A Semi-Destination Wedding

One thing that we knew when we were looking for a venue in the mountains was that it would be, at minimum, slightly out-of-the-way. Our original location of Julian is about 45 min to an hour outside of San Diego, mostly depending on where you’re coming from. Palomar Mountain is closer to an hour and a half–an easy day trip. But for a wedding? With alcohol involved? It quickly transformed into a semi-destination wedding. Do our guests HAVE to stay on the mountain? No, they don’t, and most probably won’t. Our venue has strict restrictions on when we must stop serving alcohol, and we’re having an early-ish wedding so guests driving home can get down the mountain when it’s still light out.

But for guests such as the wedding party, staying on the property is definitely a must. Thankfully, we are renting the Bailey House (unbelievably the ORIGINAL building on Palomar Mountain) as part of our venue for the Thursday-Sunday surrounding the wedding, and the Bailey House sleeps–wait for it–19 people! Talk about a magic number! A 19 person occupancy is perfect for our wedding party and their dates. Mr. B and I will have the Master Bedroom which is on the ground floor (all the other bedrooms are on the 2nd floor and in the attic) and we are even braving staying with our Bridal Party the night of the wedding. GASP. What’s that? You can’t believe were not whisking away to a secluded location all to ourselves? To be honest, a lot of factors play into this, mostly being, there’s no need for us to go stay somewhere else when we have a perfectly good master suite we are already paying ALOT to stay in. PLUS we want to spend this time partying with our nearest and dearest–and more than likely after all the stress and work of the days preceding the wedding, all we’re going to want to do is SLEEP. (trust me….)

I know what you’re thinking, what about our parents? Well, to be frank, Mr. B and I both come from families with divorced parents who have all re-married. So yes, we have 8 parents. That is a lot of parents. And we’re paying for the wedding ourselves. So from the beginning we informed them they would need to find somewhere to stay. There are other cabins on the property, and on the mountain for that matter (and a Harrah’s 30 minutes away) so they have PLENTY of options…Dealing with the parents and their accommodations is another post for another day.

View of the Bailey House in the Background

Photo personal

Is your venue off the beaten path but perfect for your vision?


The Quest for the Dress, Part 1

I am one of THOSE brides who practically knew exactly what I wanted before I even had the ring on my finger. Well, when it comes to dresses there are so MANY options!! So I think it came down to I knew what I DIDN’T want in a dress, and I would go from there. Last time I got married, I had an all satin ballgown with pick-ups. I’m pretty sure David’s Bridal still carries the EXACT dress….Wait, yep, here it is:



Image via David’s Bridal

Thinking about this dress honestly makes me cringe. It’s nothing against people who choose dresses like this, because it is a beautiful dress, but to me it is associated with a wedding I (frankly) probably shouldn’t have had…And I just don’t think satin is the fabric for me (which is why there will be no satin dresses!)

Knowing I wanted a softer material (but still a FULL skirt) I decided to look at dresses made of chiffon, tulle and organza. One thing I knew for sure was I didn’t want to spend the majority of my wedding budget on a dress I’d only wear once. Despite my dislike for all things David’s Bridal, they really did offer the best bang for my buck so I decided to start there. Perusing their website, I did find a few dresses that caught my eye. A couple made of tulle (because it makes for a SUPER gorgeous full skirt) and a couple made from organza. Of course I loved the White by Vera Wang line BUT spending above $1k for something from David’s Bridal seemed counter-productive to me. Either way I created my favorites list and decided I had plenty of time to go in and check them out.

Dress Option 1 Organza A-line (that’s actually 2-in-1)

Dress option 2 Might make me look short

Beautiful White by Vera Wang Tulle Dress

Gorgeous Organza Dress with RUFFLE detailing

All Photos via David’s Bridal.com

Then one day, while checking up on my favorites list, I noticed a couple of the dresses I liked were on closeout sale! I definitely had a mini-freak out: sale=good closeout=bad. Thankfully, there was a DB down the street from my work, and I was able to go one afternoon when I was off early. My mom was able to meet me (as the lucky duck gets EVERY Friday off) and we went in just to LOOK at the dresses…There was absolutely no use in freaking out over a dress being discontinued if I didn’t even like it. So we browsed a bit, and finally tracked it down. And of course, when I saw it, I loved it, and had to try it on. So I did, and due to it being a Friday afternoon and not very busy my consultant was very attentive and helpful (rare for DB). I quickly realized that the dress was THE dress. But afraid to make a hasty decision about the first dress I tried on, I tried on a couple more. It soon became clear: dress #1 was the dress for me. Due to the discounted rate, I could only buy the sample dress, and could not put it on hold without a 25% deposit. After a long (well, like 10 minutes) deliberation while still wearing the dress, I decided to put down the deposit, and bring the BM’s the next week to check it out. Luckily, if I changed my mind within 60 days I could just apply my deposit towards another dress, which made it an even easier decision.

Did I mention this was all within 2 weeks of getting engaged?? I’m very efficient inpatient when it comes to planning.

Was choosing a dress an easy decision for you? Or was your search long and seemingly fruitless at first?

Ringing in the Long Weekend

As I mentioned here on Friday, my plan was to use this long weekend to complete as many DIY projects as physically possible. WELL….I maybe completed ONE. EPIC FAIL. On the bright side, we did get a couple other important tasks done. For starters, we FINALLY went to check out wedding bands (**yay**). It almost had to be postponed, but thankfully my positivity made it happen. Only problem now: deciding what ring I like best. Prior to ring shopping I was IN LOVE with a Simon G wedding band, that’s a little out of the box, but I love that it’s a little bit different, and can also be worn alone. FI was NOT convinced, however, so I tried on a Tacori band that matched my engagement ring, but still had that slightly different look I was going for. I’m still undecided, however, the more I think about it the more I think he’s right (which I HATE to admit, but I guess it is what it is). What do you think? The Simon G

The SImon G band I LOVE

I’m running out of time!!!

Ok, you got me I’m not REALLY running out of time. But it sure feels like I am! According to The Knot, I have 120 days left. The number 120 makes this seem like a lot, but really, it’s not. When you subtract out workdays, pre-wedding events and other non-wedding related events between now and then, the number gets dwindled down to…28! 28 full days where nothing has been scheduled (yet). When you break it down that way, I have less than a month to complete my 18 (yes, EIGHTEEN) DIY projects that are on my list (and honestly, knowing myself, I didn’t write them all down). When you look at it that way, I guess I am running out of time. So I’m trying to look on the bright side: It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and although we have a couple plans later in the day on Sunday and Monday, for the most part, my weekend is free to complete as many projects as I can. And I plan to take FULL advantage of this 3-day weekend (and also try not to remember that I only have 28 days to complete everything…eeek!)

Do you ever feel like you’re running out of time to complete the wedding projects you want to accomplish before the big day? What are you doing to keep yourself on schedule (and sane)?

A picture is worth a thousand words

One of the biggest things I learned from my last wedding, was that not every photographer is the same. Well in all fairness, I knew this BEFORE my last wedding. But because the last one was paid for by my very gracious parents, most of the decisions (or at least the ones that had to do with costs) were not left up to me. Photos are one thing that is very important to me. I was THAT girl in High school, you know, the one that ALWAYS had a camera and had hundreds (yes, hundreds) of photos taped to her wall. So, clearly, I knew what type of photos I wanted from my wedding. And, basically, I got the COMPLETE opposite. I definitely get my quasi frugality from my dad. I am always looking for a bargain or the best deal, but one way my dad and I differ: I’m willing to splurge if it’s worth it, whereas, typically, he’s not. And for my last wedding, photography fell into that category, and, err, luckily(?) for me he “knew a guy”. Well, I could tell by this guy’s portfolio this was not the photographer for me (think completely staged family reunion or soccer team photos), my dad, however, had different plans; because according to him, this was the guy. Retrospectively, now being divorced, I don’t care that the photos look like completely staged prom photos. But now that I’m doing this for REAL, I want photos that I can look at in 50 years and still love just as much as I love Mr. B. And thankfully, even though paying for the whole wedding sometimes sucks, this is one of those cases where it definitely does not.

A friend I had growing up is just starting out with photography, and looking at her website and Facebook Portfolios, I started to think that she was the way to go. Her photos are beautiful. So, shortly after becoming engaged, I contacted her about doing our engagement photos. She was just as excited to shoot us as we were! We scheduled our Engagement shoot for October, and being the inpatient person I am, couldn’t wait to get the photos back. I got my sneak peek later that day and I knew we had made the right decisions. I loved all the photos! They were exactly what we wanted from our engagement photos, and once we had looked through all of them, and Mr. B approved, I asked her to do the wedding. We’re so excited to have her document our big day!


All Photos Quartiano Photography



Was finding a photographer that shared your vision a priority to you? Or are photos something that you were willing to compromise on?

All Photos courtesy Quartiano Photography

Prioritizing our Planning–the search for THE band

In booking our venue, I knew there was one detail that was really what made me decide that it was THE ONE. The Dance Hall. It was built in 1928, and made completely of wood. There was a soda bar that was original to the building that could be used as our bar at the wedding. An attached general store filled with antiques. A covered porch in the front. The only word I could use to describe it other than AH-MAZING, was PERFECT. There was however one important detail that definitely set my wedding planning in a direction I may not have previously planned: a stage. Looking at the stage, I knew one thing for certain, our wedding here would only work with a band. And not just any band, a COUNTRY band. OK, I know what you’re thinking, not everyone appreciates country music (I will admit, you either love it or you don’t, there’s not a whole lot of in between). But thankfully, the majority of our friends and family DO enjoy country. And even the few that fall into that other bracket are willing to admit that live country music can be fun. Once Mr. B agreed, the planning began.


The Stage in Bailey’s Dance Hall–try to look past the storage.

Photo Personal

I came to the conclusion, that there are caterers a plenty in Southern California, but GOOD country cover bands are not so easy to come by. So we agreed that would be one of our first priorities in the planning process. Not really knowing where to start, I started feverishly researching where to book bands on the Internet (seriously, I wonder how people did anything, let alone plan a wedding, before it existed). I came across Gigmasters.com through one of my google searches and luckily it was the first and last booking website I would need. (Seriously, if you’re looking for a band, this website is AWESOME, and super easy to navigate, get quotes and book through). After perusing through the various bands in the region, I settled on three to get quotes from. Only one of them was from San Diego, and coincidentally they were my favorite. But Mr. B is one to appreciate many choices, so we began our quest to narrow down the options and find THE band for our wedding.

Once I had it narrowed down to 3 potential candidates (even though, in my head, I’d already decided) I approached Mr. B with all the details. One band, despite having good audio clips, played more Johnny Cash type, old school country music. Now, don’t get me wrong, we enjoy Johnny Cash and that era of music, HOWEVER, we knew sticking with ONLY that type of Country was not the vibe we were going for when it comes to the wedding. So 3 became 2, and we began to assess their differences. The main difference ended up being the vocals. The band from Orange County had 2 female vocalists, a quality that the Local San Diego band, did not. Knowing the first show wasn’t for a couple weeks, I spent many days pondering this question, was a female vocalist something that was important to me. And the answer, my friends, was no, it is not. I approached Mr. B with opinions. Basically what it boiled down to was this: when I picture the country songs that our friends would get up and dance to, I think more Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, and Garth Brooks, NOT Sara Evans and the Dixie Chicks. Yes, there are some great songs by female country artists, but what it came down to is there aren’t enough of them. And after watching the other band’s videos, it was clear that MOST of the songs they sang were by female vocalists. Which doesn’t really fit with the vision I have in my head of all our friends singing along (loudly) to the chorus of Garth Brook’s “Friends in Low Places” (which I know, is probably not the MOST appropriate wedding song). Either way, I knew an entire set of female lead vocals was not what I wanted from a country band…at our wedding at least.

Finally, the time came for the first show by the local band, who were the front-runners when it came to our choice (well, in my head we’d already picked them and paid the deposit but I usually make decisions quicker than FI does). Now it came down to what our friends thought. So we headed to the first show, a couple of my BM’s came along with one of Mr. B’s GM. The show was fun! Even Mr. B’s GM who’s not exactly a HUGE country fan enjoyed himself (I even caught him singing along!) At that point, Mr. B was just as sold on the idea as I was! And a few short emails, and a booking fee later they were booked! It was quick and simple, and thankfully not as difficult as expected! (or so we thought…more to come in future posts)

Was there one task that you were most concerned with getting out of the way early? Did it turn out the way you expected?

Deciding what we want…

to register for, of course! I must say, wedding planning is STRESSFUL. Not that that was/is surprising, but geez! It sure can take a lot out of you. Between the budgets and planning and decisions, before you know it, something that should be fun and exciting feels more like, well, work. Registering for gifts is something enjoyable and stress free that Mr. B and I were able to do to together to take our minds off the stress.

After doing a LOT of research on the best places to register and weighing out the pros and cons of each, we I decided we would register at Macy’s and Crate and Barrel. C&B because let’s face it, they have super cool stuff (most important of which was the AH-MAZING wine glasses that were similar to the ones I saw on Gossip Girl!). Originally, I was planning on registering at Bed, Bath and Beyond, BUT after hearing about Macy’s spectacular rewards program (5% of all registry gifts and 10% what you spend on your card on a gift card after the wedding to buy MORE stuff? YES PLEASE).


Aren’t these wine glasses AWESOME?

Photo via Crate and Barrel

While researching our registry options, I learned of the amazing benefits of attending the Registry “parties” that our chosen stores offered. We first attended the registry party at Crate and Barrel. They open up our closest store early every Sunday morning for engaged couples to come check out the store, register and test some of their products. They had reps from Kitchenaid and Cuisinart (two of my FAVE brands) on hand for demonstrations, and even employees  making paninis and french toast! Having the store to ourselves (well, with only a handful of other shoppers) really made our first registering experience both special and simple. Unfortunately, this was when I didn’t have my camera so I am without pictures from this day. But we did get a cute bud vase in our take home bag (Thanks C&B).

About a month after our visit to Crate and Barrel, we hit up the Macy’s Sip and Scan party with MOH S and her FI. As fun as the C&B event was, Macy’s definitely was a step up. Maybe it was the fun we had registering with our friends, or maybe it was the yummy mocktails and gourmet appetizers, either way, we definitely were happy with our decision to attend this event. It really was an overall great experience that I would recommend to anyone looking to register for their wedding.


Mr. B and I at Macy’s Sip & Scan


Using his awesome scan gun technique to add me to the registry

All Photos Personal unless otherwise noted

Was there anything in the planning process that served as a break from all the, well, planning?