Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just had to share

Brandi Thompson is a rockin' awesome photographer that we were lucky enough to meet up with a couple of times for photo shoots. She's made some banners for us to post on the web that directs people to her site, and I just had to share my favorite!

Yes, that's me and Jason!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My new 'do

I cut my hair about a month ago and was too lazy to get pictures up right away. So here they are, even though I bet my readership has dwindled to 2 readers on a good day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The moment I've been waiting for...

Danielle is in labor! We're headed to the hospital shortly to meet our new nephew. Apparently we got the call last night, but had crashed early due to getting up early yesterday for a boxer fund raiser. Good thing she's not supposed to give birth until this afternoon/evening... I would have been really sad if we'd missed it.

Logan Thomas Fitzgerald, come meet Aunt K.C.!

Update 11:51pm - what a beautiful baby boy. He's going to be so spoiled rotten!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A new challenge

Yesterday, we picked up our new foster boy, Boo, from the Lewisville shelter. We are excited to have another dog to help, and look forward to helping this cute face find a forever home.

This time, though, things will be a little different. The white Boxer we picked up yesterday is deaf! Believe me, we have yelled and screamed and clapped our hands behind his head. No dice. So what's neat about this situation is that Jason and I will be learning doggie sign language and teaching it to him so we can communicate to each other.

Oh, just because he can't hear doesn't mean he can't speak! Deaf dogs don't actually lose their hearing until about 6 weeks old, so in his first month and a half of life he definitely learned to bark and whine to get things/attention. It's a funny bark, halfway between a laugh and laryngitis.

The first night went better than expected. We put his crate in the middle of the living room so he could see Buffy and Sabrina while they slept, and maybe be less scared. Though he did paw and chew at the crate, and bark intermittently through the night, we were actually able to get more sleep than the first night we had Jenna!

He's a good sleeper once he's out though. Because he couldn't hear the garage open or the door slam when we came home last night, we actually had to stomp our feet so he could feel the vibration in the floor.

This looks to be an interesting experience, and we are ready to accept the challenge!

Meet Boo. White Boxer puppy. 6 months old. Needs a neuter and a vet eval to see if he needs any other treatment. He's full of life, and loves to play ball :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Life and such

Still looking for a job. Mine seems to get more annoying by the day. Maybe it's the people. Maybe it's the rude customers and their "Southlake mentality." Either way, I need more money, and more paid time off!

Jingles got adopted this weekend to a wonderful family in Weatherford who has a huge yard for him to play in. So glad he's home. In a way I want to jump right into the next one since I know there are so many who need help. But in a (selfish) way I want to take a few weeks off and just enjoy being a family of 5 - me, Jason, Buffy, Brina and Rocky. Guilt may get the best of me, though it will be hard to make sitting/boarding arrangements for the 3 weekends we are planning on being out of town between now and the end of September. Probably best to wait it out, and that's what I think we'll aim for - unless we're the last resort...

Can't wait to see my family next month!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dear Jason,

Tonight we had a discussion about kids and families. About how some people we know are getting married but have no plans to conceive. About how we'd love to start a family in a few years. While I don't want to wish away our years "alone together" (and I'm so surprised how quickly our first year of marriage has flown) I really do look forward to that time when we're financially and emotionally ready to begin trying in earnest. I'm also very grateful that God gave both of us good heads on our shoulders to realize that now is not the time.

This weekend as we threw a baby shower for your sister, it got me thinking about babies (or maybe it was the babies in this house that made me think about it) and how I've known pretty much my whole life that I wanted to be a mom some day. Knowing that you too want kids makes me so delighted.

I see the way you love on our dogs, and how well you do with other children in our families. And I look forward to having your children, because I know you'll be an excellent father.

I'm not ready for our adventures as a couple to be over, and there are a million things I still want to do together with you, but the imagining, in the meantime, makes me giddy with anticipation of what's to come. I can't wait!


[I would like to revive this blog at least somewhat. Don't know how long it will last. Here's to a good running start.]

Monday, June 23, 2008


Lately I've been in kind of a funk about some things. Namely, my lack of a real job and therefore, the lack of funds in our bank account. No, we are not broke. Yes, we can pay our mortgage and other bills just fine. No, we're not reduced to eating scrambled eggs at every meal. I guess I am specifically lamenting our lack of disposable income. Which is ironic, since we aren't on a budget and just dropped $60 for a new DVD player.

Jason's grandparents, parents, aunt and uncle are all leaving on Wednesday to go to Europe for 10 days. The primary reason for the trip is the wedding of a distant cousin of the family, but aside from that event they will also be quite the tourists, country-hopping, sightseeing, shopping, gorging on amazing cuisine.

Jason and I are not going on this trip. Instead, we get the privilege of house and dog sitting. Watering plants. Taking in mail and newspapers. I'm happy to do it, since I know that some day we will ask for the favor to be returned. But yesterday when we went to the grandparents' house to learn the alarm system and where everything is kept, we got to talking about all the trips that Jason's grandparents have taken in their 60 years of marriage. And the more we talked, the more I could feel myself turning Hulk-green. I'm sure the jealousy was leaking out of my pores and into a puddle around my feet. Bahamas, Switzerland, Hawaii, and tons of other places I'd love to go.

Couple those emotions with watching The Bucket List last night (where they climb the pyramids in Cairo, see Mount Everest, dine in France, etc.) and it put me in quite a slump.

I know that in less than a year of marriage, and less than two years out of college, Jason and I aren't supposed to be rich. We are supposed to be "barely making it," held together by our love in a tiny one-bedroom apartment on the wrong side of town. And we are way ahead of that curve. We bought a house for goodness sake! We pay all our bills on time, with money left over, and we are not hurting for food or fun. But somehow, that's still not enough for me.

I want to travel with my husband. See all sorts of things together and share new experiences. The one thing my dad keeps stressing is that we need to see the world before we have kids (which is not happening any time soon, God willing.) But how can we do that if I'm making less than 20k? I'd love to go on a trip for our first anniversary, and it's something I started looking into a few months ago, looking for deals, exploring our options. But after spending almost as much on a new air conditioner as we did on our honeymoon, it seems that our anniversary will be spent in the appliance section of Home Depot, picking out our new range. No tropical drinks and gorgeous sunsets in our forecast.

I'm trying very hard to keep in mind all of the wonderful things we do have, all the blessings in our lives. I'm also trying hard not to "wish away" these first years of building our life together. I know that in time, things will improve - I'll find a better-paying job (a whole 'nother topic altogether) and we will keep paying our debts until we pay off our credit cards. Some day, we will take exciting family vacations. We'll leave the kids with their grandparents and take a romantic retreat somewhere breathtaking. But for now, I'll just have to settle for daydreaming.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Dropping $1300 for a new air conditioner is not conducive to taking a trip for our anniversary...

Monday, June 2, 2008


Today we paid off the remaining balance of the Kay credit card that had our wedding rings on it! Who wants to go shopping ;)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's new in the Williams household? Well... an actual household!! Jason and I are currently in full swing of the house buying process. I'm still in shock myself, waiting for the panic attack I'm sure to have any moment now, but here's the story (the more I tell it, the more real it becomes.)

Last year when we moved to Fort Worth, we signed a lease at our apartment complex for three months. We figured it would give us (ok, me) time to find a job and then we could focus on finding a house. Only I never really found a job. Nevertheless, we went with our realtor (a longtime family friend of Jason's parents) to look at a dozen or so houses. We found one or two that would have been nice I'm sure, but nothing that made us drool, or want to go into major debt for. So we decided that we would sign another lease with our apartment complex, and try again in another year. We wound up moving to a bigger apartment across the property, and here we've been for 10 months now.

The new year rolled around and we knew that we wanted to try, try again to find a house. So off we went with Jarod the trusty realtor on our second installment of drive-bys and walk-throughs. This time, I had a better job (though still not a career) and so we went a little higher in price range. And we were shocked to find even less than we did this time last year! Every house we looked at had something wrong - missing appliances, foundation issues, washing machine hookups in the kitchen, etc. We didn't even make it inside one of the houses because the neighbor was feeding his 10 foot long python a big fluffy white rabbit - ON THE FRONT PORCH. So we quickly moved on.

Just when we had resigned ourselves to signing yet another lease (at an increased rate thanks to the bastards running our complex) Jason spoke with his dad about a house that he was renting out. Turns out the tenants' lease had ended and they were paying on a month-to-month basis. A lot of phone calls and a visit to a mortgage company later, and it looked like we might be able to buy the house from Jason's dad.

The most recent developments have come in the last 48 hours. Jason's dad called the tenants, told them the situation and gave them 45 days to vacate. Then he had Jarod send them a list of other properties for rent in the area. To clarify, Jason and I are not trying to kick them out or anything. We want them to have as much time to find a nice new place. After all, our apartment lease isn't up until the end of March.

Well, the tenants called Joe back today. Apparently they are looking at moving into a rent house right across the street! And what's even more unbelievable is that they are thinking they can be out mid-February. So it looks like the house we were planning on having in April may be ours in the next two weeks!

As for the apartment, Jason's dad is going to pay our last month's rent if we decide to move in Feb/March (it's cheaper for him than having to pay mortgage on a house no one is living in.) Since we get a month's grace period of paying nothing on the house from our mortgage company, we can move in any time starting this Saturday and not have to pay anything on the house until April. On top of all of that, Jason's dad is paying all of our closing costs AND Jason is getting a raise starting this week!

So there's our crazy house story. It happened all of a sudden, and while I'm scared to death, I'm also really excited! Who's up for a housewarming party?!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Vendor review: Focuslight Productions

[Wow, it's been awhile since I wrote last. Partly because I've been enjoying the married life, partly because of the holiday rush, and partly out of sheer laziness. But what better time to pick things up again than the new year? Hopefully I will get back in to the blogging speed I was at a few months ago.]

Hiring a videographer was something that Jason and I went back and forth on several times. All we wanted was a record of the ceremony, plus the important things like first dances, cake cutting, etc. and we couldn't seem to justify shelling out a whole lot of money for something so basic. So we finally decided that if we weren't sure we wanted it, the decision was made for us - no videographer.

During the time when we had contemplated hiring someone, I contacted several people I found online. No one over-the-top professional (read: expensive) but I thought maybe I could get a good deal from someone starting out a business who didn't have much experience. Since we were looking for bare minimum anyway, we figured even an amateur could set up a tripod and film the entire ceremony without too much hassle. We probably would have done this ourselves if a) we had a video camera or b) we had someone to work said camera. But we realized that once the wedding actually started, we wanted our families and guests to have fun - not to be behind a camera the whole night, worrying about if what they were doing was good enough.

In the end, it happened suddenly. I had spoken to Chris Campbell, a student at the Art Institute of Dallas, a few months prior. He showed me some little things he had done for classes, and the work was pretty good, especially considering he was still learning. But then we decided not to hire someone and I put the whole thing out of my mind. Then at the last minute (and I'm talking the Wednesday before the wedding) he emailed me out of the blue to see if I still needed someone. I thought that was very professional of him, and given the fact that our guest count was smaller than we planned for, we had some extra budget to play around with. So I emailed him back and said "sure why not" and two days later, there he was at the rehearsal, with his assistant, getting a feel for the venue and for us. We literally didn't meet him until after we'd hired him.

We just got our DVD in the mail this week, and I have to say I am impressed. There are three components - a highlights chapter, a ceremony chapter, and a reception chapter. The ceremony and reception ones are pretty self-explanatory as to what they encompass. The highlights chapter is only a few minutes long (actually it's as long as me and Jason's first dance song, since that's the music he put this chapter to) and it encompasses everything from pre-ceremony picture taking to ceremony and reception shots.

While the DVD wouldn't pass for something done by Spielberg, it's exactly what we wanted and it's perfect for us. Here is what we got for the $200 check we wrote Chris:

* Both Chris and his assistant came to the rehearsal and were there for the entire length of the wedding day.
* They did all filming and editing of the footage that they took.
* We got the finished product on DVD, and will shortly be receiving all of the files on disc for the purpose of backups. (There was a small typo on our DVD, so he's fixing that for me and sending me another copy. So technically we will have two copies.)

As you can see, we got an amazing deal! If I ever need video in the future, I won't hesitate to call Chris at Focuslight Productions. And I won't be surprised if his rates go up as he gains more experience in the film industry because as it is, he's worth more even now!

Final grade for Chris Campbell and Focuslight Productions: A

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vendor review: Mega-Mix Sound Systems

Jason and I knew that we wanted a DJ, as opposed to a wedding singer or a band. We knew that we'd want a wide range of music and the best way to get that was to hire someone who had access to all sorts of music.

Juan and Gil are brothers-in-law who both have other jobs. They DJ in their spare time for fun more than for profit. They had also previously worked at the Abbey, which was a big selling point for us because they knew the environment, as well as how to find the place!

This was the only DJ company we met with. The price was right, we got along great with them, and that was really all that mattered to us. I went a little control crazy and wound up pretty much dictating to them all the songs I wanted played and not played. If they had followed the list I gave them, they wouldn't have had to do anything except show up and load a playlist. After I realized that I wanted something more than an iPod could give me, I emailed them saying that they were free to disregard my list (except for the special dance songs) and make decisions based on how the crowd was responding.

These guys did a terrific job! They encouraged everyone to dance without harassing them. They did an amazing job reading the crowd - if people sat down when one song ended and another one came on, they had no problem changing it 10 seconds in if it meant the new song got people up again. We actually ended the reception early, but I didn't mind in the least because it was due to everyone having so much fun dancing that they wore themselves out really fast.

For the ceremony, I made a CD of all the songs I wanted to have played, including the classical music that played the 30 minutes before the processional started. Then I wrote a list of each song and it special instructions (fade when bridal party is at altar, only play from :54 to 1:28, etc.) and passed that on as well. That was all they needed to run the music for the ceremony, and because our DJ was able to take care of it, we didn't have to hire someone for a 30 minute time frame (of 10 minutes of actual work.) There was a small incident when a song played at the wrong moment, but our pastor fixed it by saying loudly "Let us pray," and the music was quickly turned off. Honestly, I didn't even mind, and I still don't. A story for the kids, I suppose.

Juan and Gil were so amazing, they even kept an eye on time the whole evening, updating me and Jason on how things were going (according to the master schedule I had sent everyone.) Because of this I didn't have to hire a coordinator, which saved me even more money. Don't be afraid to ask your vendors to take on additional tasks - providing they are capable of doing so, and you feel comfortable passing it off on them (if you are going to be more worried about it being done right than you are going to be relieved someone else is taking care of it, spend the money. No amount of budget friendliness will make up for stressing about jobs you've passed off to others.)

A++ for Juan and Gil and Mega-Mix Sound Systems!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vendor review: Hot Chocolates Bakery

Typically, brides agonize over every decision, second guessing themselves and exploring a million different avenues. If there's an option, they'll consider it.

While that was the case when picking a design, when it came to Jason and I choosing a baker it really was a piece of cake! (har har) We only met with two bakeries, and we had two very different experiences. First, we went to Hot Chocolates in Hurst. For this, we set up a private appointment where we got to sample different cakes, fillings and icings. We got the undivided attention of Becky, one of the co-owners, and she really talked to us about the wedding and what we wanted. She showed us books of different cakes that they had done before and we talked about what it was that we wanted, what they were capable of doing, etc. I even kicked Jason out of the room so I could talk to her about an idea I had for the groom's cake. Since I don't like strawberries, but love the little bride/groom chocolate dipped idea, I asked her if it would be possible to use Oreos instead. I thought it more fitting since that's Jason's favorite cookie :) Becky said it would be no problem. We left the meeting with assurance that we were all on the same page and were all happy.

The other bakery we went to was Creative Memories, also in Hurst. This company runs things differently in that they don't do private appointments. Once a month, they host an open house where they bake up a storm of different cakes and whoever wants to talk to them is welcome to swing by some time during the day to sample cake and discuss their vision. While the cake was good, the service was not so hot. Jason and I went in and got some cake (assembly line style) and then asked if we could speak to someone about our wedding. It took them awhile, but finally someone made themselves not busy and we discussed our ideas. I kicked Jason out again to ask about the Oreo idea, and after the lady I talked to had to talk to someone else, I was told that they wouldn't be able to do it. Honestly, I was shocked. I wasn't asking them to do anything absurd - it's not like dipping Oreos is that different from dipping strawberries! The fact that I was flat out told no didn't sit well with me. To top it off, when I got home I did a price comparison between the two companies, taking into account the design, how many people it would serve, and what my money would get me. Hot Chocolates turned out to be the better deal, even with the added cost of the Oreos!

So back to Hot Chocolates we went. I knew I wanted a vanilla bride's cake and a chocolate groom's cake, so it really was a matter of picking which combinations went best together. We wound up with yellow cake/vanilla cream filling/buttercream icing for the bride's cake, and devil's food cake/fudge icing for the groom's cake. I sent them pictures of what I wanted for each design, dropped off our cake topper, and let them do their thing. And I could not have been happier with how everything turned out.

On top of providing two amazing cakes, they also gave us boxes, one for each cake tier, just in case there was some left over (there was, but not anymore!) They also left an instruction sheet on how to cut and serve the cake (our caterers were the ones who did that) and how to save our top tier so it keeps and doesn't get freezer burned so we can enjoy it on our first anniversary.

I give Hot Chocolates an A+ rating. The only thing I would have changed is the vanilla cream filling - it tasted fabulous, but I would have liked it to be a thicker layer in between cake tiers. I was thinking it would be kind of its own mini layer, but it was more like just enough to hold the layers together. Something that could easily be taken care of by being more specific, and it's really not that big of a deal - in fact, I keep looking for a reason to order another cake from them because what they made for us was so amazing!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Vendor review: The Country Abbey

I knew that I wanted an all-in-one wedding venue where we could have both the ceremony and reception. Jason's sister got married at a place like this last summer, and I saw how much easier it was compared to other weddings I'd been to where you go one place for the ceremony and then have to travel elsewhere for the reception. I think by keeping it in one location it really unifies the ceremony and the reception into one grand event instead of two separate ones.

The first thing we did after getting engaged was make a rough guest list. This way we could know when talking to venues what size room we would need. We only visited a handful of places, because there really aren't that many all-in-ones around here (more on that later) and we narrowed it down to a few. In the end, The Country Abbey won out because of a combination of staff, services and pricing.

I can not say enough about how wonderful the Abbey staff is. I worked mostly with Elaine and Naomi, who is the owner. The phone number for the Abbey is Naomi's cell phone, so even if she wasn't at the Abbey when I called, she would still answer the phone. The best part about the Abbey is that we got to hire all of our own vendors. Some people might find this to be too much work to take on having to meet, hire and keep track of so many vendors. To this I say it really wasn't that bad. We were able to find the vendors that worked best for the vision we had for the wedding, at the prices we were comfortable paying. It turned out to be only five vendors - the catering, the cakes, the DJ, the flowers, and the officiant. We got to choose exactly what foods we wanted, exactly how we wanted our cake to look, what kind of musical vibe we were going for, the flowers that we liked, and the person who got to marry us.

Oftentimes, venues partner with certain vendors and require their brides to use them. For example, Danielle's venue, The Mediterranean Villa, required the use of their in-house catering. That meant all the food, bar and cake decisions were made based on what the Villa already offered. Be careful about venues that require you to use a vendor, because it can really limit your wedding to the talents already on staff. I've heard stories of other brides loving a venue, but being eh about the food or the bakers to choose from. Some venues offer you only one choice, usually an in-house company that works exclusively for that venue. Others give you a list of vendors to choose from, which could wind up only being a handful of each type (usually the venue is getting a kick back for referring you so that's why they force you to use their lists.) If you do come across a venue that has a vendor list, you should be free to see the list and talk to the vendors before making any type of a decision. Jason and I went to one place who wouldn't let you contact the vendors until you'd put down a deposit for their venue. Needless to say, that was the last time we've spoked to that venue!

The Country Abbey wound up being exactly what we wanted. At first, I was a little nervous about the size of the guest list, but in the end it was perfect. We were free to decorate how we wanted. We were able to use some of their decorations free of charge. For brides who need a little more help, they also offer coordinator services as well as different decorating packages. Naomi is always available by phone or by email. She's very helpful, and very knowledgeable about the wedding industry and how to really help brides out. She's creative, but she'll let you do your own thing if you have something in mind.

I give The Country Abbey a solid A. [The only reason I took off the + is because there was a scheduling issue that came to light two weeks before the wedding. Luckily, we were able to resolve it, and Naomi threw in extra time free of charge to make up for it. Everything worked out, but it was unnecessary added stress. I'm just glad we were flexible enough to work around the issue or it might have been a lot worse.]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Vendor review: Jerod Foster Photography

After getting engaged in December, we decided that we would have the wedding in DFW. As much as I wanted to get married in Houston, we knew it would just be too hard to plan long-distance, especially if I was also in the process of looking for a job. I knew that toward the end of the planning I'd be commuting to Houston every weekend, and we quickly realized how expensive that could get. So we setlled on DFW and began looking into doing engagement pictures. We thought about where we would like to have them taken since we knew location was a big part of any photo shoot. We had moved to DFW in the beginning of the year and I really didn't feel like it meant anything to me, or to our relationship. Of course the logical choice was the Tech campus, because that's really where our relationship was formed and nurtured. So we began talking to wedding photographers to see what we could come up with. Initially, we were thinking that we would do engagement pictures in Lubbock, my bridal portraits in Houston (since we were living so close to Jason's family, I wanted to involve my family in as much of the planning as possible) and then the wedding in DFW. We talked to a few DFW photographers who had packages that included all three shoots, but everyone we talked to threw out pretty hefty traveling charges (one guy flat out refused to travel, which is totally understandable since it would essentially mean 18 hours of round-trip travel for maybe 4 hours of shooting time.)

So we contacted some photographers in Lubbock about doing just our engagement shoot. While the pricing was mostly decent, it still seemed pretty high for an hour or two on campus plus a disc of images. Honestly, photographers make the most money on their packaged deals, so to do just a single shoot for us, it really wasn't economic unless they upped their prices.

Then I got the idea to talk to Tech professors. I contacted a few photo profs, as well as some people in the Mass Comm college who taught photocommunications, to see if any of them did photo on the side as a hobby/small business. I also emailed a few students studying PhotoComm, thinking maybe they'd want to offer a good deal in exchange for using our pictures in their portfolios. I talked to the guy who does most of the photo work for Tech - I'd actually met him while working at the campus computer store because he was friends with my boss. He suggested one of his students, a guy who is somewhat an assistant to him in teaching some of the classes. I got in contact with Jerod, and we had plans to meet on the Tech campus one Saturday in March to play around and take some photos.

I was so impressed with the results! For $200 we got Jerod for about three hours, and he wound up taking over 400 shots. We showed up in formal wear (the red and black) took some photos, changed into nice casual (the purple) took some shots, then changed into our Tech shirts and took some in and around the stadium. Jerod was great with posing us, but also he let us try some things that we had in mind too. It was kind of anything goes. A few weeks later, we received a CD in the mail of the 64 best shots that he had taken, and they were all in high-resolution. They turned out really well thanks to his fabulous camera. We took the disc to Walmart to get prints done, and they were so cheap! We definitely saved money this way, as opposed to having to buy copies from a third party.

I highly recommend that anyone in Lubbock who needs photos done (of any kind) talk to Jerod. If we hadn't already booked a wedding photographer when we hired him, we would have asked him to do it because he was that good. If you're not in Lubbock or if you can't get in touch with Jerod for some reason, I encourage you to check out your own local resources. College kids, especially those in their junior and senior years, really do have a lot of skill in the area they're studying, and will definitely be cheaper than professionals with lots of experience, often with just as much talent. You may even be able to work out a deal of some sort where you exchange something other than money for services (trading trades, if you will.)

All in all, I give Jerod an A+ because the whole experience was so wonderful. It took him a little time to get back to us, even after leaving him several messages, but it all got figured out (just remember he's a teacher/student, so if he's off in the middle of nowhere on an assignment, he may not have cell phone signal to get back to you right away!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The first of many

I will be dedicating this milestone, my 100th post on the subject of our wedding, to the things that I did right throughout the planning and the big day. I guess the following is a list of advice that I would give to any couple planning a wedding.

1. Stay organized. As soon as we got engaged I started accumulating all sorts of wedding things, like pictures of dresses and swatches of fabric. I wanted to stay on top of all the crap I knew I'd be collecting, so I used a big binder to keep it all in one place. That binder became my wedding brain - I took it to all of the meetings I went to so any contracts or info sheets could go into the binder right then and there. I attended a bridal show that gave out a wedding planner packet, but it would be just as easy to buy folders/dividers for each section of the wedding (attire, vendors, registries, honeymoon, etc.) so that when you need something, you know exactly where it is. I also kept extra notebook paper in the back so if I was meeting with a vendor or needed to make a list, I had a way to do it quickly. The binder was an easy way to stay organized, and I could grab it on my way out the door knowing that everything I needed was already in it, which helped avoid a lot of mad scrambles to collect things from multiple locations.

Being organized also includes things like detailed schedules and timelines. Everyone laughed and made jokes about my four-page itinerary, but I guarantee the wedding went as smoothly as it did because everyone knew exactly where they had to be and when. Vendors didn't clash because they anticipated what the other vendors were doing. Everything was on a list; everything was labeled. Here's a secret: I didn't have a wedding planner, or even a day-of coordinator. Everything at our wedding was done by friends and family, and it only came together because everyone had a specific role and list of duties.

2. Early is on time; on time is late. No matter who you are and how many promises you make to stay on top of things, you will inevitably wind up taking on more than you can chew. This could easily backfire into half a dozen projects being partially done the night before the wedding, thus inducing those bridezilla-at-2-in-the-morning fits we all see on TV. The best way to handle this is to do things early. Take those checklists you can find in any magazine and do as much as you can. Anything you can do now, do it. Anything you can't complete right away, make a rough draft. If you can't write up an order-of-ceremony until you talk to the officiant, go ahead and design the rest of the program pieces, such as acknowledgments, quotes and other blurbs. That way, when you get a chance to meet the minister, you can decide on something, plug it into you draft and send it off for final approval all in the same day. Start a running checklist that you can keep adding to when you remember new things. Create a rough timeline of the weekend so you know how much time you have to play around with when you start making final plans with vendors.

I remember looking at my to-do lists about 4 months out, wishing there were something I could be doing on that list to get it checked off. I really was at a standstill for awhile because I'd taken care of everything. I did wind up taking the week before the wedding off so I could run those last-minute errands (things that could not have been done earlier) but even then the week wasn't that hectic because my to-do list was reasonable to accomplish in the time frame given. Not everyone is so lucky to take two weeks off work like I did. If this is the case for you, imagine doing a million wedding things on top of a full week of work. Now imagine scolding yourself because so much of your stress could have been avoided by getting those things out of the way sooner. Now go do those things!!

3. Don't expect a miracle. Always anticipate that something will go wrong, and be ready to roll with it. Buffer in extra time between every activity, so if there's unusual traffic or someone forgets something at home, there's still plenty of time to get back on track. Also, be realistic in your expectations. No one can be in two places at once. No one can make cheese and crackers into a four course meal. Know your vendors, their capabilities, and their limitations. Same for your wedding party. Have a backup plan for the what-ifs. Know when to fight for things and when to let them go. Remember that the big picture isn't the wedding, but the marriage.

A week before the wedding I got an email saying our venue had double-booked us for our rehearsal and dinner. We changed the time and pushed everything back an hour. There was an air show that we didn't find out about until it was pretty much happening, which significantly increased traffic and decreased the availability of hotel rooms. Thanks to quick thinking, neither of those turned into a crisis. And because of the hotels being completely booked, our plan to use the room the girls had stayed in the night before, to do hair and makeup, was dissolved. So we moved over to my mom's hotel, which had been booked for that night as well, and wound up having more space. There was a moment in the ceremony where the music played was wrong. We forgot to bustle my dress (which I tripped on going up the altar stairs) before our first dance. The bartender didn't pour drinks into cups so there were cans everywhere. We paid for extra reception time and then cut the night short. But we got married, which was the ultimate goal, and it was still the most fabulous day of my life. Period.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A masterpiece

I'm so proud to be Mrs. Kandace Williams! The entire wedding weekend was so wonderful; we honestly could not have been more blessed. Jason and I spent the last 8 days aboard the Carnival Conquest enjoying each other's company and we had a blast soaking in all the perks of being newlyweds!

There are so many things in my head that I want to make sure I mention, but for now I think I'll keep it short and sweet:

Thanks to everyone who played a role in our wedding, whether as a member of the wedding party, as a family member, or simply as a guest. I could say a million words and still be at a loss for how to convey the gratitude and love we feel for all of you. We were absolutely humbled by the generosity and support that poured out for us. The deck is definitely stacked in our favor with all of you behind us and our marriage.

It's now been 8 days and we have only seen a small handful of pictures from the whole thing. I set up an account at where you can add your pictures to the collection. The login ID is bunnwilliams and the password is wedding. Please please help us out by sharing any images you might have in your possession.

Thanks again to our friends and family. We are blessed beyond words and we love each and every one of you so very much.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A million little pieces

So it's less than 48 hours until my wedding. Am I a sobbing wreck? No. Am I stressed? No. Am I nervous? No, though everyone keeps guessing that I am and telling me not to be (seriously, my florist kept telling me I was nervous. I think I would know!)

What am I then? I'm excited! Excited that we are finally packed for the honeymoon (save for things like cell phone chargers and toothbrushes.) Excited that 3 of 4 wedding party members are on their way from Lubbock right now. Excited that my family will be here tomorrow.

What am I doing? Going over the packing lists I've been putting together for months to make sure I have everything (even though I checked it off as it went in our bags!) I'm also about to get in the shower. And I'm helping a friend find a hotel. Yes, that's right. My friends are very last-minute people. Romie didn't pack until tonight and Kevin, Zach, Shawna and John don't have a hotel yet. I could let it bother me, but they're never gonna change so why hold my breath? Don't get me wrong, I love my friends to death, but whatever happens is a result of their unpreparedness and the only have themselves to blame.

OK enough rambling. Time to move on to something else.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's been one week since you looked at me...

Holy crap a week from right this minute I will be in full bridal get up awaiting the signal that it's time to meet my handsome groom at the altar!!! I can't believe how fast it all seems to be going now, even though a few months ago I wished it would hurry up!

I'm done with work until we get back. This week I will tie up all loose ends (there aren't that many) and then focus on getting good sleep and eating well since I know that'll all go out the window on our honeymoon cruise :)

Eeeeeee I can't wait to see everyone in a week!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

No amount of words

First and foremost I want to wish a very happy birthday to Jason. I'm so glad that he came into my life, and it's so weird to think that for his next birthday I will be signing my card to him "From Mrs. Williams!" I thank God every day for being blessed with such a great guy and I look forward to sharing another million birthdays with him in the future :)

In other news, it's ten days until the wedding! With less than two weeks to go I'm still not stressing out. Tomorrow is my last day of work and then I have over a week off to get everything done, so that may be a huge reason why I haven't yet turned into Bridezilla. Of course, something like STILL not having all the RSVPs in is irking me, but I refuse to let it turn into a problem. I still have time to figure everything out that I'm working on, so it's whatever.

We got a very unexpected gift yesterday and it makes us appreciate what we have and will continue to have when we get married. Our families are our backbone and we couldn't have done any of this without them. I am just so lucky to be gaining more family members that I care about, and who care about me, just as much as my own family.

And the most exciting news from today: we got our marriage license! It's so authentic looking, with black scrolly writing on a yellowed paper. We just have to wait three days for it to process/clear, so we are golden. I will try to get a picture of it up soon.

Happy birthday to Jason again. God I'm a lucky girl.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A single score (as in four score and seven years ago)

Well friends and family, this is it. We are down to the final 20 days. I am starting to get excited! People keep asking me if I'm nervous, but why would I be? It's not like after dating Jason for 3.5 years I'm all of a sudden going to realize I hate him. Does that really happen to people? Well, I mean people in real life (*ahem* Burke and Christina!)

Though I'm starting to get a little busier putting together last minute things, I think going through everything, packing it up, labeling it and writing specific detailed instructions helps me double check that everything is in order. It also helps me de-stress, believe it or not. Our dining room is beginning to get piled up with boxes, which is a good feeling to see all the crap that won't be returning with us (well most of it won't at least.) I have a few little projects left to tackle, but if I don't get to them it's not a big deal.

This week we move into Danielle's house to house sit for her while her and Thomas are vacationing in Florida. While it will be nice to play house for 10 days, it kind of puts a damper on organizing wedding stuff in my spare time. So that's why I'm trying to take care of so much of it today and will continue chugging away tomorrow after work. I'm taking everything out, setting it up on our dining table, taking a digital photo of how it should look, and including that photo in the box to make sure when Jason and the boys set up, they can zoom through things instead of worrying what to do. As it is, Jason has banned me from seeing the reception room on the day of the wedding, so when we get announced and enter the reception, don't be surprised if I'm paying more attention to decorations than to you all. That will quickly pass!

On another note, RSVPs are due this Friday. I was hoping to get them all in by now, but it's my fault for making the date so late in the timeline. There's a very slight chance that we might be able to get away without a seating chart, but only if everyone we haven't heard from is a no. My biggest fear is that we would have enough seats for everyone, but somehow there would wind up being a single empty seat at each of the tables, and a dozen people without seats. We will see what happens Friday (ok really, we will see what happens Sunday when I call everyone I didn't hear from - I know it's going to happen because people these days don't bother to RSVP!)

I need to get my dress cleaned. I need to choose which bridal portrait to blow up to display at the reception (my sister and I have narrowed it down to two, now to make a final decision.) I need to drop the cake topper off with our baker. And I need to rob a bank to scrounge up the rest of the money to pay off the caterer and DJ and pastor, who all take cash or check only. Oh, and I need to pack for the honeymoon! In the meantime I'm house sitting, spending next weekend in Lubbock (be there bitches!) and attending the renewal of vows of Jason's aunt and uncle. Oh, and I have to clean the apartment so when we get back from the honeymoon it will be nice and tidy (with gifts piled everywhere, which will make it seem like a wreck.)

Thank God I took off the week before the wedding!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smile for the camera

Yesterday I had my bridal portraits done. I want to say a huge thank you to my mommy who made the trip up from Houston to be there with me. Larry did take a few of us together at the end, and I can't wait to see how they all turn out!

One really nice thing about yesterday was that it was a sort of dress rehearsal for the big day. I have to say that I felt very pretty in my complete bridal outfit, but there will be some changes made with regards to scheduling, that's for sure. We started out a little late which shouldn't have been a problem, but everything took longer that it should have, and we got stuck in major traffic, so we wound up being almost 30 minutes late to the Japanese Gardens. In the end, we only lost about 15 minutes because we took some pictures after the gardens had closed, right outside the gift shop, where we were technically not in the gardens but in an area that still had a little bench and a waterfall and such. Thanks to Larry and Jill for staying a little late and waiting on our late butts.

The biggest issue of the day were the flowers. I went to pick them up from the florist, and they pulled this dusty pink and light purple bouquet out of the cooler. I was like um that's not mine but it had my name on it. Lucky for me they really wanted me to be happy, so they literally took apart the entire thing and I dug through their flower supplies in the back to show them exactly what I was going for. I'm still not sure where they got that pink was one of my wedding colors, or how they went so wrong considering I had multiple meetings with them, we specified exact flowers and colors, and I even brought lots of pictures to illustrate what I couldn't describe in words. Not to mention we have a contract that explicitly states all of that. They did manage to fix it though, and it looked fabulous. I took lots of pictures of the new bouquet and plan on sending them in to make sure that we don't have an issue like this on the wedding day (they'll be delivering the flowers to the Abbey, so we won't have the luxury of a fully stocked shop to fall back on. They kind of get one shot at it next time.)

All in all, the experience was positive. Now I can't wait to see how they all turn out! Sorry guys, you won't get to see them until after the wedding. A girl's gotta have some secrets! How else do I make you all breathless at the sight of my beauty on the big day?!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The race is on

Well, friends, guess what. It's exactly one month until the wedding. People keep asking me if I'm nervous, and honestly I'm not. What's there to be nervous about? Emotions that I am feeling are excitement, anxiousness and impatience. I am so excited that Jason and I are taking the next step in our relationship and starting our own family. I'm anxious to see how many guests we will have on our special day, and I'm impatient because I want it to be here already!

Last night I sat in the living room watching Bridezillas and putting together stuff for the reception. Maybe it's just that I don't have ridiculous expectations, but people like that always make me wonder "why is he marrying her if she calls herself a princess and only cares for herself?" Seriously, the wedding I watched last night involved a glass slipper carried in on a pillow, a dramatic reenactment of the groom trying the slipper on all the wrong feet (a la the bridesmaids) and a trumpet bray as he finally made a connection with his Cinderella!

My mommy will be here tomorrow because I am meeting with the wonderful couple Jill and Larry of Larry Reynolds Photography for my bridal portraits! Yesterday I took my dress out of its garment bag, hung it up, gave it a good once-over with the iron, and blocked the room off from all directions so Jason can't enter. I even hung signs that say the penalty for peeking is death! In all serious though, I'm proud to say Jason has never even hinted at peeking. He knows how much it means to me and so he's doing his part to avert his eyes until the wedding day.

Now I'm down to working on the last-minute details - tying ribbon on the ceremony programs, creating a checklist, drawing up a master timeline of the day, and fudging a seating chart (hard to do when you have less than half the RSVPs - please send them back to me NOW! No really, I'll wait while you go to your mailbox...)

Yesterday I confirmed and paid for the rehearsal dinner. I met with a piercer who helped me take the bar out of my industrial in favor of clear retainers so the piercings won't show in pictures. Having previously booked our dolphin swim in Cozumel, I am now awaiting some transactions to go through at the bank so my poor self can book and pay for our zipline tour in Jamaica and our private charter in Grand Cayman. Then the cruise will be taken care of, except for packing!

I'm still trying to stay on top of everything so my last week as a single gal can be spent having fun with friends and family instead of working out things that could have already been done. At this point it's all in the details. Anything that doesn't get resolved or pan out won't really matter to me because it won't affect the wedding as a whole. Now we are working on sprucing things up to make what we have nicer. Sometimes I fantasize about what I would do differently if I could get all my money back and start from scratch. I know it's not productive, but it's all the more incentive to stay together for the purpose of implementing my other ideas into our 50th wedding anniversary extravaganza!!! Not that we need something like that to keep our marriage together though...

Tomorrow I will get to see what my bouquet will look like for the first time. I'm going in early, so anything I don't like can be fixed and I can have it just like the vision in my head (however faint it may be.) Then it's off to get my hair done like I did during the trial, but this time she will do my makeup as well, which we didn't have time to do last time. It will be the first time I see the entire look put together from the veil to the shoes. I'm excited my mom will be here, I'm excited to see how I mesh with our photographers, I'm excited to head out to the beautiful Japanese Gardens again, and I'm excited to soak up a few bridal moments before it all goes back where it came from for a few weeks. I guess you could say this will by my dress rehearsal. A time to figure out any problems that might arise and how to combat them. Bring it on!

Sorry this is so long. I'm obviously excited about everything that's coming together! Pretty soon we will be seeing all of you all dressed up and looking lovely :)

Kisses to all!