Friday, July 30, 2010

Weddings That Will Never Be: Chicagoland

I do not now nor have I ever had any desire to get married in Chicago.  Believe me, there would be a lot of people out there who would LOVE it if I did.  Of course, my side of the family would have the opposite reaction, and many if not most of my friends would not be able to afford to come.  Even if that wasn't an issue, California is my home and that is where I most want to get married.

But as I live here at the moment and have done most of my planning in Chicago, including fun extras like bridal expos, dress shopping, and cake tastings, I have a decent idea of what Chicago offers in terms of weddings.  And if I was going to get married here, this is what it would look like.

Location:  I would pretty much plan to get married in my own backyard.  You see, I live right across the street from Lake Michigan, and I would want to have my wedding there anyway!

(Sorry about the crappy quality of the pictures btw, I did not pick a very good day to take them.  I swear it is actually sunny here during the summer most of the time!)

Cool building, huh?  It's very deceptive though because you can't actually go inside (unless you're just looking for a restroom).  However, it would make a nice entryway out to the real ceremony area.

Walking through this archway, guests would be met with this view:

And they would walk down to this ceremony location:

All right, I probably wouldn't do the ceremony at that exact spot because the steps are a little weird there, but you get the idea.  It's in the park, and these steps run for miles along the lake.  It would give us the "ocean view" that I really want minus the actual ocean part, and I'm sure we could cheaply obtain a permit to have the ceremony here from the city.  Have to have guards to keep bystanders away, but eh, that's cool.  We'd also have to put down big-ass pieces of fabric or something for people to sit on, but I'm sure we could work it out.

Here's an idea of what the steps we could actual use look like:

After the ceremony, we would lead a short procession back to our apartment building for the reception!  Seriously, it's a 15-minute walk at most (I usually do it in 10).

Our apartment building has an awesome roof deck that would be just about the right size for the reception:

I already know our landlord will rent this space to largeish parties for $5/person, and I'm sure they would let us rent it out for our wedding as long as we kept the noise down and cleaned up afterward.  There would some issues like the fact that you have to climb the last flight of stairs to get up here, but I'm sure we could make it work.  And when it comes down to it, it's all about the view:

You know, now that I think about it, this wedding definitely would not suck.  In fact, it's pretty much exactly what I'm looking for view-wise in CA, minus the actual ocean part.......hmm.......oh well.  Anyway, we could easily do the ceremony and the reception on our roof which might actually be preferable anyway.  It'd be casual for sure, but the view would be SO AWESOME.

Food:  Mmm, food.  Well, we would definitely want to get our cake from Bittersweet.  And while we'd probably look into other options as well, I think both of us would lean toward El Mariachi for our catering company.  As a Southern California native, I have high expectations for my Mexican food, and it's been pretty hit or miss here in Chicago.  But OMG, El Mariachi is some of the best Mexican food I've ever had, especially the homemade chips.  Mmmm, maybe I should go there for dinner....And it's super close to us, so catering would be easy.  And for alcohol?  Trader Joe's baby!  I'd be getting me cases of 2 Buck Chuck!  Woo!  Haha, without restrictions on the alcohol from a venue, I'd rather go cheap because I just don't care that much.  I don't want a bunch of drunk people at my wedding, and while I love cocktails, I probably won't drink much, so I don't really care.  Daniel will want beer of some sort.  And for champagne, I'm all about the Andre (I know, I know, I'm super lame, but I seriously like it better than even real champagne).

Photography:  OK, not thinking about money here, so Timothy Whaley has been my Chicago fave.  Alternatively, my friend Lauren takes really nice pictures, and I've thought about asking her to do our wedding anyway, but this way I wouldn't have to pay for her to get to California.

Either way, Lauren and I already scoped out a location that would be awesome for "just us" shots and is also right next to our apartment!

I love this woodsy area and would love to get shots of Daniel and me here even without the wedding part.

Music:  100% homespun.  Read:  my laptop.  That's what I want to do anyway.  All we'd have to do is rent speakers.

Wow, you know, this really would be an awesome wedding.  Eh, oh well, we're leaving in a month anyway.

*All photos taken by me except for the ones I already said were taken by Lauren.

Is there a place you know well and could plan an awesome impromptu wedding in?  Heck, is that what most of you are doing (minus the impromptu part)?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Working on the Bucket List

As per my I love you, but I want to do something with my life, Goddamnit! post, I have created an updated bucket list that is "realistic."  And by realistic, I mean I didn't include "touch every single piece of ground on this earth" or "sail around the world" or even "visit all 7 continents" (Antarctica, you pesky little pieces of ice, you), not to mention "go to Hogwarts" and "learn how to fly."  Anyway, I hope that by writing down a list that it is humanly possible to complete someday, I'll have a better chance of getting through the things I really don't want to miss out on.

If you would like to see what my version of "realistic goals" is, you can view my bucket list at

I am so screwed btw.  I am not going to be having kids until I'm 45 at the rate of this list.

A Different Take on Artsy Engagement Ring Pictures

These are old, but I realized that I never actually posted them.  Figured this would be a nice break from the serious stuff I've been talking about.

Daniel bought the necklace for me for our first Valentine's Day.  These are pretty much the only two pieces of jewelry that I ever wear.

I bought Daniel an engagement ring for the same weekend that he proposed :).  He has since lost it :(.

Hope this doesn't offend anyone:

All personal photos except the last three which were taken by Lauren

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Meant What I Said, Damn It!

There's something that's been gnawing at me lately, and it doesn't seem to be going away.  When I talk to people about our wedding, whenever I say "we," they assume I mean "I."  People do not usually come out and say it, but assumptions they make and snarky little comments definitely make their meaning clear.

This bothers me to no end!  Because I am very careful when talking about the wedding to say "I" when I mean "I" and "we" when I mean "we," especially here on this blog.

The fact is that Daniel has opinions about our wedding, strong opinions.  I am under no delusions about this being "my day" because it is so obviously going to be "our day."  And I'm so happy that I have a groom who does care about the wedding because I want this to be our day and not my day.  Sure, I have opinions, and yes, I have more opinions than Daniel does, but that doesn't mean that there are not things he cares about or that I haven't made allowances or sacrifices for those things.  And I always ask for his opinion on stuff because we come up with better and more "us" ideas together, and we're similar enough that our ideas usually mesh anyway.

And still, "we" does not mean "we" to most people in wedding world.  Why not?  Is it us?  Does the fact that we spend so much more time thinking about the wedding than the guys make people assume that we don't care about their input?  Or do people assume that the groom doesn't really care?  Are these stereotypes accurate?  Cuz I definitely read blogs where both partners are highly involved in the planning, but with others, the girl definitely seems to be the dominant party.  Where do you fit in all this?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Putting It All out There

If you have not done so already, go read this guest post by A Cupcake Wedding right now:

OK, have you read it now?  Good.

This should have been soothing to me and delightful to hear.  I can identify with all of her fears/problems...except for the decent job part.  So I should have the same moment of clarity, right?

Eh, I sort of did, but the thing about epiphanies is that when the moment has passed, the clarity often goes with it.

I am a young bride.  Daniel and I met when I was 18, and that has given me no shortage of trouble ever since.  I was SO naive when I was 18.  I thought I was ready to meet the man I wanted to marry because I was sick of dating.  I had no idea of what restraints being in that kind of relationship would mean for me.  Back then, I thought meeting the right person would mean you were absolutely certain about him being "The One" and that you would never, ever have doubts about it.  Now I just laugh at that, especially the enormity of the concept of "The One."

I am so grateful for Daniel and so happy that we'll have so much time together.  But there are definitely times when I wish we had met later.

When I was 18, I wanted to be a travel writer.  I wanted to travel all over the world and have adventures and experience everything.  It didn't take long for me to realize that that wasn't going to work when I was in a committed relationship.  And in the end, even if I hadn't had a serious boyfriend when I graduated college, I probably would have given up on the travel writing thing eventually because it's SO hard to get into (in a way that actually pays enough money for you to live) that my preference to have a family and be there for them would have won out in the end anyway.

And yet...

I still want to travel, I want to live in a third world country, I want to see as much of the world as I can...and I kind of want the freedom to do those things without having to always take someone else into account.

I really worry that I'll never be able to find a career that I love because it will be so much harder for me to pursue it when thinking about someone else's career as well, especially since I don't really know what I want to do yet.

And I worry about what my marriage will do for my life.  There are just some things that we don't have in common.  I'm a very active person, and I like to be out doing something a lot of the time.  Daniel, less so.  Daniel's main recreational activity is gaming in one form of another, the appeal of which is totally lost on me.  Both of these things have always been a source of contention, and they probably always will be.  For us to live together, I have accepted that if I want to go out all the time, sometimes I'll have to do it with friends or on my own.  I also have accepted that Daniel is going to spend a significant amount of time on gaming that could have been spent with me, and he has accepted that I'm just not interested and more importantly that he can't spend all of his free time on games.

We're not perfect, and accordingly we're not perfectly suited to each other in every way.

Here's why we're getting married anyway:

We compromise:
  • Daniel has agreed to travel with me, including spending a year abroad.  There will still be restrictions, like I'll have to find a program that will pay enough for him to keep paying off his loans, and I won't be able to travel as much as I would have liked, but it's good enough.
  • Daniel has assured me that he will support me in any career that I choose, including living somewhere where that will be doable.  At the same time, I know that it's important for him to at least get his career started, and if he gets a job in Podunknowheresville, CA, that's where we're going to have to go for a while.  Because the economy is just that bad.  BUT he has also promised me that he will apply to jobs in Hawaii :).
  • As for the day to day life stuff, we've been steadily improving on the "making it work" scale for the last four years, and even though it will always be a struggle, I am confident that we can be reasonably happy with the arrangement.  I make him come out with me sometimes, and I acknowledge that sometimes staying in is OK.  And I have played so many more games since I met Daniel than I ever had before, and some of them are OK (Munchkin and Once upon a Time are my favorites).  The thing that really gives me confidence in this area is that Daniel may be a geek, but having real life experiences is important to him too, so at least when we got out, he enjoys it.  It's not like I really have to drag him out of the house, and he does plan outings sometimes too.
We love each other.  I know that sounds like such a simple thing, but it really does help me see how much better my life is because he's around.  I am certain that I am a better and stronger person because he's with me.  And when it really comes down to it, I know that having him in my life is more important than having an awesome career or having adventures because I really want to be able to share my life with someone.  I think I'd be a lot less happy even if I did have everything else I wanted in my life if I didn't have someone to share it with.

I'm never going to find someone better.  I am absolutely certain of this.  Different and also good, sure, maybe.  But never better.  And Daniel is just so awesome in so many ways.  When it comes down to core values, compatibility, and just having fun together, Daniel is it, and I could never give him up.

We're different people.  We like and want different things.  But when it comes down to what we really want out of life, we want the same thing:  a family that we love and care about above all else.  That makes it easier to give the other things up.

There are still things I wish I could be single for, but one way or another, Daniel and I will make it work because that's what we want.  I think it's OK to want other things sometimes because, well, that's life.  Life's hard.  Relationships are hard.  Everyone says you have to work at it everyday, but in the end, it's so worth it.  So in the end, I know who I want to spend my life with, and everything else will have to be worked out in time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weddings That Will Never Be: Destination Caribbean

Once I actually started looking at Destination Weddings seriously, I realized what a plethora of free stuff could be found, especially in the Caribbean.

Now, I'd be down for any luxury resort in the Caribbean, but nothing really speaks to me like Sandals.  Ever since I saw that first lovely commercial with the big, beautiful, inviting pool with "Sandals" written on the bottom, I have longed to go to a Sandals resort.  And what better time than on my honeymoon?

I have actually been really impressed with Sandals since I started looking into it seriously for a honeymoon.  I knew it was a luxury resort, but I was amazed to discover how affordable it was.  Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not going to be saving any money on my honeymoon (um, and even though I'm talking about this like it's going to happen, we haven't actually made a decision, we just both really want it to be Sandals), but with everything you get at a Sandals resort--free food, alcohol, AND an excellent range of activities--it's actually a really good deal.

Naturally, in all of the many packets Sandals has sent me, I had to take a look at their wedding packages.

And frankly, I was amazed by what I found.

What's this?  You can have a pre-planned wedding for FREE?!  Sweetness!

I've found these kinds of deals elsewhere too, but if I was going to do a destination (and potentially free) wedding, I'd do it at Sandals.  In large part because I would want to stay there anyway, but I also think their weddings are adorable.

I've got to hand it to Martha Stewart, the woman's got taste.  She has planned six lovely weddings that you can choose from if you decide to get married at Sandals.

If I was actually going to do this, I think I'd go with this one:

Why Beautiful Beginnings?  Because it's free when you stay at a Sandals resort for a week.  And I'm always down for a free wedding!  I actually like this one better than some of the others anyway.  I love orchids, and even though the arrangements are a bit simple for my tastes, I think I'd be pretty happy with the flowery purple wedding.  Perhaps down the road we could do this as a vow renewal thing.

But if I wasn't thinking about the money, this is the wedding I'd go for:

I love tropical themed anything.  I actually thought about doing a tropical theme for our wedding anyway.  Had to let it go because it wouldn't really work out for us, but if we were already in a tropical setting, this would be AWESOME!  Again, I love orchids, and I really like the cake and bouquet for this one.  Plus, the table is kind of awesome with its tropical fruit display.  And I love the little umbrella in the sand escort cards.  So cute!  Yeah, I love this wedding.  I'd be down.

And so that is my dream.  It sure would be beautiful.  Alas, not meant to be.  Oh well, our honeymoon will be off the hook!

Would you ever do a pre-planned wedding like these?  All of us here in blogland must enjoy the wedding planning process to some extent or we wouldn't be here, but I often wonder if I would enjoy my wedding more if I didn't have to stress about the planning and could show up and be a little surprised the day of.  What do you think?  Is it really worth the struggle if you know Martha Stewart has taken care of all the little details for you?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Help Please

Soooo, let's just say that you were looking for a wedding dress online.  What would you want to see?

If the dress in question had been altered (slightly) from its original form, would you rather see the brand's official picture of the dress or a picture of the actual dress?

What things would you be looking for from the seller?

Would you only order a dress you had tried on in a store?  Or would you be willing to order a dress you had never seen in person as long as it was returnable?

What would be most important to you in the ad?  Lots of pictures?  Lots of written details about the dress?  Keeping it short and sweet?  Price?  Something else?

Would you rather read an ad that really tries to capture the essence of the dress or something that just gives the facts?

Would you worry about a dress claiming to be brand new actually being new if you saw it on a person instead of on a manikin or in a magazine picture of the dress?

If you guys could answer these questions or some of these questions or even just give me your take on online dress shopping, I would really, really appreciate it.  Trying to sell my dress is not so easy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weddings That Will Never Be: Destination Hawaii

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  I love the idea of a destination wedding.  I love traveling, I love intimate settings with people I'm close to, I love tropical beaches...pretty much everything about destination weddings appeals to me except the serious guest limitations.  So even though I'm not having a destination wedding, I've done my fair share of thinking about one (er, make that several).

It all started in Hawaii.  I have known where I wanted to go on my honeymoon since I was 6.  You see, my dad is a cinematographer which means he travels a lot, and back before school/work took over my life, my mom, my brother, and I used to go with him sometimes.  So while he was working on Waterworld (Reynolds, USA, 1995), we got to stay in Hawaii for a month.  And so it was that I fell in love with the Hilton Waikoloa.

I have stayed in a fair number of expensive hotels given my limited age and economic status.  Like I said, Dad travels a lot, and production companies are not as stingy as one might think.  So I'm not like an expert on nice hotels or anything, but I feel like I do have a certain amount of experience.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village is like nothing I've ever seen.  It literally is a village centered around the resort, but the hotel itself is what really caught my attention.  As you walk in, you are greeted by birds fluttering around the lobby.  You continue to walk and find that the hotel is so big that it has its own public transportation:  you can get to your room on their mini-train line or take a leisurely boat ride from one side to the other.  If you skip the train and cross the bridge over the barracuda-and-koi-filled river, you'll walk down a grand staircase to the hotel's very own lagoon, where you can take out a paddle boat or snorkel with sea turtles.

 "Public Transportation"


Personally, after patting a few sea turtles, I like to splash around in one of the many pools, perhaps starting with the lazy river pool complete with waterslides and ending up in one of the hot tubs that are hidden in a cavern under a waterfall in one of the larger pools.  Then perhaps a trip to Dolphin Quest where you can interact and swim with dolphins (I kissed one when I did this as a 6-year-old).

Waterfall Pool (with jacuzzis under the waterfall)

 Dolphin Quest (I have a really cute picture from this, I so wish I had it with me here)

It's a village, hotel, mall, aquarium, and water park all rolled into one.

We never actually stayed there.  It ain't cheap.  But my mom, my brother, and I would hang out there a lot while we were staying on the Big Island.  Technically, only guests can use the facilities, but sneaking in isn't exactly challenging, even with the wrist bands you're supposed to have to use the pools.  I went back a few years ago with a friend, and they actually gave us wrist bands while we were in the pool.

Anyway, I love it there, and I started looking into a honeymoon there soon after getting engaged.  I think we've pretty much ruled that out since all-inclusive resorts are a much better deal, but I still definitely want to stay there someday.

And while I was checking out rates, I ran across their wedding packages.

Looking back, their deals are not nearly as good as ones I've found elsewhere (read not free), but I'd so be down for getting married there, especially since it would still be cheaper than doing a big wedding at home, and we would get SO MUCH MORE out of the deal.  It's a beautiful resort with spectacular views, and it's all very natural, not manicured-looking, which is a big deal for me.  Besides, I feel like if I was actually going to do a destination wedding, a lot of people I know would be less fussy about getting to Hawaii than the Caribbean even though it's about the same distance.

So yeah, this was the first place I thought about doing a destination wedding, mostly because I'm in love with the hotel.  I figure if I'm going to dream about it, I might as well dream big.

If you were doing a destination wedding, where would you go?  What is your ideal honeymoon location?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bittersweet: Not Actually Bitter. At All.

One of the few wedding-related things I have done lately is go on another fruitless but tasty cake search with Daniel, and due to the guilt I feel for seeking free cake even though I cannot buy a wedding cake from them, I need to give a shout out to Bittersweet for being awesome.

If you do not live in Chicagoland and have no intention of visiting, you'll probably want to skip this post.

However, if you do live in Chicagoland, and you have not visited the wondrous tasty heaven that is Bittersweet, you really need to get yourself down to Belmont and give them a try.

I have a very active and demanding sweet tooth.  I always have.  I love sugar in all of its scrumptious and wonderful forms, but there is nothing that makes my mouth water like pastry shops.  Ever since I studied abroad and discovered the wonders of French pastries, I have been trying to find their equals in the United States.  Bittersweet's are worthy of a corner in Lyon.

They sport a lovely variety of tarts, ganaches, cookies, and cakes as well as, you know, real food.  Bittersweet was the first pastry shop that I found in Chicago, and it is still my favorite.  The quality of their sweets is hard to beat, and I was very happy to find that they offer free samples pretty much all the time.

Naturally, I wanted to do a wedding cake tasting to see what they could really do.

So, so worth it.

I really like the way they set up the tasting.  They gave us pieces of the cakes they provide (unfrosted), a small cup of frosting, a row of cups of filling, and pieces of fruit so that we could try different cakes with different fillings and see if we wanted to add fruit.  It was really nice to be able to customize our own cake on the spot, and I enjoyed downing the fillings after we were done with the actual tasting part.  I also really liked that the lady who was helping us left us alone while we were looking through cake pictures and when we started the actual tasting.  It was nice to not have someone watching us while we discussed options.

Speaking of which, Daniel and I got a little carried away in the experience.  We actually picked out a cake and everything.  I think our enthusiasm was mostly due to the fact that the cake was so good that we both really wanted to actually book Bittersweet as our cakery.  I don't even want to think about what the delivery charge on that would be, haha.

But seriously, we would probably be booking them if we were having our wedding in Chicago.  They aren't cheap, but the aren't any more expensive than most of the places I've looked at, and the quality is to die for.

So yeah, go check them out if you can.  It's so worth it.

1114 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

 Yummy Bittersweet Cakes

All right Chicagolanders, what are your favorite pastry shops/bakeries/other places Nicole can get her sweet on?  And Southern California residents, if you got this far, where are you getting your cakes?  Cuz I seriously don't even know where to start looking when I get back.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weddings That Will Never Be: Disneyland

As you may have figured out from my serious lack of posting the last few weeks, I have been in wedding hiatus mode lately.  Mostly, I've just had other important things to do (like tanning and freezing my toes off in Lake Michigan), but I've also hit a bit of a wall planningwise.  With my lack of venue and the knowledge that I won't be booking one until September, trying to plan anything seems like kind of a waste of time, especially when I can see the beach beckoning from my window.

Thus, I am taking the opportunity to do a little series entitled "Weddings That Will Never Be."  It's something I've been thinking about for a while.  I'm not one of those people who started planning her wedding before she got engaged, but I have been engaged for a very long time (about a year total), so I've had A LOT of time to dream about my wedding without actually having to make progress on it (damn long distance!).  As a result, I've had time to look into a few wedding options that I knew weren't really going to happen, or weren't likely to, but would still be pretty awesome.

 Disneyland Castle at Christmas
Personal Photo

I feel obligated as a fan to start with Disneyland.  I'm a lifelong Disney fan, but my intense love of Disneyland itself started when I was 13 and got an annual pass.  That first year, I went 32 times, and in my subsequent 9 pass holder years, I spent about 160 days at Disneyland.  During my lifetime, I've been well over 200 times.  Obviously, Disneyland has been a big part of my life, and what better place to be a princess bride?

 A Most Excellent Day with the Ce at Disneyland
Personal Photo

I knew Disneyland was too expensive for me to even consider, but I just had to send away for the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings information packet.  Now, I already knew the ceremony and reception locations in the hotels having hung out in them often after a hard day's Disneylanding, so I already knew that I'd prefer the Disneyland Hotel rose garden to the Grand Californian's woodsy area.  However, I had not been aware of the greatest ceremony location of all:  in front of the castle in Disneyland after the park closes!  I never even asked how much that would cost, but it sure did give me something to dream about.

Now That's Pretty

I never really considered Disneyland as an option, partly because of the cost, partly because Daniel really wasn't interested, but also partly because Disneyland has become a little mundane to me.  I feel like getting married in one of the hotels that I frequently hang out at already would take the excitement and specialness out of the experience.  But getting married in front of the castle while having the whole park to ourselves?  That's a different story entirely.  Having Disneyland to myself is a lifelong dream, and, well, who doesn't want to get married in front of a pink castle?  I can see it all:  arriving by pumpkin coach, the ridiculously princessy dress that would be a requirement for the setting, Mickey officiating the ceremony, the castle all lit up and pretty at would be awesome.

And if I had a $100,000 budget, I might see if I could make it happen.  It's probably better that this is not to be because Daniel wouldn't love it, and Disneyland really is my thing and not our thing.  But if we ever become extremely wealthy and renew our vows, I know where I want to do it :).

 How's That for a Backdrop?  Disney's California Adventure--Paradise Pier

Disneyland Hotel Rose Garden

 Grand Californian Outdoor Reception Area

Mmm, Castle Cake

 Or If You Prefer Something Even More Elaborate

Arriving in Style in Cinderella's Coach

Is there a place you would like to get married if you didn't have to take your fiance into account?  Or a place you'd love to get married but could never afford?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wow, I Fail, but Thanks!

So, I feel really undeserving of this since I haven't posted for like, ever, but I got a blogging award!


Kristin over at Kristin in Japan passed this award along to me.  If you haven't checked out her blog, you really should, especially if you are planning a wedding long distance or have a penchant for Japanese goodness.

I am super grateful to her for this award.  It's so nice to know someone cares about what you're writing!

It seems this award requires you to explain your blog philosophy.  When I started writing, I was mostly doing this for me and for advice and in the hopes that someone would read it and get something useful out of it.  Now, I think things have changed a little bit.  I still value my readers' advice and still hope to provide useful information, but I think for me that usefulness is less about helpful ideas like providing inspiration pictures and DIY projects and more about giving advice in the format of "learn from my mistakes."

Kristin said that she was passing the award to me because I'm honest and put myself out there.  It's kind of ironic because that's not a way I would describe myself in real life, but I have made an effort to be forthcoming on this blog because I believe that's the best way to help people (and really, it helps me too).  I guess that's my blog philosophy:  provide an honest portrayal of your wedding experience in order to help others, whether that be keeping them from making your mistakes, commiserating with crappy situations, or just knowing that you're not the only one.  That, and venting.  Venting is a very important part of my blogging experience and one that I have absolutely no intention of giving up.

Now, it is my duty to pass this award on to another blogger.  This was not an easy decision for me--there are so many great blogs out there--but in the end, I had to go with Wedding for Two.  I feel really weird giving Ellie an award since is wayyyyyyyyyy more established than I am, has done A TON more planning, and is much closer to her actual wedding date.  However, I love her blog, and I couldn't not honor her with this award.  She has very helpful advice, really knows what she's talking about, writes very regularly, and knows how to keep her audience engaged.  Plus, she has a socially conscious mindset that appeals to me on a personal level, and she never backs down from giving her opinion which I can really respect.

While we're on the topic, there are two other blogs that I seriously considered passing this award on to, and I would like to take to take this opportunity to give them a shout out.  One is my friend Laura's blog, The Bride Side of Life.  If you've been with me from the early days of The Princess Bride, you'll know how much Laura has influenced my wedding.  She introduced me to wedding blogging in the first place and is a very, very knowledgeable source.  What I love about her blog is that it creates the perfect balance between DIY advice/projects, personal and meaningful relationship and planning experiences, and general wedding goodness.  It's a one-stop blogging spot!  Plus, she just got married and is in the middle of recaps, so now is the perfect time to give her blog a gander.

The other blog I would like to honor is Once Upon a Dream.  I'm not gonna lie, I started reading this blog because of the title.  I am a HUGE Disney fan.  But I stayed for the heart.  Jill is an honest, light-hearted writer who doesn't spend a lot of time complaining (let's face it, most of us love it) and shares her experience an honest, personal way.  I have really enjoyed reading both of these blogs and would definitely recommend that you check them out.

Thanks again to Kristin and to everyone out there who thinks my experience is worth reading about!

Classy Wedding by the Sea