Happy Memorial Day!

Hi friends!  Sorry I didn’t post yesterday—I was actually VERY busy with blog stuff, just not writing.  I have taken the plunge to self-hosted, registered me a fancy domain and such, and am in the process of getting the new site up, running, and pretty.  I’m hoping it’ll be live within the next week or so.  Whee!

Here is what I did yesterday.

I attempted to make “chocolate chip bread” in my bread maker.  Epic fail.  It burned and the yeast never activated.  Into the trash it went.

0531 001

I took a quick break from bread baking for a run.  And holy hell, it was a hot, hilly, and awful one.

photo

The good news is my shoes feel good (but don’t they always, the first few runs?).  The bad news is that I chalked this one, also, up in the fail category.  I ran a mile and a half (in 88 degree heat) and then started to feel my chest constricting/asthma acting up, and walked home.  Tim snapped the photo above upon my return home.  I am NOT a creature of heat.  But, I suppose they all can’t be good runs, you know?

I then baked a more successful loaf of bread—challah this time.

0531 004

Buttery and eggy and yum.

This afternoon, I decided to avenge yesterday’s bad run, and ran 2 miles in 19:20ish.  It was still hot, so I didn’t want to stay out too long, and I’m kind of getting back in the swing of things still.  I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  It was a good time for being a hilly run!  Unfortunately, once I took my shoes off, my right leg just seized up on the inside from my foot to my ankle and up my shin.  I suspect it’s because of the orthotics—I didn’t wear them yesterday, just to get a feel for my new shoes, and put them in today.  Anything with a lot of arch support tends to do that to me.  Luckily, I iced and it’s feeling much better.  But…gah.  Why can’t this be easy?

Today, Tim and I bought a grill!

0531 005

We prepared delicious burgers and grilled mushroom skewers. 

0531 002

YUM.  The beef we’ve been eating lately is local and delicious.  I also had a little fruit salad on the side!  Since getting back from vacation, Tim and I have consumed almost an entire pound of strawberries, a whole pineapple and a whole cantaloupe.

0531 006

Oh, and Fat Tire.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE beer?  All summer long I crave beer.  I can’t drink a LOT of it in one sitting, but…beer is good.

I also wanted to give my new KitchenAid a whirl, so I made Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

0531 003   

They are packed and ready to be sent in to work with Tim tomorrow!

Verdict on the KitchenAid?  I predict many, many happy hours spent together.  But is it just me, or is making red velvet cake 10,000 times messier than making other kinds of cake?  It looked like a massacre in the kitchen when I was done!  And my iPhone is coated in powdered sugar from the icing.  Whoops.

Anyway, this week will yet again be a little crazy—tomorrow is a normal workday, but Wednesday I fly out to Fort Lauderdale until Sunday.  Onward and upward!

What’s your favorite kitchen appliance?

We’re ba-ack!

From the honeymoon, that is.

It was lovely.  Honestly, this post will probably be pretty light on text, because, well, we didn’t DO much.  And it was glorious. 

Since we love driving and road trips, and saving money, we decided to road trip it to and from the honeymoon cruise.  So…Kansas City to New Orleans.  A 14 hour drive, if you were to do it straight through.  But that’s no fun.

We left early on Friday morning and drove through the day until we arrived in Memphis just in time for dinner.  It was when we sat down here I realized, “Ahh, vacation!” for the first time.

We went to Bosco’s, a brewery/pub type place.  Tim relaxed with a beer.

Honeymoon 054

The beer was awesome.  The food (we got individual pizzas) was just so-so. 

 

Honeymoon 055

We stayed the night in northern Mississippi, and drove from there to New Orleans (about 6 more hours) on Saturday morning.  Our cruise was on the Carnival Triumph to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

Embarkation was kind of a clusterfuck, frankly.  We sat in traffic to get parking at the Port of New Orleans for at least an hour.  Once we parked, it was long line after long line after long line in the heat to get everything checked in and secured and whatnot.  I get that it’s necessary and all, but it was a pretty big buzzkill.  We also got a notice that because of the oil spill, we’d be leaving at 9 pm rather than 4 pm, which would have been nice to know beforehand so we didn’t have to get up at the asscrack of dawn to get there on time.  But, alas.

Eventually we made it through and got on the boat and took  pictures.  New Orleans!

Honeymoon 056

Honeymoon 057

Honeymoon 058

Honeymoon 059

Honeymoon 060

After all the travel hectic-ness, I needed a drink.

Honeymoon 039

With an umbrella, naturally. 

One of the nice things about Carnival was their beverage policy.  Although the cruise did not include the cost of soda or alcohol, they allow each guest to carry on (not check) a 12 pack of soda and a bottle of wine (not hard liquor).  We each carried on soda, so we didn’t pay for that all week, and a bottle of wine, which contributed to two fun, boozy nights.  We did end up buying a few mixed drinks, but the prices were reasonable (about $5 for an Absolut vodka/tonic, about $7 for a fancy mixed drink or top shelf booze) and the drinks were STRONG. 

Here is a montage of what we did pretty much the entire trip.

Honeymoon 061Honeymoon 041

Honeymoon 048

Read and laze.  Yes, I got sunburned.  I swear to you, it was accidental—no joke, Tim and I used an entire spray can of SPF 30 the first day on the boat and we both got burned anyway.  I’d brought two cans, but the aerosol thingamajig was not working in the second one, and the store on the boat was closed, so we spent our second day in the shade!

Our first port was Progreso, Mexico.  We didn’t get off the boat for very long—we just browsed around a duty-free shopping area near the dock.  Nothing too exciting. 

Progreso is not the most scenic.

Honeymoon 042 Honeymoon 043

The second port was Cozumel, which I don’t have any pictures of.  We did debark that day and take a snorkeling tour, which was fantastic.  I’d never snorkeled before, but it was so much fun!   Definitely the highlight of the trip.

A few random photos inside the boat.   The lobby:

   Honeymoon 046

The barstools that made us crave Reese’s:

Honeymoon 047

Our stateroom:

Honeymoon 064

Honeymoon 065 

Assorted towel creatures:

Honeymoon 049

Honeymoon 062 

Honeymoon 063

And the ONE picture we got together on the whole honeymoon:

Honeymoon 068

My impatient debarkation face:

28975_861880652260_15908788_46916414_6395321_n

All in all, we enjoyed cruising.  While we decided we’d probably both go on a cruise again, we’d probably not go with Carnival.  Here are the pros and cons, in my opinion.

Pros:

  • Service was great.  Our stateroom steward and dining room waitress were both very nice and helpful, and all the other Carnival employees were perfectly attentive and polite.  They were really a highlight of the trip—anything we needed or wanted, they would get it for us.
  • The boat was very clean and well-staffed. 
  • Cozumel was a beautiful port.  We didn’t see enough of Progreso to judge it fairly!
  • The drinks we ordered at the various bars were all really good and made strong.
  • I really liked the breakfasts on board, especially in the main dining room!  The omelets I had were great, and I liked generally that the portion sizes were fairly small so you didn’t overeat too much.
  • We really loved the excursion we booked in Cozumel through Carnival.
  • They show movies outdoors at night, and we really enjoyed (re)watching the most recent Harry Potter movie with a bottle of wine on our last night!

Cons:

  • My biggest issue was the food.  We agreed that the Lido deck (buffet style area) was about one click up from college dorm food, and the main dining room was maybe two clicks up.  We had a few things that we really liked (Tim had lamb he said was great, I had a few good pasta and fruit dishes), but everything else was pretty unremarkable or just kind of bad.  But, we recognize you get what you pay for, and we were on a budget. 
  • There was one show we wanted to see the entire cruise—a comedian—and the lounge was packed, standing room only, when we showed up 20 minutes early.
  • SMOKING.  It seemed like everyone on the boat had a cigarette dangling from their mouth or fingers the whole time.  It was really annoying.  If there were non-smoking areas on the boat, they weren’t enforced.
  • I did not like being constantly hounded by photographers to take cheesy posed photos.  We said “no thanks” every time, but it was a little annoying after awhile.

Anyway, just my opinion, take it with a grain of salt!

After we debarked, we set out to explore New Orleans for the day, mostly with our stomachs.  Our first stop was for beignets and coffee at the iconic Cafe du Monde.

Honeymoon 069

We split an order of beignets and whoa, they were good.  (But, you know, it’s pretty hard to screw up fried dough coated in sugar.)

Honeymoon 070 

We walked around the French Quarter for awhile.  It was HOT!

Honeymoon 071

Honeymoon 073

Honeymoon 072

You guys, I have a confession to make.  Our second gastronomic adventure of the day MIGHT be my #1 highlight of the entire honeymoon.  (Um, except spending lots of time with my husband.  Right.  Tim > ham sandwich.)

For lunch, we visited the John Besh (who is kind of a total hottie, and OMG did I just say hottie?) restaurant Luke.  (There is a dotty thing over the U, but I am too tired to figure that one out.)  I am 99% certain this was the best meal of my life.

I ordered the Croque Madame.  In normal terms, a ham sandwich with Emmentaler cheese and a fried egg on top.  With French fries.

Honeymoon 052

You guys, I cannot even explain this sandwich.  It was out of control good.  Everything.  The egg, the ham, the bread, the cheese…to die for.  I mashed up the yolk so the whole sandwich was nice and eggy and ate it with a knife and fork.  It was obvious the ham was not just HAM, but…god, I don’t know.  Made from a golden pig, or something. 

Tim liked it, too.  He got cochon au lait, which was basically some kind of pulled pork and ham sandwich with cherry mustard, Emmentaler cheese and cornichons.  I tried a little and it was also from the same gilded pig that made my sandwich.

Honeymoon 051

We spent the afternoon exploring the garden district (no pictures, because I was driving) and then set out for our final gigantic decadent meal of the day at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA.

28975_861971051100_15908788_46920072_3742017_n 28975_861971240720_15908788_46920075_3395408_nMy meal was just okay.  Tim raved about his, though, and we both loved dessert there.

On Friday, we drove through to Tim’s parents’ house in southern MO, stayed there for the night, and drove the last few hours home this morning.  It feels good to be back, although I’m flying to Fort Lauderdale for work Wednesday through Sunday!

In other news, I went to my favorite running store today and bought the running shoes I hope will solve my problems—neutral, wide width, half size larger New Balances.  They feel like clouds on my feet.  Cross your fingers that these will be “the one.”

                     Honeymoon 074

Can you believe marathon training starts officially in a WEEK?  Not me.  I’ve missed regular running and racing with all the wedding mania that’s been going on the last two months!  I’m working on finding and registering for some races in June and July to keep me occupied—we’ll see how it goes!

Did I miss anything big?  What happened in the blog world last week?

Gone honeymoonin’

0520 003 0520 004 0520 005

See you in a week!

Salty, sweet, and carbs

I…am not posting pictures of most of what I ate today.  The “must have salt and sweet and carbs” PMS monster took over.  I put a huge dent in a bag of community pita chips at work.  There was a mid-afternoon Tootsie Pop.  It wasn’t pretty.

After work was better.  I decided, in the spirit of “To run faster, you have to run faster” to, well, run fast.  Two miles, fast.  17:36.  Average pace?  8:48!  I felt incredible.  It was hard, but not awful.  I just KNOW I can check off my goal of a 26:59 5K this year sometime.  I can feel it!

Unfortunately, it feels like this.

0519 001

Blisters.  Again.  On Monday, my feet were pristine—I got a pedicure the morning of the wedding, and God bless that Lisa, she took a cheese grater to them and they looked almost normal, save for the black toenail.

On my way home, I was counting the minutes until I could walk in the door and rip my shoes off.  I literally felt like my feet were being squeezed, HARD.  I don’t feel like my shoes are too small lengthwise, per se—but I feel almost like they’re too small from top to bottom, if that makes sense.  I think the orthotics take up a lot of room in the shoe and my foot feels kind of compressed.  Sigh.  As soon as I can, I’m paying a visit to the running store.  Again.  Ugh.

Dinner was my ultimate comfort food. 0519 002

There’s nothing like it when you’re feeling gross.  Obviously, this was totally healthy, because it was Annie’s mac n’ cheese and a whole wheat bun.  Right? 

One more work day until the honeymoon!  I’m dying here.  So. Excited.

Administrative note: Once I get our CD of professional pictures, I’m going to do full recaps of the wedding day!  Our photographer said we’d have them within a month of the wedding.

What foods do you lack self-control around?  For me, it’s chips of any kind—I’ll take a handful here and there until they’re gone, which is why I don’t buy them!  But when they show up at work…watch out.

Need for speed

Hummus craving?  Satisfied.

0518 001

Love it.  Although garlicky hummus breath is an issue.

I also had my usual spinach/balsamic combo, some cantaloupe (although it was hard and flavorless and I’m probably just going to dump the rest), and yogurt with granola.

Work today was CRAZY.  I wasn’t feeling the gym.  But I knew I should.

I decided that not feeling like going + blistering from the orthotics meant that I should keep today’s workout short.  I decided to run two miles.  After a mile, I decided to run much faster than I usually do and cranked the treadmill up to an 8:30 pace.  And…I felt fine.  It was hard, but not un-maintainably so.  In fact, I sped up and finished at a 7:50 pace!  All in all, I ran my second mile in 8:22, a new personal record for me.

While I was running so fast, (aside from biting my tongue REALLY HARD OW) I was thinking about fear.  I think I stick with “comfortable” numbers on the treadmill because I’m afraid of failing.  I know I can run a 9:50 mile, and I’ll do it well.  An 8:00 mile?  Scary.  I don’t know if I can do that.  I think my asthma is a factor here—I’m afraid that if I push hard, something bad will happen (although, realistically, I know my limits and would stop before that happened.)

I think the fact that I’m punching in a specific speed on a treadmill is holding me back.  Unfortunately, treadmill running is my best option for running most of the time.  I wonder how fast I’d be if I just found a flat surface and ran, you know?  So, from here on out…I’m going to run faster.  As Kath once wrote, “To run faster, you have to RUN FASTER.”  (Or something like that.) 

Even though I ran fast, and for less time than yesterday, my feet still blistered.  I’m beginning to accept that blistering just might be my normal (though I’m still going to try a wider shoe and see what happens).  Eff. 

In other news, we had our first kitchen fire today.

0518 002

Tim put it out quickly.  (He set a paper towel on a hot burner.) But our house is smelling a little smoky.  Oops.

Milhouse ran and hid.

0518 003

Buckley didn’t move. 0518 004

It’s comforting to know our animals would save us in a disaster.

Two more work days until the honeymoon!  And two questions:

1. How do you conquer your fears?

2.  Runners: how do you figure out your comfortable pace and stick with it?

Hummus on the brain

Happy Monday!  These are iPhone photos—I forgot my camera, sorry.  But, I have to say, the quality has VASTLY improved over my old phone.

Lunch.  Unpictured spinach, canteloupe/pineapple, yogurt:

photo(4) 

And some homemade wheat bread with a little homemade PB:

photo(5)

Since the wedding…I confess, I’ve been lacking in the exercise motivation department.  I truly have been busy trying to get our lives back in order, but I decided today I needed to make a triumphant return to the gym.  I KNOW I like working out once I’m there, but getting there is half the battle—especially after work.

So I employed a little external motivation.  I wore two pieces of meaningful workout gear.

photo(6) photo(7)

Silly, maybe, but sometimes you literally need the reason you’re hauling your butt to the gym plastered across your forehead (and boobs).

In other news, I am pretty sure Bondi Bands are the best thing ever.  Mine held my new short hair back perfectly for my entire workout, and it wasn’t ugly!

photo(8)The new ‘do doesn’t cover my neck at all, so no need for any kind of pony/pigtail.  Reason #43253 why I love this haircut.

Anyway.  I went to the gym and decided I wanted to do three miles of run/walk intervals.  (Yes, I can still run three miles.  I wanted to walk in an attempt to break my custom orthotics in gently.)  I did a 5 minutes-5 minutes walk-run split and finished in about 35 minutes.

BUT GUESS WHAT.  My feet are blistering again.  In the arches.  Yup.  Custom orthotics?  Not impressed.  I am going to go to the running store and get a new pair of WIDE running shoes and hope for the best—the only shoes I didn’t blister in were wides (unfortunately they also gave me horrible shin splints because they were a stability shoe).  I am going to buy WIDE, NEUTRAL shoes, preferably New Balances because of the big toe box, and cross my fingers.

The good news is that I had no ankle, shin, hip, or knee pain, so at least the orthotics are keeping things properly aligned.

In other news, I have had hummus on the brain.  I had to make a special trip to Target after work today.

photo(9)

Holy delicious.   I now want to bathe in hummus.  And black beans. 

Another rave?  The Lucy shorts I bought this weekend are fabulous.  Comfy, don’t ride, a big-thighed-girl’s dream.   Well worth the price thus far!

Anyway, I’m off.  Have a fabulous night!

New toys

Today I’m pretty sure we used every new wedding gadget we’ve gotten.  Tim made delicious waffles in the waffle iron for breakfast, and I used the bread machine, crockpot and food processor with great success today. 

Meet Super Delicious Salsa Slow Cooker Chicken.

0516 003

Ugly, yes.  Delicious, yes.

I basically cobbled this together from various recipes I’d found online.  I dumped the following into the crockpot:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 brick reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. salsa (We used Pace Mild salsa, blended smooth in the Magic Bullet with a small container of Chipotle hot salsa—our favorite!  We are anti chunk.)

Then…you just let it peace out in the crockpot on low for about six hours, and serve over some brown rice.

0516 001

Southpaw was stalking Tim’s plate.  Super good and filling, and there’s enough leftovers for dinner tomorrow!

I also made this beauty today:

0516 007

We’ll call this…honey mixed nut butter.  Unless anyone else has a more creative idea.  Again, an easy recipe. 

Into the food processor went:

  • 1/4 c. salted peanuts
  • 1/4 c. macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 c. almonds
  • 1/4 c. pecans
  • 1/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 1 T. honey

Blend until smooth.  Easy peasy and delicious.

The nut butter will go on this:

0516 004 

The loaf of honey wheat bread in the bread machine.  This will probably go in with Tim to work.  But I’m considering keeping it.  Hee.

Also today:  I did about 10 loads of laundry, vacuumed the entire house, cleaned the bathroom, and got the guest bedroom in a state where I WOULDN’T be embarrassed for people to see it.  Our house is finally starting to look like normal again.  I love it so.

And Tim did this!

0516 006

Wall mount wine rack!  (He also took my car for an oil change and returned a duplicate gift.  God bless him.)

I am currently decompressing with this.

0516 005 A glass of Gamay Rouge. 

Operation Break In Orthotics has not gone as well as I’d planned.  Mainly because it’s been POURING here.  I’ve tried.  I’m going to do my best to drag my lazy butt to the gym tomorrow after work and hopefully break them in with some run-walk intervals for awhile. 

Four days until we leave for the honeymoon!  I can’t wait!

Wife chop

Just when I thought I was done with all 40 or so thank you notes…

0515 002

Two more gifts arrived.

0515 001

Not complaining, because lord knows we need more storage stuff to neaten up our kitchen, but….ack.  I will get these done.  We mailed a huge batch today, and we just have a few more to do that are kind of impossible to do right now for various reasons.

The best thing about being married so far?

Before:0515 003

And after!

 0515 005 0515 006

LOVE IT.  (Note: it got flattened by the rain a bit.)

I feel so much more like MYSELF now.  Long hair is NOT for me.  I feel hot, and hairy, and gross, and awkward, and immature in it.  I grinned like an idiot the entire haircut.

(It is not really the best part of being married, though.  But pretty great.  We’ve also made it through our first week as husband and wife!  Go us.)

The rest of the day was spent shopping!  We completed the bulk of our Crate & Barrel and Macy’s registries.

Glasses:

0515 009

MAGNETIC measuring cups and spoons.  They stick together so the set is nice and neat!

 0515 010

Assorted gadgets, and a random coffee mug lid that got thrown in there. 0515 011

Butter dish!

0515 012 

Gravy boat and olive oil mister!

0515 013

Wine rack!  (That will be mounted to the wall eventually.  Right, Tim?)

0515 014

A teeny pot that matches the rest of our set:

0515 018

And our new guest bathroom setup: 0515 015Unpictured: shit tons of towels.  Big, fluffy towels, that haven’t faded and match one another.  Heaven.

I also did a bit of personal shopping after my haircut, mostly for our honeymoon cruise next week.

0515 016

Cute green sundress, black knit skirt, two tank tops, and a white knit shrug (which is more of a wear-to-work piece to go over my sleeveless dresses to make them a bit more appropriate.)  I’m not a big fan of Old Navy’s winter clothes, but I LOVE their summer stuff.  Super cheap, too!

Less cheap, but also awesome?  I found a lucy store! 0515 017 

I finally broke down and bought a pair of running shorts.  I love that these are cute and high quality, but come to just above the knee.  With the way my body is built, I don’t think I’ll ever wear booty shorts for running.  Love these, though!

In other news?  I LOVE HUMMUS.  I’d tried hummus once, a long time ago, and I didn’t like it.  It was freezing cold and, well, not good.  But tonight we went out to dinner and got a hummus and pita appetizer and it was to die for.  The hummus was warm and garlicky and had chili oil on it and I think I love it now.  Hooray!

What’s something you didn’t like until you gave it a second chance?

Adjusting to married life

Phew.  The last few days have been nuts.  Not only did we drive 9 hours on Monday, but we had to pick up our animals from being boarded, unpack our suitcases and gifts and carload of wedding paraphernalia.  Last night was spent grocery shopping—we literally had nothing in the house.

Generally…our relationship doesn’t feel any different.  We’ve been living together for over a year already, and had joint finances and stuff, so nothing has really changed, except my name and calling each other “wife” and “husband.”  The name change is REALLY throwing me for a loop—I keep introducing myself as Brie Oldlastname at work, and my secretary keeps yelling “BRIE NEWLASTNAME!” at me every time I do it.  It will take time, but my new name is a definite upgrade.  I love it! 

I’ve also been busy with these.

0513 004

Thank you notes.  I’m determined to get them all out before our one-week anniversary hits!  I hate having them hang over my head, and I think people appreciate getting them quickly.

In other news, we’ve been enjoying all our new stuff.    

Matching plates, bowls, and glasses that didn’t come from a Red Lobster that was going out of business!

0513 006 

Pretty new bedding (that does not hide cat hair at all, unfortunately):

0513 007

The first gadget I used?  The food processor.  To make homemade peanut butter.  Heaven.

0513 001

(I bought macadamias, pecans, almonds and cashews last night and I’m dying to make a mixed-nut butter.  Mmmm.)

Our new Keurig that actually brews a full cup of coffee…

0513 008

Oh, and all the wine I bought back in Napa finally made it back to Kansas City!

0513 009

I think we are planning on bringing two bottles on our cruise with us—Carnival allows one bottle a person, so why not splurge a little?  (We got a Gamay Rouge, a Cabernet, a Semillon and a Moscato.)

But of course, I forgot to thaw anything for dinner.  Wife fail.  (Kidding.)

0513 005

Chipotle to the rescue!  I’ve recently discovered my love for black beans.

On the exercise front: I’ve been really tired and frankly, de-motivated since the wedding.  I want to get the house and my life back in some kind of order before we leave for the honeymoon next Friday.  And lunch break workouts are not a possibility anymore, because my office goes down to a 4-days-a-week schedule so I’m working over lunch to try to make up some hours.

So, I’ve decided that I’m giving myself permission to take it easy until we get back from the honeymoon.  What I’m planning on doing?  Breaking in my orthotics very carefully.  I plan to take Milhouse out walking for a long time every night, and not running in them until I’ve done that at least 4 or 5 times, per the orthotist.  I don’t want to do too much too soon.

Frankly, I’m a person who thrives on goals and schedules, and not training for something is making me a little lazy.  And that’s okay!  Because come June 5th, I’ll be in hardcore marathon training mode, and it will be nice to start that coming off a bit of a break.  I’m not going to wither away and die, and I may still exercise here and there aside from walking.  Balance, friends.  Sometimes I will be training really hard, like I was in March and I will be in June-October.  But for now, it’s time to relax a little bit, and be married.  (Don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging!)

In more exciting news, our fantastic photographer will be posting some more teasers on her blog tomorrow from our first look, along with my strong recommendation to do one.  Hooray!  I can’t wait to see them.

And now, I’m off to cuddle my husband.  WHOA.

Advice from the other side

While this is all still fresh in my memory, here are my words of wisdom for brides still in the planning process.

  • Think long and hard before you accept money from anyone for your wedding.  With money comes control.  Some parents may offer you a check and say “have fun,” others may hold the purse strings.  If you want to assure complete control of everything, pay for your own wedding.
  • Do a first look.  I am so glad Tim and I decided to do this (and so was our photographer).  I know a lot of people think that it will “ruin” the whole walking down the aisle experience, but it completely didn’t.  I got jittery and excited right before my entrance at the church anyway, and I totally choked up like a goober.  The first look was, more than anything, FUN.  We walked around with our photographer and got to giggle and talk and people shouted congratulations as they ran by and stuff.  We did the robot.  It was SO nice to have time together to cuddle and look lovey-dovey, and it made the rest of our day that much less stressful.
  • Don’t worry about the rain (unless your wedding is outdoors).  We had rain off and on all day and it was cold and windy.  I barely noticed, and the rain and wet sidewalks and grass actually gave us beautiful light and depth to our photos.  There was a rainbow outside the church after the ceremony.  The bottom of my dress got wet.  It was fine.
  • Things will go wrong.  I forgot to put on my garter (my “something old”) and didn’t have anything borrowed.  I promise our marriage is still valid.  Our venue forgot to put out the flip-flop basket, so my mom went to find it and walked around with it half an hour before the reception ended.  The DJ forgot to play music as we entered.  Our ring bearer ate it in the middle of the aisle.  It was all okay, because so many more wonderful, unexpected things happened that completely countered all the little insignificant stuff.
  • Find somewhere unique to take pictures. Think outside the box, but get permission first!
  • Don’t waste money on a veil. This is, by far, the biggest racket in the entire damn wedding industry.  My veil was, I think, either $14.99 or $9.99 on eBay, and it looks absolutely gorgeous in photos and in person.  And it got soaking wet anyway, and I didn’t feel at all bad about wadding it into a ball and shoving it into a bag afterwards.  Tulle is tulle.  I swear.
  • Take mental pictures like Jim and Pam did.  I will always remember the way Tim’s thumbs looked on top of my hands as we prayed in the church during our ceremony.
  • Be kind to vendors, your wedding party, and guests!
  • Speak up. I wasn’t crazy about my hair trial, so I told her, and we fixed it, and I loved it.  Don’t be mean, but opinions are perfectly fine.  You’re paying vendors for a reason.
  • Hair and makeup is worth splurging on. It’s in every wedding picture.
  • The monogrammed aisle runner was a huge waste of time and money.  Our pastor stood on the monogram so you won’t be able to see it in the pictures.  Oh well.
  • Put time and effort into personal touches people will appreciate. Our display of family wedding photos was a HUGE hit because pretty much every guest knew someone in those pictures.  And for those who didn’t, vintage pictures are cool anyway.  Same went for our table numbers–they were very “us” and people liked them.  (Although I did get asked, “Whose beagle is that?” more than once.)
  • GEL FOOT PADS for your shoes. They saved me.  I wore my heels all day and was only a little uncomfortable at the end of the night.
  • Make an exit. We left our reception as soon as we saw the crowd starting to peter out—there were still some people there, but not many, and we left at about 10 to midnight.  I had a feeling that if I stuck around, I’d start cleaning up…and that’s why we vacated.  We said goodbye and slipped out and went back to our room and decompressed.
  • Don’t, um, have expectations for the wedding night. You will be tired, and sweaty, and your feet will hurt, and it will take an hour to get bobby pins out of your hair and your makeup spackle off.  You will both be excited and want to talk about everything that happened at the wedding.  Wait until the next day.  It will be better.

Anyway, these are just the things that stuck out in my mind as being potentially useful.  I hope it helps!