Wedding Etiquette

Since Matt and I got engaged, I have become obsessed with weddings. Not only the process of planning my own wedding, but reading about other weddings, wedding vendors and looking at countless photographs. The main “feeders” of my addiction are wedding blogs: Once Wed, Snippet and Ink, and 100 Layer Cake. These are far and away the best wedding blogs out there. I also purchases a lot of bridal magazines when we first started the planning process, but now I limit my reading to the Martha Stewart Wedding magazine that arrives in my mail box every month.

While my father certainly sees this as an addiction, I see it more an informal research. Who knows when this will come in handy again. Knowing when it is appropriate to mail out save the dates (roughly six – seven months before the wedding), how many people to invite to your shower (only people who are invited to the wedding should be considered) and what are the Best Man’s responsibilities (throw the bachelor party, carry the rings – unless there is a ring bearer, and make sure the Groom actually shows up on time)! These are all crucial things that everyone should probably know.

In addition, I have learned that as a wedding guest you never wear white, always show up on time, don’t take pictures during the ceremony, RSVP promptly and send gifts either before or after the wedding – don’t bring it to the wedding. And while my list of “wedding guest skills” doesn’t include amazing dance moves, it does include, “amazing gift giver.”

As I wrote about earlier (see previous post) I have a talent for finding deals, especially when it comes to wedding presents. I am happy, yet slightly embarrassed to say, that I put these skills to use yesterday.

Conversation with Jamie (one of my bridesmaids):

Me: I am the best wedding guest ever.
Jamie: Why?
Me: Because I find deals and buy sick wedding presents.
Jamie: That does make you a good wedding guest. I can’t wait to invite you to my wedding.
Me: Yes, agreed. I am happy I invited myself to my own wedding. And I just bought myself two of my place settings as a gift.
Jamie: Umm, what?
Me: They were on sale at Macy’s… buy one place setting, get another free! That is just too good to pass up.
Jamie: That is a good deal, but I think the whole point of a wedding registry is to have OTHER people buy you presents.
Me: It is? Interesting…

Thank you Macy’s for randomly deciding the carry a limited amount of my china, at an incredible discount.

    

And for those of you who hate shopping and never know what to get off the registry, my services are available on a consultation basis.

Cyber Monday

After the turkey has been carved, the parade has passed Macy’s on 34th street and the relatives return home we come back to work on Monday, a little rounder around the belly. While we have enjoyed time away from the office, many people will return to work exhausted from the holiday festivities. And this is only the beginning. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can focus on the remainder of the holiday season. For many of us, this means stringing lights, hanging ornaments and breaking out the Christmas music. It is the most wonderful time of the year and sometimes the most tiring. However, I for one, think it is entirely worth it.

After Thanksgiving, my mom sister and I participated in the craziness that is Black Friday. While my mom and Abby stocked up on Christmas presents for nearly everyone on their list, I concentrated on myself (talk about holiday spirit). As they walked around the store finding things for cousins, aunts, grandparents and friends, I walked around the stores picking up things for myself. This year, I am having a hard time coming up with good ideas for presents, and since I know what I want, it was simply easier to shop for myself. And clearly, I was trying to make the most out of the great sales! Unfortunately, when we returned and looked at our purchases, I realized that I was no closer to being complete with holiday shopping.

So now I am sitting at work, scanning the websites of stores. Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. In 2009, it was reported that consumers spent $887M online on Cyber Monday (excluding travel), the second highest spending day of 2009. Data has shown that Cyber Monday online sales have always been driven by considerable buying activity from work locations. That pattern hasn’t changed. After returning from the long Thanksgiving weekend with a lot of holiday shopping still ahead of them, many consumers tend to continue their holiday shopping from work. Whether to take advantage of the extensive Cyber Monday deals offered by retailers or to buy gifts away from the prying eyes of family members, this day has become an annual ritual for America’s online holiday shoppers.

So for anyone else who is sitting at work scanning the sales, here are some of the top deals going on right this very instant. So make yourself some hot chocolate, set your Pandora to Christmas music and let the festivities begin! (Please note that the first three sites are all part of my registry – what a strange coincidence!)

Crate And Barrel 

The Deal: Stemware, barware, dinnerware

Houseware giant Crate & Barrel is offering 25% off on all kinds of items, across the store, from martini glasses to starter dining sets.

Macy’s

The Deal: The better question is, what isn’t on sale?

The magic of Macy’s includes clothing, jewelry, home goods and kitchen tools. Just enter the code “CYBER” into the coupon code before checking out.

REI

The Deal: Up to 30% off winter gear, clothing and camping supplies!

Great gifts for all of those outdoorsy relatives. Check out the steep discounts on Padagonia jackets and Smart Wool socks. Just in time for winter!

Kohls

The Deal: Pillows, mattresses, watches, outerwear

Retail giant Kohl’s slashes prices on its site 35% to 60%, on everything from watches and jewelry to outerwear and home goods.

Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft

The Deal: 40% off EVERY THING plus free shipping

For the fashionista on your list. Use code “ENJOY” at checkout.

Victorias Secret

The Deal: Dresses, jackets, shoes

Victoria Secret is offering up to 70% off select bras, underwear and sleepwear. Shoppers who buy sleepwear will receive a free pair of slippers if they use the code VS10SLEEP at checkout–and anyone can receive free shipping on their order if they enter the code SHIPVS1. Get your holiday jammies before it is too late!

Check out these sites for other great deals:

Handmade gifts

Photo gifts

Sports gifts

Unique gifts

Tasting the Forbidden Fruit

 

Growing up, our household had a lot of holiday traditions. Some of these have since ended, but some are continued to this day.

Most years, I ran in the Memorial Day Road Race. It started as something that I did with my father. I will never forget the first year we ran together. I was in Kindergarten and 5 years old. We “trained” by running around the block near my house. At best, the block covers a total distance of .5 miles and we probably did this 2-3 different times before the race. This was plenty of physical preparation for the 5K run. Unfortunately what my dad didn’t account for was the massive amounts of psychological training I should have been doing.

The race ends with a 100 yard stretch that is lined with the friends and families members of people participating. Well, as we ran down this stretch, I burst into tears. I am not sure what triggered this, but I can tell you that it was a fair warning for my parents for all of the tears that were to come as a result of tennis matches, soccer games, swim meets and all other competitive atmospheres. I finished the race, placing 3rd in the 8 & under division (I can’t imagine there were more than 5 kids in this age group…) and proudly brought my medal into Kindergarten for show and tell the following Monday. For many years after, I participated in this race, often with a different family member.

On Halloween, our town wouldn’t have trick-or-treating on the day of Halloween OR at night. This lead to problems when the New England Swimming Top Ten Banquet often fell on the weekend of trick-or-treating. We probably attended that banquet for 10 years in a row, and would find ourselves sneaking out early so that we could make it home for the last couple hours of trick-or-treating. Either that or we would be coming from a soccer game…

The 4th of July normally meant watching fireworks from CMC (one of the hospitals that my father worked at) and Easter was a family brunch at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference center… I know, I thought that one was weird too. Christmas was matching PJs on Christmas Eve and for the past 15 years, the Candlelight Service at the Bedford Presbyterian Church.  Thanksgiving brings cooking, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and many times charades with our family friends, the Possees. However, the tradition I like the most comes the day after Thanksgiving.

While I certainly participate in the shopping escapades that make up Black Friday, the tradition that I am referring to is the welcoming of Christmas. I have a strict “no Christmas” policy until Thanksgiving has past. While I am not a huge fan of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, I do think that the idea of Thanksgiving is one that should not be forgotten. Everyone races to get to Christmas and I find that this holiday gets overlooked. So, as a way to honor Thanksgiving, I don’t listen to Christmas music, set up decorations or truly start my Christmas shopping until that day after Thanksgiving. 

That being said, I LOVE Christmas music. From the Friday after Thanksgiving straight through to Christmas Day, I don’t listen to anything else. I have created countless Christmas Music stations on my Pandora and know the words to basically every Christmas song ever written. I find myself tempted to listen to christmas music, especially if I enter a store that has their holiday decoration out in full force. However, it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.

Today, while I was sitting at work listening to my “classical music” Pandora station, a song came on that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. When I switched my computer screen over to the Pandora website to see the name of the song, I knew immediately that something had gone terribly wrong. The song that I was listening to, and enjoying, was none other than Angels from the Relms of Glory, a 100% Christmas song. I immediately changed the channel, but it was too late. I had tasted the forbidden fruit and I want more.

I now find myself trying to fulfill my musical appetite with the likes of Taylor Swift, the cast of Glee and Something Corporate. Unfortunately all I crave is Mannheim Steamroller, the London Boy’s Choir, and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. It is going to be a long 3 weeks…

One Day Sale

I am sure that all of you have seen a Macy’s commercial that is similar to this one. They advertise the “One Day Sale” and make shoppers believe that is it THE ONE DAY where items in the store are on sale. If you miss it, the deals will be gone and you will  have to wait until there is another one day sale. The thing that they don’t tell you is that EVERY day at Macy’s is a sale day.

This year has been the year of weddings for me and Matt. We have traveled to South Bend (twice), Boston (twice), Vermont, Chicago and Ohio. The weddings have all been extremely inspiring to us, as we start to plan our own wedding. We are so lucky to have so many great friends to show us the ropes and support us as we enter into the next phase of our relationship and life.

Along with inspiration comes the wedding gifts. I LOVE going registry gift shopping. It is always interesting to see what people chose for plates, knives, bakeware, sheets, towels and coffee makers. Nearly everyone registers at Macy’s, and quite frankly, how can you blame them. You can register for EVERYTHING at Macy’s and with their 365 different One Day Sales, your guests can get some fabulous deals. And your purchases help to support to world’s best parade. It is a win-win.

A few months ago, I went online to buy a present for one of the weddings. I saw that their china was buy 2 pieces, get a third free. So I decided to order 3 pieces for them. Unfortunately, when I added these items to my online shopping basket, the deal was not applied. I promptly called customer service and asked to speak to someone who could solve my problem. While she was working on it, I found a coupon code online that earned me an additional 15% off AND free shipping. Then when my customer service rep came back, she told me that she fixed the problem and that I would get a free bowl for everyone ONE I ordered. Well, that wasn’t a deal I was going to question. In all, I ended up ordering nearly 600 dollars of china and paid only 150 dollars. SICK!

Today I went back to Macy’s to buy another wedding present. With very little effort, I found a toaster and a waffle iron that we both on sale (20% off), did a google search for a free shipping coupon and happily made my purchase. I ended up saving over 120 dollars.

Honestly, I think I should quit my job and become a personal wedding present shopping. Obviously, I have a gift :)

I heart KitchenAid

I love getting things in mail. The sense of excitement I get when I open the mail box and see something inside is great. Over the years, I have signed up to receive various catalogues so now, it is a very rare occurrence for me to open the mailbox and see nothing inside. I am embarrassed to say that most of the time, the catalogue goes unread and finds its way into the recycling bin rather quickly. My favorite things to receive in the mail are cards, wedding save the dates and invitations and of course packages. Today was a great day, as I came home to find a package, from a loyal blog reader, waiting and I had no idea what it was.

I brought the box upstairs to our apartment and hurried to open it. Inside was something I have been obsessing over for longer than I would like to admit – a glass, anniversary edition KitchenAid bowl (and just when you thought I couldn’t get any dorkier…)

I have wanted a KitchenAid for years. Basically, as soon as I found Martha Stewart owned one, I wanted one for my own kitchen. Growing up, my mom baked a lot, but for some reason she never upgraded from her hand mixer to a KitchenAid. Once I graduated and got my own apartment the thought of buying myself a KitchenAid as a house-warming present, entered my mind. I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on a present for myself, especially when I wasn’t baking that much. Like my mom, I settled for a hand mixer and added it to my Christmas list that year.

However the thought of the mixer lingered and I visited many Macys, William Sonoma and Bed, Bath and Beyond stores to “visit” the glorious machines. A year ago, I told myself that if I found a new job, I would reward my hard work and finally buy a mixer. I picked out the size and color and was ready to drop more than 300 dollars, so that I too, could bake like Martha. Last June, at the beginning of the month, I was offered my current job. While I had met the requirements I set forth for myself, I still couldn’t bring myself to buy the mixer. Matt and I were moving into a new apartment and I didn’t want to overwhelm him with countless kitchen supplies and tools (Silly me, I actually cared about his opinions back then!)

Well, lo and behold… my mom came to the rescue. She realized that I, much like her, couldn’t justify spending so much money on something that I didn’t really need – the hand mixer worked just fine. Macy’s had a sale one weekend and she purchase me the cobalt blue KicthenAid mixer as a housewarming gift. When it arrive in the mail, it was love at first sight.

Right around the holidays, my parents came to visit me and we stopped in at William Sonoma. I spotting the anniversary edition KitchenAid mixer right away. At first, I wasn’t impressed. The mixer was red, which doesn’t really get me too excited; however, then I noticed the bowl. Unlike my mixer that came with a stainless steel bowl, this one came with a glass bowl. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. Unfortunately (or fortunately according to Matt) the bowl was not sold separately and I was NOT going to buy another mixer, no matter how much I wanted that bowl.

I have searched for the bowl on google, kitchenaid.com, amazon and eBay. Sadly, all of my searches came up empty. I told my mom of this sadness, which she clearly understood.  I told myself that the stainless steel bowl was perfect as it matched my appliances and I eventually moved on.

However, when I came home from work today and opened this unexpected package, all of my original feelings came rushing back. I immediately washed the bowl and started searching my refrigerator and cupboards to see if I could scavenge together enough ingredients for ANY of my baking recipes. Thankfully I ALWAYS have the basic baking ingredients on hand (flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, etc) and I was able to bake a vanilla cake.

I am now sitting on the couch, perfectly content with my new glass bowl and my beautiful cakes, which are cooling on wire racks in the kitchen. The delicious smell of melted butter has taken over our apartment and I am happy.

Stay tuned to find out if the cake actually tastes good (Matt will be the judge of that as he is typically my taste tester). I will post pictures tomorrow after I have decorated the cake. Please leave suggestions for decorating ideas. Just remember that I am not Duff from Ace of Cakes, although I wish I was.