Thursday, August 19, 2010

Decisions, Decisions: Photographers

We were entirely at a loss as to how to begin looking for wedding photographers, so we started out following Jill's advice, left in the comments of this post: by googling "wedding photos + View on the Hudson" to see other photographers who had shot at our venue specifically, and how their pictures had turned out.

My mom had also been looking, and we got ideas from friends and relatives as well as, in at least one case, from a wedding blog, which left us with a pretty substantial list, that we then narrowed down by price, style, and grammar. (Listen, photographer-who-shall-remain-nameless: If you think that saying "da" instead of "the" is cool, that's your prerogative. But if you think that using it in on your professional website is appropriate, you have to expect that you will drive away those potential customers who do not think that using "da" instead of "the" is cool.)

We arranged to meet with as many of the photographers as was possible on a single day, and spent a weekend in NY that looked like lots of our weekends in NY do lately: the wedding-family-wedding-family-wedding sandwich. (It went photographer #1 - graduation party - photographer #2 - grandparents' house - photographer #3.)

The first photographer we met with was Ryan Kaplan from Small Moments Studios in Suffern. As we left, we looked at each other and Ben said, "I'd be fine canceling the other appointments now." We thought Ryan's photography and his personality were wonderful and would fit our wedding perfectly, but we decided to go through with the remaining appointments anyway.

After my cousin Emma's 8th grade graduation party, we met a second photographer, whose photography was beautiful but whose personality didn't do it for us. Then, after stopping by my grandparents', where Grandma gave us homemade cookies and zucchini from the garden, we met with the last photographer. Her photography and personality were both wonderful, and she gave Ryan a serious run for his money. We thought we could have worked well and been happy with either of them, but in the end we decided that Ryan's style better fit our needs. (His price was better, too; there wasn't a huge discrepancy, but we did feel extra confident in our decision, since all the relevant factors - style, personality, price - lined up.)

We're very excited to work with Ryan!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wedding Dress Friday: This time, it's for real

This past weekend, I went home, with the intention of showing my mom the dress I had bought and looking at bridesmaid dresses with my sisters and my cousins. My mom was disappointed not to have been there when I bought the dress, and - given my unspoken misgivings - I agreed I was going to look at just a few more dresses. We went to RK Bridal, in Manhattan, which has both bridesmaid and wedding dresses. The whole point was supposed to be looking at bridesmaid dresses. I already had a wedding dress, right? I was just humoring my mom, right? But we spent most of the morning trying on wedding dresses.

RK Bridal doesn't take reservations, so we made sure to get there early, before the store opened, and we managed to get our names first on the list for wedding dresses, which meant we were the first group to be assigned a consultant. Our consultant was Olga, who was fantastic. I probably tried on a dozen dresses, which, added to the 2 dozen or so I'd tried on at the Running of the Brides, puts me way over the average for number of wedding dresses tired on (which I think is around 10-12). (Remember when I said I'd try on a couple dresses and pick a pretty one, and be done with it?)

The dresses - most of them - were gorgeous. It's a completely different thing, I realized, too, to try on a dress at an actual wedding dress store. (They use binder clips to hold the dress in place so you don't have to just imagine how it would look if it actually fit! Binder clips!)

My sister Laura got there late, and so she'd missed the first couple dresses I'd tried on. After I'd tried on my dozen or so, and ruled out several, I started over, trying on what was left a second time. I walked out of the dressing room, in a gown that my mom, sister Anna, and cousin Jamie had liked the first time, but which Laura was seeing for the first time. She instantly burst into tears.

That means that's the dress I'm supposed to wear, doesn't it?

It's not the dress I bought.

I spent a while going back and forth, eventually, between the dress that made Laura cry and the dress I ended up buying. Olga told me that the first was more "bridal" and the second more "sexy," but that's not really the way I saw it. Sure, the second is closer-fitting, and open-backed, but when I wore it, the feeling I had wasn't "sexy." (It wasn't "unsexy," either, of course.) It was "bridal." I could see myself walking down the aisle in that dress. I smiled a lot when I put it on. And when I imagined myself walking down the aisle in that dress, the image in my mind was of Ben waiting at the altar, not of the dress itself. It was a dress that I loved, that looked awesome, and that knew its proper place, being amazing while simultaneously getting out of the way to let me focus on what really mattered - my groom. The only thing that prevented me from choosing was that I was weighing the dress I loved against the dress everyone else loved. Once I realized that, the decision was easy. I picked the dress I loved.

Pictures after the break! (Dear Ben, Don't click this link. For real this time. Love, Kathleen)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday: Part I

I bought a wedding dress. And then . . . I bought another wedding dress. I'm still trying to come to terms with being the kind of girl who buys two wedding dresses. I'm not entirely sure what kind of girl that is, but I doubt the words used to describe her are complimentary. Fickle, materialistic, and extravagant are a couple that come to mind. But with each dress, buying it seemed like the only reasonable thing to do at the time.

On July 30, I went to the Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement, with two friends, Jessie and Maggie. I did not go to the crazy running/throwing elbows/stealing dresses out of the hands of other women portion of the day, but after going to work in the morning, I took the afternoon off and headed over to Friendship Heights. I probably tried on close to two dozen dresses. Lots of them were exactly the type of dress that I'd had in mind: sleeved and lacy. All of those looked awful. Many were accompanied by beading of the variety that made Jessie remark that they looked like they'd been Bedazzled by a kindergartener. In short, it seemed that the only sleeved dresses they had were quite dated, and had likely been making periodic appearances at these sales since their heyday in the early '90s. Someone picked up a dress that looked nothing like what I'd been picturing myself wearing. It was strapless, beaded (though tastefully), and a color close to champagne. But it was beautiful, and when I tried it on (it fit almost perfectly), it was incredibly flattering, and strangers stopped to tell me how great it looked. And since the price was right ($249), I bought it. At a sale like the Running of the Brides, there's no thinking about it and coming back for it another day. It was now or never, take it or leave it, and I could not leave behind a dress that was so pretty and looked so good.

I'm not sure I would have taken such a dramatic step away from the image I'd had of myself had the dress been more expensive, but at $250, I felt like it was too good to pass up, and it wasn't a huge sum of money if, in fact, I ended up returning to the dress I'd imagined. (This from a girl who regularly carries groceries home in the palms of her bare hands to avoid paying DC's $.05 plastic bag tax, which just goes to show you how much weddings skew your perceptions.)

Almost immediately, I began to have the niggling feeling that I was talking myself into this dress. Part of me was disappointed that I'd "caved" to the prevailing trend of the strapless dress, a feeling I couldn't shake, no matter how many times I firmly told myself that not doing something just because everyone else is doing it is just as silly as doing something just because everyone else is. My mom said things like "If you love it, then I love it," which is not exactly a glowing endorsement. And then there was the feeling that I would not have ever shared with anyone, had I not eventually gotten a different dress: the feeling that, when walking down the aisle, I'd be overwhelmingly disappointed in what I was wearing.

But . . . it was just so pretty! There was no denying that it was a gorgeous dress. There was no good reason not to wear it, and the good reasons to wear it were not limited to its pragmatic attributes - like the fact that I already owned it. No, my (admittedly limited) aesthetic sense continued to tell me that it was a beautiful dress, and that I, or any other girl, would be lucky to be married in it. (Which is undoubtedly true.) My sentimental side, though, just kept saying, "But . . ." And "but" was all it took for me to decide to try on some more dresses this weekend, which you will soon read about in another post.

And after the break, I'll post pictures of me in the first dress. I'm hiding it behind a page break because I haven't the foggiest idea whether or not it's ok for Ben to see a picture of me in a wedding dress that is not the dress I'm wearing to my wedding.