Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Preparations and CAKE!

After the hectic nature of Ritha's wedding we returned back to our own wedding

planning. Sunday morning was spent stuffing, stamping and sealing our wedding invitations. We've already started to get RSVPs, which is so exciting! We also completed possibly the most important part of planning, CAKE TASTING! A friend of mine from Kaplan's girlfriend is a baker and she not only makes beautiful cakes, but as we found out on Sunday, very tasty ones as well! We decided to go with a traditional wedding cake that Landry was far more into designing than I expected him to, but I always welcome his wedding planning enthusiasm. We're also doing two specialty cakes, but those will be a secret until the big day. I can tell you that they're super awesome! We decided on pound cake with fudge frosting for the cake that will feed most of our guests since this seemed to be a real crowd pleaser at the tasting (and by crowd pleaser I mean Landry and I both agreed on it!) One of our specialty cakes will be Landry's favorite flavor, which was

pound cake with caramel frosting and the other will be my favorite, fudge cake with peanut butter frosting. Yum, I can almost taste it!

Last night we spent two hours hanging out in the basement studio of our DJs going over music selections and the schedule for our reception. I was psyched about their work before this meeting, but now that we've had it I'm officially giddy. They're so all about personal service I just can't get over it. They're going to incorporate our French music, African music, my Motown and oldies background, and our current love of hip-hop into a personal library of music basically hand picked by us! There won't be one song played at our wedding that we don't absolutely love! How many brides and grooms get to say that??

Wedding Weekend! (Not Mine of Course!)

This weekend was a whirlwind of wedding activity, but most of it had nothing to do with my wedding. This weekend was Ritha's wedding. I met Ritha this past year and got to know her very well when she lived with Landry and I for about six months. Ritha is from the Congo and so her wedding had a lot of very traditional components. Despite having lived in Africa for a period of time, I've never really seen the cultural side of an African wedding play out and it was definitely a unique experience. I think what was so breathtaking about the cultural ceremony on Friday night was the incredible diversity and the feeling of family despite very few of the participants actually being related at all. This was a traditional Congolese wedding ceremony being held in a North Philadelphia home where an Irish immigrant and an African American woman gave away their Congolese daughter for marriage. They stood united as a family and the Irishman was as protective of his African daughter as any father would be on the day of his daughter's marriage. It just really solidified the idea that family is exactly what you make of it.

Saturday was a whirlwind of hair, make-up, dresses, pictures, eating, drinking and laughing. The wedding started about 45 minutes late....not totally unexpected. And the reception didn't get underway until well after 10pm. Surrounded by African music, French speaking people, and traditional, colorful wedding garments I felt for part of the night as though I was actually in the Congo. It was a welcomed escape from the craziness of my life right now. Ritha and Freddy looked very happy together and I was really honored that they asked me to be a part of their special day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fittings, Hair and Make-Up and Relaxation

Well, before I go into any of the details of this week, I must say that I had the BEST massage I've ever had in my whole life this evening at The Massage Arts Center in Philadelphia. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. I had a 60 minute full body and facial massage for just $40 and it truly was the best massage ever! I have this heinous sunburn on my shoulder and neck from my maid of honor's graduation on Tuesday and this girl was able to massage right over it without so much as a tinge of pain. I know where I'm going for my two-days-before-my-wedding-and-I'm-going-crazy-massage! Check out their website

Okay, enough about my fab massage and onto the wedding details of this week. FINALLY! After much searching I have located and booked a hair and make-up artist for my bridesmaids and my mom. I swear this has been the most stressful part of wedding planning thus far. I found someone very early on that quoted us great prices and I thought we were all set to go, but when I sent her the details on who was getting what services, she had booked another bride for my date. Boo! So then I set out to find another on-site artist with comparable prices and that's where the trouble began. It's INSANE how much people want to charge for on-site hair and make-up services. But, with some help from my bridesmaid Melissa, I was able to locate Just Teasing in Easton, PA. The reviews look good online and her prices can't be beat. I'm waiting to receive the contract in the mail and it will be one more thing to check off the list! And, for those of you who have or are using, that checklist is crazy long, isn't it??

In addition to booking hair and make-up, I'm also finalizing the plans for the flowers. I'm lucky enough to have a cousin that does beautiful floral arrangements and she's going to help us put together the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces for the wedding. We're going with orange calla lilies and asiatic lilies and picasso calla lilies. I can't wait to get everything put together with the fabric Landry's mom bought for us. It's going to be great!

Finally, saving the best for last, I had my first dress fitting this week! It was the most surreal experience ever. I felt like I was trying on this pretty white dress that belonged to someone else. The whole time I was in the dress shop it never dawned on me that I was wearing MY wedding dress. I feel a little guilty because I wasn't acting super crazy and excited like you see those girls on "Say Yes to the Dress." My mom asked me if I loved it and I gave this dazed, half sincere yes. So weird! It's not that I don't love my dress, because I absolutely do, but it didn't hit me until I was walking home from work last night that I have a wedding dress! I'm posting some teaser pics here, blurred and super close up for a reason, but obviously I can't post the whole dress! Oh, and the best part, I don't even need alterations right now! The dress fits me to a T, just as it is. Once I get my shoes from my super fabulous friend Anisa in India I may not even have to get it hemmed! Wouldn't that be a great save!

More to come soon....meetings coming up with cake bakers and DJs and the invites are going out in just over a week. Oh! And, maybe the best news of all, Landry will be home in less than a week!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

So many new things!

Writing today's blog is a little bittersweet for me. I'm SO excited because my wedding shower invitations were delivered this weekend and they're so cute! Exactly what I would have wanted for a Bridal Shower Tea. My custom made orange blossom hair comb also arrived this week and it's just as gorgeous as I had hoped. I must give props to Maria at St. Jude's Creations for making this hair comb. If you're looking for anything involving hand-made flowers, Maria is your girl. You can check her out at She also sells her creations on

In the midst of my excitement, I'm feeling a little bummed because Landry isn't here to share all of these little things with me. Not that I really think he'd be jumping for joy over a hair comb or an invitation, but it would be nice to show him these things in person. Instead, I'm sharing them via video chat on Skype while he's in China. He's there playing basketball and it's an amazing opportunity for him, but he was supposed to be home on June 3rd. Then they were playing so well, their Chinese hosts decided to extend the trip until June 15th. Just today I found out that they wanted him to stay until July 20th. He told them it wasn't a possibility, but we talked about it and decided he should take as much of the opportunity as he can, so now he won't be home until the end of June. It's been a rough three weeks without him so far and I'm really not looking forward to another three, but I realize that this is where he needs to be. And there's nothing immediate about our wedding that he needs to be here for. We'll send out the invites the first week in July and reschedule meetings with our cake baker and DJ. I just can't wait to get a confirmation of his travel dates so that we know for sure exactly when he'll be home.

In the meantime I'm looking forward to the next exciting milestone, my first dress fitting! Probably not for another week or two, but we'll see what develops that's exciting to talk about in the meantime.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Props to Our Vendors

I decided that the very first thing I needed to do after introducing this blog was to give props to all of our AMAZING vendors. We have felt our wedding was blessed from the moment we started planning. It seems like ALL of our vendors are not only phenomenal at what they do, but they were priced exactly for what we needed and they've all take the time to get to know us personally. We are 110% confident that our day will be flawless because of these wonderful people. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about any of them and if you decide to go with them, please tell them that Suzen and Landry sent you!

Ballroom 19 @ Hibachi
325 Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Contact: Wai Chan 302-373-8318

I know, I know, Hibachi sounds a little unconventional for a wedding venue. However, this restaurant is located on the top floor of the same building as Dave and Busters on Penn's Landing. It has a ballroom with hardwood floors, enough seating for 200-250, and floor to ceiling windows that give panoramic views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, Delaware River, and boat docks. If you're lucky on a summer night you may get a free fireworks show care of the Camden Riversharks baseball team. Despite it's phenomenal location, the pricing for this venue is easily $50 less per person than any other spot on the river. In addition, the owner, Wai Chan is incredibly accommodating and welcomes you and your family into his restaurant as many times as you want before your event. He even gave us tickets to his New Year's Eve party!

BG Productions

This husband and wife team are not only incredibly talented, but they pride themselves on getting to know each couple personally to provide the best services possible. Cathie and Al open up their home to their clients for a Holiday Party in the winter and a Customer Appreciation Party in the spring. On their website you can find photos of clients who started with engagement sessions then moved on to wedding, maternity, and family photos and are still present at the parties. They are the kind of people you find and want to share all of the special moments in your life with. They are open to working with any budget and we are soooo lucky to have them! You can see some photos from our engagement session as examples of their work.

Roots and Groove

Adam and John of Roots and Groove are great to work with and they know their music like no other! When we contacted them for DJ services they invited us over to Adam's house where they sat with us in their basement studio to talk about exactly what WE wanted for our wedding. As Adam took notes, John started spinning music we were talking about on the spot. Roots and Groove strives to provide the most personalized music possible for your event and you are guaranteed no generic Chicken Dance, Electric Slide, It's Raining Men music....unless of course that's what you're looking for!

Noelle's Sweets

Stephanie, owner of Noelle's Sweets, is a friend's girlfriend and we've had her in our sights for our cake almost since we got engaged. She's an experienced and accomplished baker who makes incredible custom cakes that not only look amazing outside, but taste incredible on the inside. Her prices are also less than what you'll see with any standard bakery.

Invitation Pie

We feel as though we got incredibly lucky with our invitations. My fiance is from Africa and his native language is French. It was very important to us that we do everything we could bilingually, but finding a company willing to do AFFORDABLE bilingual invitations was a challenge. We also wanted to customize our invitations with a graphic taken from cloth that my fiance's mother bought us in Africa. Sandy at Invitation Pie was incredible to work with. She custom designed our invitations and even rushed our order for us so that we could get them out to our overseas guests early. We ordered 85 custom designed, bilingual invitations and paid just $333! I dare you to find a better deal than that! I've attached a few pictures of our invitations for you to see their work.


I would also highly recommend utilizing tools to their fullest. It's a free website and you can link your guest list so that your guests can RSVP online and then you can build a custom seating chart using those guest that have RSVPed. We also really liked the use of their wedding website and budgeter.

84 Days to Go!

I'm not sure why exactly I waited until 84 days before my wedding to start blogging about the process. It's May 28th and we've been engaged for 469 days. I supposed I could have been writing all that time, but I feel like it's just in the last few days that I've found myself incredibly excited for my wedding. Before now it didn't seem real. But in the last few weeks my bridesmaids have been in full shower planning mode, my dress has come into the dress shop, and my friend Anisa is sending my wedding shoes, her gift to me, from India.

One of my bridesmaids, Suzy, actually suggested that I start writing a blog months ago. I wrote a blog for the time I spent in Gabon with my fiance in 2008 and got really positive feedback from those that followed it. I do like to write and I think I'll look back on this blog as a great virtual scrapbook of planning. I hope whoever reads this enjoys it and the pics I post. I'm definitely looking forward to sharing the experience!