January 31, 2009

Life is Getting in the Way....

of wedding planning and this blog! I'm so sorry for not having had the chance to be able to write in the last week. In the past three months, I've started a new job that includes intense periods of travel and is a complete and total career change for me. Next week includes my first week of multiple nights away from home. It's been exhausting trying to keep up with chores, friends, errands, Mr. CPF and family. I've gotten little to no planning done this week too. Luckily I feel like I can take a break right now as I think the planning in shifting into a different phase anyway. 

I've definitely thought of some ideas to make sure that there is no week-long unintended break again. 

For those of you out there who are planning/have planned, what helps/helped you keep on track with all of these competing demands for your time during planning? Any advice? 

January 24, 2009

An Epic Week

This was an epic week. A new era started with a new President and First Lady. Based on many of the interviews, I've seen with Michelle and Barack Obama, I will say that they seems to have a a warm and loving relationship. Go New First Family!

Living during this historic moment in American history made me think about the people who came before us and how America has changed quite a bit (although there is still tons more room for improvement) particularly as it relates to Mr. CPF and me. You see, Mr. CPF is of Italian and English ancestry, and I am of Afro-Caribbean descent (throw in some Carib Indian and European ancestry, and you're all good). Years ago we would have barely even socialized much less married each other. Thanks to people like Mildred and Richard Loving, we have the right to be legally married (and unfortunately because of acts like Prop 8 in California, we all cannot marry who we wish). Their landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia struck down anti-miscegenation laws throughout the country. Without what they went through, Mr. CPF and I would not be here today. 

Thinking about how we have overcome our collective past makes me excited about our future. 

January 21, 2009

Done & Done

I did it. I bought the dress. I am done. I don't/didn't feel like thinking about it or dealing with it anymore.

Here's the low-down:

1. It is a David's Bridal dress. 

2. It's pretty close to what I would like my "dream" dress to be....not completely there, but close; however, it is my dream price. 

3. I did not buy the dress that Mom CPF wanted me to. I needed a dress that felt like me and not someone else. I'll feel like me and not someone else in this dress. 

Specifics on the dress without a picture for my one faithful reader, Mr. CPF to follow. 

4. I bought it by myself. There was no gaggle of people oohing and aahing and surrounding me. Just me. 

5. While I love this dress, I did not have an "A HA!" moment that I've been told you should have when you find "The One" dress. I really like it. That should be enough, shouldn't it? I even had a really good dose of doubt for a second. That somehow seems healthy to me. 

6. I remembered one thing: this is one dress that I will wear for nine to ten hours for one day. It will not define me or my marriage. 

I'm happy to be done. 

January 18, 2009

Making a Run for the Border Instead?

I just had to share this wedding  because I think it shows that anything goes for weddings. If I was going to have a wedding/reception at a chain restaurant, the foodie in me would go to Cheesecake Factory or P.F.Chang's. :) 

One of the things that struck me the most in the article about this wedding was one of the reasons cited for doing it at Taco Bell: "there was no stress." I have not really addressed wedding stress (if there is such a thing..okay there is...who am I trying to kid here?) yet because so far this process has been 95% un-stressful as we get close to the half-way point in our engagement. Some of the situations I read on the internet with brides stressing out would definitely push me to make a run for the border or to Taco Bell if I were them. 

Some of the prime culprits of wedding stress to me seem to be:

1. Family and Family Expectations: I know FMIL CPF and Mommy CPF are reading, so I will make sure to say that they've been really nice to us during this process. They've really let us define what we'd like this wedding to be thus far, and I appreciate them for that. Our extended families are just as low-key (thanks all!).

2. Bridal Party Drama - We're not having a bridal party, and stress avoidance is NOT the reason we've chosen to do this. I've definitely read some crazy stuff about brides causing their bridesmaids grief, asking for a lot personally and financially or just plain cattiness. I think what's key is just remembering the friendship and support reasons for the bridal party.  Your friendship/family relationship should be able to survive a wedding. 

3. MONEY - who pays, who doesn't pay and why. I can't say that this is not a part of the wedding planning process. Money and family/relationship dynamics are always going to be around, so you might as well start to deal with them. 

4. Self-Imposed Expectations - I don't have many expectations for myself for this wedding. As long as I show up and am mentally ready to be joined to Mr. CPF, then I think things will be alright. As I said before, I am NOT a DIYer. There will be no long nights folding paper or learning floral design. I hope that there will be even more happy days than the wedding in the future, so it doesn't have to be "the best/most important day of my life." I'm just trying to keep my eyes on the prize here. 

My M.O./mantra for wedding planning has been: "I REFUSE to be stressed out about this." I have remained pretty firm about that. The only wedding drama I want to be anywhere near is on the days I choose to watch "Bridezillas" (and even that gets me a bit antsy..good lord some of those women need help!)

If anyone has advice on how to handle wedding stress, please let me know. I'd love to hear it. 

January 16, 2009

Hair Here?

So I'm finally going to talk about one of the biggest challenges for me in terms of planning. It's been even harder than my dress, I think. It's my HAIR. As I've alluded to earlier I have locs. I don't call them dreadlocks or dreads because to be honest, there is nothing to "dread" about them. :) I think people have many ill-conceived ideas about people like me simply because we choose to wear our hair this way. Common misconceptions:

1. We are dirty individuals - I bathe every day. I like to look good and I think I smell pretty good too. I take care of my hair. I'm at a salon almost every four to six weeks. I take pride in my appearance.

2. We can't get jobs - I have had multiple very good, (even what some would consider) high paying jobs at some point in my life already. I am now in a job that requires representing important individuals, so I think I have pretty job prospects. I will admit this has never always been true. Thank God for living in 2009.

3. We are countercultural/trying to make a statement - This one might be a fair assumption. Although I have to admit for me and many Black women I know who choose to wear their hair this way it's because we like the way it looks as well as the opportunity to wear without chemical and/or heat straightening. Also it requires little to no daily upkeep, which is great for a lazy person like me. ;)

4. We all smoke drugs of some form - Never have and never will...moving on...

5. We are adherents to Rastafarianism - I grew up going to church in a denomination very similar to Lutheran/Presbyterian church. I would now consider myself a nondenominational Christian. Obviously none of that is Rastafarian related. Having done research into Rastafarianism, I think it's pretty interesting religion/cultural expression. Recommended Reading: "Rasta and Resistance" by Horace Campbell.

April made five years that I've been wearing my hair this way. I love it and at this point I have no plans of changing my hair (yes, Mama Swan, I'm not changing it). As the wedding approaches and my hair keeps growing, I've been trying to figure out some ways to style my hair and to possibly do hair trials.

I say possibly do hair trials because I am contemplating how to . I can't curl my hair with a curling iron. Usually curling my locs that requires my hair to be roller set when it's wet, and I sit under the dryer for about an hour! One of the burdens of my hair, I guess, is that as it grows my hair appointments grow longer. Usually they take between 2.5 to 3 hours on a good day. I think this means that I'll need to stagger out my hair trials? Hmm...

I think my plan will be to start figuring out at least what I like and what I don't like for a style. I'm also thinking about possibly cheating on my hairstylist but that's another post.

Here's what I think I want:

A soft, basic but pretty updo

I think this will look great with my dress as well as it gets my very long hair off my neck in the middle of the August heat.

I also like when my hair has texture, i.e., when it's curled with a roller set or when two or three individuals locs are twisted or braided together and loosened to produce a "crimp" look like this:

Sorry for the picture of the hardcore looking dude, but it's a good representation of crimped locs. He looks pretty mean, doesn't he? I would mostly likely wear my hair half up if I chose something like this. I've been wearing my hair like this alot lately.

As I said before I also really enjoy wearing my hair curly. I think this is a fun look that can be pinned up to add some drama. I'm not sure what kind of style I would want, but here's a good example.

I have choices, but I think the journey of trying to figure out how I'll wear my hair will be an interesting one. Stay tuned for this one as well.

January 14, 2009

Oh Snap! This is For Real

Today was a big day in the wedding planning process for me and Mr. CPF.  We sent our Save-the-Date email with a link to our wedding website. I'll have more to say about Save-the-Dates and wedding websites in other posts, but for some reason I was scared to send out the Save-the-Date e-mail. 

I think so much of the planning so far has been pretty internal. I'm not the most talkative person, I guess..okay, fine, at least not about the wedding. :)  I love reading things online about women who spend whole conversations telling family and friends every detail of their wedding 'cause it's just not me.  It's not that I am not excited about this; I just don't want our wedding to be the center of my life or dominate every conversation I have until August. I'm pretty okay with the idea of talking about the inauguration, football playoffs or a new restaurant opening. 

Despite this I think I was a bit apprehensive because this is still a very public thing we are doing. I know in the realm of weddings we all judge something whether we admit it or not. Am I afraid of being judged? Maybe. Perhaps I'm worried that something isn't right or that there is a glaring imperfection on the website. Am I perfectionist? Sometimes. 

It's hard to just put yourself out there, and I think today I gained a new found appreciation for the public aspect of what we are doing.  The Save-the-Dates took all of this thinking and planning from the abstract to the totally real, and I guess there is no going back now.

At least  Mr. CPF and I are putting ourselves out there together. 

For those the married folks/those planning, did you or have you had this moment?

January 12, 2009

The Honeymooners....

.....may not be Mr. Swan and I. Yes..can you imagine that? I, who takes pride in ticking off yet another country on my travel list, may not actually go on a honeymoon. Don't get me wrong. We'll take a trip eventually, but in my mind it just won't be a honeymoon. (Occasionally I can act like spoiled brat, and you get to see it. I never said I was perfect). Here are some of the criteria that we have discussed and for the most part agreed on for a honeymoon destination:

1. We'd like to be in a place that has activities/sites AND be able to relax preferably by a beach;
2. We'd like to go someplace we've never been before; and
3. This is always important for me: I'd like to learn about a new culture and to get to experience some of that culture.

Picking a honeymoon is easy for most people, especially here in the U.S. Many people opt to spend a week on the beach in the Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii. Well, I have to admit that those options don't really make Mr. Swan and I jump out of our seats very much.

First, I am from the Caribbean, and most of my family lives there to this day. Seriously, I can pick up my cell phone, call my family and I'll have a free place to stay for at least a week (and a few free meals) if I absolutely wanted to. Plus, well (and not to get all political here) I hope that the Caribbean one day will offer more/be known for more than just its great beaches and pretty darn good cricket players. There's lots of interesting history, beauty and smart people there. These countries can and should offer more to the world. Let's put it this way: I would never go to Paris and never leave my hotel. Period. Just my opinion here. I know the region offers lovely, affordable options for an exotic getaway. I encourage anyone going to a Caribbean island (or anywhere else for that matter) to get out and meet the locals and sample some local food and culture.

Anyway, the Caribbean is out of the question. Getting married during prime hurricane season doesn't necessarily help either (I hear you, Miss Gloss). Secondly, Mr. Swan has this irrational :) disinterest in Hawaii, and lastly, I've been to Mexico.

Also well there is little pesky issue of...ummm...MONEY. As you can tell from a previous post, budget is our new favorite word, and it's forcing us to even reconsider whether we'll even have a honeymoon. For someone who has had a bank account dedicated solely for travel and a mental checklist of trip possibilities, it's like being LOST.

BUT if we did have a honeymoon, where would yours truly want to go?


I've never been to Asia, and I feel like I can't call myself a seasoned traveller without a trip there. Plus who doesn't want to go here? I know other Bees have gone here or thought about a trip here, but look below. Aren't those pics reason enough?

While I love the idea of Bali, it is very far and expensive to get to. A trip that is almost twenty-four hours coupled with a hefty price tag on the flight makes a sista kinda think a bit.

Maybe somewhere a bit closer..like Greece!

Still as much as this is not as crazy of a plane trip and even with a decline, the Euro is still kicking the U.S. Dollar's butt even with a better exchange rate. I'm too old to stay in a hostel, so maybe I need to keep thinking.

The million dollar question will be whether or not we can find our characteristics I mentioned above at a price we might like. Maybe Mr. Swan will surprise me, and we will be able to go to one of my dream locations.
Stay tuned...

January 11, 2009

Reception Search - Little House..... in Greenwich Village

I realized that I have yet to finish chronicling my venue search, so here it goes...

I was at the tail end of wanting to see reception venues. I had seen places small, fancy, big, plain and everything in between, but I wanted to see 632 on Hudson for myself in person. It's a townhouse originally built in the 1840's in the West Village. It has amazing architecture and is a beautiful, intimate space. 

I was originally attracted to 632 on Hudson because of the artwork and beautiful decor. Plus it would be different from the traditional catering/banquet/restaurant private room options that we had been looking at in general. 

When you see these photos, can you blame me for wanting to see it live? 

(source: moi)

(source: moi aussi)

(source: me again)

(source: you guessed it)
There's even a roof deck! 

While I really like 632 on Hudson, I have to admit it looked a little smaller in person than on the website (isn't that always the case?). I was told that it could fit our group, but wasn't sure if people wouldn't feel a little cramped. I think it would be a wonderful space for up to 60 or 70 people. 

Also I wanted to have a dedicated space for people to be able to have a sit-down meal and to not be divided between the 632's multiple levels. Luckily, a new gallery/open space was being built on the lower level. I got to take a sneak peek on the tour (pic is below). The room could easily fit up to 100 people seated. If I remember correctly, they were still working out the pricing for renting both spaces. I think a fun wedding would be to have cocktails in the main area upstairs with dinner downstairs and then back upstairs for fun!

While 632 on Hudson seems like a fun space, it didn't necessarily seem like the right space for Mr. CPF and me. I hope someone I know has a wedding there soon just so I can experience it at night! I think this is a great option for the couple having a small wedding with an opulent house party feel. Please, friends, someone have a wedding here!

January 7, 2009

Love These!

Okay, so I am going to finally let some people in on a little secret place I like to visit for a cute, stylish gift: Cheetahrama. I love these amazing compacts, vanity cases and business card holders. I recently ordered one of Deborah Gregory's Billie Holiday business card holders as a Christmas present to myself. I discovered her items while perusing Essence Magazine several years ago. Her chic accessories feature divas of the past like Ella Fitzgerald, Pam Grier, Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker and most recently Dorothy Dandridge. This would be an amazing and unique bridesmaid gift or a great gift for the friend in your life who has everything or who loves old school divas of the past.

In addition to making these fabulous accessories, Deborah is also the author of the "Cheetah Girls" young adult book series, which eventually spawned a movie or two. I also spotted Deborah on TV a few times commenting on pop culture. I love Deborah's customer service (essentially when you order she answers you personally!). I love supporting small businesses particularly by women and people of color.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Pam Grier as Foxy Brown. She's a badass. Period. I have this vanity case.

Ms. Billie Holiday. This is my business card holder. :)

The Original Diva: Ms. Josephine Baker

Definitely check out Deborah's work!

January 4, 2009

Keeping It Short & Sweet

I love the idea of breaking rules if you can when it comes to weddings, and to me one of the best areas to do this is with a bride's dress. I think it's perfectly fine to explode the wedding paradigm here. I was completely thinking about a shorter style since Mr. Swan and I will be having a daytime wedding in August heat. At this point, while I know the dream of many women is a big princess dress, I sometimes wish I had the guts to go the short or tea-length route. Plus, after at one point harboring feelings like there is no dress out there for me, I really wanted to pull a Carrie Bradshaw (or at one point, Miss Mary Jane) and rock a cute suit. Alas, my dress is something long and floor length.

Another push away from a short dress is that I think they require some pretty badass shoes particularly heels. I would love to do that, but I plan on wearing flats. Mr. Swan is pretty close to me in height. While it does not usually bother me, I'd love for us to be the same height on our wedding day. ;)

I'm really feeling what I am seeing from designers as they offer more options in dress lengths for those brides willing to take a bit of a risk. Here are a few of the new tea-length and short styles that many designers are currently offering for their upcoming seasons.

I like the sexy and sweet options here. Go ahead, Ms. Amsale. These are super hot!

Here's something sleek and chic from Priscilla of Boston. This is being dubbed a "reception dress."

I think these dresses are an interesting sampling of what's out there. I hope we'll soon see more options for dress lengths and necklines in the future.

Anyone out there thinking of short or tea-length dress? Do it!!!

January 1, 2009

Wedding Resolutions

Happy 2009! 

A healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year to all. 

I love the beginning of the year. It holds so many possibilities and that's exciting. It provides us with the potential to start anew, and who doesn't like that? Many people like to do resolutions. I used to do them, and well....let's just say those were not super successful. It's not that I didn't follow-through on them, but I think they didn't force me to make the lasting change that I wanted. 

Now instead I make goals and also set out projects for the coming year. I started last year and was somewhat successful, and I hope to continue this process and become better at accomplishing my goals set at the beginning of the year. 

I also have a yearly ritual of buying a new journal. Sometimes Best Friend CPF and I buy ours together. This year while shopping in Barnes & Noble, we came upon these gorgeous Moleskine notebooks. 

They come in these great vibrant colors, and I can't wait to start writing in mine! These notebooks were used by great writers and artists such as Van Gogh and Heminway. Not bad company at all. 

In addition to setting goals for my personal life. I've also set goals as they relate to the wedding, and, no, I don't mean actually getting the planning done. I've come up with some ways that I want to approach the wedding in the final seven or so months. 

1. Don't let the wedding take over my life - WHAT?! Did I just write that? Yes, I did. I've decided to make sure that I have some outlets and activities outside of wedding planning. As much as I love this blog, and I love looking at anything wedding related, I've got make sure that I keep some part of my life wedding-free. I've got some ideas including continuing my training as a docent at a local museum and starting a monthly dinner club with friends. I think it's important for a bride to not get so enveloped in the wedding world that we forget to nurture ourselves and our interests. 

2. Be open to finding things for the wedding in the places I thought I wouldn't - A few days ago I was a little upset at a post I lost on my computer. Well, it mentioned my struggle with finding a dress. A few days ago, I had a great time and possibly may have found my dress at of all places.....David's Bridal. I'll post more about this later, but I realized that for someone who is trying to plan this wedding as frugally as I see fit, I need to be open to whatever resources are out there. 

3. Remember the wedding's purpose - It's sooo easy to forget (and to be honest, I think Mr. CPF and I have been good about this), but the wedding is about our spiritual union as husband and wife. Nothing more, nothing else. So whatever the flowers look like or what dress I wear will ultimately not matter unless I can look back five, ten, or twenty years from now and still be with Mr. CPF. 

I like my wedding resolutions. I hope that over the course of the next several months I will take them to heart.