Remember that time we got married?

Our monthiversary has come and gone, I’ve scratched several items off my “30 before 30 list” (including vacationing in Italy), and yet, I’ve still remained a slacker in the realm of blogging.

I know I blogged a lot about wedding planning leading up to September 1st, but I never thought it would turn out so lovely. Despite Pete waking up with strep throat and me getting over a sinus infection, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day for us and our relationship. Our family pulled together to help us transform our backyard, captured beautifully by our photographers — Morrissey Photo.

I look forward to sharing more photos and reviewing our vendors in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I’ll just share some of my favorite moments.

{DIY} Homebrew Attempt #3

wedding wheat

Our third homebrew (thus the “003”), a Kobayashi Wheat with Sorachi Ace, has been labeled and sealed as one of our wedding favors.

wedding wheat

Pete designed the labels, which we printed on Kraft sheets from Paper Source (cue angels singing — that place is amazing).

wedding wheat

We decided to incorporate one of our wedding colors by dripping yellow wax down the bottles, Maker’s Mark-style.

wedding wheat

With a makeshift double-boiler (an aluminum can inside of a pot), we melted batches of wax beads.

wedding wheat

Emma Stone stared at us from the newspaper as we took turns dipping the bottles in the wax (c’mon girl, no one believes you wear Colorburst).

wedding wheat

We cracked open our first one last night and it tasted like beer to me (in that I didn’t like it), so I deem it a success. We’ll probably keep a few extras for upcoming anniversaries…hopefully by then we’ll have a few more homebrews under our belts.

{A Laid Back, Labor Day Menu}

Apart from the whole committing-to-a-lifetime-with-your-soul-mate thing, one of the best parts of getting married is, in fact, the food. We’re really lucky to have found our neighbors at Joshua’s Catering, a green company that is known for their local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. We’ll be adding some flavors of our own by making our own pumpkin whoopie pies, which we tested out last week and Pete’s family approved. We’re also going to be brewing a summer beer (TBD) and canning homemade berry jams for our family as favors.

I figured now would be an appropriate time to share our full menu. It’s an alternative twist on a Labor Day picnic, with locally farmed, grass-fed, organic meats. We’re not having a traditional wedding cake, instead we wanted to have a trio of desserts. Each guest will be served a watermelon gazpacho, whoopie pie, and last but not least, banana crème brûlée—a slight nod to my brother, who is a fan of banana-flavored desserts and was kind enough to approve of us getting married on his birthday.

Starters

  • Grass-fed beef  sliders with caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese
  • Endive and goat cheese with dried cranberries and reduced balsamic vinegar
  • Gazpacho shooter with blackened gulf shrimp


{Intermezzo of peach sorbet}

Salad

  • Arugula and goat cheese with roasted beets, hearts of palm, and a reduced red wine vinaigrette

Dinner

  • Blackened shrimp taco with black bean and corn salsa, served with summer slaw
    OR
  • Chipotle barbecued chicken with truffle mac n’ cheese and grilled asparagus
  • With baskets of gaufrette potato chips to share


Dessert

  • Banana crème brûlée
  • Watermelon gazpacho
  • Homemade pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling

We were surprised by how difficult it was to find a sustainable caterer that focused on local efforts. That being said, we also had a tasting at Birchtree Catering, where the chef/owner Rasa couldn’t have been any sweeter, but overall Joshua’s Catering was a better fit (plus the owner and chef are super charming and flexible).

For you fellow wedding attendees out there, do you tend to take notice when caterers use locally-sourced ingredients, or not so much?

{A Honeymoon in Italy} Gelato and Pesto, Here We Come

{Photos courtesy Hotel Artemide}

Our honeymoon has officially been booked and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ll be departing the day after our wedding to head to Rome, an eight and a half hour journey from Philadelphia. For the first leg of our trip, we’ll be staying at Hotel Artemide in Rome for two nights (the photo above is an example of the room we’ll be staying in). We’re total TripAdvisor stalkers, so the 4 1/2 star rating (out of 1,822 reviews) definitely made it a stand-out hotel with a convenient location.

For those of you who have been to Rome before, what lesser known sites should we scout out? I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to a tourist-y night walk to the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum (preferably while eating loads of gelato).

{Photos courtesy Grand Tour in Florence}

After we explore Rome for a couple of days, we’ll take the train an hour and a half to the Grand Tour in Florence, a five-star B&B I’ve been smitten with for years. The original structure was an 18th century garden theatre, which the owners brought back to light during its restoration and converted into nine suites. All of the doors open onto a courtyard garden with a fountain, which sounds all sorts of dreamy. I fully expect for there to be cartoon birds hanging our clean laundry on a clothesline when we wake up in the morning, that’s how good it sounds.

The Actor Suite, which we’re staying in (above), has a large bathroom with a private sauna…yes please. The shower has handmade majolicas (decorative earthenware tiles), that are so, so lovely. I love the old marble sink that is featured in the bedroom, along with the headboard that has some really pretty details.

{Photos courtesy Rificolona-Paper Lantern Festival}

Florence is a great central location for day trips, so we’ll be spending 4 nights in Florence, with excursions to Venice (Peggy Guggenheim Collection!) and Siena. I’m really excited about the Rificolona-Paper Lantern Festival, an evening parade through the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, with children carrying paper lanterns lit with candles, while the older kids try to set the lanterns ablaze with pea shooters. It’s all in good family fun since it is tied around tradition, plus there’s live music and carnival food, so it shouldn’t be too crazy. Supposedly most of the lanterns end up burning by the end of the night, so it should be interesting to see.

{Photos courtesy La Poesia}

After exhausting ourselves in and around Florence, we’ll be heading to Cinque Terre. I’ve been wanting to go to Cinque Terre forever, but then this happened last year, and it made my heart sink. Alas, the cliffside villages are rebuilding and need the tourists now more than ever, so we will be spending four nights in Monterosso Al Mare, one of two villages extensively damaged in last fall’s flood. Pete really wanted to stay near the beach, so that’s how we landed on Monterosso, however we’ll also be hiking and traveling to the other villages—Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

We’re staying at La Poesia, a charming B&B not far from the train station, with homemade breakfasts served on the outdoor terrace, complete with lemon trees and a breathtaking view of the beach.

{Photos courtesy here, here, and here}

I’m most excited about hiking around Cinque Terre, with a day trip to the port town of Portofino and loads of relaxing. Pete seems to think he can convince me to jump off of a 30-40 foot cliff into the Mediterranean Sea, but I have a feeling I’ll have to jump from the little kiddie spot that is only a few feet above the water.

Have you guys ever been to Italy? What spots should we be sure to add to our agenda (restaurants, museums, anything)?

Wedding Stuff: Tree Decor & Vintage Rings

Since we’re planning a backyard wedding, we have been trying to come up with thrifty ways to dress up the dogwood tree we’ll be getting hitched under. I really wanted to take strips of fabric, cut them at different lengths, and dye them, ombre-style (Pete: “What’s an ombre?”). Our colors are technically yellow and grey, so I decided to go with golden yellow RIT dye. I loosely followed the tutorial by Green Wedding Shoes on how to make an ombre fabric backdrop.

I need to stop pretending like DIY projects will go as smoothly as they look on wedding blogs. I have discovered that I am not especially crafty. I might be able to take lovely photos and draw illustrations, but when it comes to cutting fabric or handling a hot glue gun, I. Am. A. Mess. For this project, I measured out the different amounts of fabric dye in the pans, with the hope that the strips of fabric would have different monochromatic tones. Unfortunately, when I went to get the pot of boiling water from the kitchen, a gust of wind swept the pans upside down, sending the dye all over the place. Sigh. Pete came to the rescue and salvaged the dye while putting rocks into the pans to weigh them down, but we had trouble getting the dye to stick to the muslin fabric since it was often folded over and not fully dyeing.

When I was cleaning up and feeling fairly defeated, I glanced down at the newspaper our bucket was sitting on and saw an entire front page written by our officiant, Naila, complete with photos of her and her boyfriend. It was just what I needed to remind myself that all of these DIY projects might not go perfectly, but at the end of the day, Naila will marrying Pete and I, which is kind of the best thing ever as far as I’m concerned (although Turkey Hill’s Choco Mint Chip is a fierce competitor for runner-up).

The fabric might all be the same color, but I still think it will look pretty (when it’s less wrinkly and thread-filled). Here’s an idea of the look we were going for (below), with pieces hanging at different lengths above us during the ceremony.

In other wedding news, Pete and I got our wedding bands at Halloween in Philly. I went with a delicate, art deco/victorian ring to match the 1915-1920s era engagement ring.

Pete went with a really simple, thin gold band that looks a bit like his father’s, which I think is nice. He has never worn jewelry before, so he just wanted to go with something as comfortable as possible.

Our wedding is five and a half months away, so we still have some time to play around with more projects. We’ve mostly been focusing our attention on fixing up the yard…I’ll be sure to share more about that soon!

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.