Friday, October 30, 2009

Stylin' The Garden Center: Our Rehearsal Dinner Decor

In my last post I shared with you our rehearsal dinner location, the San Mateo Garden Center. I'm so excited about it, it's going to be so much better than just a picnic in the park! Now, I'll show you how we plan to enhance the look of the location for the dinner.

And to do that I, of course, had to break out the PhotoShop! Here are some before and after pictures, with my decoration ideas added on top of the pictures I took.

We'll have drinks and mingling on the deck near the gazebo and koi fish pond:

And have paper bag luminaries for lighting accents:

With drinks and appetizers set up to the side:

And tables set up on the patio, with the buffet table along the wall of the building:

With more paper bag luminaries out to the front gate:

And here are the details on the decorations, most of which I already purchased:

Chocolate Linen Like disposable table cloths - $83.95 for 12 (but I'll be using leftovers for our Sunday luncheon)
Blue square paper plates - $31.95
Blue square paper napkins - $24.95
White plastic silverware - $10 (guessing on the price, since I haven't gotten these yet)
Clear plastic wine glasses - $25.95 (will be using leftovers for mimosas at luncheon)
14" blue LED lanterns - $45 for 10
LED cordless lights for lanterns - $47.50 for 10
Silk gardenia flowers for around base of lanterns - $30 (guessing on the price, since I haven't gotten these yet)
Paper bag luminaries and candles - $29.99 for 72
Gardenia scented candles for tables - $6.96 for 24
White frosted candle holders for tables - $23.76 for 24
3 wood frames for buffet table signs - $12 (guess, haven't found yet)
Paper for table signs - free, since I'll use leftovers from other projects

That's a total of $372.01 for decorations, not too bad (especially compared to the wedding cost!)

For food we're still planning to do Armadillo Willy's BBQ, which is being carried over from our BBQ in the park plan. Their food is super yummy, I'm sure everyone will love it, and for only $40 they come and set up the food for you.

How do you plan to decorate for your rehearsal dinner? Will you be using the same color scheme as your wedding, or going with something different?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Road Bump: Finding A Rehearsal Dinner Venue

As I alluded to in my last post, we went and looked at the reservable picnic spots at the San Mateo park, and were completely disappointed. We had wanted to do a casual BBQ in the park, so we could have all our close family and out of town guests attend the rehearsal dinner, and Central Park was relatively close to the Marriott where everyone would be staying. But when we went to go look at the picnic sites, they were Ugly, with a capital U!

The four sites were all practically on top of each other, with old bark under the tables, and right across from a loud playground and busy street corner. We were thinking if we did the casual park set up, we'd put out frisbees and a badminton net, to provide some entertainment other than staring at each other across picnic tables. But here, the grass was nowhere nearby, and pretty much this plan just wasn't going to work. (sorry, I didn't take pics of the ugly picnic sites because I didn't want to be rude and take pictures of strangers eating. You'll just have to take my word for how lame the sites were!)

So, back to the drawing board. After looking at the San Mateo park, I spent the entire week researching potential new locations. And believe me, it wasn't easy. We were trying to spend under $2,000, since that's what the FIL Colas were contributing to the dinner. And for about 35 people, that's not easy to do in this area! Here were the options I came up with:

Kingfish, downtown San Mateo


However, their cheapest dinner option is $38 per person, not including tax, tip or drinks. So that would be a grand total of $2,462.21, allowing each person to spend $15 on drinks (which is really only about 2 drinks eac
h), and including tax and tip.

Porterhouse, downtown San Mateo

Their cheapest dinner option is $35 a person, also not including tax, tip or drinks, so it would be $2,326.50 total. Not much less than the first option.

Fish Market, across freeway from The Marriott

Looks-wise, this was the best option (as I'm sure you've guessed by now, I love things being outdoors!), and they would let us make our own pre fixe menu. That turned out being between $26.75-34.75 a person, depending on which men
u item they chose. But that was still $2,315.19 total.

Coyote Point Museum, Coyote Point Park, San Mateo

This place looked pretty decent, being that it was outdoors, and assumedly we could have it catered for less than the restaurant options. But it was not meant to be, since they never answered my 3 e-mails asking for pricing and rental info.

San Mateo Garden Center, central San Mateo

(pictures taken by me)

This place is located in central San Mateo, but not too much further from the hotel than Central Park. The rental fee is only $450, including chairs and tables, for 5 hours, and we can have it catered by whoever we want. So the total before decorations would only be $1,477.49! Bringing our own beer and wine will be a huge money saver, and I love this location so much better than the BBQ in the park.

So naturally, this is the location we picked. Especially after seeing another reservable picnic spot right after seeing the Garden Center, at the park behind it:

(ick, just no comparison to the Garden Center. Photo taken by me)

So the San Mateo Garden Center is our rehearsal dinner location! And it only took me about a week of pulling out my hair to figure it out. Next up I'll share how we're going to pretty it up!

Did you struggle with finding your rehearsal dinner location? And did the price play a big part in your decision?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stop (First) Looking At Me, Swan!

For some reason every time I hear the term "First Look" I always hear Adam Sandler saying "Stop looking at me, Swan!" in Billy Madison.


After much internal debate (and I say internal, because Mr. Cola didn't care),
I/we decided that we would do the "first look," where we'd see each other all dressed up before the wedding ceremony, but stage it so it's still special. I had always really wanted to wait until I walked down the aisle for Mr. Cola to see me for the first time, but the benefits of doing it before the ceremony outweighed tradition. And also, Mr. Cola's teasing with, "Oh no, I looked at you!" and "Gee, I don't know if I want to look at you there...." kinda ruined the specialness and tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony for me. It's apparently all silliness to him.


So after making the decision to do bride and groom pictures before the ceremony, we had to find a suitable location. I didn't want to just do it in the hotel, I wanted someplace with a nice view/backdrop, and didn't want to do it at our ceremony location, so we'd have pictures at more than one location (especially important because we're not doing engagement pictures).
Unfortunately my first choice, the Pulgas Water Temple was already reserved on our day. It is right on the way to the ceremony, reservable for 2 hours at a time for $150, and is just beautiful:


So after a lot more searching, we narrowed it down to
either San Mateo Central Park (near the hotel where we'll be getting ready) or Sharon Park (on the way to the ceremony location). We then set out to visit both locations (all pictures taken by me).

This is at the Tea Garden at San Mateo Central Park:

However, there were way too many people at the Tea Garden for us to feel comfortable taking pictures with.

Next we looked at the rose garden and gazebo in San Mateo Central Park. There were less people here than at the Tea Garden, but still quite a few around.

And the office building in the background wasn't very pretty either.

After checking out these two locations at San Mateo Central Park, we went and looked at the reservable picnic spots at the park for our rehearsal dinner, which turned out to be a huge disappointment (more on that in the next post). So we drove down to Menlo Park to look at First Look option two, Sharon Park, a small park in a quiet residential neighborhood.

We only saw about 6 people the entire time we were at this park, which was a huge plus. Neither of us are too excited about posing for photos with a bunch of strangers gawking at us! The park features a pretty little lake with a paved path around it (great for me to walk on with my high heels).

This vine covered gazebo would be a perfect location for our "first look".

And after doing the "first look" pictures, we can walk around the lake, taking different bridal photos along the way.

And maybe get some more fun shots of wildlife (sorry, just had to share this pic of the awesome dragonfly in front of the fountain!)

So there you have it, our first look location! I can't wait to see the pretty pictures we'll have around the little lake, followed by pictures in front of the redwoods and bay view up at our venue. This will be a great way to maximize our time after the ceremony for family pictures, and then we can get on to the cocktail hour!

I'm still working out the details of how we'll actually execute the first look, but I'm thinking Mr. Cola and one of our photogs will take a cab to the park, and then I'll follow in the limo with our second photog about 10 minutes later, and let the photographers do the coordinating of exactly where they want us to be. We can then do the rest of the pictures around the lake, and all take the limo up to the ceremony location together.

Will you be doing a "first look" or do you prefer the more traditional option of waiting until you walk down the aisle?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sugar, Oh Honey Honey!

I just found out that Cupcake Wedding passed along an award to me, the Sugar Doll Blogger Award (thanks Cupcake!)! If you aren't already reading her blog, be sure to check it out at the link above.

I'm so excited to have won my second blog award! At least all my hard work to document every. single. project. is being read by someone!

And now, I have to write 10 interesting facts about myself and pass along the award. I'm not sure if they're that interesting, but here goes (and I'm guessing that these should be different facts than what I listed for my Kreativ Blogger Award):

1) I love to cook (especially making fun appetizers), but I rarely do much unless we're having a party or going to a party. It's way too much work to cook a huge involved meal for just two people.

(my Mini Cranberry Cheese Cakes and Salmon Cucumber Cups from Christmas last year)

2) At all times I carry a camera on me. Whether it be my Cannon PowerShot in my purse or the camera on my G-Phone, I can't not have one with me. Pretty sunset driving home, snap. Cool grasshopper in my office parking lot, snap. Weddingbee local board happy hour meet up, snap. I'm obsessed!


3) I love music (and singing in my car when I'm alone!), but I boycott iTunes. I went to college at the height of the free (but illegal) music download era, and still to this day can't justify spending $1 on every single song. I instead use Napster, their $15 a month unlimited service is a way better deal, and so what if I have to sync my MP3 player every month!

4) Every single day I HAVE TO wear earrings. I just feel naked without them for some reason, even though I know probably nobody will notice. I even keep a couple extra pairs in my car in case I ever forget them.

5) You've probably already noticed this about me, but my planning is a little on the obsessive side. I especially love planning vacations, along with step by step picture itineraries. I usually make a binder with custom tabs for each vacation, and carry it with us, so we're never without our reservation confirmations, maps, translation guides, etc. I've also planned several trips for friends, although it's not quite as fun when I know I won't get to go!

6) I've been growing my hair out for our wedding for the past 4 years. We obviously haven't been engaged that long, but there you have it. And it's about 3/4 down my back with still a little more than 7 months to go.

7) I said it before, but I have to list it again. I'm a shoe-whore. I love them, and collect them, and it's one of the things that defines me, especially at my office. There are a couple people at my work who will literally come over to see what shoes I'm wearing each day. Luckily I have a rule that I won't wear the same pair more than once a month, so it's not too hard to keep my "shoe fans" guessing.


8) Ugh, do I have to keep going? I get really annoyed at blogs that have random lists and uninteresting posts, and this is beginning to sound like one of those posts. Oh, well, I guess that's a fact, I like the blogs I read to have thought out and worthwhile posts.

9) As much as I love planning, I'm also a procrastinator on some things. Take the 15 work e-mails I still need to respond to before I can go home for the night, but what am I doing, writing this blog post!

10) Tonight I will be watching some girlie show like So You Think You Can Dance or Glee (or what ever is on my DVR), and working on wedding crafts. This is what I do pretty much every night, with a glass of wine. Don't know what I'll do to fill my time after the wedding, but that will be a whole 'nother post at some point.

Alright, now to pass this award on, so I can finish my work and get outta here! In no particular order:

The Perpetual Party Planner
A Chocolate Lover's Confessions
Running to the Wedding (also Miss Trail Mix on WB)
Girl with a Ring
Thoughts of the All Consumed Bride
joy is the best makeup
Lucky in Love
A Bride...Again
Happily After All
With this ring, I thee blog

I Heart Our Photographers

The contract with our wedding photographers was actually the first contract we signed, even before securing The Mountain Terrace as our venue. Their company is called Shoot Me Now Photography and they are friends of a friend, so we got a fabulous deal: 2 photographers for 8 hours, and all the (retouched) photos on a DVD, not watermarked, for $750. And not only that, their work is fantastic. I love the many detail shots and great candids they've showcased, so wanted to share some of my favorites. These are all from their Facebook page, but I highly recommend following the link to their website (above) for even more great examples of their work.

I'll be using a different photographer for my boudoir photos, Tiffany from Adeline & Grace, but I'll post about that later, since my shoot isn't scheduled until early March.

Are you using any friendors (friends who are vendors)? And are you as excited as I am about your photographer(s)?

Monday, October 26, 2009

To Have And To Hold....Napkins!

Another project that I found on Do-It-Yourself-Weddings, fabric and toilet paper roll napkin rings! These were super easy to do, and will add a nice pop of color to the purple napkins I plan on using on ivory table linens, like how I mocked them up in this post.

To start, I cut the green fabric (same fabric that I used for two of the card box layers) into 10 sections that were 7 inches by 33 inches:

We then cut each section into 10 2.75 inches by 6.4 inches (with the laser cutter, of course! I'm much too lazy for hand cutting!).

(yeah, see that dust on the top of the laser cutter? That's left over from sanding the wood from our biggest project to date, our 6 foot tall cupcake stand, which I'll be sharing soon.)

It only took about 10 minutes to cut out 100 pieces of fabric, plus about 5 extras for mess ups.

The laser cutter does a nice job of slightly melting the edges of the fabric, which was very useful for this project. If you're using a thicker fabric like I was, you wouldn't want to fold it under to hide the edges, or it would be too thick, so you should consider using a lighter to seal the edge from fraying.

Back at home, I made a cutting guide at 1 1/8th inch increments, to cut each toilet paper roll into 4 sections. This was a product of saving the paper rolls for several months to have enough!

My bag of 105 cut rolls. They crease a tiny bit when cutting them, but it doesn't matter because once the fabric is on it helps it hold its round shape.

After cutting all the rolls, I started assembling them. I covered the paper roll with hot glue:

And wrapped the fabric around the outside. I then added an extra strip of glue right under the overlapping edge of the fabric, sealing it as close as possible to the roll.

Then stand the roll up on its side

And glue one side into the roll, folding it as flat as you can around the roll (it doesn't matter so much on this side if the edge of the fabric is flush to the roll).

Then turn it over and glue the other side into the roll.

I then carefully glued down the edges inside the roll as best I could.

Not bad for toilet paper rolls, fabric and glue! I decided to not worry too much about how the inside of these looked, they're good enough so they won't fray, and nobody is going to be looking at the inside of them (am I kidding myself thinking anybody is even going to look at the outside of them? Hmm....maybe, but I like them anyway!).

I got about 1/5th of them done in an afternoon, and will finish the rest over the next week or so. They are more time consuming than the tutorial I found online said, but maybe that was also because I was really making sure to glue the edges down well, to hide the white batting on the underside of my fabric.

And here is a look at what they'll look like on napkins, using a scrap of purple fabric. The purple linen napkins will really be a little darker/brighter purple.

Did you come across any easy DIY projects that used unconventional supplies?