Aug 30, 2010

Our Custom Sand Ceremony


From the start I liked the idea of a unity ceremony.  Having a physical object symbolizing our union that I could take home after the ceremony just gave me the warm and fuzzies.  The most popular unity ceremony is the unity candle.  You have probably all seen this at some point where the bride and groom light a candle together.  Knowing that lighting a candle outdoors would present a challenge, the sand ceremony was a heaven sent solution and TOTALLY fit in with our wedding on the beach.

I read through many wordings for the sand ceremony but nothing was exactly right. I wanted something that mentioned our families coming together and also had a part for our mothers to participate in. I found the wording I liked the most at but it still wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

As usual when I can’t find something I want I just make it myself.  I thought I should share it with all of you in case anyone else can’t quite find that right wording either:

Mama Meerkat and Mama-In-Law Meerkat please come forward and fill these two smaller containers with sand. (Our moms fill the two small vases from the beach we are on.)

Miss. Meerkat and Mr. Meerkat , you come here today from two separate families. From these two families a new family will be created. Today you join your lives and families together. (Our moms hand us the vases.)

The two separate bottles of sand symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. They represent all that you are and all that you'll ever be as an individual. They also represent your lives before today. As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. (We pour our two vases into the large container.)

Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual vases, so will the love and bond between the two of you render you inseparable.

Have you re-written a ceremony or reading to make it more personal?

Aug 27, 2010

World of Tech: Storing Your Inspiration (Free Tools)

In previous posts I have talked about using technology to keep up with your inspiration and to organize your inspiration. One thing I have not covered is how to store all the information so that it is easily accessible from anywhere you are. Here are a couple tools to help:

PDF Writer
A PDF writer allows you to turn a webpage into a PDF file. Why would anyone want to do that? Have you ever bookmarked a tutorial webpage and when you went back a few weeks later it was no longer there? I have and let me tell you, it is really frustrating. So what I do is use a PDF writer called CutePDF to turn the webpage into a PDF. That way even if the site goes away I still have my own copy of the tutorial or webpage along with the original link right at the top of the PDF.

The best way for me to show you how it easy it is to do this is with a short video:

Now once you have created a PDF you have the problem of it sitting on your computer and not being accessible from other locations. So what I do is use Google docs to store (and edit) the files online.

**NOTE: You will need to sign up for a free Google account but the account is used for ALL Google products such as Google reader, and most of the tools we are talking about on this blog. 

Google Docs
Google docs is like Microsoft word, excel and powerpoint rolled into one but 100% online including the ability to store, retrieve and share all of your documents.  You can even upload your current Microsoft documents to Google docs for storage and edit them right online.  My favorite part is that Google docs is made for groups to work together online.

Lets say you and your bridesmaids want to go through a to-do list together but you're all over the country like my girls are.  Have everyone log into Google docs and they can watch live as edits are made.  There is even a chat window so you and your girls can communicate with each other. Ehow did an amazing set of videos on the different aspects and how to use google docs. You can find these video here on

Are there any other tools you are using for storing your information?

Aug 26, 2010

Our Invitations: Where Fun Meets Chic

All of our invitations have now reached their destinations so it's time to reveal them to the blogosphere!

So much went into the these its hard to know where to being.  Our inspiration for invitations from the beginning was passport style invitations and boarding pass invitations but we were not completely in love with either one.  What we wanted was the chic feel of a pocketfold invitation with the fun style of the boarding pass invitation.  Like this:

Whoa, wait.... a pocket fold invitation AND a boarding pass invitation all in one?  SOLD!  That single picture was the beginning of two long months and one of the biggest DIY projects we have ever done.

A fully detailed how-to post coming soon, cross my heart, but until then here are the results.  First the envelope:

When our guests removed the invitation from the envelope they saw:

And when they opened the pocketfold:

Gotcha!  Didn't think I was going to make it this easy did you?  I know, I know.  I am a mean little Meerkat to tease you like this but I don't want to give away the final reveal until the how-to post. *grin*

How long did it take you to make your invitations?  Did you run into any unexpected bumps in the road?

A Plethora of Ring Bowl Options

There is a plethora of ring bowl options out there.  So many that at times it was hard to sift through them all.  The one I have seen a lot is by Paloma's Nest.

I love how you can hang these on your Christmas tree as an ornament after the wedding but it just seemed a little too classic to go with our rustic-chic wedding.  We did think about making a ring holder out of one of our favorite books:

But being the uber book lover I am, I just couldn't bring myself to cut apart one of my babies. The thought of it just sends cold shivers down my spine.  

Then by chance, while stumbling around Google images, I found this:

Trying to keep with our rustic-chic travel theme we have steered clear of things that were "beachy" but this bowl was so beautiful we decided that it might not be such a bad idea to integrate a single beach item into the wedding.  So we opened up our searches to shell ring holders and found these:

We were head over heels for the simplicity and chic feel of the last one.  Thankful I found Mag Artsy Crafty Too on Etsy.  She had individual listings (with photos) of all her hand polished shells.  What really sealed the purchase for me was knowing that all her shells were bought directly from sources where the shells are considered trash. In a way it mades me feel like we are recycling. Here is the lion's paw shell I bought:

It is about 4.5 inches big and pefectly polished.  I couldn't have asked for better.  

I would love to hear which one of the thousand options out there you chose for a ring holder!

Aug 25, 2010

Creating a Ceremony Space

I am so excited to have our ceremony on Al Cielo's beach.  It is basically a blank canvas to define any type of ceremony space we want.   I spent over five months researching different styles of decor for the beach but the inspiration I found online was the same things over and over; chuppah, chairs with colored sashes and a raffia aisle.  That is until I saw this:

And I knew this was it.  This was how I wanted our ceremony to look (except with flowers in orange, pink and white).

Mr. Meerkat also put in his two cents. He said that while he liked it the place we were going to stand needed to have something that separated it from the rest of the area. He suggested... a Chuppah.  *sigh*

I totally agreed with him we needed something to define the space but the last thing I wanted was a Chuppah to block the beautiful view.  We put our heads together and came up with the idea of tall pillars.

Or maybe even something more simplistic with large wooden rods:

While we are leaning towards the last picture, we have not made the final decision.  We have a few weeks until we need to finalize everything but the deadline is coming up quick!

How did you make the final decisions for your ceremony decor?  Did you go with any untraditional items (like large wooden rods)?

Aug 24, 2010

To Veil or Not to Veil?

The great veil debate has finally ended in the Meerkat household.  The debate only lasted six months.  It seems like a long time to decide on something so simple but when tradition is involved things get a bit more complicated.

Back when we first got engaged Mama-In-Law Meerkat offered to let me wear the veil that had belonged to both her and her mother. Including myself, that would make three generations of the Meerkat family who would have worn it.  I was pretty well set on wearing it until I started thinking about hairstyles.  I knew right away the kind of style I wanted:

But I hate the way veils poof out when they are placed at the crown of your head so I wanted it coming out from underneath my hair:

Kari, who is not only our friend but also our hair stylist, told me that with the hair style I chose the veil would look like it was being pooped out the back of my head (that is a direct quote).  So I had to either wear it on top or not at all.  *sigh* I hate making decisions like this.  

In the end my love of the hairstyle won out over my love for the veil.  So Kari suggested I look into something like a flower or hair comb instead.  Off I went to search our old friend Etsy.

At first I thought about doing a hair comb like these:

While I like the hair combs I am not in LOVE with the hair combs.  And my type-A personality has to LOVE all the stuff we pick for the wedding.  So I started looking at fake flowers:

I love the idea of the flower but they look...well, fake.  What I wanted was something small, light weight and realistic looking but not alive (so I don't have to worry about it wilting in the heat).

Then I saw these amazing little clay flowers by Anna Panik Clay Flower Designs:

And I was in LOVE!  This set of three was only $15 and are super light weight.  They should look just beautiful against my dark hair.  So while I am sorry I won't get to wear Mama-In-Law Meerkat's veil, I am equally as happy to have these little flowers.

Did you go through the great veil debate?  How did you decide?

Aug 21, 2010

Dressing My Mister

Mr. Meerkat has a very short list of must have items for the wedding. One of things on his list was a really nice suit. What he was thinking was something like this:

As usual I had other ideas in mind.  I was thinking something more along the lines of this:

Since Mr. Meerkat has asked for so few things for the wedding we decided to use the light weight linen suits.  This would seem like a pretty standard thing to find in a store right? Nope. After trying 5 different major department stores we ended up at mens warehouse who oddly enough only had one option and it was well over $300. It wasn't even the finest quality linen either!

So we headed home and I crawled back to my old friend, Google. After a couple hours of searching I stumbled on a thread of destination brides talking about how much trouble they also had finding linen suits and how they ordered custom made suits online from After reading through nearly 30 pages of positive reviews with brides raving about how great Studio Suits was, we decided to give it a shot.

Studio Suits had two different options for tan colored linen suits; a standard quality linen for $99 or a high quality Irish linen for $175. To help us decide we ordered a material swatch card for $15 (including shipping). When it arrived we were pretty impressed with the quality of both types of material.  The Irish linen had a little bit of a tighter weave to it and Mr. Meerkat decided that was the one he liked best (but we have given the groomsmen the option to choose either one).

These are custom suits so we had to enter 13 different measurements. (Don't worry it was really easy. They have pictures to show how to measure it.) I measured Mr. Meerkat and we placed our order.  I spent the next three weeks worrying that I had measured wrong or the quality would be poor.

Well his suit arrived and WOW! The quality was FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC!  Plus it fit him perfectly. We don't need to have a single thing altered.

So ok maybe Mr. Meerkat was right about the suit but I still wanted to do something a little more offbeat. The thing I loved the most about my original inspiration picture was the groom in his vest and the groomsmen in just suspenders. So when I was ordering Mr. Meerkats suit I might have "accidently" slipped a matching vest into the order:

Minus the fact that Mr. Meerkat looks like he is going out for a night at chip and dales in this picture, I love the vest.  It just gives it that little extra when he takes his jacket off which you know is going to happen as soon as he gets to the reception.

To finished off my original inspiration I found some basic brown suspenders for $7 on Amazon for the groomsmen to wear:

Oh but wait we are not done.  Mr Meerkat was not thrilled with the idea of boutineers so we have ditched them in favor of pocket squares and matching ties:

Each of the groomsmen will be getting a deep pink set to match the bridesmaids dresses and Mr. Meerkat will be getting this orange set that matches my shoes.

And the piece de resistance.  Remember how I told you I was going to order a bouquet frame with a picture of my dad from Texas Girl Designs on Etsy?  Well it arrived and Mr. Meerkat fell in love with it:

So we are having one made of his grandmother who passed away.  He will be wearing this in place of the boutineer.  The only thing we are missing now is a set of shoes for Mr. Meerkat and then his outfit is set!

Has anyone else used Studio Suits? What was your experience?

Aug 20, 2010

My Girls (Part 1) - Dress Shopping

We are less than four months from our wedding and my girls still don't have bridesmaids dresses!!  Yes this is completely my fault.  I have been dragging my feet. Why? Because I am in love with a color. Yes you read that right, a color. Amareth to be specific.

I want all my girls to be in this color pink.  A short, satin-like VERY VERY pink dress that has just a hint of a glamour to it.  Now finding the style of dress we wanted was easy.  Mr. Meerkat's sister found it close to three months ago on our second shopping trip :

Alfred Angelo - 7047

The problem came when we looked at the color pallete. The closest color to Amareth this dress comes in is Fushia.

We all agreed that the color was pretty darn purple, not even close to pink.

So we came up with a new strategy. We found the designers with the right color and narrowed down our selection from there.  We came up with three designers that fit the bill; mori lee, after six/dessy and forever yours.  Unfortunately none of them had a dress we all liked the way we liked the Alfred Angelo dress.

All of this happened close to three months ago now.  We were all so frustrated with how hard it has been to find a dress that we gave up.  This has put us under a tight time line but don't worry Google has come through for us again!  Just a couple days ago on a random search through Google images for hot pink dresses I came across this picture:

It is a sewing pattern (B5492) from Buterick for a 8 in 1 dress.  IT IS PERFECT!  Each of my girls can choose the style they want while I get the color I want.  And thanks to Mama-In-Law Meerkat we even found an amazing seamstress to make the dresses!  

Is anyone else having dresses made for their bridesmaids?

Aug 18, 2010

A Daddy’s Girl Without a Dad

Growing up I have always been daddy’s girl. From the day I was born I was basically glued to his side. He was not only my dad, he was also one of my best friends. He understood my geek ways like nobody else cause he was just like me.

Me and My Dad

So the day I called to tell Mama Meerkat that Mr. Meerkat had proposed, the call quickly went from elation to sadness when Mama Meerkat realized she would have to be the one to walk me down the aisle. You see, my dad passed away from cancer just a few months after Mr. Meerkat and I started dating.

Since that day I have been on a mission to find a good way to pay tribute to the best dad a girl could ask for. During my research, I don’t even remember where now, someone posted this poem by Kelly McLean:

Dear Lord please clear a spot for him
he should have the perfect view.
His little girl's a Bride today,
and I am counting on you.
Let me feel his presence;
as I journey down the aisle.
But let me notice his absence;
if only for a while.
Let me stop to think of him;
As I am given away.
And know that if he could;
he would be here with me today.
Dear Lord please clear a spot for him;
he should have the perfect view.
And if he should get sad today;
Dear Lord I count on you.

While I love this poem I am at odds as to what to do with it. I know for sure I don’t want it read out loud cause I will bawl like a baby. I thought about putting it in the program but then everyone else would be bawling like a baby. (It has been four years and everyone still misses Father Meerkat terribly.) So what is a daddy’s girl to do?

In the end we probably won’t even use this poem. I will keep it as something special just for me. Instead we will have a picture of Father Meerkat along with his favorite flower on a memorial table at the ceremony and I will add a photo charm of him on my bouquet.

Then for the reception we will put out his photo with a sign like the picture below asking people to take something (probably one of his favorite candies) in honor of Father Meerkat.

Are any of you doing something special to honor a family member who has passed away? How are you keeping it from being sad?

Aug 17, 2010

A Tale of Two Venues

If you have been reading my blog for long you know that we LOVE the Riviera Maya for its rustic meets chic feel.  So when it came to picking out our venues we wanted to make sure they reflected that feeling.

Most destination weddings in the Riviera Maya happen at a all-inclusive resort so both the ceremony and reception happen on property.  While being in an all inclusive gets you a great discounted price on dinner for the reception (yes you still have to pay), you do have to put up with other guests crowding around and watching your ceremony.  You won't have much privacy.

Since we knew we wanted the ceremony to be private, we decided to start looking at options off the resort.  With the beaches in the Riviera Maya being public, there are not a lot of non-resort locations that you can be sure will be private.  The best bets are to rent out one of the beach clubs or to find a small boutique hotel to hold the ceremony at.  We looked into the Ana & Jose Beach ClubLa Zebra Beach Club and Akiin Tulum.  While they were all very beautiful we fell head over heels for the rustic-chic feel of Al Cielo Hotel:

This small boutique hotel has only nine rooms which allows them to easily section off the hotel from our ceremony.  Al Cielo is not only beautiful and rustic, it is also far away from the major hotel chains.  This means that along the coast line on both sides of the hotel lays beautiful, lush, undisturbed jungle which we can be married in front of.

I know what your thinking: "wait a second, your post title says you have two venues".  While we would have loved to have everything in one location, the cost of Al Ceilo caused us to look elsewhere for the reception.  This is where the Grand Palladium (the resort we are staying at) comes back into the picture.  They had four course meal offerings far superior to Al Ceilo and because everyone is already staying at the resort the price per plate (including open bar) was 1/2 of what Al Cielo was asking plus no rental fee for a private terrace!

So here is where we will hold the reception; La Laguna at the Grand Palladium:

The terrace faces out over the lagoon and ocean.  We will be starting dinner around sunset so our reception will look very similar to this photo.  I was a little worried having never seen it in person but after talking to a few VERY happy brides who held their reception there we are confident that it will be amazing.

Has anyone else thought about heading off property for your ceremony?