Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Dress

This should probably be titled "The Dress, Part I" - the search isn't over yet.

Last winter, I saw a nice-looking evening gown in a catalog. It was a vintage design, made of off-white silk and embroidered with beads and crystals. At the time, I thought it would make a lovely wedding dress - although I wasn't expecting to need one.

So when Aaron proposed and we started the planning, my first thought was "at least I know the dress I want." We called the retailer, found out they still had the dress available, and ordered one right away. I was feeling pretty good - more than a year to go and we have the date, we have the site, and I have The Dress.

But today I tried on the dress. And I'm pretty sure it's not The Dress. It's not off-white; it's yellow-brown. There's a bunch of weird gauzy stuff that doesn't show up in the catalog. This retailer illustrates its catalogs with watercolors rather than photographs, so there's a real danger that what you see is not what you get. That's definitely the case here. The embroidery is significantly less delicate, parts of it make the wearer look naked, and it's yellow-brown.

So now I'm back to square one. I'm really glad there's still a year to go.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Fun Part

Tonight we're in Indianapolis, doing our first caterer visit. This is definitely the fun part of wedding planning!

We drove down to Greenwood to visit Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria - something of a local institution. They're well-known as a Midwestern-type after-church cafeteria, with a big serving area and lines out the door. They used to be well-known for not serving any alcoholic beverages, but I was really pleased to learn that's changed. Now they try to feature Indiana wines in their bar service, and that's something we really want to do.

Even though all of Southern Indiana was flooded last weekend (the cafeteria was OK, but some of the events they were catering were canceled), they put on a lovely tasting evening. Their banquet facility was set up as if for a wedding reception, and we were able to taste some of their entrees, carved meats, and side dishes. They even had their chocolate fountain running, and a display of wedding cakes (with a photo album of more).

We want good food. It's really that simple - nothing fancy, just good. We want to offer a good selection of food, so everyone can find something they like. And we want it to taste good. A friendly and helpful serving staff, and an honest and straightforward sales department, would be a big plus.

That's not as easy to find as it sounds. Several caterers have been great to contact, but others send only generic responses to my e-mails. One tried to lure me away from the Mavris center (who referred us to them!) and to their own facility. One suggested we could negotiate "upgrading" to Indiana wines (you can upgrade from something that retails for $7.95 a bottle?!? I definitely wouldn't want to serve the non-upgraded stuff to my guests, and am afraid of a caterer who would!) Some are already nagging me for a decision, with the wedding a year away. And lots of caterers like to put in lots of hidden charges - here's a food price, but then you pay 20% for service, and 9% for delivery, and more to rent china, or set up a buffet table, or whatever.

So I like Jonathan Byrd's because they answer my e-mail. I like them because their staff was friendly. I wasn't impressed by their cake, but I may like them enough anyway - especially as we explore other options for dessert. Even if we don't wind up using them, I'd certainly recommend them.

We haven't made a choice yet - I'm probably going to give a couple of other caterers a chance to impress me. But this one has definitely set the bar.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


We have a site! My mother visited the Mavris Event Center today to sign a contract for July 4 of next summer.

This is a huge relief, because now all the pressure is off. We have a date, we have a place, and we can go on making other arrangements, much more slowly.

Maybe we (I) worried a bit too much - but dates seem to fill up fast. Our "small family wedding" will probably have 200 guests, so we're kind of limited in our choice of spaces, especially since we really didn't want a chain-hotel ballroom.

Mavris has its drawbacks - it's a bit more than we'd hoped to spend, and it's right next to the railroad tracks and the heliport. (On the other hand, this could be cool - while it's a bit loud outside, the owner says the engineers and pilots will wave as they go by.) It is, however, a delightfully easy place to be. The owner will pretty much do as much or as little as we want him to, and we have the facility for the whole day so we'll have plenty of time to do what we want. We were really impressed when we were there visiting as they were setting up for a reception, and his daughter reported that the caterer (who was NOT on his approved list) didn't know how to set the tables. He was very adamant that the idiot-caterer not be permitted to bother the bride. I have a feeling I'll really appreciate that sensibility next summer.

So here's what it looks like (these pictures are stolen from the Mavris webpage, because somebody forgot to bring her camera on the site-hunting tour). It's a 19th-century grocery depot, later a plumbing warehouse, which the current owner (Mr. Mavris) converted into an event space. There are three levels of big, open space, and he has almost anything we could possibly want to rent. (The railroad tracks are to the left of this picture. There's an underpass, so our guests won't be delayed by trains.)

Inside, it doesn't look much like a warehouse anymore. This seems to be the starting point for decoration, and I doubt we'll need to do much more. No renting a dance floor here - everything is lovely hardwood. The "Groom's Room" on the third floor is frighteningly nice, equipped with a pool table and a big-screen TV. I may have to choose bridesmaids who are big enough to drag Aaron downstairs, should he forget about the ceremony.

But here is what really sold us on the place - the garden. This is off the second level of the building (with the railroad tracks and heliport just beyond the fence). It's not a huge garden, but a bit of green space downtown is nice, especially on a warm summer night. And there's a lovely view of the city skyline.

And see that building on the right, with the blue band around it? That's where they shoot off the 4th of July fireworks. Around 9:30 - right in the middle of our reception. If I were doing the spare-no-expense wedding (or any other event, really) of my dreams, there would be fireworks. It's so cool that the city will provide them for us!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Beginning

A wedding blog should begin with an engagement story, right?

Aaron & I met in the fall of 1999, when he came to Purdue for graduate school. I was living in Indianapolis at the time, but came up regularly for SCA activities. We started dating in December of that year, and in May we attended our first camping event together (although we stayed in a hotel) - Baron Wars.

Baron Wars is held at Fort Meigs, a reconstructed War of 1812 fort in Perrysburg, Ohio. It's a beautiful park and a great event site - there's plenty of room, and sometimes they'll even fight through the walls of the fort. We don't always make it to Baron Wars, but we always have a good time when we do make it.

We had to go this year, because Aaron's friends are King & Queen of the Middle Kingdom (the Midwest, more or less). We knew it would be a fun event. What I didn't know was that while we were in Indianapolis getting ready, Aaron was sneaking out to the jewelry store while I was asleep. I was awake when he came home, but had no idea of what he'd been doing.

At the event, Aaron suggested we take a walk, to enjoy the view of the river. I still had no idea of what he was doing. I didn't catch on until he dropped to one knee and proposed, offering a beautiful 1920s/30s vintage ring.

I said yes :-)