Wrapped Up in Love: All Aboard the Catalina Express

Catalina Express Long Beach Terminal

We caught a cab from Long Beach’s low key airport to the Catalina Express terminal. Mr. Pashmina and I went in the cab with the two pre-teens and it was so fun seeing their reaction to experiencing California for the first time. They were in awe of all the palm trees, how wide the freeways were–and that they were free!

Catalina Express

We met my mom, sister, and nephew at the Catalina Lounge, ready to set board the Catalina Express all together. Waiting for the captain to call for us to get on the boat was something akin to waiting in line for Disneyland. We were so excited!

Mr. & Miss Pashmina

Flower Girl Dresses

Image and Dress from Posh Little Tutus

In three words: too much fun! If you know me it isn’t a stretch to know why I had the most enjoyable time picking out the flower girls’ dresses. Frilly? Flowers? Count me in! Our flower girls are totally the perfect age to play dress up at five and two years old. They are the age when they are super adorable in whatever they wear!

One reason why it was so easy is because I knew their style: “flower princess butterfly” as the five year old expressed it. As long as it was puffy and some shade of pink I knew they’d love it. It was a minimal pressure purchase. I figured as long as it wasn’t uncomfortable in fit or of scratchy fabric it would be just fine. Dealing with young children there is always the risk that their mood will dictate if they like it or not the day of the event. Really, children are a wildcard! But if the girls were happy and excited to wear the dresses from the get-go, then we were on track to have a good day.

Another reason why it was low stress was because I was paying. It could be as expensive or cheap as I’d like. I gave myself the responsibility to pay for all my junior bridesmaid and flower girl dresses. The five girls in total–three juniors and two flower girls–all came from one family. It would be a lot to ask of their parents to buy them all, especially since their mom, the Sister of the Groom, was buying a bridesmaid dress for herself and they were all tracking across the United States to be part of the wedding! So if I could ease any pressure off of them so they could attend happily, I had to do it.

I got a lot of help from the older sisters identifying styles that they thought would be cute on their younger siblings. The 10 year old junior bridesmaid took it on as her project and would always be calling me over to the computer to look at the one that had to be the one because it was way too adorable. From here I learned of some of the brands she liked for the youngsters: Kate Mack, US Angels, Biscotti, Hannah Banana, Halabaloo, Isabella & Chloe, Ooh La La, Posh Little Tutus and Le Pink.

Shopping I did in person on my own time. Hands down my favorite department store–and my recommendation for girl’s special occasion dresses–is Nordstrom. They have a huge variety of fancy dresses and so many of them were exactly what I was looking for. My other top department store was Bloomindales followed by Lord and Taylor, but they had less variety and less price points than Nordstrom. My other favorite shops were the outlets Nordstrom’s Rack, Century 21, Filene’s, and Daffy’s, all of these were great to find good deals. Unfortunately I could never find dresses in the sizes I wanted–they were always just a size off. I liked a lot of summer dresses at J-Crew where I purchased the junior bridesmaid dresses. They were all of coordinating colors (coral and blush pink were everywhere) but most of J-Crew’s special occasion dresses were either in white or too expensive (over $150). Some of the other stores at the mall had great sale rack options, like at Jacadi.

Here are some pictures of my most favorite flower girl dresses from my outings:

Jacadi Paris

I ended up purchasing the girls’ outfits at Nordstrom. The two year old’s had a rosette on the bodice and the five year old’s had petals making up the the top. I just thought they were too cute and classic looking to pass up! Flowery? Check! Pink? Check? Flowy. Check!


Our First Christmas

As a East Coast transplant I am always torn between spending holidays here with my hubby or seeing my family on the West Coast. Of course I want to spend these special occasions with my best friend and husband…but you see I get one or two days off on top of my hard-to-come-by vacation days this time of year. It is the most perfect time to go!

So every year for the six years I have been with Mr. Pashmina I have gone back home to be with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve always tried to feel out Mr. P to see if he would mind my departure or if he was getting tiresome of me always going away. Nope. He always has been super understanding. More than I would be, truthfully. But this is why I love him. Not once has he ever placed any guilt or sadness about me going away. He always was excited that I got to see my family who I am always longing for.  But sometimes he would say “It is okay. The first year we are married we can spend it together!”

I wasn’t quite sure if this was something he really, really felt tied to or if he was simply excusing my absence with a hope for us to be together. Well, I am a girl of my word. And this year is that year! The first year we are married! So I was gung-ho on making this happen.

My family has huge Thanksgivings and Christmases. My mom does such a wonderful job at making these times so extra special. I didn’t want to miss out on this time with them. So I tried, tried, tried to get Mr. P out West so I could have the best of both worlds!! But Mr. Pash’s work didn’t cooperate with this plan…or did the ticket prices. So instead of forking over lots of dough for only the weekend, I ended up staying on the East Coast for my first (almost) White Christmas!

I was hoping to go back to see my family between Christmas and New Year’s, but again the tickets were so expensive I ended up going back before Christmas. I was able to be there for my mom’s birthday, participate in holiday shopping, bake lots of cookies, and get some sun before heading back to NYC. I didn’t get to see my four year old nephew put out cookies for Santa or wake up in the early morning to unwrap his gifts. But I got to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with my hubby and it was well worth it! We made a feast for Christmas Even. We slept in the next morning–something I’ve never done–and then traveled to upstate New York to be with Mr. Pashmina’s family. They live in a 19th century stone farmhouse and it was covered in icicles. We had the best time eating prime rib sitting next to the cherry wood fire. So picturesque and so wintery!

Then we headed home, with two of our nieces in tow headed to NYC to see the big tree at Rockafeller Center. We couldn’t find a parking spot so we just ended up driving around. But let me tell you–we got the best view. We put down the top to our convertible and got a really good view. Traffic was slower than a snails pace going past the tree so it worked out perfectly. People kept on laughing at us asking if we were cold but we were actually sweltering! It was a really fun experience seeing NYC at dark, all lit up with lights, and full of Christmas cheer!

The next morning when we were hit with what they dubbed The Christmas Weekend blizzard. We were all trapped inside for two days playing board games. Let’s just say there was major Monopoly competition going on! Work was canceled the next day so vacation was extended even a little bit longer too!

Our very first Christmas as husband and wife. It was filled with snow, and filled with love!

How did you spend your first holiday together as husband and wife? Was it a compromise?

It Showers at Work: Bridal Shower No. 1

My work went above and beyond for my bridal shower. I had no clue anything was in the works. And then the mysterious Microsoft Outlook calendar appointment appeared titled “Your Bridal Shower.” I went into the office off my co-workers and was dumbfounded, I never imagined that my work was going to throw me a bridal shower. If anything, I thought that I would be asking them to attend mine.

The best part, it was scheduled for the very next week! I was so excited because it would coincide when my mom would be in town. This was super cool since she lives so far away, and wasn’t able to do a lot of wedding related things with me. Later that evening I told Mr. Pashmina about the fun news. He wasn’t shocked in the slightest, he he had been in on it! He was the one that suggested that the time so my mom could be part of it. What a good guy! And, he was the one show told them to tell me because I was planning on taking the day off to hang with Mom. I guess they were planning on doing the real surprise.

The day of the shower something else cool happened: I got comp tickets to he world premiere of Sex in the City: Part 2. When my mom showed up at my work for the shower I surprised her with the news! It was going to be the most girly day EVER!

As we approached the room that the bridal shower was in the doors were mysteriously closed. A picture of me and Mr. P was hanging on the door–they must have downloaded it from my blog. Haha..very sneaky! When I opened the door the place was prettier than I have ever seen! Flowers, cute teddy bears, pink hearts, little lights, romantic quotes, food to boot! There was so much thought put in to it. Hands down the best party my work ever threw. As a non-profit with zero funds for these types of things all my co-workers went above and beyond contributing not only with gifts but time decorating, making the food, and just everyone showing up to shower us with love.

We played two super fun games. One was a romantic version of Mad Libs. Some of the prompts were “Your Sweetie,” “A Body Part,” etc. It ended up being a letter to your love. Mine was hilarious, and I think I made quite a few people blush without even trying! The other game was a version of “Guess Who I Am”–the game where you have a person’s name taped to your back on an index card and you have to go around asking people  questions until you guess who you are. The spin though was that all of the people were part of a celebrity couple. So the first part of the game was going around asking people questions to try to figure out who you were. We didn’t know the second part until it was announced that you needed to find your romantic match. After everyone found their pair there was a third part of the game. The couple was asked to write a note to me and Mr. Pashmina in character. People really got into their character and captured the celebrities so well. It was really funny listening to some of them being read, many in character.

Then I opened presents! I was gifted a set of dishes from Crate and Barrel that were on our registry. This was really cool because since everyone pitched in for one large present we were able to get the complete set of dishes. Then I was gifted with a laundry hamper–and this was FULL of gag gifts. But, at the time I didn’t understand that they were gag gifts. I thought they were just odds and ends, so I was commenting on how nice these things were and how they would come in handy, not quite getting that they were suppose to be funny! 🙂 They told me later they were gag gifts. LOL. And one of my coworkers made me a bouquet with all the ribbons for good luck!

On a side note, the cute little teddy bears in bride and groom outfits aren’t just decorations. This is actually part of the office tossing of the baton. Who ever gets engaged gets to hold on to the bears. I got them after about 2 years of one person having them, but I only had them for two weeks! I think they have had five or six homes since the tradition started. They made their way back to me for the party even though they currently weren’t in my possession. It is pretty fun to pass them off to the next person.  I secretly left them for my person–who was somewhat new and didn’t know of their existence.

Did your job throw you a bridal shower? What games did you play? How did it turn out? Like an  awkward episode of The Office or more like a real, fun party? Please do tell!

Oh, and I couldn’t help but adding a picture from the Sex in the City 2 premiere. A bunch of my coworkers and I jetted off after the part to Radio City Music. As it was an unexpected treated we were all super bummed we didn’t get to dress up all flirty like everyone in line. But it was soo fun! And a perfect ending to a wonderful day!

Today: My cat thinks the hamper was HIS present!

How Many People Will Attend a Destination Wedding?

A few months before we ordered our invitations we finalized our invite list. Initially you might think this would be a quick task since we were hoping to only have 75 people. But think again! It wasn’t at all.

We really had to pare down and limit the invites. This was fine with me and my groom since we really wanted a small, intimate wedding but the parents were a little tricky. Each of the parents had different ideas about who had to be invited. My parents are divorced and have small families on each side, while Mr. P’s parents are married and come from large families. Our unequal family size complicated things because it had to be “fair” in terms of number of invites, but it also had to be fair in the degree of the relationship. My parents couldn’t be inviting their co-workers while Mr. P’s family weren’t able to invite his aunts!

Basically, after Mr. P and I decided on our must-have people, we asked our parents who was on theirs. First I asked my mom. She was super easy and understanding saying whoever I wanted was fine with her. Phew! What a relief. My dad wanted to invite all of his friends was so sweet because he was so excited. But I had to explain that the venue could only seat 100 people, but really we only wanted 75. So he had to select only the most important. To that he replied “they all are important!” My in-laws really wanted to include all of Mr. Pashmina’s family and all of their extended network of acquaintances, but from the beginning we knew to be ready for this. So we had to explain that only immediate family members would be invited (meaning no second cousins and beyond) but if they really wanted someone outside that then let us know. We calculated that each set of our parents could invite up to six of their closest friends. Mr. P’s parents are constantly going out with about twenty people, alternating parties at each others houses. Initially they felt it would be rude only to invite a few of them but there was no way that 20 of their friends were going to make the list for our small wedding, so we had to stick firm. All of these guidelines made our parents happy enough. My mom invited her best friend (who was already on my list), my dad went over his six friends, while Mr. P’s parent ended up only inviting 4 people from their group–the two closest couples. Then they gave me all their addresses and I added them to my running Google Doc list.

The only thing left to do was decide on something I had been putting off. My co-workers, would I invite them or not? It is a cross-country wedding, should I not invite them because it is so far? Would it make them feel pressured to go and use their precious vacation time? Should I invite them because it would be very unlikely that any of them would actually go, but it would be nice ask to them? I finally decided that yes I should ask to be nice. But then should I invite only the people I hang out with outside of work? Or should it be democratic and invite everyone from the office–about 30? Or only people in my department? After lots of deliberation I decided to invite everyone in my department–close to me or not–and then the people that I hang out with outside of work. This felt right to me.

So how many people in all did we invite for our 75 person wedding? 138! They say that about 85% of the people you invite will attend. But this figure goes dramatically down if you are inviting people from out-of-town or if it is a destination wedding. About.com uses this calculation to estimate your actual attendance: (# of out of town guests * 65%) + (# of local guests * 90%) = total # estimated to attend. I figured that since we were in the middle of a recession, that the people we were inviting were spread out all over the country, and that it was a destination wedding on an island that we were not going to have a very high acceptance list. Hopefully enough people would be able to come to fill our 75 person payment to the venue! But we were doing what all the wedding websites say not to do: don’t invite more people than you can actually have!

So we crossed our fingers and hoped that the perfect number of people would come. Not too many that there wouldn’t be space, and not to few so we would be paying for unused meals!

How did you decide on your guest list? Was it tough? How many people did you invite compared to who actually attended?

How to Get Mailing Addresses from Friends and Family in the Digital Age

Back when I was doing my Save the Dates I used Google Doc’s to get addresses from the people on my guest list. I used the “Form” feature to set this up. Here is how you do it:

You go to Google Docs (docs.google.com), sign in to your Gmail account, go to “Create New”, and select Form. Then type up questions you would like to be answered using their template. You can get fancy by selecting a theme. I chose a marine theme with red and blue fishes. Next you add the emails addresses of who you would like the form to be sent to. The questions are embedded into an email that is really easy to fill out.

I asked only very, very basic information. Actually three questions to be exact: 1.) Name, 2.) Current Address, and 3.) Phone Number. The best part about it is that when people fill out the form, Google automatically translates their answers into a spreadsheet. It is super cool and easy!

Image from digitallydiscontent.com

I used their answers as my initial guest list. I modified their responses to include everyone in the household, some people included their children and wives but not all of them.

I color coded any of thing that needed attention–like to check their latest girlfriend’s name or the crazy spelling of their children on Facebook. Surprisingly I Facebook-stalked quite a bit and it was really the easiest and fastest way to get this info! You’d be surprised at how long an email question can be answered by Facebooking them.

Once I had our invite list up-to-date I had to add the parents contacts. This would be a completely different task, with its own set of challenges…but more on this later.

How did you get and organize your guest list addresses? Were you surprised that you didn’t know your closest friends and family members’ mailing address?

Drawing Up Catalina Island Invitation Ideas

My #1 Invite. Image from Ceci New York.

One of my favorite parts of wedding planning has been looking at invitations online and in-person. I love, love, love invitations! You can go so many different ways and instantly give the opener an idea of what your wedding will be like. After coming across an article in Real Simple Magazine titled, “What is Your Invitation Style,” I decided to show Mr. Pashmina the pictures of the invites (without telling him what style was which) to see what he would like our style to be. According to the magazine there are four different styles: formal (traditional/sophisticated), semi-formal (modern/classic), thematic (reflecting a location or activity), and whimsical (quirky/creative). He couldn’t decided between two: thematic and whimsical. His reasoning for the two he chose: because they looked “fun” and “we are fun people” (yep, that is my man!). For thematic invitations we brainstormed that it could be island themed with palm trees, maps and charts; or nautical with ropes and anchors; cross-country themed with New York to California emblems. For whimsical ideas we mostly talked about how we could mix fonts and use something like the loose, curly one in the picture.

Mr. P's #1 Invite (on right.) Image from RIFLE.

I was super lucky and knew from the get-go that my friend, and bridesmaid, would be able to help me create custom invites so I was pretty much free to come up with whatever I could imagine (how cool is this, right?!). Over the next few months whenever I came across an invitation I liked on the internet I added it to my folder titled “Invitation Ideas.” Then the time came to narrow down my favorites! I pretty much was in love with two companies that made invitations Rifle and Ceci New York (especially their Destination line). They were whimsical and thematic–perfect. I thought the best way to decide on our invitations was to draw a rough outline using these sites as inspiration but use our wording, our names, and our Catalina-inspired elements! Then we would really be able to imagine them, then we could send these to my friend and she could work something up with these things in mind.

Here are a few of the ideas I came up with (I’ve blocked out personal info for privacy):

How did you decide on your invitations? Did you have a fun time researching and coming up with ideas like I did?

15 Months of Planning = A Big Relief!

Photography by Marion Jameson

Getting married is a lot of work! It takes months of research, hours of planning, perhaps a few fights, and the coordination of so many people. So when it finally happens it is like bursting a piece of bubble wrap–it is awesome and so rewarding!! I can’t wait for all of you to experience it!!! Ours was the perfect celebration! But it wasn’t perfect because nothing went wrong. Oh no, we had our issues. But I didn’t let those parts interfere. It was perfect because in its entirety it succeeded my expectations. And that is a very nice feeling!

The most unexpected greatness…it was fun! Really, why did I not realize how fun it would be? I guess because I was so obsessed for 15 months of my life planning it. I almost didn’t even try to picture how the experience of it would be. I guess I didn’t want to get my hopes up or have a vision that wouldn’t match the real thing. I am so glad I stopped all that Type A personality stuff!! Once I got to the island I just let things be as there were. So this is my hope for you too. Don’t worry so much or freak out about things. Have fun!! Revel in its specialness.

And ours did feel so very special! I literally felt the energy of all of us coming together on magical island. It was everything I love about weddings and nothing I’ve always hated about them. But I guess that is part of it…it felt so very, very us! My husband says it was “quaint, romantic, and intimate.” And it was! A dinner party with dancing for 65 of our closest loved ones, a mediterranean courtyard filled with aromatic herbs, and the warm Californian sun shining down on us–two people madly in love! It was wonderful! (Can you tell I still have the glow of a newlywed!)

So let the recaps begin!! I can’t wait to tell you about the events leading up to the wedding and some of the details I didn’t get a chance to tell you about before.

Va Va Voom Bridal Lingerie

How sexy do you want to be on your wedding? I want to be sexy but sophisticated. But then I talked to my fiance…I asked him if he had any preference to what I wore. And he said “Slutty.” Whhhatt?? I had imagined a white wedding dress-like, classy, and long number for the evening but I instantaneously knew that was not what he was crossing his fingers for. So this is a tale of trying to find out how our two visions could merge so I could feel like a woman and he could see me as the sexy wife I hope to be.

My first stop was my favorite department store in all of Manhattan–Macy’s @ Herald Square. All the way at the top they have a bridal lingerie section. After trying on two of my favorites I decided that the main contender was the short white tiered chiffon number with an aqua bow. But it looked familiar. Did I see the exact same garment at the discount chain Loehmann’s a few days before when I was looking for bachelorette panties? I think I did! So I left empty handed only to go to Loehmann’s the next day to find the $60 slip there for only $30. So I bought it. But I wasn’t totally convinced it was sexy enough for Mr. P.

My search continued the next week at Victoria’s Secret. What guy doesn’t appreciate VS? I wanted to stay with white to honor my vision and get something a little bit more vamp for him. Once in the dressing room–and with some discussion with the associate–I found out the flaw of Victoria’s Secret bridal lingerie: they only come in size B and C cup sizes. If you have anything other than this you are not made for VS. Your option is to wear one of the pieces that don’t have architectural cups. All the super hot ones had cups and I am a little girl. Darn! But I did find two I really loved. The white and blue lace slip with a halter neckline that is really flatter on. And a white silk and chiffon number with romantic rosettes on the bust and a pleated skirt.

I did go around the bummer of not getting the lingerie with cut out boob holes and heart shaped cut out panties by buying a little aqua apron to go under neath the first (more demure) purchase from Loehmann’s. So hopefully that will be a surprise 🙂 Since I am going to be away in California for a total of 1 1/2-2 weeks I figure three outfits are enough.

What did you decide on for your wedding night? Did you plan a series of options?