December 31, 2008

To a New Year

2009! There is so much to look forward to and so much to look back and be thankful. I am so appreciative of the good and not so good that this year brought for me.

Next up: 2009 Wedding Resolutions (yep, I made those up, and why not?)

December 30, 2008

I Got Schooled

I have a confession to make: I'm not as enlightened about weddings as I like to think I am. Let me explain.

I had a major problem with dress shopping. Everything I saw was either too expensive; had just come out in the designers' most recent collection and unavailable in stores; or was a bit over the top for me. I am not into the princess look, nor am I really attracted to a lot of beading or crystals (although I think many women look beautiful in these looks). I did not really look forward to the dress shopping process and had been putting it off slowly, which in turn made me even hate it more.

Also I should let you know that as much as I like style and nice clothing, I don't pay for it. I don't own a pair of Jimmy Choos or Loubutins; I can't recognize last season's Prada. With NYC mortgage payments, student loans and a major love of travel and food, expensive clothes just don't make the top of the list of priorities for me. I find a way to still be pretty stylish though. People who compliment me on my clothing are surprised when I tell them it's H &M or Zara, so I guess I am doing something right. :)

Now about this whole wedding dress shopping thing... why did I not initially adopt this same m.o. for that? I coveted dresses that were way above my budget and felt this sense of hopelessness that I won't find THE ONE (if there even is a ONE dress out there for me).

Enter David's Bridal. I will admit that even though it's a great place to find a dress, I did not take it seriously as a place to shop. It was the first place I visited to try dresses since I knew I would I would find a dress in my budget range for sure. My first visit was pretty uneventful, and I had a great consultant who was helpful and sweet. BUT I still thought that David's was, well, the "Old Navy of Bridal Shops." (Please don't hate me, just being honest..this post gets better) Plus I had read so many negative experiences from brides who shopped there on various bride message boards. Yet David's is a great sources for many women who want their dream dress but can't afford the designer me.

Then right around Christmas time, I saw it online: the dress that I thought may just be it. I went; I tried it on and I loved it (minus some of the beading on it). I had yet another positive experience at David's. Then I thought about my previous attitude towards this store. Was I letting what too many bridal magazines and bridal TV shows love to tell brides, i.e., that more expensive is automatically better regardless of who you are? The more expensive the dress, flowers or invites is automatically the best choice for you? I was a little disappointed in myself. Even if it is the "Old Navy of Bridal Shops" perhaps David's Bridal would have my wedding dress.

I've realized that I can't count anything out during this process as it may be exactly what I am looking for. The local floral shop, home-based business, or Etsy shop may just be exactly what I want and need for this wedding, and you know what? That's okay. Sometimes you know these things, and you have to let your experiences teach you over and over again.

Anyway, thank you, David's Bridal, for schooling me.

(By the way, I ended up with the David's dress..I'll definitely blog more about it. Also I know that there are many less expensive stores and designers out there that are not David's Bridal. I encourage everyone to look high and low for what truly fits them and their budget.)

December 29, 2008

It's the Economy, Darn It!

I don't need to tell you that we are currently living in an economic crisis. It's all over the news, and you really can't go a day without hearing about it. For some people this economic crisis is closer to home than others. Living in New York City, the financial sector is one of the biggest industries here. Mr. Swan WAS a part of that indusry for 5 1/2 years until early December. Yes, that's right, Mr. Swan was down-sized; laid-off; his position was "eliminated;" whatever you want to call it!

I have to admit that it was initially very hard to want to move forward with the wedding planning. Mr. Swan and I have been trying to make this wedding as economical as we can while still trying to have the wedding we want. We don't have the need for engraved invitations and a stretch Hummer (nothing wrong with those, just not us), but we're not planning to go completely budget either. It seems like we are not the only ones.

For a moment, we thought of scrapping the wedding altogether in favor of a very, very small family wedding or maybe doing a destination wedding. For me, it was hard to even think about spending that kind of money on one day even as special as this one. We decided to move forward with our plans, but not without some careful thought. We are bit older, a little more settled and so have the financial resources to pay for this ourselves. In the end, we'll be married; it is just a matter of HOW we are choosing to accomplish that. Our vows and our future life together are still the most important thing and will be what I have to look back on later in life.

At the same time, we have been getting the most out of our budget that we can and continue to do so. I guess that's all we can really do.

December 26, 2008

The Kwanzaa Connection

You know, sometimes I think I've things down pat, and I can make all of these cool connections to various theories and ideas. Then I realize that a lot of people are way ahead of me. Like this blog post connecting Kwanzaa principles to wedding/marriages (Um, thanks Martha Stewart Weddings!). Regardless of your feelings or knowledge about this holiday, I think the underlying Seven Principles are beautiful and have application throughout our daily lives.

Happy Kwanzaa!

December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

The holidays bring up so many issues especially for the engaged :

1. Where to spend the holidays - This is something new for Mr. CPF and me, although I know that many engaged couples and newlyweds go through this at some point as well . We spent our first major holiday together this past Thanksgiving. I'm an only child of a single mother, and I take my holidays with Mama CPF very seriously. Holidays with her are low-key days where I tool around in my pjs eating Mom CPF's really amazing food. I'm sure I'll have a great time with Mr. CPF's fam, but I will miss Mama CPF. 

2. Holiday Office Parties - You're engaged. Do you go? Do you not go? Are you even invited? I say, "Go!" REGARDLESS. 

3. Holiday Wedding Style - I love hot weather, and it helps that I'll be getting married during one of the hottest months of the year. At the same time, you can't beat a beautiful winter wedding. Since most weddings happen during the warmer months, sometimes winter brides don't have as many resources for inspiration; however, the blog world has changed all of this. Here's a great winter inspiration board from Snippet and Ink: 

That's pretty hot! :)

Happy Holidays to all!

December 21, 2008

Feeling Left Out?

I'm not exactly sure how to write this post. While I think I am like many brides out there trying to navigate all of the various ideas about what I am supposed to be as a bride, I sometimes feel a little left out. As I am sure you all can see from my profile there, I am a Black woman (with (dread)locs no less). While I love the wedding blog world and while I acknowledge that there are many great Black women doing wedding blogs (Brides Cafe, 12k Wedding), I still don't feel that Black brides are adequately represented. Apparently, I'm not the only one.

As much as I can identify with lots of brides, it's always nice to see someone that looks like you or may share a similar cultural background. It's not that I can't identify with women different from me either. For example, one of my favorite Bees of all time was Mrs. Hummingbird. I can't imagine someone so different from me, but I was totally feeling her!

Also I've got a particular problem with finding resources because of my hair (more on that later). The wedding world does not really offer many resources for women with (dread)locs. :) I do have some ideas that I am excited to share with you and will do so in later posts. Don't start me on make-up....oy!

Instead of complaining, I figured that I would take matters into my own hands. I started blogging as much for myself as well as for the faint hope that someone else would find some helpful information and inspiration from something I posted. I've added some resources for Black brides below that I found and thought were interesting. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but all are definitely worth a look. If anyone has found more, please share!
That being said, for my short time here on Wedding Bee I want to blog about this wedding process as it relates to ALL women. I think that while we've got a universal experience as people transitioning into marriage, there are going to be some variations on how we experience this time in our lives and what we need to do to prepare for the day.

Besides, I don't want anyone to feel left out.

Here are those helpful links I mentioned:

African American Brides - a good general blog.

African American Wedding Hairstyles - a great place for hair inspiration. The great thing about this blog is that it includes pics for Black women with ALL types of hair textures from long straightened hair to locs to two-strand twists and afros.

Brown and Bridal - an online community with emphasis on its message boards. They've also got bloggers too.

Afrobella - a great general blog for Black women with an emphasis on natural hair and make-up and beauty tips. I'm a bit of a make-up/beauty products dunce and have learned quite a bit here.

December 19, 2008

Venue Shopping #2 - Raw?

Raw space that is. One of the venue options we explored was using a raw loft space for our ceremony and reception. It's a popular option here in NY as there are many industrial buildings that have been turned into live-work residential loft and event spaces. Since Mr. CPF and I were looking to have our wedding in Brooklyn, we looked into Pochron Studios in DUMBO.

Pochron Studios's event space is wide open with white walls. For some people this is like a beautiful blank canvas; to me it's SCARY. I wish I was one of those people who could envision the amazing uses for a space like this. I'm pretty darn visual in that I need something to anchor my vision or idea. The great thing about a raw space is the ability to create any and everything that your imagination can conjure, but I need a bit more .

I will say that Pochron would be a little helpful in creating a great vibe than other loft spaces because of this:

This view is amazing! There is a lovely huge patio/terrace that is a great place to have a ceremony and cocktails. Here it is set up for a wedding (sans view):

At the same time I was still wondering if using a raw space was for me. I was jazzed by the view and thinking about the major challenge of a blank space, when I began to think about some of the drawbacks of this kind of space.

A minus for some people possible considering certain types of loft spaces is not having much space or equipment for a caterer to throw down and do his/her thang in the kitchen.

While Pochron gave us a list of caterers that were experienced in using this space, it was definitely something to think about for me.

In the end we decided not to go with Pochron because well...I think Mr. CPF and I are pretty lazy :) I knew that we really wanted to streamline the process of wedding planning as much as possible. The extra steps of thinking about decor, renting tables and chairs and finding a caterer were all a bit too much for us. While Pochron was definitely cool, we kept on truckin'.

Did you use or considering using a raw, simple or otherwise challenging space for your wedding? What were some of the benefits or drawbacks of these spaces?

December 17, 2008


WOW! I wonder if this looks good in person as it does online. The price is pretty darn nice!

B to the U to the D to the G to the E to the T

If you can't figure out what I was trying to spell out, it's the most dreaded word in wedding planning: BUDGET. The word is sometimes used to describe weddings that are not as expensive as others as well as a financial plan for the wedding. In the wedding world, you often hear planning "on a budget" or "budget" weddings. Our wedding is somewhere in between. :)

Honestly, do you know anyone who can just spend without consequences? I don't. So aren't we all really on a budget to some extent? I am sure that there are many people who do not have to worry about prices, but I would venture to say that most of us are NOT included in that group.

Sadly, I did not luck out in the "I'm going to have an inexpensive wedding" lottery because:

1. I live in New York City. You know, the whole bride's hometown thing, right? Well unfortunately my hometown is one of the most expensive cities in the United States (if not THE most expensive). For a variety of reasons, we are having the wedding here. Yes, I know we can have a destination wedding, but New York has a place in our hearts and for many reasons it's also a practical place for us to have the wedding (i.e, travel ease for many guests many of whom are international, living and planning in the same place as the wedding and well...we like it here). I know it's expensive. Please don't remind me. Sigh...

2. As much as I'd like this to be the case, I don't really have any friends to hook me up with free services. I am amazed at blog posts about how people who have friends who are designers, caterers, photographers, tailors, etc. I love my friends, but they don't have skills like that. :) Also I am not sure I would want them to do some of the things related to the wedding. I just want them to show up and enjoy the day with me. Maybe a few will help me get ready.

3. DIY - As you read in my introductory post, I just don't craft. Like for real...I was always one of the worst kids in arts and crafts class. I can't even draw a proper circle. Craft projects freak me out. I am amazed at all of you making your own pocket fold invitations, charms, special favors and stuff. I tip my hat off to you. I don't have the interest, patience or the creativity much less the time. I have a travel intensive job which requires me away from home and Mr. Swan at least two nights per week for six months out of the year (or right about now). At my last job I was lucky if I left before 7pm! The little time I have at home is filled with errands, blogging, planning, cleaning and making a feeble attempt at enjoying some free time (what is that concept, by the way?). In my pre-blog days, I even inspired a blog post about my DIY ambivalence.

Am I being bitter? Probably, but I am not a slave to the Wedding Industrial Complex (boo!) and to be honest, our wedding is STILL not coming cheap.

Mr. Swan and I have gone about our budget in the most practical way possible. If we don't think it's worth it, we won't have it. Period. I think Manolo for the Brides took a great approach to thinking about wedding budgets. We've picked what was most important to us and emphasized them in how much we've spent so far: venue/food/open bar and photography (at one point my dress was part of it but that's changed). We started with our venue/food and built our budget around that. I didn't feel the need to have the best of everything in every category much less have certain things at all. Favors? So far not planned. A guestbook? Possibly. If we weren't feeding people, I think our wedding expenses actually wouldn't be that bad ;) I LOVE food so a meal had to be involved in my wedding experience. Oh well!

Even within those important budget line items of venue/food and photography, we've made sure that we have gotten the most bang for our buck. How? A daytime wedding and a great photog with really fair pricing. Let's hope we keep on the right track.

Even after writing all of this, I am pretty jealous of this woman. A $5K wedding in NYC...I ain't mad at ya, girl!

What approach have you taken towards developing your budget?

December 15, 2008

Finding a Venue #1 or What's a Foodie to Do?

One of the things I knew would be important to me in planning this wedding was the food. As you can tell from my previous post, I am a bit of a foodie. I have a hard time spending tons of money on a pair of shoes, but if I can find a good meal somewhere, I am all over it. Yep yep! Needless to say, I know that I wanted to find a reception venue that had great food or at least a good culinary reputation.  Unfortunately, that does not always happen in wedding planning. There are just so many things going on in the decision-making process that something's gotta fall by the wayside. I've already learned a few months into this process that you will never really figure out how you got where you did until you get there....ya know what I'm sayin'? 

Case in point...our chosen venue...I NEVER EVEN TRIED THE FOOD!!! That's right.. NEVER! I'm going on complete blind faith here, which for someone like me who wants to know everything ahead of time (yep, I'm a planner) is pure hell. 

This leads me to our top choice at the beginning of the venue shopping process: the River Cafe in Brooklyn.  In addition to having amazing food, the Terrace Room, the River Cafe's private room, has beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline.  At the beginning of planning, I really wanted a venue that would highlight the beauty of NYC. I grew up here, love with all my heart, and I find something new and beautiful about it almost everyday. I really wanted the feel of NY in all its beauty to be a part of our day. 

When you walk into the Terrace Room you see this amazing view.

(photo credit to yours truly)

Honestly, this pictures does not do it justice. Sigh...

We would have tried to have our ceremony on the deck here:

(I took this one too)

Even the inside is pretty..I mean come one..they've got a stream running through it!


I was in venue love, BUT this place costs mad loot, yo! I'm not even buggin' with you. Mr. CPF and I contemplated this place for awhile. We thought about cutting our guest list; buying sardines to eat for the next year; and just plain sucking it up. In the end, we couldn't justify the price. I lost my perfect foodie venue in the blink of an eye...okay fine, in the blink of a perfectly rational adult decision. Oh well! What's a girl to do. I soon realized that the C.R.E.A.M (Cash Rules Everything Around Me. You know you recognized the Wu-Tang Clan reference) factor was going to be sooo much a part of this process. 

So Mr. CPF and I kept on movin' ...stay tuned for more on the venue saga. 

Was there anything that you may have felt strongly about in your venue search or in wedding planning in general? Were you able to get it in the end? Please let me know what it feels/felt 'cause I'd sure like to know. 

December 14, 2008

New to the Blog World!/What does Chic..Personal..Fun Really Mean

Hello, World!

I am new to this blogging thing, but I am excited to learn about all it has to offer.

I'm sure you are wondering what "Chic...Personal..Fun" really means.  I am a part of the growing number of folks blogging about weddings. I hope to take a different spin on things, though. I most likely won't be doing inspiration boards  and definitely not DIY projects (sorry but I suck at those things!) but I will attempt to challenge you, sometimes the wedding establishment and definitely challenge myself. I will have a little bit o' everything so there will be a little something for everyone. 

I'm sure you are thinking, what does "Chic...Personal...Fun" really mean? These are the words that I hope to be the "mantra" for our wedding. A little sumthin' sumthin' to make sure I don't lose sight of what we're trying to do here in the din/craziness that is the wedding world. 

Let me break it down for you:

1. Chic - Simple, elegant, streamlined (although don't you hear that about weddings so much nowadays? Everyone wants a simple, elegant last I am one of them..oh well, I can't promise you that I won't be a part of the herd at some points). Everyone has a different definition of chic, so I hope you will bear with mine as we go along. Let's just say I won't be blogging about big, poofy, dressses...more on that later. 

2. Personal - I want this wedding to be personal. I want Mr. ChicPersonalFun (Mr. CPF for short) and I to really express our love and commitment to each other during our day especially in our ceremony. Not to judge (but I may do so in  some posts), but I am amazed at how some weddings feel as if you can simply insert people into them. I feel like I learn nothing about the couple from that day. I think weddings should at least strive to show who you are as a couple not through your favors or flowers, but through your words and actions. Also I want our wedding to be a celebration of the people in our lives and how grateful we are to have them. I hope to include personal touches for them in our wedding. Hopefully, people will learn about us and feel our love for them on our day.

3. Fun - Umm...I think this one is pretty self-explanatory..who doesn't like to have fun? I'll put the things I find fun out there now: eating a good meal; travelling abroad; cooking a good meal (okay, are you seeing a theme here with the food?); dancing; learning new languages; watching reality TV; Lost (can't wait until January!); being challenged by art, spending quality time with friends, listening to my Mom sing...the list goes on, but I hope you get the idea. I want our wedding to be fun for our guests...period. I will be the first on the dance floor..that's for damn sure! 

If you're out there, say hello and keep a look out for more posts. Hopefully, I will get past my lack of computer knowledge and make this blog fun and interesting. 

If you had three words to signify you or your wedding, what would they be and why?