Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How We "Chose" to DIY Our Invitations

Here's a quick step-by-step guide on how to wind up making your own invitations:

1. Put off contacting stationary vendors until less than 3 months before the wedding. Itching to email them 6 months out? Don't even think out about it!!
2. Be astonished by the fact that many stationers are already booked.
3. Continue to be astonished by the huge sums of money that the non-booked vendors request.
4. Be picky. Be very very picky. Don't like anything that is easy to download, print or buy.
5. Realize you have no choice but to make your own. Blame this on others, as there is no possible way it could have been due to your own lack of organization or planning. Inconceivable!
6. Force any spare roommate or passerby on the street to help you cut, glue and stamp. Bribe them with food and alcohol as needed.

Step 6 in action. Here are 2 complete strangers that I forced to help prepare my wedding invitations. The pizza I provided helped keep 'em in line. (These strangers may or may not actually be a bridesmaid and my maid of honor)

Left: getting Mr. Pin Cushion involved. His bribe was lots of hugs and kisses.
Right: Me. Which brings me to . . .

Step 7: Look in the mirror and be surprised by the new wrinkles that now populate your forehead.

Congratulations. You have no successfully maneuvered your way through the often treacherous task of DIYing your own wedding invitations. That wasn't so bad, was it?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fit to be Tied

We may have let our bridesmaids and groomswomen go hog wild with their dresses, but we weren't so kind with our best man and bridesman! We brought our our best "evil looks" . . .

. . . cackled our best evil laughs and demanded our bridal crew men wear exactly what we tell them to! Or else they shall bear witness to horrors not seen since the 6 fingered man.

Okay, fine. They can wear whatever dress pants they already own. But that's as far as we're letting these shenanigans go. Okay, fine. They can wear whatever white shirt they want, as long as it has a collar. But we INSIST they wear a jacket. Okay, fine. They can take if off whenever they want. We're serious about the matching shoes though. Okay fine, who are we kidding. They can just wear whatever shoes they already have.

Well, we may be softies on the rest of the guys' outfits, but there's no way we're bending on the ties! And just to be sure, we bought 'em for the guys. Here are the Pin Cushion mens ties, in all their gingham glory:
I used the Alchemy function on Etsy (for the first time) and received a ton of bids to make the ties. We worked with seller XO Elle to make the ties (as in, we told her exactly what to make and then she did all the actual 'making'). Elle was awesome to work with. She lined each tie with a coordinating gingham, and made special 'keepers' for two of the ties (the little fabric thingy on the back of ties for the skinny end to go through [my amazing tie vocabulary astounds me too]).

Mr. PC's tie has a sweet reminder of our wedding date (and our initials, in case he forgets who he married [and this is all pretending he'll ever wear the tie again, which he won't {not too many occasions for a green gingham tie around these parts}]).

Were you more demanding about what the girls or guys in your wedding party should wear?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happily Waving a White Flag

The Pin Cushion Wedding Party has a bit of a gender bias. We've snagged ourselves a lot of ladies, and seem to scare off the men. In fact, we have 6 females in our bridal party (3 on my side, 3 on Mr. PC's) and only 2 males (1 on each side). We love our bridal crew, lopsidedness and all.

Our bridesmaids and groomswomen deserve to wear awesome dresses at our wedding (though perhaps a slightly less awesome dress than my own would be acceptable). The six ladies have fabulously different bodies. And different skin tones. And different hair color. And very different heights (two people under 5" [I chose 'em to make me look taller in comparison]).

It was a daunting challenge to pick out a dress that would flatter all of the 'maids. But when I face a challenge, I buck up, square my shoulders and attack it head on . . . no . . . wait. That must be some other Bee. This bee tends to slump over, wave a white flag and pass the challenge off to some unsuspecting victim. Like my bridesmaids and groomswomen.

I asked the ladies to choose their own dresses. I gave them the loose guidelines of 1) stay within our wedding colors, 2) no long dresses, 3) please don't look like you work at A) a strip club or B) a nunnery. That was pretty much it. And, watching the 'maids' reactions, you would have thought it was some great act of selflessness on my part, and not a brilliant scheme to pawn off my difficult decision on someone else.

Here are the decisions that I didn't have to make, I mean, here are the dresses they've bought so far:

Groomswoman L has a smokin' red dress from here (with detachable empire waist for baby-nursing [or showing off your goodies {though that breaks guideline 3}]).
Bridesmaid J bought a sweet eyelet dress from here.

Groomswoman Q bought a sexy satin dress from here.
And Bridesmaid S picked a fab flowy green dress from here.

As I assume most of you are over the age of 5, and thus, can add single digits, you probably noticed there are only 4 dresses shown and we have 6 bridal party ladies (if you are under the age of 5, I congratulate you on your extraordinary ability to read and navigate the internet). That is because two of our female attendants are still looking for their perfect dress. And though we are only a few weeks out, knowing those 2 are still dress-less doesn't raise my blood pressure even 1 point (okay, maybe 1 or 2, but that's it!). The gorgeous dress choices that the others have made leaves me confident that the last two dresses will be amazing as well. (And if not, all the better my own dress will look in comparison, right? [I'm just asking for bad wedding karma here]).

The decision to hand off the dress picks to the ladies has been win-win. I have less to worry about and the girls might actually find something they will wear again, and in a price range that doesn't give them a heart attack (I'm just thinking about my friends' health here, people).

How did you pick the dresses for your bridal party ladies? Or are you joining me in waving a white flag on that decision and giving up full control?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Your Bridal Party Feng Shui Seems a Bit Off

The Pin Cushions not only have bridesmaids and groomsmen, we also have a bridesman and groomswomen. Mr. PC and I will each have four people standing by our side, supporting us (emotionally, or physically, if necessary [that video link cracks me up every time {Karma, please ignore that last statement}]), but that’s as far as the symmetry goes.

There are six girls and 2 guys in our bridal party. We know it’s untraditional, and it may look unbalanced at the altar (heavy on the breasts and light on the beards), but we can't imagine having it any other way (seriously, we tried; I think we left our imaginations back in 3rd grade, along with our cursive writing skills). Mr. PC is close to his sisters, so it makes sense they're on his side, and I want my brother standing beside me.

As a quick intro, here are the peeps that make up our Wedding Crew (the 'descriptions' were snagged from our wedding website, since I'm all about recycling and reusing [I hope I don't hear the word 'lazy' being mumbled under anyone's breaths . . .])

Best Man V: As you can see from the photo, V is very good at accessorizing. Beyond that, he has incredible taste in music, is obsessed with magnets, and is one of the nicest people you will meet.
V and Mr. PC met in the Ph.D. program for Materials Science at U.C. Berkeley and they have been roommates for the past 4 years. V works on thin-film magnetic materials. If you want to be thoroughly entertained, keep asking him how magnets work until he has to use the word “magic”.

Groomswoman L: L has known Mr. PC since the minute he was born. They have been siblings ever since. L enriched Mr. PC’s life in countless ways, including trying to compress his spine when he grew taller than her and by randomly tackling him in the halls of Santa Cruz High. L was the best older sister that you can imagine: intelligent, funny, caring, and helped Mr. PC figure out how the world works in so many ways.

Groomswoman A: Mr. PC has known A since the minute she was born. Strange how that works. Mr. PC and A spent much of their childhood making sheet forts together, trying (and failing) to get A to throw a baseball without performing a grande jete, or just running around the woods. A is hilarious, scary smart, and Mr. PC is so glad to have her in his life.

Groomswoman Q: Q is one tough cookie- she's getting her Ph.D. alongside Mr. PC, PLUS she’s been his housemate for the last 4 years. She is one of the few people on this earth that can, at her request, make Mr. PC go out dancing. While Miss PC was in DC, Q stepped in, talked to Mr. PC about ‘feelings and the like’ to make sure he sustained his sensitive side. She rides an awesome scooter and drinks iced coffees; she’s a great friend and is as cute as a button.

Maid of Honor R: After spending time with R, you’re guaranteed 3 things: 1) sore cheeks from smiling so much 2) that you’ll feel taller 3) you’ll learn some new factoids (about a new restaurant, a musical or other fun-tivities!) R and Miss PC were sorority sisters at UC Berkeley. R is a 3rd grade teacher in Oakland. Look her up if you want to: learn how to be positive, go on a wine tasting trip or if you just want to laugh.

Bridesman K: K is Miss PC's older brother, and has seen her go through crazy times-like temper tantrums and self done hair cuts. He’s shown her how to be passionate about things. And while he knows how to push her buttons as only a sibling can, he can also elicit laughter from an inside family joke. He can be usually be found: on the streets of LA in part of a roller blading gang, in the office on his computer till ungodly hours, or checking out the local scene with his friends.

S: S and Miss PC met in their sorority at UC Berkeley. Since becoming friends, they have spent many-a-hour baking together (or just eating other people’s baked goods), laughing about who-knows-what, and generally having an all around good time! S has some mad skillz: she can bake a mean cake, sing a mean tune, walk in 4 inch heels like they’re flats and is a wizard at Photoshop.

Bridesmaid J:
Miss PC was jealous of J's awesome pioneer girl costume way back in the early days of elementary school, and the two have been friends ever since. Together, they have daydreamed about their future lives, traveled to Mexico, twice, survived 12 years of school, stayed up way too late talking at slumber parties, and had a blast while doing it all.

So there you have it, our party peeps!

How are you, lovely readers, splitting up your bridal party? Do any of you also have 'bad bridal party feng shui"?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Three Most Important Cs

1. Chocolate 2. Chip and 3. Cookies

The Pin Cushions are big fans of cookies. As in, our KitchenAid mixer gets used once a week to make a batch. As in, our Save the Dates talked about cookies. As in, people who know how many cookies we eat ask how we don't look like whales. As in, I regularly ask myself how we don't look like whales. We're taking this love affair to our wedding in the form of a cookie table (not a table made out of cookies [though that would be AWESOME]).

I stumbled on this photo and think it's pretty sweet.

Lots of cookies? Check. Cuteness factor? Check. Cold milk? Check. We're planning on substituting the pom poms with ginormous white balloons, a la Amy Atlas:

I've been collecting bits and pieces for the table o' cookies, and I've started making the cookie dough. Here's what we've got for sure at this point:
Cookie Board
1. An array of clear glass cookie jars from Crate & Barrel (1 huge, 2 mediums and 1 small).
2. The most fabulous chocolate chip cookies ever. Seriously. I'm not lying. It would be wrong to ever lie about The Sacred Chocolate Chip Cookie. (I've made and frozen the dough for 120 cookies.)
3. Chewy ginger molasses cookies. (I've frozen the dough for 90 of these babies.)
4. Red and white baker's twine from Etsy to use to sting labels around the jars.
5. Glass bottles for cold milk (and chocolate milk). The little guy's from Ikea (we have 3) and the big one we bought at a grocery store filled with wine (the jug, not the grocery store [jug pic from here]).
6. Scalloped ceramic cake plates from Williams-Sonoma. (I own the small and big one.)
7. Red and white striped fabric from Ikea that I sewed into a table runner (which will go on top of a white table cloth).
8. Brownies . . . giggity giggity. Still looking for the best recipe. Any suggestions? (Pic source)
9. Galvanized tub to hold our refreshing milk (supplied by our venue [pic source])

While we are only have about 100 guests, we want to make sure no guest goes un-cookied, so we're making a ton. Here's where we need your help. We know we want to have about 5 or 6 varieties of cookies. The chocolate chip cookies, brownies and ginger cookies are non-negotiable. But what other kind of cookies does everyone think are "must haves"?

Which cookies should we add to our cookie table list?
A. Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cookies)
B. Blondies
C. Sugar cookies
D. Oatmeal Scotchies (oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips [and no raisins])
E. Peanut Butter Cookies
F. An option I haven't thought of! Please leave your suggestion in the comments!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Weight of Marriage

I may be very, very close to gaining a lot, a lot of weight. With my wedding day quickly approaching, I may soon gain the "marriage fifteen."

The dreaded scale. [Source]

A recent NY Times article, "For Better, For Worse, For B.M.I." discusses how often people gain the marriage fifteen after they say "I Do." (Also coined "love chub" and "happy pounds" in the article!) Married men and women have higher B.M.I.s than their single or dating counterparts, and they are much more likely to be obese.

The article theorizes that if you are married, "you’re somewhat settled. You don’t have to prove yourself; your spouse will ostensibly love you, all of you, muffin top notwithstanding." (I hope that Mr. Pin Cushion loves my muffin top, thunder thighs and jiggling-wave arms [and whatever else I may develop over the years] whether we are married or not.)

The article's author, Abby Ellin, also says, "for better and worse, married couples tend to share behaviors and activities, like snuggling on the couch with a vat of popcorn rather than hopping on the treadmill." (Thanks, Abby, now I want some buttery popcorn.)

This trend of non-exercise and eating not-as-healthy-as-we-once-did has already taken hold in the Pin Cushion household, pre-marriage. Between my 12 hour work days, catching up on So You Think You Can Dance and my very thorough internet perusing, that leaves me with 2 1/2, maybe 3 minutes, to get in my exercise. And that is just not enough time.

I am hopeful that a few factors will help prevent my own love chub: 1) I've held steady at my current weight for about eight years. 2) I didn't try to lose any weight before the wedding (if I had been trying, then my current diet of hamburgers, taqueria food, three servings of dessert a day, and multiple bowls of Lucky Charms sure hasn't been successful). And 3) I've felt that Mr. PC loves me pretty-darn-unconditionally for quite some time now (knowing he'd love me at 876.3 lbs sure takes away the pressure to exercise [though he just informed me that at 876.4 lbs, his love might be a bit more conditional]).

Have you seen the marriage fifteen in action? Are you doing anything to stave off the happy pounds? (You can start a strict regimen like myself, which involves long walks between the couch and the kitchen and extensive reps of blog hopping [I hear that burns a lot of calories]).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It Makes Me Want to Wail-MAIL!

I like getting mail. It's one part of adult life that I look forward to (as opposed to 1) paying bills, 2) cleaning the refrigerator, 3) waking up at 5:15 am for work, 4) having no one to blame but myself for not having any clean socks to wear at 5:15 am). I'd like to think that other adult-types like getting mail too.

Going along with that theory, I like sending mail. It fills my thought bubbles with images of people jumping for joy at receiving non-junk-mail-mail. Which in turn makes me dance a little jig. My jig is a bit more exuberant when I know my outgoing mail is cute. And my most common outgoing mail at this point are my thank you cards. Thus, here are my handmade thank you cards [handmade because I a) am cheap, b) have been bringing a pile of construction paper through 3 moves, and enough is enough].

My bridal shower thank you cards; I wrote "Thanks for being so sweet" on the inside.

The thank you cards for our wedding gifts. I showed Mr. Pin Cushion how to rip fabric, and he happily ripped some cheap, hot pink fabric into (well sized) shreds. Then I sewed down the sides and stamped on a "Thanks".

I used the Thank You cards as an opportunity to try out all the groovy stitches on my new-ish sewing machine.

Can you believe you can just press a button, push the fabric a bit and the machine makes these designs? It's like sewing for dumbies (perfect for me, as I'm usually busy keeping my thought bubbles filled with things like manatees, singing babies, and puppy sandwiches).

I bought the neon green glassine envelopes for 50% off at Paper Source, likely because other, more sane people, could find no appropriate use for them. But I couldn't resist, and love that people can get a sneak peek of their 'thanks' through the envelope.

What have you, lovely readers, found around your house that you are re-purposing for any wedding events?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rouching and Poufs and Trains-Attempt 3

After some hits and misses in bridal stores and after gallivanting around strangers' homes, I gave up dress searching for a few months. I breathed some non-wedding-dress-breaths into my life. It was nice. Until January came, and those breaths (along with my heart rate) quickened significantly when I realized that if I was planning on getting married (check) and I didn't want to do it naked (double check), then I better buck up and buy a dress.

Luckily, I stumbled (metaphorically) across an online ad for a sample sale at Marina Morrison. Marina Morrison is a bridal salon in San Francisco that I never considered looking at during my extensive gown search because it's quite fancy schmancy. And while I can appreciated fancy schmancy, I'm not much for fancy-schmancy-this-dress-can-buy-a-car-prices. But with my ensuing panic attack, I decided to make an appointment.
The salon is like an art gallery for wedding dresses! [Source]

My parents and I were immediately bowled over when we arrived at my appointment. Marina Morrison was 1. above Gumps (oh la la), 2. we had to be buzzed upstairs by a doorman and 3. the salon was A to the Mazing. Despite feeling a bit intimidated, the ladies at the store quickly put as at ease and then let us loose on the sample sale racks. We grabbed our loot and I set to work trying them on (with my mom as official zipper-upper and my dad working as paparazzi).

I tried on a dozen or two (bringing my total dress try-ons to 1.64 bajillion, if you're counting). And . . . I BOUGHT ONE! It was not an easy decision. We had it narrowed down to two dresses which were quite different. I tried them each on 3 times, asking "This one? Or this one?" Here are the pictures of the top two contenders. Can you guess which one I bought without looking below?
Dress on the left by Suzanne Erman. Dress on the right by Carolina Herrera

I hemmed and hawed for a solid 15 minutes in the dressing room trying to decide between the two. My parents each gave their opinions. The saleswoman provided her two cents. I tried on the dresses again. And then I bit the bullet and chose the Suzanne Erman dress (the dress on the left)!

The designer is French and is known (or so I was told, as I'd never even heard of her) for her use of hoop skirts in her wedding dresses. My dress does have 3 hoop skirts at the bottom, which always makes me think of Gone with the Wind (too bad a mint julep couldn't appear in my hand each time I try it on).

We were able to walk out of the store with my dress in hand. It sure is an adrenaline rush purchasing a wedding dress! My dad said he hadn't seen me smile that big in a long time, and that he didn't know if it was from my actual dress, or just that I was happy to be done with the search. In reality, it was a bit of both! I was beginning to think I would end up a dressless bride (I could have been birthday-suit bride).
My happy self with my mom after I had made "the decision"

I never had the feeling that some brides talk about- the "this is the ONE" moment. I think that even if I tried on all the dresses in the world, I would never have found "the one." There are just too many gorgeous dresses out there to pin point the best one! Though I never had that feeling, I still love my dress to pieces, and the whole process was a hoot and a half.

What did you feel like when you bought your wedding dress? Who had tears? Who had cheers? Did anyone's heart rate double like mine did?

Soul what?

Just the other day, I was having a seemingly innocent conversation, most likely about work, or about the benefits of cookies over cake, or perhaps about Harry Potter, when . . . BAM! I was blind sided by a question about whether Mr. Pin Cushion was my soul mate. This would have posed no problems if I had been able to cooly reply, "Of course he is! I love him so, that soul mate of mine." But I didn't say that. Because- wait for it- I don't think he's my soul mate.

It's nothing against Mr. Pin Cushion. I just don't personally believe in soul mates. And that's okay. Mr. PC feels the same way. We both think that our relationship is absolutely fantastic and we wouldn't pick anyone else to be with. But it takes work. And compromise ("I'll stop embarrassing you by speaking in strange accents when we're in public if you give me a 5 minute foot massage tonight."). 

And for Mr. Pin Cushion's highly enlarged left brain, he just can't fathom that out of the 3 billion females in the world, he happened to have met the one he was fated for at such a young age. In high school. And though it's not the most romantic take on our love, I agree with him.

The Australian comedian-singer, Tim Minchin, has a song that perfectly demonstrates the Pin Cushions take on soul mates. For your viewing pleasure:

If you choose not to watch the video because 1) you have something against Australians after hearing the phrase, "Let's put another shrimp on the barby" one too many times, or 2) looking at Tim Minchin's massive amounts of eye liner makes your eyes water, or 3) you work in a cubicle, don't own headphones and don't want to scare your coworkers . . . then here's a short excerpt of some lyrics:

"If I didn't have you, someone else would do.
Your love is one in a million, you couldn't buy it at any price.
But of the 9.999 hundred thousand other possible loves,
Statistically, some of them would be equally nice.
Or maybe not as nice, but let's say, smarter than you.
Or dumber, but better at sports. Or tracing. I'm just saying. 
I really think I'd probably have somebody else. Yah."

and another great lyric:
"Look, I'm not undervaluing what we've got when I say
That given the role chaos inevitably plays in the inherently flawed notion of fate,
It's obtuse to deduce that I found my soul mate at the age of 17.
It's just mathematically unlikely that at a university in Perth,
I happened to stumble on the one girl on earth specifically designed for me."

Back to the not-so-innocent conversation with the bomb-of-a-question. I stumbled my way through explaining that while I don't believe in soul mates, I still think Mr. PC is swell, and can't wait to marry him. But I couldn't help but think that my friend's look really meant, "Oh poor thing. You don't know what love REALLY is. If you did, you'd believe in soul mates." It was entirely too awkward and really put my sweat glands into overdrive.

I'd like to know, fair readers, do you believe in soul mates? Does your main squeeze share your opinion?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rouching and Poufs and Trains-Oh My! Attempt 2

Along with the 713 dresses I tried on at bridal stores, I also explored my 'once worn' wedding dress options. I visited the site Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses pretty frequently (an excellent source of procrastination [who said that? I NEVER procrastinate!]), emailed a dozen people and visited three ladies' houses to try on their dresses.

Let me give you a bit of insight. It is odd (to say the least) to visit a stranger's home and undress down to your skivvies in their bedroom while they help you shimmy on the gown that they wore at their own wedding. Each part of the experience is awkward enough on its own, but add them all together and you get one big smorgasbord of uncomfortablness. Cue awkward laughter from Miss Pin Cushion.

Thankfully all the women I met were exceedingly nice, and didn't seem to mind me prancing into their house and taking photos of myself dressed in the most expensive clothing item they probably own.

The first dress I tried on was by Cymbeline, style Cherie:
My expression in the photo on the right says it all; I'm pretty sure I'm trying to hold in my laughter. The dress had been so cute in the lady's photos online, but on me, 'ridiculous' is really the only way to describe it. The fabric was too shiny. The bottom tier was removable (to assist with boogeying down at the reception), but that only made the look sillier. And there was quite a bit of a fabric pouf in the tush-al region.

Next, was a beautiful dress that I loved online and loved in person almost as much. But the seller was charging nearly the full price. I thought I'd be able to talk her down, but no such luck. (Note to self: add "learn to bargain" to my post-wedding to-do list.)

So many tiers! I still love this one.

Lastly, was a simple Monique Lhullier dress. The woman had bought it at a sample sale and never wore it. I had a moment of thinking it was working for me, but the photos don't lie-it was not working. The color wasn't right and it was too simple. Plus, I'm not used to showing that much cleavage.
Head is cut off in the second photo to protect the innocent (you all) from seeing my scary zombie face (though it's still peeking out).

The thing about trying pre-owned wedding gowns is that even if you know immediately that you don't want the dress, you're standing right in front of the owner, so you can't come right out and say you don't like it. You have to act like you're thinking, "Oh yes. So lovely. I think I might just buy this." Probably all three ladies I met thought I was going to call them back lickety split and buy their dress. But they were wrong.
Who else had awkward moments during dress shopping? Any underwear-gone-array moments out there? Or bad mouthing a dress while the next bride over tried it on?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rouching and Poufs and Trains-Oh My! Attempt 1

I'm 97.6% sure that I spent more time finding my wedding dress than I did on anything else in the wedding planning process. How did I accomplish this feat? It required a grueling regime of: 1) a general lack of wedding dress research; 2) poor organizational skills (like not charging your camera, so you have to try on the same dresses twice because you can't remember what they look like); and
3) doing things willy-nilly (which ensures you will do things in the least efficient way possible).

I followed this system for about 2 months. I tried on approximately 71.5 dresses (that 0.5 dress I got on half way and knew it was going to be a disaster). I visited 8 bridal stores on both coasts. I visited 3 people's homes to try on their used gowns. I searched online. My mom sent me listings from Craigslist.

And it wasn't until mid-search that I finally developed a list of criteria I was looking for (a tactic which also helps prolong the dress search by a month of so). My hope was to find a dress that: didn't have rouching or beading, wasn't satin or super fancy schmancy, had a sweetheart neckline and wouldn't break the bank (I didn't want to to know I could feed a small village with the money spent on my dress).

Rather than discuss every. . . single . . . stop along the way (which would take me 115 posts), I'll just inundate you with photos of myself in dresses (many of which are not too cute [note to self-try to comb hair and wear makeup sometimes]). I guarantee you'll be sick of looking at me by the time I finally get to the dress that I bought.

In this post, I'll show you (some of) the dresses that I tried on in the stores. I'll give the designers and names of the gowns when I know them, but I tried on so many, that the details have often gotten lost in the muddle that is my brain. Holler if you know any of the style numbers.

In no particular order (as my life seems to have lost any semblance of order):
1. The Wedding Party, in Berkeley. They only have 1 appointment at a time here, which was fabulous. The consultants are the co-owners, and the one that I worked with was so nice, and had great suggestions. They had very reasonably priced, beautiful gowns.
A Nicole Miller number. It felt very art deco, which would go great with my engagement ring. But it felt a bit matronly to me (another note to self: photos from below=not flattering).

Such a sexy back on this one! But the front was 'meh', and showed every nook and cranny of my body (and I'm no dieting maniac, so that just wasn't going to work).

I wasn't taken by this one, but my girlfriends (ie advisers) loved it.

Nicole Miller HG0013. I loved this dress. I tried it on at multiple stores. But I didn't like the way it looked wrinkled at the bottom (it's supposed to look like that-it has metal in the fabric).

2. Kate's Kouture in Berkeley. As soon as I walked into Kate's I knew I wouldn't find my dress there. The owner told me right away that they didn't have anything simple, which you can see is true from the photos below. Hello bling! I should have turned right around when I walked into the store, but I don't think that's proper etiquette (I bite my thumb in your general direction, Emily Post).

(headless photos alert [probably better for all of our sakes])

3. Trudy's in San Jose. I loved Trudy's (so much that I went there twice). I went over my appointment time on both occasions, but they didn't rush me out. Looking back at these dresses, I would have been really happy with any of them, but I wasn't "ready" to buy at the time (I hadn't mentally [or emotionally] prepared myself!).

Pronovias La Sposa. Probably the most flattering garment I'll ever wear. But the heavy satin just didn't make sense for our outdoor wedding.

Mori Lee #4164. We pinned it to have a sweetheart neckline. We were this close to buying this dress. If we had, it would have saved a lot of time and money (but I like to make things difficult on myself). 

This dress was gorgeous! And flattering. But it had weird pickups (is that even the right term?) on the sides of my knees, which were a bit odd.

4. Bridal Galleria in San Francisco. The owner was so sweet, and had the best French accent.
Loved the one-shoulder, but it seemed a bit "opening night at the opera" rather than "wedding dress". I'm getting a kick out of the lingerie in the background.

Simple, but I liked this one. (Hello super hero pose!)

5. Glamour Closet in San Francisco. Rad store. They have sample dresses, so designer gowns are sold at a great discount. And the place was impeccable. Like hypoallergenic impeccable. You put little clips on the hangers of the dresses you want to try, and the consultants bring them to you, so customers like me aren't dirtying the gowns up with our grubby hands.
By Lian Carlo. I loved this gown. The lace flowers were sewn on so they popped up a bit. (Ooh! 3-D!) I would have bought it on the spot if it was in my price range. It was originally just under $5000, and was reduced to about $3000. Still too much for me. (And I think I was going for the androgynous look with my hair and makeup that day.)

Too tight. I could barely walk. But it had a bow on the top that was very cute indeed.
(Hi there dad! Looking good.)

Sheesh, are you totally sick of me yet? This is only a few of the places I visited, and just a sampling of the dresses I tried on. Everything started to blur together. Looking back, there were many gowns I tried on that I would have been so happy with, but I think I had reached gown overload and nothing was standing out anymore.

Did anyone else have gown overload? How many dresses did you try on to find YOUR dress?