Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First married Christmas

Although it was our fourth Christmas together, this year of course marked our first Christmas as husband and wife.

And it was PERFECT!

We kicked the season off with our now-annual trip to Kennebunkport, ME for the Christmas Prelude.  I dressed up very festively:

We bought a souvenir ornament:

...plus chocolate wine, white wine, eggnog, and Simon sneakily bought me some stocking stuffers.  We ate and drank at an amazing ice bar:

...and then sat by a roaring fire under wool blankets:

It was an amazing day.  I also did karaoke and somehow got quite the fan club.  ;)

Since we'd be visiting family all day on Christmas, we decided to treat Christmas Eve day like our Christmas. Simon had the day off, so we woke up around 10, opened presents:

...and had a big brunch of French toast casserole and bacon:

Our tree was lovely as always:

...with a new wedding ornament:

...and plenty of our favorite geeky ones:

Then on Christmas day, we headed first to Simon's parents' house in CT, where they spoiled us rotten, as usual.  ;)

Then after dinner with them, we drove back to MA to go to my aunt's house in Scituate.  All the little ones were there, and most of the adults.  We enjoyed gifts and dessert with them:

All in all, it was an AMAZING day!  Happy Holidays!

Simon and Sarah

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wedding Video

It came!  We finally got our wedding video.  It was SO worth the wait.  It starts out with a brief montage of the day, set to "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson (chosen by me). Then it's about 50 min. of the entire ceremony and highlights of the day with basic editing.  It was perfect.  I kept seeing things I didn't remember, and there were lots of smiles and kisses between Simon and I that just made me so happy.  I will cherish this always.  So excited!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wedding re-cap

Well, here it is.  The end of one journey and the beginning of another.  I am no longer a bride-to-be.  I am a wife.  And I LOVE it!

Now I will re-cap the wedding, with vendor reviews and lovely professional photographs.  Unless otherwise noted, these photographs are all by the talented Lisa Rigby and she retains all copyrights.

Simon and I chose this venue without visiting any others.  We had many reasons, but the biggest was that it’s UNIQUE.  I loved getting this reaction out of people:
“Where is your wedding going to be?”
“Oh, the Museum of Science.”
“Oh my God, that’s so COOL!”
Everyone thought it was the coolest thing ever.  You really can’t beat that!  We also liked that the fee for this venue was going to an educational institution, instead of a hotel or whatnot.  Our third reason was, well, we’re geeks!  What more perfect place for us than a science museum?

We booked it for our ceremony and reception well over a year in advance.  As popular as that weekend was, it was a good thing.  They include a wedding coordinator, and catering is locked into their onsite provider, Wolfgang Puck (to be reviewed separately).  We started out with one coordinator, who left the museum two months before our wedding.  Some of you may remember my reaction to that!  Well, her manager Sheryl White Vincent took over, and she was a dream.  She was excited and friendly and happy and I loved her.

We also had two day-of coordinators included.  They ran everything smoothly and I didn’t need to worry about anything.  It was actually quite a complicated day, as the ceremony was in one wing and the reception in another; all of the guests needed to be herded through the museum and up and down two elevators.  No one got lost!  They were on top of everything all day.

The view from our reception in the Skyline Room was breathtaking.  The sun set towards the end and it was just gorgeous.  The rooms were plain, but that just made it easier to add all my own touches.  All in all, I was 100% satisfied with my venue.

Catering: Wolfgang Puck 

As I said, we had no choice in caterer with this venue.  We did test them out by going to a Father’s Day brunch they hosted at the museum (Simon’s not a father, but no one exactly checked, lol).  It was DIVINE.  They create amazing food.  We decided on an hors d’oeuvre reception to save a little money.  Well, in the end, it wasn’t exactly cheap.  It worked well for our 3-7 pm reception.  Passed hors d’oeuvres for the first hour, hors d’oeuvre stations for the next two hours, and a dessert station for the last hour.  For that, and a three-hour open bar of beer and wine (and soda, coffee, etc.), linens, tables, waiters, and such, it was $95/person.  A sit-down dinner through them would have run $120 or more, but still.  It was a disappointing price.

On the other hand, our guests raved about the food.  This was our menu:
Tray Passed Hors d'Oeuvres:
Lobster Spring Rolls with Five Spice Dipping Sauce
Traditional Pork and Green Onion Potstickers with Ponzu
Chicken Tandoori Cups with Raita
Parmesan Crisps with Mascarpone, Caramelized Pears and Tiny Arugula
Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Fresh Herbs

Domestic and Imported Cheese with Grapes, Bread, Crostini and Crackers

Enhanced Reception Stations:
Antipasti Bar
Grilled Asparagus with Grilled Lemon and Olive Oil
Roasted Peppers with Olive Oil, Garlic and Fresh Basil
Chilled Pasta with Saffron, Tomatoes, Olives, and Oregano
Marinated Grilled Shrimp with Sweet and Spicy Mustard Dressing
Baby Greens with Shaved Manchego Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette
Assorted Marinated Olives

Dessert Reception:
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Wild Strawberries and Fresh Mint
Chocolate Truffle Cakes with Espresso Whipped Cream
Chocolate Creme Brulees
French Butter Apple Tarts
Assorted Cookie Lollipops

Dark Roasted Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee
Assorted Teas and Herbal Infusions
Cream, Sweeteners and Lemon Wedges

Beer and Wine & Soda Package:
Sycamore Lane Chardonnay, California
Sycamore Lane Merlot, California
Spasso Pinot Grigio, California
Bud Light, Amstel Light, Harpoon IPA, Sam Adams
Coke Diet Coke
Sprite Ginger Ale
Dasani S.Pellegrino
Orange and Cranberry Juice

No one left hungry and everyone praised the food endlessly.  I’m glad they were happy, but I did not feel it was worth the extreme expense.  I loved the food but not the price.  I did love our catering coordinator, Keith Mahoney.  He was a great guy.

What can I say?  She was the best!  I first saw her work when she photographed my cousin's wedding, who highly recommended her to me for mine. We did an engagement session with her 14 months before the wedding, and the wedding itself. Her work is unparalleled, just gorgeous. I don't have a very high opinion of my looks and even I felt like I looked gorgeous in my pictures. I cried when I viewed the slideshow she posted for us after the wedding. She was everywhere, capturing everything, without ever seeming in the way. She was friendly and fun to talk to, and an absolute joy to work with. Just an amazing photographer, and I'm SO glad we hired her!

In conclusion, above and beyond happy with Lisa Rigby!

Videography: Black Tie Video  

I know every bride says the day goes by so fast, they hardly remember it.  I wanted a simple video of the day to look back on once in a while.  Black Tie Video had a $1,500 budget package that was one of the more reasonable in the industry.  The gentleman who did the video that day (I unfortunately forget his name, and they have several videographers in their company) was polite and friendly.  He did make my very shy husband record some kind of message to me in front of the camera, and talked to guests to solicit messages when I had told the company I really didn’t want them to.  He was sometimes in the way, as you can see from the photo above, and not on top of every special moment.  Unfortunately, I cannot give them a full review yet as I have yet to receive my DVD.  They responded quickly to an email I sent and I should expect it soon.  Watch my Twitter feed for my thoughts once I receive it.

Cake: Dessert Works 

We visited Dessert Works for our wedding cake based solely on the fact that the Phantom Gourmet approves of them. And with good reason! We taste-tested three flavors of cake and chose two: Boston cream pie and dolce de leche. They were AMAZING. We described what we wanted it to look like, and they went above and beyond. Cascading fall leaves, beautiful ivy scrollwork and chocolate ribbons. It was GORGEOUS. Plus, it tasted like heaven. We're still getting comments from people that it was the best wedding cake they've ever tasted. We found the cost reasonable as well, around $400 for 70 people.  They even created a mini version of our cake to keep instead of the top tier.  Completely happy with this bakery!

Wedding Gown: Precious Memories 

I was dead-set on avoiding bridal salons for my dress. I hate shopping and trying things on. However, a friend recommended Precious Memories after getting her own gown there. Like me, she is plus-sized, and said they treat everyone like a size 2. It was three months before my wedding and I was running out of time. I made an appointment with them and brought my fiancé (we're not exactly traditional). The staff was concerned they couldn't order me a dress in time, so I tried on samples. The saleswoman picked out some dresses for me in addition to what I chose, and of course I ended up choosing one she picked! It was elaborate and beaded and I never would have picked it, but it looked amazing on me and my fiancé loved it. It was a corset style back so they extended it a size for me. The owner took 20% off because it was a floor sample. I looked like a princess in that gown and I'm so glad I gave them a shot.
Gown designer: Maggie Sottero 

Makeup: Dani Wagener

Dani is one vendor I found solely through Twitter.  I noticed she and my photographer, @lisariby, tweeted to each other a lot.  It turns out Dani does the makeup for a lot of Lisa’s clients.  My skin is difficult, as I suffer from moderate acne, so I knew I wanted someone experienced to handle my makeup.  We did the trial at her house the day before my wedding, so I got to show off the results at my rehearsal dinner.  She used an airbrush, which gave me full coverage without it feeling heavy.  I think I looked great, and so did everyone else!  I felt very comfortable, and I definitely am not a regular makeup-wearer.  She was amazing!

Lighting: Boston Uplights

Boston Uplights was recommended to us by our videographer.  With such a plain reception room, I knew it needed a little lighting to jazz it up.  We are both so glad we used them.  The effect was much more apparent in person than in photos, but it was especially striking once the sun set.  They provided 10 uplights and a tech who changed the colors throughout the afternoon.  The room looked gorgeous with their help!

Furniture Rental: Rentals Unlimited 

With our hors d’oeuvre reception, we wanted to create a more lounge-like atmosphere.  With no dancing, we wanted people to feel comfortable, drink, mingle, and socialize.  A blog reader of mine suggested couches.  The venue didn’t have any, but recommended Rentals Unlimited.  They were very easy to work with, after I contacted two other companies and they tried to quote much more complicated things than what I was looking for.  Rentals Unlimited gave me four brown couches plus delivery and pick-up, exactly what I wanted.  They were great!

For the rest of my vendors, I’d like to give credit, but don’t feel the need to write lengthy reviews on.

Transportation: ATR Limo

Ceremony Musician: Ian Hudson

Men’s ties and pocket squares, bride and bridesmaids’ shoes and pashminas, bride’s purse: Dessy

(Photo directly above only by Allison Holcomb, bridesmaid)

Bridesmaids’ Gowns: House of Brides 

(Gown designer: Dessy 

Bride and bridesmaids’ pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and headbands: LiveLoveBead 

Bride’s reception dress: Pacific Plex

Groom’s reception tie: ThinkGeek 

Mushroom earrings: Self Rescuing Princess 
“42” earrings: Kathryn Riechert Jewelry 
D20 necklace: Paw and Claw Designs 

Card and favor boxes: Creative Custom Card Boxes

(Another vendor I found on Twitter!)

(Scrolls indicating a donation has been made to the American Cancer Society)

Favor pens, invitations and all stationery, programs, and signage: VistaPrint 

All silk flowers, décor, ceremony arch, vases, silk leaves, etc.: Save-on-Crafts 

(All bouquets, décor, etc. created and assembled by myself, the bride)

Groom’s wedding ring:  Tungsten World 
Bride’s wedding ring: Barmakian Jewelers

Rehearsal Dinner: Smokey’s Longhorn Catering 

Rehearsal Dinner Favors: Sweet Lydia’s 

(A third vendor I found solely on Twitter!  Photo directly above by me)

Whew!  I hope I didn’t forget anyone or anything.  So, that’s all folks!  I now leave the realm of brides and enter the realm of wifedom.  Keep in touch with me on Twitter at @CelestialAxis, and keep an eye out for my eventual wedding planning business to launch.  Love you all!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I will never EVER forget our amazing honeymoon.

Wow.  Cancun.  I tweeted much more than I thought I would, mainly cuz we had free wifi, but I also just HAD to share some of those amazing pics.

Some of the highlights…

The view from our room:

Baby sea turtles that they save, let mature, then release into the ocean at night when the birds won’t eat them:

The beach:

Swimming with dolphins (most amazing experience EVER!):

Just being alone with my beloved:

Romantic dinners (and epic sunburn):

Boating and snorkeling:

Pro photo session:

There were massages, nonstop food and booze, a Jacuzzi in our bedroom, anything and everything you could want.  We had to DRAG ourselves out of there the last day, we SO didn’t want to leave.

Details: Sun Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico.  Couples only. All-inclusive.  AMAZING.  I will never EVER forget our amazing honeymoon.