And it was the best day of our lives!
It has been a week since our wedding and it still feels surreal to me. I am still wandering about in this haze where my heart is about to burst out of my chest. Our wedding was so much better than I could have ever hoped. It wasn’t just the ceremony or the gorgeous reception, but it was all the little details that make my heart flutter just reminiscing. The moment I saw my bridesmaids lined up in their mismatched dresses for the first time, watching Mr. Squirrel’s friends boogie down with my cousins, listening to my grandfather encourage shots of Patron during his dinner blessing… I loved catching Mr. Squirrel’s eyes across the dance floor and dancing our way back to each other, the awe I felt on the water taxi as I got the first peek at our venue, the moment at dinner when I looked around the table and felt completely surrounded by love, laughter, and many drunken fools…
Well, we are only a few days away from the big day! The last five days have been absolutely crazy as my mom, sister, and I have worked our tushes off to finalize everything. Our vendors have their final payments, we have a priest (and a deacon!), Mr. S just took his last exam of the semester, and we are just so ready to be married!
Our family and friends started to arrive in town and it has been so nice to sit back and relax with our family’s signature drink: the blueberry muffin (blueberry vodka and Crystal Light lemonade). I am so relieved to have all the stress and hard work behind us and all the fun to look forward to this week. It has been a long, exciting, and often draining process, but I wanted to share one last project with you before the big day.
As I mentioned earlier, our dance floor is essentially a large covered veranda that is completely surrounded by a concrete bench. My wonderful aunt is helping sew 24 pillows to spread around the benches. These pillows are natural colors—brown, moss green, and tan. I wanted to top these off with some personalized pillows that had our new last name and cheesy hearts. I swear this is the only burlap I snuck into the wedding! (It is hard to resist sometimes.)
These pillows were made completely from scratch. I bought a few yards of burlap at the fabric store. I laid the throw pillows from my couch on top of the fabric and basically just cut around them. I didn’t measure, but just winged it. I then printed out the various letters and words on my home printer. Again, I used various sized letters depending on how big the pillow was. I then used black paint to paint directly on the burlap.
Inside our OOT bags, we knew we wanted to include a packet with helpful information. Our guests won’t have any locals to point them in the right direction. Also, Mr. Squirrel and I have a number of other activities planned for our guests to make the whole weekend a party! This packet was a way to get them all of the information the guests need: locations, times, directions, and contact numbers.
I know OOT bags can quickly become expensive as you start buying in bulk. For those who can’t swing the whole bag, I highly encourage you to at least make a welcome packet that can be passed out to your guests when they arrive. Printing is the only real cost. Heck, print it at home in black and white and call it a day.
The tedious part of these is gathering all the information. Thankfully, MOH K is truly an angel and she spent a ton of time compiling the information and designing it into this cute booklet. Honestly, this is a great task to pass off to a local bridesmaid! (Feels good to delegate!)
Our book opened with a welcome message to our guests. Of course it had to fit the sun theme! We had some fun with fonts and included a table of contents. When designing the layout, we filled in empty space with fun facts like pointing guests to where we got engaged (so they can walk there and check it out!).
Next is the ever important contact information. I did not want guests calling us, so I gave them plenty of options. We included a large group with people from both families and both sides of the bridal party so everyone would have a direct contact and it would limit the phone tag. We also used this page to communicate important information about transportation to the venue. In our case, the means the water taxi!
Even though we are having our wedding in Florida, I didn’t want a beach wedding or shell decor of any kind. I have shied away from any typical “Florida” reference with one exception: our out of town bags.
Our bags are sunshine themed! Ninety-nine percent of our guests are traveling hundreds of miles to come to our wedding, and as much as Mr. S and I were the main motivation to come, so was the thought of an awesome Florida vaca. The out of town bags will be the first glimpse of our wedding and we wanted it to set a really fun and exciting tone!
The bags themselves are pretty generic. I bought them in doses at Michaels. With coupons, I could get a pack of 13 for about $3.50. I found a cute stamp and drew in a quick sun. On the other side, it lists our last names and welcomes them to the wedding.
Inside is where things started to get fun. My sister, MOH K, helped design and print these clever “Do Not Disturb” signs. Since many of the guest will be at the hotel early, we wanted one side to be more of a “Hey, I’m here for the Squirrel wedding, come on in!”
I had a pile of projects taunting me for months. They fell into three categories:
1. A project I had already started, but was boring.
2. A project I had already started, but realized it was miserable.
3. A project I couldn’t find the will to start because I just knew it would be miserable.
And this is where a Mom (or amazing bridesmaid, favorite aunt, etc.) comes in.
When my mom came to visit, I literally did nothing. Instead of doubling the productivity, I basically went to my job during the day and watched her work at night. I was so burnt out. In my mind, knowing my mom was helping “advance” the wedding progress meant I had a hall pass that week.
Honestly, the woman was exhausting to watch. She can get more accomplished in a week than I can in three months! Without any further ado, the amazingness that is Mama Squirrel:
For the past year, my mom, sisters, and I have been collecting any and every cheap candle that we can get our hands on. My venue has strict rules about candles. I am allowed to use them, but they must be in glass containers. Hello hurricane and faux-hurricane glassware. We collected this glassware mainly from thrift stores and in the clearance section. I found that regular glasses worked great! Some of my best deals came from huge glassware sets that I found at Big Lots and Macy’s.
The collection kept building and building. Bags and boxes were piled on top of each other. It was a hot mess. Mama S got to work:
Do not allow yourself to panic.
Yes, you may have worked with him months ago to perfect every detail of your ceremony. Yes, you may have really connected with him as a person and his style. Yes, he may have been an integral part of your fiance’s conversion to the faith.
But do not panic.
Better yet, go turn on the news and see all the crazy things that are happening in the world. It will help keep things in perspective. Know that, luckily, you still have two whole weeks to figure things out. Just think, it could have happened the day before and then you may just have had to panic.
How could this possibly happen, you may ask?
Planning the rehearsal dinner was a huge headache for us. I figured it would be a piece of cake compared to the complicated reception with twice as many people. Definitely not.
I don’t want to drag out the pain so here’s the short version:
Mr. Squirrel and I kept going back and forth between having a casual “welcome picnic” with all the guests or a fancier sit down dinner with only immediate family and wedding party. I was rooting for the welcome party for a long time. I loved the idea of seeing all the guests as much as possible. It was great in theory, but a logistical nightmare. We couldn’t find a venue (who knew parks were $500 to rent for the evening?) and without any family or close friends in town to help, a DIY dinner for 90 people was a scary thought.
Mr. Squirrel could see my frustration, so he jumped in and took the rehearsal dinner reigns. He started making calls to restaurants all over Tampa. Some of the responses were just laughable. One manager rambled on for twenty minutes about how “of course they could accommodate our party” and there would be signature food, drinks, basically anything our little hearts could desire…all for a $5000 minimum. Hah, no.
We capped our budget for the rehearsal dinner at $1500 and we quickly realized that, in order to have it at a restaurant, we had to limit our guest count to the 45 people that made up the bridal party and immediate family. I was bummed, but we came up with a little bit of a compromise (…wait for it).
Mr. Squirrel finally found a great restaurant called Pane Rustica. (Remember, I just spared you about four months of restaurant calling.) It has your traditional American smattering of options: steak, seafood, pasta, etc. They have an in-house bakery with some insane goodies for dessert. The decor is pretty swanky and we will have our own private room for our loud obnoxious families (a requirement for us!). You see, my family historically interprets “rehearsal dinner” to mean “roast.”
We decided we weren’t.
I know I haven’t shared most of the decor, but we are getting a lot of help from our florist, Arlene. I swear our entire wedding will not look like a big stump of wood. Just a reminder, our theme is Midsummer Night’s Dream and the long tables will be full of moss, candles, bright flowers, and twinkle lights!
Back to the wood.
I just can’t resist it! It is cheap and charming at the same time. It is easy to cut, carve, and write on. I love how each piece of wood is unique and the more “damaged,” the better. A little while ago I asked for some help coming up with a plan for our escort cards. I decided to keep things simple (I’m finally starting to get it!).
My dad rocks and quickly cut out about 150 wood rounds that looked sort of like this:
Image via FiNeGRaiNeD on Etsy
It didn’t take him long at all. All you need are a few long branches and a saw of some sort. The sizes of the wood ranged from about two and a half to three and a half inches in diameter. Some of these were smooth with light wood, others had dark texture patterns running through the middle. I love the size and texture variations.
Last week was a big week in the Squirrel world—Mr. S became Catholic! After years of thinking and months of planning, this was such a huge evening for us.
Mr. S was baptized and raised as a Christian, but kind of hopped around churches growing up. As an adult, he had a strong relationship with God, but he wanted a faith community as well. Being Catholic has always been a huge part of my life. After we had been dating for a while, Mr. S started going to church with me on Sundays. I never put any pressure on Mr. S to convert. Faith is such a personal thing and I would never ask someone to do that for me. I just wanted to offer my support as Mr. S explored his own spiritual journey.
After spending a super busy day at the mall, Mr. S and I had crossed many things off our list. His suit is finally getting altered. He, thankfully, now has a dress shirt and snazzy shoes. We both got new bathing suits for the honeymoon and I found a perfect bra (hopefully). Whew! After a long day at the crowded mall, we were both feeling exhausted and decided to go back to my apartment to watch a Redbox. Yes, unfortunately this is also secret code for “get my craft on.” Blah, not the most exciting evening.
Anywho, I checked my mail as we pulled up and inside was such an unexpected surprise that I just had to share:
In case the text is too small, it says:
Hive, I am having a necklace dilemma.
I love large (slightly obnoxious) jewelry. I have been on the statement necklace bandwagon since I was about 14. I love to wear a basic outfit with a bold pop of jewelry. Also, one of the perks of having a small chest is that I can rock long, chunky necklaces to my heart’s desire.
When it came to planning my bridal look, of course, I was all about the dress. I wanted the dress to be gorgeous and classic. And thankfully, it is turning out the be absolutely beautiful. (I am having it custom made.) So here is the problem: I have no idea how to incorporate jewelry. I want to find pieces that reflect my personality, but I don’t want to draw attention away from the dress. The neckline of the dress is rather dramatic and, realistically, I should probably just nix a necklace altogether. But deep in my heart of hearts I have to make sure I absolutely can’t make it work. Yes, I could wear bold earrings instead, but it just doesn’t feel the same.
Here are a few contenders:
1. Paro Necklace by St Erasmus
Image via St. Erasmus
Remember how I had this great idea to find vintage furniture on Craigslist to use during our reception? Yeah…that turned out to be one of those “great in theory” kind of ideas. I planned to wait until a month before from the wedding (AKA now) to find the furniture so it wouldn’t take up space in my apartment for too long. That was naive. I hardly have room for all the boxes and bags of wedding decor, plus the entire room filled with gifts from our showers. It’s like a maze to get from one room to another! The thought of adding at least two couches would probably put me over the edge.
The other issue was the transporting of the furniture. We would have had to rent a U-Haul and load it up the morning of the wedding and then reload at the end of the reception. Not exactly what we wanted to be doing at the end of the night…
To top things off, I couldn’t even find what I wanted on Craigslist anyway. My sister and I scoured all the local thrift shops, and I finally realized I was either going to have to nix the furniture altogether or find a way to rent some.
After some serious Googling of “wedding furniture rentals,” I only found cheesy Chiavari chair websites that offered no other options. I was about to give up when I stumbled across a wonderful company: WISH Vintage Rentals. As soon as I opened their website, I knew they would be perfect. They have gorgeous vintage furniture for rent, and after a quick phone call with the owner Lisa, I learned they also have late-night pick-up! I scheduled a meeting at their warehouse later in the week.
My sister and I walked in and saw this:
The clock is ticking fast in Squirrel World. I feel like our engagement flew by and the big day is right around the corner. As excited as I am for the wedding, I honestly can’t WAIT just to be married. The wedding details are pretty locked in (don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of crafting left to do), but these days I like to sit back and think of how excited I am to be married. I loved Mrs. Gray Wolf’s list a few months ago and wanted to share my reasons:
I am totally jumping on the sign train. Signs can provide so much personality to a reception. A beautiful scripted sign can further emphasize the elegance. A goofy handwritten sign can play up the fun. Signs can be sweet, funny, or just plain helpful as they direct guests where to go.
I wanted a little bit of everything. It’s allowed…I’m the bride
I didn’t sit down and list all the signs I wanted to make. I just collected a pile of wood and had fun with it!
I used all sorts of wood for our signs: scraps of plywood left over from our invitations, old floor trim from my parents house, and beautiful cherry from an old tree in my parent’s backyard. I wanted wood that was a little beat up instead of the perfect “scraps” you can buy at Michaels.
No, I am not losing my sanity. I’m losing those lbs!
We all know there is a lot of pressure on brides, especially when it comes to physical appearance. I certainly have had my fair share of weight fluctuations over the years. I’ve heard that when people get in relationships, men lose weight and women gain weight. Something about how the women cook healthier so the men eat better and, I don’t know, I guess the men take the women out to dinner more? Whatever the reason, this has definitely happened in my relationship. When we moved to Florida, Mr. Squirrel left behind a very stressful job and he lost a good deal of weight. On the other hand, I started a stressful job and the last thing I wanted to do after my long commute home was cook a healthy dinner. And gym? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I have generally been a pretty active person, and thankfully becoming engaged was my wake-up call that I needed to get back on track. I wanted to start cooking wonderfully healthy meals again. I wanted to push myself and become strong again. Over the past year, Mr. S and I have done a great job. Our lifestyle has evolved into a much healthier one. We both shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and I canceled my cable so the only way I can watch my trashy reality TV shows in real time is to watch them on the elliptical. (Love me some Bachelor.)
After the holidays wound down, we both reached a bit of a plateau and wanted to jump start our weight loss again, so we tried something new. We joined a program called DietBet. The creators call it a “social dieting game.”
Here’s how it works: