Now what?

It’s only natural to start dreaming and making plans for the big day right after getting that ring on your finger – but where to begin? So many decisions to make and so many opinions to dodge in order to keep your wildest dreams at the forefront. Then there’s this little thing called a budget – which can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Time to figure out what money you’ve got and how much weddings (in general) actually cost. REALITY.

This definitely caused a bit of frustration for me at first. I had a big imagination and not enough funds. Or so I thought. I was picturing an evening ceremony atop a high rise in downtown Los Angeles. Twinkling city lights and the night sky would make such a romantic background (swoon!). Then I remembered, it’s not just my wedding. Justin has a say in this, too. I decided to share my ideas with him only to find he was, shall we say, less than thrilled about what I came up with. Back to the drawing board. I wanted a small private event and he was hoping to invite his five hundred closest friends. Being that we were worlds apart on this whole wedding thing, we decided it would be best to start by figuring out our budget and then plan accordingly. With fingers crossed, very tightly, in hopes that what we wanted and what we could afford could somehow get along.

To our surprise, both sets of parents offered to contribute funds toward our budget. Trust me, I know that not everyone, in this day and age, is fortunate enough to have such a luxury. If it weren’t for them, we’d be heading to the local Justice of the Peace or road trippin’ it to Vegas on the few dollars we have saved up. Anyway, they each had a set dollar amount in mind and so anything above and beyond that would be up to us. So with that, Justin and I figured out our magic number. Sharing the weight of the finances is definitely the way to go. I’m all for a team effort. Especially when working on something this big!

Next, we began the hunt for a venue. This was a challenge at first because..well…because of me. I’m very particular about EVERYTHING (in life) but I was especially particular about our wedding venue. Big surprise, I know. It’s just that I’ve worked in the wedding industry for years which means I’ve seen or at least heard of just about everything. I’ve been overly exposed to our local venues and I wanted something different. A place I’ve never been to before. Thanks to my fiance’s sister, we found the perfect place! She recommended we take a look at Marvimon in Los Angeles. Yes, the fact that it was in my dream city gave it some automatic appeal. It was a car showroom in the 1920’s and later became a private residence but has now turned into a very unique venue for weddings and events. Justin and I both fell in love with it right away and from that moment on we couldn’t picture having our wedding anywhere else. Lucky for us, it just so happens they were running a special rate. It was meant to be. Here’s a sneak peek:

After that big decision, things really started to fall into place – finally! Our next task was to find a caterer that was not only familiar with Marvimon but could also provide a custom menu, oh, and one more thing – extremely affordable! I had heard about a caterer via The Knot, so I contacted him and then Justin took over from there. He and Steve with La Finestra emailed back and forth a bunch of times and together they created what sounded like a delicious meal. He invited us to come do a tasting and we were sold. In fact, I still think about that food every now and then and just can’t wait to eat it again. One more thing to check off our list – phew!

The only thing I knew, for sure, when it came to selecting vendors was who I wanted my photographers to be. Several years ago, I befriended a gal named Erin. The lovely She behind He & She Photography. Ever since she and her dashing husband, Randy, started doing what they do best, I’ve been just waiting for the day I could hire them to do my wedding. We’re really excited to do our engagement shoot with them hopefully sometime next month. Stay tuned for some amazing pics.

So, considering the fact that our wedding is still seven months away, I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start, wouldn’t you? It’s been a lot of work but it’s really paid off. We haven’t even had to make any major sacrifices because the people we’ve chosen to work with have been so great about offering good prices and working with our budget. Such a blessing! For those of you out there who are working on a wedding of your own (or plan to get married someday), get ready for a little personal advice from yours truly: vendors are almost always willing to work with what you’ve got, so just ask them! It’s as simple as that. It really doesn’t hurt to ask and, 99% of the time, people will at least meet you half way. It’s the trick to making the most with what you’ve got. Justin and I have been pleasantly surprised every step of the way thus far. Here’s to more checks on that list! xo Alanna

Engaged!


A new chapter has begun in my life and I’m going to blog about it – yes, you read it right. I’ve decided to open my personal life up for all to see! Those of you who know me, know that this is a big step for me – no, let’s be honest, it’s a flying leap. For those of you who don’t, well, you’re just lucky enough to get to know me now that I’ve reached this new carefree, open phase of life. Hooray! Anyone who holds Justin and I near and dear, needs ideas for their own upcoming wedding, loves LOVE or just likes to snoop online when bored at work is welcome to read on…

December 9, 2011 marks the day that everything changed. Justin had told me a couple months prior about his plan to schedule a weekend get away for us. Usually we do alot of planning together but in the weeks following, he didn’t include me in any of the details! He wanted it to be a surprise. I happily obliged and did my best to go with the flow. Definitely not my strong suit but, and I think Justin will agree, I did pretty well without asking too many pestering questions. So when we arrived to San Francisco on that sunny December morning, I very willingly did whatever he suggested without worrying about the rest of our itinerary. We wandered all over downtown on foot and even made our way to the ever popular Lombard Street where we snapped one of my new favorite shots of us (above). After we’d had our fill of city sights, we hailed a taxi and headed back to our hotel. I had a few minutes to slip off my shoes and rest my achey feet before receiving a knock at the door – here’s where the surprises start rolling in. I opened the door to find my sister and her husband. Surprise number one! This is the moment when all fleeting thoughts of a romantic proposal that dared to make their way to my silly imagination bolted out the door, down to the lobby and exited the premises to hail a taxi of their own. I quickly realized this trip wasn’t going to be a fun filled adventure for just the two of us after all. It was time to gear up for a few days of group activities. The first of which, I soon found out, was going to be an evening of ice skating in Union Square. Surprise number two! Keep in mind, I hadn’t skated since I was twelve and even then I wasn’t great at it, but I decided to grin and bear it…I’m a carefree, go with the flow kind of girl now, remember? So I grabbed my coat and a warm pair of socks and we headed to the rink. All the while, unbeknownst to me, Justin had a very special, sparkly something in his pocket, just waiting for the perfect moment to make it’s way to a certain finger of mine.

Before going any further, let me just say, Christmas time downtown is unbelievable. Skyscrapers covered from head to tow in glittering lights, wreaths in every window, and of course a larger than life Christmas tree at the center of it all, glowing with warm wishes. Oh, and did I forget to mention the holiday tunes wafting through the air? That is what we found ourselves surrounded by as the four of us stepped, with slight hesitation (on my part), onto the ice. After wobbling around for awhile on weak ankles, I was finally starting to get the hang of it when Justin suggested we pull off to the side for a minute to take a breather. So we skated hand in hand to the edge of the rink. No big deal, right? Boy, was I mistaken. That’s when he decided to profess his love to me and that he didn’t want to be with anyone else. Best surprise ever! Yes, ladies, he did attempt to get down on one knee before placing that dazzling ring on my finger, however, it proved to be potentially hazardous in a pair of slippery skates. So cute! I remember exclaiming ‘yes!’ and then things got a little fuzzy after that. Overwhelmingly exciting, life changing moments tend to have that effect on me. I do remember the whole ice skating rink roaring with applause and cheers of congratulations – just like in the movies but it was real life. My real life. It was so romantic, so festive, and so perfect!

The rest of the weekend was spent in newly engaged bliss. There’s just something about walking down a busy, crowded street full of strangers while holding hands with the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with – your outlook on everything changes. It’s such an amazing feeling. Everything we did – eating breakfast across the table from each other at Rocco’s Cafe, taking pictures together at the Golden Gate Bridge, heading to the airport sitting side by side on the Bart – I couldn’t help but take little mental pictures along the way and really soak in the fact that I was experiencing it with the man I’m going to marry. Big deal.

So it begins…lots of planning and lots of excitement with a few tears of frustration and joy along the way! All of which I’m going to dare to keep you posted. xo. Alanna