Wedding Recap: Part 7 - "Day-Of" Pictures

Friday, July 30, 2010

On our wedding day, we decided to go the non-traditional route that is becoming more and more popular. We planned a “first look”. We knew we wanted to do pictures in the city of Detroit, but we didn’t want to miss out on our reception. The only way to make it work was to do pictures before the ceremony.

At around 3’oclock on my wedding day, my little brother walked me through the Detroit Renaissance Center to meet Evan on the first floor of the GM Building. Along the way people were asking me if I was a bride, stopping and staring and some even snapping pictures. Evan stood with his back to me and I approached. It was kind of a funny thing that we probably didn’t need to go through, but it is the new tradition and could have made for a good surprised face photo. After a few moments of looking each other over, we headed to the People Mover to go on our photo tour of Detroit.

The weather was warm on the day of the wedding, so we were a little worried about getting sweaty before the ceremony. Luckily we passed a CVS on our way out of the building and Evan and our photographer, Chris, stopped in to get something to keep us dried off. The best thing they could find was a pack of socks. So we each had a sock that could be ours to keep dry and luckily had some extras to give to the groomsmen once the whole bridal party was to meet up outside.

Armed with a roll of quarters we jumped on a off the People Mover to get pictures all over the city. Again our photographers already had sites planned where they wanted to shoot. Some empty city streets, some at the People Mover stations, the classic monument shots and strolling through Greektown. All day cars were slowing down and honking as they passed, people yelled congratulations out the windows and some took photos for themselves. It was comical to watch me carry the dress around town, trying not to totally brown the bottom.

Fortunately, the dress was easy to manage once I figured out my system. I was so happy with the way all of these pictures turned out. And it was no stress at all to know that we still had plenty of time until the wedding would begin, instead of having to worrying that we were missing the party.

Wedding Recap: Part 6 Engagement Session

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We had our engagement photo session the Thursday before the wedding. It was a nice feature that was included in the photography package we chose and it was good practice for us to be in front of a camera. Neither Evan nor I consider us to be very photogenic, so it took a little while to get used to having people take our picture. We had looked through lots of photographs that our photographers had done for photo shoots and the scenes from Belle Isle really stuck out to me. So we chose to do our session there, on largest island park in the United States.

Our photographers already had a bunch of different sites around the island scouted out for our photos. They look at things completely different from us. They see light and texture and all kinds of details that don’t even flash in my brain. One our favorite pictures from the session was this photo that they took in the reflection of a big puddle in the road.

Belle Isle was a wonderful place for pictures, but I would have had no idea where to even begin if it weren’t for Michelle and Chris. We were pretty awkward at the beginning of the session, but their direction and calm demeanor put us at ease. The whole session was less than two hours and we got pictures at a ton of different sites. I am really glad to have these photos of us while we are young and pretty.

Wedding Recap: Part 5 – The Photographers

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I received a lot of advice from people while wedding planning, but one of the things that stuck out in my mind was something my friend, Jenn Mapp, said to me right after her wedding. “Get a great photographer!” She told me this as her wedding was being featured on Style Me Pretty and in Weddings Unveiled Magazine. The photos of her wedding day captured the beauty of her day in a way that took you right back to the feeling of the day. I knew I wanted that.

One of the main reasons I hired a wedding coordinator was to recommend me a great photographer and that she did. Chris and Michelle Gerard of Inspired Art Portraits are two of the most talented people I have ever met. And they are just great people in general. We visited their studio in Ferndale, Michigan on one of our planning trips and were thoroughly impressed. These two are true artists with their craft.

There were two major things that I had not expected about our photographers. Number 1, they had our pictures from the engagement session up online for us to view less than 10 hours after the photo shoot. Same goes for the wedding pictures. Michelle had posted on facebook, an amazing assortment of photos from throughout our wedding day the day after the wedding! It was so nice to be able to immediately share pictures with people who couldn’t be at the wedding. Not something your average wedding photographer can do. (I don’t think she sleeps.) The second thing I was surprised by was just how amazing the photos turned out. I had seen their work before and knew how talented they were, but it was incredible to see the wedding day through their lenses. Everything was even more beautiful that I had remembered and that is an amazing feat.

More amazing photos coming this week. Stay tuned!

Wedding Recap: Part 4 – The Décor

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wedding decorations are the thing that most brides obsess over during the wedding planning process and I was no exception. I bought countless Brides Magazines and read the wedding blogs on a daily basis to get ideas for décor. Flowers, candles, crafts, tablecloths and chiavari chairs were all I could think about for months. Happily on the wedding day, everything fell into place and the event was beautiful.

Our set up for the ceremony was simple and elegant. We had our ceremony in a rehearsal room at the Max Fisher Music Center. The space was long and narrow and the room had a golden glow to it. I knew that I didn’t want to get married under a floral arch and when I saw a photo in Martha Stewart Wedding Magazine, the L.O.V.E signs were engrained in my brain. My florist, Sandy of Wesley Berry, did an amazing job of creating a beautiful and simple look for these signs from the tiny little picture ripped from the magazine. She added the floral accent and the candles inside the stands which were really nice touches. The must have chiavari chairs were set in simple rows with my tissue pomanders on every other row. To save a few dollars, we used the same chairs for the reception. The event crew simply pulled the chairs out of the ceremony room and set them up in the reception area while guests were in line at the bar at the beginning of the cocktail hour. I sincerely don’t think anyone really noticed the switch out. And this little savings is how I rationalized a linen upgrade.

The “tablescape” was something I spent a lot of time thinking about. Since we did not have a formal dinner at our reception, I knew that we wouldn’t have place settings on our tables. I didn’t want the tables to look empty, but did want there to be space for people to eat. The florist did an excellent job creating the look that did exactly that. We did single flower arrangements in different sized cube glass vases. On the larger tables we had three vases and on the smaller tall boy tables we had just one arrangement. The arrangements were great contrasting colors in orange, green and cream, that looked really nice next to our glass bluebird wedding favors. At the last minute I added some frosted votive candle holders to add a little mood once the lights went down. Linens for the reception space were the brightest orange the rental company, Special Events Rental, had in their racks. The lobby space was steel grey floors with gold and russet accents. I knew I wanted something bright to liven up the room.

The venue itself was a space that needed very little to make it feel glamorous. The gold and marble staircase was one of my favorite features of the space. Evan and I spent some time watching our guests on the dance floor from the top of the stairs while the party raged. It was a great place to reflect on it all. Having the wedding reception at a theatre was the perfect venue for the kind of vision I had for my wedding day. I wouldn’t have done anything different.

All Photos were provided by Inspired Art Portraits.

Rehearsal Dress

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The dress I wore to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner was another generous gift from my little brother. I have been getting so many compliments on this dress, I figured I could post some more pictures.
(Sorry about the photo quality, these were borrowed from friends on facebook since I did not take any photos of my own.)

The dress was a beautiful royal blue satin faced organza. The top of the dress was a similar bodice as my wedding dress and the skirt was a frayed super-mini. Thank goodness I had a spray tan that morning. All I told my brother was that I wanted a blue dress. He did the rest. I had purchased the bright yellow heels just for fun a few weeks before the wedding. They went perfectly with the bright blue frock.

Wedding Recap: Part 3 – The Rehearsal Dinner

Monday, July 19, 2010

When scouting the hotels where we would book our wedding block, a nice restaurant where we could have our rehearsal dinner was one of the criteria we looked for. The Marriott at the Renaissance Center had a ton of wonderful amenities and the beautiful set up at 42 degrees North sealed the deal. The restaurant’s patio overlooked the Detroit River and Canadian skyline. On the day we visited in March the temperature left something to be desired, but the day before our wedding the weather was blue skies and perfect!

When we originally spoke to the assistant manager, she quoted me a $500 fee to reserve the patio for our party of 26. Since the patio sat 50 people, I decided not to pay the fee to make our dinner private. As luck would turn out, we had the whole patio to ourselves anyway! So, the evening before we tied the knot, we invited our bridal party to dinner on the beautiful patio at 42 degrees North.

When we walked out and saw the set-up, it reminded me of something out of a Top Chef episode. The silver tables were set up banquet style in a long line. At each place setting was the customized menu that I slaved over during my bridal crafting sessions. The beautiful blue sky and matching clear water in the river. The scene was picturesque.

The beautiful view as we ate was just extra to the wonderful company of our friends and family. We were entertained by Michael’s stories about how he used to work on the big cargo boats that cruised up and down the Detroit River. He told us the secret to how you identify what country of origin the boats are from. If they have a Canadian flag, they are Canadian boats and if they have an American flag, they are from the United States. That logic seamed simple to follow until the next boat drove by with both flags waving.

The dinner was a really nice time to welcome and thank all of the people who traveled to be part of our celebration. The thank you gifts we brought for our bridesmaids and groomsmen were wine glasses and beer mugs that were painted with caricatures to look like each person in our bridal party. I found the etsy site, Fizzy Artist, through an update that our day of coordinator sent out. They were a little silly, but definitely a hit.

The final surprise of the night was a little something that my mother-in-law and I had planned. I wanted Evan to have a grooms’ cake and thought it would be nice to do it as a surprise for him at the rehearsal dinner. Evan has always been a big fan of Kid Rock and since we were getting married in Detroit, I thought we could do something with the Kid in his hometown. Evan’s mother had a great idea to put a picture of Evan in an outfit very similar to something the Kid would wear on the cake with a Detroit message, “Ain’t no party like a Detroit party”. So I sent the picture of Evan and she did everything else. She had it made at a store in Evan’s home town, Kalkaska, and had to bring the edible photos with her all the way to Detroit to put them on the cake herself. It was a total surprise.

Wedding Recap: Part 2 – The Maids

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The story of my bridesmaids and their dresses is a comical one indeed. I don’t know how to pick out clothes for other people. I barely know how to pick out clothes for myself. I wear a different version of a black dress every day of my life. And since my girls weren’t wearing little black dresses, the process of picking out what they would wear went something like this.

Brother – “What kind of dresses do you want the girls to wear?”

Me – “I don’t know, something cute.”

Brother – “You need a dress that is simple so that all the girls will look good in it.”

Me – “OK”

Brother – “What about something like this (holding up a strapless dress in teal from his rack-o-dresses)”

Me – “OK”

And that is how the dresses were chosen. Not very eventful. See, I have this problem. All my friends are way too nice and would never tell me they don’t like something. They just say, “what ever you want, you are the bride.” This seems like a good problem to have, when in fact, it makes me crazy. I never know if in actuality I am “that bride” that is making my girls wear something that they hate and they are secretly cursing me and planning revenge for when they get married.

Believe me, I deserve this revenge.

The first debacle was the shoes. I wear high heels almost every day of my life, so I don’t really have a concept of what kind of shoes normal people wear. So I picked a pair of strappy heels from Nine West and yes, I knew they were 4 inch heels, but aren’t all heels at least 4 inches? Some of the girls were a little worried about the heel and worried about the strappy, but no one would directly tell me that they didn’t like the shoes. I would hear from one girl that another girl was concerned about them, and then would throw in, “don’t tell her I told you”. I was pretty much stuck. My only saving grace was that Nine West has unlimited exchanges online, so they could try different sizes until they found ones that fit and were the most comfortable. Plus, they looked really cute, so once the girls saw them, they like them (so they tell me to my face.) And luckily the shoes ended up going on super sale and running each girl around $30. Thank goodness.

Now for the dresses, let me start by saying, these girls looked gorgeous in these dresses. The process of getting them fitted was not the most ideal. I took the first measurements after a glass of wine during my pom pom party. They weren’t terrible, but some of the girls’ measurements confused my poor designer. He did the best he could to get a first draft ready and brought the dresses down for the girls to try on about 7 weeks before the wedding. (Jessica, Evan’s sister, was not there for the fitting with my brother, more on that later.) I didn’t exactly organize this fitting as if to say, plan it on a calendar and invite people to attend. I just kind of called people the day before and said, “Can you come try on this dress?” When they had free minute one Sunday, they one by one stopped over my Mother’s house to get fitted. We had to take one of the dresses in the backroom of Hats In the Belfry for my girl who couldn’t get off work. He pinned and tucked to make sure every dress fit perfectly, took them to New York for alterations and then shipped them back to my Maryland the week before the wedding. Two dresses still weren’t quite right and had to be shipped overnight back to New York for final alterations. I am sorry to who ever had to work overtime to fix them two days before the wedding.

Rewind to a place in Michigan. Since Jessica couldn’t be at the fitting with my brother, we shipped her dress and told her she could take it to any alterations shop if she needed alterations. The seamstress that ended up working on Jessica’s dress didn’t really know what she was doing (didn’t see our vision) and ended up shortening the dress, significantly. After alterations, it just wasn’t something that Jessica could picture herself wearing. She had a mini-breakdown (because she also happened to be taking exams in accelerated courses at Michigan State) and I told her, she didn’t have to wear the dress. Really it was not worth the stress, since I had no idea what the dress looked like after being chopped by an unknown seamstress. She would be much happier in a dress she could pick out herself.

Side story: I was talking with Evan about this decision to have Jessica pick her own dress. I told him that I know exactly how she must feel. I would get so overwhelmed during College exams that I could barely sleep at night, let alone plan for a family members wedding in a dress that was way too mini. Evan’s response was, “yeah, but Jessica is not like you, she is really smart.”

Day of the wedding, all the girls (including Jessica) tried on the dresses for my brother to see. Turns out, they all looked fantastic! Everyone was excited and happy to put them on and be the most beautiful version of bridesmaids that I have ever seen. That was until; we told everyone that they weren’t allowed to sit down until after the ceremony. Yes, you read that correctly. The first bridesmaid (who happens to be a very skinny girl) sat down and her dress popped open right under the zipper. Oops! Good thing we had an excellent sewer in the room who was able to fix it with not even a hint that it happened. Thus the rule, “no sitting in the dress.”

My girls were absolute troopers. No one complained even the slightest. One of the most memorable moments of the day was the trolley ride to the venue. All the girls (including myself) stood-up and held on for the ride through Detroit. All the guys sat comfortable in their suits except for my brother who stood with us because he was the one who made the rule about sitting (isn’t that sweet). Once at the venue, some girls started to find things to lean on, or asked for help taking the 4 inch heels off until the ceremony started. My brother kept a watchful eye on the girls in the dresses, to make sure no one tried to sneak a seat. After the ceremony, I told all the girls to get themselves a drink at the bar and grab a seat. But by that time they were having too much fun to sit down. I don’t think Jessica sat the whole night and kept the heels on!

I expect that I will be wearing a full Chiquita Banana Fruit Headdress, with a hot pink body suit and Lady Gaga 6 inch platform heels in order to make this up to my girls. I owe them all big time!

Wedding Recap: Part 1

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It is hard to know where to begin when it comes to wedding recaps. Do I post chronologically starting from our drive to Michigan? Do I do all the wedding week recaps first and the honeymoon recaps second? What about all the other pre-wedding things that I still haven’t posted, do I just forget about those altogether? This was a tough decision that I had to make, but I am confident that you all will be happy with my decision of where to begin. I give you the DRESS…..ES!

That’s right! I am bringing out the big guns.

It is amazing how different a dress feels on your wedding day. At my final (and only) fitting that took place just 4 weeks before my wedding day, I felt the same way I have felt every time my brother let’s me try on one of his runway masterpieces. I feel like a super model and can’t believe that he created this amazing gown. But I wouldn’t say that I felt bridal. The dress fit perfectly and didn’t need any alterations, so I just tried it on, walked a few steps and then the fitting was over. At that time in the NYC studio, it didn’t really feel like my dress. I left excited to be wearing it at my wedding, but didn’t necessarily feel a connection to the dress itself. All of that changed when the huge box arrived at the Marriott in Detroit. While I was checking in to our room, the head of the concierge desk approached me and said, “I have your dress.” Butterflies. They wheeled it up to the room and I unpacked it carefully in the spare closet, making sure Evan could not to see it. I stood in the closet and thought to myself, “This is the most amazing dress I have ever seen and it’s mine”.

At that moment I felt that if a wedding dress could be a person’s soul mate, this was mine (other than my husband, of course). The white satin and tulle masterpiece created by my little brother was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams. On my wedding day, my brother held it open while I stepped into it in a room full of my best friends in the world. It was a stop-and-remember-this-moment moment that I had been advised to relish in. I felt like I was wearing a cloud.

After I was dressed, my brother helped me walk through the hotel to meet Evan on the bottom level. Taking that dress down 3 escalators was truly a laughable task. I was asked several times if I was a Bride which I responded to, “No, I’m not.” which really threw some people for a loop. Evan and I spent the afternoon traipsing around Detroit City with our photographers of Inspired Art, taking the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. I mastered the art of holding the dress up, so it wouldn’t drag on the ground. And then it was time to get married to my best friend, in my dress, my beautiful wedding dress that my little brother made for me.

After the ceremony Evan and I rushed upstairs to have a moment to relax and realize what just happened. It was another stop-and-remember-this-moment moment that was captured by our photographers in my favorite picture of the day.

Then everything went in a whirl, cake cutting, toasts, first dance, and the first two hours were gone. After a few dances and a few drinks I decided it was time to get busy and changed into the party dress. The party dress was what I had been keeping as a surprise, but when it came down to it, I didn’t have time to make another entrance. I just casually walked in the room and hit the dance floor. The short flirty dress still felt bridal, but bridal in a fun, let’s dance all night, kind of way, and dance I did, all night with a few short breaks to mingle with guests.

Photo by Uncle Terry

The dresses played a big part in my day as a bride and I can’t imagine the day in any other outfit.

More on the attire of the day coming soon. Wait till you hear about those bridesmaids.

**All photos provided by Inspired Art Photography unless noted otherwise

Bridal Shower

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First I want to say thank you to all of my readers and friends who have sent lovely messages over the last two weeks. I know that everyone is dying to here about the BIG DAY, but unfortunately we will all have to wait a few days for me to get those posts going. We just returned from our amazing honeymoon in San Francisco, Calistoga and Napa, California. We are unpacking and settling back in to life. Back to work tomorrow. :( But I hate to leave everyone with no news. So, I give you my Bridal Shower recap!
I find myself remembering fondly the past few weeks of bridal love from my wonderful friends. I am very fortunate to have accumulated a wonderful group of ladies who have supported me in many aspects of my life. It was really nice to be able to share all of this wedding excitement with them.
One of my best friends in the world and my longest friend of life, Jill Barber, planned the most wonderful Bridal Shower a girl could ever ask for. Every little detail was perfect. She had a very creative theme planned for the shower, “Around the Clock”. She sent invitations with a picture of a clock and each guest was assigned a time of day and told to bring a gift that represented that time of day. It made things a lot of fun without silly bridal games. My guests picked gifts that were personal and clever, gift sets for a picnic lunch for the mid-day hours, gift baskets with all the things for a perfect morning of sleeping in for the morning hours, adorable PJs from Mom and of course the nighttime attire that only my dancer friends would know would have me turning shades of purple from embarrassment for those late hours.
Jill knows that I am not one for games, like making a wedding dress out of toilet paper, so she picked a couple quick activities that were fun for a group of women all ages. She had a trivia game to name famous married couples and a “who knows Shannon best?” activity that I even had trouble answering all the questions. I think my Mom won that one. She did a beautiful job of making it the perfect mix of classy and casual. Literally, some of my guests left with notes for future showers that they planned to host.
Jill’s parents hosted the shower at their house and prepared all the food and desserts. Mrs. Barber used to have a pastry business and is known for throwing great parties. Since I was a little girl, I have been going to parties at the Barber’s house. Jill and I would run around and grab for goodies when grown ups weren’t looking. My favorite of all of Mrs. Barber’s desserts has always been her cream puffs (mini-éclairs). When I was around 10 years old, I ate 10 of them at one of these parties until I was discovered and shooed away. I am pretty sure I was sick from all the deliciousness. At my shower, I could have as many as I wanted! But, it was hard to focus on the cream puffs when she had 4 other mouth watering desserts displayed including a tiramisu cake. Guests are still talking about those desserts.

It was a wonderful day with great friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off to the wedding whirlwind that would ensue in the following weeks.

Wedding recaps coming this week. I promise.