Monthly Archives: April 2010

How to Keep Your Sparkler Sparkly

Materials Needed:

009 * jewelry cleaner—I got mine at a bridal show, but I’m pretty sure your jeweler should have given you at least a small bottle when your fiancé purchased your ring (at least, mine did!)
* electric toothbrush—note of common sense:  make sure you use a clean brush head (duh).  I keep a separate electric toothbrush just for this purpose.
* dish soap
* small dish for soaking
* your ring!
* and a soft cloth (not shown)

Step 1:  Pour a little jewelry cleaner into your soaking dish.


Step 2:  Let your ring soak for five minutes…no more, no less.  Five minutes, people—go file your nails or something while you wait!

004  For some reason, I always have the Jeopardy Think Music running through my head when I do this step!  Go ahead and play it, you know you want to:

Step 3:  Rinse.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE SINK STOPPED IN CASE YOU DROP YOUR RING.  We don’t want any horror stories of sparkly diamonds going down the drain!


Step 4:  Place a little dish soap in the palm of your hand.


Step 5:  Using your electric toothbrush and said dish soap, shine that ring right up.


Step 6:  Rinse again, and dry with a soft cloth.

Step 7:  Admire how much your diamonds look like new again!


I usually do this routine once a week, and definitely before any special events (dinners out, etc.).

What are your tips for keeping your ring shiny and new?


Filed under How-To, Jewelry

Showering Jill with Love

First, my apologies on the lack of posting thus far this week.  Normally, I like to write and schedule my posts on my lunch hour, but this week I have barely taken a lunch hour due to some stressful situations at work.  Things have slowed down a bit now, thankfully!! 

This weekend, Dr. Groomy and I headed to Chicago to visit some friends of ours who are also getting married this year.  The reason for our trip was two-fold, however—Jill, one half of the couple we went to visit, was having her bridal shower!  It was really fun to attend and so I thought I would share some pics (with her permission, of course!).

The shower was held at Marcello’s Father & Son, in Lincoln Park, and was hosted by the groom’s sisters, mother, and aunt.  It was a great location—we were in a little sunroom that was perfectly appointed for a party like this, with grapevines and white Christmas lights tastefully decorating the room.  The set-up was gorgeous as well, with white tablecloths and napkins, and beautiful centerpieces that were hand-made by the groom’s sister!


We started the shower with some mingling and a glass of wine, and then sat down to lunch.

006  Place setting.  Our favor was candied nuts in a little bag, with tag that had our names on it to act as a placecard.

Lunch was an absolutely delicious family-style Italian meal. 

012  Minestrone soup to start…

Salad and asparagus as sides…

014  And a chicken dish as the main course.

Everything was delicious…and then, there was cake!

007  Yum!

After we had cake and coffee, it was time for gifts.


Jill got some really cool items, and I got some great ideas for our own registry!  After that, the shower wrapped up while we all sat around and visited some more.  All in all, it was a very fun time.  Here I am with the bride:

010  Jill on the left, me on the right (duh).

Congratulations, Jill and Noah!  Dr. Groomy and I are so excited to celebrate with you at your wedding in June. 

Have you had the pleasure of attending any bridal showers lately?


Filed under Decor, Food & Drink, Just For Fun, Shower

Share Some Advice, Hey?

If that title doesn’t sound like  a Wisconsin accent, I don’t know what does!  Haha!

First off, great feedback on my last post regarding guest list/save-the-date issues.  It’s nice to know we’re not alone in dealing with this type of thing.  It seems everyone has drama at some point or another, so it’s great to be able to discuss it openly!  Today, though, let’s discuss something a little bit more fun.

I am not sure where I read about this next idea, but the minute I read it, I flagged it as something I wanted to do at our rehearsal dinner:

“My MOH brought all the accoutrements for what was a brilliant idea: she had everyone take a piece of paper, a pen, and an envelope, and write a major life milestone on the envelope (i.e. the day you get back from your honeymoon or when you have your first big fight or the day your first child is born) and then write us a message for when that time came. It was a really sweet idea and I was so touched that she orchestrated the whole thing. We’ve already opened a few and they have been so thoughtful and have contained such fabulous advice.”

What better place than a gathering of our close family and friends to ask for advice and messages on our major life milestones?!  I immediately sent this idea to my maid of honor and one of my bridesmaids with the message, “Remember this, I want to do it at our rehearsal dinner!  One of you remind me!” 

My MOH, otherwise known as my fabulous sister, Ali, did remind me of this this morning, since I have been working so diligently on the details for our rehearsal dinner.  I’m thinking I’ll get envelopes and card stock to match our rehearsal dinner invitation suite, and provide everyone with a pen and piece of cardstock that has printed paper mounted on it.  Picture this:

I’ll print the major life events on a cute label that will be stuck on the envelope:

Envelope Label 

And everyone will write on paper (mounted on the colored cardstock) that looks like this: 


Neat idea, right?  I am so excited for this!  I just need to finish up the invitation suite and I can purchase the supplies for this project and get that out of the way, too—and I need to come up with a long list of major life events!  Ideas, anyone?  :)

Are you incorporating a way to receive advice from family and friends into your wedding?


Filed under Rehearsal

The Downside of STDs

Or, “How Sending Save-The-Dates Can Create Major Guest List Drama.”

Save-The-Dates are very popular in wedding culture.  One quick Google search for “Save The Dates” yields 21,800,000 hits.  I’m not quite sure when they became popular, but it’s clear from the millions of ideas and etiquette surrounding them, they are one wedding trend that is here to stay.

Save-The-Dates are great because they allow your out-of-town and extremely busy guests to plan ahead to attend your wedding.  They’re almost certainly not necessary, but they are definitely a fun project to include in your wedding plans if you can. 

We sent our Save-The-Dates around the 7 month mark.  We didn’t send them to everyone on our eventual final guest list, mostly because some of the guests we weren’t sure we would end up inviting.  The cardinal rule of thumb with STDs is that anyone who gets one should receive a formal invite as well.  We kept that in mind, and if we weren’t sure yet about inviting a particular guest, we didn’t send one. 

That being said, most of our guests and family members did receive them.  Imagine my shock and surprise then, when I learned that a certain family member* who I am not very close to had called my father to question why her adult children were not invited to the wedding.  Um, last I checked, we hadn’t sent invites yet…so how do you know they’re not invited?

Said family member assumed that because her children had not received a Save-The-Date, they were not going to be invited.  Now, I am not here to argue the semantics…or even to debate the fact if they are going to be invited or not.  I am simply here to share my experience and thoughts on this, as it has turned into a sticky family situation.  With that, here is an open letter to wedding guests:

Dear Guests,

It is not appropriate to question a bride and groom—or their parents—regarding the guest list.  This is never appropriate.  EVER.  Regardless of whether so and so got a Save-The-Date or an invitation or not.  Although it is a gathering of many family members and friends in one place, a wedding is NOT a family reunion.  It is  a celebration of the couple, and their love and commitment to each other.  Yes, there is a ceremony, and it is the most important part of the day.  However, when all is said and done, a wedding, in essence, is a party, and the hosts will invite who they see fit.  If that means they will not be inviting children, so be it. If that means they will not be inviting distant cousins, so be it.  Would you call your best friend to complain that your little children are not invited to her adult cocktail and dinner party?  No.  Let me repeat:  THIS IS A PARTY, not a family reunion.  So, no—everyone does NOT get to be invited.  And I am—truly, I am!—sorry if you, as a guest, have your feelings hurt, because someone close to you who you feel should be invited, is not.  If you feel it’s too egregious an error, then by all means, please don’t attend the wedding or party you were invited to.  But it is NEVER, EVER OK TO ASSUME that someone is not invited based on a Save-The-Date.  Why?  Because assuming makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”  And assuming creates so much more drama than is ever necessary for a wedding.  This is a happy time in the bride and groom’s life, and it is not a time for you to be making them feel bad about who they choose to—and can afford to—invite.  But the most important reason not to assume?  Because a Save-The-Date is not an invitation.  It is an indication of invitation.  That doesn’t mean other people aren’t going to be invited.  Either way, it is not your place to question the bride and groom.  Certainly, there are merits to your arguments, I’m sure.  And certainly, there are instances when a bride and groom may, in fact, have made a mistake in not inviting someone.  But these instances are rare, and they are not for you to question.  Please, please, please…don’t be that guest who causes the bride sleepless nights because she is in a fit about the family dynamics surrounding who is invited and who is not.  Be a bigger person than that, and understand that there are many factors that go into planning a wedding and deciding who should attend.  If you are lucky enough that the bride and groom want you there, be gracious and kind and supportive.  Because that’s why YOU’RE invited—to bear witness to the commitment they will make to each other, not judge them for who they didn’t invite.

Little Miss Wedding Planner

Hmm, maybe I need a copy of this book!

So, my dear friends, if you are experiencing or have experienced guest list drama because you’ve sent Save-The-Dates, please know that you’re not alone.  I’m told that this is a rite of passage for most brides, and that we all deal with this at one point or another.  So I am hear to tell you to hang in there.  This too shall pass.  And your wedding will still be wonderful and you will still be surrounded by those who love you and want to support your relationship. 

Have you had guest list or family drama?  Share your story in the comments!

*Said Family Member doesn’t actually know about the existence of this blog, so this entry falls on deaf ears, anyway.


Filed under Relationships, Stationery, Worries

Ring Conundrum: Epilogue

She said yes!


(See the first part of the story here and here).


Filed under Jewelry, Just For Fun, Relationships

Rehearsal Dinner: Fiesta!

If you’re here for a Fitness Friday post, I am sorry to disappoint!  Unfortunately, the person who does my fit evals no longer works at my gym—something I just found out last night.  So, I have to make an appointment with a new guy to do an eval and I won’t be able to get in until next week.  In the meantime, however,  I wanted to talk a little more about our rehearsal dinner.

As a reminder, my “goal” for wedding planning is to have absolutely nothing to do during wedding week, ala Miss Star on Weddingbee.  As such, I have been trying to tackle everything and anything I can ahead of time, to continue to stay ahead of the game.  Since we booked our rehearsal dinner last week, I decided why not go ahead and plan the food, decor, and invitations right away, so that it’s all out of the way and done…so this week, I’ve been doing just that!

When we were exploring different options for our dinner, one idea we tossed around was to hold the dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  Dr. Groomy is WELL KNOWN among our friends and family for his love of insanely spicy foods (I swear, he has no taste buds), so Mexican is one of his favorite meals to eat out.  We ended up nixing the idea, as we were afraid that authentic Mexican would not bode well for some of our guests.  When we booked our dinner at Flannery’s, though, we were delighted to see that they had an option for a taco bar!  Perfect…everybody loves tacos, and guests can customize them how they like.  Once we decided that, it was very easy to pick out a “theme” for the dinner:  we’re having a fiesta!

I was very inspired by this rehearsal dinner seen on Style Me Pretty.  Here in Milwaukee, we are very lucky to have Broadway Paper, a lovely paper and stationery store in town.  I immediately hopped over there to get my creative juices flowing, and ended up picking a color palette we both really love!  Then, I set about designing invites and other stationery to go with the theme.  Let’s start with the invites first, shall we?

I fell in love with long envelopes and decided they would be perfect for these invites:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 006

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 008

I created a wrap around label thanks to some help via Twitter from these lovely ladies.  Em is even going to send me some of her labels to use—thanks girl!  Close-up:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 007

Let’s open it up!

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 010 I am seriously in love with this color combo—it’s like an aqua and a deep red.  Perfect for a Mexican fiesta, I think!  And here’s the actual invite:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 012

You may notice the wording is a bit different from most rehearsal dinner invites.  Well, we did this on purpose.  Since we are hosting the dinner, it felt funny to have the invite read as though we were honoring ourselves (Example of more traditional wording:  “Please join us at a rehearsal dinner honoring Bride & Groom.”).  Instead, we decided we wanted to use this opportunity to really thank—and honor—our family and friends.  We are keeping the guest list small for this party on purpose—just our immediate families & wedding party (and anyone else who is involved with the wedding, like readers and gift attendants)—because  we really want to take this time to celebrate and appreciate THEM.

You may also recognize the monogram and fonts I used:  yep, they’re from our Save-the-Date!  What can I say, I love the motif!

[Random side note:  I am thinking about rounding the corners of the invites.  What do you guys think?  Can anyone give a recommendation for a good corner-rounder?]

Because we will be giving out our gifts to the wedding party and family at this event, I decided to make a banner for the gift table.  I still need to string it with ribbon, but the letters look like this:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 003 

Cute, no?  I also read somewhere that to make rehearsal run more smoothly, it’s a great idea to have nametags for everyone…so your officiant or coordinator knows who everyone is and can better run the rehearsal.  Most people at this event will know each other, but I still decided to make nametags so people like my grandparents can get to know our friends.  Here’s what they’ll look like (I just used my mom’s and dad’s for example!):

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 005

I still have to laminate them and attach a pin to the back, but at least you get the idea!

And here’s the whole shebang thus far, all together:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 013

I am so excited—this project has been really fun so far and it has brought a lot of joy back in to my wedding planning.  Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, of course, but I have been feeling really stressed about other parts—namely registering and our invites for the actual wedding.  These projects and planning this dinner have been a welcome change!  I have a lot more tricks up my sleeve for this party, including cute table decor (hot sauce bottles, anyone?!), menu tents for each table, and a super awesome idea for a cheap and easy—yet totally awesome—favor.  Stay tuned!

Are you having a themed rehearsal dinner?  What are you doing for invitations, decorations, and the like?

*All photos by me!


Filed under Decor, Food & Drink, Rehearsal, Stationery

We’ve Been Blogged!

Our fabulous photographer, Sarah Immel, just blogged about our engagement session!  Check out her blog here to see our shoot and make sure to check out more of her fabulous work while you’re visiting!!

Wood(One of my favorites.  Photo by Sarah Immel Photography (duh!) ) 

Yay!  Thanks Sarah!  We can’t wait to have you shoot our wedding!


Filed under Photography

Ceremony Prep: Pros & Cons

Dr. Groomy and I are getting married in the Catholic church.  Both of our families are Catholic, we both went to Catholic schools (me:  just elementary school, Dr. Groomy:  elementary, middle, high school, AND grad school, with a stop at public university for undergrad!), and we both enjoy attending mass together, so it was very important for us to get married in the Church.  I am excited for a beautiful wedding mass, but I have to tell you, getting married in the Catholic church does have its own set of pros and cons.

Hello, gorgeous!  I can’t wait to get married to Dr. Groomy here.

One of the biggest pros, for me at least, is that we don’t have to write our ceremony from scratch.  Our church provides us with a worksheet, options for readings and prayers, and we basically just fill in the blanks.  While some people might not like this lack of freedom in writing the ceremony, I love it—truthfully, it’s one less thing for me to do, yet we still get to pick readings and prayers that speak to us as a couple.  Best of both worlds, in my opinion.  Another big pro?  We will not be writing our own vows, but instead choosing from a few different pre-set options.  For some of you, this may be a huge con, but I have to be honest:  I love the way traditional vows sound and I think it puts a lot less pressure on the bride and groom.  I fully plan to write Dr. Groomy a love letter to go with my wedding gift to him, so it’s not as though we won’t share those mushy, handwritten thoughts anyways.  And again, I just really love traditional vows—there is just something about them that gets me every time!

One of the biggest cons for me is the music selection and policies of our church.  The Cathedral does not allow secular  or pre-recorded music, so there will be no fun processional and recessional choices for us (I’ve always had a secret wish to walk back down the aisle to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder!). In fact, there will be no change of music at all for some parts of the mass—whatever we choose as the processional song, ALL of us will walk into during that music, the bride included.  According to our church’s website, “The Roman rite does not specify a change in music for the entrance of the bride. Since the ritual calls for a single liturgical procession, the same piece you select will be played for the entire wedding processional.”  So, we can’t choose one song for the bridesmaids, something else for the parents, etc. etc.  Whatever song we choose, we will all be walking in to.  In the long run, not a big deal, but I sometimes envy you brides who can pick fun and different songs for each part of the processional and recessional!  The music policies at our church are also pretty strict—all weddings are required to have a church organist play and a church cantor sing.  If we want someone else to sing or play for us, they must audition on a tape and we have to have it approved by the Cathedral music director.

Although the music policies are strict, I have to say that I have really enjoyed planning my wedding at the Cathedral as a whole thus far.  I really love the traditional twist on it all, and the way our church really emphasizes the reasons behind their policies, the music choices, the prayers, the readings, and the entire event.  Not only that, but we love the priest we have chosen to perform our ceremony, the parish is very welcoming, and the people who run the wedding programs are very helpful and organized.  Another great bonus at our church?  They do the wedding programs for you!  One more thing I won’t have to worry about.  The reason they provide the programs is because they include information on the mass, prayers, and song choices, so that those guests attending our wedding who are not Catholic can still participate in some aspects of the mass.  We just fill out a worksheet that includes our bridal party, parents, those we want to remember, and our thank you, and they take care of the rest.  Awesome, right?  I have seen the programs the church provides and they are simple, elegant, and gorgeous—printed on nice ivory paper with script fonts.  If we want to personalize them, I can arrange to pick them up in the month before the wedding to attach a special cover or a ribbon to them.  I am still undecided as to whether we will do this or not!

As you can see, our adventures in planning a Catholic ceremony are moving onwards, regardless of the pros and cons…how exciting!  Every day it feels more and more real to me.  So tell me:  are you having a religious ceremony or a secular one?  What is the ceremony preparation process like for you?


Filed under Ceremony

Ring Conundrum: Finale!

So, remember the Ring Conundrum I posted about previously?   I’m back to give you the finale to the story!  A quick recap:  N is going to ask D to marry him, but wants it to be a complete surprise…yet he also wants her to love whatever ring she wears, because she is very particular about her jewelry selections.  N had four options he was considering in pursuit of the perfect engagement ring. If you’ll remember, they were:

Option A:  Buy a solitaire diamond.  This way she can still pick a different setting at a later time, but gets to have the sentimental value of always wearing the diamond he picked for her.
Option B: Buy a fake ring and take her shopping later.  Obvious pro of this is that she can then choose the ring she really wants.
Option C:  Buy her a birthstone ring, which he can use to propose and then she can wear on her right hand once they return and go shopping for the “real” ring.  A big con of this?  If he buys her a nice birthstone ring, it will cut into the budget for the actual ring—remember, he’s on  a set budget and isn’t moving from there.
Option D:  Pick the ring and setting all by himself, knowing that he knows her quite well and wants the opportunity to choose something beautiful for her.

Most of you who commented were on board with Option D…and I am happy to say that N reconsidered his original plan and decided to do what we thought he should:  he bought D a beautiful ring, shown here without the center stone, to propose to her with. 


They leave for their cruise in just a few days, and he plans to ask her then!  He’s already received approval from her parents (he took them out for dinner when she was at work last week), and he’s very excited (albeit extremely nervous) to propose.  Stay tuned for the epilogue of this story, after their cruise—when we find out if she said yes!

*As noted on the first post, I had permission to share this story from appropriate parties involved.


Filed under Jewelry, Relationships

Rehearsal Dinner: Check!

As I mentioned on Friday, we booked our rehearsal dinner location!  It feels great to have another thing checked off our list.  When we started researching our options, we had a list of criteria we based it on.  Namely:

*Close proximity to the downtown area…extra bonus points if the location is close proximity to the church.

*Affordable and laid-back.  Listen…it’s no joke that our wedding is going to be costly AND pretty damn formal.  We wanted the rehearsal dinner to be more casual, and we didn’t want to blow a whole wad of extra cash on it.

*Private party area.  The rehearsal dinner guest list is pretty small in comparison to our actual wedding, but we still wanted a private space where we could entertain family and friends.

*Relating to us somehow.  We want to make sure that the rehearsal dinner really feels like “us,” since we’ll be celebrating with only immediate family and friends that evening.  We wanted a place that had a bit of history for us.

We physically looked at a lot of different places, and we probably researched at least a dozen more.  Dr. Groomy created a big spreadsheet on Excel for us to work off of—it was actually really great to have his involvement with this, as I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing.  Because our rehearsal dinner isn’t being hosted for us in the traditional sense (we are acting as the hosts), it was really on our shoulders to narrow things down and pick the place.

A top choice for me was our favorite restaurant in our neighborhood, Palms Bistro & Bar.


We love this restaurant, and it’s where we went for dinner the night we got engaged!  It’s not as close to the church as we would have liked, but it is in the general area we were looking.  Alas, their catering menu was too expensive for what we were looking to spend.  Onward!

Next we took a look at the Milwaukee Ale House. 

Ale House

We love this place.  Great location—again, right in our neighborhood—and they have AWESOME beers made right there on site.  They also sport good food and a private party room downstairs.  We thought this would be the clear winner, but again, their catering menu was ridiculous—in some cases, the prices were nearly twice as expensive as their regular dinner menu.  Um, no thanks!

It was at this point that we decided to move our search closer to the church.  We really didn’t want everybody to have to worry about parking and there are plenty of restaurants right on the same block as the church, so everyone would only have to park once for the rehearsal and then could walk to the dinner.   We started our search at Taylor’s, which is a martini bar right on Cathedral Square in Milwaukee.

Taylors  (Source)

Admittedly, this is not my favorite place to frequent.  They have good drinks but to be honest?  The clientele tends to be a bit pretentious.  It’s just not as laid-back as we are; however, on researching their options, they seemed to have a pretty great set-up:  no charge for party space and they’ll help you cater (as they don’t have a full kitchen).   It seems like they really want to help you throw a fun party.  I was all about it…until we walked in.  We hadn’t been there in awhile (see aforementioned pretentious-ness) and we neglected to remember that their “party space” is actually just a small bar area off to the entrance.  Albeit their great location, there was no way we’d be able to fit our party into that space.  Boo.  So, we sat and had a drink and pondered our next move…when Dr. Groomy suggested that we head around the corner and check out the bar next door.


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!  Flannery’s Bar & Restaurant is caddy corner across the street from our church, so the location is perfect.  Everyone can park for the rehearsal and not have to move their cars again (as parking in downtown Milwaukee when you don’t want to pay for a ramp can be a bit hectic).  They have a huge party area we’ll be able to utilize, complete with three booths, a bunch of tables, and our own full-size bar (not to mention dart boards, too!) We will also have our own bartender and server.  The food prices are great and the alcohol prices are really good too—plus bar service is fully customizable, so we can tell them exactly what we’ll pay for—and what we won’t.  (Read:  I will not be forking over cash so our groomsmen can get Dr. Groomy drunk on whiskey shots, haha!).   But what about that last little detail we wanted—a place that relates to us as a couple?  Well, ironically enough, we actually ended up celebrating at Flannery’s the night we got engaged.  After we went to dinner at Palms, we met my bridesmaid B and some friends out at this bar to celebrate.  And then when B and her boyfriend Trav got engaged?  We celebrated here again too!  I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier.

So rehearsal dinner is checked off the list.  What a relief!

Have you booked your rehearsal dinner location yet?  What factors mattered to you?


Filed under Food & Drink, Rehearsal