Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time to put the petal to the metal

We are making a trip home to California in 3 days. I'm so excited! The fiance is especially excited to be driving again. Me, I'm more excited about getting some wedding planning taken care of!  We haven't been back since March when we chose our wedding venue, so there's a lot to do. One of the big ones on my to do list is to find a florist. I am a huge fan of flowers. I love them, especially at weddings but I don't really want to spend a lot of money on them. So our flower budget is on the modest side.

Early in our engagement my Mom told me that a family friend, who was my girl scout troop leader when I was a little, does wedding flowers. I thought, great I'm not looking for anything fancy and I'd love to give her the work. So I didn't really think about it much after that. Then as the months started ticking down I decided to get in touch with her and find out what her prices were. I wrote her saying I was interested, and I told her a little about our wedding. Her response was, "I am looking forward to creating beautiful, elegant, and yet simple wedding flower arrangements and bouquets to add to your special day!". I kind of felt awkward because I didn't say I wanted to use her yet... So I wrote another email asking specifically if she had any pictures from previous weddings she had done and how much she charges for her services along with pictures of flowers I liked. I got no response... It's been almost two weeks since I sent that email and I am kind of feeling a little nervous about using her now. To be on the safe side I'm going to meet with some other florists on my trip to California. I don't know when I'll be back out west so I need to make it count. And with only 8 months left the clock is ticking! I can't wait until we get that one figured out. Then I'll have another big one to cross of my list!

But in the meantime, let me show you what I like!

Gerber Daisys, LOVE

 Love all the different types of flowers in this bouquet

 But then I love the simplicity of this bouquet. Just the orange roses, *sigh* beautiful.

I really like this simple centerpiece. It's a nice blend of the green and orange I want

All above Images via

For the life of me I can't remember where I got this picture. I love the idea of my bridesmaids having a bouquet of mostly greens, with pops of orange.

I have a ton of other pictures but these are my favorites. I also like the trend right now of putting fruit in with centerpieces.

Image via

In the end I'll probably go with a less is more type of feel with the flowers. I've even considered doing my own flowers and ordering from But we'll see if it comes to that.

How important are wedding flowers to you? What's  your favorite flower? Any advice on selecting a florist?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to choose a photographer from accross the country

The thought of finding a photographer from across the country without being able to meet in person seemed very daunting. Especially because when you Google, Southern California Wedding photographers, you get a million pages...

I searched on weddingwire, projectwedding, and some others... After reading reviews and looking at websites I started a list of photographers whose work caught my eye.

Then I had the brilliant idea to Google search "Padua Hills Theater wedding photographers" which brought me to photographers who had actually worked at our venue. It was great to see the weddings they photographed at our venue. Some photographers found great locations for photos that really captured the beauty of the venue. Others really missed the mark and we immediately taken off the list. It was so helpful to compare photographers work by looking at their pictures taken at one specific location.

I then put together a list of the photographers I liked and sent them all a friendly inquiry. If they emailed me back within a day, they were already a favorite. If they told me their price up front they were also moved to the top of the list. I got a little annoyed with places that would respond and ask me to call them to get an estimate. If they did that they were off the list. I had no time to call them up and chat with them on the phone. Photographers also got removed from the list if they were too expensive. If their cheapest package was out of our budget range we had to remove them. After getting quotes I made a list of my favorites and showed their photo's to Mr. Castle without telling him their prices. Fortunately, he liked the same studio I liked and the price was in our budget.

I thought before we booked them we should at least speak on the phone. We spoke with Erin from the studio, they are a husband and wife team, and she was so easy to talk to and very friendly. One of the issues that came up in our search was that a lot of packages included engagement pictures. Other photographers said that even if you didn't want the engagement session, they would not subtract the cost out of the package. One photographer said, you can substitute something else like a boudoir session or a trash the dress shoot. Both of which I'm not interested in getting and I didn't want to pay for an engagement session when we might not have an opportunity in California to take one. Plus we already had a photographer take some engagement pictures in NYC so I didn't feel the need to get more taken in California.When I told Erin we had already taken engagement pictures in NY she said, "We like doing the engagement sessions with you because it gives us a chance to get to know you and work together before the big day. But if you don't want it or don't have time we'll just subtract it out of your final payment. And you can decide on that whenever you want." With that I was sold. Maybe we will do another engagement session with them, but it's nice to know if we don't want to we don't have to pay for it. It's also nice that their pictures are amazing! They just happened to be one of our venues preferred vendors AND their office is located on site at our venue. Since they shoot weddings there all the time we know they'll know the prime spots to capture our day.

I already posted some of their pictures in this post. But here are a few more!

I know I've already mentioned it, but our venue is so pretty at night!
 All Images and Photography by  Palos Studio

I can't tell you how relieved I was when we picked our photographers. When we were starting the process of finding them, the sheer volume of search results made it seem like a nearly impossible task! But by narrowing our search, and honing in on a great vendor with close ties to our venue, the internet turned from foe to friend, and allowed us to view the portfolio of our prospective paparazzo without having to make the 2500 mile journey to their office!

Did you feel relived when you picked your photographer?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Engagement Party!

We had an amazing engagement party. It's already been five months since it happened, but its never too late to share! Two of my amazing bridesmaids, let's call them Miss C and Miss J took care of everything. They sent out adorable evite invitations, got all the necessary beverages and food from Costco (including a case of champagne that was all finished before the night was through!), and played hostess all night. I have to say it was really nice not having to worry about planning anything because there was something else I was worried in the days leading up to the party.

We picked a Wednesday in March because Miss C and Miss J are servers and they always work Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, so those nights were out. Also at the time I wasn't working on Thursdays so I knew I could "let loose" at the party. The party was going to be on Miss C's awesome patio at her apartment. I wish I had a better picture of it because it is amazing, and huge. It is the perfect place for a party, and believe me she has had many a party on that patio. But it was still a little chilly in NY so we were hoping against hope for a warmish night.

The week before the party I checked the weather report and it predicted rain for our party night! I was so bummed, so we decided to make a plan B. Miss C's patio is huge but her apartment is not, so bringing the party inside was not an option. So plan B turned into moving the party to our apartment (which is also less than enormous). This meant we had to clean and prepare our apartment for the party just in case.  

The morning of the party it looked gloomy outside. I checked the weather and it predicted rain until 2pm and then clear skies after that! I was so happy as I walked to work under my umbrella knowing that the skies would clear in time for the party!

So plan B was not needed and the party was a success! It was still chilly but they set up some space heaters and lit a fire in the BBQ pit and it was perfect!
Our Hosts Miss J and Miss C

 3 good friends, on the left is Jeff's Best Man

 Early in the evening

 Jeff told our engagement story, complete with playing the audio recording of asking my parents

 A candid from a friend

 While listening to the recordings. I hid behind him because I was getting teary eyed

The party moved inside when it got a little too chilly

 Trying out a gift from a friend. It's supposed to relieve stress

I can't believe I'm posting this picture I look crazy. I had had a couple you can see my glass is empty.

Back outside on the amazing patio with friends

Sadly Miss C no longer lives at this apartment and this was the last party she had! It was such an wonderful night for so many reasons. Most of our mutual friends are from college and so many of them have moved out to NY. It was like a mini reunion. A lot of people said to me, "I feel like such an adult being at an engagement party." And I have to admit I felt the same way. I was the beginning of this journey on our way to becoming husband and wife. I was glad so many friends came, and that we were able to celebrate our excitement with them.

Did you have an engagement party? How was it!? Was it with friends or family?

All Photos are personal

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who will Marry us?

In a previous post I mentioned something kind of important that we have yet to accomplish. We do not have anyone to marry us. Not only is finding someone from across the county difficult, but finding the specific type of person we want is also proving to be tough.

I was raised Catholic and always assumed I would be getting married in the church. Then I met the love of my life who is not Catholic and has no desire to get married in the church. I would never force my fiancé to get married somewhere he did not feel comfortable, not that he is uncomfortable in a church, that kind of a setting just didn't feel right to him. And it doesn't really feel right to me either. I still consider myself Catholic, but I'm not a very good practicing Catholic. I don't go to mass every Sunday, I haven't been to confession in years, and I don't see this changing anytime soon.

When I imagined where our wedding would be, I imagined someplace that represented us as a couple. We have gone on many outdoor adventures together and I knew we wanted something outside surrounded by nature. And that's what we found and I couldn't be happier. But now who will marry us?

When you get married in the church, they assign a priest to your wedding and that's it, decision done. But for us we have to search for the perfect person. My parents and I liked the idea of still having someone affiliated with the Catholic church to marry us. But those of you who are Catholic know a priest can't marry anyone outside of the church, but a retired priest can marry a couple anywhere they want.

With that information, we set about our search. Thanks to wedding wire, I came across a guy who seemed perfect for us. He is a retired Catholic priest, who left the ministry to get married. He now officiates weddings all over Southern California, and he will  make your wedding as traditional or non traditional as you want. He had a review that said the bride and her family were Catholic and the groom and his family were atheist, and both families loved the ceremony that he created for them. He sounded like a winner to me.

So I called him to inquire about his services. We played phone tag a bit, but last night we finally got in touch with each other. He was nice, funny, talkative, easy going, he was great! He told me how he had done a wedding a block away from Kim Kardashian's this past weekend and his poor bride had to deal with three helicopters flying over her ceremony. He told me his background, about his kids, his marriage, and then he told me his price...

Image via Flickr

$1,200. This includes; a ceremony planning session, his travel to the wedding, (he would be coming to LA from Santa Barbara, about 125 miles) the ceremony itself, and filing our paperwork after we are married. He sounds so perfect for us, but his cost is more than my wedding dress.

At the same time, the wedding is about the ceremony right? The most important part is when you say your vows, and who conducts your ceremony is an important component. With that said, I think $1200 is too much. I think we need to shop around and explore other options.

Many people have asked me, why don't you have a friend marry you. We've thought about it, but we really can't think of anyone who is close to both of us who we would like to bestow that responsibility on. Maybe we'll change our minds and think of someone, but at this point that doesn't seem likely.

So I will continue my quasi-quixotic quest for our perfect officiant. Or maybe I will cave and pay the $1200...probably not.

Who will be marrying you? Did you have any trouble finding someone?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Something silly

So this is not wedding related, but I thought I'd share anyway. I have very talented friends, one of which (who also happens to be Jeff's best man) wrote a parody of the Ke$ha song, "We R Who We R," for his pregnant wife. They recorded the song (his wife sings it). We made a music video, and my amazingly talented fiance edited the whole thing! Oh, AND the fiance and I make a special appearance in the video as the doctor and the nurse.

So here it is! Hope you like it.

video via YouTube

Did you see the fiance and I flirting as the doctor and the nurse? We had a lot of fun filming this, and my man put a lot of time and effort into editing it. So I figured I should share it with as many people as possible!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hair worries

I recently had a nightmare about my wedding hair. In my dream my hair was pulled back, which I hate, and in a messy bun that looked awful. I wanted beautiful soft curls. So dream Miss Castle tried to re-do her own hair, only to end up with what looked like crimped hair. It was not good...

Obviously I woke up thinking about hair...
 Image via

OK not the musical, but my own hair. I know exactly how I want my hair to look for the big day. Half up, half down with curls, and my side part. Something like this:
Image via
Image via seller JMGJewelDesign
 Image via

Seems simple enough, but I fear my hair will fall flat before the ceremony even starts! You see I have pin straight hair. Some girls call me lucky, but I think they're mistaken. My hair won't do anything. I rarely ever blow dry my hair because its going to dry straight either way. When I try to curl my hair... it usually only lasts about 30 mins...
 My pin straight hair. This is an old headshot. Photography by Douglas Gorentein

The only thing that has worked for me in the past, while performing in shows has been, hot rollers, and sponge curlers. A good old curling iron doesn't seem to do the trick for me. Oh and hairspray, lots of hairspray.

These next pictures are from that production of Baby that Mr. Castle and I did together. They wanted my hair to have a curly 80s look. The process to get my hair to look like this took almost 4 hours. It involved spraying hairspray on before putting my hair in sponge rollers. Then I would blow dry my hair while the sponge rollers we in. And finally I would add more hairspray before taking the sponge rollers out.
 Personal Photo/This is what my hair normally looked like at the time. This was taken during a rehearsal
 Personal Photo/My hair right after I took out the sponge rollers
Personal Photo/After running my fingers through it to get the "80s" look.

Everyone who saw this show thought I was wearing a wig, even my own father.

So I don't want my hair to be THAT curly, and I don't want to have to uses tons and tons of hairspray. I want light, bouncy, flowing curls. But can my hair do that? I'm really not sure. I have done a little experimenting and some times it goes well and other times it does not. My Matron of Honor's Mom, also known as my second mother, is a hair dresser and will be doing my hair for the wedding. I guess we'll have to strategize about the best approach for beautiful curls that will last at least through at least through our first dance.

Anyone else have pin straight hair? How do you curl it, what's your secret???

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My first wedding dress

Someone recently posted this picture on facebook and I about died! This is me when I was sixteen playing Laurey in the musical OKLAHOMA! This was the scene right after the main couple in the show gets married. Check it out!
Personal Photo

I think I look about twelve in this photo. I remember thinking it was really fun wearing a wedding dress. They bought it at a thrift store and it fit me perfectly. And it was the first wedding dress I ever wore.

I guess most people's first wedding dress is the one they wear on their wedding day, but not me! Seeing this picture got me thinking about the wedding dresses that influenced my feelings on wedding dresses in general. It's fun to reminisce about the gowns that shaped my ideas of what a wedding dress should be.

There is of course my Mother's dress which I have looked at many times while looking through her wedding album.
Personal Photo
I don't have a full picture of her dress here with me in New York, but her top half is better than nothing! It was 1983, and yes she's rocking that hat veil! She has offered me her hat veil about 100 times... It will definitely be making an appearance somewhere in the wedding process, I can just feel it.

My Grandmothers dress.
Personal Photo from Grandma
I took this picture on my cell phone from their photo album so the quality isn't that great. I just think they look so happy. My grandfather died last year, so I would love to get a copy of the actual picture to have on display at the wedding. I'm not sure if that was her wedding dress, or her leaving on their honeymoon dress, but either way I think it's fabulous.

Cinderella, of course.
 Image via

My favorite princess is actually Snow White, but she didn't wear a pretty wedding dress. Cinderella's wedding dress (And ball gown dress), were definitely my favorite of all the Disney princess dresses as child.

Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music
  Image via

I loved this movie. I wanted to be in it. (I was in the show later in life and played Louisa) I just always thought Julie looked so stunning and beautiful in this dress.

Monica's wedding dress from the TV show Friends
 Image via

I remember watching this and thinking, "I'm going to have a dress like that when I get married. No puffy, cup cake dress for me." I was also in my teens, really starting to dream about meeting the man of my dreams and getting married. So this was a big one for me.

And now Kate Middleton. She looked amazing, but I wouldn't mind having Pippa's dress!
Image via

I'm not ready to share my dress quite yet, but soon I promise! I will say I love my dress and it doesn't look like any of these :)

Do you have any dresses from your pre-engaged days that influenced your thought about dresses?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Under pressure

I'm having one of those days where I'm feeling really overwhelmed. Our wedding is under 9 months away (I would say 8 1/2 but that stresses me out to much) and I feel like I haven't gotten enough accomplished. For example: we still don't have a florist, or any idea who is going to marry us, we haven't even finalized our invite list... just to name a few.

I also all of the sudden have this feeling that I need to create this perfect wedding that is beautiful, trendy, and so dang amazing style me pretty will be begging me to feature it on their blog.

I really don't know where this came from. I've always thought of myself as a pretty laid back, less is more kind of girl. I didn't want to stress over too much for the wedding so I decided early on that I was going to keep everything simple and laid back...or so I thought.

I think maybe I've spent too much time "researching" and looking for inspiration on sites that now just have me confused. All these vintage inspired weddings look like they're using muted colors and we're using bright orange, maybe it's going to clash? Maybe my idea for ticket escort cards isn't cool enough, this person used vintage post cards, maybe my favor ideas suck. Doubt is creeping in!

And like I said before, I feel so behind, too far behind to be second guessing the ideas I am(was) happy with. I feel like I'm stuck in indecisive quicksand and I'm drowning in decisions that need to be made!

I got ready for bed feeling very stressed, my mind racing. My fiancé looked at me and said, "You look stressed." So I told him how I felt we haven't gotten enough done, blah blah blah. He suggested we make a list of things to do this month. I thought, yes that is a good idea but it doesn't make me feel any better. I didn't feel like we'll get any more accomplished with a list. I said, "I just feel like I have so much to do with work, auditioning, wedding planning, and I really have no time to do it." So he said in a sweet voice "Then don't do anything." I gave him a look like I could kill you but you're too cute, and he continued, "If you don't have time to do anything then just don't do anything."

This would have probably made some girls furious, but for me it made me laugh and got me out of my funk for the night. It just goes to show he's the one for me, he listens, he gives advice and then makes me laugh it off.

So I'm sitting here thinking I need to embrace what we have envisioned for this wedding. It might not be perfect, and it might not be some people's cup of tea, but it's our wedding and I shouldn't care. I love bright colors, so there will be bright colors. I love vintage elements, so there will be some of that too. I will try and not compare my wedding, that hasn't even taken place, with those I see online. I will also move forward and make more important decisions, like who's going to marry us! That's a big one!

And here's a pretty orange picture!
 Image via

Do you ever feel like maybe your vision isn't "good" enough? Or am I just crazy.. Well I'll admit I can be a little crazy. What do you do to get yourself out of a funk? Does your fiancé help?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bridesmaids: the search for an orange dress continued...

On a gloomy rainy day in NYC, three of my bridesmaids and I headed out with our umbrellas and rain boots to try on some dresses! We headed over to the famous Macy's in NYC, headed up to the 8th floor and into their bridal salon.  We specifically wanted to look at dresses from the Eden bridesmaids line and the Dessy collection.
Image via

I wasn't allowed to take pictures... but our consultant liked us and let me take a picture of my final favorites. The girls were full of energy and we had a lot of fun! They tried on A LOT of dresses. They would each make a case for why they did or didn't like a dress. Or they would all veto it before they even left the dressing room! They also all kept hiking up the dresses and saying things like, "I would like it better if it were a little shorter." I started calling them my floozy bridesmaids, joking of course.

If they liked a dress I would have them switch so every girl could try it on and give their opinion. They looked fabulous in almost everything, but they chose their top two favorites.
 Image via

We were thinking we could keep the top the same color and make the skirt orange. This dress then became known as the "creamsicle" dress. Which I'm not sure is a good thing...?

This next dress from Alfred Sung ended up being their #1 favorite.
Image via

I like this dress a lot and I know it would look great on all my girls. The only thing I don't love is the color of the dress. The fabric is kind of iridescent and shiny. It is definitely orange, but has sort of yellow and green undertones. It almost looked pink to me at times. But the girls liked this color a lot better than the bright orange offered by Eden. I just wasn't sure that it was "the one."
 Personal Photo / The girls doing their "model poses" The pink dress is the their fav, but it would come in the orange color that my first pretty lady has on.
Personal Photo / With flash, more model poses

We really had a blast, and during the appointment the consultant said to me, "You girls are so nice. We get some crazy bridesmaids in here, but your girls are a great bunch." I thought that was very sweet of her to say. And its true, my girls are so great! They gave me their honest opinion but would add, "I'll wear whatever you want. It's totally up to you!" They made it really easy and I'm very thankful to have such great friends!

How has the search for bridesmaids dresses gone for you? Did you ask for your ladies opinion or did you just tell them what you wanted?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bridesmaids: the search for an orange dress

I always envisioned my bridal party looking something like this:
Image via theknot / Photography by Alex Ham
Image via theknot / Photography by Shannon Cunningham
Image via / Photography by Lexi Photography

I LOVE all the orange. These dresses are the exact style I am looking for. Short, fun, cute! Unfortunately the top two pictures are j crew dresses and they don't carry them in orange anymore! Grrrr, they would have been perfect! But there are other dresses out there.... like:
 Image via
Image via Davids Bridal
 Image via Davids bridal 
Image via Alfred Angelo

My favorite of these dresses is the Alfred Angelo. I love the cut and the shade of orange is my favorite. We'll see what the Castle bridesmaids think!

Did you have a hard time finding your bridesmaid dresses? Did you opt for long or short?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The death of a Mac Book Pro

There has been a sad loss in our household. Jeff's trusty five year old Mac Book Pro has bit the dust. And I feel especially bad because I was the last person to use it.... It was definitely on it's way out, but after I used it I asked, "should I turn it off or just close it?" Jeff told me to just close it and I really feel if I had just turned it off it might have lasted a little longer... I could have saved it!

Image from American Dad!

The death of his computer comes at a really bad time. Jeff is a graphic designer of sorts and uses his computer for work. We also were working on building our wedding website on his computer, plus our save the dates and invitations. Why can't we do that on my computer you ask? My poor computer practically predates the internet. I had my first AOL account on this computer. It simply doesn't have the computing power to support Photoshop and the other software Jeff uses.

The other major bummer is we can't really afford a new mac right now. When you're saving for wedding related things an added expense is never good news. But a lot of our wedding DIY projects were going to be accomplished on the now dead computer so a new computer is kind of wedding related... And the thought of having to wait to finish some of these projects are really stressing me out!

I think we are probably going to see if we can finance one and hope that works out. Jeff really needs a computer for work (and is kind of a nerd and definitely wants a new gadget), and our household needs a better computer than mine. So maybe it's time to pool our pre-marital finances on a computer that will hopefully carry us through our first several years of wedded bliss.

It may not be as beautiful or thrilling to me as wedding dresses and decor, but it is nonetheless a vital component to our wedding planning.

Image via
What about you? Any fun or tragic stories about unplanned setbacks leading up to your special day?