the classic city

a couple of weekends ago phillip and i had the wonderful opportunity to return to my college town of athens, ga.  the occasion, yes, did revolve around georgia football, but we made the most of the weekend by visiting some places home to my fondest memories while i was in school.

we had driven in town friday night to soak up every minute of athens we could, and since we hadn’t stopped for dinner on our drive in, the first order of business was some food at none other than the famous keba.  we both ordered double lamb sandwiches with fries as the side, and i think it was the quietest meal we’d had in a while because we were enjoying it all so much!  keba did have a location in atlanta for a bit (with the great taste of the original), but it shut down and i’ve of course been craving it ever since.  it was a perfect start to what would become a pretty perfect weekend.

pure joy.

we cleared our table and drove over to nathan and samantha’s house.  i’ve known nathan since college when, as freshmen, we met in the redcoat marching band.  he and samantha have lived in athens for several years now and always are kind to open their home to friends and family.  it’s not often we get to see them, so it was a special treat to catch up on life and football and everything in between.  we did plenty of that especially the next morning over coffee and bagels (which we brought from emerald city in east atlanta) before nathan, phillip, and i drove to campus to join in on the gameday experience.  it was an extra special occasion because it was our homecoming weekend against kentucky, and even though it rained nonstop all day, the bulldog nation still showed up nicely to support the team.

nathan had redcoat duties, so phillip and i donned our ponchos and took a sloshy walk through north campus.  as i imagine many graduates do when they are visiting their old stomping grounds, i pointed out to phillip all the different buildings and where i had class and which lobbies were the best for napping.  the rain couldn’t keep our cheery demeanor down, especially once we arrived at the arch, because taking a picture under the arch is always something to smile about.  🙂

hungry for a bite, we shuffled into the taco stand.  now, i did not do a lot of downtown eating when i was in college, but one spot i frequented was the taco stand, especially when my younger brother clark visited, as it was his absolute favorite spot in town.  phillip and i lucked out with a couple of stools at the bar, so we de-layered, ordered chips and salsa and a couple of beers, and enjoyed the gameday atmosphere.

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the wedding chronicles | decision #2

THE BUDGET

one evening last week i was going through my wedding bag, getting things sorted and paperclipped, when i started to wonder what my next entry for the wedding chronicles would be.  with such a plethora of things i could start planning and describing, i thought it might be hard to choose where to go next, but as i looked through the many piles of carefully categorized ideas, it dawned on me that i had perhaps completely (albeit unknowingly) mistaken the venue as decision #1.  decision #1 truly, i think, should be…that’s right…the budget.  cue the dramatic music!

it’s my general opinion that no one really likes to talk about money, unless they have a lot of it.  i mean, i’m talking millions on millions, and since i’m not in that position, i don’t often bring it up in conversation.  am i the only one?  probably not, so maybe because we don’t usually talk about money i seem to have forgotten to mention it as one of the largest factors when planning your big day.

there are oodles of articles and books written about how to portion the money you have in the most sensible way.  for example, everyone these days says to not skimp on the photographer.  eh, that’s pretty understandable.  i’ll give them that.  however, the different percentage breakdowns you see online or in magazines should, i think, really just be a guide for how you and your fiance/fiancee decide to spend the money.  people also say that you should identify those aspects of your wedding that are most important to you and make those purchases worth your while.  for example, if you want live music over a dj on your big day, be prepared to spend a little more and cut back elsewhere.  or, if a five-course plated dinner is your style, understand it likely won’t come cheap.  i think that if you go into things understanding that wedding services are in high demand and, because of this fact, can charge a premium, you may not be as sticker-shocked as you would be otherwise.

and that brings me to a very honest realization i had early on in this planning:  the typical american wedding is expensive.  let’s say you’re feeding around 100 guests at your reception.  if you go on the more conservative end of the menu, you’re probably spending about $50 per person.  that meal, that one meal right there, is $5,000 of your budget.  yeah, it goes that quickly.  and that might not even include booze!  assuming that’s your thing.

regardless of what your budget is or is not, we must all keep in mind (brides, grooms, and guests, too) that even though the wedding is a large celebration of the vows you exchange with your husband or wife, it truly is a single day in the beginning of a long journey together.  yes, getting married at a castle might be your dream, but it might not be reality.  you might even glow the tiniest bit green with envy as you flip through magazines and shows, seeing couples with unlimited budgets.  however, try not to fret, because at the end of the day your satisfaction with what you can/cannot do will be largely influenced by your perspective on it all.  for phillip and me, we understand that we are spending a lot of money for this event.  we also know we could go over budget and spend more.  and, if we do go a little above, we’ll practice forgiveness because it really is the most special day in our lives so far.  however, i think the way a couple handles their money during wedding planning is a large indicator of how it will be handled in the marriage, and getting off on the right foot, happy with and thankful for what you could afford, seems like a pretty good way to start the rest of your life.

the wedding chronicles | decision #1

THE VENUE

although other couples may take a different approach, i suspect most wedding planning begins with either a date or a venue or perhaps both.  some people want to get married during a specific time of the year; others have had a vision of the ceremony and reception occurring at a certain venue for quite some time.  if either of those factors is at play, you and your betrothed might easily be directed to a specific set of choices to fit into that picture.  however, phillip and i didn’t fall into either of those categories, and here is what our experience was.

first, phillip and i live in atlanta, ga.  known as “the hollywood of the south,” atlanta has grown into quite a diverse and large city.  as one can imagine, atlanta really became an oyster in that we had nearly endless options to meet whatever style and feel we want for our wedding day.  we could easily go urban and modern and luxurious in a high-rise hotel with a view, we could have something more casual at the local brewery, or we could even have a shabby chic celebration in a restored barn just outside the city limits.  do you see where i’m going with this?  in a city like atlanta, having so many options can be inspiring but can also lead to indecisiveness.  so!  my first piece of advise is this:  do your research and decide on your top ten venues to tour.  you might be thinking that ten sounds like a lot, but something to keep in mind is that the pictures you look at online don’t always actually represent the space.  you might come upon a venue that looked like a ten on their website but turned out to be a dud.  or, the flip side, the pictures you saw were only somewhat interesting but then the venue was even better in person.  the takeaway is that giving yourself enough variety but not too many options will hopefully lead to a venue that is a good representation of what you all want.

second, you actually may not know what you want or don’t want until you see it.  unless experienced, this is probably the first wedding you are planning, and as such you likely have no idea how you are going to feel as you go throughout the process.  for example, phillip and i had narrowed down our top option to have the ceremony and reception at the same location but then realized that having the ceremony at a church instead was paramount to us.  we reevaluated our options and ultimately changed our plans.  however, when we signed those contracts and wrote the check, we and our families were elated that we were picking places that would make us both happy.  my advice here is to be flexible, patient, and respectful of one another as you explore your wants together.  you don’t want to rush a decision as important as this one, and choosing a venue is one of the many things that brings you closer as a couple.

something else i have learned, even this early on in the process, is that nearly every decision you make during wedding planning is going to be emotional.  sure, from the outside looking in some choices might seem logical (either option a or option b), but in the couples’ minds, hardly anything is that simple.  considering the fact that your wedding day is probably the most important day of your lives thus far, it’s understandable that you want everything to be perfect.  although i encourage you to fight for what you want, i do see the sense in also not overthinking things, especially the “smaller” things.  maybe i need to write this down and keep it in my wedding binder as a reminder for future decisions…!

finally, as far as choosing where and when to plan your nuptials, i say this:  the space you choose may require you to compromise on other aspects of plans you have for your big day.  for example, the reception site we chose isn’t conducive to serving dinner family-style, something that was originally extremely high on my priority list.  however, as you come across this kind of situation, ask yourself what will be worth it at the end of the day.  did i want us to keep looking for a venue just as close to the church that would also do family-style?  or was i willing to “give that up” for a gorgeous building inspired by the town of glendalough, ireland?  well, the latter ended up being the case, and when this happens, it’s okay.  remember, as they all say, sometimes compromise is part of being married.  what better practice to get than when planning your wedding?  😉

the wedding chronicles

as many of you know, phillip and i have been engaged for about four months now.  not wanting to rush the engagement excitement, we didn’t seriously begin forming wedding ideas or plans until about february.  now, i am not the typical bride in that i wouldn’t say i’ve had a dream wedding in mind since my childhood.  however, i would say i have a pretty strong sense of design and personal style that i would ideally incorporate into our big day.  among all the things every couple wants for their wedding day, in the end a celebration that equally represents phillip and me is certainly the goal.

now, in an effort to begin sourcing ideas that might fit well with our style, i must admit that i have already done my fair share of magazine perusing.  i think my mother, kari, and i went through about ten over the Christmas break just ourselves, and i know for certain that i have two editions of the knot:  georgia sitting in my shoulder bag at the moment.  as i looked (and continue to look) through these glossy pages full of tips and tricks and diy secrets, one thing became glaringly clear to me:  planning a wedding involves nearly a countless number of decisions.  from the venue to the caterer to the photographer and hotel, just thinking about all the things to be done can cause a couple to feel overwhelmed.

beyond the pressure that the modern wedding industry has forced on us (particularly the brides), there is the added sense of anticipation from those who will attend the big day.  we’re all guilty of gossiping about a wedding afterwards (or even during it).  for example, “the colors she picked are so out of season.”  or, “this fish is dry, and the green beans are rubbery.”  or, perhaps, the worst of them all, “this dj is trash!”  yes, we all do it and will continue to do so because, like many other things in life, we often think we can do better on something we have no involvement with whatsoever.

now, i’m not staying i’m excluding myself from the wedding gossip cycle.  we’re all human and it’s something that comes with the territory.  however, this desire to please a large crowd of people whose opinions you value greatly only adds more stress to something that is already so stressful in nature.  although i’d like to put myself above the fray on this one (because i tend to be pretty organized and confident), i know there will be moments when i am subject to it all just like every other person in this position.

so!  where am i going with all of this, you ask?  i’ll tell you exactly where all of this is going.  i am going to document (and count) each decision phillip and i have to make to plan this wedding.  this adventure is two-fold:  first, we’ll be able to quantify, in some way, just how much work is required in planning a wedding these days.  second, i’ll get to celebrate a small victory with each choice we make throughout this process.

i think it will be a joyous, exciting, and unpredictable journey.  so, strap yourself in and let’s see where this road takes us!