I'm back! Lots going on...residency interview process has been going well...five down, one tomorrow, and then five more in January...it has been very busy over here!
I think the hardest part of wedding planning has been the reception. Should it be a sitdown dinner or a buffet? Meat fest or vegetarian fare? How expensive are we willing to go? Restaurant or rent out a venue?
John and I are major fans of this small gem of a restaurant. It is quinessential Athens. You'll see townies (granted, it's pricey so you don't see too many townies), UGA professors, the people of Athens. It's run by a guy who does amazing seasonal cooking with a southern twist. We would like to work in Five and Ten somehow....John and I spent our first Valentines dinner there (I even remember what I wore: a white empire style linen dress with pink cascading ruffle heels), visits back from Augusta. There was a particularly cold, blue winter day I went alone to Five and Ten and a dish of white truffle and cauliflower risotto basically cured my seasonal depression :) We usually do the prix fixe, an amazing deal...3 course meal for $25...every time we go, we love the flavors and the coziness of the place...upside down umbrellas hanging from the ceiling anyone?
This is another great Athens restaurant. It's run on the premise that they own their own farm and this farm provides most of the materials they use for the menu. Beautiful flavors and a beautiful large venue with an outdoor wooden stage. The weird part was that the lady who runs events at Farm 255 wanted to meet us in physical person before getting into any details....so we made the drive from Augusta to Athens to....only tell her what we wanted for the reception....details that we could have told her over the phone. John thinks that she was just trying to size us up, see how much money we could afford to pay for the reception. Anyhow, her quote was ridiculous and was based on the Food and Drink Minimum manner of doing business. Food and Drink Minimum is based on how many people will be attending and then they tell you, for every 150 people, you HAVE to pay $11,000 (or X amount) and you spend it however you'd like to spend it. So you might end up with plenty of food under $9000 but you still have to fork over the rest of the money. I didn't really like this scheme and I didn't like that she wanted to see us first before getting any details. I like eating at their restaurant, but I don't think we're gonna have them do the reception.
3. Sonnys BBQ
We briefly considered Sonnys BBQ until my parents basically say no in the most diplomatic way possible. hehe
This is a weekday lunch stop famous for mint iced tea, sandwiches, and soups, but on weekends, the namesake and business owner does catering for weddings. I had not heard of her until a florist in Athens referred us to her...I never suspected a lunch time cafe would cater a wedding so thankfully we got the hookup! Marti is a no nonsense type of woman that I love...there were sweat stains at the armpits of her shirt and flour on the front of her shirt...for some reason, that really won me over :)
Sorry for the crickets in the background for a while...after taking Step 2, I didn't anticipate Pediatric ER being so busy. Currently at the peds ER now, working until midnight. It's raining, which means people don't usually bring their non-emergency cases of the common cold in.
So, my high school friend Emily was so kind to come with me to Santee, SC to visit the Making Memories Bridal Shop. This was an amazing experience!! I was thrilled beyond belief that a special time in my and John's life could extend something special to someone else.
Making Memories is a non-profit organization that accepts gowns from gone out of business bridal shops and bridal designers who have excess inventory and sells them at a huge discount. All profits go towards fulfilling final wishes of terminal breast cancer patients.
Tbey travel all around the US with approximately 800 of their gowns with veils, shoes, etc for brides to get a great deal and contribute to a wonderful cause. Luckily for me, Augusta is only 2 hours away from Santee and they have thousands of gowns, plus bridesmaids dresses and mother of bride dresses. I had a hilarious time with Emily. The A/C broke in the shop that day and it was SWELTERING. At first I was all modesty first, and then I gave up and started dressing outside instead of in the dressing room,which was tiny and hot. It was hilarious with Emily being a saint and helping me into the dresses, which really require two people to put on. Emily kept on accidently putting up on the wrong end so instead of putting the dress over my head and pulling it down, it was the top end that was waiting for me :)
I liked the flowy look of this dress, but I felt that it was making me look older than I actually was. I love the rocker bride in the picture in the background to the right.
This dress was terribly terribly sad and I think the heat was starting to get to my brain.
This dress was eh. It looks and felt rumpily. All in all, I tried on 12 dresses in about 2 hours, a feat only made possible by dressing out in the open and having Emily heroically throwing the dresses on me. There was a Vera Wang in the mix but I think I was so tired and forgot to photograph. It was okay...very slinky with flowers on the shoulder but even on me, it was too tight.
So I narrowed it down to 2 dresses. A beautiful ivory dress by Amsale and a beautiful champagne colored dress with rhinestones down the back by Melissa Sweet. Melissa Sweet was right on budget and I did like it. I didn't really care if I loved the dress...I was content to get something that looked pretty and I was determined to support this charity. However, I did secretly love the Amsale dress but felt it was too expensive (a few hundred more than the Melissa Sweet) and that I should just stick to the budget. The shop was going to close in 5 minutes and I didn't want to keep anyone from going home. So I bought the Melissa Sweet:
I was feeling good as I drove back to Augusta, but later on that night, I didn't feel very...excited. I reprimanded myself for getting too caught up about the dress, but I didn't even feel like flipping thru my beloved wedding magazines either. Hrm. Something was up. I sneaked a look at the pictures we took and realized that I actually liked the other dress better. This was not the grass is greener on the other side...I just needed more time to think about the two dresses.
Yes, the lovely chip bag clips is a piece of flair.
This was a beautiful dress but ultimately not for me. Cheers to the new dress! :)
Okay, I lied. A post cos I'm so tired of studying.
Wedding dress shopping was something that I both looked forward to and dreaded. I was looking forward to it because it is fun to try out something completely different from what I usually wear. It's fun whether it makes you look completely beautiful or makes you look completely insane. Fun stuff! I was dreading it because wedding dress shopping can be a claustrophobic experience with salespeople. It was a little hard because I usually went by myself; it's hard to get other friends (i.e. in medical school cos I don't know anyone not in medical school in Augusta) to come with me to help decide. I wanted my mom there but she was at Taiwan at the time. I had always envisioned my sisters there as well since we were present when my older sister picked out her dress. "Eh, I'm a big girl and I can fend for myself." Also, I usually like shopping with John. He understands what I like and what is helpful advice; I trust his opinion. But I figured, maybe I should observe the traditional wedding dress shrouded in mystery for now.
The first shop I went to was Elegant Bridals off Furys Ferry. I was lucky to have a really friendly salesgirl named Sarah. As you can tell, we had some fun :)
I think this was the first dress I tried on. This is when I started to feel kinda weird, as if I was going to get married one day. haha :) I really liked it!
Sarah was really wonderful, I was so surprised cos I imagined a bridal consultant to be snobby and dishonest. Sarah was the exact opposite...it was only a few months after this visit that I found out that she was only an intern there and had left for a job in DC. Oh well.
I think this was one of my favorite gowns. I really liked the sideswept part near my waist. It was waaay too expensive tho and not even silk material. Oh yea, notice that picture behind me? Apparently, the big thing to do is a bridal portrait. It's obviously your choice to do one if you want and not make any excuses to anyone, but I got a little weirded out with all the posing on golf courses.
I think this was my favorite. It's big on me, the wrong size, but I loved the idea. Rhinestone collar that continued to the back and light tulle coverage of the sternum area felt very pretty.
This felt more like your standard type of wedding dress. Looked pretty but didn't really strike me.
I felt like a flowy mother earth type. Eh, I felt that I looked pregnant in this dress.
This was my first visit to a dress shop period so I wasn't planning to get a dress. The first two dresses I really liked and kept in mind. What do you think??
Next post: my fun trip to Santee Bridal Warehouse with Emily!! :)
Even though I just STARTED, but I have to study for a test that I have to pass in order to graduate from medical school. So I have to consider my priorities....so WEDDING PLANNING IT IS! hehe j/k...I'll be back after August 27th! In the meanwhile, I leave you with a taste of last month's wedding dress hunt!
In regards to my tomato face...the A/C broke in the dress shop that day...and it was >100 degrees!! HOT BRIDE!
Trying to decide between caterers is mildly like Michael Scott losing Ed Truck:
"it feels like somebody took my heart, and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears. And at the same time, somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone, and I am crying, and nobody can hear me, because I am terribly, terribly... terribly alone."
Sorry kiddos. Ultra busyness, what with my radiology rotation. I kid. Seriously, I'm trying to finish my personal statement and study for Step 2 while attempting to secure a caterer and a florist. And dissuade my mom from using a heart border on our invitations. Yikes. More on that later.
I didn't realize until I was engaged that rings mean so much for a lot of people. For some, it's a tangible gauge of how much your fiance makes, was willing to go into debt for outstanding diamond loans etc. For others, diamonds are evil because of the social and environmental problems connected to diamond mining (which I think are better now after much more media exposure and thanks to Blood Diamond. And for a few, you are singing from a trapeze, wearing a feathered corset top about diamonds being a girl's best friend. Watch out for TB though.
However, I was always fascinated with sapphires.
I don't usually wear jewelry as most of you know, but I always knew that I would like a sapphire for a ring. A relative of mine had this gorgeous sapphire ring that I always remembered. It was an electric blue and completely haunting. The electric blue that pops up, you get lost in the color.
So, as I had alluded to before (thanks Divya) , I didn't want a diamond. Diamonds are beautiful, but I never felt that personal tug. John, being the wise man he is, insisted that ultimately I should choose the ring as I am pretty picky about jewelry. I don't like messy looking jewelry, I don't want to look like I belong to a country club filled with marquis cuts and stiff hair.
First, I looked online. Secretly. I didn't want to seem too excited about looking for a ring. I don't know why! Maybe it's a crazy pride thing. Anyhow, I just browsed during my spare time and saw stuff I liked from Ross-Simons and Solomon Brothers.
Being the type A that I am, I realized that I knew nothing about sapphires. There's a very straightforward grading scale for diamonds, but practically nothing for sapphires. I hated the thought of John potentially spending too much for a gem that was a dud. I learned a lot about sapphires from Pricescope, Richard Wise, and Wildfish Gems.
The gist is this:
1. There are natural sapphires, which are...nature made. There are lab created sapphires, which are man-made. One isn't necessarily better than the other, unless you obviously have a preference from one to the other. My thing is that natural sapphires are valuable the way natural diamonds are valuable: it took a long time for that sucker to form, and actually, good quality sapphires are much harder to find than good quality diamonds. DeBeers has a hard grip on the diamond market and controls the flow of diamonds into the marketplace. Lab created sapphires are much cheaper to make but the markup is HUGE. That's one fine silk purse from a sow's ear.
2. Natural sapphires can be treated. A basic explanation is provided here. So you can take a black colored worthless sapphire, heat treat it, and voila: electric blue! So a stone that was inexpensively attained can be sold for much MUCH more than it was originally attained for. It's fine if you want a treated gemstone..you just want to pay a fair price for your beautiful gem.
3. A good quality sapphire will have minimal inclusions, meaning you shouldn't really see anything but color. A good untreated sapphire will have very small inclusions called feathers or silk...these are basically melted away when heat treated, so this is a good way to check if it's good treated or not. A good sapphire should also have minimal "windows" or zoning. A window means that the light is refracting from the gem too soon. So instead of pure constant blue color hitting your eye, you can see right through the gem!
Also notice that the gem on the right doesn't have an even tone of color. It's not uniformly blue. There's patches of "no" color. That is referred to as zoning. The gem on the left is a better example as you can't see the "window" and the color is relatively even except for the patch of black on the upper left corner. That is called "extinction" when the reflection of light coming from the base of the gem comes out too late.
Armed with knowledge obsessively attained, I finally went ring shopping with John and the first ring we saw together was the ring I truly loved. Unfortunately it was several thousands of dollars over the budget we agreed upon. Oh well. But then our awesome saleslady Robin showed me a comparable ring, which was much less for some reason. I realized that the price per carat was incorrect!! Robin went to do a pricecheck on the ring I liked and turns out that the price was incorrectly marked! Hurrah! Catecholamine release! Go gemstone nerdiness! So John was sweet and generous enough to betroth me with my Precious:
People have been asking about how we got engaged so I will indulge you in this wildly romantic tale.
John and I usually take a walk around the neighborhood every afternoon and talk about current events, my current complaints in life, and mock criticisms of the mansions around us. That day in January, I was talking about my dream of going to Europe for weeks on end after graduation, plans for the future, residency, etc. After I'm done yammering, John starts talking in a diplomatic tone of voice, which signals to me something important or vaguely concerning is about to be talked about.
John: It seems to me that we both hope to travel together and live together in the future. Also, it may be a good idea for me to have your parents know me better since we have been together for a while and hope to be together in the future. With that in mind, I would suggest perhaps getting married when you're about to graduate medical school.
Me: You want to get married so my parents will accept us?
The conversation goes on, but basically John argues it's much more than having my parents accept us and I'm slightly skeptical about the timing of getting married. We go back into the house with me saying, "okay let me think about it for a little bit."
And then about two weeks pass. Before you get all hot and bothered with the time lapse, I was in the middle of Internal Medicine and was still trying not to freak out everyday about clinical work, being viewed as a possible gunner or a slacker, and getting a crack's worth of sleep and sun exposure (which consisted of me looking longingly out of the hospital windows and then scurrying away). At the end of the day, I'm with John and say, "You know, you're right. I think we should get married"........and fall dead asleep on the couch.
It's not very romantic, but I love that we get to see each other everyday, we take walks together, and at the end of the day, I can accept a 2 week old proposal.
Next topic: How I pretend not to be interested in an engagement ring
I want to record the process of planning this wedding hence the blog. However, it's also a reminder to myself that I don't need to be medical student/wedding planner and have everything perfect, hence the title of the blog.
Gotta keep it real and not go crazy. Feel free to post ideas, thoughts, whatever.