It’s been a while–lots of work going on–design never sleeps! It drinks a lot of coffee.
One of my projects was recently featured in TileLetter (TileLetter is the official publication of the National Tile Contractors Association, Inc. (NTCA). We worked with American Olean (and Erin Guy) to create a clean, modern restroom that also performed! We used durable materials because this particular facility is 24/7 and has over 1400 employees.
I went dress shopping once before the J.Crew dress shopping hour-of-power. Once I had made the Saturday morning appointment at J.Crew at Northpark, two weeks in advance, I received an email from BHLDN. I liked many of the dresses at BHLDN, but I was too fearful to order 5 dresses online to then ship back the duds. My mom, sister, and I had talked about making a big day trip to their store in Houston, but that idea was really a back up in case we failed at J.Crew.
The email I received from BHLDN said that they would be doing a trunk show at the Northpark Anthropologie store for two days and you could make an appointment to try on a bunch of stuff! So I mass emailed Mom and the bridesmaids to confirm they’d be up for a weeknight evening appointment (what good sports they are!).
We arrived at Anthropologie and headed back to the dressing room which had been taken over by some scary, opinionated ladies/customers having their appointment with a young bride and super, sweet BHLDN employees who attended to my every need. The sample sizes were close to my size (they had super small sizes and normalish sizes at the trunk show). I, again, had an hour to try on as much as I could. There were only a couple of dresses I was interested in, but I tried on all that they had in my price range. Only a few made it out for show.
One dress I tried on and was very excited was the Annabelle dress. It’s a lovely silhouette and it was originally introduced as a bridesmaids gown, but when I was there, they had just introduced it in white. It has two additional pieces of tulle that can be used to make the dress a halter, asymmetrical, and other things that the BHLDN lady was kind enough to demonstrate on me.
This was a big contender and a “if J.Crew doesn’t work out…” option. The one thing I didn’t love was the stiffness of the tulle. There were times where it didn’t lay how I wanted it to, due to the stiffness, but that probably could have been fixed with some alterations.
The other dress I really liked was a predecessor to the final dress–similar silhouette, but very different fabric. The dress is no longer available, but the fabric was a beautiful silk crepe and it was not forgiving in the areas that I had sinned…
I loved the idea of the shape and the sleeve and the neckline. Maybe if I had sized up and taken it in where I needed to, it would have been more flattering, but I wasn’t ready to purchase it just yet.
Then I tried on fun dresses! I was so impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of the dresses in person (especially at the price point!). My BHLDN attendant wrote down everything I tried on and liked and the sizes we agreed I should get them in. She also gave me a coupon for free shipping, since I didn’t order anything that day. It was a lovely experience–I highly recommend BHLDN!
On dress shopping: I only wanted to go to one store. I knew which dress was mine. There were a few backups to try on, at the same store, just in case.
I coordinated with my mom and bridesmaids for the perfect Saturday morning to visit the JCrew at Northpark. They had recently renovated their store and expanded to where the Men’s Store was across the mall street (it’s a street, right?) and the big store was all womens PLUS a bridal suite (by appointment only). I made an appointment for a Saturday morning in January at 10:00AM when the store opened. Bridesmaid Erin and I sat on a bench outside the store at 9:55AM (she’s a good friend).
They sample the dresses in a size 8 (which is my size, lucky me!) and I was worried they’d only have the latest dresses, but they had some past seasons too (that may have been unique to my visit). I wanted that Nadia dress, but I made a list of about 6 that I wanted to try and my stylist, Spencer suggested 2 more. JCrew’s dresses are simple and modern and well made (I wasn’t sure what to expect, never having seen one of their dresses in person).
I tried on all of them, with the assistance of my patient mother (because who else do you feel totally comfortable getting dressed and undressed in front of?) and maybe only one didn’t make it out for bridesmaid review. Then there was the Nadia dress–the dress–I got it on and…it was not the dress (the center dress). Maybe someone was too hard on the sample dress, but the bust was not working. It had a wrinkle to it that was not coming out. On top of that though, it has beautiful chiffon fabric gathered in different places which was lovely and soft. It didn’t seem right to me. I’m not soft. I’m hard core, rock and roll, and edgy (that’s why I shop at JCrew).
We tried on one of my backups and my second place, the Carson dress (good vibes thinking of my dear Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey). That was it. We were done. I didn’t think my face showed a giant change of expression, but according to everyone else, it did. I wasn’t too surprised that I ended up with a dress with sleeves (I was actually relieved to have the undergarment shoulder support and being a little more covered up). I also wasn’t surprised that I ended up with a very low cut dress–I love a vneck, it makes my neck all long!
We went to lunch after our hour long appointment was up. I didn’t purchase the dress right then. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I was just took fearful to make a decision that quickly (within the last 15 minutes of our appointment) even thought it was obvious that was the dress. I emailed Spencer on Monday, she signed me up for the JCrew credit card so that I would get 20% (!) off my first purchase, so I was all, “Throw in some fantastic silver flats wtih that dress!” It arrived soon enough, I picked it up after work one day and drove it straight to Mom’s house to keep it safe!
I don’t think Philip and I were unique in thinking we wanted to have a “cool” wedding. We wanted to have a big party wtih our friends and family. We wanted it to be laid back, we wanted people to dance, we wanted the food and drinks to be good.
We knew the ceremony would be at First United Methodist Church in Hurst, which is surrounded by neighborhoods. There is not a brand new, perfect, ceremony location for 100-150 people in walking distance. Our mothers did their best to talk us into a cake and punch reception in Fellowship Hall, which would have been lovely, but not the rocking party we envisioned…
Philip had played a gig with his string trio at the North Richland Hills Center–a new, LEED certified facility within 10 minutes of the church. The style was transitional, there was a little outdoor area you could utilize (which peaked our interest when our wedding was going to be in October…), and it was affordable. But they, like all the places we looked at, had some rules–you must use one of their approved caterers and alcohol vendors. Apparently, North Richland Hills has some particulars about who serves alcohol in North Richland Hills, and that left 2 options for our bar. Neither of which we were thrilled with (we didn’t have any unusual requirements for our bar, but we hated being limited).
After some time spent on theknot.com (love/hate that site), I found 809 at Vickery–how did I not know this place existed? It wasn’t far from my apartment, but, really, how often do I drive down Vickery near the Justin factory? We went checked it out one night after work. I was sold. We loved that it was industrial, that it was simple, it was a blank slate (without being barren), it had Christmas lights, you could bring in whatever vendors you wanted–they did have some preferred caterers, but it included Blue Mesa Grill, which is one of our favorite happy hours! I don’t think we had even considered Blue Mesa as a possibility (tacos and margaritas in a cool space?!!?) Downside: it was 20 minutes from the church AND it was the most expensive place we looked at for the reception.
Before EVERYONE involved was settled on booking 809 at Vickery, I offered to visit one more place–the Colleyville Center. It’s a lovely facility not too far from the church (farther than NRH Center, closer than 809 at Vickery), affordable, big beautiful windows, open to different vendors, perfectly great space to have our wedding reception. I just didn’t love it. I didn’t get AS excited about it as I did 809 at Vickery. Philip agreed that if money were no object, he’d prefer 809 at Vickery, but being the logical Philip that he is, would be happy with Colleyville Center and would like to save money whenever possible.
I played my “bride” card. (Is that a thing? Let’s make it a thing. I don’t get to do it anymore anyway. I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I did it…) I mean, everyone was happy with 809 at Vickery. I had to do a bit more convincing and conceptualizing (we’ll save money here, we won’t need to do this…). When we first walked in there, I knew it was the place to have our reception. That was it–decision made! Why didn’t everyone else think so?!? (not everyone things like you, Marie) It’s always best to go with your gut, so I fought hard for everyone to go with MY gut. We were thrilled with the results. The end result felt very “us” (industrial?)–no too fancy, laid back, a great place to have fun!
We’re engaged. We enjoy the rest of our vacation. We head home. All of our loved ones (who had a few days to get their wheels turning) and ready to talk wedding planning! (Honestly, I am too but I didn’t have the computer access I wanted to really start searching!)
Setting the date was, by far, the hardest part of the wedding planning. I think that was the only time during the wedding planning I had a panic attack and cried. Philip and I began talking about October. We both love the fall–the weather, the colors, the vibe–perfection. Far enough from the hot Texas summers and the pending Holiday madness. October was perfection.
We knew we were getting married at our church and their calendar was wide open, as well as our pastor’s, for the month of October. We started to look for venues. We looked in Hurst (where our church is), North Richland Hills, Colleyville, and Fort Worth–we decided on 809 at Vickery in Fort Worth (the selection of a reception venue will have to be it’s own post–that was probably the 2nd most difficult thing).
Most of this back on forth on booking the dates happened over the Holidays (not everyone is eager to reply to your manic emails over the holidays). I tried to book our October date on January 2nd. I didn’t hear anything back for 5 days until, after another email (and a phone call) that someone else had our date on hold.
I cannot describe the frustration I felt. I had coordinated with so many other vendors, 809 at Vickery knew we were interested in this date and had they read my manic email when I sent it, we would have been ahead of the people who held our date (I don’t know this to actually be true, this is how I felt at the time and this is one of the times in my life where my hatred/fear of making phone calls and preference for email did not serve me). We waited out a couple more days just to hear that it had been booked. Devastated. (Devastated in the realm of wedding planning–not truly devastating). I know they’re a small business and they had to treat everyone fairly, but damn, bride’s get sensitive.
I was set on our reception venue, even after all that–I had a vision and I was sticking to it! (an aesthetic vision, not a supernatural one) We looked at other MONTHS to potentially have our wedding. Philip’s birthday is in August, my birthday is in September, our good friends were having their wedding reception in July, and I was too fearful to book it before then because I wanted more time to plan, but not “one year+” to plan. Philip has a busy work month in September, so we looked at August. We don’t have kids or teachers in our immediately family (just some friends who were happy to have an end of summer celebration), so we don’t care about the school year (we’re evil). I contacted 809 at Vickery who had the date we wanted in August available–we had it on HOLD.
I contacted all of our other vital attendees and vendors–we’re good to go! We needed to check with our pastor… You know, he’s not usually in the office on Friday and Saturday (when all of this was going down). I did the unthinkable. I asked Philip if he had our pastor’s cell phone number. (What do you know, he did!) Philip…would you please call our pastor, on his day off, and ask him if he’s available for our date…please, because the pastor hasn’t responded to my two-day old email and your fiancé is insane now. Philip did it, because he loves me, our pastor was super nice about it, checked his schedule, and yes, THIS WAS HAPPENING. August 23, 2014.
Philip and I went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas last fall. It’s a place his parents visit annually–they love it there, they had lots of recommendations, the planning was easy. We spent the first night in Little Rock. I wanted to see the Clinton Library and Philip wanted to take me to the Old Mill. The wha? Yes, the Old Mill. Philip spent some elementary school years in North Little Rock, and he knew of a beauitful spot to take pictures (important fact about Philip: he loves taking pictures WITH a tripod).
We made it to Eureka Springs where we stayed at the beautiful Heart Stone Inn (if we weren’t staying here, I would have tried to sneak in for the amazing breakfast they serve daily). I don’t remember where all we ate, I don’t remember where all we shopped. The weather was lovely, we walked everywhere in the downtown area and it is HILLY. I ended up wearing my Nikes the whole time.
On THE day, Friday, November 1st, we toured Thorncrown Chapel–beautiful, quiet, intimate. A must-see for interior designers and architects.
Then we headed to a scenic spot–I didn’t understand why we stopped here. It was a lovely overlook, but we were parked VERY close to some rental condos. I felt like we were standing in a stranger’s yard. (I later learned that this was the original proposal spot, but I was being a jerk about being very close to some rental condos.)
After that, we went to the Blue Spring Heritage Center, home of the Blue Spring that feeds into the White River. It’s basically a nice garden area with a walking trail and it’s autumn and beautiful and the weather was great. We took a break from walking and taking pictures and sat down on a bench (I made us move to another bench immediately because the first one was wet). Philip began talking to me, saying really sweet things, and I started picking at something on his sweater (I was in fine form). Then, all the sudden, Philip was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. I think he officially asked me to marry him, I remember shouting “YES!” in his face.
We texted our family (who were all at work and on the edge of their seats waiting for the news). We headed into town for lunch, smiling like goofs, followed by rainbow cake and iced mochas.
That afternoon, we went to the Crystal Bridges Museum. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth the trip and I would recommend going on a Friday evening when they stay open late. We wish we had made reservations at the restaurant, Eleven, but we were able to have drinks and appetizers at the bar. We walked the grounds too, still in a stupor of our big life change!
I don’t remember much else about the trip, other than my new ring and trying to start calling Philip, “my fiance.” And henceforth, my black pants that I had just bought became known as my “engagement pants.”
Another reason to get back on the blog: my birthday is on Monday. I will be turning 31, which is awesome. I have loved being 30. I have no fears or anxiety about it. Life is good.
I had an epiphany the other day, when I was thinking about how amazing 30 was for me–I suddenly remembered how terrible 25 was. It’s strange to think of how much you change in those years, but for me there were specific life-changing events during year 25.
The week after my 25th birthday, my relationship (that started in my senior year of high school–6+ years!), ended. It hadn’t been going well for a while, but it finally, officially ended. What a way to start! I moved in with my parents, which ended up being an amazing thing. If you ever need to take stock and restart your life, move in with my parents. They’re loving, caring, and know how to have fun. After about 4 months of self-evaluation, I moved out and lived alone for the first time. I did not sleep well that first night, but I learned how to kill my own bugs (hint: vacuum cleaner).
During this time, one thing I decided to do (something I had not done in 6+ years) was to say “yes” to [most] everything–parties, dinners, happy hours, etc. This included when my friend, Jess invited me to see her boyfriend’s band play late on a Sunday night in Fort Worth–sure, why not? What else am I doing? I ended up meeting Philip that night (PS that’s the guy I just married) and we started dating a few months later.
Two weeks into dating Philip, I was laid off from my job–my first job out of college (also where I interned my senior year). We all knew lay-offs were coming, but I had so much confidence–I would NEVER be laid off, I was irreplaceable, I was awesome at my job! Turns out that wasn’t true. I didn’t realize how inflated my confidence was (I blame it on the optimism of being in your 20s). I finally understood what being “put in your place” meant. It hurt–emotionally and mentally. It still bugs me to this day, but man I learned a lot about myself and my friends from it. And boy, it was fun to tell your boyfriend of two weeks!!!
I was fortunate to only be unemployed for a month. In that time I kept myself very busy with exercise, job applying, and socializing (on a budget). I found a new job in Fort Worth where my BFF, Erin was working (she got me the job, she’s amazing). I lived in Dallas though. Six months later, I moved to Fort Worth (this actually happened when I was 26 to be clear)–back where I went to college and not physically far from where I went to college and basically, living among the people who currently went to my college. Philip lived in Fort Worth too, so I was happy to move!
Dating Philip and my new life in Fort Worth including going to church again. I grew up going to church, but like many college students, once Mom wasn’t there to wake up me and insist we go every Sunday morning, it didn’t happen. Philip went to an excellent church and had many friends there who welcomed me and became my good friends too. The church offered Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” course. We hadn’t been dating long, but we thought, “Hey, I’m no financial expert…let’s check it out!” I had certainly messed up my finances when I was laid off (no savings and happy to put it on a credit card!) This was very formative for our new relationship–we were motivated to pay off our debt, build up our savings, and make smart financial decisions. It helps us to this day, now that we’re married, to talk about money goals living on a budget! Life changing.
Age 25 in summation: break up, lived with Mom & Dad, Philip, lived alone, laid off, went to church, new job, financial peace!
I spelled out most of age 30 in my last post, but here’s a brief recap: I quit the Fort Worth job and started a Dallas job. Philip and I got engaged. I moved to Dallas. Philip moved to Dallas. Philip and I got married. Those shorts sentences cannot convey the joy and hard work put into that year, but trust me, there was lots of it.
Many other formative things happened in the years between 25 and 30, but had 25 not happened the way it did, I truly believe that I would be on a different path in my life. I was HUMBLED in year 25. I say, insensitively, that everyone should have a year like that in their life–a bad break up, being fired, etc. because it stopped me in my tracks. I learned you can work hard and do you best, but it still may not go how you planned and that’s okay.