the honeymoon destination was the source of much debate for quite some time. in fact, i’m willing to bet most couples who embark on their honeymoon immediately after the wedding don’t put off picking a destination as long as we did. we had our reasons: robert is scared of cruises (we’re going to have to break him of that fear) and didn’t want an uber-scheduled trip; he wanted a vacation where he could move at whatever leisurely pace pleased him. i didn’t want to anywhere tropical in july (too hot and too many hurricanes) and really wasn’t keen on any beachy destination (i love the beach, but wanted to do something a little more exciting).

one night in january at a small dinner party given by groomsman dave and his wife sarah, the topic of ireland came up and both of our eyes lit up. ireland? a foreign country neither of us have been to? guinness brewery and all the beer you can imagine? a place we should be able to navigate on our own? unusual sporting events? check, check, check and check.

so we’re going to spain!!

just kidding.

we’re going to ireland!!

i borrowed this photo from neighbor becky’s album of her trip around ireland’s iveragh P-peninsula, a likely destination of ours. i hope she doesn’t mind.

we’ll be departing memphis the tuesday after the wedding because, holy moly who wants to engage in international travel the day after one of the bigger days of your life? we’ll hop through o’hare before boarding our aer lingus flight due for dublin. we’ll spend a couple of days in dublin, a couple of days in galway and the rest will be spent in kenmare and dingle in county kerry for a total of nine days, not counting travel. we’re not making plans beyond that — just going to see where the irish winds blow us. although i can guarantee you there will be plenty of pubs involved.

so i’ve managed to stick my foot in my mouth a time or two during this whole wedding planning process.

but before we get into that can we just take a moment to freak out about the fact that we’re less than two weeks away from the big day? i’ve had my share of being stressed out about getting things done before the wedding, but i’m just now starting to feel the butterflies that seem to accompany any major life milestone. not the ‘we might be making a mistake’ butterflies, to be clear, but the ‘this is a huge, once-in-a-lifetime event so enjoy every moment of it’ butterflies.

so, about the foot-in-the-mouth syndrome. there have been a few instances of me doing exactly what i swore up and down and sideways that i would not do for robert and i’s wedding. isn’t that how it always works? oh father, i must confess my double-speaking sins.

for starters, i said i would never, ever, ever, ever have a strapless wedding dress. and even though i was the kind of girl who had never envisioned her wedding before getting engaged, i’m pretty sure the decision to have a dress with some sort of strap or sleeve function was made years before i even met robert. i don’t have much to go on in the bosom department and have never been able to wear anything strapless without tugging at it every 30 seconds, and i did NOT want to be doing that for the duration of my wedding day.

well, guess what? everyone who said strapless wedding dresses have so much boning that they don’t move and are altered within an inch of your life was right. the boning was enough to make me give after discovering i didn’t like any of the be-strapped dresses i tried on. i can’t show you the dress here because robert is adamant about not seeing it before the big day, but i can tell you it’s from casablanca (which doubles as a movie that i love) and was a part of the company’s 2009 fall collection (and is described on their website as ‘for your bride who has simple taste — yep, that’s me). the bit about strapless dresses being altered within an inch of your life turned out to be especially true and has caused me a bit of concern for my ability to get down and funky at the reception. but it’s too late to do anything about that now other than a strict routine of counting weight watchers’ points these next two weeks and perhaps a spanx purchase.

the second thing i swore — well, we swore — was that we wouldn’t do something just because it’s what everyone else has done or because ‘it’s what you do at a wedding.’ if we didn’t like it or see the point, it was omitted or replaced. monogrammed napkins? scrapped. bouquet toss? gone with the wind. we thought we’d get away without having a cake because we preferred pie or cookies.

well, according to my dear mother, you cannot have a wedding without cake. for the record, i disagree with this — the only things you really need for a wedding are a bride, groom (or two brides or two grooms if your state isn’t as discriminatory as tennessee), state-approved officiant and a marriage license. but even though my mom couldn’t give us a good reason for having a cake when we already had plans for 21 pies, we yielded (protesting, nonetheless) because i love my mom and the wedding isn’t completely about robert and i, especially since she’s paying for many pieces of the wedding. so instead of having a wedding cake or a groom’s cake we’ll be having a mother of the bride cake, but in the great compromise of the wedding it will look like a cake. so if you enjoy cake at the wedding, thank my mom, but please do try the chocolate pie.

pie dessert labels

the final instance of foot in the mouth, at least that i can think of, is the case of crafting. i said i would not allow myself to get bogged down in wedding-related crafts. if it was necessary, it could be bought, rented or borrowed. if it couldn’t be bought, rented or borrowed for a reasonable price or effort, it went the way of the bouquet toss.

now before you think i’m anti-DIY, let me specify that i love handmade things and a number of my friends are DIY queens and i love them for it. i just don’t enjoy doing crafts under pressure unless they’re means to very necessary ends. i also have watched too many friends stress themselves out by taking on too many crafts and projects before their wedding, and with my ridiculous work schedule time already wasn’t on my side. finally and probably most importantly, i didn’t want to fall into the trap of an overstyled, overdone wedding which seems to be more and more the norm in today’s wedding industry, and one which i think is ridiculous. if our wedding turns out to be particularly stylish, i can assure you it will be by complete accident and through no effort of my own.

anyway, so i guess you can already guess that i’ve done some crafts. BUT, in my defense, almost all crafts i did were a means to a necessary end, and if i was going to do something then i at least wanted it to look nice. the only thing i worked on for the sake of decor and not function was our table centerpieces, and even that’s been a group effort. robert and i, some bridesmaids and my parents have been saving spaghetti, salsa and jelly jars for the past year to serve as candleholders. to add a little more flare, i concocted the following decor out of vintage postcards found on ebay that kind of serendipitously tied together our save the date postcards, our train station venue and our love for travel.

all the postcards shoved into the same jar

i suppose designing the invitations myself was a bit of a diy craft. i also felt it would be useful for our guests to know what kind of options they had in the pie department, hence the little pie labels seen earlier in the post. we’ll also be having a photobooth for our guests that will serve as a sort of favor for them/guestbook for us, but i wanted to make sure they actually knew that we were expecting them to fill out our guestbook with their goofy photobooth photos, so i spray painted a picture frame and photoshopped up some instructions. i also spray painted some tin flower pots that will hold things during the reception. spray paint and the accompanying second-hand high has been a big part of my weekend.

the photobooth instructions and some flower pots turned silverware holders

the thing i’m most proud of in the craft department is that this is the extent of what i’ve done, and with 13 days to go i’m done with all of them, except for filling the jars with candles and sand, which is a project i’m saving for myself and my bridesmaids for a few days before the wedding (lucky them!) with a week to go before i ditch knoxvegas and jet to memphis, i can focus on the last little bit of important things like getting our marriage license (we’re going tuesday!) and packing for the honeymoon (what, have i not mentioned where we’re going? i guess i’ll get to that in the next post).

one of my greatest (and most irrational) fears about having a wedding is that we’d make all these plans and no one would show up. well, that’s only half true — i knew a chunk of my extended family would show up, because they show up for just about everything. i think i’ve been afraid that karma was going to punish me for me having to miss so many important birthdays, weddings and other gatherings because of my inflexible work schedule by making sure no one would be able to attend our wedding.


i nearly did a backflip when i received our first rsvp postcard just two days after mailing the invitations, and it was marked yes! (erin p., if you’re reading this post, you are awesome, and your speed is impressive). sure, we had a pretty good idea that these friends would make it, but just the actual physical act of receiving the rsvp made me do a little boogie in the living room.

our mail carrier never seems thrilled to see me or our crazy barking dogs when he comes to our door to drop off the mail, and usually all he’s bringing are bills, letters asking for donations and magazines (which, i love magazines, don’t get me wrong), so the daily mail exchange isn’t as exciting as i’d wish it would be. well, no longer. the anticipation of more rsvp cards and the joy of receiving them in the mail — whether or not ‘joyfully accepts’ is the option checked — has turned the daily mail exchange into Christmas! when we received six — SIX — rsvp cards in the mail today, i skipped out to the backyard to interrupt robert’s weed whacking to show him. this also means the universe isn’t karmically punishing me for waiting a few weeks to rsvp to most wedding invitations (i do it to make sure work doesn’t surprise me by rendering me unavailable).

the especially wonderful thing about today’s stack of rsvps is that all of them were marked ‘joyfully accepts’! we almost have enough guests to make this wedding a legitimate party :)

a note about the invitations: because i’ve read over and over that a wedding should be a reflection of the lives of the people who are getting married, we’ve tried to maintain some of our own personal standards while planning. for me, that included trying to make the invitations as green as possible (without going so informal as to send out an e-vite). i adapted some invitations designs on photoshop and then had them printed at greenerprinter on recycled card stock and paper and with vegetable- and soy-based inks. greenerprinter was so easy to work with, they shipped the final products quickly and everything was affordable, so i definitely recommend them to anyone facing a large-scale printing project.

i realize that memphis isn’t incredibly convenient for our friends and family, aside from my parents and a handful of my family members who live there. i apologize for that, but hope that you’ll still come and perhaps treat the trip as a mini-vacation for yourself. while my family who still lives in memphis might bristle at me calling memphis a cool city, i like to brag about how many fun things there are to do there — however you feel about living there, you can’t deny it’s a great place to visit.

so to encourage you further to treat our wedding as a mini- (or full-on) vacation, i’ve put together a page on the website called ‘stuff to see,’ which would be more appropriately named ‘stuff to see and eat,’ but that would require me changing a lot of headers, which i don’t really have time for now.

check out ‘stuff to see,’ but allow me to suggest a few things here …

  • tunica, miss: on thursday, robert and i are planning on taking an evening jaunt to tunica, miss., to do a little gambling and indulging of a large buffet meal. i enjoy a little blackjack every now and again, and i hardly ever have the time to head to tunica when i’m on the west end of the state. we’d love for any of you to join us.
  • the memphis redbirds: i don’t think it’s any secret that i’m a huuuge st. louis cardinals fan, and while robert is not a fan of the proper baseball team (ahem, astros?), he at least is a baseball fan and not one of the cubs variety. if we get a chance, we may try to catch the redbirds — the cardinals’ triple-a affiliate — while we’re around memphis. the good news is they’re in town the entire week and weekend.
  • music: it’s an integral part of memphis’ history. i’m sure you’ve all heard of a fellow named elvis presley and his home graceland. but what about the rock ‘n’ soul museum, stax museum of american soul, sun studios and gibson guitar factory? you might even be able to spot a legend in the flesh if you visit the rev. al green’s full gospel tabernacle church. if you want to listen to music rather than learn about it, well beale street is your destination.
  • food: we’ll be treating you to some barbecue at the wedding, and certainly you could eat barbecue all weekend if you so pleased. if that’s not your thing, try the arcade, ernestine and hazel’s, gus’s world famous fried chicken, the beauty shop or automatic slim’s for some non-barbecue but memphis-specific fare.
  • kiddos: for both your kids or the kid in you, check out the memphis zoo. you’ll be blown away by how nice this zoo is — many of the exhibits have been upgraded in the past 15 years. oh, and did you know there are pandas at the memphis zoo??

my cousin burton and i outside the gates of graceland, circa 2006 — we’ve never actually been inside

when deacon pat, who will be presiding over the wedding, asked robert how and when and why he knew he wanted to marry me, robert mentioned a moment from a little over a year ago when i was getting ready to spend over a week in nyc, working at the company headquarters. while i made my plans, robert both realized he would miss me but also realized that he was sad that we wouldn’t get to experience nyc together and would miss out on making a big memory together. he didn’t say that to me at the time, but while i was in nyc, tooling around the city by myself, i ended up feeling the same way. i was enjoying all the shopping and sightseeing and such, but i couldn’t help but feel a little emptiness without robert.

it’s usually me who’s leaving robert behind. i don’t travel nearly as much for work as i did when i was writing about crime and politics, but not a basketball season goes by without me spending several days in another city for a basketball tournament. i just returned from a four-day trip to nashville for the women’s sec tournament (if i missed you there, i’m sorry! i didn’t see anything but basketball players and coaches the entire time i was there). usually i end up with a five-day trip to memphis for an ncaa regional to boot (or eight-day trip as was the case for an ill-fated trip two years ago). sometimes there’s a two-day trip to chattanooga thrown in the mix.

today it’s robert who’s leaving me, though. his spring break starts tonight, and he’s traveling to seattle to visit his grandparents and some other family. he’s been wanting to go for some time — and of course i wanted to go too — but no schedule would accommodate both of us, so spring break seemed like the most opportune time for him to go.

i’ve only just dropped him off at the airport, but already i’m sad that he’s gone and sad for the memories we won’t be making together. but, that doesn’t mean i won’t be making the most of my bachelorette time.

i’m attending a bridal shower/bachelorette party tomorrow, which is perfect timing, but i’ve got a long list of things to tackle during the rest of robert’s absence — getting some practice in on the sewing machine santa brought me, stuffing and addressing some wedding invitations, updating the website and trying to devise centerpiece arrangements for the reception. i’ve lived alone quite a bit since graduating from college seven (gasp!) years ago, and when i’m not at the basketball arena, i’m working from home, so a quiet house doesn’t bother me too much.

not to mention i have these two crazy mutts to keep me company …

i have to be honest with everyone, the first decision robert and i made about our wedding outside of the decision to get married and the decision to get married in memphis in a catholic church wasn’t about the date or the venues or the wedding party or anything else that might have seemed like more obvious first steps in wedding planning. it was about the food.

most people choose venues first, and those venues often provide the catering or guide you to specific caterers that they prefer. this is the natural order of wedding planning, apparently, though i didn’t learn that until after we’d decided exactly what food we wanted served at our wedding and then began to nail down a reception site. if you don’t care much about food and you like things to be as least stressful as possible and you’re planning a wedding, do it this way.

robert and i care A LOT about food. we love to splurge on fancy restaurants occasionally. we love to try out new recipes at home. the priorities we set for our wedding on the day we got engaged included: get married, have fun, dance a lot and serve good food. and because so little of our wedding planning is being done the ‘way it is always done’ we threw caution to the wind.

because we had decided we wanted to get married in memphis, i very much wanted the reception to have a memphis feel to it. though my family is well-versed in the ways of the bluff city, i wanted all of our friends and robert’s family to get a taste of my beloved (for better or for worse) hometown. so the taste we would be feeding our guests was an obvious choice: barbecue. i am an obnoxious barbecue snob. barbecue not done in proper memphis style is not barbecue. memphis is home to the world championship barbecue cooking contest. it is the authority. i have spent hours upon hours trying to find worthy barbecue in knoxville to little avail. if our friends and family were going to be in memphis, i was determined they would taste REAL barbecue during their visit.

an aside: the wedding of our mutual friend and former memphian chris work was where robert and i essentially met for the first time, and chris work and his bride erin served barbecue from the only acceptable barbecue joint in knoxville. clearly it was a sign.

the choice of caterer was easy: the germantown commissary. those of you not from around memphis have probably more likely heard of rendezvous or corky’s, and those are all great and good, but the g’town commissary does catering right. i should know. as a counselor at the mary lou johns sports camp for five summers running, i had to coordinate the lunch catering, which meant calling the commissary several times a week and dining on their food for lunch. they have an amazing spread of perfectly smoked pulled (not chopped) pork, the only cole slaw i’ve ever loved, baked beans and deviled eggs. my mouth is watering thinking of it all now. the commissary catered my aunt and uncle’s wedding two years ago, and it was my all-time favorite wedding meal. don’t like pulled pork? 1. i’m not sure we can be friends anymore. 2. well, i guess we can be friends, and we’ll have some also delicious spaghetti for you to dine on instead.

commissary food, y’all

now for dessert. cake is the standard for weddings, right? just one problem, neither robert nor i are cake people. (unless it’s from magpies’ cakes in knoxville, which YES, PLEASE). if we were really true to ourselves for this wedding, we’d probably serve chocolate-chip cookies, brownies (or maybe just brownie batter) and gelato, but that was going to be a pain to figure out. flipping through a magazine we saw a different idea: pies! we could get different flavors to suit ever palate, and what a fitting end to a barbecue meal. it seemed a little pie-in-the-sky, but i googled ‘pies memphis’ just to see if anyone in the city mass produced delicious pies, and discovered a website with the following google search description: THEPIEFOLKS.COM SLAP YO MAMA CHOCOLATE PIE, AMERICA’S BEST PIE! hard to argue with that.

the pie folks are located in olive branch, ms, which is a short hop, skip and jump from germantown. and the pie gal wasn’t lying about her slap yo mama (that’s a southern expression, y’all) chocolate pie being america’s best pie — it won first place in the national pie competition. and it is to DIE for. or slap your mama for. my own mama makes some dang good chocolate pie, but even she agreed upon tasting it that it was the best chocolate pie she’s ever had. chocolate isn’t her only variety. she has 19 others.** the pie gal also informed us she didn’t need more than about a week or two’s notice to fill our wedding pie order. pie in the sky, what? we were sold.

and because i love signs from the universe that everything is as it should be, i was reminded the last time we visited the germantown commissary to eat that the owners love to brag their barbecue is so good ‘you’ll slap yo’ mama.’ my poor mother is going to be in bad shape when this is all said and done.

**i am willing to entertain requests for kinds of pie, since we’ll be having so many. if there’s a particular kind of pie you love, let me know and i will try to have at least one for you!

so it’s been forever and a day since either one of us have updated this thing. i guess it was kind of ridiculous to think that we could handle our (more than 40 hours a week) jobs, plan a wedding, do some traveling, maintain some other websites and still have time to blog about the whole thing.

the most important update i have for now is WE HAVE A REALLY AWESOME WEBSITE, which you should all check out:! i’ve been working to teach myself how to do web layout and design. i knew i didn’t want a one-size-fits-all wedding website, so i tried putting my newly acquired skills to work by building Blue Suede I Do’s from scratch. it’s not perfect, but i was at least able to mold it to do what we needed to do, which was provide details on locations, hotel accommodations, registries, etc.

before football season took off, we got a few other things taken care of. we’ve secured the services of an awesome photographer, whom i worked with in chattanooga and absolutely adore! (she’s getting married soon too!) we blew through a session with the florist to pick out flowers (i’m not sure i remember what they look like). i purchased a dress which arrived two days before thanksgiving (i’ve been scared to try it on). we arranged for an awesome dj to handle the reception (a friend of a friend). we’ve registered for gifts (not as much fun as this shopping fanatic expected). we’ve blocked off hotel rooms for our guests (but not yet our own wedding night room). we’ve decided on a honeymoon locale (i’ll let you in on the location soon). we’ve also knocked out a few smaller decisions/tasks.

i hope, hope, hope we can get back to updating this blog regularly. i do want to share some more details about our awesome vendors and share a bit more about the wedding planning process. until then, today’s Pearls Before Swine comic strip that had us both giggling …

(click strip to embiggen)

i stumbled on this the other day and actually remembered it from when i was a kid. if grover knows what he’s talking about, this marriage stuff can’t be that hard! :)

so we ended up getting my first choice in churches for the wedding ceremony, St Mary’s Catholic Church
in downtown Memphis. sure, we could have gotten married at Holy Spirit, the church I where I grew up, and I would have loved that because that church means a lot to me. BUT, it’s quite a ways out in East Memphis, and I wanted our guests — particularly the ones who aren’t a member of my family and haven’t spent much time in Memphis — to have the pleasure of seeing downtown. plus, while Holy Spirit is pretty in its own simple ways, it’s hard to argue with the beauty of St. Mary’s for a wedding ceremony:

the sanctuary is large enough to accommodate all of our family and friends, should they decide to join us. the church is two blocks or so from the main st. trolley line, along which are countless hotels (of varying prices) and restaurants. couldn’t ask for more!

well, not true. we’re asking that the air conditioning work, which it didn’t when my uncle got married there last summer :)

it’s been so long since either one of us has posted it took me five tries to get my password right. tap, tap … is this thing on?

don’t confuse our lack of posting for lack of wedding planning. quite the opposite. since we last posted we’ve done the following: settled on the locations, arranged an officiant, come up with a wedding party, tasted and agreed on dinner and dessert offerings and figured out who our photographer will be. we’ve talked flowers, djs and wedding coordinators (to help with the actual day), although we haven’t made those arrangements just yet. oh, and i bought a dress and a veil! and if you can believe it, the veil arrived at the bridal salon today. we don’t get married for 11 more months, and already i have a veil. phew. oh, and we’ve managed to do this all while moving into a new house, making multiple weekend trips and taking a two-week road trip. masochists? i think so.

my aunt judy said this weekend it seemed like we were way ahead of the game, but i can’t help but feel that we’re behind. considering the fiasco of trying to set a date 14 months ahead of time, i feel like we’re behind on anything that hasn’t been arranged already. i also feel the deadline of UT’s football and basketball seasons looming, and anyone who’s familiar with what i do probably knows i only have time for work, eating and sleeping during those times. fortunately we’ve gotten a lot done because several of our decisions have been easy, and robert and i agreed on much of what we were doing without any debate.

wedding planning has been, well, interesting. i’ve enjoyed some of it, like thinking about the ceremony and talking to our officiant and dreaming of the barbecue and pies — yes, PIES — that we’ll be enjoying during the reception. despite my known love of shopping, i thought i was going to hate trying on dresses but i very much enjoyed that. much of the rest, like flowers and tablecloths i don’t think i could care less about. i mean, all i really want to do is get married to robert, see my family and friends, dance, eat good food and, well, be married. so i have a hard time getting excited about some of the details.

i also suffer from a syndrome i like to call ‘just tell me when and where and how much and i’ll be there’. i think i get it from my dad. i’m not good at planning things. i’d rather have someone else who knows what they’re doing and loves planning things to do it for me and tell me when to show up, where to show up and how much money they need to make it happen. i know there are wedding coordinators who fit this very description, but i’m also ridiculously frugal. i don’t mind spending money, but if there’s a way to save it, i will, so the only wedding coordinator services we’ll be employing is way closer to the day of.

anyway, that’s a small update. i have grandiose plans of doing posts on our venues, the food, the dress (or as much as i can share without tipping off robert), planning the ceremony and our officiant over the next few weeks, but i’ll try to sprinkle some more posts with my personal thoughts about the wedding and marriage. and i’ll try to prod the groom to do some posting, seeing as he’s not actually working right now.


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