Dec 14, 2010

Today I Marry My Best Friend....

When I woke up this morning this is what I saw:

What a perfect way to start our wedding day. I still can't believe today is THE day. I have been counting down to this day for two and a half years and now that its here it still doesn't seem real. I know when everyone arrives and we start getting ready its probably going to hit me but for now I am cool, calm and collected sipping on a cup of tea.

Hive, where do I even begin to say thank you. You have been amazing. The love and support you have given to me I can't even begin to repay. Your kind words meant so much to me when I told you about my father passing away. The times when you were able to help me refine the ideas that had been bouncing around in my head. And not to mention some of the comments you left that made me laugh so hard I was crying. Each of you has touched my life in a way that means more to me than I could ever put into words. Thank you.

To Sister-In-Law Meerkat & Bridesmaid K.
You are two of the sweetest people and I couldn't have chosen better bridesmaids. You have stood behind me and followed along with every crazy idea I have ever had for this wedding. I treasure every minute we spend together. I love you both so much.

To Mama Meerkat.
You and dad are the most amazing parents I could have ever asked for. You both have shown me what real love is and I only hope that our marriage can be full of the same laughter and happiness as yours was. No matter where I go or what I do you will always be the most important woman in my life. Don't ever forget how much I love you.

To Sister Meerkat.
It seems like just yesterday you were taking me shopping to buy school clothes and teaching me to drive. Those are some of my fondest memories growing up. You love me in all my geeky ways the same way dad did. You are an amazing sister and I can't thank you enough for all you both have done for me.

To Mama & Father In-Law Meerkat.
From the day I met you, you treated me like I was your daughter and welcomed me with open arms. I don't know how many brides can say that about their in-laws. You are both very special people and I love you with all my heart. I feel so blessed to become part of your family.

And to Mr. Meerkat.
If you had asked me five years ago where we would be today my last answer would have been getting married. Now I can't imagine a future without you as my husband. You are one of the bravest, smartest and kindest people I have ever known. I am so proud to become your wife today.

Well hive, I hear people starting to wake up and move around. I guess that means its time to start the day and to sign off for the last time as a Miss. Wish me luck ladies. I will see you on the flip side.

With all my love, Miss Meerkat

Dec 9, 2010

The Ceremony Programs I "Settled" For

Hopefully you have not forgotten who I am since my posting has been a bit delayed. With the wedding drawing close I find more and more of the last minute projects to do. One of the last minute thing was our ceremony programs.

Originally I wanted to do a material covered front and back cover for the programs. Like this:

And do a binding and inside pages like this:

I hired a seller on Etsy to create the front and back material covers (because I have no idea how to make the embossing stay on there) and I would then make the inside. I gave the seller a drop dead date I had to have them by so I could finish them in time for the wedding. As the deadline approached I heard nothing from the seller and I assumed the worse. (Don't worry I learned my lesson the last time and didn't pay the seller up front.)

So I took the only course of action I could thing of (outside of throwing a tantrum) and create the programs out of the pages I had already printed.

I think they turned out pretty good for a last minute change in plans. Once I laid them on the fan they go with I knew I had made the right decision. Not to mention the oodles of time I saved not having to figure out how to make the covers. *grin*

Any last minute change of plans work out well for you?

Dec 7, 2010

Custom Bridesmaids Dresses - The lining is complete!!

Before we decided to get the bridesmaids dress made I had no idea what went into sewing a custom dress. Seamstress L. was able to give us a quick crash course. *grin* 

First thing Seamstress L. did was put together just a basic lining that goes inside the dress so that she could get the measurements exactly right. When we came she had all the seams sewn.

Then she pinned up the back of the top so that she had a measurement to sew from.

Next she took the skirt, which probably held two of bridesmaids K, and pinned each side to line up the seam. Mama-In-Law Meerkat had to help hold it because it was so large.

Next she measured out a rough hem line. She won't add in the finished hem until after the entire dress is sewn together just in case its a little off here or there.

And here is Bridesmaid K with the lining all fitted and ready to be sewn into the rest of the dress.

It may not look like much from the photo but I can already see it coming together. It has been just awesome watching each step of the dress go together. I can't wait to see the almost finished dress at our next fitting!

Nov 30, 2010

I spy cards

So this is probably going to be the shortest post you have ever seen me write but I wanted to show you the I spy cards I mentioned in my reception decor post

I saw this in the DIY section of Wedding Bee and I was in love! HisPookie was even nice enough to send me her photoshop template to start from. (By the way, THANK YOU!)

The only thing I really changed was the color of the fonts and then added the same paper texture background I used for our menus. And in case your a font geek like me and your first thought was I wonder what those fonts are:

And there you have it. The shortest Meerkat post ever!

Has anyone else done any fun games like this for your guests to participate in at the reception?

Nov 29, 2010

Customizing with Vinyl (DIY)

From the very start I wanted cute little colorful suitcases for me and my girls to have our pictures taken with. Just some fun little props for after the ceremony. So when I found little cardboard suitcases online, I knew all they needed was a couple little vinyl decals of our wedding monogram and they would be perfect. After I applied a little Meerkat know how here is what I got:

And as always I am going to spread the love and give you the step by step breakdown of how I did it. Not that your going to want to customize mini suitcases but there tons of other things you can do this with.

First thing was first. I needed to get our monogram cut out from vinyl with an adhesive back (like the kind pictured above). I could have ordered rolls of vinyl and used my cricut to cut them but I found it was just so much easier to have Bubba And Doodle on Etsy cut it for me. She was super quick and the vinyl perfectly cut.

Here is what they looked like when they arrived:

Look a bit odd? That is because a layer of WIDE masking tape is laid across the top of the vinyl. Probably seems like a weird thing to do but the mask will allow us to easily line up and transfer the image. I promise it will all make sense in a minute. :D

After I lined up the image where I wanted it, I used making tape to stick down one edge of the image to the suitcase. This will keep it from moving around while I was transferring it off the mask. (DO NOT remove any of the backing or mask from the cut vinyl at this step!)

Next I fliped the image over along the edge I taped down. The mask bends while keeping my vinyl in the exact position while I removed the backing. 

Feel free when your pulling the backing off to press down flat against the surface. The flatter you can keep it while pulling back, the easier the it will be to keep the vinyl on the mask.

Next I flip the image part way over. Basically I had it sticking straight up in the air because I didn't want it to touch the surface yet. Then I took a piece of cardboard (anything hard and flat will do) and while still holding the image straight up in the air used the card to slowly push the image down onto the surface.

See how I am still holding the image up in the air so only the part I pushed down with the cardboard was stuck to the suitcase. (Tip: Start from the edge you taped down and make smooth strokes from the middle to the outside working your way across the mask.)

Once you have it all applied it will look like this:

Now all you have to do is remove the mask.

I pulled it back slowly as sometimes very small things on the cutout will stick to the mask instead of the suitcase. When that happens I just use my finger nail to give it a little nudge off the mask before I pull it back any further.

Here is the final result:

Not to shabby for a few dollars in vinyl and some masking tape huh?  You can apply this type of vinyl to mugs, walls, picture frames or whatever you can think of.

Anyone interested in giving this a shot?

Nov 28, 2010

Some thoughts on PWD

A little while ago I read this article from The Guardian talking about post wedding depression. It really got me thinking. Was something like this going to affect me?

For some of us a wedding is like a amusement park with one AMAZING roller coaster and nothing else. No really it is! You wait in line, the whole time anticipating whats to come. Then you finally get on the ride and this huge excitement builds as you climb that first hill. Finally you get to go down the hill it is so amazing its hard to describe in words. You finish out the rest of the short ride loving every minute of it. But then the ride is over and what do you do next? 

I know thats kind of a grim analogy but really for a lot of people this is exactly how it feels. And to be honest I can totally relate. When your life is consumed by something, other things get pushed aside until there is nothing left but that one all consuming thing. 

And I have to admit at first I almost let myself do this. I can't tell you the number of Friday nights I wanted to bail on Mr. Meerkat and our friends for our usual dinner and a movie get together. I even considered not coaching my robotics team this fall because it would be so much to do close to the wedding. Thankfully I never gave up either. I tried to keep my life balanced with some things wedding but also with things that I love outside of weddings. 

Up until last weekend I thought I had failed at accomplishing that balance. What happened last weekend? The kids robotics team I coach attended their regional competition. They didn't advance to the next tournament so our season is officially over. And you know what? I am bummed! What should have been relief that I could now focus on the wedding actually came as a bit of sadness. Now all I want to do is start getting ready for next years competition. I have 10 million ideas floating around in my head for robotics and none for the wedding. 

Don't get my wrong I am so excited to get married but all those little details that seemed UBER important when we got engaged seem small now in the overall scope of things. These last few little projects I don't have done just aren't important enough to be at the top of my priority list anymore. Does this mean I have found that balance? I would love to know how you are trying to combat PWD?

Nov 23, 2010

DIY Painted Parasols

Let me start out by saying that Mrs. Sewing saved my butt on this one. After my custom parasol order on etsy went bust Sewing offered to send me a couple of the parasols she had left over from her wedding. Not to mention that her DIY tutorial got me on the right track for doing them myself. I decided to paint our wedding date on the parasols my bridesmaids are carrying down the aisle. Lets start with the final results:

Sorry I had to blur out our wedding date.

I am not going to rehash Sewings whole post because she already did a great job on directions but I will tell you a couple extra things that I tried and worked well for me. Instead of a normal pencil I used a mechanical one that I wore the edge down on by scribbling on a piece of paper. I didn't tear through the parasols paper once and it made a nice thin line.

Also something that made a really big difference was a nice angular paint brush like this:

The brushes were simple nylon bristled ones for $1 each. I used a couple different sizes so experiment and see what works best for your painting style. I was able to use the thin edge to do nice even strokes along the outline.

Has anyone else try painting a parasol? Any tips or tricks you would like to share?

Nov 22, 2010

Non-Traditional Gifts For Our Moms

Gifts for our moms were probably one of the things with we struggled with the most. We are so lucky to have such amazing and supportive parents that we wanted to give them something more than the traditional silver picture frame.

We brainstormed long and hard but I think we have come up with a couple really unique and beautiful gifts that will hopefully mean a lot to them. First thing we had made for each of them is a custom handkerchief. Bon Fete on Etsy screen printed these for us with our monogram and a custom saying:

My hope is that these are something they can use but that will also turn into a keepsake of the wedding.

The second thing we decided to do was replace the standard flower corsage with something they could take home with them.

This is actually a large necklace charm that you can customize with up to 9 birthstones. I plan to remove the charms from the chain and create some kind of pin (still working on that part) so they can wear it like a corsage on their dresses. Each of the charms I ordered have birthstone personalize to each family along with either I or Mr. Meerkat's birthstone added to it. On the plate that sits behind it I had engraved "Our Family".

The charms were a little more than twice the price of what we would have paid for corsages but I really think the investment was worth it. Of course I will place the chain in the box so they can wear it as a necklace too if they prefer.

The final thing we are doing for our mom are photo books of our wedding. Every mom loves a brag book so I am going to make two custom albums on Adorampix for them after the wedding.

So are we the only couple that went against tradition and got something other than a silver frame for our moms?

Nov 21, 2010

Dressing Up With Our Moms

When our two mom asked me what they should wear I was a total bridezilla. No not really. Actually I was the total opposite. My only criteria for them was that it had to be a shade of brown or tan (and that only came about because one of them said they were worried about wearing hot pink to match our colors). Other than that I wanted them to find a style that was comfortable and that they felt just amazing in.

First we started with Mama Meerkat. She wanted something flowy and feminine but that would cover her upper arms. I suggested Mama Meerkat look at the Alfred Angelo two piece dresses. So we headed down to the closest bridal store that carried AA which was Gretta's Bridal in South Bend, IN.

Once we got there we found they had a pretty good selection of the two piece mom dresses. It didn't take Mama Meerkat long to find a few dresses to try on. She started with what she thought would be her favorite; one with pants. 

Blech! Too Princess Jasmin from Aladdin. I think you can probably tell by her face that she really didn't like the pants or the shirt either. We quickly moved on to the next outfit.

I was taking the picture as she was shaking her head no at me. She didn't like this one at all and I couldn't blame her. It just wasn't her style. She is more of a fun, carefree spirit. This was just a bit too formal and... well to be honest, old fashioned. But by dress number three Mama Meerkat had found a winner.

This one she LOVED. She said it was comfortable, not old or frumpy and it was very sliming. Needless to say less than 15 minutes later we were ordering it. About two weeks later she was starting to second guess the purchase. Well the dress arrived last week and she went to get it hemmed. As soon as she put it on she loved it again. She looks absolutely beautiful in it.

Next up it was Mama-In-Law Meerkats turn. When we first started looking she, like Mama Meerkat, hated the standard mother dresses because they looked so frumpy. So months ago when she had found a skirt she loved, she bought it with the intention of putting a formal top to put with it. 

But a few weeks ago she started to second guess herself. She decided she wanted a more formal dress. So we headed up to Bellisima Bridal in Albion, MI. Seamstress L. had told us that the shop had a top floor with discontinued sample dresses that were $65 or less. We thought it could hurtn't to go look.

Of course first Mama-In-Law Meerkat had to scare me to death by tell me she was going to wear this beauty that came with detachable sleeves:

Yea we were cracking up at her modeling this for us but then we got down to business. There was only a handful of dresses in browns and tans but we got SUPER lucky and found one that made her look so beautiful. (Ignore the fact the back of the dress isn't zipped up in the picture.)

discontinued bridesmaid dress by Impressions Bridal

Guess how much she payed for it? $15!!! Why so cheap you ask? Some of the designers when they send sample gowns stamp their name in small print across the back. For most people this would be a problem but since Mama-In-Law Meerkat has a larger rib cage Seamstress L. was going to have to alter it anyway to put in a corset style back which removed the portion of material with the stamp on it.

With two dresses in totally opposite styles I was wondering if they would clash but you know they ended up looking pretty good together.

Now we have two happy moms who are going to look so very beautiful at our wedding.

Did any of your moms have trouble finding dresses because they were too frumpy or old fashioned?

Nov 18, 2010

I hate mugshots!


No not those kind of mugshots. I am talking the "traditional" family photos taken at weddings. You know the ones where everyone is standing shoulder to shoulder like they are in a police line up.

To me that feels like a mugshot. I know, I know. Moms love this stuff but they are just not us! I already have a ton of these kind of photos from various family get togethers. What I want is creative, fun photos of our family and bridal party.

These are way more our style. It looks less forced and like everyone is having a ton more fun. 

After I had mentioned this idea to a few people I got horrified looks like I was committing some kind of crime against nature. Is it really that wrong to not want the traditional? Everyone keeps telling me I will regret not having formal, posed photos. I'm just not convinced I will.

Has anyone else thought about bailing on the traditional photos? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this!

Then and Now - Meerkat Flashback

So you want a look into the Meerkat past? Cue up the Wayne's World flashback music please.


I am going low budget here. Just pretend. KThanks. :)

Growing up I was not your typical teenager. In high school my life revolved around two things; softball and friends. If I wasn't training with MOH Meerkat, we were out with our friends at the beach or having a bonfire in my back yard. I never went crazy partying or out every weekend. All those typical teenager activities bored me.

Some of our friends at prom.

As far as relationships went I did a little bit of random dating here and there but nothing serious. And acedemics... HA! I did my best to do as little as possible without failing. Mostly I just wanted to play softball. I had tunnel vision where softball was concerned. It was an obsession which of course MOH Meerkat helped fuel because she loved it just as much as I did.

MOH Meerkat (right) and I after a softball game senior year.

It wasn't until college that I realized that I was more than just an obsessed softball player. MOH Meerkat and I went to two different schools so I no longer had my softball training buddy. On top of that I randomly decided to start taking programming classes at my university's engineering college and it was love from the first line of code I wrote. Until that point I never knew I had any kind of smarts. I guess if I had actually tried to do homework in high school I might have figured it out quicker. So I quit playing softball competitively (I still play for fun) and went from jock to intellectual in a semester.

College also brought about more serious dating for me. What I found out quickly was guys in the engineering college were way more intriguing than high school guys. Most were smart, fun and had a awesome sense of humor which I quickly learned was what my taste in men ran towards. And then who should walk into my life but Mr. Meerkat. He was all the things I loved; tall, handsome, smart and with a wicked sense of humor. We became good friends while coaching a kids robotics team together and a few month after we met started dating.

Mr. Meerkat tickling me while Sister-In-Law Meerkat was trying to take our photo.

Of course long before high school I said I would never get married but Mr. Meerkat, well hes a nester and he had other plans. We laugh about it now but it wasn't even a year after we started dating when he told his mom that I was the girl he was going to marry. So it came as no surprise to anyone (well except me!) when Mr. Meerkat took me to Mackinac Island and proposed. Everyone was happy when we told them about the engagement and probably a little shocked too because of how adamant I was about not getting married.

As I look back at who I was then, I am happier than I have ever been. I always said that the whole 2.5 kids with a two car garage in the burbs wasn't my thing and it still isn't. But what I have learned is that 2 dog and 2 cats in a home we bought together with my very own foof chair to play video games in is exactly what I always wanted. *blissful sigh*