Wedding Stuff: Our Hunt for Vintage, Mismatched China

Sorry if it’s been quiet here lately, between my full time job, wedding/honeymoon planning and pooch fostering, I haven’t had much time to blog these days. I know wedding planning isn’t the most thrilling subject to most, but I intend on sharing little details anyway. Pete and I are on the hunt for vintage, gold-rimmed china for our mismatched dinnerware. Here’s a glimpse of our collection so far, we’re only about 30% complete. I really enjoy going out when we have free time to search for items to add to the table.

Right now we’re mostly focusing on getting large dinner plates, small plates, bowls and saucers. We’ll also have to get tumblers (for yummy alcoholic drinks) and drinking glasses (for water), in addition to teacups/coffee mugs.

We still haven’t gotten any napkins, but at least we won’t be using tablecloths on the wood tables, so that makes things a bit easier. It will be a few more months before we can cross this item off our to-do list, but I think it will look lovely once it comes together. We’re thankful we’re having such an intimate wedding, because I can’t imagine trying to pull this together with more than 20 guests.

We’ll also be having homemade jams of different flavors at each place setting (strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry variations). We did a test run with a ginger peach recipe, but we were less than pleased, so we’re hoping a mixture of berry recipes will be a hit.

We just rented our yellow and white striped canopy tent to dine under, so I’m excited for our yard to become an explosion of color this September. Hopefully we can bring our lawn back to life so there’s some green stuff beneath our feet. I’m looking forward to hanging string lights, paper lanterns, giant balloons, and streamers galore. Hopefully our neighbors won’t think a piñata threw up in our backyard. Cross your fingers it won’t rain…eep!

Sneak Peek: Our Intimate Backyard Wedding Inspiration

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve rambled about our wedding vendors, so I wanted to share some of the inspiration we’ve been gathering along the way, mostly thanks to Pinterest. We’re planning on having two long, wooden tables in our backyard, picnic-style, with benches for our guests. It’s been quite a challenge trying to nail down a vendor for renting a few rustic tables, but I think we’ve finally found a reasonable option thanks to Craigslist. We snagged some yellow, grey, and gold streamers which we plan on slinging over bulb string lights to give the yard a pretty glow (and hopefully not catch our house on fire).

We had been debating whether or not we should make an arbor, but I think we’ll be dying and tying ombre-style pieces of yellow fabric to the dogwood tree, along with hanging mason jar vases with flowers and candles. I really love these tissue paper-covered lanterns and we already have oversized yellow balloons from our barbecue that never happened, so those should look pretty (assuming we don’t get another Hurricane Irene).
I’ll be wearing the Orla Kiely dress below from BHLDN, which I managed to score half off with a little luck. The vintage heart earrings were a gift from Pete, as was the yellow felt headband from Giant Dwarf. I still have to figure out what type of shoes to wear, but I’m leaning toward something glittery like this pair from Steve Madden (Pete is a flats lover, so I have no complaints on that end!). For our flowers, we plan on blending succulents, billy balls and other wispy accents to bring our yellow and grey theme together.
We still have plenty of grey and white striped paper straws leftover from our barbecue, so those will also be put to good use. We just bottled our first official homebrew and plan on making a Berliner Weisse for our guests who are brave enough to taste our homemade hoppy goodness. We’re also going to explore canning this weekend, so we’ll attempt to make Ginger Peach Jam (get it? ginger? red-headed hubby to be?), so hopefully it will make the cut for some tasty favors. For our place settings, we’ll be combining mismatched vintage china, so I’m looking forward to having an excuse to go thrifting together—we started this weekend and had great success (I was even recognized by a cool gal who reads my blog!).
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m most looking to the yummy food (apart from getting to be Pete’s super lucky future Mrs., of course). Four words: Red velvet whoopie pies. Just sayin’. I’m looking forward to the entrees and stuff too, but for the most part, I just want to snarfle sorbet and lemonade while holding hands with the ginger.
My apologies if all of the wedding talk is completely boring, I just like sharing our ideas like a big goober.

*For those of you who are viewing this post on your mobile device, you can thank Pete for his fancy web developing skills since he just launched the responsive version of my site this weekend. I am very lucky to be able to reap the benefits of such a tech-savvy fiance, so thanks to Pete for the new version update.

We Heart: Our Wedding Vendors

I haven’t really written at all about our wedding plans, so I figured I should share some of our vendors with you guys now that things seem to be coming together smoothly. We’ve decided on an incredibly intimate ceremony and reception in our own backyard this September with our parents and siblings & their significant others (and Betty White). Having our immediate family gathered together at a long farm table, enjoying a locally-grown, delicious meal together is our vision of what our reception will be like. We’re not doing things traditionally by any means, so we’re looking forward to coming up with ways to personalize the wedding to make it our own.

Photo courtesy of Ruffled

Our fantabulous vendors will be attending tomorrow’s Lovesick Expo at World Cafe Live, an earth-friendly, guy-friendly, budget-friendly wedding event. If you’re engaged (or even if you’re not), consider swinging by between 11am-3pm to chat with some amazingly talented people (tickets are only $6.50 online).

First up is the first vendor we booked, Morrissey Photo, a husband and wife team who couldn’t be any cuter. We really love their artistic style and can’t wait to have them capture the day. They’re very laid back and totally up for our ideas, so we are smitten.

Photos courtesy of Morrissey Photo

For our caterer, we wanted to have as much locally grown, fresh food as possible, which is why we went with Joshua’s Catering, based right around the corner in Jenkintown. We were blown away by how much the owner, David, was on the same page as us from the very beginning. Pete had someone to ramble with about red worms and composting and I had someone to gush with about local cheeses and wanting to raise chickens. We’ve been throwing some menu ideas back and forth, and we can’t wait for our tasting.

Photos courtesy of Joshua’s Events

Our florist, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, is a petite, sustainably managed, urban flower farm and floral design studio with locally grown flowers. We really wanted stunning, quirky flowers—from my bridal bouquet to his boutonniere—so we’ll be working with the owner, Jennie Love, to create some sweet floral accents.

Photos courtesy of Love ‘n Fresh Flowers

It was important to us to have a non-denominational officiant, which is why we were drawn to Journeys of the Heart since they’ll craft the ceremony based on our own style and personality. They work with couples to personalize the ceremony by sharing their individual story creatively and with a good sense of humor.

Photos courtesy of Journeys of the Heart

We selected Naila, one of their officiants, because we connected with her bio instantly (anyone who references “The Princess Bride” and uses the word “goober” in their officiant writeup is a-ok in my book).

Our only non-Lovesick vendor (but still equally as awesome) is Luke Cleary, our ceremony and cocktail musician. When we first started discussing wedding plans, we talked about how nice it would be to have a guitarist playing classic and contemporary songs in our own backyard. Luckily Luke is well versed in old-school numbers, but also knows a lot of our favorites like David Bowie—he even taught a group of students an entire Bowie concert at the School of Rock.

It’s been nice being able to plan everything together with Pete—I’m thrilled he is actually interested in things like boutonnieres and ceremony decor (gasp). He’s even gone a bit crazy on Pinterest lately, which is my favorite way to collect wedding inspiration. I’ll be sure to share some of our DIY ideas soon, we’re really excited to incorporate things like canning (ginger peach jam favors, yes please!) and home brewing. Fun times! Anyway, that’s our geeky wedding news, I’ll be back to posting photos of Betty White in no time, pinky swear.

Behind the Curtain: A Peek at Pete’s Photobooth Proposal

It seems to be true that good things come in threes and yesterday was proof of that little theory. When Pete came home from work, I spent a good twenty minutes rambling about how giddy I was since: 1.) I managed to land a job interview with an amazing company and 2.) I found our foster dog, Charsi a new home with a loving family. I asked him about his day and we exchanged our usual stories about each other’s latest happenings. He asked what I wanted for dinner and I told him we could make pasta since we are in need of groceries and it’s one of the only edible things in the house right now. Apparently since he made dinner last night (which consisted of scooping tuna salad I had made onto bread), it was my turn to do the cooking since we switch cooking and cleaning every other night. I cluelessly didn’t realize at the time that he was trying to lead me into the kitchen.

So, to the kitchen I went, where I asked what type of pasta he wanted. I rattled off our options and asked boring inquisitive questions like “what’s the difference between linguine and fettuccine?” When I went to grab a pot from our cabinets, just about our entire cookware set came toppling over. Typical Shannon spazzery was taking place. I started boiling a pot of water and filled our Brita water pitcher, which I put in the fridge without realizing this was waiting for me:

To give you a little backstory, during one of our first outings as a couple, we went to a restaurant and had photobooth pictures taken. Since then, we always take photos together whenever we see an old-fashioned booth and we hang the pictures on our fridge (below). Without me realizing it, he swapped the five strips of our photos with the pictures of him spelling out “Will you marry me?” across the rows.

I had no idea the photo strips were on the fridge until he said “WILL YOU PLEASE LOOK AT THE FRIDGE!” The poor ginger was nervously waiting to ask me to marry him for a good half hour and I was totally concentrated on boiling water and rambling about linguine and had no idea he had alterior motives. Once I looked at the fridge I flailed and turned around excitedly to find him on one knee. He said, “Well, will you!?” and I said “You have to ask in person to make it all official-like!” so he asked (he’ll kill me for sharing this, but I believe his words were, “Will you marry me, my poopins?”), to which I responded with a flail-filled yes and hugged him and danced in place for a good two minutes before he told me we had reservations at my favorite sushi spot. My hands were trembling and the only thing I could think to say was, “Does this mean I don’t have to make pasta!?”

We went ring shopping together in late August and chose a beautiful art deco/victorian style vintage ring from the 1915-1920s era. I had told Pete how much I loved diamonds with a subtle pop of color, so we picked out a lovely yellow diamond with the help of the fabulous jewelry designer behind the Philadelphia jewelry shop, Halloween.

I’m not very skilled in the department of taking photos of my own hand, so I photographed the ring on linens and piles of leaves around our house since I’m a photo geek (I realize rings never hang out on bushes, but bear with me anyway).

Pete had the wooden letters he held in the photobooth custom made by an Etsy shop called RivalryTime, which is why I was left in suspense, since I knew he had the ring for a few months. He even arranged to take the photos at El Vez, the restaurant where we had our first photo booth photos together. He told me he only had the exact change for five strips because he didn’t realize they were $3/piece, so he was really nervous that he was going to mess up the order of the letters. Thus him making a “oh my god, I hope I got this right” face in the last photo with him and the ring box. He said he wanted to take it again so he was smiling, but I like it better this way because he’s rarely nervous so it’s nice to have it documented for life!

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the proposal because it really suited our personalities and our backstory, plus now I have photos to look at whenever I want to relive the moment, and you all know how much I love me some photos.

Speaking of photos, I went a little crazy snapping so many ring shots, but I wanted to share them with family and friends who aren’t able to see it in person just yet.

I really love the vintage setting and would definitely recommend Halloween if you want to find rare antique pieces with a lot of character that they are willing to customize in any way you’d like.

The mister sure did a good job. I feel like the luckiest girl alive and am shocked that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend (no offense, Betty White). He gets me and I get him. When he’s being quiet, I am full of pasta rambles. When I’m being a control freak, he helps me enjoy spontaneity. We might be the opposite in a lot of ways, but we balance each other out and at the end of the day, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I am so thrilled (and not just because there are sushi leftovers in the fridge) and look forward to documenting our offbeat journey along the way.

Thanks again to the ginger for the best night ever (I promise I’ll actually make dinner tonight).

As a side note, my night came full circle when I saw I had a super sweet voicemail from our foster dog’s new parents, which was just another sign of how awesome they are!

I’ll ask Pete to take a photo of me being like “look at mah purty ring” while wearing my embarrassing Charlie Sheen shirt tonight per your request! Did anyone else ramble away cluelessly while your significant other was trying to propose? I love proposal stories, so feel free to comment with yours below!

Weekend Happenings!

Sorry in advance for my posts this week, I can tell already it will be a miss-mosh of randomness since I have a gazillion deadlines to tackle and don’t have much time to dedicate to my own blog.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of second shooting for the lovely Maria Mack, who I joined at Citizens Bank Park to photograph a stunning, ballpark wedding. Thank goodness the weather behaved itself and we had nothing but sunny skies. I thought it was cute how the guests were able to sit in the stands while the ceremony was held on the field. The reception took place at the Diamond Club and the Phillie Phanatic even came to bust out some fabulous dance moves. I think my favorite shot from the night was when the Phanatic got together with three pregnant women and posed while sticking his pregnant-esque belly out. I also toured around the players’ locker room with the groom, which was an absolute blast. I may or may not have flailed like an idiot when I saw Cliff Lee’s locker. We were able to sneak a peek at all of their grooming essentials, which was highly entertaining. I may or may not have found out from a little bird that the boys have their fair share of brightly-colored loofahs in the showers.

In other news, a large portion of my week is going to be dedicated to tackling this life-sized painting of a German couple and a drunk pig sporting Lederhosen. Pete’s brother is co-hosting an Oktoberfest bash this weekend, so once the painting is complete, he’s going to cut out face holes for a fun photo-op. I’m hoping to finish this up mid-day on Wednesday, so I’ll be sure to post another shot once it’s finished! It looks a bit wacky now, but I like showing progress shots of big projects, which you may or may not have figured out by now.

What were you up to this weekend?

Ham it up: Engagement Photography Tips

Whether you’re a photographer or a recently engaged couple, engagement photos can be quite a fun adventure. For couples, it can seem a bit daunting when it comes to selecting a location, outfit and potentially a few props.

For this post, I’ll be offering my advice as a wedding photographer to both photographers and couples for engagement photography sessions. These photos are from my most recent engagement shoot at Terrain with an amazing couple whose wedding I will be photographing this weekend. I couldn’t have lucked out with a more easy-going couple—they were willing to do all of the poses and ideas I brought up and they looked stunning while doing so!

For the photographers: Always arrive early. Even if you’ve already visited your location, be sure to get there before the couple to scout out beautiful backdrops. You’ll want to be able to lead the couple around with confidence, which is why being prepared is so important. It also doesn’t hurt to greet the couple as they arrive, since they will most likely be nervous and looking for a familiar face.

For the fashionable or not so fashionable couples: Dress like yourselves. I strongly recommend that my couples don’t wear black or light pants. Men tend to look best in dark-colored pants or jeans, but the gals can pull off a lot more looks. It doesn’t hurt to bring several options along, the couple can always get the photographer’s input on a certain outfit. The more the merrier!

For the self-conscious, shy couple: Don’t worry about posing. Try to ignore your gut reaction of smiling into the camera, and just enjoy simple moments with your significant other. It’s always nice to get a few formal photos for the fam, but for the most part, these photos should capture your relationship together and appear effortless.

For the gadget-friendly couples: Be sure to leave your cell phones, pagers, walkie talkies, lightsabers and all other bulky objects in the car (or I can always carry them for you). Nothing is worse than trying to Photoshop awkward cell phone bulges out of jean pockets after the fact. For the ladies, you’ll end up feeling a lot more comfortable without having to haul your purse around, so feel free to either leave it in your car or have your photographer carry it around so it doesn’t end up being something you constantly have to toss aside.

For the city-dwelling couples: Do things in public as if no one else is there. Despite the fact that there might be nearby shoppers or tourists, act as if you two are the only people in the world and everyone else is in their underwear (except for me, please).

For the fellow goofballs: You are my people. Don’t worry about looking “cool.” Like Lester Bangs said in Almost Famous, “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.” Don’t be afraid to be silly…the more ridiculous you are, the more personal your photos will be. My favorite engagement photos are almost always the unposed, “blooper” images, which just happen out of moments of self-conscious giggle fits.

For the photographers who can’t seem to tell a joke: Don’t worry, we’ve all been there (at least I’m telling myself that). Sometimes I’ll say something random and ridiculous, in hopes of making the couple crack a genuine smile, but it just ends up in an awkward moment of blank stares and crickets chirping. As a photographer, it’s important to remember you aren’t Richard Pryor and you don’t always have to be funny to make the couple laugh and share a smiling moment. I’ve found that all it takes is simply asking the couple to stare at the camera in a serious, GQ manner, and they will be bursting into a fit of laughter in no time.

For the not-so-natural couples: Don’t feel like you have to wait for the photographer’s directions at all times. For the most part, the photographer will direct your pose in a specific location, but you will have to fill in the gaps. Don’t be afraid to just enjoy these quiet moments with your significant other. Your movements should feel natural and not like you are reenacting those posed Glamour Shots your mom still has on her mantle.

For the couples who need an outfit change/smoke/potty break: Sometimes there are lulls during an engagement shoot when the couple will be changing their outfits or freshening up. Take this time to politely ask the bride-to-be if she would mind you photographing the engagement ring while they are away. Pinky swear not to steal it and/or drop it down a drain and she’ll give it to you in no time. It’s always nice to have several minutes to photograph the ring and place it in different artistic settings, so this is the perfect time to do so without feeling rushed.

For the indecisive photographer/couple: Can’t come up with a shoot location? Trying to figure out if an abandoned field or busy storefront would best suit your personality as a couple? Sometimes the most convincing photos are taken by following the couple around on a real date. Strolling through storefronts and admiring organic pickles or roaming through a record store together is just as romantic as being surrounded by nature. For couples who prefer to shoot in Ansel Adams-like landscapes, consider bringing props from home which sum up your interests and hobbies. A rustic quilt from your Grandmother, some of your favorite books or a picnic basket with handmade snacks can really warm up the atmosphere.

For the chatty Cathy couples: If your photographer gives you the a-ok to ramble to each other, make sure you leave moments of brief silence where they can capture you at your best. This way there’s no blinking or half-opened mouths. It’s a beautiful blend of talking about puppy dogs and rainbows, but leaving a few seconds of smiley stillness.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you, whether you’re engaged, a wedding photographer or as bad as I am about being in front of the camera!