Monthly Archives: April 2012

Problem Solved: Wedding Day Dilemmas

Ok, so something new coming your way. I’m going to start putting up brief posts about some of the less well known tasks that somehow become a wedding planner’s job. (At least when that wedding planner is me.) Warning: these may not be as glamorous as when Jennifer Lopez does plans a wedding. See also: What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

So. I don’t know how often I’ll be posting these things, just whenever they seem noteworthy. But the first one is definitely coming your way next week, and I think it’s a good one.

Elizabeth and Brian’s Morning Wedding and Luncheon Reception – Spiaggia Private Dining Rooms – Chicago, Illinois

Elizabeth and Brian are my kind of people. Why? Because their number one priority for their wedding was FOOD. And, as you may be aware, I like food. I like to make it, to eat it, to talk about it, and to eat it some more. So whenever I find people I can do that with, I’m home. (In fact, we all love food so much that we got together earlier this year to have dinner together. I really, really love it when we hit it off with our clients so much that we hang out after their weddings are over!)

So – with that as a priority, they chose Spiaggia for their venue and catering. Now, you may recall, that right after this wedding happend (in October! Yes, I am behind!) I posted about the food. Because it was excellent. You may recall how I’ve attempted to recreate that beet, apple, goat cheese, and prosciutto salad a few times. Anyway, now that I’ve drooled, let me tell you about the rest of the wedding.

Elizabeth and Brian got married on a brisk October morning, coinciding with the anniversary date of Elizabeth’s great grandparents (if I recall correctly – I hope!) – which I think is an excellent way to connect your new family with your existing one. I LOVED Elizabeth’s wedding dress, because it was a 1930s-style, bias-cut gown, which is exactly the kind of dresses we are obsessed with, and she was stunning in it. Brian looked dapper as well.

These two were so calm, and so ready to get married. No last-minute nerves, no pacing, just joy. Which is awesome. They had a lovely ceremony in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Michigan Avenue, and walked back down the aisle to the Star Wars theme – a surprise to everyone except Brian!

What I loved most about this wedding is that Elizabeth and Brian were so focused. They knew exactly what was important for THEM at their wedding, and they had the courage to let everything else go. I think that is a crucial part of loving your wedding (and preserving your sanity while planning it) – to ignore all the trends and the people who say “You must do it this way, or it isn’t a wedding!” and just do what works for you.

Congratulations Elizabeth and Brian!

Spiaggia Private Dining Rooms
Studio Finch
Sarah’s Pastries & Candies
Flowers by Color

All photos were taken by Studio Finch, are protected by copyright, and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. They are not available for reproduction or redistribution. Please contact the photographer for more information regarding the photos in this post.

Meet My Other Wife

No, I’m not a polygamist. But every couple of months, my wife leaves me for a week or two. She leaves early in the morning, she comes home well after I’m asleep. We barely exchange a text message in the hours we’re both awake. Cooking dinner, laundry, grocery shopping, taking care of the house, any Crafty Broads stuff that needs to be done is all on me. Sometimes, if I’m feeling generous, I’ll pack her a lunch or a snack to take with her.

I’m talking, of course, about the Theatre. It is a magical place, except during that period of time right before a show opens, known as Hell Week Tech. When you’re in the midst of it, it seems unending. You feel like you will never see your significant other again. In those fleeting moments when you catch a glimpse of each other, you’re cranky and tired and you bite each others’ heads off. When alone, you pine for even five minutes to talk about your days.


(And it sucks extra when the show is going hellishly and people are being jerks and everyone is extra-stressed as a result.)

Thankfully, Tech always ends. Usually within a week or so. (Unless you are this show.) And then, there is Opening Night. Where they attempt to appease the nightmares of the previous week by treating you to free food and libations. And it usually works.

So here’s to another opening of another show tonight! And more importantly, to the fact that I’ll have my wife back by this time tomorrow.

Until the next one, anyway.

Real Wedding Budgets

Ok, so it turns out I’m better at blogging if I give myself some kind of theme and goals. So, I’m thinking about a new, ongoing series about wedding budgets. Specifically, I would like to gather and publish actual data from real people – how much they spent on the weddings, what they got for their money, some photos that help us envision that, and what they thought about the money they spent.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I believe the way this will work best is to keep it completely anonymous. We’ll share the location and number of guests, breakdown of the budget, and if possible, some photos of the wedding (that don’t include any faces or other identifying information.)

SO. If you are brave, and you would like to help other couples get a clue of about what things cost, please click the link below to tell us about your wedding, and we will get it up here soon. We already have our first submission, and I can tell that this series is going to be really awesome and helpful, so if you are on the fence, hop down on my side and submit your budget.

Real Wedding Budget Submissions

Q: I don’t have any good detail shots from my wedding. Should I still submit my budget?
A: YES! There is space to describe each element, so readers will be able to get a pretty good idea of what your wedding was like, as long as they harness their own powers of imagination.

Q: I don’t remember exactly what I spent on my wedding. Do you still want my budget?
A: If you can recall approximately what you spent, we’d still love to have your numbers. Even a rough idea can be helpful to other people. You can always look at the submission form and see if it jogs your memory.

On the Menu This Week

Finally, a post about food! It’s been too long, hasn’t it? I know I should be rounding up all the tasty things we’ve consumed since whenever the last time was I mentioned something on here, but the truth is the idea of doing that is overwhelming enough to incapacitate me.

So, as I attempt to get back in the swing of meal planning (yeah, we have not been so good these last few busy months. We have had a lot of food delivered, and a lot of last-minute trips to the store.) – I thought I’d maybe try to resurrect that thing where I share my menu for the week with you. Here goes.

In case you’ve forgotten, we try to eat one red meat, one poultry, two fish, and three vegetarian meals each week. Designated below as (M), (P), & (V), respectively.

(V) Pasta (our default I-don’t-feel-like-cooking meal: angel hair with marinara)
(F) Crispy Fish with Tomato & Leek Saute
(M) Tacos
(V) Sweet Potato with Beets, Greens, & Almonds
(F) Maple Glazed Salmon with Pineapple
(P) Chicken, Squash, & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
(V) Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks & Fava Beans (!!! It’s fava bean season again! Finally! Are you as excited about that as I am? You should be.)

I also bought beets for roasting (and they had golden beets today – score! I saw them and immediately thought of the golden beet borscht we had at Sprout. Anybody have a good borscht recipe?) and tossing into salad greens for any meal which feels like it wants more veggies. We’ll probably have this with the salmon and on pasta night.

This week, Julia is in tech for a show, and consequently not home until Thursday, so I get to eat the things I usually skip because of her preferences/restrictions. For example, tacos! Which I would happily eat on a weekly basis, but she would prefer to have only once every other month or so. Also? Goat cheese. Which I LOVE but she cannot stomach, so I don’t eat it as frequently as I’d like. And that salmon dish with the pineapple? I could eat it all week long; Julia finds it a bit too sweet.

What are YOU eating this week? (If it’s vegetarian and delicious, please share your recipes because I never seem to have enough of those!)

Let Me Tie You Up

A special occasion ruby red corset from with coordinating silk chiffon skirt. This was worn to a theatre opening night party.

Today I get to talk about one of my favorite things in all the world – corsets. As you may be aware, I am on a personal mission to get every lady I know to wear one. Why, you ask? Well, if you insist, I’ll list all the reasons I love corsets right here:

  • Corsets are hot. This is not the number one reason I love them, but it’s undeniable. Corset = Sexy. They are lovely to look at when there’s nothing covering them up, and they accentuate all the right curves so when you do cover them up, you have a great silhouette.
  • They are REALLY COMFORTABLE. I know you don’t believe me. Hell, before I wore one, I wouldn’t have believed me either. But then I went on a quest to find an appropriate undergarment for my wedding dress, and let me tell you about a trip you never want to go on: trying to find a long-line brassiere of any kind when you are both plus-sized and in possession of a long torso. Suffice it to say both the internet and the best bra shops around Chicago were searched high and low; things were returned; and I ended up making myself a corset to wear under my dress. Yep. So, what was I saying? Oh yeah, they are cozy! Seriously, a corset that fits you well is awesome because it feels like you are getting a nice hug all day long. And they hold your boobs up without any poking underwires. And they make you stand up straight, which is not only good for you but gives you the appearance of being skinnier than you actually are.
  • They are fun to make! You might not think so, but I do, and you can hire me to make one for you.
Like all custom clothing, our charges for corsets are based on the estimated number of hours it will take to complete plus the cost of materials. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll point out that corsets are very labor-intensive projects, and most will take a minimum of 20 hours to complete. Designs with lots of bones, intricate finishing details, or straps/sleeves can take 30-40 hours from start to finish. It will not be cheap. But the payoff? You will love it, and with proper care, it will pretty much last forever. This is a good place to think about Price vs. Value.

A practical corset for everyday use, this one can be laced put on and laced by the wearer.

That’s it, really. What is boils down to is that corsets are the epitome of what I want from my wardrobe – first and foremost (always), it’s comfortable enough to wear all day without complaint; and second, it makes me look and feel great. And I want that for everyone, so get yourself a corset, won’t you?

This is the seventh and final post in our series, All About Crafty Broads. We didn’t get any questions, so there is no Q&A post forthcoming, but please feel free to comment if there is something you’re dying to know – we’ll be thrilled to respond! Miss a previous post? Find it here:

1. What Does a Wedding Planner Do, Anyway?
2. Uh, What Does DOC Stand For?
3. The B Word
4. Handmade Help
5. Alterations
6. Custom Clothing 

File Your Taxes Early (and Often!)

On our way to our Chicago wedding. Photo © Starbelly Studios.

It’s the Chicago way. No, it’s not really, that’s voting. I just stole it because this year, our taxes are… very special. You see, a while back, we got married (not legally) in Chicago. And then we went to Boston, and got married (legally) again. Which was/is awesome but come tax time, we were still considered single by both the Federal and State governments. So last year, we begrudgingly filed our taxes as single people, with a disclosure statement to the effect that we were really married, and they weren’t recognizing it, and the fact that we were filing as single did not in any way mean we were denying the existence of our marriage.

But this year? This year, Illinois passed a law enacting Civil Unions. So, our Massachusetts marriage license gives us an automatic civil union here (yay!) which means… we are single when it comes to Federal taxes, but (kind of) married when it comes to the state version. So, we each got to do our taxes twice – once as single people for our actual filing with the Federal government, and then all over again using the married filing status so that we could take that dummy Federal form to complete our Illinois form as actual married people. And we probably should have done it both as married filing jointly and married filing separately to make sure we were choosing the less expensive option, but we didn’t. Because that would have been doing them THREE SEPARATE TIMES, and just – NO. Oh, yeah, and we’re an LLC, so we have business tax forms to complete as well. All of which means we have spent an inordinate amount of time on taxes this year. (But they are DONE! DONE DONE DONE! Pending review by our accountant, anyway.)

Our legal wedding in Boston's Public Garden

So, dear governments and homophobic people, I must ask you this: Exactly how many times do we need to get married before we can file our taxes jointly? Because twice, apparently, is not enough. Can we please just get marriage equality on both state and federal levels before the next tax season rolls around? Because next year we might have an employee and payroll tax, and the year after that there may be children to consider. And if I have to do it three different ways on top of all that, I may end up in jail for tax evasion or a mental institution. Look – it’s going to happen sooner or later anyway – why don’t we go with sooner and save a lot of people a lot of hassle, ok? Ok. I promise to throw a kickass party to celebrate the day when I can say I’m married, without any qualifications.

For Your Hips Only

Now that you’ve heard all about finding the right garment and making it fit, we’re going to talk about the other option – having something custom made for your body.

So, why would you invest the time and money it takes to have a garment made? Well, there are lots of reasons! Perhaps you have a body shape that’s really difficult to find ready-made clothes for (in which case, thrifty me reminds you that it’s less expensive to buy something too big and have it altered, but I digress as usual). Maybe you’re getting married, and you want to wear something truly special. Or you’ve always wanted a corset (we’ll talk about those in detail next time). Or you just want some jeans that fit your hips AND your waist. Whatever the reason, we’d love to help. Here’s how it works:

Winning design of the options we showed Sarah.

Winning design of the options we showed Sarah.

We start with a (free) consultation. You tell us what you’re looking for. Bring us pictures of things that make you drool. Tell us all about the ways things usually fit or don’t fit you. We’ll take your measurements, talk about your budget (and we promise to tell you if it’s realistic or not, and do whatever we can to work within it), and come up with a few different design options for you. And then you can walk away if you want, OR you can move on to the next step.

Once you pick a design, we will put together a detailed quote for you. This will include the estimated number of labor hours we anticipate your garment(s) taking us to complete, broken down into the major phases – patterning, mockup construction, adjustments after fittings, and sewing the real thing. It will also include our best guess of material costs – fabric, lining, zippers, buttons, thread, and any other notions we’ll need.

Mockup of Sarah's wedding dress.

Mockup of the dress.

Here’s the part where we take the sketch and turn it into something three-dimensional. Using muslin, or another fabric with a similar drape to what we’ll cut the final garment from, we use a combination of draping and flat-patterning techniques to make a trial version of your garment. Since the point of this is to make sure we have a great fit, as well as to tweak the design if needed, it won’t have perfectly finished seams, trim, or decorative details unless they are crucial to the fitting process. You’ll try it on, and we’ll make notes, stick some pins in or let seams out here and there, and talk to at length about the fit, style, and materials. When we’re all satisfied – which may take a couple fittings – we’ll be ready to use the mockup as a pattern for the final garment.

Finally, we’ll purchase the fabrics and notions you’ve chosen to create your garment. A note about this – we typically select swatches of appropriate fabrics in the colors you like and show them to you at your design meeting and/or fitting(s). We take care of all of the shopping. However, if you want, and we promise it is entirely optional, we can also schedule a time to take you to the fabric store to look with us. In other words, you can have as much or as little involvement in the choice of your fabrics as you want.Ok, so, we buy the materials, we use the mockup to make the real thing, and then… we’re done, right? Well, almost. Before we spend a lot of time putting the finishing touches on, we’ll want to make sure it still fits perfectly. So we’ll have another fitting or two, and then do all the detail work, and then? It’s all yours!

Finished Wedding Dress! Photo © Emilia Jane Photography.

Finished Wedding Dress! Photo © Emilia Jane Photography.

This is the sixth post in our series, All About Crafty Broads. We would love to answer your questions in the final post – please submit them here. Next up, we’re talking about Corsets. Miss a previous post? Find it here:

1. What Does a Wedding Planner Do, Anyway?
2. Uh, What Does DOC Stand For?
3. The B Word
4. Handmade Help
5. Alterations