30,000 miles

Rob tells a story about a set up his friend tried to put into place a couple months before we met. His friend wanted to introduce him to a girl in Chicago who would soon be moving to Rob’s neck of the woods. And do you know what Rob’s response was?…It’s classic.

“Chicago! What am I going to do with a girl from Chicago?”

Imagine Rob’s quandary when about eight months later, he actually had to call his friend and say, “You’ll never believe what happened…I met a girl. And she lives in Chicago.”

That story continues to bring a smile to my face. This relationship was clearly orchestrated by God, because we would not have chosen this path. The scenario of a long distance relationship was not just too hard…but it was inconceivable.

But here we are. And one day, back in October, my co-worker (and more importantly, friend) Sondra came to my class to teach the third grade teachers about Movie Maker. This was just around the first time I laid eyes on Piney River and was all in a flutter over it. Luckily, Sondra was very patient for I, her student, was far more focused on the mountains than making a movie. However, I did come away learning something about Movie Maker. And when I read about a video Save the Date in Real Simple Weddings…an idea was born.

So this little Save the Date is not what I first had in mind. It’s a lot more schmoopy and a lot less humorous. But as I started this project, it quickly changed from a quirky little movie and became our story. Most of our friends are scattered all over the country and the world. Our updates have merely been through phone calls or Skype, or Facebook pictures. I haven’t met many of Rob’s friends and he has barely met the tip of the iceberg of mine. Many of our friends haven’t been able to watch us fall in love or lay the foundation of our marriage. Making this video was as close as I could bring them to understand what a celebration it would be…when it’s finally July 4th. Oh, Heavenly Day.

**Since we emailed the video out to our guests several months ago, the stats have changed. We have now flown over 30,000 miles that’s over 20 roundtrip flights!**


Happy Trails

Before we got engaged we had talked a little bit about what we hoped our wedding would look like. We both wanted outdoors. There is something about being in nature that draws us closer to our Maker more than a church. And we wanted that presence of God as we began our marriage. We also wanted a place that allowed us to spend time with our guests before the wedding. We talked about wedding memories that we loved, feelings, emotions, an atmosphere we wanted to create.

After we got engaged, we had to really think about the where and the how of our wedding.

Wedding decisions for us have to happen really fast (in the small snippets of time we have together) or really slow – as we try to process the decision in our long stretches of time during the in between.

Deciding in which state we should tie the knot was very quick. We knew that we probably couldn’t afford an outdoor area in Chicago or New York. I have often dreamed of getting married in my mom’s backyard. The garden, the trees, the fond memories of running barefoot and climbing trees. It’s beautiful. But I’m also aware that that would be A LOT of work for my mom and my uncle. And I love them. Furthermore, the logistics alone made my head hurt –renting tents, tables and chairs, bathrooms and parking. Nope. That took my mom’s off of the list. Plus, our closest friends live all over the world. Another priority is that we wanted our friends to come in and spend the weekend with us. I couldn’t fathom having all our lovely friends fly in and then…spend time …at the… riverboat?

And the final straw, the probability that it would be very hot and humid in Illinois or New York was about 115%.

And so, we landed on Colorado. Beautiful. Mountains. No humidity. Perfection.

Then, came the next task of actually finding a place. Despite us both having memories and connections in Colorado there wasn’t a place that jumped out at us. My dear friend Amber in Colorado Springs did some investigating and even recruiting from a friend. Rob’s friends, Brooke and Warren, sent us a list of possibilities. And I began a search on the internet. But with every venue, something seemed off. I didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding. The presentation of each venue made me itch and ache and was everything I didn’t want our wedding to be.

I thought perhaps I should start looking at photographer’s websites to see if I could find a venue. That’s a nice idea, if you know photographers. And off to Green Wedding Shoes’ vendor list I went.

There were two photographers for Colorado. I clicked on the first. It was a blog for a photographer based out of Denver. I scrolled through her photos. And the third wedding I saw, took my breath away. The wedding itself was simple and charming. It had all the small details that I had been envisioning, but the setting…was unbelievable. I wanted to get married there. I had to get married there. But, not wanting to be carried away by emotion, I took a deep breath and clicked on the second photographer on the list. And wouldn’t you know he had photos at the same venue.

Three months later, it became the official wedding location.

Our wedding is at Piney River Ranch on July 4, 2011. As much as I love America, I did not choose the day for an all out Americana themed wedding, but primarily because we wanted a holiday weekend for our friends to make the journey and enjoy the location. And Piney River Ranch was already booked on Saturday and Sunday.  (And for an added bonus – cheaper on a Monday!) Unfortunately, their website is not up and running right now. But if you google “piney river ranch weddings” you will understand why we chose this venue. In case you were wondering, Katy and Randy’s wedding with photos by Fresh in Love photography was the wedding that originally caught my eye. There were in numerous wedding blogs so they should be easy to find!


Awkward Conversation

Ok. Let’s have it. I know for many of you this probably goes without saying. But nonetheless, I want to just put it out there so we’re all on the same page.

The guest list. I hate that in all the wonderful, gloriousness of being so overwhelmingly happy after getting engaged, one is instantly thrown into the guest list debacle. There is a long list of well-wishers and so many people are happy for you. And then you have to “rank” them. I hated this process. We spent months on it. Going over and over what we could afford, our priorities for our wedding, and who we truly needed at our wedding. I got a gray hair.

If you’re reading this, you are probably one of my many friends on Facebook. You are probably closer than that portion of friends that are merely acquaintances from my past, a friend of a friend, or someone I sat by once in class. If you’re actually taking the time to read this, you probably know a little bit about me. And for that, I appreciate you. But I’m sorry. The guest list is small.

There are so many of you out there that have been my friend for many, many years. Even maybe a good friend I work with, or someone I hung out with in college and so many precious people from Grace Bible Church that I can’t begin to mention. I want you to know that I treasure you. All of you…for the friend you have been, and the friend you continue to be. Unfortunately, space (and money) is limited and we had to make some tough choices.

We’re planning on having an Open House down in my hometown once the dust settles in the fall. We would love to have you join us.

There. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I can start to share some of the things I’ve been working on without feeling so awkward.

Dresses for the Maidens

Bridesmaid dresses.

I shake my head at the thought of them. The dresses I’ve worn. The dresses I’ve seen. The tulle, the satin, the money. All lost on a dress that will probably not(except yours, Freed!) be worn again. In some cases, it will be made into throw pillows that will go on my bed.

Imagine my dismay when I realized I am now in charge of picking out the dress that “you can totally wear again”.

Originally, I was going to go really simple. This is when I thought my dress was going to be really simple. But I had to go pick something not really simple and ruin my plan.

Right away I knew that I would stay away from the typical bridesmaid shops. I know that anything under the description “bridesmaid” is usually not very cute and the material makes me itch. And if the dress actually is cute, it’s not very cheap. Why is the bridal community determined to make your bridesmaids look uncute or take all their money? And sometimes make them look uncute and take all their money.  If brides are really that insecure about being upstaged in beauty by their maidens, they should rethink their maidens or get some therapy.

And so, some internet hunting began.

I scoured blogs and etsy and modcloth, JCrew and Ann Taylor. I live with the Maid of Honor. Usually, she just smiles and nods when I talk about wedding stuff (which means she’s not listening but trying to sound supportive). But on this topic, she was very vocal.

Finally, I found a dress that I loved. And wouldn’t you know…it was going to steal all their money.

And so we decided to have them made.

I have a wonderful “adoptive” grandmother. My grandma passed away in 1999, leaving Kate and me grandparent orphans. That is until Arta stepped in. She had been a long time friend of the family, but with Gramma gone she began to fill in the missing pieces. Baking cookies, mending clothes. She even moved somewhere warm so we can visit her.

As soon as the ring was on my finger, she was sending me an email to let me know she wanted to help anyway she could. I cannot begin to express how wonderful this woman is and how much she is doing for this wedding.

She’s coming in April for a little bridesmaid dress making wedding weekend (minus one Matron of Honor).

But then, we had to hunt for fabric.

I really was looking for a beautiful (and inexpensive) purple brocade fabric. I started with Mood in New York. I’ve never watched Project Runway, but I was told this is where I should go because they go there. It was like walking into another country. I don’t speak fabric, so I just walked around looking at all the pretty colors. I didn’t find what I was looking for. And I came home empty handed.

So we set out on one more adventure one Saturday in January.

I’d like to say the fabric shopping part of this day was the overall highlight. It was not. We went to two places. And one of them smelled funny. The last stop seemed to be promising since there was a Chicago magazine cover of the owner with the headline “The King of Fabrics”. It also had a lot of stars on yelp. But alas, even the King of Fabrics himself could not find the fabric we were looking for. Apparently, brocade is no longer popular and nobody makes it anymore. No wonder that modcloth dress is so expensive, they got the last bits of brocade.

It was not a worthless trip into the city. We stopped by 3rd Coast (my most favorite Chicago café) for the Karrie/Kate special. Kate orders the Turkey and Brie. I get the Chicken Salad sandwich. And we get a half of each. And since, we were originally going to start our hunt in Evanston we had our hopes set on some coffee from Kafein. So we decided to drive on up the lake shore.

In the end, the day was filled with conversation, laughter and good food as it always is with Mindy and Kate. And on our way home we stopped at good old suburban JoAnn fabric. My headquarters for wedding craft supplies. And although we didn’t find the brocade fabric I was looking for, we found a great runner up. It is better than any of the other options I’d seen. And it was 30% off. And JoAnn has a wonderful teacher discount. God bless her.

Coincidence or Perfection?

While I was at Trinity, a friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful shopping of downtown Highland Park. It quickly became my favorite place to escape. I could get a cup of coffee, study a little and find a delicious deal at Banana Republic. I’m serious. Really incredible deals. Oh how my heart skips as a think about my beautiful leather jacket and those $10 wool pants. They don’t make sales like that here in the northwest suburbs.

I also discovered a stunning store…Anthropologie. It took all the things I love to find at flea markets and antique stores and shined ‘em up and stuck ‘em with a big price tag. But that did not stop me from going and smelling every candle, flipping through every intriguing book, and inspecting their diy decorations so I could somehow recreate it (You know, in case I ever needed a large paper cup snowfall). And some days, I would score a treasure. Yes, an affordable treasure even for a college student.

Over the years, Anthropologie continued to be the love of my life store (not to be confused with the love of my life. He does not so much love Anthropologie. It’s not really his style.)  It has come to decorate my kitchen and bedroom. And I’m really hoping the tablecloth I’d like for the wedding is on sale the next time I visit (just in time for my birthday coupon!).

But here is the greatest news. They now have a wedding shop. Yes. In the year of my wedding, Anthropologie is launching BHLDN. Is this coincidence? Or perfection.

The news comes from my favorite wedding blog, greenweddingshoes.com. I read this blog daily. It’s a bit of sweet relief and inspiration for this diy-er.  And today she gave a sneak preview of the online store which launches Monday (yep, that’s Valentine’s Day…awwww!).

And although I have my dresses all set, just take a look at the dresses on the blog and try to deny the perfection. That’s right purple and green! Scroll a little further, and there you have it…a pair of green wedding shoes. Although I wouldn’t call them perfect, they’re slingbacks, which can sometimes be a hassle.

Happy Shoe Year!

On Tuesday, I trudged home. It was another gloomy, yucky, January day. I had squandered away my time. I was tired. And my to-do list lingered ahead of me. I have those days a lot in January. And Tuesday was a doozey. I climbed up the stairs….weary and heavy laden. And then, there, sitting like Christmas morning on my doorstep were three beautiful Zappos boxes.

One for me. One for Kate. And one for Freed.

I waited impatiently for Kate to come home. I couldn’t have shoe Christmas alone. We ripped into our boxes. And there they were. Beautiful. Colorful. Strong and high. They filled the room with that wonderful new shoe smell.

The next morning. Freed and I had shoe Christmas through the wonder of Skype.

And I am happy.

I might be wearing mine right now.  I absolutely love them. I am wearing them right now.

Sorry. The shoes have a very strict photography contract at this time.

Naturally Delicious

Rob and I met in March of 2009, enjoyed each other’s company…but at the end of the day a long distance relationship didn’t sound appealing. We kept in touch—but it was nothing special. In fact, Rob dated someone else. In August of 2009, I was in New York entertaining Caleb while he was still unemployed. While I was in town, Rob asked me to lunch. Although I was interested in someone else back home, I was bound and determined channel my best inner Carrie Bradshaw. I wanted to prove to him that I was a catch and he was a fool to let me go! I was charming and mysterious. And it must have worked cause here we are.

We met up for lunch at that same diner, Naturally Delicious, the other day. It’s a nice little diner close to Rob’s work. It promotes health food (as good as it gets for a diner, I guess). I recommend the spinach burger.  (Don’t worry, we don’t usually sit on the same side of the booth. We only did for the picture.)

Later in the day, I ventured to SoHo. Due to all the snow, I needed to buy new boots. I needed boots that could keep my feet dry and warm.

I really hate SoHo during tourist season.

Dear New York,

I’m sorry for all the times I was a tourist and walked slow on your narrow sidewalks.



I found some nice boots at EMS (Eastern Mountain Supply). Rob had a coupon. That was a nice bonus. Although, I’m very disappointed I can’t wear my cute brown boots to properly accessorize my outfits.

Anyway, it placed me right next to a bakery I read about in Real Simple a number of months ago. They serve only cupcakes and they ship around the country. Even Colorado.