... I guess that's pretty cool

Friday, August 28, 2009


Today, by way of Betsey Johnson's Twitter, I came across the photographer Christine Chang's blog.

Two weeks ago, she posted pictures of, what I have decided, is the prettiest wedding ever. It may just be because this girl is the most beautiful bride on earth, but everything looks just right. The Betsey Johnson dresses, the peacock feather bouquet, the baby's breath, her hair. Man! If you don't agree with me, something is wrong with you.

View all of the pictures at Christine's blog here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Floral redemption

A phone call from yesterday:

Celeste: "Josiah, the florist was awesome."
Josiah: "That is the first time I've heard you say something was awesome."

It's true. I've been less than thrilled about some recent wedding experiences, but my meeting with Jeanne from White Poppy was incredible.

First of all, she was excited. And had ideas. And cared about what I thought (a novel idea?).

At one point she called herself the "anti-wedding florist," which sold me haha. She explained that she's not into the frilly tulle and bows and nonsense garbage. I'm stoked about that.

I can't wait to work with her and get everything figured out. What a relief. It was a great feeling to walk out of her home studio (in the beautiful Arcadia neighborhood), and be truly excited.

Saturday brings another appointment to try on dresses at Uptown Bridal in downtown Chandler. They have a great collection (read: more than one) of shorter dresses. I can't wait to try them on!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In love with too many buttefly colors

Well, I just wrote 3,750 words compiling 3 (and a half) articles. So, of course the natural thing for me to do next is write a blog post.

Unfortunately, wedding world, I don’t have much to say. I suppose I just wanted to check in. I haven’t done much of anything for the wedding in the past week and a half. I feel guilty. But alas, my mental health came first last week. And then, this week, my 45 billion articles came first. Seriously – I went to bed after 1 a.m. last night, then woke up at 5 to start writing again.

In any case, I am back and ready for more. I haven’t looked at my guest list after last week’s nightmare (finding out that catering was going to cost approximately $80 per person). I hacked off probably 40 more people, and I’m scared to go back and see who got the ax in my fit of rage haha.

Changing subjects: Martha Stewart is a god. Seriously. At least her editorial team is. Everything in the magazine is incredible.

(Except for this butterfly cake that makes me want to puke.)

Anyway, on to the cute MS paper crafts!

Today I have another florist appointment. Hopefully this one is more willing to pay attention to what my mom and I have to say.

And then after that, I am cooking for delicious shrimp burritos for four dudes. And then, maybe I'll sleep. But probably not.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Floral disaster

It's been awhile since I last posted. I have an entry written saved in my drafts, but it is really melodramatic and whiny. Not going to publish that one.

In any case: yesterday was eventful. My mom, sisters and my friend Erica accompanied me to a dress shop, the mall and then to a florist.

The florist was particularly ... not pleasing? I'm not sure how to describe her. But, I felt incredibly awkward during our 20 minute conversation. I also felt like I was not allowed to give any input or suggestions.

She started out with her asking what colors the bridesmaids' dresses are. Last time I checked, that was not at the top of my priority list. But maybe bridesmaids' dresses are an absolute must during the 8th month. Let me check my bride-to-be book ...

... Nope. Not the most important thing right now.

We brought in a magazine that had the colors we wanted on the cover. I thought that was good enough to provide her a palate. Apparently not. At one point, she told me that I should "figure out my colors" before we could go further.

I thought it would be more logical to pick the colors of the flowers and then base the bridesmaids' dresses off of that. Tulip colors are more limited than fabric colors, so I'd like to nail that down. But, according to the florist, "That's backwards."

In her defense, she seemed nice.

But she did not listen to a single word I had to say. Instead, I might say something like:

Celeste: "I think we need something along the edge of the water. There's a ledge that we could put something on."
Mom: "Yeah, it's kind of bare. We need to add a little something along the water."
Florist: "Let's put some flowers on the seat. Yeah!"

She kept suggesting things that really had nothing to do with what my mom and I would be discussing. It made me feel like I should stop bother trying to say anything. So, I pretty much did haha. From the get go I just felt kind of odd and put out, and the uncomfortable feeling just increased as we went along.

I just didn't really like that she wasn't really willing to listen to what we had to say.

Our conversation when we got back into the car:

Celeste: "I feel ... like she just ..."
Mom: "Wasn't listening to you?"
Celeste: "Yeah."

Now, onto more florists.

In the meantime, here are some tidbits (me and Jo's new favorite word) of inspiration for flowers and centerpieces.

Love the colors (this is what I'm going for) and the bud ideas. I think bud vases are so cute in multiples. This would also look good in a circle around some other sort of centerpiece.

What an awesome idea -- centerpieces that are favors of mini bouquets. Not sure how I could translate this to tulips, but very cool. Read the Martha Stewart DIY instructions here.

I like that the vase goes past the top of the tulips. Never seen that before.

This picture creeps me out, but I'm digging the fishbowl full of flowers. Seems expensive though since there are seemingly 1,305 flowers in there.

I know this isn't a centerpiece, but I need this idea to be incorporated somehow!

My new idea:

I'd love to use Perrier bottles to put flowers in. The bottle's opening isn't very wide (maybe two or three flowers could fit), but the green is so perfect! I could have that in the middle, with bud vases of the reddish-orange flower surrounding the Perrier bottle in a circle? Amanda suggested going to look at Cost Plus World Market for some wider mouthed bottles.

Another awesome idea:

OK, so my mom and I really want to spice up the steps and the red ledge with something. Maybe we could line it with some simple Perrier bottles and bud vases?

Also, Amanda is a genius. Her idea: put a couple tulips in the bottles and hang them from the chairs on the aisles. So good!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bless my mother. And crepes.

Good news on the wedding front.

My parents met with the caterer today. Mom says she is "very nice."

More importantly (maybe) -- it turns out we can have a crepe station. And an Italian soda display. And blood orange juice!!!! And pretty much everything else we could think of. Yay!

Basic brunch starts at $25/person, then goes up with add ons (generally around $8/person per food station). As far as I know, that doesn't include renting linens and all of that nonsense. Who knows what it will end up being. The caterer says she'll send a price breakdown in the next couple days.

All I can say is ... crepes! My dream will come true.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My dream invites

I was going to make another invite inspiration board, but these deserve their own post (because getting a post on my blog is such an honor).

I scooped these up from the Paper Shop Ink blog, where the designer, 9spotmonk, made a sneak peak post. Unfortunately, 9spotmonk's Web site says it hasn't launched its wedding invitation line.

According to the post, the invites are printed on 100 percent recycled chipboard, and the envelopes are 100 percent cotton. Stunning!

View bigger verisons (the detail is amazing!) here, here and here.

Sadly ... I don't even need to view the pricing to know these are going to be expensive. But seriously, how freaking beautiful/cool/awesome are they?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I found my inspiration

Save the dates from

1. Winifred Studios $80 for 40 sets
2. P.S. Paper Goods $1.25 for 1 set
3. Baumbirdy $2.50 for 1 set (these card is a shimmering silver)
4. Mprints $90 for 50 sets
5. Invited Ink $359 for 100 sets (the text is letterpressed)
6. Dawn Correspondence $30 for 20 sets
7. April Ink Stationary $45 for 25 sets

So, save the dates: cute and practical or time and money waster?

Why I'm in a bad mood, part 56

I just feel lost.

Tomorrow marks the end of week two of our engagement. For two weeks, I’ve been scanning over checklists, browsing the Internet and flipping through magazines. (A measly two weeks is 1/17th of our 8.5 month-long engagement.)

According to all these resources, the first step in planning a wedding is establishing a vision—the scope, the d├ęcor, the general theme backing your wedding. I thought I had figured that out, but all of my ideas are crumbling and I’m not quite sure where to start.

All I know is that I want our wedding to be different. We are not the usual 20-somethings and we want the wedding to speak to that. We want bikes, simplicity, fun. I want a short dress with pointy pumps. We want Yo La Tengo, M. Ward, Built to Spill. I want my pup to be a guest of honor. We don’t want unnecessary frills or nonsense just because that’s “how it’s done.”

I see weddings like this and this from Design*Sponge, and wonder how people simply get their shit together to have such beautiful cohesion.

How am I supposed to coordinate an event when I can’t even decide on my colors?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hear ye, hear ye

I am hereby declaring that there will be no chocolate at my wedding.

Statutory Crepe

While driving to work this morning, I came up with a glorious idea.

Those who know me well have come to deal with my hatred for coffee and tea products. I have never liked them and have never will. Surprisingly, I love coffee shops. But I obviously had to find a quick alternative to the quadruple shot Americano iced skinny frappuccino with a half order of whip.

That alternative is the Italian soda.

I have been obsessed with Italian sodas for as long as I can remember. There are just about a billion flavors — blood orange!!!, banana, almond, guava, peach, vanilla, mandarin, etc. — including a tasty variety of sugar-free products.

For those poor souls who have never had an Italian soda … well, the recipe is fairly simple.

First, pour a glass of sparkling water, like San Pellegrino, over some ice.

Then, add a generous amount of your favorite flavor of syrup.

Lastly, add some half and half and maybe even whipped cream. (Optional)

I would love to have an Italian soda station set up at the wedding. I feel like this has a ton of potential to be really cute and bad ass. If we had a table with a ton of supplies, set up cutely with some pour spouts on the syrups … oh man I am getting goosebumps, I’m so thrilled.

Now I just have to find some syrup for cheaper than $8 a bottle. Maybe I can find a wholesale place?

Station idea No. 2:

The only things I love more than Italian sodas are crepes. Sweet crepes, savory crepes, big crepes, small crepes … give them all to me.

I believe my fascination with crepes started a year or two ago, when I visited San Francisco with my BFF Amanda and this other weird guy who I don’t even know, Eric. In fact, the meal was probably the best in my life and I will forever remember The Crepe Vine.

My caterer, Santa Barbara Catering Company, offers a French toast station, but I am going to try to finagle a crepe station instead. Just think of all the toppings we could have: berries of all kinds, caramelized bananas, nutella, mascarpone, cream cheese, yogurt, chocolate, peanut butter, whatever … sigh.

Crepes are great because people can truly personalize them and fill them with whatever tasty combination they want. (Once, I made a banana cream pie crepe with banana pudding and vanilla wafers. Best decision I’ve ever made.)

On a personal note, I plan on opening up a crepe cafe at some point in my life. It needs to happen. Josiah and I already came up with some amazing names like Statutory Crepe (his idea). So thankful to be marrying such a punny man!

Monday, August 10, 2009


I figured I'd take a break from the hard-hitting, too long posts and start my first of many visual entries.

Enough text ... I love stripes. I love cake. Here are some pictures.

My expert opinion:
The rolled fondant is my favorite (the first and the last pictures). I also like the idea of having both vertical and horizontal stripes, though that cake looks like a stack of oversized sugar cubes ready for a middle school pyramid project. I would really love to rip the floppy bows off of the brown/white cake, but I am a big fan of the varying stripe size and how the stripes are actually ... in the fondant. I have no idea how cake making works, so that's the best description I could give.

Too long

I've already been slacking on my blog posts. I blame it on having a job.

Anyway ... time for today's lunch-time update:

I'M NOT STRESSED ANYMORE! Well, not actually, but mostly because ... we found a place!

I had some very important wedding venue requirements.
1. Outside
2. Not a golf course
3. Somewhat non-traditional
4. Not ugly
5. Available for brunch

I figured it would not be too terribly difficult to find this. I underestimated the fugly factor of Phoenix though, especially while comparing the venues to my dream wedding destination: the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.

I pseudo-grew up in Colorado Springs. When I was five, my dad (a former Air Force pilot) was whisked away for a year to a glorious South Korea base. Naturally, bringing your family was not recommended. My mom and I moved to Colorado and lived with my grandparents for the year.

To say the least, I have fond memories of Colorado. My grandparents lived at the base of Cheyenne Mountain, about a two-minute walk from the Broadmoor. Every day, my papa would take me there and we would go ice skating. I grew up watching the most beautiful weddings in the world as we walked around the resort's lake. When I was five, I couldn't even fathom wearing a dress (I was content in my oversized neon Esprit shirt and spandex shorts), but I knew that the lakeside weddings were absolutely perfect. Whenever I go to Colorado (a couple times a year), I make sure to spend a lot of time at the Broadmoor.

Unfortunately Arizona just doesn't have a beautiful backdrop of nature. Even though I've known this for a long time, I was especially reminded once looking for a venue to host my wedding.

Here's a brief rundown of what I came up with:
  • Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
A disclaimer: I'm not an art person. I spent a summer in Italy--Florence to be exact, supposedly the art center of the world?--and stepped foot in about three museums. I'm sorry! I just can't appreciate art like I know I should.

In any case, I've been in love with the museum as a ceremony/reception site ever since I found it a few months ago. It's absolutely gorgeous, but in a hip kind of way. I had thought of it after reading online that non-traditional sites like museums may be cheaper and more willing to bargain prices since weddings aren't their main money maker. Sigh, if only this was the case. Not only was PAM booked solid (with the exception of a few Friday/Sunday openings), but it was also ... wait for it ... $5,000 just to rent. Moving along.

Pros: Sophisticated, bad ass, beautiful, filled with stuff to do (if you're into art), perfect outdoor setting

Cons: My father going broke

  • Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale, AZ
I had never actually been to the Valley Ho before we met with their wedding coordinator, Dawn Peterson, on Saturday. My first impression of the place was swanky but relaxed. The Ho is definitely cool -- it's been around for a really, really long time and recently underwent $82 million in renovations. The property is simply cool (there's really no other word for it). My mom said it reminded her of a hip hangout in the '60s. The colors are bold and patterns splash the walls and carpets.

The courtyard where we'd have the wedding was pretty enough. It's a grassy area surrounded by palm trees. But the backdrop put me off--old (albeit cool and funky) hotel rooms. I can only imagine some bratty, still-drunk Scottsdale idiot puking off the side of the balcony during my beautiful mid-morning ceremony. No thanks!

The reception rooms were too receptiony. I specifically wanted an outdoor wedding so I wouldn't be surrounded by drab walls and ugly carpet. They did have an outdoor area for receptions, on the Ho's tower rooftop, which has a 360-degree view of Phoenix (it was incredible!). Unfortunately it only sat around 100 and our party will be more around 150.

Pros: funky retro feel that speaks to Josiah and I, plenty of good photo opportunities, reasonable rental price ($2,000)

Cons: limited availability, not impressed with the reception areas, high food/beverage minimum ($7,500, which would be too much for our brunch idea), a hotel and, consequently, nothing special

  • The Farm at South Mountain
A few years ago, Josiah dragged me to one of many weddings of his friends. This one in particular, Mike and Robin's, has stuck out to me over the years. My heart instantly melted when I stepped foot onto the dirt path leading up to the pecan grove. The Farm is just ... different. Sometimes I forget I'm in Arizona when I sit at the splintered picnic tables while eating lots of baked goods. I love it there and have imagined getting married here ever since attending Mike and Robin's.

Pros: the best outdoor feel I've found, only $1,200 to rent, limited availability, represents Josiah and I well, Santa Barbara catering, which has an awesome/not super exepsnive brunch menu

Cons: possibly too outdoorsy, heels sink into the grass, a fairly typical indie wedding spot, definitely prettier at night than in morning, may get too hot by end of reception

  • Tempe Center for the Arts
A fellow engaged lady Tiffany recommended this spot, noting that she was interested in getting married there, but it wasn't big enough to accommodate her 225 guests. Though I've hung out at TCA and ridden past it hundreds of times, I hadn't even thought of holding a wedding there. So, so glad she suggested it!

The arts center is literally brand new and sits on the edge of Tempe Town Lake. It has an art gallery and performance space. In general, TCA seems pretty typical but its architecture and design is totally fun and interesting. The outside features a negative edge pool that seems to disappear into the lake. The whole part of the building that faces the water is glass and it's overwhelmingly beautiful.

Turns out, TCA doesn't actually do many weddings, and the ones they have booked are in the evening. The woman actually said we could choose whenever we wanted. How. Awesome. Is. That.

The ceremony would be held on the outdoor patio that fades into the negative edge pool. The reception would be indoors in a really unconventional "ballroom." The room is an extension and juts out over the pool, and the walls are 100 percent glass. It's cool as hell.

View the whole wedding set here.

A few pictures I took for my photojournalism class.

Pros: Awesome architecture, good photo opporunities, location (downtown Tempe) that means something to Josiah and I, low rental cost of $1,600, coolest indoor reception yet, nice backdrop of the Tempe Town Lake, Santa Barbara Catering

Cons: Possibly too modern, indoor reception, less structure and help considering it isn't typically a wedding venue

The verdict:
When all was said and done, it was down to The Farm and the Tempe Center for the Arts. They both represented us in completely different ways. The Farm is a beautiful escape from the Phoenix norm. It's outdoorsy and rustic. TCA is hip and modern, perfect for two 20-somethings to tie the knot.

My parents both liked TCA better, and Josiah and I do too. While I love the rustic feel of The Farm, I think it may be just a little too much. Plus, I'm scared of my heels getting stuck in the dirt and me falling (which basically happened when I was a wedding guest). Being able to pick our date at TCA was a huge selling point. Tempe was our home for many years and really represents our relationship as we have five years' worth of memories there. Plus, the indie hipster in me likes that I'll be getting married in a truly unique and "underground," as my mom says, place.