Category: Wedding Planning 101

Guest Lists

Man, making lists is HARD. Why does no one ever tell you this?


The invite list started at a modest 50 invites, and swelled to a surprising 97 invites sent before it was all said and done. Once they were out though, it didn’t matter, we were just so excited to have them out and complete!


As th response cards started coming in, we were both excited and bummed: so many nos. Some unexpected yesses. It was seriously like a game every time one of our response cards showed back up in our mail box!

And then we got one of these:

empty RSVP


Now you tell me – what the heck am I supposed to do with this?


Now I am working on my wedding shower invite lists. We are having one in Atlanta, and one in Orlando. It’s strange: determining who to invite, who wouldn’t even be interested. Who would be hurt by not getting an invite. Who would be creeped out.


I am realizing that I don’t have a lot of close friends in Orlando. My Atlanta invite list is wayyyy longer than my Orlando list. And with each name I’m stressed. Is making a guest list supposed to stress you that bad?


Invitations are out!



Woohoo!!! Guess who’s happy? THIS GIRL.





We got a little carried away with the whimsical sea theme, but I’m still pretty pleased.


I remember when I first started looking at invitations last July, and how tough it was to communicate, much less create, a vision for what we wanted. At the only time, my only requirement was no hibiscus images – for some reason, several of the stationers I spoke with thought that hibiscus blossoms most accurately represents a destination wedding.


After deciding to tackle the invitations ourselves, I was equal parts thrilled and nervous – what if our invitations turned into a “bigger mess than a pile of coat hangers?” (I got that phrase from Lori on Say Yes to the Dress!) So you can imagine it was a big relief to see a finished product that represented our wedding in a cute but still nicely stylized way. I have to hand it to D – he really did pitch in. We were covered in those little rubber glue “booger things plus little bits of blue paper and ink, but we did it!!!


By the way – hand-writing each one SEEMS like a great idea until you account to handwriting both the outer envelopes AND the response addresses. My left hand got a workout!!


We’re still in the process of getting these out,, so hopefully they will be arriving at their new homes over the next few weeks. And if the address looks a little slanted, please be kind. They were addressed with love… by a person higher than a kite on Elmer’s Rubber Cement ūüôā

Dress Woes

Ok, I’ve been working at a frantic pace at work… working in events for a living means that sometimes working on my own big event takes a back seat. Having recently started a new job, I’ve accepted that it will be this way for a little while, until things die down. So when I get those moments of zen to focus on my own wedding, I get excited.


So imagine how pissy I was when that zen was ruined a little bit by Alfred Angelo.


Some back story: My wedding dress came in last month, and in gush of excitement, I rushed over to the store with a bridesmaid and friend to pick it up. I could not wait to see it again!
Good thing was, it fit perfectly! Bad thing was, it was stained. Not terrible life-altering stains, but little spots in a few places. The kind that, once seen, cannot be unseen. I stood there in my dress, in the shop, unsure of what to do. Fortunately the store manager took charge and offered to rush order me a new dress. I explained that rushing wasn’t neccessary, but she insisted. I was grateful for the time and attention she was taking to get this right, so I accepted.


Two days ago, I got a phone call: new dress is ready! So after a long exhausting week of intense work stuff, I headed back to AA (ha! get it? AA! Or is that a bad joke?) for my moment of zen.


The consultant brought the dress out for me to inspect, and I was sure it was going to be fine, but gave it a once-over, just to be on the safe side.


What I found was: hair. and dirt. Like my dress had been drug across a dirty floor. When I say hair, I mean HAIR: sticking to the chiffon, woven into the fabric, peeking at me from under the train. It was everywhere. The dirt was loose granules that fell right off when I shook it. I was a little surprised, but didn’t think much of it until I noticed the privacy panel in the back (which was missing from the original dress) was odd-looking, like it had been touched by too many dirty hands. And there was a light pink stain, almost the color of pink lemonade. So weird.


So I finally asked, “Did someone try on my dress?”, wondering if maybe there was a bride of similar size that had come in and wanted to try on the style. The consultant looked at my like I was insane.
When I mentioned the hair and the dirt, I got another odd look, and then that patient, tired, expressionless mask came across her face, which tells me that she thinks I’m overreacting. Then she told me that there’s lots of hair in the back and the dress could have picked up hair, and she inspected the dres herself. Now I feel like an a-hole for saying anything. Even though as she’s saying the words, she’s picking a knot of hair out of th dress fabric. I showed here the stains. I felt bad… why was I apologetic???

She told me that since I wasn’t going to be satisfied with the dress, or be convinced that no one had worn it I should just order a new one. So I’m left feeling like an awkward need bride. How crazy is it to have to order a third dress???? That is out of control. I don’t even know what to do. I told her that if they could remove that stains, I’d be fine with that, so for a second time, I left AA without a dress.


I’m really bummed, and feeling a little like people would think I’m being a bridezilla. Not once did I yell, raise my voice, or was rude, yet I felt like I was inconveniencing the consultant by pointing out that something was wrong with the order. I just don’t want a dress that already looks like it’s been through some things… I want the dress that I marry D in to be PERFECT. And I sure as hell don’t want it to have some stranger’s hair follicles knotted into the bodice.


Am I being crazy???



Wow. Adding to the things that no one tells you about: giant-mega bridal shows can be a little like stepping into a reality show called “Jersey-licious Gets Married”. Yep, I just made that name up.

I got a bit over-excited right after the BFE proposed, and began looking up all things wedding: locations, dresses, invitations, bridal shows. Something about bridal shows really intrigued me, and just seemed to embody the typical wedding experience. So within a week or two I’d selected two shows to go to. One was a small show only a few weeks away, and the other was over two months away. The second one was the big’un, the grand mc-daddy of all bridal shows. The Orlando Perfect Wedding Guide Bridal Show. I was wriggling in anticipation. Everything I’d ever need for my wedding would be found at this magical place! So two months later, off we went, to this ginormous bridal show.


As we walked in, I repeated my list to my BFF /maid of honor/ ride-or-die partner: engagement photographer. invitations. favors. transportation. We were gonna hit this show like gang busters and beat the system!!! Yeah baby, yeah!


Wow. Um, wow. First of all, yall know I’m the Queen of free, right? When we get to registration (and P.S. this show was not free) there was NO FREE SWAG BAG. Even the first bridal show I’d gone to, which was TINY, had adorable little bags they gave out, and I used to collect invitation samples, business cards and the like. Knowing that a little show like the first one had bags – a show which was small enough to be held in the bar at a golf course, no less – I figured the mc-daddy show would have a bag. Which I’d been counting on so that I’d have a place to store all my bridal show stuff which I knew I’d get. If I wanted a bag, I’d have to pay $10 for it! Really? Yall have met me. So, uh, NO. I was irritated and I was already starting at a negative.

We passed through the bridal expo’s fashion runway show. It was surreal seeing dress after dress on the runway, broken up by the occasional flower girl, junior bridesmaid or ring bearer. After the first few they all started to look alike. The haze of white dresses made me grateful that I’d already selected my dress. It’s easy to see how people get overwhelmed by the process of picking a dress. I was in a daze just looking at them and I didn’t even need to pick anything out! The runway ballroom was flanked by breakout rooms devoted to wedding dress attire of all types. Now I realized these were amazing deals, and like all amazing deals, brings out the feral instincts in the masses. I saw women scrambling over each other to grab at racks of $20 flower girl dresses like bat-shit-crazy Black Friday shoppers fighting over the last trampoline at Wal-Mart. I saw one lady scurrying out of the show with THREE FLOWER GIRL dresses. Three? Really? What are you doing, planning ahead to your next wedding (the though invokes memories of me saying “may it be the first of many!” at someone else’s shower a few years ago… long story)?? Maybe pulling a Miley Cyrus and having three weddings? Or are you gonna sell those on the flower girl dress black market? Really? What the heck?!?


We passed the dress mobs and headed to the main event: the tradeshow. Most of my excitement still intact (event though I didn’t get to get one of the cute little “bride” t-shirts because I didn’t want to pay for that either… I’m telling you, NOTHING WAS FREE AT THIS SHOW) so I was curious to see what we’d find.


Ultimately we found… nothing. As in, nada. No ideas regarding invites, transportation or anything else. Apart from the useless flyers I had thrust into my hands and was too awkward to decline, I got one (1) free sample of wedding cake. I took it because I was hungry and they weren’t serving anything in the way of snacks or beverages – at least the first little show I went to had an open bar and food – and I think¬† my taking a sample pissed off the cake vendor once she realized my wedding package with Disney Cruise Lines includes a cake. I also received two (2) cute little Groom Mickey/ Wedding¬† Minnie pens from the Disney Fairytale Weddings guy. I think that one was a pity gift.


I did meet possibly the creepiest couple ever to run a photography studio. Actually they weren’t fully creepy – the dude was a weirdo and the woman was an asshole. We walk over to their booth to see what they had to offer. He didn’t have a full portfolio of photos to show (warning bell #1 went off in my head). Warning bell #2 went off when after hearing that we were looking for engagement photos only, and not wedding photography, he told me he’d do my wedding photos for free if I paid for his cruise! Pay for the cruise of a photographer I don’t know, whose work I haven’t seen, at the cost even higher than what the Disney photographers already on board would cost? I was ready to walk away after strike #2, but there was a cool little wheel you could spin to win stuff. I won a free boudoir session! As I’m getting excited about this the woman a-hole looks my physique up and down and says “you can spin again if you want”. WTF?! Yeah, strike #3. I didn’t even wait for the full measure of that insult to set in. I looked her in the eye, thanked them for their time and walked away. I took their brochure so that I could remember what photography company to NEVER use.


The next stop was the invitations people. One invitations guy told me they could customize my beach -themed invites with stamps of hibiscus flowers and seashells. Another told me they could do custom invites for the low, low price of $600 for my 50 invites. I was starting to think that my little wedding wasn’t big enough business for these people… and I started looking at the other attendees. Tons of perky, young, thin girls wandering about, usually wearing a “bride” short made by their bridesmaids and trailed by their bridesmaid sorority-posse all wearing matching “team britney/staci/bailee” shirts, also made by the bridesmaids. We passed booths for huge decor companies, photobooths (that was a fun stop), event production, impersonators (there was a REALLY bad MJ impersonator), event management companies, major floral, companies devoted to backdrops, and DJs. Sandals resort even had a booth! How can my wedding really stand out amongst this kind stuff? Even the Things Remembered guy didn’t offer us free stuff or any informational brochures once he learned the scope and size of my event. They were all looking for brides that were throwing knockdown, kick-ass mega weddings and parties for 500. It was hard not to feel a little pitiful. And then, just in case I was doubting just how inconsequential our wedding was to these people, we got to what I refer to as the Vegas section of the show.


It started first with the invitation vendors: AS I was talking to one, I noticed some of their custom work. And I mean CUSTOM! Invitations on handmade¬† paper created by homeless Indonesian orphans, featuring peacock feathers and delivered with jumbo cupcakes. I KID YOU NOT. The only thing I’m exaggerating about is the Indonesian children, but only because I can’t prove that fact for sure. The rest? Totally true.


Next to the orphan children’s sweatshop invites was the other boudoir session people. Now, I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think most people want their boudoir photos blown up as samples and used as advertisting at tradeshows where everyone can see your… goods. Part of me was hoping they were only models, but does that make a difference? Essentially it was a booth decorated with nothing but pictures of… you know.


Then there was the fist pumping crowd! Across from each other: a couple of event production companies, and one DJ group. One had a corner booth with models wearing scanty hot pink and black outfits that matched the hot pink and black booth decor. They were giving out information while people milled about their cocktail tables and sampled stuff. Big hair, fake tans and boobs and small clothes. Yep, we’d entered the Jersey-licious portion of our tour!



It pretty much continued like that for the rest of the afternoon. Booths with strobing and flashing lighting that would simultaneously blind you and think you’d just been transported back to the worst night club you ever visited during your college years; booths with pumping music that made it so hard to hear that the people manning the booth didn’t bother to chat but just handed you their fliers while they convulsed in time to the music. I knew we were finished when we made it back to the wedding cake booth and all of her samples were gone. So I gathered up all my wedding goods in my arms and we headed back to the car.


The Perfect Wedding Guide Bridal Show was a bit of a bust. I was majorly disappointed, and on top of that, I’ve been getting emails from their vendors ever since. Mind you, this how was on July 1st. I just opened my spam folder to 6 different emails from one very persistent wedding dress shop, not to mention the emails I keep getting saying “it was great to see you at the show!” when I didn’t visit their booth. Well, at least I can say I did it! I visited a major wedding show and survived! I also learned a few things:


1 -Bring your own swag bag and cocktails. Actually bring a swag bag full of flasks for cocktails.

2 -If a stationer suggests using clip art of hibiscus flowers on your wedding invites… walk away.

3 -Apparently big girls are banned from boudoir photos

4 -Fist pump while walking through the DJ section

5 -DO NOT make eye contact with the impersonators.

6 -Never stand between a bridezilla and an amazing flower girl dress sale.

7 -It’s ok to laugh and then walk away when a stationer tells you he can create your invites for the “low low” price of $600 for 50 cards.

8 -If you steal a vendor’s cake samples, LIE and tell her you’re having a magnificent 250 person wedding so you don’t get the evil eye.

9 -Always travel with a large posse. People give you a wide berth when you’re with a gaggle of girls, especially if you’re all dressed alike and wearing ribbons. The free swag flows faster because they think you’re wedding is much more important.

10 -Next time, we’re making t-shirts!! And maybe tutus??

Save the Dates!

Ok, what I really wanted to title this was “I Got STDs!” but I knew that if I did¬†Dustyn was going to kill me for posting a blog with that title. I jokingly posted it on FB, and this is what happened:


For the record, we do not have any “STDs”. What we have are our Save the Dates!! They’re so stinking cute I just had to share.

This is the front of our STD Save the Date postcard that went out earlier this week and last. I’m a little in love with it. Granted, I don’t think we look like that at all!¬†Our cartoon avatar selves are¬†super cute, though.

So wedding plans are sailing ahead (bad pun) slowly but surely! We just completed our move into our new place, which I call the¬†¬†The McGillilendon Household¬†(that’s McLendon & Gilliland Combined). It’s our cozy new condo that we’re renting together. Now that all of our stuff is out of the old place and into the new, we can start focusing on some of the more wedding-themed tasks, like… wedding music!!! A survey is coming soon. ūüôā

In the meantime, our Target wedding registry is up and running! We are new to this whole register for gifts thing, so bear with us… You can also just search for it by using either one of our names.

 Aw, shoot! I just remembered that I still owe yall my review of the Jersey Shore Bridal Show Extravaganza. I will get cracking on this, I promise!!! I swear!

Happy Tuesday everyone!


I went dress shopping again! This time, it turned out much better.

My mom, sisters and BFF¬†gathered in Orlando two weekends ago to help me shop for a wedding dress and to select bridesmaid dresses. I arranged for bridal appointments over a motnh in advance – if you’re unfamiliar with my slightly OCD ways, check out this post:¬†to play a little catch up.

The shop I selected – Alfred Angelo in Altamonte¬†Springs¬†– was ah-mazing!!! The consultants were so friendly, the environment was pleasant and welcoming. I complete 180 from my disastrous David’s Bridal experience. I even checked out the bathrooms: spotless.


My appointment was blocked for 2 hours, but within the first hour and a half I’d found my dress!¬† I won’t be posting pics here… if you want to see it you’ll just have to come to the wedding!

Once I found “the dress” I felt like this. Ok, sort of like this only with a¬†FEW more pounds :p

With the dress selected and ordered (big thanks to my mom and dad for helping me out with the 60% down paymenton it – yikes!!) I was ready to look at bridesmaid gowns. We had an “interesting” experience with the dresses… there were comparisons to traffic cones and cupcakes, but it was kinda cool to just sit back and let my bridesmaid twirl around in front of me and show me Alfred’s collection of bridesmaid crazy:

This is a rather sedate pose after she’d originally come out and shown us how she could “shake it like a salt shaker” in her gown! I think it scared the poo boyfriend of the girl in the dressing room next to us. He looked truly traumatized.

This one reminded me of “Little Miss Sunshine”. Remember those? “Little Miss Tacky”, “Mr. Happy”, and the like? More like Little Miss Hot Mess!

After a lot of modelling, we finally found “the one”:

Obviously, this isn’t the color, but just the style. So cute!!

More to come soon – I want to share our 2nd bridal show experience with yall. Think “bridal show meets the jersey shore”. True. Story.

Next 2 items on the list: Booking the cruise and Save the Date invites. Things are slowly coming together!!!

Okay, yall remember when I referred to myself as a Broke A$$ kinda bride?? If not, I’ve noted it¬† here for your reading pleasure.

Recently a couple of friends brought David Tutera’s wedding design contest to my attention, and I decided to enter.¬† As you may already know, I am IN LOVE with David Tutera (if you didn’t know, I raved about it here). The thought of winning this contest makes me wet my pants just a teeny bit.

Anyhoo, in order to enter the contest you have to create a pinterest board that expresses my “wedding style”, using pins and posts from the Bridal Guide. Here’s the trick: you can only have 12 pins. It took me a month of fiddling around, adding pins and deleting pins to get down from 46 to 12, I finally submitted my board last night!

Wanna take a look? There’s a screenshot below, and here’s the link: Renee’s David Tutera Pinterest Board.

Take a look and wish us luck!!

If you’re thinking “Your name is not Heather”, then you would be correct ūüôā

We’ve got, what? over 15 months until the wedding? While some people say “plenty of time! Rest and relax!” I think of it as a great opportunity to take my time and really think out some of the cool things I want to do… like BRIDESMAID INVITATIONS!!

I got a bit Pinterest-happy and decided to finally try one of the cool ideas I’d “re-pinned” to my Beach Bridesmaid Board… while mine didn’t turn out exactly like the inspiration, I still think I did a pretty good job:

What do you think? It’s my first Pinterest project. This one seemed to turn out pretty well, so I’ll be experimenting with others as we start planning the wedding. If you’re interested in checking out my pinterest boards. You can view them here.

Fingers crossed that these cute invites will melt the hearts of some of my close friends and persuade them into putting up with my wedding mania for the next 15 months. Wish me luck!!!

The “boyfriend bench”: a (preferably air conditioned) location used by boyfriends, fiances¬†and husband as a place to rest your butt while your girlfriend/ fiancee/ wife is shopping. Typical a good location to get wifi so you can play games on your phone.

We really need to get on the wedding wagon and get ourselves registered. We are both REALLY bad at procrastinating given the opportunity, so there’s always the chance that if we’re not on the ball we won’t have a registry started until AFTER the cruise!

I was thinking that we could register at like, Target and Macy’s… maybe Crate & Barrel too? All three places should great great options to find the things we really need for our home and new life together, and to get them for reasonable prices. If our last shopping trip together is any indication of how this will go, I think I will find a good girlfriend to go with me to go do the  Macy’s/ Crate & Barrel stuff and spare D and me both the stress and angst of the gift registry experience.

I mean, I think I could get him on board with going to Target, but he might stab his eyeballs out if I take him to Macy‚Äôs or Crate & Barrel. Those stores are simply NOT man-friendly shops. Whenever we go shopping outside of like “man-friendly” stores like Target/ Best Buy/ Lowe‚Äôs I can literally SEE his brain checking out as I ask him about Vera Bradley purses, cardigans, furniture, dishes. I don’t blame him. It’s really my fault. What boyfriend cares about such things? And he honestly takes the best way out: he finds the nearest ‚Äúboyfriend bench‚ÄĚ and plops himself down and starts playing games on his phone.

‚ÄúBoyfriend Bench‚Ä̂Ķ his term, NOT mine.

I looked up the term on Urban Dictionary, and this is what I came up with:

1. boyfriend bench 49 up, 10 down
The bench designated for boyfriends to sit on, usually outside a fitting room, while their girlfriends shop and try-on clothes.
Mark: Dude, I hate shopping with my girlfriend.Ron: Let me guess…she makes you go store to store and hang out on the boyfriend bench.

Prime example of him utilizing the safety of the Boyfriend Bench:

Earlier this week, I drug him to a clothing store while looking for cardigans and twinsets on sale. Within 3 minutes he located the large, upholstered and comfy “boyfriend bench”, plopped down and began playing his “Plants vs. Zombies”. To be honest, I’ve been in that particular store probably 80 thousand times and never noticed that this bench existed. It’s like he had a little built-in homing beacon that drew him in, like a little green Martian being called to the Mothership. As much as I was irritated that he “checked out” on me, I was also in awe. Without any fuss I picked my purchases and collected my boo and we headed home. I learned a lesson that day.

After that enlightening experience (and about three other ones just like it), I finally figured out that sometimes a good way to maintain positive communication in a relationship is to make sacrifices… I find another companion to help me with someof¬†the regsitry¬†stuff, he doesn’t have to sit on the bench and burn throguh¬†cell phone battery playing games on his phone. And honestly? I don’t mind. I’ve scheduled some time to go with a friend to help, and will enlist D’s assistance with Target (again, read: MAN-FRIENDLY) after I’ve learned alittle¬†of what’s required during the registry process. I’m pretty sure I can set him loose in Tar-jay with one of those procing¬†gun thingies and let him tag stuff ot his heart’s content. It’s a win-win, right?

Any suggestions on things to register for? Besides boyfriend benches and cardigans?? :p

So I went to my first bridal expo recently.

I was sucked into checking it out by one big four letter word: FREE. I am a sucker for free stuff. Who isn’t?!? Buying yourself a peppermint patty is nice, but getting one for free-99 is even better. This is just an indisputable fact.

I was looking at one of those wedding websites, and stumbled across a list of upcoming events in my area, notably one that was happening at a local golf club. And it was free. And better yet, if you were one of the first 50 brides to show up, you got a bag of free stuff. The event started at 6:30, but for a fleeting moment I considered leaving work just a titch early so I could be one of the first ones there. Never mind the fact that I get off at 5:30 pm and the golf club was only 15 minutes away. Don’t stand between me and free swag.

I talked a friend of mine into joining me, and it is a true testament to her friendship that she didn’t flinch when I asked her, but loyally signed up for the adventure. So off we trotted, ready for free stuff and bridal mayhem.

You can bet your sweet rear end that I got my free stuff!!! I think I was number 10 in line, and granted I’m pretty sure the swag bag was just a marketing play, and any bride that showed up was going to get one. Unfortunately, the swag was mostly coupons and fliers. Boo. It did come in a semi-cute bag, so it wasn’t a total loss.

The expo itself was actually not bad at all.¬† It was not a huge event, probably no more than about 20 vendors offering everything from jewelry to officiants¬†to dance instructors. In one of the golf club’s banquet rooms there was a little area set up to look like it would for a wedding, complete with harpist. There was a server going around offering themed cocktails, called the “Honeyoon”. Vendors gave out chocolate, pens, random stuff. The officiant was giving out free nail files, which was a little weird.

One thing I noticed straight off upon arrival was the number of dudes that were there for the event, accompanying their fiancees. Clearly they’d left their man-cards at home. I mean, I love it when D comes with me to stuff, but really? Bringing your guy to a bridal expo? While you’re at it, why not make him grab a purse and join you at the hair salon?? First of all, why would he enjoy that (not the salon, but the expo? but then again, he probably would not enjoy the salon either)? Secondly, what kind of wimp must he be to actually go to that without complaint? And finally, how did these dudes survive this event without stabbing their own eyeballs out?

Am I being too harsh on the dudes? I don’t really think so. There was a HARPIST there for heaven’s sake!

Another thing I noticed fairly quickly was that there was not a lot at the expo that represented services that I needed. After visiting tables for videographers, caterers, table linens and chairs, the only two things I think we really need from the expo was a dance instructor and a stationary company. It’s so nice that our wedding package with the cruise covers so much: cake, champagne, officiant, music, flowers, linens, an officiant. We can even book a photographer through them, and the whole shebang comes with a wedding coordinator. It’s kinda nice,¬† and pretty much means I’m wasting most vendors’ time at events like this. But I make good use out of the free stuff they give me! I gave D the free chocolate and already ready used that nail file I from the minister. It’s still in my purse right now. Everybody that loves free stuff say whaaaat!

There is another bridal show coming up in July, one of the bigger ones in Central Florida. I think this one will be my second (and last) bridal expo.¬†I’m bringing a bigger entourage this time too, my bridesmaids are coming along for the ride, so we can divide and conquer the freebies better. ūüôā Who knows – maybe in the process I’ll discover other things I need, but when being honest with myself I know that I’m only going out of curiosity to see what a bigger show is like, and also for the free stuff. Did I mention I’m a sucker for free stuff??

I mean, who wants to pay for nail files and pens when you can get them for free-99? ūüôā

– renee