Feb 24, 2011

Invitation Design Finished!

Well... pretty close to finished. :-P

I still need to add a lot of text and the photos need a bit of work but it's now a whole lot better than the kludge fest of an initial draft I made last week.

It was really everyones suggestions, along with a couple emails back and forth with our resident graphic designer, Miss Giraffe, that helped to get us to this final design. Giraffe gets total credit for the entire design on the first and last pages because I couldn't have come up with that awesomeness on my own.

I also finished the postcard RSVP that we will send with the invitation:

I am going to add one of the wedding photos from the invitation as the front of the postcard. So what do you think? Big improvement? Any changes I need to make or wording that needs to be tweeked?

Feb 22, 2011

A VERY VERY Budget At Home Reception

So here's the thing. We have about $4,000 to spend on our at home reception. Out of that $4,000 we have to purchase food for the 200 people we are inviting, pay for rentals (tent, tables, chairs, etc) and still have enough money to decorate the Meerkat In-Laws backyard with. *deep breath*

I am hoping that we can pull off a bright colored, whimsical-chic, backyard, love story themed shindig. Here is kind of the idea we are going for:

sources: 12

Yea the budget is going to be tight but I know we can do this if we are smart about how we spend the money. The bad part is I have high standards and I want everything to feel/look luxe even if it's not.

On top of the budget constraint I am struggling with the fact that our reception doesn't really have a theme outside of "our love story". While I am going to tie together all the food, favors and photos into the "our love story" theme, I am still going to need bold, colorful, cost effective, visual elements that tie the whole party together.

Here is what I have so far. Beside using our big pink heart above as a design element I think I would like to use chalkboards signs with colorful chalk.

Big, bright, tissue poms on the tables and around the yard:

I would also like to take the poms and do something like this in the roof of the clear tent we are getting:

Or maybe some of these mixed in:

I know the vision I have is still a bit raw but all the items are cost effective and have that colorful impact I am looking for. I really need to decide in the next couple weeks how we want to progress so that we can get projects started. *deep breath* I am trying not to panic.

Are these enough design elements to pull it all together? I would love to hear what you would add or take away if this was your very, very budget reception.

Feb 20, 2011

Fun R.S.V.P. Wording?

In my last post I showed you our at home reception invitations I have started working on. They are coming along great (wait until you see them!) but I am stuck on the R.S.V.P. wording. The traditional styles of wordings are just not the fun atmosphere we want this party to be. I have seen a few really fun styles that I L-O-V-E!

One of the first ones I fell for was Mrs. Nacho's:

When I read her post I LOL'ed. I love the personalized nature of the choices. "Better than a Saturday night at Denny's" - awesome.

Of course there is also the ever popular mad libs wording:

I like this but how many of our guests have never even heard of mad libs? I know that some of my aunts and uncle would be a bit confused. That search though let me to find the Be There With Bells On wording:

I really do love this but once again I am worried about confusing guests.

Or I could ditch all those ideas and go with a traditional yes/no style but add some fun wording (ala Mrs. Sand Dollar).

GAHHH! There are just so many options I am not sure what to go with. I want them to be unique without confusing everyone or being seen as overly silly.

If you were a guests which style would you like to see?

Simple But Fun (ala Mrs. Sand Dollar)
Mad Lib Style
"Be There With Bells On"
Totally Unique (ala Mrs. Nacho's)

Feb 16, 2011

I Need Your Help Hive!

I am ashamed. For the last few weeks I have been doing the newly wed relaxation thing and our at home reception has snuck up on me. It is three months away, EEEPPP! How did this happen? It seems like we just got home from the wedding. I have not done a single thing. So now I have to double time all the planning. I have exactly four weeks to design, print, assemble and mail 120 invitations. *gulp*

Hive, I could sure use your help with designing our invitations.

Our theme for the at home reception is simply "Our Story". Very colorful, whimsical yet chic decor (ala Scissors) with signs and photos EVERYWHERE telling why the different things at the reception are important to us or why we love them. Everything at the reception from the food to the favors will have some kind of significance. More to come on this in a later post, I promise.

So my idea for the invitations is to create a little "book" that tells our story. I would love to do something that looks like this on the outside but with bakers twine instead of raffia:

Or like this:

Then for the inside pages it would tell about how we met, got engaged.... Well you get the idea. I have put together a VERY primitive version of what I would like the page to look like. Here is what I have so far:

(Click the image for a larger version.)

As you can see it is missing A LOT of... well something. Hive, here is where I need your help! I have no idea what to write or even if the design looks good. I already had a friend tell me she didn't like the typewriter key heading font so I know there are things I can improve. 

What are your thoughts? Do you like the design? If you were a guests what kind of things would you want to read about? I would love to hear what things you would change if this was your invitation! :-P

What Would I Do Again?

I know what your thinking, is Meerkat ever going to write her recaps?! I promise they are coming soon. I have seen the proofs and now we are just waiting for the disc of images.

While I am waiting for the disc, I thought I might preface our recaps with some of the things that went well at our wedding. I spent a lot of time questioning everything from having a small wedding to hiring a DJ. So I am going to share some of the things that I debated about but would definitely do again. I hope that they help anyone else debating these same things. :-P

#1: Destination Wedding In Mexico
This is the number one thing I would do again. It was paradise. Really, it was. It was like stepping right into the middle of a tropical paradise.

#2: Small & Intimate Wedding
It was amazing having just 21 people with us. Since we have HUGE families I was really worried about missing that atmosphere but it was perfect number of people. Instead of only being able to say hi and bye to each guest we were able to have some quality time with each of them. And with the wedding being mid-week almost all of our guests took the entire week off and came early so we got to spend a couple days before the wedding with them.

#3: Hire a DJ
DO THIS! With a small number of guests we debated about just using an MP3 player. Our family and friends are not really dancing people so it didn't seem like a good investment.  I am so glad now though that we got a DJ because guess what? EVERYONE danced! And I am pretty sure it was because we had our DJ, Bijan, rockin' it out. He not only kept the party going but did it with the rock music we all love. After hearing his selections I know we never could have come close to making the amazing playlist he did. Not to mention being able to read the crowd and adjust the tempo accordingly. Some of my favorite memories are from the reception and happened because of Bijan.

#4: Getting Raw Video Instead of an Edited Version
I questioned this in the beginning but now that I can see the video I am glad we got all of the video not just a highlights/edited version. The day went by in such a blur that I am ecstatic we have all these memories in hard copy. Mr. Meerkat is working on a edited version for our at home reception so I get the best of both worlds.

#5: Spend the Week Before the Wedding Relaxing
The last couple days before we flew out for the wedding we were both so stressed out trying to get the last of the wedding stuff done along with our normal work. When we got to Mexico we were able to spend the few nights just relaxing which let me tell you was one of the smartest things we could have done. By the time the wedding arrived we both felt completely relaxed and it showed!
What things did you debate about but would do over again in heartbeat?

Feb 14, 2011

Bees Life: Meerkat Edition


What Is It Like To Be A Bee?

It is amazing and very rewarding but also nerve racking and time consuming at the same time. 

When you blog on a public forum like this you really put yourself out there. No matter how many times I post on here, I still get a little nervous when a new posts goes up. After spending a couple hours pouring my heart and soul into a post, I worry what if no one likes my idea? What if my post is dull and no one reads or comments on it? But then someone will comment on how I have helped or inspired them and the rewarding part of being a blogger kicks in.

There is also a part of being a bee that is a bit weird for me too. I have seen us Bees referred to as "the cool kids on the other side of the lunch room". Holy crap, I'm cool?!?! Wait, when did this happen? *grin* I have never been in "that cool kid" group and guess what? I'm still not. Part of what rocks about being a bee is that we are all down to earth, fun lovin', everyday brides. I am just a girl who marches to the beat of her own drummer just like many of the other bees.

How I Fell In Love With Weddingbee

I stumbled onto Weddingbee not long after we got engaged. I was doing a Google search for wedding inspiration when the 'bee popped up. I think I spent the next five minutes trying to figure why all these people were calling themselves by names of edible objects. I quickly decided there was a whole bunch of crazy going on at that site and went back to my Google search.

A few months later a friend asked if I had tried Weddingbee. I typed in the address and thought "OMG it's those crazy food people again!!", except this time there was a peep toed shoe thrown in the mix. WTH?! My curiosity got the better of me so I started to click around. Once I figured out it was a bunch of different brides blogging about their weddings, I was addicted.

Why I Started Blogging

Mr. Meerkat is really the one who got me started blogging. He already had a blog of his own filled with all the techy stuff we love but he also wanted to have a blog dedicated to our wedding to share with our family around the country. At first he was the sole blogger on our wedding site. After a couple months I decided, who knows why, to write up a post about our engagement photographer and as you can probably guess I fell head over heels for it.

I had been blogging on our little wedding site for a while when the idea came to me to create my own blog. One where I could talk about not just our final decisions but the different ideas that got us there. I wanted to be able to share the whole planning journey with other people planning a wedding. And out of nowhere the thought hit me like a ton of bricks; I wanted to be a bee.

My Application Story

My blogging began in secret, I didn't even tell Mr. Meerkat.

After a few weeks of writing my little heart out, I decided to give Mr. Meerkat and his cousin, who is a writer, a peek at my new blog. They loved it and encouraged me to apply to Weddingbee but it wasn't until I saw Mrs. Penguin's post calling for application submissions that I finally got the guts to send in the applicaiton I had been tweeking for weeks.

I waited patiently that first week, still no word but I remained hopeful. I mean you can't ask for miracles over night right? As the second week went by and Miss Elephant was introduced I got worried. Did the hive really need two brides planning a travel themed wedding? By the time the third week started I had convinced myself that I had been rejected and calculated out how long it would be before I could apply again.

Then at the end of the third week, on a quiet Saturday morning, an email arrived in my inbox from Mrs. Penguin. Mr. Meerkat happen to see it pop up and being the sneak he is, stole a peak. (I really think he was as excited as I was to see if I been accepted.) When he saw that I had indeed been accepted as a new blogger he came into the other room with this huge grin on his face and said he has some good news. He teased for a couple minutes asking what it was worth to me. Of course having no idea the awesome news he had, I just laughed it off and gave him my impatient look. After about five minutes of teasing he 'fessed up and told me that I had been accepted. I did a full body jump into his arms, legs wrapped around his waist hug. The whole time screaming and yelling "OMG are you sure that's what it said?!?!".  After I verified that I was indeed accepted (as in rereading Penguins email about twenty times), we sat down together and both agreed that there was only one icon that was for us, the meerkat. (Not to mention it reminded us so much of our puppies)

My One And Only Tip

Pay it forward.  Blogging isn't just about showing your ideas. It's about inspiring others and helping them. When someone comments and says that I have inspired them to try something new, I know I have succeeded in paying it forward. So as your writing, think about what way your post can help someone. Whether it be through inspiration, tips or simply some moral support.

Feb 9, 2011

Meerkat Signage

At the same time I was creating our reserved seating signs I decided to also create a couple other signs that I knew we would need.  First thing I thought of was some instructions for our guestbook since it was not a standard sign your name here style.

Each page in our guestbook had a question to help prompt our guests to write down some of their favorite memories of us.

And let me tell you it worked like a champ. I can't tell you the number of times I have flipped through the book and read all the sweet things people wrote. Yes I will share some of the stories with you but not until I start recaps. *evil grin*

Onto the second sign I made. It was to go with our little Meerkat statue that sat at the head table.

Not all of our family and friends know I am a blogger here at the hive.  I was pretty sure it would seem odd to them that I had a statue of cartoon meerkats on the head table. So I thought an explanation was probably in order.

By the way totally don't take these numbers as statistical fact. I tried to find the actual numbers but couldn't so I took a guess based off some percentage I read back when I first applied. Yea thats what happens when you wait until the last minute.

What kind of signage are you having at your wedding?

Feb 7, 2011

Please Don't Let Me Be Ugly

 So it's time for one of those honesty in blogging moments.

All during our wedding planning one of my biggest fears was that I would be ugly in our wedding photos. No this isn't a tell-Mrs.-Meerkat-she's-not-a-ugo post. This is one of those lets be realistic posts.

When you spend so much time looking at photos of GORGEOUS brides on wedding blogs there is a standard that gets set in the back of your mind. I don't even know when the standard got set for me but now when I look at some of our wedding photos, I think "I don't look like those brides I see on blogs".

The photo on the left is pretty much what I look like any day of the week. That is average ole Meerkat for ya which I am totally cool with. But then I look at the photo on the right. While it still kind of looks like me it's not the image I had in my head of what bride me should look like. I know I am being way harder on myself than I should. As I look through the photos people took they are not all bad. Some of them look amazing. Now that should make me happy right?

My Weddingbee hero, Mrs. Hot Wings, said it best in her post about her gummy smile. Since there is nothing she can do about her smile, she is simply accepting the fact that this is just the way things are. So I am going to take a page from the book of Hot Wings and do the same thing. I am going to let go and just accept that I will not look like some drool worthy bride modeling for a wedding blog. Instead I will simply look like me. And you know what? I think thats enough.

Does anyone else ever feel like this?

Feb 2, 2011

The True Meaning Of A Gift

At some point in your lives your going to be a wedding guest. It's basically enviable. And the WORST part (at least for me) is trying to find the perfect gift, especially back when I was just out of college and broke as hell. So I thought it was time to look at this whole wedding gift thing from a newly wed's perspective.

When I give a gift I am always worried if I spent enough or if the gift will even get used. But you know what? The cost of the gifts we got never played into if we liked them. And we have used every single thing we got. What mattered was someone cared enough to get us a gift (or even just a card). I want to show you a couple of things we got that make me smile.

1.) A drawing from a six year old on plane
Cousin S. sat next to a six year old girl on the flight to Mexico. When this little girl found out we were getting married she drew us a picture with sponge bob and told Cousin S. that was her wedding gift to us. How could I not treasure our very first wedding present?

See there's sponge bob in the pineapple.

2.) Antique Mexican Nativity Scene

Mr. Meerkats Grandmother gave us one of the sweetest gifts ever (even though her husband told her it was ugly as sin and no one would want it). It is a nativity scene that Mr. Meerkats uncle had brought back from Mexico decades ago for her. It is very special to Mr. Meerkat's Grandmother as it was the last thing her brother gave her before he passed away. The little nativity scene has so much history and love associated with it I don't know how anyone couldn't fall in love with it. We are keeping it out year around in our curio cabinet.

3.) Six pack of beer and a bottle of wine
A co-worker of mine was sweet enough to watch our house and cats while we were gone. We came home to find he had gotten us a six pack of beer and a bottle of wine to celebrate our first day back home as husband and wife.

4.) Handmade ornament & egg nog
Remember my friend Jax? When we got home we found she had mailed us an ornament with our wedding monogram on it for our first Christmas. Not to mention she also included the recipe and all the ingredients for Puerto Rican egg nog so that we could celebrate our first Christmas in style. Totally nom-nom-nom!

See what I mean. Each of these things were so amazingly thoughtful that they mean the world to us. So next time your out shopping for a gift keep in mind that great gifts some in all shapes, sizes and denominations.

Now I have to ask, have you received (or given) any gifts that were extra thoughtful that make you tear up?