Monday, November 7, 2011

Stationery card

Paws And Lights Holiday Card
View this season's most popular holiday card designs here.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Bucket List

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things that I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to to get the details. 

In no particular order:

  • Get my PhD!!!
  • Travel to Africa (and go on safari)
  • Visit all 7 continents (currently at 5 out of 7) and all 50 states (currently at 28)!
  • Become fluent in Greek!
  • Meet a sitting President, preferably Barack Obama!
  • Exercise at least 3 days a week for at least 52 weeks straight
  • Have a child and raise him/her well!
  • Take ballroom dance lessons
  • Donate enough money that the College of Wooster names a scholarship, building, or endowed chair position after me.
  • Get a crazy, cool, contemporary haircut while I am still young enough to be able to pull it off!
  • Read all of the books on the BBC Top 100 list
  • Own a home
  • Take professional cooking classes
  • Move back to (or at least closer to) Ohio
  • GET MARRIED!!!!!! And stay happily married!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's On!

We have officially booked our wedding venue!  On July 14, 2012, James and I will be tying the knot at Mormon Lake Lodge!

We are really excited about this venue!  We will be having the ceremony outside and then the reception in the Town Hall.

Outdoor ceremony location
Town Hall (in the middle, looking at stage)
Town Hall (looking at bar)

The decor theme is rustic chic to fit in with venue!  We are incorporating a lot of mason jars, sunflowers, burlap, and lace.

If you would like to see another wedding that occurred at Mormon Lake, check out Cameron + Kelly's photos from Jen and Bubba's wedding.

Check out our wedding website for more information on our wedding!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bridesmaids' Dresses

I've been trying to figure out why finding bridesmaid dresses is such a difficult task and I've come to the conclusion that, for me at least, it is because I get sidetracked by all the ugly dresses.  So, I've decided to highlight some of my least favorite bridesmaids dresses...the ones that I can't imagine anyone actually wearing.  Please don't be offended!
 Laura and I found this beauty when I was looking at dresses for Jilko's wedding.  Why the weird sideways petals?

 Speaking of weird petals...This dress might look OK if the petals on the skirt went all the way down...maybe...

 This dress is just weird. I like structural designs on Project Runway but they rarely translate well to real life and here is an example.

Another flower replica disaster...

 This is another beauty that I made Laura try on.  I think Tara said it best when she called this the "big bird" dress.

There are so many more I could highlight and I am sure I will as I continue this hunt.  However, I felt one last dress was necessary to share. Not only am I not really a fan of this dress but at $1600, it is one of the more ridiculous ones I have seen!

Do any of you have suggestions for other bad dresses that should be featured?  What about some good dress suggestions?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Please vote for us!

Sorry that I haven't posted for awhile...the end of the semester was hectic!  I have some great entries planned for this summer though including the announcement of our venue with pictures so stayed tuned!  In the meantime, I am writing to ask that you take a moment and go and vote for us to win custom cake toppers from Bunny with a Toolbelt!  

One entry per person, and you must be registered to vote on Google (this prevents anonymous and duplicate votes).  We only have till Thursday so please go and vote and spread the word!  Thanks!!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

THE Dress!

My mom is in town visiting for Easter and today we went dress shopping.  As many of you know, I've had my eye on Dolly Couture's Avila Bay.  This dress is only available to try on in Los Angeles though.  We had talked about driving out there at some point but I was just going to try on dresses in Phoenix first to get a better idea of what looks best on me.  I am curvy girl so I wanted to make sure to find stores that actually had dresses I could try on.  I googled "Plus size bridal gowns Phoenix" and my first hit was Strut Bridal Salon!  For any of you size 14+ brides out there, this is the place to go!!!!  The owner Ann was who helped me out.  She was friendly and helpful.  She took the time to get to know me right at the beginning.  I said I wanted a dress that was fun, classic, and vintagey and she nailed it on the first dress.  I, of course, tried on several more but I kept coming back to the first dress.  I asked her for a birdcage veil which is what I thought I wanted and she put it on me.  She then asked if I would try a different veil on and brought out a shoulder length veil with a blusher.  I didn't think I would like it but she put it on and the look was complete...I had found my wedding outfit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You'll all just have to stayed tuned for the next year before the reveal though! And if you are a plus size bride in the SW, GO TO STRUT BRIDAL!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Several windows opened!!!

This past week has been very exciting.  I found out that I was nominated for two different service awards at school!  I also found out that I won three contests!

The first is from Borrowed & Bleu.  It's a $25 gift certificate to Jada Michaels!
Image credits: Jada Michaels

The second is from Last Minute Bride (the awesome blog that I also won shoes from earlier).  I won a gorgeous personalized bridal hanger from Any Occasion Creation!
Image credits: Any Occasion Creation

The third win was from Culinary Crafts.  They sponsored a DIY contest and I entered with the Bridesmaid Ring project.  The prize is a 4-pack of macaroon favors.  My project will also be featured on their blog!
Image credits: Culinary Crafts

There are also a lot of spring giveaways going on right now including a large assemblage over at The Nester! Check out my twitter account (handle JASIVRAS) for more information on other giveaways!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When one door closes...

Jorge Manuel just announced the winner of the 'Once Upon a Star' and unfortunately it is not us.  Congratulations to Jeanine Lalonde and her fiance Marc!  We wish you all the best in your wedding planning adventure.

While we are disappointed not to have won, we do have other exciting news to share.  James and I are also contestants in a contest to win awesome cake toppers!!! Check out our story over at Bunny with a Toolbelt!
Image Credits: Bunny with a Toolbelt

Aren't they adorable?!? Other couples will be featured on the site over the next month (you can still enter).  Then from May 2nd to the 7th, there will be voting for the best story.  Mark you calendars now! We'll also remind you when that time comes!  Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Will you be my bridesmaid?

I wanted to do something special for the girls that I was going to invite to be in my bridal party.  As I was cruising through all my wedding blogs and perusing Etsy sites, I saw some really cool ideas for bridesmaid invitations.  I ultimately decided to go the DIY-route and decided that it would only be proper to ask my bridesmaid to join in on this journey with a ring.  After all, this whole "wedding" thing started with a ring!  I then had to decide what kind of ring.  I was looking through ring options online when I saw a locket ring.  It stuck out to me because one of my bridesmaids, Tara, has a very important locket and she gave each of us (i.e. her bridal party) a beautiful locket as a bridesmaid's gift.  So, I decided to figure out how to make a locket ring.  Here is a sneak peak at the end result:

Jewelry/metal glue

1) Bend the pendant section back and forth so that it comes off the charm.  Make sure that there are no sharp edges.
2) Spread a small amount of glue on the ring blank and place it in the center of the bottom of the locket charm.  Make sure that the hinge lines up with the ring itself.
3) Rest the glued sections so that the locket is on the table and the ring balances on top and let the glue dry.  Most jewelry glues recommend 48 hours before wearing the material.
4) Take the picture you want included in the ring (in my case, I provided my bridesmaids with a photo of her and myself as well as a photo of her and her significant other) and reduce it down so that it is .75 inches wide (or slightly smaller if you plan on laminating the photo)
5) Print the photo and cut it into a circle with a .75 inch diameter (or slightly smaller if you are laminating).
Optional: I took my photos to Staples to have them laminated so that if the girls forgot and washed their hands with the ring on, the photo would not be destroyed.
Note: Jewelry glue can be used to secure the photo inside the locket.  I chose not to do this as I gave each girl two photos that could be used in the locket.

I put the ring in a handmade origami box made with wedding-themed scrapbooking paper (purchased from Jo-Ann Fabrics).  I gave this to my girls along with a "Will you be my bridesmaid?" card as well as a Bridesmaid Information card (the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the other bridesmaids and my mom).  Since this was right around Valentine's Day and I had to fill the whole box for mail delivery, I also included some conversation heart candies.

For more ideas on bridesmaid invitations see...
Emmaline Bride Spools
Belly Feathers Lemon Love
Once Wed Chain

Etsy Vendors (just a few of the many options)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Exciting News!

I had hoped to be writing posts more often but grad school life is busy (even over our spring "break)!  James and I had planned on going to Flagstaff this week to check out our final venues (which I haven't posted on yet...stay tuned).  We ended up rescheduling though because James's band, Japhys Descent, is playing in Flagstaff the next weekend.  So, we are trying to combine that trip with venue visits.  I will post pictures and information when we return.

In other updates though, I wanted to let you in on some exciting news.  First of all, I won a fabulous wedding cake banner from the awesome Ready Go Paper Studio, courtesy of Glamour and Grace blog!!!!
Image Credits: Ready Go Paper Studio

This was a wonderful win and was a great way to start this week!  It only got better though because I also found out that I am one of five semi-finalists in Jorge Manuel's Once Upon a Star Contest!!!!  If I win, I will get an absolutely amazing, beautiful Jorge Manuel dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The dress is a strapless ball gown made with taffeta floral detail fabric and silk satin hand-made encrusted bias flowers with hand-embroidered seed bead crystals and a crystal center at bodice with a silk-satin bias sash at waist.  I could totally rock out this dress!!!!

Image Credits: Jorge Manuel Blog

To say I am excited about the Jorge Manuel dress is an understatement!!  Wish me luck!  The winner will be announced on March 30th.  Until then, they will be posting information about the semi-finalists so tune in!

Monday, March 7, 2011

More giveaways

I have entered some more giveaways that I wanted to share with you...

The Alternative Wife is giving away a beautiful kimono robe from Plum Pretty Sugar

Weddzilla is giving away a copy of the book Bridesmaid on a Budget and disposable cameras.

Weddingbee is giving away a beautiful dress and necklace from Shabby Apple.

Project Wedding is hosting a competition with Weddington Way to win 5 free bridesmaid dresses.

Glamour and Grace is giving away a free awesome cake topper from Ready Go!

And there is also a chance for free wedding photography from Simply Sublime!

If you know of other contests, please share in the comments!

Monday, February 21, 2011


I have been feeling lucky about this wedding planning business and all the contests I have entered are paying off!  It was just announced that I won a free copy of the book How I Planned Your Wedding as well as a $50 American Express gift card from the amazing Bridalhood!  Hurry on over to check out this great bridal blog!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Around the Web: Contests this Week

I admit that one thing I love about wedding planning is entering contests/giveaways!  As you can see by my second post here, I already won a beautiful pair of wedding shoes.  I hope to win even more things that can help us keep costs down.  Periodically, I will share with you open contests.  Some are open to friends and family of the bride to enter so if that is the case, please enter for me!  Who knows, it could be something that helps you out! Thus, without further ado, contests open this week...

Borrowed & Bleu is giving away a beautiful hand-beaded floral lace garter from 28Pshop.  There are 12 different ways to enter!

Borrowed & Bleu also posted about a free honeymoon/vacation from Just Luxe.

Emmaline Bride is giving away a fancy bowtie from Something's Hiding in Here.

The Broke-Ass Bride has giveaways every week that you are automatically signed up for if you receive the newsletter.  This week it is a cool DIY wedding invitation package.

Bride's Buddy is giving away 50 Save-the-Date cards from Etsy seller CDK Designs.

You also have the opportunity to win free wedding photography from the amazing Cengiz at Adagion Studios!

I am sure that there are more contests going on out there so feel free to share more in the comments!  And good luck if you are entering!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Location: Part 3 - Historically Important Venue Options

I've read posts by several Flagstaff area brides that claim that there aren't that many venues in the area but I beg to differ.  That is why I am posting about all sorts of venues that we have looked at, even if they are out of our price range or have already been eliminated from our list for one reason or another.  For this post, I want to highlight two venues that I really like but just won't do for us.  The first is Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.
Image Credit: Riordan Mansion

I spoke with a Park Ranger at the Northern Arizona Wedding Expo and then went and visited the facility the same day.  It is a gorgeous space and comes at an incredible price!  $200 for four hours per area (both the Veranda pictured above and the Visitor Center are available) plus $2 per person!  You are probably asking yourself right now how we could possibly say that we don't think the facility is right for us if we are trying to do this on a tight budget!  To be honest, Riordan Mansion is still in the running since it is so close to downtown Flagstaff and thus hotels.  The problem is that you can't have live music (it isn't even possible as there are only two low-power power outlets on the Veranda).  The other thing is that you have to be out by 9 PM and by out, they said that meant that everything had to be cleaned up and off the premises.  Initially, I thought this would be fine since a lot of people would be traveling from earlier time zones.  Being completely cleaned up by 9 means being done with the reception probably by 8 though and that is just too early for us to be done celebrating!  This venue would be perfect for a morning or early afternoon ceremony!

One other thing that I wanted to note with the Riordan Mansion is that I did discuss with the Park Rangers the possibility that the park would be closed due to state budget cuts.  The Arizona State Park system has already been through quite an ordeal but there is still a large deficit that needs to be dealt with.  The Rangers said that with the Arizona Centennial in 2012, they do not expect to lose funding before then.  After that, they can't say but they are advocating to keep someone on staff to do private events (such as a wedding) should the Park close to the public.

The other venue I wanted to address is the Museum of Northern Arizona.  This is a privately run facility so it is not reliant on the state government but is still susceptible to the economic issues of the state.  I would love to be able to give my money to this venue instead of to some other corporation as I really support the work that MNA does!
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Lobby of the Reception Area

I also visited this venue on the day of the Northern Arizona Wedding Expo and it is a wonderful space.  Unfortunately, they don't allow dogs anywhere on the grounds which would eliminate Mortimer as our ring bearer!  The price of the facility is more than we were hoping for as well.  It is a flat rate of $1000 for ceremony and reception on site with an charge of $25 per person.  There is also no lodging near the Museum so we would either have to provide shuttle services or make people drive themselves.  Too bad MNA won't work since they have awesome archaeological collections and dinosaurs (though it costs extra to have the museum open during the reception)!!!!!
A life-size skeletal model of Dilophosaurus

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Location: Part 2 - Venues we probably can't afford

We are determined to limit the costs of this wedding.  My goal is to do both receptions and the ceremony for under $10,000!  We'll see if we can stick to it.  Keeping the budget in mind, some venues just seem out of our price range.  One is a place that was initially my dream location: Foxboro Ranch Estates.

Image credit: Foxboro Ranch Estates

I initially found Foxboro Ranch Estates through Offbeat Bride and did some searching to find some other brides who had used the facility and blogged about it.  A few weeks ago my friends Laura and Hannah went with me to the Northern Arizona Wedding Expo and we stopped at Foxboro Ranch Estates on the way home.  A very lovely lady named Lynn showed us around and also gave us the prices.
Reservation Fee: $500
Event Fee: $1500
Cleaning/Damage Deposit: $500
Security: $250

These prices are just for the space and do not include any other vendors or discounts with other vendors. It really isn't all that much comparatively but it is a bit out of our price range.  What I loved about it was the ability to have all that space.  For the price, you can have the ceremony outside on the grounds (most people use one of the bridges) as well as an indoor and outdoor reception space (the lodge seen in the photos).  You can use the facility until midnight and because there is nothing else around, there is no sound limit.  This would be great for us as we hope to have live music (courtesy of James's friends).  The location has few flaws but I have managed to talk myself out of disappointment by noting that we would really like to have a venue with lodging on site.  This is important as everyone would have to travel to the wedding venue and we will be serving alcohol and we don't want to worry about anyone driving.  I am also concerned that much of the land is set to be built on and I am worried that there will be construction equipment when we are there or that the landscape will look different than what I can now see and imagine.

A similarly priced venue that we also considered was The Arboretum at Flagstaff.  I have not actually been to this location but the pictures are beautiful!

Rental of the garden space for a ceremony and the Walter Reichardt House for the reception starts at $2400.  The problem with this venue however is that you must be done by 9 PM and there is no lodging close by.  These two things combined with the price make it a beautiful location, but not the one for us.  We are still searching though!!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Location: Part 1 - An Arizona Wedding

James and I are planning on getting married in the summer of 2012 in northern Arizona (think Flagstaff area).  Since we are both from the midwest (Ohio/Michigan area) this may seem strange.  It wasn't my idea actually but was something that James came up with all on his own.  And I heard about it secondhand.  As far as I know, it goes back to August of 2008 when we returned to Ohio for my college roommate (and now bridemaid!) Tara's wedding.  I was a bridesmaid in her wedding (sidenote: thank you for that honor, Tara and AJ!) which meant that James spent most of the day of the wedding hanging out with our friend Liz.  It was to Liz that he mentioned having a destination type wedding in Northern Arizona.  She told me what he said and then James and I talked about it (though in broad terms since we still weren't ready to actually plan a wedding) and the idea has sort of stuck.  Having gone back to Ohio for 2 other college friend's weddings since (one being my other college roommate and now bridesmaid Jilko!), the concept became more appealing.  James and I are both opinionated and stubborn people and we both have strong ideas about what we want out of the wedding.  Also, while we often complain about not liking Phoenix, we love the scenery around Arizona, especially the beautiful forests around Flagstaff.  Arizona is also where James and I adopted Mortimer (our dachshund and ring bearer) and where we became a family.  We've been together almost 7 years and more than half of that has now been in Arizona and by the time of the wedding, it will be closer to 2/3 of our relationship spent here.  

Logistically we know that an Arizona wedding will be inconvenient for some people.  However, most of our friends have spread out across the country and while most of my family lives in Ohio, James' family lives in Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina, Georgia, California, and Arizona.  A lot of people we want to have at the wedding would have to travel no matter where it was located.  We've also established a wonderful network of people here in Arizona.  Two of my girlfriends from grad school (shout out to Andrea and Laura) will also be serving as bridesmaids and I have a number of other friends that I will be calling on to help with planning details.  James has also become involved in the local music scene which means cheap (and possibly free) wedding entertainment!

We are planning on hosting a second reception in central Ohio for family and friends that cannot make it to the Arizona wedding.  I love this idea because I can wear my dress more than once and I don't have to only pick one invitation or one favor...we can have different ones for the different receptions!  What more could a girl want!  

So that's all for now.  The next few posts will focus on our hunt for a wedding venue!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I was going to orient the first real post around our location options but things are a bit crazy right now and this came up first!  I have entered a ton of bridal giveaways and I won one!  This one was from Last Minute Bride, a wedding shop based in Los Angeles.  I won an awesome pair of shoes from Jen + Kim for Coloriffics.

Check out Last Minute Bride's post announcing my win here!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Thank you for joining us in our wedding journey!  Here we will be posting our wedding ideas as well as sharing ideas that we can't incorporate but love!  Enjoy!