Bye Bye, Down Time!

Most brides know that there is a lull in your planning schedule if you have the typical year from engagement to wedding. Well, mine has come and is now packing its things to leave forever. I started planning fast and got a space booked and a wedding dress right away. But some things just can't be booked a year in advance...and some don't need to be. It was still too early to map out the tiny details. Not anymore. I'm coming up on our 6-month marker next weekend and it's time to get my booty back in gear.

The Wedding Salon
I haven't been completely ignoring the wedding lately, to be fair. I went to the Wedding Salon event at Sofitel Chicago with my best bridal blogger buds Hollie at Thrifty in White and Jennifer over at Peach Bride. We got to taste a few passed appetizers & desserts, get our pics taken in every photo booth we could find, and drink as much wine as we could get our hands on (which didn't end up being much because the place was so packed).
I blocked out the first one for everybody's sake. Jen, I LOVE the tiara. ;)

#1: Silly, #2: Awkward

Since our tickets were free via a promo code, it was well worth the trip just to get some ideas for hair styles and table decor, but I have to say that these events are NOT for the bride on a budget. They're great for inspiration and free wine but don't expect to actually find a deal there. The only thing that might end up working out is a honeymoon package from Sandals, who had a booth there. Oh, and Hollie's incredible chalkboard writing capabilities that I may have to barter for all-you-can-drink wine and/or DIY help. (Hollie, look what you got yourself into.) :)

House Hunting
Since I am slightly insane, we have started our search for a home while also planning a wedding! How exciting though, right?! If I'm sparse on the posts, that would be part of my excuse. We're taking our time and visiting places every weekend in various neighborhoods in Chicago (but mostly in Lakeview/Lincoln Park/Downtown). I must say I think I'm getting better at narrowing them down online first before we go see them because we are getting closer and closer to the perfect place every week. THIS is what I want to spend our money on, NOT the one-day event that is our wedding. So, in a way, the house hunting comes at a perfect time to keep me on track with our wedding budget. I'm so excited to have a place in mind when I'm registering for gifts!

The fiance and I are off to NYC next week for a family wedding and I am SO EXCITED to get to take some mental notes while I'm there. Seeing one in action will definitely get my creative juices flowing and inspire me to start getting things wrapped up for my own!
190 days...


DJ. Check!

Have I ever told you how much I love checking things off of lists? I want to make lists all day long just so I can check things off of them.... breathe, check! eat, check! Anyways (I almost just wrote "anyhoodle" like my pal and fellow blogger, Hollie at Thrifty in White hahaha), I have checked off a few things that were pending on my list from my last post and this makes the checker-offer in me very satisfied.

As I mentioned in my last post, I got my save-the-dates from the vendor blimpcat on Etsy. We had some issues with the postal service, but when I finally got them in I was DELIGHTED! Blimpcat had wrapped the cards up in this adorable blimpcat custom wrapping paper and tied it with a bow and put it in a box with pretty tissue paper.
Kitties! Ribbon!

A "thank you" card is attached to the top, handwritten from the lady I had been in contact with regarding my order, Kate. This was such a lovely gesture that I had to take a picture of it.
So nice.
Maybe this is typical from vendors on Etsy and I have just been missing out all this time, but I thought the little extras were a very nice touch. They have very much earned my recommendation.

We had one tiny problem: the somewhat glossy finish on the card makes even permanent markers smear. Luckily, our brilliant friend John recommended we use shipping labels. Not only did this solve the ink smudging problem but also the terrible handwriting problem that both my fiance and I have been stricken with. My handwriting would have taken those beautiful cards from a 10 to a 2 in as little as a few pen strokes.

So we bought Avery shipping labels from Amazon.com (use that Prime membership!) and used the template that they have available for free at www.avery.com/templates to create a 10-page PDF. After trying and failing to print them on our own, we brought them to FedEx where they printed them for FREE! I love free. Thanks, FedEx/Kinkos. The labels & ugly Liberty Bell stamps have now been affixed and our save-the-dates are currently en route to a home near you. Total shipping costs including labels: $40.

Disc Jockey
I would like to take a moment to thank my wonderful fiance for helping book the DJ. Thank you, my love. ;) Who knew DJs were so darn expensive?! Goodness gracious! There was a moment there in our planning where I thought we would have an iPod (or in our case, Zune) wedding. I was given many wonderful recommendations for DJs that I'm sure are great, but I can't justify spending that much for a DJ when I have my eyes on a new house. I also know that a DJ is important and can make or break an event. Conundrum.

I started researching and comparing rates online and panic ensued. Almost every DJ was over $1000 for 4 hours, with a couple $795+ exceptions. The new "it" DJ group for the nontraditional Chicago wedding, Toast & Jam, came highly recommended.....for a quoted $1295. I know you guys rock and everything, but it's just not in this savvy bride's budget. So then I remembered the DJ from our company Christmas party last year. Rafael and I liked them so much that we were talking about them days later. They really felt the vibe of the crowd and kept everybody dancing. They even had Lupe Fiasco in their library! Thumbs up!

I asked our HR department for the information and they were very helpful in giving me the name (One Stop DJ Service) and their pricing from last year. I knew we were in business. I contacted them (despite their terrible, horrible, ugly website) and was promptly contacted with a quote for 6 hours plus 1 hour of set-up/tear-down time at $795. After about of day of not responding to them, they called me and left a voicemail saying that if we pay the deposit by the end of the month, they would take $100 off of the price. Better yet - if we pay in FULL by the end of the month, they would take $200 off the price. Now we're talking. I handed it off to my fiance and he got them all paid up and booked for the low low price of $595 (though we miss every penny).

218 days to go...
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