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!

#marryingmontoya #lakearrowhead #waffles #mylove #blessed

Back by popular demand, it’s me, Kelsey’s dad.  yes, that IS a picture of my fine looking “dome” that you are seeing.

my father's head, everyone.

my father’s head, everyone.

In the highly unlikely chance you happen to go to Lake Arrowhead, in the mountains outside of Los Angeles, I have the perfect place for you to go for breakfast or lunch, Belgian Waffle Works.  Note, from your friendly friends down here in the south, THIS IS NOT SIMILAR TO THE WAFFLE HOUSE THAT WE HAVE COME TO KNOW AND LOVE.  Nevertheless, this place is terrific and well worth the visit.

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For those of you wondering, “What’s the occasion for why you were in Lake Arrowhead?”  Well, we were all there for my niece Alison who was getting married.  More on that to come later.

Now, back to the restaurant.  First, arrive early.  Second, the menu is huge.  Probably too many choices, actually.  In addition to breakfast items they have a large lunch section of sandwiches, etc…We had a group of six:  Phillip, Clark, Kyle, Kari, my cousin Linda, and me.

The food is fantastic.  We all had different waffle selections.  In addition, Phillip ordered a biscuit with sausage gravy.  Even though we were in the mountains outside of Los Angeles, this gravy was very, very good.  The gravy might have come from a can, might have come from a box.  Who knows.  All I know is that Phillip, Kyle, and I shared it and we all loved it.

Probably the best part of Belgian Waffle Works was the staff.  All of them were witty, charming, and had terrific “patter.”  As all of my children will tell you, I’m big on the “patter” and these people had it.  I would hire all of them in a minute, their “patter” was that good.

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Terrific food, terrific staff.  If you happen to be in Lake Arrowhead, CA, go to Belgian Waffle Works!  And, even though this time I didn’t get to go to In-N-Out, Belgian Waffle Works made up for it.

editor’s note:  in addition to all these delicious waffles, take a look at some of the other fun stuff this weekend entailed.  congratulations again, mike and ali!  we love you both!

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p.s.  thank you to all my facebook friends/family for letting me use your pictures.  i only had to include them because you did such a good job taking them, lol!

wedding makeup!

our dear friends jamie and greg are getting married in just nine short days, and i have the honor of being one of the bridesmaids – yay!  with the big day around the corner, i have been getting my to-do list and packing list together to make sure i don’t miss a thing.  one of the items on that list is all of the new makeup i’ve recently purchased to complete my bridesmaid look.  like many ladies, i have created a makeup collection over the years and that old stuff just had to go.  so, since i was basically working from the ground up, a personal consultation at sephora sounded like the perfect plan.  i mean, i think i have an acceptable day-to-day look, but i knew i needed to step up my makeup game for the wedding – gotta look good in those pictures!

my stylist grace was ready to get to work the moment i hopped onto that stool, and with my close friend alison at my side (her makeup always looks stunning), i knew i’d be in good hands.  thankfully grace was willing to work with some of the basics i already have since i have sensitive skin, so i didn’t totally break the bank on that day’s purchases.  we had a gay ‘ole time as grace showed me where to sweep the eyeshadows, what to do with that charming little makeup egg, and, perhaps the most entertaining part of the afternoon, how to apply false eyelashes!  i mean, i might be biased, but i think the end result was kind of lovely (despite the silly faces).  🙂

now, all throughout the appointment alison was diligently taking incredibly detailed notes, as i am going to have to recreate this look myself the day of the event.  so, armed with her notes and all of the supplies, i followed the instructions and….voila!  with the exception of no false eyelashes, i gotta say i don’t think i did too bad of a job.  again, please pardon the fish face – just gotta show off those cheekbones…!

although i got most of my supplies at sephora, some of them i had to hunt down at ulta.  i don’t want to take sides in this post, but the stores don’t carry all the same products, so you do what you gotta do.  and, to give credit where credit is due, here’s a list of all the products used in the making of this look.

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it’s goin’ down for real!

back in december my cousin ali became engaged to her kind fiance mike (yay!).  like many girls, ali went into full-on wedding planning mode shortly thereafter, despite the fact that her venue is across an ocean from where they live now!

as part of this planning, i received a lovely box at my front door recently.  below the address were the words “must facetime/google hangout/call alison BEFORE opening!”  well, how could i not oblige!  after much phone tag, ali and i finally got a hold of each other and i eagerly ripped open the fedex packaging to find a perfectly wrapped gift.  the ribbon colors were gold and blue, two shades i know i look good in and i know that look good on me.  must be a good sign!

i carefully untied the ribbon and couldn’t help but smile as i opened the lid.  the first thing to do was to open the card, of course, to which i read the sweetest note and then most flattering request to be one of her bridesmaids.  i squeaked “YES!” in between smiling, laughing, and dabbing my eyes.  it’s hard not to get emotional!

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per ali’s instruction, i rummaged through the rest of the box to find the cutest little tokens.  first, fancy nail polish.  everyone knows how i love my nail polish!

next?  darling little hand warmers that i can wear during the ceremony.  after all, the wedding will be in the mountains and i don’t want my pretty little paws to freeze while holding that bouquet!

one of my favorite items was the gold mountain charm necklace.  very appropriate.  🙂

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and, maybe the best of them all, a picture of ali and me.  get ready, cuz!  california kelsey will be out to play in january 2017!  #forevermontoya!

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we are #andrichheavy

okay, folks, i know things had been quiet on the blogging front from me for the past couple of weeks, but i have good reason:  my brother kyle and kari got married last week at the first southern andrich wedding!  we had been busy bees in those days just beforehand, and when all was said and done, everything was worth the effort.

out-of-town guests started to arrive on thursday, and so began the #andrichheavy invasion.  so, what is this #andrichheavy hashtag of which we speak?  well, we had a lot of family and friends from the andrich side of things at the weekend festivities, so we coined it all as being #andrichheavy.  the words were spoken, and that was all she wrote.  every post and tweet and instagram picture were tagged with #andrichheavy, and we could not have loved it more.

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the rehearsal dinner was a blast at the yellow house up in roswell.  so much southern food, plenty of beer and wine, and lots of laughing as we roasted the groom and played a few ditties for the happy couple.  as i have been told, i was quite the tipsy hostess all night, and i would not have expected anything less.

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now, after months of planning and a whirlwind weekend of activity, we have a new addition to the #andrichheavy clan, miss kari.  kari and i met each other in college through the redcoat marching band.  she and kyle began dating our sophomore year, and it wasn’t before too long we all knew something really special was there.  over the years, kari has slowly inducted herself into the andrich family, counting herself lucky getting to meet them in waves rather than all at once.  i’ve been told we can be a bit to handle…

kyle and kari black and white

the october weather was cooperative and gorgeous, with crisp and untainted clarity in the air.  the wedding party looked sharp, and the guests were glamorous as well for the evening event.  you could not have asked for a more perfect setting.

after a teary-eyed ceremony, the real fun began as we danced and drank the night away at the roswell mill club.  glow sticks and tunes carried us into the cool autumn night, keeping us close to a sweet event of love and laughter.

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as i drove into the office monday morning, i realized i was crashing hard, physically and emotionally.  my body was exhausted from the weekend’s events, and it seemed my heart was just as sore.  i was overjoyed to have our loved ones in a single place to celebrate such a wonderful step in life, but watching them all leave on marta trains and delta planes left a bitter taste in my mouth.  i was in a glass case of emotion for nearly four days straight, and now i’ve been ripped back into reality.  ah, such a harsh jolt!  when you feel things as fully and strongly like i do, it can all seem like a big wave sweeping down, no matter the occasion.  i guess we’ll just have to plan our next gathering soon!  who’s up next?