Monday, December 24, 2012

Noel, Noel, The Angel Did Sing....

Well, Christmas is upon us and yet another year is about to come to a close.  How quickly 2012 flew by.  I cannot believe we're about to enter a new year already.  It feels like just yesterday we celebrated the year 2012 and I had so much to look forward to this year. As 2013 approaches,  here are the things that made 2012 a memorable one.

1:   My oldest was in his last year as a primary school student, a very older 12 year old boy/man.
2:   My daughter was finally turning 5.
3:   My youngest son no longer a preschooler.
4:   My daughter taking her very first trip on an airplane to the USA!
5:   A nice family mini vacation (albeit sans my princess).
6:   My new job!
7:   My upcoming nuptials and all that that entailed (bridal shower, GIFTS!!!, bachelorette party, Serenata       and rehearsal dinner with family and friends).
8:   My wedding day (of course)!
9:   Our honeymoon!
10:  A 2012 Christmas (surviving the much talked about 12/21/12 Apocalypse.

Yes it was a memorable year, like so many before.  BUT this was a really busy year for me and my family.  It is the year I finally became a wife after all and married the man of my dreams and the father of my three beautiful and wonderful children.  It's a year I will never forgot, that is for sure. It's also the year my daughter will forever remember as it was the year she took her very first BIG trip without us to the great America. It's a year that my family will remember too, as many of them came to Costa Rica for the very first time.  It was a year filled with amazing things and some hardship as well.  The year started out, for us, on a bad note but really picked up as the months came and went.  We hope the year will end with a good bang and looking forward to seeing what 2013 holds for me and my family.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wedding Expectations

So while the wedding exceeded my wildest dreams, there were still some things that were unexpected, as is the case with any large event.

First off, there were the inevitable no-shows.  However, there were also the inevitable people who don't RSVP but show up anyway, so it balanced out perfectly.

There were more kids than I planned for...but again, that balanced out itself as some of them were too happy and excited to eat (my own 3 kids skipped out on dinner after filling up on candy and appetizers).

Things did not go as planned and it was still all good.... no one would have known (well, except for the hour late start).

I peed on my dress.... OOPS! LOL

I ripped my dress... a minor rip than can be fixed.  BUT everyone LOVED it and all the girls kept coming up to me and telling me how I looked like a princess.  Thanks girls.

I wanted to make a personalized thank you speech that I typed out and then misplaced.  So I just spoke from the heart, with tears flowing.  It was more organic and real and so much more me.

I hadn't planned on or asked anyone to make a toast, people just knew to do that. They are all sweet and perfect.

There was thankfully enough alcohol.

I hadn't planned on spending so much money but my simple wedding was an extravagant affair that left guests in awe.

I wanted to take more photos of myself and of me and the groom.  But my relaxed attitude the day off made me too lax to care.

I forgot to video tape.  Well, I didn't forget.. I had my camera.  BUT hubby's friends were supposed to videotape and they forget to get tape.  I have no footage of the ceremony (which was funny and sweet and oh so perfect) or the reception, except for a few images of people eating... a quick video we asked hubby's cousin to capture. That is the ONE thing I would change if I could: get some damn video footage.

I wanted a warm, sunny day: what I got was an overcast and rainy one.  Thankfully it was just sprinkling  not a downpour and it was noticeably and thankfully warmer on my wedding day than it had been days prior.

I misplaced my sister's Nicholas Sparks reading and my personal vows.  Glad I did though (my vows) as I was too emotional to really speak and broke down when saying my I Do's.

The candy buffet was a hit and miss.  Kids started eating the candy even before we got there.  No one took candy to go in the personalized bags I had.  But it was all pretty much gone by the end of the night and so in that sense, the kids enjoyed it.  I wish they had taken some home in the bags though.

I am not sure how the cocktail hour snacks were set up... I didn't get a chance to see it or taste the goodies. They were all gone by the time the ceremony and receiving line was over.  I am glad people enjoyed it though.

The money dance was nice but not what we expected at all.  However, our gift table was overflowing, which was also something we were not expecting.

The decor and the food were both magnificent... exceeded our expectations.  The centerpieces were a 1000 times better than we could have ever imagined and guests raved about the food.

It was quite simply, the wedding of my dreams.

Wedding Week Wackyness

It was a crazy week leading up to the wedding so I wanted to kind of do one blog before I did individual posts about each event.

The weekend before the wedding saw me running errands and getting all the important information I needed for the officiating lawyer.

Monday the 19th, I had a facial, which left me relaxed and my skin as smooth as silk.  I am hoping I can do this more regularly.

Tuesday the 20th I paid my florist bill and met with baker to finalize details. I also made a Yamuni pit stop. My sister in law made it into town.

Wednesday the 21st, I had to shop for Thanksgiving.  Yes, amid all the wedding craziness, I decided to also host and make Thanksgiving dinner for my out of town family.

Thursday the 22nd was Thanksgiving Day and the arrival of my uncle and aunt as well as my mom, step-dad, 2 brothers, 2 sisters and 2 nephews.  It was a FULL house. Thankfully, my uncle and aunt were only stopping by as they had a hotel room booked for their one week stay.  I also had to make my final payment to reception venue. It was a hectic day filled with cooking, cleaning and errands.  The food was delicious though...and the turkey was a huge hit.

Friday the 23rd was my bachelorette party (more in detail post coming soon).  It was also the night of my Serenata (pics to follow).  I also had to take my sisters and mom for their fittings, attend my massage appointment (I actually feel asleep), pick up rental items and pay baker the final payment.  It also marked the arrival of my grandma, my uncle's wife and my cousin and her husband.  Everyone from out of time had finally arrived.

Saturday the 24th was hectic.  I had to get my nails and pedicure, have my hair washed, blow dried and flat ironed, pick up table linens from the caterer, and just basically get everything organized and packed up and finish every last minute detail.  I am so thankful I had help.  It was a late night.

Vendor Review

Soon I'll have to post pictures.... but I wanted to review my vendors first.  I had amazing vendors.  And all are budget friendly.  They truly went above and beyond to make my day amazing and a simple thank you just does not seem enough.

GloboFiesta Catering:

I cannot say enough good things about Alejandro and Salvador.  What an amazing company and team.  As I blogged before, Salvador was the one who sought me out and along with his boss, Alejandro, was willing to work with me and my budget to give me what I wanted in a price that was accommodating to my wallet.  The food was top notch, the service was amazing and the waitstaff so friendly, I got comments from guests about how much they loved everything.  I can't wait to use this company again one day soon. A++

Maria Selva Flortisteria:

The very first vendor I booked turned out to be my best vendor experience.  She not only worked with my budget but even gave me more than I asked for.  She went above and beyond to make sure the bouquets  bouts and centerpieces looked amazing.  When I met with her, I gave her my budget, which was already pretty low.  But when I told her what I wanted included in that budget, she was more than willing to make it work.  The centerpieces were more than what I expected or could have dreamed about.  She was even willing to change around a few last minute details so I could get her to not only set up the centerpieces for me, but to deliver them as well.  Amazing person, amazing vendor. A+++

Transportation: Jorge Hernandez

A last minute addition to the budget, I am so glad I was able to squeeze this in: it allowed us to provide a  ride for our guests that needed one to the ceremony and reception.  The bus was spacious, airy and very comfortable and guests appreciated the thought and gesture.  And for the price, I won't complain.  I do wish they had decided to provide transportation in the price from the reception for guest who needed a ride home, but se la vie.  A

Pasteleria La Familia Bakery

As a local family owned bakery, I didn't expect much from this vendor: just a decent tasting 4 tiered cake with simple decor.  But the owner went above for me and actually delivered and set up the cake at the reception for me at o additional charge: now that is how you get repeat business.  I saw the cake for the first time at the reception and was very happy with the result.  The actual cake was pretty good too, although a little on the drier side so not as moist as the one I tasted. Guests indulged though and I heard no complaints. For all his hard work I was very happy with the outcome.  A

Foto Digital Madrigal

Can I review a vendor even before I see their finished product.  I have yet to hear from my photographer, after he told me he would contact me just 3 days after the wedding.  I have not had an email or a phone call and I still have to pay $60 (not paid until I get my pictures).  I have been waiting and waiting and even sent an email but have not gotten a response.  I figure they are busy and it does take some time to  print and edit pictures to a professional standard.  So I wait.  However, I will review the photographer's actual service, which was outstanding.  He showed up on time (early actually) and needed no direction.  He got right to work taking detail shots, candid shots and a few posed shots as well.  He was quick and efficient,  a true professional and took any pictures I wanted.  I didn't even notice him during the ceremony until after the I do's.  And at the reception, he got right to work with the formal shots.  His ideas were funny and cute and sweet and I know the shots he got will look great.  Also, before he left, he let us know he had gotten all the shots he needed but wanted to make sure we were Ok with that or if he should stay some more. I hope we did get a lot of pictures.  A for service.

Eventos Don Carias:

The space alone speaks for itself but the owner stepping in to lend us a helping hand was unexpected.  Everyone loved the space.  So looking forward to renting this space again.  A+++

Eventos San Antonio:

Again, the space alone speaks for itself.  People were literally blown away.  The massively high ceilings and huge columns lend it to something out of a magazine.  There was more than enough space for diners and dancers alike; did not feel cramped at all.  The owner was pretty stand-offish and allowed us to do our thing. Even letting us get in a little earlier than usual to decorate. I would rent this space again.  On a side note, I was a little miffed when I went to make my final payment as I found out that indeed, kids under 5 would have to pay if I was getting them their own seat, a very important detail I was not informed off.  It worked out in the end but the extra dough I had hoped for went right back into the budget.   A+++

Discomovil Energia:

What can I say about our DJ. Well, he did his job and people had fun.  BUT he was a little bit of a disappointment because he did not follow my dance hall song list.  He played typical music that typical Costa Ricans love but I wanted more of a dance hall club feel and he didn't deliver...not until my brother went in to lend a helping hand did he get it right.  He also did not take directions well at the actual reception; for instance, when it was time for dinner, it took his assistant a long time to start the dinner music playlist.  I had to tell him many times to do this as he kept playing dance music.  But he got the entrance song, the first dance and the cake cutting songs correct.  And when it came time for the dollar dance and bouquet and garter tosses, I just went in and did my thing so he could follow my lead. C

Officiant: Alberto Poveda

I have to be thankful for this guy.  He stepped in at the eleventh hour to the rescue me after my original officiant bailed... thankfully she found him as my replacement and he did his job.  He was very helpful in showing up to the rehearsal and allowing us to sign the documents there instead of at the actual ceremony. He seemed to take directions well and was willing to let us do anything we wanted to personalize our ceremony to our liking.  He was also very detailed and gave me a list of everything I would need and was very communicative by email before the wedding.  On the actual wedding day though, he seemed very nervous (like it was his first time officiating an actual wedding) and I had to cue my family for various portions of hte ceremony, like the reading, candle lighting and ring blessing.  He did his job though, keeping the ceremony short and just as sweet.  B

Staioner: Calle La Margura

We did all our own stationary and had everything printed up at a local print shop (with the exception of the programs) in this infamous area in San Pedro.  With a plethora of look alike shops offering similar services, this one stood out.  They had everything printed up the same day for us.  And when they ran out of our preferred paper, they went looking for more, saving the day when they found some right in house. A

Wedding Planner

I did not have an actual wedding planner but I did have a day of helper/coordinator.  Hubby's cousin gave me one the best gifts ever by agreeing to be my wedding helper for free.  And she did an amazing job too.  She isn't a professional by any means but she did a damn good job and saved me $300 bones. She kept everyone organized, kept track of my personal belongings, got the processional started and helped clean up the ceremony site.  She was even on hand at the reception,  in between enjoying her time as a guest, for anything I needed.  She and I are actually thinking of going into business together... we're that good. A+++

Yakira Hair Salon: Guadalupe

I LOVED my hair and makeup trial but hated the price.  I was not as happy with my hair and makeup on wedding day.  Don't get me wrong, I looked great.  But it was definitely not the same.  Maybe it's  because the person who did my hair and makeup at the trial (owner Yakira) did not do my hair and makeup on the big day.  But I was happy with how quickly I was done.  And in the end, I was still a smoking hot bride.  Also, I got my nails and pedicure done at the same salon and was hugely disappointed.  The nails took all day to dry which meant they got messed up by the end of the night the night before.  Luckily, they were fixed the day off but they still weren't what I was expecting.  I will never have my nails done at Yakira's again... the style they use and the product they use is not something I would recommend   I have had my nails look 1000 times better on a regular day than they did for my wedding. C

Onix Ropperia (Grooms outfit)

This store saved the day in a BIG way  After hubby's suit fail, this store was able to work with him on super short notice to find his suit, shoes, shirt, belt and a jeweled color in the blue that matched the wedding color. They also gave him a really good price and allowed us to pay for the suit and pay only a portion for everything else, giving him time to pay the rest at a later date.  Hubby was stunningly handsome at the wedding.  With a quick alterations to the pants the day we bought them, the suit fit perfectly.  On a minor note: I accidentally threw away the jeweled collar and so he never got to wear it the day of the wedding. A

Clinica Ropa Nani

The lady who outfitted me and my bridal party gets 2 grades (one for the girls and one for the guys).  For my dress, she gets an A (I LOVE my dress).  It was tulle perfection and I felt like a princess.  However, she didn't alter the dress like she was supposed to so it was a little big (however, that is mainly my fault for losing so much weight).  For the bridesmaids dresses, she gets an A.  The dresses were all gorgeous and all my maids look beautiful.  However, she failed to take in 2 dresses, after being repeatedly told to do so.  Oversight on her part maybe... she was super rushed after my sisters fittings.  But for my bridesmaid C's dress, she had a few weeks to handle that alteration and still didn't do her job.  As for hubby's suit fail... well, FAIL!  And I still had to pay for it. She also made an extra bridesmaids dress (which is why I had to spend more money on material s for the vests.. BIG oops).  I am not sure if all the stress of my wedding got to her. Also, all the groomsmen's vests were tight.  She really dropped the ball.  She gets an A for the girls and a D for the guys.  Overall grade C-

Registry List: Yamuni

Oh, the troubles I went through with this store.  Very accommodating but I had complaints from guests on multiple occasions about my list not being updated and the store people not being helpful.  They finally got it right after my third trip but it was just unnecessary time I had to take to fix an issue they should have dealt with on their own.  I like all the selection they have though and the varying prices for items.  B

Aquileres Everest: napkins and chair covers

I am glad I took hubby's advice and rented chair covers.  It brought the whole look together and made the reception that much more elegant.  Napkins was something I decided to rent at the very last minute and I am glad I did; I just did not think paper napkins would have given me the right look I was after.  The white cloth napkins brought the decor up to a standard that was pure elegance, worthy of a magazine spread.  The whole room was so refined and beautiful and I know without the chair covers, it would not have looked so wonderful.  The all white chair covers, white table linens and napkins made the blue and silver table squares pop. A


I had my facial and massage done by a friend (I am guessing since I got the number from her) of my hair and makeup lady.  The facial was relaxing and worked wonders for my skin and the massage was just what I needed right before the wedding.  Also, the lady is super nice to boot.  A

Newly Weds At Last!!!!!

We are finally married and can I tell you what a relief it is to be finally done with wedding related planning and STUFF!

I feel great, different somehow in ways I cannot explain but good different.  Our relationship has taken on a new level of importance that is just hard to put into words.  We have been together 14 years and as soon as we said our I do's, I felt a shift in our lives; we are in it for the long haul, as we have proven but this time, there is no turning back.  Marriage lends a sort of definite finality to our lives now.  We are complete as a couple; we have the kids, the house and the dogs and now being married has made it all REAL!

Now, we've been 'married' for some time but are reveling in our newlywed status as legally wed man and wife.  We have settled into our new relationship, as if it is a starting point to our new lives together.  We're more conscious of our actions towards each other and are trying to start off our married life on better footing; no mean spirited fighting (we can hope).  And more mature conversations when we're upset.  At least we have to try for the sake of the kids: my daughter was so happy that after the wedding she asked my husband (wow, what a rush to say that and actually know it's for real):

"So dada, you love mommy now?"
"Of course, I always loved mommy"
"So, you're not going to fight anymore?"

Heartbreaking a little bit, yes.  We're real.  We show our kids the fighting and the making up and all of the love and affection that comes with a normal relationship.  But I think we need better tools to handle our anger with each other and at least not have those drag out fights in front of the kids.

Now, on to the actual wedding and day!  What a surreal feeling it was to finally be a bride and not just a bride to be anymore.  And when I finally became a wife, it was like chocolate pieces on top of a sundae. It was heaven.

We started the day off early.  I had a lot to do the final week leading up to the wedding, and also dealing with family that flew in a few days before that were staying with us (all 13 plus people under one roof: YIKES!).

I had to decorate and set up two halls, ceremony and reception sites, so I took my two brothers and little sister as well as my sister in law and older son.  With so many people on hand, set up was a breeze (minus a set back at the reception site when we set up the wrong tables and chairs and had to re-do set up again AND my sister in law and son having to drive home to retrieve more chair covers).  The ceremony set up was literally 30 minutes (if that).  We set up chairs, the unity candle and table and the cocktail hour tables and linens.  I decided to forgo any other decor as the site on it's own was just beautiful and the pom poms I had in mind was too distracting and not forming how I wanted them to.  The owner volunteered to set up the goodies for us when it came time so we left all the snacks and platter with her.

I was able to set up and decorate to my liking and then we were off.  I had a hair and makeup appointment to go to and was accompanied by my brother.  It took a while to actually get in the makeup chair as the lady was late but I used that time to fix my nails and toes, which got ruined the day before.  Hair and makeup was quick and I was outta there and on my way home.  And as it turned out, was not only on time but was early. My girls were late getting to my house but the photographer was early and used his time well by getting a few candid and detail shots.  While I was relaxing, family arrived for the the bus to drop them to the ceremony and I busied myself with pictures and some video.  I guess I was too relaxed as I let the time get away from me.  By the time I realized the hour, it was time to get into my dress and for the bus to take family and friends away... so we ended up running late.

The ceremony was perfect: but we had a few hiccups.  We were an hour late... more people than I anticipated showed up...  I never got a glimpse or a taste of the cocktail hour snacks...  It was drizzling and I could not find my vows or my sisters reading.

Oh and we had some last minute music consultation as I stood outside waiting in the rain with an umbrella. See, the person in charge of the music never made it to the rehearsal so I had to clue him in on the how to's: he was a pro and did very well.  Also, the morning of the wedding, hubby's cousin had to fix the music for us, which he did with perfection.

In the end, we (or I) decided to skip all the extra stuff and just get down to business.  The recessional was a huge hit with our guests.  Everyone was clapping and hooting as each person recessed down the aisle.   When it was my turn, accompanied by my uncle,  a last minute decision,  I could not hold back the tears.  I got a nice, loud round of applause. And I felt all the love coming towards me from everyone.  It was also the first time seeing hubby that day since the evening before... and he had a story to tell all his own on his chaotic start to the morning.

We kept it short and sweet: with a brief welcome, a short Bible reading by sister in law, the unity candle lighting and the blessing of the rings by my aunt and grandmother.  There were moments of tears and of course, being me, laughter. After the vows, we kissed and the room erupted in applause and shouts of joy.  I only wish I had some video footage but it will forever be held in my memory that is for sure.

Everyone LOVED the ceremony and the space   But we had so much more in store for them later at the reception. We did have an impromptu receiving line and a few pics but not all the pics I had hoped for.  However, the ceremony was exactly how I wanted it and I could not have asked for anything more.

After getting to the reception hall 15 minutes early, we did our entrance to the Party Rock anthem and hubby and I danced our way in, followed by our first dance.  After months of working out a timeline,  I ditched it in the end for a simpler, more relaxed evening.  We skipped all other formal dances, which made for a better time and smoother transitions.  We did have lots of formal and informal pictures at the reception and hope I get all the pictures I have dreamt about for months;  after going over the shot list for weeks of all the pictures I wanted,  I decided to just go with the flow instead of direct the photographer 

The night went by in such a haze,like a dream but I was able to enjoy my night and every moment, especially after my first alcoholic drink (and my last LOL).  The DJ spun some tunes but didn't use my song list very much. It wasn't until my brother got him to put some dance hall did I feel like moving and grooving.  After dinner, which was delicious,  I kind of just turned it all over to the guests and enjoyed the rest of my night.

We had the dollar dance, which was OK (we didn't make a lot of money but it was nice to keep that tradition anyway).  But to my surprise, the gift table was full and overloading. We also did the bouquet and garter toss, which was better than I expected;  lots of single girls and guys who were actually scrambling to get both; glad I did.

After the party was over (and everyone had their fun... for a Sunday night, it seemed like people didn't want to leave), we sent the centerpiece floral arrangements home with guests who could not stop raving about them. Soon it was time for us to clean up.  We cleaned up pretty quickly with the help of my siblings and a few friends and were able to get all our decor, the centerpiece glassware, all napkins and table covers  in an hour and half (the caterers helped clean up too by taking the linens off the table; they also cut up my cake and set up a self serve style station)

All in all, it was the perfect wedding and now I am actually considering going into the wedding planning business.  It is actually fun. And I love planning and decor.  Everyone could not stop raving about the decor, the food, the flowers, the colors, the halls, everything.  I felt like all my hard work had finally paid off.

The icing on the cake for me and hubby: after everything was over, hubby and I got to enjoy a blissful night as a newly wed couple in a super luxe hotel room with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries as husband and wife.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gettin' Sh!!!t Done

Finally finished the ceremony programs and they look amazing, if I do say so myself.  A few trial and errors getting the font and sizing just right but other than that, piece of cake. I know most people think programs unnecessary, but I just love them.  They add something extra and since no one has ever been to a wedding here with a program, I think people will appreciate them. To save on the 'unnecessary' cost, I only did a few and printed them at home.

Spanish side

English side

After I finished the programs, I decided to tackle the seating chart and escort cards.  I always wanted to do something unique for my escort cards, not just the same tent folded cards that you see at every wedding.  However, my unique idea had to be cost effective.  My original idea was very cute but logistically time consuming. The idea came to me to use the left over Popsicle sticks as my escort cards.  Not only is the idea unique, but it was FREE and easy.  

Escort 'cards'

One side has the guest's name, the other side has the table number. Genius. Side note, the seating chart was not as hard a I feared, although it was not as easy as I thought either.

I was on a roll so I decided to go ahead and knock off a few more items off my do to list. I needed to wrap up the attendants gifts, so I decided to get the items I needed to do that.  I spent like $3.  I got construction paper to make my gift boxes (a simple tutorial on you tube... about 15 minutes to make 5). I also got wrapping paper and tape. 

Gift box all packed... and tied with yarn. ready for my bridesmaid.

Bridesmaids gifts: earrings and bracelet to wear day off.

All done

Bridesmaids tank tops

My gift for my grandmother and Hubby's mom to wear day off.

Groomsmen socks

All the gifts wrapped up and ready to be gifted!

The pink bag holds my daughter's flower girl gift: 2 headbands, one with rhinestones, the other with a flower. Also didn't get a picture of my son's socks, but they're in there too, wrapped in the same paper as the groomsmen.

tank tops wrapped up with tissue paper.

Relief Has Come

I feel like the weight of the (wedding) world has lifted off my shoulders. I feel as light as a feather.  I FINALLY tracked down ALL my guests and got my RSVP's in. I was so sick last week I was unable to do anything at all, much less wedding stuff.  I wanted to make up for lost so. Well, Friday, the night before the RSVP's were due, I decided to track down most of my guests and got almost everyone to confirm their status on whether they would be attending our wedding or not.  By today, I have all my RSVP's and I can submit my final count to the hall and caterer.  And with all the rsvp's in, looks like I'll be saving some money after all.... never thought I would be so happy with hearing the word NO.  With all the worries about being over budget if more people decided to show up than I budgeted for, it's a relief to know that I'll be under my expected number of guests.

Some of the rsvp's did surprise me though.  Some people I thought would not come, decided to say yes to our wedding.  And people who said they would come will be missing out on our big day. I still have not heard from a handful of people but I decided that with just under 2 weeks left, I cant worry about stragglers.  If they can't pick up a phone and call or send me a text, then I am just not gonna worry about them. If they do decide to show up, well... not sure what they should expect.  But what they will get is what they deserve: no reserved seats in their honor and no food to warm their bellies.

With just under my expected 150 guests, I will be saving money with my hall (I pay per person and budgeted for 150 people, minus kids under 5). Also, with less guests, I will need less tables so my floral bill will be smaller.  Hoping to allocate the extra money to delivery and set up for the florist. I'll also need less chair covers (with less chairs), so I decided to use my savings and rent linen napkins.  The one place I won't be saving money: the caterer.  I still have to pay for the contracted amount of people.  I am hoping though that my caterer can work with me so I can move the money from the extra plates to something else we can use, like unlimited drinks or more appetizers.  If we can't do that, then me and 14 other people can at least  have seconds...LOL.

So here's the breakdown:
Total number of guests: 131
Total number of adults: 91
Total number of teens and tweens: 22
Total number of kids under five: 18 (important because I don't pay for them at the hall).

I am also happy to report that with less number of guests, I won't have to pay extra for me, Hubby, our kids, and our vendors that will be at the wedding (people I originally did not budget for in the 150 guest count).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Candles, Candles Everywhere

Or more likely, a few candles here and there...LOL.  I wanted candles at my wedding.  I love the look and romantic feel of a dimly lit room, with glowing candle light everywhere.  Just beautiful.  And the weddings I have seen with candle light are breathtaking.  It's a pretty budget way to make your wedding look and feel glamorous.

I wanted votive candles on each table with our name and wedding date on them, so they could double as favors as well decor.  I originally budgeted for 4 votive candles per table so that each family could take a votive or two home as a keepsake.  However, looking at the budget and trying to cut costs where ever I could, I decided to just do 2 votive candles per table instead.  I cut my candle decor budget in half and still get the look I'm going for.  And it's not like my guests will go home empty handed; we have other favors for them to take home, mini favor boxes with a sweet treat inside.

Now while a lot of the brides I have talked with on line seem to hate favors of any sort unless it's something edible, I still subscribe to the idea of a take home favor.  Whenever I attend an event like a baby shower, bridal shower or wedding, especially a wedding, I kind of expect a favor that I can take home and have as a keepsake.  While edible favors are fine (I end up saving those chocolates in my freezer anyway), I still feel like my wedding would not be MY wedding if I didn't have some sort of favor for my guests to hold on to. I just hope my guests like them and I hope we'll have enough for every family to take with them.

The Weight Of A Wedding On My Shoulders

With a little less than 3 weeks to go, I have run into some issues.  Trying to get on the ball and get stuff done has proven to be challenging at times.  I see my to do list getting smaller but there is still so much left to do, I want to just give up and call it a day.

The first issue we ran into was with Hubby's suit.  The same seamstress who made my dress, the bridesmaids dresses and the vests for the groomsmen also agreed to make Hubby's suit.  That turned out to be a disaster. Hubby hates the suit and refuses to wear it.  So not only do we have to pay for an ill fitting suit that hubby will never use, we have to find him another suit and pay for that as well.  Good thing I already found him a place where he can get his suit... I just hope he finds something he likes.  It is just too close to the wire right now for indecisiveness.

Another issue that worries me is our budget.  I thought I was doing so good with our budget but the little additions are adding up and my job is not bringing in as much funds as before (seeing as I have not been working the last few weeks). I just hope it all works out in the end and will leave it in God's hands.

Third issue, I am sick.  I took one day off because I was too sick to even get out of bed.  But that one day cost me: I had so much to do and still have so much to do, I can't afford a day off.  Now things are piling up and I will have to get things done ASAP.  I do not want to be running around day of the wedding like a crazy person.

And the final issue that is making me really worry: we have no officiant.  Yes, you heard right.  With no one to actually marry us, we cannot have a wedding. This sucks. I had an officiant, a friend of mother-in laws cousin that was going to do us the honor for a price that sure was too good to be true.  Well 2 weeks out and it turns out said officiant cannot marry us afterall.  Not sure why or what happened as I keep getting different stories from different people (she is too busy, she is sick, her father is sick).  However, she will get us another lawyer/ notary public to marry us for the same price, so I hope we can get that settled as soon as possible.  I am not sure why she waited until the appointed time to let me know this, as I have been calling her for the better part of a week with no answer.  I could be upset but I am too sick to even stress (and it might be stress that got me sick even though up until now I thought I was pretty calm.)

I just want things to go as smooth as possible the day of the wedding.  Of course, not looking for perfection but just a nice, fun day for my family and friends to enjoy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pura Vida Weddings

I have to say, planning a wedding in Costa Rica does have it perks. First, the vendors here so much more relaxed.  They have your time, date and deposit.  They have the info so they don't harass you about final payments; most don't even want you to pay them anything until a week out and many don't require a final payment until the day of the actual event.  This gives me more time to save.

Second, Costa Rica is a naturally beautiful country.  And lucky for us, nature will be in her full glory in November with lush greenery and full grown trees that will offer a beautiful backdrop to our day.

Third, prices here are so much more accommodating   Speaking with other brides all over the world on the internet makes me so thankful that I'm having a Pura Vida wedding. I had sticker shock yes, but I cannot believe some of these prices other women are paying for their wedding day: $100 p/p for food and drinks, $2000 venue rental fees, $3000 for photography, $500 officiant fee for 30 minutes of service, $1000 church rental fee, $800 for car rental for a few hours and the list goes on and on.  Also, while there are true budget brides out there much like myself, it shocked me to see what other brides considered "low" budget: $15,000 is barely enough to get you what you want without sacrifices and many compromises.  I cannot imagine. Even ten grand would have given me the wedding of my dreams and then some.

I know there are brides here who can spend a pretty penny on their weddings just like those in the States; there are super pricey vendors here as well.  But the majority of women are like me, planning a wedding on a  tight budget and there are plenty of vendors that cater to our vision on a smaller price point.  All inclusive venues starting at just $14 p/p for everything, photographer packages from $400, and NO venue rental fees. My vendors are all budget friendly, a fact that I love.  Without them, my wedding would not be possible. I am sure I would have found budget friendly vendors in Boston as well, if I was faced with that dilemma, but I know for a fact, I would have had to compromise and sacrifice even more.  I would not be having the wedding I am having now, not without some kind of miracle.

The Magic "Wedding" Bus

When I was younger and dreaming of my wedding day, I always thought I would have a limo to transport me to the Church to get married.  Weddings and limos just seemed to go hand in hand to me.  I lusted after the Hummer limos, grand mansions on wheels, and envisioned myself riding in one someday.  Fast forward to my actual wedding day in a little less than a month and I will not be having a limo at all.  Am I disappointed?  No, and here's why: I decided early on in the planning process that I did not need a limo, could not afford the limo of my dreams and really, aren't limos like, so last decade?

I still wanted something though, after all, how would I get to the ceremony (not at a church by the way).  Hubby and I will not be seeing each other until I walk down the aisle to say our vows, so traveling with him was out of the question.  Plus, I wanted to be able to travel to the ceremony venue together with my girls; a nice pre-wedding bonding moment on the road to the alter. I saw so many other brides fore-going the limo as well in preference for either their own vehicles or "party buses and trolleys".  Neat idea, I thought.  With a micro bus, I could also transport my guests who are in need of a ride to the ceremony and reception.  This way, I get more use out of the rental transportation, which means more bang for my buck.

I went about doing what I do best and started researching all the options available out there for micro-buses (basically those mini buses that transport school kids and tourists in Costa Rica).  They are spacious and will do the job. The first company I spoke with was charging c15.000 colones for pick up and drop off only for 15 people.  At first I thought this would work as I would only need transportation to the ceremony.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that was too much for too little a time, plus I decided I wanted to transport guests as well.

By chance while on the highway, I saw a micro-bus and jotted the number down to call.  Speaking with the owner put all my worries to rest.  He told me they charged c50.000 colones for their 15 passenger bus for all day, no matter how many trips; c60.000 gets you a 30 passenger bus.  I made an appointment and went with hubby to check out the buses and we were really impressed.  They were spacious, clean and just what we were looking for.  We decided to book the 30 passenger bus for just c10.000 colones more and paid our deposit on the spot.  Cannot wait to ride in style on my wedding day...and our guests will be really impressed as well as appreciative.

We forgot to take a picture of the actual bus we're renting but this is a similar version, a very close look-alike just to give you an idea.

Guest List Nightmare

I talked about wedding worries in a recent post but I think I missed one big worry that keeps me second guessing my decision on a daily basis.  Yes, we all have things we worry about, especially when it comes to planning big events, like a wedding.  I do worry about money.  We don't have very much of it and so we have to pinch every penny to make it work.  Having a budget has been like a joke since I've pretty much blown past it.  I never thought I would be THAT girl, the one who sets a strict budget (because I had to) and then go over it.  I always wondered how people went over budget on weddings.  It should be simple: get what you can afford to get and forgo the little extras. Well, I was on target for the wedding until I got ambitious with the honeymoon.

Let me back up by explaining what "on target" meant.  I set an initial budget when I started planning and was fine with all the sacrifices I was making as long as I had a wedding day: no DJ, no transportation, wedding in the backyard to save on costs, etc.  Well, I just couldn't come to terms with some of the things I was giving up and decided that I would add to the budget to include the extras I wanted to have.  Increasing the budget was easier said than done; it meant more work to try and see where I could compromise and more money I had to save.  My new budget was more than what I wanted to spend but I was happy with.  But like I said, a really nice honeymoon is something I think we deserve, so I said, to heck with the budget.  Our honeymoon will be our one big splurge and it won't even happen until 2 weeks after the wedding.  Technically, we're still on budget, but in reality, we're not.  What to do now... hope it all works out.

Now even with that hanging over my head, it's not even my biggest worry.  My biggest worry that makes me second guess myself is the guest list.  I have heard horror stories from other brides about how stressful the guest list can be.  I thought it was a joke.  Now I see why.  The guest list is directly linked to the budget, i.e money. The more people you invite, the more $$$ you have to spend.

I budgeted for a 150 person guest list.  I know most people say that you should never invite more people than you can comfortably afford to host.  If 150 the number you can afford, then 150 should be your max.  But I know there is a chance that not everyone you invite to your wedding will be able to come.  People will decline and inevitably there might be a few no-shows.  I needed to make sure 150 was what I would end up with. I know for most couples, having declines to your wedding is a good thing; it means more money in your pocket, savings that could go to other things.  For me, less than 150 people would be a loss.  I have already paid for 150 plates of food, contracted enough seats and tables for said amount and table arrangements to go on said tables for said amount of guests.  It would mean I would LOSE money if only, say 130 people showed up to our wedding.  So with that in mind, I decided to pad the guest list in the hopes that if I invite more people, even with declines, chances are I'll still end up with 150.

Here's the problem with that thought process.  What if all the 190+ people I invited decided to attend?  What then.  I cannot afford to feed them.  I cannot afford more centerpieces, tables and chairs. I can only comfortably and realistically host 150 (155 max).  Yes, I put myself into some deep water and I hope I can swim out.  I pray I get the decline rate I need.   I pray it all works out in the end and I will be relentless with the RSVP's.  I know I'll have to track a few people down. For those who I can't get a hold of, well, that's just on them.  No RSVP's means no reserved seating in their honor.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Birthday

As I turned 32 years old this year, I let the day pass me by with very little fan far. I was just too busy planning the biggest party of my life; my wedding.  I was in no mood to plan a birthday party as well. While I love birthdays, I decided to just celebrate mine this year with a cake.  I was lucky enough to get a few little gifts as well, which touched and surprised me.  My friend (and future bridesmaid) D dropped by my house to give me my gift.  It was very nice of her and I loved it loads.

Hubby brought me home cake, but not just any cake.  He brought me lemon pie cake...yes lemon pie.  I absolutely LOVE this dessert and had no idea they made it cake form.  It was delish. He also surprised me in the most romantic of ways with my gifts.  He left my phone in our bedroom on the bed and laid 2 gorgeous jewelry boxes next to it.  He then called my phone so I would run to the bedroom to get it, only to find my gifts laid out in perfection. They were a gorgeous necklace in a gold box and necklace and earring set in a blue one.  With all the pre-wedding parties I have coming up they are just perfect.

Gorgeous jewelry

Lemon Pie CAKE!

Overnight Get-away

Recently, we decided to do a mini vacay-an overnight getaway to the mountains of Heredia. It was just after my Princess left for her big vacation to the United States with my mother in law.  So while Princess was off traveling, we took a short trip to Hotel Monte Campana in Santa Barbara de Heredia. It was last minute and impromptu-but sometimes you just need to get away, and we did.

On The Wedding Path

Things are progressing nicely (I should hope) and my road to the alter is almost complete; it seems so real now.  I constantly think and daydream (and night-dream) about my wedding day and am so anxious for it be here. The path I took to get to this point seems like such a long and arduous one. Finally got the invitations checked off my list and only need to deliver a few more.  My current guest list is a lot bigger than I initially planned but hoping that as the RSVP's come in, I can get a handle on that. Also finished up a few small details as well: bought our toasting flutes (champagne glasses), glammed up our cake serving set, and added the final touches to the program and petals baskets. Also started getting the items for the candy bar (jars and candy) and made a set menu for the cocktail hour.  I even managed to get the ceremony decorations squared away (decided to make tissue paper pom poms...simple, cute and cheap).

Assembling the invitations (Spanish version)

Assembled and ready to be enveloped

Name tags on the envelopes

Assembled English invitations

All packaged, bagged and ready for delivery

Cake serving set with personalized ribbon

Blue ribbon bows for baskets

And just to show you a glimpse at how I've been staying organized with all this wedding stuff, here's a look at my wedding binder and wedding planning notebook...2 of my favorite wedding items.
This binder is all DIY.  I got the the binder from one of Hubby's leftover office supplies he had lying around and the pages I printed off the internet from a wedding planning site. Total cost, around $10 (for the printing).

I should jazz it up a bit on the outside...we'll see.

And my planning notebook...the very first wedding item I bought right after we officially became engaged and I started planning. It's a regular notebook that I wrapped in pretty paper. Cost less than $2.

Wedding Worries And Calm Nerves

It's now mid-October and my wedding is literally right around the corner.  However, with my fast approaching up-coming nuptials, I am as cool and calm as a cucumber.  Why?  Well, lets see: all of my major vendors have already been booked and the majority of them have been paid a nice deposit to guarantee my date and their services. I am 95% done with all my DIY items.  Most of what I have left on my to-do list are minor little detail items I can't do until a few weeks before the big day. However, I do hope that as the wedding day draws even closer, the list of things I have to do gets visibly smaller. I don't want to be up past 12 am the night before my wedding doing any last minute projects. As for now though, I am just taking it easy and waiting for my wedding day to come.

Not to say I don't have any worries.  I know who I am and I know that I will inevitably stress out (hoping not too much).  One major worry is the wedding finances. The budget makes me very nervous. I started out a very  small budget bride.  And I was happy with that.  But than, I kept increasing the amount I wanted to spend by adding in things I felt I just had to have (after initially eliminating them from the budget). I don't regret the decisions I made that pushed my budget higher as I know those items will make my wedding the wedding of my dreams, but I still wonder if its too much money to spend on just a one day party.  I hope when all is said and done, it will all be worth it.  And I am still penny pinching and watching the budget, just to make sure I don't go over board (as it can be so easy to do so when planning a wedding).

The one thing I feel we're really splurging on (and didn't get much of a deal on) is the honeymoon. With last minute bookings and then adding on additional days, the honeymoon budget has tripled.  I feel we deserve a nice honeymoon though, so I am reasoning with myself so I don't feel too guilty about all the money being spent on our vacation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Bridal Shower

This will be a post with just pics... so enjoy!

Edible Marshmallow Centerpieces