Oct 31, 2010

Oh no she didn't!

Oh yes I did. I went out and had a Mr. & Mrs. Meerkat statue made to sit at the head table, in front of us, as part of the main centerpiece:

I couldn't help myself. I had been trying to find something to use as a focal point for the head table and when I saw the sculptures at Jtnee's shop on Etsy I knew I had to have one. This is 100% a splurge item but being part of the hive has been such a great experience and something that I never want to forget.

Seriously, I fell head over feet in love when I saw the sculptures in her shop:

A few of them even reminded me of some lovely bee's I know:

If anyone was thinking about getting a sculpture from Jtnee I would highly recommend her. She has all different kind of designs, she was really easy to work with (I was only obligated to purchase after the sculpture was finished) and the workmanship is amazing.

You don't think I have lost my mind right? *grin*

Oct 28, 2010

First Dance - Revisited

Remember my super cool idea for a first dance to the song conquest? Well that is probably not going to happen now (at least not for Mexico but maybe for the at home reception?).

Last week I told Mr. Meerkat it was time to book our dance lessons and he gave me his best 'I am going to man up and do this for you' smile. Mr. Meerkat is one of those guys that wears his heart on his sleeve so he is terrible at hiding his feelings. Seriously he looked pathetic! He finally confessed and said he is scared to try this cause he is not a good dancer but was going to do his best because I was so excited. This right here ladies is why I love him. He would bend over backwards to try and make me happy.

Since this is OUR first dance I thought it was only fair that we both have something we enjoy but I am still not totally on board with a traditional style dance. I think my biggest fear with a slow first dance is after 10 seconds I will be bored and wishing the song would end. I don't want to feel like that about our first dance.

Also whenever I attend a wedding I watch the first dance for a couple seconds then go back to talking. I know that probably makes me the worst wedding guest in the world but its the truth. I want our guests to feel engaged. Watch any wedding video and you will see the fun/fast first dance gets guests cheering and clapping along. Thats what I want. Fun, engaged guests not bored ones wishing we would hurry up and get this dance over so the fun stuff can begin.

We have started the song selection process again to see if we can find something we both agree on. Here are a couple songs that I sugguested that Mr. Meerkat nixed right away.

Treasure - Flyleaf
I loved this song but Mr. Meerkat said it sounded too sad even if it was a happy song about her engagement.

Your Guardian Angel - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
I think this was a bit too ballad like for Mr. Meerkat. He is definitely more the Alice in Chains kind of guy.

All Around Me (Acoustic) - Flyleaf
The whole acoustic thing killed this song for Mr. Meerkat. I *heart* anything acoustic but not him.

Mr. Meerkat picked out a couple he liked:

Sunshine - All American-Rejects
I LOVE the way this song sounds but the lyrics are a bit depressing.

All or Nothing - Theory of a Deadman
Don't get me wrong, I love every word of this song but I guess it just seems a little... dull. I am definitely more of a showy person than Mr. Meerkat.

Then I suggested Love You Madly - Cake
I liked this because it still had a bit of a beat but I am guessing we could do much simpler dance moves to this song so that Mr. Meerkat would feel more comfortable. Not sure he was really into this song either though.

So right now we are just kind of sitting in limbo trying to figure out what to do. I am seriously freaking out about it because if we want to start dance lessons we need to pick the song by next week. Yikes! Mrs. Cola gave me a good piece of advice and said to take a few songs in and let the dance instructor tell us what she thought would be easy for Mr. Meerkat to learn. This is what I am leaning towards doing right now.

Sorry to end this post on a debbie-downer note but I am feeling a little lost on what do to. Any advice hive?

Oct 27, 2010

Hand Painted Favors

Remember a couple weeks ago when I showed you the vintage airmail favor boxes and place cards I made:

Everyone kept asking me so is there something in them? Yes there will be and that something arrived in the mail this past weekend!! 

The idea is to give each guest an ornament favor with a little of the sand from the beach we are getting married on. This way our guests have a great souvenir of our wedding and their trip that they get to hang on their Christmas tree year after year. Plus with our wedding being just a few days before Christmas it just seemed like the right favor to give everyone.

We had St Clair Creations on Etsy do the hard part and hand paint a beach scene on the back. And I "borrowed" the idea from our very own Mrs. Corn to fill them with a little sand from the beach we are getting married on. I filled the above photo with some sand from home but with the sand from the beach they will look more like Mrs. Corn's ornaments:

The only thing I am not 100% sure about is if I should remove the text on the front. I was the bozo who told St Clair Creations to put the name on the front. I had no idea the picture would be so beautiful I wouldn't want to cover it up! If I remove the text on the front I would order a custom printed ribbon with our names and date to use as the hanger.

So what do you think; leave them as is or remove the text and order a custom printed ribbon?

- Leave the ornaments as is.
- Remove the text and order custom printed ribbon with our names/date.
- I have a better idea!! (Comment below)

Oct 26, 2010

Pre-Wedding Packages For Our Guests

Since we sent out our invitations WAY early I thought it might be nice to mail a little package to our guests with information about the trip and some fun items to help get them excited about Mexico. Here is what our guests will see arriving in their mailbox in a couple days:

So whats all in the box you ask?  Here is the breakdown:

In each organza bag I put candy (pinata mix, mazapan, oblea de cajeta) and a magnet (sorry the picture made it look grainy, it isn't in real life):

I used the post offices flat rate small box and placed shredded brown paper filler in it. Then I set the organza bag, the rest of the candy, a pair of mini maracas and a brochure of information into the box:

Now all I need to do is print up a cute little mailing label that says we are excited you are joining us in Mexico.

And just so you know Bravo did his best to try and negotiate for a box of his own. He kept bringing me his stuffed yellow puppy toy in exchange for some candy. He would drop the puppy in my lap and then head over to a box. It was pretty adorable.

Oct 25, 2010

Our Photo Guestbook - The Reveal!

It came! It came! Our photo guestbook arrived in the mail today!! I am so happy with how it came out. I was trying to go for a Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark type feel and I think I accomplished it.

Here is the cover:

I also had our information printed on the spine:

And our wedding quote/saying printed on the back:

And now for a peak at the inside:

We alternated back and forth between two different questions. The first one was 'When did you first know that Carla and Chris were in love?':

The second question was 'What is your favorite memory of Carla and Chris?':

And the thing I just LOVE about this book is the quality. The heavy paper and the lay flat binding:

This 26 page book cost us $41.94 deliver and was worth every penny! I now have not only a great book of our engagement photos but also a fun guestbook.

Would you ever consider making a book like this?

Secret Life of Bees: Meerkat Edition

Are you ready for it?!  The secret side of Miss Meerkat?  Here goes nothin'!

1. I am an adrenaline junkie!
If it goes fast, count me in. I think Sister Meerkat and I must have got it from Father Meerkat because Mama Meerkat likes to keep both her feet on the ground. During my junior year of college Sister Meerkat got me hooked on skydiving. I did it for a couple summers until it just got too expensive but OMG the adrenaline rush is awesome! This photo is of Sister Meerkat and I in our skydiving rigs going up for my first jump. Look how happy I was:

Photo by Father Meerkat

2. I coach a kids robotics team called the Blue Cheesy Flamingos.
For the past 8 years I have coached a robotics team for kids ages 9-14. Each year we compete in the international FIRST robotics competition. The kids build and program a 100% autonomous (no human controlling it) robot to complete 10 missions on a 4' x 8' competition field. Its a lot of fun and I get to be a big kid right along with them.

How did they come up with the name you ask? We actually were brain storming for a team mascot and one kid wanted a cheese hat, one wanted a blue monkey and one wanted a flamingo. As a compromise they decided to have a blue flamingo who wears a cheese hat.

Our team being goofy last year.

3. My sister and I are 17 years apart in age.
You're wondering right now if I was an oops baby aren't you? Well I wasn't. I was 100% planned. Sister Meerkat on the other hand wasn't. My parents had my sister in their teens and then waited 17 years to have me. While Sister Meerkat wasn't planned, she was one of the best things that ever happened to my parents. Not to mention growing up I had the cool older sister who took me shopping and to the movies and I got to grow up with my nephew and niece (who are 8 and 10 years younger than me). So when they were growing up I was the cool teenage aunt with a car.

4. There was a time my parents worried if I would even graduate high school.
No lie. I know what your thinking "How the hell did you become an application engineer then?". It wasn't so much a lack of brains as a lack of motivation. :-)  I would not complete homework, pass the tests with flying colors and average out a C or sometimes a little less. I did this right up until they threatened to toss me off the softball team midway through my junior year for not maintaining a B average. Surprise, surprise, that sure got my butt motivated. Ended up not only graduating but with senior honor points. I can still remember my dads face as I walked up during our award banquet to get my honors certificate. He kept motioning for me to sit down cause he thought I was lining up for the wrong award. The expression in his face when they announced my name was priceless!

And there you have it. The secret side of Miss Meerkat. Anyone else out there with a secret side your just dying to tell us about? :D

Oct 24, 2010

Which Company for Printing Our Photo Guestbook?

Definition: Geek - One who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.

I confess. I am totally a geek. When I get into something I research the subject until I can tell you every little thing about it. Every aspect of our wedding has been researched with geek enthusiasm and picking a company for printing our photo guestbook was no exception.

When I started doing the research I was really surprised how little information there was out there comparing different companies to each other. Don't get me wrong there are tons of reviews for a single company but that wasn't much good to me unless I had some kind of baseline to compare them to.

Then I found this amazing article:

Seriously, the guy who wrote this, Jason Dunn, out geeks me any day. (Yes that is a compliment in case you were wondering. *grin*)

Jason actually went out and created/printed the same photo book with 12 different companies so he could compare the quality. He not only reviewed each one with a rating system but made complete videos showing each book's quality.

After reading all 12 reviews and watching all the videos I had it pretty much narrowed down to two companies; Mpix and AdoramaPix. If you read my last post you already know I chose AdormaPix but let me break down my reasoning.

First here is the Mpix video from Jason's review:

And here is the AdoramaPix video:

AdoramaPix Wins:
  • Matte and slightly metallic looking photo cover (instead of Mpix glossy)
  • Thicker paper
  • Printing on spine
  • Lay flat pages/spine
We made the final decision to go with AdoramaPix after I was lucky enough to be able to see in person a book from each company that a friend had made. The one thing that really stood out that I couldn't tell from the video was the thickness of the paper. It gave the book that professional feel that the Mpix paper was lacking.

As I wait impatiently for our photo guestbook to arrive from AdormaPix I have to ask have you ever made a photobook? Which company did you use? How was your experience?

Oct 22, 2010

Honeymoon In My Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Mr Meerkat and I LOVE living in Michigan (minus when we get huge snow storms) and to be able to share it with you... *squeel* Yea I am that excited.  I promise to try my best to keep each category to my top three choices otherwise this could get really long, really quick.

Things to see
The Air Zoo is #1 on my list of things to do in Kalamazoo. Basically it's a interactive museum that has AMAZING displays of transportation from the first hot air balloon to present day.  It has some old hot air balloons and bi-planes

WWI and WWII planes

And even some of the most modern and amazing planes/jets you will ever see

And while your there don't forget to give the flight simulators a test!

Michigan has some of these most amazing wineries in the country. You can visit the tasting rooms, take a long walk around the beautiful grounds or even hire a private tour to take you from winery to winery.  If you want to see what Michigan country side is really like the wine trails are the place to do it.

Michigan is also renowned for some amazing beaches. If your looking for a nice relaxing day head on over to Silver Beach in Saint Joseph. (I grew up just 15 minutes from the beach so I have a warm, fuzzy spot for it.)  When your tired of laying in the sun walk on up to the bluff to browse some eclectic shops. Don't forget to stop and get some fudge and ice cream at Kilwin's. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Where to eat
1. Sushiya & Sakura
For the sushi lover in you! *grin* Mr. Meerkat and I both have a affinity for sushi. Seriously we probably go out a few times a month for it. While my heart belong to Sakura, Sushiya is also an amazing place. They also have amazing hibachi if someone in your group doesn't like sushi. (I am looking at you Mama-In-Law Meerkat!)

2. Erbellis
TO DIE FOR PIZZA! Erbellis is a local favorite and every time Mr. Meerkat's family comes into town they request to eat here. Everything from the pizza to the calzones to the salads are amazing. For real, the best Italian food I have ever had.

3. Bangkok Flavor
If you like spicy food like Mr. Meerkat this is the place to eat (but don't worry they have mild versions too). The menu is pretty authentic as the family who owns it closes down for a month each fall to visit family in Thailand. You can order any of the food with your choice of spicyness: no spice, mild, medium, medium plus, bangkok hot. I always go for mild or no spice while Mr. Meerkat goes medium plus.

4. Smash Burger
Sometimes there is nothing like a greasy burger and fries. Smash Burger is actually a chain but they make one of the most amazing burgers I have ever had. Pick the make your own combination so you can add blue cheese and cherry BBQ (which you can only get at Michigan Smash Burgers). *drool*

Where to stay
1. Henderson Castle

This B&B would be my number one choice for where to stay in Kalamazoo. Even thought it was built in 1895 the grounds are amazing and all the amenities are very modern! Not to mention the people who run it make you feel special not just like a hotel guest. My favorite thing is that each room is decorated in a different theme from around the world which of course the traveler in me loves.

2. Radisson in Downtown Kalamazoo

Right in downtown Kalamazoo and probably one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen. What I love most about this hotel is that you are right in walking distance of many restaurants and the Arcadia grounds where each weekend during the summer there is a festival of some type going on. You check out all the things to do in downtown Kalamazoo here.

Ok, ok I am going to stop here because if you let me I would go on and on about Kalamazoo. We really do love it here because we have the best of both the country side and city life. After reading this I know your dying to book your trip to Kalamazoo. So when you get that all set, let us know so we can all go to dinner! :D

Oct 21, 2010

A Vintage Travel Twist to a Photo Guestbook

I am not a big fan of the traditional sign your name type guestbooks. I want something fun that I would enjoy looking through again. I fell in love right away with photo guests books like these:

But then I found Mrs Eggplants post about guestbooks where your guests get to leave cute messages or answer fun questions and I was torn between the two types. I never know what to write so starter questions like these are a blessing for me:

I mean look how cute our very own amariem25 DIY guestbook came out:

So what else was there to do but combine the two ideas together! I created an album from adoramapix using our engagment photos, a vintage map designed by Btown Betty on Etsy and some fun questions. I am still waiting for the book to arrive but until then I will give you a peak at one of the pages:

What do you think? If you were a guest would you have fun filling out something like this?

Oct 20, 2010

For the Girls!

Yea ok so I ripped off a famous movie quote but I was stuck for a title. *grin*

I am having a real hard time coming up with awesome gifts for my girls. Traditionally you usually give jewelry to wear at the wedding so I thought about getting them this necklace:

But Sister-In-Law Meerkat is probably going to be wearing her dress in the halter style so scratch that. 

Then during one of my many random searches on Etsy, I stumbled upon these amazing leather travel makeup cases at Waterstone and thought how much my girls would love to have these since they both travel so much:

I had one made with a pink lining for Sister-In-Law Meerkat and one with a yellow lining for bridesmaid K.

But now I am stuck on what else to give them. I would like to add a couple items into the case but I have no idea what! I thought about getting them each a personalized compact but is this something they would really use? 

Or how about a nice set of travel makeup brushes?

Jax suggest a Clinique gift card but they only have online gift cards:

I am completely lost on what to get them that would be useful and fun for them to have. If it was you, what would you like to receive? 

Oct 19, 2010

My B.O.S.S - Bridal Online Support System

Mr. Meerkat and I are the first ones of our friends to get engaged. At first it was really fun being the only one but after a little bit it kind of felt lonely. I mean our family and friends have been great but it just wasn't the same as talking to other brides.

I was happy when I found online bridal communities like Wedding Bee and Offbeat Bride Tribe and was able to talk to other brides. I also got to I meet my B.O.S.S. there:

Meet Jax. She is my Bridal Online Support System or B.O.S.S. as she nicknamed herself. *grin* 

Jax and I actually start talking on Offbeat Bride Tribe and soon discovered we were two peas in the same pod. We were both brides that liked unique and sometimes crazy ideas. It was really great to have someone to talk to who was also planning a wedding but wasn't related to me (because lets face it no matter how great your family is everyone has an opinion about your wedding). Plus every time we came across something that went with the other persons wedding we sent it over. We have listen to each other vent when things frustrated us and helped to calm each other down when things went wrong.

I asked Jax to tell everyone in her own words about being my B.O.S.S.
The great thing the internet has is tons of other brides just like me. If you are lucky you can befriend one who has a job which allows her to talk on gchat as much as she wants, just like me! That's how I found Miss Meerkat. Every time I posted something she'd comment immediately and so I started wondering if she was doing the same thing I was. We exchanged vitals and from that point on I had the perfect sounding board. Someone who didn't really know me but was getting to know me through my ideas of my wedding. I could ask her about her opinion on anything and she would give me her honest opinion. It was very helpful when I was trying to choose between two specific items online and I could send her both links. Miss Meerkat was the tie breaker on many wedding issues and through out our online bridal rendevous we have become great friends or a Bridal Online Support System, as I like to call it. My wedding was made happier and easier because of her and I can't wait for her to have her wedding to Mr. Meerkat. I just wish I could be there. :-)
This past July Jax and her mister got married but that hasn't stopped her from being my support system. I bounce ideas of her about our wedding and she bounces ideas off me about home decor. Because of online bridal communities I got to start a great friendship with an amazing woman. Thank you Jax for being there to listen to me!

Have you formed an amazing friendship because of your wedding?

Oct 18, 2010

OOT Bags - The Contents

The OOT bags are a joint effort of both Mama-In-Law Meerkat and I.  Right now Mama-In-Law Meerkat is slaving away sewing the custom OOT bags for our guests while I have been gathering up the items to fill them with.  We brainstormed for weeks trying to figure out the most useful items to give while being able to still transport all of it on the plane.  The first two things we decided to tackle were mini first aid kits and customized aluminum water bottles.

The first aid kits were my first DIY project for the wedding and probably the easiest too.  I used Johnson & Johnson's first aid to go which I got from target for $1 each in the travel sized cosmetics section.

I purchased Avery 3-1/3" x 4" shipping labels (which includes a template for spacing) and printed a first aid kit image on them.  The stickers were a little large so I cut them to size before applying them:

It took me less than an hour to complete all of them and they are so CUTE!

The next thing I tackled was the aluminum water bottles.  These were a must have so our guests can keep their drinks colds while they were on the beach.  At first we were going to use custom Cricut software called Sure Cuts A Lot to cut different designs out of vinyl to apply to the water bottles but we couldn't find anywhere to buy the bottles cheaply.  By ordering them completely finished through Curly Crafts on Etsy we actually saved a decent chunk of money.

I picked out bright tropical pink, blue and green water bottles for each of the ladies.  They will have each persons name on it with a mix of bright colored circles and flowers. Here are a few she has done:

Mr. Meerkat picked out red bottles with white lettering and a square design for the guys.

We are also including underwater disposable cameras from B&H Photo & Video:

And mini hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works outlet store:

I am sure before we fly out I will find one or two more little things to add but for now this is whats going in the bags.  As soon as Mama-In-Law Meerkat has a couple of the bags sewn completely together I will make sure to put together a how-to post and show you the bag filled with all its contents.

Are you giving OOT bags to your guests?  What did you decide to put in them?